Habib Umar’s advice to his students

Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him) was asked: ‘what advice do you have for your students and what hopes do you have for them for the future?’[1] He replied:
‘We counsel our students specifically and students of the Sacred Law generally to check their intention and the thoughts which enter their minds, which cause them either to act sincerely for the sake of Allah or to seek other than Allah. We counsel them to reject every thought originating from caprice (hawa), from the lower self (nafs) and from the Devil which calls them to seek other than Allah and to desire anything other than attaining His nearness and pleasure. The knowledge of the Sacred Law is a trust which was borne by the Prophets and Messengers and was delivered to us by the Master of the Prophets and Messengers, the Seal of the Prophets (Allah bless him and grant him peace). This knowledge is not mere information or the ability to speak with fluency and clarity, rather it is light which Allah casts into a person’s heart. Its reality is expressed in purity of the heart, truthfulness with the All-Compassionate and elements of Islam and Iman which allow someone to be elevated to the station of Ihsan and thereby attain direct knowledge (ma`rifa) of Allah. As for mere information and the ability to speak with fluency and clarity, these are possessed by both the righteous and the corrupt alike but the reality of knowledge is only possessed by someone who is truthful, sincere and has been purified. We thus counsel them to take note of this affair.

‘We also counsel them to pay attention to their transaction with Allah in acting upon their knowledge, teaching it and spreading it, seeking in doing so the countenance of Allah Almighty. We warn them against being captured by the allurement of wealth or status from whatever direction or faction that allurement comes. We wish for them to be constantly aware that Allah is the One to be sought, that Allah makes wealth subordinate to someone who has sincerity with Him and that a person’s provision has already been apportioned and he will certainly receive it. Allah has legislated and made permissible certain means for a person to earn his provision, so if he needs to do so, he does it in the way that has been prescribed. He does not use the deen as a means of earning,[2] nor does he earn by outwardly manifesting something which he does not possess. He does not earn a living nor attempt to attain some worldly objective by saying something which is not the most correct and beloved thing in the sight of Allah’s Sacred Law.

‘Finally they should consider themselves as absolute servants of everything in creation for the sake of the Lord of Creation. With this we counsel them, and we wish that Allah, according to people’s response to this call and to their truthfulness with Allah, will bring about great good in the world, and that through this He will renew the deen of this Umma as He has promised on the tongue of His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) , and that He will unite its ranks and deflect from it many tribulations. We hope that in the future that they will spread this goodness with courtesy, piety and taqwa.’

[1] The question was posed in an interview he gave to the Malaysian satellite channel “Astro,” Jumad al-Thani, 1430/ May 2009.
[2] Meaning that someone should not seek religious knowledge purely for the sake of worldly gain.

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