[3] The right religion is the answer to every problem

In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

A Problem in the Identification of Beneficial Knowledge

Imam As-Sadi [may Allah have mercy upon him] said:

Due to two extreme viewpoints, many individuals have determined incorrectly what is that sound knowledge to be sought after. The first viewpoint is held by people who restrict knowledge to certain religious sciences, such as knowledge pertaining to the rectification of beliefs, morals, and acts of worship; however, their understanding is not founded on what the Qur’an and Sunnah have made known about knowledge encompassing both Shariah and worldly sciences. This viewpoint is held by a group of people who did not fully comprehend the Shariah, but they are now beginning to repudiate their previous viewpoint after seeing the enormous advantages of the sound worldly sciences and after many of them learned about the Shariah’s justifications for them.

The second viewpoint is that of a people who limit knowledge to the contemporary worldly sciences, and this viewpoint arises from their deviation from Islam, its sciences, and its values. This is a huge mistake since they denied the sound religious sciences, which the contemporary sciences do not ascribe to in any way, and thus they were deceived by the industries and inventions that arose from these modern worldly sciences. These are the people referred to in Allah’s statement:

فلما جاءتهم رسلهم بالبينات فرحوا بما عندهم من العلم وحاق بهم ما كانوا به يستهزئون

Then when their Messengers came to them with clear proofs, they were glad (and proud) with that which they had of the knowledge (of worldly things): And that at which they used to mock, surrounded them (i.e. the punishment)]. [Surah Ghaafir. Aayah 83]

They rejoiced due to their knowledge of the material world, which made them haughty; as a result, they mocked the knowledge of the Messengers until they were overwhelmed by the truth they had been mocking, and the punishment they had been promised for having belied the Messengers finally came to pass. They received their punishment in this world by having a seal placed on their hearts, ears, and eyes, which prevented them from the truth. [ولعذاب الآخرة أشد وأبقى – And the torment of the Hereafter is far more severe and more lasting (Surah Taa Haa. Ayah 127)]

As for what constitutes beneficial knowledge and how to define it, the Qur’an and the Sunnah both specify that it is any knowledge that leads to lofty objectives that produce positive outcomes. Knowledge is useful when it directs people in the right direction – promotes sound beliefs, morals, and deeds. Islam placed the sciences into two categories: Al-Maqaasid (the objectives of the sciences) and Al-Wasaa’il (the methods by which those objectives can be attained). The objectives serve the various (uncorrupted) divine laws, and the methods are the things that help to achieve those objectives, such as the Arabic language and its various sciences, the sciences that are associated with phenomena in the universe whose fruitful outcome leads to knowledge and awareness about Allah, His Oneness and Perfection, and acquaintance with the truthfulness of His Messengers (due to realities they have conveyed from their Lord).

The benefit of the worldly sciences is that they are utilised as an aid to worship Allah alone, express gratitude to Allah, and establish the religion. That is because Allah [The Exalted] informed us that He has subjected this universe to our service, commanded us to reflect on it and derive both religious and worldly benefits from it. A command concerning an affair is both a command to fulfil the affair and a command to use the means necessary to fulfil the command; so, as a result, since we are unable to reap their benefits on the spot, we must seek them out through research, reflection, and experience. This in and of itself is an urge to comprehend the worldly sciences, which are the means through which what Allah has subjugated to us is extracted. Allah [The Exalted] said:

وأنزلنا الحديد فيه بأس شديد ومنافع للناس

And We brought forth iron wherein is mighty power (in matters of war), as well as many benefits for mankind. [Surah Al-Hadeed. Ayah 25]

These benefits cannot be attained without familiarity with the sciences of the physical world that produce them (by the Will of Allah).  [End of quote] (1)

Benefit from this very useful article by Shaikh Abu Iyaadh [may Allah preserve him]: Understanding the Two Definitions of ‘Science’ in Operation: http://www.aboutatheism.net/articles/juvtbpd-understanding-the-two-definitions-of-science-and-scientific-enquiry.cfm

[Ref 1: An Excerpt from Ad-Deenus Saheeh Yahillu Jamee al-Mashaakil (The right religion is the answer to every problem- page 6. slightly paraphrased]

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