الدُّنْيَا دَارُ مَمَرٍّ لَا دَارُ مَقَرٍّ وَ النَّاسُ فِيهَا رَجُلَانِ رَجُلٌ بَاعَ فِيهَا نَفْسَهُ فَأَوْبَقَهَا وَ رَجُلٌ ابْتَاعَ نَفْسَهُ فَأَعْتَقَهَا۔
This world is a place for transit, not a place for stay. The people herein are of two categories. One is the man who sold away his self (to his passions) and thus ruined it, and the other is the man who purchased his self (by control against his passions) and freed it.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #133)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be 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.
In this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he beautifully describes the nature of this world and the people who inhabit it. Let us delve into the exegesis of this Hadith and explore its deep meaning in light of the Quran.
The Hadith begins with the statement,
This world is a place for transit, not a place for stay.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) uses the word (dar) "دَارُ" which means "place" or "abode." He emphasizes that this world is not our permanent home, but rather a temporary dwelling. It is a transient abode where we are merely passing through on our journey towards the eternal life of the hereafter.
This concept of the world as a temporary abode is echoed in the Quran. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Ankabut (29:64),
This worldly life is only amusement and diversion. And if you believe and fear Allah, He will give you your rewards and not ask you for your properties.
The Hadith further states,
The people herein are of two categories.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) distinguishes between two types of individuals based on their actions and choices in this world. The first category is the person who
sold away his self (to his passions) and thus ruined it.
This person is driven by their desires, heedless of the consequences of their actions. They prioritize worldly pleasures and material gains over spiritual growth and righteousness. As a result, they ruin their own soul and distance themselves from the path of guidance.
This description aligns with the Quranic verse in Surah Al-Imran (3:14), where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns,
Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.
The second category mentioned by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is the person who
purchased his self (by control against his passions) and freed it.
This individual exercises self-control and discipline, resisting the temptations of this world. They prioritize their spiritual well-being and strive to free themselves from the shackles of worldly desires. By doing so, they attain inner freedom and liberation from the distractions of this transient world.
This notion of self-control and liberation from worldly desires is emphasized in the Quran. In Surah Al-Hadid (57:27), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) states,
Then We caused to inherit the Book those We have chosen of Our servants; and among them is he who wrongs himself, and among them is he who is moderate, and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds by permission of Allah. That [inheritance] is what is the great bounty.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) wise words in this Hadith serve as a reminder for Muslims to reflect upon the purpose of their existence in this world. We are not meant to be consumed by the temporary pleasures and distractions of this life, but rather to strive for self-purification and spiritual growth. By exercising self-control and freeing ourselves from the bondage of worldly desires, we can attain true liberation and prepare ourselves for the everlasting abode of the hereafter.
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom and strength to prioritize our spiritual well-being over the fleeting pleasures of this world. May we be among those who purchase their souls and attain true liberation. And may we always remember that this world is a place of transit, and our ultimate destination lies in the eternal abode of the hereafter.
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