إِذَا حُيِّيْتَ بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيِّ بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا، وإِذَا أُسْدِيَتْ إِلَيْكَ يَدٌ فَكَافِئْهَا بِمَا يُرْبِي عَلَيْهَا، وَالْفَضْلُ مَعَ ذلِكَ لِلْبَادِىءِ۔
If you are met with a greeting, give better greetings in return. If a hand of help is extended to you, do a better favour in return, although the credit would remain with the one who was first.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #62)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure Ahl al-Bayt, and his noble companions.
The provided Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the importance of responding to greetings and acts of kindness with even better greetings and favors. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advises us to go beyond what is expected and to excel in our responses, as the credit remains with the one who initiated the greeting or act of kindness.
Let us delve into the deeper meaning of this Hadith by examining its key words and their implications. The word (tahiyyah) "تَحِيَّةٍ" refers to a greeting or salutation, while (ahsan) "أَحْسَنَ" means better or best. The word (usdiyat) "أُسْدِيَتْ" comes from the root (sada) "سدى", which means to extend or offer. (kafi'ha) "كَافِئْهَا" means to reciprocate or repay, and (yurbi) "يُرْبِي" means to increase or enhance.
To understand the significance of this Hadith, we can turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) repeatedly emphasizes the importance of responding to greetings and acts of kindness in a better manner. In Surah An-Nisa (4:86), Allah says,
And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner].
This verse reinforces the idea that responding to greetings with better greetings is not only recommended but also a form of good manners and righteousness.
Furthermore, the Quran encourages us to repay acts of kindness with even greater favors. In Surah Al-Baqarah (2:195), Allah says,
And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.
This verse emphasizes the importance of responding to acts of help and support by going above and beyond, as it is a manifestation of gratitude and righteousness.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advice in this Hadith serves as a reminder for Muslims to embody the highest moral and ethical standards in their interactions with others. By responding to greetings and acts of kindness with even better ones, we not only uphold the teachings of Islam but also foster a culture of kindness, generosity, and goodwill.
The motivation behind Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advice lies in the desire to create a harmonious and compassionate society. When we respond to greetings and acts of kindness in a better manner, we contribute to the overall well-being of our communities. Our positive responses can uplift the spirits of others, strengthen bonds, and promote a culture of mutual respect and appreciation.
Conversely, neglecting or responding inadequately to greetings and acts of kindness can have negative consequences. It may lead to misunderstandings, strained relationships, and a breakdown in social cohesion. By following Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) advice, we can avoid such pitfalls and contribute to the development of a more compassionate and united Muslim community.
Reflecting on this Hadith, we are reminded of the immense knowledge and wisdom possessed by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). His deep understanding of human nature and his ability to provide practical guidance based on Quranic principles is a testament to his exceptional qualities as a leader and scholar. As Muslims, we should strive to emulate his teachings and incorporate them into our daily lives.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the importance of responding to greetings and acts of kindness with even better greetings and favors. By doing so, we uphold the teachings of Islam, foster harmonious relationships, and contribute to the betterment of our communities. Let us strive to embody the noble qualities exemplified by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and follow his guidance in our interactions with others. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the ability to practice this Hadith in our daily lives and earn His pleasure.
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