Discourse 29: Confusion Around the World
عَنْ عَلْقَمَةِ بْنِ الْحَصِينِ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ قَيْسَ بْنِ عَاصِمِ الْمِنْقَرِي يَقُولُ: قَدِمْتُ عَلى رَسُولِ اللٌّهِ في وَفْدِ مِنْ جَمَاعَةٍ مِنْ بَنِي تَمِيمٍ، فَقَالَ لِي: إِغْتَسِلْ بِمَآءِ وَ سِدْرٍ، فَفَعَلْتُ، ثُمَّ عُدْتُ إِلَيْهِ وَ قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللٌّهِِ، عِظْنَا عِظَةً نَنْـتَفِعُ بِهَا، فَقَالَ: يَا قَيْسُ، إِنَّ مَعَ الْعِزِّ ذُلاًّ، وَ إِنَّ مَعَ الْحَيَاةِ مَوْتاً، وَ إِنَّ مَعَ الدُّنْـيَا آخِرَةً، وَ إِنَّ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَسِيـباً، وَ عَلى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ رَقِيـباً وَ إِنَّ لِكُلِّ حَسَنَةٍ ثَوَاباً، وَ لِكُلِّ سَيِّئَةٍ عِقَاباً.
It has been narrated from 'Alqamah b. al-Hasin that he said, “I heard Qais b. 'Asim al-Minqari say, 'I was with the Messenger of Allah (S) with a contingent from the tribe of Bani Tamim, when he said to me: “Go and perform a ghusl with water mixed with sidr (a type of tree).” The companion said, “I did as I was told and returned back to the Prophet and said to him, 'O' Messenger of Allah! Give us some good council so that we can make use of this advice.” The Prophet said, “O' Qais! Surely along with honour and glory comes abasement; and along with life comes death; and with this world there is the next world; and there is an accountability for everything and there is a Watcher over everything; and for every good deed, there is a reward, and for every bad action there is a punishment.”1
One of the traits of this world is the upheaval that comes along with it. By this we mean that both this world and even humanity themselves - who are a part of this world - will never remain in one state. It is through paying attention to this point that a person's pride and vanity is destroyed since most of the problems and troubles of mankind are due to one's negligence.
Thus, if mankind was not negligent, then they would not easily give themselves up to abasement, nor would they commit sins. In summary it can be said that this negligence is the root of the misfortunes of mankind and in order to remove and protect a person from this wicked state, Islam has brought forth various ways and means that must be employed.
A) Paying attention to the confusion that take place around the world is enough to wake a person up and make him humble. If one notices that after every period of greatness (of a person or country), there is a period of abasement; after health there is sickness; after safety and security there is danger and anarchy; and after youth there is old age; then one would definitely humble oneself and try to remove all forms of negligence from within oneself.
A person must know that status, wealth, power and all other material bounties are not everlasting and whether one likes it or not, one day, all of these will be taken away.
This truth is something very important that the world will never remain in one state - rather, it is always changing and evolving and thus, we can not rely upon it. Yes, we must take this world as a bridge and a crossing point and a (temporary) residence to prepare ourselves for the next life, however we must understand that it is only the sacred essence of Allah (SwT) which will remain for eternity.
B) Obedience and worship (of Allah (SwT)) are two more things which can remove arrogance and negligence. It is through the Salat that a person can remember Allah (SwT) and remove the negligence within him.
There are some people who ask, “Until when must we perform this Salat?” It must be said to them that, “As long as we are in this world, we must continue performing the Salat since principally, we are in need of this Salat.” We must lift our hands in need in this Salat while in the presence of the One who is completely free of all needs and it is from Him alone that we must ask for the spiritual medicine to cure ourselves. Thus, the Salat will remove our negligence and spiritually awaken us.
C) Facing tribulations and difficulties also removes the veils of negligence from a person. When a person faces difficulties, we see that in the early stages, they are hard to go through, however if we carefully look at these difficulties, they are actually a blessing for us. In other words, these tribulations and all the difficulties which they cause are only one side of a coin while the other side of this coin is the happiness and pleasure that one will achieve (after having passed these tests).
One of the people who used to speak to us from the Mimbar in the past used to give us a very good example and would say, “If the entire highway was clean and flat (with no bumps or side railings on it), then surely a driver would fall asleep at the wheel. However if a portion of the highway was under construction, then the person would stay awake while driving and he would drive with utmost caution and be more alert.” In addition, sometimes a portion of the road (on the side - the shoulder) is made uneven, so that the driver does not fall asleep at the wheel.
Trials and tribulations is similar to this - the apparent aspect of these challenges are things which may upset a person, however there is mercy and blessing contained within them.
Another issue that has been alluded to in this tradition is that a person must know and understand that every act one performs - however great or small - even something involuntary as one's breathing - is under watch and is being recorded.2
Over and above any single creature, Allah the Most High, is watching over and seeing what we do; then the two Angels are commanded to be witnesses and write everything in a book; and even the land that a person lives in and his own body parts will bear witness for or against him on the Day of Resurrection.
In addition, it is mentioned in the tradition that even the day (each and every time period) will also bear witness on the Day of Judgement in relation to our actions and deeds.
Thus in summary we must know that we are under close watch and scrutinized every moment of our lives!
- 1. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 175
- 2. Not only are the two Angels - Raqib and `Atid watching everything that we do, however Allah (SwT) is also witness to our actions. Therefore, in the supplication of Kumayl, Imam `Ali (as) says the following:
وَكُلَّ سَيِّئَةٍ أَمَرْتَ بِإِثْبَاتِهَا الْكِرَامَ الْكَاتِبِينَ الَّذِينَ وَكَّلْتَهُمْ بِحِفْظِ مَا يَكُونُ مِنِّي وَجَعَلْتَهُمْ شُهُوداً عَلَيَّ مَعَ جَوارِحِي، وَكُنْتَ أَنْتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيَّ مِنْ وَرَائِهِمْ، وَالشَّاهِدَ لِمَا خَفِيَ عَنْهُمْ…
“…and for every evil action that You have ordered the Noble Scribes to write down, those whom You have appointed to record all my actions and to be witness over me along with the limbs of my body, while in addition to these, You also observe me and You witness those acts which You have concealed even from them.”