الْعِلْمُ مَقْرُونٌ بِالْعَمَلِ فَمَنْ عَلِمَ عَمِلَ، وَالْعِلْمُ يَهْتِفُ بِالْعَمَلِ فَإِنْ أَجَابَهُ وَإِلاَّ ارْتَحَلَ۔
Knowledge is associated with action. Therefore, he who knows should act, because knowledge calls for action; if there is a response well and good, otherwise it (i.e., knowledge) departs from him.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #366)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the inseparable connection between knowledge and action. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states that knowledge is (maqroon bil 'amal) "مَقْرُونٌ بِالْعَمَلِ", which can be translated as "associated with action." This means that knowledge is not meant to be passive or theoretical; rather, it should be accompanied by practical implementation.
To understand the profound wisdom behind this Hadith, let us delve into the meanings of some key words. The word (ilm) "عِلْمُ" refers to knowledge, encompassing both religious and worldly knowledge. It includes the understanding of religious teachings, moral values, and practical skills. The word (maqroon) "مَقْرُونٌ" means associated or connected, indicating the inseparable bond between knowledge and action. The word (amal) "عَمَلِ" refers to action or practice, which is the practical application of knowledge.
The Quran provides numerous verses that support the importance of knowledge and its connection to action. In Surah Al-Zumar (39:9), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Say, 'Are those who know equal to those who do not know?' Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding.
This verse highlights the distinction between those who possess knowledge and those who do not. It implies that knowledge should lead to action and remembrance of Allah.
Another verse that emphasizes the significance of acting upon knowledge is found in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:44). Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) states,
Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason?
This verse admonishes those who advocate for righteousness but fail to practice it themselves. It reminds us that knowledge should not be limited to mere recitation or preaching; rather, it should be reflected in our own actions.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Hadith further explains that knowledge (yahtifu bil 'amal) "يَهْتِفُ بِالْعَمَلِ", meaning it calls for action. Just as a caller or a herald announces a message, knowledge urges us to act upon it. This implies that knowledge is not meant to be passive or dormant; rather, it should motivate us to implement what we have learned.
To illustrate this concept, let us consider an example. Imagine a person who possesses extensive knowledge about the importance of charity and helping the less fortunate. They are well-versed in the Quranic verses and Hadiths that emphasize the virtues of giving. However, if this person does not actively engage in acts of charity, their knowledge remains incomplete. It is only when they put their knowledge into action by donating to the needy, volunteering, or supporting charitable causes that their knowledge becomes meaningful and beneficial.
The consequences of neglecting the call of knowledge are highlighted in the latter part of the Hadith. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,
if there is a response well and good, otherwise it (i.e., knowledge) departs from him.
This implies that if one fails to respond to the call of knowledge by acting upon it, the knowledge may gradually fade away or lose its impact. It is through action that knowledge is preserved and reinforced, leading to personal growth and spiritual development.
Reflecting upon this Hadith, we are reminded of the importance of aligning our knowledge with our actions. As Muslims, we should strive to acquire knowledge and ensure that it is not confined to intellectual pursuits alone. Rather, we should actively implement what we learn, allowing our knowledge to guide our behavior and shape our character. By doing so, we fulfill the purpose of knowledge and strengthen our connection with Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the inseparable connection between knowledge and action. It reminds us that knowledge should not be passive or theoretical; rather, it should be accompanied by practical implementation. By acting upon our knowledge, we fulfill its purpose and ensure its preservation. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to seek knowledge and the strength to act upon it.
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