The quote attributed to Al Ghazali is badly translated, the correct translation is:
O beloved disciple, knowledge without action is madness and action without knowledge can’t be!
أيها الولد العلم بلا عمل جنون والعمل بغير علم لا يكون
Hence i will try explain both quotes that are slightly different, due to bad translation.
Knowledge without action is wastefulness and action without knowledge is foolishness.
This first, popular quote attributed to Al Ghazali, emphasizes the importance of both knowledge and action, and the potential pitfalls of neglecting either one.
Knowledge refers to information, understanding, and awareness gained through learning, experience, or observation. It is valuable in providing the foundation for making informed decisions and taking purposeful action. However, knowledge alone, if not applied or put into practice, can be wasteful. It remains unused potential and fails to yield any tangible results or benefits.
On the other hand, action refers to the process of doing something, implementing plans, and applying skills. Action without knowledge, or acting blindly without understanding the underlying principles or consequences, can lead to foolishness. It may result in ineffective or counterproductive outcomes, unintended consequences, or unnecessary risks.
Knowledge without action is madness and action without knowledge can’t be!
This second statement, which happens to be the real translation of the quote, and like the badly translated one, highlights the inherent flaws and limitations of either having knowledge without taking action or taking action without having the necessary knowledge.
When knowledge remains dormant without being translated into action, it can be seen as a form of madness. Acquiring knowledge without applying it or taking steps to bring about change or progress renders it useless. Knowledge, in its true essence, is meant to be transformative and impactful. Without action, knowledge becomes stagnant and fails to contribute to personal growth, problem-solving, or achieving desired outcomes.
On the other hand, taking action without the requisite knowledge is considered impossible or futile. Actions driven by ignorance or a lack of understanding can lead to ineffective, misguided, or even harmful outcomes.
AL Ghazali lived in another time and another era, these days, there are a lot of people that acquire knowledge without taking action.