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Islam and the Value of Literacy

students studying in a classroom

Seeking knowledge is even a means to entering Paradise through studying and acquiring useful knowledge in different fields

The prominence of knowledge and education in Islam is absolutely clear. The very first verse of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the Night of Power (Laylat Al-Qadr) in the Month of Ramadan reads:

Read: In the name of thy Lord who created. Created man from a leech like clot. Read: And your Lord is the Most Bountiful. He taught by the pen. He taught man which he knew not. (Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

Thus iqra’ (read or recite) was the very first word of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet. In Surat Az-Zumar (the 39th chapter of the Qur’an) the Qur’an asks: “Can they be equal – those who know and those who do not know?” (Az-Zumar 39:9)

On the importance of seeking knowledge the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim (male and female).” (At-Tirmidhi)

Thus the privilege of education was not only a right for a Muslim- man or woman, but a duty upon them both from the very inception of Islam.

In Islam, the scholars are the heirs of the Prophets. In his Riyad As-Saliheen Imam An-Nawawi narrates that the Prophet Muhammad said:

“The learned are heirs of the prophets, and the prophets do not leave any inheritance in the form of (monetary wealth), but they do leave knowledge as their legacy. A person who acquires knowledge, acquires his full share (of this legacy).”

The Prophet also said: “The excellence of a scholar over another (ordinary) worshipper is like the excellence of the full moon over the rest of the heavenly bodies.” (Abu Dawud)

Al-Hassan Al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) said that “The ink of the scholar’s pen is more sacred than the blood of the martyr”.

and “The best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge” are known to all.

The Qur’an categorically states that those who are educated and enlightened can truly understand the glory and majesty of the Creator and appreciate His signs as commanded in the Qur’an:

And those who have no knowledge say: Why does not Allah speak to us (face to face) or why does not a sign come to us? (Al-Baqarah 2:118)

This is how God explains for you His guidance so that perhaps you will think. (Al-Baqarah 2:219)

Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. (Aal `Imran 3:190)

God will raise those of you who have faith and those who have been given knowledge by degrees. And God is Aware of what you do. (Al-Mujadilah 58:11)

This is how and why the followers of Islam should be educated knowledgeable believers.

Seeking knowledge is even a means to entering Paradise through studying and acquiring useful knowledge in different fields pertaining to both religious and worldly sciences as the Prophet said:

“Whoever seeks a way towards knowledge, Allah will make Paradise easy for them.”

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