Everybody knows ''Knowledge is Power" but now I can say "Knowledge is Wealth." For the more learned you are, the more money you can earn. It is fitting here to tell you the story of Diogenes, the great Greek philosopher who lived during the time of Alexander the Great. Diogenes was a very learned man and he shunned both power and wealth. Hence he was called a cynic. He was known to have wandered searching for an honest man carrying a lantern during day and night. He gave up everything he possessed, except a coconut shell for drinking water. One day he saw a man drinking water forming a cup with his hand. After seeing this Diogenes threw away his last possession, the coconut shell.

The name of Diogenes spread throughout Greece. Alexander the Great heard about Diogenes and one day decided to see him. Mounted on horseback, Alexander the Great went to Diogenes who was sitting on the ground. Alexander said, "Oh Diogenes, I have heard a great deal about you and your life. I am very much impressed by your life and it is my earnest desire to help you in whatever way I can. Please let me know your desires so that I can fulfill them." To which Diogenes replied, "Your Excellency, my only request is that you get aside and allow the sun's rays to fall on my body." Alexander the Great was deeply moved by Diogenes's reply and said, "If I were not Alexander the Great, I would be Diogenes." Now the point I want to make here is that Diogenes never went to Alexander the Great, but that Alexander the Great came to Diogenes for he was such a learned philosopher.

There are many people in this world who have played themselves to death, or eaten and drunk themselves to death. Nobody ever died because of thinking or learning. People who avoid learning, or abandon it, find no joy in life, find that life is drained dry. No learner has ever run short of subjects to explore. The pleasures of learning lead to happiness. One can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning. Learning is everyone's birthright. Everyone, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, has access to learning. Exercise your birthright. Remember what you have learned cannot be stolen by others.


This article was first printed at Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. and is reprinted with permission.

Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D, is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, a writer on Islamic affairs, and the author of the book Qur'anic Inspirations.