Speak Up But Don’t Argue

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

A man once asked Imam Ahmad, ‘I sometimes find myself in a gathering where the Sunnah is mentioned, but no-one apart from me has more knowledge of it. Shall I speak up and say something?’

Imam Ahmad then said, ‘State what the Sunnah is, but do not argue over it.’

The man then repeated his statement and so Imam Ahmad said, ‘I only see you to be an argumentative man!’

And this is what Malik (rahimahullah) meant in his saying (after informing people of the Sunnah), ‘And if they don’t accept it from you, then be silent.’

Mu’tamir ibn Sulayman: ‘I heard my father say, ‘You can never get a man to listen to you when you have just angered him.’

- Al-Adab al-Shar'iyyah, by Ibn Muflih al-Maqdisi [pg. 307]

Point of benefit: Advise people of correct actions, the Sunnah, and the proper manner of conduct etc, but don’t push them to the point of anger and arguments because getting advice through to a person in that state is like trying to force back water flowing from a tap… Instead, let the heat die down, let the issue close for a while and then try again when things are calm.

Pardoning Others

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Tarbiyyah Focus :-

Learning to forgive and pardon others always brings more benefit to one’s self than it does to others. It creates an atmosphere of relaxation, tranquility and ease in your heart and you learn to get on with the more important things of your life. Bearing grudges and constantly looking to others, remembering all the ills and wrongs that people have committed against you will forever weigh you down, depress you, anchor you in unhappiness and make you a very horrible person! So as is mentioned frequently in the Qur’an and Sunnah, forgive and overlook the faults of others.

Without a doubt however, there will be times when you’ll need to stand up and rectify the wrong, because a Muslim should be strong and never allow him/herself to be oppressed, harmed or trodden on etc, but at the end of the day, when all is resolved, forgiveness and pardoning is the way to go. As part of  a lifelong tarbiyyah, we should learn to create a distance between the actions of others and their effect on us. Unfortunately, it is the case that at times, there are people (whether they’re in authority, are laymen, general public or even your friends) who will wrong you, criticise you, harm you, wish you ill, stand against you, betray you etc, but these are oft-occuring matters of this world which you can’t run away from. Instead, the best thing you can do is build yourself up and attain the tarbiyyah to help you best deal with such occurences, and lessen their effect on you.

Forgive, and although you don’t always have to forget (though that would be good), take a lesson and then cleanse your heart from malice, all the while hoping for the Help of Allah and His reward. To draw this home, I’ve translated parts of a small chapter from Ibn Muflih’s book, al-Adab al-Shar’iyyah on pardoning those who oppress and wrong others (based on the incident of Imam Ahmad’s trial and persecution):

Salih, the son of Imam Ahmad, relates that he went to his father and said,

‘I’ve heard that a man came to Fadhl al-Anmati and said to him, “If I do not help and support you, will you forgive me?” Al-Fadhl said to him, ‘I will never forgive anyone (who does that).” My father then smiled and remained silent.

After a few days, he said to me, ‘I came across this verse: “So whoever forgives and rectifies, then his reward is upon Allah…” [al-Shura: 40] and I looked to its tafsir (explanation); it was as Hashim ibn al-Qasim narrated to me from al-Mubarak from al-Hasan that he said:

‘When all the nations kneel before the Lord of the Worlds on the Day of Judgement, and it is proclaimed “Let all those whose reward is upon Allah, rise up” none shall get up except those who used to forgive others in the world.’

My father then said, ‘So I have forgiven those who’ve passed away for their beating me.’ Then he began to say, ‘And how can it be that a man is punished by Allah because of another man?’

In the report of al-Marwadi is the statement of al-Sha’bi: ‘If you forgive him once (the one who wronged you), then you shall attain twice the reward.’

Al-Hasan al-Basri: ‘The best of a believer’s characteristics is forgiving and pardoning.’

And ‘Umar made the amazing statement: ‘I have forgiven all the people.’

- Al-Adab al-Shar’iyyah by Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali [vol 1, pg. 85-86]

A2 – ‘… So long as you are not overjoyed or grieved by it…’

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

قال الإمام أحمد – رحمه الله

Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) said:

إن لكل شيء كرم وكرم القلب الرضاء عن الله عز وجل
‘Everything has nobility in it, and the nobility of the heart is to be pleased with Allah, `azza wa jall.’

الدنيا داء والسلطان داء, والعالم طبيب. فإذا رأيت الطبيب يجر الداء إلى نفسه فاحذره
‘This world is like sickness, and the Ruler is also sickness, but the scholar is the doctor. So if you see the doctor draw upon himself sickness, then be cautious of him.’

الزهد في الدنيا: قصر الأمل والإياس مما في أيدي الناس
‘Zuhd (asceticism) in this world is: Severing long hopes and giving up on what’s in the hands of others.’

عزيز عليّ أن تذيب الدنيا أكباد رجال وعت صدورهم القرآن
‘It is difficult for me to see this world devour men whose hearts have gathered the Qur’an.’

سئل الإمام أحمد: عن رجل معه ألف دينار, أيكون زاهداً؟ قال: نعم بشرط أن لا يفرح إذا زادت ولا يحزن إذا نقصت
‘Imam Ahmad was asked about a man who owned a thousand Dinar – could he be an ascetic? He replied, ‘Yes, so long as he is not overjoyed when it increases and is not grieved when it is lessened.’

Excerpts from Kitab al-Zuhd

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah,

- Some gems I pulled out from my books, something for us to contemplate and implement insha’Allah.

Statements of Salman al-Farisi

“O Jarir, lower yourself for Allah. Indeed whoever lowers himself for Allah `azza wa jall in this world, will be raised by Him on the Day of Judgment.”

“The most sinful amongst the people, are those who speak about the disobedience of Allah `azza wa jall the most.”

“People will continue to remain in a state of goodness so long as the first of them teach the latter ones. If the first generation passes away before the latter have learnt, then that is when they shall fall into destruction.”

“If the people knew how much Allah helps the weak ones, they would never even grab iron poles (to strike others with). Truly, Allah `azza wa jall feels shy upon seeing His slave extend his two hands towards Him, asking Him for goodness, that He should return them empty (and unanswered).”

“There is no-one who performs wudu’ (ablution) with perfection and then comes to the mosque for no other reason other than for worship except that he comes as a guest of Allah `azza wa jall, and Allah has taken it upon Himself to honour His guests.”

“Do not be the first person to enter the market-places, nor be the last person to leave it, for indeed in them are the mounts of Shaytan and the focus of his flag/banner (i.e. it’s the battlefield of Shaytan).”

[pg. 172 - 173]

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Statements of ‘Aisha (radhiallahu `anha)

“Abu al-Duha said, ‘Someone who had heard ‘Aisha recite the verse: “And stay in your homes…” [al-Ahzab: 33] said that she wept until her khimar (head-covering) became wet.”

‘Aisha: “Lessen your sins, for indeed you will not meet Allah `azza wa jall with anything better than scarcity of sins.”

And she once wrote to Mu’awiyyah saying, “Amma ba’d: Indeed if the slave (of Allah) acts disobediently to Allah, then those who used to praise him from amongst the people, will turn out to be the ones who criticize and rebuke him.”

‘Aisha: ‘I wish I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!”

[pg. 187-188]

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Statements of Abul-’Aliyah

“There will come a time upon the people when the Qur’an shall become ruins and disappear from their chests; they shall find no sweetness or delight in it. If they fall short in what they’ve been commanded with, they say ‘Allah is All-Forgiving and He is the Most Merciful’ and if they do what they’ve been prohibited from doing, they say ‘We shall be forgiven for we have not associated anything in worship with Allah.’ Their entire affair is covetousness with no truth or sincerity. They wear sheep’s clothing over the hearts of wolves and the best of them in his Deen ends up being the deceitful and hypocritical one.”

“The fasting person is in a state of worship so long as he does not backbite, even if he is fast asleep on his bed.”

“If you visit a people (as a guest), and they ask you to sit, then sit wherever they have placed the pillow for you, because they are the most acquainted with their homes.”

“We considered it to be from the greatest of sins that a man should learn the Qur’an and then sleep without reading anything of it.” In another narration he said, “… and then sleep until he forgot it.”

[pg. 241-242]

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Statements of Muhammad ibn Sirin

“If Allah wants goodness for a slave, He places in his heart an admonisher commanding him and prohibiting him.”

“Do not honour your brother with something he dislikes.”

Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd once described Muhammad ibn Sirin saying: As for Ibn Sirin, then he was never faced with two matters in his faith except that he abided by the most accurate and sound of them both.”

Musa ibn al-Mughirah: I saw Muhammad ibn Sirin entering the marketplace at midday. He was praising Allah, glorifying and remembering Him, so a man said to him, ‘O Abu Bakr! Now? (i.e. dhikr at this hour?).’ He said, ‘Indeed, it is an hour of heedlessness (marketplace ghaflah).’

If Ibn Sirin was called to a Walimah or to a wedding, he would first go to his house saying, ‘Give me sawiq (mushy drink made with barley, sugar and dates).’ It was said to him, ‘O Abu Bakr! But you’re going to a wedding where you can drink sawiq!’ He would reply, ‘I hate to unleash my hunger on the people’s food.’

He (rahimahullah) used to fast on alternate days, and on the day when he was not fasting, he would eat dinner but he would not take any supper. Then he would have Suhur (pre-dawn meal), and wake up fasting.

[pg. 345 - 347]

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‘Kitab al-Zuhd‘ by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

(published 2006, Dar al-Imam Ahmad, Cairo)

A1 – Sit with the People!

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Sit with the people

قال هارون بن عبد الله الحمال: جاءني أحمد بن حنبل بالليل فدق البال علي. فقلت من هذا؟ فقال: أنا أحمد. فبادرت إليه فمساني ومسيته

قلت: حاجة يا أبا عبد الله؟

قال: نعم شغلت اليوم قلبي

قلت: بماذا يا أبا عبد الله؟

قال: جزت عليك وأنت قاعد تحدث الناس في الفئ, والناس في الشمس, بأيديهم الأقلام والدفاتر. لا تفعل مرة أخرى, إذا قعدت فاقعد مع الناس

Harun ibn ‘Abdillah al-Hammal said, ‘Ahmad ibn Hanbal came to me at night and knocked on my door. I said, ‘Who is it?’ He said, ‘It’s Ahmad.’ So I quickly let him in and we exchanged greetings.

I said, ‘Did you come for any particular need, O Abu ‘Abdillah?’
He said, ‘Yes. You have preoccupied my heart all day.’
I said, ‘With what?’
He said, ‘I went past you today and you were narrating to the people whilst sitting in the shade. But the people were sitting in the sun with pens and books in their hands! Don’t do that again. If you sit, then sit with the people.’ 1

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Humbleness and Goodness

قال الإمام أحمد: الخير فيمن لا يرى لنفسه خيراً

‘Goodness lies in the person who doesn’t see goodness within himself.’ 2

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The Lone Winner

قال الإمام أحمد: يا بني! الفائز من فاز غداً ولم يكن لأحد عنده تبعة

‘O my son! The true champion and winner is he who triumphs tomorrow without having anyone follow him.’ 3

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A Sincere Supplication

‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad said, ‘I heard my father say when he was in prostration (sujud):

اللهم كما صنت وجهي عن السجود لغيرك, فصن وجهي عن المسألة لغيرك

‘O Allah, just as You have protected my face from prostrating to anything besides You, protect me from asking and begging of those besides You.’ 4

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When It Comes To ‘Aqidah (belief)

قال الإمام أحمد: من ضيق علم الرجل أن يقلد في اعتقاده رجلاً

‘It is from a man’s narrow and constricted knowledge (i.e. ignorance) that he should blindly follow another man when it comes to ‘Aqidah.’ 5

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Heedlessness

Al-’Abbas ibn Hamza: ‘I heard Ahmad ibn Hanbal say,

سبحانك! ما أغفل هذا الخلق عما أمامهم, الخائف منهم مقصر والراجي منهم متوانٍ

‘Glory be to You, O Allah! How heedless the creation is of what lies ahead of them! The one who fears (the Hereafter) is falling short and the one who has hope of it, is ever slacking.’ 6

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[1] Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad
[2] Dhayl Tabaqat al-Hanabilah
[3] Tarikh Madinat Dimishq
[4] Matalib Uli-Nuhaa
[5] Talbis Iblis
[6] Tarikh Madinat Dimishq