Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (A.S.) Shows the Way to Equilibrium - Part III
The meaning of the taslim (greeting of peace) at the end of the prayer means security, that is, anyone who carries out the command of Allah and the sunnah of His Prophet out of humility to Him and showing fear, has security from the tribulations of this world and freedom from the punishment of the next world. Al-Salam (peace) is one of the names of Allah, which He entrusted to His creation so that they would make use of it in their behaviour, trusts and contracts; in confirming their companies and assemblies; and for the soundness of their social relations.
If you want to establish this salam in its proper place, and to fulfill its meaning, then fear Allah; and make your faith, your heart, and your intellect sound. Do not sully them by the injustice of acts of rebellion. Let your guardians be safe from you; do not weary, or bore or alienate them through your bad behaviour towards them, nor with your friend, nor with your enemy. If those who are close to someone are not safe from him, then those furthest from him are safest. Anyone who does not establish salam on the occasions when it should be established has no peace and no submission: he is a liar in his salam, even if he uses it as a form of greeting among people.
Know that man's existence lies between trials and afflictions in this world. Allah may test him with blessings, to see his thankfulness, or with hardship, to see if he will show steadfastness and nobility by obeying Him, or disgrace in rebelling against Him, although there is no way to reach His good pleasure and mercy except through His grace. The only means to obey Him is when he grants success: none can intercede with Him except with His permission and mercy.
The believer only acquires true rest when he meets Allah, although rest may also be obtained by these four things: silence, by which you recognize the state of your heart and your self in your relations with your Creator; retreat, by which you are rescued from the evils of the age, outwardly and inwardly; hunger, which kills fleshly appetites and temptation; and wakefulness, which illuminates your heart, purifies your nature and cleanses your spirit.
The Holy Prophet said, 'If a man finds himself in the morning tranquil in his heart, healthy in body and with food for the day, it is as if all of this world had been chosen for him'; and Wahb ibn Munabbih said: “In the first and the last Books it is written ‘O contentment, honour and riches are to be found with you. Whoever wins, wins through you!'
Abu al-Darda' said, 'What Allah has allotted to me will not pass me by, even if it were on the wing of a breeze'; and Abu Dharr said, 'The secret of a man who does not trust his Lord is always exposed, even if it is imprisoned in solid rock.' No one is in a greater state of loss, is viler, or lower than the person who does not believe what his Lord has guaranteed for him and allotted him before He created him. In spite of that, this person relies on his own strength, management, effort, and striving, and goes beyond the limits of his Lord by his seeking ways and means which Allah has caused him to have no need of.
The Messenger of Allah said, 'Using the siwak' purifies the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord,' and he made it one of the confirmed practices. It has benefits for both the outward and the inward being which even men of intelligence cannot count.
As you remove the stains caused by food and drink from your teeth with the siwak, so remove the impurity of your wrong actions by humble entreaty, humility, night prayers, and asking for forgiveness before dawn. Purify your outer being from impurities, and your inner being from the turbidity of acts of opposition and committing anything prohibited, all the while acting sincerely for Allah. The Holy Prophet made its use an example for people for alertness and attention, in that the siwak is a clean, soft plant and the twig of a blessed tree. The teeth are what Allah created in the mouth as a tool for eating, an implement for chewing, a reason for enjoying food and for keeping the intestines in order. The teeth are pure jewels, which become dirty because they are present when food is chewed, leading to a deterioration in the way the mouth smells, and decay in the gums. When the intelligent believer cleans with the soft plant and wipes it on these pure jewels, he removes the decay and adulteration from them and they then revert to their original state.
Similarly Allah created the heart pure and clean, and made its food remembrance, reflection, awe and respect. When the pure heart turns grey by being fed on heedlessness and vexation, it is polished by the burnish of repentance and cleaned by the water of regret, so that it reverts to its primal state and its basic essence. As Allah said,
Surely Allah loves those who turn [in repentance] to Him, and He loves those who purify themselves. (2:222)
In recommending the use of the siwak the Holy Prophet was advocating that it be used on the teeth themselves; but he also implied the meaning and example we have referred to above, that for anyone who empties his faculty of reflection for the purpose of drawing inward lessons from the outward examples, with respect to both the principle and roots of faith, Allah will open the springs of wisdom, and will give him still more of His overflowing favour, for Allah does not neglect the reward of those who act well.
Using the Lavatory
The lavatory is called in Arabic 'the place of rest', because there people may find rest from the burden of impurities and empty themselves of grossness and filth. There the believer may reflect on how he is cleansing himself from the food and perishable matter of this world, and how his own death will come in like manner: therefore he should find ease in avoiding the world, leaving it aside and freeing himself and his heart from its distractions. He should be averse to taking and gathering this world just as he loathes impurity, the lavatory and filth, reflecting on how something good in one state becomes so base in another. He knows that holding onto contentment and precaution will bring him ease in the two abodes.
Thus ease comes from considering this world to be insignificant, giving up one's enjoyment of it, and removing the impurity of what is forbidden or doubtful. A person closes the door of pride on himself once he recognizes this; he flees from wrong actions and opens the door of humility, regret, and modesty. He strives to carry out Allah's commands and to avoid His prohibitions, seeking a good end and excellent proximity to Allah. He locks himself in the prison of fear, steadfastness, and the restraint of his appetites until he reaches the safety of Allah in the world to come, and tastes the food of His good pleasure. If he intends that, everything else means nothing to him.
If you seek purification and ablution (wudu'), then go to water as you would go to the mercy of Allah, for He has made water the key to being near to Him in intimate conversation, and a guide to the domain of His service. Just as the mercy of Allah purifies the wrong actions of His bondsmen, so are outward impurities cleansed only by water. As Allah said,
It is He Who sends the winds as good news before His mercy; and We send down pure water out of heaven! (25:48) and elsewhere,
We have made of water everything living. Will they not then believe? (21:30)
As He gives life to every blessing in this world from water, so by His mercy and overflowing favour He gives life to the heart and to acts of obedience, and to reflection in the purity of water, its fineness, its cleanness, its blessing and the subtleness of how it mixes with everything; through water He also gives life to the heart, when you purify those limbs which you have been commanded by Allah to purify, and which you use to worship in your obligatory and customary prayers.
From each limb come many benefits. When you treat the limbs with respect, then their benefits will soon spring up for you. Deal with Allah's creation like water which mixes with things and gives everything its due, while not changing itself in essence. This is expressed by the words of the Messenger of Allah, 'The sincere believer is like water.' Let your purity with Allah in all your obedience be like the purity of water when He sent it down out of heaven and called it pure. Purify your heart with precaution and certainty when you purify your limbs with water.
Entering the Mosque
When you reach the door of the mosque, know that you have come to the door of a mighty King. Only the purified tread on His carpet, and only the true are allowed to sit with Him. So be alert in your approach of the court of the awesome King, for you are in great danger if you are heedless. Know that He can do whatever He wishes in justice and overflowing favour with you and by you. If He inclines to you with His mercy and overflowing favour, He has accepted a small amount of your obedience and has given you a great reward for it. If He demands His due of truthfulness and sincerity by His justice towards you, He has veiled you and rejected your obedience, even if you have had obedience in abundance. He does what He wills. Acknowledge your incapacity, inadequacy, fragility, and poverty before Him, for you have turned yourself to worshipping Him and being close to Him. Turn to Him, and know that neither the secret nor the revealed part of any creature is hidden from Him. Be like the poorest of His servants before Him: strip your heart of every occupation which might veil you from your Lord, for He only accepts the purest and most sincere. Look to see in which register your name will be written.
If you taste the sweetness of His intimate conversation and the pleasure of His addressing you, and drink the cup of His mercy, and those favours he has bestowed on you and those of your requests which He has accepted, then you have served Him properly, and may therefore enter the sphere of His permission and security. If not, then stand as one whose power and ability have been cut off, and whose term has come to an end. If Almighty Allah knows that in your heart you are sincerely seeking refuge with Him, He will regard you with compassion, mercy and kindness. He will cause you to succeed in that which He loves and which is pleasing to Him, for He is generous. He loves noble generosity and the worship of those who need Him, and who are burning up at His door seeking His good pleasure. Allah said,
Who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him, and removes the evil? (27:62)
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