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Sunday 26th of June 2022
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Effects of Nifaq

 

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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 HisShari\'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 theShari\'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 `ujbin 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 bial-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-\'Amaliof 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 \'ujbpermeates 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 `ujbalso.

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 whateveror 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 ofkibr. 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 `ujbpresent 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? ... (23:47)

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 salatabout 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 withkibr 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 isone 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 fromhikmah 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 theShari\'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 wajhahin 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.

 

 


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