Monday, 27 May 2013

Did Hadith inspire Benjamin Franklin?

I once send an American correspondent a adīth (sayings of Muammad Rasūlullāh صلى الله عليه و سلم – 570-632). He countered with a quote from the American statesman, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). I later read a booklet of Mr Franklin’s quotes. I was indeed impressed with his wit, but the more I read, the more the resemblance with adīth struck me. adīth of course, were uttered 11 centuries before Mr Franklin. Were they the inspiration for his wise words or is it just a coincidence? I do not know, but I thought it an interesting exercise to compile some of his sayings alongside adīth of similar import.  

Benjamin Franklin
Arabic Hadith
Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
عليك بطول الصمت فإنه مطردة للشيطان

Maintain lengthy silence, for that repels the Devil.

Amad from Abū arr رضى الله عنه]

He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows or all he sees.

من صمت نجا

One who keeps silent is saved.

at-Tirmiẓī from ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Amr رضى الله عنهما

Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody.

من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، فليقل خيرا أو ليصمت ، ومن كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، فليكرم جاره ، ومن كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، فليكرم ضيفه

One who believes in Allāh and the Last Day should only speak good or remain silent. One who believes in Allāh and the Last Day should honour his neighbour. One who believes in Allāh and the Last Day should honour his guest.  
Muslim from Abū Hurayrah رضى الله عنه

Lost time is never found again.

نعمتان مغبون فيهما كثيرٌ من الناس: الصحة والفراغ

Many people are in deception regarding two bounties – health and free time.

al-Ḥākim from Ibn ‘Abbās رضى الله عنهما

A good conscience is a continual Christmas.

استفت قلبك

Seek the ruling of your heart

Amad from Wābiah bin Ma‘bad رضى الله عنه

It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.

مَا أَكَلَ أَحَدٌ طَعَامًا قَطُّ خَيْرًا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ مِنْ عَمَلِ يَدِهِ
No one has eaten better food that what he eats from the labour of his hand.
al-Bukhārī from al-Miqdām رضى الله عنه

Honesty is the best policy.

عَلَيْكُمْ بِالصِّدْقِ، فَإِنَّ الصِّدْقَ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْبِرِّ

Cling to honesty for honesty guides to goodness.

al-Bukhārī from Ibn Mas‘ūd رضى الله عنه

Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.

الكيس من دان نفسه وعمل لما بعد الموت والعاجز من اتبع نفسه هواها وتنمى على الله الأماني

Intelligent is he who accounts for himself and acts who what will come after death. Helpless is he who lets himself follow his passion and yet entertains false hope in Allāh.
a-abrānī from Shaddād bin Aws رضى الله عنه

Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.

إنما الغنى غنى القلب ، والفقر فقر القلب

True wealth is contentment of the heart. True poverty is dearth of the heart.
an-Nasāi from Abū arr رضى الله عنه
Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.

لا طاعة لمخلوق في معصية الخالق

There is no obedience to creation in disobedience to the Creator.

If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.

إن الله رفيق يحب الرفق ويعطي على الرفق ما لا يعطي على العنف, وما لا يعطي على ما سواه

Indeed Allāh is most gentle and loves gentleness. He gives upon gentleness what He does not give upon harshness, what He does not give upon what is not [gentle].  
Muslim from ‘Āishah رضى الله عنها

Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.

إن فيك خصلتين يحبهما الله: الحلم والأناة

There are two characteristics in you which Allāh loves – forbearance and deliberation. 
Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbās رضى الله عنهما

When in doubt, don't.

دع ما يريبك ، إلى ما لا يريبك

Leave what puts you in doubt for that which does not put you in doubt.
at-Tirmiẓī al-asan bin ‘Alī رضى الله عنهما

A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges.

*افلا يرون انا نأتى الأرض ننقصها من أطرافها أفهم الغلبون

Do they not see how We advance upon the land, reducing it from its outlying borders? Are they then going to be victorious? *Qurān, NOT Hadīth
al-Ambiyā: 44

Do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them.

صِلْ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ , وَأَعْطِ مَنْ حَرَمَك وَاعْفُ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ

Maintain ties with those who cut you off. Give from your revered possessions. Pardon those who wrong you.
Aḥmad from ‘Uqbah bin ‘Āmir رضى الله عنه

Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.

من فارقت روحه جسده وهو بريء من ثلاث دخل الجنة: الغلول، والدين، والكبر

He whose soul departs from his body whilst he is free of three things will enter Paradise – cheating, debt and pride.
at-Tirmiẓī from Thawbān رضى الله عنه

No nation was ever ruined by trade.

تسعة أعشار الرزق في التجارة

Nine-tenths of sustenance lies in trade.

Ibn Abid Dunyā from Nu‘aym bin ‘Abdirramān رضى الله عنه

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise

اللهم بارك لأمتي في بكورها

O Allāh! Bless my Ummah in its early morning.
Ibn Mājah from Ṣakhr al-Ghāmidī رضى الله عنه

Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

استعينوا على إنجاح الحوائج بالكتمان فإن كل ذي نعمة محسود
Assist the fulfilling of your needs by keeping them secret, for everyone with a bounty is envied.
aṭ-Ṭabrānī from Mu‘āẓ bin Jabal  رضى الله عنه


سليمان الكندي

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