Muslim World

If You Are Heedless

If You Are Heedless

Once when I lived in Damascus a few years ago, I saw a lovely poem written on a mosque wall, which I noted down on a small piece of paper. Recently this paper slipped out of one of my old books, and brought back many memories of Syria (may Allah grant its people relief and comfort), as well as served as a beautiful spiritual reminder. I believe these lines are attributed to Imam Shafi’i. Here they are, with a rough translation below,


عَلَيْكَ بِتَقْوَى اللهِ إِنْ كُنْتَ غَافِلاً ……. يُأْتِيْكَ بِالْأرْزَاقِ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَاتَدْرِيفَكَيْفَ تَخَافُ الْفَقْرَ واللهُ رَازِقآ ……… فَقَدْ رَزَقَ الطير والحوتَ فِي البَحْرِوَمَنْ ظَنَّ أَنّ الرِّزْقَ يَأْتِي بِقُوَّةٍ ………مَا أَكَلَ الْعُصْفُورُ شَيْئاً مَعَ النسرِتَزُولُ عَنْ الدُّنْيا فَإِنَّكَ لَاتَدْرِي ……… إذَا جنّ عليك الليل هَلْ تعش إلى الَفجْرِفَكَمْ مِنْ صَحِيحٍ مَات مِن غَيْر عِلَةٍ ……. وَكَمْ مِنْ سَقِيمٍ عَاشَ حِيناً مِنْ الدَّهْرِوَكَمْ مِنْ فَتى أمْسَى وَأَصْبَحَ ضَاحِكاً …….. وأكْفَانَه فِي الغَيْبِ تَنْسجُ وَهُو لَايَدْرِيفَمَــنْ عَـاشَ ألفاً وألفين ……..فَـلَابُدَّ مِنْ يَوْمٍ يَسِـيرُ إِلَى القَبْرِ

Commit to God-consciousness [taqwa] if you have been heedless,

And He will bring you provision from whence you don’t know.

How can you fear poverty when Allah is the Provider?

For He sustains the birds and (even) the fish in the seas.

And whoever thinks that provision came due to one’s strength

Would never [see a weak] sparrow eat where the eagle reigns.

Take little from this world, for you do not know

When night descends upon you if you will live to see daybreak.

How many of sound health died without illness

And how many sick ones lived for some time?

How many young ones spend their nights and days laughing

While their burial shroud is being stitched in the Unseen and they are unaware?

Whoever lives, [even if it be] for a thousand years or two,

Will never escape the day he moves on to his grave.