01 Mar Taqwah, Common Sense & Wisdom in Pursuit of Da’wah & Mercy
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH THE MOST KIND THE MOST MERCIFUL
Taqwah, Common Sense & Wisdom in Pursuit of Da’wah & Mercy
Hasan Al-Basri once said, “A grain of genuine piety (taqwah) is better than a thousand fold weight of (nafl) fasting and prayer.” Taqwah as we must know is a mode of behaviour which is not only a responsible manner of living, but one that respects Allah. Thus Taqwah is to avoid actions that go against justice or mercy which displeases Allah.
When a person knows oneself and knows what one faces, in any given situation, it becomes a simple issue of deciding what is best for oneself under the circumstances. A normal person would not generally do anything on purpose that is stupid or causes upsets. This is part of plain common sense. With knowledge and practice comes experience, and with experience one improves in having that common sense. Consider Allah and our true positions in front of the Almighty. Would we do anything on purpose that is unjust or cruel so that our action brings about harm for ourselves? Well, sometimes we might and we do, but we can clearly see that Taqwah and common sense go hand in hand.
Some people are gifted with Taqwah by Allah, and they have wisdom in their common sense without the benefit of human education. This gift is a thousand times better than human education because it puts in the heart the qualities that true education tries to build or refine. Of course it is also better in the sense that one gets it without having to spend time, effort and maybe even money, but imagine the shame of having struggled with all that and still not achieving the goals of a true education! The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) could not read or write but does any Muslim doubt that he was the most educated? Imbued with pure faith in its most intense form he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was the wisest and he naturally behaved with the most superior common sense, because Allah made him that way; a mercy to the worlds; who was gifted with the most superior Taqwah. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was a most practical person who always, without fail, did what was right and should be done. Wisdom and common sense became one in him because Allah educated him while he fully submitted to Allah’s guidance.
So, it is a thousand times worse to lose common sense than to have so-called education or knowledge instead! Learn to feel and behave with humility and we will never stop learning. Better still, we will then never cease to be true teachers. It is in this light we try to understand the well-known statement from Imam ash-Shafi’i: Whenever I set myself the task to learn, I realize how little I know, and the more I learn, the more I realize how ignorant I am.
We know that data is not information but some of us carry so much pride because we are storehouses of data.
We know that information is not knowledge yet some of us are so boastful because we can cut and paste excerpts and quotations.
We know that knowledge is not understanding yet some of us are so confident because we presume to have much knowledge.
We know that understanding is not wisdom yet some of us are so eager to change others and the world with our paltry understanding.
Common sense tells us that we should learn, gain wisdom and become better at knowing what is best for us. We need to be wise. I’m afraid wisdom only comes from experience. With all the reading and more than that, talking, that goes on, there are a lot of ideas floated, debated, and commented upon. If we want to be wise then we must ask, how do we get experience out of ideas? We wade through a sea of books but we never seem to get caught up in the world of creative thought! We claim to have gained knowledge and we become intolerant about ideas and interpretations. We hide our ability to even reason against uncomfortable ideas with anger, condemnation, labelling and judgement, and the result is we reject thought. The only thing that gets proven is our bad manners: manners lacking education!
The educated mind should be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. How do we get experience out of knowledge? Experience can be bitter and learning is often bitter, but the fruits of it are always sweet. Experience comes with time and involvement. Some people will never learn anything because they understand everything too soon. Perhaps subconsciously all they are doing is pumping up and satisfying their ego. Genuine empathy with the suffering of others, real concern for being helpful without seeking benefit for oneself except the pleasure of Allah, and a sincere desire for the happiness of others, all seem to become coloured with one’s narrow-minded, sectarian and selfish interests of organisations, income, and authority. We pay a price for this with our souls. “Your souls are precious and can only be equal to the price of Paradise, therefore sell them only at that price.” [Ali ibn Abi Talib]
In the words of Aeschylus, “He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” That is true education. You are not educated if you have not learned how to learn, and change. Real and true education restores, preserves and builds the qualities and potentials that we have lost or forgotten from what had been endowed to Adam and Eve (peace be upon them both) by Allah.
The tragedy of our time is that we live in a highly developed society where anyone who is anything can read but there are still so many illiterates. They are illiterates because they don’t know how to learn or change in tune with wisdom.
Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) said, “Whoever has the following six characteristics does all that is required to make him enter Paradise and avoid Hell: to know Allah and obey him, to know Satan and disobey him, to know the truth and follow it, to know the falsehood and avoid it, to know the life of this world and renounce it, and to know the Hereafter and seek it.”
If you are gifted by Allah with a measure of Taqwah, or by His grace growing in true Islamic education, then we request you most respectfully, please come and strengthen us in our work for da’wah and benevolence. Volunteer at our events because all our work is done by volunteers; opportunities every time to gain from Allah. Let us learn to sail through this life of sweetness, friendship, vows, broken promises and treachery; and let us be brave. In the words of Aeschylus again, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.”