Knowledge is essence of religion

Published — Friday 12 December 2014 ARABNEWS.COM


Allah created man and provided him with the tools for acquiring knowledge, namely hearing, sight and wisdom. Allah says: “And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you knew nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah). (Qur’an, 16:78)

Islam is the religion of knowledge. The first ayah of the Qur’an enjoined reading which is the key to knowledge. Allah says: “Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” (Qur’an, 96:1-5)

In Islam, knowledge comes before action; there can be no action without knowledge, as Allah says: “So know (O Muhammad) that La ilaha illAllah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and ask forgiveness for your sin, and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women.” (Qur’an, 47:19)

Allah warns every Muslim against speaking without knowledge: “And follow not (O man, i.e., say not, or do not, or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge. Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allah).” (Qur’an, 17:36)

Emphasizing the status of knowledge and the scholars, Allah calls upon the scholars to bear witness to His Oneness: “Allah bears witness that none has the right to be worshipped but He (La ilaha illa Huwa), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He always) maintains His creation in justice. None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Almighty, the All-Wise.” (Qur’an, 3:18)

Knowledge and fear of Allah may be attained by knowing His signs and creation. The knowledgeable are those who know that, hence Allah praises them: “It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah.” (Qur’an, 35:28)

The scholars occupy a noble status in Islam, and which is higher than the position of others in this world and in the Hereafter. “Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge.” (Qur’an, 58:11)

Because of the importance of knowledge, Allah commanded His Messenger to seek more of it. Allah says: “And say: ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge’.” (Qur’an, 20:114)

Allah praises the scholars, as He says: “Say: ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’ It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allah’s Signs and Verses).” (Qur’an, 39:9)

Those who have knowledge are the quickest of people to understand the truth and believe in it: “And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it (this Qur’an) is the truth from your Lord, so that they may believe therein, and their hearts may submit to it with humility.” (Qur’an, 22:54)

Islam calls us to seek knowledge. The Messenger (peace be upon him) 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, rather their inheritance was knowledge, so whoever acquires it has gained a great share. And he (peace and blessings be upon him) said that seeking knowledge is a way to paradise. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to paradise easy for him.” (Al-Bukhari, Kitab 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 Shariah, then knowledge of medicine, then the other fields of knowledge.

The best of all branches of knowledge are the sciences of Shariah through which man comes to know his Lord and His Prophet and religion. This is the knowledge with which Allah honored His Messenger; He taught it to him so that he might teach it to mankind: “Indeed, Allah conferred a great favor 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], while before that they had been in manifest error.” (Qur’an, 3:164)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When Allah wishes good for a person, He makes him understand the religion.” (Al-Bukhari, 69)
Concerning the matter of paying attention to the Qur’an and learning and teaching it, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “The best of you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.” (Al-Bukhari, 4639)

There is no goodness in knowledge which is not confirmed by action, or words which are not confirmed by deeds: “O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (Qur’an, 61:2-3)

The ummah needs knowledgeable people at all times and in all places. A nation without knowledge and scholars will live in illusions and sink in darkness.

Whoever conceals this knowledge and deprives the ummah of it, Allah will place on him a bridle of fire on the Day of Resurrection, and he will deserve to be cursed, except for the one who repents.

Allah says: “Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allah and cursed by the cursers.

Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 2:159-160)

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 does not cease when he dies, rather it continues to increase so long as people benefit from his knowledge. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three — his charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous son who will pray for him.” (Muslim, 1631)

If the scholar spreads his knowledge among the people, he will have a reward like that of those who follow him.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever calls people to right guidance will have a reward like that of those who follow him, without it detracting from their reward in the slightest, and whoever calls people to misguidance will have a burden of sin like that of those who follow him, without it detracting from their burden in the slightest.” (Muslim, 2674)

Proper understanding of Islam is one of the best of good characteristics with which a Muslim may be honored, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When Allah wishes good for a person, He makes him understand the religion.”

Reading Qur’an, learning it and teaching it, are among the best deeds, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There should be no envy (hasad) except between two people, a man to whom Allah has given (knowledge of) the Qur’an, so he recites it night and day, and a man to whom Allah has given wealth, so he spends it (in good deeds) night and day.” (Muslim, 815)

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