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Maxims of The Gate of The City of Knowledge (AS)
By: Samir Haidari
1. During civil disturbance adopt such an attitude that people do not attach any importance to you - they neither burden you with complicated affairs, nor try to derive any advantage out of you.
2. He who is greedy is disgraced; he who discloses his hardship will always be humiliated; he who has no control over his tongue will often have to face discomfort.
3. Avarice is disgrace; cowardice is a defect; poverty often disables an intelligent man from arguing his case; a poor man is a stranger in his own town; misfortune and helplessness are calamities; patience is a kind of bravery; to sever attachments with the wicked world is the greatest wealth; piety is the best weapon of defence.
4. Submission to Allah's Will is the best companion; wisdom is the noblest heritage; theoretical and practical knowledge are the best signs of distinction; deep thinking will present the clearest picture of every problem.
5. The mind of a wise man is the safest custody of secrets; cheerfulness is the key to friendship; patience and forbearance will conceal many defects.
6. A conceited and self-admiring person is disliked by others; charity and alms are the best remedy for ailments and calamities; one has to account in the next world for the deeds that he has done in this world.
7. Man is a wonderful creature; he sees through the layers of fat (eyes) hears through a bone (ears) and speaks through a lump of flesh (tongue).
8. When this world favors somebody it lends him the attributes and surpassing merits of others and when it turns its face away from him it snatches away even his own excellences and fame.
9. Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.
10. If you overpower your enemy then pardon him by way of thankfulness to Allah for being able to subdue him.
11. Unfortunate is he who cannot gain a few sincere friends during his life and more unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then lost them (through his deeds).
12. When some blessings come to you do not drive them away through thanklessness.
13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.
14. Every person who is tempted to go astray does not deserve punishment.
15. Our affairs are attached to the destiny decreed by Allah even our best plans may lead us to destruction.
16. There is a tradition of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) "With the help of hair-dye turn old age into youth so that you do not resemble the Jews". When Imam Ali (A.S.) was asked to comment on this tradition he said that in the early stage of Islam there were very few Muslims. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) advised them to look young and energetic and not to adopt the fashion of the Jews (priest) having long white flowing beards. But the Muslims were not in minority then theirs was a strong and powerful State they could take up any style they liked.
17. For those who refused to side with any party Imam Ali (A.S.) or his enemies Imam Ali (A.S.) said: They have forsaken religion and are of no use to infidelity also.
18. One who rushes madly after inordinate desire runs the risk of encountering destruction and death.
19. Overlook and forgive the weaknesses of the generous people because if they fall down Allah will help them.
20. Failures are often the results of timidity and fears; disappointments are the results of bashfulness; hours of leisure pass away like summer-clouds therefore do not waste opportunity of doing good.
21. If the right usurped from us is given back to us we shall take it otherwise we shall go on claiming it.
22. If someone's deeds lower his position his pedigree cannot elevate it.
23. To render relief to the distressed and to help the oppressed make amends for great sins.
24. O son of Adam when you see that your Lord the Glorified bestows His Favors on you while you disobey Him you should fear Him (take warning that His Wrath may not turn those very blessings into misfortunes).
25. Often your utterances and expressions of your face leak out the secrets of your hidden thoughts.
26. When you get ill do not get nervous about it and try as much as possible to be hopeful.
27. The best form of devotion to the service of Allah is not to make a show of it.
28. When you have to depart from this world and have to meet death (eventually) then why wish delay (why feel nervous about death).
29. Take warning! He has not exposed so many of your sinful activities that it appears as if He has forgiven you (it may be that He has given you time to repent).
30. When Imam Ali (A.S.) was asked about Faith in Religion he replied that four pillars: endurance; conviction; justice and jihad support the structure of faith.
Endurance is composed of four attributes: eagerness, fear, piety and anticipation (of death). so whoever is eager for Paradise will ignore temptations; whoever fears the fire of Hell will abstain from sins; whoever practices piety will easily bear the difficulties of life and whoever anticipates death will hasten towards good deeds.
Conviction has also four aspects to guard oneself against infatuations of sin; to search for explanation of truth through knowledge; to gain lessons from instructive things and to follow the precedent of the past people because whoever wants to guard himself against vices and sins will have to search for the true causes of infatuation and the true ways of combating them out and to find those true ways one has to search them with the help of knowledge whoever gets fully acquainted with various branches of knowledge will take lessons from life and whoever tries to take lessons from life is actually engaged in the study of the causes of rise and fall of previous civilizations .
Justice also has four aspects depth of understanding profoundness of knowledge fairness of judgment and dearness of mind; because whoever tries his best to understand a problem will have to study it whoever has the practice of studying the subject he is to deal with will develop a clear mind and will always come to correct decisions whoever tries to achieve all this will have to develop ample patience and forbearance and whoever does this has done justice to the cause of religion and has led a life of good repute and fame.
Jihad is divided into four branches: to persuade people to be obedient to Allah; to prohibit them from sin and vice; to struggle (in the cause of Allah) sincerely and firmly on all occasions and to detest the vicious. Whoever persuades people to obey the orders of Allah provides strength to the believers; whoever dissuades them from vices and sins humiliates the unbelievers; whoever struggles on all occasions discharges all his obligations and whoever detests the vicious only for the sake of Allah then Allah will take revenge on his enemies and will be pleased with Him on the Day of Judgment.
31. There are four causes of infidelity and loss of belief in Allah: hankering after whims a passion to dispute every argument deviation from truth; and dissension because whoever hankers after whims does not incline towards truth; whoever keeps on disputing every argument on account of his ignorance will always remain blind to truth whoever deviates from truth because of ignorance will always take good for evil and evil for good and he will always remain intoxicated with misguidance. And whoever makes a breach (with Allah and His Messenger) his path becomes difficult his affairs will become complicated and his way to salvation will be uncertain.
Similarly doubt has also four aspects absurd reason- ing; fear; vacillation and hesitation; and unreasonable surrender to infidelity because one who has accustomed himself to unreasonable and absurd discussions will never see the Light of Truth and will always live in the darkness of ignorance.
One who is afraid to face facts (of life death and the life after death) will always turn away from ultimate reality one who allows doubts and uncertainties to vacillate him will always be under the control of Satan and one who surrenders himself to infidelity accepts damnation in both the worlds.
32. A virtuous person is better then virtue and a vicious person is worse than vice.
33. Be generous but not extravagant be frugal but not miserly.
34. The best kind of wealth is to give up inordinate desires.
35. One who says unpleasant things about others will himself quickly become a target of their scandal.
36. One who hopes inordinately impairs his deeds.
37. When Imam Ali (A.S.) marching at the head of his army towards Syria reached Ambar the landlords of the place came out to meet him in zeal of their love faithfulness and respect no sooner had they seen Imam Ali (A.S.) they got down from their horses and started running in front of him. Imam Ali (A.S.) asked the reason of their strange actions. They replied that it was their custom to show their love and respect in that way. Imam Ali (A.S.) replied:
By Allah, by your action you do no good whatsoever to your rulers but you tire yourself and put yourself in toils in this world and in trouble in the next. How unfortunate is that exertion, which brings harm here and in the hereafter and how useful is that ease which keeps you in comfort in this world and away from the Hell in the next.
38. Imam Ali (A.S.) once said to his son Imam Hasan (A.S.), My son, learn four things from me and through them you will learn four more. If you keep them in mind your actions will not bring any harm to you: The greatest wealth is Wisdom; the greatest poverty is stupidity; the worst unsociable ness is that of vanity and self-glorification; and the best nobility of descent exhibits itself in politeness and in refinement of manner.
The next four things, my son, are: Do not make friendship with a fool because when he will try to do you good he will do you harm; do not make a miser your friend because he will run away from you at the time of your dire need; do not be friendly with a vicious and wicked person because he will sell you and your friendship at the cheapest price and do not make friend of a liar because like a mirage he will make you visualize very near the things which lie at a great distance and will make you see at the great distance the things which are near to you".
39. Recommended prayers cannot attain the pleasures of Allah for you when obligatory prayers are left unattended.
40. A wise man first thinks and then speaks and a fool speaks first and then thinks.
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