The Exercise of Hikmah ... Wisdom

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Highlights Values: Education, Knowledge, Wisdom Views: 51629

Defining Wisdom

Wisdom has been defined as ...

  1. the ability to make correct judgments and decisions
  2. as foreseeing consequences and acting to maximize beneficial results
  3. making the best use of available knowledge
  4. thinking what is best and doing what is best in any given situation

Hikmah (denoting 'wisdom') is a positive term used repeatedly in the Quran as a characteristic of the righteous [Quran 2:251; Quran 4:54; Quran 5:110], as a quality of those who truly understand [Quran 31:12].

  1. The Quran is referred to as the Wise Quran [Quran 36:2]; the Book of Wisdom the verses of a Book of Wisdom [Quran 10:2; Quran 13:2]
  2. Wisdom is referred to as an integral component of the Message and Guidance provided by Divine Revelation ... taught the Book, the wisdom, the Gospel and the Torah [Quran 5:110]
  3.  and even the Almighty refers to Himself as The Mighty , The Wise [Quran 2:209].
  4. When Prophet Abraham prayed for the fulfillment of the mission of prophets, he prayed for one who would " relate scripture to the people, convey hikmah (wisdom) and provide a means of purification." [Quran 2:129]
  5. Hikmah is the lost property of the Believer; the Prophet Muhammad said and he encouraged us to take wisdom from any source.
  6. in the case of debating and argumentation, hikmah should be the primary instrument [Quran 16:125]

Hikmah (Wisdom), 'Aql (Mind)

At times the word hikmah is interchanged with 'aql; as evidenced in the saying of Sayedna 'Ali, the tongue of a wise person is behind the heart and the heart of a fool is behind the tongue.

Hikmah & 'Ilm

Though 'ilm (knowledge) may open the doorways to hikmah, but hikmah is distinct from 'ilm. Knowledge and information provides means for enlightenment ; 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]

  1. The Prophet said ask the learned, consult with the wise and accompany the poor.
  2. There are many who know many things, yet are lacking in wisdom. [Ancient Greek philosopher, Democritus]
  3. In our age... people seem more than ever prone to confuse wisdom with knowledge, and knowledge with information, [author and poet, T.S. Eliot]
  4. Philosophy is harmonized knowledge making a harmonious life; it is the self-discipline which lifts us to serenity and freedom. Knowledge is power, but only wisdom is liberty. [Philosopher & writer, Will Durant]
  5. The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. - [Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988 ]

Though 'book knowledge' enhances the potential for wisdom; wisdom is often attained by learning in other ways; By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and Third by experience, which is the bitterest. [Ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius]

Virtue & Wisdom

Ethics is the branch of philosophy which attempts to understand the nature of morality; to define that which is right from that which is wrong. Ancient Roman orator, Cicero said; "The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil." The Ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, suggested that the four cardinal virtues are wisdom, courage, self-control and justice.

In Islam, wisdom is always linked to virtue. "You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the capacity for hearing, sight, and the intellect, and you are responsible for using them effectively. You shall not walk with arrogance on earth - you cannot bore through the earth, nor can you be as tall as the mountains. All impropriety is condemned by your Lord. This is of the wisdom inspired to you by your Lord. You shall not set up another object of worship beside God, lest you end up in hell; blamed and defeated." [Quran 17:36-39]

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq stated that the cardinal virtues to live by are ... piety, contentment, patience, gratitude, humility, modesty, generosity, courage, enthusiasm, benevolence, truthfulness and trustworthiness.

Effective Wisdom

Wise ones have said that the height of wisdom is to proportion our wants to our possessions, our ambitions to our capacities, our emotions to our conscience and our deeds to our values it is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. [Gandhi]

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. [Ancient Greek playwright, Euripides]

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]


  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Highlights  Values: Education, Knowledge, Wisdom
Views: 51629

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Older Comments:
I found the article very insightful and love the fact that Sadullah Khan is practicing what he is preaching and gleaning wisdom from many different sources including what others might call "disbelievers", but who Allah called "the people of the book". We need to study and learn our religion. It helps to free us from the sin of arrogance and judging others. Heaven is not only for the Muslims.

Jazakallah... beautiful article

I dont understand why this so called scholar with so many titles has to quote from the disbelievers who didnt recognise their creator in their whole life. Is he saying that these people who he has quoted are wise to take wisdom from their sayings. He could have quoted from many of our pious predecessors instead. The source of wisdom is Taqwa. Without the fear of Allah, no one can get the wisdom.
8:29 O you who have attained to faith! If you remain conscious of God [fear Allah], He will endow you with a standard by which to discern the true from the false, and will efface your bad deeds, and will forgive you your sins: for God is limitless in His great bounty.

One should check this statement "the Prophet Muhammad said and he encouraged us to take wisdom from any source ....." while Allah has sent us Quran full of wisdom. Further the author does not give any proof for this statement he makes from the Hadith. These kind of opinions should be supported by ample proof.

If a person believes in Allah, cultivates the fear of Allah, lives according to the commandments of Allah, follows the complete sunnah, ponders on the ayahs revealed by Allah, Allah will grant him wisdom which will help him to distinguish betweem right and wrong, take the right decisions, present Islam to non muslims, and spread the deen of Allah according to the way of Prophet SAWS.

I dont mean to criticise the author but i feel these kind of articles give mixed messages to the readers.


jazakallahu khair for such an informative article. Thanks a lot.

There is only one type of wisdom worth seeking and that is Divine Wisdom. People who have experienced this Oneness understand the langauge of such wisdom. The pre-requisite condition for finding such wisdom is to relinquish ones own so-called wisdom. Yet this is not to say that such human wisdom is not going to serve humanity but Divine Wisdom is the most effective way of finding peace even in turmoil and thus extending it to friend and foe. For example God alone forgives all sins, yet most humans can hardly forgive a loved one for doing them wrong let alone forgiving a stranger! If we want to be god-like then we must take on qualites of God. He is All-Forgiving. Can we be so? We love reading the Quran but somehow fail to apply it, if the state of our nations is an indicator of the sort of wisdom we apply.

I think this article highlights some of the important issues of our times which are lacking in all of us. We lack patiance, we are becoming increasingly intollerant of each other, we are making fun of those who know less than us like some Western scientist, we make fun of those who own less than us like some Western fool, we have a 'caste' system in place based upon wealth ever since we got occupied. The guards at the House of God in Makkah are dressed in colonial uniforms which I don't have to say are non muslim! yet no one takes notice of these things. Perhaps we are living in the times decribed in the hadith that says; 'you will follow the ways of those before you even if they bend to look into a hole, you will do the same'!