وَ قِيلَ لَهُ عليه السلام: كَيْفَ نَجِدُكَ يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فَقَالَ ع: كَيْفَ يَكُونُ حَالُ مَنْ يَفْنَى بِبَقَائِهِ وَ يَسْقَمُ بِصِحَّتِهِ وَ يُؤْتَى مِنْ مَأْمَنِهِ۔
Someone asked: How are you, O Amir al-mu'minin? and he replied: How can he be whom life is driving towards death, whose state of healthiness can change into sickness any moment and who is to be caught (by death) from his place of safety.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #115)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he was asked about his state and he responded by highlighting the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death. Let us delve into the deeper meaning of this Hadith in light of the Quran.
The first important word in this Hadith is (najiduka) "نَجِدُكَ", which means "How are you?" or
What is your condition?
This word signifies the concern of the person towards Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and his well-being. It reflects the human tendency to inquire about the state of others and show empathy.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) responds by saying (kayfa yakoonu halu man yafna bi baqaihi)
كَيْفَ يَكُونُ حَالُ مَنْ يَفْنَى بِبَقَائِهِ
which translates to
How can he be whom life is driving towards death?
This phrase emphasizes the transient nature of life and the certainty of death. It highlights the fact that every living being is constantly moving closer to their inevitable end.
The second important word is (yasqamu) "يَسْقَمُ", which means "to become sick" or
to change from a state of healthiness to sickness.
This word signifies the unpredictability of health and the vulnerability of human beings. It reminds us that our physical well-being can change at any moment, and we should not take our health for granted.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) further states (wa yu'ta min ma'manihi)
وَ يُؤْتَى مِنْ مَأْمَنِهِ
and who is to be caught (by death) from his place of safety.
This phrase highlights the fact that death can come to anyone, regardless of their perceived safety or security. It serves as a reminder that no one can escape the grasp of death, and we should always be prepared for its arrival.
To understand the deeper meaning of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Imran (3:185):
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 affirms the inevitability of death for every soul and emphasizes the importance of preparing for the Hereafter. It reminds us that the true reward and compensation for our deeds will be given on the Day of Resurrection. The life of this world is merely a temporary enjoyment, and we should not be deluded by its attractions.
Another relevant verse is found 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 reminds us that life and death are part of Allah's divine plan to test us and determine who among us is best in deeds. It reinforces the idea that our ultimate success lies in our actions and our relationship with Allah.
Reflecting on this Hadith and the supporting Quranic verses, we are reminded of the transient nature of life and the certainty of death. It serves as a wake-up call for us to prioritize our spiritual well-being and prepare for the Hereafter. We should not become complacent in our worldly pursuits, but rather strive to excel in our deeds and seek the pleasure of Allah.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), known for his profound knowledge and wisdom, beautifully encapsulates the reality of our existence in this concise response. His words serve as a timeless reminder for all Muslims to reflect upon the fleeting nature of life and the importance of preparing for the eternal life to come.
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom to understand the deeper meanings of such profound Hadiths and the ability to apply their teachings in our lives. May He guide us on the straight path and grant us success in this world and the Hereafter.
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