In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWLEDGE
All praise is for Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves and the wickedness of our own deeds. Whomever Allah guides, cannot be lead astray and whomever Allah does not guide, none can guide him. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone without associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his household, his companions and all those who follow them in righteousness till the Day of Judgment.
Allah, the Exalted, says: “… Say: Are those who know equal to those who know not? It is only men of understanding who will remember.” Q39:9.
“They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration). Say: "The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord. And of knowledge it is only a little that is given to you (O mankind!).” Q17:85.
“…Now such were their houses in utter ruin because they practiced wrongdoing. Verily in this is a SIGN FOR PEOPLE OF KNOWLEDGE.” Q27:52.
“And such are the Parables We set for mankind but none will understand them except those who have Knowledge.” Q29:43.
“Those truly fear Allah among His Servants who HAVE KNOWLEDGE: for Allah is Exalted in Might Oft-Forgiving.” Q35:28.
“High above all is Allah the King, the Truth! Be not in haste with the Qur'an before its revelation to thee is completed but say "O my Lord! INCREASE ME IN KNOWLEDGE." Q20:114
Our beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim…” (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 218)
“If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham (money), leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.” (Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 3634).
The prophet (PBUH) used to supplicate: "O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from four things: KNOWLEDGE WHICH DOES NOT PROFIT, a heart which is not submissive, a soul which has an insatiable appetite, and a supplication which is not heard." (Sunan of Abu-Dawood hadith 1543)
“O Allah, I ask Thee for BENEFICIAL KNOWLEDGE, acceptable action, and good provision." (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith Hadith 2487).
And in a hadith Qudsi, the Prophet said that Allah says: “Search for knowledge about Me before you worship Me. How will he who does not know Me worship Me correctly?"
Muslims need to do their best to understand Islam according to the Qu'ran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) now more than before because there are many new and strange beliefs and practices causing disunity among the Muslims. Faith is very important, our faith has to conform with the Qur'an and the Sunnah because our solat, righteous deeds and all acts of worship will not be accepted if our faith and Islamic aqidah are deficient.
Islam emphasizes the importance of knowledge both religious and mundane. Islam is a justly balanced religion (Q2:143). It does not forbid us from seeking the good things of this world (including but not limited to sound western education or any other useful knowledge) because we want Paradise but it advises us not to let the search for good things of the world be our main pursuit in this world. Allah Himself commands us to pray: “Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and defend us from the torment on the fire!" Q2:201
The first generation of Muslims demonstrated their good understanding of Islam, they were pious men and they contributed to scientific discoveries and other sphere of knowledge. But only few Muslims of the present generation do this. It is either he/she is a professor in his/her field and knows next to nothing about Islam or he is an Islamic Scholar with little or no knowledge about other fields of knowledge.
Some of the excuses some people who have acquired western education usually give when they are encouraged to learn about Islam are old age and lack of time. They have forgotten that the Prophet (PBUH) and most of His companions, accepted and learnt about Islam at old age around forty years. So, age is not a barrier to knowledge. Let us change our disposition to the acquisition of Islamic and other forms of knowledge/education.
May Allah make this easy for us and help those who are championing this course.