Pearl of Wisdom

'Contemplate now O Mufaddal about the fact that man's lifespan has been kept concealed from his knowledge; for verily if he was to know the span of his life, and if it were short, he would never take pleasure in living, while being always in anticipation of death and the time that he knows. In fact, he would be like someone whose wealth has perished or is close to perishing, so he feels a sense of poverty and terror at the thought of losing his wealth and a fear of poverty. The feeling which the man who knows that he is going to lose his life is much more intense, for the one whose wealth is diminishing still continues to hope that some of it will be replaced enabling him to live off that, whereas he who is certain of the loss of his life, is taken over by despair. And if instead his lifespan was to be long, and he knew this , he would be certain of staying alive and would therefore become absorbed in vain pleasures and sins, and would act to gratify his desires intending to repent at the end of his life... And if you retort by saying that right now, even though his lifespan is concealed from him and he is anticipating death, he still yields to vile sins and commits forbidden acts, we would reply that the way this matter has been decreed is exactly how it is at the moment, and if man, in spite of that [i.e. his ignorance of his death] does not desist from and shun sins then that is because of his own heedless merriment and the hardness of his heart, and not because of a mistake in divine planning!'

Imam Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq [as]
Bihar al-Anwar, v. 3, p. 83

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Fear is the custodian of the heart, and hope is the intercessor of the self; whoever knows Allah fears Him and sets his hopes in Him. They are the wings of belief with which the true servant flies to Allah's pleasure. They are the eyes of his intellect, with which he sees Allah's promise and threat; fear contemplates the justice of Allah through careful awareness of that threat. Hope calls for Allah's overflowing favour and gives life to the heart, while fear kills the self. The Messenger of Allah said, 'The believer has two kinds of fear: fear of what has passed and fear of what is to come.'

In the death of the self lies the life of the heart, which leads to firmness in practice. Whoever worships Allah with a balance of fear and hope will not be misguided, and will obtain what he hopes for. How can a slave be anything other than fearful when he does not know at what action his record will be closed, while he has to his credit no deed capable of helping him, no power to do anything, nor any place to fly to? How can he fail to hope when he knows that despite his incapacity he is drowned in the seas of Allah's blessings and favours, which cannot be counted or numbered? The lover worships his Lord with hope by contemplating his own state with the eye of wakefulness; and the abstinent worships with fear.

Uways al-Qarani said to Haram ibn Hayyan, 'People act in hope.' 'But you act in fear,' Haram replied. There are two types of fear: permanent and changing. Permanent fear brings about hope, while changing fear brings about permanent fear. Similarly, there are two types of hopes: concealed and open. Concealed hope brings about permanent fear, which strengthens the connection of love; while open hope fulfils a man's expectations regarding his incapacity and shortcomings in the things he has done during his life.

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