Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (A.S.) Shows the Way to Equilibrium - Part I
If you are intelligent, then you should be of firm resolution and sincere intention before you set out for any place, for surely the self's nature is to overstep the bounds and encroach on the forbidden. You should reflect when you walk, and take note of the wonders of Allah's work wherever you go. Do not be mocking, or strut when you walk; Allah said,
Do not go about in the land exulting overmuch. (31:18)
Lower your gaze from whatever is inappropriate to faith, and remember Allah frequently. There is a tradition which says that those places where, and in connection with which, Allah is mentioned will testify to that before Allah on the Day of Judgement and will ask forgiveness for those people so that Allah will let them enter the Garden.
Do not speak excessively with people along the way, for that is bad manners. Most of the roads are the traps and markets of Satan, so do not feel safe from his tricks. Make your coming and your going in obedience to Allah, striving for His pleasure, for all your movements will be recorded in your book, as Allah said,
On the day when their tongues and their hands and their feet shall bear witness against them regarding what they did, (24:24) and
We have made every man's actions to cling to his neck. (17:13)
On Leaving your Home
When you leave your home, do it as if you will never return. Leave only for the sake of obedience to Allah or for the sake of the faith. Remain tranquil and dignified in your bearing, and remember Allah both secretly and openly.
One of the companions of Abu Dharr asked a member of Abu Dharr's household where he was and she said, 'He has gone out.' When the man asked when Abu Dharr would return, she replied, 'When he returns is in the hands of someone else,' for he has no power on his own.
Learn from Allah's creation, both the pious and the deviants, wherever you go. Ask Allah to place you among His sincere and truthful bondsmen, and to join you to those of them who have passed on and to gather you in their company. Praise Him, and give thanks for the appetites He has made you avoid, and the ugly actions of the wrongdoers from which He has protected you. Lower your gaze from carnal appetites and forbidden things, and pursue the right course on your journey. Be vigilant, fearing Allah at every step, as if you were crossing the straight path. Do not be distracted. Offer a greeting to His people, both giving it first and answering with it. Give help to those who ask for it in a righteous cause, guide those who are lost and ignore the ignorant.
When you return to your home, enter it as a corpse enters the grave, its only concern being to receive the mercy and forgiveness of Allah.
On Reciting the Qur'an
Whoever recites the Qur'an and does not humble himself before Allah, whose heart is not softened, nor regret and fear provoked within him, undervalues the immensity of Allah's affair and is in a clear state of loss.
The person who recites the Qur'an needs three things: a fearful heart, a tranquil and receptive body, and an appropriate place to recite. When his heart fears Allah, then the accursed Satan flees from him. As Allah said,
When you recite the Qur'an, seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan. (16:98)
When he frees himself of all attachments, then his heart is devoted to recitation, and nothing impedes him from obtaining the blessing of the light of the Qur'an and its benefits. When he finds an empty place and withdraws from people, having acquired the two qualities of humility of heart and tranquility of body, then his soul and his innermost being will feel communion with Allah, and he will discover the sweetness of how Allah speaks to His right-acting bondsmen, how He shows His gentleness, to them and singles them out for all the varieties of His marks of honour and wondrous signs. If he drinks a cup of this drink, he will never prefer any other state to this nor any other moment to this. He will prefer this to every act of obedience and devotion, since it contains intimate conversation with the Lord, without any intermediary.
So beware of how you read the Book of your Lord, the guardian to whom you aspire, how you respond to His commands and avoid His prohibitions, and how you observe His limits, for it is a mighty Book: Falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind it, a revelation from the Wise, the Praised One. (41:42)
Therefore recite it in an orderly manner and contemplatively and adhere to the limits of His promise and His threat. Reflect on its examples and warnings. Beware of paying undue respect to the recitation of its letters while failing to observe the legal limits contained therein.
The best adornment of the believer's garment is precaution and the most blessed garment is belief. As Allah said,
And clothing that guards [against evil]; that is best. (7:26)
Outward dress is a blessing from Allah in order to preserve the modesty of the sons of Adam; it is a mark of honour which Allah has given to the descendants of Adam. He did not give that honour to any other creature; it is given to the believers as a means of carrying out their obligations. Your best garments are those which do not distract you from Allah, those garments, in fact, which bring you closer to remembrance of Him, and gratitude and obedience to Him. They do not, however, move you to pride, conceit, pretence, boastfulness or arrogance: those things are the scourge of the faith, and their legacy is hardness of heart.
When you put on your clothes, remember that Allah veils your wrong actions with His mercy. You should clothe your inward part as you clothe your outward part with your garment. Let your inward truth be veiled in awe of Allah, and let your outward truth be veiled in obedience. Take heed of the overflowing favour of Allah, since He created the means to make garments for covering physical immodesty and opened the gates for repentance, regret, and seeking succour, in order to veil the inward parts, and their wrong actions and bad character.
Do not expose anyone's faults when Allah has concealed worse things in yourself. Occupy yourself with your own faults, and overlook matters and situations which do not concern you. Beware lest you exhaust your life in other people's actions and exchange your irreplaceable endowed wealth with someone else, thereby destroying yourself. Forgetting wrong actions brings about the greatest punishments of Allah in this world, and is the most ample cause for punishment in the next. So long as the bondsman occupies himself with obeying Allah, with recognizing his own faults and leaving alone whatever might devalue faith in Allah, he is spared ruin and is immersed in the sea of Allah's mercy, attaining the gems and the benefits of wisdom and clarity.
But as long as he forgets his own wrong actions, is ignorant of his own faults, and falls back on his power and strength, he will never be successful.
Sleep the sleep of the mindful, do not sleep the sleep of the heedless. For the mindful among the astute sleep only for rest, and do not purposely sleep through laziness.
The Holy Prophet said, 'My eyes sleep, but my heart does not.' When you go to sleep, have the intention to lighten your burden on the angels and disengage the self from its appetites, and to examine yourself by your sleep; be aware of the fact that you are incapable and weak. You have no power over any of your movements and stillnesses, except by the judgement and measure of Allah. Know that sleep is the brother of death. Use it as a guide to death, for there is no way to wake up in death or to return to correct action once you have missed it. Whoever sleeps through an obligatory, recommended or supererogatory prayer is at fault, and his sleep is the sleep of the heedless and the path of the losers; he is at fault. Whoever sleeps after he has discharged his duties concerning obligatory and recommended prayers, and has carried out his responsibilities, sleeps a praiseworthy sleep. I do not know of anything that is safer than sleep for the people of our times who have attained these qualities: this is because people have ceased to guard their faith and to take care in observing their conduct. They have taken the left-hand path. When a sincere bondsman strives not to speak out of place, how can he avoid hearing that which would prevent him from not speaking unless there is a safeguard? Sleep is one such safeguard. As Allah said,
Surely, the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these shall be questioned about that. (17:36)
In excess sleep there are many evils, even if it is done in the way we have mentioned. Too much sleep is brought about by excess drink, and excess drinking is brought about being excessively satiated. Both of these things weigh heavily on the self to keep it from obedience, and they harden the heart from reflection and humility.
Make your sleep your last affair in this world; remember Allah with your heart and your tongue. Let your obedience to Allah overpower your wrong doings and seek help from Him while you sleep, fasting until the morning prayer, since if you are awakened at night, Satan whispers to you, 'Sleep again, you still have a long night,' for he wants you to miss the time of intimate contemplation and exposure of your state before your Lord. Do not be distracted in seeking forgiveness at dawn, for at that time there is much yearning for those in devoted supplication.
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