It is from Allah’s kindness and immense favor to us that he has endowed the human being with the ability to learn. Allah has given us our unique faculties for acquiring knowledge.
When Allah created Adam (peace be upon him), the angels exclaimed in surprise: “Are you placing (on Earth) one who will do harm therein and shed blood, while we hymn Your praise and sanctify You?” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 30]
But Allah commanded the angels to prostrate before Adam, and He explained to them that the way in which Adam enjoyed superiority to them was because: “He taught Adam the names of all things.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 31]
Then Allah commanded the angels to inform the things of their names. When they were unable to do so, they replied: “Glory be to You! We possess no knowledge save what You have taught us.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 32]
Then Allah turned to Adam and said: “Inform them of their names.”
When Adam did so, Allah addressed the angels saying: “Did I not tell you that I know what is unseen in the heavens and on Earth, and I know what you reveal and what you hide?” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 33]
Humanity has inherited from Adam the ability to acquire knowledge. We are able to learn about the world around us and the things that it contains. We have the power of language and the ability to reason. This is from Allah’s immense favor upon us.
Allah has bestowed this ability upon us as part of our natural development. We start out as infants, then children, then adolescents, and then adults. At each stage our minds develop and we acquire new abilities. This determination of our lives is part of what Allah refers to when He says: “Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High, who creates, and further, gives order and proportion, and who makes (things) according to their due measure, then guides (them to their goal)…” [Sūrah al-A`lā: 1-4]
Allah guides all living things to what they need to know in order to sustain their lives and ensure the continued existence of their kind on Earth. For instance, He guides animals so that the male and female know each other.
But human beings He guides further, providing us with the special abilities and faculties that we use to enhance our lives upon the Earth. Indeed, “your Lord is most generous. He who taught by way of the pen. He has taught humanity what they did not know.” [Sūrah al-`Alaq: 3-5]
Allah has given us, through our power of reason, the ability to make discoveries about our universe. We are inventive and creative. We can uncover patterns in Creation and deduce from them scientific laws. We can harness this knowledge for our benefit, and we can see around us how technology has facilitated many aspects of our lives, most conspicuously in recent years in our rapidly developing communications technologies.
No doubt, some of our technical progress has brought harm to humanity, because we have too often severed the connection between our knowledge and our relationship with our Lord. As a consequence, some of our knowledge has been harnessed by people to kill and destroy or to the detriment of human life.
Nevertheless, Allah has given humanity the ability to invent and be creative. When we use these gifts in positive ways that please Him and enhance human welfare, we are in fact worshipping our Lord.