Knowledge of self

10 mins read
Knowledge of self

Abu Musa (r.a) narrated: “The Prophet (s.a) said, ‘The guidance and knowledge that Allah, the Exalted, the Exalted, sends through me is like rain. It falls on a land, part of which is a beautiful tribe. It accepts water and grows meadows and abundant grass. Another part of it is arid, and it retains water, and Allah Almighty makes people benefit from it. They drink from it themselves and water their livestock.

This rain falls on another kind of land which is flat and lost. It does not hold water nor does it grow grass. This is the case with the one who understands the religion of Allah and benefits from the guidance and knowledge sent by Allah through me and informs others about it, and the one who does not even raise his head (out of arrogance when he hears about it) and does not accept the guidance of Allah sent by me.” (Bukhari 79/238, Muslim 2282/15)

This hadith is an important piece of news that looks at all aspects of life. Because, as you may have noticed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) talks about three types of people. One group of them is like fertile soil. It absorbs knowledge, accepts it, and there is an abundance of herbs and everyone benefits from it.

Another is like a rock. It collects rainwater in its hollows, and this water is drunk and fed to animals, and it is not wasted. Some of them are the most common group today. No matter what business you are engaged in or whether you are engaged in knowledge and wisdom, you will notice that this typology is very numerous. They are like flat and slippery rocks that neither hold water nor nourish the meadow.

So we understand that a group of people both benefit from knowledge and benefit their environment. Everyone benefits from it. The one who is like a hollow rock does not internalize it as much as the soil, but he both learns, collects and distributes it; he teaches.

The third type of person is like a person who does not raise his head out of arrogance when he hears, and does not try to learn.

Knowledge of God, existence, self

Throughout human history, knowledge and information have been grouped under three categories. The first is self-knowledge, that is, knowledge of the self. The second is the knowledge of the Creator, the knowledge of God, and the third is the knowledge of existence outside oneself. Knowledge of being. These three concepts, namely self-knowledge, knowledge of God and knowledge of being, encompass all types of knowledge. For example, knowing oneself means, in essence, encompassing and encompassing the sciences that we call human sciences as a whole, such as psychology, sociology and philosophy, which have emerged as a result of human experience and experimentation. Add to this the Islamic sciences such as Sufism, fiqh, tafsir and theology. Although we know that the source of Islamic sciences such as Sufism, theology, tafsir, etc. is divine, every idea and theorem that is said – by feeding from the source – is self-knowledge as a result of the acquisitions that man has acquired through his own efforts.

The knowledge of the Almighty, on the other hand, is more than the self-knowledge that human beings need as a thinking creature, it is the knowledge of the universe. When we withdraw the knowledge of God, that is, the sacred, no civilization, ethics, responsibility or conscience can be realized. Man finds himself in a drift.

Man defines his existence, his world of meaning with the other. In human relations, man finds himself in competition and struggles for life like any other mammalian species. If we analyze it with a deeper thought; the universe proceeds in a state of conflict and tension. Physical collisions followed by disintegrations and decompositions create new objects. Biological tensions, change and transformation/evolution result in the existence of new creatures. All this physical and biological struggle for existence and life, the state of conflict, also necessitates a reconciliation. This is because strife, competition and conflict necessitates the development of its own natural laws and rules after a while. Human beings may need to kill in order to live, but living and killing also require a set of rules. The propositions we call morality and ethics must acquire transcendental meanings. In this context, it is necessary to produce concepts. And the way to produce these transcendent concepts and to prevent them from being transcended is the need for the knowledge of a superior other, namely God. For these reasons, the concept we call God comes into play and the civilization that human beings establish in the world of conflict, competition and struggle gains legitimacy by gaining transcendent meanings. This is manifested not as human self-knowledge but as the knowledge of God.

The knowledge of existence is the knowledge of what existence is. Like our search for answers to questions like what is a pen, what is a notebook, what is the sun, what is a virus or a disease… This knowledge of being is the knowledge that one cannot take with one when one comes to the end of one’s life. We can only take the knowledge of self and God with us when we leave here. This is because, when we look at the flow of life and the result we have reached, we realize that the knowledge of existence is not the knowledge that makes us exist, but the knowledge that makes us feel that we exist. However, it is the knowledge of ourselves and the knowledge of God that we believe brings us into existence. Since the place we arrive at, where we look at the end itself (our existence), is formed by a new knowledge of existence, we will not need what is left behind. The meaning of “the latter is better than the former” will emerge.

This third type of knowledge can also be what the Semitic divine religions in general and Islam in particular call satanic knowledge, useless/demonic knowledge such as who stole what, who robbed how, how they deceived.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) says that I have brought you knowledge about your Creator, your God. Through revelation one can access the knowledge of the Creator. At the same time, the Holy Prophet (PBUH), by virtue of his mission, also brings knowledge of the self to man. The line drawn by the prophet in the knowledge of existence is explained by saying “I am a human being like you” and the difference is explained by saying that he has the wisdom of the knowledge of existence, but how it is given depends on your effort and work. For example, a prophet may have wisdom and knowledge about the reality of a virus or a calamity and Allah’s intention or purpose in this matter. But the prophet is not obliged to have knowledge about how to cure the virus and how it mutates. He does not have such an obligation in terms of being human.

Human beings have an inner world and the world they live in. Self-knowledge is essentially a place where one does not look at oneself in layers, with layers of status, roles and memorization, without knowledge of one’s inner world and the world in which one lives. The inner world can only be accessed when all the statuses, masks, roles, memorization and dependencies that the world in which one lives imposes on oneself are removed. The self is the space that is freed from all the attached knowledge, all the mechanisms and parameters of the world in which one lives, through effort or will.

So, is the inner world of the human being a place that can be reached quickly?

more to come….


Ahmet Turan Esin

-He is interested in theology, mysticism and philosophy. He publishes his writings on fikrikadim.com. He gives seminars and lectures.

-İlahiyat, tasavvuf ve felsefeyle ilgilenir. Yazılarını fikrikadim.com'da yayınlar. Seminer ve dersler verir.-

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