Knowledge is connected in Islam with worship. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Qur’an and pondering upon it is worship, travelling to gain knowledge is worship. The practice of knowledge is connected with ethics and morality – with promoting virtue and combatting vice, enjoining right and forbidding wrong.
Knowledge is pursued and practiced with modesty and humility and leads to beauty and dignity, freedom and justice.
The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to Allah. It is not simply for the gratification of the mind or the senses. It is not knowledge for its own sake or science for its own sake. Knowledge accordingly must be linked with values and goals.
One of the purpose of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, arrogance and shamelessness in the reckless pursuit of higher standards of material comfort.
Another purpose of knowledge is to spread freedom and dignity, truth and justice. It is not to gain power and dominance for its own sake.
The Qur’an is our most important link with reality. It is essential therefore to acquire a knowledge of the Qur’an and its essential guidance. We need to have a knowledge of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad [s] too. This is because his Sunnah is the practical method or path for implementing Islam. The Sunnah includes what the noble Prophet [s] said, what he did and what he agreed to. We also need to have a knowledge of the Shari’ah or the Islamic Moral and Legal System which regulates man’s actions. We need to know its purposes and how it categorises life’s transactions, that is, what is lawful and what is unlawful and the principles and values that govern each.
Knowledge or ‘ilm refers primarily to the Islamic fields of knowledge, such as Tafsir (Qur’anic Exegesis), Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), and Kalam (Islamic Scholastic Theology). One effect of the claim now made by many people that modern disciplines such as engineering and business studies also count as ‘ilm is that the traditional disciplines are being neglected, with the result that the Muslim world is losing its spiritual and intellectual leadership. Muslims therefore have to remind themselves that to seek true knowledge is not simply recommended, it is an obligation, for the Prophet [s] taught that “The quest for knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim man and woman.”