In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
Islam and Education
Let’s start off by stating that Islam has always since day one, since the day it was revealed, it has always promoted knowledge. In fact The first verses of the Quran began with the word:
"Read. Read in the name of thy Lord who created; [He] created the human being from blood clot. Read in the name of thy Lord who taught by the pen: [He] taught the human being what he did not know." (96: 1-5).
The Qur'an says:
"Are those who have knowledge equal to those who do not have knowledge?!”(39:9).
The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny) has also emphasized the importance of seeking knowledge in different ways:
Firstly is through Time: "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave." Then through the Place: "Seek knowledge even if it is far as China." Then Gender: "Seeking of knowledge is a duty of every Muslim" And lastly the Source: "Wisdom is the lost property of the believer, he should take it even if finds it in the mouth of a mushrik."
The Prophet did not only preach about importance of knowledge, he also gave examples of promoting knowledge. In the very first battle between the Muslims and unbelievers or Mecca, known as the war of Badr, the Muslims gain victory and caught seventy kuffars as prisoners of war. One of the criteria of releasing the POWs devised by the Prophet was that those who were literate among the prisoners could go free if they teach ten Muslim children how to read and write.
So are we referring to any type of knowledge or a specific category of knowledge.
Knowledge in Islam is normally divided into two broad categories: there is a famous saying "al-'ilm "ilman: 'ilmu- adyan wa ilmu abdan - knowledge is of two kinds: the knowledge concerning religions and the knowledge concerning [human and physical] bodies." What has been mentioned above on the importance of knowledge refers to both, the religious as well as the secular knowledge.
The Quran has specifically talked about science also:
"In the creation of the heavens and the earth the alternation of the night and the day, in the ships that sail in the sea with their load…. in the rain which Allah sends down from the sky and thus revives the earth after its death; and then He spread in all kinds of animals; in the changing of the winds: in the clouds which have been left suspending between the heaven and the earth -in all these are clear signs for the people who understand” (2:164)
"We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves." (41:53)
We can clear come to notice that obtaining and leaning either is highly recommended in Islam.
For everything there are rules and regulations. What to do and what not to do, and how to do it. Specifically in Islam, this is particularly important because it creates respectful individuals who have the knowledge as to when it is appropriate to act or when it is appropriate to speak. All of our behaviors will in return create a specific image of us that is interpreted by others. Every individual must clearly understand their worth and act upon that. Imam Ali (AS) says: "You think you are a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire Universe"
Many of us regard ourselves as useless and unimportant, this is unacceptable because Allah (SWT) has created us in the most precise and magnificent way, In the Holy Quran Allah says ““And surely we have honored the children of Adam, and carried them on the land and at the sea, and provided them with good things, and we have made them to excel by an appropriate excellence over many of those we created.”
A human with his own actions can excel and become the best he can possibly be or he/she can go down the wrong path and be at loss in this world and in the afterlife. Since Almighty Allah has honored man with the highest position on the earth and has bestowed upon him the highest respect, the Creator provided man with the means to excel. The only way one can excel is through learning, gathering and applying as much as he can from the narrations of Ahul-Bayt (AS). They have talked about everything ranging from how to walk, eat, and drink to how to be honest and trustworthy.
Having knowledge is regarded as one of the most important aspects of life. It allows us humans to see the world in a different way, a way which Allah is pleased with.
When one has prior knowledge about Allah and the Islamic values and morals, their outlook towards life will unconsciously change. One must have knowledge of what Allah wants, and also how he wants it preformed.
The Prince of believers, Imam Ali (AS) says:” O you who carry knowledge around with you; are you only carrying it around with you? For surely knowledge belongs to whoever knows and then acts accordingly, so that his action corresponds to his knowledge. There will be a people who will carry knowledge around with them, but it will not pass beyond their shoulders. Their inner most thoughts will contradict what they display in public, and their actions will contradict what they know.”
Imam Ali (AS) explains that an individual should not only learn about Islam he should also act upon what he says.
There is a quote from Imam Ali (AS) that is quote alarming, in the quote he says: “When a dead person is placed in his grave, four kinds of fire will cover him, but then the prayer will come and put one of them out, and the fast will come and put another one of them out, and then charity will come and put another one out, and knowledge will come and put the forth one out, and it will say : ' If I had come sooner, I would a have put all of them out, and given you delight for I am with you now, and you'll not see anything else distressing.”
This quote evidently embodies the importance and magnitude of knowledge.
Imam Ali (AS) also says “Knowledge and wisdom are really the privilege of a faithful Muslim. If you have lost them, get them back even though you may have to get them from the apostates.”
Being educated or having knowledge makes an individual a huge asset to his community.
The first and most crucial obligation on us is to acquire knowledge and secondly to practice and preach this knowledge. No man becomes truly a Muslim without knowing the meaning of Islam, because he becomes a Muslim not through birth but through knowledge. Unless we come to know the basic and necessary teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (S) how can we believe in him, have faith in him, act according to what he taught? It is impossible for us to be a Muslim, and at the same time live in a state of ignorance.
It is essential to understand that the greatest gift of Allah ? for which we are so over whelmed with gratitude ? depends primarily on knowledge. Without knowledge one can’t truly receive Allah?s gift of Islam. If our knowledge is little, then we will constantly run the risk of losing that magnificent gift, which we have received unless we remain vigilant in our fight against ignorance.
A person without knowledge is like someone walking along a track in complete darkness. Most likely his steps will wander aside and he easily can be deceived by shaytaan. This shows that our greatest danger lies in our ignorance of Islamic teachings and in our unawareness of what the Qur’an teaches and what guidance has been given by the Prophet (S). But if we are blessed with the light of knowledge we will be able to see plainly the clear path of Islam at every step of our lives. We shall also be able to identify and avoid the dangerous paths of Kufr, Shirk and immorality, which may cross it. And, whenever a false guide meets us on the way, a few words with him will quickly establish that he is not a guide who should be followed.
On this knowledge depends whether our children and we are true Muslims and remain true Muslims. It is therefore not a trivial to be neglected. We do not neglect doing whatever is essential to improve our trades and professions. Because we know that if we do neglect, we will starve to death and so lose the precious gift of life. Why then should we be negligent in acquiring that knowledge on which depends whether we become Muslims and remain Muslims? Does such negligence not entail the danger of losing an even more precious gift ? our Iman? Is not Iman more precious than life itself? Most of our time and labor is spent on things, which sustain our physical existence in this life. Why can we not spend even a tenth part of our time and energy on things, which are necessary to protect our Iman, which only can sustain us in the present life and in the life to come? It is not necessary to study extensively to become a Muslim. We should at least spend about one hour out of twenty-four hours of the day and night in acquiring the knowledge of this Deen, the way of life, the Islam.
Every one of us, young or old, man or woman, should at least acquire sufficient knowledge to enable ourselves to understand the essence of the teachings of the Qur?an and the purpose for which it has been sent down. We should also be able to understand clearly the mission, which our beloved Prophet (S) came into this world to fulfil. We should also recognize the corrupt order and system, which he came to destroy. We should acquaint ourselves, too, with the way of life which Allah has ordained for us.
No great amount of time is required to acquire this simple knowledge. If we truly value Iman, it cannot be too difficult to find one hour every day to devote for our Iman.
Knowledge is identified in Islam as worship. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Qur?an and pondering upon it is worship, travelling to gain knowledge is worship. The practice of knowledge is connected with ethics and morality ? with promoting virtue and combating vice, enjoining right and forbidding wrong. This is called in the Qur?an: amr bil-l ma?ruuf wa nah-y ?ani-l munkar.
Not only should we seek knowledge, but when we learn it, it becomes obligatory on us to practice it. Though we must remember that correct knowledge should come before correct action. Knowledge without action is useless because a learned person without action will be the worst of creatures on the Day of Resurrection. Also, action should not be based on blind imitation for this is not the quality of a thinking, sensible human being.
Knowledge is pursued and practiced with modesty and humility and leads to beauty and dignity, freedom and justice.
The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to God. It is not simply for the gratification of the mind or the senses. It is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge or science for the value of sake. Knowledge accordingly must be linked with values and goals.
One of the purposes of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, arrogance and in the reckless pursuit of higher standards of material comfort.
Another purpose of knowledge is to spread freedom and dignity, truth and justice. It is not to gain power and dominance for its own sake.
Obviously, what we may call the reservoir of knowledge is deep and profound. It is a vast and open field that is not limited.
It is impossible for anyone to gain anything more than a fraction of what there is to know in the short span of one’s life. We must therefore decide what is most important for us to know and how to go about acquiring this knowledge.
The following hadith shows how important and how rewarding knowledge is.
"He who acquires knowledge acquires a vast portion." AND "If anyone going on his way in search of knowledge, God will, thereby make easy for him the way to Paradise."
We, the children, are the future. The future lies in our hands, but only through knowledge because whoever neglects learning in youth, loses the past and is dead for the future.