This year was declared the year of reading in the UAE, with a national campaign to promote literacy, books, and intellectual curiosity among the populace. You can follow the campaign on social media visa the hashtag #UAEReads.
Islamic civilization and cultures have many precedents and a rich history from which to draw support for such educational initiatives. It is widely believed that the first verse of the Quran to be pronounced was: Read! (Surat al-‘Alaq 96:1)
According to the late professor of Arabic literature at Yale University, Franz Rosenthal, knowledge was one of the key ideas motivating the development of Muslim traditions. In his classic work, Rosenthal writes:
For ‘ilm [knowledge] is one of those concepts that have dominated Islam and given Muslim civilization its distinctive shape and complexion. In fact, there is no other concept that has been operative as a determinant of Muslim civilization in all its aspects to the same extent as ‘ilm. This holds good even for the most powerful among the terms of Muslim religious life such as, for instance tawhid “recognition of the oneness of God,” ad-din “the true religion,” and many others that are used constantly and emphatically. None of them equals ‘ilm in depth of meaning and wide incidence of use. There is no branch of Muslim intellectual life, of Muslim religious and political life, and of the daily life of the average Muslim that remained untouched by the all-pervasive attitude toward knowledge as something of supreme value for Muslim being. ‘Ilm is Islam, even if the theologians have been hesitant to accept the technical correctness of this equation. The very fact of their passionate discussion of the concept attests to its fundamental importance for Islam.
Rosenthal, Franz. Knowledge Triumphant. Boston: Brill, 2007. p. 2.
We have access to many scholarly resources in the library that explore this topic from a variety of angles. Here is just a quick sample list:
- Ephrat, Daphna, Meir Hatina, and Dale F. Eickelman. Religious Knowledge, Authority, and Charisma: Islamic and Jewish Perpspectives. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2014.
- Iqbal, Muzaffar. Islam and Science: Historic and Contemporary Perspectives. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012.
- Muborakshoeva, Marodsilton. Islam and Higher Education: Concepts, Challenges and Opportunities. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2013.
- Osman, Bakar. Classification of Knowledge in Islam: A Study in Islamic Philosophies of Science. Cambridge, U.K: Islamic Texts Society, 1998.
- Safi, Omid. The Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam: Negotiating Ideology and Religious Inquiry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.
- Sayeed, Asma. Women and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge in Islam. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
- Walbridge, John. God and Logic in Islam: The Caliphate of Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
As always, we’re happy to help you find more!