A Good and Pure Life
By: Dr. Shaikh Reza Shariati
The life of this world: Our passage from this world to the Hereafter is called “life”. The life in this world means the period , the length or portion of time between birth and death. Time is here never resting. There are many amusements in this world. Life of this world is a business bargain, an inevitable battle, a long series of tests, a part of Pilgrimage, an opportunity of service.
Never-resting time : The life in this world means the period , the length or portion of time between birth and death. It is our capital and a present from our Creator. We are passing through and losing the years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. Time searches out and destroys everything material. If we merely run a race against Time , we shall lose. This life is ever full of toil and misery , if looked at as empty of the Eternal Hope which Revelation gives us. It is only our spiritual part that conquers Time. The Holy Qur’an says: “ By the time , verily Man is in loss , except such as have faith and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual enjoining of Truth , and of Patience and Constancy.
والعصر إن الإنسان لفي خسر ألا الذين آمنوا و عملوا الصالحات و تواصوا بالحق و تواصوا بالصبر
Amusements: The Holy Qur’an says: ““Know ye (all), that the life of this world is but play and pastime, adornment and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children.
اعلموا أنما الحيوة الدنيا لعب و لهو وزينة و تفاخر بينكم و تكاثر في الأموال و الأولاد
(الحديد - 20)
In this life , some people not only play and amuse themselves and each other , but they show off, and boast , and pile up riches and man-power and influence , in rivalry with each other. Allah’s mercies are free and open to all , like His rain. But how do men make use of them? The good men take the real spiritual harvest and store the spiritual grain. The men who are in love with ephemeral are delighted with the green of the tares and grass ; but such things give no nourishment ; they soon wither , dry , and crumble to pieces , like the worldly pleasures and pomps , boasting and tumults, possessions and friends. Many of the attractive vanities of this world are but nets set by Satan to deceive man. The only thing real and lasting is the Good Life lived in the Light of Allah.
Business bargain: The Almighty says: ““Allah hath purchased of the Believers their persons and their goods; for their (in return) is the Garden (of Paradise): They fight in His Cause, and slay and are slain...
إن الله اشتري من المؤمنين أنفسهم و أموالهم بان لهم الجنة يقاتلون في سبيل الله فيقتلون و يقتلون
( التوبة - 111)
In a human bargain both sides give something and receive some advantage. In the divine bargain of Allah with man, Allah takes man’s will and soul and his wealth and goods, and gives him in return ever-lasting Felicity. Man fights in Allah’s Cause and carries out His will. all that he has to give up is the ephemeral things of this world, while he gains eternal salvation , the fulfillment of his highest spiritual hopes, a supreme achievement indeed.
If life be considered under the metaphor of a business bargain , man, by merely attending to his material gains , will lose. When he makes up his day’s account, it will show a loss. It will only show profit if he has Faith , leads a good life, and contributes to the mankind’s welfare by directing and encouraging other people on the Path of Truth and Constancy. Faith is his armor , which wards off the wounds of the material world ; and his righteous life is his positive contribution to spiritual ascent. He carry the Banner of Truth against all odds and in all positions of danger whether by pen or speech , or deed or counsel. If he lived only for himself , he would not fulfill his whole duty. Whatever good he has , especially in moral and spiritual life, he must spread among his brothers and sisters , so that they may see the Truth and stand by it in patient hope and unshaken constancy amidst all the storm and stress of outer life. For he and they have attained Peace within. The man of God takes Allah’s Revelation (“the Book”) to heart , ever seeks to get closer and closer to Allah (“regular Prayer”), and in doing so , is moved more and more to practical Charity for his fellow-creatures. He just does what he can and is necessary for his fellow-creatures , whether people talk about it or not.
Inevitable battle: The history of man on the earth starts from the time when Satan made Adam and Eve slip from the Garden and got them out of the state of felicity in which they had been. This denotes the idea of evil gradually tempting man from a higher to a lower state. Evidently Adam is a type of all mankind, and the sexes go together in all spiritual matters. Moreover, the expulsion applied to Adam, Eve, Satan and their children. Man’s sojourn in this lower state, where he is partly an animal of this earth, is for a time. But he must fulfil his lower duties also, for they too are a part of his spiritual training. In spite of Man’s fall, and in consequence of it, assurance of guidance is given. In case man follows the guidance he is free from any fear for the present or the future, and any grief or sorrow for past. The soul freed grows nearer to Allah. But those who deliberately reject Faith and definitely belie God’s signs, the consequences will be a punishment of abiding characters.
During the History, some people have followed the divine guidance and some others have violated it and then the two opposite hidden parties have been gradually set up. Each of them has had its own ideals, guidelines, leaders , systems, methods, partisans, etc. Satan, Cain, Nimrod, Pharaoh, other rebels, their followers, the pagans, hypocrites and tyrants have been ever confronting Allah, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, Ali (A.S.) other saint leaders of mankind and the believers. Regardless of the time and place, the party of Allah has included all of the organizations, companies, schools and persons who think and behave according to the divine systems and methods in order to realize the strategy of Islam. Also, the party of Satan has covered all of its subordinate individuals and groups who make, treat and serve in order to deviate the people from the Right Path and to perform the evil ideals. And this will continue up to the time when Satan as the main leader of Evil party will be killed by our Holy Prophet (S.A.) in Raj’at period.
So life of this world is an inevitable battle between these two organized and armed forces: the party of Allah and the party of Satan. The Holy Qur’an states: “ We said: “ Get ye down all from here; and if , as is sure , there comes to you Guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance , on them shall be no fear , nor shall they grieve.* But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be Companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein.
قلنا اهبطوا منها جميعا فاما ياتينكم مني هدي فمن تبع هداي فلا خوف عليهم و لا هم يحزنون * و الذين كفروا و كذبوا باياتنا اولئك اصحاب النار هم فيها خالدون*
(البقره 38 - 39)
A series of tests: The Holy Qur’an says: ““Do men think that they will be left alone on saying ,: “We believe”, and that they will not be tested?
أ حسب الناس أن يتركوا أن يقولوا آمنا و هم لا يفتنون
(العنكبوت - 29)
We are asked to learn from the past about the struggles of the soul which upholds Allah’s Truth , against the environment of evil , which resists it , and to turn our thoughts to the Ma’ad , or man’s future destiny in the Hereafter. Mere lip profession of Faith is not enough. It must be tried and tested in the real turmoil of life. The test will be applied in all kinds of circumstances , in individual life and in relation to the environment around us , to see whether we can strive constantly and put Allah above Self. Much pain , sorrow and self-sacrifice may be necessary , not because they are good in themselves , but because they will purify us , like fire applied to a goldsmith’s crucible to burn out the dross.
Life is a long series of tests for every servant of God. We are all on the measured mile , whether we realize it or not. The manner in which we respond to the test determines the place we occupy in the kingdom of God. Severe testing is not the mark of divine disapproval , rather the reverse. Only ore which bears precious metal is subject to crushing and processing. Only alloy in which there is valuable metal is placed in the refiner’s crucible. Since God has pledged Himself never to subject His servants to tests beyond their ability to bear , a severe test is in reality His vote of confidence. In Abraham’s life the tests were progressive in both depth and intensity. In the case of Job there was no element of choice. They came in crushing waves altogether....
Pilgrimage: The Almighty says:” And take a provision with you for the journey , but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me , O ye that are wise.
تزودوا فان خير الزاد التقوى واتقون يا أولى الألباب
(البقرة - 197)
Our thought is directed from the physical to the spiritual. Life is a part of a Pilgrimage as Hajj. We are all pilgrims who journey to Paradise , Allah’s complete and permanent Bliss. Every journey is supposed to have the start point , traveler, pathway , direction, means of transportation, guide, some signs, provisions and obstacles and it will come to an end. Our pilgrimage also starts from our Will. Our means of transportation is the love for the Lord. Our provision is right conduct. Our guides are the Prophets and their rightful successors. Our way is Right Path. Our aim is to meet Allah. Our obstacles are Infidelity , Hypocrisy , Satan , Mean qualities , Love for the mundane attractions etc. The result is Monotheism and Human perfection.
Opportunity of service: The Muslim is servant of God. His main ideal is to serve Allah with the most of his potential and to live a life according to his Lord’s orders. The Lord says: “I have only created Jinns and men , that They may serve Me.
ما خلقت الجن والإنس إلا ليعبدون
(الذاريات - 56)
Creation is not for idle sport or play. Allah has a serious purpose behind it, which , in our imperfect state, we can only express by saying that each creature is given the chance of development and progress towards the Goal, which is Allah. Allah is the source and centre of all power and all goodness, and our progress depends upon our putting ourselves into accord with His will. This is His service. It is not of any benefit to Him. It is for our own benefit.
Life is therefore , in our view , an opportunity of service. The best models of living based on the God’s Plan and Will are available in the God’s Speech. The Holy Qur’an study has no more fascinating and rewarding experience to offer than to trace in the lives of real men and women the interplay of divine providence and human capacity. Careful examination of the lives of men of the Qur’an will afford helpful insight into the principles underlying effective Muslim life and service today. In their experience, we can discern the reflection of our own. Their hard-won victories and their secrets are at our disposal without price. Like ours , their triumphs have been through faith and their defeats through disobedience.
It will emerge clearly that God’s methods , infinite in variety , are constant and eternal. Unnoticed, He invades the affairs of men , weaving into His perfect plan the tangled strands of human experience. Man is always left free to act, but never so as to frustrate His ultimate plan. By willfulness or failure he may for a time hinder its fulfillment , but he can never finally defeat God’s eternal purpose. God is limited by neither heredity nor environment.
من عمل صالحا من ذكراو انثي و هو مؤمن فلنحيينه حيوه طيبه و لنجزينهم اجرهم باحسن ما كانوا يعملون
Whoever works righteousness, man or woman and has Faith , verily , to him/her will We give a life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.”
Faith , if sincere, means right conduct. When these tow confirm each other, Allah’s grace transforms our life. Instead of being troubled and worried, we have peace and contentment; instead of being assailed at every turn by false alarms and assaults of evil, we enjoy calm and attain purity. The transformation is visible in this life itself, but the “reward in terms of the Hereafter will be far beyond our deserts. What comparison can there possibly be between spiritual Good, which will endure for ever, and any temporal advantage which we may snatch in this world, which will fade and vanish in no time? And then, Allah’s generosity is unbounded. He rewards us, not according to our merits, but according to the very best of our actions.