The first word revealed in the Qurʾān was “read.” Islam consistently emphasizes and encourages people to learn, read, think, reflect, and ponder. However, one cannot stop at knowledge, one must also act on what they know. Knowledge without action is like a tree that cannot give fruits. It is a tree, but what is the point of a tree if one cannot reap any benefits from it? Likewise, action without knowledge is also dangerous. The great caliph ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd Al-ʿAzīz, said: “Whoever acts without sound knowledge ends up destroying more than building.” This is because when one acts based on ignorance, they will do more harm than good. For example Jabir, the companion of the Prophet peace be upon him, said: We were on a journey and one of us got injured. Later, he had a wet dream. He asked his companions, ‘Can I perform tayammum?’ They said, ‘No, not if you have water.’ He performed ghusl and died. When they came to the Messenger of Allah, they informed him of what had happened. He said, ‘They killed him, Allah will kill them. Why did you not ask if you did not know? The rescue of the ignorant person is the question. He could have performed tayammum and dropped water on his wound or wrapped it with something and wipe over the wrapping, and wash the rest of his body (Sunan Abu Dawud).
A Tree Without a Fruit