Recite in the name of your Lord who created. (Al-Alaq, 96:1*)
The above ayah, the (translation of the) very first ayah to be revealed to the Prophet ﷺ, clearly shows the status of education in Islam. It is the first thing commanded by Allah. In fact, one of the reasons why the Prophet was sent to mankind is to teach us Divine knowledge:
It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting Book to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the and wisdom – although they were before in clear error. (Al-Jumu’ah, 62:2)
It is of utmost importance that we seek knowledge first before practicing Islam. This is because without knowledge, we will not be able to distinguish between what is halal and what is haram, between what is pleasing to Allah and what is displeasing to Him; thus without correct knowledge we are at risk of being misguided, just like the Christians. That is why we make the following dua in every rakah of every salah:
Guide us to the straight path – The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (al Fatihah, 1:6-7)
Thus knowledge is a prerequisite of worship of any kind, because Allah has taught us everything we need to know about this deen through his last Messenger ﷺ. Allah has said in the Qur’an,
‘Are those who know equal to those who do not know?’ Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding. (az Zumar, 39:9)
It is only those who have knowledge who have the correct understanding of the deen.
‘The guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me are like abundant rain which fell on a land. A fertile part of it absorbed the water and brought forth profuse herbage and pasture; and solid ground patches which retained the water by which Allah has benefited people, who drank from it, irrigated their crops and sowed their seeds; and another sandy plane which could neither retain the water nor produce herbage. Such is the similitude of the person who becomes well-versed in the religion of Allah and receives benefit from the Message entrusted to me by Allah, so he himself has learned and taught it to others; such is also the similitude of the person who has stubbornly and ignorantly rejected Allah’s Guidance with which I have been sent.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Without acquiring knowledge, if we try to worship Allah, then we will be easy prey of Shaytan.
He [Shaytan] only orders you to evil and immorality and to say about Allah what you do not know. (al Baqarah, 2:169)
This is evident in today’s world where people claim to practice Islam without seeking correct knowledge. They claim to know a lot about the Qur’an and sunnah, and are heard to say things like, ‘There is no mention of hijab in the Qur’an’, or ‘It says in the Quran that ‘honour killing’ is permissible.’ They are following their culture, their friends and family and ignorant leaders, or just inventing things following their own whims. Regarding this the Messenger said in the following hadith: ‘Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people, but He takes it away by taking away (the lives of) the religious scholars till none of the scholars stays alive.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The people who speak about Allah without knowledge are counted among the worst of sinners:
…and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.’ (al-A’raf, 7:33)
It is evident that the status of those who are blessed with Islamic knowledge is higher than those who do not. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, qtd. in Nawawi 1022)
Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. (al Mujadila, 58:11)
The Prophet explains the virtues of attaining knowledge: ‘He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the starts (i.e. in brightness). 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 acquitted an abundant portion.’ (Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi, qtd. in Nawawi 1030)
The scholars are so valuable that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘The world, with all that it contains, is accursed except for the remembrance of Allah that which pleases Allah; and the religious scholars and seekers of knowledge.’ (at-Tirmidhi)
Furthermore, the blessings of knowledge do not die with a person, but follow him even in his grave: ‘When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah; a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous decendent who prays for him.’ (Muslim)
Therefore it is fathomable why it is a great sin to hide knowledge.
In conclusion, seeking beneficial knowledge and research are of the utmost importance in Islam, so much so that it is a crucial part of the religion. Those who spend time in pursuit of beneficial knowledge are among the most highly respected and blessed of all Muslims, and it is a means for them of attaining Paradise.
To understand Quran in Arabic , take this 9 hours course on learning 50% of the Quran.