“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” This is one of my favorite quotes from my favorite modern philosopher. And it has many profound implications. Foremost among them is that not all knowledge can be spoken of.

There are some kinds of knowledge that cannot be described or put into words. To try to do so would be a futile exercise. But that inability to verbalize that knowledge does not decrease its validity or its inherent truth. In fact, some of the deepest truths are often the ones we cannot adequately put into words. And some truths we can only taste through conscious action, a serendipitous experience, and sudden flash of insight. Grasping these truths is not simply about hearing them. If the heart and mind are not ready to absorb them, these truths will be nothing but empty words.

Consider even the profession of faith: bearing witness that there is no god but Allah. Easy to say — even non-Muslims can and do say those words. But the true knowledge behind the words can only come from somewhere else. More and more words are not going to help the situation either. Something more is needed. By practicing deen, abiding by sharia, pursuing good deeds, these are actions that allow one to taste knowledge that words cannot convey.

By the way, this is also why the Sahaba and the earlier generations were far superior in knowledge compared to later generations and certainly our generation. Through the use of computer databases, we have access to every single hadith ever narrated. All the words of revelation we could ever need are at our fingertips. But access to those words does not constitute knowledge. Even though any given sahabi most likely would only have a fraction of those words, he was still far more knowledgeable about his Lord and his deen than anyone today.