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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Guest abaleada

Knowledge in Islam

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Guest abaleada

In several ayat of the Qur'an, Allah has admonished us to think and to use our senses. "And the life of this world is naught but play and vain sport; and certainly the abode of the hereafter is the best for those who guard (themselves against evil); Do ye not then understand (ya`qilun -> `aql)?" (6:32) Here, a contrast is made between people who think that this lifetime is best used for playing around and refusing to take anything seriously and those who guard their piety. It is `aql, or understanding, that has been named as that facor which prevents one from making a game of his life and instead turning to Allah in piety. Allah also orders us to ponder the meaning of the Qur'an: "(O Our Apostle Muhammad! This Qur'an is) the Book which We have down unto thee, abounding in blessings, that they may ponder over its verses, and bear in mind those (who are) endowed (a) with understanding (alban)." (38:29)

Over and over again, we are told by the Qur'an to think and reflect over nature and how it reflects Allah's Unity. In surah Baqara 2:164, Allah says, "Verily (165) in the creation of the heavens and the earth...surely there are signs for (the guidance of) people who understand (ta`qilun -> `aql)." (165) Exerpts from the commentary on this read as follows: "Man is exhorted to reflect over the creation and realise the divine unity. Though the attention insisted towards the creation of the heavens and the earth seems to be very simple, the awakened mind, particularly of the scientists with the knowledge of the heavenly bodies and the constellations know the significance of this drawing of the attention towards the factors mentioned in this verse. To any intelligent seeker of the Truth, there are volumes of knowledge in the manifest universe about the Unity of its Maker." The implication of all of this seems to be that only through the pursuit of knowledge can one truly achieve closeness with Allah through a better understanding of Him. Other passages referring to the signs in nature which should trigger one to uses his intellect to determine the Unity of God: 3:190, 13:4, 16:12, 30:24, 40:67, 45:5, 57:17

Prophet Muhammad made it obligatory for us to learn: The Messenger of Allah said, "Seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim. Let it be known that Allah loves those who seek knowledge." (Kafi, H 35, Ch. 1, h 1) Obviously, it is not permissible for us to ignore knowledge that is available for us to learn. We are obligated to know what our beliefs are, as well as how to perform those actions that are obligatory for us. At the same time, it is foolishness to think that one does not need to acquire any kind of worldly knowledge. We have lready seen in the passages above how even scientists who used to be atheists are coming to the light of Islam because they pursued knowledge rather than bypass it for leisure and sport. Similarly, how can one expect to relate one's knowledge in teh realm of Islam to one's daily existence in the world when he does not apply himself to learn abotu the world around him. Or how does he expect to be abe to communicate his kowledge with others or to obtain mroe knowledge from others if he does not trouble himself to obtain the skills necessary for such communication? Obviously, our need to acquire knowledge spreads to all aspects of our lives.

A verse in surah Baqarah that mentions the goodness of wisdom is 2:269, "He granteth (304) wisdom (hikmah) to whomsoever He willeth, and he who hath been granted wisdom hath been given abudnant good; and none shall mind it save those endowed with wisdom (albab -> libab: understanding, sensible, intelligent)." Hisham ibn al Hakam has said the following: Abu al Hassan Musa ibn Ja`far stated the following to me: O Hisham, Allah has mentioned the people of intelligence in the best manners with the best of characteristics saying, God gives wisdom to the ones whom He wants. Whoever is given wisdom, has, certainly, received much good. Only people of intelligence can grasp this (2:269). (Kafi, H 12, Ch. 1, h 12) Some of the exerpted commentary on this ayah reads, "(304) The word wisdom implies the best knowledge seeking to act with fullness and soundness of one's own conscience. True knowledge is spiritual illumination or divine guidance worked through the grace of God. This being the active result of the constant seeking for it by man from the All-Wise and the Almighty." As one can see from the exerpted commentary, one has to constantly seek knowledge in order to achieve the guidance that is implied in true or deep knowledge. Obviously, Allah distinguishes between the learned and the unlearned, preferring the former over the latter. "...What! (2110) Can those who know (ya`lamun) be equal to those who know not (la ya`lamun)? Verily only the men of understanding (albab) take the warning." (39:9) PArt of the commentary on this passage states, "(2110) It is a well-known fact that the holy Imams were divinely endowed with knowledge to a wonderful degree. The sixth Holy Imam Ja`far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq says that the term 'those who know' is a reference to the holy Imams and 'those who know not' are the opponents of the Ahlul Bayt - and the 'men of understanding' is a reference to the faithful devotees of the Ahlul Bayt called the Shias." If we do not actively pursue knowledge and gain wisdom, how, then, can we claim to call ourselves Shias? Apparently from these ahadith, one of the marks of a Shia is that he strives after understanding and increases his knowledge. What is the excuse of thsoe who make it their life's aim to relax their levels of intelligence and settle for a substandard method? None exists for him in the Qur'an, words of Prophet Muhammad, or lives of the Ahlul Bayt.

In surah Aal `Imran 3:7, Allah says, "...none knoweth its (hidden) interpretation except God and those firmly rooted in knowledge (`ilm); say they: 'We believe in it, all is from our Lord' but none (324) mindeth (yadhdhakar) save those endowed (with wisdom) (albab). Portions of the commentary on this ayah read thus: "(324) The mention in the verse is of the persons who, besides God, are by God Himself endowed with the knowledge or the interpretation of these verses. With the knowledge of the sure inability of the people as a whole to know what the meaning of the Holy Qur'an as a whole, the divine mercy guides every sincere seeker of the truth to resort to the Ahlul Dhikr (the people of the dhikr, i.e., the Holy Qur'an) as those divinely inspired ones of the scholars have been titled 16:43 and 21:7. The commentary of this ayah directs us to refer to those who are more knowledgeable than we, especially in regards to the meaning of the Qur'an. Similarly, Imam Hussayn has told us that one who does not care for learning will be destroyed: Imam abu `Abdallah (as) has said, "Be a scholar or a learning person or love the scholars. Do not become of the fourth group lest you will be destroyed by their hatred." (Kafi, H 55, Ch. 3, h 3) Other A'immah have divided people into these same three or four categories. Naturally, we should carry the admonishment given us in the commentary of 3:7 that we should refer to scholars to other aspects of our lives, such as our use of language. Otherwise, we only show a face to the world of an illiterate who either does not know, does not want to know, or is too lazy to trouble himself to use proper linguistic forms.

In Surah Luqman 31:12, Allah says, "And indeed We gave to Luqman wisdom (hikmah) saying: Be thou grateful to God; for whoever is grateful, verily he is only grateful for his own self; and whoever is ungrateful, (it is to the discredit of his own self) then verily God is Self-Sufficient, the Most Praised." Here, Allah gives an example for us that we should be grateful for our knowledge. From reading other ayat related to knowledge, it seems that one should be grateful by putting his knowledge to use. One of the ayat of the Qur'an that indicates that those who do not put into practise what they know will only lose it occurs in surah Yunus 10:100. "And (although) it is not for any soul to believe except by God's permission; while casteth He uncleanliness (of infidelity) on those who use not their sense (ya`qilun -> `aql)." Another ayah that seems to indicate that those who are truly full of understanding will strive for the ways that are the best, rather than being satisfied with improprieties follows. "Those who hearken unto the word and follow the best of it; those are they whom God hath guided; and those it is who are the men of understanding (albab)." (39:18) That is, we should not be satisfied with less than the best. When we know a batter way of doing something, we should take that higher road. According to the words of Allah, this is the way of the intelligent people.

The A'immah use parables to demonstrate that we should avoid ignorance and use our intelligence. For example, Imam ar-Rida (as) said, "The friend of a person is his/her Intelligence and the enemy of a person is his/her ignorance." (Kafi, H 4, Ch. 1, h 4) We have also been informed that we need to put our knowledge to use.The Holy Prophet said, "Those who work without knowledge, they destroy more than what they gain." (Kafi, H 106, Ch. 12, h 3) Likewise, Imam Sajjad has informed us that not putting one's knowledge into practise separates one from Allah. Imam Ali ibn al Husayn (as) said, "It is written in the Gospel, ‘Do not inquire to know what you do not know until you practice what you know, because not practicing what one knows does not increase to one anything but disbelief and nor it increases anything to one's relation with Allah but alienation." (Kafi, H 110, Ch. 13, h 4)

When we fail to practise what we know, the knowledge leaves us an eventually leaves us devoid even of bacis learning. For example, a person from one of the sects that broke off from Islam once asked, "Why are sunni's not allowed to marry Ismaili's? ... what's "laws" are out there that prohibit this from happening? Why would it be ok only if our children are to be raised sunni? Why not raised Ismaili since the kids would technically be half of each?" Not only did the questioner not know that a Muslim can only marry a Muslim and can only have his children raised as Muslims, the questioner did not even realise that since religion is not the same as culture, it cannot be inherited genetically! Therefore, the person assumed that rather than being born on the fitrah of accepting monotheism, a child would be born half with her mother's sect and half with her father's sect. Obviously, I doubt that someone who refuses to practise what she knows of linguistic skills will come to this result in matters of din. However, the fact is that whenever we speak, write, act, etc. we are putting into practise what we know. If we only practise that which is lower than what we learned, our knowledge will slip away from us just like milk will leak out of a cracked jar.

The commentary of an ayah in surah al `Ankabut ("And (1771) these similitudes We do set forth unto people, but understand them none but the learned (ones) (`alimum -> `ilm)", 29:43) seems to indicate that it is the jahilin who mock knowledge - "(1771) The heathens used to ridicule the parables of the spider's web. It is said in this verse that the parables cannot be understood but by the learned ones endowed with the power of understanding." From this, it could be surmised that to turn one's nose up at knowledge is a trait of the kuffar that should be avoided. The ayah at 6:116 warns us of the consequences of following popular trends that have no basis in the principles of Islam and lables such an attitude as folloiwing only uesses and conjectures. "And if thou obey most of those in the earth, they will lead thee astray from God's way; they follow not but conjecture, they only (falsely) guess."

Imam Musa has indicated that allowing oneself to err constantly wipes out one's wisdom, which leads to one's own destruction: Hisham ibn al Hakam has said the following: Abu al Hassan Musa ibn Ja`far stated the following to me: "O Hisham, one who would support three things against an other three kinds of things he would be leading to the destruction of his own intelligence. (1) Darkening of one's ability to think with day dreaming, (2) the abolishment of the sparks of one's wisdom with excessive bluffs and (3) the extinguishing of the lights of the lessons from experience by the desires of one's soul. One who would destroy his own intelligence he has destroyed his own worldly life as well as the life to come." (Kafi, H 12, Ch. 1, h 12) Allah also condemned the lack of understanding and knowledge in passages such as 2:170-271, 5:103, 6:37, 25:44, 29:63, 31:25, and 37:138.

Edited by abaleada

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