أَفْضَلُ الاْعْمَالِ مَا أَكْرَهْتَ نَفْسَكَ عَلَيْهِ۔

The best act is that which you have to force yourself to do.



The best act is that which you have to force yourself to do.

— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #249)

Personal Reflection

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.

The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,

The best act is that which you have to force yourself to do.

This impactful Hadith emphasizes the significance of performing acts of worship that require effort and struggle. Let us delve deeper into the meaning of this Hadith in light of the Quran.

The key words in this Hadith are (best) "afdal", (act) "a'mal", (force yourself) "akrah-ta", and (yourself) "nafsak". The word "afdal" denotes the highest level of excellence and superiority. It implies that the act being referred to is not just good or commendable, but it surpasses all other acts in terms of its virtue and reward. The word "a'mal" encompasses all types of actions, including acts of worship, moral conduct, and deeds that benefit others.

The phrase "akrah-ta nafsak" means to compel or force oneself to do something. It implies that the act is not easy or natural for an individual, and it requires a conscious effort to overcome personal inclinations or desires. This highlights the importance of self-discipline and self-control in the path of righteousness.

To understand the deeper meaning of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 177:

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.

This verse highlights the importance of performing acts of righteousness, even if they require effort and sacrifice. It emphasizes that true righteousness is not merely in external rituals or appearances, but it lies in sincere belief and the practical manifestation of that belief through acts of worship and kindness towards others.

Another verse that supports the exegesis of this Hadith is found in Surah Al-Insan (76:8-9):

And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], 'We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.'

This verse highlights the act of giving food to those in need, even if one has an attachment to it. It demonstrates the idea that performing acts of charity and kindness, despite personal inclinations or desires, is a sign of true devotion and righteousness.

The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a reminder for Muslims to strive for excellence in their actions. It encourages us to go beyond the minimum requirements and to push ourselves to perform acts of worship and kindness that may be challenging or uncomfortable. By doing so, we demonstrate our sincerity and dedication to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and His commandments.

For example, waking up for the pre-dawn prayer (Fajr) requires effort and self-discipline, especially during the winter months when the nights are longer. However, by forcing ourselves to wake up and perform this act of worship, we demonstrate our commitment to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and our willingness to go above and beyond in our devotion.

Similarly, refraining from backbiting or controlling our anger in difficult situations may require us to force ourselves to overcome our natural inclinations. However, by doing so, we exemplify the teachings of Islam and strive to attain the highest level of righteousness.

In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) reminds us that the best acts are those that require us to exert effort and force ourselves to do them. It encourages us to surpass our comfort zones and strive for excellence in our worship and moral conduct. By doing so, we demonstrate our sincerity and dedication to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and seek His pleasure. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the strength and motivation to perform acts of worship that are pleasing to Him.

. : . (Readers are advised to verify the sources mentioned above, and to independently research for an accurate understanding of Hadith. Remember, personal research and seeking guidance from scholars are essential in gaining a better insight. Please, do contact us if you find any wrong citations or explanations.)

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