“…And say, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge.'” (Quran 20:114)
The Importance of Education in Islam: From the Perspective of Quran and Sunnah
“…And say, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge.'” (Quran 20:114)
From the era of archeozoic to cenozoic, all kinds of intellectual developments are firmly based on the strength of education. Education is the key to balancing the growth of the personality by training yourself to be spiritual, intellectual, and rational and it is the path that connects your personality with the pure soul.
Education in Islam means acquiring divine knowledge. In Islam, Ilm means the action of education. Knowledge is not confined to Ilm but also relates to moral aspects. In Islam, education plays a vital role which helps us to retain knowledge. It is the mode of spreading faith among the world’s diverse people. It is the easiest way to spread knowledge and virtue around the universe.
The Quranic Emphasis on Knowledge
knowledge in Islam has been emphasized repeatedly in the Quran, the ultimate source of guidance for Muslims. The Quran encourages believers to seek knowledge as a means of spiritual growth and empowerment. Numerous verses highlight the importance of education, such as: “Read! In the name of your Lord who created.” (Quran 96:1)
“Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge by degrees.” (Quran 58:11)
These verses illustrate that education and seeking knowledge are not only commendable but also a means of elevating one’s status in the eyes of Allah.
Hence, in Hadith , there are various chapters related to Ilm which means knowledge. Thus, Muslim scholars say that education is the essence of knowledge. Moreover, it is the channel through which one can strengthen one’s faith and Imaan. Therefore, it also helps us in acquiring the necessary knowledge. In other words, Ilm or knowledge is a concept to understand (‘al-ma ani al-ma luma).
The Role of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) as an Educator
Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) role as an educator was pivotal in shaping the Islamic tradition of seeking knowledge. He emphasized the value of education and encouraged his companions and followers to pursue knowledge in various domains. His teachings include:
“Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 224)
“The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” (Sahih Muslim 1679a)
These teachings underscore the significance of education in Islam and elevate the status of scholars and those who seek knowledge.
The Integration of Religious and Secular Education
Islam promotes the integration of religious and secular education, highlighting the need for a comprehensive understanding of various disciplines.
Islamic scholars throughout history have excelled in fields such as science, medicine, philosophy, and mathematics, recognizing the importance of acquiring knowledge in both religious and worldly affairs.
Education for the Betterment of Society
Education in Islam is not solely for personal enrichment but also for the betterment of society. Muslims are encouraged to seek knowledge to contribute positively to their communities, address societal challenges, and promote justice and compassion.
The Quran mentions: “And say, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge.'” (Quran 20:114)
This verse exemplifies the Islamic belief that knowledge should be sought with the intention of benefiting oneself and others.
Women’s Education in Islam
In Islam, the duty of seeking knowledge and learning is obligatory for every Muslim. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 224)
The Quran treats knowledge as a means to reaching iman (faith) for all Muslims, males, and females, to become true believers. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stated three things concerning education, ‘Real values are necessary, ‘knowledge is power, and ‘Good guidance is needed for life’.
A girl’s education in Islam is not prohibited. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ ) emphasized women’s education in many Hadith Abu Musa Al-Ashaari narrates that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ ) said: He who has a slave girl, teaches her good manners, improves her education, and then manumits and marries her will get a double reward (Sahih al-Bukhari 2547).
This approach was followed to eradicate slavery in the early days of Islam but simultaneously indicates the importance of women’s education in Islam. From the above Hadith, it is clear that women’s education is also essential and necessary to a community. Those who disapprove of women’s education speak not from a religious perspective but a somewhat limited and tremendous political view.
A Practical Example
The Prophet (ﷺ) made practical examples in his lifetime for Muslims of all times to get guidance. For example, in the battle of Badr, the Muslims arrested 70 non-Muslims after inflicting a crushing defeat on the invading army of non-Muslims of Mecca.
Apart from decent treatment, the Prophet set a criterion with regard to release of the prisoners of the war that manifested the importance of education in Islam. The Prophet ﷺ provided, “Those who were literate among the prisoners could go free if they taught basic literacy skills to 10 Muslim children.” (Shirazi, Imam Muhammad. The Prophet Muhammad – A Mercy to the World. Createspace Independent Pub, 2013, p. 74).
Education holds a paramount position in Islam, as emphasized by the Quran and exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad. Seeking knowledge is not only a personal obligation but also a means to deepen one’s connection with Allah and contribute to the betterment of society.
Islamic principles encourage integrating religious and secular education, highlighting the need for a holistic understanding of the world. By nurturing a society that values education, Muslims can continue to uphold the teachings of Islam and contribute positively to the global community.
We will conclude with a Hadith of the Holy Prophet ﷺ :
“God, His angels, and all those in the heavens and the Earth, including ants in their hills and fish in the water, send down blessings on those who educate others in beneficial knowledge.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2685)
In a nutshell, I believe that there is no need for more words if we cut the long story shortly, that these sayings of Prophet ﷺ and the Quranic verses are great proof of how important education is in Islam and how vital it is to consider knowledge-seeking necessary.