لو سُدَّ على رجلٍ بَابُ بيته، وتُرِكَ فيه، من أَين كان يأتيه رزقُه؟ فقال عليه السلام: مِنْ حَيْثُ كَانَ يَأْتِيهِ أَجَلُهُ۔
If a man is left in his house and the door is closed, from where will his livelihood reach him. And he replied: From whatever way his death reaches him.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #356)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure and noble family, and his righteous companions.
The provided Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is a beautiful Hadith that highlights the concept of sustenance and livelihood in Islam. Let us delve into the exegesis of this Hadith and explore its deeper meaning in light of the Quran.
The key words in this Hadith are (rizquhu) "رزقُه" and (ajaluhu) "أَجَلُهُ". "رزقُه" refers to one's sustenance or livelihood, while "أَجَلُهُ" refers to one's appointed time of death. These words hold great significance in understanding the message conveyed by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).
To comprehend the meaning of this Hadith, we must turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) repeatedly emphasizes in the Quran that He is the ultimate provider of sustenance for all beings. In Surah Al-Hijr, Allah says, (Quran 11:6)
And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear register.
From this verse, we understand that Allah is the sole source of sustenance for every living being. He knows the needs and circumstances of each individual, and He provides for them accordingly. This includes not only material provisions but also spiritual and emotional nourishment.
Now, let us analyze the response of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) in the Hadith. When asked from where a person's livelihood will reach them if they are confined to their house, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) answers,
From whatever way his death reaches him.
This response may seem enigmatic at first, but it holds a profound lesson for us.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is reminding us that our sustenance is not limited to the physical means we perceive. While we may think that our livelihood is solely dependent on our efforts and external factors, the reality is that it is ultimately determined by Allah's decree. Our appointed time of death, which is known only to Allah, is the ultimate determinant of our sustenance.
This does not mean that we should sit idle and expect sustenance to come to us without any effort. Islam encourages us to strive and work hard to earn a living. However, it reminds us that our efforts alone are not sufficient. It is Allah who blesses our endeavors and opens doors of provision for us.
Allah affirms this in the Quran, saying, (Quran 65:2-3)
And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out and will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.
This verse assures us that if we have trust in Allah and fear Him, He will provide for us from unexpected sources. Our sustenance may come to us through means we could never have imagined, just as our death reaches us from unexpected directions. It is a reminder that Allah's knowledge and wisdom surpass our limited understanding.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) response in this Hadith serves as a profound reflection on the concept of sustenance in Islam. It teaches us to have faith in Allah's providence and to rely on Him in all aspects of our lives. We should strive to fulfill our responsibilities and make efforts to earn a living, but we must remember that our sustenance ultimately comes from Allah, and He has the power to provide for us in ways we cannot fathom.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the concept of sustenance in Islam and reminds us of our reliance on Allah for our livelihood. It emphasizes that our appointed time of death is the ultimate determinant of our sustenance, and we should trust in Allah's wisdom and providence. May Allah grant us the understanding and guidance to live our lives in accordance with His teachings.
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