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Knowledge, Its Importance & Acquisition
  Ibn Hazm on Knowledge
Author: Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi
Source: Al-Akhlaq was-Siyar (trans. M Abu Laylah)
Article ID : SCL020003  [17404]  
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31. If knowledge had no other merit than to make the ignorant fear and respect you, and scholars love and honour you, this would be good enough reason to seek after it. Let alone all its other merits in this world and the next!

32. If ignorance had no other fault than to make the igno-rant man jealous of knowledgeable men and jubilant at see-ing more people like himself, this by itself would be reason enough to oblige us to flee it. Let alone the other bad results of this evil in this world and the next!

33. If knowledge and the action of devoting oneself to it had no purpose except to free the man who seeks it from the exhausting anxieties and many worries which afflict the mind, that alone would certainly be enough to drive us to seek knowledge. But what should we say of the other bene-fits too numerous to list, the least of which are the above-mentioned, and all of which accrue to the knowledgeable man. In search of benefits as small as these the petty kings have worn themselves out in seeking distraction from their anxieties in games of chess, dicing, wine, song, hunting expe-ditions and other pastimes which bring nothing but harm in this world and the next and absolutely no benefit.

34. If the scholar who has spent long peaceful hours [at his studies) stopped to think how his knowledge has protect-ed him against humiliation at the hands of the ignorant, and against anxiety about unknown truths, and what joy it has brought him by enabling him to solve problems which others find insoluble, he would certainly increase his expressions of gratitude to Allah and rejoice more in the knowledge that he has and desire even more to add to it.

35. Anyone who spends his time studying something inferior, abandoning higher studies of which he is capable, is like someone who sows corn in a field capable of growing wheat, or who plants bushes in a soil which could support palm trees and olives.

36. To spread knowledge among those incapable of understanding it would be as harmful as giving honey and sugary confections to someone with a fever, or giving musk and amber to someone with a migraine caused by an excess of bile.

37. A man who is a miser with his knowledge is worse than a man who is a miser with his money, for the money-miser is afraid of using up what he possesses but the knowl-edge-miser is being mean with something which does not get used up and is not lost when it is given away.

38. Anyone who has a natural inclination towards a branch of knowledge, even if it is inferior to other branches, should not abandon it, or he would be like someone who plants coconuts in al-Andalus or olive trees in India where neither would produce fruit.

39. The most noble branches of knowledge are those which bring you close to the Creator and help you to be pleasing to Him.

40. When you compare yourself with others in matters of wealth, position, and health, you should look at people less favoured than yourself. When you compare yourself with others in matters of religion, knowledge and virtue, look at people who are better than yourself.

41. The mysterious branches of knowledge are like a strong drug which benefits a strong body but damages a weak one. In the same way, the esoteric branches of knowl-edge enrich a strong mind and refine it, purifying it of its flaws, but destroy a weak mind.

42. If a madman threw himself as deeply into good sense as he throws himself into madness, he would surely be wiser than al-Hasan al Basri,Plato of Athens and Vuzurgmihr the Persian.

43. Intelligence has its limits; it is useless unless it is based on the guidance of religion or on good fortune in this world.

44. Do not harm your soul by experimenting with corrupt views in order to demonstrate their corruption to someone who has consulted you, otherwise you will lose your soul. If you shield yourself from acting in a detestable way, any criti-cism that can be thrown at you by a man of corrupt beliefs because you disagree with him is better than his respect and better than the bad effect on both of you if you committed these detestable acts.

45. Guard against taking pleasure in any way that will harm your soul and is not required of you by the religious law nor by virtue.

46. Knowledge no longer exists if one has ignored the attributes of the Almighty Great Creator.

47. There is no worse calamity for knowledge and for scholars than when outsiders intrude. They are ignorant and think that they are knowledgeable; they ruin everything and believe that they are helping.

48. Anyone who is seeking happiness in the Hereafter, wisdom in this world, the best way to behave, the sum of all moral qualities, the practice of all the virtues, should take as his model Muhammad, the Prophet of God - God grant him blessings and peace - and emulate as far as possible the Prophet's morals and behaviour. May God help us to take him as an example, by His grace, amen [amen]!


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