رَحِمَ اللّهُ امْرَءاً عَلِمَ أنَّ نَفَسَهُ خُطاهُ إلى أجَلِهِ، فبادَرَ عَمَلَهُ، وقَصَّرَ أمَلَهُ۔
May the mercy of Allah be on the person who understands that his [every] breath brings him a step closer to his death, so he hastens to [do] good deeds and shortens his hopes.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Ghurar al-Hikam: The Appointed Time Of Death)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his purified progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he invokes the mercy of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) upon those who possess a deep understanding of the transient nature of life. The Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the importance of recognizing that every breath we take brings us closer to our inevitable end, and thus, we must hasten to perform good deeds and shorten our hopes for worldly aspirations.
Let us delve into the key words of this hadith to gain a deeper understanding. The word (rahima) "رَحِمَ" means "mercy" and signifies the divine compassion and benevolence of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). (amra'an) "امْرَءً" refers to a person, emphasizing the universal applicability of this hadith to all individuals. (alima) "عَلِمَ" means "to understand" or "to know," highlighting the importance of knowledge and awareness in comprehending the true nature of life. (nafasahu) "نَفَسَهُ" refers to one's breath, symbolizing the passing of time and the fleeting nature of our existence. (khutah) "خُطاهُ" means "steps" or "footsteps," representing the progression towards our appointed time of death. (ajalih) "أجَلِهِ" refers to the appointed time of death, reminding us that our lives are limited and that death is an inevitable reality. (badara) "بادَرَ" means "to hasten" or "to rush," urging us to be proactive in performing good deeds. (amalahu) "عَمَلَهُ" refers to our actions and deeds, emphasizing the importance of righteous conduct. (qassara) "قَصَّرَ" means "to shorten" or "to reduce," encouraging us to minimize our hopes and aspirations for worldly gains.
To further understand the wisdom behind this hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Asr (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 ayah emphasizes the fleeting nature of time and the urgency to engage in righteous actions. It reminds us that the true success lies in faith, good deeds, and encouraging one another towards truth and patience.
In Surah Al-Mu'minun (23:99-100), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Until, when death comes to one of them, he says, 'My Lord, send me back that I might do righteousness in that which I left behind.' No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected.
This verse highlights the regret of those who realize the importance of good deeds only when faced with death. It serves as a reminder that we should not delay in performing righteous actions, as we do not know when our time will come.
The hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) urges us to reflect on the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death. It serves as a motivation for us to be proactive in performing good deeds and seeking the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). By recognizing the brevity of life, we are inspired to prioritize our actions and focus on the hereafter rather than being consumed by worldly pursuits. This hadith encourages us to live a purposeful life, constantly striving to improve ourselves and benefit others.
The consequences of understanding and implementing this hadith are profound. It instills a sense of urgency and responsibility within us, reminding us that our time in this world is limited. By hastening to perform good deeds, we not only secure our own salvation but also contribute to the betterment of society. It helps us develop a mindset of selflessness, compassion, and service to others. Moreover, by shortening our hopes for worldly gains, we detach ourselves from the materialistic aspects of life and focus on attaining the eternal rewards of the hereafter.
In conclusion, the hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a profound reminder of the transient nature of life and the importance of hastening to perform good deeds. It calls upon us to reflect on the brevity of our existence and prioritize our actions accordingly. By understanding and implementing the teachings of this hadith, we can lead purposeful lives, seeking the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and striving for eternal success. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom and strength to internalize these teachings and live in accordance with them.
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