The Holy 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 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 the Quran that was sent to our Prophet starts with an imperative form of the verb "read" (Ighra) . 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&HP): “Seek knowledge, even if it is in China”. Considering the distance between the Arabian Peninsula (where the Prophet lived) and China as well as the 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.
When the prophetic mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) 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&HP) 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 . When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) 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 .
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 the brain as well as the desire for learning. The desire to learn is in our nature . In Islamic instructions, there is a huge emphasis on the value of seeking knowledge. It has been quoted from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP): “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”. It is a must for every Muslim regardless of their age, race, or gender . All 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 does 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.
- Ahamiyate Danesh-Andoozi az Nazare Eslam Akhlagh va Irfan
- Morteza Motahari, "Talim va Tarbiyat Dar Eslam [Education in Islam]", Sadra, p. 22, 2008.
- Soheyla Jalali, Derakhsheshe Zanane Mosalman Dar Arseye Elm va Farhang Dar Sadre Eslam Pajooheshgahe Oloom va Farhange Islami
- Morteza Motahari, "Moghadame'I bar Jahanbiniye Eslami. [An Introduction to Islamic Ideology]", Sadra, p. 274, 2004.
- Faeze Azimzade Ardebili, Hghe Amoozeshe Zanan Dar Eslam va Gharb [The Right of Learning for Women from Islamic and Western Viewpoint
Have you ever thought about sacrificing what you love most? How would you feel then? What if you lose that to gain a better thing; something that would make you a better person, more worthwhile? If you can sacrifice what you love most, to give it away or leave it behind, and if you do that to get near to your merciful sustainer, Allah, then you can feel the spirit of eid al-Adha with all your heart. In what follows, we will delve more into one of the most significant occasions in the Islamic calendar, eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Adha or eid al-Qurban is the second greatest feast among Muslims which is celebrated on the tenth of Dhu al-Hijjah every year around the world. This day, also marks a part of Hajj rituals at a place called Mina near Mecca, where the pilgrims are supposed to offer a sacrifice to commemorate Prophet Abraham’s (PBUH&HP) act in submitting to Allah’s will and sacrificing his son, Ishmael (PBUH), for His sake . We will recount Abraham’s (PBUH) moving challenge in the following paragraphs.
Doing Ghusl on the day of Eid al-Adha is highly recommended (mustahab).
This prayer is precisely the same as the Eid al-Fitr prayer [i].
It is compulsory upon those participating in Hajj whether Hajj al-tammattu or Umrah. This act is also recommended for the Muslims who haven’t been attended the Hajj rituals. It is also recommended to share the sacrificial meat with other people, especially those in need so that everyone would have a part in the joy of this day.
Those who are present in the desert of Mina on this day must recite these Takbirs after daily prayers, starting from the noon prayer on the day of Eid and ending in dawn prayer of the 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah. However, those who are not present in the desert of Mina on Eid's day should recite the Takbirs after ten daily prayers, starting from noon prayer of Eid's day, to the dawn prayer of the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah. These Takbirs are as follows:
اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ، لا اِلـهَ اِلاَّ اللهُ وَ اللهُ اَكْبَر اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ، و للهِ الْحَمْدُ اَللهُ اَكْبَرُ عَلی ما هَدانا ااَللهُ اَكْبَرُ عَلی ما رَزَقَنا مِنْ بَهیمَةِ الانعامِ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی ما أبْلانا
"Allah is great, Allah is great, there's no god but Allah and Allah is great, To Allah be the praise, Allah is great for He has guided us, Allah is great for he has given us sustenance from cattle, Praise be to Allah for He has tested us." 
Some of the supplications recommended for this day include Du'a al-Nudba, 48th supplication of al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, which starts with: “O God, this is a blessed and fortunate day …”, and the 46th supplication of this book as well.
Note that fasting (Sawm) on this day is forbidden (Haram), just like Eid al-Fitr.
The Arabic word “eid” literally means, “to go back” and generally is a name given to special Islamic celebrations, such as eid al-Fitr, eid al-Mab’ath, eid al-Ghadir, etc. In other words, the Islamic celebrations are in essence a reminder for Muslims to stop and look back at their actions so far, repent from their sins and promise to follow Allah’s lead which has been brought to them by Prophet Muhammad and his progeny (PBUTh).
Al-Adha roots back to the word “Dhuha” in Arabic meaning “the time when the sun is rising before noon.” This word refers to the time when the pilgrims are supposed to offer their sacrifices, which is at the sunrise. Al-Qurban, however, which means “sacrificing,” refers to the act of offering a sacrifice done by pilgrims on this day.
At his old age, Prophet Abraham (PBUH&HP) saw in a dream that he had been sacrificing his beloved son, Ishmael (PBUH), his first child, after many years of being deprived of one, for whose birth he married Hagar and dearly prayed to Allah. He knew that this dream was a message from Allah, and there was no way for him to disobey his Lord. He retold the dream to Ishmael, and he, despite his youth, surrendered to Allah’s will and said, “Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient” (37:102).
It wasn’t a simple task for a father, for sure. But Abraham’s (PBUH) unbending faith in Allah gave him the strength to pull himself together and follow the command. He took Ishmael to an altar and was about to cut his throat when the glad tidings came from Allah that, “You have indeed fulfilled your vision! Thus indeed do We reward the virtuous! This was indeed a manifest test.”(37:105-106). Abraham’s (PBUH) submission, patience, and trust in Allah were, thus, rewarded and a heavenly ram was sent to him to sacrifice instead.
Therefore, every year, Muslims celebrate prophet Abraham’s (PBUH) success in sacrificing what he held dearest for the sake of his dear Lord, leaving no doubt in his sincere love and submission to Him.
Abraham (PBUH) made a sacrifice to remove any barrier between himself and Allah and get as close to Him as possible. Thus, Eid al-Adha is the day to sacrifice anything, which has separated us from Allah and has deprived us of feeling His presence in our lives. The reason behind the commemoration of this day and the significance of Abraham’s story is to remind us that one should ignore his/her whims, sacrifice his/her inclinations and attachments to this world, the dearest of which children and the loved ones, for the sake of Allah and His Will.
In other words, Abraham’s adherence in following Allah’s command, despite the pain he felt and all the fluctuations he might have faced on his way to perform this duty, shows us that for a person who desires to be among the chosen creatures in Allah’s regard, nothing gets in the way between him/her and his/her Lord’s decrees. Nothing is dearer for this person, not even his/her family and children than his/her beloved Creator, Allah. Thus, His will, no matter how hard and painful it may be, goes beyond the love for family and children. On the other hand, when Allah saw Abraham's (PBUH) utter submission to His will even at the expense of sacrificing his son, He considered the test done and granted them a high status in this world and the hereafter. That is the case with every other person who demonstrates the same attitude toward Allah.
In fact, we do not sacrifice for Allah, since He is self-sufficient and not in need of our sacrifices. About sacrificing an animal the Quran says: “It is not their flesh or blood that reaches Allah; rather, it is your piety that reaches Him. Thus has He disposed them for your benefit so that you may magnify Allah for His guiding you. And give good news to the virtuous.” (22:37)
We sacrifice for ourselves, to be a better version of ourselves, to reach perfection. On the path toward perfection, one is always faced with tests and hardships. Trials are signs for us to realize that Allah has seen us worthy of becoming one of His desired creatures. And in every trial, one is required to make a sacrifice; this can be sacrificing your wealth, your life, your selfishness, your grudges, anger, etc. .
[i] Eid prayer consists of two rak'as. After Sura al-Fatiha in each rak'a another sura from the Qur'an is recited; however, it is better to read Sura al-Shams in the former and Sura al-Ghashiya in the latter or Sura al-A'la and Surat al-Shams respectively. After reciting sura in the first rak'a, there are five takbirs followed by five qunuts and in the second rak'a, four takbirs with four qunuts. Any supplications or prayers will suffice in the qunuts, like the other prayer, but it is better to read a special supplication .
Generosity is such an important virtue in the religion of Islam that the holy Quran says with regard to it: “You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear, and whatever you may spend of anything, Allah indeed knows it” (3:92).
As perfect exemplars of this great ethical virtue, the holy prophet (PBUH&HP) and infallible Imams (AS) always recommended their followers to be unconditionally kind and bountiful with people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) stated: “A generous person is closer to Allah, to the people and heaven” 
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“As for him who gives and is Godwary, and confirms the best promise, We will surely ease him toward facility” (92:5-7)
Generosity is one of the qualities of the soul which Allah bestows upon His beloved ones, who are not concerned about material wealth and willingly give to others to make the world a better place and reach God’s satisfaction.
In return, The Bountiful Allah has promised to provide the generous with ease and facility both in this world and the hereafter. Under God’s promise to generous people in the verse above, scientific studies also confirm the ease and happiness generosity would bring about. “A huge review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness was published in the journal BMC Public Health. The results? Volunteering not only improves well-being and life satisfaction, but it is also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early” .
One of the most eminent characteristics of the holy infallible Imams was their generosity. It has been narrated that Imam Hassan (AS) granted his whole wealth twice in his lifetime to win Allah’s satisfaction and improve the life of his fellow human beings. He also divided his property with the poor three times, granting half his wealth to the poor altogether, including his own shoes . Money was only a means for him to help the needy. “Once, he was asked: ‘We do not see you disappoint a beggar. Why?’
He replied: ‘I am asking Allah for His favors, and I love to be near Him. I am ashamed, as I am myself in need of Allah, to repulse a beggar. Allah got me used to a habit; to shower me with His bounties, and I get Him used to me showering His bounties on the people. I fear that should I stop my habit, He may stop His habit.’” 
This implies the verse of the holy Quran that says:
“Be good [to others] just as Allah has been good to you” (28:77)
It is noteworthy, however, that the infallible Imams never sought excessive asceticism. Neither did they ordain absolute abstinence from worldly delights [i]. Although they were sometimes rich, they willingly wanted to lead the life of the poorest people in the society. So that they could sympathize with them, and show the nothingness of the perishable earthly wealth compared with other eternal values.
But does it mean that Muslims have to give all their wealth away generously like their leaders? In fact, this kind of behavior mostly suits the leaders of a community. What Islam expects from the rest of the people is moderation in generosity.
Along with the social and individual benefits of the generosity in Islam for the giver proven by the researchers, ranging from a better outlook on life to having a lower risk of early death, the Quranic verses also name some more spiritual effects of this act of benevolence:
Generosity and charity make us receive the unlimited, immeasurable blessings and mercy of God:
“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:262)
God has guaranteed multiplied reward as the replacement of donation and generosity in this world and the hereafter:
“… and He will repay whatever you may spend, and He is the best of providers’” (34:39)
“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah enhances several fold whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing” (2:261)
God showers his endless blessings upon generous people. He makes it easy for them to follow the path of obedience and charity until they are granted a life free from any fears or difficulties:
“Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:274)
“Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, expect a commerce that will never go bankrupt” (35:29)
“Those who are patient for the sake of their Lord’s pleasure, maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, and repel evil [conduct] with good. For such will be the reward of the [ultimate] abode” (13:22)
In the next part of this article, we will introduce 6 Etiquettes of Generosity and Almsgiving.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “there is no monasticism in Islam” .