The True Immigrants
In Baghdad, and during the lifetime of Imam Mousa al-Kadhim (a.s.), there was a well know man called Bishr al-Hafi. One-day, al-Kadhim was passing by the house of Bishr. It happened that one of his maids opened the door to leave a bag of rubbish in front of the house.
The Imam asked her if the owner of the house was a slave or a freeman.
She answered, without hiding her bewilderment at his question, that he was a freeman.
The Imam said, “You are right. Had he been a slave he would have feared his Lord”. The Imam then left the scene.
When the maid went back into the house, Bishr, who was in a drinking session, asked her as to what kept her so late. She told him the story.
It seems that the words of the Imam descended on him like a thunderbolt waking him up from his deep slumber and forgetfulness. After the maid had told him of the direction the Imam continued his walk in, he quickly set off trying to catch up with the Imam, so much so that he forget to wear his slippers. While he was in hot pursuit, he was saying to himself that the man who uttered those words must have been Imam Mousa bin Ja’far al-Kadhim (a.s.).
Indeed, he went to the house of the Imam and apologized to him. And while still weeping, declared in his presence that he wanted to repent and become a slave, not to any one, but to God. He went on saying that he did not want any more the type of freedom he was used to, i.e. that which imprisoned in him his humanity and set forth the animal base instigations; that he did not want any more to chase lofty positions and repute; that he did not want to wade in the mire of sins and become their hostage; that he did not want to suffocate inside him the good innate nature and sound mind. He concluded that he wanted to be a true slave to God and a freeman when dealing with others.
Thus, Bishr announced his repentance at the hands of Imam al-Kadhim. From that point in time onward, he was never to relapse in his previous bad ways, i.e. he discarded his sins (hajara thunubah) and began a clean sheet, destroying all objects and symbols of wrongdoings, and turning to submission to and worship of God. Accordingly, Bishr met the criterion of immigration for he turned his back to all misdeeds and immoralities.
Purya Wali, the Famous Wrestling Champion.
There is another example and lesson, which demonstrates true bravery, and which we could draw from the story of Purya Wali, a famous wrestling champion. He sets a parable for what a true champion should be. He was the epitome of gentlemanly conduct and magnanimity. The story goes like this:
One day, our champion arrived in a town where he was scheduled to meet in a contest with the top wrestler of that town. While he was on a tour in that town, he came across an old woman who was giving out pieces of sweets to passers by. She gave him a piece of chocolate and asked him for a prayer.
He asked her whether there was anything in particular she wanted him to pray for. She said to him that her son was the wrestling champion of their town and that he was going to meet later in the week, another wrestler who came from another town. She added that she felt apprehensive about her son’s chances of winning, in that he might lose, and that his defeat would not only be considered a setback for her son, but it would mean that their source of income would dry up. In short, his defeat would spell disaster for the family. Our champion told her to have peace of mind, in that he would pray for her son to win the match.
After that conversation with the old woman, he was in a reflective mood, calling to mind that “he who overcomes his inclinations is the bravest of people”.
At the appointed time of contest between him and his opponent and as the contest progressed, he came to know that his opponent was much weaker than him and that if he wanted to, he could have defeated him in no time.
However, having reached a decision that he would let his opponent defeat him, he overindulged in evasive movements to give the impression that the contest was proceeding normally, and in the opportune time, he gave way and let his opponent defeat him.
The storyteller went on to say that at the moment of defeat, our champion felt that his heart became wide open for God, as though he were in His dominion. And because that man did battle with his soul and scored a victory over its inclinations, he had become among the friends of God. You might ask, why?
The answer is because “the true mujahid is the one who does battle with his soul”, the “bravest of people is he who overcomes his desires”, and lastly, because he demonstrated the kind of courage and magnanimity that made him excel over all champions.