Abu Bakr RA reported: I heard the Prophet (SAAW) saying:“You should be a scholar, or a student, or a listener, or a lover of ‘Ilm and scholars, and you should not be the fifth which makes you perish.– (The fifth type hates ‘Ilm and its people)(At-Tabarani; Al-Bazzar)
There are so many Ahadeeth which stress the importance o seeking knowledge. The Final Message of Allah to mankind started with the words “Iqra” the command to read. In this first revelation, Allah T’aala describes Himself as the One who gives knowledge to man of things which he did not know.
The message of Islam inspired a desire for learning in the hearts of the Muslims, and they gathered knowledge from the four corners of the world — from Greece, China, India, Africa, — all types of knowledge were gathered in the libraries of the Muslims. It was this knowledge that led them to leadership of the world.
This desire is no longer present in the hearts of most Muslims. When teachers try to teach something, the students ask: is this going to be on the exam? This means they are not interested in knowledge, but only in passing the exam. However, this is not the fault of the students. Today, the Islamic concepts of knowledge have disappeared from view — this is one of many serious problems created by the decline of Islam (for a more detailed list, see famous book, translated into eighteen languages, by Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi entitled: What the World Lost Due to the Decline of Islam) . The knowledge currently taught in universities is mostly about how to make money, whereas the knowledge brought to us by Islam was about how to make human beings develop their character and spirituality. All human beings are born with amazing potentials, and it requires training of the heart to enable the realization of this potential. As stated in Ahadeeth, useful knowledge enters the heart — this type of knowledge is not available within a Western education.
My video lecture (42m English) , linked below, explains some of the distinct features of the Islamic approach to knowledge
Similarly, an Urdu Video Lecture (63m) on the nature of Knowledge in Islam.