عِنْدَ الإيثارِ علَى النَّفْسِ تتَبَيَّنُ جَواهِرُ الكُرَماءِ۔
It is when they prefer others over themselves that the spirit of noble people becomes evident.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Ghurar al-Hikam: Self-Sacrifice)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all 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) highlights the virtue of selflessness and the manifestation of noble character. Let us delve into the deeper meaning of this Hadith by examining the key words and their significance.
The word (i'thar) "إيثار" in Arabic refers to the act of preferring or giving priority to others over oneself. It is an expression of selflessness, generosity, and putting the needs and interests of others before one's own. This act of i'thar is not limited to material possessions, but also encompasses emotional support, time, and effort.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states that it is through this act of i'thar that the (jawahir al-kurama) "جَواهِرُ الكُرَماءِ" or the gems of noble people become evident. The term (jawahir) "جَواهِرُ" refers to precious gems or jewels, symbolizing the hidden qualities and virtues possessed by noble individuals. These gems represent the inner beauty, righteousness, and moral excellence that are revealed when one practices selflessness.
To further understand the significance of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) emphasizes the importance of selflessness and preferring others in several verses.
In Surah Al-Hashr (59:9), Allah says,
And [also for] those who were settled in the Home [i.e., Al-Madinah] and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful.
This verse highlights the exemplary behavior of the Ansar (the residents of Madinah) who welcomed and supported the Muhajirun (the emigrants from Makkah). Despite their own hardships and limited resources, the Ansar preferred the needs of the Muhajirun over their own. This selflessness is praised by Allah and is a characteristic of the successful believers.
In Surah Al-Insan (76:9), Allah describes the righteous believers by saying,
They give food to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], 'We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.'
This verse emphasizes the selflessness of the believers who provide food to those in need without expecting anything in return. Their motivation is solely to seek the pleasure of Allah and to fulfill their duty towards their fellow human beings.
The consequences of practicing i'thar and preferring others over oneself are profound. It fosters a sense of unity, compassion, and empathy within the Muslim community. It strengthens the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, and it creates an environment of mutual support and care.
When individuals prioritize the well-being of others, they contribute to the betterment of society as a whole. Acts of selflessness can have a ripple effect, inspiring others to also engage in acts of kindness and generosity. This leads to the establishment of a virtuous cycle, where the spirit of noble people becomes evident and spreads throughout the community.
Reflecting on this Hadith, we are reminded of the immense wisdom and knowledge possessed by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). His profound understanding of human nature and the importance of selflessness serves as a guiding light for Muslims of all generations.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) teaches us the significance of i'thar, or preferring others over ourselves. By practicing selflessness, we reveal the hidden gems of noble character within us. This act of i'thar is supported by various Quranic verses that emphasize the importance of prioritizing the needs of others. The consequences of practicing i'thar are far-reaching, leading to unity, compassion, and the establishment of a virtuous community. May Allah grant us the ability to embody the spirit of selflessness and become among the noble people.
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