RNA - In the previous chapters, Imam Zain al-Abedin (PBuH) seeks refuge in God against the natural disasters that may happen to people. He points to the examination; and mentions that what is inflicted on the man could be something other than events or examination, and indeed they could be catastrophes inflicted by God, the Almighty.
Catastrophe and Punishment
Catastrophes are what caused by the wrath of God, and they show that the promotion of the society has stopped. Accordingly, Sahifa Sajjadia seeks refuge in God against their infliction upon the society and individuals.
“وَ أَعِذْنِی مِنْ شَمَاتَةِ الْأَعْدَاء و مِنْ حُلُولِ الْبَلَاء”, please save me from the blames of the enemies (their happiness) and infliction of catastrophes, humiliation and suffering.
What is meant by catastrophe is the punishment inflicted upon the man; as the natural disasters don’t generate the blames of others, and what brings the reprimands of others is the Heavenly punishment. The punishment inflicted by God for the bad deeds is much harsh and intolerable.
“اللَّهُمَّ لَا طَاقَةَ لِی بِالْجَهْدِ، وَ لَا صَبْرَ لِی عَلَی الْبَلَاءِ”; O Lord! I can’t stand hardships, I can’t exercise patience over catastrophes, and I am not strong enough in the face of poverty and need.
Catastrophe is the result of ugly deeds, and they are regarded as obstacle to development. Indeed, the punishment is the Heavenly retaliation that destroys his beams of hope and finally ruins him. Clouds, the means providing Heavenly blessings, are also possible to generate Heavenly catastrophes.
“اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّ هَذَینِ آیتَانِ مِنْ آیاتِک، وَ هَذَینِ عَوْنَانِ مِنْ أَعْوَانِک، یبْتَدِرَانِ طَاعَتَک بِرَحْمَةٍ نَافِعَةٍ أَوْ نَقِمَةٍ ضَارَّةٍ، فَلَا تُمْطِرْنَا بِهِمَا مَطَرَ السَّوْءِ، وَ لَا تُلْبِسْنَا بِهِمَا لِبَاسَ الْبَلَاءِ”; O God! These are two signs of yours and two of your servants! they can both bring your mercies and favours and inflict punishments and suffering upon men! I beg you kindly not inflict the rain of punishment upon us and don't cover them with clothe of catastrophes!.
Imam Sayyed al-Abedin asks God to not bring catastrophes and hardships over the Muslim society through clouds, but to inflict those on the society of the infidels. “اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَی مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِهِ، وَ أَنْزِلْ عَلَینَا نَفْعَ هَذِهِ السَّحَائِبِ وَ بَرَکتَهَا، وَ اصْرِفْ عَنَّا أَذَاهَا وَ مَضَرَّتَهَا، وَ لَا تُصِبْنَا فیها بِآفَةٍ، وَ لَا تُرْسِلْ عَلَی مَعَایشِنَا عَاهَةً. اللَّهُمَّ وَ إِنْ کنْتَ بَعَثْتَهَا نَقِمَةً وَ أَرْسَلْتَهَا سَخْطَةً فَإِنَّا نَسْتَجِیرُک مِنْ غَضَبِک، وَ نَبْتَهِلُ إِلَیک فِی سُؤَالِ عَفْوِک، فَمِلْ بِالْغَضَبِ إِلَی الْمُشْرِکینَ، وَ أَدِرْ رَحَی نَقِمَتِک عَلَی الْمُلْحِدِینَ”: O God! Send your greetings and peace to Muhammad and his family members, bring us the benefits and blessings of these clouds, and keep their maladies and damages away from us, and don’t destroy our lives. O God! If these clouds are to inflict the punishment caused by your wrath, we seek refuge in you against your wrath, and shed tears for your forgiveness, please direct your wrath and punishment towards the infidels and crush the impious through your wrath and punishment.
The clouds and rains of punishment will ruin and hamper development, thereby, what should be asked of God is the blessings, such as the rain of mercy, that brings development and promotion. Poisonous clouds, floods and hailstorms ruins harvests, animals and destroys the material achievements.
“اللَّهُمَّ لَا تَجْعَلْ ظِلَّهُ عَلَینَا سَمُوماً، وَ لَا تَجْعَلْ بَرْدَهُ عَلَینَا حُسُوماً، وَ لَا تَجْعَلْ صَوْبَهُ عَلَینَا رُجُوماً، وَ لَا تَجْعَلْ مَاءَهُ عَلَینَا أُجَاجاً”; O God! I beg you to not turn the shadow of that cloud to a hot and poisonous wind for us, not make its cold evil and ominous, not turn its raining a punishment for us, and not embitter its water in our mouths.
Imam Sajad asks God to separate the faithful from the ones who deserve such hardships, and to not punish them the same. Besides, he asks God to put them among the ones who are saved from the Heavenly punishment and enjoy the Heavenly mercy. In another part, Sahifa Sajjadia ask God to not target the men by catastrophes; as the poor servants can’t avert such maladies and are unable to defend themselves against the Wrath of God.
“اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَی مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، وَ لَا تَجْعَلْنِی لِلْبَلَاءِ غَرَضاً، وَ لَا لِنَقِمَتِک نَصَباً، وَ مَهِّلْنِی، وَ نَفِّسْنِی، وَ أَقِلْنِی عَثْرَتِی، وَ لَا تَبْتَلِینِّی بِبَلَاءٍ عَلَی أَثَرِ بَلَاءٍ، فَقَدْ تَرَی ضَعْفِی وَ قِلَّةَ حِیلَتِی وَ تَضَرُّعِی إِلَیک”; O God! Send greetings and peace to Muhammad and his family members and don’t set me the target of catastrophes and punishment, protect me, resolve my griefs, forgive my faults and don’t inflict multiple sufferings upon me, as you well know that I am poor and feeble.
He doesn’t deal solely with catastrophes and punishment, but asks God for tranquillity that is void of sins, wrongdoings and suffering. Such a peace can bring development and growth to the man. Imam Sayyed al-Abedin asks God to provide blessing of health and peace instead of generating catastrophes and thanks God for averting punishment and torture. He bewares men of becoming arrogant over the favours of God and His delay or forgiveness of punishment so that misery and hardships won’t be inflicted upon them.
“اللَّهُمَّ لَک الْحَمْدُ عَلَی حُسْنِ قَضَائِک، وَ بِمَا صَرَفْتَ عَنِّی مِنْ بَلَائِک، فَلَا تَجْعَلْ حَظِّی مِنْ رَحْمَتِک مَا عَجَّلْتَ لِی مِنْ عَافِیتِک فَأَکونَ قَدْ شَقِیتُ بِمَا أَحْبَبْتُ وَ سَعِدَ غَیرِی بِمَا کرِهْتُ”; O God! Thank You for the good destiny you determined for me, and for averting the infliction of catastrophes on me. And thus please don’t confine my share of your mercy to the happiness granted to me in the present world lest I become miserable for what I like to have, and others may become happy for what is not good for me.
The holy Quran also points to the punishment inflicted on different people for their heresy, arrogance and violations of Heavenly orders. The said punishment has been in the form earthquake, flood and lightening. The punishment has also been inflicted on the wrongdoing societies through drought, famine and hunger.
"وضَرَبَ اللّهُ مَثَلاً قَریةً کانَت ءامِنَةً مُطمَئِنَّةً یأتیها رزقها رَغَدًا مِن کلِّ مَکان فَکفَرَت بِاَنعُمِ اللّهِ فَاَذقَهَا اللّهُ لِباسَ الجوعِ والخوف”; And Allah presents an example: a city which was safe and secure, its provision coming to it in abundance from every location, but it denied the favours of Allah. So Allah made it taste the envelopment of hunger and fear for what they had been doing.
Famine and drought arouse anxiety in the society. In the above verse, God points to the consequences of hunger and fear as coverage, and mentions, as the coverage can be seen, the impacts of hunger and fear will become evident across the society. The employment of this simile here is interpreted as clothe covers the whole body, hunger and fear also fill all persons in the society.
In another part, Imam Sajad (PBuH) commends the Heavenly mercy and mentions that human beings have deserved to be punished by Lord in many times, yet God has offered them a new respite.
“وَ کمْ مِنْ سَحَائِبِ مَکرُوهٍ جَلَّیتَهَا عَنِّی، وَ سَحَائِبِ نِعَمٍ أَمْطَرْتَهَا عَلَی، وَ جَدَاوِلِ رَحْمَةٍ نَشَرْتَهَا، وَ عَافِیةٍ أَلْبَسْتَهَا، وَ أَعْینِ أَحْدَاثٍ طَمَسْتَهَا، وَ غَوَاشِی کرُبَاتٍ کشَفْتَهَا. وَ کمْ مِنْ ظَنٍّ حَسَنٍ حَقَّقْتَ، وَ عَدَمٍ جَبَرْتَ، وَ صَرْعَةٍ أَنْعَشْتَ، وَ مَسْکنَةٍ حَوَّلْتَ”; and you kindly averted many catastrophes from my life, provided me with blessings, run the streams of mercy to my life, filled my life with health, averted the causes of events from my life, removed sorrows from my life, fulfilled the good thoughts coming to my mind, eliminated the poverty from my life, resolved my hardships, and relieved the miseries of mine.
Imam Zain al-Abedin (PBuH) stresses that peace and health precedes the catastrophe that may be determined for your future, as this apparent tranquillity will act as punishment.
“وَ إِنْ یکنْ مَا ظَلِلْتُ فِیهِ أَوْ بِتُّ فِیهِ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْعَافِیةِ بَینَ یدَی بَلَاءٍ لَا ینْقَطِعُ وَ وِزْرٍ لَا یرْتَفِعُ فَقَدِّمْ لِی مَا أَخَّرْتَ، وَ أَخِّرْ عَنِّی مَا قَدَّمْتَ”; and if the peace and health, taking from the day to the night and vice versa, precedes an eternal punishment, please let it happen sooner to me, and if it is to happen sooner, delay it.
In the above part of the prayer, the term “ظل” means day and the word “بت” means night. Imam Sayyed al-Abedin mentions that if the man is apparently healthy and this state precedes a catastrophe determined for the future, this affliction should have priority over the health and peace. The basis of this priority is that, the affliction inflicted by God is eternal, and if it receives priority, the man will be saved.
An affliction may be inflicted as a Heavenly punishment. This affliction is indeed the Heavenly retaliation caused by the wrongdoings. This type of affliction may eliminate the beams of hopes and ruin him/her completely. Destructive clouds, floods and hailstorms are the means inflicting punishment. Imam Sajjad (AS) asks God to not inflict such punishments upon the faithful and provide them with his mercy. The holy Quran, similarly, points to earthquake, floods and lightening as the means of Heavenly punishment that are cause by heresy, arrogance and violation of Heavenly orders.
This paper presents what Imam Sajad (PBuH) has mentioned on the “catastrophes and events” hampering the development of the man in his/her material life. Whether people don’t exercise patience and appreciation on disasters, it will lead to their ruin, and if they use such occurrences for the promotion towards God, it will bring them growth and development.
Sahifa Sajjadia points to three types of afflictions: Natural disasters is the first type of obstacles that are possible to hinder the material growth of the human beings, and Imam Zain al-Abedin (PBuH) seeks refuge in God against such maladies. The second category includes the man’s examination by Heaven.
The fourth Imam asks God for the success of the faithful in this test. If someone passes this exam successfully, he will take the path of perfection and will never become disappointed and infidel. Catastrophe and punishment are another type of affliction inflicted upon the societies as the result of their wrongdoings and sins. Certainly, the Heavenly affliction will demolish the humanity and stop their development.
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By: Ali Anjom Shoa