Tuesday 18th of January 2022
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Definition of Hasad



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

Definition of Hasad:

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

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

The Kinds of Hasad:

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

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

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

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

The Causes and Motives of Hasad:

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

1. Enmity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Evil Effects of Envy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Punishment of the Grave:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  The Source of Moral Corruption:

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

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

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

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

The Practical Remedy for Envy:

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

The Tradition Regarding Remission of Envy:

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

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

As to the following tradition narrated by Hamzah ibn Humran:

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

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


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

[2]. Ibid., p. 418.

[3]. Ibid., p. 416.

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

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

Exposition of the Tradition:

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

Mawlana Majlisi on the Reality of the World:

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

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

The Author's View:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Factors that Promote Worldliness:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

The Vice of Immoderation in Anger:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moral Hazards of Anger:

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

Its Behavioural Hazards:

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

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

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

                                                       Controlling Anger:

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

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


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

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

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

How to Eradicate the Roots of Anger:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[3]. Ibid., p. 415.

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

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

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

[7]. Ibid., p. 415.

[8]. Ibid., p. 412.


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


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

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

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

The Evils of `asabiyyah:

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

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

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


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

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

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

A Prophetic Tradition:

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

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

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

The Otherworldly Form of `asabiyyah:

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

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

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

A Colloquy With the Self:

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

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

On the `asabiyyahs of the Intellectuals:

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

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

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

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

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

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

[2]. Ibid.

[3]. Ibid., p. 420.

[4]. Ibid.

[5]. Ibid.

... Thiqat al-'Islam Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn `Isa, from Muhammad ibn Sinan, from 'Awn ibn al-Qalanisi, from Ibn Abi Ya'fur, who reports Abu `Abd Allah (al-'Imam al-Sadiq) (A) to have said: "One who meets Muslims with a double face and a double tongue, on the Day of Judgement he will come with two tongues of fire." [1]


Double-facedness is the characteristic of the person who assumes an outward appearance and simulates a behaviour which is contrary to his inner state. For instance, one may give an impression of friendship and affection and pretend to be sincere and sympathetic, while in his heart he harbours an opposite feeling. Such a person displays sympathy and friendship in front of people, but is different in their absence.

Double-tonguedness is the quality of the person who praises and flatters people whenever he meets them, appearing to befriend them, but denounces them and speaks slanderously of them in their absence. Therefore, in the light of this description, the first quality may be specified as `behavioural nifaq' and the second as `verbal nifaq'. Perhaps the tradition refers to the evil of nifaq, since these two features are among the prominent and peculiar characteristics of the munafiqun (hypocrites).

Nifaq is one of psychic maladies and a vicious quality with its own specific signs and symptoms. It has also numerous grades and degrees, which, God willing, we shall discuss, together with their method(Procedure)  of treatment, in the following sections.

Degrees of Nifaq:

It should be known that, like other vices and virtues, there are different degrees and stages of intensity and weakness of nifaq. In the case of any vice, if one does not take steps to cure it and does not persevere in the course of its treatment, it would lead him towards its extreme degrees, for there is no limit to the degree of intensity of vices and virtues. If man leaves his carnal self to its wishes, its innate propensity towards corruption, its instinctive appetite for worldly pleasures, the assistance of the Satan and the insinuations of the Khannas, all together incline it towards evil, and its vices, increasing day by day in intensity, reach the stage when they become an intrinsic, essential and ultimate quality of the soul. Then the regions of one's inner being as well as outer self come under its sovereignty and rule. And if the vice is characteristic of the Devil, such as nifaq and double-facedness, which are attributes of that cursed being-whom the Quran quotes as having said to Adam and Eve:

And he swore unto them (saying): Lo. I am a sincere adviser unto you. (7:21)

whereas in reality he was the opposite of what he claimed-the realm of your being will be annexed by the Devil's empire. When that happens, the ultimate form the spirit acquires will be satanic, and its inner essence and substance will also be satanic in nature. It is also possible that the external appearance in the next world will be of the Satan, though here you have a human form and appearance.

Thus, if man does not try to guard himself from this vice and allows his carnal self to act according to its wishes, within a short time all the means of control will be so thoroughly gone that all his labours and efforts will be put into the service of this vice. With whomever he will come in contact, he will meet and greet him double-facedly and with a double tongue. Socially, his intercourse and relations with others will become tainted with the vice of duplicity, dissemblance and hypocrisy. He will have no other objective except his own personal benefit and no goal except self-aggrandizement. Having trampled upon all the values of truthfulness, sincerity, magnanimity and courage, he will employ duplicity in all of his pauses and deeds, not abstaining from any indecency or perversion. Such a person is away from the domain of humanity and humanness, and on the Day of Judgement he will be raised as a member of the legions of the Satan.

All that was stated above was regarding the degrees of intensity and weakness of nifaq per se, but it also varies according to that to which it is related. Sometimes one practises nifaq in relation to the religion of God, sometimes with respect to virtues, sometimes in regard to righteous deeds and holy rites, and sometimes in ordinary matters of day-to-day life and common civilities. Also, sometimes one may act with nifaq with respect to the Prophet (S) or the Imams (A), and sometimes with regard to the awliya', the scholars and the believers. Sometimes one may behave with nifaq with Muslims and sometimes with God's creatures belonging to other communities and creeds.

Of course, these types of nifaq vary in the degree of their ugliness and indecency, though all of them are similar in that they share the quality of ugliness and indecency and are the buds and leaves of the same vicious tree.

Effects of Nifaq:

Nifaq and double-facedness, besides being an abominable, ignoble and vicious quality itself, which no decent person would like to adopt and whose possessor is not only excluded from the human category, but cannot be likened to any of the beasts as well, it is a cause of humiliation and ignominy in this world in front of one's fellows and friends, and brings about disgrace and punishment in the Hereafter also. As mentioned in the tradition, in the Hereafter such a person will be resurrected with two tongues of fire in his mouth. This will be a source of disgrace for him in front of the creatures of God and will bring about his infamy in the presence of His prophets, apostles and archangels. The severity of the punishment is also indicated(signalled) by this tradition. Because, if the substance of the body becomes that of fire, imagine how severely it will be felt and what a great pain and suffering it will inflict. I seek refuge in God from its severity.

It is reported in another tradition that the Prophet (S) said that the double-faced person will come on the Day of Resurrection in such a condition that one of his two tongues will protrude from the back of his head and the other from the front, and both the tongues will be aflame, making his entire body ablaze with fire.' [2] Thereupon, it will be announced that he was double-faced and double-tongued in the world.

He will be known on that day by this vice of his, the following Quranic verse having become applicable to him:

... and sever that which Allah hath commanded should be joined, and make mischief in the earth; theirs is the curse and theirs the ill abode. (13:25)

Nifaq is source of many an evil and destructive trait, each one of which may bring about one's doom and eternal damnation. One of them is causing discord and sedition (fitnah), which, according to an express text of the Quran, is worse than homicide. Another is slandering (namimah), which is denounced by al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) in the following tradition:

(Entry to) Paradise is prohibited to slanderers who walk on the path of calumny (i.e. are habitual slanderers). [3]

The sins of slandering others and backbiting are worse than the sin of adultery, according to a statement of the Prophet (S), and are equivalent to subjecting a believer to torture, reviling him, and divulging his secrets; each one of which alone is nough to bring about one's destruction.

Let it be known to you that other bad habits which belong to the category of nifaq are: making gestures, allusions, winking, making signals(beckoned) with the eyes and so on-things that some persons do in order to mock some others, whereas they pose to be friendly and sincere in front of them. One should be very cautious of his own state and be careful of his deeds and behaviour, because the snares of the self and the designs of the Satan are very subtle, and there are very few people who are able to save themselves from them. It is possible that on account of an inappropriate act of beckoning or an improper winking one may be branded as double-faced and double-tongued. Perchance one may possess this bad habit as long as he is alive and imagine himself to be morally healthy, sound and pure. Therefore, it is essential for an individual to take care, like a devoted and sympathetic physician, of his spiritual and moral health and constantly keep an eye on his own deeds and habits, like a careful and vigilant nurse, and never fall short of his duty. He should know that none of the diseases of the heart is more concealed and elusive, and at the same time so fatal, than this disease, and no nurse should be more sympathetic and kind than an individual to himself.

Cure of the Disease of Nifaq:

There are two ways of getting rid of this greatly evil vice:

The first is to think about the harms that proceed from this vice, in this world as well as in the Hereafter. One should deliberate upon the matter that if he becomes known in this world for having this bad habit, he will be degraded in the eyes of his fellows and become infamous among his fellow human beings. They will avoid his company and he will be deprived of their friendliness. Moreover, he will fail to achieve any merit and to reach his higher goals. Thus it is necessary for a man of honour and dignity endowed with the conscience to purge himself of this ignominy that consumes honour, and not to allow himself to be entrapped in its disgraces. Besides, in the other world, which is the realm of the unveiling of secrets, where things that remained concealed from the eyes of people shall not be hidden, there, he will be raised a deformed, ugly creature possessing two tongues of fire and punished along with the hypocrites and devils. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a man of wisdom, who sees no good in it but harm, ugliness and abomination, to get rid of this vice.

The other treatment, which involves action, is another method(Procedure)  of curing the self. It requires the individual to be extremely vigilant regarding his acts and pauses, and that he should act deliberately against his base wishes, wage a war against himself and try to improve his self inwardly as well as outwardly, in deed as well as in speech. He should abstain from affectation, coquetry and dissemblance in practice, and beseech the Almighty's help and assistance during this period to give him supremacy over his carnal self and its desires and to guide and accompany him in this undertaking. His mercy and grace towards His creatures are boundless, and whosoever advances towards Him wishing to reform himself, He extends His support and help to him.

If one perseveres in this for several days, it is hoped that the soul would become purified and the rust of hypocrisy and double-facedness will be removed from it. The mirror of his heart and his inner being will be cleansed of this vice, and it will be ready again to receive the favours and blessings of the Bestower. Because it has been established(set up) through rational proofs, and also confirmed by experience, that as long as man lives in this world, he is conditioned by the deeds and actions committed by him, and every one of his deeds, the pious as well as the vicious ones, leave their impressions and effects on the soul. If the deeds are pious and good, they leave a luminous and sublime effect; if not, a dark and negative impression(imprint)  is left on the soul. Thus, as a result, the heart is either rendered bright and luminous or dark and gloomy, according to the deeds. He is either grouped with the good and virtuous, or with the vicious and corrupt. Therefore, as long as we tarry in this house of action and this place of cultivation, we can freely steer our hearts in the direction of felicity or in the direction of wretchedness. We are hostages of our actions, about which the Quran says:

And whoso doth good an atom's weight will see it, and whoso doth ill an atom's weight will see it. (99:7-8)

Some Forms of Nifaq:

Let it be known to you, dear friend, that one of the forms of nifaq, double-facedness and double-tonguedness is nifaq with the Almighty, the King of kings, and the Bestower and the Nourisher, with which we are inflicted in this world but are not aware of it. Thick curtains of ignorance and folly and dark veils of the love of the self and the world have obstructed our vision in such a way that it is not possible for us to know our defects before the time of the divulging of secrets and the raising of these curtains and veils and before departing from this world of nature and saying farewell to this house of illusion and this zone of neglect and stupor. Although now we have receded into a state of physical stupor and obliviousness, and are intoxicated by the attractions of physical life and sensual existence, which beautify all moral and behavioural villainies in our eyes, the moment shall come when we shall wake up and come to our senses, and realize that there is nothing left for us to be done, that we have lost the opportunity-and have been branded as munafiqun, double-faced, and double-tongued, and resurrected with two flaring tongues or with two hideous faces. Then, even if we weep and wail, and yell out, "Lord, send me back into the world", the answer will come, "Never". Such will be the fate(destiny) of our double-faced ness; while, in this life, you and I have been claiming faith in the Unity of God throughout, and professing to be Muslims and true believers untiringly, and even making ardent claims of His love.

If we are laymen, we boast of our faith in Islam, our sincerity of faith and our piety. If we belong to the class of `ulama' and jurisprudents, we pretend the highest degree of sincerity (ikhlas) and put forth claims to the wilayah and the khilafah of the Prophet (S). We imagine that the words uttered by the Prophet (S): (O God! Have mercy upon my successors), and by the present Imam (A) -may my soul be sacrificed for him: (Verily they are my proofs ....) and all other statements of the Imams (A) about `ulama' and fuqaha', to have been spoken about ourselves.

And if we belong to the class of scholars of philosophy and the rational sciences, claiming to possess true faith based on deductive proofs, we deem ourselves to be men of certain knowledge (`ilm al-yaqin), and those who possess `ayn al-yaqin and haqq al-yaqin, considering all others as possessing imperfect knowledge and infirm faith, and applying all the pertinent Quranic verses and traditions to ourselves.

And if we count ourselves among the mystics and men of `irfan, claiming mystic knowledge, ecstasies of love, states of annihilation in God and subsistence through Him (fana' fi Allah, baqa' bi Allah) and His vicegerency (wilayat al- amr), we apply such appellations, and whatsoever that appears to be attractive(chic), to ourselves.

Thus, each one of our various groups claims some kind of high station by employing a vocabulary that it considers suitable for itself and for the display of its particular relation to the Truth. If this outward display complies with his inner reality and this appearance corresponds to his secret inward, he is of course truthful in claims and his blessed condition indeed deserves congratulations: (May the blessing do much good to him and to its other possessors). But if he is, like this writer, a deformed wretch, he should know that he belongs to the class of munafiqun and the double tongued. He should set out to treat himself and make use of the opportunity before it slips away, and do something about his unfortunate condition and the day of darkness and humiliation that awaits him.

My dear, you who claim adherence to Islam, there is a tradition in al-Kafi reported from the Apostle of God (S):

A Muslim is one whose hand and tongue spare all Muslims. [4]

What is the matter with us that we give ourselves the right to harass and hurt, by all possible means, our subordinates, and never hesitate to cause them inconvenience or to create problems for them? Or, if we cannot do any harm by our hands, why do we hurt them with the dagger of our tongue, by using derogatory language in their presence, or, in their absence, by opening their secrets, by slandering them and making false accusations against them? Therefore, we, whose hands and tongues do not spare Muslims, our claim of adherence to Islam contradicts our reality, and the state of our hearts is opposite to what our knowledge of Islam tells us. Hence we belong to the category of munafiqun and the double-faced.

O you who profess to adhere to the true faith and to submit your heart to the sovereignty of the Almighty! If you have full faith in the Oneness of God, and your heart is devoted to the worship of the One and yearns for the One, and that if you do not believe in the existence of any deity except God, if your heart mirrors your outward and your inner is true to your claims, what is wrong with you that you are so subdued and humble in front of the people? Why do you worship and idolize them? Is it for some other reason than this that you believe them to be powerful and influential, and you imagine their power and wealth to be of some consequence? Perhaps the only thing that you do not believe to be effective and active in this world is the Will and Determination of God Almighty. Aren't you humble and subdued in front of all the external phenomena, yet neglectful towards the really Powerful, the First Cause? Yet in spite of this state of mind, you assert your faith in the Unity of God! You should know that you are a foreigner to the community of believers, and belong to the group of munafiqun and the double-tongued and will be resurrected with them.

You who profess to be a genuine monotheist and of sincere piety, if you are really sincere and abstain from worldly pleasures only for the sake of God and His abode of bliss, what is wrong with you that you are so eager to hear people say in your praise that so and so is such a pious man, and are jubilant when someone says such a thing? Why are you willing to die for the company of the rich and affluent and flee from that of the poor and needy? You must know that neither your monotheism nor your piety are genuine. Your piety and abstinence are for the sake of the world, and your heart is not sincerely devoted to God. Your claims are false and you belong to the category of the double-faced and munafiqun.

And you who claim to be an appointee to the office of wilayah (leadership) by the Wali Allah (i.e. the Twelfth Imam) and to that of khilafah by the Apostle (S) of God, if your condition is in accordance with the specifications mentioned in the tradition of al-'Ihtijaj:

He who keeps his soul chaste, safeguards his faith, opposes his desires, and obeys the commands of his Master .... [5]

if you are yourself a branch of the tree of wilayah and risalah (prophethood), and if you are neither inclined towards the world, nor yearn for the nearness of kings, rulers and nobles, nor you are averse to the company of the poor, then indeed you deserve your name and title and you are certainly(undeniably) one of the proofs (hujjah) of God among the humankind; otherwise you are one of the wicked `ulama' and the munafiqun, and your plight is worse than that of the aforementioned clump of people, and your deeds more abominable and your life far more wretched and miserable; since there is no ground for any plea or pretext for the `ulama'.

And you who claim to possess the Divine hikmah and the knowledge of the realities of the origin and the end (al-mabda' wa al-ma'ad), if you do possess the knowledge of the realities of causes and effects, and if in reality you know the forms assigned to men in Barzakh and the matters of heaven and hell, you should not have found peace for a while and should have spent each and every moment of your life in the construction of the life in eternity. You should have sought refuge from this world and its temptations. You know as to what sort of torments lie ahead and what darkness and severities await you. Yet why didn't you step out from behind the curtain of terms and concepts? Why haven't the rational demonstrations and proofs exerted any influence on your heart, even to the extent of the wing of a fly? Hence, in such a state, know that you stand outside the class of true believers and hukama', and on the Day of Judgement you will be resurrected in the ranks of munafiqun. Woe unto the man who spent his whole(intact) life arid energies in acquiring the knowledge of the metaphysical, yet could not overcome his intoxication and infatuation with the physical, so that not even one of the truths ever entered his heart!

And you who claim the gnosis of God, and speak of spiritual fervour, of wayfaring, of His love and your wish to annihilate yourself in the Divine Essence, if you are sincere in your devotion to God and belong to the category of ashab al-qulub, men of enlightenment with a record of virtuous past, then may it do you much good. Otherwise, inflated, theopathetic utterances (shathiyyat), pretentious ecstasies, and extravagant claims reveal only your self love and your -satanic tendencies, which are opposed to the love of God and godly fervour, for God says:

Verily, My awliya', under My vault (i.e. the sky), are known to none except Me. [6]

If you do belong to the category of the awliya' of God, His lovers and those absorbed totally in His love, it is indeed known to God. There is no need for you to boast(show off) about your high station in front of people. Do not distract the unsteady hearts of the creatures of God from their Creator, by inclining them towards a creature of His. Do not trespass upon the house that belongs to God. Know that those creatures are dear to God, and their hearts are valuable and precious they are to be employed in the service of God. Do not make a sport of the house of the Lord, and do not put your hands on His sanctities, for it has been said, (`Indeed the house has a Master'). Hence, if you are not true in your claims, you will be grouped with the double-faced and the men of nifaq. But let me stop here, since it isn't proper for a wretch like me to speak any further.

O you vile self of the writer, who make much pretence: do something about the dark days of your life and find a way out of your wretchedness. If you are really sincere and your heart agrees with your tongue and your inner intention is compatible with your outward appearance, why are you so heedless, your heart so blackened, and your lusts so indomitable? Why don't you think about the journey of death, which is so full of perils? Your days are past, yet you have not given up your lusts and desires. You have spent your days in satisfying lusts and in neglect and mischief. The time of your death draws near, yet you are enmeshed in your vicious deeds and entrapped in your indecent conduct. O preacher, who would not learn any lesson, you stand in the midst of munafiqun and the double-faced. Being one of them, it is feared that you will be resurrected with two tongues of fire and two faces of fire, if you continue in your present state.

O God, awaken us from this protracted spell of deep slumber, and bring us back to our senses from this state of intoxication and unconsciousness. Illumine our hearts with the light of faith and have mercy on us. We are not champions of this field. You Yourself succour us and deliver us from the talons of the Devil, for the sake of Your chosen servants, Muhammad and his undefiled progeny, upon all of whom be God's benedictions.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi (Akhundi), vol. 2, p. 343.

[2]. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, 'Iqab al-'a'mal (Maktabat al-Saduq), p. 319.

[3]. Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 369.

[4]. Ibid., vol. 2; Fayd al-Kashani, al-Mahajjat al-bayda', vol. 3, p. 358.

[5]. Al-Tabarsi, al-'Ihtijaj, vol. 2, p. 106; al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 18, p. 99; al-Kulayni, op. cit., vol. 1, p.412; al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Tahdhib, vol. 6, p. 301; al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Man la yahduruhu al-faqih, vol. 3; al-Nuri, Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, vol. 3, p. 187 ; Shaykh Muhammad Hasan, al-Jawahir, vol. 40, p. 32.

[6]. Ahadith qudsi. Source untraced.

 Literally hawiya means 'to love', 'to desire' and 'to become fond of something'. It may either be something commendable or abominable, or it may be something towards which one is inclined as a result of natural urge(push for). The carnal self is inclined towards lust and desire, if it is not bridled by reason and the Shari'ah. But the possibility of hawd being used here as a legal term (haqiqah Shar`iyyah) with a special meaning, as maintained by some scholars, seems remote.

The phrase ... gives the sense of repelling something, turning away, preventing or dissuading from something. But here the verb sadda is used in the transitive sense of stopping and preventing. God willing, we shall discuss the two evils and their consequent conditions: first, that of being prevented(barred from the truth and from God; and, secondly, that of obliviousness of the Hereafter. We implore God's assistance in this regard.

1. On the Evil of Following One's Desires:

(a) Though it is not directly relevant to our topic, it is essential to know that the human soul is by nature and instinct inclined to believe not only in the principle of tawhid (monotheism), but to follow(pursue) all truthful doctrines also. Yet, since the moment of birth and stepping into this universe, man starts growing and developing along with his natural urges and animal desires, except for those who are protected and assisted by God, the Holy Preserver. The latter being exceptions and among the marvels of existence, are not our concern here. We are here concerned with the condition of the species in general. It is evident that at the time of his birth, after passing through certain stages, man is no better than a weak animal and has no distinction over other animals, except for his potentiality of becoming a human being. That is, his humanness is potential, not present. Therefore, man is an animal in actuality in the initial stages of his life in this world. No power but the law of animal nature, which governs through the faculties of Desire (shahwah) and Anger (ghadab), rules over him. And since this marvel of nature is capable(competent) of acquiring all kinds of attributes, in order to cater to the needs of these two faculties he employs another fiendish power, the faculty of imagination (quwwah wahmiyyah) also in this direction through such means as: lying, deceit, hypocrisy, slander and all the other kind of tools. He grows and develops with these three powers, which are the roots of all other vices and fatal sins, and they too develop and flourish within him with age. If he is not influenced by an instructor or guide, after having grown and reached the age of maturity he becomes a beast of uncommon(unaccustomed) rarity which surpasses all other beasts and devils in the above-mentioned qualities, becoming only stronger and more completely devilish and bestial. If he retains the same pattern of growth, he will not do anything except follow the desires of the carnal self and servilely obey these three powers. No sign of Divine knowledge or awareness, moral excellence or righteous deed can be found in him, and the innate light of nature gets stifled within his personality.

Thus all the dimensions of spiritual health-which do not go beyond the three above-mentioned things, i.e., Divine knowledge, moral virtues and righteous deeds-are suppressed by the desires of the carnal self. His servility to sensual inclinations and bestial comforts does not allow any of the manifestations of righteousness to appear in his being. The darkness of sensual desire extinguishes the light of reason and faith. He does not experience the second birth which in reality is the birth of the human being. He continues to exist in the same state and is cut off and removed from God and truth. When he departs from this world in this state and enters the next world, which is the realm of unveiling of reality, he does not find himself in any other form except that of a beast or a devil. With no reminiscence and memory whatsoever of a human existence, he dwells in this state in the abode of eternal darkness, torment and dread, until God Almighty wills what He may. Such is the fate of total servility to sensual desires which causes one to be cut off absolutely from God and righteousness.

It can be concluded from this that the amount of alienation from God is the measure and criterion of the extent of servility to the desires of the self. Conversely, the extent of such alienation can be gauged by means of the extent of such servility. For instance, a person who had espoused these three faculties since the initial stages of his life, having developed and grown with them, if he is influenced and trained(reared) by means of the teachings of the prophets and instructions of scholars and sages, gradually submitting himself to the educative influence of the prophets and the awliya' of God-upon whom be peace-it is possible that the innate potentiality for perfect humanness, which is inherent in his nature, may soon become an actuality. When that happens, all the modes of his inner being a human dimension and the inner devil of the carnal self is converted to faith, as the Prophet of God remarked about himself:

The devil inside me has been converted to faith at my hand.

The bestial self then surrenders itself to the human self in such a way that it carries its rider like a docile and subdued celestial mount on the journey(trip) towards the skies of perfection, becoming a buraq carrying its rider swiftly towards the horizons of the Hereafter, never turning wild again. The powers of Desire and Anger having been subdued by the forces of justice and law (shar'), spiritual peace, balance and justice rule over the domain of man's being, establishing there the Kingdom of God and the rule of righteousness and Divine Law. Nothing that is opposed to justice and truth can occur in it, and the whole kingdom is absolutely freed from all sorts of untruth and injustice.

Therefore, in the same way as the criterion of deprival from truth and righteousness is the pursuit of desire, the criterion of attainment of truth and achievement of righteousness is submission to reason and Divine Law. In between these two extremities, that is, total servility to desire and total subservience to reason, are an infinite number of stages so that every step towards desire is a step away from righteousness. With every such step the reality is further hidden behind misty veils and the lights of human excellence and the secrets of human existence grow dimmer. And, contrarily, every step that is taken away from desire is instrumental to the same extent in removing the veils and in brightening the gleams of Divine light in the domain of the inner being.

(b) The Qur'an and Hadith on the Evil of Submission to Desire:

Denouncing submission to desires, God Almighty says in the Quran:

... And follow not desire lest it lead thee astray from the way of God. (38:26)

... And who is further astray than he who follows his desire without guidance from God? (28:50)

And in a tradition of al-Kafi from al-'Imam al-Baqir (A), the Imam is reported to have said:

The Prophet (S) said, "God Almighty said: `By My Honour, My Glory, My Greatness, My Light, My Loftiness, and by the Highness of My Station! When My slave gives preference to his desire over My wish, I put his affairs into confusion, make his life baffling in this world and his heart preoccupied with the world, although I do not give him anything of it except what I have preordained for him. And by My Honour, My Glory, My Greatness, My Light, My Loftiness and by the Highness of My Station! If My slave prefers My wish to his desire, My angels protect him, the heavens and the earth guarantee(ensure) his sustenance, and I look after his trade and bring the world to him though it should be reluctant and recalcitrant. [2]

This tradition is a very authentic one, whose text and wording bear testimony to its pure origin, that its source is no other than God Almighty, the Fountainhead of all knowledge, though its chain of transmission may be a weak one, and to discuss this matter further is not possible here. There is another tradition reported from Amir al Mu'minin (A), which is different from the one we have expounded:


I am apprehensive for you concerning two things: Submission to desire and entertaining of endless hope. [3]

In al-Kafi al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said:

Be apprehensive of your desires in the same way as you are apprehensive of your enemies. For there is no greater enemy for human beings than their own desires and what their tongues reap. [4]

My dear, remember that desires are endless and ever insatiable. If man takes one step in following them, he will be bound to take a few more. If he submits to one of the desires, he will soon be forced to yield to a number of them. If you open one door to the desires of the self, you will soon be forced to open several other doors to them. Thus a single act of submission will expose you to a number of vices following it and through them you will fall victim to a thousand abominations, until, God forbid, all the roads to God are closed to you, as stated by God Almighty in the Holy Book. That is why the Commander of the Believers (A), the Wali al-'Amr and the spiritual master and instructor of mankind, who was assigned the task of guiding(maneuvering) the human family, has expressed so much concern and apprehension on account of it. Rather, the Holy Prophet (S) and all the Imams (A) are anxious lest the tree of nubuwwah (prophethood) and wilayah - of which the believers are the leaves- should shed its foliage and become as if autumn stricken. Look what the Prophet (S) has said:


Marry and procreate, for indeed I shall be proud of you over other nations, even though it should be on account of an aborted foetus. [6]

Obviously, if man happens to stand on such a dangerous path as this, where it is feared that he may fall over(toppled) the precipice of annihilation, being disowned by his real father-the Holy Prophet (S), who is a mercy for all the worlds-having caused his indignance, what a great misfortune it would be and what disasters and woes it would involve? Thus if you know the Holy Prophet (S) and love the Master of the Faithful (A) and befriend their pure progeny, relieve their blessed hearts from their fear, anguish and uncertainty on your account. In a verse of the Surat Hud of the Quran the Prophet (S) is addressed thus

So be steady as thou hast been commanded, thou and those who have turned (unto Allah) with thee .... (11:112)

And the Prophet (S) is reported to have said:

The Surat Hud caused my hair to turn grey on account of this verse of it. [6]

Shaykh Shahabadi, the accomplished `Arif-may my soul be ransomed for him-has said:

Although the same verse occurs in the Surat al-Shura-though without the phrase(`and those who have turned with thee')-the reason that the Prophet (S) has made special mention of the Surat Hud is that in it God Almighty has demanded from the Prophet (S) the steadiness of his ummah also. The Prophet (S) feared that this task might not be carried out, otherwise he himself had the steadiness, or, rather, he was in fact the very incarnation of justice and righteousness.

So, my brother, if you consider yourself one of the followers of that holy personage and a participant of his mission, come and don't be an embarrassment to him in its fulfilment on account of your ugly, vicious deeds. Think yourself that if one of your children or your kinsmen does something odious or improper by your norms, how ashamed you feel in front of others on their account! And you know that the Prophet of God (S) and Amir al-Mu'minin (A) are the true fathers of the ummah, for in the Prophet's own words:

I and 'Ali are the two fathers of this ummah. [7]

If we are taken into the presence of the Almighty and are called to account in front of them, and should the record of our deeds reflect nothing except evil and odiousness, it would be very hard upon them, for they would feel ashamed in front of the angels and prophets of God. What a great injustice it would be! What a catastrophe we shall have invited for ourselves and what treatment will be meted out to us by God Almighty?

So, O unjust and ignorant man who have not only done injustice to yourself but are guilty of injustice to your benefactors, who laid down their lives and sacrificed their worldly possessions and comforts of life for the sake of your guidance, who were assassinated after undergoing the hardest sufferings and the harshest tortures and whose women and children were taken captive for the sake of your guidance and your deliverance, should you, instead of being grateful to them for their merciful efforts, be guilty of such a flagrant injustice and imagine that you have been unjust to yourself alone? Wake up for a while from this deep slumber and be a little ashamed of yourself. Don't allow yourself to commit the same inequities that were committed by the enemies of the Din. You, who claim to be a friend, do not be unjust, for the acts of injustice committed by a friend and the one who claims to be a friend are more grievous and odio.


  Numerousness of Desires

It should be remembered that the desires of the carnal self are numerous and of diverse kinds, varying according to their intensity as well as the desired object. Sometimes they are so subtle that one is not aware of them as suspect wiles of Satan and of the self, unless he is made conscious and waken up. With all their variety(assortment), all of them work together in obstructing people from the Divine path and deviating them from it. Their grades are various. There are the victims of desire who take gold and wealth and the like to be their god; there are others about whom Almighty God informs us in these words:

Hast thou seen him who has taken his desire (hawa) to be his god? (25:43)

Again, there are those who, according to the holy tradition under discussion, are alienated from God by following the desires of the self and the fabrications of the Devil, in the form of false creeds, corrupt norms or something else. There are the perpetrators of mortal and major or minor and venial sins who are kept from the path of God in a measure proportional to the degree of their transgressions. Then there are the followers of legitimate pleasures and desires who, on account of their overindulgence in them, are kept back from treading the Divine path in a different way. There are the devout given to prayers and formal rites, which are aimed to secure a good life in the Hereafter or to satisfy some worldly purpose or are meant to secure higher spiritual stations or to avoid spiritual decline, who are prevented from the path of God in a different way. There are the practitioners of ethics devoted to purification of the soul and spiritual disciplining for the sake of attaining self control or reaching the paradise of moral excellence, who are kept from God and righteousness in their own manner. There are the practitioners of `irfan, the wayfarers of the Path, the seekers of ecstasies and of mystic stations and states, who have no other purpose except His vision and His vicinity, yet whose vision is obstructed in a different way and are kept from receiving the special illuminations.

Besides, there are other stages whose description is not possible here. Thus it is necessary for every individual, in accordance with the category to which he belongs, to examine his own condition and purge himself of the desires of the self in order not to be kept from the path of righteousness and of truth, so that the doors of compassion and benevolence are opened to him, whatever his station and stage, and indeed God is the Lord of guidance:

       Evil of Endless Hopes:

This discussion also consists of two sections:

(a) On the Endlessness of Hopes:

Remember that the first and foremost step towards authentic humanness is that of awareness and awakening (yaqzah), as mentioned by the leading mystics (mashayiq) concerning the stages of wayfaring. There are ten stages in this step, as enumerated by the great shaykh Shahabadi, which we are not in a position to elaborate here. However, it is essential to mention here that unless man does not wake up to the fact that he is a traveller with an unescapable journey lying ahead and a destination towards which he must move, he will not muster the resolution necessary to reach his goal. Each of these matters needs an elaboration from which we must abstain for brevity's sake. However, it is enough to say that one of the biggest obstacles in the way of the awakening that leads one to forget his destination and neglect his journey and deadens his will and resolution is the feeling that there is plenty of time for the journey, that if one does not set out today he may do it tomorrow, if not this month then the next and so on. Such a state of extended and outstretched hope, together with a false assurance of unlimited life and unbounded availability of time, make man oblivious of his ultimate goal, the Hereafter, and prevent him from preparing for the unavoidable journey and securing provisions for it, ultimately leading him to completely forget the Hereafter and his goal. May God save us from the state in which one who has a long and perilous journey before him and is given a limited time in which to procure the provisions and dire necessities of the way, does not possess anything having forgotten both about the journey and his destination. It is obvious that if such a state of neglect befalls one, he will fail to procure the necessary provisions for his way, being helpless and at a loss at the time of departure. Such a man will decay on his way and his journey will not take him to his desired destination.

(b) Provisions for the Long Journey Ahead:

And so, my dear, remember that you have a perilous journey ahead, for which the provisions of sound knowledge and fruitful(prolific) action are needed. The time of departure is unknown. Possibly, there is little time and opportunity left. No one knows when the call for departure will come and one would be forced to depart. This prolonging of hope by you and me arises from self love and is the most masterly of the guiles of the accursed Satan. Through it he distracts our attention from the Hereafter and keeps us from attending to its affairs. And with the perils of the journey and the obstacles in the way of preparing for it, if we fail to repent or to return to God and if we fail to procure provisions for the journey, the appointed call shall come unexpectedly and send us unprepared and unprovided on the way, without any store of righteous deeds and useful knowledge which together make up the provisions of the Hereafterly journey.

For even if we have performed good deeds, they are not pure and untainted. A thousand contaminations, each of which is enough to make them unacceptable to God, afflict them. If we acquired any knowledge, it was futile and fruitless for us, our learning being either nonsensical and absurd or itself a big impediment in the path of the Hereafter. Had the deeds that we have done and the knowledge that we have learnt been beneficial, they should have left some mark on us who have been in their pursuit for years and should have transformed our habits and morals. What went muddled(wrong) that our forty or fifty years' labour has produced an opposite result and has hardened our hearts, harder even than flint? What did we achieve from salat, which is the mi'raj of a mu'min? Where is that fear of God which is the outcome of true knowledge? God forbid, if we are called to depart from this world in this present state of ours, there are many a lasting disappointment and remorse in store for us!

Therefore, if obliviousness of the Hereafter caused by endless hope is something on account of which the greatest Wali of God, Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (A) is concerned for us, he is justified; for he knows as to how perilous a journey awaits us and that with such a journey in view no one should ever be complacent even for a while. At all times, one should be busy, without a moment of rest, in gathering the provisions for the Hereafterly journey. If one becomes oblivious of that world or considers it a mere dream, as if that world did not exist and there was no journey to be undertaken, one cannot imagine the calamities(tragedies) that one will have to face and the misfortunes that are in store for him.

It would do us much good if we think for a while about the general state of mind of the Prophet (S) and of Amir al-Mu'minin (A) who were the best of God's creatures and free from error, lapse or forgetfulness-in order to understand our own state in relation to theirs. Their cognition of the hardships and perils of the journey had made them renounce ease and rest, while our ignorance has bred forgetfulness in us. The Seal of the Prophets (S) subjected himself to such austerities and strenuously stood in prayer before his Lord for such lengthy hours that his blessed feet became swollen and the following verse was sent down to him by the Most Exalted:

Ta Ha. We have not sent down the Quran upon thee to cause thee distress. (20:1, 2)

The state of Amir al-Mu'minin during prayers and his fear of God Almighty are also well known.

Hence, we should know that the journey is full of perils and this spell of obliviousness and forgetfulness of ours is nothing except a ruse of the Devil and a guile of our own self. These endless hopes and unlimited expectations are the biggest snares of Iblis and the most artful of his ruses. So wake up from this sleep and remember that you are a traveller with goal and purpose. Your destination is the next world and you will be forced to leave this world ultimately. If you are prepared to set out on this journey and have procured the provisions needed, you will not be rendered helpless or stranded on this journey. Otherwise you will find yourself in a distress which knows no relief, a wretchedness that is not followed by felicity, a humiliation that will last and never be followed by honour, a poverty that does not terminate in abundance, a torment that is not followed by comfort, a fire that never cools down, and a regret and shame which knows no end.

My dear, look what the Commander of the Faithful (A) says, in Du`a Kumayl, in his supplications to the Almighty:

(My Lord)... You know my frailness before a little of the afflictions and torments of this world and before the kind of calamities that affect its inhabitants, though such afflictions and adversities are transitory and short-lived. And how shall I endure the afflictions of the Hereafter and the severity of its calamities, which are enduring, perpetual and unabating on its inhabitants, since they are nothing other than Your wrath, Your retribution and Your displeasure, which neither the heavens nor the earth can bear.

A torment which the heavens and earth cannot stand has been reserved for you, and it is not enough to awaken you from your deepening slumber and your obliviousness increases day by day!

O slumberous heart! Awake and arise! Get ready for the journey to the Hereafter! The call of the caravan's departure has been sounded and all around there is the clamour of those who depart and take leave. The agents of `Izra'il (the angel of death) are at work and they are driving you every moment nearer and nearer to the gates of the Hereafter and yet you are neglectful, unmindful and ignorant!

O God, I implore Thee to save me from the house of illusion and the abode of delirium and help me return to the abode of joy. Grant me the ability and preparedness to die before such an opportunity is lost.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 336.

[2]. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 335.

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. Ibid.

[5]. Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasai'il al-Shi'ah, Bab 1, hadith 2.

[6]. Al-Tabarsi, Majma` al-bayan, vol. 3.

[7]. Al-Amini, al-Ghadir, vol. 3, p. 100.


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