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Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as): Let's view things differently

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) HadithAny good act, no matter how small and minimal, may as a matter of fact act as a long ladder in reaching Allah's (SWT) satisfaction. Or any evil act, no matter how small and minimal, may results in Allah's (SWT) wrath. The same matter can be applied to our peers; a person whom we may have overlooked at all times may be in fact an eminent servant of Allah (SWT).

This mentality is one taught by the divine leaders. Accordingly, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) has said:

"Verily Allah (SWT) has hidden three facts in three acts:

  • He has hidden His satisfaction in His obedience; thus never undervalue an act of worship, lest His eventual satisfaction may be in that specific worship.
  • He has hidden His wrath in His disobedience; thus never underestimate a sin, lest that very sin accompanies his ultimate wrath.
  • And finally, He has hidden His chosen people amongst His servants; thus never undervalue any of His servants, lest that person is in fact the selected."

Why does Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) insist upon making sure "no mater how small, acts of worship are not undervalued?" The fact of the matter is that Allah's (SWT) satisfaction lies in our obedience to Him; the value of an act depends upon its acceptance by Allah (SWT), rather than our understanding of an act's importance.

The concept of "an act being accepted by Allah (SWT)" can be seen in prayers of the Prophets (as) and the Imams (as), where despite their well-known piety and faith, they would constantly ask Allah (SWT) to accept their acts of worship.

For example, while Prophet Ibrahim / Abraham (as) was rebuilding the foundations of the Holy Kaaba with the help of his son Prophet Ismail / Ishmael (as) more than 3000 years ago in Makkah, he made the following prayer:

"O Lord! Accept (this service) from us; surely you are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." Noble Qur'an (2:127)

The same rule applies to sins, in that one should refrain from undervaluing any sin. Regardless the sin, in an act of sin a person is disobeying the commands of the authority of Allah (SWT). For who knows, that same sin can be a start in the path of Allah's (SWT) dissatisfaction, and as a result lead to an unpleasant ending.

Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Do not look at the minuteness of the sin, but see Whom you have sinned against."

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as): Rated PG-13 Movies

Rated PG-13 MoviesTwo teenagers asked their father if they could go to the theater to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the Internet, he denied their request.

"Ah dad, why not?" they complained. "It's rated PG-13, and we're both older than thirteen!"

Dad replied: "Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality as being normal and acceptable behavior."

"But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That's what our friends who've seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It's based on a true story and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the movie review websites say that!"

"My answer is 'no,' and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion."

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen. They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, "Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he's going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all."

The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies, which he offered to his kids. They each took one. Then their father said, before you eat, I want to tell you something: "I love you both so much." The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening. "That is why I've made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I've made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic; the best organic flour, the best free-range eggs, the best organic sugar, premium vanilla and chocolate." The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad's long speech.

"But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own back yard. But you needn't worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think?

"Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?"

"Why? The portion I added was so small, just a teaspoonful. You won't even taste it."

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as)"Come on, dad; just tell us what that ingredient is?"

"Don't worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients."

"Dad!"

"Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is organic ... dog poop."

Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror.

"Dad! Why did you do that? You've tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you added dog poop! We can't eat these brownies!"

"Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won't hurt you. It's been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won't even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!"

"No, Dad ... Never!"

"And that is the same reason I won't allow you to go watch that movie. You won't tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that Allah (SWT) will not lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good conscience entertain ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it?"

Remember, we become de-sensitized a little bit at a time; it is the small and minimal sins that we forget the most. To understand the importance of these small and minimal sins, let's read the following illustration.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as): Gunah-e-Saghira and Gunah-e-Kabira

Gunah-e-Saghira and Gunah-e-KabiraTwo men came to Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (as) and said that they would like to do Tawbah (ask for forgiveness and put right) for their sins. The first man said that he had done a lot of small sins/minor sins (Gunah-e-Saghira) whilst the second said that he had committed two big sins/major sins/greater sins (Gunah-e-Kabira).

Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (as) told the first man to pick one small pebble for each small sin (Gunah-e-Saghira) that he had committed. Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (as) told the second man to bring a large boulder for each of his big sins (Gunah-e-Kabira). After a while both men came back to Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (as) having brought what they were asked to bring. Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (as) now asked both of them to put back every stone in its place. The man with the two large boulders found it difficult to carry them back in their original place but eventually he managed. The man with the many small pebbles could not remember where he had picked all of them so he could not put them all back in their original place.

Hence, it is very difficult to do Tawbah for the sins which seem small because we forget and take them for granted. That's why Imam Ali (as) has said: "The biggest sin is that which the doer considers the smallest." or "The worst sin is that which the sinner takes lightly."

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as): Do not consider a Small thing insignificant

Narrations state that once Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) during a journey camped at a desert place absolutely bereft of any vegetation. He (saw) told the companions (Sahabah) to collect sticks. All of them said that they were in such a desolate place that it was not possible to find any sticks. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) ordered each of them to collect as many twigs as he can or fetch whatever they might find. Hence, companions (Sahabah) scattered in every direction. In the due course each companion brought a small quantity of sticks and put them before Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). When all of them had made a pile of sticks, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, "Sins also accumulate in this way."

Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw)The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) wanted to show by this analogy that even though we may be unaware of our sins when they accumulate they could make a big heap. If we calculate the sins we commit in our life they shall reach a staggering figure.

In the words of Shaikh Saadi, the Persian Poet:

An increase of drop on a drop makes a stream
An increase of a stream upon a stream makes an ocean

However, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) does not limit his words to the acts of worship and sin, rather the Imam continues to discuss our interaction with people. How can one undervalue a brother/sister, while the great servants of Allah (SWT) are hidden amongst the rest of the people? It is noteworthy that this saying does not specify a certain group of people such as the faithful; rather it encompasses all the creatures of Allah (SWT). Islam has not allowed us to judge people by their appearances, unless his/her true character has been revealed; and has not allowed us to ignore others merely because he/she does not have a pleasant appearance to us.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as): Judgement based on biased perceptions

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean," she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this." The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we see.

Apparently, the main idea of this Hadith of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) is that no act, whether good or bad, and no person should ever be undervalued.

"Let us wash our eyes; let us watch things differently."

Reference: Selection taken from "Forty Hadiths", by Sayyid Hashim Rasouli Mahallati, with additional explanations

Did you know the facts about Cigarette Butts?Did you know the facts about Cigarette Butts?

  • A single Cigarette Butt is barely noticeable, small, white, filled with tiny fibers. But a drop in a bucket they add up quickly.
  • Worldwide approximately 4.5 trillion Cigarette Butts are thrown on the ground annually 4.5 trillion Cigarette Butts weight 1.69 billion pounds.
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Islamic Moral Stories is designed by Akramulla Syed Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016