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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books The Educational System in Islam Mental Virtues

Mental Virtues


MENTAL VIRTUES

Owing to the great concern of Islam in the mental virtues, it has dedicated a specific course leading to personal adhesion and abnormality besides the marks of every honorable tendency and virtuous quality. Herewith, we will refer precisely to some of such virtues.

CHASTITY

Ethicists define chastity, as the self-control and equanimity of the inclinations to desires including the bodily, like eating and the like, and the mental, like agitations and emotions. The quality of chastity is applied to those who are moderate in all of these states. This virtue aims at achieving people’s self-restraint away from being the slaves of lusts and inclinations. The reports of the Imams regarding this virtue have been uninterrupted. Imam Ali said, “Chastity is the best of worship.” Imam al-Baqir said, “No worship is preferred to the chastity of the abdomen and the genitals.”
This virtue saves man from a great deal of mental and physical diseases and ill manners, such as gluttony, fornication, greed, squandering, rage, hatred, blabber, and many others.
Chastity pushes man to a general rectitude. It dismisses the quality of overeating that brings about many diseases and causes repetitive visits to clinics. The holy Quran encouraged on adhering to the virtue. God says:
Eat, drink and be not extravagant.
Besides, the extravagant abstinence and avoidance of the good matter that God has deemed lawful are excluded from chastity, which is merely the moderation. God says:
Say: Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions? Say: These are for the believers in the life on this world, purely theirs on the resurrection day.
Chastity requires self-restraint and guardianship against full release of the whole mental lusts, the intemperance of which corrupts the life, enfeebles the spirituality, and leads to failing. Ethicists said, “Lusts are infinite. If time is extended, lusts will surely lead to others and so on. Finally, man will be the captive of endless lusts and the slave of untold caprices. Virtue is not the associate of such men.”. Chastity requires man’s full dominion of trends and lusts, and moderation in passions, and temperance in eating and drinking. For instance, man is advised of avoiding excessive grief in cases of calamities.

Means of developing chastity:
Ethicists mention several means leading to chastity. They are:
- Moderation in inclination to lusts
- Avoidance of associating with the evil who exaggerate and decorate the vices
- Acceding to the virtuous and the religious individuals who advance to moralities and warn against evil-doing
- Avoidance of reading erotic books that deconstruct the structures of virtue and perfection, and leaving the places of immoral entertainment
- Using self-control in states of wrath, which is a short-termed insanity.
- Retreating the unwelcomed customs such as arrogance and self-esteem since they lead to excite for any valueless matter because of the illusion of indignity
- Avoidance of thinking in vile and violation because such a thinking is the pioneer of will and work. The prolixity of licentious imaginary and vile misgiving lures on falling in the depths of vices.
- Avoidance of carrying irate and pessimistic thoughts, and agreement with those who disregard this life and disassociate with people
- The exploitation of the legal and acceptable provisions of the mundane affairs. God says:
And seek by means of what Allah has given to you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world.

WILLPOWER

Willpower and self-determination are primary intendments of Islamic mental education. First, Islam has been concerned with establishing a firm will, a constant determination, and a fixed spirit in the minds in order to save from drifting with the trends of occurrences, and challenge the seditious events. Islam has scorned extremely the languid and described them as dead. God says:
You do not make the dead hear, and do not make the deaf hear the call.
Islam bestows man with huge powers of determination and will to protect against the elements of weakness and fear. The Prophet (s) was the true exemplar of willpower and immense determination. He stood in firmness during struggling and resisting for the sake of his principals and goals. He behaved according to the Lord’s instructions, ignoring the problems and catastrophes. One hand was holding fast on the pennon of monotheism, while the other held the axe of destroying and ruining the ideas, customs, and traditions of Jahilism. Meanwhile, he was calling out to man’s dignity and rights. At the same time, all of the powers of polytheism and atheism were standing against him in one hand. He had no single supporter except Abu Talib his uncle --the believer of Quraish and the protector of Islam. The Quraishi chiefs threatened and menaced Abu Talib if the Prophet would not stop his advocacy. The Prophet answered his uncle who carried the chiefs’ words to him, “O uncle! If they position the sun in my right hand and the moon in the left for leading me to leave this advocacy, I will not respond till I perish or God will triumph.”
By such a giant willpower and great determination, the Prophet (s) overcame all of the problems. He demolished the pagans, ended the potentials of polytheism, and blasted the cells of Jahilism, and raised God’s word aloft on the earth and established a new life of firm right and strict justice.
The Prophet fed his companions with this remarkable trend to change their few numbers into mountains of dignity and fortification. They resisted the huge parties and defeated the armies of polytheism. They did never abscond in the battlefields until they conquered the countries and raised the Islamic banner on most of the provinces on this earth.
This handsome will was represented by the higher commander of Islam and the door of the Prophet’s city of knowledge- Imam Ali (a), the champion of the great conquests. He decapitated the polytheists, and overcame and subjected the Jews. He said, “I will never abscond even all of the Arabs collaborated against me.”
This giant willpower is a part of God’s will that rejects subduing, humiliation, slavery, and surrender. This will was visibly manifested by Imam al-Hussein (a)- the Prophet’s grandson and the father of the noble ones. He stood on the land of Kerbala despite the scantiness of supporters, and faced the armies of polytheism and deviation to dictate his will on them. He said, “I will not give you with my hand like the humble, nor will I submit to you like the slaves. I certainly consider death as happiness, and consider living with the wrongdoers as discontent.”
He then walked to the field of death, along with the virtuous men of his household, to deliver the best lessons of willpower, hard belief, and sacrifice for God’s sake to the world entirely.
Man’s value lies in his willpower, without which humanity is lost. A French philosopher says, “Nothing is more sticking to man’s personality than will.”
Willpower influences completely man’s composition and immortality. The weak-willed can never achieve any individual or social aim. Emerson says, “Willpower is the secret of success which is the goal of existence. The willpower of the famous personalities, such as Napoleon, Crenate and Alexander, was the reason beyond their immortality. Other personalities were known of their situations of humiliation because of their hesitation and ill self-determination. It is impossible to participate in the life conflict and expect triumph without the possession of willpower.”. It is an aspect of independent personality that contributes in making the human history and ignores impossibility. Napoleon answered, when he was told of the existence of the Alps in his way, “There will not be Alps there.” The worst words Napoleon hated to hear were ‘Impossible’ and ‘I cannot.’
It is worthy mentioning in this regard that Islam has specified willpower and giant self-determination as terms of selecting the rulers. The weak-willed are prevented from managing Muslims’ affairs since they may cause dangers, vanish the prestige of leadership, and cause mutiny and disobedience.

Lack of willpower:
Individuals that lack willpower will surely waste their personalities and their fancies will overcome. They will surely yield to their lusts and fling in lowly fields of vices such as consuming intoxicants, gambling, and committing all of the colors of sins. They will also relinquish to laziness and sloth that result in many problems and calamities.

Maturity of willpower:
Ethicists affirm that the treatment of the lack of willpower is the commitment to hard and arduous works that empower and help in overcoming the difficulties. Within the factors that increase the willpower is the exertion of all efforts. Hence, we should never show any delinquency in any duty that we should act. Islam has also called for this quality. God says:
And if you determine, rely upon God.
As well, considering the deeds of the great men of history is a means of arousing willpower, since those men could not achieve their success and change the history unless they enjoyed a high willpower that incited to do virtues.

Free will:
Islam has granted each individual the free will that enables in controlling all of the desires and achieving all of the expectations. Islam has banned from obstructing the individual wills except those that are used for sinning and perpetrating illegalities or harming others. Such wills should be interdicted and resisted for the sake of preserving the publics. In our ‘Political system in Islam’, I have referred to this point in detail.

COURAGE

Courage is one of the significant constituents of the conspicuous personality because it provokes on self-control and endurance in states of dangers, and saves against collapsing in calamities. Islam has spared no efforts for seeding this quality in the souls and caring for it in the thorough mental and educational aspects. Thus, it has driven Muslims to the battlefields and the terrains of sacrifice and offertory to the right, for guarding their principals and goals. In the first eras of Islam, Muslims showed no dearth in joining the battles with consonant determination and giant will that qualified them, despite of their little number, to defeat the powers of polytheism. The Islamic history has abounded with the unparalleled championship. Imam Ali (a) cited the most engaging example of courage. None of the ancient and modern history considered a man more courageous and consonant than him. He was the star of the celebrated situations and the distinguished standings in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Ahzab, and Khyber. No single hair of him was terrified by such nauseous situations when he strove for God’s sake consistently and recorded that file of heroism in struggling the atheists in their lands and opposed them openly. He said, “The great numbers of the surrounding people will not increase my fortification, and their dissension will not make me desolate. I will not submit even all of the people let me down.”
Imam Ali’s heroic situations comprised the languages of this world. Thence, he was the founder of the most splendid pictures of courage in the whole world. Imam al-Hussein, being a copy of his father, has elevated in this bright field. He has become the leader of the Islamic liberal and combative movements. He received spears and swords while he was standing like an exalted mountain to deliver to the generations the lessons of dignity, haughtiness, and self-denial. He disregarded those heartbreaking catastrophes that resulted in the massacre of his sons, brothers, and darlings, in addition to the horrible adversities of harsh thirst and the screams of his harem and children. All these tear-jerking distresses did not hinder his striving and struggle. He kept on fighting invariably until he met the Exalted Lord with full endurance. The Imam’s great attitude recorded the greatest triumphs of Islam that remained lively and illuminative to open the paths of struggle for freedom and independence to people.

Aspects of courage:
The most important natural aspects of courage are as follows:
- The preservation of the natural state and equanimity, and the avoidance of hesitation during disputations and exchanging opinions and defending the beliefs
- Overcoming the countering difficulties and taking steps in the path of reforming the faults of people’s lives and beliefs
- Declaring the right and the bravery in the face of the evils for the sake of exalting the wording of the right

Ethical courage:
Ethical courage stands for declaring the right bravely. It also stands for the self-denial. Islam has adopted this very meaning in its educational aspects. Muslims are required to express the right under any circumstance. The Prophet said, “Say the truth even if it injures your own personality.” “Care not for any blame in the field of saying the truth.” Within his precepts to Imam al-Hassan his son, Imam Ali says, “Engage in the right wherever it is.” the Prophet (s) warned the nation against concealing the truth before the tyrants and the unjust. He said, “My nation will be vilipended if they fear of declaring the wrong deeds of the unjust.”
Abu Therr al-Ghefari was the most famous in the field of declaring the right and criticizing the evil. Induced by the revelation of the Islamic doctrine, he went on denying the Umayyad policy when they deviated and went astray. He used to threaten Othman and call for revolting against him.
Abu Therr’s call was originated from a heart that cognized Islam thoroughly and understood its goals and factuality. He denied Othman’s policies of acting fraudulently in the nation’s destiny when he usurped its fortune to provide them to the celebrities and the rich individuals while starvation attacked people all over the state. Sayyid Qutb says, “Abu Therr’s call was one of the Islamic thrusts that the corrupt-hearted denied. Presently, the likes of such individuals –such as the packs of the colonialists- are still denying the calls of right. It was a call of arousing the consciences that are uncontrolled by greed in front of the harsh inflation of the riches in a way of classifying Muslims into various categories and demolishing the bases that Islam came for reforming.”.
Abu Therr conducted very bravely when he showed his intense denial and indignation on Othman who exiled him to Rabatha where he was deceased due to starvation. Meanwhile, Othman grasped the riches to spend them generously on the Umayyads and the sons of Muit, and withheld from this notable companion, who was likened, by the Prophet, to Jesus (a) in guidance and straightness.
Shiite leaders also possessed such huge amount of bravery and audacity. They did not submit to the persecution and severity of the unjust ruling authorities. They pushed forwardly for exalting God’s word and renouncing corruption and evil. Abdullah bin Afif al-Azdi, the acquaintance of Imam Ali, revolted against Ubeidullah bin Ziad, the tyrant murderer, when the latter addressed a speech after the killing of Imam al-Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson. Before Ubeidullah had finished his speech, the man answered him with words sharper than new swords. He said, “The liar is most surely you and your father, and that who appointed you and his father. O, you slave of the barbarous! You killed the sons of the prophets, and ascended on the Muslims’ pulpits. Where are the sons of Muhajirs and Ansar to revenge you and your tyrant chief-- the cursed and son of the cursed? –He refers to Yazid and Muawiya whom were cursed by the Prophet (s)-”
Al-Kumeit bin Ziad, the poet, was another example of the revolution against the wrongdoers. He satirized roughly the Umayyad kings and praised the Alawids. He said:
“They –the Alawids- are chiefs unlike those who see no difference between leading people and leading sheep. They are unlike Abdul-Melik, al-Walid, Suleiman and Husham*.”
He also satirized Husham the tyrant as well as the Umayyad kings. He said, “His words are the prophets’, while his deeds are the Jahilites’**.” “Tell the Umayyads wherever they were, though you fear swords: May God starve those whom you feed, and saturate those whom you starved due to your injustice.”
Those kings exceeded in persecuting and oppressing our poet, but he was exceeding in adhering to his belief and principals.
On the theatre of Shism, another poet emerged. He was al-Farazdaq, who criticized and reprimanded the Umayyads and upheld the Prophet’s progeny --the real people of the Islamic right and justice. The most remarkable situation of this poet was praising Imam Zeinul abidin and denigrating Husham bin Abdul-Melik, the Umayyad king, who pretended he had not known the Imam. Al-Farazdaq said, “This is the one whose steps are realized even by the deserts. The holy House, the legality, and the precincts realize him, too. This is the son of the best of God’s servants.
This is the pious, the pure, the sanitary, and the master. Your asking about his personality does by no means prejudice him. The Arabs and the non-Arabs know him.”
The poet went on praising the Imam in such an unprecedented wording. Consequently, he had to encounter the Umayyads’ irritation and punishment. Nevertheless, this persecution did not stop him. He satirized Husham and kept on referring to the Umayyads’ defects. He said, “He is nodding the head which has never been a master’s head. He has a crossed eye of manifest defects.”
Diibil al-Khuzai was surely the poet of the persecuted and the wronged ones. He declared the right and criticized the kings after they had exceeded in wronging and persecuting people. He satirized ar-Rashid, al-Amin, al-Mamun, al-Mutassim, and Ibrahim bin al-Mahdi. The most influential and consonant poetry was that addressed at al-Mutassim. He said, “Then came an unguided leader who lacked intellectuality and mind. The Abbasid kings are seven as it was predicted in the ancient books. No single book has referred to an eighth one. This is similar to the people of the cave, who were seven individuals. They were virtuous. Their eighth was their dog. I exalt their dog to you, because you are sinful while it was not.”
This giant man used the notable religion and the belief that he embraced for antagonizing the unjust rulers, who wrung from this nation’s affairs, persecuted, and debasing people. None could declare the right word and defend the miserable and the deprived except Diibil and his faithful brothers who stood against the ferocious waves to declare God’s word in the most horrible and suffering circumstances.
Women also had notable roles in the field of the moral courage. They contributed in supporting the right and conflicting the social injustice and oppression.
Suwada bint Imara-- the mistress of the Iraqi women- was the best example in this regard. As she was before Muawiya for complaining the injustice of the governor, the man realized her. He said, “It was you who said in the battle of Siffin*, ‘O son of Imara! Fight like your father on the days of fighting and the meeting of opponents. Support Ali, al-Hussein, and their party, and combat Hind** and her son degradingly. The Imam, who is the Prophet’s brother, is surely the sign of guidance and the minaret of believing. Lead the armies and walk under his pennon with your sharp sword and spear.’ You said these words, did not you?”
She embarked upon Muawiya with highly firmness and said, “Yes, by God. It was I. I do never disdain the right and provide false excuses.” This answer surprised Muawiya who asked for the reason that incited her to say that wording. “It was the love of Ali and the pursuance of the right,” she replied. “But I do not notice the effects of that love,” said Muawiya. “The head was deceased and the tail was amputated. You had better leave remembering the forgotten and repeating the past,” she worded, and cited her problem of the injustice that her people and she had to encounter due to the oppression of their governor. She then expressed, “May the Lord bless that body in that grave in which the justice was buried. He allied nothing but the right; hence, he was permanently mentioned with the right and belief.” “Who is that?” wondered Muawiya. “That was Ali bin abi Talib,” she answered. “What did he do to you to occupy such a situation in your heart?” asked Muawiya. The woman storied, “Ali was performing a prayer when I came to him to complain the tax-collector that he had appointed on our province. He finished his prayer and asked about my demand. When I told him the whole story, the Imam wept and supplicated to God, ‘O, Allah, thou know that I did not instruct them of wronging your servants or deserting the right.’ He then took a piece of skin out of his pocket and wrote down, ‘In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. An evidence from your Lord has come to you. Give full measure and weight fairly, and defraud not men their things, and do not act corruptly in the lands, making mischief. What remains with Allah is better for you if you are believers, and I am not a keeper over you. As soon as you read this missive, you should keep what is in your hands until a man that receives the position will arrive.’”
The story shocked Muawiya completely. He could not control his nerves when he said, “Son of abi-Talib suffused you with bravery and inveigled you by his saying, ‘If I am the doorkeeper of a paradise, I will surely welcome the people of Hamdan warmly.’”
The memorable situation of this noble mistress was one of the gifts of the Islamic spirit that never subdue to affronts and subjugation, and never succumb to wronging and injustice.

ENDURANCE
Endurance is one of the factors that result in the coherence and equanimity of personalities. Islam has paid specific attention to this quality and urged Muslims on acceding to it. God’s reward will be highly considerable for the tolerant. God says:
Only the patient will be paid their reward in full without measure. And we will most certainly give to those who are patient their reward for the best of what they did.
And reward them, because the were patient, with garden and silk.
And we made of them imams to guide by our command then they were patient, and they were certain of our communication.
Surely we found him patient; most excellent the servant! He was frequent in returning to God.
Endurance, without which the minds would topple and the powers would retreat, is one of God’s gifts that the faithful individuals should accept. In addition, they should meet the hardship with a compatible rigidity and serene reasoning. Islam has called for hanging on endurance, for it is the most significant moral virtue. It was mentioned in seventy situations in the Quran. It is greatly notable and a source of the social erecting. The impatient nation is unable to resist the calamities and difficulties. Endurance, likewise, stirs up the virtuous tendencies that thoroughly lack it. The Imams brightened endurance and prompted on sticking to it. Imam al-Baqir (a) said, “Difficulties and endurance encompass the Paradise. He, whoever tolerates the worldly difficulties, will be in the Paradise. Lusts and desires encompass the hell-fire. He, whoever submits to the lusts and desires, will be in the hell-fire.” Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “Endurance represents the head of believing. With the fading of the head, the body will be valueless. In the same manner, when endurance vanishes, the believing will be valueless.”
Endurance is the remedy of the hearts that are injured by calamities and wronged by the mishaps. It is the consolation of the grievous souls when attacked by the currencies of obsessions and distresses, and the delight of the excruciated ones who are suffering anguishes and mistreatments. Under the shades of endurance, the anguished ones may find tranquility, rest and settlement.

Categories of endurance:
Ethicists define certain categories of endurance:
- Endurance against evildoing, caprices, lusts, and every act that may mar man’s dignity and value
- Endurance of catastrophes through tolerating the misfortunes, pains, the missed interests, and the worldly benefits
- Endurance in the situations of danger and horror, especially in defending the right and the honor
- Relinquishment to adversities and slowdown in resisting them, using all of the legal means
Subjection to poverty and rest, as well as expecting the matters of earnings, is not included with endurance. It is obligatory upon everybody to exert all efforts for obtaining good livelihood. Unemployment is illicit since it is a sort of ignorance and sloth and an entrance to sinning and vices.
At any rate, Islam has called to endurance and considered it the most notable mental virtues and the most beneficial for both individuals and societies. It is said that the most dignified and elevated people are those whom are described of endurance, steadfastness, and tenacity in hazardous and menacing situations. Those people face the calamities with full preparations and means to be saved against difficulties and inutilities.

COMPOSURE

Composure is one of the divine names and attributes that helps to win the best opportunities and adhere to virtues. God has given composure exclusively to the prophets and the godly. God says:
Most surely, Abraham was forbearing, tenderhearted and oft-returning to God. Take to forgiveness, enjoin good, and turn aside from the ignorant.
Composure is one of the most renowned mental virtues that achieve board-heartedness, high self-determination, and virtuous moralities. Many narratives refer to the adherence to this trait.
The Prophet (s) said, “O Allah! Richen me with knowledge and adorn with composure.” “God will never support by ignorance or humiliate by composure.”
Imam Ali (a) said, “The abundance of fortunes and sons is not the goodness. The real goodness is the abundance of knowledge and the munificence of composure.”
Imam Ali bin al-Hussein (a) said, “Men, whose composure overcomes their wrath, admire me.” Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “Composure is a sufficient support.”
The Imams were highly ascribed with composure. Imam al-Hassan, the Prophet’s grandson, was the exemplar of composure by the testimony of his enemies. Marwan bin al-Hakam tried to participate in the ceremonies of Imam al-Hassan’s funeral, but Imam al-Hussein said to him, “Do you intend to carry his funeral while you were one of his ultimate enemies who raged him to excess?” The man said, “I did this to the man whose composure was as huge as mountains.”
Imam Musa bin Jafar was also one of the most self-possessed and broad-hearted. He was named al-Kadim, which means ‘the self-possessed.’ God praised the carriers of such elevated qualities. He said:
And those who restrain their anger and pardon men, and Allah loves the doers of good to others.
Composure settles numerous problems and enmity, spreads mutual amiability and association, and takes away from malice and hatred. From this cause, Islam has paid thorough attention for concentrating composure in Muslims’ mentalities.