The Prince of Believers, Ali ibn Abi Talib (may the prayers and peace of God be upon him), when describing those who fear God, said:[W]hen anyone of them is spoken of highly, he says: “I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know myself. O God, do not deal with me according to what they say. Make me better than what they think of me, and forgive me for that which they do not know.”
A sign of one of them is that you will see that he has strength in religion; determination along with leniency; faith with conviction; eagerness for knowledge with forbearance, moderation in wealth; devotion in worship; gracefulness in poverty; endurance in hardship; desire for the lawful; pleasure in guidance; and hatred of greed. He performs virtuous deeds but still feels afraid. In the evening, he is eager to offer thanks [to God]; and in the morning, he is eager to remember [God]. He passes the night in fear and rises in the morning joyous yet in fear, lest night is passed in forgetfulness, and also in joy over the favor and mercy he has received. If his “self” refuses to endure a thing which it does not like, he does not grant its request for what it likes. The joy of his eyes lies in what is to last forever, while he remains aloof from things that will not last. He combines knowledge with forbearance, and speech with action.
You will see that his hopes are simple, his mistakes few; his heart fearing; his “self” contented; his meal small and simple; his state one of ease; his religion safe; his desires dead; and his anger suppressed. Only good is expected from him. Evil from him is not to be feared. Even if found among those who forget God, he is counted among those who remember Him, but if he is among those who remember, he is not counted among the forgetful. He forgives the one who is unjust to him, and he gives to the one who deprives him. He reconciles with the one who cuts ties with him.
Indecent speech is far removed from him; his utterance is lenient; his evils are non-existent; his virtues are ever present; his proceeds toward good and leaves evil behind. He remains dignified during calamities, patient in distress, and thankful during ease. He does not commit injustice toward the one he hates, and does not commit sin for the sake of the one he loves. He admits to truth before being testified against. He does not misplace what he saves, and does not forget what he is required to remember. He does not call others bad names, nor does he cause harm to his neighbor. He does not feel happy at the misfortune of others. He does not enter into falsehood, and does not leave what is true.
If he is silent, his silence does not grieve him. If he laughs he does not raise his voice, and if he is wronged, he endures until God takes revenge on his behalf. His “self” is in distress, whereas the people are at ease due to him. He puts himself in a state of hardship for the sake of his next life, and makes people feel at ease. His keeping away from others is by way of asceticism and purification, and his nearness to others is by way of leniency and mercifulness. His staying away is not out of vanity or a feeling of greatness, nor is his nearness out of deceit and cheating.