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Life Lessons


'My love is for those who love one another for My sake'

Abu Idris al-Khawalani says:

When I visited the mosque in Damascus, I saw a young man with sparkling white teeth around whom people were gathered. I saw the people referring various issues to him and accepting his advice. Upon inquiring who he was I was told, it was Mu'adh b. Jabal (the Prophet's companion).

On the following day, I went to the mosque early, and I saw he had arrived before me. And he was praying; I waited for him; whence I went up to him and said, "I love you for the sake of Allah." On hearing my words, he turned towards me and asked, "for the sake of Allah?" I said, 'Yes"; again, he asked, 'for the sake of Allah?' once again, he asked, "for the sake of Allah?" I said yes. Then he grabbed my shoulders and said, "Receive the glad tidings, for I heard the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace) say, "Alah, the Most Exalted and Glorious, says, "My love is established for those who love one another for My sake; those who come together for My sake; those who spend on each other for My sake, and those who pay visits to each other for My sake!"

(Ibn Abd al-Barr in his al-tamhid)



Eight Thoughts for Daily Meditation

 Zayn al-Abideen, the great-grandson of the Prophet (peace be upon him), once said: Eight thoughts doggedly pursue me wherever I go:

 1. That Allah demands that I fulfill His rights upon me.

2. That the Prophet wants me to follow his Sunnah.

3. That my family relies on me to provide for them.

4. That my carnal soul wishes for me to cater to its needs

5. That Satan is always whispering to me.

6. That the two scribes, who are ever present with me, are diligently recording my every move.

7. That the angel of death is waiting around the corner ready to seize my soul.

8. That the ground is ever-ready to receive my body.


Allah's power irresistible

Alp Arsalan (1026-1072), the famous Saljuk Sultan and the hero of the battle of Mazikert, was reputed for his piety, courage, and great character.  At the peak of his fame and power, he was stabbed unexpectedly by a soldier he had captured. Seeing death as inevitable, he is reported to have said: 

 In every purpose I set out to achieve, and every army I wished to defeat, I did first place my trust in Allah and beg for His help - except at this one time in my life. For I was looking at myself from above. Surveying my massive army, I said to myself, 'Who can defeat me, and who can resist my power? If I want, I can march to the farthest point of China without meeting any resistance!' This is when death came from this hidden corner. Allah brought me down using this, His weakest of creatures! So I repent and ask forgiveness of Allah for my vanity and urge everyone in a position of power and prestige to recognize Allah's mercy and favour. For, everything they possess is only out of Allah's sheer grace and benevolence!



Imam Ghazali on the effects of dhikr

The reality of dhikr (remembrance of God) will not take root in the heart until it has been enlivened by the fear/ consciousness of God, and until it has been cleansed off the base traits of character. Otherwise, dhikr will remain as mere idle self-talk without power to exert any influence on the heart; hence incapable of repelling the assaults of Satan. This is not different from the case of a man praying to God, but feels that his prayers are not heard by God, since he has failed to fulfill the condition of prayer; likewise, one may make dhikr and yet he finds Satan is still not fleeing from his heart as he has not fulfilled the conditions of dhikr.



Ibn Taymiyya on Muslim unity

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The Muslim is the brother the Muslim."...How then can then it be permitted to the community of Muhammad to divide itself into such diverse factions that a man can join one group and hate another one simply on the basis of presumptions or personal opinions, without any proof coming from God?...Unity is a sign of divine mercy; disunity is a punishment of God.



'I do not break a covenant, nor do I imprison envoys'


Abu Rafi said:

Subsquent to the pact of Hudaybiahy the Prophet had signed with the Quraysh, I was sent on a mission to meet with Muhammad. When I saw him, Islam immediately entered my heart and I said, "O Messenger of God, I swear by God that I shall never go back to them!" But the Prophet said, "Indeed,I do not break a covenant nor do I imprison envoys! Go back for a while, and then later, if you find in your soul what you find in it now, then return to me." So I left for Makkah and, then returned to the Prophet and entered Islam. (Reported by Imam Abu Dawood).



On the pursuit of knowledge

Muadh b. Jabal, one of the Prophet's companions reputed for his knowledge, said:

 Seek knowledge for its acquisition leads to fear of God, its pursuit is worship, its discussion is glorification of God, the search for it is jihad, its propagation is charity and its teaching an act of devotion. It provides consolation in loneliness, friendship in solitude, it's the index of right and wrong, fidelity through thick and thin....and the lighthouse of paradise. It is knowledge that exalts people, making them role models for humanity; with people looking up to those with knowledge for guidance.



Salman al-Farisi Governor or Porter

Salman al-Farisi, a prominent companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) of Persian origin, was a sage, often referred to as Luqman of Islam. He served as a governor of the province of Madaain  in Persia, and yet he was hardly indistinguishable from ordinary people in his appearance and the way he carried himself.

Once, a visitor to the city, overburdened with a heavy load of dates and figs, eager to hire a porter, spotted the well-built Salman. Beckoning him over, he placed the load on Salman's back and both made the trek to the city.

Upon approaching the city, Salman's people, surprised to see their governor in this way, rushed forward to take the load from him and many offered to carry it. The visitor shocked that he had mistaken the governor for a porter apologized and tried to take back the load. Salman, however, refused and insisted that he carry the load to the visitor's lodge, where he then deposited it for him.



On imperfection of human works

Imad al-Dddin al-Isfahani (d. 598/1201) said: I have yet to complete a book and to re-open it the next day without finding I might have included this, or deleted that, or considered a different thought, or I might have polished my words, or modified some others or transposed yet others. In short, a human being's work, his thinking, his revisions and changes are never perfect or complete. Such is the unwavering fact about the nature of humankind.



A person of paradise

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once stood up among his companions to address them. "Who among you is fasting today?" he asked those assembled before him. Abu Bakr indicated that he was. "Who among you has attended a funeral today?" continued the Prophet. Again, Abu Bakr indicated that he had. "And who among you has fed a poor person today?" asked the Prophet. Again it was Abu Bakr. Finally, the Prophet asked, "Who among you has visited a sick person today?" For the fourth time, Abu Bakr indicated that he had. To this the Prophet exclaimed, "None but a person of Paradise could have attained all these virtues in a single day!"


Allah saves His righteous servants

Four eminent scholars, all bearing the first name of Muhammad*, once journeyed together to Egypt. While there, their provisions ran out, and they found themselves on the verge of starvation. Concluding that they would need to beg to survive, they decided to draw lots to pick one among them for the task. The lot came in favor of Muhammad b. Khuzaymah (known as ibn Khyzyaman, the scholar of hadith). Ibn Khyzyaman bade the others to wait until he had performed wudhu and prayed two rak'ahs. He was deep into prayer when they suddenly heard a knock at the door.  Upon opening it, they saw a man with a lantern in his hands. The man proceeded to call out the names of each of the four Muhammads, one after the other  and handed out to each a purse containing fifty dinars. Then he said, "The governor of Egypt was having his siesta when he saw a vision that the four Muhammads were starving. Upon waking up, he dispatched me to you with these purses, and has instructed that you should inform him when the amount runs out!"

* They were: Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Nasr al-Marwazi, and Ibn Harun al-Ruwiyyani.


Zayd al-Khayr and the Prophet

Included among one of the many delegations that arrived in Madinah to declare allegiance to the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a man known as Zayd al-Khayl (the horseman). He was a tall, handsome man with an attractive manner. No sooner did he behold the face of the Prophet, did he stand up declaring:  O Muhammad, I bear witness, there is no god but Allah, and that you are indeed God's Messenger.

Hearing his words, the Prophet turned to him and asked, 'Who are you?' To this, Zayd replied, 'I am Zayd al-Khayl b. Muhalahal.' 'No,' stated the Prophet, 'you are Zayd al-Khayr (the possessor of good), not Zayd al-Khayl( the horseman). Praise be to Allah, who brought you from such a far distance, traversing mountains and valleys, and softened your heart towards Islam!' From that day on Zayd became known as Zayd al-Khayr.

Later on, it became apparent that Zayd, lover of good, good people and opportunity to do good was just as the Prophet had named him when they first met. For according to the Prophet himself, 'Never did a description fit someone so perfectly!'



Ibn 'Aqil (d.1119 C.E.) on his zest for knowledge

Allah saved me from sins in my youth and put in my heart true love of knowledge so that I never cared for plays or games, and I only interacted with lovers of knowledge like myself. Now, that I am eighty years old, I find that my zest for knowledge is stronger than when I was twenty. In spite of my old age, I don't experience any diminution in my intuition, thought, or memory, and I am no less able to investigate the hidden proofs and evidence, although my physical stamina has waned....Yet, it is not lawful for me to waste a single moment of my life. If my tongue is not busy with study or debate, and my eyes are not engaged in reading, I exercise my mind while I am resting or lying down that when I rise, I rush to write down a thought that had dawned upon me. Yes, I find my zeal for knowledge, now that I am eighty, is more vigorous than when I was twenty.



Mustafa al-Siba'ee's reflections on the effects of our preoccupations

A heart occupied with the cares of this world will not experience the sweetness of solitude with Allah. One who is occupied with the frivolous will not enjoy the beauty  of the Word of Allah. He who is consumed with the thought of power will not enjoy humility before Allah. A heart filled with love of wealth will not cherish the love of giving for the sake of Allah. A heart filled with lustful thoughts will not learn wisdom from Allah.... He who is preoccupied with vain wishes and dreams will not yearn for the bliss of paradise.



'The Woman whose Complaint was Heard by Allah from above the Seven Heavens '

'Umar b. al-Khattab, the second caliph, set out from the mosque with his companion al-Jarud on one of his daily scouts to observe the condition of the people. On his way, when he met an elderly lady, he stopped by to greet her; she returned his greeting and then addressed him: "Listen 'Umar! I used to know you when you were called 'Umayr (little Umar) engaging boys in wrestling in the 'Ukkaz fare. Days went by, and you were called 'Umar. Time passed, again, now you are addressed as the Commander of the Faithful. So fear Allah in regard to your subjects. Whosoever fears death will be eager to catch up with the good deeds he has missed." On hearing her words of admonition, 'Umar sobbed. Then al-Jarud told her in astonishment: you went overboard in admonishing the Commander of the Faithful until you made him weep!' 'Umar stopped him saying, 'leave her! Do you know who is she? She is Khawla bint Hakim, whose complaint was heard by Allah from above the seven heavens!* I should be more worthy of hearing her discourse!!'


* This is a reference to the Qur'an: (58: 1): ''Allah has indeed heard the words of her who pleads with thee concerning her husband, and complains unto Allah. And Allah does hear what you both have to say: verily, Allah is all-hearing, all-seeing."


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