Why is it important to acquire knowledge?

“Say: O My Lord! Increase my knowledge.”

[Holy Qur’an 20:115]

With the help of God, human beings start learning from the womb and when we first open our eyes after being born, we discover a whole new world. We learn how to respond to our parents and the world around us before we can even speak and slowly develop skills and abilities to make tasks easier to accomplish. This type of learning in particular should not stop until the day we die so that we can continuously develop our character and talents.

Acquiring knowledge is essential and we aren’t just talking about basic academia, going to school and further education. Good education does not just mean to study hard and obtain a degree – it also means to understand new things and understand each other for the betterment of the whole of mankind. We are talking about enhancement in general knowledge, exploring the reasoning behind the elements of life and questioning our existence and our purpose within this world. Education for all leads to equality among human beings and removes feelings of difference, promotes peace, can eradicate poverty, bring good governance and remove corruption. It makes us more capable of bringing any desired change and uplift in the human mind and society.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Having advanced knowledge helps not only tackle the outside world but it also helps an individual channel their own thoughts and emotions from something trivial e.g. anger to something more productive and enables them to reach wider goals. This in essence helps a person develop as a human being. As Epicurus of Samos (a Greek philosopher) has argued: “the best life is one that produces the least pain and distress.” Attaining knowledge allows us to divert our energy into our goals and something productive leading to positive outcomes and satisfaction which minimizes stress, increasing our chances of living longer and happier.

The Holy Prophet (sa) is reported to have enjoined his followers to seek knowledge even if they have to travel to China. This does not need to be taken literally – it simply means that we should do whatever is necessary to educate ourselves, no matter how difficult it may seem. We should make efforts to learn about the world and everything in it as well as understanding the religion that we follow. The Holy Qur’an also says that we should ‘travel in the Earth’ several times and see how previous nations fared which points to a need to study history and other religions as they teach us to follow what is good and to protect ourselves from evil. We should stay informed of the current situation of the world which shows us how people do not really feel at peace when they follow their worldly desires to the extreme and teaches us great lessons in remembering and thanking Allah for all that we have.

Generally speaking, travelling is important for us to develop ourselves and to increase our understanding. Reading about certain places and cultures is one thing but to immerse ourselves in them is a completely different and thought provoking experience. It broadens our minds and makes us more accepting of the cultures and traditions of others.

The word of wisdom is the lost property of a Muslim, so that, wherever he finds it, he should take it, as he is most entitled to it.

Tirmidhi

Last but not least, we should also study the Qur’an as much as possible. The first word that was revealed of the Holy Qur’an was “iqra” meaning “read”, showing the importance of learning. The Holy Prophet (saw) said, “O people I am leaving behind among you the Holy Book and the Sunnah; if you follow these in letter and spirit you will never be strayed.” The Holy Qur’an is the fountainhead of all knowledge, from which we are able to learn about all that our religion expects of us as well as providing us with an understanding of the world. We must study it wholeheartedly as it is the only complete guide for humanity.

 

written by SS, SPS, SW and SMA

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