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The Wisdom of Hâtim al-Asamm

  Extracted with slight modifications from “The Day of Rising” by Laila Mabruk; Published by © 1997 Dar al-Taqwa Ltd.


It is related that one day Shaqîq al-Balkhi asked his student Hâtim al-Asamm, “How long have you kept my company?”

“Thirty-three years,” he replied.

“And what have you learned from me in all this time?”

“Eight things,” he said.

“We belong to Allâh and we return to him!” exclaimed Shaqîq. “You have spent your whole life with me and only learned eight things! What are they?”

Firstly,” replied Hâtim, “I looked at mankind and I saw that everyone loves something and continues to do so. When he goes to his grave, whatever he loved leaves him. Therefore I made my good actions what I love, for when I enter the grave they will enter it along with me.”

“You have done well,” said Shaqîq. “What is the second?”

“The second is that I examined the words of the Almighty,

‘But as for him who feared the Station of his Lord and forbade the self its appetites, the Garden shall be his refuge.’ (79:40-41)

Knowing that the words of the Almighty are true, I strove against myself to keep my appetites at bay until I was firm in Allâh Almighty.

The third is that I looked at people and saw that everyone has something of worth which they value and protect. Then I looked at the words of the Almighty,

‘What is with you comes to an end. But what is with Allâh is everlasting.’ (16:96)

So whenever something of value comes to me, I direct it to Allâh Almighty so that it may remain with Him for me.

The fourth is that I looked at Allâh’s creatures and saw that all of them set much store by property, reputation, honour, and lineage. I examined those things and found them to be nothing. Then I looked at the words of the Almighty,

‘The noblest among you in Allâh’s sight is the most god-fearing of you.’ (49:13)

So I set much store by fear of Allâh so that I might be noble in His sight.

The fifth is that I looked at people and I found that some of them attacked others and some of them cursed others; and I realised that the reason they did that was envy. Then I looked at the words of the Almighty,

‘We have meted out among them their livelihood in the life of this world.’ (43:32)

So I abandoned envy and enmity towards creation, knowing that what is allotted to me will and must reach me.

The sixth is that I saw that people fought and were hostile to one another. I looked for my true enemy and found it to be Shaytân and indeed Allâh Almighty says, ‘Shaytan is an enemy to you, so treat him as an enemy.’ (35:6) So I made him my enemy and loved everyone else.

The seventh is that I looked at mankind and found them seeking excessive wealth and abasing themselves because of it. I looked at the words of the Almighty,

‘There is no creature on the earth whose provision is not with Allâh alone.’ (11:6)

I realised that I am one of those who are provided for and so I busied myself with Allâh Almighty and abandoned everything else besides Him.

The eighth is that I looked at people and I saw that they relied on different things: one on his commerce, another on his profession, and yet another on his health. Every creature was relying on another creature! I looked at the words of the Almighty,

‘And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He is enough for him.’ (65:3)

Therefore I put my trust in Allâh Almighty.”

“Hâtim,” said Shaqîq, “Allâh has given you success, and you have left nothing out. ‘He gives wisdom to whomever He wishes.’

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