What Is Wisdom (Hikmah)?
Wisdom has been defined in various definitions and meanings. Some of them are as follows:
Performing something in the ideal and optimum way.
Science explaining the real nature of things.
Divine mysteries and intentions inherent in things.
Knowledge together with action.
Beneficial knowledge and good deed.
For the sense of the human intelligence, the state of being on the right path and avoiding excessiveness.
The most common meaning among them is secret, intention and benefit. When it is asked:
What is the wisdom behind this? we understand the questions: What is its purpose? What secrets that we do not know does it convey? Then, wisdom can occur only when something is performed and a benefit is acquired from it.
This consideration takes us to the definition Knowledge together with action. Islamic scholars do not regard the solitary knowledge as wisdom. They stipulate that, acting on that knowledge, implementing that knowledge and getting beneficial results must exist.
Philosophy is named the science of wisdom since it discusses the real nature and aims of things.
However, if a philosopher does not introduce a lifestyle or a moral acquisition which people can apply in their lives, then it is not wisdom in its true sense.
Wisdom is knowledge and acting on that knowledge. The one who cannot combine them is not called Wise. (Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır)
For an individual, being a person of wisdom depends on being a servant with whom his Lord is pleased. Otherwise, if he does not make his Lord pleased, it is not sufficient to become a person of wisdom to observe his creatures and discover their advantages for mankind. Let us imagine a man comprehends the secret mysteries in the Quran but does not act in accordance with them. He is a scholar but not wise. The status of people, who do not read the book of the universe on behalf of Allah and do not benefit from it are no different from that man in this aspect.
Wisdom also has the meaning of prophethood. Prophethood is a Divine institution. The messengers of Allah read the book of the Universe and taught it and demanded some duties from men, at Allah’s command. They taught human beings completely that everything was created in the bounds of wisdom and that they all had thousands of functions. Then, they thoroughly established in the hearts of people that men, whom all of the beings serve, must have an important duty; otherwise, all those creatures which are created wisely would serve purposelessness, aimlessness and nothingness. Therefore, the true wisdom is in prophethood, not in philosophy. Knowledge and acting in accordance with it is taught together in the school of prophethood. And in this school, the wisdom of beings is learned from their Creator directly. Estimations, assumptions or personal and subjective feelings are not needed.
It is mentioned in the Nur Treatises, a commentary on the Quran, that things have three faces: the face that looks to God Almighty’s names, the face that looks to the hereafter and the third the face that looks to the existence and life of that thing.
We discuss the third point when wisdom is mentioned. We say beneficial for an apple and vain for a thorn. We see the wisdom easily on the former, or we think that we see it, but we do not even think about the latter.
Wisdom is the most significant basis in all the fields including conveying the truths to people. Conveying or proclanmation (tabligh) carried out unwisely, that is to say not appropriately in terms of time and place, not suitably based on mercy, not seeking the assistance of science and especially not acting in accordance with what one preaches will not yield a good result.
The command of the Holy Quran:
Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching (the Bee (An-Nahl), 125), teaches the need of being on the path of wisdom to the people who are in charge with proclaiming Islam.
By Alaaddin Başar