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Seeking Knowledge: The Obligation on Muslims - Yassir Fazaga
Islam calls us to seek knowledge. The Prophet (PBUH) made seeking knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim, and he explained that the superiority of the one who has knowledge over the one who merely worships is like the superiority of the moon over every other heavenly body. He said that the scholars are the heirs of the Prophets and that the Prophets did not leave behind dinars and dirhams (i.e., money), rather
their inheritance was knowledge, so whoever acquires it has gained a great share. The Prophet (PBUH) said that seeking knowledge is a way to Paradise. He (PBUH) said:
"Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah (SWT) will make a path to Paradise easy for him." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-'Ilm, 10)
Islam calls us to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledge. Branches of knowledge vary in status, the highest of which is knowledge of sharee'ah, then knowledge of medicine, then the other fields of knowledge.
The best of all branches of knowledge are the sciences of sharee'ah through which man comes to know his Lord, and his Prophet and religion. This is the knowledge with which Allah (SWT) honoured His Messenger; He taught it to him so that he might teach it to mankind:
"Indeed, Allah conferred a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, reciting unto them His Verses (the Qur'an), and purifying them (from sins by their following him), and instructing them (in) the Book (the Qur'an) and Al-Hikmah [the wisdom and the Sunnah of the Prophet (i.e. his legal ways, statements and acts of worship)], while before that they had been in manifest error" [Surah Ali-Imran, Ayat 164]
There is no goodness in knowledge which is not confirmed by action, or words which are not confirmed by deeds:
"O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do?
Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.
Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly."
[Surah Al-Saff , Ayat 2-4]
Knowledge brings a great reward. The one who points the way to something good is like the one who does it. When the knowledgeable person dies, his reward with Allah (SWT) does not cease when he dies, rather it continues to increase so long as people benefit from his knowledge. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
"When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three -- an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous son who will pray for him."
(Narrated by Muslim, 1631)
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 (PBUH) 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.
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 (PBUH). 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.
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
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