آلَةُ الرِّيَاسَةِ سَعَةُ الصَّدْرِ۔

The means to secure high authority is breadth of chest (i.e., generosity).



The means to secure high authority is breadth of chest (i.e., generosity).

— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #176)

Personal Reflection

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.

The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,

The means to secure high authority is breadth of chest (i.e., generosity).

This Hadith emphasizes the importance of generosity as a means to attain and maintain positions of leadership and authority. To fully understand the profound wisdom behind this statement, let us delve into the meanings of the key words in this Hadith.

The word (ala) "آلَةُ" in Arabic refers to the means or instrument used to achieve a certain goal. In this context, it signifies the means to secure high authority. The word (riyasa) "الرِّيَاسَةِ" refers to leadership or authority. It encompasses positions of power and influence. Lastly, the phrase (sa'atu as-sadr) "سَعَةُ الصَّدْرِ" translates to "breadth of chest." It metaphorically represents generosity, openness, and magnanimity.

To further elucidate the significance of generosity in attaining high authority, we turn to the Quran. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Hashr (59:9),

And [also for] those who were settled in the Home (i.e., Medina) and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful.

This verse highlights the virtue of the Ansar (the Helpers) in Medina who welcomed and supported the Muhajirun (the Emigrants) from Mecca. Despite their own limited resources, the Ansar displayed immense generosity and selflessness. They preferred the needs of the Muhajirun over their own, exemplifying the breadth of chest mentioned in the Hadith. This act of generosity not only earned them the love and respect of the Muhajirun but also solidified their position of authority and leadership within the Muslim community.

Another verse that reinforces the importance of generosity is found in Surah Al-Insan (76:8-9), where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) describes the righteous believers, saying,

And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], 'We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.'

This verse emphasizes the selflessness of the believers in providing sustenance to those in need. Their generosity is not driven by personal gain or recognition but solely for the sake of pleasing Allah. By practicing such generosity, they not only fulfill their duty towards their fellow human beings but also establish themselves as leaders and role models within their communities.

The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) teaches us that true leadership is not merely about holding a position of authority but about embodying qualities such as generosity, compassion, and selflessness. When leaders possess a breadth of chest, they are able to empathize with the needs of those they govern and act in their best interests. This fosters trust, respect, and loyalty among the people, enabling the leader to effectively guide and govern.

Furthermore, the Hadith encourages individuals aspiring to leadership roles to cultivate the virtue of generosity within themselves. By being open-hearted and magnanimous, they not only attract the support and admiration of others but also gain the necessary skills and qualities to effectively lead and make wise decisions.

In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the importance of generosity as a means to secure high authority. It teaches us that true leadership is not attained through coercion or manipulation but through the breadth of chest, which signifies generosity, openness, and magnanimity. By embodying these qualities, leaders can inspire trust, respect, and loyalty among their followers, enabling them to effectively govern and guide their communities. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to understand and implement the teachings of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) in our lives.

. : . (Readers are advised to verify the sources mentioned above, and to independently research for an accurate understanding of Hadith. Remember, personal research and seeking guidance from scholars are essential in gaining a better insight. Please, do contact us if you find any wrong citations or explanations.)

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