Passivity and Control over Emotions
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
It is noticeable that whenever Islam discusses the topic of the praiseworthy qualities that man must enjoy or the characteristics due to which one can be a true faithful believer, it lays much stress on qualities appertaining to the psychological aspect—emotions and passivity.
In this regard, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: A faithful believer is required to enjoy eight characteristics: he should be venerable in various situations, steadfast in misfortunes, thankful in luxury, satisfied with whatever sustenance Almighty Allah has determined for him; he should not oppress his enemies or overtax his associates, and he should tax his body and make people feel at ease because of him. Knowledge is the comrade of the faithful believer, clemency his supporter, patience the commander of his army, lenience his brother, and charity his father.1
The Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: The features of faithfulness are complete for those who enjoy three characteristics: if they are pleased, their pleasure does not lead them to do wrong; if they are displeased, their displeasure does not cause them to relinquish that which is right; and if they have power over others, their power does not lead them to seize what is not theirs.¯2
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: May I introduce those who are the most closely related of all of you to me?....They are the most mannerly of all of you, the most tractable, the most pious to their relatives, the most affectionate to their brethren-in-faith, the most steadfast in accepting the truth, the most suppressive of their rage, the most forgiving, and the fairest whether he is satisfied or furious.¯3
Models of Praiseworthy Qualities
Sedulity in Obedience to Almighty Allah and Steadfastness against Disobedience
Sedulity in obedience to Almighty Allah and steadfastness against disobedience to Him manifest themselves on the top of the list of praiseworthy qualities and righteous deeds.
According to an authentic tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: On the Day of Resurrection, a group of people will stand up and come towards the gate of Paradise. When asked about their identity, they will answer, “We are the people of steadfastness.” “In what fields have you practiced steadfastness?” they will be asked. “We have been sedulous in obedience to Almighty Allah and steadfast against disobedience to Him,” they will answer. Then, Almighty Allah will say, “They are truthful. Allow them to enter Paradise.” This is the explanation of Almighty Allah’s saying, “Only the patient will be paid back their reward in full without measure. (39:10)”¯4
Qualities like chastity of appetite (i.e. abstinence from going after illegally acquired provisions), private parts (i.e. abstinence from unlawful sexual intercourse), and sight (i.e. abstinence from unlawful glances) have been classified as the best acts of worship.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: There is no act of worship more favorable in the view of Almighty Allah than chastity of the appetite and private parts.¯5
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is also reported to have said: All eyes will be weeping on the Day of Resurrection except for three eyes: an eye that spent a night sleeplessly for Allah’s sake, an eye that shed tears in fear of Allah, and an eye that was cast down in order not to gaze upon that which Allah has prohibited.¯6
The quality of forbearance, which can be defined as pardoning and closing one’s eyes to flaws of others in situations of rage although there is power to punish, is considered one of the conditions on which the acceptance of one’s devotional acts are contingent. In other words, one cannot be regarded as true worshipper unless one is characterized by forbearance, which is also the best support in one’s social movement and relations with others.
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah has reported that he heard Imam al-Ridha (‘a) saying: Man cannot be a true worshipper unless he becomes forbearing. Among the Children of Israel, a man who devoted his entire life to worshipping Almighty Allah would not be considered a true worshipper unless he had stopped talking for ten years.¯7
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have quoted Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) as saying: I admire men who control themselves in situations of rage.¯8
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Almighty Allah has never bestowed honor to anyone due to impatience and has never humiliated anyone because of forbearance.¯9
Clemency, which signifies gentleness or mildness in the exercise of authority or power as the opposite of violence and coarseness, has been encouraged by Islam, because it plays a significant role in the various fields of man’s life.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Clemency is a blessing while harshness is an evil omen.¯10
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Clemency is an embellishment for everything, and its lack, ruins everything.¯11
Hisham ibn Ahmar has reported that when he engaged himself in a dispute with someone belonging to the other sect, Imam al-Ridha (‘a) advised him saying: Treat them with clemency, because the word of disbelief is in most cases said when one is enraged. Worthless is he who utters the word of disbelief when enraged.¯12
Defined as decorum in manners and conduct, modesty elevates man and raises him to the highest rank. For this reason, Islam has added modesty to the list of righteous qualities.
Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Ammar has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: In the heavens, there are two angels commissioned by Almighty Allah to watch over His servants’ conduct; therefore, they will raise him who behaves modestly for the sake of Almighty Allah, but they will put down him who acts arrogantly.¯13
In the sense of traditions, modesty is defined as follows: Modesty is to give people whatever you wish to receive from them.¯14
Modesty is of different ranks one of which is that one should know the actual value of oneself and then place it where it should be with sound heart. Therefore, one should never like for others that which one does not like for oneself. If he receives an evil act, he must repel it with a kind act. He must also suppress his anger and forgive others, for Allah loves those who do good to others.¯15
Modesty is to content yourself to sit in a place less than your actual position, to greet whomever you meet, to avoid disputation even if you are right, and to dislike for yourself to be praised for your piety.¯16
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have narrated the following: Al-Najashi, the Abyssinian king, summoned Ja’far ibn Abi-Talib and his companions and they responded to his summon. When they visited him, they found him sitting on the bare ground wearing ragged clothes. Seeing this scene, Ja’far and his companions felt great pity for the king that the colors of their faces changed. When the king noticed their surprise, he said to them, “All praise is due to Allah Who has given victory to Muhammad and delighted him. May I convey to you this glad news?” “Yes, king!” answered Ja’far, “You may.” The king then said, “A few minutes ago, one of my spies in your country came to me and informed me that Almighty Allah had given victory to His Prophet, Muhammad, and annihilated his enemies. Moreover, some personalities had been taken as prisoners. The two armies met in a shrubby vale called Badr. I know this place very well, because I used to shepherd my master’s sheep there, who was a man from the tribe of Amarah.”
Ja’far then asked the king, “Why are you sitting on the bare ground and wearing such ragged clothes?”
The king answered, “Within the revelations of Almighty Allah to Prophet Jesus, we read that one of His servants’ duties towards Him is that whenever Almighty Allah bestows a blessing to one of His servants, that servant must in return show his Lord a sort of modesty. Carrying out this duty, I am showing a sort of modesty because Almighty Allah has favored me with the blessing of giving victory to Muhammad.”
When the Holy Prophet (S) was informed about this incident, he said: “Verily, almsgiving increases the wealth of its giver abundantly; therefore, give alms so that Almighty Allah will have mercy upon you. Likewise, modesty raises the modest persons’ eminence; therefore, show modesty so that Almighty Allah will raise your eminence. Forgiveness increases the forgivers’ dignity; therefore, forgive people so that Almighty Allah will confer dignity upon you.”¯17
Mu’awiyah ibn Wahab has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Seek knowledge and adorn yourselves with forbearance and solemnity while you do so. Behave humbly towards those whom you teach and behave humbly towards those from whom you receive knowledge. Do not be domineering scholars; otherwise, your right things will be eliminated by your wrong behavior.¯18
Muhammad ibn Sinan has reported the following from one of the Holy Imams (‘a): Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon both of them, said to his disciples, “O assembly of Apostles! I have a request. Fulfill it for me.” They said, “Your request is fulfilled, O Spirit of Allah!” Then he stood up and washed their feet. They said, “It would have been more proper for us to have done this, O Spirit of Allah!” Then he said: Verily, it is more fitting for one endued with knowledge to serve the people. Indeed, I humbled myself so that you may humble yourselves before the people after me, even as I have humbled myself among you… Wisdom increases with humility, not by pride, and likewise plants grow in only soft soil, not in stone.¯19
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have narrated the following: One Thursday evening, the Holy Prophet (S) broke his fasting at Qaba Mosque and asked for something to drink. Aws ibn Khawla, one of the Ansar, brought him a mixture of milk and honey. As soon as the Holy Prophet (S) neared it to his mouth, he put it aside and said: This is a mixture of two drinks one of which complements the other. I neither drink it nor avoid drinking it; rather, I humble myself before Almighty Allah, because whoever humbles himself before Almighty Allah He will raise him. Whoever acts arrogantly, Almighty Allah will put him down. Likewise, whoever makes savings in his livelihood, Almighty Allah will provide him with abundant sustenance, but whoever squanders, Almighty Allah will deprive him of sustenance. Whoever mentions death too much, Almighty Allah will love him.¯2¯0
1. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:143, S. 4, H. 9.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:148, S. 4, H. 20.
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:148, S. 4, H. 28.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:186, S. 19, H. 1.
In this very section of the reference book, there are many traditions implying the same idea. It is therefore advisable to refer to them.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:197, S. 22, H. 1.
6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:200, S. 23, H. 1.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:210, S. 26, H. 1.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:210, S. 26, H. 2.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:211, S. 26, H. 7.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:213, S. 27, H. 1.
11. ¯- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:214, S. 27, H. 9.
12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:214, S. 27, H. 12.
13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:215, S. 28, H. 1.
14. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:215, S. 28, H. 5.
15. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:215, S. 28, H. 6.
16. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 12:108, S. 107, H. 4.
17. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:121, H. 1.
18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:219, S. 30, H. 1.
19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:219, S. 30, H. 2.
20. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:219, S. 31, H. 1.