Al-Hasan(al-Basri) said, "Learn what you wish to know; and, by Allah, Allah will not reward you until you do (what you know)." For the stupid are concerned with relating,
while the concern of the learned is shepherding.
Malik(Ibn Anas) said, "The search for knowledge is good and its dissemination is good, if its aim is sound; but notice what you need from the time you arise till the time
you retire, and do not prefer anything to it."
Ibn Mas'ud said, "The Qur'an was sent down to be followed. You have taken its study as an occupation, but their will come a people who will turn it to whatever form they
please (,yuthaggifunahu). These are not your elite. A learned person (who knows and) fails to act is like an invalid who describes his medicine (and does not take it) and like a Hungry man who describes his delicious food and who does not find it."
Of a similar nature is Allah's Baying, "Woe be to you
because of what you describe" (21:18).
(Then there is ) the tradition, "Verily I fear for my people the fall of a learned man and a liar who disputes about the Qur'an,"
3. (A third sip3n of the other-worldly divines) is that his concern is to obtain knowledge which is useful for the next abode and which requires obediencet and he shuns the sciences the benefit of which decreases, and about which disputation and talk increase.
Anyone who avoids knowledge which is concerned with acts ('urn al-i'm&l) and engages in dialectics is like an invalid who has many ills and who has met or found a ekilfull doctor with only a short time which he is afraid will soon pass away. Then he busies himself in inquiring about the special properties of herbs, remedies, and the wonders of the art of medicine, while he neglects his own concern which ie to take the medicine. That is pure stupidity.
It is related that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said, "Teach me some of the wonders of knowledge."
He demanded, "What have you done about the beginning of knowledge (ra's al-'ilm) ?"
"What is the beginning of knowledge?" he inquired. Muhammad countered, "Do you know the Lord, the Most
"Yes", he said.
So Muhammad asked, "Then what have you done about His truth?"
He answered, "Whatever Allah wished."
Then Muhammad asked him, "Do you understand(the meaning of) death?"
"Yes", he replied.
Then Muhammad said, "Then what have you prepared for it?" He said, "Whatever Allah willed." So Muhammad commanded, "Go and do that well. Then come
and we shall teach you some of the wonders of knowledge." Rather the pupil should be of the sort (described) in
that which was related on the authority of H&tim (Ibn 'Alwan) 258 al-Asamm, a pupil of ShagIq (Ibn IbrahIm) al-Balkhl. Shaglq
said to him, "For how long have you been my friend?"
"For thirty-three years", replied Hatim.
"Then what have you learned from me during this time?" he inquired.
Uatim replied, "Eight questions (subjects of discussion)."
So Shaqlq exclaimed, "Verily, we belong to Allah and to Him are we returning. My life has gone with you and you have learned only eitht questions!"
He replied, "0 teacher, I have not learned anything but them, and I do not like to lie."
So he said, "Let's have these eight questions so that I might hear them."
IJAtim replied, "I considered this people and I saw that every one likes something dear to him and he is with his beloved object until the grave. Then, when he reaches the
grave, he is separated from it. So I have made good deeds my beloved object. So when I enter the grave, my beloved object will enter with me."
So he said, "You have done well, 0 Hatim. What is the second?"
He replied, "I considered Allah's saying, 'As for the one who fears the rank of his Lord and restrains his soul from its passions, verily the Garden is his abode' (79:4041), and I knew that His saying is right. So I caused my soul to ward off its lusts until I became firm in the obedience of Allah."
"The third is that I considered this people. Then I saw that everyone who has something of value elevates and guards it. Then I considered Allah's saying, 'What you have is temporary; what Allah has is eternal' (16:98). So Whatever I had of value I turned towards Allah so that it would remain preserved with Him."
"The fourth is that I considered'this people and I saw that everyone of them has recourse to wealth, noble descent,
honor, and lineage. So I considered it and behold (I found. that) it is nothing. Then I considered Allah's saying, "Verily those who are most worthy of honor among you are those who fear Allah most' (49:13). So I practiced piety in order to be honorable before Allah."
"The fifth is that I considered this people and they
are defaming and cursing one another, the root of which is envy. Then I considered Allah's saying, 'We have divided their livelihood among them in the life of the present world' (43:31). Then I forsook envy and shunned people, and I knew that it is Allah's province to allot (our livelihood). So I forsook enmity against people."
"Then I observed that some of this people oppress and fight with one another. So I had recourse to Allah's saying, 'Verily the Shaitan is your enemy. So take him as an enemy' (35:6). So I treated him alone with enmity and was diligent in shunning him because Allah testified that he is my enemy. So I forsook enmity towards all creatures but him."
"The seventh is that I considered this people and I saw that each one of them seeks this crumb (of bread: i.e. the present world) and that he demeans himself to obtain it, and he enters into things which are not lawful for him. So I considered Allah's saying, 'There is no creeping thing on earth who does not receive his sustenance from Allah' (11:8). And
I came to know that I am one of those creatures whose sustenance comes from Allah. So I engaged in that for which
I am responsible to Allah , and with Him I left what is mine."
"The eighth is that I considered this people, and I saw that they all put their trust on. something which is created: this one on his village, that one on his business, this one on his trade, that one on his bodily health; and every created being puts his trust on a created being like hima~tlf. Then I had recourse to Allah's saying, 'If anyone puts his trust in Allah, He will be his sufficiency' (65:3). So I put my trust in Allah, and He is my sufficiency."
Shagiq said, "0 HAtim, may Allah cause you to succeed. For I have considered the knowledge (contained in) the Tawr.h, the Injil, the Zubur, and the mighty (4ur'an; I found
None but the Other-Worldly divines concern themselves with knowing and understanding this branch of knowledge. As for the worldly divines, they engage in whatever makes it easier for them to gain wealth and prestige, while they neglect such as these sciences with which Allah sent all his
Al--Vahhrk Ibn Mazaham said, "I knew them (the Compan-
ions) and they only learned scrupulousness (al-war' from
one another, whereas today they only learn theology."
4. (A fourth sign of the other-worldly divines)ls that
one is not inclined to lead an easy life (in respect to)
luxury in food and drink, softness in clothing, and ornamented furnishings and dwellings; but he prefers moderation and Imitates the Fathers in all that and inclines to be satisfied with a little bit of all that. As much as his inclina
tion increases towards the side of paucity, his proximity to
Allah increases, and his grade among the learned of the next
What was narrated on the authority of Abi 'Abdullah al260
Khawwa#, one of H~,tim al-Apamm's friends, testifies to that. 261
He said, "I entered Rai with IJatim. With us were three hun
dred and twenty men, and we desired to make the pilgrimage. They were wearing woolen garments or hoods (al-zuranbanigAt) and had neither wallet nor food. Then we entered the place of a merchant who led a mortified life (mutagabhshif) and loved the poor. So he put us up that night. When it was morning, he asked Utim, "Do you need anything? For I should like to visit one of our jurisconeults who is sick."
Hatim replied, "There is excellence in visiting. the sick, - --------------------- - ----------
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and listening to a jurisconsult is (like) a worship service.
I,too, shall go with you."
The sick person happened to be Muhammad Ibn Mugatil, a
judge of Rai. When we came to the door, behold, there was
a well-lighted mansion. So Uatim remained puzzling and said, "(Can it be that) a door of this kind belongs to a learned person?"
Then, permission being granted, they entered; lo and behold! there was a wide, spacious, and healthy court; and lo: (beautiful) weapons and curtains. So Hatim continued to ponder. Then they entered the room where he was; and behold! there he was lying on a nice soft bed, while (standing) at his head was a youth with a fly-swatter in his hand. Then the visitor sat at the head of his bed and asked him about the state (of his health), while UAtim (remained) standing. So Ibn MuqAtil beckoned him to sit down, but he (HAtim) said, "I do not (care to) sit."
So he said, "Perhaps you need something." TIYes", replied Hatim.
"What is it?" he inquired.
Hatim stated, "There is something I should like to ask you about."
"Say on", he commanded.
Hatim said, "Arise and stand up straight so that I may
So he stood up straight and U&tim inquired, "From where did you get such knowledge as this?"
"From trustworthy (people) who told it to me," he replied.
"From whom?" asked Uatim.
"From the companions of the Messenger of Allah", he
So he asked, "And from whom did the companions of the Messenger of Allah (get it)?"
He replied, "From the Messenger of Allah."
"And from whom did the Messenger of Allah obtain it)?" asked HAtim.
He replied, "From Jibra'il (who got it) from Allah."
Uatim said, "In.that which Jibrail transmitted from
Allah to the Messenger of Allah and which the Messenger of
Allah transmitted to his companions and the companions to the trustworthy and the trustworthy to you, did you hear (this): 'The one in whose abode there is a prince and which
is greater in spaciousness has a greater dwelling with Allah?"
"No", he replied.
So he asked, "Then what did you hear?"
He replied, "I heard that one who is ascetic in the
# reading amir with SMZ
present world and yearns after the next abode and loves the poor and draws nigh to his next abode has a (greater) rank with Allah."
Hatim said to him, "Then (as for) you, whom do you imitate, the Prophet and his companions and the virtuous or
Pharaoh and Nimrudh, the first one to build with mortar and 264
baked brick? 0 (you) corrupt divines, an ignorant person
who contentiously rushes after and desires the present world sees your example and says, 'A learned person is in this condition. Am I any worse than he?'", and left the house; and Ibn Mugatil's illness increased.
What happened between him and Ibn Mu Atil reac2eed the people of Rai who said to him, "Al-Tanafisi in Qazwln is in greater comfort than he (Ibn Mugatil)."
So HAtim went to him on purpose, entered his house, and said, "Play the mercy of Allah be upon you. I am a foreigner who would like you to teach me the rudiments of my religion and the key to worship: how I should perform ablutions for the worship."
He responded, "With pleasure, at your service, 0 youth. Hand me a vessel oi' water."
So he brought it, and al-Tanafisi sat down and performed a triple ablution. Then he said, "This is the way to perform the ablution."
So HAtim said, "May I have your place so that I might perform the ablution before you and be more sure of what I want?"
So al-Tanafisl arose, and Hatim sat down and performed
the ablution. He washed his forearms four times, whereupon al-Tanafisl said, "0 So-and-so, you have exceeded the limit." "In what?" Hatim inquired.
"You have washed your forearms four times", he replied.
"Oh praise be to Allah, the Mighty!" exclaimed Hatim. "In this little handful of water have I exceeded the limit, while in all this have you not done so?"
Then al--Tanafisl knew that his purpose (was to reprimand), not to learn (something). So he entered his dwelling, and did not go out among people for forty days.
When HAtim entered Baghdad, the people of Baghdad gathered around him and said, "0 Father of 'Abd al-RahmAn, you are a foreigner who speaks Arabic barbarously, while(on the other hand) nobody speaks to you but what you silence him (with your learning)."
He said, "I have three characteristics by which I overcome my opponent: a) I rejoice when my opponent suciaeeds; b) I feel sorry when he fails; and c) I restrain myself in order not to attribute ignorance to him."
This got to the Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal who said, "May
Allah be praised! How Intelligent he is! Let us arise and go to him."
When they went in to see him, Ahmad inquired, "0 Father of 'Abd al-Rahman, what is safety from the present world?"
He replied, "0 Father of 'Abdullah (i.e. Ibn Hanbal), you are not safe from the present world until you have four qualities: a) to forgive people s ignorance, b.) to prevent your ignorance from (reaching or harming) them, c) to spend whatever you have for them, and d) not to expect anything of theirs. Then, if you are like that, you will be safe."
Then he went to al-Madinah, and the people of al-Madinah received him. Then he said, "0 citizens, which Madinah is this?"
They replied, "The city of the Prophet."
So he commanded, "Then (show me) where the Prophet's
palace is so that I may worship in it."
"He had no palace", they replied. "Verily he had a very
"Then where are the palaces of the Companions", he asked. They replied, "They had no castles; verily, they too had. very modest houses."
HAtim said to them, "0 friends, this then is the city of Pharaoh."
So they went and took him to the sultan and said, "This
foreigner says that this is the city of Pharaoh."
"Why is that?" inquired the governor.
He answered, "Do not be hasty with me. I am a foreigner, a stranger who entered the city, and I asked, 'Whose city is this?' They replied, 'The city of the Messenger of Allah'. Then I asked, 'Where is his castle?' And he related his story. Then he (Hatim) said, 'And Allah has said, 'In the Messenger of Allah you have had a good example' (33:21). So whom have you imitated: the Messenger of Allah or Pharaoh, the first one to build with mortar and baked brick?"
So they let him alone and left him, and this is the story of HAtim al-Asamm.
In its (proper) place something of the conduct of the Fathers (who lived) in threadbare clothes and forsook adornment will come which will testify to that (which we have mentioned). The truth of it is that adornment is permitted, not forbidden. But to go deeply into it establishes an inclination toward it so that it is difficult to leave it, and, usually it is only possible to continue adornment by practicing the means. It is necessary for those who care for it to commit such sins as dissimulation, hypocrisy, and others_ which are forbidden. It is prudent to avoid that, because
anyone who goes deeply into (the affairs of) the present world - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
# reading al hazm with SMZ instead of alarm
is not safe from it at all; and were safety obtained along with going deeply into it, Muhammad would not have gone to the extreme of forsaking the present world even to the point of removing his shirt embroidered with a sign, and to removing his gold ring during an oration, and other actions the
explanation of which will follow (in this book).
It is said that Yahya Bin Yazid al-Nawfali wrote to
Malik Bin Anas, "In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful, and may Allah bless His Messenger, Muhammad, and give him peace in the former and the latter (worlds); from Yahya Bin Yazid Bin 'Abd al-Malak to Malik Bin Anas, and to come to the point: It has come to my attention that you wear fine clothes, eat thin bread, and sit on a soft seat. You have put a doorkeeper at your door and you have sat in the seat of learning. You have drawn mounted (visitors) to you; people have come to you from (various places) and have taken you for deader (im:m) and were pleased with your speech. Then fear Allah, 0 Malik, and be humble. I have written
you this letter of advice which no one except Allah has read. Now may peace be with you."
the Compassionate, the Merciful. May Allah bless Muhammad - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
# reading with SMZ al-mutarraz bi '1-'alam insteaai of ## al-mutarrar yi l-'alam
his family, and his companions, and give them peace; from Malik Bin Ants to Yahya Bin Yazid. May the peace of Allah
be upon you. And now to continue, your letter has reached
me; and I am in accord with your advice, sympathy, and manners. May Allah grant you the enjoyment of piety and reward you with good for your advice, and I ask success-bringing aid from Allah. There is no strength and no power except with Allah, He who is exalted and mighty."
"As for what you mentioned to me (in your letter), I do eat thin bread and wear fine clothes and seclude myself(from people) and sit on a soft chair. We do that and seek Allah's forgiveness. Allah has said, 'Say, who hath prohibited Al
lah's goodly raiment, and the healthful viands which He has 268
provided for His servants' (7:30)? Really I know that it
is better to leave that than toenter into it. And do not
cut us off from your correspondence, and we shall not leave you out of ours. (Now may the ) peace(of Allah be upon you)."
Then notice the impartiality of Mlik, for he avowed
that it is better to forsake that than to enter into it, though he gave a legal opinion that it is permissible. Concerning both of them he spoke the truth. Then one like Malik whose soul. permits (him) to be fair and avow such advice is strong (enough) to stop at the borders of what is permissible so that (it) does not carry him to hypocrisy and dissimulation
and trespass to what is disliked. As for another person,
he would not be able to do so. It is a grave danger to in
cline towards delight in what is permissible, and it is remote from fear and reverence. Now a peculiarity of the godly divines ('ulama' allah) Is reverence, while a peculiarity of reverence is to be well away from places that are suspected of danger.
5. (A fifth sign of the other-worldly divines) is to seek to be remote from the Sultans and not to visit them at all as long as there is a way of escape from them, rather it is expedient for one to avoid mingling with them, even though they should come to (visit) him.
For in reality the present world is sweet and verdant
the reins of which are in the hands of the sultans. One who associates with them is not free from undertaking to seek their pleasure and to incline their hearts towards him, although they are unjust. Every religious person ought to disapprove of them and straiten their bosoms by making their injustice obvious and by showing the foulness of their deeds. One who visits them either shows regard for their luxury and despises the grace of Allah or he refrains from disapproving them. Then he becomes a dissimulator to them, or in his speech he pretends to please them and approve their condition. That is clear calumny. Or he longs to obtain some of their
worldly goods (dunyahim), which is unlawful.
In the book on what is lawful and what is unlawful there will follow something about what wealth one may accept from sultans and such positions, rewards, and other things which he may not accept. On the whole, mingling with them is the key to evils, while the way of the other-worldly divines is circumspection.
Muhammad said, "Anyone who lives a nomadic life is coarse: that is, anyone who lives in the desert is coarse, and anyone who follows hunting is neglectful, and anyone who comes to the sultan is seduced."
Muhammad said, "There will be princes over you some of whom you will know and disavow. One who disapproves (of such a prince) will be righteous; one who hates (him) will be saved; but may Allah curse one who is pleased (with) and follows (him)."
Somebody asked, "Shall we not fight them?"
"No, not as long as they (continue to) pray", he replied. Sufyan said, "In Jahannam there is a valley in which
only the Qur'anic readers who often visit kings reside." 269 "Beware of the places of seduction", said Ijadhifah.
Somebody asked, "What are they?"
"The doors of the princes", he answered. "One of you goes in to visit a Prince. Then he believes in his lying,
gle with sultans. When they do that, they
and he says something about him which is not so."
The Messenger of Allah said, "The learned are trustees of the messengers for the people, as long as they do not min
to the messengers. So avoid them and draw apart from them." Anas related this (about Muhammad).
Someone told al-A'rnash, "You have revived knowledge by the great number of those who have taken it from you."
He responded, "Do not be in a hurry (to form your opinion). One third die before apprehending; another third cleave to the doors of sultans, and they (who do this) are the worst (kind) of people; and he remaining third, only a few succeed."
On account of that Sa'id Bin Musaiyab said, "When you see a learned person visiting a prince, avoid him; for he is a thief."
('Abd al-Ra4man Din 'Umru) al-Auza'i said, "There is nothing more detestable to Allah than a learned person who visits an official (of the king)."
"The worst learned persons are those who come to Princes", said the Messenger of Allah; "and the best princes are those who come to the learned."
Makhul the Damascene said, "Whoever learns the Qur'an and becomes skilled in religion and then becomes friendly to
the sultan in order to flatter him and for the sake of greed for what he has, descends to a depth in the sea of fire of
Jahannam equal to the number of his steps."
And Samnun said, "What is more hideous than a learned
person to whose session one comes and, not finding him, asks for him; and someone says, 'He is at the prince's (house).'"
He said, "I used to hear it said, 'If you see a learned person who likes the present world, consider him to be against your religion', until I tried that. For I never went to visit the sultan but what I examined museif after coming
out. And I see some result in it. You see how roughly and
uncivilXy I treated him and how strongly I opposed his passions. All I desired was to be saved from going to visit him with neither loss nor gain, although I neither accept anything nor do I drink water (at his house)."