Wise Words of the Salaf
'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, may Allah be pleased with him (d. 32H)
"Be content with what you have,
"Be satisfied with your dwelling place to accommodate your enterprise,
"Restrain your tongue,
"And shed tears of regret regarding past sins you committed knowingly, and those you do not recognize. "
'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Aziz (d. 101H)
- According to 'Abdullah ibn Bakr ibn Habib al-Sahmi: We were told by a man in the mosque of Al-Junabidh that 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Aziz delivered a sermon to the people in Khunasirah in which he said, "O people, you were not created in vain, nor will you be left to yourselves. 1 Rather, you will return to a place in which Allah will descend in order to judge among you and distinguish between you. Destitute and lost are those who forsake the all- encompassing mercy of Allah, and they will be excluded from Paradise, the borders of which are as wide as the heavens and the earth. Don't you know that protection, tomorrow, will be limited to those who feared Allah [today], and to those who sold something ephemeral for something permanent, something small for something great, and fear for protection? Don't you realize that you are the descendants of those who have perished, that those who remain will take their place after you, and that this will continue until you are all returned to Allah? Every day you dispatch to Allah, at all times of the day, someone who has died, his term having come to an end. You bury him in a crack in the earth and then leave him without a pillow or a bed. He has parted from his loved ones, severed his connections with the living, and taken up residence in the earth, whereupon he comes face to face with the accounting. He is mortgaged to his deeds: He needs his accomplishments, but not the material things he left on earth. Therefore, fear Allah before death descends and its appointed times expire. I swear by Allah that I say those words to you knowing that I myself have committed more sins than any of you; I therefore ask Allah for forgiveness and I repent. Whenever we learn that one of you needs something, I try to satisfy his need to the extent that I am able. Whenever I can provide satisfaction to one of you out of my possessions, I seek to treat him as my equal and my relative, so that my life and his life are of equal value. I swear by Allah that had I wanted something else, namely, affluence, then it would have been easy for me to utter the word, aware as I am of the means for obtaining this. But Allah has issued in an eloquent Book and a just example (sunnah) by means of which He guides us to obedience and proscribes disobedience." He lifted up the edge of his robe and began to cry and sob, causing the people around him to break into tears. Then he stepped down. That was the last sermon he gave before he died, may Allah have mercy on him.2
- 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Aziz (rahimahullah) used to say, "None can reach the station of taqwa until he possesses neither action nor words that can be exposed to his embarrassment either in this world or the Hereafter." He was once asked, "When does the worshipper reach the peak of taqwa?" He replied, "If he put all his thoughts and desires in his heart on a plate and then wandered around in the market, he should not feel ashamed of anything there."
Al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110H)
- "I have known people and kept company with groups who neither rejoiced when the things of this world came to them, nor grieved when they lost anything in this world. The life of this world was more insignificant to them than dust. One of them might live for a year or for sixty years without ever having a garment that would entirely cover him, and without ever having anything that would come between him and the ground, and without ever having any food that he could ask to be prepared for him in his own home. When night came, they would be on their feet, with their foreheads flat against the earth, tears rolling down their cheeks, secretly calling on Allah to save them on the Day of Judgement. If they did something good, they never stopped being grateful for it, and they were always asking Allah to forgive them for it. By Allah, they were not safe from wrong actions, and were saved only by their constant turning in repentance. May Allah be pleased with them and grant them His mercy ... "
- "Do not sit idle, for indeed Death is seeking you!"
- When Al-Hasan finished his hadith, he would say, "O Allah, you see our hearts full of idolatry, pride, hypocrisy, showing-off, reputation, doubt and uncertainty in your din. O Turner of hearts, make our hearts firm in Your din and make our din Straight Islam!"
- 'Umara ibn Mihran said that Al-Hasan was asked, "Why do you not visit the rulers and command them to the correct and forbid them the incorrect?" He replied, "'The believer should not waste himself. Their swords precede our tongues when we speak. They speak thus with their swords." And he made a striking gesture with his hand.
- "When a young man is devout, we do not recognise him by his speech. We recognise him by his actions. That is beneficial knowledge."
- It is related that when Al-Hasan saw a funeral, he would say, "Praise belongs to Allah who has not made me part of that which is snatched away." He would not relate anything that day.
Ibn Al-Mubarak (d. 181H)
"When the night is completely dark,
"It finds them staying up in the night,
"Fear has chased away their sleep,
"So they stay up,
"While those who feel secure in this life,
"Quietly sleep on."
"O! Worshipper of Haramayn (two holy mosques) if you were to see us,
"you will know that you are playing with your worship.
"For the one who dyes his face with his tears,
"then our necks are dyed with our blood."
Al-Ghazali (d. 505H)
"Life is nothing but an accumulation of many breaths. So every breath is just a precious diamond which cannot be purchased with anything in the world. It is a priceless jewel which has got no substitute in value. So in movements and talks, and in sorrows and happiness, such a priceless breath should not be spent in vain. To destroy it is to court destruction. An intelligent man cannot lose it. When a man gets up at dawn, he should enter into an agreement with himself just as a tradesman contracts with his partner. At that time, he should address his mind thus: O mind, you have been given no other property as precious as life. When it will end, the principal will end and despondency will come in seeking profit in business. Today is a new day. Allah has given you time, that is, He has delayed your death. He has bestowed upon you innumerable gifts. Think that you are already dead. So don't waste time. Every breath is a precious jewel. Man has got for each day and night twenty-four treasure houses in twenty-four hours. Fill up these then find them filled up with divine sights in the world next. If they are not filled up with good works, they will be filled up with intense darkness wherefrom a bad stench will come out and envelop them all around. Another treasure house will neither give him happiness nor sorrow. That is an hour in which he slept, or was careless, or was engaged in any lawful work of this world. He will feel grieved for its remaining vacant." 3
Ibn Al-Jawzi (d. 597H)
" ... Have you seen anyone that has not been affected by the pitfalls of this world? And have you seen anyone that has not fallen sick? Have you seen any life that has not ended with death? The world beguiles and impedes, it is happiness leading to evil: it ruins those who crave for it and it harms those who benefit from it. Its seeker who laughs it will make cry and those who rejoice with its peace it will destroy. They will regret their slips when they strive to achieve it. They will remain hostage to its fears and apprehensions. They will wish to live just an hour longer ..."
An-Nawawi (d. 676H)
"So the first thing which he should begin with is the memorization of the mighty Qur'an, which is the most important of the branches of knowledge. And the Salaf did not used to teach hadith or fiqh, except to one who had memorized the Qur'an. So when he has memorized it, then let him beware of pre-occupying himself from it with hadith, or fiqh, or other things, to the extent that it leads him to forget anything from the Qur'an, or makes that likely." 4
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 751H)
- "O people who take pleasure in a life that will vanish, falling in love with a faded shadow is sheer stupidity!" 5
- "If you were to see a repenting person, you would see weary eyelids early in the morning asking for forgiveness and listening to Allah's command: 'Repent to Allah with a sincere repentance'. You would see that his diet is light and his grief heavy; his body weakened by fasting and his feet tired from prayers. He would be exausted both physically and spiritually." 6
- "The servitude in repentance is the most noble and beloved form of servitude in the Eyes of Allah. He loves those who repent and it is because of His love for His creation that He tests them with sins so that He may shower His Blessings and Favours upon them after they repent." 7
- Love of Allah, found in Al-Wala wa'l-Bara of M S al-Qahtani:
"The love of the Beloved
must be unconditionally returned.
If you claim love
yet oppose the Beloved,
then your love is but a pretence.
You love the enemies of your Beloved
and still seek love in return.
You fight the beloved of your Beloved.
Is this Love or the following of shaytan?
True devotion is nothing
but total submission
of body and soul
to One Love.
We have seen humans claim to submit,
yet their loyalties are many.
They put their trust here, and their hope there,
and their love is without consequence."
Source: Sunnah Online