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Chapter 12.7. About Imam Al-Awzai

Abbas ibn Muraththad said, "I heard our companions saying, 'More than seventy thousand dinars came to al-Awzai from the Umayyid rulers. When he died he only left behind seven dinars. He had neither land nor a home.'" Abbas then said, "We investigated and found that he spent it all in the way of Allah and the poor."

Allah, in His Book, has described the scholars as possessing many characteristics. Among them are the fear of Allah, humility, and weeping. Also among them is belittling the world and turning away from it. He illustrates this in the story of Qarun [Korah]:

He came out before his people in all of his adornments. Those who desire the life of this world said, "If only we were to have what Qarun was given! He has a great fortune indeed!" And those who had been given knowledge said, "Woe unto you people! Allah's good reward is better for those who believe and do righteous deeds. And only the patient shall receive it."

(Quran, 28:79-80)

It was mentioned to Imam Ahmad that it was said to Ibn al-Mubarak, "How does one know a truthful scholar?" He said, "[He] turns away from money and moves towards the Hereafter." Imam Ahmad said, "Yes, such should be his state." Imam Ahmad used to rebuke scholars for loving the world and longing for it. You should know that scholars are ruined. When [scholars] start aspiring for the world, they cause the ignorant to think ill of them and cause them to set up ignorant people as their leaders.

Ali saw a popular preacher and said to him, "I will question you about an issue. If you do not answer correctly, refrain from preaching. Otherwise, I'll give you this gem." The preacher said, "Ask."

Ali then said, "What buttresses religion and what eradi­cates it?" He said, "Scrupulousness is the buttress of religion and aspiring for the world eradicates it." Ali said, "Continue preaching. People like you are fit to do so." This question from Ali indicates that it is fitting for one who admonishes people to refrain from their possessions, not to covet wealth and provisions, and not to try to win their hearts. Rather he should spread knowledge for the sake of Allah and not ask the people for anything out of piety.

Ibn Majah relates that Ibn Masud said:

If scholars safeguarded knowledge and placed it with its proper people, they would have dominated their epoch. Instead. they expended it on worldly people, in order to obtain something of their possessions. These worldly people then scorned them. I heard your Prophet say: "Whoever narrows his concerns into a single concern, let him be concerned with the Hereafter. Allah will suffice him in his worldly affairs." One torn by his worldly concerns will not even notice how Allah is destroying him.

Therefore, craving for the world and aspiring for it is despica­ble. It is even more despicable in a scholar. When it occurs in an elderly scholar it is even viler.

One of the scholars among the Successors [Tabi'een] donned his garment and prepared to visit a king. He took a mirror, looked into it, saw his graying beard, and said, "l'm worried about [mpress­ing] the king, and my beard is graying!" He then took off his garment and sat down.

Abu Hazim said, "We experienced a brief time in our era when not a single scholar sought out a ruler. If a man was learned, he was satisfied with knowledge and needed nothing else. In this situation, there was benefit for both parties. When the rulers saw that the scholars covered their faults, sat in their company, and begged for their possessions, they despised them, stopped taking their advise, and [stopped] seeking their knowledge. This led to the ruin of both parties."

This is the end of what Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali related in his treatise, The Heirs of the Prophets. And the last of our prayers is, All praise is for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.