Pride Over One’s Piety
Source: Ain-al-Hayat, By: Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi
Being proud about ones own piety is a major sin. This pride can make all the prayers and supplications void. If a person understands the Greatness of Allah, then he will not be proud and vain at his exertions at prayer. The endowments of the munificent Allah are so great that it is impossible to count His Blessings.
Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) says, “O Son! Don’t delay in offering your prayers. Nor should you be over-confident of the acceptance of your prayers and feel proud of your efforts at piety. We cannot offer prayers and obedience to Allah commensurate with His Blessings.”
Imam Ar-Ridha’ (as) says that a pious person from Bani Israel offered intense prayers for forty years. Then he offered a sacrifice to Allah that was not accepted. The person was disconsolate with sadness for his failure. He cursed his psyche blaming it for his failure. He received a Revelation that blaming his psyche and accepting the shortcomings pleased Allah more than the prayers spread over the long period of forty years. For this reason Allah accepted his long years of penance.
Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (as) says that two persons entered the mosque. One was pious and the other a transgressor. When they emerged from the mosque after the prayer, the transgressor was pious and the person with piety had turned a transgressor. The reason was that the pious person came out of the mosque with pride at his piety and the transgressor was penitent at his past misdeeds.
For the benefit of the readers, the translator is digressing here with a tale: One day Prophet Musa (as) was passing through a barren hill. He noticed a pious person busy in prayer sitting in a cave of the hill. Prophet Musa (as) felt the urge to meet and talk to the person. He went near and greeted him. The pious person asked disinterestedly, “Who are you?” Prophet Musa (as) said, “I am Musa (as)!”
The person asked, “Are you the prophet Musa (as)?”
Prophet Musa (as) said, “Yes!”
The person said, “Then ask Allah to Grant my wish!”
Prophet Musa (as) asked, “What is it that you want?”
The person said, “Since the last one hundred years I am sitting here praying to Allah. I don’t do anything other than the Prayer. Ask Allah, what He will give me for my efforts?”
Prophet Musa (as) said, “I shall find about it immediately.” He immediately climbed up the hill and called aloud, “O Sustainer Allah! This person wants to know about the reward for his prayers! Tell me, what shall I inform him?”
He heard the sound, “O Musa (as)! Tell him, we shall inform him about his reward tomorrow.”
Prophet Musa (as) went to the person and conveyed the message to him
The pious man said, “It’s fine! Tomorrow is not much of a time!” The pious person was in the habit of going to a nearby canal early every morning for bathing and fetching some water for his use. Therefore, the next morning too he started for the canal but he lost his way and reached somewhere else. Because of the sun’s heat he became very thirsty and tired. He sat on a lonely boulder and started thinking about his death. In that time he found a person coming from the other direction. He waved to the person to come to him. When the person came nigh, he asked him to help him with some water.
The man said, “Where is any water in this wilderness? Whatever little I have is only for me.”
The pious person started crying. The other person said, “Fine! What will you give me if I give you a tumbler of water?”
The pious man said, “I don’t have anything. I have been busy in the cave praying for the last one hundred years.”
The man said, “If you agree to transfer to me the Rewards for your prayers of one hundred years, I shall give you a tumbler of water.”
The pious man thought, if he lived, he could pray for a further period to get the Reward from Allah. He said, I am ready to transfer to you my reward for the hundred years’ of my prayers. The man gave him a tumbler full of water and the pious person returned to his cave.
In the morning Prophet Musa (as) got a Revelation that the pious person transferred his hundred years’ prayers to another person in exchange for a tumbler of water. Ask the man to settle the value of the tumblers of water that he had been drinking during the last hundred years!
Therefore, Prophet Musa (as) went to the cave and told to the person that he had a message for him from Allah.
The man said: O Prophet (S)! I have already sold my hundred years of penance!
Prophet Musa (as) said, “Yes! I know. But Allah has said that when the value of one hundred years of prayer is one tumbler of water, then he must settle the value of the water he had been drinking over the last hundred years.”
When the pious person heard this, he was shocked and shouted, “O Prophet (S)! Recommend to Allah to forgive my sins! Allah is Beneficent and Merciful!”
Prophet Musa (as) got the Revelation, “Tell the pious person! Your penitence of this moment pleased us more than your prayers of a hundred years and we have given to you rewards for a thousand years of prayers!”