The Bible says it is more
difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than a
camel pass through the eye of the needle. It may indeed be most
difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet,
the Bible does not say it is impossible. Hence, there must be
ways of overcoming the difficulty.
Below is the story of a
very rich man, Hajji Agha, who had the foresight to see the
seriousness of the problem and took the necessary measures to
provide for his afterlife as agreeably as he had for his earthly
life. This account shows that it is indeed possible to be rich
and, at the same time, assure oneself of admission into heaven.
My younger brother
Hassan died suddenly. It shocked me, Hajji Agha, and made me
think about where Hassan has gone and what is happening to him
now. Did he go to heaven or did he go to hell? I have not heard
from him. It is far too late to worry about him. I must think
about myself. I have been greatly occupied to concern myself
about death and what comes with it. I know that I am going to
die eventually. Everyone dies. What I do not know is what
happens to me after I die. I have heard bits and pieces about
hell and heaven, but have paid them little mind. I have been too
busy with the things of life, not death. Mullahs and morticians
deal with death and I am neither.
The thought of death
has caused me great troubles. I am not enjoying life as before.
I do not sleep well and have nightmares. I must seek the help of
the people who can come to my aid. When I become sick, I go to
the doctor. He knows how to treat my illness. With matters
religious, I must consult the high religious divines. They are
the ones who can help relief my anguish. Fortunately I know just
the right person, Hujat-ul-Islam (Islamic Jurist/ Scholar,
high-ranking mullah) Jafari. Hopefully he would deign to see me,
since he served as the Spiritual Guide to our late father.
I am religiously
negligent indeed. I have not even chosen a Spiritual Guide for
myself. I have, instead, pursued a life of worldly comfort and
pleasure. I shall, forthwith, beseech His Holiness to guide me
in ways he deems necessary to provide for my next life.
Hajji Agha dispatched
his servant to His Holiness at the central mosque with a letter,
together with a substantial sum of tribute, requesting the honor
of attaining his presence. His Holiness granted Hajji Agha’s
request and offered to personally prepare him, in as many
sessions as necessary, to become an exemplary Muslim and thereby
guarantee him eternal life in paradise, as he has done so with
the Hajji’s father. His Holiness assured him. Below is a
condensed report of what transpired as Hajji Agha embarked on
his schooling to become a true Muslim worthy of admission into
the promised paradise.
Hajji Agha. Your
Holiness, words are far too inadequate to convey my gratitude to
you for consenting to personally undertake the task of
transforming me from a sinner to an upright Muslim…
His Holiness. No
need. I am pleased you are following in the footsteps of your
late father, blessed his soul, and striving to live a true
Muslim life to join, after a hundred years, your father in
paradise. I am certain that he is a valued resident of paradise,
having led a saintly life while on earth.
Thank you Your Holiness. As for me, I am immersed in sin. I
cannot even begin to list all my failings. I need your guidance
to mend my ways. I promise to follow all your instructions to
You must tell me all about yourself, with complete truthfulness,
so I know which aspects of your life need attention, with what
urgency and to what extent. Are you in the same line of work as
your late father?
Hajji Agha. Yes.
Yes. I spend every hour of my days helping the needy. I
particularly assist widows and orphans who are in dire financial
need. The unfortunate ones who have no chance of securing badly
needed loans from banks.
Yes. Continuing the family tradition, huh? That is admirable. It
is good that you help the neediest of God’s children. Now, first
thing first, do you unfailingly take time off from your
charitable work to perform your obligatory prayers? It must be
most difficult for you to interrupt caring for your clients to
discharge your sacred duty. You must, per force, miss saying
some of your prayers on designated times, am I not correct?
Missing any of the five-times-a-day prescribed prayer assuredly
condemns the person to the inferno of hell.
Hajji Agha. Yes,
indeed I often fail to perform my prayers on time and as
prescribed, due to unrelenting demands of my work. Is there any
way I could satisfy that sacred religious obligation and make up
for my failings?
His Holiness. Of
course execution of all that has been prescribed by the Prophet
is the obligation, nay privilege, of every devote Muslim. Yet,
we are fallible human beings and the Prophet in his infinite
kindness has provided remedies for our failures…
Please, please, Your Holiness, tell me how can this humble
servant of the beloved Prophet make amend for my frequent
failure of saying my obligatory prayers?
Deputization is the provision. You fail to say your prayers as
prescribed, you deputize someone—preferably an upstanding man of
God—to perform the prayers on your behalf.
Would I be able to deputize someone, an upstanding man of God,
to pray on my behalf?
Yes. Every believer to the one and only faith of God is entitled
to partake from this generous provision. Problem is in finding
upstanding men of God in this day and age.
Allow me to kiss your hands, Your Holiness. You have relieved me
of my torment. I need not look anywhere outside of this chamber
for a deputy. I cannot fathom anyone more virtuous and dear to
God than you. Your prayers assuredly are the ones that God will
accept. Would you complete your generosity to this lowly one by
accepting to serve as my prayer deputy, please I beg of you?
His Holiness. My dear
fellow, if I were to accept the request of the multitude to
serve as their prayer deputy, I would have no time at all to
attend to any other matter…
Hajji Agha. Your
Holiness, you have always been so kind to my late father. He
frequently spoke glowingly of your magnanimity. I will be
eternally indebted to you if you would accept my desperate
His Holiness. I indeed
wish to honor any request, particularly when they are of
God-fearing people who are serious about their religious duties.
Pragmatic considerations, however, make it impossible for me to
accept your request at this time. When I make a commitment, I
honor it even if it were to cost me my life. The Prophet always
emphasized that a true believer can never enter paradise if he
fails to honor his commitments…
[Almost in a state of panic, rushes to His Holiness, throws
himself at his feet, reaches for his hands to kiss them].
Please, Your Holiness, the death of my brother Hassan has
delivered a powerful awakening blow to me. Although my junior by
five years, he was, he died suddenly and without even running a
fever. As you know Your Holiness death comes unannounced and
that worries me greatly. Please I beg of you to reconsider and
honor me as my deputy.
His Holiness. My
dear fellow, there is no need for you to plead. I would have
accepted your request if I could honor it. However, I might be
able to help you…
Hajji Agha. Yes,
yes, anything you command, Your Holiness.
His Holiness. I
know a true man of God, a man who is other-worldly. Although he
is physically in this contingent world, his soul resides in the
limitless expanse of the spirit. He lives in complete seclusion
in a remote mountain cave. I find it my honor and privilege to
see to his meager personal material needs as well as that of his
large family he has left behind. I can, under pressing
circumstances and on extremely rare occasions disturb his
seclusion momentarily. I shall try to visit him personally and
ask him if he would undertake the task of serving as your prayer
deputy. He is such a sanctified man of God that I have him pray
on my own behalf. A true saint he is.
[Tears of joy glide down his huge multi-layered cheeks]. I am so
grateful Your Holiness. Is there anyway I can contribute to the
expense of this holy man? I am certain that you have a large
number of the needy faithful under your care. We all know of you
and your assistants’ unceasing charity work. It is our honor and
privilege to be allowed to have a share in your work of God…
His Holiness. No
need. No need, please. One of the great torments of my life and
burden of my office is in dealing with financial concerns. It is
regrettable that I am forced to address the financial needs of
our work. Yet, we live in a material world and material means
are needed for this material life.
Hajji Agha. Yes
indeed, Your Holiness. It is precisely for this reason—the
securing of material means that I often fail to live up to my
religious obligations. As you so wisely point out, we must
address material needs…
Please, that is quite sufficient speaking about this topic. If
there is anything that you wish to discuss on this subject,
please see my Chief Assistant on your way out. I must attend to
other matters. You may make an appointment on your way out for
the next session. Go in the care of God and be assured that I
will pray on your behalf and will inform you of my attempt on
the subject of prayer deputization.
Hajji Agha, as
instructed by His Holiness, stopped by the Chief Assistant’s
chamber. The Chief, in contrast to His Holiness, was in no hurry
at all and had no compunctions discussing finances. He took a
great deal of time explaining the dire need of their charity
work for funds. He reminded Hajji Agha about how good Muslims
must offer zakat—tithe—sharing their wealth with God’s
needy children. That all wealth belongs to God and the rich must
not forget this. To lead a good Muslim life, the rich who are in
effect trustees of God’s wealth must generously contribute to
God’s work. And as the sacred scripture repeatedly remind the
faithful, once a believer in the unity of God and his beloved
Prophet makes a commitment, it is imperative that he honors the
commitment, come what may.
Thoroughly moved by the
Chief Assistant’s presentation and the promise of His Holiness
to personally enlist the holy man as his prayer deputy, Hajji
Agha commits himself, in writing, to a substantial monthly
donation to the work of His Holiness.
Greetings to you Agha. I pray that you are well and so is your
Greetings to you Hajji Agha. Thank you. Complaining does nothing
but add to unhappiness. It is said telling of your problems
saddens your friends and gladdens your enemies. And of course,
you, Hajji Agha, are a dear friend and I need not sadden you
with the inordinate problems that His Holiness and his staff
face daily in helping the poor, the elderly and the infirmed. It
is a task that His Holiness has taken upon himself and we have
the honor of serving under this exemplary holy man of God. I am
thankful to God and the Imams that I have been honored to work
under the guidance of His Holiness. No matter what this wicked
life throws at us and the people we have to minister to, a
moment in the presence of His Holiness dispels my sorrows the
same as the rays of the sun shatter the clouds.
Hajji Agha. Yes,
yes. It is indeed so Agha. And as you recall I am here to meet
with His Holiness…
My deepest apologies Hajji Agha. His Holiness left for the
mountains of Lorestan tow days ago. Before leaving, he reminded
me of your appointment for today and assured me that he would
make every effort to be back for the meeting. I am sorry that I
do not know the exact purpose of his journey, but since you are
so dear to him and to me I can hazard a guess. I believe he has
gone to meet a very saintly person on behalf of a particularly
dear suppliant. I beg you to make yourself comfortable in the
lounge, have some tea and sweets. His Holiness never fails to
honor his commitment. He will, God willing, arrive before long.
[Telephoning His Holiness]. Your Person, I apologize for
disturbing you. Hajji Agha is here for his appointment.
[Having frolicked the night at his secret apartment with a very
young exciting seeghe—religiously sanctioned temporary wife—His
Holiness had finally fallen into a deep sleep when the Chief
Assistant call woke him up]. Yes, make him comfortable. I shall
be there before long. [He slams the phone for having to go and
squeeze Hajji Agha instead of the delightful person stretched
next to him gently kissing his beard].
Aah, Hajji Agha, good news. I just received a telephone call
from His Holiness. He asked me to offer you his salutation and
assure you that, God willing, he will fight the abominable
traffic and arrive for the meeting shortly. Would you care for
more fresh tea and sweets, fresh water pipe, anything Hajji Agha?
[Hajji Agha never ever turns down anything free]. Yes, if it is
not too much imposition.
Not at all. Not at all. His Holiness would be most displeased if
we fail to extend our highest hospitality to his very special
people like your person.
[Bleary-eyed and exhausted from his full of exertion night he
returns Hajji Agha’s greetings]. And salutation unto you Hajji
Agha. I am a bit late, but I had a terribly demanding
night—driving all night without the help of my chauffer to make
our appointment. Our holy man is so taken to seclusion that he
would not permit anyone, not even my chauffer, to accompany me
to his presence. Hence, I undertook the arduous journey to
fulfill my promise to you…
Again, I am speechless. How can I possibly thank you for what
you have done and continue to do for me…
His Holiness. No
matter. The holy-ones have advised that the reward of a good
deed is the deed itself. I feel a large measure of satisfaction
when I manage to perform a good deed, even when it cost me a
Hajji Agha. Yes
indeed, yes indeed. A true man of God, you are…
His Holiness. I
have good news—as a matter of fact, very good news. Prior to
meeting the holy man, I performed an accurate calculation
regarding the number of times you have likely neglected to say
your prayer on time or you have failed to say it altogether. I
do not wish to embarrass you and I will not share the figure
with you. However, I gave the figure to our holy man to say all
the missed prayers of the past and say additional four each day
after having finished the arrears. The idea is that you must, no
matter what happens, try to say at least one of the five daily
prayers each day. It is a blessing that you do not want to miss,
no matter what. In case, God forbid, for reasons beyond your
control you miss some, then you must make note and report them
to my Chief Assistant so that the holy one can make amend for
Hajji Agha. Your
Holiness what can I say. As a point of personal favor, please
allow me to kiss your feet—the blessed feet that have journeyed
to the mountains to help a sinner like me…
That would void the little service I performed and it is
completely out of the question. [He embraces the Hajji Agha,
they peck on each other’s cheeks and the tearful-grateful Hajji
Agha backs out of the chamber—an exit form that avoids turning
one’s back toward the greatly respected person.]
Hajji Agha, deeply
comforted, dances his way out like a drop of oil rolling down a
hot skillet. In fact, there is an uncanny resemblance between
Hajji Agha and a drop of oil, both physically as well as the way
he smoothly works his victims. His poor clients pay him through
the nose, yet end up praying for him for being such a caring man
of God. He has a way of making them feel terrific while he is
bleeding them. Physically he is rotund. Every part of his huge
mostly fat body is almost equidistance from his belly button.
His shaven head rests on an invisible neck, while his face is
covered with six-day-old stubble. [Good Muslim men sport
stubbles as public display of their piety. Mullahs, on the other
hand, keep longer flowing beard since they are much holier than
the run of the mill Muslims.]
Working his cell phone,
Hajji Agha summons his chauffer and glides in the back seat of a
late model Mercedes limousine, virtually out of breath for
having walked a few steps to the front door of the mosque.
Happily humming, Hajji Agha orders the chauffer to take him to
his office to attend to business. He had missed half a day’s
work. That translates to a substantial income not generated. And
that is absolutely intolerable to him. Perhaps he would work and
hour or so longer today and make up for the lost time. He keeps
humming his happy tune. Life is nice. He can do all the things
he likes, while others are working for him to make sure once he
is dead, he would indeed go to heaven and continue enjoying
himself in a life eternal.
A stray thought
suddenly disrupts his celebratory mood. Some unwelcome voice
whispers inside his head: Hajji Agha, discharging the duty of
the daily obligatory prayer is only meeting one of the pillars
of the faith. You cannot go to heaven without satisfying all
that there is no God, but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.
Fine, that one is easy. I have satisfied that.
of five times a day obligatory prayer. The holy man in the
mountain cave is taking care of that. Who is better than him?
Would God want my prayers or his? Of course his when he is
saying them for me.
This one causes me problems to no end. I do not believe I have
been able to fast even one day all my life. I always eat and
drink something. No way have I ever been able to go from before
sunrise to after sunset without food or drink. That is terrible.
believe I am good on that front since I committed myself to give
substantial sums to the charity work of His Holiness.
the birthplace of Islam and performing the prescribed writ
during the designated time. Well. I have not done that. But
people call me Hajji Agha, just the same. All people in my trade
are Hajji Agha. Do I have to be a real Hajji by going through
that tortuous trip to Saudi Arabia? People tell me it is a
hardship and my system is thoroughly averse to hardship of any
sort. I must talk to His Holiness about this problem—and of
course about fasting.
The sanctifying and
preparation of Hajji Agha under the unerring tutelage of His
Holiness continued, at first once a week and eventually settled
down to once a month. The proceedings are too voluminous to be
reported in details here. Hence, a summary should serve
adequately the rich men who seek to lead a charmed life in this
world and not to have to worry not making it into paradise.
There is a sure way around the problem—the Islamic solution.
His Holiness assured
Hajji Agha that the reason he had not and could not observe the
fast had nothing to do with the man’s gluttony, lack of
discipline and the desire to indulge himself. The Hajji is
afflicted with a metabolic disorder. The condition constitutes a
valid reason for not observing the fast. [Neither the Hajji, nor
His Holiness felt it necessary to obtain a doctor’s views on the
diagnosis]. However, as is the case with the obligatory prayer,
Hajji Agha would do well to deputize someone to do the fasting
on his behalf—of course someone who is saintly. His Holiness
would enlist such a man, from among the horde of the poor in his
charge. The poor have no problem with not eating and drinking.
Starvation is their life-long fare. Furthermore, the poor will
happily fast on another man’s behalf as an act of charity, since
even the poor must perform charity for their salvation. The
rich, however, will do well to express their gratitude
financially so that the poor deputy can meet his family’s living
His Holiness solved the
problem of the Hajj in no time at all. Again, deputization was
the answer. Send someone on the Hajj on Hajji’s behalf. It is
done all the time. As long as the Hajji finances the journey and
generously compensates the deputy, the requirement of Hajj can
be fully satisfied. His Holiness was willing to assist in
locating such a man for the purpose.
There were numerous
other problems that had to be addressed to fully prepare the
Hajji for admission into paradise. Space limitation precludes
discussing them all here. Many of these issues had not even
occurred to the Hajji. It took the wisdom of a sanctified man,
His Holiness, to point them out and suggest remedial.
One major problem was
Hajji’s line of work. He was a usurer—a very heartless one at
that. All usurers usually are. It is a prime requisite for the
job. Usury is severely sanctioned in Islam. His Holiness pointed
out the problem, yet as always, he also supplied the solution.
He opined that in actuality the Hajji was not a usurer. He was a
sole-proprietor small banker. And in order to cover expenses of
his office and support his family, the Hajji requested
commissions from the desperate people he so generously
helped—people who stood no chance of obtaining financial
assistance from banks. Hence, the Hajji was indeed performing a
charitable service to the neediest of the needy. And just to
make sure that Hajji’s charitable work achieved its maximum
effect, he was to allocate a fifth of his commissions for the
care of the poor and the maintenance of the mosques where His
Are you rich and want
to be assured of a spot in heaven? If so, you may want to trust
yourself to the care of heaven’s representatives on earth—the
Muslim clergy—they will remake you into a good Muslim, prepare
you so well that you will be admitted to paradise with 21 gun
salute, an honor guard of angels and a thousand strong band
celebrating your arrival.