PURPOSE OF SEEKING KNOWLEDGE
Speech delivered by Ash-Shaikh H. Abdul Nazar, President of Centre for Spiritual Solidarity and General Secretary of All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama on the occasion of appreciating the Sri Lankan students graduating from International Islamic University – Malaysia in year 2009, organized by the Majlis of Sri Lankan Students at IIUM on 12.10.2009.
Dear President, Graduates, undergraduates, Parents
and My Dear Brothers and Sisters-in-Islam,
Assalaamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh.
It is indeed my pleasure and honour to have been invited by you; the Majlis of Sri Lankan Students at the International Islamic University – Malaysia, to be with you in this significant gathering.
I am very glad to associate myself with you all on this memorable occasion of recognizing the Sri Lankan students graduating from the IIUM this year and honouring those who are graduating with flying colours, obtaining Excellent Pass.
I wish to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate all the graduates today and especially those who have been blessed to gain the Excellent Pass.
My heart is really pregnant with joy and happiness as I see you all with thirst; thirst for knowledge. You have made a decision to quench your thirst at the IIUM. On the one hand, this decision, I know for sure as I am still a student like you, is a difficult one since you had to leave your kith and kin and your beloved motherland and come all the way to Kuala Lumpur. Yet, on the other hand, a wise decision because you have decided to slake your thirst at the IIUM, one of the popular and prestigious seats of learning in Asia.
Real thirst for knowledge is that. It urges you to venture into anything; big or small, easy or tough and near or far.
While totally agreeing with your correct and bold decision to sate your thirst, I have a question within myself; Why knowledge? Why appetite for knowledge? Why should you slake the thirst for knowledge?
You, perhaps, would come up with a ready-made answer that seeking knowledge is compulsory in Islam and the first verse of the divine revelation – Al-Qur’an was a clear-cut order to read and recite; Iqra’.
Yes. I am in absolute agreement with you. But my question is entirely different; Why does Islam impose on you seeking knowledge? What is the purpose of knowledge?
Man has to know the purpose of life; Why has he come to this world? How did he come? From where did he emanate? Where is he going after death? Who are these people? What are these relations – paternal, maternal and so on? What are these creations – earth, sea, sun, moon, mountain, river, forest, animals, birds, etc.? What is the relation between him and these creatures? How did he and all this originate?
Man ought to differentiate between the good and the bad, pure and impure, useful and useless, constructive and destructive, etc. Again the purpose of knowledge is obvious.
If we, through the knowledge we have acquired, apprehended the purpose of life, are we acting accordingly? Do we adopt the lifestyle prescribed by Islam? If yes, to what extent? Do we translate our knowledge into action?
Knowledge is not for knowledge, but for life. What you learn you must practice. In fact, the concept of knowledge for knowledge has precipitated all the current turbulence and destruction across the globe. This is the repercussion of seeking knowledge just for knowledge. Unfortunately most of the people have failed to understand this simple fact.
You must know your Creator. You must know how and from where you originated. You must know this world and the creatures therein. All this is conveyed in the first five verses of the divine revelation.
“Read with the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clot of blood. Read and your Lord is the most generous who imparted knowledge by means of the pen. He taught man what he did not know.” (Chapter: 96, Verses: 01 – 05)
But sadly, we take just the word ‘Iqra’ and stop with that. We do not look at the rest of the verse and the following verses.
Knowledge is for life. You must learn, find the truth and lead your life according to your Creator’s guidance.
In other words, do I have to study just because I want to be a graduate? Do I have to study just because I want my name to be coupled with some academic titles? Or do I have to study because I want to lead a purposeful life?
The present world, indeed, enjoys a great deal of scholars. No scarcity of academics and professionals. Yet, there is acute dearth of academics and professionals, who find the truth, comprehend the purpose of life and live every minute of life in accordance with the teachings of Almighty Allah.
Certainly you are lucky. Allah Ta’ala has given you the opportunity of pursuing your higher studies at a fully-fledged Islamic university whereas many students and perhaps even your friends, who are eager to further themselves in studies, are deprived of such a marvellous environment of higher education. You should, therefore, be grateful to Allah forever for this tremendous bounty.
Let us learn to live! Let us study Islam! Let us practice Islam in our day-to-day life to the letter! Let us fear Allah, the Exalted! Let us enlighten others in the light of knowledge we have gained!
With these few words, let me conclude, wishing all of you every success in your life, praying for abundance in your knowledge and accuracy and appropriateness in application and extending my sincere gratitude to the President and others of the Majlis of Sri Lankan Students at the IIUM.
Thank you very much - ‘Jazaakumullahu khaira’ for your patient hearing which was, of course, a source of inspiration to me.
Wassalaamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh.