Hazrat Ali R.A once replied to a group of ten learned men who said,"We seek your permission for our putting a question to you." Hazrat Ali R.A replied, "You are at perfect liberty." They said, Of knowledge and wealth, which is better and why. Please give a separate answer to each of us.
Hazrat Ali answered in ten parts:
Quoted in "Early Muslim Scientists: Their contributions to the Natural Sciences"
- Knowledge is the legacy of the Prophets; wealth is the inheritance of the Pharaohs. Therefore, knowledge is better than wealth.
- You are to guard your wealth but knowledge guards you. Therefore,knowledge is better.
- A man of wealth has many enemies, while a man of knowledge has many friends.Hence, knowledge is better.
- Knowledge is better because it increases with distribution, while wealth decreases by that act.
- Knowledge is better because a learned man is apt to be generous while a wealthy person is apt to be miserly.
- Knowledge is better because it cannot be stolen while wealth can be stolen.
- Knowledge is better because time cannot harm knowledge but wealth rusts in course of time and wears away.
- Knowledge is better because it is boundless while wealth is limited and you can keep account of it.
- Knowledge is better because it illuminates the mind while wealth is apt to blacken it.
- Knowledge is better because knowledge induced the humanity in our Prophet to say to GOD "We worship thee as we are your servants," while wealth engendered in Pharaoh and Nimrod the vanity which made them claim god-head.
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