Ramadaan 1438 series: DUA OF MAKARIMUL AKHLAQ – SUPPLICATION FOR NOBLE MORAL CHARACTER
By Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 14 June 2017 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
We continue our discussion on Part 4 of this dua wherein Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) says:
وَعَمِّرْنِي مَا كَانَ عُمْرِيْ بِذْلَةً فِي طَاعَتِكَ،
“Let me live as long as my life is spent in Your obedience”
فَإذَا كَانَ عُمْرِي مَرْتَعَاً لِلشَّيْطَانِ
“but if my life should become a pasture for Satan”
فَـاقْبِضْنِي إلَيْـكَ قَبْـلَ أَنْ يَسْبِقَ مَقْتُـكَ إلَيَّ،
“seize me to Thyself before Thy hatred overtakes me”
WHO IS SHAYTAAN?
In our day to day language when using the word shaytaan we think of a personality who disobeyed Allah i.e Iblees. He was from the Jinn and is the most certainly the most influential shaytaan.
But shaytaan is much more broad than Iblees. Thus in the Quran and the narrations, reference to shaytaan is not reserved for Iblees but includes anybody or thing which misguides and misleads to be considered to be shaytaan.
As indicated in previous lectures, Iblees had a serious problem from day 1 and thus when he refused to perform sajdah (prostration) to Prophet Adam (a.s), Almighty Allah reveals his real status as always having been a disbeliever when it says “and he was from among kaafireen”. (Surah Baqarah Verse 34).
Iblees has children, followers, and a party of shaytaan and a full blown establishment – thus the point to note is that he is not the only shaytaan.
BAIT OF IBLEES IS WIDESPREAD
A narration of an Imam says that “the shaytaan of every human is himself”!
The Quran narrates that on the Day of Judgement, people will claim that shaytaan misguided them, but he will very quickly reject such responsibility. In Surah Ibraheem Verse 22 it says:
وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدتُّكُمْ فَاَخْلَفْتُكُمْ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُم مِن سُلْطَانٍ إِلآَّ أَن دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي فَلاَ تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُوا أَنفُسَكُم
“And Satan says, when the affair is decided: ‘Verily Allah promised you the promise of truth; I also promised you but I failed to keep them to you, and I did not have any authority over you except that I called you and you responded me. Therefore, do not blame me, but blame yourselves.”
Its very easy to blame shaytaan but there is no benefit in doing so.
Like great marketers, Iblees uses very effective “bait” which serves as a “magnet” to suck you into his trap. And just like a seasoned fisherman uses different types of bait to catch different fish, so Iblees has refined and mastered his knowledge of the weaknesses of human beings which, if enticed, serve as effective and most appropriate bait. This can range from anger to lust to insatiable long term desires and so on.
The Quran and Ahadith introduces these various examples of the bait used by shaytaan.
Anger is considered to be one of the most successful bait of shaytaan where he traps you. Imam Ali (a.s) says “for Iblees and shaytaan there is no better bait than anger and women (meaning lust)”. Shaytaan uses women to trap us – but the problem actually lies in the weakness of men not controlling their attraction to women!
Prophet Muhammad (sawa) says that ”Musa ibn Imraan was sitting when Iblees came to him. Musa said to Iblees: “inform me of the sin which human beings commit that causes you to gain control over them.” Shaytan replied “the best opportunity I have to control human beings is when he starts to love himself and thinks he has many good deeds and this causes him to feel pleased with himself and considers his sins to be small”.
Imam Reza (a.s) narrates a story about a conversation between Nabi Yahya (a.s) and Iblees. Prophet Yahya (a.s) asked Iblees: “did you ever have a chance to control me, even for an hour”? Iblees answered “No I could never manage to control you, but you have one quality that makes me happy”. Prophet Yahya (a.s) asked “and what is that quality?” Iblees said “you are a man who likes to eat”. Prophet Yahya (a.s) then asked “how does this make you happy?” Iblees replied: “When you eat and fill your stomach it makes you feel tired to perform recommended salaah and other ibadat.” So Prophet Yahya (a.s) said “I commit in front of Allah that I will never eat to fill my stomach”. Iblees replied “I commit I will not leave a believer until I will misguide him”.
The point is there’s nothing wrong in eating to fill your stomach but it makes you vulnerable. Even though maybe Iblees can’t drive you towards committing sin, he can make you lazy to prevent you from extra ibadat and reduce your reward!
In the last part of Part 4 of this Dua, the Imam says:
أللَّهُمَّ لا تَدَعْ خَصْلَةً تُعَابُ مِنِّي إلاّ أَصْلَحْتَهَا،
“O Allah, deposit in me no quality for which I will be faulted, unless Thou reforms it”
وَلا عَآئِبَةً أُؤَنَّبُ بِهَا إلاّ حَسَّنْتَهَا،
“no flaw for which I will be blamed, unless Thou makest it beautiful”
وَلاَ أُكْرُومَـةً فِيَّ نَاقِصَةً إلاّ أَتْمَمْتَهَا.
“Nor a deficient noble quality in me unless you have completed it.
In this part of the Dua, the Imam is saying O Allah, reform my defects and indirectly is saying that we should acknowledge our defects. This is very important for all to know their own defects. We love ourselves by nature and do not want to see anything wrong with ourselves and this love for ourselves becomes a veil for seeing what is the defects inside ourselves. This is a serious problem when we do not take account of our self.
Imam Ali (a.s) says: “whoever has taken account of himself, he has indeed become aware of his defects and knows about his sins”.
Firstly we need to do self analysis to know our defects.
And secondly we are supposed to take care of each other.
Imam Ali (a.s) says: “A believer is a mirror for another believer”. A mirror never lies and shows your defects. Similarly a believer never lies and honestly points out your defects. You can break the mirror but it does not remove your defects.
A mirror also shows your beauty. Thus a believer also shows another believer his beauty.
There are 2 ways of looking in the mirror – one is to see your own face. Even though the mirror might have marks yet you don’t look at that as that is not your focus but your actual face is your focus.
On the other hand, you might buy a mirror in a shop and then look at the actual mirror quality and not your face.
Imam Saadiq (a.s) says: “the best gift a believer can give to another believer is to show him his weakness”.
Sometimes you learn your defects through your enemy. There’s a saying that goes “you learn manners from those who have no manners”.
Thus after acknowledging defects it’s important then to pray for its correction.
REFRAIN FROM CONDEMNATION
The Imam also asks that he is not left with a blameworthy trait so that people would condemn him.
On the one side he says defects must be reformed which can be recognised in different ways including through your brother who is a believer.
BUT this information should be offered with utmost sincerity. If this is done in the form of condemnation and being over critical and insult and destroying the person’s dignity, then that is unacceptable. Prophet (sawa) says:
“If one of your servants commits zina, you must reform him (ensure he is punished) but you have no right to condemn him”.
Imam Saadiq (a.s) says: “someone who condemns a believer, Allah will condemn him in the world and hereafter”.
The 5th Imam Baqir (a.s) says: “One day Abu Zar criticized or past a nasty remark on a man whose mother was black saying “O mother of a black woman”. So Prophet (sawa) said to him “are you going to condemn him by his mother? Do you know what a great crime you have committed?” So Abu Zar started to rub his face and head in the sand until the Prophet (sawa) forgave his mistake.
COMPLETION OF NOBLE QUALITIES
The Imam then prays to Allah that if he has a good quality that it should be completed.
Our good qualities requires continuous perfection and development and care as good qualities have levels.
Abdullah ibn Jafar was well known for his generosity, and that he used to give charity excessively. And people would talk about this. One day people came to him and said you are extravagant when doing charity to which he did not reply.
A while later, while traveling with these same people, they became tired and decided to rest at a garden. They asked from the black caretaker slave whether he will allow them to relax there. He said yes as he has authority to do so from his master.
The slave was within view of Abdullah and his people when they suddenly saw a dog came running to the slave and the slave opened his lunch box in which was 3 breads. The dog looked very hungry and went straight to the slave and he threw one bread to the dog who ate it quickly but still looked hungry. So he gave him a second bread and eventually the third bread.
Upon viewing this scene, Abdullah asked the slave “how much bread do you get for the day?” The slave replied that he gets three breads! So Abdullah asked “then how will you eat for the rest of the day?” The slave replied that in his area there are no dogs so he assumed that this dog probably walked very far to reach there and thus looked so hungry. He then thought that this dog is also a creation of Allah and chose to give him all the food he had for the day and decided to stay hungry for one day!
At this point Abdullah turned to his friends and said that he never displayed generosity to the extent that he went to sleep hungry!!
He then bought the farm and the slave from its owner and freed the slave and gave him the farm as a gift. In return the slave said he also wants to do something good and gave the garden in the path of Allah.
This is the manifestation of completion of a good quality!
And during these days when we commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a.s), we see that it is this completion of his good qualities that attracted people to him and he displayed these same complete good qualities to his enemies and this attitude even forced his enemies like Muawiyyah to acknowledge the status and virtue of Imam Ali (a.s).
To be continued………