One of the key factors to lead a spiritual life is having good and divine manners. Morality is to master spiritual mentality in oneself, i.e. it is so mingled in oneself that it becomes part of his essence and one does it without obligation and of his own volition.
Man is an actual animal and a potential human at birth. From the beginning of the creation, the Creator of the world has put animal instincts in Man without which he wouldn’t be able to keep on living. However, in terms of human aspects, he has entrusted Man with innate qualities, spiritual drives, divine values, brilliant essence and shining seeds which keep on existing behind the veils of his heart. Man can achieve correct nurture and upbringing as well as a spiritual life only through lifting up the dark veils inside himself, i.e. once perfections of the Self are converted from potential into actual, he would find his proper position.
Acquiring a spiritual life in addition to moral virtues is a necessity and an inevitable fact. Humanity depends on relinquishing innate vices and lifting up dark veils as well as extracting hidden treasures which are attainable through education and training oneself.
Paying attention to morality is significant in two respects: First, humans are at different levels in terms of humane values and transcendental virtues. Some people are superior to Angels of the Lord and some are inferior to wild beasts.
Humans have the best capabilities to reach the peak of perfection and the pinnacle of spirituality. Provided that Man makes use of the material and spiritual capabilities bestowed upon him by God in the best way possible, he will be on the righteous path and set for the upright way and move on toward the infinite whereas negligence in benefiting those great blessings leads him to corruption and shall lead him astray and he ends up falling in the well of meaninglessness and ungratefulness. Imam Reza (S.A.) says:
"Do not lose good manners as good manners have roots in Heaven yet avoid bad manners as bad manners have roots in Hell. "
Secondly, ethics and spreading morality in society leads to the rule of law and expansion of lawfulness. One who adorns himself with virtues of good manners obeys the law more than others and with respect to his dignity, relinquishes vices more than others.
Law entails an administrative power and the level of people’s insight, cultural development and their spiritual perfection would be the guarantee for the enforcement of law. Nations without perfect moral development face problems in carrying out the law and guaranteeing the safety of human coexistence. However, such would take place in the shadow of terror and harsh criminal law. Meanwhile, in societies which benefit from spiritual perfection and virtuous divine manners, educational factors, spiritual issues, power of wisdom, conscience and good manners play significant roles in carrying out the general regulations in a better manner. Thus, the Lord conferred a great favor on people and sent a messenger together with a book to sanctify and instruct all the society:
لَقَدْ مَنَّ اللهُ عَلىَ الْمُؤْمِنِینَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِیهِمْ رَسُولاً مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ یَتْلُواْ عَلَیْهِمْ ءَایَاتِهِ وَ یُزَکِّیهِمْ وَ یُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْکِتَابَ وَ الْحِکْمَةَ وَ إِن کاَنُواْ مِن قَبْلُ لَفِى ضَلَالٍ مُّبِین؛
"Allah did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a
messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah,
sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while, before
that, they had been in manifest error. "
For this reason, the Eighth Shiite Imam states the best way to have a simple life is to live in the light of good manners:
"No life is better than living with good manners. "
Human existence is made up of spiritual and material, or a combination of divine and mortal, as well as a mixture of two contradictory forces of wisdom and lust. On the one hand, the force of wisdom, moral conscience and affective drives are congruent with divine guides [prophets] and innocent Imams calling him to chastity and justice; on the other hand, animal instincts and lustful tendencies invite him to rebellion, betrayal, lustfulness, conceit and negligence of others’ rights.
The all-out battle between wisdom and lust is a test; because by either side’s victory, Man’s destiny would be doomed and the path of felicity or adversity would be levelled for him. If the spiritual aspect surpasses and wisdom dominates, he would walk on the path of perfection and in case the material-animal aspect overtakes, he would be a deviant.
Redemption and achieving spiritual and moral virtues depend on sanctification of self and purification of mind from inner impurities.
This important goal is achieved only through indefatigable efforts and continuous battles with desires and wishes that oppose the sublime human values. Due to this fact, Jihad against the self is considered to be the main deed for Salek [seeker of the truth] so that he had better make ceaseless and serious efforts in this way.
Therefore, redemption is for the one who purifies his self from moral impurities, destructive lusts and desires in the light of faith, righteous deeds and continuous and constant struggles. Wending the long and labyrinthine path of purification entails a great endeavor and strong steps and is possible only by divine help and the assistance of the infallible Imam:
یَا أَیُّهَا الَّذِینَ ءَامَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللهَ وَ ابْتَغُواْ إِلَیْهِ الْوَسِیلَةَ وَ جَاهِدُواْ فىِ سَبِیلِهِ لَعَلَّکُمْ تُفْلِحُون
"O ye who believe! Do your duty to Allah, seek the means of approach unto
Him, and strive with might and main in His cause: That ye may prosper. "
Imam Reza (A.S.) mentions the philosophy of sending prophets and guidelines by the Lord as thus:
"There has been determined a set of limits and boundaries for people and they have been obliged not to trespass it so as not to become corrupt. This truth is realized only by appointing a proper and honest man who can prevent them from infringing the law, entering the prohibited areas and becoming corrupt. "
The educational purpose of the prophets and Imams was to adorn humans with divine manners. They used different strategies to achieve the end such as presenting moral patterns, expressing moral issues, giving advice on observing the ethics and explaining the significance of morality in individual and social life. One way was praying, through which Ahl al-Bayt advised their followers to divine ethics; praying is practiced for this purpose by using divine names. It is mentioned in a Hadith:
تَخَلَّقُوا بِأَخْلَاقِ اللهِ
"Adorn yourselves with the ethics of God. "
Some have interpreted this Hadith this way: «تخلقوا باسماء الله». In order to hold fast to the divine names, one must inevitably recognize them while, on the other hand, ethics are inextricably linked with divine names. God created Man and breathed into him of his spirit. Therefore, Man potentially has all the perfections and divine knowledge prepares the ground for that. Thus, recognition of the universe is an introduction and a necessity for the recognition of God because recognition leads humans towards the Creator of the Book of Life.
“Adorn” means accepting the truth of God and being cultivated by him to the extent that they form relations with his servant, of course not to the same degree that the names are attributed to God . Divine knowledge prepares the ground for being adorned by divine names and ethics. In fact, such adornment is receiving some of the divine names with respect to one’s potentiality and capability. Because divine ethics is much more than human capability and Man can only receive a small amount of it:
صِبْغَةَ اللهِ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللهِ صِبْغَةً
"[Our religion is] the Baptism of Allah: And who can baptize better than
Allah? And it is He Whom we worship."
Therefore, adornment is accepting the divine names and being adorned by them so that the servant is related to them not as they are attributed to God. When a servant serves the Lord so much that all his divine features are attributed to him, he would be adorned with divine morality so that the light of the Lord would manifest itself in his eyes, ears, hands, feet and thoughts; the most important way to achieve divine morality is by Jihad against the Self, proper conduct, obedience, abstaining from sins and acquiring knowledge.
Reading through Sahifa Razavieh prayers shows that Ahl al-Bayt (P.B.U.T.) have considered praying as the way of finding the truth of existence. The honorable Imams have always remembered the Lord with His great names and would establish relations with Him to prepare the tools of cognition and humane growth and finally would provide the ground for adorning humans with them through resorting to such divine names. The Lord is described with various descriptions in Sahifa Razavieh:
• لَا یَذِلُّ مَنْ وَالَیْت
The Lord blemishes not his lovers
• کَمَا بَدَأْتَنِی بِالْإِحْسَانِ فَأَتِمَ نِعْمَتَکَ بِالْغُفْرَان
He begins His endowments with beneficence and compliments them with remission
• وَ یَا أَرْحَمَ مَنِ اسْتُرْحِمَ؛ اللهُمَّ انْظُرْ إِلَیَّ بِعَیْنِ الرَّحْمَة .
In every condition, He is compassionate and watches people with mercy
• وَ اصْرِفْ عَنِّی السَّوْءَ وَ الْفَحْشَاءَ
He forgives corruption and evil manners
• یَا مَنْ لَا تَنْفَعُهُ طَاعَةُ الْمُطِیعِینَ وَ لَا یَضُرُّهُ مَعْصِیَةُ الْعَاصِینَ
To The Lord to whom the obedient obedience has no profit yet the guilt of sinners brings no harm to.
• هُنِّئَ عَطَائِکَ
He grants out of generosity to his servants without any specific merit.
Possessing divine attributes means getting used to them; the more possession to the attributes, the more benefits from divine ethics would become. Being adorned with the divine ethics in a perfect human being is the highest achievement yet others benefit from divine attributes as much as their inner capacity only and get adorned with a sample of what they desire.
The one who is adorned with the ornament of divine ethics in the light of embracing divine names as well as benefitting from the inherent perfection and his inner talents with the help of leaders and Imams of religion would show signs in his speech, behavior and manners in treating others.
Two verses of the Holy Quran (Furqan /63 and Zukhruf/19) mention True Servants of The Lord (Ibad-al-Rahman). In those verses, twelve characteristics are mentioned for such people referring to the religious, moral, social and individual aspects of Man. All of those characteristics, as a whole, form the collection of the highest human values.
1) Humility & Modesty
The first characteristics for the True Servants of the Lord is renouncement of arrogance, pride and selfishness which appear in all human actions especially in the way they walk since moral habits are always shown among human acts, words and behavior of the Man so much that a considerable part of human ethics could be realized through the way he walks.
الَّذینَ یَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْناً
“Those who walk on the earth in humility”
Humility is a quality with a very effective role in refining the self. The Humble Servants of The Lord are modest as modesty is the key to faith. Imam Reza (A.S.) has expressed some attribute for the Shiites, one of which is humility. Hassan Ibn al-Jahm asked Imam Reza (A.S.) about the level of humility and Imam stated:
“Grant people on your side just like the way you prefer them to grant to you.”
Indeed, if the Man has the tiniest knowledge about himself and the universe, he knows how miniscule and worthless he is in comparison to the vast world. Thus, he would not prefer himself over others or would not walk proudly and would take into account for others what he prefers for himself.
وَ لَا تَمْشِ فىِ الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّکَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَ لَن تَبْلُغَ الجِبَالَ طُولًا؛
“Nor walks on the earth with insolence: for thou canst not rent the earth asunder, nor reach the mountain in height.”
The second attribute for the True Servants of the Lord is tolerance, meekness and tolerance:
وَ إِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُواْ سَلَامًا
“And when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘peace!’”
Imam Baqir (A.S.) states three features for those who walk in the path of infallible Imams' guidance: “The piety which prevents him from committing sins, tolerance based on which he covers his wrath and good behavior with a companion.”
The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) advised three things to Imam Ali (A.S.) so as to complete actions: “The piety which prevents the Man from committing sins, the good manners based on which he deals with people and meekness which send back idiots' stupid behavior to their own.”
Therefore, patience is among true signs of followers of Ahl al-Bayt and a way to complete actions. Imam Reza (A.S.) states:
“A believer is a true one only when three qualities are found in him: a tradition of his Lord, a tradition of his prophet and also a tradition of his Imams. What he gets form his Lord is to cover his secrets; his prophet's tradition is tolerance and good behavior with people and Imams' tradition is patience at the time of poverty and distress.”
Ibn-Khalid asked Imam Reza (A.S.) about wisdom and he replied:
“Tolerance in disasters, compromise with enemies and patience with friends”
3) Keeping a Night Vigil
Among other attributes of True Servants of the Lord are their nightly prayers. True Servants of the Lord forbid sleeping to their eyes and worship through standing and prostration in the darkness of the nights when the unaware is asleep with no room for duplicity and pretension:
وَ الَّذِینَ یَبِیتُونَ لِرَبِّهِ؛مْ سُجَّداً وَ قِیَاماً
"Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord prostrate and standing"
Night prayers play an important role in the spiritual refinement and excellence of humans. One of the actions that Lord defines for his last messenger is keeping a night vigil so as to comprehend the stance of glory.
وَ مِنَ الَّیْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَّکَ عَسىَ أَن یَبْعَثَکَ رَبُّکَ مَقَامًا مَّحْمُوداً؛
“And pray in the small watches of the morning: [it would be] an additional prayer [spiritual profit] for thee. Soon will thy Lord raise these to a station of Praise and Glory”
One of the distinctive moral features of Imam Reza (A.S.) was keeping a night vigil and paying attention to the night prayers.
Imam slept a little and would stay awake a lot. He was awake most of the nights from early evening till dawn.
4) Fear of Divine Wrath
Even though the True Servants of The Lord remember the Lord at night and walk in the path of God during the day, their hearts are full of fear of punishment and divine wrath. They always say:
وَ الَّذِینَ یَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا کَانَ غَرَاماً؛
“Those who say ‘Our Lord! Avert from us the Wrath of Hell, for its Wrath is indeed an affliction grievous’”
In the Holy Quran, there are many verses about "fear". These verses contain extremely valuable points because fear means that the Man should be conscious about his future, and protect him from the future risks through avoidance of risky affairs which may lead to punishment. Hence, the holy Quran explicitly states the result of fear in after life as two heavens:
وَ لِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَان
“But for such as fear the time when they will stand before [the Judgment seat of] their Lord, there will be two Gardens”
The fear of opposing to God's commands with the punishment in the Judgment's Day makes the Man be careful of his actions in the world and continue his process of development better. Yasser Khadem says:
“I heard Imam Reza (A.S.) that three lands are the most terrifying: the day when we are born and come into the world from mother's womb, the day of death when we see the afterlife and its people, and the day when we arise from graves for Judgment and we see things we had never seen in the world.”
One of the attributes of the Lord's True servants is moderation. They observe such appropriate moral feature in everything, even in charity and generosity.
وَالَّذِینَ إِذَا أَنْفَقُوا لَمْ یُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ یَقْتُرُوا وَکَانَ بَیْنَ ذَلِکَ قَوَامًا؛
“Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just [balance] between those [extremes]”
The interesting point is that the principle of charity is taken as an evident issue in the verse so much that it doesn't need mentioning since charity is a certain duty of every human being; thus, the quality and ways of charity are mentioned commanding humans for a fair charity without any extravagancy or strictness; the charity shall neither be so extravagant that the a person’s family remain hungry nor so strict that others remain deprived of it.
The narrator says, "I asked Imam Reza (A.S.) about the cost of living (wife alimony). Imam stated, "Moderation between the two unpleasant." I replied, "My master, I swear to the Lord I do not know what the two unpleasant are?"
“Do not you know that the great Lord does not love extravagancy and indulgence in spending as well as narrow-mindedness and niggardliness?”
Therefore, it is necessary that the True Servants of the Lord observe forgiveness and moderation in every aspect of their lives yet avoid extravagancy as well as tight-fistedness.
وَ ءَاتِ ذَا الْقُرْبىَ حَقَّهُ وَ الْمِسْکِینَ وَ ابْنَ السَّبِیلِ وَ لَا تُبَذِّرْ تَبْذِیراً؛
“And render to the kindred their due rights, [also] to those in want, to the way farer: but squander not [your wealth] in the manner of a spendthrift”
True Servants of The Lord are those whose hearts are filled by the light of Monotheism and whose social and individual lives are based on it. They have removed the darkness and obscurity of polytheism from their minds and souls' skies and would not select any other god, except the Great Lord:
وَالَّذِینَ لا یَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ؛
“Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god”
According to Imam Reza's luminous words, existence of such a belief in the lives of the Lord's servants make them not getting trapped by sins, the sweet taste of sins don't make their mouths water and they know that some watchful eyes are always observing them. Therefore, they must always behave well in His presence.
7) Non-contamination with innocent blood
The seventh attribute for True Servants of the Lord is that they never commit murder:
وَ لَا یَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتىِ حَرَّمَ اللهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَق؛
“Nor slay such life as Allah has made scared expect for just cause”
Expressing such features show that human life is valuable and respectful yet shedding innocent blood is not permitted at all. Every human being, naturally, has the right to live and no one is allowed to take that right without conclusive proof or permission from a legislator.
Humble servants of The Lord choose faith between faith and atheism, choose security between security and insecurity and choose purity between purity and corruption.
- وَلا یَزْنُونَ؛
“Nor commit adultery”
In several verses of Holy Quran the word "adultery" or cognate words has been repeated. In some others, the word "lewdness", "prostitution" and "demimonde" are mentioned which often refer to shameful deeds in contrast to virtue from interpreters' viewpoint.
Literally, chastity means self-preservation from lust and sensual desires.
"Virtue" is meant to maintain oneself from weakness, avoiding the defects and inferior deeds. Chastity in the holy Quran means refraining from lust when one does not have conditions for marriage:
وَ لْیَسْتَعْفِفِ الَّذِینَ لَا یَجِدُونَ نِکاَحًا؛
“Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste”
Chastity and virtue has very important role in the development and perfection of Man.
Imam Ali (A.S.) in his Will to Mohammad Hannafiyyeh says:
“One who eschews sensual desires contributes to his growth”
Imam Reza (A.S.) mentions the wisdom of not looking at women's hair:
“Looking at married or non-married women's hair is forbidden since such a look stimulates corruption and provides the ground for shameful and forbidden deeds.”
9) Observing others' rights
The ninth outstanding attribute of True Servants of the Lord is respecting and observing the rights of others as they do not testify falseness.
وَالَّذِینَ لا یَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ؛
Those who witness no falsehood
Interpreters have interpreted the verse in two ways: some have considered الزُّورَ meaning "a false testimony "as force, literally, means desire and derivation and since lying is a kind of diversion toward falsehood and injustice so it is called "force".
Some interpret have taken یَشْهَدُونَ as "presence," thus meaning that Humble Servants of The Lord do not participate in false assemblies. In some quotations, “forbidden music” has been expressed to be a type of الزُّورَ. Imam Reza (A.S.) was asked about “سماع” and Imam expressed it was as an example of debauchery and with reference to this verse:
وَ إِذَا مَرُّواْ بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّواْ کِرَامًا؛
And, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable [avoidance];
So True Servants of the Lord neither testify falsely nor attend in frivolous gatherings since participation in such meetings are first steps for contamination of heart and soul.
On the other hand, "futility" covers anything in which no wise purpose exists. Therefore, they always pursue reasonable and constructive aims in their lives, they hate futility and in case they face such situations, they pay no attention to them. Such an approach shows their inner despise to do so. They are so honorable that such corrupted environments neither affect them nor changes them.
10) Attention to Divine signs
Another sign of True Servants of the Lord is lack of indifference to surroundings.
They carefully look around, consider everything to belong to The Lord and they recognize them as the signs of God's existence.
وَ الَّذِینَ إِذَا ذُکِّرُواْ بِایَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ لَمْ یَخِرُّواْ عَلَیْهَا صُمّاً وَ عُمْیَاناً
“Those who, when they are admonished with the Signs of their Lord, droop not down at them as if they were deaf or blind”
Islam pays particular attention to thinking. The Lord has spread the signs and marks across the universe asking servants to act thoughtfully about the signs in order to recognize the Creator through them. Imam Reza (A.S.) says:
“Worshipping is not to fast several days or say too many prayers yet, surely, worship is that a man reflects on God's signs as much as possible.”
The path of the Lord cannot be traversed with closed eyes and ears. Firstly, it is necessary for the traveler to have open ears and watchful eyes and set foot on the path of the Lord's proximity.
11) Attention to children upbringing
The eleventh feature of believers is paying special attention to children upbringing as well as the family. They consider themselves responsible for their children and, permanently, ask The Lord to put their wives and children as a comfort for their eyes.
وَ الَّذِینَ یَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَ ذُرِّیَّتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْینٍ؛
“And those who pray: ‘Our Lord! Grant us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes”
In some verses of the Quran, some wives of the prophet are warned and blamed. Afterwards, commands on training wives, children and family in a public command to all believers in which He states:
یَا أَیُّهَا الَّذِینَ ءَامَنُواْ قُواْ أَنفُسَکُمْ وَ أَهْلِیکُمْ نَاراً؛
“O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones”
A variety of points can be obtained from the aforementioned verse. Firstly, a believer is responsible for his family and should develop them morally. Family environment should be virtuous and free of any corruption.
On the other hand, the rights of wives and children cannot be obtained only through providing their life expenditures, housing and food, yet more importantly is to feed the soul and their spiritual health which is always possible through good training. Hence, a handful of orders are expressed about the importance of training children in Imams’ quotations while arrangements and guidelines are given.
In different decent quotes, Imam Reza (A.S.) mentions the terms for choosing an appropriate wife, impact of breastfeeding on children's growth and the ways of their upbringing.
12) Leadership for the Righteous
The last feature for the True Servants of the Lord which is expressed in Surah al-Furqan is that they are not satisfied with being on the path of the Lord, but their endeavor is so great that they desire to be leaders and Imam of believers to invite people to the path of the Lord.
وَ اجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِینَ إِمَاماً؛
And give us [the grace] to lead the righteous.
Thus, social management is the wish of True Servants of the Lord since undertaking leadership of the righteous and being an Imam is a value. This cannot be achieved through isolation and seclusion yet it requires high endeavor and constant effort in order to be an example for the righteous.
Provided a true believer achieves good morals through earnest and tireless efforts, he admits the Lord's attributes in himself; and he, similar to a lighthouse in a stormy sea leads the lost ones to the beach of salvation and will save them from drowning.