أَوْضَعُ الْعِلْمِ مَا وُقِفَ عَلَى اللِّسَانِ وَأَرْفَعُهُ مَا ظَهَرَ فِي الْجَوَارِحِ وَالاْرْكَانِ۔
The lowest form of knowledge is that which remains on the tongue and the most superior form is that which manifests itself through (the action of) the limbs and the organs of the body.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #92)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he beautifully describes the varying levels of knowledge. He states that the lowest form of knowledge is that which remains confined to mere words, without any practical implementation. On the other hand, the highest and most superior form of knowledge is one that is not only spoken but also reflected in the actions and behavior of an individual.
Let us delve deeper into the words of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) to understand the significance and implications of this Hadith. The word (awda'u) "أَوْضَعُ" is used to describe the lowest form of knowledge. It refers to knowledge that is superficial, shallow, and lacking depth. This type of knowledge is limited to mere verbal expression and does not extend beyond the tongue. It remains confined to theoretical understanding without any practical application.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then contrasts this with the word (arfa'u) "أَرْفَعُ", which means the most superior or elevated form of knowledge. This type of knowledge is not limited to words alone but extends to the actions and behavior of an individual. It is knowledge that is internalized and embodied, manifesting itself through the limbs and organs of the body. It is knowledge that is deeply rooted and transformative, leading to positive changes in one's character and conduct.
To further understand the significance of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) emphasizes the importance of knowledge that is put into action in several verses. In Surah Al-Imran, Allah says: (Quran 35:28)
It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah
This verse highlights that true knowledge leads to the fear and consciousness of Allah, which in turn motivates individuals to act righteously.
Additionally, in Surah Al-Zumar, Allah states: (Quran 39:9)
Say, 'Are those who know equal to those who do not know?'
This verse draws a clear distinction between those who possess knowledge and those who do not. It implies that knowledge without action holds no value and cannot be equated with knowledge that is translated into righteous deeds.
The consequences of adhering to the teachings of this Hadith are profound. When knowledge is limited to words alone, it remains superficial and fails to bring about any meaningful change. It becomes mere rhetoric, devoid of impact and significance. On the other hand, when knowledge is internalized and reflected in one's actions, it becomes a powerful force for personal growth, societal development, and spiritual elevation.
Reflecting on this Hadith, we are reminded of the importance of seeking knowledge with sincerity and humility. It is not enough to acquire knowledge for the sake of intellectual pursuit or to impress others with our eloquence. True knowledge should inspire us to embody its teachings, to be compassionate, just, and merciful in our dealings with others. It should motivate us to strive for excellence in all aspects of our lives, seeking the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) above all else.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a powerful reminder for Muslims to not only seek knowledge but also to implement it in their lives. It emphasizes the importance of knowledge that goes beyond words and is translated into actions. Let us strive to be individuals who not only speak about righteousness but also actively practice it, for it is through the embodiment of knowledge that we can truly elevate ourselves and make a positive impact on the world around us. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom and strength to seek and implement knowledge that is pleasing to Him.
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