Shaping of the Character through the Words of Wisdom

You should avoid making friends with a fool - ahmaq because he may intend to help you but may indeed harm you. you should avoid making friends with a miser - bakheel because he will run away from you when you need him most. You should avoid making friends with a liar - kaazib because he is like a mirage, making you feel that distant things are near and near things distant.

Among the most important Islamic tenets which both Mohammad Rasoolullaah (saws) and Maulaana Ali (as) have enjoined is the issue of selecting good friends and associates . Those who have developed evil or indecent characters may produce negative effects on friends and associates, inflicting upon them irreparable damage. Due attention should be made to bad traits such as hypocricy, ignorance, miserliness, evil doing and lying. And remember that those with such qualities are not worthy of being befriended. Hypocrites (munaafiq) are the most distrustful and unjust people and they are not the true faithful to the Imaam but only act to be a faithful. They are pure liar as what they have to say is not they have to do. Every time they meet someone they only think to decieve him in one way or the other. No doubt they are too sweet in words but are equally too bitter for friendship.

An ignorant person, although he may be kind and intimate, since he has not sufficient reasoning , cannot discern benefits and losses .For this reason, even though he may desire some benefit to his friend, out of ignorance he may perform actions detrimental to his friend.

A stingy or shortsighted person, since he is attached to ordinary things more than anything else, will continue his friendship with others as long as they do not stand in need of him. If one of the friends of a stingy person should need him, he will not be ready to renounce his worldly possessions and will abandon his friend at the moment of his greatest need; possibly even when a little help might save his life. A stingy person will most surely abandon a friend even in moments of dire need.

An evil-doer who commits debauchery and corruption in the land – is also among those we should avoid making friends with. An evil-order loses his human dignity and honor, his happiness and salvation on the last day, an exchange that he has made for the trifling pleasures of the life. Therefore, it is more certain that such a person will not value his friends either, bartering his friendship for any petty consideration that might appeal to him.

A liar, too, is not worthy of friendship because he thinks only in terms of deceiving others. A liar can be likened to a mirage, an effect produced by hot air conditions causing an optical illusion, especially the illusive appearance of a pool of water in the desert. The liar always presents good deeds as bad ones by telling lies, projecting bad deeds as good ones. Consequently, one who befriends a liar, will be deceived by his words and develop two major defects in life: firstly, he will turn away from good acts because he imagines them to be bad; and secondly, he will be impelled to commit bad deeds, since due to the ill-advice of his lying friend he will assume those bad deeds to be good ones.

“When you want to befriend someone, be careful that he may not be among these groups.” Maulaana Ali (as) has given this advice on keeping away from and not befriending such types of people for the expediency and benefit of a mumin.


Islam is an invitation to righteous deeds and fruitful thinking, in order to strengthen the reason we must seriously decide that before resolving any action its overall worldly and eternal results as well as ultimate consequences must be thoroughly reviewed. This should be practiced till gradually it becomes a habit. It is because of this consideration that Islam encourages us to think about the ultimate outcome of our actions.

Rasoolullaah (saws) said that, “A thought for an hour is better than the prayer of one thousand rak'ats.” Maulana Ali (A.S) said that, “By means of pondering deeply into your daily chores, make your heart aware and knowledgeable about those tasks, pondering invites a person towards good works and actions.” He also said, “Thinking about its result before any action makes you safe against feeling sorry later on.”

Once a man approached Rasoolullaah (saws) and asked him, “Oh Messenger of Allah! Please advise me.” The Prophet replied, “Will you follow my recommendation?” ‘Yes! I will', replied the man. This question and answer was repeated three times. Then the Prophet said, “My recommendation is that whenever you wanted to decide to undertake an action, then firstly you must ponder well about its eventual fallout. In case you found it good then go ahead and do it, but in case you realize that it is not good to get involved, then don't do it."

Rasoolullaah (saws) also said that, “People were ruined because of being hasty. If they would have pondered about their action none of them would have been ruined.” He also said, ‘Some delay in our actions and thinking about its consequences are blessings from Allah while haste is from Shaitaan.”

The animals in their actions follow the passions of their instincts and do not have the power of thinking and reasoning, but since a human being possesses reason, he must contemplate and review the pros and cons before undertaking any action. Nevertheless, a man also possesses the same desires and animalistic passions, therefore, immediately reacts, get moved, and captivated as soon as he is faced with a desirable object of an opposite sex from his own genus. In this situation animal passions do not allow him to resort to thinking because once reason enters the scene it will prevent the action taken in accordance with animalistic passions.

Human beings are bestowed with intellect and therefore it is incumbent upon him to use his intellect before doing any action. Actions gets translated by the words spoken from heart, there is a fruitful communication and a sound communiqué between the heart and the mind of an intelligent individual. This is the reason that Allah speaks about the people of good thoughts in Qur'an whenever He advises and admonishes the people of the Book.


One has to apologize for the mistake that he has committed.

There should be punishment after every mistake.

He who repents after committing mistake is a real man.

He who feels proud after committing mistake is an evil man.

He who never realizes his mistake after committing it is not a human being (is an animal).

He who feels guilty of his mistakes is a Muslim.

He who feels happy after committing mistake is unfaithful to himself.

He who never commits a mistake is the most merciful.

He who makes mistake in reciting “Laa ilaaha illallaah” is the biggest blemisher.

He who commits mistake intentionally is a big blunderer.

Allah Ta'aala pardons all the small mistakes if they are overcome. Mistakes compounds and builds up if not overcome and then they are not pardoned unless repented for.


“Do not keep the company of those who fail to accept advice unless when suffering and affliction befall them.”

A wise man accepts advice politely and calmly. It is only the four-footed animal that will obey and come to the right path unless it is beaten or lashed.

The human being who is of the most superior creatures of Allah, and had been called “The noblest of creatures”. One of the most important distinctions between man and animals is that man accepts the advice and guidelines laid down by older and wiser people. Animals, however, do not accept advice, and their owners or the herd of animals are compelled to guide them to the right path or keep them always from dangers. Sometimes this is accomplished by lashing or beating them with a stick.

A wise person knows that his partners or teachers or other older persons who are more knowledgeable and experienced than him desire his good interests. For this reason, when they observe that their small child or student is going astray, they advise him in order to keep him from aberrations and dangers.

Thus if one wise, he will listen to the advice of older, more experienced persons in a calm, polite manner. But, at times, there may be found some individuals who fail to accept the advice of these persons and continue on the wrong path.

Sometimes even parents are compelled to use physical force in order to educate their children if they have failed to accept their advice and kind words. A wise man, however, never performs an act as a result of which he deserves to be treated like an animal that is beaten in order to obey instructions. Wise people, therefore, accept the advice and guidance of older people politely and calmly, and in this way will be led on the path of happiness and success.


“If someone is quick to express what they dislike in others, they speak without true and discerning knowledge concerning those persons.”

One who hurts people with his biting words or deeds is most detestable in the eyes of others.

When one says or does something without proper consideration, it is clear that others will come to think in terms of retaliation. In this case the person retaliating acts in much the same manner, acting hastily and not considering his words.

Of course, such retaliatory dealing is not good either. Yet this, most unfortunately, is the result of deeds of one who hurts people and hastens to that which is detested by others.


“Loss of opportunity results in sorrow.”

Man's life is short and the opportunities of life are shorter still. With the passage of each day man loses many opportunities.

As opportunity ‘does knock twice', we should make the best use of those opportunities that do arise. Time, like opportunity, is also important.

If we lose the time we have at our disposal today, it will not come again tomorrow. Tomorrow we will have other duties which should be performed at their proper time. If we postpone the performance of our duties then we shall lose opportunities in days to come.

So every duty should be performed at its proper time otherwise we may not have time for it later.

For example, childhood and youth are prime times for receiving education and acquiring knowledge. If a person loses this opportunity, he may lose the chance of education in later years as he may have many others duties to perform such as earning a living and seeing to family affairs.

This is why we should welcome opportunities and make the best of them; otherwise, if we lose them, it could mean irreparable loss for ourselves.


“He who himself is in a situation of ill-repute should not blame those who harbor suspicious about him.”

One of Islamic teachings is that Muslims should not be satisfied with simply refraining from evil deeds. Believing Muslims should also abstain from listening to or watching others performing such actions.

Hazrat Ali (AS) has guided his followers in these very teachings of Islam. According to him, a Muslim should not go to a place where people indulge in vicious and sinful acts. For instance, he should not go to a gambling house or a wine shop. By going to such places he exposes himself to peoples' suspicion and slander, and in this way he brings calumny upon himself. He may not be a gambler or a drunkard but when he is seen in such places people may suspect his activities.

It is clear that if a man is defamed in such a situation, then he should not blame others for such defamation. It is his own fault that by going to such places he has raised suspicions in others' hearts.

A man is free as long as he has not made a promise to execute a certain duty."

Islam has laid much stress on keeping promises. One of the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims is that if a Muslim gives a promise, he cannot back out of it under any circumstances.

Thus a Muslim should always be attentive to his promises and undertakings. If he does not keep to his word, he indeed shows indifferences to the teachings of Islam.

So one should never make promises without considering everything carefully. If one cannot fulfill his promise it is possible that he causes irreparable loss to himself, another individual or to society as a whole. And a believing Muslim is never ready to see others suffer on his account.

So in order to stress the importance of keeping promises, Hazrat Ali (AS) has said; “When you are requested something, you are free as long as you have not promised to fulfill it. But the moment you accept to fulfill it, and then you have made yourself slave to another and must fulfill your obligations.”

Therefore by making promises, man has so much responsibility that he can be said to be slave of his own promise and has no alternative but to fulfill it.


The most helpless of all is one who cannot find a few whom he can call brothers during his lifetime, but more helpless still is he who finds a brother and then loses him.”

Man's power does not only lie in physical force and strength of muscles, but also in spiritual and moral prowess which is more valuable than physical or bodily strength. Physical strength is depleted and destroyed with the coming of old age, but spiritual and moral strength increases with the passage of time, making man spiritually stronger and enriched in experience.

Therefore, we should not only value and strive to reserve our physical health and strength, but we should also endeavor to enrich our spiritual and moral prowess.

Hazrat Ali (AS) says; “One of the signs of the power of spirit and morality is that man can find many friends through the acquisition of good morals and proper, human behavior. Therefore one who cannot make friends is weak and helpless spiritually. But more helpless than such a person is one who is unable to retain a friend he has found because of his bad behavior or poor morality thus remaining isolated and alone in social life. To hold on one's friends is more difficult than finding new ones because it requires greater spiritual and moral power.


“Lau lam yatawa’adil laaho ‘ala ma’seyatehi lakaana yajebo an laa yo’saa shukran lene’amehi.” “If God had not implanted fear in His creatures to dissuade them from disobeying Him and committing sin, it would still be incumbent on man not to sin, but instead show gratitude for His blessings.”

He who commits sin and disobeys God in fact wastes the gifts God has granted him because such a person must employ certain potentials in order to commit a sinful act. Yet God has not endowed man with these potentials for the purpose of committing sin and disobeying Him.

Consider one who intends to act contrary to God’s orders and commit a sin : for example, a thief. All the various organs if such a person should perform their functions with all their possible strength so that the thief is capable of committing his sinful deed. The lungs of such a person should function well so as to inhale fresh air that can keep him fit and alive. His heart should similarly be in good condition so that blood can circulate through his body. His eyes should be able to see so that he can clearly chart his path. His legs, too, should be able to move easily for him to be able to make pace and proceed on the path he has charted. His ears should be able to hear so that he can discern the sound of people approaching so that he may escape. His hands should have the capability to work deftly so that he may open doors and grab whatever objects he wishes to steal. His brain should fulfill its proper functions so that all other organs of his body may receive its orders. If any of these organs – that is, one of the gifts God has granted man – fails to perform its functions properly, the thief will not be able to commit his crime.

Therefore, for a sinner to commit a sin in disobedience to God’s law, he must use all the potential God has granted him for doing good and correct works. But the sinner by his wrongdoing destroys and wastes the gifts and forces God has granted him by committing sin in whatever form it may be.

Of course, God desired only good for His servants and implanted fear of sin and disobedience in them. But even if God had not given man such warnings and implanted this fear of punishment, man still has no right to despoil God’s gifts and blessings by putting them to wrong use. Man instead should be grateful for such blessings as the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and movement, and for the thousands of other voluntary and involuntary functions of the body. These have been entrusted to man by God for the purposes of doing good and man should never misuse these blessings by committing sin.


“Abstain from sin and disobedience to Allah even in private, for the one who sees your sin (that is Allah) will himself judge them.”

Certain short-sighted individuals imagine that if they commit sinful acts in private without anyone observing, they will be immune from punishment. They are unaware that Allah is ubiquitous and watches over the deeds of his creatures in private and when alone.

Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (peace be upon him), the 5 th Imaam said: One who commits sin in private can be likened to a person sitting in his personal room on a ship, making a hole in the floor. Although there is no one to observe such an act or even attempt to stop it, or punish the doer, such a person will almost be affected by the consequence of his deed. On account of his/her wrongdoing, others may also sustain damage. Causing water to flood in the ship will eventually lead to the sinking of the ship itself and all those abroad. Hence, even if a sin is committed in private, not only will be the sinner be punished, but there will be some sort of negative effect on society as well.

On the other hand, in relation to the Allah, man should know that even when committing sin in private Allah watches over and observes each person's sin. The sinner then on the Day of Judgment has no escape from the consequence of his deeds before Allah.


“Before you inquire about the path, inquire about the one who will accompany you on the path; and before choosing a house, inquire about the neighbors."

Based on this saying of the holy Imam, a proverb has come to be popular in the Persian language which reads: “Tell me who your friend is, so that I can tell you what kind of man you are.” And a famous poet has also in corporated this same proverb in to verse:

“You, first say: whom did you live with?
So then may I tell you who you are?”

Ameer ul-Mumineen Maulana Ali (peace be upon him) warns us through this saying that man should take care at the time of traveling to keep aloof from bad and corrupt companions along the road. Also, when choosing a house one should be careful not to choose disreputable or misguided persons as one’s neighbors. Corrupt travel lings companions and misguided neighbors, in addition to bringing harm and troubles of their own; also have a detrimental effect on man’s soul as a result of close association.

It is possible that after a period of association with such persons, one would be drown into corruption and deviation himself.For this reason one must be careful and vigilant in every situation, making sure his associations are with pure and upright people.

If ever in choosing a path or performing an act we are met by doubt or hesitation—or if we see that we our selves cannot choose the right path—it is better to consult with and follow the wise advice of other individuals before setting out. That is to say, we should consult with those whose sound reasoning, far-sightedness and faiths have been proven, so that we may also follow in the right path. In this manner, we will not only enjoy the benefits of good company, but will also not be led into lives of corruption.


"Whoever approves of the actions of another person or group, it is as if he/she has been an accomplice to their acts; an whoever cooperates in a wrong action, there will be two sins for him: the sin of partaking in that act, and the sin of condoning it."

Islam is a religion which always discourages its followers from living within the confines of their own lives, separated from the rest of society in contrast; it encourages an active social life in which all have duties and responsibilities to fulfill towards one another. Islam has laid down perfect laws regarding social interaction which are reflected in their various aspects and dimensions through Islamic teachings.

Based on these laws, leading a pure and righteous life does not mean that we should seclude ourselves from others and engage in worship and prayers. For, in this case, even if we commit no sin, we still share in the sins others commit before our very eyes and with our knowledge. In other words, a true believing Muslim must not remain silent and indifferent to wrong doings of others.

Silence in these circumstances is proof and reason that he is not opposed to those wrong acts; and one who does not object is essentially condoning such acts. By condoning acts of wrong doings, one is in facts taking parts in those acts.

This why Ameer ul-Mumineen Hazrat Ali (peace is upon him) said: “A believing Muslim has no right to remain silent in the face of the wrong deeds of others.”Remaining silent is actually one’s consent of an act, and through such consent he has actually become an accomplice in the wrongdoing.


“Whenever in a single case two differing views, one of the two is inevitably wrong.”

It often happens that two persons or groups have differing opinions regarding a matter. Each of the parties views his claims to be right and truthful and that of the other to be wrong and invalid.

However, since there is only one right way in every issue or dispute (and truth cannot be altered to suit various individual needs), it should be inevitably accepted that at least one of the two claims is wrong and misleading.

Therefore it is impossible for two persons who make two different claims on a subject to be both right, so the duty of one who faces such individuals or groups is to carefully study the opinions of both the sides. By carefully consideration, one may be able to discern what the right way is and steer clear of the wrong way.


“As the human intellect advances towards perfection, he will talk less.”

Man, to whatever extent his reason and intellect develops, moving towards perfection, to that same extent he will talk less and instead engage more in thinking and reflection. Those who talk excessively and do not check their tongue, usually possess little intellect and reasoning. They often do not think about what they say and whatever comes to their lips, they express without much afterthought.

On contrary, however, men to intellect do not seek on the subject unless they first study the subject well and examine its various aspects. For this reason, they speak little and spend more time in reflection.

Maulaana Ali Ameer ul-Mumineen (peace be upon him) says in another narration: “The tongue of the man of intellect lies behind his reasoning.” This means, of course, that the man of intellect uses his power of reasoning before his tongue. In every situation he first puts to use his power of his reasoning faculty and when he becomes assured of the correctness of his words, he uses his tongue to speak. An unwise person, causes trouble for himself as well as for others by expressing absurd and uncalculated words.


“Anger is a kind of madness because the victim of anger loses the right use of his mind for a time and repents afterwards. If he does not realize and repent, his madness continues and is confirmed.”

An angry person in an agitated state of wrath cannot maintain a steady state of nerves or control his behavior. Consequently, an angry person is moved to act in ways which are repulsive to sound reason, may utter abusive language and quarrel with others causing injury to himself or others. Many times the anger and bad-temperedness of a single individual leads to arguments on a larger scale among family members and friends may be even leading to crimes or catastrophes, causing irreparable damage.

In this ugly state of anger, a bad-tempered person creates many problems and his mind is in a state of madness. In such a state he loses control and becomes completely obvious to what he is doing.

However, after his anger subsides, the person soon regrets his actions, and his repentance is a sure sign that he has come back to his proper state of mind and realizes his mistakes. He will himself come to realize that in times of anger he has been caught up by a kind of madness.

Because of his behavior and detestable morality, he remains isolated in social life. To hold onto one's friends is more difficult than finding new ones; to preserve a friendship requires great spiritual and moral power.

If someone does not regret hi evil acts after his anger cools down, it becomes clear that his state of madness has not been temporary and passing, but rather that his anger continues to hold and rule over him.


“To preserve and value what you yourself possess is in fact nobler than desiring and seeking that others possess.”

There are those who are never satisfied with what they possess; they are constantly thinking of obtaining greater amounts of wealth. All their life forced is spent in obtaining property and wealth rather than being used for self-purification and progress towards faith and piety (taqwaa). The more such individuals obtain, the more they desire, and their eyes are fixed on and their hearts long for the possessions of others. They go so far as to abuse and defame the personality and self-respect of others so as to take advantage of what belongs to them.

There are also those individuals who borrow costly clothes from a neighbor, friend or family member when they want to attend a party in order to make a greater show of themselves. They themselves may have neat and usable clothing, but they feel that what others have is more presentable.

Another is that in which such an individual may invite guests to his home. He does not bring out the ordinary, and perhaps less expensive, bowls and plates for use at the table and instead may even borrow more costly dishes to put before his guests. When serving food and drinks, such individuals place no value on human character and self-respect, and this is against Islamic instructions.

Maulana Ali (AS) also has other notable sayings in this regard:

  1. Content yourself with what you possess and do not lay greedy eyes on the belongings of others.
  2. Preserve your human character and self-respect and be satisfied with what you possess so that you can be relieved of the abject state of requesting from others.
  3. Do not defame or discredit yourself through waste and extravagance and do not covet another's possessions.
  4. Do not be guilty of ingratitude to what Allah has granted you. Be always thankful for Allah's blessings; be they few or many, so that you may be satisfied with what you possess and so that you may try to preserve it. You should not be negligent in reserving your belongings or destroy them because they are modest or inexpensive, thereby having to look to others for your needs.

“Backbiting is the crassest of traits of a weak person.”

Backbiting simply means speaking about one who is not present, usually in an unfavorable way. This is one of the most undesirable actions according to Maulana Ali (AS).

One who backbites is, without doubt, a weak and timid individual. As he sits and speaks ill of one who is absent, he obviously reveals that he does not dare to confront with that person. Since he does not have the courage to face such people, he resorts to the cowardly act of backbiting. A true Muslim, if he has certain complaints or criticisms to make of someone, should gently and openly enjoin that person to good deeds and warn him against evil acts. With courage and based in Islamic ethics, he should speak to him face to face without fear or timidity.

Even of one's criticism and fault-finding may not be motivated by sincere considerations and originates from envy and short-sightedness, he should never speak in an unfavorable way about a person who is more competent than him and who has made great progress and advancement, By doing this, he is only hurting and disgracing himself.


“What a difference there is between two kinds of actions: an act whose pleasures passes away but the evil consequences of which remain, and an act whose hardship pass away but of which the reward remains and will be paid.”

Allah created man free and endowed him with freedom of choice, reason and the discrimination to choose the path of his life freely and act as he wishes according to his own will. However, on the Day of Judgement, one who has done good deed will be rewarded and one who has committed an evil act will be punished accordingly.

Hazrat Ali (AS) warns us to be aware of the great differences between these two types of deeds and warns that they should not be lured by surface aspects. Both good and evil acts by themselves pass away and may be forgotten but their consequences live on and are not destroyed but are retained and written in the Book in which all of man's deeds are recorded.

We can see many instances of these two types of actions among our friends, classmates and relatives. For example, a student who wastes his time at idle play and merry-making rather than at study should know that all such play is fleeting but his examination results will mark him out as a failure. A consequence of this will be another wasted year of hard work to reclaim his studies.

The student, however, who earnestly takes up the burden of study, will receive the reward of his endeavors in acquiring knowledge which is both immediate and permanent. Knowledge leads to progress and will bring the student both meritorious and pleasurable results which will remain with him throughout his life.

From this simple example we conclude that in sinful acts, pleasurable aspects are only passing and their results will be recorded with Allah bringing the sinner to account on the Day of Judgement. In another example, one who refuses to fast in disobedience to Allah's order during the holy month of Ramzaan may get temporary enjoyment from his eating and drinking, but this is only momentary. The result of such disobedience will remain until the Day of Judgement and Allah will punish the person for disobedience and refusal to fast.

But the one who fasts and endures hunger and thirst for a number of hours before the coming of the evening, reserves for himself an infinite reward which Allah will bestow on him on the Day of Judgement. The temporary suffering endured by the person fasting sill remain with Allah.

All pleasures, as well as hardships, are fleeting but what remains forever are the results of man's deeds. If man has sinned for the gain of transient pleasures, he will be punished; and if he has endured suffering and hardships for the cause of Allah, which are also fleeting, he will be rewarded.


“Friendship and kindness are half of reason and intellect.”

A wise individual is very different from a foolish one, but these differences are not apparent at all times. There are rather special circumstances during which the reasonableness of the man of intellect and the folly of a fool are manifested, showing clearly which of them is wise and which the fool.

One of these circumstances is the manner of dealing with and behaving towards people. The fool does not realize or understand the value of friendship and kindness, and for this reason, he fails to make friends or accommodate the love of others in his heart.

A wise man, however, because of the force of his reason, realizes the value and significance of friendship and kindness and chooses many good friends and always treats them kindly.

Thus, one of the ways which can help us to distinguish between the wise man and the fool is to see which of them makes friends and is kind to others, and which refuses to open the door of kindness and affection.

Since friendship and kindness towards people are important signs of reason, Hazrat Ali (AS) has attached great value to friendship. He has said, “As soon as a person makes friendship with someone and is kind to them, this indicates that he treasures at least half of the natural reason of a man.”


“By looking upon those who are less fortunate than yourselves, you will become more grateful.”

Man should always be thankful for the gifts and blessings Allah has granted him and show that he appreciates those blessings. For whoever is ungrateful of Allah's blessings will squander his gifts and, in the end, be deprived of greater blessings.

To appreciate Allah's blessings, we can look towards those individuals who are less fortunate than ourselves – less fortunate in respect of enjoying Allah's blessings. When we see such persons, we will become more aware of Allah's blessings and be more grateful to Him.

Sheikh Sa'adi, the great Iranian poet, related, “Once in the days of my youth I did not have a pair of shoes and thus, was strongly dissatisfied with my life. But when I went out one day I saw a man sitting near a wall who had no feet. Upon seeing the man, I came to my senses and thanked Allah for my two healthy feet which could carry me just as well without shoes.”

Even though man should be grateful for Allah's blessings and content with that Allah has granted him, this does not mean his life must remain static and he should just accept what life has to offer. On the contrary, he should constantly strive to better his life and the lives of others lest oppressive forces attempt to dominate and deny him of his rights, yet he should never fail to express gratitude for Allah's blessings.


“Do not use sharp tongue against one who has taught you how to speak; and do not use eloquence and power of speech against one who has taught you how to utilize this power.”

Maulana Ali (AS) always reminded people of the importance of showing respect to teachers. He himself was a sea of knowledge, yet he used to say:

“One who teaches me a single word; I will remain his obedient servant to the end of my life.”

Another illuminating example of the importance of respect for teachers in Islam is reflected in the way Rasulullah (SAWS) dealt with the prisoners of war in the early days of Islam. During these wars, Rasulullah (SAWS) offered freedom to those captives who could teach ten Muslims how to read and write.

In his deep and meaningful saying, Maulana Ali (AS) has also underlined the need for respecting teachers; inspired by Rasulullah (SAWS), Hazrat Ali (AS) also encouraged and advised others to hold teachers in great esteem. We should learn from the “Commander of Faithful” not to use sharp words against parents, sisters or elder brothers or against anyone who has taken pains to teach us the art of speech. Thus, we should never use our eloquence against teachers or those who have taught us how to use our tongues because it is ingratitude, a quality which is regarded as one of the worst in Islamic teachings.


“The tongue of the wise man lies behind his heart but the heart of the fool lies behind his tongue.”

When a wise man wants to express something, first he refers to his heart (center of emotion) and his mind, weighing the meaning and good or bad points in what he wishes to express. He also studies the possible consequences. It is only after making sure of the correctness of his words that he uses his tongue.

Therefore, the wise person uses his heart and mind prior to using his tongue. The fool, however, acts contrarily; that is, he thoughtlessly expresses whatever words come to his tongue, without weighing them. Only when a fool's words produce ill effects on others does he come to think of whether his words were correct or not. A fool first uses his tongue and utters ill-considered or rash statements then later refers to his heart and reason, thinking about its good or bad results.

This is why numerous sages have enjoined since days of old: “Do not utter with your tongue a single word which you have not fully thought about.”


Man perceives the worth of good qualities and there importance for the individual and for society thought his God-given conscience. Accordingly, no one is found in human society who does not praise moral virtues and venerate one who possesses them.

The importance man gives to moral virtues needs no explaining, and Islam's extensive moral commandments are plain to anyone. Allah The Almighty says, ‘A soul and he who tempered it, and filled it with its (sense of) iniquity and its (sense of ) duty ----- whoever purifies it will prosper, while whoever stunts it will fail'.

Imaam Saadiq (as) has said in explication of this verse, ‘Allah has shown man what is good and it must be done and what is evil and it must be foregone.' To possess knowledge is a spiritual virtue, and the superiority of the wise over the ignorant is as plain as day.

Man is distinguished from the other animals by his power of reason and wealth of knowledge. Other animals have their own fixed range of instincts, by which they meet their needs in a stereotyped fashion. They can never hope to progress, and they cannot blaze new paths for themselves or others. Only man adds daily to his stock of knowledge and enriches his material and spiritual life through discovery of natural and supernatural laws, studying past ages and laying the foundation for his own and other's future.

Islam does more to encourage people to acquire knowledge than any other ancient or modern social system, than any other religion or legal code. In order to found a radically new culture, Islam has made it incumbent for every Muslim man and woman to acquire knowledge. Mohammad Rasoolullaah (saws) and the Imaam (as) have left us numerous injunctions in this regard. Rasoolullaah (saws) has said, ‘To acquire knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim.' To acquire knowledge is incumbent on everyone, without regard to gender or nature.

Rasoolullaah (saws) has also said, ‘Strive to acquire knowledge from the cradle to the grave'. Each religious obligation is associated with a time. All of them call for maturity; that is, one is required to observe them only upon reaching maturity. Some religious obligations lapse with old age and infirmity. To acquire knowledge, however, is incumbent on us from the day we are born to the day we die, through all the so-called stages of our lives. According to this principle, a Muslim must pursue learning throughout his life and add to his or her stock of knowledge every day of it. The above-quoted tradition has extended the time for this obligation and rendered it universal.

Rasoolullaah (saws) has further said , ‘Seek knowledge, though it be in China,' and ‘Knowledge is the most precious of things, which the believer has lost. He will pursue it even if he must seek it in China' . In accord ance with this command, each Muslim is charged with acquiring knowledge, even if he or she must travel great distances. In the end, one must be prepared to pay any price to recover what one has lost.

Another saying of Rasoolullaah (saws) maintains, ‘Wisdom is the cherished goal of the believers; he will acquire it wherever he finds it'. The only condition to acquiring knowledge is that it be useful to society.

Islam strongly encourages study of the secrets of creation and contemplation of heaven and earth, human nature, history, and the relics of past people as well as study of moral and development of technologies that contribute to human welfare. The following account illustrates how highly Rasoolullaah (saws) valued knowledge. When some unbelievers fell captive to the Muslims during the battle of Badr, he ordered heavy ransoms be demanded to free them, except that some prisoners who knew how to read and write were exempted, on condition that each of them teach the art to ten young Muslims. This was the first adult education program known to history, a great to honour to believers. It is noteworthy that Rasoolullaah (saws) commanded something that has not been witnessed in history before or since: that knowledge be accepted in place of booty, not along with it. No one in the world has seen a victorious commander accept instruction for the young in place of ransom and booty.

Rasoolullaah (saws) visited these classes personally. He called together those who knew how to read and write and ordered that the youths be tested to see what progress they had made. Whatever youths showed the most progress through these tests were given the greatest encouragement.


These are two similar vices, in that one annoys others by abusing them verbally and saying things that displease them or by abusing them physically by doing things that make them uncomfortable. Mischief, correspondingly, consists of doing things that cause people harm. At any rate, these two vices occupy a point diametrically opposite to what man has sought in forming society, an easier life and peace of mind.

Accordingly, because the divine law of Islam attaches the greatest importance to the well-being of society, it has forbidden these two vices. Allah Ta'aala says, Those who annoy believing men and believing women without their having deserved it will assume [the guilt of] slander and [commit] a clear offense against themselves'. Rasoolullaah (saws) has said, ‘One who annoys Muslims has annoyed me, and to annoy me is to annoy Allah. Such people have been cursed in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an. He also said, ‘If someone glares at a Muslim to frighten him, Allah will frighten him on the Day of Resurrection'.


It is certain that, in the dictionary of the human conscience, life is synonymous with life lived with honour. A life that is not paired with honour and human happiness is no life at all. Rather, it is a death more bitterly than natural death, and someone who does not value his own honour and happiness must flee such a base existence as a living death.

In whatever environment we inhabit, in whatever manner we choose to live, we understand through our God-given nature that death in the cause of what we hold sacred is a blessing. According to religious reasoning, nothing is clearer or more logical than this, and has less to do with idle supposition or superstition. One who dies defending his own religious community by religious commandment knows that he has deprived himself of nothing but has given up his sweet yet short-lived life in Allah's way to receive a sweeter, more precious and eternal life whereby his happiness can never decline. As Allah Ta'aala says, Do not think of those who are killed in Allah's way as dead. No, they are living, provided for by their Lord.'

In secular systems, by contrast, human life is seen as confined to this ephemeral earthly life. They cannot say that we have a life or attain to happiness after death. They can only try to inculcate an irrational notion that one who is killed for his country or holy motherland will be remembered as a national hero whose name will be inscribed in gold in the book of history, to live on forever in the manner.

No pious act is as honoured in Islam as laying down one's life in Allah's way. Rasoolullaah (saws) has said, ‘For any virtuous act, there is an act of superior virtue, up to martyrdom, to which no act is superior'. The Mumineen of the first generation sought divine forgiveness through Rasoolullaah (saws) and so attained the lofty state of martyrdom through his du'a and prayers. People did not cry for those who had departed the world through martyrdom, since they were alive and had not died.

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