The Prophet of Allah (a.s.) said to his companions, “ Tell me which of Allah’s Bounties is the first one?” Everyone made his guess about the bounties. Some said dainty food is the best Blessing, another said that the children, and more particularly the male child, are Allah’s best Bounty. Alas, when the Prophet (a.s.) was not satisfied with any of the replies, he asked Hazrat Ali (a.s.), “ O Ali! Tell me. Of the countless Bounties of Allah, which one is the best?!”
The Prophet’s Vicegerent said, “ O Prophet of Allah! You know better than me and whatever I know has been taught to me by you! But since you are ordering me to respond to your question, I am complying.
1. Of the Bounties of Allah, the best is the capability of invention. When there was nothing, He gave us the faculty of existence and observation.” The Prophet (a.s.) said, “ O Ali! You are right. Now, What is the next best Bounty?”
2. Hazrat Ali (a.s) said, “ The second Bounty is that Allah has not created us like the flora and the minerals ( mountains, rocks, trees etc ) but He has endowed us with spirit and animation.” The Prophet (a.s.) said, “ Verily! You are right. Tell me what is the third Bounty?”
3. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said, “ The third Bounty is that Allah has bestowed to the human-kind the best features of face and body” The Prophet (a.s.) said, “ You are right. What is the fourth Bounty?”
4. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said, “ The fourth Bounty is that Allah has gifted the human beings with the external and spiritual senses.” The Prophet (a.s.) rejoined, “ True. What is the fifth Bounty?”
5. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said, “ The fifth Bounty is that Allah has given intellect and wisdom to the human beings.” The Prophet (a.s.) said, “You are right. O Ali! What is the sixth Bounty?
6. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) replied, “ The sixth Bounty is that Allah has gifted to us the wealth of the True Faith and has not created us in ignorance.” The Prophet (a.s.) said, “ This too is true. What is the seventh Bounty? .
7. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said, “ The seventh Bounty is that Allah has bestowed us with immortal life in the Hereafter. The prophet (a.s) said, “ True! What is the eighth Bounty?”
8. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said, “ Allah has created us free and not slave to anyone.” The Prophet (a.s.) said, “ You are right. What is the ninth Bounty?”
9. Hazrat Ali (a.s) said, “ The ninth Bounty is that Allah has created the earth and the sky and all they contain for our benefit and gave us full control of these elements.” The Prophet (a.s) assented and asked,” What is the tenth Bounty?”
10. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) replied,” The tenth Bounty is that Allah has created us men and superior to women.” The Prophet (a.s.) asked” O Ali! Tell about more Bounties of Allah!”
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said, “ O Allah’s choicest of creations! The Bounties of Allah are uncountable. My entire life shall be insufficient to enumerate them..” The Prophet (a.s.) said, “ O Ali! Truly, you are the inheritor of the knowledge! Whosoever follows you will be on the Right Path. Your friends shall find Deliverance! Your enemies and adversaries shall be deprived of the rewards on the Day of Judgement!” Then he (a.s.) said, “ the way to achieve nearness of the Creator is to talk more of Him. The best prayer is the supplication of the pious person!” Hazrat Ali A.s.) said, “ I don’t worship Allah with the desire for the Heaven nor for the fear of the Hell! I Worship Him because I found Him deserving of Worship!”
This is the stage of Divine Understanding when even if the supplicant is sent to the Hell, he will continue with his supplication unmindful of the Hell Fire!
If someone questions that when at the height of piety Heaven and Hell have no relevance for the pious, then how is it that the prophets and the Infallible persons always expressed wish for the Heaven and deliverance from the Hell in their supplications?
The fact is that Heaven has different connotations in its intrinsic and apparent aspects. Its fruits, for example, have different tastes for different individuals to suit every individual palate. For some the taste might be just good and for the others because of their profound faith, there will be the feeling of spiritual happiness.
For example: If a king serves food to a commoner from his royal table, the person would relish the delicacies doubly because he is getting the honour of having food on the royal table and the food that is out of the ordinary for him. When the same food is served to a nobleman, he too would enjoy eating it. But it would not be anything out of the ordinary for him that he gets the same food every day on his own table. However he cherishes the honour of sharing the table with his monarch! The prophets too pray for the Heaven that it would enhance their status in the eyes of the Creator and not for any physical comfort! When they crave safety from the Hell, it is not from the fear of the Fire but to prevent themselves from the displeasure of Allah! Hazrat Ali (a.s.) has said in one of his supplications, “ O Creator! I can have forbearance when You punish me but how could I bear separation from You. The heat of the Fire of the Hell can be bearable for me but how could I bear the heat of the fire of separation from you! .
AINAL HAYAT by Allama Majlisi : CHAPTER 2 -THE STEPS 3 – CONDITIONS FOR PRAYERS