By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
28 Sept 2012
It was his practice to retire with his family for a month of every year to a cave for deep meditation, away from the humdrum of the city. His place of retreat was Hira, a desert hill near Makkah, and his chosen month was Ramadan, the month of heat. He was then an agnostic. It was there one night toward the end of his tranquil month that the first revelation came to him when he was forty years old. He was deep asleep or in a trance when he heard a voice say: “Read!” He said: “I cannot Read.” The voice again said: “Read!” He said: “I cannot read.” A third time the voice, more terrible, commanded: “Read!” He said: “What can I read?” The voice said:
“Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth.
Createth man from a clot
Read: And it is thy Lord the Most Bountiful
Who teacheth by the pen,
Teacheth man that which he knew not”
The man was Muhammad, the most influential person in the world. He was an unlettered Prophet yet the book that was revealed to him means “Reading”. The context of the verse tells us to keep on trying until the target is achieved. That is why even after failing again and again, Muhammad again tried to “read” and he succeeded.
The first message of Islam, as was revealed to Muhammad, was not to offer salah (pray), nor to fast in the month of Ramadan, nor to give Zakat, nor to go to Hajj; it was to read, to gain knowledge, not just religious or Islamic knowledge but simply knowledge. In Islam, it is compulsory for every man and woman to gain knowledge. It is said that a dower of teaching a verse of the Holy Quran is equal to a mountain of gold!
Allah says in so many places in the Quran that those who know are not equal to those who do not know. In ch 39 verse 9 Allah asks Muhammad to say:
“Are those who know equal to those who know not? It is those who are endowed with understanding that receive admonition.”
In ch 2 verse 269, Allah reveals:
“.to whom wisdom (knowledge) is granted indeed he receives an overflowing benefit.”
Satan was kicked out of the Heaven because he did not understand the importance of knowledge and education. He did not bow to Adam when Allah had asked him to bow because, he argued, he was made from fire and his characteristic is to go up and Adam was made of clay, his characteristic is to remain on the ground. Hence he thought that he was superior Adam. But because Allah had taught Adam all the names, the position of Adam was uplifted.
“Sura 2, verses 31-34:
"And he taught Adam all the names, then presented them to the angels; then He said: Tell me the names of those if you are right. They said: Glory be to thee! We have no knowledge but that which Thou hast taught us; surely Thou art the knowing, the wise. He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names. Then when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not say to you that I surely know what is ghaib (absent, invisible) in the heavens and the earth and (that) I know what you manifest and what you hide? And when We said to the angels: Make obeisance to Adam they did obeisance but Iblis (did it not). He refused and he was proud and he was one of the unbelievers."
The holy Prophet said "Atta libul ilm faridhatol kuli muslim”, which means “attaining knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, whether man or woman”.
Muhammad always used to recite ‘Allah humma rabbi zidni ilma’, which means “O Lord, increase my knowledge”.
The saddest part is that in the religion which makes it mandatory for everyone to acquire knowledge, some of its followers do not allow women to avail of this right and duty.
The Taliban have blown up schools where girls are taught. When the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, women were forced to wear the burqa in public, because, according to a Taliban spokesman, “the face of a woman is a source of corruption” for men not related to them. They were not allowed to work, they were not allowed to be educated after the age of eight. Schoolgirls, women, teachers and schools have been and continue to be attacked by arsonists in acid attacks by Taliban members. UNICEF said there were 236 school-related attacks in Afghanistan in 2007.In August 2010 it was revealed through blood tests that a mysterious series of cases of mass sickness at girls’ schools across the country over the last two years were caused by a powerful poison gas.
Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise.
If we truly want to enter into Paradise then we have to choose good over evil and this comes through the knowledge of good and evil. Unless we know what is good and what is evil, we cannot make the right decision. We must gain as much knowledge as possible, but me should always remain humble. The more we share, the more we learn, and the more we learn, the more we know about our ignorance. So be knowledgeable and be humble.