Posted in Philosophy, Religion, Science

Knowledge is (not) Power

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire, and Allah has sent him astray due to knowledge and has set a seal upon his hearing and his heart and put over his vision a veil? So who will guide him after Allah? Then will you not be reminded? (QS. 45:23)

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To the best of our knowledge, modern human has been living for roughly 100,000 years, only a tiny fraction of 4.5 Billion years that the earth has been around, and yet our impact, to a certain extent, is significant. We may conclude for a long period of time, the inhabitants of the earth are mostly unintelligent beings. Thus, some say that we, human are now separated from other species because of this so-called intelligence. In Abrahamic Faith, all of the religion agreed that Adam was given the knowledge of the names. Hence, he know to use terms as implies within names.

Most researchers today believe that all of the human accomplishment such as farming, foraging, creating societies, and so on, were the product of a revolution in Homo Sapiens’ cognitive abilities. What caused these new ways of thinking and communicating? Researchers argue that genetic mutations changed the inner wiring of the brain, and thus enabling them to come up with new ways of thinking and communicate it with a new type of language. This ability showcase what human are capable of.

As implies within the creation of Adam and what is his best feature, we can conclude that the knowledge and its potential lies within every human being, whether you are creationist or evolutionist. But, let’s not discuss that for now.

Human minds progressed and shape our civilization today, the so-called “Scientific Revolution” era. During this period of time humankind has obtained enormous powers by investing resources in scientific research. It is a revolution because the world obtained enormous medical, military, and economic powers.

But, most people in average having problems digesting modern science. College students having difficulties solving their calculus homework, or how to build their science project. Out of billions of people, how many really understand quantum physics, molecular biology, and macroeconomics? Science nevertheless enjoys immense prestige. Leaders of the world may not understand nuclear physics in detail, but they do know what nuclear bomb is and how catastrophic it may become.

In 1602, Francis Bacon published a scientific manifesto titled, The New Instrument. In that manifesto, he argued that ‘Knowledge is Power’. The real use of knowledge is not whether it is true or not, but whether it empowers us or not. Bacon connects science and technology, and this connection flourishes in the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Having all said that, science at the end of the day is unable to set its own priorities and incapable of determining what to do with its own discoveries. It is merely tools to be utilized.

Even one of the pioneer of the scientific method in our era, British philosopher, logician, and Nobel Prize Winner, Bertrand Russell said, “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” Love and knowledge. If having knowledge is considered as having power then it should be accompanied by principle or moral. It might mislead humankind and brought them to an end.

Human desire is at every cause of war and terror that our world has witnessed. Quran (Look up QS 45:23 in the beginning) called that desire or هوي (hawa) with an original literal meaning “to drop, fall, tumble, fall down, sink, etc.” Hence, any people who follow their desire (lust), as in this meaning, will fall or in this case (Quran) let the people blindly go astray with sealing in their ears and hearts. Even for the person with knowledge (علم).

Sometimes we are having difficulties in separating knowledge as in classical text (hard knowledge) and having “knowledge”. Having a lot of Hadith recitation might not be considered as knowledge if the person did not apply it. Having plenty of information about Islam doesn’t make a person wise.

Imam Malik enlighten us with his saying,

“Knowledge does not refer to plenty of information; rather, knowledge is a light that Allah puts into the heart of a true believer.”

Knowledge is depicted as light from Allah, while the light itself symbolizes hope, a guidance, that will guide us in our darkest moments. Interestingly, the word “knowledge” itself, علم (‘ilm/knowledge) is unique. If you flip the last two letters it will become عمل (‘amal/action), and if you flip the word, it will form لمع (lama’/shine, brilliance).

In Islam, this knowledge that you gain needs to be applied, so that you can gain understanding and be able to become a brilliant person with Allah’s help. The light penetrates the heart of the believer so that he aware of his existence and what needs to be done between him and his Master, and thus taking action in which makes the person shine. What is exactly the light that can penetrate the heart? That light, I can argue, is the Quran, sent down from Allah.

Human desire problem is so deep and complicated. Any knowledgeable and wise person might have fallen because of it. Let it be in politics, economics, or sciences. Everyone might succumb.

They must complete the equation that prescribed before. Let the Quran speak and act as a light. Knowledge is a light that illuminates civilization through the heart of believers. Having plentiful information about Islam is not the same as having knowledge. Having scholarly debates sometimes not considered gaining knowledge if they are following their ego and desire.

Let Allah guide us through His knowledge to act as humanity’s beacon of light.  

References

  1. Harari, Yuval Noah., Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Harvill Secker, 1st edition, 2014
  2. Michio Kaku (videos: on the Evolution of Intelligent)
  3. Mohammed Ghilan excerpt in his videos
  4. Dictionary: ejtaal.net
  5. Quran: legacy.Quran.com
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Author:

Philanthropic Muslim Enthusiast, Engaging in pursuit of knowledge and creativity, love to read books (any kind of books)

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