Abdullah Bin Al-Mubarak was a scholar known for simultaneously combining numerous traits of virtue. In fact, his friends would sit and count all of the good things that were part of his character and personality. Reading through his life story, one cannot help but derive brief yet heavy lessons from how this man lived:
1- No matter how bad you think you are, you can always become better. In Tartib Al-Madarik (1/159), Al-Qadi ‘Iyad mentioned that Ibn Al-Mubarak was asked about the circumstances in which he began studying. He replied: “I was a youth who drank wine and loved music and singing while engaging in these filthy acts. So, I gathered some friends to one of my gardens where there were sweet apples, and we ate and drank until we passed out while drunk. At the end of the night, I woke up and picked up the stringed oud and began singing: Isn’t it time that you had mercy on me; and we rebel against those who criticize us?
“And I was unable to pronounce the words as I intended. When I tried again, the oud began speaking to me as if it were a person, saying the verse: ‘Isn’t it time for the hearts of those who believe to be affected by Allah’s reminder?’ (Qur’an, al-Hadid:16) So, I said: ‘Yes, O Lord!’ And I smashed the oud, spilled the wine, and my repentance with all its realities came by the grace of Allah, and I turned towards knowledge and worship.”
2 – Associate with honorable people. In Sifat As-Safwah (2/323), Ibn Al-Jawzi mentioned: “Ibn Al-Mubarak’s home in Marw was vast. It measured 50 square yards. There was no person known for knowledge, worship, manhood, or high status in Marw except that you saw him in this house.”
3 – Be a helpful guest. In Sifat As-Safwah (2/324), it is narrated that when An-Nadr Bin Muhammad’s son got married, he invited Ibn Al-Mubarak, “and when he arrived, Ibn Al-Mubarak got up to serve the guests. An-Nadr did not permit him and swore that he would tell him to leave until Ibn Al-Mubarak finally sat down.”
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