Being Free Of All Needs From The People, By Ibn Al-Jawzee
Sacred knowledge raises the status of the lowly. Indeed many scholars used to be unknown and unappreciated before becoming scholars. ‘Ataa Ibn Abee Rabaah (1) for example was black and not pleasant looking. Sulaymaan Ibn ‘Abdul Maalik (2) who was the caliph at that time came to him with his two sons and asked him about the rites of pilgrimage. He answered whilst turning his face away from them. The caliph said to his sons, “Get up and do not be indolent or lazy in seeking knowledge, as I shall never forget this humiliation in front of this black slave.”
Al-Hasan Al-basree (3), Ibn Sireen (4), Makhool (5) and others were slaves as well, but were still given honor and attained high status through knowledge and fear of Allaah.
Strive hard to protect your honor from running after this world and having to lower yourself to its people. Be content and you shall live honorably. A saying goes, ‘Whoever is content with bread and vegetables will not be subjugated by anyone.’
A bedouin passed by Basra and said, ‘Who is the master of this city?‘
It was said to him, ‘Al-Hasan Al-Basree.’
He said, ‘And how did he become their master?‘
They said, ‘He had no need of their worldly effects but they were in need of his knowledge.’
[“Sincere Counsel To Students Of Sacred Knowledge” by Ibn Al-Jawzee, p.70]
(1) Adh-Dhahabee said, “The Imaam, Shaykh Al-Islaam and the Muftee of Haram… their freed slave from Makkah. He was born during the caliphate of ‘Uthmaan.” [Siyar, 5/78]’Ataa was black, one eyed, snub nosed, lame and limping and finally became blind as well. He was the most knowledgeable concerning the rites of pilgrimage.
(2) Ibn Sireen said, “Allaah have mercy on Sulaymaan. He started his caliphate by reviving the prayer and finished it by appointing ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdil-‘Azeez as his successor.” [Siyar, 5/111]
(3) Al-Hasan Al-Basree was the freed slave of Zaid Ibn Thaabit. He died in 110H. Ayyoob As-Sakhteeyaanee said, “Had you seen him you would have said that you never sat with a scholar of fiqh.” Aboo Ja’far Al-Baaqir said, “That is a person whose speech resembles that of the Prophets.” [Siyar A’laam An-Nubulaa, 4/563]
(4) Ibn Sireen was the freed slave of Anas Ibn Maalik, he died in 110H. [Siyar, 4/606]
(5) Makhool was from the middle Taabi’een and died around 112, 113 or 114H. Aboo Haatim said, “Nobody in Syria is as knowledgeable in fiqh as Makhool.” [Siyar, 5/115]