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ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE

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ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE

INTRODUCTION

This paper reflects on his wider and broader vision of the Concept of knowledge. It elaborates in the light of the Qur’anic Surah al-Alaq what is knowledge, its elements, and its six aspects that are contained in the first five verses of the Surah. The paper also differentiates knowledge from ignorance and provides us with a new vision to see and scrutinize the issue. Ignorance does not merely imply a lack of Knowledge. A knowledgeable person may also be ignorant because ignorance, in fact, refers to failure in recognizing the Divine Truth and perceiving the power and might of the Creator of the universe manifest through His creation. And it is the creation that forms the canvas of human studies. The subject of human learning is, in this way, all-inclusive ranging from physical and social sciences to studies of spiritual and transcendental pursuits. Is l does not put any limits anywhere on seeking knowledge and consider s the entire universe as the syllabi of human learning? What is conditional to knowledge is the Divine Gnosis and Nearness to Allah which emanates and must emanate from all learning. ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE

 

But that is not the only condition Is l am stressing upon. The process of gaining knowledge involves a phenomenology which by design influences the learner or a disciple in two ways. Firstly, he persistently develops a sense of not knowing anything along with the gradual increase in learning; the exposure to vastness of knowledge shrinks his self -consciousness as a learner. So he starts feeling humble and at the same time grateful to Allah for his infinite blessings showered on man. Secondly, he may prove to be a blockhead and f ail s to recognize his own existence as a tiny and worthless spot on the expanse of the universe. He starts feeling magnified and also falls prey to megalomania. This phenomenon gives birth to pharaohs and tyrants. This is Satanic and anti-human. All radicalism, extremism, and terrorism generate from it. This is ignorance and cannot be called knowledge because as its outcome, knowledge humbles man and turns him into a moderate, peaceful and loving person. Feeling humble and lowly, therefore, is one of the essentials of the learning process. ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge is either acquired or gifted by Allah. The latter refer s to the knowledge bestowed upon the Messengers of Allah. The Final Prophet of Allah is the fountainhead of all knowledge in the universe. The knowledge man has acquired so far has been declared by Allah as little. But the Holy Prophet is the city of knowledge. Yet he is humble and his life history leaves for us a striking lesson of humility and modesty. We, therefore, can acquire maximum learning from the Prophetic source of knowledge which is his life conduct, the Seer ah and the Divine Revelation, the Qur’an. ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE

 

This leads us to understand the various sources of knowledge. Man is exteroceptive by design and make, and learns through sensory experience. But he is introspective at

the same time and learns also through the faculties of intellect and ecstasy. But revelation is the supreme source which is beyond human perception and intelligibility. We can benefit from this source, therefore, only through a strong link with the chain of learning connecting us to the Holy Prophet (ﷺ). So, the mission of acquiring knowledge cannot be accomplished without seeking guidance from the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) may humanity put all its energies to push the way through.

As for the scope of knowledge, it is infinite. There is no end to knowledge as there is no end to All ah’s Lordship and Godship and the Holy Prophet’s Messengership. Knowledge has enveloped the entire creation. One strives according to one’s potential and when he strikes the climax he gets amazed and this feeling can be expressed only through observing silence.

Elements of knowledge

This definition of knowledge leads us to the following four elements of knowledge:

  1. Observer

  2. Object

  3. Observing Capability

  4. Objectivity

Observer

A person who seeks knowledge or is eager to learn about some truth is called an observer. This is the distinction of man alone who is the best of all the creation of Allah

Almighty. An observer is generally known as a student, the one who is all the time inquisitive to know something. Knowledge is an unfathomable ocean. No one can claim possession of the whole of knowledge. He who knows a bit of it is known as a scholar.

Object

The thing that is being explored sought for and known is called an object. It implies any reality concrete or abstract, whether employing senses or intellect. The entire creation that exists in the embrace of the universe and its physical and metaphysical entities and truths, all are the objects of knowledge.

Observing capability

This is the third element of knowledge. This relates to the susceptibility and potential of an observer to know something. If the object is of sensory nature, the observer is required to possess the sensory capability to observe, perceive and know the object through five senses. On the other hand, if the object can be known through reason and intellect the observer needs to have the intellectual capability without which objects of reason cannot be encompassed. Thirdly if the knowledge of an object cannot be acquired without ecstasy and intuition the observer has to first equip himself with this faculty. And over and above all is the capability of receiving revelation which is the attribute of the Prophets and the Messenger s alone. This is beyond human capabilities and cannot be acquired; this is absolutely a divine capability which Allah () bestows only upon His chosen servants, the Prophets, and the Messengers.

Objectivity

The fourth and the last of the elements of knowledge is objectivity. It signifies a purpose-oriented quest to perceive and know the object. This necessitates the perfectibility of the object through any of the observer’s capabilities, that it can be grasped with any of the inquisitor’s potentials.

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