عَجِبْتُ لِلْبَخِيلِ يَسْتَعْجِلُ الْفَقْرَ الَّذِى مِنْهُ هَرَبَ وَ يَفُوتُهُ الْغِنَى الَّذِى إِيَّاهُ طَلَبَ فَيَعِيشُ فِى الدُّنْيَا عَيْشَ الْفُقَرَاءِ وَ يُحَاسَبُ فِى الْآخِرَةِ حِسَابَ الْأَغْنِيَاءِ۔ وَ عَجِبْتُ لِلْمُتَكَبِّرِ الَّذِى كَانَ بِالْأَمْسِ نُطْفَةً وَ يَكُونُ غَداً جِيفَةً وَ عَجِبْتُ لِمَنْ شَكَّ فِى اللَّهِ وَ هُوَ يَرَى خَلْقَ اللَّهِ وَ عَجِبْتُ لِمَنْ نَسِيَ الْمَوْتَ وَ هُوَ يَرَى الْمَوْتَى وَ عَجِبْتُ لِمَنْ أَنْكَرَ النَّشْأَةَ الْأُخْرَى وَ هُوَ يَرَى النَّشْأَةَ الْأُولَى وَ عَجِبْتُ لِعَامِرٍ دَارَ الْفَنَاءِ وَ تَارِكٍ دَارَ الْبَقَاءِ۔
I wonder at the miser who is speeding towards the very destitution from which he wants to run away and misses the very ease of life which he covets. Consequently, he passes his life in this world like the destitute, but will have to render an account in the next world like the rich. I wonder at the proud man who was just a drop of semen the other day and will turn into a corpse tomorrow. I wonder at the man who doubts Allah although he sees His creations. I wonder at him who has forgotten death although he sees people dying. I wonder at him who denies the second life although he has seen the first life. I wonder at him who inhabits this transient abode but ignores the everlasting abode.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #126)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. 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 expresses his astonishment at several types of individuals and their actions. Let us delve into the exegesis of this Hadith and explore its deeper meanings in light of the Quran.
Firstly, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) wonders at the miser who is so eager to escape poverty, yet fails to seize the opportunities for wealth and prosperity. This person is so consumed by their greed and fear of poverty that they miss out on the blessings and ease that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) has provided for them. They live their life in a state of destitution, constantly worrying about their wealth, while in the Hereafter, they will be held accountable for their actions just like the rich. This highlights the importance of balance and contentment in our pursuit of wealth, as excessive attachment to material possessions can lead to spiritual poverty.
The Quran supports this notion in Surah Al-Isra, verse 80, where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
And We send not the messengers except as bringers of good tidings and warners. So whoever believes and reforms - there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.
This verse reminds us that true prosperity lies in faith and righteousness, not in the accumulation of worldly possessions.
Secondly, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) expresses his astonishment at the proud and arrogant person who fails to recognize their own insignificance. This individual was once a mere drop of semen and will eventually turn into a lifeless corpse. Despite this reality, they continue to boast and display arrogance. This highlights the fleeting nature of worldly power and the importance of humility before Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
The Quran emphasizes the transitory nature of worldly life in Surah Al-Hadid, verse 20, where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
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. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.
Thirdly, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) expresses his astonishment at those who doubt the existence and power of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) despite witnessing His magnificent creations. These individuals fail to recognize the signs of Allah's existence and His divine wisdom evident in the world around them. They are blinded by their own skepticism and arrogance, denying the existence of the Creator.
The Quran provides numerous verses that encourage reflection upon the signs of Allah's creation. In Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 164, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.
This verse reminds us to ponder upon the natural world and recognize the presence and power of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
Fourthly, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) expresses his astonishment at those who forget about death despite witnessing the mortality of others. Death is an undeniable reality that surrounds us, yet some individuals choose to ignore it and live as if they are immortal. This forgetfulness leads to a neglect of preparing for the Hereafter and a focus solely on worldly pursuits.
The Quran reminds us of the certainty of death in Surah Al-Mulk, verse 2, where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
It is He who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed - and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.
This verse serves as a reminder that death is a natural part of life and should be contemplated upon in order to live a meaningful and purposeful existence.
Lastly, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) expresses his astonishment at those who deny the concept of resurrection despite witnessing the creation of the world. These individuals fail to recognize the divine power that brought them into existence in the first place. They ignore the signs of Allah's ability to create and recreate, dismissing the idea of a second life after death.
The Quran repeatedly emphasizes the concept of resurrection and the Day of Judgment. In Surah Al-Qiyamah, verses 3-4, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Does man think that We will not assemble his bones? Yes. [We are] Able [even] to proportion his fingertips.
These verses serve as a reminder that just as Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) created us from nothing, He is fully capable of resurrecting us after death.
In conclusion, this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the importance of balance, humility, faith, remembrance of death, and belief in the Hereafter. It serves as a reminder for Muslims to reflect upon their actions and priorities in this transient world. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to understand the deeper meanings of this Hadith and guide us on the path of righteousness.
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