‘O, Allah! Cause us to see things as they really are!’

Two men were wandering when they came across a strange signboard which said, ‘We Teach the Learned How to Learn’.

The men were puzzled. Anyhow, they followed the directions and reached the spot where they saw an old man surrounded by his young students. The men calculated that that old man must be the one they were concerned with. They uttered the greetings and shared their amazement and curiosity. In order to quench their thirst, the old man decided to conduct a little demonstration. He inquired one of them if he could identify the thing standing just across from where they were all sitting. The man replied emphatically that that was a tree.

The old man said, “Did it itself give you this introduction of itself?”

Perplexed, the man said, “How can it be possible? It is a description I bestowed on it.”

The old man said, “When each and every element of its account emanates from the name you confer on it then how can you say that whatever you know is what the object truly is? It means that you had a certain conception of this thing and upon encountering it you enshrouded it with that conception. How can you claim to know it?

Remember, our being also gets mingled with our sense data and abstractions which cripple our claims of knowledge. Our being blocks our perception. And, therefore, we need illumination to overcome this darkness.

So, what is knowledge?

Knowledge is the cognizance we attain when we discern things under the divine light of the All-Knowing (Al-Alim, one of the attributes of Allah Almighty).

A misalignment between ontology and epistemology will not generate awareness but vacuous conceptual impositions on things.


Note: This is NOT a literal translation. The original expressions may lose their core if they are subjected to word to word translation.