Monthly Archives: September 2008

Smiling and Laughing

Salam. I came across this unique advice from Imam al-Dhahabi about the issue of smiling and laughing, your feedback as usual would be appreciated on what you have read and understood.
Imam al-Dhahabi mentioned in the biography of Yahya bin Hammad (Allah have mercy upon) that:
Muhammad bin Numan bin Abd al-Salam said: I did not see a greater worshipper than Yahya bin Hammad, and I think he never laughed.
Imam al-Dhahabi said:
A little laughter and smiling is preferable, and the absence of it from the knowledgeable scholars falls into two categories:
The First: It is preferable for the one who leaves it out of good manners (adab) and fear of Allah, and sorrow over his impoverished self (nafsihi al-miskinah).
The Second: Blameworthy for the one who does it foolishly, arrogantly and artificially, likewise one who laughs much is seen with contempt. There is no doubt that laughter in the young is a lighter matter and is excused to a greater extent than in the Shuyukh.
As for smiling and a cheerful face it is above all of this, the Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) said: ‘Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity’.
And Jarir said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) always smiled when He saw me.
So this is from the character traits of Islam, and the highest of ranks/stations is one who is weeping during the night and smiling during the day.
And He (Upon Him be Peace) said: ‘Your wealth will not encompass all of the people, however they will be encompassed with a smiling face’.
There remains a matter: One who is (excessively) laughing and smiling should lessen this, and blame himself until his own self rejects it. And one who is (excessively) frowning and gloomy should smile, and better his character and detest his self for its low character traits. As all that deviates from the moderate is blameworthy, for the ego must be struggled with and trained.

When to Talk and When to Keep Silent

Salam. More succinct advice from Imam al-Dhahabi, this time found in his biography of Abu al-Ala al-Amiri (Allah have mercy on him). Useful for all of us to reflect over and try to implement.


Imam al-Dhahabi said:

A scholar should speak with an intention and praiseworthy aim, if he is impressed by his speech then he should be silent, if he is impressed by his silence then he should speak. He should continously take account of his self (nafs), for it loves to be noticed and praised.


Imam al-Dhahabi: Imam Ahmad and Fame

Salam. Another piece of advice from Imam al-Dhahabi. Even in our times some of us have the good fortune to meet scholars whom once we get to know them we realise how learned they are. A number of individuals spring to mind, at their forefront some of the scholars of al-Ahsa who are indeed hidden treasues concealed within their city. May Allah (the Exalted) enable us to meet more of these hidden gems of this ummah.
I will leave readers to reflect over the high character of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and his humility, such that well over 1000 years later we still remember and make mention of him. Allah have mercy on him and all of the believers.
Imam al-Dhahabi said in the biography of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal:
Al-Marwazi said: Ahmad said to me: Tell Abd al-Wahab: Hide your mention, for I have been afflicted/tribulated with fame.
Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin Harun said: I saw that if Abu Abdullah walked in the street he would hate for anyone to follow behind him
Imam al-Dhahabi said:
Preference of obscurity, humility, and much fear is from the signs of taqwa and success.

Intentions Which Transform…

Salam, the following brief excerpt reminded me of something mentioned by our scholars in their gatherings, namely that seemingly mundance and permissible acts can be transformed into worship with the correct intention. E.g. Sleeping so that one gives ones body enough rest to worship later, eating to have the strength to carry out ones obligatory duties etc. May Allah (the Exalted) enable us to formulate lofty intentions which transform the mundane in our lives in to worship.
Al-Rabi bin Suleiman said: Al-Shafi would divide up the night. In the first (part) he would write, in the second he would pray, and in the third he would sleep.
Imam al-Dhahabi said: These three actions of his are worship with an intention

Commentary on the Hadith of Mercy

[Salam. I would like to dedicate this short article to our teacher, and the first of the scholars to have narrated the hadith of Rahma to us: Sh. Abu Muhammad al-Adsani, al-Aqili, al-Shafi al-Ahsai.]

Imam Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi mentions some of lessons which can be derived from the hadith of mercy in his ‘Majalis fi Tafsir’, the selected points of benefit are numbered as found in the printed edition (p.143 onwards):
The lessons derived from the hadith are the following:

2- Encouragement of mercy between the muslim community (ummah), as from its attributes is their mercy between themselves. Allah عز و جل said: ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with Him are strong against the disbelievers, (but) merciful amongst each other.’

3- The affirmation of reward for actions, and the obtaining of reward in the present and the future, due to the generality of the hadith, and His (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) words: ‘The merciful are shown mercy by the All-Merciful’. Due to the meaning of ‘Al-Rahman’ being mercy in this world and the next.

4-That What we receive from God is categorical to what we present to Him (Al-Jaza’ min Jins al-‘Amal).” Due to His (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) words: ‘The merciful are shown mercy by the All-Merciful…’

Abu al-Sarri Hanna bin al-Sarri said in his book ‘al-Zuhd’: ‘…Muhammad bin al-Munkadir said: A woman came to the Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) whilst He was sitting in the masjid with people all around Him. She walked around him in an attempt to reach Him, and a man stood so that she may reach Him. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) said: Is she your mother?

He replied: No
He said: Your sister?
He said: No
He said: You had mercy on her, may Allah have mercy on you.

5-It is desirable for one who encourages another to a good action to mention some of its benefits and associated advantages, encouraging him and giving life to the act, such as in this hadith.

6-That a scholar who teaches others acts upon his knowledge first, and then teach it. For it is more beneficial and more firm/established for worship. For if we look to the attribute of our Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) who ordered (us) with mercy and encouraged it in the likes of this hadith: We find that His mercy has enveloped the whole of creation. Allah عز وجل said: ‘And we have not sent You except as a mercy to the worlds’.

And from His names (alqab) is: The Prophet of Mercy.

And it is also reported that there was no one who was more merciful to his family than the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless Him and give Him peace).

Imam al-Dhahabi: Wake Up

Salam. Another piece of advice worth reflecting over from Imam al-Dhahabi’s work ‘Siyar al-Ialam al-Nubala’. May Allah (the Exalted) facilitate us to translate and post more in the future.
In the biographical entry for Fudayl he said:
Fudayl said: O Miskin! You commit wrong but you think that you are good
You are ignorant but you think you are knowledgeable
You are miserly but you think you are generous
You are a fool but you think you are intelligent
Your time is brief but your hopes are far sighted!
Imam al-Dhahabi said: By Allah this is truth! You are an oppressor but think you are oppressed
You consume the unlawful (haram) but you think you are scrupulous
You are corrupt but you believe you are upright
You seek knowledge for the dunya but you think you sought it for Allah!

An Introduction and Imam al-Mahdi

Salam. Two brief passages which caught my attention. The first is the way in which Sh. Abd al-Hayy al-Luknawi started his book ‘Zafar al-Amani. The other is a brief comment rearding Imam al-Mahdi and the issue of ijtihad and madhabs which was alluded to by Sh. al-Yaqubi in his lecture on Imam al-Mahdi in Birmingham a few years back (also from Zafar al-Amani p.541).
Introductory Passage to Zafar al-Amani
Sh. al-Luknawi beginning his book said:
O One who has made me from the inheritors of the Prophet, I ask you to make me the head of the God fearing. Blessings and peace be upon the Master of the Arabs and non Arabs, the generous and kind, Master of the Messengers and the Chosen. And upon His family and companions, guides for mankind without doubt.
Imam al-Mahdi and Protection from Making Mistakes in Ijtihad
Whilst discussing the issue of immunity (ismah) Sh. al-Luknawi clarifies that he application of this term with regards to Imam al-Mahdi carries a different meaning to when applied to the Prophets (upon them be peace) and the Angels. He said:
The term Ismah (immunity) is used to mean protection from making mistakes in Ijtihad only. This was the meaning applied by Sheikh al-Akbar in ‘Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyah’ for Imam al-Mahdi, Muhammad bin Abdullah, whose appearance and dominance has been promised, and is one of the greater signs of the hour, that he is protected (from mistakes in ijtihad). As opposed to the all of the Mujtahids of the previous communities. For in their Ijtihads and analogies there is that which is mistaken and correct, however both of them are not bereft of reward.

Imam al-Dhahabi Explains Love

  • Salam. Another point to reflect over from Imam al-Dhahabi’s book ‘Siyar al-Ialam al-Nubala’. (Please note that he was a student of Ibn Taymiyyah)
In the biographical entry of Ubaidah bin Amr (Allah have mercy on him) he said:


Muhammad said: I said to Ubaidah: We have a hair of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) from Anas bin Malik. He replied: Would it that I have a hair of His is more beloved to me than all of the gold and silver on the face of the earth.
Imam al-Dhahabi commented:
This statement of Ubaidah is a criteria of complete love, which is to prefer a hair of the Prophet over all of the gold and silver that people possess. This is what this Imam who came 50 years after the Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) said, but what would we say in our time if we found some of His hair with an established chain (of authenticity), or a strap of a sandle of his, or nail clipping or fragments of a container He drunk from?
For if a wealthy person spent most of his fortune in obtaining one of these for himself, would you regard him as squandering (his wealth) or foolish? Never!
So spend your wealth to visit His masjid which he built with His hand, and greet Him at His chamber in His city. Take pleasure in looking to His ‘Uhud’ and love it, for most certainly your Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) loved it.
Enjoy staying in His garden (Rawdah) and sitting place, for you will not be a believer until this Master (sayyid) is more beloved to you than your self, children, wealth and all of the people.
Kiss the noble stone which descended from paradise, and place your mouth kissing the place kissed by the master of mankind with certainty. May Allah bless you with what you have been given, for there is no greater boast than this.


If we were to obtain the staff with which the Messenger (Allah bless Him and give Him peace) pointed towards the (black) stone, then kissed his staff, it is deserving that we vie with one another to kiss and honour this staff. Whilst we know by necessity that that the kissing of the (black) stone is greater and more virtuous than kissing His staff and sandal.
For Thabit al-Banani if he would see Anas would take his hand and kiss it saying: A hand which touched the hand of the Messnger of Allah (Allah bless Him and give Him peace). We say when we have missed such (an opportunity), whilst kissing it: An honoured stone, at the rank of Allahs right hand on the earth, which has been touched by the lips of our Prophet (Allah bless Him and give Him peace).
For if you have missed the opportunity for Hajj and meet a group (of pilgims) embrace the pilgrim and kiss his lips and say: a mouth which has touched by kissing a stone kissed by my friend (khalil) Allah bless Him and give Him peace.

Balancing Deen and Dunya: Imam al-Dhahabi

Salam. I found the following quote on an Arabic forum where brief selections from Imam al-Dhahabi’s magisterial ‘Siyar al-Ialam al-Nubala’ were posted. Hope they maybe of some benefit.
Balancing Deen and Dunya
Imam al-Dhahabi under the biographical entry for the noble companion Abu al-Darda (Allah be pleased with him) said:

Amash narrates from Khaithamah that: Abu al-Darda said: I was a trader before the sending (of the Prophet, Allah bless Him and give Him peace). When Islam came I combined between trading and worship, however they did not combine together, so I left trading and engaged in worship.

Imam al-Dhahabi commented on this saying:

What is superior is to combine between both matters along with jihad. That which he (Abu al-Darda) said is the way of a group of the early muslims (salaf) and the Sufi’s. There is no doubt that the nature/disposition of people differ in regards to this. Some of them are capable of combining (between both), such as al-Siddiq, Abd al-Rahman bin Awf and as was Ibn al-Mubarak. And some of them are unable to, and limit themselves to worship. Some are able to in the beginning but then can no longer do so, and likewise the opposite. All of this is allowed, however it is necessary that the rights of the wife and family are fulfilled.

Sh. al-Luknawi and the Dalail al-Khayrat in Madinah


Whilst going through Sh. al-Luknawi’s commentary of al-Sayyid al-Sharif al-Jurjani’s text on the science of hadith I found the following interesting passage regarding the Dalail al-Khairat, and Sh. al-Luknawi’s narration for it from a scholar in Madinah. He mentions this incident in the course of commenting on narrating to a scholar who is busy or preoccupied with another matter, and what the scholars of hadith have mentioned about such a thing.

Recitation and Ijazah for the Dalail in Madinah the Illuminated
Sh. al-Luknawi said in ‘Zafar al-Amani’ (p.458-459):
Excluded from this is being busied/preoccupied in a manner which does not prevent concentration, as I witnessed for our Sheikh, the Sheikh of the Dalail, Mawlana Ali bin Yusuf Malak Bashali al-Madani al-Hariri. I visited him in the first ten days of Muharram in the year 1280 in Madinah the Illuminated, along with my late father. He had a shop shop close to Bab al-Salam or Bab al-Rahma from the doors of the Masjid al-Nabawi where he would sell silk.

My late father read ‘Dalail al-Khairat’ to him, whilst I was listening to him along with my uncle the late Mawlawi Muradullah, the son of our teacher, grandfather and uncle of our father, the late Mawlana Muhammad Niamatullah, and the late Mawlawi Ilah Daad Khan al-Chaprawi who was from the students of my late father, along with other than them both from our companions on that journey.

He whilst listening to it would sell silk and converse with the buyers who were present, as his shop was popular with visitors. Despite this, his being busy/preoccupied did not prevent him, for every time the reader would make a mistake in his recitation he would immediately correct him from his memory.