Abu Dharr, the Truthful
Abu Dharr's plain talk
He said: Abul Hasan Ali b.Bilal al-Mahlabi reported to me from Ali b. Abdillah b. Asad al-Isfehani, who reported from al-Husain b. Sufyan, who reported from his father, from Abu al-Jahdham al-Azdi, from his father (who was from the people of Sham), who said:
When Uthman expelled Abu Dharr from Madinah to Damascus, he (i.e. Abu Dharr) used to narrate to us, beginning with the praise to Allah and testifying the Oneness of Allah and Muhmmad's Prophethood, invoking divine blessings upon the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny. Then he would say: "We were in the era of ignorance before the Book was revealed to us, and the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, was sent among us; yet we were faithful in promise, truthful in speech, kind to neighbours, hospitable to guests, comforting the poor (hating the arrogant).
And when Allah, Most High, sent to us His messenger, peace be upon him and his progeny, and revealed His Book, our behaviour were pleasing to Allah and His messenger, and the people of Islam were worthier to practice them; and to safeguard them. So, they remained with these attributes for as long as Allah willed.
Now, the rulers have introduced evil acts of which we did not know; discarding the Tradition of the Prophet and introducing the innovations. A truthful person is held a liar, generosity is displayed without fear of Allah and a trustworthy from among the righteous people is deprived. O Allah! If you have destined good for me, then take me away into Your proximity, without having changed."
He used to repeat these words openly. Then Habib b. Maslamah came to Mo'awiyah b. Abi Sufyan and said: "Surely, Abu Dharr is arousing people against you by saying such and such things." So Mo'awiyah wrote to Uthman about it and Uthman replied: "Send him back to me." When Abu Dharr arrived in Madinah, Uthman exiled him to al-Rabdhah.
Abu Dharr . . . the fearless
He said: Abul Hasan Ali b. Bilal al-Mahlabi reported to me from Ali b. Abdullah al-Isfehani, who reported from Ibrahim b. Muhammad al-Thaqafi, who reported from Muhammad b. Ali, who reported from al-Husain b. Sufyan, from his father, from Abu Jahdham al-Azdi, from his father who said that:
When Uthman ordered Abu Dharr al-Ghifari - may Allah bless him with mercy, into exile from Medinah to Syria, he (i.e. Abu Dharr) used to stand up everyday admonishing people, exhorting them to obey Allah, warning them against committing sins. And he used to narrate from the messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, whatever he had heard about the virtues and excellence of his Ahlul Bait, peace be upon them, enjoining upon them to follow his progeny.
So, Mo'awiyah wrote to Uthman: "Be it known to you that Abu Dharr, at all times during the day, morning and evening, has a large group of people around him and to them he says such and such things. Well, if you have any need of me among the people, then I would send Abu Dharr to you, for I fear that he will instigate people against you; with Salaams."
Then Uthman wrote to him: "As this letter reaches you, send Abu Dharr back to me; with Salaams."
Then Moawiyah sent for Abu Dharr and made him read the letter from Uthman, saying: "Make haste, and go now." Abu Dharr came to his camel fastened his saddle to set off. The people gathered around him saying: "O Abu Dharr! May Allah have mercy on you, where are you going?" He said: "They drove me out to come to you, as they were angry with me, and now they are driving me away from you to them, messing around with me. And this will continue as I see it, because of my difference with them, till the righteous relaxes or is relieved of the wicked one." Then he left.
As people heard of his departure, they followed him till outside Damascus and remained in his company till he reached the monastery of Murran. He alighted and with him the people also stopped. He was asked to lead, so he prayed with them and then he addressed: "O people! I admonish you about things, which will benefit you, and I do not resort to speeches and eloquence. All of you praise Allah, Most High." So they said: "All praise be to Allah." He said: "I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger." They repeated what he uttered. Then he said: "I testify that the resurrection is truth and that the heaven is truth and that the hell is truth; and I confirm what he (i.e. Muhammad) has come with from Allah. So bear witness for me over what I have confirmed." And they said: "And we are among those who testify." He said: "Whoever among you dies on these tenets of faith, may he have good tidings of Allah's mercy and honour; as long as he does not support the wrongdoers, and does not justify the torture of the tyrants nor does he assist them in anyway.
'O people! Let your daily prayers and fasts be combined with your displeasure for the sake of Allah, whenever He is disobeyed on the earth! Do not please your leaders to incur the wrath of Allah. And if they come up with innovations of which you know not, stay aloof from them; and remain strong against them, even if you were tortured, deprived or rusticated, so that Allah may be pleased with you! Surely, Allah is Most High and it does not behave to displease Him, by pleasing His creatures. May Allah forgive me and you all. I entrust you to His care, and sent you greetings and the grace of Allah."
Then people exclaimed: "May Allah greet you with safety and shower upon you His mercy, O, Abu Dharr; O companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny; we will not send you back if they expel you and we will not refuse you entry." Abu Dharr said: "Return to your places, may Allah have mercy upon you; for I am more tolerant of the adversities than you are. And be careful, never be disunited."
So, he went away till he arrived at Uthman's and upon his arrival, Uthman told him: "May Allah show no favour to the eyes, which behold Amru." Upon this, Abu Dharr reported: "My parents did not name me Amr. But may Allah not favour the one who disobeys Him, acts against His commands and follows his own base desires." At that time, Ka'b al-Ahbar stood up against him and said: "You old man! Do you not fear Allah when you talk back this way to Amirul Mo'mineen?" Then Abu Dharr raised the stick, which he had in his hands and hit Ka'b on his head, saying: "O son of the Jewish parents, why do you have to speak on behalf of the Muslims? For, By Allah, your jewishness has not come out of your heart yet."
Then Uthman said: "May Allah not unite me with you under one roof! You have indeed gone senile and you have lost your senses. Get him away out of my sight, mount him on a bare camel and then hasten the camel to reach him uncomfortably to Rabdhah. Then drop him there alone, till Allah may decide his fate." So he was pushed away with humiliation, with his ribs prodded.
It was declared in advance that no one should bid him farewell. When the news reached Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be upon him, he wept till his beard was wet with tears and then he said: "Is this the way to treat the companion of the messenger of Allah? We are for Allah, and unto Him shall we return!" Then he stood up, accompanied by al-Hasan, al-Husain, Abdullah b. Abbas, al-Fadhl, Qathum and Ubaidullah and proceeded till they drew close to Abu Dharr. They continued following him. When Abu Dharr, may Allah have mercy on him, saw them, he wept in sympathy for them and said: "May my father be ransom for the faces which remind me of the Prophet (peace be upon him, and his progeny) when I see them; and mere sight of them overwhelms me with divine blessings."
Then he raised his hands towards the heavens and said: "O Allah! I love them; and shall remain steadfast even if I were cut into pieces because of their love! And that is only for Your pleasure and for the next abode! Return to your places, may Allah have mercy upon you, and I pray to Allah that He may keep me in the best relationship with you." Then they bid him farewell and returned with tears in their eyes.
Abu Dharr's words of wisdom
He said: Ahmad b. Muhammad reported to me from his father Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. al-Walid al-Qummi, from Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar, from al-Abbas b. Ma'roof, from Ali b. Mahzyar from al-Husain b. Saeed al-Ahwazi, from al-Nadhr b. Suwaid and Ibn Abi Najran together, from Asim from Abu Baseer from Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Ali al-Baqir, may Allah bless them both, that Abu Dharr, may Allah bless him with mercy, used to say:
"O Seeker of knowledge! Nothing in this world is worthy of mention except an act which, if good, benefits others, and if bad, harms others, except those who Allah saves with mercy.
'O Seeker of knowledge! Do not allow family and possessions to occupy you against yourself. For one day, you will depart from them, like a guest who stayed with them overnight and left during the day for others. And this world and the next are like a station where you alight, and then move towards the next. The time span between death and resurrection is like a brief sleep, from which you will wake up.
'O Seeker of knowledge! Send beforehand to establish a status in the eyes of Allah, for you are indeed mortgaged against your deeds. What you sow, so shall you reap.
'O Seeker of knowledge! Say your daily prayers, before such days and nights arrive when you are unable to pray! The example of the daily prayers is that of a person who calls upon a benign monarch, who patiently listens to his needs till he has finished. So is a Muslim in his prayers that Allah grants His attention to him till he finishes his prayers.
'O Seeker of knowledge! Give in charity before you arrive at a situation where you can neither give nor prevent. The example of one who gives charity and alms is like a person wanted for having killed and then he implores: 'Do not kill me, and grant me a prescribed time during which I may toil to please you.' So is for a Muslim, with the permission of Allah! Every time he gives in charity, a knot around his neck is undone; thus, Allah saves people, having been pleased with them. And when Allah is pleased with someone, He frees him from hellfire.
'O Seeker of knowledge! A heart which has no Truth in it, is like a ruined house which has no restorer. 'O Seeker of knowledge! This tongue is indeed a key of good and a key of evil. So set a seal on your mouth, the way you set a seal on your gold and on your papers.
'O Seeker of knowledge! These are the examples Allah has set forth for people and none can understand them but the learned ones."
Abu Dharr's admonition
He said: Abul Hasan Ahmad b. Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. al-Walid, may Allah bless him with mercy, reported to me from his father, who reported from Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar, who reported from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid, who reported from his father, who reported from Ahmad b. al-Nadhr al-Khazzaz, from Amru b. Shimr, from Jabir b. Yazid, that:
Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Ali b. al-Husain, peace be upon him, said: Abu Dharr al-Ghifari stood near al-Kabah and announced: "I am Jundab b. al-Sakan," so people gathered around him. Then he said: "O people, if someone from you decides to travel, he will prepare to make it comfortable. Do you not intend to make your journey to the Day of Judgement comfortable for yourselves?"
One man stood up and said: "Counsel us further, may Allah bless you with mercy."
Abu Dharr said: "To fast on a day of fierce heat is beneficent on the day of Resurrection; to go on pilgrimage to the Sacred House helps resolve important matters in life and two Rakats of prayers in the darkness of the night averts the fright in the graves.
Let your speech be two versions: a good word which you must speak up, and a bad word you ought to spare. And be charitable to the poor; perhaps that should save you, O poor soul, on the Day of anguish.
And let your earnings from this world be two Dirhams: one to maintain your dependents and one to send forward for your next world. The third one is harmful and not beneficent, so do not covet it. And let your interest in this world be in two ways: one for earning that which is lawful and another for your hereafter. The third way is harmful and of no benefit, therefore do not seek it."
Then he said: "(How strange that) the worries of a day I have not (yet) seen (i.e. tomorrow) kills me!"
Al-Amali: The Dictations of Sheikh al-Mufid