By Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 4 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,

وَاكْفِنِي مَا يَشْغَلُنِي الاهْتِمَامُ بِهِ،

spare me the concerns which distract me,

وَاسْتَعْمِلْنِي بِمَا تَسْأَلُنِي غَداً عَنْهُ

employ me in that about which Thou wilt ask me tomorrow,

وَاسْتَفْرِغْ أَيَّامِي فِيمَا خَلَقْتَنِي لَهُ،

and let me pass my days in that for which Thou hast created me!

These verses were the focus of the previous discussion where Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) emphasizes on having a focused approach to life. We discussed the value of time and its appropriate utilization, delegation of matters and prioritizing where you can maximize the time at your disposal.

We also mentioned that Imam Ali (a.s) has referred to discipline in life to be congruent with Taqwa. This emphasizes how crucial discipline is in one’s life.

Then we also discussed that the purpose of life is to be employed in the worship of Almighty Allah (SWT), as referenced In the Holy Quran, verse 56 of Surah Dhaariyat (chapter 51), which reads as follows:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

“And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.”

Continuing on this purpose of our creation being Ibadah (worship), Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking from Allah (SWT) to be busy in this life, for the purpose of this life. And the Holy Quran says that the purpose of this life is Ibadah (worship).


1. First of all, Ibadah of Allah (SWT) means to serve and pay homage to our Creator in the typical RITUAL sense. This is what we understand from Ibadah.

2. This is not the only meaning of worship as ibadah is sometimes made for other than Allah and this meaning of worship is also referred to in the Holy Quran. An example is in verse 95 of Surah Saaffaat (chapter 37) where the worship of idols is questioned:

قَالَ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مَا تَنْحِتُونَ

“He said: Worship ye that which ye yourselves do carve”

3. There is another meaning of Ibadah, and that is OBEDIENCE. You don’t worship in the ritual sense mentioned above, but you are obeying someone. The Holy Quran regards even the obedience as a form of worship. Verse 60 of Surah Yaseen (chapter 36) makes reference to this:

أَلَمْ أَعْهَدْ إِلَيْكُمْ يَا بَنِي آدَمَ أَنْ لَا تَعْبُدُوا الشَّيْطَانَ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ

“Did I not charge you, O children of Adam! that you should not serve the Shaitan? Surely he is your open enemy”

Of course nobody worships Shaitan in the sense that they believe he is God (although there is the rare cult who follow this) and ritually bow down to him. So what is the meaning of worshipping in this verse? It means obedience, while they don’t believe Shaitan is God, but they obey his commands and accept his influence. Therefore, this is also called Ibadah (worship).

4. Complete and exclusive SURRENDER of one’s whole existence is also Ibadah (worship). The following verse 11 of Surah Zumar (chapter 39) refers:

قُلْ إِنِّي أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصًا لَهُ الدِّينَ

“Say: I am commanded that I should serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience.”

So, there are 4 different meanings of Ibadah. Hence, when Almighty Allah (SWT) is saying that He has created us for no reason other than to worship Him, it is not ONLY referring to the rituals in the form of praying, fasting, Hajj and not doing anything more in life. NO! The expectation is much more.


Ibadah in the ritual form is one purpose of life, but Ibadah in the form of obedience of Almighty Allah (SWT) and His commands is required in all the aspects of personal and communal life, irrespective of whether you are praying or whether you are in your worldly endeavours or the way you conduct your household. Here there is no Ibadah in the ritual sense but requires one to obey the guidance of Almighty Allah (SWT) in all aspects of life. This is also Ibadah!

If you remember the Hadith I quoted in one of the earlier discussions where I narrated the incident of when there was a highly energized and smart individual in the time of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS), and people commented that they wish this energy was for the sake of Almighty Allah (SWT).

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) replied that if he is exhausting all his efforts and spending his energy in order to provide for his children and his aged and dependent parents in a dignified manner, then he is indeed doing it for the sake of Almighty Allah (SWT). However, if he is doing all of this to show off and display pride then he is on the path of Shaitan.

Verse 56 of Surah Dhaariyat (chapter 51) mentioned earlier, reads as follows:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

“And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.”

What this means is that one’s entire direction should be focused towards attaining the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT) regardless of whatever you are doing.


The second portion of Dua Makarimul Akhlaq continues with the following verse where Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking Almighty Allah (SWT) to make him self-sufficient:

وَأَغْنِنِي وَأَوْسِعْ عَلَىَّ فِي رِزْقِكَ،

“Free me from need, expand Thy provision toward me”

The verse thereafter reads as follows:

وَلاَ تَفْتِنِّي بِالبَطَرِ، وَأَعِزَّنِي، وَلا تَبْتَلِيَنِّي بِالْكِبْرِ،

“and tempt me not with ingratitude! Exalt me and afflict me not with pride!”

In this verse Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking Almighty Allah (SWT) not to tempt him with greed or discontent when looking at other people’s wealth. Rather let me be honored and don’t afflict me with arrogance.

Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking us to think of very important issues in life, in this part of the Dua. He is asking from Allah (SWT) to make him rich, which is a very big question.

You can only become rich in this world if you work hard, otherwise there is no other way. Indirectly Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying that we are required to work and search for Halaal rizq, and in Islam this is Ibadah.

The 5th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) narrates that Nabi Musa (a.s) asked from Almighty Allah (SWT) which of His servants is most hated by Him. Almighty Allah (SWT) replied in Hadith Kudsi, that He hates someone who sleeps in the night like a dead person and roams around idle during the day!

It is narrated that someone approached the 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s), saying that his hand is defective, and as a result he cannot work due to his disability. He further laments that he does not have capital. So he is deficient in labour and capital, and therefore begs to Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) for help. Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s) replied to this person saying that the rest of your body is in good condition and therefore capable of labour, instead of being a beggar depending on people!


Islam is a practical religion!

There is an authentic Hadith narrated in Sunni and Shia resources from our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) where he is reported to have said: “Cursed is someone who disposes HIS burden over other people!”

Anas ibn Malik narrates that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) was returning after the Battle of Tabuk and came across someone on his way. Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) greeted him and asked why his hands are scarred with rough marks. This person replies saying he is a farmer and the farming equipment is quite tough to work with under the hot sun, but this is his livelihood so that he can provide for his family.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) kissed those hard, rough hands, confirming that the Fire of Hell will not touch these hands!

Islam is heavily opposed to being idle and despises the mentality of expecting others to take care of you. Many people have the misconception that poverty is good in Islam. NOT AT ALL!

The perception is there, that if I am poor then I am good, because there is a Hadith from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) where he says that poverty is his pride. This hadith is totally misunderstood as Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) is referring to his pride being his poverty in the form of his dependence on the richness of Almighty Allah (SWT), rather than material poverty!

Islam dislikes poverty, while we indeed have all the sympathy and kindness for those in need.


Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) constantly prayed to Almighty Allah (SWT) asking shelter from 2 things, namely:

1. Kufr (disbelief)

2. Poverty

Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) believed that poverty is tantamount to disbelief! This same opinion is recorded from Imam Ali (AS) in Nahjul Balagha as well. What does this mean? It means that it is a very difficult job to take care of your Imaan (faith) while enduring poverty because this is fertile ground for Shaitan’s influence.

Poverty produces crime! We need to eliminate poverty if we want to get rid of Kufr (disbelief). It is very difficult to have poverty and Imaan working together in a systematic form because the desperation of poverty causes one to abandon one’s faith.

The Holy Quran regularly makes joint reference to praying and giving charity. This means that by default the Holy Quran establishes that Zakat is commonly compulsory as much as Salaah is commonly compulsory in Islamic society. How is it possible to give charity if you don’t have resources? A beggar cannot be a donor!!

Material poverty is therefore not something to be proud of. At the same time, greed is also not admired. We are supposed to work hard to make our lives comfortable and provide for our families such that we can maintain our dignity and not be dependent.

Running after our worldly pursuits has the risk of making us forget about our prime purpose, which is Ibadah (worship). The focus of our worldly pursuits should be to progress the message of Islam, and fulfill our communal responsibility. But if this exhaustion of efforts is simply to satisfy our insatiable lust for becoming more and more wealthy, then it is not Ibadah, but rather it is obedience to Shaitan.

Therefore Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) emphasized on having balance in life. We have the poor person who has nothing. Then we have the poor who has something. Then we have the poor who has a little more. Then we have the average person, who is not dependent and spends from his earnings towards charity too. Then we have the wealthier part of society who do not know what to do with their money!

Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) use to ask Almighty Allah (SWT) to provide for his family sufficient to survive.


There is a very interesting Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) when he was travelling in the desert with a number of his companions (Sahaba), and he came across a person who has lots of camels. They stopped there to prepare food and he asked this man for some milk from the camels. This person said no, in a long-winded way. This person said that he already milked the camels and the milk is boiling in the pot, which is his for tonight. Furthermore, he said he cannot milk the camels again because that milk will be needed for the next day.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) prayed for him, after being refused milk. Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) asked from Allah (SWT) to increase this person’s money and his children!

So, Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) and his companions travelled further and found another person with lots of sheep, and Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) also asked him for milk. This person responded very positively, bringing the milk that he already has and then also tried to milk the sheep again to get more. In addition, this person also brought the actual sheep and handed them to Rasulullah (SAWAS), which was more than what was asked for.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) prayed for this person as well, asking Allah (SWT) to give him only what is sufficient for him.

The companions (Sahaba) were totally confused by this apparent contradiction, and asked Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) why would he read a positive prayer for someone who did not answer his request for milk, and then read a “negative” prayer for someone who answered his request with more than what was asked for.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) explained that the second dua was a better one, because having sufficient is much better than having a lot which distracts you from the remembrance of Almighty Allah (SWT)!


That is what Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying in this Dua of Makarimul Akhlaq:

وَأَغْنِنِي وَأَوْسِعْ عَلَىَّ فِي رِزْقِكَ،

“Free me from need, expand Thy provision toward me”

This issue of dignity of a believer is so critical. Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is therefore asking Almighty Allah (SWT) to please not place him in a position where he has to extend his hand in need.

The verse thereafter reads completely the opposite way:

وَلاَ تَفْتِنِّي بِالبَطَرِ، وَأَعِزَّنِي، وَلا تَبْتَلِيَنِّي بِالْكِبْرِ،

“and tempt me not with ingratitude! Exalt me and afflict me not with pride!”

This is the BALANCED APPROACH of Ahlul Bait (a.s). In the prior verse, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking Allah (SWT) for self-respect and personal pride (in a positive way). Then in this verse Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking Allah (SWT) to not let him become arrogant. So, when you really in need, and somebody wants to help you without hurting your dignity, you should not resist due to your arrogance.

There are Hadith narrations from Imam Hassan al-Mujtaba (a.s) that when someone extends his hands to you in need, he does a favour to you because he provides you an opportunity to do charity. So, one must be thankful to such a person.

In fact, there is a well-known recording that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) use to kiss the hands of beggars because he said that in the Holy Quran, Almighty Allah (SWT) calls the hands of beggars His hands!

So, these are the 2 perspectives on poverty. The donor is in an advantageous position of gaining proximity to Almighty Allah (SWT) through his charity. However, the poverty situation of the beggar who extends his hand in need is not looked upon favourably in Islam.

To summarize this discussion, we are saying that being wealthy can be positive (and gain you closer to Allah (SWT)) and negative (take you away from Allah (SWT)), depending on how you use your wealth.


Being the 10th of Ramadaan, we remember the great lady of Islam, the great lady of Imaan, the great lady of generosity, the great lady of Akhlaq, the great lady of loyalty, the great lady of chastity, mother of Fatima (SA), mother of Ahlul Bait (AS), mother of all the Imams (AS), Ummul Mu’mineen Gadija al-Kubra (SA).

She was extremely wealthy, that history has recorded stories about her wealth. She had a huge fleet of camels which use to be her logistics business from one city to the next. A key lesson is that this huge wealth that was with her was never a source of greed. The heart, mind and soul of Lady Gadija (SA) was not attached to her wealth, as she dedicated all her wealth for the sake of Islam.

There was not even a kafan (funeral garb) available for her on this day when she passed away. She was known as the madam of Quraish with such great wealth at her disposal. Her spirit of sacrifice in spending all she had for the protection of Islam, in the love of her husband Muhammad (SAWAS).

To be continued………..