Education and acquisition of knowledge are mainly responsible for all the progress made by the humanity. Therefore, it is not surprising that the first revelation of Quran happened to be exhortations to acquire knowledge. Quran says, “Read in the name of your Lord, who created man from a clot of blood. Read and your Lord is most gracious, who taught man what he doesn’t know with pen.” (96:125). There are several passages in Quran which exhorts humanity to ponder over the creation of the Universe and study lessons from natural phenomenon.
Prophet said, “It is compulsory for every male and female to acquire knowledge.”
“Ink in the pen of a scholar is more precious than the blood of a martyr.” “Seek knowledge even if we be in China.” According to Quran, a person who travels in search of knowledge is in the way of God until he returns.
It is a well known fact that the Arabs were steeped in badness and ignorance at the time of the birth of the Prophet and they had not made any contribution to the intellectual field. However, we find the exhortation of Quran and the sayings of the Prophet brought about a great intellectual revolution among the Arabs.
Gustave Le Bon the famous French social psychologist remarked, “At any epoch when Europe was steeped into the largest of barbarisms, Bagdad and Cordoba, two great cities, which were nerve centres of civilisation where Islam held sway, illuminated the entire world with their brilliance and learning. For the same reason, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his ‘Glimpses of World History’ said, “The Arabs were the fore fathers of modern science.”
Our Hindu Acharyas also have said ‘Vidyadhanam sarvadhanal pradanam’ (knowledge is precious than all the wealth). The first Abbasid Khalif of Bagdad, whose reign was outstanding for its patronage of learning, founded in the 9th century an institute of research called ‘Baitul Hikmah’ at which the great works of Greek Science were translated into Arabic. More streams of knowledge were added with that fromIndia too. Remember that this had no precedence at all. We think that we are great enthusiasts but I feel that our attitude to learning is yet to change for the better because learning is always a divine mission.