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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
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    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
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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
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    Edited my answer completely. @MediSaif – servant-of-Wiser Nov 24 '15 at 10:44
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    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

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