وَ تَبِعَ جِنَازَةً فَسَمِعَ رَجُلًا يَضْحَكُ فَقَالَ كَأَنَّ الْمَوْتَ فِيهَا عَلَى غَيْرِنَا كُتِبَ وَ كَأَنَّ الْحَقَّ فِيهَا عَلَى غَيْرِنَا وَجَبَ وَ كَأَنَّ الَّذِى نَرَى مِنَ الْأَمْوَاتِ سَفْرٌ عَمَّا قَلِيلٍ إِلَيْنَا رَاجِعُونَ. نُبَوِّئُهُمْ أَجْدَاثَهُمْ وَ نَأْكُلُ تُرَاثَهُمْ كَأَنَّا مُخَلَّدُونَ بَعْدَهُمْ ثُمَّ قَدْ نَسِينَا كُلَّ وَاعِظٍ وَ وَاعِظَةٍ وَ رُمِينَا بِكُلِّ فَادِحٍ وَ جَائِحَةٍِ۔
He (a.s.) was accompanying a funeral when he heard someone laugh. Then he said: Is it that death has been ordained only for others? Is it that right is obligatory only on others? Is it that those whom we see departing on their journey of death will come back to us? We lay them down in their graves and then enjoy their estate (as if we will live for good after them). We have ignored every preacher, man or woman, and have exposed ourselves to every catastrophe.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #122)
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.
In this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he reflects upon the reality of death and the heedlessness of people towards its inevitability. The Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was accompanying a funeral procession when he heard someone laughing. This prompted him to make a thought-provoking statement, questioning the perception of death and the responsibilities it entails.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) begins by saying,
Is it that death has been ordained only for others?
This rhetorical question highlights the common tendency of individuals to perceive death as something that only happens to others, while disregarding their own mortality. It serves as a reminder that death is an inevitable reality that every individual must face, regardless of their status or position.
To further emphasize this point, the Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) asks,
Is it that right is obligatory only on others?
Here, he questions the belief that moral and ethical responsibilities only apply to others, while exempting oneself from the obligations that come with them. This statement serves as a reminder that every individual is accountable for their actions and will be held responsible for their deeds in the Hereafter.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then raises another thought-provoking question,
Is it that those whom we see departing on their journey of death will come back to us?
This question challenges the notion of immortality and the false hope that we may have in the return of those who have passed away. It serves as a reminder that death is a one-way journey, and once a person has departed from this world, they will not return.
The Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) continues by stating,
We lay them down in their graves and then enjoy their estate (as if we will live for good after them).
This statement highlights the irony of human behavior, where people mourn the loss of loved ones but quickly move on with their lives, indulging in worldly pleasures as if they will live forever. It serves as a reminder that life is transient, and the pursuit of worldly possessions should not overshadow the remembrance of death and the Hereafter.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) concludes by saying,
We have ignored every preacher, man or woman, and have exposed ourselves to every catastrophe.
This statement highlights the heedlessness and negligence of individuals towards the reminders and admonitions of preachers and scholars. It serves as a reminder that by disregarding the guidance and teachings of the righteous, individuals expose themselves to the calamities and tribulations of this world and the Hereafter.
To support the exegesis of this Hadith, we can turn to the Quran, where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) repeatedly reminds us of the reality of death and the importance of preparing for the Hereafter. In Surah Al-Imran (3:185), Allah says,
Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection.
This verse emphasizes the inevitability of death and the accountability of every individual on the Day of Resurrection.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Mulk (67:2), Allah says,
It is He who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed.
This verse reminds us that death is a creation of Allah, designed to test our actions and determine our ultimate fate. It serves as a reminder that our focus should not solely be on worldly pursuits, but rather on righteous deeds that will benefit us in the Hereafter.
In conclusion, this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a powerful reminder of the reality of death and the heedlessness of individuals towards it. It challenges our perception of death, our responsibilities, and our priorities in life. It urges us to reflect upon our own mortality, fulfill our obligations, and prepare for the inevitable journey to the Hereafter. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to understand the profound teachings of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and the ability to implement them in our lives.
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