Noble Characteristics as Preached by Imam Jafar al- Sadiq (A.S.) - Part II
by: Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A.S.)
Persevere in performing the customs and obligations in worship ('ibadah), for they are the source: whoever obtains them and performs them properly has obtained everything. The best form of worship is that which comes nearest to security. This is the one most free of harm and the most consistent, be it ever so small. If you have performed your obligatory and supererogatory prayers, then you are a true worshipper.
Beware of treading on the carpet of a king unless you do so with abasement, acknowledgement of need, fear, and respect. Make your movements free of showing off and your secret free of hardness.
The Holy Prophet said, 'The person who prays is conversing with his Lord.' So be embarrassed before the One Who is Cognizant of your secret, Who knows your conversation and what your conscience conceals. Be where He will see you doing what He wants you to do, and performing that to which He has summoned you. Those who have gone before us occupied themselves from the moment they completed one obligatory prayer to the moment they started another, so that they could perform both prayers sincerely and correctly. It seems that in our times it has become a virtue to leave the obligatory aside, which is like having a body without a soul.
'Ali ibn al-Husayn said, 'I wonder at a person who seeks something extra while he abandons an obligation; he only does so because he lacks recognition of the matter and respect for it. He does not see Allah's will in preparing people to obey His command and choosing that for them.'
Reflect on what has passed of this world. Has any of it remained for anyone? Has anyone remained in it, be he noble or lowly, rich or poor, friend or enemy? Similarly, what has not yet happened of it resembles more closely that which has passed of it, than water resembles water. The Messenger of Allah said, 'Death is enough of a warner; the intellect is enough of a guide; precaution is enough of a provision; worship is enough of an occupation; Allah is sufficient as an intimate friend; the Qur'an is enough of a clarification.'
And elsewhere, 'Only affliction and trial remain of this world. If a person is saved, it is only by sincerely seeking refuge.' And Noah said, 'I found this world to be like a house with two doors. I entered through one of them and went out through the other.' Such is the state of the one who was saved by Allah: so what is the state of one who feels at ease in this world, relies on it, wastes his life by cultivating it, and is full of worldly demands?
Reflection is the mirror of good deeds and the expiation of bad deeds. It is the light of the heart, and guarantees ease to other people and success in obtaining betterment for the next abode; it allows one to foresee the outcome of one's actions, and causes an increase in knowledge. Worship of Allah is unparalleled when accompanied by this quality. The Messenger of Allah said, 'To reflect for an hour is better than worshipping for a year.'
The station of reflection is only obtained by him whom Allah has singled out for the light of gnosis (ma'rifah) and tawhid.
Observe the courtesy of supplication. Consider the One on whom you call, how you call on Him and why you call; affirm the immensity and magnificence of Allah. Look with your heart at how He knows what is in your conscience, how He sees your secret being and whatever has occurred and will occur in it, both true and false. Learn the paths to your salvation and destruction, so that you do not call upon Allah for something which perhaps contains your destruction, but which you suppose to contain your salvation. Allah said,
Man prays for evil as he ought to pray for good, and man is ever hasty. (17:11)
Reflect about what you ask for and why you are asking: supplication should be a total response to the Truth on your part, and a melting of the heart in contemplation of its Lord. It is to abandon all choices and to surrender all matters, both outward and inward, to Allah. If the preconditions of the supplication are not met, then do not look for fulfillment, for He knows what is secret and what is hidden; you might ask Him for something when He knows that you conceal the opposite of it.
One of the companions said to the others, 'You are waiting for rain, and I am waiting for stones.' Know that if Allah had not commanded us to call on Him, He would nevertheless have favoured us with an answer immediately after we finished the prayer. How, then, is His favour, given the fact that He has guaranteed that answer to whoever fulfils the conditions of the prayer?
The Messenger of Allah was asked about the most powerful name of Allah: he said, 'Every name of Allah is most powerful.'
Free your heart from all that is other-than-Him, and call on Him by whatever name you like. In reality Allah does not have one name rather than another: He is Allah, the One, the Almighty.
The Holy Prophet said, 'Allah does not answer the supplication of a heedless heart.' When one of you wants His Lord to give to him whatever he asks of Him, he should renounce all people, putting his hope in Allah alone. When Allah sees that in his heart, He will give him whatever he asks.
When you have established the preconditions of supplication which I have mentioned, and have become sincere in your innermost being for His sake, then rejoice in the good news that one of three things will happen: either He will hasten to give you what you have asked for, or He will store up something better for you, or He will avert from you an affliction which would have destroyed you had He sent it. The Holy Prophet reported that Allah said, 'If anyone is distracted from asking Me by his own remembrance of Me, I will give him better than what I give to those who ask.'
I called on Allah once and He answered me. I forgot the need because of the fact that when He answers a supplication, His bestowal is far greater and more sublime than what the bondsman desires from Him, even if it be the Garden and its eternal blessings. This is understood only by lovers who act, gnostics, the elite and the select of Allah.
The Holy Prophet said, 'Fasting is a protection from the calamities of this world, and a veil from punishment of the next.' When you fast, intend thereby to restrain yourself from fleshly appetites and to cut off those worldly desires arising from the ideas of Satan and his kind. Put yourself in the position of a sick person who desires neither food nor drink; expect recovery at any moment from the sickness of wrong actions. Purify your inner being of every lie, turbidity, heedlessness and darkness, which might cut you off from the meaning of being sincere for the sake of Allah.
Somebody said to one of the Companions, 'You are already weak; fasting will weaken you further.' 'I am preparing that fast for the evil of a long day,' he said. 'Patience in obeying Allah is easier than patience in His punishment.' And the Messenger of Allah once quoted Allah's words, 'Fasting is done for Me, and I am its reward.'
Fasting kills the desire of the self and the appetite of greed, and from it comes purity of the heart, purification of the limbs, cultivation of the inner and the outer being, thankfulness for blessings, charity to the poor, increase of humble supplication, humility, weeping and most of the ways of seeking refuge in Allah; and it is the reason for the breaking of aspiration, the lightening of evil things, and the redoubling of good deeds. It contains benefits which cannot be counted. It is enough that we mention some of them to the person who understands and is given success in making use of fasting, if Allah wills.
Abstinence is the key to the door of the next world and freedom from the Fire. It consists of leaving everything which could distract you from Allah without regret, nor feeling proud about leaving it, nor waiting for relief from your renunciation, nor seeking any praise for it. Indeed abstinence means a person considering such things to be of no avail to him: he deems their passing him by as a relief and comfort for him, and their presence as a misfortune for him; thus he always flees from misfortune and clings to what brings him ease and relief. The man of abstinence is the one who chooses the next world. He chooses abasement over might and this world, striving over rest, hunger over being full, the well-being of what is to come later over immediate trials, and remembrance over heedlessness. His self is in this world and his heart is in the next world.
The Messenger of Allah said, 'Love of this world is the fount of every error;' and elsewhere, 'This world is a corpse; whoever seeks it is like a dog.' Do you not see how it loves what Allah hates? What error is a greater crime than this?
One of the Holy Prophet's family said, 'If all of this world were a morsel in a child's mouth, we would have mercy on him. What then is the state of someone who throws the limits set by Allah behind his back, seeking and desiring this world? If the dwelling place of this world had been any good, it would not have shown you mercy, nor answered you, and would have bidden you farewell in departure.'
The Messenger of Allah said, 'When Almighty Allah created this world, He commanded it to obey Him and it obeyed its Lord. He told it, "Oppose the one who seeks you and give success to the one who opposes you." ' It acts according to what Allah charged it to do, and what He impressed upon its nature.
A Description of this World
This world is like a body whose head is pride, whose eyes are avarice, whose ears are greed, whose tongue is dissimulation, whose hand is desire, whose legs are vanity, whose heart is heedlessness, whose being is annihilation, and whose product is extinction.
It brings pride to whoever loves it, avarice to whoever prefers it, greed to whoever seeks it, and cloaks with hypocrisy whoever praises it. It gives vain power over whoever desires it; it leads to heedlessness in the person who relies on it. It seduces whoever admires its goods, but those goods do not last for him. It returns the person who gathers it and is miserly with it to its own abode, which is the Fire.
Forbearance is a lamp of Allah which leads the holder to His excellence; a person cannot be forbearing unless he is aided by the lights of gnosis and tawhid. Forbearance has five facets: when a man is exalted, but is then humbled; when he is truthful, he is accused of being a liar; when he calls people to the truth, he is scorned; when he is injured without having done any crime; and when he demands his rights and they oppose him.
When you have given each of these its due, you have achieved the goal. When you have countered the half-wit by turning away from him and not answering him, people will come to your aid, for he who wages war with a fool is like a man who puts wood on the fire.
The Holy Prophet said, 'The believer is like the earth: people obtain benefits from it while they are on it.' Whoever cannot endure people's harsh rudeness will not reach Allah's good pleasure, because His pleasure is closely linked with people's antipathy.
It is related that a man said to Ahnaf ibn Qays, 'You are causing me to worry.' 'I will forbear with you,' he replied.
The Messenger of Allah said, 'I was sent as a centre of forbearance, a mine of knowledge, and a home for patience.' He spoke the truth when he said, 'True forbearance is when you pardon a person who acts badly with you and opposes you, while you have the power to take revenge on him.' It is as the supplication says: 'My Allah, You are too vast in favour and forbearance to punish me for my action and abase me for my mistake.'
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