THE ILLUSTRIOUS IMAAM SARAKHSI
IMAAM MUHAMMAD AHMAD Bin Abu Sahl Abu Bakr Shamsul Aimmah As-Sarakhsi (Rahmat-ullah alayh) – died 482 Hijri – was imprisoned by the tyrannical ruler for his (the Imaam’s) Amr Bil Ma’roof Nahy Anil Munkar. The illustrious Imaam was imprisoned in a deep well.
However, students would assemble at the mouth of the well, and Imaam Sarakhsi would conduct his dars (class) from within the well. His students would commit to writing the discourses on Fiqh delivered by the great Imaam. In this manner 16 volumes were compiled. The Imaam did not teach from kitaabs. Whatever he imparted was from his mind and heart. Ilm is a Noor from Allah. It resides in the purified heart of the Mu’min.
Once when the Imaam from inside the well did not hear the voice of one student, he enquired about his whereabouts. A student responded saying that he has gone to make wudhu. At the same time this student informed the Imaam that due to the extreme cold he had not made wudhu. Imaam Sarakhsi (Rahmatullah alayh) reprimandingly commented:
“Do you not have any shame for not being able to make wudhu in this degree of cold? (In other words, the Imaam did not accept the cold to be a valid justification for a student in dars being without wudhu). Once during my student days I was afflicted with a severe fever which caused me diarrhoea. I was constrained to relieve myself 40 times. Each time I would make wudhu at the water-channel. On reaching home, the ink in the inkpot had frozen due to the intensity of the cold. I would clasp the inkpot to my breast for the ink to melt with the warmth of my (feverish) body. When the ink melted, I would commence writing.”
When Imaam Sarakhsi (Rahmatullah alayh) was arrested, he was transported in chains to Oozjand for imprisonment in the well. Along the journey when it was time for Salaat, the fetters would miraculously fall from his hands and feet. He would make wudhu or tayammum, then proclaim the Athaan and commence the Salaat.
When the Salaat commenced, the dumbfounded guards observed a jamaa’t of musallis dressed in green performing Salaat behind the Imaam. These were Malaaikah. After completion of the Salaat, he said to the guards: ‘Now tie me.’ The guards responded: ‘O Khwaajah! We have seen your miracle. We cannot fetter you.’ Imaam Sarakhsi said: “I am under the command of Allah’s laws. I have fulfilled His command so that I may not be put to shame on the Day of Qiyaamah. On the other hand, you are the subordinates of the oppressor. Therefore, obey his order (and tie me) to escape his oppression.”
His Observance of the Sunnah
On reaching the city of Oozjhand where he would be imprisoned in a well, Imaam Sarakhsi (Rahmatullah alayh) went into a Musjid for Salaat (i.e. prior to his confinement inside the well). The Imaam of the Musjid recited Takbeer Tahrimah with his hands tucked inside his sleeves due to the cold. From the back saff (row) where Imaam Sarakhsi was, he called out loudly: “Repeat the Takbeer”. The Imaam repeated the Takbeer again with his hands inside his sleeves. Imaam Sarakhsi again called out loudly for the Takbeer to be repeated. The Imaam repeated the Takbeer. After the third occasion, when Imaam Sarakshi repeated his instruction, the Imaam turned around and said: “Perhaps you are the illustrious Imaam Sarakhsi”.
When Imaam Sarakhsi confirmed his identity, the Imaam asked: “Was there any deficiency in my recitation of the Takbeer?” Imaam Sarakhsi said: “No! But it is Sunnat for men to keep their hands outside their sleeves when reciting the Takbeer. I find it disgraceful to follow a man who enters the Salaat with the Sunnat of females.”
COMMENT: FIQHI TECHNICALITIES
News of the illustrious Imaam’s arrival for imprisonment in the city had reached all the people. The Imaam was famous for his Amr Bil Ma’roof and for his fearless and uncompromising style of acquittal, hence the Imaam of the Musjid was convinced that it can only be Imaam Sarakhsi who was the person to repeatedly draw his attention to the discrepancy in this manner.
The meticulous observance of the Sunnah by Imaam Sarakhsi is noteworthy. In fact, this was the attitude of all the Fuqaha, the staunchest in this observance being Imaam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah alayh). Despite all the Fiqhi technicalities on which many masaa-il are based, by the Fuqaha, they were Sufiya of the loftiest calibre, never resorting to the loopholes and latitude percolating from the technicalities.
Thus, we find Imaam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah alayh) on an extremely hot day, standing in the blazing sun despite the presence of a big house providing shade. He abstained from standing in the shade of the wall because the owner of the house was his debtor. He justified his stance with the Hadith: “A benefit from every qardh (loan given) is riba.”
Imaam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah alayh) did not seek the latitude of the Fiqhi definition of riba. He adopted for his personal practice the spiritual meaning of ‘benefit’. Every zaahir word of the Qur’aan and Hadith has a baatini meaning as well.
We therefore find Imaam Sarakhsi adopting a stern method of Amr Bil Ma’roof bereft of the kind of ‘hikmat’ (diplomacy) which the ulama-e-soo’ of our era promote in terms of their convoluted concept of ‘hikmat’. A faqeeh who is not a Sufi is a jaahil who belongs to the fraternity of the ulama -e-soo’.[By Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]