Explanation of Seven Principles from the Salafs’ path of Piety
By Imam Sahl At-Tustari [283H]
قال الامام سهل التستري: أُصُولُنا سَبعَةُ أشياء: التَّمسُّكُ بكتابِ الله والاقتداءُ بسنَّةِ رسول اللهِ وَ أكلُ الحلالِ و كفُّ الأذَى واجتنابُ الآثامِ و التَّوبةُ وأداءُ الحقُوقِ
Shaykh Sahl At-Tustari said: Our principles are based on 7 things; • Acting firmly by the Quran •Following the Sunnah •Eating Halal •Avoiding harm to others •Staying away from sin •Repenting •Fulfilling the rights of others.
Shaykh Sahl ibn Abdillah At-Tustari was a poor man and a sincere advisor. Most of the speech was centered on the spiritual development for actions of worship.
Shaykh Abu Muhammad Sahl ibn Abdillah At-Tustari resided in Basri for a majority of his life. His uncle was the reason for him to strive on the path of piety and zuhd. One day his uncle, Muhammad ibn Sawwar, told him, Listen Sahl! Why not be mindful of the Allah, Who created you?! Sahl replied: “How can I do that?” Muhammad said:” When Muhammad said:” When you getting to go to sleep say this three times, without moving your lips, Allah is with me, Allah is looking at me, Allah is a witness over me.
Sahl said he took his uncles advice and found the sweetness of faith. On another occasion his unlce said to him. Sahl, the one who knows Allah is with him, sees him and is a witness over him; would he sin and disobey Allah?!
- Acting firmly by the Quran… Allah ordered us to hold firm to the Quran. He said: And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah[ 3-103]
Allah said: Follow what has been inspired to you (O Muhammad ) from your Lord, La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) and turn aside from Al-Mushrikun.[6:106]
Allah ordered His Messenger and the Muslims to follow the Quran and act by it because it’s the truth without contradictions. Allah said: And (O Muhammad ), follow the inspiration sent unto you, and be patient till Allah gives judgement. And He is the Best of judges.[10:109]
Ibn Kathir mentioned this verse means adhere to what has been sent down to you and act by its commands and remain patient with those who oppose you for doing so.[Tafsir 2/436]
- Following the Sunnah…Allah ordered us to follow the Prophet [ﷺ]And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad ) gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it) , and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.[59:7]
The Prophet[ﷺ] speech is revelation. The Most High said: Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.[53:3-4].
The Prophet [ﷺ] words explain the Quran therefore they go hand in hand. Allah said: And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad ) the reminder and the advice (the Qur’an), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought.[16:44]
Through adhering to the Quran and the Sunnah with discipline the person will remain on the correct path. Al-‘Irbad bin Sariyah say: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) delivered a moving speech to us which made our eyes flow with tears and made our hearts melt. We said: ‘O Messenger of Allah. This is a speech of farewell. What did you enjoin upon us?’ He said: ‘I am leaving you upon a (path of) brightness whose night is like its day. No one will deviate from it after I am gone but one who is doomed. Whoever among you lives will see great conflict. I urge you to adhere to what you know of my Sunnah and the path of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, and cling stubbornly to it. And you must obey, even if (your leader is) an Abyssinian leader. For the true believer is like a camel with a ring in its nose; wherever it is driven, it complies.” 
- Eating Halal…Allah is ordered us to eat Allah. He said: O (you) Messengers! Eat of the Taiyibat [all kinds of Halal (legal) foods which Allah has made legal (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk products, fats, vegetables, fruits, etc.],[ 23:51]
Allah said: O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.[2:172]
Allah said: O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth, and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan (Satan). Verily, he is to you an open enemy.[2:168]
Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali said: Allah doesn’t accept an action or purify person unless he eats Halal. Eating unlawful food spoils actions and prevent them from being accepted.[ Jami-olum wal Hikam pg 185]
Sometimes the word ( الطيب ) is used as a synonym for (الحلال) This is similar to the verse. Allah said: Say (O Muhammad ): “Not equal are Al-Khabith (all that is evil and bad as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.) and At-Taiyib (all that is good as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.), even though the abundance of Al-Khabith (evil) may please you.”[5:100]
Not only can eating unlawful Haraam food prevent a person’s actions from accepted, but eating wearing clothes purchased from illegal earnings or Haraam wealth. i.e drug money, Riba, stolen wealth,etc..
Then Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned [the case] of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty, and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying “O Lord! O Lord!,” while his food is haram (unlawful), his drink is haram, his clothing is haram, and he has been nourished with haram, so how can [his supplication] be answered?[ Sahih Muslim:1015] This hadith highlights the importance of of dealing in Halal transactions and the dangers of illegal dealings.[Fathul Mubeen, by Shaykh Ahmed Al-Haytami Ash-Shafa’I 974H]
- Avoiding harm to others…Harming others isn’t only restricted to Muslims, but includes all of humanity and animals. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind.”[ Sahih al-Bukhari 7376] And the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A woman entered the (Hell) Fire because of a cat which she had tied, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth. “[Sahih al-Bukhari 3318]
Harming Muslims is even more strictly prohibited. When a Muslim harms his brother in faith it shows he has weak faith. Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (Radi Allahu anhu) reported: I asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): “Who is the most excellent among the Muslims?” He said, “One from whose tongue and hands the other Muslims are secure.”.
Harming a Muslim with tongue is by back-biting, slander, spread false rumors, tale-carrying, cursing him, name-calling and so forth. Allah said: O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: “O sinner”, or “O wicked”, etc.]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.).12. O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting) . And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.[49:11-12]
Harming a Muslim with hands is done by physically attacking him, assaulting him with a weapon, or placing something harmful in path. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Faith has seventy-some odd doors, the lowest of which is removing something harmful from the road,[ Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2614]
- Staying away from sin… Ibn Al-Qayyim mentioned that there are three things land people into Hell.
- Doubtful matters which cause doubting in Allah’s religion
- Following evil desires which cause a person to place his whims and desires over obeying Allah and seeking His Pleasure.
- Anger which causes a person to oppress others. And the origin of sinning stems from three things
- This is what caused Satan to become the being he is today
- Greedy tendencies. This is what removed Adam from Jannah
- This is what took place between the two sons of Adam, when one killed the other. Whoever protects himself against these three things will be protected from the evil. Disbelief comes from arrogance. Sinning comes greedy tendencies and oppression and acting unjustly comes from envy and jealousy.[Al-Fawa’id 298]
- Repenting…Repenting to Allah for our sins is a must on every human-being. Its conditions are;
- Stop the sin immediately
- The feel of remorse and regret
- The will to never to return to that sin again
- Return people’s rights back to them[ Hada’iq Al-Awliyah/by Ibn Al-Mullaqqin/pg 49]
Allah has ordered repentance in the Quran. He said: And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.[24:31]
He said: “And ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn unto Him in repentance. Verily, my Lord is Most Merciful, Most Loving.”[11:90]
These verses in the Quran that order us to repent and show Allah accepts it are numerous. Through repenting to Allah and seeking His forgiveness we stand chance to receive Jannah; however this repentance must be done sincerely. Allah said: O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) the Day that Allah will not disgrace the Prophet (Muhammad ) and those who believe with him, their Light will run forward before them and with (their Records Books of deeds) in their right hands they will say: “Our Lord! Keep perfect our Light for us [and do not put it off till we cross over the Sirat (a slippery bridge over the Hell) safely] and grant us forgiveness. Verily, You are Able to do all things .”[66:8]
By repenting to Allah we aren’t only following His commands ,but also the Sunnah of the Prophet [ﷺ]Narrated Abu Huraira[ Radi Allah anhu] narrated.I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying.” By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”[Al-Bukhari 6307] and in another narration in Ibn Majah’s Sunnan on Abu Hurairah it was mentioned the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ ) said: ‘I seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him one hundred times each day.’
These narrations encourage us to seek Allah’s forgiveness daily before we die as that is when the door of repentance is closed or when the sun rises from the east. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:“ Allah accepts the repentance of His slave so long as the death rattle has not yet reached his throat.” And Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who repents before the sun rises from the west, Allah will forgive him”.[Muslim 7089]
- Fulfilling the rights of others…Allah said: And fulfil (every) covenant. Verily! the covenant, will be questioned about.[17:34]
Allah said:And fulfill the Covenant of Allah (Bai’a: pledge for Islam) when you have covenanted, and break not the oaths after you have confirmed them, and indeed you have appointed Allah your surety. Verily! Allah knows what you do.[16:91]
Allah said: O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations[5:1]
Allah said: O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?. Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.[61:2-3]
These verse are a stern warning agiant breaking contracts and not giving people their rights which they are entitled to. Spouses have rights over each other, children have rights over their parents and the greatest right of all is owed to Allah. That is we worship Him alone without any partners.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “O Mu`adh! Do you know what Allah’s Right upon His slaves is?” I said, “Allah and His Apostle know best.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “To worship Him (Allah) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allah). Do you know what their right upon Him is?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know best.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Not to punish them (if they do so).[Al-Bukhari:7373]
Allah knows best and to Him I repent
Acknowledgements: Quranic verses were taken from the noble Quran.
Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle
Doha, Qatar [1439 H]
 Hilyatul Awliyah 3/546[summarized version by Salih Ahmed Saamy
 Tabat Al-Awliyah pg 201/by Ibn Al-Mulaqqin
 [Ibn Majah: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 43]