worship

Ignorance and the Sword

It is reported that Al-Ḥasan Al-Baṣrī – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

One who acts without knowledge is like one who travels off the path; and the one who acts without knowledge corrupts more than he rectifies. So seek knowledge in a way that does not harm your worship, and seek to worship [Allāh] in a way that does not harm [your seeking of] knowledge. For verily, there were people (the Khawārij extremists) who sought to worship [Allāh] but abandoned knowledge until they attacked the Ummah of Muḥammad – Allāh’s praise and peace be upon him – with their swords. But if they had sought knowledge, it would not have directed them to do what they did.

Quoted by Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr, Jāmi’ Bayān Al-‘Ilm wa Falihi article 905.

The Best of then and Now

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

Those who strive and exert themselves (al-mujtahid) amongst you today are like those who used to play around amongst those before you.

Wakī’ b. Al-Jarrāh, Al-Zuhd article 221.

Umar and the Black Stone

Al-Bukhārī reports that ʿUmar – Allāh be pleased with him – came to the Black Stone (performing ṭawāf, circumambulation), kissed it, and said, “I know that you are a stone, you do not cause benefit or harm; and if it were not that I had seen Allāh’s Messenger – peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him – kiss you, I would never have kissed you.”

Al-Bukhārī, Al-Ṣaḥīḥ, Chapter on what has been said about the Black Stone.

Points to note

· The illustrious Companion and Caliph ʿUmar reminded us in this narration of the pure belief that benefit and harm are not caused by created objects and thus should not be sought from them. Only Allāh has control over these things.

· We are reminded that acts of worship are taken from Allāh’s Messenger, and a person is not supposed to make up his own way of worship, he must follow the manner of worship that the Prophet taught and practiced.

· We also learn that once an action is confirmed in the Sunnah, the believer submits and complies and practices it because it is confirmed that Allāh’s Messenger did it, even if we don’t know the wisdom behind it.

· This narration is also an example of how a responsible person tries to clarify and do away with any misunderstandings that people may have about matters of faith. The people had recently left their unbelief and polytheism, so ʿUmar wanted to make it clear that kissing the Black Stone is by no means done as an act of devotion to it, as people used to do with their stone idols.

Adapted from Ibn Ḥajr, Fatḥ Al-Bārī, and other ḥadīth commentaries.

Secret Devotion

It is reported that Shurayḥ the Judge used to have a house in which he would spend time alone on Fridays; no one knew what he did in it.

Al-Dhahabī, Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā` Vol.4 p105.

It is reported that Abū Al-‘Āliyah said, “I learned writing and the Qur`ān without my family noticing, and not a drop of ink was ever seen on my garment.”

Abū Nu’aym, Ḥilyatu Al-Awliyā` Vol. 2 p217.

It is reported that when Ibn Abī Laylā prayed [at night], if someone entered [his house], he would lie down on his bed [as if he was sleeping].

Ibid. Vol. 4 p351.

It is reported that Ayyūb Al-Sakhtiyānī used to pray all night and hide it. In the morning, he would raise his voice as if he had just woken up.

Al-Dhahabī, op. cit. Vol. 6 p17.

It is reported that Dāwūd b. Abī Hind fasted for forty years without his family knowing, he would take his lunch out with him and donate it in the street.

Ibid. Vol. 6 p378.

Two Requirements for Knowledge

It is reported that Al-Sha’bī said, “The only people who used to seek this knowledge were those who combined two characteristics: intelligence and devout worship. If a person was intelligent but not devout, it would be said that only the worshippers can attain this [knowledge], and so he would not try to seek it. And if a person was devout, but not intelligent, it would be said that only the intelligent can attain this [knowledge], and so he would not try to seek it.” Al-Sha’bī continued, “And I fear that today, people who are neither intelligent nor devout try to seek it.”

Ibn Ḥibbān Al-Bustī, Rawḍatu Al-‘Uqalā` wa Nuzhatu Al-Fuḍalā` Vol.1 p9.