Khutbah – Curiosity and Knowledge

Khutbah – Curiosity and Knowledge

Today we’re going to discuss the importance of curiosity. We’re going to discover why it is so important to want to know more and learn more.

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  1. A basic rule when discussing Quran Tafseer is that when there is a list of things, what comes first is most important.
    1. Let’s take Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.
    2. Last verse of Surah Al-Fatihah, describing “The Straight Path.”
    3. Most important is the path of those who Allah is pleased with.
  2. Another example is Surah ArRahman.
    1. Allah mentions mankind and jinn together five different times. First time in different verses, next four times in the same verse.
    2. In four of these five instances, mankind is mentioned before jinn.
      1. Shaytan was ordered to bow to Adam.
      2. The Quran was revealed to mankind.
  • Mankind is superior to the jinn.
  1. But, what about that one time that the jinn were mentioned first? Why did Allah break the pattern in that one verse and mention the jinn first?
    1. O company of jinn and mankind, if you are able to pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allah ].
  2. In that one verse, Allah dares jinn and mankind to go beyond the boundaries of heaven and earth. Man cannot do this.
  3. But the jinn can as Allah says in Surah Al-Jinn.
    1. And we have sought [to reach] the heaven but found it filled with powerful guards and burning flames.
  4. But this is no longer possible as Allah has put mighty angels to guard them.
  1. So with all this, we’ve established that what is listed first is most important. Now let’s look at these verses from Surah An-Nahl.
      1. He causes to grow for you thereby the crops, olives, palm trees, grapevines, and from all the fruits. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.
      1. And He has subjected for you the night and day and the sun and moon, and the stars are subjected by His command. Indeed in that are signs for a people who use their intellect.
      1. And [He has subjected] whatever He multiplied for you on the earth of varying colors. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who remember.
    1. Allah lists different favors and signs and blessings:
      1. Verse 11 where Allah mentions several fruits that He’s given us then tells us that in them is a sign for people who ponder.
      2. The next verse Allah says He’s also subjected the night and the day and the sun and the moon and the stars all for us and that in them is a sign for people with intellect.
      3. And in the next verse Allah tells us that whatever is multiplied in the earth in all its various different colors is subjected for us also and that in them is a sign for people who remember.
    2. Now we can go through these different lists but I’d rather just look at the categories of people at the end of each verse.
      1. In verse 11 He says these are signs for a people who ponder.
      2. In verse 12 He says these are signs for a people with intellect.
      3. In verse 13 He says these are signs for a people who remember.
    3. People who ponder. People with intellect. People who remember.
    4. I thought about these verses wondering what they meant. Three types of people, those who ponder are mentioned first.
    5. Searched for term “people who ponder,” but no pattern jumped out at me.
    6. Checked several tafseer, Ibn Katheer, Jalalayn, Mawdudi, but none made a connection between the three verses.
    7. Finally, found a tafsir that linked all three verses together.
    8. Quran is both a public and private discourse.
      1. It is a communication between Allah and all of us and between Allah and each and every single one of us.
      2. What you read may impact you differently from how it impacts me.
    9. These verses are connected in the process of acquiring knowledge.
    10. In order to learn something we must first wonder about it. That is the beginning. Exploring their curiosity. People who ponder.
    11. After curiosity we must gain the knowledge which becomes part of our intellect. People who use their intellect.
    12. Finally, we eventually must bring that knowledge back out.
      1. Either we remember it, apply it to our lives, or teach it others, or we get tested on it in some way.
      2. We have to remember the knowledge we’ve gained and then we become people who remember.
    13. Remember that basic, fundamental rule of the Quran what is mentioned first is the most important.
    14. In these three verses, Allah praises people who fit into these three categories: People who ponder; People who use their intellect; and People who remember.
    15. The first one mentioned is People who ponder, who want to understand something better, who are curious, who have a desire to learn.
    16. The process doesn’t even begin if that isn’t in place first.
    17. Consider my search for information about these verses.
    18. First, I was curious and pondered over the meaning of these three verses.
    19. After turning pondering on my own as much as I could, I searched in other sources, eventually finding something that seemed fitting. It became part of my intellect.
    20. And now I’m relating that same information to you, remembering what I learned.
      1. This completes the cycle of knowledge.
    21. That is how almost knowledge is gained.
      1. Curiosity leads to a search for knowledge which must eventually be remembered and brought back out.
    22. What happens when one of these things are missing? We’ll explore this in the second half of the khutbah.
    23. BREAK
    24. We are discussing verses 11, 12, and 13 in Surah An-Nahl, Chapter 16 of the Quran where Allah praises people who have certain qualities.
    25. General rule in the Quran is that whatever is mentioned first in a list is the most important.
      1. We see that the category of people who ponder are the most important.
    26. According to one tafsir, these three verses are connected in the acquisition of knowledge.
      1. First we must ponder and have a desire to learn more.
      2. Then we must go out and actually learn something.
      3. And finally, we will be called upon to remember our knowledge.
    27. We discussed why the category of those who pondered may be the most important of them all.
      1. Nothing happens without a desire to know more.
    28. What happens when the cycle is broken? What happens when one of these three components are missing?
    29. When there’s no curiosity and no desire to learn or find out more, Nothing happens!
    30. But just having curiosity is not enough. We must act on that curiosity.
    31. This is the stage that many of us are at.
      1. We have a desire to learn. But we don’t commitment and focus.
    32. Most of us want to know more Quran and more about Islam.
      1. But few of us are actually doing something about it.
    33. This is similar to the story of Bani Israel when they asked Saul for a King so they could fight in the way of Allah under him.
      1. Have you not considered the assembly of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, “Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah “? He said, “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?” They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers.
      2. Saul told them “you might not even want to fight when the time comes.”
      3. Bani Israel were adamant
      4. And when it came time to fight, most of them turned away.
    34. This relates to the phrase: The heart was willing, but the flesh was weak.
    35. Having the desire is not enough. You have to also be strong enough to do it.
    36. People often give excuse of having a hectic life.
      1. As if there’s a magical future with no problems.
    37. The only real excuse it’s just not that important to them at this time. It’s not their priority.
    38. What happens when a person is missing the last attribute?
      1. What about a person who has the desire to learn, that curiosity, went out there and got it, but they don’t remember it.
      2. They are unable to remember it when it happens or unable to apply it when it matters most.
    39. This may be a person who got the knowledge for the wrong reason
    40. Or they got bored or lazy or complacent.
      1. This is still an incomplete cycle because no one benefits.
    41. That was a problem that I had.
    42. My mother sent me to Senegal and then to Trinidad to study Islam. I spent five years overseas studying Islam.
    43. When I came back home, I got complacent.
      1. I remained in almost the same state for almost fifteen years.
      2. I felt that what I had learned was enough.
      3. Other things were more important.
      4. A few classes and lectures but no consistency or structure.
      5. I figured I had paid my dues.
    44. Then about three years ago, my life got crazy.
      1. Too many upheavals, too many things going wrong.
      2. I had to take a step back and look at myself and ask some hard questions.
      3. Allah had given me an amazing opportunity and I was squandering it.
      4. Forgetting surahs. Forgetting hadiths. Forgetting my Arabic.
    45. Something had to change.
      1. So I started back studying.
      2. Started just by reading Quran daily.
      3. And then Tafsir, lectures, books, and classes.
    46. This wasn’t structured, but it was consistent. Got the ball rolling.
    47. Then learned about Islamic Online University
      1. Offered a bachelors in Islamic Studies
      2. I enrolled and dropped or failed all of my classes.
      3. Main reason I didn’t do well: I wasn’t ready for structured courses just yet.
    48. But I didn’t let that stop me.
      1. Reenrolled the next Spring of 2012.
      2. Took four classes and passed them all.
      3. Haven’t looked back.
    49. Can’t go full time so I take what I can. Should graduate in 2-3 years.
    50. Back to the main point:
      1. Shouldn’t miss out on any of these qualities.
      2. But the most important is to be of the people who ponder.
      3. That initial curiosity is what gets it all started.
    51. Don’t become complacent with your knowledge.
      1. Maintain that childlike curiosity.
      2. Don’t just know more, but know better.
    52. Starting today, make it your goal to follow your curiosity.
      1. Become one of those people who reflect and ponder and are always curious.
    53. But don’t stop there.
      1. Act on that curiosity and strive to learn more. Even if all you can do is read Quran daily.
    54. In closing, if you want to become one of those people who reflect and use their intellect and remember, you can do it. There’s nothing stopping you but you.
      1. It’s not your aptitude that’s stopping you, it’s your attitude.
      2. It’s not your nationality, it’s your mentality.
      3. It’s not your exterior, it’s your interior.
      4. It’s not your situation, it’s your evaluation.
      5. It’s not your ability, it’s your adaptability.
      6. It’s not your lack of authority, it’s your lack of priorities.

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