Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


 JAMADI-AWWAL / JAMADI THANI
JUNE 2004
Volume 17-06 No : 210

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Reflections


What is Wisdom?
The New Age Brand Ambassadors of Islam

What is Wisdom?

If Allah’s wisdom is the peak of a high mountain, then to get there, we must take the path of knowledge, over the foothills of understanding

By Md Ziyaullah Khan

One of my friends has a passion of reading something about science fiction and whenever he finds something new and interesting, he comes down all the way from his home and narrates his knowledge which follows an unending session of forensic analysis of the said topic. This time the topic was Machine versus Man. He narrated how the author wrote in his book where he considers this era to be the best of previous. The author was busy in his fantasy land when he said, “the day will come when man- made robots shall dictate man, and hence man shall be its slave” while he has more or less advocated the author. Both of us were busy with our sturdy arguments and justifications when we were intervened by a friend who seemed slim and trim in looks and age was least to prove the knowledge he had which was infinite. I was wondering how a man in his early 20’s could be so dense in his thoughts and knowledge the more I thought the more I was confused. His elaboration pertaining to the anatomy of wisdom was splendid and cornered us as I stared at him with all perplexity and finally I decided to jot out the crux of the session which we trio had that night in the pleasant night of harsh summers here in Nagpur. Every word of his echoed in my ears as he said, “A wise man may not be learned, and a learned man may not be wise. A wise man may utter words of wisdom, but once they are recorded they join the body of knowledge that is generally available to listeners and readers far and wide. Once words of wisdom have been transferred to the realm of knowledge through such mediums as books and tapes, they lose something essential. Of course one may derive so much benefit from them still, but they can’t replace the draught of wisdom from the gushing source- that source is the heart, and what comes from the heart of a wise man passes through his words directly into the heart of the seeker”.

While the more we heard, the more frenzy we turned to know about the anatomy of wisdom, hence we asked, “hey man, tell what is wisdom”? He handled our query with all his wits and senses and presented things just like a compiler of an oxford dictionary as he said, “Most dictionaries define wisdom as: “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning, the thoughtful application of learning; good insight, the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships, good common-sense judgment”. But dictionaries and encyclopedias can tell us only a part of the answer”. He took a pause, we enquired in one voice, “yeah tell us what’s that? “ There is another kind of wisdom that goes beyond philosophy and science, and that is divine wisdom”, he continued. “This is the highest form of wisdom, and it cannot be acquired by human effort alone. Divine wisdom comes from Allah SWT as a blessed gift. Although many will seek this wisdom, only a few ever find it. Like all precious things, it is not easy to acquire, and therefore it is both scarce and precious.”

The Holy Qur’an tells us in Surah Al Baqarah: 2:269. “Allah grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and he to whom wisdom is granted receives indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the message, but men of understanding.” Let us now consider what the Holy Qur’an has to say about those fortunate people whom Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has blessed with wisdom. Again, in Surah Al Baqarah 2:164, we read “Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth; (here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise.”

And then in Surah Yunus 10:5, the Holy Qur’an says ) - “It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty) and measured out stages for her: that you might know the number of years and the count (of time). Nowise did Allah create this but in truth and righteousness. This is how Allah explains his Signs in detail for those who understand.”

The Holy Qur’an asks us, in the most beautiful rhetorical manner,

Say: “Are the blind equal with those who see? Or the depths of darkness equal with light?” (Surah Ar Ra’d 13:16 )

Say: “Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.” ( Surah Al Zumar 39:9) This is how the Qur’an constantly appeals to our hearts, and minds. Muslims are not expected to believe blindly. We are constantly urged to weigh things up, to ponder, to reflect.

If Allah’s wisdom is the peak of a high mountain, then to get there, we must take the path of Knowledge, over the foothills of Understanding, and proceed with patience and perseverance towards the summit. Whether or not we reach there, is another matter. The point is that we must constantly strive, in that direction. And, like any good mountaineer, we must prepare ourselves for the journey.

In the midst of his witty session we intervened, how do we prepare ourselves to receive Allah’s Wisdom? To which he calmly replied, “First, we must cultivate the correct attitude. The keywords are: Sincerity, and Humility. No useful knowledge, understanding or wisdom is possible without Sincerity and Humility. Just consider, for a moment, those people who have the wrong attitude; the ones who are lack sincerity and humility. They are the foolish ones, ignorant, full of false pride and vanity. Allah forbid, we may even sometimes find the seeds of these tendencies within ourselves. Therefore, we must constantly cleanse and purify our hearts and minds, in order to be worthy of Allah’s wisdom. A heart full of false pride, vanity and arrogance has no room for wisdom, so it will remain lost in the darkness.

I am sure that we have all come across people, who know very little and they understand even less; yet they think that they know everything. Remember, “Empty vessels make the most noise.”

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh must have known this, when he said: “Seek knowledge, from the cradle to the grave; seek knowledge, even unto China.” As we grow physically from youth to maturity, so also must we grow emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

Our advancing years should reflect some growing wisdom and understanding of life. The road to wisdom, therefore, starts with a sincere and humble attitude

The writer can be reached at khanziya@rediffmail.com.

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The New Age Brand Ambassadors of Islam

Stars and leaders in their own fields who are Muslims seem to be waking up to their own identity

By Sabith Khan

An interview on BBC world of Irfan Pathan by Karan Thapar, which I saw some days ago got me thinking. Here was a 19 year old pathan speaking of his family, his religion and his faith with a passion that is rarely seen on TV. In an age, when speaking of religion and faith is a strict no-no and a hush-hush affair in the mainstream media, the world was witness to a star sportsman speak up for his faith and belief. And he did it with panache. I told myself : Here is a new brand ambassador of Islam.

During the 1960s’ Muhammad Ali did something similar. He openly and brashly (you must see the movie “Ali” starring Will Smith if you haven’t) denounced the racist lobbies in the United States and declared his faith and name when he had to. A star sportsman that he was, he understood the influence he could have on the lives of millions and used it to better their lives and also to improve the image of Islam. He gained tremendous strength from the religion and the followers gained a lot from him. The most important gain was self-esteem and confidence.

When Ali said: “”It’s not bragging if you can back it up. I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize, but get used to me. Black, confident, cocky — my name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me,” he set the wheels rolling for a revolution which has seen the empowerment of Blacks and Muslims in USA and the world over.

Back home in our own country, stars and leaders in their own fields who are Muslims seem to be waking up to their own identity. At a press conference recently, Shahrukh Khan called for building a strong India, which would be possible only if all the citizens of the country feel secure and there are no communal incidents. Mr.Khan like many others of his ilk has realised that being in their position and representing the faith can only do good to the Muslims.

Muhammad Ali, Shahrukh Khan, Azim Premji – stars in their own right and people with tremendous influence are all Muslims. The fact that they have contributed in so many ways to making our world a better place is undisputed. They would do Islam a great service if they could stand up and speak for the truth when it matters, like how Ali did during his days of glory and most recently after the 9/11 catastrophe. “ I’m a Muslim. I’ve been a Muslim for 20 years. . . . You know me. I’m a boxer. I’ve been called the greatest. People recognize me for being a boxer and a man of truth. I wouldn’t be here representing Islam if it were terrorist. . . . I think all people should know the truth, come to recognize the truth. Islam is peace.” Said Muhammad Ali speaking on September 21, 2001 at a fundraiser for victims of the WTC and Pentagon attacks.

Muslims the world over seem to be quite bad at branding themselves positively. Though as a community we spend millions of dollars on charity, it is not known to the world. Even though we have a heritage which places virtues like hospitality, respect for human life; not many outside the community seem to know it. Unlike the Christians who have literally taken over the copyrights for virtues like “forgiveness” and “love for your enemy”, we are lacking behind in re-enforcing these as Islamic virtues too. Certain positive values and principles have been literally hijacked by others while all the negative connotations have fallen upon the Muslim community. In a world that has become increasingly intolerant of Islam, it is a relief to see some individuals- legends some may say, who are Muslims and are “branding” Islam in a positive light.

Muslims and the religion of Islam has been negatively branded from ages and 9/11 only added to this movement of vilification and slander. In the days to come, we can hope that more number of Muslims who reach the top realise their responsibility towards their faith and their brethren.

The writer can be reached at: sabithullakhan@rediffmail.com.

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News Community Roundup Editorial Letters Trends Karnataka Polls - Commentary Elections-2004 Muslim Perspectives Fast Forward Book Review Features Children's Corner Just For the Young Miscellany Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Question Hour Religion Facts on Faith Quran and Science Role Models Reflections Crossfire Journey to Islam Matrimonial
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