Intro and Foreword:
Ayatollah Tahriri (may God bless him and extend his life) is one of the rare gems of the Islamic Seminary (Hawza) of Qom. He learned from a long list of incredibly renowned scholars including the Late Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Behjat and Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’I, for 17 and 13 years respectively, until they left this world. He is also a Teacher to many of the current students in the Hawza, ranging from new students to those of the highest rank of study. He often leads prayers at Imam Khomeini School (the largest institute in Qom for foreign Hawza students) and reminiscent of his teachers, he is always eagerly pursed by students who wish to truly learn and yearn to gain direction on their spiritual journey. After every congregational prayer numerous students will sit patiently closely behind him as he sits in the Mehrab (the place where the Imam stands to lead prayer), and one by one people approach him and quietly explain their spiritual needs and he offers them the guidance they need. Unfortunately, we often don’t get acquainted with or are unaware of such personalities until they have transcended from this world. The Commentary of the famous tradition of Unwan al-Basri is a manual for every wayfarer and a masterpiece.The common person who has potential and seeks, intentionally, to actualize his spiritual growth and proximity to God, will benefit just as the astute and experienced. As the publication nears its completion and shall be made available soon for all English readers, this condensed excerpt serves as a beautiful reminder for all us on our journeys, who long to be in the caravan of Truth. 
Nonetheless, man’s relationship with the beings of this world put him in a slumber of negligence.
How often it is that due to incidents or events, humans suddenly wake up from the slumber of carelessness and by turning their backs on the transient things of this world, they turn towards the Beloved. Others remove the veils of heedlessness by focusing on the purity of their divine intrinsic nature (fitra) and with awareness of the luminous invitation of the Prophets and divine Awliya (as). Subsequently, with the help of the Imams (as) and the help of a teacher and spiritual instructor, they are engaged in self-building. Also, God the Benevolent, out of His mercy, may sometimes give special awareness to those who have prior preparation and He may extend a special invitation towards Himself, just as He revealed to Hadhrat David (Dawud) (as):
اِنَّ لِلهِ فِي اَيّامِ دَهرِكُم نَفَحاتِ اَلا فَتَرَصَّدوا لَها
Verily, during your lifetime there are zephyrs from God.
Be attentive! So that you may receive them.
And, however much man embraces these zephyrs and utilizes them, God’s favor upon him increases and veils are removed so that he may comprehend realities. Therefore, it is necessary after receiving the blessing of self-awareness from God and while a few days of life still remain that he should join this caravan and turn away from the false glitters and ephemeral world.
[الْفُرصَةُ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ فَانْتَهِزُوا فُرَصَ الْخَيْرِ [2
Opportunity passes like the passing of a cloud so, so seize the good opportunities
How many Gnostics and ‘those who are in union’ (Wasil) have there been, who embarked on their spiritual ascension by properly utilizing such opportunities.
Fudhayl Ayyadh, (the name of one of the Gnostics), who before an internal transformation and sincere repentance was preoccupied with thieving and banditry. One night a caravan was passing by. Amongst the caravan there was a man who was reciting Qur’an and at that moment this verse reached Fudhayl’s ear:
[أَلَم يَأنِ لِلَّذينَ آمَنوا أَن تَخشَعَ قُلوبُهُم لِذِكرِ اللَّهِ[3
Is it not time yet for those who have faith that their hearts should be humbled for Allah’s remembrance
This verse was an arrow that pierced Fudhayl’s soul and he answered, “Yes. It is time!” And from then on, a dramatic change emerged in his soul and he began to make amends for his past. 
There have always been people with a background for appropriate spiritual training and who had not polluted their natural spirit with the veils of the material world. When the saintly Imams (as), would encounter these people, they would wake them from the slumber of heedlessness and show them the way to the path of servitude to God.
One day Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (as) was passing by a house and he heard the sound of music and singing coming from that house.
The Imam (as) asked a slave-woman who had come out of the house:
“O Servant Woman! Is the owner of this house free or a slave?”
She replied, “Free.”
He said, “You are right, if he was a slave he would fear his Master!”
When the slave-woman returned to the house, her owner, Bushr ibn Hafi, while sitting at the table with alcohol, asked her why she was late. The servant-woman explained what had happened in her meeting with Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (as) and conveyed his words. Bushr ran outside barefooted, with haste towards the Imam (as) and sought forgiveness. He wept and expressed his shame and with the help of the Imam (as), he repented.
As a result of the indirect words of the Imam (as), a spiritual revolution encompassed Bushr to the extent that he became labeled as one of the men of mystic knowledge.
 Translation (by Sheikh Husayn Mekki) of an excerpt from The Commentary of the Tradition of Unwan al-Basri – True Servitude and the Reality of Knowledge, by Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Tahriri
 Nahj al-Balagha, hadith no. 21
 Holy Qur’an, Chapter 57 -Iron al-Hadīd ( الحديد ), verse 16
 Tadhkirat al-Awliya, based upon the Nicholson edition, Behzad Publication, pg. 90
 Muntaha al-Aamal, Vol. 2, pg. 348
Editor’s note: Islamic Insights is honored to host a series on “Refinement of the Self” by esteemed guest columnist and scholar from Qom, Shaykh Husayn El-Mekki. His column will focus on interrelated topics ranging from akhlaq, ethics and morality as an all-comprehensive approach for character refinement based on Islamic teachings. For past articles in the column see here.