Thou must seek knowledge

“Behold! In the creation of the Heavens and the Earth and the alteration of night and day, these are indeed signs for men of understanding,” – Holy Qur’an 3:190

Like the above Verse, many other places Holy Qur’an challenges the Believers (both men and women) to think, ponder and search for the mysteries behind Allah’s various creations. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), though himself like majority of Arabs during his time – was an ‘unlettered person – he encouraged his Companions to seek both religious and worldly knowledge. He is reported as saying: “On the Day of Judgement the ink of the scholars and the blood of martyrs will be weighed – and the ink of the scholars will weigh more than the blood of the martyrs.”

Contrary to that the earlier Abrahamic religions (Judaism and Christianity) prohibited women to seek knowledge, which became the domain of a minority of religious elites (rabbis and priests). For example:

“Women are exempt from the study of the Torah,” – Talmud

“Let the words of Torah rather be destroyed by fire than imparted to women” OR “Whoever teaches his daughter Torah is as though he taught her obscenity,” – Denise L. Carmody in ‘Judaism’.

St. James, the founder of modern Christianity, also commanded women to follow their husbands in matter of knowledge (I Corinthians 14:34-35).

As result of the divine importance of acquiring knowledge for exploring Allah’s creation for His pleasure and serving Muslim community and the humanity at large – the Believers travelled far and wide to seek knowlege since the establishment of first Islamic state in Medinnah. Beginning with the Prophet (pbuh), who sent two of his Companions to Jurash of Yemen to learn weapon manufacturing. Several western historians (Gibbon, Sir William Muir, Washington Irving, etc.) has credited Islam’s second Caliph Omar being the pioneer in the field of several modern government functions, such as, Aministration Division, Revenue Department, Department of Justice, Department of Crimes and Police, Treasury Department, Defense Department, Census, and Public Works Department.

What the great majority of Muslims today are not aware of the fact that Islam do permits the Believers to seek knowledge and use it to investigate the mechanics of the world that surround them – as long as such activities do not clash with the basic teachings of Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions. Early Muslims understood this reality and ushered Islamic scientific discoveries from early 8th century till 17th century – when the decline of scientific knowledge occured as a result of the breakaway from divine command (Ijtihad) and opening up doors to western principle of scientific research – for personal gains and consumerism.

During the peak of Islamic civilization – its scholars are credited with 1001 inventions, most of which have been taken for granted by the western consumers, such as, airplane, surgical intruments, zero (0), universities, sugar, cosmetics, floor tiles, glassware, silk, rugs, salad, enamels, asphalt, beds, table, bed linens, mattress, cotton, sofa, coffee, talcum, sherbert, naphtha, gypsum, to name a few.

Some of the famous Muslim inventors are:

Ibn Firnas (d. 888 CE), who invented the first flying machine.

Al-Khwarizmi (d. 846), who invented Algebra (al-jabr).

Rhazes (d. 935), whose medical work Liber Almansoris was taught for centuries in European universities.

Ibn Sina (Avicenna), died in 1037 CE. His Medical Encyclopedia provided foundation for western medical research.

Alhazen (d. 1039) was the inventor of the camera obscura.

Al-Biruni (1050), diplomat, historian, astrloger, mineralogist and Sanskrit scholar.

Umar al-Khayyam (d. 1131), poet and mathematician.

Ibn al-Nafis (d. 1288), discoverer of blood circulation.

Piri Reis (d. 1553), Turkish Admiral, navigator and occean geographer.

Dr. Abuus-Salam (d. 1996), physicist and 1979 Nobel Prize winner. He once said: “The Holy Qur’an enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.”

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, father of India’s nuclear bomb.

American journalist, writer, novelist and political theorist, Rose Wilder Lane, died in 1968, wrote in ‘Islam and the Discovery of Freedom’ – “A thousand years after the Saracens (Muslim Arabs) built Universities (in Baghdad, Cairo, Spain, and Tashkent), far away in time and on a continent that they never knew existed, a revolutionary leader, Thomas Jefferson – who kew little or nothing about Saracens – realized the dream of his life when he created the University of Virginia.”

One response to “Thou must seek knowledge

  1. Salaamat wa aadaab

    Do visit my blog on islam, quran, ijtihad, persecution, etc…

    Latest post: Lady Kariimah, a great scholar of hadiith

    please pass around Thank You

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