“… Because forgiveness is the nature of the free.”

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

[Rawdhat al-'Uqala' post 11]

It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever apologises to his brother and he does not accept it, will bear a burden of sin like that on the tax-collector.” [Ibn Majah (3718), Mu’jam al-Tabarani (2/276) – Abu Hatim mentions that if Ibn Jurayj (one of the narrators) really heard this report from al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdur-Rahman, then it is Hasan Gharib, but he fears that it may not be the case]

Abu Hatim: “The intelligent one must accept the excuse of his brother when he comes to him apologising for a past error, or shortcoming, and he should make him like one who has not erred (or sinned) because I fear for the one who is approached (for forgiveness) and does not accept it, that he will not drink from the Pond of al-Mustafa (the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). And whoever falls short for whatever reason must apologise to his brother for his shortcoming.”

Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah al-Zanji al-Baghdadi recited,

“If one day a friend comes to you apologising
For a shortcoming like a true friend does
Then turn your aversion away and forgive him
For forgiveness is the nature of the free”

Abu Hatim: “A person should not apologise to someone by using means (or ploys) if that particular person does not wish to forgive him, and he should not over-apologise to his brother. This is because over-apologising leads to that person being accused (or suspected), and I prefer to minimize my apology in general because I know that apologies are mostly mixed with lies. Seldom have I seen someone apologise except that his apology was mixed with lies. But whoever acknowledges his error deserves to be forgiven because the humility of apologising mandates that the fiery emotion be tranquilized. Whoever is true in his apology will be humble in his words and humble in his actions.

‘Abdullah ibn Khubayq said, “It is said, ‘Yield to the one who coddles and spoils you, and accept the one who apologises to you.’”

Abu Qilabah: “If there reaches you news about your brother which you dislike, then seek out an excuse for him. If you cannot find an excuse, then say that perhaps he has an excuse which I do not know of.

Ibn ‘A’ishah said, “Sulayman ibn ‘Abd al-Malik once became angry at Khalid ibn Abdillah. So when he (Khalid) went to him, he said, “O leader of the faithful, having power does away with cruelty, and you are nobler than to punish. If you forgive, then you are worthy of that. And if you punish, then I deserve it.” So he forgave him.

Abu Hatim: “A person should not openly punish someone who did not make their sin public. The one who seeks to apologise will undoubtedly be one of two types: Either he will be sincere (truthful) in his apology, or he will be insincere (lying). If he is sincere, then he deserves to be forgiven because the worst of people is the one who does not pick up a person after their fall (or who does not lessen the fall of others) and does not conceal their errors. And if he is insincere, then it’s mandatory on a person once they see the insincerity and doubt behind the apology, as well as the humility and lowliness (that a person has gone to with the apology), that they should not punish for the past sin. Rather, he should thank such a person for the current goodwill which he has come with in his apology, and a person should not be censured for humbling and making himself low when he apologises to his brother.

Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Wasiti recited,

“I sinned and repented, just as,
Adam sinned and repented to his Lord.
So say the word of Yusuf, ‘No blame is there
Upon you; the Merciful Forgiver has forgiven.”

Abu Hatim: “An apology removes grief, clears away sadness, pushes back hatred and does away with aversion. Lack of apologies will cause great crimes to be committed and many sins will result (but on the other hand), apologising too much leads one to be accused and thought badly of. If there was to be no praiseworthy quality in the person who apologises to his brother other than humility and removal of ‘ujb (self-amazement), then it would’ve been befitting/mandatory for the wise one to apologise for every slip he makes.

Ibn al-Sammak said to Muhammad ibn Sulayman (or Hammad ibn Musa to his writer) when he saw some aversion from him, “Why is it that I see you avoiding me?” He said, “Some news reached me about you which I disliked.” He said, “Then I don’t mind.” He said, “Why not?” He said, “Because if it is a sin, I know you will forgive, and if it is untrue, I know you will not accept it.” It’s said that he then resumed his friendship.

- Rawdhat al-’Uqala’

Even the discarded ‘oud brings benefit…

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

[Rawdhat al-'Uqala' post 10]

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Charity does not diminish wealth, and Allah does not increase in forgiveness for a slave except that He also increases him in honour, and no-one humbles himself to Allah except that Allah raises him.” [Muslim (2588)]

Abu Hatim: Humbleness/humility is of two types; one of them is praiseworthy and the other is blameworthy. The praiseworthy humility is abandoning al-tatawul (making oneself superior) over the slaves of Allah and looking down upon them, and the blameworthy humility is humbling oneself for a person who possesses materialistic worldly gains out of desire for this world. The intelligent one abandons the blameworthy humility at all times, but he never abandons the praiseworthy humility at any point.

‘Ubayd’Allah ibn ‘Adi reported that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “If a man humbles himself to Allah, then Allah will raise him and say to him, ‘Rise up, may Allah raise you!’ because he sees himself to be insignificant whilst he is great in the eyes of people. But if a slave is arrogant and transgresses, then Allah casts him away saying, ‘Be lowly, may Allah lower you!’ because he sees himself to be great whilst he is insignificant in the eyes of people.’”

Abu Hatim: Humbleness raises the worth of a person, enhances his value and increases his nobility. Humility for Allah falls into two categories:

1 – The humbleness of a slave as he approaches an act of obedience, without any self-amazement in his deed and without showing off to anybody; a state which brings about the closeness of Allah to a slave, except that it is Allah `azza wa jall Who has bestowed this upon him first. And (the lack of) this humility is the reason that the pretentious self-righteous soul is turned away from acts of obedience.

2 – The humbleness/humility of a slave in lowering and belittling himself when he is mentioned, without falling into sin, until there is no-one in the world except that he sees himself less than them in obedience or more than them in sin.

Ibn Jurayj reported from Mujahid regarding the verse, “… and they were to Us ‘khashi’een (humbly submissive).” [al-Anbiya’: 90] He said, “This means they observed humility.”

Al-Asma’i said, “I heard Yahya ibn Khalid al-Barmaki say, “When the respectful honourable man devotes himself to religion, he becomes humble. But when the despicable evil one does so, he becomes arrogant.””

Abu Hatim: Let no-one prevent humility, for indeed humility earns one peace and brings about strong bonds, it does away with hatred and removes rejection, and the fruit of humility is love just as the fruit of contentment is ease and relaxation. Certainly, the humbleness of a noble person only increases his nobility whilst the arrogance of a lowly one only increases his lowliness. And how can a person not be humble when he has been made from scattered drops of sperm, and his end will be a corpse casted away and between the two stages he carries waste!

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah said, “If it was said ‘bring out the best of this city’, there would come out people that were unknown.”

Al-Kirizi (a poet) said:

‘And do not walk upon the earth except in humbleness,
For how many people underneath it are more exalted than you!
If you are in glory, goodness and strength,
Then how many have died that were more stronger than you.’

Ja’far ibn Muhammad said, “Husayn ibn ‘Ali performed Hajj ten times walking, whilst his sturdy camel was being led beside him.”

Abu Hatim: “The best of people is the one who is humble despite being of high rank, who is ascetic despite having the capabilities and who is just despite having power. A person only begins to abandon humbleness when arrogance has started to take root, for a person is never arrogant towards another except that he is someone who’s become pleased and amazed at his own self. I have never seen anybody prove arrogant over others except that Allah has punished him by subjecting him to humiliation under those who are above him.”

If the intelligent one sees someone who is older than him, he humbles himself for him and says, “He has preceded me in Islam.” And if he sees someone who is younger than him, he says, “I have preceded him in sin.” And if he sees someone who is his contemporary, he counts him as his brother so how can a person be arrogant over his brother? None should belittle another, for even the discarded ‘oud (bark) can benefit when a man picks it up and uses it to scratch his ear.

Mujahid reports that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “If a mountain were to transgress over another mountain, Allah will surely demolish to ruins the transgressing one among the two.”

Al-Khattab’s Great Advice to His Son

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Al-Khattab ibn al-Mu`alla’ al-Makhzumi (rahimahullah) advises his son so beautifully and wisely.

(This was a lengthy piece of advice, but I’ve only translated parts which I hoped will benefit everyone in general.)

“… O my son, be conscious of Allah and be in his obedience. Stay away from His prohibitions by following the Sunnah and the milestones (on this path) until your faults are rectified and coolness is brought to your eyes. Truly, nothing is hidden to Allah.

I have written down some characteristics for you and I have drawn up a plan for you. If you memorise it, understand it and follow it, you will fill the eyes of kings, be followed by the poor and destitute, and you will always be hoped for; a superior who will always be needed and people shall desire what lies with you….

‘Obey your father, restrict your advice to him, open your heart to him and pay close attention to this. Beware of excessive speech, beware of laughing and joking too much, and beware of belittling your friends, because that does away with beauty and instead creates rancour and enmity. Always be dignified and composed but let not arrogance be described of you nor let haughtiness and pride be related from you. Meet both your friend and enemy with a face of goodness & pleasure and prevent harm without humiliating yourself for them or standing in awe of them.

Be moderate in all your affairs, for truly the best of affairs lies in their moderation. Lessen your speech, spread the greeting of peace, walk with strength and purpose and do not drag your feet or tug on your clothes… Do not look here and there, turning about too much and do not stop by the groups of people that gather. Do not make the market the place of your hang out, nor take the shops as a place to sit and talk. Don’t always argue, and do not debate with the foolish ones; if you speak, be concise, and if you joke then limit your jokes…

Let your sitting be one of calmness, and let your speech be divided (i.e. let others speak too). Attribute the goodly words to those who said them to you without displaying amazement, and do not always ask for questions to be repeated… Don’t speak too much about your admiration for your children, your maid, your horse or your sword, and beware of relaying your dreams because if you are amazed by them, the foolish will display desire towards that and they will make up dreams for you and then discredit your intelligence…

Do not teach your family –and those other than them even more so- how to count your money, for if they see you possessing little, you will become lowly to them, and if they see you possessing much, you will not be able to satisfy or please them…

If you fall into argument, then have respect and do not show ignorance. Steer clear from haste and think about your proofs and points of argument… If someone proves ignorant towards you, then forebear it, and only speak when your anger resides… Protect your honour and cast away excessiveness from yourself. If the ruler draws you close, then beware of him, and if he shows delight at your presence, then do not feel safe from him suddenly changing towards you.

If you promise, fulfil your promise and if you speak, speak only the truth. Choose the best of words when you do speak and if you narrate something you heard, then attribute those words to their speaker… Truthfulness is a beauty and lies are a disgrace; a truth which brings about the downfall of a person has better outcomes than a lie which saves him. Imitate the people of virtue and understanding; and you shall soon be amongst them.

Know that every person is only where they place themselves , and every worker will have their work attributed to them. A man is known by his close companions; so beware of evil brethren because they betray those who accompany them and grieve the one who befriends them… Brethren are of two types: the one who preserves you at the time of calamities, and the one who befriends you at the time of ease and goodness. So preserve the friend who was there during the difficulties and abandon the one who’s there only in times of ease for they are the worst of enemies…

And whoever follows his desires, they shall cast him to his destruction. Do not be surprised by short-tempered men and do not belittle those of thin physique for a person’s essence only lies in two components: his heart and his tongue…

Protect yourself from corruption, even if you are in the lands of the enemy. Do not spread down your honour to one who is beneath you, and do not allow your wealth to mean more to you than your honour. Do not increase your speech such that you become burdensome to the people. Smile at those who sit with you and accept the one who comes to meet you…

O my son, the wife of a man is his means of serenity, and there is no life worthwhile by contradicting her. So if you wish to marry a woman, then ask about her family, for it is the goodly roots that bear the sweetest fruits. And know that women are extremely different to one another just like the fingers on a hand are different to each other…’”

Then he proceeds to describe the different types of women which I will NOT translate! Lol, it was actually hilarious reading it. :)

He (rahimahullah) then ends his advice by saying:

“… O my son, may Allah make you from those who follow the guidance, who achieve piety, who steer clear from the wrath of Allah and love His Pleasure. I place you in the care of Allah after I’m gone, and He is in charge of your affairs. There is no strength or power except in Allah the Most High and Great, and may Allah send His peace and blessings upon the Prophet of Guidance, and upon his family.”

[Rawdhat al-'Uqala' by Ibn Hibban]

I just love reading the golden words of advice from our pious predecessors! May Allah benefit us with their words and bless us to follow their guidance, ameen.

EDIT: Due to public demand ( :) ) I’ve ended up translating the part on the different types of women to marry:

… O my son, the wife of a man is his means of serenity, and there is no life worthwhile by contradicting her. So if you wish to marry a woman, then ask about her family, for it is the goodly roots that bear the sweetest fruits. And know that women are extremely different to one another just like the fingers on a hand are different to each other, so guard yourself against every foul-mouthed one who has the tendency to cause harm.

From amongst them (women) is she who is most impressed with herself and who belittles her husband. If he honours her, she sees it to be due to her virtue over him. She does not thank for the (abundant) good, nor is she content with the little she receives from him. Her tongue against him is like a polished sword; and this has lifted the covering of shyness from her face. She is not ashamed of her faults, nor is she shy of her neighbours. She’s like a growling dog (ouch!), quarrelsome, biting and voracious. So the face of her husband becomes wounded and his honour abused. She does not preserve him neither in Deen (religion) nor in Dunya (worldly matters), and she does not care for his companionship nor does she increase him in offspring. His ‘hijab’ (covering) has been torn down by her, his ‘sitr’ (veil) has been widely spread out (i.e. his secrets and private affairs revealed), and all his goodness has been buried (forgotten). He wakes up depressed and spends the evening rebuking/scolding. His drink is bitter, his food in anger, and his children astray. His house is in ruins, his clothes dirty, and his hair messy. If he laughs, it’s without spirit, and if he talks, it’s out of coercion. His days are like night and his nights are full of woe. She has bitten him like a ravenous snake and stung him like a scorpion.

And from amongst them is the lazy, tipsy, obscene woman who rages, threatens, devises and has a quagmire of poison with her. She goes with the wind and flies with every bird. If her husband says ‘No’ she says ‘Yes’ and if he says ‘Yes’ she says ‘No.’ She brings shame to him and belittles all that’s in his hands. She puts forward parables for him and puts him down/lowers him beneath other men. She takes him from one state to another until his house fills with hate, his children bored and his livelihood scarce without blessing. He becomes lowly to his own self, until his friends reject him and his neighbours feel sorry for him.

And from amongst them is the foolish unwise woman, who places things in the wrong place, slurs her speech and takes what does not belong to her. She’s content and relies on his love, is pleased with his earnings but she consumes like a grazing donkey. Her radiance is seen but her voice is not heard, her house is not swept, her food is stale and her cooking pots are marked with residue! Her dough is sour, her water not cool, her goods cultivated, her utensils out of reach, her servant is often beaten and her neighbours deprived.

Then from amongst them (i.e. the one to look for) is the compassionate, tender, loving woman, who is blessed, affectionate and trustworthy when absent. She is beloved by her neighbours and is praiseworthy both inwardly and outwardly. A generous wife, full of virtue & morals and is not one to raise her voice. Her house is clean, her servant well-fed and her children look good. Her goodness is long-lasting and her husband joyful. She is dearly loved, familiar and harmonious. Modesty, integrity, and goodness is often attributed to her…”

Haya’: Shyness

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Rawdhatul-’Uqalaa’ [post 9]

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “… If you do not have shyness, then do as you please.” [al-Bukhari]

Abu Hatim: It only befits the wise one to have haya’ (shyness) because it is the foundation of intellect and the seed of goodness, and abandoning it is the foundation of ignorance and the seed of evil. Haya’ signifies intelligence just like the lack of it signifies ignorance.

Abu al-Ahwas narrates from ‘Abdillah that he said: “The most painful (worst) trait in a believer is al-fahsh (shamelessness, obscenity etc).”

Abu Hatim: Al-Haya’ (shyness) is a name which gathers the meaning of ‘keeping away from disliked characteristics/mannerisms’. And haya’ is of two types:

• Haya’ which the servant has of Allah jalla wa ‘ala, concerning matters which He has cautioned against.
• Haya’ of the creation in not delving into matters which they dislike of speech and deeds.

Both types of haya’ are praiseworthy but one of them is fardh (compulsory) whilst the other is fadhl (virtuous). Adhering to haya’ by keeping away from what Allah has prohibited is fardh and adhering to haya’ by keeping away from what the people dislike is fadhl.

Muhammad ibn Khalaf al-Taymi said, ‘A man from Khuza’ah recited to me (the poem):

If you do not fear the outcome of nights
And you are not shy, then do as you please
By Allah, there is no good in life
And no good in the world if haya’ is absent
A person lives in goodness so long as he is bashful
For the ‘oud fragrance remains so long as its bark remains

Al-Zuhri narrates that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (radhiallahu ‘anhu) said in his khutbah one day: “O People! Be shy of Allah, for I swear by Allah, since I gave my pledge to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), I have not gone out to the bathroom except with my head lowered out of shyness to Allah.”

The poet said it best when he said:

Perhaps there’s some evil act
And nothing prevents me from it except my haya’
So it becomes a cure against it
But if there is no haya’, then there is no cure

Zayd ibn Thabit (radhiallahu `anhu): “Whoever does not have haya’ (shyness) from the people, cannot have haya’ (shyness) from Allah.”

Abu Hatim: If a person’s haya’ is strengthened, his honour becomes fortified, his bad deeds become buried and his goodness becomes widespread. But when a person’s haya’ goes away, his very happiness goes away. And if his happiness leaves him, he becomes belittled in front of the people and is detested. And whoever is detested, is harmed (by people), and whoever is harmed becomes afflicted by sadness, and whoever is saddened, loses his mind and intellect, and whoever is afflicted in his mind and intellect, then most of what he says goes against him and is not for him. There is no therapy for the one without haya’ and there is no haya’ for the one who does not have wafa’ (fulfilment of word), and there is no wafa’ for the one who does not enjoin brotherhood (and keep friends). Whoever has little (or no) haya’, then he ends up doing whatever he wants and saying whatever he likes.

Envy – Destroy it before it destroys you

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Rawdhatul-’Uqala [post 8]

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not hate one another, do not envy one another and do not turn your backs on one other. But O’ slaves of Allah, be brothers!”

Abu Hatim: The intelligent one must avoid envy in every circumstance, for indeed the least of jealousy is being displeased with the Decree and wishing for the opposite of what Allah the Most High has decreed for His slaves, and thereafter the heart being wrapped in wanting to see the blessing removed from the Muslim. The soul of the envier never finds rest and his body never finds relaxation unless he sees the blessing removed from his brother. But how impossible is that! How impossible that the Decree should aid the envier and what is in his inner self.

Muhammad ibn Ishaq recited the poem:

‘Excuse your envier over the blessing you’ve been singled out for
Indeed loftiness is fine, but with it comes envy
If they envy me, then I blame them not
Before me were people of virtue who did envy (others)
What is with me remains and what’s with them remains
And most of us have died in rage at the present
I am the one who’ve they’ve found (envy for) in their hearts
I don’t raise myself over them, nor do I wish to do so.’

‘Amr ibn Maymun said, “Musa once saw a man near the Throne (of Allah) and so he had some ghibt (good jealousy) of his place and position. So he asked about him and he said, ‘Shall I inform you of his deeds? He never used to envy the people for what Allah has given them of His Bounty, and he was not disobedient to his parents.’ He said, ‘And how can he disobey his parents?’ He said, ‘A person curses for their sake until they are cursed by others. And he (the man) did not spread slander.”

‎’Umar ibn al-Khattab: “None is endowed with a blessing from Allah, except that you’ll find someone envying him for it. And even if a person were to be more upright than an arrow, you shall still find someone criticising him. And a word brings no harm if there is no-one entertaining it.”

Ibn Sirin: “I have never been jealous of anyone over something worldly, because if he is from the people of Paradise, how can I envy him for a worldly thing when he is on his way to Paradise? And if he is from the people of Hell, then how can I envy him for a worldly thing when he is on his way to Hell?”

Abu Hatim: Jealousy is from the characteristics of the lowly ones, and abandoning it is from the actions of the virtuous ones. Every flame can be put out, but the flame of jealousy cannot be put out. Jealousy breeds rancour & hatred and that is the origin of evil. Whoever conceals evil in his heart, it will plant a bitter fruit, its growth will result in anger and its fruits will be regret. Hasad (jealousy/envy) is the name given when a person wishes to see the blessing removed from others and instead comes to him. As for the one who sees goodness in his brother and wants to attain the same without wishing for its removal from his brother, then this is not hasad that is blameworthy and prohibited.

Abu Ja’far once said to Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, “How quickly the people come to see you upon your arrival to Madinah!” So the leader of the faithful (Mu’awiyah) said:

‘Indeed, the noble man faces many an envier
But you will not find any to envy the lowly ones.’

Muhammad ibn Husayn recited,

‘They were jealous of the blessing when it appeared
So they cast it with statements of falsehood and lies
But when Allah does reveal a blessing
The words of the envious can cause it no harm’

Abu Hatim: There is no safety from the hasid (jealous) except keeping distant from him, and this is because the more he keeps looking to what you have been given over him, the more it increases him in gloom and envy, and having a bad opinion of Allah. Indeed, the envier does not envy you because you are evil or because of any betrayal on your part, rather he envies you because he’s gone against being pleased with the Decree. It is as al-‘Utbi said,

‘I keep thinking of how I may have wronged you, but I cannot see
Any wrongdoing on my part, rather you’ve proved jealous’

And al-Abrash recited:

‘The jealous has nothing except what he’s jealous of
And for him is resentment from all people
I see seclusion to be better for a youth
Than sitting with bad company; so get up if he sits.’

Humayd: “I said to al-Hasan, ‘O’ Aba Sa’id! Does the believer envy?’ He said, ‘What has made you forget the sons of Ya’qub when they envied Yusuf? Rather hide the envy in your chest, for it will not harm you so long as it doesn’t pass your tongue and your hands do not carry it out.”

Abu Hatim: For a person, the worst of garments is al-hasad (envy) because it breeds grief and sadness and it is an illness which has no cure. The envier is likely to encounter misfortune, have you not seen Iblis? He envied Adam so his envy caused him misfortune until he became accursed after having been well-established. It is easy for a person to please every angry one in this world except the envier, for indeed he cannot be pleased until the blessing which he envies is removed (from a person).

Some wise men used to say, “There are 4 types of people most prone to depression: The short-tempered man, the one consumed by envy, the one who mixes with eloquent men learned in literature but he himself is not eloquent or learned, and the wise man who is belittled and humiliated by his people…”

- Rawdhatul-’Uqala’ by Ibn Hibban