The great religion of Islam has only come for the benefit of mankind, and one of Allah (S.w.T.)’s mercy on us is that He has opened for us a great door of opportunity of doing good deeds which remains open even after death. The key to this door is through charity and sacrifice.
During his life, a Muslim may contribute his money towards the building of a mosque or an orphanage or the printing of a useful book. After his death these deeds lighten up his grave and this indeed is a great opportunity, unique to the teachings of Islam. A man should be so crafty so as to sow his farm only to reap the harvest in the hereafter. The teachings of our Imams have emphasized a lot on this aspect.
Often Imam Ali (a.s.) used to raise his voice during the nights in the city of Kufa so as to be heard by every one:
“Prepare for a journey and do good deeds with what you have been blessed, for what lies in front is difficult road full of obstacles and frightening junctions from which there is no escape.”1
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) says that:
“Three things help a man after his death, and these are: a charity given by him, a good habit he taught to others and a good offspring he leaves behind, who prays for his forgiveness”.2
The Holy Prophet (S) says that:
“Four things continue to reward a person even after his death; a man who dies on the true path, a good advise or knowledge given by him to someone who acts on that advice, an act of charity and a good son who prays for him and asks for forgiveness on his behalf”.3
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) says that:
“Six things benefit a man after his death; a pious son who asks for forgiveness on his behalf, a copy of the Holy Qur’an he read from, a tree he planted, a glass of water he quenched others’ thirst with, a well he dug, and a good tradition or habit he left behind to those around him”4.
The following is a series of real life events of people who left behind them good deeds that filled the sky with stars illuminating the way, and their deeds remain eternal despite their death.
There lived a man in Turkey during the time of a ruler called Mustafa Kamal Ataturk who despised the teachings of Islam and prevented the Turkish people from following Islam .The women folk were not permitted to adorn themselves with a hijab and no religious organizations were permitted to function.
However during this suppression, a man rose, who was determined to challenge the authorities and made himself busy with the task of building mosques inspiring those around him. Soon the authorities came to know about this and he was sentenced to a ten years imprisonment.
However this man never gave up and while he was serving his sentence, he influenced his friends who used to come to visit him to form a committee that would supervise the activities involved in the construction of mosques. He was so sincere that he inspired his cellmates to start building mosques once they completed their term in prison. It is recorded that he was able to build tens of thousands of mosques even in this period of constraint and oppression.
What was the secret of this man? It is said that whenever a mosque’s construction would be completed, a collection box was put at the disposal of the worshippers of that mosque to start contributing towards the building of yet another mosque. Imam Ali (a.s.) says:
“a man flies with his efforts, the way a bird flies with its wings”.
Sayyid Khatib Jawad Shabber relates from Sheikh Muhammad Husayn Kaashiful Ghitaa that he saw a mosque with a strange name in Turkey. It was called ‘As If I Have Eaten And Drunk’. The Sheikh was fascinated by this strange title and wished to know the reason behind this name. So he questioned the Imam of the mosque. The Imam said that the mosque in question was in a state of ruins and needed urgent repairs. However, when he approached the wealthy merchants of the city they refused to help, giving various excuses. He thus decided to take out the expense from his personal income.
The way he did this was by economizing just the way we save up for any worldly item we dearly wish for. He loved travelling and for some time he stopped travelling and saved the money for the mosque. He even asked his children to limit their expenses and make do with the clothes they had for that year. He in other words lowered his standards of eating and clothing and budgeted his expenses. Every time he felt the urge of good food and clothes he consoled his heart that his share was waiting for him in the Hereafter. In this way he managed to repair the mosque.
To inspire others to sacrifice their luxuries even for a short time in order to do an act of charity, he named the mosque ‘As If I Had Eaten And Drunk’5.
Marhum Ayatullah al-Sheikh Jawad al-Balaghi an-Najafi is known for his publications in which he has debated with Atheists, Jews and Protestants. Despite all these talents in the field of knowledge he lived in extreme poverty. His house in Najaf showed signs of his poverty. It is indeed astonishing to know that when he wanted his educational work to be published, he found himself in no position to do so due to his abject poverty, and despite this he sold his house and got his desire. Wasn’t it possible for the Sheikh to lead a life of comfort? Of course, but he gave preference to the world Hereafter which is eternal.
Shahid Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib, may Allah’s mercy be on him, relates that a great and pious man told him the following event.
A relative of this pious man had bought a property on which he had built a house. After the death of this relative, the pious man saw him in his dream one night. The relative was blind, and when he was asked the cause of his blindness he related to the pious man the reason for his bad state.
He related that when he had bought the land, there was a well in it by means of which the villagers in the surrounding villages benefited. However the relative ordered for the well to be closed. The villagers faced the constraint of going through long distances to get their supply of water. The result of this act was blindness in the life hereafter.
The pious man asked his relative in the dream whether he could do anything for him to relieve him of this bad state. The man replied in the affirmative, and suggested that his heirs should endeavour to open that well for the villagers’ benefit. The pious man stood up to carry out this act, and after some time he dreamt that his relative had got back his sight and was thanking him for the help given to him6.
It has been related that during the Abbasid regime one of the cruel rulers used to charge high taxes to the people. The people of Balkh in Afghanistan were subjected to cruelty when they refused to pay taxes to the rulers. When the situation for the people of Balkh became intolerable they went to the wife of the representative of the ruler in Balkh who they knew to be a merciful and considerate lady.
When they asked her to intercede on their behalf, she took out an expensive and glamorous robe of hers, the value of which equalled to the amount demanded of them. The representative of the ruler in Balkh took his wife’s robe and placed it in front of the merciless ruler. The ruler demanded to know whose robe it was, and when the representative informed him of the events, the ruler was touched by the merciful act of the lady and forgave the villagers asking that the robe should be returned to its owner.
The lady on receiving the robe asked whether the ruler had glanced at her robe.
“Yes,” said her husband.
“Well, I shall not wear a dress on which a stranger’s eye has befallen, so sell this robe and build a mosque from the money you get.”
Ibn Batuta in his narrations says that this mosque still stands. The dress was sold but a mosque remains. Good acts remain. A shining reminder that what counts are deeds!
One of the followers of the great Ayatollah Murtadha Ansaari, donated some wealth to him requesting him to buy a house. Having donated this money the man went to perform the Pilgrimage. The Ayatullah deemed it more important to build a mosque with this money.
This mosque still stands and so many people have prayed in it and have gained knowledge in it. The man on his return from pilgrimage, was surprised to see that contrary to his expectations the Ayatullah had built a mosque instead of a house to reside in.
When the man questioned, the Ayatullah replied, “Which is better, a house here in this world or a residence in the Hereafter? For we shall soon leave this world and we need a house more in our permanent abode.”
The man’s trust and faith increased tenfold in the Ayatullah’s wisdom.7
One prominent scholar and authority on Islam called Sayyid Mar’ashi established a famous library in the city of Qum. He did this with his own personal effort by toiling hard for many years.
Libraries play a very important role in causing awareness to the people, giving the people a good hobby and pass time, to spread good virtues, to be a source of pleasure, for the preservation of our culture and for the continuation of our culture and knowledge. It is due to all these reasons that our scholars toiled hard to establish public and private libraries and preserved valuable and ancient manuscripts in it.
I will relate some examples which will touch our emotions and find in front of us a man of great caliber and cause us to question ourselves as to why we don’t exploit our potentials.
The doors of this library were opened since 1394 A.H. Sayyid Mar’ashi didn’t get much financial assistance in establishing this library. In many of the books in this library I have seen a caption in which the Sayyid has written that he bought the particular book in question by praying and fasting on behalf of people who had died and whose relatives paid for these acts of worship. This is called ‘Salaat of Istijara’. This prayer is incumbent on the eldest son of a dead man to pray or fast or go to pilgrimage on behalf of his dead father in case the dead man did not perform these acts. The son may pay somebody reliable to perform these acts.
How great are these scholars who used each and every opportunity to do something which would help them in the life Hereafter. Sayyid Mar’ashi bought some great and rare books by praying on behalf of the dead, and sometimes a sum total of two years prayers in conditions of hunger and extreme fatigue.8
Marhoom Sheikh Abbas Qummi Rahamullah who compiled the book of supplications called Mafateehul Jinaan was a man of great piety and sincerity. People used to throng the mosque, when they knew that he was going to lead the prayers because of their respect and love for him. He however was not arrogant or proud of this but in fact used the love of the people for a good use.
He chose old mosques which needed repair and construction and prayed in them. He then mobilized the congregation to donate towards its repair and maintenance. Once the mosque was repaired he shifted to another mosque which was in dire need of repair. The masses were surely to follow him to the mosque and once again they would stand up to its repair. In this way the great sheikh repaired a number of mosques.
How many people still pray in these mosques and the reward goes to him. 9
One of the great projects which Ayatullah Golpayeghani took up was the building of a great hospital in the holy city of Qum.
The director of this hospital narrates in an interview given by him to Iran T.V. that the late Ayatullah asked him some 27 years ago to leave Tehran in order to manage the new hospital in Qum.
The director says that he was hesitant to move from Tehran, when one night he dreamt that a holy and dignified personality was escorting him around the wards and various departments of the hospital. This great and holy personality then remarked that, indeed his wealth had been spent in a good way.
The director was surprised and asked in his dream: “Your wealth? Who are you?”
The great personality replied: “I am Mehdi.”
“Which Mehdi?” asked the director.
“Why, the same Mehdi you always hear and know about.”
When the director came to know that the 12th Imam was blessing the project, his mind about shifting to Qum was made up already.