Anecdotes of Pious Persons
By: Allama Husayn Ansariyan
Ibn Sereen and interpreting dreams
His name was Muhammad bin Sereen al-Basri. He had an extraordinary power of interpreting dreams and visions. He was surprising in applying dreams to the realities of people. He made use in interpreting dreams of the holy Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions.
Once someone asked him, “What is the interpretation of seeing the azan in sleep?” He said, “It means going to perform the hajj.” another one asked him about the same thing but he said to him, “You have stolen something from someone.” When he was asked about the reason behind this difference between these two interpretations although the dreams were the same, he said, “The mien of the first man shows that he is pious and so I interpreted his dream according to this Qur’anic verse “And proclaim among people the Pilgrimage” (22:27) but as or the other man I did not see that in his mien so I interpreted his dream according to this verse, “Then a crier cried out: O caravan! you are most surely thieves!” Qur'an, 12:70
It has been narrated that ibn Sereen was a draper and he was handsome. Some woman loved him and one day she sent for him to buy some cloths from him. When he came into her house, she closed the doors and tempted him to sleep with her but he resisted and said, “Allah forbid!” He began dispraising adultery but it did not benefit him. He went to the water-closet and stained himself with excrement. When she saw him in this ugly state, she averted from him and drove him out of her house. It has been said that after thisevent ibn Sereen had been granted this knowledge18.
Divine wealth and abundant knowledge
The great jurisprudent and famous pious scholar hojjatol Islam ash-Shafti-known as as-Sayyid-at the beginning of his study lived in Najaf. He lived in poverty and difficult conditions. He often had nothing to eat and his residing in Najaf became very difficult and hard to him. He could not continue his study there and then he emigrated to the hawza of Isfahan which was full of Shia Ulama at those days. But he remained in his poverty and difficulty of living.
One day Alittle money came to him from someone. He went to the market to buy some food for himself and his family. He thought to satisfy his and his family’s hunger with cheap food. He came to a butcher and bought a sheep liver. He was too happy and delighted when he went back home with this food. On his way home he passed by some ruins and he saw a weak bitch lying on the ground and around it there were some puppies sticking to its abdomen trying to suckle milk but uselessly for there was no milk in the breasts of that weak and hungry bitch.
He stopped near the ruins looking at the sleeping bitch and the weeping puppies. He and his family were hungry and in need of this food but he paid no attention to his desire and he gave all what he had bought from the butcher to the bitch. He fed it until it became satiated. The bitch waved its tail and raised its eyes towards the heaven as if it prayed Allah in its special world to reward this man and endow him with more and more.
As-Sayyid ash-Shafti says, “Before no long after thisevent a great amount of money came to me from the village of Shaft and it was said to me that one of the wealthy men had given his monies to a merchant to trade with them and had recommended him to give the profits of these monies to as-Sayyid ash-Shafti and then he had recommended in his will that after his death all his monies and their profits should be given to as-Sayid to spend the profits on himself and to spend the capital in certain ways.
Sayyid ash-Shafti began trading with that money and he bought lands and properties with the profits. He spent the profits of the trade and the properties on the poor and needy people. He paid some as salaries to the students of religious studies and some to solve the problems of people. He built a great mosque which is nowadays one of the famous mosques in Isfahan. It is called the mosque of as-Sayyid beside which there is the tomb of Sayyid ash-Shafti.
Waking of the young man
A man from the Ansar has narrated, “While the Prophet (S) was sitting under the shadow of a tree on a very hot day, a young man came, put off his cloths and began rolling on the hot ground of the desert burning his back onetime, his abdomen onetime and his forehead other time while saying, “O myself, taste this for what Allah has is greater than what I have done to you!”
The Prophet (S) was looking at him. Then the young man put on his cloths and wanted to leave. The Prophet (S) made a sign to him with his hand and called him to come. He asked him, “O slave of Allah, I saw you do something that I have never seen anyone do before. What made you do that?”
The man said, “What made me do that was fear of Allah.”
The Prophet (S) said to him, “You have feared your Lord as He deserves. Your Lord will be proud with you before the inhabitants of the heaven.” The Prophet (S) said to his companions, “O people, approach the man to pray Allah for you.” They came near him and he prayed Allah by saying, “O Allah, unite us to get her on guidance, make piety be our provision and paradise our residence.”
The young worshipper
It is narrated that Imam Abu Ja’far as-Sadiq (as) has said, “Once a prostitute came out before some Jewish youths and they became fascinated by her. Some of them said, “If that worshipper saw her, he would be fascinated by her!” When she heard what they said, she said to herself, “By Allah, I will not go home unless I fascinate him.” In the night, she went to the house of that worshipper and asked him to let her come in. He refused. She said to him, “Some Israelite young men tried to seduce me. Please, let me come in; otherwise they will follow after me.” When he heard her saying that, he allowed her to come in. When she came in, she put off her cloths. When he saw her beauty, he was moved. He embraced her but he turned back to himself. He went to the Hearth in which he had set fire under a pot. He put his hand in the fire. The woman asked him why he did so. He said, “I burn it because it has committed as in.” The prostitute went out to some Israelites and said to them, “Hurry up to that man! He has put his hand in the fire.” When they went to him, they found that his hand had burnt19.”
Saint Pouria and his jihad against desires
There was a pious man called Pouria the Saint. He was a strong and powerful man. He was famous at his time for defeating all the wrestlers and strongmen. When this man arrived at Isfahan, he wrestled with all the wrestlers of Isfahan and could defeat them all. He asked the wrestlers of that city to seal on his forearm with the seal of championship and to give him the belt of championship. They all accepted except the chief of the wrestlers who had not wrestled with Pouria yet. He said, “First I must wrestle with Pouria. If he can defeat me and put my back on the ground, then I will seal and sign.”
It was determined that wrestling between these two champions would be on Friday in the square of Aali Qabu so that people could watch this unique match. Thursday in the night, Pouria saw an old woman distributing sweets among people and asking them to pray Allah to respond to her need.
Pouria asked her, “What is your need?” She said, “My son is the head of the cha mpions in this city and it has been determined that he should wrestle with a man called Pouria the saint tomorrow. My son this is the source of my and my children’s livelihood besides that he helps the relatives too and I fear if that champion defeats him, his salary will be stopped and then we will face a difficult life.”
Pouria the saint intended to let himself fall down to the ground instead of defeating that champion who was well-known in Isfahan. He determined to do that. When the time of the match came, and the two wrestlers met each other, Pouria found that he could defeat his opponent and could throw him down to the ground with one blow but he pretended to continue the match and then he bowed and fell down. He let his competitord efeat him in order not to cause their livelihood to stop besides that he would delight that old woman that Allah might have mercy on him in return.
His name has been fixed in the history of the heroes as a generous and magnanimous man. Nowadays his tomb stands as a shrine visited by people of knowledge and faith in the city of Geelan (north Iran).
The persons, who have resisted their fancies and desires and reached, because of that, high positions among people and exalted ranks near Allah, are too many throughout history. The holy Qur’an has mentioned many names of such people and many others have been mentioned in the honorable traditions and books of history. They are so many that if we want to mention them all, we have to write many volumes in this concern.
There are many traditions concerning the matter of resisting one’s impermissible fancies and desires narrated from the Prophet (S) and the infallible Imams (as). It would be better to mention some of them here.
Imam al-Baqir (as) has said, “Allah the Almighty has said, “By My glory, loftiness, greatness and exaltedness, no believer prefers My tendency in anything of the affairs of the worldly life to his tendency, unless I make his wealth in his self and his determination in his afterlife and I make the heavens and the earth assure his livelihood and I will be the assistant for him in everything20.”
Imam as-Sadiq (as) has said, “On the day of resurrection a group of people will come to the gate of paradise. They will knock at it and it will be said to them, “Who are you?” They will say, “We are the people of patience.” It will be said to them, “What you have been patient with?” They will say, “We have been patient with the obedience of Allah and patient when refraining from sins.” Allah will say, “They are true. Let them enter into paradise21.” And this is the meaning of the saying of Allah the Almighty: “Verily the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure.” Qur'an, 39:10
Ameerul Mo’mineen (as) has said, “Blessed is he who keeps to his house, eats his food, busies obeying his Lord and cries for his sins and so he will be busy with himself and the people will be in peace from him22.”
Ya’qoob bin Shu’ayb narrated that he had heard Imam as-Sadiq (as) saying, “Allah does not move a slave from the lowness of disobedience to the honor of piety unless He will enrich him without money, honor him without a tribe and delight him without a friend23.”
The Prophet (S) has said, “Whoever his eyes shed tears for fear of Allah, Allah will reward him for every tear with a palace in paradise crowned with pearls and having jewels that no one has ever seen or heard about its like or has ever come to the mind of any human being24.”
Imam as-Sadiq (as) has also said, “Every eye will cry on the day of resurrection except three; an eye that has been lowered not to look at what Allah has prohibited, an eye that stays a wake at night worshipping Allah and an eye that cries in the Heart of night for fear of Allah25.”
The Prophet (S) has also said, “Giving charity increases one’s wealth. Give charity so that Allah may have mercy on you! Humbleness increases one’s sublimity. Be humble so that Allah may exalt you. Pardoning increases one’s honor. Pardon others so that Allah may honor you26.”
Ameerul Mo’mineen (as) has said, “Whoever does justice toothers against himself Allah glorifies him27.”
The Prophet (S) has said, “Blessed is he whose manners are good, whose nature is pure, whose inward is clear, whose outward is fine, who spends the excess of his money (on the poor, needy and for the sake of Allah), who says no nonsense and who does justice toothers against himself28.”
Thus we notice that the traditions mentioned above confirm important facts showing: preferring the afterlife to the worldly life, being patient with worshipping, refraining from sins, being satisfied with permissible livelihood, being busy worshipping Allah, crying because of committing sins, caring for oneself and keeping the others in peace, being pious, crying in the Heart of night out of fearing Allah, lowering one’s sight not to look at what Allah has prohibited, spending night in worshipping, giving charity for the sake of Allah, being humble, pardoning and forgiving others, being just to the otherseven against oneself, having good morals and manners, having pure inward and accepted outward, spending additional money in the way of good, keeping silent and refraining from nonsense.
These things, if they are followed and a pplied in the real field of individual and social life, are considered as one of the most important factors of resisting one’s fancies and desires and without these things one cannot defeatevil fancies and desires at all. One, who resists the satanic desires concerning the material affairs of this life and struggles against fancies and lusts in order to achieve the ideals and virtues, will definitely gain abundant profits as Allah, His Prophets and the infallible Imams (as) have promised.
18. Safeenatul Bihar, vol.4 p.352 (new edition).
19. Biharul Anwar, vol. 70 p.387.
20. Al-Kafi, vol. 2 p.111.
21. Biharul Anwar, vol. 67 p.101.
22. Biharul Anwar, vol. 67 p.111.
23. Al-Kafi, vol.2 p.61.
24. Wassa’il ash-Shia, vol. 15 p.223.
25. Al-Kafi, vol.2 p.350.
26. Al-Kafi, vol.2, p.100.
27. Wassa’il ash-Shia, vol. 15 p.283.
28. Al-Kafi, vol.2 p.116.