Less Friends, Less Trouble!

A nice reminder I received in email:


Sufyaan ath-Thawri (may Allaah have mercy on him) said that one foolishly compromised one’s religion when one kept too many friends. Having too many acquaintances diverts one from one’s duty towards one’s Lord, for a person who has many friends is always busy socializing with them and fulfilling their rights over him; so he becomes preoccupied with people when he really should be preoccupied with his religious duties. The ill-effects of being too gregarious can last well beyond a social gathering. Sufyaan said, “I might meet a brother and as a result, remain heedless (of what I should be doing) for an entire month.”

A friend, Sufyaan insisted, should be someone who helps one to improve as a Muslim; otherwise he is not worth keeping as a friend. Sufyaan expressed this sentiment when he said, “If someone is not with you, then he is against you.”

And Yousuf ibn Asbaat reported that he heard Sufyaan ath-Thawri say, “Whenever I spoke contrary to the desires of any man, he, regardless of who he was, would inevitably become furious with me. The people of knowledge and piety have departed.”

Sufyaan once advised someone to test the character of the person he wanted to befriend. Sufyaan said, “Choose whoever you want as your companion. But when you have made your choice, make him angry, and then order someone to go and ask him what he thinks about you-without him knowing that you sent that person.”

Bakr ibn Muhammad Al-‘Aabid related that Sufyaan ath-Thawri once said to him, “Direct me to a man with whom I can keep company.” Sufyaan said, “You are searching for something that cannot be found.”

Khalf ibn Ismaa’eel Al-Barzaanee reported that he heard Sufyaan ath-Thawri said, “Acquaint yourself with fewer people, and as a result, you will backbite less (frequently) .”

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“Why are you so weak and small?”

Some people cannot have patience without struggling and facing many difficulties. Others are able to have patience easily. The first type is like a man who wrestles with a strong man and cannot beat him without the utmost effort. The second type is like a man who wrestles with a weak man and beats him easily. Such is the war between the soldiers of ar-Rahman and the soldiers of Shaytan. Whoever defeats the soldiers of Shaytan can defeat Shaytan himself. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud narrated: “A man wrestled with one of the jinn and beat him, then asked, ‘Why are you so weak and small?’ The jinn answered, ‘I am very big and strong compared to the rest of the jinn.’” Someone asked ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, “Was that man ‘Umar? and he replied, “Who else could it have been?”

Some of the Sahabah said: “A believer whips the Shaytan the way a person whips his camel when he is traveling.”

Ibn Abi’d-Dunya narrated from some of the salaf that one shaytan met with another, and asked him why he was so thin. The other shaytan replied, “Because I am with a man who mentions the name of Allaah when he eats, so I cannot eat with him, and he mentions the name of Allaah when he drinks, so I cannot drink with him. When he enters his home he mentions the name of Allaah, so I stay outside. The first shaytan said, “But I am with a man who does not mention the name of Allaah when he eats, so I eat with him. He does not mention the name of Allaah when he drinks, so I drink with him. When he enters his home he does not mention the name of Allaah, so I enter with him.”

So whoever develops, the habit of patience is feared by his enemies, and whoever finds patience difficult is in danger, as his enemy will readily dare to attack him and do him harm.

Taken from the book called Patience and Gratitude by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah pg. 15 & 16

Life’s Index Cards

A thought provoking piece I came across when digging through some old files.


In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in
a room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one
wall covered with small indexcard files. They were like the ones
in libraries that list titles by author or subject in
alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor
to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very
different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first
to catch my attention was one that read “People I Have Liked”. I
opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut
it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on
each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog
system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every
moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A
sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred
within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their
content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of
shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder
to see if anyone was watching.

A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have
Betrayed”. The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright
weird. “Books I Have Read”, “Lies I Have Told”, “Comfort I Have
Given”, “Jokes I Have Laughed At”. Some were almost hilarious
in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others
I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”, “Things I
Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents”. I never ceased to
be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards
than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived.
Could it be possible that I had the time in my 30 years to write
each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card
confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting.
Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To”, I
realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards
were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t
found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the
quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew
that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts”, I felt a chill
run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not
willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at
its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment
had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my
mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see
this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I
yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty
it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began
pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I
became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as
strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly
helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead
against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.

And then I saw it.

The title bore “People that I Have Taught About Allah”. The
handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused.
I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three
inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it
contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the
hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my
knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming
shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my
tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room.

I must lock it up and hide the key.

A beautiful story of patience

A beautiful and inspiring account of patience and trust in Allaah, translated by our brother Abu Sabaya [fakAllaahu asra]:

One of the wise men of the past said:

“I passed by a village in Egypt seeking to engage in Ribat (guarding the Muslim frontier against the disbelievers), when suddenly I passed by a man in sitting in the dark. He was missing his eyes, as well as his hands and legs. He was suffering all types of difficulty, while saying: “Praise be to You, Allah – a praising that combines the praises of all of Your Creation – for what You have blessed me with, and preferred me greatly over many of those whom You have Created.”

So, I said to him: “For what blessing are you praising Allah? For what preference are you thanking Him for? By Allah, I do not see any type of difficulty except that you are experiencing it!”

So, he said: “Do you not see what has happened to me? By Allah, if He were to cause the heavens to rain fire down upon me, and I were to be burned up because of it, and He were to command the mountains to crush me, and He were to command the oceans to drown me, I would not increase except in praising and thanks to Him, and I request something of you: I have a daughter who used to serve me and break my fast with me. Can you see if you can find her?”

I said to myself: “By Allah, I hope that in fulfilling the request of this pious servant, I will gain nearness to Allah – the Mighty and Majestic.” So, I went out looking for her in the desert to discover that she had been eaten by wild beasts. I said to myself: “To Allah we belong and to Him we return! How will I tell this pious servant that his daughter had died?” So, I went to him and asked him: “Are you better in the Sight of Allah than Prophet Ayyub? Allah put him to trial with his wealth and his children and family.”

He replied: “No, rather, Ayyub is better!”

I said: “Well, the daughter that you had asked me to find, I found that she has been eaten by wild beasts.”

He said: “Praise be to Allah who has taken me out of this World without putting in my heart any love for it.” Then he collapsed and died.

I said: “To Allah we belong and to Him we return! Who will help me to wash his body and bury it?” Suddenly, a group of horsemen engaging in Ribat passed by, so I motioned for them to stop. They came over, so I informed them of what had happend, so we washed the man’s body, shrouded it and buried it in this village, and the group of men then went on their way.

I spent the night in the village unable to leave this man. When a third of the night had passed, I began dreaming that I was with him in a green garden. He was wearing two beautiful green garments, and he was standing up and reciting the Qur’an. I said to him: “Are you not my companion from yesterday?”

He said: “Yes, I am.”

I said: “How did you reach your current state (of health and happiness)?”

He replied:“I have reached a level that none of the patient reach, except those who are patient during times of calamity and thankful during times of ease.””

[‘Sifat as-Safwah’; 2/452]

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Wisdoms from Imaam Ahmad

“For everything there is a blessing; the blessing of the hearts is being pleased with Allaah, the Almighty, the All-Powerful.” [al-Manaaqib – Ibn al-Jawzi; pg 276]

`Ali al-Madeeni said: “Oh Abu `Abdullaah! Is there anything you would advise me to do?” He said: “Yes, make piety your provision and make the goal before you the Hereafter.” [Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah; vol. 1, pg. 226]

When his son `Abdullaah asked him: “Advise me, O my father,” he said to him: “Oh my son! Intend good, for you will continue to be in good stead as long as you intend good.” [al-Manaaqib – Ibn al-Jawzi; pg 274]

Regarding nobility, Imaam Ahmad said: “It is to abandon that which you desire for the sake of that which you fear.” [al-Manaaqib – Ibn al-Jawzi; pg 272]

In dealing with others

“Patience in the face of others’ insolence is of three kinds: patience with someone who has power over you when you have none over him; patience with someone you have power over when he has none over you; finally patience with someone when neither of you has power over the other. The first kind is humiliating and degrading; it is not a virtue. The advice for someone who is afraid of such an intolerable situation would be to abandon everything and run away. The second kind is a virtue, it is charitable, it is the true meekness which characterizes virtuous souls. The third sort consists of two kinds. The insolence may arise from a misunderstanding or from fear, and the one at fault may realize the ugliness of his act and regret it. To be patient with him would be a virtue and an obligation; this is true magnanimity. But with a person who overestimates his own value and is proud and arrogant and feels no regret for his action, to tolerate this is humiliating, it encourages the wrongdoer in his wrongdoing, because he will act even more violently and it would be stupid to respond in the same way. The wisest course of action is to let him know that you could fight back but that you are refraining from doing so because he is beneath contempt and unworthy of your attention. No more is necessary. As for the insolent behavior of the lower classes, the only remedy is to punish it.”

– Ibn Hazm, al-Akhlaq wal-Siyar.

Longing of the Strangers..

Abu Sulaiman Ad-Darani used to say concerning their [strangers] attributes:

“Their longing is not like the longing of the people. And their desire is for the Hereafter contrary to the desires of the people. And their supplication is not like the supplication of the people.”

And he (rahimahullaah) was once asked concerning what the best of deeds was, so he began to weep and said: “It is that He takes over your heart and so you are not seen wanting from this world or the next one, anything other than Him.”

Al-Hasan (rahimahullaah) said: “The believer in this world is like the stranger. He does not become upset when it degrades him, nor does he compete with others with regard to what it gives of honor. For him is a condition and for the people are a condition.”

Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said:

“So rush to the Gardens of Eden for indeed
it is your original home, and in it is a place of rest.
However, we are in the captivity of the enemy, so don’t you see?
Shall we return to our homes and find peace?
And it has been determined that when the stranger is far away
and his home has disappeared, then he is lost.
So what type of strangeness is greater than our strangeness
which the enemies amongst us have manifested?”

`Ali (radiyAllaahu `anh) said about strangers:

“And how many of them are there? Where are they? I swear by Allaah, they are the fewest in number, yet the greatest in stature in the sight of Allaah. Allaah preserves His evidences and manifest proofs through them until their likes desist from it and plant it into the hearts of those similar to them…

…They accompany the world with their bodies while their souls are drawn towards the great abode. They are Allaah’s aides on His earth and the callers towards His Religion..”

He also said:

“Tooba [good final state] is for every servant who does not know the people nor do the people know him, yet Allaah knows him, to Himself, being well pleased (with him).  These are the stars of guidance. Every darkening evil has been removed from them.”

Taken from Kashf-ul-Kurbah fi wasfi Haali Ahlil-Ghurbah by Ibn Rajab.

Protection from 3

عن أبي مسعود الأنصاري رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

مَنْ قَرَأَ بِالآيَتَيْنِ مِنْ آخِرِ سُورَةِ الْبَقَرَةِ فِي لَيْلَةٍ كَفَتَاهُ

متفق عليه

 

It is narrated from Abu Masood AlAnsari that the Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said,

“Whoever recites the last two ayat of Soorah Baqarah at night, the two ayat will suffice for him/her”.


[Reported by Bukhari and Muslim]


Vocabulary from the Hadeeth

قَرَأَ (qara’aa) – to read.
آخِر (aakhir) – the end.
لَيْلَة (laylah) – night. ‏ ‏

كَفَتَاهُ (kafataahu) – the two will suffice him. A synonym for كفى in Arabic is أغنى.

Lessons from the Hadith

– Imam An-Nawawi explains in the Explanation of Sahih Muslim,

“It is said the recitation of these two ayat will (with the permission of Allaah):

1) suffice the reciter from praying qiyamul layl (night prayer),
2) protect him from Shaitaan,
3) protect him from calamities.

All these meanings/explanations are applicable together as well”.