28) The Perilous Road to Doomsday
"واعلَم اَنَّ اَمامَكَ طَرِيقاً ذَا مَسَافَةٍ بَعِيدةٍ ومَشَقَّةٍ شَدِيدَة وَانَّه لا غِنى بِكَ فِيهِ عَن حُسنِ الاِرتِيادِ وَقَدْرِ بَلاغِكَ مِنَ الزَّادِ مَعَ خِفَّةِ الظَّهرِ فَلا تَحمِلَنَّ على ظَهرِكَ فَوقَ طَاقَتِكَ فَيَكُونَ ثِقْلُ ذَلِكَ وَبَالاً عَلَيْكَ، واِذا وَجَدْتَ مِن اَهلِ الفَاقَةِ مَن يَحمِلُ لَكَ زادَكَ اِلى يَومِ القِيامَةِ فَيُوافِيكَ بِهِ غَداً حَيثُ تَحتَاجُ اِلَيهِ فاغْتَنِمهُ وَحَمِّلهُ ايَّاهُ وَاَكثِر مِن تَزوِيدِهِ وَانتَ قَادِرٌ عَلَيهِ فَلَعَلَّكَ تَطلُبُهُ فَلا تَجِدُهُ. واغتَنِم مَن استَقَرضَكَ في حَالِ غِناكَ لِيجْعَلَ قَضائَهُ لَكَ في يَومِ عُسْرَتِكَ.
وَاعلَم اَنَّ اَمَامَكَ عَقَبَةً كَئُوداً المُخِفُّ فِيهَا اَحسَنُ حَالاً مِنَ المُثْقِلِ والمُبْطئ عَلَيْها اَقبَحُ اَمْراً مِنَ المُسرِعِ وَاِنَّ مهبَطَها بِكَ لا مَحَالَةَ اِمَّا على جَنَّةٍ اَو على نَارٍ فارتَدْ لِنَفسِكَ قَبْلَ نُزُولِكَ وَوَطِئِ المَنزِلَ قَبْلَ حُلُولِكَ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَ المَوتِ مُستَعْتَبٌ وَلا اِلى الدُّنيا مُنصَرَفٌ"
“Know that there is, ahead of you, a road of great distance and severe hardship, and that in it you will need to make a proper search, collect provisions as much as you can, and have a light load (of sins). Do not burden your back beyond your strength such that the weight of that has evil consequences for you
And if you find a needy person to carry your provisions for you to the Day of Judgment, and deliver it to you tomorrow when you will be in need of it, then avail yourself of him and make him carry it. Continue to supply him with provisions (for yourself) as far as you are able, for you may seek him later and not find him. Avail yourself of one who asks you for a loan while you are in a state of affluence, so that his repayment of it to you will be on the day of your hardship.
Know that before you is a mountain road, difficult to ascend. The light-burdened one on it will be in a better condition that the heavy-burdened one, and the slow-moving one on it will be in a worse state than the fast-moving one. Its place of descent with you will undoubtedly be in Paradise or in the Fire. Thus, search (for provisions) for yourself before your descent, and prepare the station before your arrival, for after death there is no seeking of (God’s) favour or any return to this world.”
In this section of the letter, Imam ‘Ali (as) talks about the perilous road to Doomsday, and the hardships which exist there. He says no excuses are accepted and a return to the world is impossible. Whatever we are able to do, we should do here. Imam ‘Ali (as) has invited his son and all of his other spiritual sons to prepare provisions for Doomsday.
The following points in Imam ‘Ali’s letter are worth considering:
In this difficult and long road two things are essential: First, enough provisions which can help us there and which includes piety and good deeds. Imam ‘‘Ali (as) has said:
خَيرُ الزَّادِ التَّقوَى
"The best kind of provision is God-wariness."
And secondly, the light load of possessions in this world. We would suffer a lot in that long, tedious journey of ours. We will be destroyed if the load is too heavy.
B. Be Aware Of The Significance Of Those Who Carry Your Provisions On The Way Or Pay You Back What They Owe You On Difficult Days
In emphasizing our struggles to prepare the provisions, Imam ‘Ali (as) uses two beautiful similes and metaphors:
Firstly: In this long and tiring way if you can find somebody to be able to carry some of your provisions to your destination, you are lucky. Be aware that when you help the needy today, in fact you have put your provisions for the next world over their shoulders to deliver them to you in the next world. You might not be lucky enough to have a chance like this tomorrow:
Secondly: There are people who are ready to borrow from you when you are rich, to give it back to you when you are poor. Make the best of this situation. Be aware that to give away your wealth to the needy for God's sake is to lend to God.1 This is easy for you today to perform such a good act.
However, on Doomsday, when it is the time of hardship, despair and misery, the result is of significant consequences:
Imam ‘Ali (as) talks about hard–to–cross roads in the direction of Resurrection Day. These are mentioned in the books on traditions.2 Naturally, those who are light–loaded in sins pass both speedily and easily but the heavy–loaded sinners either fall or stumble on the way.
Imam ‘Ali (as) points out that the end point for all is either Paradise or Hell. We should make every thing ready before departure. After death there is no return.