That is like the conjecture of a man who says, "It will rain today", whenever he sees clouds gathering and coming from the mountains. Then he thinks that it is probable, and maybe the day will be warmed by the sun, the clouds will vanish, and it may be just the contrary. The clouds alone are not sufficient to bring on the rain, while the rest of the causes are not known.
Likewise is the conjecture of a sailor, (who surmises) that his ship will be safe, depending on his knowledge of the custom of the winds, while those winds have hidden causes which he does not know. At one time he may b right in his
strongly-grounded person also is forbidden (to study) astrology.
(3). The third of them (i.e. causes for forbidding the study of astrology) is that there is no benefit in it. The least of its characteristics is that it is getting one's self engrossed in extra things and losing man's most precious stock-in--trade, time, without benefit. This is the epitome of loss.
Once upon a time the Messenger of Allah passed by a man around whom some people had gathered. So he inquired, "What is that?"
conjecture; at another time, wrong.
For this reason the
They replied, "A very learned man." "In what?" he asked.
"In poetry and Arabic genealogy", they replied.
He said, "Knowledge of it does not benefit, and ignorance of it does not harm." 143
Muhammad said again, "Knowledge is a decisive verse
(ayah muhkimah), established usage (sunnah. ga.'imah), or an
equable duty (farldah 'adilah)."
Therefore to enter deeply into (the study of) astrology and the like is to rush into (great) danger and enter deeply into (the sea of) ignorance without benefit. As a matter of fact, that which Is decreed, is; and it is impossible to guard against it. This is in contrast to medecine, for there is a crying need for it, and most of its evidences can be
known. This is also in contrast to inter pretation (of dreams) even though it is conjecture, because it is one of the forty-six parts of prophecy, and there is no possibility of evil in it.
(3). The third reason (for knowledge being blamed): being engrossed in a science of which the seeker is not mas
#r, ter, as learning the details of science before the great truths, or the hidden things before.the plainly seen, and discussing divine secrets is blameworthy in itself; for phi-
losophers and theologians study them, yet are not masters
of them. Only prophets and the saints were masters of them, and only the fringe of some of them. it is necessary to turn people away from discussing them and to turn them back to that about which the law speaks, which ought to be sufficient for a believer. How many people get engrossed in sciences and are harmed by them! If they had not delved deeply into theme
their condition might have been better than that to which they came. So do not deny the fact that a science may be harmful to some people just as birds' meat and certain light sweets harm a nursing child.
Ignorance in some matters benefits many a person, for
it has been related that a man complained to a doctor that his wife was barren and did not beget children. Then the doctor took her pulse and said, "You need no medicine to help you to conceive. Your pulse indicates that you are going to die within forty days."
Then the woman experienced great fear; and, her life being harassed, she withdrew her money, spent.t, made out her will, and remained neither eating nor drinking until the time passed; but she did not die. So her husband went to the doctor and told him, "She has not died!"
Then the doctor said, "I knew that. Now resume marital
relations with her, and she will conceive." So he asked, "How is that7"
He replied, "I saw that she was fat and that the fat around the mouth of her womb had become thickened (knotted). Knowing that she would become thin only by fear of death, I frightened her that way until she reduced and the obstacle to child-bearing disappeared."
This warns you of the feeling of danger in some sciences and causes you to understand the meaning of *uhammad's saying, "We take refuge with Allah from the knowledge which does not benefit."
Take a warning then from this story, and do not be a prober into sciences of which the divine law disapproves and which it forbids, but stick closely to following the Companions and limit yourself to following their usage. For safety lies in foliowin
: risk in investigating things and independence of thought. Do not be very conceited in your ideas, your intelligence, your demonstrations, your proofs, and your assertion: "I probe into things to know them as they are. What harm is there in reflecting on sciences?" You should know that the evil which comes to you is greater (later on). In regard to many a thing which you know, the fact that you
know it is such a great harm to you that it is going to destroy you in the next abode, if Allah does not overtake you with His mercy.
You should know that just as a clever doctor understands the secret of treating a disease which those who do not know regard as incurable , so in like manner the prophets are the doctors of hearts and those who know the means of attaining to the next life. So do not judge their usage by your intellect, or you will perish.
When something happens to a finger, many a person decides to smear it with medicine until a clever doctor warns him that the proper treatment is to smear the palm of his hand. He finds this to be the height of improbability, because he knows neither how the nerves and their roots branch nor the direction of their winding through the body. This is the situation about the way to the next abode and about the details and practices of the usage>3 of divine law. In its beliefs by which people worship there are secrets and subtleties which the capacity and power of the mind are not able to fully master, just as in the peculiar properties of stones there are many strange things, the knowledge of which has departed from craftsmen to such an extent that no one is able to know the reason why a magnet attracts iron. The miracles and wonders in beliefs and religious works and their
benefits are the lucidity, purity, and. holiness of hearts
and purifying and makin them fit to ascend to the proximity of Allah and presenting them to the gifts of His favour which are more numerous and greater than that which is in medicines and medicinal plants.
Just as the intellect fails to apprehend the benefits
of medicines although experience is a way to it, so they fail to grasp that which benefits in the next abode, although experience is not an approach to it. Experience would be an approach to it could somebody return from the dead and tell us about the acceptable and beneficial deeds which draw one very near to Allah and about the deeds which separate from Him, and likewise about beliefs. But that is beyond hope.
Concerning the benefits of the intellect, it should suffice you that it leads you to a belief in the veracity of the Prophet and causes you to understand the sources of his. comments. Withdraw your mind from undertaking (something that does not concern it) and adhere to following the law, for you are only safe in (doing) it. (And may all the Mus
lims be safe).
For that reason Muhammad said, "In knowledge there is ignorance; and in speech, weakness, While it is known that knowledge is not ignorance; but in (causing) harm, it has
# reading with SMZ s~afa_' instead of 1± saafa'
the effect of ignorance.
He also said, "A little bit of success-bringing aid 146 (from Allah) is better than a great deal of knowledge."
'Isa said, "How many trees there are, but not all have fruit! How much fruit there is, but not all of it is good! And how much knowledge there is,, but not all of it is useful!"
B. An Explanation of those Technical Names
of the Sciences which Were Changed
You should know that the source of confusion between the blameworthy and the lawful sciences is the garbling of the praiseworthy names and substituting and removing them, with corrupt intentions, to ideas other than those which the righteous followers of the first (Muslim) century had in mind.
These are five terms: 1) Jurisprudence, 2) knowledge, 3) the doctrine of Allah's unity, 4) devotional exercises, and 5) wisdom. These are praiseworthy names, and those characterized by them are those who have high positions in religion. But now the names are given to blameworthy ideas, and hearts have begun to have an aversion from the defect of one who holds such ideas, because of the common ascription of such names to them.
1. The first term is al-figh (jurisprudence).
They practiced craft in it by applying the term to a special part of the science, not by transferring or changing its name; for they made it peculiar to a knowledge of the unusual subdivisions of legal decisions, knowing the minutiae of their (hidden) causes, desiring many words about them, and memorizing declarations connected with them. They
called one who was most intent in delving deep and working 147
hardest in them "the most informed in filth", while in the
first (Muslim) century the name "filth" was given to knowledge of the way to the next abode, knowing details of the evils of souls and things which pollute actions, the capaeity to fully understand contempt for the present world, the intensity of anticipation of the blessedness of the next abode, and fear ruling over the heart. Allah's saying, "Let them become well versed in religion and let them warn their people, when they return to them" (9:123), proves this for you.
That by which warning and frightening are obtained is this "filth", not the subordinate branches of divorce (tat q), emancipation ('ataq), the form of accusation of adultery and and the defense (li'dn), down-payment (salam), and of hiring a thing out (i arah). Nor are warning and fringhtening obtained by that, but continually devoting oneself entirely to
it hardens the heart and removes :_,only piety from it, as we
see in those day r,nnY; those who devote themselves to. it. Allah said, "The;; have hearts by which they do not un
derstand" (7:178) , by ich _j me _,.nt t.ze doctrines of t' e faith, and not (11.no 1ed_ .e of) ivin legal opinions. I swear
that philologicn.lly filth and fahrn, '"understanding," are two words having; one me.,-nine;.
xe sneaks about the customary use of it in ancient and modern times. "Surely fear of you", said Ire, "is more intense
in their hearts than fear of Allah (because they are a people who do not under st and) "
The mr~eagreness of their fear of Allah and their regard
ing people's power as great he ascribed. to the small amount
of their understandinc (fiah) . Then notice if that was the result of their failure to keep (to) the subordiante branches
of giving legal opinions or the result of the lack of those
sciences which we mentioned.
= q.7:,--r-mad Laid, 11 'Ulama' , huka III.' , fugah .", to those
who came to him.
S !'d Din Ibr~ hlm a1-Zubrl was a.s=yea,
the city are most capable in fiqh?"
; e replied, ""Those who are most pious", just as if' he indicated t:ze fruit of figih, for piety is a fruit of inner knowledge and not of giving , opinions and judg.uents.
"' ~ ~t t people of
Muhammad said, "Shall I (not) tell you about the faith, the real faith ?"
They replied, "Certainly."
He said, "He is the one who does not make people despair of Allah's compassion and who does not make them safe from Allah's circumvention (makr allah) and. who does not cause them to despair of Allah's mercy and who does not leave the q;ur'an, forsaking it for something else."
When Anas bin Malik related Muhammad's saying (about devotional exercise), "To sit with people that remember Allah
from early dawn to sunrise is more loved by me than emanci
pating four slaves", he turned to Yazid al-Ragashl and Ziyad
al-humairi and said, "The meetings for devotional exercise
were not like these meetings of yours. One of you preaches his sermon to his companions and narrates traditions uninterruptedly, whereas in our practice of filth we used to sit and mention faith and study the Qur'Rn carefully and become well versed in the science of religion and number Allah's mercies towards us."
He called attentive study of the taur'an and numbering Allah's mercies figh.
Muhammad said, "A worshipper does not know filth completely until he detests people for the sake of Allah and
SMZ reading figh instead of tafaqquh
until he sees. that the Qur'an has many aspects; and along with his saying, it is related (in a tradition) carried back to Abi al--Darda', "Then he sets upon his own self, and he is most severe in his abhorrence of it (his self)."
Farqad al-Sabakhl asked al-IIasan about something. On
receiving a reply, he said, "The fagThs disagree with you."
Then al-Uasan said, "May thy mother be bereft of thee, poor little Farqad. Have you ever seen a,fagih with your
own eyes? A (real) faglh is ascetic in (regard to) the present world, desirous of the next abode, and clear-sighted in his religion. He is continually worshipping His Lord, is scrupulously pious (al-war'),. abstains from what Muslims avoid, refrains from (sharing) their wealth, and is an advisor to ail of them."
In ail that he did not say(that a fagih is one who) memorizes the subordinate branches of legal opinions. And
I do not say that the name filth was not given to the handing down of legal decisions concerning judgments about externals, but for the most part it was general and inclusive or by way of supplement. In general they ascribed to it the meaning of "knowledge of the next abode".
From this specialization a confusion. appeared which impelled people to devote themselves to it and avoid the knowledge of the next abode and the qualities of hearts. In this
(respect) they found an ally in nature in the fact that mystic knowledge ('ilm al-bat1n) is abstruse and difficult to follow, and it is nearly impossible to reach one's ambition to rule, judge, and win reputation and wealth by it.
Thus the Shaitan found a way to make it (appear) good to people by means of the particularization of the name of figh which is a praiseworthy name in religious law.
2. The second term is al-'ilm (knowledge).
That used to be ascribed to "knowledge of Allah, His verses, and His acts towards His worshippers and His people" so that, when 'Umar died, Ibn xas'ud said, "Nine-tenths of knowledge has died." He made the word definite by the use of the definite article. Then he explained it as "knowledge of Allah". They (the present generation) employed themselves.
in particularizing it until they gave it currency, in general, as one who engages his adversaries in controversy about prob
lems of filth and other subjects. Then they say, "He is really learned" and "He is very strong in knowledge", and one who
does not practice that and engage in it is counted among the
weak ones, and they do not count him among the company of the people of knowledge.
This also is employing one's self in particularization, while most of the virtues of learning and the learned which have come (down in tradition) are bout those who knew Allah
His rules, deeds, and attributes.
Now it has happened that it (the name 'alim)is given to one who understands practically nothing of the science of divine law except dialectical definitions about problems of apologetics, and because of that he is counted among the great 'ulama.' in spite of his ignorance of interpretation, tradition, knowledge of (different) schools of filth, and other things. This has become a cause of destruction to many who seek knowledge ('ilm).
3. The third term is al-tawhld (affirming the oneness of Allah).
Now it has become an expression for the science of scholastic theology, knowledge of the way to dispute, thorough mastery of the ways to contradict-ion of an opponent's proposition, ability to be diffuse in it by asking many questions, and stirring up doubts and drawing conclusions to the
point that some groups of them (al-Mu'tazilah) call themselves 154 "the people of justice and affirmation of the oneness of Allah".
The scholastic theologians are called "those who are learned
in the affirmation of the oneness of Allah" (al-'ulama' bi '1ta_ whld) in spite of the fact that nothing at all that is peculiar to this science was known in the first (Muslim) century, but they (the Fathers) were swift to repudiate anyone who used to open the door to dialectics and bitterness.
As for the clear proofs contained in the Qur'an which
the intellect accepts on the first hearing, that was well known to all. Knowledge of the Qur'an was the whole of knowl
edge; and with them (the people of the first Muslim century)
al-tawhid was an expression for another matter which most
scholastic theologians do not understand; and if they did un
derstand it, they would not perform it. It is to see in such a clear way that severs one's solicitude for causes and means so that he only sees all good and evil as from Allah which is an honorable position.
One of its fruits is trust (on Allah) (al-tawakkul), an exposition of which will come in the book on Trust (Book thirty-five of the IhyR'). Satisfaction (with Allah's decrees) crees) and surrender to the rule of Allah and abstaining from accusing people and being angry against them are included in its fruits. One of its fruits is what Abu Bakr al-Siddiq said when during an illness he was asked, "Shall we bring you a doctor?"
He replied, "The doctor caused my illness."
(There is also) the saying of another who, when ill, was asked, "*What did the doctor say about your illness?" and he replied, "He said to me, 'I am one who does what I desire."
Proofs of that will appear in the "Book of Trust and the Book of the Affirmation of Allah's Oneness". (Book thirty-five)
The doctrine of Allah's oneness is a precious jewel which has twopoverings, one of which is farther from the essence than the other. People have used the name particularly for the covering and the art of guarding the covering, and they have neglected the heart of the matter entirely.
The first covering is to say with your tongue, "Thereis no god but Allah." This is called ta~ wh d "asserting the doctrine of Allah's oneness" in contradiction to tathlif asserting the doctrine of the trinity" which the Christians clearly state (in their books), but this sometimes arises from the (conduct of a) hypocrite whose inner life contradicts his public life.
The second covering is that
be no contradiction or denial of what he understands of this statement, but the outer part of his heart takes hold of belief in that and knows it. This is tawhld ofthe masses. As we have seen, the scholastic theologians are the ones who guard this covering from the confusion of innovators.
The third, which is the heart of the matter, is to see
that all things are from Allah in such a clear way as to sever his attention from the means, and to worship Him in such
a way that He alone is worshipped, and not to worship any other. Following one's evil desires (al-hawa) is excluded from this ta_ whfd, for everyone who follows his own evill desire has taken
heart there shall
his desire as the object of his worship.
Allah said, "Have you considered the one who has taken his evil desire as his god?" (25.45)
"In the sight of Allah, the most odious god on earth is evil desire", said Muhammad,
In truth anyone who reflects, knows that an idol worshipper worships not the idol but his own evil desire; for his soul is inclined towards the ways of his fathers which he follows. This inclination of the soul to familiar things is one of the ideas which is expressed by al-haws ."
(Both) to be angry with people and to turn to them (for approval) are excluded from this taA ww id, for how can one who considers that everything comes from Allah be angry with others? Assuredly taw_ ld has been an expression for this station (madam) which is the station of the righteous.
Then notice what this (term tawhid) has been changed to and with which of its coverings one is satisfied and how people rely on this, as they vie with one another for glory and boast by something the name of which is praiseworthy, at the same time bankrupting it of the meaning which deserves. true praise. That is like the bankruptcy of one who rises in the morning, turns toward the giblah and says, "I face toward the One who created the heavens and earth, in the manner of one
who turns from a false to the true religion" (6:79).(han1fan)
This is the first lie by which he addresses Allah each day, unless the face of his heart is directed toward Ailah
direction of the One who created heaven and earth so that any
in sincerity. Then, if he means by "the face" an external 156 face, he has certainly directed himself only to the Ka'bah,
and!urned away from other directions. The Ka'bah is not the
one turning toward it is (also) turning toward Allah, lest directions and regions should limit him.
If by this he means "the face of the heart", which isithe object the one worshipped demands of a worshipper, how is he truthful in his speech, while his heart is concerned with his worldly needs and necessities, and while he is employed in his quest for schemes and is multiplying means to accumulate wealth and reputation and facing entirely towards them?
When he turns his face towards the One who created heaven and earth, then his word is information about the real tawhld. For the man who affirms Allah's oneness is he who sees only the One and turns his face towards Him only which is obeying Allah's saying, "Say: It is Allah. Then leave them immersed in their play" (6:91) .
This does not mean speaking with the tongue (only), for the tongue is only an interpreter that sometimes speaks the truth and sometimes lies. Verily the place to which Allah looks is the heart, of which it is the interpreter and which
is the mine and source of tawhld.
4. The fourth term is dhikr and tacihdr (remembering and causing to remember or admonishing), for Allah as said, "Call to mind, for calling to mind benefits the believers" (51:55).
zany traditions have come down in praise of tie sessions f dhikr (remembering Allah) such as i.uhamriad's saying, "if gardens you pass by the luxuriant of the Iarden (al--jannah), eat and drink to your satisfaction.''
the present world. When they see sessions of dhikr, they call to one another, 'Come to your desire'; and they come and surround them and listen. Then remember Allah, and admonish yourselves."
That gas been changed to what you see most exhorters of this time persisting in; that is: a) stories (gisas), b) poems
(ash'ar), c) extravagant speech (s lath) , and d) ecstatic utter158
ances (Um t). As for stories, they are innovations. An in
terdiction of the religious fathers against listening to storytellers has come (down to us). They said, "That was not cur
rent in tie time of the i_iessenger of Allah nor in the time of 159 Abu Hakr nor of 'Umar until (in `All's time) the Civil War
Somebody asked, "What are He replied, "The sessions
In a tradition (we find), angels of the world of created
the gardens of the Garden?"
"Allah has angels, other than beings, traveling around in
broke out; then the story-tellers appeared."
It is related that Ibn 'Umar came out of a place of worship and said, "Nothing but a story-teller made me leave;
had it not been for him, I should not have come out."
Qamrah said, "I said to Sufyan al-Thaurl, 'We receive
the story-teller gladly."" Then he said, "Turn your backs
Ibn 'Aun said, "I went in to see Ibn Slrln, who asked,
'What news have you today?' I replied, 'The Amlr has prohibited story-tellers from spinning tales.' He said, 'He has
donethe right thing''.
Al-A' 'mash entered the mosque of al-Bapah, where he saw
a story-teller relating a story and saying, "Al-A'mash handed down to us----", and he (i.e. al-A'mash) then stood in the middle of the circle and began to pluck out hair from his armpit. So the story-teller said, "0, shaikh, are you not ashamed?"
He replied, "Why? I am following usage, and you are lying. I am al-A'mash, and I certainly have not related traditions to you!"
Ahmad (Ibn 4anbal) said, "In respect to lying, those who lie most are the story-tellers and beggars (al-su " &l)."
'All expelled story-tellers from the place of worship of
the mosque of al-La$rah; but when he heard the words of al165 Hasan al-Basri, he did not expel him; for he was speaking
about knowledge of the next abode, reminding (them' about death, warning about defects of the soul, actions, the disturbing. influences of the Shait:an and the manner of guarding
against them, mentioning Allah's grace and mercies and the worshipper's shortcoming in his thanksgiving, making known the insi`:,nificance of the present world, its faults, transitory nature, its failure to fulfil its promises, anti the risks and terrors of the next abode.
In respect to the divine law this is praiseworthy reminding which is urged in a tradition of Abu Dharr, where he said, "Attendin:, a session of remembrance (dhikr) is more excellent than ooerforming a worship of one thousand cycles (rak'ah), and attending session of '_.~:nowledge is preferable to visiting a thousand sick people, and attending a session of knowledge is preferable to being present at a thousand funerals."
Somebody asked, "0, i.Iessenger of Allah, (is it preferred to) reading the Qur'Mn?"
'He countered, "Is there any benefit in reading the ;cur' An without knowledge?"
'Ata said, "One session of remembrance (dhikr) pardons . 166 seventy sessions of nleasure.f'
slaving taken traditions as a prcof to justify themselves, those who bedeck their speech with lies have transferred the name of "remindin;" (tadhkir) to their fa.c'ulous tales, net lected
the way of praiseworthy remembrance (dhikr), and engaged in stories which are subject to changes, accretions, and deficiencies and which depart from and add to the stories mentioned in the Qur'an. Some of the stories contain something worth hearing; some, that which is harmful, even if it be true. Whoever opens this door on himself is unable to distinguish between the true and the false; the useful and the harmful. On acc.ount of this it is forbidden.
For that reason Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, "What a need people have for a veracious story-teller:"
If it be one of the Prophet's stories in which there is some connection with their religious affairs and the storyteller is really veracious in his recital, I see no harm. So beware of lying (story-tellers) and tales ofcircumstances which lead to faults or complaisancies, the meaning of which the common man's understanding falls to grasp or (he fails to understand) that it is a rarely occurring fault which is accompanined by expiations which are rectified by good deeds which cover them. For the common man will take refuge in
that (in regard to) his complaisancies and faults, and prepare an excuse about it for himself and will offer the pretext that such and such a thing was told about some of the elders and notables : "Since all of us come into contact with disobedience; there should be no surprise if I disobey Allah, when somebody
who is more notable than I has disobeyed Him." That helps one to be bold towards Allah in ignorance; but after avoiding these two things, there is no harm in it.
Then he returns to praiseworthy stories: those which the Qur'an contains as well as valid traditions in the sound books. Among people there is the person who finds it permissible to write stories which cause a desire to obey. fie asserts that his aim in them is to invite people to Allah (al-hagcty. These are defamations of the Shai~an. Verily there is ample scope to avoid lying, and (in confining one's self to) what Allah and His apostle have mentioned, one may keep clear of inventing anything new in making the address (al-wa'Z) Why (should.
he do so) when the affectation of rhymed prose is disliked? 147
Sa'd bin Abi Waggap said to his son, 'Umar, on hearing
him recite rhymed prose, "This is what makes me dislike you. I will never give you what you need until you repent", when
his son went to him about something he needed.
Muhammad said to 'Abdullah Ibn Ruwa.hah about rhymed
prose of three words, "Beware of rhymed prose, 0 Ibn Ruwahah."
Forbidden rhymed prose is what exceeds a few words (or two words). Therefore (concerning what) the man said about the blood-money of the unborn child:
"For one who has neither drunk nor eaten Should we pay blood-money,
Or for one who has neither cried loudly Nor uttered the sound of the new-born? One like himmust go unavenged,t'
the Prophet said, "Is he speaking in rhymed prose like that 149
of the Arabs (Badu) ?"
As for poetry, employing much of it in making the address is blameworthy. Allah said, "It is the poets whom the erring ones follow. Do you not see how they are wandering about love-stricken in every valley?" (26:224-225). And He said, "We did not teach him poetry, nor is it seemly for him" (36:69).
Most of the poetry which the exhorters are accustomed
to is that which is connected with describing passionate love and the beauty of the one so loved, the joy of union and the pain of separation, while (that kind of) assembly contains only coarse common people whose inner life is supercharged with sensual appetites and whose hearts still turn to pleasant forms. So the poems only stir up what is hidden in their hearts. Then fires of passion are kindled in them, and they cry involuntarily and dance, most or all of which goes back to a kind of corruption (in religion). So one must use only that poetry which has a lesson or wisdom in it by way of bringing (something) forward as evidence and illustration. The Prophet said, "Surely there is wisdom in some poetry."
If the session contains special people who are well known for their heartfelt love for Allah and no one else is with them, poetry which has a surface meaning for ordinary people does not harm them; for, in accordance with a demon
stration of the truth of what follows in the book of Hear152
ing Music, the listener applies everything he hears of that which takes possession of his heart. Al-Junaid used to speak to a small group of about ten
people; and, if the number increased, he did not speak, though
the people of his session never amounted to twenty.
A group was present at the door of Ibn Salim's, and some
body said, "Speak, for your disciples have come."
He replied, "No, these are not my friends. They are the
friends of the session. My friends are the special people."
(c). As for shah, by it we mean two classes of speech which some of the Sufis introduced. (1). One of them is extreme pretension of love to Allah and attainment of the stage
where they can dispense with external actions to the extent that some people reach a claim of identification and a lift
ing of the veil and seeing by vision and addressing by speech. And they say, "Such and such was said to us, and we said such and such."
In this they imitate of resemble Husain bin MIansour al
iallaj who was crucified for uttering words of this kind, and
they call to witness his saying, "I am the divine Reality", and what was told about Abu Yazid al-BisDRmi who said, "Praise be to me ! Praise be to me,
This is a kind of speech which has such
the masses that many agriculturists leave their cultivation of land and manifest a like pretension. Truly, nature finds this speech delightful; for, in it, there is the giving up
of work to accompany the purification of the soul and attainment of stations (magamdt) and states (akwal). The foolish are not loath to claim that for themselves nor to swallow
ambiguously embellished words; and whenever that is denied
them, they are not loath to say, "The source of denial is(external or intellectual) knowledge and dialectics. Knowledge
is a veil and argument is the work of the self, while this information only appears from the inner self by uncovering the light of reality."
This and its like is part of that the sparks of which
are scattered about the land while the harm of which has become so great among the masses that it is preferable concerning Allah's religion to put to death one who utters any ofit than
to cause ten to live.
As for Abu Yazid al-bista.ml, what is quoted is not cer
ti,fi.ed about him. Even if that were heard from him, perhaps he was quoting it about Allah in words which he was repeating
great harm for
to himself, just as if he were heard 1=rhile saying, "verily
I am Allah. There is no god but me, Then worship me." So
it is only fitting to understand that from, him by way of quotation,
(2). The second classification of Shath is words not understood (but) which have external beauty and in which there are terrifying expressions with no benefit; behind them. That
is, that they are either not understood by the speaker---
rather their source is due to his confused mind and disordered imagination because of his meagre mastery of words which he
has heard, which is more often the case or they are understood by him, but he is not able to make them understood and
state them in an expression which indicates what he has in mind because of his meagre practice of knowledge and lack of
learning how to express his ideas in elegant words. There is
no benefit in this kind of speech; it only confuses hearts,
perplexes minds, and bewilders intellects, or induces people
to understand from it ideas not meant by them. Each one will understand according to his inclination and nature.
Muhammad said, "Certainly none of you has ever told peopie a tradition which they do not understand without its being a disturbance to them."
He said, "Talk to people about what they know and leave what they do not 4~-,now. Do you want to give the impression
that Allah and His messenger lie?"
This was said about something which the master of the subject understands and which the mind of the nearer does not attain to. Then how (would it be) about something which the speaker does not understand? Even if the speaker understands and the hearer does not, one is not permitted to mention it.
'Isa said, "Do not give wisdom to other than its people (i.e. those who deserve it) ; for you will oppress it; and do not withhold it from its people, for you will pppress them. Be like a kind doctor who puts his medicine on the place of the disease."
And in another saying, "Whoever gives wisdom to other than its people is certainly ignorant, and whoever withholds it from its people has surely oppressed. For wisdom has its right and its people. Then to everyone who has a right, give his right."
(d). As for the ecstatic utterances (t~ammt), what we mentioned about shath applies to these also. Another thing characterizes them. This is the changing of the terms of jurisprudence from their obviously understood (sense) to in
ner matters from which no benefit to the understanding is an155 ticipated. (This is) like the custom of the Batiniyah sect
in allegorical interpretations. For this is forbidden also
and its harm is great. For if the terms are changed from their
from their literal meanings without holding fast to authoritative tradition from the lawgiver (Muhammad) or without reason making it necessary, that leads to loss.of confidence in the terms. In this way the benefit of the words of Allah and of His Messenger falls, and there is certainly no reliance on what goes forth from it to the understanding.
That which is subjective (b_At n)has3 no steadfastness, but thoughts conflict in it and it may be applied in many ways. This also is part of the innovation which is widespread and of great harm. Its proponents mean to say strange things because the soul inclines toward the unusual and finds delight in it. In this way the BNtinlyah arrive at the destruction of all that is lawful by interpreting its obvious sense and
applying it according to their Opinion, as we quoted from their 156 doctrines in our book "al-Mustazhiri", composed in refutation
of the BAtinlyah.
Likewise the way some of the people of extravagant ecstatic utterances (ahl al-tammat) interpret the Qur'anic verse, "Go to Pharaoh. He is tyrannical" (20:25, 45) , by saying that it is an allusion to one's heart. They say that what is meant by "Pharaoh" is it (the heart) which is the tyrant over mankind.
They turn Allah's saying, "Throw down they rod" (28:31) into, "Everything except Allah on which one leans and depends
ought to be cast aside."
Concerning Muhammad's words, "Eat the meal called the saw, for in the sahar there is a blessing", they say that he meant, "Ask forgiveness just before daybreak."
Examples of that are numerous. They even tamper with
the literal sense of the Qur'an from beginning to end, as well as its explanation handed down from Ibn 'Abbess and other learned ones.. The absurdity of some of these interpretations
is known absolutely, such as the changing of 'Pharaoh' to 157 158
'heart'; for,like Abu Jahal, Abu Lahab, and some of the un
believers, Pharaoh is a tangible person,, mention of-whose existence and of Mu-sa's challenge to him having been handed
down to us in succession by trustworthy people. He was not
of the genus demon (shaita.n) or angel (ralak)which are not perceived by the sense so that he should be forced to mean those terms. In that way they make 'early morning meal'
(al-sahur) to mean 'seeking forgiveness' (al-istighfar),
whereas in reality, Muhammad used to take the food and say, "Eat the meal called the ssahur, and hasten to the blessed repast."
The absurdity of these matters is known through well es
tablished information (tawatur) and through sense perception (hass) by way of tradition. Some of them are known by probability which is in matters with which perception is not con
reading with SMZ alf ha Instead of alfazihi
nected. All of that is prohibited, leads astray, and corrupts religion for people. None of it has been handed down from the Companions (saahabah) nor from the Followers (tabi'h) nor from al-Hasan al-Basri despite the fact that he was intent on challenging and admonishing people.
In Muhammad's saying, "Let the dwelling of one who ex
plains the Qur'an according to his opinion be in the Fire",
no other kind of meaning is obvious. It is that his aim and his opinion is to establish and confirm a matter, So he wishes to draw the testimony of the Qur'€Ln as evidence and tries to apply it without giving a linguistic, philological,
or traditionally transmitted proof in favour of its revelation. From this it is not necessary to understand that it is encumbent not to explain the Qur'&n after investigation and reflection. Concerning some of the verses, what is quoted from the Companions and commentators, has five, six, or seven meanings; and we know that not all of them were heard from the Prophet, for they are sometimes incompatible one with another and do not admit being harmonized. That is discovered by good understanding and deep thinking. For this reason Iuhammad said to Ibn 'Abbess, "0, Allah, give him understanding and teach him interpretation."
Any one of the people of extravagant ecstatic utterances (ahl al-tammat) who deems things like these allegorical inter-
pretations (ta'wilat) lawful, though he I:nows that they are
not what the words(of the Q,ur'an) mean, and asserts that by them he purposes to call creatures to their Creator, resembles one who deems it lawful to invent and falsely ascribe to the .Messenger of Allah something true in itself, but which the divine law did not mention, such as one who falsely ascribes
a tradition to the Prophet for every matter which he considers right. That is wrong, a deviation from the right way, and comes under the threat understood from Fluhammad's saying, "Let the Fire be the resting place of one who Intentionally makes me a liar."
But the evil of changing these words. is even greater, because they nullify confidence in the words and entirely rob the Qur'an of meaning and understanding. "'or you have recognized how the demon (shaitan) induced people to change from the praiseworthy to the blameworthy sciences, all of which
was due to the deceit of those corrupt divines ('ulama' al-su') by interchanging their names. If, depending on a well known
in the first ('114uslim) century, you would be like one who wants the honor of wisdom by following one who is called wise. For, in this century, it has come to pass that the name wise man (or philosopher, jakim) is used without qualification for a physician, a poet, and an astronomer. 'his is by being heed-
name, you follow these without having regard to what was
less of the changing of the terms.
5. The fifth term is al-hikmah(wisdom). The name hakim (wise man) has come to be used indiscriminately for a physi
cian, a poet, and an astronomer, and even for one who rolls
dice for Sudanese saddles in the public streets, although
al-hikmah (wisdom) is what Allah praised. He said, "He gives
wisdom to whomever He wills; and the one to whom wisdom has
been given, has been given much good" (2:272).
"One word of wisdom which a man learns", said dluhammad,
"is better for him than the present world ana what it contains."
So notice what al-YLikrnah (wisdom) once stood for and to
what it has been changed. Do the same with the rest of the
terms and guard against being deceived by the obscure render
ings or dissemblings of those who are corrupt divines ('ulama'
al-su'). Their harm to religion is greater than that of the devils (shayatin); for, by means of them (i.e. the 'ulama'), the devil becomes equipped to remove religion from the hearts of mankind. For this reason the Messenger of Allah refused to
reply, when he was asked about harm to ,r.,ankind. He said, ""0
Allah, forgive them." So they tepeated their question, and he said, "They are the corrupt divines ('ulama' al-su')."
You certainly know the praiseworthy and blameworthy knowledge and how ambiguity upsets things (mitMr al-ii.tibRs).
You have the choice to look either to yourself and follow
the Fathers or to descend to the bottom (by means of) the rope of deception and imitate the moderns. All the sciences that the Fathers found satisfactory are effaced,and most of that which people are intent on getting is modern innovation. Nuhammad's dictum, "Islam began as an alien religion, and it will return to where it began. Then blessed be the aliens", has become true.
Being asked, "Who are the aliens?" he replied, "Those who reform these customs of mine which people have rendered corrupt, and those who revive these customs of mine which people have killed."
In another tradition he says, "They are
on to what you are following now."
In another tradition (hadith) (we read), "The aliens are
a few righteous people in the midst of many people. Those who 161 hate them are more numerous than those who love them."
These sciences became alien because one who mentions them is hated. Therefore al-Thauri said, "If you see a learned man
who has many friends, be sure that hells one who renders things 162
dubious to bearers; because, if he spoke the truth, they would
0. An Exposition of the Praiseworthy Amount of the Praiseworthy Sciences
You should know that in this respect knowledge is of three kinds: 1) both a small and a large amount of one kind
are blameworthy; 2) both a small and a large amount of a sec
ond kind are praiseworthy; and whenever it is in abundance, the better and more excellent it is; and 3) a sufficient amount of a third kind is praiseworthy, but an excess and deep study of it is not praiseworthy.
They (i.e. these three kinds) are like the bodily conditions, for among them there is 1) that of which a small and a large amount are praiseworthy such as health and beauty; and among them is 2) that of which both a small and a large amount are blameworthy such as ugliness and evil character; and among them there is 3) that in which moderation is praised
such as liberality in wealth, though squandering it, which is
a kind of liberality, is not praised. Ct is like bravery (in regard to moderation); for rashly rushing headlong into danger, even though it be a kind of bravery, is nbt praised. And knowledge is like that.
1. The blameworthy kind, be it little or much, is that in which there is no benefit in religion or in the present world; for its harm overbalances its benefits such as knowledge of magic, talismans, and astrology. Some of it has no benefit in it at all. To spend a lifetime, which is man's most precious possession, in obtaining somethin; like it is to squan-
der it (life), and to squander a precious object is blameworthy. Part of it is that in which the harm exceeds the necessities of the present life which one expects to obtain by it, and which is of no account in comparison with obtained from it.
2. As for the kind which is praiseworthy to the farthest depth of inquiry into knowledge, it is knowledge of Allah, His attributes, His deeds, His laws towards His people, and His wisdom in basing the next abode on the present world,
This is knowledge sought for itself and which one may attain to future happiness. To spend one's decreed time (i.e. one's life) in utmost endeavor (to obtain it) is to fall short of the necessary limit; for it is a lake, the bottom of which
is not known. As much as they can, the thirsty hover around
its shores and extremities. Only prophets, saints, and those
well grounded in knowledge entered deeply into its extreme
limits on the basis of their differences in rank according
totheir different proximity (to Him) and dissimilarity of
Allah's decree concerning them. This is the hidden knowledge which is not written in books.
Learning and seeing the circumstances of the other worldly divines ('ulama' al-aichirah) help to call attention to it
just as (you will see in) the description of them which will - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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follow. This is the beginning of the matter. Devotional exercises, purifying and emptying the heart of worldly ties, and imitating the prophets and saints in these things in order to make it clear for everyone who is hastening in search of it, according to what Allah gave him, not according to ex
ertion---all these help him at the end. 3ut in it no doing away with
3. As for the sciences of which only a special amount is praised, they are those which we mentioned (at the beginning of the section) under "General Obligations". For in every one of these sciences there is a minimum, which is the least amount; and there is a moderate amount, which is intermediate; and there is excess beyond what is moderate, which cannot be passed while life lasts.
Then be one of two men--either occupied with your own soul, or devoting yourself to others after finishing with yourself. Take care to see that you are not occupied in improving others before improving yourself. Then, if you are occupied with yourself, busy yourself only with ".that knowledge wrLich is your particular duty according as yourcircumstance demands and that part of it which. is connected to it by outward actions such as learning the worship, ablution,
struggling against difficulties
there is (al-ijti
Surely the most important thing which all neglect is knowledge of the attributes of the heart: those that are praiseworthy and those that are blameworthy. For no man is without some blameworthy attributes such as cupidity, envy, hypocrisy, conceit, and the like. All of them are destruc
tive; and to neglect them, along with occupation in external
acts, resembles being busy in rubbing ointments on the surface of the body, when one suffers from the itch and boils, and failing to draw out the cause by bloodletting and purg
Those whose knowledge is superficial advise the external acts just as quack doctors advise one to smear the surface
of his body. The other-worldly divines only advise one to purity his inner life and cut off the substance of the evil by destroying its sources and uprooting its origins from the
Most people resort to external deeds instead of purifying the heart only because external acts are easy, while acts of the heart are difficult, just as one who finds it difficult to drink bitter medicine takes refuge in smearing the surface. So he does not cease to weary himself in smearing, and he increases the causes, and his ailments are him.
But if you desire the next abode and. seek salvation
and wish to flee from everlasting destruction, busy yourself
in knowledge of the inner maladies and their remedy, as we have presented in detail in the Quarter on the Things That Harm. Then withoutdoubt that will draw you to the praise
worthy stations mentioned in the quarter on the Things Tnat
Save. For when the heart is emptied of the blameworthy, it
is filled with the praiseworthy. If the earth is cleansed of weeds, various kinds of sweet-smelling flowers and plants will spring out of it. But if it (the earth) is not emptied
of the one, this other will not spring up. So do not busy
yourself in the general obligations especially when there
is a group of people who have already fulfilled them.
For one who destroys himself in doing what is advanta
geous to others is simple-minded. How great is the foolishness of one under whose clothes snakes and scorpions have crept intent on killing him, while he (himself) is searching for a fly-swatter to drive flies away from others who do not
free him from want or save him from the snakes and scorpions which he meets, when they are intent on killing him.
When you have finished improving yourself and you have
become able to forsake the outer and the -Jinner sin and that has become a habit and an easy custom for you----and how remote that is from you;---then engage in the general obligations
and pay attention to the method of gradual progress in them.
Begin with the Qur'an, then the usage of His Apostle, then
the science of exposition and the rest of the Qur'anic sci163 ences (such as) the science of the abrogating (nasikh and
the abrogated verses (mansukh); what is severed (in respect
to meaning)(ma~fsu_l_) and joined (in respect to utterance)
(mausul); the decisive (mmuuhkam) and the figurative (mutasha
bih); and likewise with usage .
Then engage in the subsidiary sciences which form the