It is related that a companion of Amir al-mu'minin called Hammam
who was a man devoted to worship said to him, "O' Amir al-mu'minin,
describe to me the pious man in such a way as though I see them." Amir
al-mu'minin avoided the reply and said, "O' Hammam, fear Allah and perform
good acts because 'Verily, Allah is with those who guard (themselves
against evil), and those who do good (to others)'" (Qur'an, 16:128).
Hammam was not satisfied with this and pushed him to speak.
Thereupon, Amir al-mu'minin praised Allah and extolled Him and sought His
blessings on the Holy Prophet and then spoke:
Now then, Allah the
Glorified, the Sublime, created (the things of) creation. He created them
without any need for their obedience or being safe from their sinning,
because the sin of anyone who sins does not harm Him nor does the
obedience of anyone who obeys Him benefit Him.
He has distributed among
them their livelihood, and has assigned them their positions in the world.
Thus, the God-fearing, in it
are the people of distinction. Their speech is to the point, their dress
is moderate and their gait is humble. They keep their eyes closed to what
Allah has made unlawful for them, and they put their ears to that
knowledge which is beneficial to them.
They remain in the time of
trials as though they remain in comfort. If there had not been fixed
periods (of life) ordained for each, their spirits would not have remained
in their bodies even for the twinkling of an eye because of (their)
eagerness for the reward and fear of chastisement. The greatness of the
Creator is seated in their heart, and, so, everything else appears small
in their eyes.
Thus to them Paradise is as
though they see it and are enjoying its favours. To them, Hell is also as
if they see it and are suffering punishment in it.
Their hearts are grieved,
they are protected against evils, their bodies are thin, their needs are
scanty, and their souls are chaste. They endured (hardship) for a short
while, and in consequence they secured comfort for a long time. It is a
beneficial transaction that Allah made easy for them. The world aimed at
them, but they did not aim at it.
It captured them, but they
freed themselves from it by a ransom.
During a night they are
upstanding on their feet reading portions of the Qur'an and reciting it in
a well-measured way, creating through it grief for themselves and seeking
by it the cure for their ailments. If they come across a verse creating
eagerness (for Paradise) they pursue it avidly, and their spirits turn
towards it eagerly, and they feel as if it is in front of them.
And when they come across a
verse which contains fear (of Hell) they bend the ears of their hearts
towards it, and feel as though the sound of Hell and its cries are
reaching their ears. They bend themselves from their backs, prostrate
themselves on their foreheads, their palms, their knees and their toes,
and beseech Allah, the Sublime, for their deliverance. During the day they
are enduring, learned, virtuous and God-fearing. Fear (of Allah) has made
them thin like arrows. If any one looks at them he believes they are sick,
although they are not sick, and he says that they have gone mad.
In fact, great concern
(i.e., fear) has made them mad.
They are not satisfied with
their meagre good acts, and do not regard their major acts as great. They
always blame themselves and are afraid of their deeds. When anyone of them
is spoken of highly, he says: "I know myself better than others, and my
Lord knows me better than I know. O' Allah do not deal with me according
to what they say, and make me better than they think of me and forgive me
(those shortcomings) which they do not know."
The peculiarity of anyone of
them is that you will see that he has strength in religion, determination
along with leniency, faith with conviction, eagerness in (seeking)
knowledge in forbearance, moderation in riches, devotion in worship,
gracefulness in starvation, endurance in hardship, desire for the lawful,
pleasure in guidance and hatred from greed. He performs virtuous deeds but
still feels afraid. In the evening he is anxious to offer thanks (to
Allah). In the morning his anxiety is to remember (Allah).
He passes the night in fear
and rises in the morning in joy - fear lest night is passed in
forgetfulness, and joy over the favour and mercy received by him. If his
self refuses to endure a thing which it does not like he does not grant
its request towards what it likes.
The coolness of his eye lies
in what is to last for ever, while from the things (of this world) that
will not last he keeps aloof. He transfuses knowledge with forbearance,
and speech with action.
You will see his hopes
simple, his shortcomings few, his heart fearing, his spirit contented, his
meal small and simple, his religion safe, his desires dead and his anger
suppressed. Good alone is expected from him. Evil from him is not to be
feared. Even if he is found among those who forget (Allah) he is counted
among those who remember (Him), but if he is among the rememberers he is
not counted among the forgetful. He forgives him who is unjust to him, and
he gives to him who deprives him. He behaves well with him who behaves ill
Indecent speech is far from
him, his utterance is lenient, his evils are non-existent his virtues are
ever present, his good is ahead and mischief has turned its face (from
him). He is dignified during calamities, patient in distresses, and
thankful during ease.
He does not commit excess
over him whom he hates, and does not commit sin for the sake of him whom
he loves. He admits truth before evidence is brought against him. He does
not misappropriate what is placed in his custody, and does not forget what
he is required to remember.
He does not call others bad
names, he does not cause harm to his neighbour, he does not feel happy at
others misfortunes, he does not enter into wrong and does not go out of
If he is silent his silence
does not grieve him, if he laughs he does not raise his voice, and if he
is wronged he endures till Allah takes revenge on his behalf. His own self
is in distress because of him, while the people are in ease from him. He
puts himself in hardship for the sake of his next life, and makes people
feel safe from himself.
His keeping away from others
is by way of asceticism and purification, and his nearness to those to
whom he is near is by way of leniency and mercifulness. His keeping away
is not by way of vanity or feeling of greatness, nor his nearness by way
of deceit and cheating.
It is related that Hammam
passed into a deep swoon and then expired. Then Amir al-mu'minin said:
Verily, by Allah I had this fear about him. Then he added: Effective
advices produce such effects on receptive minds. Someone
said to him: O' Amir al-mu'minin, how is it you do not receive such an
effect? Amir al-mu'minin replied: Woe to you. For death there is a fixed
hour which cannot be exceeded, and a cause which does not change. Now
look, never repeat such talk which Satan had put on your tongue.
According to Ibn Abi'l-Hadid this is Hammam ibn Shurayh but al-`Allamah
al-Majlisi says that apparently this is Hammam ibn `Ubadah.
This man was `Abdullah ibn al-Kawwa' who was in the fore-front of the
Kharijite movement and was a great opponent of Amir al-mu'minin.