Extent of obligatory knowledge

Q: I have an embarrassing question which has long preoccupied my mind. I would like you to direct me to the correct answer regarding it. Details of the question are as follows: the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) says in one of his noble Hadiths:A- The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion. B- Allah and His angels bless those who teach people knowledge. (Part No. 12; Page No. 65) C- When a slave (of Allah) dies, their acts come to an end but three, ongoing charity, knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious child who offers Du`a' for them. D- The dwellers of the heaven and the earth, and even the ant in its hole ask forgiveness for scholars. E- Both the learner and the learned share the same goodness, and the rest of the people are deprived of it. (Related by Al-Tabarany on the authority of Abu Al-Darda') This Hadith has been classified as Hadith Mawquf (words or deeds narrated from a Companion of the Prophet that are not attributed to the Prophet).F- May Allah brighten (the face of) a person who hears my words, comprehends them, and then conveys them as he has heard them. (Part No. 12; Page No. 66) Allah also says in His clear Ayahs (verses):A- And those who believe in (the Oneness of) Allâh and His Messengers - they are the Siddiqûn (i.e. those followers of the Prophets who were first and foremost to believe in them), and the martyrs with their Lord, they shall have their reward and their light. (Surah Al-Hadid, 19)B- And whoso obeys Allâh and the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), then they will be in the company of those on whom Allâh has bestowed His Grace, of the Prophets, the Siddiqûn (those followers of the Prophets who were first and foremost to believe in them, like Abu Bakr As-Siddîq (رضي الله عنه), Al-Shuhada' (the martyrs or witnesses), and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are! (Surah Al-Nisa', 69)The question is:It is understood from the Prophet's Hadiths and the clear Ayahs (verses) of the Qur'an that the "scholars" referred to therein are the religious scholars who possess knowledge of religious sciences. The Qur'an describes them as those who are pious, truthful and well-grounded in knowledge; those who will be witnesses over mankind on the Day of Judgment. However, Allah also says in His Noble Qur'an: (Part No. 12; Page No. 67) A- Allâh will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. B- Say: “Travel in the land and see how (Allâh) originated the creation" C- We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves D- Do they not look in the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all things that Allâh has created E- So let man see from what he is created! He is created from a water gushing forth, Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) also said: O Slaves of Allah, seek treatment, for every disease there is cure except one disease, namely, old age. Through this second section of Qur'anic Ayahs and Hadiths we observe that Allah invites us to study other non-religious sciences. For example, Allah calls us to study the structure of the human body so that we may perceive and call others to perceive the miraculous nature of man's creation. This way we will be able to prove to people the Greatness and Existence of Allah and genuineness of the Islamic Shari`ah. The Messenger (peace be upon him) orders us to study medicine and give medical treatment to the sick. In many Hadiths, the Prophet presents some medical prescriptions for treatment which we are unable (Part No. 12; Page No. 68) to use except under the supervision of a specialized physician who possesses religious knowledge. The first part of the question is: Is religious knowledge the only type of knowledge for which Allah grants reward, raises one who acquires it to a rank near that of the Prophets and Messengers? Does this mean that a student of medicine is not granted reward for not acquiring religious knowledge? Or do the Ayahs and Hadiths include all types of sciences which one studies provided the following conditions are fulfilled:A- Providing benefit for Islam and MuslimsB- Having the intention to attain reward from Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He)C- Reaching new fiducial facts and illustrating them to people so that the strength of their Iman (faith) may increaseD- Increase of Iman through the observation of Allah's Wondrous Signs as shown in His Creation and the universe.It should be kept in mind that a student of any science has to possess a limit of religious knowledge which he is bound to learn. Accordingly, the second part of the question is as follows:If a person studies the religious knowledge required of him, then seeks to embark on the study of medicine for the purpose of treating sick Muslims and reaching new fiducial facts that connect the study of medicine with religious knowledge, will he receive the same reward granted to a person who acquires knowledge of religious sciences? (Part No. 12; Page No. 69) Or are learners of religious knowledge rewarded better than learners of medicine and other sciences?The third part of the question is as follows:Why is a person who studies religious sciences better rewarded than a person who studies medicine though both seek to attain Allah's Pleasure? Moreover, a student of medicine seeks to find treatment for sick people and to examine the wonders of man's creation according to the commands and instructions given to him by Allah in the Qur'an. Is it because the person who studies religious sciences benefits a larger number of people than a specialized physician that the former is granted greater reward than the latter? Or will Allah reward each one according to their effort, knowledge and deeds?

A: First: Allah revealed the Qur'an and sent His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to guide mankind unto the straight path and show them the proper method of how to serve and worship their Lord (Exalted be He) while giving full clarification of the rulings related to their dealings in a manner that regulates both their religious and worldly affairs. Allah has completed His Favor upon His Servants and has perfected for them their religion which He has chosen for them. Allah (Exalted be He) says: This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islâm as your religion. (Part No. 12; Page No. 70)  Second: Allah orders His Servants to contemplate the signs of the universe and to carefully examine the creation of His wondrous Creatures with a view to find out about the secrets of their creation and get to know the One Who created them, thus having their hearts humbly submitted to Him and give Him His due estimation. ...and that they may know that He is the only One Ilâh (God - Allâh) Thus, hoping for Allah's Reward and fearing His Punishment, people will worship Him Alone and will show sincere devotion to Him by not associating others in worship with Him. They will be utterly convinced of the fact that they were not created without purpose nor will they be left neglected. His Wisdom dictates that they shall be brought back to life for reckoning on a Day when every soul shall be paid in full according to what it has earned. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it. See they not how Allâh originates the creation, then repeats it. Verily, that is easy for Allâh. Say: "Travel in the land and see how (Allâh) originated the creation, and then Allâh will bring forth the creation of the Hereafter (i.e. resurrection after death). Verily, Allâh is Able to do all things." He punishes whom He wills, and shows mercy to whom He wills; and to Him you will be returned. These Ayahs are revealed to indicate Tawhid-ul-Rububiyyah (Oneness of Allah's Lordship) which subsequently confirms the other category of Tawhid known as Tawhid-ul-Uluhiyyah (Oneness of Divine Nature) (Part No. 12; Page No. 71) preached by Nuh (Noah, peace be upon him) and Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him). These Ayahs are also indicative of Allah's perfect Ability to create and His Ability to bring the dead back to life for accountability of their worldly deeds. Allah orders mankind to ponder over His Creation and to travel throughout the universe to discover the mysteries of the cosmic signs that denote the Oneness of Allah, perfection of His Names and Attributes and His Ability to resurrect the dead on the Day of Judgment. Allah also orders them to consider the pleasing destination of the believers compared to the wretched destination of the disbelievers. This way, they will follow the Messenger's path of truth and guidance and will steer clear of treading the path of those who belied Allah's Messengers and were thus seized with the Punishment of the One Exalted in Might and Perfect in Power. A severer punishment still awaits them in the Hereafter, if they but knew! The believers and scholars who contemplate Allah's Revelations, learn lessons from them and believe in the rulings they contain will be raised to higher ranks of glory in this life and will be granted triumph and eternal felicity in the next life.Thus it becomes clear that these Ayahs aim at laying the foundations of religion like Tawhid-ul-Uluhiyyah, resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment for accountability, truthfulness of Muhammad's Prophethood as well as truthfulness of the Message he was sent with to invite mankind to Tawhid (belief in the Oneness of Allah). Preceding and succeeding Ayahs lend support to these facts. These Ayahs (Part No. 12; Page No. 72) are not meant to lay the foundations of industry or agriculture which help people conduct their worldly affairs properly. Nor are these Ayahs meant to introduce geometrical theories or illustrate cosmic phenomena that enlighten people about such realms of sciences as geometry, geophysics and geology which ultimately help them lead a prosperous life through modern inventions. These inventions are arrived at through succor of Allah, man's inherent insight and close examination of the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them. The Qur'an and Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet) basically lay the foundations of religious legislation in totality or in detail. Cosmic sciences tackled in the Qur'an or Sunnah are very few and are not given due concern or priority as they are treated as issues of secondary importance. Qur'anic Ayahs or Hadiths that mention scientific realms such as medicine are not treated as primordial rules on which to depend in the diagnosis of diseases or the prescription of medicines.The same is true of the Qur'anic Ayah which reads: Do they not look in the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all things that Allâh has created; and that it may be that the end of their lives is near. In what message after this will they then believe? (Part No. 12; Page No. 73) This Ayah urges those who deny the truth to closely examine the dominion of the heavens and the earth and contemplate all the wondrous signs of Allah's Creation so that they may be guided to worshipping Allah Alone, directing Du`a' (supplication) to Him, referring to Him with the very Names and Attributes He has referred to Himself with and refraining from distorting them through belying, denying or changing them out of their context or referring to Him with Names or Attributes other than those He has referred to Himself with. Allah afflicts His Punishment on those who fabricate or distort the Names and Attributes which He has referred to Himself with. They should be aware of this fact lest they be deceived of Allah giving them respite as He (Exalted be He) will ultimately afflict them with His Punishment. Allah (Exalted be He) says: And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allâh, so call on Him by them, and leave the company of those who belie or deny (or utter impious speech against) His Names. They will be requited for what they used to do. And of those whom We have created, there is a community who guides (others) with the truth, and establishes justice therewith. Those who reject Our Ayât (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), We shall gradually seize them with punishment in ways they perceive not. And I respite them; certainly My Plan is strong. Praising the high status of His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and commending his sagacity and truthfulness in conveying the Message of Islam, Allah (Part No. 12; Page No. 74) (Exalted be He) says: Do they not reflect? There is no madness in their companion (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم). He is but a plain warner. Allah orders the disbelievers to examine the dominion of the heavens and the earth. This and the preceding Ayah are revealed in the context of proving the different categories of Tawhid (belief in the Oneness of Allah), establishing Messengership of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), confirming the truth about the teachings he brought from Allah and proving occurrence of accountability for one's actions whether in this life or on the Day of Judgment. An example of this is found in the opening Ayahs of Surah Al-`Ankabut.The purpose of the Qur'anic Ayah which reads: We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur’ân) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things? Is the same as the purpose of the above-mentioned Ayahs of Surah Al-`Araf and Surah Al-`Ankabut. Like these Ayahs, it is revealed to prove Tawhid (belief in the Oneness of Allah), confirm the Messengership of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and occurrence of resurrection on the Day of Judgment. All the Ayahs of Surah Fussilat are revealed to prove and clarify these facts.As for the Qur'anic Ayah which reads: So let man see from what he is created! He is created from a water gushing forth, Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs. It is revealed as an indication of Allah's Ability to recreate man after death. One Who is Able to create is (Part No. 12; Page No. 75) more Capable of repeating creation as dictated by sound logic. Creation and repetition are both easy for Allah. Allah (Exalted be He) says: And He it is Who originates the creation, then He will repeat it (after it has been perished); and this is easier for Him. His is the highest description (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but He, and there is nothing comparable unto Him) in the heavens and in the earth. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. All the Ayahs of Surah Al-Tariq talk about Allah's Threat to punish those who deny the possibility of the occurrence of resurrection.As for the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) states: "O Servants of Allah, seek treatment.....Etc), it is meant to direct Muslims to the necessity of seeking treatment for illnesses and not to neglect any of the means that bring about recovery as they will not be going against Tawhid (monotheism) as long as they are sure that it is Allah Alone Who heals and that it is He Alone that causes malady and brings about remedy. Allah has prescribed a remedy for every malady as is authentically reported in the Hadith. However, the Prophet did not give a detailed account of the types of medicines or diseases except in very few cases where he is reported to have prescribed certain medicines for the treatment of certain diseases. The Prophet did not lay the foundations of medical sciences through which medical students can learn about the properties of different types of medicines or symptoms of diseases. But he urged Muslims to learn all that benefits them in this life and in the Hereafter. Allah subjected the universe to people's service and guided whomever of them He wills towards discovering the secrets and wonders of the universe. (Part No. 12; Page No. 76) Thus, Muslims should embark on a careful examination of the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) so that they can learn about the perfect nature of the Shari`ah (Islamic Law), its objectives and particulars, each according to their mental faculty and willingness to learn. They also have to examine the cosmic phenomena that take place in heavens or on earth so that they can discover the hidden secrets and acquire knowledge of sciences such as medicine, agriculture, industry, physics, geology and other cosmic sciences that may prove helpful to them in conducting their worldly affairs away from seeking the help of the Kafirs (disbelievers). In this way, they will combine between might and glory in this life and realization of salvation and eternal felicity in the Hereafter.Muslim rulers and scholars should help in the advancement of the Muslim Ummah, give due concern to its affairs, provide it with beneficial knowledge, direct it to righteous deeds, and distribute its efforts to all walks of life in terms of learning various fields of sciences, which produce efficient people who shoulder the responsibility of the Ummah and help it not need other countries. (Part No. 12; Page No. 77) Thus it becomes clear that people who acquire religious knowledge are included in the category of those whom Allah raises to high ranks on account of teaching and acting upon it while showing sincere devotion to Him. Priority is given to learning this type of knowledge. All other secular sciences which the Muslim Ummah (community) may be in need of like medicine, agriculture, industry and the like also fall under the category of religious knowledge if learners of these sciences hold the intention to benefit, support and raise the status of the Muslim Ummah. Learners of these sciences hold varying ranks according to how important and beneficial what they learn is to religion and how it can achieve sufficiency for Muslims. Allah (Exalted be He) Alone is the One Who estimates matters in due measure and Who knows the secrets and that which is yet more hidden. He is the Only One Who grants reward and raises in ranks whether in this life or in the Hereafter and He is All-Wise, All-Knowing.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions.