Is ilm compulsory

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)


One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

which Ayat of the Koran says that to attain ILM is compulsary. What type of ILM, please clearify in detail.


(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)




Is ilm compulsory?

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol,  no person,  no grave, no prophet,  no imam,  no dai,  nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.


In general terms,  ‘ilm’ or knowledge can be divided into two parts:

  1. Knowledge of the deen
  2. Knowledge of the world (duniya).


Ref:  Knowledge of the deen

Knowledge of the deen can be further divided into two parts:


a. Basic Knowledge of the deen

The basic knowledge of the deen is the ‘ilm’ that is absolutely obligatory on every human being.   Basic knowledge would be the recognition of one’s Creator through His Attributes,  the Oneness of the Creator,  the acceptance of His Prophets, the purpose of one’s creation,  the obligatory duties of a believer,  the concept of the Hereafter, and the basic knowledge of the Divine Message, etc.   To learn the basic knowledge of the deen,  one need not attend fancy classes,  schools,  or universities;  but what is rather needed is the earnest search for the Truth and one’s true application of one’s common sense and intelligence devoid of any bias or prejudice.


b. Detailed Knowledge of the deen

The detailed knowledge of the deen is voluntary.  This would mean the intricacies and legalities of the Islamic Law or Jurisprudence,  the detailed study and learning of the Quran and Ahaadiths,  the Fiqh,  the detailed study of the Seerah,  etc.


Ref:  Knowledge of the duniya (worldly knowledge)

The worldly knowledge is indeed obligatory and is known as ‘fard-kifaayaa’ in Shariah.    If no muslim strives to gain worldly knowledge,  then the whole muslim community will be in sin;   but if some muslims strive and attain this knowledge,  then it would suffice for the whole community.   This knowledge is not obligatory for every believer,  if some believers attain this knowledge,  it would suffice.   The worldly knowledge can be the study of sciences,  medicine, engineering,  modern technology,  finance, etc.


The Glorious Quran is full of Aayahs,  whereby Allah Subhanah guides mankind to use their intelligence and basic common sense to determine, recognize,  and accept the Truth.    The importance of the gaining of this basic knowledge of the deen can be determined by the number of times the term ‘ilm’ (and all its manifestations) are mentioned in the Quran.   The only term that is mentioned more times in the Glorious Quran than the term ‘ilm’,  is the blessed name of Allah Subhanah!


Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me.  Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.


Your Brother in Islam,





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