Control over Emotions and Association with People
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The Holy Legislator and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) present some details to express the principle of controlling the emotions, which is a significant article in the Islamic concept of social relations.
The leading entry is the observance of good company and establishment of good relations with one’s companions, friends, and other categories of people with whom one has to deal in social life.
Abu’l-Rabi’ al-Shami has reported that he once visited Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) and found his house suffocated with people of various nationalities, among whom were people from Khurasan, Syria, and other countries. He could not find any place to sit when Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), who was leaning on a pillow said: O Followers of Muhammad’s Household! Let everyone know! Whoever does not control himself in rage, not act kindly towards his companions, not behave courteously with those with whom he deals, not keep good company with those who accompany him, not act kindly towards his neighbors, and not behave warmly towards his partners in a meal, does not belong to us (i.e. the Ahl al-Bayt).¯1
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said:
He who follows the path (of Shi’ism) will never be supported unless he acquires the following three qualities: (1) piety that precludes him from committing acts of disobedience to Almighty Allah, (2) forbearance with which he controls himself whenever he is enraged, and (2) good company with those who accompany him.¯2
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have given some instructions, which actualize good company, if obeyed. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: It is unmanly to divulge what you have faced in your journeys, whether good or bad.3
The Holy Imams (‘a) have also instructed their followers to ask about the conditions of their companions after they leave each other.
Al-Mufadhdhal ibn ‘Umar has reported that he visited Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) after coming back from a journey. “Who accompanied you in your journey?” the Imam asked.
“One of my brethren-in-faith did,” answered al-Mufadhdhal.
“How is he now?” asked the Imam.
“I do not know anything about him since we returned home,” answered al-Mufadhdhal.
The Imam (‘a) then said: You should have known that whoever accompanies a faithful believer for forty steps will be asked about him by Almighty Allah on the Day of Resurrection.¯4
It is highly recommended to ask the person with whom you sit about his name, surname, lineage, and conditions, yet without being curious or causing him embarrassment. Traditions have discommended not asking about these things.
The following tradition that is reported by Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) from the Holy Prophet (S) shows some examples of good company: One day, the Holy Prophet (S) asked his companions, Do know what incompetence is? Incompetence appears in three situations. (1) When one of you does not go to a companion’s home who has invited you and prepared a meal for you. (2) When one of you accompanies or sits with someone but leaves him before knowing who your companion is and where he is from. (3) When one of you approaches his wife and takes the pleasure he wants from her without making sure she also took pleasure from him. You must make proper advances towards your wife and prolong the process of intercourse until you both take pleasure.¯5
According to another tradition, these three acts are also a sign of alienation.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) has quoted his grandfather, the Holy Prophet (S), as saying: Three acts fall under alienation: (1) to accompany someone without asking him about his name and surname, (2) to reject an invitation to a banquet or to respond but refuse to eat, and (3) to copulate with the wife before courting her.¯6
According to a third tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying that to ask one’s companion about his name and identity is an obligatory duty and a sign of true fraternity: If one of you loves his Muslim brother, he must ask him about his name, his father’s name, and his tribe’s name, because this is one of the duties towards one’s brother-in-faith and one of the features of true brotherhood. If you do it not, it will be an association of idiocy.¯7
Laughter and Joking
In his social life, man may come upon laughter-stimulating situations due to joking or exciting scenes. Such being the case, man is required to restrain the emotions aroused by such situations and avoid loud bursts of laughter. In this connection, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported through a valid chain of authority to have said: The source of guffaw is Satan.¯8
The laughter of the faithful believers is the smile.¯9
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: When you guffaw, you may say thereafter, “O Allah, (please) do not detest me.”¯10
Expressions of laughter must also be restrained with respect to reason for laughter. Hence, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: It is inane to laugh for no incentive (to laugh).¯11
The Holy Imams (‘a) have called for repressing laughter and joking, because these two lead to negative social effects not to mention their negative personal effects.
According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said: Beware of joking, because it removes self-respect.
Over-laughter deadens the heart.
Over-laughter melts faith in the same way as water melts salt.¯12
Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) is reported to have said: Beware of poking fun at each other, because it begets rancor and reflects on spite. It is also the minor revilement.¯13
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Do not jest with others; lest, they encroach upon you.¯14
Decorum and Unconstraint in Confidence
Islam teaches abidance of decorum in friendship and association and constraint in conduct while expressing emotions of affection and love. Trusting someone, loving or hating must depend upon logic and observation of the special qualities necessary in a true associate or friend. These instructions do not violate the other instructions of learning about people in general and openness in social relations.
According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Kazim (‘a) has said: Do not thrust out decorum between your friend and you; rather, keep some of it, because absence of decorum leads to absence of diffidence.¯15
About the exegesis of this holy verse: “And you commit evil deeds in your assemblies. 29:29”, Ibn ‘Abbas and Imam al-Ridha (‘a) are reported to have said that these people, who were the people of Sodom and whose Prophet was Lot, used to compete in farting in their assemblies without any decorum or diffidence.¯1¯6
About trusting others blindly, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Do not put absolute trust in your friend, because the blow of absolute confidence is incurable.¯17
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: Love your friend up to a limit, for it is possible that he turns into your enemy someday, and hate your enemy up to a limit, for it is possible that he turns into your friend someday.¯18
Previously in this book, we have come upon the conditions and qualities required for choosing friends and associates. These conditions and qualities are actually regarded as criteria of confidence and reliance.
Disapproval of Contention and Disputation
Another feature of the required control over emotion is to avoid being drifted by feelings of avenging oneself on others in discourses and discussions, because this will eventually turn into contention and disputations against which the Holy Legislator has warned.
According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has quoted Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as saying: Beware of engaging yourselves in contention and disputation, because these two matters sicken your hearts towards your friends and act as fertile sources of hypocrisy.¯19
1. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:402, H. 3.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:402, H. 4.
3. - Khalid al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 2:103; Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:402, H. 6.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:403, H. 8.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:500, H. 1.
6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:501, H. 4.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:501, S. 1, H. 3.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:479, H. 1.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:479, H. 3.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:403, H. 3.
11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:479, S. 82, H. 1.
12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:480-481, H. 1, 2.
13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:482, H. 9.
14. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:482, H. 11.
15. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:501, H. 2.
16. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:503, H. 8 as quoted from Majma’ al-Bayan, a reference book of exegesis of the Holy Qur'an by al-Tabrisi.
17. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:501, H. 1.
18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:502, H. 7.
19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:567, S. 135, H. 1.