Lessons for Living

Hadrati Hatemi Asam (k.s.) is one of the early wali’ullah from Horasan who lived in the early part of the third century Hijri. Asam means deaf, although neither the ears of his head nor the ears of his heart were deaf.

One day a woman came to him to ask for advice. As she entered, she passed gas and she was very embarrassed and horrified at what had happened. At that the sheikh said to her, “Come close, my lady, and speak loudly as I am hard of hearing,” thus covering the lady’s fault and rendering her happy and thankful.

He is the one who said, “To be a good servant depends upon three things: love, hope and fear. And the causes for revolt against Allah are three: arrogance, ambition and envy.”

His teacher was Hadrati Shakik al-Belhi (k.s.) who is the one who said, “Allah renders the ones who love Him alive even after they die, and the ones who do not love Him, dead even if they are living.”

Hadrati Hatemi Asam (k.s.) spent a lifetime with his teacher. Towards the end, his teacher asked him, “You have been with me all these years, what have you learned from me?”

He said, “Eight things, my Shaykh.”

Hadrati Shakik (k.s.) said in amazement, “I have spent my life teaching you and you say you have only learned eight things from me. What are they?”

Hatem (k.s.) said, “The first is that I look at the world and at the people. Each has something or someone that they love. But as soon as they die and enter the tomb, their beloved leaves them and they their beloved. So I took for my beloved the people, the things and the ways Allah loves.

The second lesson I learned from you came through my hearing Allah’s words (Sura Nazi’at: 40-41):

“And as for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains himself from low desires/ The Garden is surely the abode.”

Then I knew Allah’s words to be true and forced my flesh to leave temporal and pointless pleasures until it learned to abide with what Allah orders.

The third thing I learned is when I looked at the people, they each believed that something or someone protected them and helped them, and gave them faith in themselves. Then I heard Allah’s words (Sura Nahl: 96):

“What is with you passes away and what is with Allah is enduring...”

So I left in Allah’s care all that I possessed which was special and which was valuable so that it would be well protected.

The fourth is, again, I looked at the people, each of them attached either to their property or to their position and fame, or to their name and family. Then I looked at the things to which they were attached. None of them really existed. Then I remembered Allah’s words (Sura Hujurat: 13):

“Oh mankind, surely We have created you from a male and a female and made you tribes and families that you may know each other. Surely the noblest of you with Allah is the one who fears Him most…”

Then, with all that I had, I held on to the fear of Allah, so that I would be honored by him.

The fifth lesson that you taught me is that all around me, men hate each other and curse each other, and I saw that the reason for all that hatred is envy. Then I remembered Allah saying (Sura Zukhruf: 32):

“We portion out among them their livelihood in the life of this world, and We exalt some of them above others in rank, that some of them may take others in service. And the mercy of thy Lord is better than that which they amass.”

Then I left the envier and I left envy.

The sixth lesson is, when I see the masses waging war, killing each other, Allah’s words come to me. (Sura Fatir: 6):

“Verily the devil is your enemy so accept him as your enemy...”

Then I accepted only the devil as my enemy and I defended myself against him, and never felt man as my enemy any more.

The seventh thing I learned is, as I see men striving and worrying for their sustenance, degrading themselves, seeking their sustenance from unlawful means, Allah’s words come to me (Sura Hud: 6):

“There is none alive in the earth but from Allah is the sustenance of it...”

Then I thought, “I am amongst those alive, whose sustenance comes from Him.” Thus I left all that I thought I had right to, and started considering Allah’s rights over me.

The eighth lesson which I learned was that everyone depends on and believes in someone or something, a creature like themselves and others, depending on their profession, on their trade, on their art, on the strength of their bodies or their minds, on their property, on their land. Then I heard Allah say (Sura Talaq: 3)

“And whoever trusts in Allah, He is sufficient for him...”

So I depend only on Allah and what He gives is sufficient for me.

May we be given the wisdom and the insight to see what is within and around us. As we learn and remember Allah’s words and attributes may we be led to truth, about our being and our doing, and may we be given the strength to act upon that truth when we come to know it. Amin bihurmetis Seyyid al Mursalin.