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Discourse27: Warnings And Preparedness

عَنْ إِبْنِ عَبَّاسِ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللٌّهِ فِي بَعْضِ خُطَـبِهِ أَوْ مَوَاعِظِهِ: أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، لاَ يَشْغَلَنَّكُمْ دُنْـيَاكُمْ عَنْ آخِرَتِكُم، فَلاَ تُؤْثِرُوا هُوَاكُمْ عَلى طَاعَةِ رَبِّكُمْ، وَ لاَ تَجْعَلُوا إِيْمَانَكُمْ ذَرِيعَةً إِلـى مَعَاصِيكُمْ، وَ حَاسِبُوا أَنْـفُسَكُمْ قَبْلَ أَنْ تُحَاسَـبُوا، وَ مَهِّدُوا لَهَا قَبْلَ أَنْ تُعَذَّبُوا، وَ تَزَوَّدُوا لِلرَّحِيلِ قَبْلَ أَنْ تُزْعَجُوا…

It has been narrated from Ibne ‘Abbas that he said, “The Messenger of Allah (S) said the following in one of his speeches or words of admonition, 'O people! Do not let this, your transient world keep you busy from your next life; do not let your lower desires and passions take control over you over the obedience to your Lord; do not let your faith be that which leads you to committing sins; take account of yourself before your actions are taken to account (by someone else); prepare yourself before you end up punishing (yourself); prepare yourself for the journey (of the next life) before you are forced to make the journey… ”1

In this tradition, the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) has told the people to be careful that the transient world does not keep them pre-occupied and negligent of the next life. This is a warning from the greatest leader of humanity - the Prophet Muhammad b. ‘Abdullah (S) - who understood the transient world and its true nature.
It is mentioned in Suratul Hadid (57), verse 20, that:

إِعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيٌوةُ الدُّنْـيَا لَعِبٌ و لَهْوٌ وَ زِيـنَةٌ وَ تَفَاخُرٌ بَيْـنَكُمْ وَ تَكَاثُرٌ فِي الأََمْوَالِ وَ الأَوْلاَدِ…

“Know that surely the life of this world is (nothing but) a plaything and game and an ornament of beauty and a means of competition between yourselves and the (competition) in the multiplication in wealth and children…”

Around us, there are people whose intellectual level is like that of a child. They are always busy playing in the sand-box of life and have hearts which are attracted to the transient world. However, the one whose intellect is complete would never fall for the temptations and the gold and glitter of the world.

We see that young children sometimes play “house” - one child is the police officer, another child plays the head of the house while the other children play other roles. Even older people enjoy watching these children play this game, laugh at them and lovingly say to themselves, “What are these young children doing!?” 

At the same time, other people look at us and what we do and laugh at us! What do they say in regards to us: “What, do these people think they are doing?! Do they think that they are going to live in this world forever [that they are carrying on in this fashion]?”

After this warning, the Noble Prophet (S) presents five commandments, each of which he has mentioned at other occasions. In reality, each of these sayings forms an independent plan of action for our life:

1. The first part of the tradition tells us, “Do not prefer your lower desires over the obedience to your Lord.”

The vigilant and spiritually awake person is one who places the obedience of Allah (SwT) over the obedience of the passions of his soul. When such a person is at the crossroads of life, it is made clear who is the Muslim and who is not, just as it has been mentioned in verse 20 of Suratul Nisa in which we read:

وَ يَقُولُونَ نُؤْمِنُ بِبَعْضٍ وَ نَكْفُرُ بِبَعْضٍ

“And they say, we believe in a part of it, and we disbelieve in a part of it…”

In regards to these types of people, it is clear that they have not yet become Muslims - those who have truly submitted!

The true believer (Mo`min) and one who has truly submitted (Muslim) do not place their lower desires and wishes above the wishes of Allah (SwT). The true believer (Mo`min) and one who has truly submitted (Muslim) are not the sort of people who would do whatever their lower desires and wishes want them to do, throwing the rulings of Allah (SwT) under their feet and trampling upon them!

Those who follow their lower desires instead of Allah (SwT) state, “Whenever I want something and realize that it is according to what my lower self desires, however at the same time it is also exactly the same as the rulings and commandments of Allah (SwT), I say to myself, 'That which Allah (SwT) wants is contained in this ruling, and thus, I will follow it. However when it comes to the rulings of Allah (SwT) which go against my own lower desires and passions, then I state, 'This ruling of His is difficult to follow' and this action is a matter of necessity (to perform) and since it is stated that:

أَلضَّرُورَاتُ تُبِيحُ الْمَحْذُورَاتِ.

Thus, it is not a problem if I perform this act.'”

2. The second part of the tradition tells us, “Do not make your faith as the spring-board to perform sins.”

How do people use their faith to commit sins? They say things like: “If we are already corrupt and polluted with sins, then Allah (SwT) is the All-Generous (al-Karim). With faith in the generousness of Allah (SwT), we will commit sins, as He will forgive us.”

There is a sentence which is commonly heard amongst the people that, “We are all drowning in our sins, however we have Husayn.”  It is here that such people use the Wilayah of the Ahlul Bait (as) as the means through which they can sin even more! In reality, this is not faith, rather, this is a precursor to the disobedience of Allah (SwT)!

One who speaks like this is actually lying to himself as if he had complete reliance (Tawakkul) upon Allah (SwT), then he would obey Him and he would not use his supposed belief in complete reliance to commit more sins!

This discussion has also been mentioned in relation to intercession (Shafa’at) in our commentary of the Qur’an, Tafsir-e-Namuna.

A poet once uttered the following poem in “praise” of the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (as):

حاجب، اگر معامله حشر با على است   من ضامنم كه هرچه بخواهى گناه كن

“O' hajib (Gatekeeper of Paradise), if the negotiation on the plain of Resurrection (in regards to one's sins and good deeds) is done with ‘Ali; then I am guaranteed that I can do whatever I want to do, even sin!”

That night in his sleep, he saw the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (as) who said to him, “You has composed a very bad poem and must change it.” 
The man said, “What should I change it to?”  The Imam (as) replied to him: “Say the following:

حاجب، اگر معامله حشر با على است   شرم از رخ على كن و كمتر گناه كن

“O' hajib (Gatekeeper of Paradise), if the negotiation on the plain of Resurrection (in regards to one's sins and good deeds) is done with ‘Ali; then (I must) have modesty in the face of Allah, and sin less.”

The person who has firm belief in the Wilayah or guardianship of the Ahlu'l Bayt (as) knows that atleast once or twice every week, all of his actions are presented to Imam Sahibul Zaman (as).
In the 105th verse of Suratul Tawbah we read:

قُلِ اعْمَلُوا فَسَيَرَى اللٌّهُ عَمَلَكُمْ وَ رَسُولُهُ وَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

And say: Work! Allah will surely see your actions and so will His Messenger and the true believers.”

Since Allah (SwT), the Prophet (S) and the Imam (as) see our actions, we should have some humility in their presence - especially the Imam of our time (as), and not perform any sins. If the record of our actions was to be given to the Imam of our time, would he see anything other than sins in it?! Sins such as lying, false accusations, backbiting, cursing, using foul language, and many other actions…

If we are true believers, then we must not do anything that would hurt our Imam nor anything which would earn the condemnation of the Imam of our time! In addition to our own personal issues, there are also many societal issues which we are plagued with and which lead to the discomfort and torture of Imam al-Hujjah (as).

3. The third point mentioned is that we must take account of own souls before are actions are taken to account (by someone else).

How spiritually awake a person truly is who takes account of his actions before someone else does this for him!

If we truly believe in the Day of Resurrection and the accountability for all of our deeds, then why do we not sit and account for our actions?

If on the Day of Judgment, we were told to judge ourselves and were instructed, “Each one of you come forward and judge your own actions instead of having Allah (SwT) or anyone else sit in judgment over you, this is your deed of actions which lists everything which you performed in the world and now it is up to you to judge for yourselves whether you should be of the people of Paradise or of the Hell fire”, what would we say? Did we actually perform pure and sincere actions in the world? Really, what positive actions have we done that Allah (SwT) would find us worthy of Paradise?

4. The forth point mentioned in this tradition is that we must prepare ourselves for the next life before we end up punishing ourselves.

Before one prepares his own punishment (in the hell) and is plagued with having to put up with that, one must prepare the tools necessary for prosperity and happiness through obedience and worship of Allah (SwT) and by purchasing the happiness of both worlds.

5. The fifth point mentioned in this tradition is that we must prepare ourselves for the journey before we are forced to make the trip.

For this (final) trip, one must prepare the goods needed before he is forcefully taken, as the transient world is like a temporary stop upon which the traveler dismounts and gather some provisions for the long journey ahead.

At this temporary stop, if one becomes busy with playing games and all of a sudden the call is made that the next part of the journey is underway and that one must get up and continue on with the rest of the trip, however the person has not prepared anything for the rest of the journey, then it shall be his own loss! !

  • 1. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 181

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