By Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 9 June 2017 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town


أللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّد وَآلِهِ
O God, bless Muhammad and his Household,

وَلا تَـرْفَعْنِي فِيْ النَّاسِ دَرَجَـةً
raise me not a single degree before the people

إلاّ حَطَطْتَنِي عِنْدَ نَفْسِي مِثْلَهَا،
without lowering me its like in myself

وَلا تُحْدِثْ لِي عِزّاً ظَاهِرَاً
and bring about no outward exaltation for me

إلاّ أَحْدَثْتَ لِي ذِلَّةً بَاطِنَةً عِنْدَ نَفْسِي بِقَدَرِهَا.
without an inward abasement in myself to the same measure!

This third portion of the beautiful Dua of Makarimul Akhlaq again covers a very important message where Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) implores Almighty Allah (SWT) again for something not material, but rather for something spiritual, which has a great connection to our Akhlaq.

In the above verses, we see how Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) presents his appeal to Almighty Allah (SWT) in a most beautiful manner. Let us delve deeper into its finer meaning.


One day, there was a deeply religious police officer who asked a highly regarded Alim about these particular verses, because he felt stuck in capturing the deep essence embedded therein. This Alim responded by asking him what is his rank, and he said he is the Captain of the Police Station.

The Alim responded by saying that as Captain of the Police Station, the Akhlaq expected from these verses is that you stand up from your chair when someone comes to see you, and only sit after your guest has seated.

Furthermore, when your become a Police Commissioner, your rank is much more superior, and the Akhlaq expected from these verses is that you stand from your chair, go to the door to receive your guest, settle them into their seat, ensure they are comfortable, before you proceed to sit.

In other words, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying that your humility should proportionately increase as your position in an organization or society increases. Rank and status should not fool us. My impression of myself should drop proportionately with people’s inflated impression of me!

Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying that status is very influential in our Akhlaq. What we generally see is that Akhlaq changes the moment your status increases!


Ghurur al-Hikam is the most comprehensive collection of short sayings of Imam Ali (a.s).

There is a very beautiful saying recorded here, where he says: “You see the true colours of someone exposed with the change in their status.”

It is not a big deal or anything special when a person is a nobody and he is humble, but the true test of humility is when your status in society increases.

Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying in these verses that progress in worldly matters as well as religious matters is a test of how you maintain your Akhlaq. The test of humility includes achieving status on religious matters too!

There is a Hadith narration from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS), where he says that it is enough of a trial for a person when you become popular in society, as your Akhlaq is constantly tested.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) goes further to explain that the best of people are those who humble themselves from a high status.

Imam Ali (a.s) explains in another Hadith narration that poor people are normally humble in front of rich people, but he says further that the best humility is that of rich in front of poor for the sake of Almighty Allah (SWT).

That is REAL humility, when rich interact with poor. The real colour of your personality is revealed at this time, and if you exude the inner beauty then it does not change your Akhlaq, irrespective whether you hold the highest position in society.


Sometimes our Akhlaq changes when our grading in society goes up i.e. the test of arrogance. However, sometimes our Akhlaq changes when our grading in society goes down as well!

Here the test is one of self-belief, because you can fall into the trap of losing confidence in yourself and feeling humiliated, thereby losing dignity. So the test of Akhlaq referred to in this discussion applies both ways.

Yunus ibn Ammar was a companion of our sixth Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s), and he suffered from leprosy. As a result people unfortunately looked at him with contempt. This negative attitude of people towards him made him feel inferior. He then approached Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) and explained his situation and condition.

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) responded very beautifully after listening to his complaint, saying that the Holy Quran refers to a person called Mu’minu aale-Firaun, who had a birth defect with all the fingers stuck together.

However, this birth defect never reduced his self-esteem and dignity. He was not shy about his defect and used to extend the same hand confidently in front of people proclaiming the Divine message to follow the Prophets of Almighty Allah (SWT)!

The guidance from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) was that you should not let it affect your self-esteem and dignity when you people look at you with contempt.


Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is pretty much repeating himself in the above verses, but referring to the issue of honour from an internal perspective and external perspective. It ties into the earlier verses we discussed where Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking Almighty Allah (SWT) for self-respect which comes from Him, and not self-respect which is created from people’s impression of me.

The self-respect Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is talking about is that which is achieved from the soul itself, rather than from material wealth, position or academic prestige. And the self-respect achieved through the soul is by having a commensurate reduction of my opinion of myself when others think high of me. This is REAL dignity – that I am honored before Almighty Allah (SWT), and not be fooled into believing in the name name and fame that people create about me.

The fourth portion of this beautiful Dua Makarimul Akhlaq reads as follows, which we will discuss in the next lecture:

أللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّد وَآلِ مُحَمَّد،
O God, bless Muhammad and Muhammad’s Household,

وَمَتِّعْنِي بِهُدىً صَالِح لا أَسْتَبْدِلُ بِهِ،
give me to enjoy a sound guidance which I seek not to replace,

وَطَرِيقَةِ حَقٍّ لا أَزِيْغُ عَنْهَا،
a path of truth from which I swerve not,

وَنِيَّةِ رُشْد لاَ أَشُكُّ فِيْهَا
and an intention of right conduct in which I have no doubts!

Without any doubt, this beautiful Dua has the most beautiful messages of perfecting moral character!

To be continued…..

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