al-A’mash: One Interesting Character

One of the scholars who is most interesting to read about is the Tabi’i Sulayman bin Mihran (died 148 H), also known as al-A’mash (one who has weak vision). al-A’mash had quite an interesting personality, as he was very pious and knowledgeable while also having a rough, sarcastic attitude that makes one smile constantly while reading through his tarjamah.

Here are some funny incidents of his collected from ‘Siyar A’lam an-Nubala” (6/419-434) and ‘Hilyat al-Awliya” (5/54-70):

1 - al-A’mash went out to some neighborhood one day, and some people came up to him to ask him regarding Hadith. His companions said to him: “Won’t you narrate to these poor souls?” al-A’mash replied: “Who would hang pearls on pigs?”

2 - Some people came to al-A’mash one day, and he came out of his house to greet them, saying: “Were it not for the fact that there were people in my house that I hate more than you, I wouldn’t have come out to see you.” Abu Dawud al-Ha’ik asked him: “Abu Muhammad, what is your opinion on praying behind al-Ha’ik?” al-A’mash replied: “No problem, as long as one doesn’t have wudu’.” He also asked: “What do you say about accepting his testimony?” al-A’mash replied: “Only if it is accompanied by testimony from two trustworthy people.”

3 - The governor ‘Isa bin Musa sent a notebook along with a thousand dirhams to al-A’mash for him to write down Hadith in it. So, al-A’mash wrote: ‘بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم, قل هو الله أحد’ (In the Name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful: Say: ‘He is Allah, One’) and sent the book back to him. He sent to him, saying: “Do you think that I don’t know any Qur’an?” al-A’mash sent back, saying: “Do you think that I sell Hadith?” He kept the money for himself.

4 – ‘Abdullah bin Idris said to al-A’mash: “What prevents you from getting a haircut?” He replied: “The cuppers talk too much.” So, he said: “I will bring you to a cupper who will not say a word to you until he finishes cutting your hair.” He brought him to a Junayd, a cupper who was also a Muhaddith. So, ‘Abdullah warned him not to talk to al-A’mash, and he agreed. However, when he had cut half of al-A’mash’s hair, he said: “O Abu Muhammad, what is the status of the hadith of Habib bin Abi Thabit regarding menstruation?” So, al-A’mash got up, screamed, and ran away, sitting for a month with only half of his hair cut.

5 - A knowledgeable man with a long beard came to al-A’mash and asked him a basic question about the prayer. So, al-A’mash turned to us and said: “Look at him! His beard could carry four thousand ahadith, and he asks a question that the children in school would ask!”

6 - It is said that al-A’mash had a son who was very slow, and he told him: “Go buy a rope for us to hang our clothes on.” The boy asked: “How long do you want it to be, father?” He replied: “Ten cubits long.” The boy then asked: “How wide do you want it to be?” al-A’mash replied: “As wide as my bad luck with you!”

7 - Husayn bin Waqid was reciting Qur’an to al-A’mash, and asked him: “How do you like my recitation?” al-A’mash replied: “Better than the recitation of any disbeliever.”

8 - One time, al-A’mash got up at night and could find no water. So, he rubbed his hands on the wall and performed tayammum and went back to sleep. He was asked about this, and he said: “I am afraid to die without being in a state of purity.”

9 -
One time, al-A’mash went out in the morning and passed by the mosque of Bani Asad. They were about to start praying, and he went inside and prayed. The imam recited ‘al-Baqarah’ in the first rak’ah, and recited ‘Al ‘Imran’ in the second. When he finished, al-A’mash said to him: “Will you not fear Allah? Did you not hear that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever leads the people in prayer should go easy, as there are those behind him who are old, weak, and have needs to tend to.”” So, the man said: “Allah Said: {“…and it is heavy except on those who have khushu’…”} [al-Baqarah; 45] So, al-A’mash said: “I am a messenger sent from those who have khushu’ telling you that you are heavy.”

10 - One time, a soldier wanted to cross a river. He came across al-A’mash, who was standing near the river, so he jumped on his back and had him walk through the water. When he jumped on al-A’mash, he recited ‘Glory to Him Who has provided this for us’ (سبحان الذي سخر لنا هذا – the supplication for riding a vehicle). When al-A’mash had gotten half way across the river, he threw the soldier off of his back, recited {…My Lord! Cause me to land at a blessed landing-place, for You are the best of those who bring to land…} [al-Mu'minun; 29] and left him in the river and ran away.

11 - One day, Shabib bin Shaybah and his friends came by to see al-A’mash, and they stood at his door yelling: “O Sulayman! Come out!” From inside, al-A’mash said: “Who are you?” They replied: “We are {“…those who call you from behind the dwellings…”} [al-Hujurat; 4] So, al-A’mash replied: “And {“…most of them have no sense…”} [al-Hujurat; 4]

12 - One time, he wore an inverted sheepskin, such that the wool was on the outside. Someone said to him: “O Abu Muhammad, why don’t you wear it so that the wool is on the inside? This would be warmer for you.” al-A’mash replied: “Why don’t you go suggest this to the sheep?”

18 Responses to “al-A’mash: One Interesting Character”

  1. Muslim Brother Says:

    Salaam Alaikum…

    Akhi Abo Sabaayaa could u possibly show the arabic for these quotes, please!! Please post them in a comment or send them to me personally, plz!!

    BarakAllahu Fik

    Salaamu Alaykum

  2. Just curious, but did you attend the Torch Bearers which was taught by Waleed basyouni of almaghrib institute?

  3. Muslim Brother Says:

    Salam Alaykum

    No.

    Curiousity killed the cat.

  4. Sorry Muslim Brother but this question was directed to Abu Sabaya. I should’ve made it more clear. My fault!

  5. Muslim Brother Says:

    Salam Alaykum

    Good thing, since that was extremly awkward.

    Abu Sabaya, any news on what I asked??

    JazakAllah Kheyr

    Salam 3alaykum

  6. Masha-Allah! I will never forget Al-A’mash..Ditto Nu’ayman

  7. Al Madrasi Says:

    Jazakallah khair for the information .

    I was wondering if you were on the Torch Bearers taught by Waleed Basyouni as well ! Mashallah I stumbled upon this after Torch Bearers and this all makes sense now !!

  8. I’ve never taken the Torch Bearers class. I was just reading in the sources I referenced above and decided to put these up.

  9. Muslim Brother Says:

    Salam 3alaykum again akhe

    Like I asked, any chance you could put these up as arabi too, i want read them in arabic, so it is better for me to compare the english to arabic so i can get better in english insha

    salam

  10. ‘Alayk as-Salam wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh;

    I translated these out of the actual books, not the online copies, so it would take a little bit of time to do so. I’ll put them up as soon as I can, in Sha’ Allah.

  11. Abu Dharr Says:

    As Salamu Alaikum
    Abu Sabaya i love you for the sake of Allah, Jazakallahu khair for your efforts in translating these articles

  12. nice one.. i read somewhere about sheikh ibn uthaymeen’s jokes, they’re good too.

  13. abd allah Says:

    lool, allahumma barik

  14. mashallah what a coincidence we were just learning about Al Amash today in toronto during our torch bearers class and mashallah sh waleed had the whole crowd laughing lol

    do you by any chance have any more funny stories about scholars

    jazakhallah khairan for sharing!

  15. Abu Aaisha Says:

    Yaa abaa Sabaya. Assalaam alaikum.
    Jazaakallaah for the good work.
    please let me know if there is a site where I can get the books of taareekh such as Siyar, etc.

  16. bintslaveoftheOne Says:

    lol, I attended Torch Bearer months ago and it still hurts my tummy when I read stories of Al A’mash. Good one. Thank you for posting this. There’s one account of his when he was visited while he was sick. The visitors stayed longer than they should. Al A’mash got so tired, picked up a pillow and said this du’a: “May Allah heals the one you came to visit” and went off to sleep.

  17. Abu Ibraheem Ansari Says:

    Assallamu ‘wa’alaykum wa’Rahmuthullah,

    This article was really something to smile about, Al A’mash (radi’Allahu anhu) was very unique, a Ta’bie, with knowledge and his character was amazing! I think we all know a brother, that reminds us of al A’mash.

    Jazakhumallahu khaiyrun.

    Your brother,

    Abu Ibraheem Ansari

  18. عن سفيان بن حسين قال خرج الأعمش إلى بعض السواد فأتاه قوم فسألوه عن الحديث قال فقال له جلساؤه لو حدثت هؤلاء المساكين فقال من يعلق الدر على الخنازير

    1 – al-A’mash went out to some neighborhood one day, and some people came up to him to ask him regarding Hadith. His companions said to him: “Won’t you narrate to these poor souls?” al-A’mash replied: “Who would hang pearls on pigs?”

    جاؤوا إلى الأعمش يوما فخرج وقال لولا أن في منزلي من هو أبغض إلى منكم ما خرجت إليكم قيل إن أبا داود الحائك سأل الأعمش ما تقول يا أبا محمد في الصلاة خلف الحائك فقال لا بأس بها على غير وضوء قال وما تقول في شهادته قال يقبل مع عدلين

    2 – Some people came to al-A’mash one day, and he came out of his house to greet them, saying: “Were it not for the fact that there were people in my house that I hate more than you, I wouldn’t have come out to see you.” Abu Dawud al-Ha’ik asked him: “Abu Muhammad, what is your opinion on praying behind al-Ha’ik?” al-A’mash replied: “No problem, as long as one doesn’t have wudu’.” He also asked: “What do you say about accepting his testimony?” al-A’mash replied: “Only if it is accompanied by testimony from two trustworthy people.”

    قال عيسى بن يونس أرسل الأمير عيسى بن موسى إلى الأعمش بألف درهم
    وصحيفة ليكتب فيها حديثا فكتب فيها بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وقل هو الله أحد ووجه بها إليه فبعث إليه يا ابن الفاعلة ظننت أني لا أحسن كتاب الله فبعث إليه أظننت أني أبيع الحديث

    3 – The governor ‘Isa bin Musa sent a notebook along with a thousand dirhams to al-A’mash for him to write down Hadith in it. So, al-A’mash wrote: ‘بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم, قل هو الله أحد’ (In the Name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful: Say: ‘He is Allah, One’) and sent the book back to him. He sent to him, saying: “Do you think that I don’t know any Qur’an?” al-A’mash sent back, saying: “Do you think that I sell Hadith?” He kept the money for himself.

    قال عبد الله بن إدريس قلت للأعمش يا أبا محمد ما يمنعك من أخذ شعرك قال كثرة فضول الحجامين قلت فأنا أجيئك بحجام لا يكلمك حتى تفرغ فأتيت جنيدا الحجام وكان محدثا فأوصيته فقال نعم فلما أخذ نصف شعره قال يا أبا محمد كيف حديث حبيب بن أبي ثابت في المستحاضة فصاح صيحة وقام يعدو وبقي نصف شعره بعد شهر غير مجزوز

    4 – ‘Abdullah bin Idris said to al-A’mash: “What prevents you from getting a haircut?” He replied: “The cutters talk too much.” So, he said: “I will bring you to a cutterer who will not say a word to you until he finishes cutting your hair.” He brought him to a Junayd, a cupper who was also a Muhaddith. So, ‘Abdullah warned him not to talk to al-A’mash, and he agreed. However, when he had cut half of al-A’mash’s hair, he said: “O Abu Muhammad, what is the status of the hadith of Habib bin Abi Thabit regarding menstruation?” So, al-A’mash got up, screamed, and ran away, sitting for a month with only half of his hair cut.

    حدثنا محمد بن عبيد قال جاء رجل نبيل كبير اللحية إلى الأعمش فسأله عن مسألة خفيفة في الصلاة فالتفت إلينا الأعمش فقال انظروا إليه لحيته تحتمل حفظ أربعة الاف حديث ومسألته مسألة صبيان

    5 – A knowledgeable man with a long beard came to al-A’mash and asked him a basic question about the prayer. So, al-A’mash turned to us and said: “Look at him! His beard could carry four thousand ahadith, and he asks a question that the children in school would ask!”

    وقيل إن الأعمش كان له ولد مغفل فقال له اذهب فاشتر لنا حبلا للغسيل فقال يا أبة طول كم قال عشرة أذرع قال في عرض كم قال في عرض مصيبتي فيك

    6 – It is said that al-A’mash had a son who was very slow, and he told him: “Go buy a rope for us to hang our clothes on.” The boy asked: “How long do you want it to be, father?” He replied: “Ten cubits long.” The boy then asked: “How wide do you want it to be?” al-A’mash replied: “As wide as my bad luck with you!”

    وقال عيسى بن يونس خرج الأعمش فإذا بجندي فسخره ليخوض به نهرا فلما ركب الأعمش قال ^ سبحان الذي سخر لنا هذا ^ فلما توسط به الأعمش قال ^ وقل رب أنزلني منزلا مباركا وأنت خير المنزلين ^ المؤمنين 29 ثم رهى به

    9 – One time, a soldier wanted to cross a river. He came across al-A’mash, who was standing near the river, so he jumped on his back and had him walk through the water. When he jumped on al-A’mash, he recited ‘Glory to Him Who has provided this for us’ (سبحان الذي سخر لنا هذا – the supplication for riding a vehicle). When al-A’mash had gotten half way across the river, he threw the soldier off of his back, recited {“…My Lord! Cause me to land at a blessed landing-place, for You are the best of those who bring to land…“} [al-Mu'minun; 29] and left him in the river and ran away.

    ويقال إن الأعمش كان ربما خرج إليهم وعلى كتفه مئزر العجين وإنه لبس مرة فروا مقلوبا فقال له قائل يا أبا محمد لو لبستها وصوفها إلى داحل كان ادفأ لك قال كنت أشرت على الكبش بهذه المشورة

    12 – One time, he wore an inverted sheepskin, such that the wool was on the outside. Someone said to him: “O Abu Muhammad, why don’t you wear it so that the wool is on the inside? This would be warmer for you.” al-A’mash replied: “Why don’t you go suggest this to the sheep?”

    ^those above are the ones that i found/were v.similar/same

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