What is wisdom? The prophet Muhammad defined wisdom as follows:
Do what you should do when you should do it.
Refuse to do what you should not do;
And, when it is not clear, wait until you are sure.
We all like to think that we are wise. And that is certainly one reason we keep making so many foolish mistakes. To pretend to wisdom is to ignore the reality of our own shortcomings. How can we learn from our mistakes until we are wise enough to look at them clearly? Humility and self-awareness are among the prerequisites to wisdom.
Action is the final essential component of wisdom. Knowledge not acted upon is merely a collection of facts. A donkey with a load of books is still a donkey. But when we act on our knowledge, we open ourselves up to wisdom.
If we listen closely to the words of the wise, and we act on them, perhaps we ourselves will one day be counted among their ranks. Then, our own words will serve to guide others.
- excerpt from Essential Sufism