Seeking Knowledge For Muslims In Islam - Importance & Virtues

Restructuring Islamic Education: The Lost Priorities!

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ took a keen interest in promoting education among the Muslims and availed of every possible opportunity to achieve this objective.

  • Reflecting the first command-Read, Recite & Rehearse.
  • Statistical brief of Muslim literacy rate in India (For Ref.)
  • Obligation Towards Education.
  • Emphasis of Quran on Education.
  • Emphasis by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for acquiring knowledge.
  • Intellectual faculties among the companions.
  • The harsh dichotomy.
  • Brief of Islamic golden era.
  • Vigilance against ignorance.
  • Knowledge attainment - a worship.

Islamic Values in Education, Content of Islamic Education, Aim of Islamic Education, Restructuring Islamic Education, learning in Islam, knowledge in Islam , Islam, Muslims, EduIslam

Reflecting the First Command -  "Read, Recite & Rehearse"

We all know that the Quran began its revelation by these following five verses. We all know the famous incident of Jibreel coming to Cave of Hira and telling our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ Iqra and Iqra has 2 meanings in the Arabic language.
  1. The first meaning is to Read from a book
  2. The second meaning is to Recite from memory.
And our Prophet ﷺ understood the first meaning of Iqra means to read from a book and to recite. So He said I don't know how to read .
Ma'ana beqari'n
“I am unable to read” and Jibreel squeezed him and squeezed him until then he said
بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
ٱقْرَأْ بِٱسْمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ
Read: In the Name of your Lord who created.
[Quran, 96:1]

خَلَقَ ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
Created man from a clot.
[Quran, 96:2]
I am not telling you to read, I am not asking you to get a book and read from a book. I am asking you to recite. Recite from what? Memory. No! You don't know anything yet, recite directly from Allah by Allah through Allah. Recite directly, Allah will tell u what to recite. You will become the person through which Allah is speaking, so you should recite Allah's knowledge to people and then Iqra once again. Two Iqras in the same five Ayaaat. What is the second Iqra? Look at what it says:
ٱقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ ٱلْأَكْرَمُ
Read: And your Lord is the Most Generous.
[Quran, 96:3]

Read because your Lord is the most generous. This Iqra is not the First Iqra. You connect the first Iqra with recitation of Knowledge from Allah, Recite Allah's knowledge to people but the second Iqra, Its coming from Allah indirectly. Because Allah says wa rabbukal akram Your Lord is the ever generous. Why is he ever generous? Because he taught man the use of the Pen.
ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِٱلْقَلَمِ
He who taught by the pen.
[Quran, 96:4]
عَلَّمَ ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ
Taught man what he never knew.
[Quran, 96:5]
HE taught man all of these knowledge that they did not know.

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But then why being the first command to read directly by Allah to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has been ignored by us. This may be because we merely claim the love for our Prophet with words only and not in action. This direct message has been overlooked by us so much so that it has been highlighted by the 2011 census data, the utter dismal ignorance of the Muslim community.

Also Read: Concept Of Unity Of Muslim Ummah In Modern Age.

Statistical Brief Of Muslim Literacy Rate In India:

Muslims are the only community to have an illiteracy rate higher than the national rate among all communities (for India).
Source:Census Of India
For Hindus, the figure stands at 36.3%, the second highest proportion of illiterate people.
42.7% of Muslims Illiterate, Reveals 2011 Census Data.
Literacy rates are highest among Jains, at 84.7%, followed by Christians (74.3%), Buddhists (71.8%) and Sikhs (67.5%). For Hindus, the figure stands at 36.3%, the second highest proportion of illiterate people.
Literacy Rate Of Muslims, Islamic Education
Source: Census Of India
  • Unsurprisingly, literate proportions of the population differ for men and women in each of the communities.
  • So with these statistics we can sense the decline of inclination towards our faith and education. 
Are we blind to the reality what is going on around us. So are we not the true followers of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ or are we?
Therefore there is something wrong. We are not doing our job and we have taken the first revealed Aayah as a nominal token and for granted,
which is why this ‘Lack of education fueled the sense of Islamophobia’ in our contemporary society.

Obligation Towards Education:

The first and foremost condition for the vitality of a nation is acquisition of knowledge. In view of this Islam has encouraged the people very much to acquire knowledge and science. As a matter of fact it has made it obligatory for them

Emphasis Of Quran:

قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِى ٱلَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْأَلْبَٰبِ
Say, “Are those who know and those who do not know equal?” Only those possessed of reason will remember.
[Quran, 39:9]

Surah Al-Zumr, ayah 9 reveals:
Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?

يُؤْتِى ٱلْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَآءُ وَمَن يُؤْتَ ٱلْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِىَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّآ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْأَلْبَٰبِ
[Quran, 2:269]
Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 269 reveals:
Allah grants wisdom to whom He pleases and to whom wisdom is granted indeed he receives an overflowing benefit.

Emphasis By Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:

Prophet Muhammad says,
طلبُ العلمِ فَريضةٌ على كلِ مُسلم
It is obligatory for every Muslim, man and woman to acquire knowledge.
It is narrated that one day the Holy Prophet came into the Masjid and saw some people gathered there. They were divided into two groups. Whereas one of the two groups was busy offering prayers, the other was engaged in religious discussions. The Holy Prophet was very pleased to see those people and said:
Both these groups are doing something good but I prefer the group which is busy discussing.
Saying this, he himself joined that group.

Islam attaches so much importance to the acquisition of knowledge that it has declared the path of knowledge and wisdom to be the path leading to Paradise.

The Holy Prophet took a keen interest in promoting education among the Muslims and availed of every possible opportunity to achieve this object. At times it so happened that as a result of wars with the enemies of Islam, some literate people were also captured as prisoners of war. The usual custom in those days was that prisoners of war were released only on the payment of ransom. However, the Holy Prophet always treated these literate prisoners well and agreed to set them free provided they taught at least ten Muslims how to read and write.

Amir al-Mu'minin, Ali said:
The most valuable treasure is knowledge and wisdom and the worst misfortune is ignorance.

Intellectual Faculties Among The Companion:

We shall now examine information about the intellectual abilities of two wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): Khadijah and Aishah.
• Aishah رضي الله عنها , the youngest wife of  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was very talented and possessed an incredible memory. As a Muslim scholar, she is credited with narrating more than two thousand Hadith and was noted for teaching eminent scholars. She had a great love for learning and became known for her intelligence and sharp sense of judgment so much so whenever the companions couldn't figure out an issue of Fiqh, they would go to Aisha رضي الله عنها  & she always seemed to resolve the matter. Her life also substantiates that a woman can be a scholar, exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. The example of Aishah in promoting education, particularly education of women in the laws and teachings of Islam, is a hallmark in female education in Islam. Because of the strength of her personality, she was a leader in every field of knowledge, in society and in politics. • Khadijah Binte Khuwaylid رضي الله عنها, the first wife of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was a wealthy tradeswoman, the richest woman in Mecca at the time, who exported goods as far away as Syria. To manage her large business, she employed several males and to do so then in Arabia, necessitated that you have a high level of understanding and wisdom.
• Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه‎ & Usman رضي الله عنه‎ were the business tycoons at that time. They were very rich. Infact Abu Bakr bought the then slave Bilal رضي الله عنه‎ at heavy cost.
• Musab Ibn Umair رضي الله عنه‎ was among the first memorizer of the Quraan who was labelled as Yusuf of our Ummah by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ He was the first Sahabhi at the age of around 18 who as Daiee went to Medina and convinced Ansars about the Islam with his excellent commnication skills.
Conclusively, the take away message is that Islam promotes education, particularly girls’ education. Had it not been so, the world would not have witnessed the transformation of a society plunged in  anarchy and hegemony into one enlightened with critical thinkers and scholars, all in the span of twenty-three years of Prophethood.

The Harsh Dichotomy:

Allah taught man all of the knowledge that they did not know and as an example Our beloved Prophet Muhammad : صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم‎ said that the first human being to ever write down was the Prophet Idrish (عليه السلام).
If Allah had not taught Prophet Idrish (عليه السلام) how to write no human would ever had learned the art of taking these sounds and putting them down into paper.

We know from the Quraan that Allah taught Prophet Nuh عليه السلام how to build a Ship.

Allah taught Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام how to make things(Iron) malleable.

Infact Allah taught Prophet Adam عليه السلام how to speak. If Allah had not taught Adam عليه السلام how to speak we would be groaning and grunting like the animals communicate with one another.
1. The direct Knowledge is of Sharia, knowledge of morality & ethics, knowledge of the Quraan and Sunnah.
2. And the second knowledge , this is what we called the worldly knowledge(secular knowledge)

Both Knowledge inevitably comes from Allah (Directly & Indirectly).
The Muslim Ummah understood these 2 types of Knowledge from the very beginning. The Ummah never made the distinction between these two types of Knowledge.

Alhamdulillah in the past our Ummah flourished Islamically and Scientifically. They understood there is no contradiction however in the last 400 years, we clearly see the sense of decline we have seen and there were never any tension on both the side.
We do have people who are specialized in the Iqra bismi raabik sciences, these are our Ulema & Imam, Maulana & Mufti. Then we have those who are specialized in Iqra wa Rabbuakal sciences, those who study engineering, medicine, mathematics & Architecture, Anthropology & the fact of the matter is that unfortunately this harsh dichotomy, this binary system of either this or that. Firstly this doesn't existed in classical Islam and secondly there was never any tension between these categories of people. This can be understood more by the paragraph below. Unfortunately let me very brutally honest here is that there are serious problems on both sides of knowledge. Bridging the gap or working towards the solutions? (this topic will be discussed later)

Brief Of Islamic Golden Era:

• Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya was an Arab Muslim woman who is credited for founding the oldest existing, continually operating and first degree-awarding educational institution in the world, The University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fes, Morocco in 859 CE.
• The interesting thing is, that the prodigious polymaths, revered engineers, prolific philosophers and ingenious inventors of the Islamic Golden Age came from a wide array of geographic backgrounds replete with distinctly unique individualistic culture, yet were bound together by an all-encompassing sense of spiritual purpose.   • Al Kindi and Ibn Al Haytham amongst the Arabs; Jabir Ibn Hayan, Al Khwarizimi and Avicenna from the Persians; Al Zahrawai and Al Zarqali from the Moors, are just a few of plethora of brilliant minds that carved out the fate of the known-world through their intellectual prowess, sublime discoveries and captivating contributions to the human endeavour. There were no nationalistic schisms brought on by their differences in linguistic dispositions, heritage or communal hailing
See how backward are we when we exceed in one type of knowledge and leave the other.

Vigilance Against Ignorance:

Centuries old monarchy, colonialism and the oppressive rule of their own people have brought about moral and spiritual degeneration of Muslims throughout the world.

The conditions of the Muslim youth in India today is pathetic as education system these days does not assure good behaviour, rather as we walk down streets we see lot of abusive educated (so called) youth who abuse shamelessly in public to embolden themselves as SMART. They keep whiling away the time in food joints, tea-stalls and cyber cafes. Reckless riding of the bikes on the road, using foul languages, and eyeing up a girl is becoming a norm etc. There is absolutely no focus on education or career. WaAllahi spineless people, draining their energy in unnecessary social media platforms having no spirit, no energy and to make matters worse, you will hardly find this group coming to the masjid or praying regularly.

There is a need to address this crisis immediately.
The reason it seems that secular education system paints the value system as traditional and backward because these values stems from religion.

The present education system based on Capitalist secular system views BENEFIT as crieteria for good and bad. Thus there is nothing in the education system that teaches Values and rathers indirectly criticises it; thus those abusive are indirectly encouraged and we see what we are seeing.

Reviving The Balance:

Islamic education system is based comprehensive idea that entrenches humanitarian values to people thus people respect each other, respect old, women, children, help people in distress, care for neighbours, poor and orphans for the sake of Allah to be recompensed on Akhirah.

Muslims are meant to be self-motivated people and yet the only motivation we find in our youth today is in engaging in different forms of evil. We seek refuge in God from the whispers of the Satan.

To retrieve them from this degeneration, its about time that the Muslim Ummah restructures its educational priorities along Islamic lines, fulfilling the existing needs as well.

By virtue of such an educational program, the future generations will become the torch-bearers of Islamic values and play an effective role in the present world. Today we need an education system which can produce "Muslim philosopher, Muslim scientist, Muslim economist, Muslim jurist, Muslim statesman, in brief, Muslim experts in all fields of knowledge who would reconstruct the social order in accordance with the tenets of Islam."

The Muslims today are the most humiliated community in the world. And should they persist in following the same educational program as given by their colonial masters, they will not be able to recover themselves from moral and spiritual decadence.

Ibn Masud (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: 
The position of only two persons is enviable; the person whom Allah bestowed wealth empowering him to spend it in the way of righteousness, and the person whom Allah gave wisdom with which he adjudges and which he teaches to others.

Islam is our greatest gift. We have to be thankful for this gift. We have to render to Allah His due. Allah has given us so much by making us a part of the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ so we must totally commit ourselves as true followers of the Prophet ﷺ. We must become true Muslims. Do you even think how easy it is for you.

The first and most crucial obligation on us is to acquire knowledge and secondly to practice and preach this knowledge. No man becomes truly a Muslim without knowing the meaning of Islam, because he becomes a Muslim not through birth but through knowledge.

Unless we come to know the basic and necessary teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (S) how can we believe in him, have faith in him, act according to what he taught? It is impossible for us to be a Muslim, and at the same time dwell in the state of ignorance.

It is essential to understand that the greatest gift of Allah? for which we are so over whelmed with gratitude ? depends primarily on knowledge. Without knowledge one can't truly receive Allah's gift of Islam. If our knowledge is little, then we will constantly run the risk of losing that magnificent gift, which we have received unless we remain vigilant in our fight against ignorance.

The similitude of a person without knowledge is like someone traversing in complete darkness, most likely his steps will wander aside and he easily can be deceived by shaytaan. This shows that our greatest danger lies in our ignorance of Islamic teachings and in unawareness of what the Quraan teaches and guidance given by the Prophet ﷺ. But with the light of knowledge we will be able to see the straight path of Islam at every step of our lives. We shall also be able to identify and avoid the dangerous paths of Kufr, Shirk and immorality, which may cross it. And, whenever a false guide meets us on the way, a few words with him will quickly establish that he is not a guide who should be followed.

Every one of us man or woman, should at least acquire sufficient knowledge to enable ourselves to understand the essence of the teachings of the Quraan and the purpose for which it has been sent down & understand clearly the mission, which our beloved Prophet (S) came into this world to fulfil.

We should also recognize the corrupt order and system, which he (s) came to destroy. We should acquaint ourselves, too, with the way of life which Allah has ordained for us & not to be deluded by money and arrogance of those who are in the false sense of being in the pinnicale of civilisation and their life style.

Knowledge Attainment - A Worship:

Knowledge is identified in Islam as worship. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Quran and pondering upon it is worship, travelling to gain knowledge is worship. The practice of knowledge is connected with ethics and morality ? with promoting virtue and combating vice, enjoining right and forbidding wrong. This is called in the Quran: amr bil-l maaruuf wa nah-y aani-l munkar.

Not only should we seek knowledge, but when we learn it, it becomes obligatory on us to practice it. Though we must remember that correct knowledge should come before correct action. Knowledge without action is useless because a learned person without action will be the worst of creatures on the Day of Resurrection. Also, action should not be based on blind imitation for this is not the quality of a thinking, sensible human being.

Knowledge is pursued and practised with modesty and humility and leads to beauty and dignity, freedom and justice.
The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to God. It is not simply for the gratification of the mind or the senses. Knowledge accordingly must be linked with values and goals.

One of the purposes of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, arrogance and in the reckless pursuit of higher standards of material comfort.

Another purpose of knowledge is to spread freedom and dignity, truth and justice. It is not to gain power and dominance for its own sake.

It is impossible for anyone to gain anything more than a fraction of what there is to know in the short span of one's life. We must therefore decide what is most important for us to know and how to go about acquiring this knowledge.
The following ahadith shows how important and how rewarding knowledge is.
He who acquires knowledge acquires a vast portion.
If anyone going on his way in search of knowledge, God will, thereby make easy for him the way to Paradise.

We, the children, are the future. The future lies in our hands, but only through knowledge because whoever neglects learning in youth, loses the past and is dead for the future.
The great poet Allaama Muhammad Iqbal wrote:
Mohabbat Mujhe Un Naujawanon Se Hai
Sitaron Pe Dalte Hain Jo Kamand.
"I have love for those youngsters for whom the stars are not out of bounds.”

Iqbal wanted to see the youth to be optimistic and creative, who can pull down the stars to himself. However, most of the Muslim youth nowadays are deluded. As Sheikh Ahmed Dedat rightly said today's youth have No vision. No focus. No education. No desire to grow. No desire to attain success in both this life and the next.

May Allah (SWT) give us strength to behave and act just as HE عز و جل likes us to do and be pleased with us, and that should be the purpose of our lives. May Allah make us among those who have true beneficial Ilm, spiritual and worldly and : ربِّ زِدْنِي عِلْماً "Oh my lord increase me (make me a better person) by means of Knowledge". 

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