يَأتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ عَضُوضٌ يَعَضُّ الْمُوسِرُ فِيهِ عَلَى مَا فِي يَدَيْهِ وَلَمْ يُؤْمَرْ بِذلِكَ، قَالَ اللهُ سُبْحَانَهُ: (و لا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ) ، تَنْهَدُ فِيهِ الاْشْرَارُ، وَتُسْتَذَلُّ الاْخْيَارُ، ويُبَايعُ الْمُضْطَرُّونَ، وَقَدْ نَهَى رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلى اللهُ عليه و آله و سلم عَنْ بِيَعِ الْمُضْطَرِّينَ۔
He (a.s.) said: A severe time will come upon people wherein the rich will seize possessions with their teeth although not commanded to do so. Allah the Glorified, says: "Forget not generosity among yourselves." (Quran, 2:237). During this time wicked will rise up while virtuous will remain low and purchases will be made from helpless although the Prophet (S) has prohibited purchasing from the helpless.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #468)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise is due 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 (a.s.), he describes a time that will come upon people, a time of severe hardship and injustice. He uses the word (adud) "عَضُوضٌ", which means a severe and difficult time. In this time, the rich and powerful will unjustly seize possessions and wealth, even though they have not been commanded to do so. This act of seizing possessions with their teeth symbolizes the extreme greed and disregard for ethics that will prevail during this time.
Imam Ali (a.s.) then brings forth a powerful verse from the Quran to emphasize the importance of generosity and kindness among people. He quotes Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) saying, (Quran, 2:237)
Forget not generosity among yourselves
This verse serves as a reminder that even in times of difficulty and injustice, it is essential to uphold the principles of generosity, fairness, and compassion towards one another.
To further understand the significance of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) repeatedly emphasizes the importance of justice and fairness in various verses. For example, in Surah Al-Hadid, Allah says, (Quran, 16:90)
Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression
This verse highlights the divine commandment to establish justice and fairness in all aspects of life.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Ma'idah, Allah reminds us, (Quran, 4:135)
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives
This verse emphasizes the importance of upholding justice, even if it means going against our own interests or the interests of our loved ones. It serves as a reminder that justice should always prevail, regardless of personal biases or circumstances.
Now, let us reflect on the consequences and motivations behind the actions described in the Hadith. Imam Ali (a.s.) warns that during this severe time, the wicked will rise up while the virtuous will remain low. This indicates that the values of righteousness, honesty, and compassion will be disregarded, and those who possess wealth and power will exploit the vulnerable and helpless.
The motivation behind such actions is rooted in greed, selfishness, and a lack of empathy. The rich and powerful individuals during this time are driven by their insatiable desire for wealth and material possessions, even at the expense of others. They are willing to seize possessions without any regard for justice or the well-being of those they harm.
The consequences of this unjust behavior are far-reaching. Society becomes divided, with the wicked prospering and the virtuous suffering. The helpless and vulnerable are further marginalized and exploited, as even the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had explicitly prohibited purchasing from the helpless.
In conclusion, this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (a.s.) serves as a reminder for Muslims to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and generosity, even in the face of adversity. It warns against the consequences of greed and selfishness and highlights the importance of treating others with kindness and compassion. As Muslims, we must strive to emulate the qualities of Imam Ali (a.s.), particularly his immense knowledge and wisdom, and work towards creating a just and compassionate society that upholds the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).
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