Myth: Islam produces a lazy, uneducated society because:
- all things come from God, and so fatalism is OK
- modern technology and science are condemned
The reasons given for this misconception are false, and the misconception itself is actually refuted directly by the Qur'an and Sunnah. While it is true that the Creator is the source of everything to us, it is not true that this can be used as an excuse for humanity to hide behind as the following verses from the Qur'an state (translation),
[16:35] The worshippers of false gods say: "If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped anything but Him - neither we nor our fathers,- nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His." So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of messengers but to preach the Clear Message?
[43:20] They (the idolators) say, "If it had been the will of (Allah) the Most Merciful, we should not have worshipped such (deities)!" Of that they have no knowledge: they do nothing but lie!
Allah has taught us via the Qur'an and Sunnah that we all have a certain amount of free will. This free will must be exercised properly in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah to please the Creator. This is plenty of motivation for all Muslims to push themselves to be the most knowledgeable, effective Muslims they can be. If Muslim societies today are not meeting their potential, it is surely not due to their knowledge of Islam, rather it is their ignorance of this way of life. The importance of seeking knowledge and working are made clear in the Sunnah.
From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sunan Abu-Dawud, we find:
[9:1637] Narrated Anas ibn Malik: A man of the Ansar came to the Prophet (pbuh) and begged from him.
He (the Prophet) asked: Have you nothing in your house? He replied: Yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread (on the ground), and a wooden bowl from which we drink water.
He said: Bring them to me. He then brought these articles to him and he (the Prophet) took them in his hands and asked: Who will buy these? A man said: I shall buy them for one dirham. He said twice or thrice: Who will offer more than one dirham? A man said: I shall buy them for two dirhams.
He gave these to him and took the two dirhams and, giving them to the Ansari, he said: Buy food with one of them and hand it to your family, and buy an axe and bring it to me. He then brought it to him. The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) fixed a handle on it with his own hands and said: Go, gather firewood and sell it, and do not let me see you for a fortnight. The man went away and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams, he came to him and bought a garment with some of them and food with the others.
The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) then said: This is better for you than that begging should come as a spot on your face on the Day of Judgment. Begging is right only for three people: one who is in grinding poverty, one who is seriously in debt, or one who is responsible for compensation and finds it difficult to pay.
Also from the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sunan Ibn Majah, we find that the Messenger of Allah said:
Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.
Knowledge of the Qur'an and Sunnah are clearly the best types of knowledge, and knowledge which benefits humanity is good as well. The Qur'an and Sunnah do not condemn the study of this earth and in fact the Creator encourages us to investigate the world we live in according to the following verse from the Qur'an (translation),
[3:190-191] Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for people of understanding. People who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (with the thought): "Our Lord! not for nothing have You created (all) this! Glory to You! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire."