Anecdotes of Reflection Volume 4

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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 4

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

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

Anecdotes of Reflection Part 4

Author(s): Sayyid Ali Akbar Sadaaqat

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

Table of Contents

Foreword 6

Introduction 7

Notes 9

61. Knowledge 10

Short Explanation 10

1) Al-Hajj Sheikh Abbas Qummi 10

2) The Tutor of Jibraeel 10

3) The Practicing A’alim 11

4) The Dangers of Possessing Knowledge without Prior Purification (of the Soul) 11

5) Asma’i and the Officious Grocer 12

Notes 13

62. Deeds 14

Short Explanation 14

1) The Lawful Work 14

2) The Practicing Ones and Paradise 15

3) The Working Youth 15

4) (Good) Deeds Cause a Jew to Become a Muslim 15

5) The Conduct of Mua’wiyah and Abu al-Aswad Du’ali 16

Notes 17

63. Food 18

Short Explanation 18

1) The Excessive Eater and the Moderate Eater 18

2) Food with Friendship 18

3) One Morsel and Selling One’s Faith 19

4) The Blessing is in the Bread 19

5) The Food of Death 20

Notes 20

64. Pride 22

Short Explanation 22

1) The Inner Pride 22

2) Pride with Respect to one’s Wealth and Children 23

3) The Proud Champion 23

4) The Scholar of Arabic Grammar 24

5) The Arrogance of Abu Jahl 24

Notes 24

65. Anger 26

Short Explanation 26

1) Dhul Kifl 26

2) Who is the Strong One? 27

3) One Advice 27

4) The Imam (peace be upon him) and the Slave 28

5) Bad Disposition and the Servants 28

Notes 28

66. Backbiting 30

Short Explanation 30

1) They Stopped the Backbiters 30

2) The Punishment for Backbiting, on the Day of Judgment 31

3) Impediment for the Rains 32

4) A Thousand Lashings 32

5) The Telltale Slave 33

Notes 33

67. Obscene Language 35

Short Explanation 35

1) The Imam’s Reaction 35

2) Usaamah’s Reply 36

3) Satan in the Company of Those Using Foul Language 36

4) Conduct 36

5) Ibn Muqaffa’ 37

Notes 38

68. Poverty 39

Short Explanation 39

1) The Poor Pious Person 39

2) The Destitute and Retirement 39

3) The Benefits of Assisting a Poor 40

4) The Neighbour of Sayyid Jawaad 40

5) Abandoning Poverty is also Difficult! 41

Notes 42

69. Adjudication 43

Short Explanation 43

1) The Imam (peace be upon him) and the Jinn Judge 43

2) The Inclination of the Judge and his Punishment 44

3) The ‘Hereafterly’ Judgment 44

4) The Jew and the Imam in the Presence of the Judge 45

5) The Eyes Turned Blind 46

Notes 46

70. Loans 47

Short Explanation 47

1) Abu Dahdaah 47

2) He Repaid the Loan of the One in Debt 48

3) The Fruits of Granting Respite to the Debtor 48

4) The Ignorant Debtor 48

5) The Debtor and the Prayer for the Deceased 48

Notes 49

71. Quran 50

Short Explanation 50

1) Attention towards the Creation or the Creator? 50

2) The Holy Prophet and the Quran 51

3) Ahmad Ibn Tuloon 51

4) Five Hundred Copies of the Quran atop the Spears 52

5) Napoleon 52

Notes 53

72. Destiny and Decree 54

Short Explanation 54

1) Fetters upon the Feet 54

2) Fish from the Sky 54

3) I’zraaeel, the Companion of Prophet Sulaiman 55

4) The Hoopoe 55

5) Faghfoor, the Chinese Emperor 56

Notes 57

73) Contentment 58

Short Explanation 58

1) The Conduct of Imam Sadiq 58

2) Salman 58

3) By Means of Contentment the Soul Becomes Submissive 59

4) Your Food or Your Ruler 59

5) The Conduct of the Contented Ones 60

Notes 60

74. The Day of Judgment 61

Short Explanation 61

1) The Plaintiff of the Day of Judgment 61

2) The Most Wicked of the People on the Day of Judgment 61

3) Fear of the Day of Judgment 62

4) Imam al-Mujtaba 63

5) Taubah Ibn Summah 63

Notes 64

75. Working 65

Short Explanation 65

1) The Endowment Letter 65

2) U'mar Ibn Muslim 66

3) To Work is Better than Consuming Charity 66

4) Putting the Soul to Labour 67

5) Ya’qub Ibn Laith Saffaar 67

Notes 68

76. Begging 69

Short Explanation 69

1) Imam Sadiq and the Beggar 69

2) Abbas Dous 70

3) The Limits of the Impoverished Ones 70

4) The Respectable Destitute 71

5 ) The Young Beggar 71

Notes 72

77. Helping Others 73

Short Explanation 73

1) Nine Thousand Years 73

2) Breaking the Circumambulation 74

3) Concern towards the Needy 74

4) Extinguishing the Lamp 75

Of course O’ Ali: I said 75

5) Lettuce 75

Notes 76

78. Malice 77

Short Explanation 77

1) Maliciousness of Waleed 77

2) Ibn Sallaar 77

3) Rancour Transforms into Friendship 78

4) The Vindictive Hypocrite 79

5) The Liver Eating Hind 79

Notes 80

79. Weeping 81

Short Explanation 81

1) Prophet Nuh 81

2) Prophet Yahya 81

3) The Intense Weeping of Hadhrat Zahra 82

4) Thirty Five Years of Weeping! 83

5) The Weeping of Mercy 83

Notes 83

80. Sins 85

Short Explanation 85

1) The Banishment of the Sinners 85

2) Prophet Isa and Praying for the Rains 86

3) The Reason for this Sin 86

4) The Expiation of Sins 86

5) Hameed Ibn Qahtabah Taai 87

Notes 88


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

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) has said,

بُعِثْتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ مَكَارِمَ الأَخْلاَقِ

“I have been sent to perfect the good morals.”

The Islamic Education department of The World Federation has a proud tradition of producing literature in the field of Islamic Ethics, in its long history of service to the community. In continuation of this service, we are pleased to present part four of the Farsi work ‘Yaksad Mawzu, wa Pansad Dastan’ by Sayyid Ali Akbar Sadaqat. The translation from Farsi to English was carried out by Shaykh Shahnawaz Mahdavi.

I would like to personally thank both Sayyid Ali Akbar Sadaqat and Shaykh Shahnawaz Mahdavi for their efforts in bringing this collection of very practical, inspirational and motivational stories into the hands of lay-people. The ‘Anecdotes for Reflection’ series has proven to be very popular amongst all sectors of the community.

Indeed some of my own Zakir colleagues make use of them for lectures, as do Madrasah teachers for their lessons to the younger generation. The far-reaching effects of what Shaykh Sadaqat and Shaykh Mahdavi have produced will inshallahbe appreciated for years and generations to come, ameen.

I pray to Allah (SWT) to reward them amply and to grant them increased success in their lives in this world and the hereafter.

Shaykh Abbas M H Ismail

Islamic Education

The World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities

Dhul Qa'dah 1433 / October 2012


There are numerous ways for man to achieve guidance and emerge from darkness and move towards light. Allah, for the prosperity of man and perfection of his morals, has created proofs, evidences and vestiges1 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.a.w), with regards to refinement of souls and perfection of morals, was an exemplar in speech and did, 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,inclination towards lust and obedience to the Shaytan. 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.a.w) 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.a.w), 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 ofاَلقَصَص (The Narratives), which itself is proof that man is in nid 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, Yaqub, 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 history 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 (a.s .), 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 (a.s), in Nahjul Balagha, says to his son Imam Hasan (a.s.)

“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 Ihya al-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-Maarif-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 which 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 Sadaaqat

And our final prayer (is):

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

Mordad, 1378 [July 1999]


1. Surat Ibrahim (14), Verse 5:

وَ لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسى‏ بِآيَاتِنَا أَنْ أَخْرِجْ قَوْمَكَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلـى النُّورِ

2. Suratul Hadid (57), Verse 25:

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَ أَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَ الْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ

3. Safinatul Bihar, vol. 1, pg. 411:

بُعِثْتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ مَكَارِمَ الأَخْلاَقِ

4. Surat Yusuf (12), Verse 3:

نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هذَا الْقُرْآنَ‏

5.Ibid., Verse 111:

لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِأُولِي الأََلْبَابِ‏

61. Knowledge

Allah, the Wise, has said:

وَ عَلَّمَكَ ما لَمْ تَكُنْ تَعْلَمُ‏

“And He has taught you what you did not know”1

The Holy Prophet (peacebe upon him and his holy progeny) said:

لاَ يُحِبُّ الْعِلْمَ اِلاَّ السَّعِيْدُ

“None loves knowledge except the one, who is fortunate (and prosperous)”2

Short Explanation

The way to attain cognisance of God and the Sharia’h is by means of knowledge. Knowledge is an embellishment for man in this world, and causes its owner to become one of those with whom God is pleased.

One who possesses knowledge, ought to realize that the acquisition of an hour of knowledge demands a life-time of practice (in accordance with the knowledge). Thus, when one seeks to acquire knowledge he should bear in mind that he has to practice what he acquires. This is because God, regarding a scholar that does not act in accordance with the knowledge that he possesses, has said: “From seventy of my punishments (that I would subject him to), the least that I would do to him is to remove the sweetness ofMy remembrance from his heart.”3

Knowledge does not mean mere memorization of terminologies, or information that is not beneficial, or information that is accompanied by evil intentions such as exhibiting one’s scholarly calibre before other scholars - in which case it would only serve to be an encumbrance and burden - rather, it means the comprehension of piety, (divine) cognisance and certainty.

1) Al-Hajj Sheikh Abbas Qummi

The late Sheikh Abbas Qummi, the author of Mafatih al-Jinan narrates:

“When I had compiled and published the book Manazil al-Akhirah, it reached the hands of Sheikh Abd al-Razzaq who used to explain religious rulings daily before dhuhr time in the holy courtyard of Hadhrat Ma’sumah (peace be upon her).

My father, Kerbalai Muhammad Ridha, was greatly fond of Sheikh Abd al-Razzaq and would attend his sessions every day. The Sheikh had procured the book Manazil al-Akhirah and used to read from it for his audience.

One day my father returned home and said to me: O Sheikh Abbas! I wish you would be like that person, who explains religious rulings, and climb onto the pulpit and recite from the book in the manner he recited for us today.

Several times I felt the urge to tell him that the book was authored by me, but I restrained myself and just said to him: “Pray to God that He may grant (me) grace and success (for such a venture).”4

2) The Tutor of Jibraeel

Once, Jibraeel was engaged in a conversation with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) when Imam Ali (peace be upon him) entered. As soon as Jibraeel’s eyes fell upon him he stood up and displayed great respect towards him (peace be upon him).

Witnessing this, the Holy Prophet (peacebe upon him and his holy progeny) asked: O Jibraeel! For what reason did you display such respect for this young man? Jibraeel replied: How could I not exhibit deference towards him when I am under his obligation by virtue of the fact that he has taught me!

The Holy Prophet (peacebe upon him and his holy progeny) inquired: What teaching? Jibraeel replied: After God created me, He questioned me: “Who are you and who am I?” I did not know what to answer and so remained silent for some time whereupon this youth appeared before me in a state of light and taught me that I should say: “You are the Glorious and Beautiful Lord while I am Jibraeel, a lowly servant.” And it is for this reason that when I saw him now, I paid my respects to him.

How old are you, Jibraeel? Asked the Holy Prophet (peacebe upon him and his holy progeny). He replied: O Prophet of God! In the heavens there is a star, which rises once every thirty thousand years, and I have witnessed it thirty thousand times!5

3) The Practicing A’alim

Sheikh Ahmad Ardabili, popularly known as Muqaddas Ardabili (d. 993 AH) was an abstentious and practicing scholar, and lived contemporaneous to scholars such as Sheikh Bahaai, Mulla Sadra and Mir Damaad. His grave lies within the holy shrine of Imam Ali (a.s .) in the city of Najaf. It has been reported that once a person had come to Najaf for pilgrimage and not recognising him, had requested him to wash his clothes.

Muqaddas agreed and after washing it, brought it to the pilgrim. It was at this point that the pilgrim happened to become aware of his identity and felt greatly embarrassed at his own behaviour, and the people too rebuked him for his conduct. Muqaddas, however, said:

Why do you censure him? Nothing (significant) has happened. The rights of brethren-in-faith are far more than what I have done for him.6

4) The Dangers of Possessing Knowledge without Prior Purification (of the Soul)

Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Mawardi, an inhabitant of Basra, was a judge, a teacher of the Shafi’i jurisprudence and a contemporary of Sheikh Tusi. He narrates:

I had expended great effort in writing a book on the religious rulings relating to transaction and business, and had memorized all the details in connection with the topic such that when the book reached completion, it crossed my mind that I was the most learned of all in this topic; I was overcome with pride, conceit and vanity.

One day, two Arab bedouins came to my assembly and sought to know from me the ruling in connection with a transaction that had transpired in their village. The issue also had four other offshoots to it; however I was unable to provide answers to any one of them.

For a while I was lost in thought, I then said to myself: You claim to be the most learned of all your contemporaries in this chapter of jurisprudence; how is it that you are unable to answer the questions of the inhabitants of the village?

Turning to them, I confessed: I do not know the answers. Astonished, they said: You ought to study more in order that you are able to answer the questions.

They left me and proceeded to refer their queries to a person, who in terms of knowledge, was inferior to even some of my students, but when they presented their questions to him, he was able to provide them with the answers. The Bedouins were delighted to hear the answers and praising him, left for their village.

Al-Mawardi says: This incident caused me to come to my senses and extricate my soul from conceit and vanity of knowledge so that I may not incline towards self-praise in the future.7

5) Asma’i and the Officious Grocer

Asma’i8 narrates:

The initial period of my education was endured in poverty and indigence. Every morning when I would leave my house for acquiring knowledge I would have to pass by an officious grocer who would question me: Where are you going? I would reply: I am going to gain knowledge. On my way back home, he would repeat the same question.

At times, he would say: ‘Don’t waste your life. Why don’t you learn some work so that you can become wealthy and affluent? Give me these books and papers of yours; I shall put them in the wine-jar and you will see nothing shall remain of them.’

He would constantly reproach me as a result of which I would become disturbed, mentally.

Days passed by with such great financial hardships that I would be unable to buy even a garment for myself.

Years passed till one day a messenger of the ruler of Basra approached me and asked me to present myself before the ruler. I said to him: “How can I present myself before him in this torn garment?“ The messenger departed, only to arrive again with some clothes and money. I wore the clothes and arrived before the ruler. He said: I have selected you to educate the Caliph’s son and so you must proceed to Baghdad.

I set off for Baghdad and approached the Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid, who ordered me to educate his son Muhammad Amin. With this, my financial state gradually became extremely good.

Years passed and when Muhammad Amin had achieved a high level of knowledge, Harun desired to test him asked him to deliver a sermon. One Friday, Muhammad delivered an extremely eloquent sermon, which greatly pleased Harun and so, turning to me, said: What do you aspire for? I replied: I wish to return to my birth-place, Basra. He accepted my request and arranged for me to return to Basra with great honour and esteem.

The people of Basra came to meet me and amongst them was the officious grocer. As soon as my eyes fell upon him, I said: Do you observe the fruits which that knowledge and those papers have yielded?

Apologetic and rueful, he said: I uttered those words out of ignorance. Even though the returns may be delayed, but knowledge does yield returns that possess worldly and religious benefits.


1. Qur’an, 4:113.

2. Jami’ al-Sa’adat, v. 1, p. 104.

3. Tadhkirah al-Haqaiq, p. 58.

4. Seema-e-Farzanagan, p. 153; Mard-e-Taqwawa Fadhilat, p. 48.

5. Tuhfah al-Majalis, p. 80.

6. Muntakhab al-Tawarikh, p. 181.

7. Safinah al-Bihar, v. 2, p. 162.

8. A'bd Al-Malik Ibn Qareeb Basri (d. 213 A.H.) had been of the great narrators of poems and Arab traditions, and has several books to his credit.