As we said in our previous issues we are going to tell stories related to Imam Ali(a) and his words of advice given to the people of his time which are also valuable for us today. The sayings of Imam Ali(a) are recorded in a book called Nahj ul Balagheh.
In one of his sermons (sermon 160) Imam Ali, speaking to those in charge of governing people encourages them to be hopeful and have faith in God, and not fear anything or anyone except God. We should remember to be good towards other people and obedient towards God. He says we should understand that God is the All-Powerful and we should have trust in Him and no one else. It is important that we give more importance to God than anyone or anything else.
Imam Ali(a) reminds people that a simple life is better than having a desire for everything and to be good to others is the best thing to do. The Imam gives some examples from the lives of the Prophets. He says by knowing how prophets lived, we can recognise what is bad or evil and what God likes or dislikes us to do.
He suggests to people, especially those in power, to use the Prophets of God as role models. He gives the example of the Prophet Muhammad(s), who had a difficult life as a child but remained thankful to God and was always ready in serving and helping people without the desire of getting rich and powerful.
The second example he talks about is the Prophet Musa(a). Even though Musa was given a very important role to lead his people, we would only ask God to give him simple food [bread]. The Prophet Musa(a) kept himself slim by eating simple food, possibly only vegetables.
Another example of a prophet living a simple life is the Prophet Dawood(a) [David]. Imam Ali(a) says: “if you want to make Dawood(a) your role model let me tell you that he used to make baskets with dry leaves from date trees with his own hands and would say to his friends and companions, ‘which of you would help me to sell these baskets’, and the income of such sales would have been sufficient for him. He ate bread made of barley bought with that money.”
The other example is that of the Prophet Isa(a) [Jesus] son of Maryam(a) [Mary]. Imam says: “ Jesus(a), is one of the most important Prophets of God. He would use a stone as his pillow, would wear rough garments and eat dry bread and this was sufficient for him. The moon was his guiding light at night and his shelter in the winter was the sky of the east and the west. His food was fruit and vegetables and what grew from the earth for the cattle. He had no wife to have a love for and no children to worry about. He had no desire for the world so he would not bring himself low in front of the world. His means of transport was his own two feet and his servants were his two hands.”
He then describes more about the Prophet Muhammad’s(s) way of life. “Look at the life of the Messenger of God, who is a source of pride and greatness. God sent the Prophet as a messenger, bringing good news and a warning to humankind. He was the best of the creations in childhood, purest when growing up, the humblest one in adulthood, the most trusted among people and the most giving to those who approached him.”
As Imam Ali(a) said, the lives of the Prophets give us a good measure to recognise what is good or bad. The more we follow their examples the more we should consider those persons good and trustworthy and should follow them. Our role models are Prophets [the messengers of God] and the chosen and pious Imams of Ahl ul Bayt(a). The more a lifestyle is closer to their examples, the closer we get to God.
Until the next sermon.