Channel: Hamza Yusuf
Throughout human history, great philosophers, leaders, and thinkers devoted their lives toward the pursuit of wisdom. Countless pages and lines of poetry extol the qualities of the wise person. In this podcast, Hamza Yusuf explains the Quranic definition of wisdom and the prerequisite knowledge to achieve it.
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Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim, masala Lucha aniseed you know Mohammed and while it will save you will send them to steamer a Samadhi calm rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Al Hamdulillah. We're here again for another sacred text message. So this is an age of text messages and people forget that Allah subhanho wa Taala actually has texted us with his message and it's in the book of Allah subhanho wa Taala. He has sent constantly guidance to this species. And there are those who follow it and those who reject it. And then there are those poor souls that have never even heard of it. And those of us who have heard of it, may Allah Subhana Allah forgive us for not conveying that message to the
people around us. When I was I brought a beautiful Mauritanian scholar to the United States. Many years ago, she had hoped that he would wave a really, really beautiful man, very learned who is what they call a deep, he was a beautiful grammarian from a grammatical family and he he knew all the poetry of the Arabs, he actually memorized a book called
that's, it's like the Norton's anthology of Arabic literature. And he memorized the whole book by rote It was really quite stunning. And he could just recite from any of the great poets and I was once in a taxi with him in Arabia in the hijas. And the taxi driver quoted something from from one of the while apart, and then she had happily just quoted the whole more alaka to him, is really quite remarkable. But he was also somebody who knew quite a bit of fare and other things he loved the Quran is he still teaches the Quran to children in Mauritania. So he was somebody, I think,
who we would call a wise man. But one of the things that he did while he was here, if we ever introduced him to a non Muslim, he would immediately say,
he's not a Muslim. And I'd say he's not a Muslim, we'd speak in Arabic. He said, tell him that I have a word for him, that if he will say it, and believe it, that it will remove all of his difficulties, it will remove his grief, it'll he'll be able to sleep at night peacefully. And it's a shadow a la ilaha illallah wa shadow Muhammad Rasul Allah. And that's what he was saying, I would translate and nobody ever took offense, it was really quite stunning. And they always saw it as something just because he was so sincere. But I asked him about it later. He said, I don't want these people on Yom Okayama to come up to me and say, I met you and you never told me about this
religion. And he did it consistent with every single non Muslim that he met. It was really quite remarkable. I would not recommend doing it like that. Because he for some reason, just by the blessing of Allah, he could get away with it. But I think we would be remiss if we did not at least try to let people know that we're Muslims, and if they were interested, that that we could, because not everybody's interested, but some people genuinely are. So wisdom. It's such an interesting concept. One of the things that the Quran tells us is Lapa, demesne Allah, Allah Allah and more meaning if batha Fie him Rasulullah
Allah has blessed the believers by sending from them a messenger, but at the VM rasuna minim fusi him yet through him, yet he will use a key him. Will you allow Mohamed keytab or will matter what in cattlemen? babalola feel Buhari mobian so that's in Surah embrun but there's a similar iteration in sorta to Joomla in the chapter called the Friday congregation. But basically, Allah sent this messenger minim fusi him there's a
shadow Gara that says man I'm fesi him from from their souls but also from the most precious amongst them. And yet to do it him is he he recites to them these signs, we use a key him and he he purifies them use a key him to Ischia. We will eliminate them and he teaches them and key taba will hikma, the book and the Wisdom. So one of the things it's not enough to know simply the book, you have to have the wisdom that accompanies the book. There's a lot of people
that have no wisdom in their behavior. They might be very devout Muslims, but they don't. act wisely. One of the things that share havdalah bimby I've heard him say this many times. He says our scholars many of them know ma Allah.
Well, I can lay out for Lima palala many scholars know what God has said but they don't know why he said it. And the Why is very interesting because in Western tradition, traditional wisdom is about causes the why it really is about why scientists today what they call empirical science is all about how
or what, but it's not about why they can't tell you why they can explain things but they don't know why. And so in this we're told that the Prophet was sent to teach solar I didn't send him the book, and the wisdom the Hikmah, waiting cannibal Kabbalah fuel but Adam mobian even if they had been in manifest error before this book, and then Allah subhanaw taala in Surah Baqarah says what guru Namah tala here at a comb, woman's Medical Minute kitabi will ACMA you're able to convey? So, remind with Kuru be reminded of the blessings of God upon you and what he has revealed to you from the book and the Wisdom you're able to convey. He is exhorting you with with it. And so,
wisdom here, according to mom, Chef, in his famous book called the reseller, which is really the foundational book of all solid, or the, the fundamentals of jurisprudence, he said, The hikma here means the Sunnah of the Prophet. So the the wisdom is how the Prophet acted. And one of the things about the prophets applies to them is that he did in every situation, he understood it to be a unique situation. He was not somebody who simply applied the same thing to every situation. So I'll give an example. Some people came to the Prophet slicin. And they said, they said, they doubted this meat that they had, and the Prophet said some Miller, what could be semi latha macoun, just say,
Bismillah and then eat it. When they left. I shut up and I asked him, Why did you say that? He said, they're new in Islam. And then also he understood that they hunger was a real serious problem in the Arabian Peninsula, he was making it easy for them to say, say Bismillah and then eat it. Because they were at one level. And this is how he understood things. And a lot of us, people become new Muslims. And suddenly they're expected to be like the Sahaba even though the people that are teaching them certainly aren't like the Sahaba I mean, I had a situation many years ago, it really broke my heart, but I had a situation where this woman became Muslim.
And the first thing she asked me about was makeup. And and there was other women in the room. You know, it was because I was teaching a class and then and and it just struck me as odd why she would ask. And so I said, No, don't make us not, don't worry about makeups no problem. Well, the other one got really angry because apparently told her that makeup was haraam.
Whereas I would never like a new Muslim. You know, that's just not what you want to focus on. They have to get established in their religion. A little bit later, she actually said Shahada with me a little bit later, I asked about her and they said, Oh, she left Islam and I said, Why? And they said, Oh, they said she had to divorce her husband. So these are the type problems that we have in our community of just not having hikmah. hikma is such an important thing, that Allah subhanaw taala again in Surah Baqarah says you Attila hickmott, amania woman you have to or you tell haik mata pocket udia hieron kathira or Maya Kuru ill, Ola Al Bab. So he gives wisdom to whomever he pleases.
And whoever has been given wisdom has been given a great thing. A great good, but
only those who have deep inner understanding l BB lube is like the inner core people of innermost core. They're the ones that recollect this truth. And so it's really, really important for us to recognize that wisdom is very important. So what is wisdom? Well, I'm just want to look at what
in traditional Western tradition because hikma was very important in, in Greece, in fact, the philosophy the philosophy is the love of Sophia of wisdom. And, and so, and that came from Pythagoras because originally this the the Sophos, called themselves wise, but Pythagoras thought it was arrogant, so he said, I'm not wise but I'm a lover of wisdom, out of his humility and
And so, wisdom Sophia in Greek is, is, according to Aristotle, it's the highest level of the intellect. So Aristotle defines and our Muslim tradition took this taxonomy of the intellect from Aristotle. So we'll find this in our books. Aristotle defined five intellectual virtues. So two were practical, what he called techny. And fro nesis. This is what we would call, like, thin. And then practical wisdom. hikma amellia. So it'd be like, craftsmanship, or artisanship. So knowing how to do something, like a carpenter has a kind of techni, like an teknon, in in Greek meant an artisan, right? That's where we get technology is the study of craft, right? And so, an architect is the
master craftsman. So rk means ruler, and technique is his craft. So it's the ruling craft. So the architect is the rule. He's the ruler of the craftsman, because he's the one that has the whole picture. So that the carpenters are down there building the building, but it's the architect who has the building in his mind. And in his blueprint, he's the one that sees the whole picture. So he's the master. So that technique is a type of intellectual virtue of knowing how to do something. And then for nice, this is practical wisdom. So for instance, in medicine, when when a physician
is is taken to court, they will all have these expert witnesses to determine whether it was malpractice or not. And what they'll say is, would a prudent doctor have done this in other words, somebody who had practical wisdom, who had what we call prudence Prudential from the Latin Prudential, which is Sophia, or fournisseurs, in Greek is Prudential in Latin, which is where we get our word prudence, which is different from wisdom. So it's practical wisdom there, it's called them both hikma and then you move into the higher order of the intellect, which is in Arabic, it's the news. I mean, sorry, in Greek, it's called news. And then the pista, me, and then the, the Sofia, in
archers, it was heads, which is the intuitive power. In other words, it's, it's knowing things, like for instance, we know that the whole is greater than the part, we just know that you can't prove that there's no proof for it. It's, it's simply a self evident truth. Like you either get it or you don't, if you don't, then most people would consider Microsoft Alec, it's just something, you know, you're, for whatever reasons, your intellect never matured enough to grasp those. And there are people like that, unfortunately. So the next is a pista MI, which is CNC and Latin. So this, the cncf in Latin, is, is basically what we would call in its its knowledge. And so that type of
knowledge, you know, science is basically certain knowledge through causes. So it's knowing something through causes. And so, that means, you know, the why. So, for instance, science is basically knowing why So for instance, if I say, in zaidan barraba Omron if you know why zayde is monsoon,
and I'm his mom, sobe then you know, the why of grammar that in and her sisters make the subject, monsoon and the predicate metaphor, that that's the why and so you will know that and, and Aristotle said, That's why a wise man can teach because he knows the wise.
WHY s he knows the wise so his wisdom is in knowing the wise he's wise, because he knows the wise. And so that when, when, when, when the Quran says where whoever is given wisdom, well, what are the attributes of a wise human being? In the Western tradition, Aristotle actually gives a specific definition of a wise human being. He says, a man is said to be wise, who knows all things, even difficult things with certitude and knowledge of the cause who seek science for its own sake, and orders and persuades others so those are six attributes that he's defined a wise person. The first is he must know all things well, how you know all things because you know God, if you know God, you
know all things, because everything is contained in God. And so that's the highest knowledge and that's the prophetic knowledge. So if you know God, you know all things.
What is it Eunice Ma, that famous Turkish poet says that kulu mata wellhow mozillian fee that is everything that you desire exists with God. So everything. So once you know God every you know the why of all things because
Allah created everything. So if you know that you know the why of all things.
So that is the first thing, and then he must know difficult things not easily attainable by all. So, the most difficult things are the most abstract things. And this is why we tend to recognize intelligence, the more people can grasp, abstract things, difficult things, the higher level of intelligence we see in them, but the most abstract thing in the world is understanding what we cannot understand, which is God. So our knowledge of God has a negative knowledge we we know that you hate law, but we don't know God's essence we can never know God's essence. So it's a negative knowledge is called the via negative in the Western tradition. And in in our tradition, it's the
salvia operetta salvia. It's what God is not is what we know. They said committee he shared, the highest thing that you can know about God is God is one, but even his oneness because he's infinite. So we cannot know or understand that we can only grasp some portion of it through our knowledge of the nature of one, that one and Allah loves with her in the law with Rui hibbett Witter. He's odd and he loves the art. And one of the things that Protagoras said about the odd he said the odd is form, and, and delineation or demarcation, it gives meanings to things, the odd, so meaning comes through the art. And he said that the event is formless, that and non delimit delimiting. And, and,
and his proof for that is very interesting proof. He said, If you take square numbers, there's a clear pattern in square numbers. So if you take like, the first square root is one, right and then you add it to the next odd number, you get the first square number which is four, which is the square number of two squared. And then if you add the next odd number to that, so you add
three to five, note, if you add four to five, you get nine which is the square number of three squared. And then if you add the next square number, that seven to nine, you get 16, which is the square of of a four square to square number four, next one's 25. Next one's 3649. It goes on. So there's an incredible pattern because Allah loves the art. So he put that pattern in the odd out of Where's even doesn't have that pattern is really amazing. These are some of the mysteries of, of numbers, but and then he must have certitude concerning what he knows. So a wise man does not have opinion, he has certainty. And the most important thing to be certain about is Allah subhana wa
Tada. So if you're certain about Allah, you are wise, and and a real certainty. It's not the fanatic. You know, the fanatic has a certitude that is more about his own fear. Because he's so frightened of having to think. So he just stops thinking, that's not real certitude. That's just fanaticism. That's why fanatics hate anything that challenges their faith. Whereas a truly wise man is never taken aback by anything that would, quote unquote, challenge his faith, because he's open to listening to the atheist, give his proofs because he knows that the atheist is lost in his own darkness, but not out of fanaticism, out of his own certitude of the existence of God. And then he
must be able to give the causes of what is investigated and so able to teach. So in any science that the wise man knows, he can teach it, or she can teach it, because he or she knows the causes. They know why the these are multiple ads. They know why these are so bad in grammar, we know why this is in the subjective case, we know why it's subjective mood, we know why this is optative we know why this is a predicate as opposed to a subject, and on and on those wise enable you to teach. And then his science must be desirable for itself, not wished for some practical purpose such as that of providing the necessities of life or for entertainment. So what's interesting, there's three basic
types of Sciences in the world. One of them are the utilitarian sciences.
utilitarian sciences are the sciences that we need just to survive as a species or to make our life more comfortable. So for instance, agriculture is utilitarian science.
Nobody knows the name of the planet.
A fellow that worked out about phosphates and potassium and, and how to enhance agricultural growth, because he was a utilitarian scientists. So nobody knows. Nobody knows the name of the poor man that invented the air conditioner. Even though like in many countries now the air condition is like one of their greatest blessings, yet they don't know the name of the man who invented the aircon, just because it's a utilitarian art. Nobody knows the name, I actually know his name. And because I feel like we should honor this man all over the world. Cylon in the first century invented paper. And yet very few people know that he invented paper. Nobody knows a man who invented the washing machine.
Why? Because these are all utilitarian arts. Whereas we know the fine artists and the speculative artists and we honor them, the fine artists give us pleasure in their art. And so we honor actors and musicians and, and and and people that can do all these wonderful things. And we know their names and people why because they give people pleasure. It's not it's there's nothing useful in what they're doing. Other than maybe recreation, but we honor them because it's above the utilitarian arts, but the highest is the specular of arts, those things that are studied solely for their own sake. And the highest of these things are things that that that like theology, like just knowledge
And then the liberal arts, which are, those are the arts that are studied to enable you to think deeply about the speculative arts. So they in themselves, are considered studied for their own sake, but they're a ladder to the highest, which is things like theology and metaphysics, and these are the these are the high Arts in our tradition, and also in the, in the Western tradition, which is where they dovetail And surprisingly, our scholars gave so much to the Western tradition. It's really quite stunning when it's, it's it and it's sad that they don't know how much that our tradition has given them. But these are all came from the Quran, from the wisdom of the Quran. The
entire Islamic civilization is predicated on the book and the hikma on on the Quran, and on the hikma they're all just, they're just they're all just extra from from from from that and I mean that's quite stunning when you think about that they all just came from without without the Quran there is no because Ali there's no even Sina there's no none of these people would have ever had what they did, they might have done other things and but not what they gave the world. And, and so it's it's just it's remarkable. So wisdom is a great thing. And we have an entire chapter
named after one of the wisest men that ever lived who is locked man. And Allah subhana wa tada says about him. Wanaka Tina lock man and hikma and ash goodly,
we gave Lockman wisdom that you should be grateful to God. And that's the highest wisdom is just gratitude for the blessing of being alive. What a gift from Allah subhanho wa Taala to be grateful for our lives. This is such a great wisdom. So if you're in a state of gratitude, the Prophet sallallahu Sallam said, if you're able, be grateful for whatever Allah sends you, but if you're not able, at least be patient,
but if you're able, be grateful for whatever Allah sends you,
because if it's from Allah is for wisdom, it's for a hikma and he's Hakeem Alhamdulillah