General Islamic Ethics
Moral conduct is a mood arousing good behavior with others by showing happy mien, nice wording, and kind manners. As he was asked about the limit of moral conduct, Imam as-Sadiq (a) answered:
"It is to be modest, speak honorably, and meet your brother cheerfully."
One of the expectations that every judicious individual exerts efforts for achieving is to have an attractive personality. It is surely a noble aim that cannot be attained by everyone except the virtuous and those who are characterized by knowledgeability, liberality, courage, and the like good traits.
All virtues, however, cannot be true matters of admiration unless they are connected to moral conduct. On that account, moral conduct is the core and pivot of virtues. The Ahl ul-Bayt (a) used a variety of instructive methods in favor of glorifying the moral conduct so remarkably:
The Prophet (s) said: "The best of you are the most well-mannered and generous ones who go on intimate terms with people and people go on intimate terms with them, and whose places of residence are frequently trodden on by guests." 5
"He who has a good nature will have the reward of those who observe fasting in days and keep awake praying at nights." 6
"You cannot treat people by means of your wealth; hence, you should treat them by means of your moral conduct." 7
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: "The most perfect believers, 8 in the sight of faith, are the most well-mannered."9
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "After the fulfillment of the obligatory religious duties, the most favorable thing that a servant offers to Allah is to extend the moral conducts over people." 10
"Allah gives a servant for his moral conduct the same reward that He gives to the mujahid." 11
"The moral conduct dissolves sins in the same way as the sun dissolves snow." 12
"Piety and moral conduct construct the countries and prolong the ages." 13
"If you want to be respected, you should be lenient, and if you want to be disrespected, you may be severe." 14
God did not send any messenger to people before He had adorned him with moral conduct, which is, then, the symbol of the prophets' virtues and the title of their personalities.
The Prophet Mohammed (s) was the ideal example of moral conduct, as well as the other high moral standards. By means of his ideal moralities, he could seize the hearts, and deserved, worthily, the praise of God:
"Most surely, you conform yourself to sublime morality. (68:4)"
Imam Ali (a), describing the moralities of the holy Prophet (s), said: "He was the most generous, the bravest, the most truthful and the most faithful, and in terms of temper, the most lenient and in terms of association, the most honorable. Any one seeing him for the first time is filled with awe, and any one associating with him loves him. I have never seen his like before and after him." 15
As a picture of the Prophet's moral conduct, it is sufficient to refer to his story with people of Koreish 16 who allied each other against him and showed him various sorts of bitterness that obliged him to flee his hometown. When God gave him victory against them, they were quite sure he would revenge himself upon them. He said nothing to them but, 'what do you think I am going to do with you?' 'Only the good, for you are a noble brother and the son of a noble brother,' answered they. He said: 'I will repeat the same wording of my brother Joseph the prophet: (Today, you are not condemned.) Go, you are released.'
I was with the Prophet who was putting a garment of a tough margin when a Bedouin pulled him so violently that the margin of his garment left an effect on his neck. 'Mohammed,' said the Bedouin, 'load on my two camels with the fortune of God that is in your possession, because it is neither yours nor your father's.'
The Prophet (s) kept silent for a while before he said, 'The fortune is Allah's, and I am His servant.' He then added, 'Do you, Bedouin, not think you will be retaliated for you deed?'
'No, I do not,' answered the Bedouin.
'Why?' asked the Prophet.
The Bedouin said, 'Because you do not set evil for an evil.'
The Prophet laughed and ordered to load on the back of the Bedouin's camel with barley and wheat. 17
Amir ul-Mu'minin 18 (a) narrated:
The Prophet (s) told the very rich Jew whom he had owed a few dinars 19 that he had nothing to pay him back at that time. The Jew decided not to leave the Prophet before he would pay him. The Prophet therefore sat with him. In the same place, he offered the Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Eshaa, and Fajr prayers. As he noticed that his companions were threatening that Jew, the Prophet (s) looked at them and said, 'What are you doing?' 'God's Messenger,' said they, 'he is detaining you.' The Prophet answered, 'Allah has not sent me to wrong any person, including the followers of other religions.'
As soon as the day broke, the Jew declared, 'I declare there in no god but Allah and that Mohamed is His servant and messenger. I will dedicate half of my fortune to the cause of God. By God I swear, I only did so to notice the conformity of your descriptions to these that are mentioned in the Torah. I have seen your characteristics in the Torah: Mohammed son of Abdullah, the born in Mecca, will emigrate to Teeba. He is neither rude nor coarse nor abusive nor adorned with obscenity. I declare there is no god but Allah and you are surely the messenger of God. This is my fortune: I offer it to you so that you will apply to it the rules that God has revealed.'20
Thus were the sinless Imams with regard to the excellence of moralities:
Imam Abu Mohammed al-Askari (a) related:
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a), once, received the two faithful men who visited him so warmly, honored them, and asked them to sit in the head of his session. They were a father and his son. After they had finished the meal that the Imam served to them, Qanbar -his servant- brought a washtub, a wooden pitcher, and a handkerchief. Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) took the pitcher to pour water on the hands of the guest. The man refused so intensely, but Amir ul-Mu'minin insisted on pouring water on his hand and asked him to behave as if it was Qanbar who would do so to him. The man did. Amir ul-Mu'minin, then, handed the pitcher to his son Mohammed ibn al-Hanafiyya and said, 'son, if that son had visited me alone without his father, I myself would have poured water on his hand. Allah does not accept to put fathers and sons on the same level when they are in the same place. Since the father poured on the hands of the father, the son then should pour on the hands of the son."
Hence, Mohammed poured on the hands of the son.
On this event, Imam al-Askari (a) commented:
"He who copies Ali in this deed is the true Shiite." 21
It is related that Imams al-Hasan and al-Hussein once noticed an old man performing the ritual ablution incorrectly. They avoided stating to him directly; hence, they agreed on making him the arbiter who should rule of the most accurate ablution. As they performed the ablution before him, the old man said, "Sirs! You both have performed the very accurate ablution, but it seems that the old man can master nothing. He now declares his repentance out of your blessing and mercy to the members of your grandfather's community" 22
It is also related that, once, a servant of Imam al-Hussein (a) committed a mistake that caused him to be punished. The Imam therefore gave the orders of beating him.
"Sir," said the servant, "(Remember God's saying) those who refrain the anger." The Imam, hence, ordered to release him.
"Sir," said the servant, "(Remember God's saying) and those who forgive people."
The Imam, hence, forgave him.
"Sir," said the servant, "(Remember God's saying) and Allah loves those who do good."
The Imam said, "Go, you are free for the sake of Allah. I will also double your payment" 23
As-Sawli narrated the following:
A disagreement occurred between al-Hussein and Mohammed ibn al-Hanafiyya who wrote to his brother: "So then, brother! Your and my father is the same. You are not preferred to me and I am not preferred to you in this point. Regarding your mother Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of God, if my mother possesses gold that is filling the earth, she will never reach the standing of your mother. If you read this missive, you may visit me so that I will please you. You are surely worthier of virtue than I am. Peace and God's grace and blessings be upon you."
Al-Hussein did, and they were no longer engaged in any disagreement.
Mohammed ibn Ja'far and others narrated the following:
A kinsman of Ali ibn al-Hussein (a) stood in front of him and insulted. The Imam, however, did not reply. When the man went away, the Imam said to his companions: "You have heard what that man had said. I want you to come with me so that you may hear my reply."
"We will," we replied, "we, however, wanted you to answer him."
The Imam took his shoes and went reciting (God's saying): (Those who refrain from anger and those who forgive the people. Allah loves those who do good.)
We understood that he would not say anything to that man.
When the Imam was in front of that man's house, he shouted (at the servants), "Tell him that it is Ali ibn al-Hussein."
The man rushed out towards us with evil intent. He had no doubt that the purpose of the Imam's attendance had been to repay him for some of his evil deeds.
"Brother," said Ali ibn al-Hussein, "you stood proudly over me and overspoke. If you have said what is really in my character, I then seek Allah's forgiveness. If you have said what is not in my character, Allah may forgive you!"
The man kissed the Imam between the eyes and confessed: "I said what was not in your character. In fact, I am worthier of seeking God's forgiveness." 24
Ali ibn al-Hussein (a) narrated: Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) went for facing the three individuals who had sworn by Lat and Uzza 25and took upon themselves the pledge of killing the Prophet (s)… He could kill one and capture the others. When he carried out the Prophet's order of advancing one of them before him, the Prophet (s) asked him to declare that there is no god but Allah and that he is His messenger. The man answered: "To move the unshakable Mount Abu Qubays is easier for me than uttering this statement." Hence, the Prophet (s) asked Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) to behead him. The same thing was said to the other man whose answer was, "attach me to the previous." The Prophet (s), also, asked Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) to attach him to the previous. In this very time, the Archangel Gabriel descended and said to the Prophet (s): "Mohammed, your Lord sends His salaams to you and asks you not to kill this one, because he was well-mannered and openhanded with his people." The Prophet (s) shouted at Amir ul-Mu'minin: "Ali, stop it. The messenger of my Lord has just told me that this man was well-mannered and openhanded with his people." As he heard the Prophet's statement, the man who was under the edge of the sword wondered: "Was it the messenger of your Lord who told you of this?" The Prophet (s) said: "Yes, it was."
The man said: "By God I swear, I have never possessed a single dirham 26 while a brother of mine does not have it. I also have never frowned my face in warfare. I now declare that there is no god but Allah and you are surely the messenger of God." The Prophet (s) commented: "This is a man whose moral conduct and openhandedness have drawn him to the gardens of bliss." 27
Ill-temper is a mental aberrance that causes depression and truculence. It is the opposite of moral conduct. Often the repercussions of ill-temper intensify to the degree that it results in a variety of tragedies and physical and mental crises. The meanness of ill-temper appears clearly through God's words addressed to the Prophet (s):
"And had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you."
Let us now refer to some texts in this regard:
The Prophet (s) said: "Hold fast on moral conduct, for it will unquestionably be in Paradise. Beware of ill-temper, for it will unquestionably be in Hell."
"Allah does not allow the ill-tempered to repent… Whenever the ill-tempered repents from a sin, he engages himself in another greater one."
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "If you want to be respected, you should be lenient, and if you want to be disrespected, you may be severe."
"Ill-temper ruins good works, in the same way as vinegar ruins honey." "The mentality of the ill-mannered individuals is always bad."
Morals between Rectitude and Deviation
In the same way as bodies are subject to illnesses that cause certain symptoms, such as paleness and weakness, morals are subject to definite illnesses that cause certain symptoms in a form of moral frailty and mental collapse that vary according to the dimensions of the symptoms. The ailed bodies are treated so as to regain activity. The ill morals, too, are treated so as to recover and resume moderation.
Had it been impossible to treat the morals, all the efforts of prophets would have been meaningless, and, furthermore, man would have been just like animals or even worse. Animals, in fact, could be tamed. The unruly horse, for instance, could be made docile through taming, and wild beasts could be domesticated by means of taming, too. How is it then impossible for man, who is the noblest creature, to be disciplined? It happens that the moralities of an individual are ailed, and change him into a frowning, quarrelsome person. This occurs because of:
(1) either feebleness that is resulted from a physical ailment or symptoms of senility or the like, and cause the infected person to be weak-nerved, intolerant, and unable to treat people courteously, (2) griefs and distresses that astound the intelligent and the well-mannered and take them away from noble traits,
(3) poverty that causes frowning and rudeness,
(4) office that may cause loss of good temper and impudence against people, or
(5) isolation that results in feelings of disappointment and humility. Such feelings are the causes of frown and grimace.
Treatment of Ill-Temper
The disadvantages and gross damages of ill-temper should be kept in mind. It should be always remembered that ill-temper brings about the wrath of God.
Self-control should also be practiced, and the motives of ill-temper should be suppressed through taking enough time before saying or doing anything. The Prophet (s) said:
"The best jihad 28 is self-control."
Truth stands for the conformity between word and deed. It plays a great role in the lives of both the individuals and communities. Truth is the beauty of speech and ground of success. From this cause, the Islamic Sharia, 29 in both the Quran and Sunna, 30 glorified and urged telling truth:
"Those who have brought the truth and those who have acknowledged it are those who have fear of Allah. They will receive whatever they want from their Lord. Thus is the reward of the righteous ones. (39:33-4)"
"Allah will say, "This is the Day when the truthful ones will benefit from their truthfulness. (5:119)"
"Believers! Have fear of Allah and always be friends with the truthful ones. (9:119)"
The Prophet (s) said: "Truth is the adornment of speech."
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "Do not be deceived by their very much offering of prayers and observance of fasting. In fact, prayers and fasting have become habits that they feel desolate if they omit them. You should test them by their truthfulness and fulfillment of trusts."
"The deeds of the truthful are growing."
This means that the deeds of the truthful are ongoing and their rewards are, too, growing. Thus, God accepts only the deeds of the pious ones. Truth, then, is one of the most significant characteristics of piety.
Achievements of Truth
The publicity of mutual understanding between individuals is a social necessity. If they commit themselves to so, they will have the ability to shoulder the burdens of life and enjoy a peaceful coexistence. It goes without saying that tongue is the instrument of mutual understanding and the translator of the various concepts that rove in people's minds. It therefore plays a serious role in the existence of communities and the harmony of individuals' feelings and ideas. The happiness or distress of any society depends upon verbal truthfulness or falsehood. If tongue is truthful in interpreting the emotions, it will fulfill the mission of communication. If it, on the other hand, is characterized by mistranslation and misexpression, it will be the guide to evil and the means of social destruction. Hence, truth, whose effects and reflections play the greatest role in the individuals' lives, is a social necessity.
Parties of transactions, for instance, can save themselves and times from the fatigue of bargain if they adhere to truthfulness. If all people observe truthfulness, they will gain its innumerable benefits and advantages. If untruth, on the other hand, becomes a common phenomenon in a society, the moral principals will be flimsy, mutual understanding will be missing, and the society will be the subject of disarrangement.
Parts of Truth
Truth of speech: It stands for telling the very reality of a thing without falsification or concealment.
Truth of deeds: It stands for the conformity of deeds with words, such as the commitment to oath and fulfillment of pledges.
True determination: It stands for the determination to do good.
True intention: It stands for purifying the intent from blemishes of showiness.
Untruth denotes the disconformity of speech with reality. It is surely the source of evils. From this cause, the Islamic Sharia has banned untruth, censured the untruthful, and threatened them through numerous texts in the Quran and Sunna:
"Allah does not guide a transgressing liar. (40:28)" "Woe to every sinful liar! (45:7)"
"Those who do not believe in the miracles of Allah invent lies and they are liars. (16:105)"
In the Farewell Pilgrimage 31, the Prophet (s) said: "Forging lies against me has been common to a great extent. However, it will increase. He who forges lies against me intentionally should find himself a place in Hell. When you receive any hadith, you should first measure it according to the criteria of the Quran and my Sunna. If it conforms to them, you will then adopt it. If not, you should then throw it away." 32
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "Persistence on telling untruths brings about poverty." 33
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: "Allah has made locks for the evil and made drinking wine the master key of all these evils. Untruth, in fact, is eviler than drinking wines." 34
"Telling untruths is the destruction of faith." 35
"Ali ibn al-Hussein (a) used to say to his sons: Avoid telling untruths, whether they were significant or venial, or in serious or humorous situations, for a man who tells a trivial lie will surely dare to tell a big one. Know that the Prophet (s) said: A servant persists on telling only the truth until Allah records him as truthful. The teller of lies, on the other side, keeps on telling untruths until he is recorded with Allah as liar." 36
Jesus (a) said: "He who tells very much untruth will lose brightness." 37
Disadvantages of Untruth
Untruth brings about ill reputation and indignity. The liar will never be believed even if he tells truths. His testimonies, too, are not admitted, and his promises are not trusted. One of the manners of the liars is that they forget their previous untruths and invent new ones totally contrary to the previous. A liar often invents a number of contrasted untruths as a support of a previous one.
Untruth causes mutual mistrust and creates feelings of apprehension.
Untruth produces waste of time and efforts that are exerted for distinguishing between reality and falsity.
Untruth has many disadvantageous spiritual effects.
Reasons of Untruth
Habit: An individual may have the habit of telling untruths because of ignorance, influence of the surroundings, or feebleness of the religiousrestraint. A wise man said: "It is so difficult to wean him who found sweet the suckling of untruth."
Greed: It is surely one of the strongest incentives of untruth.
Enmity and envy: These two things have very often induced to invent false accusations and fabricate libels against enemies. The righteous individuals who promote themselves against plunging in the wrong have frequently had to suffer the tragedies of false accusations.
Sorts of Untruth
First: False Swearing
False swearing is the most dangerous sort of untruth, because it is a double crime-it is flagrant daring against the Almighty Lord and a shocking crime that eradicates the rights.
The Prophet (s) said: "Beware of false swearing, for it changes countries into deserted wastelands." 38
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "False swearing brings poverty to the descendants." 39
Like the previous, perjury is a serious crime resulting in denial of the rights and commonness of disorder in the society.
The Prophet (a) said: "Before the perjurer finishes his false testimony in front of the judge, his place is Hell is prepared. The same thing is said about him who conceals a testimony." 40
The holy Quran, also, warned against false wording:
"Stay away from wickedness, idols, and false words. (22:30)"
Damages of False Swearing and Perjury
The false swearer and the perjurer do badly to themselves by exposing them to the wrath of God.
The false swearer and the perjurer do badly to those who encourage them to swear falsely, because such persons support in the fields of wronging people's rights and insulting their dignities.
The false swearer and the perjurer do badly to those against whom they swear falsely because they deprive them of their rights.
The false swearer and the perjurer do badly to the community as a whole, because they spread disorder and destroy the religious and moral values.
The false swearer and the perjurer do badly to the Islamic Sharia, because they challenge its sacred constitution.
Third: Breach of Promise
Fulfillment of promises is one of the noble traits with which the intelligent people adorn themselves:
"Mention in the Book (the Quran) the story of Ishmael; he was true to his promise, a Messengers and a Prophet. (19:54)"
As he promised a man, Ishmael the prophet confined himself in one place for a whole year waiting for him so as to keep his promise.
It is unfortunate that breach of promise, nowadays, has become a common phenomenon among Muslims who neglected its disadvantages that weaken the mutual confidence, corrupt the social relations, and harm the public interests.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "The promise of the believer is a ransomless vow. He who reneges breaks his word with Allah and exposes himself to His dislike. This is the meaning of Allah's saying: Believers, why do you preach what you do not practice? It is most hateful in the sight of Allah if you say something and do not practice it. (61:2-3)" 41
The Prophet (s) once, promised he would wait for a man near a rock. When the heat of the sun became so intense, the Prophet's companions suggested to him to stand in the shadow until that man would come. "No," said he, "I promised him to wait near this rock. If he does not come, that will be his fault." 42
Fourth: Mocking Untruth
Some people find nice to invent mocking lies in order to laugh at others.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "For Any one who forges lies against a believer for the purpose of disgracing him, demeaning his personality, and sticking ill reputation to him, Allah will move him from His guardianship to the Shaitan's. The Shaitan43 , however, will not welcome him." 44
Treatment of Untruth
The previously mentioned disadvantages of untruth, in addition to the material and ethical inconveniences, should be taken in consideration.
The merits and virtues of truth should be kept in mind.
Mental training on telling truth and avoiding telling lies should be permanently practiced until untruth is completely erased.
Justifications of Untruth
Untruth is an unwilling vice that is forbidden by the Islamic law. But, there are certain circumstances in which telling untruths becomes allowable. In case a vital interest cannot be achieved unless untruth is committed, the Islamic Sharia permits it. As an example on such vital interests we cite the salvation of a Muslim individual from killing or capture, the protection of the honor of a Muslim, or the guard of his property. In such cases, untruth becomes obligatory, according to the Islamic law. Correspondingly, when untruth becomes the only means for achieving a more important mission or remedial goal, it is then preponderant or allowed. Reconciliation between people, the propitiation of wives, and trickeries of wars are matters for which telling untruth is allowable.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "The teller of any untruth will be interrogated on a day -Day of Resurrection- except the untruths that are told in three situations: stratagems of war, reestablishing the ruptured relations between two parties-the reconciler, in this case, tells one party something that was not said about him by the other party and does the same thing with the other party so as to make peace between them-, and promises to the wives. 45
CLEMENCY AND SUPPRESSION OF ANGER
Clemency and suppression of anger stand for self-possession in situations that arouse anger. They are noble traits-they indicate self-excellence and result in affection and amicability:
"(Among) the servants of the Beneficent Allah are those who walk gently on the earth and when addressed by the ignorant ones, their only response is, "Peace be with you." (25:63)"
"Virtue and evil are not equal. If you replace evil habits by virtuous ones, you will certainly find that your enemies will become your intimate friends. Only those who exercise patience and who have been granted a great share of Allah's favor can find such an opportunity (41:34-5)."
"…And who also harness their anger and forgive the people. Allah loves the righteous ones. (3:134)"
Pursing this, The The Ahl ul-Bayt (a) advanced their instructions:
As he noticed that Qanbar was about to answer with revilement the man who had reviled at him, Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "Slow down, Qanbar! Leave him who reviled at you plunging in humility so that you will please the Beneficent Allah, annoy the Shaitan, and punish your enemy. I swear by Him Who split the seed and made the soul, nothing like clemency for the believers to achieve the satisfaction of the Lord, nothing like silence for them to annoy the Shaitan, and nothing more punishable than leaving the foolish alone." 46
"The first remuneration that one can gain for showing clemency is people's being his supporters against the ignorant." 47
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: "Allah does like the modest and the clement." 48
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: When a quarrel takes place, two angels attend there. They say to the foolish party, "You have said such and such. You are worthier of that which you have said. You will be punished for it." For the clement party, the angels say, "You have stood and showed clemency. Allah will forgive you if you accomplish it." If the clement party answers the other, the angels leave the place. 49
"Allah will certainly increase (His bestowals to) the servant who suppresses his anger, and will reward him. Allah says: …And who also harness their anger and forgive the people. Allah loves the righteous ones. (3:134)" 50
Imam al-Kadhim (a) said: "Be steadfast against the enemies of the graces, for your best retaliation for those who acted disobediently to Allah against you is to act obediently to Allah with them." 51
Once, he (a) gathered his sons and said: "Sons, I will lead you to an instruction that saves you from deviation if you adhere to it. Accept the apology of him who reviled at you in your right ear, and then turned to your left to make an apology and claim that he had not said anything bad." 52
The foolish may regard clemency as signs of weakness, while the intelligent regard it as signs of nobility, high standards, and honor. When man's prestige mounts, his traits become nobler-he holds fast on clemency and pardon. Hence, he becomes the matter of admiration and praise.
It is related that a wise man answered those who asked him why he had not replied the one who had reviled at him: "I will not engage myself in a war the triumphant of which is eviler than the loser." When al-Ma'mun, the Abbasid caliph, asked Imam ar-Rida (a) to recite some poetic verses, the Imam composed:
If he whose ignorance befell me is lower than I am in position, I will reject for myself to answer him by means of ignorance.
If he enjoys the same position of intelligence that I have, I will adopt for clemency so that I will not be likened to him.
If he is higher in position than I am, I will respect him from his preference. As he heard these verses, al-Ma'mun showed his admiration and asked about the one who composed them. The Imam (a) answered: "He is one of our men." 53
The Prophet and the immaculate Imams (a) were the ideal examples of clemency:
Imam al-Baqir (a) narrated: When the Jewess who served the Prophet (s) a poisonous meal was brought before him, he asked her a reason for her deed. "Well," she replied, "I said that the poisoned meal would not affect him if he was real prophet. But if he was only an ordinary king, the meal would save people from him." The Prophet pardoned her.
The Prophet (s) also forgave many individuals after he had outlawed and ordered to be killed.
Habbar ibn al-Aswad ibn al-Muttalib was one of those individuals. The Prophet (s) outlawed him after he had frightened Zainab -the Prophet's daughter- and caused her to terminate her pregnancy.
It was related that this man came to the Prophet and said: "We, God's Prophet, were polytheists, and God guided us to the right by you and saved us from perdition. I beseech to you to overlook my ignorance and that which I had committed, for I confess of my ill deeds and sins." The Prophet (s) answered him:
"I will forgive you. Allah has done you a great favor when He guided you to Islam. Islam cancels that which was done before the embracement of it."
Abdullah ibn Az-Zubaari is another one. He used to satirize the Prophet (s) in Mecca so extremely. When the Prophet (s) conquered Mecca, Az-Zubaari fled it. After a period, he came back and apologized for the Prophet who accepted his apology.
Wahshi, the killer of Hamza (a) is a third one. When he declared being Muslim, the Prophet asked him to narrate how he had killed Hamza; his uncle. The man did and caused the Prophet to weep. He (s) then asked Wahshi not to appear before him any longer. 54
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) was another ideal example of clemency and pardon.
When he captured Abdullah ibn az-Zubair, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, and Saeed ibn al-Aas who were the most mortal enemies that rallied people against him, he pardoned them and did not retaliate.
He (a) also could kill Amr ibn al-Aas who was more dangerous than an equipped army, but he left him because Amr unveiled his anus in order to save himself from the Imam's strike!
During the battle of Siffeen, the troops of Muawiya prevented Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) to reach the springs of water there and told that they would not give him a single drop of water. When he (a) raided on them, he dropped them away from these springs. But he allowed them to drink from them, just like his troops.
After the Battle of the Camel, Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) visited Mistress Aisha 55 and saw her off so honorably and sent with her caravan a number of individuals whose mission was to serve and protect her. 56
Like his father and grandfather, Imam al-Hasan (a) was another ideal example of clemency.
Al-Mubarrad and Ibn Aisha narrated the following: A Syrian man went on reviling at Imam al-Hasan (a) who was riding an animal. The Imam kept silent until the Syrian man finished. He then approached him and answered with handsome smiling: "Old man! I think you are foreigner. You might have been wrong. If you had admonished us, we would have satisfied you. If you had asked us, we would have given you. If you had sought our guidance, we would have led you. If you had asked us to load something on your riding animal, we would have done. If you had been hungry, we would have supplied you. If you had been naked, we would have dressed you. If you had been needy, we would have given you. If you had been fugitive, we would have succored you. If you had needed something, we would have settled your needs. I now hope you would drive your riding animal towards our residence so that you will be our guest until you determine to leave. This will be better for you. We have a large residence, a remarkable position, and an abundant fortune."
As he heard the words of the Imam, the Syrian man wept and said: "It is surely that God is the most knowledgeable of the worthiest of conveying His message. Previously, your father and you were the most hateful creatures of God to me. But now, you are the dearest creature to me." He then turned towards the residence of the Imam and was his guest until he left. He embraced the affection for The The Ahl ul-Bayt (a).
Thus was al-Hussein ibn Ali (a):
A servant of Imam al-Hussein committed a mistake that caused him to be punished. The Imam therefore gave the orders of beating him.
"Master," said the servant, "(Remember God's saying) those who refrain the anger."
The Imam ordered to release him.
"Master," said the servant, "(Remember God's saying) and those who forgive people."
The Imam forgave him.
"Master," said the servant, "(Remember God's saying) and Allah loves those who do good." The Imam said, "Go, you are free for the sake of Allah. I will also double your payment" 57
As I have read the life accounts of The The Ahl ul-Bayt (a), I found them unique modes and ideal examples in the field of morality.
Narrators reported the following story about the unparalleled scope of Imam as-Sejjad's clemency:
One of the servants of Imam as-Sejjad tried to serve the guests of his master with the grill. He was so hurried that one of the skewers fell down from his hand to kill one of the Imam's sons. The servant was so confused, but the Imam (a) said to him: "Now, I set you free, because you did not intend to kill the boy." Then, the Imam held the funeral ceremonies of the boy. 58
Imam Musa ibn Ja'far (a) was called Al-Kadhim -the one who suppresses his anger--, because of his great clemency for the sake of God.
A narrator reported the following story in this regard:
In Medina, a descendant of one of the caliphs used to hurt Abu al-Hasan Musa (a) whenever he would meet him. Moreover, he used to revile at Ali and the Imam. The Imam's retinue asked him to allow them to kill that man. The Imam ordered them not to do so. As he asked about that man, the Imam was told that he had a ranch in Medina. The Imam rode on a donkey, went to the ranch, saw the man, and entered that ranch with his donkey. "Do not tread on our yields," shouted the man. But the Imam did not pay attention to his warning, and drove his riding animal to tread on the yields until he approached the man. He, then, rode off, sat with the man, spoke with him kindly, smiled in his face, and asked: "How much did I cause you to lose as a result of treading on your yields?"
"About one hundred dinars," said the man.
"How much do you expect to gain from it?" asked the Imam.
"I cannot tell of the unseen," answered the man.
"I only asked how much do you expect," said the Imam.
"I expect two hundred dinars," answered the man.
The Imam (a) took out a bag of three hundred dinars and said to the man "This is for the yields, and Allah may give you that which you expect."
The man stood up, kissed the Imam on the head, and asked him to forgive his past wrongdoings. The Imam smiled and went away.
When the Imam entered the mosque, that man was sitting there. As soon as he saw him, he shouted: "It is surely that God is the most knowledgeable of the worthiest of conveying His message."
The man's associates jumped to him with astonishment and asked, "What is the matter with you? We used to see the opposite of this."
"Well," said the man, "you have heard my new situation," and went on praising and praying to God for the Imam (a). That situation made him lose those associates.
When the Imam went back home, he said to the company who had asked him to kill that man: "Which one is the best-your intention or my deed? I could guide that man to the right as much as you saw, and I could save myself from his evils." 59
Anger is a mental condition that provokes the excitement of man in words and deeds. Because of the dangers and sins --such like mocking, gibe, obscenity, beating, killing, and the like evildoings-that are resulted from anger, it has been considered as the door to every evil:
Imam as-Sadiq narrated on the authority of his father that a Bedouin came to the Prophet (s) and said: "I live in the desert; hence, I want you to instruct me the comprehensive of speech." The Prophet said: "I instruct you not to be angry." As the Bedouin repeated the same request three times, the Prophet (s) repeated the answer three times. The Bedouin commented: "I will not ask you for anything any more. Certainly, the Messenger of God has instructed me the best." 60
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "Keep off anger because it is one large army from the Shaitan's armies."
"Anger is a stroke of madness, for the angry, later on, feels sorry. If he does not, his madness then is inclusive." 61
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: "A man often becomes so angry that he is never pleased until this causes him to be in Hell." 62
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "Anger is the key to every evil." 63
Incentives of Anger:
The incentive of anger could be a physical disorder, such as illness or neuropathy that cause hypersensitiveness.
It could be a psychological defect that is arisen from mental stress, excessive selfishness, or feeling of insult or inferiority. It could be ethical, such as habituation of quarrelsomeness and quick anxiety.
Damages of Anger
Anger causes gross damages that harm individuals and communities, physically and mentally, materially and morally. A single state of anger often injured the emotions, charged the spirits with hatred, and split the handles of mutual amicability. Moreover, it often threw people in jails, exposed them to perditions, aroused wars, and shed blood of thousands of innocent people. What is more is the mental crises and tragedies most of which end with sudden death.
After all, anger changes man into a furious volcano whose flames are rage and evils. Thus, you see the tongue of the angry speak vulgar language and words of disgracing, and see his hands set for beating or even killing. This is in case the angry controls his rival completely. If not, the calamities of anger reflect on the angry; therefore, you see him tear his dress, slap his head, and, in some cases, practice insane deeds, such as reviling at beasts and beating on the solid things.
Anger between Praise and Censure
Anger is a significant instinct that excites in man the spirit of zeal and disdain and stirs up the spirits of sacrifice for the sake of the noble aims, such as defending the belief and protecting the souls, fortunes, and dignities. When a man misses such an instinct, he becomes the subject of humility. It is said: "He who does not feel angry when infuriated is surely donkey."
As a conclusion, the abominable anger is the excessive that takes away from moderation and challenges the regulations of the intellect and the Sharia. The moderate anger, on the other side, is an honored virtue strengthening man and restoring the morale.
Treatment of Anger:
If the incentive of anger is a physical disorder or a nervous depression, such like the states of the sick, the old, and the emaciated, the treatment should be clinical means, strengthening of the public health, and availability of the physical and mental rest, such as following a certain regime of nutrition, commitment to cleanness, and practice of suitable physical exercises and muscular relaxation. Finally, such individuals should keep off any matter that exhausts the mentality or the body, such as mental stress, sleeplessness, submission to depression, and other incentives of agitation.
Anger does not occur arbitrarily. There are definite reasons that agitate it, such as excessive selfishness, disputation, mocking, gibing, and injurious joking. In such cases, the treatment should be to avoid such reasons as much as possible.
To remember the disadvantages, dangers, and sins of anger, and to keep in mind that anger harms the angry more than the others-this may help in its treatment. It may happen that a trivial matter arouses an uncontrollable state of anger. A psychoanalyst says: "Leave the idea of retaliating on your enemies, because this causes you harm more than that which you intend for your enemies. When we bear malice against our enemies, we grant them the opportunity to overcome us. In fact, our enemies would dance delightedly if they knew the scope of worry that they cause to us. The malice that we bear against them does not harm them. As a matter of fact, it harms us and changes our days and nights into hell." Hence, it is necessary to keep in mind the advantages of clemency:
"If you replace evil habits by virtuous ones, you will certainly find that your enemies will become your intimate friends. Only those who exercise patience and who have been granted a great share of Allah's favor can find such an opportunity. (41:34-5)"
The influence and criminal motives of anger expose to the wrath and punishment of God. Imam as-Sadiq (a) said:
"Allah revealed to one of His prophets: Son of Adam! 64 Remember Me in your states of anger so that I will remember you in My wrath and will not crush you with those whom I will crush. Consider Me as your supporter, for My support to you is better than your own support." 65
It is better to postpone the temporary inducements of anger until its vehemence fades away. This may achieve relaxation and regain reason. It, however, can be achieved only by means of self-control and temperance.
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "If you are not clement, you should try to be it. He who imitates a people shall be one of them." 66
The following practices help in the treatment for anger: seeking God's guard against the Devil, sitting or laying down when standing or sitting, practicing the ablution or washing the face with cold water, and touching the hand of the relative who is the object of anger.
Modesty is to regard the others' standings and avoid behaving arrogantly with them. It is an attractive quality that draws the hearts and provokes admiration. God ordered His Prophet Mohammed (s) to cling to modesty:
"And be modest with him who follows you of the believers. (26:215)"
The Prophet (s) said: "The most favorable of you and the nearest to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the most well-mannered and the most modest. The remotest of you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the bigmouth and the proud." 67
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "It is very nice for the rich to behave modesty with the poor, out of seeking that which is with Allah. A nicer thing is the arrogance of the poor towards the rich, out of their trust in Allah." 68
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "In the heavens, there are two angels whose mission is to oversee the servants. They advance him who behaves modestly, and humiliates him who behaves proudly." 69
"Modesty is to accept to sit in a place other than the first row of a session, to greet whom you meet, to avoid disputation even if you are right, and to detest to be praised for the acts of God-fearing." 70
It is worth mentioning that the recommended modesty is characterized by moderation and free from negligence and excess. Excessive modesty causes meanness, and negligence of modesty is a motive of arrogance.
A proverb says: The modesty of a high-positioned one will save him from the malicious enjoyment at his falling.
We now forward some models of the virtues of The The Ahl ul-Bayt (a) regarding their unique and ideal modesty:
The Prophet (s) was the most modest. When he was attendant in a house, he sits in the last place. In his house, he helped his wives. He also used to milk his ewe, patch his garment, repair his slippers, serve himself, carry his goods from the mart, sit with the poor, and eat with the needy. When someone wanted to whisper in his ear, he used not to nod his head so that the other party would not nod the head. When someone shook hands with him, he used not to pull his hand unless the other party would do. When somebody sat with him, he used not to leave that meeting unless the other party would leave. He used to greet everyone he met and extend his hand before the other would do. He had never extended his legs among his sitters. He used to honor everyone who would visit him. In most cases, he used to spread out his garment so that his guest would sit on it, and used to give the cushion on which he had sat to his guest.
He used to call his companions with their most preferable nicknames. He had never interrupted a speech. He used to divide his looks fairly among his companions. He was always smiling and good-humored. 71
Abu Tharr al-Ghefari 72 narrated:
"The Prophet (s) used to sit among his companions. Any stranger who visited him for the first time would not distinguish him among the others unless he would ask. We therefore asked him to choose a special place so that the strangers would recognize him. We then made a muddy bench on which he used to sit while we were beside him."
It was also narrated that he was, once, in a journey when he ordered his companions to cook an ewe. A man volunteered to slaughter it, another volunteered to skin it, and a third volunteered to cook it. The Prophet (s) volunteered to gather firewood. When his companions told that they would do that mission instead of him, he answered: "I know you can do it, but I do not like to be distinguished. Allah dislikes to see His servant distinguish himself from his companions."
It was also narrated that the Prophet (s) went to bathe in a spring. Huthaifa ibn al-Yeman, who accompanied him, took a piece of cloth to screen him. When he finished, the Prophet (s) took a piece of cloth so as to screen Huthaifa who began to bathe. Huthaifa refused and asked him not to do, but the Prophet insisted. When Huthaifa finished, the Prophet said: "For the two persons who accompany each other, Allah will prefer and love more the one who is more lenient to his companion."
Describing Amir ul-Mu'minin, the ideal example of modesty, Dhirar said:
"Among us, he was just like one of us. He used to approximate us when we visited him, answer us when we asked him, respond to our invitations, and answer our questions. Along with this, we could not speak to him because of fear of him. When he smiled, his teeth were the like of well-organized pearls. He used to honor the religious and favor the needy. The strong could not exploit him and the weak were not despaired of his justice."
Imam as-Sadiq (a) narrated: Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) was, once, riding an animal and his companions were walking after him. He turned his face towards them and asked why they were following him. They answered that they had just liked to walk after him. He asked them to leave, and said: "To walk with a rider corrupts the moralities of that rider and causes humility to the walker." 73
As he passed by a group of needy people who were having bits of bread that was put on a shirt, Imam al-Hussein (a) greeted them. When they invited him to their meal, he responded and sat with them. He said: "I would like to eat with you except that your food is alms." 74 He invited them to his house, served them food, and gave them dresses and some money. 75
In his journey to Khurasan, Imam ar-Rida (a) ordered to make a dining table and gathered all his servants, including the black ones, to eat with him. I suggested to him to use another dining table for the slaves. He answered: "What is this wording? The Lord is One, mother is one, father is one, and each one will be rewarded according to his own deeds." 76