|Then he said, "The learned of our time who inform the sultan of indulgences and whatever suits his passion (when he comes to them about some matter) are worse than those of the Children of Israel. Had they informed him about his
responsibility and in what his salvation lay, he would have
belittled them and disliked having them visit him. That would have been their salvation with their Lord."
Al-Hasan said, "Among those who preceded you there was
a man who had high standing in Islam and the companionship
of the Messenger of Allah" 'Abdullah Bin Mubarak (the narrator of this tradition) said al-Hasan meant, Sa'd Bin
Abi Wagggs----. Al-Hasan said, "It was not his custom to visit the sultans, and he kept away from them. So his sons said to him, 'Someone who is not your equal in friendship (to the Prophet) and precedence in al-Islam comes to these kings. How would it be for you to go to them?'
"He answered, '0 my sons, shall I go to a corpse which people have surrounded? By Allah, (even) if I were able, I would not share it with them (i.e. visiting princes in order to obtain the present world)',
"They said, '0 father, then we shall perish from emaciation.'
"He said, 'My sons, as for myself, truly to die as a poor believer is more loved than to die as a fat hypocrite.'"
Al-Hasan (who was relating this) said, "He got the best of them, and by Allah! he knew that the ground devours flesh and fat, but not faith."
In this there is a proof that one who visits sultans is
not at all safe from hypocrisy which is the contrary of faith. 271 Abu Dharr said to Salamah, "0, Salamah, do not go to the
doors of sultans; for you do not obtain anything from their present world but what they get something more valuable from your religion."
This (associating with kings) Is a great temptation
to the learned and difficult means of access for the ShaitAns against them, especially for one who has an acceptable delivery and pleasant speech, for the Shaitdn will not cease
to cast up to him, "In exhorting and visiting them you may be able to lead them out of wrongdoing and establish perceptions of the divine law", until he will imagine that to visit them is a part of religion. Then, if he does go in to visit, he will not remain long before he modifies his speech and dissimulates and plunges deeply into praise and adulation. This (which we have mentioned) is the destruction of religion.
It was said, "When the learned knew, they acted; when they acted, they worked (with Allah); when they worked, they lost (human characteristics and gained heavenly ones); when they lost, they sought; and when they sought, they fled (from people)."
'Umar Bin 'Abd al-'Aziz wrote to Hasan (al-Basri), "To begin: point me out some people from whom I can get help about matter pertaining to Allah."
So he wrote him, "As for the people of religion, they do not want you; as for the people of the present world, you do not want them; but you must depend on the honorable; for
they guard their honor so that they do not soil it with a 272
breach of trust."
This is about 'Umar Bin 'Abd al-'Azlz who was the most ascetic of the people of his time. If it was a stipulation for the people connected with religion to flee from him, how
is the quest for and association with others judged fit?
The learned of the olden times such as al-Hasan, al-
Thawrl, Ibn al-Mubarak, al--Fudail, Ibrahlm Bin Adham, and 273
Yusuf Bin Asba~ continually debated with the worldly divines
of Mecca, Damascus, and other places either about their in
clination.towards the present-world or about their associ274
ation with the sultans.
6. (A sixth sign of the other-worldly divines) is that they are not precipitate in giving legal opinions, but are hesitant and wary as long as a way of escape (from it) exists.
If one is asked about something which he knows for a certainty through a clear text (nass) of the book of Allah or a clear tradition (bi na@s hadlth) or agreement (i md') or clear analogy (giyas lall), he gives a legal opinion. If If he is asked about something of which he is doubtful he says, "I do not know", and if he is asked about something which he suspects belongs to logical deduction (ijtihad) and conjecture (takhmln), he cautiously defends himself and refers to someone else, if somebody else is independently capable. This is prudence (on his part), because it is a
grave (matter) to adopt the risk of independent decision (i_jtihnd).
In a tradition (it is said that) knowledge is three things: a) a book gifted with speech (kitab natiq), b.) es
tablished usage (sunnah ga'mah), and c) (the expression) "I 275
do not know" .
Al-Sha'bi said, "I do not know' is half of knowledge* and one who keeps silent for the sake of Allah, when he does
not know, has no less a reward than the one who speaks; be276 cause it is more difficult for people to confess ignorance."
Such was the custom of the companions and Fathers. When Ibn 'Umar was asked about the giving of a legal opinion, he
used to say, "Go to this prince who assumes responsibility
for human affairs and let him take it on his shoulders.
Ibn Mas'fld said, "Surely one who gives legal opinions
to everyone who seeks one from him is possessed with the Jinn."
He .also) said, "A learned persdn's shield is 'I do not know'. If he falls short in saying it, his vulnerable spots are hit."
"Nothing is more stringent on the Shai~an", said Ibrahim Bin Adham, "than a learned person who speaks with knowledge and who keeps silent with knowledge. He (the Shaitan) says, 'Notice this one. His silence is more severe on me than his speech'."
Somebody described the Substitutes (al-abdal and said,
"They eat only when necessary; they sleep only when overcome (by fatigue); they speak only when obliged---that is they do not speak until they are quizzed. When they are questioned and they find somebody who will take their place, they remain quiet. When compelled, they reply; andthey are wont to consider that to begin (to speak) before the question (is put) is a hidden appetite for speaking."
'Ali and 'Abdullah (Bin 'Abbas) passed by a man who was speaking to people, and they both said, ing,'Know me'."
Somebody said, "Truly when a learned person is asked about a problem, he feels just as if his molar is being extracted."
Ibn 'Umar was wont to say, "Out of us you would like to
make a bridge on which to cross over to dahannam."
Abu Hafs al-NIs&bUrl said, "A learned person is one who,
at the time of being questioned, fears that somebody will
ask him on the day of judgment, 'From where did you answer?"' 281
When Ibrahim al--Taimi was consulted about some question,
he used to weep and ask, "Did you not find another (person)
so that you needed Me?"
Abfi al-'Aliyah al-Riyahi, Ibrahim Bin Adham, and al
Thawri were wont to speak to two or three or (even) a small
"This fellow is say
number (of people) up to ten; and if they were more, they departed.
Muhammad.said, "I do not know if A'zair is a prophet
or not; and I do not know if Tubba' is cursed or not; and
I do not know if dhU al-qurnain is a prophet or not."
When the Messenger of Allah was asked about the best and the worst spots on the earth, he said, "I do not Know", until Jibra'Sl came down to him and he asked him. He said, "I do not know", until Allah taught him that its best spots are the places of worship, and its worst spots are the market places.
When Ibn 'Umar was wont to be asked about ten problems, he would answer one and remain silent about nine. (in contrast to him) Ibn 'AbbAs used to answer nine and be silent about one.
Among the jurisconsults those who said, "I do not know", were more numerous than those who said, "I know". Among them were Sufyan al-Thawrl, T,lalik Bin Anas, Ahmad Bin Uanbal, al
Fudail Bin 'AiyAd, and Bishr Bin al-Harith.
'Abd al-Rahman Bin Abi Laila said, "In this place of
worship (i.e.in Madinah) I came upon one hundred and twenty companions of the Messenger of Allah. There was not one of them who, on being asked about a tradition or giving a legal opinion, did not wish his brother to take his place in that."
And in another phrasing (one reads), "Were a problem submitted to one of them, he would refer it to another who (in
turn) would refer it to another who (also) would refer it to 286 another until it returned to the first one."
It is related that a broiled head was given to one of
the homeless people who were guests of al-Islam (ashab.al
suffah) while he was extremely needy. He gave it to another;
and he, to another. Thus it passed among them until it returned to the first.
Now notice how the affairs of the learned are (quite) the opposite in the present time, and the object which one flees has become that which is sought; while that which is (supposed to be) sought has become that from which one flees.
What somebody related on good support testifies that it is good to avoid taking on the responsibility of giving legal opinions. He said, "Only three (kinds of) people give
legal opinions to people: a) a ruler or prince, b2)8appointees of princes, and c) story-tellers (i.e.hypocrites)."
Someone said, "The companions used to protect themselves from four things: a) leading (the congregation), b) guardianship, c) trusteeship, and d) giving legal opinions."
Someone (else) said, "Those who hastened to give legal opinions were the least capable in respect to knowledge, while those who were strict in respect to protecting themselves
from it were their most pious ones."
The companions and followers used to engage in five
things: a) reading the Qur'an, b) building places of worship,
c) remembering Allah, d) enjoining good, and e) forbidding 2 90
evil. That was on account of what they heard of Muhammad's
words, "All but three (kinds) of speech of the son of Adam (mankind) is against him, not for him: a) enjoining to do good, b) forbidding evil, or c) remembering Allah."
Allah said, "In much of their communion the only good is that of one who enjoins almsgiving or 2the right or correcting troubles among people' (4:114).
One of the learned saw one of the speculative philos293 ophers (ash&b al-r&') of the people of Kufa in a dream. He
He asked, "What is you opinion regarding what used to be your position concerning the giving of legal opinions and speculation?"
Averting his face and shunning him he said, "We did not
find it (to be) anything,
294 to be praiseworthy."
AbU i ugain said, "Verily one of them ion about a problem which, had it come to
nor did we find
tab, he would have gathered the
its consequence gives a legal opin
'Umar Bin al-Khat
Badr (to consult)."
So silence continued to be
a habit of the people of
knowledge except when (they were) obliged (to speak).
In a tradition (we read), "If you see a man who has
been given silence and asceticism, draw near to him; for 2 97
he understands wisdom."
It is said, "The learned are either ordinary learned people such as jurisconsults who are the people of the portico (ashab al-asatln), or a special type of learned person who are learned in the doctrine of Allah's unity ('alim bi l--tawhld) and the deeds of the heart; and they are the
monastic people (ashab al-pawayA) who are separated from
It used to be said, "Ahmad Bin Hanbal is like the Tigris from which everybody dips up (water) by handfuls, and Bishr Bin al-Harith is like a covered well of sweet water to which people come one at a time."
They used to say, "So-and-so is a learned person; soand-so is a scholastic theologian; so-and-so is greater in respect to theology; and so-and-so is greater in respect to knowledge."
Abp Sulaiman (al-Darini) said, "Knowledge is closer to 298 silence than it is to speech."
Someone said, "When knowledge increases, speech decreases;
and when speech increases, knowledge decreases." 300
Salman wrote to Abu al-Darda' whom the Messenger of Allah had made like brothers, "0 brother, I have heard that
you have set yourself up as a physician who prescribes for the sick. Then notice, if you are a physician, speak. Then your speech will be a cure. If you are a physician who is not skilled in his art--0 Allah, deliver us--do not kill
any Muslim." When Abu al-Darda' was consulted after that, 301 he used to hesitate (to give an opinion).
When Anas was consulted, he used to say, "Ask my master,
al-Hasan." And when Ibn 'Abbess was questioned, he used to
say, "Ask Harathah Bin Zaid", while Ibn 'Umar used to say,
"Ask Said Bin al-Musayyab."
It is quoted that one of the companions related twenty traditions in the presence of al-Hasan. Then he was asked to explain them, whereupon he said, "I have nothing (to add to) that which I have related."
Then al-Hasan began to explain them, one tradition after another. Then they were astonished at the appropria1ness of his explanation and his memory. So the companion took a
handful of pebbles which he cast at them and said, "You ask 303 me about knowledge, while this learned person is among you!"
7. (A seventh sign of the other-worldly divines) is that most of his concern should be about mystic knowledge ('ilm al-batin)and watchfulness of the heart (muragibah al-galb) and knowledge of the way and his journey to the next abode. A true hope that it will be revealed is from spiritual
struggle and watchfulness. The spiritual struggle results
in vision (musha.hadah) and the minutiae of the sciences of the heart by which fountains of wisdom spring up from the heart.
As for books and teaching, they do not fulfil one's expectation, but the wisdom which is beyond restriction and computation is truly opened up by (spiritual) struggle and watchfulness and practicing both physical and spiritual acts and sitting alone with Allah with a receptive heart and pure thought and cutting one 'self off from everything which is other than Allah. That is the key to divine inspiration (al--ilham) and the fountain of revelation (al-kashf). How many a learned person there is whose learning has taken a long time, though he is not able to advance by so much as a single word beyond the things he hears! And to how many of those who limit themselves to the important things in learning and turn their resolution toward doing and watchfulness of the heart, Allah opens up those things of the subtleties of wisdom (lata'if al-hikmah) which astound the minds of those who are possessed with intelligence!
For that reason MuJiammad said, "Allah will cause one who lives up to his knowledge to inherit knowledge of something which he did not know."
In one of the ancient books (we read), 't0 Children of
Israel, do not say, 'Knowledge is in the heavens. Who will bring it down to the earth?" And do not say, ("It is) in-the confines of the earth. Who will bring it up?" nor, "(It is) across. the sea. Who will cross over and bring it?" Knowledge is put in your hearts. Be trained in my presence with spiritual manners and take on the character of the believers. I
will cause knowledge to appear in your hearts. to the point 304 that it will cover and. drown you.
Sahl Bin 'Abdullah al-TustarT said, "The learned, the
worshippers, and the ascetics went out of the present world, while their hearts were locked; only the hearts of the believers and martyrs were opened." Then he recited Allah's saying, "He has the keys of the secret (things). No one but Allah knows them" (6:59).
Were it not that the way the heart of one who has a
heart receives the mystic light depends on external knowledge, he (Muhammad) would not have said, "Seek an opinion (fatwa) from your heart, and even if they give you an opinion, if
they give you an opinion, and if they give you an opinion."
In that which he relates on the authority of his Lord he sayp, "The worshipper continues to approach me oy supererogatory acts until I love him. When I love him, I become his hearing and seeing."
# following SMZ sim' An wa bavan
Then how many minute Ideas of the Qur'anic secrets oc
cur to the hearts..of the devotees of remembering and reflection (al--dhikr wa '1--fikr) which are not contained in commentaries and which the most excellent commentators do not
know. If that is disclosed to the vigilant novice and exhibited to the commentators, they will approve it and know that it is a notification of pure hearts and Allah's favors by means of high aspirations which are directed towards Him.
And it is like that concerning the mystical sciences ('ulum al-mukashafah), the secrets of the social sciences ('ulum al-mu'dmalah), and the minutiae of the heart's promptings (khawatir al-qulub). Truly each one of these sciences is a sea the bottom of which is not reached or fathomed. Each pupil is able to delve into it according to the amount
of knowledge which has been granted him and according to the good deeds which he has obtained.
In a description of these learned ones, 'Ali said in a long tradition, "Hearts are utensils, the best of which being those which hold the most good. And man is (divided into) three kinds: a) a man learned in things pertaining to Allah ('alim rabbani), b-) a student who is on the way to salvation, and c) uncultivated common people who follow every croaker and incline with every breeze, who are not enlightened with
the light of knowledge and do not take refuge in a reliable
"Knowledge is more excellent than wealth. Knowledge guards you, while you guard wealth. Knowledge increases with spending, while spending decreases wealth. Knowledge
is a religion which is followed, by which obedience is gained
in one's life and a good reputation after one's death. Knowlis edge is a ruler, while wealth.the object ruled. The benefit
of wealth vanishes, when wealth departs. Those who store up wealth die while living, while the learned live and endure as long as the ages remain."
Then he breathed a deep sigh and said, "Ah, here is plenty of knowledge. If only I could find depositories for it, but I find and unfaithful seeker who uses the tools of religion in his search for the present world and by means
of the grace of Allah overcomes His saints and gains mastery over His people with His arguments or proofs. Or one obeys the people of the Real (ahl al-haqq), but some doubt is planted in his heart on his first encounter with uncertainty. He has no intelligence, neither this one nor that; or he is infatuated with delights and easily led to seek his sensual desires; or he is incited to accumulate wealth and render (knowledge) despicable, as he obeys his lust (hawahu)."
"That which most closely resembles them are grazing animals. 0 Allah, thus knowledge dies, when its depositories
die. Then the world is not empty of one who undertakes a proof for Allah either openly and disclosed or fearful and overcome, in order not to nullify Allah's proofs and clear evidence. How many and where are those who are few in number and great in rank? They themselves are lost, while those resembling them in heart are found."
"By them Allah preserves His proofs until Ile deposits them in those who come after them and He plants them in the hearts of those who resemble them, through whom knowledge pounces upon the reality of a matter. They practiced the spirit of certain belief (al--yagin); and what the effeminate found difficult,they found easy; and that in which the heedless felt loneliness,they found sociability. They were friends with the present world in body, while their souls were caught up in the highest places. Of Allah's people,
and those who call (others) to His religion." Then he wept 306 and said, "©h, how I long to see them!"
This which he mentioned finally is a description of the other-worldly divines, and it is the knowledge which derives most of its benefit from doing and continuing to struggle.
8. (Another sign of the other-worldly divines) is that one should have a strong concern to strengthen certain belief (al-yagin), for it is the invested wealth (ra's mal) of reli-
these are His saints, His faithful, His workers on His
gion. The Messenger of Allah said, "Certain belief (al
y agln) is faith (al-lma.n) in its entirety."
There is no escape from learning the knowledge of certain belief ('ilm al-yagin); I mean its first principles. Then its way is opened to the heart. For that reason he (Muhammad) said, "Learn certain belief."
He meant"to sit with those who have certain belief and hear the knowledge of certain belief from them. Persevere in imitating them so that your certain belief may be fortified, just as their certain belief was fortified. A little certain belief is better than many deeds."
When someone said to the Prophet, "(There was) a man
who had good certain belief and many sins and (another) man zealous in worship, but who had little certain belief. (Which of the two is preferable?) he said, "There is not a man but what he has sins; but the sins of one who is by nature intelligent and who has the innate quality of certain belief do not harm him; because every time he sins, he repents and seeks forgiveness and regrets; and his sins are expiated; and he continues to have some excellence by which he enters the Garden."
Therefore he said, "Truly the least of what you were given is certain belief and resolute patience. One who has the fortune to receive these two pays no heed to the amount
of time he spends in night vigil and daily fasting."
In Lugman's advice to his son (we read), ''0 my son, work is only possible with certain belief, and man works only to the extent of his certain belief, and a worker does not fail until his certain belief diminishes."
Yahya Bin Ma'adh said, "Verily for the doctrine of Allah's unity there is light, while for the doctrine of polytheism there is fire. The light of asserting Allah's unity is certainly more consuming for the evils of those who assert His unity than the fire of polytheism is for the good deeds
Allah? 1107 those who attribute partners to Allah."07 By (nor al-tawh1d
Yahya) meant al-yagin.
In various places in the Qur'an Allah has indicated the mention of those who have certain belief by which He pointed to the fact that certain belief is the connecting link for
good deeds and happiness. (2:112; 45:3; 51:20)
If you should say, "What does al-yagin mean, and what
is the meaning of its strength and its weakness?" there is no escape from understanding it first, then engaging in seeking and learning it; for it is not possible to seek something of which the form is not understood. Then you should know that al-yaqin is an expression with several meanings which two (different) groups use in a particular sense for different ideas. They are the speculative and the scholastic theologians (al-
nu;ZAr wa '1--mutakallimum).
By it they express the absence of doubt. Now there are four degrees in the soul's inclination to believe anything: a) The first is when belief and disbelief are evenly
balanced. They express this by al-shakk (uncertainty or Allah