The Firm Support of Will Power
In every task, the will needs a strong support to lean upon. That firm support of will is faith. Faith and will are interdependent. If one were to possess faith without employing will to fulfil it and without making effort, he would never achieve his goals. That is because everyone's success depends on his efforts. The Qur'an says:
[Or has he not been told of what is in the scrolls of Moses, and Abraham] ... that a man shall have to his account nothing but his endeavour? (53:39)
On the contrary, if one were to possess will power without the effective weapon of faith, he would not cease making effort until he reaches a dead end in life. But when he finds that natural factors and causes have frustrated his efforts and he encounters problems and obstacles that cannot be overcome, the fire of hope and confidence begins to die out within his spirit. In such testing conditions nothing except faith in the eternal power of God can rescue one from anxiety and anguish. The person possessing faith and the asset of a firm will relies on God in the toughest of moments and conditions. The light of hope is never extinguished within him and he always seeks assistance from the infinite grace of the Almighty.
God instructs the Noble Messenger of Islam that whenever he were to resolve on accomplishing a task he should pursue his goal single-mindedly with trust in the eternal power of the Almighty.
So when you are resolved, then put your trust in God. (3:159)
In order to weaken the determination of a person in carrying out some task, it is sufficient to weaken his faith in relation to it.
If one were to understand and believe that every effort and endeavour that he makes is affirmed by the Almighty, Who governs the entire order of existence, he would pursue his goal with constancy and perseverance. He would discover the basic source of success and, with such a spirit, he will overcome all obstacles and hardships in the way that he has chosen, as if the obstacles were actually the steps to his upward ascent. Dangers will add to his courage, and failures will multiply his efforts, and whatever the obstacles he would not abandon his path.
A study of history introduces us to persons who have contributed to the advancement and felicity of mankind with their firm determination and high goals. They did not abstain from any kind of effort and struggle meant for the sake of the progress and edification of nations and, in fact, they made their way through hardship and persecution.
Foremost among them are the elect of (God and men of saintly excellence and freedom. The courage, perseverance and invincible will of these individuals, employed in the way of the deliverance of mankind and for the sake of their sacred goal, serve as a sublime and radiant example for mankind in general and their followers in particular. It were these outstanding religious figures who despite the torture and torment faced by them at the hands of their contemporaries are today regarded as holy by the human community.
'Ali, may Peace be upon him, was a perfect example of an undefeatable human being. In one of his precious sermons he declares:
By God, if all the Arabs were to join together in battle against me, I would not withdraw from it. 3
In the sermon addressed to Humam, he says:
O Humam, the spirit of the man of faith is tougher than granite. 4
In the Battle of the Camel, when the forces of those who had broken their allegiance were prepared to confront 'Ali's army, he gave the banner to his son Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah, and taught him the lesson of decisiveness and strengthened his will power with these words:
Even if the mountains were to crumble, you should not tremble. Clench your teeth tightly (so that spirit of determination takes hold of your entire being); pledge your skull with God; and let your feet be nailed into the ground. Cast your sight on the furthest fringes of the enemy and overlook (whatever may be an unpleasant sight), knowing that victory is from God, the Glorious (and our duty is only to pursue our goal resolutely). 5
3. Nahj al-balaghah, ed. Fayd al-Islam, p. 922.
4. Bihar al-anwar, vol. 15, p. 94.
5. Nahj al-balaghah, ed. Fayd al-Islam, p. 53.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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