The Gems of Knowledge and Wisdom
By: Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Hakim
My child! We have inherited from our fourth Imam, Ali b. Husain (as) a precious encyclopedia in the form of supplication and requests from Allah, by the name of al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah. I am going to read to you a passage from this book on the topic of our discussion. I hope to draw your attention to some exciting words in connection with one's obligations to his father and mother. The honourable Imam with much fear in his heart, sits in prayer in front of glory and majesty of Almighty Allah and in a humbling voice says:
"O Lord, bless Muhammad, Thy servant and Thy Apostle and the holy people of his house.
Distinguish, O Lord, my parents with excellence before Thee and grace from Thee, O Most Merciful!
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his descendants.
Acquaint me by inspiration with the knowledge of what is due unto them from me.
Collect for me the complete knowledge of all this.
Cause me to act according to what Thou reveal to me by inspiration.
Give me grace to penetrate into such of this knowledge as Thou teach me till I omit to perform nothing Thou has taught me. Do not let my limbs grow heavy (so as to prevent them) from the discharge of what Thou reveal unto me.
O Lord, bless Muhammad and his descendants as Thou hast exalted us with him.
Favour Muhammad and his descendant as Thou has given us claims upon Thy creation because of him.
Make me fear my parents as I would fear a despotic ruler and love them with the tenderness of an indulgent mother.
Let me obedience to my parents and beneficence to them be sweeter to my eyes than sleep is to the drowsy, cooler to my beast than drinking water is to the thirsty, till I give prefrence to their wishes over mine and precedence to the satisfaction of their needs over mine.
Let me over-value their benevolence to me, even in small things and under-value my beneficence to them, even in great things.
O Lord, let me lower my voice for them.
Let my speech be agreeable to them
Soften my conduct towards them.
Let my heart be kind to them.
Make me tender and lenient unto them both.
O Lord, reward them for bringing me up.
Recompense them for loving me.
Guard them as they guarded me in the my infancy.
O Lord, whatever pain they may have received from me, whatever displeasure may have been caused to them by me or whatever duty owed to them that was left unperformed by me, let that be a pardon of their sins, and exaltation of their rank and an addition to their good deeds.
O Thou, who does change evil deeds into multiplied good deeds!
O Lord, that speech in which they were unjust to me. or that action in which they were extravagant against me. or such of my claims as they failed to satisfy, or such debts as they failed to discharge, verily, I forgive it to them and favour them therewith.
I turn unto Thee with a view to removing the penalty thereof from them.
For verily I do not accuse them falsely of having done something to my hurt, nor do I deem them negligent in doing good to me, nor do I despite the care they took of me, O Lord!
Because their claim upon me is so great, their benevolence to me so magnificent and I am highly obliged to them, that I cannot fairly meet, it nor repay them as they deserve.
O my God, how can I repay them for their tedious employment in bringing me up.
For their hard labour in guarding me.
For their self-denied to lavish comfort upon me.!
Alas! alas (I cannot).
Their claim can never be satisfied by me, nor can I perceive what is due from me unto them nor can I fully discharge the duty of serving them!
Therefore, bless Muhammad and his descendants. Help me, O best of all those whose assistance is solicited. Give me grace, O Greatest of Guides, towards whom people turn.
Do not let me be of those who wronged their fathers and mothers on the day wherein " every soul shall be paid what it has merited and they shall not be treated with injustice.
O lord, bless Muhammad and his descendants.
Distinguish my parent, in particular with the best distinctions which Thou hast conferred upon the fathers and mothers of Thy true believing servants, O Most Merciful.
O lord, do not let me forget to remember them after my ritual prayers, at every time of my night and at every hour of my day.
O God, bless Muhammad and his descendants.
Forgive me for the sake of my prayers for them.
Grant a sure pardon to them because of their goodness to me.
Be perfectly satisfied with them through my intercession for them.
Bring them by Thy Mercy into places of safety.
O God, If Thy Pardon for them has preceded (my prayers), than make them intercessors for me.
If Thy pardon for me has preceded (Thy forgiving them.) than make me an intercessor for them so that we may be gathered by Thy Mercy in the place of Thy grace, the place of thy pardon and Mercy.
For verily Thou art the one Whose Munificence is Great, Whose kindness is eternal. Thou art the Most Merciful."
- Al-Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyyah, Prayer number 24 (For parents)
No matter how hard or how long I tried, I would not be able to observe the sensitive and important subjects on fathers and mothers as it is apparent from the beautiful and meaningful and concise words of our Fourth Imam. Every single sentence of his statements are an indication of how deeply he thinks and of how knowledgeable he is. Such words can come only from an individual of excellent caliber and a pious man as Imam Sajjad (as). Hearing him had such an impact upon me as if he woke me up from a deep and long sleep. I pray to Allah, by the glory of this holy man and his words, to grant me that ability to put these words practice.
28. The Limited Obedience
My child! As important as it is to obey your father and mother, you should know that is not an absolute must. In instances where the parents are corrupt and they encourage the child in doing wrong and illegal actions, one ought not obey them. Nevertheless, treating them with respect is always recommended. The almighty Allah says:
"But if they strive to make thee join in worship with me, things of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not, yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration)"
- The Holy Qur'an 31:15
Imam Ali (as) in Nahjul-Balaghah, which after the Glorious Qur'an is the best guide for mankind, says:
"An obligation of a child to his father is to obey him in all but not sinfulness actions."
- Nahjul Balaghah p. 546
Yes, what you are saying is absolute truth. Of course, breaking Allah's rules even upon the insistence of father and mother is wrong.
My beloved child! You are not only advised to treat your parents with respect in their lifetime, but after they die too, you must speak of them with honour. You must beg Allah to forgive them. For, if you are a child worthy of your father, you can still earn your parents rewards from Allah.
Imam al-Sadiq (as) says:
"After a man dies, he can still rewards from Allah in three different ways:
1. From what he has left behind which still benefits he public.
2. From establishing a useful tradition be followed by others after his death, and
3. From prayers done in his name by pious child."
- Wafi part 13, p. 90
So, when your parents are dead and no longer are able to do rewarding deeds for themselves, you can come to their help. You can be thinking of them and make them happy by asking Allah to bless their souls. As they thought of you throughout their lives.
I pray to Allah to keep you and protect you for many years to come, and to succeed in doing my best in fulfilling my obligations to you; and to make both of you absolutely happy with me.
30. The Eldest Brother
My child! In the same way that fathers are worthy of everybody's respect, the eldest brothers ought to be honoured by all their siblings. Furthermore, the later should regard him as their father.
Our Eighth Imam al-Rida (as) had a saying in this regard:
"الاخ الاكبر بمنزلة الاب."
"Your eldest brother is like your father."
- Wafi, part 14, p. 79
Of course, he deserves such a high respect provided that his attitudes towards all his siblings are as that of his father. He is to treat them with brotherly love and compassion. Be nice rather than cruel to them at times. In short, be like a father to them.
31. Caring For the Family and The Mankind
My child! In same manner that one should honour and respect his parents, it is appropriate that he be compassionate to his spouse, children, brothers, sisters and all his relatives, so life would become pleasant for him.
Lord Aviboury says:
"One must have love and kindness in every aspect of life. What is a home without love likes? How is life possible in such a home? It is possible to have a beautiful building equipped with all facilities and appliances. But such a place without love is noting less than hell. On the other hand, if you base you home on love and friendship, you can live there in happiness forever after."
- In Search of Happiness, pp. 107, 139
He further continues:
"Life in this world is like dream.1 It does not last long. Here man is like a drop of dew that shines of a few moments then suddenly he disappears. In this case, why should we spend this short life with misery and hardship? In our short lifetime, we should love one another and enjoy each others friendship."
- In Search of Happiness, pp. 107, 139
Of course, loving and caring for family, relatives and friends and all mankind, brightens our hearts and makes life a more pleasant and joyous one to live.
32. The Spiritual Fathers
My child! As in the same way that you are greatly indebted to your parents, we are obligated to the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and to our other religious pioneers and leaders. Our Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) founded the religion of Islam. Imam Ali (as) and other Imams strengthened its foundation as far as they possibly could propagate it, and struggled diligently for the betterment of Islam and the Muslims. They took great pains in strengthening and protecting Islam's roots against dangerous and cataclysmic events throughout their lives.
These true leaders have always had people's interest in mind and have issued instructions for people to follow in order to achieve complete happiness in life. Through their divine influence on masses, they were able to attract their unshakeable loyalty. The later were even willing to sacrifice their own lives for the Imams.
Through following their philosophy, one can learn about perseverance, faith, strong belief, struggling for the cause of liberty, self sacrifice, serving others, suppressing injustice, assisting the oppressed and finally bout love for human beings. My child! The entire world pay homage to the excellent thoughts and firm institutions of our religious leaders.
Of course, to be fair to our religious leaders is to put their words of guidance into practice. and to model our actions after their actions. If we could sincerely implement their guidelines our society will become the most dynamic, prosperous community of mankind. Simply, knowing their noble characters and greeting and remembering them with honour, is not enough. I say so, because I know of people who speak of their love and respect for our Imams and utter excellent salutations after upon hearing their names and even in some instances, will rise in their honour, but when it comes to act according to their instructions, it is something else. They forget all about them.
In my opinion these sort of people simply deceive themselves, and feel happy that they are the followers of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), Imam Ali (as), and other religious leaders. Because their acts and deed do not reflect any traces from these exalted leaders. Certainly, the Prophet and innocent Imams are unhappy with these type of people. As Islam is a practical religion, only those who adhere to and practice according to its principles, will benefit from Islam.
33. The Teacher's Rights
In addition to parents obligations, Islam attaches special regards for the teachers right. We must appreciate their existence and should discharge our duties and obligations towards them. Is believed that Imam Ali (as) has said.
"The one, who had taught me one word had indeed earned the rights of master hood upon me."
It is the teacher who fights ignorance or in other words fights illiteracy. He sacrifices his productive years educating and nourishing peoples minds. Finally, it is he who delivers these services and through his endeavours brings value to the society.
A famous Iraqi poet by the name Rassafi has written a beautiful and meaningful poem in praising teachers, describing their contributions in an appropriate manner, as follows:
"اذا كان هل الناس مدعاة "Whenever ignorance misleads people, there is nothing for progress except learning. If I am asked, 'when people are deep in corruption, who is the one who can save them out of its? I would "the teacher'. The teacher of the children of the country, are also their physicians who treat their ignorance. As lack of knowledge is pathogenic. The teacher is like a bright star shining in the society's sky, who guide the knowledge seekers to glory and greatness.
Do not underestimate your indebtedness to your teacher. It equals that to your parents and even more. Your wisdom comes from your teacher while your muscles and bones are from your parents. It is our duty to teach the illiterate and it is theirs to learn. Allah has not commanded the people to learn without first making arrangement of divine teachers (the prophets) and the heavenly books.
- Iraqi peot Rassafi
A Persian poet too, says:
"Higher than rank of the father is that of the teacher. As the former nourishes one's body while the later. his soul." George Herbet says: "O God! You have provided for us in every way. At first with our parents to bring us up, and later with our teachers to nourishes our minds and to teach us the laws of intellect."
- The Book of Ethics, Part 1. p. 37
Immanuel Kant says:
"It is only through education that man can culturally become a most complete or perfect human being. In fact he is the result of his education."
- The Philosophy of Education, Vol. 1 p. 41
In general, teachers, professors and those serving others through educational activities play an important part in people's happiness. One can easily state that the people's future depends on the way the educators educate them.
Of course they should be sincerely devoted teaching and should bestow knowledge upon their pupils. They must possess a pure heart and be of excellent character to succeed in educating good-natured and enlightened students. Because to receive good quality education and to learn good character, the students are entrusted to them. Only after they have successfully taught their students, the teachers have fulfilled their grave duty. An accomplished teacher succeeds in replacing evil characters by food ones. Of course, such teachers are worthy of high recognition and respect and are considered valuable and useful to the society.
34. The Fatherly Guidance
My child! Do take advantage of your youth and do not waste it. Use those unreturnable years to prepare yourself for your golden years. Bravery is not when one spends his younger years in lewdness and drunkenness. Rather, it is when, in spite of his youthfulness and energy, protects himself against any kind of sinful act, and to put his future's well being ahead of his sensual desires and to follow his intellectual judgment in every situation.
There are some young people who know nothing about good mannerism and good behaviour. They should try to better themselves while there is still a chance and before it becomes too late. They should also free themselves from indulgence in their own desires. Instead, they should try to conduct themselves with modesty and to protect themselves behind a strong shield of chastity.
But, unfortunately, sometimes they are so deeply involved in such a degree of neglect that they cannot find a way out and fail to have any foresight. Undoubtedly, someday they will be sorry, But then, it will be too late as they have lost all their chances. My child! I am afraid you will grow up to be one of them. Choosing to lead a rebellious life, you may have a future similar to theirs.
Your fear about my future is justified because one can expect just about anything from an inexperienced young individual. But, I am hoping that with your guidance and advice you will help me find the right path and that I will be able to follow it steadfastly.
35. A Word of Advise
The Father :
My child! Improving and refining you character and manners in more important than learning a trade or a skill and it is of more value for you than an education. I say so because an education without a good character to accompany it, and a skill in the absence of a good nature are just useless! My child! Arm yourself withy good morals and pay as much attention to your conscience as to you physical appearance. My child! Do you wish for me to be like a mirror for you to tell you about your good and bad deeds? And you good and bad qualities?
And if I ever tell you of them, will you then stop the bad ones? And will you keep up with the good ones? And will you better yourself in this way? How nice it would be if you decide to do so. My child! Stay away from associating with evil-natured people. Avoid mixing with them, as it will destroy you. Many a celebrated youth who kept company of unsuitable people became misguided: and many corrupt individual.
who associated with the virtuous became virtuous himself.1
My child! If you do not learn from my advice, nature itself will teach you! The life's hardships and difficulties will punish you. The common everyday problems in life will knock you off your feet. Only then, you will realize that we have always had your interest and will-being in mind. And so far, all we have shown you has been a straight and safe path - and not a slippery one. And what we have warned you against has been a slippery path - and not a straight and safe one!
What an honour and pleasure for me that you be my tutor to bring to my attention my good and gad characteristics through honest criticism. So if you see any wrong doing in me. please first make me aware of it. And then show me the solution and how to correct myself. If I am corrected, it would be only, because of you and if I am not, please do not persist in correcting me. And do not turn away from me and please do not set me free on my own.
36. Words of Inspiration
The Father :
My child! I take the Dua (prayer) that our fourth Imam, Imam Sajjad (as), is using as a wish for his children as words of inspiration, and thus, I ask Allah to make the same wish come true for you.
O Lord, oblige me by sparing my issue from death, by educating them for me and by blessing me with them.
My God, prolong their lives form
Increase their terms of existence for me. Bring up those of tender years for me.
Strengthen the weak ones for me.
Heal their bodies, faith and morals.
Let them be safe in soul and body and in everything in I am anxious about concerning them.
Let their sustenance flow into my hand.
Let them by virtuous, pious, able to see and hear, obedient unto Thee, and lovers and well-wishers of Thy friends and hostile and implacable to all Thy enemies. Amen.!
O Lord, strengthen my arm with them and straighten with them my crookedness.
Enlarge my number because of them. Adorn my society with them.
Keep my memory alive by means of the.
Make them take care of my affairs in my absence.
Help me with them to satisfy my need.
Let the love me, be kind unto me, favourable, faithful, obedient, not disobedient, not wicked, nor adverse nor guilty.
Help me in training them, educating them and in doing good to them.
Grant me from Thee male descendants among them. Let this be a benefit to me.
Let them be my helpers in whatever I ask of Thee. Protect me and my offspring from Satan, the stoned one. For verily Thou didst create us, commands us, put prohibitions upon us and encouraged us with the reward for doing what Thou didst.
threaten us with punishment for disobedience. Thou hast made him our enemy who deceived us. Thou hast given him dominion over some of us while over some of them. Thou hast not given us dominion. Thou hast established him in our breasts and made him run through our blood passages. He is not careless even if we forget. He makes us feel secure from Thy torment and threatens us with (the punishment of some one) other than Thee. If we intend some glaring sin he encourages us in it. If wed intend to do any good thing, he hinders us. He exposes irresistible appetites to us and raises doubts for us. If he made promises to us, he lies and if he holds out hopes to us, he disappoints us.
If Thou dost not turn his cunning away from us he shall mislead us. If Thou dost not guard us from his corruption, he shall cause us to err. Therefore, O lord, overthrow his authority over us with Thy Power till Thou completely restraint him from us owing to our diligent prayer to Thee so that we may pass out of the power of his cunning into the group of those defended by Thee.
O lord, grant me all my desires.
Satisfy my needs.
Do not refuse me Thy answer whilst Thou hast given surety for it to me.
Do not keep off my prayer from Thee while Thou hast required it of me.
Favour me with all that will do me good in this world and the next, whatever I remember of if and whatever I have forgotten, expressed, concealed, revealed or withheld.
Let me be (by my imploring Thee Alone) of the righteous,
of those who are successful in applying to Thee, of those who benefit by their bargains with Thee, of those who take refuge in Thy Majesty, of those who have abundance of lawful sustenance conferred on them by Thy boundless Kindness. Thy Bounty and Generosity: of those who are exalted to hounour from disgrace by Thee;
Of those who seek shelter from tyranny in Thy Justice;
Of those who are safe from calamity with Thy Grace;
Of those who are raised to prosperity from poverty by Thy endless Wealth.
Of those who are protected from sins, slips and error by fear of Thee;
Of those who have grace for goodness, virtue and righteousness owing to their obedience to Thee;
Of those having a barrier between them and sins because of Thy Power;
Of those who renounce of all sins;
Of those who dwell in Thy neighborhood.
O lord, grant us all this with Thy Grace and Mercy.
Protect us from the torment of hell.
Favour all the Muslim men and women and true believers, male and female, with the like of what I have gagged of Thee for myself and my offspring in the present world and the future.
Verily, thou art Nigh, Answering, Hearing, Knowing, Overlooking, Forgiving, Compassionate and Merciful.
Confer on us good in this world and the next and guard us from the torment of the fire.
- Al-Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyyah, Prayer, No,25
(For his offspring)
I have heard that parent's prayers for their children will be granted. I pray to almighty All to grant you all you have asked for Him because of good and pure intention. And to realize all your prayers for me.
My beloved child! Now that my hair has turned white and my strength is weaking and daily sunset reminds me of the sunset of my life, I am most proud that I have a child like you! And I am most happy that I have raised a child like you.!
Undoubtedly, in the moments of my life, when my breaths are numbered, I wish to open my eyes and my heart of you. Alas! then at that time my tongue will be failing and my strength will disappear, I shall be looking around to find some way out and find someone to interpret my inner thoughts, but I will not be able to do so.1 And hopelessly, I will gaze at you I will give thanks to Allah, who granted such an opportunity, and such a blessed moment, so that I could tell you all there is to say. And to take a load off my mind.
I also give thanks to Gracious Allah for the opportunity to be able to hear the heart-to-heart words of kind hearted father, s this is a rare gift that is not granted to everybody and Allah does not bestow it upon each and everyone.
38. The Final Words
My beloved! Concentrate for a moment and think of the conclusion of your life. If you find my words of advice as I meant them to be, then correct yourself. And respect the rights of your father and mother and do not hesitate in fulfilling your obligations to them. And if you did not find them so, I will leave it then, up to you. And let Allah take care of you. I will beg him to give you a happy and prosperous life. And to protect forever under his auspices.
I wish to thank you for your useful words of advice. They are all logical. I hope I will be able to put them into practice and treat you satisfactorily.