يا جابر كم من عبد إن غاب لم يفقدوه و إن شهد لم يعرفوه
في أطمار لو أقسم على الله لأبره قسمه
O Jabir - how a many a man there is - if he is absent they do not ask about him, and if he is present they do not recognize him,
In ragged clothes, but if he swears an oath upon Allah - then Allah surely fulfills his oath for him. [Ja’far al-Sadiq]
The Real Wolves of Wall-Street
A better metaphor for a certain type of ambitious, cut-throat, high level banker than wolf [or other members of the extended canine family for that matter] is not easy to find. This is because they share the same aggression combined with a very low regard for the financial health of the many innocent whose wealth they play around with.
A narration from the commander of the faithful, which in some variants is attributed to the prophet (via Ali), predicts just such persons in a future age, going on to describe their practices with an accuracy that only prophetic insight can bring.
The narration is found in Uyun Akhbar al-Rida of al-Saduq (and other sources), and is represented below:
ن: بالاسانيد الثلاثة، عن الرضا، عن آبائه، عن الحسين بن علي عليهم السلام قال: خطبنا أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فقال: سيأتي على الناس زمان عضوض يعض المؤمن على ما في يده ولم يؤمر بذلك، قال الله تعالى: وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ وسيأتي زمان يقدم فيه الاشرار وينسئ فيه الاخيار، ويبايع المضطر – وقد نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله عن بيع المضطر وعن بيع الغرر – فاتقوا الله يا أيها الناس واصلحوا ذات بينكم، واحفظوني في أهلي
Uyun: Via the three chains from al-Ridha from his forefathers from al-Husayn b. Ali عليهم السلام who said: the commander of the faithfulعليه السلام addressed us and said: there will come upon people an extremely severe age, the believer will cling on tightly to that which is in his hand while he was not ordered to do that - Allah the Exalted says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves, verily Allah is aware of what you do” (2:237), and there will come a time wherein evil men will be given precedence and the righteous will be forgotten, deals are conducted with the one in distress, while the messenger of Allah prohibited transaction with the one in distress, and [also prohibited] the deceptive sale, so fear Allah O people and mend the ties between you, and safeguard me through [honoring] my descendants.
Ref: Muhammad Asif al-Muhsini, Mu'jam al-Ahadith al-Mu'tabara, Bab al-Sakha wa al-Bukhl, Kitab al-Akhlaq (Qum: Dar Nashr Adyan; 1st edition, 1434 H), Vol. 3, Pg. 172, No.6.
« يأتي على الناس زمان عضوض »
<<There will come upon people an extremely severe age>>
زمان عضوض is a key phrase which I have rendered as ‘an extremely severe age’, but it has its subtleties which need to be fleshed out.
عض originally means
العَضُّ الشدُّ بالأَسنان على الشيء
‘to bite onto/take hold of something using teeth’
عَضُوضٌ is derived fromعض and primarily used as a descriptive adjective for an animal, and one animal in particular, it is said:كلب عَضُوضٌ a dog that bites habitually.
This was extended analogically to derive other meanings (but is still intimately associated with its original meaning):
[I] When applied to rule or dominion it has the special significance of tyranny, as though the subjects thereof are being bitten by a dog.
It has been used with this meaning in the famous narration of the prophet in Sunni sources:
إن الله عز وجل بدأ هذا الأمر نبوة ورحمة ، وكائناً خلافة ورحمة، وكائناً ملكاً عضوضاً
Allah Mighty and Majestic began this affair with prophethood and mercy, and then will be succession and mercy, and then will be aملكاً عضوضاً (tyrannical kingdom). This is how various annotators defined ملكاً عضوضاً:
شديد الظلم على الناس، يعضهم كالكلب
Excessive in tyranny on the people, tearing into them like a dog.
قال ابن الأثير في النهاية: يصيب الرعية فيه عسْفٌ وظُلْم، كأنَّهم يُعَضُّون فيه عَضًّا
Ibn Athir says in al-Nihaya: The civilians will be inflicted in it with oppression and tyranny, as if they are being bitten in it with bites.
وهو نص على عدم شرعية حكم معاوية وأنه حكم جائر يعض المسلمين كالكلب
And this is a clear proof-text proving the illegitimacy of the rule of Muawiya, and that he was an unjust ruler who will bite the Muslims like a dog.
Very early evidence for this usage is also found in a letter of Talha to the people of Misr (inciting them against Uthman) in al-Imama wa al-Siyasa of pseudo-Ibn Qutayba
وكانت الخلافة بعد نبيّنا خلافة نبوّة ورحمة، وهي اليوم ملك عضوض، مَن غلب على شي ء أكَلَه
The Khilafa after our prophet was a Khilafa of prophethood and mercy, but it is today a tyrannical kingdom, whoever over-powers something eats it up.
[II] When applied to a time-period or an age it has the special significance of severe, as though the age is biting those living through it because of various difficulties that it contains.
It has been used with this meaning in the poem below:
إليك أشكو زمناً عَضوضاً مَن يَنْجُ منه ينقلب حَرِيضا
To you I complain زمناً عَضوضاً (a severe age) whoever is saved from it returns back sickened
A commentator says about this زمناً عَضوضاً:
أي كلب يقال: كلب الدهر على أهله إذا ألحّ عليهم واشتدّ
Meaning hard. It is said: the time has become hard on the people if it constantly presses on them and becomes extreme.
زمان يعضّ الناس ككلب كلب
Al-Tustari: an age which bites the people like a rabid dog.
I say: We can see thatعضوض connotes both unjust rule and an extremely severe [austere] period to come in the future. What is the most common way in which the modern economic system is described? A rapacious and increasingly ravenous dog eat dog world with great wealth owned by a few and austerity for the rest. And all this is alluded to in the narration!
زمان الضيق و الشدّة على أهله من جهة ضيق المعاش و كثرة القوانين و الحدود الموضوعة من الظلمة و الجبّارين على الضّعفاء و المساكين و غير ذلك
Mir Habib Allah al-Khoei: This age is characterized by poverty and troubles on its people, this is due to the constriction in their living, and the numerous man-made laws and rules which are enacted by unjust and tyrannic rulers over the weak and poor.
I say: Global poverty (inequality) is the main scourge of the modern economic system.
« يعض المؤمن على ما في يده »
<<the believer will cling on tightly to that which is in his hand>>
There is surely a mistake in this clause since it is not something we expect a believer to do, sure enough, when we look at the Nahj al-Balagha variant of this same tradition it says:
« يعض الموسر على ما في يديه »
<<the well-off will cling on tightly to that which is in his hands>>
فلا يدع أن يخرج منه خير إلى غيره
Al-Tustari: so he will not allow any of his wealth to go to anyone else.
عض الرجل على ماله اذا جمعه لنفسه فلا ينفقه و لا يعطى شيئا منه
Al-Rawandi: a man clings on to his wealth if he amasses it only for himself and does not give anything of it to anyone.
و عض فلان على ما في يده أي بخل و أمسك
Ibn Abi al-Hadid: someone clings to what is in his hands, that is: becomes stingy and withholds.
I say: Greed is the main driver of this.
« و لم يؤمر بذلك »
<<while he was not ordered to do that>>
بل بضدّه قال اللّه سبحانه: وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ
Al-Tustari: rather he was ordered to do its opposite, Allah Glorified is He says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves” (2:237).
The language used is not of command but encouragement, this shows that what is spoken of here is generosity in giving not the obligatory dues like Zakat.
و لا تنسوا الفضل بينكم و قال تعالى نسوا اللّه فنسيهم أي تركوا أمر اللّه و طاعته فترك اثابتهم، و اصل النسيان الترك
al-Rawandi says: “and do not forget liberality between yourselves” in another verse He said: “they forgot Allah so He in turn made them to forget themselves” (9:67), that is, they abandoned the orders of Allah and obedience to Him so he abandoned giving them. And the essence of forgetting is abandoning.
Examples of Liberality in the Hadith
و عن الصادق عليه السّلام : من يضمن أربعة بأربعة أبيات في الجنّة؟ أنفق و لا تخف فقرا، وأنصف الناس من نفسك، و أفش السلام في العالم، و اترك المراء و إن كنت محقّا
[al-Khisal]: al-Sadiqعليه السّلام said: who will guarantee for me these four in exchange of four houses in paradise? Give and do not fear poverty, be just to the people even against your own self-interest, spread peace in the world and abandon arguing even if you are in the right.
و عن الرضا عليه السّلام قال لمولى له: هل أنفقت اليوم شيئا؟ فقال لا فقال فمن أين يخلف اللّه علينا أنفق و لو درهما واحدا
[al-Kafi]: From al-Ridhaعليه السّلام who said to a Mawla of his: have you spent anything on charity today? he said: no, he said: how is Allah going to compensate us (in what we spend - if it is not in charity)? Give in charity even if it be a single silver coin.
Three Main Signs of that Age
« يقدّم فيه الأشرار، و ينسى ء فيه الأخيار »
1. << the evil men will be given precedence and the righteous will be forgotten >>
Let no one be in doubt about the moral decadence of a tax-evading global elite, a handful of whom own the wealth of almost half the earth’s population, or that of politicians who acquire positions of power deceitfully, in fact the lower they debase themselves the higher they rise, while the righteous are shunned, mocked and demeaned, or as is more likely, considered irrelevant, a pathetic remnant of a bygone era where virtue still counted. Relativism and Nihilism are after all what characterize this age.
To be continued …