The very first word of revelation to our beloved Prophet Muhammad was the word “Iqra!”. This is an imperative and means: “Read!”.
This very first word of revelation points to an extremely important part of our religion, which is knowledge. We read to obtain knowledge.
But why is knowledge so important in Islam? Because it is only through knowledge that we can do what Allah expects us to do. It is only through knowledge that we know our place on this earth and our role as human beings.
It is only through knowledge that we can worship Allah as He wants us to worship Him. And it is only with knowledge that we can become true spiritual beings.
It is through knowledge, acting on that knowledge in the right and good intention, sincerity and perseverance in our actions that knowledge can transform us into spiritual beings and make us better Muslims and more beloved to Allah.
Acting upon Our Knowledge
There exists a difference between knowledge and information. Everybody can get information. We live in a world that is flooded with all kinds of information, including information about Islam. Anybody can open the Internet and find the information he or she is looking for.
However, the difference between knowledge and information is that knowledge becomes a part of a person. True knowledge becomes ingrained in a person and makes that person act accordingly.
One of the most important things to do after we obtained new information is to act upon it. Only by acting upon what we have learned does information become knowledge.
When we act on the knowledge we have, this knowledge becomes an inherent part of ourselves and only then can it be truly called knowledge. And once we act upon our knowledge, Allah will grant us more knowledge.
Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that if Allah wishes good for a person, He grants him understanding in religion (Islam). We should always make supplication to Allah to gift us with sacred knowledge. (Quran 20:114)
No Spirituality without Sacred Knowledge
If we aim to become true servants of God, we have to endow ourselves with sacred knowledge. We have to learn how we can become pleasing to God.
We have to learn how to clean and polish our souls. We have to learn how to feel the feelings that Allah has put in our religion.
If we long for more spirituality in our lives, we have to search for sacred knowledge.
We need to learn more about this beautiful religion.
We need to know what is pleasing to God and what is abhorrent in the eyes of God. We need to start with the basics and slowly work our way up.
We cannot expect to feel true love and longing for God if we still engage in major sins.
It is best to have a genuine spiritual teacher who can guide us on this path to remake ourselves for God.
Never Stop Seeking Knowledge
Once we have managed the basics and have become firm in our obligatory acts and abstained from the major sins, we should start searching for more knowledge how we can make ourselves more pleasing to Allah. We need to learn how to become a better servant of Allah.
This is an on-going process. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (may Allah shower peace and blessings on him) said that we should aim to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. Because by continuously seeking knowledge we acknowledge that we have still not reached the goal. We still have not arrived where God wants us to be.
That is the beauty of Islam: you can always get more: more knowledge, more piety, more spirituality, more love, more obedience. The seeker of sacred knowledge will always feel thirsty for more knowledge.
To Seek Knowledge is Our Human Nature
God has created humanity with one of His most important characteristics, which is that of knowledge. God is the Most Knowledgeable. He is the All Knowing. When God created the first human being and Prophet, Adam, He taught him all the names and knowledge.
The scholars of Islam explain that this includes worldly knowledge as well as knowledge about God and the names of God. This shows that we have been created to learn and to obtain knowledge.
Furthermore, Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed explained that this sacred knowledge about God has been reserved for human beings. It is a light that God bestows on those who seek it.
Knowledge is Light
Our Prophet Muhammad said that knowledge is light and what he meant was that sacred knowledge, knowledge about our religion will bring light into our lives.
Sacred knowledge illuminates our hearts. If we make the attempt to seek sacred knowledge and depart on the path of knowledge about Islam, we will see that any kind of darkness will leave our life. We will feel closer to God. We will feel more feelings for God.
Our prayers will become more focused. We will be able to better understand what God is telling us in his beautiful book. We will start seeing more signs of His wonderful power and tremendous might in His creation. We will feel it more difficult to do things that are not pleasing to God.
And once this shining light of knowledge enters our hearts and lives, it will Insha’Allah also illuminate our surroundings, our families and communities. We will be able to spread the knowledge and spread the light of knowledge to the people around us.
All knowledge comes from God and we should always be grateful for any good knowledge that we can obtain. One way to express our gratefulness is to pray two prayer cycles to show our beloved God how grateful we are of what He has given us.
And when we are grateful and appreciate the knowledge we were given, Insha’Allah, God will give us more. More knowledge and more light to make us shine like a bright star.
This article is based on a lecture held by Shaykh Mufti Kamaluddin Ahmed. Any mistakes are due to my misunderstanding. You can visit his website here: www.islamicspirituality.org