Pearl of Wisdom
'There are six things by which people's intellects may be tested: clemency at the time of anger, patience at the time of fear, calculation when faced with a desire, Godwariness at all times, amicableness, and minimal engagement in disputation.'
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]
Ghurar al-Hikam, no. 5608
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"Surely we called upon Him before: Surely He is the Benign One, the Merciful" (Qur’an, 52:28).
Al-Barr is one of Allah's Attributes derived from barr, the doer of goodness; birr means the doing of benevolent deeds.
"Al-Barr," then, is an inclusive word containing all attributes of goodness, benevolence and charity. One who is barr to his parents is very gracious and benevolent to them. Those who are barr are those from whom deeds of goodness are expected. Birr also means ties, links, or connections.
A person who is barr regarding his kin means he maintains good ties with them. The Holy Qur’an states this verse in Surat al-Mumtaana: "Allah does not forbid you regarding those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion and have not driven you out of your homes that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice" (Qur’an, 60:8).
And in Surat Ali-`Imran, we read, "By no means shall you attain righteousness until you spend (benevolently) out of what you love" (Qur’an, 3:92). A pilgrimage that is blessed and free of any prohibited acts is called "hajj mabroor" the reward for which is no less than Paradise according to hadith. Birr also means piety, which in turn means the doing of whatever brings one closer to Allah, a word that combines qualities very highly commendable and praiseworthy.
The birr is the best of what is in the life of this world and that of the hereafter. The best of this life is whatever Allah makes available to any of His servants such as guidance, bounties, and enjoyable things. The best of the life to come is the eternal bliss which is residence in Paradise; may Allah enable us to enjoy both blessings by His mercy and grace, Allahomma ameen. The Messenger of Allah has said, "Uphold telling the truth, for it shall lead you to birr."
Birr means goodness, a word which combines all good attributes. It implies whatever good deeds bring one closer to Allah, the Honored One, and the Most Exalted. The well of Zamzam is called barra due to the abundance of its benefits and of its water.
Al-Barr does not do anything ugly or abominable. He has been Gracious unto those who seek His pleasure by showing them the way how to, and unto the worshippers by His Favors and the granting of success to them. Al-Barr is kind unto those who seek His benevolence and His giving, unto the worshippers by beautifully rewarding them. He never ceases giving benevolently because of one's disobedience to Him.
A servant of Allah may be described as barr. A servant of Allah can be barr according to the extent of his deeds of righteousness, to his being the first and the foremost to observe the right of his parents, teachers, and mentors.
One of the ways wherein a servant of Allah can fashion his conduct after following the light of this Attribute is to befriend the believers who are sincere in their belief, who are acquainted with the secrets of belief. When someone mentions this Attribute quite often, his conduct will then personify it, and love for all servants of Allah will then be planted in his heart, and all people will love him with sincerity.
Allah has combined all the aspects of birr in one of the verses of Surat al-Baqarah when He said:
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the east and the west, but righteousness is this: that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the book and the prophets and give away wealth out of love for His sake to those near in kin, to the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, the beggars, and for (the emancipation of) the slaves, and keep up prayers and pay the zakat, and those who fulfill their promise when they promise, and those who persevere when in distress and affliction and during the time of conflict: these are they who are true (to themselves), and these are they who guard (themselves against evil) (2:177).
One to whom Allah is barr will be protected from committing what displeases Allah, and He, in turn, will please him with many beautiful things; He will make his path in life full of success; He will make his objectives always good. He will make him independent through Favors from Him, and He will protect him against committing anything which He deems unlawful.