Discovering Wisdom

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One day I will be wise InshaAllah

The Quran is the highest authority in Islam, Allah’s word and is called Al-Hakeem, full of wisdom. The Majestic Quran declares that “Allah gives wisdom to whom He pleases and whoever is given wisdom has received the greatest goodness” (Al-Baqarah: 269). Following the Hajj season and the festival of Qurbani, it is the right time to explore the theme of wisdom, which ought to be the outcome of the pilgrimage and sacrifice.

Wisdom is variously defined as the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgement. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is exemplified in “listen to his words of wisdom.” Its synonyms include sagacity, intelligence, insight, perceptiveness and discernment. Essentially, wisdom is knowing what is right and doing it. It goes beyond knowledge and information; it is the ability to make good decisions and live life well. The scriptures tell us that ‘fear of Allah is the beginning of all wisdom’. Therefore, Taqwa is wisdom. As evident, wisdom is a term with rich meanings. The African sage Luqman was given wisdom, “We gave Luqman wisdom and told him to be thankful, for the one who thanks benefits himself, and the one who is thankless will be the loser” (Luqman: 12).

Wisdom is the practices and teachings of the beloved Messenger

Imam Shafi’ (d. 845 CE), a great jurist, said, “Following the Sunnah of the Prophet is wisdom.” The Quran teaches beliefs, principles of worship and rulings for all aspects of our lives. The Sunnah, or practice of the Messenger (peace be upon him) clarifies, elaborates, and details Quranic principles. The Sunnah comprises his (peace be upon him) sayings, actions, approvals and disapprovals. Therefore, the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him) is wisdom since he is the closest and dearest to Allah.

Understanding wisdom is crucial, especially in an age where many claim to possess it, often disseminating it across social media platforms from podcasts to YouTube to TikTok. We face an epidemic of reckless influencers who, claiming expertise, spread wild ideas and quack remedies, often leading to false information being widely circulated. Such influencers leave us with big bills and little value, prompting us to turn to Allah and spiritual sources. Sometimes, we realise our lack of prayer and charity, leading to repentance. So, how do we become wise? Here are some practical ideas:

1. Follow the Sunnah of the Messenger

The most important teacher of humanity is Muhammad (peace be upon him). To love and follow his way is wisdom – a straightforward path to becoming wise. Allah directs, “Take whatever the messenger gives you, and give up whatever he forbids for you” (Al-Hashar: 7).

2. Find a pious teacher and spiritual guide

Seek an experienced and pious teacher to mentor and guide you spiritually. I have been fortunate to have pious teachers, advisers and friends throughout my life. They teach, share their wisdom and patiently listen to me, providing opportunities for deep reflection and honest conversations.

3. Collect pearls of wisdom

“Say, Lord increase me in knowledge” (Taha: 114). Whenever you come across principles of goodness in pithy phrases and sentences, write them down in a notebook. Collect, learn, and review them daily, then share them with family and friends.

4. Learn to listen attentively

The Quran emphasises ‘good listening.’ Hearing is a physical process, but listening involves converting sound waves into electrical signals that the brain processes into ideas. This requires empathy, a desire to learn and enjoyment of others’ company. The Quran describes disbelievers as deaf – not because they can’t hear, but because they do not listen, understand or believe. To be wise you must be able to listen carefully.

5. Think and reflect

Just as food is digested and broken down into useful molecules in the body, listening to others and contemplating their wisdom initiates a process of thinking, understanding and reflecting. This leads to wisdom. Sadly, many of us undervalue the power of listening, thinking and reflection.

Conclusion

I have concisely defined and presented the benefits of wisdom here and in the hereafter. Wisdom is a valued trait, because of it you can make the right decisions. Most importantly it’s your best tool to get closer to Allah. Being wise encourages you to undertake activities that are important for your destination, Jannah your earnest goal. The Quran can teach us wisdom if we read, understand, live its beautiful teachings and spread it in society. The wise practises them as he follows in the footsteps of the beloved, wise master, Muhammad (peace be upon him). I leave you with Prophet Ibrahim’s prayer “My Lord, grant me wisdom and unite me with the righteous” (Ash-Shuara: 83).