Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Written to Shurayh ibn al-Harith (al-Kindi), Kufah’s Judge

It is related that Shurayh ibn al-Harith (al-Kindi), who was Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib’s Qadi (judge) of Kufah, during his tenure, bought a house for eighty dinars. When it became known to Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.), he sent for him saying: I have come to know that you have purchased a house for eighty dinars and that you have written a document [deed of ownership] for it and put testimony on it.”
Shurayh replied, “Yes, O Imam ibn Aba Talib; it is so.” Imam Ali ibn Aba Talib (p.b.u.h.) cast an angry look at him and said: O Shurayh, beware, shortly one person (the angel of death) will come to you who will not look at the document, nor will he question you about your testimony but take you out of it far away and deposit you in your grave quite alone. Look, O Shurayh! If you have purchased this house from money other than yours, or paid the price from an unlawful source, you have incurred on your soul the loss of this world as well as of the next. If you had come to me at the time of purchase, I would have written for you a document on this paper, then you would have liked to purchase the house even for one dirham, not to speak of more. That document is this:
This is about a purchase made by a humble slave (of Allah) from another slave ready to depart (for the next world). He has purchased a house out of houses of deceit in the area of mortals and in the neighborhood of mortals. This house has four boundaries as follows: The first boundary is contiguous to sources of calamities; the second boundary adjoins the sources of distress; the third boundary adjoins devastating desires, and the fourth boundary adjoins deceitful Satan, and it is towards this that the door of this house opens.
This house has been purchased by one who has been waylaid by desires from one who is being driven by death at the price of leaving the honor of contentment and entering into the humility of want and submissiveness. If the buyer encounters some (evil) consequences of this transaction, then it is for the one who dismantles the bodies of monarchs, snatches the lives of despots, destroys the domain of Pharaohs, Kisras, Caesars, Tubbas and Himyars and all those who amass wealth upon wealth and go on increasing it, who build high houses and decorate them and collect treasures and preserve them, as they claimed according to their own thinking, for children to take them to the place of accounting and Judgment and the status of reward and punishment. “When the verdict will be passed those who stood on falsehood will then be the losers” (Holy Qur’an, 40: 78).
This document is appreciated by intelligence when free from the shackles of desire and from the adornments of this world.

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