Features Expressing Distinctive Behavior
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The second class of the features that are supposed to be enjoyed by those playing the role of excellent examples in the society is the features that express distinctive behavior in social relations. We have already cited a number of these many features in the current discussion, because they have had connections with topics like modesty, chastity, forbearance, amnesty, lenience, and suppression of rage.
Let us now refer to another set of features that hold special significance in social relations and play the role of excellent exemplars in these relations; namely, patience, asceticism, pudency, fulfillment of trusts, satisfaction, abstinence from forbidden acts, and straightforwardness in action.
In his social activities and relations with others, man may be exposed to problems, complications, ordeals, pangs, tribulations and tests due to which he is always in urgent need for energy and power in order to overcome all these difficulties, pass the examinations successfully, and undergo these pressures. This energy is no more than patience, steadfastness, and sedulity. In the Holy Qur'an, there are many verses confirming, praising, and commending patience as well as counting the recompense and rewards that Almighty Allah has decided for the patient, the steadfast, and the sedulous.
The most effective of all traditions that commend patience is one that is reported by Shaykh al-Kulayni, in his book of al-Kafi, Section: Patience. This tradition gathers both Qur'anic verses and Prophetic maxims: Hafs ibn Ghiyath has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as addressing him with the following words: O Hafs, whoever perseveres will in fact persevere for a short while¯1 and whoever breaks down will also break down for a short while. You must thus abide by perseverance in all of your affairs. Verily, Almighty Allah has sent Muhammad (S) (as His messenger) and ordered him to be patient and lenient. He thus says, “Bear patiently what they say and avoid them with a becoming avoidance. Leave Me to deal with the rejecters, the lords of ease and plenty. (73:10-11)”
He also says, “Repel evil with what is best, when lo! He between you and whom was enmity would be as if he were a warm friend. None is made to receive it but those who are patient and none is made to receive it but those who have a mighty good fortune. (41:34-35)”
So, the Holy Prophet (S) kept on dealing with them patiently until they forged unbearable things against him and accused him falsely of these things; therefore, he was distressed at what they had forged against him. As a result, Almighty Allah revealed to him the following: “Surely, We know that your breast straitens at what they say! Therefore, celebrate the praise of your Lord and be of those who make obeisance. (15:97-98)”
They then belied and accused him of fabrications that he felt sad for that. So, Almighty Allah revealed to him the following: “We know indeed that what they say certainly grieves you, but surely they do not call you a liar, but the unjust deny the communications of Allah. Certainly, messengers before you were rejected, but they were patient on being rejected and persecuted until Our help came to them. (6:33-34)”
Although the Holy Prophet (S) committed himself to patience, they transgressed all limits when they began to speak irreverently of Almighty Allah and belied Him. So, the Holy Prophet (S) said, “I have borne patiently what they said about myself, my family, and my honor, but I cannot stand anymore what they are speaking profanely of my Lord.” So, Almighty Allah revealed the following: “Bear patiently what they say. (73:10)” So, the Holy Prophet (S) remained patient under all conditions.
Then, Almighty Allah gave him the good tidings of the Imams being from his offspring and ascribed perseverance to them, saying, “We made of them Imams to guide by Our command when they were patient and they were certain of Our communications. (32:24)” Only then, the Holy Prophet (S) declared, “The position of patience to faith is as same as the position of the head to the body.”
For this situation, Almighty Allah thanked His Prophet and revealed to him the following: “The good word of your Lord was fulfilled in the children of Israel because they bore up (sufferings) patiently and We utterly destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had wrought and what they built. (7:137)” The Holy Prophet (S) understood the good tidings and the punishment of Almighty Allah mentioned in this verse.
Then, Almighty Allah allowed him to fight against the polytheists, saying, “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. (9:5)” “Kill them wherever you find them. (2:191)”
So, Almighty Allah slew them at the hands of His Messenger (S) and those who love Him. He also kept for His Messenger (S) the reward of patience along with what He has already kept for him in the Hereafter. Succinctly, whoever draws on patience will never depart this world before Almighty Allah delights him concerning his enemies not to mention what He has stored for him in the Hereafter.2
Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn has reported that Imam ‘Ali (‘a), in his instructive will to his son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, said: Throw away from yourself the coming distresses through the determinations of patience. Accustom yourself to patience, for it is the most excellent trait, and acclimatize yourself to bearing patiently the horrors and distresses of this worldly life that inflict you.¯3
Abu-Basir is reported to have quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: I heard Abu-Ja’far (i.e. Imam al-Baqir) (‘a) saying: I am training myself to endure the harm of my servants or wife, tasting a flavor that is bitterer than colocynth. Verily, one who behaves patiently will be awarded the rank of fasting people who spend nights in acts of worship and the rank of martyrs who fought the enemies defending the Holy Prophet(S).¯4
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have said: We are patient indeed, and our Shi’ah are more patient than we are.
The reported asked, “How come your Shi’ah are more patient than you are?”
The Imam (‘a) answered, This is so because we bear patiently matters with which we have full acquaintance, while our Shi’ah bear matters that they do not know.¯5
Asceticism; Abstinence from Lawful Worldly Pleasures
In his lifetime and subsistence, as well as social relations, man may be exposed to the pressures of whims and the various worldly desires and appetencies. This matter may confuse the entire movement of one who intends to respond to all these desires and epidemics. He is therefore in urgent need for an objective view to this world and whatever therein so that he becomes competent enough to deal with all these things rationally by using his reason, interest, and whatever leads him eventually to true perfection.
Abstinence from lawful worldly pleasures implies acquaintance with the reality of this world and its position in man’s life, as well as the true factual view about it. From this cause, we can notice the Holy Qur'an inspiring abstinence from worldly pleasures by saying: Know you all that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting, and multiplying in rivalry among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: How rain and the growth, which it brings forth delight the hearts of the tillers; soon it withers; you will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. However, in the Hereafter is a penalty severe for the devotees of wrong, and forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure for the devotees of Allah. And what is the life of this world but goods and chattels of deception.
Be you foremost in seeking forgiveness from your Lord and a garden of Bliss the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers. That is the grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom he pleases. And Allah is the Lord of grace abounding. No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence. That is truly easy for Allah. In order that you may not despair over matters that pass you by nor exult over favors bestowed upon you. For Allah loves not any vainglorious boaster. (57:20-23)
In the blessed heritage of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), there are many traditions confirming this trend and explaining it within the line of conduct that is supposed to be adopted by those playing the role of excellent exemplars in society.
Muhammad ibn Yahya has reported on the authority of al-Haytham ibn Waqid al-Hariri that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: For those who abstain from pursuing worldly pleasures, Almighty Allah will fix wisdom in their hearts, make it glide on their tongues, show them the malady and remedy of the worldly defects, and move them from this world to the Abode of Peace safe and sound.6
Hafs ibn Ghiyath is reported to have heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: The entire goodness has been put in a house the key of which is abstinence from worldly pleasures. The Holy Prophet (S) has said, “No man can find the true sweetness of faith in his heart before he stops caring for who should hold the world.” Your hearts are forbidden to taste the sweetness of faith before you abstain from worldly pleasures.¯7
Abu-Hamzah is reported to have quoted Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying: The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) has said, “Abstinence from worldly pleasures is the most helpful of all traits in attaining religiousness.”¯8
‘Ali ibn Hashim ibn al-Burayd has reported on the authority of his father that someone asked (Imam) ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) to define asceticism.
The Imam (‘a) said: Asceticism is of ten ranks the highest of which is the lowest rank of piety and the highest rank of piety is the lowest rank of conviction (i.e. full faith in Almighty Allah). The highest rank of conviction is the lowest rank of satisfaction. Asceticism has been explained in a verse of the Holy Qur'an that reads, “In order that you may not despair over matters that pass you by nor exult over favors bestowed upon you. (57:23)”¯9
Jamil ibn Darraj reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) to have narrated the following story: One day, the Messenger of Allah (S) passed by a dead young goat whose ears had been cut and which was thrown on a dunghill. Upon seeing this dead goat, the Holy Prophet (S) asked his companions, “What is the value of this dead animal?” They answered, “If it was alive, it would not be worth more than one Dirham!”
The Holy Prophet (S) commented, “I swear by Him Who grasps my soul in His Hand: the world is more inferior in the sight of Almighty Allah than this dead goat in the sight of its owner.”¯10
Al-Zuhri, Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shihab, has reported that when Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) was asked to identify the best act in the view of Almighty Allah, he answered, After recognition of Almighty Allah and His Messenger (S), no other act is better than hating this world. There are various forms of hating this world and there are various types of acts of disobedience to Almighty Allah. The first act of disobedience to Almighty Allah was self-conceit, which was committed by Satan who refused and was haughty and, so, became one of the unbelievers. The second act of disobedience was greed, which was committed by Adam and Eve¯11 when Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, said to them, “Enjoy its good things as you wish, but approach not this tree, or you run into harm and transgression.” Although they did not need the fruit of that tree, they ate it and this greed remained with their offspring until the Day of Resurrection.
In this manner, the children of Adam (i.e. human beings) always seek things that they do not need. The third act of disobedience was envy, which was committed by Adam’s son when he killed his brother out of envy. Several things were derived from envy: love for women, love for this world, love for supremacy, love for comfort, love for speech, love for headship, and wealth. These are seven characteristics all of which are gathered in the love for this world. Having recognized this fact, the Prophets and men of wisdom all said, “The love for this world is the root of all sins. This world is of two types: the world that is a means of our delivery to the Hereafter, and the damned world.”12
Satisfaction occupies an aspect in the psychological background of those who train themselves to abstain from worldly pleasures. They therefore become capable mentally and spiritually of hold back their personal whims and desires. In view of that, man is required to discipline himself on being marked by this feature.
The Holy Qur'an has put stress on this feature on many occasions, such as the following verses: Let not their wealth nor their sons dazzle you. (9:55)
Do not strain your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of this world, through which We test them. (20:131)
The reported heritage of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) is also full of confirmations on this distinctive feature in man’s behavior.
Ahmad ibn Abi-’Abdullah has reported on the authority of ‘Amr ibn Abi’l-Miqdam that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: It is written in the Torah: O son of Adam, be as you wish to be. As you subjugate, you will be subjugated. He who satisfies himself with little sustenance from Allah, Allah shall accept from him his little deed. He who satisfies himself with legally gotten sustenance, his burden will be light, his earning will be multiplied, and he will give off the limit of sinfulness.¯13
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have said: He who satisfies himself with whatever sustenance given to him by Almighty Allah is verily the wealthiest of all people.14
Hamzah ibn Harran has narrated that a man complained to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) that he could not satisfy himself with the earnings he was gaining, because he had a desire for gaining more and more. He therefore asked the Imam (‘a) for an advantageous solution.
The Imam (‘a) thus said to him, If that which is sufficient to you satisfies you, then you will be satisfied by the least of the worldly gains, but if that which is sufficient to you never satisfies you, then all the gains of this world will never satisfy you.¯15
Refraining from Forbidden Acts
Refraining from the forbidden acts is considered the other aspect of the psychological background of abstinence from worldly pleasures and whims. To refrain from violating the prohibitions of Almighty Allah makes it obligatory upon man to choose from the worldly affairs only those which have been deemed lawful by Almighty Allah Who says in this regard: Say, “Who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of Allah, which He has produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, which He has provided for sustenance?” Say, “They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, and purely for them on the Day of Judgment.” Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand. (7:32)
Likewise, to practice refraining from the forbidden acts imposes upon man to avoid all atrocities, sins, filth, and falsities. After believing and putting full trust in Him, Almighty Allah has preceded this feature to all others, saying: Those who avoid the greater crimes and shameful deeds, and, when they are angry, even then forgive. (42:37)
Comporting with the Holy Qur'an, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have given much emphasis to the significance of and the role played by refraining from forbidden acts in the social relations. In this respect, ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim has reported on the authority of ‘Amr ibn Sa’id ibn Hilal al-Thaqafi that he said to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), “I cannot meet you except once in many years; therefore, please teach me something which I should adopt.” The Imam (‘a) said: I advise you to fear Almighty Allah, refrain from forbidden acts, and work diligently. Be it known to you that diligence without refraining from forbidden acts is worthless.¯16
Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘a) is reported to have said that he very frequently heard his father saying: He, about whose devoutness even women that are confined to their houses do not speak, is not regarded as one of our Shi’ah (i.e. partisans). He, who lives in a village of ten thousand persons among whom there is an individual more devout than he is, is not regarded as one of our loyalists.17
Hannan ibn Sadir has reported that Abu’l-Sabbah al-Kinani said to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), “Great is the extent of harassment we are suffering from people because of you!”
The Imam (‘a) asked, “What kind of harassment are you encountering from people?”
Al-Kinani said, “Whenever we dispute with someone, he immediately gibes at us, saying, ‘You are a malicious Ja’farite!’”
The Imam (‘a) said, “So, people are gibing at you because of me!”
Al-Kinani answered, “Yes, they are.”
The Imam (‘a) said: By Allah I swear, too little are those who follow Ja’far amongst you! My followers are only those who show intense piety, dedicate their deeds to their Creator, and desire His rewards. These are exclusively my followers.¯18
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is 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 against what Allah has prohibited to gaze.¯19
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Within the confidential talks of Allah, the Almighty and Majestic, with (Prophet) Moses (‘a) are the following words: “O Moses, no means used by those who seek nearness to Me has ever been better than refraining from My prohibitions. As a result, I will allow them exclusively to the Paradisiacal gardens of perpetual abode.¯20
Modesty is a high moral and psychological standard that prevents from rushing towards lusts and from being under the drift of passions. It also grants intellects an opportunity to hold sway over the line of conduct and to choose the best. From this cause, the importance of this feature has been confirmed in man generally and in women particularly with regard to the fact that women’s lusts are more irrepressible than men’s are. Modesty alone can control such lusts. Through a valid chain of authority, Shaykh al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, has reported Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as saying: Almighty Allah has created lust in ten parts nine of which were put in women while only one part in men. Had it not been for the modesty that Almighty Allah has put in women according to the amount of their lusts, every nine women would have been passionately attached to one man.¯21
This is why the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have considered modesty to be inseparable part of faith; therefore, without modesty, there is no faith.
Through a valid chain of authority, Shaykh al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: Modesty is part of faith, and faith leads to Paradise.¯22
Mu’adh ibn Kathir is reported to have quoted Imam al-Baqir or Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: Modesty and faith are tied with the same rope; therefore, if one of them goes, the other will follow it.¯23
Ahmad ibn ‘Abdullah has reported one the authority of one of our companions that one of the Holy Imams (‘a) quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Modesty is of two categories; Modesty of reason and modesty of idiocy. The modesty of reason stands for knowledge, while the modesty of idiocy stands for ignorance.¯24
1. - The Holy Imam (‘a) means that one who takes patience will take patience for a little time, because he either takes patience for his whole age, which is relatively little (if compared to the other life, which is the reward of his patience) or for the time of the tribulation, which is also little.
2. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:88-89, H. 3; Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:207, H. 1 (as quoted from the earlier reference book).
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:208, H. 3.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:209, H. 5.
5. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:93, H. 25.
6. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:128, H. 1.
7. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:128, H. 2.
8. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:128, H. 3.
9. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:128, H. 4.
10. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:128, H. 9.
11. - In the faith of the Imamiyyah Shi’ah, warning Prophet Adam against eating from that tree was in the form of leading him to more integrity and more guidance. Hence, Prophet Adam’s breaking of this warning being expressed as act of disobedience is just metaphorical, not literal.
12. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:130, H. 11.
13. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:138, H. 4.
14. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:139, H. 9.
15. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:139, H. 10.
16. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:76, H. 1.
17. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:79, H. 15.
18. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:77, H. 6.
19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:200, S. 23, H. 1.
20. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:80, H. 3.
21. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 5:338, H. 1.
22. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:106, H. 1.
23. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:106, H. 4.
24. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:106, H. 6.