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Wisdom - Alerting The Self Deceived

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Murabit View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21 July 2007 at 4:23pm

The sayings gathered here, entitled Wisdom, are extracted from, Alerting The Self Deceived, a book written by the great Islamic scholar and mystic, Abdul Wahhab ash-Sha’rani, d. 973 AH/ 1565 AD. In this book Ash-Sha’rani gathers the aphorisms of the early pious scholars of the Islamic tradition as part of an effort to demonstrate to his contemporaries the lofty religious and human character of their spiritual ancestors. In writing this book, Ash-Sha’rani hoped to encourage the sincere seekers of spiritual excellence to redouble their efforts by reflecting on the way of their righteous predecessors, just as he intended to expose as fraudulent those who claimed to be spiritual guides, but were themselves far removed from the path trod by the luminaries whose words he highlights in the book.

By making these sayings available to the English-speaking public, we intend to encourage the Muslim to reflect on the great spiritual legacy bequeathed to us by our righteous forebears, and to begin to live that legacy, while simultaneously encouraging the non-Muslim to look beyond the propagandistic rhetoric that presents Islam as an empty purveyor of irrational violence. These sayings should help all to understand that Islam is a great world religion that has left a deep and indelible, beautifying mark on human history.

- Imam Zaid Shakir

Part One: Sincerity in Religious Acts.

1. Wahb b. Munabbih would say: “Whoever seeks worldly advancement through his religious acts, God will invert his heart and record him amongst the people destined for Hell.”

2. Al-Hasan al-Basri relates that Jesus, Peace upon Him, said: “Whoever endeavors to implements his religious knowledge is a true friend of God.”

3. Sufyan b. Tahwri used to say: “My mother advised me: ‘My son! Only seek religious knowledge if you intend to implement it. Otherwise, it will be a source of torment for you on the Day of Resurrection.’ ”

4. Dhun-Nun al-Misri was asked: “When does the servant know that he is sincere in religion?” He replied: “When he asserts himself to the fullest in worship while desiring to gain no esteem with the people because of that.”

5. Muhammad b. al-Munkadir used to say: “I love to see the brothers being at their very best during the night [in humble devotion] for surely that is nobler than being at ones very best during the day. The reason for this is that during the day one is seen by people while during the night one is seen by the Lord of the Worlds.”

6. It was once asked of Yunus b. Ubayd: “Have you seen anyone worship like Hasan al-Basri?” He replied: “I have not seen anyone speak as he spoke, so how could I see anyone worship as he did? His sermons would cause hearts to weep; the sermons of others do not even move eyes to tears.”

7. Yahya b. Mu’adh was asked: “When will a servant be considered sincere?” He answered: “When his character becomes like that of a suckling babe. It does not care if it is praised or condemned.”

8. Fudail b. ‘Iyad used to say: “As long as a person consciously seeks acceptability from people, he will not be safe from insincerity in his religion.”

9. Abu Iyas al-Antaki was known to say: “Whoever strives for sincerity in his outward actions, while his heart is concerned about what people think of him, is seeking the impossible. This is so because sincerity is the life-giving water of the heart and dissimulation kills it.”

10. Yusuf b. Asbat used to say: “I have never sincerely reviewed my religious actions except that I found myself guilty of dissimulation.”

11. Al-Hasan al-Basri used to say: “Whoever rebukes himself in the presence of others has in fact engaged in an act of praise.”

12. Ibn Sammak used to say: “If one guilty of dissimulation in his religious knowledge and actions were to inform people of his true motivations they would hate him and consider him a fool.”

13. Ibrahim b. Adham would say: “Do not ask your brother about his fast. For were he to say, ‘I am fasting,’ his soul would be pleased with that. On the other hand, were he to say, ‘I am not fasting,’ his soul would be saddened by that. Each response is an indication of dissimulation. That is a source of disgrace for the questioned and a means whereby the questioner can know his brother’s concealed imperfections.”

14. ‘Abdullah b. al-Mubarak used to say: “A man will be circumambulating the Ka’ba while dissimulating before the people of Khurasan.” It was said: “How could that be?” He rejoined: “He is pleased if the people back in Khurasan are saying, ‘So and so is in Mecca right now circumambulating the Ka’ba or pacing between Safa and Marwa. Cheers to him!’ ”

15. Fudail b. ‘Iyad would say: “We encountered people who would dissimulate in their religious acts. Now they dissimulate with actions they have not even performed.”

16. Abu Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani used to say: “Among the forms of dissimulation with actions you have not performed is exalting yourself over others by mentioning the insightful speech and expressions of religious scholars. That which you are using to exalt yourself with is not the fruit of your effort, nor from your intellectual derivation.”

17. Ibrahim b. Adham used to say: “One who loves for people to speak good of him, [while unconcerned about how he stands with God], has attained neither true God Consciousness nor sincerity in religion.”

18. Ikrima was known to have said: “Constantly try to have a sincere intention, because dissimulation does not substitute for a good intention in religious acts.”

19. Al-Hasan al-Basri used to say: “People enter Heaven and Hell based on their actions. However, their perpetuity in either of those two abodes is based on their intentions.” Note: Actions are a necessary condition for entering Paradise. However, they are not sufficient. Ultimately, anyone’s entrance into Paradise will only occur due to the mercy of God.

20. Abu Dawud al-Tayyalisi used to say: “It is incumbent upon a scholar when he edits his compilation that he intends to assist the Religion, and not to be praised by his contemporaries for excellent writing.”

21. It is related that every act God accepts is great even if it is small, and every act He rejects is small even if it is great.

22. Fudail b. ‘Iyyad used to say: “If the truthful prophets such as Ishmael and Jesus, peace upon them, were asked about their truthfulness, how about liars like us?”
"I am a slave. I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits.", Beloved, sallallahu alyhi wa-sallam.
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