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In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Description of the Righteous
It is related that a devout worshipper by the name of Hum¥m came to One of the signs [of such a person] is that you observe
Imam ¢AlÏ (May Allah Ennoble his countenance) and asked him to strength in his religion. His gentleness is accompanied by
describe the pious people so vividly that he could almost see them. sobriety. His faith is coupled with certainty. He longs for
¢AlÏ g responded: knowledge. He acts with forbearance. He lives moderately, even
Their speech is truthful; their clothing is moderate; when blessed with wealth. He is humble in his worship. He
and they walk with utmost humility. They lower their gaze endures poverty with dignified grace. He patiently endures
from everything Allah has forbidden. They allow their ears to trying circumstances. He seeks his sustenance from the lawful.
listen only to that which is beneficial. Their souls accept He hastens to right guidance. He is agitated if he perceives greed
exposure to trials and tribulations as easily as others accept in himself. He works righteousness all the while trembling,
luxurious living. [fearing that his deeds won’t be accepted]. His greatest concern
Were it not for their appointed term, their spirits is gratitude. He arises in the morn preoccupied with the
would not have remained in their bodies the span of a Remembrance of God. He goes to bed at night overwhelmed,
twinkling of the eye due to their intense longing for their apprehensive. He rises in the morning overjoyed. His
Lord. Because the Creator is magnified in their souls, apprehension arises from the awareness of his heedlessness. His
everything else is viewed as insignificant in their sight. Their joy is caused by the bounties and mercy Allah has showered
hearts are sober; people are safe from any wickedness from upon him. If his soul presses him with something he despises, he
them; their bodies are slim [they don’t overindulge their does not concede [to it] and withholds from it what it desires.
appetites]; their basic needs are few; and their souls are chaste. The comfort of his eye is that which cannot be eradicated [the
They patiently endure the few days they spend in this world reward of his righteous deeds]. His abstinence is from temporal
knowing that they will be followed by a long, peaceful things. He mixes clemency with knowledge, and speech with
rest—this is the profitable life-transaction which their Lord action. He expects death at any moment. His slips are few
has allowed them to enter into. The world desired them; [because of his cautiousness and deliberateness in speech and
however, they had no desire for it. It imprisoned them, but actions]. His heart is content. He is easy-going. He is constantly
they ransomed their souls from it [with their restraint and on guard against assaults upon his religion. His lusts are dead.
righteous deeds]. His anger is suppressed.
At night, their feet are arranged in ranks as they People anticipate goodness from him. They are safe from
dutifully recite the Qur’an in slow measured tones. If they any wickedness from him. If he is in the company of the
come upon a verse that stimulates [in them] longing [for the heedless, he is recorded as being mindful [of his Lord]. He
delightful things which Allah has promised] they ponder it, overlooks those who oppress him. He gives to those who deny
craving to attain them. Their souls soar due to the intensity of him. He joins relations with those who cut him off. He is far
their longing for those delights. If they come upon a verse removed from any indecency. His speech is gentle. You find
that frightens them [with the threat of Allah’s dreadful nothing bad in him. He is always a source of good. During
punishment] they hear it reverberating in the depths of their calamities, he is composed. In dire straights, he is patient. In
hearts. They imagine that they hear the dreadful sounds of the times of ease, he is thankful. He does not oppress those he
Hellfire in the innermost recesses of their ears. You find them dislikes, nor does he sin for the sake of those he loves. He admits
kneeling down [before their Lord], begging to be liberated the truth before his witnessing is sought. He preserves all he is
from the Hellfire. entrusted with. He does not hurl abusive names at people. He
As for their days, they are forbearing, clement scholars. never harms his neighbor, nor does he insult people when he is
They are righteous and pious. Fear [of Allah] surrounds them, experiencing hardship. If he is transgressed against, he perseveres
piercing them like arrows. One who gazes upon them thinks until Allah takes revenge for him. He relies on himself while he
that they are sick. However, they are far from being sick. himself is a source of relief for others [they can rely on him]. He
They are not satisfied with a minimal amount of righteous tires himself for the sake of his salvation, not burdening others in
deeds, nor do they consider excessive amount of worship to any way. His distance from those who remove themselves from
be great. They see their faults, and they fear that their deeds him is a form of abstinence, while his drawing near to people is
won’t be accepted. If someone praises one of them, he says, “I from his gentleness and mercy. Hence, his distance from people
know myself better than others [know me], and my Lord is does not arise from arrogance and haughtiness, nor is his
more knowledgeable of me than myself. O Allah, don’t take closeness to them motivated by cunning and treachery.
me to task for what they say, and make me better than what Hearing this, Hum¥m dropped dead. Imam ¢AlÏ g said,
they think of me, and forgive me for those sins which they are “This is what I feared would happen to him.”
unaware of.” - From Nahj al-Bal¥gh¥
Translated by Imam Zaid Shakir, Zaytuna Institute (Ramadan 1426/2005)