By Dr Muzammil H. Siddiqi

Wisdom: Action with Understanding the Consequences
Khutbah at ISOC – Rabi’ul Thani 2, 1436/ January 23, 2015

By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi


يُؤْتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَنْ يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ  (البقرة 269)
He grants wisdom unto whom He wills; and whosoever is granted wisdom is granted abundant fortune; but none will bear this in mind except the people of understanding. (Al-Baqarah 2:269)
            Wisdom (al-Hikmah) is to understand, to learn and to speak and act in an appropriate manner. Wisdom is a gift of Allah. The people of minds and reason benefit from it. Wisdom is Allah’s attribute. Allah with all His power and knowledge is Al-Hakim (the Wise one). Allah is al-‘Aziz al-Hakim (the Mighty the Wise). He is al-‘Alim al-Hakim (the Knower, the Wise), al-Hakim al-Khabir (the Wise, the Aware). He is al-Wasi’ al-Hakim (The Comprehensive, the Wise). He is al-Tawwab al-Hakim (the Acceptor of repentance, the Wise). Allah’s revelation is called al-Hikmah. Allah has mentioned that He gave to His Prophets Book and Wisdom (Al-Imran 3:81).  Luqman was not a Prophet but it is mentioned that he was also granted great wisdom (Luqman 31:12). 
Allah sent His Last and Final Prophet Muhammad –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- to teach the Book and Wisdom. His followers are supposed to be the people of wisdom: 
يُسَبِّحُ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ الْمَلِكِ الْقُدُّوسِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ (1) هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ (2) وَآخَرِينَ مِنْهُمْ لَمَّا يَلْحَقُوا بِهِمْ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ  (الجمعة 1-3)
Whatever is in the heavens and on earth glorifies Allah; the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a Messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom, - although they had been, before, in manifest error; - As well as (to confer all these benefits upon) others of them, who have not already joined them: and He is Exalted in Might, Wise. (Al-Jumu’ah 62:1-3)
            Islam always emphasizes that we should learn wisdom and use it in our life. Shari’ah, the law of Islam, is to promote wisdom, human wellbeing, justice and mercy. (Ibn al-Qayyim). Islamic law is not just rules of what is permissible and what is not permissible (halal and haram).Islam is not just a list of do’s and don’ts.  The Shari’ah came to bring benefits (masaleh) and remove harms (mafasid). It teaches us what is appropriate and what not appropriate. The Shari’ah has objectives (maqasid) and priorities (awlawiyat).  It teaches how to make comparative analysis (muwazanah) and it reminds us to understand the consequences (‘awaqib or ma’alat) of all our actions.
Under the rules of priorities, it tells us that the real benefits have preference over the imagined benefits. The major benefits have preference over the minor benefits. Benefits of the group have preference over the benefit of the individuals. Permanent benefits are preferred over the temporary benefits.
            In a similar way, Shari’ah teaches us that whatever we do we should always think of the consequences. It is not enough to be brave but one should be wise and brave. It is not enough to know that something is right, but one should also know whether it is good to do or not to do at this time. Actions should not be taken due to excitement, anger or provocation, without thinking about the consequences for one’s self, one’s family, community, neighbors and the world at large. One should think of the consequences both now and later in time, both here and in the Hereafter. If an action causes more harm than benefit or if it opens the door of harms then it should not be done. Allah says in the Qur’an,
وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ مَرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ {الأنعام 108}
Do not revile those they worship beside Allah in case they, in their hostility and ignorance, revile Allah. To each community We make their own actions seem alluring, but in the end they will return to their Lord and He will inform them of all they did. (Al-An’am 6:108)
In the terminology of Islamic law, it is called ‘sadd al-dhara’i’ (blocking the wrong or harmful means) or some scholars use the term ‘fiqh al-ma’lat’ (understanding the consequences). The Prophet –peace be upon him- wanted to get rid of the hypocrites from his community, but he did not do that thinking that it will divide the community and harm his work of da’wah. Understanding the consequences means that we should pay attention to our situation, the time, place, habits of the people and circumstances before taking or not taking an action. It means that we understand what is happening now (waqi’) and what may happen in future (mutawaqqi’). It means understanding what is ideal (mithali) and what is possible and practical (mumkin and ‘amali), between what is beneficial (nafi’) and what is harmful (dharr).
          We are not preaching isolation or in-action. Muslims should be active and involved in social change, but with wisdom and understanding the consequences. Extremism and radicalism are wrong and harmful. One should always use the most appropriate means for change and the objective must be to remove evil with good, not to remove evil with more evil. Allah says in the Qur’an,
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِمَّنْ دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ {33} وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ {34} وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ {فصلت 33-35}
Who speaks better than someone who calls people to Allah, does what is right, and says, ‘I am one of those devoted to Allah’? Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better; so the one between you and him there is enmity become a close friend. Only those who are steadfast in patience, only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain to such goodness. (Fussilat 41:33-35)
                The ayah gives us the best method and objective of social action:

  1. Always do good things.
  2. Invite people to Allah.
  3. Remove the evil with good.
  4. Try to make your enemies your friends
  5. Be patient. Only those who are patient and steadfast will win.

Sabr is part of wisdom. It means patience, perseverance and persistence without getting frustrated or excited. Patience means that you act, not over-react. The Qur’an emphasizes: patience when angry, patience when hurt, patience when sick, patience under stress and difficulty, patience during conflict, patience when exited with lusts and desires, patience in the obedience of Allah, patience to avoid the prohibition of Allah. In Surah al-‘Asr we are reminded:
وَالْعَصْرِ(1)إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ(2)إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْر (العصر 1-3)
By the time, indeed man is in loss, except for those who believe, do righteous deeds, urge one another to the Truth, and urge one another to steadfastness. (Al-Asr 103:1-3)
The Prophet – peace be upon him- advised Ibn ‘Abbas:
…وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ فِي الصَّبْرِ عَلَى مَا تَكْرَهُ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَأَنَّ النَّصْرَ مَعَ الصَّبْرِ وَأَنَّ الْفَرَجَ مَعَ الْكَرْبِ وَأَنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا (مسند أحمد 2666)
And know that there is a great good in patience when in difficulties.  The victory comes with patience.  The comfort is with pain and where there is difficulty, there is ease.
(Musnad Ahmad Hadith no. 2666)  

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