Abu l-'Aasim al-Qasim bin Yusuf bin Muhammad at-Tajeebi as-Sabti al-Maghribi
"I requested the Shaikh, Faqeeh, respected Imaam, `Aalim, last of the
pious predecessors and leader of the later generations, inimitable, fascinating,
possessor of great eloquence and clarity of expression, the most knowledgeable
person I have met in the East or West, Taqi ad-Deen Abu l-`Abbaas Ahmad bin
Taymiyyah, (may Allah enable us to continue benefiting from him):
to direct me towards what would set right my affairs of Deen and Dunyaa; to
point me towards those books on which I might rely regarding knowledge of
Hadeeth, and similarly for other sciences of the Sharee`ah; to draw my attention
towards the best of righteous actions after the compulsory duties; and to
explain to me those goals which should outweigh all other aims; - all of this by
way of concise guidelines. May Allah safeguard him, and peace and Allah's
blessings be on him."
The Answer :
The Shaikh of Islam, Ocean of Knowledge, Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah bestow His
mercy and pleasure on him, answered as follows:
All Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
To begin with the Wasiyyah : in my opinion, there is no Wasiyyah more
beneficial than that of Allah and His Messenger for whoever understands it and
The Wasiyyah of Allah, Mighty and Sublime.
The Wasiyyah of Allah Exalted is mentioned in the following Aayah:
Verily, We have directed the People of the Book before you, and
you (O Muslims) to Fear Allah
The Messenger's Wasiyyah
The Prophet enjoined
on Mu`aadh (radi Allahu 'anhu) when he sent him to Yemen as a judge, the
"O Mu`aadh, fear Allah wherever you are, and follow up a bad deed
with a good one and it will wipe it out, and behave well towards
The Excellence of Mu`aadh bin Jabal
Mu`aadh had a high status in the eyes of the Prophet (SallAllahu 'alayhi wa
sallam), who once said to him, "O Mu`aadh! By Allah, truly I love
Sometimes, the Messenger would let
Mu`aadh ride behind him on the same mount.
It is also narrated about him that he is the most knowledgeable person in the
Ummah about the (issues of) Halaal and Haraam (Lawful and Prohibited) , and on
the Day of Resurrection he will be raised up one step ahead of all the people of
knowledge. Also, part of Mu`aadh's excellence is that the Prophet sent him
to the people of Yemen as a preacher on his behalf, a caller, a man of
understanding in the Deen, a giver of religious verdicts, and a judge.
He also used to compare Mu`aadh to Ibraaheem ('alayhis-salaam) , the friend
of Allah and Imaam of mankind. Also, Ibn Mas`ood, used to say, "Verily,
Mu`aadh is a leader of the people, he is Allah's obedient slave, and he is not
of the polytheists" , thus comparing him to Ibraaheem.
With all these qualities of Mu`aadh, the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa
sallam) bequeathed to him this Wasiyyah, so we know that this Wasiyyah is
comprehensive, and whoever understands it will see that it is so. Furthermore,
it is an explanation of the Qur'aanic Wasiyyah.
The Reason for the Comprehensiveness of the Wasiyyah
As for the explanation of the comprehensiveness of this legacy, it covers the
fact that there are two rights over a human being:
(i) The responsibility towards Allah, Mighty and Sublime;
(ii) The responsibility towards His servants.
Further, (the Wasiyyah also covers the fact ) that there will always be a
deficiency in each person's fufilling of this responsibility, e.g. by missing a
duty or doing something forbidden: hence the Messenger said,
"Fear Allah wherever you may be". This statement is
comprehensive and his words "wherever you are" confirm
that the human being is in need of taqwaa (piety, fear of Allah) both
secretly and in the open. He then said, "Follow up a bad deed with a
good one, which will cancel it"; the example of this is that
whenever a patient eats something bad for him, the doctor prescribes him to take
something which will make him better. Since it is definite that a human being
will commit sin, the wise person is the one who is continuously doing good acts
in order that the effects of his bad deeds are cancelled out. In this hadeeth,
the phrase "bad deed" is used first because the purpose here is
to wipe out bad deeds, rather than to do good deeds; hence, this saying is like
his (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam)'s saying about the bedouin's urine,
"Pour over his urine a bucketful of water."
The types of actions by which sins can be forgiven
It is also most appropriate that the good deeds be of the same nature as the
bad deeds, for that is most effective in cancellation. The recompense for sins
can be averted through several things:
(i) Tawbah (repentance);
(ii) Istighfaar (asking for forgiveness), even without repentance, for
Allah does forgive in answer to one's supplication even if he has not repented;
however, if repentance and forgiveness are combined (i.e. a person stops sinning
and petitions for forgiveness), then that is ideal.
(iii) good and correct actions which are Kaffaaraat (expiating sins).
The Kaffaraat are of two types:
a) specified Kaffaraaat, i.e. in those actions for which the Sharia has
fixed an expiation. Examples of such Kaffaaraat are those for commiting
intercourse while fasting in Ramadaan, for saying to one's wife,
"you are like a mother to me", for violating certain
prohibitions during Hajj or leaving some of its obligations, or for killing
game in the Haram; all these have established allotted ways to expiate the
sins, of four types: sacrifice, freeing a slave, charity and fasting.
b) general Kaffaaraat, as Hudhaifah radiAllahu 'anhu said to 'Umar
radiAllahu 'anhu, "Fitna is caused to a man due to his family,
wealth and children; so prayer, fasting, charity, enjoining goodness and
forbiding evil wipe this out." Also on this point, the Qur'aan
and saheeh ahaadeeth prove that the five daily prayers, Friday Prayer,
fasting, Hajj and other actions expiate sin, regarding which it is said,
"Whoever says such-and-such or does such-and-such, then he is forgiven,
or his previous sins are forgiven." There are many of these types of
actions; whoever researches into the books of Hadeeth will find them in
abundance, particularly in those books compiled regarding the virtues of
Influence of the habits of Ignorance, especially of the Jews & Christians
It should be known that care regarding expiation of sins is one of the most
important needs of a person, for otherwise one acquires habits similar to those
of the Days of Ignorance, especially in this age and those ages where Revelation
and Messengership has stopped. Even one who is brought up amongst people of
Knowledge and Faith finds himself polluted by many aspects of Jahiliyah, so what
about one who does not have that advantage?!
In the Saheehs of Bukhaari and Muslim, there is a hadeeth on the authority of
Abu Sa`eed that the Messenger said,
"You will certainly follow the ways of those nations who were before you,
span by span and cubit by cubit, so much so that even if they entered a lizard's
hole, you would follow them." They said, "O Messenger ! (Do you
mean) the Jews and the Christians ?" He said, "Who else ?"
This hadeeth is supported by the Qur'aan: ... they had their enjoyment of
their portion, and you have yours as did those before you, and you indulge in
idle talk as they did ...
This hadeeth is supported also by many saheeh and hasan narrations.
This matter does affect even the elite people who are attributed with the
Faith, as several of the Salaf, e.g. Ibn `Uyainah, have said, "that some
people attributed with Knowledge have become affected by many of the conditions
of the Jews, and some of those attributed with Piety have been affected by many
of the conditions of the Christians", as will be perceived by one who
understands the reality of the deen of Islam, with which Allah Ta'aala sent the
Messenger , and
compares with the situation of the people.
With the situation as it is, that person whose heart Allah has made open, and
is firm on the light that Allah has given him, who was dead and then Allah
brought him to life and gave him light by which he could move among the people;
for such a one, it is necessary to be aware of the conditions of Ignorance and
the path of the two nations, "those who incurred (Allah's)
anger" and "those astray" i.e. the Jews and
Christians, so he may realise which things have affected him.
Hence, one of the most beneficial things for both the advanced and ordinary
person is knowledge of what he can do to liberate himself from these pitfalls,
and that is to follow up bad deeds with good ones, good deeds being the actions,
manners and characteristics which Allah has recommended on the tongue of the
last Prophet ().
Another category of things which avert the consequences of sinning is
"expiating misfortunes", i.e. whatever causes hardship or suffering,
be it fear or sorrow, or harm to one's wealth, honour, body, etc.. However, of
course, these misfortunes are not the work of the person himself.
Next, after the Messenger () had
covered Allah's right in the first two clauses, i.e. to act righteously and to
rectify any harm done, he said, "... and behave well towards the
people", thus turning to the right of one's fellow worshippers.
The essence of being good-natured to people is that: he who cuts off
relations with you, that you keep an association with him, giving him greetings,
respecting him, supplicating for him, asking Allah to forgive him, speaking of
him in good terms and visiting him; he who deprives you of knowledge, benefit
and wealth, you give them in return; and he who does an injustice to you
regarding blood, wealth or honour, you forgive him. Some of these actions are
obligatory and others are recommended.
As for the "great character" which Allah described Muhammad
()'s way, it is no other than the complete Deen, comprising of
everything that Allah commanded him with, as explained by Mujaahid and other
knowledgeable commentators; it is no other than the implementation of the
Qur'aan, as 'Aa'isha RadiAllahu 'Anhaa said, "His character was the
Qur'aan", and the reality of it is an eagerness to put into practice
those things that Allah loves, with purity of soul and openness of heart.
Tafseer of the word 'Taqwaa'
All of the above ideas do emanate from the Wasiyyah of Allah mentioned at the
beginning, and this should be understood as such that the word 'Taqwaa' is very
comprehensive, covering the fulfilment of all of Allah's orders, whether
they are ones of obligation or recommendation, and also the refraining from all
that Allah has forbidden, whether it is totally prohibited or strongly
discouraged; hence, it includes both the right of Allah and the right of his
slaves. However, wherever 'taqwaa' specifically refers to fear of the consequent
punishment refraining one from indulging in the prohibited, it is clear from the
context; an example of this is in the hadeeth of Mu`aadh (under discussion), and
similar is the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah which Tirmidhi has narrated and declared
to be saheeh,
The Messenger of Allah () was
asked about that which mostly earns people entry to Paradise; he replied,
"Taqwaa and goodness of character." He was also asked about
that which mostly earns people entry into the Fire; he replied, "The
mouth and the private parts."
In a narration of a saheeh hadeeth from 'Abdullaah bin `Umar, the Messenger
"The most complete of the believers in eemaan is he who is the
best of them in character."
Hence, the Prophet told us that perfection of Eemaan lies in completeness of
one's goodness of character; it is known that all of Eemaan is Taqwaa. However,
this is not the place for a detailed discussion of the fundamentals and branches
of Taqwaa, for that would cover the Deen in its entirety.
The origin and root of all good is Ikhlaas (pure sincerity), i.e. that the
slave directs all worship and seeking of assistance purely towards his Lord, as
in Allah's statements:
You alone we worship and Your aid alone we seek.
... then worship Him, and put your trust in Him ...
... in him I trust, and unto Him I turn.
... then seek sustenance from Allah, and serve Him, and be grateful to
This is done in such a way that the slave terminates his heart's connection
with the created, whether with regard to benefiting from them or acting for
their sake, but instead preoccupies himself with his Exalted Creator, the means
of attaining which is to supplicate Him for everything required out of poverty,
necessity or fear, etc., to carry out every beloved action for the sake of His
good pleasure. If someone were to implant this type of Ikhlaas firmly and
thoroughly, it would not be possible for him to be affected by any punishable
After the obligatory acts the best action is Dhikr Allah (Remembrance)
As for the next question regarding the best action after the obligatory
duties, an answer which is totally comprehensive and detailed for everyone is
not possible since it would vary according to each person's differing
capabilities and opportunities. However, what is agreed upon by all those who
have knowledge of Allah and His commands, is that in general, the best thing
with which a slave can occupy himself is the Dhikr (Remembrance) of Allah. In
support of this is the hadeeth from Abu Huraira radiAllahu 'anhu which Muslim
"The loners (mufarridoon) have taken the lead." The
Companions asked, "O Messenger of Allah! Who are the loners ?" He
replied, "Those men and women who remember Allah in abundance."
Similar is narrated by Abu ad-Dardaa' radiAllahu 'anhu in a report of Abu
"Shall I not inform you of the best of your actions, the most pure in
the sight of your Master, the one which raises your ranks highest, that which is
better for you than giving gold and silver (in charity), and better for you than
your meeting your enemies, so that you strike their necks and they strike
yours?" The companions urged, "Of course, O Messenger of Allah!
(Inform us!)" He replied, "It is the Remembrance of
The virtues of the Remembrance of Allah are confirmed by proofs of insight,
narration and analysis from the Qur'aan and Eemaan.
Types of Dhikr
The basic method of Dhikr is that the slave makes a habit of putting into
practice those adhkaar (phrases of dhikr) which have been taken from the teacher
of goodness, the leader of the righteous, Muhammad (sallAllahu `alayhi wa
sallam), such as:
- those adhkaar which have a fixed timing, e.g. at the beginning and end of
the day, when going to sleep and waking up, and after the compulsory Prayers;
- those adhkaar which are specified for certain actions, e.g. eating and
drinking, putting on clothes, sexual intercourse, entering and exiting the
Masjid and the toliet, or at the time of rain and thunder, etc.. As regards both
these types of Dhikr, books have been written under the title of "Actions
of the day and night."
There are also those adhkaar which are unrestricted, i.e. they are not
confined to some special time or occasion; of these, the most excellent is
Laa ilaaha illa-llaah (There is no true deity except Allah), but
sometimes according to the situation, some phrases such as Subhaan Allah
(Allah is Glorified), Al-hamdu li-llaah (All Praised be to Allah),
Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) and Laa Hawla wa laa Quwwata
illaa bi-llaah (There is no power or movement except by Allah) become more
Further, it should be known that everything that brings mankind closer to
Allah, whether it is the saying of the tongue or contemplation of the heart, for
example in acquiring knowledge, commanding good and forbidding evil, this is all
part of the Dhikr of Allah. Hence, one who is occupied in seeking beneficial
Knowledge after fulfilling the obligatory acts, or takes his place in a
gathering where Fiqh (Understanding) - that which Allah and His Messenger
have named Fiqh - is read and taught, this also an excellent Dhikr of Allah.
When you consider this, you will thus realise that there is no major controversy
among the early people of knowledge regarding the most excellent of actions
after the obligatory duties.
Istikhaarah (asking Allah to decide on one's behalf)
In those matters where the slave is in doubt, he should seek Allah's guidance
in deciding, for he who seeks help in decision from Allah will never be ashamed.
He should do this often and also supplicate often, for that is the key to every
benefit, and not be impatient saying, "I have asked but not been
answered," and he should seek to find the best time to supplicate, for
example the last part of the night, at the time of Adhaan, after the obligatory
Prayers, at the time of rain, and others.
The Best Goal is Trust in Allah
As for the next part of the question, about the highest prize to aim for, the
answer to this is that the best prize to have is Trust in Allah, reliance in Him
of His sufficience, and keeping a good opinion of Him, the latter being that if
anyone is anxious regarding their subsistence then he should turn to the shelter
of Allah, as the Exalted said, from what is narrated by His Prophet,
"O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed,
so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked
except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe
you." In this regard there is also the hadeeth which Imaam Tirmidhi
narrates from Anas RadiAllahu 'anhu, who said that the Messenger of Allah said,
"Each of you should ask for his needs from Allah, even if the lace of
your shoe breaks, because if Allah does not facilitate it, it will never be
Allah Ta'aala says in His Book: ... But ask Allah for His bounty ...
He, Glorified, also says: And when the prayer is finished, then you may
disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah.... Although this
aayah is in the context of the congregational Friday Prayer, its meaning applies
to all the prayers. This is why - and Allah knows best - the Prophet
instructed the person entering the masjid to say, "Allahumma -ftah lee
abwaaba rahmatik (O Allah open the doors of Your mercy for me)", and
when leaving the masjid to say, "Allahumma innee as'aluka min fadlik (O
Allah give me of Your Bounty)" ; also, the Friend of Allah (Ibraaheem)
`alaihis-salaam had said, So seek sustenance from Allah, serve Him, and be
grateful to him.
This is a command, and a command signifies obligation. Therefore, to seek
help from Allah and to entreat to Him in the matter of livelihood and others is
a major principle. Further, it is important in seeking a livelihood that one
should acquire wealth with generosity of heart so that he may be blessed in it,
and without greediness. Neither should he make wealth the primary aim; rather,
he should regard wealth much as he regards the toilet, which he has need of but
it has no place in his heart, and he only resorts to it when necessary.
A marfoo` Hadeeth which is related by Tirmidhi and others is, "He who
gets up in the morning with this world his greatest concern, Allah disperses his
collected gains and puts its loss in front of him, and only that of the world
comes to him which is written for him. And he who gets up in the morning with
the Hereafter his greatest concern, Allah gathers for him his works and creates
richness in his heart due to them, and the world comes to him
One of the Salaf said, "Each of you is in need of the world but you are
in more need of your portion in the Hereafter. Therefore, if you are in search
of your portion in the Hereafter first and foremost (and you should be so), then
achieve your portion of the world in passing, such that it is taken care of as
Allah Exalted says, I have only created jinns and men that they may serve
Me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed
Me. For Allah is He who gives (all) sustenance, Lord of Power, steadfast
With regard to the best skill, or specifying one skill over another, be it
handicraft or trade, building or agricultural, etc., this varies among people,
and I know of no all-embracing answer, except that when an opportunity presents
itself to a person, then he should seek help in decision from Allah through the
Istikhaarah learnt from the Teacher of Goodness , because
there is unlimited blessing in that, and then adopt whatever is easy for him.
Thus he will not have to go to great hardship in another line, unless there is
any Sharee`i objection to the initial possibility, in which case it is a
As for which book(s) one may depend on for the different fields of Knowledge,
this is a wide topic, and again, the answer to this varies according to people's
backgrounds in different lands. This is because in each land, one field of
learning or way or mode of thinking may be easier than another, but the source
of all good and blessings is that one seeks help from Allah the Glorified in
acquiring knowledge inherited from the Prophet SallAllahu 'alayhi wa Sallam,
because that is what is truly fit to be named "Knowledge". Anything
else is either not knowledge at all even though people call it so, or it is
knowledge which is not beneficial, or it is beneficial knowledge, in which case
it is neccessarily true that there exists in the inheritance of Muhammad
SallAllahu 'alayhi wa Sallam that which replaces it, being similar to or better
The person's effort should thus be to understand the purposes of the
Messenger in his
commands, prohibitions and his various other sayings. When the heart is
contented that something is indeed what the Messenger intended, then he should
not waver from it as far as possible, whether it is regarding his duties to
Allah or to the people. In all branches of knowledge, he should strive to hold
firmly to principles narrated from the Prophet ; if he is
in doubt regarding any matter about which the people of knowledge have differed,
then he should supplicate to Allah with the du`aa' which appears in Saheeh
Muslim narrated by 'Aa'ishah, that when the Messenger first
stood for the night prayer, he would say, "O Allah! Lord of Jibreel,
Meekaa'eel, and Israafeel, Originator of the Heavens and the Earth, Knower of
the Unseen and the Present ! You judge among your slaves regarding what they
have differed in. Guide me to the truth regarding that in which they have
differed, for truly, You do guide whomsoever You wish to a path that is
straight." This is because Allah Exalted has said, as narrated by His
Messenger from Him,
"O My slaves, all of you are astray except
those that I have given guidance to, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide
As for a description of books and compilations, the questioner will have
heard from me what Allah has made easy on other occasions. I will say this much
now, that out of all the compiled books which have been divided into chapters,
there is none more beneficial than the Saheeh of Muhammad bin Ismaa`eel
al-Bukhaari,; however, this alone is not enough to cover the major principles of
the knowledge, nor can it fulfil all the objectiaves of one who seeks to dive
into the ocean of knowledge, because it is imperative that other Ahadeeth, and
the words of the people of Fiqh and the people of knowledge of those matters in
which certain people are specialised, be known, for the Ummah has progressed in
all fields of learning. He whose heart Allah enlightens, He guides him through
whatever of all that reaches him; but he whose heart Allah blinds, more and more
books only increase him in confusion and misguidance, as the Prophet
said to Ibn Labeed al-Ansaari, "Do the Jews and Christians not have the
Tauraat and the Injeel? So what benefit did these bring them?"
We ask Allah Almighty that He sustains us with guidance
and firmness, and puts into our hearts those things by which we will receive
guidance and keep us protected from the mischief of our sins, and that after
giving us guidance, he may save us from deviation, and grant us Mercy from Him,
for He is the Generous. All Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and His
blessings be on the most noble of the messengers.