Apr 13, 2012

Seeking Knowledge

By Seema Muhammad Belushi


It is said that the first thing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created was the pen, with which He wrote in ‘The preserved Tablet’, and in it He wrote everything which was to come into existence. This tool which is ‘The Pen’ was created even before the first Human was fashioned.When everything was created and preserved in ‘The Tablet’, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created the first man named Adam who was also the first Prophet sent in the world.

When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created Adam alayhi salaam, the first thing He taught him was names of things which even the Angels in the heavens didn’t know about. And because of this Knowledge ( which was given to Adam), Adam alayhi salaam was honored by the Angels who prostrated to him by Allah’s command. Thus, through knowledge, the superiority of Adam alayhi salaam over the angels was established.

So what is Knowledge? Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something, which consists of information, facts, metaphors, or skills acquired through experience or education. Knowledge is a sign of Allah’s love for a person. Seeking knowledge is a lifelong endeavor. Gaining knowledge is always a beneficial goal to achieve. The benefits of knowledge remain even after one’s death. No person can deny the importance of knowledge as every individual with an open mind can see the various benefits of knowledge around himself.

It is only through knowledge a person can make out right from wrong. It is knowledge which differentiates a human being that from an animal. If a human does not seek knowledge and only spends his life eating, drinking and giving birth then what is the difference between a human and an animal?

It is not that we have to have knowledge about each and everything in the whole universe! But it is very important to have basic knowledge about certain things at least, which would definitely help us become better people. So what kind of knowledge should we as Muslims seek? Should we seek only Islamic knowledge? There is no such restriction as knowledge could be both for worldy gain as well as for the hereafter. What’s important is to know that any knowledge which is learned but not implemented into actions would only be a waste in life.

What role does knowledge play in a person’s life? I would say everything is connected with knowledge in many different ways. Whatever we are in life today is because of knowledge. (For instance I would not be wrting this article if I did not know how to read or write! That’s my knowledge). Or you (readers) would not have been reading this article if you did not have ‘knowledge’. In Islam seeking knowledge has always been given importance which is verified from this hadeeth:

The Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, "Who takes the path hoping for knowledge, Allah makes easy for him the path to Paradise. Verily, the angels lower their wings for the seeker of knowledge out of pleasure of what he is doing. Verily all in the heavens and earth seek forgiveness for the knowledgeable, even the fish in the water. The excellence of the knowledgeable over the servant is like the excellence of the moon on the night of the full moon over all the planets.Verily, the learned are the heirs of the Prophets, the Prophets do not leave dinar or dirham, but they are inherited in knowledge, and he who takes it takes a great bounty." Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah, and Ibn Habbaan.

Seeking knowledge has always been a part of the lives of all of the prophets of Islam from Adam alayhi salaam to the last Messenger Sallallahu alayhi wasalam. When Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasalam was sent the first revelation the word 'Iqra' (read) was the first word of the Holy Quran to be revealed:

"Recite in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clinging substance. Recite and your Lord is the most Generous. Who taught by the pen. Taught man that which he knew not." (Surat Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

These verses from the Qur’an sturdily mention two things which are very essential in seeking knowledge, the first one is ‘Read’ and the second one is ‘The Pen’ which is a vital device for knowledge. Reading marks the foundation of any hearty path to seek knowledge. Read to understand and write what you understood.

The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam declared that it was mandatory for every man and woman to seek knowledge, and in this path of knowledge, if the seeker died, he would be a martyr. Seeking knowledge is actually an act of worship. It pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to the extent that in the Quran there is a verse which says:

"So high [above all] is Allah, the Sovereign, the Truth. And, [O Muhammad], do not hasten with [recitation of] the Qur'an before its revelation is completed to you, and say, "My Lord, increase me in knowledge." (Surat Ţāhā 20:114)

Without knowledge a person’s life is nothing but darkness, Knowledge is a light which enlightens the hearts. Imam Rajab describes knowledge in beautiful words:

“Acquire knowledge because doing so is good. Seeking it is worship. Reviewing it is glorifying Allah. Researching it is jihad. Teaching it to the ignorant is charity. Serving the scholars is a way of drawing near to Allah because knowledge is the path of ascension to the stations of Paradise. It is a companion in isolation and a comrade in distant lands. It speaks to you in solitude. It is a guide to prosperity and a shield against adversity.” Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (Warathatu’l-Anbiya’)

And how can we forget the doctor of the ‘hearts’ Imam Ibnul Qayyim al Jawziyya who says about knowledge:

The best that the souls have acquired, and that the hearts have obtained, and that with which the slave has attained prestige in this world and the hereafter – is knowledge and faith. And for that, the Exalted has linked them in His saying: ‘Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe (have faith), and those of you who have been granted knowledge.’ (Al-Mujadilah:11)

Anyone person who is seriously considering to seek Knowledge for Allah’s sake should be sincere in his heart as:

“Seek knowledge, because seeking it for the sake of Allāh is a worship; and knowing it makes you more God-fearing; and searching for it is jihād, teaching it to those who do not know is charity, reviewing and learning it more is like tasbīh. Through knowledge Allāh will be known and worshiped. With the knowledge, Allāh will elevate people and make them leaders and imāms, who will in turn guide other people.” Ibn Taymiyah - rahimahullāh

Lastly if you want to be close to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then go and seek knowledge and also teach it to others. Seek KNOWLEDGE: that which guides and prepares you for the Hereafter, not INFORMATION which merely assists and entertains you in this world.

We ask Allah, most high, to grant us knowledge and faith – they are the greatest and highest of the gifts of the Most Merciful. Their people are the best of the best, their very core. They are the ones qualified for the high levels and lofty statuses… ameen!


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