Sunday, October 17, 2010

The pleasures of seeking knowledge

The rise of Muslims to the zenith of civilization in a period of four decades was based on lslam's emphasis on learning. This is obvious when one takes a look at the Qur'an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad which are filled with references to learning, education, observation, and the use of reason. The very first verse of the Qur'an revealed to the Prophet of Islam on the night of 27th of Ramadan in 611 AD reads:

"Recite: In the name of thy Lord who created man from a clot. Recite: And thy Lord is the Most Generous Who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not." (Quran, 96:1-5)

"And they shall say had we but listened or used reason, we would not be among the inmates of the burning fire." (Quran, 67:10)

"Are those who have knowledge and those who have no knowledge alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful. " (Quran, 39:9)

The Qur'an encourages people towards scientific research:.
"And whoso brings the truth and believes therein such are the dutiful." (Quran, 39:33)

Every Muslim man's and every Muslim woman's prayer should be:

"My Lord! Enrich me with knowledge.." (Quran, 20:114)

The pursuit of knowledge and the use of reason, based on sense and observation is made obligatory on all believers.

The following traditions of the Prophet supplement the foregoing teachings of the Qur'an in the following way:

Seek knowledge "even though it be in China."

• "The acquisition of knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, whether male or female."

• "The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr."

• "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave."

• "God has revealed to me, 'Whoever walks in the pursuit of knowledge I facilitate for him the way to heaven.'

• "The best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge."

• "Scholars should endeavor to spread knowledge and provide education to people who have been deprived of it. For, where knowledge is hidden it disappears."

• Some one asked the Prophet : "Who is the biggest scholar?" He replied: "He who is constantly trying to learn from others, for a scholar is ever hungry for more knowledge."

• "Seek knowledge and wisdom, or whatever the vessel from which it flows, you will never be the loser."

• "Contemplating deeply for one hour (with sincerity) is better than 70 years of (mechanical) worship."

• "To listen to the words of the learned and to instill unto others the lessons of science is better than religious exercises."

• "Acquire knowledge: it enables its possessor to distinguish right from the wrong, it lights the way to heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless - it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is an ornament among friends and an armor against enemies."

Learning is a natural pleasure. This pleasure is inborn and instinctive. The pleasure of learning is one of the essential pleasures of the human race. Without learning, survival itself is threatened.

The process of learning starts right after birth. It is true that babies who can barely talk investigate problems with all the zeal and excitement of explorers, make discoveries with the passion and absorption of dedicated scientists. At the end of each successful investigation, one can see on the tiny face an expression of innocent and pure heartfelt pleasure. The process of physical growth stops when a boy or girl reaches puberty, that is with the on set of menarche in the girls and with the change in the voice and growth of moustache and beard in boys. After puberty it is impossible to increase the height both in boys and girls.

On the other hand the mental faculties grow from birth until death. At some point in our lifetime, the physical body becomes sick or ill and gradually dies; even the emotions become duller. But the mind continues to live, and even grows more lively and active, enjoys itself more, works and plays with more expansion and delight. I have seen grandparents obtaining Bachelors, Masters and Ph. D. degrees at the ages of 70, 80 or 90.

The pleasure of learning is not confined to learning from textbooks, which are too often tedious. But it does include learning from book magazines (periodicals), newspapers, movies, television, radio and traveling.

When you stand in a big library in front of thousands of books do not think they are lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. Each has its own voice, which is as inaudible as the radiobroadcast waves falling directly on ears. Just as one switches on the radio to listen, similarly a person needs to open a book to hear the voice far distant in time and space. One can hear the voice speaking, mind to mind, and heart to heart. Reading of books gives you two different delights. One is the pleasure of understanding the unknown and the unexpected. The other pleasure is of deepening one's knowledge of a specified field.

Apart from books, learning means keeping the mind open and active to receive all kinds of experience. As pointed out earlier there is great emphasis on learning and seeking knowledge in Islam.

The Prophet Mohammed ordered Muslims to be active in their search for learning, crossing oceans and continents if necessary. " Seek knowledge even in China" he said. Learning also means learning to practice one' s own professional skills - that of a physician, engineer, musician or craftsman.

Crafts and hobbies lead you into fresh fields of enjoyment and give you relaxation and activity without tension. One should know that tension is the prime cause of heart attacks, ulcers, hypertension, and most of the human diseases.

Traveling is an important activity in the pleasures of learning. There are many examples of exceptionally informed people who never read books and newspapers, but acquire knowledge through traveling. One should travel with an open mind, an alert eye and a wish to understand other people and other places.

A saying of Prophet Muhammad is ... With knowledge man rises to the heights of goodness and to a noble position, associated with sovereigns in this world, and attains the perfection of happiness in the next.

There are many people in this world who have played themselves to death, or eaten and drunk themselves to death. Nobody ever died because of thinking or learning. People who avoid learning, or abandon it, find no joy in life, find that life is dry. No learner has ever run short of subjects to explore. The pleasures of learning lead to happiness. One can live a long, healthy and rewarding life by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning. Learning is everyone's birthright. Everyone - young or old, rich or poor, male or female, has access to learning. Exercise your birthright. Remember what you have learned cannot be taken away by others.

Source: article By: Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. IslamiCity* -

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