Can you please mention the source of this incident?
A few people from Damascus once came to visit Abu Muslim Al-Khawlani (rahimahullah) while he was out in battle in the land of Rome. Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) had dug a pit within his tent, lined the pit with a piece of leather and filled it with water. He thereafter entered the water and began to roll in it from side to side (in order to cool his body).
When the group from Damascus entered and saw Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) in the water, [they understood that he was fasting] and asked him, “Why are you fasting, whereas you are a traveler”. Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) replied, “If there is a need to fight, I will break my fast and prepare to fight by strengthening myself (through eating).”
Abu Muslim (rahimahullah) then continued, “Horses cannot reach their destination while they are fat. They are only able to move swiftly when they are thin. Alas! The remaining days of our lives are passing us by, and it is for these days that we are striving by exerting ourselves in worship.”
Imam Abu Nu’aym (rahimahullah) has recorded this incident. ‘Allamah Dhahabi (rahimahullah) has also cited it.
(Hilyatul Awliya, vol. 2 pg. 127, Tarikhul Islam, vol. 4 pg. 746, 747 and Siyaru A’alamin Nubala, vol. 4 pg. 10)
Abu Muslim Al Khawlani (rahimahullah) was a senior Tabi’i, and famous for his asceticism (zuhd).
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar