بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
It is often the case with today’s youth Muslims that by gaining a cursory understanding of the lives of the early great Muslims, they find it difficult to grasp the vigour and determination they possessed; and their tenacity for knowledge and Deen. It is for these reasons that Allah granted them a lofty status and made them examples for the future generations to follow. A glimpse into one such episode is what has been recorded by Imam Ibn al-Jawzi in his work, ‘Manaqib Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’, 2/31 (chapter 58):
Hilal ibn al-‘Ala narrated:
خَرج الشافعي ويحيى بن معين وأحمد بن حنبل إلى مكة؛ فلما أن صاروا بمكة نزلوا في موضع، فأما الشافعي، فإنه استلقى، ويحيى بن مَعين أيضًا استلقى، وأحمد بن حنبل قائم يُصلي، فلما أصبحوا قال الشافعي: لقد عملتُ للمسلمين مئتي مسألة وقيل ليحيى بن معين: أي شيءٍ عملت؟ قال: نَفيتُ عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مِئتي كذاب وقيل لأحمد بن حنبل: فأنت؟ قال: صليتُ ركعات ختمتُ فيها القُرآن
Al-Shafi’i, Yahya ibn Ma’een, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal traveled to Makkah. When they reached the place where they were staying, al-Shafi’i lay down to rest and so did Yahya. Ahmad however, stayed up to pray salah.
The next morning al-Shafi’i said (of the prior night), “I’ve worked out two hundred legal matters for (the benefit of) Muslims.” What did you do?” they asked Yahya. “I’ve refuted two hundred lies told against the Prophet ﷺ.” They turned to Ahmad ibn Hanbal and asked, “What about you?” He replied, “I prayed two rak’at in which I completed the entire Qur’an.”
The himmah (aspired strength) and the juhud (striving) is a notable and recurring feature in their lives. May Allah grant them His Pleasure and infinite mercy, and inspire us with the legacy they’ve left behind. Ameen.
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