From Sheikh Zaid Shakir’s New Islamic Directions
The sayings gathered here, entitled Wisdom, are extracted from, Alerting The Self Deceived, a book written by the great Islamic scholar and mystic, Abdul Wahhab ash-Sha’rani, d. 973 AH/ 1565 AD. In this book Ash-Sha’rani gathers the aphorisms of the early pious scholars of the Islamic tradition as part of an effort to demonstrate to his contemporaries the lofty religious and human character of their spiritual ancestors. In writing this book, Ash-Sha’rani hoped to encourage the sincere seekers of spiritual excellence to redouble their efforts by reflecting on the way of their righteous predecessors, just as he intended to expose as fraudulent those who claimed to be spiritual guides, but were themselves far removed from the path trod by the luminaries whose words he highlights in the book.
By making these sayings available to the English-speaking public, we intend to encourage the Muslim to reflect on the great spiritual legacy bequeathed to us by our righteous forebears, and to begin to live that legacy, while simultaneously encouraging the non-Muslim to look beyond the propagandistic rhetoric that presents Islam as an empty purveyor of irrational violence. These sayings should help all to understand that Islam is a great world religion that has left a deep and indelible, beautifying mark on human history.
Imam Zaid Shakir
Part One: Sincerity in Religious Acts.
1. Wahb b. Munabbih would say: “Whoever seeks worldly advancement through his religious acts, God will invert his heart and record him amongst the people destined for Hell.”
2. Al-Hasan al-Basri relates that Jesus, Peace upon Him, said: “Whoever endeavors to implements his religious knowledge is a true friend of God.”
3. Sufyan b. Tahwri used to say: “My mother advised me: ‘My son! Only seek religious knowledge if you intend to implement it. Otherwise, it will be a source of torment for you on the Day of Resurrection.’ ”
4. Dhun-Nun al-Misri was asked: “When does the servant know that he is sincere in religion?” He replied: “When he asserts himself to the fullest in worship while desiring to gain no esteem with the people because of that.”
5. Muhammad b. al-Munkadir used to say: “I love to see the brothers being at their very best during the night [in humble devotion] for surely that is nobler than being at ones very best during the day. The reason for this is that during the day one is seen by people while during the night one is seen by the Lord of the Worlds.” Read more…