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The Wasiyyah of 'Alee lbn Abee Taalib to Kumail ibn Ziyaad an-Nakha'eel

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Al-Ibanah Magazine

Kumail ibn Ziyaad said [1] : 'Alee lbn Abee Taalib took hold of my hand and took me off towards the desert so when we reached it he sat down, then took a deep breath and then said:

'Oh Kumail ibn Ziyaad - the hearts are receptacles, so the best of them Is the one which preserves best - memorise what I say to you: The people are three:

  • Aaalim Rabbaanee[2][3],
  • one learning being upon the path of salvation,
  • and the confused rabble who follows everyone who calls out - bending along with every wind - they are not enlightened by the light of knowledge, nor do they lean upon a firm support.

Knowledge is better than wealth - knowledge Is a protection for you whereas It Is you that has to protect wealth. Zakaat of knowledge Is action whereas spending decreases wealth, and love of the scholar is Deen.Knowledge brings about obedience for the scholar In his lifetime and good repute after his death whereas the benefit of wealth ceases when It passes away. The hoarders of wealth have died while they are alive, whereas the scholars remain for as long as time remains - their persons are lost but their examples are there In the hearts.

Here, Indeed here - (and he pointed to his chest) - there Is Knowledge If only I could find bearers for it[4]. But instead I have found them quick to comprehend but not trustworthy - they use what pertains to the Deen for worldly ends, they seek to use Allaah's proofs against His Book blindly following the people of truth but having no Insight regarding receiving It, doubt pierces his heart when anything problematic arises - he Is neither this nor that - (He does not know where the truth lies. If it is said he is mistaken - and if he Is mistaken he does not know. He Is ardently In love with something the true state of which he does not know - so he is a trial for others. And Indeed the utmost good is for the one whom Allaah grants understanding of His Deen. And it is enough ignorance for a person that he does not know his Deen.)[5] - or one passionately addicted to pleasures, accustomed to following desires, or one given to amassing wealth and piling it up - and these are not from the callers to the Deen - they are most like the grazing cattle. [6]

And thus knowledge passes away with the passing away of those who carry it.[7] Oh Allaah yes, the earth will not be without one who stands upright for Allaah, with proof so that Allaah's proofs and clear signs are not abolished - they are the ones who are few in number but having most value to Allaah , with them Allaah asserts His proofs amongst their contemporaries and cultivate them In the hearts of ones similar to them. With them knowledge assaults and comes upon the true state of affairs - so that which those accustomed to easy living find difficult therein, they find easy and they are at home with that which causes consternation to the ignorant ones. They live In this world with their bodies whereas their souls are attached to higher things - they are Allaah's ' ambassador's [8] In His land and the callers to His Deen. Oh how I would like to see them and I seek Allaah's forgiveness for myself and for you - if you wish then stand. [9]


1. He is an-Nakha'ee, he was noble and had authority amongst his people, reliable, from the Taabi'een. Was captured and killed by at-Hajjaal ath-Thaqafee in 82H. See al-Ma'warifah wat-Taareekh [2/481] of al-Fasawee.

2. Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee says in al-faqeeh- wal-Mutafaqqih [1/50-51] . And the Chief of the Believers 'Alee lbn Abee Taalib's division of the people Is certainly correct and true since a person having sanity and nothing to prevent him will certainly fall Into one of the three classes- either being a scholar, a student or one oblivious to knowledge-being neither a scholar nor a student seeking knowledge. So the 'Aalim Rabbaanee is the one than whom none Is more excellent and no mujtahid has a station higher than this. And his description as' Rabbaanee' is what knowledge demands for Its people... And as for the student on the path of salvation - then he Is the one who studies so that he does not miss out on performing anything obligatory upon him - anxious to avoid being neglectful of them and to avoid sitting with the animals and some of the earlier people would avoid sitting with the animals and some of the earlier people would avoid except a person of knowledge. And as for the third class then they are those who neglect their own souls, those who are pre-occupied with this vile world and miserable condition which is the lowest pit....

3. He is the scholar who acts on his knowledge and has insight into the condition of the people so that he raises them upon the primary matters of knowledge before that which is more detailed.

4. lbn Abil 'Izz al-Hanafee said In al-lttibaa' [p.86].. 'So in this narration the Chief of Believers - radhiallahu' anhu - divided the blame worthy carriers of Knowledge Into three classes: (i) The wicked innovator who is not trustworthy and does not have Eemaan - who rejects the truth which the Book came with, and despises the creation and argues about the signs of Aliaah without any authority - there is In his heart only pride. (il) The blind - follower who follows without clear guidance or certainty. (ill) The follower of desires of the body and wealth."

5. Added from Jaami Bayain il-'Ilm [2/113]

6 It Is not hidden from the Rabbaaniyyoon that the Shaitaans of men and jinn attack the human soul with two weapons:

(1) Doubts - in order to wreck a person's thinking so that he goes astray,

(2) Desires - in order to wreck his conduct so that he is seduced - see aayah 27 of Sooratun-Nisaa' -

And the Believer who strives to make up for his shortcomings fights these enemies with two sharp and strong weapons:

(1) al-Yaqeen (certainty) - which crushes the doubts and confusion.

(2) as-Sabr (patient perseverance) - which crushes the whims and desires. So he who chooses this way is an imaam for the pious - and Is leadership in the Deen attained except through certainty and patient perseverance?! Our true Guardian says: - And We appointed from among them, Leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith In our signs.. [as-Sajdah:24]

7. And the proof of that is the saying of Allaah's Messenger sallallahu alaihi wa sallam- "Indeed Allah does not snatch away knowledge from the servants but he takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars - until when there is no scholar remaining the people take Ignorant ones as heads, so they are asked and give verdict without knowledge (and in an narration ' so they give verdict according to their opinion) so they go astray and lead others astray.. [Reported from the hadeeth of 'Abdullaah ibn 'Amr in (al-Bukharee wa Musilm), Aa'ishah (al-Bazzaar & al-Khateeb In Taareekh Baghdaad) and Abu Hurairah (at-Tabaraanee In al-A wsat.)] And its isnaad Is saheeh.

8 Original: Khulafaa about which Saleem al-Hilaalee says: ' This wording is objectionable [i.e. Is not authentically reported In a marfoo' hadeeth.'

9 Reported by Abu Nu'aim in Hulyatul-Awliyaa'[1/79-80] and from him al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee in al-Faqeeh wal mutafaqqih.[1/49-50]

Translator: Dawud Burbank

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