إِنَّمَا الْمَرْءُ فِى الدُّنْيَا غَرَضٌ تَنْتَضِلُ فِيهِ الْمَنَايَا وَ نَهْبٌ تُبَادِرُهُ الْمَصَائِبُ وَ مَعَ كُلِّ جُرْعَةٍ شَرَقٌ وَ فِى كُلِّ أَكْلَةٍ غَصَصٌ وَ لَا يَنَالُ الْعَبْدُ نِعْمَةً إِلَّا بِفِرَاقِ أُخْرَى وَ لَا يَسْتَقْبِلُ يَوْماً مِنْ عُمُرِهِ إِلَّا بِفِرَاقِ آخَرَ مِنْ أَجَلِهِ فَنَحْنُ أَعْوَانُ الْمَنُونِ وَ أَنْفُسُنَا نَصْبُ الْحُتُوفِ فَمِنْ أَيْنَ نَرْجُو الْبَقَاءَ وَ هَذَا اللَّيْلُ وَ النَّهَارُ لَمْ يَرْفَعَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ شَرَفاً إِلَّا أَسْرَعَا الْكَرَّةَ فِى هَدْمِ مَا بَنَيَا وَ تَفْرِيقِ مَا جَمَعَا۔
In this world man is the target towards which the arrows of death fly, and is like that wealth whose destruction is quickened by hard ships. (In this world) with every drink there is suffocation and with every morsel there is choking. Here no one gets anything unless he loses something else, and not a day of his age advances till a day passes out from his life. Thus, we are helpers of death and our lives are the targets of mortality. How then can we expect everlasting life since the night and day do not raise anything high without quickly arranging for the destruction of whatever they have built and for the splitting asunder of whatever they have joined together.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #191)
All praise is due to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ), the Lord of all the worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon Muhammad (ﷺ), the seal of the Prophets, and upon his pure progeny, the Ahl al-Bayt (عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلَامُ), and upon his righteous companions.
The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the transient nature of this world and the inevitability of death. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) begins by stating that in this world, man is like a target towards which the arrows of death fly. This analogy emphasizes the constant presence of death, which can strike at any moment and without warning. Just as an arrow swiftly reaches its target, death can come suddenly and unexpectedly, reminding us of the fragility and transience of our existence.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) further describes this world as a wealth that is quickly destroyed by hardships. This highlights the impermanence and vulnerability of worldly possessions. No matter how much wealth one accumulates, it can be easily lost or destroyed by the trials and tribulations of life. This serves as a reminder that material possessions are temporary and should not be the sole focus of our lives.
The Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then draws attention to the suffocation and choking that accompany every drink and morsel in this world. This metaphorical language emphasizes the hardships and difficulties that are inherent in worldly pursuits. Even the simplest acts, such as eating and drinking, can be accompanied by challenges and obstacles. This serves as a reminder that life is filled with struggles, and true contentment can only be found in seeking the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) rather than in the pursuit of worldly desires.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then states that in this world, one cannot attain a blessing without losing something else. This highlights the concept of sacrifice and the idea that every gain is accompanied by a loss. It serves as a reminder that in order to attain spiritual growth and success, one must be willing to let go of worldly attachments and make sacrifices for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
Furthermore, the Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes that each day that passes in our lives brings us closer to our ultimate end. This serves as a reminder of the fleeting nature of time and the inevitability of death. Each passing day is a reminder that our time in this world is limited, and we should use it wisely to prepare for the hereafter.
The Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) concludes by stating that we are helpers of death, and our lives are the targets of mortality. This highlights the reality that death is an inescapable part of life. As mortal beings, we are constantly moving towards our ultimate end. This realization should serve as a motivation for us to prioritize our spiritual growth and strive to attain the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) in all aspects of our lives.
In light of the Quran, this Hadith resonates with several verses that remind us of the transient nature of this world and the importance of focusing on the hereafter. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Hadid (57:20),
Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children.
This verse emphasizes that the worldly pursuits and material possessions are temporary and should not be the sole focus of our lives.
In Surah Al-Taghabun (64:15), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas Allah! With Him is a great reward (Paradise).
This verse reminds us that our worldly possessions and relationships are a test from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ), and the true reward lies in the hereafter.
Additionally, in Surah Al-Imran (3:185), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.
This verse serves as a reminder that death is inevitable for every soul, and the true reward and fulfillment can only be attained in the hereafter.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) provides a profound reflection on the transient nature of this world and the inevitability of death. It serves as a reminder that our time in this world is limited and should be used wisely to prepare for the hereafter. By recognizing the temporary nature of worldly possessions and focusing on spiritual growth, we can attain true contentment and success in both this world and the hereafter. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to prioritize our eternal life over the temporary pleasures of this world.
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