77. Helping Others
Allah, the Wise, has said:
فَوَجَدَا فِيهَا جِدَارًا يُرِيدُ أَن يَنقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ قَالَ لَوْ شِئْتَ لَتَّخَذْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) said:
مَن قَضَى لِاَ خِيْهِ الْمُوْمِن حاَجَةً فَكَانَّما عَبدَ اللهَ دَهْرَةً
God has created the people in a manner that they remain associated and connected to one another so that, by this way, they strive to fulfill each other’s needs and requirements.
At times a Mu'min falls in need of money for his house rent or treatment of disease or requires a recommendation in order to attain someone’s assistance but some people, despite possessing the means and the ability, due to some imaginary or apparent benefits, hesitate to offer their help. In such cases, God gets them entangled with their enemies (in this world) while, on the Day of Judgment, they shall be made to suffer punishment and chastisement.
The recommendations and rewards related to fulfilling the needs of the people have been emphasized in such great measure that one is left amazed that despite this great path available for procuring the success in the hereafter, how very few are those who make the best of it.
Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) has stated: Fulfilling a need of a Mu'min brother is better than liberating a thousand slaves and giving a thousand horses (for jihad) in the path of God.
Despite all the emphasis, it is the whisperings (of the Shaitaan) and attachment to the world, which prevent man from helping out the others.3
Maimoon Ibn Mahraan narrated:
I was sitting beside Imam Hasan (peace be upon him) when a man came up to him and said: O’ Son of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny)! I owe a person a debt but do not possess any money to repay it and so he intends to hurl me into prison.
The Imam (peace be upon him) said: Presently I do not possess any money by which I can pay off your debt. The man pleaded: Then do something so that he does not put me into prison.
The Imam (peace be upon him) had been in a state of itekaaf, but he put on his shoes and intended to move out of the mosque whereupon I said to him: O’ Son of the Prophet of God! Have you forgotten that you are in a state of itekaaf (and you must not go out of the mosque)?
The Imam (peace be upon him) said: No! I have not forgotten. However I have heard from my father that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) used to say: “One, who strives to fulfill a desire of his Muslim brother is like one who has spent nine thousand years, fasting during the days and worshipping during the nights.4
Aabaan Ibn Taghlib narrates:
I was engaged in the circumambulation of the Ka’bah in the company of Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) when one of my friends asked me to move to a side and listen to his request. Not wanting to leave the company of the Imam (peace be upon him), I ignored him and disregarded his request.
In the next round around the Ka’bah that person signaled me to come towards him; this time however the Imam (peace be upon him) happened to see him and so asked me: O’ Aabaan! Does he have some work with you? I replied in the affirmative, whereupon the Imam (peace be upon him) inquired: Who is he? I said: One of my friends. The Imam (peace be upon him) further inquired: Is he also a Mu'min and a Shiite? I replied: Yes. Hearing this, the Imam (peace be upon him) instructed: Go to him and fulfill his desire.
Should I discontinue my circumambulation? I queried. He (peace be upon him) replied: Yes. I asked: Is it permissible to discontinue even the obligatory circumambulations and leave them midway if it is for the purpose of fulfilling the needs of a Mu'min? He (peace be upon him) replied: Yes.
I halted my circumambulation and proceeded towards the man. After assisting the person, I returned to the Imam (peace be upon him) and requested him to inform me of the rights of a Mu'min upon another Mu'min…5
It so happened that once I was faced with abject poverty and was compelled to seek a loan from an A’lawi6 friend of mine, especially since the month of Ramadhan was near at hand. I wrote him a letter and he reciprocated by sending me a sac containing one thousand dirhams.
Soon after, I received a letter from another friend requesting me to assist him with a loan. I sent the sac containing the thousand dirhams, which I had taken as loan, to him so that so that he could be relieved of his problem.
It was not long before both, the A’lawi friend as well as one to whom I had sent the money, arrived at my place. The A’lawi enquired: What did you do with the money that I sent to you? I said: I have utilized it in a good deed. Hearing this he laughed and, placing that sac of money before me, said: Having sent you the money,I had no more money left. With the month of Ramadhan approaching, I decided to seek some money from this friend, only to receive the sac with my own seal upon it, which I had sent for you.
As all of us are in need, we have come here so that we distribute the money amongst ourselves till such time that God provides an opening for us.
We divided the money amongst ourselves and parted from each other.
However within the first few days of the month of Ramadhan all the money was exhausted. One day Yahya Ibn Khaalid summoned me; when I presented myself before him, he said: I have dreamt that you are faced with poverty. Tell me the truth.
When I narrated to him the past incidents, he was greatly astonished, and subsequently ordered thirty thousand dirhams to be given to me and ten thousand dirhams to be given to each of the other two friends.
It was because of our concern and care towards fulfilling the needs of our brethren that this windfall came our way.7
One night I was engaged in conversation with Amirul Mu'mineen (peace be upon him). As we talked, I said to him (peace be upon him): I am in need of something.
The Imam (peace be upon him) said: O’ Haarith! Do you regard me worthy of informing me of your need?
Of course O’ Ali: I said
When he heard this, the Imam (peace be upon him) suddenly rose from his place and extinguished the lamp; then, with great affection and compassion he sat down beside me and said: Do you know why I have extinguished the lamp? I have done this so that you can speak out all that is there in your heart without any kind of formality, and that I do not see the embarrassment upon your face.
Now speak out all that you desire to state for I have heard the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) say: “When the needs of a person are placed in the heart of another, they becomes a divine trust, which must be concealed from others; the one who conceals them, shall be given the rewards of worship.
But if they happen to be divulged, it befits all those who become aware of them to endeavour to fulfill them for the needy one.”8
One of the scholars of Najaf relates:
One day, at a greengrocer’s shop, I witnessed the late Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Aaqa Qaadhi9 (d. 1366 A.H.) busy selecting lettuces. However, contrary to the normal practice, I observed him selecting those that had become withered and those that possessed large and coarse leaves.
He selected the lettuces and handed them to the owner of the shop, who weighed it for him after which, tucking them under his cloak, he moved out of the shop. I hastened after him and enquired: Sir, why did you select the lettuces that were inferior and undesirable?
He replied: This greengrocer is a poor person and I occasionally help him; however, I do not wish to give him something gratuitously so that firstly, his esteem and honour does not erode and secondly, he does not, God forbid, habituate himself to taking things free of charge and thus become lax in his work.
I am aware that no one shall purchase these lettuces from him and he shall have to dump them outside when he closes his shop and so, in order to prevent him from suffering losses, I purchased them from him.
As for me, it does not make a difference if I eat lettuces that delicate and tender or those that are large and coarse!10
- 1. Holy Qur'an, ch. Al-Kahf (18), vs. 77.
- 2. Jaame' al-Sa'adaat, vol. 2, pg. 230.
- 3. Ihyaa al-Quloob, pg. 121.
- 4. Riwaayat-ha Wa Hikaayat-ha, pg. 122; Daastaan-ha-e-Paraakandeh, vol. 2, pg. 152.
- 5. Shanidani-ha-e-Taareekh, pg. 69; Mahajjah al-Baidhaa, vol. 3, pg. 356.
- 6. One, who is from the descendants of Imam A'li (peace be upon him) (Translator’s comments)
- 7. Namunah-e-Ma’arif, vol. 2, pg. 438; Farajun Ba’d al-Shiddah, pg. 186.
- 8. Baa Mardum In Guneh Barkhord Koneem, pg. 95; Wafi, vol. 6, pg. 59.
- 9. He was the teacher of irfaan (mysticism) for Allamah Tabatabai, Ayatullah Behjat, Ayatullah Sayyid A'bd al-Kareem Kashmiri and numerous others, and truly, the like of him has rarely been seen in the past sixty years.
- 10. Seema-e-Farzaanegaan, pg. 349; Mehr-e-Taabaan, pg. 20.