Showing posts with label KNOWLEDGE AND VALUE IN ISLAM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KNOWLEDGE AND VALUE IN ISLAM. Show all posts

Friday, April 3, 2009

Concept of Reality, Knowledge And Value In Islam



Islam is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion originating with the teachings of Muhammad (SAW). The word Islam is derived from the Arabic word Aslama, which means “to accept, surrender or submit" or "submission", or “the total surrender of oneself” to Allah. An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning "one who submits (to Allah)".

The prime message of Islam is the Unity of God, that the Creator of the world is One and He alone is worthy of worship and that Muhammad (SAW) is His Messenger. A Muslim’s other beliefs are: God’s angels, previously revealed Books of God, all the prophets, from Adam to Jesus (peace be on them both), the Day of Judgment and indeed the Decree of Allah. A Muslim has five main duties to perform, namely; bearing witness to the Unity of Allah and Muhammad (SAW) as His Messenger, observing the prescribed prayer, payment of Zakat, keeping the fasts of Ramadhan and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah.

CONCEPT OF REALITY IN ISLAM (Ultimate Reality: God and His Attributes)

Reality, in everyday usage, means "the state of things as they actually exist." The term reality, in its widest sense, includes everything that is, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. Reality in this sense may include both being and nothingness, whereas existence is often restricted to being. In other words, "reality", as a philosophical category includes the formal concept of "nothingness" and articulations and combinations of it with other concepts.
The ultimate Being or Reality is Allah. Allah, as described by the Quran for the understanding of man, is the sole self-subsisting, all pervading, eternal and Absolute Reality. He is the first and the last, the seen and unseen. He is transcendent in the sense that He in His full glory can not be known or experienced by us finite beings – beings that can know only what can be experienced through the senses or otherwise and what is inherent in the nature of thought or is implied by it. No vision can grasp Him. He is above all comprehension. He is transcendent also because He is beyond the limitation of time, space, and sense-content. He was before time, space, and the world of sense came into existence. He is also immanent both in the soul and the spatio-temporal order.
“He is the light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His light is as if there were a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp enclosed in glass; the glass as if it were a brilliant star lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: light upon light!”.
Like wise for our understanding, He describes through revelation His attributes by similitude from what is loftiest in the heavens and the earth. These attributes are many and are denoted by His names, but they can all be summarized under a few essential heads: Life, Eternity, Unity, Power, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Love, and Goodness. As compared to the essence of Allah, these attributes are only finite approaches, symbols or pointers to Reality and serve as the ultimate human ideals, they are not illogical symbols. Allah has Himself implanted them in our being. For that reason they must, in some sense, be faithful representation of the divine essence.
God, is thus, a living, self-subsisting, eternal, and absolutely free creative reality which is one, all powerful, al-knowing, all beauty, most just, most loving, and all good.

“God is one and there is no God but He. He is the only one and there is none like Him. He is too high to have partners”.

If there were other gods besides Him, some of them would have lorded over others. He is the one and not one in a trinity.

“He has begotten neither sons nor daughters, nor is He Himself begotten. And how could He be said to have sons and daughters when He has no consort”?

God and the World

Allah is omnipotent. To Him is due the primal origin of everything. It is He, the Creator, who began the process of creation and adds to creation as He pleases. To begin with He created the heavens and the earth, joined them together as one unit of smoky or nebulous substance, and then clove them asunder. The heavens and the earth as separate existents with all their produce were created by Him in six days (six great epochs of evolution). Serially considered, a divine day signifies a very long period, say, one thousand years of our calculation or even fifty thousand years. Non-serially considered,

“His decisions are executed in the twinkling of an eye or even quicker, for there is nothing to oppose His will. When He says, “Be,” behold! It is. His decree is absolute; no one can change it. He draws the night as a veil over the day, each looking for the other in a rapid series. He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, all governed by the laws designed by Him and under His command. Every creature in the heavens and the earth willingly submits to his laws. The sun runs its course for a determined period; so does the moon. The growth of a seed into a plant bearing flowers and fruit, the constellations in the sky, the succession of the day and night-these and all other things show proportion, measure, order, and law. He it is who is the creator, evolver, and restorer of all forms. He it is who sends down water from the sky in due measure, causes it to soak in the soil, raises the life to land that is dead, and then drains it off with ease”.

He is the Lord of Throne and Honor and the Throne of Glory Supreme, the Lord of the dawn and all the ways of ascent. To Him belong the east and the west, where ever, you turn, there is His presence.

It is He who spreads out the earth like a carpet, sends down water from the sky in due measure to revive it with fruit, corn, and plants, and has created pairs of plants, each separate from the others, and pairs of all other things. He gives the heavens canopy its order and perfection and night its darkness and splendor, the expanse of the earth its moisture, pastures, and mountains, springs, streams, and seas, ships, and cattle, pearls and coral, sun and shadow, wind and rain, night and day and things we humans do not know. It is He who gives life to dead land and slakes the thirst of his creatures and causes the trees to grow in to orchards full of beauty and delight.

It is He who gives life and death and has power over all things. God is not only the creator, but also the cherisher, sustainer, protector, helper, guide, and reliever of distress and suffering, of all His creatures, and is most merciful, most kind, and most forgiving. God has not created the world for idle sport. It is created with a purpose, for an appointed term, and according to a plan, however hidden these may from us humans. The world is not without a purpose or a goal, to every one of them there is a goal and that goal is God Himself.

“God is the best of planners. He it is who ordains laws and grants guidance, creates everything and ordains for it a proportion and measure, and gives guidance. There is not a thing but with Him are the treasurers of it, but He sends them down in a known measure”.

Allah’s Relation to Man

Allah created man’s spirit out of nothing and created mankind from this single spirit. He created his mate of the same kind and form the twain produced men and women in large numbers. From the point of view of history and perhaps from the point of view of the evolutionary process, man is created for an appointed term as a being growing gradually from the earth, from an extract of certain elements of the earth, then by receiving nourishment from the objects of sustenance and being endowed with life, like all other living beings, taking the form of water, or watery clay or adhesive mud molded into shape in due proportions as a life germ, a leech like clot of congealed blood, growing into a lump of flesh, further developing into bones, and finally emerging as a new creation. A human being in two sexes gifted with hearing and sight , intelligence and affection, destined to become Allah’s vicegerent on earth, decreed to die one day, and destined to be raised again on the Day of Resurrection. In reality, man is the highest of all the creation Allah has created him in the most beautiful of moulds. He is born with the divine spirit breathed into him. Human perfection, therefore, consists in being dyed in divine color – in the fullest achievement and Assimilation of divine attributes, for Allah desires nothing but the perfection of His light, the perfection of these attributes in man. The sole aim of man therefore is a progressive achievement of all divine attributes. Allah is always near man nearer than his jugular vein.


The soul of man is of divine origin because Allah has breathed a bit of His own spirit into him. It is a deep mystery, a command of Allah, of the knowledge of which only a little has been communicated to man. The conscious self or mind is of three degrees. In the first degree it is the impulsive mind (nafs ammarah) which man shares with animals; In the second degree it is the careful or morally conscious mind (nafs lawwamah) struggling between good and evil and regretful for the evil done; in the third degree it is the mind perfectly in tune with the divine will, the mind in peace (nafs mutma”innah).
Man’s Power

Allah has subjected for the use of man, everything in the heavens and the earth – the sun and the moon, day and night, winds and rain, the rivers and the seas and the ships that sail, pearls and corals, springs and steams, mountains, moisture, and pastures, and animals to ride and grain and fruit to eat.


Allah has given man the will to choose, decide, and resolve to do good or evil. He has endowed him with reason and various impulses so that by his own efforts he may strive and explore possibilities. He has also given him a just bias, a natural bias towards good.
Besides this He has given him guidance through revelation and inspiration, and has advised him to return evil with good, to repel it with what is best (ahsan). He never changes the gracious benefits which He has bestowed on a people until they change themselves. Therefore, whatever good comes from man or to man is ultimately from God. On the other hand, his nature has a bias against evil, his reason is opposed to it, and he has been given a warning against it through the revealed books; therefore, whatever evil comes from him or to him is from his own soul. If God had willed He would have destroyed evil or would not have allowed it to exist, and if it were His will, the whole of mankind would have had faith, but that is not His plan. His plan predicts man’s free use of the divine attribute of power or freedom to choose, and take all precautionary measures to suit different situations because in the beneficial scheme man’s role is not that of blind, deaf, dumb and driven herd of goats.


Death of the body has been decreed by Allah to be the common group of mankind. Wherever a man is, death will overtake him. Every soul shall be given a taste of death and in the end brought back to Allah and duly judged on the Day of Judgment, and only he who is saved from fire will admitted to paradise; it is than he will have attained the goal of his life.

Life after Death

For everyone after death there shall be an interval lasting till the Day of Resurrection. On that day all the dead shall be raised up again. Even as Allah produced the first creation, so shall He produce this new one? We do not know in what form we shall be raised, but as a parable the Quran describes the Day of Resurrection as follows:

“On that day there shall be a dreadful commotion. The heaven shall be rent asunder and melted like molten brass. The sun folded up and the moon darkened shall be joined together, and the stars shall fall, losing their luster. In terrible repeated convulsions, the earth shall be shaken to its depths and pounded into powder. The mountains shall crumble to atoms flying hither and thither like wool, the oceans shall boil over, there shall be a deafening noise, and the graves shall be turned upside down”.
All shall fully remember their past deeds. Any one who would have done an atom of good shall see it and anyone who will have done an atom of evil shall see it. They will have neither a protector, nor an intercessor except Allah They shall all now meet their lord. The scale of justice shall be set up. All in proportion to their respective deeds and for a period of longer and shorter shall go to the state of pain and sorrow, designated in the Quran as hell, and the righteous saved from hell shall enter a state of perpetual peace, designated as paradise.


Knowledge can be defied as “The state or fact of knowing.”
Man alone has been given the capacity to use names for things and so has been given the knowledge which even the angels do not possess. When angels questioned the superiority of Adam, it was his knowledge which made the angels admit the fact and bow down to him as ordained by Allah.

“He imparted knowledge to man which He did not do to angels”

Islam is the religion of knowledge. The first aayah of the Quran to be revealed enjoined reading which the key to knowledge is. Allah says:

“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not” [al-‘Alaq 96:1-5]
According to the Quran, the first teaching class for Adam started soon after his creation and Adam was taught 'all the Names'. Allah created man and provided him with the tools for acquiring knowledge, namely hearing, sight and wisdom. Allah says:
“And Allâh has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allâh) [al-Nahl 16:78]

Because of the importance of knowledge, Allah commanded His Messenger to seek more of it. Allah says:

“And say: ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” [Ta-Ha 20:114]

Islam calls us to seek knowledge. The Prophet (SAW) made seeking knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim. He said that;

“The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets and that the Prophets did not leave behind dinars and dirhams (i.e., money), rather their nheritance was knowledge, so whoever acquires it has gained a great share”.

The Prophet (SAW) aid that seeking knowledge is a way to Paradise. He (SAW) said:

“Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-‘Ilm, 10)

Islam calls us to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledge. Branches of knowledge vary in status, the highest of which is knowledge of sharee’ah, then knowledge of medicine, then the other fields of knowledge.

The best of all branches of knowledge are the sciences of sharee’ah through which man comes to know his Lord, and his Prophet and religion. This is the knowledge with which Allah honored His Messenger; He taught it to him so that he might teach it to mankind.

Knowledge brings a great reward. When the knowledgeable person dies, his reward with Allah does not cease when he dies, rather it continues to increase so long as people benefit from his knowledge. The Prophet (SAW) said:

“When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three – an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous son who will pray for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1631)

The first and most crucial obligation on us is to acquire knowledge and secondly to practice and preach this knowledge. No man becomes truly a Muslim without knowing the meaning of Islam, because he becomes a Muslim not through birth but through knowledge. It is impossible for us to be a Muslim, and at the same time live in a state of ignorance. If we are blessed with the light of knowledge we will be able to see plainly the clear path of Islam at every step of our lives. We shall also be able to identify and avoid the dangerous paths of Kufr, Shirk Knowledge is follow and practiced with modesty and humility and leads to beauty and dignity, freedom and justice.
The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to Allah. It is not simply for the satisfaction of the mind or the senses. Knowledge must be linked with values and goals.

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah- rahimahullaah said that knowledge can be gained by six etiquettes of learning "These are six stages to knowledge:
Firstly: Asking questions in a good manner.
Secondly: Remaining quiet and listening attentively.
Thirdly: Understanding well.
Fourthly: Memorizing.
Fifthly: Teaching.
Sixthly- and it is its fruit: Acting upon the knowledge and keeping to its limits."

The first revelation that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) received starts remarkably with special emphasis on the importance of knowledge:

“Read! In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created; Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood ; Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful; He Who taught (the use of) the pen; Taught man that which he knew not.” (96:1-5)

Prophet Muhammad (SAW):

“The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr”.
Among men those who are granted wisdom are indeed granted great good.

Degree of knowledge

Knowledge can be gained by three degrees;

(i) Knowledge by inference (Ilm al-Yaqin)

The first type of knowledge depends either on the truth of its conjecture as in deduction, or it is only probable as in induction. There is greater certitude about our knowledge based on actual experience (observation or experiment) of phenomena.

(ii) Knowledge by perception (Ain al-Yaqin)

The second type of knowledge is either scientific knowledge based on experience or historical knowledge based on reports and description of actual experiences. Not all reports are trustworthy. Therefore, special attention should be paid to the character of the reporter. If he is a man of shady character, his report should be carefully checked.
Scientific knowledge comes from the study of natural phenomenon. These natural phenomena are signs of God, symbols of the Ultimate Reality or an expression of the Truth, a human behavior is the expression of the human mind. Natural laws are the set ways of God, in which there is no change.

(iii) Knowledge by personal experience or intuition (Haq al-Yaqin)

God reveals His signs not only in the experience of the outer world (afaq) and its historical vistas, but also through the inner experience of minds (anfus). Thus, the inner or personal experience is the third source of knowledge. Experience from this source gives the highest degree of certitude. Divine guidance comes to His creatures in the first instance from this source. The forms of knowledge that come through this source are (1) divinely-determined movement – movement determined by natural causes, as in the earth, and the heavens (2) instinct, e.g., in the bee to build it cell (3) intuition or knowledge by the heart (4) inspiration as in the case of Moses’ mother when she cast her tenderly suckled child into the river, and (5) revelation as in the case of all true prophets, God’s messengers.
It may be said that Islam is the path of "knowledge." No other religion or ideology has so much emphasized the importance of 'ilm. In the Qur'an the word 'alim has occurred in 140 places, while al-'ilm in 27. In all, the total number of verses in which 'ilm or its derivatives and associated words are used is 704. The aids of knowledge such as book, pen, ink etc. amount to almost the same number. Qalam occurs in two places, al-kitab in 230 verses, among which al-kitab for al-Qur'an occurs in 81 verses. Other words associated with writing occur in 319 verses. It is important to note that pen and book are essential to the acquisition of knowledge. The Islamic revelation started with the word iqra' ('read!' or 'recite!').
Values can be defined as “those things that are important to or valued by someone”. That someone can be an individual or, collectively, an organization. One place where values are important is in relation to vision. Values are what we, as a profession, judge to be right. They are more than words-they are the moral, ethical, and professional attributes of character. Values determine what is right and what is wrong.
There are some basic values in Islam and Islam preaches to that. A human being cannot live without these basic values. Individuals and states are advised to protect or at least to respect these basic values.
(i) Life
Allah is living one Himself and gives life to others. The moral laws pronounced in the Quran are life giving and life enriching and, therefore, by living in this world in accordance with these laws man is able to realize one of Allah’s attributes. Allah says:
“If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people”.
In other words, physical self means all those that could provide a healthy body to lead a purposeful life. Islam holds the human soul in high respect. In Islam all men are equal, regardless of color, language, race, or nationality and consider the attack against innocent human beings a vital sin; this is emphasized by the following Quranic verse:
“Whoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption and mischief in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! Many of them became prodigals in the earth” (the Quran, 5: 32).
Allah created life to test which of the people are best in point of deed. The present world is a place of sojourn and a place of departure. In fact, life on this earth is a preparation for the life hereafter.
(ii) Religion
Religion is considered as a basic value or fundamental right of every individual. One is free to practice the religion of his choice. There should not be any compulsion in choosing one's religion, nor obstruction to practice it. The religion is for providing guidance, peace, harmony, comfort and purpose in life. The religion is for teaching man to uphold truth, justice, and all the virtues. The religion is for teaching man to avoid the vices. There is no compulsion in Islam; Islam came with the just word of our creator. Allah says:
"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error.” (Quran 2:256)
(iii) Eternity

This attribute in its fullness is exclusively Allah’s. Man is created within time for a stated term; yet, he has within himself a deep desire of eternity and for a kingdom that never fails or ends. The way is open for the finite and temporal man to attain life everlasting.

(iv) Unity

The greatest emphasis in the Quran is on the unity of Allah. Faith in Allah is the necessary prerequisite of moral life, but it should not be mere verbal acceptance; it must be accompanied by good deeds, implying an attitude of mind which is motivated by a complete submission to Allah’s will. All believing men and women are truthful in their words and deeds.
This ideal of unity also implies peace and harmony among members of a family. Unity also implies that members of a national or ideological group should develop ties of close relationship among themselves so that the ideal of an organic whole may be realized in a broader context. The Quran says that

“All Muslims are brothers and have great love and affection among themselves”.

It is as a consequence of this attitude of tolerance that according to the Quran

“All those who believe in Allah and the last day and practice righteousness whether they are Muslims, Jews or Christians shall get their reward from their Lord’.

Mankind was created from a single pair of a male and a female and from a single breath of life. All people are equal members of the human community; the only distinction recognized by the Quran is based on the degree of righteousness possessed by people.

(v) Power

God breathed His Spirit into a human being and made him His vicegerent on the earth. Everything in the universe was created subservient to him, even the angels were ordered to bow down to him. He has all the faculties that are necessary for his physical and spiritual development and can pass beyond the limits of the heavens and the earth with the power given to him by Allah.

He is given the power to distinguish between good and evil and therefore, he alone is responsible for what he does. He is endowed with freedom of action, but his freedom is limited by the free causality of Allah. His responsibility is proportionate to his powers, he has been shown the path of righteousness and it is up to him to accept its lead or reject it.

The ideal of power demands that in order to establish a state on the basis of peace, freedom of thought, worship, belief, and expression, the morally orientated individuals will have to strive hard.

Those who clearly persevere in the path of righteousness will be in possession of a determining factor in all the affairs of this life and will be above small weaknesses. Those who are firm and steadfast will never lose heart, nor weaken in will, nor give in before the enemy. A small band of steadfastly preserving people often conquers a big force. Similarly, trust in Allah is the moral quality of all believers.

(vi) Truth or Wisdom

Wisdom as a human ideal stands for mans search for knowledge or truth. It is something which is distinguished form conjecture or imperfect knowledge and mere believe. Different stories are related in the Quran, several similitude and signs pointing to reality are detailed and explained, so that people may reflect and think over things. It is the characteristic of the righteous that they not only celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting and laying down on their sides, but also contemplate and ponder over the different phenomena of nature. The people are therefore, advised repeatedly to look at and observe the phenomena of nature pondering over everything in creation to arrive at the truth.

(vii) Knowledge

God is all knowledge. He is the Truth. He witnesses all things. Really, nothing on the earth or in the heavens is hidden from Him, not even as much as the weight of an atom. On the earth and in the sea not even a leaf does fall without His knowledge. He is full of wisdom. He understands the finest of mysteries. No secrets of the heart are hidden from Him, for He has full knowledge of all things, open or secret. He knows and would call us to account for what is in our minds, whether we reveal it or conceal it.

(viii) Justice

Allah is the best to judge and is never unjust. He does not deal unjustly with man; it is man that wrongs his own soul. On the Day of Judgment, He will set up the scales of justice and even the smallest action will be taken in to account. He is swift in taking account, and punishes with exemplary punishment. For those who refrain from wrong and do what is right there is great reward. Divine punishment is equal to the evil done.

(ix) Love

Islam, emphasis on the basic values of love. God is loving and He exercises His love in creating, sustaining, nourishing, sheltering, helping, and guiding His creatures; in attending to their needs, in showing them grace, kindness, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness, when having done some wrong, they turn to him for that; and extending the benefits of His unlimited bounty to the sinners no less than to the virtuous. It is therefore, befitting for men to be overflowing in his love for God and be thankful to Him for His loving care.

(x) Goodness

“Allah is all good, free from evil (Quddus). He is also the source of all good and worthy of all praise.”

Goodness is an attribute of Allah and therefore, it becomes the duty of every person to obey his own impulse to good. He should do good as Allah has been good to all and love those who do good. Believers hasten in every good work as all prophets were quick in emulating good works so all people are advised to strive together towards all that is good.

(xi) Beauty

Allah posses most beautiful named and highest excellence and creates everything of great beauty. Man is created in the best of moulds and is given a most beautiful shape. Allah created the universe with beauty

“Allah is beautiful and loves the beautiful.".
He created all beauties for humanity. The sun, the moon, everything that we see. He created for people to live beautifully, and He is giving good energy through all of it. If people know how to use this well, then they will find this beauty, and they will beautify their lives. If they are not able to find this beauty, then this beauty in them will become negative, and this example of paradise, this life, will turn into fire.
Allah did not create anything bad. He created everything as good and beautiful. He has given everything to the service of humanity. There is not one thing that will serve else as humanity. Everything that is done, everything that we see, is serving humanity. If we see these truths, these realities, then we will walk towards the Reality, and we will find beauty. Allah has revealed the most beautiful message in the form of a book and given the best of explanations in the revealed books we are, therefore, advised to follow the best of revelations from Allah.
In short, “Allah is omnipresent and every thing in this world has to prostrate Allah”.
“Science has proved that the voice which comes from heartbeat is LUBDUB…. But now they analyze that it is RUB RUB (ALLAH ALLAH). RUB is Arabic word which means One Who made journey of LIFE”.


M. M. Sharif. 2004. A History of Muslim Philosophy. Vol. I. Pakistan Philosophical Congress. 136-165.
Rizavi, S. S. 1986. Islamic Philosophy of Education. Malik Faiz Bakhsh (Secretary) Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore. 65.
Akgunduz, A. 2008. Norms and Values in Islam. Islamic University Rtterdam Aelbrechtskade. 100-3023.