In fact, there is no Islamic reservation against seeking useful knowledge in all fields. Learning itself is considered a form of jihad as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Whoever goes out to seek knowledge, he is in the path of Allah until he returns.” He further said, “All of Allah’s creatures implore Allah for forgiveness on behalf of a seeker of knowledge—including fish in the water.”
Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states the following: “In Islam, there is nothing wrong in studying philosophy as well as different philosophical branches as long as the aim of the study is to make the person well acquainted with the philosophical ideas and allow him to compare them with religion.
In this regard, if philosophy or the philosophical topics go in harmony with the teachings of Islam, then there is nothing wrong in studying them, and the issue is religiously accepted, but not the opposite. If a certain branch of philosophy is to be rejected because of its contradiction with the teachings of Islam, then those who reject it should mention the reason behind the rejection.
Here, I would like to stress that many books were compiled to refute different creeds that run counter to the teachings of Islam, and Muslim scholars discussed such creeds objectively and refuted their falsified ideas about Islam in light of sound religious reasoning and understanding. The responses and refutations to false philosophical ideas done by Imam Al-Ghazali in his well known book Ihya’ Ulum-ad-Deen is a clear example in this regard.
The Qur’an mentions the false creeds of the polytheists, those who deny the Existence of Allah, and those who deny the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment. In this regard, the Qur’an itself refutes those false creeds with clear evidence.
Having stated the above, I would like to stress here that studying philosophy by the one who has no ability to discern what is right and what is wrong, especially in religious matters, constitutes a great harm.
In conclusion, the one who has the ability to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong in religious matters is permitted to study philosophy with its different branches as long as his Islamic creed remains intact and rock-solid.
Having said this, I would like to add that some of the scholastic topics that are taught in different educational stages do disseminate certain philosophical ideas without clarifying whether those ideas are right or wrong according to Islam. With this, they leave the Muslim mind of the layman baffled and confused. Unfortunately, those who study such ideas consider that they are taken for granted and they are uncontestable. They don’t know that such ideas and opinions might contradict the teachings of Islam and violate its high morals.”