Hatim-i Asam (Part I)

Hatim-i-Asam [He was born in Belh and passed away in Tirmuz in 237 (A.D. 852)] was one of the disciples of Shaqiqi- Belhi [passed away in 174]. One day Shaqiq-i-Belhi asked him, "How long have you been coming here and listening to me?" "Thirty-three years." "What have you learned, benefited from me during this long time?" "I have benefited (learned) eight things." Upon hearing this, Shaqiq was appalled and said, "Shame on you, o Hatim! I have spent all my time for you, and you have not benefited more than eight things from me." Hatim said, "O my teacher! It is the truth, and I do not want more. They will be enough for me. For I know very well that escaping disasters in the world and in the Hereafter and attaining eternal happiness will be possible with these eight pieces of knowledge." His teacher said, "Tell me what they are. I want to know them, too."

Hatim said, "First, I observed other people and saw that everybody has chosen an object to turn his affections towards and that most of these objects, like faithless lovers, abandon their friends to their fate after accompanying them for some time, until they are on their deathbed, dead or buried. No one would accompany a person as far as into his grave or share the troubles he is likely to face in the grave. Upon seeing this fact, I deliberated and said to myself: 'I must choose myself such a friend who will come with me to my grave and accompany me there, too.' After searching for a long time, I saw that no other friend would be as darling and as faithful as the worships performed towards Allahu ta'ala. I chose them as friends and clung fast to them."

Upon hearing this, Shaqiq said, "Very well done, o Hatim! Tell me the second benefit, too. Let me know what it is."

Hatim said: "O my teacher! The second benefit is this: I observed other people and saw that everybody was running after the sensuous desires and pleasures of the nafs [1]. This reminded me of the blessed meaning of an ayat-i-karima [2], which purports, 'Verily, those who fear Allahu ta'ala and desist from (the sensuous desires of) their nafs shall enter Paradise.' I pondered hard. All my learnings, experiences, as well as my mind and conscience, agreed on the fact that Qur'an al-karim is thoroughly correct and came to a full belief in this truth. Knowing my own nafs as a foe, I resolved that I would never believe it and began to pursue a course of rejecting its desires and lusts. Eventually, I saw that the nafs, who had been shunning worships, was now beginning to run towards worshipping Allahu and cease from its passions." When Shaqiq heard these, he said, "May Allah bless you with goodnesses. You have done very well. Now let me hear the third benefit.

[1] nafs: a force in man which wants him to harm himself religiously; an-nafs al-ammara. A negative force within man prompting him to do evil. (Nafs-i ammara). Nafs is ammara by creation, that is, it always wishes evil and harmful deeds to be done. It is reluctant to obey the Shari'at. The nafs of a man who obeys the Shari'at and makes progress in the way of tasawwuf becomes mutmainna. It wishes to obey the Shari'at.
[2] ayat: A verse of al-Qur'an al-karim; al-ayat al-karima.