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Chastity and Abstinence

Chastity and Abstinence

Chastity and abstinence are amongst the highest human values. They provide the power to control man's natural instincts and to use them in the path towards perfection. The closer man goes to the treasures of chastity and abstinence, the closer he becomes to his own humanity and the farther he distances himself from animalistic behavior. If it were not for chastity and abstinence, man would know no boundaries while seeking to please his carnal desires and as a result, he would sink in the cesspool of corruption and sensuality.

Since pious men are the embodiment of virtue and perfection, the most complete role model for mankind, the Noble Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), was adorned with chastity and abstinence of the highest nature. Not once did he become contaminated with sins that contradict infallibility or chastity. Rather, he was the manifestation of chastity and abstinence and this state was so strong in him that he even refrained from permissible actions containing even the slight possibility of a lack of chastity. Imām a-ādiq (peace be upon him), in a narration concerning the Prophet's behavior, has said, "When the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would sit with somebody, he would not take of his clothes (outer garments) until the man would rise (and leave).[1]"

Similarly, Abū Sa'īd Khidrī has narrated that: "The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) was more chaste than virgin women behind curtains and if he did not like something, we would understand so from his facial expression (he would not tell us anything).[2]"


Caring for Children

Children who are the future of society, are usually not treated with a lot of importance by their elders. Sometimes they are even looked down upon. The Messenger of God, however, was different. He considered children to be precious in value and he kept their feelings and particular circumstances in mind. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) told grownups and parents to play with children at home. Without a doubt, this type of attitude gives children the feeling that they are individuals and that they are important. In this way, if children have problems with their parents they can more easily solve them and they can see their parents as friends, rather than as rulers. Also, while playing, parents can teach their children lessons about life.

Here reference will be made to a few examples of the respect the Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would show towards children:

1. "If the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) heard the sound of a child crying while he (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) was leading the prayer he would make the prayer short so that the child's mother could attend to her child sooner."[3]

2. When the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) saw the children of the Anār [those who provided the Prophet with help amongst the people of Madīnah] he would stroke their heads with his hand, greet them with peace and pray for them.[4]

3. When the Eminent Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would return from a journey, children would come to welcome him. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would wait and ask them to ride with him. He would seat some of them on his steed, some sitting in front and others behind. He would also tell his companions to give some of them a ride.[5]

4. "Small children would be brought to the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) for him to name them and pray for them. He would put such children on his lap out of respect for their families. Sometimes a child would urinate while in his lap and those who witnessed this would often yell at the child. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would say kindly, 'Do not prevent a child from urinating with harshness, (rather wait) until he finishes urinating.' When the Prophet had finished praying for or naming the child, the family would be filled with delight and they would see no signs of annoyance in the Prophet as a result of the urine of their child. When the family would leave, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would wash his clothes."[6]


Forgiveness

Forgiving others and overlooking their faults is a virtue that is held in high esteem by all schools of thought and all nations. People consider those who are willing to forgive others to be unparalleled in value.

The Noble Qur’an, the Disciplinarian of all mankind, advises all of us to adhere to this enlightened value, saying: "And they should pardon and excuse their faults. Do they not love for God to forgive them? And God is very forgiving and merciful."[7]

The Noble Qur’an does not just consider forgiving the mistakes of others to be desirable; rather, it considers doing good to one who has harmed you to be of even more value and to be one of the attributes of true believers: "And they ward off evil with good and they give in charity from that which We have given them in sustenance."[8]

Doing good when one has been wronged is a fine art that only those with strong (spiritual) foundations can accomplish. Regarding this, Khwājah 'Abdullāh Anārī has said, "Doing bad in response to bad is dog-like behavior. Doing good in response to good is donkey-like behavior. Doing good in response to bad is the work of Khwājah 'Abdullāh Anārī."

In other words, responding to evil and good in kind are natural and normal. But doing good in response to bad is superior to the behavior of animals and is a quality to which only humans can aspire.

The Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), who derived his discipline from the Qur’an, was always forgiving and he would also do good (isān) when he was wronged. This was also true of the other infallibles (peace be upon them).

Concerning the Prophet's virtues, it has been related that: "The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would never take revenge (on someone) for (having wronged) him. Rather, he would pardon and excuse."[9]

The following story is an example of the Prophet's tendency to pardon others: "One day a Bedouin man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) and requested something from him. The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) gave it to him and asked, 'Have I done good to you?' The man replied, 'No, you've never done good to me.' His companions got upset as a result of the man's ungratefulness and intended to harm him. The Prophet, however, prevented them from showing aggression. At that point, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) went home and gave the man even more and asked, 'Now have I done good to you?' The man said, 'Yes, may God reward you with goodness.'

The Messenger of God said, 'As a result of what you said in front of my companions, it is possible that they may think negatively about you. If you like, go to them and announce your contentment.' The man went to the Prophet's companions and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said: 'This man has become satisfied with me, hasn’t you?'

The man responded, 'Yes, may God reward you and your family with goodness.'

Then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said, 'This man and I are like one whose she-camel has run away, others follow it but the camel only runs further away. But the owner of the camel says, 'Let her go. I know how to tame her.' The camel comes back and he pats her head and face and dusts her body and face and takes her bridle in his hand. Yesterday, if I were to have given you (speaking to his companions) permission, you would have killed this man due to his foul tongue and (if he had died) in such a state he would have entered Hell.'"[10]

In addition to being the type of person who overlooked the faults of others, the Noble Prophet of Islam also made others conscious of this eminent, spiritual and humanistic principle and he said, "You must pardon others for verily pardoning others only increases the servant (of God) in might. So be forgiving so that God may make you mighty."[11]

Similarly, on another occasion he stated eloquently: "Shall I inform you of the best (most beneficial) traits for this world and the Hereafter? They are pardoning one who has done injustice to you, bonding with one who has cut off ties with you, doing good to one who has wronged you and giving to one who has withheld from you."[12]



[1] Tafsīr al-‘Ayāshī, vol. 1, p. 203.

[2] Makārim al-Akhlāq, vol. 1, p. 17.

[3] ‘Ilal ash-Sharā’i‘, vol. 2, p. 33, also to be found in Sunan an-Nabī, p. 273.

[4] Sharaf an-Nabī, p. 65.

[5] Sharaf an-Nabī, p. 85.

[6] Makārim al Akhlāq, vol. 1, p. 25.

[7] Sūrah an-Nūr 24: 22.

[8] Sūrah al-Qia 28: 54.

[9] Mustadrak al-Wasā'il, vol. 2, p. 87.

[10] Safīnah al-Biār, vol. 1, p. 416.

[11] Mir’āt al-‘Uqūl, vol. 8, p. 194.

[12] Mir’āt al-‘Uqūl, vol. 8, p. 192.

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