Hikma is a concept used in different contexts with differing meanings, and one that is significant in Islamic philosophy and law. Linguistically it refers to wisdom, philosophy, rationale or underlying reason.
However scholars and thinkers, from the early Greek tradition to the Islamic tradition, consider it to comprise an understanding of the essence of things as they are, putting things in their proper places, according proper statuses and rightful conduct and good behaviour.
Imam Ghazali saw wisdom as one of the highest virtues, seeing the knowledge of God, His attributes, His angels, His prophets and revelation as opposed to general knowledge. He however acknowledged wisdom as knowledge of the most excellent things as understood via science. He also added moral wisdom to this which allows one to perceive right from wrong in voluntary actions.
The exegete Ibn Kathir described wisdom as a deep about things. Abdul Rahman al-Sa’ad emphasised wisdom as knowledge of which benefits comprising coherent reasoning, balanced insight and achieving correct outcomes via speech and action in accordance with and consideration of circumstances. The jurist Shirazi saw wisdom as knowledge of right and wrong, sound moral character and making decisions taking the long term into consideration. Al-Qasami saw wisdom as being perfect in knowledge and acting correctly according to that knowledge.
Al-Qushayri observed early Sufis saw hikma connected with the practical concepts of taqwa, zuhd, akhlaq and ibadat, and theoretical concepts of ilhām, kashf, ma‘rifa and haqiqa.
“When the servant renounces (zahada) this world, God entrusts [him to] an angel who implants hikma in his heart” (Al-Qushayri, p. 62).
Hikma (wisdom) appears in the Quran twenty times in nineteen ayaat appearing in twelve suras. The term has been used to mean strong reasoning and understanding. Allah is the ultimate possessor of hikma - al-hakim, bestower of hikma on His servants. He has given hikma to the Prophets (3:81) and Abraham’s progeny (4:54) including David (2:251, 38:20), Jesus (3:48, 5:110, 43:63), and Muhammad (2:151, 3:164, 4:113, 17:39). The Qur'an states Allah gives hikma to whoever He wishes (2:269), a soecific example being the pious Luqman (31:12).
"Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful argumentation..." (Qur'an 16:125)
"Our Lord! And raise up in them a messenger from among them who shall recite to them your communications and teach them the Book and the wisdom and purify them; surely you are the Mighty, the Wise." (Qur'an 2:129)
"He gives wisdom unto whom He will, and he unto whom wisdom is given, he truly hath received abundant good. But none remember except men of understanding." (Qur'an 2:269)
"And when he (Moses) attained his full strength and was mature, We bestowed upon him wisdom and knowledge." (Qur'an 28:14)
"Even as We have sent unto you a messenger from among you, who recites to you Our revelations and causes you to grow, and teaches you the Scripture and wisdom, and teaches you that which you knew not." (Qur'an 2:155)
"You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the capacity for hearing, sight, and the intellect, and you are responsible for using them effectively. You shall not walk with arrogance on earth - you cannot bore through the earth, nor can you be as tall as the mountains. All impropriety is condemned by your Lord. This is of the wisdom inspired to you by your Lord." (Qur'an 17:36-39)
The Messenger of Allah said, "Do not wish to be like anyone else except in two cases: a man whom Allah has given wealth and spent it righteously. A man to whom Allah has given wisdom, acts according to it, and teaches it to other." (Bukhari)
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "Wisdom is like a precious commodity that is lost. A believer must always be in search of it. Wherever he finds it, he must act upon what it dictates." (Tirmidhi)
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The parable of one who hears wisdom in a gathering, but then only reports evil from its speaker, is the likeness of one who visits a shepherd. He says: O shepherd, shear off the wool of a sheep for me from your flock. The shepherd says: Go and take the best of them by the ear. So he goes and take the shepherd’s dog by the ear.” (Ibn Majah)
Wisdom in Islam denotes the combination of fikr (thinking) and zikr (remembrance).
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