What did Prophet Muhammad (PUBH) mean by “Seek knowledge even as far as China"? What type of knowledge is this? Though this line doesn't sound so prophetic... Does anybody have further knowledge on it?

  • 1
    Oops, @Nadia Ali, interesting and in truth profitable tradition. In addition to its English translation, as its Arabic sentence: (almost): اطلبوا العلم ولو بالصین) / Your profitable question would be better if you add its origin Arabic hadith as well. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:27

7 Answers 7


The hadith "Seek Knowledge even if you have to go as far as china" is fabricated and does not exist. The actual hadith is:

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.’” (220. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah)

I can confirm this from our local imam as well who said, he had read many hadith books but could not come across this one. Another reference is is here - Islamqa.

There are in fact other hadiths as well which were fabricated. I don't think they were fabricated with ill intentions but merely they enhanced the positivity of a hadith or event.

  • i see.. thank. but people shouldn't fabricate Prophet Muhammad's sayings. these make use confused.. and we don't get the actual essence..
    – Nadia Ali
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 13:52

First of all, I don’t intend to state concerning its authenticity. Since seemingly some groups confirm it and some other groups deny it. But the significant point which I ought to mention is that its concept demonstrate that how much Islam is paying heed to the issue of Science. As I pointed out, its Arabic sentence almost or even accurately is as following hadith:

اطلبوا العلم ولو بالصین

Seek knowledge even as far as China

In the meanwhile, I found another similar tradition which is narrated from Imam Jafar-al-Sadiq --peace be upon him-- as the six Imam of Shia said:

اُطلبوا العلم وَلو بخوض اللُّجَج

Seek knowledge even as far as going to the depths of seas. بحارالانوار 71/ 277


It can demonstrate that obtaining the science or Elem has a very high importance from the view of Islam as what the apostle of Allah peace be upon him and his household said that “Seek knowledge even as far as China”. Of course rationally and actually logically its meaning can be related to the Naafe’ or beneficent sciences which are profitable and useful for the humans not every science. That based on the above-mentioned hadith is can be inferred that it is even worth of while if you have to take trip to far places in order to achieve science.



I am not sure if this is a hadeeth but never the less the meaning is that knowledge is not always with one person and so we should share what we know and learn from each other. We should always try to learn more even if means traveling far away.

  • knowledge is not always with one person and so we should share what we know and learn from eachother.--very good point bro! thanks!
    – Nadia Ali
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 5:38

This is undoubtedly a fabrication. I highly doubt the Arabs at that time knew of China. The furthest East they were aware of was India due to the spice trade. The Arabs only discovered China during the Ummayad conquests.

  • yes, i was doubting so, it doesn't sound prophetic,
    – Nadia Ali
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 13:50
  • On the contrary you'll find the oldest mosque in China is by one of the companions, so don't doubt 'the Arabs knew of China'. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaisheng_Mosque
    – Abu Nooh
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 23:26
  • Are you sure? I mean even the Romans (at the time of the republic) knew about the chinese silk!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 10:19

I'm not sure whether the hadith mentioned is sahih or daif and so on... but I've heard it. I've manage to found 3 points from this hadith. 1) Because of the distance... the important of knowledge 2) China is 1 of the earliest civilization... so there is knowledge in China 3) China has been stated as first who invented paper... source to record knowledge & expand it.😆

والله أعلم


Un-Ploughed Fields Make Hollow Bellies; un-Read Books Make Hollow Minds! (By Confucius)

So, Seek To Read; Read To Learn; Learn To Lead; Lead To Serve; Serve To Succeed! (Found on Poster Showing Holy Qur'an)( I don't know who printed the poster)

This is my understanding of the meaning of Muhammed's Hadis

  • Salam and welcome on Islam SE. Please consider taking our tour, checking our help center and reading How to Answer to learn more about this site and how we expect good answers to be here.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 6:27

“Perhaps, its status is rectified to Hasan on account of its wide circulation, ” reasoning that an outright forgery wouldn’t have reached such wide circulation amongst the Muslims.

Authenticity of ‘Seek knowledge even as far as China’ | Islam in China https://islaminchina.wordpress.com/2007/11/06/authenticity-of-seek-knowledge-even-as-far-as-china/

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .