By Ustadh Haaris Abdus Samad

When we ponder over the development of a nation, we can conclude that the main cause behind a nation’s development is knowledge. It is for this reason, that the first command of Allah to our beloved Messenger ﷺ was ‘Iqra’ (Read). This single command was the key to the development and rectification of the society. This not only shows us the importance of knowledge, but also that one of the many effective ways of giving back to society is through the medium of knowledge.

Allah says in the Qur’an (16:78):

 Allah took you out of the womb of your mothers not knowing a thing, thereafter He gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that you may show gratitude.

Allah teaches us in the above verse that we came in to this world having no knowledge whatsoever. It was only after He gave us the tools of knowledge (hearing, sight and intellect) that we developed in to the educated and successful people we are today. Therefore, no matter how successful we may become, we must always remember our roots, that once upon a time, we knew nothing.

Due to the greatness of knowledge, our Messenger ﷺ emphasised the importance of seeking knowledge. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Seeking knowledge is compulsory upon every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

The Prophet ﷺ also attached many virtues to the one who seeks knowledge, so that there may be an incentive for us when seeking knowledge. He ﷺ said:

“Whosoever treads a path to seeking knowledge, Allah will make the path to Jannah (Paradise) easy for him.” (Sahih Muslim)

The above hadith is sufficient to show us the virtue of seeking knowledge. The path to Jannah becoming easy can be understood in three ways:

  • Due to knowledge, one will be motivated to carry out extra good deeds, thereby leading to Jannah.
  • One will be occupied in contributing to society through teaching, which will mean he will constantly be engaged in activities that will lead him to Jannah.
  • The quality of one’s action will increase because he will be more conscious of what he is doing and who he is doing it for.

Ultimately, knowledge assists in rectifying our hearts; only when we rectify ourselves will we be able to rectify our society. Let’s take the example of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him): the manner in which he accepted Islam was through knowledge. He had knowledge and mastery of the Arabic language, and immediately understood that the words of the Qur’an could not be the words of man; it was only after he heard the verses in Surah Taha that he had a change of heart. Hence, this knowledge led him to accepting Islam and thereafter contribute to the reformation of society.

Any seeker of knowledge must always be aware that the objective of seeking knowledge is to reform society – even personal development aids in reforming society, albeit one person at a time. But, knowledge should never be sought for personal gain such as fame, pride etc. In fact, the Prophet ﷺ has informed us that one of the first people to entire the fire will be the knowledgeable one, because he sought knowledge with the intention of being called “a scholar”. On the other hand, one who seeks knowledge with the correct intention of giving back to the society, he will leave a great legacy behind him. The Prophet ﷺ said:

إذا مات ابن آدم انقطع عمله إلا من ثلاث: صدقة جارية، أو علم ينتفع به، أو ولد صالح يدعو له

“When the son of Adam passes away, his action cease apart from three: perpetual charity, knowledge through which benefit is derived, or a pious child who supplicates for him.” (Sahih Muslim)

Many legends of Islam are a testimony to this hadith. The likes of Imam Bukhari, Imam Shafi’i, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, and many others who adorned this world with their knowledge. They have left a legacy of contributing to society, not only in their era but right up to today; a millennia after their passing, through their teachings and writings.

Ramadan is a time in which we must make a firm resolve of reconnecting with our faith in a more meaningful and relevant way. Knowledge gives life to Iman (faith), therefore, we must use this blessed month to begin our journey of seeking knowledge. We must start by studying the Qur’an, its recitation, its meaning and its explanation. Thereafter, we must study the language of the Qur’an and all of the other beautiful sciences of Islam. If we do this, we will find a great shift in our connection with Allah, and in our connection with the society. We will feel more responsible for our societies, and it will no longer be left to a few individuals, rather it will be a collective effort.

May Allah allow us to seek knowledge in a way that pleases Him. May He make us a means of reforming our societies and may He give us the ability to begin the blessed journey in this blessed month.

Ustadh Haaris Abdul Samad graduated as a qualified scholar in 2017, having studied at Lantern of Knowledge, Leytonstone and Ebrahim College, Whitechapel. Since then he has been teaching Arabic, Qur’an, Hadith and other disciplines, and has served as an Imam and khateeb at Hayes Muslim Centre for 3 years. He is the founder of delivering 121 tuition in Islamic studies.