Do not belittle Du’a

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

أتهزأ بالدعاء وتزدريه *** وما تدري بما صنع الدعاء
سهام الليل لا تخطئ ولكن *** لها أمد وللأمد انقضاء
فيمسكها إذا ما شاء ربي *** ويرسلها إذا ما نفذ القضاء

‘Do you mock the supplication and belittle it?
While you do not know what it has the power to do!
The arrows of the night (du’a) do not miss target
But they have a set limit, which shall come to end
So if my Lord wishes, He holds it back
And if the decree is to be fulfilled, He sets it forth.’

- Imam al-Shafi’i

(I think this was a response of his to someone who belittled and looked down upon the du’a of a worshipper).

‘… He will bring it forth by His Grace’

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

توكلت في رزقي على الله خالقي *** و أيقنت أن الله لا شك رازقي
و ما يك من رزقي فليس يفوتني *** و لو كان في قاع البحار العوامق
سيأتي به الله العظيم بفضله *** و لو لم يكن مني اللسان بناطقي
ففي أي شيء تذهب النفس حسرة *** و قد قسم الرحمن رزق الخلائق

When it comes to my provisions, I rely upon Allah, my Creator
And I know with certainty that He will no doubt provide for me.
Whatever’s in my due, will not pass me by,
Even if it were to be in the depths of the sea.
Allah the Exalted will bring it forth by His Grace,
Even if I were to remain silent over it.
So, what can a soul feel sorrow over,
When the Most Merciful has set the provisions of the creation?

- Imam al-Shafi’i

Let Days Go Forth…

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

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A beautiful poem by Imam al-Shafi’i

دع الأيام تفعل ما تشاء *** وطب نفسا إذا حكم القضاء
ولا تجزع لحادثة الليالي *** فما لحوادث الدنيا بقاء
وكن رجلا على الأهوال جلدا *** وشيمتك السماحة والوفاء
وإن كثرت عيوبك في البرايا *** وسرك أن يكون لها غطاء
يغطى بالسماحة كل عيب *** وكم عيب يغطيه السخاء
ولا حزن يدوم ولا سرور *** ولا بؤس عليك ولا رخاء
ولا ترج السماحة من بخيل *** فما في النار للظمآن ماء
ورزقك ليس ينقصه التأني *** وليس يزيد في الرزق العناء
إذا ما كنت ذا قلب قنوع *** فأنت ومالك الدنيا سواء
ومن نزلت بساحته المنايا *** فلا أرض تقيه ولا سماء
وأرض الله واسعة ولكن *** إذا نزل القضا ضاق الفضاء
دع الأيام تغدر كل حين *** ولا يغني عن الموت الدواء

Let days go forth and do as they please
And remain firm when settled is the Decree

Don’t be afraid of what happens by night
For the affairs of this world are not to last

And be a man, strong in the face of calamities
And let your nature be that of kindness and honesty

If your faults become too much in front of the people
And you wish that they were to be concealed,

Then know that kindness covers all faults
And how many faults are kept hidden by kindness!

No sadness lasts forever, nor any happiness
And you shall not remain in poverty, or any luxury

Generosity cannot be hoped from the miserly
For no water exists in the Fire for the thirsty

Your provision will not be decreased due to life’s delays
And it cannot be increased due to your haste

If, in your heart, you possess contentment
Then you and those who possess the world are equal

And for him upon whose horizon death descends,
No earth can offer him protection, nor any sky

Indeed, the earth of Allah is certainly vast
But if decree descends, then the world constricts

Let days be the ones that betray you at all times
For no cure can avail a person of death

Travel! For in Travel is a Benefit…

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Selected poetry from the Diwan of Imam al-Shafi’i (rahimahullah)

I recently managed to buy a very nice edition of the Diwan (Al-Shafi’i’s book of poems), complete with quotes, historical incidents and a biography bonus. So insha’Allah I’ll try translating some of his poetry and adding it to the (somewhat neglected) Mawa’idh al-Shafi’i project.

Ok, I know I have a problem staying in one city or town for a long time (you see, I’m a born explorer)… so this poem on the benefits of travelling made my day :)

فوائد الأسفار

The Benefits in Travelling

تغرب عن الأوطان في طلب العلى *** وسافر ففي الأسفار خمس فوائد
Leave your country in search of loftiness
And travel! For in travel there are 5 benefits,

تفرج هم واكتساب معيشة *** وعلم وآداب وصحبة ماجد
Relief of adversity and earning of livelihood
And knowledge and etiquettes and noble companionship

فإن قيل في الأسفار ذل ومحنة *** وقطع الفيافي وارتكاب الشدائد
If it is said that travelling brings humiliation and difficulty
And long journeys across deserts and toil and trouble,

فموت الفتى خير له من قيامه *** بدار هوان بين واش وحاسد
Then death is better for a person than him remaining
In a humiliating land between traitors and enviers



المرء إن كان عاقلا ورعا *** أشغله عن عيوب غيره ورعه
If a person is intelligent and pious
His piety occupies him from the sins of others

كما العليل السقيم أشغله *** عن وجع الناس كلهم وجعه
Just like the ill one is kept preoccupied
From the sickness of others by his own sickness


هكذا الحظ

Due Provision

تموت الأسد في الغابات جوعا *** ولحم الضأن تأكله الكلاب
Lions die hungry out in the wild
And the meat of sheep is only eaten by dogs

وعبد قد ينام على حرير *** وذو نسب مفارشه التراب
Indeed, a slave may end up sleeping on silk
Whilst the bed of masters turns out to be dust

أدب التعلم

The Etiquettes of Learning

اصبر على مر الجفا من معلم *** فإن رسوب العلم في نفراته
Be patient over the teacher’s strictness and harshness
For the stores of knowledge are present in his harshness

ومن لم يذق ذل التعلم ساعة *** تجرع ذل الجهل طول حياته
Whoever does not taste the humility of learning, even for an hour
Will drink the humility of ignorance for the rest of his life

ومن فاته التعليم وقت شبابه *** فكبر عليه أربعا لوفاته
For him who misses out on learning in his youth,
Then announce four takbirs over him for his death is due

حياة الفتى – والله – بالعلم والتقى *** إذا لم يكونا لا اعتبار لذاته
By Allah, the life of a youth is by knowledge and piety
If they are not present, then nothing can express his existence

Imam al-Shafi’i and the Old Man

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Rabi’ ibn Sulayman (a companion of Imam al-Shafi’i) said:

‘We were with al-Shafi’i one day when an old man wearing garments of wool came to us with a walking-stick in his hand. Al-Shafi’i stood up, fixed his clothes and greeted the old man. He sat down and al-Shafi’i began looking at him in admiration when the man said:

Old man: Can I ask?
Al-Shafi’i: Ask.

Old man: What is the Hujjah (evidence) in the religion of Allah?
Al-Shafi’i: The Book of Allah.

Old man: What else?
Al-Shafi’i: The Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).

Old man: What else?
Al-Shafi’i: The consensus of the Ummah.

Old man: Where did you get ‘consensus of the Ummah’ from? (i.e. what’s your evidence).

Al-Shafi’i pondered for a moment when the old man said:

Old man: I will leave you for 3 days. If you come up with evidence from the Book of Allah, fine. If not, then repent to Allah Ta’ala.

Al-Shafi’i’s face changed colour and then he left. He didn’t come out until the third day, between dhuhr and ‘asr. His face, hands and legs had swollen and he became ill. He sat down but it was only a short while when the old man returned. He greeted him and sat down then he said,

Old man: Do you have what I asked for?
Al-Shafi’i: Yes.

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم
I seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the outcast.

Allah, the Most High said:

وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَى وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّى وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ وَسَاءتْ مَصِيراً
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the way of the believers, We shall keep him on the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – and what an evil destination.” [al-Nisa: 115]

… And He (Allah `azza wa jall) will not burn him in Hell for opposing the believers in something except that it is something obligatory.’

Old man: You have told the truth.

Then he got up and left.

Al-Shafi’i then said to those around him: I read the Qur’an 3 times every day (in the 3 days he was given), until I came to this verse.’

- Siyar A’lam al-Nubala

It’s the case that sometimes, the Qur’an reveals its gems and answers at different times and on different occasions. Even if we may have read a particular verse many times before, it will suddenly sink in with us differently at another time.

As they say, ‘لا تنقضي عجائبه ‘ – its wonders never cease. May Allah grant us good understanding of His Book.