Sufyān Al-Thawrī

When the Sinful and the Rabble Take Knowledge

ʿAbdullāh b. Masʿūd – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

The people will not cease to be well as long as they take knowledge from their seniors. When they take it from their juniors and their bad people, they will be destroyed.

Ibn ʿAbd Al-Barr, Jāmiʿ Bayān Al-ʿIlm article 1057.

Al-Firyābī reports:

When Sufyān [Al-Thawrī] would see these rabble writing knowledge his face would change (in anger). So I asked him, ‘O Abū ʿAbdillāh, we notice that when you see these people writing knowledge, it is hard upon you.’ He replied, ‘Knowledge used to be with the Arabs and with the leaders of the people, but when it left them and went to these types – meaning the rabble of society – the religion was changed.’

Op. cit. article 1072.

Why is Knowledge Learned?

It is reported that Sufyān Al-Thawrī – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

Knowledge is only learned to [apply it and] put into practice the Taqwā of Allāh the mighty and sublime.

Abū Bakr Al-Daynūrī, Al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir Al-ʿIlm article 943.

The Behavior of The Seeker of Knowledge

It is reported that ʿAlī – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

When you learn knowledge, preserve it, and do not mix it with laughter and falsehood, such that the hearts refuse (dislike) it.

Al-Khaṭīb Al-Baghdādī, Al-Jāmiʿ li-Akhlāq Al-Rāwī wa Ādāb Al-Sāmiʿ 1:232

It is reported that Mālik – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

It is upon whoever seeks knowledge to have a solemn, dignified demeanour, fearful [of Allāh]; and to follow in the footsteps of those who went before him.

ibid.

ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān b. Mahdī reports:

A man laughed in [the circle of] Hishām Al-Dustawāʾī, so Hishām said to him, “Young man! You seek knowledge laughing?” He replied, “Is it not Allāh who makes [us] laugh and cry (as stated in the Qurʾān)?” So Hishām replied, “Then go and cry.”

Op. cit. 233

Ismāʿīl b. Yaḥyā reports:

Sufyān once saw me joking with a man from Banī Shaybah at the House (Kaʿbah). I laughed, so he said to me, “You laugh here? A man used to hear a single ḥadīth and its demeanour and guidance would be seen on him for three days.”

Op. cit. 234

The Influence of Companionship

It is reported that Sufyān Al-Thawrī – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

There is nothing that corrupts a person or rectifies him more than [his] companion.

Ibn Battah, Al-Ibānah Al-Kubrā article 504.

Studying Manners

It is reported that Abū Bakr Al-Maṭū’ī said:

I sat in the circle of Abū ‘Abdillāh Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal for twelve years while he read the Musnad to his children, and I never wrote a single ḥadīth, I only looked at his behavior, character and etiquette.

Ibn Al-Jawzī, Manāqib Aḥmad, article 210.

It is reported that Al-Ḥasan b. Ismā’īl said, ‘I heard my father say:

There would gather in the circle of Aḥmad five thousand people or more; less than five hundred would write, the rest would learn from him good manners and behavior.’

Ibid.

It is reported that Sufyān Al-Thawrī said:

A man who wanted to write ḥadīth would [learn] manners and worship for twenty years before starting.

Abū Nu’aym, Ḥilyatu Al-Awliyā`, 6:361.