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Knowledge in the Qur’an and Sunnah

Knowledge has a revered status in the Islamic religion and is placed alongside faith: “God will raise up in rank those of you who believe and have been given knowledge…” (Mujadalah 58: 11). There exist numerous prophetic traditions in praise of knowledge: The worthiest people are those with the highest knowledge; the search after knowledge is an obligation; seek after knowledge even if it be in China; the virtue of knowledge is higher in the eyes of God than that of faith. It is noted in one of Imam `Ali’s (PBUH) sermons that “there is no treasure more beneficial than knowledge.”

Thus, based on Islamic teachings, the faithful manage to save themselves while the learned have the additional art of saving others suffering from ignorance. The Qur’anic verses referring to the phases of the moon and the constellations (Baqarah 2: 189; An`am 6: 97; Yunus 10: 5) are clear indications of the importance of such branches of science as astronomy and mathematics. Another example is the prophetic hadith exhorting the acquisition of knowledge at the cost of the long and arduous journey to China, a land which at that time was a major center of research in pure sciences, with mathematics and medicine being the most well known. Thus, in Islam, the study of geometry and arithmetic was also deemed as highly valuable, where the reciters of the Qur’an and its exegetes called upon God in all earnest to expand their knowledge (Ta-Ha 20: 114). It was such an approach to knowledge that laid the groundwork for the unprecedented explosion of scientific activity in Islam.

* source: Molavi , Mohammad Ali "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.459

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