Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawzīyah, Miftāh Dār Al-Sa’ādah, 1:418+
The superiority of knowledge over wealth is understood from numerous angles:
- Knowledge is the inheritance of the Prophets, while wealth is merely the inheritance of kings and the rich.
- Wealth is diminished by spending, whereas knowledge grows when it is disbursed.
- When the possessor of wealth dies, his wealth leaves him, whereas a man’s knowledge accompanies him to his grave.
- Knowledge is what judges and rules over wealth, but wealth does not judge knowledge.
- Wealth is acquired by the believer, the unbeliever, the righteous and the sinful; but beneficial knowledge is not acquired except by the believer.
- The scholar is needed by the kings and those beneath them, whereas the possessor of wealth is only needed by the poor and destitute.
- The soul is ennobled, purified and developed through the acquisition of and concern for knowledge – that is part of its completeness and nobility, whereas wealth neither purifies, completes nor adds a noble quality to the soul. On the contrary, the soul declines, becomes more greedy and more miserly through the gathering and concern for wealth. Thus, the soul’s concern for knowledge is its very completion, whereas the soul’s concern for wealth is its very decline.
- Wealth calls the soul to transgression, pride and arrogance; whereas knowledge calls it to humility and the establishment of servitude and worship [of Allāh]. Thus, wealth calls the soul to the qualities of mere kings, whereas knowledge calls to the qualities of true servants [of Allah].
- Knowledge attracts and conveys the soul to the felicity it was created for, whereas wealth is a veil between the two.
- Enrichment with knowledge is loftier than enrichment with material wealth. Because being rich with wealth is enrichment by something external to the human: if that wealth were to depart in one night he would be immediately destitute. However, richness of knowledge is not under the threat of poverty, rather it is in ever increase. Thus, it is in reality the highest form of richness, as was said: I gained independent from everyone without acquiring wealth. Verily, the highest richness is in freedom from needing a thing, not in needing to possess it.
- Wealth enslaves the one who covets it and makes him into a slave of it, as the Prophet – Allāh’s praise and peace be upon him – said, “Wretched be the slave of the dirham and the dīnār…” But knowledge makes its possessor a servant and worshipper of his Lord and Creator, it does not call him except to servitude to Allāh alone.
- The love of knowledge and its pursuit is the root of all obedience [to Allāh], whereas the love of this worldly life (dunyā) and its wealth is the root of all evil.
- The value of a rich man is his wealth, while the value of a learned man is his knowledge. The former is valued according to his wealth: if it ceases, so does his value; he is left valueless. The value of a learned man does not decrease, it is always on the rise.