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July 13, 2020

Benefits of learning


July 13, 2020

Random thoughts

By Dr A Q Khan

Even if you try hard, you cannot fully describe the benefits of education. Students may sometimes wonder if it's while spending so many years studying, but when they reach their goal, they realize that it’s all been worthwhile. They are the ones who become professors, CEOs, managing directors, senior bureaucrats, etc.

Those who failed to make the grade may often wonder if those “others” really do have the knowledge for the high positions they have been given and the status and high salaries that goes with it.

Our Holy Prophet (pbuh) advised that one should even go as far as China, if necessary, for the sake of knowledge. More than 100 years ago, the famous British mathematician and philosopher, Prof Alfred North Whitehead prophetically said: “In the conditions of modern life, the rule is absolute: the race which does not value trained intelligence, is doomed. Not all your heroism, not all your social charm, not all your wit, not all your victories on land or at sea, can move back the finger of fate. Today we maintain ourselves, tomorrow science will have moved over yet one more step and there will be no appeal from the judgment which will be pronounced on the uneducated.”

Even today, perhaps more so than ever, this is a truth. The West adopted this way forward while Muslim rulers built palaces, parks, etc. That had not always been the case. Muslim scientists ruled the world for almost 500 years in the 11th and 12th centuries. After that things went downhill.

Sheikh Saadi, in his famous “Gulistan” (translated by Richard Francis Burton) has given many stories to illustrate the theme of learning and achievement.

“I saw an Arab in the desert who said to his son: ‘O son, on the day of resurrection you will be asked what you have gained and not from whom you are descended. In other words, you will be asked what you have achieved, not who your father was.’”

“A man with pain in his eyes went to a farrier to be treated. The farrier put the same eyedrops in his eyes which he used for horses and the man became blind. When he lodged a complaint with the judge, the latter refrained from punishing the farrier, saying: ‘Had this man not lacked education he would not have gone to a farrier.’ Whoever entrusts an inexperienced man with important business and repents afterwards is thought to lack intelligence by others. A shrewd and intelligent man will not give affairs of importance to an unknowledgeable person to transact.”

“Two men strove in life without any profit. One of them accumulated property without enjoying it and the other learnt without practising what he had learnt. However much science you may acquire, you are ignorant if you don’t apply it.”

“The country is adorned by intelligent and religion by virtuous men. Padshahs stand more in need of the advice of intelligent men than intelligent men are in need of the proximity of padshahs. If you would but listen to advice, padshah; there is no better to be found in any book than this: Entrust a business to an intelligent man.”

“He who acquires science and does not practise it, resembles him who possesses an ox but does not use him to plough or to sow seed.”

“When a sage comes in contact with fools, he must not expect to be honoured. If an ignorant man overcomes a sage in an oratorical contest it is no wonder because even a stone sometimes breaks a jewel.”

“Be not astonished when a wise man ceases to speak in the company of lesser persons. The melody of a harp cannot overcome the noise of a drum and the perfume of ambergris must succumb to the smell of garlic.”

“Even after falling into mud, a jewel retains its costliness. Dust, although it may rise into the sky, is still only dust. Ability without education is deplorable and education without ability is thrown away.”

“A scholar is not meekly to overlook the folly of an ignorant person because in this way both parties are injured; the dignity of the former being lessened and the ignorance of the latter confirmed. Speak gracefully and kindly to someone with less knowledge.”

“Who interrupts the conversation of others so that they may know his excellence will only acquaint others with his degree of folly. An intelligent man will not give a reply unless he is asked a question. Though his words may be based on truth, his claim may be deemed impossible.”

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