Early Muslims chose their spouses by seeking someone with quality, comprising knowledge, wisdom and character, because they wanted their children to inherit these qualities. Contrast that with our modern criteria for gaining friends, companions, husbands or wives.
Sometimes, knowledge and wisdom are unrelated to age, but the norm is that wisdom increases with age. An early scholar concluded that the more we live, the more our body will weaken, and the more the intellect increases, and the more the wisdom increases. He reminded us not to allow our remaining days to make us ignorant, but utilise them to increase our knowledge and wisdom.
It is believed that the people with intellect are at peace, and the people with foolishness are in misery. One of the early imams came across a very wise boy. The imam enjoyed the boy’s speech, character and wisdom and posed the following question to him:
“What do you think about King so and so? He wants someone like you, and he is planning to give that person half of his kingdom, in exchange for half of his foolishness. Will you accept?”
The boy replied that if he received the wealth with the King’s foolishness, the foolishness will make him spend the money while he retained the foolishness! He preferred to remain a wise person without money, for it was better than being a King but a fool.
THE WISDOM OF SHARING KNOWLEDGE
How many of us have wasted precious time trying to argue with someone who is ignorant, does not want to know anything, and is not seeking knowledge? We still try to share knowledge with him even though the efforts are futile? The fool here is us!
A sage said: “The ultimate foolishness is to give to the wisdom, or to share wisdom, with whom that does not ask for it, or to whom does not deserve it, or to whom who do not want it, or to whom who do not seek it.”
You will be a fool if you try to listen or argue with a fool.
The early people were not chatterboxes who used to babble from sunrise to sunset. They actually used to talk very little, but their brief words containing were rich with wisdom. Today, we say a lot, but without content, understanding or comprehension! How many hours have we spent making small talk, or discussing irrelevant issues, the latest movies or sporting event? Some people can talk of entertaining trivia all day and night, but at the end of it, such knowledge is useless to our practical affairs and does not enrich us in the slightest.
Someone asked Ali RA for the distance between the earth and the sky. He said: Accepted du’a. They asked him the distance between east and west. He said: A journey of the sun per day. Such philosophical questions were pointless, and therefore he deflected a protracted conversation with his brief replies. Look at his wisdom!
Knowledge is like an ocean, but the best form of wisdom is that which leads you to a beautiful character and manner. One of the signs of the intellect is swift comprehension. The wise is the one who grasps such knowledge, and implements it in his life. This is how wisdom is attained: when he substitutes his ignorance with knowledge.
Many people have knowledge, but that knowledge has no potency if not implemented. We see scholars teaching us of virtues and merits of Islam, but they lack the quality simply because they do not live that knowledge out. Iblis is more knowledgeable than humankind, for he has been in existence even before the human race was born, but his failure to apply that knowledge to himself doomed him to eternal torture and wrath of Allah.
It is said that the fool is like hardened clay: it cannot be shaped or dealt with easily.
One of the early people advised that the best thing we can gain in life is intellect which helps us to live our life. If we cannot find it, then the next best is a good companion who will cover our foolishness. If you do not have that, money that is spent in generosity that maybe the people will love you. If we have none of the above, then to be silent, so that people do not know how foolish we are! If all else fails, he advised to wait for death to take you!