2 Things Stopping You From Gaining Wisdom

Why is it that sometimes we seek wisdom but it is denied to us? And this is more for myself and inshaAllah a point of reflection for the rest of us.

One of the reasons that I find when I look at Hadith as to why Hikma is denied is this excessive love for pleasure, for Dunya. Not to fulfill a physical need, but to lust for it with excessiveness so that one is obsessed and addicted to physical pleasure.

In Salat ul-'Asr, we just pray Salat ul-'Asr here. In the du'a of Salatul 'Asr we recite, "wa a'udhu bika min nafsin la tashba', and I seek refuge with You oh Allah from a nafs that is never satisfied and never satiated. No matter how much it eats, it wants more. No matter how much it indulges, it wants more.

We have one hadith from Imam Al-Sadiq, 'alayhi as-salam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], he says, "man zahida fi 'd-dunya athbat Allah al-Hikmata fi qalbihi, wa antaqa biha lisanihi". Whoever abstains from this world, whoever does not take from this world more than what he or she needs, then Allah plants wisdom in his heart. Again, plant. He gives it root in his heart and once he does it, he makes him speak wisdom through his tongue. Notice again, Allah makes him speak, "wa antaqa", He brings it out on his tongue. But the condition is zuhud.

And in the hadith of mi'raj, we have that Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, tells His Habib that, Oh my Habib, when a person hungers himself and keeps his stomach empty and does not indulge in it excessively, I give him wisdom, and this wisdom becomes a Nur and a Burhan. It lights the way in front of him so that in life he knows exactly what he needs to do in life, and it becomes a source of Rahma and shifaa for him. And then Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, says, "Fa ya'lamu ma lam yakun ya'lam". And then he begins to realize and know that which he would never have known otherwise. In other words, I give him knowledge which he could not have acquired through any other source. "Wa yubsiru ma lam yakun yubsir", and he begins to see and perceive things that he could never have perceived before.

And that is why when Ibrahim, 'alayhi as-salam, surrendered himself completely, Allah says: "Wa kadhalika nury Ibrahim malakoot as-samawaati wa al-ardh" (6:75), We showed Ibrahim so that he was able to see the kingdoms of the heavens and the earth. And we have this in Hadith as well, that if it was not for the Shayatin who are constantly going around you and keeping you heedless so that you do not think of Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, you would have been able to see the angels in the heavens even while you were in this world.

And Allah says again in the Quran: "Law ta'lamoona 'ilm al-yaqeen" (102:5), "La tarawunna al-jaheem" (102:6). If you had 'Ilm al-yaqeen you would have seen the fire of hell, you would have seen it here in this world, you would not need to see it in the hereafter. So this is one of the things that we need to be careful about.

And there are so many Ahadith in the interest of time that I will not list here, but essentially we have one Hadith that in summary, it says that the heart can only hold wisdom when the stomach is not always full. Not that you do not eat, but that you do not overfill it and eat with lust. And it says when a person eats with lust and passion and desire for the sake of the pleasure of food, then his heart vomits any wisdom in it. It throws up wisdom. So this is very clear. "Man akala ta'aman shahwatan harram Allahu 'ala qalbih il-Hikma". Whoever eats food with Shahwa, with lust, Allah makes wisdom haram on his heart. He will never acquire wisdom in his heart. It does not matter how much knowledge or how many years he has studied or what he does. So this is the one reason that wisdom can be denied.

The other reason, and we will conclude with that, is arrogance or Takabbur. That a heart that is arrogant will not acquire wisdom. And this we acquire in a beautiful Hadith from our seventh Imam, Imam Musa Al-Kadhim, salawat Allahi wa as-salamu 'alaih [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad]. And again, look at the analogy from: "Awwaluna Muhammad, Awsattuna Muhammad, Aakhiruna Muhammad, Kulluna Muhammad". [Allahuma salli 'ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad].

Every one of them when they speak of Hikma, their example is that of a tree being planted, of being established. Imam Al-Kadhim, 'alayhi as-salam, he says in order to plant a tree, the land has to be fertile and has to be soft. Many of you do gardening in summer, isn't it? When the ground is hard or there is a lot of clay, you can not plant anything. You have to dig it out, remove the clay and put soft soil in it. You have to soften the earth. That is when you can plant something in there. And the Imam says, Takabbur makes the heart hard. When the heart is like a solid, smooth rock, wisdom can never be planted there. It requires Tawadhu' or humility to soften the heart. And once it is softened, then Allah can plant His tree of wisdom where it is deserving.

And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense why arrogance would stop us. Because let us now conclude and bring this to a full circle. We said that Hikma is only given by Allah. We said it is a precious commodity. We said Allah gives it to only those who deserve it. We said wisdom is the ability to act in the most appropriate manner at every time and under every circumstance. We said this is not possible except by Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala. Then we said because we can not become Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, the only way possible is for us to surrender. When we have surrendered completely, then Allah acts through us. And because Allah is acting through us, that is why wisdom manifests itself through our actions.

Now, if the ego stands in the way and there is an I, then how will Allah act through us? That submission will never happen. Because Allah wants to use me, use my tongue, use my hands, use my life to manifest Himself and make me an Ayat from Ayatu Allah so that people see Allah everywhere they turn: "Fa ainnama tuwallu, fa thamma wajhu Allah" (2:115). Wherever you turn, there you will see the face of Allah. That is what He wants that everything, the sun, the moon and His Ashrafu al-makhlooqat should be a mirror for His Asmaa'.

But now for Allah to use me I have to first remove that mind "I", that ego, that Takkabur that I am better than others: "Ana khairun minhu" (7:12). I may not say it, but in my thoughts and in my actions, that is what is stopping from that state of surrender. The moment humility comes in and I do not take credit for anything in myself, whether it is knowledge, whether it is beauty, whether it is wealth, whether it is goodness, whether it is charity, and I give all credit to Allah and say in my physical self I am just a glorified animal.

But Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, it is His grace that through the Sadaqa of Muhammad and Aale Muhammad and through His guidance: "Al-hamdu lil-Laahi alladhee hadana li hadha, wa ma kunna linahtadiya lawla ann hadana Allah" (7:43). All praise be to Allah who guided us to this and we would never have been guided had Allah not guided us to this. So giving Him all credit when I surrender with humility, that is when He is able to take over and say now when you throw, I throw. When you see, it is I who is seeing.

And so we begin to see now that wisdom requires me, because I have a physical self and I have a spiritual self, when I focus on the physical, when I focus on addictions and desire, I blind my spiritual self, and so excessive indulgence in the world stops spirituality and stops wisdom growing in my heart and arrogance stops it as well. When I fight these two and I move them to the side, then Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, blesses us with wisdom.

And the more wisdom we acquire, the more we will appreciate Muhammad and Aali Muhammad, 'alayhum as-salam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad]. A person who acquires wisdom in the true sense, even if he is not Muslim, he will eventually come to Muhammad and Aali Muhammad because he will realize, they define wisdom itself. There is no higher level of submission to Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, and there is no one in the history of humanity who has acted with such aptness and such preciseness at every moment of their lives like these individuals.