Explanation of ‘Ilm (Knowledge)
Definition & Ranks of ‘Ilm (Knowledge)
Within the slave’s heart ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) is a borrowed Nur
Light) from the Prophetic Alcove—where the Lantern for Divine
Light shines from—so that the slave finds a way towards Allah, or
towards some affair of Allah or towards the command of Allah. This ‘Ilm
(Divine Knowledge) is something Khās (Peculiar, Exceedingly Exclusive)
for a human being, indeed out of the ‘Idrāk (Grasp, Comprehension) of
his ‘Aql (Intellect, Mind) and senses.
The difference between ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) and ‘Aql (Intellect,
Mind) is that the ‘Aql is a Light from the Fetra (Inmost & Innate
to Human Nature) discerning between the proper & corrupt and good
& evil. And this Light is common between the believer and
disbeliever. However the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) is Khās (Exclusive) to
the believers. Whatever knowledge common between the believer and the
disbeliever is that of the common_‘Aql (Intellect, Mind). But whatever
that can discern between the proper & improper concerning the
affairs of the Hereafter is Khās (Exclusive) to the believer. A
definite link between the believer and the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) is a
must. The eyes of this Khās_‘Aql (Intellect) enlightened by the Nur
Light) of the Hedāya (Divine Guidance) and lined by the Divine
Eyeliner of the Shariah (Prophetic Ways).
Therefore ‘Aql (Intellect) within its own Dhāt (Inmost Essence) is one
object but with two obverse faces. One face from the Khāleq (Creator)
i.e. the Khās_‘Aql (Intellect) for Hedāya (Divine Guidance). And the
other face for the Khalq (Creation) or the common_‘Aql i.e. the
intellect for the daily life. The believers and the seekers of the Haqq
(The Absolute Reality & Truth, Allah) demand that the common_’Aql
to follow the Khās (Exclusive to believers) Aql. So where the
common_‘Aql is in concordance with the Khās_‘Aql the believers act
accordingly and approve, but on the contrary due to the lack of
concordance they disobey and disapprove of the common_‘Aql. And because
of the latter the people of this life consider the believers weak in
their ‘Aql (Intellect, Mind), unbeknownst to them these believers have
another ‘Aql (Intellect) beyond their common_‘Aql.
There are three categories of ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge):
1. ‘Ilm for Tauhid (Divine Oneness):
As was said by
Allah: So know (O Mohammad) that
there is no deity worthy of worship
except Allah (Qur’an [47:19]).
2. ‘Ilm for Ma’refat (Divine Gnosis): This is the
knowledge that deals with the ‘Adam (Non-being), Wujud (Creation &
Being-ness), Qurb (Divine Nearness) and Bu’d (Farness), life and death,
resurrection and scattering of the life, the good recompense and
just-punishment and etc.
3. ‘Ilm for Shariah (Prophetic Ways): Knowledge
specific to the prophetic commandments and prohibitions.
And each one of these Knowledge-Paths has a different Sālek (Traveler):
1. Rab-bāni (Divine) ‘Ālem (Knower, Scholar): Found
within these scholars is the Yaqin (Certainty) with regards to the
Oneness of Allah and they are astute for Allah and affairs of Allah, in
true submission for the laws of Islam. Their Qur’anic nomenclature is
2. Okhrawi (Hereafter)/Tasaw-wuf (Sufism) ‘Ālem
(Knower, Scholar): Found within them is the firm belief for the affairs
of Hereafter and they extract from the Islamic Knowledge that which
necessary for their spiritual benefit and put that knowledge into
immediate & unconditional use. Their Qur’anic nomenclature is Abrār
(Righteous, Pious) or Ashābul-Yamin (Companions of the Right whom their
deeds-record will be given to them on the right hand).
3. Dunyawi (Worldly) ‘Ālem (Knower, Scholar): Who
have nothing from the Islam but the superficial and surface knowledge
e.g. how to wash in the bathroom: They
know only the outside appearance
of the life of the world and they are heedless of the Hereafter
[30:7]). Notably they have acquired their knowledge through learning.
And whatever knowledge they have acquired they rarely implement due to
their weak belief. And they have no inhibition to enter where it is
forbidden and their infectious evil harms many. Their Qur’anic
nomenclature is As-hābel-Shemāl (People of the Left whose deeds-records
given to their left hand) and they are the most evil of the people most
disgraced scholars and for them there is certain prophetic warning and
promise: In the Hadith (Prophet Narration) for the Mi’rāj (Ascension to
Heavens) it has entered “That night I passed by a group whose lips
where being cut by fiery scissors, so I asked what nation of people are
you? They responded: We are those who commanded good but did not do it
ourselves, and forbade the evil and indeed committed the evil
ourselves.” Also it is in the Hadith (Prophetic Narration): The most
intense torment in the Day of Judgment is for those whose knowledge did
not benefit them (did not do accordingly).
There is nobody better than the Rab-bāni (Divine) & Okhrawi
(Hereafter) ‘Ālem (Knower, Scholar) and no one worse than the Dunyawi
(Worldly) ‘Ālem (Knower, Scholar) as was depicted in the Hadith
(Prophetic Narration): The best of the best are the righteous/good
‘Ālem (Knower, Scholar) and the worst of the worst the evil ‘Ālem
The reason for the above argument is that there is nothing more
beneficial than that of the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) when it is acquired
for the sake of Allah. And on the contrary, the worst is the ‘Ilm
(Divine Knowledge) acquired for the worldly benefits—The most the
benefit also the more the harm.
When the body is healthy food is beneficial and yet when the body is
ailing the food is often more harmful. Similarly ‘Ilm (Divine
Knowledge), in and of itself, is a beneficial nutrient nourishing the
nurturing of the Akhlāq (Behavior) and heart, given the necessary
condition that the person is not desiring the natural lusts and the
love of this world, and his being has Tawaj-juh (Pointed Focus) towards
the Divine Presence without the slightest deviation or slacking.
But when the person is deviated by the love of the world and his
existence infected by the foul Akhlāq (Behavior), then like the food
that harms the sick, ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) actually feeds to
strengthen the lusts and desires for foul attributes e.g. arrogance
self-admiration envy hatred and so on that finally cause the spiritual
death. Look at this incredible fraud: what was supposed to save the
spiritual life causes the death. And those scholars infected by it are
enslaved by the desires and lusts:
So when he is chocking he is given the water
If chocked by the water give him what else?
The signs for the beneficial ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) are the increase
of Taqwā (Piety) humbleness and yet the decrease of the impact of one’s
existence upon this earth therefore enflaming the flames of Shawq
and seeking the Divine.
The signs for harmful ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) are Nafs’ (Self’s)
increase of arrogance pomp pride and seeking after the world.
And the above can be deduced from the Hadith (Prophetic Narration): He
who seeks the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) solely for the sake of Allah
nothing hits him except the increase of the lowliness for his Nafs
(Self) and humbleness towards the people and fear for Allah and
exertion for the Din (Way, Religion) and such is the person who is
benefiting from the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge), and he who seeks the ‘Ilm
(Divine Knowledge) for the worldly life e.g. status in front of people
or prestige in front of governor nothing hits him except the increase
of (false) greatness, arrogance towards the people, heedlessness for
Allah and harshness in the world and such is the person who did not
benefit from the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) denied the good arguments for
himself and regrets and shame for Hereafter.
And the benefit from the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) comes to the person
who applies it with determination and not with carelessness as was
hinted by Bā Yazid Bastāmi: Indeed Allah has chosen from the Creation
hearts opened for acceptance by the Nur (Divine
Light) of ITs Hedāya
(Divine Guidance) and illuminated them by the beam of ITs Ma’refat
(Divine Gnosis) and placed therein the throne of ITs Mahab-bat (Divine
Love) whereat entrusted the custody of ITs ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) and
Hikma (Divine Wisdom) and he who acts with determination in accordance
to his ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) has for sure preserved the trust and he
who acts accordingly with low esteem has indeed wasted and squandered
the trust (Translation?).
The beneficial ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) prolongs the life of the heart
and its discontinuation causes the death of the heart as was noted by
the Fat-h Mūseli: Doesn’t a man who is denied food and water would
eventually die? People said yes then he continued: Similarly once the
hearts denied Hikma (Divine Wisdom) and ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) for
three days shall die too!
Imam Ali has said: The scholars are the lamps of their times, and every
scholar is a lantern enlightening the people of his time. (This
narration is mentioned in the first part of the Ghazali’s Ihyā-el Ulum
however phrased as “some have said”.)
From the latter we conclude that the existence of the Rab-bāni (Divine)
‘Ālem (Knower, Scholar) amongst the people is the best blessing of the
Divine Blessings and their absence the worst darkness, disbelief and
The heart is the reservoir for the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) and the
appearance of the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) is due to the preservation of
Divine Presence. As has been indicated in some
of the past books of revelations: O Children of Israel do not say that
the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) is in the skies and then who is going to
bring it down? And do not say that the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) is in
the depth of the earth and then how is going to mine it out? And do not
say that the ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) it in the bottom of the seas and
who is going to dive it out? The ‘Ilm (Divine Knowledge) is within you!
Under My Hand (Divine Power) nurture with the Adab (Etiquette)
Spirituality and Truthfulness until I manifest the ‘Ilm (Divine
Knowledge) within your hearts such that it will envelop you from the
head to the toes.
© 2005-2002, Dara O.