Hatem Al Assam was known for his great trust in Allah. He was a disciple of Shaqiq Al Balkhi.
In all his circumstances, from beginning to end, he never once acted untruthfully, so that Junayd said: “Hatem al-Assam is the veracious one (siddiq) of our time.” He has lofty sayings on the subtleties of discerning the cankers of the soul and the weaknesses of human nature, and is the author of famous works on ethics (`ilm-i mu`amalat).
Hatem Al Assam is known for many wisdom words, among the most famous ones, is the speech he had with his shaikh Shaqiq.
One day Shaqiq Al Balkhi asked his student Hatem: Since how long have you kept my company? Hatem replied: since thirty years. Shaqiq asked him then: What have you then learnt from me in this period of time? Hatem replied: I have gained from you eight benefits. Shaqiq said: We are to Allah and to Allah we shall return, my age was spent with you and you only learnt eight issues?! Hatem said: O Professor, I did not learn other than these and I do not like to lie. Shaqiq said: then give me these eight issues so that I could hear them.
Hatem al-Asam said:
The first benefit is that I observed the creation and saw that everyone had loved one and one passionately desired whom he loved and longed for. Some of the beloved accompany the lover up to the brink of sickness and death and others to the gate of the graveyard. All of them return and leave him there alone. No one goes into the tomb with him. I looked into the matter and said to myself: ‘The best beloved is that which would enter the tomb with the lover to console him’; I found it to be nothing else than good works, so I took this as my beloved, to illuminate my grave for me and to comfort me in it and not leave me alone.
At this point Shaqiq said: “May Allah bless you and grant you success. What is the second one?”
The second benefit is that I saw that the people were following their lusts and hastening towards the desires of the souls; and I meditated on the saying of Allah the Exalted: “But as for whoever has feared the Majesty of his Lord and has refrained his soul from lust, truly the Garden shall be his dwelling place” (Quran, 79:40-41). Convinced that the Quran was true and right, I began to deny my soul [its pleasures] and hurried to combat it and refuse it its passionate desires, until I enjoyed real satisfaction in obedience to Allah the Exalted.
The third benefit is that I saw that every human being is striving to accumulate as much as he can from the wreckage of this world and then holding on strongly to it. I meditated on the Quranic verse: “What is with you vanishes; what is with Allah is lasting”(Quran, 19:96). So I gave freely my worldly possessions for His sake by distributing them among the poor so that it would be my provision in the future with Him the Exalted.
The fourth benefit is that some people whom I observed think that their dignity and honor lie in the multitude of their family and large clans. They were fascinated by these things. Others claimed honor and dignity in abundance of wealth and children, and they were proud of it. Some believed honor and power abide in appropriating the wealth of others, doing injustice to them and shedding their blood. Others considered dignity to consist of extravagance and spending wealth in a foolish manner. I meditated upon the saying of the Exalted: “The most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you “(Quran, 49:13). I chose righteousness for myself, convinced that the Quran is right and true and those claims and opinions of the people are all false and temporal.
The fifth benefit is that I found people slandering each other and speaking ill of one another out of envy of fortune, power and knowledge. I meditated upon the saying of Allah: It is We who divide their livelihood among them in the life of this world (Quran, 43:32). I realized that the process of dividing livelihood is entirely in the hands of Allah since the beginning of time. Therefore I never envied anyone and was satisfied with the distribution of Allah the Exalted.
The sixth benefit is that I saw people becoming enemies of each other for difference reasons. I meditated upon the saying of Allah: “Verily, Satan is an enemy to you; so treat him as an enemy”(Quran, 35:6). I became aware that enmity with anyone except Satan was not permissible.
The seventh benefit is that I saw everyone working very hard, exhausting themselves to obtain food and sustenance, tempted by doubts and forbidden things. They degraded themselves in humiliation. I pondered over the saying of Allah the Exalted: “There is no moving creature on earth but that its sustenance is dependent on Allah”(Quran, 11:6). I knew that my livelihood is guaranteed by Allah the Exalted, so I engaged myself in worship and cut off my covetousness of all else, other than Him.
The eighth benefit is that I saw that everyone relied on some created thing, some on the dinar and dirham, some on wealth and property, some on trade and craft and some on creatures like themselves. I meditated on the saying of Allah the Exalted: “And whosoever places his reliance on Allah, sufficient is [Allah] for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion”(Quran, 65:3). I therefore placed full trust in Allah the Exalted. He is sufficient for me and He is the best Disposer of affairs.”
Shaqiq said: O Hatem, May Allah Help you, I looked at the science and found all kinds of goodness and religion, are turning around these eight issues.
Hafiz Abu Naim reports that a man asked Hatem Al Assam:
On which things have you built your trust (tawakkul) onto Allah? Hatem replied: on four qualities: I learned that my sustenance will not be taken by another person, so I am at peace with that. I learned that my work will not be done by any other one, so I keep busy at it. I learned that death comes suddenly so I am hastening to prepare for it, and I learned that I do not escape from Allah’s sight, so I keep shy of Him.