To you, my beloved son!
The letter that Ali Bin Abithalib (RA), the legendary genius of Islam, wrote to his son Hussain (RA) has been a reminder and a warning for youths of all times.
“Beloved son, the thoughts about whirling of the time, deception of this world and the ever nearing hereafter deprive me of all other thoughts. Fear of failure in the hereafter haunts me. I am engrossed in search of ways to succeed in the hereafter. I hope you will seriously heed this advice (wasiyyath) that I ink for you. My son, you are my life and my soul; any adversity that approaches you will first apprehend your father.
“My son, I enjoin on you that you should fear Allah, follow His commandments and hold fast His Book (Quran), for there is no better grip than that. O son, enlighten your heart with inciting exhortations. Do work hard. Strengthen your heart with faith (imaan). Adorn it with wisdom. Subdue it with the remembrance of death. Foresee the imminent challenges. Familiarize with those who had been perished by the vicissitudes of the times. Visit their abodes to see remnants of mansions they abandoned. And ask yourself: What did they do? Where have they gone? Where have they settled now? Will they come back?
This will make you realize that they have departed from their friends and relatives, and that they now rest in the wilderness of the graveyard, where you will also have to go sooner or later. Hence, rectify your lapses to find success. Do not sell the Hereafter for this world.
“My son, preach virtue, then you will be among the virtuous. Counteract the evil with your tongue. Keep aloof from the wicked. In the affairs of God do not be afraid of the accusations of the evil mongers. For the vindication of the truth do not hesitate to face the storm of difficulties. Seek protection in faith. That toil and sweat will strengthen you up. No one can defeat you thence. Fear Allah and I shall be proud of you. Follow His commandments; keep the company of the virtuous and refrain from the company of the wicked.”
“O dear son, understand that He in Whose Hand is death has control over life as well. He Who brings about birth brings about death as well. He tests you by putting you to troubles. Therefore, surrender to Him your life and death. Believe that the world is subject to the well-established law of God that in the world man is awarded bounty as well as subjected to trials and tribulations. The final award is made in the Hereafter of which we have no knowledge.”
“If there is anything which you cannot comprehend do not repudiate it, but you should meditate over it and attribute your failure to understand it to the limitations of your intellect. It may be appreciated that when you are born you are devoid of understanding, and knowledge comes to you steadily as you grow up. Even when grown up, it cannot be said how many things there are still, of which you are ignorant.”
“Dear son, no one has taught about God as the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Make him your guide, and seek your salvation through him. Death lies in wait for you. The people who have tested the world do not feel distressed on leaving it, they are in fact like persons who migrate from a famine struck land to land of plenty. These people bear the ordeal of the journey, and separation from friends and relatives so that they may arrive at a land where they can enjoy plenty. Their every step is a step forward bringing them closer to their destination; they do not hesitate from spending in charity. The people who are attached to the world cannot bear separation from it. They are like those people who leave a land of plenty for a famine struck land. Their journey would be most troublesome; every experience would dread them; they yell in terror and their end would be most tragic. Those who consider this world to be the greatest will feel every hardship to be the worst.
“My son, you have a steep rock to ascend. For climbing such height, a man without burden is at an advantage as compared with a person carrying a heavy burden. Thereafter there will be hell or paradise. Before reaching your destination send your goods in advance to insure a comfortable accommodation when you arrive at your destination.”
“Son, you are born for the Hereafter. Death lies in wait for you. Howsoever you may run from it, it will overreach you. You have to fall a victim to death sooner or later. Therefore be careful lest death comes to you before you have had the opportunity to repent. In that case you will be deemed to destruction. Son, you should be well prepared so that when death comes you have no regret.”
“Beware that ambition and greed do not lead you to destruction. Do not seek the favor of any one for whatever is ordained for you, you will get it at all cost. However small it may seem, Allah’s provision is far superior than anything abundantly provided by people. Before undertaking a journey look at the persons who are to be your companions. Before occupying a house, look to the persons who are to be your neighbors.
My dear son, I am in the clutches of senility and bequeathing this in haste. I am afraid if death embrace me even before I could finish this. Could mind get frazzled like the body? I am worried that you will be spell bound by this mesmerizing world. The heart of a young man is like a plain field; it accepts any seed.
My beloved son, I entrust your world and your Hereafter to God. Your father wholeheartedly prays for your welfare both in this world and the Hereafter.”
(This is an extract of the letter from ‘Nahj al-Balaghah’)
English rendering of article written by Abdul Wadud