The second Greater Sin is to despair of the Mercy of Allah. "Al-yaa-so Min Roohallah" (To despair of the Rooh of Allah) Rooh: according to the dictionary means a breeze that pleases and comforts. Those who do not believe in the Power, the Mercy and Bounty of Allah, develop a kind of despair. The Holy Quran has termed such people as Unbelievers (Kafir).
"...and despair not of Allah's Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah's Mercy except the unbelieving people."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)
The Holy Imams, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.), Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have classified "despairing of the Mercy of Allah", to be a Greater Sin; as we have mentioned at the beginning.
The Greatest Sin After 'Shirk'
After 'shirk' no sin could be greater than to despair of Allah's mercy and benevolence. This attitude reduces a person to a state of utter hopelessness. He imagines himself to be destined for Hell, and therefore he sees no benefit in doing good and avoiding evil. Consequently he tries to achieve as much worldly pleasure as possible and thus gets further involved in all kinds of sinful acts. Any other type of sinner could be pardoned if he repents. But the one who despairs does not deserve to be pardoned because the mental condition of such a person does not lead him towards repentance, but instead, induces him to continue to commit further acts of transgression against Allah's commands.
Hence it means that despair is the greatest of the sins. It is appropriate therefore that all the different varieties of despair may be explained and also their cures, so that the believers can keep themselves away from them.
The Almighty Allah has created a cause of all the phenomena of this world by His unlimited power and absolute strength. For example, in the physical affairs food is needed for satiation of hunger, water for quenching thirst, doctor and medicine for curing diseases and work for removing poverty.
In the same way the spiritual phenomena also depend upon various causes. The salvation of a sinner depends upon his repentance, the achievement of absolute belief needs the guidance of an infallible guide (Imam), and the attainment of grades in piety and the high stages of the hereafter depend upon the purity of intention in the deeds performed. The aim of creating man was to make him think and recognise Allah in the proper way. But the thorough recognition or belief is not possible till man realises that the Creator of causes as well as effects is Allah. The causes by themselves cannot bring out an effect till the One who has created these causes gives the capability to the cause to bring out such effect. Therefore one should not be pleased at the apparent causes or be aggrieved due to their absence.
Cause is Not Independent
When causes that would fulfill needs or desires appear, man becomes happy and he believes in the Might of Allah. But when these causes fail to have any effect he becomes sorrowful. In order to avoid such a situation Allah has laid down a procedure. Firstly he renders the causes ineffective so that the believer may not consider these to be originally having the effective properties. On the other hand he creates the factors which were hereto non-existent, so that the believing people may not fall into despair. A few examples are mentioned to explain this fact.
Fire Did Not Burn - Knife Did Not Cut
The fire ignited by the order of Namrood to burn Ibrahim (a.s.) was made bereft of its burning property, by Allah. It is said, that the fire was so intense that birds flying at a height of three miles used to be scorched by the heat and drop dead.
So they threw Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) into the fire with the help of a catapult from far away. In the Holy Quran Allah says:
"We said: O fire! be coolness and peace to Ibrahim."
(Surah Anbiya 21:69)
The fire immediately lost its essential property of burning, and cooled down; and if Allah had not ordered it to be peaceful (safe) for Ibrahim (a.s.) it would have become colder and may have frozen Ibrahim (a.s.) to death.
In the same way when Ibrahim (a.s.) proceeded to slaughter his son Ismail (a.s.) the knife was blunted by Allah's command. Ibrahim (a.s.) threw the knife away and a voice emerged from it. "The Khalil (friend) of Allah commands me to cut and the Lord of the Khalil restrains me from it."
Musa (a.s.) and Firon
History records that the tyrant rulers have always oppressed Allah's representative on earth, the Prophets and the Imams. These rulers have made relentless use of all the might and power at their command to pursue the Prophets and terminate their lives. But the Almighty Allah used to render their efforts null and void. The life of Musa (a.s.) during the reign of Firon is full of such instances from the beginning to end.
A powerful king like Firon wanted to kill Hazrat Musa (a.s.) while he was still in his mother's womb, but he did not succeed and Musa (a.s.) was born. Firon continued in his efforts to murder him but all his plans were foiled by Allah. Physical and spiritual causes are of no significance in comparison to the Divine decree. Thus Musa (a.s.) was not only born safely but grew up in Firon's own palace and in his own lap.
"And Firon's wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to you; do not slay him; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son; and they did not perceive."
(Surah Qasas 28:9)
The Attack of Abraha on the Ka'ba
In the year of the birth of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the army of Najjashi came to attack the Holy Ka'ba. It was led by the commander Abraha. The army consisted of elephants and possessed all the armaments of war. Abraha, proud of his bulky army and weapons was confident of success. But the creator of all causes weakened their efforts. When Allah willed all the human and animals in the army came to a standstill. However much they tried, the elephants refused to move towards the sacred house.
On the other hand 'Ababeel' appeared on the horizon. Each of these birds carried three pebbles; one in the beak and one each in their claws. They surrounded the complete army and began to pelt them with pebbles. Each pebble fell on the head of the soldiers and pierced through their body to reach the ground and sank into it. Consequently the entire army perished, except one soldier. This soldier retreated to king Najjashi and related the episode in detail. This incident gained so much importance that the year began to be referred to as 'Aamul Feel', or the year of the Elephant. Thus the history of Arabs record the birth of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to be in the year 1st Aamul Feel and the year of his Be'sat (declaration of Prophethood) to be 40th Aamul Feel.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and How His Life was Saved
The protection of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) from the blood thirsty people of Makkah and later his being shielded from death in the various battles is considered to be a sign of Allah. All the polytheists had united to martyr the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) right from the day he declared his Prophethood. They had all the means to achieve their purpose but as a Persian couplet says: "Who can extinguish the lamp lighted by Allah."
He Creates Without an Apparent Cause
Even if the apparent causes, both material and non-material ones, are absent, Allah creates them by His unsurpassed power. There are numerous examples of such a phenomenon. The foremost example is that of the father of man, Hazrat Adam (a.s.) whom Allah created without the union of a male and a female. Adam (a.s.) came into existence from non-existence. Similarly Prophet Isa (a.s.) was born to the chaste maid, Janabe Maryam (a.s.) even though a man had not touched her.
Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) when he had reached an extremely old age and when his wife had lost all hopes of conceiving. Hazrat Ishaq (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) when Hazrat Ibrahim was aged and inspite of his wife Janabe Sarah being barren previously.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) And His Knowledge
The Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) did not attend any school nor did he learn from any teacher. He was not trained to read and write by any mortal. Yet, he was the teacher of humanity and was having command upon the Quranic sciences. In fact his personality was a conglomeration of the qualities of all the previous prophets. The presence of such outstanding qualities in one person without any apparent causes, can only be understood to be the Divine will.
Invocations are Answered Without the Presence of Apparent Means
The Beneficial God listens to the invocations of His creatures and fulfills their desires. Many a times we see that people who have no means whatsoever are able to get rid of their afflictions and distress. Due to the grace of Sadaqah, incurable diseases are cured and destitutes become rich. People surrounded by calamities are saved in ways they could not have even imagined.
The traditional reports are replete with such instances. The unlimited beneficence and grace of the Almighty Allah has been described by Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) in the following couplets:
"Only the wise could estimate, the unlimited Grace of the Almighty Allah who releases us from calamities, and removes grief from the defeated hearts. On numerous occasions, man is sorrowful in the morning. But by evening his disposition changes into happiness. So when you are surrounded by difficulties, repose absolute hope in the Unique God."
Love of Ali (a.s.)
Imam Yafai writes in his book, 'Rawzatul Rehayeen' the explanation of Diwan-e-Mubeedi and says, "A certain king gave a pearl to his jeweller. The jeweller's child somehow got hold of this pearl and broke it into two pieces. The jeweller was in agony. He was asked by some person to recite the above mentioned couplets of Imam Ali (a.s.) with sincerity. Hardly had he begun to recite that a messenger from the king arrived. He told him that physicians have suggested that if his pearl is powered and given to the sick princess she would be cured of her malady. The King has sent orders to the jeweller to powder that pearl at once and take it to the palace.
The Destiny of Man
The spiritual factors which are connected with the hereafter have some causes, the affect of which is kept in abeyance by the Will of Allah. For example those who perform Jehad against their ownselves achieve for themselves a high position in the Hereafter. Those who do not believe in the prophets, the deeds of such people are nullified.
Balam Baoor and his Eternal Damnation
Balam Baoor had achieved a high stage of perfection. But in order to please the ruler he started opposing the prophet of his time. Consequently he became involved in a life of sin from which it was not possible to extricate himself. He was doomed to Hell, to the seventh stage of the fire that is the worst of the stages of Hell. He is compared to a dog in the holy Quran,
"And if We had pleased, We would certainly have exalted him thereby; but he clung to the earth and followed his low desire, so his parable is as the parable of the dog; if you attack him he lolls out his tongue; this is the parable of the people who reject our communications; therefore relate the narrative that they may reflect."
(Surah Araf 7:176)
Believing people are those who have realised Allah. The believing people should be particularly cautious not to confuse the apparent causes as the basis of all phenomena. Inspite of realising the supreme authority of Allah and His creations, a public misconception in this regard can damn them to perdition. They should know that they could be damned to perdition if they depend upon the apparent causes and consider them to be the basis of all phenomena because the centre of all phenomena is Allah. He is capable of making all the causes ineffective.
Beauty of the Hereafter
When all the means of salvation are annihilated, the Almighty Allah creates a cause due to his unlimited Mercy. Numerous traditions report incidents where people who had been involved in calamities and damned for destruction were, in the last moments, saved by Allah. They had been completely lost in the darkness of sins but were summoned towards their Lord by His limitless Mercy. The desolate deserts of their life were once again green and fertile. The bounties of Allah bestowed upon them surprised all the intelligent witnesses of these incidents.
The Magicians of Firon
Magic is a Great Sin and the worst of the professions. A magician is destined to Divine punishment, and Hell will be his abode. The magicians of Firon, were ordered to challenge Hazrat Musa (a.s.) and belittle him. But their wicked craft was of no avail, and they failed miserably. At that moment Divine Grace descended. The magicians intuitively sensed the power of Allah that gave Hazrat Musa (a.s.) superiority over them. Neither the lure of wealth nor the warning of torture and death by Firon could shake their belief. They were redeemed.
"Certainly I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and certainly I will crucify you all. They said: No Harm; surely to our Lord we go back."
(Surah Shura 26:49-50)
Asiya was a Believing Woman
Upon whomsoever He wishes, Allah bestows a respectable position in this world, as well as the hereafter. Asiya, Firon's wife was leading a life of affluence and material comforts, when her heart became illuminated by the light of belief. Even though she had to go through untold hardships because of her husband Firon, she did not flinch. She declared her belief in Allah and His Prophet, Musa (a.s.), without any fear. At the time of her death, when she was being martyred, she prayed to her Lord.
"...she said: My Lord! build for me a house with Thee in the Garden and deliver me from Firon and his doings, and deliver me from the unjust people."
(Surah Tahrim 66:11)
People of the Cave
The people of the cave whose number is said to be seven were living during the reign of the tyrant king Daqiyanoos. Daqiyanoos had claimed divinity and people used to follow him. But suddenly the hearts of these seven people became illuminated with true belief.
They set aside the false claims of Daqiyanoos and in order to tread the path of true beliefs, renounced the worldly power and headed for the mountains and hid themselves in a cave.
This incident is depicted in detail in Surah Kahf. Their example is preserved in history till the Day of the Judgement.
Realisation Before Death
It is known that there have been people so much involved in sins that their salvation appeared impossible. But in their last moments, realisation dawned on them and they prayed for pardon. Due to their sincere repentance all their sins were pardoned and the Mercy of the Merciful Allah came to their rescue. Thus, they were able to achieve salvation and happiness in the hereafter. They shall be among the successful ones on the Day of the Judgement.
Immediate Death on Embracing Islam
One such fortunate person was a Jew at the battle of Uhud. His name was 'Makhreeq'. He addressed his tribesmen as follows: "You are not aware that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is the truthful and the promised Prophet." They replied, "How do you know we are not aware?" "Then why don't you come for his help?" he asked. The tribe said. "Today is Saturday (sabbath)." He said, "But that was at the time of Hazrat Musa (a.s.), it is abrogated by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and is not acceptable to him." When he did not receive any response from the people of his tribe he went to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and became a Muslim. He was extremely wealthy. He entrusted all his wealth to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and himself entered the battlefield to face the unbelievers. He was soon martyred. It is said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) often gave charity from the property of Makhreeq, the martyr.
Hur ibn Yazid Riyaahi was the commander of Ibn Ziyad. He had obstructed the way of Imam Husain (a.s.) and forced him to halt at Karbala. This despicable act would have condemned him to eternal damnation. But when he heard the sermon of Imam Husain (a.s.) on the day of Ashura and also his Isteghasa, (call for help) his heart underwent a transformation. The Mercy and the Grace of Allah came to his rescue. He repented sincerely and aligned himself with the martyrs of Karbala. In this way he was able to achieve eternal bliss. In the last moments of his life Imam Husain (a.s.) gave him the good news, "You are 'Hur' (Free) as your mother has named you."
Wise People Never Lose Hope
One should never lose hope of achieving high moral traits and perfection in one's faith. In fact one should not even doubt the possibility of achieving it. Even though this type of deficiency in hope is not totally Haraam, yet the true believer should refrain from it. On the other hand he should not consider his apparent capabilities; like youth, strength, wisdom, capacity to think, ability to work, enthusiasm, love etc. to be sufficient for success in the hereafter
Many a people had lacked the above qualities but when the Mercy and Grace of Allah came to their aid, they were raised to a high position. For example people like Fuzail ibn Ayaz, Imran Sabi, Barham Nasrani and Sahib Riyaz who received the Tawfeeq from Allah when had become weak due to old age and were incapable of hardwork and active life, yet they achieved an exalted position.
Hopelessness is a Great Sin
Hopelessness is a Greater Sin because it implies negation of the Absolute Sovereignty of the Almighty. A heart illumined with the knowledge that Allah the Creator of all existing things is the best Planner, the best Executor and the best Protector; a person who has the knowledge that it is Allah who bestows a super-abundance of sustenance, security and welfare on His creatures because of His boundless Mercy, limitless Generosity and unsurpassed Knowledge, will be comforted and reassured. The heart of such a person will be calm and peaceful and the question of feeling sorrowful and aggrieved will just not arise. The creator is not unmindful of the needs of a child in its mother's womb. Nourishment is supplied to him through the umbilical cord. When the child is born, Allah provides him through his mother, wholesome and easily digestible milk. Gradually Allah develops in him various capabilities needed for the different stages of his growth.
To ensure the security and happiness of the child Allah creates deep and abiding affection in the heart of the mother for the child; and she is prepared to sacrifice all her comforts and pleasures for the child's sake.
After having the awareness, discussed above, is it possible for one to lose hope in his Lord? No! In fact it makes it easy to repose faith in the Creator and go through all the ups and downs of life with resignation and fortitude.
Hopelessness is a Sign of Disbelief and Lack of Knowledge
Despair is a form of hidden disbelief. It is the result of ignorance about the greatness of one's Lord (Allah). Giving in to despair is equivalent to disbelieving in one's Lord (Allah), which is a Greater Sin. One should therefore be extremely cautious and guard against putting oneself in such a woeful state. The noble Quran explains this in the verse,
"... Surely none despairs of Allah's Mercy except the unbelieving people."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)
Hope is Embedded in Human Psychology
The Almighty in His infinite Mercy, has embedded hope in human psychology. Even in the worst of circumstances, there is a faint glimmer of hope in the human heart, and this helps him to overcome his feeling of hopelessness. He therefore turns to his Lord and supplicates for Mercy, forgiveness and redress, and Allah never turns away a supplicant.
The Cure of Hopelessness
1. Power of Allah
Praise be to Allah for His supreme and absolute authority over the vast universe; the earth and the seven skies. He sets the course of the stars and the planets; and not a leaf falls without His permission. He is able to do what He wills. Intellect and reason get bewildered in trying to understand His Might and Greatness. Can such an Almighty be unable to fulfill the meagre needs of his creatures. Certainly not! So how can hopelessness be justified.
2. Personal Experiences
One must ponder upon the various blessings Allah bestowed on us in the past and which we had taken for granted. The Almighty has brought us safely out of the darkness of the womb. He is thoughtful of our needs and He knows them better than our ownselves, and fulfills them without our asking. He has rescued us from many a dangerous situations, disease and calamities. He has bestowed numerous blessings, physical, material, mental, social and spiritual upon us yet we become undeniable of our standing as individuals. Then why should there be hopelessness? Is He unaware of our condition? I seek forgiveness from the Almighty Allah! Allah is far too exalted.
Let us study the situation of those who were in extremely difficult times but were hopeful of the Lord's Benevolence and Mercy. They continued to entreat Allah till He accepted their prayers and redressed them.
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and His Male Child
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was one hundred and twelve years and according to another report one hundred and twenty years. His respected wife Hazrat Sarah was ninety-seven years. They did not have any children. Allah sent to them an Angel to inform them that they would be gifted with a son.
"And his wife was standing (by), so she laughed, then We gave her the good news of Ishaq and after Ishaq of (a son's son) Yaqub."
"She said: O wonder! Shall I bear a son when I am an extremely old woman and this my husband an extremely old man? Most surely this is a wonderful thing."
"They said: Do you wonder at Allah's bidding? The Mercy of Allah and His blessings are on you, O People of the house, surely He is Praised, Glorious."
(Surah Hud 11: 71-73)
In brief, the Mercy of Allah blessed Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Janabe Sarah with a son, Ishaq, at an age when it could never have been expected.
Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) and his Son Yahya (a.s.)
The age of Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) was ninety-nine years and that of his wife eighty nine. Yet, he was hopeful of the Grace of Allah and he prayed with sincerity, "He said My Lord! Surely my bones are weakened and my head flares with hoariness, and my Lord! I have never been unsuccessful in my prayer to Thee: And surely I fear my cousins after me, and my wife is barren, therefore grant me from Thyself an heir, who would inherit me and inherit from the children of Yaqub, and make him, my Lord, one in whom Thou art well pleased."
O Zakaria! Surely We give you good news of a boy whose name shall be Yahya: We have not made before anyone his equal. He said,
"O my Lord! When shall I have a son, and my wife is barren, and I myself have reached the excessive degree of old age? He said: "So shall It be, your Lord says: It is easy to Me, and indeed I created you before, when you were nothing."
(Surah Maryam 19:4-9)
Thus Allah accepted the invocation of Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) and Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) was born to him.
If one is suffering from some disease for a long time and there seems to be no hope of curing it, one must consider this disease to be a penalty for his sins (kaffara).
On the other hand if due to his prayers and Sadaqah the disease is cured it becomes a mean of salvation.
Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.) and Tribulations
If one intends to achieve humility and insight, he must study the life of Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.). After being inflicted with a horrible disease for seven years and according to other reports for eighteen years, he prayed to Allah.
"And Ayyub, when he cried to his Lord, (saying): Harm has afflicted me, and Thou art the most Merciful of the Mercifuls."
(Surah Anbiya 21:83)
Allah responded to his entreaty by curing his malady and also gave him wealth as before.
Hidden Wisdom in Poverty and Destitution
If one is afflicted with poverty for a long time and is unable to see a way out, then this situation can be viewed in two ways: First, it is possible that there may be a hidden wisdom in his poverty, and if he had access to this knowledge he may himself opt this state for himself and be happy in the bargain.
Secondly, those who spend the earlier part of life in poverty usually become enriched at a later stage and therefore have a comfortable time in their old age.
Wealth in the Empty Hands
As an example an incident is quoted from the book "Faraz Baadashshuda": A rich businessman says, 'I was travelling for Hajj and had 3000 dinars and gold and silver ornaments with me. I had tied them up in a bag attached to my cummerbund. But I dropped this bag when I went to answer the call of nature. I had proceeded many miles further, when I realized my bag was missing. I had a lot of wealth so I did not find it imperative to go back and look for my money nor was it possible to return. When I came back to my native site one calamity upon another befell me. Gradually all my wealth disappeared. My public respect began to change into shame. Due to embarrassment before friends, gossip of the enemies and further destitution I was compelled to leave my native village. During this journey I spent a night in a hamlet. At this time, all the money I had was one-sixth of a silver coin. It was a dark, rainy night. I took my wife to a cheap hostel for the night. All of a sudden my wife began to have labour pains and a child was born. My wife said that she needed something to eat, otherwise she may starve to death. I took the slender silver coin and knocked at the door of a vegetable seller. After repeated requests he opened the door. I explained to him my circumstances and gave him the coin. He brought some curd and ghee in an earthen bowl. As I turned back and walked a few paces, I slipped and the earthen bowl dropped from my hands and broke. I was struck with grief and could not control myself. I began to slap my face and yelled loudly. The window of a nearby house opened and someone enquired as to who I was and why was I creating a din and disturbing the neighbourhood. I explained my circumstances in brief and added that I, my wife and the child were starving of hunger, and this misfortune has befallen me. The man asked, "Is your hue and cry only for a piece of silver." 'No', I said, "I had never been so miserly." Then I told him about the year when I had lost my bag of 3000 dinars and ornaments. He asked me if there were any distinguishing marks on my moneybag. I thought he was trying to fool me, so I protested. But he insisted and I told him. Then he called me in his house and sent his slave to get my wife and child. The slave returned with my wife and child, and our host put us up for the night. In the morning he gave some dinars and said that till my wife recovers, we must stay in his house. Ten days passed in this manner. Everyday he used to give us some dinars. Then one day he asked me about my profession. When I told him that I was an expert trader, he gave me some money and told me to start a business. After conducting the business for some months, I offered him his share of the profits. He went into the other room and returned with the moneybag that I had lost years ago. I was overjoyed to see it and became unconscious due to the excitement. I thanked Allah and returned to my native village. Gradually my economic conditions began to change and once more I was a rich man.
" It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, maybe that you love a thing while it is evil for you."
(Surah Baqarah 2:216).
"Allah brings about ease after difficulty."
(Surah Talaq 65:7)
Cure for Hopelessness in Difficult Times
If a person is involved in worldly problems he should turn towards two realities. Firstly, this world is a place of test and trial for everyone. There is no one who could escape its clutches. Secondly, one must look at the conditions of people who are worse off than us. In this way one can get peace and solace by comparing ones condition with that of others. Even in the greatest calamities, we should continue to rely upon the Mercy of Allah. Many a people of the past had been afflicted with tribulations with no relief in sight. But the Merciful Allah gave them success. In the book "Faraj Baad as Shiddah" the respected author, Husain bin Saeed Dabistani has recorded more than 500 incidents where people, surrounded by troubles from all sides were given relief by Allah after all hopes were shattered. Further we ourselves witness many cases where the invocations and Sadaqah of the religious personalities help the people out of difficult situations. In the same book there is an incident where a resident of Madinah says, "I was rich and had all the good things in life. Eventually I became poor and destitute. So I went to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and told him of my problems. He expressed pity upon my condition and recited the following couplets for my sake, "If you fall into difficult times do not be impatient. Because for a long time you have experienced comfort.
Then after every discomfort is comfort and consolation. And the saying of Allah is the most truthful. 'So do not despair, certainly despair is disbelief.' Allah may enrich you in a short while. After that do not forget your Lord. Certainly Allah fulfills His promise. If the intellect had the capacity to produce food the wealth of the world would be only with the intellectuals. Beware, do not lose hope when you face calamities. Behind the curtains are concealed astounding candles (of hope)."
The narrator says, "When I heard these lines my grief changed into happiness and hopelessness turned into optimism. Very soon the doors of Mercy opened upon me and my bad times changed for the good."
This book relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that to ward off calamities this Quranic verse should be recited.
"There is no God but Thou, glory be to Thee, surely I am of those who make themselves to suffer loss." (Surah Anbiya 21:87) "Allah is my Lord, and I do not associate him with anything."
We should remember that despair is the worst of the sins, because it implies that the connection between Allah and his creature has been severed. It signifies turning away from the Divine nature. Because even if an iota of belief remains in a person's heart, he could not severe relations with his Nourisher and Cherisher. It may be that sometimes a sort of hopelessness pervades his imagination but he soon recovers and repents of his sin.
Every Sin is Pardonable
According to the verse of the Holy Quran and Mutawatir (widely related) traditions all the sins which man commits are pardonable if he repents sincerely. It is wrong to say that such a sin can never be pardoned. The Almighty Allah says in the Glorious Quran,
"And He it is who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds and He knows what you do."
(Surah Shura 42:25)
Allah has mentioned His names as:
1) Tawwabun (one who accepts Tawbah)
2) Gaffarun (one who pardons)
3) Ghafoorun (one who forgives totally)
4) Ghaaferuz Zanbe (Pardoner of sins)
5) Qaabelut Tawbah (one who accepts repentance)
Allah has given a general invitation to all the people to turn towards Him and seek forgiveness for their sins. If we study the meaning of the 54th verse of Surah Zumar we find that sinners have no cause to lose hope. This Ayat is also known as Ayat-e-Rehmat (The verse of Mercy).
"Say: O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah ; Surely Allah forgives the blunders altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
(Surah Zumar 39:53).
A few points must be noted from the above verse.
Firstly, Allah says, 'O my servant' and not 'O sinners!' Even though he is addressing the sinners he addresses them as 'my servants'. So that the hopelessness of the servants may be transformed into hope in His Mercy.
Secondly, he says, "Who have acted extravagantly." This denotes a soft approach. Allah does not say 'O you who have acted blatantly,' So that the sinners may not lose hope of obtaining pardon.
Hopelessness is Haraam
The third point to be noted is that the Almighty Allah has told the sinners, "Do not despair of the Divine Mercy." The use of a negative term signifies the prohibition of hopelessness. Also it means that to lose hope regarding salvation is Haraam.
The fourth point is that Allah did not stop at this, He further adds, "Surely Allah forgives the faults altogether," signifying that the statement covers all the sins.
Fifth Point: The addition of the word 'altogether' at the end signifies that the statement includes all sins without any exception.
Sixth Point: The last point is that at the end of the verse, Allah repeats, "Surely He is the forgiving, the merciful," to stress upon the fact that Allah desires and wishes to forgive those who repent.
Repentance of the Killer of a Prophet is also Acceptable
Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari (r.a.) relates that a woman came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and asked, "If a woman kills her child can she seek pardon?" The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"By Allah in whose control is the life of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) even if this woman has killed seventy Prophets and then feels remorse and repents and Allah is convinced of her sincerity and the truth of her statement, upon the condition that she does not repeat the sin, her repentance shall be accepted. And her sins would be pardoned. Surely Allah is oft forgiving and forgives, ever so beyond measure. Verily one who repents (sincerely) is; as if he has never committed that sin."
Despair in the Acceptance of Prayers is Also Improper
If we pray to Allah for some worldly benefits or the Hereafter and our prayer is not answered it raises two noteworthy points. Firstly, we must know that Allah has promised to accept all prayers and Allah never goes back on His word.
As it is mentioned in the Holy book,
"And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me."
(Surah Baqarah 2:186)
At another place Allah says,
"And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you."
(Surah Momin 40:60)
The second point is that due to His unlimited wisdom He may delay the acceptance of some prayer. So if we do not get immediate gratification we should not lose hope of having our prayers accepted.
Prayers May Not Be Accepted Due to Sins
Sometimes the sins of a person come in the way of the acceptance of his prayers. At other times Allah may delay the acceptance due to some hidden wisdom. This would compel the person to repeat his prayers and thus he would be entitled for additional sawaab. The opportunity to invocate is itself a blessing of Allah.
Another possibility is that Allah wishes to hear the entreaties of His creature many a times before He fulfills his wishes.
Delay in the Acceptance of Prayers Causes Nearness to Allah
Sometimes there is a delay in the acceptance of prayers because, to supplicate Allah continuously is the best of worship. It is the Mercy of Allah that he may want us to continue to pray to Him. It is a means of seeking nearness to Him. For whomsoever He wishes good, He gives him the Tawfeeq of supplicating Him by delaying the acceptance of his prayers.
Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the book 'Hayatul Qulub' that Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says in a reliable tradition, "Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) used to visit the populated cities and the desolate forests so that he could derive lessons from the creatures of Allah. One day he saw a worshipper busy in prayers. His dress was made of fur and the surroundings filled with his intonation. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was astonished at his appearance. He went towards him, sat down and waited for him to conclude his prayers. When he finished his prayers, Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "I appreciate your way and want to befriend you. Tell me where do you stay so that I could come to meet you whenever I want." He said, "You will not be able to travel on my path."
"I walk on the surface of the water."
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "The Almighty Allah who has given you the capacity to walk on water, can also enable me to do so. Come, arise, today I shall spend the night with you at your residence.
When they reached the bank of the river the man uttered "Bismillah" and stepped in the river and was soon on the other side of it. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) also recited Bismillah and crossed the river. This man was astounded. Then both of them entered his house.
Ibrahim (a.s.) asked him, "Which is the most difficult day?" He replied, "The day Allah will reward and punish all His creatures according to their deeds." Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Let us together pray that Allah may protect us from the hardships of this day."
According to another report Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Let us pray together for the sinful believers." The worshipper said, "I will not participate in this prayer because I have been praying for something for the past thirty years and till date it has not been fulfilled, so there is no scope in praying for something else."
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "O worshipper! when Allah holds a creature dear He delays the acceptance of his prayers so that he may continue to plead and supplicate Him. On the other hand when He dislikes a person He answers his prayers immediately or creates hopelessness in his heart so that he would stop praying."
Then he asked the worshipper about his prayer which has not been accepted till then. He said, "One day I was busy in my prayers when I saw a handsome boy grazing a herd of sheep and goats. I asked him whose animals were those. He said they belonged to him. Then I asked him who he was. He said that he was the son of Khalilullah (Friend of Allah) Ibrahim (a.s.) and that his name was Ismail. At that moment I prayed to Allah to let me see my 'Khalil' Ibrahim (a.s.)." Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Now your prayer has been answered. I am that Ibrahim (a.s.)." The worshipper became extremely overjoyed and embraced Ibrahim (a.s.). He kissed his head, eyes and hands and thanked the Almighty Allah with sincerity. After this both of them together prayed for the believing men and women.
Third Greater Sin
In the tradition from Imam Reza (a.s.) where he has listed the Greater Sins, despondence is mentioned after despair (Yaas). Qunut (despondence) is described as the condition where one's heart loses hope of Allah's Mercy and that person does not even dislike the hopelessness. According to the religious scholars the difference between Yaas and Qunut is that the term 'Yaas' is used in general cases and 'Qunut' in special cases. It means that 'Yaas' describes the internal condition of one's heart. When this internal hopelessness intensifies to a degree whereby its effect becomes manifest outwardly and seem obvious to the common people, it is called 'Qunut'.
In short whoever expresses hopelessness by his speech or actions is actually a victim of 'Qunut'.
Hopelessness in Dua is Yaas
Many scholars believe that to discontinue invocation is a sign of despair. The hopeless person believes that he will not reach his destination through dua.
'Qunut' means that one accuses Allah of not being merciful and for not accepting his repentance. He thinks that whatever difficulties he suffers, are the retribution of his sins. Thus Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says in the 39th Dua of Sahifa-e-Sajjadiyah, "I neither despair of Your Mercy nor am I in despondence regarding you. But I am aggrieved because my good deeds are less in number and bad deeds numerous. Otherwise Your position is so high that not a single creature turns away dejected from you."
There is no doubt that despondence with regard to Allah is a Greater Sin. It is one of the characteristics of the polytheists and hypocrites as mentioned by Allah in Surah Fath.
"And (that) He may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, the entertainers of evil thoughts about Allah..."
(Surah Fath 48:6)
Skepticism Invites Punishment
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced from the pulpit
"By Allah who has no partner, He does not deprive any of the people from the blessings of this world and the hereafter. But he should not harbour doubts (about Him). He should have hope in Him and possess good morals. He should refrain from backbiting about the believers. I swear by Allah Who is the One and without partners, He does not punish a believer after he had repented and asked for forgiveness. Except those who are skeptical about Allah and lack in hope, have evil behaviour and indulge in backbiting about the believers. I swear by Allah except Whom no one is fit to be worshipped. When someone expresses reliance and trust in Allah; Allah who is extremely graceful, will not deem it fit to order anything contrary to the faith that the believer has reposed in him. Then you must have good thoughts regarding Allah and must always depend upon Him."
Hope For Forgiveness and the Acceptance of Dua
Having good thoughts about Allah means that one should have the conviction that if he repents for a sin, Allah would forgive him. If he invocates, his prayer would be answered. If he does a good action, it is certain that Allah would accept it and reward him for the same. To hope in salvation is beneficial, and it is obligatory. However to hope for rewards without performing good actions is ignorance and conceit.
Hopelessness in the Affairs of This World and the Hereafter
Some scholars of religion explain that the detecting feature of 'Qunut' and 'Yaas' is that 'Qunut' denotes hopelessness with regard to the worldly blessings.
The Holy Quran says concerning this,
"And He it is who sends down rain after they have despaired, and He unfolds His Mercy; and He is the Guardian, the Praised One."
(Surah Shura 42:28)
Concerning 'Yaas' the scholars maintain that it is with regard to the affairs of the Hereafter, as mentioned in the verse:
"...indeed they despair of the Hereafter..."
(Surah Mumtahena 60:13)
Qunut is Worse Than Yaas
To be despondent of Allah's Mercy results in the person being deprived of eternal blessings, because 'Qunut' causes the severance of the relation between the creature and Allah. The cause for this despondence is the extinguishing of the original flame of creation that had been alive in his heart. Even if a miniature of the light had remained, he would not have lost hope completely. It is possible that he may be involved in vain pursuits. If that is so then he has receded into the age of ignorance from the Mercy of Allah. But 'Yaas' denotes that the connection between the creature and Allah still remains even though separated by the curtain of sins. But behind the curtain the light of the original nature endures. He still believes in some connection with Allah. In such a case the dividing curtain could be removed.
'Yaas' can be forgiven but 'Qunut' does not deserve forgiveness. Thus 'Qunut' is included in the title of Shirk and becomes the greatest danger for man. (Quoted from Tafsir Ruhul Bayan)
Fourth Greater Sin
AL AMNO MIN MAKRILLAH
(Disregard of Allah's punishment)
Heedlessness to Allah's Anger and Retribution
One of the Greater Sins is a total disregard for Divine punishment. The person is fearless of the unseen retribution and scoffs at the idea of being punished for his actions. He lives blissfully in a world of material comforts and does not realise that he is fettered down by his sins. This is a Greater Sin. The Holy Imams, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.) have classified the fearlessness of Allah's punishment among the Greater Sins. The Qur'an announces:
"What! do the people of the towns then feel secure from Our punishment coming to them by night while they are asleep?"
(Surah Araf 7:97)
"What! do the people of the towns feel secure from Our punishment coming to them in the morning while they play?"
(Surah Araf 7:98)
"What! do they feel secure from Allah's plan? But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish."
(Surah Araf 7:99)
These three verses clearly prohibit the fearlessness of the punishment of Allah. The last verse mentions that those who do not fear Allah's punishment would be losers in the hereafter. Divine retribution will be their lot on the Day of Judgement, as will be the fate of the unbelievers and the non-repentant sinners.
It is clear from the Quran that to remain heedless of Allah's plan is a Greater Sin. Hence carelessness about the punishment and warnings of Allah is equivalent to disregard of His orders and prohibitions and an abject ignorance of His Supremacy. How can a lowly and insignificant being, now dare to oppose the Lord of the two worlds. This heedlessness and disregard is a Greater Sin that does not merit pardon, except that the sinner feels remorse and asks for forgiveness. It would emerge from the above discussion that whether a sin is pardonable or not depends more on the attitude of the sinner, rather than the sin itself. If in the innermost recesses of his heart, the transgressor is fearful of Allah, he is deserving of forgiveness, but if he is brazenly fearless of Allah's punishment, he is most unfit for pardon and mercy.
The plan of Allah means a sudden punishment that descends upon the sinners, as mentioned in the Divine book,
"Does man think that he is to be left to wander without an aim?"
(Surah Qiyamat 75:36)
'Allah's plan' includes 'Imla'. From the time Allah created man it has been a Divine practice that the thankless ones and the sinners should not be punished for their sins immediately. Rather they are given a long respite. Since everyone is prone to sin except the Infallibles, if each one were to be punished for their misdeeds immediately, not a single person would remain on the face of the earth. Allah has stated in the Holy Qur'an,
"And if Allah had destroyed men for their inequity, He would not leave on the earth a single creature, but He respites them till an appointed time..."
(Surah Nahl 16:61)
Besides, Imla proves to be the Grace of Allah for the pious. It gives them time to reflect upon their behaviour, realise their mistakes, repent, and make a firm intention not to repeat their sins. Allah's indulgence thus helps them to achieve the good in this world and the hereafter. On the other hand indulgence shown to unrepentant sinners only makes them heedless of the fact that eventually they will be accountable for their deeds. They continue to commit one sin upon another and when their corruption reaches a limit, a sudden punishment descends upon them.
"And I grant them respite; surely My scheme is effective."
(Surah Araf 7:183)
Disbelievers and sinners leading successful and comfortable lives may conceitedly feel that their capabilities have brought them success but in reality all that they have is a form of punishment from Allah and a sort of retribution which is referred to as 'the Plan of Allah."
Respite for the Wrong Doers
The Glorious Quran quotes thus,
"And let not those who disbelieve think that Our granting them respite is better for their souls; We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and they shall have a disgraceful chastisement."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:178)
Imam Reza (a.s.) said,
"By Allah, they have not been punished with anything more severe than Imla (respite)." (Safinatun Behaar)
Imam Sajjad (a.s.) has mentioned in Dua-e-Makarimul Akhlaq:
"(O Allah). Give me such a life that my (long) life is spent in obedience to you. And when my life becomes a field of Satan take away my soul towards you (before I become eligible for Divine retribution)."
Istedraaj (Drawing Near)
Istedraaj is also included in Allah's plan. At times the respite granted by Allah also includes a new blessing. Allah bestows His bounties upon a person who has sinned so that he may feel ashamed of himself and make amends. Instead, the person often develops confidence and blatantly commits more sins. Such unfortunate people are mentioned in the following verse of Quran:
"And (as to) those who reject Our communications, We draw them near (to destruction) by degrees from whence they know not."
(Surah Araf 7:182)
It is recorded in Safinatul Behaar, "When Allah wishes good for a person and he commits a sin, Allah involves him in difficulties so that he may become aware that the cause of his problems is his own sin. He can then repent for it (immediately). When Allah wishes to punish a person who commits a sin, He gives him a new form of blessing so that he may be dazzled by the blessing and ignore repentance. This is what Allah means in the Ayat (quoted above)."
Istedraaj denotes failure to repent
When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked the meaning of "Istedraaj" he replied:
"When a person commits a sin he is given respite and a new blessing, then when he fails to repent he is slowly led towards destruction; about which he is heedless. This is known as Istedraj and 'Allah's Plan."
It is related from Amirul Momineen (a.s.) that he said:
"Certainly, those who are given an increase in wealth and property by Allah, should not think anything but that it is Istedraaj. They should not be fearless (of Allah's plan). Because calm precedes storm."
Fearlessness of Allah's Plan
Allah possesses two kinds of qualities, the Jamali (good) and Jalali (severe). Example of Jamali qualities are His being Rahman (Beneficent), Raheem (Merciful), Kareem (Generous), Haleem (Magnanimous), Shakoor (Thankful), Ghafoor (one who forgives).
The Jalali qualities are His being Jabbar (Mighty), Qahhar (One who punishes), Muntaqim (One who retributes), Muzallil (One who degrades), Mutakabbir (Proud) and Shadeedul Iqab (Severe in punishing). Hence Allah informs of His good qualities and then warns of His Severity:
"Inform My servants that I am the Forgiving, The Merciful, and that My punishment - that is the painful punishment."
(Surah Hujarat 49:50)
Elsewhere Allah says,
"The Forgiver of faults and the Acceptor of repentance, severe to punish, Lord of bounty."
(Surah Momin 40:3)
Thus Allah is the most Merciful of the mercifuls in the matter of forgiveness and also the most severe in retribution.
Fear and Hope Are the Signs of Marefat
One who recognizes the boundless expanse of Allah's Mercy is bound to have great hopes; if he has repented, his sins will be forgiven, if he has worshipped Allah, his invocation will be accepted and Allah in His generosity will let him have the maximum benefits. Allah is known to be the 'Forgiver of sins' and 'Acceptor of prayers'. In the same way the knowledge of the severity of Allah's chastisement for every sin will make one tremble with fear. The fear of Allah inspires a person with Tawfeeq that insulates him from transgressing the bounds of prohibitions, and compels him towards sincere repentance. When we are in the throes of temptation to commit an aggression, we have to be extremely cautious not to give in. It may so happen that the particular sin we are about to commit will seal our fate and deprive us forever, of Allah's Mercy and forgiveness. It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"One who intends to commit a sin (should control his selfish desires and) must not put it to practice. Certainly when (sometimes) a person commits a sin, Allah dislikes him and says: "By My Honour and Greatness I will not forgive you after this."
Since there is a possibility that a sin may not be eligible for pardon, it is extremely important that we keep ourselves protected from every sin; be it big or small. In fact the sins which do not deserve to be pardoned are regarded as insignificant by the one who commits them.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) states:
"You must fear the small sins, for they are not pardoned."
The narrator asked, "What is meant by 'small'?" Imam replied;
"A person commits a sin which he considers to be insignificant and says, "I deserve admiration for I have not committed a sin as serious as that of the other person."
Speech and Action Should Be Guarded By Divine Fear and Hope
Even if the sinner repents for his sins, he should continue to be fearful. It may be that his repentance has not fulfilled the necessary conditions. For example, he have made an intention of not repeating a sin, but later he does not remain firm upon it. We should therefore continue to live between fear and hope till the end of our lives, hoping for Allah's rewards for our good deeds and dreading the accountability of our sins committed knowingly or unintentionally.
One Must Fear the Acceptance of His Prayers
If a prayer is not accepted it should be feared that (maybe) it is because of our sins. And if it is granted, it may be that one is so disliked by Allah that He could not stand his invocation again and again and has thus accepted his prayers immediately.
Separation is the Most Painful Experience
If we are able to achieve success, be it material, intellectual or even spiritual, at all times we should be aware that our achievements are a Grace and Mercy from Allah, and not the result of our own capabilities. Thankfulness to Allah, alone earns Allah's approval. Pride and ingratitude will forever separate us from our Creator and this is the worst of the punishments.
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says in Dua-e-Kumail:
Suppose, My Lord! My Master! My Cherisher! I am able to endure your punishment, how can I endure separation from Thee. Suppose I am able to endure the heat of Thy fire, how can I endure not gazing upon Thy generosity.
How Should We Remain Till the End of our Lives
We should be very apprehensive and anxious about our end. We have seen good and pious people who, in the final stages of their lives, turned to evil. Let us implore the Merciful Lord to protect our faith, and let us die as believers.
"Therefore take a lesson, O you who have eyes!"
Everyone Shall Be Tested
We must also be fearful of the difficult test that we have to undergo. All the believers who have attained a high position have been in constant dread of failure when put to test. The respected Book of Allah has said:
"Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, 'We believe' and not be tried?"
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and the Fire
When Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was tied to a catapult to be thrown into the blazing fire he said, "Allah is sufficient for me." When Ibrahim (a.s.) claimed that Allah's help was sufficient for him, and he did not need help from anyone else, Allah decided to test him and sent Jibraeel, who asked Ibrahim (a.s.) if he had any kind of wish so that it may be fulfilled. Ibrahim (a.s.) replied, "I do have a wish but not from you." Jibraeel said: "It is correct but express your wish to the one in whom you repose hope." Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) replied: "He is aware of my condition hence there is no need for me to say it verbally."
Successful When Tested
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) deserves admiration. In the most difficult circumstances he refrained from showing his want, even to the trustworthy angel of revelation Jibraeel (a.s.). Thus he emerged successful from the most severe test. Hence the Divine verse says:
"And (of) Ibrahim who fulfilled (the commandments)."
(Surah Najm 53:37)
We must also not be heedless of the Divine test nor should we be fearless of Divine retribution. Even the most near ones to Allah, the angels, the prophets and the messengers were not careless in this regard. Especially in times of difficulties and calamities we have to be extra careful; constantly imploring Allah to prevent us from overstepping the boundaries prohibited by Him. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says in the beginning of Dua-e-Abu Hamza Thumali:
"Do not punish my sins by letting me to be heedless of your retribution."
Tawfeeq is From Allah
Let it be very clear to us that whatever good we are able to do, is only due to Tawfeeq from Allah and we have to be most humbly grateful to Allah for this tawfeeq. Thanklessness in the matter may result not only in the loss of such opportunities in the future but may even nullify the good already done, and bring us disgrace.
Wise People Fear Allah
Those who realise the Greatness and the Majesty of Allah in comparison to their own worthlessness are more fearful of Allah. Only those who realise how utterly dismal and worthless they themselves are and how exalted and Supreme is their Creator, are fearful of Allah.
The Holy Quran says:
"Those of His servants only who are possessed of knowledge fear Allah."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said: "The fountain-head of wisdom is the fear of Allah."
The Prophet's (s.a.) Conversation With Umme Salma
Janabe Umme Salma says that she saw the Holy Prophet of Allah in a middle of the night standing in a corner of the house and entreating Allah: "O Allah! Whatever You have given me, do not take those blessings away. Never let me become the butt of criticism and jealousy of the enemies. O Allah! Never let me return to the vices from where You have extricated me. O Allah! Do not leave me (free) to myself even for a blink of the eye (for a moment)."
Umme Salma says: When I heard these words I began to weep uncontrollably. The Prophet asked the reason for my lamentation. I replied, "Why shouldn't I weep when you, who have attained such a high position , are invocating Allah in such a (humble) way?"
Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Why should not I fear thus. When Allah left Hazrat Yunus (a.s.) on his own for a moment, what did happen." (That is, he remained in the belly of a whale).
The Prophets (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) Were the Most Fearful
The Holy Quran commends the prophets in the following words:
"Surely they used to hasten, one with another, in deeds of goodness and to call upon Us, hoping and fearing; and they were humble before Us."
Regarding the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) the Divine words are:
"They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide."
(Surah Insan 76:7)
The fear of the Prophets and the Holy Imams, specially that of Ali (a.s.) is well-known. He used to lose consciousness due to the fear of Allah. Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) expresses this fear most eloquently in the Duas of Sahifa-e-Sajjadiyah. If we are to record all such examples we shall be straying away from our aim. We hope that the examples given so far will be sufficient for the intelligent.
A Believer Lives Between Fear and Hope
A believer lives in a state of anxiety and optimism, (as prescribed by the traditions) He is fearful of Divine punishment and yet hopeful of Divine Mercy. The Holy Quran says:
"It is only the Shaitan that causes you to fear from his friends, but do not fear them, and fear Me if you are believers."
(Aale Imran 3:175)
This type of fear is obligatory for every Muslim. The fear which refrains him from even approaching sins. Allah, the Almighty addresses his Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the Quranic Ayat,
"Say: Surely I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the chastisement of a grievous day."
(Surah Anam 6:15).
Hope Should Not Cause Arrogance
The trust and hope we repose in Allah's Mercy and generosity will certainly bring us additional bounties. But this trust should not assume proportions that make us feel confident and arrogant that we think, we shall not be punished. As is mentioned in Quran,
"Let not the arch-deceiver (Satan) deceive you respecting Allah."
(Surah Fatir 35:5)
Allah tells the polytheists in Surah Hadid,
"...the arch-deceiver (Satan) deceived you about Allah."
(Surah Hadid 57:14)
The exegesis of this ayat as recorded in "Minhajus Sadeqeen' is that Satan says, "Have complete faith in the magnanimity and the Mercy of Allah. He does not punish any one."
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said,
"There is no believer who does not possess two lights in his heart. One is the light of fear and the other, the light of hope. None of these is heavier than the other. Both are equal."
Action of Man Depicts Hope and Fear
It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said, "A believer cannot have belief till both fear and hope are present in him. Nor can he be called as fearful and hopeful till he makes it evident in his actions."
Man's psyche should contain a perfect balance of fear and hope. It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Hakim Luqman (r.a) advised his son in his will. 'If your deeds equal the good deeds of all men and Jinns, together, you must expect that you may yet be punished by Him. And you must hope in Allah so much that even if you carry the burden of the total sins of men and jinns, and approach Allah for forgiveness, He will pardon you.'
Now I invite the readers to contemplate on this. Do we have true hope and real fear of Allah?
If we truly dread Allah's punishment then why are we not fearful of our sins?
Why is there a sluggishness in following the commands of the Masoomeen (a.s.)? If we truly regard ourselves to be desiring of Divine Mercy, why do we not strive for the goal? Why are our actions not directed towards absolute obedience and worship?
Yes, we do have genuine fear and hope with regard to the worldly affairs. This is evident in the excessive care, concern and caution we exercise to preserve our physical safety and material assets. Any sign of losing them, and we get restless till the danger is averted. If a worldly object is our goal we strive for it tirelessly and are not negligent for a moment.
By Allah! Let us look at the amount of efforts we put in our worldly affairsand honestly admit to ourselves whether we work even a fraction of it for the Hereafter. We most certainly do not. So let us resolve to divert some of our energies towards the fear and hope of the hereafter. If a sin has been committed, let us continuously feel remorse and weep for forgiveness, forgetting luxury and comforts, repenting till our last moment when we hear the good news.
"(As for) those who say: Our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the Garden which you were promised."
(Surah Ha Mim 41:30)
Let us realise that it is obligatory for the believers to remain in fear of Allah till the end of their lives.
Between Two Fears
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"A believer is always between two fears. One is the fear of his past sins, (so) he does not know as to how Allah would deal with him. Secondly he fears until the end of his life and does not know the sins that might be committed by him, causing his destruction. The believer does not forgo his fear for his whole life, and his affairs do not improve without fear."
One Must Strive for the Hereafter
We must understand that Allah has guaranteed sustenance for us in this world. The Quran says,
"And there is no animal in the earth but on Allah is the sustenance of it... " (Surah Hud 11:6)
However the success of the hereafter depends upon the efforts of man. As Allah says,
"And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for; And that his striving shall soon be seen."
(Surah Najm 53:39-40)
Claim Must Be Substantiated By Action
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says in Nahjul Balagha:
"One who claims (verbally) and says that I am hopeful of the Mercy of Allah, is a liar. By Allah if his claim is genuine then why is his sincerity not reflected in his actions."
It is true that hope and fear are inner feelings, but they are manifested in one's actions. Hence, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"The Proof of fear is flight and the proof of hope is the effort to come near."
So, those who do not resort to flight from the sins prove that they do not have fear. Similarly, those who do not strive for the hereafter, make it evident that they do not have any hope in the bounties of Allah. Such people claim only verbally that Allah is Most Merciful. Actually, Satan has deceived them, and speaks through their tongue. Why is it that they do not just claim Allah to be generous for worldly benefits. Rather, they strive hard to procure these but are content to claim that Allah is Merciful for the Hereafter, and feel very secure in that thought without making any effort to strive for the Hereafter.
Fear Allah As If You Can See Him
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated,
"Allah has to be feared as if you see Him with your own eyes. Because even if you can't see Him, He is surely watching you. If you think that He is not watching you, you are a Kafir. However if you know that He is watching you and still commit sins, it means that you have regarded Him as an insignificant viewer."
If any mortal were to see us committing a sin we would feel ashamed and refrain from such a behaviour. But its a pity that we disregard the All-seeing Almighty and indulge in sins, unabashed.
The Perfect Example
One look at the life of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) will make the best of us hang our heads in shame. We would emerge to be the most despicable and wretched creatures, when judged in the light of his excellence.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"A stroke of Ali (a.s.) on the day of Khandaq (battle of Ahzaab) is superior to the total worship of men and jinns."
Ali (a.s.), inspite of his exalted position, is all humility when he addresses his Lord. Not an iota of significance does he attach to his outstanding achievements. They are all a Mercy from his Creator. In himself, he sees only shortcomings, faults and weaknesses for which he weeps and prays till he becomes unconscious. Abu Darda relates that I heard Ali (a.s.) reciting in a disconsolate voice: "O my Lord, there is no doubt that I have spent a good part of my life in Your disobedience.1 Still I do not hope for forgiveness from anyone but You. Nor do I intend to please anyone except You. O my real Master when I think of Your Mercy, the weight of my sins begins to feel light. But when I remember Your severity, the load of the difficulties crush me."
Abu Darda says, 'When there was a silence after this, I moved forward and saw that Ali (a.s.) had fallen unconscious. When I shook his arm, it seemed lifeless. I thought that my master Ali (a.s.) has passed away.'
Similarly Zorara says, 'Once I saw Ali (a.s.) in the last part of a dark night. He was holding his beard and pleading in a sorrowful voice: 'O! The provisions for the journey are less and the distance vast. The way is horrifying and the path dangerous.'
Ali (a.s.) says in Dua-e-Kumail:
"O Allah the trials have increased and my condition has deteriorated and my good deeds are very few."
The Personality of Ali (a.s.) is a Model For Us
Like his fear, the hope of Ali (a.s.) is also prominent. Since his birth upto the last moments of his life he remained engrossed in worship and obedience. He did not forgo worship even for a single moment. Sometimes he used to pray a thousand rakats of prayers in a day. Throughout his life, he fasted the whole of the month of Shabaan. He never missed the midnight prayers. Even in the night of the battle of Siffin, which is known as the coldest of the nights he offered his midnight prayers. For three continuous days he broke his fast with water. He gave his share of bread to the poor, the needy and the orphans. He gave in charity the proceeds of the sale of the garden that he had planted with his own hands. A detailed chapter of Behaarul Anwaar deals with the endowments of Ali (a.s.) and his charity. A few examples are quoted below:
An Excerpt From the Will of Ali (a.s.)
The will of Ali (a.s.) is phrased in the following manner:
"This writing is that in which we have willed regarding one's belongings. The slave of Allah, Ali hopes that Allah shall reward him for this by Heaven and shall protect him from the fire of the Hell on the day when the faces of some people would be white and the others black. Whatever property I own in 'Yambao' and its suburbs, I leave all of it as an endowment to achieve the happiness of Allah."
Inspite of excelling in good deeds and worship, while returning from a battle, he was seen exclaiming,
"Certainly, the best deed of a man is to die a martyr. I fear I may not get a chance to achieve martyrdom."
At last the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) informed him:
"O Ali! Your end shall be martyrdom."
We Shall Follow Ali (a.s.)
We may think that it is not possible for sinners like us to come up to the level of a lofty personality like Ali (a.s.) in terms of piety and spiritual realisation.
In reply to this we can say that, though it is not possible for us to reach that stage we can at least try to follow his commands as much as possible. For example, if a child sees a shining cobra, it is possible that he may try to catch it and risk being bitten to death?
Let us suppose the child is accompanied by his father. In such a situation the father who is aware of the poisonous qualities of the cobra will shout warnings and move forward to rescue the child.
O the heedless one! Is not Ali (a.s.) your spiritual father and the virtual guide? Are you not the claimant of his love and Wilayat. If your reply is positive then you must strive to follow and imitate your master as much as possible. The hardships and the punishments of the Day of Judgement make one shudder with horror and one cannot be complacent about the preparations of this last journey. If you are a true Shia of Ali (a.s.) then he is the best model for you. Ali (a.s.) has himself said,
"You cannot imitate me entirely, but you can imitate (to some extent) and follow us."
"Our Shias are only those who follow us."
Warning of the Leader
The leader of the caravan issues warning regarding the dangers of the journey and advises his followers to make all the necessary provisions for the perils and the wild animals they would encounter. Every person will be responsible for himself. Saying this he himself busies himself in preparations. The fear of the impending journey makes him terror-stricken.
Seeing their leader in this condition the followers respond by feeling a similar concern for the journey and its preparations.
Let us not be complacent and heedless, and waste precious moments. Let us follow our Imam (a.s.) faithfully, so that we do not have to face remorse on the Day of Judgement.
The Chief of the Caravan is Terror-Stricken
O! the caravans of piety and belief. The leader of your caravan, Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is extremely afraid of the pitfalls of the last journey. He has issued clear warnings regarding the dangers. Every night he announced at the Masjid-e-Kufa,
"Travellers! may Allah have Mercy upon you. Pack up the provisions for your journey and be prepared. Certainly you have in your path deep ravines and terrible dangers. There is no alternative but to traverse this path."
After this he used to say,
"It is a pity! The provisions are meagre and the journey extremely long and the destination, great."
It is truly deplorable that our involvement in worldly affairs has created a wide unsurmountable gap between us and our Imam (a.s.). We have been completely cut off from his virtuous life and perfect morals. May Allah protect us from departing His influence to follow the misguidance of Satan. Certain sins cause us to be deprived of the Wilayat of Allah and love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and lead us to the wilayat of Satan. After this we come under the control of Satan who rules us totally. Let us take refuge with Allah from such a doom.
Insulting a Believer Expels One From Wilayat
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"If a person slanders a believer to disclose his faults to the public, or to insult him, Allah expels him from His Wilayat and leaves him to the Wilayat of Satan."
"Like the Satan when he says to man: Disbelieve, but when he disbelieves, he says: I am surely clear of you; surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds."
(Surah Hashr 59:16)
Fifth Greater Sin
The fifth Greater Sin is the murder of that person whose execution has not been ordered by Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Traditions which confirm that murder is a Greater Sin have already been mentioned at the beginning. Moreover the verses of the Holy Quran mention clearly the Divine punishment for the murderers.
"And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement."
(Surah Nisa 4:93)
The fifth Greater Sin is the murder of that person whose execution has not been ordered by Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Traditions which confirm that murder is a Greater Sin have already been mentioned at the beginning. Moreover the verses of the Holy Quran mention clearly the Divine punishment for the murderers.
Five types of punishments have been ordained for those who kill the believers. First, Hell; Second, Eternal abode in Hell; Third, involvement in the Divine wrath; Fourth, being the accursed by Allah; Fifth, the Great Chastisement.
Permanent Chastisement is Exclusively For unbelievers
One of the beliefs of the Shia Ithna Ashari school of thought is that eternal punishment is only for the Kuffar (Unbelievers). In other words, if a person dies in belief, he will not linger under punishment forever, even if he has killed a believer (or someone else whose killing has been prohibited according to the Divine command), or even though he has committed other greater sins. Hence the verse mentioned above has been explained in various ways. One possible explanation is that: one becomes eligible for eternal punishment only if he murders the believer because of his Imaan (belief). If such is the case, then, the killer is indeed liable for everlasting chastisement, for he considered the murder of a Momin as Halaal, whereas it is Haraam. To consider a murder of a believer Haraam is an article of faith. Consequently one who does not have this belief is a Kafir.
The Life and Property of a Muslim are Protected
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage (Hajjatul Wida):
"O People! It is not permitted to kill the Muslims. Similarly to appropriate their property is not allowed. So do not be unjust upon yourselves and do not revert to disbelief after my death."
Another explanation of the afore-mentioned hadith is that "abide in Hell" denotes being under punishment for a very long period. It does not mean that the sinner will be involved in eternal chastisement.
One Murder is Equal to the Killing the Whole of Humanity
"Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for a manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men."
(Surah Maidah 5:32)
All the believers are sons of Adam (a.s.) and brothers to one another. One who kills another person perpetrates a great evil and instigates a feeling of malice, revenge and hatred among people.
Suicide is Murder
The Almighty Allah says:
"....and do not kill ourselves; surely Allah is Merciful to you. And whoever does this aggressively and unjustly, We will soon cast him into Fire; and this is easy for Allah."
(Surah Nisa 4:29-30)
Allah prohibits the believers from suicide even in times of turmoil.
Enlivening the People
".....and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men."
(Surah Maidah 5:32)
If one saves the life of a "protected soul" whose killing has been prohibited by religion, be it forgiving, or not avenging, or protecting him, it is as if he has given life to the whole humanity. By saving one person he has; in a sense; saved humanity.
Murder is the worst sin in the eyes of Allah and severe punishment has been prescribed for a killer. The opposite of this, that is, saving the life of a person is accordingly regarded as the greatest form of worship.
A Murderer Does Not Die a Muslim
The following tradition is indicative of the fact that murder is a Greater Sin.
Regarding the killing of a believer, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
At the time of his death the killer is told. 'Die as you wish, die as a Jew or a Christian or as a Magian.'
"A believer is free in the vast expanse of his belief till he colours his hands with the blood of a Momin."
Imam (a.s.) further says:
"One who kills a believer intentionally is deprived of the 'Tawfeeq' of repenting (for his sins)."
One Who Instigates a Murder is the Actual Killer
The third tradition, also from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was told that a Muslim has been killed and his corpse is lying on the street. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his companions reached the site of the murder, he enquired as to who the killer was."
The people said, "We do not know." The Prophet was surprised,
"A person has been killed among the Muslims, and no one knows of his killer?"
"By the Almighty who appointed me with Prophethood, If all the creatures of the heavens and the earth participate in the murder of a Muslim and be pleased upon that, then Allah would surely involve them in punishment and send them all to Hell."
The lesson derived from this hadith is that there is no difference between the killer and those who support or co-operate with him.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"On the day of Qiyamat a person would be presented before Allah. He will be having a streak of blood (like one gets a cut while shaving). He will say,
'By Allah, I have not killed anyone. Not have I co-operated with anyone's murder.' Allah will say, 'Yes, but one day you spoke about a believer and your words caused him to be killed. Hence you are responsible for his murder.'"
Hazrat Imam Reza (a.s.) said,
"If someone is killed in the east and one who lives in the west is pleased upon this, then he is a partner in this murder."
Abortion is Haraam
It is Haraam to abort an unborn child. Like in the case of a murder, diyah (prescribed fine) has to be paid here too. There is no difference between a foetus and a full-grown man. Even if the killers are its own parents. If a woman takes medicine that causes abortion, she would be liable for the punishment of a murderer.
The penalty (diyah) for killing a 'protected soul' (Nafse Mohtaram) is one thousand misqal of gold.
If the killers are the parents themselves they do not inherit any part of diyah but the other relatives who are eligible for the inheritance are qualified for it.
To Abort a Foetus Intentionally is Haraam
It is evident from the foregoing discussion that human life is considered sacred by the Islamic Shariat. Nothing has been given so much importance like the one reserved for the 'protected soul' (Nafs-e-Mohtaram). So much so that the beginning point of the human life, that is, the fertilised ovum is also not to be wasted. Once conception has taken place, no abortion is allowed. The 'diyah' (penalty) for abortion is as follows:
If the fertilised ovum is aborted the 'diyah' is sixty misqal.
If bones have formed it is eighty misqal.
If an incomplete child is aborted whose features have become distinct but the soul not entered the body, the penalty is one hundred misqal.
If soul had entered it and it was a male child, diyah is one thousand misqal, and if female, it is five hundred misqal.
If a pregnant woman dies, it is necessary to remove the unborn child by operation. Any carelessness in this regard is 'Haraam'.
If due to carelessness the child dies, diyah is wajib upon the one who was responsible for the lapse.
Repenting For Murder
By way of repentance, a person who has committed a willful murder should surrender himself to the heir of the murdered person. The successors of the murdered person have a choice of either avenging the death or accepting the 'diyah'. That is, they can forgive him or kill him in retribution.
If the murderer is forgiven, three things become obligatory on him:
1) Freeing a slave
2) Feeding sixty poor people
3) Keeping sixty fasts
If freeing a slave is not allowed by the law, the other two penalties should be fulfilled.
Accidental and Intended Murder
Even in the case of an accidental murder the heirs of the victim are to be paid the 'diyah'. But they should forgive the killer.
Apart from this the three penalties should be imposed, that is, freeing a slave, feeding sixty people and fasting for sixty days.
Similarly cutting off a part of someone's body is a Greater Sin. Those who intend to study this subject in detail are requested to refer to the books of Jurisprudence.
source : GREATER SINS/Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)