The Wisdom of Ibn Mas’ud

The Wisdom of Ibn Mas'ud

One of the sayings of Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) was that a man said in his presence, “I do not like to be from among the companions of the right hand, but I would like to be from among those who are nearest to Allah.” ‘Abdullah said, “But there is a servant here, who wishes that when he dies he will not be resurrected again (meaning himself).”

He went out one day, and some people followed him, so he asked them, “Do you need anything?” They said, “No, but we want to walk with you (as your followers).” He said, “Go back; you are humiliating yourselves and may do so to me.”

And he said, “If you knew about me what I knew about myself, you would pour dust upon my head.” And he said, “I preferred the two unpleasant matters: death and poverty; by Allah they are in reality wealth and life, and I do not care which of them I may be afflicted with, as I will seek Allah in each of them; if it is wealth, it means I am going to meet Allah, and if it is poverty, I will be patient.”

And he said, “As you walk in the night and day your age decreases and your deeds are recorded, and death will come suddenly. Whoever sows good deeds, he will harvest goodness, and whoever sows evil deeds, he will harvest regret. Everyone will reap what he sows; he will neither precede a slow man according to his fortune nor catch up with an eager man unless it is destined for him.

  • Whoever does good, must know that it is Allah, who allowed him to do so, and whoever is protected from evil, must know that it is Allah, who protected him.
  • Pious people are masters, jurists are leaders, and accompanying them will increase your good.
  • They are two: guidance and speech. The best speech is the words of Allah and the best guidance is that of Muhammad (peace be upon him). The worst matter of all is innovations and every innovation is a novelty, so do not be disturbed by hopes and do not waste time. Whatever is coming is near at hand and whatever is far will not come. Whoever is unhappy was destined to be so, when he was in his mother’s womb and the happy servant is the one who takes the examples of others. Killing a Muslim is disbelief, abusing him is an evil doing and the Muslim is not allowed to abandon his brother Muslim for more than three days; he must greet him when he meets him, answer him when he calls him, and visit him when he is ill. The most evil account is that of lying. Lying contains no good, neither in cases of seriousness nor joking nor when a man promises his son something and does not fulfill it. Falsehood leads to wickedness and evil doing, and wickedness leads to the Hellfire and Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. It would be said to the truthful person that he was truthful and pious, and it would be said to the lying person that he was lying and wicked. Muhammad (peace be upon him) said to us, “And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person and a man may keep on telling lies until he is written before Allah as a liar.”
  • The most truthful speech is the Book of Allah, the most correct word is the word of piety, the best religion is that of Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him), the best Sunnah is the sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the best guidance is the guidance of the Prophets, the most honorable talk is remembering Allah, the best account is the Qur’an, the best matters are its consequences, and the worst matter is innovation. Whatever is little but sufficient is better than what is a lot but distracting. A soul that you save from evil is better than an emirate that you cannot control. The worst excuse is when it is the time of death and the worst regret is on the Day of Resurrection. The worst error is that which is done after guidance. The best wealth is the wealth of the soul. The best provision is piety. The best content of the heart is certainty, and doubt is disbelief. The worst blindness is blindness of the heart. Wine is a collection of evil, and unrighteous women are the traps of Satan. Adolescence is a kind of insanity, and wailing is a deed from the pre-lslamic era.
  • Among people are those who attend Friday prayer and hardly pay attention to it and remember Allah with his tongue but not with his heart. The gravest sin is lying, and whoever pardons people Allah will pardon him. Whoever restrains his anger, Allah will reward him, and whoever forgives, Allah will forgive him. Whoever is patient during disasters, Allah will recompense him. The worst of profits is usury, and the worst kind of eating is devouring an orphan’s property. Whatever satisfies the soul, is enough for you. The destiny of each of you is the grave. Matters depend upon their consequences. The most honorable way of dying is the death of a martyr. Whoever is proud, Allah will humiliate him, and whoever disobeys Allah, will obey Satan.
  • People who have memorized the Qur’an should be known by the night when people are sleeping and he is awake, and by the morning when people are not fasting but he is, by his sadness when they are happy, by his crying when they are laughing, by his silence when they are slandering, and by his piety and humility when they are arrogant. He who has memorized the Qur’an should be tearful, sad, wise, patient, and calm, he should not be rude, inattentive, loud or cruel.
  • Whoever assaults others because of his authority, Allah will degrade him. Whoever is humble because of his piety, Allah will elevate him. Allah has a gathering and Satan has a gathering. The gathering of Allah promises good and believes in right, while the gathering of Satan threatens evil and doubts right. If you see such a gathering seek refuge with Allah.
  • People have many good sayings, and whoever’s words agree with his deeds, he would have been granted goodness, and whoever’s sayings contradict his deeds, he is simply scolding himself.
  • I hate to find a lazy, empty man, who neither works for his worldly living nor for the Hereafter. He whose prayer did not command him to do right and did not forbid him from doing wrong. It will not be of any use to him; it will only increase the distance between him and Allah.
  • Undoubtedly one should never please people by displeasing Allah, should not praise anyone for that which Allah had bestowed on you, and never blame anyone for that which Allah did not grant you. The blessings of Allah will not be gained according to someone’s desires nor will they be removed because of someone’s hatred. Allah in His justice and patience  makes the soul happy by being content, and makes sadness and grief when one doubts and is discontent.
  • As long as you are performing prayer, you are knocking at the door of Allah, and whoever is knocking at the door of Allah, Allah will open it for him. 
  • Man almost forgets the knowledge he has gained because of the sins he has committed.
  • Do not neglect knowledge and guidance, or the light of night, renewed hearts, and wearing worn clothes. In this way you will be known in the heavens and hidden from the people of the earth. 
  • The hearts of man pass through two phases: activity and inactivity, so seek your hearts while they are in the state of activity and control them in the phase of inactivity. 
  • Knowledge is not being able to narrate several accounts but by being pious.
  • The disbeliever may have a stronger and healthier body but he has the sickest heart among them, and the believer has the healthiest heart among people but perhaps the weakest body. By Allah, if your hearts are sick and your bodies are healthy, you would be lower than an insect in the sight of Allah.
  • The servant of Allah will not reach the reality of faith until he reaches its top, and he will not reach its top until poverty becomes preferable to him more than wealth, humility more preferable than honor, and until the one who praises or dispraises him are equal in his sight. Man comes out of his house with his religion and returns with nothing. A person comes to you while he cannot do anything for you nor your soul, either good or bad, and swore by Allah to others that he is good and he  flatters you, and he returns and does nothing from what he wanted and Allah is not pleased with him.
  • If I mocked at a dog, I would be afraid of being changed into one. 
  • Sin is whatever the heart is not comfortable with. 
  • In every look, Satan will seduce you.
  • With happiness comes sadness. Every house that once was filled with joy will be faced with examples and each one of you is a guest and his money is a loan; the guest will travel and the loan will be repaid. 
  • Later in time there will be nations whose best deeds will be reciting among themselves and listening to evil reciters. 
  • If man wanted to be treated justly by his soul, he should visit those whom he would like to be visited by. The right is heavy but healthy, and evil is light but harmful. 
  • Perhaps one desire causes long term sadness. 
  • There is nothing on earth that badly needs to be imprisoned more than the tongue. 
  • If adultery and usury appeared in a town or village, it is a sign of its coming destruction. 
  • Whoever could put his treasure in heaven so that it would neither be eaten by worms nor stolen by thieves; he must do so, as the heart of man is his treasure.
  • Do not imitate anyone concerning religion; if he believes you, you believe and if he disbelieves you, you will disbelieve. If you must imitate, you should imitate dead people as the living are not protected from seduction. 
  • None of you should be weak. They said, “What do you mean by weak?” He said, “He says, ‘I am with the people; if they are on the right way I will be on the right way and if they go astray I will go astray. One should adjust himself to adhere to Islam even when people disbelieve.” 
  • A man said to him, “Teach me words that are complete and useful.” He said, “Worship Allah and do not worship any partners with Him, adhere to the Qur’an whatever it says, and whoever calls you to the right accept it from him even if he is far from you and odious, and whoever calls you to what is wrong reject him even if he is a lover and close to you.”
  • The servant of Allah will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and he would be ordered to render back his trust, and he would say, “O My Lord! From where? The worldly life has gone.” Then this trust would be shaped as it had been during this worldly life but it will be in the bottom of Hellfire, and he would fall down after it, put it on his shoulder, and begin to come up until he thought that he is about to come out, but it would fall again and he would fall after it forever.”
  • Submit your heart in three situations: when listening to the Qur’an, during gatherings of remembering Allah, and during times of solitude. If you do not find your heart in these three situations, ask Allah to grant you with a heart, as you do not have one.
  • Al-Junaid said, “I visited a youth, who asked me about repentance and its reality. I answered him and said, ‘To put your sin between your eyes (never to forget it) until death comes to you’, and he said to me, ‘No this is not the reality of repentance’, so I said to him, ‘What is the reality of repentance according to you?’ He said, ‘To forget your sin.’ And he left me and went away.’ So I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) “O Abu Al- Qasim! What is it according to you?’ He said, ‘It is like what the youth said.’ He said, ‘How is that?’ He said, ‘If I was in a state of alienation then Allah moved me from this to a state of devotion, then remembering alienation when one is devoted, is alienation.”

[Al-Fawaid by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, p. 244-251]

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