خُذْ مِنَ الدُّنيْا مَا أَتَاكَ، وَتَوَلَّ عَمَّا تَوَلَّى عَنْكَ، فَإِنْ أَنْتَ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَأَجْمِلْ فِي الطَّلَبِ۔
Take off the favours of the world whatever comes to you and keep away from what keeps away from you. If you cannot do so be moderate in your seeking.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #393)
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 beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The provided Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the importance of detachment from worldly possessions and the need for moderation in seeking them. Let us delve deeper into the meaning of this impactful saying .
The first part of the Hadith states,
Take off the favours of the world whatever comes to you.
Here, the word "favours" refers to the blessings and provisions that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) bestows upon us in this worldly life. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advises us to accept and appreciate the blessings that come our way, whether they are material possessions, wealth, or any other form of worldly benefits. However, it is important to note that we should not become attached to these worldly possessions, as they are temporary and fleeting.
To support this understanding, we find a similar message in the Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 267, where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
O you who have believed, spend from the good things which you have earned and from that which We have produced for you from the earth. And do not aim toward the defective therefrom, spending [from that] while you would not take it [yourself] except with closed eyes. And know that Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy.
The second part of the Hadith states,
Keep away from what keeps away from you.
Here, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advises us to distance ourselves from those things that are harmful or detrimental to our spiritual and moral well-being. This includes avoiding sinful actions, harmful relationships, and negative influences that may lead us astray from the path of righteousness. By doing so, we protect ourselves from the negative consequences that may arise from engaging in such behaviors.
In the Quran, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) reminds us in Surah Al-Ma'idah, verse 90,
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.
The third part of the Hadith states,
If you cannot do so, be moderate in your seeking.
This part of the Hadith acknowledges that complete detachment from worldly possessions may not be feasible for everyone. Therefore, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advises us to adopt a moderate approach in seeking worldly benefits. This means that we should not become excessively attached to material possessions or engage in excessive pursuit of wealth and worldly desires. Instead, we should strike a balance between our worldly responsibilities and our spiritual obligations.
In the Quran, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) advises moderation in Surah Al-A'raf, verse 31,
O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) enlightening saying in this Hadith serves as a reminder for Muslims to prioritize their spiritual well-being over worldly possessions. It encourages us to appreciate the blessings that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) has bestowed upon us, while also reminding us to remain detached from them. By doing so, we can maintain a balanced and moderate approach in seeking worldly benefits, ensuring that our focus remains on our ultimate goal of attaining closeness to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and the eternal rewards of the Hereafter.
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to understand and implement the teachings of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) in our lives. May He guide us to strike a balance between our worldly responsibilities and our spiritual obligations, and may He grant us success in this life and the Hereafter.
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