Pearl of Wisdom

'What an excellent repellent of worries conviction is.?

Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]
Bihar al-Anwar, v. 77, p. 211, no. 1

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Library » Nahj ul Balagha » Sermons » The Qualities of a faithful believer
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Sermon 86 The Qualities of a faithful believer

O' creatures of Allah! the most beloved of Allah is he whom Allah has given power (to act) against his passions, so that his inner side is (submerged in) grief and the outer side is covered with fear. The lamp of guidance is burning in his heart. He has provided entertainment for the day that is to befall him. He regards what is distant to be near himself and takes the hard to be light. He looks at and perceives; he remembers (Allah) and enhances (the tempo of his) actions. He drinks sweet water to whose source his way has been made easy. So he drinks to satisfaction and takes the level path. He has put off the clothes of desires and got rid of worries except one worry peculiar to him. He is safe from misguidance and the company of people who follow their passions. He has become the key to the doors of guidance, and the lock for the doors of destruction.

He has seen his way and is walking on it. He knows his pillar (of guidance) and has crossed over his deep water. He has caught hold of the most reliable supports and the strongest ropes. He is on that level of conviction which is like the brightness of the sun. He has set himself for Allah, the Glorified, for performance of the most sublime acts of facing all that befalls him and taking every step needed for it. He is the lamp in darkness. He is the dispeller of all blindness, key to the obscure, remover of complexities, and a guide in vast deserts. When he speaks he makes you understand whereas when he remains silent then it is safe to do so. He did everything only for Allah and so Allah also made him His own. Consequently, he is like the mines of His faith and as a stump in His earth. He has enjoined upon himself (to follow) justice.

The first step of his justice is the rejection of desires from his heart. He describes right and acts according to it. There is no good which he has not aimed at nor any likely place (of virtue) of the Qur'an. Therefore the Qur'an is his guide and leader. He gets down when the Qur'an puts down his weight and he settles where the Qur'an settles him down.


    The Characteristics of an unfaithful believer

While the other (kind of) man is he who calls himself learned but he is not so. He has gleaned ignorance from the ignorant and misguidance from the misguided. He has set for the people a trap (made) of the ropes of deceit and untrue speech. He takes the Qur'an according to his own views and right after his passions. He makes people feel safe from big sins and takes light the serious crimes. He says that he is waiting for (clarification of) doubts but he remains plunged therein, and that he keeps aloof from innovations but actually he is immersed in them. His shape is that of a man, but his heart is that of a beast. He does not know the door of guidance to follow nor the door of misguidance to keep aloof therefrom. These are living dead bodies.


    About the Descendants (`Itrah) of the Holy Prophet

"So wither are you going to" (Qur'an, 81:26) and "how are you then turned away?" (Qur'an, 6:95; 10:34; 35:3; 40:62). Ensigns (of guidance) are standing, indications (of virtue) are clear, and the minarets (of light) have been fixed. Where are you being taken astray and how are you groping while you have among you the descendants of the Prophet? They are the reins of Right, ensigns of Faith and tongues of truth. Accord to them the same good position as you accord to the Qur'an, and come to them (for quenching the thirst of guidance) as the thirsty camels approach the water spring.

O' people take this saying(1) of the last of the Prophets that he who dies from among us is not dead, and he who decays (after dying) from among us does not really decay. Do not say what you do not understand, because most of the Right is in what you deny. Accept the argument of one against whom you have no argument. It is I. Did I not act before you on the greater thaqal (ath-thaqal al-akbar, i.e. the Qur'an) and did I not retain among you the smaller thaqal (ath-thaqal-al-asghar, i.e. the descendants of the Prophet).(2) I fixed among you the standard of faith, and I taught you the limits of lawful and unlawful. I clothed you with the garments of safety with my justice and spread for you (the carpet of) virtue by my word and deed.

I showed you high manners through myself. Do not exercise your imagination about what the eye cannot see or the mind cannot conceive.


    A part of the same sermon, about Banu Umayyah

Till people begin thinking that the world is attached to the Umayyads, would be showering its benefits on them, and lead them to its clear spring for watering, and that their whip and sword will not be removed from the people. Whoever thinks so is wrong. There are rather a few drops from the joys of life which they would suck for a while and then vomit out the whole of it.


(1). This saying of the Prophet is a definite proof of the view that the life of any one from among the Ahlu'l-bayt (Household of the Holy Prophet) does not come to an end and that apparent death makes no difference in their sense of living, although human intelligence is unable to comprehend the conditions and happenings of that life. There are many truths beyond this world of senses which human mind cannot yet understand. Who can say how in the narrow corner of the grave where it is not possible even to breathe, replies will be given to the questions of the angels Munkar and Nakir? Similarly, what is the meaning of life of the martyrs in the cause of Allah, who have neither sense nor motion, can neither see nor hear? Although to us they appear to be dead, yet the Qur'an testifies to their life.


    And say not of those who are slain in the path of Allah that they are dead; Nay, (they are) living, but ye perceive not. (2:154)

At another place it says about their life:


    Reckon not those who are slain in the way of Allah, to be dead; Nay! alive they are with their Lord being sustained. (3:169)

When restriction has been placed on mind and tongue even in respect of the common martyrs that they should not be called dead nor considered dead, how would not those individuals whose necks were reserved for sword and palate for poison be living for all times to come.

About their bodies Amir al-mu'minin has said that by passage of time no signs of ageing or decay occur in them, but they remain in the same state in which they fell as martyrs. There should be nothing strange in it because dead bodies preserved through material means still exist. When it is possible to do so through material means will it be out of the Power of the Omnipotent Creator to preserve against change and decay the bodies of those upon whom He has bestowed the sense of everlasting life? Thus about the martyrs of Badr, the Holy Prophet said:


    Shroud them even with their wounds and flowing blood because when they would rise on the Day of Judgement blood would be pushing out of their throats.

(2). "ath-thaqal al-akbar" implies the Qur'an and "ath-thaqal al-asghar" means Ahlu'l-bayt (the Household of the Holy Prophet) as in the Prophet's saying: "Verily, I am leaving among you (the) two precious things (of high estimation and of care)," the reference is to Qur'an and Ahlu'l-bayt. There are several reasons for using this word Firstly, "thaqal" means the kit of a traveller, and since the kit is much in need, it is protected carefully. Secondly, it means a precious thing; and since this is of great importance, one is bound to follow the injunctions of the Qur'an and the actions of Ahlu'l-bayt. So they have been called 'precious things'. Since Allah has made arrangements for the protection of the Qur'an and Ahlu'l-bayt till doomsday so they have been called "thaqalayn" . So the Prophet before leaving this world for the next, declared them to be his valuable possessions and ordered people to preserve them. Thirdly, then have been called "Thaqalayn" (precious things) in view of their purity and high value. Thus Ibn Hajar al-Haytami writes:


    The Prophet has called the Qur'an and his Descendants as "thaqalayn" (two precious things) because "thaqal" means a pure, chaste and preserved thing, and either of these two were really so, each of them is the treasure of Divine knowledge and a source of scholarly secrets and religious commandments. For that reason the Prophet desired the people to follow them and to stick to them and to secure knowledge from them. Among them the most deserving of attachment is the Imam and Scholar of the family of the Prophet namely `Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah may honour his face) because of his great insight and copiousness of knowledge which we have already described. (as-Sawa`iq al-muhriqah, p. 90)

Since the Prophet has with regard to apparent implication attributed the Qur'an to Allah and the descendants to himself, therefore in keeping with the natural status the Qur'an has been called the bigger weight while the descendants, the smaller weight. Otherwise from the point of view of being followed both are equal and from the point of view of utility in the development of character there can be no question in the status of the speaking party (the Ahlu'l-bayt) being higher than the silent one (the Qur'an).


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