It was in the Cave of Hira that the first word was revealed. “Iqra.” Repeated three times. “Iqra.” Jibreel commanded our beloved Prophet PBUH, “Read; in the name of Your Lord.” [96:1]
There is much to be learned from this revelation. Amidst countless options, God chose His first command to our beloved Prophet to be, “Read.” Not only does that emphasize the importance of knowledge, it also clearly indicates our duty to seek out knowledge. As we go back and forth to school and work, we grow dizzy with the routine and lose focus of the fact that our efforts to learn and apply that knowledge to action is a part of our faith.
But is that all? What about those who don’t have access to knowledge?
The Prophet PBUH once said, “Acquire knowledge, for he who acquires it in the way of Allah performs an act of piety; he who speaks of it, praises the Lord; he who seeks it, adores Allah; he who dispenses instruction in it, bestows alms; and he who imparts it to others, performs an act of devotion to Allah.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
The answer to those questions is clear in this hadith. We must impart knowledge to others and by extension; we must provide an education for those that have been deprived of it.
This brings us to the plight of Syrian refugees today. According to a UNICEF report published in 2014, two million Syrian children have been out of school since the civil war began. Now, in 2015, this number has surely grown.
Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) is dedicated to providing Syrian refugees with an education that will last a lifetime. For that reason, ZF began sponsoring schools that serve thousands of Syrian children in 2014 and continues to do so today, and these efforts have expanded to include ZF’s establishment of Zahra University, a higher learning institution focused on displaced Syrian students in Gaziantep.
The Islamic tradition is laced with texts and stories that highlight, again and again, the significance of knowledge. It is part of our faith to provide a way for this knowledge to reach Syrian refugees of all ages, despite their situation. After all, granting Syrian refugees access to schools is paving a way for the next generation to rebuild Syria itself.