In light of the martyrdom of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p), Shaykh Faiyaz Jaffer will join…
Learning is a lifelong process, and it is important that we never become complacent when it comes to seeking knowledge. For many of us when we complete our formal education, we often work under the assumption that life from that point on is supposed to be about work, family, and travel, all of which are great things that should certainly be prioritized. But committing ourselves to read, learn and gain new skills, and participate in activities should be a lifelong endeavor as well. In fact, the first revelation to the Messenger of God (pbuh&hp) was a commandment to read. As God said, “Read in the name of your Lord who created (all things).”1 Naturally life may get in the way and we become preoccupied with our work, family, and social responsibilities, but spending time to read and learn is vital for our spiritual, mental, and intellectual growth.
In addition to strengthening our intellectual acuity, the never-ending quest for seeking knowledge can also positively impact our worldview and allow us to open ourselves up to other people and experiences, which is crucial for our personal growth. Moreover, continuing on a journey to gain knowledge throughout our lives also keeps us from forming a myopic attitude toward ideas and beliefs that are different from our own. It makes us receptive to other value systems and sensibilities which can facilitate authentic human connections.
Seeking knowledge does not have to be limited to any specific science or subject; rather we should strive to be well-rounded individuals when it comes to both our religious and secular education. It is important to have a grounding in the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet and his family (pbut). We have access to physical and online libraries, quite literally at our fingertips! There is an abundance of rewards and incentives offered to those who seek knowledge. In a beautiful tradition from the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), he says, “Surely everything seeks forgiveness [to Allah] on behalf of the seeker of knowledge, even the fish of the ocean.”2 In another narration, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) is reported to have said “Seeking knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim. Let it be known that God loves those who seek knowledge.”3
However, some may feel that reading religious texts is a source of stress and anxiety because navigating the language can be challenging and our perception of religion is daunting. In reality, it is important to have a sound intention in seeking to learn the Quran or traditions of the Prophet and his family (pbut) for our betterment. Today, we have an abundance of literature available in the English language, which are not only translations of our most important hadith collections, but also original works by scholars and academics on relevant issues across various subjects.
Is Knowledge Only Quran and Hadith?
Seeking knowledge is not limited to what is stated above. Knowledge can be gained by traveling and learning about different cultures and people and by reading books, even comic books, and taking real-life lessons from them. It can also be gained by picking up a new hobby or learning a new language. Such things are not only fun but can also teach us important life skills that may prove useful someday. The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) states, “The best of knowledge is that which is beneficial.”4 As long as it does not conflict with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Ahl al- Bayt (pbut), we can pursue to learn anything we desire.
Bits of Advice
- Make time: With our busy schedules, sometimes it is hard to focus on anything other than our daily routines. However, we should reserve a few minutes every day for things that we enjoy doing outside of work and other chores, things that will help us grow spiritually and emotionally. We can start by making the intention to dedicate five minutes a day to reading and slowly increasing our capacity with the passage of time.
- Do not give up: We need to understand that learning something new takes time. We should not give up after trying a few times. We should give ourselves multiple chances and opportunities and we will find benefit in whatever we are choosing to learn. Particularly with religious learning, as mentioned, it may take some time to understand dense texts, but with God’s support, we will slowly, but surely, reap some benefit.
- Teach others: If we find benefit in what we learn, we should share it with our family and friends so that they may benefit as well. Imam Hasan (p) states: “Teach what you know to others and learn the knowledge of others for yourself.”5
1. The Holy Quran 96:1.
2. Al-Amali, al-Mufid, p. 29.
3. 3. Al-Kafi, al-Kulayni, vol 1, p. 31.
4. Mizan al-Hikma, al-Rishahri, vol. 3, pg. 2105.
5. Kashf al-Ummah, al-Arbali, vol. 2, p. 194.
١. قال الله تعالى: ((اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ))
“.٢. روي النبي (ص): “طالب العلم ليستغفر له كل شئ حتى حيتان البحر
“.٣. روي عن النبي (ص): “طلب العلم فريضة على كل مسلم ألا وإن الله يحب بغاة العلم
“.٤. روي عن النبي (صلى الله عليه وآله): “خير العلم ما نفع
“.٥. روي عن الإمام الحسن المجتبى (ع): “علم الناس وتعلم علم غيرك