In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
1- Man has a goal to achieve in the worldly life:
Allah the Almighty has created man in the best stature, bestowed honor upon him, subjected the whole universe for him, endowed him with reason, installed in him lusts, made good things Halal (lawful) and bad things Haram (unlawful) for him, and given him the free will. All of this is meant to enable man to know his Lord, worship Him and gain happiness by worshipping Him in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. Allah the Almighty says:
(And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).)
Well, no human being will ever have safety and happiness, which are two permanent quests of mankind, at all times, unless his actions in his worldly life accord with the real purpose for which he has been created. Therefore, spotting the right goal and moving towards achieving it are considered the two main conditions for gaining man's constant quests (happiness and safety).
Should man fail in finding the real purpose for which he has been created, should he fancy for himself another purpose he has not been created for or should his daily movement deviate him from the right goal, he will suffer from anxiety, confusion, misguidance, and everlasting big loss. Allah the Almighty says:
(Say (O Muhammad PBUH): "Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds?* "Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds!)
Man's movement in this life is controlled by visualizing his goals and means. This visualization is sound as long as it is derived from a scientific relationship.
2- What is knowledge:
Knowledge is in fact a definite relation between two definitive things that conform to reality and are supported with a proof. If they are not definitive, doubts and delusion will spread, if they do not conform to reality, ignorance will prevail, and if it lacks definite conclusive proof, blind imitation will be adopted. Allah the Almighty says:
(While they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a guess, and verily, guess is no substitute for the truth.)
Man's daily movements and activities can never be rightly guided towards the proper purpose for which he has been created unless they are based on conceptions derived from definitive knowledge that puts an end to all kinds of uncertainty, delusion, ignorance and blind imitation.
3- Knowledge is the foundation of the worldly life and the Hereafter:
The relationship between man's obedience to Allah and the fruits gained whereof is a scientific one. In other words, it is a cause and effect relationship. The same goes for the relationship between disobedience and its consequences. Therefore, knowledge constitutes the basis of man's safety and happiness in this worldly life and in the Hereafter. It is said, "If you want to win the gaining of the worldly life, seek Islamic knowledge, if you want to win the gaining of the Hereafter, you should seek Islamic knowledge, and if you want to gain them both, you should also seek Islamic knowledge." Hence, Islam, being the religion of the truth and Fitrah, encourages mankind to seek knowledge in all aspects of life, and it praises its tool, on all levels, which is reason.
Seeking Islamic knowledge in Islam, is as important as the soul to the body, and the main thing in man's life is his reason. Therefore, whoever neglects his reason neglects his religion and vise versa. Actually, religion in its essence is based on reason.
4- Allah clarifies the virtues of seeking Islamic knowledge in Quran:
The number of the Ayat in the Noble Quran where knowledge and reason are mentioned is about 1000 Ayat. It is an enough example to mention the following Quranic Du'a:
(And say: "My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.")
Also, it is enough for us to notice that Allah the Almighty explains in detail the universe and Quranic Signs to those who have sense, as He says:
(Thus do We explain the signs in detail to a people who have sense.)
In another Surat, Allah the Almighty says,
(Thus We explain the Ayat (Islamic laws) in detail for people who have knowledge.)
Undoubtedly, none other than those who have knowledge fear Allah. Allah the Almighty says:
(It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving.)
'Only' in this Ayah indicates exclusiveness and not restriction, which means that seeking knowledge is Faridah (an obligation) in religion on every individual, and it is as essential as all other Fara'id (obligations), better yet, it is the most crucial one. The following sound Hadith refers to this point:
(Acquiring knowledge is a Faridah (obligation) of every Muslim.)
5- Seeking knowledge is preferred to voluntary acts of worship:
Seeking knowledge in Islam is preferred in its fruits (results) to the supererogatory acts of worship. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, narrated that Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said:
(An hour of seeking knowledge is better than praying one whole night, and a day of seeking knowledge is better than fasting three months.)
6- Knowledge is the basic factor of preference:
Islam, as it is indicated in the Quran and Sunnah, strongly rejects power, wealth, linage, or appearance as the basic measure of preferences among people. Instead, it considers knowledge the only criterion for preference. Allah the Almighty 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).)
Ad-Daylami and Ibn Abdul Birr narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
(Acquire knowledge because seeking it is worship. Reviewing it is glorifying Allah. Researching it is Jihad. Teaching it to the ignorant is charity. Serving the scholars is a way of drawing near to Allah, because knowledge is the path of ascension to the stations of Paradise. It is a companion in isolation and a comrade in distant lands. It speaks to you in solitude. It is a guide to prosperity, a shield against adversity, and a weapon against enemies. It beautifies one among friends and is nearness amongst strangers. With it, Allah elevates people and makes them guides and leaders of good, whose footsteps are followed, whose actions are looked at and imitated, and whose opinions are stopped at.)
[Abu Nu'aym in Al-Hilyah]
Knowledge according to Imam al-Ghazali, is knowing Allah, knowing His Orders, knowing His creations, knowing the truth, knowing Shari'ah (Islamic Law), and knowing the universe. In fact, knowing Allah is the foundation of religion, knowing His Orders is the foundation of worship, and knowing His creations is basic factor of having a good worldly life.
1- Knowing Allah is a way to ponder over His creations:
Islam has always urged people to know Allah through pondering over the creation of the heavens and the earth. Allah's Order upon people to know Him is mentioned in many Suwar in the Noble Quran indicating that it is the basic foundation for establishing the pillars of Aqeedah (Islamic Creed) and Iman (faith). Allah the Almighty says:
(So let man see from what he is created!* He is created from a water gushing forth* Proceeding from between the back-bone and the ribs* Verily, (Allah) is Able to bring him back (to life)!)
In a different Surat, Allah the Almighty says:
(Then let man look at his food* That We pour forth water in abundance* And We split the earth in clefts* And We cause therein the grain to grow* And grapes and clover plants (i.e. green fodder for the cattle)* And olives and date-palms* And gardens, dense with many trees* And fruits and Abba (herbage, etc.)* (To be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle.)
In Surat Al-Ghashiyah, Allah the Almighty says:
(Do they not look at the camels, how they are created?* And at the heaven, how it is raised?* And at the mountains, how they are rooted and fixed firm?* And at the earth, how it is spread out?)
In Surat Yunus, Allah the Almighty says:
(Say: "Behold all that is in the heavens and the earth," but neither Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) nor warners benefit those who believe not.)
2- Pondering over the creation of universe is the most elevated act of worship:
Indeed, pondering over the creation of the heavens and the earth is an act of worship. Better yet, it is the greatest act of worship. Pay attention to the following Hadith reported in Sahih Ibn Habban:
(Ibn Marduwyah recorded that Ata' said, "I, Ibn Umar and Ubayd bin Umayr went to Aishah and entered her room, and there was a screen between us and her. She said, 'O Ubayd! What prevents you from visiting us?' He said, 'What the poet said, 'Visit every once in a while, and you will be loved more.' Ibn Umar said, 'Tell us about the most unusual thing you witnessed from the Messenger of Allah.' She cried and said, 'All his matters were amazing. On night, he came close to me until his skin touched my skin and said, 'Let me worship my Lord.' I said, 'By Allah I love your being close to me. I also love that you worship your Lord.' He used the water-skin and performed ablution, but did not use too much water. He then stood up in prayer and cried until his beard became wet. He prostrated and cried until he made the ground wet. He then laid down on his side and cried. When Bilal came to alert the Prophet for the Dawn prayer, he said, 'O Messenger of Allah! What makes you cry, while Allah has forgiven you your previous and latter sins?' He said, "O Bilal! What prevents me from crying, when this night, this Ayah was revealed to me, 'Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.' [Aal-'Imran, 190]. Woe to he who recites it but does not contemplate it.")
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said in another Hadith:
(My Lord has ordered me nine things: (1) To reverence Him, externally and internally; (2) to speak true, and with propriety, in prosperity and adversity; (3) moderation in affluence and poverty; (4) to benefit my relations and kindred who do not benefit me; (5) to give alms to him who refuses me; (6) to forgive him who injures me; (7) that my silence should be in attaining knowledge of God; (8) that when I speak, I should mention Him; (9) that when I look on God's creatures, it should be as an example for them.)
Al-Hassan al-Basri, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, "If man's speech is not words of wisdom, it is mere idle talk, if his silence is not contemplation, it is mere absent- mindedness, and if his look is not meant to be learning moral lessons, it is mere play."
A righteous man once said, concerning pondering over Allah's creation,
Behold the sun and ask yourself, 'Who has raised it to look like a blazing fire? Who has made it to seem like the lighthouse? Who has created it to be coin-like shape? Who has hung it in the sky as a clock that keeps ticking the time till the Hour of Resurrection comes forth? Who has granted it its ascension, guided it its ways, established it in its constellations, and moved it like a lamp in the nearest heaven to earth?
Time derives its existence and different parts from it. Had it not been for it, days, months and years would not have been so well ordered. Furthermore, day and light would not have been changed in different parts of the world had it not been for the sun. Pure gold is shining from its centre and the dusk comes from its blazing flames. Ages have vanished, while it keeps strongly shining and glittering, being not affected by the passage of time.
In fact, the sun is 1,300,000 times bigger than the earth, and is 156,000,000 kilometers far from it. Yet, there are stars as big as the sun, earth and the distance between them. The temperature in the center of the sun is 20,000,000 degrees. If the earth were thrown into the centre of the sun, it would evaporate in the blink of an eye.
The flames coming out from its surface are more than half a million kilometers long. Allah the Almighty speaks the truth when He says:
(We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur'an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?)
The righteous man went on, "Reflect on the heart and think of its function and effect, its purpose and design, its size and value, its walls and center, its deepness and chambers, its purity and impurity, its persistence and vigilance, and its patience, caution, and great danger. It never overlooks things or falls asleep, it never forgets nor becomes neglectful, it never extinguishes or fades and it never gets tired or complains. It remains patient on acting upon the Order of the One Who has amazingly designed it, made it ready, lit its stems, and measured its lifespan."
The heart works incessantly and restlessly, without the need of being guided to function. It pumps eight cubic meters of blood, which runs through veins of 150 kilometers long. Moreover, during the average human life, it pumps as much blood as the size of the greatest skyscraper in the world. Allah the Greatest speaks the truth. He the Almighty says:
(We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur'an) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?)
Let us move to the ant and ponder over its creation as Imam Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, asked us to do,
Look at the ant with its small body and delicate form. It can hardly be seen in the corner of the eye, nor by the perception of the imagination - how it moves on the earth and leaps at its livelihood. It carries the grain to its hole and deposits it in its place of stay. It collects during the summer for its winter, and during strength for the period of its weakness. Its livelihood is guaranteed, and it is fed according to fitness. Allah, the Kind, does not forget it and (Allah the Giver) does not deprive it, even though it may be in dry stone or fixed rocks. If you have thought about its digestive tracts in its high and low parts, the carapace of its belly, and its eyes and its ears in its head you would be amazed at its creation, and you would feel difficulty in describing it. Exalted is He who made it stand on its legs and erected it on its pillars (of limbs). No other originator took part with Him in its origination and no one having power assisted Him in its creation."
Allah the Greatest speaks the truth as He says:
(And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterous, grave, etc.). all is in a Clear Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz - the Book of Decrees with Allah).)
Look at the tree with its verdant branches-
how it has grown out of a grain,
and how it has become a tree.
Think and say, "Who generates fruit from it?"
Look at the sun, which is always burning;
Who has made it
in the sky like a lamp?
Look at the night!
Who has created its moon,
and adorned it stars like spreading pearls ?
Look at the clouds!
Who has caused rain to fall from them,
turning the earth by it green after being yellow?
That is Allah! Whose Graces are abundant;
Whose Wisdom is far-reaching,
and Whose Might is All-Omnipotent!
Knowing Allah's Shari'ah:
We have discussed knowing Allah so far which is knowing the truth, but what about knowing Allah's Shari'ah?
- Knowing Allah's Order comes after knowing Allah:
Contemplation on the creation of the heavens and earth helps man realize that Allah is the Genuine Creator, Educator and Governor of everything. Also, it helps him conceive some of Allah's Most Beautiful Names and Exalted Attributes, so he will have an ardent desire to get closer to Him, acting upon His Order and refrain from His Prohibitions. Hence, Shari'ah clarifies Allah' Orders and Prohibitions in the acts of worship, transactions and morals.
According to Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon his soul, "The Shari'ah in its entirety is justice, mercy and benefit. So any issue that leads from justice to injustice, or from mercy to its opposite, or from benefit to harm, then it is not from the Shari'ah, even if someone thought that it is."
As reported by Imam al-Bukhari in his Sahih, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
(When Allah wishes good for anyone, He bestows upon him the Fiqh (comprehension) of the religion.)
In another Hadith, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
(Certainly the science of religion is acquired by oral transmission.)
In a sound Noble Hadith the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
((Seeking) little of knowledge is better than (performing) more 'ibadah. Suffice is for a person to have (knowledge of) fiqh when he serves Allah, whereas suffice is for a person to be ignorant when he feels proud of his own opinion.)
- Knowing Allah's Shari'ah is the best act of worship:
Actually, knowing Shari'ah rulings and applying them are considered the best act of worship. Ad-Dar Qatni reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
(Allah was not worshipped with anyone better than the learned in religion. Verily a single jurisprudent is more formidable to Satan than a thousand worshippers. For everything has [its] foundation, and the foundation of this religion is jurisprudence.)
Knowing Allah's creation:
1- Islam encourages us to know objects and their characteristics:
We still need to discuss knowing the creation of Allah. Islam encourages us to know objects, their characteristics and the relationship between them, so that we will be able to make use of them as Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, has subjected them for us. Allah the Almighty says:
(See you not (O men) that Allah has subjected for you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and has completed and perfected His Graces upon you, (both) apparent (i.e Islamic Monotheism, and the lawful pleasures of this world, including health, good looks, etc.) and hidden [i.e. One's Faith in Allah (of Islamic Monotheism) knowledge, wisdom, guidance for doing righteous deeds, and also the pleasures and delights of the Hereafter in Paradise, etc.]?)
In another Surath, Allah the Almighty says:
(And We brought forth iron wherein is mighty power (in matters of war), as well as many benefits for mankind,)
2- Materialistic sciences are important to construct the earth:
Acquiring materialistic sciences helps man construct the earth through excavating natural treasures, investing its energies, facilitating its difficulties, and meeting man's needs, applying by that Allah's following Words:
(He brought you forth from the earth and settled you therein,)
3- The materialistic sciences are means to face the enemies:
Acquiring materialistic sciences and excelling in them is power that should Muslims have in order to be able to face the enemies of the truth, goodness and peace, and so they will act upon Allah's following Order:
( And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy)
4- Making use of benefits requires great efforts:
Science is the essence of power nowadays, because the fighting parties are no more bodies, but rather they are minds (intellect and thoughts.) Due to Allah's Profound Wisdom, All, Glorified and Sublime be He, He has decreed that earth's natural treasures and resources are accessible only through human effort by science and labor. For instance, Allah has created in the seed the ability of growing, but man has to plant the seed and take care of it till it grows and becomes ripen, so that he can harvest it. Also, Allah the Almighty, has created deep in the earth the raw minerals. Yet, man has to dig such minerals up so as to make use of them.
These examples emphasize the importance of both knowledge and labor with which man' humanity is tested; whether he will be elevated to the highest rank humanity or fall into the lowest rank of it.
5- Objectivity stops false allegations:
Freeing oneself from ignorance and delusion, depending on sciences, and having objectivity as a method enable us to belie all false and fabricated allegations of the enemies of Islam to defeat our abilities and ambitions. Thus, we correct our vision by adopting the scientific perspective, and we gain our power from believing in Allah and acting upon His Order. Allah the Almighty says:
(If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust.)
6- Learning and teaching are main foundations of Islam:
Learning and teaching are the main foundations of Islam, and they guarantee the continuity of its essence and the prosperity of its future. It is said, "People are of two groups; the educated who seek salvation, and the knowledge seekers who seek more knowledge." The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
(You must acquire this knowledge before it is taken away, and its taking away means that it will be lifted up.' He joined his middle finger and the one that next to the thumb like this, and said: 'The scholar and the seeker of knowledge will share the reward, and there is no good in the rest of the people.')
A man gave this piece of advice, "Seek knowledge as it makes you honored if you are leaders, it makes you leaders if you are middle class people, and it makes you respected if you are from the common people.
Keep in mind what the scholar said about seeking knowledge, "You will not be able to acquire knowledge unless you dedicate all your time to learn. If you dedicate some of your time, you will acquire nothing." Thus, dear noble brothers, do your best to be a scholar, a knowledgeable man, a knowledge seeker, or a devoted man to knowledge but never be an ignorant.
Pay attention to the definition of knowledge as it is mentioned in the Noble Ahadeeth:
(This knowledge (i.e. Hadith) is the Religion, so be careful from whom you take your religion)
(O Ibn Umar, your religion, your religion is your flesh and blood. Take it from the pious ones, and do not take it from those who are deviated.)
The knowledge we seek to make money from it is no more than a craft, so our aspiration should be more than making a living from knowledge. Also, Knowledge that does not have a positive effective in our life and behavior is pointless, if it makes us look down on other people, it is a kind of arrogance and if it stops our reason from thinking well is but imitation
Furthermore, the knowledge that makes us mistakenly think that we are great scholars is a kind of self-conceited, the knowledge that aims at destroying mankind and producing harmful materials is but a grievous crime, and the knowledge that is used to cause conflicts among people, to take their money, and to assault their honor is a type of delinquency and deviation. Moreover, the knowledge that does not lead to human welfare and prosperity in our religion and worldly life is a kind of censured luxury. It is reported in the Prophetic Du'a, that the Prophet, peace be upon him:
(It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: "One of the supplications that the Prophet used to say was: 'Allahumma, inni a'udhu bika min 'ilmin la yanfa'u, wa mindu'a'in la yusma'u, wa min qalbin la yakhsha'u, wa min nafsin la tashba'u [O Allah, I seek refuge with You from knowledge that is of no benefit, from a supplication that is not heard, from a heart that does not fear (You) and from a soul that is not satisfied].')
O Allah, we beseech You to show us the way of righteousness together with those to whom You showed it; and to give us good health together with those whom You have healed; and to be our Protector, as You are of those whom You protect; and to bless what You have bestowed on us; and to save us from the affliction that You have decreed –for You rule with justice and You are never judged; and he whom You protect shall never be humiliated, and he whom You make Your enemy shall never be elevated, blessed and dignified are You. We thank You for what You have decreed, we ask You for Forgiveness for our sins, and we repent to You.
O Allah, please lead us to the good deeds, for no one leads to them but You; please lead us to the good conduct, for no one leads to it but You; please make us do well in the Deen, which is our dignity, make us do well in our worldly life, in which we dwell and grant us safety on the Day of Judgment for it is our Final Destination. O Allah, please supply our life with all good things and make our death a rest from every evil.
O our Master, the Lord of all Worlds, please make us desire what You have made lawful and reject what You have made unlawful, make us by Your benevolence independent of all others and make our obedience to You turn us away from our disobedience. O Allah, let us not be oblivious to Your planning; do not deprive us of Your shield and do not make us forget Your remembrance.
O Allah, by Your Mercy and Benevolence, raise high the word of truth and this Deen, grant triumph to Islam, dignify Muslims, humiliate polytheism and polytheists and grant triumph to Your believing servants all around the world, O Lord of the Worlds
O Allah, lead the rulers of Muslims to what pleases You, O Lord of the Worlds, as You are the only One Who is capable over His decreed, and Who responds to our supplication.