One of the scholars asked his student:
How long has it been since you accompanied me?
The student replied: It has been thirty three years.
The scholar said: What have you learned during this time?
The student replied: I learned eight matters.
The scholar exclaimed: To Allah we belong and to him we return.
My life has been spent on you and you have only learned eight different things!?
The student said: I do not want to lie to you, I did not learn anything but those eight things.
The scholar said: Alright, then tell me what you learned so I can hear it.
The student said:
First: I looked at creation and I saw everyone taking a companion. When they each went to their grave, they became separated. I then befriended good deeds, so that when I enter my grave, they will follow me.
Second: I saw Allah’s words “And as for he who fears the status of his lord and forbids himself from desires, heaven will be his abode” so I struggled against my self to drive away my impulses so that I could be steadfast on the obedience of Allah.
Third: I observed creation and saw that anyone who had anything of value would try to hold on to it. Then I saw the verse where Allah says “Whatever is with you will end, and what is with Allah lasts forever”, so whenever I gained anything valuable, I gave it to Allah so he could keep it for me with him.
Fourth: I observed the creation, and I saw all of them showing off their wealth or lineage. Then I saw Allah’s words “Indeed the most noble of you with Allah is the most righteous and aware of Allah” So I strove to attain piety so that I could be noble in the sight of Allah.
Fifth: I observed creation and I found them envying one another over their worldly possessions. I then looked to the verse of Allah “We have portioned amongst them their livelihood in the (lowly) worldly life” so I realized that it is Allah who chooses who receives less or more (and envy would be questioning Allah’s choice), so I abandoned jealousy.
Sixth: I observed that creatures have enmity amongst themselves, hatred toward each other, and even warfare amongst one another. I then saw the verse where Allah says “Indeed the devil is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy”; so I abandoned animosity towards people and occupied myself with battling the devil.
Seventh: I observed the creation, and I saw every one of them working hard, forgoing their desires and struggling in order to attain worldly sustenance; even pursuing it through means that are not halal for them. I then reflected upon Allah’s verse “And there is no creature upon the Earth except that upon Allah is (the responsibility for) its sustenance. Knowing I was one of these creatures, I occupied myself in the pursuit of what Allah has ordered me to do, and left that (worldly sustenance), which he has guaranteed me, up to Him.
Eighth: I observed creation and I saw each one of the creatures relying on another creature like them; one relying on another for his wealth, or to look after his estate or his business. I then looked upon the verse where Allah says “and whosoever relies upon Allah, He is sufficient for him”, so I abandoned reliance upon creation and I strove toward reliance upon The Creator.