بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
:الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد
Al-Hamdu lillah, all praises are due to Almighty Allah (SWT / سبحانه وتعالى ), and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW / صلى الله عليه وسلم ), and upon his illustrious family and companions.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
ٱقۡرَأۡ بِٱسۡمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ (١) خَلَقَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ مِنۡ عَلَقٍ (٢) ٱقۡرَأۡ وَرَبُّكَ ٱلۡأَكۡرَمُ (٣) ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِٱلۡقَلَمِ (٤) عَلَّمَ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ مَا لَمۡ يَعۡلَمۡ (٥)
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
(1) Iqra’ / Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who created (all that exists), (2) Created humans from a clinging clot. (3) Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, (4) Who taught by the pen. (5) Taught humanity that which they knew not. [al-Qur’an, Chapter 96]
This was the very first revelation of the Sacred Quran by Allah (SWT) upon His final Messenger, our beloved Prophet Muhammd (SAW) over 1400 years ago in the Cave of Hira in Makkah al-Mukarramah. Of all the things that Allah Almighty could have chosen for His initial direct communication with His Prophet, He decided that knowledge would be the focal point of Islam at that time and forever after. The Holy Quran as we now have it, is full of references to think, reflect and ponder, and throughout the Book, Allah praises those folks of intellect and knowledge. The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammd (SAW) is replete with exhortations to study and with the merits and benefits of both acquiring and having knowledge to act upon in a righteous manner.
This, brothers and sisters, is the time of the year that our younger students start or return to school and college after the summer break. (Incidentally, we should review too, each family together: Did we spent the time during the vacation effectively, increasing our knowledge and practice of Islam for example, and perhaps plan to do better, come next summer.) We, the American Muslim community in North America in general, have for long valued the tradition of learning and we rightly pride ourselves of our academic achievements. After all, our deen, Islam, is centred around study and comprehension, and actions based on knowledge; we are indeed the ummah (people) of “Iqra” (Read)!
Islam, this beautiful and comprehensive way of life, teaches us to seek knowledge and wisdom wherever we find them. The Prophet (SAW) said that we are “obligated, males and females, to acquire knowledge”, and that “wisdom is the lost property of the believer and that he/she has more right to it than anyone else, irrespective of where we find it”. It is our duty, thereafter, to serve humanity with that information and experience, and fulfill their rights upon us. In this way we also serve the cause of Allah Almighty and fulfill His rights upon us.
Knowledge of all aspects of life is essential and encouraged, but so too is knowing about the Divine and of our duties and devotion. And, while we make no distinction between the sacred knowledge and the secular one, we do not sacrifice one for the other; in fact, the two go hand in hand and should be mutually compatible: our knowledge of the creation should confirm and strengthen our conviction of, and in, the Creator, and vice versa. We, as Muslims, must focus on both types of knowledge and increase in each sphere as we grow intellectually and spiritually into the best versions of ourselves as human beings and as believers in Allah and in our purpose. When we do this sincerely and diligently, Allah’s help and blessings are surely forthcoming. This is the way we should understand and interpret the first five ayaat (verses) revealed in the Quran (Chapter 96) that are referenced above.
Seeking knowledge, from an Islamic perspective, is a lifelong journey, (“from the cradle to the grave”). It is not restricted by space either (“even if you find it in China”). The ultimate objective is to produce in us a humility and reverence for Allah (SWT). He says, after describing various aspects of His creation:
إِنَّمَا يَخۡشَى ٱللَّهَ مِنۡ عِبَادِهِ ٱلۡعُلَمَـٰٓؤُاْۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ غَفُورٌ
Among His servants, it is only those who have knowledge that are truly in awe of Allah, Allah is indeed Almighty, Most Forgiving. (Quran, 35:28)
THE VIRTUES AND MERITS OF SEEKING KNOWLEDGE (from the Quran and Sunnah):
Obeying the very first command of Allah (SWT) to read, understand and proclaim (اقرأ)
Getting to know Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW) better and establishing a firm bond with them in the most desirable way - with those of intellect (أولوا الألباب)
Better comprehending the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and fully implementing Islamic values in your daily lives (الفقه في الدين)
Fulfilling your personal obligation (فريضة) and engaging in the best of voluntary deeds (أفضل القربات)
Appreciating the purpose of our existence, giving life and light to our hearts and becoming part of a strong and enlightened community (على بصيرة)
Being among those who are truly in awe and reverence to Allah (يخشى الله)
Being close to Allah, and honored (فضل العالم) and raised to high levels in this world and the Hereafter (يرفعهم درجات)
Standing in the shoes of all the Prophets of Allah (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all) and continuing their noble mission (ورثة الأنبياء)
Being blessed with an abundance of Goodness (من يرد الله به خيراً) in this world and the next
Following an easy path to Paradise (طريق إلى الجنة)
Being constantly protected by the Angels (إن الملائكة لتضع أجنحتها)
Having all of Allah’s creation make duaa for you and seeking forgiveness for your sins (يستغفر له), and that includes all the fish in the oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, etc. (حتى الحيتان في الماء)
We ask You, O Allah, most Glorious, Most High, to grant us success in our studies and in all our endeavors. We beseech You to come to our aid and bless our time and efforts, for you are most Capable of everything. Shower Your Grace upon us and guide us to make the right choices, the ones that please You and lead to Jannah/Paradise.