Knowledge in Islam
By KNOW Team

Learning the Basics of Seeking Knowledge in Islam

Published in: Self
Date: 28 / 03 / 17

Islam has always promoted knowledge and the pursuit of it. 

Knowledge in the Qur'an

The first verses of the Quran began with the word: “Read.”

The Qur’an mentions the word “knowledge” in various forms 854 times and that many times human beings are asked to think, consider, reason.

Some examples from the Qur’an:

And say, Lord increase my knowledge. (20:114)

And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect. (45:13)

Knowledge since the time of Adam

It is also said that Adam (PBUH) was ‘taught the names of all things’ and it was this knowledge which distinguished him from the angels.

“But Allah commanded the angels to prostrate before Adam, and He explained to them that the way in which Adam enjoyed superiority to them was because: “He taught Adam the names of all things.” [2:31]

“Then Allah commanded the angels to inform the things of their names. When they were unable to do so, they replied: “Glory be to You! We possess no knowledge save what You have taught us.” [2:32]

Humanity has inherited from Adam the ability to acquire knowledge. We are able to learn about the world around us and the things that it contains. We have the power of language and the ability to reason. This is from Allah’s immense favor upon us.

Knowledge as advised by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasised the importance of acquiring knowledge in many ways:
- TIME: "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave."
- PLACE: "Seek knowledge even if it is far as China."
- COMMUNITY: ”Seeking of knowledge is a duty of every Muslim.”
- SOURCE: ”Wisdom is the lost property of the believer, he should take it even if finds it in the mouth of a non-Muslim.”

The Foundation of the Religion

Even the basic tenets - i.e. to have faith (Iman) must be based on knowledge:
"Know! That there is no God but Allah!" [47:19]

"And they will say: "Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!" [67:10]

Islam is a religion that is in harmony with a healthily working intellect. There is no place for blind belief/faith in Islam, for blind belief is not Iman. Often extremism is borne out of a lack of understanding and knowledge.

Combining Spiritual Knowledge with Secular

"In Islam, we do not have any division between the Islamic and secular sciences. Our curriculum should have all the beneficial sciences. You cannot teach Sahih Bukhari without teaching psychology and economics. Bring unity to the curriculum. A divided curriculum will continue the problems.” - Shaykh Dr. Akram Nadwi

“In Islam there is no division between sacred and profane knowledge, and consequently, the pursuit of physical science is an act of ibadah.  It is true that the highest level of knowledge is the knowledge on Din (religion), but the process of knowledge is such that one cannot understand the highest level of knowledge unless one builds up the lower.” - Maulana Fazal-Rahman Ansari

The Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions pushed the early Muslims on a quest for knowledge. Science was not seen to be contrary to the faith. Rather, it was considered to be a religious duty to study and understand. As the Islamic Empire increased in size so did the thirst for more knowledge in all fields.

Profound Muslim thinkers such as Imam al-Ghazali, ibn Sina and ibn Arabi had a profound impact on Islamic thought, especially philosophy, metaphysics and science, at a time when seeking all forms of knowledge was celebrated and considered a means of worshipping Allah.




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