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‘Ilm (Arabic: علم "knowledge") is the Islamic term for knowledge. However central the idea of 'ilm to Islamic intellectual culture, it was an essentialist concept, assumed to be a fixed and identifiable (if undefined) object or fact.
Meaning of knowledge
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word knowledge refers to "Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject."
"In this work on the concept of knowledge, Franz Rosenthal collected a number of definitions of 'ilm, organizing them according to what he saw as their essential elements (admitting that the list was ahistorical and did not necessarily conform to categories the medieval Muslim scholars themselves would have used). Among these definitions, we find the following: Knowledge is the process of knowing, and identical with the knower and the known.
Knowledge is that through which one knows.
- Knowledge is that through which the essence is knowing.
- Knowledge is that through which the knower is knowing.
- Knowledge is that which necessitates for him in whom it subsists the name of knower.
- Knowledge is that which necessitates that he in whom it subsists is knowing.
- Knowledge is that which necessitates that he in whom it resides (mahall) is knowing.
- Knowledge stands for ( 'ibarah 'an) the object known ( 'al-ma lum).
- Knowledge is but the concepts known ( 'al-ma ani al-ma luma).
- Knowledge is the mentally existing object."
Knowledge in the Western world means information about something, divine or corporeal, while In Islamic point of view 'ilm is an all-embracing term covering theory, action and education, it is not confined to the acquisition of knowledge only, but also embraces socio-political and moral aspects.it requires insight, commitment to the goals of Islam and for the believers to act upon their belief. Also it is reported in hadith that "Knowledge is not extensive learning. Rather, it is a light that God casts in the heart of whomever He wills." 
Shiism and knowledge
Doctrine about necessity of acquiring knowledge
- According to Allameh Muzaffar, Allah gives humans the faculty of reason and argument. Also Allah orders human to spend time thinking carefully on creation while he refers to all creations as his signs of power and glory. These signs encompassed all of universe. Also there is similarity between human as little world and universe as large world. Allah doesn’t accept the faith of those who follow him without thinking and only with imitation but also Allah blames them for such an action.
In other words, humans have to think about the universe with reason and intellect, a faculty bestowed us by Allah. Since that there is more insistence on the faculty of intellect among Shia, even evaluating the claims of someone who claims prophecy is on the shoulder of intellect.
- The Qur'an is said to demand the acquisition of knowledge. It explains the study and development of sciences during the Islamic Golden Age.
Ilm in Qur'an
In the Qur'an the word 'alim has occurred in 140 places, while al-'ilm in 27. In all, the total number of verses in which 'ilm or its derivatives and associated words are used is 704. The aids of knowledge such as book, pen, ink etc. amount to almost the same number. Qalam occurs in two places, al-kitab in 230 verses, among which al-kitab for al-Qur'an occurs in 81 verses. Other words associated with writing occur in 319 verses.
- Fudge, Bruce (7 April 2011). Qur'anic Hermeneutics: Al-Tabrisi and the Craft of Commentary (Routledge Studies in the Qur'an). United Kingdom: Routledge. p. 60. ISBN 0415782007.
- Bihar-ul-Anwar, p. 225, Vol. 1.
- Allamah Muhammad Rida Al Muzaffar (1989). The faith of Shia Islam. Ansariyan Qum. p. 1.
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