يَا أَسْرَى الرَّغْبَةِ أَقْصِرُوا فَإِنَّ الْمُعَرِّجَ عَلَى الدُّنْيَا لَا يَرُوعُهُ مِنْهَا إِلَّا صَرِيفُ أَنْيَابِ الْحِدْثَانِ أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ تَوَلَّوْا مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ تَأْدِيبَهَا وَ اعْدِلُوا بِهَا عَنْ ضَرَاوَةِ عَادَاتِهَا۔
O slaves of desires, cut them short because he who leans on the world gets nothing out of it except the pain of hardships. O people, take charge of the training of your own souls and turn them away from the addiction to their habits.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #359)
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, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) addresses the people with a powerful message. He begins by addressing them as (يَا أَسْرَى الرَّغْبَةِ)
O slaves of desires
highlighting the captivating nature of worldly desires and the way they enslave individuals. The Imam urges the believers to cut short their desires, to resist their allure and not to be consumed by them.
The Imam then provides a vivid metaphor, stating that those who lean on the world (الْمُعَرِّجَ عَلَى الدُّنْيَا) gain nothing from it except the pain of hardships. This metaphor emphasizes the transient nature of worldly pleasures and the futility of relying on them for true fulfillment. The world, with all its attractions, cannot provide lasting satisfaction or bring true peace to the heart.
To support this exhortation, we find numerous Quranic verses that emphasize the impermanence and deceitfulness of worldly desires. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Hadid (57:20),
Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children - like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Qasas (28:60), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns,
And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then addresses the people directly, urging them to take charge of the training of their own souls. He advises them to turn away from the addiction to their habits (ضَرَاوَةِ عَادَاتِهَا) and to seek moderation and balance in their actions and behaviors.
This advice aligns perfectly with the teachings of the Quran. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) emphasizes the importance of self-discipline and self-control in Surah Al-Hujurat (49:11),
O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent - then it is those who are the wrongdoers.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advice serves as a reminder for Muslims to be mindful of their actions and to strive for self-improvement. By taking charge of our souls and turning away from harmful habits, we can cultivate a sense of discipline and righteousness in our lives.
This hadith also highlights the importance of self-awareness and introspection. It encourages individuals to reflect upon their own actions and behaviors, to identify any negative patterns, and to actively work towards rectifying them. By doing so, we can break free from the shackles of our desires and attain spiritual growth and tranquility.
In conclusion, this profound hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a powerful reminder for Muslims to be vigilant in their pursuit of righteousness. It urges us to resist the allure of worldly desires and to take charge of our own souls. By doing so, we can attain true fulfillment and spiritual growth, ultimately leading to a more balanced and purposeful life. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the strength and wisdom to implement the teachings of this hadith in our lives.
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