Seeking Knowledge from Islamic Viewpoint

Quran is said to be "the highest miracle of Islam". But why would a book turn out to be the proof of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) prophethood? What does it reveal about the Islam's attitude toward the issue of learning or seeking knowledge?  How does a true Muslim seek knowledge?

There are many verses in the Quran about acquiring knowledge. The very first verse of Quran that was sent to our Prophet starts with an imperative form of the verb "read" (Ighra) [1]. Literacy and having knowledge is so important in Islam that Quran equals illiteracy to being in darkness [i]. Accordingly, it is the duty of any Muslim to try to learn. Besides, many Islamic scholars advise Muslims to strive for achieving knowledge. One of them is a quotation (hadith) from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Seek knowledge, even if it is in China”. Considering the distance of Arabian Peninsula (where the Prophet lived) and China as well as lack of transportation 14 centuries ago, one can imagine how arduous it was to travel there. In addition to many life-threatening dangers, it is no exaggeration to say that it took several months to arrive there. This shows the emphasis on the importance of learning.

seeking knowledge, education, learning, Islam

When the prophetic mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) started, most people in his land were illiterate, so, he asked the literate ones to teach Muslims; even prisoners of war were granted freedom provided that they taught literacy to at least ten Muslims. It has been said that once, the Prophet (PBUH) entered a mosque and saw two groups of people; one group was praying and the other was sharing knowledge. He stated that both of them were doing a good job, and then continued his speech by saying that he was sent to people by God “to teach” them. So he went and sat in the second group [2]. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was alive, there were places like schools where both women and men had the freedom to take part in classes. And, different fields of knowledge were learned including religion, literature, poetry, rhetoric, medicine, astronomy, etc [3].

learning, education,seeking knowledge, books, Islam

A human being is curious by nature. We have been created with an inquiring mind. It has been said that all human beings are bestowed a gift, that is brain as well as the desire for learning. The desire to learn is in our nature [4]. In Islamic instructions, there is a huge emphasis on the value of seeking knowledge. It has been quoted from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”. It is a must for every Muslim regardless of their age, race, or gender [5]. All the people must have the ability and liberty to learn, teach, exchange and share information. It does not matter from whom you are learning. As long as they have the knowledge, it would be perfect. There is an Islamic hadith from the fifth Imam of Muslims, Imam Muhammed Al-Bagher (AS), quoted from Jesus Christ (AS) saying that: “Learn knowledge from someone who has it and do not look at their deeds.” There is no kind of prejudice whatsoever in choosing the teacher. The only important thing is the learning itself. Besides, ignorance has been known as the root of many miseries; and knowledge is like a vast amount of treasure that never runs out.

Notes:

[i]. (13:16)

References:

[1] Ahamiyate Danesh-Andoozi az Nazare Eslam [the Importance of Learning from the Islamic Point of View], Akhlagh va Irfan [Morality and Mysticism], http://akhlagh.porsemani.ir, 2016.

[2] Morteza Motahari, "Talim va Tarbiyat Dar Eslam [Education in Islam]", Sadra, p. 22, 2008.

[3] Soheyla Jalali, Derakhsheshe Zanane Mosalman Dar Arseye Elm va Farhang Dar Sadre Eslam [Thriving of Muslim Women in Science and Culture during the Early Days of Islam], Pajooheshgahe Oloom va Farhange Islami [Institude for Islamic Science and Culture], http://www.maarefquran.org, 2016.

[4] Morteza Motahari, "Moghadame'I bar Jahanbiniye Eslami. [An Introduction to Islamic Ideology]", Sadra, p. 274, 2004.

[5] Faeze Azimzade Ardebili, Hghe Amoozeshe Zanan Dar Eslam va Gharb [The Right of Learning for Women from Islamic and Western Viewpoint], http://nahad.govir.ir, 2016.