6. Man is essentially ignorant, and becomes learned

through acquiring (knowledge).



We have already explained at the beginning of these sections 31 that man belongs to the genus of animals and that God distinguished him from them by the ability to think, which He gave man and through which man is able to arrange his actions in an orderly manner. This is the discerning intellect. Or, when it helps him to acquire from his fellow men a knowledge of ideas and of the things that are useful or detrimental to him, it is the experimental intellect. Or, when it helps him to obtain perception of the existent things as they are, whether they are absent or present,32 it is the speculative intellect.

Man's ability to think comes to him (only) after the animality in him has reached perfection. It starts from discernment. Before man has discernment, he has no knowledge whatever, and is counted one of the animals. His origin, the way in which he was created from a drop of sperm, a clot of blood, and a lump of flesh,33 still determines his (mental make-up). Whatever he attains subsequently is the result of sensual perception and the "hearts" - that is, the ability to think - God has given him. In recounting the favor He bestowed upon us, God said: "And He gave you hearing and vision and hearts." 34

In his first condition, before he has attained discernment, man is simply matter, in as much as he is ignorant of all knowledge. He reaches perfection of his form through knowledge, which he acquires through his own organs. Thus, his human essence reaches perfection of existence.

One may compare the word of God when His Prophet began to receive the revelation. "Recite: In the name of your Lord who created, created man out of a clot of blood. Recite: And your Lord the most noble who taught with the calamus, taught man what he did not know." 35 That is, He let him acquire knowledge he did not yet possess, after he had been a clot of blood and a lump of flesh.

Man's nature and essence reveal to us the essential ignorance and acquired (character of the) knowledge that man possesses, and the noble verse of the Qur'an refers to it at the very beginning and opening of the revelation, and establishes through it the fact that (man) has received (from God) as a favor the first of the stages of his existence, which is humanity and its two conditions, the innate one and the acquired one.

"God has been knowing and wise." 36