What branches of science (ilm) are fard to learn? Only religious sciences?

The Details of the Question
What branches of science (ilm) are fard to learn? Only religious sciences?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The greatest science (knowledge) is to know the existence and oneness of Allah. It is necessary to study the sciences that will increase our belief. Besides, it is fard to learn enough science (ilm) to fulfill the fard worshipping.   

It is fard al-kifayah* to study the sciences regarding the occupations that are useful for the humanity. Therefore, it is necessary for a person to learn the sciences regarding his job.

Fard al-kifayah: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "It is fard for every believer, whether man or woman, to seek ilm (knowledge) "(1).

Seeking knowledge is a definite order of Allah. Then, it is fard to acquire knowledge.

The obligation to seek knowledge is divided into two as fard al-ayn and fard al-kifayah.

The knowledge or science that is fard al-ayn has to be learnt by every Muslim. A person has to learn the knowledge and information necessary to fulfill his duties regarding creed, worshipping and ethics. It is fard al-ayn for everybody to learn the information about catechism: ilm al-hal.

When the knowledge or science that is fard al-kifayah is learnt by some of the members of the community in accordance with the necessity of the community, the other members of the community are not regarded responsible.

Sciences that are useful for the humanity like mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc are regarded as fard al-kifayah. Since they are sciences that are useful for the community, a sufficient amount of the members of the community has to learn them. For instance, if there are not any doctors to treat the sick people in a city, some of the members of that community have to study medicine. Otherwise, everybody that is capable of studying medicine will be responsible.

What branches of science (ilm) are fard to learn? Only religious sciences?

First of all, we should make it clear that when the phrase “religious sciences” is mentioned, it is wrong to think of fiqh, tafsir and hadith only. The sciences like mathematics, physics, chemistry that are studied in order to serve the humanity in accordance with the wish and consent of Allah and His Messenger are also regarded as religious sciences. 

Our religion encourages people to study those sciences. For instance;

* Islam correlates many fards in the field of worshipping with the concept ‘time’ (fasting, hajj, paying zakah once a year, imsak, iftar, eid, Friday, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night times). To know the times of performing fard duties can only be achieved by obtaining information about the number, movement and properties of planets; that is, by studying mathematics and astronomy and by obtaining knowledge from the people who are specialized in those branches. Thus, astronomers are really necessary in Islam.   

*The Quran states that the earth was made manageable for the human beings and orders, "... traverse ye through its tracts and enjoy of the Sustenance which He furnishes..."(al-Mulk 15). It can only be achieved by specializing in branches like agriculture, etc. Then, it is regarded a religious science to study agriculture.  

*God Almighty orders us to make ready our strength to the utmost of our power to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies. (al-Anfal, 60) To make that strength ready can only be achieved by knowing the branches of science like economics, physics, mathematics and chemistry very well.

According to what can be understood from the examples above, our religion encouraged and made it a fard to study all of the branches of science that are useful for the humanity. 

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