Siblings Of Ilm
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Excerpts from: ‘Portraits from the Lives of the Tabi`īn’ by Abd al-Rahmān Al-Bāshā (رح)

Suwar min Hayātit Tabi`īn: A book, written by Shaykh ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān al-Bāshā (رح), that narrates varied anecdotes from the life of 30 tabiʿūn, many of whom have been portrayed in voluminous compilations. Below are some motivational excerpts from the lives of several remarkably outstanding tabi`īn from whose lives we can take lessons from.

[`Atā bin Abī Rabāh (رح) Pg. 13]

▪️Fulfilling Huqūq Allāh and Huqūq al-`Ibād

A slave to a Makkan woman, he fulfilled the rights of Allah  ﷻ and `Ibād by dividing his time into 3 parts: 1) A portion to serve to the needs of his masteress; 2) A portion for his Maker, in which he would engage in worship; 3) A portion for seeking `ilm, in which he would turn to those left from the companions of Rasūl Allah ﷺ.

[`Āmir bin `Abd Allah (رح) Pg. 27]

▪️Importance of maintaining a schedule throughout your – life.

`Āmir bin`Abd Allah stayed in the company of Abu Mūsa al-Ash`arī and gained knowledge from him. Once he felt content, he divided his life into three parts: 1) A portion for spending in the circles of zikr 2) A portion for spending time in solitude engaged in the remembrance of Allah ﷻ and 3) a third for fighting in Allah’s cause.

[Muhammad bin Sirīn (رح) – Pg.131]

He had also divided his day into 2 parts. A portion for `ilm & `ibādah and another for earning and business. From dawn until midday, he would stay occupied in the musjid of Basra, teaching, and advising. Afterwards, he’d busy himself in trade and earning his living. Then at night, he would once again busy himself in `ibādah.

▪️ And He  ﷻ has appointed the night for resting [6:96]

`Āmir bin `Abd Allah made 3 supplications, of which, two were accepted and one was rejected. He asked Allah ﷻ to drive away sleep from him i.e. Make it possible for him to not sleep and engage in gaining `ilm, and it was rejected. We understand the significance that lies in fulfilling the right that one’s body and soul have upon one by sleeping, even if it may little.

[Rabī`ah al-Ra’y (رح) Pg. 143]

▪️`ilm and relaxedness cannot assemble.

He would tire himself throughout the nights and days until he was overcome by exhaustion. He was advised to be gentle towards himself, to which he said: “`Ilm won’t give you some of itself unless you give  it your all”

[Hasan al-Basrī (رح) Pg. 101]

▪️Qualities of a Muslim, a person of knowledge in particular.

When Khalid bin Safwān was asked regarding Hasan al-Basrī, he said: 1) He was in privacy the way he was in public. 2) His actions matched his words. 3) When he advised something, he would be the one who acted upon it the most. 4) When he admonished an act, he would be the most far from it. 5) He was independent of others. 6) The people would flock towards him, seeking that which was with him i.e. `ilm.

▪️Working for the ākhirah – the everlasting abode.

He was asked to describe the dunyā, to which he answered: “You ask me with regards to the dunyā and ākhirah! Surely, the example of the dunyā and ākhirah is like that of the East and the West. Once you’ve gained proximity to either one, you’ve distanced yourself from the other.”

(He further says) “And you ask me to describe this worldly dwelling! It isn’t but a place of which the beginning is exhaustion and the ending is but an utter destruction. There’s reckoning in its lawful and punishment in its unlawful, whoever does without (keeps himself away from the world) will succeed, and whoever falls into it, has fallen into grief.

[Āmir bin Shurahbīl (رح) Pg. 183]

▪️Repaying evil with good.

Through `ilm, he had embraced a lot of forbearance. He was once slapped very hard and  cursed harshly to which he simply responded: “If you’re correct due to which you’ve acted this way with me then may Allah  ﷻforgive me,  and if you’re wrong, then may Allah  ﷻ forgive you.”


His level of humility [tawādhu`] was such that he would feel embarrassed if he were ever addressed with the title of ‘`ālim’. He was once called ‘al-Faqīh al-`Ālim’ to which he proclaimed: “Wayhaq! Do not exceed in attributing us with what we’re not. A Faqīh is someone who is conscious of Allah’s lawful and unlawful and an `Ālim is one who fears Allah  ﷻ. How close are we to any of these?!

[Rajā’ bin Haywah (رح)]

▪️Maintaining a reposeful attitude when preaching.

Once he was present in the gathering of the Caliphate `Abd al-Malik bin Marwān when the caliphate was being notified of someone who supported his rival and would help him. The caliphate, furious, intended on killing the man who supported his rival. It so happened that after a short while the caliphate saw the man and intended to harm him when Rajā’ bin Haywah stood up, went to the caliphate and remarked: “Oh Amīr al-Mu’minīn, Allah  ﷻhas made it possible for you to obtain what you like from power, so do for Allah  ﷻ’a sake what He  ﷻ likes from forgiveness”. The caliphate become silent, cooled down and forgave the man.

[`Umar bin Abd al-Aziz (رح)]

▪️criticism is a blessing: in which the khalīfah asked Ziyād al-Makhzūmī in distress: “Do you see that which ʿUmar is afflicted with?” And Ziyād wished him khayr but the khalīfah deemed this khayr far and cried relentlessly for he was granted a position in which he “could imprecate, or hit, or hurt anyone but nobody could do the same to” him.

[Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyyah (رح)]

▪️do not associate with trivial disputes amongst the Ummah; in which the son of ʿAlī (رض) refused to take an oath of allegiance with either of ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān and ʿAbd Allah ibn az-Zubayr until the Muslims agreed on one khalīfah. He feared the possibility of beyʿah obligating him to oppose another group of Muslims, merely over a dispute of leadership, in a repetition of the Battle of Ṣiffīn.

[Tā’ūs bin Kaisān (رح)]

▪️caution in setting an example as an influential individual: in which he wordlessly refused governor Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf’s expensive gift at a gathering, hence angering him. After leaving the gathering, Ṭāūs’s companion asked: Would it have hurt to accept the gift, then sell it and distribute the money amongst the poor? Ṭāūs responded: You’re right, but I feared that scholars after me will accept because I did, then not give it to charity.

▪️he believed duʿāt should take advantage of every opportunity to call towards Allah. And that the best truth is said to guide a leader, prevent him from injustice, and bring him closer to Allah.

▪️in which he turned away and refused to meet an ʿāmil who was known for challenging the truth and involving in falsehood. Seeing this, Ṭāūs’s son greeted him and sought to excuse his father. Later, Ṭāūs scolded his son for this, saying: “Fool, you harshly condemn them in their absence yet approach them for conversation? Hypocrisy is precisely this!”

▪️in which he advised ʿAṭāʾ ibn Abī Rabāḥ (رح) against seeking help from he who keeps his doors shut and employs doormen. Rather, seek from He whose doors are always wide open for you, who urged you to ask and promised fulfillment.

▪️attribution to company:
in which he advised his son: “Adopt intelligent company so you may be regarded as such although you aren’t. And avoid the ignorant to avoid being attributed to them. Everything has a purpose and the purpose of man is to fulfill his religion and better his manners.”

▪️in which he summarized the contents of the four divine books as: to fear Allah greater than anything else, to beseech him with hope greater than fear, to desire for people what you would love for yourself.

[Qāsim bin Muhammad (رح)]

▪️upbringing: in which the grandson of Abū Bakr (رض) relates: when my father was martyred in Egypt, my uncle ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān (رض) took my sister and I back to Madīnah. There, my aunt ʿĀishah (رض) brought us up in her care. I’d never seen a mother or father more kind or compassionate than her. She’d feed us with her hands, and herself only eat if food remained after us. She’d bathe us, comb our hair, and dress us in white. She’d always advise and train us to do good and leave wrong. She was keen to teach us from the Qur’ān and Aḥādīth what we could understand. On Eids, she would hand us out gifts in abundance. The evening of 9th Dhul Ḥijjah, she would shave my head, and bathe us and in the morning, dress us in new clothes and send us for Eid prayers. When we’d return, she would gather us and perform the Qurbānī.

[Silah bin Ashyam (رح)]

▪️he was consistent with his worship routine, whether traveling or occupied or not. Once on the way to battle, he sacrificed a full night of rest for worship, yet to the onlooker it would seem from his state that he was well-rested.

▪️advise kindly [1]: in which is narrated that on his way to the jungle for solitude, he would often pass by a group of youngsters playing. Every time, after a warm greeting he would seek their opinion about a group that set out for an important journey but stop during the day for enjoyment and rest at night. Eventually, one of them realized that Ṣilah was indirectly advising them and rectified his ways by adopting the scholar’s company till last breath.

▪️advise kindly [2]: in which he and his companions noticed a youngster had left his trousers below his ankles as do the arrogant. His companions considered harsh discipline but instead, Ṣilah approached him and said with the kindness of a father figure: “Son, I need something from you. That you raise your trousers; it is an act of cleanliness, fear of God, and a sunnah.” Ashamed, the youngster added, “and pleasant to the eye” and raised his trousers. Ṣilah said to his companions: “Such an approach is better. If you had hit or cursed him, he would’ve returned the favor but the trousers would’ve remained trailing the floor.

▪️cut comfort to avoid sleep: in which is mentioned that his cousin, eventually wife, would opt for light clothing in winters too so the cold would prevent her from deep sleep and skipping worship.

[Rafi` bin Mihrān (رح)]

▪️in which he, at the time a slave, and others complained to the Companions (رض) of the difficulty in working during the day and completing a full Qurʾān every night. They were advised to complete a full recital every week instead.

▪️he would travel long distances to pray behind knowledgeable individuals. If he noticed their ṣalāh was not perfect, he would turn back, thinking: one who is lenient with his ṣalāh is inevitably more carefree in other matters.

▪️in which he mentioned that purity is not acquired from filth with water, rather from sins with taqwa.

[al-Ahnaf bin Qays (رح)]

▪️in which he referred a wise statement he heard from ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (رض): who jokes is belittled; who increases in something is known by it; who talks much errs much, more errors less shame, as shame decreases so does the fear of God until eventually the heart dies.

▪️in which he mentioned that the person with religion, nobility, intelligence/wisdom, and shame will lead his people without opposition.

[Abū Hanīfah al-Nu`mān (رح)]

▪️he would be recognized by his perfume.

▪️despite the generous stipends for scholars in that era, he considered self-earning the purer and more honorable approach, hence having a fixed time for his clothing business, which was very successful. At the end of the year, he would subtract an amount for personal expenses and purchase necessities for scholars and students with the rest. He would give each of them cash too, saying: “this is not from my own wealth, rather Allah has granted it to you through me; nobody has power regarding the rizq of Allah except Him.”

▪️whenever he’d spend on himself or his family, he’d spend an equivalent amount on the needy.

▪️giving up habits: in which he promised himself, if he ever took an oath by Allah, he would give a gold dīnār in charity.

▪️explain: in which he approached a man known to accuse ʿUthmān (رض) of converting to Judaism after Islam, and presented to him a marriage offer for his daughter. He described the khaṭīb with all the qualitiesʿUthmān (رض) possessed, and the man was very pleased. But when the imām added, “except he is a Jew”, he immediately refused. The imām asked: “Yet you think the Prophetﷺ would marry two of his daughters to a “Jew”?” And so the man repented.

Written by Bint Muslima (@thehadithdisciple via instagram) and Mariyam H (@attalibah via instagram)

Siblings of 'ilm

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