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Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb’s (as) Sermon Regarding The Description Of The Pious

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Abaan Bin Abu Ayyash, from Sulaym who said;

‘A man from the companions of Imam Ali (as) who was called Hamaan, stood up- and he was a devoted struggler (Mujtahid)- so he said, ‘O Amirul-Momineen (as), describe the qualities of a believer to me in such a way as if I am looking at them’. So Imam Ali (as) paused for a while from answering him, then said: ‘O Hamaam, fear Allah (swt) and do good deeds, for Allah (swt) is with those who are pious and do good deeds’.

Hamaam said to him, ‘I ask you by the One (swt) who Honoured you (as), and specialised you (as), and Loved you (as), and Preferred you (as) by what He (swt) Gave to you (as), describe them for me’. So Imam Ali (as) stood up upon his (as) feet. He (as) Praised Allah (swt) and Extolled Him (swt) sent Greetings upon the Prophet (s) and the People of his Household (as), then said: ‘Having said that, surely Allah (swt) Created the creatures, although when He (swt) Created them He (swt) needless of their obedience and safe from their disobedience, because neither does the disobedience of the one who disobeys adversely affect Him (swt), nor does the obedience of the obedient one benefits Him (swt). He (swt) Distributed the sustenance between them and placed them in different places of the world. However Adam (as) came down to it (first) as a Punishment for what he (as) did what Allah (swt) had Forbidden him (as) to do, having violated His (swt) Order and disobeyed Him (swt).

The believers that are in the world are the people of the virtues, their logic is righteousness, and their clothing is economical, and their walking is with humbleness. They subject themselves to obedience to Allah (swt) and lower their eyes from what Allah (swt) has Prohibited to them, and devote their hearing to the knowledge. Their behaviour in afflictions is similar to their behaviour in prosperity, pleased with the Decision of Allah (swt). If Allah (swt) had not Decreed a term for them, their souls would not tarry in their bodies even for the blink of an eye in their desire for the Reward, and Fear from the Punishment. They consider the Creator to be Great for themselves and everything else seems little in their eyes.

They and the Paradise is as if they can see themselves in it having been Favoured by its Bounties, and they and the Fire is as if they can see themselves in it being Punished. Their hearts are in grief, they are safe within the Limits (of Allah (swt)), their bodies are slim, and their desires are little, and their souls are chaste, and their help in Al-Islam is great. They remain patient for (some) days so that they will acquire a long rest. Their business was profitable which their Generous Lord (swt) Made it to be easy for them. The world wants them but they do not want the world, and it sought them but they are content without it.

As for the night, they spend it upon their feet (worshipping), reciting parts of the Quran, reciting it gradually, grieving for themselves by it having been affected by it, healing their illnesses, their grief give rise to sadness within them (and eventually) leading them to weep for their sins. So if they pass by a Verse in which there is an incentive, they turn their attention towards it in desire thinking that it has been established in front of their eyes and they are in the midst of it, they glorify a great glorification, they lay their foreheads and palm and knees on the floor (prostrate), tears flowing upon their cheeks hoping to go to Allah (swt) and free their necks from the Fire.

And if they pass by a Verse in which there is a scare, they turn the ears of their hearts and their vision towards it, and the hair of their skin stands upon its ends due to it, and their hearts tremble, and they think that they can hear the groaning of Hell and its exhalation and its inhalation ringing in their ears.

And as for the day, they are forbearing, knowledgeable, goodly, pious, away from fear, for they are like the arrows. When a person looks at them he reckons them to be struck by illness, and they are not a people struck by illness or surrounded by it, but they are a people surrounded by a great matter. When the Greatness of Allah (swt) is mentioned and the intensity of His (swt) Governance along with the mention of the death and the situation of the Day of Judgement, their hearts are alarmed by it, their understanding is deeply disturbed, and their intellects are stunned, and the hair on their skin stands upon its ends. When they regain their senses they take the initiative to Allah (swt) by the pure deeds, not being happy with a few (submitting) to Allah (swt), and not considering a lot (of their deeds) to be sufficient.

They accuse themselves and are fearful of their own deeds. If someone praises them, they fear from what he is saying, and say (to themselves), ‘I know myself more than others, and my Lord (swt) is More Knowing of myself than others. Our Allah (swt), do not Take me to account for what he is saying, and Make me be better than what he is thinking (me to be), and Forgive me of what he does not know (about me), for You (swt) are the Knowing of the hidden and the Concealer of the faults’.

And from the signs, one of them is that you will see in him strength in Religion and resoluteness in his gentleness, and compassion in his profound thoughts, and gentleness in intelligence, and moderation in wealth, and humbleness in worship, and toleration in poverty, and patience in difficulties, and merciful in the exertions, and a giver in rights, and a sharing in (their) earnings, and good in the Permissibles, and active in the guidance, critical of the greed, and respectful in uprightness, and holding back during desires.

They do not get tempted by the praises of the ignorant, and do not count their (good) deeds, not delaying themselves in performance of the deeds, they keep doing good deeds. And he is a man who ‘hums’ (chant) thankfulness in the evenings and in the mornings and busies himself with the Remembrance. He spends the night cautiously (in fear) and in the morning he is happy. He is fearful of what he should be fearful of, and happy with what he has been given from the virtues and the Mercy.

And if he finds difficulty upon himself which he does not like, he does not try to overcome it by surrendering to his ‘nafs’ (ego). So he is happy with that which is eternal and long-lasting and delights his eyes in what will not pass away. He desires that which is to remain and refrains from that which is doomed for (destruction). He mixes the forbearance with the knowledge and the knowledge with the intellect. You will see him to be remote from laziness, working endlessly, close to his deeds, (considering them to be) little with Allah (swt), anticipating his death, humble in his heart, content with himself, his ignorance is absent, his matters are easy, safeguarding his Religion, his desires have been killed, controlling his temper, keeping clean (physically and spiritually), his neighbour is safe from him, his arrogance is suppressed, he is satisfied with whatever that has been Decreed for him, robust in his patience, decisive in his matters, and frequent in his Remembrance.

He does not narrate what the friends have entrusted to him, and does not conceal the testimony of the enemies, and does not do anything from the truth to show off or to avoid embarrassment.

The good deed from him is (always) expected, and people are safe from him as the evil from him is never emanating. He excuses the one who is unjust to him, and he gives sanctuary to the one who comes to him, and maintains relations with the one who cuts it off from him. His forbearance does not separate from him and he does not rush into that which is doubtful for him, and tolerates what is clear to him. And his ignorance is remote from him, his talk is soft, he dislikes finding faults, he is near to good deeds, truthful in his speech, beautiful in his deeds, goes forward with his good deeds and leaves his evil deeds behind. And he is firm in shaky situations, and in hardship he is patient, and in the prosperity he is thankful.

He is not unjust to the one who hates him, and does not sin in what he loves, and does not make a claim for that which is not for him, and does not fight against the rightful who is against him. He sides with the truth even before witnesses are brought against him. He does not waste that which he was guarding for someone else, taunt others with the titles (which they do not like), he is not unjust to anyone, and does not intent any jealousy, he does not harm the neighbours, and he does not gloat over (other people’s) calamities. He returns the entrustments, quick to go towards the Prayers, slow towards the evil actions, he enjoins the good and forbids from the evil. He does not enter into the matters due to ignorance, and does not exit from the truth due to frustration.

If he is silent, his silence does not grieve him, and if he talks, he does not speak errors, and if he laughs he does not do it in a loud voice. He is satisfied with what has been Decreed for him. He does not go wild in anger and his desires do not overcome him, scarcity does not make him to be oppressive, and he does not desire for that which is not for him. He mixes with the people to learn, and keeps quiet to remain safe, and he asks to learn (not to embarrass others or to impress them), does business to profit by it, and holds discussion to learn.

He does not listen to good to be proud by it, and does not speak to belittle others. He places himself in difficulties, and the people are in happiness from him, he tires himself for the Hereafter, and the people are happy from him. If he is oppressed he observes patience until Allah (swt) Grants victory to him. His remoteness from those who keep away from him is due to renunciation (keeping away from backbiters) and his self-restraint, and his nearness to those who come near him is due to softness and his compassion. He does not distance himself due to arrogance and greatness, and does not come near to deceive and that which would cause harm, but he follows the example of the ones who were before him of the good people, and he leaves a good example for people (who would come) after him.’

Sulaym said; ‘Hamaam shrieked loudly, then became unconscious’. So Imam Ali (as) said: ‘But, by Allah (swt), I (as) was afraid of this for him’, and said: ‘This is what the sermons do when they reach its deserving ones’. Someone said to him (as), ‘So what is your (as) state, O Amirul-Momineen (as)?’ He (as) said: ‘There is a term appointed for everyone that he is not prepared for, and a reason why he cannot exceed it. So wait, and do not go ahead, for the Satan (la) is speaking from your tongue’. Then Hamaam raised his head, sighed in deep shock, and separated from the world. May Allah (swt) have Mercy upon him’.


The Book Of Sulaym Bin Qays Al-Hilali, Part 6, Hadith 43, Pages 20-25
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