Purpose in Seeking Knowledge

This article is taken from the seminar: How To Study Islam Systematically: A Practical Guide to Your Learning Journey. This is the first in a series.

We’ll be looking at key guidance for seekers of Islamic knowledge. This applies both to those who are committed to becoming students of Islamic knowledge in particular, but also others who’ve wanted to study Islam and want to have a clear sense of the purpose of Islamic Studies: i.e., how we structure our studies, to what end, and how we approach that study in a successful manner. It’s meant to be a practical look at the virtues of Islamic Studies.

Blessings of Knowledge

It is sufficient that Allah tells us in the Quran:

هَلْ يَسْتَوِى ٱلَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْأَلْبَـٰبِ

“Can those who know be equal to those who don’t?” [Quran 39:9]

And Allah Most High tells us:

شَهِدَ ٱللَّهُ أَنَّهُۥ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَٱلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ وَأُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْعِلْمِ قَآئِمًۢا بِٱلْقِسْطِ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْحَكِيمُ

“Allah Bears witness that he is God and there is no partner besides and the angels bear witness to that and the people of knowledge who stand justly by their knowledge  (will give their knowledge its due).” [Quran 3:18]

So this is of the great merits of knowledge but that’s not the primary subject here. Also Allah tells us:

إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّـهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ

“Among His servants Allah is held in reverent esteem by the people of knowledge.” [35:28]

And of course it is beneficial and fruitful knowledge that we seek.

Seeking Knowledge

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) tells us: “Whoever Allah wishes well for He grants deep understanding of religion” [Bukhari and Muslim]. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said: “Whoever pursues a path seeking knowledge therein, Allah facilitates for them through it a path to Paradise.”[Muslim]

The Hadith continues: “Truly the angels lower their wings.” They pave the way with their wings for the seeker of knowledge out of contentment for what the seeker of knowledge is engaged in. And then it says: “Truly the birds in the sky and the fish in the oceans pray for the seeker of knowledge.”

Why? Because the very purpose of existence, the wisdom of existence is that God be known, submitted to, worshiped, loved. All of that is possible only through knowledge.

Attaining Knowledge

The summary of the path of seeking knowledge can be found in one hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). He said: “وَالْقَصْدَ الْقَصْدَ تَبْلُغُوا” which can be translated as “Remain purposeful, remain purposeful and you shall attain.” [Bukhari]

This is of the many or innumerable, inimitable words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) because he repeated the same word qasd twice. If you hold fast to this idea of purpose – if you have purpose and you maintain it – you shall attain.

This idea of purpose is six dimensional. Next we’ll look at a few of the dimensions of Qasd.