Signs of Faith
By: Ayatullah Dastghaib Shirazi
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
And it is alike to them whether you warn them or warn them not: they do not believe. You can only warn him who follows the reminder and fears the Beneficent God in secret; so announce to him forgiveness and an honorable reward. (36:10-11)
So far we have discussed that man is not forcibly taken to paradise or hell. Whatever one gets is as per one’s choice. When Allah says,
Surely We have placed chains (yokes) on their necks…
Actually it means: They are yokes, you yourself have prepared. God Almighty coils them around your neck to apprehend you. Never say that God caught me like this. Rather you had wished it and you opted for passions and love for worldly things. You are blind as well as deaf. Man himself erects barriers in front and behind himself. He does not look at the consequences and his aspirations are unlimited. They have extended to such an extent that we do not look even at our old age. The aged one also is so much drowned in desires that he does not look at death that is fast approaching him (in front) and at his past sins (behind).
Desires extend to a number of years whereas one does not know what will happen tomorrow and whether one will remain alive the next day. These far-fetched desires turn into yokes on intelligence or become so active that man loses the capital of his life? He does not see the mortality of this world and the permanence of Hereafter. About one who goes down to such a downfall, God says:
And it is alike to them whether you warn them or warn them not: they do not (or will not) believe.
A heart immune to good counsel is dead
You may warn them or you may not, it will make no difference. It does not affect his heart because it is already dead and is unmoved by admonishments.
If someone’s leg becomes numb they say, “Let us see if it moves? Does it shake or not?” They pierce it with a needle. If it creates no feeling they say that the leg is dead and hence useless. What remains then without a living heart? However much you warn it, it is not fearful.
Dead (are they), not living, and they know not when they shall be raised. (16:21)
The nature of man has become corrupted. He understands nothing except matter and material things. Yes, he does fear that his income will decrease, his prestige will fall and his rank will be taken away. But if you tell him that, ‘As you have committed a sin you will be detained at the stage of accounting’, he is not afraid.
It is mentioned in vol. 10 of Biharul Anwar that once the Holy Prophet (‘s) recited the following verses before the Muslims:
And surely Hell is the promised place of them all: It has seven gates; for every gate there shall be a separate party of them. (15:43-44)
On hearing these verses, Ali (‘a) began to tremble like a sparrow soaked in water on a freezing winter day.
If there is life, its signs are also present. If the heart is alive, glad tidings or warnings have effect on it. If the heart is dead, it won’t be affected even if you recite the whole Quran before it. Yet if there is even an iota of life in a heart it will be affected sooner or later.
It is nothing but a reminder and a plain Quran, that it may warn him who would have life, (36:69-70)
That is the Quran is only to admonish those who are alive in the hearts.
You can only warn him who follows the reminder and fears the Beneficent God in secret…(36:11)
Also until one has a living heart in ones breast one cannot be affected by the Quran positively.
Surely you do not make the dead to hear, and you do not make the deaf to hear the call when they go back retreating. (27:80)
If it has any life there is hope that it would be affected by admonishments. One’s (Human) nature must not have been destroyed, as one is naturally inclined towards the Quran.
Most of the Meccans have dead souls and they will not believe. They run away even on hearing the word ‘Hereafter’. But those whose nature is existent they:
Fear the Beneficent God…
Signs of the lowest degree of faith
Sometimes man begins to think whether he has Faith or not. If death arrives will I die a believer or not? A saying of Imam Baqir (‘a) says, “The first degree of Faith is in one whom every sin make him restless and whom every good deed gladdens. He indeed is a believer.” This shows that he believes in divine reward and punishment in the Hereafter, especially when admonished. It shows that he is receptive to admonitions and thus obviously there still is life in his heart.
There are many examples where man is oblivious of imminent dangers. The best one is quoted by Shaykh Sadooq (r.a.) from the religious authorities. Let us see what the parable says and apply it to ourselves.
Temporal well and drinking delight with a thousand stings
A man passing through a forest fell down in a well. He clung at a log of wood, that was jutting out, to save himself. Looking downwards, he saw a python with its mouth wide open. He also observed that a white rat on one side and a black one on the other was gnawing the log he clung to. The wood was getting thinner and thinner. Verily, how frightened he was? But, then, his eyes fell on a corner of the well and he saw some honey spilled from a pot on the ground and honeybees buzzing around it.
Now the wretched fellow forgot the python and the rats, and became entranced with the honey, thinking how lucky he would be to get it!
In this parable, the well is this material world and all that it has, the python is death and the wooden log held in the middle is man’s age or life span, which is being chewed by the two mice signifying day and night. They are continuously reducing the life span so that he may fall to death. Honey denotes sweet tasting worldly passions. Every bite of this delight is accompanied by thousands of stings and troubles.
Absolute happiness or pleasure is found neither in this world nor in feasting, dressing up or sex. It is available only in the Hereafter where enjoyment is not accompanied by any pain, provided you reach there with the light of piety and Love of Ahle Bayt.