Al-Ḥasan Al-Baṣrī

Knowledge transforms the student

Al-Hasan Al-Basrī – Allah have mercy on him – said:

When a man sought knowledge, it would not be long before it could be seen in his humbleness, his sight, upon his tongue and his hands, in his prayer, in his speech and in his disinterest (zuhd) in worldly allurements. And a man would acquire a portion of knowledge and put it into practice, and it would be better for him than the world and all it contains – if he owned it he would give it in exchange for the hereafter.

Ibn Al-Mubārak, Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqā`iq Vol.1 p.156.

Until the Heart is sealed

Explanation of the verse:

Nay, but their hearts were covered over by what (sins) they earned. [Al-Mutaffifīn: 14]

Al-Hasan (Al-Basrī) said, “It is because of doing one sin after another, until the heart becomes blind and dies.”

Qatādah also said, “It is because of doing one sin after another, one sin after another, until the heart dies and becomes black.”

Ibn Zayd said, “Their sins overcome their hearts until no good can get through to them.”

Mujāhid explained, “They used to consider the heart like a hand: when a person sins, his heart starts to scrunch up,” and he folded his little finger, “and when he does another sin,” he folded the next finger and continued until he had his fist clenched. “Then a seal is placed over it, and they used to say that this is the ‘covering’.”

Al-Tabarī in his Tafsīr, Sūrah Al-Mutaffifīn.

Sunnah, Bid’ah and Arabic

ʿAbdullah b. Zayd Al-Numayrī reports that Al-Ḥasan Al-Baṣrī said:

They (the heretics) were destroyed by their inability in Arabic (al-‘ujmah).

Al-Bukhārī, Al-Tārīkh Al-Kabīr Vol.5 p99.

And Imām Al-Shāfi’ī said:

People didn’t become ignorant and didn’t differ amongst themselves except because they left Arabic and leaned towards the language of Aristotle.

Quoted by Al-Suyūṭī in Ṣawn Al-Manṭiq p15. He said on p22:

I have found Salaf before Al- Shāfi’ī indicate what he did: that the cause of heresy (al-ibtidā’) is ignorance of Arabic language.

A Realistic Faith

Al-Ḥasan Al-Baṣrī – Allah have mercy on him – said:

Faith (īmān) is not by embellishment or wishful thinking, but it is what settles in the heart and is verified through your works. Whoever says good but does not do good will have his words compared to his deeds by Allah. Whoever says good and does good will have his words raised by his deeds. This is because Allah ‘azza wa jalla said:

To Him ascends the good word, and the righteous deed raises it. [Sūrah Fāṭir: 10]

Ibn Battah in Al-Ibānah Al-Kubrā Vol. 3 p120, and Al-Khaṭīb Al-Baghdādī in Iqtiḍā’ Al-‘Ilm Al-‘Amal no.56.

Loftier Goals in Life

Commenting on 2:201 of the Quran which states:

Our Lord! Give us the good of this world and the good of the hereafter…

Al-Hasan Al-Baṣrī – Allah have mercy on him – said:

The good of this world is knowledge and worship, and the good of the hereafter is Paradise.

Al-Ājurrī in Akhlāq Al-‘Ulamā’ no. 30 and Ibn Jarīr in his Tafsīr of this verse.

Scholars of tafsīr like Ibn Jarīr and Ibn Kathīr point out that ‘the good of this world’ is general and includes all those things which have been allowed for us to enjoy and which are considered useful by people for day-to-day living. And they point out that above this; the good of this world includes those things which will lead to success in the hereafter. This narration reminds us of these loftier things we should ask Allah for, and that the good of this life embraces what is required or recommended for a worshipper of Allah to acquire on this Earth, like knowledge of his religion and good deeds.