Friday, December 7, 2007

Gems of Wisdom

Hatim Al-Asam was among the friends of Shaqiq Al-Balkhi. One day Shaqiq asked Hatim "You have kept my company for thirty years, what have you gained in the course of these years?" Hatim replied: "I have gained eight benefits. I hope my salvation and safety are embodied in them. Shaqiq asked Hatim to mention them.

Hatim Al-Asam said:

The first benefit: I observed the creation and saw that everyone had loved one another and passionately desired whom he loved and longed for. Some of the beloved accompany sent the lover up to the brink of sickness and death and others to the gate of the graveyard. All of them return and leave them alone. No one goes into the coffin with them. I looked into the matter and said to myself: 'The best beloved is that which would enter the tomb with the lover to console him'. I found it to be nothing else than good works, so I took this as my beloved, to illuminate my grave for me and to comfort me in it and not leave me alone.

The second benefit: I saw people were following their lusts and hastening towards the desires of their souls; I meditated on the saying of Allah (God) "But as for whoever has feared the majesty of his Lord and has refrained his soul from lust, truly the Garden shall be his dwelling place". Convinced that the Quran was true and right, I began to deny my soul (its pleasures) and hurried to combat it and refused its passionate desires, until it enjoyed real satisfaction in obedience to Allah, the Exhalted.

The third benefit: I saw that every human being is trying their best to accumulate as much as they can from this world and then holding onto it strongly. I meditated on the Quranic verse "What is with you must vanish; what is with Allah must endure". So I gave freely my worldly possessions for His sake by distributing them among the poor so that it would be my provision in the future with Him, the Exalted.

The fourth benefit: Some people I observed think that their dignity and honour lie with their family and large clans. Others claimed honour and dignity in abundance of wealth and children and they are proud of it. Some believe that honour and power lies by appropriating the wealth of others, doing injustice to them and shedding their blood. Others consider dignity by spending wealth extravagently and in a foolish manner. I meditated on the saying of Allah: "The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous amongst you". I chose righteousness for myself, convinced that the Quran is right and true, and the claims and opinions of those people (at the time) are false and temporary.

The fifth benefit: I found people slandering each other and speaking ill of one another out of envy of fortune, power and knowledge. I meditated on the saying of Allah: "It is We Who divide their livelihood among them in the life of this world". I realised that the dividing of livelihood is entirely in the hands of Allah since the beginning of time. Therefore I never envied anyone and was satisfied with what Allah had given me.

The sixth benefit: I saw people becoming enemies of one another for different reasons. I meditated upon the saying of Allah: "Verily Satan is an enemy to you, so treat him as an enemy". I become aware that enmity with anyone but Satan was not permissible.

The seventh benefit: I saw everyone working hard exhausting themselves in obtaining food and sustenance, tempted by doubts and forbidden things. They degrade themselves in humiliation. I pondered over the saying of Allah: "There is no creature on earth but its sustenance is dependent on Allah". I knew that my livelihood is guaranteed by Allah.

The eigth beneift: I saw everyone relied on a created thing, some on currency, some on wealth and property, some on trade and craft and some on creatures like themselves. I meditated on the saying of Allah: "And whosoever places his reliance on Allah, sufficient is Allah for him. Allah will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion. I therefore placed my full trust in Allah" (We should all try to do the same). He is sufficient for me and He is the best Disposer of affairs.

At this point Shaqiq said: "May Allah bless you and grant you success. I looked into the Old and New Testament, the Zabur (Psalms of David) and the Quran and have found that the four books revolve around these eight benefits. Whoever works according to them is working according to these four books".

Hatim Al-Asam and Shaqiq Al-Balkhi were two pious Muslims. This story relates from the year 810AD.

2 comments:

NunBun said...

Alhamdulillah!
Extremely superb entry.

castillo said...

How true....

A timeless message applicable for all times, especially now.