As the human intellect advances towards goodness, man loves reading and acquiring knowledge; and when his intellect advances towards perfection and maturity, he not only loves reading but also understanding the essence of things around him.
Man has been made superior to a vast number of creations by this reason, as he is equipped with a mind. That is what makes him human. If I am not mistaken, I guess without knowing the base and origin of our religion and origin of our being, or to claim anywhere with surety that I am a Muslim, is utter ignorance. It is not a name or dress code, like Abdullah or kameez shalwar, that differentiates us from non-Muslims; rather, it is our knowledge of accepting the ultimate truth that Allah alone governs our life and we are his creation and servants.
Knowledge is the cornerstone of Islam. Our religion does not allow us to be blind followers anywhere. It emphasises sound and balanced knowledge. So, as a Muslim, seeking knowledge is obligatory for us. For this, we are bestowed with the rational faculty.
The ultimate aim of knowledge must be self-transformation, or to put in the words of Moulana Rumi: “Knowledge that affects the body is like a serpent and knowledge that affects the heart is like a selfless friend”. The first and foremost objective of knowledge must be self-introspection: to ask yourself who governs every breath of my life and whose creation I am? This introspection requires a certain level of maturity.
Our knowledge is of no use if it does not bring a profound change within us. If not so, then it is better to be untaught rather than ill-taught. Knowledge must nudge us to develop a passion for understanding. Knowledge without understanding is like an attempt to reach the bottomless pit. True knowledge, along with wisdom, brings a person from darkness towards light. By such light he is able to see the way out of the dark den of his life. It is knowledge that makes a person perfect and gives him freedom.
True knowledge is qualitative, because the quality of understanding is far better than the quantity of information. As Bulleh Shah put it very beautifully:
Parh Parh ilm hazaar kitaban apna aap na parheya
Ja-ja vardha mandir masjid mann apne che na varheya
Larhde raheyon nal Shaitana nai nafas apni nal larheya
Pehle apne aap nu parh fer mandir masjid war jadon
Nafs jave tera mar fer nal Shaitane larh
(You read so many books to know, yet fail to ever read your heart. You rush to holy shrines, but would you dare enter the shrine of your heart. Every day you fight Satan but you never fight your own ego. You are quick to attack the evil one, yet pride is a battle you have not won).
Knowledge should not lead us towards arrogance. It should bring humility in our lives and conduct. It must remove our ignorance, laziness, violence, and, most importantly, elevate our status before our Lord. You will always notice a man of knowledge to be calm. He speaks always the language of love. His eloquence has a great hold on common people.
The writer has a PG degree in Islamic Studies from IUST Awantipora. [email protected]