Knowledge is highly regarded and plays a central role in the life of a believer. Islamic scholars and theologians have defined knowledge in numerous ways. Islam defines knowledge from the Quran and Hadith, the sayings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Definition of Knowledge in Islam
“In Islam, knowledge (referred to as “ilm” (علم) in Arabic) refers to the deep understanding and awareness acquired through learning, reflection, and experience, especially in matters related to the divine, religious teachings, moral conduct, and the world. It encompasses both religious and worldly knowledge, emphasizing the importance of seeking wisdom and understanding in all aspects of life.” That’s why the importance of knowledge in Islam is very crucial.
ٱقْرَأْ بِٱسْمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ١خَلَقَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ ٢ٱقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ ٱلْأَكْرَمُ ٣ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِٱلْقَلَمِ ٤عَلَّمَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ ٥
“Read, ˹O Prophet,˺ in the Name of your Lord Who created—created humans from a clinging clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen—taught humanity what they knew not. Surah Al-Alaq (96:1-5).”
Quranic Verses and Hadith on Seeking Knowledge
Many Quranic verses (Allah’s order) and Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH) emphasize the significance of learning. Some famous Quranic and Hadith verses on seeking knowledge:
Knowledge as an Obligation
“O believers! When you are told to make room in gatherings, then do so. Allah will make room for you ˹in His grace˺. And if you are told to rise, then do so. Allah will elevate those of you who are faithful, and ˹raise˺ those gifted with knowledge in rank. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do. Surah Al-Mujadila (58:11).”
This verse indirectly emphasizes the elevated status of those given knowledge and suggests that believers should actively seek knowledge and show respect for those who possess it.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)
The Hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) unequivocally states that seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim. In addition, this hadith clarifies that acquiring knowledge is not a matter of choice but a religious duty every individual should fulfill.
Knowledge as a Means of Understanding
“Oh Allah, honor me by the light of understanding and take me out from the darkness of doubt and open upon us the doors of your knowledge and open upon us the treasure of your recognition, oh the best of the Merciful ones. Oh Allah, and give me Tawfeeq to study and solve all the difficult problems through books. By your mercy, oh the best of the merciful ones.”
Knowledge as a Source of Guidance
Knowledge is a source of guidance in Islam, as it allows believers to understand and implement divine revelations. So, the Quran and Hadith provide clear guidance for all aspects of life, and knowledge is the key to interpreting.
“He has revealed to you ˹O Prophet˺ the Book in truth, confirming what came before it, as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel (Quran 3:3)”
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“I have left among you two precious things and if you adhere to both of them, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is my Ahlul Bayt.” (Sahih Muslim)
Knowledge and the Pursuit of Excellence
“He is also subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth—all by His grace. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect. (Quran 45:13)”
Pursuing knowledge is seen as a means of excelling in one’s endeavors and utilizing the blessings and resources provided by Allah for the betterment of society. Thus, knowledge is a path to excellence in various fields and is an opportunity for personal and collective development.
Knowledge and Moral Uprightness
“˹Are they better˺ or those who worship ˹their Lord˺ devoutly in the hours of the night, prostrating and standing, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of their Lord? Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” None will be mindful of this except people of reason. (Quran 39:9)”
Knowledge is not just about intellectual understanding but also moral and ethical conduct. Also, those who possess knowledge are expected to use it for the betterment of society, upholding justice, compassion, and righteousness. Therefore, knowledge is a means to foster morally upright behavior.
Knowledge as a Means of Worship
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“Seeking knowledge is a form of worship.” (Al-Bayhaqi)
In Islam, seeking knowledge is considered an act of worship. It is a way for believers to draw closer to Allah by acquiring knowledge that helps them fulfill their religious duties and live a life by divine guidance.
Knowledge as a Source of Blessings
“Exalted is Allah, the True King! Do not rush to recite ˹a revelation of˺ the Qur’an ˹O Prophet˺ before it is ˹properly˺ conveyed to you, 1 and pray, “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (Quran 20:114)”
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Types of Knowledge in Quran in Terms of Obligation
In Islamic jurisprudence, knowledge is categorized into two primary types in terms of obligation: “Individually Obligatory Knowledge” (farḍ ʿayn) and “Communally Obligatory Knowledge” (farḍ kifâyah).
Here are the definitions of these categories, along with Quranic and Hadith references:
Individually Obligatory Knowledge (farḍ ʿayn)
This refers to knowledge obligatory for every Muslim. It is the knowledge that every adult, sane Muslim, is personally responsible for acquiring. Failing to acquire this knowledge is considered a sin. In addition, this is the fundamental Islamic knowledge any Muslim must know.
Communally Obligatory Knowledge (farḍ kifâyah)
This refers to knowledge obligatory for the Muslim community as a whole. Everyone doesn’t need to possess this knowledge, but there must be a sufficient number of individuals within the community who have it.
“Let there be a group among you who call others to goodness, what is good, and forbid what is evil—it encourages them who will be successful. Surah Al-Imran (3:104)”
Importance of Acquiring and Guiding Knowledge in the Quran
The Quran places a profound emphasis on the importance of acquiring and guiding knowledge. In fact, Islam views knowledge as a way to understand the world and the divine and live by Allah’s commandments. By getting islamic and quran knowledge anyone can become an islamic scholar. The Quran emphasizes knowledge in these verses:
1. Surah Al-Alaq (96:1-5): This set of verses is often considered the first revelation received by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It emphasizes reading and using the pen as tools for acquiring knowledge.
2. Surah Ta-Ha (20:114): This verse emphasizes supplicating Allah for increased knowledge, indicating that knowledge is a source of divine blessings. Believers are encouraged to seek more knowledge and understanding.
3. Surah Az-Zumar (39:9): This verse poses a rhetorical question, asking if those who know are equal to those who do not know. In addition, it highlights the distinction between those who possess knowledge and those who do not, emphasizing the superior position of those who seek knowledge.
4. Surah Al-Mujadila (58:11): This verse indicates that those given knowledge are to be raised by degrees. In fact, it implies that believers should actively seek knowledge and show respect for those who possess it.
5. Surah Al-Baqarah (2:269): This verse states that Allah gives wisdom to whom He wills and that those who are given wisdom have been given much good. Besides, it implies that knowledge is a source of excellence and virtue.
In conclusion, in pursuing knowledge and understanding, may you find wisdom, guidance, and a deeper connection to the world and the divine. In Islam, knowledge enhances faith, fosters understanding of the divine message, and promotes a purposeful and morally upright life. Remember that knowledge is a powerful tool for personal growth, moral guidance, and contributing positively to society.
Most Important FAQs
What is the main source of knowledge in the Quran?
The main source of knowledge in the Quran is divine revelation. Muslims believe that the Quran is the ultimate source of guidance and knowledge, and it contains the teachings and guidance of Allah (God) as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
What did Prophet Muhammad say about knowledge?
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasized the importance of seeking knowledge. One of his well-known sayings is: “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” So, this hadith underscores the obligation of acquiring knowledge in Islam.
What is the highest form of knowledge according to the Quran?
According to the Quran, the highest form of knowledge is knowledge of Allah (God) and understanding His oneness. The Quran repeatedly emphasizes the importance of recognizing the oneness of Allah, which is the central tenet of the Islamic faith.