Nahjul Balagha – Saying number 70

وَ قَالَ عليه‏السلام: لَا تَرَى الْجَاهِلَ إِلَّا مُفْرِطاً أَوْ مُفَرِّطاً.

Amir al-mu’minin, peace be upon him, said:

You will not find an ignorant person but at one extreme or the other (i.e. a person who neglects or a person who exaggerates).

Another Translation

‘You will not see an ignorant person except that he is either committing excess in what he does or falling short of what he ought to do.’[1]

شخص نادان جز در یی از دو حالت تندروی و یا کندروی مشاھدہ نمی شود۔


جھل یا جھل بسیط است کہ ھمان طرف کندروی از فضیلت و بہ کودنی موسوم است۔ و یا جھل مرکب است کہ ھمان طرف تندروی است۔

توضیح آن کہ نادانی کہ در جھل مرکب است، گاھی در پیگیری از حق زیادہ روی می کند و در نتیجہ تلاش پردہ ای جلو چشم بصیرت او پدید می آید کہ او با قطع بر این کہ این دلیل رسیدن وی بہ حق است، از دریافت حق و حقیقت باز می ماند۔ کہ گاھی این طرف را جربزہ می نامند و ھموارہ چنین فردی در یکی از دو طرف است و بہ اندازئہ نادانی اش حالت وی در تمام رفتارھا و گفارھا بر یکی از دو سمت: تندروی یا کندروی است۔

There are two types of ignorance:

  • Ordinary (simple) ignorance
  • Compounded ignorance

All types of ignorance is a disliked and discouraged.

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنْفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُوا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ قَوَامًا

First Translation: and who, whenever they spend on others, are neither wasteful nor niggardly but [remember that] there is always a just mean between those [two extremes];

Another Translation: who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy, but keep the balance between those two extremes;

ميانه روي به معناي رفتن در خط وسط كه از دو طرف به يك فاصله است و دوري از افراط و تفريط است .

در قرآن كريم از اين واژه به تعبير وسط ياد و از آن مدح گرديده است .

«و كذلك جعلناكم امه وسطاً لتكونوا شهداء علي الناس»

اين چنين شما را امت معتدل قرار داديم تا گواه بر همه مردمان باشيد

و لا تجعل يدك مغلوله الي عنقك و لا تبسطها فتقعد ملوماً محذوراً»

در مقام خرج و انفاق ، اسراف كاري ، ولخرجي و يا خساست و نظر تنگي كه مصداق افراط و تفريط است نكوهش شده ولي در ميانه مورد توجه قرار گرفته است

حضرت علی علیه‌السلام فرموده‌اند «خیر الامور اوسطها». پس اگر در تمام امور زندگی ( خوردن ، خوابیدن ، مسافرت و حتی محبت کردن و …) اعتدال را رعایت کنیم، کمتر دچار مشکل می‌شویم.


Excess(iveness), immoderation, immoderateness, extravagance, intemperance, intemperateness, exceeding the proper bounds or limits, going too far or to extremes.


Negligence, remissness, neglect; losing, loss, forfeiture; missing, throwing away; wasting, waste, squandering; waiver, abandonment, renunciation

وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ ۚ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ – 2:143

  1. Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you. And We appointed the qiblah which ye formerly observed only that We might know him who followeth the messenger, from him who turneth on his heels. In truth it was a hard (test) save for those whom Allah guided. But it was not Allah’s purpose that your faith should be in vain, for Allah is Full of Pity, Merciful toward mankind.
  2. And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful.

Characteristics of an ignorant

Appearances are generally very deceptive, and it becomes very difficult to distinguish between the aware and the ignorant. One always enjoys the company of an aware person, on the other hand if you happen to interact with an ignorant, it is like breaking your head on a wall. How to distinguish between an aware and an ignorant. The following list is not exhaustive but just representative.

  1. An ignorant person is very egoistic
  2. An ignorant person will always claim that he is correct & the best
  3. An ignorant person will try to show off his limited knowledge
  4. An ignorant person is like a frog in the well
  5. An ignorant person is busy without work
  6. An ignorant person wants his word to be the final word

7.An ignorant person suffers from ethnocentric bias and superiority complex

  1. An ignorant person will always indulge in self praise
  2. An ignorant person will always find out mistakes with others
  3. An ignorant person is extremely rigid and never satisfied

Seven Signs of Ignorance

Once in a while we come across certain type of people who portray themselves as highly knowledgeable about a particular subject but in reality are very ignorant. Usually such people are motivated through their ego and arrogance over their opponents. Sometimes they even think themselves to be some sort of authority over a subject, which they either no nothing about or know very little about.

I want to focus particularly on certain practicing Muslims who after learning a few things about their religion consider themselves as qualified for debates with those who differ with them. However, the reality is that their understanding of the religion is very limited to that of a beginner and are actually ignorant on the topic. Fortunately, there are some signs of ignorance that if a person shows during a debate or conversation can confirm that in reality this person is ignorant in his understanding of the subject:

  1. Contradiction – The person will contradict himself during the debate. He will say one thing at one point and say the opposite in another point of the same conversation or debate. For example, a person will say “It is haram to protest because it is an imitation of the kuffar!” but after the opposer mentions some benefits of it, he will say “Well it is permissible for men only not women.” A complete contradiction and a clear sign of ignorance.
  2. Personal Attacks – If a person starts going off topic and starts throwing personal attacks at you, then this is a clear sign of ignorance. This usually happens if that person cannot hold a strong argument or cannot refute an argument. Feeling helpless and defeated, he will usually throw personal attacks at you. During a religious debate, he’ll most likely point out the deficiencies in the opposer’s religious duties or personal beliefs.
  3. Make Random Statements – If a person starts to spit out random statements not related to the subject of the debate, then this is also a sign of ignorance. Usually in this case, the person is trying to flee from the topic as he is not knowledgeable enough to defend his position. So in order to keep his dignity and humbly admit “I don’t know” he will run into a different topic as a safe haven. This second topic will most likely be something else that the person differs with from his opponent. Usually the person tries to run into a topic he feels that he has strong arguments or proofs against his opponent. Again this is just an attempt by the ignorant person to regain his ego after a defeat on a topic he had no knowledge about.
  4. Change Opinions Often – If a person changes his opinions often without much thought, then most likely he is ignorant. In this case a person will hold one opinion today but in a few hours might change it completely to something else. This is a sign of ignorance and is usually associated with someone who is a “new candidate” to the game or someone who is not well grounded in his stances which goes to show that he isn’t someone who should be debating on things he himself is not sure about in the first place.
  5. Does Not Know Proofs – If a person cannot back his stances with proofs or his refutations of your views with proofs, then this is a sign of ignorance. Such a person will usually not be able to give you proof if you ask him for it. He will either ignore it or reinterpret some vague statement from the Quran and Sunnah to support his view. Notice I said reinterpret which means that the vast majority of scholars or the earlier scholars didn’t see it that way especially the companions. A person of this category will also use fabricated or weak reports to defend his arguments and refute yours which in reality are not proof.
  6. Dragging On Without Point – If a person drags on an argument without a point and does not let you speak or if so, then very rarely, then this is a sign of ignorance. Usually this person will quite often cut you off in mid-sentence and will not give you the right to make your point. And they will usually drag on an argument/debate unnecessarily without making any clear points. Basically, a person with knowledge can usually make his point in a few sentences very clearly but an ignorant has to drag on and on trying to make you THINK they’re making a point when in reality they are not! Usually such a person’s opponent starts to think to himself “What is he talking about? His conversation isn’t making any sense?!” A clear sign of ignorance.
  7. Lie – Believe it or not an ignorant person is not afraid to pull this move. If a person will lie flat to your face just to win the argument or make himself look superior to you so he can feed his ego, then this person is clearly ignorant. A good example in my personal life is when I asked a brother if he knew the Arabic language fluently and he answered with an immediate and confident “Yes!” Lo and behold after a few weeks he couldn’t use an Arabic word in a sentence! Not only that but he told me then that he was the same level in Arabic as I was and not fluent! So why did he lie before? Most likely just to make me feel inferior to him and have some sort of awe for him.

The above are not the only signs but a few which I personally have observed in ignorant people and/or have heard from people of knowledge on this subject. So if during a conversation or debate (provided your qualified), you find one of the above characteristics in a person, then do not waste your time because the person has no idea what he is talking about.[2]

Some other characteristics

  1. He will either leave the hereafter for the world or the world for the hereafter, both are not right.
  2. He will either earn too much or lose himself completely in the way of money and wealth and others would not want to work at all and would be a burden on others.
  3. Some will give everything to others, and some would not want to give anything to anyone, not even to their own relatives and friends.

Feedback and Questions

[1] Nahjul Balagha – Saying number 70