Mukhtaṣr minhāj al-qāṣidīn includes an amazing story illustrating the fruits of childhood education. Sahl bin ʿAbd Allah recounting his story:
When I was a boy three years old, I would stay up at night watching my uncle Muhammad bin Sawwar pray. He said to me, “Wouldn’t you like to remember Allah who created you?” I said, “How do I remember Him?” He replied, “In your heart say, ‘Allah is with me. Allah sees me. Allah witnesses me,’ thrice, without moving your tongue.”
I did this for several nights, and then told him. He said, “Say it eleven times each night.” So I did this, and its sweetness filled my heart.
After a year my uncle said to me, “Remember what I taught you and continue doing it until you enter your grave. O, Sahl! If Allah is with, looking over, and witnessing someone, could that person disobey Him? Don’t you dare disobey!”
I went off to school and memorized the Qur’an when I was six or seven years old. Then I fasted daily, with coarse wheat bread as my provision. And then I would stand the entire night in prayer.1
Little habits established at an early age bear fruit throughout one’s life.
- Mukhtaṣr minhāj al-qāṣidīn, p161. ↩