الْبُخْلُ جَامعٌ لِمَسَاوِىءِ الْعُيُوبِ، وَهُوَ زِمَامٌ يُقَادُ بهِ إِلَى كُلِّ سُوءٍ۔
Miserliness contains all other evil vices and is the rein with which one can be led to every evil.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #378)
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.
The provided Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the destructive nature of miserliness and its ability to lead one towards all other evil vices. To fully understand the wise message of this Hadith, let us delve into the meanings of the key words used.
The word (bukhl) "بُخْلُ" refers to miserliness or stinginess, which is the act of withholding or being reluctant to spend wealth or resources. It is the opposite of generosity and is characterized by a strong attachment to one's possessions and a reluctance to share them with others.
The term (jami') "جَامِعٌ" means to contain or encompass. In the context of this Hadith, it implies that miserliness encompasses or contains within it all other evil vices. This indicates that miserliness is not just a single vice, but rather a root cause that leads to various other immoral behaviors.
The word (masawi') "مَسَاوِىءِ" refers to evil vices or faults. It signifies the various negative qualities and actions that are associated with miserliness. These can include greed, selfishness, hoarding, and a lack of empathy towards the needs of others.
The phrase (zimamun yuqadu bihi) "زِمَامٌ يُقَادُ بهِ" translates to
the rein with which one can be led.
This metaphorical expression highlights the control and influence that miserliness has over a person. It is like a rein that guides and directs a horse, leading it towards every evil.
To further comprehend the significance of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns us about the destructive nature of miserliness in several verses. In Surah Al-Isra, Allah says, (Quran 17:29)
And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent
This verse emphasizes the negative consequences of being miserly and the harm it brings to oneself.
Additionally, in Surah Al-Takathur, Allah says, (Quran 102:1-2)
Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you until you visit the graveyards
This verse highlights how the pursuit of wealth and material possessions can distract individuals from their ultimate purpose in life, leading them away from the remembrance of Allah and towards heedlessness.
The exegesis of this Hadith teaches us that miserliness is not merely a personal flaw but a vice that has far-reaching consequences. When one becomes attached to their wealth and possessions, they become blinded by their own desires and fail to fulfill their obligations towards others. This leads to a disregard for the well-being of others and a lack of compassion and generosity.
Miserliness can also lead to a cycle of greed and dissatisfaction, as the desire for more wealth becomes insatiable. This insatiable desire can drive individuals to engage in unethical and immoral actions to acquire more wealth, such as fraud, exploitation, and oppression.
Furthermore, miserliness can have detrimental effects on the individual's spiritual well-being. It hinders the development of qualities such as gratitude, contentment, and trust in Allah's provision. It also prevents the individual from experiencing the joy and blessings that come from giving and helping others.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), known for his profound knowledge and wisdom, warns us about the dangers of miserliness in this Hadith. He reminds us that miserliness is not a trivial flaw but a vice that can lead to the manifestation of all other evil vices within a person.
As Muslims, we are encouraged to be generous and charitable, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and his noble companions. The Quran repeatedly emphasizes the virtues of generosity and the rewards that come with it. Allah says, (Quran 2:245)
Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a powerful reminder for Muslims to be vigilant against the destructive nature of miserliness. It urges us to cultivate the qualities of generosity, compassion, and selflessness, and to be mindful of the consequences that arise from withholding our wealth and resources. May Allah protect us from the vice of miserliness and guide us towards a path of generosity and righteousness.
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