The Description of
Knowledge in the Quran and by the Prophet (saas)
There are plenty of
references to knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge
in the Quran. The general feeling they leave the
reader with is that the possessor of knowledge or
wisdom has been given a very powerful gift, and that
the pursuit of knowledge is something which should
be done actively by everyone. Here are a few verses
on the subject:
Read! In the name of your Lord who created -
Created the human from something which clings.
Read! And your Lord is Most Bountiful - He who
taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught the human
that which he knew not.
These five verses make
up the first passage revealed from the Quran to
mankind through the Prophet Muhammad (saas). It is
interesting that of all the things which Allah chose
to begin His revelation with is related to the
actions of reading and writing, especially the
latter. The ability to write and store information
is described by Professor Carl Sagan in his book
COSMOS: "Writing is perhaps the greatest of human
inventions, binding together people, citizens of
distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books
break the shackles of time, proof that humans can
work magic." 
[Allah] grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and he
to whom wisdom is granted indeed receives a
benefit overflowing. But none will grasp the
Message except men of understanding.
High above all is Allah, the King, the Truth. Do
not be in haste with the Quran before its
revelation to you is completed, but say, "O my
Sustainer! Increase my knowledge."
[3:190-191] Verily in the creation of the
heavens and the earth, and the alternation of
night and day - there are indeed signs for men
of understanding; Men who remember Allah,
standing, sitting, and lying down on their
sides, and contemplate the creation of the
heavens and the earth (with the thought) "Our
Lord! Not for nothing have You created (all)
this. Glory to You! Give us salvation from the
suffering of the Fire."
These verses are a
clear demonstration that 'science' and 'religion'
were NOT meant to be fundamentally incompatible with
each other by Allah. In fact, verses [3:190-191]
strongly imply that "contemplating" the world around
us is an integral part of faith.
Say: Travel through the earth and see how Allah
originated creation; so will Allah produce the
second creation (of the Afterlife): for Allah
has power over all things.
There are also
references in the Quran describing the value (in the
sight of Allah) of a knowledgeable person as opposed
to an ignorant person. They are not equal:
...Say: Are those equal, those who know and
those who do not know? It is those who are
endued with understanding that remember (Allah's
...Allah will raise up to (suitable) ranks (and
degrees) those of you who believe and who have
been granted knowledge.