Author(s): Ayatullah Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib Shirazi
Translator(s): Hamid Hussein Waqar
Topic Tags: Ethics Akhlaq Islam Miscellaneous information: Purchase this book online:
This is the English translation of the book: 'Akhlaq Islami' by Shaheed Ayatullah Sayyid 'Abd al-Hussayn Dastghayb, translated by Hamid Waqar. This book presents a discussion on the importance of Ethics in Islam covering areas like the intellect, religious laws and purifying one's self, and covering such topics as anger, lust, envy, arrogance, etc.
Prophet Muhammad (S) said: “I have not been sent except to perfect the ethical system (makārim al-akhlāq).”(1)
One's actions, when performed out of choice, are due to knowledge, belief and habits. For example, suppose one is thirsty, knows that water is near him and knows that water will relieve his thirst. In this case he will drink water because of his knowledge.
There are also examples of habits. For example, a stingy person will not want to help a needy person, even if he realizes his need, while a generous person will help a needy person without thinking about it. His generosity pushes him towards helping the needy person.
There are rules found in Islam with the purpose of obtaining correct beliefs and habits. The blessings of good habits are found in one's actions.
There are many traditions from the infallibles (a) that claim that good ethics were the Prophets' most important trait. They said that Allah gave them these high traits and that they encouraged mankind to obtain these high traits.(2)
Prophets were chosen
by Allah and ordered to guide mankind and better humanity. The leader of the Prophets is the seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (S). He was raised by Allah. In the Qurān it says that Allah taught him what he did not know.(1) The Qurān says that he had the best ethical traits in order for him to be able to improve his nation until the Day of Judgment.(2) The Qurān says that he is high in every ethical trait.(3) The Qurān also says that his mission was to teach and better humanity.(4)
Imām ‛Alī (a) said the following about Prophet Muhammad (S): “Allah sent his highest angel to show Muhammad (S) the right path and correct ethical traits from the time he breastfed.(5)
With this said he would ask Allah to give him good ethical traits and to be safe from bad ethical traits.(6)
It is clear that 'muzakka' is Allah's purifying ability found in the verse: “..Allah purifies whomever He wishes.”(7) Nobody can purify his own self; instead he must follow the Islamic laws which would result in purification. How is one able to purify himself when it is necessary to have complete knowledge of one's self and complete knowledge of how to correct one's self?
Man only has surface knowledge of himself. The Qurān even says that man has been given only a little bit of knowledge.(8)
Man, from childhood, begins to be attracted to certain things, for example milk and toys. Eventually, he becomes attracted to money and he finds a sense
of self-love. A child struggles to get what he wants, delicious food or interesting toys, and shows a negative reaction when denied what he wants.
The Qurān mentions two verses(1) regarding the Prophet's duties. The word purifying has been mentioned before teaching in these two verses. The reason for this might be that one must build the foundation before he can fill the house with knowledge.
One can obtain good ethical traits by both theory and practice. One who wants to rid himself of bad ethical traits and obtain good ethical traits must know what good and bad characteristics are. After he knows the good and bad traits he should take advice from the best ethical teachers, Prophet Muhammad (S) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a).
A point that must be mentioned is that Allah is the one who purifies people. So, one must ask Allah for help in obtaining these traits. Imām Sādiq (a) said: “Whoever has these great ethical traits should thank Allah, and whoever does not have them should ask Allah for them.”(4)
The martyr had a special desire to help the seminary students purify themselves. He would teach Islamic ethics every Thursday. He would tell them that they would have to be the role models of the Islamic ethical system in the society and that the more they worked on themselves, the
more they worked on society. This is because one must guide people with their actions and manners before their words.
After Imām Khomeini (r) talked about the importance of unity between the university and the religious seminary, Shahīd Dastghayb invited university students to his Thursday lectures as well. Many young men and women accepted his invitation and took part in his lectures every week.
Thirteen lectures were given and then the class was cancelled due to summer vacation. Shahīd Dastghayb wanted to continue them, but the hypocrites took him away from us.
This book is a collection of these lectures.
Imām Khomeini said that some subjects should be repeated in order to be effective. Likewise, many subjects are repeated in the Holy Qurān. This is the purpose of these lectures.
On the day of unity between university students and seminary students, Imām said: “With this revolution, you were able to break the dam that Ridā Khān and his son built between the university and the religious seminary, between the university students and the seminary students. They built this dam so that these two forces would not join hands and cause problems for their dictatorship. The revolution broke the dam; do not let this dam be built again.”
From the beginning of the revolution you have seen how some people disrespect the religious scholars in their speeches. They want to take the love that the youth have for scholars out of their hearts so that they can establish another dictatorship. University students must be one
with religious students. The goal of both institutions are one; serving mankind. Both the university and the religious seminary study medicine. Those who specialize in physical medicine cure physical diseases and those who specialize in spiritual medicine cure spiritual diseases. Both have one goal; serving mankind. Why should they be separated from each other?
We will spend one day a week in this place to take care of the second goal. The second goal is what Imām said: “University and religious students must purify themselves.” They will cause harm to society if they are not purified. An unpurified doctor will cause harm to the society just like an unpurified mujtahid.(1) Imām gave examples of these as well. Doctor Ahmadī, who lived in the Pahlavī period, was killed by an injection and Shaykh Nūrī was executed by the order of a Shaykh from Zanjān.
One must both study and purify himself. The Qurān mentioned that the Prophets' duties were both purifying and teaching.(2) If one refrains from purifying himself he would be like a donkey that carries books.(3) An example is Pharaoh; he had so much knowledge, but still fought against Mūsa. He thought himself to be better than Mūsa.
In short, we must consider self-building more important than learning. Purifying one's self does not come with out struggle. Imām ‛Alī (a) said: “I struggle against myself so that I will be safe on the Day of Judgment.”(4)
Purification will not happen without struggle. The biggest part of the road to purification is thought and
action. I will briefly explain this. The biggest step, as mentioned in the Holy Qurān, is thought. The Qurān has ordered us in different verses to ponder upon different subjects. One must think about where he came from, where he is and where he's going and why.
First, we were all drops of water, and then Allah ordered us to be created.(1) One would understand many things if he ponders upon this. One can understand the glory of his body and the amazing relations between the different parts of the body. Allah created different parts of the body from this one drop of water. For example, one's eyes, ears, liver and heart. The liver does many things. Blood is always traveling through our veins. This is one thought where one can understand Allah as well as the fact that one is a servant of His. Allah's strength is unlimited; He is able to do all things. This thought is part of our fundamental beliefs.
Everybody was a drop of sperm that did not have any knowledge or ability. There was no 'I'. If it was left that way, even for a hundred years, we would not have come into existence. The Question comes up, what is this 'I'? The thought that one has power which comes from seeing one's existence, one's eyes, ears, tongue and so forth, must be corrected.
One must understand that this power belongs to someone else; the one who created this body and allowed it to move. One stops
saying 'I' when he understands this reality. One would no longer consider himself better than others, take pride in his self or seek popularity when he understands this reality. The beginning and end of two people are the same. Between the two ends, no one is able to help or hurt his own self.(1) Who is able to stop old age?
One who sees power in himself forgets his beginning and his end. He is the one who says 'I'.
One should not be humble in front of anyone except Allah. One should only prostrate in front of Allah. Everybody is a servant of Allah and needs Allah to the same degree. The Qurān says that man needs Allah but Allah does not need anyone.(2) No group of people is better than another; the only thing that makes somebody better is piety. It is unreasonable for one person to follow another or to be the slave of another.
Imām ‛Alī (a) said in the Nahj al-Balāghah: “Verily, piety frees one from every kind of slavery.”
Whoever walks on the road of piety is free, while those who are not pious must lower themselves to get what they want. As Shaykh Bahā'ī (r) said: “If the curtain was removed, we would see that they are dogs prostrating in front of dogs.”
One's life is his own when he does not have to perform low actions in order to breathe. This is just like the Messenger of Allah's (S) statement: “My life is yours and my death
is yours.” The people who are not lowered by possessions, positions or popularity are free. Do not become the slave of anything. Only lower your head to one thing: Allah.
Purifying one's self is freeing one's self of his evil desires. No subject has been emphasized as much as this in the Holy Qurān. Allah, in Surah Shams, swears 14/ times that those who are pious will receive bliss. Allah swears by 14 grand objects that he created that only those who purify themselves will reach salvation. He would be successful in this world and the next. Woe be to the one who did not work on himself, who followed his carnal desires to such a point that it is now impossible to improve himself.
So, we must try and work on ourselves. We must give importance to becoming real human beings. We must loosen the shackles of slavery from our feet. The summary of this lecture is that we should think about the creation of our bodies so that we will become aware of Allah's knowledge and strength as well as become more humble.
فَلْیَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
Now let man but think from what he is created!
خُلِقَ مِن مَّاء دَافِقٍ
He is created from a drop emitted-
یَخْرُجُ مِن بَیْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ
Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs(1)22
The previous lecture was about the importance of thought. There is a purpose behind every strength or ability that Allah gives us. Man must use these strengths and abilities or else he will prevent
himself from achieving their blessings. The power of thought is the best ability and the best blessing that Allah gave man. This power is what separates man from animal. In the Qurān it says that man is respected.(1) This respect comes from the power of thought. Man will reach the high status that he was created for if he uses this power, but if he refrains from using it he will become lower than animals.
The Qurān answers the question about why some people go to Hell from the tongue of those who are in the Hellfire. They said: “If we listened to the warnings and used our power of thought we would not be in the Hellfire.”(2)
Man must think about what he was created from so that he can understand his God. He will see the great power of creation when he realizes that he was only a drop of water which changed into a blood clot which changed into bones and flesh and then his spirit was blown into him. One must ask the following questions when he grows up and is able to use his intellect: what was I and what have I become?
The first thought: Is it possible for something to come into existence by itself? Everything that has been created has a creator.
The late Sayyid Ibn Tāūs writes in the book Kashf al-Mahajja: “The thought that every thing that has been created has a creator is in man’s divine disposition (fitrat). From the days where he
is able to use his power of thought he knows that every effect has a cause.”
We will use a two-year-old baby as an example for this. Suppose a baby is sitting down and does not know that you are behind him, then you drop a toy over his shoulder. Before the baby takes the toy he will look behind him at the person who put it there. He does this because he knows that there was nothing there and now something appeared and nothing can appear without a cause.
This is one of the self-evident truths. So, every thing that has been created has a creator. The characteristics of this creator can be found in what he created. It is clear that the creator is extremely wise and intelligent if his creation has knowledge and wisdom. The creator must also be extremely powerful.
Would someone accept that a watch came into existence by itself? Would someone accept that an animal made a watch? It is clear that the person who invented a watch, who made the little and big parts of the watch run together in unison, must have had enough knowledge and power for the task.
The creator, being knowledgeable and wise, becomes evident when one looks at creation. If one seriously looks at his body he will see that there is not one extra vein or organ in it. Everything has a purpose.
To make an example, we will allude to a part of the body that is normally overlooked. One of
these parts is the fingernail. The fingernail, like hair and feces, is made from the excess of food that one eats. What is the purpose behind this? Why is the fingernail hard? Many uses for the fingernail have been discovered. The fingernail is something that the tip of the finger can lean against. As you know, man uses his hands a lot.
Sometimes he picks heavy things up with them, and because of that, the finger needs something to lean against in order to relieve some of the pressure of the heavy thing. Man would not be able to lift heavy things if the fingernail was not there and the finger did not have anything to lean against. When one does not have a fingernail he feels pain when he tries to lift up something heavy. What an amazing part of the body this fingernail is!
Is the Creator unaware of this body? Is he physical? Would the mind accept this?
Some say that Allah has not seen the places that we have gone. One must use his mind and think about the degree of his eyesight. Eyes are a body part that is common between all animals. These eyes have the ability to see big things but cannot see small things. It cannot even see air. So how can one so easily dismiss something that he has not seen? Air, which is physical but very small, is invisible for mankind. But, one accepts it, because he feels it and he breathes it.
Sometime one is unable to see the water in a glass. In short, there are conditions for one to be able to see something. Is one unable to deny the existence of electricity?
The concept of resurrection is accepted after one uses this faculty of thought. Is it possible for one to create this amazing body without a purpose?
What is all this wisdom and knowledge that has been given to man for? Was man created to live on earth for a couple of days, eat, sleep, produce babies, satisfy his desires and die? This would be pointless. The Qurān says:
“Did you think that we created you in vain and that you will not return to us?”(1)
The creation of man would be in vain if the Day of Judgment did not exist. Man would have been created to eat in order to defecate and defecate in order to eat. This is a never ending circle which is illogical.
One would be able to figure out that there has to be another world; the world that man was created for. One would be able to figure this out without using the help of Prophets and revelation. One would understand that this world is not the principal dwelling place of man. One would realize that there has to be another world, a world without the difficulties, discomforts, diseases and evil found here, a world full of pleasure and success. This world is the dwelling place for animals, but the next world is the
dwelling place for man.
They ask: “How is it possible for man to be given life and raised after he has died and been decomposed?” The answer is in the verse: “Verily He is able to bring him back.” Allah is definitely able to bring them back; He just has to create them again.
Whatever is found in this earth is an example of Allah's power and strength. Allah says in chapter Hijr, verse 21:
“There is not a thing but its (sources and) treasures are with Us; but We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures.”
Some of the bounties that Allah will give can be found, to a small degree, on the earth. For example, one of Allah's bounties is a beautiful fragrance. Some fragrances, like flowers and perfumes, can be found on earth. The best fragrance was that of Prophet Muhammad (S), because he is heaven.
The fragrances of the world are limited and will not overstep their bounds. They are limited in the fragrance itself as well as the duration of the fragrance. But, the fragrances of heaven, according to a tradition from Imām Sādiq (a) last for one thousand years. Also, there are traditions that say that one who severs relations with his family will not even be able to even smell the fragrance of heaven.
Allah will give his eternal blessings to the pious.(1) The conditions for receiving these blessings are being unattached to this world and refraining from following carnal desires.2 On the Day of Judgment, people
will have the form of their insides, not their outside appearance that they have in this world. Man is an amazing creature because he has a part of every other creature; he can become any other creature. Man can become a predator like a wolf or leopard. Man can become a farm animal like a sheep. Man can also become a pig or a fox. On the other side, the good actions of angels can be seen in man. Man can become whatever he wants while he is in this world.
If the purpose of life was to fill one's stomach, becoming like a sheep would be enough. If the purpose of life was following one's base desires, becoming like a pig would be enough. If the purpose of life was obtaining power, becoming like an arrogant leopard would be enough. If one climbs a certain leopard's mountain it will attack him in such a way that he would never try to climb that mountain again. But, there is no danger in being below a leopard that is full. A person who is after power is ready to commit any atrocity to his rivals in order to get ahead.
In short, there is an example of every form of existence in man. One may reach salvation if he controls himself, does not try and push himself in the front, and is not after satisfying his carnal desires.
Greed is found in some animals, especially the ant. A greedy person becomes lower than an
ant or mouse. This trait causes one to commit atrocities, to be unjust and to sell things for way more than they are worth. They think that they will be able to keep their wealth.(1)
There are others who walk the road of the angels. They become true human beings. How easy it is to be an animal and how hard is it to be a human! Sometimes man serves others and forgets that he was sperm and will become a decomposed dead body.
Have you heard that Imām ‛Alī (a) went to the marketplace and bought two shirts with Qanbar? Imām ‛Alī (a) gave the better shirt to his servant Qanbar. Qanbar said: “But, you're my master and the leader (khalīfa) of the Muslims?”
Imām ‛Alī (a) said: “I would become shy in front of Allah if I placed myself above you.”
‛Alī (a) was created and Qanbar was created as well. If ‛Alī's (a) station is higher than Qanbar it is only because Allah gave it to him, but, in regards to being created, they are the same. The Shī‛a must use these kinds of examples to show ‛Alī's greatness. One should not consider himself higher or better than another. One should not sit comfortably while someone else is serving him; instead one should serve others.
The following has been related by some trustworthy people in Najaf by one of students of the late mujtahid Akhūnd Mullā Husaynqulī. When the student met his teacher, Mullā Husaynqulī asked him what he did the previous
night. The student said: “Nothing.”
Mullā Husaynqulī said: “What did you do in the middle of the night?”
The student said: “I did not do anything; I was sleeping.”
Mullā Husaynqulī: “This can't be; tell me everything from the beginning of the night.”
The student said: “Last night I had some guests who came here from Karbala to visit Imām ‛Alī's (a) shrine. My room was small and we all slept there after dinner. In the middle of the night I felt something heavy on my chest and woke up in discomfort. I saw that one of these travelers was in a deep sleep with his foot on my chest. I wanted to move his foot, but then I thought that he is on a zīyārat trip and is also a scholar. The Prophet (S) also said that we must be respectful and generous to our guests. I bore this difficulty until he moved his leg himself.
Mullā Husaynqulī said: “That is it. I can see the gleam in your face from this action last night. You did not have this light before, did you think what you did was small?”
A real man wants others to be comfortable and does not seek comfort for himself. He tries to lessen other people's struggles and difficulties instead of making difficulties for others. He tries to give other people honor, not take honor away from people. He tries to fill people's stomachs, not eat people’s bread. Man can have the characteristics of angels or animals. An animal does
not want to serve others while an angel's job is serving humanity.
In short, how have you built yourself? Look at yourself. Have you become a wolf? A fox? If you have you will be this in the next world. If you have become an angel you will be one in the next world as well. Your place will not be heaven until you acquire the traits of an angel.
Have you heard that two angels come and interrogate the dead person on the first night, after he is buried? The popular opinion is that their names will be Nakīr and Munkar. These two words come from the Arabic root meaning something distasteful or something that will cause harm and unhappiness. Who are Nakīr and Munkar sent for? They are sent for people who have died before they purified themselves. But, Nakīr and Munkar are not sent for the pious, instead Bashīr and Mubashir, the givers of glad tidings, are sent.
In one of the supplications of the month of Rajab we say: “O' Allah do not send Nakīr and Munkar to me on the first night in my grave; instead send Bashīr and Mubashshir.” So, the two angels that come to the believer's grave are Bashīr and Mubashshir and the two angels that come to the unbeliever's grave are Nakīr and Munkar.
Imām Khomeini repeated the following a few times this past week. He said that university students must be polished. The seminary students must also be polished, because if
they are not polished they would be dangerous and corrupt. If they do not become polished they will not benefit the society at all. The unpolished doctor, engineer or mujtahid is not only corrupt, but he makes others corrupt as well.
The religion and laws that all of the prophets brought down is for man. The Qurān wants man to purify himself; to know himself and his evil traits. Then it wants man to correct them.
Polishing one's self means purifying one's self. What should a person purify himself from? He should purify himself from animalistic characteristics, from animalistic habits. When he becomes purified from these characteristics he understands that he is nothing more than his soul as well as that he was made for another world. He must travel to the next world. He will feel a responsibility to remain pious.
As long as one has animalistic characteristics he will consider himself to be an animal. In reality he is like an animal. Greed, stinginess, hypocrisy, anger, and seeking power are some of the animalistic characteristics. It is impossible for one, with these characteristics, to know himself and know that he is made for another world. For example, the materialists and communists consider themselves to be one with the animals. They think that the end of life is death.
People say, with certainty, that man must be free just like animals. How little knowledge they have about themselves that they consider themselves one with the animals! Quadrupeds were created for man.(1) Everything on
this earth was created for man.(1) Man's station of existence is higher than that of material things. Everything was created for man and man was created for Allah.
One must be certain that he is something other than this material body in order to purify himself. How would one be able to realize his faults and their cures if he does not know this? For this reason we will discuss the immateriality of the soul.
The soul is what feels; flesh, skin, veins, bones and organs are created for the soul. The eye, ear and tongue are means for the soul to see, hear and speak. Nothing comes from them by themselves. If they acted independently, why doesn't a dead body feel anything? The tongue is unable to speak. If it was able to speak a donkey or camel has a tongue twice the size of our tongue - they should be able to talk more than us. So, the tongue is nothing more than a tool, it does not have power in and of itself.
It is the soul that sees, hears and speaks. It is the soul that smells. These organs are just a means for the soul.
Man must know that this 'I' is in the body, not the body itself, because material things do not have knowledge. Leaves of a tree are unaware of other leaves. A finger is unaware of other fingers. But, 'I' is aware of everything from his head to his toe. I will quickly know who
I am if a needle goes into the bottom of my foot or a person touches my body. 'I' controls the body, so it is not the body itself.
Allah created man with the ability to do anything; even walk on the moon or know exactly where the moon will be on any given day, hour, minute or second. These are proofs of man's immaterial soul.
Dirt is unaware of everything. It is impossible for material items to obtain knowledge. So, man is something above materialism, something that is able to understand everything. So the term 'I' is man's essence, not his body. The body dies, but the soul doesn't. The soul is immortal, it has been created to live for ever, not to die.
Death is when the body and soul become separated, not when the soul dies. Death is like getting down from one's horse. Imām ‛Alī (a) said that when one dies he changes his dirty material clothes for nice immaterial clothes. It is like a bird that was in his cage; when his cage is finally opened and he flies out.
Communists have strangled themselves and anyone who accepts their ideology. Whoever considers himself to be an animal has misunderstood his responsibilities. He will become polluted with every carnal desire, and in reality, will become an animal. This is because they have forgotten Allah and, as a result of that, they have forgotten themselves.(1) They must find themselves, review themselves, and get rid of their bad habits. One will not
become a human until he leaves his animalistic nature.
I received many written questions last week. For example: What age will we be when we are raised on the Day of Judgment? Will we be raised with the same form that we have now? Is it just that one's old body be punished for a sin that one committed in one’s youth? The answers to the first questions are as follows:
The Day of Judgment, in itself, is intellectually proved, but the events that will happen on the Day of Judgment remain unknown. The only way to understand what will happen is through revelation and traditions from the Ahl al-Bayt (a). We have received traditions that state that believers will enter heaven at a young age, men at 32 and women at 16. The believers will also stay that age forever because one does not age in the next world.
The answer to the second question, the question about what form we will be raised with, must also be answered through revelation.
The following tradition is related from the Messenger of Allah in the book Tafsīr al-Qummī under the verse,
“You will come forth in crowds on the day that the trumpet is blown.”(1)
People asked the Prophet (S) if this verse refers to the Muslims or the unbelievers and the Prophet (S) answered: “It is in reference to the Muslims. They will be raised in ten groups, some will look like monkeys, some like pigs, some will be upside down, some will be blind, some
will have puss falling off of their tongue…”(1). Another group will be raised with faces that are gleaming more than a full moon; they will be like angels leading all of the other groups.
He (S) said regarding the women of heaven: “The relationship between the heavenly women and the hur al-‛ayn is like the relationship between the hur al-‛ayn and other women.”(2)
As a summary, everyone will be raised according to their nature. One will be raised up more beautiful than the angels if he obtained these characteristics on earth, but, if he was like a predator he will be raised up in such a condition that pigs will look beautiful next to him. He will hate his appearance so much that he will wish to be thrown into hell so that others will not see him in this state. How bad it is that hell will be his place of refuge!
We will now answer the third question which was: is it just for one's old body to be punished for a sin that one committed while in one’s youth?
The answer should be clear to those who paid attention to what I have said. One's flesh and skin is a tool for one's soul. 'I' commit a sin and 'I' must be punished, the soul must be punished. 'I' is the same in old age as it is in young age. A soul whose body is a hundred years old is the same soul who had a twenty-year-old body. It is
the same if he committed a sin when he was twenty or a hundred. Allah punishes the soul not the flesh and skin, because it is the soul who wanted to commit the sin.
One of the things that one must know about resurrection is that the punishment in the next world is different that the punishment of this world. The punishment of the hereafter is incomparable to punishments like prison or taking off one's fingernails. In the next world, one's bad actions come to life and man is engrossed in fire. We are unable to picture exactly what the punishment will be like, but we should know that it is unlike anything in this world.
Another question that was asked was: is there perfection in this world or not? Can a person who dies or becomes a martyr have knowledge about what is going on in the world?
The answer to the first part is that whatever man becomes in this world is what he will become. Death closes the folder of one's actions. The Prophet of Islam (S) said: “The Earth is the farmland for the hereafter.” As long as man is on earth there is time to plant seeds. The time for harvest is when he dies. He will see whatever he has done in the next life. If what is meant by perfection is that he will receive the reward of something that he did not do, it is incorrect.
Of course intercession and generosity have their own places,
but one should not expect the reward of a prayer that he did not perform, the reward of charity that he did not give or the reward of good actions that he did not perform. One should ask Allah to give him the rewards of what one has done.
One can ask those who ask Allah for mercy if they were merciful themselves. Is mercy good or bad? If it is good, why don't you show mercy? Man should expect Allah to treat him the same way he treats others.
One can ask those who ask Allah to forgive them - how many people have you forgiven? Many people do not forgive those that they fight with, but expect Allah to forgive them. The Qurān says that you should forgive each other; don't you want Allah to forgive you?(1)
Sayyid Ibn Tāūs wrote in his book Al-Iqbāl that Imām Sajjād (a) gathered his servants on ‛Īd al-Fitr. The Imām wrote down all of the bad things that his servants did in the year and on this day said to them: I forgive you for all of the bad actions that you performed in this year. You are also free from this day forward. Tell Allah; '‛Alī ibn al-Husayn forgave us, so forgive him as well. He also freed us, so free him from the tortures of Hell.”
Compare what reality is to what we think it is. We should show a little bit of what we want from Allah. If we want Allah to
forgive us we should forgive others. Allah is the Most merciful; are you willing to show mercy or do you want to take revenge? If you want revenge, then why do you ask Allah for mercy?
فَلْیَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
Now let man but think from what he is created!
خُلِقَ مِن مَّاء دَافِقٍ
He is created from a drop emitted-
یَخْرُجُ مِن بَیْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ
Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs (1)
It was said in the previous lecture that Allah ordered man to think about his beginning. One must think that he was made from sperm, a substance that everyone hates. It is said that there are 34 bones in one's hand and if one of those bones was not there man would fall into many difficulties. Each finger has three parts so that one can make a fist, pick things up, and open and close his hands.
One would see wisdom if he carefully looked at his body. He would see that no part has been created in vain. There are not any extra veins or bones. If one thinks that there is a part of his body that was created in vain, he must realize that his thought has a problem.
What does choice mean? A person who has intellectual capabilities chooses the better of two choices. The chooser must have an intellect, knowledge and understanding to be able to choose the better option. If nature does not have an intellect, what does choice mean? Does sperm have a brain which
enables it to make a body?
Pay attention to your eyelids. The upper eyelids curl upwards and the lower eyelids curl downwards. In this way they become pairs. If it was not like this they would not pair up; instead they would clump up together and would not be able to protect the eye from dust.
Many research reports have been written and will be written about how many of the wisdoms found in the body are left unknown, but might be found out in the future. Likewise, we understand many things that the people of the past did not understand.
One's hearing faculty is comprised of three million cells, and if some of them are missing one will become deaf. One of my family members was deaf and went to the doctor. The doctor said that the reason he can not hear is that he is missing 16,000 of the three million cells necessary to hear.
It is really amazing to look at one's creation and see what happened.
Two of the names of Allah are All-wise and All-knowledgeable. Look at the complete wisdom and knowledge of Allah's actions that can be found in the body.
Ibn Sīnā made an interesting remark. He said: “Man becomes astonished at a magnet that picks up a little bit of metal, but does not become astonished at the fact that his intellect picks up and moves his heavy body with ease.” This is the same body that a few people struggle to move after death. What kind of
ability is this that one can move just by having the desire to do so? Where does this ability come from? What great abilities Allah gave to the soul!
One must continue thinking like this. Study the wonders of the body. Ponder upon them and then say: “Glory be to Allah, the Best creator.”
When man understands these things, his intellect tells him to be humble in front of such a Creator.
Great men have correctly stated that man is the slave of goodness. It is his nature to like and be humble in front of people who treat him kindly. If one thinks about the abundant favors from Allah, if one realizes that blessings from other than Allah do not exist, one will become humble in front of the truth.
A few years ago my ears got clogged up and I couldn't hear anything for a few days. I was forced to go to a doctor and he cleaned my ears for me. An hour after my ears were cleaned I heard a sound. I became so happy and said: “O' Allah! What a great blessing you have given me but I was unaware of it.” Man is like this, he does not know the greatness of a blessing until it is taken away from him. I hope that you will not wait for a blessing to be taken away from you for you to understand its greatness.
The greatness of one's ability to speak becomes clear if it is taken away. We should
praise Allah with this ability, we should say: “Allah is the greatest.” Do not ever forget Allah. Allah gave so many blessings, internal blessings, external blessings, material blessings and spiritual blessings. He created the earth, skies and stars for mankind.
It has been heard that some say that Allah does not need our worship or thanks. This is true, but you are in need of it. Whatever man does is for himself.(1) He receives the results of his actions, be they good or be they bad. If one thanks Allah he will become higher than the angels and will receive a lofty reward from Allah. But, it is to your own loss if you do not thank Allah. At the end, Allah knows where there is hope; he helps everyone reach the goal which is being in the presence of Allah (liqā' Allah).
فَلْیَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
Now let man but think from what he is created!
خُلِقَ مِن مَّاء دَافِقٍ
He is created from a drop emitted-
یَخْرُجُ مِن بَیْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ
Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs (2)
Two principle Islamic beliefs are the creation and the resurrection. It is obligatory for man to know about his creation and Creator, then to know about his end and return.
These two verses tell man to think about his creation. It is clear that man must look into his creation so he can understand his Creator and his end. What an amazing structure was created out of a drop of water; a structure that from
its head to toe is full of wisdom, in such a way that even one vein was not created without purpose. An extra bone was not created. What one can understand from this body is that Allah is All-powerful and there is no limit to His ability. He created this amazing body, a body that has been researched for thousands of years, but still not completely understood, in triple darkness from a drop of water.
Is the One who created unaware?(1) Was the One who created in such a way that there is no atom that does not have a purpose, unintelligent? Communists, who reject the concept of God and the higher world, claim that whatever exists is the result of the perfection of nature. What do they say about all the wisdom that is found all over the world? Is it possible that an unwise being created it? They say that material is unintelligent; how does this fit? It is a contradiction. From one side they say that material objects and nature do not have intelligence and on the other side they say 'nature's choice.' Choosing is an action that depends on intelligence.
Or some say that man was originally a monkey perfected by nature. They say that the monkey loosed its tail and hair and stood up straight. If this is true there should not be any more monkeys on earth. How did one monkey become a human while the rest remained monkeys? If it is nature that perfects itself,
what is the difference between the monkeys that remained monkeys and the monkeys that became human? Is it that one monkey became perfected and another did not become perfected?
It is clear that they are not willing to accept the truth. They do not want to sincerely use their abilities to find the truth out. They reject clear truths so that they won't be called 'religious.'
Does man have an intellect or not? Every man knows that he has an intellect. Was the One who built you unintelligent? Every man was a drop of sperm; did a material object give him his intellect?
Did a drop of sperm or another material object give you your intellect? Is it possible for someone to claim this? There is no other choice except to say that the Creator, All-knowledgeable and Living, gave me my intellect. Just like the body is a creation, it came from nothing into existence; the intellect is a creation that came from nothing into existence. Someone had to have given man his intellect. Where did this intellect come from? Is it possible to say that a material object made it or it was 'nature's best choice'? Does your intellect accept this? The intellect that man has is able to find new galaxies and new stars. This is even a proof that one's spirit is immaterial.
What is this man who can learn about everything in the world? What power gives us the ability to know about our insides and how they work? This
is one of the biggest proofs that the soul is immaterial. A leaf of a tree is unaware of other leaves. A finger is unaware of other fingers. Each atom of one's body is unaware of other atoms. It becomes clear that man is something other than his body, there is a power from his head to his toe. This power is aware of all the different parts of his body. Can someone deny the fact that he has knowledge? Is this knowledge material, was it given to you by a material object or did the one who create you give you this knowledge? Man's intellect is the biggest proof that he is immaterial; his soul is immaterial.
When man thinks about his creation he realizes that he was created by Allah, the All-knowledgeable, the All-powerful. The intellect he uses to think about this is immaterial and he also realizes that Allah is able to create this body again.
The body in the next world is different from the body in this world. For example, there is no waste or defecation in heaven. There is no urine, feces, hair or fingernails. In addition to this, the body does not become tired due to working in the next life. There are no sicknesses. The body in the next life is the same body as we have here, but its make-up is in such a way that the necessary wastes of a material body are not there. Right now we are unable to imagine
this perfectly because these wastes and defecations are necessary parts of material beings.
People have made a similitude for this. No matter how much you would try to make a fetus understand that outside of its mother's stomach is a huge world full of fruit, food, plants and animals he would not understand. Man is the same way when he is in the stomach of the natural world in relation to the unnatural world. However much one wants to make man understand about the different attractions of the next world he will not understand.
The Qurān said:
“No one knows what has been kept hidden for them of comfort (in the hereafter) as a reward for what they used to do.”(1)
We will now discuss some verses related to the Resurrection.
Those who reject the hereafter only say that it is impossible; they do not have any proof. In the same way that they reject the creation, they raise the question: how can Allah bring dead bones back to life?
The biggest proof for the resurrection is the verse: “Verily, Allah is able to bring him back”(2) One who was able to create the body out of a drop of sperm can create it out of a handful of dirt as well. The Qurān even says that it is easier for him to do that. Bringing back to life is easier than creating from scratch. Another nice point has been made in chapter Qiyāmat:
“We are able to make man's fingerprints.”(3)
Tantāwī, an Egyptian Qurānic scholar wrote that
the point of the previous verse was unknown until the modern century. He claims that it is one of the miracles of the Qurān. Previously people did not pay attention to the fact that every person has a special fingerprint. Four and a half billion people have different fingerprints. Because of this, people must give their fingerprints as a signature and there are places that catch criminals by finding their fingerprints.
No two people have the exact same face. Even twins have small differences. Similarly, no two voices are exactly the same. What atrocities would happen if they were the same? The order of the world would be destroyed. There would not be a social life because nobody would be able to differentiate between two people. Here we can see that the wise Creator made a wise decision in this regard.
The creation and the resurrection are necessary beliefs, evident beliefs and in accordance with one's intellect and divine disposition.
People wrote; when Stalin would be faced with a difficult situation, which was not solved by consultation, he would visit Lenin's grave. He would stay there until his problem was solved. This materialist's conscience did not believe that Lenin's soul was dead. If he did, why would he go to Lenin's grave? Why would he ask help from Lenin? Why do others build monuments over the graves of unknown soldiers and then respect them? Their consciences testify to the fact that there is a God and that there is life after death. If
revelation did not exist, this is what man's conscience or divine disposition would do.
The problem is this: if this is so clear why does most of mankind reject it?
The answer to this question is found in chapter Qiyāmat:
“Rather man desires to go on living viciously.”(1)
For this reason they overlook every truth. If one wants to enjoy power he must overlook his responsibilities. If he does not do this he will realize that he is a servant of Allah and has responsibilities that he must fulfill. After he realizes this, would he continue to say 'I..I..I'? Arrogance and tawhīd are opposites; they cannot come together.
One who considers himself a needy servant of Allah will not be arrogant or after power. He will not want to be above others. For this reason, those who follow their carnal desires close their eyes to all forms of truth, even if it is a self-evident truth.
It is said that someone asked Mamūn how he came to like Imām Ridā (a). He said that he learned this from his father. He was with his father in Medina and important people came to see him. He said: “One day a person came in and my father stood up and sat that man down next to him and spoke to him with the highest form of manners. That night, I asked my father who that man was that you were so humble in front of and he replied that it was Mūsa bin Ja‛far (a). I then asked
who Mūsa bin Ja‛far was and he replied that he is my Imām and your Imām. I then asked; 'You are not the rightful possessor of the khilāfat? My father replied; 'No, he is the rightful khalīfa.”
I then angrily told my father: “If this is the case why do you want to imprison and exile him?”
He said: “Power does not even know a son. If he was a problem I would kill him or take his son's eyes out like other kings have done.”
The purpose of this story is to show how bad man can be, he can put the truth to the side even if it is as clear as the sun.
We should not forget that last year, when Imām Khomeini wanted to swear in the new president he said: “The love of the world is the root of all sins.”
This is a warning bell for everyone. Love of the world is such a trait that when one has it he is willing to overlook all truths and willing to unlawfully get rid of all adversaries. This arrogance and narcissism is dangerous. So, now it is clear why so many reject the truth even if it is so clear.
هُوَ الَّذِی بَعَثَ فِی الْأُمِّیِّینَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ یَتْلُو عَلَیْهِمْ آیَاتِهِ وَیُزَکِّیهِمْ وَیُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْکِتَابَ وَالْحِکْمَهَ وَإِن کَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِی ضَلَالٍ مُّبِینٍ
It is He who has sent amongst the unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in scripture
and Wisdom, although they had been in manifest error.(1)
One should know what the carnal desires are and then stay away from them. One should also know what the human characteristics are and acquire them. One must act as well as learn. First, one must learn how to escape from his low self and obtain human characteristics, and then he must put what he learned into action. He should not satisfy himself with knowledge alone.
The bad nature of animals does not come from its paws or teeth; instead it is from the predatory nature that is found inside of them. This nature is also found in man along with the human and angelic natures as well. Man can become like a dog or wolf or like an angel.
One's nature is nothing but his habits. These habits are not formed spontaneously; instead they are formed by the repetition of actions and words. Someone whose actions are animalistic will eventually become an animal. One's inside is affected when he oppresses others. If he continues to oppress, his inside will turn into a dog. We said that man is different from skin and bones; his reality is his rational soul. Different natures take on different shapes. After time, if one acts and talks in accordance with the divine law, one will become a human.
One will not reach the stage of humanity without struggle. One can only dream that one can rid himself of all the animalistic natures and obtain all the angelic natures without
struggle. Allah has created in such a way that man himself chooses whether he wants to be an animal or a human. One can slowly rid himself of his animalistic nature and try to perform angelic actions so that slowly he can gleam with humanity. If he does this he will be full of blessings and others can benefit from him.
Pay attention to the sentence of Imām ‛Alī (a) found in his sermon to Hamām. He said: “The pious are people whose good one is hopeful of, while they do not commit any bad actions.”(1) People are hopeful of their good while they are safe from their evil. A person who struggles with his self will become a human. The sign of a person like this is that he does not cause man any loss. People are comfortable with him and even expect good from him.
People should not think that one can reach a high spiritual level easily by performing outward forms of worship, like prayer, fasting, or pilgrimage, without having one's heart in it. The way one can become a human is by refraining from strengthening his animalistic nature. One must control one's tongue; if one's tongue is left alone it will become predatory.
I will mention another sentence on this line from the Commander of the faithful (a). He said: “I struggle against myself (nafs). I give my nafs manners. I protect my nafs so that on the Day of Judgment I will be safe.” You, who are the
follower (shī‛a) of Imām ‛Ali (a), must follow him in this.
Today I will explain one of the animalistic qualities so that we can understand it well. Then, we must refrain from using this trait and use a human trait in its place.
Anger becomes an animalistic trait for man when he gets upset at others who are a barrier for him to reach his goals or when something is done against his desires. For example, he was cursed or oppressed and the feeling of revenge comes to his mind. Sometimes his face turns red and the movement of blood in his face becomes apparent. At this time his nafs tells him to get revenge. First, he says something against reality then curses or hits his opponent. In this state, he is unaware of his actions. It is an animalistic state where truth is non-existent. He is able to perform any action in this state, just like an animal. When he becomes angry he does not know anything except revenge. Sometimes he tears his own shirt and hits his own self.
Sometimes he even gets a stroke if his anger reaches an extremely high level and he is unable to get revenge. I have known some people who have got strokes while they were angry. Some of them died and some of them became paralyzed. They were people who performed prayers, but prayer alone can not make one human. One must control his nafs and stop his animalistic nature from growing into a
wolf. A dog or wolf will rip his opponent's skin or flesh off, but an angry man takes away the honor of another man, which is a worse form of oppression.
Suppose one wants to get rid of the animalistic traits. The first step to doing this is controlling one's self when one starts to get angry. Controlling one's self at this stage is easy, but if one does not control his self at the beginning he will reach a state where he will be uncontrollable. You are young, just at the beginning of your Islamic life. Animalistic traits have yet to take form in you. You can shape yourself with ease. You can refrain from answering someone who swears at you. With a little practice, this is easy for you.
You have heard that Mālik Ashtar was the commander of Imām ‛Alī's (a) army. Imām ‛Alī (a) said: “Mālik Ashtar was with me like I was with the Messenger of Allah (S).” He was the leader of the Kandeh tribe and the commander of the Islamic army. One day he went to Kufa's marketplace and was looking to buy a shirt. A young man, who did not know Mālik, wanted to make fun of him and threw a handful of dirt at him.
Mālik did not say anything to him and left. Some people asked the young man: “Do you know who that was?”
He said: “No.”
They told him: “That was Mālik Ashtar.”
They young man became frightened and upset. He went after Mālik.
Some people told him that Mālik entered the mosque and the young man also went inside to see that Mālik was praying. When his prayer finished the young man kneeled in front of Mālik and said: “I did not know who you were. I made a mistake, forgive me.”
Mālik replied: “I forgave you at the same time that you threw dirt at me. Now, I have come to this mosque to pray for you so that Allah will forgive you as well.”
Mālik was a true follower (shī‛a) of ‛Alī (a). Can we call ourselves shī‛a? What have we done to be called a shī‛a of ‛Alī (a)? A shī‛a controls his anger; he does not hit someone with a rock after being hit by a piece of dirt.
Common people believe that one should answer bad language with bad language or answer a thrown piece of dirt with a rock. These are completely incorrect actions. A predator should not be treated like a predator. If you curse him out you are just like him; so what is the difference between a human and an animal? He cursed because of his animalistic traits, so you should refrain from cursing because of your humane traits. You should even behave with him using good manners.
The late Narāqī wrote in the book Mi‛rāj al-Sa‛ādat: “One does not have the right to swear at someone who swore at him. But, if they do, they will become the example of the Prophet's (S) saying: 'Those who insult
each other will be in the fire.”(1)
Both of the people who curse are condemned, even though the one who started it is a bigger oppressor. But, the one who answers him is also an oppressor. Bad language stems from anger and animalistic qualities.
The late Narāqī continued: “One should remain silent in front of someone who is cursing him or, if he wants to give an answer, he should be careful not to lie, defame, or curse that person. He can call the other person ignorant because in reality he is. If one does this he both answered the person who is cursing him, but did not lie or act in a predatory manner. Who is not ignorant?
If man wants to use human qualities instead of animalistic anger at difficulties he should use patience and forbearance. These are human characteristics. An animal does not know what forbearance is. What difference would there be between us and animals if we, who know what forbearance is, act only according to anger? But if we forbear we will be using a human characteristic.
I said that one cannot reach the level of a human without struggle. Man is at a crossroad, he can either become an animal or a human. There is no compulsion, Allah created man with choice. He gave man a tongue and the power of choice. Man can either use this tongue to curse people, to create problems or to solve problems.
What is meant by forbearance is showing restraint and patience at
difficulties. Whenever one faces a difficulty he should control his tongue, hands and feet.
‛Allāmah Nasir al-Dīn Tūsī wrote that an ignorant person addressed a letter to him using the word 'dog'. Muhaqqiq answered him by saying: You thought that I am a dog? I thought about it, but could not understand how I am similar to a dog. I have two feet, but a dog has four. A dog has sharp teeth that can break bones but my teeth do not work any more. A dog has fur, but I do not. A dog has claws, but I do not.” He answered him in this way, showing forbearance.
Suppose he answered him in this way: “You're the dog, your father and mother are dogs!” The ignorant person would not sit quiet and the situation would become worse.
Some people related a story that would be good to say to change up the speech. They say that there was a shoe maker who was famous for having bad morals and being quick to fight. An unemployed person went to his store the first thing in the morning and, after greeting him, said: “I want something from you. I want you to tell me how it is that you start a dispute? What is it that starts a fight?”
The shoe maker asked: “What kind of a question is this so early in the morning? Are you trying to be funny?”
The unemployed man responded: “No; I'm serious. You must tell me how a fight is
The shoe maker said: “What's wrong with you? Maybe you’re not all there upstairs, how should I know how a fight is started?”
The unemployed man said: “I will not leave you until you answer me.”
The shoe maker responded: “You should be ashamed of your self, you little unemployed man who gets in people's way when they want to work. Let me get to work.” Then after some more words the shoe maker hit the unemployed man on his head with the bottom of a shoe and blood dripped down the his head.
The unemployed man said: “Enough! I understand how a fight starts. One person says something but does not give in; eventually this will lead to a fight.”
At first it is not important, but if continued, bad language will appear and eventually it will turn into a physical fight.
One must fight against one’s self (nafs) until it becomes like a tamed animal who does not step out of bounds. Everyone must fight his nafs so much so that it does not step out of the bounds that Allah has put on man. Once it leaves the border of humanity there is nothing left other than the realm of animals. At the beginning there is a little struggle, but after time it becomes easy. One will become happy when he controls his anger.
One day an important man was in an alley when some dirt from a house fell on to his head. He looked into the sky and thanked Allah, he
said: “O' Allah I thank you because I deserved to be hit by a rock for the punishment of my sins but you threw soft dirt on my head.”
As everyone has read and heard, people would repeatedly throw dirt on the Prophet of Islam (S). Sometimes they would even hit him on the leg with a bone in such a way that blood would drip from his leg. Sometimes they would throw the liver of a camel at his face. But, as an answer, the Prophet (S) would pray: “O' Allah, guide my people for they do not know.” He would forgive them and ask Allah to forgive them as well.
We must follow the way of the Prophet (S), especially we scholars. We must bear the difficulties that we see in society and we must know that it will not remain like this. The people will be guided.
I will end my lecture by reciting a tradition found in Usūl al-Kāfī regarding anger.
One of the leaders of a nomadic Arab tribe met the Prophet (S). When he wanted to go he said: “O' Messenger of Allah! Give me some advice that I can benefit from.”
The Prophet answered him by saying: “Do not become angry.” The Arab man accepted his advice.
When he returned to his tribe he saw that they were in an abnormal condition. He asked what was up from the people who greeted him. They said that blood has been spilt between us and another tribe. They were waiting for
him to start a war.
At the beginning, Arab pride overtook him. He armed himself and went off in the direction of the other tribe. He remembered what the Prophet (S) told him when he faced the other tribe. He remembered that the Prophet told him not to become angry. At that moment he threw his sword down and faced the enemy tribe. When they saw that he was unarmed and walking towards them they dropped their swords and waited to hear what he had to say.
He came close to them and called their leaders. He asked them in a nice voice: “Why are we fighting? Suppose you kill someone in revenge for the person from your tribe who was killed, he still would not come back to life. Come; take this blood money and whatever else you want. If you insist that someone from my tribe must be killed as revenge, you can kill me.”
The enemy tribe, with seeing this leader's unprecedented condition, became humane and without even taking the blood money made a peace contract.
In the last lecture we discussed anger. Anger can bring man to such a state that his angelic face will be turned into the face of a predatory animal. The Qurān says:
“Indeed the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the deaf and the dumb- those who understand not.”(1)
The end of one who continues to walk the path of anger will be worse than a predatory animal. Today we must
make clear which part of anger is animalistic and which part is humane. If a person uses anger in the animalistic way he will lose his angelic shape and turn into a predatory animal, but if he uses anger in the humane way he will become a perfect man, an example of good and full of blessings.
Anger is when one's blood boils when confronted with a difficulty or with something unwanted. If one does not control himself in these situations he will seek revenge.
Of course, man would not be able to live without anger. Anger must be used in the correct way. Man cannot live without anger or lust (shahawat). Man must have lust in him so he will go after food and marriage. Considering all the obstacles in life, how would man be able to live without anger? But, if man uses his anger in the animalistic way it will cause him to fall down from the state of humanity.
What is humane anger and what is animalistic anger?
Animalistic anger is anger which is unlawful, rationally and religiously. Anger and revenge, whenever it is against the intellect or against a religious law, is animalistic. Anger must be used in the correct way. Anger should occur when there is a barrier between him and improvement or perfection. One must become angry when another person wants to oppress him. What is meant by this is that he must not allow the other person to oppress him. I will give an example to
make it clear.
Suppose a person unintentionally hurt you, suppose he fell on you. If you get angry at him, curse him out and try to get revenge, you have used anger in the animalistic way. The person unintentionally hurt you, not intentionally. An animal does not understand intentional and unintentional, whenever something occurs that he does not like, he gets angry. But a human can understand if the other person hit him intentionally or unintentionally.
It is related in the eleventh volume of Bihār al-Anwār that Imām Sajjād (a) had guests over at his house. The Imām's servant was bringing a hot kabob on a sharp metal utensil. Suddenly, he accidentally hit the Imām's small child with the utensil and the child died. The servant immediately recited the verse: “..and those who control their anger.” (3:134)
Imām said: “I have controlled my anger.” Then he (a) read the next section of the verse: “..and those who forgive the people.” He continued: “I have also forgiven you.” Then he read the rest of the verse: “..and Allah loves the virtuous.” He continued: “I also free you.”
Act in opposition to your nafs. This was a place for forgiving, not anger, because he did not kill the child intentionally.
Sometimes a child accidentally breaks a dish and his mother and father get angry. Sometimes they even hit the child. This is a mistake. The child was playing; he did not want to break the dish.
These are examples of the principle: do not get angry when the
other person did something unintentional. If one gets angry, it is anger without reason. Most of the time when people get angry it is without reason. There are some people who get angry with someone after hearing something about him from another person. But most of the time these stories are false.
Another reason that people become angry in the wrong way is when others act in opposition to their expectations. For example; suppose a person expects his friend to loan him 100 dollars. When he asks his friend, his friend refuses and does not give him the money. Here, the person gets angry at his friend and his anger remains in his heart. This is dangerous.
It has been related that Imām Sādiq (a) told his followers not to ask people for things unless it is necessary. The reason for this is clear, when one asks for something and does not get it, he becomes upset. His being upset turns into anger. But, we must think positively of the person who did not give whatever was asked for. Maybe he did not have what was asked for. Maybe he needed what was asked for. Did he owe it to me? Was it obligatory for him to give it to me?
Someone asked Imām Sajjād (a): “What strengthens faith and what weakens it?”
The Imām (a) answered: “Piety (wara‛) strengthens one's faith and covetousness weakens one's faith.”(1)
Man expects someone else to come and help him. He must loan me money. He must fix
The person who believes in the oneness of Allah (tawhīd) should know that Allah is the only One who solves his problems. The means that Allah allows to exist will only work to the extent that Allah allows. One's problem would not be able to be solved if Allah does not want it to be solved. A person who believes in the oneness of Allah is one who knows that all good is from Allah and one who knows that the creations of Allah are just means for obtaining that good. Suppose one went to a creature of Allah and expected that creature to solve his problem. This is a form of polytheism. If I am a Muslim and one who believes in the oneness of Allah, I must be like this: “O' Allah I am going to this person, but my hope is with you. Solve my problem by means of this person.”
The sign of a person who really believes in the oneness of Allah is not getting angry when his problem remains unsolved. He says that Allah did not want it. It was not in my best interest. But, if the problem gets solved he thanks Allah and says: “My Lord! You have blessed me. You solved my problem at the hands of so and so.” Of course there is no problem in thanking that person as well because the person who does not thank the creature will not thank the Creator.(1)
Similar to what was
mentioned before, this is an example of Allah's favor. So, it is necessary to thank the means that Allah made for fixing one's problem, not thanking the means independently; for that would be a form of polytheism.
Man becomes angry when he has an expectation from someone, but that person does not live up to his expectations. From the beginning, one must know that it is not in the other person's hands. If Allah wanted the problem to be solved he would have solved it through him or another person. One will never have this unwarranted anger if he thinks like this, because he will not have any kind of expectation.
One must become angry at oppressors. For example, one must be angry at the cursed Saddam Hussein who crossed the boundaries. It would be enough for the entire Muslim world to be angry at him if his only crime was killing the late al-Sadr and his sister, but now his hands are dirty with respect to thousands of Iranian and Iraqi Muslims.
One must also be angry at those who create corruption, those who commit sins openly.
The amount of anger that one has at oppression and sin should be in relation to that form of oppression and sin. Some sins are bigger than others and the level of anger for those sins should be more as well.
For example, these three sins are different, a woman having a little bit of her hair outside of her hijāb, a man drinking alcohol openly and
a man killing an innocent person. The first sin is the smallest sin and the last one is the biggest.
This holds true for seeking revenge as well. For example, you cannot do more than slap one who slaps you or you cannot swear twice at someone who swore at you once. Of course, in any case it is better to forgive. There is a pleasure found in forgiving that is not found in revenge.
It is against religious doctrine to over-retaliate or to cross the line in getting revenge. If one slanders another he must receive the religious punishment (hadd) and if one wrongfully hits another he must pay blood-money (dīyah). For example, suppose someone slapped you and your skin became red, but when you retaliated you slapped him and his skin became black. Here, you must pay the amount of gold specified in the books of jurisprudence under the section of blood-money.
An animal is one who is unorganized in his actions. Animalistic anger is anger that when one seeks revenge he gets whatever kind revenge that he can, even if it is like a predatory wolf that kills his prey.
As a principle, anger is good, but it must be used in the correct way and to the correct extent. One should be angry at oppression and sin and even should seek the correct amount of revenge. The glorious Qurān says the following about this issue:
“..Should anyone aggress against you, assail him in the manner he assailed you.”(1)49
You cannot afflict
more aggression. First one must know to what level he has been oppressed, then he must be careful not to step over the line in retaliation.
For this reason there is no characteristic of a believer in the Qurān that says he must not ever show anger.
Ibn Fahd Hillī said: “Suppose there are two people who are angry and you want to know if they are believers or not. Tell one of them: 'Because of Allah, forget about it.' If he is an unbeliever he will not pay attention to you. But, if you put some money in his hand and say calm down, he will calm down.”
Most people are examples of the verse: “They are stuck to the material life and belongings and are not interested in the hereafter.”
Shaykh Bahā'ī said: “Scholars must not forget this verse; “This is the abode of the Hereafter which We shall grant to those who do not desire to domineer in the earth..”(1)
The world is not important for him. How do they obtain this level of spirituality? An important point about this verse is that it said 'those who do not desire’ not 'those who do not go after.' In their hearts they do not want superiority; they do not want to become famous, because the one who wants fame or superiority is ignorant. They have yet to understand the reality of this world. They have not gone after the hereafter. It is self-evident that an ignorant person will not benefit from the next
world’s positions because: “..Are those who know equal to those who do not know?”(1) The scholars are the ones who know, they are the one's who always remember Allah.(2) This world will remain more important than the hereafter to an ignorant person. What expectations do you have from him? A person exists to the extent of his knowledge. How will one who has not stepped out of the realm of animals step into the neighborhood of the Lord of the universe?
The importance or unimportance that one gives to the hereafter becomes clear when one is angry or lustful. One only thinks of his honor in this life or his worldly position when the hereafter is unimportant for him.
It should not be left unsaid that Islamic punishment can only be carried out in a courtroom from the ruling of an Islamic judge. If this was not the case there would be mayhem and anarchy. For this reason it is unlawful for one to take revenge from someone who oppressed him without a judge's consent. He must go to an Islamic court or an Islamic jurist to get his right.
Lust and anger are two traits, two powers that Allah put inside man. The continuation of mankind is dependent on these two traits. Lust is used to attract benefits and anger is used to keep away loss. If one did not have any lust or desire he would not go after the things that his body needs. One would
not eat if he did not have a desire for food, and when he does not eat he would die. So, it is a blessing that one has this desire for food that forces him to struggle to obtain something to eat.
Sexual desires are also necessary for the prolongation of human life. Nobody would get married if sexual desires did not exist, because married life has its difficulties and bad times. For this reason there must be a desire, a lust in man for him to marry and have children. So, sexual desires are necessary for the continuation of human life.
The social order of man would become destroyed if man did not get angry, if man was indifferent to his property being stolen, to his life being taken or to the life of his loved one's being taken. That person would not do anything; he would not protect his money or his honor. So, anger is necessary to protect him from all sorts of losses that he would be faced with.
These traits, lust and anger are necessary in this world and are also necessary for the next world. One's religion is also dependent on these two traits. One must choose the middle course in these traits; one must not become, for example, too angry or not angry enough. Both becoming too angry or not angry enough are mistakes.
Determining the middle course is dependant on the intellect and religious decrees. One's intellect, when it has grown enough to be able to
determine right from wrong, and divine laws guide man to finding the middle course.
A man who becomes too angry or too lustful or not angry enough or not lustful enough will be lower than any animal.
The middle course of these two traits is the straight path (sirāt al-mustaqīm).(1) One's state in the hereafter depends on his state in this world. The person who falls off the middle course in this world will fall in the next world as well. Most of the bad things and difficulties that happen in this world are because of man's actions.(2)
One will be healthy if he follows the middle course regarding the desire for food. The middle course in eating is eating the necessary amount and variety of food. The Qurān orders us: “Eat and drink, but do not be excessive.”(3)
The commander of the faithful, Imām ‛Alī (a) also has given an order in this regard. He said that one should not eat until one is hungry and should stop eating before one is full. If one eats when he is full he will get a digestive disease. This is being excessive. On the other side not eating enough is not eating anything for 24 hours. For this reason, it has been commanded for a person who is fasting to eat something at night. For this reason eating something before dawn has become part of the Islamic culture.
The poet S‛adī has wrote a poem in this regards: “Do not eat so much so that food
falls out of your mouth and do not eat so little so that you die of weakness.”
One should not become weak due to lack of eating and one should not eat so much that he would become sick and get digestive diseases. Some have said: “The stomach is the home of all pain.” This was about the amount of food, but about the kinds of food:
Never become accustomed to eating all kinds of different food at once. The more kinds of food that man eats the more health problems he will have. He thinks that he will become stronger from eating these different kinds of foods, but it is the opposite. The different kinds of sweets and fatty foods that one eats bring him closer to getting diabetes and other diseases.
One who is used to eating different kind of foods must also spend a lot of money. For this reason it is possible for him to commit any crime in order to provide his stomach with what it wants. But when one is satisfied with whatever is brought to him, when one does not care to eat different kinds of food he will not commit these crimes; instead he will fight against his nafs.
You have heard how Abu Dharr fought against his personal desires and did not accept Mu‛āwīyah's elaborate dinner invitations or pouches of gold. Instead, he was satisfied with barley bread.
One who is satisfied is honored. He pays attention to what is allowed and what is forbidden.
excessive in eating or not eating enough is when one steps out of the ordinary and necessary amount or varieties of food that the body needs. The middle course is eating the necessary amount and varieties of food that the body needs.
The middle course must be followed in sexual desires; the desire to touch the opposite sex. One should not refrain from marriage because this has been ordered against. The Prophet of Islam (S) said: “Marriage is a good custom (sunnah) and something that I have done. One who does not act according to my customs is not from me.”(1)
Refraining from marriage all together is a form of negligence. Allah gave man sexual desires so that man will procreate. There has been a tradition from the Messenger of Allah (S) regarding this as well. He said: “Get married and have children. Increase in population so I can take pride at your being larger than other communities on the Day of Judgment.”(2)
Being excessive in sexual desires is also a mistake. Suppose one is not able to take care of one woman, he will only cause himself and others pain in getting another wife. Also, different diseases occur when one performs the act excessively. One's life span also becomes shorter when he does this in excess.
The middle course regarding sexual desires must be adhered to. One should marry according to what the divine law says and according to what man's nature says. After marriage, one should perform the act according to his
body's ability. The ability of men's bodies differ; likewise the middle course differs from man to man. For some once a week is the middle course, for some twice a week and for some once every two weeks.
It is necessary for one's soul to make a family. One finds perfection after dealing with the difficulties of marriage and childbearing. As I alluded to before, religious decrees are related to man's nature and instincts. One who acts in excess or refrains from satisfying his desires not only has acting against divine orders but will also suffer spiritual and physical diseases. He will lose the blessings of having a household which will perfect him on a spiritual level.
Anger also has a middle course. The middle course of anger is necessary and man becomes perfected in it.
One must not remain indifferent when his property, loved ones, honor or life is put in danger. It is correct to be angry at these times. As long as one is able, he must not let someone take away the halāl money that he has obtained. The same goes for his honor, life and loved ones.
The Qurān says: “Do not oppress nor be oppressed.”(1) Do not hit someone without reason and do not allow someone to hit you.
A sentence from the Bible has been narrated that I do not believe is from divine revelation. There is no doubt that the Bible and the Torah have been tampered with. They say that Jesus (a) said: “Whenever someone hits
you, turn your cheek so that they could hit the other side as well.”
This is in opposition to justice and man's nature. Do not kill and do not let someone kill you. Do not hit and do not let someone hit you. Do not fight without a cause, but fight if there is a cause.
Suppose someone is indifferent and says: “They came, what's it to me? They left, what's it to me? They were killed, what's it to me?” This person is like what the Commander of faithful (a) said: “A person who does not move to fight against wrong, or at least, does not feel angry in his heart, is like a dead man walking.”
I have previously described what being too angry is and what not being angry enough is. Not being angry enough is being indifferent to someone taking one's property, life, loved ones or honor. Being too angry is becoming angry when one should not become angry or exceeding the limits of anger even when one should be angry. One must refrain from both of these cases. I gave examples of both of these cases in the last lecture. I explained that some of the cases where one should not become angry are due to having false expectations. For example, one expects everyone to stand up and treat him with respect when he enters a room, but when one or two people do not stand up he gets angry. What kind of expectation was that?
It is a
mistake to expect man to respect you. The Messenger of Allah (S), with all of his majesty, said that he did not agree with the way that everyone showed him respect when he entered a meeting.
The Prophet (S) did not expect others to respect him; he did not consider himself better than others. It is the community's duty to respect him, but he wanted to show that one should not expect others to respect him nor should he consider himself better than others. The Messenger of Allah (S) did not consider himself better than his nation; instead he considered himself their servant. He did not expect anything from them, he was a servant sent by Allah. For this reason, his reward is also with Allah.(1) Respecting and loving his family, which has been ordered, is for the Muslims; it is a benefit for the Muslims themselves.(2)
Especially, the religious scholars and seminary students should follow this strategy of the Prophet (S). One of the great scholars said that a scholar should expect people to throw stones at him when he leaves his house and when that does not happen he should be thankful. A scholar should not expect people to greet him, treat him with respect and kiss his hands. You are a follower of the Prophet (S); you have and heard about how much he has been tortured, how bad he has been treated, how much he has been hit by stones and bones. Now, I should say: “I am
a scholar. I am a sayyid. Respect me.” But, if they do not respect me should I become angry?
You should not expect others to serve you; instead you should serve mankind. Do not desire to become higher or better than others; instead follow the path of the Prophet (S) and the pure Imāms (a).
It has been related that, in one of the Islamic wars, the Prophet's companions slaughtered a sheep. Every one of them had a certain job to do. The Messenger of Allah (S) went to collect firewood and they told him: “We are your servants, O Messenger of Allah. Sit down and relax, we will collect the firewood ourselves.” The Prophet responded by saying that he would feel shy from his Lord if he would consider himself in a higher position than his companions.(1)
I am trying to say that the scholars must lower their expectations. They should not expect people to serve them. (Of course, the people have their own duty, they should respect scholars.) For example, a scholar should not expect the people to greet him; instead they should follow the Prophet's (S) example and greet the people. Just like the Prophet said: “There are three things that I will not leave as long as I am alive; one of them is greeting the people before they greet me.” (The second and third things are sitting on the ground and not walking in front of others.)
We said that Allah, with His perfect wisdom, gave man
two powers, lust and anger. If these two powers are in congruence with the third power, intellect, man will be successful. He will achieve bliss in this world and the next. Man will reach perfection if these two powers are used in the middle course, the course accepted by both the intellect and the divine decrees given to us by the prophets. Man will fall if he acts in excess. He will leave the human world and enter the animal world. According to the Qurān he will be even lower than animals.
Eating too little is when all of the necessary food products do not reach one's body. A person who eats too little does not benefit from the good things that Allah created for him. One must benefit from food both materially and spiritually. When one eats halāl food it will both strengthen his body and strengthen his soul. The reason for this is that there is a little bit of Allah's perfection in the food. Man must eat sweet fruit and pay attention to who created the fruit. He should think about the power and wisdom He must have had to make these fruits from water and dirt. He should thank Allah and increase his love of Him. One should benefit from the delicious food that Allah has made. So, one has lost both physically and spiritually if he does not benefit from food..
Eating too much is worshipping one's stomach and going after complete comfort. It is eating with
out even thinking about it, just like an animal fills his stomach.(1) Excess in the amount of food is eating more than what is necessary and excess in the types of food is eating many different varieties of food without thinking about their physical or spiritual benefits and harms. Eating in excess is eating without thinking.
One should remember the One who blessed him while he is eating at the dinner table. It is good to say 'in the name of Allah' (bismillah) before taking every bite of food. One should not eat food that Allah's name has not been pronounced over.(2) The late Sayyid bin Tāūs (r) acted in accordance to this verse with every type of food, even though it is only obligatory to recite the name of Allah when slaughtering an animal. If one intentionally does not say bismillah while slaughtering an animal the animal will fall under the category of a dead body and its meat will be forbidden to eat. The Sayyid acted according to this with all types of food. For example, the Sayyid would not drink milk if the person who milked the cow did not start by saying bismillah or he would not eat bread if the baker did not start by saying bismillah.
A servant who knows reality, who thanks Allah when eating, is not only aware of Allah while he eats, but he is aware of him whenever he is benefited by anything.
One way to be excessive in marriage is not to
marry at all. This is against man's nature and the creation of mankind. Men and women marry for social reasons, building a family and procreating. Being excessive on the other side is marrying or performing the act more than the necessary amount.
Anger has also been discussed. When one does not use his anger enough he is indifferent to crimes committed against him. He does not care if his property is stolen, if his life or honor is taken, or if one of his loved one's life is taken. This same person is indifferent when he sees sin. He does not help the oppressed and does not try to stop the oppressor.
What is excessive anger? We are going to talk about this; this is a very important subject especially for the general public. Excessive anger destroys one's life in this world and the next. For this reason it is important for all of us to know what it is and act according to whatever we understood.
Anger can be excessive either because of how one became angry or how one showed his anger. Anger becomes excessive when one becomes angry at a time when neither the intellect nor the divine decree allows it. An example given earlier is one becoming angry at someone who did not have a choice in what he did. This is against the intellect and against religious law. Another case is when one does not act according to another's expectations. Why did you have expectations so that you
would get angry when someone acted against them?
The Messenger of Allah (S) never had personal anger directed at someone who acted against what he (S) wanted. The Prophet's eyes were always divine; he would become angry at disbelief, corruption and sin.
Our Imām's also acted like this. Everyone has heard that ‛Amr bin ‛Abd Wudd spat in Imām ‛Alī's (a) face when they were at war. Imām ‛Alī (a) did not kill him at that moment; instead he waited for a little while and then chopped his head off. After people asked him why he hesitated, he said that if he would have killed him at that moment he would have been acting according to personal anger which is wrong.
Another kind of anger is coming to the aid of some one with whom you have some kind of relationship even though he is in the wrong. For example, if a person in your family commits a crime and you help him only because he is a member of your family. One must help the oppressed not the oppressor, even if the oppressor is one's child.
Sometimes people help out members of their own gang, even if they are oppressors, just because they are from the same gang.
Imām Sajjād (a) said that negative tribalism is when a person thinks that a bad person from his tribe is better than good people from another tribe.(1) They think that a terrible person is good only because he is a member of their tribe or family.
will also mention the point that one must love one’s family. This is a natural feeling that Allah put in man. One must also love one’s friends. He must help his family and his friends, but what is disliked and bad is helping out a friend or a family member even when he is an oppressor. One must help his family and friends, but not in oppression. One must not differentiate between family members and other people when it comes to oppression. One must always act in accordance to justice.
Imām Sādiq (a) said: “The army on the right side is just and the opposing army acts in accordance with tribalism.” One must help the oppressed even if one's son is the oppressor and even if his help will hurt his son. One must help the oppressed even if the help that he gives will hurt his own self. The Qurān says the following about this: “Stand up for justice… even if it is against your own selves.”(1)
For example, suppose one of your friends or relatives got in a fight and he was in the right. Here you should give witness to help your friend or relative. But, if you know that the other person was in the right you must give witness against your friend or relative. This should not be exclusive to the courtroom, but in any case that you must give witness. One should not forget about the person who is in the right because of personal issues.
man is not just he is an animal. He will not pay attention to who is in the right and who is in the wrong. We must make a pact to pay attention to who is in the right, even if it is our enemy.
So, the opposite of tribalism is justice. One must become angry at oppression, no matter who is oppressed, and at the oppressor, no matter who he is. Here, one must put his personal feelings aside.
Sometimes one can be excessive in anger at a time when one should be angry. This is not good, if it occurs. One should become angry at oppression and sin with his tongue, with his hand and with his heart, but should make sure to act in the correct fashion. How angry should one become? The different stages of anger using one's tongue hand or heart will become clear by giving some examples.
Exceeding the limits using the tongue - It is natural that a believer will become angry when someone says something bad to him. In this case, the best thing to do in the view of Islam is control one's anger and remain silent.
It would be very good if one could not only refrain from replying with bad language, but give the person advice in a nice tone using good manners. For example if one would tell him: “You are a respected person whom people look up to. It would be a shame if your respect would be lowered
in their eyes.”
If a Muslim is able to answer bad language with good language, he should answer bad actions with good actions. For example, you can give someone who needs something what he needs even if that same person did not help you out when you were in need. If one is able to answer bad with good, his enemies would lose their hatred for him and would become his friends, even better than friends, they would become like family members.
Of course, not everyone is able to do this. Only the people who have a high level of faith are able to do this and benefit from their good habits.
At first it is difficult to answer with good words someone who swore at you, but later it becomes pleasurable to do so. Sometimes men, in order to feel better, answer one swear with ten different swears. Not only does this make that person feel worse, he gets even angrier and it results in making an enemy.
A person who answers bad language with good language, who controls his anger, who acts like an adult, is the one who will become calm and feel better while the person who used bad language will be ashamed and regretful.
One can perform one of the following three actions to someone who swears at him. He can either forgive him and remain silent or answer his bad language with good language, or if he cannot do any of these he can swear at the person
just like the latter swore at him. For example if someone called him stupid he can reply: “You're the stupid one.” But, he does not have the right to say anything against his father, mother or brother.
The Qurān says: “..Should anyone aggress against you, assail him in the manner he assailed you.”(1) One is unable to oppress the oppressor to a higher degree of oppression than he was oppressed himself. If one swears twice responding to one swear, he has crossed the limits.
There is no eye for an eye regarding false accusations. The accused cannot claim that the accuser committed the crime that he says was committed. For example, the accused cannot accuse the accuser of committing adultery in return for a false accusation. What the accused can do is charge the accuser of making false accusations and if it is confirmed he will be punished Islamically.(2)
The danger here is one losing control of one’s tongue in the state of anger and saying more than one is allowed to say which results in becoming divinely responsible.
But, in any case, one may respond with bad language, if it is not a false accusation, lie or slander and not outside the limits. One's tongue easily goes out of control and the only thing there is to control it is the fear of Allah.
Here we will mention a verse from Surah al-Fath: “When the faithless nourished bigotry in their hearts, the bigotry of pagan ignorance, Allah sent down His composure upon the
Apostle and upon the faithful, and made them abide by the word of God-wariness, for they were the worthiest of it and deserved it, and Allah has knowledge of all things”.(1)
The Arabs in the age of Ignorance, in addition to having satanic and animalistic anger, were more racist and more tribalistic than other nations. According to a prophetic tradition, tribalism was the cause of their fall. Their tribalism made them arrogant, and because of it they continued to accept the false slogans that their fellow tribesmen would say.
The unbelievers had this spirit of ignorant tribalism while Allah gave his Prophet and those who followed him peace and comfort so that they had dignity in front of the unbelievers.
This verse was revealed about the peace treaty of Hudaybīyah which has been mentioned in Islamic history and is outside of our discussion. The polytheists sent Suhayl bin ‛Amr to the Prophet (S) as their representative in writing the treaty. The Messenger of Allah (S) recited the peace treaty and the Commander of the faithful (a) wrote it down. The Prophet said: “Write 'In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful’.” The Commander of the faithful wrote it.
Suhayl said: “We do not know the Compassionate, the Merciful. Nothing has reached us about this from our ancestors.” Some Muslims complained and said that the sentence must remain as it was.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “What should we write?”
Suhayl said: “Writing: ‘in your name, O Allah’, is common amongst us.”
The Prophet said;
“‛Alī, erase what you wrote and write: ‘in your name, O Allah’.”
This is not something so serious that one should fight over and ruin the peace treaty which is in the benefit of Islam and the Muslims. What loss will those words cause? The principle is that it should be started in the name of Allah; it does not matter with which sentence. Those people had a satanic form of tribalism in their hearts and for that reason Allah gave the Muslims peace in their hearts to bear what he said.
The Prophet (S) then said: “Write: ‘This document is between Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and Suhayl bin ‛Amr.”
When it was written, Suhayl said: “We would not have fought you if we thought that you were a prophet sent from Allah.”
The companions got angry and a fight was about to break out when the Prophet (S) said: “No problem, erase it.”
‛Alī (a) asked: “O Messenger of Allah (S)! How can I erase your title?”
The Prophet took the document and erased the words 'the Messenger of Allah' himself.
Muhammad is a Prophet whether they write it or not. Is writing that Muhammad was the messenger of Allah worth fighting over? Is it worth destroying the peace treaty over?
A believer is one whose soul and veins are full of piety. A believer always considers Allah to be present and watching everything. His tongue and eyes are in his control and he does not become angry because of his nafs. If he becomes angry
it is for Allah.
Suhayl bin ‛Amr disrespected the Prophet (S) and the Prophet refrained from getting angry. This is the sunnah of the Prophet (S). One must not lose his calm. One should remain pious. One should not show satanic and animalistic anger at ignorance. One must show dignity and calmness when dealing with ignorant, tribalistic people. The Qurān describes the believers as having the following characteristic: “..When ignorant people address them they say peace (salām).”(1) The Arabic term salām is derived from salama. It means that we do not have any fight with you. We are not like you ignorant people who use such bad language with someone. A Muslim is one with whom other Muslims feel safe.(2)
According to the Qurān it is better to forgive someone who slaps you.(3) One should not say that if I forgive him, he will slap another person. It is usual for a criminal to feel upset and ask for repentance when the victim forgives him. It is better to fight one's nafs and forgive that person rather than seeking revenge. The reason for this is that the revenge must equal the harm that was inflicted and doing that is very difficult. For this reason, forgiving the person is closer to piety than seeking revenge.
We should also remember the verse of Qurān that says: “Do not commit oppression nor be oppressed.”(4) This is regarding oppression at the first stage. For example, nobody said let a person who wants to hit you, hit
you. Likewise, nobody said to let someone who wants to kill you, kill you. The Commander of the faithful (a) said that someone who does this is like someone who commits suicide.(1) The reason for this is because he did not defend himself even though he was able to prevent the other person from killing him.
They say that it is better to forgive someone rather than seeking revenge after he has hit you. There is a pleasure that is in forgiving that is not found in revenge.
The following has been mentioned in the explanation of the verse that says forgiving is closer to piety: there are three things that one can do after being wounded. The first is forgiving the criminal, the second is asking for blood money and the third is physically punishing him. This verdict must be given by the Islamic judge (hākim al-shari‛). The punishment cannot be any bigger than the wound itself. For example, Qanbar, Imām ‛Alī's (a) servant was whipping someone as an Islamic punishment. He accidentally whipped the person one extra time and the Imām said that Qanbar must be whipped one time by the person who was whipped.
It is better to forgive the person because punishing someone equally is difficult. In any case, the best thing to do is forgive the person and the second best thing to do is ask for blood money. But, if someone wants to physically punish the criminal, he must do so equally.
So, you are not allowed to
slap someone twice who slapped you once. Also, you cannot hit someone who struck you and left a red mark, in such a way so as to leave a black mark. If one does this he must pay the extra amount in blood money.
We must understand what creates envy and refrain from it. This sickness is worse than cancer for one's spirit. From the beginning, one must control himself so that he does not become afflicted with this disease that can destroy one's family. Envy starts from becoming angry at the wrong times or becoming excessively angry. Examples of these have been mentioned earlier.
For example, suppose there are two workmates. One of them gets a promotion and the other one does not. The one who did not get promoted gets angry at the fact that his workmate got promoted but he did not. This anger will result in envy. His envy will grow and he will wish that his former workmate gets demoted. This form of envy is harmful for one's body and soul. The Commander of the faithful (a) said in the Nahj al-Balāghah: “It is strange that an envious person does not pay attention to his health.”(1) It is true that envy destroys one's physical health.
He (a) also said: “Health comes from a lack of envy.”(2)
A man's spirit has many duties including taking care of his body and protecting his abilities. When one becomes envious his spirit only thinks about what he is envious about.
His spirit becomes upset because it feels that it has less than what he is envious about. This even has an effect on one's appetite.
Envy also destroys one's soul. The following tradition has been narrated from Usūl al-Kāfī and other books: the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Envy consumes one’s faith just like fire consumes firewood.” Have you seen what fire does to firewood? He (S) said that envy does the same thing to one's faith. One will die without faith if envy grows inside of him, because envy does not allow faith to remain in his heart.
In another tradition, the Messenger of Allah (S) said to his companions: “Beware, a sickness that was in previous nations has been found amongst you. Know that this is a terminal disease; it is a disease that destroys your religion.”(1)
This was a warning sign that the Prophet gave to his companions at the end of his life. Envy is what took the followers of the previous prophets off the path of religion and we saw what envy did to the Muslims after the Prophet (S) passed away. Envy was the reason for the death of thousands of people in the battles of Jamal and Siffīn. Review the history of Islam; you will see that envy was behind every social catastrophe that befell Muslims.
The late Shaykh Jawāhirī wrote in his book Jawāhir al-Kalām, in the chapter of giving testimony, about the conditions of a witness: “A witness must not be envious. In Islam,
a witness's testimony is not accepted if he is envious. He is not just. In other words, envy is one of the greater sins.” Shaykh Jawāhirī used a tradition from the Messenger of Allah (S) to prove that envy is one of the greater sins. The tradition described the sins that would force different segments of society into Hell. One of the things that he (S) said was: “The religious scholars [will be sent into Hell] because of their envy.” Envy will make those who learn about religion go to Hell if they are not careful and if they do not purify themselves.
It is better if I relate something while we are talking about this tradition. Tomorrow is the birthday of the ninth Imām, Imām Jawād (a). Before I read a tradition from him I would like to say that the envy that destroys scholars is not exclusive to scholars who study Islamic jurisprudence, instead it encompasses university students and scholars of other fields as well. As a principle, knowledge brings about envy, be it religious knowledge or any other knowledge. This is a warning to anyone who has become knowledgeable in any field. Because of this Imām Khomeini (r) said that a student in the religious seminary or a student in the university will be dangerous for the society if he has not purified his self. His harm would be more than his benefit.
Have you heard about the story of Abū Līlāī, who was a judge during the time
of Imām Jawād? Abū Līlāī was a judge in the Abbasid khalīfa, Mutawakkil's so called Islamic government. He was the head judge and in charge all of the courthouses in the country. A store owner lived close to his house by the name of Zaraqā'. The judge and the store owner were friends. One day the judge went to see Zaraqā' while he was very distressed. The store owner asked: “Your honor, why are you so upset today?”
The judge responded: “If you only knew what happened to me in front of the khalīfa today. They brought a thief in front of me. They asked me how much of his hand should be cut and I said that the Qurān said that a person’s hand up to his elbow must be washed in wudū.(1) So, I said that his hand must be cut from the elbow.
“The khalīfa asked other judges who were present in the courtroom about their opinion and they said that the hand must be cut from the wrist because all considered that to be the hand in regards to tayammum.
“The Khalīfa then turned to the Imām of the Shī‛a, Imām Jawād (a).
Imām Jawād (a) said: “They said what the ruling is”
The Khalīfa said: “You tell me the ruling as well.”
Imām again said: “They already said what the ruling is.”
The Khalīfa insisted that the Imām tell him his opinion and the Imām said: “His fingers must be cut off because Allah said that the masājid belong to Allah.(2)
Masājid is the plural form of masjid which means parts of one's body that are on the floor when he prostrates. This thief will want to pray and he must put the seven parts of his body on the ground when he prostrates. He must put his two palms on the ground and for this reason they should not be cut. Instead, only his fingers should be cut.
When the Imām said this, the Khalīfa said; “Excellent!” and immediately ordered the thief to be punished in the way that the Imām said.
At this time it was like the world fell on my head. How was a 25 year old man ahead of me in knowledge? I'm upset and I will not get over it until I do what I have to do, even though I know that whoever helps in the murder of this young man will go to Hell.
Zaraqā' tried to advice him against it but he did not accept. The next day he went to the khalīfa and asked him: “Do you know what happened yesterday? Instead of suppressing the person whom a large number of Muslims consider as their Imām and as the rightful khalīfa of the Prophet (S), who consider you to be unjust, you put him forward and strengthened him. Those who thought he was the rightful khalīfa are now saying; 'Didn't you see, even the khalīfa understands that he is higher.' They are saying that he is better than others. What a big political
mistake you made!” He kept making statements like this to the khalīfa until the latter was convinced about killing the Imām (a). Finally, they poisoned him (a).
Look and see how many scholars are in danger of this. Mujtahids, doctors, engineers and scientists, they are all in danger of this.
But, the knowledge that has been praised in the Qurān and traditions is a light that shines in one's heart. An example of this is: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets.”(1) This knowledge, the knowledge of reality, the knowledge of the mortality of this world and the immortality of the next, is not achieved by reading alone. It is a light that is given by Allah to a person who has prepared himself to receive it.
There is an important point that is necessary to tell you religious students and university students about. It is a danger that will ruin all your efforts if not understood. This danger is arrogance. This danger is found in every group of people, but it is more common amongst scholars. The knowledge that one has in any field can cause arrogance. Arrogance destroys people, just like it destroyed Iblīs. There is a tradition that says that the first sin on earth was Iblīs's arrogance. He fell due to his arrogance to a place where everyone curses him.
The definition of arrogance, its danger and why it is common amongst scholars will be made clear.
One is arrogant when he imagines himself to be of
importance or imagines that he has special characteristics. He thinks that he does not have any needs. He considers himself important because he learned some jargon or he considers himself someone who does not have any needs because he has become rich. Someone is more likely to become arrogant if his social status increases after he has gained knowledge. When one becomes a president of a company he sees greatness in himself.
The danger of arrogance is that one will leave worship and enter into a state of compound ignorance. Ignorance is when one does not see reality. He considers his imagination to be true, not reality. One reality, for example, is that every existence in every level is less than the existence of the Seal of the Prophets (S). Whoever considers his existence to be dependent, and his existence to be from someone else, is present and everlasting. But, whoever thinks that his existence is in his own hands must see that he will die even if he does not want to and he will continue to live even if he does not want to. One will not die until Allah allows him to die, even if he tries to kill himself.
Not only is his life in someone else's hands, but his death is in someone else's hands as well. Drinking poison and death is from Allah. If Allah wants one to die by drinking poison he will die, but if Allah does not want this, even if he drinks
poison he will not die.
I read in an article that a man in New York took a loan for millions of dollars in order to build a skyscraper. The skyscraper was left half way done and he did not have the ability to complete it. Nobody else would give him a loan. Now, he has a huge debt on his shoulders that is increasing daily due to interest and his skyscraper remained half way done and nobody wanted to rent it. He decided to commit suicide by jumping off the top floor. He then thought, maybe I will not die by jumping so it is better to drink poison and then jump off the building. He thought that he would definitely die from one of the two reasons. He drank the poison and jumped, head-first, off the building. On his way down he crashed into a pole on the building and threw up the poison. So, he did not die in either way that he had thought he would. When Allah does not want something, there is nothing that one can do.
We must understand that life is not in our hands, not the start of life and not the continuance of life. Likewise, death is also not in our hands. We have been created, raised and remain living without choice. Everyone is dependent on Allah and Allah is the only independent existence. Man must have the ability to do whatever he wants to do. Is he able to bring about
this ability in himself?
Do not say: “I am doing this.” Do you have the ability to do what you want? Your existence is not in your hands for you to be able to say that qualities such as ability are in your hands. Lā hawla wa lā quwata illa billah.
One should not consider himself independent, no matter how much knowledge he has. Being dependent is part of man's nature. One must not forget that he is dependent as long as he is alive.
The place of knowledge is in one's memory. Allah decides how long knowledge remains in one's memory. Fifty years ago, there was a scholar who taught a book called Muttawil. One day when he woke up he forgot how to recite the first chapter of the Qurān. He was in a state of forgetfulness. When he entered the classroom it was as if he had never read the book before, and as if he had never attended school before. He even forgot how to say 'in the name of Allah.'
The memory stores knowledge like a computer and this memory is one of the proofs that one's nafs is immaterial. The memory holds all information learned, for example the alphabet that one learns in first grade. If one's memory is taken from him he will even forget the alphabet. So, a scholar is still in need of Allah, even in regards to his knowledge.
A doctor is able to benefit from what he learned if his knowledge remains in his
memory. But what would happen if Allah didn't want it to remain in his memory?
The son of a doctor, around 30 years ago, had a fever and the doctor thought that his son had malaria. The doctor treated him as if he had malaria when in reality he had typhoid fever. The medication of typhoid fever and malaria are different. The son died after a few days. There is nobody who would work harder in finding a cure for that child other than his father, but everything is from Allah.
There was a religious doctor who passed away. He told me: “Sometimes I give someone medication which I am certain will work. Later I see that it did not have a positive effect. Sometimes medication that I thought might work works perfectly.” It is clear that the effect is also from Allah. A doctor, like a mujtahid, is in need of his knowledge and for that reason he should not become arrogant.
A mujtahid, a doctor and an engineer must be humble. He should not consider himself to be different from the laity. Likewise a millionaire must not consider himself different from a poor person. The million dollars that one has did not make him a person without needs. Can one's money cure him from an incurable disease?
It should not be left unsaid that this is related to the person himself. The mujtahid should not consider his self high and others low. He should not have huge expectations of respect. But, it
is other people's duty to respect him and hold him high. A scholar in any field must be respected, especially the religious scholars. Many traditions have been mentioned about this, for example, respecting a religious scholar is like respecting the Messenger of Allah (S) just like mistreating a religious scholar is like mistreating the Messenger of Allah (S).
First one must understand what arrogance is and where it comes from, then he will realize how great a sin it is.
Arrogance is a state of feeling important, feeling that one has a special place. Reality is taken from him and he only uses his imagination. Everyone, in reality, is nothing. Every body is from dirt and will return to dirt. One's self is also in real need, his life, health and property are not in his hands.
The Commander of the faithful (a) says in one of his speeches found in Nahj al-Balāghah: “O' creatures of Allah! Allah created you without you having a choice and takes care of you for as long as you are alive.”(1)
Man is naturally needy, low and in reality nothing. Imām ‛Alī (a) said in another tradition: “I'm surprised about the person who is arrogant. At the beginning he was unclean semen and at the end he will be a decomposed body and between these two he is good for nothing.”(2) Right now, under our skin, is najis blood and it is known what is in our stomachs and intestines.
Arrogance is the reason behind many of
the sins that man commits. One will not accept reality if arrogance is left to grow. One will stand against the truth; one will even think that he himself is the truth. He will think that his own opinions and customs are correct; he will not be a servant of Allah anymore. He will not serve Allah's friends (awlīyā Allah). They will be like those who were arrogant and stood up against the Commander of the faithful (a), they either did not pay allegiance to him or they disobeyed him after they paid allegiance.
What creates arrogance and what strengthens it?
The first thing that creates arrogance is property. The natural result of an increase in wealth is an ignorant form of arrogance. I said that arrogance stems from ignorance, because a rational person would understand that wealth does not add anything to his existence. There is no difference between him and a poor person, even if he has millions of dollars. But, when his wealth is increases he sees himself better than poor people.
Have you heard the tradition where the Messenger of Allah (S) was sitting with a rich person and a poor person entered and sat next to his rich brother in Islam? When he sat down the rich person tucked his clothing in and the Messenger of Allah (S) protested and asked him why he did that.
He immediately became regretful and said that there is something in me that forces me to do these bad actions (arrogance was in
him). He said that he is regretful for his actions and to make it up he gave half of his belongings to his poor brother in Islam.
The Messenger of Allah (S) asked the poor person if he accepted that and he said: “No, because I am afraid that if I take it I will do the same thing to another poor person.”
Knowledge that one obtains from learning in a university, for example, is worse than property when one thinks that he is important because of his knowledge. He looks down on others. It is even worse if he thinks this way about religious knowledge and considers himself to be as the tradition says: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets.”(1) It is dangerous when he thinks that others must obey him due to his knowledge.
This danger is more evident for religious students than others because in others arrogance shows itself in monetary situations. But, with religious students, arrogance shows itself in position; his nafs wants to be in a higher position. He says: “I am more knowledgeable than him, I have studied more than he has.” In reality he is worse than the humble illiterate person. Position is in relation to faith and actions. The knowledge that is important is the knowledge of Allah and the last day; it is a light found in one's heart that humbles him.
One, no matter how much knowledge he has, is like a drop of water in respect to the ocean with regard
to the Imām (a). He will admit this if he is a rational being. Look at what the Imām, who is a source of knowledge, who is the holder of all fields of knowledge, does.
Imām Zayn al-‛Ābidīn (a) said in Sahīfah al-Sajjādīyah: “I am the least of the least and the lowest of the lowest. I am even smaller than an atom.” The infallible Imām said that he was smaller than the smallest thing in the eyes of Allah. Now, should a person who considers himself to be a scholar arrogantly say that he is better than so and so? Allah's scale is piety. A religious student must not forget that he is needy and incapable. He must not consider himself better than others. He should not consider himself to be part of a special segment of society and the rest of the people to be of the laity.
One would realize the scale is something other than knowledge if he has become a scholar. For this reason he should think that maybe that person who religiously follows me (taqlīd) will go to heaven and maybe I will go to Hell. His humility grows and he sees himself lower than others.
The third reason for someone to become arrogant is because of popularity or social status. Sometimes this even comes from family relations, for example one who is from a certain tribe or a certain country looks down at others and even refrains from marrying people from other segments of society.
arrogance comes from being a sayyid. A sayyid is someone who is from the Messenger of Allah's (S) lineage. How did the Messenger of Allah (S) act? He would sit on the floor and always be the first to greet someone, even a child. But, such and such a sayyid expects others to greet him, only because he is a sayyid.
Shaykh wrote a tradition from Imām Hasan al-‛Askarī (a) in Risā'l, in the section of the single transmission. The Imām described the bad scholar whose harm for the Muslim nation is great. He (a) said: “One of the signs of a bad scholar is fanaticism. The more people who follow him the greater he feels, even if they are corrupt. But, he does not pay attention to someone who does not follow him, even if he is a good person.”
Anybody from any social class who obtains a social position is afflicted with this sickness. He must do something to save himself. A rational person would try to escape from having power; he would not accept it unless he is forced to.
It should not be misunderstood, a leader is necessary in Islam. We need judges and mayors. What is meant is that one should not want position, but if it happens he should serve the people. He should not want to be the mayor; he should want to serve the city and the Muslims. The danger is when one wants to be in power.
The cure of arrogance is being humble. For
example, Prophet Dāwūd became a political leader. He was both a Prophet and a political leader. The following has been taken from the book Man Lā yahdaruhu al-faqīh: a voice came from the sky: “Dāwūd, you are a good servant, but you make a living from the public treasury.” Dāwūd cried to Allah for forty nights until Allah taught him how to make armor. Then, Dāwūd would make and sell armor for a living. It has been related that he sold every piece of armor for 300 Dirhams. He would give 100 Dirhams in charity, 100 Dirhams to the public treasury and would spend the rest of it on himself.
Likewise, his son Sulaymān, who had power over jinn, men, birds and other animals, would make a living from making and selling baskets.
It is understood from traditions like these that a person who has obtained power can fight against arrogance if he makes his living like other people; if he is humble. I will not say; “I'm the president!” or “I'm the one behind the desk!” or “Others must stand when I walk in the room!”
In a tradition, Imām Sādiq (a) ordered one of his highest companions, Muhammad bin Muslim to take some dates next to the Kūfa Mosque and sell them. Even though Muhammad was part of the upper class in society he, with all of his heart, accepted the order. One must fight against arrogance even if it is by selling dates.
Another thing one can do is not give
orders because when one gives an order it means that he thinks he is bigger than others.
Some trustworthy people relate that the late Mīrzā Muhammad Taqī Shīrāzī would even refrain from giving orders in his house. He would not order his wife to bring dinner or clear dishes. He would go without dinner if his family forgot to give it to him. Of course, I am not saying that it is forbidden. It is not forbidden to give orders, but one must practice fighting against his nafs if he wants to be a man.
In the name of Allah
Are those who know equal to those who do not know?
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