Sources of Knowledge in Islam

What are the primary sources of Knowledge in Islam?

The primary Areas of Knowledge are:

  1. Knowledge of Allah and
  2. Knowledge of the Messenger of Allah.

These are the primary two Areas.

Following that we have Knowledge of the Five Pillars of Islam, since Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) with divine Instruction had identified these five pillars as the foundation of Islam. So much so that when a Bedouin came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and asked him about what was required of him. And the Prophet (ﷺ) told him,

"...the Five Pillars one after the other. And after each Pillar the Bedouin would ask, ‘’Is there anything Further?’’ And the Prophet (ﷺ) would add ‘’Well you may voluntarily do this additional Worship or that additional Worship’’ and each time the Bedouin would say, ‘’ I will just do what is obligatory on me’’. And the Prophet (ﷺ) had finished his explanation and the Bedouin turned to walk away, the prophet (ﷺ) turned to his companions and said “He will be in paradise IF he is Truthful.” [1] He will go to Paradise if he is Truthful.

If he truthfully does those Pillars as he said, he would do no more and no less, he said “this is enough, I will do what is obligatory on me, no more and no less.” And Prophet (ﷺ) affirmed that, that is sufficient to take him to paradise.

So this is then telling us that this is a primary area of Knowledge we need to have. Knowledge of the five pillars of Islam, Follow Knowledge to be able to fulfil their right.

Knowledge of the first pillar of Islam actually includes;

Belief in Allah that there is no god worthy of worship besides Him, it is our Shahadatain and that Muhammad (ﷺ) is the last Messenger of Allah.

So the knowledge that we should have of the Shahadatain is what is sufficient to keep us away from Shirk because that is the essential expression that we make when we say "Ash-hadu-an-laa-ilaaha-ilallah." This is our clearing ourselves before Allah from Shirk.

That there would be no Shirk in our thoughts, in our actions, in our words, in our relationships. It would be free from Shirk in all of its forms.

Of course there is major Shirk and there is minor shirk and we should be able to distinguish between the two. So our primary area of knowledge in this regard involves knowledge not only of Tawheed in the sense of Allah’s dominion over his creation, his attributes and names as well as what it means to worship him Alone.

It also includes the opposite of all of this where we direct acts of worship; we give attributes of Allah to others. We don’t recognise Allah’s complete control of our affairs and we attribute things which happen in our lives to others or to Allah unfairly.

When we say, ‘’Why did this happen to me?’’ we question, "this is not fair, I don’t deserve this." When a calamity strikes, if that is our reaction, then this is a reaction of Shirk. People say it all the time; “I don’t deserve this, what did I do for this to happen to me? This is not fair." This is what Satan said when he was told to bow before Adam, it is very similar.

Satan was saying “Why should I bow to this man? I am better than him. It’s not fair to be bowing to this man who is inferior to me. I am created from fire and he is created from clay.” It is the same expression. We hear it all the time and this is Shirk in our expressions. And it represents a serious deficiency in our faith, in our belief.


[1] [Sahih al-Bukhari 1397]

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