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Thursday 9th of December 2021
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One who works for God his reward lies with God

 

(On the authority of the above-mentioned narrators), Yazid ibn Khalifah reports from al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said: "Riya" in any of its forms amounts to shirk, (polytheism); verily, one who works for the people, his reward lies with them, and one who works for God his reward lies with God." [1]

Riya' means to falsely make oneself appear to be virtuous, good natured or a true believer in God before the people for the sake of earning their respect and admiration, or with the purpose of gaining good reputation(renown) among them. The hypocrite feigns integrity, uprightness, virtue, honesty And piety without an authentic intention of acquiring these traits for the sake of God. It has several grades and degrees.

The first stage is comprised of two steps:

1. At the first step an individual makes a display of his religious beliefs, and shows off his knowledge of the religious teachings in order to project himself as an honest person in the eyes of people to gain their confidence and respect. Such a kind of person tries to make a display of his trust in God and His Power, saying that he does not believe in any being except Him. He also tries to present himself as a staunch believer through various means, especially by declaring that he depends on none but God. Or such a person, with his gestures and utterances, poses himself to be a staunch follower of the true faith, and this is a more common kind of riya' than the first one. For instance, when the trust in God or submission to His Will is discussed, he wags his head in affirmation with a sigh, and thus deceives people giving an impression(imprint) that he is one of the true believers.

2. The second step on the path of riya' is represented by those who eradicate false belief from their hearts and, through such purification, want to attain power and respect among people; they sometimes articulate(talkative) their belief overtly, sometimes make a covert display of their purity.

The second stage, too, is comprised of two steps:

1. At the first step an individual demonstrates his piety and virtuous deeds.

2. At the second step one pretends to have done away with the antitheses of piety and virtue, and behaves in such a manner as if he is free from all vices, and the aim of all this is to win the confidence of others.

The third stage of Riya', which is considered to be overt by the fuqaha', also consists of two steps:

1. The first step is marked(striking) by an individual's performance of the prescribed forms of piety, prayers and good deeds in front of other people with the intention of demonstrating his favorable qualities and praiseworthy habits, or by his posture as a person who strictly adheres to the religious commands on purely rational grounds, and thus wishing to win the hearts of people and attracting their attention towards himself. Such acts, whether performed in total or in part, with the motive of Riya', to please the others, are discussed in the books of fiqh.

2. At the second step, one abstains from evil deeds for the purpose of riya' only.

 

Riya' in Faith or Creed:

Remember that hypocrisy in religious faith is the worst kind of hypocrisy; its retribution also is the severest and its bad effects are far greater and more dangerous than those of other forms of hypocrisy. One who is guilty of this sin, if he does not believe genuinely in those ideas which he pretends to believe in, is counted among the munafiqun (hypocrites), whose place is in the Fire, and he is doomed to eternal damnation and his punishment is the severest of punishments. But if he believes in them, and for the sake of winning peoples' hearts and for obtaining worldly honour and dignity he makes an ostentation of them, though he is not reckoned among munafiqun, this kind of hypocrisy will cause the light of faith to fade away from his heart and to make the darkness of infidelity and faithlessness to occupy the domain of his heart. Because in the first instance this person commits polytheism (shirk) of the covert type; while his religious beliefs and acts should purely be meant for God and His Holy Essence, he is guilty of committing the sin of doing them for others and thus makes them to share what should absolutely belong to Him only. In this way he makes others partners to God and has given permission to the Devil to occupy his heart as if it does not belong to God. It has been mentioned earlier that faith emerges from the depths of the heart, and in this matter mere abstract knowledge does not suffice. It has been stated in the tradition that any kind of riya' is polytheism, but this vice, this disastrous atrocity, this hidden cruelty (to one's own self), and this vicious habit, results in nullifying the good deeds, and in surrender of the realm of the heart to other than God. The darkness of this vice causes man to leave this world as an unbeliever in God, and the feigned faith that he had assumed proves nothing more than a senseless and barren(unfruitful) profession; it is a form without content, a body without soul and a skull without brain; and in no way is acceptable to God. This fact is confirmed by a tradition mentioned in al-Kafi, narrated by 'Ali ibn Salim:

The narrator of the tradition says that he heard al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) saying that God Almighty said, "I am the best of friends; one who makes others My partners in any matter, his deeds are not acceptable to Me. I accept only those acts that are purely done for My sake." [2]

Hence, it is clear that if the spiritual acts (of the heart) are not performed with sincerity of the heart, they will neither be the object of attention of the Almighty, nor will He acknowledge them, and they will be credited in the account of that partner-the person, for whose sake they were performed. Thus the spiritual acts performed for the sake of somebody else, not for God, will surpass the limits of polytheism, and will enter the domain of kufr (infidelity). It may even be said that the performer of such adulterated acts would be treated as one of the munafiqun.

As his polytheism is not visible, his hypocrisy also is hidden. He, the poor fellow, considers himself to be a believer, whereas in reality he is an idolater, and he is condemned to taste the chastisement prescribed for the munafiqun. How pitiable is the plight of one whose good deeds are to terminate in nifaq.

 

The Difference Between Knowledge and Belief:

Know that faith or belief is something different from the knowledge of God, the Unity of His Being, and His other Attributes--like sifat-e kamaliyyah (the Attributes of Perfection), the Positive(approving) Attributes, sifat-e jalaliyyah (the Attributes of Glory), and the Negative Attributes, etc. and the knowledge of angels, holy scriptures, and the Last Day. Anyone who possesses the knowledge of all these things is not necessarily a believer. The Devil possesses the knowledge of all these things more than I and you or any other individual, but still he is an unbeliever. The faith is a yearning of the heart-an inner experience, which if not genuine, does not become faith. Anyone who has gained knowledge of religion through rational demonstrations and arguments, ought to submit to them whole-heartedly with the totality of his being and obey the call of his heart dutifully i.e. with complete surrender to God, with humility and fear-and accept all the responsibilities expected of him sincerely without any question. Only then he can become a perfect mumin. Culmination of the faith is tranquillity and peace of mind. When the light of faith is stabilized, it brings with it tranquillity of the heart, and this is something which does not issue from knowledge.

It is possible that reason may accept something which is according to its dictates and logic, but the heart may not be ready to agree with it, thus making knowledge useless. For instance, you know through your reason that a dead person cannot do any harm and that all the dead in the world do not possess any power of action, even as much power as is possessed by a fly, and that all the physical and spiritual faculties depart as soon as one is dead; but since your heart has not accepted it and has not approved of the judgement of the mind, you cannot spend a dark night with a dead body. But if your heart yields to your mind and approves of its judgement, this job will no more be difficult(demanding) for you. After some effort the heart resigns to the dictates of reason, then no dread of the dead remains in the heart.

Therefore, it is clear that the submission which is the gratification and reassurance

of the heart is quite a different thing from knowledge, which is the gratification of the mind. It is possible that one can logically prove the existence of the Great Intelligent Designer, the Unity of His Divine Being, the Day of Judgement and other true beliefs, but such a belief cannot be considered as faith (iman), and the person cannot be regarded as a mu'min, but he may be counted among the non-believers, hypocrites and polytheists.

Today my eyes and yours are closed, and we do not possess any divine vision. Our terrestrial eyes are unable to perceive, but when the hidden is revealed and the kingdom of heaven is manifested, the physical world vanishes and reality is disclosed; you will realize that you were not a believer in God, and your rational judgement was not congruous with your faith. Unless the words: ()there is no god except God) are inscribed on the tablet of the heart with the pen of reason, man is not a true believer in the Unity of God. When this sacred and holy dictum is impressed on the heart, the domain of the heart turns by itself into the kingdom of God Almighty. Then only man does not see anyone else as efficient in the realm of truth; he does not expect any rank, any distinction or riches from anybody else; he does not seek for honour and fame(celebrity) with the help of others; and his heart does not become hypocritic and profane. Therefore, if you see that riya' is stealing into your heart, you should realize that your heart has not really surrendered itself to reason, and faith has not illuminated your heart yet; for you consider others to be your God and see them as efficient agents in the world, and you do not trust Him, the only God; it means that you have joined the company of hypocrites, polytheists and idolaters.

 

Dangerous Effects of Riya':

O, you given to riya', who have entrusted your truthful beliefs and religious understanding to the custody(imprisonment) of the enemy of God-the Devil, and have attributed to others what specifically belongs to God, you have exchanged those lights which would have illuminated your heart and spirit, and would have proved to be the source of your salvation and eternal bliss, which would have been responsible for being blessed with Beatific Vision and acquiring Divine nearness, with the dreadful darkness of eternal misfortunes; you have lost the other-worldly treasures, and have alienated yourself from the most sacred threshold of the Beloved, and have deprived yourself of the sight of the visage of the Most High. Be prepared for the darkness, which is not to be followed by any ray of light; the scorn and shame from which there is no release; the diseases which have no cure; the death after which there is no life; and the fire which is ignited from within the depths of the heart to engulf the whole region of your spirit, as well as the realm of the body. It is beyond your capacity and mine to conceive or perceive the intensity of that fire, as God Almighty has mentioned in His Holy Book:

(It is) the fire of Allah, kindled, which leapeth up over the hearts (of men). (104:6-7)

The effect of the fire which is kindled by God will be that it would consume the hearts as well. No fire can consume the heart except that which is kindled in the hell. If the belief in the Unity of God, which is inherently engrained in human nature, is abandoned and is replaced with idolatry and infidelity, no intercession of any intercessor will be available to him, and man will be destined to suffer eternal damnation. What kind of chastisement will it be? It will be the effect of the Divine wrath, issuing from His sense of Honour.

Thus, my friend, do not make yourself an object of the Divine wrath for the sake of an illusion, an insignificant and trivial popularity in the eyes of weak creatures of God, and for the sake of worthless attention of hopeless(disappointed) human beings. Do not make a bargain of those Divine blessings, those infinite favours and benevolences with popularity among people, which is not even effective and long-lasting, from which you cannot derive any benefit except inviting ultimate shame and regret. And while your relations are severed with this world of illusion and deception and you cease to act, no regret and sorrow will be of avail.

 

An Advice for Getting Rid of the Curse of Riya':

What I am going to mention here to you is expected to work effectively for curing this disease of the heart, your as well as others'. It shall be also according to the rational dictates as well as is in conformity with the truths of revelation and tradition of the Ma'sumin (the infallibles). It is as well verifiable on the basis of the teachings of the Quran and your and my reason. God Almighty, by means of His all embracing power and might, which governs the whole universe and is immanent in the realms of all possible beings, takes under His control the hearts of all His servants, as no one is outside the range of His power and the domain of His domination; and no one should occupy the hearts of human beings without His permission and His creative Will; not even the person himself has any control over his own heart without the permission of God Almighty. This fact has been revealed implicitly and explicitly in the Quran as well as the traditions of the members of the Household (Ahl al-Bayt) of the Prophet (S). Hence, God Almighty is the real owner of the hearts and has sovereignty over them, and you, a helpless and weak creature of Him, you cannot claim to be the master of your heart, without His leave. His Will is predominant over ours and other creatures' resolution. Therefore, your hypocrisy and deceit, if it is meant for attracting the attention of His servants and for earning respect and popularity among them, know that it cannot bear any fruits, for this is totally beyond your powers, and it belongs to the jurisdiction of His power. He is the owner and the ruler of the hearts. He makes the hearts of the people a seat of love for whomsoever He likes. It is possible that your act produces a result just contrary to your wish. Pay attention to what we have seen and heard about the double-faced hypocrites, whose hearts were not pure; they were ultimately(in the long run) condemned to be disgraced; whatever they intended, they could not achieve, but something that they did not desire happened to them. The following tradition in al-Kafi points to the same fact:

The narrator of the tradition, Jarrah al-Mada'ini, reports from al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he asked the Imam about the words of the Almighty that `whosoever is desirous of meeting his Creator, he should perform virtuous deeds and should not ascribe any partner to God in his worship,' seeking an explanation. Al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) said, `A person who performs good deeds but not for the sake of being blessed with the vision of his God, his acts are aimed at being considered as pious by the people, and he wishes that people should know about his deeds; such a person is counted among polytheists, who have ascribed partners to God.' The Imam (A) continued: `There is none in the world, who has concealed his good deeds and after passage of time God has not revealed them. And there is none in the world who could conceal his wicked deeds for ever, for they were exposed by God before he passed away from the world.' [3]

Hence, my dear friend! try to be worthy in the eyes of God. Try to win the hearts of the creatures by first pleasing the real owner of the hearts, so that He comes to your rescue. Work for the sake of God. As a consequence God Almighty, besides showering His favours and excellences upon you in the Hereafter, will bestow His honours and favours on you in this world as well, and will befriend you. He will raise your status in the eyes of people and will exalt you in both the worlds. But the only thing that you have to do is to sincerely cultivate the love of God in your heart, untainted and unspoiled(safe and sound), with struggle and effort. Purify your inner self so that your actions also will be pure and untainted by the love of the world or hatred of fellow beings; your spirit should be pure and untainted and all the infirmities and corruptions of the soul should be eliminated. Of what advantage is the love or hatred of the weak creatures of God, and gaining favour and name among them? Even if it has some benefit, it is insignificant and short-lived. It is possible that this love of the world may lead you to hypocrisy, and God forbid, it may convert you into a polytheist or a hypocrite or an unbeliever. If you are not disgraced in this world, you will be surely disgraced in the other world, in Almighty's court of justice, in front of His truthful and worthy servants, in front of His esteemed prophets and those angels who are nearest to God, and you will have to hang down your head in shame, and you will be left in a state of utter helplessness. Can you imagine the disgrace of that day? God alone knows what sort of darkness is to follow that disgrace. It will be the day, as God Almighty has said:

 

... and the disbeliever will cry: 'Would that I were dust'. (78:40)

Then it will be of no good. You, poor fellow, for the sake of a trifling love, for the sake of a fame of no avail among the creatures of God, you did not care for the promised Divine favours and have failed(messed up) to gain His good pleasure, and have incurred His indignation and wrath instead.

The deeds by means of which you could have gained Divine favours, could have secured a happy and blissful life in eternity, and could have attained the highest station in the highest heaven; you have replaced it with the darkness of polytheism and hypocrisy, and have procured for yourself regret, shame and the severest chastisement, and have converted yourself into a 'sijjini' (an inhabitant of the lowest or dungeon of hell) instead. It occurs in the tradition in al-Kafi that it has been reported from al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Prophet (S) said: `Indeed when the angel of God joyously takes to the higher heaven the good deeds of a man, as he carries the good deeds heavenward, God Almighty orders him to place those deeds in 'Sijjin', since they were not performed for Him alone. [4] You and I cannot imagine what 'Sijjin' is, and which kind of demons are appointed there; and you cannot contemplate the horrors inflicted upon the sinners there. And once we have been made to face it, it will not be possible for us to get rid of it, as all the means of repentance shall be cut off. Wake up my friend! and cast away your negligence and carelessness, and weigh your actions in the balance of your reason, before they are weighed and measured in the other world. And cleanse the mirror of your heart of the rust of polytheism, hypocrisy, and two-facedness. Do not allow the rust of impurity of polytheism and infidelity to gather in such a way that it cannot be cleansed with the fire of the other world. Do not allow the light of your nature(environment) to be turned into the gloom of apostasy. Do not be a traitor to yourself and do not destroy what God has entrusted to you, calling it:

...the nature (framed) of Allah in which He hath created man .... (30:30)

Therefore, burnish the mirror of the heart, so that the light of Divine magnificence may be reflected in it, and may make you forget this world and everything in it, and your heart is kindled with the fire of His love, so that all other attachments and associations may be dissolved in such a manner that you do not spurn a single moment for the sake of the worldly things; and you derive such a pleasure from His remembrance that all the animal pleasures may appear to you a gimmick. If you cannot attain this station, even then do not give up the gifts of God that are promised to be given in the next world and are mentioned in the Quran and the traditions of the Ma'sumin (A), for the sake of gaining the short-lived favour of the weak creatures of God. Do not deprive yourself of all the Divine favours and do not make a bargain of the eternal felicity with the everlasting distress.

 

  Sincerity in Action:

Know that the real King of kings, the true Giver of real bounties, has bestowed upon us all these favours. He created all these things for us and prepared them for us even before we came into this world. He made our food a balanced diet and acceptable to our weak stomach-a patron and servant who serves us with an instinctive and natural love. He created for us suitable(apt) climes and weathers and has bestowed upon us all other seen and unseen favours here and in the other world, and after piling up all these gifts for us, He asks us to keep our hearts pure for His occupation, so that we ourselves may be benefited from His presence. In spite of all these warnings and cautions we still do not obey Him and do not pay heed to His words and do not act according to His wish. What an act of gross transgression. With whom are we trying to wage a war, the consequences of which we will have to face? Any slightest harm cannot be caused to His Kingdom, and we cannot exclude ourselves from His reign of power either. If we are acting like the polytheists we are causing harm to ourselves, because:

...Lo! Allah is independent of (all) creatures. (3:97)

He does not need our worship, our service or our obedience. Any disobedience, polytheism and two-facedness on our part will not cause any harm to His Empire, but as He is (the Most Merciful of the merciful), His boundless mercy and compassion, and His perfect wisdom require of us the pursuance of the right path, and for this purpose He made clear the difference between good and evil, beautiful and ugly to us and warned us of the perils and hazards to be met on the road of human perfection and the path of true felicity. We are indebted to God Almighty for this great guidance and we have to show, with all humility, great respect towards Him in our worships, our devotion and our supplications, whose importance we cannot comprehend unless we gain an other-worldly vision. As long as we sojourn in this narrow physical world, confined to the limits of the sequence of time and shackles of space, we cannot comprehend the infiniteness of the realm of His power, and we cannot even thank Him in our prayers and supplications for His guidance. Never let the idea enter our mind, that by our service and devotion we are doing some favour to His prophets, His chosen servants, and the great `ulama' of the Ummah. They are our benefactors, who have taken the charge(levy) of leading the Ummah towards felicity and deliverance, and who have accepted the responsibility of our emancipation from the darkness and shadows of ignorance and misfortunes, taking us towards the realms of light and joy and greatness. What a great responsibility they took upon themselves, and what horrible pains and troubles(nuisance) they underwent for the sake of our instruction, in order to deliver us from those obscurities and darknesses, that were the result of vain beliefs and compound ignorance, and the chastisements that were to befall us as a result of our bad habits and villainies. They wanted to save(salvage) us from those hideous forms and dreadful figures in the other world that would be the outcome of our wicked deeds, and they helped us to reach the regions of light, joy and comfort and the spheres of serenity and composure, whose image our mind would fail to visualize. This physical world in spite of its vastness is so limited and narrow that we cannot imagine a heavenly houri with our this-worldly vision. Our vision does not possess enough power to behold the magnificence(splendor) of that world, which has been described in the speeches of the holy prophets of God, especially in the all-embracing revelations of the Khatim al-nabiyyin (Seal of the prophets), who perceived those truths through Divine revelations, saw them, heard them, and then asked us to them. And we, like recalcitrant children, disobey the commands of the wise, and even do not pay heed to the dictates of our own reason, always being more than ready to oppose the Divinely guided ones. And those sanctified pious souls, out of the love and kindness that they possessed for the creatures of God, did never fall(collapse) short of their duty, did never appeal to our meaner and baser faculties by bribing them to attract us towards heaven and felicity; they never tried to make us yield through intimidation or force. They did not either demand any remuneration or reward for the services they rendered. The remuneration asked by the Prophet (S) (kindness for his kinsfolk), which is not really a payment for his services, is also meant for our own benefit, being the brightest of our achievements in the next world. Our sense of indebtedness to them in fact serves ourselves and we are benefited more from it than they are. How are they benefited by the righteous acts of poor beings like us? In what way will our sincerity and obedience do them any good? In what way do you and I consider our humble selves benefactors of the guides of the Ummah, from an ordinary faqih to the great Prophet (S) and God Almighty? All of them have in their own right fulfilled their function of guiding us and showing the right path, for which we are indebted to them and even a fraction of it we cannot pay back in this world. Nothing of this world is worthy of the repayment of their debt: (It is to God, His Prophet (S), and His saints to whom all owe gratitude), as God Almighty has said:

... Say: Deem not your surrender a favour unto me; nay, but Allah does confer a favour on you, inasmuch as He hath led you to the faith, if ye are earnest. Lo. Allah knows the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is Seer of what you do. (49:17-18)

Hence, if we are sincere in our faith in God, it is in itself a favour bestowed upon us by God. God Almighty is Omniscient, and has the knowledge of the hidden. He is Omniscient, knows the inner, hidden reality of all our actions, and He is fully aware of the nature of our faith and the extent and degree of our submission to His Will.

We, the helpless creatures, who do not know the reality, our knowledge from the faqih and think that we have done favour to him. We offer congregational prayers behind an `alim, and we assume that we have conferred a favour on him, whereas, in fact, we are indebted to him. We do not realize this, and, therefore, this faulty outlook turns the effects of our deeds upside down and drags us into `Sijjin' making our actions worthless.

 

The Second Stage of Riya':

At this stage, though riya' is of lesser intensity than it is at the first stage, but it is possible that if the hypocrite does not heed the warnings, and repeatedly behaves in the same way (the riya' of action) it is likely to terminate in the riya' of the former stage-the riya' of faith. We have already mentioned in the exposition of the previous tradition that in the `Alam al-malakut (the celestial world) man may have a different form other than the human form. Those forms will be in accordance with the state of one's soul and its traits. If you possess good human qualities, in the other world those qualities will retain you in the human form, provided they are not deviated from the path of moderation(self-control). Good faculties will be considered as true merits only when the sensual self does not interfere with them, and the self does not play any role in their formation. Our respected teacher and shaykh Ayatullah Shahabadi used to say that the measure of the false and invalid spiritual practice and true religious spiritual struggle is as to what extent selfishness is involved in such practices, i.e. whether all spiritual effort is for God or for selfish motives. If the wayfarer on the heavenly journey treads a selfish path and his spiritual exercises are meant for acquiring powers for worldly ends, his efforts are rendered invalid, and his suluk (progress on mystic path) will lead him to the calamity of the other world. The false claims of spirituality are usually made by such people. And if the wayfarer treads the right path, and is genuinely in search of God, his devotion is within the bounds of the Shari'ah, and God will help him, as promised in the following verse of the Quran:

As for those who strive for Us, We surely guide them to Our paths .... (29:69)

Hence, his actions will lead him to felicity; egoism will be eliminated and self-conceit and pride will recede. This is quite clear that anyone who demonstrates his good deeds before people, his aim is a selfish aim, and he will be branded as a selfish, self-conceited, egoistic and egocentric person, and his godliness will be considered as nothing but false and pretentious, which will invalidate his good deeds. As the domain of your existence is replete with the feelings of self-love, the lust for wealth, power and fame(celebrity), and the wish for ruling over the creatures of God, your good deeds and your excellences cannot be adjudged as virtuous deeds, and your moral behaviour is far away(far apart)  from truly religious morality. The operating force in your realm is satanic and your inner state is not a human condition. When you will open your eyes in the other world, you will perceive yourself in an unhuman form, similar to one of those of the devils. For such selves, which are dens of the Satan, it is impossible to gain religious knowledge and learn the spirit of tawhid. Unless the realm of your inner self is converted into a human state and your heart is purged of impurities and unholiness, you cannot be benefited from spiritual exercises, as God Almighty states in a hadith qudsi:

There is no clearer sign(beckoned) in the earth and in the heavens of the elegance of the Beloved than the heart of a true believer (mu'min).

The believer's heart is in the occupation of God, not at the disposal of the self. The heart of the believer is not self-willed, nor is it vagrant. It is said of it:

The heart of the true believer (mu'min) lies between two fingers of God, that He may turn it whatever way He pleases.

O you, the poor creature, who worships the self and the Devil and ignorance are the agencies operating in the realm of your heart, you yourself have prevented(disallowed) the hands of God from handling your heart. What sort of faith you are required to possess that your heart be the object of Divine illumination, absolute rule of the Truth may prevail there? Make it a point that unless you change yourself, and as long as the bad habit of ostentatiousness and vanity dominates your deeds, you will be branded as an unbeliever and you will be grouped with the munafiqun (hypocrites), even though you imagine yourself to be a believer in God and as one who has resigned himself to the Will of God.

 

The Value of Human Existence as a Trustee of Divine Honour:

My friend! wake up from the slumber of forgetfulness and carelessness, be aware, do not let sleep overtake your senses, and know that God Almighty has created you for His own sake, as stated in one hadith qudsi:

O progeny of Adam, We have made everything for you and you for Our service.

He has made your heart His own habitation. You and your hearts are the abodes of Divine Honour. God Almighty is intolerant regarding His Dignity and Honour. Do not be careless in this regard, and do not justify any violation of the Divine principles; and be afraid of His retribution so that you may not be disgraced and made infamous in this world in such a way that despite all efforts you are not able to undo what may befall you. You are guilty of violation of Divine Honour in your heart that belongs to the celestial world, in front of the angels of God and His prophets. The moral excellences through which the saints of God (awliya' Allah) acquired resemblance to Him, are being surrendered by you to others than God, and you are surrendering your heart, the seat of God, to His enemy, thus committing shirk (polytheism) in the heart of your hearts. Be afraid of God Almighty, Who besides bringing down your other-worldly image and degrading you in front of His angels and His prophets, will also expose and dishonour you in this world itself and you will be condemned to unmeasured indignity which shall be also irreparable, and irremediable, an infamy that cannot be redressed. God Almighty is Sattar, He conceals the sins, but He is jealous also. He is -the Most Merciful of the merciful, but at the same time He is the severest of the punishers also. He Himself says that He covers up bad deeds as long as they do not cross certain limits. God forbid, lest the gravity of your deeds should arouse His anger(frenzy) and should it overcome His tolerance and willingness to conceal sins, as you have read in the hadith.

Hence, come to your senses, seek refuge in God and turn back to Him, for God Almighty is the Compassionate and always seeks for an excuse to shower His mercy. If you ask for His forgiveness, He will readily forgive you, and will cover up your blemishes and past deeds, so that no one will be able to know about them, and He will make you a man of great distinctions, a paragon of virtues and an image of His Attributes. He will make your will consummate in the next world as His own Will is executed throughout the cosmos. It is narrated in a hadith that when the people are placed in the Paradise, a message from the Almighty will be given to them and its purport will be as follows: `From the One who is Eternal and Immortal to him who is also eternal and immortal: Whatever I desire to bring into existence I command it to be and it comes into being; from this hour it has been decreed that you also command whatever you desire to bring into existence and your wish would be obeyed.'

Therefore, do not be egocentric, and subordinate your will to the Will of God Almighty; He will then make you an instrument and manifestation of His Will. He will give you power in the realms under His control, and bestow upon you the capacity to create in the Hereafter. (Of course, this is not the same as tafwid, which is a false notion, as proved elsewhere.)

Now, my friend, do as you please; either accept it or reject it. But know, that God Almighty is not in need of you or me or any other creature, and He has no need of our service and sincerity.

  Riya' in Worship:

The third stage also is divided into several sections.

 

Section I:

The riya' of this kind is more common and manifest than those mentioned above. Because we ordinary(mediocre) human beings usually do not belong to the above-mentioned two states. For this reason, the Devil cannot get hold of us in the way he encroaches upon those who belong to the other states. But since the majority of the worshippers express their devotion to God through formal prayers, the Devil commonly intervenes at this stage more frequently. Sensual temptations are also commoner at this stage. In other words, since such type of people tend to seek the physical pleasures of heaven through their actions, and they aspire to attain higher station by performing good deeds and abstaining from performing wicked ones, the Devil finds an access through this way; and he nurtures the roots of riya' and deceit with great care, so that it may bear the fruits that are desired by him. He transforms their virtues into vices, and makes them to enter hell through the path of ritual worship. The acts by means of which they aim to secure paradise for themselves are transformed by him into the means of their destruction and doom. The deeds which would have led one to `Illiyyin-the highest heaven, are so distorted that their performer is thrown into Sijjin by angels at the command of God. Therefore, persons who lay greater emphasis on this aspect (i.e. formalistic) and ignore other aspects, have nothing except apparently(plainly) good deeds to secure salvation in the next world; they are required to be more cautious, so that this provision also may not be snatched away from their hands and they may not be consigned to the flames of hell and deprived of felicity for ever. They should watch over their acts lest the doors of heaven be closed and the doors of hell be opened to them.

 

How to Combat Riya'?

Most often the sanctimonious person himself does not know that this particular vice has penetrated his deeds and his deeds have now assumed hypocritical proportions and hence become worthless. Because the temptations of the Devil and the self are so unobservably shadowy and subtle and the path of humanity is so delicate and tenuous that unless anyone is extremely discriminate, he cannot understand their inherent evil. He imagines that his actions are meant for pleasing God, whereas they are serving the interests of the Devil. Since man is naturally created self-centered, the veil of self-love and egoism covers his flaws and vices from his own eyes. God willing, we shall also discuss this subject while commenting upon certain other ahadith; I ask for God's help in this regard.

For instance, the acquisition of religious knowledge, is one of the important religious duties and a kind of worship; but a man busy attaining excellence in this field is liable to fall an easy prey to the vice of riya', which seizes his heart in such a way that he himself is not aware and the same thick curtain of self-love obstructs his vision. He desires to gain an important position in the eyes of great scholars and men of distinction and honour, by solving an important problem in such a way that no other person has solved it before; he tries to project himself as a person distinguished from others by presenting the subject in a unique way, to make himself the focus of everyone's attention; with an air of self-assurance, he assumes that if anyone among the scholars and dignitaries eulogizes him in flattering terms, he will be able to receive the applause and praise of the whole gathering. The poor fellow fails to realize that even if he earns worldly fame and honour among scholars or the elite, he will be disgraced in the eyes of the King of kings, and these actions of his will lead him to Sijjin. This act of riya' is also accompanied with some other vices, like the wish for humiliating and insulting(offending) others, or injuring the feelings of his brother in faith, or sometimes being rude to a believer; each one of these vices is enough for landing him in hell. If again your deceptive self falls in the snares of its own guiles and succeeds in convincing you that your aim has been to make known a tenet of Shari'ah and pronouncing the word of truth, which is one of the most meritorious acts of religious devotion, and that you do not aim at demonstrating your spiritual superiority, you ought to interrogate your self by asking that if a friend(mate) of yours had solved the same religious issue in a better way and had defeated you in the gathering of those scholars and highly placed persons, even then would you have taken the same position? If it is so, you were true to your own self. But if your self again is bent upon deceiving others and does not refrain from committing another treachery and contends that the utterance of truth is a meritorious act, and possesses a spiritual reward also, and that it is in your interest to attain an elevated station in the Hereafter, you are advised to ask your self: Suppose if God Almighty accords you the real glory for your foiled in case you gracefully accept it, would you still desire to prevail? If you see that your self loves to dominate others in academic discussion for gaining publicity among the scholars for your knowledge and scholarship, and the discussion that you undertake is aimed at winning others' respect and honour, then know that the intellectual discourse, which is the highest form of worship and prayer, is transformed into the sinful act of riya', which, according to the narration of al-Kafi, will lead you to Sijjin, you are classed as a polytheist, and this act was performed with the motive of gaining respect in the eyes of the people. This act of yours, according to a tradition, will cause more harm to your faith than the harm done by two wolves who attack(raid) a herd(drove) of sheep without a shepherd from both sides. Therefore, you who are a scholar and responsible for reforming the Ummah and paving the way to the Hereafter, and curing spiritual infirmities, it is necessary for you first to correct(accurate) yourself and maintain a sound spiritual state, so that you do not fall under the category of the scholars who do not act upon what they profess.

Pray to God Almighty to purify our hearts of the stains of polytheism and hypocrisy, and cleanse the mirror of our hearts of the rust of the love of the world, which is the source of all vices. O God! kindly help us and protect us helpless beings, afflicted with the disease of vanity and the lust for power and honour, and guard us in this hazardous journey(trip) along the intricacies of the labyrinthine dark path, O the Mightiest and the Most Powerful.

 

Riya' in Congregational Prayers:

Congregational prayer is an eminent form of Islamic worship, and the leader of this prayer holds a distinctive position of honour. For this reason, Satan also intrudes more in this worship. He is much more envious of the imam (leader) of the jama'ah (congregation) than anybody else. He is always busy finding the ways of keeping away the believers from receiving this Divine honour, and deprives their action of the element of sincerity and truth and drives them to Sijjin. He tries to convert them into polytheists, and for this purpose he invades the hearts of the imams through various means, such as `ujb (self admiration), which we shall discuss later on, and riya', which is a display of religiosity through this significant worship for impressing the people, gaining publicity, and earning their admiration and respect; for instance, when an imam sees that a certain pious person is attending the congregational prayer, he tries to make an ostentation of his humility and devotion in order to capture his attention and win his admiration; he tries to find various ways of mentioning him in the gatherings of 'people not present in the congregation; in order to show his importance, he drags the name of that pious man again and again and tries to inform the people about his presence as a follower in the congregational prayer; thus, he tries to create a false impression of a close association with him, especially if he belongs to the business class, and expresses such a great love and friendship for him which he never expressed even for a single moment for God or His favoured servants. And if, God forbid, any of the aristocrats loses his way and comes to pray with the congregation, it is a bigger disaster. The Devil is not unmindful, of the leader of a small congregation either. He approaches him and makes him aware that he is so unmindful of worldly gains that he is content to spend his time in a small local mosque of a poor neighbourhood. This feeling is also similar to the first, or even worse than that; as the vice of jealousy spreads its tentacles in the hearts of such people, who do not enjoy the bounties of this world; the Devil deprives them of the glories of the other world too, and they are condemned to suffer in both the worlds. At the same time, the Devil, does not lose his grip on the collars of people like you and me, who have no access to the leadership of a congregation, and who lament the absence of proper means; he makes us doubt the utility of congregations of Muslims, and makes us scorn and flout them. We may be led to look upon our failure to capture a congregation as otherworldly seclusion, and ourselves as free from love of station and honour. Then we become worse than both of the groups, we neither belong to the first category of people, who enjoy the good things of this life, nor do we belong to the second category, whose achievements are comparatively humbler; nor do we have any claim to the next world; nevertheless if we get an opportunity, we might prove to be more power-hungry, honour-thirsty, and greedy than either of the groups.

 

How Does Riya' Infiltrate the Ranks of the Congregation?

The Satan is not content with dragging the leader of the congregation to the hell. His lust is not satiated with that. He infiltrates the ranks of the worshippers also. Since the first row is ample esteemed than other rows, and its right wing superior to the left, he makes them his target more often than any other row. He attracts the pious towards the right part of the first row, and incites them to pose to be superior to others in the eyes of the people. The helpless fellow, unconscious of the Satan's whispering, tries to demonstrate his superiority through a sanctimonious glance or gesture, which displays his inner polytheism, which is enough for sending him to Sijjin. From here, the Satan then steals into other rows to allure other people on account of his awkward gestures and funny behaviour a devotee becomes the target of jeer and sneer of others, who consider themselves to be free from all sort of faults. Sometimes it has been observed that a respectable person, especially a scholar of rare distinction and high intellectual calibre, is made to sit by the Devil in the last row, in order to make people realize that though his position is much higher, but since he does not care for worldly position and is free of self-esteem, he has come to sit in the last row. Some people of this kind will never be seen sitting in the first row.

The Satan is not gorged  with influencing the imam and his followers; he sometimes catches hold of one of the loners by the beard, persuading him to leave his house or shop, and by means of his allurements he launches him into a corner of the mosque over a prayer mat. For such a man, no imam is `adil, or qualified to lead prayers. The Satan makes him perform a prolonged prostration and ruku` and an extended prayer. In his heart of hearts, this individual wishes to make people believe that he is pious and conscientious to such a degree that he avoids the congregation, so that he may not be trapped(jammed) into following an unjust imam. This person, alongside(besides) being conceited and sanctimonious, is also ignorant of the laws of the Shari'ah. The marji` taqlid (legal authority) whom he follows may not have laid any condition for praying behind an imam except acceptability of his outward behaviour. But the loner is not concerned with that, for his real motive is riya'. He merely wants to present himself as a man of piety in order to gain the favour and admiration of people.

In the same way, our other activities also are interfered with by the Satan. This damned creature, whenever he finds a murky heart, he makes it his resting place and tries to spoil our visible(evident) and invisible deeds, and transforms our good deeds into such as lead us directly to the hell.

 

 An Invitation to Sincerity:

My friend, be judicious and careful in your actions. Demand from yourself an account of every deed. Cross-examine yourself for every detail; try to evaluate your deeds through introspection whether they were meant for the realization of virtue or motivated otherwise. What motivated you to ask questions about mid-night prayers? Was it purely for the sake of God with an intention to perform such prayers, or for projecting your image as a deeply religiously person? Why is it that you are eager to inform others about your pilgrimage by all possible means and about the number of times you undertook it? Why are you not content with confining your charitable deeds to yourself alone, and what do you want to gain by informing the others of your acts of charity, for as soon as you find an opportunity you announce them? If it is undertaken for the sake of God, and you intend that people should imitate you, and you think in terms of (the one who shows the path of virtue is as worthy as-the doer of it) while performing this deed, its display is justified; thank God, for He has enabled you to act with a clear conscience and pure heart. But beware of the guiles of Satan while interrogating your self, for he can project the acts adulterated with riya' as selfless and sacred. If your action is not for the sake of God, then it is better to abstain from doing what you have been doing, for it amounts to sum`ah, i.e. advertisement of false virtues, which is a branch of the accursed tree of riya'; for God Almighty does not approve of it and condemns its perpetrator to Sijjin. We ought to seek refuge in God from the vice of deceit, whose guiles are very subtle. We have a general idea that our deeds are not pure and sincere, because had we been His true servants, why does the Devil, despite promising not to impede the actions of His true servants, disturb our sanctity and make us an instrument of his evil designs? In the words of my respected teacher, the Devil is the watchdog of the Almighty's court; he does not bark at the person who is near to God, and does not bother him. As the watchdog does not drive the friends of the master away from the house, in the same way, the Satan also recognizes God's friends, and does not allow any stranger to get access to Him. Therefore, whenever you realize that the Satan interferes in your affairs, you should immediately know that your actions are not performed with sincere intentions and are not meant for the Almighty. If you are a sincere believer in God, why doesn't your tongue pour forth words of wisdom, coming from the heart? For about forty years you imagine that you have been performing virtuous deeds in order to please God, whereas it occurs in a hadith that whosoever remains faithful to God for forty days, springs of wisdom emanate from his heart. This is, therefore, a sign for us to comprehend that our deeds were not performed for the sake of God, though we ourselves are not conscious(alert) of it, and this is the main cause of our irremediable sickness.

Pitiable is the condition of the devotees, worshippers, leaders and followers of Friday congregations and men of high knowledge and learning! When they will open their eyes in the court of the Most High on the Day of Judgement, they will come to know that they are not only among the sinners, perpetrators of major sins, but even worse than infidels and idolaters, and their record of deeds even darker than theirs.

It is a matter of pity for a person that his prayers and other devotional acts should serve as fuel for the fires of hell. May God save us from the moment when, in spite of one's alms-giving and zakat and piety, one's appearance will be distorted to such hideousness that it is not even imaginable. You, a helpless creature, are branded as a mushrik, an idolater, and a sinner despite your belief in the Unity of God. God willing, He will forgive the sinners by His mercy, but for the mushrik He has said that He will not forgive him if he dies without repentance.

It is stated in the ahadith that one used to Riya'-the one who makes a display of his religiosity, devotion, high religious status, his preaching and leading of prayers, his fasting, his namaz and even his pious deeds for the sake of gaining respect in the hearts of people is a polytheist. His shirk (idolatry) is confirmed by the traditions of the Imams of the Holy Household (A) and the Quranic text, and hence his sin is unpardonable. It would have been better for you to be among the perpetrators of major sins, to be one notorious for his evil conduct and perpetration of obvious indignities, while being a monotheist, instead of becoming a polytheist.

Now, my friend, introspect seriously and find some remedy to cure your (spiritual) sickness, and realize the futility of acquiring honour in human hearts, a small piece(slice) of flesh which will not satisfy a bird's appetite. These weak creatures possess no power, and their estimation is insignificant. The real power is to be sought in Him; He is the Absolute Cause of all causes-the Ultimate Cause. Even if all creatures make a joint effort to create a single mosquito, they will not be successful(blooming) in doing so, and if the mosquito causes them a slight harm they will not be able to avert it if God does not will so.

All power belongs to the Almighty. He is the Mover of the universe. Whenever you do something and make an effort to perform something, inscribe on your heart with the pen of reason: (no one is effective in the realm of existence except God).

By all possible means equip your heart with the principle of unity of Divine Action (tawhid-e af'ali), which is the first stage of the belief in the Unity of Being, and thus convert it into the heart of a true believer. Illuminate your heart with the holy dictum of: (there is no god but Allah); and mould it accordingly. Lead your heart to the stage of tranquility (itminan), and make it realize that human beings can cause neither harm nor good, and that God alone is capable(competent) of doing any harm or good to anybody. Cure your vision, which suffers from blindness so that you are not raised blind on the Day of Judgement and complain to the Almighty (My Lord! wherefore have You raised me (here) blind ...? [20:125]).The Will of the Almighty prevails over the wills of other beings. If your heart surrenders to these holy words, and has faith in them, this can be hoped that your deeds will be rewarded and all the traces of polytheism, Riya', infidelity and hypocrisy will be wiped out from the face of your heart. This profound faith is in accordance with reason and revelation, and there are no traces of determinism (jabr) present in it. It is possible that some people who do not know the meaning, the basic principles and ingredients of determinism may mistake it as such, whereas it is not jabr but tawhid. Determinism is a kind of shirk; whereas tawhid is right guidance, determinism is misguidance. This occasion is not proper for discussing determinism and freedom. But those who fully understand this issue can appreciate the import of what I say. Moreover, the Prophet (S) has asked us not to indulge in such discourses. Anyway, ask God Almighty, through supplication and humble entreaties all the time, especially in loneliness, to guide you and to illuminate your heart with the light of tawhid. Ask Him to endow you with the vision of the hidden, the perception of the unity (in diversity)-the Unity of Divine Being, so that you may not attach importance to anything else and consider every other thing as insignificant and trifle. Beseech His Holy Essence to make your actions pure and sincere, and lead you to the path of sincerity and love. And if you have reached such a spiritual station that your prayers are responded and you can do something for this helpless creature of God, who has squandered his life in meaningless pursuits, devoid of any real purpose, hankering after desires and lusts, whose sins have sickened the heart to a point where no exhortation, advice, Quranic verse, or tradition of the Prophet (S), or argument or wise saying can have any effect, do pray for him; may be your prayer shall secure his deliverance. God never turns away a believer from His court, and He grants his prayers. By ever remembering these things, which you already know and which are also not new to you, be heedful and sincere from within the heart, and, without ceasing, critically reevaluate your movements, pauses, and your behaviour. Always scrutinize your secret intentions, and strictly take account of everything in the same manner as one business partner is accountable to the other. Abstain from everything that resembles riya' and simulation, however virtuous it may appear to be. Even in the matter of obligatory religious duties, if you believe that you cannot perform them sincerely in public, perform them secretly, though it is preferable to perform them openly. It is rare for riya' to occur in obligatory duties themselves; more often it relates to their mode of performance and to acts which are mustahabb or supererogatory. In any case, purge your heart from the dirt of polytheism with perfect solemnness and severest self-criticism, lest, God forbid, you should pass away from this world in this state that your performance is deplorable, and there is no hope of salvation for you. Then you will invite the wrath of God, as mentioned in the tradition quoted in Wasa'il al-Shi'ah from Qurb al- asnad, and reported from Amir al-mu'minin `Ali (A):

Amir al-mu'minin 'Ali (A) reports that the Prophet (S) said: "One who does some act liked by God in order to show off to people, and in secret manifests such qualities as are abominations to God, he shall encounter God's anger and wrath [ on the Day of Resurrection]." [5]

There are two probable interpretations of this hadith. Firstly, it is about such a person who presents himself as paragon of virtue before people, while his inner self is immersed in ugly vices. Secondly, it may be about a person who performs outwardly virtuous deeds with the intention of Riya'. In any case, it is obvious(noticeable) that the hadith condemns riya', because the performance of the obligatory acts and duties if not motivated by riya', cannot be the object of Divine wrath. In all probability the second meaning is closer to the import of the hadith, as the open performance of wicked deeds is a greater evil.

This is a warning for us to be cautious lest, God forbid, we do something to incur the wrath of the King of kings and the Most Merciful of the merciful: 

 

A Tradition of Imam `Ali (A):

We conclude this section with a tradition reported from the commander of the pious, Amir al-mu'minin (A), recorded in al-Kafi. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq has also reported the same tradition from al-Imam al-Sadiq (A), which forms a part of the last will and testament of the Prophet (S) to 'Ali (A):

Said al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that Amir al-mu'minin (A) said: `There are three distinguishing features of one accustomed to riya': he expresses joy and cheerfulness when he is greeted by people; he becomes cheerless and sullen when alone; and he wishes to be praised for everything he does.' [6]

Since this vice is so hidden and subtle that it remains unnoticed by the person himself, he is unaware of the fact that inwardly he is a hypocrite, and he imagines his actions to be pure and untainted. Therefore, the signs of this characteristic have been described so that men should be able to identify their hidden motives by examining their inner self in their light and be able to prevent and treat them accordingly. An individual may introspect and know that he is not inclined to perform his religious duties when he is alone; even if with great compulsion he forces himself to perform them, or even if he performs them habitually, he does not perform with real sincerity and purity of heart, but rather as a physical exercise; but while performing his prayer in the mosque, in the congregation of the people and in the presence of others, he becomes animated, performing his prayer with utmost joy and enthusiasm. He is inclined to perform long and protracted ruku`s and prostrations; he performs the mustahabb actions properly, caring about their minutest particulars. If one pays a little attention to one's inner state, one may come to know the reason for this vigour. Why is it so that he spreads the net of his (pretended) piety for catching the attention of people? He may mislead himself by saying that he is more pleased with praying in the mosque, as it is more meritorious to do so, and that it brings more rewards also. He will convince himself by saying that it is preferable to say prayer in a better way in front of others, in order that they may follow his example and be attracted towards the religion. Man deceives himself by all means and never thinks of correcting himself. For a sick person who considers himself to be sound there is no hope of being cured. The ill-fated man's innermost being not only secretly aims to parade his good deeds before people, remaining unconscious of its inner urge, but is also bent upon presenting his sin as worship and his conceit as propagation of religion, despite the fact that the performance of the mustahabbat prayers is mustahabb in seclusion. Why is it that your self always responds in public, and why do you relish weeping out of the fear of God in the gathering of people, though in loneliness in spite of squeezing your eyes you cannot bring out a single tear? Where is the fear of God? Does it grip you in the gatherings of people only? Does it overwhelm you only on the occasion of the Nights of Great Value ( ) in front of several thousands of people? Such a man offers one hundred rak`ah's of namaz and recites the Du`a-i Jawshan-i Kabir and Du`a-i Jawshan-i Saghir in addition(adding up) to several surahs of the Quran and is not bored and does not feel the slightest weariness. If man performs something purely for the sake of God or for gaining His blessings, or out of fear of hell or in the hope of heaven, why should he desire that his deeds be praised by men and admired by them? His ears are all the time eager to listen something in his praise, and his heart is after those who observe his devotion and notice how venerable(dignified) this gentleman is, for he is so punctual about the prayer and is so concerned about the supererogatory duties. If your deeds are meant for God, what does this exaggerated(staged) craving mean? If the fear of hell and the hope of heaven force you to perform these deeds, what does this love of publicity mean? You ought to realize that this desire issues from the accursed and abominable tree of riya'. Therefore, try as much as you can to purify yourself of these absurd inclinations (to the extent possible), and try to reform yourself.

 

Variation in Grades and Degrees of Qualities among Different Individuals:

At this stage it is essential to remind you that each one of the qualities of the soul, both the good ones and the bad, has numerous grades and degrees. Those who virtues and give up vices are grouped with the `urafa', saints and friends of God (awliya' Allah). As for other individuals, the nature of vices and virtues is determined by the spiritual station to which they belong. It may be that the qualities which are considered to be vices for those belonging to higher spiritual station are not considered vices for those belonging to a lower stage. On the contrary, in a way, they may even be regarded as their accomplishments. And similarly the qualities that are regarded as virtues for the people of a lower category may be vices for men of a higher category. Riya' is also one of such (relative) vices that we are discussing presently. Authenticity (ikhlas) is the highest stage of freedom from riya' and is typical of the saints (awliya' Allah); others do not share this quality. The common people generally attain a lower stage of it, and this does not harm their iman or ikhhlas, because, generally, they have a natural inclination that their virtues be known to others. Though they may not have intentionally performed them for the sake of demonstrating them, but their self is instinctively inclined to make them known. This tendency does not annul their action, nor does it make them infidels, hypocrites (munafiqun) or polytheists either. But the same trait is considered to be a shortcoming in the case of a wali or `arif bi-Allah, as for them it amounts to nifaq or shirk. Absolute purification from the impurity of polytheism and obtaining perfect authenticity (ikhlas) of devotion is essentially a primary, condition for attaining the stage reserved for awliya' Allah, and there are even higher stages which they can attain, but, here, it would be out of place to go into these details. Our Imams, upon whom be peace, have declared that their worship was the worship of emancipated souls (ahrar), which was performed for the sake of love of God alone, neither due to the fear of hell nor in the hope of heaven; and they considered this stage to be the first step of their wilayah. To them worship is a state of ecstasy and rapture which is beyond the reach of our imagination and understanding. Apart from the above-mentioned ahadith narrated from the Prophet (S) and Amir al-mu'minin (A), there is another hadith also, reported by Zurarah from imam Abu Ja'far (A), which is as follows:

Zurarah reports that he questioned al-Imam al-Baqir (A) about the status of a person who performed good deeds, which were seen by others and it made him happy. Said the Imam (A): "There is no harm in it; there is no one who does not like that his good deeds be made known to the people, in case he does not perform them [solely] for the sake of attracting their admiration. [7]

In one of the two ahadith, the tendency of performing good deeds for the sake of earning respect and admiration is considered as the sign of riya', while in another hadith it is stated that there is no harm in the joy resulting from the demonstration of a good deed. These two different positions are taken in view(surrounding) of the category to which an individual belongs. There are certain other reasons also for such a view, but we shall abstain from mentioning them.

 

What is Sum'ah ?

At the end, it is to be noted that sum`ah means to orally transmit one's good qualities to the ears of people for the purpose of attracting them and publicizing oneself, and this tendency is a branch of the vicious tree of riya'. For the same reason we have dealt with sum'ah as a part of riya', not as a distinct vice, and have not elaborated its meaning separately.

[1]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 402.

[2]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 450.

[3]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 453.

[4]. Ibid., vol. 2, the chapter concerning riya'.

[5]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah.

[6]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 295.

[7]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 297.

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni) from 'Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from 'Ali ibn Asbat, from Ahmad ibn 'Umar al-Hallal, from 'Ali ibn Suwayd from Abu al-Hasan (Al-Imam al-Rida [A]): Says 'Ali ibn Suwayd that he asked Abu al-Hasan (A) about the 'Ujb (self-conceit, vanity) that vitiates the quality of human deeds. Said the Imam (A), "There are several levels of 'ujb, one of them is when one's bad qualities appear to him as good; he reckons them as good ones and congratulates himself imagining that he is performing virtues. Another level of 'ujb is represented by a person who believes in God and thinks that he has done a favour to God; whereas God Almighty has conferred a favour on him (by endowing him with faith). (Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p. 313)

 

What is `Ujb?

In the opinion of the `ulama'-may God be pleased with them-`ujb is magnification of one's virtues and good deeds, their overestimation, and satisfaction with them accompanied with a feeling of superiority on their account, while one exonerates and exculpates himself from all failings and faults. But to feel pleasure(feast) and delight on performing virtuous deeds accompanied with a sense of humility and modesty before God and gratitude to God for His favours, and to ask Him to increase them, is not 'ujb, but is a praiseworthy (mamduh) trait. The great compiler of hadith, al-'Allamah al-Majlisi--may his grave be filled with fragrance-quotes the great scholar and thinker al-Shaykh Baha' al-Din al-'Amili (R) as having said,

There is no doubt that when anyone performs good deeds, like fasting, night vigils, etc., he feels some kind of joy and pleasure within him. This pleasure and joy, if it is on account of the feeling that God Almighty has conferred on him favour and grace, which caused him to perform such acts of piety, while he is afraid of their loss and is anxious about their disappearance, and asks God Almighty for their continuity and abundance-this kind of exultation and gladness is not 'ujb. But if the exultation and pride is felt on account of the belief that he is the doer of such deeds and that it is he who possesses all such good qualities, and if he glorifies his own deeds with confidence in his goodness, considering himself to be free from all faults and vices, it reaches such a point that one believes that he is conferring some favour upon God in performing these deeds. This feeling of exultation and pride is 'ujb.

In my opinion, this definition of 'ujb is correct, but the deeds and actions referred to should be considered to include the external as well as the internal acts, and at the same time to apply both to good and bad actions. Because, while affecting the bodily or external actions 'ujb also affects one's inner (mental and spiritual) actions also and corrupts them. In the same way as a virtuous person may become conceited and vain about his good deeds, so also the doer of wicked deeds may think highly of his qualities, and feel proud of himself on their account. The tradition explicitly mentions both of them, as they are frequently ignored by a majority of men. We shall discuss them in the course of our discourse.

This should also be remembered that the delight which is considered to be different from 'ujb and is reckoned among praiseworthy qualities, is according to its specific nature, as will be explained in the subsequent discussion.

'Ujb has various degrees, as is also indicated by the hadith; the following are some of them:

First Degree: 'Ujb with regard to faith and belief in true doctrines; its opposite is the 'ujb in kufr (infidelity), shirk (polytheism), and fallacious creeds.

Second Degree: The 'ujb in good traits and qualities, as opposed to the 'ujb in moral vices and ugly qualities.

Third Degree: The 'ujb in pious deeds and good actions, as opposed to the 'ujb in abominable deeds and repulsive acts.

There are certain other degrees also, but they are not so significant(considerable) as to be put in a separate class; we shall, by the help of the Almighty, discuss these three degrees of `ujb, their causes, the ways of their remedy and cure.

 

The `Ujb of the Faithful:

Among the above-mentioned states of `ujb, some of them can be clearly(unmistakably)  detected if one tries to discover them and pays a little attention and is vigilant; but some others, being very subtle and concealed, cannot be detected unless one is carefully critical of oneself and minutely analyzes one's deeds and actions. Certain stages are more dangerous and fatal than the other stages.

The first and foremost stage which is the extreme and most fatal kind of `ujb is a state in which the person believes to have conferred a favour on his Supreme Benefactor, the King of kings, by having faith in Him, or by performing the duties enjoined by Him. He imagines that through his belief he has caused the boundaries of the kingdom of Heaven to expand, or he has contributed to the splendour and magnificence of the Religion of Truth by having faith in Him. He thinks that by propagating and disseminating His message, preaching His Shari'ah, His laws or His doctrine, or by enjoining good behaviour and forbidding evil conduct or by implementing the hudud prescribed by Him, or by his sermons from the pulpit or his prayers in the niche, he is imparting a certain splendour and glory to His religion. Or he also may think that by joining the congregation of Muslims, or by holding the mourning ceremonies to commemorate the tragedy of al-Imam al-Husayn's martyrdom, he is glorifying the religion and hence doing a favour to God, to the Martyred Imam (A), and to the Prophet (S). Though he would not reveal it openly, but in his heart of hearts he may think in this manner. In the same way, while serving the creatures of God in matters prescribed or recommended by the religion-like giving of obligatory and recommended alms, helping and protecting the weak and the destitute-he thinks that he is putting them under obligation. Sometimes this feeling of doing a favour to them is so concealed that it is not known to the person himself (the subject of doing of favour to God by men and doing of favour to men by God has been discussed in detail in the second hadith).

At the second level is the state in which an individual is exultant in his heart taking a coquettish air before God. This attitude(mood) is different from the one of conferring a favour on God, though many people see no difference between these two states. In this state the individual considers himself as a favourite of God, and includes himself in the clan of the saintly and among those nearest to God. If he hears the names of saintly persons, of those near to God or those captivated by Divine love, he associates(acquaintance) himself with them in his heart, although, overtly he makes a simulation of humility and tries to project an opposite image of himself.

In order to make credible his assumed role, he may act against his real belief in such a way which appears to negate it, but in fact posits it by its very negation. If any misfortune comes to him, he blows trumpet ( ) of (lit. 'misfortune in exchange for friendship', which implies that the saintly are beset in hardships). Those people who claim being guides of others, `urafa', mystics, and ascetics are susceptible to its dangers more than other people.

In the next state, the individual considers himself worthy of being rewarded by God Almighty in return for his faith, good behaviour, and good deeds, and considers it obligatory on God to befriend him in this world and grant him higher stations in the Hereafter. He counts himself among the true believers and considers himself to be a pure, innocent, and pious being. Whenever a pious person is praised in his absence, he believes that even if God where to adjudge him with justice, he also would deserve to be rewarded. And sometimes, with utter shamelessness and brazenness, he dares to speak in such terms emphatically. If a misfortune befalls him, or he faces any adversities, he complains about the ways of God in his heart and questions the justness of His actions that causes sufferings for the pious, the sincere, and the truthful, and showers His kindness and generosity upon the hypocrites (munafiq'un). He nurses the sentiments of resentment against God inside(interior) his heart, while apparently expressing the sense of gratification and satisfaction. He shifts the responsibility of his misfortunes to the Supreme Benefactor, and pretends to be happy and gratified with His will and judgement outwardly. And when he hears that God smites the believers in this world, he consoles his heart without knowing the fact that the munafiq'un are also smitten, and that every individual who is smitten is not a believer.

In the other stage of 'ujb the individual considers himself as superior to others, and regards himself as better than other human beings. He considers himself to be more pious than others and considers his own faith to be sounder than that of other believers and immaculate. He considers himself to be more perfect and unfailing than others in the observance of the wajibat (compulsory duties) and the `muhrramat (prohibited things). He thinks himself to be more regular than others in the observance of mustahabbat (recommended religious precepts) and more regular in joining the Friday prayer congregation and other ceremonies and rites. He considers himself to be superior to others and treats others as imperfect and insignificant beings. He views them disdainfully in his heart, or treats them with contempt. He excludes every individual from Divine grace and mercy, and considers them a right belonging to himself or to some people like him. The person who has reached this stage comes to a point when he denies whatever virtue he perceives in others and is disposed to regard its presence in others as disputable. Somehow he suspects the sincerity of their virtues in his heart and considers his own deeds as free from any kind of fault. He underrates others' good deeds, but if he himself performs those deeds he magnifies them. He is sensitive to others' errors, but overlooks his own faults.

These are some of the signs and symptoms of `ujb though one may be unaware of their presence in oneself. There are certain other stages of `ujb also which I did not mention, and there might be some others of which I am, unavoidably, unaware.

 

The `Ujb of the Faithless:

The bad deeds of unbelievers, hypocrites, polytheists, atheists, villains, sinners, and transgressors occasionally reach such a point when they become proud of their evil deeds and think highly of themselves. They, on account of their vicious beliefs and deeds, consider themselves to be men of liberal thinking and open minds, free from all fetters and bonds and free from superstitions. They consider themselves as men of courage and valour, link the faith and belief in God with superstition, and consider the observance of religious precepts as a kind of narrowmindedness. They consider good character and moral behaviour as signs of weakness of the personality. They look down on the performance of good deeds and observance of religious duties and rites as the signs of a weak mind and evidence of the lack of common sense. They regard themselves as free-men, who, for not believing in nonsensical superstitions and indifference to religious rules, are worthy of praise. Wicked and vicious qualities having sunk down their roots within the deep layers of their hearts, and their eyes and ears having become accustomed to those acts, and they having gained great charm and grace in their eyes, they consider them as accomplishments. As pointed out in the hadith, at one stage bad deeds appear to be good to the evil person and he perceives them as virtues. This is all allusion to the verse of the Quran which says:

And what of him, the evil of whose deeds has been decked out fair to him, so that he thinks then good?... (35:8)

The words (`and he considers that he is doing something good') refer to the following verse:

Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers in their works? Those whose striving goes astray in the life of the world, while they think that they are doing something good. Those are they who disbelieve in the signs of their Lord and in the encounter with Him. Therefore their works have failed, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall not assign to them any weight. (18:103-105)

Such people, who are ignorant and negligent but consider themselves to be learned and aware, are the most wretched of human beings, or rather the most wretched of creatures. Spiritual doctors are incapable of curing them. No admonition or advice can have any influence on them, but can even produce opposite results. They do not listen to any argument. They do not pay any heed to the guidance of the prophets (A), the arguments of the philosophers, and the teachings of the great sages. We should seek refuge in God from the mischief of the self, whose wiles draw men from sinfulness into infidelity and from infidelity into `ujb. The self and the Devil make people accustomed to a sin by diminishing the gravity of that sin. When that vice sends out its roots into the heart, it appears to be a very ordinary and trivial thing to the person, who commits another sin bigger than the one with which he has become familiar. After committing this second sin repeatedly, it also casts away its gravity in his view and appears to be an ordinary thing, and he does not hesitate to commit a still bigger sin. In this way, step by step(bit by bit), all major sins become diminutive in his eyes, and the Divine laws of the Shari'ah, belittled by him, recede into insignificance. His evil deeds culminate in infidelity, apostasy, and `ujb. We shall take up this subject later on.

 

Snares and Wiles of the Devil:

In the same way as the victims of `ujb (who think highly of themselves), by advancing bit by bit (step by step) in transgression and sinfulness, ultimately reach the stage of apostasy, in the same way those affected by `ujb in their devotional activities and worship also advance day by day from the lower stages of `ujb to its higher levels. The snares and designs of Satan and the self are not haphazard, but according to a calculated plan. It is not possible that the Devil would induce a God-fearing person of a clean character to commit a sin like murder or fornication, nor would he provoke a person possessing an honest nature(atmosphere) and a pure(undamaged) soul to commit theft or a highway robbery. It is not the case that from the very first day he will ask you to consider your good deeds as a favour done to God or to include yourself in the category(sorting) of the Divine saints, His favourite servants, and those nearest to Him. In the beginning he starts at the bottom and in a low key. He steals into your heart and persuades you to be extremely careful and dedicated regarding the recommended duties (mustahabbat), prayers, and acts of piety. While you do this, he will turn your attention towards the sins of a certain sinner and will make you compare his deeds with your own. Then he will whisper into your ears that you have enough grounds, both on a rational as well as a religious basis, to consider yourself superior to that person. Indeed your deeds will be the source of your redemption and that by the grace of God you are pious and pure and free from all vices. He achieves two things through these kind of insinuations: first, it inculcates a feeling of general distrusts regarding the creatures of God; second, it makes the person imbued with a feeling of self-satisfied conceit. Both of these qualities are destructive and the sources of various vices and evils.

At this juncture, you should tell your self and the Devil that it is possible that this person who is guilty of committing that sin may possess other good qualities unknown to you or might have performed certain good deeds for which God may bless him with His grace and mercy, and the light of his good deeds and good qualities may guide him and ultimately lead him to deliverance. Perhaps God Almighty has afflicted him with this sin, so as to protect him from `ujb, which is worse than sin. It is said in a hadith of al-Kafi:

Al-Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A) said:"Verily God Almighty knows that sin is better for a mu'min (a true believer) than `ujb. If it was not thus, He would not have afflicted any mu'min with sin." (Al-Kafi, vol. II, p. 313)

May be on account of the same mistrust in others, my acts will lead me to a miserable life in the Hereafter. Our great master, the accomplished `arif, Shahabadi- r'uhi fidah- used to say, `Do not look down on even a kafir (non-believer) in your heart. It is possible that the divine light of his inner nature may lead him to faith and your rebuke and disdain may lead you towards a wretched life in the Hereafter. Of course to practice al amr bi al-ma'r-uf wa al-nahy `an al-munhar (enjoining right conduct and forbidding bad behaviour) is something different from the inner feeling of contempt.' He would even say, `Never curse the unbelievers regarding whom it is not known that they will leave the world in the state of unbelief. If they leave the world as rightly-guided servants of God, their spiritual rectitude may prove to be an obstruction in the way of your own spiritual advancement.' In any case, beware that the Devil and the carnal self make man enter the preliminary stages of `ujb; and from this place, step by step(one by one), they slowly take him to higher stages of `ujb, and in this way, in degrees, they lead man to the wretched state in which he thinks that he is conferring a favour on God by having faith in Him and performing virtuous deeds. This is the final stage of `ujb.

 

 The Evil Effects of 'Ujb:

Know that `ujb in itself is a destructive and dangerous vice which spoils the faith and the deeds. In answer to the question by the narrator of the tradition about `ujb which corrupts human deeds, the Imam (A) mentions the `ujb in faith as one of its forms. We have read in the previous tradition that `ujb is considered by God Almighty to be something worse than sin, so much so that He makes a believer commit sin so that he may be saved from 'ujb. The Holy Prophet (S) has reckoned `ujb as one of the greatest of spiritual dangers. In al-'Amali of Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Imam 'Ali (A) has been reported to have said:

The one into whose heart 'ujb permeates is destined to be destroyed.

After death and in the purgatory (barzakh), the possessor of this evil experiences a dreadful loneliness which is incomparable and unimaginable; in an advice given by the Prophet (S) before his death to Imam 'Ali (A). he says:

No loneliness can be compared in dreadfulness to the one which is the result of 'ujb.

Moses (A) asked Satan to tell him about the sin by means of which he infiltrates into the hearts of the progeny of Adam (A) and conquers them. Satan replied, it is the time when they feel `ujb about themselves, overestimate their good deeds and the gravity of their sins becomes diminutive in their eyes.

God Almighty commanded David (A) to convey `glad tiding to the sinners and to terrify the pious.' David (A) asked God as to why he should convey glad tiding to sinners and frighten the pious. Replied God Almighty, `Give glad tidings to the sinners that verily I accept their repentance and forgive their sins, and frighten(alarm) and warn the pious that they should refrain from `ujb. Verily there is not a single man who does not stand condemned if I bring him to account.'

I seek refuge in God from the rigours of His reckoning, which if applied would completely ruin the sincere servants of God and even those belonging to a higher station.

In his al-Khisal, al-Shaykh al-Saduq reports from al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said, "The Devil says, `If I subdue the son of Adam in three things I do not care for whatever he may do, as his good deeds will not be accepted: (1) when he overestimates his good deeds, (2) is forgetful about his sins, and (3) when 'ujb permeates him.' "

Apart from the vices which belong to this vicious tree of `ujb, about which you have read, there are a number of major sins and evil traits that are its products. When its roots permeate the human heart, they lead men to apostasy and shirk, and things even worse than these. One of those vices is the vice of belittling of one's sins. A person afflicted with `ujb never cares to rectify himself; rather, he considers. himself as a pious and virtuous person, and never thinks of purging himself from sins. The curtain of 'ujb and the thick veil of conceit prevents him from seeing his shortcomings. It is a great misfortune which not only precludes him from achieving all kinds of perfections, but also afflicts him with all sorts of vices, leading him to eternal damnation. Even the doctors of the psyche are helpless in curing them. He has so much confidence in himself and in the deeds he performs that he thinks himself as independent of God Almighty, and does not care for His grace. In his limited mind, he considers God obliged to reward him. He imagines that he is worthy of being rewarded even if God were to reckon his deeds with justice. God willing, we shall take up this matter again later.

Contempt of Others:

Among other vices present in the person who is afflicted with 'ujb is that of viewing others with contempt. He considers their deeds as insignificant, however superior they may be to his own. This is also one of the ways of human destruction, and a peril on the path of true humanness.

Temptation to Riya':

Another of the evil effects of `ujb is that man becomes inclined towards riya' (ostentation, hypocrisy). Because, when a person considers his deeds insignificant and regards himself as morally imperfect and his faith as of no consequence, then, he would not be proud of himself, or his qualities and deeds. Considering himself and everything that is done by him as deformed and unworthy, he will not make a display of them; soiled and ugly goods(freight) are not put up for show in a prestigious market. But, since, he perceives himself as a perfect human and his own deeds as good and worthy, he is encouraged to make a show of them, and hence behave so imprudently. The vices which have been mentioned in the second tradition about riya' are applicable to `ujb also.

 

The Factor of Pride:

Another ill effect of this vice is that it manifests itself in the form of another fatal disease, that is, the sin of pride (of which we shall have to say more later) and other vices which are direct or indirect products of it. A full treatment of all of them would make our discussion lengthy it is enough to mention it that a person afflicted with `ujb should know that this vice sows the seeds of many other vices and serves as the source of such offences, each one of which is enough for earning everlasting damnation by itself. If one tries to properly understand these vices, and studies the traditions and teachings handed down by the Prophet (S), or the Imams of his household (A), he will realize the necessity of rectifying his self, and will seek to get rid of this vice before, God forbid, he carries it with him to the next world. If this happens, once his eyes are closed on this world and opened to world of barzakh and, thereafter, to the Day of Resurrection, he will see that the persons who committed major sins are better off than him. He will see that God Almighty has immersed them in the ocean of His grace and mercy 'for the remorse and penitence that they expressed, or for the sake of the trust and confidence that they had in the grace and compassion of the Almighty; whereas this poor fellow, since he had considered himself as not in need of His grace and had believed himself, in the depth of his being, to be above needing His compassion and mercy, God Almighty has dealt with him rigorously in regard to his account, and as he himself wished his account is being examined in the scales of justice. God Almighty will show him that he not only did not perform any worship for His sake, but also that his works of devotion and piety only took him away from God and have removed him away from his goal. Not only his faith and deeds have been invalid, but they have also served as the cause of eternal damnation and painful chastisement in hell. God forbid, lest God Almighty judges anybody with the criteria of His justice, because, as mentioned previously, not a single individual, from the first to the last, will find any way of redemption. The prayers and supplications of His chosen servants and the infallible Imams (A) are replete with the confessions of their failure to do justice to the demands of the worship and the service of Lord. While the most perfect of all creatures and the man nearest to God (i.e. the Prophet [S]) utters:

We did not know You as You deserve to be known. We did not worship You as You deserve to be worshipped,

what will others do? Of course, they were aware of His greatness and they knew the relation between the contingent and the Necessary Being perfectly well. They knew that if they spent their lives in His worship, service, and praise, they would not be able to thank Him for His favours, let alone paying the proper tribute due to His Essence and Attributes.

They knew that no thing does possess anything of its own. Life, power, knowledge and other accomplishments are shadows of His attributes. Every contingent being is absolutely poor in every respect, a dependent shadow not an independent `thing'. What merits does a contingent being possess that it could seek to market(advertise) them? What power does it possess to make a display of it? They (the Prophet and the Imams) possess the knowledge of God; they have the cognition of His Attributes of beauty and grandeur. They are the people who have realized, with certainty, their own abjectness, imperfection, and weakness and the perfection of the Necessary Being, through immediate knowledge. It is we, wretched creatures, whose vision is blotted(tarnished) because of the thick veils of ignorance, folly, neglect, and conceit, and whose faculties of intellect, hearing, sight, and other senses are shrouded with veils of inward and outward sins, who behave with pretentions in front of the Almighty and consider ourselves as independent beings.

O you, ephemeral, contingent being! You, who are forgetful of your own self and are oblivious of the relation between you and your Creator. O you unfortunate dependent being! You have forgotten your duty towards the King of kings! This ignorance and foolishness on our part is responsible for all our misfortunes and has engulfed us in the midst of all these woes and disasters. There is a source of all these evils. The source of contamination is the fountain itself. We have lost our sense of perception and our hearts have become lifeless. This is the root cause, of all our afflictions, and yet we are not worried about the cure either.

God Almighty, grant us the capacity to realize our responsibilities. Grant us a share of the light of Your knowledge with which You filled the hearts of Your `urafa' and awliya' Grant us the comprehension of the realm of Thy power and Thy kingdom, and guide us to discover our weaknesses and faults. Unfold the mystery of the meaning of (All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds) to us, wretched beings, who ascribe all the praiseworthy attributes to the creatures. Make it known to us that none of the praiseworthy attributes belongs to any created being . Reveal to us the truth of:

Whatever of good befalleth thee (O man), it is from Allah, and whatever or ill befalleth thee it is from thyself.(4: 79)

Inscribe the principle of tawhid (unity of the Divine Being) on the crude tablets of our hardened(solidified) heart. We are the people of dark realms who languish behind several veils, wavering between apostasy and hypocrisy. We are conceited and egoistic. Purge away the evil of self- love and the love of mundane thins from our hearts and convert us into Your lovers and worshippers: (Verily, Thou art able to do all things ).

 

Self-Love as the Source of `Ujb:

The vice of `ujb is the product of self-love; since the human being is plagued with the evil of self-love, it is the source of all human faults and moral vices. It is on account of this self-love that man overvalues his trivial(lightweight) deeds and hence includes himself in the category of the saintly and the nearest to God. Because of it, he not only considers himself applaudable and commendable on the basis of those paltry deeds, but sometimes even reckons his wicked deeds as good ones. If he perceives moral goodness and piety in others more than himself, he not only never gives any importance to them, but tries to project them in grim colours as far as possible. He is disposed to see a kind of goodness even in his own wicked deeds, and tends to paint them in glowing colours. He scorns other creatures of God in his heart and views them cynically, while he contemplated himself with optimism, having a-very high opinion of himself. It is on account of this same self-love that he hopes a trivial act of his, and that too tainted

with one thousand defilements, to be worthy of being rewarded by God.

It is better if today we reflect upon our good deeds, and rationally evaluate our worships. We should try to judge them justly, and see whether we deserve to be rewarded and praised on their basis, or if we should be reproached, punished, and condemned because of them. And if God Almighty were to deliver us into the flames of His wrath on account of these deeds which are good and virtuous in our own view, is He justified or not in doing so?

Now I make you arbiter to judge(assess) with justice the following matter after deliberation and profound thinking. My question is that if the Holy Prophet (S), whose truthfulness is confirmed, were to say to you, `It makes no difference in afterlife whether you worship God throughout your life, obey His commands, and resist lusts and carnal desires, or if you lead a life violating His commands and following your wishes and sensual desires. This behaviour of yours will not affect your station in the Hereafter. In both cases you will attain salvation and will be sent to Paradise and saved from His chastisement. It will not make any difference whether you offer prayers or whether you indulge in fornication and sin. However, the good pleasure of God Almighty lies in this that you should worship Him, praise Him and thank Him, and resist your sensual desires in this world, although you will not be rewarded for it.' Were you offered this option, would you choose to be His worshipper or a sinner? Would you resist your carnal desires and forbid yourself from indulging in lusts for the sake of His good pleasure, or not? And would you still adhere to the mustahabbat, the Friday and the congregational prayer, or would you become immersed in luxuries, play, amusements, and lusts? I request you to answer justly, without any self-assumption and hypocrisy. As to myself and others like me, let me tell you, we would have been among the sinners, neglecting our duties towards Him and hankering after our sensual appetites.

From this, we come to the conclusion that all our deeds serve as the means for satisfying our desires and gratifying the carnal appetites. We are the worshippers of our flesh. We give up one pleasure for the sake of a bigger one. Our desired goal, our relentless hope is to widen the scope of sensual achievements. Salat, which is a means of acquiring nearness to Him, we perform in the hope of the company of the houris of Paradise. Our worship is not aimed at acquiring nearness to the Almighty. It has nothing to do with the obedience of His command either, and is thousands of miles away from the good pleasure of God.

You, poor fellow, ignorant of the Divine teachings, you who cannot comprehend anything except your own bestial motives, you who take pride in your resorting to His remembrance, chanting of His Name, observance of the obligatory and recommended religious duties, avoidance of prohibited and abominable things, you who take recourse in refined morals and abstain from the unlawful and the abominable, put in the scales of justice all the acts that you have performed for obtaining sensual ends, and for the purpose of reclining on seats studded with rubies in the Paradise, in the midst of cheerful and charming rewards of Paradise, wearing silk and brocade, and occupying magnificent mansions therein and for realizing your hopes -is it just to think that all these actions, which are performed for the sake of satisfying our ego and the fulfilment of the self, are being performed for the sake of God and for His adulation alone? You, who are performing your deeds in the hope of receiving fair rewards, are you different in any respect from a labourer who toils for wages but says that he works solely for the master? Are you not a liar when you say that you perform prayers for the sake of God?

Is your salat meant for the sake of acquiring nearness to God, or for the sake of the company of the houris of Paradise and for sensual ends? Let me state openly without any reservations that all such prayers that we perform are considered by `urafa' and the friends of God as equivalent to major sins. You, wretched creature, you act against the good pleasure of God Almighty in the presence of the archangels, and the worships that are meant for making an ascension near to Him, you are misusing them for satisfying your carnal self; yet you do not feel any sense of shame for the lies uttered in front of the Almighty and His archangels during your prayers. And as if this were not enough, you made several accusations, thinking as if you were obliging God, exulting in your `ujb, and not feeling any sense of shame or regret while doing all this! What is the difference between this kind of worship performed by you and me, and the sinful acts of the sinners, the extreme form of which is riya'? Riya' is a kind of shirk, and its ugliness and gravity lies in worship being not for the sake of God, not meant for God. All our worships and devotional exercises are sheer shirk, which does not contain a speck of sincerity. The aim of earning the good pleasure of God does not play even a partial(biased) role in it, but the only motive is gratification of lust and service of the stomach.My friend, beware that the prayer performed for the sake of a feminine mate, whether this-worldly or other-worldly, is not the prayer performed for God. The prayer which is performed for the attainment of worldly benefits(paybacks) or for acquiring the other-worldly rewards is not for God. If so, where is the room for self-pride and conceit? What right do you have for looking down upon the creatures of God and for counting yourself as someone of consequence in the court of the Almighty? Wretched man, you deserve punishment for this prayer and devotion of yours and for it you deserve to be chained by the seventy cubit chain. Why consider yourself as a person deserving a reward then?

Why procure another chastisement for yourself by continuing in this absurd expectation and by persisting in `ujb? Perform the duties assigned to you properly and keep in your mind that your worship is not purely for the sake of God; and if God Almighty sends you to heaven by His mercy and compassion, remember that He has given a waiver to His servants for a certain kind of shirk in view of their infirmity. By means of His forgiving compassion, He covers their sins with a concealing screen. Do not let this screen to be ripped off and the curtain of His remission to be raised from the face of those vices which we wrongfully call worship. God forbid, if that waiver were withdrawn and our deeds are adjudged according to the standards of justice, remember this that our false worships are not less fouler than the mortal sins of the sinners. Earlier we referred to a tradition narrated by Thiqat al-'Islam al-Kulayni, in his book al-Kafi, on the authority of al-Imam al Sadiq (A); here I am copying a part of it verbatim in order to draw upon its blessing (barakah):

Al-Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (A) reports from the Prophet (S) that he said: `God Almighty-said to David (A), "O David give good news unto the sinners and warn the righteous." Said David (A), "How should I give good news unto the sinners and warn the righteous?" Said the Almighty, "O David, give good news to -the sinners that I accept their repentance, and warn the righteous that they should not have `ujb (self admiration) for their acts, for there is no servant who does not stand doomed when I take an account of his deeds (and deserve chastisement, since, according to the requirements of justice, a man with all his worship cannot thank God properly even for one of His favours).

While the righteous, who are free from sins, deserve to be condemned after a fair trial, what will be the destiny(fate) of people like you and me? And that too if our deeds be pure and free from worldly riya'; a verboten quality, of which there is very little chance. Now be proud if there is an occasion for being proud and feeling `ujb; but if you realize that it is an occasion for being ashamed and hanging the head in shame and making confession of our sin after every worship, then repent before the Almighty for uttering those solemn lies, and for falsely assigning those virtues to ourselves. Does it not call for repentance when you make this declaration in front of God. While standing for prayer:

I have turned my face, in sincerity and submission, towards Him who created the heavens and earth, and I am not of the mushrikun (those who include others while worshipping God, i.e, polytheists). Verily, my prayer and my worship, my living and my dying, are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Is your face really turned towards the Creator of the heaven and earth? Are you really a `muslim' and free from the dirt of shirk? Is your prayer and worship, your living and dying really for God? Shouldn't we feel some shame while uttering; this sentence in our prayer (`All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds'). Do you sincerely consider all laudable qualities to be derived from God, while you pay tribute not only to His creatures but also to His enemies? Is it not a lie to apparently admit that God is (`The Lord of the Worlds'), while practically you subscribe to the authority and lordship of the other-than-God? Is there any inkling of shame and repentance in your heart, while you utter ('Thee alone we worship; Thee alone we ask for help')? Do you truly worship God, or worship your own flesh? Do you actually seek God, or aspire for the houris? Do you seek help from God alone? In your deeds, do you consider God alone? When you go to perform Hajj of the Bayt Allah (the Holy Ka'bah) is God the only goal and end? And is the Master of the House your only pursuit, as the poet says:

It is not the dwelling that attracts my heart,

 

But he who dwells in it draws my heart.

Are you in search of God, and desire for His beatific vision? Do you hold the majalis (mourning ceremonies for al-Imam al-Husayn [A]) and beat your head and breast for his sake, or for the sake of the fulfilment of your wishes and desires? Is it not your selfish desires which motivate you to hold majalis, to join congregational prayers, and to perform devotional rituals?

My brother, be cautious regarding the guiles of the self and Satan, who do not want your pieties to be taintless, and if they might be accepted(well-liked)  by God by His grace, despite their taint, the Devil and the carnal self do not desire them to reach their final destination. Through misplaced `ujb and improper pride they bring all your deeds to nothing, and the little benefit that you aimed at is also not obtained. Having lost His good pleasure, even the hopes of houris will come to nothing. Now having lost everything eternal damnation in the flames of hell does not seem distant. By means of your faulty, rotten actions tainted with riya', sum'ah, and a thousand other vices, each one of which is enough for preventing our deeds from being accepted, you imagined to have done God a favour, having become His beloved servant. Poor fellow, you, who cannot comprehend the state of His beloved servants and the fire that is kindled in their hearts, you unlucky wretch with your little knowledge of their heartfelt sincerity and the bright radiance emanating from their glorious deeds, do you think that their deeds are similar to yours and mine? Do you think that the salat of Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (A) differed from ours only in the manner of uttering in the correct pronunciation of some words, or in the prolongation of prostrations and profusion of raka'at, prayers, and supplication? Do you imagine that my prayer differs from his only in the number of rak'ah's-a few hundred every night? Are the prayers and the supplications of al-Imam Sayyid al-Sajidin (A) (the Fourth Imam) are similar to the mutterings of yours and mine? Do you think he moaned and sobbed for the sake of houris or pomegranates or pears of Paradise like us? I swear by him-and indeed it is a great oath-that even if all of us come together and try to say one ('There is no god except God') in the manner of Amir al-Mu'minin (A), we will not be able to do so. Dust be upon my head, I and my little knowledge of the high station of Imam 'Ali (A)! I swear by the station of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A) that even if all the archangels and all the prophets of God, except the Seal of the Prophets (S), who is the lord of 'Ali (A) and all others, if they try to utter a single takbir (i.e. Allahu Akbar, `God is very great') of 'Ali's, they will not be able to do it. The inner state of their hearts is known only to themselves and is unknown to others .

My !friend, do not babble so much about God. Do not exaggerate your love for God. O `arif! O sufi! O philosopher! O mujahid! O ascetic! O faqih! O believer! O sage! you poor ensnared wretches! You unfortunate creatures entangled in the snares of the self and its desires! You helpless creatures bewildered(dazed) in the perplexities of false hopes, aspirations and self-love! You, who are all wretched, being thousands of miles removed from true godliness and love of God. Do not have such a good opinion of yourselves. Do not be so boastful and proud of yourselves. Ask your heart whether it is in search of God or whether it is in love with itself. Is it a monotheist (muwahhid) and devotee of the One, or a mushrik (polytheist) or a dualist? What for this 'ujb, then? What does this exultation mean? Even if, supposedly, these acts of yours fulfil all the conditions and requirements, and are free from riya', shirk, 'ujb and other vices, isn't their goal acquirement of sensual ends? What merit do they possess that you consider them to be worthy of being presented before the angels? These acts are to be concealed from the sights of people. These acts, which are exercises in impudence and vulgarity, shouldn't we shameful of them and think of doing something to cover up these abominable performances?

God! We seek refuge in Thee from the mischief(naughtiness) of Satan and the guiles of al-nafs al-'ammarah (the carnal self). You Yourself protect us from their wiles for the sake of Muhammad (S) and his Progeny (A).

... Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni) from 'Ali ibn Ibrahim, from Muhammad ibn 'Isa, from Yunus, from Aban, from Hakim; who says: "I asked Abu `Abd Allah (al-Imam al-Sadiq) (A) as to the lowest degree of ilhad (apostasy). He answered, `Verily kibr (pride) is its lowest degree.' " [1]

 

What is Kibr?

Kibr is the name of a psychic state in which a person feels a sense of superiority and behaves high-handedly with others. Its signs are discernible(distinquishable) in his actions and its symptoms are clearly(unmistakably)   noticed by others by which they know that he is proud. Kibr is something different from `ujb, and, as mentioned earlier, this vice is the offspring and fruit of the tree of `ujb. `Ujb consists of self-love and conceit, and the meaning of kibr is to consider oneself superior to others. When someone perceives a merit in himself and is overcome by a sense of pleasure, exultation, and vanity, that state is called `ujb. And when he considers others to be lacking in the imagined merit within himself, he perceives himself to be superior. This perception of superiority and supremacy over others causes in him a state of vanity which is pride. Kibr, in this sense, is an inner state, and when its effects are reflected in his behaviour and his speech, it is called takabbur. In short, the self-indulgent person becomes self-seeking, and his self seeking tendency grows into self-love, and when this self-love is filled to the brim it manifests itself as haughtiness and high-handed treatment of others.

Here, it is necessary to mention that the psychic traits, whether vices and infirmities or virtues and accomplishments, are extremely complicated and complex matters. It becomes extremely difficult to discern one from the other. On account of this, there is often a great difference of opinion even among great scholars in precisely defining them and it may be impossible to give a faultless definition of inner states. Therefore, it is better for us to leave this matter to the inner conscience of individuals and not to entangle ourselves in the maze of finding precise definitions, and turn attention to our main purpose.

 

The Kinds and Degrees of Kibr:

It should be noted that there are different degrees of kibr, similar to the stages and degrees that were mentioned during the discussion about `ujb. However, there were some stages that could be mentioned with regard to `ujb, but since they were not so important XS(remarkable) in that context we abstained from mentioning them. Yet it is important to mention those stages in the context of kibr. But at first let us note that the stages of kibr, similar to those of `ujb, are six in number:

1. Kibr on account of possessing true faith and belief.

2. As opposed to it is the pride in invalid faith and false belief .

3. Pride on account of good qualities and praiseworthy attributes.

4. Pride in moral vices and undesirable qualities.

5. Pride in one's righteous deeds and devotional exercises.

6. Pride in sinful and wicked deeds.

It is possible that each one of these stages may be caused by the equivalent degree of `ujb present in one's soul, or it may have some other reason, which we shall discuss afterwards. For the time being, of our main concern here are the external factors as sources of pride- like the pride in one's family, descent, wealth, status, position, and the like. Following that, God willing, we shall discuss the evils of this vice and their remedies, according to my ability. And I implore God's help and assistance in making it effective upon others as well as my own self.

There are certain other aspects and levels of kibr when considered in another perspective. They are: (1) kibr towards God; (2) kibr towards His prophets, messengers, and awliya' (3) kibr in regard to the Divine Commandments, which also amounts to kibr towards God; (4) kibr towards the creatures of God, which, too, according to the `urafa', amounts to kibr towards God.

As to the kibr towards God, it is the most abominable, the most destructive, and the highest degree of pride, and is present in infidels, those who contest God's authority, and those who make claims to divinity. Sometimes its traces are seen among some men of faith as well (whose description is not appropriate here). This kind of kibr signifies the extreme of ignorance and the absence of knowledge about one's limits and the majesty of the Necessary Being.

As to the kibr towards the prophets and awliya' of God, it was an attitude which was ample prevalent during their own days, and the Quran reports about it in this verse:

... Shall we put faith in two mortals like ourselves? ... (23:4)

And someone from his people is reported to have said (about the Prophet [ S ] ):

... If only this Quran had been revealed to some great man of the two towns. [i.e. Makkah and al-Ta'if] (43:31)

During the early days of Islam, the instances of such pride towards the awliya' of God were very frequent, examples of which are still manifested in the behaviour of some professors of Islam.

As to the kibr towards the commands of God, it is seen among some sinners, such as those who abstain from performing Hajj as they do not consider the dress of ihram appropriate for themselves; abstain from salat because they consider the state of prostration as not in accordance with their position and status. Such kind of pride is sometimes seen among persons of faith, devotees, and scholars who abstain from adhan on account of it. Similarly there are those who would not accept a word of truth if it comes from anybody belonging to the same status as themselves, or lower. Sometimes it happens that one hears something from his colleagues or friends, and vehemently rejects it and derides the speaker, but he readily agrees with it when it is uttered by someone superior to him in religious or worldly status. It is even possible that he would accept it with the same seriousness with which he had rejected it earlier. This person is not a seeker of truth, but his pride has drawn a curtain over the truth, to which his obsequiousness has blinded and deafened him. It is the same kind of pride which prevents a scholar from teaching a certain subject or a certain text because he considers it below his dignity, or dissuades him from giving lessons to persons devoid of any outwardly significant position. Or one may stand away from a small mosque attended by a small number of persons for the same reasons despite knowing that the pleasure of God lies in his doing so. Sometimes the traces of pride are so subtle that the person who is afflicted by this evil, unless he is careful and serious about correcting himself, cannot know that his actions testify to the presence of kibr in his character.

As to the kibr towards the creatures of God, kibr towards men of divine knowledge and scholars is the worst form of it, and its evil effects are graver and its harms more serious than of any other type of kibr. Of this category of kibr is the pride which avoids the company of poor people and seeks out prominence in gatherings and meetings, and displays itself on the road and in one's carriage(cart). Yet this evil is prevalent and inflicts all the classes of society; from the elite to the class of `ulama' and scholars of hadith; from the rich to the poor and deprived classes; no one can elude it, except for those whom God Almighty saves. Sometimes it is so difficult to discern between humbleness and humility aimed at popularizing oneself, and between pride and self-containedness, that one should seek refuge in God Almighty, that He may guide us on the right path. If one is eager to reform oneself and tries to reach one's goal, the Holy God guides him with His infinite mercy on the right path and eases one's journey on this path.

 

The Causes of Kibr:

There are various causes of kibr, but all of them derive from the delusion which occurs when men imagine themselves to possess some kind of excellence. This illusion leads to `ujb, which, blending with self-love, conceals others' merits and virtues from their eyes. When that happens, the afflicted individual believes others to be inferior to himself and begins to cherish a feeling of self-esteem in his heart, as well as manifesting a similar demeanour. For instance, one may find an individual among the `Ulama' and `urafa' who considers himself to be a visionary and a man of mystic knowledge and insight, classing himself in the category of saintly persons with a high record of good deeds. Such persons make an absurdly ostentatious show of their superiority over others, dismissing the hukama' and philosophers as nuts, the fuqaha' and muhaddithun as superficial bums, and all ordinary people as subhuman creatures and beasts. They scorn and look down on all the creatures of God; while claiming to follow the dictum of and they beat the drum of their truth-seeking, whereas the Divine teachings require of them to contemplate the creatures of God with goodwill and optimism when the least knowledge of God demands that he should not scorn these manifestations of His Glory and Beauty. He himself would affirm this while speaking about Divine teachings, pronouncing something which contradicts his own inner state. Yet this happens because those teachings have not penetrated his heart. The poor fellow has not attained even the station of a true believer, yet he often speaks of `irfan. Although `irfan has not touched him, he claims to have realized the ultimate Truth.

Among philosophers, too, there are such persons who consider themselves to be in possession of the proofs and knowledge of certain truth. They class themselves among men of certain knowledge of God who possess confirmed belief in angels and scriptures; yet they look down on others in disdain. They dismiss all other sciences as fiction and all human beings as defective in faith and knowledge, viewing them with haughty contempt in their hearts as well as their arrogant demeanour, whereas the knowledge of the majesty of the Lord and the utter destitution of the ephemeral creature (that he is), necessitates an opposite behaviour. The truly wise(shrewd) (hukama') are those whose knowledge of the secrets of human origin and end makes them modest and humble-God Almighty had bestowed upon Luqman the gift of wisdom; yet the Quran reports of him as saying to his son:

Turn not thy cheek in scorn toward people, nor walk with pertness on the earth. Verily, God loveth not any braggart boaster. (31:18)

Sometimes such people are found among those who claim to be mystic masters and guides of consummate inner purity, yet, they treat the common people with pride and look down on fuqaha', `ulama' and their followers, and speak disparagingly of philosophers and hukama'. They consider everyone except themselves and their associates(colleagues) as doomed creatures. Since they themselves lack in knowledge and learning, they consider knowledge a thorn in the path of spiritual journey, and those who possess it are considered by them as devils who mislead the wayfarers in their inward journey, although their own claims to high spiritual station would tend to contradict such a viewpoint. A spiritual guide of people must himself be free from all kinds of mortal and destructive sins and qualities; one who claims the capacity to guide the astray should have transcended the narrowness of mundane existence and its attachments, being absorbed in the beatific vision of His Glory. He should not be haughty and disdainful towards the creatures of God.

Also among the class of fuqaha', scholars of fiqh and hadith and the students of these sciences sometimes such people(population)  are seen who view other people with scorn and treat them high-handedly, considering themselves to be worthy of every praise and appreciation. They think that everybody should obey their commands without any hesitation, and apply the following criterion to themselves:

He (i.e. God) will not be questioned as to that which He does, but they will be questioned. (21:23)

Except for themselves and a handful of persons like themselves, they do not consider anybody to be fit to enter Paradise. Whenever something is spoken about other field of learning, they dismiss it with scorn. They unhesitatingly reject every other discipline except their own field- of which they possess very little knowledge-considering it not only unworthy of study but destructive. They denounce the scholars of other sciences due to their own ignorance. They present their own views as if their religiosity necessitates such a contempt, whereas knowledge and religion are free from such prejudices. The Shari'ah forbids men from speaking about anything without having its proper knowledge, and considers it obligatory to respect every Muslim. This wretched fellow without possessing enough knowledge of religion or sciences is sinful of doing something which is against the scripture of God and the teachings of His Prophet (S). Yet he moulds his ideas into the form of religion; though the conduct and behaviour of all the great scholars of every generation was unlike this. Each one of the branches of religious sciences demands the scholars who are associated with it to be humble, and requires them to obliterate all signs of pride from their hearts. None of the sciences gives rise to pride and none of them is against humility. Later I will explain the causes astern this sharp(spiky)  contrast between their knowledge and behaviour.

Also among the experts of other sciences, like medicine, mathematics, physics, engineering, industrial crafts, etc., the instances of pride and arrogance are seen. They underestimate all other sciences however important they may be, and scorn the scientists belonging to them. Each one of them believes that whatever he knows is the real knowledge. They scorn people in their hearts, as well as manifest it in their demeanour; whereas their knowledge does not require this.

Some others who do not belong to any of the branches of science, like the people devoted to prayers and other devotional rites, also tend to behave high-handedly with others. They disdain people and treat them with contempt, and do not consider even great scholars as worthy of redemption. Whenever there is a discussion about knowledge, they point out that knowledge without action is useless. They give great importance to the little knowledge that they themselves possess and view all others with `ujb and haughty contempt, forgetting that if their worship were true and sincere it would have reformed them. The prayer forbids one from performing indecent deeds and sins and is considered as the culmination of a Muslim's attainment (mi'raj al-mu'min). But such a person, even after performing the salat for fifty years and meticulously performing all obligatory (wajibat) and recommended (mustahabbat) religious duties, is immersed in the vice of pride which is a kind of apostasy-from head to toe, and is afflicted with `ujb-which is uglier than any other indecency-and comes to resemble Satan and acquires his attributes. The salat that does not forbid one from indecencies and indignities, the prayer which does not protect the heart, rather whose excessive performance vitiates the heart, is not worthy of being named as salat. The salat about which you were so particular, but on account of which you come to resemble Satan acquiring pride, his characteristic trait, is not salat; for the salat does not result in pride either.

All these are dangers of knowledge and deeds, but pride can also arise from other causes, all of which relate to a sense of one's worth and excellence which others are imagined to lack. For instance, someone who comes of a noble descent looks down on those who are not like him. Other reasons relate to personal beauty and charm, one's tribe, the number of one's supporters, followers, or pupils, which cause arrogance and pride with respect to others who do not possess these advantages. In all cases, therefore, pride is caused by an illusion of some kind of perfection in oneself, elation on its account and `ujb, while others are seen to lack such an imagined merit or advantage.

Even the bad characters and persons of vicious morals, also, sometimes look down on others with haughty contempt, because they consider whatever they possess as a kind of merit and asset. Though the person afflicted with the vice of pride tries to conceal it due to some reason or other and tries to show no sign of it, but since this evil tree of pride has run its roots in his heart, its effects nevertheless manifest themselves. As soon as any change occurs in the natural condition of the possessor of this vice, as when he loses control over himself due to anger, he starts boasting of his superiority and enumerating his merits, whether they belong to the category of knowledge or deeds or whatever. At other times, a proud person exhibits his pride, not paying any attention to its outward revelation. The intensity of his pride makes him lose control over himself. Then, his pride finds expression in his movements and pauses. In social gatherings he shows his self-importance by taking a lead over other people while entering and leaving. He neither allows the poor to join his company, nor does he himself attend their gatherings. He creates an artificial halo of sacredness around himself and every action of his, the gait, the manner of looking at other people, the manner of speaking to them, everything is indicative of his pride and haughtiness. One of the researchers, from whom I have borrowed the fundamentals of this discourse and have translated them, says that the lowest degree of pride in a scholar is that he should turn his back on other people as if he wants to avoid them. The lowest degree of pride in a devotee (`abid) is manifested in his stern attitude towards people and his frown, as if he wants to avoid them, or as if he is angry with them. The poor fellow does not know that piety and continence (wara`) does not lie in the frowns on one's brow or forehead, not in a disdainful look and a wry face, not in avoiding the people, not in bending the head or turning the neck, but it lies inside one's heart. The Prophet (S) once, pointing at his chest, said, `Piety lies here." On some occasions the devotee boasts(show off) about himself in his speech; while expressing the purity of his soul, he makes a display of his devotional exercises, brags about himself by mentioning his pious deeds, and denounces others for their shortcomings, thus highlighting the superiority of his piety. Sometimes he does not say anything explicitly but makes some jesture which implicitly exhibits his piety. A scholar afflicted with kibr may brag about his own intellectual achievements, saying, "What do you know! " Then he would mention the books read and written by him, the universities visited by him, the professors and authorities whom he has met, and his own scholarly endeavours. Therefore, at all times, it is necessary to seek refuge in God from the mischiefs of the self and its wiles.

 

  Spiritual and Social Harms of Pride:

Whereas there are many vices inherent in pride itself, it generates many other vices as well. It prevents men from acquiring inward and outward merits and from enjoying the blessings of this world and the Hereafter. It causes hatred and rancour in human hearts, disgraces man in the eyes of his fellow human beings, and brings about humiliation for him. It forces other people to retaliate against him and despise him and insult him. In al-Kafi, al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said: "There is no person who does not have a harness on his head, and an angel who attends to it. Whenever he is proud, the angel says, `Be humble, lest God should disgrace you'. Thus, he is the greatest of human beings in his own eyes, whereas in other people's eyes he is the smallest of creatures. When he is humble and modest, God removes the harness from his head and the angel says to him, `Elevate yourself, as God Almighty is elevating you'. Thus, he is the smallest of persons in his own eyes, while the most elevated and exalted in the eyes of others.' [2]

My friend, others also possess a mind similar to yours. If you behave humbly, other people will be forced to respect you and you will rise in their estimation. But, if you show arrogance, there is no good for you in it; they may even disgrace you if they find an opportunity, and treat you with indifference. And if they cannot find an opportunity of insulting you, they will despise you in their hearts and you will not find any respect in their eyes. It is, therefore, better for you to conquer their hearts with modesty and humility. Everyone with whom you associate will somehow show the signs of his attitude towards you, and if their hearts turn against you it will be something which is against your desire. Therefore, even if, presumably, you are interested in obtaining greatness and respect, you will have to adopt a proper course for it, which is to cultivate cordial relations with others and to, adopt a humble demeanour towards them. The result of pride will be against your aim and purpose. It does not even fulfil your worldly aspirations, which are easier to be fulfilled, and instead of this what you receive is its opposite. Besides all these, this habit will bring you disgrace and shame in the next world. In the same way as you scorned people and considered yourself to be superior to the creatures of God, and expressed an inordinate sense of pride and arrogance here, in the other world this same arrogance and pride will bring you disgrace and humiliation, as mentioned in a tradition reported in al-Kafi:

... From Dawud ibn Farqad, from his brother, who said, "I heard al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) saying, ... `Verily the proud [on the Judgement Day] will be created in the form of ants and people will trample them down under their feet until God is finished with the reckoning: " [3]

 

In his last will, al Imam al-Sadiq (A) told his companions:

... Refrain from pride and self-glorification, since pride is God Almighty's mantle, and one who contests with God regarding His cloak, God will shatter him and disgrace him on the Day of Resurrection. [4]

What will be the plight of the person whom God Almighty disgraces? For the things will be different in the Hereafter. Disgrace in the Hereafter will be an affair different from the disgrace and humiliation in this world. In the same way as the comforts and torments of that world bear no similarity with those in this world, and its comforts and bounties are beyond one's imaginative power, the torments and tortures in that world are also far above the reach of our imaginative faculty. Its honours are beyond the possibilities of what we can think, and its humiliations also cannot be compared with our ideas of humiliation and disgrace. And the ultimate abode of the proud person is eternal damnation and hell. The tradition states: i.e `one who rides the mount of pride is taken by it into the hell-fire.' He will not get any glimpse of Paradise as long as the traces of this vice are present in his heart. The Prophet (S) has been reported to have said:

Never can the person who possesses a speck of pride inside his heart enter Paradise. [5]

Al-Imam al-Baqir (A) and al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) have also said something almost(virtually) similar to this statement. In al-Kafi al-Imam al-Baqir (A) is reported to have said:

Honour is God's robe and pride His mantle; one who wants to it will be thrown into hell by God Almighty. [6]

And that too, what kind of hell! The hell which is prepared for the proud is different from the hell into which other sinners will go. Here, I shall again quote the same tradition the translation of which was given earlier:

This is a highly trustworthy tradition, and can even be compared to sahih. Ibn Bukayr reports from al Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said: "Verily there is a valley in hell for the proud called 'Saqar'. Once it complained to the Almighty about the intensity of its heat, and requested Him to relieve it for some time so that it may take a breath. As soon as it breathed, its breath filled the entire hell with fire? [7]

I take refuge in God from a place which in spite of its being a place of torment complains about its hotness, and the hell starts burning because of its breath. We cannot comprehend in this world the extent of the intensity and strength of the fire of the Hereafter, as the difference between the intensity and weakness of torment is dependent upon several factors. One is the strength and weakness of perception, and the second is the dissimilarity of different kinds of material and their different capacities for tolerating heat. For example, gold and iron can be exposed to more heat than lead and tin, which can endure(withstand) more heat than wood and coal, which are less sensitive than flesh and skin. Another factor is the sensitivity of perception; for example the human brain, which despite being less tolerant to heat is more sensitive to it than the bones, for its power of perception is stronger. And the feebleness and intensity of the heat itself is another factor. It is more painful at a hundred degrees than at fifty. One more factor is the relative distance between the source of heat and the material exposed to it; for instance, when fire is very near to the hand it will inflict a different kind of burn than when it affects the hand from a distance.

All these five above-mentioned factors exist at their weakest degree in this world, and at their utmost strength and force in the Hereafter. All our perceptive faculties are imperfect and weak in this world and at the same time covered with several veils. Today our vision is incapable of perceiving angels and the hell; our ears cannot hear the queer sounds of Barzakh (the Purgatory) and the cries of its inhabitants, and the clamour of the Day of Resurrection and the people thereof. Our senses cannot even perceive the heat of that place. This is on account of their own infirmity. The Quranic verses and the traditions of the Imams (A) are full of explicit and implicit references to this issue, and it is also in accordance with discursive reason. The human body of this world is incapable of enduring heat. The cold fire of this world is strong enough to turn it into ashes in moments. But God Almighty is capable of recreating it in a form on the Day of Resurrection so that it would not be consumed by the fire of the Hereafter, a fire of so great intensity that, according to the testimony of Gabriel (A), if a link of the seventy-cubit chain of fire prepared for the inhabitants of hell is thrown into this world it would melt all the mountains(highlands)  due to its excessive heat. Therefore, the resistance of the human body will also be incomparably great in that world. Also the relationship between the body and soul is very fragile in this world. This world does not allow the soul to manifest its real faculties and powers. But that world is the world of the soul's manifestation and domination. There, the relationship of the soul with respect to the body is loaded with action and creativity-as has been established(set up) in its proper place-and this relationship is the most complete and thorough of all relationships.

This worldly fire is a faint and coldish glow and an ephemeral phenomenon combined with impurities of all kinds; whereas the fire of hell is a fire free from all impurities, and its substance is self-subsisting and self-perpetuating. It is a living substance which burns its inhabitants with a will and consciousness, and uses all its strength to overwhelm them. You have heard about its properties from Gabriel (A), the truthful witness. The Quran and the traditions of the Imams (A) are full of the descriptions of hell and the fire therein. However, its similitude cannot be found in this world. If all the fires of this world were to surround a human being from all sides, they will envelop only the outer surface of his body; but the hell-fire will encompass the human being from within and without and envelop the senses and the perceptive faculties. It is a fire which consumes the heart, the soul, and all the human faculties, pervading them and uniting with them in a fashion which is unexemplified in this world.

Hence it is obvious that the requirements of Divine chastisement are not at all to be found in this world. Neither the material is capable(competent) of enduring its heat, nor is the agent of heat a complete one, nor are the perceptive faculties at their complete acuteness. The fire the heat of whose breath fills the hell with flames, we and our perceptive senses fail to comprehend it, unless, God forbid, we, belonging to the clan of the proud, leave the world without purifying ourselves from this abominable vice, and see it face to face `What an evil abode is that of the arrogant!'

 

Other Causes of Pride:

Besides the above-mentioned factors that cause pride, there are some others also, such as narrow-mindedness, lack of capacity, petty-mindedness, baseness, and lack of fortitude. Being a person with a narrow mentality, as soon as he beholds any merit in himself he imagines himself to enjoy a kind of superiority. He thinks he has acquired(amassed) a high station, whereas, if he justly evaluates it and judges his accomplishments and merits, he would see that what he imagined to be perfection and is so proud of is not at all an accomplishment or merit, and even if it were a merit how insignificant it was when compared to other persons' accomplishments. Poor fellow, he has made his cheeks ruddy with a slap to give an impression(imprint) of healthiness. The `arif who disdains others on account of his pride in his mystic knowledge, and considers others superciliously to be superficial(surface) and shallow, what knowledge does he possess about God, except for a handful of concepts and terms that are in reality veils of realities and hinderances in his religious path? What is this knowledge except for a number of glamorous and gaudy terms which do not have any relevance whatsoever to the knowledge of God? How far are they from the knowledge of God and the knowledge of His Names and Attributes. Knowledge is a quality of the heart, and in the view of this writer all these are practical sciences, and consist not of mere acquaintance with certain abstract concepts or artful juggling of terms. With this short life and limited knowledge, I have seen certain people among these so-called mystics and other scholars who, I swear by `irfan and knowledge that these terms have not made any mark on their hearts; nay, they have rather left on them an opposite effect! My friend! the knowledge of God, in your own words, makes the heart a place where His Names, Attributes, and Essence are manifested, a stage for the appearance of the Real Monarch, who obliterates all signs and purges it of all stains and removes from it all limitations:

... Indeed, kings, when they enter a township, ruin it and degrade its men of honour .... (27:34)

It converts your heart into a unitarian and the one filled with the praise of the Lord. But why did it make your heart a place of your own glorification? Why has it added unnecessary colours to it, and accumulated trappings and accretions that deter you from obtaining nearness to God Almighty and from beholding the effulgent glory of His Names? Why, it has made your heart an abode of Satan and so you look down on the servants of God and His chosen, the signs and reflections of His Glory and Splendour! Woe unto you for your wretchedness, O `arif, whose condition is worse than of anybody else, and all the doors of defence and pretext are sealed upon him! You are proud towards God and have assumed a Pharaonic arrogance towards His Names, Attributes, and all the manifestations of His Essence. O amateurish student of concepts who has gone astray of the realities! Deliberate over the matter for a while, and think as to what knowledge you possess of God. What impact has the knowledge of God and His Attributes made on your self? Perhaps the study of music and musical rhythms may be more exact and precise than your knowledge. Astronomy, mechanics, other physical sciences, and mathematics can match your learning as to the precision(exactness) of their terminology. Yet in the same way as they are not concerned with the knowledge of God, your knowledge also is a thick curtain consisting of the veils of words, terms, and concepts. They can neither make one ecstatic nor send anyone into a trance. Rather, in the eyes of the Shari'ah, the physical sciences and mathematics are better than your knowledge, since they produce some result, whereas your knowledge not only gives no good results, but gives opposite ones. An engineer draws results from his calculations, and a goldsmith is benefited from his craftsmanship; but your knowledge, apart from not gaining any material benefits, has failed to fulfil any transcendental ends as well. Rather, the veil before your eyes is so thick that when you try to picture the Unity of the Divine Being a world of utter darkness fills your imagination, and when His Names and Attributes are mentioned an infinite plurality is pictured by your mind. Therefore, these terms did not lead you to the path of Truth, but on the contrary they have become a source of pride and arrogance towards the righteous scholars. A knowledge which darkens the heart and increases it in its blindness is not knowledge. A learning which ultimately makes its possessor an heir of the Devil, woe unto such learning! Kibr is the property of Satan's nature. He was arrogant to your father, Adam, and was expelled from the Almighty's court. You who are arrogant towards all human beings and all the sons of Adam are also worthy of banishment. From this you can infer the plight of the scholars of other sciences also.

A hakim, a man of wisdom, if he is a real sage, having comprehended the relationship between God Almighty and His creatures and himself, the sense of superiority remains no more in his heart. But the unfortunate seeker of terminology and terms has mistaken them for hikmah (wisdom) and 'ilm (knowledge) and imagines himself to be an `alim and hakim. He even associates(acquaintance) himself with the Attributes of the Necessary Being and says that hikmah is one of the Attributes of God Almighty ' ' (Wisdom is what makes [man] similar to God). At other times he groups himself with the prophets and messengers of God, and recites the Quranic phrase, ('He teaches them the Book and Wisdom') and some-times reiterates the Prophet's hadith:

Hikmah is the lost property of a mu'min; one who is endowed with hikmah has been given an immense measure of good.

while his heart is unaware of hikmah and several thousand stages away from all good and he is himself a stranger to hikmah. The great Muslim thinker and philosopher Muhaqqiq Damad-may God be pleased with him-states that a hakim is a person who can discard his body like a dress whenever he wants to. What does he say and what are we saying! What meaning did they understand from hikmah and how do we conceive it? And you with your pride in your knowledge of a handful of concepts and a few terms, who treat the creatures of God with haughty contempt-it becomes quite clear that you are a petty minded and shallow person.

Those who style themselves as murshids (leaders of mystic orders) and guides of God's creatures, offering spiritual assistance and pretending Sufi insight, their state is worse than that of the two former groups, and their conceit is greater than theirs. They appropriate the terminology of those two groups, and set out their goods(shipment) for sale in the marketplace. They have distracted the attention of the creatures of God from Him, attracting them towards themselves, having made those simple-hearted creatures to view the `ulama' and other people with suspicion. For the sake of some mean profit, they have coined some attractive(chic) terms to deceive credulous people, thinking that titles like `Majdhub `Ali Shah' and `Mahbub 'Ali Shah' will produce love for God or create some kind of ecstasy or bliss. O seeker of the world! You thief(robber) of concepts and ideas, this activity of yours does not call for pride and exultation. Poor fellow, he is befooled by his own petty-mindedness and narrowness of capacity, considering himself to be a person of high spiritual station. His own tricks have fooled him. His infatuation with himself, his love of the world, and his obsession with some stolen ideas and conceptual trappings and auxiliaries have coalesced to form strangely vicious and perverse admixture. Yet with all these flaws, the poor fellow imagines himself to be a murshid, a guide and liberator of mankind, and knower of the secrets of the Shari'ah! No, sometimes this impudence surpasses all limits and he imagines himself to be at the pinnacle of wilayah ! This situation arises due to the lack of capacity, the poverty of merits, the narrowness of the mind and the heart, and the suffocating contraction of the breast.

You too, O student of fiqh, hadith and other religious sciences, you also have no share of knowledge except for some terms which have gained currency in usul and hadith. If this learning, which is altogether related to practice and action, has not brought any improvement in you and has not rectified you, but instead of this given rise to moral and practical vices in you, your performance is inferior to that of the experts of other sciences and incomparable in its worthlessness with the baser activities of all other people. All those concepts, verbiage, rivalries, and disputations-most of which have no relevance to the religion of God and cannot be considered to be belonging to any sciences either, nor could be regarded as the fruit of knowledge-that does not call for so much of pride and exultation. I make God my witness-and suffices He for testimony-if the result of your knowledge is that it cannot guide you on the right path, nor can it guard you against vices of morals and deeds, the meanest and basest of vocations is better than this learning, because it shows some immediate results and has fewer this-worldly and other-worldly harms.

You, poor fellow, who nothing but a painful burden, hard to carry, your burden does not bring you anything but corrupt morals and perverse deeds. Therefore, your knowledge does not call for any pride and exultation either. Nevertheless, the horizon of your mind is so narrow that as soon as you prepared a hotchpotch of some terms you started thinking yourself to be a great scholar, fit to walk over the plumes of archangels under your feet, and other people as ignorant creatures. Your arrogant gait restricts the passage for the servants of God in alleys and your conceit encroaches on the roominess of social gatherings.

Yet the meanest among the arrogant is the person who is proud of outward matters like wealth, position, family and descent. This poor fellow is far from all human excellences and moral sense; his hands are empty(unproductive) of all learning and knowledge; but since his clothes are made of sheep's wool, or since his father is somebody, he is arrogant with the people. What a petty mind and a dark and narrow heart it is that leaves all accomplishments and perfections to be content with the niceties of a robe and hat! For his beautiful cloak and cap, he has given up all other beauties of character and soul. Poor fellow, he is gorged to survive on the plane of beasts and is happy with bestial pleasures, having forgone the dignity of human station for what he considers to be some sort of status, choosing a meaningless and hollow existence, and a blank form devoid of reality and truth. He is so base and hollow that if he meets someone who is superior to him in respect of worldly advantages, he behaves with him like a slave with his master. Of course, one whose goal is nothing but the world, is a slave of the worldly and the world ....

In any case, narrowness of vision, pettiness of mind, and lack of capaciousness of personality, together, are a strong factor responsible for pride, which makes its victim to have `ujb and kibr and makes him highly sensitive to qualities which are neither a kind of perfection nor any merit of note. And the more one is infatuated with one's self and with the world, the more he is likely to be affected by these things.

 

 How to Cure Pride?

Now that you have known the viciousness of pride, it is now your duty to resolve to cure yourself of this disease and to make up your mind to purge your heart from its taints and remove its traces and its heavy dust from the mirror of your heart. If you are among the people of strong will power and an open heart, and the worldly desires have not driven their tentacles deep into it, and if the worldly allurements and ornaments have not blinded it by their light, and if you are still capable of judging and criticizing yourself with justice, the suggestions given in the previous chapter can be most useful for you in this regard. But if you have not reached this level, it is better for you to meditate upon your state; it is possible that your heart may wake up. O man, who were initially nothing; who were hidden in the folds of nothingness for ages and epochs, more insignificant than nothingness itself and absent from the realms of existence, when God Almighty resolved to create you, you were the most deficient of the recipients, mean, and insignificant. You were incapable of receiving the Divine effusion (fayd). He created you from the matter (hayula) of the universe, which is absolute potentiality and pure weakness, and moulded you into an elemental bodily form which was the lowest and the meanest of the existents of the universe. After that you were given the form of sperm, which you will loathe to touch it and will take great pains for cleansing your hands if by chance they are made dirty by it. Then you were kept in a very narrow and unclean place, the twin reproductive glands of the father. And after that through the urinary tract in a terribly ugly state you were brought into the mother's womb and you were given such a place to live in, that description will be disgusting to you. After being placed there, you were given the form of a foetus and a lump of clotted blood. There you were nourished with such a food that you will go mad if you are told about it, and will feel ashamed. But since everyone has to pass through this tribulation, it abates our shame of it (A distress which is common becomes tolerable).

During all these stages of evolution and change you were the lowest and meanest of creatures. You lacked in all external and internal perceptive faculties and devoid of every kind of merit. After that, with His great kindness and mercy, He made you capable of receiving the gift of life, the life that was manifested in you was so imperfect and fragile that it was, even inferior to that of a worm in its biological functions. In order to improve your deficient capacity, He gradually improved your functions with His mercy and compassion, until you became fit for entering this world and facing its climes. Through the meanest of corridors and in the worst possible condition you were made to enter this realm. Yet you were still weaker than and inferior to the young ones of all the animals. After that, despite acquiring the maximum of your internal and external powers and abilities(skills), you are still so weak and vulnerable that none of your own powers is under your full control You can neither safeguard your health, nor can you guard your own life and energies, nor can you preserve your beauty and youth. If any calamity of an illness befalls you, you do not possess enough power to repel it. In short, you don't have any control over any aspect of your own being and existence. If you face starvation for one day, you will not resist from eating any kind of rotten cadaver. If your thirst were to overwhelm you, you will be ready to drink from dirty and fetid water. Similarly, in all matters you are a helpless and abject slave who has no power over anything. If you compare yourself with the existence and perfection of the existence and other living beings, you will realize that you and your entire planet, or even the whole solar system, have no significance whatsoever in front of the whole physical world, which is the meanest and the smallest of all other worlds.

My dear, you have not seen anything except yourself, and whatever you have seen you did not compare it with the world around you. Compare whatever you possess, from your life to the worldly treasures in your possession, with your city, your city with your country, and your country with all the hundreds of the countries of the world, whose names you might not have even heard of, and all those countries with the whole solar system and its vast spheres which are not more than tiny fragments of the sun, and the whole solar system with the Milky Way, of which our sun along with its planets is one of millions of other stars and a part of the huge galaxy, and there are several million of such galaxies like the Milky Way. All these are a part of the physical world, whose vastness is not known to anyone except its Creator and the discoveries of the discoverers have succeeded in revealing only a small fraction of it. Yet this physical world has no significance whatsoever as compared to the supra-physical world, whose realms lie beyond the powers of imagination of the human intellect. In the light of this, let us reexamine the extent and scope of our lives and the share of our fortune in the realm of existence.

Thereafter, when God Almighty resolves to take you away from this world, He commands all your powers to deteriorate and your perceptive faculties to halt their activities. The mechanism of your life is broken down; your auditory and visual senses, and your energies are taken back from you and you become an inanimate inorganic substance. After the passage of a few hours, people will not be able to tolerate the stench emanating from your body and they will be averse to the view of your body and face. All your bodily members and organs will decompose and disintegrate after a few days. Such is the state of your body, and what will happen to your wealth and glory is also quite obvious. But as for your life in Barzakh (the Purgatory), if you depart, God forbid, without reforming yourself, God alone knows what conditions and states will be prescribed for you therein. Perceptions of the inhabitants of this world are incapable of seeing, hearing, and smelling the affairs of that world. Whatever you hear of the darkness, the dreads, and the pressures of the grave, you compare them with this-worldly dreads and pressures, but you are mistaken. O God, help us, and rescue us from the calamity of what we ourselves have prepared with our own hands. The punishment of the grave, which is a model of the punishment in the Hereafter-and according to some traditions we will not be able to avail in the Barzakh any intercession of the intercessors-God alone knows what kind of punishment it will be! The state of affairs on the Day of Resurrection will be worse and more dreadful than all the past phases. It, will be the day of the revelation of secrets, the manifestation of truths, and the day of the embodiment of morals and actions. It will be the day of reckoning and the day of disgrace. Such is the Day of Resurrection!

 

The Punishment in the Hereafter:

As to the conditions of the hell after the Day of Resurrection, they are also known to you. Would you like to know more about the hell? The punishment of hell will not be confined to the torments of fire alone; a dreadful door will be opened to your eyes, which if opened to this world its dread will destroy all of its inhabitants. A similar door will open to your flesh, another to your nose, each of which will be sufficient to kill the inhabitants of this world. One of the experts in the knowledge of the Hereafter says that in the same way as the heat of hell will reach the climax of its extremity, its coldness will also be at the highest point of coldness. God Almighty is capable of bringing together these two extreme opposites. Such are the dreads of the Hereafter. In the light of all this, one whose beginning lies in infinite nothingness; one who from the point he steps into the world of existence, all whose stages of development are ugly and indecent; all whose states are shameful; whose conditions in the world, the Purgatory and the Hereafter, each one is more horrible(monstrous) and disgraceful than the other-what reason has he for pride? What merit or glory makes him so boastful? Therefore, those whose ignorance is more and whose rational faculties are more defective, are more proud of themselves; and those whose knowledge is greater, whose souls are more capacious, and whose breasts are spacious-they are humbler and more modest.

 

Humility and Modesty of the Prophet (S):

The Prophet (S), whose knowledge was derived from the Divine Revelation, and whose soul was so great that it could preponderate over the spirits of millions upon millions of human beings, who rejected all the practices and customs of the pagan Arabs, who shattered under his feet all the false creeds, abrogated all the scriptures, and the circle of prophethood achieved its completion in his noble existence; who was the ruler of the world and the hereafter, and who was the master of all the worlds, with the permission of God Almighty; yet his humility towards the creatures of God was more than of any other human being. He hated to see his Companions stand up in his respect. Whenever he entered a gathering, he used to sit in the lowest place He used to dine on the floor and used to sit on the floor and used to say: "I am a slave of God; I dine like a slave and sit in the manner proper for a slave." It has been reported from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Prophet (S) preferred to ride a donkey without a saddle, preferred to dine in a lowly place with the slaves, and offered alms to beggars with his two hands. That holy personage used to ride a donkey and used to sit on the mount with a slave or some other man. It is written about him (S) that he used to share with the members of his household the duties of housework himself used to milk the sheep, stitch his own clothes and shoes, grind the flour and knead the dough, and carry his belongings himself. He liked the company of the poor and the destitutes and used to dine with them. Such, and better than what we have described, was the character and the modesty of this great personage, although besides holding his high spiritual station he held to perfection the authority of a temporal sovereign. Similar was the life and character of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A), who also followed the Prophet's way, and his character was identical to that of the Prophet (S).

 

To Cure Pride, One Should Act Against Its Dictates:

Therefore, my friend, if you are proud of your spiritual attainments, they (i.e. the Prophet and Imam 'Ali) were over and above all of us in this respect; and if you have pride in your office and authority, they possessed true sovereignty. Yet, in spite of it, their humility and modesty was more than of anybody else. This shows that humility is the product of knowledge and wisdom, and pride is the outcome of ignorance. Therefore, free yourself from the ignominy of ignorance and the disgrace of petty-mindedness; the attributes of the prophets and shed the qualities of Satan. Do not contend with your God regarding His mantle of Pride and Glory, as His wrath will subdue the contender and he will fall(avalanche) on his face into hell-fire. If you make up your mind for rectifying your self, the way to do so is also easy if you are somewhat persevering. You will not encounter any peril on this way if you move with manly resolve, freedom of thought, and high-mindedness. The only way of overpowering your carnal self and repelling the insinuations of Satan is to act against their incitements. No other way is better for crushing the desires of the self as adopting the traits and qualities of the modest and following their behaviour and character. In whatever stage of pride you may be, and to whatever scientific or professional field you belong, you are advised to act against the inclinations and desires of the self. By discovering and meditating about this-worldly and other-worldly consequences of pride, it is hoped, your journey will become easier and you will reach the desired goal. If your self wishes that you should take the seat of chairmanship of the gathering or to take precedence over your colleagues and equals, you should act against its desire. If your self incites you to refrain from joining the company of the poor and indigent, admonish it severely and resolutely go and sit in their company, dine with them and travel with them. It is possible that your inner self would try to prevent you by arguing that you are a person of a higher position and that it is essential to keep up(carry on) your esteem and dignity for the sake of the propagation of the Shari'ah, that sitting with the poor will undermine your respect in society, that humour with the subordinates will be injurious to your authority, that occupying a lowly place in gatherings will affect your status and then you will not be able to perform your religious duties properly... and so on. Be certain that all these are guiles of the Devil and wiles of the self. You have read and heard about the behaviour and character of the Holy Prophet (S), whose worldly position was incomparably superior to you.

 

A Reminiscence of a Teacher:

Among the scholars of our own times, I have seen a person who enjoyed great eminence throughout the Shi'ah world and followed the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (S). The respected teacher and the revered faqih Hajj Shaykh `Abd al-Karim Ha'iri Yazdi enjoyed the sole marji'iyyah (Shi`ite jurisprudential authority) of the Shiite world from 1340/1921 to 1355/1936. We have all seen his simplicity. He used to travel and dine with his servants. He used to sit on the floor and make all kind of strange(curious)  jokes with the most junior of students. During his last days, when he had taken ill, with slippers on, he used to walk in the alley after the sunset, without a cloak and turban and with a piece of cloth wrapped around his head. Regard and respect for him grew in the hearts of the people, and these acts of him did not affect his high station either.

There were other great scholars in Qum besides him, for whom these barriers(fences) that are created for you by the Devil did not exist. They used to buy their foodstuffs and goods(cargo) by themselves, used to fetch water from the water tanks and attend to the duties of housework also. They meted out equal treatment to the senior and the junior and did not differentiate between the first rankers and others of a subordinate rank. Their humanity and modesty made people wonder and their respect was also not lowered; rather it was enhanced in the hearts of the people. Anyhow, the attributes of the Prophet (S) and Imams (A) do not derogate people. But one should be cautious of the guiles of the self while opposing it, as it may lure you into its snares and use other tactics for baffled(confounded) your purpose. For example, you will observe some person occupy an inconspicuous place in a gathering, but in a fashion which is meant to make others understand that his position is superior to all the others present and that it was but a gesture of humility and modesty on his part that he has occupied that place. Or, for instance, if he had declined in favour of a person of uncertain(undecided) superiority over himself, he will give priority over himself to someone who it is certain is of a lower rank, thus immediately making it clear that he had declined in favour of the first one because of his own humility. These, and hundreds other like this, are the wiles of self, which add riya' and hypocrisy to pride, and unless one does not resolve to combat them with a sincere determination one will not succeed in rectifying one's self. All the vices of the soul are rectifiable, but a little diligence is needed in the beginning. After one has entered the process of self-correction, everything becomes easier for him. The main thing is to realize the need for the rectification of the self and to wake up from the spell of self-negligence,

Yaqzah (Awakening) is the First Step:

The first stage of humanness is yaqzah. It signifies the awakening from the slumber of obliviousness and the intoxication of physical nature, and the realization of the fact that man is a traveller and like any other traveller he also needs some provisions for this journey. His morality and character are his provisions for this journey. The only means of undertaking this hazardous and perilous journey on this dark and narrow path, which is sharper than the sword's blade and thinner than a hair, is manly courage. The light of this path is one's faith and one's good qualities. If he is lazy and negligent and gives in to weakness, he will not be able to cross it with safety and will fall headlong into the hell of disgrace and into the gorge of perdition. And one who cannot pass safely over this path will, also, not be able to pass over the Sirat in the Hereafter.

My dear, be brave and tear apart the curtain of ignorance and folly and deliver yourself from this terrible abyss. `Ali (A), the Lord of the Pious, the unique wayfarer of the paths of heavens and the real guide, used to cry out in the mosque so loudly that he could be heard in the neighbourhood:

 

Equip yourselves and be ready, your departure has already been announced.

No preparations will be more beneficial to you than your good moral characteristics and merits, the heart's piety, the righteous deeds, and the purity and spotlessness of your conscience. If, supposedly, you are a person of incomplete and apparent faith, you should cleanse yourself of these impurities so that Divine mercy will put you amongst the righteous and pious servants of God. Only the fire of repentance (tawbah) will clean these impurities, when the self is melted in the furnace of self-reproach with the fuel of remorse and return towards God. Today perform this smelting yourself, in this world; otherwise only God knows how many centuries of the Hereafter it will take for your soul to be refined in the furnace of Divine chastisement, and with a fire of which it has been said:

It is the fire of Allah, kindled, which leapeth up over the harts (109-6-7)

It is much easier to purify oneself in this world, as changes occur rapidly in this world; but in the next world, the process of change will be a prolonged process, and the effacement of one evil attribute of the soul will take several centuries.

Therefore, my dear, try to reform your self as long as you possess life, youth, energy, and freedom. Do not pay any attention to this-worldly fame and glory. Trample such phantoms under your feet. You are the. son of Adam (A), so free your self from the trait. of Satan Perhaps the Devil gives more importance to see that this vice, which is characteristic of his own nature and for which he was driven out of the court of the Almighty God, is shared by everyone, the sage or the commoner, the scholar or the unlettered, and that they join his fold. Then if you meet him in the next world, having carried this vice with you, he will rebuke you for having adopted this vice. he will say to you, `O son of Adam! Didn't the prophets inform you that my haughtiness towards your father drove me out of the court of the Almighty? I was cursed due to my scorning of Adam and my self glorifying. Why did you allow yourself to be afflicted by this vice?" At that time, you, wretched creature that you would be, besides(alongside) confronting all kind of humiliations and tortures, besides all the regret and remorse, will also have to face the rebukes of the most wretched of beings and the basest of creatures. Satan was not guilty of pride towards God, but of pride towards the creature of God and had said to Him:

... Thou createdst me of fire., and him Thou didst create of clay. (7:12)

In this manner he glorified himself and looked down on Adam (A). You, also, who look down on the progeny of Adam and glorify yourself, have disobeyed God's Commands; for God has commanded His creatures to be modest and humble towards other human beings. You who treat people with haughty contempt, why do you curse the Devil alone? Why don't you include your vicious self also in this curse, as it also shares this vice with him? The proud man is a personification of all Satans; perhaps in the purgatory and on the Day of Resurrection, his appearance will be that of Satan. The criterion of man's form in the Hereafter are his spiritual qualities. It's possible that you will the form of Satan as well as the size(bulk) of an ant. The standards in the Hereafter will be different from those in this world.

The Vicious Subtleties of the Self:

Sometimes it happens that a person who lacks a certain merit is proud towards the possessor of that merit, such as when a poor person is proud towards a rich one or when an ignorant one is proud towards a learned person. It should be remembered that in the same way as `ujb is sometimes the source of pride, jealousy (hasad) may also be the source of pride. One may perceive himself as lacking in a certain merit which is present in another; then he becomes jealous of him and this serves as the cause of pride towards the other person, whom he tries to insult(offend) in all possible ways.

In al-Kafi it has been reported from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said: "Pride is found in the most vicious of human beings, to whatever kind they may belong." Then he added: "Once the Prophet (S) was passing through one of the lanes of al-Madinah where a negress was gathering dung. She was told to move aside and allow the Prophet (S) to pass. She answered that the passage was wide(broad) enough. One of the persons who accompanied the Prophet (S) tried to threaten her, but the Prophet (S) prevented(banned) him from doing so, saying: `Leave her alone, she is a proud woman.'"

Sometimes this vicious habit is seen among some scholars, who make an excuse that to act with humility with the wealthy is not a virtue. Their vicious self makes them believe that modesty with the rich weakens faith. The poor fellow cannot differentiate between the humility before wealth and humility towards the rich and others. It is true that sometimes the vice of love of the world and the ambition for worldly honour and glory makes men to adopt modest and humble behaviour. This cannot be counted as modesty; it is flattery, and is reckoned as a moral vice. The possessor of this trait does not show humbleness to the poor, except when his self-interest requires it or when he uses it as a bait. But it is also true that the virtue of humility of men invites man to act with modesty and humility towards the others, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, whether of enviable conditions or not. That is, their modesty is sincere and pure. Their souls are clean and unstained by the love for popularity in society and honour, which have no charm for them. This kind of humility and modesty is good with the poor, and it is good with the rich as well. Everyone should be treated with the respect that is due to him. But this pride and contempt of yours towards the rich and wealthy is not on account of the fact that you are not a sycophant, but it is because you are a jealous person, and you do not understand this. If the same rich man were unexpectedly to show you respect, you will be humble and modest with him. In any case, the snares and the skilful guiles of the self are so subtle that one cannot do anything except taking refuge in God. `And Praise is God's, in the beginning and the end.'

[1]. Al-Kulayni. Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Hajj Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), pp. 421-422.

[2]. Ibid., Vol. III, p. 426.

[3]. Ibid.,Vol. III. p. 424.

[4]. Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Shu'bah al Harrani, Tuhaf al-'uqul (Kitab furushi Islamiyyah, Tehran, 1402 H.), Arabic text with Persian translation by Ahmad Jannati 'Ata'i, p. 327.

[5]. Usul al-Kafi, Vol. III, p. .423.

[6]. Ibid., Vol. III, p. 423.

[7]. Ibid., Vol. III, p. 424.

... Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni), from 'Ali ibn Ibrahim, from Muhammad ibn `isa, from Yunus, from Dawad al-Raqqi, who reports from Abu `Abd Allah (al-'Imam al-Sadiq) (A) that the Apostle of God (S) said that God Almighty addressed Musa ibn `Imran (A) thus: "O son of `Imran, never be envious of people concerning the favours I have conferred on them by My grace, do not glower at them, and do not succumb to your (envious) self. Indeed the envious man is indignant at the bestowal of My favour, and contests My apportioning of gifts among My creatures. Whoso is such, he neither belongs to Me nor do I belong to him. [1]

 

Definition of Hasad:

Hasad or envy is a psychic state in which a person wishes for the deprivation of a blessing, talent or merit, real or imagined, possessed by another person. It does not make any difference to the envious man whether lie possesses it or not, whether he can it or not.

The term `imagined' is used here for the reason that it is not necessary that there should be any real merits or advantage in the true sense of the word. For it has been established by observation that even things which are vices and defects, on account of their being considered by the envious as excellences and merits, he desires their destruction. Sometimes it is also true that certain attributes which are a defect in a human being but are bestial accomplishments are envied by the envious man on account of the significance that he attaches to such qualities. He sees them as merits on account of his animal state, and desires that the other man should be deprived of them. For instance, there are certain persons who consider ruthlessness and brutality as virtues, and when they see a person possessing these qualities they envy him. There are some who consider the capacity for idle(standstill) talk and vulgar jokes as virtues, and they feel jealous of those skilled at them. Therefore, the criterion for identifying this psychic disease is the imagined existence of merits and the suspected presence of accomplishments in the mind of the afflicted person, not the real presence of merit and accomplishment itself. In short, whenever a person notices any merit (real or imaginary) in others and wishes for their loss and destruction, such a person is described as hasid or envious.

 

The Kinds of Hasad:

There are various kinds and degrees of hasad according to the state and condition of the mahsud (the one envied), the hasud (the one who envies), and the nature of hasad itself.

According to the condition of the mahsud: Qualities like certain intellectual, spiritual, and moral merits, or. good and pious deeds, or outward factors like wealth, honour, and prestige can cause envy. Also their antithetical qualities, when they are imagined to be merits, can also cause envy and jealousy.

According to the condition of the envious person: The feeling of envy in the heart of the person who harbours it is sometimes caused by enmity, sometimes by pride, and at other times by fear and the like-causes which will be discussed later on.

According to the condition of envy itself: As for envy itself, the classification performed on its basis is an essential one, not those performed on the previous bases. There are several stages and grades of intensity and weakness according to their various causes and effects. God willing, we will deal with their harmful effects and the methods(technique) of curing them in several sections according to our capabilities, and hope to receive His assistance in this regard.

 

The Causes and Motives of Hasad:

There are numerous causes of hasad, and the main among them, as opposed to kibr, are products of a feeling of one's inferiority. In the same way as a person contemplating his own merits considers others to lack them, with a sense of elation, exultation, and rebelliousness overcoming him; in the same manner when someone perceives others to be more perfect, a feeling of inferiority and dejection seizes him, which, with the help of external factors and inner propensities, generate the feeling of envy in his heart. Sometimes it may happen that he feels dejected on account of someone sharing his merit, such as when a person endowed with a merit feels jealous of those on an equal or lower footing than himself. Therefore, it may be said that envy is a state of abjectness and dejection which finds an expression in the desire for the destruction or deprival of others' merits and advantages. Accordingly, some scholars, like al-`Allamah al-Majlisi, have confined the causes of envy to the following seven:

 

1. Enmity.

2. The sense of one's supremacy: It may happen that the envious man anticipates the pride of the envied on account of a merit and advantage that he enjoys. Not having the patience to put up with the pride, he earnestly desires the loss of those merits and advantages.

3. Kibr (pride): The envious person desires to treat high-handedly the person who is conferred some merit or favour, which is not possible unless those favours and merits are lost.

4. Wonder: The envious person is puzzled to see the great blessing enjoyed by the object of his envy. God Almighty reports the nations of the past as saying to the prophets: Ye are but mortals like us" (14:10), and: "And they said: `Shall we put faith in two mortals like ourselves' ...." (23:47).

They wondered as to how a mortal like them could reach the high station of prophethood and be inspired by God; so they felt envious on account of it.

5. Fear: The envious man is apprehensive of some hindrance on the part of the person enjoying an advantage or merit that may, he fears, frustrate his cherished aims and objectives.

6. Love of authority: This becomes a cause of envy when one's acquiring or preserving authority over others requires that nobody should share his advantages or merits.

7. Viciousness of nature: The man of vicious nature does not like to see others enjoying any kind of good whatsoever.

In the view of this writer, most, or rather all, of these causes are derived from the feeling of inferiority and dejection.

 

Some Evil Effects of Envy:

Envy itself is one of the deadliest diseases of the heart. The mortal diseases of the heart, like pride and other vices, though each is a mortal sin in itself, produces additional vices each of which is fatal independently. We shall discuss here a few of them which are apparent and known to this author. There may be others which are hidden and unknown. In two sahih traditions al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) and al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) inform us about the evil effects of hasad:

Mu'awiyah ibn wahab reports that al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) said: "Hasad, 'ujb, and vainglory are a bane of faith.' [2]

Muhammad ibn Muslim reports that al-Imam al-Baqir (A) said: "A man may be forgiven for something done in a fit of anger; but envy devours faith as fire consumes(burning up) wood." [3]

It is a known fact that faith is a Divine light that illumines the human heart with the radiance of His glory, as has been related by the hadith qudsi quoted before:

Neither [the vastness of] My earth, nor [that of] My heaven can contain Me. Indeed it is the heart of the man of faith which can contain Me.

The spiritual light and the divine spark(flicker) which makes the human heart greater than anything else in the world does not go along with the darkness and narrowness caused in it by this grievous vice. This hideous quality makes the human heart so narrow and dejected that its effects become apparent throughout the realm of one's inner and outer being. The heart becomes grieved and depressed, the chest narrow and suffocated, and the face grim and frowning. This state extinguishes the light of faith and deadens the human heart. The more it gains in strength, the more it diminishes the brightness of faith. All the inward and outward attributes of faith are negated by the effects of envy which are manifested within and without one's personality. The man of faith is optimistic and has a hopeful attitude towards God, and is satisfied with the way He has divided and apportioned His bounties among His creatures. The envious person is displeased(unsatisfied) with God and is resentful of the fate(destiny) apportioned by Him. As mentioned in tradition, a believer is not malicious towards other believers; he loves them, whereas the envious man acts in an opposite manner.

A true believer is not possessed by the love of mundane things, whereas the envious man is afflicted with this vice due to his love of the world. A believer has no fear(nervousness) or grief whatsoever in his heart, except for that which is associated with the Ultimate Source and End of all being. But the fears and griefs of the envious man revolve around the person of whom he is jealous. The believer has a beaming countenance, which depicts his cheerful nature. The envious man has a frowning face and a grim countenance. The believer is humble, and is (most of the time) not proud or envious.

Envy destroys faith in the same way as fire burns up wood. Therefore, there does not exist any doubt about the danger of this vice which wrests from man his faith, the source of his salvation in the Hereafter and the life and vigour of his heart, and reduces him into a helpless wretch.

A great evil that is an inseparable ingredient of envy is indignation with the Creator and the Beneficent Nourisher and annoyance with His ordainments. Deprived of vision by the dark veils of carnal nature, our immersion in the world of senses has blinded the eyes and deafened the ears. We do not understand that we are angry with the King of kings, nor know as to what form our anger(irritation)   and resentment will as the result of this vice in the next world, our permanent abode. We hear the words of al-Imam al-Sadiq (A): "Whoso is such, he neither belongs to Me nor do I belong to him," yet we do not understand the magnitude of the misfortune of God Almighty's disowning us, and what His disgust with us will bring for us. One who is driven out from the sphere of His wilayah (guardianship) and is not accepted under the standard of the Mercy of the Most Merciful, there is no hope of his salvation. He will, not be able to receive any intercession of the intercessors either: "... Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave?" (2:255) Who will act as an intercessor for one who is wrathful and resentful towards God, outside the pale of His wilayah, and whose bonds of love between him and his Lord have been severed? Woe to us for the calamity we have invited for ourselves! Despite all the warnings and alarms sounded by the apostles of God to awaken us from the slumber, our neglect and our wretchedness only grew day by day.

 

The Punishment of the Grave:

According to the `ulama', the punishment of the grave and the darkness therein is one of the evil consequences of this vice. They maintain that the bearer of this vice, with its associated spiritual tension and gloom, is oppressed by pressure and darkness in the grave and in Barzakh. One's condition in the grave depends upon the spaciousness of the hearts and the narrowness thereof.

Al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) is narrated to have said that the Prophet (S) went to attend the funeral of Sa'd. While seventy thousand angels accompanied the ceremonies, the Prophet (S) of God raised his head towards the heavens and said: "Does anyone face the squeeze (of the grave) as Sa'd faced?" The narrator of the tradition said to the Imam: "May I die for your sake, we have been told that Sa'd was not very particular of taharah while passing urine." The Imam said: "God forbid, his only fault(offense) was that he was harsh in his treatment of the people of his household...:'

The state of darkness, narrowness, tension and constriction that appears in one's heart due to this vice is not likely to occur in other moral vices. In any case, the person possessing this vicious trait suffers torments in this life, then the oppressive darkness and constriction in the grave, and will ultimately(in the long run) be helpless and wretched in the Hereafter. All these are the evil effects of envy alone, on condition that it does not breed any other vice or induce any other evil deed. But it rarely happens that it does not generate some other affliction. Rather, it often begets many other moral vices and misdeeds, such as pride, as mentioned earlier, and other sins like backbiting, slandering, abusing, and torturing, etc., each one of which is a deadly and mortal sin.

Therefore, it is necessary for a wise(shrewd) person to make up his mind immediately and strive to get rid of this shame and indignity, saving his faith from the blaze of this fire and its disaster lie should rid himself of this mental torture and narrow-mindedness, which is it perpetual lifelong punishment in this world, followed by distress and darkness in the grave and the Purgatory, and incurs Divine wrath. One should consider that a malady which has so many harms needs to be treated urgently. His envy does not harm the person of whom he is envious. It does not make him lose any of the favours and merits either. It may even give him some satisfaction, in this world as well as in the other, to see the distress of one who is jealous of him and is his enemy. While he continues to enjoy all those advantages which cause you distress and anguish, it is yet another gift for him. And if you are again jealous of him for the second one, it will multiply your torment and anguish, which will again be a blessing for him, and so on. Hence you shall ever remain in grief, pain, and anguish and he in a state of bliss, joy, and exuberance. In the Hereafter, also, your envy will benefit him, especially if it culminates in backbiting, slandering, and other such acts of malice; as your good deeds will be assigned to him. You will be reduced(shrank) to utter destitution and he will enjoy bounties and eminence. If you deliberate upon the matter for a while, you shall of course purge yourself from this vice and save your soul from its destructive effects. Don't think that psychic, moral, and spiritual vices are not curable; this is an erroneous notion that has been inspired in you by Satan and your carnal self, who want to keep you from treading the path of the Hereafter and to frustrate your efforts at rectifying your self. As long as man exists in this realm of transition and change, it is possible for him to transform all his attributes and moral characteristics. However strong his habits may be, as long as he is living in this world he can quit them. The only thing is that the effort required to throw them off varies with the degree of their strength and intensity. A bad habit in the early phase of its formation, of course, requires only a little self-discipline and effort to eradicate it. It is like uprooting a young plant that has not run its roots deeply into the ground. But when a quality becomes firmly rooted in one's nature, becoming a part of one's spiritual makeup, it is not easily uprooted, but requires much effort, like the tree that becomes old in age, having sent down its roots deep into the earth; it cannot be easily extirpated. The more you delay the decision to eradicate the iniquities of the heart, the more time and effort it will require.

My dear, in the first place do not allow any moral vice, bad habit or evil deed to enter the realm of your inner and outer being. This task is much easier than that of expelling them after they enter, establish(build) themselves, and start flourishing. And if they enter, the more you delay the action required to expel them, the more time and effort will it require, and they will corrupt your inner faculties in the mean time. Our great shaykh, the accomplished `arif Shahabadi-my soul be sacrificed for him---used to say that it is better to take an action against moral vices when one's youth and its powers and vivacity are still there. At that stage one can fulfil one's responsibilities as a human being in a better way. One should not allow oneself to delay until one's powers have departed; as it becomes more difficult(demanding) to achieve success in this regard when old age sets in. Even if, presumably, one succeeds, the effort required for the reform is, in comparison, much greater.

Therefore, if a shrewd(wise) person considers the evil effects of anything and realizes that he is not afflicted by it, he does not involve himself in it and does not allow it to contaminate him; and if, God forbid, he is afflicted he tries to get rid of it and correct(accurate) himself as soon as possible, not allowing it to strengthen its roots. If, God forbid, it has taken roots, he makes every effort to root it out so as to avoid its evil consequences in the Purgatory and the Hereafter. If he is transferred in the state of affliction from this world of material change, he will no longer be able to do anything about it. Woe to the man who is such, for it will take ages of the Barzakh and the Hereafter to transform a single moral characteristic.

In a tradition, the Holy Prophet (S) has been reported to have said that every inhabitant of Paradise or Hell is consigned to it eternally on account of his or her intentions and aims. Bad intentions, which result from evil morals, cannot be shed unless their source and origin is destroyed. In that world human qualities will manifest themselves with such an intensity and power that either it is not possible for them to perish at all-in which case one is lodged(stiffed) eternally in the Hell---or it is possible to purge them only through torment, distress, and flames---in which case it will take a time of several centuries of the Hereafter. Therefore, O wise man, do not allow a vice which can be removed by little effort of a month or a year or two, and whose removal is fully within your capacity and means, to linger on and cause the distresses of this world and the Hereafter and ultimately destroy you.

 

  The Source of Moral Corruption:

It was mentioned earlier that faith, which is the joy and fortune of the soul, is different from knowledge, which is the pleasure and satisfaction of the intellect. All moral and behavioural corruptions ensue from the absence of faith in one's heart i.e. whatever the intellect and reason have comprehended through rational proofs or the reports of the prophets fails to enter the heart, and the heart is unaware of their truth. One of the doctrines which every `arif, hakim, mutakallim, as well as the laity and the legists, affirm and regard as indubitable is that whatever has come into existence as the result of the stroke(scrub) of the Pen of the absolutely Wise Creator, from the viewpoint of being and perfection to the apportioning of the means of sustenance among creatures and the ordination of their terms of life---everything demonstrates the utmost beauty of design and the utmost perfection of a system which is in complete accordance with the sumum bonum of the creatures and the most complete and perfect system imaginable.

However, each one of them describes this graciousness of God and His absolute wisdom in his own specific language and in accordance with the terminology of his discipline. The `arif says: "It is the shadow of the Absolute Beauty." The hakim says: "The system of the real world is in accordance with a scientific scheme free from any defect and evil; that which is presumed to be evil in particular instances is nothing but a means for the creatures to their deserved degree of perfection." The mutakallim and the legist believe that God's Acts are based upon wisdom and the general good, and man's limited intellect is incapable of comprehending the higher good intrinsic in Divine ordainments. All subscribe to this idea and everyone sets forth an argument to prove it according to his own knowledge and intelligence. But since they do not go beyond words and have not entered the heart, voices of protest and objection can still be heard, and yet the same man, not enjoying the bounty of faith, counters his own words and confutes his own arguments. Moral vices, too, are rooted in this weakness of faith. The one who feels jealous of others and desires for the loss of a good enjoyed by another and harbours spite against those who possess it in his heart, should know that he does not believe that it is in his own interest that God Almighty has not bestowed upon him that favour. Our limited understanding fails to comprehend the wisdom of His determinations. He should realize that he does not have faith in Divine Justice and the justness of His apportioning. Verbally he may declare his belief in the doctrine of Divine Justice. But his declaration is mere words; for the belief in the justness of God is contrary to envy. If you deem Him just, then consider His ordainment to be just too, for the hadith says expressly that the envious man is resentful at God's apportioning of gifts among His creatures and indignant at the favours conferred by Him. In accordance with the Divine instincts inherent in him, man by nature is a lover of justice. Modesty and reverence before justice and hatred and rebellion before injustice are rooted in his nature. However, if an opposite attitude is observed, it is because of a defect in his premises. If he is indignant at the advantages enjoyed by others and is contentious about the Divine apportioning of bounties, it is on account of the fact that lie does not consider it as just, but, God forbid, regards it as unjust and cruel. It is not because he considers the Divine apportioning as just and is yet resentful of it. It is not that he considers the Divine plan(schedule) to be a perfect system and absolutely good and yet is displeased with it. Alas, our faith is not complete and the intellectual proofs have not crossed the limits of reason and intellect to enter the realm of the heart. Faith is not [solely] a matter of utterance. It is not mere reading, discussing, or quoting others; it requires sincerity of intention. One who seeks God succeeds in finding Him. Those who are interested in Divine knowledge, seek it:

Whoso is blind here will be blind in the Hereafter, and yet further front the road. (17:72)

... And he for whom Allah hath not appointed light, for him there is no light. (24:40)

The Practical Remedy for Envy:

Besides the theoretical cure that has been mentioned above, there is a practical remedy also for this hideous vice. It consists of this: Try, forcibly, to be affectionate with the person of whom you are jealous. By making a display of your affection, your purpose should be to cure yourself of this internal malady. Your inner self will ask you to hurt him and malign him. It will demand that you treat him like an enemy and recount to you his vices and mistakes. But you act against the inclinations of your self and be friendly with him. Honour him and respect him and force yourself to speak in his praise. Try to see his virtues yourself and make them known to others too, concentrating upon his good(favorable) qualities. Though your behaviour will be affected(dramatic) and unnatural in the beginning, being artificial and feigned, but since your aim is self-rectification and curing of this vice, your behaviour will gradually become less artificial. Day by day this affectation will be lessened and your self will become accustomed to it and that which was affectation will become reality. You convince your self and make it understand that he is a creature of God; perhaps it is God's grace which has selected him for the advantage that he enjoys. If the object of your envy is a scholar endowed with knowledge and piety, and you are jealous of him due to these merits, your envy is all the more abominable and this enmity will bring you greater harm in the Hereafter. It is for you to make your self understand that they are chosen servants of God, who, through Divine grace, have been distinguished by that great merit and favour. Such a gift ought to make one feel affectionate and kindly towards its possessors, inclining one to respect them and to be humble towards them. Hence, if one perceives that anything that should stir up love and respect in his heart is causing something that is contrary to it, he should know that the baser emotions have overpowered him and their darkness has conquered his inner self. Now it is time for him to positively resolve to get rid of it by all theoretical and practical means. If he tries to stimulate the feelings of love and friendship in his heart, he will succeed soon, since the light of love conquers the darkness of hatred. God Almighty has promised that He will guide those who struggle(scramble) and help them through His invisible grace and increase their capacities: `Indeed He possesses the authority to grant ability and to guide.'

 

The Tradition Regarding Remission of Envy:

In some of the holy traditions it has been reported from the Prophet (S) that he enumerated nine things from which his Ummah have been granted remission; hasad, in case it is not expressed in one's words or deeds, is one of them. This tradition, and others similar to it, should not, of course, prevent one from seriously uprooting the vicious tree of envy from the self and freeing the soul from this faith- consuming fire. Because, it rarely happens that this vicious thing enters the soul without breeding diverse abominations there, without its signs becoming visible, and without harming one's faith. It is mentioned in sahih ahadith that envy devours faith and is baleful to it, and that God Almighty disowns the envious person and would have nothing to do with him. Therefore, a thing which is a major source of corruption and endangers all that matters to a human being should not be taken lightly due to misunderstanding the Prophetic hadith about remission of the sin of hasad.

Therefore, it is for you to take the matter seriously and snip off its branches and try to rectify yourself. Do not allow its venom to spill over in your outward behaviour, as it will weaken its roots and stop its growth. And if you die during this period of spiritual reform and contest, you will be blessed with Divine Mercy. With His infinite mercy and the boon provided by the spiritual station of the interceding Holy Prophet (S), you will be granted forgiveness. The spark of Divine beneficence will burn up any remaining traces of it, and the soul will be purged and purified.

 

As to the following tradition narrated by Hamzah ibn Humran:

Abu 'Abd Allah (al-Imam al-Sadiq) (A) said: "There are three things from which neither any prophet nor others below his rank are Immune: doubts about the creation, anticipation of misfortune for others, and envy, although a believer does never make use of them. [4]

either the statement is hyperbolic, the intention being that these form the most frequent basis of their tribulations, without their being actually subject to these vices; or hasad is used here to connote ghibtah (envy which is free of ill will); or what is meant is the inclination to wish for the loss of some of the advantages enjoyed by infidels who propagate false beliefs. Otherwise, the prophets of God and the saints are free from any taint of hasad in the real sense of the word. A heart which is defiled with moral evils and inner impurities cannot receive Divine inspiration and revelation. Such a heart does not become a mirror of the light of Divine Attributes and the radiance of the Essence. Therefore, this tradition ought to be interpreted in the manner indicated above or in some other fashion, or it should be referred back to its speaker, upon whom be God's peace and benedictions: `And Praise is God's, at the beginning and at the end.'

[1]. Usul al-Kafi (Pub. by Intishirat-e'ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Arabic text with Persian translation by Hajj Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), vol. III, p. 418.

[2]. Ibid., p. 418.

[3]. Ibid., p. 416.

[4]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, Bab `al- amr bi al-ma'ruf`.

... Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni) from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from Ibn Mahbub, from `Abd Allah ibn Sinan and `Abd al-Aziz al-Abdi from `Abd Allah ibn Abi Ya`fur, who report Abu Abd Allah (al-Imam al-Sadiq) (A) to have said: "One who passes his evenings and mornings in such a way that the world be his biggest concern, God ordains poverty between his two eyes and causes his affairs to become disjointed and dissipated, while he does not attain anything except what has been apportioned for him. And as for one who passes his evenings and mornings while his biggest concern and goal be the Hereafter, God puts contentment to his heart and gives a wholeness and unity to his affairs. [1]

 

Exposition of the Tradition:

There are various interpretations of the terms `the world' and `the Hereafter' according to different views offered by mystics and scholars. Here, our objective is not to plunge into any involved discussion about hair-splitting definitions, an absorption which keeps the wayfarer from proceeding towards his goal. What is essential here is to understand the meaning of `the disapproved world' (i.e. `the world' in the sense in which it is necessary for the person seeking the Hereafter to shun it) and the factors that assist man and guide him on the path of salvation. These we shall discuss, God willing, in a few sections, and implore His help and guidance in this regard.

 

Mawlana Majlisi on the Reality of the World:

The great researcher and peerless traditionist Mawlana Majlisi, upon whom be God's mercy, states: "Let it be known to you that that which can be deduced from all the verses of the Quran and the traditions in this regard, according to our understanding of them, is that `the accursed world' is the sum total of all those things that prevent man from obeying God and keep him from His love and from seeking the Hereafter. Therefore `the world' and `the Hereafter' are antithetical to each other: whatever causes His good pleasure and one's nearness to Him belongs to `the Hereafter,' even though plainly it should seem to be a matter of the world-such as the trade, the agriculture, the industry and the crafts whose purpose is to provide subsistence for one's family for the sake of obedience to God's command, for spending(expenditure)  one's income(wage) for charitable purposes and the welfare of the poor and needy, and to avoid dependence on others and beseeching their help. All these activities are meant for the Hereafter, though people should consider them to be for the sake of the world. On the other hand, heretical exercises in spiritual self-discipline, sanctimonious deeds and the like, though they might be performed with great devotion and care, are meant for the world, as they cause alienation from God and do not bring man near to Him. Such are the deeds and the practices of the infidels and those who oppose the right path". [2]

Another researcher remarks: "Your `world' and `Hereafter' are two inner states of your heart: that which is nearer and is concerned with the life before death is `the world', and whatever that follows it and is concerned with the life after death is `the Hereafter'. Therefore, everything that earns you pleasure and joy and provokes your lust before death, it is `the world' for you."

 

The Author's View:

This pauper says: `the world' may sometimes be regarded as meaning the lowest level of existence and the abode of change, transition, and annihilation. `The Hereafter' signifies return from this lower mode of existence to the higher, celestial plane, one's inner world, which is the abode of permanence, stability, and eternity. These two worlds exist for every individual. The first one is the terrestrial realm of development and emergence, which is the lower plane of observable worldly existence. The other is the hidden, inward, and celestial level of existence, which is the higher plane of being of the Hereafter. Although worldly existence is a lower and defective realm of being, but since it is a nursery for the training of lofty souls and a school for acquiring higher spiritual stations, it is a field(enclosure) for cultivating the Hereafter. In this sense it is the most sublime of the realms of being and the most profitable of worlds for the lovers of God and the wayfarers of the path of the Hereafter. And were it not for this terrestrial realm of matter, the domain of physical and spiritual substantial transformation and change, and if God Almighty had not made it a realm of transition and annihilation, not a single imperfect soul would have attained its promised state of perfection nor would it have been able to reach the realm of permanence and stability, nor the embodiments of imperfection would have been able to enter the Kingdom of God.

Accordingly, that which is mentioned in the Quran and tradition regarding the disapproval of `the world' does not actually apply to the world itself, but is meant to refer to absorption in it and love and attachment for it. This shows that man has two `worlds' one of them is condemned, while the other is extolled and praised.

The world which is approved is that which one acquires in this earthly abode, this school, and this marketplace, where higher stations and lasting spiritual merits are exchanged for transitory goods(cargo) and where arrangements are made for the abiding abode. These cannot be possibly acquired without entering this world, as has been stated by the Mawla of the Muwahhidun, Amir al-Mu'minin al-'Imam 'Ali (A), in one of his sermons delivered on hearing a person abuse `the world':

Indeed this world is the abode of truth for him who appreciates its truthfulness, a place of safety for him who understands it, a mine(quarry)  of treasures for him who collects provisions from it [for the next world], and a house of instructions for him who draws lessons from it. It is the shrine(monument) of worship for those who love Allah, the house of prayer for His angels, the place where the revelations of Allah descend, and the marketplace for those devoted to Him. Herein they earn His mercy and herein they Paradise by way of profit [3]

God Almighty's words, (What a good abode is the house of the pious) relate to the world, according to the interpretation of al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) reported in a tradition by al-Ayyashi. Therefore, this world, being as it is the manifestation of and witness to His Beauty and Majesty, is not at all condemnable in this sense. That which is condemnable is the world of man himself in the sense of his absorption in the world of carnal nature and his attachment and love for it. That world is the source of all vices and all inward and outward sins, as reported in al-Kafi from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A):

Al-'Imam al Sadiq (A) said: "The love of the world is the source of all transgressions. " [4]

And it has been reported from al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) that he said:

"The harm done by two ferocious wolves, one attacking(assaulting) from the front and the other from the rear, to a herd without a shepherd, is less rapid than the one done by the love of the world to the faith of the faithful." [5]

Therefore, the attachment of the heart and the love of the world is synonymous with the accursed world, and the greater the attachment, the thicker the veils between man and the realms of sublimity, and denser the curtain between the heart of the human being and its Creator. It occurs in some ahadith that there are seventy thousand veils of light and darkness between God and His creatures. The veils of darkness may be no other than the attachments of the heart to this world, and the deeper they are, the greater the number of the veils and greater the difficulty of their removal.

 

The Factors that Promote Worldliness:

Man is the child of this physical world, nature being his mother, and he the offspring of water and dust. The love for this world is implanted in his heart since the early time of his development and growth. As he grows this love also increases. On account of the faculties of desire and the organs of deriving pleasure that have been granted to him by God Almighty for the sake of the preservation of individual and species, this love grows day by day. Since he considers this world as a place of pleasure and luxury, and death as the end of these activities, even if he is led to believe in the Hereafter, its states, conditions, and rewards by the arguments of the hukama' or the traditions of the prophets (A), yet his heart remains unfamiliar with them and does not accept them, let alone obtaining certainty of their reality. Due to these reasons, his love for this world and his attachment to it increase considerably. Since man naturally loves immortality, detests and evades decline and annihilation, and mistakes death for annihilation, even if his reason were to confirm this world as the house of transition and annihilation and that world as eternal and everlasting, his heart does not accept the findings of his reason if they have not entered the heart itself. The main thing is that the belief should have entered the heart and the best state is that of complete certainty. It is for this reason that Ibrahim Khalil Allah (A) asked God to bestow upon him certainty, and that was granted to him. Therefore, as the hearts do not have faith in the Hereafter-like those of ours-though rationally we may posit its existence, they desire to remain in this world and are averse to the thought of dying and quitting this lower mode of existence. But if our hearts become aware of the fact that this world is the lowest of the worlds and the house of decline and change and the realm of imperfection and destruction, and that there are other realms beyond death each of which is eternal and stable, perfect and permanent, where life is bliss and beatitude, our hearts would naturally the love of that world and would abhor this world. And if one were to rise above this world and awake to the realities of that world, and observe the real inward form of this world and the attachment to it, this world will become unbearable for him. He will detest it, desire to leave this abode of darkness and to get rid of the shackles of time and transition, an attitude(mood) which is apparent in the words of the awliya'.

Imam 'Ali (A), the Mawla of the awliya', said:

By God, the son of Abu Talib is more intimate with death than an infant with its mother's bosom. [6]

That great soul had considered the reality of this world from the viewpoint of Wilayah, and had chosen the blessed vicinity of the Most High. And were it not for the sake of the higher goals, those pure and chaste souls would not have tarried in this murky and gloomy(drab) gathering even for a single moment. To inhabit this phenomenal world of plurality, to meditate upon the worldly affairs, even with the spiritual favours, is a matter of great pain and sorrow for those absorbed in the love of God, a sorrow which we cannot even imagine. Their lamentations, as reflected in their prayers and supplications, were on account of the pain of separation from the Beloved and His magnanimous vicinity, although there were no mundane or spiritual veils for them, and they had left behind them the subdued hell of nature and its attachments, their hearts being free of the defilements of physical nature. Nevertheless, the very presence in the confines of physical nature and the inevitable pleasures associated with it, even if they be very few, acts like a veil. It is on this account that the Holy Prophet (S) is quoted to have said:

Lest my heart should be covered by [the veils of] lust, I ask God's forgiveness seventy times a day.

Perhaps the fault of Adam (A), the father of mankind, was the result of this innate attraction towards physical nature, symbolized by the wheat, and his attention to the mundane aspect of life-something which is considered wrong by the awliya' and the lovers of God. If Adam (A) had remained faithful to the divine passion and had not set foot into the domain of the mundane, this entire toilsome tale, winding(wandering) through the world to the Hereafter, would not have assumed such proportions.

Let it be known to you that each and every pleasure that man derives from this world leaves its trace on his heart that is indicative of its susceptibility to the physical world and a cause of its further attachment to the world. The more the enjoyments and the pleasures, the greater their impression upon the heart and the more intense its attachment to the world and love for it. This process continues until the heart completely yields to the world and its allurements. Such a condition is the source of a great many evils. All the human transgressions, sins, and moral vices are on account of this love and attachment, as mentioned in the hadith quoted from al-Kafi. One of the greatest evils of this love, according to our Shaykh-my soul be sacrificed for him - is that if the love of the world captures the human heart and the attachments become strong, at the time of death man finds that God Almighty is separating him from his beloved and causing separation between him and the darling of his desire. As a result, he leaves the world in a state of indignation and rancour against Him. This greatly shocking(astounding) warning is enough to awaken man, that he should be extremely cautious in guarding his heart. God forbid, lest one should be indignant with the real King of kings, the Bestower of favours and the Nourisher, for none except God knows the ugly form of such a rancour and resentment.

Our honoured Shaykh also related of his father that he was extremely disturbed(interrupted) during the last years of his life regarding his love for one of his sons. But after doing exercises in spiritual self-discipline for some time he was relieved of this attachment. He was greatly satisfied on this account before he retired to the abode of eternal bliss. May God be pleased with him.

There is a tradition in al-Kafi, reported on the authority of Talhah ibn Zayd, from Abu `Abd Allah al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said:

The example of the world is that of sea water; the more a thirsty person drinks from it, the thirstier he becomes until it kills(massacres) him. [7]

The love of the world destroys man eternally, and it is the source of his affliction with inward and outward villainies. The Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said, "The Dirham and the Dinar have destroyed many a people before you and they will destroy you too" Even if a person is not, supposedly, afflicted by other vices, which is improbable(incredible)or rather impossible, the sole attachment to the world is sufficient to cause many an affliction. The criterion of the length of the period of detention in the world beyond the grave and the Barzakh is the amount of intensity of these associations and attachments. The lesser they are, the more spacious and brighter his place in the grave and the Barzakh, and consequently the lesser the period of one's detention therein. Hence the awliya', according to some traditions, do not have to experience the conditions of the grave for more than three days, and that too for the sake of the inherent and natural attachment that they had in the life of this world.

Among the evil effects of the love of the world and attachment to it is that it makes man afraid of death. The fear of death, being the product of the love of the world and attachment to it, is highly objectionable; it is different from the fear of the Day of Resurrection, which is one of the attributes of true believers. The greater part of the sufferings and pangs experienced by a dying man are on account of the severance of the worldly ties, not the fear of death itself.

A brilliant researcher and a judicious analyser of the world of Islam, Mir Damad-karrama Allah wajhah in his al-Qabasat, a book of rare excellence, writes:

Death itself will never frighten you; its bitterness lies in being afraid of it. [8]

Another great evil caused by the love of the world is that it keeps man from religious exercises, devotional rites, and prayers, and strengthens his physical nature. It inculcates disobedience within his physical nature(atmosphere) to the commands of his spirit. As a result it weakens his power of resolution and debilitates the will, whereas one of the main secrets and aims of worship and religious exercises is to make the body, the physical faculties, and the natural instincts subordinate to the spirit, so that the will may control them and force the body to act according to its wishes and prevent it from whatever the spirit(phantom) wants it to abstain from. If the spirit dominates the body, the domain of the body and the physical faculties is brought under the control of the spirit in a way that everything it wishes the body to perform would be performed without the slightest hardship and hindrance. One of the virtues and secrets of austere worships and laborious devotional exercises is that they are more conducive to the attainment of this goal. Through them man can-a strong will and resolution, and overcome his physical nature. If the will becomes complete and perfect and the resolution strong and powerful, the domain of the human body and its external and internal faculties acquires angelic characteristics, and he becomes similar to the angels of God who never transgress Divine commands, obey readily, without any resistance or compulsion, whatever He orders them to do, and refrain from doing whatever they are forbidden from. If the physical faculties of man come under the domination of his spirit, all hardships and hindrances disappear and a state of ease and tranquillity prevails. When that happens, the `seven realms' of physical nature will become subservient to the heavenly forces, and all the faculties will act as their functionaries.

Therefore, my dear, the strength of will power and resolution is very important and effective in that world. In fact, the strength of will is the criterion of entry into one of the levels of Paradise which is one of the highest heavens. Unless one possesses a strong will and powerful resolution he cannot gain that heaven and that high station. It is reported in a tradition that when the virtuous are stationed in Paradise, a message will be sent to them from the Holy God, saying, "This is the message sent by the Eternal and the Immortal to the one who is also eternal and immortal: Whatever I command to be, it comes into existence; today I bestow on you authority to command whatever you desire to bring into existence and it would come into existence." You can see what a great authority and distinction that would be. What sort of power they have whose resolution and will shall be the manifestation of the Divine Will so that they will be able to grant the apparel of existence to non-existents. It shows that the power of will and resolution is superior to all the physical faculties. And it is also obvious that this message will not be sent out of extravagance and without proper judgement. Those whose will is subordinated to their bestial desires and whose resolution has become dead and inert, they cannot attain this station. The Almighty's Acts are free from extravagance and vain indulgence. In this world everything is based on a system in which all means and ends are arranged according to an order. In that world, too, all matters will be arranged in a similar manner, or rather that world represents the highest harmony between causes and effects, means and ends. The power and authority of the will is to be cultivated in this world. This world is the sowing ground of the Hereafter; it is the substance out of which the rewards of heaven as well as the misfortunes of hell are carved out.

Therefore, each one of the worships and the rites prescribed by the Shari'ah, besides themselves possessing heavenly and angelic forms, are elements for building the physical paradise and procuring all the paraphernalia of heavenly life. This is confirmed by tradition and affirmed by reason. In the same way as every worship produces its own specific effects on the soul, it also, little by little, strengthens the will and perfects its strength. Therefore, the greater the effort required for a worship, the more productive it is:

The best of deeds are those which are the most difficult. [9]

For instance, waking up for the sake of praying to God Almighty in the biting cold of a wintery night and sacrificing the delights of sound sleep makes the soul triumphant over the body and strengthens the will. Though it is a bit difficult and unpleasant in the beginning, but after a little practice its hardship and inconvenience becomes lesser and lesser and the subservience of the body to the soul grows. We see the people who perform it doing all this without any trouble, and if we are lazy and find it difficult, it is because we do not take action. But if we force ourselves to act, gradually the difficulty turns into ease. The people who offer the nightly prayer derive great enjoyment out of it, even more than the pleasure we derive from carnal enjoyments. The self becomes habituated through action, and goodness becomes enduring by becoming habitual.

These worships have several advantages, one of them is that the form that they in that world is so beautiful that its parallel cannot be found in this world, and we are unable to visualize it. Another is that the soul acquires will power and resolution, which by itself has numerous advantages, and we have mentioned one of them. Yet another is that it familiarizes man with the worship and remembrance of God, bringing the unreal to the Real, and turning the heart towards the King of kings, stirring in it the love for the Beauty of the Real Beloved, and diminishing the attachment to and concern for the world and the Hereafter. Perhaps, if this divine passion is produced and a state is achieved in which he knows the real objective of worship and the real secret of meditation and remembrance, both the worlds would lose their significance for him; the vision of the Beloved wipes out the dust of duality from the mirror of the heart, and God alone knows how magnanimously He will treat such a devotee. Therefore, the practice of the exercises prescribed by the Shari'ah, the worships and the rites, and abstention from carnal desires and lusts, strengthen the human will power and resolution. On the other hand, immersion in sinful physical nature weakens human resolution and will, as mentioned earlier.

It is known to every man of conscience that man is drawn towards Absolute Perfection in accordance with his nature and inherent disposition. The better part of his heart is attracted towards Absolute Beauty and the Most Perfect in all aspects. This characteristic of man is innate in his nature and ingrained in it by God Almighty. Accordingly, the will is a means for the fulfilment of the search of the lovers of Absolute Beauty. However, everyone, in accordance with his own state and condition, has his own idea of perfection, and he sees perfection in something towards which he is attracted. Those who work for the sake of the Hereafter perceive perfection in otherworldly stages and grades and their hearts are turned towards them. And the men of God, who, beholding perfection in His beauty and beauty in His perfection, say:

... I have turned my face towards Him no created the heavens and the earth .... (6:79)

And they say `My ecstasy lies in God'. They long for union with Him, and are in love with His Beauty. The worldlings, since they perceive perfection in worldly comforts and luxuries, those things having acquired beauty in their sight and charmed them, are naturally attracted towards them. Nevertheless, since man's natural inclination is towards absolute perfection, all the worldly attachments are basically errors of judgement. Therefore, the greater his mastery over worldly or otherworldly benefits, whether they are spiritual accomplishments, authority, power, or material treasures, his longing for them increases and the flame of love grows brighter and more ferocious. For example, the sensual appetites of a lusty man will increase if he is given more chances of fulfilling his sensual desires; he will desire some other fulfilment that is not available to him, and the furnace of his lust will become hotter and wilder. In the same way, if the man ambitious for power and authority is allowed to establish(set up) his authority over one region, he will turn towards yet another. If the whole earth comes under his domination, he will think of invading other spheres in order to bring them under his dominion. He is not aware that his natural instincts crave for something else. The instinctive love and the natural quest(hunt) of man is directed towards the Absolute Beloved. All substantial, physical, and intentional motions, all attentions of the heart and the inclinations of the self are directed towards the beauty of Absolute Beauty, yet human beings do not realize it. They abuse this love, this desire, and this longing, which is meant to be the Buraq (the mount upon which the Prophet (S) is said to have performed the nocturnal journey through the universe called Mi`raj) meant for ascension to heaven, the wings to fly to union with the Absolute, by wasting it on unworthy ends and by confining it within absurd barriers and limits, thus missing their goal.

In short, since man's inclination towards absolute perfection is innate, the greater his greed for worldly allurements the more he accumulates them and the more is his heart attracted towards them. Since he mistakenly believes the world and worldly fascinations to be the desired ultimate goal his greed grows day by day and his desire for them multiplies. His need for the world increases and poverty and deprivation becomes his fate(destiny). On the contrary, those who work for the Hereafter, their attention towards the world diminishes, their attention towards the Hereafter increases with their interest therein, and the love for this world and the interest therein diminishes in their hearts till they care no more about the world and its allurements. A sense of richness and plentitude is lodged(wedged) within their hearts and the treasures of this world lose their value in their sight. Therefore, the men of God are oblivious of both the worlds and free of care for both of them. Their only need is related to Absolute Plentitude. Absence of need and presence of plentitude are infused in their hearts by the light of the Needless-in-Itself.

In the light of the above exposition, the tradition means to say that whosoever makes the world his biggest concern from morning till night, God Almighty puts poverty into his eyes. And whosoever spends his morning and evening making the Hereafter his biggest concern, God Almighty puts plentitude into his heart. It is obvious that the one whose heart attends to the, Hereafter, for him all the worldly matters become insignificant, trivial, and easy. ' He views the world as temporary, transitory; and short-lived, a place where he is for the sole purpose of educating and training himself. He is indifferent to its sufferings and joys. His needs become few, and his dependence on the matters of the world and its inhabitants becomes lesser, and reaches a point where he has no need of them at all. His affairs become integrated and organized, and an inalienable sense of contentment enters his heart. Therefore, the more you look at this world with wonder and love, the more your heart will be attached to it, and your need for it will also increase proportionally to your love. A sense of poverty and privation will appear on the surface of your personality, your affairs will become disjointed and dissipated. Your heart will become anxious, melancholic, and fearful, and your affairs will not be carried out according to your wishes. Your hope and greed will increase day by day. Grief and regret will seize you; bewilderment(surprise) and despair will invade your heart. Some of these points have been alluded to in the following traditions from al-Kafi:

On the authority of Hafs ibn Qurt, Abu `Abd Allah (A) is reported to have said: "The greater one's involvement with the world, the greater shall be his regret at the time of parting from it" [9]

...Ibn Abi Ya`fur says, "I heard Abu 'Abd Allah as saying, `Whoever has a heart attached to the world, has three things attached to his heart: unremitting sadness, unfulfilled desire, and unachievable hope.' " [10]

But the otherworldly, the nearer they come to the Court of the Beneficent, the more joyful and tranquil(serene) their hearts become; they become oblivious, nay disgusted, of this world and whatever is in it. If the Almighty had not decreed their terms of life, they would not have tarried for a single moment in this world. The Mawla of the Muwahhidun, Imam `Ali (A), says about them: "They are not sad(tragic) and dejected here like the people of this world, and in the Hereafter they will be immersed in the oceans of His Mercy." May God include you and us with them, God willing.

So, my dear, now you know about the evils of this love and attachment, and have learnt how this love can destroy a human being. It deprives the human being of his' faith, and makes a mess(sewage) of his life in the Hereafter as well as in this world. Make up your mind, and try to curtail your love and loosen the bondage to this world as far as possible. Eradicate its roots, and consider this short life in this world as insignificant. Do not attach any value to its pleasures, mixed as they are with punishment, sorrow, and pain. Seek help from God, so that He may succour you in relieving your self from its scourge and suffering, and familiarize your heart with the noble abode that lies with Him. And whatever lies with God is better and lasting.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. IV (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Hashim Rasuli), p. 8.

[2]. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al- anwar.

[3]. Nahj al-balaghah (e.d. Subhi al-Salih), Hikam, No. 131.

[4]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 2.

[5]. Ibid., vol. iv, p.3.

[6]. Nahj al- balaghah, Khutab, No. 5.

[7]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. iii, p. 205.

[8]. Mir Damad, al-Qabasat, p. 72.

[9]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 9.

[10]. ibid., vol. iv, p. 9.

...Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni), from 'Ali ibn Ibrahim, from Muhammad ibn 'Isa, from Yunus, from Dawud ibn Farqad, who reports al 'Imam al-Sadiq (A) to have said: "Anger is the key (that opens the door) to all kinds of vices." [1]

 

Exposition:

The great researcher Ahmad ibn Muhammad, popularly known as Ibn Maskawayh, in his book Taharat al-'a`raq, which is a fine book of rare excellence in beauty of style and orderliness of contents, writes something which can be summarized as follows: Anger, in fact, is an inner psychic movement(mobility) due to which a state of agitation is produced in the heart's blood, arousing a desire for vengeance. And when this agitation becomes more violent, it intensifies the fire of anger. A violent commotion in the blood seizes the heart, filling the arteries and the brain with a flurry of dark smoke, on account of which the mind and the intellect lose control and become powerless. At that time, as the hukama' maintain, the inner state of the person resembles a cave where fire has broken out, filling it with flames and suffocating clouds of smoke that leap out of its mouth with intense heat and a fiery howl. When that happens, it becomes extremely difficult to pacify such a person and to extinguish the fire of his wrath; whatever is thrown in it to cool it down becomes a part of it, adding to its intensity. It is for this reason that such a man becomes blinded to propriety and deaf to guidance. In such a condition, there is no hope for him. Then Ibn Maskawayh adds: "Hippocrates says that he is more hopeful about a ship encircled by a fierce storm and violent winds which has been knocked(jolted) away from its course by the sea waves into rocky waters, than about an enraged person. Because, in such conditions, the sailors may somehow cope to save the ship by means of clever manoeuvers, but there is no hope of deliverance for the soul engulfed in rage; for all such efforts as counsel, advice, and exhortation fail to appease him. The more one tries to pacify it through humble entreaties and tearful supplications, the more violent it becomes."

 

Advantages of al-Quwwah al-Ghadabiyyah (The Power of Anger):

It should be known that the Power of Anger is one of the biggest favours of God conferred upon His creatures, by means of which they are enabled to pursue activities constructive to their world and Hereafter, are assured the continuity of the species as well as, the safety and survival of the individual and the family. It also plays a great role in the establishment and maintenance of social order and civic life.' If this noble faculty were not ingrained in the animal's nature, it would not have been able to defend itself against natural adversities, and would have been defenceless against the dangers of destruction and extinction. And if it were absent in the human nature, man would have failed to achieve most of his accomplishments and attainments. Moreover, even its deficiency and insufficient presence below the moderate level is itself considered a moral weakness and flaw which gives rise to innumerable vices and defects like: fear; timidity; weakness; laxity; laziness; greed; lack of restraint, patience and tolerance; lack of constancy and perseverance when needed; love of comfort; torpor; lethargy; submissiveness to oppression and tyranny; submitting to insults and disgraces to which an individual or his family may be subjected; dastardliness; spiritlessness, etc. Describing the qualities of the believers God Almighty says:

... (The believers) are hard against the unbelievers and merciful among themselves... (48:29)

The fulfilment of the duty of al-'Amr bi al-ma`ruf wa al-nahy `an al-munkar (to enjoin good conduct. and forbid indecency), the implementation of hudud (punishment prescribed by the Islamic penal law), ta'zirat (punishments adjudged by a judge), and the carrying out of other policies set forth by religion or guided by reason, would not have been possible without the existence of this noble Power of Anger. On this basis, those who believe in eradicating the Power of Anger and consider its destruction as an accomplishment and mark of perfection are highly(richly) mistaken and in great error, ignorant as they are about the signs of perfection and the bounds of moderation. Poor fellows, they do not know that God Almighty has not created this noble faculty in vain in all the species belonging to the animal kingdom. To the children of Adam (A) He bestowed this power as the source of securing a good life in this world and the Hereafter, and a vehicle for procuring various blessings and felicities. The holy jihad with the enemies(foes) of the Din; the struggle for the preservation of mankind's social order; the defence and protection of one's own life, property and honour, as well as the Divine values and laws; and above all the combat with one's inner self, which is the biggest enemy of man, none of these could be possible without the existence of this noble faculty. It is under the banner of this noble faculty that aggressions and encroachments upon rights are repelled, borders and frontiers are protected, and other social and individual offences, noxious practices, and harmful deeds are checked. It is for this very reason that the hukama' have recommended various remedies for treating any deficiency in this Power, and prescribed numerous practical and theoretical remedies for the purpose of its regeneration, like participation in acts of heroism and going to battlefronts on the occasion of war with the enemies of God. It is even narrated of some sages that they used to visit risky places, stayed there and exposed themselves to great perils and dangers. They would board a ship at a time while the sea was turbulent and stormy, so that they might get rid of fear and overcome their timidity and sluggishness. In any case, the Power of Anger is ingrained in the nature of human beings and animals, except that in some cases it is dormant and torpid, like a fire smouldering under the ashes. If someone perceives in himself any signs of torpor and lack of the sense of honour, he must try to overcome this condition by means of its antidote, courage, which is a commendable quality and a moral virtue, to return to a normal state. We shall have occasion to refer to it again in due course.

 

The Vice of Immoderation in Anger:

In the same way as the deficiency and lack of moderation(self-control) is considered a moral vice and source of numerous moral corruptions, the excess and going beyond the upper limits of moderation is also regarded, morally, as a vice and source of countless deviations. The tradition quoted in al-Kafi is sufficient to indicate the dangers of such a state:

It is reported on the authority of al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Apostle of God (S) said: "Anger spoils faith in the same way as vinegar destroys honey." [2]

It may happen that someone gets angry and, in a bout of extreme anger, turns away from the Din of God. The hot flames and the dark fumes of anger(irritation)   not only destroy his faith by consuming his righteous beliefs, they also lead him to apostatize by rejecting God, thus leading him to eternal damnation. And when he becomes aware of it, his remorse is of no avail, as the fire of anger, which was lit by a spark thrown in by Satan, continues to roar(yell) in his heart, as al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) has said:

Indeed, this anger is the spark lit by Satan [3] in the heart of the son of Adam.

In the next world this fire will the form of the fire of Divine Wrath, as reported from al-Baqir (A) in al-Kafi:

It is recorded in the Torah regarding that which God Almighty confided to Moses (A), saying: "O Moses, control your anger towards those over whom I have given you authority, so that I may spare you from My Wrath." [4]

It must be known that no fire is more painful than the fire of Divine Wrath. It is mentioned in a tradition that Jesus, the son of Mary, was asked by his disciples as to which of the things is the hardest to bear. "The Fury of the Most High God is the hardest thing to bear," he replied. They questioned him, "How can we save ourselves from it?" "By not getting angry," Jesus said.

Therefore, it must be obvious that God's Wrath is more painful and severer than any thing else, and the fire of His Fury is most destructive. The Hereafterly form of our anger in this world is the fire of Divine Wrath in the next world. In the same way as anger emanates from the heart, perhaps the fire of Divine Wrath, which is the abode of our anger and all other inner vices, will also emanate from the inner depths of the heart and spread over the external being, and its tormenting flames will emerge from the external sense organs like the eyes, the ears, and the tongue. Rather, the external senses are themselves the doors which shall be opened to the fire of Hell. The fire of the hell of deeds and the physical hell encompasses the without and travels towards the within. Hence man is tortured from both the sides by these two hells: one emanates from within the heart and its flames enter the body through pia mater of the brain, and the other, which is the result of the vicious deeds, advances towards the inner being from without, and man is subjected to torments and pressures. What sort of torment and torture it will be? God alone knows what pain and distress it will bring in addition to the burning and melting. You imagine that the topological mode of the Hell's encompassment is something that you know. Here things are surrounded only externally and outwardly; but in that world, encirclement will occur both externally and internally; it will cover the outer surface of the body as well as the inner depths of the human heart and being.

And if, God forbid, anger becomes permanent part of one's nature, it will be more catastrophic; for the form that such a one shall in the Barzakh and on the Day of Resurrection will be a beastly form, that too one which has no match in this world; for the brutality of the person in this state cannot be compared with any of the ferocious beasts. In the same way-as none of the creatures can touch this marvel of nature from the aspect of attainment of nobility and perfection, so also from the aspect of his capacity for degeneration and meanness and his leaning towards perverseness, man cannot be compared with any creature. It is about his perverseness that the Holy Quran says:

... These are as the cattle-nay, they are worse in misguidance .... (7:179)

It is about the hardness of the human heart that it says:

... (Then the hearts of the Jews) became hardened like stones, or even yet harder... (2:74)

All this that you have heard about the evil effects of this consuming fire of anger is merely a fraction of its danger. It holds true in cases where no other vice and offence spring from it, that is, if this inner fire lies dormant in the inner darkness, having been choked and suffocated, although having extinguished the light of faith by its dense smoke. However, it is very rare, or rather impossible, that in a fit of its intense conflagration one should remain immune from committing other, even mortal, sins. It happens that in a brief(concise) outburst of anger, this cursed firebrand thrown by the Devil, man falls(drops) over the precipice of destruction and doom. He may even, God be our refuge, abuse the prophets of God and saints, assassinate an innocent person, or desecrate something holy, thus bringing about his own destruction in the world as well as in the Hereafter, as is mentioned in a hadith of al-Kafi:

It is reported from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said that his father used to say: "Is there anything more violent than anger? Verily, a man gets angry and kills(slaughters) someone whose blood has been forbidden by God, or slanders a married woman."[5]

Many atrocious deeds have been committed under a spell of anger and its agitation. Therefore, one, while in a state of tranquillity of mind, should be apprehensive of his own anger if he is in a habit of often getting angry. He should contemplate upon its cure, when in a state of mental composure, and think about its causes, its bad consequences and repercussions, and he should strive to get rid of it. He should consider that a faculty which was granted by God Almighty for the sake of the preservation of the world's order, for the continuity and survival of human species and individual, for the discipline and order of the family system, for the advancement and progress of humankind, and for protecting human rights and safeguarding Divine laws, a faculty under whose shadow the detectable as well as the invisible system of the visible world and the hidden world is to be reformed and maintained, if he acts contrary to this purpose and makes use(utilize) of this power against the Divine design, it will be a breach of trust of a severe kind that deserves censure and punishment. What an act of ignorance and injustice it is not to fulfil the Divine trust, by employing what could be easily employed for the purposes of justice in incurring His Wrath. It is clear that such a person will not be sheltered from the Divine Wrath. Hence it is in order to think seriously about the moral vices and vicious deeds that are the outcome of anger, and to try to remove the effects of this crooked quality, each one of which is capable of afflicting a person till eternity, causing many a calamity in this world as well as chastisement and damnation in the Hereafter.

Moral Hazards of Anger:

As to the moral hazards, it may cause malice towards creatures of God, leading sometimes even to the enmity not only of prophets and awliya', but also of the Holy Essence of the Necessary Being and the Nourisher. This shows how dangerous and disgraceful its consequences may be. I seek refuge in God from the evil of the rebellious self, which, if left reinless for a moment, throws one down rolling in the dust of ignominy or dashes with him towards eternal damnation. It may also give rise to other vices, like hasad, about whose evils you have read in the exposition of the fifth tradition, and many more besides it.

Its Behavioural Hazards:

There is no limit to the behavioural hazards that are products of this vice. Perhaps, it may lead one, God save us, to use abusive language or revile the prophets of God and awliya'. Or he may desecrate sanctities and utter slanders about venerable persons. He may murder a pious soul, wreck the lives of innocent creatures, wreck a family, or reveal the secrets of others tearing up the veils that cover them. There seems to be no limit to such monstrous acts that man may commit at the time of outbreak of this faith-consuming fire that also destroys many homes. As such, it can be said that this habit is the mother of all spiritual maladies and the key to each and every evil action. As opposed to this vice is the ability to restrain one's anger. This ability to extinguish the fire of anger has been considered the essence of wisdom and the focus of all virtues and noble qualities, as stated in this tradition of al-Kafi

(Al-Kulayni says:) From a number of our (i.e. al-Kulayni's) companions, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid (al-Barqi), who narrates on the authority of a chain of narrators from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he heard his father (al-'Imam al-Baqir [A]) as saying: "A Bedouin came to the Prophet (S) and said: `I live in the desert. Teach me the essence of wisdom.' Thereupon the Prophet (S) said to him: `I command you not to get angry' After repeating his question thrice (and hearing the same reply from the Prophet every time) the Bedouin said to himself: `After this I will not ask any question, since the Apostle of God (S) does not command anything but good'." Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) says: "My father used to say, `Is there anything more violent than anger? Verily, a man gets angry and kills(butchers) someone whose blood has been forbidden by God, or slanders a married woman'." [6]

After that a wise person coolly ponders upon its evil consequences and the benefits of restraint, he should make it incumbent upon himself to put out this fire in the region of his heart with every possible effort and to clear from his heart the black soot of its smoke. This is something which is not very difficult when one resolves to act against one's inner self and its desires, after having reflected upon their evil effects and by admonishing one's self. In fact, one may get rid of all moral evils and ugly spiritual traits and all good qualities and excellences of character and soul whenever he resolves to improve his spiritual condition.

                                                       Controlling Anger:

There are also several practical and theoretical remedies for curing anger when it has flared up. The theoretical remedy involves reflecting upon the matters mentioned above, which is also a kind of practical remedy in this case. But among the practical remedies the important ones involve withholding of the self in the initial stages of anger. This is because it is ignited little by little, becoming more intense until its furnace is set burning fiercely and its flame becomes violent and furious. When that happens, it gets completely out of control and shuts off the lights of one's faith and intellect. Blowing off the lamp of guidance, it reduces man to an utterly wretched state. Therefore, one should be on one's guard so as to dissociate oneself by some means before its fierceness mounts and its fire becomes more violent. He should either leave the place where his anger may be provoked, or change his posture: that is, if seated, he should stand up, and if standing sit down, or engage his mind in the remembrance of God (some people consider it even obligatory), or he should make himself busy in some other activity to divert his attention. In any case, it is easier to put a curb on it in the beginning. It has two results. Firstly, he will be able to pacify his self at that early stage and the flames of anger will be put out. Secondly, the experience will always remain with one as a primary cure for treating one's self. If one always pays attention to one's condition and treats one's self in this way, one will undergo a complete transformation as one's inner state moves towards the point of moderation. An allusion to this matter is made in the following traditions from al-Kafi:

It is reported from al 'Imam al-Baqir (A) that he said. "Verily, anger is a spark ignited by the Devil in the human heart. Indeed, when anyone of you gets angry, his eyes become red, the veins of his neck become swollen and Satan enters them. Therefore, whosoever among you is concerned about himself on account of it, he should lie down for a while so that the filth of Satan may be removed from him at the time." [7]

Maysir reports that once anger was discussed in the presence of al-'Imam al Baqir (A). He said: "Verily, it happens that an angry person would not be satisfied until he enters the Fire (i.e. his anger does not subside unless it drags him into the hellfire). Therefore, whoever is angry with someone let him sit down immediately if he is standing; for, indeed, it would repel from him the uncleanliness of Satan. And whoever gets angry with his kinsman, let him approach him and pat him; for the feeling of consanguinity, when stimulated by touch, induces calmness." [8]

These two traditions suggest two practical remedies of anger in its initial stage. One is general and recommends sitting down and bringing about a change in posture (according to another tradition, if somebody be seated at the time of getting angry, he should stand up). It is reported by Sunni sources that the Apostle of God (S), if he ever got angry while standing, would sit down, and if seated, would recline, and his anger would subside. The other remedy which is particular is concerned with blood relations and suggests that if anybody gets angry with someone related to him by blood, if he touches him with his hand his anger will cool down.

These are the methods(technique) of curing oneself of one's anger; but if others want to treat an enraged person, if his anger is in the initial stage, any one of the methods(Procedures)  from among the various practical and theoretical ones suggested may be useful. But if he is in extreme anger, advice and counsel give opposite results, and it becomes very difficult to treat him in this stage, except by being put in a state of alarm by someone whom he holds in high esteem; for anger vents itself on those whom one deems weaker and inferior to oneself or at least as equal in power and position. But in front of those persons with whom he is impressed, his anger is never provoked. Rather his outer excitement and agitation will be transformed(revolutionized) into an internal fury confined to his inner self. Not finding any outlet, it will change into a grief within the heart. Hence, it is not at all an easy task to appease a person undergoing outbursts of extreme rage. We seek refuge in God from it.

 

How to Eradicate the Roots of Anger:

Among the fundamental remedies of anger, one is to exterminate the factors responsible for its provocation. They are many, and here we can mention only a few of them. One of them is self-love, which in 'turn begets the love of wealth, glory, and honour and the desire to impose one's will and expand one's domain of power. These factors are inherently responsible for exciting the fire of anger, as the individual infatuated with these things tends to hold them in high regard and they occupy a high place in his heart. He, improperly, gets angry and excited if any one of these aspired goals is not achieved or when his desire faces any obstacle and loses control over himself. Greed, avarice, and such other vices that take root in his heart as a result of self-love and the love of glory, snatch the reins of reason from his hands, forsaking the self to commit deeds that deviate from the path of Divine Law and reason. But if his love and interest in these things is not intense-and he gives lesser importance to these matters, his inner calm(hush) and contentment, obtained by giving up the love of wealth, honour and the like, will not allow his self to act against the demands of justice. Then, he will not find it difficult to maintain his patience(stamina) in hardships, and will not lose grip of self-restraint. He would not get angry unnecessarily and abnormally. If the love of the world is eradicated from his heart and this vice is completely wiped out, then all other vices also take leave and vanish from it, vacating the realm of the soul to be taken over by moral virtues.

Another factor that arouses anger is that sometimes anger and its evil manifestations, which are in fact great moral defects and indecencies, are imagined to be merits and accomplishments on account of ignorance and lack of understanding. Some fools reckon those vices as marks of bravery and courage and brag about themselves on account of them. They confuse(trip up) the virtue of valour, which is a superb attribute of the believer's character and a commendable quality, with this pernicious vice. However, it should be noted that courage or valour is a different thing, and its source, its causes, effects and characteristics differ totally from those of that injurious vice. Courage originates in the strength of one's spirit, serenity of mind, moderateness, faith, and lack of concern for the vanities of life and indifference to its vicissitudes; whereas anger is the product of spiritual weakness and degeneration, insufficiency of faith, immoderation of character and soul, love of the world and concern for mundane things and the fear of losing the pleasures of life. Hence this vice is found more frequently in women than in men, more in sick individuals than in healthy people, more in children than in grown ups, more in the elderly than in young people. Valour and courage is its opposite. Those suffering from moral infirmities are more liable to get angry sooner than those who are morally sound. Thus, we often see such people get angry sooner and becoming fiercer if any encroachment is made upon their property than the others.

This was about the origins and motives of anger and courage. However, they are also different as to their effects. The irascible person, when under the spell of anger and its excitement, behaves unreasonably like a lunatic or like an animal which acts without rationally considering the consequences of its actions, and commits ugly and indecent acts. His tongue, limbs, and other parts of the body go out of his control. His eyes, lips and mouth are distorted in such an ugly manner that he will be ashamed of his ugly features if he is shown a mirror at the time. Some persons who are afflicted with this vice not only do not refrain from venting their anger on innocent animals, but do not spare even inanimate things. They curse air, water, earth, snow, rain and other elements of nature if anything happens against their wish. Sometimes they vent their fury on a book, pen, glass or jug, tearing it up or busting it into pieces.

But the behaviour of a courageous person is different in all these matters. His acts are based on reason and tranquillity of soul. He gets angry on the proper occasion and is patient and restrained when required to be so. He is not provoked or incensed by each and every annoyance. He becomes angry on the proper occasion to the proper extent and takes his vengeance with reason and discretion. He knows well as to against whom to take his revenge, on what occasion, to what degree and in what manner, and as to whom he should forgive and what to overlook and ignore. In the state of anger, he does not lose control of his reason, and he never makes use of indecent language nor acts indiscreetly. All his acts are based on rational considerations and are in accordance with the norms of justice and Divine Law. He always acts in such a manner so as not to regret later on.

Thus an aware human being should not confuse(mix up) this quality, which is one of the attributes of prophets, awliya' and true believers and is considered a spiritual accomplishment and achievement, with the vice which is one of the attributes of Satan, a diabolical incitement, a spiritual abomination and a flaw of the heart. Yet, the veils of ignorance and folly and the curtains of self-love and attachment to the world cover man's hearing and blind his vision, rendering him helpless and bringing about his destruction.

Certain other causes of anger(irritation)  have also been pointed out, such as `ujb, bragging (iftikhar), pride (kibr), disputatiousness (mira'), obstinacy (lajaj), jesting and the like; but to go into their details will prolong this discussion and might be cumbersome. Possibly most or all of them, directly or indirectly, originate in the two sources already discussed. And praise be to God.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 412.

[2]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 412.

[3]. Ibid., p. 415.

[4] Ibid., pp. 412-413.

[5] Ibid., pp. 412-413.

[6] Ibid., pp. 412-413.

[7]. Ibid., p. 415.

[8]. Ibid., p. 412.

... Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni), from `Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from al-Nawfali, from al-Sakuni, who reports on the authority of Abu `Abd Allah (al-Imam al-Sadiq ) (A) that the Prophet (S) said: "Whosoever possesses in his heart 'asabiyyah (prejudice in any of its forms such as tribalism, racism, nationalism) even to the extent of a mustard seed, God will raise him on the Day of Resurrection with the (pagan) Beduins of the Jahiliyyah (the pre-Islamic era).' [1]

 

Exposition:

Although now khardal is current in modern Persian for the mustard seed, the word for it in old Persian was espandan. It is said that the mustard seed has many medicinal uses and is also used for making candles. As to the word `asabiyyah it is the characteristic of the person who supports his kinsmen and relatives even for a amiss and unjust cause. `Usbah refers to paternal relatives, as they are more likely to be those among whom one is surrounded (`asaba: to wrap around) and those from whom one derives strength (`asaba means, also, to bind). `Asabiyyah and ta'assub in general give the sense of favouring and defending. So much for the lexical meaning.

As to its nature, I believe that `asabiyyah is an inner psychic quality which is manifested in patronizing and defending one's kindred and those with whom one has some kind of affinity or relation, whether it be religious creed or ideology, or whether it be soil or home. The affinity may also be similarity of profession or the relationship of teacher and pupil, or something else. It is a moral vice and an abominable trait which itself begets many more moral and behavioural deviations and vices as well. In itself a condemnable quality, it may take the form of defence of truth or religion, but in reality it is not aimed to defend a just and truthful cause but for extending one's own influence or that of one's co-religionists and allies.

As to the defence of truth, the efforts to disseminate it and to posit something which is true, are either not `asabiyyah, or, if they are, represent a commendable kind of it. The criterion lies in the distinct aims and purposes, and to the extent to which it involves selfish and diabolical ends or serves just and godly purposes. In other words, when a man supports his kinsmen and friends, if he does so purely for the sake of upholding justice and defeating injustice, this kind of `asabiyyah is commendable and praiseworthy; because supporting justice and truth is among the sublimest of human qualities, being one of the attributes of the prophets of God (A) and His awliya'. Its sign is that one should support the party which is on the side of truth and justice, even though it may consist of one's enemies(foes). Such a person is a defender and lover of truth; he will be counted among the champions of human sublimity, a rightful citizen of the ideal human society, and a wholesome member of society whose presence exerts a reforming influence on the evils of the public. And if one's selfish and tribal instincts arouse him to defend and patronize the vices and wrongs of his kinsmen and associates, he is inflicted with the vice of `asabiyyah; he is a corrupt member of society, who corrupts it by confusing vice with virtue, and stands with the Beduins of the Jahiliyyah, who were a clump of nomadic Arabs who inhabited the desert before the advent of Islam, in an era of prevalence of darkness and ignorance. This vice had taken hold of them to the highest degree, and among Arabs in general, who are guided by the light of guidance (through Islam) this vice is more than in any other nation. According to a tradition reported from Imam `Ali (A), God Almighty will punish six clumps(cluster) of people for six kinds of sins: He will punish the Arabs for `asabiyyah, the peasants for pride, the rulers for oppression, the jurisprudents for jealousy, the merchants(traders) for dishonesty, and the villagers for ignorance.

 

The Evils of `asabiyyah:

From traditions narrated from the Household of the Prophet (S) it may be inferred that the vice of `asabiyyah is one of the fatal sins, which results in an evil life in the Hereafter and drives man out from the precincts of faith, being one of the abominable traits of the Devil:

[In al-Kafi, through a chain of authentic narrators], it is reported from Abu `Abd Allah (al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Prophet (S) said: "The one who exerts `asabiyyah or the one on whose behalf it is exerted, the tie of faith is taken off his neck." [2]

That is, such a man is deprived of faith and abandoned(deserted). As to the person in whose interest `asabiyyah is exerted, perhaps he is also included in the hadith due to his compliance to the behaviour of the one exerting `asabiyyah and hence made to share his lot jointly. And it is stated in hadith that whosoever approves of the action of a certain group is counted amongst it. However, if he does not approve of it and detests it, this tradition would not apply to him.

Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said: "Whosoever practises `asabiyyah (against someone), God shall wrap around him (`asabahu) a fold (`isabah) of Fire." [3]

Al-'Imam 'Ali ibn al-Husayn (A) is reported to have said: No hamiyyah shall ever enter Paradise, except the hamiyyah of Hamzah ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, which was (expressed) at the time when he became a Muslim on account of his anger in support of the Prophet (S)." [4]

The episode of Hamzah's conversion to Islam has been reported variously, and is not relevant to our discussion. In any case, it is obvious that faith-which is the invisible holy gift of God to His special servants, the sincere devotees of His Court, and the champions of His love-is contrary to a quality that disregards truth and reality and tramples truthfulness and uprightness under its feet. Of course, if the mirror of the heart be covered with the dust of self-love and the love of the kindred and improper and blind `asabiyyah, the light of faith will not shine in it; it will not be fit to be the hidden abode of the Most High. The person whose heart has been the mirror for the light of faith and gnosis, the one whose neck has been tied in the firm(tight) and unbreakable rope(tethering) of faith, the one who is the hostage of reality and Divine knowledge, the one who remains wedded to the religious precepts and confined to rational principles and laws, the one who derives all his impulses from reason and Divine Law-no force of customs, ways, or familiar things can cause him to quiver(quake) or deviate from the right path. One can profess Islam and claim iman only when he is submissive(meek) to truth and humble in front of it, and when he deems his own aims and purposes, no matter however great they may be, as trivial and transitory, before the aims and purposes of his Lord and Provider; he annihilates his own will in the Will of his real Lord. Of necessity, such a person will be free from all traces of ignorant `asabiyyah; his face will be turned towards reality, and thick curtains of ignorance and `asabiyyah would not obstruct his vision. When called to administer justice and utter the word of truth, he puts a firm foot on the head of all associations and ties, sacrificing all ties of kinship and customary affinities at the altar of the aims and objectives of his Lord. If there is a clash between the Islamic `asabiyyah and the `asabiyyah of the Jahiliyyah, he gives precedence to his Islamic `asabiyyah and his `asabiyyah for truth. An enlightened human being knows that all the `asabiyyahs and all associations(organization) and relationships are merely transitory accidents and are perishable. The only relationship that is permanent and lasting and the only `asabiyyah that is true, is the relationship between the Creator and the created being, and is essential and unbreakable; it is firmer, higher, and prior to all the ties of lineage and alliance.

 

A Prophetic Tradition:

The Prophet of God (S) is reported to have said:

All the ties of lineage and affinity will be broken on the Day of Resurrection except the ties of my lineage and affinity.

It is obvious that the ties of lineage and affinity of that holy personage are spiritual and lasting, and free from all pre-Islamic biases and `asabiyyahs. In fact the spiritual ties of lineage will be more vivid in that world and its merits more conspicuous. On the other hand, the physical and terrestrial relationships that are rooted in human habits and customs are very weak and fragile and are broken easily. None of them have any worth and value whatsoever in the next world, except those relationships that are established according to the Divine celestial system and under the auspices of the precepts of the Law and dictates of reason: only they are unbreakable and unseverable.

 

The Otherworldly Form of `asabiyyah:

It was mentioned in some of the ahadith discussed previously that the criteria of the otherworldly forms, which human traits will in the Barzakh and on the Day of Resurrection, are the habits and qualities and their strength. That world is the domain of the dominance of the spirit(apparition) and the subservience of the body. It is possible that men should be raised in the forms of animals or satans. The present tradition which we are expounding, and which maintains that `the person who possesses in his heart `asabiyyah even to the extent of a mustard seed, God Almighty will resurrect him on the Day of Judgement with the Beduins of the pre-Islamic era', may also refer to the above-mentioned point. The man possessing this vice, after being transferred to the other world may behold himself as one of the pre Islamic heathen Beduins, who neither had faith in God Almighty nor believed in prophets and prophethood. Whatever the inner and outer form of that tribe had been, he will find himself when resurrected as one of them. Perhaps he will himself not understand as to why such a thing would happen to him, while in the world he professed the true religion of God and claimed to be an adherent of the faith of the Holy Prophet (S). It is mentioned in a tradition that the inhabitants of Hell will not be able to remember the name of the Prophet (S), and, as such, would not be able to introduce themselves as his followers, unless God Almighty resolves on their deliverance. And since, according to some of the traditions, the trait of `asabiyyah is one of the attributes of Satan, may be the heathen Beduins of the pre-Islamic era, as well as the individuals possessing the primitive habit of `asabiyyah would be resurrected in the form of Satan:

(According to a reliable hadith of al-Kafi), Abu `Abd Allah (al-'Imam al Sadiq) (A) is reported to have said: "Verily, the angels counted Satan as one of themselves, and it was in the knowledge of God that he was not of them; then he spoke out whatever was inside him, out of hamiyyah and anger, and said (to God): 'Thou createdst me of fire, and him (Adam) Thou didst create of clay." [5]

Thus my dear, you should know that this vice belongs to Satan and is a fallacy inspired in you by that accursed being based on false analogical inference. He committed the mistake because of the dense veils of `asabiyyah. This veil conceals all realities from the sight, or rather shows all one's vices as virtues and the virtues of others as vices. And it is obvious as to where the deeds of the person who beholds things in a contrary perspective would lead him. Besides being itself a source of human ruin and doom, it gives rise to a number of moral, spiritual and behavioural villainies, the description of which would be cumbersome. As such, a wise(shrewd) person, who understands these villainies as the products of this vice and confirms the testimony of the truthful Holy Prophet (S)-whose truthfulness has been confirmed by God-and the Members of his Household (A), who all state that this trait leads man to destruction and makes him an inhabitant of the Fire, should seriously consider about curing himself, and if, God forbid, there is the slightest speck of this vice in his heart, equal to the size(bulk) of a mustard seed, he should purge it, so that he may be thoroughly purified before leaving this world and being transferred to the next. He should be free from this vice at the hour of his death, so as to put his feet into the other world with a pure soul. He should keep in his mind that he has fiery little time and very limited opportunity; for he does not know as to when he will have to depart from this world.

 

A Colloquy With the Self:

O my vicious self! Perhaps your death may approach while you are still busy in writing these pages, and transfer you with all your moral vices to the next world from where there is no return. And O you dear reader of these pages, draw a lesson from the life of this writer who may be today under the ground and in the other world, a victim of his ugly acts and wicked behaviour. As long as he was given opportunity, he spent the precious days of his life in vain pursuit of lusts and desires and squandered that gift of God with vain profligacy. Yet you must be careful as you too shall be in a condition similar to his, and you don't know when. Perhaps as you are reading these pages, the opportunity may slip(stumbled) if you go on procrastinating. O brother! Do not put off these matters; they are not to be postponed. Remember, how many hail and hearty people have suddenly been snatched away by the claws of death, and we have no knowledge about what awaited them in the Hereafter.

Therefore, do not let the chance slip and consider every second as precious; for the matter matters a lot and the journey is a perilous one. If you lose the opportunity of doing something in this world, which is the field whose harvest is the Hereafter, you will not be able to do anything any more and you will not be able to straighten your crookedness. There will be nothing left except regret, perplexity, chastisement, and degradation. The men of God were never at ease even for a little while; they were never oblivious of the perilous and hazardous journey ahead. The condition of the fourth Imam 'Ali ibn al-Husayn (A) was amazing. The laments of Amir al-Mu'minin Imam `Ali (A) are stunning. What is the matter with us that we are so negligent? Who has given us assurance except the Devil, who makes us put off our actions for tomorrow and wants to bulge the number of his followers and companions by making us share his attributes? Doesn't he, in this way, want to include us in his company so that we may be resurrected in his retinue? The accursed creature always diminishes the importance and seriousness of the matters of the Hereafter in our eyes, and makes us oblivious of the remembrance of God and obedience to His commands by means of the promises of His mercy and the intercession of the intercessors. But, alas, such temptations have no truth and belong to the deceitful paraphernalia of the snares of that accursed creature. Of course, even at present, you are immersed in the mercy and compassion of God, rejoicing in the gifts of sound health and well-being, life and safety, guidance and reason, opportunity and directions for the reformation of the soul and other such myriad favours. Yet you are not drawing benefit from these favours in this world by complacently following the Devil. Beware if you fail to draw any benefit from God's mercy in this world, in the next world also you will not be able to benefit from the infinite mercy of God and the intercession of the intercessors. The guidance provided by them is this-worldly reflection of the intercession of the intercessors in the next world and the otherworldly reflection of the guidance provided by them here is intercession. But if you cannot benefit from the guidance, remember that you will not be able to receive the benefit of intercession either; it depends on the guidance you utilize here. The intercession of the Holy Prophet (S) is general and universal; however, like the blessings of God, the receiver must have capacity to receive it. If, God forbid, Satan robs you of the faculty of faith, you will be incapable and unworthy of receiving Divine mercy and the intercession of the intercessors. Yes, God's bounties in the two worlds are plenty and His mercy unlimited; but if you really seek His mercy, then why do you neglect His unceasing bounties in this world that are like seeds of His favours in the other? All the prophets of God and the awliya' have invited you to the Divine feast, yet you turn away and you do not accept it on account of the evil insinuations of the Devil. You sacrificed the muhkamat (the firm verses) of the Book of God, the mutawatirat of the prophets and awliya', the compelling rational arguments of the wise, and the definite proofs of the hukama' for the fiendish fantasies and fancies of your own. Woe to you and me for our state of neglectfulness, blindness, deafness, and ignorance.

 

On the `asabiyyahs of the Intellectuals:

One of the types of `asabiyyahs is stubbornness in intellectual matters and the habit of supporting the statements and ideas of one's own or that of one's teacher or spiritual master not for the sake of defending truth and refuting falsehood. It is obvious that such a kind of `asabiyyah is worse and more improper in some ways than other types of `asabiyyah. This, because a scholar and an intellectual ought to be an instructor of mankind, scholarship being a branch of the tree of prophethood and wilayah itself. He should be aware of the evil effects and bad consequences of moral vices. If, God forbid, he himself possesses the vice of `asabiyyah and attaches to himself the mean attributes of Satan, he will have scarcely(barely) anything to offer in self-defence and will be taken to task severely. The person who poses himself as a guiding beacon of light, a source of enlightenment in the assembly of mankind, as a guide to the path of felicity, and as one who is charged with the duty of guiding men on the path of Hereafter, if, God forbid, he does not remain faithful to his words and his inner being contradicts his outward appearance, he will be grouped with the hypocrites and the pretentious. He will be branded as an evil scholar, a man of knowledge devoid of good deeds, whose retribution is a painful chastisement, as described by God Almighty in the Holy Quran:

... Wretched is the likeness of those who deny the revelations of Allah. And Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (62:5)

Hence it is essential for scholars to retain their integrity and to keep themselves free from such vices, so that having corrected themselves they may be able to reform their society through a truly effective preaching and exhortations that can penetrate the hearts and minds. The corruption of a scholar can lead to the corruption of a nation. And it is obvious(noticeable) that the vice which generates multiple vices and the transgression which begets other transgressions is worse and greater than an isolated, non-contagious vice in the eyes of the Almighty.

Another hideous aspect of this vice in intellectuals is the atrocity done to knowledge itself; as this `asabiyyah on the part of an intellectual amounts to the abuse of knowledge and disrespect to it. The one who is entrusted with this valuable trust and enrobed in its precious robes, it is his duty to preserve its sanctity and deliver it safely to its owner. And if one is guilty of the `asabiyyah of pagan Beduins with regard to it, he is of course guilty of the sin of breach of trust, an injustice and a major sin and offense. The other ugly side of this vice is the wrong(amiss) done to the other side. Because, the other side that participates in intellectual discourses also comprises of scholars. He too enjoys a sanctity which it is obligatory to observe and to safeguard his honour. Insulting him will be synonymous with violating Divine sanctities, and it is a great sin. Sometimes, senseless `asabiyyahs make one insult scholars. I seek refuge in God from this major offense.

Yet another aspect of `asabiyyah relates to the person in whose favour `asabiyyah is exercised, who may be one's instructor and tutor. He may be forced to disown his pupil, because all the great masters and saints-karram Allah wujuhahum are naturally attracted(drew attention) towards truth and justice and are abhorrent to untruth and injustice. They detest him who violates justice and gives currency to falsehood through his acts of `asabiyyah. Of course, the harms of spiritual disownment are greater than the harms of parental disownment, for spiritual fatherhood is above physical parenthood. Thus it is incumbent upon scholars-may God increase their station and honour-to protect themselves from all moral and behavioural vices, to adorn themselves with the ornaments(jewel) of good deeds and moral virtues, and not to be unmindful of the duties of the holy office which the Most High has bestowed on them, the failure to do which may bring ruin whose extent is not known to any one except God Almighty alone. Wassalam.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Intisharat `Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Tehran), vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), p. 419.

[2]. Ibid.

[3]. Ibid., p. 420.

[4]. Ibid.

[5]. Ibid.


source : Forty Hadith/by Imam Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khumayni
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