The learning process is a must for everyone and that applies to both men and women. The old man is just as much in need of it as the young man, says MAULNANA WAHIDUDIN KHAN, explaining the true spirit of learning
The Quran lays great importance on learning, for it is learning that promotes and sustains the process of intellectual development. A verse of the Quran in the chapter Maryam (Mary) gives a notable example of this in a conversation the Prophet Abraham had with his father: Father, I have been given some knowledge which has not come to you, so follow me: I shall guide you along a straight path. (19:43)
Obviously, Abraham’s father, who was called Azar, was Abraham’s senior. So he could have been reluctant to take advice from someone who was very much his junior. But in the matter of learning, senior and junior have no meaning, for words of wisdom should be heeded, even if the speaker of those words is a much younger person.
This is the true spirit of learning. Without this spirit, the learning process would be a non-starter. And without the learning process, there can be no intellectual development. If you want to be an intellectually superior person, adopt the habit of acquiring knowledge from all and sundry.
The universe of knowledge and wisdom is so vast that it cannot be encompassed by any single mind. The only thing that can help you to gain more and more knowledge is the spirit mentioned in the Quran. Everyone must develop an insatiable intellectual thirst for the gaining of knowledge from many different quarters — every day and every night.
Knowledge is like a great ocean: faced with its immensity, no one can be a self-sufficient person. The process of seeking knowledge has to be a mutual venture, in the course of which everyone gains something from everyone else. Here the taker is the giver and the giver is the taker. Everyone plays both roles.
There are several ways of acquiring knowledge, one of them being through discussion or dialogue. Discussion or dialogue is not just a debating practice; it is an intellectual exchange. Discussion, if it is to be fruitful, requires objectivity and must be carried on in the questing spirit of give and take.
Books are a great source of knowledge. But the study of books is not simply reading. It is establishing contact and consulting with other thinkers and scholars. It is like a global discussion, if the reader has the true spirit, and has the ability to acquire knowledge from universal sources. The library is the place for this, for it is like a global conference room. A library makes it possible for you to reach all the world’s minds.
The learning process is a must for everyone and that applies to both men and women. The old man is just as much in need of it as the young man. Even great scholars are no exception in this regard. One scholar has rightly said, ‘Live with the spirit of learning and die with the spirit of learning.’ Learning is a lifelong process. It has a beginning, but no end.
The Prophet of Islam once said that you should acquire wisdom, even if you have to go to the ends of the earth. This shows the true spirit of learning. And all men and women should become imbued with this spirit.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, who left his physical body on April 21, 2021, four years short of a century, was an Islamic spiritual scholar, who had adopted peace as the mission of his life. Author of more than 200 books, and known for his Gandhian views, he considered non-violence as the only method to achieve success.
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