Article: Glimpses at Models of Tarbiyya among the Predecessors #2

Abū ‘Āsim, An-Nidā Publications

In like is the Tarbiyyah given by Asmā bint Abī-bakr to her son `Abdullah bn Zubayr bn Al-`Awwām for he – ibn Az-Zubayr was given the Tarbiyyah of Abū-Bakr and Zubayr at the same time to such an extent that he was most like Abū-Bakr in his utterances and speeches (khutbah), and like Az-Zubayr in his bravery, courage, and dexterity in battle. One of the outstanding moments of` Abdullah bn Az-Zubayr`s lifetime was when he went out on the Ghazwah with `Abdullah bn Abī Sarh when `Uthman bn `Affān sent the army out to Africa. They were 3,000 strong and when they entered the city of Barqāh in the land of Libyā, they were met by the Berber force of 120,000 strong led by the African King Jarjīr. When ibn Abī Sarh saw the strength of the opposition, he took his solitude (seclusion in his tent and commanded that nobody enters upon him until he is able to think out a strategy. While in his tent, ibn Az-Zubayr came upon him of a sudden and told him he has a strategy. When he was asked by ibn Abī Sarh what the strategy was, Ibn Az-Zubayr said:  “Give me a hundred fighters to guide me behind then I approach them as if to say I was a messenger carrying a message for their king so that I may chop off his head, then they will flee”. He was permitted by Ibn Abī Sarh to do that. As Ibn Az-Zubayr was approaching the African King Jarjir, the Berbers thought he was a messenger carrying message and as Ibn Az-Zubayr got to the front of the king, he chopped off his head between his two singing maids who had come to entertain the King.

Battle began and the Muslims poured on them and victory was for the muslim armies as a result of the bravery of Ibn Az-Zubayr in the end. After the battle had ended with victory for the Muslims, Ibn Abī Sarh sent Ibn Az-Zubayr to `Uthman bn `Affān to give him details of the battle. The tradition of `Uthman had been to always tell the Muslims on the minbar the outcome and details of any battle whenever the results came. That had also been the tradition of `Umar bn Al-Khattāb during his reign. But due to the importance and impact of Ibn Az-Zubayr`s account, `Uthman bn `Affān allowed Ibn Az-Zubayr to do the telling himself on the minbar. When Ibn Az-Zubayr had mounted the minbar praised Allah and began his speech, the Muslim audience wept much and remembered thereby the khutbah of Abu-Bakr and said: “He is not but Abu-Bakr”.

And in the era of the Tābīn (student and followers of the Rasūl – may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) are also splendid examples of this reality and the effects of the Islamic Tarbiyyah. An example is Qutaybah bn Muslim Al-Bāhilī. Once, he led the Muslim armies into Khurasān and in one single outing, he liberated 72 cities as is recorded in our books of history. He was young but intelligent, astute and brave. It is said once he laid siege on a town for a long period and didn’t gain victory. He gathered the army and said to them:  “Probably you have abandoned something of the Sunnah for I see victory seized from you, so look into your matter”. And after deep observation they noticed they had not been observing the Sunnah of the toothbrush (Siwāk) for they had long been in a land which had no trees. They therefore sent for what they could use as a Miswāk and when it arrived and they all took to its use and the enemy upon seeing them thought they were involving in that to sharpen their teeth for eating them raw. The fear they had forced them to surrender to the Muslims.

It is not at all only in the fields of battle that the early Muslim community displayed traces of a solid and excellent Tarbiyyah, for as we have said. The Tarbiyyah that the Rasūl – may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him – gave to his companions was transmitted to their own followers and on and on. The Islamic Tarbiyyah produced men and wonders in the human race. Of this great Imāms that Islam produced by its Tarbiyyah is Sufyān bn Sai`d Ath-Thawrī – rahimahullāh -who said: ”My mother once called me and she was a person of determination and zeal to knowledge and said: O Son, I have ambition to acquire much knowledge but I am a woman and cannot envelope myself in the study circle of men. Therefore, I will suffice you by knitting and trade your needs of this world while you will suffice me the matters of ilm”. And she was blessed with the craft of knitting. She would sell what she knitted of wool and spend on her son`s life, education and scholarship for his journey and travels to buy his books and specialise on the affairs of Islamic knowledge. In that manner, Sufyān Ath-Thawrī- rahimahullāh – later became one of the Imāms of the Muslims.

A similar thing was with the shinning Imām Mālik bn Anas – rahimahullāh – who said: “My mother once called me while I used to occupy myself with learning the meters of poetry, and said to me: O my Son, it is a distraction and it is not meant for you. So she tied on me a turban and dressed me in a white robe and handed me a bundle of dirhams and said to me: Go to the masjid and do not return to me until you have become the head of those circles.” And she used to tell and advise him about who and from whom he should learn saying:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              خذ من حلمه قبل أن تأخذ من علمه

“Take from his forbearance before you take from his knowledge”

And Mālik used to say:

إن هذا الأمر لن ينل حتى يذاق فيه طعم الفقر                                                                 

“Indeed northing is earned of this matter (of Ilm )unless by having a taste of poverty.”

Likewise the teacher of Mālik – Rabī`atu bn Abī Abdirrahman who is most popularly known as Rabī`ata  Ar-Ray-rahimahullāh -he was trained by his mother for his father had gone out on Jihād and had left his mother pregnant of him and had spent 24 years before returning home. He returned to Madīnah to find his son Rabī`ah with whom his wife had been pregnant, the Great Faqīh of Madīnah. When he asked his wife where she had kept or how she had allocated the money he had left behind at home, she said: I had spent it all on your son`s education until he became the `Alim of Madīnah.

There is also the interesting story of Abū Yūsuf Al-Qādi – the student of Abū Hanīfah – rahimahullāh-His father had been spending much on training him in acquiring the know and how of a particular craft so that he may be earning much materially for himself and the family. But every day on his way to his craft school, he passes by Abū Hanīfah and sees him discussing the matters of Dīn and Fiqh and was very impressed by the knowledge of Abū Hanīfah and then began to sit in Abū Hanīfah`s circles. When Abū Hanīfah took notice of him, he was impressed in his intellect, memory and zeal and said to him: ”Stay with me so that you may take from me some of this knowledge that lies with me .” He said answering Abū Hanīfah: “My father prevents me from that.” He (Abū Hanīfah) said:” And why does he need you?”. He answered : “He wants wealth.”  Abū Hanīfah- rahimahullāh -now said to him:” I will suffice you of that.” And from then henceforth, Abū Hanīfah would give him money monthly to give to his father until he became as popular with Abū Hanīfah that people would say Abū Hanīfah and Abū Yūsuf.

Another interesting example is Abū Hamzah the Great Tābi`ī who was a student of Ibn `Abbās- radiyallāhu `anhu – and used to interpret for ibn `Abbās to people. Once, Ibn `Abbās said to him: “Remain with me for a month while I give you a share of my wealth”. That, in the end made Abū Hamzah became one of the for-most transmitters of the knowledge of Ibn `Abbās.

The spending of a teacher on a student for his education is not strange in the history of Islamic Education and Tarbiyyah. It is recorded that Mālik would spend much periodically on Shāfi`ī- rahimahullāh – as a way of strengthening his will of studying the Din. It is also recorded of the Imām Muhammad bn Muslim bn Shihāb Az-Zuhrī that he used to carry the financial burden of the intelligent students that learn from him and who lack a strong financial source that they may concentrate on the seeking of `Ilm and not be occupied by seeking the Dunya and be distracted from Ilm. Also, of those  known to be frequent in matters like this is the Mujāhid `Ālim `Abdullāh bn Al-Mubārah- rahimahullāh – who used to spend huge amounts of his wealth on anyone he finds to be intelligent and promising for the Muslim Ummah. It is recorded that every year during the hajj season, he would gather from the students of knowledge their provisions and then spend on all their needs from his own wealth then return to them their own provisions after the end of the journey. He was indeed `Abdullāh bn Al-Mubārak who had written to Al-Fudayl bn `Iyādh from the Jihād land of Persia saying in the long lines of poetry:

يا عابد الحرمين لو أبصرتنا     *     لعلمت أنك فى العبادة تلعب

 من كان يخضب نحره بدموعه  *     فنحورنا بدمائنا تتخضب                                                                                           

 أوكان يتعب خيله فى باطل       *    فخيولنا يوم الصبيحة تتعب 

“O worshiper of the Haramayn had you set your eyes on us you would have realised that in your `Ibādah, it is as if you are playing.

Whosoever dyes his neck with his tears (during `Ibādah) then let him know that our own necks are dyed with our own blood.

Or whose horses run about in vain gains, he should know that our horses throughout the day from the morning hours move and run about _ _ _”

As Imām Ibn Kathīr- rahimahullāh – mentioned, Ibn Mubārak wrote these lines from the land of Tartūs in Persia about 170H. When it arrive Fudayl bn `Iyād, he wept so much realising the importance and the merit of the `Alīm who was in Jihād over the `Alīm who was not on the Jihād battlefield. And at that time `Abdullāh bn Al-Mubārak had alongside him several students of knowledge who had also gone out for the Jihād that they may benefit from `Ilm and Jihād at the same time. Of the most interesting product of the Islamic Tarbiyyah is the Muhaddith Imām Muhammad bn `Ismā`īl bn Ibrāhīm bn Al-Mughīrah Al-Bukhārī- rahimahullāh -who lost his eye firstly at the early age of four (4). So one day, his mother called upon him and said “Verily the one who is blind is not of any value to people unless if he is possessed of `Ilm. Therefore, occupy yourself by committing the Prophetic Sunnah to memory. That will indeed compensate for you what you have lost of your eyesight.”  He (Al-Bukhārī) said: “So, I preoccupied myself with it (in accordance to the advice of my mother). Once, I was in the masjid by night time seeking the knowledge of the Sunnah.  I asked Allah to return to me my eyesight and he did_  _  _”. But the return of his eyesight did not prevent him from continuing his pursuit of `Ilm and committing to memory the Ahādīth of the Rasūl- salallāhu alayhi wa sallam – for many years and the whole of his life. His mother used to spend heavily on him and provide him with the provisions of his journeys around the Muslim world in the search and pursuit of Hadith. There was no land among the lands of Islam that was not visited by Al-Bukhārī – rahimahullāh – in the pursuit of the Scholars of Hadith and in memorizing from them what they had. The Ahādīth which he memorized and transmitted exceeded 700,000 – rahimahullāh.

Another outstanding example in this regard the education and Tarbiyyah efforts of the Imām Abū Muhammad Al-Juwayni- rahimahullāh – who wanted desperately to father a son and train him according to the Prophetic Sunnah. He planned hard and walked hard until he had amassed 400 dirhams with which he sent a trusted messenger to a land among the lands of Jihād to purchase for him a female slave who has not attained puberty and had never once been owned. When she was brought to him, he trained her on rigorous `Ibādah away from the distractions of the Dunyā and paid for her education and Tarbiyyah. He freed and married her when she had reached the age of marriage and would wake her up to observe the Qiyāmu Al-layl alongside him and make her observe the supererogatory fast with him during the days, until she grew to become of  the most pious and disciplined women of her time. He built her upon scrupulousness, zuhd and sagaciousness. She put to bed the illustrious Imām Abū Al-Ma`ālī `Abdul Malik bn Abī Muhammad Al-Juwayni- rahimahullāh -and when she put to bed, he would prevent her from intermingling with people out of the fear that his son would be fed and nourished once by the corrupted earnings of others . He would dedicate his efforts to ensuring that all he earned were purely Halāl to feed his wife and son. And he used to ensure that his son was breastfed only from his pious wife’s milk. Once, he was occupied with observing the salat when a woman visited the family. As he noticed that, he tried to lighten his salat so that he may prevent the woman from even offering to breastfeed his little son, as that was the tradition of the Arabs and immediately he finished his salat, he hastened to his son and seized him from the woman and made him to vomit all he had taken of the woman’s breast milk and every other thing in his belly. That was the extent of scrupulousness and determination and discipline that the early Muslims displayed in the area and field of Tarbiyyah which the Muslims of today have lost in its entirety. Most parents have forgotten that their children are supposed to be the proof of their lives and the investments of all of their efforts in this material life.

The story of the Faqīh and Imām of Tasawwuf Shaykh Ahmad Zarrūq- rahimahullāh – is also very noteworthy. He was nourished, trained and given Tarbiyyah by his maternal grandmother.  He narrates about himself that his mother passed away even before he was named and his father passed away closely a year after his birth. Thus he was brought up by his maternal grandmother who would always make him rely upon Allah in all that he asks and needs. He narrates that of what she does to him is that whenever they are both hungry, she makes him to sleep then goes out to do some work and then thereby purchase some bread and dates and then puts them under his bed. Then whenever he wakes up, she tells him “Come let us call upon our Lord and request from him.” He would as a child raise his hands in prayers while they both call upon Allah in desperation and weep to Allah. Thereafter, she would raise the beding and bring forth from beneath it what has been kept there by her of the bread and date palms saying: Look, this is what our Lord has provided for ours. Likewise whenever he needed clothes, she would wait for him to go out for Talabu Al-`Ilm or  its likes then she would go out to seek for means then purchase the clothes and place them under his bed. Then whenever he returns home, she would require him to call upon Allah in desperation that probably Allah will provide him clothing. He became used to this with time and would not request for anything from anybody. And he used to say:                                                                                                                                                                                   

 {ما تعلمت الجأ إلى الله إلا من جذتى}

“I did not learn reliance upon Allah except from my grandmother “

Reliance upon Allah on one`s everyday need is a thing that requires training and Tarbiyyah. Al-Makūdī – rahimahullāh -said:                                                                                                                                                                                     

إذا غرضت لى فى زمان حاجة        *        وقد أشكت فيها على لمقاصد                                                                           

وقفت باب الله وقفة ضارع        *        وقلت إلهى إننى لك قا صد                                                

ولست تانى وافقاعند باب من        *        يقول فتاه سيدى اليوم داقد

“If at any time, you tender to me a matter and you have complained to me seeking a matter.

I stand by Allah’s gates, the standing of the despondent. And I say: O my God, I am indeed in need of you.

And you will not find me standing before the door of he whose servant may say, today my master is having a nap.” Similarly, As-Suhayli – rahimahullāh -said:                                             

{بحمال وجهك سيدى أتشفع                   ولباب جودك بالدعا أتضرع         

 يا من يرى ما فى الضمير و يسمع             أنت المعد لكل ما يتو فع                                                                              

يا من يرجى للشدائد كلها                   يا من إليه المشتكى والمفزع   

يا من خزائن رزقه فى قول ك        امنن فإن الخير عندك أجمع                                                                      

مالي سوى فقري إليك وسيلة                    فبالافتقار إاليك فقري أدفع                                                                        

ما لى سوى قرعى لبابك حيلة                     فلئن منعت فأى باب أقرع                        

ومن الذى أدعوه وأهتف باسمه                     إن كان فضلك عن فقيرك يمع                                                                                  

حاشا لمجدك أن تقنط داعيا                    الفضل أجزل والمواهب أوسع}

“By the beauty of your countenance o my master I seek your intersection; and by the door of your generosity with Du’a I humble myself.

O He who sees what lies in the hearts and hears (all); it is to you everything return is expected.

O He to whom ease of every difficulty is expected; O He to whom all complaints and fears returned. O He whose treasure of sustenance lies in the word (kun); Grant upon us (by your favours) for all of good is with you.

I have no source to my reliance on you that my lack is repelled.

I have not other than your door to knock as a solution; So, if you deny, then which door do I knock. And upon whom would I call and echo His name, if your bounties are refused to your needy.

It is not of your Glory to make despondent the seeker/caller, For your bounties are magnificent and your gifts are numerous .”

Utmost reliance on Allah is the solution to most of life problems, but it requires a lot of training, nourishment and Tarbiyyah. Our pious predecessors tried hard in this regard and have left us a very rich legacy on this particular aspect of the Tarbiyyah. It is reported that Abdullah bn Al-Mubarak – rahimahullāh – used to say:

 {سير الصالحين جند من جنود الله ييثبت الله  به قلوب}

“The stories of the pious are a soldier among the soldiers of Allah by which Allah grants steadfastness to the hearts of His servants.” And that follows the verse that Allah says:

{وكلا نقص عليك من أنباء الرسل ما نثبت به فؤادك وجاءك فى هذه الحق وموعظة وذكرى للموؤمنين}


“And We narrate to you all of the stories of the prophets that by which We strengthen therewith your heart. And in this (Qur’ān) has come to you the truth, a sermon and a reminder to the believers.” Hūd: 120

Thus studying the story of the great men that have preceded us on the path of Islam, Īmān and Ihsān that we are also threading goes a very way in helping the hearts attain steadfastness, strength and determination. I advise myself and my brothers and sisters in the Dīn to make very usual their studying of what has been recorded in the books of our predecessors of their Tarbiyyah, their lifestyles, their stances and their steadfastness. That will give us the ability to appreciate Islam better and to much inculcate the necessary things into our young ones in the proper Islamic nourishment and Tarbiyyah.

Alhamdulillāhi Rabbi Al-`Ālamīn.                                                                                                                                 Written: Dhu Al-Hijjah 1435.


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