People Differ in Rank Just Like Metals

People Differ in Rank Just Like Metals

After I pondered upon the earth and those living on its surface using the eyes of my contemplation, I came to realise that its destruction is larger than its construction. 

Then I contemplated the constructive side of it and found it is taken by disbelievers, and that the proportion of Muslims to disbelievers is little.

Then I contemplated the situation of Muslims and found that generating profit and seeking means of earning have busied them. It distracted them from the One who Provides (al-Razzaq) them profit and provision. Also made them pay no attention to the knowledge whereby He is recognised.

For example, the Sultan [ruler or person in authority] is occupied with directing instructions and enjoying the pleasures he comes across, and the water of his wishes is flowing without hindrance [i.e. all his requests are fulfilled without objection].

When people meet him, they do not offer him sincere advice or remind him of his Hereafter; rather they engulf him with a praise that feeds his ego and fanciful-desires! However, diseases should be treated with their opposite.

‘Umar ibn al-Muhaajir said, ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz told me, ‘If you find me deviating from the truth then pull my robe and shake me and say, what happened to you O ‘Umar!’

And ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab [radiyAllahu ‘anhu) said, ‘May Allah have Mercy upon the one who brings to my attention our mistakes.’ This is because the most in need of advice and preaching is the ruler.

As for the soldiers of the Sultan, most of them are not only in toxicated by their fanciful-desires and worldly pleasures, but also are ignorant and lack knowledge.

Thus, neither a sin would make them bothered nor wearing silk or drinking alcohol would ever annoy them. On the contrary, some of them may [arrogantly] object and say, ‘What should a soldier do then? Should he just wear cotton?’ Apart from that, they take away things wrongfully and so injustice and oppression accompany them just like how habits accompany humans.

As for nomads, they are overwhelmed with ignorance, and the same is the case with the villagers who are often exposed to impurity and are slack when it comes to missing praying an obligatory prayer (salah), and even worse some of their women may pray while sitting down [while she is able to stand].

As for trade owners, I noticed that most of them are full of concern for wealth to the extent they do not care about the means of earning; be it lawful (halal) or unlawful (haram). Furthermore, usury (riba) has become common in their financial transactions and so none of them really care from where his money is generated. Needless to say, they, except those whom Allah guarded from such sins, neither pay the obligatory alms (zakat) nor feel bad for not doing so.

As for traders, cheating exists in most of their transactions, let alone defrauding what they intend to sell and undermining the price of what they intend to buy, and on the top of all that they drown in ignorance as well.

As for those who have children, I found that most of them instead of disciplining their children and teaching them what they need to know from religion, they busy them with the learning of commerce or a profession to earn money.

Then, I looked into the condition of women. I found that women in general are not religious and extremely ignorant. They seem to know nothing about the Hereafter, except for those whom Allah guarded from such a trial.

So, I said: ‘I wonder at the situation of the Muslims! If this is condition of the vast majority’ of Muslims then who is left from people to serve Allah, the Most High, and learn about Him?’

I searched for the answer and found that it is scholars, students of knowledge, the worshippers and ascetics. But then I realised that most of the worshippers and ascetics worship Allah without knowledge, they rejoice at having followers, or having people kissing their hands, they enjoy the praise and glory they receive from people. They may not even go to the market to buy what they need lest their glory and status be compromised. Their status elevates among the people until they no longer visit a sick person or witness the funeral of anyone, unless the deceased is someone they glorify. They also stop visiting others and may even make others feel they are doing them a favour for visiting them; as a matter of fact they become like idols that others worship without knowing so!

Some of them may even step forward to give rulings in religion despite their ignorance just so they do not compromise their status as someone who is looked up to. Then they criticise scholars for attempting to seek lawful means of income in this life, but they do not know what they themselves are upon is what Islam actually condemns.

Then, I contemplated the situation of students of knowledge and noticed that only a few of them show the sign of intellect. This sign entails seeking knowledge to act upon it, while the majority of them seek knowledge either to make it a source of income, or to assume the position of a judge, or to ultimately distinguish themselves from others as onlv then, at that point, they stop learning.

As for the situation of scholars, I noticed that most of them are not only being manipulated by their whims, but also used by their own whims. For this reason, thev favour what knowledge keeps him away from and look for what knowledge prevents him from; hence they can rarely find the sweetness resulting from anv act of worship as their endeavours are limited to speaking out words.

Nevertheless, Allah will always place on this earth people who stand out while combining both knowledge and acting upon such knowledge, minding the due rights of Allah, the Most High, and fearing Him. These people are indeed the pillars of this world that Allah will substitute them with other people in the same, if not better, rank when they are dead, and in some cases He mav even let them live until they see their substitutes before He takes away their souls.

The example of this type of people is always on the earth and they are to people as how Prophets are to mankind. Such types of people, whom I have just described, fulfil and observe the fundamentals of the religion. They mind the limits set by Islam, though it may hap pen that their share of knowledge and good deeds are less. As for those whose qualities are perfect from all aspects, they are rare, and it could happen that the span of time between each one is very long.

I have investigated in depth all the people from the (generations of) righteous predecessors in the hope of finding a group of people who combined between superb knowledge, so they became revivers (mujtahidun), and exceptional in worship, so they became role models to worshippers, and I could only find three people; Imam al-Hasan al-Basri, Imam Sufyan al-Thawri and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. I have authored a special book about each one of them. If one adds Imam Sa’id Ibn al-Musayyab as the fourth man that will not be something to be objected to.

[My limited selection to the above mentioned names only is because] though there are masters among the righteous predecessors, most of them were masters in a particular science or area while having lesser rank in other areas; some of them were known and famous for their knowledge. Others were famous and known for their worship, whereas each one of the previous I mentioned had an excessive share of knowledge and worship.

However, it is possible to find those who follow their steps, though they have the honour of being the first to have such virtue. For example, Allah revealed to al-Khidr what was unknown to Musa [though Musa is a Prophet and higher in rank]. Indeed, the treasuries of Allah are full and His Granting is not limited to any one person.

I was informed that Ibn ‘Aqil used to say about himself, ‘I was in a ship but then it was broken [i.e. I am one of a kind]’ and this is inappropriate to say because on what basis could he dare to make such a statement! Indeed, many are those who are fond of themselves but then it was revealed to them what made them despise themselves. For this you may find many people who came after, but excelled over the ones before them. It was said in poetry,

 ‘Indeed the nights and days are pregnant, and only Allah knows what they shall deliver.’

[Captured Thoughts by Ibn Jawzi, p. 160-165]

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