Fruits for the Week

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Our Prophet (SAW) said: “Knowledge, enables the possessor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way of heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our companion when friendless; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery, it is our ornament amongst friends and an armor against enemies.”

Knowledge or education in the modern sense, is upheld in Islam because of its value and important in life. It is an Islamic obligation, indeed an asset in life. The benefit of education is tremendous. If used righteously, knowledge makes one a better and a wiser person in spiritual and worldly matters. It makes him more tolerant to life in general, healthier, and more charitable; it even, generally speaking, makes him live longer. To illustrate this point with just an example, it was revealed from a survey on smoking, as reported in The Straits Times, that educated people, those with tertiary and professional qualifications, smoke less than those who are less educated or have no education at all. This happened because educated people read and reason out the harms of smoking and are therefore more aware of its dangers and ill effects. They are also wiser to see that smoking is a waste of money, money being burnt away in smoke.

Leaning languages is also part of the process of acquiring knowledge. Language skills are valuable for social interaction and business dealing. In a country like Singapore, if you are bilingual in English and Malay, it would be advantageous for you to learn Mandarin and also pick up some Tamil words. It would be easier for you to practice Mandarin among your Chinese friends and colleagues than for you to learn Japanese or French as these languages could be easily being forgotten for lack of opportunities to practice them.

Education and training involves the development of the human mind, body, and soul. Hence a Muslim should not neglect it. He should instead be fully involved in it. With proper education, he will feel responsible to Allah and strive to fulfil the trust given to him. This includes his jihad to perform the job given to him to the best of his ability – diligently and conscientiously, if he is a student; and efficiently and productively, if he is a worker.

Knowledge is necessary in the vital processes of becoming more Allah-conscious and for performing the roles that have been assigned to Muslims in any area of living, from domestic to social undertakings and from economics to management endeavors. The acquisition of knowledge is an amanah (trust) that must be fulfilled by using it to change the country, indeed the world, into a place for a happy and safe living. A truly Islamic society is a knowledge-based society in which people help in the efforts to introduce the process of change that would bring about a righteous and desirable environment where people teach and learn new knowledge and skills, and where there are incentives and motivation for research and development of new techniques of production and distribution so as to utilize the Allah-given resources more meaningfully and efficiently. Education and training is important in building up a society that could do well in managerial, technological, and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Education is not the privilege of the male Muslims only. The Muslim women too should be educated. The Prophet said: “The acquisition of knowledge is the obligation of every Muslim, male or female.”

Islam considers women too as possessing the capacity for learning, understanding, teaching and intellectual; development just like the men. Thus, they too have an obligation to receive education and training. Muslim girls and women have the same right as Muslim boys and men to pursue education and training related to their individual intelligence., ability, natural inclination, and aptitude. Thus, both sexes have equal opportunities to pursue and progress in education and training as far as their individual ability can take them, from school and college education to professional and tertiary qualifications.

Islam’s emphasis on modesty in male-female relation is an important Qur’anic principle that should not be interpreted to mean that women are to be secluded and denied any education or public role. What happened in various periods of Muslim history and even today in some Muslim countries where Muslim women seemed to have been denied their rights and adequate education is partly due to some oppressive male-dominant social hierarchies. It has nothing to do with Islam. In Islam, education and training has a special and supreme value, directed equally at both male and female Muslims.

by Shaikh A. Kadir

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