I have seen some people who have acquired much information, yet remain quite ignorant. I have witnessed those who are “highly educated,” yet believe the color of your skin somehow makes you a better or lesser person.
True knowledge is not just information collected or learned.
Knowledge needs the right mind to absorb and properly process it. It needs positive intentions to support it, wisdom to envelope it, and the right door to express it. It allows one to look into the world and contemplate. It is a complete sound house that is used to protect the self and others from harm, promote safety, growth, tranquility (not irrational fear) — peace. When there is an aspect of knowledge that is missing, it creates a weak home allowing those with negative power to abuse their responsibilities and bulldoze growth and one’s sense of security.
People with true understanding comprehend that this world is not about “us” and “them.” It is not about irrational fears. This world is about all of us: the human race and how we can differ yet still grow and learn together.
True knowledge opens worlds of understanding in all areas, even though we may not see eye to eye. As a human race, we have been given critical thinking higher than any other creation so that we may contemplate our purpose in life and understand our surroundings as we exist amongst many other things.
Knowledge is an absolute right and responsibility of every individual whether male or female, rich or poor, whatever social status, race or age. The essence of contemplation and education is the very foundation of Islam.
“Read” was the first word and command ever revealed in the Quran.
“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who created. He has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” (96: 1-5)
This verse was revealed to Prophet Muhammad after long periods of contemplation regarding his Creator and the world around him. It is a command that came from the All-Knowledgeable and accordingly taught by Prophet Muhammad: “When the son of Adam dies, his deeds end except for three: a continual charity, beneficial knowledge (knowledge that people benefit from), or a righteous child that prays for him.” (From the many authenticated sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.)
This call to knowledge and education has been taken seriously by American Muslims, and specifically American Muslim women. According to the 2009 Gallup Polls, American Muslim women were among the most highly educated female religious groups in the United States.
For a Muslim, to teach and help others gain beneficial knowledge is not only a reward within itself, but, most importantly, it is rewarded by God as beneficial knowledge. So, when you teach, you witness individuals expand in their understanding, become motivated, confidant and improve their life. This is my primary source of personal motivation to do and continue with as much good as I can.
I am rewarded for every good action by receiving 10 good deeds. Now, imagine I teach someone to read, then every letter he or she learns I am rewarded for. Then, that person teaches his or her child, that child grows up and teaches his or her children, and then their children teach others. When you keep multiplying by 10, that’s exponential growth.
I will continuously receive good deeds even after I have left this Earth until the end of time — just because I took the time to help one person. Talk about a good investment.
Knowledge is the essential C.ontemplate U.nderstand R.ead E.ducate for the mind.
This Voices column was written by Jenan Jondy, who has a degree in biology and is a volunteer with the Literacy Volunteers of Bangor (www.lvbangor.org). She resides in Hampden with her husband and is the mother of four children.
Columns on Islam are published in cooperation with the Islamic Center of Maine in Orono. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.