Seeking Knowledge

Bismilláhir Rahmánir Rahím! Ar-Rahman. ‘allamal Qur’án, Khalaqal insán, ‘allamal Bayán….Alhamdu lilláhir Rabbil ‘álamín!

I also thank and praise Alláh, for this opportunity to welcome our new brothers and sisters who are starting their first academic year at this university. We pray to Him, to guide and assist all Muslim students to not only succeed, but to excel in their chosen field of study.

Starting afresh in a new environment without immediate relations or long-standing friends could have its problems. On behalf of the Students’ Islamic Society and the local Muslim community, I would like to assure all students that we shall be pleased to help and render any assistance to make your stay here a happy and beneficial experience. Achieving success is our objective as much as it is yours, for we would be very happy to see you take your rightful place in serving this Ummah that needs you.

There will be times when you wish you were with your families such as in the month of Ramadhán, and the ‘Eids. We know that we cannot replace your families, nor do we wish to, but I would like to assure you that these occasions will be memorable to say the least, and we pray to Alláh, that the forthcoming Ramadhán will be better than all previous ones.

I do not expect that the students need reminding, but maybe the rest of us do, that:

“Seeking knowledge is a duty of all Muslims, male and female.”

“Knowledge” may be thought to refer to refer to religious knowledge only but scholars extend this to include all useful worldly knowledge. This view is supported by many Áyát in the Holy Qur’án and the traditions of Nabi Muhammad sws.

Let us go back to the very beginning to appreciate the special statua of knowledge in Islam. In Sura Al Baqara we read:

“And He taught Adam all the names…”

According to the eminent scholars, there is unanimity that this includes the names of all the creations of Alláh, including the stars, the earth, the planets, and the angels themselves. No one can deny that this is religious not knowledge also, although to know about them can concentrate the mind on the greatness of Alláh swt.

If we can move quickly to more recent times, we read that the first divine command to Prophet Muhammad, [may Alláh grant him Peace and Blessings] :

“Read! In the name of your Lord, Who creates!”

followed by a second command:

“Read! And your Lord is most bountiful, He who taught the use of the pen, taught man that which he knew not!”

The source of all knowledge is Alláh, Glorified and Exalted is He, and no creation has any knowledge except that which Alláh has taught him. The evidence for this statement is ample, and needs no further elaboration. Let us also remember the practice of Rasúlulláhi Salall láhu ‘alayhi wasallam in this regard. The ransom of a prisoner of war, was to teach a number of Muslims to read and write. Literate Muslims form a sound foundation for the Muslim State. And knowledge in general precedes action.

In Sura Muhammad the reference is to knowledge of Alláh, Jalláh Jalálahu:

“Know, therefore, that there is no god but Alláh, and ask forgiveness for your faults and for the men and women who believe…”

The áyát and hadíth about knowledge are too many to list, but the following verse from Sura Yásín puts the matter in its proper perspective:

“It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty) and measured out stages for her: that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time). Nowise did Allah create this but in truth and righteousness. (Thus) doth He explain his Signs in detail for those who understand.

Verily in the alternation of the Night and the Day and in all that Allah hath created in the heavens and the earth are Signs for those who fear Him.”


Bismilláhir Rahmánir Rahím!

In Sura Al Anfal we read:

“Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power including steeds of war to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies ….”

To be strong we must start first of all attain strength in Ímán, for without faith in Alláh and His messenger, we cannot achieve strength in other fields. Our Ímán and only through our Ímán can we be just. The purpose of building our strength including military strength, is to uphold justice, not to be unjust or aggressive, but to be feared because we are strong and just.

The second requirement is to be knowledgeable, – well educated for military strength can be abused by ignorant people. Similarly, only people who understand the workings of the economy can achieve economic strength. We must be knowledgeable about the life of Rasúlulláhi Salall láhu ‘alayhi wasallam , to understand how he conducted the affairs of the Muslim State both internally and externally. We must be medically advanced to bring up healthier generations with sound minds. Most important is to be independent of non-Muslim domination at all levels, whether it be in food, clothing, or military or computer hardware and software.

This combination of strength and knowledge would make us feared but not despised….because we are strong and just. The enemies would think more than once before committing injustice or aggression against us.

What else does The Holy Qur’án teach us with respect to the acquisition of knowledge? …. Humility and respect for the teacher. One must never allow himself to think that he has achieved the ultimate … no one knows more than I do …. I know best …

We read in Sura Al Qáf v66:

Moses said to him: “May I follow thee on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?”

What humility! … what politeness! …. Prophet Músa seeks permission from a man, who is not even a messenger or a prophet, to follow him in order to learn, to acquire knowledge. And what understanding does he give when questioned:

“You will find me, if Alláh wills, truly patient; nor will I disobey you in anything.”

Nor did the teacher feel flattered or haughty. According to some narrations he said to Nabi Músa alayhis salám:

“Do you see that bird drinking from the sea?”

“Yes” was the answer.

“Compared to the knowledge of Alláh, Glorified and Exalted is He, your knowledge and mine combined, is like what the bird drinks from the sea.”

[Dua’ in Arabic]

Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!