History of knowledge in Islam civilization

By Imam Lavdrim Hamja – Kenosha, June 03, 2011

All praise is to God, Who has said in the Glories Quran: “The most who fear God are scholars, or people of knowledge.” Salam and salawats, may peace and blessings be upon our blessed Messenger, who has said: “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every muslim.” May peace be upon his family, companions and all those, who pursue his path of knowledge until the Day of Judgment.

There is no doubt that knowledge in Islam is regarded, holy and occupies an important place in Islam. Regarding this, God has joined His testimony and that of the angels with the testimony of scholars while saying:

شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَالْمَلائِكَةُ وَأُوْلُوا الْعِلْمِ قَائِماً بِالْقِسْطِ لا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“By the witness of Allah; There is no god but He: (That is the witness of) His angels, and those gifted with knowledge, standing firm on juftice, there is no god but He, the Almighty, the All wise.” (Al-Imran: 18)

Early Muslims, motivated from these words of God and of His Messenger regarding the goodness and the value of knowledge, they entered the path of seeking knowledge and thus became world’s leading scholars in all fields of knowledge. Rays of their knowledge did not remain only in the Muslim territories, but they spread to give enlighten throughout the world, while praying and hoping that the light of knowledge to enlighten even their territories who were plunged into the darkness of ignorance. European Kings would send their sons and daughters to be educated in Islamic Universities.

The Frenchman, Gustav Lebon used to say with the highest conviction: If only Muslim had conquered Paris, so she could be like Cordova. That is why the expression: “Europe is indebted to Islam for its civilization.”

Brothers and sisters in Islam this was a proud status of the Muslims in which they understood and applied Islam correctly, by not distinguishing between religious knowledge and that of human knowledge which God had taught before to our father Adam.

Quran says:

) وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنْبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَؤُلاء إِنْ كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (31) قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ لا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ

“And He taught Adam the names of all things: Then He placed them before the angels and said: “Tell me the names of these (things) if you are right.” They said: “Glory to You: We have no knowledge except what You have taught us: Verily, in truth it is You who are Perfect in knowledge and wisdom.” (Bekare: 31-32)

Historical evidence show that Muslims thirsty and hungry for knowledge entered in every field of education giving valuable contributions in the field of medicine, astronomy, philosophy, mathematics, chemistry and so on. From the first century of Hijra during the Umayyad Dynasty began the effort to establish scientific cultures than later during the Abbasid period this effort were to climb at the top of pedestal of the world.

During the time of khalif Mamun, 215h (830) during that time of flourishing knowledge of sciences, every book translated into the Arabic language would be price with gold equivalent of the weight of the book.

Libraries. During the time of Islamic Civilization were three types of Libraries.

General Libraries of Mosques and Schools. Example, the Library of Basra, which index was 10 volumes. In Bagdad it had 36 of these.

Personal libraries, which people had created in their homes.

Libraries part personal in part general, which were used by scholars and students. These libraries contained books that were rare and very valuable in which could not be possessed by common people.

DARUL HIKME- in Cairo during the 4th century which Ibn Haldun calls it Darul Mearife or Darul Ilm, had 100,000 volumes. Six hundred handwritten manuscripts in astronomy and mathematics. Also this library was equipped with two celestials’ globe to explain the science of astronomy. Its costs covered by separate awkaf, which were assigned to.

MEKTEBUL AZIZ- in Cairo had 1.6 million volumes. Among them 6000 volumes in mathematics and 10,000 in philosophy.

MEKTEBUL KORDOVA in the fourth century had 400,000 volumes with 44 registers indexes.

All this culture and civilization flourished during a period when Europe was in deep Dark Age of ignorance during the middle ages. Therefore, in Cordova the library had 400,000 volumes, and four centuries later, the King of France Charles the fifth had only 1000 volumes in his royal library.

Respected brothers and sisters, the history of Islamic Civilization is filled with pride and gave great contribution in the field of religion and secular knowledge. For they understood well what it means to be knowledgeable and the importance knowledge has in the lives of Muslims. During that period Muslims not only had in their hands the destiny of their own, but also the destiny of other peoples throughout the world. Because Allah has promised us in the Qur’an saying:

ولقد كتبنا في الزبور من بعد الذكر أن الأرض يرثها عبادي الصالحون إن في هذا لبلاغا لقوم عابدين

“And indeed, before this Quran, We wrote in Zaboor, following the sacred message (Given to Moses):” My righteous servants shall inherit the earth. Surely, in this is a message for people who truly understand.” (Al-Anbya 105-106)

The promise of God is just and true, but are today’s Muslims good servants of God? Do Muslims deserve today the inheritance of the land? Let us see as what happened then when Muslims abandoned the knowledge and their religion?

Qur’an says:

(وما ظلمناهم ولكن كانوا أنفسهم يظلمون ) .

“We did not do them any wrong, but they were used to doing wrong to themselves.” (An-Nahl 118)

Ibn Jawzeey in the sixth century has said: “A wise Muslim needs to establish a goal according to his capacity or opportunity. If it were to be imagined that man to be uplifted in the heavens, I would consider that among the shortcomings the position of Muslims on earth.”

He has said this phrase because he had read and understood the following verse in which Allah says:

يا معشر الجن والإنس إن استطعتم أن تنفذوا من أقطار السماوات والأرض فانفذوا‏,‏ لا تنفذون إلا بسلطان‏

“O assembly of men and jinn, if you are able to surpass the heavens and the earth surpass then, but for surely you are not able to, except with great powers.” (Rrahman: 33)

That is because Muslims were to follow the message of the Book, but where are the Muslims for the past several centuries?

Heed to these following words that were uttered by a great Muslim thinker Muhammad Al-Ghazali: “If it were to say about the things that are happening in the Muslim lands: Return from where you came from, I would fear that people would walk naked and barefoot, from the works of their own hands, what to wear and what to cover with, what to ride and with what to kindle their houses with. And then, I would fear a famine and a plague of hunger because their countries do not provide for themselves even a necessity of a daily bread.”

Brothers and sisters, we brought these examples from the period of the Islamic Civilization, not simply to read them and listen to them, but to really understand them and to obey with conviction that the path to freedom, pride, power, development and prosperity passes through knowledge as our predecessors have done in the past. Whenever we neglect and abandoned the pursue of knowledge, Almighty God will never help such people, because He has created this world with knowledge and strict laws, and this shall continue as long as the world is in existence.

Therefore, let us return to the pursuit of knowledge, the love for books and reading, to contribute in the path of knowledge, to respect the scholars and those who posses knowledge, because there is nothing greater in our religion than knowledge of which begins in the name of Allah: “Read in the name of Allah, who create it.”

Muslim boys and girls should walk resolutely in the holy path of education and they should not cease their education in their youthful age but they should continue that path with a firm conviction, because every step they make going to school, they will have forgiveness and Mercy, blessings and kindness, light and pride, for themselves and their religion. They are counted as true believers with the highest degree of reward from their Lord. Our beloved prophet has told us:

))من جاءه أجله وهو يطلب العلم لقي الله ولم يكن بينه وبين النبيين إلا درجة النبوة) ((الطبراني عن ابن عباس(

“When death approaches someone while seeking or searching for knowledge, you meet not having between him and the prophets, except the degree of prophet hood.” (Tabarany from Ib Abas, Daylamyw)

The Prophet (p.h.) also has said:

” مَا اكْتَسَبَ مُكْتَسِبٍ مِثْلَ فَضْلِ عِلْمٍ يَهْدِي صَاحِبَهُ إِلَى هُدًى أَوْ يَرُدُّهُ عَنْ رَدًى ، وَلا اسْتَقَامَ دِينُهُ حَتَّى يَسْتَقِيمَ عَقْلُهُ “

“No one has won nothing better than kindness and knowledge which guides to their God with a true guidance, or stays away from lowly things. No one has the right religion, unless they have the right works.” (Tabarany in Awsat and Sageer)

“Such are the examples that We offer men that they may (deeply) think.” (Hashr: 21)

O God! Make us among those who love, pursue and contribute in knowledge. AMIN!

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