When a person wants to improve their religion, one of the best ways to advance is through gaining new knowledge and applying it. But the factor of sincerity plays a vital role in whether the benefit will stay and actually be fruitful to them on the Day of Judgment. If the heart is not receptive to such information, that information does not go through the process of becoming knowledge and then wisdom.
Information is data stripped to its most basic form. Knowledge is being aware of facts that are understood and learnt second-hand. Wisdom is where knowledge joins real-life experience and enlightened perspective. That’s the kind of religiosity we aim for as Muslims, and that’s how knowledge should impact us, because wisdom is knowledge that makes one a better human being.
The job of knowledge is not to make you capable of rattling off rulings, and be able to understand the difference between deviant sects, or why this shaykh is wrong or that student of knowledge is more guided than the other. While these are issues this blog is not here to address, the point to be made is that there is more to life than right and wrong and in between. There is the reason why. Understanding our purpose in this life is what so many of us are missing, and it’s not even just about your dead-end job at Walmart or the traditional (though hopefully dying) nine-to-five.
It’s about believing in the fact that in the next millisecond, you could freeze in the middle of reading this as you see the angel of death, and know that you did not live up to what you knew you were capable of. Now you have the experience that would have given you the wisdom to see past empty friendships, to try to understand what you could have done, how you could have lived with so much more peace and expectation of reward. But what good is it then?
Truthfully, how many of us are clear on who we want to be? ‘Coming into your own’ is such an elusive term, thrown in with ‘who I am,’ what is the meaning of life,’ and ‘can’t we just say what we really mean by all that?’ Just kidding about the last one. In all seriousness, it’s firstly about coming closer to being honest about what is getting in the way. You can’t figure out which way to go in the street if both your rear-view mirror and windshield are cracked and smudged and downright dirty.
It takes time. It takes sitting down with yourself – quite literally – and reflecting on what it is about your life that is stressing you out. Limit or eliminate. Reflect on what you’re grateful for. Increase and discover more. Reflect on what’s bogging you down. Let go and lift off. This last one is hard, because it involves investigating painful experiences and the habitual self-infliction of pain, and vetting them from our world view. It could be anything from actual physical self-harm, to sabotaging relationships, to spending time doing sins or being around people who belittle or negatively influence you.
There’s more to this, but the final idea to share is that no one knows everything. Not everything can be fixed, not because it is impossible, but because not every problem can get attention. Sometimes we have to pick our battles. Sometimes no matter how much time we spend thinking, we do no connecting. So the missing ingredient is Allah Himself. He is the One judging on Judgment Day, He is the One Whom inspired this post, and will inspire you, too, if you speak up as you reach out and let him. Sometimes we don’t know what to ask, so we can suffice our need by saying, “Ya Allah, help!”
And really? That’s all it takes.