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Noble Characteristics as Preached by Imam Jafar al- Sadiq (A.S.) - Part V

by: Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A.S.)


Sorrow is one of the marks of the gnostics, through the magnitude of what comes to them of the Unseen when they are in seclusion, and the intensity of their glorification of Allah. The outer being of the sorrowful is contraction and his inner being is expansion.

He lives with men contentedly, in a life of nearness to Allah. The sorrowful person is not a man of reflection, because he who reflects is forced to do so, while a sorrowful person is so by nature. Sorrow comes from within, and reflection begins by seeing phenomena—there is a difference between them.
Allah said in the story of Jacob,

I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah, and I know [from Allah] what you do not know. (12:86)
This is because the knowledge gained in the state of sorrow is particular to him, and Allah has singled him out for it and left the rest of the world deprived. When Rabi' ibn Khuthaym was asked why he was sorrowful, he replied, 'Because I have demands made on me. At the right of sorrow stands contrition, and at the left of it stands silence. Sorrow is a mark of the gnostics of Allah .'

Reflection is shared by both the elite and the common folk. If sorrow were to be veiled from the hearts of the gnostics for an hour, they would have to seek help; but if it were to be placed in the hearts of others, they would dislike it. Sorrow is first, while second comes security and good news. Reflection comes second, following the establishment of one's belief in and utter need of Allah by one's seeking rescue with Him. The sorrowful person reflects, and he who reflects takes note. Each of them has a state, a science, a path, forbearance and honour.



Modesty is a light whose essence is the heart of belief, meaning careful consideration in everything which is denounced by tawhid and gnosis. The Holy Prophet said, 'Modesty is part of belief.' That is to say, modesty is accepted through belief, and belief is accepted through modesty. The modest person is all good. Whoever is denied modesty is all evil, even if he worships and is scrupulous. One step taken with modesty in the courtyards of Allah's awe is better than seventy years of worship. Insolence, however, is the beginning of hypocrisy, schism and disbelief.

The Messenger of Allah said, 'If you have no shame, then do as you like.’ This means that when modesty leaves you, then you are punished for all the good or evil that you do. The strength of modesty comes from sorrow and fear, and modesty is the home of fear. The beginning of modesty is awe, and its end is clear vision. A modest person is occupied with his own affairs, withdrawn from people, and distant from what they are doing, even if they all forsake completely person with modesty.

The Messenger of Allah said, 'When Allah desires good for a bondsman, he makes him forget his good qualities, putting his evil qualities before his eyes and making him dislike sitting with those who turn away from the remembrance of Allah.' Modesty is of five kinds: shame for a wrong action; shame for one's incapacity; modesty in the face of a noble equality; the modesty of love, and the modesty of awe. Each of these has its adherents, who are ranked according to these categories of modesty.


Gnosis (ma'rifah)

The person of the gnostic ('arif) is with the people, while his heart is with Allah. If his heart were to forget Allah for the time it takes to blink an eye, he would die of yearning for Him. The gnostic is the trustee over the happenings of Allah, the treasury of His secrets, the repository of his lights, the proof of His mercy to creation, the instrument of His sciences and the measure of His favour and justice. He needs neither people, nor a goal, or nor this world. He has no intimate except Allah, nor any speech, gesture or breath except by Allah, with Allah, and from Allah, for he frequents the garden of His sanctity and is enriched by His subtlest favours to him. Gnosis is a root whose branch is belief.


Love of Allah

When love of Allah takes possession of the innermost being of Allah's bondsman, it empties him of every preoccupation except remembrance of Allah. The lover is the most inwardly sincere of all people for Allah. He is the most truthful in his words, the most faithful in his pledge, the most astute in his actions, the purest in remembrance, and the greatest in devoting his self in worship.

The angels compete with each other to converse with him, and boast of having seen him. Through him Allah makes His lands flourish, and by His regard, Allah honours His slaves. Allah gives to people when they ask Him by his right, and removes afflictions from them by His mercy. If people knew how they stand with Allah, they would not try to draw near to Allah save by the dust of his feet.

The Commander of the Faithful said, 'Love of Allah is a fire which does not pass by anything without burning it up; the light of Allah does not come over something without illuminating it.

The skies of Allah do not cause a cloud to appear without it covering whatever is beneath it; the wind of Allah does not blow on something without it moving. Allah's water gives life to everything, and from Allah's earth everything grows. Whoever loves Allah is given every possession and authority.'

The Holy Prophet said, 'When Allah loves a slave in my community, He casts love of him into the hearts of His friends, the spirits of the angels and the keepers of His throne, so that they love him.’

That lover truly has an abundance of bliss, and will be able to intercede with Allah on the Day of Resurrection.'


Love for the Sake of Allah

He who loves for the sake of Allah is beloved of Allah, and he who is loved for the sake of Allah is also beloved of Allah, since each loves the other for the sake of Allah. The Messenger of Allah said, 'Man is with whom he loves. Whoever loves a bondsman in Allah, loves Allah. No one loves Allah except he whom Allah loves.' And again, 'The best of people after the prophets in this world and the next are those who love each other for Allah.' Every love based on some cause other than Allah brings about enmity except for these two, for they come from the same source. Theirs always increases and never decreases. As Allah said,

The friends shall on that day be enemies to one another except for those who guard against evil, (43:67)
because the root of love is being free of everything except the Beloved.

The Commander of the Faithful said, 'The best thing in the Garden and the sweetest is love of Allah, love in Allah, and praise for Allah.' And Allah has said,

The last of their supplication shall be "Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds", (10:10)

because when they see the blessings that exist in the Garden, love is aroused in their hearts and then they call out, 'Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.'



He who yearns neither desires food, nor finds pleasure in drink, nor is he quickly excitable, nor is he intimate even with his close friends, nor does he seek refuge in a house, nor does he dwell in a city, nor wear a garment nor take rest enough for his need.

He worships Allah night and day, hoping to reach the object of his yearning. He speaks to Him with the tongue of yearning, declaring what is in his innermost being. This is as Allah said of Moses when he met his Lord:

I hastened to thee, my Lord, that Thou mightest be pleased. (20:84)

The Holy Prophet explained his state as follows: 'He neither ate, drank, slept nor desired any of that in his coming or going for forty days, out of his yearning for his Lord.'

When you enter the arena of yearning, then say takbir for yourself and your desires in this world. Bid farewell to all familiar things, and turn from all except the One you desire most. Say the word Labbayk ('At Your service') between your life and your death: 'At Your service, O Allah, at Your service!' Then Allah will make your reward great. A person who yearns is like a drowning man: he is only concerned with being saved, and forgets every thing else.


Making Claims

In reality the claim belongs to the prophets, the Imams and the truthful, and a man who makes a claim improperly is like the accursed Iblis. He lays claim to devoutness while in reality he contends with his Lord and opposes His command. Whoever makes such claims reveals his lie, and the liar is not trustworthy; whoever claims what is not lawful for him has the gates of affliction opened for him. Anyone who makes a claim will doubtless be asked for clear proof, upon which he is shown to be bankrupt and disgraced. The truthful person is not asked the reason for his actions; as 'Ali said, 'No one sees a truthful person without being in awe of him.'


Taking Heed

The Messenger of Allah said, 'He who learns his lessons in this world lives in it like a man asleep: he sees it but does not touch it. Abhorrence is increased in his heart and in his self by the behaviour of those who are deceived by this world, which can only bring the reckoning and punishment. He exchanges that world for what will bring him near to Allah's pleasure and pardon. He washes himself free of those things to which the world invites him, and of its worldly adornments, with the water of the world's extinction.
Taking heed brings three things to the person who does so: knowledge of what he does, acting by what he knows, and knowledge of what he does not know. The root of taking heed lies in one's fear of its outcome, when he sees that he has fully realized abstinence at the beginning. Taking heed is only successful for those who have purity and insight.

Allah said,

Take a lesson, O you who have eyes! (59:2)

and again,

For surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts which are in the breasts. (22:46)

When Allah opens the eye of someone's heart and insight by means of consideration, then He has given him a high station and an immense fortune.


If a man of contentedness were to swear that he would eventually be in charge of his two abodes, Allah would confirm him in that, realizing his hope through the immensity of his contentment. How can Allah's servant not be content with what He has allotted him when He says,

We distribute among them their livelihood between them in the life of this world. (43:32)

Whoever yields to Allah, and is not heedless in affirming Him in what He wishes and whenever He wishes, whoever has certainty of His lordship ascribes of necessity the allotment of each man's provision directly to Himself, and does not recognize the reality of causes. Whoever is content with what is allotted is relieved of care, grief and fatigue. Whenever he decreases in contentment, he increases in desire. Greed for this world is the root of every evil; the person who has it is not saved from the Fire unless he repents.

That is why the Holy Prophet said, 'Contentment is a kingdom which does not vanish.' It is the ship of Allah's pleasure, bearing whoever is on board it to His House. Have excellent trust in what you have not been given, and pleasure in what you have been given. Be patient in what befalls you, for this indeed is one of the greatest tasks.

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