لَا تَجْعَلُوا عِلْمَكُمْ جَهْلًا وَ يَقِينَكُمْ شَكّاً إِذَا عَلِمْتُمْ فَاعْمَلُوا وَ إِذَا تَيَقَّنْتُمْ فَأَقْدِمُوا۔
Do not turn your knowledge into ignorance or your conviction into doubt. When you gain knowledge act (upon it) and when you acquire conviction proceed (on its basis).
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #274)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, and blessings be upon Muhammad (ﷺ) and his pure progeny, the Ahl al-Bayt, as well as his noble companions.
The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advises us not to let our knowledge turn into ignorance and our conviction into doubt. It emphasizes the importance of acting upon knowledge and proceeding with conviction. Let us delve into the deeper meaning of this enlightening Hadith in light of the Quran.
The word (your knowledge) "عِلْمَكُمْ" refers to the understanding and awareness that we possess. It encompasses both religious and worldly knowledge. The word (ignorance) "جَهْلًا" signifies a lack of knowledge or understanding. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) warns us against allowing our knowledge to become ignorance, which implies neglecting or disregarding the knowledge we possess.
The Quran supports this notion in Surah Al-Mujadila (58:11), where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
O you who have believed, when you are told, 'Space yourselves' in assemblies, then make space; Allah will make space for you. And when you are told, 'Arise,' then arise; Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.
This verse highlights the importance of acting upon the knowledge we possess. It is not enough to simply have knowledge; we must put it into practice. By doing so, we demonstrate our commitment to our faith and our willingness to follow the guidance of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
The second part of the Hadith states, (your conviction into doubt) "وَ يَقِينَكُمْ شَكّاً". The word (your conviction) "يَقِينَكُمْ" refers to a firm belief or certainty. On the other hand, (doubt) "شَكّاً" implies uncertainty or hesitation. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advises us not to let our conviction waver or be replaced by doubt.
In Surah Al-Hujurat (49:15), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Indeed, the believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah. It is those who are the truthful.
This verse emphasizes the importance of unwavering conviction in our faith. Doubt can hinder our progress and prevent us from taking action. By maintaining a strong conviction, we are able to overcome obstacles and strive in the cause of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) further advises, (When you gain knowledge act upon it, and when you acquire conviction proceed on its basis)
إِذَا عَلِمْتُمْ فَاعْمَلُوا وَ إِذَا تَيَقَّنْتُمْ فَأَقْدِمُوا
This part of the Hadith emphasizes the importance of taking action based on knowledge and conviction.
In Surah Al-Imran (3:104), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.
This verse highlights the significance of not only acquiring knowledge but also actively inviting others towards good and enjoining what is right. It is not enough to possess knowledge; we must use it to bring about positive change in ourselves and society.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a reminder for Muslims to not let their knowledge turn into ignorance or their conviction into doubt. It emphasizes the importance of acting upon knowledge and proceeding with conviction. By putting our knowledge into practice and maintaining unwavering conviction, we can strive in the cause of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and bring about positive change in ourselves and society. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the ability to act upon our knowledge and strengthen our conviction.
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