The Power of Knowledge

The Power of Knowledge

Greek and Muslim scholars were very dissimilar in their methods. Muslim scholars were more into experimentation and practical advancement, whereas the Greeks relied on theoretical and philosophical knowledge.
Yet there is one statement by Aristotle that every Muslim scholar would agree with: “The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead.”

Today, people around the world watching the news look at the few Muslims who are making themselves notoriously renowned, and think: “What a bunch of uneducated and uncivilized people these are.”

This is especially true when you read of schools and colleges being bombed in Islamic countries. Well, this is not only asynchronous to Islam’s teachings, it is the absolute opposite of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
Many Muslims today, for their own personal gains, have conveniently overlooked a very essential cornerstone of Islam: seeking knowledge from the cradle to the grave.

The first word to be revealed to the Prophet was “Iqra'”. This would translate to “Read” in English. So basically, the first command of God to Muslims is to read, for which one needs to be educated.

The revelation then went on to say:

{Read and thy Lord is highly Benevolent; verily He is thy Lord who taught thee with the pen and taught man what he did not know.} (96:3-3)

This clearly implies that the endorsement of the art or science of writing has been bestowed by the Divine power, who commends it as being for the use and benefit of humankind. The Quran itself was revealed in Arabic because it was the language of the people, and the people needed to comprehend the eloquent verses.

The Quran, unlike the Bible or Ramayana is not fundamentally a book on history; it’s a book of ethics, norms, etiquettes, science, and prescriptions for life. It’s not a science textbook, but a book of all the signs in life that humans should give attention to.

It includes stories of some prophets (peace be upon them), with Moses and Jesus highlighted the most, but in comparison to the Old Testament, these are just summaries.

In several sections of the Quran, God has directly ordered humans to observe their environment, and the various elements of life. God says if we learn about the seas, the mountains, and the planets, we would receive the signs of the Lord.

{And He it is Who has made two seas to flow freely, the one sweet that subdues thirst by its sweetness, and the other salt that burns by its saltiness; and between the two He has made a barrier and inviolable obstruction.} (Quran 25:53)

If you provide this statement to someone who comes from a remote village and has had no previous knowledge of anything other than his farm, he would not understand the above lines.

And yet God requires Muslims to understand the Quran. What does this implicate? God wishes that Muslims acquire knowledge about their surroundings; hence God has pinpointed so many facts and analogies in the Quran. Without education, one cannot even fully comprehend the Quran, which is the essence of the religion.

If this inference is too much for people to figure out, God has also given clear instructions in the Quran, and there are many sayings of Prophet Muhammad that ordain the ordinary Muslim to move away from ignorance and acquire knowledge. A very popular quote by Prophet Muhammad is:

“Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

The Golden Age of Islam came about not only because of the curious minds of Muslim scientists, but also due to their obedience to God.

One of the most famous of all Muslim scientists is Ibn Sina — known in the West as Avicenna. He was no doubt a devout Muslim. In fact, from various records we have of him, it was found that if he was stumped during research or experimentation, he would leave his books and head to the mosque, where he would continue to pray till the confusions begin clearing.


Religion and Science
Muslim scientists never distinguished science from religion. As a matter of fact, they felt that Islam encouraged scientific development.

There are two aspects of education/knowledge in relation to Islam: religious and non-religious. There is no limit on any of them. Indeed, there is not much distinction between them, as in the true sense, they are intertwined.

One thing though, is accepted by most Islamic scholars: non-religious knowledge is a benefit only to this world, which is not sufficient for Muslims.

I strongly believe education is not only about acquiring degrees to get better jobs, it’s also for the progress of the community.

The growth of a community usually depends on how knowledgeable the people of that community are. Education is a necessity for the growth and welfare of a nation. Looking at the advanced nations in the world, one can confirm that education plays a strong role in the development of societies.

In an article in the Asian Economist (Oct. 16, 2008), Nhuong Son, a writer, mentions that there are three types of educations (as per general thought). These are: academic, practical, and social. I believe we acquire the first from a formal institute and this helps in acquiring a position in the work world, and hence some financial independence and security. The second and third are what we learn from our environment, which is dominated by our families.

As George Santayana said: “A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”

In order to have an educated child it’s important that the parents, especially the mother, have some acquired knowledge. A mother spends the crucial first years with her children teaching them how to do various things, and passing on her knowledge.

Prophet Muhammad may have been unlettered, but his history proves that he was far from being ignorant and without knowledge. Initially he was a trader, and even though he could not read, he knew the Quran by heart, and could not only quote and recite it appropriately, he also fully comprehended it.

Ali ibn Abi Talib, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, was practically raised by Prophet Muhammad who ensured that Ali acquired all the knowledge possible. Ali is known for his intellectuality and intelligence. He was a beacon of light in the study of the Quran.

Muslim populations don’t have any laws that prohibit women to be educated or seek the highest academic degrees they desire.

Aishah, Prophet Muhammad’s last wife, not only narrated many of his sayings, she even taught many Muslims many laws about Islam during his life and after his death. Another of his wives performed the duties of a nurse during and after battles. She must have surely been educated in anatomy and medicine.

Islam values knowledge and encourages it, for it helps us understand

Source: OnIslam


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