Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (pbh) narrated on the authority of the Imams before him, that the Holy Prophet (pbh) said: ‘O, Ali, the best thing about self-struggle is when a person wakes up with no desire to wrong anyone”1
What does it mean to engage in self-struggle? It looks a little bit different for each of us, depending on where we are in our lives- spiritually, emotionally, physically.. these all play a role in how we can prepare ourselves for reflection and struggle.
In this narration, we are faced with the possible consequence of no desire to wrong anyone.. is this a realistic possibility for any of us? While self-struggle may be inward and primarily comprised of reflection and thinking of ones own problems, the outcome of self-struggle often comes in the form of how we interact with others. If you are not at peace with yourself, you cannot be at peace with your Creator, or other people in your life.
Have you ever noticed those times when you are particularly angry, irritable or rude to others? These are usually moments when you suffer internally, or are dealing with matters that may be only fixed if you look into your own mind and soul. We may never know the exact ways in which our inner selves produce such hatred or anger towards others, but the only way to combat these ills is to reflect on what is going on inside ourselves.
Personally, I find that the moments when I am most stressed or angry is when I am unsure of a decision I have made or am about to make, or I am suffering from depression and anxiety that turns into bad behavior towards others. Sometimes this can be as simple as ignoring someone’s calls or texts, or taking out my anger on another person by pushing them away.
But what does it mean to truly have no desire to wrong anyone? We may think we are good people and would never harm someone physically, but this “wrong” can be done emotionally or spiritually as well. When was the last time you felt hurt by someone’s words or actions? Were you able to tell them about your pain? Did they apologize and ask for forgiveness?
It seems more and more, with advancing social media and the lack of personal contact with our friends, family, peers, it becomes more difficult for face-to-face interactions and discussions like these. I will be the first to admit that it is much easier to call someone out for their mistakes or pain they have caused me by email, text, or a message on Facebook than it is to get together in person. If I see them face-to-face, it may cause me to get too emotional, I may cry, I may risk them seeing my true pain or how upset I am. How can this be a bad thing? Don’t we want our friends to see the truth of our emotions, our “real” selves?
This narration has really forced me to reflect on how I have hurt others in the past-whether intentionally or not. I hope that I can one day be the person who wakes up with no desire to wrong anyone, and to be the person who is ready to discuss any time someone has wronged me.
1 al-Faqih, v. 4, p.245, no 821