Different from any other religion – regardless of its origin but which has been altered and corrupted, Islam values knowledge, reason, understanding and intellectual certainty, while superficial knowledge – information and citation of texts, without honesty, sincerity and piety is as bad, if not worse.
So beautifully the Qur’an says, “Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” None will be mindful ˹of this˺ except people of reason.” [39:9]
Knowledge is light. It is power. It generates confidence. It is a powerful weapon, as well as it is a shield, and the best knowledge is to know the most important thing, which is God Himself. Knowing God is not the same as not knowing Him. Knowing what benefits us is not the same as not knowing that. Knowing the enemy is not the same as not having a clue about them.
Islam praises people of knowledge. There is great reward and spiritual incentives associated with knowledge. It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, “It is more difficult for the devil to confront a single scholar than a thousand ignorant worshippers together.”
A scholar can see and understand what others cannot. He or she does not need to wait for something to happen in order to see the outcome; they are certain about the result. That’s why scholars are not the easiest people to be ruled because they have insight and confidence. They use the brain, not their emotions.
Scholars are the guardians of the society and the true leaders. They guide the herd to the right direction. They clarify what the evil people distort. They sift through information and evidence. They look far into the future.
Interestingly enough, the Qur’an associates knowledge with power, including military power, “Indeed, there is more fear in their hearts for you ˹believers˺ than for Allah. That is because they are a people who do not comprehend.” [59:13] or,
“Their malice for each other is intense: you think they are united, yet their hearts are divided. That is because they are a people with no ˹real˺ understanding.” [59:14]
It is obvious, in my view, that this is the very reason why modern Secular governments, and perhaps any kind of government, favors ignorance over knowledge and prefers ignorant people to scholars because the former are much easier to be controlled and exploited, fooled and convinced. Scholars understand the consequences of foolish policies. They are not deceived by momentary pleasures and interests; rather, they prioritize the ultimate benefit and success.
Unfortunately, our modern governments, and frankly speaking, the society as a whole, are supporting and promoting only ignorant people. Even among religious individuals, governments favor those who might look pious and superficially practicing, but in reality lack knowledge and understanding, and this by far is the most destructive war against Islam and the Qur’an.