أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، اتّقُوا اللهَ الَّذِي إِنْ قُلْتُمْ سمِعَ، وَإِنْ أَضْمَرْتُمْ عَلِمَ، وَبَادِرُوا الْمَوْتَ الَّذِي إِنْ هَرَبْتُمْ أَدْرَكَكُمْ، وَإِنْ أَقَمْتُمْ أَخَذَكُمْ، وَإِنْ نَسِيتُمُوهُ ذَكَرَكُمْ۔
O people, fear Allah Who is such that when you speak He hears and when you conceal (a secret) He knows it. Prepare yourself to meet death which will overtake you even if you run away, catch you even if you stay and remember you even if you forget it.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #203)
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 purified progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound hadith, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advises the Muslims to fear Allah and be conscious of His presence in every aspect of their lives. He begins by reminding us that Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. This means that Allah hears everything we say, whether it is spoken openly or whispered secretly. He is also aware of our innermost thoughts and intentions. Therefore, we should be mindful of our words and actions, knowing that nothing is hidden from Allah.
The Imam then urges us to prepare ourselves for death, which is an inevitable reality that will overtake us no matter how much we try to escape it. Death is a certainty that will catch up to us, regardless of our attempts to avoid it. It is a reminder that our time in this world is limited, and we must make the most of it by striving to do good deeds and seeking Allah's pleasure.
To support the exegesis of this hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah says in Surah Al-Mulk (67:2),
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 emphasizes the purpose of our existence, which is to strive for righteousness and excellence in our actions. Death serves as a reminder of this purpose and motivates us to make the most of our time in this world.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Imran (3:185), Allah 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 reminds us that death is a reality that every soul will face, and it is only in the Hereafter that the true consequences of our actions will be revealed. The life of this world is temporary and fleeting, and it is only through preparation for the Hereafter that we can attain true success.
Reflecting on this hadith, we can see the profound wisdom and guidance it offers. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), known for his deep knowledge and understanding of Islam, reminds us of the importance of being mindful of Allah's presence in our lives. He encourages us to be conscious of our words and actions, knowing that Allah hears and knows everything. This awareness should guide us in striving for righteousness and avoiding sinful behavior.
Additionally, the Imam's reminder to prepare for death serves as a wake-up call. It urges us to reflect on the purpose of our existence and to prioritize our actions accordingly. We should not be deceived by the temporary pleasures of this world but instead focus on building a strong relationship with Allah and seeking His pleasure.
In conclusion, this hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a powerful reminder for Muslims to be conscious of Allah's presence, to strive for righteousness, and to prepare for the inevitable reality of death. It calls us to reflect on the purpose of our existence and to prioritize our actions accordingly. May Allah grant us the ability to implement the teachings of this hadith in our lives and to attain success in this world and the Hereafter.
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