Lessons from Nahjul Balagha [Electronic resources] نسخه متنی

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Lessons from Nahjul Balagha [Electronic resources] - نسخه متنی

Sayyid Ali Khamenei

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In this sermon he recalls the
creation of Earth and Sky and the birth of Adam.

Praise is due to Allah
whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot
be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be
satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of
intellectual courage cannot appreciate, and the divings of
understanding cannot reach; He for whose description no limit has
been laid down, no eulogy exists, no time is ordained and no
duration is fixed. He brought forth creation through His
Omnipotence, dispersed winds through His Compassion, and made firm
the shaking earth with rocks.

The foremost in
religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of
acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying
Him is to believe in His Oneness, the perfection of believing in
His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His
purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a
proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and
everything to which something is attributed is different from the
attribute. Thus whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognises
His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who
regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts
for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who
pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted
limitations for Him numbered Him.

Whoever said in what
is He, held that He is contained; and whoever said on what is He
held He is not on something else. He is a Being but not through
phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from
non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness.
He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He
acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees
even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation.
He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep
company or whom He may miss in his absence.

The Creation of the

He initiated creation
most initially and commenced it originally, without undergoing
reflection, without making use of any experiment, without
innovating any movement, and without experiencing any aspiration
of mind. He allotted all things their times, put together their
variations gave them their properties, and determined their
features knowing them before creating them, realising fully their
limits and confines and appreciating their propensities and

When Almighty created
the openings of atmosphere, expanse of firmament and strata of
winds, He flowed into it water whose waves were stormy and whose
surges leapt one over the other. He loaded it on dashing wind and
breaking typhoons, ordered them to shed it back (as rain), gave
the wind control over the vigour of the rain, and acquainted it
with its limitations. The wind blew under it while water flowed
furiously over it.

Then Almighty created
forth wind and made its movement sterile, perpetuated its
position, intensified its motion and spread it far and wide. Then
He ordered the wind to raise up deep waters and to intensify the
waves of the oceans. So the wind churned it like the churning of
curd and pushed it fiercely into the firmament throwing its front
position on the rear and the stationary on the flowing till its
level was raised and the surface was full of foam. Then Almighty
raised the foam on to the open wind and vast firmament and made
therefrom the seven skies and made the lower one as a stationary
surge and the upper one as protective ceiling and a high edifice
without any pole to support it or nail to hold it together. Then
He decorated them with stars and the light of meteors and hung in
it the shining sun and effulgent moon under the revolving sky,
moving ceiling and rotating firmament.

The Creation of the

Then He created the
openings between high skies and filled them with all classes of
His angels. Some of them are in prostration and do not kneel up.
Others in kneeling position and do not stand up. Some of them are
in array and do not leave their position. Others are extolling
Allah and do not get tired. The sleep of the eye or the slip of
wit, or languor of the body or the effect of forgetfulness does
not effect them.

Among them are those
who work as trusted bearers of His message, those who serve as
speaking tongues for His prophets and those who carry to and fro
His orders and injunctions. Among them are the protectors of His
creatures and guards of the doors of the gardens of Paradise.
Among them are those also whose steps are fixed on earth but their
necks are protruding into the skies, their limbs are getting out
on all sides, their shoulders are in accord with the columns of
the Divine Throne, their eyes are downcast before it, they have
spread down their wings under it and they have rendered between
themselves and all else curtains of honour and screens of power.
They do not think of their Creator through image, do not impute to
Him attributes of the created, do not confine Him within abodes
and do not point at Him through illustrations.

Description of the
Creation of Adam

Allah collected from
hard, soft, sweet and sour earth, clay which He dripped in water
till it got pure, and kneaded it with moisture till it became
gluey. From it He carved an image with curves, joints, limbs and
segments. He solidified it till it dried up for a fixed time and a
known duration. Then He blew into it out of His Spirit whereupon
it took the pattern of a human being with mind that governs him,
intelligence which he makes use of, limbs that serve him, organs
that change his position, sagacity that differentiates between
truth and untruth, tastes and smells, colours and species. He is a
mixture of clays of different colours, cohesive materials,
divergent contradictories and differing properties like heat,
cold, softness and hardness.

Then Allah asked the
angels to fulfil His promise with them and to accomplish the
pledge of His injunction to them by acknowledging Him through
prostration to Him and submission to His honoured position. So
Allah said:

"Be prostrate
towards Adam and they prostrated except Iblis (Satan)."
(Qur'an, 2:34; 7:11; 17:61; 18:50; 20:116)

withheld him and vice overcame him. So that he took pride in his
own creation with fire and treated contemptuously the creation of
clay. So Allah allowed him time in order to let him fully deserve
His wrath, and to complete (man's) test and to fulfil the promise
(He had made to Satan). Thus, He said:

"Verily you have
been allowed time till the known Day." (Qur'an, 15:38;

Thereafter, Allah
inhabited Adam (p.b.u.h.) in a house where He made his life
pleasant and his stay safe, and He cautioned him of Iblis and his
enmity. Then his enemy (Iblis) envied his abiding in Paradise and
his contacts with the virtuous. So he changed his conviction into
wavering and determination into weakness. He thus converted his
happiness into fear and his prestige into shame. Then Allah
offered to Adam (p.b.u.h.) the chance to repent, taught him words
of His Mercy, promised him return to His Paradise and sent him
down to the place of trial and procreation of progeny.

Allah chooses His

From his (Adam's)
progeny Allah chose prophets and took their pledge for his
revelation and for carrying His message as their trust. In course
of time many people perverted Allah's trust with them and ignored
His position and took compeers along with Him. Satan turned them
away from knowing Him and kept them aloof from His worship. Then
Allah sent His Messengers and series of His prophets towards them
to get them to fulfil the pledges of His creation, to recall to
them His bounties, to exhort them by preaching, to unveil before
them the hidden virtues of wisdom and show them the signs of His
Omnipotence namely the sky which is raised over them, the earth
that is placed beneath them, means of living that sustain them,
deaths that make them die, ailments that turn them old and
incidents that successively betake them.

Allah never allowed
His creation to remain without a Prophet deputised by Him, or a
book sent down from Him or a binding argument or a standing plea.
These Messengers were such that they did not feel little because
of smallness of their number or of largeness of the number of
their falsifiers. Among them was either a predecessor who would
name the one to follow or the follower who had been introduced by
the predecessor.

The Prophethood of

In this way ages
passed by and times rolled on, fathers passed away while sons took
their places till Allah deputised Muhammmad (peace be upon him and
his progeny) as His Prophet, in fulfilment of His promise and in
completion of His Prophethood. His pledge had been taken from the
Prophets, his traits of character were well reputed and his birth
was honourable. The people of the earth at this time were divided
in different parties, their aims were separate and ways were
diverse. They either likened Allah with His creation or twisted
His Names or turned to else than Him. Through Muhammmad
(p.b.u.h.a.h.p.) Allah guided them out of wrong and with his
efforts took them out of ignorance.

Then Allah chose for
Muhammmad, peace be upon him and on his progeny, to meet Him,
selected him for His own nearness, regarded him too dignified to
remain in this world and decided to remove him from this place of
trial. So He drew him towards Himself with honour. Allah may
shower His blessing on him, and his progeny.

The Holy Qur'an and

But the Prophet left
among you the same which other Prophets left among their peoples,
because Prophets do not leave them untended (in dark) without a
clear path and a standing ensign, namely the Book of your Creator
clarifying its permission and prohibitions, its obligations and
discretion, its repealing injunctions and the repealed ones, its
permissible matters and compulsory ones, its particulars and the
general ones, its lessons and illustrations, its long and the
short ones, its clear and obscure ones, detailing its
abbreviations and clarifying its obscurities.

In it there are some
verses whose knowledge (1) is
obligatory and others whose ignorance by the people is
permissible. It also contains what appears to be obligatory
according to the Book (2) but its
repeal is signified by the Prophet's action (sunnah) or that which
appears compulsory according to the Prophet's action but the Book
allows not following it. Or there are those which are obligatory
in a given time but not so after that time. Its prohibitions also
differ. Some are major regarding which there exists the threat of
fire (Hell), and others are minor for which there are prospects of
forgiveness. There are also those of which a small portion is also
acceptable (to Allah) but they are capable of being expanded.

In this very sermon he
spoke about Hajj

Allah has made
obligatory upon you the pilgrimage (hajj) to His sacred House
which is the turning point for the people who go to it as beasts
or pigeons go towards spring water. Allah the glorified made it a
sign of their supplication before His Greatness and their
acknowledgement of His Dignity. He selected from among His
creation those who on listening to His call responded to it and
testified His word. They stood in the position of His Prophets and
resembled His angels who surround the Divine Throne securing all
the benefits of performing His worship and hastening towards His
promised forgiveness. Allah the glorified made it (His sacred
House) an emblem for Islam and an object of respect for those who
turn to it. He made obligatory its pilgrimage and laid down its
claim for which He held you responsible to discharge it. Thus,
Allah the glorified said:

". . . And
(purely) for Allah, is incumbent upon mankind, the pilgrimage to
the House, for those who can afford to journey thither. And
whoever denieth then verily, Allah is Selfsufficiently
independent of the worlds" (Qur'an, 3:96).

"The foremost in religion (din) is His knowledge." The
literal meaning of din is obedience, and its popular sense is
code, whether literal sense is taken or the popular one, in either
case, if the mind is devoid of any conception of Divinity, there
would be no question of obedience, nor of following any code;
because when there is no aim there is no point in advancing
towards it; where there is no object in view there is no sense in
making efforts to achieve it. Nevertheless, when the nature and
guiding faculty of man bring him in contact with a superior
Authority and his taste for obedience and impulse of submission
subjugates him before a Deity, he finds himself bound by certain
limitations as against abject freedom of activity. These very
limitations are din (Religion) whose point of commencement is
knowledge of Allah and acknowledgement of His Being.

After pointing out the
essentials of Divine knowledge Amir al-mu'minin has described its
important constituents and conditions. He has held those stages of
such knowledge which people generally regard as the point of
highest approach to be insufficient. He says that its first stage
is that with the natural sense of search for the unknown and the
guidance of conscience or on hearing from the followers of
religions an image of the Unseen Being known as Allah is formed in
the mind. This image in fact is the forerunner of the obligation
to thinking and reflection and to seeking His knowledge. But those
who love idleness, or are under pressure of environment, do not
undertake this search despite creation of such image and the image
fails to get testified. In this case they remain deprived of
Divine knowledge, and since their inaccess to the stage of
testifying after the formation of image is by volition they
deserve to be questioned about it. But one who is moved by the
power of this image goes further and considers thinking and
reflection necessary. In this way one reaches the next stage in
the attainment of Divine knowledge, namely to search for the
Creator through diversification of creation and species of
creatures, because every picture is a solid and inflexible guide
to the existence of its painter and every effect to the action of
its cause. When he casts his glance around himself he does not
find a single thing which might have come into existence without
the act of a maker so much so that he does not find the sign of a
footstep without a walker nor a construction without a builder.
How can he comprehend that this blue sky with the sun and the moon
in its expanse and the earth with the exuberance of its grass and
flowers could have come into existence without the action of a
Creator. Therefore, after observing all that exists in the world
and the regulated system of the entire creation no one can help
concluding that there is a Creator for this world of diversities
because existence cannot come out of non-existence, nor can
existence sprout forth from nothingness.

The Holy Qur'an has
pointed to this reasoning thus:

". . . What! about
Allah is there any doubt, the Originator of the heavens and the
earth ?. . ." (14:10).

But this stage would
also be insufficient if this testimony in favour of Allah is
tarnished by belief in the divinity of some other deity.

The third stage is
that His existence should be acknowledged along with belief in
Unity and Oneness. Without this the testimony to Allah's existence
cannot be complete because if more gods are believed in He would
not be One whereas it is necessary that He should be One. The
reason is that in case of more than one god the question would
arise whether one of them created all this creation or all of them
together. If one of them created it there should be some
differential to distinguish him otherwise he would be accorded
preferential position without reason, which is unacceptable to the
mind. If all have created it collectively then the position has
only two forms; either he cannot perform his functions without the
assistance of others or he is above the need for their assistance.
The first case means his incapability and being in need of others
while the other case means that they are several regular
performers of a single act and the fallacy of both has already
been shown. If we assume that all the gods performed the act of
creation by dividing among themselves then, in this case all the
creation will, not bear the same relationship towards the creator
since each creature will bear relationship only to its own creator
whereas every creature should have one and the same relationship
to all creators. This is because all the creation should have one
and the same relationship to all the creators as all the created
in their capacity to accept effect and all the creators in their
capacity to produce effect should be similar. In short there is no
way but to acknowledge Him as One because in believing in numerous
creators there remains no possibility of the existence of any
other thing, and destruction proves implicit for the earth, the
sky and everything in creation. Allah the glorified has expressed
this argument in the following words:

"Had there been in
(the heavens and the earth [other] ) gods except Allah, they
both had been in disorder. . ." (Qur'an, 21:22).

The fourth stage is
that Allah should be regarded free of all defects and
deficiencies, and devoid of body, form, illustration, similarity,
position of place or time, motion, stillness, incapability and
ignorance because there can be no deficiency or defect in the
perfect Being nor can anyone be deemed like Him because all these
attributes bring down a being from the high position of the
Creator to the low position of the created. That is why along with
Unity, Allah has held purity from deficiency of equal importance.

"Say: 'He (Allah)
is One (alone).

Allah, the needless.

He begetteth not, nor is He begotten.

And there is none like unto Him" (Qur'an, 112:1-4).

"Vision perceiveth
Him not, and He perceiveth (all) vision; He is the Subtle, the
All-aware" (Qur'an, 6:104).

"So coin ye not
any similitudes to Allah; verily Allah knoweth (every thing) and
ye know not." (Qur'an, 16:74).

". . .Nothing
whatsoever (is there) like the like of Him; and He (alone) is
the All-hearing and the All-seeing." (Qur'an, 42:11)

The fifth stage of
completing His Knowledge is that attributes should not be put in
Him from outside lest there be duality in His Oneness, and
deviating from its proper connotation Unity may fall in the
labyrinth of one in three and three in one, because His Being is
not a combination of essence and form so that attribute may cling
to Him like smell in the flowers or brightness in the stars.
Rather, He is the fountain head of all attributes and needs no
medium for manifestation of His perfect Attributes. If He is named
Omniscient it is because the signs of his knowledge are manifest.
If He is called Omnipotent it is because every particle points to
His Omnipotence and Activity, and if to Him is attributed the
power to listen or to see it is because the cohesion of the entire
creation and its administration cannot be done without hearing or
seeing but the existence of these attributes in Him cannot be held
to be in the same way as in the creation namely that He should be
capable to know only after He acquires knowledge or He should be
powerful and strong only after energy runs into His limbs because
taking attributes as separate from His Being would connote duality
and where there is duality unity disappears. That is how Amir
al-mu'minin has rejected the idea of attributes being addition to
His Being, presented Unity in its true significance, and did not
allow Unity to be tainted with stains of multiplicity. This does
not mean that adjectives cannot at all be attributed to Him, as
this would be giving support to those who are groping in the dark
abyss of negativism, although every nook and comer in the entire
existence is brimming with His attributes and every particle of
creation stands witness that He has knowledge, He is powerful, He
hears, He sees. He nurtures under His care and allows growth under
His mercy. The intention is that for Him nothing can be suggested
to serve as an adjunct to Him, because His self includes
attributes and His attributes connote His Self. Let us learn this
very theme in the words of al-Imam Abu Abdillah Jafar ibn
Muhammmad as-Sadiq (p.b.u.h.) comparing it with the belief in
Unity adopted by other religions and then appreciate who is the
exponent of the true concept of Unity.

The Imam says:

"Our Allah the
Glorified, the Magnificent has ever had knowledge as His Self
even though there was nothing to know, sight as His Self even
though there was nothing to know, sight as His Self even though
there was nothing to behold, hearing as His Self even though
there was nothing to hear, and Potence as His Self even though
there was nothing to be under His Potence. When He created the
things and the object of knowledge came into existence His
knowledge became related to the known, hearing related to the
heard, sight related to the seen, and potence related to its
object." (at-Tawhid by ash-Shaykh as-Saduq, p.139)

This is the belief
over which the Imams of the Prophet's family are unanimous, but
the majority group has adopted a different course by creating the
idea of differentiation between His Self and Attributes.
ash-Shahristani says on page 42 of his book Kitab al-milal

According to
Abu'l-Hasan al-Ashari, Allah knows through (the attribute of)
knowledge, is Powerful through activity, speaks through speech,
hears through hearing and sees through sight.

If we regard
attributes distinct from Self in this manner there would be two
alternatives; either the attributes must have existed in Him from
ever or they must have occurred later. In the first case we have
to recognise as many eternal objects as the attributes which all
will share with Him in being eternal, but "Allah is above
what the people deem Him to have equals." In the second case
in addition to subjecting Him to the alternations it would also
mean that before the acquiring of the attributes He was neither
scient, nor powerful, nor hearer nor beholder and this runs
counter to the basic tenet of Islam.

". . . Allah hath
decreed trade lawful and hath forbidden interest. . ."
(Qur'an, 2:275)

"And when you have
finished the prayer remember Allah standing, and sitting, and
reacting, and when ye are secure (from danger) establish prayer
. . ." (Qur'an, 4:103)

"O' ye men! eat of
what is in the earth lawful and good and follow not the
foot-steps of Satan; for verily he is an open enemy unto
you." (Qur'an, 2:168)

"(And) say thou:
'I am only a man like you, it is revealed unto me that your god
is but one God, therefore whosoever desireth to meet his Lord,
let him do good deeds, and associate not any one in the worship
of his Lord'." (Qur'an, 18:110)

"What! enjoin ye
upon the people righteousness and ye forget your own selves? Yet
ye read the scripture? What: do ye not understand?"
(Qur'an, 2:44).

About the Qur'an, Amir al-mu'minin says that it contains
description of the permitted and the forbidden acts such as
"Allah has allowed sale and purchase but prohibited

It clarifies
obligatory and optional acts such as "when you have finished
the prayer (of fear) remember Allah rising, sitting or lying and
when you feel safe (from the enemy) then say the prayers (as

Here prayer is
obligatory while other forms of remembering (Allah) are optional.
It has repealing and repealed verses such as about the period of
seclusion after husband's death "four months and ten
days" or the repealed one such as "till one year without
going out" which shows that this period of seclusion should
be one year. In particular places it permits the forbidden such as
"whoever is compelled without being wilfully wrongful or
transgressor, commits no sins."

It has positive
injunctions such as "One should not add anyone with Allah in
worship." It has particular and general injunctions.
Particular is the one where the word shows generality but the
sense is limited such as "I have made you superior over
worlds, O' Bani Isra'il."

Here the sense of
"Worlds," is confined to that particular time, although
the word is general in its literal meaning. The general
injunctions is one which is extensive in meaning such as
"Allah has knowledge of everything." It has lessons and
illustrations lessons such as "Allah caught him in the
punishment of this world and the next and there is lesson in

"So seized him
Allah, with the chastisement in the hereafter, and the life
before (it)." (Qur'an, 79:25)

"Verily in this
there is a lesson unto him who feareth (Allah)." (Qur'an,

"A kind word and
pardon is better than charity that is followed by injury, and
verily Allah is Self-sufficient, the Most forbearing."
(Qur'an, 2:263)

"And remember when
We made a covenant with you and raised the 'tur' (the Mountain)
above you (saying), 'Hold ye fast that which We have bestowed
upon you with the strength (of determination) and remember that
which is therein so that you may guard (yourself) against
evil'." (Qur'an, 2:63)

"So we made it a
lesson for (those of) their own times and for those (of their
posterity) who came after them and an exhortation unto those who
guard (themselves) against evil." (Qur'an, 2:66)

"He it is Who
fashioneth you in the wombs (of your mothers) as He liketh;
There is no god but He, the All-mighty, the All-wise."
(Qur'an, 3:5)

"Obedience and a
fair word; but when the affair is determined then if they be
true to Allah, it would certainly be better for them."
(Qur'an, 47:21)

"O' those who
believe! It is not lawful for you to inherit women against their
will; and do not straiten them in order that ye may take a part
of what ye have given, unless they are guilty of manifest
lewdness; but deal kindly with them, and if ye hate them, it may
be that ye hate a thing while Allah hath placed in it abundant
good." (Qur'an, 4:19)

"Say thou (unto
the people of the Book), 'Dispute ye with us about Allah;
whereas He is our Lord and your Lord, and for us are our deeds
and for you are your deeds; to Him (alone) we are (exclusively)
loyal?" (Qur'an, 2:139)

"There is a
lesson in it for him who fears Allah," and illustration as
"The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of
Allah is like a grain which grows seven ears each one of which
bears hundred grains." It has unspecific and specific verses.
Unspecific is one which has no limitation on specification such as
"Recall when Moses told his people 'Allah commands you to
sacrifice a cow.'"

Specific is one where
denotation is limited such as Allah says that "the cow should
be such that it has neither been used for ploughing nor for
irrigation fields." There is clear and obscure in it. Clear
is that which has no intricacy such as "Verily Allah has sway
over everything," while obscure is that whose meaning has
complication such as "the Merciful (Allah) occupies the
throne," whose apparent meaning gives the impression as if
Allah is bodily sitting on the Throne although the intention is to
press His authority and control. In it there are brief injunctions
such as "establish prayer" and those of deep meanings
such as the verses about which says:

"That the sense
is not known except to Allah and those immersed in
knowledge." Then Amir al-mu'minin dilates upon this theme in
a different style, he says that there are some things in it which
are necessary to know, such as "So know that there is no god
but Allah" and there are others which are not necessary to
know such as "alif lam mim" etc. It has also injunctions
which have been repealed by the Prophet's action such as "As
for your women who commit adultery get four male witnesses and if
four witnesses do appear shut such women in the house till death
ends their life." This punishment was current in early Islam
but was later replaced by stoning in the case of married women. In
it there are some injunctions which repealed the Prophet's action
such as "Turn your face towards Masjid al-haram" by
which the injunction for facing Bayt al-maqdis was repealed. It
also contains injunctions which are obligatory only at a
particular time after which their obligation ends, such as
"when the call for prayer is made on Friday then hasten
towards remembrance of Allah." It has also indicated grades
of prohibitions as the division of sins into light and serious
ones - light such as "Tell the believers to lower their
eyes" and serious ones such as "whoever kills a Believer
wilfully his award is to remain in Hell for ever." It also
contains injunctions where a little performance is enough but
there is scope for further performance such as "Read the
Qur'an as much as you easily can."

"Verily your Lord,
certainly is He the All-mighty, the All-merciful." (Qur'an,

"Say thou (O' Our
Prophet Muhammmad) unto the believer men that they cast down
their gaze and guard their private parts; that is purer for
them; verily Allah is All-aware of what (all) ye do."
(Qur'an, 24:30)

"Not equal are
those of the believers who sit (holding back) other than those
hurt, and those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth
and their selves (lives). Allah hath raised the strivers with
their wealth and selves (lives), in rank above those sitting
(holding back); Unto all (in faith) Allah hath promised good;
but those who strive, He hath distinguished above those who sit
(holding [by]) a great recompense." (Qur'an, 4:95)

"Verily, thy Lord
knowest that thou standest up (in the Night Prayer) night
two-third of the night, and (sometimes) half of it, and
(sometimes) a third of it, and a group of those with thee; and
Allah measureth (well) the night and the day; Knoweth He that
never can ye take (correct) account of it, so turneth He unto
you (mercifully) so recite ye whatever be easy (in the prayers)
to be read of the Qur'an; Knoweth He that there may be among you
sick, and others travelling in the earth seeking of the grace of
Allah, and others fighting in the way of Allah, so recite ye as
much as it can easily be done of it, and establish ye the
(regular) prayers, and pay ye the (prescribed) poor-rate, and
offer ye unto Allah a goodly loan; and whatsoever of good ye
send on before hand for yourselves, ye will (surely) find it
with Allah, that is the best and the greatest recompense; and
seek ye the forgiveness of Allah; Verily, Allah is
Oft-forgiving, the Most Merciful." (Qur'an, 73:20)

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