الطَّمَعُ رِقٌّ مُؤَبَّدٌ۔
Greed is a lasting slavery.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #180)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. Peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The Arabic Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states, "الطَّمَعُ رِقٌّ مُؤَبَّدٌ۔" which translates to
Greed is a lasting slavery.
This beautiful Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the destructive nature of greed and its long-lasting effects on an individual's spiritual and worldly well-being.
The word (tamā') "طَمَعُ" refers to an intense desire or craving for wealth, power, or possessions. It is a state of excessive longing and covetousness that drives a person to relentlessly pursue material gains, often at the expense of their moral values and spiritual growth. This insatiable greed can enslave a person, trapping them in a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction and discontentment.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) describes this greed as (riqq) "رِقٌّ", which means slavery or bondage. This metaphorical usage emphasizes the enslaving nature of greed, as it shackles individuals to their desires and prevents them from attaining true freedom and contentment. Greed becomes a constant companion, dictating their actions and distorting their priorities.
To understand the significance of this Hadith, we can turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns against the perils of greed in several verses. In Surah Al-Imran (3:180), Allah says,
And let not those who [greedily] withhold what Allah has given them of His bounty ever think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. Their necks will be encircled by what they withheld on the Day of Resurrection.
This verse highlights the consequences of greed, as those who hoard their wealth will face severe punishment in the hereafter.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Humazah (104:1-3), Allah describes the characteristics of a person consumed by greed, saying,
Woe to every scorner and mocker who collects wealth and [continuously] counts it.
These verses condemn those who amass wealth and obsessively count and hoard it, indicating that such behavior is detrimental to one's spiritual well-being.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Hadith serves as a reminder for Muslims to reflect on their own relationship with wealth and possessions. It urges us to be cautious of the dangers of greed and its potential to enslave us. When we become consumed by the desire for more, we lose sight of the true purpose of our existence, which is to worship Allah and seek His pleasure.
Greed can lead to a multitude of negative consequences. It can strain relationships, breed envy and resentment, and corrupt one's character. Moreover, it can blind individuals to the needs of others, preventing them from fulfilling their obligations towards the less fortunate. By succumbing to greed, we risk losing our moral compass and straying from the path of righteousness.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) beautiful saying serves as a call to action for Muslims to cultivate contentment and gratitude in their lives. It encourages us to prioritize spiritual growth over material accumulation and to seek fulfillment through acts of charity, kindness, and selflessness. By freeing ourselves from the chains of greed, we can attain true liberation and find peace and tranquility in our hearts.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) reminds us of the destructive nature of greed and its long-lasting effects on our spiritual and worldly well-being. It serves as a powerful reminder to Muslims to be mindful of their desires and to strive for contentment and gratitude. By recognizing the dangers of greed and seeking liberation from its enslaving grip, we can lead fulfilling and purposeful lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) protect us from the perils of greed and guide us towards righteousness.
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