Noble Characteristics as Preached by Imam Jafar al- Sadiq (A.S.) - Part III
by: Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A.S.)
Following Another's Example
Following the example of another is nothing more than what has been bestowed upon the spirit at its origin, when the light of time was mixed with that of eternity. Following a model, however, does not consist of adopting the marks of outward actions and claiming descent from the awliya' of the faith from among the wise and the Imams. As Allah said,
The day when We will call every people by their Imam. (17:71)
that is, whoever follows someone with effacement is pure. And elsewhere,
So when the trumpet is blown, there will be no ties of relationship between them on that day, nor shall they ask of each other. (23:101)
The Commander of the Faithful said, 'Souls are a drafted army. Those who know each other are intimate, and those who do not know each other differ from each other.' Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyah was asked who had taught him good manners, and he replied, 'My Lord taught me manners in myself. Whatever I find to be good in people of intelligence and insight I follow and use; whatever I find ugly in the ignorant I avoid and forsake forever. That has brought me to the path of knowledge. There is no sounder way for the astute believer than to follow the example of others, because it is the clearest path and soundest goal.' And Allah said to Muhammad, the greatest of His creation,
These are they whom Allah guided, therefore follow their guidance. (6:90)
Elsewhere He said,
Then We revealed to you: Follow the faith of Abraham, the upright one. (16:123)
If the faith of Allah had had a path straighter than following a model, He would have recommended it to His prophets and His supporters .
The Holy Prophet said, 'There is a light in the heart which is illuminated only by following the truth and intending towards the right path. It is a part of the light of the prophets which has been entrusted in the hearts of the believers.'
Pardoning someone when you have the power to punish is one of the customary practices of the messengers and the secrets of the Allah-fearing. Pardon is when you do not charge your companion for what he has done wrong outwardly, when you forget the cause by which there was inward affliction, and when you extend great charity in your choice despite having power over him. No one could find a way to that pardon except by the one whom Allah has pardoned and forgiven for the sins which he has committed and the deeds he has put off, and who has been adorned with His mark of honour and clothed in the light of His radiance.
This is because pardon and forgiveness are two of the attributes of Almighty Allah which He entrusted in the secrets of His pure friends, so that they adopt the manners of their Creator and Maker with creation. This is why He said,
They should pardon and turn away. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is forgiving, merciful. (24:22)
If you do not pardon another mortal like yourself, how can you hope for the pardon of the Compelling King?
The Holy Prophet said that his Lord commanded him to have these qualities, saying, 'Unite with whoever breaks with you, and pardon whoever wrongs you; give to whoever deprives you, and be good to whoever is bad to you.' He commanded us to follow him when Allah said,
Whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back. (59:7)
Pardon is a secret of Allah in the heart of His select. Whoever is gladdened by it has made Him happy. The Messenger of Allah said, 'Is any of you capable of being like Abu Damdam?' 'O Messenger of Allah,' they said, 'Who is Abu Damdam?' The Holy Prophet replied, 'One of your ancestors who, when he woke up in the morning would say, "O Allah, I have forgiven the shattering of my honour by the common people." '
The best form of exhortation is when the words used do not go beyond the limits of truth, and the actions performed do not go beyond the limits of sincerity. The warner and the warned are like someone awake and someone asleep: whoever awakes from the slumber of his heedlessness, opposition and rebellion does good to awaken others from that sleep.
Anyone who travels in the deserts of transgression and engrosses himself in the wilds of misguidance, abandons his modesty because of his love for reputation, showing off and fame, wasting his time with those who wear the garments of the righteous, his outward appearance divulging the substance, of what is inside of him. In reality he is devoid of any substance and his inner destitution is flooded with love of praise and enveloped in the darkness of greed. How seduced he is by his passion! How he leads people astray with his words! As Allah has said,
Evil certainly is the guardian and evil certainly is the associate. (22:13)
But whoever Allah has protected by the light of tawhid, support, and excellent success, his heart is cleansed of impurity. He does not separate himself from gnosis and precaution; he listens to the words of the misguided while he ignores the speaker himself, whoever he is. The wise have said, 'Take wisdom, even if it comes from the mouths of madmen.' In the words of ‘Isa [a], 'Sit with anyone who reminds you of Allah when you see him and meet him, aside from when he talks. Do not sit with someone when your outer being accepts him but your inner being rejects him.' That is someone who lays claim to what he does not have; if you are sincere, then they will yield to you. When you find someone with these three qualities, then seize the opportunity to see him, meet with him, and sit with him, even if it is only for an hour: this will have an effect on your faith, your heart, and your worship, through his blessing.
If someone's words do not go beyond his actions, whose actions do not go beyond his truthfulness, and whose truthfulness does not contend with his Lord, then sit with him with respect and wait for mercy and blessing. Beware of the proof against you, and make his time in your company pleasant, so that you do not reproach him and lose. Look at him with the eye of Allah's favour upon him, His selecting him and His honouring him.
The best of advice and the most necessary is that you do not forget your Lord, and that you remember Him always, and do not rebel against Him, and that you should worship Him whether sitting or standing. Do not be dazzled by His blessings and always be grateful to Him. Do not go out from under the protective cover of His mercy, immensity and majesty, lest you go astray and fall into the field of destruction, even if affliction and adversity touch you and the fires of trials burn you. Know that the afflictions He sends are filled with the eternal marks of His honour, and that the trials He inflicts bring about His pleasure and nearness, even though it may be after some time. What blessings there are for the person who has knowledge, and who is granted success therein!
It is related that when someone asked the Messenger of Allah for advice, he said, 'Never get angry, for anger contains opposition to your Lord. Beware of making excuses, for they contain hidden polytheism. Say your prayers like someone saying farewell, for it contains a link to Allah and nearness to Him. Be modest before Allah as you are modest before the righteous among your neighbours, for this contains increased certainty.'
Allah has gathered up the advice of all our ancestors, both distant and near, into one single characteristic and that is Precaution (taqwa)
In the words of Almighty Allah,
Certainly We enjoined those who were given the Book before you, and [We enjoin] you too that you should be careful of [your duty]. (4:131)
This is the sum of every sound act of worship: it is by precaution that people reach the high degrees and highest ranks. It is by precaution that people lead a good life with constant companionship.
Surely those who guard [against evil] shall be in gardens and rivers, in the seat of honour with a most powerful King. (54:54-5)
Trust (tawakkul) is a cup sealed with Allah: none may drink from it or break the seal save the trustful. It is as Allah said,
On Allah should the trustful rely, (14:12) and
On Allah should you rely if you are believers. (5:23)
Allah made trust the key of belief, and belief the lock of trust. The reality of trust is preferring others to oneself; the root of preferring others is to advance the other person's claim. He who trusts continues to affirm one of two preferences in his trust. If he prefers what is caused (i.e. phenomenal being), he is veiled by it. If he prefers the Causer of the cause of trust (i.e. the Creator, glory be to Him and may He be exalted
, he remains with Him. If you want to be a man of trust and not a man of causes, then say the takbir over your ruh five times, and bid farewell to all your hopes as death bids farewell to life.
The lowest level of trust is nothing more than placing your highest aspiration before your own advancement; moreover, you should neither seek for your own portion nor look for what you lack, for either of those things would break the bond of your belief while you are unaware. If you are truly determined to live by one of the marks of the trusting one, and by His trust with respect to one of these two preferences, then cling to this story for support. It is related that one of the men of trust came to one of the Imams and said to him, 'Show me compassion by answering a question about trust.' The Imam knew the man to be of excellent trust and rare scrupulousness, and he saw his sincerity in what he was asking before the man actually put the question. 'Stay where you are and wait with me for awhile,' he told him. While he was formulating his answer a poor man passed by. The Imam put his hand into his pocket and, taking something out, gave it to the poor man. Then he turned to the man who had asked the question and said, 'Come and ask about what you have seen.' 'O Imam,' the man said, 'I know that you could have given me the answer to my question before making me wait. Why then did you delay?' And the Imam replied, 'Belief means reflecting on the meaning before I speak. For how could I be negligent of my innermost being when my Lord perceives it? How could I discuss the science of trust while there is a coin in my pocket? It is not permitted for me to discuss that until after I had given it to him, so understand!' The questioner sighed deeply and swore that he would not seek shelter in a house nor rely on another mortal as long as he lived.
Striving and Discipline
Bliss belongs to the bondsman who strives for Allah against his own nature and passions: he who then defeats his passion wins Allah's pleasure, and the one whose intellect leaves behind the self which commands evil through his striving jihad, submission and humility in the service of Allah has won a great victory. There is no veil between the bondsman and Allah which is darker or more desolate than that of self and passion; there is no better weapon to fight and destroy them than total need of Allah, glory be to Him, fear, hunger, thirst in the day and wakefulness at night.
When a person possessing these traits dies, he dies a martyr. If he lives according to the straight path, his end will take him to the greatest pleasure of Allah.
And [as for] those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in our ways, and Allah is most surely with the doers of good. (29:69)
When you see someone striving harder than you, upbraid yourself, and reproach yourself in order to encourage yourself to do more. Put a halter of command and rein of prohibition on the self, and carry on as if you were a trainer who does not let his mount take a step unless it is completely correct.
The Messenger of Allah used to pray until his feet were swollen. He would say, 'How can I not be a thankful slave?' The Holy Prophet wanted to make his community consider this so that they would not neglect striving, toil, and discipline in any state. If you were to experience the sweetness of worshipping Allah, to see it’s blessing and be illuminated by its light, you would not be patient without it for a single hour, even if you were to be cut to pieces. No one turns away from it without being denied such benefits of protection and success from Allah as were attained by his forefathers.
Rabi' ibn Khuthaym was asked why he did not sleep at night. 'Because I fear to spend the night in sleep,' he replied.
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