أَزْرَى بِنَفْسِهِ مَنِ اسْتَشْعَرَ الطَّمَعَ وَ رَضِيَ بِالذُّلِّ مَنْ كَشَفَ عَنْ ضُرِّهِ وَ هَانَتْ عَلَيْهِ نَفْسُهُ مَنْ أَمَّرَ عَلَيْهَا لِسَانَهُ۔
He who adopts greed as a habit devalues himself; he who discloses his hardship agrees to humiliation; and he who allows his tongue to overpower his soul debases the soul.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #2)
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.
The provided Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the detrimental consequences of certain negative traits and actions. Let us delve into the exegesis of this profound Hadith and explore its meanings in the light of the Quran.
The first part of the Hadith states,
He who adopts greed as a habit devalues himself.
The word (أَزْرَى) "azra" in Arabic refers to someone who burdens or oppresses themselves. Here, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is emphasizing that when a person becomes habitually greedy, they not only harm others but also diminish their own worth and dignity. Greed is a negative trait that leads to selfishness, injustice, and a lack of contentment.
The Quran supports this notion in several verses. In Surah Al-Baqarah (2:188), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns against consuming others' wealth unjustly, saying,
And do not consume one another's wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful].
This verse highlights the negative consequences of greed and unjust acquisition of wealth.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Humazah (104:1-3), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) condemns those who amass wealth and hoard it, saying,
Woe to every scorner and mocker who collects wealth and [continuously] counts it.
These verses serve as a reminder that greed and the accumulation of wealth without regard for others' rights can lead to spiritual degradation and a loss of self-worth.
The second part of the Hadith states,
He who discloses his hardship agrees to humiliation.
The word (كَشَفَ) "kashafa" in Arabic means to reveal or disclose. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is highlighting the importance of patience and resilience in times of hardship. When one openly shares their difficulties and complains, they not only invite humiliation but also fail to maintain their dignity.
The Quran provides guidance on this matter in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:45), where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) advises Prophet Musa (Moses) (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) during his encounter with Pharaoh, saying,
And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].
This verse teaches us the importance of patience and seeking assistance from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) during times of hardship, rather than openly disclosing our difficulties and agreeing to humiliation.
The third part of the Hadith states,
He who allows his tongue to overpower his soul debases the soul.
Here, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the significance of controlling one's speech and not allowing the tongue to dictate one's actions. When one speaks without restraint, they risk debasing their own soul and tarnishing their character.
The Quran provides numerous examples of the importance of guarding one's tongue. In Surah Al-Qalam (68:10-11), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns against the consequences of slander and false accusations, saying,
Indeed, those who came with falsehood are a group among you. Do not think it bad for you; rather, it is good for you. For every person among them is what [punishment] he has earned from the sin, and he who took upon himself the greater portion thereof - for him is a great punishment.
These verses remind us of the severe consequences of allowing our tongues to overpower our souls and engage in harmful speech.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a profound reminder for Muslims to reflect upon their actions and strive for self-improvement. It highlights the negative consequences of greed, disclosing hardships, and allowing the tongue to dictate one's actions. By aligning our behavior with the teachings of the Quran, we can avoid devaluing ourselves, agreeing to humiliation, and debasing our souls. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom and strength to embody the noble qualities taught by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and the Quran.
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