Then the Ruler showed the artistically wrought and bejewelled Qur’an to a European philosopher and to a Muslim scholar. In order to test them and for reward, he commanded them: “Each of you write a work about the wisdom and purposes of this!” First the philosopher, then the scholar composed a book about it. However, the philosopher’s book discussed only the decorations of the letters and their relationships and conditions, and the properties of the jewels, and described them. It did not touch on their meaning at all, for the European had no knowledge of the Arabic script. He did not even know that the embellished Qur’an was a book, a written piece, expressing a meaning. He rather looked on it as an ornamented antique. He did not know any Arabic, but he was a very good engineer, and he described things very aptly, and he was a skilful chemist, and an ingenious jeweller. So this man wrote his work according to those crafts.
As for the Muslim scholar, when he looked at the Qur’an, he understood that it was the Perspicuous Book, the All-Wise Qur’an. This truth-loving person neither attached importance to the external adornments, nor busied himself with the ornamented letters. He became preoccupied with something that was a million times higher, more elevated, more subtle, more noble, more beneficial, and more comprehensive than the matters with which the other man had busied himself. For discussing the sacred truths and lights of the mysteries beneath the veil of the decorations, he wrote a truly fine commentary. Then the two of them took their works and presented them to the Illustrious Ruler. The Ruler first took the philosopher’s work. He looked at it and saw that the self-centred and nature-worshipping man had worked very hard, but had written nothing of true wisdom. He had understood nothing of its meaning. Indeed, he had confused it and been disrespectful towards it, and ill-mannered even. For supposing that source of truths, the Qur’an, to be meaningless decoration, he had insulted it as being valueless in regard to meaning. So the Wise Ruler hit him over the head with his work and expelled him from his presence.
Then he looked at the work of the other, the truth-loving, scrupulous scholar, and saw that it was an extremely fine and beneficial commentary, a most wise composition full of guidance. “Congratulations! May God bless you!”, he said. Thus, wisdom is this and they call those who possess it knowledgeable and wise. As for the other man, he was a craftsman who had exceeded his mark. Then in reward for the scholar’s work, he commanded that in return for each letter ten gold pieces should be given him from his inexhaustible treasury.
If you have understood the comparison, now look and see the reality:
The ornamented Qur’an is this artistically fashioned universe, and the Ruler is the Pre-Eternal All-Wise One. As for the two men, one –the European– represents philosophy and its philosophers, and the other, the Qur’an