Islam says that "both men and women should get knowledge" and "seek knowledge even as far as China".

I want to know that which type of knowledge is this whether this is the knowledge of Quran and Islam or the knowledge which makes us doctor, engineer or a practical personality?


4 Answers 4


This is as per (my reading of) the opinion of Imam Ghazali in his book, The revivial of the religious sciences: coupled with my opinion.

We divide knowledge in two parts:

  1. Knowledge which pertains to our practical life:

In this there are certain types of knowledge which is compulsory to acquire. Acquiring such knowledge is an individual duty (فرض العين). Mostly this deals with beliefs, religious duties etc. These become compulsory to learn when we become eligibile to perform them. For example, you have the capacity to zakaat, and one year has passed with you in the capacity then you have to get all knowledge about zakat. Similarly for salat, fasting etc. It is not necessary to acquire knowledge about supernumerary prayers etc; although acquiring that knowledge is itself supernumerary.

There are other types of knowledge acquiring of which are duties imposed on the whole community (فرض الكفاية). In this context, I will now come to the point you posed about religious and worldly knowledge.

Firstly, this distinction between worldly knowledge and religious knowledge has to be understood keeping in mind our own unintentional inherent biases stemming from Western notions of difference between church-state. All knowledge is knowledge leading to Allah(swt) if learnt properly. In the Quran, we are commanded to look about the world and study it (for example see Quran 6:99) for this purpose. However, as a general rule, acquiring certain types of knowledge is praiseworthy, certain types is blameworthy and certain types is permissible. This distinction is made keeping the true purpose of acquiring knowledge in mind, which is of course to know more about Allah(swt).

The praiseworthy knowledge which is fard al-kifāya (or a duty incumbent upon the community) include amongst others Mathematics, Medicine, Sciences which should be learnt for agriculture, administration, industry, horticulture, weaving etc. Note that becoming expert in these subjects is not fard al-kifāya but enough should be known so that the nation can prosper. Also generally all knowledge connected with deen, i.e. commentary of the Quran, hadees, knowledge of revocation of verses, knowledge of books on authoritative transmission, knowledge of biographies of illustrious companions and narrators of traditions are in this category.

The blameworthy knowledge includes sorcery, talismanic science, juggling, gambling etc. The permissible knowledge includes poetry, history, geography, biology etc.

  1. Knowledge which pertains to our spiritual life. Your question doesn't deal with that.

Hope that answers your question.

Allah knows best.


Knowledge that we gain or learn should be viewed, interpreted and applied through the lens of knowledge that is sent to us from Allah in the Quran and to our prophet pbuh.

Allah measures us on our deeds, in other words, what we 'do' with our knowledge, our conduct. There is one angel who is constantly recording our 'hayir' (good deeds), and another angel that is constantly recording our 'sher' (bad deeds). Our goal is to have a much greater count of hayir than sher so we can succeed and enter Jennah.

Knowledge and technology (applied technical knowledge) by itself is neutral; it is what we 'do' with that knowledge that matters to Allah.

While passing knowledge exams in schools and universities is important for getting good grades and successfully applying knowledge in this worldly life, we must not let that distract us from passing the deen exam of our conduct in this life. Do not fail the main exam.



What you are about to read does not necessarily present the absolute truth, but is based on my humble knowledge as a born Muslim, through knowledge about Islam I acquired by going to Jumaa prayers, reading, watching sheikhs on tv programs etc... Unless I'm very confident of my answer, I wouldn't dare post it, for I fear misguiding people, but given I'm a human being still makes me prone to errors and mistakes. Allah Knows best.

Knowledge is split into 2 categories:

  • Deen Knowledge: Hadis, Quran, Sunnah, sharia, etc...
  • World Knowledge: Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Marketing, etc...

The main purpose of life, in Islam, is to praise Allah, to pray and obey Allah, to make Ibadah for Allah (subhanahu w taala). Deen knowledge greatly contributes to achieving this ultimate purpose.

On the other hand, Allah and his prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned several forms of Ibadah, including but not limited to:

  • Working: Working to provide to your family, or even to yourself
  • Building the earth: scientific advancements made people live in concrete buildings and towers instead of mud huts, for example.
  • Thinking about the creations of Allah: When you look at a brain, you praise the lord for how a small entity contains such intelligence, but when you study it (biologically), and realize how super complex it is, how humans would need a city as big as New York to be filled with super computers to simulate a human brain... that knowledge itself is Ibadah.

All of these are forms of ibadah requiring worldly knowledge, and we are rewarded for earning this knowledge. Many people nowadays are reverting to Islam thanks to the scientific accuracy of the holy Quran. Without this worldly knowledge, we would've failed to understand some verses of the Quran, for example.

The story of Dr. Maurice Bucaille is a famous example of how worldly knowledge leads to Islam, and enhances faith. Last but not least, check out this verse of the holy Quran: Faatir 28 (Malik's translation)
...In fact, only those among His servants who possess knowledge fear Allah;


Bismillah hir rahman nir raheem As sallamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa baraktuhu Knowledge of that which will save you from hellfire and qualify you for paradise and makes you a muslim and will be asked about in the grave is the knowledge which is obligatory upon us to learn. Which is tawheed which is meaning of our shahadah. The only knowledge weve been ordered to learn is our shahadah. Allah says in surah muhammad vs11 "know that none has right to be worshipped except allah"

And allah knows best

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