32 Virtues & Vices as Defined by Imam Al-Hasan (a) - Ramadan 2021 Day 15

Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim, Assalamu alaykum, wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. What is bravery, how can we define stinginess? What can we understand when the word fraternity is used? The definitions of moral virtues as well as vices are key when it comes to applying them into our lives.

There's no doubt that the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, and his holy Pure Progeny, not only taught sublime morals and ethics, but were the living embodiment of the best Akhlaq [ethics, manners] human beings display. In one beautiful passage narrated in the book Tuhaf al-'Uqul, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, alayhi as-sala, asks his son Imam Al-Hasan Al Mujtaba, peace and blessings be upon him, to define 32 qualities, traits and vices related to virtue and ethics.

The words and the responses presented by Imam Al-Hasan, are of the highest quality in terms of linguistic eloquence and concise description, as well as indicative of his extensive wisdom and knowledge. Here is the conversation.

Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam, asked him: What is asceticism, zuhd? Imam Al-Hasan replied, Asceticism is the desire for God-consciousness, Taqwa, and the abstinence from the worldly pleasures. What is forbearance, Hilm? Imam asks. Forbearance is the suppression of one's anger and self-possession, Imam Al-Hasan replies. What is being upright, sadad? Sadad is to push away bad by means of goodness, Imam Al-Hasan replies. Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam, continues and asks his son a number of questions to highlight his extensive knowledge.

What is honour, Al-Sharaf? Honour is to be righteous to your people and protect their misdeeds. What is bravery, an-Najda? Bravery is to overlook the harm of the neighbour, and to be firm in misfortunes and courageous in crisis. What is glory, al-Majd? Glory is to give in loss and forgive the wrong. What is intellect? Al 'Aql? Intellect is to preserve whatever is held in the heart. What is chivalry, al-Muruwa? Chivalry is to protect the religion, strengthen your soul, be lenient, sustain in doing favours, fulfill the rights, and behave with love towards the people.

Imam Ali, alayhi as-salam, continues: what is generosity, Al-Karam? Generosity is to start giving before it is asked from you, and to serve food in times of hardship, Imam Al-Hasan replies. What is shortcoming, Dania'a? Shortcoming, according to Imam Al-Hasan, alayhi as-salam, is to take too much care in worthless things and refrain from giving even when it's little. What is stinginess? Stinginess is when you give little and you speak foul. What is being easygoing, Al-Samah? To be generous at times of ease and hardship. What is avarice, Al-Shuh? Avarice is to consider what you have in your hand as pride and what you have spent as waste.

What is fraternity, Al-Ikha'? Fraternity is to be loyal at times of hardship as well as ease. What is cowardice, Al-Jubun? Cowardice is the audacity to go against the friend, yet also fear the enemy. What is opulence, Al-Ghina'? Opulence is to be pleased with whatever is being given, even if it is little. What is poverty, Al-Faqr? Poverty is to be greedy for everything. What is magnanimity, Al-Jood? Magnanimity is to work the hardest at all times.

What is intrepidity, Al-Ju'ra? Intrepidity is to challenge the opponents. What is power? Power is might, that is intense strength and struggle for the sake of Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala. what is humility, adh-Dhull ? Imam Ali asks. Humility is to feel fearful in situations where you need to say the truth, Imam Al-Hasan, alayhi as-salam, replies.

What is clumsiness, Al-Khurq? Clumsiness is to confront the ruler and that who is more powerful than you. What is nobility? Nobility is to do the good and to avoid the evil. What is determination, Al-Hazm? Determination is to be patiently waiting, behave carefully with the rulers, and be cautious when dealing with people. What is honour, Al-Sharaf? It is to support your brothers and protect their neighbours. What is deprivation, Hirmaan? Deprivation is to shun the opportunity when you are able to seize it.

What is foolishness, Al-Safha? Foolishness is to follow the mean, and associate with the seducers. What is inability to speak? That is to play with your beard and to hesitate before you speak. What is courage, Shuja'a? The Commander of the Faithfuls asks Imam Al-Hasan, alayhi as-salam. Courage is to challenge the opponents and to be steadfast during fighting. What is intrusiveness, Al-Kulfa? It is to intrude in matters that do not concern you. What is stupidity, Al-Safha? Stupidity is to behave foolishly with the wealth, and to disregard one's dignity. What is miserliness, Al-Lu'm? This is the will to have everything for oneself and to give away your honour.

Each and every one of these 32, needs to be reflected upon and applied into our lives. Peace and blessings be upon you Ya Abba Muhammad, Al-Hasan Al-Mujtaba az-Zaki.