ازْهَدْ فِي الدُّنْيَا يُبَصّرْكَ اللهُ عَوْرَاتِهَا، وَلاَ تَغْفُلْ فَلَسْتَ بِمَغْفُولٍ عَنْكَ۔
Abstain from the world so that Allah may show you its real evils and do not be neglectful because (in any case) you will not be neglected.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #391)
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) emphasizes the importance of detachment from the materialistic world. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), known for his profound knowledge and wisdom, advises Muslims to abstain from the worldly desires and attractions. Let us delve deeper into the words of this Hadith to understand its significance in light of the Quran.
The first important word in this Hadith is (azhad) "ازْهَدْ", which means "abstain" or "detach oneself." It refers to the act of refraining from excessive attachment to worldly possessions, wealth, and desires. This detachment allows one to focus on the true purpose of life and attain spiritual growth.
The second important word is (ad-dunya) "الدُّنْيَا", which refers to the temporal world and its materialistic aspects. It encompasses everything that is transient and perishable, including wealth, power, and worldly pleasures. The Quran repeatedly reminds us of the fleeting nature of this world and urges believers to prioritize the eternal life hereafter.
To support the exegesis of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran. 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.
This verse highlights the temporary nature of worldly pursuits and warns against becoming engrossed in them. It reminds us that the true purpose of life is to seek the pleasure of Allah and prepare for the everlasting life in the Hereafter.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) further advises, (yubassirka Allah 'awrataha) "يُبَصّرْكَ اللهُ عَوْرَاتِهَا", which translates to
so that Allah may show you its real evils.
This part of the Hadith emphasizes that detachment from the world enables one to see the true nature of its temptations and pitfalls. When we distance ourselves from the distractions of this world, we gain clarity and insight into the deceptive nature of worldly pleasures.
The Quran provides us with numerous examples of the consequences of being attached to the materialistic world. In Surah Al-Imran (3:14), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns,
Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.
This verse reminds us that worldly possessions and desires may appear attractive, but they are merely temporary enjoyments. The true reward lies with Allah in the Hereafter. By detaching ourselves from the world, we gain a deeper understanding of its transitory nature and the importance of focusing on the eternal rewards promised by Allah.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) concludes the Hadith by stating, (wala taghful fasta bi-maghfulin 'anka)
وَلاَ تَغْفُلْ فَلَسْتَ بِمَغْفُولٍ عَنْكَ
and do not be neglectful because (in any case) you will not be neglected.
This part of the Hadith serves as a reminder that regardless of our attachment or detachment from the world, Allah is always aware of our actions and intentions.
The Quran affirms this in Surah Al-An'am (6:59), where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) states,
And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.
This verse assures us that Allah's knowledge encompasses everything, whether apparent or hidden. Therefore, we should never be neglectful of our actions, as Allah is fully aware of our deeds and intentions.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) urges Muslims to detach themselves from the materialistic world and its attractions. By abstaining from excessive attachment to worldly possessions, we gain insight into the true nature of its temptations and pitfalls. The Quran supports this exegesis by reminding us of the temporary nature of worldly pursuits and the importance of prioritizing the eternal life hereafter. Furthermore, the Hadith serves as a reminder that regardless of our attachment or detachment from the world, Allah is always aware of our actions and intentions. May we strive to follow the teachings of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and seek the pleasure of Allah in all aspects of our lives.
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