I previously published a little biography about the great Imām Sufyān al-Thawri (radhy Allāhu ‘anhu) which you should all go back and read again just to taste the barakah. The following are a few more statements that give us an insight into the wonderfully pure lives of those greatest generations of our religion.
Imām Sufyān Abu ‘Abdillāh al-Thawri (radhy Allāhu ‘anhu) (died 167 AH), the Leader of the Believers in Hadith, The Ascetic of the Ummah, and its Faqīh, said:
“It used to be said that Good Character extinguishes the Anger of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.”
Indicating here not only the great virtue of having good character and manners, and not to under-estimate their worth in the erasing of sins, but also that the Salaf used to consider that they were living in very bad times ie increased fitnah, a lack of sunnah, a lack of good character amongst the people. So if that was then, then what of our situation in these times!? Wa Allahu Musta’ān…
“Increase in (the knowledge of) Hadith as it is a weapon (for you).”
And this was the way of the early people. The strength of the religion was seen as what was authentic to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and authenticity in ones worship, was found in these correct traditions (hadith). That is why the Ahl’l-Sunnah have always been considered to be those who followed the People of Hadith.
“Wealth is called Māl because it deviates (yameelu) the hearts.”
Money is of course a necessity for daily life, but it is well known that it takes one away from the worship of Allah if the desire for it is not controlled and one starts to concentrate on increasing one’s wealth by sacrificing all of his precious time in this limited life. And know that wealth is the greatest of temptations, and that is why the māl makes the heart move, or incline, or deviate away (yameelu) from the path of righteousness and piety, except on him whom Allah showers His Mercy upon.
“Whoever is starving and does not ask (for food) and dies thereof, will enter the fire.”
Explaining the true reality of tawakkul and having trust in Allah. It is upon the people to take from the different ways (asbāb) made available to us to get through life safely and healthily, for this is not the religion of monasticism and extremism, but rather the Deen of the middle, balanced way.
“Decrease your fame with the people, and your being slandered will also decrease.”
Wanting to be popular amongst the people is bad enough, with all the risks of falling into Riyā’ and showing off etc, but also, the more well known that you are, the more the people will talk, and the more that people talk, the more they will end up “taking you down”. The Salaf always used to say, “To not be known to anyone is the greatest of blessings.”
“Oh Bikr, take from this world for your body, and from the Hereafter for your heart.”
What is meant here is to take and use just enough of what is necessary from this world from food, drink and clothing, so as to maintain your body and strength in its affairs. As for maintaining and indeed saving your heart, then it should be totally immersed in the remembrance of the Hereafter, and be away from the issues of the dunya. And this is from the greatest of advice.
(Taken from Hilyat’l-Awliyā’, V. 6 & 7)