The Importance of knowledge
Mankind is different from all creation because of its ability to analyse, study, think and reflect. Through this learning and investigation of the world, and indeed all creation around him, he comes to many natural conclusions as well as comes across numerous questions.
Everything in creation seems to have a purpose or role, so what is mine? Everything has an order or law that it adheres to, so what are the guiding principles or laws that I am meant to follow? Everything has a clearly defined role to play, just like the sun in our solar system, what is my role in creation? There is harmony and mutual co-existence in all matter and creation, so why do humans create so much chaos and disorder? These are just a few of these numerous questions.
Many of these questions can't be answered easily because scientific study and reasoning is confined to the material world not the spiritual and unseen world(s). For us to understand this unseen realm, we have been provided with knowledge in the form of religious guidance from the creator of all these realms. Through this guidance, the Creator provides the answers to all our questions as well as guidelines to further improve our own spiritual well being and understanding. We are encouraged to investigate and study the material world around us so that we can come closer to our Lord.
And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid all false deities …
Every nation was given guidance through special teachers called prophets. They were individual people who were purified and taught the will and plan of God by inspiration and revelation. The Prophet's purpose was to propagate these teaching throughout the nation or people they were sent to. They taught the people about their creator and their role in this universe: they taught the people about spiritual matters and about the unseen world; they encouraged them to be good and abide by the rules that their creator had laid down. The prophets also taught them things that were beyond their human comprehension such as death, the Hereafter- the Day of Judgement, Heaven and Hell.
When Adam was created he was given a unique gift of free-will which allowed him to follow his own thoughts and desires. The rest of creation was different because it was pre-programmed to carry out the commands and wishes of its creator. For example, Angels must carry out every command they are given, without choice, whilst humans have a choice to disobey or obey their creator.
If humans decide that they want to obey their creator then they will ultimately be rewarded for their actions and will be given a status above the Angels. However, if humans decide to neglect the commands of their creator and follow their own whims, they will be punished and will be given a lowly status.
The ability to study becomes a means to develop an understanding of the creation and thus recognising the true magnificence of the creator. The beauty of a painting may impress us so much that we praise the artist for his ability and skill. Similarly, we are over-awed with the beauty and magnificence of creation - we praise its Maker. Only by investigation and study do we see the true brilliance and impressive qualities in creation to give credit to its Maker. This gives us a better understanding of the creator and brings us closer to Him.
Through this knowledge, a more dynamic faith replaces the blind faith, pushes aside the barriers, indeed shackles, of ignorance and superstition. These gifts of intelligence and reasoning become a means of spiritual growth hence an act of worship. They take us purposefully towards the truth, supported by a vision of true clarity.
This day and age, we study the world around us and credit everything to chance! We totally neglect the spiritual side where many of the answers lie. Humans are encouraged to study the guidance in the Quran, which is a remedy for this illness. It encourages them to look at the obvious signs around them and within themselves, which they are currently overlooking and neglecting. It encourages them to study the Quran with an open mind so that they too will believe, without doubt, that this is the word of the creator. The Quran gives them evidence to prove its case and shows them many signs that strengthen its arguments. It appeals directly to the heart and soul.
Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur'an, or are their :hearts locked up by them? (Qur'aan 47:24)
Soon will we show them our signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes clear to them that this is the truth...
It gives them proofs and truths, the magnitude of which they are beginning to understand today. Although the Quran was revealed in an age of backwardness and ignorance, the message of the Quran is applicable and needed today as it was 1400 years ago. New weight is give to the 'signs' in the Quran when studied by modern scientific methodology. Not only does modern scientific knowledge confirm that every statement in the Quran is scientifically correct but also poses many questions such as how such knowledge ended up in such an old book.
"...our knowledge of these disciplines is such, that it is impossible to explain how a text produced at the time of the Qur'an could have contained ideas that have only been discovered in modern times." Dr. Maurice Bucaille
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? [Qur'an 21:30]
It provides advice and guidelines for all humans to follow so that they can maintain a healthy physical and spiritual life as well as abide on earth in peace and harmony. It doesn't ask for blind obeying of commands and rules but instead asks us to use the intelligence that we were born with to come to the truth. Sincere searching for the truth with objectivity can only lead to the one truth - God Almighty.
The start of every journey is with the first footstep; the success of every project lies in its foundations. The first step is a desire to search for the truth and the foundation is a good understanding and recognition of our creator. When we have a firm grasp of the basics of life, the path in life becomes easy with the many obstacles and pitfalls clear and easy to identify. The mind remains open and the tools of study - reasoning and understanding - remain sharp and effective.
May Allah make our journeys in life easy and help us the tread the path of his pious servants and teachers. May Allah illuminate our paths in life with the light of the Quran and Sunnah.