"Striving after knowledge is a most sacred duty for every man and woman who has surrendered himself to God."Most translations say every "Muslim man and woman" but I like the more universal translation better.
This is a quote from the prophet Mohammed.
It was this attitude that helped Islam outstrip the Christian West in science and culture for hundreds of years after Mohammed's death. For Christians of that time period -- and for far too many Christians today -- once you surrender to God, you can close your mind to all new knowledge.
I like the quote because it not only refers to learning as a "sacred duty" (something that has never seemed be a part of most Christian doctrine) but also because it puts men and women on the same level.
It also contains a recognition that at the time it was written, humanity had a lot yet to learn about the world. And for those of us reading it today, it's a reminder that we still have a lot to learn.
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Sadly, Muslim groups like ISIS have completely forgotten and/or abandoned this basic precept of Islam, and -- like the fundamentalist Christians of today and the Christian Crusaders of yore -- have convinced themselves that the path to God is through ignorance and violence.
As I've said before, it would be great if all religions -- or even just a single religion like Islam -- could agree on some basic principles of benevolence like this one, instead of fighting it out among themselves based on corrupt and malevolent interpretations of the foundational religious teachings. As enumerated in my post about using Maslow's heirarchy to solve the ISIS problem, here's a list of basic precepts that decent Muslims should all be able to agree on:
1) Belief in God – Strict monotheism.
2) Belief in the Angels – God’s faithful servants and emissaries; capable only of obeying his commands.
3) Belief in the Prophets and Messengers – Including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and John the Baptist, with Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him), having been sent as the final prophet and the completion of God’s Message to humanity.
4) Belief in the Sacred Texts – Including the Books of Abraham, the Torah of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but with the observation that some of these books, over the course of time and translation, have lost the original message, which the Quran, revealed in the Arabic language, preserves today in its pristine form.
5) Belief in Life after Death – The Day of Judgment, on which all will gather in the presence of God and each individual will be questioned about their life in the world and how they lived it, and will be sent to heaven or hell accordingly.
6) Belief in the Divine Decree – the belief that nothing happens except by God’s Will and with His full knowledge.