We come to this life without any kind of knowledge but with the ability to learn. The source of all knowledge is Allah, the Most High, Who said in the Qur’an:
“And Allah has brought you out of the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and hearts that you might give thanks.” Al-Nahl 16:78
Thus, we should acquire knowledge before we act or decide in all areas of our lives. We tend to base our judgments, decisions, beliefs, acts, etc, on some kind of authority we trust. We spend a great deal of our life going to school to learn because we are aware that we cannot succeed and achieve our goals without the necessary training. Unfortunately, many people do not dedicate the same effort to their salvation or their relationship with their Creator.
Most people, including some Muslims, base their beliefs and religious practices on what they learned from their fore fathers. They follow the practices and traditions of their society. They do not make any effort to examine their traditions to find out if they are doing the right thing. Many of them reject the true teachings of Islam simply because it does not agree with what their fathers believed or practiced.
”Nay!” They say, “We found our fathers following a certain religion, and we guide ourselves by their footsteps.” Just in the same way, whenever We sent a warner before you to any people, the wealthy ones among them said: “We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow in their footsteps.” He said: “What! Even if I brought you better guidance than that which ye found your fathers following?” They said: “For us, we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent” Al- Zukhruf 43:22-24
It is the mercy of Allah, that when people deviate from the right path, He sends messengers to teach them and guide them. Only those who follow the revealed teaching are believers and successful in this life and in the hereafter. When the whole world was in the darkness of ignorance Allah sent the final messenger, Muhammad to show them the right way to believe in God and worship Him. The first revealed ayat (verse) of the Qur’an was:
“Read! In the name of your Lord who has created all. He has created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. He Who has taught by (the use of) the pen, has taught man that which he knew not.” Al-Alaq 96:1-5
The first revelation begins with the word Iqra (read) and comes down to an unlettered prophet living in a country where even knowledge of alphabets is uncommon. This signified that the age of the Prophet Muhammad, Sallah Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was not going to be an age of ignorance but of knowledge, reason, wisdom, and true advancement.
These verses teach man that his belief in Allah should be based on the knowledge that is taught by Allah Himself. They also confirm the fact that the true God is the Creator of all. They simply say that the one who created man is the one who knows what is best for him and can guide him with perfect knowledge. We should know the one true God and know how to please Him and worship Him.
In another verse Allah said:
“Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sins, and for those of the believing men and women: for Allah knows well your moving about and your place of rest in your homes.” Muhammad 47:19
This verse confirms that knowledge should precede practice and acts. First we should know who is our God, His great attributes, how to worship and please Him, and then we should act according to this knowledge.
“They know only the outside appearance of the life of this world: but of the Hereafter they are heedless.” Ar-Rum 30:7
The Messenger of Allah, Sallah Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said:
“ Whoever follows a path seeking knowledge then Allah will make the path to Paradise easy for him. No people gather in a house of Allah’s houses, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, except that tranquility descends upon them, they are covered in mercy, the angels envelope them, and Allah mentions them to those in His presence. Whoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be sped up by his lineage.” Sahih Muslim
After attaining true Islamic knowledge we are obliged to strive hard to perform good deeds, avoid committing sins and never go astray in following the true path to Allah. This religious knowledge will guide us to the correct way of life that embodies the true teachings of Islam. Accordingly, any time spent in search of true religious knowledge will be rewarded by Allah. As Muslims, we believe that this is one of the best forms of worship.
Anyone who wishes to earn the pleasure of Allah and gain the ultimate reward of Paradise should first know how to please and serve Allah. Those looking for the truth should depend on the Final Revelation from God. There they will find guidance and knowledge about Allah, the purpose of our creation and how to fulfill our duties toward Allah. The Messenger of Allah, Sallah Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is the practical example for us to follow. Any belief or practice should be based on these two sources. The companions of the prophet, may Allah be Pleased with them, realized this fact so they always accepted the perfect knowledge of Allah and they never tried to invent anything in the teachings of Allah.
Unfortunately, in the years since the revelation, many Muslims have mixed the traditions of their society with the teaching of Allah. One of the important reasons was because they didn’t fulfill the command of Allah to learn and return to the pure teaching of God.
When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down.” they say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” What! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance! Al-Baqarah 2:170
But how can we keep ourselves on the right way without knowing this way. How can man claim that he is a believer while he does not know who his God is and what his attributes are? How can he do his duties toward Him?
Prophet Muhammad, Sallah Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said: “If Allah wants to do good to a person, He makes him comprehend the religion. I am just a distributor, but the grant is from Allah….” Sahih Bukhari
We know that understanding comes through learning. To see the importance of seeking knowledge, we should remember that Allah didn’t command His prophet to ask for more of anything in this life except knowledge.
“High above all is Allah, the true King! Be not in haste with the Qur’an before its revelation to thee is completed, but say, “O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” Taha 20:114
Say: “Are those equal who know and those who do not know? It is only men of understanding who will learn (from my verses) and remember.” Al-Zumor 39:9
“It is only those who have knowledge among His Servants that truly fear Allah: Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving.” Fater 35:28
The famous Hadeeth of Angel Jibreel, alaihi assalaam, reported by Omar bin Al Khattab, radi Allahu anhu, teaches us many things. One of the most important things in this hadeeth is the way the Angel came to the Prophet, Sallah Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, , in the form of man who is learning from the Prophet. He asked questions and got the answers. When he left, the Prophet, Sallah Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, told his companion about the questioner “it was Jibreel, who came to instruct and teach you the principles of your religion.” This proves that our presence in an educational environment is essential for better understanding of Islam. Learning through reading alone, away from classes is not the best way to get a good Islamic education.
If we can’t attend classes, at least we should depend on authentic sources and keep in touch with scholars and teachers to review what we read and ask about things that are not clear to us. Knowledge is light, with knowledge you can differentiate between good and evil. Allah revealed the Qur’an and sent His messenger to teach us and show us the true knowledge that leads to our salvation.
“Similarly, We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, reciting to you Our Verses, and teaching you the Book and the Wisdom, and teaching you that which you knew not.” Al-Baqarah 2:151
And finally, the Prophet Muhammad, Sallah Allahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said:
“Seeking knowledge is a must upon every Muslim.” Sunan Ibn Mājah 224 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani
NOTE: This pamphlet was edited by me for publication by Jeddah Dawah Center. Go to their website…