إِنَّ أَخْسَرَ النَّاسِ صَفْقَةً وَأَخْيَبَهُمْ سَعْياً، رَجُلٌ أَخْلَقَ بَدَنَهُ فِي طَلَبِ آمَالِهِ، وَلَمْ تُسَاعِدْهُ الْمَقَادِيرُ عَلَى إِرَادَتِهِ، فَخَرَجَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا بِحَسْرَتِهِ، وَقَدِمَ عَلَى الاْخِرَةِ بِتَبِعَتِهِ۔
The worst in (concluding a) transaction and the most unsuccessful in striving, is the man who exerts himself in seeking riches although fate does not help him in his aims and consequently he goes from this world in a sorrowful state while in the next world too he will face its ill consequences.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #430)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his righteous companions.
In this profound hadith, Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the consequences of a person who tirelessly pursues worldly wealth and success without considering the guidance of fate and the consequences of their actions. The Imam describes such an individual as the worst in concluding a transaction and the most unsuccessful in striving.
Let us delve deeper into the words used in this hadith to gain a better understanding. The word (safqah) "صَفْقَةً" refers to a transaction or a deal, while (sa'yan) "سَعْياً" refers to striving or exerting effort. The Imam emphasizes that the person who engages in these activities with the wrong intentions and without considering the guidance of fate is bound to face negative outcomes both in this world and the hereafter.
To support the exegesis of this hadith, we can turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) reminds us in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 200:
And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance.
This verse highlights the importance of remembering Allah and seeking His guidance in all our endeavors, including transactions and striving for success. When we neglect this remembrance and solely focus on material gains, we risk losing sight of our true purpose and the consequences of our actions.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Kahf, verse 46, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns us:
Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one's] hope.
This verse reminds us that worldly possessions and success are temporary and fleeting, while the good deeds we perform for the sake of Allah are what truly matter and have everlasting rewards.
Now, let us reflect on the wise message conveyed by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) in this hadith. The Imam highlights the futility of exerting oneself solely for the pursuit of material wealth and success, without considering the guidance of fate and the consequences of one's actions. Such a person may appear successful in the eyes of the world, but they will ultimately find themselves in a state of sorrow and regret in this world and face the ill consequences in the hereafter.
Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the importance of aligning our intentions and actions with the guidance of Allah. We should strive for success and seek wealth, but not at the expense of our spiritual well-being and the neglect of our duties towards Allah and our fellow human beings. True success lies in striking a balance between worldly pursuits and spiritual growth, always seeking the pleasure of Allah in our endeavors.
In conclusion, this hadith serves as a powerful reminder for Muslims to reflect upon their intentions and actions. We should strive for success and seek wealth, but not at the cost of neglecting our spiritual well-being and the guidance of Allah. May Allah guide us to the right path and grant us success in both this world and the hereafter.
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