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Chapter 12.2. About Hasan Al-Basri

He used to eat meat every day. He used to buy a piece of meat for half a dirham, cook it in a tasty broth, and share it with his family. He would feed anyone who came to him. He used to wear nice garments. Despite this, he was the most otherworldly of people. He wouldn't strive for any worldly thing. When people sat with him, they would leave divorced from the world.

They did not know anyone who despised worldly people more than he. They used to visit him during his illness and found nothing in his house, great or small, except a cushion wrapped up around him. lbn Awn said, "Hasan monopolized otherworldliness for himself; he shared knowledge with the people." Hasan himself used to say, "The scholar turns away from the world, longs for the Hereafter, exerts himself in worship, and implements the sunnah of Muhammad."

More about Hasan al-Basri

A desert Arab came to Basra and asked, "Who is the leader of this town?" They said, "Hasan." He inquired, "With what does he rule? They said, "The people need his knowledge, and he has nothing to do with their possessions." Hasan used to say, "Everything can be defaced, and the defacement of knowledge is greed." He also said, "One who increases in knowledge and simultaneously increases in worldly longing, will only increase in distancing him­self from Allah, and Allah will increase in dislike of him."

One day Hasan saw some of the Quran reciters at the gates of a palace. He said:

You have wrinkled your foreheads, flattened your mules [loaded with provisions], and come here carrying knowledge to their doors. Now they will have nothing to do with you. If you were to stay in your homes until they sent for you, it would have been better for you. Leave! May Allah distance you from them!

In another version, it reads:

Leave! May Allah separate between your spirits. You have flattened your mules, tucked up the ends of your garments, and disheveled your hair. While you have sought their possessions, they will have nothing to do with you. You have disgraced the Quran reciters, may Allah disgrace you. I swear by Allah, if you were to ignore their possessions, they would have sought your knowledge. You have instead sought their possessions, while they have shunned you and your knowledge. May Allah distance the one who distances himself.

In summary, the scholar who does not defend his honour will not benefit from his knowledge; nor will others. Al-Shafi'i said:

Whoever recites the Quran, his value is amplified. Whoever records hadith, his proof is strengthened. Whoever learns jurisprudence, his status is ennobled. Whoever learns Arabic, his disposition becomes gentle. Whoever learns mathematics, his opinion will be copious. And whoever fails to defend his honour will not benefit from his knowledge.