Wisdom: Precious as Pearls

June 23, 2019

Written by Animesh Joshi

 

“Collect as precious pearls the words of the wise and virtuous.” – Emir Abdelkader

 

Abdelkader posits that wisdom is something to be as valued as precious pearls. This may appear obvious, since almost all of us strive to become smarter individuals. But the more relevant question is from whom we obtain the wisdom necessary for our improvement. This is where Abdelkader’s guidance is crucial. “Precious pearls” come from the wise and virtuous. Often, we believe that we know best, but there are many other people out there who know far more. Abdelkader believes that we should learn from those who know more and who are good people at their core. In order to improve ourselves, we must learn from the wise and virtuous and treat their wisdom as valuable as precious pearls.

 

This post will attempt to do exactly that by isolating Abdelkader’s “precious pearls” and analyzing how his wisdom can be used to guide our lives today.

 

“It is with a word as with an arrow– once let it loose and it does not return.”

In this quote, Abdelkader illustrates the deadly effect of our words using a comparison to arrows. Just as arrows can never be stopped once they are fired, words can never be retracted. This dictum is especially important in the modern era. With the advent of social media, it has become easier to communicate with others than ever before. Now, people send each other messages, pictures, tweets, and post without even giving it a second thought. Thus, we must be wary of what we put out onto social media (and also say to others) by realizing that whatever we say, post, or send can never be taken back.

 

“Fear that man who fears not God.”

Here, Abdelkader attempts to prove why faith is important for everyone. When humans cease to have faith in something higher than themselves, they can choose to do whatever they want – without constraint in both war and peace. Faith doesn’t necessarily need to be in God, but some other higher order thing that constrains our actions (religion, ethics, science, etc.)– otherwise there are no limitations on our actions – allowing immortality and injustice to thrive.

 

“If you think God is what the different communities believe – the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, polytheists, and others – He is that, but also more. If you think and believe what the prophets, saints, and angels profess – He is that, but He is still more. None of His creatures worship Him in His entirety. No one is an infidel in all the ways relating to God. No one knows all God’s facets. Each of His creatures worships and knows Him in a certain way and is ignorant of Him in others. Error does not exist in this world except in a relative manner.”

This quote represents the largest facet of Abdelkader’s legacy – a respect for other faiths regardless of their beliefs. As he points out, God is much more than whatever a singular person or even a faith can comprehend, God transcends any simple definition or constraint. This idea is especially important in the modern era, where religion often breeds intolerance instead of inclusion. We must all realize, that despite our religious differences, we all believe in a manifestation or idea of God. Faith isn’t about which God we believe in, but rather the idea there is belief in something (that doesn’t even have to be God) which isn’t ourselves. Realizing this would allow us to stop the root of many of the world’s largest problems.

 

After collecting some of these “precious pearls”, what will you do to act on them? Are there any other quotes from Abdelkader that have stood out to you or impacted your life in a significant way? Maybe think of a time where you either heeded or ignored the advice of these dictums previously. What have you experienced that could potentially back up Abdelkader’s advice? Or run contrary to it? Comment your thoughts below!

 

These quotes were collected from John Kiser’s book Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader (1808-1883).

 

 

Animesh Joshi is a junior in high school. His passion for world history  led to him discovering Emir Abdelkader and later, winning the 2018 high school Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize essay contest. In the future, Animesh is interested in studying Political Science and Philosophy. 

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