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In the Name of Allah
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Knowledge and Wisdom

'Knowledge (‘ilm)' is information of which someone is aware and is an ever growing process. One may gain knowledge over time or even lose it when things are forgotten. Anyone can have knowledge.

Reading and Writing increases Knowledge.'Wisdom (Hikmah)' is total insight and the ability to make correct judgments and decisions concerning a matter or situation through understanding cause and effect phenomena. It is a complex term that acquires many levels. Other word it is a hidden power of thinking and logic. Wisdom for man it is through piety and strenuous efforts that man has raised himself to the heights of intellect. Not everyone can acquire wisdom, but only when you seek from Allah (subhan wata'ala).

We’ll start with the very first revelation to the Holy Prophet peace and blessings be upon him Read! (or recite!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher Who created. Created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Read! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the Pen, taught man that which he knew not. [Surah Al-Alaq 96:1-5]

When we seek with knowledge and wisdom, the above verses 1-5 (ayat 1-5) from the Glorious Qur’an the meaning expands using hidden power of thinking and logic:-

  1. First word is Read! Meaning to learn knowledge. In the name of thy Lord means to learn knowledge that Allah (subhan wata'ala) has given and to learn for the sake of Allah. Who created? Means to understand who is the Creator? Allah (subhan wata'ala) is our Creator and our Master and we are the slaves. To follow Allah (subhan wata'ala) we must understand Him by seeking knowledge and then practice in our life so that we please Him.

  2. Created man out of a clot of congealed blood: In this verse information about our creation and technology of how we were created is given. This means we need knowledge of information and technology in our life.

  3. Read! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful. This verse tells us that if we seek knowledge Allah (subhan wata'ala) will be Most Generous to us.

  4. He Who taught (the use of) the Pen – The important of seeking knowledge is to read and write.

  5. Taught man that which he knew not. This verse gives us a lesson that the world will always introduce knowledge and new technology. To be well equipped we must seek…

When translating the Glorious Qur’an the translation differs from scholar to scholars because of their intellect/perception/knowledge and wisdom. The more intellectual the scholar is in Islam the more meaning of the word expands, as shown in the verses above.

Here Allah (subhan wata'ala) telling us about Adam (peace be upon him) the Father of mankind, And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels and said: "Tell Me the nature of these if ye are right." He said: "O Adam! tell them their natures..." And behold We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam"; and they bowed down not so Iblis he refused and was haughty he was of those who reject Faith. [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:31, 33-34]

On this ground it can be said that Allah (subhan wata'ala) taught all the sciences/knowledge to Adam (peace be upon him). Then He orders the angels to bow before Adam (peace be upon him) and whosoever does not bow respectfully is being regarded as one of the disbelievers because of not obeying Allah’s command.

In another verse, it is said about the one who is wise, He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the message but men of understanding. [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:269]

This is why religious wisdom, although it is one of the types, is of a higher order. This is also why the Qur’an narrates to us stories of wise individuals, like Luqman the wise, wisdom of Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), who is believed by philosophers to be the origin of wisdom. His story with his father David (peace be upon him) gives proof that wisdom is also not just sheer acquisition of knowledge; it is also of insight, inspiration, and bounty from Allah (subhan wata'ala).

To Solomon We inspired the (right) understanding of the matter: to each (of them) We gave Judgment and Knowledge; it was Our power that made the hills and the birds celebrate Our praises with David: it was We Who did (these things). [Surah Al-Anbiyaa' 21:79]

Verses and traditions regarding knowledge and wisdom are so many that it is impossible for us to include all of them here. Yet we should not also forget that Seeking knowledge is obligatory [Sunnan Ibn Majah].

Also, Allah (subhan wata'ala) telling mankind to seek/ask or supplicate for increase in knowledge.

...say "O my Lord! Advance (increase) me in knowledge." [Surah Ta-ha 20:114]

The wisdom behind this verse is that when you seek/ask or supplicate to Allah (subhan wata'ala) sincerely, Allah (subhan wata'ala) hears/listens and accepts your supplications. The knowledge given/gained or stored in human mind/memory, as time passes the information/knowledge will not easily be forgotten.


Inviting people to Allah (subhan wata'ala)

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr (ra), the prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Convey from me, even if it be one ayah (verse)..." [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4 (Prophets), Hadith no. 667, translated by M.Muhsin Khan]

Narrated Abu Hurairah (ra), Rasool peace and blessings be upon him also said: "Whoever calls people to right guidance will have a reward like that of those who follow him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest..." [Sahih Muslim, Hadith no. 1230]

Continuing Charity :Narrated Abu Hurayrah, The Messenger of Allah said, “When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring (ongoing) charity (Sadaqah Jariyah), or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son (offspring), who prays for him (for the deceased).” [Muslim, Hadith no. 766]

Death is an inevitable journey, which we will all face alone. All worldly attachments will be left behind and only our belief, righteous actions and worship will be of any use. Therefore we should remember death frequently and fear Allah (subhan wata'ala).

Calling/inviting people to Allah (subhan wata'ala) is an obligation upon all Muslims at different levels but it differs according to the level of knowledge, wisdom, way, rank, profession and time. This obligation is evident from many verses that are clear in the Qur’an: 

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity.” [Surah Al-‘Imran 3:104]

“Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance.” [Surah An-Nahl 16:125]

On the Day of Qiyamah (Judgment Day) 
Allah (subhan wata'ala) will call up an Alim (Scholar) and ask him:
"I gave you 'ilm and other favours. What did you do for me?"
"I spent my entire life, learning and teaching people this knowledge, for you."
"You are a liar! You did this so that people would call you a big scholar. People have spoken about you as such therefore there is no reward from me this day."
By Allah (subhan wata'ala) decree - he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Jahannam (Hell Fire). [Selected part of a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah in Sahih Muslim, Hadith no. 884]

There are different kinds of people:

For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah, are the deaf and the dumb those who understand not. [Surah Al-Anfal 8:22]. It is obvious that the Qur'an does not mean the physically deaf and dumb, but those who do not want to listen to truth or when they hear, do not wish to admit it with their tongues. In the view of the Qur'an, the ears which are unable to listen to truth and which are only used for listening to absurd and nonsensical things are deaf. The tongue which is merely used to utter nonsense is dumb. The person who do not reason, are those who do not make use of their wisdom and their faculty of thought. Such are not fit to be called human beings. The Qur'an includes them among the beasts.

The true believers are full of wisdom and free of any ignorance and harms. For instance, an opponent is challenged to present rational argument in favour of his position:
... Say: "Produce your proof if ye are truthful." [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:111]

Fear of Allah is reserved for the Wise.
...Those truly fear Allah among His Servants who have knowledge: for Allah is Exalted in Might Oft-Forgiving. [Surah Al-Fatir 35:28]

Muslims Lost Property
Abu Hurairah (ra) said, The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him said:
“The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it, he has a better right to it.” [Al-Tirmidhi]

It is ‘Wisdom’ the Lost Property of the Believer (Mu'min). Wisdom Belongs to the Muslims where ever they find it. Wake up! Look for our Lost Property! Knowledge is Power! There was a time when the Muslims were unmatched in knowledge and power. Now we are in a time where Muslims are lost in darkness because of the love for the Dunya (world).


The Prophet peace and blessings be upon him Promoting Knowledge
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him did not only preach about importance of knowledge, he also gave examples of promoting knowledge. At the battle of Badr in which the Muslims gained victory over their opponents, seventy people of the enemy rank were taken prisoner. These prisoners of war were literate people. In order to benefit from their education the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him declared that if one prisoner teaches ten Muslims how to read and write, this will serve as his ransom and he will be set free. We can freely say that this was the first school in the history of Islam established by our Prophet peace and blessings be upon him himself openly (meaning everyone knows about it) but not secretly with all its teachers being non-Muslims. Furthermore, they were all war prisoners. This example shows how important to seek/learn knowledge in our life.


Knowledge against Shaytan
One of the greatest fortresses, which protect the believer against Shaytan, is Knowledge.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas the Messenger of Allah said:
"A single scholar of religion is more formidable against Satan than a thousand devout." [Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith no. 73]

The importance of knowledge for the believer in opposing Shaytan is well illustrated by the following story related by Ibn Abbass (ra):

The Shaytan says to Iblis, "Master we delight in the death of a man of knowledge more than we rejoice in that of a man of worship. We are harmed by the man with knowledge, but not harmed by the man of worship."
Iblis says, "Come on, let’s go." So off they go to a man of worship and they come to him while he is worshipping and tell him they want to ask him a question. Iblis says, "Can your lord put this world inside an egg?"
The worshipper replies, "I don’t know." Iblis says to the Shaytans, "Don’t you see there is disbelief in his answer?"
They then go to a man of knowledge in his circle joking with his companions and say, "We want to ask you a question."
He says, "Ask" so Iblis says to him, "Can your Lord put this world inside an egg?"
He replies, "Yes."
Iblis asks, "How?"
The man of knowledge says,
"Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, ‘Be’ and it is!" [Surah Ya Sin 36:82]
Iblis says to the Shaytans, "Don’t you see that, the man (the worshipper) does not have any effect beyond himself, while this man (the man of knowledge) estranges much of the world from me?"

Many Populations Destroyed.
How many populations have We destroyed which were given to wrong-doing? They tumbled down on their roofs. And how many wells are lying idle and neglected and castles lofty and well-built? Do they not travel through the land so that their hearts (and mind) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind but their hearts which are in their breasts. [Surah Al-Hajj 22:45-46]


Modern Scientific Points of View on Knowledge (‘ilm).
Modern science is built and developed upon existing information gained through experimentation and correcting previous errors. In general, science represents theories and hypotheses that we devise and pursue in order to acquire knowledge. From this point of view, knowledge and science are not the same and must not be considered as synonyms. For example, sometimes Knowledge ('ilm) is mistranslated as science, because the translators do not take into consideration the genuine meanings of the words. This mistake can be excused when it is made by the general population (people in general), who might not be aware of the difference; however, we expect scientists and professionals to use these terms correctly, according to their core meanings, so that their different meanings become obvious and clear.

Knowledge is born and developed between our hearts and minds. On the contrary, science is totally material, belongs to this world and all physical beings, and depends fully upon Earth's natural rules. Science is born through theories, and its continued development always engenders doubt. Initially, science was built on rationalism and developed through positivism. It sprouts in the world of the five senses, and continues its life with reference to the theoretical mind. Most of the time, science rejects things that cannot be seen or heard. In fact, its eyes are blind to the concealed meaning of existence, and its ears cannot hear it. Modern science accepts only those objects and events that can be perceived by the five senses.


We conclude this topic with a lesson for you to understand the hidden wisdom behind the normal daily lives of people in your own environment.

Use this question for all of the examples 1-10 given below to find the hidden wisdom. What or Who is the cause?

  1. A person can be a believer or disbeliever.

  2. A person hitting a dog with a stick.

  3. A drunk hitting his wife.

  4. A person lost lots of money gambling and argument started with his wife at home.

  5. A person has lots of money, business, house, family and a nice car, but you go pass his car and decide to scratch it.

  6. A person only thinks about himself.

  7. A person has everything that he wants in life but he is still not happy.

  8. A person has everything (money, family, house, business, good health etc.) but he still wants more.

  9. A person looking down on others, thinking he is better than him in every way.

  10. You can SEE All above but you don’t want to.

Hidden Wisdom for above examples: 1. CHOICE   2. A person in CONTROL   3. OUT OF CONTROL   4. ANGER   5. JEALOUSY   6. SELFISH   7. Missing HAPPINESS   8. Unable to control his DESIRES   9. PRAISING HIMSELF   10. IGNORANT

If you can fight your Nafs (struggle against your evil self) then you can overcome all above examples given and be in a Straight Path of Allah (subhan wata'ala).

Three kinds of people will destroy world (dunya). An Ignorant person, a person who Desires (materialistic world) and a person who Praises (praising himself).

 

Many people seem to have knowledge and they think they have knowledge through education, work experience, studying experiments, life experience and the list carries on. If you compare droplet of water to the ocean, did you know that we don’t even have the knowledge of a single drop of water?

Hope that from this topic and lesson has enlightened and made understood the reader/you that how important the knowledge and wisdom is in our life to be succeeded in the right path of Allah (subhan wata'ala). May Allah the Almighty forgive us for our shortcomings and guide us to that which He loves and is pleased with, Aameen.

All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the worlds. Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me.  Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength. May Allah forgive our sins with his Infinite Mercy, Aameen.

 

The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, 11th edition 1429 AH / 2008 C.E with Revised English Translation, Commentary and Index by ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali.

Last updated 10th Rabi al-Sani 1435 (Monday 10th February 2014)

 

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