Question: What qualities do you think a good Muslim youth should have to be successful?
The answer: I think he or she should possess the following qualities:
1. Sincerely believing in Allah and completely relying on Him
2. Being able to control and lead himself
3. Always looking for progress and success within what Allah has permitted
4. Driving fear away from inside him
5. Being magnanimous and patient
6. Not belittling himself
7. Observing the Islamic principles and dealing with people accordingly
8. Making use of every blessing Allah has given to him
9. Caring for his health and the right of his body over him
10. Not being excessive in eating and drinking
11. Not leaving himself without money that he often needs
12. Serving other people as much as possible
13. Not being confused when someone disagrees with him concerning his true belief, for people, throughout history, are different
14. Liking to undertake and carry out responsibilities
15. Being frank and honest and not beating around the bush
16. Not delaying in doing good
17. Reading useful books that will benefit him
18. Making friends with good people
19. Not thinking of gaining the content of every one around him, because this requires hypocrisy
20. Avoiding disputes and idle talks
21. Not mocking others
22. Mentioning the good deeds and fine qualities of others
23. Criticizing himself and watching his deeds
24. Persuading himself that he is able to do what is required
25. Thanking Allah for every blessing
26. Not being like a tool in the hands of others
27. Knowing his position in life well
28. Showing his opinion with evidence when needed
29. Looking at his listeners when talking with them
30. Being more a listener than a speaker
31. Participating in the meetings of joy considering their etiquette and the meetings of consolation considering their etiquette
32. Offering presents to those who have given him presents on occasions
33. Believing that he is important in life and has a value in the existence
34. Not involving himself in bad doings, and when this happens, he has to repent, pray to Allah to forgive him, and try to restore his morale
35. Not living idly and not wasting his time
36. Looking forward to the future and trying to achieve it sincerely
37. Arming himself with good deeds to receive the death that he shall meet inevitably
38. Not spending his life unmarried
39. Reciting the Qur'an and supplications with understanding and reflection
40. Sparing something of his moneys for emergencies
41. Not being satisfied with a certain limit of success and stop going forward
42. Pardoning those who do wrong to him
43. Strengthening his relations with his kin and being dutiful to his family
44. Ordering his life, relations and all his affairs
Question: How can I make use of my age and youth? When I see the others (old people) who did nothing worthwhile in life and wasted, during their youth, their times in nonsensical and absurd things that did not provide them with a good future, I become more determined and tell myself “I do not want to be like them”. But I do not know what to do or how I should begin and what the causes of failure are. Please show me the way!
The answer: There are three main factors that waste one’s time, age, and good opportunities, and consequently they throw man into the afterlife empty-handed save with regret.
The first factor is the individual himself through:
1. living nervously
2. being busy with trivial and unnecessary things
3. living irregularly without organizing his times and works
4. procrastination and laziness
5. curiosity and interfering in others’ affairs
6. having poor information about the necessary issues of life
7. loneliness and little association with the society
8. hesitation and not being determined in taking decisions
9. not planning for the future
The second factor is the individual and the others around him through:
1. long idle meetings
2. guests that come with no appointment
3. speaking on the telephone for a long time on trivial and unimportant matters
4. unreasonable requests of others
5. associating with aimless persons
6. amusement programs, especially sitting for hours to watch TV serials and cinema movies
The third factor is accidents, like:
2. traffic accidents
3. losing things such as money, books, and other things
Dear brother, you should be aware of these things that deprive you of your time and ease, and you should not engage in these behaviors. On the other hand, you should read the life histories of the great and successful people. You will learn how to make use of your time, how to build your life and future, and then you will make your family and other people proud of you. The thing more important than all that is that you will please Allah and He will please you when you will meet Him lonely and then He will grant you the eternal bliss. This is the right way and all else is loss and torment.
Question: I am a young man. I have been involved in a great sin. Feeling sin on the one hand and my weak determination before my lust on the other hand have made me desperate of the forgiveness of Allah, and I feel that I will definitely be in Hell. At the same time, I fear that I am not right in this opinion. Would you please guide me to the right solution?
The answer: Confess your sin before Allah and pray to Him to help you with a real repentance! You do not need to ask for forgiveness with a difficult language or eloquent words. Speak easily and spontaneously and say what is inside your heart in any way you can, for Allah knows what is in one’s heart even before it comes to his tongue.
Know well that despairing of the forgiveness of Allah is a sin even greater than the sin you were originally involved in, because despair opens the door wider before you to commit all sins and it is this that will get you into Hell and not your first sin! Therefore, Islam has considered despairing of Allah’s mercy as the greatest of sins. It is this that Satan, the first enemy of man, wants for you on the Day of Resurrection.
O young man, fill your heart with a big hope of getting the forgiveness of Allah and try determinedly not to commit the sin again! When you commit a sin, you should hasten immediately to Allah and ask Him to forgive you. You should never cut your relation with Allah in any case. If you go east or west, you shall not find a god like your Lord, Whom you disobey but He, although able to punish you at once, grants you a respite and says that He loves those who ask Him for forgiveness, loves the repentant, and loves those who purify themselves. Besides, He loves to reward you with His Paradise if you turn to Him sincerely.
O young man, whatever you may have done to disobey Allah, you are still not a polytheist. Allah has made incumbent on Himself to forgive everything other than polytheism. Let the Satan not delay you in seeking forgiveness and make you lose the opportunity, for you do not know when you shall die. You may die at the moment of your procrastination and then you will have wasted the opportunity and lost the eternal happiness.
When you decide to return to Allah, do not forget that the crux of repentance is feeling regretful for what you have committed, determining to give up that sin forever, giving the dues of people back to them, and offering the missed obligations as much as possible! Abide by this sincerely and you will find that the pleasure of lawful things is sweeter than the pleasure of unlawful things.
Question: I am a teenager from a religious family. I have a friend who is corrupt, but I am very fond of him. I do not know what to do!
The answer: Use your love towards him as a means of advising him and saving him by taking him towards guidance! It has been narrated in a Prophetic tradition that guiding one person is better than the worldly life and all it contains.
Do not forget that love is good when it reaps goodness and it is a means of deviation when it transfers bad morals from your friend to you! A rational person is one who thinks of the outcome of things and then considers the actual situation – what is important and what is more important.
Try to be more reasonable than sentimental because if emotion overpowers you in the important situations, it will destroy you and then convey you to Hell! Of course, this is not what you want nor can bear.
Question: I know well that lying is one of the vices, but I practice it easily in small or great situations. I do not know how to get rid of it. Please guide me, may Allah reward you with good!
The answer: Every action may change into a habit whether it is good or bad. Lying has become a habit to you and so, although it will be difficult, you have to defeat this habit by being very careful for a period of time until it changes into its opposite, which is truthfulness.
First, repent and ask Allah to forgive you this sin before death surprises you and then you would go to the painful punishment that Allah has prepared for the liars.
Second, be alone with yourself, ponder on the reasons that have led you to this vice and try to finish off those causes in order to get rid of the result.
Third, compare the advantages of truthfulness and the harms of lying on every side – family, society and individually! For example, you can read some books in this concern and then the motives of straightness will be able to treat your case.
Fourth, accustom yourself to do good deeds such as reading religious books, pondering on the hereafter, helping the needy, being dutiful to parents, and teaching others what you have learnt of religion!
Fifth, always remember the tradition, ‘A believer does not feel the pleasure of faith in his heart, until he gives up lying, whether it is done seriously or jokingly.’
Sixth, think that if your lying is uncovered before others, which it undoubtedly will be, then what will your situation be? How will you meet with that embarrassment?
Seventh, know well that a liar has no dignity near people and near his relatives! Do you want to be worthless near people?
I hope, with these practical points, that you are able to rid yourself of a feature that you know well to be one of the worst vices.
Question: I am thirty years old. Pain and illnesses have done to my body what they have not done to old people’s bodies. I have become tired of doctors and drugs. I have become desperate of everything, even supplications and vows though I respect religion and the Ulama’’. I am very angry due to my state and always ask myself why Allah has afflicted me with these distresses that have made me suspect my religious beliefs and become nervous at any excitement. I hope with your help that I may be happy in life with my wife and children who suffer with me.
The answer: The Iranian magazine Ittila’at Ilmi, vol. 23, seventh year has quoted from the magazine (Reader’s Digest, Feb. 1993) a scientific study emphasizing that most bodily illnesses are results of psychological disorders. According to this fact, man causes himself bodily illnesses if he does not care for his psychological health.
The study adds, ‘For example, cancer and tuberculosis attack complaining and desperate persons. Peptic ulcer attacks persons who pant for high positions. Arthritis and chronic inflammations are the shares of rigorous persons whose hearts are full of hatred against others and who do not pardon or forgive others. Headache attacks those who keep their anger inside them.
Psychological disorders, like anger, fear, and distress, exhaust precious powers of the mind and the body and then psychological fatigue, pains, and illnesses come instead.’
The study adds, ‘Self-confidence and not letting fear and being upset overcome oneself make man carry out his daily activities in a way that delights his heart and comforts his mind. With comfort and hearty relief, man’s body enjoys safety and healthiness. In fact, even a broken bone recovers earlier if one’s mind is peaceful and his heart is calm and satisfied.’
The author of this scientific study says, ‘Man, for the sake of his bodily health, must free himself from the complex of failure and defeat. If he imprisons himself in this complex or he fails to free himself from it, he will face problems, pains, and illnesses such as asthma, headache, and nasal sinuses inflammation.’
Dear brother, what I want to tell you is that what we all need to do is take care of our health. Let us achieve it and recommend others to it so that our minds and bodies enjoy peacefulness and safety because “a sound mind is in a sound body”. Islamic traditions have indicated these solutions and emphasized that the healthiness of the body is the result of the healthiness of mentality. Islam was the first to show the scientific method of keeping psychological and physical health.
This study, which has been preceded by the Islamic theory, emphasizes the Islamic instructions by recommending the following:
1. Assure yourself every day that you are sound and safe because this self-suggestion prevents you from feeling weak or submitting to illness!
2. Try to live normally and do not be greedy and do not pant for this life so that you become involved in some situations out of greediness! Doing so exhausts your intellectual, psychological, and physical powers.
3. Assign to yourself some times for rest, relaxation, and harmless amusement!
4. Believe in Allah sincerely so that you feel the warmth of this faith inside your heart, and this will make feel comfortable and delighted whenever you mention Allah and worship Him!
5. Tell yourself everyday that you are better than you were yesterday and actually be so lest your conscience says to you: away! O you, self-deceiver!
If you adhere to these five recommendations after perceiving the medical fact mentioned above, you will be delighted and psychologically cheerful and this is what brings you physical healthiness and fruitful activity.
You should know that distrusting the true religious beliefs is itself a cause of psychological diseases that cause bodily diseases. At the same time when that scientific study and the sayings of many western psychologists declare that faith in Allah has a great role in curing psychological troubles and bodily diseases, it does not fit a Muslim to let the Satan or his followers in the society whisper evil to him and play with his mind.
It is narrated that the Prophet (S) has said, ‘I wonder at a believer why he becomes angry at illness! If he knows what benefit he receives because of illness, he would wish to remain ill until he meets his Lord1.’
Of course, this is if the illness is chronic and doctors cannot cure it or the ailing believer is unable to pay for the treatment.
Dear brother, I hope you will return to your religious beliefs and strengthen your morale by them in order to not fail in this trial because then you would lose this life and the afterlife together. You should know well that losing this life and its pleasures is easier to you than losing the eternal Paradise where there will be no pain, no disease, no old age, and no death.
Question: My elder brother commits major sins. He dares to beat my father who is an old man. We do not know how he has become like that when we are a religious family and nobody else from amongst us is like this elder brother.
The answer: There are some reasons behind this phenomenon. The most important one of them is negligence in the upbringing of this brother from his childhood and not watching him whenever he went out of the house and when he associated with bad friends.
Some families may be excused because of being busy with their living affairs or because of the poor cultural level of the parents or the absence of the master of the family as if when the father is in prison for example. The result is that a serious deviation happens to one of the family members.
Advice usually does not have any effect after the deviation roots deeply inside that person. The severity of that deviant person against the adviser is another result of deviation.
Nevertheless, despairing of reforming this deviant one is not permissible. It compels you to keep on advising him gently and kindly and trying to keep him away from his bad friends by sending some good persons to make friends with him and to busy him with lawful amusement. The troubles of these attempts are less than the troubles of leaving him alone as he is bound to commit more sins.
Question: How can I smile when I do not feel happy or delighted inside myself? I want to be active and not sad and idle. Would you please tell me how I could arrive at this aim?
The answer: First, let your conscience be satisfied and at ease because this is the thing that makes you smile and feel real cheerfulness! This comes from believing in Allah and following what He has revealed to His Messenger (S) and what the Infallible Imams (a.s.) have declared. They have declared that believing in Allah, contentment, and avoiding greediness brings man mental relief and being satisfied with one’s fate increases and solidifies that relief.
If you obtain this relief through these religious beliefs, problems and troubles will not deprive you of your smile and you will not worry at all. Allah the Almighty says, (And be not infirm, and be not grieving, and you shall have the upper hand if you are believers)2.
Religion has declared that serving people, helping the needy and fulfilling the rights of one’s family cause the relief of one’s conscience.
Looking at the green nature, pondering on the stars, listening to the singing of birds, and listening to good maxims make man happy and delighted. When man achieves some success in one of his aims, he feels the ecstasy of triumph which affects his activities and a smile appears on his face.
Islam has encouraged all that because it is the religion of activeness, vigor, progress, and production and not of laziness, worry, boredom or grief.
As for crying for fear of Allah in the heart of night, crying for the wronged saints on the sad historical occasions, doctors and psychologists have proved many advantages and said that if man knew the advantages of crying, he would throw drugs away.
Thus, the comprehensiveness of our great Islamic religion and its perfect verdicts have been proven just because it is from a Great, Wise, One, Unique and Eternal God.
Dear brother, with all that, you will reach your aim. May Allah be with you. Do not forget your smile and do not let it fade or leave your face!
Question: Where does tiredness of the body come from? Most of the time I feel sluggish and I do not know how to restore my vigor and energy. Would you please guide me to a solution?
The answer: Tiredness of body, inactiveness, and feeling weak are results of two factors:
The first is a bodily factor. It includes insufficient or intermittent sleeping, anemia, little or big proportion of iron in the blood, influenza, and others. A doctor can treat these conditions and the recovery is from Allah the Almighty.
The second is a psychological factor. It includes many things such as fear of future, worry, shocks of divorce, traffic accidents, big financial losses, being insulted before others, thinking of previous failures, and thinking of high ambition while worrying about one’s actual inability. All these psychological troubles cause physical exhaustion and fatigue and the cure is to submit to Allah and His fate in the cases where man has no power or choice.
As for the mistakes of man himself, the cure is obtained by repenting and asking Allah for pardon and forgiveness.
It would be better for one to give people’s rights back to them so that his conscience becomes relieved; besides that, he must organize his time according to the religious obligations and activities of life.
Here, I draw your attention to an important point: if you want to know the cause of your fatigue, whether it is physical or psychological, see if it disappears or lessens after sleeping or if it continues. If the first case holds, most often the cause of your fatigue is physical, and if it is the second, most often the cause is psychological. If man watches himself well, he will know from what he suffers, whether physical or psychological troubles.
Question: Please teach me the way to success and tell me how I can attain happiness! I am a young man. I would like to see myself in the best position in this life and in the afterlife. What is the way to that? Everyone has an opinion, but I, because of my young age, do not know which opinion is the best.
The answer: The way to a successful life begins with you. The beginning is the self, which if you change, Allah will help you reach success and happiness, but if you leave it to do as it pleases, you will never reach whatever it is you dream of.
Therefore, I would like to guide you to the following:
1. Discover yourself! In this life you can be great and your mention will be recorded in the list of the great if you can only discover your own talents and abilities.
2. When you assign an aim to yourself, know that you not only need accurate thinking, but you also need a strong spirit and high determination to help you reach the advanced steps in the way of success. The source of this strong spirit and high determination is the true belief that connects you with Allah the Almighty, intellectually and practically. To get this source, you have to recite the Qur'an deeply and ponderingly and have to worship Allah in the heart of the night and offer night prayers.
3. To keep your success safe from plagues, you have to be aware of the plagues. They are the following:
a. Bad friends
b. Imagining oneself to be ill
c. Putting off the work of today until tomorrow
d. Convincing oneself to retreat from doing good deeds
e. Not acquiring new information that concerns oneself
Question: My dreams are nightmares. Would you please show me a cure to my bad predicament before my youth wastes away?
The answer: Some dreams – as psychologists have proven – are a reflection of one’s psychological worry during wakefulness. To cure yourself, you have to follow the following points:
1. Purify your daily activities from unlawful things and if something unlawful takes place, purify it by asking Allah for forgiveness!
2. Be satisfied with what Allah has given you of wealth, beauty, health and the like!
3. Perform ablution (wudu’) before sleeping and recite a portion of the Holy Qur'an, and when you lie in your bed, think of what you have recited or try to sleep while thinking good thoughts!
4. Be certain that those who have been happy in their lives have faced problems too and that their lives are not free from troubles now, but they are well aware that worry is a problem much greater than those problems. So why would they increase their troubles by worrying when they need to decrease them?
5. Remind yourself of your good actions and successful deeds and do not think of your failures and shortcomings! Every one has bright pages in his life and even the successful and great people are not free from defects. Dear young man, set out in the way towards Allah the Almighty and rely on Him!
Question: I am a teacher in a secondary school. I see too many students imitating western fashions in their clothing. What is the reason for this difficulty and what is the solution?
The answer: There are many reasons:
1. Unawareness of the attractive Islamic examples that are the best alternatives to imported foreign examples
2. The spread of western cultures and fashions in our countries via the media (films, posters, ideas, and advertisements), which we call “cultural colonialism” or “intellectual subordination”
3. The weak Islamic media and the inability to give a beautiful picture about the Muslim youth as Allah, the Wise Creator, has willed
4. The weak school programs, which are devoid of the true intellectual gist of religion (Religious lessons are taught in schools in a shallow and boring way because most of the teachers of these lessons are officials and not people of a religious vocation. Therefore, there is no motive for the teachers to teach the pupils religion sincerely.)
5. The family sphere at home, which may contain many things that are contrary to the instructions of Islam (This has a great effect on students in leading them to imitate foreign fashions and bad examples and to be busy with trivial hobbies.)
The solution to this problem is for everyone – individuals, families, and societies – to act in a manner opposite to these reasons. They all have to make their efforts together to guide these youth and to show them the harms of imitating the foreigners. We can warn our youth of imitating the foreigners by quoting the statistics that the foreign newspapers have published about the crimes, problems, griefs, and the high numbers of suicides in the western countries.
Question: I am a student who is about to join the university. I am confused as to what I should specialize in. As you are more aware of the needs of society than I am, please guide me to the right vocation and I will be grateful.
The answer: There is no doubt that if man distributes his powers among several points and aims, his concentration weakens, and then he does not get the best result in each of his aims; rather he gets the optimal result if he concentrates all his powers on one aim within certain points.
I believe in specialization and my advice to you is that you have to make a decision and choose the field nearest to your inclination and ability and the nearest to the needs of your society. Then you should concentrate all your powers in achieving the best result. Do not forget to rely on Allah and pray to Him to assist you because real success is in His hand.
But since you ask me to advise you as to the most important fields of specialization, I consider the humanities, especially psychology and sociology, to be of great importance, especially when supported by accurate studies in the Islamic books of these concerns. Specialization in commercial fields and economics is also of great importance, as well as studying in the Hawza3, after completing your university study, which is of even greater importance. See what your real desire is and then choose it.
Rely on Allah and make your life, study, and future for the sake of Him so that if you die at the beginning of the way, the middle, or at the end, you will gain His paradise. Is there any profit greater than this?
Question: Frankly, I say that I suffer from the complex of meanness. What is a practical treatment to save me from it and from its bad effects?
The answer: First, you should recognize the cause so that the treatment can be easy. Here are some of the main causes of this complex:
1. Either you are imagining it or others are making you imagine it
2. Repeated failures in life and not achieving an aim that was once in your mind
For the cure, we suggest the following:
1. Try to achieve success in your life to strengthen your morale and then you can aim for another success and a bigger step!
2. Read some books regarding this topic in order to achieve some success!
3. Seize any opportunity to prove your personality in a lawful way; I do not mean that you seize others’ opportunities or show off by doing good.
4. Persuade yourself that you are a successful person by the assistance of Allah!
5. Do not forget to make your intentions sincere and just for the sake of Allah when doing good deeds, because this is the moral secret of everlasting success and progress.
Question: Please advise me how to bear the difficulties of life! I feel like I am about to perish
The answer: Imagining oneself as about to perish is in itself the beginning of perishment. First, keep this thought away from your mind and then ask yourself if you will not bear the difficulties, then what would you do! Do you have a better alternative?
Ponder on this question and be certain that life is difficult for all people, but the difficulties differ from one person to another. Now read the following advices:
1. You should know that the worldly life has been full of difficulties since our father Adam (a.s.) and will be until the last one of his children. The Wise Creator has determined life to be difficult for man so that he may think of the afterlife that he has been created for. Without being tried, man will not be given the eternal blessings of the afterlife.
2. Read the biographies of the patient and great people and see how they passed the difficulties of life to live in the bliss of Paradise and their names were not forgotten throughout the ages!
3. Make friends with those possessing a great deal of patience and tolerance.
4. Practice sportive exercises in the morning or at any other time of the day!
5. Rely on Allah and believe that He is the strongest supporter for those who rely on Him!
6. Ponder over the Qur’anic verses and the traditions of the Prophet (S) and Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) that discuss “patience” for they have undoubtedly taught us what makes us happy!
For example, Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) has said, ‘When Ali bin al-Husayn (Imam Zaynul Aabideen, the father of Imam al-Baqir) was about to die, he embraced me and said, ‘O my son, I recommend you to what my father had recommended to me when he was about to die and he said that his father had recommended him to; O my son, be patient with the truth even if it is bitter!4’
We must submit to the truth and its requirements. Abu Abdullah (Imam as-Sadiq) (a.s.) has said, ‘Whoever keeps to the firmest handhold will be safe.’
The narrator asked, ‘What is it (the firmest handhold)?’
He said, ‘Submission.5’
Someone asked Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.), ‘With what is a believer known as a believer?’
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘With submission to Allah and being satisfied with what he gets of pleasure and displeasure6.’
Question: I like to be quiet and always smiling because I hate sullen people who burst into anger and frown their eyebrows until their eyes come out and their faces redden. But unfortunately, I am not truly as I would like to be. Frankly, I am one of those whom I do not like, as some poet has said, ‘I like good people but I am not from them.’ Please, guide me to the way of patience and controlling my furious anger so that I may be like those I admire and I may like myself.
The answer: It is necessary for you to be aware of the problem that provokes your nerves in order to avoid it and keep yourself away from its effects. When you face this problem, try at first to recognize its causes and then try your best to avoid it. For example, someone may become angry at something and the cause may be the heat or that he has not taken a bath for a few days. If he takes off some of his clothes or if he takes a bath or pours cool water over his body, he may not become angry or excited with every trivial excitement.
It is said that using sweet perfumes eases one’s nerves, especially the perfumes of rose, jasmine and tea rose. An angry man should associate with the beauty of nature, ponder on the sky, the sea, mountains, and trees, and lie for sometime between the kind laps of nature. He should work only to the extent his body can tolerate and should not overburden himself with what exhausts him. He must be moderate in eating and not overload his stomach.
Dear brother, I advise you to practice sportive exercises in the morning, at least the Swedish exercises. Do not forget the mention of Allah in any case, and especially when being angry. You should remember the anger of Allah towards you. You should know that Islam considers anger as a soldier of the Satan. Therefore, an angry one is the one who carries this soldier on his back and protects him. Do you want to be like that? Certainly not! Then smile even if your smile is not real!
Question: How can I become skilled, or develop a high morale and liveliness, when my father, who is an ordinary man, frustrates my wish to continue my higher studies and asks me to work with him in the market.
The answer: Researches and experiments have proven that creative people have a high morale and a high self-confidence that cannot be shaken. It is they who have not wanted their first experiments to succeed and instead have prepared themselves to receive failure first for they have prepared themselves to snatch success from failure without submitting to failure. A creative man is he who offers his productivity and tries his best to develop it continuously until he reaches the top.
It is said that Edison, before testing the bamboo cane to discover the electronic light, had tested 256 things but without success. When he was asked why he had not given up his attempts in those many experiments, he said, ‘I have not failed, but with my experiments, I have come to know 256 things’.
This high spirit, which sees failure as a discovery and a means of learning something new, is worthier of success and worthier of being honored throughout history.
In order to continue on the path to your aim:
First, think deeply of your aim and the ways that will get you to it!
Second, discuss what you think with reasonable people in order to discover the defects of your opinion and then decide correctly, without pride.
Third, do not ignore difficulties, for they are a part of the way to success and a motive that strengthens the will of successful people.
Fourth, seize any opportunity to strengthen your hope in success. And the best of opportunities is connection with Allah the Almighty. An Indonesian proverb reads, ‘Unless you raise your hand to the heaven, it shall not raise from the earth.’
Fifth, when vitality comes to you and your heart become delighted with work, keep to your project firmly and do not let this opportunity go in vain in useless doings.
But as for your father, with respect and calmness, you can understand one another. You can also send him some respectable persons to try to convince him. It would be better that he should not know that they are sent by you.
On the other hand, you can explain to him the future of your ambition and explain to him its advantages according to the way of his thinking in life. For example, if he is interested in the financial matters, you can say to him that when you become a doctorate, you will establish a scientific foundation or a clinic whose income will be more than you can earn by working in the market as an ordinary worker. Tell him that a reasonable person always looks forward to the far future and tolerates the difficulties of the present for that.
Question: I am a confused young man. I do not know what to do, where to go, what aim I should choose in my life, and what I shall be in my future. In other words, I am lost and aimless. I think of myself as created in vain. I do not think that there is someone who can save me from this state. I have written to you only because one of my friends asked me to do that, although I am desperate even of your solutions.
The answer: It is not important that you become satisfied with what I tell you, but what is important is that you must prevent despair from overcoming you. Now, read my answer and then do as your mind tells you!
Dear brother, people, in life, can be divided into four kinds:
1. One who is clear to himself and to others
2. One who is clear to himself but unclear to others
3. One who is unclear to himself but clear to others
4. One who is unclear to himself and to others
People of the first kind are good and successful people. They know themselves and their inward and outward powers and talents. They know their aims in life. They live naturally and others know them to be so, especially their close fellows. Therefore, the others neither suspect them nor do they fear any evil from hem.
People of the second kind are those with whom it is difficult to deal. There are some things inside them that they do not uncover to the others; therefore, the others live with them in difficultly. Many confusions and troubles happen when dealing with them.
People of the third kind are those who do not know what they do, where they are, how they move, and where they will end. They are unsuccessful in life and the others see them to be so clearly.
People of the fourth kind are introverted people. They are neither clear to themselves nor are they clear to others.
You should determine to be from the people of the first kind, who know themselves and whom people know clearly. Your despair is the source of your distress and the cause of your perishment. In history, there were many people whose distresses were greater than yours and who were nearer than you to perishment, but in one moment they defeated their despair and restored morale and confidence and Allah accepted their repentances and purified them.
Dear brother, tell me Whom you have disobeyed!
You have disobeyed Allah. Allah Himself says to you: I clear your past. Come and do good from this moment!
Allah the Almighty loves you if you repent to Him. He assists you so you can be successful in the rest of your life. Then what is this despair for?
Allah says, (O you who believe! answer (the call of) Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life)7.
Dear brother, in responding to the call of Allah and His messenger there is your life. Come and cure yourself by associating with sincere, faithful, and pious people of understanding. Try to explain your state to them and tell them everything about yourself, after being certain that they will keep your secrets! Surely, they will guide you to the right way in which you will find your happiness.
It is necessary to prepare yourself to accept the advices of others. Let us suppose that you want the pleasures of this life and you do not think of the afterlife. Well, does this worldly aim not require you to accept some things that you do not like or get rid of some habits that may be difficult in the beginning?
Look at others who are proud, self-deceived, or who do not care for others, or those who do not take care of cleanliness, or whose mouths smell unpleasant…look at tens of those who consider themselves benevolent but, in fact, they are deviant and misleading. Do you not dislike such persons and hate their conducts?
In order to not be like them and in order to not be disliked by people, try to show your advisors your acceptance of their advice and your readiness to accept constructive criticism as a first step towards the way of happiness.
I invite you to save yourself so that you shall be in Paradise, in which are found every blessing and pleasure. Do you know that many desperate people have deserved to be in Paradise at the last hours of their lives when they drove despair away from them and gained the wide mercy of their Lord?
Why should you not be one of them? The Paradise of Allah has opened its gates for you to dwell in it and to forget all your pains. Is it not reasonable and wise to approach your eternal happiness? It is a determination of a moment that gives you happiness in your life and after your life when you will be resurrected.
Question: Narcotics…the beast that kills man and destroys families and society. They have spread everywhere and their target is our youth. Colonialism, Zionism, and their secret gangs in our countries are behind this.
We want you to discuss this dangerous subject. I am twenty years old. My sister has died because of an injection (of narcotics), my father is in prison because of narcotics trade, and my elder brother is a drug addict. My mother suffers from all these distresses, and I am angry about everything. About the future, I do not know what to say.
The answer: O dear brother, may Allah assist your heart and help your mother with patience! I pray to Allah to make your future better than your past, to guide your brother, forgive your sister, and reform your father.
It is clear to all that drug addiction is one of the most dangerous problems in a society. It has great and terrible effects on individuals and society, especially the psychological, physical, and economical harms. And the most important thing is the severe punishment of Allah that begins from the first moment of death and the night of burial. We do not think that the problems of narcotics can be solved only by legislating laws or rules or imposing severe punishments; rather, we must make an effort to ascertain the psychological and social motives that make the youth use narcotics and then try to find a comprehensive cure for this problem.
Good education, keeping the youth away from bad friends, showing them the dangers of narcotics and explaining their destructive effects, spreading religious teachings, and caring deeply for psychological and physical health will have great results in saving the youth from this plague, for protection is better than cure.
Parents have to know the reasons that make the youth liable to fall in the plague of narcotics. Here are the most important reasons:
1. The inclination of the youth to look for pleasures and amusements, especially with the absence of a good Islamic education
2. The wish to imitate others and to break the traditions of the family and the society. Especially when the youth are mistreated at home, they are bound to look for bad friends.
3. Incorrect propagandas and wrong ideas that narcotics traders promote
4. Imitating bad friends and being under their pressure
We say that the best resolution lies in protection. The most important ways of protection are the following:
1. Making people understand the dangers of narcotics via the media and through cultural and educational programs in order to avoid them
2. Showing documental films about the lives of drug addicts to show their distress and wretchedness
3. Keeping children and teenagers away from the bad habits of adults, like smoking for example, and this is the beginning of the way
4. Encouraging programs of amusement for the youth and encouraging the youth to establish local meetings and organizations
5. Improving the cultural, social, economical, and physical levels of the youth
6. Fighting against narcotics trade by all possible means
7. Encouraging scientific researches that help in solving this problem
As for the cure, after being involved in this problem, there are some points:
1. Medical cure: it depends on the kind of narcotics, the person himself, and his age. A person can be saved from the effects of narcotics by undergoing treatment to remove the effects gradually.
2. Psychological cure: it aims at strengthening one’s spirit and morale so that he may be able to stand against the problems he faces, and it helps him to solve them so that he may not look for wrong paths. This cure concentrates on strengthening one’s morals and forcing oneself to participate in the treatment.
3. Social cure: it aims at establishing social organizations or projects to help drug addicts become liberated from narcotics. This cure concentrates on the social environment in which drug addicts live and which has a great effect on making one go towards or away from narcotics. Encouraging one towards social association and mixing causes him to believe in the values of the society he lives in and keeps him away from deviation8.
Question: I am a young man studying in the first stages of the university. My father says that all happiness lies in studying until I obtain a doctorate degree and then I shall earn lots of money. He is not at all concerned about my religious affairs. He does not ask me about my prayer, fasting, or faith at all. I know that his mindset is incorrect, but I cannot say the truth to him. What should I do?
The answer: You should study and learn so you can be high in this life as your father wishes. If he sees you do so, he will not deny your prayer, fasting, or faith. The Holy Qur'an says,
(And seek, by means of what Allah has given you, the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world)9.
Do not give your father an excuse to persecute you in your religion as long as you can do both studying and performing your religious obligations. If there is a suitable occasion, try to explain to your father the meaning of this tradition when once Imam Ali (a.s.) was asked about goodness and he replied, ‘Goodness is not to have much money and many children, but goodness is to have much knowledge, to be magnanimous, and to be proud among the people of worshipping your Lord.10’
If you see your father deny your religion, even though you should do what he wants from you, do not submit to him because there is “no obedience to a creature if it means disobeying the Creator11”.
In any case, you should be very polite in dealing with your father for Allah has ordered in His Book to worship Him first and to be dutiful and kind to parents second. You may, with Islamic morals, guide your father and save him from his moral poverty; and thus good morals are the best means to achieve success after success.
I have nothing more to say about your father and his likes except to offer this tradition of the Prophet (S) when he once looked at some children and said, ‘Woe unto the children of the last time (on earth) from their fathers!’ It was said, ‘O messenger of Allah, from their polytheist fathers?’ The Prophet (S) said, ‘No, from their faithful fathers. They do not teach them anything of obligations, and if their children learn, they prevent them and they become satisfied with them for little material things of the worldly life. I am free from them and they are free from me.12’
Question: As you know, youthfulness is a great power that is full of vigor and activity. If we do not use it in a constructive way, it will explode to destroy what others have constructed of advantageous establishments. Most of us live idly and sleep more than required. We go out of our homes just to waste time in trivial things or boyish adventures. I hope that you can explain to us the correct way to use this great power in a manner that will please Allah and will benefit people, our society, and ourselves.
The answer: You know that when a driver loses control of his car, he throws himself and others into a bloody disaster. Do you know what prevents him from this disaster?
They are his knowledge of the art of driving and his will. Two things: one is knowledge and the other is will.
The same can be said about a young man who puts himself in a situation without knowledge or will. He will involve himself in a disaster the end of which is failure and fruitlessness.
Physical power and activeness is a Divine blessing that Allah has given to man in his youth to help him build the basis for his future ease, for a day when his power will weaken, his activeness will disappear, and diseases will attack him, and then the knowledge, wealth, position, family, friends and followers he has spared from his youth will benefit him.
You ask how to make use of the blessings of youth. It is a good and important question regarding building one’s future. The answers, as we said, are useful knowledge and will. The first is a light that illuminates one’s way and the other is a force that controls one’s power and prevents it from deviation and the occurrence of disasters.
The youth are in need of peace and not violence. This is the best fruit (patience) and patience is the best fruit of knowledge.
Imam Ali (a.s.) has said, ‘Good patience is a proof of abundant knowledge13.’
The youth have to seek out knowledge and sciences that will benefit them. They should not throw themselves into the laps of bad people from this material life because then they would become slaves in the circle of untruth.
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, ‘I do not like (to see) a young man from you unless he is in one of two sates: either a teacher or a learner. If he does not do so, he wastes; if he wastes, he loses; if he loses, he is sinful; and if he is sinful, he will be in Hell, I swear by Him Who has sent Muhammad with the truth.’
The youth should seize opportunities to learn means of developing their powers in order to establish the first bases of future success. Who are the failed people in life but those who did not learn during their youth?
Then, what is the required knowledge?
It is to begin learning the Islamic beliefs, the legal laws, and the moral principles. Our scholars have written very good books about these three fields which you can read or ask one of the virtuous Ulama’ to discuss, or you can attend the lectures that are held in mosques, religious centers, houses, and the like.
Please, ponder on this word in which Imam Ali (a.s.) has described pious people by saying, ‘The Creator has become so great before their eyes, and therefore, everything else has become so trivial before them.’
If the youth learn the beliefs of Islam, legal laws, and morals, and reach the degree of piety in their faith, they will never pant after the material life or fight for its transient pleasures. They will never feel sorry if they miss one of its pleasures. They will never make troubles for this and that. They will never think of destruction or violence as a solution if fate deprives them of a blessing or prevents them from reaching it.
Dear brother, in order to walk in this upright way, you have to do the following:
1. Know yourself well, promise yourself to be sincere in achieving happiness, and watch your fancy lest it troubles your sincerity. Nevertheless, you may fall into the trap of fancy, but in this case hasten to get out of it by repenting and asking Allah to forgive you. Then review the causes of your fall and be careful that they are not repeated.
2. Fill your mind with knowledge and true historical views! Let your first source be the Holy Qur'an, which has explained everything, and keep away from the Satan and his followers!
3. Be steadfast before difficulties and be patient in any case!
4. Open your heart to your high goal, for you have been created for Paradise!
5. Make your personality respectable and try to have positive effects on others!
6. Keep a thick curtain between you and material, reactionary, shallow, anarchic, selfish, and submissive ideas!
7. Take the Qur’anic intellect, as been interpreted by the Prophet (S), Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), and the virtuous Ulama’, to be the example of your intellect and conduct!
8. Read a lot about religious culture and concentrate on what you read!
9. Organize your time, order your daily tasks, and write down your appointments in your pocket notebook!
10. Trust in your own abilities and talents and complete them by cooperating with the abilities and talents of others who are like you in belief!
11. Learn how to speak appropriately with people and have influence over them!
12. Carry out the needs of whoever may ask you for help, and do not remind him of your favor to him someday!
13. Be ascetic in life! Do not wish for what there is in other people’s hands of wealth and beauty!
14. Find a job that brings lawful livelihood!
15. Hate idleness and laziness because Allah hates them, especially for the youth!
16. Take care of your physical and psychological health and do not ignore your share of amusement!
17. Get married early and always advise the youth to do so!
18. Do not stop at a certain limit in your good ambition because the way towards Paradise is open before you!
19. Be calm and plan for your future while thinking of good deeds and good rewards!
20. Do not forget the remembrance of Allah, supplication, and the love of those who have showed us the way to deliverance who are the Prophet (S) and his progeny first, and second all those who have followed them!14
Question: We, at home, are not ruled by the Shari’a. Lawful and unlawful rulings are disregarded, especially on Fridays when the whole family gathers together and my brothers’ wives come.
Every one shakes hands with each other. They exchange jokes and loud laughter while the wives are in their domestic clothes without veils as if they are all mahram15.
As for my father and mother, they do not speak out to repair this state, which, undoubtedly, must displease the Lord of the worlds.
I do not know whether my speaking to them will have any influence or if they will just mock and scorn me! I am confused. Would you please guide me to a situation that will please Allah the Almighty?
The answer: As for them, they have turned in the disobedience of Allah; but as for you, you should either forbid them if you think that your speech will have any influence over them, even after some time, and then never mind if they mock you, for the prophets also have been mocked but they said their words and had great influences later on, or if you think that there is no benefit at all or that they may greatly harm you besides mocking, then you have to do one of two things for the family’s sake: either sit with them a little without participating in their unlawful behavior, or get out and leave their meeting.
Dear faithful brother, if you feel that you are strange among people, you should know well that you are close to Allah, and Allah is better than people!
Question: I am a sad young man. I live with worry and boredom. Sometimes, I tell myself that I am a mistake in this existence. Why have I come? Who has brought me? And why does no one respond to my opinions?
The answer: You should change your way of thinking and life by doing various things:
1. Busy yourself with something like walking in the garden, for example!
2. Relax in a calm place, even if for a few minutes!
3. Observe the beautiful scenes of nature and ponder on the greatness of their Creator!
4. Practice swimming or some other sportive exercises!
5. Read some comic books or whatever else you think befits your state!
6. Assign an hour everyday for supplication, with reflection on the meaning of your supplication, and let this hour be after midnight or before sunshine!
7. Go out with your good friends!
8. Go visit your relatives!
9. Write the letters B and G in a little notebook and try, from the moment you awake, to watch yourself. When you commit a bad deed, Allah forbid, place a mark under the letter B, and whenever you perform a good deed, place a mark under the letter G. This personal vigilance will make you delighted with your good deeds and then you will decide to increase what pleases you and decrease what displeases you.
Try to form some resolutions:
1. Decide to be humble in your life! Do you know that without humbleness, the clouds, the seas, the trees, the plants, and the flowers would not give us delight or pleasure?
2. Love knowledge and scholars, for knowledge is light, and without scholars, life would be dark!
3. Be pious! Do not approach sins for sinners expose themselves while unaware!
4. Always smile even if your smile is not real in the beginning!
5. Love goodness! Love was and is still the greatest excuse of a good life. Why do we not love what enlivens us? Are religion and faith not based on the love of good and the purity of heart?
When you decide to be humble, to love knowledge and scholars, to refrain from unlawful things, to smile at people, and to love goodness, surely you will be happy because you will then know the purpose of your existence.
Do not ignore the prayer with full concentration! If your heart is not awake while offering the prayer, your prayer will just be a series of meaningless movements. The heart is the greatest airport in your existence, so let the plane of faith land in it safely! The heart is a way to Allah; if you put other than Allah in it, it will get you nowhere.
You have to reach, with your attentive heart, a state where you feel what you say when you raise your hands and read this supplication, ‘O my Lord, to You I offer my existence which is from You.’
After these steps, you will reach a degree where you will say in your supplication as Imam Ali (a.s.) has said, ‘O my Lord, it is enough honor for me to be Your slave and enough pride for me that You are my Lord. O my Lord, You are as I like, so make me as You like!’
Dear young man, your existence is not a mistake of any one. It is the gift of Allah, the One and Only. I hope you can, by the assistance of Allah, victoriously and happily resist your melancholy and leave behind your pains and boredom. When you win, please guide the people of melancholy with you because rescuing them is a good and great deed.
Question: I have a friend who is psychologically confused and absent-minded. I do not know how I can help him. I suffer a lot for his state. Would you please help me save him?
The answer: First of all, I want to tell you that I am pleased to see your love for your friend and your concern to save him. You have a quality that Allah loves for the believers to have. I suggest that in order to save your friend, after relying on Allah and asking His assistance, you should do the following:
1. Be gentle and kind to him that he may trust you!
2. Try, by means of his relatives, to discover his actual problem!
3. To make him trust in you, tell him about similar conditions that you have treated or read about and their treatments!
4. Explain to him the harms of disobedience and the merits of obedience of Allah the Almighty. Perhaps he is melancholy because of remorse for committing a hidden sin. If it is so, ask him to repent and pray to Allah to forgive him, because one who repents of his sin becomes as pure as at the moment when he was born.
5. Inspire in him the spirit of hope, aim, and activeness!
6. Arrange, with your friends, a trip and take him with you and skillfully try to make him participate in group activities and amusements!
Question: Most youth suffer from idleness, which is the source of corruption, melancholy, and boredom. What is the way to get out of this impasse?
The case, in its first point, is connected with the economic state of countries and this is not in our hands. As for the remaining points, they are connected with the culture of the youth. In this concern, we say:
1. Everything can be subjected to man’s will if he only knows how to do that.
2. The youth have to create opportunities of work by themselves to the extent that the law will permit them. This requires them to be acquainted with the law.
3. The youth have to reject laziness, extra sleeping, and living based on their desires.
4. They have to know the disadvantages of idleness and leisure for they bring man meanness, cause him to become involved in unlawful things, and lead him to failure in life.
5. A young man should know that life is a responsibility. First, he should be responsible for himself and then for his close relatives.
6. Man should be humble and not disdain to accept a lawful job with the excuse that it is an ordinary job or it does no befit his position or rank. Many are the people who have become wealthy whereas they were poor at the beginning of their lives; and many are the people who have become presidents and high chiefs whereas their beginnings were simple.
7. Creativity is a quality of successful people. Let the youth try to create jobs by which they will be prosperous and live well.
8. Thinking, reading, activeness, joyful spirit, optimism, satisfaction, supplication, and praying are among the main qualities that prepare for opportunities of work and then free time will be occupied and idleness will be treated.
Question: What would you suggest to cure my quick anger and emotion, which is called “stress” by psychologists?
The answer: I am answering you with a full conviction that if you follow the answer, you will get the result; otherwise, you will remain as you are. The cure is a mixture of moral and practical matters. You should do the following:
1. Recite the fact of submission to Allah so that your heart feels peaceful with the mention of Allah the Almighty and then you will see the things that provoke you as simple and easy!
2. Always be (legally) pure!
3. Do not commit any sin!
4. Keep away from anything that provokes your nerves!
5. Always keep your tongue busy with the remembrance of Allah and especially with certain glorifications like “La hawla wala quwwata illa billah al-alliy al-adheem (there is no power save in Allah, the Exalted, the Great)” and “Astaghfirullah (I pray to Allah to forgive me)”.
6. Drink cold water whenever you are provoked, pour some on your head, and say salawat (peace and blessings be upon Muhammad and his progeny).
7. Go to an open place to breathe fresh air and to look as far as you can.
8. Be totally indifferent to the thing that causes your anger! Tell yourself that you are more precious than that and so it does not behoove you to exhaust your power and harm yourself!
Question: My mother and father disagree with each other over everything, no matter how big or small, and we, the children, become upset whenever their quarrels begin. We are afraid and worried about the future of our family. The question is: what should we do?
When your parents are at peace, talk to them about the negative effects of quarrel, which may destroy everyone’s future. But when they are quarreling, you have to be tolerant and indifferent towards what happens as long as there are no dangerous events. When you become impatient, go to a different place; for example, to another room or to the yard. When they begin quarreling, try to play a cassette of Qur'anic recitation or decide to exchange jokes amongst each other to stop their quarreling by laughter.
It is necessary for you to know that this state, although it is dangerous for your future if it continues, can be solved if you undertake your responsibility as adult children in the house and as alternatives to the parents who are sunken in the fire of rage and selfishness. Do not worry, you will soon grow and live independently away from them. In order to not be like your parents, you should take lessons from their state, for as Imam Ali (a.s.) has said, “a reasonable one is he who takes lessons from the experiments of others.”
Question: The memories of my childhood and the problems of my family that led to the physical abuse and then to the divorce of my father and mother and the misfortunes that followed distress me. I do not know how to forget them. Whenever I remember them, I become so distressed that I lose my composure and I faint. There is no doubt that these things exhaust man’s strength and abilities, which he needs for success in his future. Would you please tell me how to be rid of this state?
The answer: One of the most important bases of raising children is the relationship between parents, which is based on love, respect, mutual understanding, and cooperation. It gives children spiritual and mental stability, and this is what you have lost in your childhood. However, this does not mean that you should apply to your life what happened to your parents. Every one has an independent will and his punishment near Allah does not have anything to do with others’ punishments. If you agree with me on this belief, which is a fact in our true religion, you should do the following:
1. Seize any opportunity to build your personality and gain the factors of success in your life!
2. Consider any success in your life as possible of being repeated and reproduced and do not stop after a certain point or satisfy yourself with what you have achieved!
3. Know well that man, whatever bitter memories may distress him or press on his nerves, is able to pass over them on condition that he trusts in his mental abilities and relies on his Lord.
4. Do not allow negative memories to overcome your heart! Try to omit them from your memory! Whenever they attack you, busy yourself with reciting the Holy Qur'an, reciting supplications, reading good books, and remembering your nice memories, or leave your place, perform ablution, and walk and ponder over nature, the sky and its stars, the sea and its wonders, the trees and their fruits, the flowers and their fragrances…
5. Read books that will help you build a faithful personality and learn the ways that the believers succeeded, and read about the great people in history! You will find that most of them have undergone in their childhood different family and social sufferings like orphanhood, homelessness, and injustice. Karbala16 of Imam Husayn (a.s.) gave us great lessons that were completed by Imam Husayn’s sister, Zaynab, who inspired the spirit of resistance in the orphans and captives until she turned the apparently victorious into the real defeated. On the other hand, successful discoveries and inventions have come after many failed experiments. Then, shake off the dust of your memories and extort from your parents’ failure your success!
Question: Could you please explain to me the reasons for a young person’s becoming corrupt and failed in life? My sister and I are close in age. I am thirty years old and she is twenty-eight years old, but in regards to faith, there is a great difference between us, even though our father and mother (may Allah have mercy on them) were very faithful. Please, tell me how to save my sister from what harms our reputation and family honor!
The answer: Deviation from the right path begins when man feels that he is in not in need of anyone besides himself and when there he has no wise advisor. A young man or a young woman begin to establish relationships that may slowly lead him/her to serious problems because one’s conduct develops via the relationships surrounding him, then his feeling of independence and his desire to be different from others grow, and he begins to prove his personality through resistance and mutiny. Here, parents and relatives should know that regret would be useless!
From the first moment that a youth feels that he is not in need of anyone else, there must be an advisor there to guide him to the right way. But, after he is snatched away from his kind nurturing family by bad persons, reforming him will be very difficult, except in special cases, and will require great efforts.
Social studies confirm that the disregard of parents, whether willingly or unwillingly, towards this fact is the basis of motivating children to go towards corruption. The methods used by parents or guardians in dealing with children (i.e., whether they grant children full freedom, treat them dictatorially, or treat them moderately) have the main role in forming the future conducts of children.
Unfortunately, parents are negligent of their children in the initial stages of their lives, and then the children face problems when they grow up because they were trained to walk towards corruption and deviation. It is not right to give children full freedom or treat them dictatorially. To be safe from educational obstacles, one should treat his children moderately. This is what we ask those who are responsible for the future of children to do.
Moderation, which is the Islamic method in dealing with everything, means caring for both the material and moral needs together. Providing clothes, food, shelter, and a superior education do not mean achieving moderation as some believers think, but it is also necessary to add moral education, religious teachings, and good manners.
O dear sister who is worried about the honor of her family, the case of your sister, who has become different from the rest of the members of the family, is a result of a previous negligence of those who were in charge of the family when your sister began associating with bad girls and watching films and reading books and magazines that led girls away from veil, abstinence, and faith.
All this is in regards to before the problem occurs, but after it happens, I advise you to do the following:
1. Bring her good cassettes, films, and books and ask some good friends to try guiding her!
2. Do not distress yourself at all because some relatives of the Prophet (S) and of the infallible imams (a.s.) have followed the Satan, but Allah has said to His kind Messenger, (Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases)17.
3. Do not cut your relation with her, because this would make her deviate even more!
4. Let her see in you the example of the Islamic morals! You should show her your love for her and help her in her affairs so that she may come closer to you and be influenced by your faith and morals!
Question: I am a young girl. I want to begin my life safe from obstacles. You know well that the mistakes in marital, family, and social relations are too many. How can we avoid falling into them?
The answer: There are four factors that lead one to fall into mistakes. The first is a psychological factor. It is when man follows his desire and loves himself, his kin, friends, party, or country in a way that his love does not submit to the Islamic values declared in the Holy Qur'an and the Prophetic Sunna.
The cure, here, is achieved by submitting this psychological factor to the true wisdom of religion. Submission to the will of Allah and relying on Him in the lawful way of living cause the psychological factor to become defeated.
The second is a material factor that concerns the physical condition of body. It is clear that some mistakes occur due to some pressure caused by a pain that man cannot tolerate and so he does what he would not do if he were sound and healthy. Weather, noise, and fatigue are also among the material factors.
The cure lies in treating the diseases and getting rid of what troubles one’s body and annoys his nerves.
The third is an intellectual factor, which concerns the shallow cultural level or the kind of culture that one receives. One must get his intellects and cultures from honest sources in order to not become involved in mistakes due to ignorance or wrong information.
The fourth is an environmental factor. Bad friends in the street and school or an unreligious family cause one to fall into mistakes.
As long as one is influenced by these factors, he will fall into mistakes and as long as he keeps away from them, he will remain safe.
Dear sister, you should follow the practical steps first by knowing Allah and being sincere to Him without flattering anyone. You should care much for your bodily health, think correctly, and then choose good persons to be your friends.
Question: I have a friend, who does not dislike religion but he finds it difficult to adhere to during his university study. When I invite him to religion, he says, ‘I think it is better to spend my youth in studying until I attain a high degree in the medical field. When I graduate, open a clinic, get married, and arrange my material life in all sides, I shall begin thinking of my afterlife and keeping to religion.’ I hope that you will guide him and those like him to the right path with what is easy for the youth.
The answer: All of the religious teachings are easy because Allah, Who is aware of what benefits us and what harms us, has said in the Qur'an, (Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty)18.
Dear ambitious brother, the problem has two dimensions:
The first is understanding this easy religion, about which the Prophet (S) often said proudly, ‘I have been sent with an easy and lenient Sharia’. Many people and many scholars do not know the truth of this religion and the way of following its teachings.
The second dimension is disregarding the true meanings of “easy” and “difficult”, which leads to mixing them up. Some people, for example, think that refraining from unlawful looking (at women) is difficult; therefore, they look because they consider that to be easier, but they do not know that this looking throws them into lustful imaginations when alone and then they fall into sin in different ways that weaken their concentration in study and work. Then the matter continues to get them to major sins and then problems fall on them one after the other. Their sufferings continue until they meet actual difficulties; whereas if they, from the very beginning, refrain from unlawful looking and do not consider it as a difficulty, they will not become involved in these difficulties, which they thought would be easy.
In this case, knowing religion correctly is the best way to practically distinguish between ease and difficulty. With this knowledge man can avoid difficulty and enjoy ease and then the way will become clear for him to achieve his material aims successfully. This is what religious people who act with reason and ambition experience. They have proven that there is no objection between true religion and modern science. In fact, the true religion complements modern science when it is used in its right place. There are many scientists in medicine, engineering, electronics, etc. who have put their abilities and talents at the service of injustice and corruption and harmed millions of people everywhere. However, if they were religious, they would have put their abilities in the way of justice and goodness, and so the societies would be safe from them, and people would pray to Allah to have mercy upon them, and besides that they would be happy in the afterlife.
Why does your friend think that it is difficult to adhere to religion and study in the university while he and we see, nowadays, religious young men studying in the European universities? Then, how about the universities in our own (Islamic) countries?
I fear for this university student the dangers of his reasoning, so I would like to draw his attention to the tradition narrated from Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) when he said, ‘This world is a market, in which some people profit and others lose.’ Let this brother see from which people he wants to be! Let him too ponder on this saying of Allah, (And say: Work; so Allah will see your work and (so will) His Messenger and the believers)19.
Question: I know that contentment is the cause of psychological ease and the way to attain happiness, but the question is: how can I be from the people of satisfaction and contentment?
1. Thank Allah for every blessing especially for those that others do not have!
2. Do not yearn for the pleasures that other people have!
3. When someone criticizes you, accept his criticism and do not stickle or deny it while you know your state well! I do not mean that you should acknowledge whatever people tell you even if it is not true, but I mean that you have to accustom yourself to accept criticism from others and not to attack the advisors. The very acceptance of criticism and gratitude to a criticizer is a high moral value. In other words, you have to accustom yourself to accept criticism while indifferent to whether or not it is true because this is a civil feature and a practical invitation to reject violence and dictatorship which are the causes of most of our misfortunes.
4. Take lessons from your mistakes!
5. Adapt yourself to every problem you face! Accommodation is a successful way to get rid of problems or to limit their destructive effects.
6. Try to be truthful to yourself and kind to others, for a double-faced person is unsuccessful!
7. Offer your love, kindness, and help to even those who do not offer such things to you!
8. Always think of what you shall ultimately meet, whether willingly or unwillingly! I mean death and the afterlife because death divides man into two parts: one part remains in the earth until the Day of Resurrection, and the other part is sent to Heaven until the hour of Punishment.
9. Know well that the heart is a sacred sanctum; if you visit it at night and asked its Lord for your needs, He orders His angels: ‘Give him! It is I, Who have promised him, and it is I, Who carry out My promise. Have I not said, (And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way)20.
10. Be certain and do not forget that if man possessed the entire earth, he would be greedy to possess the heaven too, but when death comes, he finds himself with neither the earth nor the heaven! Then, for what is this greediness?
11. Always, remember the advantages of contentment and the disadvantages of greed!
12. To acquire these qualities, read about them in books and associate with those who have these qualities in their conducts!
With these points, I hope that you will arrive at your aim; and do not forget me in your prayers!
Question: I suffer from suddenly becoming excited and angry. Please tell me, when I am angry, which way should I follow: should I suppress my anger or should I cast it on the ones who have caused it by shouting at and abusing them? Can you suggest to me a third alternative? I do not like the second way, though I follow it, and as for the first way, I fear that pangs may cause me to have heart failure or an apoplexy, and I do not want to die or become paralyzed. Please, show me the right way!
The answer: Up until twenty years ago, psychologists thought that it was better for man’s physical health for him to cast his anger on others instead of suppressing it and suffering from its destructive psychological and physical effects. But nowadays, this theory has become weak before the evidences of the scientists who believe that worry, psychological turmoil, spite, and internal contradictions between mind and desires cause physical diseases and especially heart failure whether man suppresses his anger or casts it onto others. However, scientists do not deny the fatal effect of the suppression of anger.
But Islam has a third way. It is by following these steps:
1. Change your position or place when you become angry and excited by sitting if you are standing, standing if you are sitting, or leaving the place for another open place and breathing as deeply as possible while raising and lowering the hands slowly!
2. Think of the greatness of Allah and His ability to punish criminals and of His patience and forgiveness if they repent and do good!
3. If you can drive out your anger from yourself through a shout or some tears shed in private, it would be better for you.
4. Look forward to the reward of Allah and think of the good end that Allah has promised the patient!
5. Impartially study the problem that has caused you to become angry, and even if the cause isn’t yours, confess your mistake and turn back to your reason. This will comfort you because sincerity is the way to deliverance!
6. In your study of your anger and melancholy, ask yourself the following questions and reflect deeply on the answers:
Is the matter so important that it justifies all this suffering?
Does the problem disappear with anger, anxiety, or pain?
Is your personality more important or responding to anger and taking revenge?
Does the one whom you become angry at and abuse have no dignity that he would defend himself by quarreling or does he suppress himself and suffer from pain like yours? Is this the cure?
Dear Muslim young man, put these points before you now and walk in your new way; it is a happy way.
Question: In my family, I have a nephew who has been psychologically shocked. Most of the time, he is silent and he likes to be alone. He speaks or reacts little in family meetings. His father says that he was not like that before. Please, tell us how we should deal with him and save him!
The answer: Melancholy, silence, introversion, and absent-mindedness are psychological diseases that begin with real reasons and then grow with illusions and imaginations. They are diseases of the societies that are subject to psychological shocks and material competitions. One who is afflicted may not understand the dangers of such diseases, but others can perceive the dangers in him through signs such as:
1. Feeling continuous fatigue
2. Low productivity if he is a worker or low comprehension if he is a student
4. Pains in the stomach, the back, and muscles
6. Passing judgments based on assumptions, emotions, and anger
7. Feeling guilty
8. Tending to be alone
9. Being confused and hesitant
10. Keeping silent
As a cure, family members should, if they see these signs, do the following:
1. They should be aware of the problem of this afflicted one and what he feels so hat he may declare what he suffers. If he does not declare his suffering, they should try, through indirect means, to identify his mental pain.
2. If he begins to declare his sufferings, they should attend to him by listening to him so that he perceives they are responsive to and care for him.
3. They should suggest some new works for him to do.
4. They should take him, after receiving his permission, to a specialist doctor.
5. They should take him to parks and the like for amusement.
6. They should try to give him hope and self-confidence by respecting him, offering him presents, and being friendly with him.
7. They should engage him in certain things and involve him in some works that he would gradually do willingly.
8. They should make him associate with a religious scholar who has a luminous spirit and bright morals.
Question: I have a religious brother, but he is too fanatic in his religiousness. With his behaviors, he does more wrong to religion than good. I am a victim of his extreme behaviors. I have committed a major sin, but instead of getting good advice from him, he chided, threatened, and insulted me. Therefore, pride carried me off to sin until I committed more sins, though I knew that I was mistaken. Now, where there is no relation between him and me, I feel regretful before Allah the Almighty, but I cannot give up the sins that I have become accustomed to. I want you to guide me to a way that I can save myself before my death comes. I have had enough of all this stubbornness and pride. I also want you to advise those like my brother, who are fanatic under the name of religion, in order to not be a cause for the youth to deviate and turn away from religion. By Allah, our religion is the best of religions if we follow it as it is.
The answer: Dear young man, O you with pure nature, allow rent to whether or not it is tru brother that has been said by the guardian of religion, the master of the pious, the example of the faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.). It has the answer: you want and the proper guidance for your brother and his like.
“Those who do not commit sins and have been gifted with safety (from sins) should have pity on sinners and other disobedient people. Gratefulness should be mostly their indulgence and it should prevent them from finding faults with others. So what about the backbiter who blames his brother and finds fault with him? Does he not remember that Allah has concealed the sins which he committed while they were bigger than his brother's sins pointed out by him? How can he vilify him about his sins when he himself has committed one like it? Even if he has not committed a similar sin he must have committed bigger ones. By Allah, even if he did not commit big sins but he committed only small sins, his exposing the sins of people is itself a big sin. O slave of Allah, do not be quick in exposing anyone's sin for he may be forgiven for it, and do not feel yourself safe even for a small sin because you may be punished for it. Therefore, every one of you who comes to know the faults of others should not expose them in view of what he knows about his own faults, and he should remain busy in thanks that he has been saved from what others have been afflicted with”21.
As for you dear brother, your despair of being able to get out of the circle of sins is itself a great sin. First, I want you to cast your despair away and pay attention to the rest of your life, which may be a year, a month, a week, a day, some minutes, or more or less. Allah, the Aware of what there is in the hearts, knows! In private, be sincere to yourself and think attentively that if you die while disobedient, will Allah accept your excuse for staying sinful?
You had better come back to your abilities that you have ignored because of your obstinacy to your brother and because of his mistake towards you. Activate these abilities and be active with them! Offer to those who consider themselves religious whereas religion is free from them a true example of religion and a beautiful picture of a religious man!
In this book and other books of ours and in those of other good scholars, you can find what lights your way. Get up! Paradise, with its eternal life and pleasures, is waiting for the pure repentant. If you turn to Allah sincerely with your repentance, you will find Him the best Helper Who will help you get out of the sins, which you think difficult to do.
Dear brother, know well that it is the Satan, who casts in your heart weakness and despair to make you follow him and remain in his camp that marches towards Hell. Do you want to accompany him to the Fire and the severe torment?
I pray to Allah to protect you and me from the Satan and the Fire. As for your situation with your brother, I ask you to delete the picture in your mind about him. Go and make up with him! This high morale gets you closer to Allah and suppresses your self to not take you towards evil. Be certain that with this behavior, great blessings from the Heaven will refresh your life, and this is my hope for you.
Question: I was one of the Mujahidin who fought in the way of Allah. Defeats and disagreements led me to the life of refugees. My family members were killed in the ill-fated Iraq. I was in a failed marriage that ended with divorce. I have a little daughter who kept crying during our emigration. I have become nervous. I cannot tolerate hearing any loud sound. Whenever I remember the misfortunes I have met with in my life, I feel the way to a normal life and comfortable mentality is closed for me. Sometimes I think of suicide, but because of my daughter, I have not committed this unlawful murder. I do not know what to do. I can tolerate neither people nor myself. Where shall I go? I do not know!
The answer: Dear brother, man’s life is composed of hours; in some of them, he is glad, and in others he is distressed. In the first case, he should thank Allah for the blessings and in the second case, he must be patient and busy himself with supplicating to Allah instead of sinking into worry and melancholy because of disappointment. When man remembers the painful events that have happened to him, he should hasten to delete them from his mind, but he should take lessons from them so that they should not happen again. If it is the will of Allah, man must submit and be satisfied and content with what Allah has determined.
Dear brother, thinking negatively and sinking into the bitter past can destroy your future, which may be free of bitterness. This gloomy thinking exposes your spiritual and mental health to dangers, which, surely, you do not want.
You ask me how to overcome this destructive thinking and save yourself from the floods of negative ideas that keep you away from constructive thinking for a better future.
First, think of your hidden abilities and talents, because man is a spring of powers, and at any time, he can decide to get something out of this spring!
Second, do not think that you have reached a closed way and that there is no solution for you except to be buried under the piles of misfortunes, bitter memories, and fatal pangs, because such thinking means despairing of the mercy of Allah. Perhaps, this thinking may be the very cause of your feeling that the way is closed before you.
Third, while alone, sit and remember your successful and good deeds in life! Ponder on the bright pages of your life, for no one is free from such pages! If you do not remember anything of that, it is enough for you to remember the blessing of breathing you have now. Thank Allah and rely on Him to use this blessing in gaining a success that may recompense what has gone!
Fourth, diagnose your state and know your position due to your ambition! Instead of remorse, blaming yourself, and repeating desperate interrogative words like (why, when, how, if…), diagnose the points of your weakness and determine to change them into points of strength, and instead of blaming others, perform your actual duties, and use your physical and spiritual powers in this way! In order to have good deeds, avoid the bad deed of destroying yourself or others!
Fifth, if it is necessary to talk to others about the misfortunes you have faced, find someone who is able to understand your sufferings and gives you a spiritual cure by relieving words. Do this, especially if you feel that not talking about your sufferings brings you another complex!
Sixth, if your problem is something like sin, know well that Allah has opened the door of repentance before sinners and said, (Surely Allah loves those who turn to Him)22. Hasten to the shadow of His love, for Allah is sufficient for His servant when he turns to Him!
Seventh, improve your thinking and get new information about what you need in your life, because knowledge is a light that luminates one’s way and takes him to a better condition! Thus was the Prophet (S), who was the most aware among all of the creatures in existence. He often supplicated to Allah by saying, ‘My Lord! Increase my knowledge’. Continuing a search for knowledge is necessary to help man out of his psychological distresses and bitter memories.
Eighth, forget the bitter past, pardon whoever has done you wrong, expect your reward from Allah tomorrow (on the Day of Resurrection), and ask Him to forgive you if you are mistaken or unjust while unaware of this! Pardoning and leniency make your life easy and relieve your heart, so why do you not pardon those with whom you have disagreed?
The Prophet (S) has said, ‘Whoever casts spite out of his heart, Allah increases his livelihood.’ Livelihood here is more encompassing than material and moral blessings.
Dear brother, it is a big mistake to trouble our lives and cause pain to those around us in our family or workplace because of the sufferings of our past or because of spite towards others.
Come on! Let us cast hatred, spite, and our failed experiments out of ourselves and live the rest of our lives peacefully and happily!
Dear brother, be merciful to the remaining hours of your age and do not burn them in the fire of your nervousness! Throw those painful scenes and sad memories away! You cannot change them, for they have already happened and are out of your control! However, you can change yourself for what remains of your future because it has not happened yet. Your future is still under your control and the change begins from the present, which is this moment and not a moment later!
Ninth, not all people are bad. Get married again and be more particular in choosing your wife! Tell her frankly about your past and that you have determined to lead a good and honest life! Tell her that you are looking for a helper with whom to spend your life, with love and mercy, and this is also the right of your innocent child!
Tenth, adhere to supplication and pondering over the words of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), for mentioning Allah according to the way of those whom Allah has purified from uncleanness relieves the heart. Then, you will drive the evil whispering of the Satan and your bad thoughts of suicide, which will throw you into the eternal Fire, away from your self. Patience with the problems of this life is much easier than patience with the fire of Hell. The first patience is possible and it leads you to Paradise and the eternal bliss, while the second is bitterer than bitterness and it keeps you in the eternal torment of Fire.
Eleventh, be certain that (Surely with difficulty is ease. Surely with difficulty is ease)23. This repetition of the verse emphasize that distresses have ends.
Imam Ali (a.s.) said to Qayss bin Sa’d, who had come to him from Egypt, ‘O Qayss, distresses have ends that they must get to. A reasonable one must be patient with them until they end, because suffering from them when they come increases them.24’
Twelfth, always think of the reward you will get for your patience when you will come to Allah alone! Will the patient not enter into Paradise without reckoning?
Question: I have a friend who is lustful. Once, he asked me how he should suppress his lust lest he should become involved in even more sins. I told him, ‘I do not know, but I shall bring you an answer that benefits you inshallah.’ O Sheikh, would you please explain to him and those like him what can save them from these dangers? I myself know that, in general, many young men secretly practice different kinds of unlawful lusts without thinking of their destructive ends.
The answer: The sexual lust is one of the most dangerous lusts in man. This does not mean that Islam wants to suppress or extinguish it. Islam has a moderate method in guiding this lust towards the aim that it has been created for, which is marriage and then reproduction in order to keep the existence of humankind continuous on the earth. Without this great aim, there would be no need for this lust to be created by Allah the Almighty and consequently there would be no continuance of life for man at all. The sexual lust is planted in man for the sake of this noble purpose.
As for your friend, his case may be irregular; therefore, he should:
1. visit a specialist doctor.
2. avoid looking at what excites his lust.
3. always remember the terrible end of unlawfulness and its perishing consequences.
4. know the value of himself as a human being and that he is not a beast and should know that panting after lusts degrades him.
5. prepare himself to get married at the first opportunity and without difficult material conditions and if he cannot, he should practice temporary marriage, but not make it as his basic aim.
6. practice sports that fit his wish and physical abilities.
7. starve himself (by fasting, for example) because hunger weakens lust, whereas food nourishes it.
8. ponder on the following Qur’anic verses and act according to them, (But there came after them an evil generation, who neglected prayers and followed lusts, so they will meet perdition. Save him who shall repent and believe and do right. Those will enter the Garden, and they will not be wronged in aught. Gardens of Eden, which the Beneficent hath promised to His slaves in the unseen. Lo! His promise is ever sure of fulfillment. They shall not hear therein any vain discourse, but only Peace, and they shall have their sustenance therein morning and evening. This is the Garden which We cause the devout among Our bondmen to inherit)25.
Question: I frankly say that we, the young men of nowadays, see, hear, and understand the sexual matters that our fathers might have understood when they became thirty years old, and simply somehow. In this age, everything excites. The means of practicing sex, in most countries, are available even to children. What is the view of Islam concerning satisfying this pressing lust that our fathers do not understand?
The answer: We understand this feeling with all its details, and there is no shyness in religion. Thank you for your daring question and your search for the view of Islam about this important subject.
The natural inclination between man and woman has deep roots and is connected with the creation of man and woman, because Allah has made it as a bridge for the life of humankind to continue by reproduction on the earth. On the other hand, if this inclination is not satisfied, excited nerves become tired, and this is a continuous torture for both man and woman.
Looking, laughing, flirting, gestures, and soft tones excite and move the fiery sexual lust and cause torture for both the excited and the exciter. Every one understands this fact.
Such excitements make some husbands unsatisfied with their wives, and this leads to divorce and the destruction of families. The same is said about some wives who look at men, who are more handsome than their husbands, for the sake of pleasure and lust.
This is in our societies that are aloof from their Islam, but as for the western societies and their cultures of libertinism, sexual inclination has had an ardent color for the past century and then has developed into a scientific method through profound researches and studies in the fields of education and psychological medicine.
There is no doubt that politicians and businessmen, who have great capitals in the world, have played their malicious roles in exploiting the sexual lusts to bind peoples and societies and draw them towards their financial benefits.
Islam has its own view towards this natural instinct and its unique method in responding to it. Islam has established teachings and principles to achieve a balanced conduct in satisfying the sexual instinct and to arrive at the best method, which protects man from deviation and problems that can destroy families and their happiness.
Islam does not suppress the sexual lust, but it rectifies it and offers it to be satisfied with the best educational manners to save the entity of family from dissolution and destruction. A good family that follows Islam produces good children, who stand against the corruptions surrounding them in society.
Islam does not neglect the requirements of the sexual instinct, but instead Islam makes it submissive to man instead of subjecting man to the Satan and degrading his dignity and honor to make him as a worthless beast.
O young men, whoever submits to his lusts without limits is not free but is in fact a slave to his lusts. Free people are those who control their lusts that they could satisfy in any way but they do not do so.
Imam Ali (a.s.) said, ‘Whoever leaves lusts is free.’
He also said, ‘The worst enemies of man are his anger and lust. Whoever controls them is exalted and he reaches his aims.’
Since woman, as a whole, is beauty and excitement in her voice and doings, Islam has ordered her not to show her beauty, not to soften her voice, and not to do exciting gestures except for her husband.
We read in the Qur'an that Allah the Almighty has forbidden the Prophet’s wives from talking to foreigners with exciting tones that might move their lusts and then those with diseased hearts might covet them.
(O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; but speak a good word)26.
Softening in speech, exciting gestures, joking, and jesting or any thing that is lawful only between a wife and her husband or a woman and her mahram, are not lawful to take place between a woman and a foreign man 27 in order to not be as the beginning towards something else.
The Holy Qur'an also teaches us the manners of family and social relations between men and women in this way, (And when you ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts)28.
These are the Islamic facts that the Muslims must pay attention to, but the reality that the society lives in is something else; and the question of the youth shows they are looking for an Islamic resolution according to the actual reality of the society.
Here, we advise of the following:
1. Early marriage; and if it is not possible due to a reasonable excuse, a young man should be patient and should fast, but if the lust overcomes him and he fears committing sin, he should practice temporary marriage until Allah makes him able to marry in eternal marriage.
2. Fathers and mothers have to understand these facts and comprehend the sexual needs of the youth in the lawful way; otherwise, parents unknowingly throw their children into corruption, and hence they will be punished on the Day of Resurrection with two punishments; one for prohibiting a lawful thing and the other for causing the youth to become involved in sin.
Question: What is the situation of Islam towards masturbation? Some youths say that doctors think it has no harm.
The answer: Not all that doctors say is true. There are other doctors that say the opposite. What is important to us is what our Wise Creator says. He is more aware of His creatures. Islam, which is the speech of Allah, is clear in its verdicts. The Prophet (S) and his progeny have prohibited it.
Masturbation is a filthy doing. Some traditions have called it as “adultery with oneself”. It does not fit the dignity of a respectable man. The clearest evidence on its ugliness is that the doer feels disgust with himself after finishing this act.
Islam does not prohibit a thing unless it has a great harm. In this concern, masturbation weakens the sexual ability at the time when it is needed in marriage. This weakness appears in the sudden ejaculation or that the penis does not stand erect during making love, and this mortifies sexual pleasure and kills marital happiness, which, consequently excites the nerves of the wife and the husband and then their lives enter into the tunnel of problems and troubles.
Doctors think that one of the causes for itching in the genitals and the area around them is masturbation. This makes one who practices masturbation rub his genitals even before others. Among the harms of this bad habit are leanness, headache, sudden exhaustion, and fatigue.
These harms cause a dangerous psychological state that leads one to worry, melancholy, loneliness, and complexes, which are the factors of final failure.
Incidentally, I remember that in 1984 in India, Bombay, a young man from the Arab Gulf countries committed suicide by throwing himself from the window of a hotel, and the reason, as it was said, was that he became angry at his sexual failure (and that his sword could not stretch in his bitter sexual fighting) with an Indian prostitute. He took a knife, cut his genitals, and threw himself into Hell and the evil destination!
I do not think that colonialists, the producers of sex films, and the doctors, who are bound by these circles, want something for the youth besides this failure and collapse!
Dear young man, do you understand now why Islam has prohibited this bad habit?
The Prophet (S) has said, ‘He who makes love with his hand is cursed.29’
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said, ‘There are three persons, whom Allah will not talk to, look at, or purify and who will get painful torment on the Day of Resurrection; one who plucks out his white hairs (shaves his beard), one who makes love with himself (practices masturbation), and one who is sodomized on.30’
We must mention here that the prohibition of masturbation does not concern males only, but females also are not permitted to practice it.
How great the situation of Imam Ali (a.s.) was towards someone who had been accused of practicing masturbation! Imam Ali (a.s.) would beat him on his hand until it turned red and them he would make him marry by giving him money from the treasury.31
Dear brother, I feel that you wish you were in an Islamic state which was ruled by someone like Imam Ali (a.s.) who would marry you from the revenue of the treasury that was specified for the welfare of the Muslims!
I say: take me with you in your wishes! Ali and his Islamic state remain as two orphaned examples on the page of history!
Question: I am a young man. I want to get married according to the Sunna of Allah and His messenger (S). I do not want to be involved in the unlawful relations that are customary in our society, which follows the corrupt cultures of the West in all fields. However, the obstacles before me are many: my family, who says that I am still young and that I have to complete my university studies and find a job before all, besides the expensive dowries and high costs of weddings that young men like me cannot bear. The difficulties for a lawful marriage cause many youths to become involved in sin, which is easier and hidden from the eyes of parents, who are the main cause for the sins by placing obstacles before lawfulness and opening the door of unlawfulness. I, who cannot lawfully get married to the girl I want, can commit sin with her if I want, but I fear Allah. Do others fear Allah too? This problem, as you know, causes psychological complexes, makes the youth absent-minded in their studies, and unable to comprehend knowledge because of their being busy thinking of lusts and being away from religion and obligations, and consequently they fall into family troubles, moral scandals and… Then, what is the solution?
The answer: Dear faithful brother, what you suffer is a part of the tragedy that has afflicted our society in all fields. Concerning the matter of marriage and the indifference of parents towards it, the tragedy is something disgraceful.
The solution is not something easy because the war is general against all the Umma. Globalization with its technical tools via the internet and satellites has entered into the closed rooms and most parents do not know what these tools do to their sons and daughters; in fact they cannot believe or imagine the dangers!
Our misfortune is not one. Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea because of the evil that people have done. Great corruption has become evident due to refraining from getting married to good and faithful persons as Islam wishes.
I do not want to offer theoretical solutions to you or others like you. The reality is painful and just words are unsatisfactory. There are some solutions in both frames of protection and cure.
As for protection, first, try to overlook sexual incitements such as unveiled girls in the streets, films, magazines, and books concerning stories of love and lusts! And second, practice fasting for the sake of Allah and busy yourself with studying, reading, practicing sports, and planning for your future!
As for cure, if you cannot bear it, you are to practice temporary marriage according to the legal limits that have been explained by the religious authorities in their books of jurisprudence, besides the moral limits that the pure nature imposes on the faithful youth like you.
Let young men and young women be certain that Islam has not left its followers to fend for themselves in times of crisis. Islam has given us successful solutions for both protection and cure, always and forever. Islam has wisdom in every verdict, and it does not say anything in vain. Far be it from Allah, the Aware, the Wise to reveal a religion without wisdom and then order people to follow it so they will all be in Hell! Allah is more Exalted than vanity and injustice.
Question: What is the viewpoint of Islam about the love between a young man and a young woman before the legal agreement of marriage, where they exchange their feelings via the telephone and letters or by going together to the park for example – of course without any touching with the hand or body? Some (religious) people say that this is lawful as long as it is as the initial step towards marriage. What do you think about the matter?
The answer: In the steps that precede marriage, it is sufficient to obtain information from relatives first, and then, as a second step, have a public meeting with family and without gestures or words that may excite lust. There is no objection if a young man looks at a young woman without her veil when there is a serious intention of marriage. But, if a young man intends to be deceitful just to get pleasure, the company and the meeting will be unlawful. It has been noticed in the cases of love between the youth in our present age that they are of the second kind, in which love relation continues until it reaches touching of the hands and body, because after the premises mentioned in the questions, lust overcomes both the young man and the young woman until they sleep together to satisfy their furious lust. Then, the young man goes to look for another victim and so on. As experience has proven, girls who are deceived by the words of love become the losers at the end.
The Islamic Sharia has prohibited these premises because it knows the consequences, which we witness in real life. Also Islam prohibits these things in order to protect the dignity of young women and to close the door before the youth who try to take advantage of the honor of young women and then leave them to look for a second victim to deceive and then a third, and so on…!
I do not think that Islam agrees with the present day love relations at all. Religious men and women have to be absolutely careful, for a reasonable person is one who takes lessons from the experiences of others.
Question: I am a young man at the beginning of adulthood. I suffer from a fierce pressure of lust. As you know, Islam encourages early marriage lest the youth commit sins and disobediences in this critical age, but I do not know how I should venture into my future and from what point I should begin. Please, explain to me what I should understand in this age, and I have determined to get married Inshallah.
The answer: Dear brother, there are some things I would like to advise you of:
1. You should know that you are about to establish a joint life that has new concepts and manners. It is mixed with sweetness and bitterness, but its sweetness prevails if you choose the partner of your life according to reasonable steps, and its bitterness prevails if you choose due to the passion of lust and sentimental motives. Therefore, Islam teaches us, ‘If you want to get married, ask Allah for proper guidance and determination, and then offer two-rak’as prayer, and raise your hands and say, “O Allah, I want to get married. Prepare for me from the women the best of them in shape and morals, the most chaste, the best in keeping my honor and wealth, the most beautiful, and the most productive.32”
Thus, you encompass your desires and your religious values and spiritual honesty.
2. Know well that a new life, which is connected with your fate, is worth reading about before falling into its problems.
It is necessary for those who want to get married to read one book, at least, about the matters they will face at the time of marriage because after marriage, time is spent on sentimental relations, and then the joint life would be based on ignorance of the basis of happiness; therefore problems after problems will take place that may destroy the real pleasure of marriage which is happiness, calmness, love, and joy.
3. Try not to be rash in getting married! Make all preparations and secure your material ability as much as possible for the traditional requirements, but within the limits of reason! Beware of wasting or thinking of play and amusement in the wedding, because a marriage that begins with unlawful things will not have a good end because Allah will not bless it, and the Satan does not have any blessings to give!
Question: I am from a poor family; therefore, I cannot think of marriage at any time in the near future. What shall I do with my pressing lust? I am religious, and I do not want to become polluted with the sins that invite me towards them everyday. Please, give me a scientific solution, for theories neither nourish nor do they release one from hunger!
The answer: The Prophet (S) has said, ‘O youth, whoever of you is able to get married, let him get married, for it is better to protect his eyes from unlawful looking and his genitals from sins; and whoever is unable, let him fast, because fasting is as a protection to him (stops his lust).33’
Based on this Prophetic tradition, I say, dear brother, there is no way before you except to either get married or to fast. There are two kinds of marriage. One is permanent marriage, which is required firstly and lastly. I advise you to this kind of marriage in spite of your financial difficulties. Look for a young woman who accepts your weak financial condition and tell her: Allah has promised to enrich us with His favor after marriage. Let us believe in Him and His promise and rely on Him. He has said in His Book, (And marry those among you who are single and those who are virtuous among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will enrich them out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing)34.
Once, a young man from the Prophet’s companions came to the Prophet (S) and said to him, ‘My mother and I have had nothing at all for lunch today.’ He expected that the Prophet (S) would give him something, but the Prophet (S) said to him,
The young man thought that the Prophet (S) did not hear him properly, so he said again, ‘O messenger of Allah, I have had nothing even for lunch today. How can I get married?’
The Prophet (S) said again, ‘Get married!’
The young man repeated his saying and the Prophet (S) said to him, ‘Get married!’
The young man was astonished that the Prophet (S) did not give him anything, though the generous Prophet (S) would give his clothes and food even to his enemies.
The young man went back to his mother and told her what the Prophet (S) had said.
The mother said, ‘Surely, the Prophet (S) sees a wisdom in that.’ She asked for her son’s permission to ask for their neighbor’s hand. He agreed and the girl came to her husband’s house so simply and with no cost that the wedding was on the same day.
The young man thought to himself that he could not leave his wife with no means of livelihood. Therefore, he went out of the town to collect some firewood. He sold the firewood for two dirhams. He bought some food with one dirham and saved the other to buy an axe. When he had collected four dirhams, he could afford to buy an axe to cut firewood with, in order to not hurt his hands with thorns.
After some days, he could afford to buy a camel to carry the firewood on to the market. Every morning, he went to the desert to collect firewood with his axe and then carried it on his camel to the market to sell it. On the fortieth day of his marriage, the Prophet (S) saw him in Medina leading his camel. The Prophet (S) asked him about the camel. The young man told the Prophet (S) his story. The Prophet (S) said to him, ‘Did I not tell you to get married?’ Later on, this young man became one of the wealthiest people of Medina35.
Dear brother, do not fear poverty, because fearing poverty will keep you in it! Rely on Allah sincerely and try your best to find how the promise of Allah will shine in your joint life with your wife!
However, if you cannot get married and your lust is furious as you say, you can extinguish it through fasting and worshipping. If this cannot extinguish your lust, you have to practice the last solution: temporary marriage, which Allah has made lawful but some ignorant people have prohibited and therefore, they have involved themselves and their followers in adultery and psychological complexes that result from suppressing this instinct.
Temporary marriage, if you obtain the acceptance of the other side (a divorced woman or a widow), is a preferable solution in certain cases. Do not trouble yourself since Allah has permitted this thing! The wording of the agreement of this type of marriage, after agreeing with the other side on the dowry and the period of marriage, is that she should say first (I marry myself to you on the specified dowry and for the specified period) and then you reply by saying (I agree). Then, you both have to adhere to the legal conditions of this marriage. The most important condition is that she must, after the period of your temporary marriage ends, undergo the idda36 and then divorce between you takes place automatically. You can remarry again if you want but with agreeing on another period and dowry. The idda of temporary marriage is the passing of two menstruation cycles if the woman intends to get married with another man, but with the same man, there is no need for the idda. I advise you not to let a child be formed, because it will be your legal child and then you must undertake its rights as your and her child, and hence, this requires you, due to morals, to get married in a permanent marriage and live happily.
Question: I am a young woman at the university and I observe the veil. I notice certain things in my classmates that are closer to unlawfulness than to lawfulness. Some of them justify their relations with young men in the university as they will be their future husbands. It is clear that they deceive themselves with this speech. Many of them are in love with some youths and then after some time they decide to be in love with others according to their youthful fancies. Frankly, I say that the Satan whispers to me in these environments and he is about to defeat me. I do not know how to match my religion with the pressing physical needs in such an exciting environment! Would you please suggest a solution for me? It is worth mentioning that there are many other girls like myself but they are too shy to express themselves.
The answer: I will begin answering from the end of your question and say: dear sister, shyness is the strongest fort that protects chastity. A girl is precious due to her chastity, gravity, shyness, and veil. If these noble qualities are lost, the value of a girl is lost and she becomes a worthless thing even in the eyes of deceitful men. Who can accept that the partner of his life should be a girl whom the hands of other men have touched or whose charms their suspicious eyes have seen?
This thought is stronger in faithful men who have jealousy and dignity. Allah has honored woman, given her a high position, protected her with veil, and planted in her shyness to resist those who consider her as a cheap good. The corruption, which has spread everywhere and which has been planned by Zionism and its followers, has deprived girls of their shyness and made them the main source of deviation, family problems, and spouse troubles.
Woman has been preferred to man with ninety-nine portions of pleasure but Allah has granted shyness to her, as it has been mentioned in a tradition narrated from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.). The media and the satellite TV stations, which resist the religion of Allah and fight moral values, have deprived woman of her shyness and then she has become excited, destroying the tranquility of families and bringing them numerous problems. Is it right for Muslim girls to cause this torment and destruction for the lives of young men and the lives of married men and married women?
When a university girl, from whom it is supposed that her scientific level will prevent her from doing wrong, puts off her veil and uncovers her charms, she does wrong against herself, people, and families. When she excites men’s lusts and attracts their hearts towards her, they cannot get her or they feel shy to approach her and tell the truth; therefore, their wishes and desires accumulate inside themselves, and later on their relations with their wives and children become strangled and then disagreements and quarrels take place that may end in divorce and the loss of children as often happens.
Let this unveiled girl, who does such wrongs to families, not forget that one day when she gets married to live tranquilly with her husband and children, another girl will come to influence her husband’s reason and emotions and will bring her life storms of problems. It has been mentioned in traditions, ‘As you condemn (others) you are condemned (by others).’ And this is what the imperialists want when they spread debauchery, shameful fashions, nightclubs, ballrooms, and immoral songs.
Let these girls also not forget that they do wrong towards knowledge when they excite lust in the university and school by busying the youths’ senses and their own senses and direct the attentions towards unlawful things, and then minds and hearts will have no inclination towards knowledge and its deep matters. Therefore, most university graduates are without good abilities.
Unveiledness, displaying of charms, and distracting hearts with immoralities – whether by young men or young women – are considered to be a great crime against man, family, society, religion, knowledge, and progress.
What do you think the punishment of this great crime will be on the Day of Resurrection?
The Prophet (S) of this umma, which has become detached from its religion, answers this question with his tears. Let every girl and woman who belongs to this religion ponder over the following tradition.
Imam Ali (a.s.) has said, ‘Once, Fatima and I went to the messenger of Allah (S) and found him crying bitterly. I asked, ‘O messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you! What makes you cry?’
He said, ‘O Ali, on the night (of ascension) when I was ascended to the Heaven, I saw some women from my community in great torment. I denied their affair. I cried when I saw the severe torment they suffered. I saw a woman hanging by her hair while her brain was boiling. I saw another one hanging by her tongue while boiling fluid was poured onto her back. I saw another woman hanging by her breasts and another one eating her own flesh while the fire was lit under her. I saw another one with her legs and hands tied together while snakes and scorpions were set against her. I saw a blind, deaf, and dumb woman in a coffin of fire while her brain came out of her nose and her body was cut because of leprosy. I saw a woman hung by her legs in an oven of fire. I saw a woman who was cutting her flesh from behind and in front of her with scissors of fire. I saw a woman with her face and hands being burned while she was eating her intestines. I saw a woman with a head of a pig and a body of a donkey suffering a million kinds of torments. I saw a woman who was like a dog while fire entered into her back and came out of her mouth while the angels beat her head and body with bats of fire.’
Fatima (a.s.) said, ‘O dear father, would you please tell me what those women have done so that Allah has placed them in such torments?’
The Prophet (S) said, ‘Dear daughter, as for the one who was hanging by her hair, she did not cover her hair before men (in the worldly life). The one who was hanging by her tongue hurt her husband. The one who was hanging by her breasts refrained from sleeping with her husband. The one who was hanging by her legs went out of her house without her husband’s permission. The one who ate her own flesh adorned herself for men other than her husband. The one whose hands and legs were tied together and snakes and scorpions were set against her was dirty (in the worldly life) with filthy clothes and she did not make ablution after janabah37 and menstruation, did not cleanse herself, and paid no attention to her prayers. The one who was blind, deaf, and dumb gave birth to children out of adultery and ascribed them to her husband. The one who cut her flesh with scissors of fire offered herself to men. The one whose face and body were burned while eating her intestines was a pimp. The one whose head resembled that of a pig and her body resembled that of a donkey was a talebearer and liar. The one who was like a dog and fire entered from her back and came out of her mouth was a singer, weeper, and envier.’
Then Imam Ali (a.s.) said commenting on the Prophet’s speech, ‘Woe unto a woman who makes her husband angry and blessed is she who makes her husband pleased with her.38’
Following the Islamic rulings and good morals, reviving one’s conscience, and thinking of death and the punishment on the Day of Resurrection are motivations to keep women, men, families, and societies safe from many dangers and corruptions.
Dear sister, what you see at the university, in material societies, in bad films, in the street, at the shores, or in any other place is to test your will and your faith in your religion. The value of a man becomes higher when being tried by difficulties in these areas. So you should be patient, stick to your studies, and continue on the way to success so that you will taste the sweetness of patience and straightforwardness throughout your life for Allah will not waste the reward of the patient.
This is what you notice in this tradition reported from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.), though it addresses males but it concerns women too. Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, ‘Whoever looks at a woman and raises his sight towards the sky or closes his eyes, his sight will not come back to him until Allah will marry him to houris39.’
The tradition can be read in this way “whoever looks at a young man and raises her sight towards the sky or closes her eyes her sight will not come back to her until Allah will marry her to immortal youths (who remain young).’
Of course, this will be in Paradise, which one sets out towards from the first night in the grave, but the results of that before death are comfort and peace of the heart that bring good and respect in this life whenever you remember your purity and strong will.
If we suppose that there is a faithful young woman who cannot put a moral veil between her and the young men around her, and she wants, in order to keep some things more important, to have an honest relationship with a faithful young man who can be her husband in the future, then she can agree with him to a temporary marriage agreement where they both can recite its specific formula and then they would be better satisfied with talking with each other, without being alone or sleeping together. In other words, lawful relations should be bound by a legal agreement within their pressing needs and without going farther than that, for a virgin girl may open her eyes to find that she has lost the most precious thing she has and then she will live with black memories, sadly and melancholy!
Because this possibility may also happen to a virgin girl in a temporary marriage, most of our jurisprudents have prohibited it strongly. Therefore, I do not advise you to do a temporary marriage unless you fear falling into sin, in which case some of our jurisprudents have permitted it.
Question: Our neighbor has a fifteen-year old daughter. She used to send me love songs and invited me to friendship and even to … Whenever I turned away from her, she would increase seducing me in irresistible ways. At last, what was bound to happen happened and continued until “marriage” took place without a legal agreement of marriage. Now, she is regretful and so am I. Definitely, our families will not agree on our marriage if we tell them the truth because they will say that our ages do not fit the responsibility of marriage. I do not know where our secret relationship will lead us or what we will become! Please, judge our case and we will be grateful!
The answer: Since the beginning, you have stepped into the way of the Satan. The first thing that you must do is pray to Allah to forgive you your great sins, which will affect your life if you do not hasten to repent sincerely and suffer real regret. Nevertheless, your memories will still keep the ugly pictures of your sin to sting your consciences from time to time. This is first.
Second, you have to establish an agreement of temporary marriage secretly and decrease your meetings except at the time of need.
Third, you should prepare for the procedures of continuous marriage gradually and in a wise way that will not bring you troubles from your families.
Fourth, you should always think of this bad experiment and the outcome of sin and know that it obliterates moral happiness and mental tranquility. Others have to take a lesson from this vice.
Fifth, pray to Allah to forgive you whenever you remember your sin and ask Him to protect your offspring from the same sin and its like!
Question: In Islam, early marriage is preferred, but life nowadays does not assure the opportunity of early marriage. The marital life does not begin except after finishing university study, getting a job, and then saving enough money. This means that one becomes more than thirty years old. And this also means that the youth suffer from sexual lust and the wish to satisfy this lust for more than fifteen years. Some of the youth practice this lust during these years and then get married after practical experiments, and others remain patient while the effects of suppression and deprivation appear on them. I do not know how to accord the opinion of Islam, which is the right opinion without any doubt, with the reality and its requirements and obstacles!
The answer: Dear brother or dear sister, your question shows the depth of the plot that the imperialists have planned against our Islamic community through imposing a system of living that is quite far from our religion and culture.
Our religion has become deserted and the culture of corrupters has controlled the behaviors of most Muslims. The Prophet (S) has said, ‘O people, Gabriel has revealed to me from the Kind, the Wise that virgins are like fruits on trees. If the fruits ripen but are not picked, they will be damaged by the sun and become scattered by the wind. So are virgins. If they become adults, there will be no treatment for them except to get married; otherwise, they will not be safe from corruption because they are human40’ . Then, are the youth safe from the waves of corruption?
In spite of that, it is possible to achieve early marriage to avoid slipping into corruption. This is done after the satisfaction of both sides, the young man and the young woman, away from competing over unnecessary things and ceremonies that are full of excess and pride.
The Prophet (S) has said, ‘Whenever a young man gets married at early age, the Satan vociferates, ‘Woe unto him! Woe unto him! He has preserved two thirds of his religion from me!’ Let one fear Allah in the remaining third!41’
Responsibility lies with the clergy, writers, teachers, and instructors to guide society (fathers and mothers) to the Islamic values in facilitating and hastening marriage after explaining the principles of life and the marital responsibilities to the youth.
The matter should be explained with all its dangerous dimensions, especially the destructive effects on individuals, health, family, society, and religion when young men and young women are prevented from early marriage. What is known by all about the secret corruption of most teenagers of nowadays is just a small part of those destructive effects.
Let all efforts be directed towards opening a lawful way in order to prevent secret, unlawful relations. Islam has shown the lawful way by facilitating marriage and making young spouses understand their joint responsibilities. If we suppose that permanent marriage is not possible and the choice remains between unlawful relations behind curtains, or suppressing the sexual lust and causing physical and psychological diseases, or secret relations authorized by an agreement of temporary marriage, definitely the last choice is preferred. With this kind of relation, the two young spouses can continue their individual lives until they graduate, get jobs, and prepare themselves for the requirements of permanent marriage. However, if someone can clear his way with fasting and worshipping without practicing temporary marriage, it will be better.
I hope that we all can understand these Islamic solutions and dare with them to get out of our crises and change the ways of the Western life, which are foreign to Muslims.
Question: I have a handsome friend who is twenty-two years old. He has had love relations with more than thirty girls since he became an adult, as he claims. Of course, they do not know that. He exchanges love affairs with each of them and promises to marry them in the future. He might even practice something unlawful with them; I am not sure, but I would not put that past him. He tells me that he, via the telephone, makes friends with them, deceives them, and then laughs at their naiveties. When he satisfies his desires, he fabricates an excuse to move on to his new quarry! He describes girls as an amusement and they are like toys in his hand.
I have advised him to give up these prohibited acts, but he often invites me to join his deceitful table saying: we have to enjoy our lives!!
Sometimes, he lifts the telephone and lets me hear the voice of a girl who has been deceived by his words of love. When I see this, I become so angry at the naivety of our girls. I myself know some of them who are from noble and honorable families, but I fear that troubles may happen if I tell their families about this.
O Sheikh, please tell me how to deal with this friend so that Allah may be pleased with me and that my conscience may be at ease, and also tell how to protect the honor of our girls from such beastly human beings!
The answer: Dear faithful brother, may Allah bless your protectiveness! As for your friend, though he really is not a friend, you should ask him: how would you like to see a young man do with your sisters or nieces the same thing that you do with the daughters of other people? In the future, when you get married and have daughters, and when your daughters grow up and become teenagers, how would you feel if you saw a young man doing with your daughters as you do with the girls of your society today?
Continue guiding him with the aid of clergymen and religious people, and do not let him play with the honors of people and Muslim girls! Be certain that the girls will thank you, even later on, and thank whoever tries to protect their reputations.
As for those girls whom you know, send them unsigned letters in which you advise them due to religion and protectiveness. Tell them that they are being deceived by one who deceives other girls at the same time.
I have a word to say to the oblivious fathers and mothers of these girls: awake from torpor and loss! Where are your conscience and jealousy? Where are your honor and magnanimity? Where are your dignity and morality? Why have you sunk into the pleasures of this world to the degree of vice and scandal? Do you not see death, the grave, and torment? Are there no graveyards in your town to visit and from which to take lessons from the people in the graves and ponder on their states under the ground?
Alas for the loss of good morals!
O our Lord, we seek Your protection from misleading fancies and from following the mirage of the Satan. O Allah, awake us from the torpor of ignorance and take us peacefully to the eternal abode near You!
Question: I want to get married, but I want you to advise me. How should I move to a life that I have not known before?
The answer: Dear young man, marriage is a great and important decision in one’s life. When a reasonable man decides to take such an important decision, he has to think deeply and wisely.
Dear brother, first, you have to prepare for all the requirements of marriage, and then do not act, when choosing the partner of your life, as if you are buying something from a store. This is also said to a young woman when choosing the partner of her life. You have to be very precise in choosing the qualities of your future wife in order to be happy and successful and to win the good end.
It is mentioned that one day a young man, whose name was Ibrahim al-Karkhi, asked Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) a question like yours. Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) said to him, ‘See where you will put yourself, who you will make a partner in your wealth, and to whom you will reveal your religion and secrets…42’
In another tradition, Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said, ‘Woman is like a necklace. See what necklace you put on!’43
Then, advance to take the other steps and beware of aiming at just beauty or wealth, because these two things may disappear by accidents, which will not tell you before they take place. If you do not concentrate your choice on faith and morals, you will face a dark fate.
Do not misunderstand me and think that Islam does not pay attention to beauty and wealth, but Islam warns of making them the priority when choosing one’s wife (or husband). The Prophet (S) has said, ‘From the happiness of a Muslim man is…a beautiful woman who is religious.44’ He has also said, ‘A Muslim man does not profit from anything, after Islam, better than a Muslim woman, who pleases him when he looks at her, obeys him when he orders her, and is devoted to him in keeping her honor and his wealth when he is absent.45’
Outward beauty may give pleasure, but religious and moral beauty gives more pleasure. Therefore, it is mentioned that one day a man asked Imam Hasan (a.s.), ‘To whom should I marry my daughter?’ Imam Hasan (a.s.) said to him, ‘Marry her to a pious man, because if he loves her, he will honor her, and if he hates her, he will not do wrong towards her.46’
The beauty of morals and piety defeats the crises that throw marital life into melancholy. O dear young man who are about to get married, you have to read about these principles and values and then rely on Allah. We would like to say to you and to your wife: congratulations on your marriage!
Question: I am a young man in the university from a wealthy family. I have all the means of luxury, and, of course, most of them are unlawful. In my fight between reason and lust, I do not know how to make reason defeat lust. Would you please guide me to the right way?
The answer: First, strengthen your determination with sincere repentance to Allah, and then watch yourself according to the following method, which I have quoted from what Allama at-Tabataba’iy, the author of Tafsir al-Mizan, had written to a young man like you:
“First, in the morning, when you wake up, determine not to do anything that does not please Allah! Think well before deciding to do anything whether or not it benefits you in this life and afterlife! If it pleases Allah, do it; otherwise, leave it, regardless of whether or not you like it.
Second, do so until you go to bed at night, and then think of all you have done in the day, one by one. Thank Allah for your good deeds and pray to Him to forgive your bad deeds!
Third, continue doing this for several days. You may feel tired at the beginning, but then, it will gradually become easier for you and you will enjoy it morally and spiritually. Of course, the body follows the soul in comfort.
Fourth, before sleeping, perform wudu’ and recite the following suras: al-Hadeed (57), al-Hashr (59), as-Saff (61), al-Jum’ah (62) and al-Taghabun (64). If you cannot, you should recite al-Hashr only. With this action, you shall find that the pleasure of lawful things is sweeter than the pleasure of unlawful things. Then, you will laugh at those who pant after unlawful pleasures, and feel sorry for them and the mirage they walk in towards Hell.”
In the following tradition, Imam Ali (a.s.) mentions the qualities of the faithful and pious people, who follow sound reason and walk in the right path. Imam Ali (a.s.) says,
‘A faithful one is truthful in the worldly life, with an insightful heart. He keeps to the (moral) limits. He is a vessel of knowledge, with perfect thinking. He is generous, good-hearted, patient, and openhanded. He spends liberally. He is charitable, honey-tongued, and smiling. He ponders much, sleeps little, and laughs little. He is with good manners, free from greediness, and away from fancy. He is ascetic in this life. He looks forward to the afterlife. He likes guests. He is merciful to the orphans. He is kind to the young. He has regard for the old. He helps the needy, visits the sick, and escorts the dead. He respects the holiness of the Qur'an, prays to the Lord, cries for sins, enjoins right, forbids wrong, eats little, drinks little, moves with politeness, speaks with advice, and preaches kindly. He does not fear any except Allah and expects no one save Him. He is busy in thanking and praising Allah. He is neither negligent nor is he proud. He is not proud of the properties of the worldly life. He is busy thinking of his own defects away from the defects of others. Prayer is the delight of his eyes. Fasting is his job and occupation. Truthfulness is his habit. Gratefulness is his ship. Reason is his captain. Piety is his food. The worldly life is his prison. Patience is his home. The night and day are his capital. Paradise is his abode. The Qur'an is his speech. Muhammad is his intercessor and Allah the Almighty is his entertainer.47’
Question: I am a young man. I want to get married, but I fear that I may fall into the same predicament my brother fell in. In the beginning, his wife had good morals, but later on, her morals became bad. Many problems occurred between them until they became a bad example in the family. I do not know how to convince myself and pass over my difficult psychological state to get married and live happily!
The answer: Dear brother, with the scenes you have seen, your worry is very natural. However, you should be certain that problems are not always repeated because each person has his own independent personality if he has a will. Your will is stronger in the stage of youth, and you can take lessons from your brother’s experience. Instead of being desperate about this experiment, you can read about the successful experiments of millions of people who have gotten married and lived happily. In order to attain this happiness, you should read books about the happy marital life to learn the qualities of a good wife who can help you lead a happy life. Do not place in your mind an imaginary picture of an infallible girl who has no defect, because first, you yourself are not so, and second, there is no such a girl in this world at all. Yes, such a girl is in Paradise and her name is “Houri”.
When you determine to get married inshallah, please make note of the following points:
1. Man acquires most of his habits from the environment he lives in. Therefore, we have to excuse others as we would like others to excuse us.
2. Some disagreements that result from the differences in knowledge, beauty, health, and lineage do not harm marital happiness. This is like the differences between day and night or between the four seasons for example. One complements the other so that life continues with ultimate wisdom. Spouses, who want their life to continue happily, have to think in this way about their differences that are beyond their wills.
3. As for acquired habits that harm the marital relation, spouses have to try their best to get rid of them and to not be indifferent towards them.
Question: I have a friend who is good in all aspects. He is kind and our relationship is very good, but he has a bad quality that makes me turn away from him while I do not want that. I cannot speak out frankly to him about this bad deed which he often commits. I am confused as to how to tell him about it. This bad quality is called by the Holy Qur'an as treason of the eyes.
Yes! My friend knows well that looking at foreign women (not mahram) is unlawful, and when it is repeated, it changes into an arrow in his eye, heart, and soul. However, he looks at women stealthily and from the corners of his eyes. He casts his eyes and then looks again. What is bitterer than that is that when he visits me (at home) or when I go out with him to visit our friends (in their houses), he does not cast his eyes down towards the ground in the manner of faithful people, but he raises his head and looks here and there without caring that maybe the door of a room is open or that it might have mistakenly been opened by a child, and then his eyes come across women and honors. How often this thing has happened! He looked (at women), lowered his head and then he looked again (from under his eyes). He did not refrain from doing this!
I do not want to cut my relationship with him, and at the same time, I do not wish to continue my friendship with him much longer while he does this thing repeatedly. If I can learn the solution due to religion and reason, the problem will end. Would you please guide me to the most effective way to reform him?
The answer: If you can end your embarrassment by reminding him of the values and morals of the believers and the pious, you should do so without hesitation, otherwise you have to write your thoughts in a letter with a disguised handwriting. Then, you should send the letter by post without any sign indicating it is from you so that Allah may make this way the solution that pleases you and saves him from his plight.
Man, sometimes, becomes accustomed to a bad quality, and then it becomes difficult to remove it from him in a short period of time. Therefore, you should try to advise him, in the same way, after some time if you find that he has not changed.
Write to him, in your letters, about the values he believes in and warn him of the evil end of continuing this bad quality. Mention to him the torment of the treason of the eyes on the Day of Resurrection. Speak, in your letters, to his conscience and tell him that his personality will become degraded before his friends if he continues this bad behavior.
This is what you should tell him in your unsigned letters, but what I want to say to him and to those like him in the following lines is:
Dear brother, what would your situation be if one of your friends looked at your wife, daughter, or sister, etc?
What would your situation be if someone said to you angrily and violently before others: do you not feel shame to look at my wife?!
What would your situation be if your close friends turned away from you and you were exposed before all?
Imagine that your bad quality was in others besides you! Would you not become angry with them and try to advise them? And if they did not refrain, would you not cut your relation with them? But before all that, remember this saying of one of the poets:
“Do not forbid (others) from a behavior while you practice it,
It is a great shame if you do it.”
Imam al-Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) has said, ‘It suffices you as politeness that you do not do what you dislikes others to do.’
Here, I invite this friend to ponder on the traditions of these infallible ones who want good for him.
The Prophet (S) said, ‘(Unlawful) looking is an arrow from the Satan’s. Whoever avoids it for fear of Allah, Allah gives him faith, the sweetness of which he can feel in his heart.48’
He also said, ‘Whoever fills his eyes with unlawfulness, Allah will fill them with nails of fire on the Day of Resurrection.’
Amīr ul-Mu’minīn (Imam Ali) (a.s.) said, ‘Beware of treason, because it is the worst of disobedience. A traitor will be tortured in Fire for his treason.49’
He also said, ‘He, who sets his eyes free, tires out his mind. He, whose looks follow one after another, his sighs continue.50’
Question: We have heard before that boys molested girls in the streets and via the telephone, but nowadays we see the opposite.
My only son, whom I wish to study at the university and graduate with a high degree, is chased by the ringer of the telephone, which rings five, six, or seven times every day even at the times of rest, though the caller (girl) neither speaks nor does she refrain even after all my abuses. I asked my son if he had a relation with some girl and he denied it. I am sure he was truthful. We agreed that he would pick up the telephone and attract her so that we might know who she was. The telephone rang and my son lifted the telephone. I came near him to hear. She said softly, ‘I have admired you and my life is like hell without you. I only want your love. Do you appreciate love?’
My son, whose face reddened and whose voice hesitated, said to her, ‘Alright! But, how can I see you? What is your name and address?’
When she felt assured, she introduced herself. She was the daughter of our neighbor, with whom we had no relation at all. I am astonished at fathers and mothers that they do not watch their children. Where have shyness and abstinence gone? Where are religion and protectiveness? Is this the value of a Muslim girl? Please, tell me, is there no conscience bearing purity and dignity?
The answer: In this question, there is a complete answer for him who has a heart or lends his ear with full intelligence.
Yes! The problem set forth in this painful question reveals the educational looseness and religious weakness. The crisis is knocking at the doors, if it has not already entered some houses!
I know many who suffer from these bad things that have come to us via foreign movies. Bitterer than this are some Arabic movies that have played a great corruptive role since the fifties. The satellite TV stations in our countries are still showing these movies whereas their actors are being burnt in the fire of Hell.
Alas! A Muslim country, Muslim artists, and great monies from the treasury of the Muslims are spent in disobeying Allah and taking Islam away from the life of the Muslims for generations after generations!
The curse of Allah be on the first one who has established the basis of injustice, corruption, and deviation among the Muslims and on the last one of his followers!
Those fathers who are careless as to the honor of their daughters are often victims of those misleading films and media. Then, what do you expect their daughters to be?
As for the cure of this problem, I think it lies in talking with the family of the girl to marry her early, because when a ripe apple is not picked, it will decay and fall to the ground, and then it is trodden on or is eaten by animals. So is a (lover) girl. She should be married; otherwise, she will be like the fallen apple.
This is not understood by most parents in this bad age. The reason is that they have driven religion away from their lives.
Dear sister, as for your son, you have to speak to him frankly. If he can continue his studies without thinking of the other sex, this is better for him, but if he suffers from the pressure of incitements, he would be better off getting married to devote himself to his study; otherwise, he will neither succeed in his study nor will he be in a good psychological and physical health.
Yes! It is somehow difficult to compromise between study and the requirements of marriage, but this will be easy with a strong will, a will of the men who defeat difficulties and conduct their marriages contentedly with simple procedures and avoid high and expensive costs.
Let the reasonable one put the advantages of this kind of marriage in a scale, and the disadvantages of the pressing lust in another scale, and then follow what his reason and religion guide him to.
Question: I am a young woman from a religious family and all my interests are religious, thanks be to Allah! I have a friend in school who often sits with me, but she is not religious. All the time, she is interested in news of singers, athletes, issues of teenagers, molestations, and exchanging letters with young men, though she is still too young. She is sixteen years old. Would you please warn the youth, fathers, and mothers with the necessary Islamic advices? Many thanks for your interest in guiding us to what will make us happy in this life and the afterlife.
The answer: Thank you very much O daughter of faith and abstinence! Your feelings to save your friend and your care for your religion show your true upbringing. I hope that you continue on this path until you arrive at the eternal bliss.
The problem you have mentioned is a fact from the bitter reality that fathers and mothers try to ignore, thinking that they can cover the behaviors of those teenage girls. I think that indifference towards such girls encourages them to continue in corruption and covering up this concern is stupidity because such girls are exposed before others and scandal moves from mouth to mouth.
Let me say frankly that the problem firstly belongs to fathers and mothers, for they, in bringing up their children away from religion and love, have thrown the children into the way of corruption, and then when the tragedy takes place, they hurry to look for solutions but they will not find any even if they shed tears of sorrow and regret.
If only those fathers and mothers, who have turned their backs on religion and slept on the pillow of irresponsibility and have failed to satisfy their children with love and sympathy, would read the sayings of even Western scholars.
Dr. Raymond Page says, ‘The first picture a child draws in his mind about Allah comes out of his relation with his parents. Also, the first concept that comes to his mind about obedience, forgiveness, and straightforwardness is connected strongly with the behavior of his family…parents may not have a suitable opportunity to educate their child and develop his thinking, so they have to introduce Allah to their children in the best way with strong determination, will, and watchfulness. In this concern, they can depend on two good sources: religion and nature.51’
Dear daughter, as for your situation towards your deviant friend:
First, deal with her as if she is sick, and she really is sick but she does not know. A sick one needs care, and you, with your faith, morals, and patience, can offer her religious advice and talk to her with the language of nature and conscience. You should tell her that the purpose of her existence is to arrive at the pleasures of Paradise. Islam does not prohibit the pleasures of this life provided that they are obtained lawfully.
Second, if she can get married, you can arrange the procedures of this by consulting with other religious women who understand such matters.
Third, when advising and warning her, depend on the frightening aspects of Islamic teachings – I mean what concerns death: the pressing of grave, its loneliness, and darkness for those who disobey Allah. It is mentioned in traditions that “he, who fears Fire, avoids unlawful things”. Tell her that Allah the Almighty will stand man in the difficulties and horrors of the Day of Resurrection to punish him for all his doings. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, (Surely, the hearing, the sight, and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that)52.
There are many stories that affect one’s conscience that you can use to guide her to the right path and surely you will be rewarded by Allah.
Stories of accidents in our present time show that most of those who die are unsuspecting youths. Death is a sudden visitor and defeating comer. Isn’t it?
Finally, if she does not listen to you and you find that she may influence you or do wrong to your good reputation, you have to cut your relation with her bravely and without any kind of courtesy for “a strong believer is better than a weak believer,” as the Prophet (S) has said.
Question: I am a twenty year-old girl. I live on my nerves to a degree that I have no confidence in my abilities to lead a happy life. Our house is like a wrestling ring full of crying and shouting amongst my sisters and brothers. We do not agree with each other on most things. We stand against each other in every situation and always frown at each other. None of us respects the other. All of us know that this is bad morale, but we do not know how and why we have been so! What is the way to change our state? Please, do you have a solution to our complicated problem?
The answer: Disagreement between people is somewhat natural because each of them thinks independently and consciously. However, if this independence does not submit to moral teachings, it gets to what you now see in your house, which is similar to a jungle or a zoo. It is too natural that this state makes you live on your nerves and causes failure to all, you being one of them.
The reason often is because of:
1. The lack of a religious atmosphere in the house, such as recitation of the Qur'an, supplications, religious meetings, and reading Islamic and historical books
2. Carelessness of parents to plant love and spirit of cooperation in their children
3. The feeling of children that there is no justice or fairness in dealing with them (by parents)
4. Excessive interference in their affairs which makes them accustomed to laziness and dependence, whereas children should be taught to be self-confident to solve their problems and to achieve their needs
5. Wishing and looking forward to what is not possible except by hard toils
6. Narrowness of the house and the lack of requirements that are common between the members of the family
The way to deliverance is in the following steps:
1. A strained person should relax.
2. He should be away from the place of disagreement or quarrel when it is beginning.
3. He should associate with good neighbors, make friends with good persons, and visit them from time to time.
4. He should go for lawful amusement and spend some time in watching beautiful scenes of nature.
5. He should mention Allah, recite the Qur'an and supplications, and read good books.
6. He should read some comic books when feeling tired or exhausted, because how often it is that a quarrel melts away because of a joke or a laugh.
Here, I mention a situation that once happened in front of me in the home of one of my relatives. We were in the sitting room and the remote control of the TV was in my hand. Whenever a sound of singing or music appeared, I changed the channel or I muted the sound. At that time, one of the boys asked me about the view of Islam about music and I replied to him that it was unlawful. He argued with me and I explained to him the many harms of listening to music. He argued with me again. His father became angry at him. Then, before his father could increase his insults towards him, I directed the remote control towards the father’s mouth as a way of turning the sound down! I made him laugh and then they all laughed with him. It was a moment of delight and joy instead of being a moment of quarrel and disagreement. After that, I explained in greater detail about music and its harms.
Question: Would you please tell me how to save myself from worry, distraction, absent-mindedness, and forgetfulness? I will be grateful to you.
The answer: Here are twenty points; if you follow them, I myself will be grateful to you:
1. Wake up early enough to give yourself sufficient time to go about your appointments or tasks without hurrying!
2. Have a good breakfast and do not eat in a rush!
3. Do not put off the work of today until tomorrow, for every day has its work!
4. Make friends with those who do not live in psychological troubles!
5. Assign a time everyday to, while in solitude, ponder over moral matters and worships and think deeply about the answer to these questions: Where have I come from? What am I now? Where shall I go after death?
6. Everyday, practice some physical exercises even if it is for just half an hour!
7. Thank Allah for the blessings you have and do not exaggerate your problems!
8. Write down what you want to do everyday!
9. Before talking, think deeply about the consequences of your talks!
10. Give your body some relaxation and rest and practice swimming!
11. Breathe as deeply as possible!
12. Do not worry about what you cannot get!
13. Live your life truly and think of your state and your surroundings!
14. Laugh little, and when you cry, cry much! Let your laughter and cries be for the delight of your heart and the comfort of your nerves.
15. Do not eat more than your needs!
16. Do not promise anyone that which you cannot fulfill, and when you make promises, say “Inshallah”!
17. Do not feel shy to say: “I am sorry, I cannot…I do not know” when you really cannot or do not know!
18. Be a good listener most of the time, and when you talk, talk as little as necessary to convey the concept you want to declare! Try to make your speech eloquent and nice!
19. Read and look for political, scientific, and cultural news as much as you possibly can!
20. Think of Paradise and its pleasures and bliss and imagine that you will stay in it forever, but always remember that you pay its price (in cash) at the present!
Question: My father is always angry with us at home, but he is very good with others elsewhere. How do you explain this duality?
The answer: This feature stems from his dissatisfaction with himself and his marital life. This means that he had hoped for something in his life but he was disappointed, whether with himself or with his family. This matter causes a great pressure on his heart, mentality, and nerves. Whenever he remembers his ambition, his nerves become tense and he becomes upset, and because he is so, he becomes angry at anything even if it is trivial. Therefore, he pours his anger on the ones closest to him because he knows that they will not leave him, whereas others would turn away from him if he were angry with them. He pours his anger on those in the house lest he lose his friends outside the house.
Man, in his nature, likes good morals; therefore, by his good manners with others, he tries to cover his failure, which continues to sting him. Anyway, whatever the reason is, I recommend you to be patient with him, bear his behavior, and treat him with respect because he is psychologically sick and a sick one needs a lot of care. If it is possible, you should try to help him in achieving his ambition, if it is lawful, and then he will become calm and you will all be at ease.
Question: For quite some time, my mother has become a sharp criticizer. She cannot bear to see a bit of wrong in anyone. In this state, she has become a point of tittle-tattle and the source of family disagreements. My friends do not visit me because of her. We do not dare to speak up frankly against her, especially since she became angry with my sister who tried to do that once. We do not know how to deal with her. She is correct in her criticism of others, but we do not want to become involved in troubles because most people nowadays do not accept criticism, much less that of my mother’s which is without courtesy and is sharp and stinging. We hope to benefit from your opinion in this concern.
The answer: Old people often suffer from weak nerves; therefore, they cannot bear things that annoy them. If they are religious, sins and disobediences make them angry; if they are not, things that are contrary to their thinking and desires make them angry; if they are sick, loud sounds and noises make them angry…and so on.
As for your mother, one of these reasons leads her to such criticism that causes troubles. As a cure, I suggest:
1. You have to keep her away from what may excite her nerves, and thus, nothing that leads her to criticism will take place before her.
2. You can tell the persons that meet her often to not do anything that will excite her criticism and nerves.
3. You have to excuse her and think of her as if she were psychologically sick and realize that she needs your care, tolerance, and patience.
4. Let most of her food be that which is cold in its nature, such as yogurt, fruits, vegetables, and the like.
5. You have to look for some person who will have influence over her through friendship and wisdom, for however much a man is fanatic, he may change and become more moderate due to a friendship.
6. You have to take her to meetings where preaching takes place. You can agree with the preacher to talk about what may reform her thinking. The preacher may discuss three main points:
First, making mistakes is natural in man’s life. Man is neither an angel nor a beast; he is some of this and some of that. The Prophets, who were sent to reform people, were ordered to be kind to them.
Incidentally, it is mentioned that one day the screens were removed from the sight of one of the Prophets for sometime. Whenever he saw unlawful acts inside people’s homes, he damned them and prayed to Allah to afflict them with torment. Allah revealed to him, ‘I am more aware of them than you are and I am worthier of damning and torturing them than you are, but My mercy has preceded my wrath. I have sent you to them in order to invite them to My mercy and not to invoke My wrath against them’.
Talking about the Divine Mercy may cure cases of extremism and censure in people like your mother, as talking about the Divine Torment may cure cases of excess in committing sins.
Second, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong should be in a kind and acceptable way; otherwise it itself becomes wrong.
A good preacher is he who explains to people like your mother that criticism must be offered in a frame of courtesy, smile, wisdom and attractiveness; otherwise its purpose is not realized, and then the problem becomes complicated and this is a mistake worse than the first mistake.
Third, the conducts of the Prophet (S) and the infallible Imams (a.s.) in dealing with wrongdoers should be mentioned to her. Allah has said, (Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and reason with them in the best manner)53.
Regarding these points, I want to say that advising, enjoining the right, and forbidding the wrong are required because they are religious obligations, moral necessities, social needs, and civil behaviors. However, wisdom, good manners, and the skill of argumentation are required in this concern. He, who does not possess these three means, would be better off in keeping silent because he may complicate the situation and spoil the purpose of criticism. Islam does not want an archer without a bow or a scholar without knowledge.
Question: As you know, melancholy is the disease of this age. Psychological clinics are full of sick persons whom melancholy has thrown out of the circle of life.
I have a melancholy, introvert father. He is forty years old but he seems to be seventy years old. This matter has troubled our family life. I am fifteen years old but I do not know the reasons that have made my father so. Does Islam have solutions that can be depended on to save such sick people? Would you please answer in details, because there are many people like me who wait for this answer?
The answer: Islam has solutions for everything. It has declared the cure of melancholy and its like and emphasized, before that, on prevention. Here, I summarize The answer’s in five points:
First, the traditions of the Prophet (S) and the infallible Imams (a.s.) have referred to “melancholy” as “grief” and “distress”. They have warned the Muslims of it by saying, ‘He, whose grief increases, his body becomes sick’, ‘Grief is half of senility’, and ‘Grief is the disease of mentality’.
Boredom, distemper, lack of appetite for food, physical and psychological weaknesses, insomnia, instability, absentmindedness, pessimism, fatigue, feeling of guilt, inactivity, not feeling joy in the beautiful scenes of nature or other material pleasures, neglecting one’s health, and paying no attention to life, which are qualities found in melancholy people, have been mentioned in the traditions with certain expressions.
Second, there is a close relationship between melancholy and the culture of the individual and that of the society. Some religious and social cultures lead to melancholy through their tragic literary works, sad music, and crying as it is widespread in the Eastern countries. As for the Western societies, the culture of disengagement from family connections leads one towards melancholy when he finds himself alone with no one to participate with him in his joys and sorrows. Therefore, we find that suicide rates are on an increase in the Western countries, which do not care for family connections, while in Japan, where family relations and connections are strong, the ratio of suicide is very low, whereas religious and rural societies are the least afflicted with melancholy and acts of suicide.
As for religious societies, it is so because religion prohibits suicide and considers it as a crime of murder, whose recompense is being in Hell forever. Moreover, religion satisfies man’s sentiments and his spiritual needs, which give him a power to adapt himself to changes and stimulates in him positive motives that resist melancholy.
Third, the reasons for melancholy must be understood. These reasons are not the same for all people. Each one is different from the other. For example, the reason for melancholy of someone may be the lack of love and sympathy and for another may be the accumulation of psychological pains, remorse after committing a sin, disappointment, the death of a lover, emigration and being away from one’s family and relatives, a great financial loss, or poverty and neediness.
Fourth, what is the successful cure for this disease?
Modern psychological clinics have depended, in curing this disease, on the tranquilizing tablets of Valium or other gladdening drugs, while some other clinics prefer electrical shocks. All these cures are rejected by the Islamic clinic, which depends on prevention initially and then on cure54.
For curing this disease, Islam prescribes the following:
1. Take a bath with cool water, and especially pour it over the head; Imam Ali (a.s.) says, ‘Whoever has grief that he is unable to identify, let him wash his head.55’
2. Wash the clothes and remove bad smells, which means cleanliness in general; Imam Ali (a.s.) says, ‘Washing one’s clothes takes away grief and sorrow.56’
3. Mention Allah a lot, especially by saying “there is no power save in Allah”; the Prophet (S) says, ‘saying “there is no power save in Allah” has a cure for ninety-nine illnesses, the least of which is grief.57’ Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, ‘If grief increases, you should mention “there is no power save in Allah.58”’
4. Eat grapes, as mentioned in the traditions of the Prophet (S) and the infallible imams (a.s.)59.
Fifth, protection is the most important way to prevent melancholy and introversion. Islam has established constructive teachings to prevent any negative state that may destroy man’s comfort and happiness. Islam first establishes belief inside man and then strengthens that faith inside him to reach a degree where he becomes certain of the wisdom of Allah and becomes satisfied with the fate Allah has determined.
The Prophet (S) says, ‘Allah, with His wisdom and favor, has made comfort and joy in certainty and satisfaction, and made grief and sorrow in suspicion and dissatisfaction.60’
A real believer sees the causes of melancholy trivial especially when he recites this Qur’anic verse, (it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it)61.
A real believer does not envy others because he knows that “envy eats faith as fire eats firewood”. Imam Ali (a.s.) says, ‘I have not seen an unjust one who is more similar to the wronged than one who envies: continuous panting, upset heart, and endless sorrow.62’ A real believer dose not look for the material pleasures of this life because he has read the Islamic concept about this worldly life as “it deceives, destroys, and passes away.63’
A real believer has to submit to the saying of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.), ‘Loving the worldly life causes grief and sorrow, and abstaining from it causes comfort of the heart and the body.64’
A real believer does not pant after the lust that is in the back of his mind and refrains from pondering over it because he has read the warning of the Prophet (S), ‘A lust of a moment may bring a long sorrow’65.
Hence, a real believer protects himself lest he fall into melancholy. This is the vigilance of faith that leads to protection and safety from melancholy and its like.
Dear brother, you have to read this answer to your father and tell him:
1. Believe in Allah and work with the hope of arriving at the bliss of Paradise because this makes man patient with the difficulties of life!
2. Be active and do not be lazy!
3. Not committing a mistake is not a reason for great pride; rather, great pride lies in getting out of the mistake.
4. Dear father, stand on your feet to light your way and the way of others because an inverted candle does not light!
5. Have you pondered on flowers and smelt their fragrances? If there are no flowers in life, the scenes of beauty will be incomplete!
6. Happiness is a gift from Allah. Why do you not raise your hands towards the Heaven to receive this gift?
Finally, tell him frankly that worry, upset, fear and melancholy take him away from Allah; therefore, he has to do remembrance of Allah and be close to Him to be free from all those psychological diseases! Tell him: Come on! Forget the past and change your state and our state for the best by the assistance of Allah!
Question: Weakness of faith and beliefs has become widespread in our age. Our aged fathers and mothers say that faith in the past was stronger. Do you think it is possible to spread faith nowadays alongside this great corruption and means of deviation which have entered everywhere, even inside our homes via the TV, video, and internet?
The answer: When one knows that believing in Allah brings tranquility and ease to the heart, which in return cause success and happiness, one’s life becomes pleasant and happy.
When one sincerely and definitely believes that Allah protects and assists him, and when he knows that belief in Allah invites him to mention Allah and that the words of remembrance bring tranquility to his heart, which is the basis of every success, then he knows the worth of religion and keeps away from corruption. He will ask himself: if living under the shadow of faith makes me, my family, and my society happy and makes love and cooperation spread amongst us, then why should I choose to live under the opposite shadow?
Yes! Being religious in the irreligious atmosphere that is widespread is difficult. A religious person faces contempt and insults and suffers much in resisting them and continuing on the straight path. He feels pain and sorrow for the deviants and scorners. However, he becomes more resistant whenever he wins a fight, and this is what delights him and encourages him to continue on the straight path, especially when he remembers the blessings, pleasures, and rewards he will have in Paradise.
When one plants a seed into soil, it does not grow and bear fruits except after much care. Such is said about the sperm. When a father puts his sperm into the womb of the mother, a healthy child is not produced except after attending to all conditions.
A seed needs care and patience, and a sperm also requires care and patience. Does not a believer also need patience so that his faith will bear fruits? However, his faith bears fruits every day in this life in one way or another.
I say the same thing concerning your child. His heart will not open for faith except after efforts, patience, and care.
Parents are responsible for planting faith in their children’s hearts through making friends with them, showing them love and kindness, kissing them, embracing them, playing with them, listening to their speech, and explaining to them what is right and what is wrong. Parents will harvest what they sow in their children. If there is any mistake, parents should blame no one but themselves.
If these facts and their advantages are known, obstacles in the way of true faith can be removed by man himself. Then, he will dislike anything that takes him away from these facts and their advantages. A real believer does not let the television, video, or internet – if they are means of corruption and vices that may weaken his faith and lead him to the path of wretchedness and grief – destroy his future or his children’s future.
Is it acceptable for a reasonable person to leave his children, who he loves more than himself, in the middle of diseases that will afflict their souls and bodies and lead them to the fire of Hell?
Hence, parents have to plant religion in their children from their early years in a wise and successful way lest they deviate later on.
The pure nature in children remains pure if parents undertake their responsibility from the first day. Nature was and is still the object, on which prophets, reformers, and all good people depend in their tasks of reform. Without the divine nature in man, no one can take people from the darkness of deviation into the light of faith. It is a great mistake to be desperate of guiding people. If the prophets and the saints were desperate, faith would never move to people after them. Whatever corruption prevails, it disappears because it is the falsehood that vanishes when the truth comes. Let us bear the mission of the truth and trust in the assistance of Allah. It is the test by which the faithful are tried.
The injustice and corruption we see in our time are not exclusive to our age only. The ancient ages had worse than this as we read in the Qur'an and the books of history, but Allah always supports His faithful people. In fact, our age is better than most of the past ages in many ways such as the spread of faith and faithful people all over the world, the establishment of mosques, Islamic centers, libraries, and presses, and also the increase of religious people and clergymen. Hence, despair has no place inside the souls of faithful people who carry out their legal duties and who whenever they rely on Allah, Allah supplies them with courage and power with which they defeat the means of corruption and deviation and use this power and courage in guiding people and reforming defects.
Although we acknowledge the corruption that has appeared in the land and sea because of corruptive means, which are the modern hands of corrupt people and enemies of religion, we do not acknowledge the impossibility of reform and education, and we do not give in. Man has to act sincerely and then Allah will support him to achieve success. If we are sincere to Allah, we plant guidance firmly in our children’s hearts, and then we carry out our legal duty for which Allah rewards us. Allah says, (And nothing devolves on us but a clear deliverance (of the message))66.
Question: My mother always acts opposite to my father’s wishes. She always likes to change the decoration of the house, the furniture, and the like. In fact, she likes to change the house itself, the car, and so on. This matter has become a cause of daily quarrels between my father and mother. We have been victims of these clamors. We are tired of this state. Would you please show us a solution to this problem? We will be grateful!
The answer: It is necessary, before showing our practical suggestions, to emphasize that solving some problems is done by adapting oneself to them until time puts ends to them. It is important for a person to protect himself from being affected by the harms of a problem until it disappears. This is the patience that Islam has recommended and for which Allah has promised a reward.
As for the solutions to such a problem, they are of two kinds: the first kind is directed to the cause of the problem (that is your father and mother here) and the other is directed to those affected by the problem in the house (that is you and those with you).
As for the first kind, we would like to say to parents that a joint life requires carrying out the desires of the partner, if it has no harm. And even if it is a harmful desire, it should be compared with the harms of selfishness and insistence of one’s opinion, and then the less harmful of the two is preferred. On the other hand, the one who wants to change, or not to change, the decoration has to show his/her motives and convince the other partner as long as the matter concerns him/her too. This one has to declare the advantages of his/her idea and the disadvantages if it is not carried out, while keeping in mind that these advantages or disadvantages concern all of the members of the family.
This method of concern for the beliefs of others produces mutual respect between them, strengthens family relations, and increases their closeness and love to each other. This leads to an increase in the level of success in study and work, and consequently it brings happiness.
As for the second kind, I recommend you to discuss the matter with your mother instead of resisting her or ignoring her desires. Try to discuss with her the disadvantages of continuous changes (of decorations and furniture), which can cause fatigue and illness.
Moreover, you have to keep her interested in some thing else in order to not do what will disturb the members of the family. Also you have to convince your father to permit some required changes from time to time, as long as they are without excess or waste.
Question: We are seven brothers and sisters. Our father and mother are religious and we are like them. Praise be to Allah! A few days ago, I was listening to a lecture by one of the Ulama’, in which he divided people into four classifications: Some are religious in their youth and they continue so until the end of their lives. These are the happiest of people. Some are dissolute in their youth and then they are guided until the end of their lives. These people are happy, but less than the first ones. Some are religious in their youth but then they become dissolute and spend their lives in debauchery and deviations. These are the losers. Some are dissolute from the beginning until the end of their lives. These are wretched and the worst of losers. It is a nice speech, but how can I preserve my and my brothers’ and sisters’ religiousness so we can be from the first kind and not let the Satan deprive us of our religion?
The answer: Blessed be you and blessed be your parents who have fed you with faith and guidance!
Know that you are among those on whom Allah prides Himself before the angels and says to them, ‘Look at my slave! He has abstained from his lust for the sake of Me.67’
It is sufficient for you that Allah is proud of you. Continue on your way to get the eternal bliss of Paradise!
I remember a family I was acquainted with in Denmark in 1991 AD. They had emigrated from Iran fifty years ago, and they still continued their religiousness there. The father told me that he, his wives, and children continually offered the Night Prayer. This conduct, in the midst of corruption in Denmark, is quite difficult to attain. Blessed be they and their likes everywhere!
The practical way of continuing in righteousness, about which you asked, is being continuously supplied with intellectual and spiritual energy besides being careful not to let the self slip here or there, through the following lights:
The first light is that you have to remember, always, these traditions with the questions that follow them:
1. The Prophet (S) said, ‘Any young man who abstains from this life and its pleasures for the sake of Allah, and spends his youth in obeying (worshipping) Allah, Allah will give him a reward of seventy-two veracious persons’68.
Do you want to prevent yourself from this great reward?
2. The Prophet (S) said, ‘The most beloved one to Allah the Almighty is a handsome young man who devotes his youth and beauty to the obedience of Allah. Of such a young man the Beneficent is proud before His angels and says: this is My real slave.’
Do you want to prevent yourself from this pride of the Beneficent?
3. The Prophet (S) says, ‘Allah loves the young man who spends his youth in obeying Him.’
Do you want to prevent yourself from this love?
4. The Prophet (S) says, ‘The preference of a young man who worships Allah in his youth to an old man who worships after he becomes old is like the preference of the prophets to the rest of people.’
Do you want to prevent yourself from this preference? Certainly not!
With these motives, you can continue in your religiousness. Do not follow the steps of the Satan, do not approach them, and do not think of them even out of curiosity because this may incite you to a dangerous slip. In the first instance, the Satan invites to unlawful things by means of curiosity, and then after sometime, he invites you and says: ‘all right, pray to Allah to forgive you after your sin! Does Allah not forgive all sins?’ In these deceitful ways, the Satan induces man and then laughs at him.
The second light is that you have to read about the qualities of the pious. Imam Ali (S) has mentioned these qualities to his Companion Humam in one of his speeches. It is one of the most wonderful educational speeches, which is full of spirituality, encouragement, and energy towards righteousness69.
The third light is, besides regular worships, to hasten to do good deeds! Carrying out the needs of people and helping the poor and needy keep one firm in faith and certainty and this is the best thing Allah wants from His good people. Contrary to what some people believe, that religiousness and worshipping are realized in complete isolation, Islam believes “the best people are those who are the best to people and sincerest to all Muslims.70”
The fourth light is to know righteousness has a special spirit that survives with the following items: “Knowing Allah and being humble before him, continuous pondering over the greatness of Allah, asking Allah for forgiveness, sincerity, abstinence, giving up bad habits, asceticism, jurisprudence, reason, prudence, giving the rights of people back to them, keeping silent, supplication, and abstaining from the unlawful looking71”.
You have to establish these qualities inside your soul to continue in the straight path.
The fifth light is, if you commit a sin, you have to immediately repent and pray to Allah to forgive you. You should well know that Allah loves young men who repent. In fact, there is nothing more beloved to Allah than a young man who repents, and nothing is more odious to Him than a man who becomes old while he still commits sins indifferently.
Finally, I pray to Allah to make you continue in your faith and not to let the blame of others weaken your determination. It is mentioned in the traditions that one day Prophet Abraham (a.s.) saw a white hair in his beard and said, ‘Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, Who has made me live till now while I have not disobeyed Him a bit.72’
Question: The death of my lover, who has left this world after a severe and painful struggle with cancer, has hurt me too much. I have been melancholy and desperate of life after the death of one of my friends. In your opinion, what are the reasons for this horrible disease?
The answer: It is said that the Greek doctor (Galen) two thousand years ago was the first one who tried to ascertain the relation between cancer and the qualities that cause man to become afflicted with this malignant disease.
In a research by some British doctors in 1802 A.D., this question was posed, ‘Is there a relationship between man’s morals and natures and this malignant disease?’
In 1864, Doctor Walter H. Walsh wrote in his response to the previous question, ‘Sensitive persons, who suffer from spiritual pressures, prepare for themselves a ground for cancer.’
Thirteen years later, Doctor Grendon presented his theory by saying, ‘Worry and griefs have a great effect in afflicting one with cancer.’
In 1870, Doctor Sir J. Pajet wrote, ‘Despair and lack of hope help cancer to grow. There is no doubt that melancholy is the most serious cause of this disease.’
After some years, Doctor Penny Brhn performed some experiments and classified the patients of cancer into three classes:
1. Those who help others, but no one helps them or appreciates their efforts.
2. Those who find it difficult to reject needy people, and thus they become sad for not being able to satisfy the needs of people who ask them for help.
3. Those who feel meanness and do not have self-confidence.
Scientific centers conclude that failure in marital life, losing one’s job, insolvency, heavy debts, and the like bring man worry and psychological upset and pave the way for cancer. However, it is not necessary that these things will definitely cause cancer, but in most cases, it is so.
Many times, one becomes afflicted with cancer because of a defect in his defensive cells from childhood, as Doctor Jung thinks. He adds that one who is psychologically suppressed in his childhood has a fertile ground for cancer.
The American doctor Lawarene Le Shan, who is a specialist in cancer, says, ‘We must know what we want in life, and then we can carry out what we want with a strong will and determination. This requires us to know how to live healthily and enjoy our bodily powers to achieve what we want in life…cancer destroys life; therefore, we must learn how to protect ourselves from it. Then, let us avoid all that paves the way for cancer.’
Consequently, what are the means of protection?
1. Let us learn self-confidence. When the body and the soul become strong with self-confidence, they give one the ability to resist diseases.
2. Let us be kind and friendly because a man’s soul is thirsty for cordiality.
3. Let us assign certain times for (lawful) amusement.
4. Let us toil for good aims and not waste our ages in trivialities.
5. Let us regard our feelings and the feelings of those around us. This is a bridge to mutual understanding.
6. Let us busy ourselves with what we like and stick to it.
7. Let us have good food, avoid too much oil, and eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.
8. Let us not ignore vitamins and minerals in our meals.
9. Let us have good morals, be merry and sportive, and submit to the Merciful Creator in all our affairs.
10. Let us hold religious meetings and participate in the meetings of others, whether meetings of joy or sorrow, because social relations take man out of fatal isolation.
Finally, O our Lord, we seek your protection from any disease…O You, Whose name is a remedy and Whose mention is a healing, send as many blessings on Muhammad and his progeny as there are diseases and remedies, recover our patients, and have mercy on our dead; You are able to do whatever You like!
Question: O sheikh, I am complaining about my life; my nerves are below zero and I am very worried about my end.
The answer: Dear brother, my reflections have taught me that the reason behind 90% of the cases of anger in people of all levels is disappointment in their ambitions and wishes. The opposite is true too. Most of the people who are interested in life are those who either have not been disappointed, have no hopes tickling their emotions, or they have believed in Allah sincerely and submitted to Him in everything, and so Allah has granted them satisfaction with everything, and this is the true submission, which is the essence of Islam. Thus, I know how faith has lofty values and how Islam has many solutions for angry faces and furious souls. So we have to hasten towards the solutions of Islam before anger burns what remains of faith in us.
As a remedy, I suggest to you four things:
1. Prostration: it is the placing of the most honorable position of the body (forehead) on the soil. Do you know why? It is because one who prostrates himself ascends to the higher positions of Heaven with his loftiest spiritual beliefs.
2. You should know that if your moral sense is suspended, your five senses would never get you to the bliss of Paradise.
3. People are free. They choose either Paradise or Hell by themselves. The decision is yours.
4. Visit the graves, ponder on their inhabitants, and remember that their ambitions have ended with their ends. Take lessons from them and return to your life to make your end good!
Question: The idle youth waste their time in sleeping too much. They sleep with no alarm clock. What is the solution for such people?
The answer: They should read the following verses of poetry and come to a decision:
The holy traditions warn of too much sleeping. The Prophet (S) said, ‘Beware of too much sleeping, because it leaves its friend poor on the Day of Resurrection.’
Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) said in a Qudsi73 tradition that Prophet Moses (a.s.) had said, ‘O my Lord, which of Your people is the most odious to You? Allah said, ‘Carrion (sleeping) in the night and idle in the day.’
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘Allah hates much sleeping and much idleness.’ He also said, ‘Much sleeping wastes religion and life.’
The youth should create jobs for themselves or spend their spare time in reading and acquiring good information and memorizing the suras of the Holy Qur'an because the Qur'an lights the heart and life. Whoever learns in his youth will make use of his knowledge when he grows up. The old learn nothing if they missed leaning in their youth.
Islam has not left the need of sleeping to man without directing it with special manners that give man a comfortable sleep and make him active in getting up. Here are some of these manners to be observed before going to bed:
1. Man should go to bed after cleansing himself from sweat and unpleasant smells.
2. He should perform wudu’.
3. He should go to the W.C. and relieve himself.
4. He should recite some Qur’anic verses and some supplications, especially the sura of Ikhlas (112) or al-Hashr (59) or at-Takathur (102) or all of them, and say what the Prophet (S) used to say, ‘O my Lord, if You take my soul in my sleep, forgive it, and if You set it free, keep it safe as You keep Your good people.’
5. He should not sleep on his face and abdomen because it is the sleep of the Satan and is harmful to the self and body. The believers sleep on their backs or right sides except if there is an excuse.
6. When lying, instead of thinking of what is of no benefit, Islam invites man to criticize himself on what he has done during his day. Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘When you go to your bed, think of what you have done in your day and remember that you will die and will be resurrected to be punished.’
7. Huthayfa narrated, ‘When the Prophet (S) went to bed, he said, ‘In Your name O Allah, I die and live’ and when he awoke, he said, ‘Praise be to Allah, Who enlivened us after he has made us die, and to Him is the resurrection.’
Dear brother, go to bed early and avoid evenings full of play and amusement, and awake early to find all good before you; good health, livelihood, activity, and vitality. The moment you awaken from your sleep, you will understand what you have read in the previous lines about the disadvantages of too much sleeping and about the manners of sleeping. If you understand this, you will awake at the required time. Recite this supplication before you sleep to awake at the time you want: “O my Lord, do not make me forget Your mention, do not make me feel safe from Your affliction, and do not make me one of the indifferent!’