A Muslim Reads The Hagakure – Part I

Hagakure/葉隱 (lit., Hidden by the Leaves or Hidden Leaves), is a spiritual guide for a warrior, as well as a lament, taken from a collection of commentaries by Yamamoto Tsunetomo—former retainer to Nabeshima Mitsushige, the third ruler of Saga prefecture in Japan—by Tsuramoto Tashiro. While initially compiled in the early 1700’s it was not made publicly available until many years after.



“When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim.” — Hagakure.

إنْ قامَتِ السَّاعةُ وفي يدِ أحدِكُم فَسيلةً فإنِ استَطاعَ أن لا تَقومَ حتَّى يغرِسَها فلْيغرِسْها
الراوي : أنس بن مالك | المحدث : الألباني | المصدر : صحيح الأدب المفرد

Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.” — al-Albani’s Sahih al-Jami’.

“If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.” — Hagakure.

سمعتُ النبيَّ صلَّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّمَ ، قبل وفاتِه بثلاثٍ ، يقول ” لا يموتنَّ أحدكم إلا وهو يحسنُ باللهِ الظنَّ ” .
الراوي : جابر بن عبدالله | المحدث : مسلم | المصدر : صحيح مسلم
الصفحة أو الرقم: 2877

Jabir reported:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ as saying three days before his death: ‘None of you should court death but only hoping good from Allah’.” — Sahih Muslim.

“A man is a good retainer to the extent that he earnestly places importance in his master … But even a person who is good for nothing and exceedingly clumsy will be a reliable retainer if only he has the determination to think earnestly of his master.” — Hagakure.

The beginning of “earnestly [placing] importance on [your] Master” is having a good opinion of Him:

إنَّ حُسنَ الظنِّ باللَّهِ عزَّ وجلَّ مِن حُسنِ عبادةِ اللَّهِ
الراوي : أبو هريرة | المحدث : أحمد شاكر | المصدر : مسند أحمد
الصفحة أو الرقم: 16/289 | خلاصة حكم المحدث : إسناده حسن

Narrated by Abu Hurayrah:

“Having a good opinion of God is from the goodness of worship.” Imam Ahmad’s Musnad.

Yamamoto’s “good for nothing and exceedingly clumsy” is reminiscent of the hadith in which the Prophet ﷺ gives advice to a man who feels overwhelmed with the requirements and obligations of the Dīn:

أنَّ رجلًا قال يا رسولَ اللهِ إنَّ شرائعَ الإسلامِ قد كثُرت عليَّ فأخبِرني بشيءٍ أتشبَّثُ به قال: لا يزالُ لسانُك رطبًا من ذكرِ اللهِ
الراوي : عبدالله بن بسر | المحدث : الألباني | المصدر : صحيح الترمذي
الصفحة أو الرقم: 3375 | خلاصة حكم المحدث: صحيح

`Abdullah bin Busr narrated:

“A man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, the legislated acts of Islam have become too much for me, so inform me of a thing that I should stick to.’ He ﷺ said, ‘Do not let your tongue cease to be moist with the remembrance of Allah’.” Jami’ al-Tirmidhi.

As for “one is able to live as though his body were already dead”, one is reminded of a passage from al-Ghazzālī’s Ihyā’ Ulūm al-Dīn:

ولن يتسير الاستعداد للشيء إلا عند تجدد ذكره على القلب

“Preparation for a thing will never be easy unless it comes with a renewing of its mention in the heart.” — al-Ghazzālī, Kitāb Dhikr al-Mawt (The Book on Remembering Death)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.