Here is an inspiring incident of a teacher of Imam Bukhari (Rahimahullah); who was once a composition of many evils but later turned out to become a profound Muhadith of his time. Muhammad bin Maslama al- Qa’nabi (Rahimahullah) is one of the ustaads of Imam Bukhari (Rahimahullah). He was known to be the thug of his time with many evil habits. Everyone used to be afraid of him. Shu’bah (Rahimahullah) was the great Muhadith at that time. People from all around the Muslim world would travel to him, just to benefit from his discourses of Hadith. Once after completing his lesson, he was mounted on his animal and on his way back home when Muhammad bin Maslama (Rahimahullah) approached him in the center of the road and said to him mockingly, “You narrate ahadith to everyone, narrate one to me as well”. Shu’bah (Rahimahullah) advised him that there are etiquettes of narrating and listening to ahadith, and this is not the time and place to narrate a hadith. Maslama (Rahimahullah) insisted and said, “I will not leave you until you narrate a hadith to me”. Do understand this was on insistence from a person who’s bad habits instilled fear in the hearts of people. So, upon insistence, Imam Shu’bah (Rahimahullah) narrated the following hadith:
إذا فاتك الحياء فافعلْ ما شئتَ
Translation: When you don’t have shame, do as you wish.
This hadith had a profound impact on the heart of Muhammad bin Maslama (Rahimahullah), and it created a revolution in his heart. That was the moment when he repented to Allah, and changed his life, and became a great Muhadith of his time. He excelled to such an extent that he became from amongst the teachers of Imam Bukhari (Rahimahullah). Imam Bukhari (Rahimahullah) narrates a hadith from him which is quoted in Kitabul Iman under the chapter. من الدين الفرار من الفتن The entire hadith is as follows:
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مَسْلَمَةَ، عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ أَبِي صَعْصَعَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَكُونَ خَيْرَ مَالِ الْمُسْلِمِ غَنَمٌ يَتْبَعُ بِهَا شَعَفَ الْجِبَالِ وَمَوَاقِعَ الْقَطْرِ، يَفِرُّ بِدِينِهِ مِنَ الْفِتَنِ ”.
Translation: The Messenger of Allah (Sallahu Alyahi Wasallam) said, “A time will soon come when the best property of a Muslim will be sheep, which he will take on the top of mountains and the places of rainfall (valleys) in order to flee with his religion from afflictions.”
Surprising, how a person who was immersed in fitna changes his life and now is quoting a hadith of how to save oneself from fitna.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai