يُؤْتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
Yu’til-hikmata man yashā’u, waman yu’tal-hikmata faqad ūtiya khayran kathīrā. Wamā yadh-dhakkaru illā ulul-albāb
He grants wisdom to whomever He wishes; and whosoever is given wisdom, is certainly given an abundant good, and none takes admonition except those who possess intellect.
(Sūrat al-Baqarah, No 2, Āyat 269)
When a person tries to keep the heart pure and strives to obey Allah ‘azza wajall, the Almighty grants him wisdom – a discerning knowledge that allows him to distinguish truth from falsehood and make the right choices. Hikmah as mentioned in the verse above is a great gift from Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā. It is a particular type of knowledge that leads to cognition of hidden matters, awareness of true facts, and comprehension of subtle realities. Those who are wise recognize the difference between the Satanic temptations and godly inspirations. Wisdom is like an inner light that illuminates the path clearly for the one who possesses it. Allah grants wisdom to whom He wishes. It means those who are worthy of receiving it will get it. The actions and purity of the person are the cause of the effect of Allah granting wisdom.
The second part of the verse is in the passive voice and the giver of wisdom is not mentioned in this part. According to Allāmah in Tafsīr al-Mīzān, this is because of two reasons:
- Allah as the giver of wisdom has already been mentioned in the first part of the verse.
- It is to show that wisdom, in itself, is the source of great good. The good is not necessarily because it comes from Allah. When giving is attributed to Allah, it does not always mean that the thing given is good or that it will end in good. Wealth, for example, Allah grants it but it being good depends on how the person uses it. Allah says about Qārūn: . . . and We had given him of the treasures, so much that its keys would certainly weigh down a company of men possessed of strength . . .Thus We made the earth to swallow up him and his abode; so he has no body of helpers to assist him against Allah (Q 28:76 — 81). Blessings are good only when the end is good. Every affair depends for its good end on the person’s decisions and the help of Allah. Thus, wisdom is abundant good, not all good. It is one of the tools that will allow the human being to reach Allah (swt) and fulfill the goal of creation.
Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali b. Abī Tālib ‘alayhis-salām has many Hadith on the importance of wisdom. He says:
- Wisdom is the garden of the intelligent ones and the amusement of the noble. (Ghurar al-Hikam, h 1715)
- Wisdom is a tree that grows in the heart and produces fruit on the tongue. (Ghurar, h 1992)
- The one who is known for [his] wisdom is regarded by the eyes with dignity and awe. (Tuhafal-‘Uqūl, p. 97)
Luqmān has been mentioned in the Quran as being granted wisdom (Q 31:12). Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq says about Luqmān: I swear by Allah and say that Allah did not give wisdom owing to his lineage, wealth, family or physique but only because he was steadfast in obeying Allah and refraining from His disobedience. He was a silent gentleman who never talked without wisdom. He possessed a peaceful heart and a thoughtful mind. (Hayat al-Qulūb, v.1)
None can benefit from this privilege of wisdom except those who possess intellect. The word ‘Ulul-Albāb’ appears 16 times in the Quran. It means a people of understanding, of intelligence. This title is reserved only for those who use their intellect to find the path of truth and follow it in their lives.
Let this verse remind us of the beauty of wisdom. If we work hard for it, the Almighty will illuminate our hearts with one of His greatest blessings – the gift of wisdom.
Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh