When you think of the term education, what comes to mind? You may picture an institution of some sort, a lecture hall, or a primary school assembly. 

An education can be found beyond a classroom. It’s broad, and cannot be limited to the confines of a building or book. We all learn differently and digest knowledge at different stages of our lives, from different sources. 

Although most of us within the UK have gone through a similar school system, there are also other influences at play. Education is often measured by taking exams or writing essays, but the advancement in learning more about ourselves has led us to question different teaching styles and how to better suit our interests and hobbies beyond the classroom. 

On International Day of Education, we’re going to explore what Islam says about seeking knowledge, and its importance. 

There are no age or gender limitations when seeking knowledge. Islam encourages both men and women to educate themselves to better understand themselves, their purpose, and their Creator. 

The Prophet (saw) said: Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

There is a misconception that Islam restricts the advancement of women and their education. However, that goes against the very fabric of our deen. As men are, women are too encouraged to seek knowledge. You can find these myths debunked here. 

Understanding the world around you as a result allows you to appreciate what Allah has created for you. There’s so much that falls under the term ‘Ilm’. It doesn’t only translate to drowning yourself in information, but also about its implementation. It’s about gaining  knowledge, pondering on I and  benefiting from it.

In a world of tech, and the internet we’re bombarded with information. You must be aware of what is beneficial and the sources from whom you are gaining your information. 

What does the Qur’an say? 

The Qur’an in its entirety is the best source of your knowledge. After all, it is the direct speech of Allah, who is Al-‘Aleem, the One Who knows the details of all things. 

“Read! In the name of your Lord who created.” (Qur’an 96:1) 

The Qur’an talks about Ilm at different points. It’s a way to grow closer to Allah and understand His Magnificence. 

“Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge by degrees.” (Qur’an 58:11)

Being knowledgeable doesn’t always equate to a closer connection to Allah but seeking it in a correct way can increase it. Gaining the knowledge must be done with the correct intention, and it’s how that gift is used that matters. 

You could imprinted a library worth of books in your memory, but be unwilling to share that or use it for good. It could be your test and challenge you with pride and ego. 

On the other hand, there could be someone with little to no knowledge, but shares what good he has with others, and works on improving himself daily. It’s about your journey, your intention and your efforts, always working tirelessly to seek, without feeling disheartened – and most importantly of all, to implement. 

The Greatest Teacher – Prophet (saw) 

We all have a favourite teacher. It could be someone from your early years who was funny or a lecturer who believed in your capability. There’s something about them that draws you to them and remains with you. 

The Prophet (saw) had all the best qualities we could think of, and more, when it comes to being the greatest teacher. That’s why his teachings remain with us to this day. In his character, he (saw) was patient and merciful, attentive to all those around him, regardless of age or stature. 

We have sent you (O Prophet) only as a mercy for the whole world.” (Qur’an, 21:107)

He (saw) was the greatest role model, and simply by watching him you could learn what you needed to. He was and is the greatest example, and from his spoken and unspoken words, we can pick up the knowledge we need to live a successful and pleasing life to Allah.

“There is indeed a good model for you in the Messenger of Allah – for the one who has hope in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah profusely.” (Qur’an, 33:21)

Although he was the most beloved of Allah, he (saw) remained humble. This is a rare quality to have when you’re gifted with vast status and adornment, yet the Prophet (saw) embodied humility with every step he took. 

The Prophet (saw) is also an example of how, even if you’re not deemed as knowledgeable by others, your capability is in the hands of Allah, and only He Knows the true extent of your heart and soul. 

The Prophet (saw) did not know how to read nor write, yet he was the one to whom the Quran was revealed. He was given the monumental task of spreading the message to his Ummah. Imagine, if we came across an illiterate leader, in our time, what judgment would pass? But he (saw) is the perfect example of not putting limitations on yourself and seeking knowledge for His Sake. 

Education in the 21st century 

This could range from being a female nurse for the Muslim sisters around you or being a teacher to educate the next generation. Working in a charity to raise funds for many needy causes or a lawyer to advocate for others. Allah has blessed us in different ways and our skill set is so vast and varied. 

 “And say, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge.’” (Qur’an 20:114)

It’s important to keep Allah at the core of all your actions. Renew your intentions and question whether what you are seeking is drawing Him closer to you or away. Is the path you seeking going to benefit others or will it cause harm? These questions will help you balance out the knowledge you seek, in a world where there’s plenty that isn’t helpful. 

It’s not only Islamic knowledge that you’re recommended to seek, but also knowledge that helps better the society around you. A practical education helps improve your quality of life, and is a means of benefit for others. 

It’s difficult to sift through these questions when you don’t have a support network around you. You’re more liable to fall into an environment where you’re drowning in the wrong type, drifting further away from what is beneficial. A community around you helps keep you upright and in check. 

Our families, like you, yearn to fill their hearts and souls with education and knowledge that benefits them. But they’re separated from their local communities and shunned when wanting to connect. Events that have unfolded in their lives, make it difficult for them to start gaining. 

On International Day of Education, will you lighten the paths of these believers and empower them so that they’re able to provide for their families, for the long term? By generously helping you can gift them skills which last a lifetime, a sadaqah jariyah for you. 

May Allah enrich you with knowledge that is beneficial for you in this life and the hereafter, and make the path to seek it easy. Ameen