Imam Ghazālī (Rahamtullahi Alaihi) once said:
“That the person who says, “I do not know” to a question, has attained the entirety of one-half of ilm (knowledge).”
In truth, ilm is understanding that, that your knowledge is limited. Let us view this through an example: A child, after learning the alphabet, feels as if he has learnt everything that there is to learn. The same child, upon reaching high-school, realizes that his knowledge is in fact incomplete and that there are a lot of things that he is unaware of. If he becomes a doctor, he understands that he has knowledge about physiology but not about surgery. A surgeon realizes that he has knowledge about orthopedics but not about neurology. An orthopedic surgeon, then realizes that he knows only about the knee and not about other bones in the body. Thus, an increase in ilm also makes one more self-aware about his ignorance.
Similarly, when an individual increases his Qurb-e-Elahi (proxmity to Allah), his ignorance makes him feel as if he has reached the pinnacle of Ishq-e-Elahi (love of Allah). The person that genuinely progresses in his thirst for this Ishq¸ however, drink oceans of His Love and yet keeps chanting and craving to get more “Hal mim mazeed (is there some more),Hal mim mazeed (is there some more)...”. This is because his thirst increases as he understands the magnitude of Qurb-e-Elahi available and the infinitesimal nature of his progress. This individual soon relieves himself of his Own Self because Qurb-e-Elahi cannot be attained unless you are free of yourself; it cannot be attained if you have any relevance for your “Self”. Qurb-e-Elahi will be so deeply ingrained within this individual that even if he tries to search for his “Self”, all he see’s is ¬Ishq-e-Elahi. This is when he reaches Muqaam-e-Fana’a.
Hazrat Shaykh Humayun Hanif Naqshbandi db