Recanting Mistakes, Repentance and Humbling Oneself- [By Ibnul Arabi, Al-Allaamah Rabee, Al-Allaamah Al-Mu’allimee and Shaikh Abdus Salaam Burgess]

In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Ibnul Arabi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:

Muhammad Bin Qaasim Al-Uthmaanee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] told me more than once: “I arrived in Fustat one day, then I went to the gathering of Shaikh Abee Al-Fadl Al-Jawharee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] and there I witnessed a statement that he uttered to the people. And that which he stated – in the first gathering when I sat with him – was that :The Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] طلق – i.e. he did divorce, ظاهر – i.e. he did utter the statement to a wife, ‘You are like my mother’s back’, and آلى – i.e. he made an oath to abandon his wives for a month”.

When he (i.e. Shaikh Abee Al-Fadl Al-Jawharee) left, I followed him until I reached his house with a group of people; then he sat with us in the vestibule and acquainted them with my affair because he saw a stranger [i.e. I (Muhammad Bin Qaasim)] and did not know the person among those who came to him before. When most of them departed from him, he said to me, “I see that you are a stranger; do you have anything to say?” I said, “Yes”. He said to his companions, “Excuse him from having to speak in your presence”, so, they got up and I stayed alone with him. I said to him, “I attended your gathering today so that Allaah may bless me (with some the knowledge you possess), and I heard you say, ‘Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] آلى – i.e. he once made an oath to abandon his wives for a month and what you said was true; طلق – i.e. he did divorce women, and what you said was true; and you said that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] ظاهر i.e. he did utter the statement to a wife, ‘You are like my mother’s back’ , but this never happened and can never be correct to say that it happened, because indeed Az-Zihaar [i.e. to say to one’s wife, ‘You are like my mother’s back’ (i.e. unlawful for me to approach)] is an evil statement and false speech, and this can never be uttered by the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]”. (see footnote a) He hugged and kissed my forehead, and said, “I repent from this statement. May Allaah reward you on my behalf as a good teacher”.

I departed from his presence, and the next day I went early to his gathering; but he was in the Central Mosque before me and was sitting on the pulpit. When I entered the Masjid and thus he saw me, he called out at the top of his voice (saying), “Welcome, my teacher. Make room for my teacher”. So, the people turned towards me and the eyes stared at me! O Abu Bakr! And you know me – meaning, he (i.e. Muhammad Bin Qaasim Al-Uthmaanee) was indicating to Ibnul Arabi about his extreme shy character, because when someone greeted him by surprise, he would feel shy – due to his extreme shyness – and turned red as if his face was painted with Gulnaar (pomegranate blossom). He (i.e. Muhammad Bin Qaasim) continued, “People hastened towards me, raising their hands towards me (i.e. acknowledging me) and nudging me until I reached the pulpit, and I did not know in which part of the earth I was due to my extreme shyness (i.e. shocked), whilst the Masjid was overcrowded with people and I sweated due to shyness. Then the Shaikh turned towards the people and said to them, ‘I am your teacher and this is my teacher! Yesterday, I told you that Allaah’s Messenger آلى – i.e. he once made an oath to abandon his wives for a month; طلق – i.e. he did divorce women, and ظاهر i.e. he once uttered the statement to a wife, ‘You are like my mother’s back’, and neither did a single one of you give me the correct understanding nor respond to me; but he (i.e. Muhammad Bin Qaasim) followed me to my house and said such and such to me. I repeat (i.e. right now) what took place between him and I, repent from my yesterday’s statement and return to the truth. Whoever hears it from those who were present, let him not rely on what he says, and let the one who is present convey this affair to the one who is absent. May Allaah reward him with good'”. Then he (i.e. Shaikh Abee Al-Fadl) started supplicating a lot and the people responded with Aameen.

Ibnul Arabi stated – after narrating this incident- “So look – may Allah have mercy upon you – at this firm adherence to the religion and an acknowledgement of the people of knowledge given by this man – whose leadership was manifest and whose worth was well known- to a stranger whom he neither knew nor where he came from! Follow his example and you’ll be led aright”. (1)

Shaikh Abdus Salaam Burgess [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Just as it is obligated on a student to recant a mistake, then likewise it is obligated on a teacher to return to the truth when he errs. He is not to be prevented from returning to the truth after reviewing a statement he made and finds that it is in opposition to what is correct, because indeed that is a sign of equity and humbling (oneself) to the truth. Therefore, it is obligatory that one follows what is correct, whether it was (conveyed) by a younger or older person. And it is blessing for a teacher that he has amongst his students one who notifies him of his mistake and leads him to what is correct, so that he does not persist on that ignorance. This requires that one shows gratitude to Allaah [The Exalted] and then being thankful to the person through whom one was guided (to what is correct), whether it was a student or other than him”. (2)

Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadee Al-Madkhalee [may Allaah preserve him] said: The entire life of a person is spent in seeking knowledge – from the cradle to the grave. He does not feel proud to acquire truth from a young or older person and he never rejects truth, whether it is stated by a Muslim or Unbeliever. Musa [peace be upon him] was spoken to directly by Allaah and the Tawraat was revealed to him, which contained Hudaa [i.e. that which guides a person to Eemaan, truth and protects one from misguidance] and Noor [i.e. a guiding light in the midst of the darkness of ignorance, confusion, doubts, beliefs and deeds that appear to be truth but are falsehood in reality and evil desires], but when he knew that another person possessed knowledge of that which he did not possess, [Allaah informed us he (Musa) said]: [لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّىٰ أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا – I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling. [Surah Al-Kahf. Aayah 60]  He went on foot – neither had a car nor a riding beast, nor a horse; [rather] he travelled on foot. (3)

Indeed, based on what has preceded above, one receives a brief acquaintance with the nobility of following clear proofs, recanting mistakes and humbling oneself. This is why Al-Allaamah Dr. Rabee Bin Haadi Al-Madkhalee [may Allaah preserve him] wrote to Dr Muhammad Bin Haadi [may Allaah rectify his affair], but he neither provided proofs nor recanted his error, and Allaah’s Aid is sought. Read here by Shaikh Abu Iyaad [may Allaah preserve him]:

Finally, we remind ourselves of the statement of Al-Allaamah Abdur Rahmaan Bin Yahyah Al-Mu’allimee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] regarding what one should ponder upon when seeking to give precedence to truth over falsehood: “Ponder on the fact that truth is noble and falsehood is lowly. Ponder on the Greatness of Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic]- the fact that Allaah is the Lord of the entire universe, Allaah loves truth and hates falsehood, and that the one who follows truth is deserving of the Pleasure of the Lord of the universe. Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] will be his protector in the worldly life and the Afterlife by choosing for him everything that is good, better, more beneficial, more perfect, more noble and loftier until Allaah removes his soul whilst being pleased with him. Then Allaah raises him, brings him close and makes him dwell in paradise with honour- in permanent bliss and eternal nobility which no imagination can fully conceive of its greatness. He should ponder on the fact that the one who clings to falsehood is deserving of the displeasure, anger and punishment of the Lord of the universe, and if he receives anything of worldly bliss, then indeed that is only a means of humiliating him in order that he is increased in being distanced from Allaah, so that the painful torment of the afterlife is multiplied for him, which no imagination can fully conceive its severity”. (4)

We ask Allaah for guidance and safety in all our religious and worldly affairs Aameen.


Footnote a: Zihaar: Allaah [The Exalted] said:

ٱلَّذِينَ يُظَـٰهِرُونَ مِنكُم مِّن نِّسَآٮِٕهِم مَّا هُنَّ أُمَّهَـٰتِهِمۡ‌ۖ إِنۡ أُمَّهَـٰتُهُمۡ إِلَّا ٱلَّـٰٓـِٔى وَلَدۡنَهُمۡ‌ۚ وَإِنَّہُمۡ لَيَقُولُونَ مُنڪَرً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلۡقَوۡلِ وَزُورً۬ا‌ۚ وَإِنَّ

Those among you who make their wives unlawful (Az-Zihar) to them by saying to them “You are like my mother’s back.” They cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And verily, they utter an evil statement and a lie. [Surah Al-Mujaadilah. Verse 2]

[Ref 1: Ahkaam Al-Qur’aan 1/248-249]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from ‘Awā’iq at-Talab pg. 52 Slightly paraphrased]
Ref 3: Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm. 245-248. Slightly paraphrased
[Ref 4: An Excerpt from Aathaar Ash-Shaikh Al-Allaamah Abdur Rahmaan Bin Yahyah Al-Mu’allimee. 11/309]

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