All the progress that we witness in the world today has become possible because of a single human innate quality – learning. All the development, technology, social awareness, relationship building and management all have become possible because of us learning from experiences and observation. If this element were to be taken out of human history, then we would still be living in stone age.
The science of today is nothing else then observation. The scientists first observe a problem and then on the bases of experimentation followed by further observation reach to a particular solution. Thus, observation is science and science is a pivotal component of the whole learning process.
Islam is a great proponent of learning and stresses greatly on the importance of learning. Islam wants its followers to get knowledge about things that Allah has created and bestowed so that they are better able to acknowledge His blessings. The lines below discuss the ways in which Islam encourages learning, observation and science.
The first revelation to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was:
“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” (96:1-5)
These ayah of Quran clearly show that Allah Almighty firstly addressed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with the commandment of reading, which is a pivotal part of the learning process. Therefore, the beginning of revelation of Quran with the word ‘Read’ shows the kind of importance Islam gives to reading in general and seeking of knowledge and learning in particular. Moreover, this ayah also shows that teaching comes from Allah Almighty as he is the one who taught writing to man, therefore, the forms of learning that we see in the world at present are all a blessing from Allah Almighty and not utilizing them would mean being ungrateful of the blessings that are bestowed upon a person.
This provision of the ability to learn and seek knowledge is from Allah Almighty regarding which He says in Quran in the following way:
“And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah).” (16:78)
This ayah gives the reason behind the provision of senses by Allah Almighty. The purpose behind why Allah gave us sight, heart and hearing is that we should utilize it in the way of learning and get knowledge about whatever is around us. When a believer utilizes all these senses for the purpose of learning and seeking knowledge, then he or she ultimately reaches the conclusion that the blessings of Allah Almighty are endless and that we need to be grateful for each and every one of them with every breath of ours.
As far as the importance of seeking knowledge or striving in the way of its increase is concerned, Allah Almighty commanded Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to pray for its increase, in the following way in Quran:
“And say: ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (20:114)
From this ayah it is obvious that Allah Almighty encouraged Prophet (PBUH) to pray for increase in knowledge. A Muslim must try to understand that Muhammad (PBUH) was a Prophet and the most knowledgeable person there could ever be, if Allah is asking Him for praying for increase in knowledge, then the Muslims at present who have such little knowledge should never cease the quest for seeking more knowledge. Hence, there is no stop to learning and seeking of knowledge whether religious or scientific in Islam.
Pertaining to the reward associated with the process of learning and seeking knowledge, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in a hadith:
“Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Bukhari)
This hadith shows that in addition to the satiation of the spirit of knowledge, the pursuit of knowledge also comes with the pavement to the Paradise. Now this hadith can be interpreted in two ways. The first of which is the obvious that those who seek knowledge are blessed by Allah Almighty. The second way in which this hadith could be seen is the fact that when a person strives on the way of seeking knowledge and is true to the cause, he or she then gets to know the reality of things, and when one is able to understand the reality of things then he or she is able to differentiate between the right and wrong and the acting upon the former is what leads to paradise.
Etiquettes of Learning:
There have been different theorists throughout history who have spoken about different ways of learning. Some of those ways of learning are void of any code of conduct. Islam is a religion that strictly follows the code of conduct, therefore, Muslims scholars have given six etiquettes of learning.
Asking Question – The process of learning starts with asking question. A Muslim is to ask questions because if the questions are not asked then things will go on in the same unexplained manner making progress impossible. However, the one thing to remember while asking question is good manner. When questions are asked in the manner of politeness and with sincerity, there importance supersedes the questions asked in a rude or condescending manner which halts in learning.
Listening Attentively – Most of the times it happens is that when a person asks question afterwards he or she does not remain quite, which prevents the answers from reaching the heart and mind of the person. Therefore, after asking the right question it is more than imperative to keep quiet and listen to the answer attentively.
Try To Understand – Most of the times it happens that the answer goes over the head, this does not mean that there is something wrong with the answer, rather what it means is that one has not understood it properly. Therefore, sufficient time needs to be given to understanding as well.
Memorizing – Once one has received an answer to some question, one should hold on to it and try to memorize the answer so that when such a situation or the same problem is faced in the future, one could recall the memory and get the answer for that issue.
Teaching And Practice – After the question is answered and the answer properly understood, a seeker of knowledge then needs to further impart that knowledge to others. The confinement of knowledge to one’s own is selfish and it stops the process of learning. Moreover, other than teaching the other important thing is to act upon what is learnt as acting stands as the best form of teaching, therefore, the answer needs to be implemented in the form of acting upon it as well.
In short, Islam is a great proponent of learning and encourages all those who go on the path of learning. Islam understands that any kind of knowledge whether religious or scientific that is beneficial for mankind needs to be adopted and learned. It is only on the bases of knowledge that humans could become more advanced and civilized.