Monday, February 14, 2011


My Dear Son,

If you understand this tradition, there is no need for too much knowledge. There is also another story to meditate and reflect over.

Hatim Al-Asam was among the friends of Shaqiq Al-Balkhi (may Allah have mercy on them both). 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 from the knowledge which is sufficient for me. I hope my salvation and safety are embodied in them." Shaqiq asked Hatim to mention them. Hatim Al-Asam said:

'The first benefit is that I observed the creation and saw that everyone had a loved one and one passionately desired whom he loved and longed for. Some of the beloved accompany the lover up to the brink of sickness and death and others to the gate of the graveyard. All of them return and leave him there alone. No one goes into the tomb with him. 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 is that I saw that people were following their lusts and hastening towards the desires of the souls; and I meditated on the saying of the Exalted: "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." (Surah Al Naziyat 79: v40-41) I Convinced that the Qur'an was true and right, I began to deny my soul [its pleasures] and hurried to combat it and refuse it its passionate desires, until it enjoyed real satisfaction in obedience to Allah the Exalted.

The third benefit is that I saw that every human being trying his best to accumulate as much as he can from the wreckage of this world and then holding on strongly to it. I meditated on the Qur'anic verse: "What is with you must vanish; what is with Allah must endure." (Surah Al Nahl 16: v96) 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 is that some people whom I observed think that their dignity and honour lie in the multitude of their family and large clans. They were fascinated by these things. Others claimed honour and dignity in abundance of wealth and children and they were proud of it. Some believed honour and power abide in appropriating the wealth of others, doing injustice to them and shedding their blood. Others considered dignity to consist of extravagance and spending wealth in a foolish manner. I meditated upon the saying of the Exalted: "The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous of you." (Surah Al Hujurat 49: v13) I chose righteousness for myself, convinced that the Qur'an is right and true and those claims and opinions of the people are all false and temporal.

The fifth benefit is that I found the people slandering each other and speaking ill of one another out of envy of fortune, power and knowledge. I meditated upon the saying of Allah: "It is We who divide their livelihood among them in the life of this world." (Surah Al Zukhruf 43: v32) I realised that the process of dividing livelihood is entirely in the hands of Allah since the beginning of time. Therefore I never envied anyone and was satisfied with the distribution of Allah the Exalted.

The sixth benefit is that I saw people becoming enemies of each other for different reasons. I meditated upon the saying of the Exalted: "Verily Satan is an enemy to you, so treat him as an enemy." (Surah Fatir 35: v6) I became aware that enmity with anyone but Satan was not permissible.

The seventh benefit is that I saw everyone working very hard, exhausting himself to obtain food and sustenance, tempted by doubts and forbidden things. They degrade themselves in humiliation. I pondered over the saying of the Exalted: "There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance dependent on Allah." (Surah Hud 11: v6) I knew that my livelihood is guaranteed by Allah the Exalted so I engaged myself in worship and cut off my covetousness of all else, other than He.

The eight benefit is that I saw that everyone relied on some created thing, some on the dinar and dirham, some on wealth and property, some on trade and craft and some on creatures like themselves. I meditated upon the saying of the Exalted: "And whosoever places his reliance on Allah, sufficient is [Allah] for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily for all things has Allah appointed a due proportions." (Surah Al Talaq 65: v3) I therefore placed full trust in Allah the Exalted. He is sufficient for me and He is the best Disposer of affairs.'

At this point Shagiq said: "May Allah bless you and grant you success. I looked into the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Zabur and the Qur'an and have found that the four books revolve around these eight benefits. Whoever works according to them is working according to these four books."

(Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali - Dear Beloved Son)

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