قُرِنَتِ الْهَيْبَةُ بِالْخَيْبَةِ وَالْحَيَاءُ بِالْحِرْمَانِ وَالْفُرْصَةُ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ، فَانْتَهِزُوا فُرَصَ الْخَيْرِ۔
The consequence of fear is disappointment and of bashfulness is frustration. Opportunity passes away like the cloud. Therefore, make use of good opportunities.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #21)
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 righteous companions.
In this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he highlights the consequences of fear and bashfulness, and emphasizes the importance of seizing good opportunities. Let us delve into the exegesis of this Hadith, exploring its meanings and implications in light of the Quran.
The Hadith begins by stating,
The consequence of fear is disappointment.
Here, the word (الهيبة) "fear" refers to a feeling of apprehension or anxiety. It is a natural human emotion that can sometimes hinder our progress and prevent us from achieving our goals. When we allow fear to control us, it leads to disappointment and regret. We become paralyzed by our fears, unable to take the necessary steps towards success and growth.
Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) addresses the issue of fear in the Quran, providing guidance and reassurance to the believers. In Surah Al-Imran, Allah says, (Quran 3:139)
So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers
This verse reminds us that true believers should not let fear weaken them or cause them grief. Instead, they should trust in Allah's plan and have confidence in their abilities.
The Hadith continues,
and of bashfulness is frustration.
Here, the word (الحياء) "bashfulness" refers to a sense of shyness or modesty. While modesty is a praiseworthy trait, excessive bashfulness can hinder our progress and prevent us from speaking up or taking action when necessary. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) warns us that if we allow our bashfulness to control us, it will lead to frustration and missed opportunities.
In the Quran, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) encourages believers to be confident and assertive when it comes to matters of righteousness. In Surah Al-Hujurat, Allah says, (Quran 49:1)
O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing
This verse reminds us that while we should be respectful and humble, we should not let our bashfulness prevent us from fulfilling our duties and standing up for what is right.
The Hadith further states,
Opportunity passes away like the cloud. Therefore, make use of good opportunities.
Here, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the transient nature of opportunities. Just as a cloud passes by quickly, opportunities come and go in our lives. If we fail to seize these opportunities, we may miss out on blessings and potential growth.
The Quran repeatedly emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and making the most of them. In Surah Al-Asr, Allah says, (Quran 103:1-3)
By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience
This verse reminds us of the fleeting nature of time and the need to utilize it wisely. It encourages us to engage in righteous deeds and to support and advise one another in the pursuit of truth and patience.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) impactful words in this Hadith serve as a reminder for Muslims to overcome their fears, to strike a balance between modesty and assertiveness, and to seize the opportunities that come their way. By doing so, we can overcome disappointment and frustration, and strive towards personal and spiritual growth.
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the courage to overcome our fears, the wisdom to strike a balance in our actions, and the awareness to seize the opportunities that lead to success and righteousness. Ameen.
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