إنَّ الدُّنيا كَالحَيَّةِ، لَيِّـنٌ مَسُّها، قاتِلٌ سَمُّها، فَأعْرِضْ عَمّا يُعْجِبُكَ فيها لِقِلَّةِ ما يَصْحَبُكَ مِنْها، وَ كُنْ آنَسَ ما تَكُونُ بِها أحْذَرَ ما تَكُونُ مِنْها
This world is like a snake: its skin is soft, but its venom is deadly. Therefore, avoid what you find attractive in it, because you will take little of it when you depart. And as much as it makes you happy, be vigilant.
خَفِ اللّهَ يُؤمِنْكَ، وَ لا تأمَنْهُ فَيُعَذِّبَكَ
Fear Allah and he will make you safe, but if you do not fear him he will punish you.
Fearing Allah and avoiding sins is a cornerstone in the practice of Islam. In sermon 64 of Nahjul Balagha, Ali bin abi Talib said:
O creatures of Allah! Fear Allah and anticipate your death by good actions. Purchase everlasting joy by paying transitory things – pleasures of this world. Get ready for the journey, for you are being driven, and prepare yourselves for death, since it is hovering over you.
We discussed the importance of keeping hope in Allah in a previous post. Fear and hope should both be present in one’s heart:
Man’s psyche should contain a perfect balance of fear and hope.
Here is a good article about the same subject.
لايُحْسِنُ عَبْدٌ الظَّنَّ بِاللّهِ سُبْحانَهُ إلاّ كانَ اللّهُ سُبْحانَهُ عِنْدَ أحسْنِ ظَنِّهِ بِهِ
If the believer keeps his hope in Allah, Allah will not let him down.
Islam has put great importance on the virtue of keeping hope in Allah. The following verse from Surat Yūsuf (Joseph) talks about it:
“O my sons! go ye and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s Soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah’s Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.”
No matter how big and numerous are the sins of a person, Allah will forgive him if and when true repentance happens. To despair from Allah’s mercy is the second greatest sin in Islam, the first being Shirk. Another sin is Qunut (despondence), which is considered the third greatest sin in Islam.
Hope in Allah extends to worldly matters too. A positive mental attitude is a fundamental factor in reaching success in business, education, sports, health, family, etc…
Research has shown that through emotional intelligence training and positive psychology therapy one’s attitudes and perceptions can be modified to improve their personal and professional life.
إنَّ هذا الأمْرَ لَيْسَ بِكُمْ بَدَأَ، وَ لا إلَيْكُمُ انْتَهى ، وَ قَدْ كانَ صاحِبُكُمْ هذا يُسافِرُ، فَعُدُّوهُ في بَعْضِ سَفَراتِهِ ، فَإنْ قَدِمَ عَلَيْكُمْ ، وَ إلاّ قَدِمْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ
قاله عليه السلام عند تعزية قوم بميت
Condoling relatives of a deceased person, Ali bin Abi Talib said:
This matter did not start with you, and it does not end with you. Your companion was traveling, so consider him in one of his travels; he will either arrive to your place, or you will arrive to his place.
اَلتَّقْوى حِصْنُ المُؤْمِنِ
Taqwa is the faithful’s fortress.
Taqwa (تقوى) is defined in Islam as the avoidance of sin. It is roughly translated into the English concept of piety and God-fearing. The Holy Quran says in Surat Al-Baqarah
And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah
Taqwa is the subject of many sermons by Ali bin Abi Talib. In sermon 156 of Nahjul Balaghah he says:
Know O’ creatures of Allah! that piety is a strong house of protection while impiety is a weak house which does not protect its people, and does not give security to him who takes refuge therein.
And in sermon 189
You should therefore exercise fear of Allah because it has a rope whose twist is strong and its pinnacle is lofty and invulnerable. Hasten toward death in its pangs (by doing good acts) and be prepared for it before its approach, because the ultimate end is the Day of Judgement. This is enough preaching for one who understands and enough of a lesson for one who does not know. What idea do you have, before reaching that end, of the narrowness of grave, the hardship of loneliness, fear of the passage towards the next world, the pangs of fear, the shifting of ribs here and there (due to narrowing of the grave), the deafness of ears, the darkness of the grave, fear of the promised punishment, the closing of the receptacle of the grave and the laying of stones?
And in sermon 197:
Now then, I advise you to fear Allah, Who created you for the first time; towards Him is your return, with Him lies the success of your aims, at Him terminate (all) your desires, towards Him runs your path of right and He is the aim of your fears (for seeking protection). Certainly, fear of Allah is the medicine for your hearts, sight for the blindness of your spirits, the cure for the ailments of your bodies, the rectifier of the evils of your breasts, the purifier of the pollution of your minds, the light of the darkness of your eyes, the consolation for the fear of your heart and the brightness for the gloom of your ignorance.
أرْبَعٌ مَنْ اُعْطِيَهُنَّ فَقَدْ اُعْطِيَ خَيْرَ الدُّنْيا وَالآخِرَةِ : صِدْقُ حَديث، وَأداءُ أمانَة، وَ عِفَّةُ بَطْن، وَ حُسْنُ خُلق
Four virtues, whoever has them will have the good of this world and the afterworld: honesty of speech, rendering of trusts (being trustworthy), eating from lawful sources, and possessing good manners.
This quote summarized four important virtues to be perfected by a Muslim in his lifetime. Follow these links to know more about them:
إن اليوم عمل ولا حساب وغدا حساب ولا عمل
Today there are deeds and no judgment, and tomorrow there will be judgment and no deeds.
The Imam is drawing our attention to the opportunity we have been given in this world to prepare for the afterlife. Once we die, we don’t have it anymore and the only thing we have in the afterlife is judgment of our deeds, whether good or bad.