Life itself is the best teacher we can ever get. So thinking about life, its purpose, its transience,
its terrible unpredictability, its origin, its unexpected end and a lot other penetrating questions
about its mystery should be teaching all discerning minds certain philosophic truths about
existence. That’s why the Holy Qur’an asks all human beings, irrespective of differences in faith,
culture and language, to critically ponder over life and its complex nature, the very life of the
universe and millions of gigantic and tiny living beings in the world to know about the Almighty
God. Thus, life is said to be a story too simple to retell, too complex to read through, too
mysterious to think about and too intriguing to interpret. As a blessed creature and the wisest of
all creatures on earth, I believe, the first and foremost duty of every human being is to start to
learn about life if he/she wants to know, feel and experience Allah, the Almighty God.

Learning and education, I do believe, cannot be synonymous as they denote different semantic
levels. Education, as the modern world perceives it, is the process of teaching and training to
improve understanding and develop skills. Learning, on the other, implies the knowledge that
you get from your reading and studying or a unique quality that you acquire from your
experience of doing something. This is why there are ironic saying like he/she is educated but
not learned and my education has not taught me learning. In short, education caters more to
bodily needs and comfort whereas learning caters to the needs of the soul.

The Islamic concept of knowledge implies not merely education but learning. It doesn’t mean
training or upskilling people for sheer material gains and physical comfort rather enlightening
the soul with knowledge that helps a person to learn, think, realize and grow grateful to the
Creator. True learning has to empower our soul to see things which naked eyes fail to see and
mere rationality fails to experience. The ultimate aim of learning, in Islamic perspective, is to
uncover the mysteries surrounding each and every creature and creation of Allah (SWT) and
thereby knowing Him in the right manner and due magnitude. The first three revealed verses of
the Qura’an (96:1,2&3) underline the need of seeking knowledge through reading and directing
reading to know the Creator, and how knowing the Creator has to make humans thankful. Since
soul is live till death, it has to be enlightened till the last breath with lifelong learning.

The Qura’an and the Sunnah have underlined the need to seek knowledge and keep learning
throughout life. Knowledge from the Qura’anic perspective knows no boundaries and defeats
any limitations. This has been made clear by Allah (SWT) in al-Kahfi, verse 109: “Say (Dear
Muhammad): Though the sea became ink for the Words of my Lord, verily the sea would be used
up before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like thereof to
The Prophet’s saying “to seek knowledge is individual responsibility on all Muslims”
implies that a Muslim’s life remains incomplete and the duty unfulfilled when he/she stops
seeking knowledge formally or otherwise. To conclude, the fundamental objective of learning is
to know Allah(SWT) by knowing life and the creations around us and the limited span of human
life is too short a time to do it. So we have to keep striving to learn as long as we live and feed
our soul with learning till we breathe our last.

Dr. Abdul Latheef V

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