Six aspects of the concept of knowledge
- Knowledge: Wewould see what knowledge is? And what is its nature?
- The objective of knowledge: Why should we attain and venture for knowledge? And what is its purpose?
- Syllabus: What is the syllabus of Islamic concept of knowledge and on what aspects of it Islam sheds light?
- The outcome of knowledge: What would be the possible result or outcome after acquiring knowledge?
- Means of knowledge: What should be the means of knowledge? What is the identification of its origins? The scope of knowledge: What should be its scope?
Let us elaborate these aspects one by one.
The concept and objects of knowledge:
If we think for a while over the first verse of Surah Al-Alaq we find that it starts with the word “read”. The commencement of the Surah with this word signifies that Allah has started the revelation of His Guidance with the command to seek knowledge. Acquiring knowledge, therefore, is the first step whence apostolate initiates. In the like manner if we look at the last word of the 5th verse, it reveals that best of the apostolate also comes out to be acquisition of knowledge. The commencement as well as zenith of Messenger ship is but knowledge alone; that is the be-all and end-all. What remains is found nowhere but in the embrace of knowledge. The truth of seeking knowledge and its real import comes to fore vividly. We can see how significant it is to gain knowledge to promote and promulgate the divine guidance. It also persuades to strive hard against the darkness’s of ignorance.
Knowledge that merits excellence:
We should bear in mind that knowledge and education does not only mean literacy. Capability to read and write or gaining some command or hold over certain aspects of professional knowledge is not in itself the major objective. The objective to attain knowledge is very high; it is a blessing that encompasses the entire universe. We can say that, high or low, nothing of this universe falls beyond the scope of knowledge. Everything in the heavens and the earth and in between them is in the ambit of knowledge. But what bears special significance in this regard is revealed in the first verse:
“(O Beloved!) Read (commencing) with the name of Allah .” ( Quran, 96:1. )
Allah Almighty asks the Holy Prophet to start learning with the blessed name of Allah. It brings to fore that only that knowledge is acceptable in the sight of Allah that starts with the holy name of Allah – knowledge based on the name of Allah, giving pivotal status to Islamic ideology and doctrine.
We should keep in mind that Islamic concept of knowledge is not confined only to religious or spiritual knowledge. It encompasses the entire scientific, modern and secular knowledge. The Islamic history bears testimony to it that, laying the foundation of scientific knowledge, the Muslim scientists carried out the Prophetic injunction contained in this tradition:
“Seek for knowledge even (you have to go) to China. Getting knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim
(man and woman).” (Ibn Rajab Hambali, Jami’ bayan-il-ilm wa fadlih i:7.)
The Holy Qur’an has frequently urged to conquer universe which is not possible without gaining mastery over modern sciences. But the pertinent point to make here is that only that knowledge of modern sciences merits excellence that seeks the pleasure of Allah Most High .
Knowledge and divine gnosis:
Learning, starting with the sacred name of Allah Almighty , laying central emphasis on Islamic doctrine and ideology, brings about gnosis of Allah . Only that knowledge, therefore, will be considered real knowledge that brings man closer to Allah ; brings Allah’s gnosis and true servitude to Him and grants an access to Him and finally takes man to enforcement of Islamic law and putting Allah’s commands to practice. On the contrary, knowledge that drives us away from our Lord is not the real knowledge. The modern and scientific knowledge and discoveries bring us, both intellectually as well as practically, close to Allah Almighty . A scientist with a broader mind and vision is basically a monotheist. Knowledge means to be aware but only that awareness becomes knowledge in the real sense which brings divine gnosis and nearness to Allah.