May 16, 2020

From the Book of Isolation and Seclusion

We are informed by ‘Abd Allah on the authority of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali that Ahmad ibn Yunus said:

       I heard Sufyan al Thawri say: "The best thing for a person is a burrow to retreat into."

We are informed by ‘Abd Allah on the authority of Ishaq ibn Ibrahim that Muhammad ibn Abi ‘Adiyy was told by Yunus on the authority of al-Hasan that

       The Messenger of God, God's blessings and peace be upon him, said:
"For hermitages, Muslims have their homes."

We are informed by ‘Abd Allah on the authority of Ishaq ibn Isma‘il, that Waki‘ was told by Isma‘il ibn Abi Khalid on the authority of Qays that

       Talha ibn ‘Ubayd Allah said: "The most blameless thing a man can do is sit in his home."

We are informed by ‘Abd Allah on the authority of Ishaq ibn Ibrahim that Yahya ibn Sa‘id  was told by Thawr ibn Yazid  that Sulaym ibn ‘Amir said:

       Abu 'l-Darda’ said: "An excellent hermitage for a Muslim man is his home. He curbs his tongue, his sex, and his gaze. Beware of social gatherings and marketplaces, with their frivolity and nonsense."

We are informed by ‘Abd Allah that Muhammad ibn Abi Hatim al-Azdi said: I heard ‘Abd Allah ibn Dawud mention that al-Awzai reported that

       Makhul al-Shami said: "If society is where one gains distinction, then peace is gained in isolation."

We are informed by ‘Abd Allah on the authority of Hamza ibn al-'Abbas al-Marwazi that 'Abdan ibn 'Uthman said: It was reported to us by 'Abd Allah ibn Mubarak that Ibn Lahi'a said: This is what I was told by Bakr ibn Sawada: 

       Abu 'l-Darda’ encountered a man who had withdrawn from humanity and lived completely by himself. "God be implored," he exclaimed, "on your behalf! Whatever induced you to withdraw from human society?"
      "My terror lest my faith be stripped from me, without me knowing," said the man.
       Abu 'l-Darda’ said, "In all the host of Muslims, are there a hundred who fear like you?" He went on [repeating the question, each time] lowering the number until he got to ten. At this, the man said:
      "There is one man, in Syria." That man was Shurahbil ibn al-Simt.

From the Book of Isolation and Seclusion by Ibn Abi 'l-Dunya

May 6, 2020

Week Seven

It is said that Rabi‘a fasted for seven nights and days without sleeping, engrossed in prayers all night long. Her hunger had passed all limits, when through the door of her house came someone with a dish of food. Rabi‘a accepted the dish and went to get a lamp. When she came back, the cat had spilled the dish. "I'll go get a jug," she said, "and break my fast [with water]." But when she came back with the jug, the lamp was out. Her next intention was to drink water in the dark. Then the jug slipped from her hand and broke.
      Rabi‘a let out such a groan that it was feared lest fire would consume half the house. She said: "Dear God, in my helplessness, what are you doing with me?"
      Into her hearing came a voice: "Beware! lest you wish Me to confer the world's blessings on you, and empty your heart of desperate care for Me. Desperate care and worldly blessings can never come together in the same heart. You, O Rabi‘a, have your will, and I have Mine, and in one heart your will and I can never come together."
      Rabi‘a said: "On hearing these words pronounced, I cut short my hopes, and turned my heart so far from this world that, for thirty years, I have carried out each prayer as if I knew it were my last. And ever since that day, I have cut my head off from Creation, for fear lest someone come to distract me from Him.
     "I said: 'God, be You my occupation, that I may be occupied by no one else.'"

From the Memorial of the Saints of Farid al-Din ‘Attar