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The True Scholar

Posted by on May 4, 2020


وإذا ما ازددت علما       زادني علما بجهلي

And whenever I grow in knowledge,
I only grow in knowledge of my own ignorance.

(Muḥammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfiʿī)

One of the most important gauges for true erudition is humility. Unlike what is claimed by some western-academia-trained scholars, knowledge is not an end unto itself. Rather, it is a means to an end. The end that it leads to (if acted upon) is perfection, salvation and success in the everlasting life of the Hereafter. It is easy to distinguish a true scholar (ʿālim) from one who has just memorized facts and figures, or the opinions of sages and philosophers, using this method. A true ʿālim will always be humble. This is because the more he learns and knows, the greater will be his appreciation of his own ignorance. This is what the beautiful quote above conveys.

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