Archive for the al-Khatib al-Baghdadi Category

Advice to the Young Student of Knowledge

Posted in al-Khatib al-Baghdadi on February 9, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

In al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s ‘Mukhtasar Nasihah ila Ahl al-Hadith’ (which can be found in the collection ‘Majmu’at Rasa’il fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith’; p. 109-126), two good pieces of advice stick out:

First, he speaks about the importance of studying Islam from an early age:

“I wrote this book specifically for the student of Hadith, and for everyone in general. What I am about say is an advice from me to him, out of jealousy for him: he should distinguish himself from the one who is pleased with ignorance for himself, and has nobody to assist him in finding the people of virtue. Likewise, he should look to what he spends most of his time in, and what most of his life has been dedicated towards – of the books of the ahadith of the Messenger of Allah, collecting them, researching knowledge of what he has been commanded with, of what is halal, haram, specific, general, obligatory, preferred, permissible, warned against, abrogating, abrogated, etc. from the various types of knowledge, before the time passes in which he has the ability to do this.

It has been narrated from ash-Shafi’i that he said:

“Obtain knowledge before you are tasked with high positions in life, because when you are tasked with positions, there is no way to obtaining knowledge.”

It is narrated that Abu Muhammad al-Maruzi said: “It was said that the mud will swallow up the ring so long as it is still soft. In other words, knowledge should be sought after when one is still young, fresh age.”

And it has been reported that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Umar bin al-Khattab said: “Gain knowledge before you are given positions of leadership.”

Regarding this statement of ‘Umar, Abu ‘Ubayd (al-Qasim bin Sallam) said: “Learn the knowledge while you are young, before you become leaders to whom others look up. If you do not learn at this age, you will become ashamed to learn when you are older, and you will remain ignorant, and will be forced to take your knowledge from those who are younger than you, and you will be belittled for this.”

Second, he mentioned the danger of abandoning taking knowledge from elder scholars, and instead taking it from the youth:

“…and it was narrated that ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud said: “The people will remain upon good so long as they take their knowledge from those who are older then them, those they trust, and their scholars. If they take their knowledge from those who are younger and evil, they are destroyed.”

‘Abdullah bin Muslim bin Qutaybah asked about this statement of Ibn Mas’ud’s, to which he was told: “It means that the people will remain upon good so long as their scholars are older, and not newcomers, as the older one has passed by the enjoyment, hastiness, and foolishness of his youth, and has been granted experience and insight. So, no doubts enter upon his knowledge, and he is not overtaken by his desires, and he is not swayed by greed, and Satan will not cause him to slip as he does with the newcomer.”

ِAnd Ibn Hajar said that it is authentically narrated that ‘Umar said: “The people will be corrupted as soon as knowledge comes from the young, and the elder one is rebelled against.”

“…And days gone by will never return…”

Posted in al-Khatib al-Baghdadi on February 7, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

Collected in the abridged version of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi’s ‘Iqtida’ al-‘Ilm al-‘Amal’ (p. 43-47), in the chapter titled ‘Rushing to Deeds Before One’s Youth and Health Disappear’:

1 – Ghunaym bin Qays said:

“We would be admonished in the early days of Islam:

‘O son of Adam! Act during your free time before you become busy, and during your youth before your old age, and during your health before your sickness, and during your stay in this world before the Hereafter, and during your life before your death.'”

2 – Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Masruq at-Tusi said:

“I recited to Mahmud bin al-Hasan:

Utilize your youth before it becomes spoiled * And the health of your body before it becomes sick;

And the days of your life before you die * For the one who lives will not live long;

And utilize your free time * Let your nights be spent in some work;

And put something forth, as every man is travelling towards * That which he has put forth…

3 – ‘Abdullah bin al-Mubarak said:

Take advantage of two rak’at to bring you closer to Allah * If you happen to be relaxing;

And if you intend to speak a vain word * Replace it with a tasbih…

4 – Abu Muhammad Mansur bin Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah al-Azdi chanted to himself:

Do not belittle an hour that can help you * In which you extend your hand in obedience;

As the living will die, and hopes are a deception * And the affair passes by hour by hour…

5 – Abu ‘Abdillah Ahmad bin Ayyub chanted to himself:

In your free time, take advantage of the virtue of bowing in prayer * It might be that your death comes suddenly;

How many healthy ones have you seen without disease * Whose healthy selves disappeared and escaped them…

6 – Abu al-Walid Sulayman bin Khalaf bin Sa’d al-Andalusi chanted to himself:

If I knew for certain * That my entire life would last an hour;

Why would I be cheap with it * And not dedicate it to righteousness and obedience?

7 – Some of the scholars said:

“A group of people invited a man for some food on an extremely hot day. So, he said: “I am fasting.”

They said: “On a day like this?!”

He said: “Do you want me to waste my days?””

8 – Abu Bakr bin Abi ad-Dunya said:

“A group of people invited a man for some food. So, he said: “I am fasting.”

They said: “Break your fast today, and fast tomorrow.”

He said: “And who will be there for me tomorrow?””

9 – ‘Abdullah bin al-Mu’taz said:

“Seize the opportunity today, and do not wait for tomorrow, as there is nobody to guarantee tomorrow for you.”

10 – One of Dawud at-Ta’i’s brothers said to him:

“O Abu Sulayman! You know the kinship between us. So, advise me!”

So, his eyes began to water, and he said: “My brother! Indeed, the night and day are stages that the people pass through – one stage at a time – until they reach the end of their journey. So, if you are able to put forth for every day some provision for each stage, do so. And if your journey is cut short, prepare for your journey what you can, and fulfill what you are able of this affair, because it is as if its end will catch you by surprise. I do not know anyone who is more wasteful in this affair than I am.”

He then got up and left.”

11 – ‘Umar bin Muhammad bin Ahmad recited:

You are in a state of heedlessness and false hope * You do now know when your end will come;

Do not be deceived by good health * For it is from the most painful of flaws;

Every soul has for its day * An awakening to cut off its incessant hope;

So, do that which is good and exert yourself * Before you are unable to do anything…

12 – ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Ash’ari al-Madini recited:

If yesterday you fell into a mistake * Then find some good to perform while you are thankful;

And do not delay a good deed from today to tomorrow * Tomorrow might arrive while you are deprived;

Because if you take care of today, it will benefit you * And days gone by will never return…