يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّى أَخَافُ عَلَيْكَ الْفَقْرَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنْهُ فَإِنَّ الْفَقْرَ مَنْقَصَةٌ لِلدِّينِ مَدْهَشَةٌ لِلْعَقْلِ دَاعِيَةٌ لِلْمَقْتِ۔
O my son, I fear lest destitution overtakes you. So, you should seek Allah's protection from it, because destitution is deficiency of religious belief, perplexity of intelligence, and it is conducive to hatred of obstinate people.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #319)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound hadith, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) expresses his concern for his son and advises him to seek Allah's protection from destitution. Let us delve into the deeper meaning of this hadith and explore its implications in light of the Quran.
The word (faqr) "فَقْرَ" in Arabic refers to destitution or poverty. It signifies a state of lacking material resources and being in need. The Imam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) expresses his fear that his son may fall into this state, highlighting the importance of seeking Allah's protection from it.
To understand the significance of this advice, we can turn to the Quran. In Surah Al-Hadid, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says, (57:26)
And We sent messengers before you and appointed for them wives and descendants. And it was not for a messenger to come with a sign except by permission of Allah. For every term is a decree. Allah eliminates what He wills or confirms, and with Him is the Mother of the Book.
This verse reminds us that Allah is the ultimate provider and sustainer. He has the power to grant wealth or poverty to whomever He wills. Therefore, seeking protection from destitution is an acknowledgement of our dependence on Allah and a recognition of His control over our sustenance.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) further explains that destitution is not merely a lack of material resources, but it also has spiritual and intellectual consequences. He describes it as a
deficiency of religious belief, perplexity of intelligence, and conducive to hatred of obstinate people.
This profound insight highlights the multidimensional impact of destitution. When a person is consumed by the worries of poverty, it becomes difficult for them to focus on matters of faith. The constant struggle for survival can overshadow their spiritual growth and weaken their connection with Allah. This is why seeking protection from destitution is crucial for the preservation of one's religious belief.
Furthermore, destitution can also lead to perplexity of intelligence. When a person is constantly preoccupied with meeting their basic needs, it becomes challenging to engage in intellectual pursuits and develop one's mental faculties. The lack of resources and opportunities can hinder the individual's ability to think critically and make informed decisions.
Lastly, destitution can be conducive to hatred of obstinate people. When someone is in a state of poverty, they may become resentful towards those who possess wealth and power. This resentment can breed animosity and a negative outlook towards society. Seeking protection from destitution helps safeguard against such negative emotions and promotes a mindset of gratitude and contentment.
To further emphasize the importance of seeking Allah's protection from destitution, we can refer to Surah Al-Isra, where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says, (17:28)
And do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to [some] categories of the disbelievers, and do not grieve over them. And lower your wing to the believers.
This verse reminds us to be content with what Allah has provided for us and not to envy the material possessions of others. Seeking protection from destitution helps us cultivate a sense of contentment and gratitude for the blessings we have, rather than being consumed by the desire for more.
In conclusion, the hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) serves as a profound reminder for Muslims to seek Allah's protection from destitution. It highlights the multidimensional impact of poverty on one's religious belief, intellectual capacity, and emotional well-being. By recognizing our dependence on Allah and seeking His protection, we can strive for a balanced and fulfilling life, free from the negative consequences of destitution. May Allah protect us all from the trials of poverty and grant us contentment and gratitude in all circumstances.
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