Knowledge through sufferings

[CONTENTS] The other source of knowledge is that which is perfect in the highest degree and makes a man realize the certainty of the existence of God. This consists of the adversities and hardships which the prophets and the righteous are made to suffer at the hands of their enemies or by a heavenly decree. Sufferings make a man realize the full force of the legal injunctions which are thus illustrated in his practical life. Religious dogmas are mere theories and their perfection can be tested only through practice. A person who undergoes sufferings has an occasion to apply the treasure of knowledge accumulated in his heart to the actual circumstances of life, and by their right application he becomes, as it were, a perfect embodiment of Divine guidance.

The moral qualities, of whose knowledge the brain and the heart are the sole repositories at first, are displayed through actual practice in all the external and internal faculties; and forgiveness, revenge, patience, mercy, etc., are not mere names to such a person, but become realities which he has felt and seen, which thus make an impression upon his external and internal nature. On this point, the Supreme Being says:

"And We shall certainly try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits. And give good news to the patient, who, when a misfortune befalls them say 'Surely we are Allah's, and to Him we shall return.' Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord; and those are the followers of the right course" - 2: 155-157.

Here we are told that there is no great excellence in mere knowledge which is treasured in the heart or brain, but that the knowledge to be valued is that which, on account of its application to the practical course of life, gives a coloring to a man's life. To improve and strengthen one's knowledge, the best means is its application in practice so that its impression is left not only upon the mind but upon every faculty and limb. In fact, every sort of knowledge, however low its comparative value, is defective so long as it is untested by practice. It is to this that the Lord calls our attention in the above verses. We are told that our morals are not finally developed unless they are proved by sufferings and trials which stand to them in the relation of practice to knowledge:

"You will certainly be tried in your property and your persons. And you will certainly hear fron those who have been given the Book before you and from the idolaters much abuse. And if you are patient and keep your duty, surely this is an affair of great resolution" 3 : 185.

These verses show conclusively that knowledge is not perfect and fruitful without practical application. Knowledge which is at its best in practice is a source of blessings, but that which never passes into the domain of the practical has no value.