Ali held that the principal aim of knowledge is the inculcation of virtue, promotion of faith, and understanding of God. He held that knowledge enlivens the soul; it is health and life; it kills ignorance. He defined knowledge as the sum total of excellence. He held that the pursuit of knowledge is better than the pursuit of riches, that knowledge is the ornament of the rich and the richness of the poor and that knowledge is better than riches. He held that the learned live even after their death. He maintained that the learned are the living ones in the dead mass of ignorance. He observed that to respect the learned is to respect God. About the respect of the teacher he held that one who teaches you a letter binds you with the fetter of gratitude. He maintained that the talk of a learned man carried with it the fragrance of the garden of Paradise.