11 December, 2018 | 2 Rabi al-Thani, 1440 H

"Silence saves you from regret"

- Imam Ali (as)

Learning
imge

Core Curriculum

Section 1 - God, Religion and Islam: An Introduction
  • Topic 1.1 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 1.2 - God, Allah and Religion

  • Topic 1.3 - Introduction to Islam

  • Topic 1.4 - What is “Religion” and What’s the Point of it Anyways?

  • Topic 1.5 - A Brief Introduction to the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam

Section 2 - Foundations of Islam - Theology
  • Topic 2.1 - Entering Islam: The Shahada

  • Topic 2.2 - The Usūl al-Dīn: The Fundamental Beliefs of Islam

  • Topic 2.3 - Tawhīd: The Unity and Oneness of God in Islam

  • Topic 2.4 - Adala: Divine Justice in Islam

  • Topic 2.5 - Nubuwwa: The Purpose of Prophethood in Islam

  • Topic 2.6 - Imāmah or divinely guided leadership in Islam after the Prophet Muhammad.

  • Topic 2.7 - Maʿād: The Day of Judgment in Islam

  • Topic 2.8 - The Sharīʿa: Purpose and Practice

  • Topic 2.9 - The Islamic Concept of the Nafs: Battling the Human Ego

  • Topic 2.10 - Satan, Jinns and Angels: Their Influence in the World

  • Topic 2.11 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

Section 3 - Foundations of Islam - Obligatory Acts
  • Topic 3.1 - Accepting Islam: Putting Faith into Action

  • Topic 3.2 - Jihād in Islamic Law and Spirituality

  • Topic 3.3 - Salāt: Obligatory Ritual Prayers in Islam

  • Topic 3.4 - Ritual Purity in Islamic Law: Understanding Tahāra and Najāsa

  • Topic 3.5 - The Five Categories of Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.6 - Tawalla and Tabarra, its Basics and Purpose

  • Topic 3.7 - The Purpose of Zakat and Khums in Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.8 - The Hajj Pilgrimage

  • Topic 3.9 - The Furūʿ al-Dīn: The Fundamental Practices of Islam

  • Topic 3.10 - Fasting in Islam, its Purpose, Dos and Don’ts

  • Topic 3.11 - Other Obligatory and Forbidden Acts in Islam

  • Topic 3.12 - Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice

  • Topic 3.13 - Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil in Islam

Section 4 - Prophethood in Islam
  • Topic 4.1 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Childhood (PART I of III)

  • Topic 4.2 - Bio: The Prophet Muhammad as a Prophet of God (PART II of III)

  • Topic 4.3 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Character (PART III of III)

  • Topic 4.4 - The Prophet Muhammad (s) as Messenger and Teacher

  • Topic 4.5 - The Prophet and his Relationships

  • Topic 4.6 - The Prophet’s Sunnah and Hadith

  • Topic 4.7 - Ghadīr and Arafah: The Two Last Sermons of the Prophet

  • Topic 4.8 - Jesus and Mary in Islam

Section 5 - The Qur'an and Hadith
  • Topic 5.1 - Islam and Other Religions

  • Topic 5.2 - What is the Qur’an? A Short Introduction to Islam’s Holy Book

  • Topic 5.3 - The Structure of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.4 - The Quran and Islamic law

  • Topic 5.5 - The Qur’an, Allah and Humankind

  • Topic 5.6 - Hadith and Sunnah, difference and variations

  • Topic 5.7 - The Reliability of Hadiths

  • Topic 5.8 - A Reflection on Verses of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.9 - Hadith al-Thaqalayn

  • Topic 5.10 - Imam Ali (as) and Nahj al-Balagha.

  • Topic 5.11 - Taqlid and Tawḍih Al Masail Genre of Literature

Section 6 - Measuring Good and Bad in Islam
  • Topic 6.1 - The Effects of Our Actions in this World

  • Topic 6.2 - The Gray Areas of Islamic Law and Morality

  • Topic 6.3 - Heaven and Hell in Islam

  • Topic 6.4 - Life and Death in Islam

  • Topic 6.5 - Guidance According to Islam

  • Topic 6.6 - Fate and the Consequences of our Choices in Islam

  • Topic 6.7 - The Effect of Culture and Environment in Shaping our Religious Choices

  • Topic 6.8 - Major Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.9 - Why Allah Allows People to Sin

  • Topic 6.10 - Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.11 - The Three Kinds of Rights in Islam

  • Topic 6.12 - Sinning Against Others and their Delayed Punishment

  • Topic 6.13 - Kufr in Islam

  • Topic 6.14 - Trivializing the Harām

  • Topic 6.15 - Benefits of Islamic Law in this World

  • Topic 6.16 - Good and Bad Deeds: The Spiritual Consequences of our Choices

Section 7 - The Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
  • Topic 7.1 - Islam and Knowledge: the Importance of Islamic Education

  • Topic 7.2 - The Ahl al-Kisa

  • Topic 7.3 - Imamah in the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.4 - Fatima al-Zahrah (as)

  • Topic 7.5 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir)

  • Topic 7.6 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq until Imam Hasan al-Askari)

  • Topic 7.7 - A Brief Look at the Life and Importance of Imam al-Mahdi (aj)

  • Topic 7.8 - Salawat and Atonement in Islam

  • Topic 7.9 - The Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet According to the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.10 - Clerical Hierarchies in Muslim Communities

  • Topic 7.11 - Mosques in Islam

  • Topic 7.12 - The Philosophy of Karbala and Majalis

  • Topic 7.13 - A Brief Biography of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)

  • Topic 7.14 - The Battle of Karbala: A Brief History

Section 8 - Islamic Relationships, Sects and Conflicts
  • Topic 8.1 - Misconceptions about Shi’ism

  • Topic 8.2 - Major Sects of Islam

  • Topic 8.3 - Islam and Religious Conflicts

  • Topic 8.4 - Islam and Rights

  • Topic 8.5 - Sunnism and Shi’ism, beginnings and historical developments.

imge

Special Topics

Section 9 - Independent Topics
  • Topic 9.1 - Muslim Converts – Welcome to Islam!

  • Topic 9.2 - Basic Dos and Don’ts of Being a Muslim

  • Topic 9.3 - Halal Food and Zabiha

  • Topic 9.4 - Family, Parents and Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.5 - Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.6 - Islam and Sex

  • Topic 9.7 - Modesty in Islam

  • Topic 9.8 - Women’s Menstruation in Islam

  • Topic 9.9 - Music, Alcohol, Drugs and Pork in Islam

  • Topic 9.10 - Islam and Science

  • Topic 9.11 - A Reading List of Islamic Knowledge

  • Topic 9.13 - Ritual Prayers and Supplications in Islam

  • Topic 9.14 - Death & Burial Rituals in Islam

  • Topic 9.15 - The Battle of Armageddon: An Islamic View

  • Topic 9.16 - The Muslim Calendar

  • Topic 9.17 - Muslims and non-Muslims in the Shariah

  • Topic 9.18 - A Timeline of Major Events in Islamic History

  • Topic 9.19 - Introducing the Qur’an: Why it is the way it is

  • Topic 9.20 - The School of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq

  • Topic 9.21 - Major Fields in Islamic Studies

  • Topic 9.22 - The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam

  • Topic 9.24 - Islam, Racism and Anti-Semitism

Section 10 - Islam, Religion, and Modern Controversies
  • Topic 10.1 - Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree

  • Topic 10.2 - Tawhīd: The Muslim God according to the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

  • Topic 10.3 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Being (Wujūd)

  • Topic 10.4 - God’s Existence: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  • Topic 10.5 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Design

  • Topic 10.6 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 10.7 - Why did God Create Us? The Purpose of our Creation

  • Topic 10.8 - Why Humans Need Religion according to Islam

  • Topic 10.9 - Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam

  • Topic 10.11 - Do Non-Muslims Go to Hell?

Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam

Abstract

The Arabic word jahl is ubiquitously used in the Qur’an but often mistranslated. Conceptually speaking, it means foolishness and ignorance of God.

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

The typical word for ignorance in Arabic is something called Jahl. A jāhil is someone who is ignorant. But the meaning of jahl in Islam, particularly in the Qur’an and the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is quite different from this.  

 

In this lesson, we will take a look at what the meaning of jahl and spiritual ignorance in Islam and what it can mean for us and our spiritual lives. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And when Moses said unto his people: Lo! Allah commandeth you that ye sacrifice a cow, they said: Dost thou make game of us? He answered: Allah forbid that I should be among the foolish! (Chapter 2, verse 67 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool. (Chapter 33, verse 72 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The word jahl is often translated as ignorance. Ignorance is translated as a lack of knowledge and information. According to the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), this translation is wrong. 

 

Most often than not, the word jahl in Islam means foolishness. 

 

For example, if you look at the first volume of Usul al-Kafi, one of Islam’s most important books of hadith, one of the beginning chapters is called Kitab al-Aql wa al-Jahl, meaning “The Book of the Intellect and Foolishness.”  

 

If you go through the book, you will also notice another chapter called “the Book of the Excellence of Knowledge”. Notice here that the word Jahl is not juxtaposed with Ilm or knowledge, but it is contrasted with Intellect.  

 

So here it becomes pretty obvious that Jahl is foolishness, and really, this is what makes sense. Conceptually speaking, the word jahl is similar to the word safaaha in Arabic, which also means foolishness.  

 

The Qur’an describes people who reject the truth or God as jāhil, meaning that they are fools.  

 

They may have a lot of knowledge and a lot of information, but despite this they are still fools and are ignorant of God. Jahl in this sense can also refer to ignorance of God which is, at its root, foolishness regarding Allah. 

 

The same here can be applied to the Devil. The Devil rejected God’s grace by disobeying Him. He knew everything there was to be known, yet what he did was act foolishly in spite of knowing! 

 

Another opposite of jahl that we can think of that is related to the Aql itself is wisdom. The Arabic word for wisdom is hikmah. The word hikmah comes from the word hakama, meaning to bind something together. 

 

In the Islamic context, hikmah means to take relevant knowledge and bind it together and as a result, use it in its most relevant optimal fashion that is aimed at the greater good. 

 

The inability to do this, that is, binding information together in a relevant fashion is called jahl in Islam. 

 

So what does all of this have to do with our lives?  

 

Well, think about it. How many of us know that we must obey Allah and follow His commands in order to repair our interior spiritual dysfunction? How many of us know that because of the evil deeds we commit, we may drag ourselves to hell? 

 

How many of us know that sins not only corrupt our souls, but they are also the reason why our duas or prayers to God are not accepted? 

 

Despite knowing all of this, we continue to make foolish choices by choosing short term pleasure over long term, eternal happiness in the next world. 

 

In other words, despite knowing what the greater good is, and what is wrong and evil, we still risk our souls in this world and in the Hereafter for the sake of fleeting and worthless pleasures.  

 

In Islam, we’re given the following example to help us think better about this: would you choose a temporary mansion that can breakdown anytime or a mediocre house that will last forever? But in Islam’s context, it’s the choice between the eternal mansion and the temporary mediocre house. Foolishness or jahl in Islam is to choose the temporary mediocre house. 

 

Another way of acting foolishly is through extremism. Allah and His messenger taught us to be rational, composed and peaceful individuals. The last thing the Prophet (s) wanted us to be was violent people. Yet despite this, some decide to act foolishly and turn to terrorism. 

 

Fortunately, the Prophet Muhammad (s) warned us of these people.  

 

Imam Ali (as) once said: I heard the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, say, “In the last days, there will be young people rebelling with foolish dreams. They will say the best of words but they will go out of Islam just as an arrow goes through its game. Their faith will not go beyond their throats.  

 

What this hadith is telling us is that fools, even when they have a lot of information and knowledge, will be deprived of īmān or a true and strong relationship with God. As a result of this, these kinds of people don’t end up staying in Islam for too long, they eventually end up leaving it, either outwardly, or inwardly.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

Aql

intellect

Jahl

foolishness

foolishness

fool

Safaaha

foolishness

Hikmah

wisdom

Q1

What is ignorance in Islam?

Ignorance of God 

Q2

What is jahl and who is the Jāhil?

Jahl is foolishness when it comes to truth. The jāhil is the fool. 

Q3

Can a jāhil have knowledge?

Yes, he can have a lot of information, but still be a fool, like the Devil. 

Q4

What are other words similar to jahl in Islam?

Safaahah is one, which means foolishness or idiocy. 

 

Q5

What is wisdom in Islam?

Wisdom is to be able to put knowledge to relevant use to the benefit of the greater good.  

 

jahl
ignorance
jāhil
safaaha
hikmah
wisdom
knowledge
ilm
al-kafi
usul al-kafi