Knowledge, Pride and Good Neighbours
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.),
‘O Ali ! Nothing is more indigent than ignorance and no wealth is more beneficial than wisdom.
(Al Kaafi, vol 1, pg 25, H. 25)
In the light of this tradition, it is difficult to imagine someone more indigent than the Muslims, who probably today are the most ignorant of the lot. Ignorance has been the chief cause of their digression and depravation. Muslims, invariably, feature last in the pursuit of knowledge and excellence. On the contrary, pursuit of wealth and luxuries seems to be their sole objective. Unfortunately, this very wealth and affluence for a Muslim, ultimately acts as the greatest barrier for seeking knowledge and more often than not, he ends up gaining neither. So enamoured is he with this opulence that he is prepared to barter even his religion and faith for it. However, the tradition mentioned above, implies the exact opposite i.e. wisdom is (real) wealth. For one blessed with the wealth of wisdom shall find the world subservient to him.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) narrates from Imam Ali b. Abi Taalib (a.s.),
"Pride and egotism are signs of imperfect wisdom".
(Al Kaafi, vol. 1, pg 27)
Although a vain and egotistic Muslim may finally achieve worldly success, it will come at high cost to the Muslim society. He, with his imperfect wisdom, is more likely to cause harm than good to his Muslim brethren. He will repel his brothers with his demeanour and will not share his success with them. His prosperity will not avail the other Muslims at all. This spiritual malady has acted as a hurdle in our unity and has divided the Muslim community. The Islamic way of life recommended by the infallible Imams (a.s.) has almost disappeared from our lives. And what little is preserved will also soon perish unless we are careful in our affairs and lead our lives as prescribed by the holy Imams (a.s.).
Exhorting goodness (Amr Bil Ma’roof) & prohibiting evil (Nahi Anil Munkar)
Exhorting goodness and restraining from evil are among the most important practical tenets of Islam. They are regarded among the necessities of the faith and a Muslim is not permitted to forsake these two obligations. The following verse is a pointer to the significance attached by Islam to these two actions,
‘And from among you there should be party who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and these it is that shall be successful.’
(Aale Imran : 103)
This verse clearly highlights our responsibility in this regard. It is our duty, after having accepted Islam, that we safeguard the beliefs of our Muslim brothers through enjoining good and prohibiting evil. And to direct the community that is inundated with vices, immorality and iniquity, towards the teachings of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). It is through these two acts alone, that we can hope to achieve true recognition of the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) Allah has addressed those who enjoin good and prohibit evil as the best nation,
‘You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them some are believers and most of them are transgressors.’
(Aale Imran : 109)
No distinction is made between man and woman in this righteous work as Holy Quran states,
‘And (as for) the believing men and believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.’
(Tauba : 71)
Moreover, the Holy Quran gives glad tidings to those who help the cause of religion, that they will remain steadfast,
‘O ye who believe ! If you help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you and make firm your feet.’
(Mohammad : 7)
Likewise, a person who migrates or leaves his native place in the way of Allah, then Allah will bestow him with favourable conditions and provide him abundant sustenance. Further, if he dies on the way, then Allah has guaranteed his reward. For surely Allah is most Munificent and the all Compassionate. He promises,
‘And whoever migrates in Allah’s way, he will find in the earth many a place of refuge and abundant resources; and whoever goes forth from his house migrating towards Allah and His Apostle, and then death overtakes him, his reward is indeed with Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful’
(Nisa : 100)
One who awaits the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) should never regard the rectification and reformation of society as the responsibility of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) alone. Thereby washing his hands off enjoining good and refraining from evil.
Remember, our responsibilities and duties in the period of occultation are plentiful. For the followers of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) in particular, enjoining good and prohibiting evil, are even more important and they cannot afford to ignore them by any means. Certainly, this is the best way for hastening the reappearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.).
Among the rights and duties that Islam has promulgated, are the rights of neighbours. It is a Muslim’s obligation to behave benevolently with his neighbours as he behaves with his near and dear ones. He should be courteous with them and try to alleviate their calamities and affliction. One who observes the rights of his neighbours, shall find this virtue most beneficial, making him worthy of Allah’s pleasure.
Ameerul Momeneen Ali (a.s.) mentions in his will, "The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) had reiterated our obligation towards the neighbours to such an extent, that I thought he might reserve some portion of inheritance for the neighbours."
It is worth noting that if we all discharge our responsibilities towards our neighbours, then there is the prospect of universal harmony and amity. Certainly, this very harmony and happiness will then become the root cause of prosperity and long life as Imam Sadeq (a.s.) says,
"Being good to the neighbours inhabits the houses and increases the life span."
(Al- Kaafi, v.2, p. 667)