Good Intention and Sound Heart
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Islam has enjoined to treat others with good intention and sound heart. These two traits can be achieved by founding one’s social relations on the fact that Almighty Allah witnesses the outward and inward thoughts and feelings. In this connection, Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: Whoever keeps in order his affairs with Allah (i.e. follows His orders sincerely), Allah will also put his affairs with men in order. Whoever arranges for his salvation, Allah will arrange his worldly affairs. Whoever preaches to himself, Allah will also protect him.¯1
Control over Emotions and Blameworthy Qualities
The Holy Legislator has forbidden a set of psychological and emotional tendencies, and passivity in the field of social relations. Negative emotions arouse a pessimistic attitude towards man’s social and spiritual progress Islam has seriously warned against them.
These blameworthy qualities are:
Love of Domination
Because the desire to dominate people is a psychological tendency that expresses itself through man’s emotions and feelings, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) discouraged it, observing it in the corrupt chiefs of the Muslim community in that era. Holding a position of presidency has become a forbidden thing, in the view of some jurisprudents, if establishment of justice is not guaranteed, and there is the probability that it would lead to wronging the people or acting arrogantly—the two major serious effects of such positions.
Mu’ammar ibn Khalid has reported that Imam al-Ridha (‘a) condemned someone because he was fond of domination. The Imam (‘a) commented, The destruction caused by two ravenous wolves that attack a shepherdless herd does not injure the faith of a Muslim individual more than fondness for domination.¯2
‘Abdullah ibn Maskan has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Beware of those chiefs who are fond of domination. By Allah: any man after whom shoes are stamped heavily¯3 will certainly perish and send others to perdition.¯4
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported, on the authority of his fathers, to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying within the famous tradition of prohibitions (hadith al-manahi)
Verily, whoever assumes the leadership of a people shall come on the Day of Resurrection with both hands tied behind his neck. If he has managed their affairs according to what Almighty Allah has commanded, he will be released by Him, but if he has been unjust to his people, Almighty Allah will throw him into Hellfire; an evil destination indeed!¯5
The Holy Legislator and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have warned against anger and its negative impact on social relations and self-perfection. They have then presented some methods of treatment that will cure this psychological state that affects man’s relations with others.
Pointing out the bad effects of anger, the Holy Imams (‘a) are reported to have said: Anger spoils faith in the same way as vinegar does honey.¯6
Anger is the key to all evil.¯7
A true believer is exclusively one whose anger does not make him transgress the truth when enraged.¯8
Whoever restrains his rage from people, Allah the Blessed and Exalted, will restrain the torture of the Day of Resurrection from him.¯9
Any man who is angry with another must immediately sit down if he is standing up. If he does so, the unhealthy frenzy of Satan will depart from him. One who is angry with one of his relatives must come close and touch him, because a blood relation calms down when touched.¯10
Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported Mu’alla ibn Khunays to have quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as relating the following anecdote: One day, a man asked the Holy Prophet (S) to give him an all-inclusive advise. “Never be angry,” the Holy Prophet (S) taught. Contenting himself with this advice, the man left for home. He found them standing in lines and arming themselves to fight against another people. After he had also armed himself to participate in that fighting, the man recalled the Holy Prophet’s advice not to be angry. He therefore threw his weapon away and walked towards the other party, saying: “Whatever wound or murder that was committed against you by my people, I will be responsible for it and I will pay its blood-money from my own fortune.” Noticing the chivalry of this man, the other party declared, “We renounce any right that is ours against your people, because we are worthier of being lenient than you are.” Thus, the two parties made up, their anger forgotten.¯11
Defined as the feeling of resentfulness or discontented longing for the removal of another person's better fortune, situation, or the like blessings that Almighty Allah has endued him with, envy is forbidden by the Holy Legislator.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: Verily, envy consumes one’s faith in the same way as fire consumes firewood.¯12
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Almighty Allah said to (Prophet) Moses, the son of ‘Imran: Never envy people for whatever favor I have bestowed upon them. Never strain your eyes after that favor and never yearn for it. Verily, an envier is resentful of my boons and critical of My division (of favors) that I have decided for My servants. Whoever is characterized by envy, does not belong to Me, nor do I belong to him.¯13
It is worth mentioning that envy is different from the feeling of delight that man feels when he notices that Almighty Allah has endued some people with His favors. In this respect, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: A true faithful believer feels glad but never envies, while a hypocrite envies and never feels glad (at seeing others being granted graces by God).¯14
Disdain and Fanaticism
The Holy Legislator has also warned against the agitation of familial fanaticism and being overcome by the feelings and emotions that it arouses. However, partisanship that is not absolutely condemned in Islam has been delimited by Imam Zayn al-’Abidin as follows: Familial fanaticism is, considering wicked members of one’s own family to be better than righteous individuals of another family. To love the people of one’s family is not considered fanaticism; however, to help them practice wrongdoing is.¯15
From this definition as well as the general concept of tribalism, we can conclude that tribalism stands for taking sides with a certain party and acting loyally towards some people although they are recognized as wrong.¯16
Tribalism has something to do with justice and fair play, to emotions and feelings that Islam has ordered to control and restrain. Many traditions forbidding tribalism, have been reported from the Holy Imams (‘a).
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is authentically reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever takes sides with someone fanatically or is patronized on account of tribalism, has in fact taken off the loop of faith from his neck.¯17
Arrogance, self-conceit, and boasting
Islam has forbidden arrogance and conceit, and forbidden their demonstration while dealing with people.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a), or Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), is authentically reported to have said: He never enters Paradise that has any amount of arrogance in his heart, be it as insignificant as the weight of a grain of mustard.¯18
It has been also reported that the first act of disobedience to Almighty Allah was based on arrogance; that is the disobedience shown by Satan when he demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever.¯19
Arrogance is defined as despising people and ridiculing the truth. According to some validly reported narrations, this kind of arrogance is the gravest.
‘Abd al-A’la ibn A’yun reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying
The gravest kind of arrogance is to despise creatures and to ridicule the truth.
The reporter asked, “What is meant by despising creatures and ridiculing the truth?”
The Imam (‘a) explained, It is to disregard the truth and look down on those who follow it. Whoever does so has in fact tried to divest Almighty Allah of His garment.20
Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Yazid has reported that his father said to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), “I usually eat the best quality of food, use the best perfumes, ride on the most comfortable animals, and make my servant follow me. Do such deeds include any sign of arrogance? If so, I will no longer do any of them.”
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) nodded his head down and then said: The accursed people for their arrogance are only those who despise people and ridicule the truth.
The man said, “As for me, I do not ignore the truth. As for despising people, indeed, I do not know what this means!”
The Imam (‘a) explained, He who disparages people and behaves tyrannically towards them is the true arrogant.¯21
As inferred from their traditions, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have explained the reason behind arrogant behavior to be feelings of imperfection and a senses of inferiority that the arrogant find in themselves.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said: Any arrogant behavior is because of inferiority that the arrogant find in themselves.¯22
Similarly, the Imam (‘a) is reported to have said: Any man who behaves arrogantly or tyrannically must feel a sense of inferiority within himself.¯23
As is confirmed in many traditions, stubbornness and refusal to respect others are examples of arrogance.
In a validly reported tradition, Husayn ibn Abi’l-’Ala' has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Arrogance can be found in evil people of various classes. Arrogance is the robe of Almighty Allah; therefore, whoever tries to divest Him of His robe, will increase in nothing but lowliness.
Proving his statement, the Imam (‘a) reported the following story: One day, the Holy Prophet (S) was in one of the public ways of Madinah where a black woman was picking up dung. It was informed to make way for the Holy Prophet (S), but she refused and said, “The way is too wide.” Some of the Holy Prophet’s companions tried to punish her, but the Holy Prophet (S) said, “Leave her! She is a tyrant.”¯24
Greed, Lethargy, and Foolishness
The Holy Legislator has discommended another set of emotions and passions because their effects and results are negative and harmful to man’s social and personal progress. When such emotions are borne in mind, man becomes a captive of others, violates the rights of others, or isolates and detaches himself from society.
Greed is one of these emotions that bring about an ill behavioral consequence.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: Terribly evil is the slave (of God) who is steered by his greed. Terribly evil is the slave who is humiliated by his desire.25
Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) has said: I have perceived that the entire good lies in cutting off one’s greed for what others possess.¯26
In its social aspect, lethargy is another discommended condition that results in violation of the others’ rights.
In his instruction to Imam ‘Ali (‘a), the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: If you slacken, you will not be able to carry out any of your duties.¯27
The Holy Prophet (S) is also reported to have said within a lengthy discourse, … if he is lethargic then he will have violated rights.¯28
In one of his addresses to his son, Imam al-Kazim (‘a) is reported to have said: Beware of weariness and lethargy, because these two deprive you of your share from this worldly life and the Next Life.¯29
Foolishness and ignorance, defined as psychological and spiritual conditions due to which man goes against the social limits and rules of conduct in speech and discourse with people in general, are among the discommended feelings. Also considered the best examples of misbehavior, foolishness and ignorance push individuals to say and act without deliberation or reasoning.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Verily, foolishness is a mean trait. The foolish have the cheek to challenge those of a lower class and submit to those of an upper class.¯30
He (‘a) is also reported to have said: Do not be foolish, because your Imams are not such.¯31
According to another validly reported tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Verily, the most offensive creature of Almighty Allah is a sharp-tongued servant (of Him) whom people try to avoid due to his impudence.¯32
Whoever repays the foolish with foolishness has in fact been satisfied with what he receives from the foolish, because he has imitated them.33
1. - Nahj al-Balaghah, Sayings No. 89.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:279, S. 50, H. 1.
3. - This expression is a metonymy of flattering the leading personalities who are usually followed by a class of people who compete with each other in occupying the first line after them. [Translator]
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:279, S. 50, H. 4.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:282, S. 50, H. 14.
6. ¯- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:286, S. 53, H. 1.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:286, S. 53, H. 2.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:286, S. 53, H. 3.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:286, S. 53, H. 4.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:286, S. 53, H. 6.
11. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:304, H. 11.
12. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:306, H. 2.
13. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:307, H. 6.
14. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:293, S. 55, H. 7.
15. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:308, H. 7.
16. - Confirming this meaning, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported that Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) said, Every act of tribalism will not be allowed Paradise except the tribalism of Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib who embraced Islam in rage for the Holy Prophet (s), his nephew, after the famous incident of the camel’s placenta being thrown on the Holy Prophet (s).
See Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:308, H. 5.
The incident involved is as follows: Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has reported that when the Holy Prophet (s) was once in the Holy Mosque putting on new clothes, the polytheists threw on him a camel’s placenta covering all his clothes with it. He became so furious that he went to his uncle, Abu-Talib, and said, “O uncle! How do you regard me among you?” “Why are you asking this, my brother’s son?” asked Abu-Talib. The Holy Prophet (s) narrated the whole story. Immediately, Abu-Talib took his sword, called upon Hamzah, his brother, and ordered him, “Take this placenta and let us go to these people.” The people of Quraysh were around the Ka’bah when Abu-Talib, accompanying Hamzah and the Holy Prophet (s), came to them. As they saw him, they knew for sure that he was extremely angry. Then, Abu-Talib ordered Hamzah to throw that placenta on their upper lips, without missing any one of them. When Hamzah finished, Abu-Talib turned his face to his nephew and said, “Thus do we regard you among us, son of my brother!” See Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 1:449, H. 30.
17. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:308, H. 2.
18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:306, S. 60, H. 1.
19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:308, S. 61, H. 2.
20. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:306, S. 60, H. 3.
21. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:307, S. 60, H. 5.
22. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:303, S. 59, H. 2.
23. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:303, S. 59, H. 3.
24. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:303, S. 59, H. 4.
25. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:321, S. 67, H. 2.
26. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:321, S. 67, H. 3.
27. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:320, S. 66, H. 2.
28. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:320, S. 66, H. 3.
29. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 11:320, S. 66, H. 4.
30. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:322, H. 1.
31. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:322, H. 2.
32. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:322, H. 4.
33. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:322, H. 3.