LettersNahjul Balagha

Instruction 27

Given to Muhammad bin Abi Bakr, when Imam appointed him as the Governor of Egypt.

Behave humbly with the people, keep yourself lenient, meet them large-heartedly, accord them equal treatment so that the big should not expect injustice from you in their favour and the low should not be despondent of your justice to them. Allah will certainly question you, O creatures, about your actions, small or big, open or concealed. If He punishes you it is because you have been oppressive, and if He forgives, then it is because He is the Most Generous.

Know, O creatures of Allah, that the God-fearing have shared the joys of this transient world as well as the next coming world, for they shared with the people of this world in their worldly matters while their people did not share with them in the matters of the next world. They lived in this world in the best manner of living and ate the choicest food and consequently they enjoyed herein all that the people with ease of life enjoyed, and secured from it what the haughty and the vain secured. Then, they departed from it after taking provision enough to take them to the end of their journey and after doing a profitable transaction. They tasted the pleasure of renouncing the world in this world, and they firmly believed that on the coming day in their next life they would be neighbours of Allah, where their call would not be repulsed nor would their share of pleasure be small.

Therefore, O Creatures of Allah, be afraid of death and its measures and keep ready all that is needed for it. It will come as a big event and great affair, either as good in which there will never be any evil, or an evil in which there will never be good. Who is nearer to Paradise than he who works towards it, and who is nearer to Hell than he who works for it? You are being chased by death. If you stop, it will catch you, and if you run away from it, it will grip you. It is more attached to you than your reflection.

Death is tied to your fore-locks while the world is being wrapped up from behind you. Therefore, fear Fire whose hollow is deep, flames are severe and punishment is novel. It is a place where there is no mercy. No call is heard in it. No pain is healed in it. If it is possible for you to have severe fear of Allah and to rest hope in Him, then do both these things because every individual can have hope in His Lord to the extent of his fear of His Lord. Certainly, the most hopeful person with Allah is he who fears Him most.

O Muhammad bin Abi Bakr, know that I have given you charge of Egypt which is my biggest force. So you are duty-bound to oppose your passions and serve as a shield against your religion even though you may get only an hour in the world; and do not enrage Allah for pleasing others because (Allah) is such that He may take the place of others, but others cannot take the place of Allah. Say prayers at the appointed time. Do not say it earlier for the sake of leisure nor delay it on account of pre-occupation. Remember that every act of yours is dependent on your prayer.

A part of the same sermon : The leader of guidance and the leader of destruction cannot be equal, nor the friend of the Prophet and the enemy of the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has told me that: "In respect of my people I am afraid neither of a believer nor of an unbeliever. As for the believer Allah will afford him protection because of his belief and as for the unbeliever, Allah will humiliate him because of his unbelief. But I am afraid about everyone of you who is a hypocrite in his heart and learned of speech. He speaks what you hold good but does what you dislike."

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