He replied, "This man has been given what we have ne
Ahmad bin Hanbal and Yahya bin Mu'in used to go frequent91
ly to Ma'ruf al-Karkhi who was not as expert in the outward observances. of religion (with which Jurisprudence has to do), and question him. And why notsince, when the Messenger of Allah was asked, "How should we act if some matter comes to us which is not in the Book and the Sunnah", he replied, "Ask the virtuous, and make it a (matter of) consultation among them."
Therefore it was said, "Those who are learned in the externals ('ulamA' al-~Ahir) are an adornment of the earth and the visible world (al--mulkt just as the mystics ('ulama' al--batin) are an adornment of the heavens and the heavenly
Al-Junaid said, "My teacher, al-Sari, asked me one day,
"If you left me, with whom (at whose feet) would you sit?'
I replied, 'Al-Muhasibi.' Then he said, 'Yes, take theology and culture from him and leave alone his hair splitting dogmatics and his refutation of the scholastic theologians.'
Then when I turned my back, I heard him say, 'May Allah
make you a possessor of tradition as a Sufi (i.e. when you are already a Sufi), and not make you a Sufi who is a possessor of tradition', indicating that one who first acquires tradition and learning and then becomes a Sufi will succeed, while whoever becomes a Sufi before (obtaining) knowledge exposes himself to danger."
If you should say, "Why do you not mention theology and philosophy among the divisions of the sciences and make clear that both of them are blameworthy or praiseworthy?" you should know that the beneficial proofs which the science of theology (al-kalam)contains are contained in the Qdur'an and the traditions, Whatever is outside of these two is either a blameworthy disputation which is innovation, as its forthcoming explanation (will show), or a stirring up of trouble related to the dissensions of parties and prolonging the transmission of sayings, most of which are inconsequential, which the natural disposition despises, which the (sense of) hearing rejects, and some of which involve what is not connected with religion.
(Among the companions and followers) none of it was familiar in the first (Muslim) century, and studying it deeply was a complete innovation, but now its predicament has changed. There appeared innovations which lead away from
following the clear statement of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (usage); and there sprang up a group which joined doubtful matters to them (i.e. the innovations) which they put into (books of) theology (already) composed. By the law of necessity that forbidden thing became permitted; but it became one of the general obligations. This is the amount with which an innovatgr must be confronted when he tries to invite people to (accept) innovation. That is to a definite limit which we shall mention in the section which follows this, if Allah wills.
As for philosophy, it is not a science by itself, but
is composed of four parts, one of which is geometry and arithmetic. These two are permissible as we have seen, and no one is withheld from them except one who fears that he will go beyond them into the blameworthy sciences, for most of those practising them have departed from them into innovations. The weak are guarded from them not on account of .any harm they have in ) themselves but as a boy is guarded from the edge of a river for fear that he may fall into it, and as a novice in Islam is guarded from association with unbelievers because of fear for him, although (even) the person who is well-grounded in his Islam is not recommended to associate with them.
The second (part of Philosophy) is logic which discusses
the manner and rules of demonstration and the manner and rules of definition, both of which enter into the field of theolo3Y.
The third is (the science of) metaphysics which is a discussion about the essence and attributes of Allah, which also is included in theology. In these matters the philosophers did not have a unique kind of knowledge, but they had their own doctrines, some of which are unbelief and some
of which are heretical innovation. And just as the doctrine 95
of the Mu'tazilah is not a science in itself, but its pro
ponents are a sect of scholastic theologians, and the logicians had their own false doctrines, so likewise are the philosophers.
The fourth is natural science, some of which is contrary to religious law and true religion; for it is ignorance, and not a science (in the sense) that it should be mentioned in the classification of the sciences. Some of it is a discussion of the qualities and special properties of bodies and their manner of change and modification. This resembles doctors' diagnosis except that they consider particularly in man's body what concerns sickness and health, while the others observe all bodies from the point of view of change and action; but medicine has the superiority in that there is need of it. As for the (seven) sciences Included in the natural
sciences, there is no need of them. Therefore theology became a member of the group of arts which are general obligations in order to keep the minds of the common people away from the conceptions of the heretical innovators.
Really that,(that is,the fact that theology became a general obligation) took place only because of the heretical innovations, just as it became necessary for a man to hire a convoy on the way of the pilgrimage because of the Arabs' wrong doing and highway robberies. If the Arabs had desisted from their hostility (and had refrained from highway robbery), to hire guards whould not have been one of the conditions of making-the pilgrimage. In like manner, if the innovator had left his nonsense, there would have been no need of more than what was known in the time of the Companions. Then let the theologian know his limit in religion which is in
reality the place of a guard on the way of pilgrimage. If the guard devotes himself entirely to guarding, he will not be one of the group of the pilgrimage. And. if the theologian devotes himself entirely to controversy and defense (of the faith of the laity) and does not walk on the way to the next abode and is not engaged in taking care of the heart and its welfare, he is not one of the group of the religious doctors ('ulama' al-din) at all.
All the religion that a dogmatic theologian has is the
belief which the rest of the common people share with him and which is part of the external actions of the heart and the tongue, and he is distinguished from the common people
only by the science of apologetics and defense. As for his
knowledge of Allah and His attributes and1is acts and all that we have pointed out in the science of mysticism, it does not appear in the science of scholastic theology, but theology is likely to be a veil over it and a hindrance to it. Indeed, arriving at it is by the soul-struggle which Allah made as a preliminary to guidance, where he said, "Those who struggle for us (our sakes) we shall guide to our ways, and surely Allah is with the benefactors" (29:69).
If you say, "You have pushed back the scope of the theologian to that of guarding the belief of the common people from the confusion of the innovators Just as the scope of the guards is that of guarding the goods of the pilgrims from pillage by the Arabs. You have pushed back the scope of the jurisconsult to that of preserving the law by which the sultan prevents the evil of some unjust people from (harming) others. These two ranks are low in relation to the science of religion, while the nation's learned ones who are famous for their excellence are the jurisconsults and theologians who are Allah's most preferable creatures. So why do you lower their ranks to this mean degree in rela-
tion to the science of religion?" you should know that whoever recognizes the truth by means of the men who represent it is perplexed (and) in the wilderness of error. gather you should know the truth; and you will know its people, if you are walking on the way of the truth. If you are satisfied with imitation and consideration of the ranks of excellence which are well known among men, do not disregard the Companions and the height of their rank. Those jurisconsults and theologians whom you have undertaken to mention have agreed that they take precedence, have the greatest ability, that their position in religion is not reached, and that nobody can outstrip them. However, their precedence is not by theology and canon law, but by knoweldge of the Next Abode
and walking on its way.
Abu Bakr did not excel people by much fasting or prayer
or by much quoting of tradition or by legal opinion or theology, but by something which rested in his heart just as the master apostle testified of him. Covet to seek that secret which is a precious jewel and a well guarded pearl. Abandon what the majority of people agree in and regard with veneration and magnify for reasons and motives, the explanation of which would be lengthy.
Assuredly when the Messenger of Allah died, there Were thousands of Companions all of whom were learned about Allah
(and all of) whom the Messenger of Allah praised. Yet there was none of them who was well-versed in the art of scholastic theology and only about ten who put themselves in the position of giving a legal opinion.
('Abdullah) bin 'Umar (bin al-Khai4ab) certainly was one of them, and when he was asked about giving a legal opinion, he used to say to the questioner, "Go to So-and-So, the Amir who has taken upon himself the disposal of the affairs of men, and let him be responsible", as an indication that the. power to give an opinion in court cases and rule belongs to those who have control of government and authority. And
when 'Umar died, Ibn al-Mas'ud said, "Nine tenths of knowledge has perished."
So somebody said to him, "Do you say that while we have some of the famous Companions with us?"
He replied, "I did not mean the science of giving an opinion and judgments; I mean only knowledge of Allah."
Then do you think that he meant the art of scholastic theology and disputation? Why d6 you not strive for that knowledge of which nine-tenths perished when 'Umar died:
the one who closed the door of scholastic theology and dis97
putation and whipped Sabigh, when he brought him a question
on the contradiction of two verses in the Qur'an, and banished him and commanded the people not to associate with him.
As for your saying that the most famous learned _,en
are the Jurisconsults and the scholastic tneoio_ fans, you should nnow Ont tAnt by which favour wit A AMA is obtained is one LMS, and gall by which fame with man is attained is another. The fame of AbO aQr al-312diq was jy means of the caliphate, (i.e. because Le succeeded Zuhamwad), while his excellency was because of the conscience Isirr) which was put in his heart. 'Umar's fame was in political science and in closing the mouths of disputers, while his excellency was in the knowledge of Allah, nine-tenths of which perished by his death, and in his purpose to draw near to Allah in his rule and his justice and his sympathy for His creatures.
Mtt was an inner quality of is heart. As for the rest of
his outwnrd acts, it ozy be imagined that they resulted from the quest of yrestiEe and name and 30d repute and La, desipe for Moe. So his fave is in that which perishes .nd
his excellency in teat which is a secret hirr) which nobody loo2s upon.
The Jurisconsults and sonolastic theologians are like caliphs, judges, and the learned; and tkoy are divided into classes. Some of them scuZAt to please Allah by (spreading) Ais knowledge (abroad), by His opinion, and by defending the usage of His prophet, neither pursuin; hypocrisy nor food repute 5y this. ?aey are tie people with whom Aflan is
well pleased and who have favour with Allah for acting ac
cording to their knowledge and for their seeking to please Allah by their opinion and their study.
For all knowledge Which is acted upon is gainful work,
but not all work is knowledge. A physician is able to draw near to Allah by his knowledge (if he wishes to please Allah
by it), and he is rewarded for his knowledge as one who is working for Allah. (in like manner) the sultan mediates between people for Allah which pleases Allah who rewards him
not from the point of view that he is entrusted with the science of religion, but that he has taken upon himself a work through the knowledge of which he aims to draw near to Allah.
There are three divisions by which one draws near to Allah: a) knowledge alone, that is, mystical knowledge; b) work alone, such as the justice of the sultan, for example, and his control over people; and c) work and knowledge combined, which is knowledge of the way to the next abode whose possessor belongs among both the learned and the workers together.
Then watch out for yourself. On the day of judgment
(do you wish to be) in the party of those who know about
Allah, or the workers for Allah, or in both parties? Then aim your arrow at both groups. This is more important for you than simply imitating that which is generally known, as
someone said, "Take what you see, and leave anything about which you have (merely) heard. With the rising of the sun
you have no need of Saturn."
Therefore we shall quote from the life of the Jurisconsults of the olden times that by which you will know that
those who embraced their ways wronged them and they (i.e. those Imams) will be their most severe adversaries on the
day of judgment, for by their knowledge they sought only to please Allah. From their circumstances some signs are seen
that indicate that they were (of the group) of other-worldly divines, an explanation of which will follow in the part on the Marks of the Other-Worldly Divines. They were not simply
devoted to the science of jurisprudence but they were engaged in knowing and guarding hearts. But what prevented them from teaching and writing about it (i.e. knowledge of hearts) is the same thing that prevented the Companions from writing
about and teaching jurisprudence, even though they were in
dependent jurisconsults in the science of the fatwa (opinion of a jurisconsult).
Since the hindrances and motives are well known, there is no need to mention them. Now we shall mention some of the circumstances of the jurisconsults of Islam by which you will
know that what we (previously) mentioned was not to defame
them, but the one who appeared to imitate them and embrace
their ways, while they differed from them in their actions and their lives. The jurisconsulte who are chiefs in jurisprudence and the leaders of the people, I mean those whose
schools have numerous followers, are five: a) Al-Shafi'i,
b) Malik, c) Ahmad bin Hanbal, d) Abu Hani:fah, and e) SufyAn
al-Thawri, each one of whom was a devotee, an ascetic, learned in the sciences of the next abode, and a discerner of the welfare of the people 11itthe present world who desired to please Allah by his jurisprudence.
Of all these five qualities the present jurisconsults follow them (le. the five Imams) in only one which is extravagant diligence in preserving the subordinate elements of
jurisprudence, because the four qualities (which are: worship, asceticism, knowledge pertainin . to the next abode, and good Intention) are good only for the next abode. This is the one quality which is suitable for the present and the next abode;
and, if the next abode is sought by it, its suitability for
the present world becomes less. Hasten to get it that you may claim a resemblance to those Imams. But this is farfetched. Do not compare angels with blacksmiths.
Then let us now mention some of their circumstances which point to these four qualities, for their acquaintance with jurisprudence is obvious.
As for the Imam al-ShAfi'l, what was related about the
way he used to divide the night into three parts: a third for knowledge, a third for worship, and a third for sleep,
proves that he was a devotee.
Al-Rabi' said, "In Ramadan al-ShAfi'I used to finish
the Qur'an sixty times all of which (was) in the worship;
and in Ramadan, one of his friends, al-Buaiti, used to finish
the Qur'an once every day." 103
Al-Uasan al-Karablsi said, "I lodged. with al-Shafi'i more than once, and he used to pray nearly one third of the night, and I failed to see him exceed fifty verses; but, if (perchance) he recited many more, then possibly a hundred; and it was not his habit to pass by a mercy verse without asking mercy of Allah for himself, for all Muslims, and believers. Nor did he pass by a verse mentioning punishment unless he asked for salvation from it and asked safety for himself and the believers just as if, for him, fear and hope were brought together."
Then observe how his limiting himself to fifty verses proves that he went deep into the secrets of the Qur'an and scrutinized them carefully.
Al-Shafi'I said, "I have not satisfied myself with food
and drink for sixteen years, because satiety overburdens the
body, hardens the heart, lessens one's natural ability, induces sleep, and makes one too weak to perform his worship."
S So notice his wisdom in mentioning the evils of satiety and (notice) his diligence in worship; since, for its sake, he cast satiety aside. (As some one said,) "The beginning of worship is to diminish one's food."
Al-Shafi'i said, "Neither as a truthful person nor as a liar have I ever sworn by Allah."
So observe how he kept the name of Allah sacred and how he venerated Allah and how that proves his knowledge of Allah's majesty.
On being asked about a certain matter al-Shafi'i remained silent. So they asked, "lay Allah. bless you, are you not going to answer?"
in my silence or in my replying."
Then observe how he guarded his tongue (by not speaking), although it is the most difficult member for jurisconsults to rule and the hardest to control and conquer. From this it is plain that he was accustomed to speak and to be silent
only to acquire excellence and seek a reward (from Allah). IOLE Ahmad bin Sibs Yahya bin al--Wazir said, "One day al
Shafi'i went out of the candle market, and we followed him. Behold, a man was cursing a learned man. Al-Shafi'i turned his head towards us and said, 'Let your ears refrain from hearing obscene words just as you refrain your tongues from
"Not until I know whether
uttering them. for one who listens is a partner (in guilt) of the speaker, and certainly a wicked man sees the ugliest thing in his heart and desires to pour it into your hearts. When a wicked man's word is rejected, the one who rejects it
feels as happy as the one who says it feels miserable."'
Al--Shafi'i said, "One philosopher wrote to another, 'Knowledge was given to you. So do not profane your knowledge with the darkness of sins, for then you will remain in darkness on the day when the learned will run by the light of their knowledge."'
As for his asceticism, al-Shafi'i has said, "Whoever asserts that he has united love of the present world and love
of its Creator in his heart has lied."
Al-Hamidi said, "Al-Shafi'l went out tO,,al-Yaman with 106
one of its governors. With ten thousand dirhams (in his pos
session) he departed for Mecca and pitched his tent in a spot outside the city, (where) people used to come to him; and he did not leave that place until he had distributed all
of it. Once, on coming out of the bath, he gave the bath at107 tendant much money. Another time he gave fifty dinars to a
man who had picked up a whip which had fallen from his hand."
More famous than can be recounted is al--ShAfi'i's liber
ality which (quality) is the starting point of asceticism,
because whoever loves a thing retains it and does not distri-
bute it, since only one in whose eyes the present world has become small distributes wealth. That is the meaning of asceticism.
One of the things that indicate the severity of his asceticism, the strength of his fear of Allah, and his being
concerned about the next abode is the fact that (when) Suf108
yAn bin 'Uyainah related a poorly attested tradition, al
ShAfi'T fainted; and somebody said to SufyAn, "He has died." He replied, "If he has died, then the most excellent of the people of his time has died."
(The same is true regarding) what 'Abdullah Ibn Muhammad 109 110 al-Balwd related. He said, "'Umar Ibn Nabatat and I were
seated discussing devotees and ascetics, when 'Umar said to me, 'I have not seen a more pious person nor a more elegant
speaker that Muhammad bin Idris al-Shafi'i. He, al-Harith
bin Labid, and I went out to al-Safa. Harith, a pupil of al
SAlih al-Murri, began to read (the Qur'an), and his voice was
beautiful. He read this verse to him: 'This day they will not speak, and they have no permission, and they will offer
excuses' (77:35). I noticed al-Shafi'i. His color had
changed, his skin shivered, he trembled exceedingly, and he fell down in a faint. When he recovered, he began to say, 'I seek refuge with Thee from the station of the liars and
the places of the heedless. 0, Allah, to Thee have the hearts
of those who know submitted and to Thee are the necks of the
yearners humbled. 0, my God, bestow on me Thy liberality,
and cover me with Thy veil, and by the generosity of Thy Presence forgive my shortcomings'.
He said, "Then he went on, and we left (Mecca). When
I entered Baghdad, while he was in 'Iraq, I sat on the shore for the ceremonial ablution before worship. Behold, a man passed who said to me, '0, youth, do your ceremonial washing well and Allah will do well to you in this world and in the next.' I turned to look, and behold, I saw a man whom a crowd was following. So I hastened in my ceremonial ablution, and began to follow his steps. Turning to me he asked,
'Do you need something?' I replied, 'Yes,
what Allah has taught you.'
He said to me, 'You should know that whoever believes Allah is safe (from His punishments) and whoever is careful of His religion is safe from destruction,, and the eyes of one who abstains in the present world (i.e. avoids its delights) will be refreshed in the future by what he will see of Allah's reward.'
I said, 'Yes.'
He said, 'Whoever has in him three qualities has perfected his faith: a) he who commands what is legal, and himself keeps that command; b) he who forbids what is unlawful,
and himself observes the prohibition; and c) he who observes the regulations about punishment that Allah has prescribed.
'Shall I not give you more?:' he asked.
'Certainly', I replied.
He advised, 'Be indifferent to this present world,
yearn for the next abode, be sincere toward Allah:. in all
your affairs (secretly and openly), and you will be saved with the saved.'
Then he went away, and I asked, 'Who is that?'
They answered, 'Al-Shafi'1.'"
Then notice his falling down in a faint, then how his preaching proves his asceticism and his extreme fear which are only obtained through mystical or experimental knowledge of Allah. Surely those of Allah's servants who fear Him are the learned. Al-Shafi'i did not acquire this fear and asceticism from knowledge of the book of Commercial Down-Payments and Hiring Anything Out (salam and i arah) and the rest of the books of filth (jurisprudence), but (he acquired it) from his knowledge of the next abode obtained from the Qur'An and traditions; since the maxims of both ancients and moderns have been deposited in both of them.