The importance of seeking knowledge and education in Islam is an undisputable matter. This importance of knowledge and education is basically for two reasons. The first is that the training of a human mind is not complete without education. Education tells man how to think and how to make decisions.
The second reason for the importance of knowledge and education is that only through the attainment of education, is man enabled to receive information from the external world; to acquaint himself/herself with past history and receive all necessary information regarding the present. Without education, man is as though in a closed room and with education he finds himself in a room with all its windows open to the outside world.
This is why Islam attaches great importance to knowledge and education. When the Quran was revealed, the first word of its first verse was ‘Iqra’ that is, read. Allah says, (what means): “Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not” [Quran, 96: 1-5]
Education is thus the starting point of every human activity. Allah created man and provided him with the tools for acquiring knowledge, namely hearing, sight and wisdom. Allah says (what means): “And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah)” [Quran, 16:78]
Because of the importance of knowledge, Allah commanded His Messenger to seek more of it. Allah says (what means): “And say: `My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” [Quran, 20:114]
The Prophet (pbuh) made seeking knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim male or female, and he (pbuh) explained that the superiority of the one who has knowledge over the one who merely worships is like the superiority of the moon over every other heavenly body.
Furthermore, the Prophet (pbuh) said that seeking knowledge is a way leading to Paradise. He (pbuh) said: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Al-Bukhari)
For example the Quran repeatedly asks us to observe the earth and the heavens. This instils in man a desire to learn natural science as well. All the books of Hadeeth have a chapter on knowledge. In Saheeh Al-Bukhari there is a chapter entitled, “The virtue of one who acquires learning and imparts that to others.”
Islam calls us to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledge. Branches of knowledge vary in status, the highest of which is knowledge that leads us to Allah and the knowledge that increases our faith in our Creator, then other fields, such as medicine, astronomy, mathematics, physics etc.