God has not created this world in vain, rather there is a purpose and wisdom behind it. We receive instruction on how to make the most of this purpose when we use the Quran and teachings of the Prophet and his immaculate family (pbut). And the most important of our responsibilities is to do our best to become an ideal servant of God where we obey Him, trust Him with our affairs, and be merciful to all His creation. Our sixth imam, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p), gave insight to his followers on how to become true servants of the Almighty. For one to reach the status of a true servant of God, there are four roots of conduct that must be practiced perfectly. He states, “The roots of conduct have four components: the conduct with God, conduct with our own selves, conduct with God’s creation, and conduct with the world.”1

Conduct with God

The first and most important advice offered by the sixth Imam is in regard to fulfilling the rights of God and perfecting our conduct to Him. Naturally, our existence ties to God’s service–fulfilling His commands, repenting for our wrong-doings, and being thankful for His blessings. As the Imam states later in this hadith about our conduct with our Creator, “fulfill His rights, protect His boundaries, be thankful for His blessings, be content with His decrees.”2 Furthermore, we should work toward consistently seeking nearness to Him by seeking knowledge and performing recommended acts of worship in addition to our obligatory acts. This will be the first step of the journey to true servitude.

Conduct with the Self

The second piece of advice offered by the Imam is to be cautious about our own selves and be wary of our conduct. In this lengthy narration, the Imam continues by explaining what this means by stating that one should be “fearful, striving, bear difficulties, [and] cultivating [the soul].”3 The notion of fear and striving does not have to have negative connotations, but rather it speaks to the importance of being careful with our actions and our surroundings.  For instance, in the same way that we are vigilant when we are driving a car due to the potential for disaster if we are inattentive, we cannot lose focus of our own selves as we should fear  falling into any sin or vice. Thus, it becomes our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable for all our actions. In a tradition, our seventh imam, Imam Musa al-Kadhim (p) states, “[A person] is not from us [if he] does not hold himself accountable every day.”4 By putting the words of both imams into practice, we will have fulfilled the right of our souls in regard to being among the best servants of God.

Conduct with God’s Creation

It is important that we behave in the best of manners when dealing with others. The Imam tells his followers to be “patient, forgiving, humble…offering advice, [and being] equitable”5 Many verses of the Quran and traditions from the infallible family emphasize such things as brotherhood, community, and care for our neighbors. For example, God says, “Believers are each other´s brothers. Restore peace among your brothers.”6 Thus, it is vital to use our best qualities when dealing with those around us. Furthermore, we should push ourselves to be a community who cares not only for humans, but also animals, the earth, plants, and all of God’s creation.

Conduct with the World

The Quran and traditions of the Prophet and his family (pbut) often speak about this world (or the dunya) as something that is very deceiving and which we should be careful to avoid attachment to. God says, “Let not the worldly life deceive you.”7 The fourth advice offered to us by Imam al-Sadiq (p) in this tradition is to recognize the reality of the world and deal with it with  certain etiquette. He states, “Be satisfied with [what you have], practice altruism with what is available to you, avoid seeking for what does not exist, [do not] accumulate [as it will become waste], choose abstinence, reject [unlawful] desires, and refuse [unlawful or unjust] power.”8 It is easy to get caught up in the allures of temporary pleasures, but the true servants of God recognize that this world is fleeting and that there is more to life than its attraction.

Bits of Advice

1. Be sincere in our actions: Sincerity is the key to our actions bearing fruit , or in other words, when we put forth an effort in the way of God it should be solely for Him. The most important code of conduct outlined by the Imam is with our Creator, and  we should perform our deeds—prayers, fasting, charitable efforts, and any good actions—solely to attain His pleasure and His proximity.

2. Keep ourselves accountable: To sit back and reflect every night before we sleep on the good deeds and bad deeds we performed on each day is of great merit, as we assess our actions and work to improve the following day. For instance, upon recollection of the good deeds, we will be more motivated to perform them the next day. When we recall what we have done wrong on a particular day, we use our insight and remind ourselves that we need to be careful not to fall into this action again. By doing this, we will be taking the advice of our sixth and seventh imams (in the narrations mentioned above) and putting it into action to help us become true servants of the Almighty.

3. Speak about God without speaking: Our actions speak louder than our words in terms of our religion. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) has said, “Speak of God in all conditions: not only by saying, ‘Glory belongs to God, all praise belongs to God, and no one deserves to be worshiped except God,’ but [also in those situations where] God has commanded you to do a certain thing. You must obey the command. And if it is a [thing] you know that God has prohibited you [from doing], you must stay away from it.”9 Our behavior will speak about our belief without our having to utter a single word.

1. Misbah al-Sharia, 5.
2. Misbah al-Sharia, 5.
3. Misbah al-Sharia, 6.
4. Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 1, p. 619.
5. Misbah al-Sharia, 6.
6. The Holy Quran 49:10. Citations from the Quran are from Muhammad Sarwar’s translation.
7. The Holy Quran 35:5.
8. Misbah al-Sharia, 6.
9. Al-kafi, vol. 2, p 144.

1. عن الامام الصادق (ع): أصول المعاملات تقع أربعة أوجه: معاملة الله، ومعاملة النفس، ومعاملة الخلق، ومعاملة الدنيا.
2. تتمة الحديث عن الإمام الصادق (ع): أما أصول معاملة الله تعالى فسبعة أشياء: أداء حقه، وحفظ حدّه، وشكر عطائه،والرضا بقضائه، والصبر على بلائه، وتعظيم حرمته، والشوق إليه.
3. تتمة الحديث عن الإمام الصادق (ع): وأصول معاملة النفس سبعة: الخوف، والجهد، وحمل الأذى، والرياضة، وطلب الصدق، والاخلاص، واخراجها من محبوبها،
4. عن الإمام الكاظم (ع): ليس منا من لم يحاسب نفسه في كل يوم.
5. تتمة حديث الإمام الصادق (ع): وأصول معاملة الخلق سبعة: الحلم، والعفو، والتواضع، والسخاء، والشفقة، والنصح، والعدل والإنصاف
6. {إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ}
7. {يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّـهِ الْغَرُورُ}
8. تتمة حديث الإمام الصادق (ع): وأصول معامله الدنيا سبعة: الرضا بالدون، والإيثار بالموجود، وترك طلب المفقود، وبغض الكثرة، واختيار الزهد، ومعرفة آفاتها، ورفض شهواتها رفض الرياسة.
9. عن الإمام الصادق (ع): “… وذكر الله على كل حال ليس سبحان الله والحمد لله ولا إله إلا الله والله أكبر فقط ولكن إذا ورد عليك شئ أمر الله عز وجل به أخذت به أو إذا ورد عليك شئ نهى الله عز وجل عنه تركته”.

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