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Pearls of Wisdom from the Salaf al-Ṣāliḥ

Protect your religion by heeding the wisdom and sincere advice from those who proceeded us in goodness.

“There is no one who does not know his own faults, except that he is stupid.”

Iyās ibn Muʿāwiyah (d. AH 122)

Between Hope and Fear

Sufyān Ibn ʿUyaynah (d.198H) – raḥimahullāh – said:

“He whose sin is due to desire, then have hope for him;  and he whose sin is due to pride, then fear for him.  Because Ādam (ʿalayhi al-Salām) sinned due to desire, and he was forgiven; and Iblīs sinned due to pride, and he was cursed.”1

Signs of True Brotherhood

ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu) said:

“Your brother is one who – if he brings a calamity upon you sometimes, then he does not cease having mercy upon you.  Your brother is not the one who – if your affairs become disrupted – starts abusing and insulting you.”2

Diminishing Piety

Imām al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (d.110H) – raḥimahullāh – said, when he came across a group of people disputing:

“These ones have become tired of worship, speaking has become easy for them, and their piety has diminished, and that is why they talk.”3

Iyās Ibn Muʿāwiyah (d.122H) – raḥimahullāh – said:

“There is no one who does not know his own faults, except that he is stupid.”  It was said to him, ‘Then what is your shortcoming?’  He said, “Too much talk.”4

The Shield of the Scholar

Imām Mālik Ibn Anas (d.179H) – raḥimahullāh – said:

“The shield of the scholar is saying, ‘I do not know.’  So if he forgets it, then his enemies strike him!”5

Al-Haytham Ibn Jamīl said:

“I heard Mālik being asked about forty-eight questions, he replied to thirty-two of them saying, ‘I do not know.’”6

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Ibn Mahdī (d.198H) – raḥimahullāh – said:

“We were with Mālik Ibn Anas when a man came saying, ‘O Abā ʿAbdullāh, I have traveled a distance of six months.  The people of my land sent me to ask you about a matter.’  So he said, ‘Ask!’  So the man asked him some things, so he replied, ‘I do not know.’ – and the man thought he had come to someone who knew everything, so he said, ‘What shall I tell the people of my land when I return to them?’  He said, ‘Say to them, Mālik Ibn Anas does not know.’”7

Beneficial Knowledge or Mere Talk

Ibn Masʿūd (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu) said:

“You are in a time whose scholars are many, and its speakers are few.  After you will come a time whose scholars are few, and whose speakers are many.”8

Profit in the Hereafter

’Awn Ibn ʿAbdullāh (d.120H) – raḥimahullāh – said:

“Three are from īmān (faith): modesty, chastity, and withholding the tongue – not the heart, nor the actions – since these are things that bring profit in the Hereafter, and loss in this life.  And whatever is gained in the Hereafter is greater than whatever is lost in this life.”9


[1] Related by Imām al-Dhahabī in Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubʿalāʾ(8/471).
[2] Related by Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāyah wa-al-Nihāyah (7/128)
[3] Related by Aḥmad in al-Zuhd (p. 272) and by Abū Nuʿaym in al-Hilyatul-Awliyaa(2/156)
[4] Related by Abū Nuʿaym al-Aṣbahānī in al-Hilyatul-Awliyaa (3/124)
[5] Hilyatul-Awliyaa (6/323)
[6] Related by Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr in al-Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm wa-Faḍlihi (2/25)
[7] Related by Ibn Abī Ḥātim in al-Jarḥ wa-al-Taʿdīl (1/17)
[8] Related by at-Ṭabarānī in al-Kabīr (no. 8066), and by al-Bukhārī in al-ʿAdab al-Mufrad (no. 789), and by al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar in Fat′h al-Bār ī(10/1510) who declared it authentic.
[9] Related by ʿAbd al-Razzāq in his Mūsānnaf (11/142), and the chain of narrators in authentic.

Published: June 30, 2007
Edited: August 17, 2022

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