Investing In Our Future- The Education Of Our Youth: Part 2
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The following address was delivered June 14 at graduation ceremonies for Sister Clara Muhammad School in Chicago. This is the last of two articles.)
I don't know how far you are reaching, I don't know how far you want to go. Some youngsters are happy just to graduate from high school. But it was very easy when I was a graduate to enter a junior college. But, it's a fact that the challenge of a junior college today is no more than the challenge of high school about 20 years ago.
Seek Higher Education
So, I think all of you should try to at least get two years of college and I believe most of you are looking to finish a four-year college. We pray that Allah's blessings be with you and that you be very successful.
Whether you intend to go on to higher education or not, you should feel obligated as a Muslim to strive for more and more achievement in your life, for more and more accomplishments to your credit. You should reach out, extend with your head, extend with your sights, reach out for more and greater things.
If you follow this great wisdom that God has revealed in the Qur'an, you will understand that it is knowledge that you need—as a scope to look through or to see with—in order to measure the distances between yourself and where you want to go. It is knowledge that you need to bridge the gap between those distances.
Maintain Your Form
Most critical for you will be to maintain your own self, your own life, your own makeup, your own form. For, as we've said earlier in this address, there are many influences coming from strong personalities and lifestyles you may admire. They will pull you and you will follow them unconsciously. Even the wisest of men, many with doctoral degrees, have found themselves taken out of form by influences from their associates.
God again says in the Qur'an, "Surely the point of the matter is that the God for all is one Allah, there is no God but He. He comprehends all in His knowledge. "This brings to mind the oneness of God and the unity of His creation. He is One and no other one is responsible for creating anything that we find in this vast universe.
He has assigned to everything a knowledge upon which it must exist. Therefore, we should learn to respect life with that recognition — that everything has been formed to a knowledge pattern.
This is the kind of understanding the scientist has. When a scientist looks at the sky, he looks at it with a different mind, makeup and spirit, than the average person. A scientist looks at even the hand with a different recognition, a special recognition that most common people don't have.
Allah has sensitized us with the revelation of the Qur'an to have this kind of appreciation for everything He has made: that He has made nothing simple, nothing for play or foolishness, nothing in vain — everything has great value and everything conforms to a great knowledge pattern.
Your life conforms to a great knowledge pattern. As long as you respect the science, the knowledge pattern for your life, you'll be successful in your functions.
But, the moment you leave that kind of recognition and forget that your whole life must be in tune to the knowledge, you'll be subject to lose your own natural functions, and no one alienated or separated from their natural functions can be successful — not in the path of God, nor in the path of the world!
Life is Systematic
You'll fail in religion, and you'll fail in the practical world if you let yourself slip away from the recognition that life is a systematic order and that it has been contained in the plan and pattern of knowledge created by God.
As students, you should have a high appreciation for Knowledge, a high appreciation for matter, for the billions and trillions of things that compose in matter that are all patterned from a knowledge plan. You should not be destructive; you should not be criminal; you should not be immoral.
The person who has a healthy appreciation for the created world as a creation functioning upon high and powerful rules of knowledge has a stronger influence in his or her life to keep them moral. They have a stronger influence than a person who just follows morality out of moral sentiment or affection for moral life.
There are many other Qur'anic references to this premise that a person's life is restricted to a pattern of knowledge. God says in our Holy Book, showing us in part, showing us the soundness of great strength and faith that the sincere worshipper has, 'My Lord comprehends all things in knowledge. Do you not then reflect?"
Knowledge is very essential in Muslim life. Students, aim for greater accomplishments all the time! After you have gone to a four-year college or university and taken up a profession, still devote yourself as a student, improve your mind, increase your knowledge and always reach out a little bit further for more accomplishments.
God Encompasses Everything
Quoting the word of God again, "Our Lord, thou art encompassing all things by knowledge and mercy. "The several references that I have quoted from the Qur'an, our Holy Book, tell us that God encompasses everything with His great knowledge and how we come to a similar saying in the Holy Book but this time the principle of mercy is added. The great achievements of science for the Western world cannot be played down and we would be foolish to try to discredit the West when it comes to the great achievements in the field of science. However, when we look at the moral life of the people of the West, the failing loyalties of the people of the West, family, business and professional loyalties, we pity them. As a Muslim, I pity the life of the Western man for their family loyalties! They build great cities, great urban centers in high hopes that the scientific knowledge that goes into the structure is going to again be a better life for the citizens of those quarters. However, we have only lived to see that much of what they've done is their big mistake.
Human needs not accommodated
They have not accommodated the needs of the human life in making what they call progress in the urban centers. Pollution, bad water, bad air, contamination from industry, crowded living quarters, prison-type environments that they call housing projects, and rampant crime characterizes life in the cities. And, morality is a thing to be laughed at. We've seen self-destruction and almost every other development you can imagine — with these so-called big modern urban communities.
The appreciation for knowledge most likely was with western man before. Evidently, obedience to God must not have been with them. Appreciation for His creatures, human creatures and the desire to meet the needs of the human creatures must not have been with them. The principle of mercy must not have been operating when they were applying the rules of knowledge. For God encompasses all things under the rule of knowledge and mercy.
And, lastly, we have God revealing for us, His devotee, that He loves and approves of knowledge and that it is to be treated as a very sacred possession and something that we should seek God for.
God reveals to the Prophet in the Holy Book: "And say, my Lord, increase me in knowledge." Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Any who go out in search of knowledge, if you enter upon the path of searching for knowledge, God will aid him in the path to Paradise."
I hope that in bringing these comments to you, that you have better understood that in our religion, knowledge works with, pre¬serves and aids good morality. But, that knowledge must be knowledge that is created by God in the universal context of things.