“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein
I was talking to the Wise Old Man the other day. I have not seen him for quite some time so it was definitely a long chat. As we were catching up on things, the topic of ‘guidance’ came up. Then, I voiced out my grouses about certain Islamic scholars who do not conform in their personal life, what they preached or represents in their public life, . It is as if, they are acting out a role in a play in their public life.
The Wise Old Man told me that no matter how highly qualified a person is in the knowledge of Islam, it does not mean that the person has full grasp or the understanding of such knowledge. The Wise Old Man said that anyone can acquire knowledge but many people forget that the understanding and guidance comes from God Al Mighty.
And if We had willed, surely! We would have given every person his guidance, but the Word from Me took effect (about evil-doers), that I will fill Hell with jinn and mankind together.
Surah As-Sajdah 32:13
Acquiring knowledge basically involves the act of studying and memorizing but to really understand what has been learnt, is not something that everyone can accomplish.
“Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “In the last days of this world there will appear some young foolish people who will use the best speech of all people (i.e. the Quran), but they will abandon Islam as an arrow going through the game. Their belief will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have practically no belief), so wherever you meet them, kill them, for he who kills them shall get a reward on the Day of Resurrection.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Despite that, the Wise Old Man said that I should not judge them for their lack of understanding of the knowledge that they possess as only God alone has the power to judge His creations. It is His Will that they are ignorant. Errrr…..Ouch!
So I sat there, thoroughly chastised for my folly but I was not satisfied. I mean, this can’t be it! It would then be so easy for any human to put the blame on God for one’s weaknesses or wrongdoings. I mean anyone can easily say that their sins are also Will of God hence they should not be blamed for it. Seriously! That can’t be right. So, I spoke out my dissatisfaction about his explanation to the Wise Old Man again.
The Wise Old Man squinted his eyes at me and peered down his glasses. I thought then, oh boy! Here comes the lecture! As I braced myself for the verbal onslaught, I was surprised that none came! Instead, the Wise Old Man said, “You know, you are right. Humans do use God as an excuse for their wrongdoing by saying that it is their fate". Excuse me! What? Am I am hearing it right? Did he just agree with me? Hhmmmmm… there must be a catch somewhere. I looked at him suspiciously and said, “Please elaborate”.
Then the Wise Old Man explained. He said that the understanding and guidance comes from God Al Mighty and He will grant it to whomever He wishes.
“Not upon you (Muhammad SAW) is their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills. And whatever you spend in good, it is for yourselves, when you spend not except seeking Allah's Countenance. And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.”
Surah Al Baqara 2:272
“And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”
Surah Ibrahim 14:4
However, that does not mean that we do not strive or seek for guidance and understanding from Him. Acquiring knowledge, according to the Wise Old Man, is like any other act of worship in Islam i.e. it has to start with the right intention. If the intention to acquire the knowledge is solely for the sake of God then InSha Allah, God Al Mighty will bless the knowledge that we seek and will grant us the understanding with it. Once we have the have the knowledge coupled with the understanding then our intention to share must also be right i.e. with the honest hope that others can benefit too and not just to show off our intellect.
However, if the intention is just to add another title to our CV or just to increase our status benchmark amongst our peers, then what we will get is a skeletal devoid of any spirit. Knowledge without understanding is like a machine without a manual. You can still operate it but you will never reap the benefit of its full usage.
So, moral of the story, before embarking on the path of knowledge, ensure that our intention is true. Oh…..and also….never judge the conduct or action of others…..*feeling sheepish*….