Discourse 22: Characteristics of a True Believer – Part VIII
Our ethical discussions have based on the tradition from the Noble Prophet (S) to Imam 'Ali (as) in which there are one hundred and three characteristics that a true believer must possess. Previously, we have covered thirty-five of these characteristics and in today's gathering, we will explain six more.
…أَمِيناً عَلى الأَمَانَاتِ، بَعِيداً مِنَ الْخِيَانَاتِ، إِلْفُهُ التُّقّى وَ حِلْفُهُ الْحَيَا، كَثِـيرُ الْحَذَرِ، قَلِيلُ الْزَلَلِ…
”(The true believer is one who) is trustworthy when given something to keep as a trust; is one who is far away from treachery or deceit; his close companion is piety; his associate is modesty; and in the face of dangers, he is always; alert and his misguidedness is little.”1
The thirty-sixth characteristic of a true believer is that when one is given a trust, he takes care of it. This trait plays a very important role in the teachings of the Prophets:
“Allah did not raise up a single Prophet except that he spoke the truth and gave back trusts (that were entrusted to him) to either the righteous person or to the wicked sinner.”2
The reason why the word “trust” has been mentioned in the plural form in this tradition could be due to the fact that it refers to various types of trusts that one is given to maintain.
The trusts of Allah (SwT) that are with us are many, such as: our life, the period of our youth, our health, faith, religion, children, the country we are living in, etc… and all of these are Divine trusts from Allah (SwT) that we must preserve.
If a person's child goes astray or we act in such a way that leads to irrelevancy of the religion of Islam or the teachings of the Ahlul Bait in the eyes of the people, then we have done treachery to the trusts that have been given to us.
Amongst all of the trusts that we have been given, the most important of them is the responsibility and accountability that all of the creations refused to accept and it was only mankind and humanity that accepted it. It is this trust that has such a great status which we must not be negligent of and it is because of this responsibility that when a boy or girl becomes physically mature (Baligh), that we hold programs to celebrate this special occasion. Such a program is completely appropriate and suitable to be held because at this age, the boy or girl is spoken to directly by Allah (SwT) - and this is not something to be taken as trivial!
The thirty-seventh characteristic of a true believer is that one keeps far away from treachery and deceit. By this we mean that the true believer keeps away from all forms of treachery - treachery in relation to wealth, knowledge (which he has been given which he is supposed to pass on to others), the spiritual heart (his emotions and sentiments), etc… The complete true believer is one who keeps away from all sorts of deceits and treacheries.
The thirty-eighth characteristic is that one is the true friend of a believer who possesses Allah consciousness (Taqwa).
As we know, Imam 'Ali (as) is the complete and most perfect example of this part of the tradition, and we see in history that when his brother (Aqil b. Abi Talib) asked him for something more than what was his right from the public treasury, Imam 'Ali (as) said to him that the relationship of being his brother was only up to that point of maintaining family ties and that he would not break the laws of Allah (SwT) even for his own brother.
The thirty-ninth characteristic is that one's close companion is modesty. The topic of modesty has many details associated with it but basically means that one turns away from anything that is a sin.
Today, the powers of influence are trying to pull the modesty away from the youth and if they are successful in breaking this shield that is around the youth, then without doubt, the youth will fall prey to many sins.
The enemies (of Islam) try to define modesty (Haya) as being a person possessing a weak soul, whereas this is not the case. We know that modesty in the face of the arrows of the enemies is like a rifle-pit (that protects the one who has this trait).
The fortieth characteristic is that when a true believer faces dangers, he pulls himself together; and when faced with the lower desires of his soul from within and the callings of Shaitan from outside, one is careful and attentive.
In many places in the Qur`an it is mentioned that when the lower desires of the soul and the Shaitan try to pull a person to perform a bad action then they (either the lower desires of the soul or the Shaitan) try and depict that act as being something beautiful and attractive.
For example, one of the the worst sins is to kill another person but even worse than this is when a person kills his own child, and even worse than these two is when a person kills his infant baby. The 'Arabs at the time of Ignorance used to bury their new-born daughters alive and in doing this, they thought that they were actually helping their wife! In reality, Shaitan had actually made their wicked deeds seem beautiful and fair-seeming to them!
The same things can be seen today however in different forms such as under the guise of human rights and fighting against terrorism we see that the United States of America acted out some of the worst forms of treachery around the world!
The forty-first characteristic of a true believer is that his misguidedness is very little. If he possesses any type of this in himself, then he definitely feels disappointed since he is able to see the true face of the actions which he is committing.
We pray that through the spiritual blessings of the Noble Messenger (S), who has spoken these words in this traditions, and through the spiritual blessings of the Commander of the Faithful,'Ali b. Abi Talib (as) who was the one being spoken to, that Allah (SwT) grants us all the success to implement these teachings within our own lives!