Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 9


Knowledge is the intellect's grasp of the immaterial forms, the pure essences or
universals that constitute the natures of things, and human happiness is achieved only
through the intellect's grasp of such universals. The Qur’an is definite and clear on the
question of knowledge. It claims with absoluteness that knowledge of the manifest as well as
of the hidden belongs to God that nothing occurs in the world which is not known to Him
(Maaruf,n.d).If a man possesses ample knowledge throughout his life, he can conquer the
world. This is because knowledge is power.

When it comes to knowledge, there are many aspects to consider especially if we take a
look in Islamic scope. And of course, knowledge itself is a vast area so most Islamic
philosophers believe in the power of reason in philosophising and discovering metaphysical
truths concerning the "essence" and "existence" of things. Muslim philosophers agree that
knowledge is possible. They stress that for knowledge of the immaterial forms, the human
intellect generally relies on the senses. Some philosophers, such as Ibn Rushd and
occasionally Ibn Sina, assert that it is the material forms themselves, which the senses
provide, that are grasped by the intellect after being stripped of their materiality with the help
of the divine world (Inati,1998).

No matter what views we have, knowledge is something crucial that we all need to digest so
that we can achieve happiness in the world and hereafter. So, in order to do that, we need to
comprehend the concept of knowledge first than move on to other branch of information.


“ ‫ ” العلم‬as an Arabic word means to know, to understand, to perceive , to be familiar and

acquainted with intensive knowledge. From the word ilm also, allama, ta’lim and ulama’ are
derived. Knowledge has significant relation with education or tarbiyyah.

Islam begins and ends with knowledge. In Islam, knowledge is the only method to gain truth
or to be understood. Since Allah is the ultimate and absolute truth, man must acquire
knowledge in order to know Allah and worship Him correctly and properly.

In Surah Al-Alaq 1-5, Islam is the religion of knowledge, not a religion of conjectures,
superstitions and fictions. Knowledge could only be acquired through certain hardships,
difficulties, trials and adventures because knowledge is worthy.

Reflection : Professor Franz Rosenthal, a renowned professor at Yale shared his opinions
regarding the definition of knowledge in Islam. In the Islamic theory of knowledge, the term
'ilm, which, as Rosenthal has justifiably pointed out, has a much wider connotation than its
synonyms in English and other Western languages. 'Knowledge' falls short of expressing all
the aspects of 'ilm. Knowledge in the Western world means information about something,
divine or corporeal, while 'ilm is an all-embracing term covering theory, action and education.
Rosenthal, highlighting the importance of this term in Muslim civilization and Islam, says that
it gives them a distinctive shape.

For me, Islam emphasizes the importance of knowledge in the utmost level. This can be
proved through Surah Al Alaq, the first revelation that was given to Prophet Muhammad
S.A.W. So, as Muslims, we need to vigorously seek knowledge to fulfil our aim as the
servant of Allah.

Plato defined knowledge is obtained through rational thinking or contemplation while belief is
acquired through senses. Aristotle interpreted knowledge as the real world refers to only
what is observable. Things that we can observe are the object of knowledge. Non
observable things like ethics and religion are not the realm of knowledge but in that of belief.
Belief can be right and wrong.

In Islam, knowledge comes from Allah’s revelation through His Prophet. It is connected to
reasoning, perception and empiricism. In Islam, knowledge is truth. Truth relates to the
nature of Allah (Fitratallah), His creation and all phenomena, acquired through revelation,
reasoning and experiences of the senses. The objects of knowledge in Islam are God, His
visible and invisible creation and the tangible and intangible phenomena. The concept of
knowledge in Islam is wider than the Western in terms of the sources, purpose and objects
of knowledge.

Reflection: It is clear that Islam has more comprehensive concept compared to others. For
example, in Christianity, they defined knowledge as a gift. They do not have intensive
elaboration like Islam. If we refer to Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy by Edward
Craig under the topic of Islamic Philosophy, it states that Muslims consider knowledge to be
the grasping of the immaterial forms, natures, essences or realities of things. Once in the
mind, the pure forms act as the pillars of knowledge. So we can prove that Islam is complete
in terms of everything.

Rationalists assume that the objects of knowledge are ideas that exist in human mind. Its
sources are rationality, reasoning and contemplation. While realists think that objects of
knowledge are the observable world-its sources is experiences through the senses or
empiricism. In Islam, objects of knowledge are rationality, reality and revelation.

Hierarchy of sources of knowledge in Islam





 Classification of Knowledge

-The Degrees of Knowledge in Quran

1. ‘Ilm al-yaqin :
-Means knowledge by inference resulting from man’s power of evaluation and
judgement. It is logical, mathematical and empirical knowledge. Intellect is the
principle of reason. Reason in relation to the intellect makes the ability to conduct a
rational discourse. It depends on the truth of its assumptions as in deduction or on
probabilities as in deduction. Allah says :
ِ ‫ ك اََّل لَ ْو ت َ ْعلَ ُمونَ ع ِْل َم ْاليَق‬5(
“ Nay, were ye know with certainty of mind, (ye would beware)” (102 : 5)
2. ‘Ain al-yaqin :
-Means knowledge by one’s perception and observation. It refers to the five senses
of human being. Sensory knowledge is the human physical self-consciousness
which is transmitted into his mental self-consciousness as well. Allah says:
ِ ‫عيْنَ ْاليَق‬
7(‫ِين‬ َ ‫)ث ُ ام لَت ََر ْونَ َها‬

“ Again, ye shall see it with certainty of sight !” . (102: 7)

3. Haqq al-yaqin :
-Means knowledge of absolute truth with not possibility or error. It is the divine
revelation. Allah reveals His signs through the observation and contemplation of the
outer world (Afaq) and also through the inner experience of the mind (Anfus) . Allah
ِ ‫)إِ ان َهذَا لَ ُه َو َح ُّق ْاليَق‬
” Verily, this is the very Truth of assured Certainty.” (56: 95)

- (Afaq) – may be gained by the natural phenomena and also historical events , Allah
says :
ِ ‫ف َو ِإناا لَه ُ لَن‬
11( َ‫َاصحُون‬ َ ‫)قَالُوا َياأ َ َبانَا َما َلكَ ََل ت َأ ْ َمناا‬
ُ ‫علَى يُو‬
َ ‫س‬
“They said : O our father! Why dost thou not trust us with Joseph, Seeing we are
indeed his sincere well-wishers”(12:11)

(Afaq) wonders creation of Allah (natural phenomena) , Allah says:

ِ ‫ت ِْلُولِي ْاْل َ ْلبَا‬
190(‫ب‬ ِ ‫ض َوا ْخت ََِّلفِ اللا ْي ِل َوالنا َه‬
ٍ ‫ار ََليَا‬ ِ ‫ت َو ْاْل َ ْر‬
ِ ‫س َم َاوا‬ ِ ‫) ِإ ان فِي خ َْل‬
‫ق ال ا‬
“Behold ! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night
and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.” (3 : 190)

- (Anfus) – the inner experience of mind which gives the higher / degree of certainty
by means of the followings:
i. Instinct
ii. Intuition
iii. Inspiration
iv. Revelation
Instinct (Jabalat) :

A natural ability or tendency is a sacred knowledge. It is different from “Wahy”

because this knowledge comes through spiritual vision or feeling in the heart, dream
and intensive spiritual exercise. This kind of knowledge refers to only certain people
who only are qualified.

Intuition (Wijdad) :

It is the power of understanding or knowing something without reasoning or learning

skill. In fact the people gain this knowledge by natural way after they born. It
happens between Allah and man or his creations. The Quran says :
68( َ‫شون‬ ‫)وأ َ ْو َحى َربُّكَ إِلَى الناحْ ِل أ َ ْن اتاخِ ذِي م ِْن ْال ِجبَا ِل بُيُوتًا َومِ ْن ال ا‬
ُ ‫ش َج ِر َومِ اما يَ ْع ِر‬ َ
“And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills. On trees and in (men’s)
habitations” . (16: 68)

Inspiration (Ilham) :

Inspiration is ideas which spark out or develop in the mind of man after deep thinking
and realization. Allah says:
‫علَ ْي ِه فَأ َ ْلقِي ِه فِي ْاليَ ِم َو ََل تَخَافِي َو ََل تَحْ زَ نِي إِناا َرادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ َو َجا ِعلُوهُ مِ ْن‬ َ ‫َوأ َ ْو َح ْينَا إِلَى أ ُ ِم ُمو‬
ِ ‫سى أ َ ْن أ َ ْر‬
ِ ‫ضعِي ِه فَإِذَا خِ ْف‬
َ ‫ت‬
7( َ‫سلِين‬ ْ
َ ‫)ال ُم ْر‬

“So we sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: suckle (thy child), but when thou
hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve. For We shall
restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our messengers.” (28: 7)

Revelation (Wahy) :
“Wahy” is directly through Namusi Akbar (Jibriel) from Allah to His appointed
prophets. It is the Holy Quran ( a guide book for all mankind). Allah says :
97( َ‫ص ِدقًا ِل َما َبيْنَ يَ َد ْي ِه َو ُهدًى َوبُ ْش َرى ل ِْل ُمؤْ مِ نِين‬ ‫علَى قَ ْل ِبكَ ِبإ ِ ْذ ِن ا‬
َ ‫َّللاِ ُم‬ َ َ‫)قُ ْل َم ْن َكان‬
َ ُ ‫عد ًُّوا ل ِِجب ِْري َل فَإِناه ُ ن اَزلَه‬
“ Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel for he brings down the (revelation) to thy
heart by Allah’s will, a confirmation of what went before and guidance and glad
tidings for those who believe”. (2 :97)
Forms of revelation
 Direct verbal communication by which Allah speaks to man behind veil (Musa A.S).
 Inspiration
 Sending a Malaikat (42:51)
 Dreams (only for prophets)

Knowledge obtained through revelation is the most reliable form of knowledge, impossible to
be false and it is also an absolute knowledge (haqq al-yakin). The two important attributes
are finality and eternal originality.


Rationalism is another source of acquiring truth or knowledge (ilm-al-yakin) or in other

words, knowledge by reasoning or inference. But man cannot rely wholly to the rational
thinking, because his intellect has limitations. Knowledge acquired through rationalism, logic
and contemplation need to be verified by revealed knowledge. The last source of knowledge
is experience or empiricism. The senses of hearing, feeling, smelling, seeing and tasting are
employed to discover phenomenon. It also has limitation, sometimes can be unreliable and
needs confirmation by revealed knowledge.

Revelation is absolutely reliable and superior to the rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism
and empiricism must not have any contradiction to revelation and it can provide further or
detail explanation to revealed knowledge but it needs to be confirmed by revelation.

Reflection: Allah has granted us with the absolute power among all creatures, which is the
power of our mind. We can use it until the last extent but of course our mind is limited. We
cannot explore everything because we are not gifted with the unlimited supply of information.
Only Allah has it, so we need revelation as a method to our knowledge. So, rationalism is
important but it needs to be balanced with revelation.

Only for the sake of Allah

To serve humanity
To educate man to be conscious of his duties towards Allah and his fellow creatures
and rights upon them

Islam condemns one who acquires knowledge for the purpose of earning worldly gains,
arrogance, controversy or showing off. This differs from the aim of education from Western
Secular Education which focuses on prosperity and felicity in this world only.


Islam emphasizes knowledge greatly:

 Ilm-repeated 800 times in Holy Quran

 The verses or sciences-appear to be 1000 verses in the Holy Quran and it describes
on the creation of man, water and humanity
 Quran is the book of signs. 1/6 of its content discuss on science
 Seeking for knowledge is compulsory to every Muslim. It is an obligation to them.

There are some sayings on the importance of knowledge. Plato said that knowledge is a
kind of conversion of soul from the darkness to the light. Prophet SAW said that seek for
knowledge from the cradle to the graveyard, the sky and the earth live begging for the
forgiveness of the knowledgeable people and that you go and travel to seek for knowledge is
much greater than this world and whatever in the world.

There are stories of people with knowledge in the Quran. In Surah Luqman, we can witness
how Luqman taught his son with wisdom. Next Zulkarnain who managed to defeat Ya’juj and
Ma’juj and conquered the East and the West,Yusuf who can elaborate dreams and became
the minister of Alexandria and our own Prophet Muhammad SAW that changed the society
from jahil to civilised society. Last but not least, Sulaiman who can master the language of

Reflection: It cannot be denied that knowledge is vital in surviving this modern world. So, it
is clear that we need to acquire knowledge and practice life-long learning process. We also
can take examples from previous people who had practiced their own knowledge and
expertise in certain fields.

Knowledge is broadly classified in Islam into few categories:

1. Religious knowledge
2. Worldly knowledge

 Religious knowledge means knowledge which has direct links with religious beliefs,
rituals, etiquette, and conducts.
 Worldly knowledge means the aspect of knowledge which acquaints man with this
universe and with the skills, expertise and professionalism in relation to his worldly


Islam rejoices acquiring both knowledge. However, Islam regards religious knowledge more
important because it is knowledge that directly leads man to know his Creator and how to
worship Him correctly. It also provides guidance and purification of the soul. Therefore, it is
obligatory for every Muslim to seek and acquire knowledge of his religion.