Self‑purification; the Main Goal of THE Messengers

Self‑purification; the Main Goal of THE Messengers

 

The greatest aim of Divine Messengers was to emphasize the importance of refinement, purification and training of human selves. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:

لَقَدْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ يَتْلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمْ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ.

Allah verily hath shown grace to the believers by sending unto them a messenger of their own who reciteth unto them His revelations, and causeth them to grow, and teacheth them the Scripture and wisdom; although before (he came to them) they were in flagrant error. 3:164

Therefore, it is obvious that the subject of human education and training was of such vital importance that Almighty God sent Divine Messengers especially for this purpose thus, conferring a great favor upon the believers. The individual as well as collective personality, prosperity or cruelty (of this world and the Hereafter) of a human being depends upon how much efforts he had already made or is still making for self‑building. It is from this consideration that self‑building is regarded something of such vital importance because it determines one’s eventual destiny.

The Divine Messengers came to teach human beings regarding the path of self‑building, nourishment and perfection of self, as well as to accompany them as their guide and helper in this vital and determinant task.

They came for cleansing and sanctifying human selves from their indecent moral characteristics and animal instincts, and bestowing upon them superior spiritual virtues. The prophets lectured human beings about the self‑building program, acted as helpers and knowledgeable guides in identifying the ugliness in their moral conducts, and showed them the ways and means for self‑control against their selfish whims and passions. By timely issuance of warning and intimidating, they succeeded in sanctifying the human selves from the moral obscenities and indecencies. They came for plantation or sapling of higher moral virtues within human souls, nurtured and protected it for its eventual blooming, and in doing so acted as guides, friends and helpers of the people by encouraging and pursuing them towards the desired sublime objectives. The Holy Prophet (a.s) has said:

I emphasize the importance of good morals for you because Almighty God has sent me especially for this purpose.[11]

He further said:

إنمّا بُعِثْتُ لأُتَمِّمَ مَكارمَ الأخْلاقِ.

I was appointed for the Prophethood so that I may accomplish the important task of moral perfection within human souls.[12]

Imam al‑Sadiq[13] (a.s) said:

إنّ اللهَ تَباركَ وَتعالى خَصَّ الأنبِياءَ بِمَكارِمِ الأخْلاقِ؛ فَمَنْ كانَت فِيه فَليَحْمِدِ اللهَ عَلى ذلكَ، ومَن لَم يَكُنْ فَليَتَضَرَّعْ إلى اللهِ وَلْيَسَلْهُ.

Almighty God appointed the Prophets with good morals; therefore, whoever discovers these within himself should be thankful to God for this bounty; and whoever lacks these virtues must pray to Almighty God asking imploringly for such blessing.[14]

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali[15] (a.s) said:

لَو كُنّا لا نَرجو جَنَّةً وَلا نخْشى ناراً ولا ثواباً ولا عِقاباً لَكانَ يَنبَغي لنا أنْ نَطلبَ مَكارِمَ الأخلاقِ؛ فإنَّها ممّا تدُلُّ عَلى سَبيلِ النّجاحِ.

Supposedly, if neither there was any desire for Paradise nor there was any fear of Hell, and also there would have not been any belief about the reward and punishment in the Next World; even then it would have been befitting to strive for moral perfection, because good morals are the path towards prosperity and victory.[16]

Imam al‑Baqir[17] (a.s) said:

إنّ أكْمَلَ المُؤمنينَ إيماناً أحسَنُهُم أخلاقاً.

The most perfect believers from the point of view of faith are the ones who excel in moral conduct.[18]

The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:

ما يُوضَعُ في ميزانِ امْرِئٍ يومَ القيامَةِ شيءٌ أفضَلُ مِن حُسنِ الخُلُق.

There is nothing better than good moral conduct which could be written on the “Letter of Deeds,” on the Day of Resurrection.[19]

أكْثرُ ما تلِجُ به أُمّتي الجنَّةَ تَقوى اللهِ وحُسنُ الخُلُق.

My Ummah will enter into Paradise mostly on the basis of piety and excellence in moral conduct.[20]

Listen to the following narration:

A man approached the Holy Prophet (a.s) and asked, “What is religion?” The Holy Prophet (a.s) replied, “Good moral conduct.” The man asked the same questions from the Holy Prophet (a.s) alternatively by appearing from right, left and behind the Messenger. Finally the Holy Prophet (a.s) took a deep look at him and said, “Why do you not understand?’ Religion is defined as never to get angry.”[21]

Islam has attached special importance for moral ethics, and because of these considerations, the Holy Qur’an contains relatively more verses regarding ethics as compared verses related to obligations. Inside the books of narrations, one may find thousands of narrations regarding ethics as compared to narrations dealing with other topics; if this number is not regarded greater in quantity, certainly it is not smaller either. The rewards and promises mentioned for good moral deeds are certainly not less than the rewards prescribed for other actions, and likewise the winnings and punishments described for indecent moral actions are certainly not less than the punishments for other actions.

Therefore, in Islam, ethics constitutes the basics and should not be treated simply as secondary religious obligations or something related to the beautification and decoration of religious persons. If religion has defined dos and don’ts for obligations, it has defined the same for ethics. If encouragement, persuasion, rewards, punishment and warnings have been utilized for obligations, the same approach has been applied for ethics as well. Therefore, there exists no difference between ethics and obligations as religious recommendations are concerned, and in order to achieve perfection and prosperity one can not remain ignorant of ethical matters.

The moral obligations cannot be ignored by taking the excuse of treating them simply as moral obligations, likewise forbidden moral acts should not be performed either. If performance of daily prayers is compulsory and their negligence is prohibited and brings Divine Punishment, equally important is the fulfillment of a promise and its breach is prohibited and brings Divine Wrath. The real religious and prosperous is one who is committed to his religious obligations as well as is honest in fulfillment of his moral commitments. On the contrary, ethics play an important role for achieving prosperity and spiritual perfection which will be explained in the book later on.


Self‑awareness and Self‑building

Although a human being is not more than a single reality, he is the possessor of different dimensions within his single existence—the existence which starts from the insignificant dusty material lacking any sort of sense and feelings and ultimately terminates into a precious celestial jewel. Almighty God has said in the Holy Qur’an:

الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ وَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنسَانِ مِنْ طِينٍ. ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهُ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ مَهِينٍ. ثُمَّ سَوَّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِهِ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ قَلِيلًا مَا تَشْكُرُونَ .

 

(It is He) Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay. Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid. Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye. 32:7-9.

A human being is the possessor of various facts and parameters within his existence. From one aspect he is the possessor of physical body and a name, while from another aspect he is possessor of animal instincts as well. Eventually overall, he is a human being possessing superior human virtues which are not found in other animals.

Therefore, human being is a single reality—a reality which possesses various dimensions and facts within his single existence. When it is said: “My weight and my face,” it is indicative of his body and name; when it is said: “My food and my health,” it is also related to his body; when it is said: “movement, anger and sexual passion,” it indicates his animal self; and lastly when it is said; “my wisdom, my thinking and my thoughts,” it indicates to his superior human virtues. Therefore, a human being possesses different kinds of selves, namely; self related to his physical body, self related to his animal instincts and the human self, but the most valuable and precious self is his human self. What had made human beings the “vicegerents of God” upon earth and has distinguished them over other creatures is nothing but the single heavenly Spirit blown into their existence by Almighty God, and is called Human Soul.

God, the All-wise, has explained the creation of human being in the Holy Qur’an as follows:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ طِينٍ. ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَكِينٍ. ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ .

 

Verily We created man from a product of wet earth. Then placed him as a drop (of seed) in a safe lodging. Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. 23:12-14.

It is about the creation of human being that Almighty God has said:

فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ .

So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.

It was because of this Heavenly Spirit that human being reaches to an exalted position that Almighty God orders the angels as follows:

فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ.

So, when I have made him and have breathed into him of My Spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him. 15:29.

Human beings have been bestowed distinction over other creatures and Almighty God said about them as follows:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنْ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا.

Verily we have honoured the Children of Adam. We carry them on the land and the sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and have preferred them above many of those whom We created with a marked preferment. 17:70.

Therefore, if a human being should strive for self‑building, he must build his human self and not his animal or physical self. The aims of the prophets had been to strengthen the human beings in their endeavors for perfecting their human selves. The Prophets said to the human‑beings: “Do not forget that your self is your human self; in case you sacrificed your human self for the sake of whims and passions of your animal self, you will inflict upon yourself a terrible loss.

Almighty God has said in the Holy Qur’an:

قُلْ إِنَّ الْخَاسِرِينَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَأَهْلِيهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَلَا ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ.

Say: The losers will be those who lose themselves and their housefolk on the Day of Resurrection. Ah, that will be the manifest loss. 39:15

Those who never think about anything except their animal existence have indeed lost their human personality and are not striving for their recovery either. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) has said:

عَجِبتُ لِمَنْ يَنشِدُ ضالَّتَهُ وقَد أضَلَّ نفسَهُ فلا يَطلبُها.

It is indeed strange to see one so desperately looking for lost personal things, while making absolutely no efforts to find his lost (human) self![22]

There cannot be more severe and painful loss than one’s loosing his human personality and real self; for such a person nothing is left except animalism.


Human soul and Animal self

The verses of the Holy Qur’an and narrations about human self could be divided into two categories. Some of the verses define human self as a precious valuable jewel possessing Heavenly excellence descended from Heaven, which is the source of all superior characteristics and human virtues. These verses recommend that human beings must strive for achieving self‑refinement and self‑perfection through training, and must be careful for its protection, never to loose such a precious Heavenly gift. For example, Almighty God in the Holy Qur’an defines this precious jewel as fol­lows:

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنْ الرُّوحِ قُلْ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنْ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا.

They are asking thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little. 17:85.

In the above verse, the spirit has been defined as an existence belonging to the celestial world which is superior than the material world.

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) about the self said:

إنّ النّفسَ لَجَوهَرةٌ ثَمينَةٌ؛ مَن صانَها رَفَعها وَمَن ابتَذَلَها وَضَعها.

One’s self is like a precious jewel, whoever strives for his protection, it will help him attaining exalted positions, and whoever acts negligently in his protection, it shall pull him towards humiliation.[23]

مَن عَرفَ نَفْسَهُ لمَ يُهِنْها بالفانِياتِ.

One who knows the worth of his self will never allow himself to be indulging into passing worldly amusements and shameful deeds.[24]

مَن عَرفَ شَرَفَ مَعناهُ صانَهُ عَن دَناثَةِ شَهْوتِهِ وَزورِ مُناهُ.

Whoever discovers the nobility of his self shall guard himself against lowness of passions and false desires.[25]

مَنْ شَرُفَتْ نَفسُه كَثُرتْ عَواطِفُه.

Whoewr possesses the nobility of self will have more compas­sion.[26]

مَن شَرُفَت نَفسُهُ نَزَّهَها عَن ذِلَّةِ المَطالبِ.

Whoever possesses the nobility of self will become free from wants.[27]

From the above quoted verses and narrations whose examples are frequent, it can be derived that human self is a valuable and precious jewel which should be carefully guarded, protected and nourished.

The second category of verses and narrations defines the self as something wicked and dangerous enemy responsible for all sorts of evils against whom we are supposed to wage a great struggle (Jihad Akbar) until it becomes completely submissive; otherwise it will inflict terrible misfortunes and cruelty upon the defeated person. Following are some examples:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنْ الْهَوَى. فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَى.

But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust.  Lo! the Garden will be his home. 79:40-41.

The Holy Qur’an quotes from Prophet Joseph (a.s):

وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ.

I do not exculpate myself. Lo! the (human) soul enjoineth unto evil, save that whereon my Lord hath mercy. Lo! my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful. 12:53.

The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:

أعْدى عَدُوِّكَ نَفْسُكَ الّتي بَينَ جَنْبَيْكَ.

Your greatest enemy is your sef which is located between your two sides.[28]

Imam `Ali (a.s) said:

إنّ النّفسَ لأمّارَةٌ بِالسّوءِ؛ فَمَن ائْتَمَنها خانَتْه، وَمَن استَنامَ إلَيها أهْلَكَتْهُ، وَمَن رَضيَ عَنها أوْرَدَتْه شَرَّ المَوارِدِ.

Self commands you continuously to indulge into evil deeds; therefore, whoever trusted his self will have it deceived him, whoever believed it will have it destroyed him; and whoever is satisfied with it will have it led him to face the worst kinds of disasters.[29]

He further said:

الثِّقَةُ بِالنّفسِ مِن أوثَقِ فرَصِ الشَّيطانِ.

Trusting one’s self provides the most dependable opportunities for the devil’s entrance.[30]

Imam al‑Sajjad[31] (a.s) said:

إلهٰي؛ إلَيكَ أشْكو نَفساً أمّارَةً بِالسُّوءِ وإلى الخَطايا مُبادِرَةً، وَبِمعاصِيكَ مُولَعَةً، وَلِسَخَطكَ مُتَعرّضَةً، تَسلُكُ بي مَسالكَ المَهالِكِ.

Oh God! I do complain to you against the self which continuously commands to indulge into sinful acts; hastes towards sins; stands up against acts of disobedience to You; is exposed to Your wrath; and pulls me towards the path of absolute destruction.[32]

From the above quoted verses and narrations whose examples are frequent, it can be derived that human self constitutes an evil existence which is the source of all sorts of sins and therefore, should be made submissive through efforts and waging greater struggle (Jihad Akbar). It is thus quite possible that one may consider that these two categories of verses and narrations are incompatible and contradict each other; or one may imagine that a human being possesses two selves, namely: human­ self which is the source of all goodness and blessing, and the other, animal self, which is the source of evils and sinfulness.

Both of the above mentioned interpretations are incorrect because firstly there exists no conflict between the above mentioned verses and narrations of two categories; secondly, the sciences had already proved that a human being is no more than a single reality possessing a single self and it is not such that his animalism and humanism are separate from each other.

But human self comprises of two stages and two dimensions of single existence. At lower the stage, self is an animal possessing all ani­malistic characteristic, while at higher stage, the self is a human possess­ing Divine spirit descended from the Celestial Heavenly Kingdom. When it is said: Self is noble, precious, source of all virtues and blessings; one must endeavor for his nourishment and perfection;  here the higher stage of self has been indicated.

But when it is said: Self is your greatest enemy; don’t trust him because he will lead you to eventual destruction, control and make him submissive through greater struggle; here his animal and lower stage have been pointed out. If it is said: Nourish and strengthen your self; here the human dimension of the self is meant. When it is said: Wage greater struggle for his total submission; here the animal dimension of the self is meant.

There exists a continuous confrontation between these two selves or two stages of human existence. The animal self continuously strives to dominate by keeping human being amused with whims, passions and lower animal desires, thus, closing the path of advancement perfection, exaltation and movement towards Almighty God and making a human being captive of his animal self. While on the contrary his human self or the higher stage of his existence continuously strives for attaining the higher sublime spiritual stations of human perfection leading towards God’s Countenance, and in order to accomplish his cherished goal, tries to control, and forces the animal self for his absolute submission. This internal struggle, within the human existence continues until one of the combatant becomes victori­ous defeating his opponent.

If the human or celestial self gets upperhand, the human values become alive, thus, leading human being towards the road of spiritual ex­cellence and perfection ultimately achieving the highest position of God’s Countenance. But, on the contrary, if the animal self becomes victorious, he turns off the light of wisdom, thus, throwing the human being into the deepest valley of darkness, confusion and deviation. It was because of this internal confrontation within human existence that the Divine Prophets came to help, guide and support the human beings in their holy struggle which ultimately determines their destiny.

 


Human Virtues

A human being possesses two types of selves: the human self and the animal self, but the value of a human being is related to his human self and has nothing to do with his animal self. The animal self may be re­garded some sort of parasitic existence, or like an uninvited guest, and in reality is the unconucious self. Although, a human being is an animal and is obliged to fulfill his animalistic requirements, but he has not been created to live in this world like an animal, instead he has been created with the aims and objectives of utilizing and commissioning his animal existence for perfecting his human existence.

A human being has some genuine requirements incorporated within his inner existence for the sake of his animal as well as human existence. Since he is an animal that requires food, water, clothing and shelter, in order to motivate him for making serious endeavors for their search, feelings of thirst and hunger have been incorporated within his existence. Similarly, for the sake of the continuation of human race, sexual desires and love for female partner have been incorporated within his nature.

Since men like to live and in order to sustain his life, he has no other choice except to take care of means of living required for his animal existence. When he sees food, he feels hungry and desires to eat and there­fore, he tells himself, “I must arrange food for my own consumption and whatever obstacles are encountered in this path, I must try to remove them. Of course, these feelings are not bad because of sustenance of life one must work, eat and drink. In Islam, not only this has not been forbidden; on the contrary it has been recommended and encouraged. But parallel to that it must be clearly understood that the animal life is a preliminary and not the desired goal. Or in other words, the animal life is not the main guest rather one accompanying him.

Therefore, if one assigns authenticity to animal existence, strives and endeavors seriously day and night to fulfill his animal lower desires and passions; considers the aims of life simply eating, drinking, sleeping and reproducing, he has indeed fallen into intense darkness of deviation and wanderness because he has removed the human wisdom and Heavenly spirit from the position of power and has confined them into a forgotten place. Such an individual does not deserve to be called a human being; rather he is an animal with a human face. He possesses wisdom but by his perverted deeds has become so isolated that he can no longer recognize and follow the superior human virtues and characteristics. In spite of having eyes, he is unable to see the realities; in spite of possessing ears, he cannot hear the facts. The Holy Qur’an considers such an individual as an animal and even worse and more deviated than animals because animals lack wisdom and do not understand, while the such a person, in spite of having wisdom, does not understand.

The Holy Qur’ari describes such individuals, as follows:

فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّمَا يَتَّبِعُونَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنْ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِنْ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ.

And if they answer thee not, then know that what they follow is their lusts. And who goeth farther astray than he who followeth his lust without guidance from Allah. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. 28:50.

And further said:

وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِنْ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا أُوْلَئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْغَافِلُونَ.

Already have We urged unto hell many of the jinn and humankind, having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle - nay, but they are worse! These are the neglectful. 7:179.

The Holy Qur’an further defines these creatures as follows:

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنْ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَى بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَنْ يَهْدِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ.

Hast thou seen him who maketh his desire his god, and Allah sendeth him astray purposely, and sealeth up his hearing and his heart, and setteth on his sight a covering? Then who will lead him after Allah (hath condemned him)? Will ye not then heed? 45:23.

How unfortunate and loosers those who have sacrificed their heavenly self, prosperity and human perfection for sake of passions and desires of their animal existence are! They have exchanged their human self with their animalistic pleasures.[33]

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:

Whoever becomes involved into world’s allurements, thus giving up his gains from his immortal life in the Next World, has indeed been cheated.[34]

أكْرِمْ نفسَكَ عَن كُلّ دَنِيّةٍ وإنْ ساقَتْكَ إلى الرّغائِبِ، فإنّكَ لَن تَعتاضَ بِما تَبذُلُ مِن نفْسِكَ عِوَضاً، ولا تَكُنْ عَبدَ غَيرِكَ وقَد جَعلَكَ اللهُ حُرّاً، ومَا خَيرٌ خَيرٌ لا يُنالُ إلاّ بِشَرٍّ وَيُسرٌ لا يُنالُ إلاّ بِعُسرٍ.

Restrain your self from indulgence into lower shameful deeds no matter how attractive or appealing they might appear; because in this exchange or trade you do not receive the genuine value of your self. Do not allow yourself to be the slave of others because God has created you as free. The goodness which cannot be obtained except through evil is not goodness. Also a thing that is not acquired except with serious efforts would not be easy to be retained.[35]

لَبِئسَ المتجرُ أنْ تَرى الدُّنيا لنَفسِك ثَمناً وَمِمّا لَكَ عِند الله عِوَضاً.

What a bad trade it is that one exchanges his self for this world instead of trading it with whatever is available with Almighty God (in the Next World).[36]

But, a human being cannot be summarized only into animal self, because he also possesses a human self, and on account of this merit he is an abstract and Celestial Essence arrived from the Heavenly Kingdom, cherishing values other than animalistic desires. If a human being ponders deeply over his inner existence and really recognizes himself, he will discover that he has arrived from the kingdom of power, wonder, knowledge, blessing, benevolence, illumination, goodness, justice and in one sentence from the kingdom of absolute perfection, and is originated and belonged to it.

It is here that a human being discovers another prospective and looks beyond the limit boundaries of created world towards the supreme source of absolute perfection and feels attracted towards his higher values. Hence, being committed for aspiration of those cherished values; accordingly he changes the movement of his self from the animalistic course towards the exalted path of perfection, which ultimately leads him towards the highest spiritual station of God’s Nearness.

When this internal revolution within him occurs, the importance of higher and moral ethical values becomes explicit. Therefore, if a human being desires values such as knowledge, favor, welfare, sacrifice, justice, benevolence, defense of deprived and destitute, truth, goodness and honesty, it is because he considers him belonging to the World of Absolute Perfection and regards such virtues worthy of his exalted human position. It is because of these feelings that he admires them to the extent that he is ready to sacrifice his animal self and its desires for the sake of those cherished higher virtues.

Good morals, etiquette and ethics are defined as a series of spiritual and meaningful perfection, whose proportion for his own spiritual perfection need is clearly understood by the human celestial soul. The soul admits to himself, “I must do these things.”

The ethical musts are derived from the degree of perfection and nobleness within the self and are utilized for achieving exaltation of essence and spiritual perfection. When he says, “I must offer sacrifice on this righteous path,” because he understands that sacrifice is useful for achieving the perfection and exaltation of essence, and therefore, desires to do that. As the path and means of spiritual perfection are concerned, they are the same for all human beings. Similarly, all of them have been created identical as for their sense for recognition of values and anti-values is concerned.

If a human being ponders deep over his own perfection seeker pure nature, away from the whims and passions of self, he might discover the moral and ethical virtues as well as the moral vices. All human beings of all times were created such by Almighty God. And if some of them become deprived of this sacred sense of identification, it was because their whim, passions and intense animalistic desires, silenced the light of their wisdom, leaving them like a sole rider in the fields of self‑struggle.

The Holy Qur’an about the recognition of virtues and vices by the pure human nature writes as follows:

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا. فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا. قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا. وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسَّاهَا .

And a soul and Him Who perfected it; And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it; He is indeed successful who causeth it to grow; And he is indeed a failure who stunteth it. 91:7-9.

The Prophets came with the intention of awakening human nature and to change their unconscious self into conscious; they came to help, support and guide human beings in recognizing and paying attention to higher moral values, and utilizing them for attaining God’s Nearness; they came to remind human beings about their exalted human position and need for safeguarding and motivating the superior human virtues; they came to emphasize the important point that, “You are not animals but, instead, are humans and possess the potential of being superior than the angels. World affairs and animalistic manifestations are far below before your exalted celestial dignity and therefore, you should not sell yourself for them.”

Imam al‑Sajjad was asked, “Who is the most exalted and most noble person?” He answered:

مَنْ لَم يَرَ الدّنيا خَطَراً لِنَفسِهِ.

“He is the one who does not regard the world worthy of greatness of his self.”[37]

If man really identifies his true human personality and if his human self indeed gets upperhand, then good morals and ethics will become alive and dominate over the moral view and rascalities. And when it occurs, a man is no longer permitted to ignore human values and follow vices. For example, ignore truth and speak lies, disregard honesty and practice treachery, do not care about the honor of self and indulge into sinful deeds; and ignore favor and practice human persecution… etc.

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:

مَن كَرُمَتْ عَليهِ نَفسُه هانَتْ عَليهِ شَهَواتُه.

Whoever considers his self honorable will regard selfish passions low and mean.[38]

The Prophets continuously strived for awakening the upright human nature so that they could learn about their essence of existence and could discover their dependence and link with Almighty God; thus, spending everything in their possession for attaining the position of nearness and pleasure of the Lord of the worlds, to the extent that their eating, drinking, sleeping, seeing, speaking, working, living and dying become sacred and ethical. Truly, when men become God’s servants and do not cherish for any other goal except His pleasure, everything become ethics, worship and virtue.

The Holy Qur’an has said:

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَاي وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.

Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the Worlds. 6:162.

Therefore, because of the above mentioned reasons, recognition of self in Islam has been assigned a special importance. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) has said:

مَعرِفَةُ النّفسِ أنفَعُ المَعارفِ.

Self‑consciousness is the most profitable assets of a person.[39]

مَن عَرفَ نَفْسَهُ جَلَّ أمْرُهُ.

Whoever succeeds in recognizing his self will have his affairs improved.[40]

What is meant by self-recognition is not the particulars of one’s identity card rather it means one’s realization of his true position within the world; an understanding that he is not simply an earthly animal rather is a reflection of heavenly illumination from the Celestial Kingdom; is the Trustee and Vicegerent of Almighty God upon earth. A celestial being that has been created conscious, empowered and free is capable of upward ascent towards the absolute perfection, and his special creation has been assigned the responsibility of nourishment and perfection of the self. It is because of this realization that man feels a sense of greatness and perfection; discovers the sacredness and virtues within his inner existence and morals and ethics become valuable and meaningful for him. In that case, he gets relieved from the feelings of hopelessness, depressions, vainness, nonsense and aimless repetitions and, instead, life becomes sacred, precious, beautiful and objective.


Esoteric Life

Man in this world has an outwardly life related to his body. He eats, drinks, sleeps, moves and walks but at the same time possesses a spiritual life in his inner essence. While he lives in this world, at the same time within his inner essence either journeys towards prosperity, perfection and enlightenment or moves towards adversity, cruelty and intense darkness; either journeys on the righteous path of humanity and ascends towards God or deviates from the righteous path heading towards the darkest valleys where he wanders in darkness becoming eventually lower than animals; either marches up on the steps of perfection towards enlightenment, joy, perfection and God’s Countenance or fails into intense darkness for eternal punishment. Although majority of people are ignorant of this reality, it does exist.

Almighty God has said in the Holy Qur’an:

يَعْلَمُونَ ظَاهِرًا مِنْ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ عَنِ الْآخِرَةِ هُمْ غَافِلُونَ.

They know only some appearance of the life of the world, and are heedless of the Hereafter. 30:7.

But being knowledgeable or ignorant does not change the reality on the Day of Resurrection when the dark curtain of materialism are rolled up from the human eyes enabling him to witness the reality and his own state of affairs.

Almighty God has said in the Holy Qur’an:

لَقَدْ كُنْتَ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مِنْ هَذَا فَكَشَفْنَا عَنْكَ غِطَاءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ

 

(And unto the evil-doer it is said): Thou wast in heedlessness of this. Now We have removed from thee thy covering, and piercing is thy sight this day. 50:22.

Therefore, from the above quoted verses it may be inferred that affairs related to the Next World all along did exist within human inner essence right here in this world, but unfortunately man was ignorant to realize it. However, since in the Next World all the materialistic curtains of ignorance shall he removed from his sight, he will be forced to see these realities clearly over there. We may therefore, conclude from the above mentioned verses and traditions that the human self earns things while living in this world, and these earning shall remain with him eventually determining his ultimate destiny in his eternal abode. Following are some examples:

Almighty God has said in the Holy Qur’an

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ.

Every soul is a pledge for its own deeds. 74:28.

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا تُرْجَعُونَ فِيهِ إِلَى اللَّهِ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ.

And guard yourselves against a day in which ye will be brought back to Allah. Then every soul will be paid in full that which it hath earned, and they will not be wronged. 2:281.

لَا يُؤَاخِذُكُمْ اللَّهُ بِاللَّغْوِ فِي أَيْمَانِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يُؤَاخِذُكُمْ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ.

Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths. But He will take you to task for that which your hearts have garnered. Allah is Forgiving, Clement. 2:225.

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ.

Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope. For it (is only) that which it hath earned, and against it (only) that which it hath deserved.  2:286.

يَوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِيدًا وَيُحَذِّرُكُمْ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ.

On the Day when every soul will find itself confronted with all that it hath done of good and all that it hath done of evil (every soul) will long that there might be a mighty space of distance between it and that (evil). Allah biddeth you beware of Him. And Allah is Full of Pity for (His) bondmen. 3:30.

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فَعَلَيْهَا وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ.

Whoso doeth right it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong it is against it. And thy Lord is not at all a tyrant to His slaves. 45:15.

فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَه. وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَه.

And whoso doeth good an atom's weight will see it then; And whoso doeth ill an atom's weight will see it then. 99:7-8.

وَأَنْ لَيْسَ لِلْإِنسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَى. وَأَنَّ سَعْيَهُ سَوْفَ يُرَى.

And that man hath only that for which he maketh effort; And that his effort will be seen. 53:39-40.

وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنفُسِكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ.

And whatever of good ye send before (you) for your souls, ye will find it with Allah. Lo! Allah is Seer of what ye do. 2:110.

يَوْمَ لَا يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ. إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ .

The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man); Save him who bringeth unto Allah a whole heart. 26:88-89.

The Holy Prophet (a.s) said to one of his companions:

وإنّه لا بُدّ لكَ، يا قَيسُ، مِن قَرينٍ يُدفَنُ مَعَكَ وهُوَ حَيٌّ وتُدفَنُ مَعَه وأنتَ مَيّتٌ، فَإنْ كانَ كرِيماً أكرَمَكَ، وإنْ كانَ لَئيماً أسْلَمَك، ثُمَّ لا يُحْشَرُ إلاّ معَكَ وَلا تُبعَثُ إلاّ معهُ، ولا تُسْئَلُ إلاّ عَنهُ، فلا تَجْعلْهُ إلاّ صالِحاً فإنَّهُ إنْ صَلُحَ آنَسْتَ بهِ، وإنْ فَسدَ لا تَستَوحِشُ إلاّ مِنهُ، وهُوَ فِعْلُكَ!

Oh Qais! You will have no other choice except to live with a companion in your grave. He is alive and you will be buried with him. If he is good and honorable, he will make you honorable, and if he is low and mean, you will become low and mean as well. After that on that on the Day of Resurrection you will be associated with him and will be reprimanded. Therefore; be careful and try to select a righteous companion for yourself, because if he is righteous, you will develop affection for him. If he is corrupt, be assured that all the fear and punishment inflicted upon you will be through his existence. That companion is nothing but your actions and deeds in this life.[41]

A human being in this same world is continuously occupied in nourishing his self as well as accumulating the provisions of his life in the Next World. Through his belief and thoughts, habits and virtues, love and liking, interests and desires and by means of actions which affects his self, he gradually nourishes, trains and builds himself. His ultimate outcome is all related to the above mentioned factors, learning and righteous belief, ethics and good morals, love and association with God‑Ahnighty, obedience and seeking God’s Pleasure, and performance of righteous deeds in accordance with Divine Commands… etc., are things which are responsible for the ascension of human Celestial Soul towards the stages of perfection, ultimately achieving the highest spiritual station of God’s Nearness. A human by means of faith and performance of righteous deeds in this very world discovers a new life and purity which would be manifested in the Next World.

Almighty God has said in the Holy Qur’an:

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ .

Whosoever doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do. 16:97.

Man in this world in addition to utilizing material blessings for his bodily pleasures could also utilize spiritual blessings for the growth, training and perfection of his soul and inner self, thus, building his Next World’s life in such a manner that the desired result would be manifested in the Hereafter.

Imam al‑ Sadiq (a.s) has said:

قالَ اللهُ تَعالى: يا عِبادِيَ الصّدّيقونَ؛ تَنَعَّموا بِعِبادَتي في الدُّنيا فإنَّكُم تَنْعَمونَ بها في الآخِرَةِ.

Almighty God says to his servants: Oh My righteous servants! Utilize My worship’s blessing in this world so that you could be benefited by them in the Next World as well.[42]

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:

مُداوَمَةُ الذِّكْرِ قوتُ الرُّوحِ.

Continuation of invocation (dhikr) is the nourishment of human souls.[43]

عَلَيْكَ بِذِكْرِ اللهِ، فَإنَّهُ نورُ القَلبِ.

Do not forget invocation (dhikr) of Almighty God because it is the illumination of hearts.[44]

Paradise and its blessings or Hell and its punishments for a human being are decided in this same world through his beliefs, morals and deeds, even though he might be ignorant of them; but in the Next World when the materialistic curtains are rolled up, this reality will be manifested.

Imam al‑Sajjad (a.s) in a narration speaks as follows:

وَاعلَموا أنَّهُ مَن خالَفَ أوْلِياءَ اللهِ، وَدانَ بغَيرِ دينِ اللهِ، واسْتَبَدَّ بِأمْرِه دونَ أمْرِ وَليٍّ في نارٍ تَلْتَهِبُ، تأكُلُ أبْداناً قَد غابَتْ عَنها أرواحُها وَغَلبَتْ عَليها شِقْوتُها، فَهُمْ مَوتى لا يَجِدونَ حَرَّ النّارِ، فَاعْتَبروا يا أُولي الأبْصارِ، وَاحمَدوا اللهَ على ما هَداكُم.

Be aware! That whoever bears enmity with the saints; accepts religion other than God’s religion; disregards Divine Obligations by following his own whims and passions is indeed engulfed with eternal flames which consumes human bodies—the bodies who have given up their spirituality through domination of cruelty over their inner existence. Alas! They are like dead bodies who do not feel the heat of the fire. Had they been alive, they would have felt the pain and torture of burning their bodies. Therefore, oh people of insight! Learn a lesson and be thankful to the Lord of the worlds who has bestowed upon you the blessing of His Guidance.[45]

Almighty God has said in the Holy Qur’an:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَى ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا.

Lo! Those who devour the wealth of orphans wrongfully, they do but swallow fire into their bellies, and they will be exposed to burning flame.

A human being in this world either accumulates enlightenment and insight or cruelty and darkness for the Next World. If he remained blind and without enlightenment in this world, tomorrow he will be raised up in the Next World with the same condition.

The Holy Qur’an has said:

وَمَنْ كَانَ فِي هَذِهِ أَعْمَى فَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ أَعْمَى وَأَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا.

Whoso is blind here will be blind in the Hereafter, and yet further from the road. 17:72.

The most eminent scholar, `Allamah ±aba§aba’i, had stated the following interesting story:

Once upon a time, there used to live a pious ascetic and saintly personality known as Shaykh Abboud in Najaf. He was a committed wayfarer upon the road of Gnosticism, continuously worshipping and reciting invocation (dhikr). Sometimes, he would visit the grave yard located in the Wadi’l-Salam, spending long hours walking, sitting, pondering and looking carefully at the old and new graves. One day, while returning from such routine visits, he was encountered by a group of curious people who after offering salutations asked him, “Shaykh Abboud! What is new of Wadi’l-Salam?” “There is nothing new,” replied Shaykh Abboud. “But the group insisted to hear some news from the Wadi’l-Salam. Then Shaykh Abboud said, “I encountered the strangest thing over there; in spite of careful looking through the new and old graves, I could not discover any traces of snakes, scorpions and the food stuff consumed by them. I there­fore asked one of the graves, ‘In narrations, it has been described that human beings inside the graves are tortured by the snakes, scorpions and other noxious creatures, but I do not see these creatures within these graves.’ The grave replied, ‘Yes! It is true that snakes and scorpions do not exist among us; instead, you are the one who brings them with you from the world for your own fortune.’

The internal and spiritual life of a human being is an actual and real life; a human being in his essence travels a real path which either leads him towards prosperity and perfection or terminates into cruelty and total annihilation. For continuation of this action, he receives help and strength from his beliefs, morals and deeds.

Almighty God in the Holy Qur’an has said:

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ.

Whoso desireth power (should know that) all power belongeth to Allah. Unto Him good words ascend, and the pious deed doth He exalt. 35:10.

The ultimate status of human self is the outcome of his efforts and endeavors which depends upon his beliefs, morals, characteristics, liking and deeds; the final result of which, whether good or bad, will be declared in the Next World.


What to Be?

Scientific facts have confirmed that the human spirit consists of a physical occurrence and a spiritual eternal dimension; that is, the Celestial Spirit is the same earlier physical form, which after passing gradually through various stages of perfection has now reached to the level of human soul meaning potential human being. This movement towards perfection never stops rather continues until the end of human life. At the beginning, he is a celestial abstract superior than the matter, but at the same time he is not a full or complete abstract because for his existence he is related to a physical body.

The soul consists of two dimensional existences—the material dimension, which is related to body and performs material acts, and because of this consideration the stages of movements towards perfection have been attached to it; and the other dimension is an abstract superior than the matter capable of performing immaterial acts. One side of his existence is physical and animalistic while the other side is human and celestial. While he is not more than a single being that possesses animal passions and desires and accordingly performs animalistic acts, but at the same times possesses human desires and virtues and performs human obligations.

It was because of this wonderful creation that Almighty God in the Holy Qur’an has said:

فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ.

So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. 23:14.

This wonderful creation at the very beginning is not complete, rather he nourishes himself gradually towards his ultimate perfection. Beliefs, thoughts, virtues and desires derived from his actions and deeds build his real identity and thus gradually complete his perfection. Virtues and characteristics are not the sort of things which could be added to his existence from outside accidentally; rather they are the real builders of his being’s identity from within.

Here, it is interesting to note that beliefs, thoughts and characteristics not only exert influence upon human existence but are also effective in his deciding what to come. That is, righteous beliefs and thinking together with good morals and virtues as a result of righteous actions gradually elevate a human being towards the path of perfection ultimately to become a perfect human being and thus attaining God’s Nearness.

Similarly, ignorance, false ideologies, immoral deeds and hardheartedness as a result of evil deeds pull human soul towards weakness and isolation leading him towards various animalistic stages to eventually throw him inside the deep valleys of intense darkness. Because of his firmness, influence of animalistic characteristics, accumulation of ignorances and cruelties, he turns into an animal in his esoteric essence.

Yes, his essence indeed turns into an animal acquiring an animalistic personality. He does no longer keep his humanity; rather he turns into an animal or even worse because he is an animal who has acquired his animalism after passing through the superior stage of humanism. Although, outwardly he lives a human life, he has in essence turned into an animal without being aware of this internal change. The animalism of animals is not due to their special faces or features; rather it is because of their animalistic selves and absolute obedience to their animalistic instincts and desires without any limitations and considerations.

A wolf is regarded as wolf not because of its apparent wolfy face; but because of its brutal nature and absolute obedience to this instinct without any limitations. Therefore, if one is completely subdued by animal brutality in a manner that his senses of seeing and thinking become out of order, he has in essence turned into a real wolf—a wolf far brutal as compared to common wild wolves because his faculties of wisdom and thinking are being employed and are at the service of his brutal animalistic characteristics. This is why there are situations where human beings are charged with brutal crimes for which a wild wolf is not charged. Are such human beings not wolves? Not, at all! They are indeed wolves even though they do not understand and the others regard them as humans. But, on the Day of Resurrection, when the curtains shall be rolled up, their inner essence will be exposed. Obviously, Paradise is not a place for wolves because they can not become companions for saints and righteous servants of God. Such a wolf that has been demoted to lower animal status from the superior human status deserves to be confined, punished and tortured inside the dark and horrible environment of Hell.

Therefore, a human being in this world is an undetermined being who builds his future personality. Either he becomes a human surpassing in excellence even with the Archangels, or descending whereby his inner essence turns into an animal. This fact has been proven through scientific learning as well as confirmed and certified by the Prophets. Also, the Holy Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Imams (a.s) of his Holy Progeny (Ahl al-Bayt) have informed about that.

The Holy Prophet (a.s) had said:

يُحشَرُ بَعضُ النّاسِ عَلى صورٍ يَحسُنُ عِندها القِرَدةُ وَالخَنازِيرُ.

On the Day of Resurrection, some people will reappear in faces uglier than even those of monkeys and pigs![46]

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s), about the corrupt scholar, has said:

فَالصّورَةُ صورَةُ إنسانٍ وَالقَلبُ قَلبُ حَيَوانٍ، لا يَعرفُ بابَ الهُدى فَيتَّبِعَه وَلا بابَ العَمى فَيصُدَّ عَنهُ، وذَلكَ مَيّتُ الأحياءِ.

Although his outward appearance is like a human being, his heart is like an animal heart. He neither recognizes the path of right guidance so that he could follow it nor does he know the path of deviation so that he would avoid it. Such a person is indeed a dead one living among the alives.[47]

Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) has said:

إنّ المُتَكَبّرين يُجعَلونَ في صوَرِ الذّرِّ، يَتَوَطَّؤُهُم النّاسُ حَتىّ يَفرُغَ اللهُ مِن الحِسابِ.

The arrogant people on the day of Resurrection will be transformed into tiny ants to be trampled by people until accounts of all the people are settled.[48]

Almighty God in the Holy Qur’an has said:

وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ.

And when the wild beasts are herded together. 81:5.

Some of the commentators of the Holy Qur’an have explained that ‘wild beasts’ in the above verse indicates human beings who will reappear with animal faces on the Day of Resurrection, because, unlike human beings, animals are not required to be judged for their deeds; hence their appearance does not make any sense.

Almighty God in the Holy Qur’an has said:

يَوْمَ يُنفَخُ فِي الصُّورِ فَتَأْتُونَ أَفْوَاجًا.

A day when the trumpet is blown and ye come in multitudes. 78:18.

According to some of the commentators, the above verse has been interpreted that on the Day of Judgment, human beings will be separated from each other and will appear in different groups in accordance with their esoteric faces. There is an interesting narration reported from the Holy prophet (a.s) regarding the interpretation of the above verse:

Ma`adh ibn Jabal said, “I asked the Holy Prophet (a.s) about the interpretation of the verse (intended), and he replied, “Ma`adh: you had asked about a very important subject!” While shedding tears from his eyes, the Holy Prophet (a.s) said, “My ummah will reappear in ten different groups on the Day of Judgment as follows: Some of them will reappear as monkeys; some as pigs; some will walk up side down; some as blind and wandering; some as deaf and dumb understanding absolutely nothing; some chewing their tongues while blood and pus will be coming out of their mouths making the people around them uncomfortable; some with their hands and feet cut off; some as being hanged upon branches of fire; and some with dress of molten lead pressed to their bodies.”

Then he explained these ten categories as follows: “Those who will reappear as monkeys are the talebearers or spies; those who will reappear as pigs are the ones who accepted bribes and had illegal income; those who will be walking up side and down are those who practiced usury; those who are blind are the judges and officers who oppressed the people; those who are dumb and deaf are the ones who were egotistic and ambitious; those who will reappear with their hands and feet cut off are the ones who pained and troubled their neighbors; those who are hanged upon the branches of fire are those who indulged in slandering and backbiting against the masses for the pleasure of kings and rulers; those whose odors are worst than dead bodies are the ones who indulged themselves in worldly desires and passions without paying the Divine Share from their wealth; and those who are dressed with molten lead dress are the arrogant ones who took pride in themselves.”[49]
In the light of the above, the ethical and moral matters cannot be treated as minor and insignificant; rather as the most important crucial and determinant matters which build the esoteric and spiritual life of a human being and even influence his “what to become?” Thus, not only does moral education teach how to live, but also it deals with “what to become” for human beings.

 

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[10] Ahl al‑Bayt (a.s): It refers to the immediate descendants of a family or such a family of the same house or bayt. In this compound form, Ahl al‑Bayt is used in the Holy Qur’an especially in reference to the immediate family of Muhammad (a.s). In verse 33/33 we hear:


إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمْ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا


“And God only wishes to remove from you(all kind of uncleanliness, O members of the family of Muhammad and thoroughly purify you.”

All the commentators of the Holy Qur’an are unanimous in the opinion that the term Ahl al‑Bayt in this verse refers to Muhammad’s daughter Fa§imah, his cousin and son‑in‑law `Ali, and his two beloved grandsons, Hasan and Husayn. [Tr.]
[11] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 69, pp. 357.
[12] Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, pp. 282.
[13] Imam Ja`far al‑¯adiq (a.s): The sixth Imam, Ja`far, known as al‑¯adiq (a.s) was born in al-Madinah on Monday, 17th Rabi` al-Awwal 83 AH, the son of the fifth Imam, he lived in an increasingly favorable climate and was able to teach openly in al-Madinah. Large numbers of scholars gathered around him to learn, including such famous Sunni figures as Abu-Hanifah, the founder of one of the four Sunni schools of law. Towards the end of Imam Ja`far’s life, severe restrictions were placed upon his activities, as a result of growing Shi`ite unrest. More traditions are recorded from him than from all the other Imams together. He was so important for Twelve‑Imam Shi`ite law that it was named the Ja`fari School after him. He was buried in the Baqi cemetery in al-Madinah. Ja`far’s fame for religious learning was great, greater than that of his father or of any other Twelver Imam except for `Ali ibn Abi-±alib (a.s) himself. Perhaps the earliest historical references presenting Imam Ja’far al-¯adiq as one of the most respected and highly esteemed personalities of his epoch, and as having profound knowledge and learning, is Ya`qubi’s statement that it was customary for scholars who related anything from him to say: "The Learned One informed us." Even the famous jurist of al-Madinah, Malik ibn Anas, has been reported to have said, when quoting Imam Ja`far al-¯adiq’s traditions: “The Thiqah (truthful) Ja`far ibn Muhammad himself told me that…” Similar compliments for Imam Ja`far al-¯adiq (a.s) are attributed to Abu-Hanifah, who is also reported to have been his student. Imam al‑¯adiq’s (a.s) knowledge was great in religion and culture, he was fully informed in philosophy, he attained great piety in the world and he abstained entirely from lusts. He lived in al-Madinah long enough to greatly profit the sect that followed him, and to give his friends the advantage of the hidden sciences. He died at the age of 65, in al-Madinah on Monday, 25th fo Shawwal 148 AH; poisoned by al‑Mansur al‑Dawaniqi, the `Abbasid Caliph.
[14] Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, pp. 283.
[15] Amir al-Mu’minin (Amir al-Mu’minin) `Ali ibn Abu-±alib (a.s) was the first perfect exemplar of the teachings of the Most Noble Messenger (a.s) `Ali was raised by him from early childhood and followed him like a shadow until the very end of the latter’s life. He was like a moth before the prophetic flame; the final moment when he was separated from the Most Noble Messenger (a.s) was when he embraced his corpse and laid it to rest. `Ali (a.s) was the first person after the Most Noble Messenger (a.s) to approach spiritual realities in the manner of philosophical reflection, that is, by free exercise of reason. He used many technical terms and laid out and organized the rules of Arabic grammar in order to protect the Holy Qur’an from copyist’s errors. The exact scholarship, spiritual culture and consideration of ethical, social, political and even mathematical problems shown in `Ali’s (a.s) discourses, letters and other documents that have reached us are astonishing. The wealth of these documents makes `Ali (a.s) the best known individual among Muslims to have a full realization of the sublime goals of the Holy Qur’an and the critical and practical concepts of Islam as they should be realized. They testify to the soundness of the Prophetic saying, “I am the city of knowledge, and `Ali is its gate.” Furthermore, he combined this knowledge with action. In shoor, Imam `Ali’s outstanding character is beyond description, and his virtues are innumerable. Never in history has someone’s character drawn the attention of the world’s scholars and thinkers to such an extent. (Excerpted from R. Compbell, `Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn ±aba§aba’i, Islamic teachings, pp. 123‑127.)
[16] al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, pp. 283.
[17] The Fifth Imam, Muhammad, known as al‑Baqir (57/675‑114/732); the son of the fourth Imam, he was present at Karbala’ at a young age. Because of changing political and religious conditions, among them the general revulsion following the events at Karbala’, many people came to al-Madinah to learn the religious and spiritual sciences from him. He trained numerous well‑known men of religion, and mainly for this reason is the first Imam after Imam `Ali from whom large numbers of traditions are recorded. He was buried in the Baqi` cemetery in al-Madinah.
[18] Al‑Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 99.
[19] Al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 99.
[20] Al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 100.
[21] Al-Mahajjah al-Bayza’ of Fay¤ Kashani, vol. 5, pp. 89.
[22] Ghurar al‑Hikam of al-Amudi,  pp. 495.
[23] Ghrar al-Hikam, pp. 226.
[24] Ghrar al-Hikam, pp. 669.
[25] Ghrar al-Hikam, pp. 710.
[26] Ghrar al-Hikam, pp. 638.
[27] Ghrar al-Hikam, pp. 699.
[28] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 64.
[29] Ghrar al-Hikam, pp. 226.
[30] Ghrar al-Hikam, pp. 54.
[31] Imam al‑Sajjad (a.s); the son of Imam al‑Husayn, by the daughter of Yazdigird, the last Sassanian king of Persia, was born in al-Madinah on Saturday, 15th Jumada al-¬la 36 AH. He participated in Imam al-Husayn’s uprising and accompanied his father to Karbala’ being a tragic witness to the tragic events therein. After his father’s martyrdom, he was made captive and taken from Karbala’ to al-Kufah and from there to Damascus. His speeches and protests on many occasions made manifest the worthiness and glory of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), the cruel injustice suffered by his father and the enormities perpetuated by Yazid’s Umayyad regime. Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi`i, the founder of the Shafi`i Sunni School of Law, considered Imam `Ali ibn al‑Husayn (a.s) as the most supreme jurist of all the people of al-Madinah. The Imam’s book ‘al-¯ahifah al-Sajjadiyyah’ represents and stands out as a profound social work of the time and a reflection of a supreme endeavor to meet the exigencies of spiritual ordeals facing the society at the time of Imamate. He died at the age of 58 in al-Madinah; poisoned by al‑Walid ibn `Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, the Umayyad caliph, on 25th of Muharram, 95 AH, and was buried in al-Baqi` Cemetery in al-Madinah [Tr].
[32] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 94, pp. 143.
[33] Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) has said:
This world is not a place of permanent settlement, it is passage, a road on which you are passing. There are two kinds of people here: those who have sold their souls for eternal damnation; and the other type are those who have purchased their souls and freed them from damnation. (Nahj al‑Balaghah, S.M. A Jafri pp. 543) [Tr]
[34] Ghurar al‑Hikam, vol. 1, pp. 88.
[35] Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 31, pp. 401.
[36] Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 32, pp.75.
[37] Tuhaf al-`Uqul, p. 285.
[38] Nahj al-Balaghah, Short Maxims, pp.449.
[39] Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 768.
[40] Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 628.
[41] Jami` al‑Sa`adat, vol. 1, pp. 17.
[42] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 253.
[43] Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 764.
[44] Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 479.
[45] Qurrat al-A`yun, pp. 466.
[46] Qurrat al-`Uyum, pp. 479.
[47] Nahj al- Balaghah, Sermon 87.
[48] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 7, pp. 201.
[49] Tafsir Majma` al-Bayan of Shaykh ±abrasi, vol. 10, pp. 423, Ruh al-Bayan of Isma`il Haqqi al-Barusi, vol. 10, pp. 299 and Nur al-Thaqalayn of Ni`matullah al-Jaza’iri, vol. 5, pp. 493.