Virtues of Reading the Stories of the Salaf

“…Indeed, the stories of the active and righteous scholars are from the best ways of ingraining virtuous characteristics into the soul, and they push it to withstand hardships and obstacles for the sake of noble and lofty goals, and they motivate it to imitate those who display sacrifice and bravery – all in order to cause it to ascend to the highest and noblest of levels.

This is why some of the scholars from the Salaf said: “Stories are soldiers from the soldiers of Allah. Allah keeps the hearts of the awliya’ firm through them.” The proof for this from the Book of Allah is His Saying: {“And all that We relate to you of the news of the Messengers is so that We may make your heart strong and firm thereby.”} [Hud; 120]

And Abu Hanifah (may Allah be Pleased with him) said: “The stories of the scholars and their good qualities are more beloved to me than much Fiqh, because they deal with the manners and character of these people.” The proof for this from the Book of Allah is His Saying: {“These are the ones whom Allah has Guided. So, follow in their guidance.”} [al-An’am; 90] and His Saying: {“Indeed, in their stories there is a lesson for men of understanding.”} [Yusuf; 111]…

And in the introduction of ‘Luqat fi Hikayat as-Salihin’ by Ibn al-Jawzi, it is said: “Malik bin Dinar said: “These stories are gifts from Paradise,” and al-Junayd said: “These stories are soldiers from the soldiers of Allah. With them, He strengthens the faith of those who seek guidance.” So, it was said to him: “Is there a proof for this?” He replied: {“And all that We relate to you of the news of the Messengers is so that We may make your heart strong and firm thereby.”} [Hud; 120] Someone else said: “Read more of these stories, as they are jewels, and they might contain the lone jewel.””

They are jewels in the sense that they suffice from long speeches due to the concise manner in which they illustrate the concept at hand, and they might contain the lone jewel in the sense that the story does not leave anyone requiring more than what has been said for the concept it is being used to illustrate.

Ibn al-Jawzi also said in the introduction to ‘al-Muntadham fi Tarikh al-Muluk wal-Umam’: “Know that reading stories and history has many benefits. The most important is that it is a means to learning about the most amazing things, significant events in history, the manifestation of destiny, and coming across facts. The soul experiences relaxation when learning facts. Abu ‘Amr bin al-‘Ala’ said that it was said to a man from Bakr bin Wa’il who had become old and was no longer able to enjoy the pleasure of food, drink, or marriage: “Do you long for death?” He said: “No,” and he was asked: “What is left for you to enjoy in this world?” He said: “Hearing these amazing stories.””

The best way to strengthen your resolve, motivate your mind, bring out your talent, increase your determination, build your character in a calm and quiet manner without any command or prohibition, rise to deal with the loftiest issues, raise yourself above worthless ones, and follow in the path of the noble predecessors is to read the biographies of these ambitious and righteous scholars, to stop and look at the stories of these great men, to constantly discover the qualities of these righteous mentors, and to become close to these brilliant and active scholars of glory…”

[‘Safahat min Sabr al-‘Ulama” ; p. 17-18]

4 Responses to “Virtues of Reading the Stories of the Salaf”

  1. Gharieba Says:

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    barakalahu feekum for the beneficial articles.

    Respected brother, in the 3d paragraph you quote the Quran: al An’aam verse 9: {“These are the ones whom Allah has Guided. So, follow in their guidance.”} [al-An’am; 9]

    I checked and this is what al An’aanm verse 9 says: 9. And had We appointed him an angel, We indeed would have made him a man, and We would have certainly caused them confusion in a matter which they have already covered with confusion (i.e. the Message of Prophet Muhammad SAW).

  2. I believe it’s verse 90 of surat an’am. You forgot to add the ZERO bro.

  3. Gharieba Says:

    Barakalahu feekum, that is correct:

    90. They are those whom Allâh had guided. So follow their guidance. Say: “No reward I ask of you for this (the Qur’ân). It is only a reminder for the ‘Alamîn (mankind and jinns).”

  4. As Salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah,

    Ah..its verse 90, not 9 … must be a tiping failor :

    “Those were the (prophets) who received Allah’s guidence, follow the guidance they received…” Al-An-am, 90

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