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Sufiyan as Thawri

Sufiyan as Thawri

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Biography and Teachings
Biography and Teachings

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Published by: api-3824061 on Oct 18, 2008
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Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b \u2013 GF Haddad Qasyoun@ziplip.com

Sufy\u0101n ibn Sa\u2018\u012bd ibn Masr\u016bq Ab\u016b \u2018Abd All\u0101h al-Thawr\u012b al-Mud. ar\u012b al-K\u016bf\u012b (97-161), the Godfearing, wise, grief-stricken,Mu jta h id Im\u0101m, \u201cCommander of the Believers in H. ad\u012bth\u201d \u2013 the highest level in h. ad\u012bth Mastership \u2013, \u201cShaykh al-Isl\u0101m, the Im\u0101m of h. ad\u012bth Masters, the leader of the practicing Ulema in his time, the author of theJ\u0101 mi\u2018 \u201d (al-Dhahab\u012b). His father was a juniorT\u0101 b i\u2018\u012b Mu h. a d d ith and he thus began his scholarly career at home. Ab\u016b Ish.\u0101q al-Sab\u012b\u2018\u012b recited when he saw Sufy\u0101n coming:!And We

gave him wisdom when a child"(19:12). HisS h u y\u016b kh number 600. Ibn al-Jawz\u012b claimed that his

students number over 20,000 but al-Dhahab\u012b said: \u201cThis is preposterous, they hardly reached1,000. I know none of the h.ad\u012bth Masters from whom more narrated than M\u0101lik, and those number1,400 \u2013 including the liars and the unknown!\u201d

Among the praises related about him:
\u201cI wrote from1,100 Shaykhs, but from none better than Sufy\u0101n.\u201d (Ibn al-Mub\u0101rak)
\u201cI never saw better than Sufy\u0101n.\u201d (Y\u016bnus ibn \u2018Ubayd \u2013 he had seen Sa\u2018\u012bd ibn Jubayr, Ibr\u0101h\u012bm al-
Nakha\u2018\u012b, \u2018At.\u0101\u2019, and Muj\u0101hid.)
\u201cIf \u2018Alqama and al-Aswad were present they would stand in need of Sufy\u0101n.\u201d (Ab\u016b H. an\u012bfa)
\u201cI never saw one resemble theT\u0101 b i\u2018\u012bn more than Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b\u201d (Ibn Ab\u012b Dhi\u2019b).

\u201cI never saw stronger in h. ad\u012bth memorization than al-Thawr\u012b, nor more ascetic than Shu\u2018ba, nor more intelligent than M\u0101lik, nor of better counsel to theUmma than Ibn al-Mub\u0101rak\u2026. Sufy\u0101n is the most knowledgeable of them.\u201d \u201cI could not look at Sufy\u0101n directly, he was too intimidating and full of majesty.\u201d (Ibn Mahd\u012b)

\u201cI never saw anyone more knowledgeable in theh. a l\u0101 l and theh. a r\u0101 m than Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b\u201d
(Ibn \u2018Uyayna).
\u201cThis is the most knowledgeable(a fq a h ) of people on earth.\u201d (Z\u0101\u2019ida)
\u201cI never saw anyone like Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b\u201d (Ibn Wahb). Ibn Wahb narrates that he saw Sufy\u0101n
prostrate afterMa g h rib and not raise his head until the call for\u2018 I sh\u0101 \u2019.
\u201cBy All\u0101h! Sufy\u0101n was more knowledgeable than Ab\u016b H. an\u012bfa\u201d (Fud. ayl ibn \u2018Iy\u0101d. ). \u201cHe is above
M\u0101lik in all things.\u201d (Yah. y\u0101 ibn Sa\u2018\u012bd al-Qat
.t.\u0101n) \u201cIf these two concur on something \u2013 al-Thawr\u012b
and Ab\u016b H. an\u012bfa \u2013 then this is a strong position.\u201d (Ibn al-Mub\u0101rak)
\u201cAl-Thawr\u012b for us was the Im\u0101m of all the people\u2026. Sufy\u0101n in his time was like Ab\u016b Bakr and
\u2018Umar in theirs.\u201d (Bishr al-H.\u0101f\u012b)
\u201cIf I were asked to choose someone to lead thisUmma I would have chosen Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b\u201d
\u201cI never saw a man who follows the Sunna more rigorously or in whose body I would love to be
more than Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b.\u201d (Al-Sh\u0101fi\u2018\u012b)
\u201cDo you know who is the Im\u0101m? The Im\u0101m in my view is Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b. No-one comes
before him in my heart!\u201d (Ah. mad to Ab\u016b Bakr al-Marwadh\u012b)
\u201cSufy\u0101n is the\u2018\u0100 lim of theUmma and its Worshipper\u201d (Al-Muthann\u0101 ibn al-S. abb\u0101h. ).
\u201cTruly, if I see a person accompany Sufy\u0101n, that person becomes great in my view.\u201d (Ab\u016b Bakr
ibn \u2018Ayy\u0101sh)

Sufy\u0101n spoke certain precious words on money matters. He was once asked a question while he was buying something. He replied: \u201cLeave me, my heart is with my dirham right now.\u201d He said: \u201cI much prefer to leave behind ten thousand dirhams over which All\u0101h takes account of me, rather than stand in need of people.\u201d He also said: \u201cIn the past, money was disliked; but today it is the shield of the

believer.\u201d To a man who told him: \u201cAb\u016b \u2018Abd All\u0101h! You hold dinars in your hand?!\u201d He replied: \u201cBe
quiet! Were it not for them, the kings would use us to wipe themselves (latamandala bin\u0101 al-mul\u016bk).\u201d
He also said: \u201cThe\u2018\u0100 lim is the cure in the Religion and money its disease. If the\u2018\u0100 lim drags the
disease to himself, when can he heal others?\u201d1

Long before theIh. y\u0101 \u2019, Sufy\u0101n warned against the mere thirst for knowledge at the expense of the training of the ego. He possessed a photographic memory \u2013 \u201cI never forgot anything I had memorized\u201d \u2013 but, more importantly, \u201cI never memorized a single h.ad\u012bth except I practiced it, at least once.\u201d \u201cHe said: \u201cAdorn knowledge and the h. ad\u012bth with yourselves, not vice-versa.\u201d He also said: \u201cThe ugliest of

people is he who pursues the world through the work of the hereafter.\u201d Ab\u016b D\u0101w\u016bd said he heard
Sufy\u0101n say: \u201cI do not fear anything that might enter me into the Fire more than the h. ad\u012bth.\u201d He also
said: \u201cWould that I had recited the Qur\u2019an and stopped there.\u201d He also said: \u201cWhoever increases in
knowledge increases in pain; if I knew nothing it would be easier for my predicament.\u201d He also

said: \u201cIf h. ad\u012bth were a good it would have vanished just as goodness has vanished... Pursuing the study of h. ad\u012bth is not part of the preparation for death, but a disease that preoccupies people!\u201d Al-Dhahab\u012b comments:

By All\u0101h, he has spoken the truth!... Today, in our time, the quest for knowledge and h.ad\u012bth no longer means for the h. ad\u012bth Scholar the obligation of living up to it, which is the goal of h. ad\u012bth. He is right in what he said because pursuing the study of h. ad\u012bth is other than the h. ad\u012bth itself.2

Al-Dhahab\u012b also said:

Love of h. ad\u012bth in itself and its practice for the sake of All\u0101h is required and part of one\u2019s provision for the Return; but love ot its narration, its shortest chains, excessive focus on knowing and understanding it \u2013 that is what is blamed and feared on the part of Sufy\u0101n, al-Qat

.t.\u0101n, and the people
of [spiritual] observance, for much of this is a curse on themu h. a d d ith.3

Yet when he was asked: \u201cUntil when will you study h. ad\u012bth?\u201d he replied: \u201cAnd what greater goodness is there for me but h. ad\u012bth, so that I might turn to it?\u201d Al-Ashja\u2018\u012b said: \u201cI heard from al-Thawr\u012b 30,000 h.ad\u012bths.\u201d Sufy\u0101n also said: \u201cThere is no need better than [the study of] h.ad\u012bth if the intention is correct.\u201d He also said: \u201cIf a man were to try and lie in [narrating] h. ad\u012bth, even inside his own house, All\u0101h would cause someone to overpower him.\u201d To a man who said to him: \u201cNarrate to us just as you heard,\u201d he replied: \u201cNo, by All\u0101h! This is impossible. These are only the meanings.\u201d \u201cIf I tell you that I am narrating to you just as I heard, do not believe me.\u201d \u201cWere we to narrate to you exactly in the way we heard, we would not narrate to you a single h. ad\u012bth.\u201d Ibn Mahd\u012b said: \u201cWe would be with Sufy\u0101n as if he had been summoned for his last reckoning. We did not dare speak a word to him. Then we would mention a h.ad\u012bth and all this fear would be dispelled and nothing remain excepth. addathan\u0101

h. addathan\u0101.\u201d Qab\u012bs.a said: \u201cIf you saw Sufy\u0101n you would think he is a monk but when he started
narrating you could not recognize him.\u201d
On the chain of transmission: \u201cTheisn\u0101 d is the weapon of the believer. Whoever has no weapon,
with what is he fighting?\u201d

Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b called the kissing of the hands of the Ulema a Sunna. Among his sayings: \u201cAmong the best of people is the S.\u016bf\u012b learned inFiqh.\u201d4 \u201cI found the reform of my heart between Makka and Mad\u012bna, among a community of strangers who wore wool and ample coats.\u201d \u201cSimple living(zu h d ) does not consist in eating chaff and wearing coarse cloth, but in keeping hopes short and search out the coming of death.\u201d \u201cI never saw rarerzu h d than the renunciation of leadership. You might see a man

renounce food, money, and dress, but when it comes to leadership, he maneuvers and battles.\u201d \u201cA

man must force his child to learn because he is responsible for him.\u201d To a boy in the first row of prayer he said: \u201cHave you reached puberty?\u201d If not, he would make him stand in a back row. Asked why he abandoned soldiery(a l-g h a z\u016b ), Sufy\u0101n replied: \u201cBecause they do not observe the categorical obligations (innahum yud. ayyi\u2018\u016bna al-far\u0101\u2019id. ).\u201d To Shu\u2018ayb ibn H. arb he said: \u201cWhat you wrote will not benefit you until:

1Al-Dhahab\u012b, Tadhkirat al-H. uff\u0101z. (1:204).
2Al-Dhahab\u012b as cited in al-Sakh\u0101w\u012b, al-Jaw\u0101hir wal-Durar fi Tarjamat Shaykh al-Isl\u0101m Ibn H. ajar (al-\u2018Asqal\u0101n\u012b),
ed. H.\u0101mid \u2018Abd al-Maj\u012bd and T. aha al-Zayn\u012b (Cairo: Wiz\u0101rat al-Awq\u0101f,1986) p. 21-22.
3Siyar. There is more in al-Dhahab\u012b\u2019s Tadhkirat al-H. uff\u0101z..
4Narrated by al-Haraw\u012b al-Ans.\u0101r\u012b in his T. abaq\u0101t al-S.\u016bfiyya, Ibn al-Jawz\u012b in S. ifat al-S. afwa, and Ibn al-Qayyim in
Mad\u0101rij al-S\u0101lik\u012bn(2 : 3 3 0 ).
\u2013 you consider correct the wiping of the twok h u ffs [inwu d.\u016b \u2019];
\u2013 the softening of Bismill\u0101h al-Rah. m\u0101n al-Rah. m\u0101n al-Rah.\u012bm in prayer becomes dearer to you than

its recitation outloud;
\u2013 you believe inq a d a r;
\u2013 you pray behind every righteous and unrighteous im\u0101m;
\u2013 you hold that jih\u0101d continues until the Day of Resurrection;

\u2013 you endure patiently under the flag of the sultan whether just or unjust.\u201d

Shu\u2018ayb said: \u201cEvery singleS. a l\u0101 t?\u201d He replied: \u201cNo, onlyJumu\u2018a and the two\u2018\u012a ds, otherwise, you are free to choose and not to pray except behind one you trust and know that he is from Ahl al-Sunna. When you stand before All\u0101h, if He asks you about this, tell him, \u2018My Lord! Sufy\u0101n ibn Sa\u2018\u012bd told me this.\u2019 Then leave me with my Lord.\u201d Al-Dhahab\u012b said: \u201cThis is firmly established as authentic from Sufy\u0101n.\u201d5

He used to give precedence to \u2018Al\u012b over \u2018Uthm\u0101n, which al-Dhahab\u012b calls \u201cslight Sh\u012b\u2018ism.\u201d Yet he narrates that Sufy\u0101n said: \u201cLove of both \u2018Uthm\u0101n and \u2018Al\u012b are not found together except in the heart of the noblest men.\u201d He also narrates that Sufy\u0101n said: \u201cWhoever says that \u2018Al\u012b was more deserving of the Caliphate than Ab\u016b Bakr and \u2018Umar has declared that Ab\u016b Bakr, \u2018Umar, \u2018Al\u012b, theMu h\u0101 jir\u016b n, and the

Ans.\u0101r were all wrong. I am not sure whether such a person\u2019s acts of worship rise to the heaven.\u201d

\u201cWhoever places anybody before Ab\u016b Bakr and \u2018Umar has made light of twelve thousand Companions of the Messenger of All\u0101h# with whom the Messenger of All\u0101h was well-pleased when he died!\u201d Asked about a man who died insulting Ab\u016b Bakr he said: \u201cSuch a man is a disbeliever in All\u0101h Most High.\u201d \u201cDo we pray over him?\u201d \u201cNo, and fie to him!\u201d \u201cBut he says l\u0101 il\u0101ha ill\u0101 All\u0101h?\u201d He replied: \u201cDo not touch him with your hands. Raise him up on a slab of wood until you bring him down into his grave.\u201d

In hisTa fs\u012br Sufy\u0101n said: \u201c!We lead them on" (7:182, 68:44) means We lavish blessings on them but prevent them from giving thanks.\u201d He also said: \u201cHe is not a wise person(fa q\u012bh ) who does not consider difficulties a blessing and fortune a trial.\u201d Sufy\u0101n once spent the night in the house of Ibn Mahd\u012b and started weeping. To his questioners he replied: \u201cI care less for my sins than for this dust, but I fear deprivation of faith before dying.\u201d \u2018At

.\u0101\u2019 al-Khaff\u0101f said he never met Sufy\u0101n except he saw him weeping. When he asked him why, Sufy\u0101n replied, \u201cBecause I am afraid of being written among the wretched in the Mother of the Book.\u201d He also said: \u201cWhoever is content with the world, fear of the next life is removed from his heart.\u201d Yet Qab\u012bs.a said he found Sufy\u0101n so inclined to joking that he lagged behind him whenever he could \u2013 to avoid his jokes \u2013 and \u2018\u012as\u0101 ibn Muh.ammad relates that Sufy\u0101n sometimes laughed to the point of lying down and stretching his legs. Al-Mu\u2018\u0101f\u0101 used to rebuke him, saying: \u201cWhat is this, Sufy\u0101n? This is not the manner of the Ulema!\u201d And Sufy\u0101n would accept it from him.

Sufy\u0101n was the farthest of people from kings and princes. He would not eat at their tables nor return their salaams but he would avoid them and ignore them until they showed humbleness and repentence. Muh. ammad ibn \u2018Abd al-Wahh\u0101b said: \u201cI never saw princes and rich men sit more meekly than in the gathering of Sufy\u0101n al-Thawr\u012b.\u201d In our own time this was also observed from the Moroccan h. ad\u012bth Master Muh. ammad ibn Ja\u2018far al-Katt\u0101n\u012b. Sufy\u0101n also said: \u201cThose kings left the hereafter to you, so leave the world to them!\u201d

Yah.y\u0101 ibn \u2018Abd al-Malik ibn Ab\u012b Ghaniyya said: \u201cI never saw anyone with a sterner face(a s.fa q a
wajhan) for the sake of All\u0101h.\u201d Sufy\u0101n said: \u201cIf a man\u2019s neighbors all praise him, then he is an evil man
because he might have seen them do something wrong and he says nothing and meets them with a
smile; or he is a flatterer.\u201d

Among his sayings: \u201cSafety lies in not being known.\u201d \u201cI never met anyone except they warned me against fame.\u201d \u201cI fear All\u0101h has abandoned thisUmma by having people need me. I wish I could live among people who do not know me.\u201d \u201cThe less people you know, the less slander you commit.\u201d \u201cHaving many brothers is part of folly in one\u2019s Religion.\u201d

Qab\u012bs.a said that no-one sat with Sufy\u0101n except they remembered death. Y\u016bsuf ibn Asbat. narrates that he once handed Sufy\u0101n the ablution-pot in the evening and left him holding it pensively. At dawn, he had not moved and said: \u201cI am still thinking about the next life.\u201d He would reach states of anxiety about the Day of Judgment in which he urinated blood. He said: \u201cI may see something against which I ought to speak out but I do not, then I urinate blood.\u201d He also said: \u201cI felt the fear of God to a point I

5Tadhkira(1 : 2 0 7 ).

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