Why scholars tend to translate or interpret the word علم 'ilm Knowledge in (interpretation) tafsir of the Qur'an or sharh (explanation) of ahadith/Hadith as knowledge of fiqh, sunna etc.

Why knowledge seems only related with the religion, as if sciences like Maths, Physics, Medicine don't seem to come to mind.

I know Muslims should have at least basic knowledge of their religion (worshiping like prayer/fasting...), but is this the only reason?

  • Are you saying that there is secular-knowledge and religious-knowledge but why the secular one is deprived of the status of being knowledge? – user549 Nov 23 '15 at 9:50
  • @Shoaib not exactly, but it feels like that! – Medi1Saif Nov 23 '15 at 9:51
  • 1
    The depth and the breadth of "ilm" in Islam and the Islamic world is so extensive to warrant a comprehensive scholarly discussion for a real understanding. But thankfully, recently, there have been muslim scholars who have attempted to draw a rather comprehensive picture of the essence and practice of "ilm" in Islam. So if you are interested in extensive study, may I recommend you two works by Seyyed Hussein Nasr, amazon.com/Science-Civilization-Islam-Seyyed-Hossein/dp/… and amazon.com/Islamic-Science-An-Illustrated-Study/dp/1567443125 – infatuated Nov 26 '15 at 5:58

And when adversity touches man, he calls upon Us; then when We bestow on him a favor from Us, he says, "I have only been given it because of [my] knowledge." Rather, it is a trial, but most of them do not know. Qur'an 39:49.

I believe just by possessing religious knowledge one cannot tackle a worldly problem of sustenance. So, in the above verse, we could infer that 'knowledge' being referred to is knowledge in general, i.e. life sustaining knowledge. Other examples include Qur'an 96:1-4.

And from other verses e.g. 39:9 we can infer that knowledge is also about knowing the right God, knowledge of hereafter and knowledge about how to live a life as commanded.

Again, from 39:49 (alone) we can show that, God gives knowledge to whom he wishes as he wishes. God may give a person any one or both types of knowledge as he wishes.

  • So you say Knowledge reefer's to the knowledge of who makes things work or why they work, that's seems to me a good approach! I totally agree with you about the Qur'an or Hadith i wouldn't say they are scientific and wouldn't like to interpret too much science into them. Scientific theories may last or be disproved, so what if we by a false interpretation refute a Verse in the Qur'an? Therefore i take the matter of the so called i'jaz with care! – Medi1Saif Nov 19 '15 at 9:23
  • Yes, I'm not proving any scientific matters in my answer, and also am suggesting people not do so, but to consider this as a book of religious guidance and not a science manual and debate over it. – servant-of-Wiser Nov 19 '15 at 9:32
  • Honestly i was suspecting that this interpretation (Knowledge -> Religion) comes from the background of those scholars – Medi1Saif Nov 19 '15 at 9:34
  • 1
    Edited my answer completely. @MediSaif – servant-of-Wiser Nov 24 '15 at 10:44
  • 1
    Good example, but ironically it can also be interpreted by some to look down upon reasoned knowledge, in contradistinction to revealed knowledge. – user549 Nov 24 '15 at 11:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.