On Wisdom



Is the seedling you planted in your youth that you long
forgot about, that comes to harvest as a ripened fruit,
when your body is in need of sustenance.

It is the life extending elixir of refinement of excess,
distillation of frivolities, filtering of trivialities, severing of
luxuries until you only have the back straightening truth.


Imam Al Shafi’i said:

‘The more I learned, the more ignorant I became.’

For the truly ignorant, they understand this literally. For the wise, they comprehend that as you gain knowledge, the wisdom in that increase is comprehension of just how much more there is to learn that you still have not learned. As you gain a little insight into one area, one topic, one small fathom of truth in your life, the more you realise just how much you weren’t aware of, and how much remains out there for you to learn.

Imam Al Shafi’i was one of the pinnacles of scholarship in his time and for him to make such a proclamation leaves us at the doorstep of utter intellectual poverty.

Learning, Knowledge, Wisdom



Throwing your ego into the sea and watching it drown in the vastness of what
you don’t know.


Admitting you have the ego to drown and that the sea of vastness is there


Showing someone else how to do it.


Humility is what will commence the journey.
It will set you on fire in your love of learning, knowledge and wisdom.
A great scholar said, ‘The more I learned, the more ignorant I became’. Think about the context of this magnificent quote. Think about who said it and it’s weight.
He wasn’t ignorant by any means but this is an expression of humility and defeat. Admittance he’s a speck of nothing despite of who the public thought he was, in the vast ocean of knowledge that existed and opened up to him the more he learned.

It’s not just a pen.



Renowned Muslim thinker and scholar Hamza Yusuf recounts a story when he was in the Mauritanian desert under tutelage from great masters who have carried on proper Islamic tradition and scholarship down to students for hundreds of years. He was cleaning under his nails with a pen when something struck him upside the head. His teacher threw something at him and told him, “Hamza, God has sworn an oath by the pen”. He immediately understood his mistake at disrespecting the otherwise inanimate object. (1)
But look at who he is now.
When you have such reverence for things, you can then pass on value to your family, students, friends and more.
Where is the reverence and respect for those sacred things?

(1) Quran Chapter 68 is titled ‘The Pen’ and begins it’s first verse with God swearing an oath by the pen. Nun. By the pen and what they inscribe,”

Time, the teacher

Photo from the film Bab'Aziz - The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul
Photo from the film Bab’Aziz – The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul

When the fervour of youth finally wanes,

All that is left is humility and pain.