A learned and well-known philosopher once replied to a group of ten others who said, ‘We seek your permission to ask you a few questions.’
The philosopher replied, ‘You are at perfect liberty.’
They said, ‘Of knowledge and wealth, which is better and why? Please give a separate answer for each.’
The learned philosopher did as they requested. He answered their questions in ten parts:
- Knowledge is a legacy of the Prophets; wealth is an inheritance of the Pharaohs. Therefore, knowledge is better than wealth.
- You are to guard your wealth but knowledge protects you from many calamities. 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 the act.
- Knowledge is better because a learned man will most likely be generous while a wealthy person is apt to be miserly.
- Knowledge is better because it cannot be stolen. Wealth is vanity; many have gone to the world beyond in search of it.
- Knowledge is better because it is timeless. Wealth rusts in the course of time.
- Knowledge is better because it is boundless but wealth is limited because you can keep account of it.
- Knowledge is better because it illuminates the mind whereas wealth blackens the soul and glazes the eyes.
- Knowledge is better because it induced the humanity in our Prophets, inspiring them to say ‘we worship thee as we are your servants.’ Wealth engendered in Pharaoh and Nimrod the vanity which made them challenge God.