Author Topic: The art of "ruling", the advice of Hasan Al-Basri  (Read 1628 times)

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The art of "ruling", the advice of Hasan Al-Basri
« on: April 19, 2008, 12:26:50 PM »
Assalamu alaikum,

I came across this rather beautiful and highly thought provoking advice given by a prominent scholar and zahid par excellence, Sheikh Hasan-al-Basri to one of the best rulers of all time, Umar bin Abdulaziz (Not Umar ibn-Khattab). Before I lay it on you, I may have to give a little bit of a pre-amble.
Umar ibn Abdulaziz was a highly pious and exceptionally just ruler who had knowledge and insight, like none of the rulers of his time. He was governor of the Madina area while aged 33 and at 37, was khalif of the Islamic empire. He was referred to (first by Ahmad ibn Hambal) by all scholars, as the fifth rightly guided Khalif. When appointed, this wise young ruler (whom I thoroughly adore), wrote to Sheikh Hasan Al-basri asking him for advice. Now before you start thinking what does this have to do with me, think again!!

Every one of us presides over someone in one form or another, either at home, in school, at work, or in elected or (in the case of some Nigerian politicians) selected positions. Whether Muslim or non-muslim is completely irrelevant, every single person who you are responsible for deserves to be treated fairly, with wisdom and compassion aimed at giving them the best out of this life. I have written this to remind myself first and foremost and then to remind us all of the responsibility we have and the obligations of those over whom we preside. The fact that your leader (or boss, or husband or parent) does not reciprocate such justice is irrelevant and should never hinder you from being the best you can be. Please think about these words and rethink the way you work and divulge your responsibility over others.

Enough from me, here are the words from the wise:

When Umar ibn Abdul Aziz became caliph, he wrote to Hasan al-Basree to write him the description of a just Imaam, and Hasan wrote him:

"Know, commander of Believers, that God has made the just Imaam the prop of every learner, the straightener of every deviator, the reform of all corrupt, the strength of all weak, the justice of all oppressed, the refuge of all who are pitied. The just Imaam, O commander of Believers, is like a herdsman, solicitous for the camels he tends, desiring the sweetest pasture for them, driving them away from any dangerous grazing place, protecting them from beast of prey, and shielding them from the harms of heat and cold.

And the just Imaam, commander of the Believers, is the guardian of the orphan, and the treasury of the poor, fostering the little ones, and providing for the old ones. The just Imaam, Commander of Believers, is as the heart is to the members of the body: all are sound when it is sound, and all corrupt when it is corrupt. The just Imaam, commander of Believers, stands intermediary between God and His servants; hearkening to God's words, and making them hearken; looking to God, and making them to look; obedient to God and making them obedient.

Therefore commander of Believers, act not in what God the Mighty and Glorious has given you like a slave whose master has trusted him and given into his care his wealth and his children, who then squanders his master's wealth and drives his children away, and reduces the family to poverty and scatters their fortune.

And know, commander of the Believers, that God has sent down (His prescription for) the legal punishments to chide (people) away from wickedness and immorality. How shall it be, if he who administers them, deserves them? And He sent down (the law of) retaliation to give life to His servants. How will it be if the man who gives them retaliation puts them to death?

Remember, O commander of Believers, death and what comes after it, and how few partisans you have there, or aids against it. Therefore make provision for death, and against the greater terror which follows it.

And know, commander of Believers, that there is a place for you other than the place where you are now. Your stay there will be long, and your friends will be separated from you. You will be committed to its depths as a completely solitary individual. Therefore, make provision of what you may take with you - 'On the day when a man shall flee from his brother, his mother, his father, his consort, his sons' (80:36), and remember, commander of Believers, 'When that which is within the tombs shall be cast out, and that which is in the breasts exposed' (100:9), when secrets are made manifest, and 'The record leaves nothing, great or small, without numbering it' (18:49).

And now, commander of Believers, you are in leisure, before the dissolution of death and the serving of hope. Therefore commander of Believers, do not give judgement among the servants of God according to the usages of pre Islamic period (bi hokum al jahilan), and do not travel the way of transgressors with them, and do not put the arrogant in power over the humble, for such will not watch over any believer or the protected religious groups (dhimma), so that you will have to acknowledge your own faults and the faults of others, and bear your own burdens and other burdens too. Do not be deceived by those who would lead a pleasant life by causing damage to you, and eat the good things of this world by causing the good things of your afterlife to disappear. And do not regard your power in this world, but look toward what will be your power when you are captive in the bonds of death, and forced to stand before God Most High in the company of the angels and prophets and apostles, and faces are turned to the Living and Self-subsisting One.

And I, O commander of Believers, though I have not attained by my rigors what prudent men attained before me, yet have not desisted from offering you solicitude and advice, sending you my letter as a doctor causes a beloved friend to drink disagreeable medicine, because he hopes to offer him health and soundness.

And peace be upon thee, O commander of the Believers, and the mercy of God, and His blessing."

[Source: Williams (1971), Themes of Islamic Civilisation, from, Al Iqd al Farid, Cairo, 1953


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