Islam’s Stress On Seeking Knowledge
Islam gives due attention to bettering the skills of man. It encourages man to learn and never stop learning. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said ” Seeking knowledge is an individual obligation (on every Muslim man and woman).” He (peace be upon him) meant to say that a Muslim should be seeking knowledge from the cradle to the grave, that is, regardless of his age.
The Holy Qur’an stresses the importance of seeking knowledge in hundreds of places as seeking knowledge is among the things that raise man above the level of animals. The Qur’an also praises those who have knowledge as they fear Allah more than the common people “It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah.” (Qur’an, 35:28) Not only that, it stresses that those who have knowledge can never be equated with those who do not: “Say: “Are those equal, those who know and those who know not? It is only those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.” (Qur’an, 39:9). This simply motivates all Muslims to seek knowledge because by so doing, they win Allah’s approval Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also encouraged learning foreign languages: he (peace be upon him) was reported to have said “Whoever learns a language of a people, s/he is safe from their guile.”
Also it is noteworthy to mention that Islam also encouraged women to seek knowledge. In other words, it is an obligation for both genders to seek knowledge because this will lead to raise a successful Muslim family based on knowledge and understanding. It is also important to say that the woman is not a passive participant in the educational process for it is mentioned in several books of Fiqh that ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) used to teach women religious matters, especially those related to women’s private life. Many of the matters concerning the Prophet’s private life were explained to Muslims by her to encourage them to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The Holy Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) address people using the plural form or the singular one with a plural connotation, that is, both men and women are obliged to seek knowledge because an enlightened mind is one of the most important traits of a good Muslim. Leaning in Islam has never been restricted to mental learning or book learning. In other words, Islam has always been concerned with having a healthy body. This is why, Omar Ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) advised Muslims, “Teach your children how to swim, archery and horse riding.”