Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related that Habib Ajmi, a Sufi acquaintance of Hasan al-Basri, mispronounced a word during prayer, which caused Hasan al-Basri to move away from him and pray separately.

But in a dream that night, God told Hasan al-Basri, “Your prayer would have earned you Divine approval, and that single prayer would have equaled all the prayers you have said in your life, if you had remained in prayer with Habib Ajmi. You were disapproving of his pronunciation but ignored the purity of his heart. A contrite heart is more valuable than exact pronunciation.”

Hasan al-Basri then asked Habib Ajmi how the latter had achieved his high spiritual rank, and Habib Ajmi replied, “Brightening the heart through prayer is better than darkening paper with writing.”

– Adapted from the forthcoming book, The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony, by Stephen Schwartz.

Ya Haqq!


11 Responses to Pronunciation

  1. misspecs says:

    Very profound. Great food for thought.

  2. Umm Bilal says:

    Assalamu alaikum Dear Irving Darvish.
    What a long and hazardous journey we are on! Forever on the look out for pot holes and tangents that take us off track. Such lessons we learn from these previous giants. Makes me question how much time I spend darkening a screen with bashing!
    Endless blessings upon you and yours,
    Wassalamu alaikum

  3. MysticSaint says:

    seems like its going to be a wonderful book by Stephen Schwartz.

    thank you for giving the glad tidings.

    “Brightening the heart through prayer is better than darkening paper with writing.” … great reminder to all writer’s ego, us.

  4. zed says:

    Ah, dear Irving……..

    thank you.

  5. ned says:

    Ah, I look forward to picking up this book.

    One thing I will add is that there is a point to correct pronunciation — it has to do with the mantric effect of certain phrases. Certain phrases have acquired a spiritual power owing to having been created by people with the proper spiritual awareness, and reciting them properly is crucial to allowing them to take their effect in your life.

    Nevertheless, a wide heart never rejects people for small mistakes like these, but rather labours and toils to help people achieve greater inner perfection. And another point to remember is that Divine Justice is based on the Divine’s standards, on an inner spiritual “translogic”, if you will, and on a higher supramorality, that transcend the standards of human mental logic and human morality.

  6. “Brightening the heart through prayer is better than darkening paper with writing.”
    I think I will write that out and put it somewhere near my laptop as a constant reminder. This looks like an interesting book from Stephen Schwartz

  7. Aafke says:

    I think this is something many people need to learn; substance over trivial small mistakes.
    I feel there seems to be global tendency to stress the most unimportant little details, while completely losing the substance, the message, and the really important basics of religion.

  8. pbsweeney says:

    I love the quote, but I have a very hard time with the book itself, filled as it is with many broad and bland generalities and statements about Sufism, the Path and the various Orders, some of which are misleading or inaccurate. I did so want the book to be good, because the idea is an important one.


  9. GreenSufi says:

    great story from the Tazkirat ul Auliya of Hazrat Attar RA , pity about Schwartz sahib’s ‘good islam bad islam’-[political] agenda.

    and congratulations inshaAllah you’ll make a wonderful grandpa!

  10. Desert Rose says:

    It is a reminder for us to remember, “Judge not, lest we be judged.” How humbling for Hasan al-Basri. Today, I learn from his mistakes also. Habib Ajmi was very sincere in his prayers.

    Assaltu Khairum Minan Naum — Prayer is better than sleep. (Fajir Azan).

    Good Luck to Stephen Schwartz on his new book.

  11. People keep telling me not to respond to blog comments but I would be very pleased to learn from Patricia Sweeney regarding “statements about Sufism, the Path and the various Orders, some of which are misleading or inaccurate” in my new book. The manuscript of my book was vetted, as are all my writings on Islam, by distinguished ulema, shaykhs, babas, and pious academic scholars from Islamic faculties and respected universities in Islamic countries. I am very pleased to see that people are interested in my new book, and a little surprised to see that some seem to have read it, since it has not been released. I suppose some of the galleys got around. But there are many differences, distinctions, disagreements, and other discontinuities in the history of Islam and of Sufism. Some readers may find some of my opinions worthy of disagreement, to which they are entitled and about which I am reluctant to engage in controversy, but I am eager to learn of inaccuracies, i.e. factual mistakes,

    Anybody so interested can write directly to me at

    Stephen Schwartz

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