Anecdotes of Reflection Volume 2

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Anecdotes of Reflection Author:
Publisher: The Islamic Education Board of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities
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Anecdotes of Reflection

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Sayyid Ali Akbar Sadaaqat
Publisher: The Islamic Education Board of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities
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Anecdotes of Reflection

Anecdotes of Reflection Volume 2

Author:
Publisher: The Islamic Education Board of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Anecdotes of Reflection Part 2

Author(s): Sayyid Ali Akbar Sadaaqat

Publisher(s): The Islamic Education Board of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities

www.alhassanain.org/english

Table of Contents

Dedication 6

Foreword 7

Transliteration Table 8

Introduction 9

Notes 11

21. Piety (Taqwa) 12

Short Expalantion 12

1) The Incorrect Piety 12

2) Abu Dharr 12

3) A Drunkard is not to be Trusted 13

4) Sheikh Murtadha Ansari 14

5) The Objection of ‘Aqil 14

Notes 14

22. Trust In Allah 16

Short Expalantion 16

1) The Trader who Placed his Trust in Allah 16

2) The Noble Prophet and Trust in Allah 17

3) The Illness of Prophet Musa 17

4) Hammad Ibn Habib 18

5) Relying upon the Butler 18

Notes 19

23. Submission 20

Short Expalantion 20

1) The Imam’s Reply 20

2) Mu’adh Ibn Jabal 20

3) Learn Submission from the Pigeons 21

4) Sa’sah 21

5) Submission before a Ruling 22

Notes 22

24. Contemplation 23

Short Expalantion 23

1) Rabi’ah 23

2) Contemplation before Action 23

3) Types of Contemplation 24

4) Thoughts of Leadership 25

5) The Kingdom of Rey or Killing the Imam 25

Notes 26

25. Humiliation 27

Short Expalantion 27

1) Mufaďďhal Ibn ‘Umar 27

2) The Conduct of the Noble Prophet 28

3) The Consequence of Holding Someone in Contempt 28

4) The Short and Ugly Son 29

5) Bring forth One Worse than Yourself!] 29

Notes 30

26. Pride 31

Short Expalantion 31

1) Abu Jahl 31

2) Walid Ibn Mughairah 32

3) The Rich near the Poor 32

4) Sulaiman Ibn ‘Abdul Malik 33

5) Khusrow Parvez 33

Notes 34

27. Humbleness 35

Short Expalantion 35

1) The Humbleness of Salman Farsi 35

2) Bilal the Abyssinian 35

3) The Humbleness of the Noble Prophet 36

4) Muhammad Ibn Muslim 36

5) ‘Isa and the Washing of his Disciples’ Feet 36

Notes 37

28. Repentance 38

Short Expalantion 38

1) The Inventor of a Religion and Repentance 38

2) The Employee of Bani Umayyah 39

3) Return before Death 39

4) Abu Lubabah 40

5) Buhlul, the Gravedigger 41

Buhlul9, the Gravedigger 41

Notes 43

29. Ignorance 44

Short Expalantion 44

1) The Ignorant Commander 44

2) The Caliph’s Ignorant Son 45

3) The Handsome but Ignorant Person 45

4) Qais Ibn ‘Asim 45

5) A Long Beard 46

Notes 47

30. Greed 48

Short Expalantion 48

1) The Mud from a Grave is a Greedy Person’s Medicine 48

2) Greedy for Pleasure 49

3) ‘Isa and the Greedy Person 50

4) Dhul Qarnain 51

5) Ash’ab Ibn Jubair Madani (d. 154 ah) 51

Notes 52

31. Envy 53

Short Expalantion 53

1) The Friend of ‘Isa 53

2) ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy 54

3) The Strange Act of the Envious Person 54

4) The Envy of the Womenfolk 55

5) The Consequence of Jealousy 56

Notes 57

32. Truth and Falsehood 58

Short Expalantion 58

1) The Right of a Deceased Muslim 58

2) Mua`wiyah Ibn Yazid 59

3) Accepting the Truth 59

4) The Intoxicated turns Grateful 60

5) The Gratitude of Abu Dharr 60

Notes 61

33. Lawful and Unlawful 62

Short Expalantion 62

1) The Jews and the Unlawful Food 62

2) By Unlawful Means 62

3) The Satan’s Snare 63

4) The Caliph’s Food 63

5) ‘Aqil 64

Notes 64

34. Forbearance 65

Short Expalantion 65

1) The Nuisances of the Pigeon-Fancier 65

2) Tolerance Towards the Commander’s Deeds 65

3) Qais Minqari 66

4) Imam Hasan and the Syrian 66

5) Sheikh Ja’far Kashif al-Ghita 67

Notes 67

35. Modesty 68

Short Expalantion 68

1) Musa and the Daughters of Shu’aib 68

2) The Modesty of the Eyes 69

3) Zulaikha 69

4) The Modesty of Amirul Mo’minin 69

Notes 70

36. Fear 71

Short Expalantion 71

1) The Fearful Youth 71

2) The Mute Language of the Stone 71

3) Punishment by Fire 72

4) The Fearful Ones 73

5) Yahya 73

Notes 74

37. Treachery 76

Short Expalantion 76

1) The Treacherous Minister 76

2) Treachery during Ziarat 77

3) The Daughter’s Disloyalty towards the Father 77

4) The Indian and the Sixth Imam 78

Notes 80

38. The World 81

Short Expalantion 81

1) Esteem and Humiliation 81

2) Imam ‘Ali and the Public Treasury 82

3) Hadhrat Sulaiman 82

4) Talhah And Zubair’s Love for the World 83

5) What he Desired and What Eventually Happened! 84

Notes 85

39. Lies 86

Short Explanation 86

1) Walid Ibn ‘Uqbah 86

2) Hunger and Lies 87

3) The Lies of the Poet 87

4) Zainab the Great Liar 87

5) The Plain Lie of Amir Husain 88

Notes 89

40. Theft 90

Short Explanation 90

1) The Imam and the Thief’s Confession 90

2) The Bedouin’s Camel 90

3) Buhul and the Thief 91

4) The Qur’an-Reciting Blind Thief 92

Notes 93

Dedication

This book is dedicated to the late Vice President of the World Federation, Sultan Davdani, a sublime leader with qualities of compassion and quiet optimism, who believed that the greatest sin was to remain passive in the face of challenges.

Foreword

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

The concept of morality has existed since the creation of mankind. In the old days, there was a clear distinction between ‘good’ morals and ‘bad’ morals although people did not always follow the former. During modern times, the distinction between good and bad has become blurred and morality has been significantly diluted. As a result, there is a danger that immorality will prevail over morality throughout the world.

There is no excuse for a Muslim to get caught in this quagmire. There is clear guidance from Allah through Noble Qur’an and the Prophets and Ma’sumin. Prophet Muhammad  himself said, “I have been sent for the purpose of perfecting morals.” One of the best ways of understanding morality is by studying practical examples from the lives of Prophets and Ma’sumin.

A few books have been written on moral stories emanating from the Islamic world, one of them being ‘Pearls of Wisdom’, published by the Islamic Education Board of World Federation in March 1993. Bearing in mind the importance of the subject of Akhlaqiyat, IEB-WF is publishing ‘Anecdotes for Reflection’ in 5 parts. The source of this publication is the book ‘Yaksad Mawzu’wa 500 Dastan’ by Sayyid Ali Akber Sadaqat. The translation from Farsi to English was carried out by Shaykh Shahnawaz Mahdavi. IEB – WF would like to thank Sayyid Ali Akber Sadaqat and Shaykh Shahnawaz Mahdavi for their efforts and we pray to Allah (SWT) to reward them amply.

May Allah (SWT) accept this work as a further attempt by IEB – WF to propagateIslam.

Islamic Education Board

The World Federation of K S I Muslim Communities

Muharram 1426 / February 2005

Transliteration Table

The method of transliteration of Islamic terminology from the ‘Arabic language has been carried out according to the standard transliteration table mentioned below.

Introduction

There are numerous ways for man to achieve guidance and emerge from darkness and move towards light. Allah (SWT), for the prosperity of man and perfection of his morals, has created proofs, evidences and vestiges,1 so great in number that they are beyond reckoning and computation. For the guidance of mankind, He sent the Prophets with clear proofs2 , books, miracles and signs so that, perhaps, the people might perceive the right path and attain prosperity and success.

During the entire period of his prophethood, the Noble Prophet (S), with regards to refinement of souls and perfection of morals, was an exemplar in speech and deed, and had (even) said, “I have been sent (as a Prophet) for (the purpose of) perfecting the morals.”3

Man’s problem lies in his disregard for virtues, acquisition of vices, and inclination towards lust and obedience to Shaitan. Some men stoop so low that they even lead their lives akin to animals. For the purpose of refinement and treatment of human morals, abatement of rebelliousness and controlling the natural disposition, the Noble Prophet (S) spared no effort and mentioned all that was necessary in this regard.

Attainment of prosperity in this world and the Hereafter is only accomplished under the auspices of a teacher and, at the same time, not every person can completely identify the two extremes of moral behaviour in order to demonstrate the moderate and balanced path. Allah,Who is the Absolute Wise, introduced all the Prophets, especially the Noble Prophet (S), as the ‘teacher and trainer’ of morals, so that the people, by following in his footsteps, distance themselves from vices and acquire the honour of the two worlds.

In the Qur’an, there exists a chapter by the name ofالقَصَص (The Narratives), which itself is proof that man is in need of stories and narratives.

In many places in the Qur’an, stories of Prophets, kings and nations have been mentioned. In addition, Allah has presented issues pertaining to wars, peace, family, religion, society and other similar topics, in the form of stories and narratives. By reading these accounts, the people can comprehend and distinguish the paths of progress and regress, and ascent and descent in every field, especially morals.

The entire chapter Yusuf has been devoted to the story of Yusuf, Ya’qub, Zulaikha and the brothers. In the beginning of the Chapter, Allah says: “We narrate to you (O’ Prophet) the most excellent of the narratives by (means of) whatWe have revealed to you this Qur’an.”4

While, in the concluding verse of this very chapter, He says: “Indeed (there) in the histories of theirs, is a lesson for men of understanding.”5

Indeed, one of the distinguished feats of the Qur’an is this very story of Yusuf (as), which it refers to as the ‘best of the narratives’, and at the end of which, it says: “In these stories there is a lesson for those, who desire to take a moral and adopt the path of the Perfect Men.”

In this regard, Amirul Mo’minin (as), in Nahjul Balagha says to his son Imam Hasan (as): “Even though I have not reached the age, which those before me have, yet I have looked into their behaviour and reflected over the events of their lives. I walked amongst their ruins till I was as one of them. In fact, by virtue of those of their affairs that have become known to me, it is as though I have lived with them from the first to the last. I have therefore been able to discern the impure from the clean and the benefit from the harm. I have selected for you the choicest of those matters and collected for you their good points while keeping away from you the useless ones.”

Years ago, I had written a book on ethics (for the treatment of vices), by the name of Ihyaul Qulub.Ever since, I had been reflecting over the idea of compiling a book on moral stories. It so happened that, divinely, an opportunity came up before me and with it the motivation for undertaking this assignment. In spite of the lack of necessary books, I contented myself with those that were available and commenced the compilation of this book, recording four to five stories for every topic.

I have certainly not come across any book which has been compiled in this fashion. Books like Namunah-e-Ma’arif-e-Islam and Pand-e-Tarikh have been present for around 30 years and I have made use of them too (in the course of this collection), but in those books, Qur’anic verses, traditions, poems and analogies have all been accumulated together; whereas, I have sought to satisfy myself by mentioning only the stories, while abstaining from presenting considerations relating to Qur’anic verses, traditions, poems and analogies, which would not only have increased the size of the book but would also have made it difficult to understand for many of the readers. This collection caters for the general public, young and old alike, who are acquainted with basic reading and writing.

As far as possible, I have endeavoured to omit scientific issues and those aspects, pertaining to traditions, whose comprehension would be demanding and exacting for the general masses.

Although some of the stories may not possibly possess any aspect of reality and actuality, what I have focused on is the admonition and ‘taking-a-lesson’ aspect contained in them, which hopefully, the honourable readers would perceive and comprehend.

As far as the issue of associating a story to a particular topic is concerned, I do not claim that the stories allude to just one topic or that particular one which has been specified here; rather, there are stories which can be associated with several other topics too, in addition to the topic under which it has been mentioned here.

When narrating a text or presenting a translation, I have not restricted myself to the literal meaning but, for a better comprehension, have resorted to paraphrasing, allusion and conceptual explanation too.

To avoid interference of topics with one another and prolongation of discussion, I have refrained from bringing forth topics that are related to those already presented. For example, Ithar (altruism) has been presented as one of the topics but Infaq (spending in the path of Allah) has been excluded.

To prevent the reader from experiencing exhaustion and boredom, and for the sake of variety, I have desisted from presenting stories of a monotonous kind, like those of philosophers and poets, but have strived to make the collection varied. In this way, the readers will, hopefully, derive a greater pleasure from the narratives.

In view of the fact that trustworthiness ought to be adhered to, I have referred every narrative presented here, to the book from which it has been extracted, also mentioning the volume and page. It is only with the objective of achieving a greater fluency of work that I have endeavoured to correct, polish or alter some of the words or sentences of the original text.

It is hoped that the readers, after going through the stories and narratives, reflect upon and take lessons from them so that they are able to create within themselves, a new impetus towards perfection of morals; and Allah Willing, those who are endowed with laudable morals, should relate them to others, for rectification and remedy of the weaker souls.

Sayyid Ali Akbar Sadaqat

And our final prayer (is):

All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Mordad, 1378 [July 1999]

Notes

1. Noble Qur’an, Surat Ibrahim (14), Verse 5

وَ لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنا مُوسى‏ بِآياتِنا أَنْ أَخْرِجْ قَوْمَكَ مِنَ الظُّلُماتِ إِلَى النُّورِ

2. Ibid, Suratul Hadid (57), Verse 25

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنا رُسُلَنا بِالْبَيِّناتِ وَ أَنْزَلْنا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتابَ وَ الْمِيزانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ

3. Safinatul Bihar, Volume 1, Page 411. بُعِثْتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ مَكَارِمَ الأََخْلَاقِ

4. Noble Qur’an, Surat Yusuf (12), Verse 3

نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِما أَوْحَيْنا إِلَيْكَ هذَا الْقُرْآنَ‏

5. Ibid, Verse 111 لَقَدْ كانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِأُولِي الأََلْبَابِ

21. Piety (Taqwa)

Allah, the Wise, has said:

فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَى وَ اتَّقُوْنِ يَـا أُُولِي الأََلْبَابِ

“But the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, O’ ye that are wise.”1

Imam ‘Ali (as) said:

لاَ يُقَلَّلُ عَمَلٌ مَعَ تَقْوىً

“No deed, if accompanied by piety, is trivial.”2

Short Expalantion

Special taqwa is acquired by refraining from prohibited and dubious things, whereas general taqwa is acquired out of fear of punishment and the fire of Hell.

Taqwa is similar to the water of a river that flows by the trees growing along its banks, each tree benefiting from it in the measure of its tenderness, covetousness and essence. Although people benefit from piety according to their knowledge, perception and level of faith, their levels of piety differ in deeds and sincerity.

In reality, piety is absolute obedience without any transgression, and (it is) knowledge without any ignorance. It becomes the cause for the acceptance of one’s (good) deeds and makes one, who comes to possess it, distinguished and pre-eminent.3

1) The Incorrect Piety

Once, during the era of the Noble Prophet (S), three ladies approached him to complain about their husbands.

The first lady complained: “My husband has stopped eating meat.”

“My husband has abandoned the use of perfume,” the second one protested.

The third lady complained that her husband did not have intimate relations with her.

(By behaving in this manner, the husbands had desired to practice piety and abstinence).

This disturbed the Noble Prophet (S) so much that as he came out of his house, he did not even put on his cloak properly and thus, it dragged along the ground behind him.

Climbing the pulpit before a gathering of the people, he praised Allah, and said: “Why is it that some of my companions do not eat meat, they do not apply perfume and they do not have intimate relations with their wives? O’ Muslims! Do know that I too eat meat, make use of perfume and am intimate with my wives. This is my tradition and one who distances himself from my tradition is not from me.”

In this manner, the Noble Prophet (S) destroyed the foundations of incorrect piety and condemned its advocates.4

2) Abu Dharr

Abu Dharr said: “My provisions and savings during the time of the Noble Prophet (S) had always been three kilograms of dates. As long as I live, I shall never seek to possess more than this quantity.”

‘Ata says: I noticed Abu Dharr offering prayers in an old garment.“O’ Abu Dharr! Don’t you have a better garment?” I asked him.

“If I had one, you would have seen me in it,” he replied.

“But for a period, I had seen you with two outfits,” I said.

“I gave the other one to my nephew, who was in greater need than me.”

“By Allah! You are needy yourself,” I exclaimed.

He raised his head towards the sky and implored, “Indeed! O’ Lord! I am in need ofYour forgiveness.”

He then turned to me and continued, “It appears that you have come to regard this world as something very important and significant. In addition to this garment that you presently see on me, I have one more garment which is exclusive for the mosque, some goats which provide me with milk, some food, a wooden case in which I carry my belongings and a wife who relieves me from the troubles of cooking; what bounty could be greater than what I possess?”

Some people suggested to Abu Dharr, “Do you not desire to purchase properties for yourself as the others have done for themselves?”

“What need do I have to become an aristocrat or a nobleman?” he replied. “A drink of milk and water every day and a (small) amount of wheat in a week are quite sufficient for me!”5

3) A Drunkard is not to be Trusted

Isma`il , the eldest son of Imam Sadiq (as), had some money in his possession. When he learned that a person from the tribe of Quraish who was living in Madinah, was about to set out for Yemen, he decided to hand him some money so that he could purchase for him some merchandise for trade.

When Isma`il consulted his father, Imam Sadiq (as) about the issue, the Imam (as) inquired: “Does the man consume intoxicants?”

“People say so, but how do we know they speak the truth?” replied Isma`il .

The Imam (as) advised him, “It is not in your interest to give him the money.”

But Isma`il still gave his money to the person, who proceeded on his trip and in the course of it, embezzled the funds.

During the season of Hajj, both Imam Sadiq (as) and Isma`il went on pilgrimage. Isma`il was in the process of performing the Tawaf of the Ka’bah when the Imam (as) noticed that he was continually beseeching Allah to redeem his losses.

Manoeuvring himself through the crowd, the Imam (as) reached his son and placing his hand upon his shoulder, squeezed it lightly and said: “My Son! Do not seek anything from Allah needlessly, for you have no right upon Him. You should not have trusted the person in the first place. It is not upon others to rectify one’s own wrongdoing.”

“The people used to say that he consumed intoxicants but I had not seen him consume it!” said Isma`il .

The Imam (as) advised him further: “Consider the talks of the believers to be correct and do not trust a drunkard; be wary of giving money to those who are foolish and weak of understanding just as has been stated in the Qur’an6 . Who could be more foolish than a drunkard? Suggestions and intermediation of a drunkard in issues related to marriage should not be accepted nor should one place trust in his possession for he is bound to misappropriate it. A person who relies on a drunkard has no right whatsoever upon Allah that he may seek from Him compensation for damages suffered by him.”7

4) Sheikh Murtadha Ansari

The late Sheikh Murtadha Ansari, in the company of his brother, travelled from Kashan to Mashhad and then arrived in Tehran where he eventually settled down in Madershah madrasah in which he shared a room with one of the students.

One day, the Sheikh gave the student some money so that he could buy some bread for both of them. When the student returned, the Sheikh noticed that he had brought some sweetmeat too, which he had placed on top of the bread. Turning to the student, he said: “From where did you get the money to purchase the sweetmeat?”

“I borrowed it,” replied the student.

The Sheikh took only that portion of the bread that had no sweetmeat on it, saying: “I shall not eat the sweetmeat for I am not sure I may live long enough to repay the debt!”

Years later, when that student came to Najaf, he went to the Sheikh and asked: “Now that you are at the head of the Hawza ‘Ilmiyyah and the Marja’ of the entire Shi’a world, tell me, what did you do that Allah granted you this great success?”

“It is because I did not have the courage to eat even that portion of the bread which lay beneath the sweetmeat, but you had the audacity to eat the bread as well as the sweetmeat!” replied the Sheikh.8

5) The Objection of ‘Aqil

Once, after becoming the caliph, Imam ‘Ali (as) ascended the pulpit, praised Allah and said to the assembly: “By Allah, as long as I have in my possession (even) one branch of a date-palm, I shall not extend my hand towards your wealth. I am depriving myself of this wealth and am giving it to you.”

At this point ‘Aqil, the brother of Imam (as), stood up. “By Allah! You have placed me on par with that black person from Madinah,” he said.

“Sit down! Thereis none except you, who could have spoken out in this gathering. You do not possess any kind of superiority over that black person, save for precedence in Islam, piety and reward, and these are issues which bring about superiority in the Hereafter,” Imam ‘Ali (as) cautioned him.9

Notes

1. Noble Qur’an, Suratul Baqarah (2), Verse 197

2. Al-Kafi , Volume 2, Page 61

3. Tadhkeratul Haqaiq, Page 79

4. Hikayat-ha-e-Shanidani, Volume 2, Page 74; Al-Kafi, Volume 5, Page 496

5. PaighambarWa Yaran, Volume 1, Page 47; A’yan al-Shi’a, Page 329 – 347

6. Noble Qur’an, Suratul Nisa (5), Verse 5 (لاَ تُؤْتُوا السُّفَهاَءَ اَموَالَکُمُ الَّتي جَعَلَ اللهُ لَکُم قِيَاماً )

7. Ba MardumIn Guneh Barkhord Konim, Page 35; Biharul Anwar, Volume 4, Page 267

8. Dastan-ha Wa Pand-ha, Volume 4, Page 151; ZindagiWa Shakhsiyyat-e-Sheikh Ansari, Page 70

9. Namunah-e-Ma’arif, Volume 3, Page 171; Al-Wafi, Volume 3, Page 60