الإيثارُ سَجِيَّةُ الأبْرارِ، وَشيمَةُ الأَخيارِ۔
Self-sacrifice is a trait of the virtuous and a quality of the righteous.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Ghurar al-Hikam: Self-Sacrifice)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. Peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The provided Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the importance of self-sacrifice, describing it as a trait of the virtuous and a quality of the righteous. To understand the depth and significance of this statement, let us delve into the meanings of the key words in this Hadith.
The word (i'thar) "إيثار" refers to self-sacrifice or preferring others over oneself. It is an act of giving priority to the needs and well-being of others, even if it means sacrificing one's own desires or interests. This selflessness is a noble characteristic that reflects the highest level of moral excellence.
The word (sajiyyatu) "سَجِيَّةُ" means trait or characteristic. It signifies that self-sacrifice is not just an occasional act, but rather a consistent and inherent quality of the virtuous individuals. It is a defining feature that distinguishes them from others.
The word (abrar) "أبْرارِ" refers to the virtuous or righteous individuals. These are the people who consistently strive to do good and follow the path of righteousness. They are those who fulfill their obligations towards Allah and His creation, seeking His pleasure in all their actions.
The word (shimatu) "شيمَةُ" means quality or attribute. It highlights that self-sacrifice is not only a trait of the virtuous, but also a quality that sets apart the righteous individuals. It is a mark of their character and a reflection of their devotion to Allah and their fellow human beings.
To further understand the significance of self-sacrifice, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Hashr (59:9):
And [also for] those who were settled in the Home [i.e., Al-Madinah] 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 selflessness and generosity of the Ansar (the residents of Madinah) towards the Muhajirun (the emigrants from Makkah). Despite their own limited resources, the Ansar preferred the needs of the Muhajirun over their own, displaying the essence of self-sacrifice. This act of i'thar was highly praised by Allah, as it demonstrated their sincerity and devotion to the cause of Islam.
Another example of self-sacrifice can be found in the story of Prophet Ibrahim (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) when he was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). Ibrahim (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) willingly submitted to the command of Allah, demonstrating his utmost devotion and willingness to sacrifice that which was most dear to him. This act of self-sacrifice serves as a profound example for all Muslims, highlighting the importance of prioritizing the will of Allah over our own desires.
The consequences of self-sacrifice are far-reaching and profound. When individuals prioritize the needs of others and sacrifice their own interests, it fosters a sense of unity, compassion, and harmony within the community. It strengthens the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, and creates an environment of love and mutual support. Moreover, self-sacrifice is a means of purifying the soul and attaining closeness to Allah. It is an act of worship that brings immense reward and blessings in this world and the hereafter.
Reflecting on the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), we are reminded of the importance of selflessness and putting the needs of others before our own. It calls upon us to embody the spirit of i'thar in our daily lives, seeking opportunities to serve and support our fellow Muslims. By doing so, we not only follow in the footsteps of the virtuous and righteous, but also fulfill the teachings of the Quran and the noble example set by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and his purified progeny.
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the ability to practice self-sacrifice and emulate the noble qualities of the virtuous and righteous. May He bless us with the strength to prioritize the needs of others and strive for the betterment of our communities. Ameen.
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