He is Fudayl Ibn Iyaad at-Tamimi al-Yarbut al-Khurasani Abū ‘Ali. He was from Khurasan, from the region of Merv. It is said that he was born in Samarkand and grew up in Abiward. He died in Makkah in the month of Muharram in the year 187 A.H.
Fudayl Ibn Iyaad is regarded as a pious and renowned salaf whose story of repentance every Muslims should be acquainted with. He made a drastic transformation from being a thief and highway robber to an ascetic person, an ardent worshipper of Allah, and a person who calls people to the way of the Messanger of Allah through his ways and his speech. All this happened when he heard the Qur’ān with his heart and his intellect. He then turned to Allah with a true and sincere repentance. Al-Dhahabi describes him as an Imām, an examplary man, and Shaykh Al-Islām. Many wise and inspiring statements are also related from him.
In his early years, al-Fudayl used to be an infamous highway robber who would prowl in the night for victims on the road between Abyûrd and Sarkhas. He was in love with a girl between these two cities. One night, out of desperation to be with her, al-Fudayl climbed the wall of her home. As he was climbing over it, he heard a voice reciting a portion of the Glorious Qur’an:
“Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe to be affected by Allah’s Reminder?”
[Qur’an al-Hadeed 57:16]
Upon hearing this, he said “O my Lord, the time has indeed come.” So, he returned to where he came from. He found himself at some ruins while seeking shelter for the night. And there he saw some travelers who were discussing amongst themselves. He heard one of them say, “We should move on.” Another person said, “No, not until the morning, for al-Fudayl is lurking on the road somewhere out there, just waiting to rob us.”
Having heard the entire conversation, al-Fudayl regretfully remarked, “I spend the night in sin and there are some Muslims here who fear me; I think that Allah only led me to them so that I might take lesson and stop what I am doing. O Allah! I have repented, and as part of my tawbah I will live next to Al-Bayt Al-Harâm (in Makkah).”
Some of his quotes:
“Abandoning deeds because of people is riyaa (showing off)! And doing deeds because of people is shirk (polytheism)! And ikhlaas (sincerity) is that Allah protects you from both of that.” (‘Bustan al-’Arifin ‘ by Imam al-Nawawi)
If you can be unknown, be so; it doesn’t matter if you are not known and it doesn’t matter if you are not praised. It doesn’t matter if you are blameworthy according to people if you are praiseworthy with Allâh the Mighty and Majestic. (Al-Bayhaqî, Al-Zuhd Al-Kabîr p100)
“When backbiting appears, brotherhood for Allâh will disappear; and at that time, you will be like things plated with gold and silver: wooden on the inside, [merely] looking good on the outside.” (Abû Nu’aym, Hilyah Al-Awliyâ`, Vol. 3 p395)
“Allah ‘azza wa jalla accepts only those deeds which are both correct and sincere (pure). If the deed is done correctly but not sincerely, it will not be accepted. And if it is sincere but not correct, it will not be accepted.” He was asked,
“Abû ‘Alî! What is the sincere and correct deed?”
He replied, “The sincere deed is one that is done only for Allah ‘azza wa jall. And the correct deed is one done according to the Sunnah.” (Abû Nu’aym, Hilyah Al-Awliyâ` Vol.8 p95)
It is reported that Bashr b. Al-Hârith said, “I was once with Al-Fudayl b. ‘Ayyâd in Makkah. He sat with us until midnight, then went and did tawâf until the morning. I said, ‘Abû ‘Alî! Won’t you sleep?’ He replied, ‘Woe to you! And is there anyone who hears a mention of the Fire and then feels like sleeping!?’”
Abû Bakr Al-Daynûrî, Al-Mujâlasah wa Jawâhir Al- ‘Ilm, article 723.
May Allah have mercy upon him all the pious predecessors