ʿAbdullāh b. Al-Mubārak

The Best Things a Person Can be Given

It is reported from Ḥabīb Al-Jallāb that he asked ʿAbdullāh b. Al-Mubārak – Allāh have mercy on him:

“What is the best thing a person is ever given?” He replied, “Innate intelligence.” He then asked, “And if not that?” He replied, “Good conduct.” He then asked, “And if not that?” He replied, “A compassionate brother to consult.” He then asked, “And if not that?” He replied, “Long silence.” He asked, “And if not that?” Ibn Al-Mubārak replied, “Then an early death.”

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar ʾAʿlām Al-Nubalāʾ 8:397.

Required Learning [What is a Muslim Required to Study?]

It is reported that Hasan b. Rabī’ asked ‘Abdullāh b. Al-Mubārak – Allāh have mercy on him – about the meaning of the hadith, “Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim”. He replied:

It is not [the expert knowledge of hadith and fiqh] you are seeking. Seeking knowledge is an obligation when a man comes to something concerning his religion (dīn): he is to ask about it until he knows it.

Al-Khatīb Al-Baghdādī, Al-Faqīh wa Al-Mutafaqqih article 162.

It is reported that ‘Alī b. Al-Hasan b. Shaqīq asked ‘Abdullāh b. Al-Mubārak – Allāh have mercy on him, “What knowledge is considered obligatory upon people to learn?” He replied:

A man must not proceed to do anything except upon knowledge, He is to ask and learn. This is what is obligatory upon people as regards learning knowledge.

He explained further:

If there is a man who has no wealth, it is not obligatory upon him to learn Zakāh. When he has 200 dirham, it becomes obligatory upon him to learn how much (Zakāh) he has to pay, when he has to pay, and who he has to pay. This is also the way with everything else.

Al-Baghdādī, op. cit. article 163.

It is reported that Ibn Wahb once mentioned knowledge, to which Imām Mālik – Allāh have mercy on him – commented:

Knowledge is surely good, but look to what is binding upon you from the beginning of your day to its end, and from the end of your day to the following morning, adhere to that and do not give preference to [learning] anything else.

Al-Baghdādī, op. cit. article 165.

It is reported from ‘Abdullāh b. Ahmad b. Hanbal that he asked his father (Imām Ahmad) – Allāh have mercy on him – whether it is obligatory upon a man to seek knowledge. He replied:

As for [the knowledge] through which he can uphold his prayers, and other matters of his religion like fasting, Zakāh – and he mentioned the other main aspects of the religion – then a man should know about that.

Al-Baghdādī, op. cit. article 166.

From the Beauty of Knowledge

It is reported that Imām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

Al-Shāfi’ī saw me sitting in his circle, and there was some ink on my shirt I was trying to hide. He said, “Young man, why are you hiding it? Having ink on ones clothes is a sign of lofty conduct: to the sight it is black, but to the insight it is white (with the light of knowledge).”

It is reported that ‘Abdullāh b. Al-Mubārak – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

Ink on the clothes is the perfume of the scholars.

– Some put this in verse (from Arabic):

The ink-pot’s ink is the perfume of men
As saffron is the perfume of women
So the former befits the garments of those men
As the latter the garments of wives

It is reported that Imām Aḥmad said, seeing the students of ḥadīth approaching with their ink-pots:

These are the lanterns of Islām.

Al-Khaṭīb Al-Baghdādī, Al-Jāmi’ li-Akhlāq Al-Rāwī, articles 508, 509, 512 .

Some of the Best and Worst People in Society

It is reported that Imām ‘Abdullāh b. Al-Mubārak – Allāh have mercy on him – was asked:
“Who are the [best] people?”
He replied, “The scholars.”
He was asked, “Who are the [real] kings?”
He replied, “the ascetics.”
He was asked, “And who are the dregs [of society]?”
He replied, “Those who use their religion as a means of devouring [wealth].”
He was asked, “Who are the rabble?”
He replied, “Khuzaymah b. Khāzim and his companions.”
And he was asked, “And who is the low person?”
He replied, “The one who talks about the rise in prices to his guest.”

Abū Bakr Al-Daynūrī, Al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir Al-‘Ilm 2:181.

Who can give a Fatwa?

It is reported that Imām Mālik – Allāh have mercy on him – was asked, “Who is allowed to give religious rulings (fatwā)? He replied:

Issuing fatwā is not allowed except for a person who knows what the people have differed in. It was said, ‘Do you mean the different views of the people of opinions (those who depend more on analogy and speculation)? He replied, “No, [I mean] the different views of the Companions of Muḥammad – Allāh’s praise and peace be upon him. And he must also know the textual evidence that abrogates [other rulings] and that which is abrogated [by other texts], both in the Quran and the ḥadīth of Allah’s Messenger – Allāh’s praise and peace be upon him. Such a person can issue fatāwā.

Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr, Jāmi’ Bayān Al-‘Ilm wa Faḍlihī article 1529.

It is reported that ‘Abdullāh b. Al-Mubārak – Allāh have mercy on him – was asked, “When can a person issue an edict (fatwā)?” He replied, “When he is knowledgeable about the narrations (hadith and traditions of the Salaf), and has insight into [juristic] opinion.

Ibid. article 1532.