Ethical Discourse | Discussion # 52 | Page 1 of 5

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In the name of All°h, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Topic of Discussion Topic of Discussion Topic of Discussion Topic of Discussion: ::: TTTThe Description of the Material he Description of the Material he Description of the Material he Description of the Material
World and World and World and World and a Comparison Between Its Past and Its Future a Comparison Between Its Past and Its Future a Comparison Between Its Past and Its Future a Comparison Between Its Past and Its Future
Øad¢th # Øad¢th # Øad¢th # Øad¢th #40 40 40 40 [ Discussion [ Discussion [ Discussion [ Discussion ####55552222]]]]
Lectures on Akhl°q given by His Eminence
Ayatull°h al-`U®m° al-Ø°jj ash-Shaykh N°•ir Mak°rim ash-Sh¢r°z¢ (may All°h protect him)

Translated by Saleem Bhimji – www.al-mubin.org – al-mubin@al-mubin.org
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Topic: The Description of the Material World
And a Comparison Between Its Past and Its Future

Text of the Øad¢th:

= ..` .· ) . ·¯ ·,· = ¸. ( ·=` - · : · `·`· - `¸` · .`. ´ . ··``- `·`.` . `· ·`,`·. `·`` · .·-
.`. ·´, ..` ·· ..' · ¸ ¯· . ` . ¯ ·-¯ . ¸.· · .` - · ·· `.¯,``· `¸· ,` `. `·`
.` -`· · ¸· · .. - `. ·.`=` ·· .
TRANSLATION TRANSLATION TRANSLATION TRANSLATION: The Messenger of All°h (blessings of All°h be upon him and his family) say the following in a speech,
“Do not be like that person who was fooled by the material world and who was deluded or tricked by the long desires
and wishes (which this material world contains) so then these things kept him busy and pre-occupied. Thus, this
person pinned his hopes and desires on this material world which is full of evils and shall pass by quickly. You should
all know all that remains of this world (its time span) - in comparison to that which has already passed, is like the
amount of time which a camel lies down on the ground (when a person goes to mount it or place some load on it) and
(its worth) is the amount of that thing which a person uses to tie the udders of an animal (to prevent the child from
taking milk from its mother and so that this milk is not wasted in other ways). Therefore upon what thing do you raise
yourselves upon (where do you live and build your dwellings) and what are you in anticipation of?”
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Commentary of Øad¢th:

In this speech, the Noble Prophet has brought forth some very important issues.
2
1
Bi¶°rul Anw°r, Volume 74, Page 183
2
It is important to mention that between the speeches and the general a¶°d¢th, there is a great difference (of
content), since normally, the speeches were given in a gathering setting. These were delivered in an open
gathering or Majlis, in the presence of a large number of people. In addition, the people who were listening to
these talks were mostly present to hear the principle and foundational issues being discussed.

Ethical Discourse | Discussion # 52 | Page 2 of 5
The first issue which he has alluded to is: “The gold and glitter of the material world is all an illusion which a
person is tricked by – both from the internal and external aspects of this material world” - and these have been
referred to in this ¶ad¢th as “··-” or an imposter and cheater and as “·” or delusion and trickery – just as it is
stated:

`·`· - ' · `·``· ·- ' ·`,`·.
“The fast ending material world has cheated the person, and the long desires and wishes which this material
world contains have deluded and tricked him.”

In reality, these two characteristics of cheating (··-) and delusion (·) are one and the same and are very close to
one another in meaning, however in this hadith, the term ‘imposter’ or ‘cheater’ is in relation to the internal
illusions of this material world, while ‘delusion’ or ‘trickery’ is in relation to the outer illusions of this material
world.

A person sees the gold, glitter, status and lofty positions of this material world and sees a person who possesses
these blessings and other good things from this material world and it is these things which end up keeping him
busy (and negligent of All°h K). It is through this that he becomes completely negligent of All°h K, the Next Life
and the spiritual attractions (of the faith). Thus, the Noble Prophet has stated that we must not be like such a
person who is sometimes cheated by the outer forces (of this material world), while at other times he is tricked by
the inner forces.
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The second thing which has been mentioned in this ¶ad¢th is the instability of the material world.

3
People are of various groups: There are some people who are so spiritually weak and feeble that by merely
seeing the gold and glitter of the material world, this is enough to delude and deceive them. However there are
others whose spiritual strength is much stronger and thus, in addition to the gold and glitter of the material
world, if they are to be deluded and tricked, they are also in need of the evil whispering of Sha¢ß°n. For such
people, the internal and external Sha¢at¢n must both work hand and hand to try and deceive them.

Without doubt, a great majority of the apparent aspects of the material life are aimed at deceiving us and putting
us in a state of negligence, and sometimes it can be seen that such a person would even be busy with his family
and in this, he would become negligent of all other things around him.

It is because of this proof that in the Isl°mic narrations given to us from Am¢rul Mo˜min¢n `Al¢ we read that
when the Im°m was asked:

' '. ' ´ ¸ ' . '
“Which person is the most firm in his thoughts and reflections?”

He replied:

`·``· `. `¸· ' ´ `·``· `. · `¸· `¸ ' . .` ,`'
“The person who does not become deluded by those who seek to delude him, and that one who does not become
deluded with the encouragement of the material world.”
However even with this said, in the various scenes and views of this deluding world, there are also scenes which
speak volumes and through which we can clearly understand that this material world is (spiritually) hollow
inside and is only an outward and apparent gold and glitter and this itself can spiritually wake up any person
who is intelligent - rather, even the unintelligent people can also be awaked to this aspect of the material world.
(Tafsir-e-Namuna, Volume 18, Page 95)
Ethical Discourse | Discussion # 52 | Page 3 of 5
In reality, the person who is deluded by either the inner or outer aspects of this material world has placed his
trust on “..·” or “The Wicked Abode” and that too, a locality which shall very quickly become destroyed such
that as we know, the person shall move from this abode to the Next Life, and at any time, “…the bell shall toll
(and it will be announced) that you lazy people must now move on…”
At this point, we see that two words have been used in the ¶ad¢th – namely “ . ” and “ . . ”. By bringing up
these two words, there is an important point to be made which is that by using the term “.” this means that the
person will have to give up whatever he has in his possession, while the term “..” means that a person will be
transferred to another area (the Next Life) in which he must give account for his actions (performed in the world).
Thus, the blessings of the material world are not only given very quickly to us, but they are also quick to be lost
and taken away from us.

Of course, the Qur˜°n also emphasizes this issue and in relation to the delusion of this material world, it has been
referred to as the glitter and attraction. Sometimes this attraction is attributed to All°h L Himself; sometimes to
the person himself; and in other times to Sha¢ß°n – and all of these from one point of view – are correct:

1. Attributing this (the glitter and attraction of the material world) to All°h L is in reference to All°h Lbeing the
“Musabbbal Asb°b” or the “Causer of all Causes (all things which occur in the universe are through His
permission)”.

2. Attributing this act to Sha¢ß°n is due to the evil whisperings which he is known for which affect a person - both
from his outside surroundings and also from his inner self.

3. Attributing this act to the person himself is in reference to the person following the lower desires and his inner
characteristics.

In the view of the common people who only look at things from a very rudimentary level, the material world is
definitely one of gold and glitter. However the person who has delved deep into the material world knows that
there is no gold and glitter to this world. The gold and glitter of the material world is only there so that the
person is able to see these things from far away and then judge (the true worth of the beauties of this world) and
can be summarized in the famous saying, “From far away it (the material world) is on fire.”

However, when he gets close to it and falls into its trap, then his entire life is engulfed in flames and through this,
his ears are also deafened (to the realities). Since for a majority of the people, their intelligence is in their eyes and
what they see and perceive (with their senses) and they do not seek to go deeper in issues which come up in their
lives, they are thus plagued with these foolish and silly things (of the material world).

With this said, when we look deep into the inner and private lives of those people who have achieved status,
wealth and position and who hold a great rank in the material world and whose entire presence have been filled
with these things, we see such their lives are not even worth ‘porridge in the mouth’.

In summary, from a far, this material world is attractive and beautiful, however when a person enters into it, he
would then realize that there is nothing there!

There is a very beautiful phrase given by Am¢r al-Mo’min¢n `Al¢ ibn Ab¢ X°lib E:
¸¯ `¸ . ¸· ' ,`' `·`· ' ,· `¸ · `.=` · · ¸ ¯ . `¸ . ¸ · ' . ,· ·- `·` ' `¸· `.=`· ··
Ethical Discourse | Discussion # 52 | Page 4 of 5
“Hearing about everything that is from the material world is greater (in a person’s estimation) than actually
seeing it, and seeing everything from the material world (in a person’s estimation) is greater than actually hearing
about it.”
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We are not able to describe the next life with words, and especially keeping in mind the words of Imam `Al¢
(mentioned above), it is possible that someone may state, “This material world is all a delusion. The material
world has announced to us with 100 tongues which do not speak that it has no loyalty and is not going to last.”
In addition, he has also stated that, “Are these destroyed graves of your fore-fathers the thing which have
deluded you? Are the remains and effects of the people who have passed away already the things which are
deluding you? It is these sick people whom you were sitting beside from morning till night and whom you were
looking after the thing which is deluding you?” In summary, if we look carefully at this, then without doubt we
will realize that it is actually us ourselves who are trying to delude our own selves!

In continuing his speech, the Noble Prophet then brings forth a phrase which is used very less in the verses of
the Noble Qur˜°n and the a¶°d¢th. Usually the phrases used (for the material world) are things such as
‘disloyalty’, or ‘lack of foundation’ or that the material world is something which can not be trusted, however
here, the following comparison is given.

The Prophet tells us that all which remains from this material world, in relation to that which has already
passed, is something trivial and insignificant – and in this, he has given us two parables:

1. The phrase which is used is “.¯ ·-” or the camel which lies down. In order for a person to mount on top of
the camel, the camel is forced to lie down since it is not possible to dismount a camel when it is standing up nor is
it possible to mount it!

One of the amazing qualities of the camel is that while it is lying down and if a person puts some heavy load on
top of it, or he himself mounts on top of the camel, it is easy for the camel it to stand up, whereas we see that for
other animals, this is not something they can do! It is this point about the camel that some of the exegetes of the
Noble Qur˜°n have mentioned may be the explanation of the verse of the Qur˜°n which reads:

' ·· .`=` ¸. ' . ` `. `- .`,¯ ¸
“What then, do they not look at the camel and how it has been created?”
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A great deal of this ability lies in the special characteristics of the head and the neck of the camel; its head works
like a lever or crow bar and it is through the rocking and special movements that it makes that it is able to lift up
heavy loads which are upon it and is able to stand up.

The time period of this lying on the ground of the camel is very short and this material word too, just as this
period of lying on the ground of the camel is also not something which shall last a long time.

2) The second parable given is that of “.- .” - meaning that at the time when the udders of the animal are full of
milk, sometimes if the person does not want the child of the animal to drink the milk of its mother, it would be
covered up with a bag, and a string would be tied in a knot around it so that time is not wasted (in the milking of
the animal). That thing with which the udder is tied with is referred to in `Arabic as “.” and the choosing of
these two parables is an interesting way to compare or look at this material world.

4
Nahjul Bal°gha, Lecture 114
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Suratul Gh°shiyah, Verse 18
Ethical Discourse | Discussion # 52 | Page 5 of 5
Thus, when it was stated “.¯ ·-”, this means that we must now lie down since we are at the end of our journey
and thus, must get down from here. Comparing this to leaving this material world is completely in order and it
just as the example where you dismount your ride when you reach to the end of your journey and at this point,
then camel would be made to lie down and the person is then told to dismount.

In addition, when it is stated “.- .” this means that just as baby of an animal is given the opportunity to drink
its mother’s milk however after this, the child is then prevented from drinking any more, thus in the same vein,
we see that every human being is given a specific length of time to live, and then death will come to him to cut
these roots (from this life) from him.

These examples have been carefully thought out and are completely in line with the topic which has been chosen
to elucidate upon. The Prophet has stated that, “From this material world of which nothing remains except in
the amount of the lying down of a camel and the mounting and dismounting from that animal which is such a
short time span, or in the amount of the string which is used to tie the udders of the animal so that its child can
not drink its milk – your share of this material world is nothing more than these two similitude!”

At this point the question comes forth that what is the meaning of: The time reaming of the life of this world, in
relation the time of the world what has already passed is something very small? Is the life of the entire world like
this or is it only the life of every person (which is measured in this way)?

If the meaning of this is the life of the physical world, meaning that the time remaining in the life of this world, in
comparison that which has already passed by is something very small, then it could be stated that since in the life
of this world, millions of years have already gone by; however if the meaning of this is the life of humanity, then
it means that mankind has been living on this earth for countless number of years – however it is unknown if this
is relation to the children of Adam (or others) – then the life of humanity which has passed, compared to that
which is remaining is something very small.

It is possible that the life of ™dam and the amount of time he spend here was not a lot, however humanity is
not limited to Prophet ™dam alone and we have proof that before ™dam , there were other human beings
on this Earth and that this Earth existed. It is also possible that the meaning of this phrase is the life of each one of
us which has passed and that which is remaining in our lives and the difference between these two is very little.
By this we mean that a person should have any certainty in regards to his life as it is possible that there may only
be one hour left in his life and thus, he should remove this thought from his head that there a long life awaiting
him.

Thus, when our life is like this, what can we truly have trust and reliance upon? What can we use to gain this
advancement and ascension in life? There is not even a moment left in our lives and thus, even this one moment
which remains must be valued – if you wish to turn back to All°h, then turn back to Him now and do not lose this
valuable opportunity!

In our own time and age, we see that the events which are occurring are much more than what occurred in the
past and that too they are happening much faster and quicker and we are having to face many things – things that
a person would not even be able to imagine while he is sleeping (are now happening). Thus, the life right now -
in relation to the life of the past – has become very untrustworthy.

…and all praise belongs to All°h (Glory and Greatness be to Him), only the mistakes are mine