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Read in the Name of your Lord, Most Generous

By Sheikh Salman al-Oadah at IslamToday.net

Allah Almighty says: Read! And your Lord is Most Generous, who taught by way of the pen. He taught humanity what they did not know.
[Srah al-Alaq 96:3-5]

Allah refers to Himself in this verse as Most Generous (Akram). This is the superlative form of the word generous (Karm), so here Allah describes Himself as being more generous than any other. Though Allah refers to himself as generous many times in the Quran, this is the only instance where he uses the superlative term Most Generous.

Therefore, we should carefully consider what Allah chooses to give as an example of His generosity in this particular context. What Allah speaks about here is how He taught humanity by way of the pen. In other words, He is Most Generous to us because he gave us the gift of being able to learn and acquire knowledge. Moreover, He gave us the gift of reading and writing, whereby they could store and pass on acquired knowledge, preserve their history, and develop the sciences, the arts, and every aspect of civilization. Indeed, Allah has taught humanity what they did not know though He creates each human being in a state of ignorance: And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.
[Srah al-Nahl 16:78]

Though we are born in ignorance, Allah has provided us with the ability to learn. We should consider the great volume of knowledge that humanity has been able to accumulate throughout the course of history, in every science, discipline, and technology, every craft, art, language, and industry. Only Allah can fathom the full spectrum and scale of our collective human knowledge. Consider all the books that have been written by hand, how many are sent to the printing presses every day, and how much is now published daily on the Internet. Any one of us can only hope to acquire the smallest fraction of that great blessing of Allah which is our collective human knowledge. We should also not forget the common sense, conventional wisdom, and
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practical life-knowledge that we barely take notice of but which is indispensible for us to conduct our daily lives. Consider how much a person from the Stone Age would have to learn simply to navigate our everyday modern urban environment, and we can get an idea of how vast and complex this practical knowhow really is. This is just one aspect of how Allah is the Most Generous (Akram).