“The Perfection of Knowledge Leads to the Realization of Being Ignorant”

salamu `alaykum

Hakimul Ummah stated:

“When one attains the perfection of knowledge then at this juncture does one realize that he is ignorant. Maulana Mahmud Hasan (Allah have mercy on him) would say that studying our whole lives resulted in going from a state of compound ignorance (jahl murakkab) to that of simple ignorance (jahl basit).”

(Anfaase `Isa, Pg: 278)

“Compound Ignorance” (jahl murakkab) is mainly characterised by the refusal of the claimant to admit to his own ignorance, his own lack of insight regarding specifics, and his constant pummeling of “I know! I know! I know!” when in reality such a person does not know anything. This is opposed to jahl basit (simple ignorance). The latter is characterised by a sense of not knowing i.e. the person knows that he does not know. It is “basic unawareness”. Rather, we learn from the narrations of the companions that saying “I dont know” is in actuality a type of “knowing” as the person knows that he does not know and can thus easily be remedied and taught.

It is narrated by Ibn `Abd al Barr in his Jami` Bayan al `Ilm:

قال عبد الملك بن أبي سليمان :[ سئل سعيد بن جبير عن شيء فقال : لا أعلم ثم قال : ويل للذي يقول لما لا يعلم : إني أعلم

“`Abd al Malik ibn Abi Sufyan said: Sa`id ibn Jubayr was asked about something and he said, ‘I do not know’. He then said, ‘Woe to the one who says about what he does not know ‘I know’.'”

Similarly, it is stated that `Abdullah ibn `Umar would consider it a blessing to be asked of something he did not know and state “I have no knowledge of it” as Ibn `Abd al Barr also relates:

فلما ولى الرجل قال : نعما قال عبد الله بن عمر سئل عما لا يعلم فقال : لا علم لي به

As John Templeton said: “If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.” Search, ofcourse, for true and beneficial knowledge…




Filed under General, Tasawwuf

7 responses to ““The Perfection of Knowledge Leads to the Realization of Being Ignorant”

  1. Jazakallah Khairan. May Allah guide us all.

  2. Fahim

    This is so true. May Allah give us all the tawfiq to comprehend it. I like your selections.

  3. masha’Allah. i was reading once how even if someone repeats something or a piece of knowledge that you already know or have heard of, you have to act as if it is the first you have heard of it. subhan’Allah; may Allah perfect our manners. ameen

  4. Asalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu

    Subhanallah, this is a better version of my post on the same subject: http://truelife200iv.blogspot.com/2006/10/half-of-knowledge.html

    Was Salam

  5. My teacher used to tell us this often, it is indeed so true.

  6. MilkShaykh

    Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh Sidi Salman!!!

    This is so true, sometimes we think we know so much, we tend to develop arrogance, whether it be full blown arrogance or just a small amount of it. Then we try to conform to people’s expectations of us who think that we are such knowledgeable just to impress them…And this post has such a great message. When we think we know it all, we have no motivation to learn. But when we admit to the fact that we are ignorant, we have the fuel and energy to reach out for knowledge and place it deep within our hearts.

    (By the way, I only used “we” as a generic term, my level of knowledge is literally the amount that a small bird puts in its beak from a vast ocean. So please don’t think that I am criticizing anyone. I am clearly of the jahl basit.)

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