ALL PRAYERS AND NO WORK

A caravan of Hajis came from Makkah to Madina. Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq [a] lived in the city

of Madina. The Hajis decided to go to the Imam to pay their respects. They went to him

and saluted him. They were most welcomed. The Imam asked them to tell him about their

journey.

One of the travellers praised one of companions very much. He said that his companion

was very pious. He was sincere. He did not abuse anybody. He spent all his time praying.

The Imam asked:-

“What is he doing for his living? What work does he do?”

The traveller replied:-

“Sir, he does no work. He only prays.”

Again the Imam asked:

“Who was feeding his camel?”

The traveller replied:

“We used to do that Sir”

The Imam said: “He is not good. He must work. He should not put his burden upon others.

All you, those who worked for him, are more pious than him.”

Moral: One should work to earn his living and not to put our burden on others

Luqman-The Wise

Many, many years ago there lived a scholar called Luqman. 

But he was very wise. He was an African who was caught as a slave and sold in another country.Luqman was so wise and respected that a Surah in the Qur’an also is called by his name (Chapter 31).

He gave good advice to his children. His advice is equally good for all the children of the world even today. 

Once Luqman said to his son, “Oh son! Do not tie your heart in seeking the pleasure of people. You are not likely to succeed. Do not pay attention to what people say. Instead tell yourself always to seek the pleasure of God.”

Luqman wanted this lesson to be always remembered. Never to be forgotten. He thought of a way. He then told his son to ride a donkey. The son obeyed. The father followed behind on foot. They travelled in this way for some distance. After some distance they came across a group of people. Seeing the son on the donkey, one of them said,

“What an impolite and bad boy. The old father is walking on foot. The young son is comfortably riding on the donkey. This is no manner to show respect to one’s father”.

Father and son heard this. The son came down from the donkey. Luqman rode on the animal. After sometime they came across another group of people. On seeing the father riding the donkey, the elder of the group said,

“Oh you old man! This is not the way to bring up a son. You make him walk in the hot sun, while you sit comfortably on the donkey.”

Luqman paid attention to what the people said. He came down from the donkey. Both father and son walked on foot. The donkey walked in front. They went a little further. People seeing them, said,

“How foolish you are? You walk behind a donkey. Why don’t you ride it?”

Luqman and his son once again accepted what the people said. They both rode the donkey and went further. They came across a river. There was a bridge to be crossed. Some people were sitting there. They saw Luqman and his son riding the donkey.

One of them said, “It is very unkind and cruel of you two to ride on the poor donkey. The little animal can hardly take all your burden.”

So taking this advice Luqman and his son dismounted from the donkey. They travelled a little distance further. Looking very lovingly Luqman said to his son, “You have heard and seen what the people said. It must have assured you, by now, that whatever you do or whichever way you move, one is not able to please the people of the world.” He pointed at the flowing river and added,

A person can build a wall across the river. It will stop the flow of the water. But it is not possible to shut the mouth of the people from criticism.”

Very clearly, similar is the case in our world today. The tongue has no bone. It can speak even without thought. There are as many opinions as there are people in the world. It is very bad to find fault with the other person. Especially when he is doing something good.

A person can feel very hurt when he listens to all the tongues that talk loose. To avoid getting hurt by loose talk, a person can train himself. He can discipline himself to think.

By thinking he can know what is wrong and void. When a person is sure that what he is doing will please his Master, the Almighty Allah, then he must never worry what others speak 

TAQWA (PIETY)

The Reality of Taqwa

The word ‘Taqwa’ is derived from the root ‘waqaya’ which means ‘to safeguard’ or ‘to abstain’. In the Islamic terminology it is defined as the action of restraining oneself from disobeying the commands of Allah. When Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked to elaborate on the meaning of the word, ‘Taqwa’ he replied, “Submit to the command (of Allah) and do not go near the prohibited.” It means that one should endeavor to fulfill all the commands of Allah and abstain from the prohibited things. On the basis of this, Taqwa is classified into two types:
The first type of Taqwa consists of compulsory obedience to Allah in fulfilling the compulsory duties (wajibaat) and not leaving even a single duty unperformed. The obligatory commands (wajibaat) are those which, if not carried out, invite the wrath of Allah. Also, as far as possible one should try not to forgo the recommended acts (Mustahabbaat). The recommended acts are those, which if performed earn blessings but if not carried out do not make one liable for punishment.

Sin Obliterates the Good Deeds

Certain Greater Sins (Gunah-e-kabira) render the good deeds void, the details of which will follow in the coming discussions. In brief, it must be mentioned that to refrain from sins is more important than performing good deeds. The following narrations are quoted in support of this statement:

The Importance of Abstaining From the Prohibited

First Tradition

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
“To refrain from eating a single morsel of Haraam is, near Allah, more valued than the performance of two thousand rakats of recommended prayer.”
(Iddatud-Dai)

Second Tradition

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
“To forgo a single dirham of prohibited money, is equal near Allah, to seventy accepted Hajjs.”
(Iddatud-Dai)

Third Tradition

He continued:
“Strive more to perform good deeds. However if you cannot perform a good act (at least) do not disobey (the commands of Allah). Because if one lays the foundation of a building and does not spoil it, then, even if the progress is slow, the building will definitely rise. (Conversely) The person who lays the foundation and at the same time spoils it, then it is sure that the walls of this building will never be raised.”
(Iddatud-Dai, page 235)

Fourth Tradition

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
“For the person who recites ‘Subhanallah’, Allah plants a tree in Paradise.”

On hearing this a man from Quraish stood up and said, “If it is this way, then there must be many trees for us in the Paradise?” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,

“Yes, but you must beware that you don’t set fire from here to burn them all down.”
(Iddatud-Dai page 235)

Fifth Tradition

“Jealousy devours belief, like fire devours wood.”
(Usool-e-Kafi)

Ill-Gotten Wealth Burns Down The Acts of Worship

Sixth Tradition

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
“On the Day of Judgement there would be people whose good deeds will be as heavy as the mountains of Tahama. Inspite of this it would be ordered that they be tossed into the fire of Hell.”

Upon this someone said, “O! the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.), were these people performing salaat (prayers)?”,

“Yes, they used to pray, and fast, and also spend a part of the night in worship. But, whenever they chanced upon something which gave them pleasure, they used to rush to it without thinking whether it was right or wrong.”

Not Giving the Rights of the People
A Barrier for the Acceptance of Good Deeds

Seventh Tradition

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
“I have been commanded by Allah to warn my people and say, ‘Do not go from one mosque to another while someones rights are upon you. If such a person stands up for prayers in that condition, I send my curses upon him till he restores the rights to its owner.” (Iddatud-Dai page 236)

Eighth Tradition

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
“There is an angel of Allah who raises the call every night from ‘Baitul Muqaddas’: “Whoever partakes of the prohibited things, Allah does not accept any of his deeds be they obligatory or recommended.”
(Iddatud-Dai)

Good Deeds are Accepted Only if Accompanied by Piety.
(Abstinence From the Prohibited Things)

Ninth Tradition

“Even if you stand for prayers like a tent peg planted on the ground and keep fasting till you resemble a dried stick and stoop like a bow, Allah will not accept any of your deeds till you have the piety to guard against the evil deeds.”
(Iddatud-Dai)

Sin is a Barrier to the Acceptance of Invocation (Dua)

Tenth Tradition

Hazrat Musa (a.s.) passed by a person from his followers who was in prostration. After completing his chore Musa (a.s.) returned to find him still in prostration. He said, “If I had the power to grant your wish I would surely have granted it.” Allah revealed to Musa (a.s.) that, “Even if this man prostrates for Me till his head gets detached from his neck, I will not accept his deeds, till he abstains from that which I dislike and does that which pleases Me. Otherwise sin hinders the supplications from acceptance.”
(pg. 125 ibid)

Refraining From Sins is Genuine Worship

Eleventh Tradition

“Abstaining from sins is the basis of religion. Hence, refrain from sins in order to become the most pious worshipper. Adorn yourself with piety. Do not perform a single good deed without piety. Surely that deed is most acceptable by Allah which is accompanied by piety, even though it may be trifle. As Allah says, “Allah accepts the good deeds only from the pious people.”
(Iddatud-Dai)

Hence if you succeed in remaining aloof from sins, then even if your good deeds are paltry, they would be accepted by the Lord. And when the Lord of the Worlds accepts a deed it cannot be termed as trifle or paltry.

Avoidance of Sins is a Must:

Considering the tradition quoted above one is compelled to conclude that it is necessary to dread sinful acts and to be ever cautious of the vices. Only then are the good actions of any consequences. The good deeds must also be performed in such a manner that we strive to emulate as closely as possible the examples set by the high ideals of our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). It should not be that good actions are rendered null and void due to sins. It is necessary to be careful of such an impending loss and disaster for which we ourselves would be responsible.

Good Actions Could Be Blown Away Like Dust

Sulaiman bin Khalid says; ” I asked Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the Quranic verse

(And We will proceed to what they have done of deeds, so We shall render them as scattered floating dust.
(Surah Furqan 25:23)

He said,
“By Allah, even if their deeds are as white as Egyptian cotton, but if they find sin and lewdness they do not abstain from it.”
(Iddatud-Dai)

In other words, their good deeds are scattered like dust due to the lack of piety, and hence are of no value at all. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the explanation of this tradition, “Worship and obedience is rendered null due to sin.”

A Large Number of Pious People Will Enter Paradise

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
“Allah revealed to Hazrat Musa (a.s.), “Verily, My slave cannot achieve nearness to Me without the three things which I like.” Musa (a.s.) asked with reverance, “My Lord what are those three things?” Allah replied, “O! Musa those three things are: To practice piety in this world, to abstain from sins and to weep due to fear.” Musa (a.s.) asked, “Does one who fulfills the three things gets compensation and reward?” Allah replied, “One who practices piety in this world will get Paradise. One who weeps due to My fear will be accorded such a high position that no else would be able to reach it. The deeds of all the creatures shall be accounted. But one who abstains from that which I have forbidden, then accounting of his deeds will not be carried out; he would be admitted to Heaven directly.”

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