1. "Read in the name of thy Lord Who created; He created man from a clot. Read and thy Lord is most Honourable, Who taught to write with the pen. taught man what he knew not" (96:1-5).
2. "Allâh will exalt those of you who believe and those who are given knowledge to high degrees" (58:11).
3. "And say, O my Lord! increase me in knowledge" (20:114).
4. "And whoever is given knowledge is given indeed abundant wealth" (2:269).
While faith brings about the spiritual and moral development of man, knowledge brings about his intellectual development, and therefore stands next in importance to faith. In Bukhârî's arrangement therefore "knowledge follows faith." The first revelation that came to the Holy Prophet is admittedly the first quotation given above. These verses not only lay stress on both reading and writing but also speak of the Lord of Honour in this connection, showing that man can attain to honour only through knowledge. This is expressly stated in v. 2. The Holy Qur'ân even directs the Holy Prophet to seek more and more knowledge (v. 3). It is in fact full of praise for knowledge: the words ya'lamûn (they ponder), yatafakkarûn (they reflect), yatadhakkarûn (they meditate) and other similar expressions occur on almost every page of the Holy Qur'ân. V. 4 speaks of knowledge as great wealth. Such is also the import of the very first hadîth quoted in this chapter, which speaks of both wealth and knowledge as things which man desires naturally to seek and in which all men should try to emulate each other (h. 1). The Holy Prophet made it incumbent on those who came to him to seek knowledge to impart the same to others (hh. 2. 3), and desired even those who were considered to be in the lowest strata of society to be uplifted to the highest level through education (h. 4). Islâm, in fact, lays the basis of mass education, education of men as well as women, of children as well as adults. The Holy Prophet himself made arrangements for the education of women (h. 5). Writing was encouraged (hh. 5-9), and acquisition of knowledge was made the standard of excellence (h. 10). It is spoken of in the highest terms of praise (hh, 11-14), and this explains the unsatiable thirst for knowledge of the Muslims of earlier days. H. 15 makes it incumbent upon every Muslim, man or woman, old or young. that he should acquire knowledge, and thus introduces the principle of compulsory education. A warning is given that when a nation gives up the acquisition of knowledge, its downfall is sure (h. 16).
1 'Abd Allâh ibn Mas'ûd said,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said:
"There shall be no envy but (emulate) two: the person whom Allâh has given wealth and the power to spend it in the service of Truth, and the person whom Allâh has granted knowledge of things and he judges by it and teaches it (to others)."
[1. The words in Arabic are lâ hasada illâ fi-thnataini, which may be rendered as meaning "there shall be no hasad but in two cases." But as hasad or the desire that another person shall be deprived of the advantages which he has, is totally prohibited by the moral code of Islâm; the word illâ is here used as an istithnâ' munqatî'. Hasad (envy) and ghibtah (emulation) have one thing in common, viz., a desire regarding advantages or excellence which another man possesses; but in hasad the desire is that he shall be deprived of them, while in ghibtah it is that the desirer may be favoured with similar advantages. By using the word ghibtah in the heading of this chapter, Bukhârî shows that while hasad is prohibited here, ghibtah is recommended in two cases.
2. The word in the original is hikmah which may be rendered wisdom or knowledge. According to R. it means "the knowledge of things and the doing of good."
3. The desire to have knowledge is here made akin to the desire to possess wealth which is a natural desire in every human heart, and thus it is made clear that the acquisition of knowledge is as important as that of wealth, and every human being should acquire both. The desire to possess either, however, is made subject to a further condition: the possessor of wealth spends it in the cause of Truth, and the possessor of knowledge teaches it to others, so that the benefit of humanity is the real end in view. In the Holy Qur'ân, knowledge is spoken of as the greatest wealth: "And whoever is given knowledge (hikmah), he indeed is given abundant wealth" (2:269).]
2 Mâlik ibn al-Huwairith said, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said to us:
"Go back to your people and teach them."
3 Ibn 'Abbâs reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him:
"Let him who is present impart knowledge to him who is absent."
4 Abû Mûsâ said, The Messenger of Allâh, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said:
"There are three persons for whom there is a double reward: . . . the person who has a slave-girl, and he brings her up and trains her in the best manner and he educates her
[4. It was the case of a deputation of the Rabî'ah tribe that came to the Holy Prophet from Bahrain on (the Persian Gulf). They were told to remember all that they had learned in their residence at Madînah and to teach it to their people. The duty to teach others is laid on all Muslims in h. 3.]
and gives her the best education, then sets her free and marries her, he has a double reward."
5 Abû Sa'îd Khudrî said,
The women said to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, The men have got an advantage over us in approaching thee therefore appoint for us a day from thyself; so he promised them a day in which he met them and he exhorted them and gave them commandments.
6 Abû Hurairah reported that The Khuzâ'ah murdered
[5. Here we are told that, so far as education was concerned, even slave-girls were not to be neglected. They had to be trained well and educated in the best manner. This was what Islâm aimed at, and this was to be the Muslims' highest ideal; not only were free citizens to be trained and educated but even slaves, who were considered by the Arabs to have a very low status--not so low, however, as the unfortunate untouchables in India--were to he brought up to the level of the free citizen by proper education and training, and not only boys but girl, as well. The questions of mass education, female education and emancipation of slaves were thus forestalled by the Holy Prophet thirteen hundred years before modern civilization.
6. Bukhârî mentions this hadîth under the heading, "Should a separate day be fixed for the education of woman?" It shows that from the Islamic point of view it is desirable that there should be separate arrangements for the education of men and women.]
a man of the Banû Laith in the year of the conquest of Makkah, as a retaliation for the murder of one of them whom they had murdered. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, was informed of this, so he mounted his riding camel and delivered an address . . . Arid there came a man from among the people of Yaman and said, Write it down for me, O Messenger of Allâh! So he said: "Write down for such and such a one."
7 Abû Hurairah said, There was no one from among the companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, who reported more hadîth from him than myself, but
[7. Although the Holy Prophet himself did not know reading or writing, be encouraged both. There is a misunderstanding as to the prohibition of writing down hadîth. As this hadîth shows, the Holy Prophet himself ordered the writing down of hadîth when it was needed. Generally, however, writing of hadîth was not considered desirable as it was feared that persons who were not cautions enough might confuse the verses of the Holy Qur'ân with hadîth. As the next hadîth, however, shows there were some people who regularly resorted to writing hadîth.]
'Abd Allâh ibn 'Amr used to write while I did not write.
8 Zaid ibn Thâbit reported that,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, commanded him to learn the writing of the Jews (in Syriac) so that I wrote for the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him , his letters and read out to him their letters when they wrote to him.
9 Abû Hurairah reported,
A man from among the Ansâr said . . ., O Messenger of Allâh! I hear from thee a hadîth which pleases me very much but I cannot retain it in memory. The Messenger of Allâh, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said
[8. The words "in Syriac" are not in Bukhârî but they are added here on the authority of AD. and Tr. This hadîth shows that the Holy Prophet ordered the learning of other languages as well.]
"Seek the help of thy right hand."
And he made a sign with his hand for writing.
10 Abû Hurairah said, The Messenger of Allâh, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said:
People are mines, like mines of gold and silver; the more excellent of them in the days of Ignorance are the more excellent of them in Islâm when they attain knowledge."
11 Abû Hurairah said, The Messenger of Allâh, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said:
"The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it he has a better
[9. He was told to learn the art of writing and then write down hadîth.
10. The superiority of race over race and family over family is recognised--people are mines like mines of gold and silver--among Muslims as well as non-Muslims, but it is added that this superiority is maintained through attainment of knowledge. If persons belonging to a superior race discard knowledge, they lose their superiority. Racial or family superiority is thus subject to the acquisition of knowledge.]
right to it."
12 Anas said,
The Messenger of Allâh, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said:
"He who goes forth in search of knowledge is in the way of Allâh till he returns."
13 The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said:
Whomsoever Allâh intends to do good, He gives right understanding of religion." And
"Knowledge is maintained only through teaching."
14 "The learned ones are the heirs of the
[11. This Hadîth lays down upon every Muslim the obligation of acquiring knowledge. Hikmah means wisdom or knowledge, and dzâllah means a lost animal or an object of persevering quest (LL.), so that the believer should set out in search of knowledge as perseveringly as the owner of a lost animal would search for it.
12. These two sayings of the Holy Prophet are related by Bukhârî in the heading of the tenth chapter of his "Book of Knowledge." The latter part shows that stress was laid not only on the acquisition of knowledge but also on conveying it to others or on teaching it.]
prophets--they leave knowledge as their inheritance; he who inherits it inherits a great fortune."
15 Anas said,
The Messenger of Allâh, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said:
"The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim."
16 Anas said, The Messenger of Allâh, peace and blessings of Allâh be on him, said "Of the signs of the Hour is that knowledge shall be taken away and ignorance shall reign supreme."
[13. This is also a saying of the Holy Prophet and forms part of the heading of B. 3:10. It is related as a separate hadîth in Tr. Knowledge is here described as the inheritance of the prophets and is called a great fortune.
14. The words every Muslim include both men and women, while another version adds and every Muslim woman. Its authorities are said to be weak. It should, however, be noted that the more authentic hadîth quoted above also make obligatory upon all Muslims, men as well as women, to acquire knowledge.
15. "The Hour" in the language of Islâm indicates as regards an individual, his death; as regards a nation, the hour of its doom; and as regards the whole of humanity, the destruction of all. Evidently, what is meant here is the doom of a particular nation, just as knowledge brings life to a nation, ignorance seals its doom. Thus have Muslims fallen on evil days; instead of that thirst for knowledge which characterized their ancestors, ignorance is now rampant.]