- The man who knows and he knows that he knows: This is the Scholar, so follow him.
- The man who knows but he does not know that he knows: This is the Forgetful One, so wake him.
- The man who does not know, and he knows that he does not know: This is the Seeker, so guide him.
- The man who does not know, but he does not know that he does not know: This is the Ignoramus, so leave him.
One reason I enjoy my weekly Arabic classes is that points of grammar or vocabulary are illustrated by proverbs, hadith and verses of Quran. We learned the saying above a few weeks ago. It reminds me of an old essay by Shaykh GF Haddad on Jahl Murakkab, Compound Ignorance, the fourth condition in the saying.
[Update: Sidi Khalil Moore wrote to suggest the translation be improved by changing “what” to “that”. I appreciate someone of his caliber taking the time to review my amateur work, and have made the change in the text above.]