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Knowledge, Insight & Wisdom ~ Islamic Perspective

Watilka al-amthalu nadribuha linnasi
wa ma yaAAqiluha
illaal AAalimoon

And these examples We present to the people,
but none will understand them
except those of knowledge.

~ The Qur'an 29:43

In this information age, interestingly knowledge and wisdom has lost its value and data and information has taken the front seat. For seekers of true knowledge, wisdom are not same as data or information. For him or her, knowledge is that which helps to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, good from evil. Wisdom is that real knowledge which is put into practice and that which helps one to see reality as it truly is and putting things in their proper place and giving proper due to everything. Thus both knowledge and wisdom are far more important than data and information.

Yes the so called modern and godless secular civilization usher people from the light of knowledge and wisdom to ignorance of data and information. If you look at how information is glorified in this modern age you will soon come to realize that more information and more data actually makes people dumb because they lose contact with greater reality since data and information are just the tiny external bits of reality. When knowledge and wisdom are not taken into consideration, excessive data and information are nothing but distractions and killer of precious time / moments.

When we find ourselves immersed in redundant data and information, we lose the baraka or blessings of our time. This is true for all of us who find ourselves embraced by the "smartness" of information age. It claim to make us smart, but on the contrary it does quite the opposite. It blocks our vision (both internal and external) which is gifted with tremendous ability to penetrate much deeper realities in this world and other dimensions (alam al-ghaib).

Wisdom works in the domain of timelessness. Every scientist know that great discoveries always happen in a flash of insight, it appeared in a moment. Great intuition and wisdom are timeless. Then knowledge. And worse are information and data in terms of baraka of time. You may scan through hundreds of Facebook status in a day and yet gain nothing but lose your time. You may watch whole day news from the manipulating news media and yet will gain almost zero sum knowledge. That is how time is robbed of its blessings when we deal with data and information. On the contrary when we practice insight and wisdom, much is achieved in small amount of time or in no time. That is why greatly wise beings achieved much in short span of time and yet ordinary people with no wisdom can not achieve little even in entire lifetime.

Wisdom and Knowledge in Islam is thus mentioned as grace of God.

Quoted below are from the writings of Abdullah Ansari of Herat (translated by Nahid Angha) on the stations of knowledge, insight and wisdom:


Knowledge is understanding and according to Spiritual Masters of Islam they are of three kinds:

  • rational knowledge (istidlali)
  • academic-homiletic knowledge (ta'limi), and
  • divinely-infused esoteric knowledge (ladunni).

Rational knowledge represents the fruition of human intelligence, the result of experiences, and the domain of differentiation and discrimination by means of which human beings are honored and ranked according to various degrees.

Academic-homiletic knowledge is what is learned from books or acquired from the instructions of teachers.

Divinely-infused esoteric knowledge is of three kinds: the wisdom of viewing the divine handiwork that is obtained through seeing the signs of God during contemplation; the next is the knowledge of divine Reality in one's transactions with God with certain signs; and the third kind is the knowledge of the divine Will through contemplation of the invisible realm, and that knowledge belongs to Khidr.


From the field of knowledge the field of insight is generated. God the Most High says, "He gave you hearing and sight." (16:78)

Sight (basar) is what helps one to see and is of three kinds:

  • of intellect,
  • that of wisdom, and 
  • that of the the heart's intuition

There are three benefits which the sight of intellect grants: one is to distinguish between what is useful and what is harmful to oneself, and to endeavor and recognize the consequences of one's actions, all of which will liberate one from blame and reproach.

Next is to distinguish the different levels of people, the tolerance of people according to their temperament, their powers of intelligence.

The third benefit of sight is that it enables one to apprehend the most appropriate thing to do in every task, every moment and in respect to every person, and thus one becomes attired in wondrous deeds. And all of this is the result of intelligence, besides which everything else is but misery and tribulation.

Insight based on wisdom has three signs. The first is that one exhibits compassion towards all creation, so that all animosity vanishes; the second is that one perceives how good is apportioned in everything so that all hurry and haste dissolve away; and the third is contemplation of God's signs in His various handiworks so as to increase one's intimacy and joy in Him. Such is the path of those who profess friendship and are intimate with God.

And the sight of the heart's intuition is of three kinds: insight that is based on experience and this is the sight of those who distinguish; that which is based on reasoning and that is the sight of the intellectuals; and that which is based on the vision of the heart, and this is the light which the faithful believers have in their heart.

The kind of intuition which is based on interior vision (firasat i nazari) is a light that shines upon the heart of the wayfarer and is direct, or else a recurring thought which enters the heart and turns out to be true or else an irrefutably certain knowledge directly obtained from the invisible reality. Such knowledge belongs to Khidr.


God, the Most High says, "He grants wisdom to whom He pleases." (2:269)

Wisdom is seeing something as it really is. It is noble rank between intelligence and knowledge, and granted to and shared among the prophets and friends of God. Wisdom is of three ranks: that of seeing, that of speaking, and third is that of living according to the light of wisdom.

Wisdom in respect to the rank of seeing is to recognize each act properly for what it actually is, putting each things in its proper place, understanding every individual in accordance with his/her proper place. This is the "EYE OF WISDOM" (ayn i hikmat)

Wisdom in respect to the rank of speaking involves conducting one's discourse within the proper boundaries to which it pertains, perceiving the ultimate implications and consequences of every discourse at the beginning of that discourse, and apprehending the interior significance of every discourse from its outer appearance. This is the foundation of wisdom.

However, living in accordance to wisdom means maintaining the right balance between compassion and complaint in one's dealings with people, and in maintaining a balance between hope and fear when dealing with one's self, and in maintaining a balanced interaction between awe and intimacy when dealing with God. And this is the final fruition of wisdom. So understand!

# Further:



* Khidr, friends of God and ilm ladunni

* Moses and Khizr | Esoteric Narrative of Tasawwuf

* Qur'an and the Realities of Time


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Technology of the Heart: Knowledge, Insight & Wisdom ~ Islamic Perspective
Knowledge, Insight & Wisdom ~ Islamic Perspective
What is the Islamic perspective of Knowledge, Insight and Wisdom?
Technology of the Heart
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