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Assorted wisdom from Ibnu Mubarak

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah…… Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim…

‘How often does a small deed become big due to one’s intention, and how often does a big

deed become small due one’s intention!’


‘When one of you learns enough of the Qur’an in order to pray, then let him occupy himself

in seeking knowledge for that is the tool through which the meaning of the Qur’an is known.’


‘If you people wish to backbite, then backbite your own parents so that your reward does not go out to a stranger, but rather to them!’


‘How many people carry the Qur’an in their hearts but the Qur’an curses them from inside

their hearts! If the bearer of Qur’an disobeys his Lord, the Qur’an calls him from inside his

chest saying, ‘By Allah, you have not carried me (i.e. memorised me) for this! Will you not be shy from your Lord?’


‘Repentance from backbiting is to seek Allah’s forgiveness for the one you have backbitten.’

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah then said, ‘Rather you should seek his forgiveness for what you’ve

said.’ Ibn al-Mubarak replied, ‘No, you should not harm him twice.’


‘Those of you who have the most knowledge, should also be those who have the most fear (of



‘The inhabitants of this world have left the world without tasting the best thing in it.’ He was

asked, ‘And what’s the best of this world?’ He said, ‘Knowing Allah `azza wa jall.’

‘When a person realises the scope of his own self and capabilities, he becomes more lowly to himself than a dog.’


He was asked, ‘What’s the best that a man has been given?’ He said, ‘Abundantintelligence.’ He was asked, ‘And if not?’ He said, ‘Then good character.’ It was said, ‘And if not?’ He said, ‘A close friend who he can seek advice from.’ It was said, ‘And if not?’ He said, ‘Long periods of silence.’ It was said, ‘And if not?’ He said, ‘Then a quick death!’


‘If a person bears patience, then indeed how little is the patience he needs to bear. And if a

person is regretful and anxious, then how little is the enjoyment he indulges in.’


‘There are four principles that I have derived from four thousand narrations: Do not attach

yourself to a woman, do not be disillusioned by wealth, do not let your stomach carry more

than it can bear and only learn from knowledge that which will benefit you.’


‘Nothing has proven too difficult for me much as finding a brother/companion for the Sake of Allah.’


A Jewish neighbour of Ibn al-Mubarak decided to sell his house. He was asked ‘How much?’

He said, ‘Two thousand.’ They said to him, ‘It’s not worth one thousand!’ He said, ‘You’re  right. But I am taking one thousand for the house and one thousand for being the neighbour of Ibn al-Mubarak.’ This was reported back to Ibn al-Mubarak who began supplicating for the man and he gave the money to him saying, ‘Do not sell your house.’


Ibn al-Mubarak once went near a stream, he propped up his spear and tied his horse to it.

Then he began to make wudhu (ablution) and pray. When he finished, he saw that his horse

had began eating the crop. He said, ‘He has eaten of the impermissible, therefore it is not

befitting to use him in battles!’ – He then left the horse for the farmer and bought a new horse for the rest of his journey.


‘Prepare for death and what’s to come after death.’


‘Mercy descends when the righteous are mentioned and remembered.’


‘The Sultan of zuhd is greater than the Sultan of the people, because the Sultan of the people

gathers them (and rules them) by the cane whereas the Sultan of zuhd flees from the people

and they instead follow him.’


‘There is nothing in this world for a person except one’s daily portion of food.’


‘If a person’s goodness outweighs his errors, then his errors are not mentioned, and if his

errors outweigh his goodness, then his goodness is not mentioned.’


A man once said to Ibn al-Mubarak: ‘Is there anyone who will advice us?’ He replied,

‘Rather, is there anyone who will accept the advice?’


‘This world is a prison for the believer and the best of deeds in prison is to have patience and  to overcome one’s anger. The believer has no country in this world, indeed his country lies in the Hereafter.’


A man said to him, ‘Advice me.’ So he said, ‘Abandon looking at things for long periods of

time and you shall be granted Khushu’ (humbleness), abandon excessive speech and you shall be granted wisdom, abandon excessive food and you shall be guided to ‘Ibadah (worship),

abandon looking towards the faults of others and you shall be guided to seeing your own

faults and abandon delving into the issues that concern the Being of Allah `azza wa jall, and you shall be guided away from doubts and hypocrisy.’


Another man once said to him, ‘I see myself as being in a better state than someone who killed a person wrongfully.’ He said to him, ‘Indeed the security you feel for yourself (and have given yourself) is worse than a person who killed another wrongfully!’


‘Indeed the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets, but if they fall into covetousness and

greed, who shall be taken as leaders? The merchants and businessmen are the trustees of

Allah, so if they are treacherous, who can be trusted? The warriors are the guests of Allah so if they become extreme (or take spoils without right), with whom can we defeat the enemies?

The righteous and ascetic ones are the kings of the earth but if they become insincere (i.e. have riya’), who shall be followed? The governors/rulers are the shepherds (protectors) of the people, but if the shepherd becomes a wolf, who shall protect the flock?’



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