Leaving No Room

The Wisdom of the Arabs
Compiled by Sheila Bushrui
Oneworld Publications, 2002

Here lately, friends and I have been reading and discussing the wisdom of the Stoics as well as St. Francis and His Companions. A while back I  reread this collection of maxims and teachings from the Arab world, and offer a small sample in the following.

O God! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship thee for Thine own sake, withhold not Thine Everlasting Beauty! –Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya

Sufism is enmity to this world and friendship with the Lord. —Al-Nuri

A Bedouin who had reached a hundred and twenty five years of age was asked by al-Asma’I the reason for his long life. The old man answered: ‘I rejected jealousy, and that is why I have lasted so long.’ –Arabic folk tradition

There is a polish for everything that taketh away rust; and the polish for the heart is the remembrance of God. –Hadith

The day that passes never returns
The day in which you are does not last
The day to come is unknown in what and whom it brings. –Arabic folk tradition

If one were to observe the greater calamity of others, he would find his own calamity insignificant.  –Arabic folk tradition

Be dignified in adversity,
Patient in calamity,
Thankful in prosperity,
Humble in prayer,
Swift in offering charity. –Arabic folk tradition

Blessed is he who is so busy in dealing with his own faults that he has not time to observe the faults of others. –Arabic folk tradition

Revile not the Devil publicly while you secretly cherish his friendship.— Wahb Ibn Munabh

Your friend is he who tells you the truth, not he who agrees with everything you say. –Arabic folk tradition

Hide the good you do, and make known the good done to you.  – ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taleb

Arab identity is in the tongue; whoever speaks Arabic is an Arab. –Hadith

Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind. –Hadith

The right attitude towards your fellow-man is that you should not lay burdens upon them according to your own desire, but rather burden yourself according to their desires. – al-Ghazzali

The rules governing all social relationships are: a smiling face, a joyous heart, refined characters and polite manners. –Arabic folk tradition

Let him who appoints himself to lead others as teacher and Imam begin by teaching his own self, and let him correct his own conduct before he starts correcting others with his tongue. –‘Ali Ibn Abi Taleb

I have heard many sermons and had many counsels, but I have heard no preacher so effective as my grey hairs, and no counselor so effectual as the voice of my own conscience. –Arabic folk tradition

In advising his friends Abu Turan al-Nakhshabi asked them to heed the following precepts:
Do not be unjust if you are unjustly treated
Do not be complacent if you are praised
Do not be disappointed if you are criticized
Do not be angry if you are questioned
Do not betray anyone if you are betrayed. –Arabic folk tradition

The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr. –Hadith

My love for God leaves no room for hating Satan.  –Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya

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