Category Archives: Arabic

Imam ash-Shafi’ee on Travel


Al-Imam ash-Shafi’ee (r.a) (150 H/766 M – 204 H/820 M) is known as the establisher of the shafi’ee school of jurisprudence, or mazhab of Fiqh, widely used by Muslims in South East Asia. He was one of the ahlul bayt – his lineage can be traced back to ‘abd Manaf ibn Qusay, who is also in the Prophet’s (pbuh) ancestral line. He was known as the Mujaddid (one who renews the religion) of his time, and was the first scholar to lay the foundations of the field of Usul al Fiqh (the origins of jurisprudence). He was the first to write a book on this field of study and it was named al-Risalah.

Like most other scholars of Islam, Imam ash-Shafi’ee was well-versed in Arabic linguistics and literature, for such is the requirements for one to understand the Qur’an and Hadith. Besides being a scholar of various religious fields (including Hadith and Quranic sciences), he was also a brilliant poet in his own right. The following is taken from his famous (and only) poetry collection, Diwan Ash-Shafi’ee.

Again, each bayt (verse in Arabic poetry, consisting of two sub-verses) is followed by my own inadequate translation.

ما في المقام لـذي عقـلٍ وذي أدبٍ
من راحة فـدع الأوطـان واغتـرب

There is no rest for the one of intellect and refinement in his locality, so leave your homeland and emigrate

سافر تجـد عوضـاً عمـن تفارقـه
وانصب فإن لذيذ العيش في النصـب

Travel, and you will find a replacement for that which you left, and exhaust yourself for therein is the sweetness of life

إني رأيـت وقـوف المـاء يفسـده
إن ساح طاب وإن لم يجر لم يطـب

Verily I saw water become putrid in its stagnation, and become sweet when it flows.

والأسد لولا فراق الأرض ما افترست
والسهم لولا فراق القوس لم يصـب

And the lions would not be fierce if they didn’t leave their grounds, and the arrow would not strike if it didn’t leave the bow

والشمس لو وقفت في الفلك دائمـه
ًلملها الناس من عجـم ومـن عـرب

And if the sun stayed in its place in the universe, people would have grown tired of it

والبدر لولا أفول منه ما نظرت
إليه في كل حين عين مرتقب

And if the moon did not disappear every now and then, the anticipating eye would never spare a glance at it

والتبر كالترب ملقـي فـي أماكنـه
والعود في أرضه نوع من الحطـب

And raw gold is as good as the dust that covers it, and the staff covered in dust is mere firewood.

فـإن تغـرب هـذا عـز مطلـبـه
وإن تغـرب ذلـك عـز كالـذهـب

In leaving your destiny will change, and in emigration you will become precious, like gold.

And Allah knows.

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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Arabic, Poetry


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The requirements of being an Educator


This is one of the most notable works by Abu al-Aswad ad-Du’ali (16-69 H), one of the greatest forefathers of Arab grammar. He is of the tabi’in (the generation after the Prophet pbuh) and played a major role in assigning the markings (shakl) in the Holy Qur’an. Much reference has been made to this (especially the last line) in studies of Arabic literature and grammar.

Each line is followed by my own inadequate translation.

يا أيها الرجل المعلم غيره | هلا لنفسك كان ذا التعليم
O ye who teaches others, why haven’t you educated yourself?

تصف الدواء لذي السقا و ذي الضنا | كيما يصح و أنت سقيم
You prescribe remedies to the thirsty and the one in hardship, as if it cures – while you remain sick,

و نراك تصلح بالرشاد عقولنا | و أبدا و أنت من الرشاد عديم
You attempt to solve our problems by guiding our discretion, yet you are most obviously in need for guidance,

ابدأ بنفسك فانهها عن غيرها | فإذا انتهت عنه فأنت حكيم
Begin with yourself and restrain it from others, and once (your training) is complete, then you are wise.

و هناك يقبل ما تقول و يشتفى | بالقول منك و ينفع التعليم
Thereafter will there be acceptance of your words and a cure (that comes from it), and your teaching will be of benefit,

لا تنه عن خلق و تأتي مثله | عار عليك إذا فعلت عظيم
Do not condemn an action and then behave in that same manner, it is a terrible disgrace upon you.

Here Du’ali has made an explicit reference to undesirable characteristics in the transmitters of knowledge. He uses a firm, reprimanding tone against the self (the word used here being nafs) – an adequate warning universally applicable then and now.

And Allah Knows.

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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Arabic, Poetry


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What we seek;


“Oh Allah,

I seek Your Counsel by Your Knowledge,

And I ask You from Your Immense Favour,

For Verily You are able while I am not,

And verily You know while I do not,

and You are the Knower of the unseen.

Oh Allah,

If You know this affair to be good for me

In my relation to my religion, my life, and end,

Then decree and facilitate it for me,

And bless me with it.

And if You know this affair to be ill for me

Towards my religion, my life, and end,

Then remove it from me and remove me from it,

And decree for me what is good wherever it be,

And decree for me what is good wherever it be,

And decree for me what is good… wherever it be,

And make me satisfied with such.”


This is the English translation of the Dua Al Istikharah ; which means The supplication to seek what is good. This is recited after the Istikharah prayer, which is a non-obligatory prayer that we perform when we are faced with tough decisions, stress, and such. I think many of us are familiar with it (: i obtained this translation from – Mishary recites the Dua so beautifully here.

Don’t stop asking for Allah’s guidance – we need it more than anything.

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Posted by on January 16, 2011 in Arabic, Fiqh, Hadith, Ramadan, Spirituality, Uncategorized