Reading in Islam

Every single Muslim on Earth knows that the first revelation was ‘Iqraa’ or “Read”, and almost all of them know that reading the Quran, understanding it and abiding by its teachings takes first priority. Yet, only a very small minority realize that the order extends far beyond the Quran to cover every aspect of life. You are asked to read the Quran so that you understand your religion, which in turn asks you to “keep” reading in order to extend your knowledge and be successful in life; it’s that simple, really!

The prophet SAW said “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim” [Ibn Majah], and it goes without saying that Islamic or Shri’a knowledge takes preference here, but did anyone ask themselves why the prophet SAW didn’t say so in the above Hadith? Well, he SAW could have simply restricted knowledge to religion, but he SAW never did! Actually, Zayd ibn Thabet explained that the prophet SAW encouraged him to learn a foreign language when he said “The Messenger of Allah SAW asked me: Do you know Syriac? I have received a letter in this language. I said: No. He said: Then learn it. So I learnt it” [Tirmidhi].

Consequently, Muslims are highly encouraged to read and learn about every topic they deem profitable for humanity, or otherwise, they risk depending for it on non-Muslims as is the case unfortunately in most Muslim countries nowadays; be it medicine, engineering, physics, chemistry, etc. We needn’t depend on other nations for everything, or else, we become useless to humanity, and once useless to humanity, our lives become worthless and our killing or even extermination triggers almost no regrets; because we are useless after all.

If you really would like to do yourself – and your family and friends – a great favor, learn how to love reading. Learn to enjoy the very moment of learning something new, something intellectual or something beneficial to humanity. But also learn how to develop a critical mind, which doesn’t accept everything at face value and take every piece of knowledge for granted except Allah’s words; rather, question, test and debate before embracing. And last but not least, apply and practice what you learn, or else, you risk turning your reading into a waste of time.

That is the Islam I know! How about you? Are you a good reader? Do you actually enjoy reading or do you just do it so you’d be called a reader? Do you have any suggestions to encourage others to read? If so, kindly share your experience in a comment below.