… A Light has come to you from God and a Clear Book. By it, God guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of Peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission, and guide them to a straight path. (Qur’an, 5:15-16)

The important difference between a wise person and an intelligent person is often missed. This is a critical error. The word “intelligence” is generally used in our society to refer to the quality of mere mental acuity, and is very different from wisdom.

Wisdom is the quality of a believer who has the ability to recognise the subtle signs of God in everything that He has created, allowing him to understand the world around him. But, any attempt to consider these things, that relies only on the brain’s ability to calculate cause and effect, is bound to end in a mechanistic and narrow perception of reality. Intelligence is a quality of a believer who has a firm faith in God, and who lives his life in accordance with the teaching found in the verses of the Qu’ran. Intelligence is a physical characteristic possessed by all individuals in varying degrees, but wisdom is a quality that belongs only to believers. Those who do not have faith also are not possessed of the “virtue” of wisdom.

Wisdom allows a believer to properly employ his mental abilities, judgement, and logic, thus making the best use of his virtues. An individual without wisdom, no matter how intelligent he may be, is bound at some point to veer into faulty thinking or into bad judgement. If we examine unbelieving philosophers throughout the course of history, we will recognise that they have put forward different and sometimes even diametrically opposed views on the very same subject. Despite the fact that they were people of high intelligence, they had no faith; and because they had no faith, they also were not sufficiently wise and were therefore incapable of arriving at the truth. Some of them, indeed, drew humanity into numberless errors. We can find several such examples in recent history: Many philosophers, ideologues, and statesmen, such as Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, despite the fact that they were very intelligent, caused disaster to fall upon millions of people, because they were unable to use their minds effectively. Wisdom, however, assures peace, well-being, and happiness, and shows the way to attain them.

Intelligence makes it possible for us, among other things, to think, form perceptions, focus our attention, and engage in practical activities. But, in addition to all these, a wise person also possesses a deep understanding unattainable by mere intelligence, and by means of which he is able to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Therefore, a wise person possesses insight far superior to that of an intelligent person.

The source of wisdom, as we said before, is a deep-seated faith and fear of God. Those who fear God, heed His commandments and proscriptions, become naturally possessed of this superior insight as a blessing from God. But, though this virtue is easily acquired, very few are endowed of wisdom. This condition, that God makes known in the Qu’ran, saying,

“Most of them do not use their reason.” (Qur’an, 5:103)

arises from the fact that most people do not have the proper faith, having left no room for the Qu’ran in their lives.

The wisdom that God has granted to those who fear Him, and who live their lives in conformity with the Qu’ran, renders the devout believer superior to the unbeliever in many ways. The basic components of this wisdom are the believer’s knowledge that God controls all things all the time, his consciousness of the fact that everything in its every detail comes into being according to the fate which God has predetermined, and his awareness that he is with God at every moment. In addition, wisdom makes it possible for the believer to adapt himself easily to changing conditions and situations.

The keenness of the believers’ insight and understanding, their attentiveness and awareness, their superior analytical ability, good morals, strong character, and their wisdom in word and action, are all natural products of their wisdom.

Consider if the extraordinary characteristics belonging to an individual were to belong to society as a whole. Think of the benefits incurring to a society formed of individuals who use their minds in every thing they say, in every action they take, in every decision they make, and in every problem they undertake to solve; think of the kind of environment that would exist in a society formed of wise individuals… Indeed, we all need people of wisdom around to ensure our comfort, health, security, and peace of mind. Furthermore, the existence of wise individuals is indispensable in order to prevent chaos, confusion and anarchy, and to discover solutions to the problems from which these things arise. Taking these matters into consideration, it is clear that the key to every problem is the recognition of a need tempered with wisdom.

Undoubtedly, wisdom is the most important quality a person can have. With it, he brings benefit to others more than anyone else, because, by the morality that faith instils, there is no greater aim for him than to gain the approval of God. Throughout his life, such a person displays the qualities of the true believer as described in the Qu’ran: he protects the oppressed, he cares for the homeless, the lonely, and the needy, he feels responsibility for the fair application of justice and will not tolerate anyone going hungry. His wisdom allows him to apply what he has learned from the Qu’ran in his own life, and to develop a conscientious sense of social responsibility. We all seek such people, who use their minds to find solutions to problems, to apply the appropriate measures, in giving advice and recommendations, and who show wisdom in what they say and in what they write. Therefore, there is much benefit to be gained from the words and actions of such a person.

Once we recognise the importance of wisdom, it is not difficult to realise the seriousness of the danger posed by its opposite. This danger is a threat to both individuals and to society in general.


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