Islam grants paramount importance to education and learning. Let us see what importance the revealed book of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) attach to education.


1.      Al-Qur’an, the religious scripture of Islam, gives so much importance to education that the very first verses of this Holy book which were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) instructed the Prophet to ‘read’. The Qur’an says:

“Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth, Createth man from a clot. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teacheth by the pen, teacheth man that which he knew not”.   (96:1-5)

Thus, the Holy Qur’an, if its revelation is put in chronological order, starts with the commandment ‘to read’, ‘teach’ and ‘pen’ which shows the priority given to reading, teaching and pen (being the instrument of writing).  

2.      The importance of the writing and the pen (symbol of writing) is so much that at one place in the Qur’an   (68:1-2), the Almighty Allah swears by the pen and at another place He commands the believers to reduce their contracts, agreements and their business deals into writing. The relevant verse of the Qur’an reads: 

O ye who believe! When ye contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing. Let a scribe record it in writing between you in (terms of) equity. No scribe should refuse to write as Allah hath taught him, so let him write, and let him who incurreth the debt dictate, and let him observe his duty to Allah his Lord, and diminish naught thereof…   (2:282)  

3.      The prayers of the Prophets and the righteous people have been mentioned in the Qur’an. The prayer of the Prophet of Islam given in the Qur’an is about the increase in knowledge. Allah commanded His messenger to pray to Him in these words: “….. My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” (Al-Qur’an 20:114). This has been the most popular prayer of the followers of Muhammad (may Allah’s peace be upon him) through centuries and even the children in the Muslim homes start chanting this prayer from the very childhood.

4.      Human being is the best of Allah’s creation and it is because Allah has given him knowledge. It is on account of the learning and knowledge that man’s superiority was established over the Angels. Allah taught Adam all the names, and then showed them to the Angels asking them to inform Him about them which they could not, but Adam did. The relevant verses of the Qur’an state: And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the Angels, saying: Inform me of the names of these, if ye are truthful. They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge saving that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, the Wise. He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of the heavens and the earth? And I know that which ye disclose and which ye hide.   (2:31-33)

5.      Allah blessed the Prophets with wisdom and knowledge and raised them in different communities in different ages with the mission to guide the people and teach them knowledge and books of Allah. Following verses of the Qur’an bring home this fact:-

1)     And He (Allah) will teach him (Jesus) the Scripture and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel. And will make him a messenger unto the Children of Israel.   (3:48-49)

2)     Or are they jealous of mankind because of that which Allah of His bounty hath bestowed upon them? For We bestowed upon the house of Abraham of (of old) the Scripture and wisdom, and we bestowed on them a mighty kingdom.   (4:54)

3)     And when he (Joseph) reached his prime We gave him wisdom and knowledge. Thus, We reward the good.   (12:22).

4)     And unto Lot We gave judgement and knowledge, and We delivered him from the community that did abominations, Lo! They were folk of evil, lewd.   (21:74)

5)     And We verily gave knowledge unto David and Solomon, and they said: Praise be to Allah, Who hath preferred us above many of His believing slaves!   (27:15)

6)     He it is Who hath sent among the unlettered ones a messenger of their own, to recite unto them His revelations and to make them grow, and to teach them the Scripture and wisdom, though heretofore they were indeed in error manifest.   (62:2)

6.      Wisdom and knowledge is a great treasure, an everlasting wealth and an enormous blessing. In the following verses, the great book of Allah, the Qur’an, mentions virtues, good characteristics, points of distinction and merits of the men of learning.

1)     He giveth wisdom unto whom He will, and he unto whom wisdom is given, he truly hath received abundant good. But none remember except men of understanding.   (2:269)

2)     Allah (Himself) is witness that there is no God save Him. And the Angels and the men of learning (too are witness). Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise.   (3:18)


The traditions of the Prophet of Islam on the subject of education are reproduced as follows:-

1.      Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Search for knowledge is compulsory upon every Muslim male and Muslim female.   (Ibn Majah)

2.      Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso goes out in search of knowledge, he is in the path of Allah till he returns.   (Tirmizi)

3.      Sakhbarah al Azdi reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoever searches after knowledge, it will be expiation for his past sins.   (Tirmizi)

4.      Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Search knowledge though it be in China.   (Baihaqi)

5.      Kasir-b-Qais reported: Certainly the superiority of a learned man over the pious worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon at full moon-lit night over the rest of the stars; and verily the learned are the heritage of the prophets, and the prophets left for heritage no silver or gold coins, but they left learning. So whoso acquires it, acquires a sufficient fortune.   (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Daud)

6.      Abu Omamah al Bahili reported: Two persons were mentioned to the Messenger of Allah, one of the two is a pious worshipper and the other a learned man. Then the Messenger of Allah said: “The superiority of the learned man over the pious worshipper is like my superiority over the meanest of you. Then the Holy Prophet said: Verily Allah, His angels and the dwellers of the heavens and the earth and even an ant in its hole and even a fish certainly send blessings upon a preacher of good to the people.”   (Tirmizi)

7.      Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: To the devil, a learned theologian is stronger than a thousand pious worshippers.   (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)

8.      Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When a man dies, his works also stop except three: Acts of charity which are continued; knowledge by which all take benefit, and a righteous issue who prays for him.   (Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

9.      No present or a gift given by the parents to a child is superior to good education.   (Tirmizi)

10.   “All the things of the earth and the heavens pray for the deliverance of the learned.”   (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

11.   “Nearer to prophethood are the learned and the warriors: the learned, because they conveyed the message which the prophets brought and the warriors because they fought with their swords for the sake of religious law of the prophets.”   (Abu Naeem)

12.   “Intercession of three persons will be accepted on the Day of Resurrection – The Prophets, the learned ones and the martyr.”   (Ibn Majah)

13.   “It is better to learn any chapter of knowledge than to pray 100 Rakats of prayer.”   (Ibn Abdulbar, Ibn Majah)

14.   “Knowledge is treasure, its keys are questions. Continue to ask about knowledge because by asking one question four persons are rewarded – petitioner, learned, listener and who loves them.”   (Abu Naeem)

15.   “Attendance in the assembly of a learned is better than praying thousand Rakats, visiting of thousand patients, and participating in thousand funeral processions. The Companions of the Holy prophet asked the prophet if it was better than recitation of Holy Qur’an. He replied. Was the Holy Quran beneficial without knowledge.”   (Ibnul Jazi)

16.   “It is narrated by Abdullah bin Umar that one day the Prophet (Peace be upon him) came out and saw two gatherings. In one gathering people were invoking blessings and were attentive towards it. In the other gathering people were teaching. The Prophet said that these people were praying. If He willed He might give and if He did not will He might not give. And these people were teaching and God sent him (the prophet) also as a teacher. Then, he turned towards them and sat with them.”   (Ibn Majah)


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