On Getting Aql-e-Saleem (Pure Intellect)

[These are the rough notes of a talk delivered by Alimah S. Ahmed on Friday, Feb 27, 2015]

Sometimes we become too intellectual, sometimes too spiritual. Sometimes it becomes our mizaj (temperament) to be one of these things. It happens to all of us. Some people go more towards intellectual things, but they cannot do dhikr. While, some people do so much dhikr but if you ask them one fiqhi question, they are like “I don’t know.” So we need to have both.

The Significance of Having Wisdom

What is aql-e-saleem; sound understanding; to understand in a perspective that is Islam or Allah oriented. Some people have wisdom, like Hadrat Luqman (as) was given hikmah. Some people are good and pure hearted but do not have hikmah, even if the girl is a high GPA student. A wise girl would know how to react in a situation, how to apply the deen and knowledge which you are learning. You have to work on it as well, just as we work on our hearts to make it a qalb-e-saleem.

No one is born with aql-e-saleem. Even if you ask a very wise person they would say I made a  lot of mistakes at young age. Like mashaAllah, and inshaAllah, you are studying for exams and using your aql. It should also be a qalbi mehnat, make du’a too but also put in effort (aqli). If you feel you can do the qalbi things; dhikr etc., but you cannot do the other, then do mujahida (strive) for it. If you are too aqli, try to do namaz and dhikr with studies. For example, before opening books, do silent dhikr for 30 seconds. This is a way to combine both; to become qalbi in aqli persuits.

It can be the other way around that a person cannot be aqli and they are more qalbi — first of all, we should not classify ourselves as being aqli or qalbi, because then we will not try to change. There was a scholar who was very qalbi and his teacher was very aqli. Once he asked something from the teacher. The teacher replied 2-3 times but he could not understand. The teacher said that tu bhi sufi, tera baap bhi sufi, ja Allah Allah kar. He was heart broken by this response, put in a lot of effort in his aqli pursuits and eventually became a great scholar. If we classify ourselves we are just going to get ourselves stuck in a trap.

There was a girl who mentioned that I pray but I cannot feel anything. Actually tasawwuf makes you feel during whatever you are doing. It teaches you how to think and how to use whatever you have learnt in deen. If you hear the bayans and talks, they are mostly based o interactions and daily things, it’s a way to teach hikmah. Hikmah cannot be gained through books. It comes from mashaikh.

In our history there are a lot of girls who got mumtaz. I can take out a register and show you a whole list. However, not all of them have wisdom and hikmah. To learn hikmah, use your mind, think, observe and learn. Some people don’t even have observational skills. They just cannot apply what they have learnt. How to be proactive, how to be more creative, how to apply it in daily life? Even though they might have taqwa and intellect too, and they may be doing the alimah course too. These things are learnt from our elders.

Once a girl asked me how to become like someone you look up to. This is something called role-modelling and is highly emphasized in the west. For this, you can directly ask the person what they do in a given situation. When I wonder what some person would do in a situation, it becomes easy for me. If I  keep thinking what I should do then I would get stuck. This is something you get after a lot of observation, a lot of bayan, a lot of travelling (with these people). So you naturally know what they would do.

If you are wondering whether a person has hikmah, you need to observe. There was once a girl who would keep writing all the time. I used to wonder her notes would be really good. However, it does not mean that she is absorbing and understanding everything. So it’s very important to have good role models in ilm, tasawwuf and dhikr. And to ask them and do mashwara (consultation) regarding situations or problems.

Quran: We site these examples for people, but no one understands them except the knowledgeable ones. [29:42]

It means to look at things and understand them, as far as the intellect can take us. Aql means “rope” in Arabic. It means to hold on to something. It means a rope that tames your nafs. Sometimes you do have qalbi dhikr and mehnat. But you need to transfer it into hikmah. A pure heart will tell you what is the right thing to do and a pure intellect will tell you how to do it.

A lot of times girls don’t know how to transfer their love of Allah swt and Nabi sws. They have good intentions, but because of lack of hikmah, they make mistakes and their parents and family are pushed away. There was a girl many years ago who used to love sunnah. That’s a very good thing. However, once her mother said to me that we are old so we cannot sit down because of our condition, but our daughter insists on it being sunnah so she sits in the lounge and eats separately. So what type of a religion is this that teaches such things? People actually say these things.

Many years ago my cousin was having a function so they asked me to make a small du’a and then start the program. So I thought that it is wrong but also that I have a chance otherwise they don’t even ever ask me. I got a chance to ask our teacher about this. They said that evil will happen for sure. Because of your du’a, evil will be lessened. So go and make the du’a and when the program starts you can go somewhere else. I have given this answer to many many girls. Sometimes you just need to ask others. Sometimes you don’t even need to ask. This is a general rule that if I go somewhere and sin is lessened then go and you can leave later.

Once there was a famous teacher, and the king wanted to test his intelligence. So he gave him an assignment. This is the best way to test someone’s intelligence. That’s what ulema and mashaikh do if they want to test the someone’s intelligence: they give him/her a project without many instructions and see what they do.

The king made the teacher in-charge of a library. He visited the library after sometime and saw that every book was clean and had a silver paper cover. So he asked that I didn’t give you any money, then how did you get so many covers? The teacher replied that I noticed that you get a lot of letters and those letters have a silver covering. I collected all those covers and used them for these books.

Then that teacher was made in-charge of hens. Soon after the king noticed that they had become very healthy. So he asked the teacher again. He said that I noticed everyday there are so many guests in your house and a lot of small scraps of food are wasted. So I asked others to save them and then I would feed those pieces to the hens.

Those people who have hikmah, you can see this hikmah in all of their aspects of lives. Similarly those who used to use aqal a lot in dunya, when they come to deen they use the same aql.

Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) gives the example of Shaykh Hussain— and I think a lot of you don’t appreciate him. He actually wrote a book which is now included in medical course in USA. Shaykh Kamaluddin gives his example, he studied 2 years in madrassah here. You study medicine like crazy right? You have to give your whole self for this field. He studied the madrassah course in Islamabad and people there said we have not seen anyone study the way he had studied. Same I can say for Shaykh Kamaluddin that no one studied like he has studied, even with family, marriage and everything else. Shaykh hussain and Shaykh Kamaluddin both had this. They had aql that they could have used for dunya, which they did; they got the degrees, but they also used it for deen.

But if you have aql in dunya, getting high GPAs in universities and only maqbool in alimiyyah then maza nahi aya. Aql is often reserved for universities. It needs to translate into some type of creative pursuits.

Veils of the Intellect

1. Desires/shehwat:

2. Anger/ghazab.

Those who have these two veils, even if they are intelligent, their intellect stops working. That’s why it is important to have qalb e saleem. Your aql cannot be an aql-e-saleem without qalb-e-saleem. Because aql-e-saleem is only then when your desires and anger are in control. So there is a connection. Many times people get the nur and qalb-e-saleem but they don’t reach that level of hikmah that will help you in daily life and routine.

For example, a lot of girls get married then they have all these sticky situations which they have never studied about. But girls use their aql and deal with the situation. In a situation people make blunders or wise decisions. Sometimes they say yeah I know I should not have done that.

When this knowledge transfers into their lives and hikmah, then you realize that yes that girl is intelligent. Then you forget their scores in ilm. Ilm should be used as a type of life reform.

Types of Intellect

1. The aql which looks for worldly benefits. There was a man who had a sugar business, he would buy sugar and sell at the same price but he was making a lot of profit. He said that when I buy sugar, I get it in a plastic bag, when I give sugar I sell without the bag and get 10 Rs. profit per bag.

Once there was a person selling watermelon but no one was buying it because it was tasteless. So he put up a sign that said: sugar free watermelon. People started buying it for their relatives with sugar problems. These people made a good situation out of a bad situation. Ilm will not give you the answer, you will have to use your aql. But this is aql-e-muash of business minded people.

2. The aql which look for benefits of akhirah. This intellect does not look at worldly benefits, it looks at the world with akhirah tinted lenses. One time a person gave coins to buy something from a waliullah, but they were fake. He started crying because he feared what what if his aimaal are also khote/fake in the eyes of Allah swt? These people see everything in the color of akhirah and Allah swt. Wherever you use this intellect, that’s where it will give you benefit. Sensible is a better word: it teaches you how to deal with the reality.

One is ideal, one is real. We see so many sunnahs and we realize we don’t have much in our lives. So just imagine how much can we do in this situation? If you can bring it into your life, you can bring it into others lives. Sometimes we have to say things at the right time. Many girls say they want to share things with their friends and family, but there is a time for everything. If you do it at the wrong time then it will backfire and parents will say that why are you studying this ilm, just drop the course. If you say it on the right time then the same thing can have a positive effect too.


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