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Inserts / Messages
- Basic Education
- Interesting Articles
- Religious Lectures
- Wiladat Celebrations
- Questions about Iman
- Healthy Living
WILL OF IMAM ALI IBN ABU TALIB (ع) TO HIS SON IMAM AL-HASAN (ع)
Yasin T. al-Jibouri
(This text is excerpted from the forthcoming 8th edition of Nahjul-Balagha which I have been editing and which will soon be published in New York by TTQ. This is one of the most beautiful literary works I have ever come across, and I hope you, too, will see it as such. You are at liberty to circulate it and/or reproduce it however you see fit, surely this will please the Almighty with Whom Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (ع) enjoys a very special status…)
Imam Ali wrote the following for his son al-Hasan ibn Ali (ع) when he camped at al-Hadirin on his way back from Siffin:
“From the father who is (shortly) to die, who acknowledges the hardships of times, who has turned away from life, who has submitted himself to the (calamities of) time, who realizes the evils of the world, who is living in the abodes of the dead and is due to depart from them any day…, to the son who yearns for what is not to be achieved, who is treading the path of those who have died, who is the victim of ailments, who is entangled in the (worries of the) days, who is a target of hardships, a servant of the world, a trader of its deception, a debtor of wishes, a prisoner of morality, an ally of worries, a neighbor of griefs, a victim of distresses, the one who has been overpowered by desires and a successor of the dead.
“Now (you should know that) what I have learned from this world turning away from me, the onslaught of time over me and the advancing of the Hereafter towards me is enough to prevent me from remembering anyone except my soul and from thinking beyond myself. But when I confined myself to my own worries, leaving aside the worries of others, my intelligence saved me and protected me from my own desires. It clarified to me my affairs and led me to seriousness wherein there is no trickery, and to the truth which is not tarnished by falsehood. Here, I found you to be a part of myself, rather I found you my whole, so much so that if anything befalls you, it is as though it befalls me, and if death comes to you, it is as though it comes to me. Consequently, your affairs meant to me what my own matters meant. So, I have written this piece of advice (to you) as an instrument of seeking help, whether I remain alive or cease to exist.
“I admonish you to fear Allah, O my son, to abide by His commandments, to fill your heart with His remembrance and to cling to hope from Him. No regard is more reliable than the regard between you and Allah provided you take hold of it. Enliven your heart with preaching, kill it by renunciation, energize it with firm belief, enlighten it with wisdom, humiliate it by recalling death, make it believe in mortality, make it see the misfortunes of this world, make it fear the authority of the time and the severity of some changes during the nights and the days. Place before it the events of past peoples, recall to it what befell those who were before you. Traverse their cities and ruins, then see what they did and from what they have gone away, where they have gone and stayed. You will find that they departed from (their) friends and remained in loneliness. Shortly, you, too, will be like any of them. Therefore, plan for your place of stay and do not sell your next life for this one.
“Give up discussing what you do not know and speaking about what does not concern you. Keep off the track from which you fear to go astray because refraining (from moving) when there is fear of straying is better than embarking on dangers. Ask others to do good deeds; you will thus be among the doers of goodness. Discourage others from evil deeds with your own deeds as well as speech. Keep off, to the best of your ability, from whoever commits evil. Struggle for Allah as is His due, and the reviling of a reviler should not deter you in matters relevant to Allah. Leap into dangers for the sake of what is right wherever it may be. Acquire insight into religious laws. Habituate yourself to endure hardships since the best trait of character is endurance in matters of righteousness. In all your affairs, resign yourself to your Lord because you will thus be resigning yourself to a secure shelter and a strong Protector. You should ask only from your Lord because in His hand is all the giving and depriving. Seek goodness (from Allah) as much as you can. Understand my advice and do not turn away from it because the best saying is that which benefits. Be informed that there is no good in that knowledge which is futile, and if knowledge is not implemented, then its acquisition is not justified.
“O my son! When I noticed that I was of goodly age and that I was becoming increasingly weak, I hastened with regard to my will to you and wrote down salient points lest death should overtake me before I divulge to you what I have in my heart, or lest my wit should be affected just as my body has been, or the forces of passions or the mischiefs of the world should overtake you making you like a stubborn camel. Certainly, the heart of a young man is like an uncultivated land. It accepts whatever is strewn on it. So, I hastened to mold you properly before your heart hardened and your mind became occupied, so that you might be ready to accept through your intelligence the results of the experience of others and be saved from going through these experiences yourself. In this way, you will avoid the hardship of seeking them and the difficulties of experimenting them. Thus, you are getting to know what we had experienced and even those things become clear to you which we might have missed.
“O my son! Even though I have not reached the age which those before me have, yet I looked into their behavior and thought over events of their lives. I walked among their ruins till I was like one of them. In fact, by virtue of their affairs that have become known to me, it is as though I have lived with them from the very first to the very last. I have, therefore, been able to discern the impure from the clean and to benefit from harm.
“I have selected for you the choicest of those matters, gathered for you their good points and kept away from you their useless points. Since I feel for your affairs as a living father should, I aim at providing you with guidance. I thought it should be at a time when you are advancing in age and new to the state of the world, possessing upright intention and a clean heart and, being with the teaching of the Book of Allah, to Whom belong Might and Majesty, and its interpretation, the laws and commandments of Islam, its lawful matters and unlawful ones…, I should not go beyond these for you. Then I feared lest you should get confused as other people had been confused on account of their passions and (different) views. Therefore, in spite of disliking the thought of warning you, I thought it better for me to make this issue strong rather than leave you in a status where I do not regard you as being safe from falling into destruction. I hoped that Allah will help you in your straightforwardness and guide you in your resoluteness. Consequently, I wrote this piece of my will for you.
“Be informed, O my son, that what I love the most for you is that you adopt my will to fear Allah, to confine yourself to what Allah has made obligatory on you, to follow the deeds of your forefathers and the virtuous people of your household. These (men of virtue) did not fall short of seeing for themselves what you will see for yourself. They did about their affairs as you will like to think (about your own affairs). Thereafter, their thinking led them to discharge the obligations which they came to know and to desist from what they were not required to do. If your heart does not accept this without acquiring knowledge as they acquired it, then your search should first be by way of understanding and learning, not by falling into doubts or getting entangled in quarrels.
“Before you probe into this, you should begin by seeking your Lord’s help. Turn to Him for competence and keep aloof from everything that throws you into doubt or flings you towards misguidance. When you have made sure that your heart is clean and humble and your thoughts have come together, and once you have only a reflection about this matter…, it is then that you will see what I have explained to you. If you have not been able to achieve that peace of observation and thinking which you will like to have, then be informed that you are only stamping the ground like a blind she-camel and falling into darkness, while a seeker of religion should not grope in the dark, nor should he create confusion. It is better to avoid this.
“Son! Appreciate my advice, and be admonished that the Master of death is also the Master of life: The Creator causes death and grants life. The One Who destroys is also the One Who restores life. The One Who inflicts disease is also the one Who cures. This world continues in the way which Allah has made it with regard to its pleasures, trials, rewards on the Day of Judgment and all that He wishes and which you do not know. If anything of this advice is not understood by you, then attribute it to your ignorance of it because when you were first born, you were born ignorant; thereafter, you acquired knowledge. There are many masters of whom you are ignorant. There are many issues regarding which your sight first wonders and your eye wonders, too. After this, you shall see them as they are. Therefore, cling to the One Who created you, Who fed you and put you in order. You should worship only Him. Your eagerness should be towards Him, and your fear should be of Him.
“Son! Be informed that no one received messages from Allah, the Glorified One, as the Prophet (ص) did. Therefore, regard him as your guide and leader towards salvation. Certainly, I shall spare no effort to provide you with advice, and surely even if you try, you cannot acquire such insight for your welfare as I have for you.
“Son! Be informed that had there been a partner with your Lord, his [alleged partner’s] messengers, too, should have come to you and you would have seen signs of his authority and power. You should have known his deeds and qualities. But He is only One god, Allah, as He has described Himself. No one can dispute with Him regarding His authority. He is from eternity and will remain for eternity. He is before all things without any beginning. He will remain after all things without an end. He is far too great to have His divinity proved by any encompassing heart or by any vision. Once you have understood this, you should do what is done by him who is like you by way of his low status (compared to that of the Almighty), his lack of authority, his increasing incapability and great need for his Lord so as to seek His obedience. Fear His chastisement and be forewarned of His wrath because He does not command you save to be virtuous; He does not refrain you save from evil.
“O my son! I have informed you about life in this world, its conditions, its decay and passing away, and I have informed you of the Hereafter and of what has been provided in it for its people. I have recounted to you parables about it so that you may draw instruction from them and depend on them. The example of those who have understood the world is like those travelers who, being fed-up with drought-stricken places, set off for greenery and a fruitful place. Then they endure difficulties on the way, separation from friends, hardships of the journey and unwholesome food in order to reach their fields of plenty and places of stay. Consequently, they do not feel any pain in all this and do not regard any effort to be wasteful. Nothing is more lovable to them than what takes them near their goal and carries them closer to their place of stay. (Contrariwise), the example of those who are deceived by this world is like the people who were in a green place but became disgruntled with it and went to a drought-stricken place. Therefore, for them nothing is more detestable or abominable than to leave the place where they were and to go to a place which they will reach unexpectedly and for which they were heading.
“Son! Make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should wish for others what you wish for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress as you do not like to be oppressed. Do good deeds for others as you like goodness to be done to you. Regard as bad for yourself whatever you regard as bad for others. Accept from others what you like others to accept from you. Do not talk about what you do not know even though what you know may be very little. Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you.
“Be informed that self-admiration is contrary to propriety (deed) and is a calamity for the mind. Therefore, increase your striving and do not become a treasurer for (wealth to be inherited by) others. When you have been guided on the right path, humble yourself before Allah as much as you can.
“Be informed that in front of you lies a road of long distance and severe hardship and that you cannot avoid treading it. Take your requirements of provision in order to keep the burden light. Do not load your back beyond your ability lest its weight should cause you mischief. Whenever you come across a needy person who can carry for you your provision in order to hand it back to you on the Day of Judgment when you will need it, accept it as a good opportunity and get him to carry it. Put in that provision as much as you are able, for it is likely that if you need him (afterwards), you may not get hold of him. If a person is willing to borrow from you in the days of your affluence to pay it back to you at the time of your need, then make use of this opportunity.
To be continued
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