In the name of God the compassionate, ever merciful
Once a well-dressed and decent looking man entered a store and as he finished his shopping, he started speaking to the store owner who seemed to have known him previously.
As they conversed, the man was speaking in a gentle and quiet tone of voice, but the store owner was quite audible and could be well heard throughout the store. As one listened to the words that were spoken, in nearly one in every ten words, the store owner used honorable titles when referring to the man.
After a while, this unusual way of speaking drew the attention of other shoppers who couldn’t help but listen to this praise coming from the store owner. Some shoppers ignored the conversation and went their way but some did get attracted.
As if that didn’t seem unusual enough, after a while the man who the store owner was addressing with praise, now began to feel elated and started looking around to see if there were any more admirers!
That man had now gained a status within the small perimeter of the store by only using a title that he had identified himself with earlier and with the help of an ignorant store keeper!
The above is just one small example that in this world there are people who seek stature and there are those who admire those with stature, just because they have it. This could happen in a small store as above or within an office, a company, a city, a nation or an even larger group of people.
The question would be, is there a problem with seeking status or admiring people of stature? If one is a believer then that can be a great problem because the believer’s criterion to determine people of true stature differs with that, of what is acceptable to others.
The stature for a believer can be acknowledged by first looking at how that believer understands and follows the Quranic criterion and by correctly understanding and following the teachings of their Prophet (SAWW) and their divinely assigned Imams (AS). Only then, after the believer is properly purified and would exhibit proper judgment and show sincerity and goodness of the heart, then depending on the level of their knowledge, wisdom and ability a proper stature can be established for that believer. It should also be noted that no one will be ever able to reach the status of a prophet or a true divine Imam.
To clarify some of the above further,we can provide the following example from the life of Imam Ali (AS). The two characters named below, Talhah and az-Subayr sought false and improper stature based on power and greed and therefore betrayed their leader Imam Ali (AS) and had united themselves with his enemies who promised them power and high stature. Talhah and az-Subayr could not get the higher status, power and wealth they demanded, but not deserved, from Ali (AS) so they turned against him.
This is regarding the story of a particular man during the Battle of Al-Jamal which took place between the armies of Imam Ali (AS) and the enemies of God. The man was in doubt as to which of the two sides was on the right track. He said to himself, “How is it possible that such personalities like Talhah and az-Subayr should be at fault? He informed Ali (AS) of his dilemma and asked him whether it was possible that such great personalities and men of established repute (stature) should be in error?” Ali (AS) answered him as such: “You are seriously mistaken and have reversed the measure! Truth and falsehood are not measured by the worth of individuals. First, find out what is true and what is false, then you will see who stands by the truth and who is with falsehood.”
In other words, those seeking power or knowledge for the sake of stature or any other reason than to serve for the good of humanity are in error and the stature they achieve would be a false and improper stature.
Sureh Al-Isra, Verses (36-38)
“And follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those will be questioned (by Allah). (For example, if someone follows or honors those with false and improper stature out of ignorance, then they will be held liable at the resurrection day!)
And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height. (This is regarding those who seek improper statures)
All the bad aspects of these (the above mentioned things) are hateful to your Lord.”
To clarify the above, we can once more look at the Leader of the Believers, Imam Ali (AS) who was the symbol of good, sincerity and justice and a master of the Quranic criterion, hence having earned his honorable status rightfully.
Unlike those who put their own interests ahead of serving God and seek power and stature for their own self, Imam Ali (AS) reluctantly accepted the position of power and stature and only did so after public viewed him as the proper candidate and requested him to rule. So the level of stature that he achieved was true, well deserved and proper.
Here is an excerpt of his words regarding people seeking and praising improper stature:
“Your society will pass through a period when cunning and crafty intriguers will be favored by status, when profligates will be considered as well-bred, well-behaved and elegant elites of the society, when just and honest persons will be considered as weaklings, when charity will be considered as a loss to wealth and property, when support and help to each other will be considered as favor and benevolence and when prayers and worship to Allah will be taken up for the sake of show to gain popularity and higher status … “.
The ones who are assigned to guide the believers will not be seeking stature or reputation and they will not relent or tire in their mission, for the task that is at hand requires much patience and diligence. They will do the task that the Creator wants them to perform and all their important decisions will be based on His will alone. They very much acknowledge, appreciate and cherish their friends and supporters and have great affection for them at all times.
Thank you for reading this.