Ibn al-Mubarak

Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi said, “A man with good deportment came one day to Malik. I used to see Malik say to him, ‘Come here.’ Then he made room for him in his assembly, and I did not see Malik make room for anyone else. He sat Ibn al-Mubarak near him. Sometimes Malik was asked about a question and he answered it. Then he would lean over to the man and say to him, ‘What do your companions say about it?’ The man would reply softly so we could not hear or understand. I saw him do that for some days, and I admired the adab of the man. I did not see him ask about anything until he departed. He was content with what he heard and Malik told us, ‘This is Ibn al-Mubarak, the faqih of Khorasan.’”

One day Ibn al-Mubarak prayed at the side of Abu Hanifa. Ibn al-Mubarak began to lift his hands in each takbir. Abu Hanifa said to him, ‘Do you want to fly?’ He replied, ‘If I had wanted to, I would have flown in the first one.’”

He said, “The ascetic is the one who is not happy when he gets this world and is not sad if he lacks it.”

Ibn Shahin said, “Ibn al-Mubarak was with Hammad ibn Zayd and greeted him. The people of hadith went to Hammad to ask Ibn al-Mubarak to give them hadith. Ibn al-Mubarak said, ‘Glory be to Allah! Shall I give hadith while you are present?’ He said, ‘I beg you to do it,’ or words to that effect. He said, ‘Abu Isma’il Hammad ibn Zayd related to us,’ and did not give any hadith except from him.”

Ibn al-Mubarak used to say, “The beginning of knowledge is the intention, then listening, then understanding, then action, then preservation, and then spreading it.”

It was said, “He went on hajj one year and raiding the next year. Whenever he came to Madina, he said to its shaykhs among the people of knowledge and decrease. Whoever wants to go on hajj, come out with me. Their provision is enough for them. He did the same when he went on raids.”

Al-Fasawi the worshipper said, “I was with Ibn al-Mubarak raiding on a cold, rainy night. He wept and I said, ‘Are you weeping for the like of this?’ He said, ‘I am weeping for the previous nights which did not have the like of this hardship so that we could be rewarded for them.’”

Ibn al-Musayyab said, “Ibn al-Mubarak sent 70,000 dirhams to Abu Bakr ibn ‘Ayyash and said, ‘Use it to stop the lack of censure of you.’”

Nu’aym ibn Hammad said, “Ibn al-Mubarak used to stay in his house a lot. He was asked, ‘Are you isolating yourself?’ He said, ‘How can I isolate myself when I am with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his Companions?’”

He related that Iblis came to Ibn al-Mubarak when he was doing wudu’ and said, “You did not wipe.’” He said, “I did wipe.” He said, “You did not wipe.” He said, ‘You are a claimant, so present your proof.’”

Ibn al-Mubarak said to one of his companions, “Do not neglect a day which Allah has mentioned in 63 places in His Book.”

A man said to Ibn al-Mubarak, “Yesterday I read the entire Qur’an in a single rak’at.” Ibn al-Mubarak said, “But I know a man who did not cease to recite ‘Rivalry’ (102) yesterday until the Subh prayer. He could not get past it,” i.e. himself.

He and another man mentioned that Ibn al-Mubarak was asked about the beginning of his quest for knowledge. He said, “I was a young man who drank nabidh-wine, loved wealth and rejoiced in those foul things. I invited some brothers of mine to a garden when the apples and other fruits were ripe, and we ate and drank until we were overcome by drunkenness and sleep. I woke up at the end of the period before dawn. I took up the lute which I played and composed:

                  Is it not time that you had mercy on us                       and defied the critics and censors?

“Then I could not make it rhyme as I wished. When I repeated it to it, the lute spoke to me as a man speaks, ‘Is it not time that the hearts of those who believe should be humbled to the remembrance of Allah?’ (57:15) I said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ I broke the lute and spilled out the nabidh, and repentance came by Allah’s favour with its realities, and I turned to knowledge and worship.”

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