Keywords: Qur’an, Arabic, Maktab or kuttab, masjid, majlis, jami‘, Bayt al Hikma, Rasail Ikhwan al-Safa, Diwan, knowledge, hikma, al-Azhar, Nasir-i Khusraw, Fatimids, Nizamiyya, Nizam al-Mulk, Saljuq, embroidery, weaving, carpet-making, calligraphy, Ibn Sina, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, Safavids, ribat, khanqa, zawiya, jamatkhana, pesantren, Ibn Khaldun, Aligarh. 

Abstract:The earliest revelation to the Prophet Muhammad evokes powerful symbols of learning and knowledge: "Read! Your Lord is full of generosity, instructing by the Pen, educating humanity about that which they do not know" (Qur'an 96:3-5).

In addition, the Quran distinguishes Adam from other created beings by virtue of the capacity gifted to him to "name everything" (2:31).

The value placed on knowledge in the Qur'an became the foundation for the development of education in all its different expressions among Muslims. This spirit was further reinforced by the need to remember and preserve the traditions of the Prophet.

Among the sayings of the Prophet were statements encouraging education. The acquisition of knowledge thus came to be perceived as part of one's daily life and as a way of enhancing knowledge of the faith and its practices; faith and learning were seen to be interactive and not isolated from each other.


Professor Azim Nanji

Professor Azim Nanji serves currently as Special Advisor to the Provost at the Aga Khan University. Most recently he served as Senior Associate Director of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University 2008-2010 and also lectured on Islam in the Department of Religious Studies. He was previously the of Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies from 1998 - 2008. 


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