Hassan Al-Basri, a beacon of knowledge

Updated 09 July 2012

Hassan Al-Basri, a beacon of knowledge

Hassan Al-Basri (21-110 A.H.) emerged as one of th e greatest theologian tutor of Basra, leader of the scholars of his time and well known for his strict and encompassing embodiment of the Sunnah. He is also famous for his immense knowledge, fearless remonstration of the authorities with power of attraction in discourse and as the adviser to Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz.
It was in 21 Al-Hijra, just a decade after the death of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), that he was born to Yasr and Khayrah in Madinah. Musa was a freed slave of Zaid bin Thabit, who embraced Islam at the hands of Caliph Abu Bakr Siddique.
His wife, Khayrah, served as a housemaid to Umm Salma, the wife of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). The mother took the new baby to Caliph Umar bin Al-Khattab. After seeing his beautiful face he named him Hassan and prayed for him saying "Oh Allah! Make him wise in religion and beloved to the people."
He was raised in the household of Zaid bin Thabit, who was one of the seven Sahaba fuqaha (jurists) who was selected to compile the Holy Qur'an and was reared by Umm Salma who taught him the teachings of the prophet. After he grew up, he became a student in the Prophet's Mosque. He acquired knowledge from leading companions of the Prophet. He once remarked, "By Allah! I have met 70 warriors of Badar. He also memorized the Qur'an and learned reading, writing and mathematics. At the age of 14 he became the disciple of Ali bin Abi Taleb and became one of the most prominent figures of his generation because of his piety.

At the age of 15, he migrated with his parents to Basra. This earned him the name Hassan Basri. In those days, Basra was the biggest city of knowledge. Hassan attended the discourses of Abdullah bin Abbas on Tafseer and Tajweed and learned recitation of the Qur'an from Hattaan bin Abdullah Ar-Riqashi. He also attended sittings where Ibn Surayyi At-Tameemi delivered sermons. He soon became a narrator of Hadith and recorded more than 1,400 Hadiths in nine books.

He narrated Hadiths quoting Usman bin Affan, Ali bin Abi Taleb, Abu Musa Al Ash'aree, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin Abbas, Anas bin Malik and Jabir bin Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with them all). He used to talk about life after death, drawing the attention of his audience to the religious and moral defects that they might have, and how they could overcome them according to what he had learned from the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of the Prophet and from the Prophet's companions.

Hassan Al-Basri used to hold a large class in the Grand Mosque of Basra in which he taught people the Qur’an, Hadith, jurisprudence, the Arabic language and Tajweed. He also established a madrasa in Basra. He had a wide circle of disciples and students and became renowned as a brilliant orator. Arab scholars have preserved many of his speeches, letters and aphorisms. He was famous and respected not only for his knowledge and wisdom, but also for his tremendous humility and piety. Hassan lived for more than 80 years during which he served his community through his knowledge and wisdom.
Rabia Basri, the most famous lady of Basra and who was born in 95 AH and lived till 185 AH, also had discussions with him. Hassan used to frequently advise rulers and governors and never feared anybody except Allah. He lived in Iraq when Al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf was the governor but he used to criticize him severely for his harsh policies. Later he became a close friend and adviser of Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz, who loved him and consulted him on state affairs. He also acted as the voluntary judge of Basra in 102 A.H. Abu Burdah said, "I have never seen a man (other than Hassan Al-Basri) who, though did not accompany the Sahaba, resembled them."
Abu Qatadah Al-Adawi said, "Follow this scholar, for I have never seen a man except him who had opinions similar to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab."
Hassan said, "Son of Adam, you have no more than a few days. Whenever a day passes, a part of your life goes."
He also said that, "Son of Adam, never please anybody if this entails the wrath of Allah. Never obey anybody if this entails disobedience to Allah..."
He further said, "This world is like a carrier (camel) for you. If you ride it, it will deliver you to your destination. But if it rides you, it will lead you to destruction."
Hassan Al-Basri died at the age of 89 on Rajab 5, 110 A.H. at Basra. The entire population of Basra attended his funeral. May Almighty Allah shower His blessings on his soul.
-


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.