According to the Quran, wisdom is of the greatest value for a human being. Wisdom ensures success, while the lack of it signals failure. I have tried to understand what wisdom is from the Quran and Hadith, that is, what is the concept of wisdom, as defined in the Quran and the prophetic practice. There is a verse in Chapter al-Baqarah that states: “Whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted abundant wealth” (Quran 2: 269)
“Our Lord! send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 129)
The whole of the Prophet’s life can be explained by the single principle of following divine wisdom. God has created this world in such a way that every person here enjoys freedom. No one has the right to abolish the freedom of another. Thus we have to manage other people’s freedom rather than attempt to abolish it. Islamic wisdom is, therefore, to carry on with your mission while managing the issues that arise on account of other people’s freedom.
Wisdom has been defined as …
- the ability to make correct judgments and decisions
- as foreseeing consequences and acting to maximize beneficial results
- making the best use of available knowledge
- thinking what is best and doing what is best in any given situation
In Islam, wisdom is always linked to virtue. Imam stated that the cardinal virtues to live by are … piety, contentment, patience, gratitude, humility, modesty, generosity, courage, enthusiasm, benevolence, truthfulness and trustworthiness. The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.
“Remember Allah’s Blessings and the (truthful information) sent through the Book and the wisdom it provides by which you may be enlightened.” (Quran 2:23)
It is just possible that the former may enjoy a more prosperous life here in this world but this is not the whole life. It is only a very small portion of the real-life that continues after death. The wise one is he who makes the best use of this short life and makes provision for the prosperity of the eternal life, even if he has been given a small measure of wealth here.
Allah Says only “men of understanding” i.e those who have sound minds and good comprehension with which they understand the words (of advice and reminder) and their implications will benefit from the advice.
Though ‘Book knowledge’ enhances the potential for wisdom; wisdom is often attained by learning:
1. Respect and honour all human beings irrespective of their religion, colour, race, sex, language, status, property, birth, profession/job and so on [17/70]
2. Talk straight, to the point, without any ambiguity or deception [33/70]
3. Choose the best words to speak and say them in the best possible way [17/53, 2/83]
4. Do not shout. Speak politely keeping your voice low. [31/19]
5. Always speak the truth. Shun words that are deceitful and ostentatious [22/30]
6. Do not confound truth with falsehood [2/42]
7. Say with your mouth what is in your heart [3/167]
8. Speak in a civilized manner in a language that is recognized by society and is commonly used [4/5]
9. When you voice an opinion, be just, even if it is against a relative [6/152]
10. Do not be a bragging boaster [31/18]
11. Do not talk, listen or do anything vain [23/3, 28/55]
12. Do not participate in any paltry. If you pass near a futile play, then pass by with dignity [25/72]
13. Do not verge upon any immodesty or lewdness whether surreptitious or overt [6/151].
14. If, unintentionally, any misconduct occurs by you, then correct yourself expeditiously [3/134].
15. Do not be contemptuous or arrogant with people [31/18]
16. Do not walk haughtily or with conceit [17/37, 31/18]
17. Be moderate in thy pace [31/19]
18. Walk with humility and sedateness [25/63]
19. Keep your gazes lowered devoid of any lecherous leers and salacious stares [24/30-31, 40/19].
20. If you do not have complete knowledge about anything, better keep your mouth shut. You might think that speaking about something without full knowledge is a trivial matter. But it might have grave consequences [24/15-16]
21. When you hear something malicious about someone, keep a favourable view about him/her until you attain full knowledge about the matter. Consider others innocent until they are proven guilty with solid and truthful evidence [24/12-13]
22. Ascertain the truth of any news, lest you smite someone in ignorance and afterwards repent of what you did [49/6]
23. Do not follow blindly any information of which you have no direct knowledge. (Using your faculties of perception and conception) you must verify it for yourself. In the Court of your Lord, you will be held accountable for your hearing, sight, and the faculty of reasoning [17/36].
24. Never think that you have reached the final stage of knowledge and nobody knows more than yourself. Remember! Above everyone endowed with knowledge is another endowed with more knowledge [12/76]. Even the Prophet [p.b.u.h] was asked to keep praying, “O My sustainer! Advance me in knowledge.” [20:114]
25. The believers are but a single Brotherhood. Live like members of one family, brothers and sisters unto one another [49/10].
26. Do not make a mockery of others or ridicule others [49/11]
27. Do not defame others [49/11]
28. Do not insult others by nicknames [49/11]
29. Avoid suspicion and guesswork. Suspicion and guesswork might deplete your communal energy [49/12]
30. Spy not upon one another [49/12]
31. Do not backbite one another [49/12]
32. When you meet each other, offer good wishes and blessings for safety. One who conveys to you a message of safety and security and also when a courteous greeting is offered to you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous or (at least) of equal courtesy [4/86]
33. When you enter your own home or the home of somebody else, compliment the inmates [24/61]
34. Do not enter houses other than your own until you have sought permission; and then greet the inmates and wish them a life of blessing, purity, and pleasure [24/27]
35. Treat kindly ” Your parents ” Relatives ” The orphans ” And those who have been left alone in the society [4/36]
36. Take care of ” The needy, ” The disabled ” Those whose hard-earned income is insufficient to meet their needs ” And those whose businesses have stalled ” And those who have lost their jobs. [4/36]
37. Treat kindly ” Your related neighbours, and unrelated neighbours” Companions by your side in public gatherings, or public transportation. [4/36]
38. Be generous to the needy wayfarer, the homeless son of the street, and the one who reaches you in a destitute condition [4/36]
39. Be nice to people who work under your care. [4/36]
40. Do not follow up with what you have given to others to afflict them with reminders of your generosity [2/262].
41. Do not expect a return for your good behaviour, not even thanks [76/9]
42. Cooperate with one another in good deeds and do not cooperate with others in evil and bad matters [5/2]
43. Do not try to impress people on account of self-proclaimed virtues [53/32]
44. You should enjoin right conduct on others but mend your own ways first. Actions speak louder than words. You must first practise good deeds yourself, then preach [2/44]
45. Correct yourself and your families first [before trying to correct others] [66/6]
46. Pardon gracefully if anyone among you who commits a bad deed out of ignorance, and then repents and amends [6/54, 3/134]
47. Divert and sublimate your anger and potentially virulent emotions to creative energy, and become a source of tranquillity and comfort to people [3/134]
48. Call people to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful exhortation. Reason with them most decently [16/125]
49. Leave to themselves those who do not give any importance to the Divine code and have adopted and consider it as mere play and amusement [6/70]
50. Sit not in the company of those who ridicule Divine Law unless they engage in some other conversation [4/140]
51. Do not be jealous of those who are blessed [4/54]
52. In your collective life, make rooms for others [58/11]
53. When invited to dine, Go at the appointed time. Do not arrive too early to wait for the preparation of a meal or linger after eating to engage in bootless babble. Such things may cause inconvenience to the host [33/53]
54. Eat and drink [what is lawful] in moderation [7/31].
55. Do not squander your wealth senselessly [17/26]
56. Fulfill your promises and commitments [17/34]
57. Keep yourself clean, pure [9/108, 4/43, 5/6].
58. Dress up in agreeable attire and adorn yourself with exquisite character from inside out [7/26]
59. Seek your provision only by fair endeavour [29/17, 2/188]
60. Do not devour the wealth and property of others unjustly, nor bribe the officials or the judges to deprive others of their possessions [2/188]
“Messenger. who gave good news as well as warning, that mankind, after (the coming) of the apostles, should have no plea against Allah. For Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (Surah An-Nisa, 165)
Anyone who has wisdom will not adopt the narrow ways of Satan but will follow the broad Way of Allah. Those who are granted true wisdom, on the contrary, spend their wealth generously in good deeds after fulfilling their own necessities of a moderate standard. Wisdom is a bounteous thing that is invaluable, and Allah reminds us in the Quran:
“Whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted something tremendously beneficial, but none reflect except people of insight.” (Quran 2:269)
In the present age, this equation has come to an end. Today if there are Muslims on one side of the equation, there are supporters on the other side. The entire world has become a supporter of Islam. A new revolution has been brought about in the world, which has given us communication, religious freedom, openness, all of which are supportive of the cause of Islam. There was a process that started at the time of the Prophet and this has culminated as a modern civilization today.