Developing the Mental Virtues
By: Muhammad Baqir Qarashi
The Islamic education achieves sufficient potentials in the mental fields that impede from irregularity and deviation, and mature the noble tendencies and the virtuous habits. They also establish a spiritual coherence and perseverance against occurrences and create equanimity that covers all of the mystical horizons in order that man will achieve a unique entity of behaviors, trends, tendencies, and emotions. Thus, any mental aspect will not influence the spiritual, and man will not be enslaved be any capricious or vile inclination. The Islamic mental education drives men to prudent, self-control, and perfect mastery of impulses and trends. We should stop at the aspect of the Islamic mental education.
Using all of its powers, the Islamic education strives for composing the religious deterrent in the depths of the soul, so that this deterrent will overcome the mental motives and hold the leadership and the guidance.
The only protector against deviation and tyranny is the alert conscience that is full of the spirits of belief and conviction. As a matter of fact, the conscience is the greatest deterrent that guards against falling in the holes of vices and forbidden matters. Islam is trying to compose and reform the aware conscience so as to control the lusts, and guide to the bright fields that achieve God’s satisfaction and please the conscience. This is the reason beyond the genuineness of the Islamic education that succeeded in achieving its goals. Some French generals, who have been the rivals of Islam, confessed of the existence of this remarkable phenomenon. They said, “We must not underestimate Islam and Muslims. Surely, Islam is a marvelous belief that has persisted on this globe. We have tried all of the economic, capitalist, and administrative laws, but we failed. The very element in which we have failed was the equality of distribution and monition. In Islam, this monition is not an individual or official duty. It is the fear of God and the maturity of the religious conscience. This is adequately a potential power in Islam. Unfortunately, Muslims do not understand or appreciate their religion, which has been the only element that kept and conserved them. Our mission is precisely eliminating the aspects of this religion by impoverishing them in addition to massacring and depriving them of knowledge and fortune.”
There is a divine gift in each individual’s mentality. Yet, there are numerous effective and sharp satanic tendencies. Each man has a violent incentive and a potent stimulus to the world of the uncounted and uncontrolled lusts. Islam has considered all these things deeply and comprehensively; thus, it used ultimate accuracy in paralyzing the vile activities of impulses for uprooting and delimiting them. It also brightened the noble powers for controlling the spirits. Hence, Islam went on promising the righteous of permanent bounty. The Quran is filled up with magnificent pictures of the rewards and prizes of the pious. God says:
Most surely, the righteous shall be in bliss, on thrones they shall gaze. You will recognize in their faces the brightness of bliss.
Other faces on that day shall be happy, well-pleased because of their striving. In a lofty garden wherein you shall not hear vain talk. Therein is a fountain flowing. Therein are thrones raised high. And drinking-cups ready place, and cushions set in a row, and carpets spread out.
On thrones decorated, reclining on them, facing one another. Round about them shall go youths never altering in age. With goblets and ewers and a cup of pure drink. They shall not be affected with headache thereby, nor shall they get exhausted. And fruits such as they choose. And the flesh of fowl such as they desire. And pure beautiful ones, the like of the hidden pearls. A reward for what they used to do.
Surely, as for those who believe and do good deeds, their place of entertainment shall be the gardens of paradise, abiding therein. They shall not desire removal from them.
Such an abounding reward will release from all of the arts of irregularity and deviation, and support with the great powers of virtue and illumination.
God has also described the horrible punishment that will be cast upon the pursuers of their lusts and impulses. God says:
These are two adversaries who dispute about their Lord. Then as to those garments of fire; boiling water shall be poured over their heads. With it shall be melted what is in their bellies and their skins as well. And for them are whips of iron. Whenever they will desire to go forth from it, form grief, hey shall be turned back into it, and taste the chastisement of burning.
Lay hold on him, then put a chain on him. Then cast him into the burning fire. Then thrust him into a chain the length of which is seventy cubits. Surely, he did not believe in Allah the Great. Nor did he urge the feeding of the poor. Therefore, he has not here today a true friend. Nor any food except refuse, which none but the wrongdoers eat.
Is this better as an entertainment or the tree of Zaqqum? Surely, it is a tree that grows in the bottom of the hell. Its produce is as it were the heads of the serpents. Then most surely they shall eat of it and fill their bellies with it. Then most surely they shall have after it to drink of a mixture prepared in boiling water.
The Quran refers to many horrifying texts that fill in the minds with tense hazard and fear of God’s castigation. Such texts will absolutely establish barriers against disobeying God and perpetrating evil and sinful deeds.
The world of expectancy and fear is the most effective for achieving self-control completely. Through this splendid method, Islam has obtained conscience monition and constituted a controller, which inhibits and impedes the leaps, on the other mental impulses.
Owing to the great concern of Islam in the mental virtues, it has dedicated a specific course leading to personal adhesion and abnormality besides the marks of every honorable tendency and virtuous quality. Herewith, we will refer precisely to some of such virtues.
Ethicists define chastity, as the self-control and equanimity of the inclinations to desires including the bodily, like eating and the like, and the mental, like agitations and emotions. The quality of chastity is applied to those who are moderate in all of these states. This virtue aims at achieving people’s self-restraint away from being the slaves of lusts and inclinations. The reports of the Imams regarding this virtue have been uninterrupted. Imam Ali said, “Chastity is the best of worship.” Imam al-Baqir said, “No worship is preferred to the chastity of the abdomen and the genitals.”
This virtue saves man from a great deal of mental and physical diseases and ill manners, such as gluttony, fornication, greed, squandering, rage, hatred, blabber, and many others.
Chastity pushes man to a general rectitude. It dismisses the quality of overeating that brings about many diseases and causes repetitive visits to clinics. The holy Quran encouraged on adhering to the virtue. God says:
Eat, drink and be not extravagant.
Besides, the extravagant abstinence and avoidance of the good matter that God has deemed lawful are excluded from chastity, which is merely the moderation. God says:
Say: Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions? Say: These are for the believers in the life on this world, purely theirs on the resurrection day.
Chastity requires self-restraint and guardianship against full release of the whole mental lusts, the intemperance of which corrupts the life, enfeebles the spirituality, and leads to failing. Ethicists said, “Lusts are infinite. If time is extended, lusts will surely lead to others and so on. Finally, man will be the captive of endless lusts and the slave of untold caprices. Virtue is not the associate of such men.” Chastity requires man’s full dominion of trends and lusts, and moderation in passions, and temperance in eating and drinking. For instance, man is advised of avoiding excessive grief in cases of calamities.
Means of developing chastity:
Ethicists mention several means leading to chastity. They are:
- Moderation in inclination to lusts
- Avoidance of associating with the evil who exaggerate and decorate the vices
- Acceding to the virtuous and the religious individuals who advance to moralities and warn against evil-doing
- Avoidance of reading erotic books that deconstruct the structures of virtue and perfection, and leaving the places of immoral entertainment
- Using self-control in states of wrath, which is a short-termed insanity.
- Retreating the unwelcomed customs such as arrogance and self-esteem since they lead to excite for any valueless matter because of the illusion of indignity
- Avoidance of thinking in vile and violation because such a thinking is the pioneer of will and work. The prolixity of licentious imaginary and vile misgiving lures on falling in the depths of vices.
- Avoidance of carrying irate and pessimistic thoughts, and agreement with those who disregard this life and disassociate with people
- The exploitation of the legal and acceptable provisions of the mundane affairs
And seek by means of what Allah has given to you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world.
Willpower and self-determination are primary intendments of Islamic mental education. First, Islam has been concerned with establishing a firm will, a constant determination, and a fixed spirit in the minds in order to save from drifting with the trends of occurrences, and challenge the seditious events. Islam has scorned extremely the languid and described them as dead. God says:
You do not make the dead hear, and do not make the deaf hear the call.
Islam bestows man with huge powers of determination and will to protect against the elements of weakness and fear. The Prophet (s) was the true exemplar of willpower and immense determination. He stood in firmness during struggling and resisting for the sake of his principals and goals. He behaved according to the Lord’s instructions, ignoring the problems and catastrophes. One hand was holding fast on the pennon of monotheism, while the other held the axe of destroying and ruining the ideas, customs, and traditions of Jahilism. Meanwhile, he was calling out to man’s dignity and rights. At the same time, all of the powers of polytheism and atheism were standing against him in one hand. He had no single supporter except Abu Talib his uncle --the believer of Quraish and the protector of Islam. The Quraishi chiefs threatened and menaced Abu Talib if the Prophet would not stop his advocacy. The Prophet answered his uncle who carried the chiefs’ words to him, “O uncle! If they position the sun in my right hand and the moon in the left for leading me to leave this advocacy, I will not respond till I perish or God will triumph.”
By such a giant willpower and great determination, the Prophet (s) overcame all of the problems. He demolished the pagans, ended the potentials of polytheism, and blasted the cells of Jahilism, and raised God’s word aloft on the earth and established a new life of firm right and strict justice.
The Prophet fed his companions with this remarkable trend to change their few numbers into mountains of dignity and fortification. They resisted the huge parties and defeated the armies of polytheism. They did never abscond in the battlefields until they conquered the countries and raised the Islamic banner on most of the provinces on this earth.
This handsome will was represented by the higher commander of Islam and the door of the Prophet’s city of knowledge- Imam Ali (a), the champion of the great conquests. He decapitated the polytheists, and overcame and subjected the Jews. He said, “I will never abscond even all of the Arabs collaborated against me.”
This giant willpower is a part of God’s will that rejects subduing, humiliation, slavery, and surrender. This will was visibly manifested by Imam al-Hussein (a)- the Prophet’s grandson and the father of the noble ones. He stood on the land of Kerbala despite the scantiness of supporters, and faced the armies of polytheism and deviation to dictate his will on them. He said, “I will not give you with my hand like the humble, nor will I submit to you like the slaves. I certainly consider death as happiness, and consider living with the wrongdoers as discontent.”
He then walked to the field of death, along with the virtuous men of his household, to deliver the best lessons of willpower, hard belief, and sacrifice for God’s sake to the world entirely.
Man’s value lies in his willpower, without which humanity is lost. A French philosopher says, “Nothing is more sticking to man’s personality than will.”
Willpower influences completely man’s composition and immortality. The weak-willed can never achieve any individual or social aim. Emerson says, “Willpower is the secret of success which is the goal of existence. The willpower of the famous personalities, such as Napoleon, Crenate and Alexander, was the reason beyond their immortality. Other personalities were known of their situations of humiliation because of their hesitation and ill self-determination. It is impossible to participate in the life conflict and expect triumph without the possession of willpower.” It is an aspect of independent personality that contributes in making the human history and ignores impossibility. Napoleon answered, when he was told of the existence of the Alps in his way, “There will not be Alps there.” The worst words Napoleon hated to hear were ‘Impossible’ and ‘I cannot.’
It is worthy mentioning in this regard that Islam has specified willpower and giant self-determination as terms of selecting the rulers. The weak-willed are prevented from managing Muslims’ affairs since they may cause dangers, vanish the prestige of leadership, and cause mutiny and disobedience.
Lack of willpower:
Individuals that lack willpower will surely waste their personalities and their fancies will overcome. They will surely yield to their lusts and fling in lowly fields of vices such as consuming intoxicants, gambling, and committing all of the colors of sins. They will also relinquish to laziness and sloth that result in many problems and calamities.
Maturity of willpower:
Ethicists affirm that the treatment of the lack of willpower is the commitment to hard and arduous works that empower and help in overcoming the difficulties. Within the factors that increase the willpower is the exertion of all efforts. Hence, we should never show any delinquency in any duty that we should act. Islam has also called for this quality. God says:
And if you determine, rely upon God.
As well, considering the deeds of the great men of history is a means of arousing willpower, since those men could not achieve their success and change the history unless they enjoyed a high willpower that incited to do virtues.
Islam has granted each individual the free will that enables in controlling all of the desires and achieving all of the expectations. Islam has banned from obstructing the individual wills except those that are used for sinning and perpetrating illegalities or harming others. Such wills should be interdicted and resisted for the sake of preserving the publics. In our ‘Political system in Islam’, I have referred to this point in detail.
Courage is one of the significant constituents of the conspicuous personality because it provokes on self-control and endurance in states of dangers, and saves against collapsing in calamities. Islam has spared no efforts for seeding this quality in the souls and caring for it in the thorough mental and educational aspects. Thus, it has driven Muslims to the battlefields and the terrains of sacrifice and offertory to the right, for guarding their principals and goals. In the first eras of Islam, Muslims showed no dearth in joining the battles with consonant determination and giant will that qualified them, despite of their little number, to defeat the powers of polytheism. The Islamic history has abounded with the unparalleled championship. Imam Ali (a) cited the most engaging example of courage. None of the ancient and modern history considered a man more courageous and consonant than him. He was the star of the celebrated situations and the distinguished standings in the battles of Badr, Uhud, Ahzab, and Khyber. No single hair of him was terrified by such nauseous situations when he strove for God’s sake consistently and recorded that file of heroism in struggling the atheists in their lands and opposed them openly. He said, “The great numbers of the surrounding people will not increase my fortification, and their dissension will not make me desolate. I will not submit even all of the people let me down.”
Imam Ali’s heroic situations comprised the languages of this world. Thence, he was the founder of the most splendid pictures of courage in the whole world. Imam al-Hussein, being a copy of his father, has elevated in this bright field. He has become the leader of the Islamic liberal and combative movements. He received spears and swords while he was standing like an exalted mountain to deliver to the generations the lessons of dignity, haughtiness, and self-denial. He disregarded those heartbreaking catastrophes that resulted in the massacre of his sons, brothers, and darlings, in addition to the horrible adversities of harsh thirst and the screams of his harem and children. All these tear-jerking distresses did not hinder his striving and struggle. He kept on fighting invariably until he met the Exalted Lord with full endurance. The Imam’s great attitude recorded the greatest triumphs of Islam that remained lively and illuminative to open the paths of struggle for freedom and independence to people.
Aspects of courage:
The most important natural aspects of courage are as follows:
- The preservation of the natural state and equanimity, and the avoidance of hesitation during disputations and exchanging opinions and defending the beliefs
- Overcoming the countering difficulties and taking steps in the path of reforming the faults of people’s lives and beliefs
- Declaring the right and the bravery in the face of the evils for the sake of exalting the wording of the right.
Ethical courage stands for declaring the right bravely. It also stands for the self-denial. Islam has adopted this very meaning in its educational aspects. Muslims are required to express the right under any circumstance. The Prophet said, “Say the truth even if it injures your own personality.” “Care not for any blame in the field of saying the truth.” Within his precepts to Imam al-Hassan his son, Imam Ali says, “Engage in the right wherever it is.” the Prophet (s) warned the nation against concealing the truth before the tyrants and the unjust. He said, “My nation will be vilipended if they fear of declaring the wrong deeds of the unjust.”
Abu Therr al-Ghefari was the most famous in the field of declaring the right and criticizing the evil. Induced by the revelation of the Islamic doctrine, he went on denying the Umayyad policy when they deviated and went astray. He used to threaten Othman and call for revolting against him.
Abu Therr’s call was originated from a heart that cognized Islam thoroughly and understood its goals and factuality. He denied Othman’s policies of acting fraudulently in the nation’s destiny when he usurped its fortune to provide them to the celebrities and the rich individuals while starvation attacked people all over the state. Sayyid Qutb says, “Abu Therr’s call was one of the Islamic thrusts that the corrupt-hearted denied. Presently, the likes of such individuals –such as the packs of the colonialists- are still denying the calls of right. It was a call of arousing the consciences that are uncontrolled by greed in front of the harsh inflation of the riches in a way of classifying Muslims into various categories and demolishing the bases that Islam came for reforming.”
Abu Therr conducted very bravely when he showed his intense denial and indignation on Othman who exiled him to Rabatha where he was deceased due to starvation. Meanwhile, Othman grasped the riches to spend them generously on the Umayyads and the sons of Muit, and withheld from this notable companion, who was likened, by the Prophet, to Jesus (a) in guidance and straightness.
Shiite leaders also possessed such huge amount of bravery and audacity. They did not submit to the persecution and severity of the unjust ruling authorities. They pushed forwardly for exalting God’s word and renouncing corruption and evil. Abdullah bin Afif al-Azdi, the acquaintance of Imam Ali, revolted against Ubeidullah bin Ziad, the tyrant murderer, when the latter addressed a speech after the killing of Imam al-Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson. Before Ubeidullah had finished his speech, the man answered him with words sharper than new swords. He said, “The liar is most surely you and your father, and that who appointed you and his father. O, you slave of the barbarous! You killed the sons of the prophets, and ascended on the Muslims’ pulpits. Where are the sons of Muhajirs and Ansar to revenge you and your tyrant chief-- the cursed and son of the cursed? –He refers to Yazid and Muawiya whom were cursed by the Prophet (s)-”
Al-Kumeit bin Ziad, the poet, was another example of the revolution against the wrongdoers. He satirized roughly the Umayyad kings and praised the Alawids. He said:
“They –the Alawids- are chiefs unlike those who see no difference between leading people and leading sheep. They are unlike Abdul-Melik, al-Walid, Suleiman and Husham*.”
He also satirized Husham the tyrant as well as the Umayyad kings. He said, “His words are the prophets’, while his deeds are the Jahilites’**.” “Tell the Umayyads wherever they were, though you fear swords: May God starve those whom you feed, and saturate those whom you starved due to your injustice.”
Those kings exceeded in persecuting and oppressing our poet, but he was exceeding in adhering to his belief and principals.
On the theatre of Shism, another poet emerged. He was al-Farazdaq, who criticized and reprimanded the Umayyads and upheld the Prophet’s progeny --the real people of the Islamic right and justice. The most remarkable situation of this poet was praising Imam Zeinul abidin and denigrating Husham bin Abdul-Melik, the Umayyad king, who pretended he had not known the Imam. Al-Farazdaq said, “This is the one whose steps are realized even by the deserts. The holy House, the legality, and the precincts realize him, too. This is the son of the best of God’s servants. This is the pious, the pure, the sanitary, and the master. Your asking about his personality does by no means prejudice him. The Arabs and the non-Arabs know him.”
The poet went on praising the Imam in such an unprecedented wording. Consequently, he had to encounter the Umayyads’ irritation and punishment. Nevertheless, this persecution did not stop him. He satirized Husham and kept on referring to the Umayyads’ defects. He said, “He is nodding the head which has never been a master’s head. He has a crossed eye of manifest defects.”
Diibil al-Khuzai was surely the poet of the persecuted and the wronged ones. He declared the right and criticized the kings after they had exceeded in wronging and persecuting people. He satirized ar-Rashid, al-Amin, al-Mamun, al-Mutassim, and Ibrahim bin al-Mahdi. The most influential and consonant poetry was that addressed at al-Mutassim. He said, “Then came an unguided leader who lacked intellectuality and mind. The Abbasid kings are seven as it was predicted in the ancient books. No single book has referred to an eighth one. This is similar to the people of the cave, who were seven individuals. They were virtuous. Their eighth was their dog. I exalt their dog to you, because you are sinful while it was not.”
This giant man used the notable religion and the belief that he embraced for antagonizing the unjust rulers, who wrung from this nation’s affairs, persecuted, and debasing people. None could declare the right word and defend the miserable and the deprived except Diibil and his faithful brothers who stood against the ferocious waves to declare God’s word in the most horrible and suffering circumstances.
Women also had notable roles in the field of the moral courage. They contributed in supporting the right and conflicting the social injustice and oppression.
Suwada bint Imara-- the mistress of the Iraqi women- was the best example in this regard. As she was before Muawiya for complaining the injustice of the governor, the man realized her. He said, “It was you who said in the battle of Siffin*, ‘O son of Imara! Fight like your father on the days of fighting and the meeting of opponents. Support Ali, al-Hussein, and their party, and combat Hind** and her son degradingly. The Imam, who is the Prophet’s brother, is surely the sign of guidance and the minaret of believing. Lead the armies and walk under his pennon with your sharp sword and spear.’ You said these words, did not you?”
She embarked upon Muawiya with highly firmness and said, “Yes, by God. It was I. I do never disdain the right and provide false excuses.” This answer surprised Muawiya who asked for the reason that incited her to say that wording. “It was the love of Ali and the pursuance of the right,” she replied. “But I do not notice the effects of that love,” said Muawiya. “The head was deceased and the tail was amputated. You had better leave remembering the forgotten and repeating the past,” she worded, and cited her problem of the injustice that her people and she had to encounter due to the oppression of their governor. She then expressed, “May the Lord bless that body in that grave in which the justice was buried. He allied nothing but the right; hence, he was permanently mentioned with the right and belief.” “Who is that?” wondered Muawiya. “That was Ali bin abi Talib,” she answered. “What did he do to you to occupy such a situation in your heart?” asked Muawiya. The woman storied, “Ali was performing a prayer when I came to him to complain the tax-collector that he had appointed on our province. He finished his prayer and asked about my demand. When I told him the whole story, the Imam wept and supplicated to God, ‘O, Allah, thou know that I did not instruct them of wronging your servants or deserting the right.’ He then took a piece of skin out of his pocket and wrote down, ‘In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. An evidence from your Lord has come to you. Give full measure and weight fairly, and defraud not men their things, and do not act corruptly in the lands, making mischief. What remains with Allah is better for you if you are believers, and I am not a keeper over you. As soon as you read this missive, you should keep what is in your hands until a man that receives the position will arrive.’”
The story shocked Muawiya completely. He could not control his nerves when he said, “Son of abi-Talib suffused you with bravery and inveigled you by his saying, ‘If I am the doorkeeper of a paradise, I will surely welcome the people of Hamdan warmly.’”
The memorable situation of this noble mistress was one of the gifts of the Islamic spirit that never subdue to affronts and subjugation, and never succumb to wronging and injustice.
Endurance is one of the factors that result in the coherence and equanimity of personalities. Islam has paid specific attention to this quality and urged Muslims on acceding to it. God’s reward will be highly considerable for the tolerant. God says:
Only the patient will be paid their reward in full without measure.
And we will most certainly give to those who are patient their reward for the best of what they did.
And reward them, because the were patient, with garden and silk.
And we made of them imams to guide by our command then they were patient, and they were certain of our communication.
Surely we found him patient; most excellent the servant! He was frequent in returning to God.
Endurance, without which the minds would topple and the powers would retreat, is one of God’s gifts that the faithful individuals should accept. In addition, they should meet the hardship with a compatible rigidity and serene reasoning. Islam has called for hanging on endurance, for it is the most significant moral virtue. It was mentioned in seventy situations in the Quran. It is greatly notable and a source of the social erecting. The impatient nation is unable to resist the calamities and difficulties. Endurance, likewise, stirs up the virtuous tendencies that thoroughly lack it. The Imams brightened endurance and prompted on sticking to it. Imam al-Baqir (a) said, “Difficulties and endurance encompass the Paradise. He, whoever tolerates the worldly difficulties, will be in the Paradise. Lusts and desires encompass the hell-fire. He, whoever submits to the lusts and desires, will be in the hell-fire.” Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “Endurance represents the head of believing. With the fading of the head, the body will be valueless. In the same manner, when endurance vanishes, the believing will be valueless.”
Endurance is the remedy of the hearts that are injured by calamities and wronged by the mishaps. It is the consolation of the grievous souls when attacked by the currencies of obsessions and distresses, and the delight of the excruciated ones who are suffering anguishes and mistreatments. Under the shades of endurance, the anguished ones may find tranquility, rest and settlement.
Categories of endurance:
Ethicists define certain categories of endurance:
- Endurance against evildoing, caprices, lusts, and every act that may mar man’s dignity and value
- Endurance of catastrophes through tolerating the misfortunes, pains, the missed interests, and the worldly benefits
- Endurance in the situations of danger and horror, especially in defending the right and the honor
- Relinquishment to adversities and slowdown in resisting them, using all of the legal means
Subjection to poverty and rest, as well as expecting the matters of earnings, is not included with endurance. It is obligatory upon everybody to exert all efforts for obtaining good livelihood. Unemployment is illicit since it is a sort of ignorance and sloth and an entrance to sinning and vices.
At any rate, Islam has called to endurance and considered it the most notable mental virtues and the most beneficial for both individuals and societies. It is said that the most dignified and elevated people are those whom are described of endurance, steadfastness, and tenacity in hazardous and menacing situations. Those people face the calamities with full preparations and means to be saved against difficulties and inutilities.
Composure is one of the divine names and attributes that helps to win the best opportunities and adhere to virtues. God has given composure exclusively to the prophets and the godly. God says:
Most surely, Abraham was forbearing, tenderhearted and oft-returning to God. Take to forgiveness, enjoin good, and turn aside from the ignorant.
Composure is one of the most renowned mental virtues that achieve board-heartedness, high self-determination, and virtuous moralities. Many narratives refer to the adherence to this trait.
The Prophet (s) said, “O Allah! Richen me with knowledge and adorn with composure.” “God will never support by ignorance or humiliate by composure.”
Imam Ali (a) said, “The abundance of fortunes and sons is not the goodness. The real goodness is the abundance of knowledge and the munificence of composure.”
Imam Ali bin al-Hussein (a) said, “Men, whose composure overcomes their wrath, admire me.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “Composure is a sufficient support.”
The Imams were highly ascribed with composure. Imam al-Hassan, the Prophet’s grandson, was the exemplar of composure by the testimony of his enemies. Marwan bin al-Hakam tried to participate in the ceremonies of Imam al-Hassan’s funeral, but Imam al-Hussein said to him, “Do you intend to carry his funeral while you were one of his ultimate enemies who raged him to excess?” The man said, “I did this to the man whose composure was as huge as mountains.”
Imam Musa bin Jafar was also one of the most self-possessed and broad-hearted. He was named al-Kadim, which means ‘the self-possessed.’ God praised the carriers of such elevated qualities. He said:
And those who restrain their anger and pardon men, and Allah loves the doers of good to others.
Composure settles numerous problems and enmity, spreads mutual amiability and association, and takes away from malice and hatred. From this cause, Islam has paid thorough attention for concentrating composure in Muslims’ mentalities.
Modesty is a noble quality that the Islamic education cares for seeding it in the mental horizons. It eradicates arrogance and destroys its affection. It elevates man in this world and approaches to God. Uninterrupted reports have assured that the Prophet (s) had said, “He whoever behaves modestly to God, will surely be raised.” He once asked his companions, “Why do I not notice the beauty of worship?” “What is the beauty of worship?” they wondered. “It is modesty,” asserted the Prophet.
He also said, “There are four matters that God will not grant to other than those He likes. They are silence, which is the headmost of worship, and reliance upon God, and modesty, and abstinence in this world.”
The Imams applied the full meaning of modesty when they delivered fascinating lessons. Historians relate that once a man and his son were the guests of Imam Ali, who welcomed them and served a plate of food. As they finished their food, the Imam hurried to fetch a pitcher of water to pour it on the guest’s hand. The man abstained. “Sit down and let me help in washing your hands,” said the Imam, “The Exalted Lord sees you when your brother, who does not outclass you, serve you especially when he aims at gaining the Paradise.” The man kept on abstaining but the Imam abjured him by his right; hence, the man had to accept. As he finished, the Imam handled the pitcher to Mohammed, his son, and ordered of pouring water on the son’s hands. He explained, “I would pour water on this son’s hands if he was not accompanying his father. God, the Elevated, rejects to equate between fathers and sons when they are in the same situation.” Mohammed carried out his father’s order.
This is the very spirit due to which the Islamic education has been prevalent and exalted in the instructions and moralities.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) discussed the quality of modesty. He said, “Modesty is the origin of every choice honor and eminent rank. If it were a tongue perceived by people, it would speak out the facts of the hidden outcomes. Modesty is only that intended for God’s sake, lest it is arrogance. He, whoever used modesty for God’s sake, God will raise and prefer him to great numbers of the servants. The Modest enjoy marks that are realized by the people of the heavens; the angles, and the people of the earth; the spiritualists. God says:
And on the most elevated places there shall be men who know all by their marks.
The origin of modesty is honoring, esteeming, and reverencing the Lord. It is the door to the rituals that God accepts and receives. Except God’s intimate servants, who realize the deepest purport of monotheism, none can identify the very meaning of modesty. God says:
And the servants of the Beneficent God who walk on the earth in humbleness, and then the ignorant address them, the say: Peace.
The Lord urged the best of His creatures and the master of people, Mohammed (s), on using modesty. God says:
And be kind to him who follows you of the believers.
It is the homestead of submission and god-fearing. Veneration and pudency are parts of modesty. The actual and perfect honor is unsound unless it offers modesty for God’s sake.
The Imam’s wording has referred to the actuality of modesty for which God rewards and requites, provided that all of the material tendencies are abandoned and it is offered to God’s sake purely.
PARDON AND CONDONATION
The Islamic education has been concerned with the noble characteristics of pardoning the aggressive and condoning the wrongdoers. God has urged on pardoning and condonation in many Quranic texts. He says:
And if you pardon and forbear and forgive, then surely Allah of Forgiving, Merciful
God has also ordered of treating the wrongdoers benevolently and pushing the evil away by means of altruism. God says:
And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel evil with what is best, when lo! He between whom and you was enmity would be as if he were a warm friend.
Books of hadith contain a great deal of narratives encouraging on adhering to this titled tendency. The Prophet (s) said, “May I inform you of the best traits of this world and the Hereafter? It is condoning those who wrong you, and associating with those who breach relations with you, and using benevolence to those who maltreat you, and granting those who deprive you.” “Cling on pardon. It elevates the dignity. Condone and God will dignify you.”
Imam al-Baqir (a) said, “There are three matters by which God dignifies increasingly. They are condoning the wrongdoers, giving those who deprive, and constructing good relations with those who breach.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “There are three matters that are within the virtues of the world and the Hereafter. They are condoning those who wrong you, and relating those who breach you, and using composure to those who ignore you.”
The Prophet (s) represented this quality most honorably when he pardoned and condoned those who maltreated him. He also pardoned the Quraishi polytheists who mistreated, injured, expatriated, and instigated all powers of polytheism against him. When he conquered Mecca, he gathered them and asked, “What do you think I am going to do to you?” “We expect the good, since you are the magnanimous and the son of the magnanimous,” they all answered. He then said, “Go off! You are released.”
Anas bin Malik related: I was accompanying the Prophet (s), who was in a cloak of a hard margin, when a Bedouin pulled him from the cloak fiercely and said in harsh and irate tone, “O Mohammed! Carry on my two camels with God’s riches that you keep. They are neither yours nor your fathers.” The Prophet kept silence for a while, and then said, “The riches are God’s. I am only His servant.” After a pause he asked, “O Bedouin! Do you not expect to be retaliated for you deed?” “No, I do not,” answered the Bedouin. “What for?” wondered the Prophet. “Because you do not answer the evildoing with evil,” replied the Bedouin. The Prophet (s) smiled and ordered of giving him barley and dates as much as his camels bear.
The Prophet (s) used benevolence, goodness, and condonation with any wrongdoing he might encounter. This nonesuch morality was stuck to the tendencies of the Imams by which they preceded the others.
Historians mention that once a man threw showers of insults and reviling at Imam Zeinul abidin while he was leaving the mosque. The Imam stopped his slaves who intended to punish that man. “O you man!” addressed the Imam; “I am more than your previous wordings. You ignore more than what you have known about me.” The man felt shy and was embarrassed. Hence, the Imam gave him his shirt and bestowed with one thousand dirhams. The man then confessed, “I must declare that this is one of the Prophet’s sons.”
A Syrian man went on reviling at Imam al-Hassan. The Imam answered him with handsome smiling and said, “O man! We will give you what you need, and lead you to your lost, and bestow you if you ask, and feed you if you are hungry, and enrich you if you are destitute, and succor you if you are fugitive.” The Imam kept gentleness with the Syrian man until the evil was uprooted from his mind. He was highly astonished to the Imam’s morality; therefore, he could utter no single letter. He only worded, “God is the most knowledgeable of the fittest of conveying His message.”
These pictures of the Imams’ conduct incite to hold to self-denial and freedom from hostile tendencies. Hence, they were the best examples of God’s saying:
And repel evil with good.
Charity, which stands for good doing, is the best trait and the best fruit of existence. It results in people’s docility and collective honoring. It also causes the illustrious mentioning after death. Islam has positively adopted and called to charity. God says:
Surely, Allah enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good to others and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency, and evil and rebellion.
He defines it as the best quality:
And whoever submits himself wholly to Allah and he is the doer of good to others, he indeed has taken hold of the firmest thing upon which one can lay hold.
He also urges on doing charity, and promised of rewarding what is better:
Whoever brings good, he shall have better than it, and they shall be secure from terror on that day.
He promises of rewarding the good doing tenfold:
Whoever brings a good deed, he shall have ten like it.
God also promises of keeping the reward of the charitable and rewarding them with the best:
And be patient, for surely Allah does not waste the reward of the good doers.
Charity is a principal pillar of constructing the human societies and the best means of dispersing reciprocal love and association. God defines some parties and orders of treating them benevolently because of the ties of relation, neighborhood or being without custody. God says:
And serve Allah and do not associate any thing with Him. And be good to the parents and to the near of kin and to orphans and the needy and the neighbor of your kin and the alien neighbor, and the companion in a journey and the wayfarer and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah does not love him who is proud, boastful.
God compares worship with treating such parties kindly, since they are in exigent need of kindness and charity. These parties are:
- The parents: Custody and kind treatment to the parents are the tightest matters of family attachment. We have previously referred to this point.
- The near of kin: They are the brothers, paternal and maternal uncles, and their sons in addition to the other kinsmen and kinswomen. Using charity to these individuals disperses love among the family members. Family is surely the first brick in the social structure.
- The orphans: They are those who lost their parents. The nation entirely is responsible for caring and educating the orphans as a form of the social solidarity that Islam has imposed. It has also decreed of meeting the needs of the handicapped, the weak, and the orphans.
- The poor: They are the paupers who are unable to meet their annuity. Hence, Islam has ordered the nation of saving the needs of the poor. Islam has also given them exclusively a good deal of social obligations and a portion in the poor rate, so that they will get rid of poverty, which should be eradicated totally from the Islamic society.
- The neighbors, whether the near of kin or the alien: God orders of treating the neighbors kindly in order to achieve firm bonds of love and association among people of the same quarter. This is surely one of the reasons of the social connection and attachment.
- The wayfarers: They are those who lose all their fortune before they arrive in their hometowns. Islam has ordered of attending to them carefully and meeting their needs until they reach their homes. In addition, a portion of the poor rate is allotted to them.
- The slaves: Islam has urged on doing good to the slaves by manumitting them and treating them kindly and avoiding intruding them to heavy duties.
Charity and benevolence to those parties creates amiability and empowers the reciprocal social bonds to make people represent one hand against their enemies.
How benevolent, philanthropic, confident of God, great-spirited, honorable, and noble are the openhanded individuals who adhere to the codes of generosity and avoid misery and avarice!
The Islamic education cares for seeding this quality in the minds for its being the worthiest estimable tendency that leads to social adhesion and the harmony of the individuals’ reciprocal love and association. The Prophet (s) called to heed this quality. He said, “Generosity is surely a part of faith. Faith will be in the Paradise.” “God the Praised said: I have accepted this religion. It will not be amended without generosity and good manners. You should spare no efforts for honoring this religion with these two matters.” “The generous are close to God, and close to people, and close to the Paradise and remote from the hell-fire.” “Do the favor to its deservers and to those who do not deserve. If you give it to its people, then you have done the right. If you do not reach them, then you are its people.”
The Imams also spoke much about generosity. Imam Musa bin Jafar (a) said, “The courteous generous is being in God’s sustenance. God will not leave him before He sends him to the Paradise. God did never select for prophecy and the succession of the prophets other than the generous. My father kept on advising me of generosity till he passed away.”
The Imams adhered to generosity. They devaluated the riches except in cases of meeting the needs of the hungry, the needy, or the insolvent. Imam al-Hassan, the generous of the Prophet’s household, is reported that he had never said, “No” to any suppliant. People asked him about this quality. He answered, “I ask God and long for His benevolence. I am too diffident to be suppliant or reject a suppliant. God has inured me to receive His abundant graces and I accustomed to give His graces to people. I am afraid He will cease His habit if I cease mine. As a suppliant come to me I say: Welcome to him whose favor is an urgent obligation, and whose favor is imposed on every charitable. The best days of a man are those in which his favor is asked.”
The Imams were draining their virtues and generosity on the needy and the orphans. Al-Kumeit, the poet, refers to this point by composing; “They are the rainy –with charity- that became the laps of orphans when people refrain.”
The Imams’ history is suffocated with situations of generosity and charity.
Altruism is a gentle feature that elevates man and contributes in perfecting the personality, sobriety, and self-sacrifice for the sake of the right and good. Islam has tended to this quality and praised its people. The holy Quran praised a group of Muslims who preferred their brothers to themselves. Exegesists report that seven Muslim warriors who had been wounded in the battle of Uhud were harshly thirsty. A Muslim fetched them some water that was sufficient for one person only. The first man, to whom the water was offered, refused to drink since he suggested offering it to the other. The other preferred the third, and so on. As the man reached the last one, he found him dead. He returned the other and found him dead and so on, until all of the wounded were dead.
Islam has supplied Muslims with such a magnificent spirit, and copied the high traits in their souls and made such a notable human perfection all over history.
The ever most expressive, genuine, and influential picture of the Islamic altruism was that of the Prophet’s household. A whole sura was revealed for expressing this altruism. It is the sura of Insan –or Addahr-. Unanimously, the exegesists –of the holy Quran- related that the Prophet (s), with some of his companions, visited al-Hassan and al-Hussein, who were sick. They suggested that Imam Ali, their father, should vow a three-day fasting if they would recover their health. The Imam, as well as their mother Fatima the veracious and Fudda their bondwoman implemented that suggestion. When al-Hassan and al-Hussein were healed, the group fasted. The Imam had no food at that time; therefore, he had to borrow three measures of barley. In the first day, Fatima the veracious milled and baked one of these measures. In the very time* of breaking the fast, a poor man knocked their door for a meal. The imam gave him his share. The other entirely pursued the imam and gave their shares. They passed that night without eating any thing. On the second day of their fasting, Fatima the veracious milled and backed the second measure to make some bread. An orphan complaining hunger knocked their door in the time of breaking the fast. They entirely offered their shares of bread and passed the second night without eating anything. On the third day, Fatima the mistress milled and backed the last measure and made some loaves of bread. In the very time of breaking the fast, a prisoner complaining hunger knocked their door asking for some food. They all offered him their shares before having anything of it. In the fourth day, the Prophet (s) visited them and noticed the paleness of their faces. He was highly influenced when he shouted, “Is there a helper? Mohammed’s household is starving.” Before he completed his words, the angel Gabriel descended with the sura of Insan. The sura comprises the ultimate adulation and the best wording. God thanked their unparalleled efforts of altruism and promised of a great reward and compensation in the Hereafter when they will be enjoying the everlasting bliss of the Paradise. He also immortalized their mentioning in this world and made them the imams and leaders of Muslims.
Teamwork in the fields of charity is also one of the most notable aspects of the Islamic education. God says:
And help one another in goodness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression.
This is the Islamic methodology that aims at composing the individuals and communities on firm bases of cohesion and cooperation in the fields of goodness and piety, not sin and aggression. The best sketches of the moral cooperation is establishing schools, hospitals, institutes of studying, factories, and the like matters that lead to social development and prosperity of mental and economic life.
This noble tendency caused the predominance, maturity, and elevation of Muslims in their early ages. With discrepancy and weakness of this tendency, the Muslims’ affairs and word were scattered. They descended to the depths of humiliation and ignominy to the degree that Israel, which was the most humble nation, dared to assault them. In the Muslims’ homeland, the Israelis have founded a state for the Zionists and humiliated the Arabs and Muslims. Had there been a sincere collaboration among Muslims, Israel had had no ability to occupy these territories of our homeland, banished their people, and exceeded in demeaning them. Muslims can hear the various colors of persecution that the Palestinians are encountering, such as massacre and displacement. The religious zealotry has not moved their feelings to save their brethren and liberate their usurped rights.
Islam has devoted great attention to truthfulness, and urged on taking to it for its being a priority of the noble traits and the good qualities. It is one of the four pillars of the social system. Likewise, it is the title of the nations’ maturity and, meanwhile, the evidences of their degradation in case people abandon.
In the Quran:
In many Quranic texts, the importance and high-ranking of veracity are exposed. God describes His Essence of veracity. He says:
And who is truer of word than God is?
We are surely truthful.
He praised the prophet Samuel by saying:
Surely, he was truthful in his promise, and he was an apostle, a prophet.
Truthfulness is also a quality of the pious believers. God says:
The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Apostle then they doubt not and struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah. They are the truthful ones.
Sincerity is also the key to success on the Resurrection day. God says:
Allah will say, this is the day when their truth shall benefit the truthful.
That Allah may reward the truthful for their truth.
God also orders of pursuing the truthful in this world. He says:
O, you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah and be with the true ones.
Many Quranic texts call to using and adhering to sincerity.
In the prophetic traditions:
The Prophet and the Imams worded many sayings inciting Muslims to be true-tongued and avoid fabrication.
The Prophet (s) said, “Hold fast on sincerity. It guides to the benevolence that guides to the Paradise. Man is still saying and inspecting the truth until he is recorded as a veracious to Allah. Beware of untruth. It leads to licentiousness that leads to the hell-fire. A man is still lying and inspection fabrication till he is recorded as a liar to Allah.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “Regard not the elongation of the genuflection –Rukuu- and prostration –Sujoud-. This may be a habit, without which one may feel bored. You should regard the truthfulness and the fulfillment of trusts.” “God the Elevated had never sent a prophet but with truthfulness and fulfillment of trusts to the pious and the licentious.”
Advising his adherents, Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “Be solicitors to good doing with means other than your tongues so that people will notice your solemnity, veracity, and piety.”
Necessity of sincerity:
Sincerity is the individual component and the genuine affair on which the systems and equanimity of the cultural and economic life depend. International economy is managed by truthful transactions. National and individual capitals, banks, and commerce are proceeding on the light of sincerity and factuality that are within the peculiar elements of the transactional processes and effects. Sincerity is the pivot of the international economic movement. It is impossible for the fraudulent and duplicitous economic movements to develop.
Sincerity is a basic component in the cultural life, too. Culture is grounded upon the method of factuality and sincerity. It will be vain and meaningless if students and teachers are untruthful in their tests, courses, and lessons.
The same thing can be said about the political life. Policy is being continuous and valid only when it is fixed upon sincerity. Insincere policy will eventually fail. The best example in this regard is the behavior of Imam Ali, the pioneer of the right and justice on this earth, to the Kharijites after they had discovered Muawiya’s fraudulence in the question of the arbitration. They insisted on demanding the Imam with declaring the repentance from (the guilt) of accepting the arbitration. The Imam declined since he had originally not committed any guilt. They perpetrated that guilt. Had the Imam accepted their demand, he would have been saved against the mutiny of his army. He rejected the political life that is based upon fabrication, cheating, and fraudulence. He pursued the completely sound path. Similarly, had the Imam kept abreast with Abdurrahman bin Awf, who specified pursuing God’s Book, the Prophet’s practice, and way of the Sheiks –Abu Bakr and Omar-, as the condition of holding the position of leadership after the death of Omar bin al-Khattab. Had the Imam accepted that condition, he would have saved the Islamic nation from Othman bin Affan, the chief of the Umayyads-- the real foes of Islam. The Imam, however, insisted on veracity disregarding the results. He preferred God’s satisfaction to everything. Thus, he rejected to pursue the course of the two Sheiks and insisted on the fact that the Islamic policy and management should be grounded upon God’s glorious Book and the Prophet’s practices.
Categories of sincerity:
The categories of sincerity are elevated and honorable:
Honesty is one of the firmest pillars on which the sound society rests. It is the guide to all of the virtues and moralities, and comprises God’s rights, including precepts, obligations, and the abandonment of illegalities. It also contains the respect of the publics’ rights by preventing from using the deposits, cheating, defrauding in measures, and pursuing people’s flaws. People’s rights are guiding them, testifying, and conveying the missions completely in addition to many others. God ordered of fulfilling the trusts to their owners. God says:
Surely, Allah commands you to make over trusts to their owners.
He also reckons honesty with the qualities of the pious believers. He said:
And those who are keepers of their trusts and their covenant…
The Prophet (s) said, “Honesty brings subsistence. Dishonesty brings poverty.”
Advice is a sort of honesty. In fact, the seekers of advice entrust the advisers.” “The individuals that are asked for advice are entrusted. Those who are asked for an advice should provide the best as if they were the doers of that act.” “He, whoever advises of a matter other than the accurate, is defrauding the seeker.”
Likewise, keeping the others’ secrets is a sort of honesty. People, who unveil their secrets before others, should trust one another because they have presumed each other without any form of concern or care. Both are warned against deceiving through conveying the secrets. The Prophet (s) said, “The two associates communicate each other by the trust of God. It is illegal for them to unveil the secrets.”
The Prophet (s) affirmed that the safety and continuance of this nation is kept only when people care for their trusts, apply it to the factuality, and take it out of their benefits. He said, “My nation is still secured as long as people do not regard the trusts as profits and the almsgiving as debts.”
Keeping the covenant:
Keeping the covenant is a notable aspect of the Islamic education. Islam has called to this quality. God praised Samuel the prophet by saying:
And mention in the Book Samuel. Surely, he was truthful in his promise, and he was an apostle, a prophet.
The pledge is a recorded document; hence, it must be fulfilled. God says:
O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do.
And fulfill the covenant of Allah when you have made a covenant, and do not break the oaths after making them fast, and you have indeed made Allah a surety for you. And fulfill the promise. Surely, every promise shall be questioned about.
The Prophet (s) said, “The signs of the hypocrites are three, even if they perform the prayers and fast and claim being Muslims. They lie when they speak, and breach when they promise and cheat when they are trusted.”
As he was asked about the signs of the hypocrites, the Prophet (s) answered, “They breach when they pledge.”
The fulfillment of promises is a social necessity upon which the life course and system depend. Islam has confirmed the necessity of fulfilling the promises and compelled Muslims with it even if the other party was an enemy. In his will to Malik al-Ashtar, Imam Ali says, “If you tie with your enemy a knot or dress him your covenant, you should encompass this covenant with fulfillment and keep your pact by honesty. Make yourself an armor of what you have given. Nothing -of God’s precepts- is more agreeable, despite people’s discrepant caprices and varying opinions, than the glorifying of the fulfillment of pledges. This commits the polytheists, not Muslims, among them due to there regarding the consequences of breaching as great woes. Do not breach by your humility, infringe your covenant, or violate your enemies. Only the rascal ignorant do venture God after He had made His pledge and rectitude the security that should be publicized among His servants by His mercy, and the shelter and vicinity to which the servants harbor and rest.”
This is the pure Islamic attitude to pledges and promises. It has decreed obligatorily the fulfilling of the pledge and promise even to the foes and the rivals of Islam.
The Islamic education has exerted all efforts for habituating to the good wording and avoiding the bad. God says:
To Him do ascend the good words. And the good deeds lift them up.
The good wording ascends to the Lord to reward it and bless its sayer. Islam has emphasized on this matter in many occasions. God also orders the servants of speaking only the best wording. God says:
And say to My servants that they speak that which is best. Surely, the Shaitan sows dissensions among them.
And you shall speak to men good words.
Good wording achieves the good reputation and saves from numerous problems and difficulties, the source of which is the evil wording that, in most cases, arouses spites and draws approaching damages.
Lowering the voice and avoiding noises are within the Islamic instructions. God says:
And lower your voice. Surely, the most hateful of voices is braying of the asses.
Imam Musa al-Kadim (a) narrated that the Prophet (s) liked the low-voiced and hated the sonorous.
The loud-toned speech refers to the ill manners and the degraded behaviors and ethics of the speaker.
The previous noble traits are surely the brands of God’s illumination and the gifts of His mercy. They push to the good manners, aspire to good doing, and preclude from irregularity and deviation.