1. Al-Hasan al-Basri used to say: “Beware of being an executor for someone’s estate [if you can avoid it]. Because an executor might be unjust in his execution of the will, no matter how hard he tries to be just.”
2. Abu Yusuf, the companion of Abu Hanifa, May God have mercy on him, used to say: “Voluntarily accepting to be an estate executor the first time is a mistake, the second time it is treachery. There are no words to be spoken after this.”
3. Ka’b al-Ahbar saw a man wronging someone on Jumu’ah (Friday). He said to him: “Do you not fear oppressing people on the day that the Resurrection will be established and Adam, peace upon him, was created?”
4. ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud, May God be pleased with him, used to say: “One who directly assists an oppressor, or provides false testimony that is used to undermine the right of another Muslim [or non-Muslim], has incurred the anger of God.”
5. Fudayl b. ‘Iyad used to say: “We have heard that when God desires to bless His servant he sends to him one who oppresses him.
Al-Sha’rani then mentions the following prophetic tradition: “Whoever prays against an oppressor will receive divine succor.” Tirmidhi
6. Yahya b. Mu’adh used to say: “When someone oppresses me and I find no way of human redress, that[is a situation] more beloved to me.”
Note: For he knows that God will redress the situation and assist him in incredible ways.
7. The Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali, May God be pleased with him, used to say: “In reality no one oppresses anyone else, nor does he offend him, for God has said [in the Qur’an]: Whosoever does good it is for the benefit of his own soul, and whosoever does wrong it is against himself. (45:15)
Note: We should reflect deeply on this point and behave accordingly.
8. Ahmad b. Harb used to say: “There are people who leave this world wealthy because of their abundant good deeds. Then on the Day of Resurrection they are impoverished because of what they owe to the people they have oppressed.”
9. Sufyan al-Thawri used to say: “That you meet God with seventy sins that involve yourself and His rights is lighter than meeting Him with one sin that involves yourself and the rights of others.”
Al-Sha’rani adds: “Reflect my brother on the caution of the early devotees, and follow their example, for you are on the brink of ruination. One who is cautious will be safe. And all praise is for God, Lord of the Worlds.
A-Sha’rani then mentions: “Among their characteristics is their intense fear when the horrors of the Day of Resurrection are mentioned. Similarly, [their characteristics include] the frequency of their fainting or dropping dead when they hear the Qur’an or God’s mention. The Messenger of God, peace upon him, recited [the following verse] one day: Surely we possess strangling chains, a blazing inferno, putrid food, and an excruciatingly painful punishment… (73:12-13) At the time Humran b. A’ayan was standing behind the Prophet, peace upon him. Upon hearing this verse he dropped dead, May God be pleased with him.
11. Yazid al-Raqqashi entered upon ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz one day and said: “O Commander of the Faithful, you will be the youngest Khalifa to die.” ‘Umar started weeping and said: “Tell me more.” He said: “None of your forefathers back to Adam are alive.” ‘Umar again wept and said: “Tell me more.” He said: “There is no third station between heaven and hell.” [Hearing this], ‘Umar fainted.
12. Al-Hasan b. Salih was making the Adhan one day. Upon saying: “I testify that there is no god but Allah” he fainted. They carried him down from the minaret. His brother ascended the minaret, made the Adhan, and led the prayer while Hasan was still unconscious. Abu Sulayman al-Darani said: “I never saw anyone more reverent than Hasan [b. Salih].” One night he spent the entire night reciting the Qur’anic chapter, ‘Amma Yatasa’alun (78), in prayer. He repeatedly passed out until the break of dawn. He was unable to complete the chapter. Each time he passed out he renewed his purification.
13. Dawud al-Ta’i passed a woman weeping at a grave. She said: “I wish I knew which of your cheeks the worms were eating first.” Hearing this Dawud fainted.
14. Sha’wana al-‘Abida used to say in her invocations: “My God! You are the noblest of all, you are the Lord of all masters, the aspiration of all Muslims. I ask that today you forgive every sinner who has been exposed to rebellion against you after he heard of your punishment. She then screamed and fainted.”
15. The Commander of the Faithful, ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, May God be pleased with him, one day started reciting, When the sun is folded up (81:1) … until he reached the verse, ...and when the scrolls [containing the record of peoples deeds] are spread out… (81:10) he then fainted and lay convulsing on the ground for a long while.
16. Rabi’a b. Khaytham, upon hearing someone reciting the verse, When it [the blazing hell-fire] beholds them from afar, they will hear its fury and lustful panting (25:12), fainted. He was carried to his house and missed the noon, afternoon, evening, and night prayers [due to the length of his unconsciousness]. He was the Imam of his neighborhood. The person he heard reciting was ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud, May God be pleased with him.
17. Abu Sulayman al-Darani used to say: “Sufyan al-Thawri once prayed two units of prayer behind the Station of Abraham [at the Sacred Mosque]. He then cast his glance towards the heavens and fainted.” Al-Darani adds: “That did not happen just because he gazed towards the heavens. Rather, it was due to his reflection on the horrors of the [Day] of Resurrection.”
18. Wahb b. Munannib used to say: “When Abraham, peace upon him, remembered his error (His saying by way of argument, This [the moon] is my Lord.) he would faint and his heart’s convulsion could be heard a mile away. It was said to him, ‘You are affected to this extent while you are the Friend of God?’ He replied, ‘When I remember my error I forget my friendship with God.’ ”
19. Wahb also mentioned: “Fudayl b. ‘Iyad prayed the dawn prayer one day and started reciting Ya Sin until he reached the following verse: It was but a lone explosive scream and suddenly they are all gathered before us, present.. (36:53) His son ‘Ali [hearing this] fainted and did not recover consciousness until after the sun has risen.” This son of his, ‘Ali, could not complete the recitation of a single chapter of the Qur’an [owing to the sensitivity of his heart]. He could not even begin listening to the chapter, When the earth is violently convulsed (99:1), or, The Numbing Shock of the Resurrection (101:1). When he passed away, his father (Fudayl) smiled. He was asked about that as he was an extremely sober individual. He replied, ‘God liked for him to die and I like what God likes.’ His son used to ask him, ‘Pray to God that I am able to complete the recitation of a complete chapter from the Qur’an or that I am able to recite it from beginning to end before I die.’ ”
20. Al-Hasan al-Basri used to say: “One of you used to recite part of the Qur’an at night. When he went out in the morning people would know of his devotion due to the changed appearance of his face. Now someone will recite the entirety of the scripture in a single night and it has no affect on his face whatsoever.”
21. Maymun b. Mihran used to say: “Salman al-Farisi, May God be pleased with him, heard someone reciting, Surely, they all have an appointment with Hell… (15:43), he then screamed, placed his hand on his head, and wandered aimlessly in a dazed stupor for three days.”
Al-Sha’rani says: “Reflect on the state of your forebears, my brother! Have you ever fainted upon hearing the words of your Lord, be He mighty and majestic? Or is it that you have never been thus affected? Have you even been prevented from seeing yourself as a dissimulator due to the hardness of your heart? Be careful and fast frequently for it softens the heart. …and all praise is for God, Lord of the Worlds.”
He adds: “Among their characteristics, May God be pleased with them, is their hearts becoming detached from their bodies whenever they fall ill, understanding that that illness may be the one that marks their exit from this world. Thereafter, they will be unable to repent or restore any right they may have usurped. They will then move on to the Hereafter as a rebellious sinner. [Their state is] like a slave who violated his master’s wife, and then is brought before him while he is at the height of his rage ̶ and unto God is the loftiest parable.”
22. Hassan b. Sinan fell once fell ill. His companions came to visit him. They asked, “How are you?” He replied: “Fine, if I am saved from the hellfire.” They asked: “What do you want?” He responded: “A nice long night that I can spend in prayer and seeking God’s forgiveness before I die.”
23. Malik b. Dinar said: “I visited a neighbor of mine while he was fighting a terminal illness, yet he was still engaging in sin. I asked him: ‘Why don’t you take an oath with God that you will not rebel against Him? If you do so with sincerity you might die in a state of obedience.’ I then heard a voice calling our from the house, ‘If his oath is like the oaths most of you take and then break with impunity there is no good in it. Rather it will only make him more hated and rejected. [Hearing this] Malik fainted.”
24. Al-Rabi’a b. Khashram was asked during the illness that would claim his life: “Should we call a doctor for you?” He fell silent for a while and then said: “Where [is your reflection] on the verse, And [we destroyed] ‘Ad, Thamud, the People of Rass, and many generations between them. To each of them we set forth parables, then we visited upon them utter annihilation (25:38-39). This punishment befell them despite the fact that they had healers and doctors in their midst. Still they all perished.” He then said: “By God! Never request a doctor for me.”
25. A group of people visited Mughira al-Kharaz during his terminal illness. They asked him: “How are you?” He said: “Weighed down by the burden of my sins.” They inquired: “Do you long for anything?” He said: “That God bless me to repent from everything He dislikes before my death.”
26. Sufyan b. ‘Uyayna used to say: “We visited Fudayl b. ‘Iyad during an illness. He said: “It would have been better had you not come. I fear that I might complain against God’s decree to you.”
27. Yahya b. Mu’adh relates: “We once visited a sick person and asked him: “How are you?” He replied: “I came into this world reluctantly; I lived in it oppressively; now I am leaving it remorsefully.”
28. When ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz fell ill they brought him a doctor. The doctor took one look at him and said: “Fear of God has shattered his liver. There is nothing I can do to treat him.”
29. Whenever Shaddad b. Hakim was afflicted with a disease he would give a hundred silver coins in charity, because he was so thankful to God for sending him the disease [and thereby expiate some of his sins].”
30. ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, would not seek medical treatment when he fell ill. They once asked him: “Should we not call a doctor for you?” He replied: “If I knew I could be cured by rubbing my ear, I would not rub it. Whatever my Lord does with me is good.”
Note: These sayings are not to discourage medical treatment. There is much in the prophetic tradition and the practice of the early generations to encourage seeking medical help at the time of illness. They are mentioned to illustrate the depth of faith and pleasure with the divine decree possessed by these notables.
31. When some people visited Yahya b. Mu’adh during an illness he was fighting, they asked him: “How are you?” He replied: “I spent my time on earth as an oppressor.”
32. Imam al-Shafi’i was asked: “How are you?” He responded: “I am now in the process of leaving the world and due to the vileness of my actions I have bad waiting to meet me. Hence, I am totally depending on my Lord’s [mercy].”
33. One of the political leaders visited Dawud al-Ta’i during an illness that befell him, and placed one thousand gold coins next to him. Dawud said to him: “Take them back, may God protect you.” He asked: “Do you not have any needs?” Dawud responded: “Yes, that you never visit me again. “ Dawud then turned to others who were present and said: “This person wishes to increase my already filthy state.”
34. Some people visited Fudayl b. ‘Iyad during his illness and asked him: “What do you want?” He replied: “To just look at my brother Yusuf b. Asbat before I die.”
35. When Hatim al-Asamm saw a miser giving charity during a terminal illness he prayed: “O God! Prolong his illness. That is a means of atonement for his sins and it is better for the poor people.”
36. Some people asked Muhammad b. Sirrin during the final phase of the disease that would claim his life: “How are you?” He replied: “I find myself in the throes of a tremendous tribulation. I am hungry yet I cannot satiate myself. I am thirsty yet I cannot placate my thirst. I recline yet I can find no sleep.” They said: “He seldom complained of anything. However, the disease became so intense that he complained to his brothers asking them to pray that God treats him gently.”
37. Fudayl b. ‘Iyad once fell ill. Some people asked him: “How are you?” He replied: “Fine. However, pray that God prolongs my illness in order that I do not have to see anyone, and they are spared seeing me.”
38. Some people came to visit Abu Bakr b. ‘Abdullah during an illness. He came out to receive them propped up between two men. They said to him: “Pray for us.” He said: “May God have mercy on anyone who is preoccupied with His worship before they reach this state of mine.”
39. When Salman al-Farisi was on the verge of death he wept and said: “The Messenger of God, peace upon him, advised us: ‘Let your worldly provisions be like that of a horseman.’ Look at me! I have collected all of this stuff.” He then pointed to his possessions. When he died his estate was valued at fifteen thousand silver coins.
40. When Ibrahim al-Nakha’i was on the verge of death he wept. He was asked the reason for his tears. He replied: “I am waiting for a messenger from my Lord and I do not know if he will give me tidings of heaven or hell.”
41. When Muhammad b. al-Munkadir was on the verge of death he wept. He was asked: “What has moved you to tears?” He replied: “I am weeping over the sins that I considered petty, now I realize they are grave with God.”
42. As Muhammad b. Sirrin was approaching his death he wept. He was asked: “Why are you weeping?” He responded: “I am weeping owing to the time I wasted during days of idleness, and [the possibility] that I will be ushered into Hell.”
43. When ‘Umar b. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz was on the verge of death he prayed: “O God! I have sinned. If you forgive me, you have bestowed your grace upon me. If you punish me you have acted justly and not oppressed me in any way. In any case, I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” He then expired, may God be pleased with him.”
44. As ‘Amir b. Qays drew near to death he cried and said: “I am not crying because I fear death or long for the world. Rather, I am crying because I have not fulfilled the right of obedience owed to my Lord, nor have I prayed as I should have during the long winter nights.”
45. When ‘Abdullah b. al-Mubarak was on the verge of death he said to a young man attending him: “Place my head on the dirt.” The young man wept. He asked him: “Why are you weeping?” The youth replied: “I recalled the comfort I enjoy, while you are dying in this state.” He said: “I asked my Lord that I die in this state.” He then said: “My brother! Encourage me to say La ilaha illah Allah if my state changes. Only repeat it to me if I say anything else after uttering it after you.”
46. ‘Ata b. Yasar used to say: “Iblis sat in from of Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal and said: “O Ahmad! You are exiting the world safe from me [having never given in to my temptation].” Imam Ahmad responded: “I am still not safe from you.”
Note: One of the times we are most vulnerable to the temptation of Satan is during our last moments of life. May God bless us all to be firm in our adherence to the truth at that time.
47. When Abu Dharr, may God be pleased with him, was breathing his last he said: “O Death! Strangle me and be quick with it, I long to meet my Lord.”
48. Abu al-Darda’ visited a dying person. He found him praising God. He said to him: “You are right my brother. When God degrees a matter, He loves for His servant to praise him for it.”
49. Sufyan al-Thawri visited a boy who was about to surrender his soul. His parents were crying. The boy said to them: “Do not cry for me for I am going to one who is more merciful to me than the two of you.”
50. When Mu’awiya b. Abi Sufyan was on the verge of death he prayed: “O God! Have mercy on an elderly sinner with a hard heart. O God! View my stumbles as being few and forgive me my slips. [Fulfill] the promise of your forbearance for the ignorance of one who trusts now in no one else, and entertains hope in none other than you.” He then wept until his sobbing grew quite loud.
(end of part five)