Wisdom and Intelligence Are Bestowed by Allah

Towards the end of Sūrat al-Baqarah, we come across the following beautiful āyah:

يُؤْتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ.

He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.” (Sūrat Al-Baqarah, 269)

What is wisdom?

Under the tafsīr (explanation) of this āyah, we read how the scholars define the word حكمة (ḥikmah), “wisdom,” and what is meant by it in this āyah:

Many scholars said wisdom is the Qur’ān.

Others said it is prophethood (النبوة).

Others said it is knowledge of the dīn (المعرفة بدين الله).

Others said it is fear of Allāh (خشية).

RELATED: Knowledge vs. The Appearance of Knowledge: Know the Difference!

In the tafsīr of Qurṭubī, we read:

حدثنا مروان بن محمد حدثنا رفدة الغساني قال : أخبرنا ثابت بن عجلان الأنصاري قال : كان يقال : إن الله ليريد العذاب بأهل الأرض فإذا سمع تعليم المعلم الصبيان الحكمة صرف ذلك عنهم . قال مروان : يعني بالحكمة القرآن .

“It has been narrated by Marwān ibn Muḥammad that it was said, “Verily Allāh would certainly want to send punishment upon the people of the earth, but if there came a sound of a teacher teaching young pupils wisdom, He deflected that away from them.” Marwān said, what is meant by “wisdom” is the Qur’ān.”

I find it fascinating to think about the word “حكمة” (wisdom) and compare our mainstream conceptions of it to the definitions given by the mufassirūn.

Also, the phrase أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ, which we find often in the Qur’ān, means “those of sound mind and strong intellect.”

Sometimes, in our modern world, people assume that they can attain wisdom and intelligence by their own will and effort.

Rather than seeking such things from Allāh, or through the Qur’ān, they seek these things elsewhere. They may even prioritize other things over dīnī knowledge and Qur’ān, whether it be secular education, or careers, or personal experience.

However this āyah grounds us and teaches us the reality:

Wisdom can only be granted by Allāh.

And wisdom can only come from Allāh’s Straight Path, and from knowledge of His Book.

May Allāh grant us true wisdom.

RELATED: Secular Education: Turning Away from the Yellow Brick Road

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