What Have You Learned?

From Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum ad-Din:

Hatim al Assaam was once approached by his teacher Shaqeeq al Balkhi who said you have been my companion for many years what have you learned? Hatim replied, eight matters.

“I looked around and saw that everyone has something or someone he loves and with whom he remains until the moment he dies. Then they part. Therefore I made good actions the object of my love so that when my hour of death comes, that which I love will accompany me to the grave.”

“I reflected on the words of Allah, ‘As for the one who fears the station of his Lord and holds his self back from passion, the Garden will be his dwelling-place.’ (79:40-41) Therefore I struggled with myself and strived to repel passion until I was well settled in obedience to Allah.

“I looked at people and found that everyone treasures whatever valuable things he has in his possession. Then I examined the words of Allah,“That which you possess will vanish and that which is with Allah will go on” (16: 98) I then began to give to Allah anything valuable so that it would remain in His preservation.

“I looked around at people and saw that everyone places his trust in wealth, descent, honour and lineage. When I examined these things, I found them to be without substance. Then I considered the words of Allah, “Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one who has the most fearful awareness (taqwa). (49:13) Therefore I devoted myself to fearful awareness of Allah so that I could have honour in the sight of Allah

“I looked at people and saw them slandering and cursing each other out of envy. Then I examined the words of Allah, “It is We who distribute the livelihood they have in the life of this world.” (43:31) So I abandoned envy and I befriended people, knowing that one’s portion comes from Allah. Therefore I no longer harbor enmity for people

“I saw men fighting each other and oppressing each other, so I turned to what Allah said, “Shaytan is an enemy to you, so take him for an enemy.” (35:6) So I took shaytan alone to be my enemy and strove hard to be on my guard against him. Accordingly I ceased to hate anyone else.

“I saw everyone running after their daily bread and entering into all sorts of haram things to obtain it. Then I examined the words of Allah”, “There is no creature on the face of the earth but that its provision is Allah’s responsibility.” (11:8) I knew that I was one whose provision is Allah’s responsibility, so I occupied myself with what I owe Allah and left my property with Him.

“I looked at people and saw that they all put their trust in something created. They all put their trust in things which are created just as they are created. I referred back to Allah’s words, “Whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will be enough for him.” (65:3) So I placed my trust in Allah and He is enough for me.”

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