Seeking Arabic from Auckland to Amman

By Aarif Rasheed

My Journey to Arabic

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani himself had mentioned during the one of the introductory classes on the Ajrumiyya (a classical primer on Arabic) that one of the most important Bid’ahs (innovations) of our time is to learn the language of the Quran. As someone who had been memorising the Quran from a young age I have been making “on and off” efforts for many years to learn properly. Many will relate, that it is not uncommon for “Arabic classes” to be starting in our local communities, only for it to not quite get off the ground properly for one reason or another. Some of us have almost fantasised about that great opportunity to finally start a firm study of  Arabic “once and for all” with that great Shaykh whom we are hoping we will one day somehow have access to.

The Seekers Arabic Excitement 

Recently there has been the excitement for the launch of Arabic, because of the great teachers we have access to for the classes, and not least of course the great Shaykh Ali Hani

The course is entitled An insight to the study of Arabic, and the first lesson was insightful indeed.

Despite my limitations in Arabic, I was determined to be a part of this class, both to gain from the Shaykh on the subject itself as well as to gain from the exposure to such a great scholar and the many obvious benefits that would flow from that.

Starting Up
The first session has been scheduled last week but postponed due to connection issues and today my hope and anticipation was even greater of just being able to see Shaykh Ali Hani. I had the peace and quiet of the house being asleep (signing in from New Zealand).

The class covered the Fada’il (Merit) of the knowledge of the Arabic language and its grammar.

Shaykh Ali Hani

Having read Shaykh Ali Hani’s biography, I was imagining an overwhelming sight, heavy in voice reflecting both the gravity of the subject and the seniority of his scholarship in it. What greeted me as I signed in was the beautifully gentle and sweetly pleasant expression of the Shaykh.

I concentrated with exertion as I tried to ensure I grasped the main points with the Arabic that I have.

The lesson itself was an amazing survey of great examples and sayings regarding the great merit and importance of the sciences of Arabic Language and Grammar (and typically, sometimes with references to other sciences!)

It was also familiar in the sense of the mentioning of the great sayings of the companions (Allah be pleased with them) some more familiar such as Sayyidina Umar, and others from the early community, such as Ayub as-Sakhtiyani.

What continuously struck me is how the Shaykh spoke about the greatness of the science of Arabic and grammar, clearly such a heavy and foundational matter in our religion, in such a soft, sweet and welcoming manner.

Aside from the beauty and attractiveness of Shaykh Ali’s persona, his own eloquence and pronunciation was also striking, even while so finely and gently presenting the subject.

SPR210Importance of Learning Arabic
After being thoroughly honoured in being present for the class, I also managed to squeeze in the last question for the lesson: what was the importance of knowing Arabic for those of us in the West? I asked this because my own understanding of why I was continuously trying to learn was clear but sometimes inconsistent, and also because I noticed that amongst many I know, there were certain “groups” of individuals who did observe their need to learn Arabic and were always very motivated, and then others who, for some reason, did not – they would be interested in many other subjects, but not in learning the Arabic language.

The answer was the typical outward-inward balance that we have come to know from scholars of the traditional sciences: the Shaykh referred to both the importance of understanding of Quran and the Sunnah, as well as to our relationship with Allah, that is entailed in knowing this great science.

I was greatly honoured to be a part of this first lesson. The Shaykh was equally warm to answering questions and was patiently calm as we briefly lost connection towards the end (perhaps another lesson for us in our world of instantaneity!).

This introduction to the great science with a great scholar, was a beautifully welcoming experience.

I acknowledge my debt to my Creator and that I am deeply indebted to those who have made such a truly unique opportunity possible, and to all those who assist it. This truly has been a blessed boost to my long-time efforts to learn Arabic, and I determined in – and hope and pray for – my own consistency and dedication to this course.

Love & Intention – SeekersPoint Auckland Launch Weekend by Sr. Chloe

By Sr Chloe Idris
This past weekend was the launch of Seekers Point Auckland. My husband and I had booked our flights a month in advance to attend this event, traveling from Wellington to Auckland straight after work. We had both made a personal commitment to attend beneficial gatherings in New Zealand whenever possible, and after our experience at the 2012 SeekersRetreat in Taupo, there was no way we wanted to miss this.
It was such a blessing to be in the presence of Shaykh Faraz Rabbani as well as local teachers Ustadha Waseema Ahmed, and Ustadh Haamid BenFayed. The launch was a jam-packed weekend filled with beneficial and inspiring knowledge, and although I left the event feeling physically exhausted, I was also spiritually nourished again in a way that made me realise I had been famished for quite a while.
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, filled with our responsibilities and everything that we ‘have to do’, ‘must do’, and ‘need to do’, we forget that God is always with us. We forget that we can open up to Him at any time, and He will listen. We forget that God hasn’t made it hard to become closer to Him; all we have to do is take the first step, and He will come to us running. The message that I took away from the launch was love, in all its forms. Love for the Divine, love for the Prophet in his human perfection, love for our fellow human beings. This weekend emphasised to me that the foundation of this religion is love, and in fact, love is the very reason that we exist at all. We are engulfed in mercy by the Creator, and we were created purely to know Him. Deep down our souls recognise this and yearn to be back with Him, yet we suppress this natural inclination, we suppress our fitra.
The Shuyukh empasised the importance of reflection as a means of attaining God-consciousness. They emphasised the importance of creating a habit of pausing before doing, taking a moment to consider the ‘why’ behind the action. Each pause is in fact an opportunity, a chance to purify our intention and open a space for God in our heart. Imagine a day filled with these moments – moments of reflection, moments of remembrance, moments of noble intentions. By filling our days with moments like these, attaining God-consciousness becomes easier, and we will become increasingly close to Him. God isn’t absent from our lives, He isn’t disinterested and uninvolved. In reality, He is only a thought away.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala fill our hearts with love for Him, and the Beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wassalam. Ameen.

Why is SeekersGuidance launching SeekersPoint Auckland (and what is it)?

by Aarif Rasheed
In the Name of God, The Compassionate, The Merciful
Assalamualaikum everyone,
The Need in Our Community
For about the last 10 years we have been trying to establish for ourselves and the wider community an aspiration towards fulfilling our potential as Muslims – our higher potential as the best of Allah’s (God’s) Creation.
Our goal so far has been to revive the classical Islamic education in our community: the highest standards of academic excellence that we know is responsible for the great Islamic civilisations of the Golden Years of Islam.
We now know that in this post-colonisation era, access to traditional Islam from the great lands of learning that we now see in utter strife, such as Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, had been diminishing for some time. The wider post-colonisation reality of the Muslim world was one in which the academic excellence of the previous Islamic civilisations had all but gone.
Already Part of the Community
Over the last 10 years, we have had numerous international scholars from Islamic institutions around the world come to us who have been learnt widely and deeply in such cradles of knowledge. The result of this hard work is that many students are now learning with either local teachers or with scholars teaching from the around the globe. We have regularly come together for learning together locally, and for serving together locally. Students, and volunteers, are scattered across all the well-known Islamic organisations, including RMDT, WTG, Al-Hikmah Trust, Fatimah Foundation, IWCNZ, etc.
What we see is that from learning Islam together, and practising together (including, importantly, serving others together) we actually build a community together. But not just a community for the sake of building one, but a community that is based on guidance from Islamic teachings, respect for those teachings and the teachers that teach them, and a respect for all that is sacred in our world.
Join Us On This Journey
We invite you to join us on this journey to reestablish the high standards of academic excellence and service. This return to excellence involves spreading balanced, mainstream understanding of our religion, so that we may once again be a people of Taqwa (God-Consciousness) & Service.
These efforts must occur under the guidance of scholars who are both deeply learned in the religion, but also in the context and needs of the communities that are being served. SeekersGuidance has brought together such scholars, and established institutions that are now bringing together all these years of efforts into one globally coordinated but locally based, effort. This has meant a great increase in access to scholarship, which is also now free of any cost, under the Knowledge Without Barriers initiative of SeekersGuidance.
SeekersPoint Auckland will represent the first formal SeekersGuidance collaboration in New Zealand. Many of its students, servants, and now, associated teachers, are in Auckland, and the community is one that is more than ready to embrace the SeekersGuidance ethos of serving the community and upholding the standard of Islamic excellence.
SeekersPoint Auckland is where seekers of knowledge and servants of the community (hopefully that is everyone!) can come together and support each other to remain committed to Building a strong, united community. That is, united on the teachings of the Quran & Sunnah as compiled and codified by the continuous generations of scholars from the time of the companions. That strong community comes out by facilitating the learning of this authentic Islam, and serving of others, both as the means to ultimately seeking the pleasure of Allah The Almighty.
Giving Access
Therefore SeekersGuidance has made it a priority to make the seeking of authentic knowledge accessible to everyone. The 20th Century (post-colonisation of much of the Muslim) saw a considerable weakening of access to authentic knowledge. SG is striving to reeducate the masses globally, given the huge now prevalent post-colonisation. This is so that we can return to the academic excellence that existed in the earlier times of Islamic civilisation. The ongoing destruction of cradles of knowledge like Iraq and Syria (and more recently Egypt) has greatly affected the prolific teaching and learning that was going on in these lands.
In the present climate, there is a lot of pressure on Islamic institutions around the world. In this difficult environment, SeekersGuidance has been able by Allah’s blessing to make sacred knowledge available for free, globally, thanks also to the generosity of those who can afford to donate. Presently, over 10,000 students in 130 countries already are establishing their grounding in Islam, with many amazing stories of those who previously couldn’t access proper Islamic knowledge for reasons of cost and being unable to find scholarship where they are.
Global effort, Local results!
SeekersGuidance aims to reconnect Muslims to the academic excellence of traditional Islam, and accessing any local scholarship available is a high priority. SeekersGuidance is involved in supporting many of the great scholars now scattered around the world, and in ensuring they remain accessible not just locally, but globally! This means supporting scholars and their families as and when required, and allowing scholars to devote their time to academic excellence, meaning proper guidance from scholars and a reawakening of love for Islamic sciences. Of course, a major symptom addressed by this revival of Islam is making Islam relevant once more to our people, young and old, wherever they may be in the East or West.
SeekersPoint Auckland Events, 7-9 February, 2014
SeekersPoint Auckland is launching! This allows the Auckland community to access even more of SeekersGuidance benefits, including the visiting of major scholars, supporting of local scholars, facilitating committed service to beneficial organisations already serving Islam and Muslims here in Auckland and much more: many of the symptoms we see in our community, such as Islam appearing less relevant to many young Muslims and gradually disappearing from our Masjids, are symptoms of the underlying absence of this knowledge and spirit of Islam that must be properly established, wholesomely and organically, in our community!
International & Local Scholars
We will be having very special scholars visiting us to explain all this, and launch Auckland’s SeekersPoint! SeekersGuidance founder Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will be travelling to Auckland to join us, along with local scholars, to not only launch SeekersPoint but also teach for the weekend while here. Shaykh Faraz alone will be travelling for over 30 hours to reach us, to be with us for only 3 days! Though in huge global demand, such local milestones wherever they may be, are so dear that the scholars are making his way to Auckland especially for our launch events.
Many NZ and Auckland students who are already learning with SeekersGuidance will get the opportunity to meet the people behind this global initiative that is going local everywhere, without barriers!
Guests from all around New Zealand: we will also be joined by seekers and community leaders from all around New Zealand, including Wellington, Hamilton, New Plymouth and Christchurch. If you’re interested in coming, or establishing a connected community in your area, please let us know ASAP so that we can help you in any way we can!
CONTACT:
All queries may be directed to us at: [email protected] OR TEXT: 021 763 810.
REGISTRATIONS:

OPEN NOW at www.seekersguidance.org/Auckland. So be on notice, keep your Waitangi weekend entirely free, and start planning now – get your notebooks, pens and bags ready and dont forget to register by this coming weekend!

Invest in an Institution of People To The Ends Of The Earth

SeekersHub Global’s mission is to build an institution beyond buildings, and the project has already started. Our goal is bring knowledge to every person willing to gain Sacred Knowledge, by breaking barriers between the seekers and guidance. Yes, we are democratising Islamic education to the Ends of the Earth.

Watch Shaykh Faraz Rabbani speak on our commitment to breaking barriers between seekers and guidance:

Próxima Parada – Buenos Aires!

This article can be found in English here.

Llegando al fin del año 2013, el Shaykh Faraz Rabbani(Fundador & Director Ejecutivo, SeekersHub Global) y el Imam Afroz Ali (Managing Director- SeekersHub Global) viajaron a Argentina para brindar un retiro intensivo de verano, para ayudar alrededor de 40 nuevos musulmanes a aprender y poner en práctica el Conocimiento Sagrado de la Ley Islámica, Creencia y Espiritualidad.
El retiro de ‘Los Confines de la Tierra’ tuvo lugar en Tandil, 4 horas al sur de Buenos Aires, en una granja familiar dedicada a los cultivos orgánicos.
Preservando la Ortodoxia del Islam.
Al arrivar, tuvimos una grata sorpresa, encontrarnos con este grupo de nuevos Musulmanes comprometidos con la prácticas diarias de adoración y recuerdo de Dios, El Exaltado, y cantando alabanzas al Amado Profeta, La Paz y la bendiciones de Dios sean con el. Sus fundaciones eran fuertes y profundamente enraizadas en la ortodoxia del islam, conectadas a la guía profética.
El Imám Afroz Ali dijo, “la experiencia en Argentina me demostró nuevamente que la vía comprobada del islam tradicional es lo que preserva la Religión de Dios. Esta pequeña comunidad de musulmanes, a pesar de estar lejos de tierras islámicas, vive la belleza de la guía profética a través de una sólida conexión, con la transmisión del entendimiento de la religión. Viven esto como una comunidad de buscadores, en vez del desagradable, ‘hazlo tu solo’ Islam en el que tantos están atrapados hoy en día.”
A pesar de la complejidad de una era digital plagada con información errónea, compuesta por ideologías literalistas post-clásicas, que divergen de los sistemas preservados de adquisición de conocimiento de la Ciencias Sagradas, musulmanes en Buenos Aires han mantenido una fuerte conexión con los conocimientos fundacionales preservados a través de la herencia Islámica del ‘Isnad’ (cadena de transmisión ininterrumpida) y el ‘Madhab’ (metodología basada en la evidencia). Su entusiasmo en incrementar su conocimiento y práctica coincide completamente con el alcance de SeekersHub Global hasta los ‘Confines de la Tierra’ liderado por el Sheykh Faraz Rabbani.

Next Stop – Buenos Aires! Journeying to the Ends of the Earth, Facilitating Knowledge Without Barriers


As the end of 2013 dawned upon us, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani (Founder & Executive Director, SeekersHub Global) travelled to Argentina to facilitate an intensive summer retreat to help some 40 new Muslims to learn about and put into practice Sacred Knowledge of Islamic Law, Belief and Spirituality.
The ‘Ends of the Earth’ Retreat was held in Tandil, some 4 hours south of Buenos Aires, on a family farm dedicated to organic farming and stewardship of land.
Preserved Orthodoxy of Islam
Upon arriving there, they were caught by a pleasant surprise. The new Muslims, of all ages, were already committed to their daily devotion of worship and remembrance of God, The Exalted, and singing praise of the Beloved Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him. Their foundation was strong and deeply rooted in Orthodox Islam connected to Prophetic guidance.

In spite of a complex digital age filled with misleading information, compounded by literalist post-classical ideologies which have diverged from the preserved system of attaining knowledge of the Sacred Sciences, Muslims in Buenos Aires have maintained strong connection to foundational knowledge. This knowledge is preserved through the Islamic heritage of Isnad (unbroken chain of transmission) and Madhab (evidence-based methodology). Their keenness to increase their knowledge and practice coincided very well with the outreach from SeekersHub Global to the Ends of the Earth led by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Continuing With The Tradition

Historically, authentic Islam was transmitted to people either by seekers of knowledge travelling to the traditional places of study or by scholars of the Sacred Sciences travelling to the Ends of the Earth, taking with them sound knowledge, transmitting it to those who seek a true relationship with their Lord. SeekersHub Global’s commitment to facilitate the learning and practice of Knowledge Without Barriers continues with this age-old tradition existent from the Prophetic era.
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani commented on this, saying, “The week in Argentina was one of the most memorable of my life as it showed the transformative beauty of faith and Prophetic guidance. The community of convert seekers that hosted us was transformed by the faith they embraced and keen to learn. It also reminded me of the power of Knowledge Without Barriers: through this effort, Seekers are reaching seekers, around the world. This is a gift from The Merciful God. May we be of the thankful.”

The Muslim community in Buenos Aires are an evidence of the transformative power of global connections of communities of seekers, one helping the other by generously sharing time, knowledge and financial assistance.
SeekersPoint Buenos Aires, in Spanish!
SeekersHub Global’s commitment to breaking barriers between seekers and guidance is now breaking another barrier: language.
With overwhelming request, support and commitment from the Muslims of Argentina, SeekersHub Global has now set up SeekersPoint Buenos Aires!
But, it is not only another SeekersPoint, all of which are already serving their local communities tremendously. SeekersPoint Buenos Aires will also be the Service Centre for the Spanish-speaking world all over. This is new ground in serving Muslims globally in different languages suitable to local communities. SeekersHub Global is committed to break language barriers wherever possible.
SeekersHub Global is already working with Muslims from Argentina to commence translation works into Spanish in a professional manner e.g. important articles, answers and blog pieces. In addition, special classes are now being arranged for the community, as well as to local advanced seekers to become, insha Allah, authorised teachers to teach in Spanish.
Support Knowledge Without Barriers
SeekersHub Global recognises that knowledge is priceless, and we need globally collective assistance and cooperation to invest in facilitating the transmission and preservation of Sacred Knowledge to the Ends of the Earth. Beyond meagre classes, SeekersHub Global is fulfilling its vision for the benefit of all humanity: it is investing in building an institution of people (rather than just buildings) who are worthy to carry on the tradition and methodology of Prophetic guidance, democratising knowledge through free access to all.
SeekersHub Global is developing programs based on a structured continuum of learning through SeekersSteps, SeekersArabic and many general courses, as well as facilitating positive action through SeekersWorks throughout the world. Such holistic effort aims to nurture individuals into communities of seekers and Servants of the Merciful to the Ends of the Earth, powered by your generosity.
Building an institution of people of knowledge, positive action and virtuous character needs our shared investment; facilitating knowledge without barriers is our shared goal. Please DONATE generously to help build such an institution.

Ramadan: Fasting for Love

The following video’s are from our recent webinar ‘Ramadan: Fasting for Love’. We pray that you may benefit from the short talks given by some highly esteemed scholars such as Habib Umar, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Imam Zaid Shakir, just to name a few.










Support SeekersHub Global / SeekersGuidance as it reaches over 10,000 students each term through its completely free online courses, through Knowledge Without Barriers. Make a donation, today. Every contribution counts, even if small: https://seekersguidance.org/donate/

Your donation travels ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ with SeekersHub Global

 

 

SeekersHub Global / SeekersGuidance is urgently seeking your donations to help assist us in bringing Sacred Islamic Knowledge to every person, every where. We have already reached over 10,000 students, in 103 countries, but we want to take it further!

Find out more about Knowledge Without Barriers at https://seekersguidance.org/donate/

SeekersHub Global is a 501c3 tax exempt organization in the U.S. SeekersHub Global also accepts Zakat donations.

Please take a moment to share this video with your friends and family, and keep our teachers and students in your prayers.

Preserving the Sacred Tradition takes TIME – which our Scholars Give – EFFORT – Which our Students Give – and MONEY – Which we are Humbly Asking You to Assist us With – https://seekersguidance.org/donate/

SeekersGuidance has sought the most cost efficient ways to keep Knowledge Alive and Thriving – from one End of the Earth to the Other – But we Urgently Need Your Assistance to do so

Bringing Knowledge without Barriers to 10,000 Students in Over 100 countries costs a relatively efficient $30,000 a month – We currently receive $10,000 in monthly donations – but need assistance to cover the remainder

Please be generous this Month – and Donate – For the scores of Students who would be Bereft of Scholarly Guidance without our Resources

Successful Seekers Ramadan Campaign, But Work Remains

By the Grace of Allah, over $210,000 was raised of our ambitious $300,000 in 30 days campaign whose goal was to facilitate the Knowledge Without Barriers initiative. Knowledge Without Barriers is a high impact initiative offering all of our services completely free, making relevant and reliable traditional Islamic education accessible to everyone, everywhere. In the last year alone:

-Knowledge Without Barriers has opened the floodgates to Traditional Learning with 15,000 student registrations in more than 80 countries in just the past year

-Our Answers service responded to more than 10,000 questions

-SeekersCircles established 20 circles of traditional knowledge in more than 15 countries

-We are completing our first full year of employing 2 paid part-time staff members, along with a growing force of volunteers

$210K, Where will it go?

To accomplish our goals to spread knowledge without barriers, the amount we raised will help us pay our 20+ teachers, increase our paid program-related positions (non-administrative) and hire a Managing Director.

Note on Zakat:
$80,000 of the $210,000 was in the form of zakat contributions. Our zakat fund will go to support needy students of knowledge and teachers in our community, not to our organizational expenses. This leaves us with nearly $130,000 to be used at the monthly operating rate of $21,000.

What’s next?

Just after the conclusion of our Ramadan campaign, the SeekersGuidance management team held our semi-annual Global Strategy Meeting and we identified critical needs still not fulfilled by our current funding.

To that end, we will be launching project-based campaigns over the next month. Project-based campaigns will allow you to offer your direct support to specific programs with the assurance that your support will be making an immediate impact.

An earlier blog post by Shaykh Faraz describing one of our current needs:

https://seekersguidance.org/blog/2012/08/urgent-seekers-appeal-help-launch-seekers-30-new-website-seekersmedia-platform/

SeekersMedia – Website 3.0 – Answers Service -Monthly Supporter Program-

Please continue to keep the SeekersGuidance team in your thoughts and prayers. We are always looking for talented and inspired individuals to join the SeekersGuidance team. If you have any questions or comments or are interested in joining the SeekersGuidance Development team, please do not hesitate to contact me.

May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be with you.

Zeeshan Qasim

[email protected]

Pursuit of Islamic Knowledge by Ustadh Faraz Khan

Ramadan, Eid and the Pursuit of Islamic Knowledge

By Ustadh Faraz Khan, of Risala Foundation (Houston, TX)

With the conclusion of another Ramadan, it is fitting to remind ourselves of the essence of the joyous occasion of Eid al-Fitr. Say: for the Grace of God and for His Mercy – so for that let them rejoice! It is indeed better than that which they amass (Qur’an 10:58). Many commentators, including Imams al-Tabari and al-Nasafi, state that the Mercy mentioned in the above verse refers to the Qur’an; therefore, the Divine command (so for that let them rejoice!) is to celebrate the Qur’an itself. On Eid al-Fitr, it is a sunna to display our exuberance and cheerfulness, as a beautiful expression of how our community actually rejoices in our worship, as the words chosen to carry His Divine Speech actually emanate from our mouths. Ramadan of course is the month of the Qur’an, with respect to both its inzal – its being sent down in its entirety, at one time – as well as its tanzil – its piecemeal revelation over the span of 23 years. The tanzil is also intimately connected with Ramadan since, according to many scholars, the first set of verses to come down did so in that blessed month. Hence, one could say that both Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are celebrations and reminders of the tanzil of those verses, i.e., the magnificent event of “Read!” (iqra).

Read, in the Name of your Lord, who created. Created man from a clot of congealed blood. Read! And your Lord is Most Generous. The One who taught man by the pen. Taught man that which he knew not (96:1-5).

The iqra event is replete with invaluable lessons, yet this essay will focus on the actual verses themselves. The central theme that is evident to anyone who reflects over the five verses is that of the pursuit of knowledge. The very first word iqra carries both meanings of recite and read, the latter of which is at the heart of education, and the command is actually repeated in the third verse. The verb ‘allama is also used twice, which is to literally impart knowledge, or teach. There is also a reference to the pen in the fourth verse, which is also the heading of the chapter al-Qalam, so named due to its first verse and the Divine oath therein By the pen and that which they write! Imam al-Nasafi states, “He [Most High] swore by it [the pen] due to all sorts of indescribable benefit therein.” [Incidentally, Imam Qurtubi and others mention that the opening verses of al-Qalam were the second to be revealed in the Qur’anic tanzil, again highlighting the early Qur’anic emphasis on education.]

The initial verses sent down to humanity therefore center on reading and writing, the two predominant methods of preserving knowledge throughout human civilization. Knowledge is of the greatest of Divine gifts to the creation, and its pursuit and preservation is to be encouraged, emphasized and honored as a manifestation of God’s Infinite Generosity – Read! And your Lord is Most Generous (96:3).

Moreover, both instances of the command iqra – in verses one and three – are left unspecified; no direct object is mentioned. The Divine imperative of seeking knowledge applies to both the sacred and the secular; the Muslim community is to explore the fields of theology, Islamic jurisprudence, and Quranic exegesis, as well as those of botany, physics and geology. Allah is the Lord of both the heavens and the earth, and the human being is composed of both celestial and terrestrial elements.

Historically, luminaries of all fields of study emerged from the Muslim nation as a testament to the call of iqra – in the sacred sciences, jurists such as Malik, hadith masters such as al-Bukhari, theologians such as al-Baqillani, and Sufis such as Junaid; in the liberal arts, philosophers such as al-Farabi, poets and writers such as al-Mutanabbi, grammarians and linguists such as Sibawayh, rhetoricians such as al-Taftazani, and sociologists such as Ibn Khaldun [considered by some Westerners as the father of sociology]; in the secular sciences, mathematicians such as al-Khawarizmi, physicians such as Ibn Sina, political scientists such as al-Mawardi, and chemists such as Jabir ibn Hayyan. Even in the realm of geography and travel, the exhortation of iqra produced geniuses such as al-Masudi and Ibn Battuta.

The 9th century philosopher Abu Ishaq al-Kindi alone made invaluable contributions in almost all branches of science, including mathematics, astronomy, physics, optics, music [including music therapy], medicine, pharmacy, logic, meteorology, and cryptology. He had mastered the Persian, Greek and Indian traditions of learning, as well as the Hebrew, Greek and Arabic languages, whereby he became one of Islamic history’s greatest translators, and an author of no less than 265 works spanning the aforementioned areas of his expertise. Many Western academics deem the 9th century mathematician and physicist Ibn al-Haytham to be the father of optics and the pioneer of the modern scientific method; his discoveries led to the location of the retina as the seat of vision, his “Alhazen Problems” are still known today in the field, and he is even considered a pioneer in the philosophical area of phenomenology, having articulated a relationship between the tangible physical world and that of intuition, cognition and mental function.1

Of course, Muslim civilization is not alone in producing brilliant scholarship, and one could argue that the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Indians, and Chinese [amongst others] all had their own response to the call of pursuing knowledge. The uniqueness of Islamic civilization, then, does not lie in the verb iqra itself, but rather in the prepositional phrase that immediately follows and to which it is inextricably bound, namely, in the Name of your Lord. The pursuit of knowledge that was at the heart of Islamic history was one done in the Name of Allah, by His Power, and most importantly, for His Sake. Our great past is not merely a collection of vain academic pursuits and interests, but rather a testament to a communal search for the Creator by examining the beauty and wonder of His creation – at both the macro and the micro levels – in order to serve and benefit humanity and, ultimately, attain unto everlasting Divine Pleasure. Like all minarets, those of traditional Ottoman mosques – one of humanity’s greatest expressions of architectural genius – are directed towards the heavens.

Linguistically, the prepositional phrase in the Name of your Lord has a ta’alluq, or grammatical connection, to the preceding verb Read; the two are intimately bound, for there is no iqra in the Qur’anic perspective without bismi Rabbik. The three-letter root of ta’alluq is ‘alaqa, which is related to being bound and attached; its antithetical root – noted by reading the three letters backwards – is qala’a, which means to uproot or sever something from its very foundations, the exact opposite meaning of ‘alaqa. If the qualifying phrase in the Name of your Lord is severed from the verb, iqra is left alone and can be manipulated for worldly, ephemeral aims of power and destruction. The post-industrial revolution, modern world has inverted the ’alaqa and adopted a path of qala’a; society today, particularly academia, has violently uprooted the sacred ta’alluq of in the Name of your Lord, showing utter disregard of Divine purpose in its quest of information and discovery. “Knowledge” – if it even retains the same name – in the spheres of atheism and agnosticism turns hazardous and pernicious – at the micro level, by engendering a hubris that consumes the soul and covers the heart in black rust (Qur’an 83:14), bringing out the demonic element within man; and at the macro level, by opening doors of destruction and suffering that can be cosmic.

The danger of uprooted knowledge is all the more frightening today considering the sheer speed at which technology is advancing. After the telephone, automobile and light bulb in the late 1800’s, the 20th century witnessed staggering advancements at an unprecedented rate – cornflakes, teabags and the first piloted helicopter in the first decade; motion pictures and neon lamps in the 10’s; loudspeakers and frozen foods in the 20’s; FM radio and the jet engine in the 30’s; velcro and the atomic bomb in the 40’s; optic fiber and the internal pacemaker in the 50’s; computer language and computer games in the 60’s, culminating in Apollo 11 taking man to the moon in 1969; floppy disk and word processor in the 70’s; Microsoft Windows and Prozac in the 80’s, culminating with the Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990; and the world-wide-web, http, html, pentium processor and viagra in the 90’s.2

Yet concurrently, that century also saw the democide of over 169 million people;3 August 6, 1945 alone witnessed the uranium-235 nuclear weapon “Little Boy” being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and August 9, 1945 saw the detonation of plutonium-239 “Fat Man” over Nagasaki, Japan – the only two nuclear bombs ever used in history – resulting in the death of 140,000 and 80,000 innocent Japanese, respectively. Both bombs were also the result of a pursuit of knowledge – a project termed The Manhattan Project, whose research was directed by American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.4

As for the 21st century, of which not even a decade has passed, the potential “advancements” are all the more frightening. On March 7, 2001, the scientist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil published a controversial essay online called The Law of Accelerating Returns, which begins as follows:

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. [italics added] Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.5

Albeit highly speculative, deeply controversial, and reminiscent of some Sci-Fi novel, Kurzweil’s theory is indicative of the direction modern science is heading, and the rate at which it aspires to do so. The pace of technological advancement, discovery and invention is definitely more exponential than linear, and in an age of nuclear fission, genome cloning and artificial intelligence, the information highway is in dire need – more than ever in human history – of the stabilizing moral element of in the Name of your Lord. This, then, is the Divine trust given to the Muslim community – to remind humanity of the imperative to firmly root its academic pursuits – in all fields of study – in the nourishing and wholesome earth of the remembrance of God. Technology must be grounded and stabilized as such, so as not to feed the bestial element within man that seeks to fulfill its empty and vain desires of power and destruction, but rather be a means and tool of sincere betterment of society – of the sharing of resources, the healing of pain, and the empowerment of the downtrodden. Such high moral aspirations, according to the Qur’anic ethic, can never be achieved unless pursued in the Name of God, for the sake of God, and by the Power of God – that is, bismi Rabbik.

We are the community entrusted with this awesome task, as we are the nation of iqra bismi Rabbik, the people of the Qur’an, whose third chapter addresses us with: “You are the very best of nations, brought forth, for the sake of humanity” (110). As humanity races forward in all of its pursuits of knowledge and discovery, the Muslims are to restore in them a sense of the goal, the endpoint of the information highway – And indeed to your Lord is the final destination (Qur’an 53:42). We must reconnect the forgotten and abandoned in the Name of your Lord to the Read! of modern society; we must reestablish its ta’alluq. Knowledge bears fruit only if salvific; otherwise, it – along with all of the toil and effort in its acquisition – vanishes into a nothingness just as empty as the madness, vanity and sheer arrogance that goaded man to pursue it. As the 12th-century Christian theologian Hugh of Saint Victor writes in his Noah’s Ark:

Ignorant and foolish men, with a labour as vain as it is obstinate, search out the natures of things while they remain in ignorance of the One who is the Author and Maker of themselves and of all things alike. Yet they do not inquire after Him – as though without God truth might be found or happiness possessed. And, that you may be able to appreciate more clearly still how barren and indeed how pernicious such studies are, you must know that not only do they not enlighten the mind to know the truth, but they actually blind it, so that it cannot recognize the very truth…

What, then, does it profit a man to probe carefully into the nature of everything and understand it thoroughly, if he neither remembers nor knows whence he himself comes, nor whither he is going when this life is ended? For what is this mortal life but a journey? For we are passing through, and we see the things that are in this world as it were by the wayside. Does it follow, then, that we should stop and enquire into anything we see as we pass that is unusual or unfamiliar to us, and turn aside from our path for it? This is exactly what the people you are looking at are doing. Like foolish travellers, they have forgotten where they are going and have as it were sat down by the road to investigate the unfamiliar things they see. By habitually giving way to this folly they have already become such strangers to themselves that they do not remember that they are on a journey, nor do they seek their homeland…. No life could be more disgraceful and no end more unhappy than to have no hope of salvation when one dies, because one has been unwilling to take the path of virtue while one lived.6

And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He caused them to forget themselves; verily, they are the ones who trangress limits (Qur’an 59:19).


[1] For detailed discussions on the above scholars of Islamic history, as well as others, see “Hundred Great Muslims” by K. J. Adams, and “Islamic Science – An Illustrated Study” by Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

[2] See 20th century timeline under inventors.about.com

[3] Democide is a term meaning government-inflicted death, and is broader than genocide, as it includes politicide and mass murder; it was coined by political scientist R.J. Rummel in his book Death By Government, published in 1994. In light of such a colossal number of murder victims – 169 million – one is reminded of the Prophetic Hadith [of various yet similar wording] related by al-Bukhari in his Sahih collection, ‘The Final Hour will draw near; knowledge will diminish, earthquakes will become frequent, strife and discord will be widespread, and al-haraj will be plentiful.’ The companions asked, ‘And what is al-haraj?’ to which he (peace be upon him) replied, “Killing, Killing.’ Commentators of the Hadith mention that the knowledge that will diminish is sacred knowledge, that which grounds all other branches of knowledge in the ever-important domain of in the Name of your Lord.

[4] For this reason, he is remembered as The Father of the Atomic Bomb. Moreover, at the test site in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where his team first successfully tested the bomb, Oppenheimer was said to have been extremely tense up until the last few moments before the explosion, holding his breath in eager anticipation as to whether the bomb would detonate. Staring out into the desert without blinking, he stood waiting, and as soon as the announcer shouted “Now!” accompanied by a colossal burst of light with its subsequent thundering roar of an explosion, his face “relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief.” Years later he would recall how during the explosion he thought of two verses from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita, “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one,” and “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

See Peter Goodchild,J. Robert Oppenheimer: Shatterer of Worlds, (1981); and Ferenc M. Szasz, The Day the Sun Rose Twice,(1984).

[5] http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1

[6]Taken from Whitall N. Perry, A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom, page 736.
Posted with permission of Risala Foundation.