Posted by: Dawud Israel | October 10, 2017

70 Sayings of Hasan al-Basri

Sayings of Hasan al-Basri

We ordinary Muslims and students of Islamic knowledge are a world apart from the Sahaba. But between the Sahaba and us were wise men like Hasan al-Basri, who had guidance for us in new and challenging situations.

Hasan al-Basri was a Tabi’i, grew up in the household of the Mother of the Believers, Umm Salama (ra), was given tahnik, dua and his name Hasan (‘beautiful’) by Umar (ra)  and was and one of the first true Sufis. He lived in a time of political turmoil, and was so intelligent the Mu’tazila (falsely) claim him as their founder. It is said his speech is closest to resembling that of the Prophetﷺ.

He is one of the biggest influences in my understanding of Islam and Muslims. His words guide and point me in the right direction when it comes to spirituality and politics amongst Muslims, two areas where their is much laxity and misunderstanding.

I have collected from my readings, from talks I’ve heard, and elsewhere on the internet Hasan al-Basri’s sayings. I am not concerned with citation, only attribution. I have memorized many of these sayings and one will find in them Hasan al-Basri’s signature wisdom.

    1. “Bury yourself and the desire to be known.”
    2. “Food was Adam’s trial and it is your trial until the Day of Qiyama.”
    3. Hasan al-Basri once said that if we were able to see the Muslims who fought at Badr, we would think that they were madmen because of their disregard of the world. “But if these Companions saw the best of you they would say, ‘These people have no character.’ And if they saw the worst of you, they would say, ‘These people do not believe in the Day of Judgment.’” (From Hamza Yusuf Purification of the Heart)
    4. “If a man swore by Allah that Hasan’s actions are not those of someone who believes in Day of Judgement, I would say, ‘sadaqta, do not expiate your oath because it is true.'”
    5. Hasan al-Basri is reported to have said: “Believe the scholars in all that they say except what they say about each other.” يروى عن الحسن البصري أنه قال: صدقوا العلماء في كل ما يقولون إلا فيما يقول بعضهم عن بعض
    6. A man asked Hasan al-Basri to whom he should marry his daughter to? Al-Hasan replied, “To someone who fears Allah. If he loves her, he will honour her. And if he detests her, he will not mistreat her.”
    7. “Do not be deceived by the hadith ‘A man is with whom he loves’ when [you suffer from] distraction, illusion and the desertion of good works, for the Ahlul Kitab love their Prophets but are of certainty not with them.”
    8. قال حسن البصري رضي الله تعالی عنه وددت لو کان لی مثل جبل احد ذھبا فانفقته علی قراءة مولد النبي صلی الله علیه وسلم  “I would like have gold equivalent to the Mountain of Uhud so that I should be able to spend it on the Mawlid Sharif of the Holy Prophetﷺ.” [An-Ne’mat al-Kubra, Page 6, Published Istanbul – Turkey]
    9. “O slaves of God! A piece of wood misses the Messenger of God! It is you who should do so.” (referring to the tree Rasulullahﷺ would preach near)
    10. law qanatil akhira khazaf yabka wa dunya dhahab yafna la kanal awla – “If the akhira was just pot that would last forever, and the dunya was gold that you’d have temporarily, you’d obviously choose that which would last forever. How then when the dunya is lesser than pot that will perish and akhira is like gold that will last forever!?” (From Yahya Rhodus class on Disciplining the Soul)
    11. Man naqala ilaika hadeethan fa’lam annahu yanqulu ilaa ghairika hadeethaka – “Whoever brings to you someone’s discourses, know that he also takes your discourses to others.”
    12. “He who remembers death (at least) 20 times a day is one of the Awliya (every night and day)”
    13. “Stay away from the busying aspects of life, and surely, life has abundant busying aspects. Every man who indulges in an aspect of life that fills his time, then the door he opened will open ten more doors of busying aspects for him.”
    14. “Better to be a musician than profit (monetarily) from Islam.” (from Shaykh Samer al-Nass)
    15. “The last bad trait that gets out of the hearts of the champions of truth is love for leadership/fame.”
    16. When Hasan al-Basri was asked the question concerning the wars between the noble Companions of the Prophetﷺ he replied, “Those were fights in which the Companions were present and we were not. They knew all the circumstances and we do not know them. The matter in which the Companions are unanimous, we follow; and the matter in which there is difference of opinion, we observe silence.”
    17. “The intelligent person’s tongue is behind his heart: when he wants to speak, he first thinks. If [his words] will be in his favor, he says them, and if they will be against him, he does not speak. And the ignorant person’s heart is behind his tongue: when he merely thinks of saying something, he says it, whether it is for or against him.”
    18. “Who says good but doesn’t do good will have his words compared to his deeds by Allah…”
    19. “The righteous salaf were as fearful of their good deeds being squandered, or not being accepted, as the present generation is certain that their neglect will be forgiven.”
    20. “If it were not for the munafiqoon (hypocrites), you would feel all alone in the streets (the streets would be empty).”
    21. “If there is music involved in a dinner invitation to a walima, then do not accept the invitation.”
    22. ya ibn Adam inama anta ayyam, dhahaba yaumun dhahaba ba’dhuka – “O son of Adam, you are nothing but a mere collection of days. Whenever a day passes by, a part of you passes away.”
    23. “Allah ordained that the ultimate resting place of believers will be paradise no less.” He reflected that, saying, “Death made life tasteless for the wise. Sadness in life regenerates many rewards.”
    24. utlub al-‘ilma wa zayyinoohu bil waqaari wa al-hilm – “Seek knowledge and beautify it with dignity and maturity.”
    25. Al-Hasan al-Basri said when he heard a group of people arguing: “These people have become bored with worship, and speech has become light upon (their tongue), and their piety has decreased and that is why they speak.” (Narrated by Ahmad in az-Zuhd and Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilyah)
    26. Hasan al-Basri: ‘The inmates of hell will be burnt seventy thousand times daily. Every time after having been burnt, their bodies would be restored. Thus this process will continue.” [Targhib]
    27. “One type of an innovator in this Deen, is a person of bad judgment who believes that Paradise is for those whose judgement is the same as their own.”
    28. “If the salt goes bad, then what hope is there to improve the food?” (From Youtube clip of Gibril Haddad)
    29. A man asked Ata’ about reciting the Qur’an on the funeral. He said: “We never learnt or heard that it is recited upon.” The man said: Al-Hasan says that we have to recite. Atta then said: “Follow this, because Al-Hasan is a great scholar.”
    30. Hasan al-Basri once said, “Seek sweetness in 3 things: Ritual prayer, Remembrance, and the recitation of the Quran. If you find it, then praised be God! But if you do not, then know that the door is closed.” (From Habib Ahmad Mashuur al-Haddad’s Keys to the Garden)
    31. Once Hasan described the effect of the Qur’an on the believer. He said: “Son of Adam! By God if you recite the Qur’an then believe in it then your sadness will be long in this life, so will be your fear and your weeping.” That is why one contemporary of Al-Hasan says: “I never saw anyone who had such a long time of sadness as Al-Hasan al-Basri. Everytime I met him I thought he had a new misfortune.”
    32. “That work that is free from wisdom becomes a burden. That silence that is free from wisdom is inattentiveness. That sight that is free from wisdom is disgraceful. The magnificence of knowledge is with tolerance and that of tolerance is with knowledge. The person who lives in the World safeguarding himself from the love of the World, has benefited himself and others. Sorrow gives the soul strength. The freedom of sight and tongue imprisons the soul. Whoever Allah subhana wa ta’ala wished to disgrace becomes engrossed in the search of wealth. Those people are truly afraid who are truly afraid of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. The punishment of this World is that your heart becomes dead. There is no greater or bigger animal that is more foul mouthed ruder and harsher than the Nafs.”
    33. From Kitab al-Yaqin of Ibn Abi Dunya Hasan al-Basri offers a list of the features that characterize a Muslim: “Among the signs for the Muslim are strength {quwwa) when professing religion (din), resolve (hazm) when circumstances are easy (layyin), faith {iman) when certain {yaqin), civility {hilm) when learned (‘ilm), quick-wittedness (kays) when circumstances are comfortable (rifq), giving (‘ita) when something is required (haqq), pursuit of the middle course (qasd) when wealthy (ghina), patience (tajammul) when poor (faqa) doing good (ihsan) when able (qudra), obedience (ta’a) when well-advised (nasiha), caution (tawarru’) when desirous (raghba), restraint (ta’affuf) when trying hard (jahd), and patience (sabr) in misfortune (shidda). His desirousness (raghba) does not destroy him; his tongue (lisan) does not speak before he does; his sight (basar) does not grasp before he does; his freedom from sorrow (faraj) does not overwhelm him; his passion (hawa) does not deviate; what is within him (batn) does not put him to shame; his anxiousness (hirs) does not see him belittled; and his right intention (niyya) does not fall short of what he required.”
    34. Hasan al-Basri once swore by God that he will be humiliated by God who honours money. That is why he said: “Two bad comrades are the dinar and the dirham. They are useful to you only when they leave you.”
    35. It is reported that Al-Hasan Al-Basrī – Allāh have mercy on him – said: “Verily, Allāh lets [a person] enjoy a blessing for as long as He wills. But when He is no longer thanked for it, He turns it into a punishment.” (Ibn Abī Al-Dunyā, Kitāb Al-Shukr article 17)
    36. It is reported that Al-Hasan Al-Basri – Allah have mercy on him – said: “If people called on Allah when put to trial because of their rulers, Allah would relieve their suffering; but instead they resorted to the sword, so they were left to it. And not one day of good did they bring. Then he recited (Quran 7: 137): And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, for the patience and perseverance they had, and We destroyed the works of Pharaoh and his people and what they had erected. -[Ibn Abi Hatim, Al-Tafsir no. 8897]
    37. “Adorn hadith with yourself. Don’t adorn yourself with hadith”
    38. “Sulayman sacrificed his race horses since they distracted him from salah and was given better – control of the wind.”
    39. “Do not sit idle for death is seeking you.”
    40. Hasan al-Basri feared Allah so much he didn’t eat for 3 days
    41. “Silent dua / silent dhikr is 70 times more meritorious than when done aloud.”
    42. “Whoever truly knows his Lord loves Him and whoever truly knows the world does without it.”
    43. When people came to Hasan al-Basri, he said “Hajjaj might be a punishment against you so how can you fight against a punishment with your swords?” So he said don’t fight him.
    44. On the verse: Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties, for the price that theirs shall be Paradise. (Surah Tawbah 9:112) Hasan al-Basri said: “He creates you, and bought it back, for the prices of Jannah– look at that mercy!)”
    45. Hasan al-Basri said: adraktu aqwaman kana ahadahum asha-ha ala umrihi minhu ala dirhami –  “I sat in the company of the sahaba and I found them more possessive over their time than over their wealth.”
    46. Hasan al-Basri said to use Surah Qalam, v. 51-2 to cure the evil eye. A man was known to have strong evil eye, could kill camels with his glance and tried to use it to kill Prophet but failed.
    47. Difference of opinion on what is tahajjud in Surah Muzzamil, verse 6, nasih’at which means any prayer after Isha (Hasan al-Basri opinion), entire night (Ibn Abbas, Zubair) or later part of night (Ibn Kasian) so performing any prayer after isha fulfills this command though tahajjud meant waking in later part of night for prayer
    48. Explanation of Hasan al-Basri on qiraman qatibeen, “they’re records will be folded and placed around your neck (like a necklace) and will go with you to your grave. When you rise from your grave on the Day of Judgment Allah will say, (Bani Israel, v. 13,14): “And every human’s deeds We have tied up to his neck…Read your book. This day you yourself are enough to take your own account).” Hasan al-Basri then said: “The Supreme Being has done a great justice in that He has appointed you to take account of your own actions!” (Ibn Kathir)
    49. Habib Al-Abid reports: Once, when I arrived in Al-Basrah, I was surprised to see that the markets were closed, and the streets empty. I called out, “O people of Basrah, is this some kind of holiday of yours that I don’t know about.” Someone answered, “No, but Al-Hasan Al-Basri is in the main gathering place (of Basrah), giving a sermon to the people.” I hurried to his gathering, and when I arrived there, I saw him sitting down on some high ground. He was saying: “O people, prepare for departure, for very little time remains from this world. Prepare to move (to the Hereafter), for there is no way to stay here. Do you not know that you will soon be surrendered to the place of trial? Do you not know that each one of you will soon be alone with his deeds and that you will be presented (with your deeds) to Allah on the Day of Judgment? He ordered you to obey Him, bu you have not obeyed Him. He forbade you from sinning, but you have not desisted from perpetrating (sins). He has (threatened) you with the Hell-fire, but you are neither afraid not terrified of it. He has encouraged you to seek out Paradise, but you do not (seem to) desire it or long for it. Your white hairs are warning you of approaching death, so what are you waiting for? O white-haired one, you are able to perform good deeds, so what is your excuse. O one who obeys his mouth and his desires, who wastes his share of the hereafter by taking his entire share in this world, who persists in perpetrating sins and evil deeds – would that I knew: what will your excuse be when you stand before Him? What argument will you put forth when you go to Him? You are lost and misguided, so ask Allah, the All-Mighty, to forgive both me and you.”
    50. It is reported that ‘Umar bin ‘Abd Al- ‘Aziz once wrote to Hasan al Basri to get a brief exhortation from him, so Al-Hasan wrote back , “The dunya distracts and preoccupies the heart and body, but al-zuhd (asceticism, not giving importance to worldly things) gives rest to the heart and body. Verily, Allah will ask us about the halal things we enjoyed, so what about the haram!’ [Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Zuhd Al-Kabir, article 26]
    51. Hasan Basri advised some of his students admonishing them about avoiding the state of being proud. He said: “Do not deceive yourself into being too proud because you are in  a good or righteous environment, for there is no place that is better than Paradise, and our father, Adam (as), experienced there what is known to all. Do not become proud merely because you worship often, for consider what happened to Iblis (Satan) after he spent a great deal of time worshiping. Do not think yourself great because you have met with righteous people, for there is no man more righteous than the Prophetﷺ, yet the disbelievers and hypocrites did not benefit by simply knowing him.” [Taken from “Gems And Jewels”, P. 182]
    52. Yunus bin ‘Ubaid said: ‘I have not seen anyone with more feeling of sadness than Hasan, he used to say, ‘We laugh now and perhaps Allah has looked over our actions and said: I will not accept anything from you’.
    53. Hasan said: “The believer wakes up feeling sad and goes to sleep feeling sad as there is no room for him other than this since he is in between two (constant) fears: a mistake he has committed which he does not know what Allah will do with it, and the time left ahead not knowing what hardships he will face.”
    54. Hasan was scolded for his deep sadness and fear, so he replied: “What security do I have that perhaps Allah has seen what He dislikes of me and says, ‘Go, I will not forgive you. So I work for that which cannot be worked for’.” He was brought a mug of water to break his fast, so when it was brought nearer to him, he began to weep. He said, ‘I remembered the wish of the people of hell-fire and what they said: “Pour upon us some water or from whatever Allah has provided you.” and I remembered the reply: “Indeed, Allah has forbidden them both to the disbelievers”.
    55. A man asked Al-Hasan, ‘How have you woken up?’ He said, ‘Fine.’ The man said, ‘How are you?’ Al-Hasan smiled and said, ‘You ask me how I am?! What do you think of people who got aboard a ship until they reached the middle of the sea and the ship broke down, so each one was hanging on by a wood, what would be their state? My state is more severe than theirs.’ [Translated from Mahmood Al-Masri’s ‘Qisas Al-Tabi’een’, P. 258]
    56. Hasan al-Basri was reported to have said: “The best season to a believer is the winter, its nights are long for those who wish to pray, and its days are short for those who wish to fast” [Ibn Al-Jawzi, Sifah Al-Safwah Vol. 2/P. 433]
    57. “The reciters of the Qur’an are of three types: 1-Those who take it as merchandise with which they ply their trade. 2-Those who recite its words but fail to comply with its injunctions, they use it to lord over the people of their land and rely on it to ascend to positions of authority. There are many who fall into this category, may Allah make their number small! 3-Those who treat the Qur’an as a cure and apply it to heal the ailments of the hearts. They recite it in their places of devotion and attain tranquility, they weep in their hooded cloaks, and they are overcome with fear and somberness. It is for their sake that Allah sends down the rain and it is through them that Allah confers victory against the enemy. By Allah this category is rarer than red gold.” [Ibn Abi al-Dunya, al-Hamm wa’1-Huzn #152 / Bayhaqi, Shu’ab #2621]
    58. Hasan al Basri said: “By Allah! Hastening to the prayer is not accomplished by the feet. Indeed they were prohibited from coming to prayer without tranquility and dignity. Rather, it is about the hearts, the intention, and the submission.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer – Surah al-Jumuah]
    59. Hasan al Basri said: “Everything has something staining it, and the stain of Scared Knowledge is covetousness (ie. wealth, fame).” (Read on pg 70, Ibn al-Jawzi, Sincere Counsel to the Students of Sacred Knowledge. Daar as-Sunnah Publishers. Birmingham: 2011.)
    60. Hasan al Basri said: “By He in Whose Hand is my life! I met people who were as disinterested in this life as they were in the sand they walked on.” (Read on pg 23, Abdul-Malik bin Muhammad ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Qasim, Life is a Fading Shadow. Darussalam Publishers. Riyadh: 1999.)
    61. A man said to Hasan al-Basri, “O Abu Sa’eed, I am complaining to you of the hardness of my heart.” He said, “Soften it with dhikr. The more forgetful the heart is, the harder it becomes, but if a person remembers Allah, that hardness softens as copper melts in the fire. Nothing can soften the hardness of the heart like the remembrance of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. Dhikr is healing and medicine for the heart. Forgetfulness is a disease, the cure for which is remembrance of Allah.”
    62. Hasan al Basri said: “We used to be amongst a group of people (i.e., the Companions) who would never do any act in public if they could do so in private. And those Muslims would strive in making their du’a, and not a sound would be heard from them! For they used to whisper to their Lord.” [Report by at-Tabari in his Tafsir (5/514)]
    63.  “If you had the age of Nuh, the ownership of Suleiman, the faith of Ibrahim, and the wisdom of Luqman, then you would still have to face the agony of death. Behind death there are two abodes: if you miss one of them, you will end up in the second.”
    64. Hasan al-Basri said: “By Allah, the oath of allegiance to ‘Ali was like the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them).”
    65. “The foundations of evil are three and its subsidiary branches are six. The foundations are: Envy, covetousness and love of the worldly life. Its subsidiary branches are: Love of leadership, love of boasting, love of praise, love of filling oneself with food, love of sleep and love of relaxation.”
    66. Hasan al-Basri said: “Two thoughts roam over the soul, one from Allah one from the enemy. Allah shows mercy on a servant who settles at the thought that comes from Him. He embraces the thought that comes from Allah, while he fights against the one from his enemy. To illustrate the heart’s mutual attraction between the two powers the Prophet said: “The heart of a believer lies between two fingers of the Merciful”…. The fingers stand for upheaval and hesitation in the heart… If man follows the dictates of anger and appetite, the dominion of Satan appears in him through idle passions (hawa) and his heart becomes the nesting-place and container of shaytan, who feeds on hawa. If he does battle with his passions and does not let them dominate his ego (nafs), imitating in this the character of the angels, at that time his heart becomes the resting-place of angels and they alight upon it.” [Imam al-Ghazzali relates al-Hasan’s words on the personal struggle against one’s lusts (jihad al-nafs) in the section of his Ihya’ entitled Kitab Riyada al-Nafs wa Tahdhib al-Akhlaqwa Mu’alaja Amrad al-Qalb (“Book of the Training of the Ego, Disciplining of Manners, and Healing of the Heart’s Diseases”)
    67. “It was truly reported from al-Hasan that he heard a person ‘no-one may perform the [religious] duty of forbidding what is wrong except a person who does no wrong’. al-Hasan remarked: ‘Satan would like that to happen to us such that nobody would forbid the wrong nor command what is right.’ Abu Muhammad said: ‘al-Hasan spoke the truth and that is what we also mentioned before. May God grant us to be amongst those [He permits to] do good and to act upon it, and make us amongst those who can see the guidance, for no one is without faults. One who looks to his own weaknesses will forget those of others. May God permit us to die on the Sunna of Muhammad ﷺ. Amin, O Lord of the Worlds!” (Ibn Hazm, al-Akhlaq wa ‘l-Siyar, p. 157).
    68. Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the Companions fighting amongst themselves, and he said: “That was fighting in which the Companions of Muhammad ﷺ were present, and we were not; they knew, but we do not know. In the issues on which they agreed, we follow; on the issues on which they differed, we refrain from taking a stance.” [Book: Ali bin abi Taalib, vo2 1 by Dr Ali M Sallabi, page-229]
    69. Al Hasan al Basri said, “One day I was walking with a young pious man in the narrow streets of Basra and its markets until we reached a physician sitting on a chair and around him were many men, women, and children who had bottles of water in their hands. Each one of them was seeking a cure for his illness. The young man moved closer to the physician and asked him, ‘O physician! Do you have a medicine that cleans away sins and cures the [spiritual] diseases of the heart? He replied ‘Yes!’ The young man said, ‘Give it to me!” The physician said, “Take ten things from me – take the roots of the tree of poverty with the roots of the tree of humility, and pour in it the milk of repentance, then place it in the mortar of acceptance [of whatever is predestined for one], crush it with the pestle of contentment, then place it in the pot of piety, pour over it the water of shame, then boil it with the fire of love, then place it in the cup of gratitude and cool it down with the fan of hope, then drink it with the spoon of praise. If you do all of this then it will cure you of every illness and trial in this world and in the Hereafter.'” [Preparing For The Day Of Judgement By: Imaam Ibn Hajar AI’Asqalani, Translated By: S.M Hasan AlBanna, pg-42]
    70. It used to be said: ‘Whoever condemns his brother for a sin that he repented from, will not die until Allaah tests him with it (i.e. the same sin).'” [The Difference between Advising & Condemning by ibn Rajab al Hanbali, pg-23]
    71. A man could find no cure for his illness and asked Hasan al-Basri for advice. Hasan al-Basri advised him to give charity profusely. The man dug wells and was cured.
    72. More reading:
      Prayers of Forgiveness of Hasan al-Basri

I will update this list if I do find more sayings.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la ilaha illa Ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


Responses

  1. Reblogged this on The Fahlito Brigante Blog.


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