Quran, Hadith and Knowledge

by The Editorial Team Published on: 1st September 2002

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The Quran, repeatedly calls on the believers to seek knowledge, "And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect." (45: 13)

Summarised extracts from a full article:
Islam and Science by Salah Zaimeche

“Read: In the name of your Lord Who creates – creates man from a clot. Read: And your Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teaches by the use of the pen, teaches man that which he knew not.” Quran 96:105

First and foremost, the Quran, repeatedly calls on the believers to seek knowledge, whilst at the same time it makes a number of observations on phenomena that stimulate intellectual effort such as creation, and the planets. Some verses among many work in this sense:

“Say [unto them, O Muhammad]: Are those who know equal to those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed” (39: 9)

“In time, we shall show them our signs [ayatina] in the utmost horizons [of the universe] and within their inner selves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice, since He is Witness over all things.” (41:53)

“And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect.” (45: 13)

The Quran repeatedly uses the expressions: `Why do they not reflect? Why do they not ponder?’ It constantly encourages the use of intellect and invites people to think, investigate and analyse. Muhammad Iqbal argues that by repeatedly reminding mankind to reflect and ponder, the Quran aims to `awaken in man the consciousness of that of which nature is regarded as a symbol.'(endnote 13) And in the words of Al-Faruqi `God created the world and implanted in it His immutable patterns that make it a cosmos. He designed it in a way calling for wonder: perfect, orderly, malleable, its parts causally and theologically bound to one another… He invited the man to study and investigate nature, to make the necessary deduction, and thus recognise, worship, and serve Him’.

The Quran calls upon `this widest possible scholarship, confident that men will find Islam’s claims for God and His providence, for nature, for man and history, confirmed. It made a point of faith to discern the patterns of God in nature, an act of piety to articulate those patterns correctly and adequately, and an act of charity to teach them to others.'(endnote 14)

There are scores of hadiths (sayings of the Prophet) in which the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) enjoins Muslims to seek knowledge. Here is a couple:

“Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”

“Seeking Knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim male and female.’

References and Further Reading

-The introduction to The Qur’an, a New translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem; Oxford University Press; 2004-5

-I.R. and L.L. Al-Faruqi: The Cultural Atlas of Islam, Mac Millan Publishing, London, 1986.

-T. Burckhardt: Moorish Culture in Spain, George Allen & Unwin, London; 1972.

-W. Blunt: Splendours of Islam; Angus and Robertson; London; 1976; p. 50.

-B. Koehler: Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism. Lexington Books, London, 2014, p.146.

-A. Abd Al-Kader: Land Property and Land Tenure in Islam; The Islamic Quarterly; Vol 5 (1959), pp. 4-11.

-Hasan Zilur Rahim: Ecology in Islam, Protection of the Web of Life, a Duty for all Muslims, Middle East and Arab Countries, Environmental Handbook, International Business Publication, Washington, 2015, vol 1 p. 70.

-Abu Bakr Ba et al: Islamic Principles for the Conservation of the Natural Environment, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1983.

-R. Swartz: Islam and Mathematics, a Hidden Story, Conference Paper, April, 2014; at
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270903969_Islam_Mathematics_A_Hidden_History; accessed on 14 Aug 2018.

-M.H. Sadar: Science and Islam, is there a conflict; in The Touch of Midas; Z. Sardar ed (Manchester University Press 1984).

-J. Lyons: The Western University and the Arab Tradition, A secret History; North-Western University, Qatar, 2015.

-A Dallal: Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History; Yale University Press, & London, 2010.

-David A. King, “Astronomy and Islamic Society: Qibla, Gnomonics, and Timekeeping,” in R. Rashed in collaboration with R. Morelon: Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Volume 1, London and New York 1996.

-E. S. Kennedy and I. Ghanem, eds., The Life and Work of Ibn al-Shatir: An Arab Astronomer of the Fourteenth Century (Aleppo: Institute for the History of Arabic Science,)

-A.S. Saidan: Computational techniques in a set of late medieval astronomical tables; Journal of the History of Arabic Science; vol 1 (1977); pp. 24-32.

-J.L. Berggren: Al-Biruni on plane maps of the sphere; Journal of the History of Arabic Science; vol 6 (1982); pp. 47-112.

-D. King: An analog computer for solving problems of spherical astronomy; Archive Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences; vol 24; pp. 219-42.

-D. King: Some Illustrations in Islamic Scientific Manuscripts and Their Secrets, in G.N. Atiyeh ed: The Book in the Islamic World; The Written Word and Communication in the Middle East, State University of New York Press, The Library of Congress, 1995, pp. 149-178.

-R. Bulliet: Travel and Transport; Dictionary of the Middle Ages; op cit; vol 12; pp. 147-8.

-T. Burckardt: Perenial Values in Islamic Art: in The Islamic Review, (September 1967); pp. 34-40.

-S. Spectorsky: Al-Bukhari; Dictionary of the Middle Ages; vol 2; pp. 397-9.

-A.Y al Hassan: Factors behind the rise of Islamic Science, in A.Y. Al Hassan et al ed: The Different Aspects of Islamic Culture, vol 4, Part 1, UNESCO, 2001, pp. 55-86, at p. 71.

-Z. Sardar: Explorations in Islamic Science (Mansell; London; 1989), p. 85.

-David A. King, In Synchrony with the Heavens: Studies in Astronomical Timekeeping and Instrumentation in Medieval Islamic Civilization (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2004), 637-8.

-A.L. Tibawi: Islamic Education (Luzac and Company Ltd, London, 1972), p. 24.

-M. Hamidullah: Educational system in the time of the Prophet; in Islamic Culture 13 (January 1939): pp. 48-59.

-Muzaffar Iqbal: The Making of Islamic Science, Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur; 2009.

-D. King: Science in the Service of Religion: the Case of Islam, Impact of Science on Society 159 (Paris: Unesco, 1990).


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