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Islamic Concept of Education and the Real Purpose of Knowledge (‘Ilm)
Author/Source:   (tauseef.parray21@gmail.com) Posted by: Tauseef Ahmad Parray
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Islam represents a comprehensive code of civilization encompassing all the dimensions of human thought and life. The Holy Quran is Allah’s last revelation to the mankind, meant to guide man in his esoteric and exoteric domains of life.

As Islam considers education a very essential tool to mould human thought and life so its educational system has the potential to lead civilization to the pinnacle. Islam seeks to setup its own civilization on the earth. Therefore, the mission of all prophets was to establish al-Din (i.e. religion, faith, mode of life, path etc.)- Islam. So, in order to understand what Islam is one has to see what Prophet Muhammad (SAW) achieved in his life. He established a full fledged Islamic society in Arabian peninsula which continued flourishing for several centuries. It was not merely religious society but represented Islamic principles in all walks of life, i.e. social, political, economic, moral, cultural, military, international relations and education.

Islamic system of education is composed of a clear objective of human recognition of Allah- the Ultimate Reality. The ultimate aim, real purpose, and goal of seeking knowledge is to know the Ultimate Reality, i.e. Almighty Allah- the Sustainer, the Maintainer, the Creator, the Provider, and the Keeper of the entire universe.

As the mission of all prophets was to establish Islam, so for that matter the holy Quran serves as its comprehensive constitution (4:105, 6:38) which is based on ‘Ilm (knowledge). Holy Quran says, “Verily, we have sent unto them a book (i.e. holy Quran), based on knowledge, which is explained in detail, a mercy and a guidance to a people who believe” (7:56). It does not allow man to act without knowledge (17:36) and there is no room in its philosophy for illiteracy, which according to holy Quran is the source of all kinds of fallacies, superstitions and irrational approaches. In other words, “illiteracy is the root cause of all evils including false beliefs, superstitions,etc.” The Holy Quran, infact, stimulates Muslim scholarship to study the Universe in its various factes. “About 750 verses of the holy Quran exhort the believers to study nature, to make best use of ‘Aql (Reason/ intellect) in their search and to make acquisition of knowledge and scientific comprehension… as there are signs of Allah’s power for mankind”. Holy Quran says “Verily in the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, and in the alternation of night and the day, there are indeed signs (revelations and proofs) for men of understanding”. (3:190)

In many Qura`nic verses Allah has highlighted the importance of knowledge for success in life. Islam seeks to help man to recognize Allah as knowledge is to know the reality and the greatest reality is the existence of Allah. This is the ‘Ilm by which we can distinguish between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, Haqq and Batil etc. The very first Revelation (96:1-5) to the last Prophet (SAW) serves as an invitation to man to know the Lord of the entire creation.

As ‘Ilm (knowledge) is basis of Quran (7:56) and Quran is furqan ( distinguishing between Haqq and Batil) so ‘Ilm is the power and blessing or criteria for distinguishing between true and false and between right and wrong. Knowledge brings light to life, increases power of mind and without it one’s life is aimless and purposeless.

To conclude, ‘Ilm is one of the blessings bestowed by Allah to the Supreme creature- the human being. The real purpose, ultimate aim and goal of acquiring or seeking knowledge is to know the Ultimate Reality- who is the Creator, the Sustainer and the Maintainer and the Provider of the entire creation- Almighty Allah.

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