Translator(s): Dr. Ali Peiravi Lisa Zaynab Morgan
Publisher(s): Ansariyan Publications - Qum
Category: The 12 Imams General General
Topic Tags: Supplications Sahifa Sahifah Sajjadiyyah Miscellaneous information:nbsp;Commented by: Ghodratullah Mashayekhi
First Edition 1381 - 2002 – 1423
Person Tags: Imam Sajjad
Subject: Moral Tradition
Congress Classification: BP248/ع 7ر5088 1381
Dewey Classification: 297/63
National bibliography numbers: م 81-49602
سرشناسه : مشایخی، قدرت الله
عنوان قراردادی : حقوق از دیدگاه امام سجاد. انگلیسی
عنوان و نام پديدآور : A divine perspective on rights/ by Imam Sajad Ali Ibn al - Hussein; commented by Ghodratullah Mashayekhi؛ research and translation by Ali Peiravi, Lisa Zaynab Morgan.
مشخصات نشر : Qum: Ansariyan Publications, 2002= 1381.
مشخصات ظاهری : 469 ص.
وضعیت فهرست نویسی : ایرانشناسی
يادداشت : انگلیسی -عربی.
عنوان دیگر : حقوق از دیدگاه امام سجاد. انگلیسی
عنوان دیگر : رساله الحقوق. انگلیسی. شرح
آوانویسی عنوان : دیواین پرسپکتیو آن رایتس
موضوع : علی بن حسین (ع)، امام چهارم، 38 - 94ق. رساله الحقوق -- نقد و تفسیر.
موضوع : احادیث اخلاقی.
شناسه افزوده : پیروی، علی Peiravi, Ali ، مترجم
شناسه افزوده : مورگان، لیزازینب Morgan, Lisa Zaynab ، مترجم
شناسه افزوده : علی بن حسین (ع)، امام چهارم، 38 - 94ق. رساله الحقوق -- شرح.
رده بندی کنگره : BP248/ع 7ر5088 1381
رده بندی دیویی : 297/63
شماره کتابشناسی ملی : م 81-49602
A commentary on Imam Sajjad's "The Treatise of Rights" by Imam 'Ali Ibn al-Husayn as-Sajjad (as)A detailed commentary on the Treatise of Rights as narrated by our fourth Imam, Ali bin Husayn (as). This commentary contains further references from the Qur'an and ahadith confirming and shedding light on what has been narrated by our fourth Imam in The Treatise of Rights.
We dedicate this work to both of our parents to whom we are greatly indebted - our fathers: the late Mr. Mohammad Mehdi Peiravi, and Mr. Charles Henry Morgan, and our mothers who are alive and whom we and our children love and are still under their spiritual protection and loving support: Mrs. Talat Sheikh Peiravi and Mrs. Betty June Morgan.
Dr. Ali Peiravi
Ms. Lisa Zaynab Morgan
We thank God the Almighty for the opportunity granted to us to undertake the preparation of A Divine Perspective On Rights after the successful completion of The Complete Edition Of The Treatise On Rights by the fourth religious leader in the line of the Prophet of God , Ali ibn al-Husayn known as Imam Sajjad for his extended prostrations to God. A Divine Perspective On Rights that is authored by Mr. Ghodratullah Mashyekhi is a commentary on Imam
Sajjad’s “The Treatise On Rights.”
We translated this commentary into English for the interested readers. Regarding the references to verses of the Holy Qur’an, we have exactly cited for coherency using an available translation of the Qur’an into English by Mr. Abdullah Yusuf Ali (May God Reward Him). The Translation of the Holy Qur’an that we used is the following:
1 The Holy Qur’an
2 Text, Translation, Commentary and Notes Large Size (1 Volume)
3 Abdullah Yusuf Ali (English Arabic).
We have rewritten parts of the book to make it up-to-date. To include the state of the art knowledge we have added many footnotes, references to and verses from the Bible where appropriate.
We are partly indebted to our son Mehdi Peiravi for his assistance in the typing and layout of the book, our daughter Maryam Peiravi for her assistance in the translation of The Treatise on Rights from Arabic, and her sister Talat June Peiravi for her poetic contribution to this book. We are also indebted to the Ansarian Publications for supporting this work and completing the typesetting of the book, their staff and their respectable translators who have spent time to read the initial manuscript and made many useful suggestions to enrich the work.
May God grant them their reward. We warmly welcome any suggestions made by the readers that might help us learn about our mistakes and shortcomings, and help us improve our future works.
Dr. Ali Peiravi
Ms. Lisa Zaynab Morgan
You should respect everyone’s right
Be they old, young or
full of might,
Be they for you an adversary
Or if they ever made you happy.
The greatest right is that of God’s.
You should obey him and no other gods.
Our body parts too have certain rights
Such as not viewing forbidden sights.
Our relatives have many rights
Be it our parents, brothers or our wives.
There are also rights for our deeds
Be it charity, supplications or holy feeds.
All people have certain rights
Be they our teachers, or citizens nation-wide.
Talat June and Ali Peiravi
Although this book is written by Ghodratullah Mashayekhi and is a commentary on The Treatise on Rights, it is actually considered to be authored by the fourth Imam - Ali ibn al-Husayn - since he is the author of The Treatise On Rights. The commentator has just given more details about what the Immaculate Imam has said. Imam Sajjad is the son of Imam Husayn and Shah Banu.
According to some narrations, he was born on Sha’ban 5, 660 A.D. and became martyred on Muharram 12, 717 A.D. by Walid Ibn-e Abdol Malik. When he was born, his grandfather Imam Ali was controlling the affairs of the government. He experienced three years of the Alavi Caliphate and a short period of Imam Hassan’s government, which lasted for only several months.
He witnessed the saga of Karbala that took place in 683 A.D. and survived the day of Ashura. In accordance with the Divine decree, Imam Husayn appointed him as the people's next leader after Imam Husayn’s martyrdom at Karbala. Imam Sajjad who was also present there
was ill and unable to join the fight against the forces of Yazid. Thus, he was not martyred. During his journey from Karbala, he delivered speeches in the towns of Kufa and Damascus, and he informed the people of his father's holy intentions. In this way, he disgraced Yazid.
Imam Sajjad liked the orphans, the poor, and the handicapped to come to his house and be his guests. He used to give food and clothing to many families who were poor and needy. Imam Sajjad was so earnest in worshipping God that he was called ‘Zayn al-Abidin’, which means ‘the adornment of the worshippers’, while his title ‘al-Sajjad’ means ‘one who prostrates long and often.’ He lived for fifty-seven years, and devoted most of his efforts to reviving the spiritual aspects of the society. Hence, Imam Sajjad's life and statements were entirely devoted to asceticism and religious teachings.
His religious teachings are in the form of invocations and supplications. Having witnessed the unpleasant social situation of that era during which religious values were deviated and changed, Imam Sajjad attempted to establish a divine relationship between the people and God. Consequently, he was able to touch the hearts of the people and the people were deeply influenced by his words and his life style. His famous supplications are well-known as “al-Ŝaĥīfah al-Sajjadiyyah.”
About three decades of the Imam's life were devoted to the revival of spiritualism in the society. This book is one of his most outstanding teachings. It is a master document on
Islamic human rights, which not only covers human rights, but also includes the rights of God, our body parts, and our deeds. To any intelligent reader who ponders deeply about the contents of this valuable document on rights, it immediately becomes clear that Islam has already established the first document on rights nearly fourteen centuries ago. However, unfortunately in our modern world, there are those who claim to respect human rights, but they do so only superficially
In the Name of God, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful
اعْلَمْ رَحِمَكَ اللهُ أَنَّ للهِ عَلَيْكَ حُقُوقًا مُحِيطَةً بكَ فِي كلِّ حَرَكَةٍ تَحَرَّكْتَها أو سَكَنَةِ سَكَنْتَها أو مَنْزلَةٍ نَزَلْتَها أو جارحَةٍ قَلَّبْتَها أو آلةٍ تَصَرَّفْتَ بِها بَعْضُها أكْبَرُ مِنْ بَعًضٍ. و أكْبَرُ حُقوقِ اللهِ عَلَيْكَ ما أوْجَبَهُ لِنَفْسِهِ تَبارَكَ وَ تَعَالى مِنْ حَقِّهِ الَّذي هُوَ أصْلُ الْحُقوقِ وَ مِنْهُ تَفَرَّعَ. ثُمَّ أوْجَبَهُ عَلَيْكَ لِنَفْسِكَ مِنْ قَرْنِكَ الَى قَدَمِكَ عَلى إخْتِلافِ جَوارِحِكَ.
Know -God have mercy upon you - that God has rights incumbent upon you and that these encompass you in every motion through which you move, every rest which you take, every way station in which you reside, every limb which you employ, and every instrument which you use. Some of these rights are greater than others. And the greatest of God's rights incumbent upon you is what He has made incumbent upon you for Himself - the Blessed and the Exalted - from His rights: that which is the root of all rights from which others branch out. Then there are those
that He has made incumbent upon you in yourself, from your crown to your foot, according to the diversity of your organs.
فَجَعَلَ لِبَصَرِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِسَمْعِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِلِسانِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِيَدِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِرِجْلِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِبَطْنِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِفَرْجِكَ عَلَيْكَ حقًّا’ فَهَذِهِ الْجَوارِحُ السَّبْعُ الَّتي بِها تَكُونُ الأفْعالُ. ثُمَّ جَعَلَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ لأفْعالِكَ عَلَيْكَ حٌقُوقاً فَجَعَلَ لِصَلاتِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِصَوْمِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِصَدَقَتِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَ لِهَدْيِكَ عَلَيكَ حَقًّا وَ أفْعالِكَ عَلَيكَ حقًّا. ثُمَّ تَخْرُجُ الْحُقُوقُ مِنْكَ إلَى غَيْرِكَ مِنْ ذَوِي الْحُقُوقِ الْوَاجِبَةِ عَلَيكَ.
He established for your sight a right incumbent upon you, and your hearing a right incumbent upon you, and your tongue a right incumbent upon you, and your hand a right incumbent upon you, and your legs a right incumbent upon you, and your stomach a right incumbent upon you, and your private part a right incumbent upon you. These are the seven organs through which deeds take place.
Then the Mighty and the High established for your deeds rights incumbent upon you. Then He established for your ritual prayer a right incumbent upon you, and your fasting a right incumbent upon you, and your charity a right incumbent upon you, and your offering a right incumbent upon you, and your deeds a right incumbent upon you. Then the rights extend out from you to others who have rights incumbent upon you.
وَأَوْجَبُهَا عَلَيْكَ حُقُوقُ أَئِمَّتِكَ ثُمَّ حُقُوقُ رَعِيَّتِكَ ثُمَّ حُقُوقُ رَحِمِكَ. فَهَذِهِ حُقُوقٌ يَتَشَعَّبُ مِنْهَا
حُقُوقٌ: فَحُقُوقُ أَئِمَّتِكَ ثَلاثَةٌ أَوْجَبُهَا عَلَيْكَ حَقُّ سَائِسِكَ بالسُّلْطَانِ ثُمَّ سَائِسِكَ بالْعِلْمِ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ سَائِسِكَ بالْمُلْكِ، وَكُلُّ سَائِسٍٍ إمَامٌ. وَحُقُوقُ رَعِيَّتِكَ ثلاثَةٌ أَوْجَبُهَا عَلَيْكَ حَقُّ رَعِيَّتِكَ بالسُّلْطَان، ثُمَّ حَقُّ رعِيَّتِكَ بالْعِلْمِ، فَإنَّ الْجَاهِلَ رَعِيَّةُ الْعَالِمِ، وَحَقُّ رَعِيَّتِكَ بالْمُلْكِ مِنَ الأَزْوَاجِ وَمَا مَلَكْتَ مِنَ الأَيْمَانِ.
And the most incumbent of them incumbent upon you are the rights toward your leaders, then the rights toward your subjects, and then the rights toward your relations of kin. And from these rights other rights branch out. The rights of your leaders are three-fold: The one most incumbent upon you is the right of him who trains you through authority, then the right of him who trains you through knowledge, then the right of him who trains you through property.
And each trainer is a leader. And the rights of your subjects are three-fold: The one most incumbent upon you is the right of those who are your subjects through authority, then the right of those who are your subjects through knowledge - for the man of ignorance is the subject of the man of knowledge. And then the right of those who are your subjects through property, such as wives and those owned by the right hand.(1)
وَحُقُوقُ رَحِمِكَ كَثِيرَةٌ مُتَّصِلَةٌ بقَدْرِ اتِّصَالِ الرَّحِمِ فِي الْقَرَابَةِ فَأَوْجَبُهَا عَلَيْكَ حَقُّ أُمِّكَ ثُمَّ حَقُّ أَبيكَ ثُمَّ حَقُّ وَلَدِكَ ثُمَّ حَقُّ أَخِيكَ ثُمَّ الأَقْرَبُ فَالأَقْرَبُ وَالأَوَّلُ فَالأَوَّلُ. ثُمَّ حَقُّ مَوْلاكَ الْمُنْعِمِ عَلَيْكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مَوْلاكَ الْجَارِيَةُ نِعْمَتُكَ عَلَيْهِ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ ذِي الْمَعْرُوفِ لَدَيْكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مُؤَذِّنُكَ بالصَّلاةِ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ إمَامِكَ
فِي صَلاتِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ جَلِيسِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ جَارِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ صَاحِبكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ شَرِيكِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مَالِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ غَرِيمِكَ الَّذِي تُطَالِبُهُ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ غَرِيمِكَ الَّذِي يُطَالِبُكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ خَلِيطِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ خَصْمِكَ الْمُدَّعِي عَلَيْكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ خَصْمِكَ الَّذِي تَدَّعِي عَلَيْهِ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مُسْتَشِيرِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ الْمُشِيرِ عَلَيْكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مُسْتَنْصِحِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ النَّاصِحِ لَكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مَنْ هُوَ أَكْبَرُ مِنْكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مَنْ هُوَ أَصْغَرُ مِنْكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ سَائِلِكَ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مَن سَأَلْتَهُ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ مَن جَرَى لَكَ عَلَى يَدَيْهِ مَسَاءَةٌ بقَوْلٍ أَو فِعْلٍ أَوْ مَسَرَّةٍ بذَلِكَ بقَوْلٍ أَوْ فِعْلٍ عَنْ تَعَمُّدٍ مِنْهُ أَوْ غَيْرِ تَعَمُّدٍ مِنْهُ، ثُمَّ حَقُّ أَهْلِ مِلَّتِكَ عَامَّةً ثُمَّ حَقُّ أَهْلِ الذِّمَّةِ، ثُمَّ الْحُقُوقُ الْجَارِيَةُ بقَدْرِ عِلَلِ الأَحْوَالِ وَتَصَرُّفِ الأَسْبَاب. فَطُوبَى لِمَنْ أَعَانَهُ اللهُ عَلَى قَضَاءِ مَا أَوْجَبَ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ حُقُوقِهِ وَوَفَّقَهُ وَسَدَّدَهُ.
And the rights of your relations of kin are multi-fold: they hold according to the degree of closeness of the relationship. Then the most incumbent one upon you is the right of your mother, then the right of your father, then the right of your child, then the right of your brother, then the next nearest, and then the next nearest, and the most worthy, and then the next most worthy.
Then there is the right of your master who favors you,(1) then the right of the slave, the servant whose favors reach you,(2) then the right of him who treats you kindly, then the right of your caller to prayer, then the right of your prayer leader, then the right of your sitting
companion, then the right of your neighbor, then the right of your companion, then the right of your partner, then the right of your property, then the right of the debtor who must pay you back, then the right of your creditor who demands his debt to be paid back, then the right of your associate, then the right of your adversary who has a claim against you.
Then the right of your adversary against whom you have a claim, then the right of him who seeks your advice, then the right of him whose advice you seek, then the right of him who seeks your counsel, then the right of him whose counsel you seek, then the right of him who is older than you are, then the right of him who is younger than you are, then the right of him who begs from you, then the right of him from whom you beg, then the right of him who wrongs you either verbally or physically, then the right of him who does something to make you happy either verbally or physically whether intentionally or unintentionally, then the right of the people of your creed, then the right of those under the protection of Islam, then the rights which are incumbent upon you according to the vicissitudes of life and the availability of means. Therefore blessed be the one whom God helps fulfill the rights that He has made incumbent upon him and whom He grants success therein and
حق الله الأكبر
فأَمَّا حَقُّ اللهِ الأَكْبَرُ فَإنَّكَ تَعْبُدُهُ لا تُشْرِكُ بهِ شَيْئاً، فَإذَا فَعَلْتَ ذَلِكَ بإخلاصٍ جَعَلَ لَكَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ أَنْ يَكفِيَكَ أَمْرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَيَحْفَظَ لَكَ مَا تُحِبُّ مِنْهَما.
Then the greatest right of God incumbent upon you is that you worship Him without associating anything with Him. When you do that with sincerity, He has made it binding upon Himself to give you sufficiency in the affairs of this world and the next and to keep for you whatever of them(1) that you like.
Certainly one of the major aims of the Prophets was to invite mankind to worship God, and fight against paganism:
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلالَةُ فَسِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَانظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ
“For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle, (with the Command), "Serve God, and eschew Evil": of the People were some whom God guided, and some on whom error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what the end of those who denied (the Truth) was.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:36]
The divine call to the Unity of God and the fight against paganism was the aim of all the Prophets. Thus, they did their best to guide man away from worshipping the moon, the sun, the idols, cows or even other men. The Prophets directed man to worship God.
Worshipping God and being humble to Him is intrinsic in man’s nature.
This naturally exists in all men, and has been manifested throughout history. The Noble Prophet of Islam said:
كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ وَيُهَوِّدَانِهِ وَيُمَجِّسَانِه
“Each baby is born inherently innocent and God-worshipping. It is due to his parents that he becomes a Christian, a Jew or a Magian.”(1)
Psychologists have outlined this intrinsic tendency of mankind towards God-worshipping and have called it “inclination towards excellence.” They say that man has an inclination to find the truth that leads him to study philosophy and science. Thus, man is naturally inclined to seek the truth. This sense starts from childhood and extends throughout our lifetime. The child’s sense of curiosity and the many questions he asks his parents is a sign of this.
The child wants to discover the truth about the various causes of Creation and its underlying secrets. Man is inclined to moral ethics and noble characteristics. He enjoys honesty, and doing good deeds just as he loves the beauties such as lakes, rivers, and the woods. Man does not need any reasoning for these tendencies. Likewise, man is inherently inclined towards the absolute Perfection, Beauty and Knowledge - the One that is the source of all perfections. Regarding man’s God-inclined nature the Holy Qur’an says:
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the Faith: (Establish) God's handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind: no
change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by God: that is the standard Religion: but most among mankind understand not.”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Rum 30:30]
In the above verse, man’s nature has been referred to as “God’s handiwork” or “pattern on which He has made mankind.” We can notice the following points in the above verse:
1 - The coordination between divine regulations and human nature
2 - The intrinsic inclination of man to submit to God, which is called Islam and the one who does so is called a Muslim.
Regarding this intrinsic human inclination to God, Imam Ali said:
فَبَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رُسُلَهُ وَوَاتَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ أَنْبِيَاءَهُ لِيَسْتَأدُوهُمْ مِيثَاقَ فِطْرَتِهِ.
“Then God appointed His Apostles among them and sent the Prophets one after another so that they ask the people to honor their natural divine inclinations.”(1)
In another sermon we read:
وَ كَلِمَة الإخْلاصِ فَإنَّها الْفِطْرَةُ.
“The statements of Unity and Purity of God are indeed in harmony with man’s intrinsic nature.”(2)
Man’s turning to God during times of calamities is a sign of our inclinations to Godliness. Man gets involved with his position and status so much that he forgets about God. He gets fully entangled in his sins and disobedience. Once a calamity befalls upon man, he suddenly remembers God and turns to Him for help. Thus, we realize that this sense of Godliness is intrinsic in humans, but man’s involvement in worldly affairs results in his forgetting God. There is a well-known tradition that states that a man went to see Imam Sadiq and expressed his amazement
about the recognition of God.
He said: “I have discussed this issue with many knowledgeable people, but they have not been able to help me.” Imam Sadiq ended his amazement using his intrinsic human Godliness and asked him: “Have you ever been aboard a ship?” The man said: “Yes.” Then Imam Sadiq asked: “Have you ever been on a sinking ship, and reached out for a narrow piece of board to stay afloat?” The man said: “Yes. I have.” Then Imam Sadiq said: “Then while you could not see any dry land or anyone there to save you, were you not really attracted to some power to rescue you?” The man replied in the positive and was finally relieved of his amazement about God’s recognition.” (1)
Now that we have recognized the intrinsic nature of man’s inclination to God, and that the Prophets were appointed to invite man to honor this intrinsic Godliness, we will attend to the first and most important rights as described by Imam Sajjad - that is worshipping God and abandoning paganism. First, we should see what is meant by worshipping and paganism, and what acts are considered worshipping or related to paganism.
Worshipping is defined as expressing one’s insignificance and being humble. This is not proper unless it is done for God who is the possessor of all nobility, blessings, beauties and grandeur. There are two forms of worshipping. One form of worshipping is what we see when one prostrates to God and is absolutely subjected to His
will. The second form of worshipping is the voluntary verbal form to which we are invited.(1) The difference between obedience and worshipping is that obedience is used for God and the people too, while worshipping is exclusively used for God. One can be obedient to his parents, spouse or God, but he can worship only God.
There are two meanings for the Arabic word ‘abd’ meaning servant as used in the Holy Qur’an. The Almighty God said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى الْحُرُّ بِالْحُرِّ وَالْعَبْدُ بِالْعَبْدِ وَالأُنثَى بِالأُنثَى
“O ye who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:178]
In another verse the Almighty God said:
ضَرَبَ اللّهُ مَثَلاً عَبْدًا مَّمْلُوكًا لاَّ يَقْدِرُ عَلَى شَيْءٍ
“God sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; he has no power of any sort.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:75]
We also note the following verse of the Holy Qur’an that says:
إِن كُلُّ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ إِلَّا آتِي الرَّحْمَنِ عَبْدًا
“Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (God) Most Gracious as a servant.” [The Holy Qur’an, Maryam 19:93]
Servant has been defined to mean man, whether free or a slave.(2) The second meaning of servant is a sincere worshipper of God, as we read in the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
ذُرِّيَّةَ مَنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ إِنَّهُ كَانَ
“O ye that are sprung from those whom We carried (in the Ark) with Noah! Verily he was a devotee most grateful.” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Isra’il 17:3]
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأقْصا
“Glory to (God) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque.”(1) [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Isra’il 17:1]
وَ اذْكُرْ عَبْدَنا أيُّوبَ إذْ نادَى رَبَّةُ أنِّي مَسَّنِىَ الشَّيْطانُ بِنُصُبٍ وَ عَذَابٍ
“Commemorate Our Servant Job. Behold, he cried to his Lord: The Evil One has afflicted me with distress and suffering!" [The Holy Qur’an, Sad 38:41]
In these verses the second meaning is used for servant, and the Prophets Noah , Job , and Muhammad have been introduced to be the best of God’s servants. There are two forms of obedience to God. One form is obeying his decrees regarding what is forbidden and what is legitimate as in the following verses:
إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي
"Verily, I am God: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise.” [The Holy Qur’an, Ta-Ha 20:14]
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“I have only created Jinn and men that they may serve Me.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Dhariyat 51:56]
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انقَلَبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ
“There are among men some who serve God, as it were, on the
verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see!”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Hajj 22:11]
The other meaning of worshipping or servitude is self-humiliation accompanied by the recognition of God’s Majesty, and His absolute Perfection and Purity. Therefore, when we talk about servitude of God in Islam, we mean that man should be freed from the servitude of all except God, especially the kings, the rulers or the chiefs. We must realize that all harm or benefit is in the control of God, and none of the material powers in the world can bring us any harm or gain. God the Almighty said:
قُلْ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ مَا لاَ يَمْلِكُ لَكُمْ ضَرًّا وَلاَ نَفْعًا وَاللّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
Say: "Will ye worship, besides God, something which hath no power either to harm or benefit you? But God, - He it is that heareth and knoweth all things."[The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:76]
In another verse He said:
إِنَّمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْثَانًا وَتَخْلُقُونَ إِفْكًا إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ لَا يَمْلِكُونَ لَكُمْ رِزْقًا فَابْتَغُوا عِندَ اللَّهِ الرِّزْقَ وَاعْبُدُوهُ وَاشْكُرُوا لَهُ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
"For ye do worship idols besides God, and ye invent falsehood. The things that ye worship besides God have no power to give you sustenance: then seek ye sustenance from God, serve Him, and be grateful to Him: to Him will be your return.”[The Holy Qur’an,
In another verse we read:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O people! Adore your Guardian-Lord, who created you and those who came before you, that ye may have the chance to learn righteousness.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:21]
Here we will address the question of the range of worshipping in Islam. Worshipping does not imply just one’s action. Rather it applies to an extensive number of actions. It is similar to a deeply rooted tree with its many branches. Various actions are considered to be worshipping. We will briefly discuss them below.
Expressing one’s gratitude is defined as worshipping in many of the verses of the Holy Qur’an. First let us define gratitude, and then review some of the relevant verses of the Holy Qur’an. Expressing one’s gratitude has been defined to be the act that is either verbal or spiritual and mental. It implies respect for and humbleness before the One who has sent us His Blessings for which we must be grateful. Another form of gratitude is the proper application of blessings that we are given. For example, one way of expressing our gratitude for the eyes is looking at the Signs of God and taking heed therefrom:
قُلِ انظُرُواْ مَاذَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا تُغْنِي الآيَاتُ وَالنُّذُرُ عَن قَوْمٍ لاَّ يُؤْمِنُونَ
Say: "Behold all that is in the heavens and on earth"; but neither Signs nor Warners profit those who believe not.” [The Holy Qur’an, Yunus 10:101]
Imam Ali said:
(الأبرارُ) غَضُّوا أَبْصَارَهُمْ عَمّا حَرَّمَ اللهُ عَلَيهِمْ
وَوَقَفُوا أَسْمَاعَهُمْ عَلى العِلْمِ النَّافِعِ لَهُم.
“The pious ones close their eyes to the forbidden sights, and dedicate their ears to hearing useful knowledge.”(1)
Imam Ali said:
شُكْرُ كُلِّ نِعْمَةٍ الوَرَعُ عَمَّا حَرَّمَ اللهُ.
"Gratitude for each blessing is piety, abstinence and avoiding the divinely forbidden things.”(2)
Therefore, we should not use the resources that God has provided for us in order to commit sins.
Scientists today have classified the encouraging effects of gratitude of managers and leaders on their workers. When managers express their gratitude for the way the workers perform their duties, they are encouraged and work harder. On the other hand, if the managers do not care about the way their workers perform their duties and do not thank them, they will be discouraged and might even not do their basic duties. Imam Ali said:
وَلا يَكُونَنَّ الْمُحْسِنُ وَالمُسِيءُ عِنْدَكَ بِمَن_زِلَةٍ سَواءٍ، فَإنَّ فِي ذٰلِكَ تَزْهِيداً لإهْلِ الإحْسانِ فِي الإحْسانِ، وَتَدْرِيباً لإهْلِ الإساءَةِ عَلَى الإساءَةِ.
“Do not let the good-doers and the wrongdoers have an equal station before you, since this will make the good-doers abstain from good deeds and accustom the wrongdoers to sinning.”(3)
Regarding this issue the Holy Qur’an says:
أَفَنَجْعَلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ كَالْمُجْرِمِينَ مَا لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ
“Shall We then treat the People of Faith like the People of Sin? What is the matter with you? How judge ye?” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qalam 68:35-36]
This implies that faithful people are different from people who commit sins.
Gratitude consists of the following:
• Recognition of the blessing and the one who has bestowed it
• Being humble to the one
who has done us good, and being pleased with the blessing
• Using the blessings for the purpose intended for it by the donor of the blessing
Imam Sadiq said the following regarding the recognition of blessings:
مَنْ أَنْعَمَ اللهُ عَلَيْهِ نِعْمَةً فَعَرَفَهَا بِقَلْبِهِ فَقَدْ أَدَّى شُكْرَهَا.
“Whoever recognizes that something he received is a blessing from God has indeed expressed his gratitude.”(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
وَأَدْنَى الشُّكْرِ رُؤْيَةُ النِّعْمَةِ مِنَ اللهِ.
“The lowest level of gratitude is to recognize that God is the source of the blessings that we receive.”(2)
Imam Ali said:
الثَّنَاءُ بِأَكْثَرَ مِنَ الإسْتِحْقَاقِ مَلَقٌ، وَالتَّقْصِيرُ عَنِ الإسْتِحْقَاقِ عِيٌّ أوْ حَسَدٌ
“Praising someone more than he deserves is flattery, and falling short in praising someone as he deserves is (a result of) the inability to express oneself or envy.”(3)
We mentioned that God considers our being thankful for His blessings to be a form of worshipping. The following verses of the Holy Qur’an point this out:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُلُواْ مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُواْ لِلّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
“O ye who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to God, if it is Him ye worship.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:172]
بَلِ اللَّهَ فَاعْبُدْ وَكُن مِّنْ الشَّاكِرِينَ
“Nay, but worship God, and be of those who give thanks.”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Zumar 39:66]
Great divine men have been grateful to God because of His blessings. The Almighty God said:
لِتَسْتَوُوا عَلَى ظُهُورِهِ ثُمَّ تَذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ رَبِّكُمْ إِذَا اسْتَوَيْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ وَتَقُولُوا سُبْحانَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِينَ
“In order that ye may
sit firm and square on their backs, and when so seated, ye may celebrate the (kind) favor of your Lord, and say, "Glory to Him Who has subjected these to our (use), for we could never have accomplished this (by ourselves).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Zukhruf 43:13]
Solomon expresses his gratitude for God’s blessings as we read in the following verse:
فَتَبَسَّمَ ضَاحِكًا مِّن قَوْلِهَا وَقَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَى وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَدْخِلْنِي بِرَحْمَتِكَ فِي عِبَادِكَ الصَّالِحِينَ
“So he smiled, amused at her speech; and he said: "O my Lord! So order me that I may be grateful for Thy favors, which thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: And admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous servants." [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naml 27:19]
Another deed that is considered to be worshipping God is working in order to earn a living legitimately so that one does not become needy of others. In this regard, the Holy Qur’an says:
فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of God: and celebrate the Praises of God often (and without stint): that ye may prosper.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Jumu’ah 62:10]
This verse implies that we can go to work even after the congregational Friday prayers. Even the Prophet went to the bazaar
after the prayers.(1) Imam Baqir quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
العِبَادَةُ سَبْعُونَ جُزْءاً أَفْضَلُهَا طَلَبُ الحَلالِ.
“There are seventy parts in worshipping, the most excellent of which is seeking to earn a legitimate income.”(2)
Abu Hamzeh quoted the following on the authority of Imam Baqir :
مَنْ طَلَبَ الدُّنْيَا اسْتِعْفَافاً عَنِ النَّاسِ وَسَعْياً عَلَى أَهْلِهِ وَتَعَطُّفاً عَلَى جَارِهِ لَقِيَ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ وَوَجْهُهُ مِثْلَ القَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ البَدْرِ.
“Whoever strives hard in order to earn a living for his family, to be independent of others, to help his neighbors and save his honor will meet God in the Hereafter with his face shining like the full moon.”(3)
Mohammad ibn Ya’qoob Kulayni quoted on the authority of Ali ibn Ibrahim, on the authority of his father, on the authority of Muhammad ibn Shazan, on the authority of Ibn Abi Amir, on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Hajjaj, on the authority of Imam Sadiq that Muhammad ibn Munkadir said: “I did not think that Ali ibn Al-Husayn (4) might appoint some child better than Muhammad ibn Ali (5) as his successor to lead the Muslims until one day I decided to advise him, but he advised me instead.”
He was asked about the advice he was given. He explained: “One day I was walking in the alleys around Medina when I ran into Imam Baqir . It was a hot day. The Imam had two slaves with him, and he was working hard. I thought to myself why was one of the noble men
of the Quraysh tribe working so hard on such a hot day seeking the benefits of this world. I thought I should advise him.
I went to him and greeted him. The Imam was sweating. I asked him: “How come you who are one of the noble men of the Quraysh tribe are working so hard seeking the benefits of this world on such a hot day? What would happen if your death approaches now? How will you then answer God?
Then Imam Baqir replied: “If the angel of death comes now while I am obeying God and working to earn a living for my family to be needless of others, I have no fear. I should be worried if I was committing a sin when the angel of death arrives to take my life.” Then Monkadir said: “O’ Grandson of the Prophet ! I wanted to advise you, but you advised me!” (1) We see that Imam Baqir considers working to earn a living to be a form of worshipping.
In another tradition Musa ibn Bukayr quoted on the authority of Imam Kazim : “Whoever seeks a legitimate income for himself and his family is like a soldier who is engaging in a holy war.” (2)
Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Husayn quoted on the authority of Fuzayl ibn Yasar that he told Imam Sadiq : “O’ Grandson of the Prophet! I have quit working.” Imam Sadiq said:
لا تَفْعَل ذَلِكَ! افْتَحْ بَابَكَ وَأَبْسِطْ رِزْقَكَ وَاسْتَرْزِقِ اللهَ رَبَّكَ.
“Do not do that! Open your shop’s doors
and seek your sustenance from God—your Lord.”(1)
Ruh ibn Abd al-Rahim quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq regarding the following verse:
رِجَالٌ لَّا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاء الزَّكَاةِ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ
“By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the Remembrance of God, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: Their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:37]
)قَالَ) كَانُوا أصْحابَ تِجارَةٍ فَإذَا حَضَرَتِ الصَّلاةُ تَرَكُوا التِّجَارَةَ وَانْطَلَقُوا إلى الصَّلاةِ وَهُمْ أَعْظَمُ أَجْراً مِمَّنْ لمَ يَتَّجِرْ.
“This verse is about people who did business, but stopped doing business whenever it was time to pray. These people will receive a better reward than those who just worship and do not work.”(2)
There are many such traditions regarding the worth of and the reward for working, but we will suffice with the few mentioned. Our intent is to show that working and worshipping are not contradictory. Rather if work is done to earn a living, it is a great form of worship itself since worshipping is of no value if one does not work. One must have a reasonable financial condition before he can sincerely attend to his worshipping. The Commander of the Faithful said:
مَنْ وَجَدَ مَاءً وَتُراباً ثُمَّ افْتَقَرَ فَأَبْعَدَهُ اللهُ.
“If one has land and water but he is poor, God will deprive him of His Mercy.”(3)
People were talking to the Prophet about a man
who was known for his abstinence, piety and constant fasting and praying. They told the Prophet :
“O Prophet of God! We have never found anyone more pious than him.” The Prophet asked: “How does he then earn a living?” They said: “We run his life.” Then the Prophet said: “Then you are more pious than he is.”(1)
Praying or reciting supplications is a part of worshipping God. It is the means of communication between man and the Lord. There are many hardships that we face which we cannot overcome by ourselves. Sometimes we need to rely on something or someone. The best One to rely on is God. Prayers and supplications are the means to approach God. He says:
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell - in humiliation!" [The Holy Qur’an, al-Mumin 40:60]
We see that God likes us to pray and call on Him. God has promised to answer. This answering is conditional. Prayer is itself a form of worship as we read in the following verse:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُواْ لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُواْ بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and
believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:186]
In the above verse, God has referred to Himself and His servants several times showing the close ties between Him and His servants. Praying is a form of worshipping and expressing one’s humility to God and one’s servitude. All acts of worshipping have educational effects. Praying has some educational effects as well. It has been reported that an Arab went to see the Prophet and asked: “Is God close to us so that we pray to Him, or is He far away from us and we must call Him?” The Prophet was silent, and Gabriel descended and revealed the above verse [Baqarah 2:186] in response.
When man gets spiritual problems and develops complexes, he tries to save himself by resorting to praying. He talks to God, and asks Him for help.
Man inherently forgets God when he is having good times. He forgets that God has given him the blessings that he has. However, whenever he faces calamities and sees himself stuck with many problems, he turns to God. The Almighty God said:
وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنسَانِ أَعْرَضَ وَنَأى بِجَانِبِهِ وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ فَذُو دُعَاء عَرِيضٍ
“When We bestow favors on man, he turns away, and gets himself remote on his side (instead of coming to Us); and when evil seizes him, (he comes) full of prolonged prayer!” [The Holy Qur’an, Ha-Mim 41:51]
There is a tradition from the Prophet Muhammad that says:
الدُّعَاءُ هُوَ العِبَادَةُ.
“Supplication is a form of worship.”(1)
another tradition, Imam Sadiq was asked:
مَا تَقُولُ في رَجُلَينِ دَخَلا المَسْجِدَ جَميعاً كَانَ أَحَدُهُما أكْثَرَ صَلاةً وَالآخَرُ دُعَاءً، أَيُّهُمَا أَفْضَلُ؟ قَالَ: «كُلٌّ حَسَنٌ.» قَالَ: «قَدْ عَلِمْتُ، وَلَكِنْ أَيُّهُمَا أَفْضَلُ؟» قَالَ: «أكْثَرُهُمَا دُعَاءً. أَمَا تَسْمَعُ قَوْلَ اللهِ تَعَالى: "اُدْعُوني أسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ" » وَقَالَ: «هِي العِبادَةُ الكُبرَى. »
“If two people enter a mosque, and one says more prayers and the other one says more supplications which one is better than the other?” The Imam replied: “Both of them are good.” The man said: “I know. But which of the two is better?” Then Imam Sadiq replied: “The one who says more supplications. Have you not heard the statement of Allah, the Exalted: ‘..Call upon me and I will answer you’? (40:60). The Imam said: “It is the greatest worship.”(1)
Islam considers any looking that results in taking heed or acquiring knowledge and recognition for man to be a form of worshipping. Imam Ali said:
النَّظَرُ إلى العَالمِ عِبادَةٌ والنَّظَرُ إلى الإمَامِ المُقْسِطِ عِبَادَةٌ وَالنَّظَرُ إلى الوَالِدَينِ بِرَأفَةٍ وَرَحمَةٍ عِبادَةٌ وَالنَّظَرُ إلى الأخِ يَوَدُّهُ في اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عِبادَةٌ.
“Looking at a scholar or a just leader, and kindly looking at one’s parents are considered to be various forms of worshipping God. Also looking at a brother in faith who is loved for the sake of God is a form of worshipping.”(2)
It is clear that any kind of looking that is done for the sake of God is a form of worshipping, and God will reward it. Therefore, when Imam Sajjad says that it is one
of God’s rights incumbent upon us to worship Him, it implies any of the various forms of worshipping.
Our religion tells us that we must worship God under all circumstances. We should know that God is always present. Various states such as happiness or sadness, poverty or affluence, health or illness should not affect our worshipping of God. Some people only remember God when they are in trouble and need Him.
The Almighty God said:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انقَلَبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ
“There are among men some who serve God, as it were, on the verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Hajj 22:11]
This verse implies that they only say that they worship God, but they do not whole-heartedly believe in God. They have a very weak faith. This implies that they are not in the main stream of faith and Islam, but only on the side. Such people are not firm in their belief and might change if they experience even minor problems. Zurarah quoted on the authority of Imam Baqir : “There are some people who abandoned paganism and worshipped God, but they did not acknowledge the Prophet . Their worshipping sprung from pagan roots since they said: We will acknowledge
him as the Prophet of God if God increases our wealth and children.” (1)
Muhammad ibn Yahya quoted on the authority of Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isa on the authority of two other people on the authority of Imam Baqir on the authority of God’s Prophet :
ألا إنَّ لِكُلِّ عِبادَةٍ شِرَّةً ثُمَّ تَصِيرُ إلى فَتْرَةٍ، فَمَن صَارَتْ شِرَّةُ عِبَادَتِهِ إلى سُنَّتِي فَقَدِ اهْتَدَى، وَمَنْ خَالَفَ سُنَّتِي فَقَدْ ضَلَّ وَكَانَ عَمَلُهُ فِي تَبَابٍ. أمَا إنِّي أُصَلِّي وَأَنامُ وَأصُومُ وَأُفْطِرُ وَأَضْحَكُ وَأَبْكِي. فَمَنْ رَغِبَ عَن مِنْهاجِي وَسُنَّتي فَلَيْسَ مِنيّ.
“Indeed there is an eagerness for every worship, which then turns to lassitude. So one whose eagerness in worship leads to my Sunnah, he is guided, and whoever opposes my Sunnah has gone astray and his deeds perish. Indeed, I pray and I sleep, I fast and I break my fast, I laugh and I cry. So whoever dislikes my path and my Sunnah is not of me.”(2)
He also said:
وقال: كَفَى بِالمَوتِ مَوعِظَةٌ وَكَفى بِاليَقِينِ غِنىً وكَفَى بِالعِبادَةِ شُغلاً.
“Death is the best admonition, certitude is the best wealth, and God's worship is the best occupation.”
Imam Sadiq said:
لِكُلِّ أَحَدٌ شِرَّةٌ وَلِكُلِّ شِرَّةٌ فَتْرَةٌ، فَطُوبَى لِمَن كَانَتْ فَتْرَتُهُ إلى خَيْرٍ.
“Each person has some eagerness. For each instance of eagerness, there is also some sluggishness. How prosperous are those who are inclined towards the good even in their times of sluggishness.”(3)
Hafs ibn Bakhtari quoted Imam Sadiq :
لا تُكْرِهُوا إلى أَنْفُسِكُمُ العِبادَةَ.
“Do not force yourselves to worship God (when you are tired or unwilling to do so).”(4)
We are advised
to take pleasure in worshipping God. This is meant to help us worship God out of our love for Him so that we can benefit from the good effects of worshipping God. We should avoid sluggishness in our acts of worshipping. If we are tired or bored, our worshipping will lose its spiritual context. We should also be moderate in worshipping God. We are instructed by the Prophet to avoid worshipping God when we are tired. Amr ibn Jamia quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq on the authority of God’s Prophet:
يَا عَلِيُّ، إنَّ هَذا الدِّينَ مَتِينٌ فَأَوْغِلْ فِيهِ بِرِفْقٍ وَلا تُبَغِّضْ إلى نَفْسِكَ عِبَادَةَ رَبِّكَ فَإنَّ المُنْبَتَّ – يعني المُفْرِط – لا ظَهراً أبْقَى وَلا أرْضاً قَطَعَ. فَأعْمَلْ عَمَلَ مَنْ يَرْجُو أنْ يَمُوتَ هَرِماً وَاحْذَرْ حَذَرَ مَنْ يَتَخَوَّفُ أنْ يَمُوتَ غَداً.
“O Ali! This religion is strong; therefore enter into it with gentleness. Do not make the worship of your Lord hateful for yourself, for the one who has fatigued his mount and is unable to continue his journey – that is, the one who is excessive - has neither a riding animal nor can he travel.. Therefore act as one who hopes to die in old age, but be cautious with the caution of one who is afraid that he will die tomorrow.”(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
مَرَّ بِي أَبِي وَأنَا بِالطَّوَافِّ وَأنا حَدَثٌ وَقَدِ اجْتَهَدْتُ في العِبَادَةِ فَرَآني وَأنَا أَتَصَبَّبُ عَرَقاً فَقَالَ لي: يَا جَعْفَرُ يا بُنَيَّ! إنَّ اللهَ إذا أَحَبَّ عَبْداً أدْخَلَهُ الجَنَّةَ وَرَضِيَ عَنْهُ بِاليَسِيرِ.
“Once when I was very
young and was circumambulating the Holy House of God my father passed by and looked at me. When he saw that I was making a hard effort and sweating he told me: “O my son Ja’far! Know that when God loves His servant, He will be pleased with even his small amount of worshipping and let him into Heaven.”(1)
Therefore, we should be moderate in worshipping God, as we should be in other affairs.
God is considered the cause of everything in the Islamic world-outlook and in monotheistic philosophical schools of thought. Other causes do not rank equal to Him, but God causes all. This is where materialists differ from monotheists. Materialists place a lot of value on material causes, and consider them independent. However, monotheists consider everything dependent upon God and His will. This is what separates materialists from monotheists. A study of the verses of the Holy Qur’an clearly shows us that there is no power equal to God, and God is the cause of all things.
أَمَّن يَهْدِيكُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَن يُرْسِلُ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ أَإِلَهٌ مَّعَ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى اللَّهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
“Or, Who guides you through the depths of darkness on land and sea, and Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy? (Can there be another) god besides God? - High is God above what they associate with Him!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naml 27:63]
In another verse of the Holy Qur’an we read:
وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا قَنَطُوا وَيَنشُرُ
رَحْمَتَهُ وَهُوَ الْوَلِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
“He is the One that sends down rain (even) after (men) have given up all hope, and scatters His Mercy (far and wide). And He is the Protector, Worthy of all Praise.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Shura 42:28]
Regarding those who have not attained certitude and sincerity in their beliefs, the Holy Qur’an says:
وَإِذَا مَسَّ النَّاسَ ضُرٌّ دَعَوْا رَبَّهُم مُّنِيبِينَ إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ إِذَا أَذَاقَهُم مِّنْهُ رَحْمَةً إِذَا فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُم بِرَبِّهِمْ يُشْرِكُونَ
“When trouble touches men, they cry to their Lord, turning back to Him in repentance: but when He gives them a taste of Mercy as from Himself, behold, some of them pay part-worship to other gods besides their Lord.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Rum 30:33]
Moreover, in another verse we read:
فَإِذَا رَكِبُوا فِي الْفُلْكِ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ
“Now, if they embark on a boat, they call on God, making their devotion sincerely (and exclusively) to Him; but when He has delivered them safely to (dry) land, behold, they give a share (of their worship to others)!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ankabut 29:65]
In addition, we read:
قُلِ اللّهُ يُنَجِّيكُم مِّنْهَا وَمِن كُلِّ كَرْبٍ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تُشْرِكُونَ
Say "It is God that delivereth you from these and all (other) distresses: and yet ye worship false gods!" [The Holy Qur’an, al-An’am 6:64]
Next, we will consider Imam Sajjad’s stress on not associating partners to God. There are various forms of ascribing partners to God, as there are various aspects of belief in the Unity of God.
At the time of the
revelation of the Holy Qur’an, the Christians considered Jesus to be the Lord. The Qur’an rejects this and considers this a blasphemy as we read in the following verse:
لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قالُوا إنَّ اللهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ قُلْ فَمَن يَمْلِكُ مِنَ اللهِ شَياً إنْ أرادَ أن يُهْلِكَ الْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَ اُمُّهُ وَ مَن في الأرضِ جَمِيْعاً و للهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَواتِ وَ الارضِ وَ ما بَيْنَهُما يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشآءُ وَ اللهُ علَى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ
In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against God, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all - every one that is on the earth? For to God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For God hath power over all things." [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:17]
In another verse we read:
لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلاَثَةٍ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَ_هٍ إِلاَّ إِلَ_هٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُواْ عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:73]
In the first verse above it is clearly stated that God could have destroyed Jesus and everyone else if He wished. All Christians
agree that Jesus is the son of Mary . Therefore, Jesus is a man like everyone else. His life and death are controlled by God. Why then do they consider Jesus to be the Lord? In the next verse the fact that Jesus and his mother Mary both needed to eat food in order to stay alive is stressed in order to indicate their being human beings no different from other Prophets.
مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلاَّ رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ كَانَا يَأْكُلاَنِ الطَّعَامَ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ الآيَاتِ ثُمَّ انظُرْ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ
“Christ the son of Mary was no more than an apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:75]
The claim that Jesus is the son of God is one of the forms of ascribing partners to God. This claim will foster trinity instead of the reality of the One and Only God. In the following verse, the Holy Qur’an stresses that what they have stressed to worship is only servants of God who worship God themselves.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ عِبَادٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ فَادْعُوهُمْ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُواْ لَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
“Verily those whom ye call upon besides God are servants like unto you: Call upon them, and let them listen to your prayer, if
ye are (indeed) truthful!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A`raaf 7:194]
We also read the following verses in the Holy Qur’an:
وَالَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ لاَ يَسْتَطِيعُونَ نَصْرَكُمْ وَلا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَنْصُرُونَ وَإِن تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَى لاَ يَسْمَعُواْ وَتَرَاهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ وَهُمْ لاَ يُبْصِرُونَ
"But those ye call upon besides Him, are unable to help you, and indeed to help themselves. If thou callest them to guidance, they hear not. Thou wilt see them looking at thee, but they see not.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A`raaf 7:197-198]
The Qur’an addresses the People of the Book, and stresses the major belief in all religions to be in the Unity of God as we read in the following verse:
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضاً أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَقُولُواْ اشْهَدُواْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ
“Say: "O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to God's Will).” [The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran 3:64]
Therefore, any form of ascribing partners to God is rejected.
The same is stressed regarding the worshipping of God:
قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاء رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
Say: "I am but a man like
yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your God is one God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:110]
Abi al-Jarood quoted on the authority of Imam Baqir :
سئل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله عن تفسير قول الله عز وجل: "فَمَنْ كانَ يَرْجُوا لِقَآءَ رَبِّهِ..". فَقالَ: «مَنْ صَلَّى مُرَاءاةَ النَّاسِ فَهُوَ مُشْرِكٌ. وَمَنْ زَكَّى مُرَاءاةَ النَّاسِ فَهُوَ مُشْرِكٌ. وَمَنْ صَامَ مُرَاءاةَ النَّاسِ فَهُوَ مُشْرِكٌ. وَمَنْ حَجَّ مُرَاءاةَ النَّاسِ فَهُوَ مُشْرِكٌ. وَمَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلاً بِمَا أَمَرَهُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مُرَاءاةَ النَّاسِ فَهُوَ مُشْرِكٌ. وَلا يَقْبَلُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَمَلَ مُراءٍ.»
“The Prophet was asked about the interpretation of the words of Allah, the Exalted: “Whoever expects to meet his Lord…” (18:110) . The Prophet said: Whoever says his prayers in order to show off is ascribing partners to God )because he is establishing the people to be the ones for whom he prays(. Whoever pays the alms tax to show off is ascribing partners to God. The same holds true for whoever fasts or performs the Hajj or performs a divinely ordained deed just to show off. God does not accept the deeds of the hypocrites.”(1)
Jarrah Mada’ini quoted on the authority of Imam Baqir :
الرَّجُلُ يَعْمَلُ شَيْئاً مِنَ الثَّوَابِ لا يَطْلُبُ بِهِ وَجْهَ اللهِ إنمَّا يَطْلُبُ تَزْكِيَةَ النَّاسِ يَشْتَهِي أنْ تُسْمَعَ بهِ النّاسُ فَهَذا الَّذِي أَشْرَكَ بِعِبادَةِ رَبِّهِ. مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ أَسَرَّ خَيراً فَذَهَبَتِ الأَيَّامُ أَبَداً حَتىّ يُظْهِرَ اللهُ لهُ
خَيراً وَمَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ يُسِرُّ شَرّاً فَذَهَبَتِ الأَيَّامُ أَبَداً حَتىّ يُظْهِرَ اللهُ لهُ شَرّاً.
“If one does a good deed with the intention of showing off, and not to please God, and likes the people to admire him, then he is ascribing partners to God in his acts of worshipping. No one’s secret good deeds will be hidden forever. God will make them known one day. No one’s secret evil deeds will be hidden forever. God will make them known one day.”(1)
The act of associating partners to God is described as follows in the Holy Qur’an:
حُنَفَاء لِلَّهِ غَيْرَ مُشْرِكِينَ بِهِ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَكَأَنَّمَا خَرَّ مِنَ السَّمَاء فَتَخْطَفُهُ الطَّيْرُ أَوْ تَهْوِي بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي مَكَانٍ سَحِيقٍ
“Being true in faith to God, and never assigning partners to Him: if anyone assigns partners to God, he is as if he had fallen from Heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far-distant place.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Hajj 22:31]
The various instances of similitude used in this verse are understood to mean that the belief in Unity is like the heavens. Once we abandon this belief, we collapse into corruption, lust, selfish desires, etc. Each of these can destroy a part of our well-being and existence. The result will be our collapse into total destruction and disintegration. The wind is the similitude used for Satan.
We know that a free-falling object experiences a feeling of being weightless. This is similar
to the anxiety we experience when we are collapsing into corruption. Once we abandon our faith in Unity and turn towards ascribing partners to God, then our soul and body will experience such anxiety.(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
إنَّ بَني أُمَيَّةَ أطلَقُوا لِلنَّاسِ تَعْليمَ الإيمَانِ وَلمَ يُطلِقُوا تَعْلِيمَ الشِّرْكِ لِكَيْ إذا حَمَلُوهُم عَلَيهِ لمَ يَعْرِفُوه.
“The Umayyad clan let the people learn faith freely, but they did not let them recognize blasphemy. That was done so that when the Umayyads would invite them to acts of blasphemy, the people would not realize what they were doing and follow their call. Then they would not realize that they have been unwillingly pushed towards ascribing partners to God.”(2)
The people of the Umayyad clan were very eager to have the people follow them without any hesitation. They did so in order not to let the people recognize that they are being misguided. Should the people realize what is going on, they will no longer follow them. In general, all ungodly rulers try to hinder the people from acquiring true knowledge so that the people would obey them. That is why Islam encourages all the people to study and learn, and the acts of teaching and learning have been introduced to be the best deeds.
Mus’adah ibn Sadaqah quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq when asked about the Prophet’s statement:
إنَّ الشِّرْكَ أَخْفى مِنْ دَبِيبِ النَّمْلِ عَلى صَفَاةٍ سَوْدَاءَ في لَيْلَةٍ ظَلْماءَ
“Blasphemy is more invisible than an ant walking on a black stone in a dark night.”
Imam Sadiq said:
المُؤمِنُونَ يَسُبّونَ مَا يَعْبُدُ المُشْرِكونَ مِن دُونِ اللهِ فَكانَ المُشرِكُونَ يَسُبُّونَ مَا يَعْبُدُ المُؤمِنُونَ، فَنَهى اللهُ المُؤمِنِينَ عَن سَبِّ آلِهَتِهِم لِكَيْلا يَسُبَّ الكُفّارُ إلَهَ المُؤمِنِينَ فَيَكونَ المُؤمِنُونَ قَد أَشْرَكُوا بِاللهِ مِنْ حَيْثُ لا يَعْلَمُونَ. فقَالَ اللهُ تَعالى:
وَلاَ تَسُبُّواْ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ فَيَسُبُّواْ اللّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ كَذَلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِم مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ
“The believers used to revile the idols of the idolaters, as the idolaters reviled the Worshipped One of the believers. Then God admonished the believers not to do so since this in a way was a form of ascribing partners to God. God the Almighty said:
“Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-An’am, 6:108]
Therefore, we should seek refuge in God, and ask God to help us and grant us success in worshipping Him.
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ نَفْسِكَ عَلَيْكَ فَأَنْ تَسْتَوْفِيَهَا فِي طَاعَةِ اللهِ فَتُؤَدّي إلَى لِسَانِكَ حَقَّهُ وَإلَى سَمْعِك حَقَّهُ وَإلَى بَصَرِكَ حَقّهُ وَإلَى يَدِكَ حَقَّهَا وَإلَى رِجْلِك حَقَّهَا وَإلَى بَطْنِكَ حَقَّهُ وَإلَى فَرْجِكَ حَقَّهُ وَتَسْتَعِينَ باللهِ عَلَى ذَلِك.
And the right of yourself incumbent upon you is that you employ it in obeying God; then you deliver to your tongue its right, to your hearing its right, to your sight
its right, to your hand its right, to your leg its right, to your stomach its right, to your private part its right, and you seek help from God in all that.
Therefore, we must respect the rights of our body parts that God has given us in order to honor ourselves. We should seek God’s help in doing so.
Some researchers consider the self to imply our souls. We read:
أَخْرِجُواْ أَنفُسَكُمُ الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ عَذَابَ الْهُونِ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللّهِ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَكُنتُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِهِ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
“…Yield up your souls: this day shall ye receive your reward, - a penalty of shame, for that ye used to tell lies against God, and scornfully to reject of His signs!"” [The Holy Qur’an, al-An’am 6:93]
Others consider it to mean our inner thoughts, or our hearts as in:
وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ
“…And know that God Knoweth what is in your hearts, and take heed of Him; and know that God is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:235]
We can also see this meaning in the following verse:
تَعْلَمُ ما في نَفْسي وَ لا أعْلَمُ ما في نَفْسِكَ إنَّكَ أنْتَ عَلّامُ الْغُيُوبِ.
“…Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Thine, for Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:116]
In other places self is used in its natural context as in the following verse:
وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَإِلَى اللّهِ الْمَصِيرُ
“…But God cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final
goal is to God.” [The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran 3:28]
In other places, self is used to refer to our physical body, which needs food, water and air to survive. Once these are cut off from the self, it will perish. Sheikh Tabarsi has commented that there are three meanings for the self: the spirit, one’s nature, and sometimes used to show that we are placing a stress on something. An example of the use of self to imply spirit is found in the following verse:
يُخَادِعُونَ اللّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلاَّ أَنفُسَهُم وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ
“Fain would they deceive God and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realize (it) not!” [The Holy Qur’an al-Baqarah 2:9]
As Sheikh Tabarsi said the Arabic word ‘nafs’ meaning ‘self’ is used to mean the spirit or the soul as we can read in the following verse:
اللَّهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِي لَمْ تَمُتْ فِي مَنَامِهَا فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَى عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْأُخْرَى إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“It is God that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Zumar 39:42]
Another example where self is used to mean the soul is found in the following verse:
وَاتَّقُواْ يَوْماً لاَّ تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ
شَيْئاً وَلاَ يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلاَ يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلاَ هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ
“Then guard yourselves against a day when one soul shall not avail another nor shall intercession be accepted for her, nor shall compensation be taken from her, nor shall anyone be helped (from outside).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:48]
In another place, it is used to imply our soul or heart as in the following verses:
وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعاً وَخِيفَةً وَدُونَ الْجَهْرِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالآصَالِ وَلاَ تَكُن مِّنَ الْغَافِلِينَ
“And do thou (O reader!) Bring thy Lord to remembrance in thy (very) soul, with humility and in reverence, without loudness in words, in the mornings and evenings; and be not thou of those who are unheedful.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A’raf 7:205]
قَالُواْ إِن يَسْرِقْ فَقَدْ سَرَقَ أَخٌ لَّهُ مِن قَبْلُ فَأَسَرَّهَا يُوسُفُ فِي نَفْسِهِ وَلَمْ يُبْدِهَا لَهُمْ قَالَ أَنتُمْ شَرٌّ مَّكَانًا وَاللّهُ أَعْلَمْ بِمَا تَصِفُونَ
They said: "If he steals, there was a brother of his who did steal before (him)." But these things did Joseph keep locked in his heart, revealing not the secrets to them. He (simply) said (to himself): "Ye are the worse situated; and God knoweth best the truth of what ye assert!" [The Holy Qur’an, Yusuf 12:77]
رَّبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي نُفُوسِكُمْ إِن تَكُونُواْ صَالِحِينَ فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ لِلأَوَّابِينَ غَفُورًا
“Your Lord knoweth best what is in your hearts: If ye do deeds of righteousness, verily He is Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again (in true penitence).” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israil 17:25]
Shirazi quoted al-Sheikh ul-Raees Abu Ali Sina from Shafa: “There are three divisions for the self. At first we have the plant self, that is the first degree of perfection for an organic natural being having the ability to feed and grow. The second division is the animal self, that is the first perfection of an organic natural being which only has the ability to feel and move combined with will. The third is the human self which is the perfection of an organic natural being with the ability to think, understand and draw conclusions. Then the various properties and characteristics of these divisions are presented.”(1)
In the twenty-second chapter of Risalat Fosoos al-Hikam, Abu Nasr Farabi known as “the second teacher” said the following regarding the self: “Indeed the perfection of the self is in the recognition of God’s first right incumbent upon oneself. This will result in a state of self-confidence.”
Mr. Elahi Ghomsheyee made the following comments on this: “There are many aspects of the speaking self. It is called the lascivious self because it is highly inclined to animal lustful desires. As lust overtakes it, the self considers obscene acts to be beautiful ones. Thus, it is called the adorning self. As it uses trickery to do his animalistic acts, and is deceitful: it is called the deceitful self. As it returns to his own nature and blames himself whenever he commits a wicked act, it is called the reproachful self.
As whenever it is freed from his eagerness
for animalistic lustful desires it benefits from mental pleasures it is called the confident self. Whenever it totally submits to the will and pleasure of his true lover being God and destroys his own will and pleasure, then it is called the pleased self. For a confident self, the only form of pleasure and perfection is derived from the recognition of God’s first right, that is to purify the soul from the filthiness of the body.”(1) We shall discuss these aspects of the self as viewed in the Qur’an.
The lascivious self is that which orders us to fulfill its lustful desires. This is man’s biggest enemy. The greatest religious men have always sought God’s help to fight themselves. We read the following in the Holy Qur’an:
وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلاَّ مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّيَ إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
"Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." [The Holy Qur’an, Yusuf 12:53]
In another verse of the Holy Qur’an we read:
وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَى
فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَى
“And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord's (tribunal) and had restrained (their) soul from lower desires, their abode will be the Garden” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nazi`at 79:40-41]
What is meant in this verse is that man should restrain himself and fight his carnal desires. The Commander of the Faithful said:
بِسُوءِ الأَدَبِ وَالعَبْدُ مَأمُورٌ بِمُلازَمَةِ حُسْنِ الأدَبِ وَالنَّفْسُ تجْرِي بِطَبْعِها في مَيدانِ المُخَالَفَةِ وَالعَبْدُ يُجْهِدُها بِرَدِّها عَن سُوءِ المُطالَبَةِ، فَمَتى أطْلَقَ عِنَانهَا فَهوَ شَرِيكٌ في فَسادِها، وَمَنْ أعَانَ نَفْسَهُ في هَوى نَفْسِهِ فقَدْ أشْرَكَ نَفْسَهُ في قَتْلِ نَفْسِه.
“The soul is inclined towards evil deeds, and a servant has the responsibility of directing it towards good deeds. The soul tries to resist, but the servant tries to control the bad desires of the soul. Whenever a servant lets his soul free to do as it wishes, he is a partner in the corruption and the crimes committed by the soul. Whoever aids his own soul to fulfill his carnal desires has indeed taken part in killing himself.”(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
أَقْصِرْ نَفسَكَ عَمّا يضُرُّها مِن قبلِ أنْ تُفارِقَكَ وَاسْعَ في فَكاكِها كَما تَسْعى في طَلبِ مَعيشَتِكَ فإنَّ نَفْسَكَ رِهينٌ بِعَمَلكَ.
“Hinder your soul from bringing you harm and prevent losses before you depart from it. Try to free it from its illegitimate desires as hard as you try to earn a living, since the soul is subject to your deeds.”(2)
Imam Ali said:
أَفْضَلُ الجِهادِ مجَاهَدَةُ المَرْءِ نَفْسَهُ.
“The most excellent holy war is one’s fighting against his own selfish desires.”(3)
The Noble Prophet said:
إنَّ الشَّديدَ لَيسَ مَنْ غَلَبَ النّاسَ، وَلكنَّ الشَّديدَ مَن غَلبَ عَلى نَفْسِه.
“A strong man is not one who overcomes the people. Rather a strong man is one who can overcome his self.”(4)
Imam Ali said:
خالِف نَفْسَكَ تَسْتَقِمْ وَخالِطِ العُلَماءَ تَعْلَمْ.
“Fight yourself to avoid any deviations and live an upright life. Associate with the people who
possess knowledge so that you can learn and get freed from ignorance.”(1)
He also said:
مَنْ قَوِيَ عَلى نَفْسِهِ تَناهَى في القُوَّةِ.
“Whoever overcomes himself has attained the highest ranks of power.”(2)
Once when the Prophet was passing by a group of people, he saw a man who was lifting a heavy rock. The people were amazed at his strength and admired him. When they told the Prophet about him, and his might, the Prophet asked:
أَفَلا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِمَا هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنهُ؟ رَجُلٌ سَبَّهُ رَجُلٌ فَحَلِمَ عَنهُ فَغَلَبَ نَفْسَهُ وَغَلَبَ شَيطَانَهُ وَشَيْطانَ صَاحِبهِ.
“Do you want me to tell you about someone who is stronger than him? Whoever is insulted by others but restrains himself, controls his anger and overcomes the devil within himself and the devil inside the one who insulted him, is stronger than this man who is lifting heavy rocks.”(3)
So far, we have discussed the verses and traditions regarding the lascivious self that continuously drives us towards doing evil deeds. The other aspect of our soul that constantly blames us for our bad deeds is called the reproachful self. The Holy Qur’an calls this aspect of our soul as witness in the following verse:
لَا أُقْسِمُ بِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ
وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ
“I do call to witness the Resurrection Day; and I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit: (Eschew Evil).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qiyamah 75:1-2]
The Imam has been quoted by Ali ibn Ibrahim to have said that what is meant by the “self-reproaching spirit” is man’s self which disobeys and then blames itself.
When someone commits
a sin, he is blamed by himself and the call of conscience tortures him. The psychologists have called this reproaching force within us as our moral conscience, and the Qur’an has called it the reproachful self. This implies that this reproaching force is our human spirit that is a part of us, and has always existed in mankind.
Once when Imam Sajjad was circumambulating the Holy House of God, he noticed that some people had gathered somewhere in the mosque. He asked what had happened, and he was told that a man called Muhammad ibn Shihab al-Zuhri had suffered from a psychological illness and seemed to have lost his mind. He did not speak at all, and his family had brought him to Mecca hoping that he might talk to the people he saw there.
When Imam Sajjad finished performing the circumambulation ceremonies, he went to see that man. The man recognized Imam Sajjad when he saw him. When Imam Sajjad asked what was wrong with him, he said: “I have become this way because I killed an innocent man when I was a governor. Such a murder of an innocent man has devastated a governor, and the blaming of his reproaching self has caused him psychological ailment; and the shame of committing a sin has shut up his mouth. Now he is like an insane man.”
Imam Sajjad who felt that he had really lost hope in being forgiven by God said: “I am more worried about the sin of your losing
hope in God’s Mercy than that of killing an innocent man. Pay the full compensation for his blood money to his family members.” The man said: “I tried, but they did not accept it.” Then Imam Sajjad said: “Watch their house and see when they leave it to attend the prayers. Then drop the bags full of their blood money into their house.”(1) By recognizing the influence of the reproachful self or the moral conscience, Imam Sajjad treated that man’s psychological problem.
One of the aspects of the human soul is that it attempts to present wicked deeds as nice ones by somehow adorning them and making them look good to us, thereby encouraging us to perform them. There are two cases cited from the Holy Qur’an below.
When Jacob’s children took their brother Joseph away from their father and dropped him in a well and left him there, their self-adorned their deeds and fooled them:
وَجَآؤُوا عَلَى قَمِيصِهِ بِدَمٍ كَذِبٍ قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ وَاللّهُ الْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَى مَا تَصِفُونَ
“They stained his shirt with false blood. He said: "Nay, but your minds have made up a tale (that may pass) with you, (for me) patience is most fitting: Against that which ye assert, it is God (alone) Whose help can be sought"...” [The Holy Qur’an, Yusuf 12:18]
Their father recognized their evil deed. He warned them that it was their minds that had made up a tale. This implies that when selfish desires overwhelm and we let them overcome our
mind and spirit, then even the most horrible crimes such as killing or abandoning one’s brother might be so adorned in our mind that we consider them holy and obligatory deeds. This guides us towards the recognition of a psychological principle.
Once excessive tendencies towards a certain issue are coupled with moral wickedness, they will dull our senses and make things look different than they really are in our mind. Therefore, proper recognition of facts and realities, and correct judgment is impossible without self-purification. In this verse, we see how the adorning self-caused Joseph’s brothers to throw him into a well abandoning him there, and fake a story to fool their father into believing their tale. On another occasion, they returned from Egypt and brought their father the news of their brother’s act of stealing. But their father did not believe them and said:
قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ عَسَى اللّهُ أَن يَأْتِيَنِي بِهِمْ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
Jacob said: "Nay, but ye have yourselves contrived a story (good enough) for you. So patience is most fitting (for me). Maybe God will bring them (back) all to me (in the end). For He is indeed full of knowledge and wisdom." [The Holy Qur’an, Yusuf 12:83]
We read in the Holy Qur’an that when Moses was about to go to Mount Tur (Mount Tabor) to receive the Ten Commandments, he told the people that it would take him thirty days. However, his trip was extended to forty days by God. Samiri
fooled the children of Israel during the last ten days and made them worship the calf. When Moses returned and encountered that situation, at first he blamed his brother Aaron. However, once he realized that Aaron was not at fault, and it was Samiri’s fault, he blamed Samiri.
قَالَ فَمَا خَطْبُكَ يَا سَامِرِيُّ
قَالَ بَصُرْتُ بِمَا لَمْ يَبْصُرُوا بِهِ فَقَبَضْتُ قَبْضَةً مِّنْ أَثَرِ الرَّسُولِ فَنَبَذْتُهَا وَكَذَلِكَ سَوَّلَتْ لِي نَفْسِي
“(Moses) said: "What then is thy case, O’ Samiri?" He replied: "I saw what they saw not: so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Apostle, and threw it (into the calf): thus did my soul suggest to me."” [The Holy Qur’an, Ta-Ha 20:95-96]
Samiri was a corrupt selfish man. He was able to use his ingenuity, courage and dexterity to deploy the weakness of the children of Israel to make a great sedition. Thus, they ignored all of the previous teachings of Moses and started to worship a calf. In this situation, Samiri claimed that his evil deeds were rooted in his adorning soul by saying: “Thus did my soul suggest to me.”
There is a tradition in Ihtijaj by Tabarsi that states: “When the Commander of the Faithful conquered Basra, the people gathered around him. Among the people, Hasan al-Basri was writing down what Imam Ali had said. Imam Ali asked him what he was doing. He said: “I am recording your words to be saved for the future.” Then the Commander of the Faithful said:
أَما إنَّ لِكُلِّ قَومٍ سامِرِيّاً
وَهَذا سَامِرِيُّ هذِهِ الأُمَّةِ، إنَّهُ لا يَقُولُ: لا مِساسَ، وَلكِنَّهُ يَقُولُ: لا قِتالَ
“O people! Beware that there is a Samiri for each nation. Know that Hasan Bassri is the Samiri for this nation. The only difference is that Samiri did not let anyone approach him, but this man tells the people that we should not fight, even with the corrupt people.”(1)
The Imam was referring to Hasan al-Basri’s anti-war propaganda regarding the Battle of Jamal.
Confidence is one of the highest ranks for the self. We read in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ
ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً
فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي
(To the righteous soul will be said:) "O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and come back thou to thy Lord, - well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Satisfaction! Enter thou, then, among My devotees! Yea, enter thou My Heaven!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Fajr 89:27-30]
How wonderful is God’s invitation to the righteous whose faith has helped them attain confidence, complete rest and satisfaction to return to him: an invitation to a return combined with the pleasure of both sides. Then he will be crowned with servitude; will be dressed in the garment of servitude; will attain the position of especial ones, and shall enter Heaven.
This refers to a form of peace and tranquility after turmoil and attaining the utmost degree of certitude, recognition, and witnessing of God. Kashefi interprets this as: “O’ the self that is confident by remembering Me when granted blessings, and by patience and
perseverance during times of hardship. Thus now that you are pleased with the blessings that I have granted you, return to what I have promised.”
The peace with which the confident self-departs from this material world and joins eternity is the most beautiful demonstration of the nobility of the confident self. Sudayr Seyrafi quoted the following on the authority of Imam Sadiq regarding this state: “I asked Imam Sadiq : O’ grandson of the Prophet! May I be your ransom! Does a believer feel bad about his spirit being taken out of his body at the time of death? Imam Sadiq replied:
لا وَاللهِ! إنَّهُ إذا جَاءَهُ مَلَكُ المَوتِ لِيَقْبِضَ رُوحَهُ جَزعَ عِندَ ذلِكَ، فَيَقولُ ملَكُ المَوتِ: «لا تجْزَعْ! فَوالَّذي بَعَثَ محَمَّداً لأنَا أَبَرُّ بِكَ وَأَشْفَقُ عَليكَ مِن والِدٍ رَحِيمٍ لَو حَضَرَكَ، إفتَحْ عَينَيْكَ فانْظُر.» (قال) ويُمَثَّلُ له رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيه وآلهِ وَأمِيرُ المُؤمِنينَ وفَاطِمَةُ والحَسَنُ والحُسَينُ والأئِمَّةُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِهِمْ عليهِمُ السلامُ فَيُقالُ لهُ: «هذَا رَسُولُ اللهِ وأمِيرُ المُؤمِنِينَ وفَاطِمَةُ وَالحَسَنُ والحُسَينُ والأئِمَّةُ عليهِمُ السّلامُ رُفَقَاؤكَ.» (قال) فيَفْتَحُ عَينَيهِ فَيَنْظُرُ فَيُنادِي رُوحَهُ مُنادٍ مِن قِبَلِ رَبِّ العِزَّةِ فَيَقولُ: «يَا أَيَّتُها النَّفْسُ المُطْمَئِنَّةُ إلى محَمَّدٍ وأَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ ارْجِعِي إلى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً بِالوِلايَةِ مَرْضِيَّةً بِالثَّوابِ فَادْخُلِي في عِبادِي؛ يَعني محَمَّداً وَأهْلَ بَيتِهِ، وَادخُلِي جَنَّتي.» فَما مِن شَيءٍ أحَبُّ إليَه مِنِ اسْتِلالِ رُوحِهِ واللُّحُوقِ بِالمُنادي.
‘No. I swear by God! When the angel of death comes he becomes anxious and distressed. However, the angel tells him: “Do not be distressed! I swear by God who appointed the Prophet that I am even kinder to
you than a merciful father - if he was present here. Open your eyes and look.” Then the Prophet , Imam Ali , the Blessed Fatima , al-Hasan, al-Husayn, and the Imams are represented to him.
It is said to him: This is the Prophet and Imam Ali, the Blessed Fatima, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and the Imams , your friends.’ He opens his eyes and sees, and the caller calls out to his soul from the Glorious Lord, saying: “O Confident self who has attained peace via Muhammad and his household. Return to your Lord pleased with the friendship of Imam Ali and the reward of your Lord. Join My servants Muhammad and his household, and enter My Heaven.” Nothing will be more desirable for him than the drawing out of his soul and joining the Caller!’(1)
One must first recognize and abandon all his selfish desires before he can attain human perfection. This has been quoted by Majashe on the authority of the Noble Prophet of Islam who was the first perfect man ever. It is recorded in Ghawali al-La`ali that a man called Majashe went to see the Prophet , asked him the following questions, and got the following replies:
Question: “O’ Prophet of God! What is the way of recognition of God?”
Answer: “Recognition of the self.”
Question: “What is the way to agree with God?”
Answer: “To disagree with the self.”
Question: “What is the way to please God?”
Answer: “To raise the wrath of the self.”
Question: “What is the way to approach God?”
“To abandon the desires of the self.”
Question: “What is the way to obey God?”
Answer: “To disobey the wants of the self.”
Question: “What is the way to remember God?”
Answer: “To fight the self.”
Question: “What is the way to get closer to God?”
Answer: “To stay away from the self.”
Question: “What is the way to get accustomed to God?”
Answer: “To fear the self”
Question: “What is the way to attain all this?”
Answer: “Seeking God’s help against one’s self.”(1)
If one practices what the Prophet has instructed us to do in this tradition, then he can attain true mysticism. Man can only attain inner peace and illumination if he abandons wicked traits and adorns himself with perfection. He should first abandon all his wickedness, and then he should adorn himself with perfections. Finally, man should polish the beauties of his self, refine them, and make them transparent.
Finally, we will discuss the jurisprudents’ view on the rights of the self. One of the highly valuable aspects of the human self is his life. Nothing can be equated with it. The Holy Qur’an says the following regarding the value of man’s life:
مِنْ أجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنا عَلى بَنِي إسْرَائيلَ أنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفساً بِغَيرِ نَفْسٍ أوْ فَسادٍ في الأرْضِ فَكَأنَّما قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً وَ مَن أحْياها فَكَأنَّما أحْيا النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً
“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole
people: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people….” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ma’ida 5:32]
The Holy Qur’an determines a very bad punishment for killing a believer. This is considered to be the worst crime:
وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَآؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا
“If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (for ever): And the wrath and the curse of God are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:93]
The Holy Qur’an also says:
وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللّهُ إِلاَّ بِالحَقِّ وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلاَ يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنْصُورًا
“Nor take life - which God has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas(1) or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law).” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israil 17:33]
The law of equality that is meant for punishing those who kill others is presented by the Qur’an:
وَلَكُمْ فِي الْقِصَاصِ حَيَاةٌ يَاْ أُولِيْ الأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) life to you, O ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:179]
We can classify killing into three groups: intentional, pseudo-intentional, and unintentional. The remaining kin of the person killed have the option
to kill or accept the financial compensation(1) in case of intentional killing, or forgive altogether.
In a pseudo-intentional killing in which no weapon like a gun, or a knife is used, and there has been no intention to kill, but to deliver a blow to the other, the remaining kin of the murdered person can only receive the financial compensation. In the case of unintentional killing, there is only the possibility of financial compensation.(2)
The Qur’an views the Law of Equality as a means of saving lives in the society, while still leaving room for financial compensation or forgiving. According to the jurisprudents’ views, the financial compensation or the blood-money for the life of a free person is either one of the following:
1 One hundred camels that have attained six years of age
2 Two hundred cows
3 One thousand sheep
4 Two hundred silk dresses
5 One thousand ‘Mithqal-e-Shar’i'(3) of gold
6 Ten thousand Dirhams.(4)
We should also note that the compensation for the blood money for women is half of that for men.
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ اللّسَان فَإكْرَامُهُ عَنِ الْخَنَى وتَعْوِيدُهُ عَلَى الْخَيْرِ وَحَمْلُهُ عَلَى الأَدَب وَإجْمَامُهُ إلاّ لِمَوْضِعِ الْحَاجَةِ وَالْمَنْفَعَةِ لِلدِّينِ وَالدُّنْيَا وَإعْفَاؤُهُ عَنِ الْفُضُول اُلشَّنِعَةِ الْقَلِيلَةِ الْفَائِدَةِ الَّتِي لا يُؤْمَنُ ضَرَرُهَا مَعَ قِلَّةِ عَائِدَتِهَا. وَيُعَدُّ شَاهِدَ الْعَقْلِ وَالدَّلِيلَ عَلَيْه وَتَزَيُّنُ الْعَاقِلَ بعَقْلِهِ حُسْنُ سِيرَتِهِ فِي لِسَانِهِ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ الْعَلِيِّ الْعَظِيمِ.
And the right of the tongue is that you consider it too noble for obscenity, accustom it to good, direct it to politeness,(5) do not use it except in situations of needs
and benefits of the religion and this world, and refrain from any meddling in which there is little to be gained; and there is no security from its harm that accompanies its small benefits. It(1) is the witness to and the evidence of the existence of the intellect. The demonstration of an intelligent person’s intellect is through his reputation of good speech.(2) And there is no power but in God the High, the Great.
In the previous chapter, Imam Sajjad instructed us to use all our faculties, i.e. ourselves to obey God, and respect the rights of our body parts which are the means by which we act. In this chapter we will start the discussion of the rights of our body parts by first discussing the rights of the tongue.
Undoubtedly, the tongue and the ability to speak are the greatest blessings that God has bestowed on man in His Creation. This has been explicitly stated in the following verse:
خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ عَلَّمَهُ الْبَيَانَ
“He has created man: He has taught him speech (and intelligence).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Rahman 55:3-4]
Speech has been described as meaning “uncovering” an object in Arabic. Our tongue expresses our inner thoughts and feelings. Our speech uncovers our inner thoughts and expresses what we think. If it was not for our ability to speak, we would be quiet just like animals and there would be no more discussion, explaining and understanding among men.
The Almighty God stated in the Holy Qur’an:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ إِنَّ فِي
ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ
“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Rum 30:22]
This clearly expresses that the existence of various colors, races, and languages among mankind is one of the signs of God.
There are various ways to get to know each person. One of these ways is through speech. Each person introduces his own personality when he talks. Our speaking clearly expresses our inner purity or wickedness. One can tell whether you are a good man or a corrupt one. Imam Baqir said:
المَرْءُ مخْبُوءٌ تَحْتَ لِسَانِهِ.
“A man is hidden under his tongue.”(1)
The tongue will unveil the curtain and display our real character.
Imam Ali said the following about the tongue:
جِرْمُهُ صَغيرٌ وَجُرمُهُ ثَقِيلٌ
“Its mass is small, but its sin is great.”
This wise saying clearly states how our little tongue can be used to create great sins. Each of the body parts that God has given us has a specific characteristic and purpose. Some have certain limitations, too. For instance, the eye can only see certain colors. The ears can only hear sounds. The hands can only feel through touching. However, the tongue has a wide range of application extending from wickedness and corruption to goodness and prosperity. If used in a good sense it can lead to human prosperity and if used in an evil way, it can be the biggest means by which Satan can
There are various ways to achieve social improvement or corruption. Speaking is one of the most effective means in this respect. A fluent speaker can direct the human society towards noble characteristics and human values. Likewise, he can lead the society towards moral and spiritual decay and corruption. He can easily agitate the still nation and excite them to move and change their lives, or direct the aroused feelings of a society towards calmness and pacification.
For example, when Imam Ali was martyred the news was spread throughout the Muslim community. When the news of his martyrdom in the prayer niche reached Sham, all the people there were surprised. They were so influenced by the speeches delivered against Imam Ali by the men hired by Mu`awiyah that they asked themselves, “Did Ali pray?” The extent of the influence of the tongue is so much that as you can see the most pious man who lived his whole lifetime to establish the prayer, is presented as being one who does not pray in the minds of the people of Sham.
When Mu`awiyah sent Busr ibn Arta`ah to the Hamdan Tribe to rule, Busr ibn Arta`ah exercised so much oppression and committed so many crimes that no one dared to object. At this time, a brave lady called Sawdah went to Sham (Syria) to defend the sacred religion and the people. When Mu`awiyah was informed of her arrival he was surprised. He said that he had been trying to arrest her with no
result. Now she had gone there on her own.
He admitted her to the court. When she entered, she bitterly greeted Mu`awiyah. Mu`awiyah said: “See! You had to come and greet me.” She replied: “Do not be proud of your rule. There is a term for everything. It will soon end. Do not be so attached to your position since it will not last.”
Mu`awiyah said: “O’ Sawdah! Do you remember the days of war when you sang heroic poetry among the soldiers of Ali? What was your goal then? Was it not my destruction? Sing them now.” Sawdah said: “Your oppression has made me forget everything. Now I have come to complain against the oppression of Busr ibn Arta`ah. He has oppressed us. He has confiscated the people’s property, and has murdered the men.” Mu`awiyah said: “Now I will send you to him to treat you as he pleases.”
Then Sawdah said: “May God bless the pure body that is buried, with whom justice was buried too.” Mu`awiyah said: “Whom are you referring to?” She replied: “I am referring to my Master, Imam Ali . You should know that I had a similar complaint that I expressed to Imam Ali before. He was alone, and wanted to start his prayer. When he noticed me, he asked the reason.
When I told him that I had come to complain against his governor, he touched his beard and his eyes overflowed with tears and he said: “O’ God! Be a witness that I did
not send my governor to oppress your servants.” He then wrote the order to fire the governor and handed it to me. Now you threaten me instead of considering my complaint. This is the difference between Imam Ali and you.” Mu`awiyah got upset and wrote a letter to Busr ibn Arta`ah to stop his crimes and acts of oppression.
Thus, we can see that the tongue can be used as an effective tool. It is so effective that it can even be used to change the views of a cruel man such as Mu`awiyah. Then Mu`awiyah said: “It was Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib who made you too proud by saying: If I were the gatekeeper of Heaven I will tell the Bani Hamdan tribe to safely enter Heaven.”(1)
Now we shall cite another example. There were many letters exchanged between Imam Ali and Mu`awiyah. Among them, there is one that Imam Ali wrote and handed to an eloquent man called al-Tirimmaĥ to deliver to Mu`awiyah. Al-Tirimmaĥ traveled to Sham. After meeting `Amr ibn al-`Aas and Yazeed, he visited Mu`awiyah. He was so eloquent in speech that he was able to influence them all. Mu`awiyah decided to use al-Tirimmaĥ’s eloquence for his own purposes.
Thus he said: “O’ Arab! Will you accept what I donate to you?” He replied: “Why not? Why should I not accept your gifts while I wish to take away your life?” Mu`awiyah ordered that he be paid ten thousand Dirhams and said: “If it is not enough please
say so. I will order more to be paid to you.” Al-Tirimmaĥ said: “Order them to give me more money. You are not paying out of your own father’s pocket anyway. Order them to give me another ten thousand Dirhams.” Then Mu`awiyah ordered that he be paid another ten thousand Dirhams. Then al-Tirimmaĥ said: “Order them to give another ten thousand Dirhams to make it thirty thousand Dirhams since there is only one God.”
After a while when al-Tirimmaĥ did not receive the additional ten thousand Dirhams he had asked for, he said: “Are you making a fool out of me? It seems like words were just a breeze from over a hill.” Then Mu`awiyah ordered that he be paid the money. `Amr ibn al-`Aas asked al-Tirimmaĥ: “How did you find the benevolence of the Commander of the Faithful.”(1)
Al-Tirimmaĥ said: “This is the property of the Muslims. One of God’s servants has obtained it from God’s treasures. What is his role in this?” Then Mu`awiyah said: “This made the world seem dark to me.” Then he called in his secretary and dictated a boastful letter in reply to Imam Ali’s letter. Al-Tirimmaĥ said: “O’ Mu`awiyah! Are you threatening a duck with water? I swear by God that Imam Ali has a big rooster that can store all your soldiers in its gullet.” Mu`awiyah said: “He is right. That is Malik al-Ashtar.”
When al-Tirimmaĥ left, Mu`awiyah said: “If I give you all that I possess, you will not even give me one tenth
the services that this Bedouin gives Ali.” `Amr ibn al-`Aas said: “If you had the same position that Ali has relative to the Prophet, we would have been much more loyal to you.” Mu`awiyah said: “May God break your teeth. By God your words were harsher to me than his words.”(1)
Imam Sajjad advised us to get used to using our tongue in a good way. When used in this way, it becomes so strong that it can even defeat an enemy like Mu`awiyah, and make life bitter for him.
There is a certain stress placed on silence in some traditions. This stress is such that we can prefer silence to speaking. What is the philosophy behind this silence? When is it recommended?
As said, the tongue reflects what is in the heart. It expresses one’s inner feelings and thoughts. It portrays one’s character and personality. There are also possible harms due to its use. Imam Ali said:
اللِّسَانُ سَبُعٌ إنْ خُلِّيَ عَقَرَ.
“The tongue is a beast that will cause an injury when unleashed.” (2)
He also said:
إعجَبُوا لهَذا الإنسَانِ يَنْظُرُ بِشَحْمٍ وَيَتَكَلَّمُ بِلحْمٍ وَيَسْمَعُ بِعَظْمٍ وَيَتَنَفَّسُ مِن خَرْمٍ
“Be amazed at man who sees using a piece of fat, talks using a piece of meat, hears using a piece of bone, and breathes through a hole.”(3)
Sahl al-Sa’edi quoted on the authority of the Noble Prophet that:
مَنْ يَتَكَفَّلُ لي مَا بَينَ لحِيَيْهِ ورِجْلَيْهِ أَتَكَفَّلُ له بِالجَنَّةِ
“Whoever guarantees to safeguard what is between his/her lips and his/her legs,(4) then I shall guarantee Heaven for him/her.”(5)
وَقَدْ سُئِلَ رَسُولُ
اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ عَنْ أكْثَرِ ما يُدْخِلُ النَّاسَ الجَنَّةَ، فَقَالَ: «بِتَقْوى اللهِ وَحُسْنِ الخُلُقِ.» وَسُئِلَ عنْ أكْثَرِ مَا يُدْخِلُ النَّاسَ النَّارَ، قالَ: «الأَجْوَفانِ: الفَمُ وَالفَرْجُ.»
The Noble Prophet was asked about the means most influential in taking people to Heaven. He replied: “Piety and good temper.” He was asked about the means most influential in taking people to Hell. He replied: “The two hollows: the mouth and the vulva.”(1)
Ma`adh ibn Jabal asked the Noble Prophet : “Shall we be held responsible for what we say?” The Prophet said:
ثَكَلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يا بْنَ جَبَلٍ! وَهَل يَكُبُّ النَّاسَ (في جَهَنَّمَ) عَلى مَناخِرِهِم إلاّ حَصَائِدُ ألْسِنَتِهِمْ؟
“O Ibn Jabal! May your mother be bereft of you! Does anything else throw people down on their faces (in Hell) other than the harvest of their tongues?”(2)
In all these traditions from the Prophet of God , we see that avoiding verbal abuse and preventing our tongue from engaging in sin is the best source of man’s prosperity and an important factor in taking him to Heaven. Anas ibn Malik quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
لا يَسْتَقِيمُ إيمَانُ عَبْدٍ حَتىّ يَستَقيمَ قَلبُهُ، وَلا يَسْتَقيمُ قَلبُهُ حَتىّ يَسْتَقيمَ لِسَانُهُ، وَلا يَدخُلُ الجَنَّةَ رَجُلٌ لا يَأْمَنُ جَارُهُ بَوَائِقَهُ.
“A servant’s faith is balanced only when his heart is directed to God and his heart is directed to God only when his tongue is on the straight path. A man whose neighbor is not safe from his harmful conduct will not enter Heaven.”(3)
What we see in this tradition is that
the balance of faith depends on the balance of the heart, and that the balance of the heart depends on the balance of the tongue. Therefore, if you do not watch your tongue, you cannot have peace anywhere within you.
Ŝafwan ibn Saleem quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
ألا أُخْبِرُكُم بِأيْسَرِ العِبادَةِ وَأهْوَنهَا عَلى البَدَنِ؟ الصَّمْتُ وَحُسْنُ الخُلُقِ.
“Do you want me to inform you about the easiest form of worship and the lightest on the body? It is silence and having a good temper.”(1)
Al-Barra` ibn `Azib narrated that an Arab came to the Prophet and asked him to teach him something to enable him to go to Heaven. The Prophet said:
أَطْعِمِ الجَائِعَ وَاسْقِ الظَّمْآنَ وأْمُرْ بِالمَعْروفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ المُنْكَرِ، فَإنْ لمَ تُطِقْ فَكُفَّ لِسَانَكَ إلاّ مِنْ خَيرٍ.
“Feed the hungry. Quench the thirst of the thirsty. Advise the people to do good deeds and admonish them against evil deeds. If you are not able (to do that), then just guard your tongue from whatever is not good.”(2)
The Noble Prophet of God said:
لِسَانُ المُؤمِنِ وَرَاءَ قَلْبِهِ، فَإذا أرَادَ أنْ يَتَكَلَّمَ تَدَبَّرَهُ بِقَلْبِهِ ثُمَّ أمْضَاهُ بِلِسانِهِ، وإنَّ لِسَانَ المُنافِقِ أَمامَ قَلْبِهِ فَإذا هَمَّ بِشَيءٍ أَمْضَاهُ بِلِسَانِهِ وَلمَ يَتَدَبَّرْهُ بِقَلْبِهِ.
“A believer’s tongue is located behind his heart. Whenever he wants to talk, he first presents his words to his heart. If the heart approves of what he wants to say it issues an order to the tongue to utter the words. However, if the heart does not issue a permit, then the lips
stay sealed. But a hypocrite’s tongue is in front of his heart. Whenever he intends to say something, he utters it without the approval of his heart.”(1)
It has also been narrated that some people were talking together in Mu`awiyah’s palace. Al-Aĥnaf ibn Qays was quietly sitting in a corner. They asked him: “O’ Aba Bahr! Why don’t you talk?” He said: “If I lie, I shall fear God. Moreover, if I tell the truth, I shall fear you. Thus it is best that I do not talk at all.”(2) The importance of silence became clear from the traditions cited. We learned that man could remain secure from the dangerous potential of committing a sin in talking by remaining silent.
An intelligent person first trusts his words to his intellect and conscience to judge before uttering them. If the intellect and conscience do not give him permission to express those words, then he remains silent. The traditions that encourage us to remain silent are meant to free us from the potential bad consequences of bad talk. It is obvious that talking is an important factor in the development of man and the society as stated before.
Researchers in ethics say that there is a cause of corruption for everything. The tongue is not an exception to this. Many things will corrupt it. Nearly twenty causes have been cited for the corruption of the tongue.
Talking in vain will only waste our time and is one of the causes of corruption of the tongue. The
Noble Prophet said:
مِنْ حُسْنِ إسْلامِ المَرْءِ تَركُهُ ما لا يُعْنِيهِ.
“One of the signs of the excellence of a Muslim’s submission to God is his leaving what does not concern him.”(1)
The Noble Prophet said:
طُوبى لمِنَ أَمْسَكَ الفَضْلَ مِن لِسانِهِ وَأطلَقَ الفَضْلَ مِن مَالِه
“Blessed be the one who restrains his tongue from excessive speech and gives his excess wealth in charity to the needy.”(2)
Examples of bad talk are attending the get-together sessions of some women, meetings of those who drink, and talking with the corrupt, the rich, the rulers and the kings. The Noble Prophet said:
إنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَتَكَلَّمُ بِالكَلِمَةِ يَضْحَكُ بها جُلَساؤهُ يَهْوي بهَا أبْعَدَ مِن الثُّرَيّا.
“One who says something to make the people laugh has deviated from his position as a human being, and has fallen down like one who falls down from a star, even farther than that!”(3)
The Prophet also said:
أعْظَمُ النّاسِ خَطايا يَومَ القِيامَةِ أكْثَرُهُم خَوضاً بِالباطِلِ
“The greatest in sins on Resurrection Day are those who have delved the most into wrong.”
Then he referred to the Qur’an where those who have gone to Hell say:
وَكُنّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخائِضِينَ
“We delved into wrong and were playing around” (74:45) (4)
Salman has been quoted as saying:
أكْثَرُ النّاسِ ذُنوباً يَومَ القِيامَةِ أكْثَرُهُم كَلاماً في مَعْصِيَةِ اللهِ
“The most sinful people on the Resurrection Day are those who have spoken the most in disobedience to God.”(5)
Arguing and teasing are factors that will corrupt the tongue. Islam has ordered us not to argue since it is blameworthy. The Noble Prophet said:
لا تُمارِ أخاكَ وَلا تُمازِحْهُ وَلا تَعِدْهُ
“Do not argue with, tease, or break the promise you have made to your brethren.”(1)
The Prophet also said:
لا يَسْتَكْمِلُ عَبْدٌ حَقِيقَةَ الإيمَانِ حَتىّ يَدَعَ المِراءَ والجِدالَ وإنْ كانَ حَقّاً.
“A servant cannot attain full faith unless he quits verbal arguments even if he is right.”(2)
He also said:
مَن تَرَكَ المِراءَ وهُوَ مُحِقٌّ بُنِيَ لهُ بَيتٌ في أعْلى الجَنَّةِ، ومَنْ تَرَكَ المِراءَ وهُو مُبْطِلٌ بُنِيَ له بَيتٌ في رَبَضِ الجَنَّةِ.
“Whoever knows he is right but quits arguing shall be given a residence in a high heavenly place. Whoever knows that he is wrong and quits arguing shall be given a residence in a low heavenly place.”(3)
Verbal abuse or expression of animosity to get one’s right or property is another factor that corrupts the tongue. Abu Hurayrah quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
مَن جادَلَ في خُصومَةٍ بِغَيرِ عِلْمٍ لمَ يَزَلْ في سَخَطِ اللهِ حَتىّ يَنْزِعَ.
“Whoever argues in a dispute without true knowledge shall remain subject to God’s wrath until he desists.”(4)
The Noble Prophet also said:
إنَّ في الجَنَّةِ لَغُرَفاً يُرى ظاهِرُها مِن باطِنِها وبَاطِنُها مِن ظاهِرِها أعَدَّها اللهُ تَعالى لِمَنْ أَطْعَمَ الطَّعَامَ وَأطابَ الكَلامَ.
“There are rooms in Heaven, the exterior of which can be seen from their interior and the interior of which is visible from their exterior. God has prepared them for those who feed the hungry ones, and are pleasant in speech.”(5)
Thus, the Prophet instructs all Muslims to be polite in speech, and not to use bad or obscene language. Muslims are instructed to attract other people’s love
and friendship by using good words.
The Blessed Fatima quoted on the authority of her noble father :
شِرارُ أُمَّتي الَّذِينَ غَذَوا بالنَّعِيمِ يَأكُلونَ ألْوَانَ الطَّعامِ وَيَلْبَسونَ ألْوانَ الثِّيابِ وَيَتَشَدَّقونَ في الكَلامِ
“The most wicked people in my nation are those who are feeding off divine blessings by eating various dishes and wearing colorful clothing, but speak using an excessively eloquent language.”(1)
We can realize that we should not overburden ourselves by using excessively eloquent language when talking with others. Rather we should try to use nice words and expressions to express important topics.
Swearing is considered bad in Islam. It is one of the factors that corrupt the tongue. The Noble Prophet said:
إيّاكُم وَالفُحشَ فإنَّ اللهَ لا يُحِبُّ الفُحشَ ولا التَّفَحُّشَ
“Beware of swearing since God does not like swearing and those who are used to swearing.”(2)
In another tradition we read that the Noble Prophet said:
الجَنَّةُ حَرامٌ عَلى كُلِّ فاحِشٍ أنْ يَدْخُلَها.
“Heaven is forbidden to whoever is used to swearing. He cannot enter it.”(3)
In another tradition we read that the Prophet told Ayeshah:
يا عَائِشَةُ، لََو كَانَ الفُحْشُ رَجُلاً لَكَانَ رَجُلَ سُوءٍ
“O Ayeshah! If swearing could appear like a man it would be an evil man.”
Swearing is one of the very bad characteristics. Whoever gets used to swearing should try to treat himself. Swearing is defined to be the expression of vulgar things. One who swears is trying to hurt the other person, and hurting others is certainly forbidden. It may be the result of associating with bad people who use obscene language. This has also
been declared to be bad in Islam.
An Arab went to see the Prophet and said: “Please give me some advice.” The Prophet said:
عَلَيكَ بِتَقوى اللهِ، وإن امْرُؤٌ عَيَّرَكَ بِشَيءٍ يَعْلَمُهُ مِنكَ فلا تُعَيِّرْهُ بِشَيءٍ تَعْلَمُهُ فِيه يَكُنْ وَبالُهُ عَلَيهِ وَأَجْرُهُ لكَ. وَلا تَسُبَّنَّ شَيئاً مِن خَلقِ اللهِ.
“I advise you to fear God. If someone blames you for what is in you, do not blame him for what you know that may lie in him. Thus, he will suffer from the ill consequences of his deeds and you will prosper from your good deeds. Also never revile any of God’s creatures.”
The man took the Prophet’s advice and never swore at anyone.(1)
We learn from this tradition that we should never use our knowledge of other people’s weaknesses to harm their honor. Ayaz ibn Samar told the Prophet of God: “O Prophet of God! A relative of mine who is lower than me in rank swears at me. Should I swear at him in defense?” The Prophet said:
المُتَسَابّانِ شَيْطانانِ يَتَعاوَنانِ وَيَتَهاتَرانِ
“Whenever two people revile each other they are like two Satans helping each other and making false accusations against each other.”(2)
Cursing is also another factor that corrupts the tongue. Whoever curses others is pushing them away from the circle of God’s Mercy. This issue has been referred to in several verses of the Holy Qur’an. God has cursed many and has deprived them of his Mercy. An important case is that of Satan:
وَ إنَّ عليكَ لَعْنَتي إلىَ يَوْمِ الْدِّيِنِ
"And My curse shall be
on thee till the Day of Judgment." [The Holy Qur’an, Sad 38:78]
Those who conceal the truth are also cursed:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَى مِن بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ أُولَ_ئِكَ يَلعَنُهُمُ اللّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ
“Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, - on them shall be God's curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:159]
Those who lie were also cursed as in the following verse:
فَمَنْ حَآجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءنَا وَأَبْنَاءكُمْ وَنِسَاءنَا وَنِسَاءكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَةُ اللّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ
“If anyone disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: "Come! Let us gather together, - our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of God on those who lie!" [The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran 3:61]
The pagans and the Jews who were awaiting the coming of the Prophet Muhammad refused to believe in him after they recognized him. We read in the following verse that they too are cursed:
وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ وَكَانُواْ مِن قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَلَمَّا جَاءهُم مَّا عَرَفُواْ كَفَرُواْ بِهِ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّه عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ
“And when there comes to them a Book from God, confirming what is with them, - although from of old they had
prayed for victory against those without Faith, - when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognized, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of God is on those without Faith.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:89]
The Prophet and Imam Ali cursed several people. The Prophet cursed Abu Sufyan in seven places.(1) Imam Ali has been narrated to have quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
سَبْعَةٌ لَعَنَهمُ اللهُ، وَكُلُّ نَبيٍّ مُجابٌ: المُغَيِّرُ لِكِتابِ اللهِ والمُكَذِّبُ بِقَدَرِ اللهِ و المُبَدِّلُ سُنَّةِ رسولِ اللهِ والمُسْتَحِلُّ مِن عِتْرَتي ما حَرَّمَ اللهُ وَالمُتَسَلِّطُ في سُلْطانِهِ لِيُعِزَّ مَن أذَلَّ اللهُ وَيُذِلَّ مَن أعَزَّ اللهُ وَالمُسْتَحِلُّ لِحُرَمِ اللهِ وَالمُتَكَبِّرُ عَلى عِبادَةِ اللهِ.
“There are seven groups of people who were cursed by God and His Prophet :
1- Those who change the Divine Book.
2- Those who deny divine decrees
3- Those who change the Prophet’s traditions
4- Those who make permissible the violation of the rights of my progeny that God has forbidden
5- Those who use their power and rule to belittle one whom God has honored, and those who use their power and rule to honor one whom God has debased
6- Those who make lawful what God has forbidden.
7 - Those who are haughty in worshipping God.
The Noble Prophet said:
المُؤْمِنُ لَيسَ بِلَعّانٍ.
“A believer does not curse others.”(2)
It is even forbidden to curse animals in Islam. Overall, we can conclude that cursing men, animals and objects is forbidden, except for some instances of the infidels, the hypocrites and those who have usurped the rights of Imam
Ali and his descendants.
The next factor that corrupts the tongue is listening to lustful songs. Consider the following verses:
ذَلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ حُرُمَاتِ اللَّهِ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ وَأُحِلَّتْ لَكُمُ الْأَنْعَامُ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ
“Such (is the Pilgrimage): whoever honors the sacred rites of God, for him it is good in the Sight of his Lord. Lawful to you (for food in Pilgrimage) are cattle, except those mentioned to you (as exception): but shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Hajj 22:30]
وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا
“Those who witness no falsehood, and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable (avoidance).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Furqan 25:72]
The Arabic expressions that are translated into “shun the word that is false” and “witness no falsehood” in the above verses of the Holy Qur’an have been interpreted by Shuham and Ibn Abi Amir and Abi Basir (in al-Kafi) and others as implying lustful music. The following verse is also said to refer to lustful music aimed at corrupting the people.
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ
“But there are, among men, those who purchase idle tales, without knowledge (or meaning), to mislead (men) from the Path of God and throw ridicule (on the Path): for such there will be a Humiliating Penalty.” [The Holy Qur’an, Luqman 31:6]
However, there are two groups of traditions
regarding poetry. Religious poetry is considered to be good in one group of traditions. Other traditions consider lustful poetry to be bad.
Joking around is considered to be bad in Islam. The Noble Prophet said:
لا تُمارِ أَخاكَ وَلا تُمازِحْهُ
“Avoid arguing with your brethren and abstain from excessive joking around.”(1)
The Prophet also said:
إنّي لأَمْزَحُ ولا أقُولُ إلاّ حَقّاً.
“I tell jokes, but only say the truth.”(2)
The Prophet told some nice jokes. As an example, consider the following. One day an old lady went to see the Prophet . The Prophet said: “An old lady does not go to Heaven.” The old lady started to cry. Then the Prophet said: “On that day you will not be old. You will be young. God said the following in the Holy Qur’an:”
إِنَّا أَنشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنشَاءً فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا
“We have created (their Companions) of special creation, and made them virgin - pure (and undefiled).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Waqi`ah 56:35-36]
Imam Ali said:
مَا مَزَحَ امْرُؤٌ مَزْحَةً إلاّ مَجَّ مِن عَقْلِه مَجَّةً.
“A person does not jest but that something of his intellect is cast out.” (3)
Scholars in ethics have considered making fun of people as one of the factors that corrupt the tongue. God said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَومٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَى أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاء مِّن نِّسَاء عَسَى أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ بِئْسَ الاِسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
“O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter)
are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Hujurat 49:11]
The first principle referred to in this verse is respecting the Muslims. Muslims should respect each other in social encounters. Materialists have a different world outlook than Muslims. Materialists respect one for his physical beauty, but Muslims respect man’s moral values. In the above verse, making fun of others is forbidden. Men are unaware of each other’s inner thoughts and feelings. It may be that an ugly man has a very beautiful character. He might be made fun of for his looks, but if others knew him well they would never make fun of him. That is why it is not allowed to make fun of anyone.
A form of inferiority complex is considered a psychological root of making fun of other people. That is why respectable people never make fun of anyone. Those who make fun of others also enjoy insulting others. They have a sort of vicious attitude. Beasts attack the people physically, and they attack the people’s honor.
A clown once pulled off Imam Sajjad’s cloak. The Imam did not say anything. The people followed the clown and took back the cloak.
They brought it back and put it on Imam Sajjad’s shoulder. Imam Sajjad asked: “Who did that?” The people said: “It was a clown who makes the people laugh.” Then Imam Sajjad said:
انَّ للهِ يَوماً يَخْسَرُ فِيه المُبْطِلونَ.
“Tell him that there is a day for God in which those who indulge in vain and futile acts will not gain anything but loss.”(1)
Some people are crippled for some reason. They lose their physical health. If people make fun of those who are crippled, then they will get hurt. They will get hurt due to being made fun of and due to not being healthy. That is why Imam Ali said the following in his supplications:
إاللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ نَفْسي أوَّلَ كَريمَةٍ تَنْتَزِعُها مِن كَرائِمِي وَأَوَّلَ وَديعَةٍ تُرْجِعُها مِن وَدَائِعِ نِعَمِكَ عِنْدي.
“O God! Make my soul the first of the my precious possessions that You take from me, and the first trust that you return to me from among Your blessings entrusted to me.”(2)
Imam Husayn said:
وَمَتِّعْني بِجَوارِحِي وَاجْعَلْ سَمْعي وَبَصَري الوارِثَيْنِ عَنِّي وانْصُرْني عَلى مَن ظَلَمَني
“O Lord! Make me benefit from all my body parts. Let my eyes and ears be my inheritors, (i.e. protect me from becoming crippled), and give me victory over everyone who oppresses me.” (3)
Al-Jaĥiz was an educated man who lived in the ninth century. Many books and writings have remained from him. He was a very ugly man. He was always supported by the Abbasid Caliphs since he expressed his opposition to Ali . One day he told his
students that he was never belittled as much as he was done by a lady once. She had run across him once and asked him to follow her. She had taken him to a sculptor, and said to him: “That is it.” Then she walked away. When he asked the artist what the story was, he was told that the lady had ordered the artist to make a sculpture of Satan. The artist had told her that he could only make the sculpture if he sees Satan. Then the lady had brought him in and shown him to the artist as a model for Satan.
Another factor that corrupts the tongue is divulging other people’s secrets. This is considered bad in Islam. The Noble Prophet said:
إذا حَدَّثَ الرَّجُلُ الحَديثَ ثُمَّ التَفَتَ فَهِيَ أمَانَةٌ
“When someone says something and goes away, what he said is left as a trust near the one who hears him.”(1)
He also said:
الحَدِيثُ بَيْنَكُم أَمانَةٌ.
“What others tell you is entrusted to you.”(2)
Imam Hasan has been narrated as saying:
إنَّ مِنَ الخِيانَةِ أنْ تُحَدِّثَ بِسِرِّ أخِيكَ.
“It is an act of treachery to speak of your brethren’s secrets.”(3)
One of the factors that corrupt the tongue is making fake promises upon which one does not act. Acting upon what you promise is one of the signs of divine men. We read the following in the Holy Qur’an:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَوْفُواْ بِالْعُقُودِ
“O ye who believe! Fulfil (all) obligations.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ma’ida 5:1]
The Noble Prophet said:
“A promise is a debt.”(4)
has mentioned Isma’il to be strictly true to what he promised:
وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صَادِقَ الْوَعْدِ وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَّبِيًّا
“Also mention in the Book (the story of) Isma'il: He was (strictly) true to what he promised, and he was an apostle (and) a Prophet.” [The Holy Qur’an, Maryam 19:54]
Lying is a great sin. It will result in the loss of one’s honor. Many Qur’anic verses and traditions outline the wickedness of lying. Abu Sa`eed was quoted to have heard the Prophet supplicate to God as follows:
اللَّهُمَّ طَهِّر قَلْبي مِن النِّفَاقِ وَفَرْجِي مِن الزِّنَا وَلِسَاني مِن الكَذِبِ.
“O God! Please purify my heart from hypocrisy, purify me from acts of fornication, and purify my tongue from lying.” (1)
Imam Baqir said:
إنَّ الكَذِبَ هُوَ خَرابُ الإيمَانِ.
“Lying is the ruin of man’s faith.”(2)
The Commander of the Faithful said:
لا يَجِدُ عَبْدٌ طَعْمَ الإيمَانِ حَتىّ يَتْرُكَ الكَذِبَ جِدَّهُ وَهَزْلَهُ.
“No man shall taste faith unless he abandons lying, be it serious or as a joke.”(3)
A man told the Prophet : “O’ Prophet of God! Would a believer commit a sexual sin?” He said: “Maybe sometimes.” The man asked: “Would a believer tell a lie?” The Prophet answered:
إِنَّمَا يَفْتَرِي الْكَذِبَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ وَأُوْل_ئِكَ هُمُ الْكَاذِبُونَ
Never! God the Exalted said: “It is those who believe not in the Signs of God that forge falsehood….”(4) [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:105]
It was quoted on the authority of Imam Hasan Askari:
حُطَّتِ الخَبائِثُ في بَيْتٍ وَجُعِلَ مِفْتاحُهُ الكَذِبُ.
“All evil deeds were placed in a room and lying was made its
This implies that if one lies he will fall into sin.
The Noble Prophet said:
لا يَكْذِبُ الكاذِبُ إلاّ مِن مَهانَةِ نَفْسِه.
“One only tells lies because of his feeling of being lowly.”(2)
On the other hand, honesty is rooted in a feeling of self-security and confidence. One day Hajjaj extended his sermon when he was lecturing on the pulpit. A man cried from the crowd: “It is time for prayer. Cut it short. Neither time will stop in respect for you nor will God accept your apology.” Hajjaj became upset about this open statement in public and had the man imprisoned.
When the man’s relatives went to see Hajjaj and told him that the man is insane, Hajjaj said that he had to confess to this fact himself. They went to see the man and told him to confess to being insane to be freed. The man said: “God has created me healthy and intelligent. I am not mad. Why should I falsely confess to being insane?” Then Hajjaj was told about what the man said. Hajjaj respected his honesty and freed him.(3)
Gossiping will also corrupt the tongue. Before proceeding, we must clarify what is meant by gossiping. The late Shaheed Thani defined gossiping as ascribing things to someone behind their back that they dislike, and with the intention of belittling him.(4) Abu-Dharr was questioned about the meaning of gossiping. He replied: “Saying what might hurt your Muslim brother if he hears it behind his back.”(5) Gossiping is forbidden in Islam. Sheikh Mortazavi has
declared gossiping to be forbidden, and has used the following verse to support his view:(1)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيراً مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it. But fear God: For God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Hujurat 49:12]
The act of gossiping is bad since both the speaker and the listener are attacking a defenseless person. It is as if one eats the flesh of his dead defenseless brother and the other one attacks one who is not present there to defend himself. Four points are stressed in the Qur’an in this regard:
1 Muslims and brothers in faith are just like our brothers.
2 A Muslim’s honor is just like his flesh.
3 Gossiping behind his back to hurt his honor is like eating his flesh.
4 The fact that he is absent and is unable to defend himself is similar to him being dead. It is not right to attack a dead defenseless person.
That is why Imam Ali has said:
الغِيبَةُ جُهْدُ العاجِزِ.
“Backbiting is the endeavour of the weak.”(2)
The second verse regarding this issue is:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا
وَالْآخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“Those who love (to see) scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: God knows, and ye know not.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Noor 24:19]
Man is a social creature and the society in which he lives is like his house. He should safeguard it just as he safeguards his house and prevent the influence of any corruption into the society. Islam seriously fights whatever corrupts the society. Gossiping is also seriously fought with because it unveils hidden flaws. Islam does not like this and instructs people to cover up each other’s faults. The third verse regarding this issue is:
لاَّ يُحِبُّ اللّهُ الْجَهْرَ بِالسُّوَءِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ إِلاَّ مَن ظُلِمَ وَكَانَ اللّهُ سَمِيعًا عَلِيمًا
“God loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for God is He who heareth and knoweth all things.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:148]
We must realize that any form of evil in public speech has been forbidden here. Thus gossiping is forbidden. The fourth verse in this regard is as follows:
وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ
“Woe to every (kind of) scandal-monger and-backbiter.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Humaza, 104:1]
Some commentators have said that this verse was revealed about al-Walīd ibn al-Mughīrah who used to gossip behind the Prophet’s back and made fun of him up front.
There are many traditions that stress the bad effects of gossiping. The Noble Prophet said:
كُلُّ المُسْلِمِ عَلى المُسْلِمِ حَرامٌ: دَمُهُ وَمالُهُ وَعِرْضُهُ.
“Everything of the Muslim
is to be respected by Muslims: his life, his wealth and his honor.”(1)
Fayz Kashani has declared that gossiping is a cause of violation of one’s honor. Jabir and Abu Saeed have both quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
إيّاكُم والغِيبَةَ فإنَّ الغيبَةَ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الزِّنا. فإنَّ الرَّجُلَ قَد يَزني فَيَتوبُ اللهُ عَلَيهِ. وإنَّ صَاحِبَ الغِيبَةِ لا يُغْفَرُ له حَتىّ يَغْفِرَ له صَاحِبُهُ.
“Avoid gossiping since it is worse than committing fornication. Sometimes a man might make a mistake and commit fornication. Once he gets sorry and repents, God will accept his repentance. But if one gossips his sin will not be forgiven unless the one behind whose back he gossips forgives him.”(2)
Anas quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
مَرِرْتُ لَيْلَةَ أُسرِيَ بي عَلى قَومٍ يَخمِشُونَ وُجوهَهُم بِأظافِيرهِم، فَقُلتُ: يا جِبرَئِيلُ، مَن هؤلاءِ؟ قالَ: هؤلاءِ الّذِينَ يَغتابُونَ النّاسَ وَيَقَعونَ في أعْراضِهِم.
“On the night of the Ascension, I ran across a group of people who were scratching their faces with their nails. I asked Gabriel about them. He said: These are the people who have gossiped behind the people’s backs and have caused the loss of people’s honor.”(3)
It is natural that for every action there is a reaction. What is the reaction to gossiping? Al-Barra` said: “The Prophet delivered a sermon. All those who were freed were also there and heard his sermon. The Prophet said:
يا مَعْشَرَ مَن أسْلَمَ بِلِسانِهِ وَلمَ يُؤمِنْ بِقَلبِهِ! لا تَغْتابُوا المُسلِمِينَ ولا تَتَّبِعوا عَوراتِهِم، فإنَّه مَن تَتَبَّعَ عَورَة أخِيهِ تَتَبَّعَ اللّهُ عَورَتَهُ، ومَن تَتَبَّعَ اللّهُ عَورَتَهُ
يَفْضَحْهُ وَلَو في بَيتِهِ.
“O those who have confessed faith but do not really have faith! Do not gossip behind the Muslims’ backs. Do not pursue their hidden secrets. Whoever does so, God will pursue his hidden secrets, and when God does that He will disgrace him although it may be in his own house.”(1)
Sheikh Sadooq quoted on the authority of the Prophet :
مَن مَشَى في غِيبَةِ أخِيهِ وَكَشْفِ عَورَتِهِ كانَتْ أوَّلُ خُطْوَةٍ خَطاها وَضَعَها في جَهَنَّمَ وَكَشَفَ اللهُ عَورَتِهِ عَلى رُؤوسِ الخَلائِقِ. وَمَن اغْتابَ مُسلِماً بَطُلَ صَومُهُ وَنُقِضَ وُضوؤهُ فَإنْ ماتَ وهوَ كَذلكَ ماتَ وهوَ مُسْتَحِلٌّ لما حَرَّمَ اللهُ.
“One who gossips behind his Muslim brother’s back and intends to divulge his secrets is taking a step towards Hell. God will make his hidden secrets known to the public. Whoever gossips behind a Muslim’s back loses the acceptance of his fasting and ablution. If he dies in this state, he has died as one who has allowed what God has forbidden.”(2)
It is obvious that the loss of the reward of the fasting and the prayer is meant here. Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
الغِيبَةُ أسْرَعُ في دِينِ الرَّجُلِ المُسلِمِ مِن الآكِلَةِ في جَوفِهِ.
“Gossiping works faster than a cancerous cell in destroying a Muslim’s faith.”(3)
Therefore, we can say that gossiping is like the cancer of the religion. Al-Mufaddal ibn `Umar quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
مَن رَوى عَلى مُؤمِنٍ رِوايَةً يُريدُ بها شَينَهُ وَهَدْمَ مُروَّتِهِ لِيَسْقُطَ مِن أعْيُنِ النّاسِ أَخْرَجَهُ اللهُ تَعالى مِن وِلايَتِهِ إلى وِلايَةِ
الشَّيطانِ فَلا يَقْبَلُه الشَّيطانُ.
“One who talks against a believer and intends to harm him, belittle him or harm his honor shall be cast out of divine friendship by God and entrusted to Satan. Even Satan shall not accept him.”(1)
Gossiping is not limited to acts of the tongue. Rather it could be any kind of act that has the same purpose behind it. It is forbidden by the tongue since it shows the flaws of a brother to another brother. Therefore, it is also forbidden in any other form. Imitating the way a crippled person walks is also another form of gossiping since it shows his flaw. It is even worse. A woman went to see Ayeshah. When she left Ayeshah pointed at her implying that she is short. God’s Prophet said: “You gossiped behind her back.”(2)
God’s Prophet said:
المُسْتَمِعُ للغِيبةِ صِنوُ المُستَغِيبِ.
“One who listens to gossip is a partner in gossiping.”(3)
Therefore, he has a share of the punishment for this sin unless he verbally condemns the act of gossiping, interrupts it, or leaves the meeting. Even if he cannot do so, he should consider it bad in his mind. If he verbally opposes what is said but is internally in agreement with it, then he is a hypocrite. God’s Prophet said:
مَنْ أُذِلَّ عِندَهُ مُؤمِنٌ وهُوَ يَقدِرُ عَلى أنْ يَنْتَصِرَ لهُ فَلَم يَنْصُرْهُ أذَلَّهُ اللهُ يَومَ القِيامَةِ عَلى رُؤوسِ الخَلائقِ.
“Whoever sees a believer is belittled in front of him and can help him but does not do so, shall be belittled by
God in public in the Hereafter.”(1)
He also said:
مَنْ رَدَّ عَن عِرْضِ أخِيهِ بِالغَيبِ كانَ حَقّاً عَلى اللهِ أنْ يَرُدَّ عَن عِرضِهِ يَومَ القِيامَةِ.
“On the Resurrection Day God shall protect the honor of whoever protects a brother’s honor in his absence.”(2)
He also said:
مَنْ ذَبَّ عَن عِرْضِ أخِيهِ بِالغَيبِ كانَ حَقّاً عَلى اللهِ أنْ يُعْتِقَهُ مِن النّارِ.
“It is incumbent upon God to protect from the Fire of Hell one who defends a brother’s honor in his absence.”(3)
1 - Anger, jealousy or grudge
2 - Making fun of others
3 - Seeking nobility
4 - Ascribing wicked deeds to others
5 - Peer pressure
6 - Knowing that someone will inform someone else of one’s flaws
7 - Sympathy
8 - Acting amazed at what wicked acts are performed
One of the ways to treat the bad habit of gossiping is to educate the person about its bad consequences in this world and the Hereafter. It is also important to eliminate the internal motivations for gossiping. It is helpful to remember that one will be subject to God’s wrath. It is also important to realize that it does not help to fool oneself.
In case gossiping is done due to peer pressure, it is best to realize that God’s pleasure is more important than that of our peers. One should also realize that gossiping with other motivations like sympathy and the like is in itself a violation of divine decrees and is not considered a religiously motivated act.
How much freedom of speech is there in Islam? What are the limits to
the freedom of speech, if any? There is no doubt that Islam allows the freedom of speech as we read:
فَبَشِّرْ عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أحْسَنَهُ أوْلائِكَ الَّذِيْنَ هَداهُمُ اللهُ وَ أوْلائِكَ هُمْ أوْلُواْ الْألْبابِ
“So announce the good news to My Servants, - Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Zumar 39:16-17]
This act of listening to the Word and following the best is only possible where there is freedom of speech. Imam Ali has been quoted as saying:
أُنْظُرْ إلى ما قَالَ وَلا تَنْظُرْ إلى مَن قَالَ.
“Look at what is said, not at who has said it.”(1)
Imam Ali said:
خُذُوا الحِكْمَةَ وَلَو مِن أهْلِ الضَّلالِ. خُذُوا الحِكْمَةَ وَلَو مِنَ المُشْرِكينَ.
“Accept words of wisdom even if uttered by those who have gone astray. Accept wisdom even if it is expressed by the infidels.”(2)
A study of the way the Immaculate Imams encountered opposing views shows that they all stressed good treatment of those with opposite views. As an example we can cite people like Sa`d ibn Waqqas, Abu-Musa Al-Ash`ari and many others who did not pledge allegiance to Imam Ali in the beginning of his Caliphate. Imam Ali did not bother any of them. He also tried not to fight with those who broke their covenant and tried to enter a fight with him as much as possible. We can cite people like Talĥah and Zubayr as examples.
read the following in Wasa`il al-Shī`ah: “Indeed Ali never ascribed paganism to those who fought with him. He only said that they are those of our brothers who have oppressed us.”(1) Also Imam Sadiq treated people like Ibn Abi’l-`Awja` well. Therefore, there is no doubt about the freedom to speak. Rather Islam forbids any form of abuse and anarchy.
At last, we shall study the jurisprudents’ view on the value of the tongue. The jurisprudents have stated that there is full compensation for cutting off a healthy person’s tongue. Al-Muĥaqqiq al-Hilli said:(2) “There is full compensation for a healthy tongue. If the tongue of a healthy person is partially damaged, there is partial compensation for it based on the amount of his ability left to express the twenty-eight letters of the alphabet.(3) There is one-third compensation for a damaged or stuttering tongue.” (4)
The grand Ayatollah Khu’i said: “When the tongue is so damaged that it is not useful for the purpose it is supposed to serve, one does not consider how much of it is damaged. Rather the compensation for the tongue depends on the degree of loss of the ability to speak. For example, if one fourth of the tongue is cut, but the person can only utter one fourth of the words then there is half compensation.
If one half of the tongue is cut, but only one fourth of the letters cannot be uttered by the person damaged, then there is only one-fourth compensation required. Thus, the compensation for
the tongue does not depend on the geographical location or the language of the person whose tongue has been damaged. Rather it depends on the degree of loss of the ability to utter the letters.”(1)
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ السَّمْعِ فَتَنْزِيهُهُ عَنْ أَنْ تَجْعَلَهُ طَرِيقًا إلَى قَلْبكَ إلا لِفُوهَةٍ كَرِيمَةٍ تُحْدِثُ فِي قَلبكَ خَيْرًا أَو تَكْسِبُ خُلُقًا كَرِيمًا فَإنَّهُ بَابُ الْكَلامِ إلَى الْقَلْب يُؤَدِّي إلَيْهِ ضُرُوبُ الْمَعَانِي عَلَى مَا فِيهَا مِن خَيْرٍ أَو شَرِّ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of hearing is to keep it pure by not making it the direct pathway to your heart, except for noble words that establish some good in your heart or grant you a noble trait. Indeed hearing is the gateway through which various concepts reach the heart —whether good or evil. And there is no power but in God.(2)
The Almighty God said:
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ قَلِيلاً مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ
“Say: It is He who has created you (and made you grow), and made for you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeding and understanding. Little thanks it is ye give.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Mulk 67:23]
When man is born, he is not familiar with the creatures in this world, but he slowly gets acquainted with them. One of the means of acquiring such recognition is the faculty of hearing. We hear things and they are recorded in our minds. Imam Ali said to someone seeking advice:
أيها السائل! إِسْتَمِعْ ثُمّ اسْتَفْهِم ثُمَّ اسْتَيْقِنْ ثُمَّ اسْتَعْمِلْ.
“O questioner! Listen first, and then understand.
Then believe and put what you have learned into practice.”(1)
Thus, we realize that the key to understanding, believing and putting things into practice is our hearing. Therefore, hearing can be considered our social sense, and in this sense, it can be considered more important than seeing.
Sound is produced from vibration. Human voice is the product of the vibration of our vocal cords. It has been proven that sound will not be transmitted in a vacuum. However, we should not think that air is the only media for the transmission of sound. Sound can be propagated in liquids, gases and solids. It propagates in liquids faster than in gases. Solids propagate sound even faster than liquids do. There are three parts to the ear: the external ear, middle ear and inner ear.
The external ear consists of the pinna(2) and the ear canal. The pinna is made of cartilage and is so formed as to act as a receiving antenna in charge of guiding the incoming sound waves towards the ear canal. The ear canal is nearly three centimeters long, and produces wax to prevent the entry of dirt and insects into the ear. The middle ear is separated from the ear canal by the eardrum. The middle ear normally contains air and is connected to the back of the pharynx by the Eustachian tube. There are delicate bones in the middle ear.
When sound waves enter the ear and touch the eardrum, these delicate bones vibrate and transfer these signals to a
liquid inside the ear. The hearing cells that are there sense these changes and transmit the information to the brain. In simple terms, that is how we hear. Our hearing ability depends on the position of the source of sound, our physical state, the way we eat, and our age.
The ear is the organ of hearing. The parts of the ear include:
External Ear or Outer Ear, consisting of:
1) Pinna or auricle - the outside part of the ear.
2) External auditory canal or tube - the tube that connects the outer ear to the inside or middle ear.
3) Tympanic membrane - also called the eardrum. The tympanic membrane divides the external ear from the middle ear.
4) Middle ear (tympanic cavity), consisting of:
A) Ossicles - three small bones that are connected and transmit the sound waves to the inner ear. The bones are called: malleus,(1) incus,(2) stapes.(3)
B) Eustachian tube - a canal that links the middle ear with the throat area. The Eustachian tube helps to equalize the pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear. Having the same pressure allows for the proper transfer of sound waves. The Eustachian tube is lined with mucous, just like the inside of the nose and throat.
5) Inner ear, consisting of:
A) Cochlea (contains the nerves for hearing)
B) Vestibule (contains receptors for balance)
C) Semicircular canals (contain receptors for balance)
Hearing starts with the outer ear. When a sound is made outside the outer ear, the sound waves, or vibrations, travel down the external auditory canal and
strike the eardrum (tympanic membrane). The eardrum vibrates. The vibrations are then passed to three tiny bones in the middle ear called the ossicles. The ossicles amplify the sound. They send the sound waves to the inner ear and into the fluid- filled hearing organ (cochlea).
Once the sound waves reach the inner ear, they are converted into electrical impulses that the auditory nerve sends to the brain. The brain then translates these electrical impulses into sound.
Now let us address the question of why the ear is usually mentioned before the eyes and the heart in the Holy Qur’an. Let us look at a few verses in this regard:
قُلْ مَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاء وَالأَرْضِ أَمَّن يَمْلِكُ السَّمْعَ والأَبْصَارَ
“Say: Who is that sustains you (in life) from the sky and from the earth? Or who is it that has power over hearing and sight?” [The Holy Qur’an, Yunus 10:31]
إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُول_ئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْؤُولاً
“Surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Israa 17:36]
Also in Naĥl 16:78, Baqarah 2:7, Ha-Mim 41:20 and many other verses hearing and the ears have been mentioned before seeing and the eyes. Scientists have mentioned several reasons for the superiority of the ear over the eye. At first we should realize that the range of frequencies we could detect via our hearing is wide. The ratio of the highest frequencies we can hear to the lowest is nearly one thousand. However, our sight
is much more limited.
We can only sense a small fraction of the wavelengths. We cannot see the infrared or the ultraviolet. The eyes are also very vulnerable and might easily be damaged if we look at the sun or an eclipse, or ultraviolet light emitted while welding is in progress. However, the ears are much stronger. In addition, our viewing angle is very limited, while we can hear sounds coming to us from all directions. These seem to be the physical reasons for the superiority of hearing to sight, but it seems that hearing is more powerful than sight in self-reconstruction and spiritual enlightenment.(1)
In addition to the rights of the hearing that we discussed, the ear has certain worth expressed in Islamic jurisprudence. Al-Muĥaqqiq al-Hilli said: “The compensation to be paid for both ears is full compensation: Each ear’s compensation is one half of the full compensation. The compensation for the earlobe is one-third of the full compensation whether it be torn or punctured.(2)
In addition, in the Farsi editions of the Treatise of the Muslim Jurisprudents we read: “If you cut both ears off, or make them deaf you must pay the full compensation. If you only cut or damage one ear, you must pay half compensation. If one cuts someone else’s earlobe he should do his best to please him.”(3)
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ بَصَرِكَ فَغَضُّهُ عَمَّا لا يَحِلُّ لَكَ وتَرْكُ ابْتِذَالِهِ إلاّ لِمَوضِعِ عِبْرَةٍ تَسْتَقْبلُ بهَا بَصَرًا أَو تَسْتَفِيدُ بهَا عِلْمًا، فَإنَّ الْبَصَرَ بَابُ الِاعْتِبَارِ.
And the right of
your sight is that you lower it before everything which is unlawful to you. And that you abandon using it except in situations in which you can take heed in such a way that you gain insight or acquire knowledge by it. Indeed the sight is the gateway to reflection.
Both vision and the eyes are considered here. For example, consider the following verse:
وَمَا أَمْرُ السَّاعَةِ إِلاَّ كَلَمْحِ الْبَصَرِ
“And the Decision of the Hour (of Judgment) is as the twinkling of an eye.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:77]
Also, consider the following verse:
وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْسَّمْعَ وَالأَبْصَارَ وَالأَفْئِدَةَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“And He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks (to God).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:78]
It also covers the concept of insight. For example, consider the following verse:
قُلْ هَ_ذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللّهِ عَلَى بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَاْ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي وَسُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Say thou: "This is my way: I do invite unto God, - on evidence clear as the seeing with one's eyes, - I and whoever follows me. Glory to God! And never will I join gods with God!" [The Holy Qur’an, Yusuf 12:108]
The vision system is so important in our understanding that it is given special consideration in psychology. It is so important in physics because it is related to light and optics. It is given especial consideration by philosophers because it is important in discovering mysterious things. It is of especial consideration in biology because it is an important part of the human
body. Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say that it is the subject of study of several fields of science.
God the Almighty advised us about the importance of the eyes in the Holy Qur’an:
أَلَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ عَيْنَيْنِ
“Have We not made for him a pair of eyes?” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Balad 90:8]
The eyes are man’s most important means of communicating with the outside world. The eyes are so amazing that they force us to be humble to our Creator. However, some people do not make proper use of them:
وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيراً مِّنَ الْجِنِّ وَالإِنسِ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لاَّ يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لاَّ يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لاَّ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا أُوْلَ_ئِكَ كَالأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ أُوْلَ_ئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ
“Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, - nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning).”[The Holy Qur’an, al-A’raf 7:179]
There is a tradition from the Prophet of God regarding the above verse [al-Balad 90:8] which reads: “God told the children of Adam:
يا بْنَ آدَمَ! إنْ نازَعَكَ لِسانُكَ في ما حَرَّمْتُ عَلَيكَ فَقَد أَعَنْتُكَ عَليهِ بِطَبَقَتَينِ فَأَطْبِقْ. وإنْ نازَعَكَ بَصَرُكَ إلى بَعضِ ما حَرَّمْتُ عَلَيكَ فقَدْ أَعَنْتُكَ عَلَيهِ بِطَبَقَتَينِ فَأطْبِقْ.
“O Children of Adam! I have given you two lips. If your tongue tries to make you commit a forbidden act, close your lips. I have given you eyelids. If your eyes try to make you commit a
forbidden act, close your eyelids.”(1)
The eyes must be closed to what is forbidden by God. We read the following about the unbelievers in the Holy Qur’an:
الَّذِينَ كَانَتْ أَعْيُنُهُمْ فِي غِطَاء عَن ذِكْرِي وَكَانُوا لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَمْعًا
“(Unbelievers) whose eyes had been under a veil from remembrance of Me, and who had been unable even to hear.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:101]
In this verse, we read that the unbelievers did not close their eyes to what is forbidden to look at. Rather they closed their eyes from what reminds man of God. They did not hear even though they had the hearing faculty. In fact, the unbelievers disabled their most useful faculty to seek the truth and realize the realities. It is interesting to note that God says that their eyes had been under a veil from His remembrance. Thus, they could not see God’s signs. They went astray due to not seeing the truth. We cannot see God’s remembrance with our eyes. Rather we see His signs that remind us of him.
One proper use of the eyes is in cases that the Qur’an has pointed out. The Qur’an invites us to look at our own creation in the following verse:
فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
خُلِقَ مِن مَّاء دَافِقٍ
يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ
“Now let man but think from what he is created! He is created from a drop emitted proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Tariq 86:5-7]
Thus, the Qur’an directs man to consider how he is created from sperm
to realize what we are.
The second instance that the Qur’an invites man to look to is to consider what he eats. The Qur’an says:
فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ إِلَى طَعَامِهِ
“Then let man look at his food, (and how We provide it)” [The Holy Qur’an, ‘Abasa 80:24]
The closest thing to man that exists outside our body but becomes a part of us when eaten is food. If we do not eat, we will die soon. That is why the Qur’an stresses food items, especially those derived from plants and trees. There are various interpretations of this verse. Some consider this looking to be considering whether what we have obtained for eating is from legitimate means or not. Others consider food for the mind, too. Imam Baqir said:
عِلمُهُ الّذي يأخُذُهُ، عَمَّنْ يأخُذُهُ
“Look and see from whom you get your knowledge.”(1)
There are many occasions in the Qur’an where we are instructed to look such as:
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلالَةُ فَسِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَانظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ.
For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle, (with the Command), "Serve God, and eschew Evil": of the People were some whom God guided and some on whom error became inevitably (established). So, travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth). [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:36]
We also read:
قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانظُرُوا كَيْفَ بَدَأَ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ يُنشِئُ النَّشْأَةَ الْآخِرَةَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Travel through the earth and see how God did originate creation; so will God produce a later creation: for God has power over all things.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-‘Ankabut 29:20]
قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ
وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاء بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاء بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُوْلِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَى عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاء وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And God is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame
of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards God, that ye may attain Bliss.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:30-31]
In these verses, we are advised to look down when we encounter an unfamiliar woman.(1) We cannot close our eyes since then we cannot walk or we might fall down on the ground. However, by limiting our view we can reduce the amount that we see. Thus, we restrict our looking at the forbidden. As said before God has admonished men and women against looking at each other. There are many traditions that have expressed the ill effects of such looks.
Muhammad ibn Yaqoob quoted on the authority of Muhammad ibn Yahya on the authority of Ahmad ibn Muhammad on the authority of Ibn Fazzil on the authority of Ali ibn Aqabeh on the authority of his father that he heard Imam Sadiq say:
النَّظْرَةُ سَهْمٌ مِن سِهامِ إبْلِيسَ مَسْمومٌ، وَكَم مِن نَظْرَةٍ أوْرَثَتْ حَسْرَةً طَويلَةً
“A look is like a poisonous dart from the darts of Satan. How many a look has caused long-lasting regret.”(2)
The similitude between a look and a dart is because a dart will pierce through when it hits the target. A dirty look will also tear down the veils of modesty and chastity. Some dirty looks might lead to a long-lasting sorrow. There are many people whose life is ruined due to a dirty look. Then they cannot compensate
for this all lifelong. They will be sorry but it will be of no use. Ibn Abi Umayr quoted on the authority of Al-Kaheli on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
النَّظْرَةُ بَعدَ النَّظرَةِ تَزْرعُ في القَلبِ الشَّهْوَةَ وكَفَى بِها لِصاحِبِها فِتْنَةً.
“One look after another will sow the seeds of desire in the heart, and it is sufficient temptation for the person.”(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
مَنْ نَظَرَ إلى امْرَأةٍ فَرَفَعَ بَصَرَهُ إلى السَّماءِ لمَ يَرْتَدَّ إليَهِ بَصَرُهُ حَتىّ يُزَوِّجَهُ اللهُ مِن الحُورِ العِينِ.
“If one sees a woman but turns away his eyes and looks at the sky, he will be rewarded with a ‘Hoori’(2) in Heaven.” (3)
However, there are exceptions that are discussed below.
We learned from the verses of the Holy Qur’an and the sayings of Imam Sajjad that it is not permitted to look at divinely forbidden sights. Now we will point out exceptions to this rule in Islam. One such case is looking at a woman with whom you want to marry. There is a chapter in Wasa`il al-Shī`ah on this subject. The first tradition in this chapter is as follows.
Muhammad ibn Yaqub quoted on the authority of Ali ibn Ibrahim, on the authority of his father, on the authority of Ibn Abi Amir, on the authority of Ayoub ibn Khazar, on the authority of Muhammad ibn Muslim who asked Imam Baqir :
“Can a man who intends to marry a woman look at her?” Imam Baqir said: “Yes, since he wants to buy the most expensive thing.”(4) This tradition only discusses
the permission to look. There are other traditions that clarify things more.
Ali ibn Ibrahim quoted on the authority of his father on the authority of Hisham ibn Salim, Himad ibn Isa and Hafs ibn Bakhtari on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
لا بَأْسَ بأنْ يَنظُرَ إلى وَجْهِها وَمَعاصِمِها إذا أرادَ أنْ يَتَزَوَّجَها.
“When one intends to marry a woman, it is fine for him to look at her face and her wrists.”(1)
In another tradition from Abi Al-Ash`ari on the authority of Hasan ibn al-Sani, Imam Sadiq was asked: “How is it if a man who intends to marry a woman looks at her carefully. He looks at her face and the back of her head.” Imam Sadiq replied: “When he intends to marry her it is fine for him to look at her face and the back of her head.”(2) There are also other traditions in this respect that permit looking without lustful intentions.
Another exception to this rule applies to a female patient whom no one but a male doctor can treat. This is expressed in Chapter 130 of Wasa`il al-Shī`ah. The first tradition in this chapter reads: “Muhammad ibn Yaqoob quoted on the authority of Muhammad ibn Isa, on the authority of Ali ibn al-Hikam, on the authority of Abi Hamzah al-Thumali that Imam Baqir was asked:
سَأَلْتُهُ عَن المَرْأةِ المُسْلِمَةِ يُصِيبُها البَلاءُ في جَسَدِها إمّا كَسْرٌ وَإمّا جُرْحٌ في مَكانٍ لا يَصْلُحُ النَّظَرُ إلَيهِ يَكونُ الرَّجُلُ أرْفَقَ بِعلاجِهِ مِن النِّسَاءِ، أيَصْلُحُ لهُ النَّظَرُ إلَيها؟ قَال: إذا اضْطُرَّتْ إلَيهِ فلْيُعالجْها إنْ
“Consider when a Muslim woman is ill, injured or a part of her body is broken in a place that cannot be looked at. If the male doctor is more expert in treating her than women, can he look at her body?” The Imam said: “If she is compelled to do it, then let him treat her if she wishes.”(1)
Another exception is looking at Bedouin women and those who live under the protection of Islam. There are two traditions on this issue in Chapter 112 of Wasa`il al-Shī`ah. Muhammad ibn Yaqoob quoted on the authority of Ali ibn Ibrahim on the authority of his father on the authority of al-Nawfeli on the authority of al-Sak’kooni on the authority of Imam Sadiq that God’s Prophet said:
لا حُرْمَةَ لِنِساءِ أهْلِ الذِّمَّةِ أنْ يُنْظَرَ إلى شُعُورِهِنَّ وَأَيْدِيهِنَّ.
“It is not forbidden to look at the hair or the hands of women who live under the protection of Islam.”(2)
Muhammad ibn Yaqoob quoted on the authority of some of the companions, on the authority of Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isa, on the authority of Ibn Mahboob, on the authority of Ibad ibn Sohayb, on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
لا بَأسَ بِالنَّظَرِ إلى رُؤوسِ أهْلِ تِهامَةَ وَالأعْرابِ وأهْلِ السَّوادِ والعُلوجِ لأنَّهُم إذا نُهُوا لا يَنْتَهونَ. (قال) والمَجْنُونَةُ وَالمَغْلوبَةُ على عَقْلِها لا بَأسَ بالنَّظَرِ إلى شَعْرِها وَجَسَدِها ما لمَ يَتَعَمَّدْ ذلِكَ.
“There is no harm in looking at the head and the hair of the people of Tihamah, Bedouin women, (women from) the people of the lowlands (of
Iraq) and infidels, since such women will not abstain (from displaying themselves) when they are forbidden.” (He said); “And there is no harm in looking at the hair and body of the possessed or mentally disturbed women as long as there are no bad intentions.”(1)
Imam Sajjad said: “Indeed sight is the gateway to learning.” Educational looks can help us learn and gain benefits. Haroun wrote to Imam Kazim :
“Please advise me tersely.” The Imam replied:
مَا مِنْ شَيءٍ تَراهُ عَينُكَ إلاّ وفِيهِ مَوعِظَةٌ.
“There is nothing on which you look in which there is no advice for you.”(2)
Imam Ali said:
مَا أكْثَرَ العِبَرَ وأَقَلَّ المُعْتَبِرَ.
“How many lessons are there to learn, and how few those who learn them!”(3)
He also said:
مَن اعْتَبَرَ أبْصَرَ ومَنْ أبْصَرَ فَهِمَ وَمَن فَهِمَ عَلِمَ.
“Whoever looks in order to learn will gain insight. Whoever gains insight will understand. Whoever understands will attain ranks of having knowledge.”(4)
There is a tradition that is about the time Imam Ali passed by the Mada’in palace and saw the ruins of the palace of Khosrow about to collapse. One of his companions remembered the poem by Ibn Ya’fur as follows: “Winds started blowing in their ruins as if they all had a meeting place to which they rush.” Then Imam Ali said: “Why did you not recite the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
كَمْ تَرَكُوا مِن جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ وَزُرُوعٍ وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ وَنَعْمَةٍ كَانُوا فِيهَا فَاكِهِينَ كَذَٰلِكَ ۖ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهَا قَوْمًا آخَرِينَ فَمَا بَكَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّمَاءُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَا كَانُوا مُنْظَرِينَ
“How many were the gardens and springs
they left behind, and corn-fields and noble buildings, and wealth (and conveniences of life), wherein they had taken such delight! Thus (was their end)! And We made other people inherit (those things)! And neither Heaven nor earth shed a tear over them: nor were they given a respite (again).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Dukhan 44:25-29]
These verses are related to Pharaoh and his tribe. They committed many atrocities but were finally destroyed. Their land and rule fell into the hands of the Israelites, they themselves sank at sea, and nothing could save them. Such events should be looked upon with an educational look, and we should learn from them.
Masoudi has recorded that when the agents of Mutawakkil forced their way into Imam Ali al-Naqi’s house to search and did not find anything they let Mutawakkil know that. He was drunk in his palace and ordered them to bring the Imam there. When the Imam was brought in, he respected him, had him sit next to himself and offered him a drink of wine.
The Imam said: “Excuse me. Wine has never entered into my blood and body.” Mutawakkil said: “Then tell me some poems.” The Imam said: “I am not acquainted with poetry.” Mutawakkil insisted. Then the Imam said some beautiful poems in Arabic as follows:
باتوا على قُلَلِ الأجْيالِ تَحْرِسُهُمْ غُلْبُ الرِّجالِ فَلَمْ تَنْفَعْهُمْ القُلَلِ
وَ اسْتُنْزِلُوا بَعُدَ عِزٍّ عَن مَعاقِلِهِمْ وَ اُسْكِنوا حُفْراً يا بِئسَ ما نَزَلوا
ناداهُمْ صارِخٌ مِنْ بَعْدِ دَفْنِهِمْ أينَ الأساوِرُ وُ التِّيْجانُ وَ الحُلَلُ
أينَ الوُجُوهُ الَّتِي كانَتْ
مُنَعَّمَةً مِن دونِها تُضْرَبُ الأسْتارُ وَ الكِلَلُ
فَأفْصَحَ القَبْرُ عَنْهُمْ حِينَ سائَلَهُمْ تِلْكَ الوُجُوهُ عَلَيها الدُّودُ تَنْتَقِلُ
قَدْ طالَما أكَلُوا دَهْراً وَ قَدْ شَرِبُوا فَأصْبَحُوا اليَومَ بَعْدَ الأكْلِِ قَدْ اُكِلُوا
“They lived at the highest points of their palaces for a while;
they were guarded there and protected by their especial guards;
however, these high points were of no use for them;
they fell down from their strong castles in which they lived with honor;
and became residents of the ditches of their graves;
How bad a place to which they descended;
after they were buried there, a call came;
as to what had happened to all those jewels, bracelets and crowns?;
What had happened to all those wealthy and happy faces?
They were forgotten and lost.
A call came from the grave responding;
that the faces have become homes for worms;
they were busy eating for a long time;
but their dawn came and they became eaten themselves.”(1)
When Mutawakkil heard these poems, he cried so hard that tears rained down on his face. Some even say that he put down his cup of wine. Yes, this is the outlook that can be educational. However, Mutawakkil did not gain any benefits from this lesson! The story of Orwe Salm has been quoted by Mohaddith Qumi on the authority of Imam Sadiq as follows:
“The Prophet David left his house while he was reading the Psalms, and birds and beasts were singing along with him. He went to a mountain where the worshipper called Ezekiel lived. He asked Ezekiel if he would let him in.
However, Ezekiel did not grant him permission to enter. David cried. Then God revealed to Ezekiel not to hurt David .
Thus, he let David enter. David asked him: “Have you ever decided to commit any sins?” He said: “No.” Then David asked: “Have you ever become proud of your deeds?” He said: “No.” David asked: “Have you ever become inclined to this world?” He said: “Yes.” Then David asked: “How then do you get rid of the love for this world?” He said: “I go to the valley.”
Then Ezekiel took David to the valley where there was a metal couch on which there was a skull. There was a tableau beside the couch on which it was written: “This is the skull of Orwe Salm. He ruled for one thousand years. He built one thousand towns. He married one thousand young women. He finally reached this point where the dirt is his bed and worms are his companions. Whoever sees this should not be fooled by this world.”(1) This is a lesson to take heed of.
The eye is a complex organ composed of many small parts, each vital to normal vision. The ability to see clearly depends on how well these parts work together. Light rays bounce off all objects. If a person is looking at a particular object such as a tree, light is reflected off the tree to the person’s eye and enters the eye through the cornea. Next, light rays pass through an opening in the iris,
called the pupil. The iris controls the amount of light entering the eye by dilating or constricting the pupil. In bright light, for example, the pupils shrink to the size of a pinhead to prevent too much light from entering. In dim light, the pupil enlarges to allow more light to enter the eye.
Light then reaches the crystalline lens. The lens focuses light rays onto the retina by bending (refracting) them. The cornea does most of the refraction and the crystalline lens fine-tunes the focus. In a healthy eye, the lens can change its shape (accommodate) to provide clear vision at various distances. If an object is close, the ciliary muscles of the eye contract and the lens becomes rounder. To see a distant object, the same muscles relax and the lens flattens.
Behind the lens and in front of the retina is a chamber called the vitreous body, which contains a clear, gelatinous fluid called vitreous humor. Light rays pass through the vitreous before reaching the retina. The retina lines the back two-thirds of the eye and is responsible for the wide field of vision that most people experience. For clear vision, light rays must focus directly on the retina. When light focuses in front of or behind the retina, the result is blurry vision.
The retina contains millions of specialized photoreceptor cells called rods and cones that convert light rays into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve. Rods and cones provide the ability to
see in dim light and to see in color, respectively.
The macula, located in the center of the retina, is where most of the cone cells are located. The fovea, a small depression in the center of the macula, has the highest concentration of cone cells. The macula is responsible for central vision, seeing color, and distinguishing fine detail. The outer portion (peripheral retina) is the primary location of rod cells and allows for night vision and seeing movement and objects to the side (i.e., peripheral vision).
The optic nerve, located behind the retina, transmits signals from the photoreceptor cells to the brain. Each eye transmits signals of a slightly different image, and the images are inverted. Once they reach the brain, they are corrected and combined into one image. This complex process of analyzing data transmitted through the optic nerve is called visual processing.
The stabilization of eye movement is accomplished by six extraocular muscles that are attached to each eyeball and perform their horizontal and vertical movements and rotation. These muscles are controlled by impulses from the cranial nerves that tell the muscles to contract or to relax. When certain muscles contract and others relax, the eye moves. The six muscles and their function are listed here:
1) Lateral rectus — moves the eye outward, away from the nose
2) Medial rectus — moves the eye inward, toward the nose
3) Superior rectus — moves the eye upward and slightly outward
4) Inferior rectus — moves the eye downward and slightly inward
5) Superior oblique —
moves the eye inward and downward
6) Inferior oblique — moves the eye outward and upward
There are five different types of eye movements:
1) Saccades — looking from object A to object B
2) Pursuit — smoothly following a moving object
3) Convergence/divergence — both eyes turning inward/outward simultaneously
4) Vestibular — eyes sensing and adjusting to head movement via connections with nerves in the inner ear
5) Fixation maintenance — minute eye movements during fixation
The eyelids are moveable folds of skin that protect the front surface of the eyes. They close the eyes and blink, which moistens the surface of the eyes and removes debris. The eyelashes (also called cilia) are hairs that grow at the edge of the eyelids and remove minute particles of debris away from the surface of the eyes. The conjunctiva is the thin, transparent, mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the front surface of the eyeballs. The section that lines the eyelids appears red in color because it contains many blood vessels. The section that covers the cornea appears white because of the sclera behind it.
Tears perform vitally important functions:
1) Carry bacteria-fighting compounds to the eye
2) Carry nutrients to and waste products away from the eye
3) Keep the eye moist
4) Provide a smooth refracting surface
5) Remove debris from the eye
Tear components are produced by the lacrimal gland, several other small glands, and cells within the eyelid. As the eyelid closes, tears are swept downward, toward the nose, and enter the puncta.(1) As the eyes blink, tears are forced
through narrow channels into the lacrimal sac. Once the muscles relax and the eye opens, the tears move from the sac to the nasolacrimal duct and into the nose. This accounts for stuffy, runny noses when crying.
Aqueous humor is nutritive watery fluid produced by the ciliary body through the ciliary body processes and secreted into the posterior chamber (i.e., space between the iris and the lens). It maintains pressure and provides nutrients to the lens and cornea. Aqueous humor diffuses through the pupil into the anterior chamber (between the lens and cornea) and is reabsorbed into the venous system by two routes:
1) Through the trabecular meshwork(1) into the canal of Schlemm, which carries it into the venous system: Responsible for 80–90% of aqueous drainage.
2) Through the anterior ciliary body directly into larger blood vessels:(2) Responsible for 10–20% of aqueous drainage.
Imam Khomeini said: “The compensation for two eyes is the same as the full compensation. There is half of full compensation for each eye. The compensation for one whose vision is blurry, is cross-eyed, sees double images, has small eyes, can see better at night than in the daytime, cannot see at night, or has another eye disease is the same as one whose eyes are perfect.
If there is a white spot in the black of the eye in such a way that his sight is not affected, then there is full compensation for damaging this eye. However, if the white spot in the black of the eye has limited the
person’s sight, there is partial compensation relative to the amount of vision for damaging the eye. This is so if it can be properly detected. If not, the compensation is somewhat in between.” (1)
We also read the following regarding the compensation for the eye: “The compensation for both eyes is equal to that of the whole person.”(2) Then it is written in the same source that there are no differences among the companions on this issue. The following tradition from Abdullah ibn San’an on the authority of Imam Sadiq also supports this: “The compensation for each organ of which man has a pair is half of both.”
Thus the compensation for each eye is half of full compensation and there is no difference between a perfect eye and a defective one in this respect.”(3) When the great Ayatollah Golpayegani was asked about the compensation for blinding one eye of a girl, he said: “The compensation for one eye of a female is half of the full compensation for a woman.” This implies that the worth of the eyes is equal to that of life.
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ رِجْلَيْكَ فَأَنْ لا تَمْشِي بهِمَا إلَى مَا لا يَحِلُّ لَكَ وَلا تَجْعَلْهُمَا مَطِيَّتَكَ فِي الطَّرِيقِ الْمُسْتَخِفَّةِ بأَهْلِهَا فِيهَا فَإنَّهَا حَامِلَتُكَ وَسَالِكَةٌ بكَ مَسْلَكَ الدِّينِ وَالسَّبْقُ لَكَ، وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا بالله.
And the right of your legs is that you walk not with them toward that which is unlawful for you. And you should not direct them in the way that will lead the person
they carry to being debased. Your legs will carry you in the direction of the religion and they will help you go ahead. And there is no power but in God.(1)
Almighty God says:
أَلَهُمْ أَرْجُلٌ يَمْشُونَ بِهَا أَمْ لَهُمْ أَيْدٍ يَبْطِشُونَ بِهَا أَمْ لَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا أَمْ لَهُمْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا قُلِ ادْعُواْ شُرَكَاءكُمْ ثُمَّ كِيدُونِ فَلاَ تُنظِرُونِ
“Have they feet to walk with? Or hands to lay hold with? Or eyes to see with? Or ears to hear with? Say: "Call your 'god-partners', scheme (your worst) against me, and give me no respite!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A’raf 7:195]
We also read:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُواْ مِمَّا فِي الأَرْضِ حَلاَلاً طَيِّباً وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
“O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the evil one, for he is to you an avowed enemy.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:168]
The Almighty God expresses twelve special characteristics of His special servants in Chapter Furqan of the Holy Qur’an. The first of these characteristics is regarding the way they walk as we read in the following verse:
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الَْأرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلامًا
“And the servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!"” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Furqan 25:63]
This means that they walk so calmly that they reject haughtiness.(2) Thus, the first characteristic of God’s especial servants is that they reject haughtiness, pride and
selfishness that can even become manifest in the way one walks. This is because man’s moral characteristics are usually displayed through his behavior.
The following verse revealed an important decree to the Prophet :
وَلاَ تَمْشِ فِي الأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولاً
“Nor walk on the earth with insolence: for thou canst not rend the earth asunder, nor reach the mountains in height.” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Isra’il 17:37]
This verse points out that haughty people stomp their feet on the ground so that others are informed when they walk. They raise their necks up to the sky so that they can show their superiority to others. The reason why some people get this way is that they forget themselves and become haughty.
In an interesting tradition from the Noble Prophet we read: “One day when the Prophet was walking in an alley he saw that people had gathered in one place. He asked for the reason. He was told that there was a mad man there and the people were attracted to his insane and funny acts. The Prophet called the people and said: Do you want me to introduce to you the very insane? Everyone was quiet and listened whole-heartedly. Then the Prophet said:
المُتَبَخْتِرُ في مَشْيِهِ، النّاظِرُ في عِطْفَيهِ، المحُرّكُ جَنْبَيهِ بِمِنْكَبَيهِ الّذي لا يُرجَى خَيرُهُ ولا يُؤمَنُ شَرُّهُ فَذلكَ المجَنُونُ، وَهذا المُبْتَلى.
The one who walks with pride, constantly looks on either side and throws up his shoulders as he walks, from whom good is not expected and
from whose evil people are not secure - that is the insane one. This man (whom you saw) is afflicted (with an illness)”.(1)
Humbleness does not mean that one should be lethargic when he walks. Rather one must be humble but take firm steps that show his determination and power.
There is a section on the way the Prophet walked in Makarim ul-Akhlaq. In one tradition in this section we read: Imam Ali said:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَآلِه إذا مَشى تَكَفّأَ تَكَفّؤاً كَأنَّمَا يَتَقَلَّعُ مِن صَبَبٍ، لمَ أَرَ قَبْلَهُ وَلا بَعْدَهُ مِثْلَهُ.
“When the Prophet walked he inclined forwards as if he was going downhill (even though he was not in a hurry). I never saw anyone else walk this way before or after him.”(2)
One of the companions of the Prophet said:
مَا رَأيْتُ أَحَداً أَسْرَعَ في مَشْيَتِهِ مِنْ رَسُولِ الله صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَآلِه كَأَنَّما الأرْضُ تُطْوَى لهُ وإنّا لَنَجْهَدُ أنفُسَنا وَإنّه لغَيرُ مُكْتَرِثٍ.
“I have never seen anyone walk faster than the Prophet did. It was as if the Earth was contracted for him. We would strive (to catch up with him) but he did not pay attention to it.”(3)
Ibn Abbas said:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَآلِه إذا مَشى مَشْياً يُعْرَفُ أنَّهُ لَيسَ بِمَشْيِ عاجِزٍ ولا بِكَسْلانَ.
“When the Prophet of God walked, he neither walked like one lacking in strength nor like the lethargic ones.”(4)
We read the following in the Holy Qur’an regarding Luqman’s will to his son:
وَلا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُحِبُّ
كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ
"And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for God loveth not any arrogant boaster.” [The Holy Qur’an, Luqman 31:18]
In the next verse we read:
وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ
"And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass." [The Holy Qur’an, Luqman 31:19]
We read in a tradition from the Prophet of God :
مَن مَشَى عَلى الأرْضِ اخْتِيالاً لَعَنَتْهُ الأرْضُ وَمَنْ تَحْتَها وَمَن فَوقَها.
“The Earth, everyone on it and everyone in it curse whoever walks with pride on the Earth.”(1)
In another tradition recorded in Amali we read that the Prophet admonished against walking with pride and haughtiness and said:
مَنْ لَبِسَ ثَوباً فاغْتَالَ فِيهِ خَسَفَ اللهُ بهِ مِن شَفِيرِ جَهَنَّمَ وَكانَ قَرينَ قارُونَ لأنَّهُ أوَّلُ مَن اخْتالَ فَخَسَفَ اللهُ بِهِ وَبِدارِه الأرْضَ.
“Wboever wears a garment and gets too proud and makes a show of it, then God will make him sink into edge of Hell. He will be the companion of Qarun (Korah), since Qarun was the first man who established haughtiness. God made him and his house sink into the earth.”(2)
We also read that Imam Sadiq said:
باب اَنَّ الإيمانَ مَبثوثٌ لجوارح البدن كلها: و رِجْلاَهُ اللّتانِ يَمشييِ بهما
“God has made faith incumbent upon all our body parts and has divided it amongst them. He has made it incumbent upon our legs not to walk towards committing sins, rather to walk in ways
to please God.”(1)
God the Almighty said in the Holy Qur’an:
الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
“That Day shall We set a seal on their mouths. But their hands will speak to us, and their feet bear witness, to all that they did.” [The Holy Qur’an, Ya-Sin 36:65]
He also said:
يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:24]
There have been various views on how the body parts will witness:
1 Some believe that on that Day God will make them understand and empower them to talk, and they will talk. It is not surprising for the Creator who initially created this power in us to create it in our body parts.
2 Some believe that on that Day God will only empower them to talk but they will not understand. They will just express the facts to God.
3 Others believe that our body parts will certainly carry the effects of what was done by them during our lifetime. The appearance of these effects is like them witnessing. This view can also be seen a lot in the day-to-day sayings like “your eyes witness to your not having slept.” A Persian poet said: “The color of the face witnesses about the secret within.”(2)
Regarding the rights of the legs Imam Sajjad said: “And the right of your legs is that you walk not with them toward that
which is unlawful to you. And you should not direct them in the way that will lead the person they carry to being debased.” Therefore, we must make an effort to help fulfill the believers’ needs if we want to improve ourselves. Ali ibn Ibrahim quoted on the authority of his father, on the authority of Himad, on the authority of Ibrahim ibn Omar Yamani, on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
مَا مِنْ مُؤمِنٍ يَمْشِي لأخِيهِ المُؤمِنِ في حَاجَةٍ إلاّ كَتَبَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لهُ بِكُلِّ خُطْوَةٍ حَسَنَةً وَحَطَّ عَنْهُ بِها سَيّئَةً وَرَفَعَ لهُ بِها دَرَجَةً.
“A believer does not move to help fulfill another believer’s needs but that God will record a good deed for him for every step he takes, and wipe out one of his wrong-doings and raise him in rank.”(1)
We also read in Makarim ul-Akhlaq that Imam Sajjad said:
“You have no escape from standing upon the narrow bridge (Al-Sirat [over Hell]), so you should see to it that your legs do not slip and cause you to fall into the Fire.”(2)
God informs us about this event in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
وَإِن مِّنكُمْ إِلَّا وَارِدُهَا كَانَ عَلَى رَبِّكَ حَتْمًا مَّقْضِيًّا ثُمَّ نُنَجِّي الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّنَذَرُ الظَّالِمِينَ فِيهَا جِثِيًّا
“Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished. But We shall save those who guarded against evil, and We shall leave the wrongdoers therein, (humbled) to their knees.”[The Holy Qur’an, Maryam 19:71-72]
There is extensive discussion
among the interpreters of the Qur’an regarding what is meant by the phrase “you shall all enter Hell” in this verse. Some believe that it means all the people will approach it whether they are good or bad. They believe that the good people will then be released, but the wicked ones will be placed there. They use the similarity in the wording in Arabic that is used in this verse, and that used in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an about Moses and what happened to him to support this view:
وَلَمَّا وَرَدَ مَاء مَدْيَنَ وَجَدَ
“And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan, he found…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qasas 28:23]
Others believe that this does not imply just an approach to Hell. Rather it means that all the people will enter Hell. However, believers are saved from the Fire and the unbelievers will remain there. The last sentence of the verse and the related traditions all support this view. Jabir ibn Abdullah was asked about this verse. He pointed to both his ears and said: I heard with both my ears that the Prophet said the following. May I get deaf from both ears if I lie:
الوُرودُ (يعني) الدُّخُول. لا يَبْقى بَرٌّ وَلا فاجِرٌ إلا يَدْخُلُها فَتَكُونُ عَلى المُؤمِنِينَ بَرداً وَسَلاماً كَما كانَتْ عَلى إبْراهِيمَ، حَتىّ أنَّ للنّارِ (أو قالَ: لِجَهَنَّمَ) ضَجِيجاً مِن بَرْدِها. ثُمَّ يُنَجِّي اللهُ الّذينَ اتَّقَوا وَيَذَرُ الظّالِمِينَ فِيها جِثِيّاً.
“Entry in this verse means really going in. There are no good-doers or bad-doers that will
not enter Hell. However, the Fire will cool off for the believers and it will be safe for them just as it was for Abraham, until the Fire [or he said: Hell] will cry out from (the excessive) cold. Then God will rescue the pious people and abandon the oppressors in it, in a state of humiliation.”(1)
In another tradition from the Prophet we read:
تَقُولُ النّارُ لِلمُؤمِنِ يَومَ القِيامَةِ: جُزْ يا مُؤْمِنُ، فقَدْ أطْفَأَ نُورُكَ لَهَبي
“On the Resurrection Day the Fire will tell the believer: “Pass through, O believer, for your light has extinguished my flames.”(2)
The other traditions regarding the Bridge over Hell that is finer than hair and sharper than a sword also support this view. In a tradition from the Prophet he said:
يَرِدُ النّاسُ النّارَ ثُمَّ يَصْدُرونَ بِأعْمالِهِم، فَأوَّلهُمُ كَلَمْعِ البَرْقِ ثُمَّ كَمَرِّ الرّيحِ ثُمّ كَحَضْرِ الفَرَسِ ثُمَّ كالرّاكِبِ ثُمّ كَشَدِّ الأرْجُلِ ثُمَّ كَمَشْيِه..
“All the people will enter Hell but leave it according to their deeds. Some come out like a flash of lightning, some come out with the speed of a strong wind, others will come running out like a fast-running horse. Some come out like a horse that is walking. Some will come out like a person that is walking fast and some leave it like a person walking at a normal speed.”(3)
The ankle is a complex mechanism. What we normally think of as the ankle is actually made up of two joints: the subtalar joint, and the true ankle joint. The true ankle joint is composed
of 3 bones, seen above from a front, or anterior, view: the tibia which forms the inside, or medial, portion of the ankle; the fibula which forms the lateral, or outside portion of the ankle; and the talus underneath. The true ankle joint is responsible for up and down motion of the foot.
Beneath the true ankle joint is the second part of the ankle, the subtalar joint, which consists of the talus on top and calcaneus on the bottom. The subtalar joint allows side-to-side motion of the foot. The ends of the bones in these joints are covered by articular cartilage. The major ligaments of the ankle are: the anterior tibiofibular ligament, which connects the tibia to the fibula.
The lateral collateral ligaments, which attach the fibula to the calcaneus and gives the ankle lateral stability; and, on the medial side of the ankle, the deltoid ligaments, which connect the tibia to the talus and calcaneus and provide medial stability. These components of your ankle, along with the muscles and tendons of your lower leg, work together to handle the stress your ankle receives as you walk, run and jump.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint where the head of the femur articulates with the cuplike acetabulum of the pelvic bone.
The bones of the knee, the femur and the tibia, meet to form a hinge joint. The joint is protected in front by the patella.(1) The knee joint is cushioned by articular cartilage that covers the ends of the tibia and femur,
as well as the underside of the patella. The lateral meniscus and medial meniscus are pads of cartilage that further cushion the joint, acting as shock absorbers between the bones. Ligaments help to stabilize the knee. The collateral ligaments run along the sides of the knee and limit sideways motion.
The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, connects the tibia to the femur at the center of the knee. Its function is to limit rotation and forward motion of the tibia. The posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL located just behind the ACL limits backward motion of the tibia. These components of your knee, along with the muscles of your leg, work together to manage the stress your knee receives as you walk, run and jump.
Now we will discuss the jurisprudents’ view on the value of the legs. Imam Sajjad gave us many useful moral suggestions regarding the rights of the legs. But the question here is the jurisprudents’ view on their worth. We read the following in Mabani Takmilat al-Minhaj: “There is full compensation for cutting off both legs. The compensation for each leg is half that amount. It does not make any difference whether the leg is cut off from the joints, the knees or the thighs.” (1)
There is full compensation for cutting off all the toes. We read the following in Mukhtasar ul-Manafi’: “There is full compensation for both legs. There is half compensation for each leg. The place where the legs meet the knees is the limit. The compensation
for the toes is the same as that for the fingers of the hands.”(1)
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ يَدِكَ فَأَنْ لا تَبْسُطَهَا إلَى مَا لا يَحِلُّ لَكَ فَتَنَالَ بمَا تَبْسُطُهَا إلَيْهِ مِنَ اللهِ الْعُقُوبَةَ فِي الآجِلِ، وَمِنَ النَّاسِ بلِسَانِ اللائِمَةِ فِي الْعَاجِلِ، وَلا تَقْبضَهَا مِمَّا افْتَرَضَ اللهُ عَلَيْهَا وَلَكِنْ تُوقّرَِهَا بقَبْضِهَا عَنْ كَثِيرٍ مِمَّا يَحِلُّ لَهَا وبَسْطِهَا إلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّا لَيسَ عَلَيْهَا، فَإذَا هِيَ قَدْ عُقِلَتْ وَشُرِّفَتْ فِي الْعَاجِلِ وَجَبَ لَهَا حُسْنُ الثَّوَاب فِي الآجِلِ.
And the right of your hand is that you stretch it not toward that which is unlawful to you. Should you do so, you will be chastised by God in the future. And you are not secure from the blameful tongue of the people now, either. Do not prevent your hands from performing what God has made obligatory for them. You should honor your hands in such a way as to prevent them from engaging in many of the deeds that are not allowed for them. You should let them engage in many deeds that are not harmful for them. If they are used by the intellect and with honor now, then they are bound to receive a good reward in the future.(2)
Hand is used in several contexts:
1 - It is sometimes used to represent possession of rule as in the following verse:
قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَن تَشَاء وَتَنزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَاء وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَاء وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَاء بِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ إِنَّكَ عَلَىَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Say: "O God! Lord of Power (and Rule), Thou givest
power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.” [The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran 3:26]
2 - In other places, it is used to indicate stinginess or generosity as in the following verse:
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ يَدُ اللّهِ مَغْلُولَةٌ غُلَّتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَلُعِنُواْ بِمَا قَالُواْ بَلْ يَدَاهُ مَبْسُوطَتَانِ يُنفِقُ كَيْفَ يَشَاء وَلَيَزِيدَنَّ كَثِيراً مِّنْهُم مَّا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ طُغْيَانًا وَكُفْرًا وَأَلْقَيْنَا بَيْنَهُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاء إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ كُلَّمَا أَوْقَدُواْ نَارًا لِّلْحَرْبِ أَطْفَأَهَا اللّهُ وَيَسْعَوْنَ فِي الأَرْضِ فَسَادًا وَاللّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ
The Jews say: "God's hand is tied up." Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth. But the revelation that cometh to thee from God increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war, God doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And God loveth not those who do mischief.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ma’ida 5:64]
3 - In other places, it is used to refer to possession of power as in the following verse:
وَاذْكُرْ عِبَادَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ أُولِي الْأَيْدِي وَالْأَبْصَارِ
“And commemorate Our Servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, possessors of Power and Vision.”
[The Holy Qur’an, Saad 38:45]
Even though our two hands are such important God-given blessings that have a compensation equal to full compensation for one’s life, they are also considered to be the source of corruption as we can read in the following verse:
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
“Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned, that (God) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from Evil).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Rum 30:41]
Undoubtedly crimes are committed using hands, and affect both the individuals and the society. There will also be reactions to these deeds. We read in the following verse:
وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ
“Whatever misfortune happens to you is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Shura 42:30]
Thus, we realize that many misfortunes that we experience are a direct result of our own deeds, and are sometimes divine punishment. We read in the following verse:
وَأَنفِقُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ وَأَحْسِنُوَاْ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
“And spend of your substance in the cause of God, and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for God loveth those who do good.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:195]
Therefore, we are admonished against doing evil deeds that will result in our own destruction.
We are encouraged to give charity and do good deeds. Sometimes we use our hands with which we must build our homes to destroy them as we read in the following verse:
هُوَ الَّذِي أَخْرَجَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مِن دِيَارِهِمْ لِأَوَّلِ الْحَشْرِ مَا ظَنَنتُمْ أَن يَخْرُجُوا وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُم مَّانِعَتُهُمْ حُصُونُهُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ فَأَتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَمْ يَحْتَسِبُوا وَقَذَفَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الرُّعْبَ يُخْرِبُونَ بُيُوتَهُم بِأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَيْدِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فَاعْتَبِرُوا يَا أُولِي الْأَبْصَارِ
“It is He Who got out the Unbelievers among the People of the Book from their homes at the first gathering (of the forces). Little did ye think that they would get out: And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from God! But the (Wrath of) God came to them from quarters from which they little expected (it), and cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their dwellings by their own hands and the hands of the Believers. Take warning, then, O ye with eyes (to see)!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Hashr 59:2]
This verse refers to the Jews who destroyed their own castles from within. It may also have some philosophical connotations.
The most painful aspect of the story of the two sons of Adam is the murdering of one by the other. When God accepted the offering from one of them but rejected that of the other one, the latter threatened to kill the former. In response the brother said:
لَئِنْ بَسَطْتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِي مَا أَنَا بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِيَ إِلَيْكَ لِأَقْتُلَكَ ۖ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ
thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear God, the Cherisher of the Worlds.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Mai’da 5:28]
Now let us look at the traditions about hands. In Usul al-Kafi, there is a whole chapter on the hand and other body parts, and what God has made incumbent upon them. Imam Sadiq said:
وَفَرَضَ اللهُ عَلى اليَدَينِ أنْ لا يَبْطِشَ بِهِما إلى مَا حَرَّمَ اللهُ وأنْ يَبْطِشَ بِهِما إلى ما أَمَرَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَفَرَضَ اللهُ عَليْهِما مِنَ الصَّدَقَةِ وَصِلَةِ الرَّحِمِ والجِهادِ في سَبِيلِ اللهِ والطَّهُورِ للصَّلاةِ
“And God made it incumbent upon the hands not to extend out for what God has forbidden, and do what the Almighty God has decreed for them including giving charity, establishing the ties of kinship, fighting in the way of God, and making ablutions for the prayers.”(1)
Then Imam Sadiq recited the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلاةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُواْ بِرُؤُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَينِ
“O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads; and your feet to the ankles…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Mai’da 5:6]
There are several uses for hands mentioned in the Qur’an. We will briefly refer to some of them here.
The hand is used to pledge allegiance to someone. Consider the following verse in this regard:
لَقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ
يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ فَأَنزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا
“God's Good Pleasure was on the Believers when they swore Fealty to thee under the Tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down Tranquility to them; and He rewarded them with a speedy Victory.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Fath 48:18]
Usually hand-shaking is used in making a deal. It is also used to declare one’s allegiance to someone, and one’s readiness to acknowledge his power and to obey him. This is a form of a deal which brings mutual responsibilities. One accepts to obey the other, and the other one accepts to protect and defend him. Ibn Khaldoon wrote: “When they wanted to pledge allegiance with the leader, they placed their hands in his hands, like what a seller and a buyer do.”(1)
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُبَايِعُونَكَ إِنَّمَا يُبَايِعُونَ اللَّهَ يَدُ اللَّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ فَمَن نَّكَثَ فَإِنَّمَا يَنكُثُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ أَوْفَى بِمَا عَاهَدَ عَلَيْهُ اللَّهَ فَسَيُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيما
“Verily those who plight their fealty to thee do no less than plight their fealty to God: the Hand of God is over their hands: then anyone who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, and anyone who fulfils what he has covenanted with God, - God will soon grant him a great Reward.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Fath 48:10]
This pledge of allegiance by the men was done by shaking hands. However, for women to pledge allegiance, a bowl of water was used to provide an
intermediate media. The Prophet would put his hands in water, and the women would touch the water to pledge allegiance to him. The pledge of allegiance of the people with the Prophet and the Immaculate Imams was meant to indicate their loyalty to them, and its breach was considered a great sin. Imam Musa ibn Ja’far said:
ثَلاثٌ مُوبِقاتٌ: نَكْثُ الصَّفْقَةِ وَتَرْكُ السُّنَّةِ وَفِراقُ الجَماعَةِ.
“There are three sins which will cause one’s destruction: breaching one’s allegiance, abandoning the tradition (of the Prophet), and separation of oneself from the society.”(1)
We do not intend to discuss all aspects of allegiance here. It is sufficient to note that the hands are used to pledge allegiance
One of the uses for hands mentioned in the Qur’an is the payment of ‘Jizyah’. ‘Jizyah’ is a form of tax paid by the non-Muslims who live under the protection of the Islamic state. The tax is paid in return for the protection they receive. We read in the following verse:
قَاتِلُواْ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَلاَ بِالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَلاَ يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلاَ يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُواْ الْجِزْيَةَ عَن يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ
“Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Tawbah 9:29]
The payment of this tax is
an indication of submission to the decrees of Islam and the Holy Qur’an. It is a form of tax on individuals, not their land or property. Several treaties have been signed regarding this issue. We cite one as an example here. In the treaty between Khalid ibn Walid and the Christians we read: “This is a letter from Khalid ibn Walid to Salvaba ibn Nastoofa(1) and his tribe.
I sign this treaty with you for tax and defense. Based on this treaty, you are under our protection. We can charge you this tax as long as we protect you. Otherwise, we have no rights. This treaty is signed in the month of Safar of the twelfth year after the migration of the Prophet to Medina.”(2)
The hand is composed of many small bones called carpals, metacarpals and phalanges. The two bones of the lower arm - the radius and the ulna - meet at the hand to form the wrist.
The median and ulnar nerves are the major nerves of the hand, running the length of the arm to transmit electrical impulses to and from the brain to create movement and sensation.
The skeleton of the hand is subdivided into three segments: the carpus or wrist bones; the metacarpus or bones of the palm; and the phalanges or bones of the digits.
The carpal bones, eight in number, are arranged in two rows. Those of the proximal row, from the radial to the ulnar side, are named the navicular, lunate, triangular, and pisiform; those of
the distal row, in the same order, are named the greater multangular, lesser multangular, capitate, and hamate.
Each bone (excepting the pisiform) presents six surfaces. Of these the volar or anterior and the dorsal or posterior surfaces are rough, for ligamentous attachment; the dorsal surfaces being the broader, except in the navicular and lunate. The superior or proximal, and inferior or distal surfaces are articular, the superior generally convex, the inferior concave; the medial and lateral surfaces are also articular where they are in contact with contiguous bones, otherwise they are rough and tuberculated. The structure in all is similar, viz., cancellous tissue enclosed in a layer of compact bone.
The navicular bone is the largest bone of the proximal row. It has received its name from its fancied resemblance to a boat. It is situated at the radial side of the carpus, its long axis being from above downward, sideways, and forward. The superior surface is convex, smooth, of triangular shape, and articulates with the lower end of the radius. The inferior surface, directed downward, sideways, and backward, is also smooth, convex, and triangular, and is divided by a slight ridge into two parts, the lateral articulating with the greater multangular, the medial with the lesser multangular.
On the dorsal surface is a narrow, rough groove, which runs the entire length of the bone, and serves for the attachment of ligaments. The volar surface is concave above, and elevated at its lower and lateral part into a rounded projection, the tubercle, which
is directed forward, provides attachment to the transverse carpal ligament, and sometimes is the origin to a few fibers of the abductor pollicis brevis.
The lateral surface is rough and narrow, and provides attachment to the radial collateral ligament of the wrist. The medial surface presents two articular facets; of these, the superior or smaller is flattened of semilunar form, and articulates with the lunate bone; the inferior or larger is concave, forming with the lunate a concavity for the head of the capitate bone.
The lunate bone may be distinguished by its deep concavity and crescentic outline. It is situated in the center of the proximal row of the carpus, between the navicular and triangular. The superior surface, convex and smooth, articulates with the radius. The inferior surface is deeply concave, and of greater extent from before backward than transversely: it articulates with the head of the capitate, and, by a long, narrow facet (separated by a ridge from the general surface), with the hamate. The dorsal and volar surfaces are rough, for the attachment of ligaments, the former being the broader, and of a somewhat rounded form. The lateral surface presents a narrow, flattened, semilunar facet for articulation with the navicular. The medial surface is marked by a smooth, quadrilateral facet, for articulation with the triangular.
The triangular bone may be distinguished by its pyramidal shape, and by an oval isolated facet for articulation with the pisiform bone. It is situated at the upper and ulnar side of the carpus. The
superior surface presents a medial, rough, non-articular portion, and a lateral convex articular portion that articulates with the triangular articular disk of the wrist. The inferior surface, directed sideways, is concave, sinuously curved, and smooth for articulation with the hamate.
The dorsal surface is rough for the attachment of ligaments. The volar surface presents, on its medial part, an oval facet, for articulation with the pisiform; its lateral part is rough for ligamentous attachment. A flat, quadrilateral facet, for articulation with the lunate, marks the lateral surface, the base of the pyramid. The medial surface, the summit of the pyramid, is pointed and roughened, for the attachment of the ulnar collateral ligament of the wrist.
The pisiform bone may be known by its small size, and by presenting a single articular facet. It is situated on a plane anterior to the other carpal bones and is spheroidal in form. Its dorsal surface presents a smooth, oval facet, for articulation with the triangular: this facet approaches the superior, but not the inferior border of the bone. The volar surface is rounded and rough, and gives attachment to the transverse carpal ligament, and to the Flexor carpi ulnaris and Abductor digiti quinti. The lateral and medial surfaces are also rough, the former being concave, the latter usually convex.
The Greater Multangular Bone (os multangulum majus; trapezium)—The greater multangular bone may be distinguished by a deep groove on its volar surface. It is situated at the radial side of the carpus, between the navicular and the
first metacarpal bone. The superior surface is directed upward and towards the middle; medially it is smooth, and articulates with the navicular; laterally it is rough and continuous with the lateral surface. The inferior surface is oval, and forms a saddle-shaped surface for articulation with the base of the first metacarpal bone.
The dorsal surface is rough. The volar surface is narrow and rough. At its upper part is a deep groove, running from above obliquely downward and towards the middle; it transmits the tendon of the Flexor carpi radialis, and is bounded laterally by an oblique ridge. This surface gives origin to the Opponens pollicis and to the Abductor and Flexor pollicis brevis; it also affords attachment to the transverse carpal ligament. The lateral surface is broad and rough, for the attachment of ligaments. The medial surface presents two facets; the upper, large and concave, articulates with the lesser multangular; the lower, small and oval, with the base of the second metacarpal.
The lesser multangular is the smallest bone in the distal row. It may be known by its wedge-shaped form, the broad end of the wedge constituting the dorsal, the narrow end the volar surface; and its four articular facets touching each other, and separated by sharp edges. The superior surface, quadrilateral, smooth, and slightly concave, articulates with the navicular. The inferior surface articulates with the proximal end of the second metacarpal bone; it is convex from side to side, concave from before backward and subdivided by an elevated ridge
into two unequal facets.
The dorsal and volar surfaces are rough for the attachment of ligaments, the former being the larger of the two. The lateral surface, convex and smooth, articulates with the greater multangular. The medial surface is concave and smooth in front, for articulation with the capitate; rough behind, for the attachment of an interosseous ligament.
The capitate bone is the largest of the carpal bones, and occupies the center of the wrist. It presents, above, a rounded portion or head, which is received into the concavity formed by the navicular and lunate; a constricted portion or neck; and below this, the body. The superior surface is round, smooth, and articulates with the lunate. The inferior surface is divided by two ridges into three facets, for articulation with the second, third, and fourth metacarpal bones, that for the third being the largest. The dorsal surface is broad and rough. The volar surface is narrow, rounded, and rough, for the attachment of ligaments and a part of the Adductor pollicis obliquus.
The lateral surface articulates with the lesser multangular by a small facet at its anterior inferior angle, behind which is a rough depression for the attachment of an interosseous ligament. Above this is a deep, rough groove, forming part of the neck, and serving for the attachment of ligaments; it is bounded superiorly by a smooth, convex surface, for articulation with the navicular. The medial surface articulates with the hamate by a smooth, concave, oblong facet, which occupies its posterior and
superior parts; it is rough in front, for the attachment of an interosseous ligament.
The hamate bone may be readily distinguished by its wedge-shaped form, and the hook-like process which projects from its volar surface. It is situated at the medial and lower angle of the carpus, with its base downward, resting on the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones, and its apex directed upward and lateralward. The superior surface, the apex of the wedge, is narrow, convex, smooth, and articulates with the lunate.
The inferior surface articulates with the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones by concave facets that are separated by a ridge. The dorsal surface is triangular and rough for ligamentous attachment. The volar surface presents, at its lower and ulnar side, a curved, hook-like process, the hamulus, directed forward and sideways. This process gives attachment, by its apex, to the transverse carpal ligament and the Flexor carpi ulnaris; by its medial surface to the Flexor brevis and Opponens digiti quinti; its lateral side is grooved for the passage of the Flexor tendons into the palm of the hand.
It is one of the four eminences on the front of the carpus to which the transverse carpal ligament of the wrist is attached; the others being the pisiform medially, the oblique ridge of the greater multangular and the tubercle of the navicular laterally. The medial surface articulates with the triangular bone by an oblong facet, cut obliquely from above, downward and medialward. The lateral surface articulates with the capitate by its upper
and posterior part, the remaining portion being rough, for the attachment of ligaments.
In Islamic jurisprudence the hands are so highly valued that one-half of full compensation is decreed for each one. The compensation for both hands is equal to full compensation for one’s life: “The compensation for chopping off both hands is equal to the full compensation for one’s life. The compensation for each hand is half of that amount. There is no discord among the jurisprudents on this issue.”(1)
There are many traditions to support this. We can refer to the traditions that hold that there is full compensation for body parts of which we have two, like the eyes, the hands and the legs. Hisham ibn Salim quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq : “There is full compensation for parts of which we have two, and half compensation for each.”(2)
Imam Khomeini said: “There is full compensation for both hands. There is half compensation for each hand. The left or the right hands are not any different in this respect. There is half compensation for one who only has one hand either through birth or through losing one hand before.”(3)
He also said: “What is the extent of the hand that is so valuable? It extends from the joints that connect the palm of the hand to the wrist. The compensation for the fingers is half of full compensation too.” (4)
It was said that the blood money to compensate for both hands is equal to that for one’s life.
Once Abu’l-`Ala`al-Ma`arri went to see Sayyid Morteza to object to the chopping off of fingers as a penalty for theft. He said: “How is it they chop-off a hand worth five hundred Mithqals(1) of gold for stealing only one quarter of a Dinar?” Abu’l ‘Ala who was an infidel did not agree with this ruling.
Then Sayyid Morteza replied: “The nobility of trustworthiness has raised the value of the hand, but the humility of treachery reduces it. Then try to understand the Wisdom of your Lord.” In another reference the reply is recorded as: “It is the guarding of property that has raised the value of the hand, but transgression of property reduces its value. Then try to ponder over the Wisdom of your Lord.” There was another man present who replied: “The hand is highly valued when it is oppressed. But it loses its value when it oppresses.”
There are many other sayings in this regard which all support the idea that the hand is valuable as long as it is trustworthy, but it loses its value when used in treachery, for stealing or oppression.(2)
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ بَطْنِكَ فَأَنْ لا تَجْعَلَهُ وِعَاءً لِقَلِيلٍ مِنَ الْحَرَامِ وَلا لِكَثِيرٍ، وَأَنْ تَقْتَصِدَ لَهُ فِي الْحَلالِ وَلا تُخرِجَهُ مِنْ حَدِّ التَّقْوِيَةِ إلَى حَدِّ التَّهْوِينِ وَذَهَاب الْمُرُوَّةِ، وَضَبْطُهُ إذَا هَمَّ بالْجُوعِ والظمأ فَإنَّ الشَّبْعَ الْمُنْتَهِي بصَاحِبهِ إلَى التُّخمِ مَكْسَلَةٌ وَمَثْبَطَةٌ وَمَقْطَعَةٌ عَنْ كُلِّ برِّ وَكَرَمٍ. وَإنَّ الري الْمُنْتَهِي بصَاحِبهِ إلَى السُّكْرِ مَسْخَفَةٌ وَمَجْهَلَةٌ وَمَذْهَبَةٌ لِلْمُرُوَّةِ.
And the right of your stomach is that you make
it not into a container for a little of that which is unlawful to you or a lot of it. You should be determined to eat what is lawful and not exceed the bounds of strengthening to the extent of belittling your stomach(1) to the point that you lose your manliness. And you should restrain it whenever you are extremely hungry or thirsty, since getting really full will cause indigestion, sluggishness, indolence, and it will hinder you from nobility and any good deeds. And drinking too much will make you feel drunk, light-headed, ignorant, and take away your manliness.
Imam Sajjad has described our stomach as a container for food that we must fill with moderation. We must only fill it with legitimate foods and drinks. We should do all we can to strengthen ourselves, but we should not forget moderation.
All men need food. We cannot survive if our food supplies are cut off. Some people thought that the Prophet did not need to eat food. The Holy Qur’an rejects this idea and says:
وَمَا جَعَلْنَاهُمْ جَسَدًا لَّا يَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُوا خَالِدِينَ
“Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Anbiyaa 21:8]
In another verse of the Holy Qur’an we read:
وَقَالُوا مَالِ هَذَا الرَّسُولِ يَأْكُلُ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشِي فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مَلَكٌ فَيَكُونَ مَعَهُ نَذِيرًا
“And they say: "What sort of an apostle is this, who eats food, and walks through the streets? Why has not an angel been sent down to
him to give admonition with him?” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Furqan 25:7]
The Qur’an instructs us to think about our need to eat:
ثُمَّ شَقَقْنَا الْأَرْضَ شَقًّا أَنَّا صَبَبْنَا الْمَاءَ صَبًّا فَلْيَنْظُرِ الْإِنْسَانُ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِهِ
“Then let man look at his food, (and how We provide it): For that We pour forth water in abundance, and We split the earth in fragments…” [The Holy Qur’an, Abasa 80:24-26]
The food we eat becomes the closest thing to us. After we eat something, it changes somewhat and part of it gets absorbed and turns into energy and some of it is taken to our cells or stored somewhere in the body and becomes a part of us. We will die of hunger if we cannot get enough food to eat. That is why the Holy Qur’an has placed a special emphasis on food ingredients, and more importantly on plants and vegetables. Have you thought about what is meant by “let man look at his food” in the above verse?
Obviously, it does not mean that we should just look and see what we eat. This means that we should carefully study the structure and makeup of our foods’ ingredients, and consider how each affects our body. Then we should think about how food is prepared for us by God through a renewable cycle of creation. Some people have stressed the need to consider whether it is obtained legitimately or not.
In the traditions from the Immaculate Imams the food for the mind has been stressed - that is
we should be careful about how we acquire our knowledge. Imam Baqir said: “You should carefully consider from whom you acquire knowledge.”(1)
Imam Sadiq has also stressed this point. When we look at the verse and see what follows in the above verse, we can realize that food for the body is implied, because there is a discussion of rain, splitting the earth, and the flourishing of plants which make up our food. Of course, we should consider both - food for the body and food for the mind. We should see how revelations to the hearts of the Prophets bear fruits that are then stored in the hearts of the Immaculate Imams . Then this knowledge pours out, reaches the hearts of the believers, and yields the fruits of faith and piety.(2)
There are several verses in the Holy Qur’an regarding the creation of foods and drinks.
أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تَحْرُثُونَ أَأَنْتُمْ تَزْرَعُونَهُ أَمْ نَحْنُ الزَّارِعُونَ لَوْ نَشَاء لَجَعَلْنَاهُ حُطَامًا فَظَلْتُمْ تَفَكَّهُونَ
“See ye the seed that ye sow in the ground? Is it ye that cause it to grow, or are We the Cause? Were it Our Will, We could crumble it to dry powder, and ye would be left in wonderment.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Waqi`ah 56:63-65]
Notice how it is stressed that the people plant the seeds in the ground, but it is God who makes them grow. The Prophet said:
لا يَقُولَنَّ أحَدُكُم "زَرَعْتُ" وَلْيَقُلْ "حَرَثْتُ،" فإنَّ الزَّارِعَ هُوَ اللهُ.
“Do not say: I grew the plants. Say: I planted the seeds. This is
because it is God who makes them grow.”(1)
Thus, we are reminded that God is the Creator of all things. If He wills, He can destroy whatever we plant.
In the next verse, we can see the stress on the creation and source of the water that we drink:
أفَرَأَيْتُمُ الْمَاءَ الَّذِي تَشْرَبُونَ أَأَنْتُمْ أَنْزَلْتُمُوهُ مِنَ الْمُزْنِ أَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنْزِلُونَ لَوْ نَشَاءُ جَعَلْنَاهُ أُجَاجًا فَلَوْلَا تَشْكُرُونَ
“See ye the water which ye drink? Do ye bring it down (in rain) from the cloud or do We? Were it Our Will, We could make it salt (and unpalatable): then why do ye not give thanks?” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Waqi’ah 56:68-70]
Here we are called in to judge ourselves on who creates water and brings down the rain, makes the rivers flow, makes the plants grow, and produces our food. Hopefully we can realize the Majesty of God.
Scientists agree that food has both good and bad physical and psychological effects on us. Research laboratories are well-equipped to measure the chemical composition of foodstuff and how they affect our body. However, the psychological effects of what we eat have not yet been totally measured. Imam Sadiq said:
إنَّ اللهَ تَبارَكَ وَتَعالى لمَ يُبِحْ أكْلاً وَلا شُرْباً إلاّ لِمَا فِيهِ المَنْفَعَةُ وَالصَّلاحُ، وَلمَ يُحَرِّمْ إلاّ ما فِيهِ الضَّرَرُ وَالتَّلَفُ وَالفَسادُ.
“The Almighty God only allowed some things for us to eat and drink due to their benefit and good effects on us, and only forbade us some things due to their harmfulness and ill effects.”(2)
The leaders of Islam have all been
concerned about the good and bad physical and psychological effects of what we eat and drink.
Imam Sadiq expressed the reason why it is forbidden to drink blood:
)شِربُ الدَّم) يُسِيءُ الخُلُقَ وُيُورِثُ القَسْوَةَ لِلقَلْبِ وَقِلَّةَ الرّأفَةِ وَالرَّحمَةِ وَلا يُؤمَنُ أنْ يُقْتَلَ وَلَدُهُ وَوالِدُهُ.
“Drinking blood will make you bad-tempered and ruthless. It will reduce your kindness and mercy so much that you might even kill your own son or father.”(1)
Imam Sadiq expressed the reason why we are forbidden to drink wine or alcoholic drinks:
إنَّ مُدْمِنَ الخَمْرِ كَعابِدِ وَثَنٍ، ويُورِثُهُ الارْتِعاشَ وَيَهْدِمُ مُرُوَّتَهُ وَتَحْمِلُهُ عَلى أنْ يَجْسُرَ عَلى المَحَارِمِ مِنْ سَفْكِ الدِّماءِ وَرُكوبِ الزِّنا، وَلا يُؤْمَنُ إذا سَكِرَ إنْ يَثِبَ عَلى مَحارِمِهِ.
“An alcoholic is like an idol-worshipper. It (alcohol) causes him to tremble and his manliness is destroyed. It induces him to venture into what is forbidden such as bloodshed and fornication. Moreover, even his closest relatives are not secure from being molested by him when he is drunk.”(2)
Alcohol can easily enter the bloodstream after consumption and can quickly spread throughout the body. Alcohol has a profound effect on almost every organ and system in the body.(3)
1 Alcohol will influence our brain(4) and disable our brain cells. It might cause the rupturing of the tine blood veins, coagulation of blood, or stoppage of the circulation of blood in the brain. Thus, it will lead to a partial or a severe brain stroke that will sometimes cause a drop in blood pressure and result in paralysis.(5)
2 Alcohol will cause various illnesses such as shaking
of the hands or the feet, lack of control of our body parts,(1) and weakness of our senses.(2) It also causes insomnia.(3)
3 Alcohol will harm the tongue and our sense of taste. It will reduce the amount of saliva and cause a disorder in its reproduction. It will also cause stomach upset, indigestion, throwing up mixed with clogged blood. It will cause many illnesses in our stomach and intestine and result in ulcer and serious diarrhea.
4 It will weaken the liver,(4) and cause it to swell. It will harden the kidneys and cause pain in the stomach. It might even cause jaundice.(5)
5 Alcohol is not usable in the body. Therefore, if we drink, it will enter our blood stream and destroy the white blood cells. It might even cause such a drop in our blood pressure that we might have a brain stroke.
6 One of the major ill effects of drinking alcohol is its influence on the lungs. Alcohol will travel along with our blood stream into our lungs, and it will irritate the lung and cause it to swell. This will result in destruction of calcium and end in tuberculosis.
7 Another ill effect of drinking alcohol is damage to the cardiovascular system.(6)
Alcoholic drinks are the main cause of insanity. The statistics(7) show that most insane people are those who have been drinking for many years in their life. There are nearly two hundred thousand such cases in France. Nearly ninety percent of the insanities in England have been alcohol
Alcohol has a bad effect on the cells of a baby. A German scientist has proved that this influence will genetically affect three generations, even if they do not drink.(2) That is why Islam has forbidden drinking alcohol. Imam Sajjad stressed that we should keep our stomachs void of forbidden things. The Prophet said:
مَلْعونٌ مَنْ جَلَسَ عَلى مَائِدَةٍ يُشْرَبُ عَلَيها الخَمْرُ.
“Whoever sits with those who are drinking is deprived of God’s Mercy.”(3)
Ayatollah Dastghayb quoted from Sayyid Abul Ali Mawdoody’s Tanghīĥ: “The U.S. government used many ways to fight alcoholism. It used magazines, newspapers, lectures, and seminars, even movies to combat alcoholism. It spent more than eight million dollars, and published more than ten million pages of advertisement against it. Over a period of fourteen years, it spent over two hundred fifty million dollars to enforce the law to abolish alcoholic beverages.
It imprisoned three hundred and thirty-five persons, fined people over sixteen million dollars, and seized over four hundred and fifty million dollars’ worth of property. All this was of no use. It finally gave up and abolished that law in 1932 and totally freed drinking alcohol.”(4)
On the other hand, even though drinking alcoholic beverages was like drinking water for the Arabs in the Age of Ignorance, when Islam came it forbade drinking alcohol and abolished it in a very short time. Thus, it saved Muslims from all the ill effects of alcohol and alcoholism. Scientists today are well aware of the physical effects of alcohol. However, they cannot measure its
moral impacts on the loss of manliness and moral values.
Some people are careful about the cleanliness of their living quarters, and the suitability of their food. Should they suspect the least bit of poisoning in their food, they will refuse to eat it. However, they do not care at all about their spiritual well-being, and listen to anything. Imam Ali said:
مَالي أرَى النّاسَ إذا قُرِّبَ إلَيهِمُ الطّعامُ تَكَلَّفوا إنَارَةَ المَصابِيحِ لِيُبصِروا ما يُدْخِلونَ بُطونَهُم ولا يَهْتَمّونَ بِغِذاءِ النَّفْسِ بأنْ يُنِيروا مصَابِيحَ ألْبابِهِم بِالعِلْمِ لِيَسْلَمُوا مِن لَواحِقِ الجَهَالَةِ وَالذُّنوبِ في اعْتِقادَاتِهِم وَأعْمالِهِم؟
“I am amazed at the people who turn on the light to see what they eat when they want to dine in the dark, but do not care about food for their mind. They do not care to illuminate their intellect with the light of knowledge to be safe from making mistakes out of ignorance and wrong beliefs.”(1)
Imam Hasan said:
عَجِبتُ لمَنْ يَتَفَكَّرُ في مأكولِهِ كَيفَ لا يَتَفَكَّرُ في مَعْقولِهِ فَيُجَنِّبَ بَطْنَهُ ما يُؤذِيه وَيُودِعَ صَدْرَهُ ما يُرْدِيهِ!
“I am amazed at the people who consider what they eat but do not think about the food for their mind. They guard their stomachs from harmful things, but do not guard their hearts and minds against things that will harm them.”
There are many traditions in Islam about proper diet, and proper things to eat or drink. There is a lot of information about useful or harmful meats, fats, sweets, confectioneries, beans and vegetables. Suayd ibn Ghofleh went to see Imam Ali once at
He narrated: “I saw that Imam Ali was sitting down around the tablecloth with a dried piece of bread made of whole barley. I went to his servants and asked them why they were so inconsiderate not to grind the barley to make flour for the bread for the Imam . They said it was based on his personal orders. Then I returned to the Imam and asked him the reason. Imam Ali said that he had learned this from the Prophet .”(1) Imam Sadiq said: “Solomon’s bread was made of whole barley.”(2)
Ahmad ibn Harun went to see Imam Ridha . Imam Ridha ordered food to be served. They spread the tablecloth and brought some food. There were no fresh green vegetables there. The Imam did not eat, and told his servant: “Do you know that I will not eat unless there are some green vegetables on the table? Go and bring some.” Then the servant went and brought some green vegetables, and the Imam started to eat.”(3)
The Almighty God said in the Qur’an:
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُواْ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ
“O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for God loveth not the wasters.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A’raf 7:31]
It has been proved that this is the most important advice for our health. Scientists have done extensive research and have concluded that the roots of many diseases lie
in excess food not being absorbed and remaining in the body. This excess fat causes an excessive pressure on the heart. It also serves as a ready place for various infections and diseases. Therefore, the first step to achieve health is to burn off all excessive fat. The main cause of this fat accumulation in the body is overeating and wastefulness. Therefore, we should eat moderately to avoid this ugly condition.
Sheikh Tabarsi wrote in Majma’ul Bayan that Haroon ul-Rashid had a Christian doctor in his court. He was a renowned doctor. Once he told one of his Muslim assistants: “I can see no traces of medical advice in your heavenly Book while the most useful knowledge is that of religion and the body.” The Muslim scholar replied: “God the Almighty has summarized all of medicine into one-half of a verse and has said:
ٍ وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ
“Eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for God loveth not the wasters.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A’raf 7:31]
The Prophet has also given the following medical advice:
المَعِدَةُ بَيتُ الأدْواءِ وَالحِمْيَةُ رَأسُ كُلِّ دَواءٍ وَأعْطِ كُلَّ بَدَنٍ مَا عَوَّدْتَهُ.
“The stomach is the home for all illnesses. Abstinence is the best drug, and give your body what you have made it accustomed to.”
The Christian doctor said: “Your Book and your Prophet have left nothing for Jalinus(1) in medicine.”(2)
The Noble Prophet said:
الأَكْلُ عَلى الشَّبْعِ يُورِثُ البَرَصَ.
“Eating beyond satiation will cause leprosy.”(3)
He also said:
لا تُمِيتوا القُلُوبَ بِكَثْرَةِ الطَّعَامِ وَالشَّرَابِ، فَإنّ القُلوبَ تَمُوتُ كَالزُّروعِ إذا
كَثُرَ عَلَيها المَاءُ.
“Do not cause your hearts to die by overeating or over-drinking. Hearts die just as crops do when they are over-watered.”(1)
The Prophet said:
مَن أَكَلَ لُقْمَةَ حَرامٍ لمَ تُقْبَلْ لهُ صَلاةٌ أرْبَعِينَ ليَلةً وَلمَ تُسْتَجَبْ لَهُ دَعْوَةٌ أرْبَعِينَ صَباحاً، فَكُلُّ لحْمٍ يُنْبِتُهُ الحَرامُ فَالنَّارُ أوْلى بهِ
“The prayers of one who eats a morsel of what is forbidden will not be accepted for forty nights and his calls and supplications will not be answered for forty days. Flesh grown from forbidden food deserves to be burnt in the Fire.”(2)
The Prophet said:
إذَا وَقَعَتِ اللُقْمَةُ مِن حَرامٍ في جَوفِ العَبْدِ لَعَنَهُ كُلُّ مَلَكٍ في السَّماوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ، وَما دَامَتِ اللُّقْمَةُ في جَوفِهِ لا يَنْظُرُ اللهُ إليَهِ، وَمَنْ أَكَلَ لقْمَةً مِن الحَرامِ فقَدْ باءَ بِغَضَبٍ منَ اللهِ فإنْ تابَ تابَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وإنْ ماتَ فالنّار أوْلى بهِ..
“When a morsel of what is forbidden enters the stomach of a person, every angel in the heavens and on the earth curses him. As long as the morsel is in his body, God will not look upon him. Whoever eats a morsel of what is forbidden has earned God’s wrath. If he repents, God will turn to him in forgiveness, and if he dies (without repentance) then he is more deserving of the Fire.”(3)
Regarding the legitimate meals, the Prophet said:
مَن أَكَلَ الحَلالَ أرْبَعِينَ يَوماً نَوَّرَ اللهُ قَلبَهُ وَأجْرى الحِكْمَةَ مِن قَلْبِه عَلى لِسَانِهِ.
“God will illuminate the heart of one who eats what is lawful for forty days, and will make wisdom flow from his heart to his
The Prophet said:
مَنْ أكَلَ الطَّعامَ على النَّقاءِ وأَجَادَ الطَّعامَ تَمَضُّغاً وَتَركَ الطَّعامَ وَهُو يَشْتَهِيهِ وَلمَ يَحبِسِ الغائِطَ إذا أتَى لمَ يَمْرُضْ إلاّ مَرَضَ المَوْتِ.
“Whoever adheres to hygienic principles regarding eating, and chews his food well, stops eating while he is still not full and does not put off going to the toilet when needed, will not suffer from any illnesses until death.”(2)
Imam Sajjad has instructed us to avoid excesses in eating, and practice moderation. We discussed the harms of overeating before. Now let us discuss the harms of undereating and hunger. Hunger is one of the most dangerous human conditions. A hungry person acts as if he forgets his faith and religious beliefs. He turns into a beast in an attempt to get some food to alleviate his hunger.
There was a major revolution in Basra in the 9th century. During his several years of rule, Sahib Zany committed many mass executions. He killed thousands of men, women and children. Those who survived hid in the daytime and left their hiding places at night in search of some food to eat. There was no more work to be done. No one worked on the land, and no one raised animals.
Therefore, deprivation and hunger prevailed. The people ate the cats and the dogs for some time. Then they started to eat the corpses of the dead. Even sometimes, they killed the weak people and ate them. It has been recorded in history that a woman was seen crying while she had a
chopped-off head in her hands.
When asked about the reason she cried and said: “The hungry people surrounded my weak sister, and were waiting for her to die so that they could eat her. They attacked her, killed her, tore her into pieces, and ate her. They oppressed me because they did not give me a share of her meat. They gave me her head, but it is hard to eat!”(1) Notice how she had lost her feelings and senses, and cried over the hard to eat share of hers from her sister’s torn apart body!
If anyone hits someone else in the stomach and causes him an injury to the extent that he loses control over his urination and bowl movement, then he must pay one-third of the full compensation or blood money according to the jurisprudents’ rule.(2) This is based on the following tradition. Sokuni quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq : “A man had beaten another one in the stomach so hard that he messed up his pants. Then they asked Imam Ali on how to punish him. Imam Ali said: “He should either deliver an equal blow to his stomach or receive one-third full compensation in return.”
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ فَرْجِكَ فَحِفْظُهُ مِمَّا لا يَحِلُّ لَكَ وَالاستِعَانَةُ عَلَيْهِ بغَضِّ الْبَصَرِ - فَإنَّهُ مِنْ أَعْوَنِ الأَعْوَانِ- وَكَثْرَةُ ذِكْرِ الْمَوتِ وَالتَّهَدُّدِ لِنَفْسِكَ باللهِ وَالتَّخوِيفِ لَهَا بهِ، وَباللهِ الْعِصْمَةُ وَالتَّأْيِيدُ وَلا حَوْلَ وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا بهِ.
And the right of your private part is that you should protect it from
everything that is unlawful for you and help it by lowering your eyes - this is certainly the best way to help it. And you should also remember death often, and threaten yourself with God and try to make yourself fear God.(1) Preservation from sin and receiving help in so doing are possible by God’s help. There is no strength or power but in Him.
What Imam Sajjad means by “protecting your private parts” is covering it from other people’s eyes. Consider the following verse:
وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:31]
Imam Sadiq said:
كُلُّ آيَةٍ في القُرآنِ في ذِكْرِ الفُروجِ فَهِي مِن الزّنا إلاّ هَذه الآيَةَ فإنهَّا مِن النَّظَر.
“Every verse in the Qur’an in which the private parts are mentioned is with regard to protecting it from fornication, except for this (above) verse in which it means to protect the private parts from being seen.”(2)
Sexual instincts are among the major forces in man to derive pleasure in life. These strong instincts attract men and women towards each other. The love they have for each other makes them work hard to unite with one another. That is why sex and marriage have always been a hot topic of discussion in all religious or scientific gatherings. There have been many theories related to this issue. Some of these theories are extremist while others are normal.
Those who believe in sexual freedom including the followers of
Freud have adopted an extremist theory. Freud whose ideas are based on sex has extended out of the domain of influence of sexual instincts to affect many other natural instincts that are in reality very independent of sex. He considers this instinct to be the main foundation of human culture and civilization. Freud thinks that seeking sexual pleasure and fulfillment is not limited to adulthood and exists throughout our lifetime. He considers a baby’s sucking of the mother’s breast to be sexually motivated and pleasing.
Freud bases his psychological theories on sexual failures. He thinks that when sexual desires are not fulfilled due to social restrictions, they are forced into the subconscious where they lend themselves to severe stress and psychological illnesses. Freud believes that all the various forms of psychological problems are rooted in the sexual instinct.
Thus, a psychoanalyst must become very aware of the person’s experiences in order to treat him. Freud’s opponents disagree with his idea that sexual instincts are the root of all psychological illnesses. Freud’s mistake lies in his considering unusual sexual emotions to be the source of nervous or psychological illnesses. He fails to consider the person’s social, economical or material environment. For example, when a simple worker has psychological problems due to lack of income, poverty and hunger, his illness is not rooted in sex. To treat him we must provide him with better work opportunities, not satiate him sexually!(1)
The followers of the Church, some religions, some philosophers and some teachers of ethics have
considered sex to be an animal act and have called it filthy. By going to the other extreme, they have totally abandoned sex. Saint Jerome always used to say: “Let us chop off the tree of marriage by celibacy.” In the Church, we see great scholars like Paules who was one of the heads of the Church. He never married and advised all men and women not to marry.
In his first treatise addressed to Qarantian we read: “About what you wrote to me, it is better for men not to touch women. However, in order to avoid fornication, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his wife’s rights. The wife should fulfill the husband’s rights. I wish all men were like me, but each person has a divinely given gift. Some are this way. Others are that way. Thus, I tell those who are single and the widowed women, that it is best for them to remain like me. But if they cannot restrain themselves, it is better for them to marry since it is better to marry than burn in the Fire of Hell.”(1)
Islam condemns both extremist views. The Commander of the Faithful has considered going to either extreme to be out of ignorance. He said:
لا يُرَى الجَاهِلُ إلاّ مُفْرِطاً أو مُفَرِّطاً.
“The ignorant one will only be seen either exceeding the bounds or falling short.”
Taking a moderate stance regarding sexual instincts is liked by God and is
according to the nature of our creation. In the moderate method, sexual instincts are neither let loose, nor are they totally abandoned. The law and social ethics support the fulfillment of this natural instinct in a moderate degree, and the means for its proper fulfillment are provided. In the method that is supported by God’s Prophets, people are instructed that God has encouraged the people to get married. On the other hand, any form of sexual deviation or being loose is seriously fought with, and human societies are advised against these things.
The Almighty God has expressed one of the main characteristics of believing men or women in the following verse:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ فَمَنِ ابْتَغَىٰ وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْعَادُونَ
“Who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, - for (in their case) they are free from blame: But those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Muminun 23:5-7]
Islam has ordered its followers to get married since sexual instincts are the most difficult to control. Islam has ordered us to make love with our legal wives or our slaves. This implies both permanent and temporary wives. There is also a mention of the misconception by the Christians who considered any sexual contact to be wrong, and went so far that the Catholic priests and the nuns did not marry all their life long and
considered marriage to be contrary to their spiritual position. The Noble Prophet of Islam has paid attention to sexual instincts in his teachings and has instructed his followers not to follow celibacy. God’s Prophet said:
مَن أَحَبَّ فِطرَتي فَلْيَسْتَنَّ بِسُنَّتي، وَمِن سُنَّتي النِّكاحُ.
“Whoever likes my nature should follow my traditions. One of my traditions is marriage.”(1)
God’s Prophet said:
يا مَعْشَر الشَّبابِ! مَن استَطَاعَ مِنْكُم الباهُ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ، فَإنَّه أغَضُّ لِلبَصَرِ وَأحْسَنُ لِلفَرْجِ، وَمَنْ لمَ يَسْتَطِع مِنكُم فَلْيُدْمِنِ الصَّوْمَ فإنَّ له وَجَاءً.
“O young people! Any of you who have the means to marry should do so since this is the best way to protect your eyes from corrupt and treacherous looks, and to guard the private parts from sin and immodesty. Whoever does not have the means to marry should fast continually since fasting can reduce lust.”(2)
Islam encourages its followers to establish a family and considers the family to be the most beautiful thing in the sight of God. The Noble Prophet of God said:
ما بُنِيَ في الإسْلامِ بِناءٌ أَحَبُّ إلى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَأَعَزَُ مِن التَّزْويجِ.
“There is no establishment in Islam dearer to God the Almighty than marriage.”(3)
Therefore, we must speed up the establishment of marriage. Imam Sadiq narrated that once the Prophet climbed up on the pulpit and after praising God said:
أيُّها النّاسُ! إنَّ جِبرَئِيلَ أتَاني عَن اللَّطِيفِ الخَبِيرِ فَقالَ: إنَّ الأبْكارَ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الثَّمَرِ على الشَّجَرِ: إذا أَدْرَكَ ثَمَرَهُ فَلَم يُجْتَنَى أَفْسَدَتْهُ الشَّمْسُ وَنَثَرَتْهُ الرِّياحُ، وَكَذلِكَ الأبْكارُ: إذا أدْرَكْنَ ما يُدْرِكُ النِّساءُ فَلَيْسَ لَهُنَّ دَواءٌ إلاّ البُعُولَةَ وإلاّ لمَ يُؤْمَنْ عَلَيهِنَّ الفَسادُ،
“O people! Gabriel came to me from the threshold of God and said: Virgin girls are like the fruits on a tree. When they ripen, they should be plucked. Else, they will be spoiled due to exposure to the rays of the sun, and they will be scattered about due to the blowing of the wind. When girls mature and feel sexual inclinations, there is no remedy for them but a husband. If they do not get married, they are not secure from corruption since they are human (and are not immune from making mistakes).”
The Holy Qur’an has considered the chastity of men and women and has said:
هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ
“They are your garments and ye are their garments.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:187]
Our garments cover up our sex organs and protect us against many bad conditions such as heat, cold and bad weather. Marriage will help us stay clean and pure. The Noble Prophet said:
مَن أَحَبَّ أنْ يَلْقى اللهَ طاهِراً وَمُطَهَّراً فَليَتَعَفَّفْ بِزَوجَةٍ.
“Whoever likes to meet God in a pure and purified state should protect his chastity by means of marriage.”(1)
Those who have the means to get married and establish a family in order to save the Muslims from committing sins should do so. Islam blames those who do not do so for various reasons. Consider the following case for example. A man called Akkaf went to see God’s Prophet . The Prophet asked: “Are you married?” He said: “O’ Prophet of God! No.” Then the
Prophet asked: “Are you healthy and wealthy?” He said: “Yes.” Then the Prophet said:
وَيْحَكَ يا عَكّافُ! تَزَوَّجْ تَزَوَّجْ فإنَّكَ مِن الخَاطِئينَ، تَزَوَّجْ وإلاّ فأنْتَ مِن المُذنِبِينَ، تَزَوَّجْ وإلاّ فأنْتَ مِن رُهْبانِ النَّصارَى، تَزَوَّجْ وإلاّ فأنْتَ مِن إخْوانِ الشَّياطِينِ.
“Woe be to you, Akkaf! Marry, marry, for now you are of the wrongdoers! Marry, else you will be among the sinners! Marry, else you will be of the Christian monks! Marry, else you will be among the brothers of Satan!”(1)
In another tradition, we read that Imam Ridha narrated that a woman told Imam Baqir : “I am a Mutabattil.” Imam Baqir asked: “What do you mean by that?” She said: “I intend to never get married.” Imam Baqir asked: “Why?” She said: “In order to attain nobility.” Then Imam Baqir said: “Forget it. If there was any nobility in not getting married, the Blessed Fatima Zahra was more suitable to have recognized this nobility, and there is no one who can supercede her in nobility.”(2) From these traditions, we realize that the leaders in Islam have advised men and women against celibacy so that they remain chaste.
A few of the companions of the Noble Prophet of God decided to avoid having sexual intercourse with their wives, eating breakfast and sleeping at night. Um Salmah realized this and told this to the Prophet . The Prophet went to them and asked:
أتَرْغَبونَ عَن النِّساءِ؟ إني آتِي النِّساءَ وآكُلُ بِالنَّهارِ وأَنامُ بِاللَّيلِ، فَمَنْ رَغَبَ عنْ سُنَّتي فَلَيْسَ مِنّي.
“Do you abstain from (going to) your
wives? I go to my wives, eat in the daytime and sleep at night. Whoever forsakes my tradition is not from me.”(1)
Those who do not establish a family may commit adultery and fall into disaster. The Holy Qur’an considers adultery to be an evil deed and says:
وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ الزِّنَى إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاء سَبِيلاً
“Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israil 17:32]
This short verse stresses three important points:
1) The verse does not state: “Do not commit adultery.” Rather it says do not even approach this wicked deed. This verse shows that although adultery is a very bad deed, there are some other deeds that might ultimately lead to it. Acts like flirting, looking, nudity, not wearing the veil, reading dirty books, viewing pornography, and going to centers of corruption or being in a private place with another person of the opposite sex are all preparatory actions which might lead to adultery.
2) This verse clearly expresses the extreme degree of wickedness of adultery.
3) This verse states that adultery will also pave the way for other forms of corruption in the society.
1) The first problem with adultery is that it will lead to social disorder. The relationship of the father and children will become unclear. This clear father-child relationship will provide life-long support for the children. Adultery will eliminate this order. Let us think for one moment that adultery is permitted in the whole world
and marriage is abolished. In such a world, none of the children born will be supported. There is also no love for these children - the love that is so critical in the raising of people who will not be criminals later. Then the whole world will turn into a big zoo where all forms of violence prevail.
2) Adultery is also a cause of the personal and social struggles between those who run the centers of corruption. The detailed account of what goes on in massage parlors and sex homes shows that many other crimes are committed where adultery is practiced.
3) It has been proven by theory and in practice that adultery leads to many contagious sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) many of which are life-threatening.(1)
4) Adultery is usually followed by abortion since the women who commit adultery never like to keep the baby. They even think it will be an obstacle to their future practice of adultery.
5) We should not forget that the purpose behind marriage is not satiating our sexual instincts. Rather cooperating in the establishment of a joint life, the achievement of peace of mind, having a companion, raising children and cooperation in many social affairs are also major goals in marriage. These are not possible unless men and women are dedicated to each other through marriage and adultery is forbidden.
First, let us look at the statistics related to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the United States.
One in five people in the United States has an STD(2). Two-thirds
of all STDs occur in people 25 years of age or younger. One in four new STD infections occur in teenagers. Cervical cancer in women is linked to HPV.(1) Hepatitis is 100 times more infectious than HIV.(2) Two-thirds of Hepatitis B (HBV(3)) infections are transmitted sexually. HBV is linked to chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. STDs, other than HIV, cost about $8 billion each year to diagnose and treat.
One in five Americans have genital herpes, yet at least 80 percent of those with herpes are unaware they have it. At least one in four Americans will contract an STD at some point in their lives. HPV is the most common STD in the United States. More than 5 million people are infected with HPV each year. Less than half of adults aged 18 to 44 have ever been tested for an STD other than HIV/AIDS. At least 15 percent of all infertile American women are infertile because of tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is the result of an untreated STD. Next let us look at the world statistics on abortion.
Currently 54 countries allow abortion, which is about 61 percent of the world’s population(4). According to the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York, 97 countries that constitute about 39 percent of the population, have abortion laws that make it illegal. The Alan Guttmacher Institute reports approximately 22 million legal abortions were reported in 1987. It is estimated that between four
and nine million were not reported, totaling 26-31 million legal abortions in 1987 alone. There were a total of 10-22 million "clandestine" abortions, bringing the total worldwide figure to 36 and 53 million abortions.
So far, we discussed the philosophy behind forbidden adultery and its wicked effects and a brief account of the relevant statistics in the West. Now we shall point out some of the traditions regarding the punishment of adultery in this world and the Hereafter. Imam Ali narrated that he heard God’s Prophet say:
في الزِّنا سِتُّ خِصالٍ؛ ثَلاثٌ في الدُّنْيا وَثَلاثٌ في الآخِرَةِ. فأمّا اللّواتي في الدُّنيا فَيَذْهَبُ بِنُورِ الوَجْهِ وَيَقْطَعُ الرِّزْقَ وَيُسَرِّعُ الفَناءَ. أمّا اللّواتي في الآخِرَةِ فَغَضَبُ الرَّبِّ وَسُوءُ الحِسابِ وَالدُّخُولِ (أو الخُلود) في النّارِ.
“There are six bad effects of adultery. Three of them are in this world and the other three are in the Hereafter. The effects of adultery in this world are as follows:
1 - Adultery takes away one’s sincerity and divine illumination.
2 - Adultery stops the arrival of one’s share of daily bread.
3 - Adultery speeds up man’s destruction.
The three effects of adultery in the Hereafter are as follows:
1 - Adultery will raise the anger of the Lord.
2 - Adultery will make the Reckoning difficult,
3 - Adultery will result in entry (or remaining forever) in the Fire of Hell.”
God’s Prophet said:
الزِّنا يُورِثُ الفَقْرَ وَيَدَعُ الدِّيارَ بَلاقِعَ.
“Adultery causes poverty and turns habitations into wasteland.”(1)
These are the evil results of adultery. Adultery will also cause sudden death. Imam Baqir narrated that it is written in
Imam Ali’s book that God’s Prophet said:
إذَا كَثُرَ الزِّنا مِن بَعْدي كَثُرَ مَوْتُ الفُجأَةِ.
“When adultery becomes widespread after me, there will be frequent occurrences of sudden deaths.”(1)
Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Husayn quoted on the authority of Dho’aib ibn Waqid on the authority of Husayn ibn Zayd that Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of his forefathers on the authority of the Prophet :
ألا وَمَنْ زَنى بِامْرَأةٍ مُسْلِمَةٍ أَو يَهُودِيَّةٍ أو نَصْرانِيَّةٍ أو مجُوسِيَّةٍ، حُرَّةٍ أو أَمَةٍ، ثُمَّ لم يَتُبْ مِنهُ وَماتَ مُصِرّاً عَلَيهِ فَتَحَ اللهُ تَعالى لَهُ في قَبْرِهِ ثَلاثَمِائَةِ بَابٍ يَخْرُجُ مِنْها حَيّاتٌ وَعَقَارِبُ وَثُعْبانٌ مِنَ النّارِ، فَهُوَ يَحْتَرِقُ إلى يَومِ القِيامَةِ. فإذا بُعِثَ مِن قَبْرِه تَأذّى النّاسُ مِن نَتْنِ ريحِهِ فَيُعْرَفُ بِذلِكَ وَبِما كانَ يَعْمَلُ في دارِ الدُّنيَا حَتىّ يُؤمَرُ بِه إلى النّارِ.
“Beware! If a man commits adultery with a Muslim, Jewish, Christian or Magian woman- be it a free woman or a slave - and reaches the time of death without repenting, and persists on doing this wicked deed, God will open up three hundred gates into his grave from which snakes, scorpions and large serpents enter into it from the Fire. He will burn until the Resurrection Day. When he is raised from his grave, people will be tormented by his stench. He will be known by that and by his evil deeds in this world, until he will be taken into the Fire.”(2)
Yes, this is the punishment for the people who commit adultery. They will be thrown into the Fire of Hell.
Imam Sajjad has expressed
ways to remain chaste. The first thing to do is not view forbidden scenes. The second way is to remember death a lot. Now let us look at the following verse:
وَجَاءتْ سَكْرَةُ الْمَوْتِ بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكَ مَا كُنتَ مِنْهُ تَحِيدُ
“And the stupor of death will bring Truth (before his eyes): This was the thing which thou wast trying to escape!” [The Holy Qur’an, Qaf 50:19]
Death is like a state of being drunk. One will get so anxious when he realizes that he is going to be transferred from this world into the other world. He might even lose his mind realizing that he has to cut off all ties with this world with which he is used to, and he will enter a new world. Then he will be covered with fear, and experience a feeling similar to being drunk.
There is a tradition from Imam Sajjad which states that he was asked: “What is death?” He replied:
)المَوتُ) لِلمُؤْمِنِ كَنَزْعِ ثِيابٍ وَسخَةٍ قَمْلَةٍ وَفَكِّ قُيودٍ وَأغْلالٍ ثَقيلَةٍ وَالاسْتِبْدالِ بِأفْخَرِ الثِّيابِ وأطْيَبِها وأوْطى المَراكِبِ وَآنَسِ المَنَازِلِ. وَلِلكافِرِ كَخَلْعِ ثِيابٍ فاخِرَةٍ وَالنَّقْلِ عَن مَنازِلَ أَنيسَةٍ وَالاسْتِبْدالِ بِأوسَخِ الثّيابِ وأخْشَنِها وأوْحَشِ المَنَازِلِ وأعْظَمِ العَذابِ.
“For a believer, death is like removing dirty, lice-infested clothes and unfastening heavy chains and locks, in exchange for the most beautiful and best garments, the most comfortable mounts and the most delightful dwellings. However, for an unbeliever, death is like taking off the most magnificent clothes and moving out of loved houses, in exchange for the filthiest and coarsest clothes, the
most desolate of dwellings and the greatest punishment.”(1)
Imam Husayn also presented a beautiful interpretation of death for his companions as follows:
صَبراً بَني الكِرامِ! فمَا المَوتُ إلاّ قَنْطَرَةٌ تَعْبرُ بِكُم عنِ البُؤسِ وَالضَّرّاءِ إلى الجِنانِ الواسِعَةِ وَالنَّعيمِ الدّائِمَةِ، فَأيُّكُم يَكْرَهُ أنْ يَنْتَقِلَ مِن سِجْنٍ إلى قَصْرٍ؟ ومَا هُوَ لأعْدائِكُم إلاّ كَمَنْ يَنْتَقِلَ مِن قَصْرٍ إلى سِجْنٍ وَعَذابٍ. إنَّ أبي حَدَثَني عَن رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَآلِهِ أنَّ الدُّنْيا سِجْنُ المُؤمِنِ وَجَنَّةُ الكَافِرِ، وَالمَوتُ جِسْرُ هؤلاءِ إلى جِنانِهِم وَجِسْرُ هؤلاءِ إلى جَحِيمِهِم.
“O children of noble men! Persevere! Death is nothing but a bridge transferring you from hardship and suffering to the vast gardens of Heaven and lasting blessings. Which of you dislikes moving from a prison into a palace? However, death for your enemies is only as one transferred from a palace into a prison and punishment. My father quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet that this world is like a prison for believers and Heaven for unbelievers. Death is a bridge for these (believers) to their Gardens and a bridge for those (unbelievers) to their Fire.”(2)
Imam Sadiq was asked to describe death. He said:
هُوَ لِلمُؤمِنِ كَأطْيَبِ رِيحٍ يَشَمُّهُ فَيَنْعَسُ لِطِيبِهِ فَيَنْقَطِعُ التَّعَبُ وَالألَمُ كُلُّهُ عَنْهُ، وَلِلكَافِر كَلَسْعِ الأفاعِي وَلَدْغِ العَقارِبِ وَأَشَدَّ.
“Death for the believer is like breathing in a most pleasant breeze, the fragrance of which makes him slumber and all tiredness and pain comes to an end, but for the unbeliever it is like the biting of snakes and the sting of scorpions and even more severe.”
said the following about the time of death when the curtains to the Unseen are drawn aside and the angels enter:
فَإنَّكُم لَو قَد عَايَنْتُم مَا قَد عَايَنَ مَن مَاتَ مِنْكُم لجَزَعْتُم وَوَهَلْتُم وَسَمِعْتُم وَأطَعْتُم وَلكِنْ مَحْجوبٌ عَنْكُم ما قَد عَايَنوا وَقَرِيبٌ ما يُطْرَحُ الحِجابُ.
“If you could see what the dead see, you would be distressed and terrified and (as a result) you would hear and obey (God’s words). However, what they see is veiled from you, and soon the veil will be drawn aside for you (and you too will see)!”(1)
It is often thought that death implies an ending and total destruction while this is in contradiction with what is said in the Holy Qur’an and intellectual reasoning. From the view of the Qur’an death is an existing affair. It is just a form of transferring from one world to another. That is why death has been interpreted to be a return of our soul to the angels in the Qur’an.
Three days in a person’s life are said to be awesome for man in many Islamic traditions. They are the day on which he is born, the day he dies and sees the world beyond death, and the day on which he enters the Reckoning Ordeal and sees decrees that did not exist in this world.”(2) God said the following about John the son of Zachariah regarding these three days:
وَسَلَامٌ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمَ وُلِدَ وَيَوْمَ يَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
“So Peace on him the day he was born, the day that he
dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)!” [The Holy Qur’an, Maryam 19:15]
It is also said in the Qur’an that Jesus said:
وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
“So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"! [The Holy Qur’an, Maryam 19:33]
Imam Sadiq said:
ذِكْرُ المَوْتِ يُمِيتُ الشَّهَواتِ.
“The remembrance of death kills desires.”(1)
God’s Prophet said:
اذْكُرُوا هادِمَ اللَّذّاتِ… الموتُ.
“Remember the destroyer of pleasures.”
He was asked: “O Prophet of God! What is the destroyer of pleasures?”
He said: “Death.”
Imam Sajjad said that remembering death would destroy lust. Man should remind himself of divine chastisement since this will also help destroy lust. It is also important to seek God’s help as the Imam said. If young people remember God and consider Him to be watching over all that they do, they will succeed and be saved. Joseph said:
وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلاَّ مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّيَ إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [The Holy Qur’an, Yusuf 12:53]
He entrusted himself to God and he was saved.
Islam has established rules and limitations to fight such a socially disastrous act that destroys the foundations of family life. If these rules and limitations are adhered to, then the Muslim society will be pure and
there will be security for the family members. This issue has been addressed in the Holy Qur’an:
الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِي فَاجْلِدُوا كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِئَةَ جَلْدَةٍ وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُم بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَائِفَةٌ مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, - flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by God, if ye believe in God and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:2]
There are three important instructions in this verse:
1 - The punishment for adultery or fornication for both men and women is prescribed.
2 - The Qur’an stresses that in interpreting this verse, we should rely on our faith in God and the Hereafter, not on our own feelings and emotions. The punishment should be carried out as stated. There is a tradition from God’s Prophet in this regard. According to this tradition, some rulers who have reduced this punishment by one lash will be brought to trial in the Hereafter and asked for the reason they did so. They will say that they did so to have mercy on the people. Then God will tell them: “Were you kinder to them than I am?” Others who have hit an extra lash will be brought to trial in the Hereafter and asked for the reason they did so. They will say that they wanted to
force the people to abandon committing sins. Then God will say: “Where you wiser and more knowledgeable than I am?” Then He will order that both of them be thrown into the Fire of Hell.
3 - The verse stresses that other believers should be present at the scene of the punishment since the aim of this punishing is not just for those who commit fornication to learn a lesson, rather it is meant to be a lesson for other people, too. This is because moral corruption might spread from the individuals involved to others in the society. As the case has been brought to court, there is no need to protect the honor of those who have committed fornication. They should be introduced to the people and punished in public so that others realize that they should respect the law.
The punishment for fornication has been prescribed to be one hundred lashes for men and women in this verse. This is a general decree. There are exceptions for this rule that we will point out. Certain conditions have been stated to be necessary for the punishment.
1 - The first condition is maturity. Thus, this does not apply to children who are not mature.
2 - The second condition is freedom of will. This applies if fornication is done with free will. Thus, someone who is raped will not be punished.
3 - The third condition is sanity. If the man or woman who commits fornication is insane, this punishment will not apply.(1)
Imam Khomeini added: “It should also be added that the person who commits fornication should be aware of the punishment for fornication. Else this punishment will not apply.”(1)
The exception to the above rule is for adultery that is when a married man who can make love with his wife or a married woman who can make love with her husband commits fornication. Another exception to this rule is committing incest. The third exception is committing rape. The punishment for these crimes is death.
1 - To prove that fornication has been committed four just men, three just men plus two just women, or two just men plus four just women must witness that they have seen it take place.
2 - The place of committing fornication where they witness to have seen fornication take place should be the same for all witnesses.
3 - The time of committing fornication that they witness to should be the same.
4 - All the witnesses should witness in one court meeting.
5 - It is not acceptable if the four witnesses witness to have seen four different people commit fornication.
6 - It is not acceptable if the four witnesses who witness to have seen fornication take place cannot recognize the woman involved.
4 - Whenever three of the witnesses unite in their witnessing but the fourth person does not witness or disagrees with them, then the punishment of ‘Qazf’- malicious accusation means that someone associates fornication or sodomy with a certain person(2) will be decreed for the three who
فَأَمَّا حَقُّ الصَّلاةِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أنّهَا وِفَادَةٌ إلَى اللهِ وَأَنَّكَ قَائِمٌ بهَا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللهِ، فَإذَا عَلِمْتَ ذَلِكَ كُنْتَ خَلِيقًا أَنْ تَقُومَ فِيهَا مَقَامَ الذَّلِيلِ الرَّاغِب الرَّاهِب الْخَائِفِ الرَّاجِي الْمِسْكِينِ الْمُتَضَرِّعِ الْمُعَظِّمِ مَنْ قَامَ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ بالسُّكُونِ وَالإطْرَاقِ وَخُشُوعِ الأَطْرَافِ وَلِينِ الْجَنَاحَ وَحُسْنِ الْمُنَاجَاةِ لَهُ فِي نَفْسِهِ وَالطَّلَب إلَيْهِ فِي فَكَاكِ رَقَبَتِكَ الَّتِي أَحَاطَتْ بهِ خَطِيئَتُكَ وَاسْتَهلَكَتْهَا ذُنُوبُكَ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
Then the right of your ritual prayer is that you should know that it is an arrival at the threshold of God and that through it you are standing before God. And when you realize that, then you will stand in the station of him who is lowly, vile, beseeching, trembling, hopeful, fearful, and abased.
And you will magnify Him Who is before you through stillness, and bowing of the head,(2) and humbleness of the limbs, and yielding of the wing,(3) and by saying the best supplications to Him in yourself and beseeching Him to release (from punishment) your neck that is encompassed by your offenses and destroyed by your sins. And there is no power but in God.
Imam Sajjad first stresses the importance of prayer since it is the means by which we can appear at the threshold of God. It is the means with which we can migrate from the material world, put all that entertains us behind, attend to the divine grandeur, leave the darkness of this world and enter the world of brightness. This migration should be according
to the requirements stated by the Imam .
Islam has established the prayer as the most important form of worship, and has made especial recommendations to Muslims regarding it. Islam has made it incumbent upon boys and girls to pray five times each day from the time they reach adolescence. They are supposed to make up any prayers that they may skip for any excuse. Especial times are also specified for saying the prayers.
There are verses in the Holy Qur’an that specify the times of the prayer. Consider the following verse in this regard:
وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّ_يِّئَاتِ ذَلِكَ ذِكْرَى لِلذَّاكِرِينَ
“And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things, that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord).” [The Holy Qur’an, Hud 11:114]
This verse refers to the morning, evening and night prayers. Also, consider the following verse:
أَقِمِ الصَّلاَةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَى غَسَقِ اللَّيْلِ وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا
“Establish regular prayers - at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israil 17:78]
This verse refers to all the five daily prayers. Also, consider the following verse:
حَافِظُواْ عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ والصَّلاَةِ الْوُسْطَى وَقُومُواْ لِلّهِ قَانِتِينَ
“Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before God in a devout
(frame of mind).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:238]
This verse refers to the noon and afternoon prayers.
There is a tradition in Majma Ul-Bayan which says: “One day Imam Ali looked at the people and asked: Do you know which verse of the Holy Qur’an is the most hopeful one? Some people said it was the following verse:
إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيما
“God forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with God is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:48]
The Imam said no. Others said it was the following verse:
وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللّهَ يَجِدِ اللّهَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
“If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks God's forgiveness, he will find God Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:110]
Again, Imam Ali said: No, that is not what I mean. Others said it was the following verse:
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
“Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Zumar 39:53]
Again, Imam Ali said no. Then the people asked him which verse it was. Imam Ali said: I heard God’s Prophet say
that the most hopeful verse is:(1)
وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّ_يِّئَاتِ ذَلِكَ ذِكْرَى لِلذَّاكِرِينَ
“And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord).” [The Holy Qur’an, Hud 11:114]
Now consider the following verse which shows that Moses was appointed to establish regular prayers.
وَأَنَا اخْتَرْتُكَ فَاسْتَمِعْ لِمَا يُوحَى إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي
“I have chosen thee: listen, then, to the inspiration (sent to thee). Verily, I am God: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise.” [The Holy Qur’an, Ta-Ha 20:13-14]
The first point mentioned in this verse is the principle of the Unity of God that is the most important part of the call of the Prophets. The next point mentioned is God’s worshipping. Then the instruction to establish regular prayers that is the most important link between the creatures and their Creator is stressed. Praying is the most effective way not to forget God. There is no doubt that there are many factors in man’s life that distract him from God.
This verse clarifies that the appointment of Moses started with a mission to establish regular prayers. Praying several times a day is an effective means to fight this negligence. When man wakes up from his sleep
that makes him forget everything in this world, and wants to start his daily activities, God has made it incumbent upon him to start his day with praying. This is done so that he can cleanse his heart and soul with God’s remembrance.
Once man is delved into his daily activities and works all morning long, he hears the call to the prayer at noon that invites him to hurry up to the prayer. He stands at the threshold of the Lord. By saying prayers and supplications, he eliminates any filth that may have covered up his soul in the morning. He does the same thing again in the evening and at night, and remembers God in his soul. God has stressed that the purpose for the prayer is to remember Him. In another verse, He has stated that His remembrance is the only means of the purification of our hearts:
الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ أَلاَ بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God: for without doubt in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ra’d 13:28]
The importance of remembering God in all circumstances is expressed in the following verse:
فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُمُ الصَّلاَةَ فَاذْكُرُواْ اللّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِكُمْ فَإِذَا اطْمَأْنَنتُمْ فَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ إِنَّ الصَّلاَةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا
“When ye pass (congregational) prayers, celebrate God's praises, standing, sitting down, or lying down on your sides; but when ye are free from danger, set up regular prayers: for
such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:103]
The statement “celebrate God’s praises, standing, sitting down, or lying down on your sides” may refer to the various positions in a battle. This is an important Islamic instruction not to neglect God under any circumstances. The above verse has been interpreted in many traditions to refer to the conditions of praying for the ill.” (1)
The main spirit of the prayer is humbleness and the presence of our heart during the prayer since the main goal of the prayer is to be sincere with God, and to remember the Almighty God with ultimate submission. God the Almighty said: “Establish the prayer in order to remember Me.” God’s Prophet said: “Pray as if you are saying farewell.”
This implies that one must say farewell to his own selfish desires, and everything other than God through praying. One must dedicate his full attention to his prayer.(2) Thus, we realize the importance placed on praying by the Qur’an and the philosophy behind it.
The late Fayz wrote in Al-Haqa’iq: “The true spirit of prayer is due to the following:
1) Sincere presence of the mind.
2) True understanding.
4) Fear of the Majesty of God.
5) Hope in the Forgiveness of God.
6) Being shy of God.”
Determination is a very important factor in prayer. It can result in sincere presence of the mind during the prayer. When we are more determined to do something, our mind will be better directed at that affair. We must
believe that the life of the Hereafter is preferable to that of this world since it is eternal and free from trouble as we read in the following verse:
وَمَا هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ وَإِنَّ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ لَهِيَ الْحَيَوَانُ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ
“What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home in the Hereafter, - that is life indeed, if they but knew.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ankabut 29:64]
We read in another place in the Holy Qur’an:
وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى
“But the Hereafter is better and more enduring.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A’la 87:17]
We cannot attain the life of the Hereafter except through praying. Praying is the means of approaching God. When this is combined with the belief that this world is really nothing, then we can find a sincere presence of the mind.
The next important factor after sincere presence of the mind is true understanding of what is being said. If one pays attention to the meaning of what he says, then he will ignore the affairs of this world, and all bothering thoughts during the prayer will leave him alone.
We can compare the situation of one who is praying and is bombarded with bothering thoughts with someone who is trying to rest and think under the shade of a tree, but is disturbed by the sounds of various birds. He picks up a stick and tries to drive them away, but the birds come back again.
Humbleness is a spiritual state that leads to recognition of
the Grandeur and Majesty of God. This recognition is the foundation of faith. It also leads to the recognition of one’s smallness and his being subject to divine plans. The recognition of the above leads to a state of humbleness in which bowing to God, our Creator, is more meaningful.
Fear of the Majesty of God is a state of mind for man that is derived from the recognition of God’s endless power and His Will’s influence on everything in the universe. The more we recognize God’s power and influence, the more we fear His Majesty. The late scholar Naraghi has also included sincerity and said: “Sincerity, intention to get closer to God and not being hypocritical are also important in this issue.”(1)
This hope is derived from the recognition of the source of Mercy of God. Once you notice God’s endless nobility and kindness, and really believe in God’s promise to reward us with Heaven for praying, then you will become hopeful of the Forgiveness of God.
Once one realizes that he is unable to fulfill God’s rights that are incumbent upon him, has faults and weaknesses which constantly pull him towards the luxuries of this life, and realizes that God is Majestic and knows everything that goes on within him, then he becomes shy of God.(2) We quoted the true aspects of prayer as mentioned by Fayz Kashani so far. Now let us quote what Hajj Mirza Javad Malaki Tabrizi said in this regard.
He refers to the writings of Shahide Awwal(3)
and says: “The Shahid compiled the one thousand obligatory points about the prayer in one book, and complied the three thousand recommended points about prayer in another book.” Then he points out an important philosophy behind the prayer that is expressed in the following verse:
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of God is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And God knows the (deeds) that ye do.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ankabut 29:45]
The Qur’an has clearly stated that prayer restrains us from engaging in shameful and unjust deeds. If our praying does not serve this purpose, we can conclude that we are praying out of hypocrisy. Even the slightest bit of sincere attention to the true spirit of the prayer will restrain man from shameful and unjust deeds.(1)
As expressed by this late scholar, there is no other issue in Islam about which there are as many points as there are about praying. The issue of prayer always takes up the biggest chapters in books on traditions and jurisprudence. The description of Imam Sajjad’s illuminating words about the prayer presented here are but a few drops of the sea! Praying also has some personal, moral and social effects, which we shall briefly discuss here.
One of the personal effects of praying five times
each day and appearing at the threshold of God is the strengthening of our spiritual powers and determination. Thus, we can stand up against the difficulties that we encounter just like a mountain. Another personal effect of praying is the cleansing of our heart from the filthiness of this material world since we separate ourselves from this material world and travel into the divine world each time we pray. Thus, we can attain peace of mind. It has been recorded that whenever the Prophet got troubled with the events that happened, he sought refuge in praying a lot.
Since praying is a state of meeting the Lord, he would forget his sorrow once he rushed to visit God. He said: “Once one of you stands up to pray and says supplications to his Lord, he knows that there is no distance between him and his Lord. God hears his prayers, responds to his call and fulfills his prayer.”(1) Another personal effect of praying is that it will help us get rid of the selfishness and haughtiness we might experience due to our misunderstandings when we get wealth or position. This is a point of human perfection for which we strive. The late Imam Khomeini said the following about the secrets behind standing, bowing down and prostrating in prayer:
الصَّلاةُ قُربَانُ كُلِّ تَقِيٍّ.
“Prayer is a pious believer’s means of approach (to God).”
It is dependant on two acts - one of which is the basis of the other. The first prerequisite is to abandon
selfishness - that is true piety. The second prerequisite is to seek the truth and to seek God. This is true ascension and approach to God. That is why we read in the traditions that “praying is the means of approaching God for every pious man.” These prerequisite states are gradually achieved in the three positions of standing up, bowing down and prostrating in prayer.
While standing up, we realize God the Absolute exists and is everlasting. Then we forget our selfishness. While bowing down and seeing the positions of the Names and Characteristics of God, we forget our own selfishness. When prostrating we totally abandon our selfishness, and absolutely submit to and seek God. All the positions and ranks of those who trot in His way are derived from the ranks of these three positions.”(1) Another personal effect of praying is that one who prays gets encouraged to improve himself and attain the highest degree of noble characteristics. He tries to eliminate all his moral wickedness. That is why the Holy Qur’an praises the believers for the good characteristics that they attain as we read in the following verses:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُون الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ
“The believers must (eventually) win through - those who humble themselves in their prayers.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Muminun 23:1-2]
This winning has been interpreted to imply both worldly gains and winning in the Hereafter. Worldly gains imply survival, richness and honor. Winning in the Hereafter implies the following four:
1) Lasting without ever being destroyed(2)
2) Richness without
3) Honor without any humiliation
4) Knowledge without any ignorance
Believers are recognized by being humble in these verses. This implies that their praying is not just a series of meaningless words and actions; rather it is accompanied by full attention to God – such an attention with which they cut off themselves from others than Him.
The first factor that yields humbleness is recognition of the Majesty of God and the minuteness of the world. Imam Ali has indicated in Nahjul Balaghah that one of the signs of the pious people is:
عَظُمَ الخَالِقُ في أنْفُسِهِم فَصَغُرَ ما دُونَهُ في أعْيُنِهِم.
“Once the Creator was recognized to be Majestic by them, everything else seemed small to them.”(1)
The second important factor that will result in humbleness is to direct one’s attention to his prayer and not pay any attention to various other issues. The third important factor is the place where one prays. We should choose a place to pray that is lacking luxury items. That is why it is not recommended to pray in front of pictures, sculptures, open doors or where people cross. Another important factor for becoming humble is to avoid committing sins. It is also important to be well familiar with the meaning of what we say in prayer and understand the philosophy behind the movements. It helps to perform the initial or post-prayer recommendable acts. One must practice praying just like any other thing in order to become apt at it and be careful not to forget to pray.(2)
praying fosters a sense of social responsibility, it has important social effects. There is no doubt that man is created to be a sociable creature. The tendency to live in a group is inherent in man. Living alone bothers us. The worst form of punishment for man is to imprison him in an individual cell. Man has two kinds of responsibilities - that is individual and social responsibility. The Qur’an says:
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ
“Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Muddath’thir 74:38]
We also read the following verse in the Holy Qur’an:
مَّا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ وَأَرْسَلْنَاكَ لِلنَّاسِ رَسُولاً وَكَفَى بِاللّهِ شَهِيدًا
“Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee is from God; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy (own) soul. And We have sent thee as an Apostle to (instruct) mankind. And enough is God for a witness.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:79]
When we consider social responsibility, it is not the individual that is important. The society is important, and we must consider what social responsibility individuals have. The Noble Prophet said:
كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْؤُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ.
“Each one of you is a ruler, and each one of you is responsible for his subjects.”
One of the most important effects of praying is that it will foster the sense of social responsibility. That is why there is a distinction made in Islam between praying individually and attending congregational prayers. The reward for these two is different. Attending
congregational prayers is highly recommended in Islam. Islam has decreed a socio-religious Friday prayer that is held each week, where all the Muslims stand to pray side by side.
The prayer leader delivers his sermons and expresses the social problems of the day for all the people to know. Then they can think of solutions. When all the Muslims stand side by side, their majesty is demonstrated. This will prevent their enemies from plotting against them. Then the Muslims can form an independent nation, rely on themselves and benefit from their power and honor. It is recommendable for the lines of the people attending the congregational prayers to be densely formed and orderly.
It is even more important to note that everyone stands there side by side regardless of his position, wealth, race or nationality, and shakes hands with those around him after the prayers. Thus, the true spirit of social equality is fostered, and class differences that always hinder freedom-loving people are eliminated.
Love and sincerity are substituted for hate and animosity. Attending the congregational prayers also helps the people become aware of each other’s conditions. Should one not attend the prayers one week, others will miss him, and ask what has happened to him. They will then do their best to help resolve his problems. Generally, the prayer unites the whole nation of Islam and establishes an independent society.
Man cannot approach God unless he eliminates his wicked traits and characteristics and prepares himself for the development of noble characteristics. The
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّى وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّى
“But those will prosper who purify themselves and glorify the name of their Guardian-Lord, and (lift their hearts) in prayer.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A’la 87:14-15]
Praying is the means of morally purifying oneself. Continued praying will help educate us in a good moral way, and restrains us from shameful deeds. We read in the Holy Qur’an:
إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ
“…For Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ankabut 29:45]
Praying will uproot wickedness from man, and plant nobilities instead. The following verses stress this very point:
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا إذا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعاً و إذا مَسَّهُ الخَيْرِ مَنُوعاً الّامُصَلِين الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ
“Truly man was created very impatient - fretful when evil touches him, and niggardly when good reaches him. Not so those devoted to Prayer - those who remain steadfast to their prayer.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ma’arij 70:19-23]
These verses clearly demonstrate the effect of praying in the elimination of impatience, fretfulness and niggardliness from our souls. Those who are devoted to praying can rid themselves of these negative traits. It is narrated in Jami’ as-Sadat by Naraghi that Imam Ali was questioned about the meaning of prostrations in the prayer.
He replied: “The first prostration means: O’ God! You created us from the dirt. When we raise our head it means: And You brought us out of the dirt. The second prostration means: You will return us to the dirt. And when we again raise our heads it means:
And You will bring us out of the dirt again.”(1) It is obvious that if one really considers these points, he would try to improve himself.
Sheikh Mahmood Shabastari has beautifully expressed the obstacles to the acceptance of our prayers by God in a poetic fashion. To make it short, he states the following four conditions:
1) Cleansing one’s self from physical filth.
2) Purification of one’s self from sins.
3) Freeing one’s self from wicked characteristics.
4) Total elimination of other than God in our inner thoughts.
Once one attains these four conditions, he can hope for his prayers to be accepted.
Now that we have briefly expressed the importance of praying, its philosophy, and its personal, social and moral effects, let us consider how Imam Sajjad practically taught his followers about the importance of praying. There were even times when his close relatives felt sorry for him due to his extended prayers.
It is recorded in Bihar ul-Anwar by Allameh Majlesi that once Fatima, the daughter of Imam Husayn went to see Jabir ibn Abdullah and said: “O Companion of God’s Prophet! We have rights incumbent upon you. One of these rights is that if you see one of us endangering his life due to worshipping too much you must remind him and ask him to guard himself. O Jabir! Ali ibn Al-Husayn(2) has prayed so much that his forehead’s skin has hardened, his feet have swollen and his body has lost all the flesh on it. Please ask him to save himself.”
Jabir went to see
the Imam and asked permission to enter. When he entered, he saw that the Imam was sitting in his praying niche. The Imam stood up and had Jabir sit next to himself, and asked Jabir about his health. Jabir said: “Is it not true that God has created Heaven for you and Hell for your enemies? Then why do you pray so much?”
The Imam replied: “O Companion of God’s Prophet! Do you know that God forgave all of the past and future sins of the Prophet, but he still did not stop worshipping? He worshipped so much that his blessed feet became swollen. When told that his past and future sins were forgiven he replied: Should I not be grateful for that?”
Then Jabir realized that his question did not have any effect on the state of affairs. He said: “You are from among the people through whom God fends off the calamities and protects the heavens and the Earth.” Then Imam Sajjad said: “I will follow in my father’s and my grandfather’s footsteps until I meet them.” Jabir said: “I have not seen anyone like Ali ibn al-Husayn among the descendants of the Prophets.” (1)
Tavoos Faqih said: “I saw Imam Sajjad circumambulating the House of God and worshipping God from after the night prayer until dawn. When he looked around and saw that there were few people left who were circumambulating, he looked up to the heavens and said: “O Lord! The stars remaining are few, and are about to
set. The eyes have been closed to sleep. However, the gates of your Mercy to those who ask are still open. O Lord! I have come to the door of your House to encompass me with your Mercy, to forgive me, and to show me the face of my grandfather Muhammad in the Hereafter.”
Then the Imam cried and said: “I swear by your Majesty and Honor! I do not intend to oppose you by sinning. I am not ignorant of You and your chastisement when sinning. I do not want to expose myself to your chastisement. However, my Self wants to fool me, and your veil of Mercy helps it. O Lord! Who will save me from your chastisement? O Lord! What shall I hold on to if you cut off your rope of saving from me?
Woe to me! I will be brought to your threshold in the Hereafter. Those whose load is light shall be told to go. Moreover, those whose load is heavy shall be told to stay. I do not know whether I will be from among those whose load is light and are told to go. Or will my heavy load force me to stay there? O Lord! The older I get, the more my mistakes become. Now it is time for me to repent. O My Ultimate desire! Will you burn me in the Fire? Where then is my hope? What will then happen to my friendship? I have come to You with my wicked
deeds. There is no one else with crimes like those of mine.”
Then he cried and prostrated on the ground. He felt good. I went to him and cried. My tears dropped on his face. Then he suddenly said: “Who has prevented me from the remembrance of my Lord?” Then I replied: “O Grandson of the Prophet! That is I. I am Tavoos. Why are you doing this? Why do you cry and moan so much? We feel obliged to follow you. O Sir! Your father was such a noble man. Your mother was the Blessed Fatima . Your grandfather was God’s Prophet .” Then Imam Sajjad said: “O Tavoos! Forget about the father, the mother or the grandfather. God has created the Heaven for those who obey Him whether they are a servant or a Tunisian slave. God has created Hell for those who commit sins - even if they are masters from the Quraysh tribe. Have you not heard God say?
فَإِذَا نُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَلَا أَنسَابَ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَلَا يَتَسَاءلُونَ
“Then when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no more relationships between them that Day, nor will one ask after another!” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Mu’minun 23:101](1)
At the end Imam Sajjad said: “…and by saying the best supplications to Him by yourself and beseeching Him to save you from the responsibilities which rest on your shoulders - surrounded by your faults and exhausted by your sins.” You should ask God to save you and forgive your sins that have overtaken
you and will finally destroy you. We said earlier that praying is effective in restraining us from committing sins and wicked deeds. Now let us see how the Prophet of God represents praying as a means of forgiveness of our sins. Abi Basir quoted on the authority of Imam Baqir , on the authority of God’s Prophet :
لَو كَانَ عَلى بَابِ دَارِ أَحَدِكُم نَهَرٌ وَاغْتَسَلَ في كُلِّ يَوْمٍ مِنهُ خَمْسَ مَرَّاتٍ أكانَ يَبْقى في جَسَدِه مِن الدَّرَنِ شَيءٌ؟ (قلت: لا. قال) فإنَّ مَثَلَ الصَّلاةِ كَمَثَلِ النَّهَرِ الجارِي؛ كُلَّما صَلّى صَلاةً كَفَّرَتْ ما بَيْنَهُما مِن الذُّنُوبِ.
“If there was a flowing river right beside your house in which you washed yourself five times each day, would any dirt remain on your bodies?” He was told: “No.” Then he added: “Praying is similar to this river. Whenever you pray the sins you committed between the last time you prayed and this time will all be washed off.”(1)
If the person who prays fulfills all the required conditions, he will then surely be forgiven and saved from punishment as the Prophet said. The Commander of the Faithful also said the following that is recorded in Nahjul Balaghah:
He advised his companions as follows:
تَعَاهَدوا أَمْرَ الصَّلاةِ وَحَافِظوا عَلَيْها وَاسْتَكْثِروا مِنْها وَتَقَرَّبوا بِها فَإنَّها كَانَتْ عَلى المُؤمِنِينَ كِتاباً مَوقُوتاً. ألا تَسْمَعُونَ إلى جَوابِ أهْلِ النَّارِ حِينَ سُئِلوا: مَا سَلَكَكُمْ في سَقَرٍ؟ قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ المُصَلِّينَ. وَإنهَّا لَتَحُطُّ الذُّنُوبَ حَطَّ الوَرَقِ وَتُطْلِقُهَا إطْلاقَ الرَّبْقِ.
“Adhere to praying and guard it. Pray a lot and seek nearness to God through
it, for prayer “..is indeed a timed prescription for the believers”(4:103). Have you not heard the answer of the residents of Hell when they are asked: “’What drew you into Hell’? They will answer, ‘We were not of those who prayed’”(74:42-43). Indeed, prayer sheds sins just as trees shed their leaves, and it sets loose (a person’s) sins just as bonds are let loose.”
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ الصَّوْمِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنَّهُ حِجابٌ ضَرَبَهُ اللهُ عَلَى لِسَانِكَ وَسمْعِكَ وبَصَرِكَ وَفَرْجِكَ وبَطْنِكَ لِيَسْتر'َكَ بهِ مِن النَّارِ وَهَكَذَا جَاءَ فِي الْحَديثِ «الصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ مِنَ النّارِ» فإنْ سكَنَتْ أَطْرَافُكَ فِي حَجَبَتِهَا رَجَوْتَ أَنْ تَكُونَ مَحْجُوبًا. وَإنْ أَنْتَ تَرَكْتَهَا تَضْطَرِبُ فِي حِجَابهَا وتَرْفَعُ جَنَبَاتِ الْحِجَاب فَتُطّلِعُ إلَى مَا لَيْسَ لَهَا بالنَّظْرَةِ الدَّاعِيةِ لِلشَّهْوَةِ وَالقُوَّةِ الْخَارِجَةِ عَنْ حَدِّ التَّقِيَّةِ للهِ لَمْ تَأمَنْ أَنْ تَخرِقَ الْحِجَابَ وَتَخرُجَ مِنْهُ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of fasting is that you should know it is a veil, which God has set up over your tongue, your hearing and your sight, your private parts and your stomach, to protect you from the Fire. This meaning is asserted in the tradition: “Fasting is a shield against the Fire.” Thus if your parts become tranquil within the veil of fasting, you have hopes of being protected.(1) But if you leave them agitated behind the veil and let them lift the sides of the veil, so they look at things that are not lawful for them to look at that incite lust and powers that are beyond the limits of being God-fearing,
you will not be safe from tearing through the veil and coming out of it. And there is no power but in God.
Since sins are usually committed via the tongue, the eyes, the ears, the stomach or the unleashing of sexual desires, Imam Sajjad considers the philosophy behind fasting to be restraining oneself from committing sins. The Imam considers fasting to provide a veil over our body parts that will prevent them from engaging in sin. The Qur’an expresses the same philosophy behind fasting in the following verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O’ ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” [The Holy Qur’an, al--Baqarah 2:183]
We see that self-restraint has been stated to be the main reason behind fasting. Fasting implies self-restraint. It has also been used for abstaining from talking as we read in the following verse in which the Blessed Mary has been ordered not to talk in the form of a fast:
فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا
"So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, 'I have vowed a fast to (God) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being'" [The Holy Qur’an, Maryam 19:26]
From the verse Baqarah 2:183 that was cited above we can also conclude that fasting
is not limited to Muslims and it has been prescribed for those before us. It is most probable that the similarity is only in its prescription for the religions that came before Islam, not in its number of days or time of fasting.
We read the following in the Old Testament regarding fasting:
وَكَانَ هُنَاكَ عِنْدَ الر َّبِّ أَرْبَعِينَ نَهَاراً وَأَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً لَمْ يَأْكُلْ خُبْزاً وَلَمْ يَشْرَبْ مَاءً. فَكَتَبَ عَلَى اللَّوْحَيْنِ كَلِمَاتِ الْعَهْدِ الْكَلِمَاتِ الْعَشَرَ.
“And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.”(1) [The Old Testament, Exodus 34:28]
We read the following in the New Testament regarding fasting:
ثُمَّ أُصْعِدَ يَسُوعُ إِلَى الْبَرِّيَّةِ مِنَ الرُّوحِ لِيُجَرَّبَ مِنْ إِبْلِيسَ. فَبَعْدَ مَا صَامَ أَرْبَعِينَ نَهَاراً وَأَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً جَاعَ أَخِيراً.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” [The New Testament, Matthew 4:1-2]
We read the following in the New Testament regarding fasting by the disciples:
وَقَالُوا لَهُ: «لِمَاذَا يَصُومُ تَلاَمِيذُ يُوحَنَّا كَثِيراً وَيُقَدِّمُونَ طِلْبَاتٍ وَكَذَلِكَ تَلاَمِيذُ الْفَرِّيسِيِّينَ أَيْضاً وَأَمَّا تَلاَمِيذُكَ فَيَأْكُلُونَ وَيَشْرَبُونَ؟» فَقَالَ لَهُمْ: «أَتَقْدِرُونَ أَنْ تَجْعَلُوا بَنِي الْعُرْسِ يَصُومُونَ مَا دَامَ الْعَرِيسُ مَعَهُمْ؟ وَلَكِنْ سَتَأْتِي أَيَّامٌ حِينَ يُرْفَعُ الْعَرِيسُ عَنْهُمْ فَحِينَئِذٍ يَصُومُونَ فِي تِلْكَ الأَيَّامِ
“And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? And
he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” (1) [Luke, 5:33-35]
From the above we can conclude that they fasted too. The number forty is also expressed, but it is not clear how they fasted.(2)
Consider the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, - it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:184]
There are two opinions regarding the meaning of “a fixed number of days.” Some consider it to mean three days from each month. Ibn `Abbas adds the fasting on the day of Ashura(3) to it. Some consider this fasting to be recommended. Others consider it to be obligatory.
Other commentators have interpreted this to refer to the month of Ramadan.(4) The majority of the interpreters of the
Holy Qur’an accept this view. They say that God briefly expresses fasting to be for one or two days, and then says it is for a fixed number of days, that is the month of Ramadan. We can also understand from this verse that fasting is obligatory for those who are not ill or on a journey. When ill or on a journey, one should not fast. However, one should compensate by feeding the poor. Abdul Rahman quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
الصّائِمُ في السَّفَرِ كَالمُفْطِرِ في الحَضَرِ.
“One who fasts while on a journey is like one who breaks his fast while he is at home.”(1)
It has been narrated on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
الصّائِمُ في شَهْرِ رَمَضانَ في السَّفَرِ كَالمُفْطِرِ فِيهِ في الحَضَرِ.
“One who fasts during the month of Ramadan while he is on a journey is like one who is at home and breaks his fast.”(2)
In the interpretation of the above verse, we read in Majma’ al-Bayan: Ayashi quoted Muhammad ibn Muslim on the authority of Imam Sadiq that the Prophet never fasted while on a journey. Then this verse was revealed one day at noon when they were in a place called Kara ul-Ghameem. The Prophet asked for a bowl of water, drank some, and ordered the people to drink too. Some of the people said: “It is near the end of the day. It is better to complete our fast.” Then the Prophet called them sinners. They were called sinners until the time
of the death of the Prophet .
The root of the word ‘Ramadan’ in Arabic is ‘ramaz’ that implies strong shining of the rays of the Sun on pebbles. The Arabs named the various months according to the conditions at the time in which they occurred. The month of fasting was coincident with the peak of the heat. Another account states that Ramadan is one of the Names of God. That is why we are instructed not to refer to the month of fasting as ‘Ramadan’ but ‘the month of Ramadan.” In yet a third account, the month of fasting is called Ramadan because it burns away the sins.
The Qur’an has interpreted fasting as patience. There is a tradition in which Imam Sadiq has been quoted to have said the following in the interpretation of the Almighty God’s statement “Seek help from patience and prayer”: What is meant by patience is fasting. When something really hard descends upon man, he should fast since God the Almighty says “seek help from patience” - that is fasting.”(1) The late Majlisi has said the following in Mir’atul Uqool: The main part of fasting is imprisonment. Fasting is called patience because it imprisons one and restrains him from eating, drinking and love-making.” (2)
We can get a better understanding of the nobility of fasting and its importance by reviewing some of the relevant traditions. Zurarah quoted on the authority of Imam Baqir :
بُنِيَ الإسْلامُ عَلى خَمْسَةِ أشْياءٍ: عَلى الصَّلاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ وَالحَجِّ وَالصَّوْمِ والوِلايَةِ.
“There are five pillars
for Islam: praying, paying the alms-tax, the holy pilgrimage, fasting and the friendship (of the Commander of the Faithful and the leaders that came after him).”(1)
Majlisi said: These may be contemporary things since Islam is shaky without them. Believing in these is a part of Islam. It is also probable that what is meant by friendship is love of the Imams in addition to a belief in them. Isma’il ibn Abi Ziyad quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq on the authority of his grandfathers that the Prophet told his companions:
ألا أُخْبرُكُم بِشَيءٍ إنْ أنتُمْ فَعَلْتُمُوه تَباعَدَ الشَّيْطانُ عَنكُم كَما تَباعَدَ المَشْرِقُ مِن المَغْرِبِ؟ قالوا: بَلى. قالَ: الصَّوْمُ يُسَوِّدُ وَجْهَهُ وَالصَّدَقَةُ تَكْسِرُ ظَهْرَهُ وَالحُبُّ في اللهِ وَالمُؤازَرَةُ عَلى العَمَلِ الصَّالِحِ تَقْطَعُ دَابِرَهُ وَالاسْتِغْفارُ يَقْطَعُ وَتِينَهُ، وَلِكُلِّ شَيءٍ زَكاةٌ وَزَكاةُ الأبْدانِ الصِّيَامُ.
“Do you want me to tell you what you can do that will cause Satan to go as far away from you as the East is from the West?” They said: “O Prophet of God! Yes.” He said: “Fasting blackens Satan’s face. Giving charity breaks his back, love for the sake of God and helping in doing good deeds roots him out, and repentance cuts off his aorta. There is an alms tax for everything, and the alms of the body is fasting.”(2)
The late Majlisi considers this a reliable tradition. Ibn Abi Amir quoted on the authority of some of the companions, on the authority of Imam Sadiq : Almighty God revealed to Moses : What has prevented you from
supplicating to Me? He said: The bad smell of my mouth since I am fasting. God the Almighty revealed:
يا مُوسَى! لخَلُوفُ فَمِ الصَّائِمِ أطْيَبُ عِنْدي مِن ريحِ المِسْكِ.
O Moses! The odour of the mouth of one who is fasting is more agreeable to Me than the fragrance of musk.”(1)
In another tradition, we read that the Prophet of God said:
الصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ مِن النّارِ.
“Fasting is a shield against the Fire.”(2)
Imam Baqir said: God’s Prophet told Jabir ibn Abdullah:
يا جَابِرُ! هَذا شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ؛ مَن صَامَ نَهارَهُ وَقَامَ وِرْداً مِن لَيْلِه وَعَفَّ بَطْنَهُ وَفَرْجَهُ وَكَفَّ لِسانَهُ خَرَجَ مِن ذُنُوبِه كَخُروجِهِ مِن الشَّهْرِ. فَقالَ جابِرُ: يا رَسُولَ الله! مَا أحْسَنَ هَذا الحَدِيثَ. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ علَيه وآلِه: يا جَابِرُ! ومَا أَشَدَّ هَذِه الشُّرُوطَ.
O Jabir! This is the month of Ramadan. Whoever fasts during its days, stands in prayer in its nights, keeps his stomach and his private parts away from what is unlawful, and restrains his tongue shall leave all his sins behind as he leaves this month.” Jabir said: “O Prophet of God! How beautiful are these words.” The Prophet said: “O Jabir! And how difficult are these conditions.”(3)
Imam Sajjad also mentioned these. In another tradition from the Prophet the condition for fasting to be considered as worship is stated to be not gossiping.”(4)
It is quoted upon the authority of Imam Sadiq :
إنَّما فَرَضَ اللهُ الصِّيامَ لِيَسْتَوِيَ بهِ الغَنِيُّ وَالفَقِيرُ، وذَلِكَ أنَّ الغَنيَّ لم يَكُن لِيَجِدَ مَسَّ الجُوعِ فَيَرحَمُ الفَقِيرَ لأنَّ الغَنيَّ كُلَّما أرادَ شَيئاً قَدَرَ عَلَيهِ، فأرَادَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أنْ
يُسَوِّيَ بَينَ خَلْقِهِ وَأنْ يُذِيقَ الغَنيَّ نَيْلَ الجُوعِ والألَمِ لِيَرِقَّ عَلى الضَّعيفِ وَيَرْحَمَ الجائِعَ.
“God made fasting obligatory so that the rich and the poor are made equal. If there were no fasting, the rich would never experience the feeling of hunger that would make them have mercy on the poor, for whenever the rich desire something they are able to acquire it. Thus God desired to place His servants on the same level, and that the rich experience hunger and pain so that they have compassion for the weak and have mercy on the hungry.” (1)
We see in this tradition that one of the philosophies behind fasting in the month of Ramadan is to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor people. Wealth has always divided human societies into two classes - the rich and the poor. The rich who possess means of comfort and convenience can never realize the hardships and pains suffered by the poor and experience what they go through. When one fasts, he gets hungry and thirsty. His human emotions get aroused and he starts to think of ways to help those who are hungry. It is interesting to note that according to Islamic jurisprudence no rich man can pay a poor man to fast instead of him. This clearly shows the purpose behind fasting.
There are several views about fasting expressed by Imam Ali that are recorded in Nahjul Balaghah. For example, he said:
وَزَكاةُ البَدَنِ الصّيامُ.
“The alms tax of the body is fasting.”(2)
that taxing implies growth, development and purification. Here the Imam has referred to the health-related aspect of fasting. In another place he said:
وَصَومُ شَهْرِ رَمَضانَ فإنَّهُ جُنَّةٌ مِن العِقابِ.
“Fasting in the month of Ramadan is a shield against the chastisement.”(1)
In another place he said:
خُمصُ البُطونِ مِن الصِّيامِ ذُبْلُ الشِّفاهِ مِن الدُّعاءِ صُفْرُ الألْوانِ مِن السَّهَرِ عَلى وُجوهِهِم غَبَرَةُ الخاشِعين، أولئِكَ إخْوانيَ الذّاهِبونَ.
“They were those whose stomachs were slim due to fasting, their lips were dry from (continuous) supplications, their faces were pale from staying up at night, and their faces were covered with the dust of humbleness. They were my brothers who are gone now.”(2)
In another of Imam Ali’s wise sayings we read:
الصِّيامُ ابْتِلاءٌ لإخْلاصِ الخَلقِ.
“Fasting is a trial of people’s sincerity.”(3)
In another of Imam Ali’s wise sayings we read that on the day of celebration, he said:
إنَّما هوَ عِيدٌ لمَنْ قَبِلَ اللهُ صِيامَهُ وَشَكَرَ قِيامَهُ، وكُلُّ يَومٍ لا يُعصَى اللهُ فيهِ فَهوَ عِيدٌ.
“It is only a day of celebration (Eid) for those whose fasting God accepts and whose standing up in prayer (at night) He rewards. Every day in which one does not disobey God is a day of celebration.”(4)
In some of his advice he said:
أوصيكم وجميع ولدي... وصلاح ذات البين
“I advise you and my children…. to improve your social affairs, since its reward is more than that of praying and fasting.”(5)
Imam Ali said:
كَم مِن صَائِمٍ ليسَ لهُ مِن صِيامِهِ إلاّ الجُوعُ وَالظَّمَأ، وَكَم مِن قائِمٍ لَيسَ له إلاّ السَّهَرُ وَالعَناءُ. حَبَّذا نَومُ الأكْياسِ وإفْطارُهُم.
“There are many who fast
and gain nothing from their fasting other than suffering from thirst and hunger. Many stay up at night in prayer and gain nothing but sleeplessness and fatigue. How beautiful is the sleeping of the wise, and the breaking of their fasts!”(1)
In the well-known sermon called Qasi’ah, Imam Ali discussed the bad ending of being entrapped by Satan’s plots, and pointed out factors that can save man.
و عن ذلكَ ما حَرَسَ اللهُ عِبادَهُ المؤمِنين بِالصَّلاةِ و الزَّكَواتِ و مُجاهَدَةِ الصِّيامِ في الأيَّامِ المَفْروضَاتِ تَسْكيناً لأطْرافِهِم وَتَخْشِيعاً لأبْصارِهِم وَتَذليلاً لِنُفوسِهِم وَتَخْفِيضاً لِقُلوبِهِم وإذْهاباً لِلخُيَلاءِ عَنهُم وَلِما في ذلِكَ مِن تَعفِير عِتاقِ الوُجوهِ تَواضُعاً وَالتِصاقِ كَرائِمِ الجَوارِحِ بالأرْضِ تَصاغُراً وَلحُوقِ البُطونِ بِالمُتونِ مِن الصِّيامِ تَذَلُّلاً.
“God protects his believing servants from that (Satan’s plots) through praying, paying the alms-tax, striving to fast during the days that fasting is prescribed since these acts will give tranquility to their limbs and hinder them from engaging in sin. They will cause humbleness of the eyes and control of the wild self. They will cause humbleness of the heart and eliminate undue pride and haughtiness. That will be due to tender cheeks being rubbed in the dust out of humility, the most precious limbs cleaving to the earth in abjectness and stomachs adhering to their backs because of fasting in abasement (before God).”(2)
It is said that once an Arab who was riding a camel in the desert ran into a man who was praying. His praying fooled the Arab. He got off his camel, sat down next to
him and said: “How well do you pray!” The man said: “You do not know. I am also fasting.” The man’s praying and fasting fooled the Arab, and he entrusted his camel to him. When he returned he saw neither the man nor his camel. He felt sorry and realized that he should not have been fooled by the man’s praying and fasting, and should not have entrusted his camel to him.(1)
Now that we have studied the various effects of fasting as expressed by Imam Ali let us see what the master of the jurisprudents, Sheikh Muhammad Hasan who is the author of Jawahir ul-Kalam, has said about the positive effects of fasting in the chapter on fasting. He said: “It has been narrated that God the Almighty said:
الصَّومُ لي وأنَا أُجازِي بِه.
Fasting is for Me, and I will reward it (even though I Myself am the reward for fasting).
He added: “The reason it is said that fasting is for God is that it is a private issue which only God knows about. This is opposed to praying that is visible by the people. It is also because through fasting, our physical strength reduces while our intellect and the various faculties are strengthened. Thus we can attain the more precise divine points, heavenly knowledge and the desirable perfections.”(2)
Abu Hamed said: “Fasting is for the sake of God and has an especial nobility. Although all forms of worship are this way, there are two points specific about fasting. They are as
1 Fasting is a form of abstaining that is private. It is a secret that others do not see unlike other forms of worship that are seen in public. No one but God knows about fasting, since it is a personal action done with patience.
2 Fasting is a form of self-restraint that is the greatest blow to God’s enemy. This is because lust is the tool of Satan. Eating and drinking strengthen lust. That is why God’s Prophet said:
إنَّ الشَّيطانَ لَيَجرِي مِن ابْنِ آدَمَ مَجرَى الدَّمِ فَضَيِّقُوا مَجارِيهِ بِالجُوعِ.
“Satan flows through man’s body just like blood. Block off the roaming grounds of Satan via hunger.”(1)
Hunger derived through fasting breaks down Satan and acts as a stronghold against him. Whoever defeats Satan has assisted God. This assistance is related to granting success by God since God has said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ
“O ye who believe! If ye will aid (the cause of) God, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly.” [The Holy Qur’an, Muhammad 47:7]
God also said:
وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
“And those who strive in Our (cause), We will certainly guide them to our Paths: For verily God is with those who do right.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ankabut 29:69]
In another verse God said:
إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ
Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ra’d 13:11]
The change mentioned in this verse
is the elimination of lusts, since lusts are the means by which Satan influences man. We cannot discover the Grandeur of God as long as Satan influences us through our lusts. God’s Prophet said:
لَو لا أنَّ الشَّياطِينَ يَحومونَ عَلى قُلوبِ بَني آدَمَ لَنَظَروا إلى مَلَكُوتِ السَّماءِ.
“If Satans were not hovering around the hearts of the descendants of Adam, men could look at the kingdom of the heavens.”(1)
One of the philosophies behind fasting is health. Before considering the positive effects of fasting on our health, let us see through what ways illnesses affect our health. God’s Prophet said:
المَعِدَةُ بَيتُ كُلِّ داءٍ وَالحِمْيَةُ رَأسَ كُلِّ دَواءٍ
“The stomach is the home of every illness, and abstinence (from food) is the chief of all medicine.”(2)
Imam Kazim said:
الحِمْيَةُ رَأسُ كُلِّ دَواءٍ والمَعِدَةُ بَيتُ الأدْواء.
“Abstinence is the chief of every remedy and the stomach is the home of illnesses.”(3)
He also said:
لَيسَ مِن دَواءٍ إلاّ وَيُهَيِّجُ داءً وَليَس َفي البَدَنِ أنْفَعُ مِن إمْساكِ اليَد الا عَمّا يَحتاجُ إلَيهِ.
“There is no medicine that does not stir up an illness, and nothing is more beneficial for the body than withholding from it all except what it requires.”(4)
God’s Prophet said:
“Fast, and you will be healthy".”(5)
We read in these traditions from the Prophet of God and the seventh Imam who have divine knowledge that the stomach is the home of all illnesses and we can get healthy by abstaining from eating. Al-Asbagh ibn Nubatah narrated that he heard the Commander of the Faithful advise his son Imam Hasan as follows:
“O’ my son! Do you want me to teach you a practice that will make you needless of doctors?” Imam Hasan said: “Yes.” The Commander of the Faithful said that the Prophet said:
لا تَجلِسْ عَلى الطَّعامِ إلاّ وأنْتَ جائِعٌ، وَلا تَقُمْ عَن الطّعامِ إلاّ وَأنْتَ تَشْتَهِيهِ، وَجَوّدِ المَضْغَ، وإذا نِمْتَ فَأعْرِضْ نَفسَكَ عَلى الخَلاءِ، فإذا اسْتَعْمَلْتَ هذا اسْتَغْنَيْتَ عَن الطِّبِّ.
“Do not sit down to eat unless you are hungry. Cease eating while you still have some appetite to eat. Chew your food thoroughly. Go to the toilet before you sleep. If you adhere to these you will not need medical treatment.” (1)
This tradition also shows that overeating is the root of all illnesses.
The skin, the liver, the kidneys and the lungs are all orderly body parts. Our kidneys even know that we should not be awakened at night in order to urinate. The kidneys reduce their secretions to lower the production of urine depending on the stage of our sleep and the darkness of the room. The skin, the lungs and the liver are similar.
However, our intake is so unorderly that even sometimes instead of taking in good and useful things we let in smoke, dust and alcohol. This will pressurize our metabolism beyond its ultimate strength and finally make us ill. The body is like a reservoir of what we eat and drink. Many organs are constantly at work trying to excrete the poisonous material in our body. They need a chance to catch up with our unorderly intake.
Fasting is the perfect means to give our body a chance to get rid of the poisons within it.(1)
Consider the following points regarding the glands:
1) The functions of the glands are interrelated. If one reduces to secrete some hormone, then the functioning of the other glands will be messed up.
2) The hypothalamus is one of the most important glands whose functioning is highly related to the functioning of the suprarenal glands.(2)
3) The hormones produced by the adrenal (suprarenal) glands(3) are very important. They can affect all the cells of our body. Any overeating or eating bad things can have bad effects on the functioning of the hypothalamus.
4) It has been proven that the pancreas(4) and the adrenal glands have an important role on longevity.
5) A close relationship between the functioning of the pancreas gland and the adrenal glands has been proven.
6) It has been proven that as we age there is a reduction in the production of the hormones secreted by the pancreas,(5) but aging does not affect the hormones secreted by the adrenal glands.
7) Vladimir Nikitin who is a professor of biochemistry experimented on rats for many years. He proved that by keeping them hungry through especial means he could extend their life expectancy from 2.5 years to 4.5 years. He believes that when the adrenal glands are kept hungry, they themselves eat up their excess hormones that cause an imbalance. Thus fasting can re-establish our hormonal balance for a while if for some reason our hormones are out
It is thought that whatever we eat is burnt to produce energy for our body and the excess is let out. This is not a correct image of the way our body works. Our body is not like a pond in which food enters from one side, and leaves from the other side. What enters our body must be fresh, but what leaves it is old. The oxygen that enters our body now will leave our body six months later. The same holds true for calcium. If radioactive nitrogen is added to our food, it will appear in the urine several weeks later.
Therefore, we should not expect an instant replacement of the old food in the body with fresh food that we eat. We must wait many days to achieve this. Dr. John Feromozan said: The stored amount of glycogen stored in the kidneys and protein in the blood and fat stored in the body is 30% for men and 20% for women. This amount is sufficient for one month.
Dr. Alexis Carrel in his book Man the Unknown Creature said the following about fasting: “When you fast, the sugar in the blood pours into the kidneys, the fat stored under the skin, the proteins stored in the muscles, the glands and the kidney cells are released and used up.” When we consider both of these statements we conclude that our body is totally repaired after thirty days of fasting and it gets totally rid itself of poisons and old
It is a common misunderstanding that fasting causes ulcers. If it was so, then we should ask why the statistics show more cases of ulcers among the non-Muslim nations who do not fast compared to the Muslim nations. If ulcers were only common among Muslims, then we could suspect a relationship between fasting and ulcers existed. However, this is not the case and there is a growing trend of ulcers in the West. If fasting was a cause of ulcers and given the more than fourteen centuries of fasting by Muslims, ulcers should have become a hereditary disease among the Muslims. However, this is not the case.(2)
The causes of ulcers were investigated in an international conference on diseases of the stomach in September 1966 in Tokyo. Those who attended presented their country’s medical results as to the causes of ulcers. Among these reports, the following were the most common causes of ulcers:
2) Eating many hot foods.
3) Drinking too much water.
4) Usual use of coffee and spices.
5) Excessive use of salty or sour foods.
6) Drinking alcoholic beverages.
The representative from Turkey who attended this conference reported that after the end of the month of fasting it has been found that fasting accelerates this disease. This implies that fasting does not cause ulcers, but if the person is prone to get an ulcer fasting will speed it up. That is why Islam has instructed those who are ill or know that they will get ill if they fast should not fast. Their
fasting is postponed to a later time.
When we eat various foods, some of it passes through the digestive system but is not used up by the cells. It gets stored up under the skin, around the heart and around important body organs. These will cause infections after some time and result in various ailments. The more the excess food, the worse the infection will be. The illnesses have different names, but are all rooted in microbes or viruses that live where there exists excess food. Before any treatment, we must get rid of the trash.
This is only feasible if we do not give our body any food and only drink water. The body will then automatically extract the stored food and get rid of it. Then the disease will be uprooted and show signs of treatment. This method will naturally cleanse the body. If we use other methods and take drugs, the drugs will also affect the healthy cells in our body, and our body will react to the drugs. However, fasting does not have any side effects. Also, note that this is a single treatment for all illnesses.(1)
So far, we have discussed the views of doctors about ways to treat illnesses. We saw that abstaining and fasting is an important part of this treatment, even the last one. Therefore, God who created us made fasting obligatory so that we derive both spiritual and physical benefits from it. We mentioned earlier that Imam Sajjad stressed the importance of controlling our
various organs and directing them in a good way while fasting.
The scholars have mentioned three ranks for fasting. The first rank for fasting is just restraining the stomach from eating and drinking, and restraining our sexual desires. The second rank for fasting implies the additional restraining of our ears, eyes, hands, feet and other organs. Imam Sadiq said:
إذَا صُمْتَ فَلْيَصُمْ سَمعُكَ وَبَصَرُكَ وَشَعرُكَ وجِلدُكَ و…
“When you fast your hearing, your sight, your hair, your skin and other organs should also fast.”
لا يَكُنْ يَومُ صَومِكَ كَيَومِ فِطْرِكَ.
“The day of your fasting should not be like the day that you do not fast.”
In another tradition he said:
وَدَعِ المِراءَ وَأذْيَ الخَادِمِ وَلْيَكُن عَلَيْكَ وَقارُ الصّيامِ فإنَّ رَسولَ اللهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَليهِ وآلِهِ سَمِعَ امْرَأةً تَسُبُّ جارِيَتَها وَهِي صَائِمَةٌ فَدَعى بِطَعامٍ فَقالَ لهَا: كُلِي. فقَالَتْ: إنّي صَائِمَةٌ. قَالَ: كَيفَ تَكُونِينَ صَائِمةً وَقَدْ سَبَبْتِ جَارِيَتَكِ؟ إنَّ الصَّومَ لَيسَ مِن الطَّعامِ وَالشَّرابِ.
Abandon quarrelling and troubling your servant. Let the dignity of those who fast be on you. Once the Prophet heard a woman who was fasting reviling her maid. The Prophet brought her some food and asked her to eat it. She said that she was fasting. The Prophet said: “How could you be fasting when you have reviled your maid? Fasting is not just abstaining from food and drink.”(1)
The next rank of fasting implies whole-hearted fasting. In this state, we abandon all worldly thoughts that distract us from God. This form of fasting is broken when we start to think about worldly affairs. It is
said that it is breaking this form of fast even if you think about what to prepare to break the fast with, since you do not have a strong belief that God will give you the promised daily bread. This rank is specifically for the Prophets and the honest ones who are close to God. God told the Prophet :
قُلِ اللّهُ ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ فِي خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ
..Say: "God (sent it down)": Then leave them to plunge in vain discourse and trifling. [The Holy Qur’an, al-An’am 6:91]
Imam Sadiq narrated that God’s Prophet had said:
الصَّوْم جُنَّةٌ: أيْ سِترٌ مِن آفاتِ الدُّنيا وَحِجابٌ مِن عَذابِ الآخِرَةِ.
“Fasting is a shield: that is, it is a covering against the calamities of this world and a protective barrier against the punishment of the Hereafter.”(1)
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ الحَجّ أَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنّه وِفادةٌ إلى رَبّكَ، و فِرارٌ إليه من ذُنوبكَ وفيهِ قبولُ تَوبتِكَ وقَضاءُ الفَرضِ الَّذي أوجَبَه الله عَليك
And the right of pilgrimage(2) is that you should know that it is an arrival at the threshold of your Lord and a flight to Him from your sins; and through it your repentance is accepted and you perform an obligation made incumbent upon you by God.
The Arabic word ‘Hajj’ used for pilgrimage really means goal or intention. It is used in its other forms to mean road since a road helps us reach where we intend to go. The reason these ceremonies are altogether called pilgrimage or ‘Hajj’ is that once you start, you intend to visit the
House of God.
The Holy Qur’an says:
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّ_نَاتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا وَلِلّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ الله غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ
“The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka(1): Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings: In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to God, - those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, God stands not in need of any of His creatures.” [The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran 3:96-97]
This house is the first stronghold of the Unity of God. It is the oldest house of worship on the Earth. There were no centers to worship God before it. We can conclude from the various existing documents on history and Islam that this house was built by Adam . Later it was damaged by a tornado at the time of Noah . The Prophet Abraham reconstructed it as we read in the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
رَّبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِندَ بَيْتِكَ
"O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy Sacred House…” [The Holy Qur’an, Ibrahim 14:37]
This verse implies that there were some remains of the Ka’ba when Abraham and his offspring and wife(2) arrived at Mecca. Also, consider the following
وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“And remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the House (with this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:127]
This verse shows that the foundations of the Ka’ba existed, and all that Abraham and Isma’il did was to build the House. We can conclude the same thing from the writings of the Commander of the Faithful :
أَلا تَرَوْنَ أَنّ اللهَ سُبحانهُ اخْتبَرَ الأوّليِنَ مِن لَدُنْ آدَمَ صَلواتُ اللهِ عَليهِ إلى الآخِرينَ مِن هذا العالمِ بِأحْجارٍ لا تَضُرّ ولا تَنفَعُ ولا تُبصِرُ ولا تَسمَعُ فَجَعلها بَيتَهُ الحَرامَ … ثمّ أَمَر آدَمَ عليهِ السلامُ ووِلدَهُ أن يُثْنوا أَعطافَهُم نحْوَهُ.
“Do you not see that God the Praised One tested the earlier ones from Adam onwards till the later ones in this world, by expecting them to respect stones that neither harm nor benefit, and neither see nor hear – He made them into His Sacred House. God established it to be the place to honor Him…. Then God ordered Adam and his children to turn towards it.”(1)
Therefore, from the above verses and sermon we can conclude that the Ka’ba was built by Adam , destroyed by the tornadoes at the time of Noah and reconstructed by Abraham .
It is clear that the Ka’ba was the first House of Worship as the above verse said. Now let us consider its privileges. At first, it is blessed both spiritually and
economically. Its spiritual attractions especially during the pilgrimage season are clear for everyone. Let us first consider it from an economical view. Mecca is located on dry land and from a natural point of view, it is not at all a suitable place to live in. However, Mecca has always been one of the developed towns good for living in, ready for business, and traveling to.
Secondly, the Ka’ba is considered a source of guidance for all the people of the world even for those who worshipped idols. There are many clear signs of the Unity of God and worshipping Him in this House. Its surviving the many attacks by the enemies who intended to destroy it throughout history is in itself one such clear sign. Each one of the following is a great reminder of lasting memories: Zamzam,(1) Safa and Marwa,(2) Rokn, Hatim, Hajar ul-Aswad(3) and Hijr Isma’il.
Each of the four sides of the House is called Rukn. Hatim is the name of the space between Hajar ul-Aswad and the door of the Ka’ba. Hijr Isma’il is an especial place that is constructed like an arch on the northwest side of the Ka’ba. Of these clear signs, the Station of Abraham(4) is specifically stated in the above verse since it is the place where Abraham stood to construct the Ka’ba, perform the pilgrimage ceremonies or invite the people to perform these great ceremonies. Fourthly, it is a secure house.
After building the Ka’ba, Abraham said: “O God! Please establish this town
as a secure one.” God accepted the prayer of Abraham and established Mecca as a secure town. Religious laws also consider Mecca so secure that no fighting or war is allowed there. Even animals are secure in Mecca, and no one should bother them. There is a heavy fine established for hunting in the Masjid Al-Haram (the Ka’ba).
Each Muslim who has attained the required conditions must go on the pilgrimage once. If he has not done so when he is alive, someone else should be hired to do so on his behalf when he dies. The jurisprudents have stated the following conditions for going on the pilgrimage:
1) Physical readiness.
2) Financial readiness.
3) Open road access to the Ka’ba.
Again, consider the following verse:
وَلِلّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلا
Pilgrimage to the Holy House is a duty men owe to God, - those who can afford the journey...” [The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran 3:96-97]
In this verse, the pilgrimage to the House of God is considered a duty for those who can afford the journey. We can also conclude that this pilgrimage is not limited to Muslims. Rather it is incumbent upon all the people to go there. This is similar to the expression that
الكُفّارُ مُكَلّفونَ بِالفُروعِ كَما أنَّهُم مُكَلّفونَ بِالأصُولِ.
“The pagans are duty-bound to perform the branches (of religion) as they are bound to abide by the principles.”
Therefore, this verse includes all the people. However, the condition for it to be accepted is to accept Islam. Otherwise, the act will lose its
Ibn Abi’l-Awja` was a vulgar pagan whom scholars used to avoid. One day he was watching the pilgrims with some of his friends in the Al-Haram Mosque one day. Imam Sadiq was sitting in a corner of the mosque and his followers came to ask him questions. Ibn Abi’l-Awja`’s friends told him that it was a good time for him to argue with Imam Sadiq . He agreed with them, went to the place where Imam Sadiq was sitting and said: “O father of Abdullah! It is a fact that such meetings are secure ones. Whoever has some mucous in his chest can cough it up.(2) Will you let me ask a question?” The Imam granted him permission to do so. He was so rude that he dared to say:
الى كمْ تدُوسونَ هذا البَيدرَ وتلوذُونَ بهذا الحَجرِ وتعبُدونَ هذا البيتَ المرفوعَ بالطّوبِ والمدَرِ وتُهروِلونَ حولَهُ هروَلَةَ البعيرِ إذا نفرَ؟ مَن فكّر في هذا وقدّرَ علِمَ أنهُ فِعْلُ غيرِ حكيمٍ ولا ذي نظرٍ. فقُل فأنتَ رأسُ هذا الأمرِ وسَنامُهُ وأبوكَ أُسُّهُ ونِظامُهُ.
“For how long will you trample on this threshing ground and seek refuge in this rock and worship this house made of bricks and clay, and trot around it like unruly camels? Whoever ponders over this and considers it will know that it is an act of one devoid of wisdom or insight. Therefore speak, for you are the leader of this affair and its best one, and your father was its foundation and its criterion.”
These words implied his
inner wickedness and his purely material outlook. The Imam replied:
إِنّ مَن أضلّهُ اللهُ وأعمى قلبَهُ استَوخمَ الحقَّ ولم يستعذِبْهُ وصارَ الشَيطانُ وليَّهُ وربَّهُ ويورِدُهُ مناهِلَ الهَلَكَةِ ولا يُصدِرُهُ.
“He whom God leads astray and whose heart He blinds, finds the truth to be indigestible and disagreeable. Satan becomes his friend and his master and leads him towards the source of total loss from which there is no return.”
The Imam then said that God had established this House as a means by which He shall test men. God has assigned men to visit this House to measure their degree of sincerity of their worshipping Him and submission to Him. This House is the Station of the Prophets. It is the point towards which those who pray turn. The intention is not to worship the stones on the House. Rather the One being worshipped is God who is the Creator of man’s body and soul.(1)
We must realize that all acts of worship including the pilgrimage are indeed demonstrations of the various levels of spiritual development of the Prophets and God’s friends. They display the road covered on the journey towards God. They express how they have moved through the various stages of servitude and reached the position of proximity to God. It is clear that worshipping is the movement of man’s soul towards God. The Noble Prophet said:
إِ نمَا فُرِضَتِ الصّلاةُ وأُمِر بِالحَجِّ والطّوافِ وأُشْعِرتِ المَناسِكُ لإقَامَةِ ذِكْرِ اللهِ، فإِذا لم يكُنْ في قَلبِكَ لِلمذكُورِ الّذي هو المَقصُودُ والمُبتَغى عَظَمَةٌ ولا هَيبَةٌ فَما
“The prayer was made obligatory, performing the pilgrimage and the circumambulation of the Ka’ba were commanded, and the rituals (of Hajj) were made known, only to establish the remembrance of God. If there is no sense of greatness or awe in your heart for the One remembered Who is the objective and the desired one, then of what value is your remembrance?”(1)
Therefore, the pilgrimage ceremonies are a demonstration of a perfect man’s orderly spiritual development that carefully follows the various stages of development. He cuts himself off from all material interests and worldly affairs. He pulls himself out of involvement in the darkness of the self. He reaches the state of submersion in the illumination of the Lord’s Domain. A true pilgrimage is a spiritual motion. It is a development that occurs in the real self.
Pilgrimage stands for perfection. It implies the conversion of a potential power into its physical realization. It is similar to the conversion of one metal to another one in chemistry. It is not a game or entertainment as considered by some fools. How can one compare these childish perceptions with the moving developments of those who are struggling towards proximity to God?
Malik ibn Anas, who is the founder of the Malikiyah sect, narrated that once when he was accompanying Imam Sadiq on a pilgrimage trip, the Imam who was riding a horse could not say ‘labbayk.’(2) Every time he tried, his voice got stuck in his throat and he fell down from his
horse. Malik said: “O’ grandson of the Prophet of God! Say labbayk. You must say labbayk.” Then Imam Sadiq said:
يا بنَ أبي عامِر، كيفَ أجسِرُ أنْ أقولَ: لَبّيْكَ اللّهمَّ لَبّيكَ، وأخْشى أنْ يَقولَ عزّ وجلّ لا لَبّيكَ ولا سَعْدَيكَ.
“O son of Abi A’mer! How dare I say “labbayk Allahumma labbayk”(1) when I fear that God the Almighty may reply: “No. I neither accept you nor shall I admit you.”
If one can set out for and reach the Ka’ba, touch the Hajar al-Aswad with his hands, let his heart reside on the slopes of the Arafah Hills, let him realize God’s symbol of the forbidden, sacrifice the lamb of selfish desires using certitude and contentment as a knife, then he is a real Hajji when he returns if he has been converted to a heavenly gem.
Imam Sajjad said that pilgrimage is “a flight to Him from your sins.” Once you return from the pilgrimage, your sins are forgiven and you are freed from the heavy burden of sins just as when you were first born. There are many traditions in this regard. We shall refer to a few of them here. It has been quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
إنّ رسُولَ اللهِ صلّى اللهُ عليهِ وآلِهِ تَلَقّاهُ أَعرابيٌّ فقال: يا رسولَ اللهِ، إنّي خَرجْتُ أُريدُ الحَجَّ فعَاقَني وأَنا رَجُلٌ مَيِّلٌ (يعني كَثيرَ المَالِ) فَمُرْني أَصنَعْ في مَالي ما أَبلُغُ بهِ ما يبلُغُ به الحَاجُّ. (قال) فَالتَفَتَ رسُولُ اللهِ الى أبي قُبَيسٍ فقال:لو أَنّ أبا قُبَيسٍ لكَ زِنَتُهُ ذَهَبَةٌ حَمراءُ
أَنفَقتَهُ في سبيلِ اللهِ ما بَلَغتَ ما بَلَغَ الحَاجُّ. إنَّ الحَاجَّ إذا أخَذَ في جِهازِهِ لم يَخطُ خُطْوَةً في شَيءٍ مِن جِهازِهِ إِلا كَتَبَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ لهُ عَشْرَ حَسَناتٍ ومحَى عَنهُ عَشْرَ سَيّئاتٍ ورفعَ له عَشْرَ دَرَجَاتٍ، فَإذا رَكِبَ بَعِيرَه ُلم يَرْفَعْ خُفّاً وَلم يَضَعْهُ إلاّ كَتَبَ اللهُ لهُ مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ، فإذَا طَافَ بِالبَيْتِ خَرَجَ مِن ذُنُوبِه، فإذَا رَمَى الجِمارَ خَرَجَ مِن ذُنُوبِه… فَعَدَّدَ رَسُولُ اللهِ كَذا وَكَذا مَوقِفاً إذا وَقَفَها الحَاجُّ خَرَجَ مِن ذُنُوبِه ثُمّ قالَ: أَنّى لَكَ أنْ تَبْلُغَ ما يَبلُغُ الحاجُّ؟
A Bedouin visited the Noble Prophet of God and said: I left my house and set out for pilgrimage. However, for some reason I could not proceed, and lost the opportunity to go on pilgrimage. I am a rich man. Tell me what I can do so that God grants me what He grants a Hajji.” The Prophet looked at the Abu Qubays mountain and said: “If this mountain was made of red gold and it was all yours, you could not get the reward that God gives a Hajji if you donated it all for the sake of God.
When a pilgrim begins preparing his provisions for the journey, he is given the reward for ten good deeds and ten of his wicked deeds are forgiven for every step that he takes for its preparation. His rank near God is elevated ten degrees. When he rides in his mount, God will record the same kind of reward for him for every step that he raises up
and lowers. Once he performs the circumambulations of the House of God, his sins are gone. When he throws stones at the symbols of idols, his sins depart.” The Prophet repeated the same sentence for each of the stations. Then he said: “How can you attain the reward that the Hajji attains?”
Then Imam Sadiq added:
وَلا تُكتَبُ عَليهِ الذّنوبُ أرْبَعَةَ أشْهُرٍ وتُكْتَبُ لهُ الحَسَناتُ إلاّ أنْ يأتِيَ بِكَبِيرَةٍ.
“No sins will be recorded for him for four months (after Hajj) while his good deeds will be recorded, unless he commits a major sin.”
When Imam Sajjad heard someone beg from the people, he said:
وَيحَكَ، أغَيرَ اللهِ تسأَلُ في هَذا المقامِ؟ إنّه ليُرجَى لمِا في بُطونِ الجِبالِ في هذا اليَومِ أن يَكونَ سَعِيداً.
“Shame on you! Are you begging from others in this place? Here God’s Mercy is so encompassing that it is even expected that whatever lies in the depths of the mountains shall benefit from it and become prosperous today.”(1)
Regarding this tradition, the late Fayz said: “Prosperity is relative. Everything has one form of prosperity. It may be meant that plants grow from the depths of the mountains which may then undergo many changes and finally result in the formation of a fetus that turns into a prosperous man.” In another recording of this tradition in Mustadrak al-Wasa’el instead of ‘depth of the mountains’, it is written ‘inside pregnant women.’ The Arabic words for these two phrases are very similar to each other with one dot being the difference. A man asked Imam
Sadiq in the Al-Haram Mosque: “Whose sin is greater than everyone else’s?” He replied:
مَن يقِفْ بهَذَينِ المَوقِفَينِ؛ عَرَفَةَ والمُزدَلِفَةِ، وسَعى بَينَ هذَينِ الجَبَلَينِ ثمّ طَافَ بهذا البَيتِ وصَلّى خَلفَ مَقامِ إبْراهِيمَ ثُمّ قالَ في نَفْسِهِ أو ظَنَّ أنَّ الله لم يَغفِرْ لهُ فَهوَ مِن أعظَمِ الناسِ وِزراً.
“Whoever stops at these two stations of Arafeh and Mash’ar, does the ceremonies for between the two hills (of Safa and Marwa), circumambulates around this House and prays at the station of Abraham, then says to himself or thinks that God has not forgiven him - has committed the greatest sin.”(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
مَا مِن رَجُلٍ مِن أهْلِ كُورَةٍ وقفَ بِعَرَفَةَ مِن المُؤمِنينَ إلا غَفَرَ اللهُ لأَهلِ تِلكَ الكُورَةِ مِن المُؤمِنينَ. ومَا مِن رَجُلٍ وقفَ بَعَرَفَةَ مِن أهْلِ بيتٍ مِن المُؤمِنينَ إلا غَفَرَ اللهُ لأهلِ ذلكَ البَيتِ مِن المُؤمِنينَ.
“Whenever a faithful man from a village or a town stops in Arafeh, God will forgive all the faithful men from that village or town. Whenever a faithful man stops in Arafeh, God will forgive all the faithful members of his household.”(2)
It should be noted that faith that is the root of piety is stressed here.
God honors man, places the crown of nobility on his head, awakens his long asleep conscience, encourages him to be grateful and invites him to go on pilgrimage and circumambulate His House.
وَلِلّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً
“Pilgrimage to the Sacred House is a duty men owe to God, - those who can afford the journey.” [The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran
This means that God who has created man, provided for his sustenance and given him many blessings has the right to invite man to come to His House as a sign of being grateful to Him. This will preserve man’s nobility.
Now let us consider the many blessings that God grants those who visit His House. Sa’d Al-Iskafi narrated that he heard Imam Baqir say:
إنَّ الحَاجَّ إذا أخَذَ في جِهازِهِ لم يَخطُ خُطْوَةً في شَيءٍ مِن جِهازِهِ إِلا كَتَبَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ لهُ عَشْرَ حَسَناتٍ ومحَى عَنهُ عَشْرَ سَيّئاتٍ ورفعَ له عَشْرَ دَرَجَاتٍ حتّى يفْرُغَ مِن جِهازِهِ مَتى ما فَرَغ.
“When someone begins preparing his provisions for the Hajj, he does not take a step in its preparation but that God the Almighty records ten good deeds for him, forgives ten of his sins, and raises his rank ten degrees until he finishes his preparations, leaves the house and starts his trip. Then God will give him better rewards.”(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
الحُجَّاجُ يَصدُرونَ على ثَلاثةِ أصنافٍ؛ صِنفٌ يُعْتَقُ مِن النّارِ وَصِنْفٌ يَخْرُجُ من ذُنوبهِ كَهَيئَةِ يومِ وَلدَتهُ أُمُّهُ وصِنْفٌ يُحْفَظُ في أَهلِهِ ومَالِهِ، فَذلِكَ أَدْنى مَا يَرجِعُ به الحَاجُّ.
“The Hajjis are divided into three groups after they return from Hajj. A group of them is freed from the Fire. Another group includes those whose sins are forgiven and are just as they were when they were born. The third group includes those whose family and wealth will be safeguarded. This is the minimum benefit that one gains.”(2)
The difference is clear since the reward
one gets depends on one’s intention and the degree of recognition of the secrets of worshipping.
وَأَمَّا حَقُّ الصَّدَقَةِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أنَّها ذُخرُكَ عِنْدَ رَبكَ وَوَديعَتُكَ الَّتِي لا تَحْتَاجُ إلَى الإشْهَادِ، فَإذا عَلِمْتَ ذَلِك كُنْتَ بمَا اسْتَودَعْتَهُ سِرًّا أَوْثقَ بمَا اسْتَوْدَعْتَهُ عَلانِيَةً، وَكُنْتَ جَدِيرًا أَنْ تَكونَ أَسْرَرْتَ إلَيْهِ أَمْرًا أَعْلَنْتَهُ، وَكَانَ الأَمْرُ بَيْنَكَ وبَيْنَهُ فِيهَا سِرًّا عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ وَلَمْ تَسْتَظْهِرْ عَلَيْهِ فِيمَا اسْتَوْدَعْتَهُ مِنْهَا بإشْهَادِ الأَسْمَاعِ وَالأَبْصَارِ عَلَيْهِ بهَا كَأنَّهَا أَوْثقُ فِي نَفْسِكَ لا كَأنَّكَ لا تثِقُ بهِ فِي تَأْديَةِ وَديعَتِكَ إلَيْكَ، ثُمَّ لَمْ تَمْتَنَّ بهَا عَلَى أَحَدٍ لأَنّهَا لَكَ فَإذا امْتَنَنْتَ بهَا لَمْ تَأْمَنْ أَنْ تَكُونَ بهَا مِثْلَ تَهْجِينِ حَالِكَ مِنْهَا إلَى مَنْ مَنَنْتَ بهَا عَلَيْهِ لأَنَّ فِي ذلِكَ دَلِيلاً عَلَى أَنّكَ لَمْ تُرِدْ نفْسَكَ بهَا، وَلَوْ أَرَدْتَ نفْسَكَ بهَا لَمْ تَمْتَنَّ بهَا عَلَى أَحَدٍ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of charity is that you should know that it is a storing away with your Lord and a deposit for which you will have no need for witnesses. Then once you know this you will be more confident of it if you donate it in secret than if you donate it in public.(1) It is more appropriate for you to do privately what you now do in public and keep the affairs between you and Him secret under all circumstances. And you should also not take your hearing and sight as witnesses for the donations that you make in charity as if you have the most trust in yourself.(2)
It should not be as if you
are not sure that your donations will be returned to you. Finally you should not remind others of your favors since you have done so for yourself. If you remind them of your favors, you will not be immune from being similarly reminded of others’ favors to you. Moreover this will prove that your intentions were not pure. If you had pure intentions you would not remind anyone of it. And there is no power but in God.
Imam Sajjad has stressed three important points here.
1) Charity is a form of savings. Therefore, it will not get lost. It might seem to us that we lose what we give away in charity while it is not so. Rather the Qur’an encourages us to benefit from the wealth of this world as we see in the following verse:
وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا
Nor forget thy portion in this world…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qasas 28:77]
2) Giving charity in private is better than in public. That may be because there is a possibility of hypocrisy and showing off in acts of charity done in public. In addition to this, the one who is receiving charity will also be belittled when charity is given in public.
3) Charity should not be mixed with mentioning it since that will nullify its effect. As we will explain later, what is donated in charity will reach God first. Even more important is the fact that when charity is given in private it helps in the development of the understanding that
God is the real donator in the mind of the one who is donating something. He realizes that he is only an intermediate agent in this affair and understands the real meaning of being a servant of God.
What Imam Sajjad expressed about charity is supported by many verses of the Holy Qur’an some of which we will discuss here. We should make it clear that charity implies what one donates from his own property in order to get closer to God. It is a general term and covers both the obligatory alms tax and the recommendable forms of giving donations. God the Almighty said:
مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّئَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of God is that of a grain of corn: it groweth seven ears, and each ear hath a hundred grains. God giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth: And God careth for all and He knoweth all things.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:261]
This parable of how a grain of corn grows and yields a manifold increase shows how one’s charity is returned to God. The Qur’an says that each person’s actions are a reflection of his personality. It is not true that our actions are manifestations of our physical powers. In this parable, the one who gives charity is said to be similar to one who plants corn. The result of his act
is a manifold increase. Things done in the way of God imply acts done for pleasing God alone.
The gap between the various social classes has always been one of the major problems facing man. It is even worse today even though there have been tremendous technological advances. There are some people who are extremely rich and many others who are extremely poor today. It is clear that a society in which most of the people are hungry and poor, and some are very wealthy cannot last very long. Undoubtedly there will be stress, animosities or even fights in such a society.
A careful examination of the verses of the Qur’an on this issue clearly indicates that Islam aims to eliminate unjust social differences between the rich and the poor. It aims to establish certain means by which the standard of living of the poor people can be elevated to a point at which they can at least benefit from minimum living necessities. To achieve this goal Islam has absolutely forbidden usury. It has also established certain obligatory taxes such as the alms-tax and the one-fifth levy. It has also encouraged many voluntary forms of charity to help achieve this goal.
The Qur’an clearly shows the various results of charity using various examples and drawing similitude. Consider the following verse in this regard:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تُبْطِلُواْ صَدَقَاتِكُم بِالْمَنِّ وَالأذَى كَالَّذِي يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَاء النَّاسِ وَلاَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ صَفْوَانٍ عَلَيْهِ تُرَابٌ فَأَصَابَهُ وَابِلٌ فَتَرَكَهُ صَلْدًا لاَّ يَقْدِرُونَ عَلَى
شَيْءٍ مِّمَّا كَسَبُواْ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ
“O ye who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury, - like those who spend their substance to be seen of men, but believe neither in God nor in the Last Day. They are in parable like a hard, barren rock, on which is a little soil: on it falls heavy rain, which leaves it (just) a bare stone. They will be able to do nothing with aught they have earned. And God guideth not those who reject faith.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:264]
Consider a hard rock covered by a thin layer of dirt. If seeds are planted in the dirt, there is plenty of good weather and sunshine, and then there is a heavy rainfall, the seeds will be washed off along with the dirt. The rock is so hard that the seed cannot grow on it and the barren hard appearance of the rock will appear again.
This does not happen because the sunshine, the good climate or the rains have had a bad effect. Rather it is because the place was not suitable for growth. It has had a good appearance, but it has been solid hardness beneath.
There has been only a small layer of dirt on the surface while a deep layer of soft soil is needed for the roots to be able to grow and extract nutrients to ensure proper growth. The Qur’an draws a similitude between hypocritical acts of charity that are
at times even accompanied by hurting and mentioning; and a shallow layer of dirt on a barren hard rock. This act cannot bear any fruits. It will only result in the efforts being wasted. That is why Imam Sajjad said: “Finally you should not remind others of your favors since you have done so for yourself.”
Now let us consider the points mentioned in Tafsir-i-Namooneh regarding this verse. First, it can be concluded from this verse that some deeds might eliminate the results of other deeds. Secondly, the similitude used here is a very good one since hypocrites usually cover up their wicked inner thoughts with superficial acts of charity that are not deeply rooted in their beliefs. They do so in order to fool the people, but the vicissitudes of life will ultimately uncover their inner thoughts.(1)
Consider a beautiful garden on a high mountainside. The cool breeze and plentiful sunshine and rain make the flowers and trees grow. Even when there is no rain, the moisture from the dew will maintain the garden’s freshness and beauty. Because of this, the garden will yield double the amount that other gardens produce. Consider the following verse that draws such a similitude:
وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمُ ابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِ اللّهِ وَتَثْبِيتًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ كَمَثَلِ جَنَّةٍ بِرَبْوَةٍ أَصَابَهَا وَابِلٌ فَآتَتْ أُكُلَهَا ضِعْفَيْنِ فَإِن لَّمْ يُصِبْهَا وَابِلٌ فَطَلٌّ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
“And the likeness of those who spend their substance, seeking to please God and to strengthen their souls, is as a garden, high and fertile: heavy
rain falls on it but makes it yield a double increase of harvest, and if it receives not heavy rain, light moisture sufficeth it. God seeth well whatever ye do.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:265]
Being located on the slope of a high mountainside, the garden presents a beautiful scene to passers-by and is safe from the threats of flooding. The people who give charity for the sake of God due to their certain belief in God are similar to such a garden. They will generate great products. It is worth mentioning here that proper motivations for charity are expressed to be seeking God’s pleasure, strengthening one’s faith and gaining a feeling of peace and tranquility in one’s heart.
True sincere donors of charity are those who do so to please God, develop noble characteristics within themselves and terminate their conscious feelings of responsibility for the deprived. The verse ends with a warning that God sees well whatever we do in order to alert us not to harbor ill intentions in our deeds.(1)
By saying “And you should not take your hearing and sight as witnesses for the donations that you make in charity…” Imam Sajjad highly stresses giving charity in private. Of course, this applies to the recommendable forms of charity. Obligatory forms of charity such as the alms-tax can obviously be given in public. Consider the following verse:
إِن تُبْدُواْ الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ وَإِن تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاء فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لُّكُمْ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنكُم مِّن سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
“If ye disclose (acts of)
charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you: It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. And God is well acquainted with what ye do.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:271]
There is no doubt that both forms of public and private charities are beneficial. When charity is given in public, others get encouraged to participate. This is even more effective if it is the obligatory form of charity. This will also end probable accusations that one has not performed his obligatory duties. If the charity is in a recommendable form, then it can serve as a means to encourage others to serve the poor and the deprived people. However, when charity is given privately it is certainly void of hypocrisy.
We read in Majma’ al-Bayan that “obligatory donations of charity should be made in public, while it is better for recommended donations of charity to be made in private.”(1) Charity helps remove some of our sins. What are important are one’s sincerity and good intentions. It does not matter whether the people know or do not know what we do. It suffices that God knows, as He is aware of everything, whether it be done in public or private.
Consider the following verse:
لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَ_كِنَّ اللّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلأنفُسِكُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَاء وَجْهِ اللّهِ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ
“It is not required of
thee (O Apostle), to set them on the right path, but God sets on the right path whom He pleaseth. Whatever of good ye give benefits your own souls, and ye shall only do so seeking the "Face"(1) of God. Whatever good ye give, shall be rendered back to you, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:272]
It has been quoted on the authority of Ibn `Abbas that Muslims were not willing to give charity to non-Muslims.(2) Then the above verse was revealed to permit them to do so when necessary. From this verse, we also realize that the benefits of what we do return to ourselves. We all know that when man knows that the results of what he does will benefit him, he will be more eager to do that deed. There are many material and spiritual benefits for charity. The spiritual effect of charity is that it strengthens our sense of self-sacrifice, giving and love for others. Therefore, it is a powerful tool for the development of one’s personality.
The economic benefits of charity are to help reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Undoubtedly the existence of poor and deprived people in the society will lead to an outbreak of violence and crimes which may at times lead to anarchy. This would make life hard for both the rich and the poor people. Therefore giving charity is good for the society and those who make donations both economically and spiritually.
reference to “the Face of God” in the above verse is used in a symbolic way meaning that those who give charity should sincerely do it for the sake of God. We are also warned that we will not just gain a small reward for what we give in charity. Rather we get back all that we give and not the least bit of injustice is done to us. This could also mean that our deeds will have a manifestation. After reviewing some of the verses of the Qur’an on this issue let us now study some of the relevant traditions.
There are many traditions about charity. We will briefly present a few of them here.
Giving charity will increase our share of daily bread. Sakuni quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq on the authority of God’s Prophet :
تَصَدّقُوا فإنَّ الصَّدَقَةَ تَزيدُ في المَالِ كَثْرَةً، فَتَصَدَّقوا رَحِمَكُم اللهُ.
“Give charity since it will cause an increase in your wealth. Therefore give charity and God will have Mercy upon you.”(1)
Imam Kazim said:
اسْتَنْزِلوا الرِّزْقَ بِالصَّدَقَةِ.
“By giving charity seek the descension of your daily bread.”(2)
Imam Ridha quoted on the authority of his father on the authority of the Noble Prophet :
خَيرُ مالِ المَرءِ وَذَخائِرُهُ الصَّدَقَةُ.
“The best of a person’s wealth and savings is what he gives in charity.”(3)
The Prophet of God said:
دَاووا مَرْضاكُمْ بِالصَّدَقَةِ.
“Treat your patients by giving charity.”(4)
Thus we realize that the ill can be treated by both medications and giving charity. Abdullah ibn San’an quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
بِالصَّدَقَةِ وادْفَعوا البَلاءَ بِالدُّعَاءِ واسْتَنْزِلوا الرِّزْقَ بِالصَّدَقَةِ فإنهَّا تَفُكُّ مِن بَينِ لحَيِْ سَبْعِمِائَةِ شَيطانٍ.
“Treat your patients by giving charity, and fend off calamities by supplications. Seek the descension of your share of the daily bread by giving charity since it will free you from the jaws of seven hundred Satans.”(1)
Abdullah ibn San’an quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq who said:
يُسْتَحَبُّ لِلمَريضِ أنْ يُعطِيَ السّائِلَ بِيَدِهِ وَيأمُرَ السّائلَ أنْ يَدعُوَ لهُ.
“It is recommended for an ill person to give charity to a poor person with his own hands and ask the poor man to pray for him.”(2)
Musa ibn Hasan quoted on the authority of Imam Ridha :
ظَهرَ في بَني إسْرائيلَ قَحطٌ شَديدٌ سِنِينَ مُتَواتِرَةً، وَكَانَ عِنْد امْرَأةٍ لُقْمَةٌ مِن خُبزٍ فَوَضَعَتها في فِيها لِتأكُلَها فَنَادى السّائِلُ: يا أَمَةَ اللهِ، الجُوعَ! فقَالتِ المَرأةُ: أَتَصَدَّقُ في مِثلِ هذا الزَّمانِ. فَأخْرَجَتْها مِن فِيها وَدَفَعَتْها إلى السّائلِ. وكَانَ لها وَلَدٌ صَغيرٌ يحتَطِبُ في الصَّحْراءِ، فَجَاءَ ذِئبٌ فَحَمَلَهُ. فَوَقَعتِ الصَّيحَةُ فَعَدَتِ الأمُّ في أَثَرِ الذِّئْبِ. فبَعَثَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ جْبرئيلُ عَلَيهِ السَّلامُ فأخْرَجَ الغُلامَ مِن فمِ الذِّئبِ فَدَفَعهُ إلى أُمِّه. ثُمَّ قال لها جِبرئيلُ عليهِ السّلامُ: يا أَمَةَ اللهِ، أَرَضِيتِ لُقْمَةً بِلُقْمةٍ؟
There was famine among the children of Israel for many consecutive years. A woman had just one morsel to eat. She put it in her mouth to eat, but a poor man called out and said: “O lady! I am about to die of hunger.” The woman thought that it was time to give charity, so she withdrew the food from her mouth and
gave it to the poor man. She had a small child who had gone to the desert to collect some wood to burn.
A wolf came and carried him away and he screamed. The woman heard him scream, and went after the wolf. God sent Gabriel down to save the child from the wolf’s mouth and to hand him over to his mother. Then Gabriel told her: “O bondmaid of God! Are you satisfied with a morsel for a morsel?”(1)
This is a clear example of what is meant when Imam Sajjad says: “your donations will be returned to you.”
There is another event supporting this. Ali ibn Ibrahim quoted the following tradition about the events that happened to a Jew at the time of the Prophet on the authority of Ahmad ibn Muhammad, on the authority of Salim ibn Mukarram, on the authority of Imam Sadiq . The man was going to go somewhere. The Prophet said that a black snake would follow him and kill him. The Jew went and returned after a while with a load of wooden sticks on his back. The Prophet asked him to drop the load on the ground. He did so, and a black snake came out.
The Prophet asked the Jew what he had done that day. The Jew said that he had done nothing special. He said that he had picked up the wooden sticks and had given one of the two loaves of bread he had to eat to a poor man and
had eaten one himself. The Prophet told him that his life had been saved due to his act of charity. Then the Prophet said:
الصَّدَقَةُ تَدفَعُ مِيتَةَ السُّوءِ.
“Giving charity drives away a bad death.”(1)
Hanan ibn Sodayr quoted on the authority of his father on the authority of Imam Baqir :
إنَّ الصَّدَقَةَ لَتَدْفَعُ سَبعِينَ بَلِيَّةٍ مِن بَلايا الدُّنيا مَع مِيتَةِ السُّوءِ، وإنَّ صاحِبَها لا يمُوتُ مِيتَة السُّوءِ أبَداً مَع ما يُدَّخَرُ لِصاحِبِها في الآخِرَةِ.
“Giving charity will fend off seventy of this world’s calamities and save you from a bad death in addition to granting you the rewards for the Hereafter.”(2)
As seen from the Qur’anic verses cited above giving charity in private or in public is recommendable and has a reward. There are also several traditions that point this out. Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
صَدَقَةُ السِّرِّ تُطفِئُ غَضَبَ الرَّبِّ
“Giving charity secretly will quench God’s wrath.”(3)
Umar ibn Yazid quoted on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
صَدَقَةُ العَلانِيَةِ تَدْفَعُ سَبعِينَ نَوعاً مِن أنْواعِ البَلاءِ وصَدَقَةُ السِّرِّ تُطفِئُ غَضَبَ الرَّبِّ.
“Giving charity openly will fend off seventy types of calamities and giving charity secretly will extinguish the wrath of the Lord.”(4)
Fazl ibn al-Hasan al-Tabarsi wrote in Majma’ al-Bayan that the Imam said:
صَدَقَةُ السِّرِّ تُطفِئُ غَضَبَ الرَّبِّ وَتُطفِئُ الخَطيئَةَ كَما يُطفِئُ الماءُ النّارَ وَتَدْفَعُ سَبعينَ باباً مِن البَلاءِ.
“Giving charity in secret will quench the Wrath of the Lord and wipe out wrong-doings just as water puts out fire. It will also ward off seventy types of calamities.”(5)
Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of
God’s Prophet :
أَرضُ القِيامَةِ نارٌ ما خَلا ظِلِّ المُؤمِنِ؛ فإنَّ صَدَقَتَهُ تُظِلُّهُ.
“The plains of the Day of Judgment will be full of Fire except for the shadow of the believer, for his acts of charity will shade him.”(1)
The Commander of the Faithful said:
صَدَقَةُ السِّرِّ تُكَفِّرُ الخَطيئَةَ وَصَدَقَةُ العَلانِيَةِ مِثْراةٌ في المَالِ.
“Giving charity in secret will compensate for wrong-doings and sins, and giving charity in public will increase your wealth.”(2)
He also said:
سَبْعَةٌ يُظِلُّهُم اللهُ في ظِلِّهِ يَومَ لا ظِلَّ إلاّ ظِلُّه… وَرَجُلٌ تَصَدَّقَ بِصَدَقَةٍ فَأخْفاها حَتىّ لم تَعْلَمْ يَمِينُهُ ما تُنْفِقُ شِمالُهُ.
“God will shade seven (groups of people) under His Shadow on the Day when there is no shadow other than His… One are those who give charity in the most secret way so that their right hand does not know what their left has given in charity!”(3)
وَأمَّا حَقُّ الهَدْيِ فَأَنْ تُخلِصَ بهَا الإرَادَةَ إلَى رَبكَ وَالتَّعَرُّضَ لِرَحْمَتِهِ وَقَبُولِهِ ولا تُرِيدَ عُيُونَ النَّاظِرِينَ دُونهُ، فإذَا كُنْتَ كَذَلِكَ لَمْ تَكُنْ مُتَكَلِّفًا ولا مُتَصَنِّعًا وَكُنْتَ إنَّمَا تَقْصِدُ إلَى الله. وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الله يُرَادُ بالْيَسيرِ وَلا يُرَادُ بالْعسِيرِ كَمَا أَرَادَ بخَلْقِهِ التَّيْسِيرَ وَلَمْ يُرِدْ بهِمُ التَّعْسِيرَ، وَكَذَلِكَ التَّذَلُّلَ أَوْلَى بكَ مِن التَّدَهْقُنِ لأَنَّ الْكُلْفَةَ وَالْمَئونَةَ فِي الْمُتَدَهْقِنِينَ. فَأمَّا التَّذَلُّلُ وَالتَّمَسْكُنُ فَلا كُلْفَةَ فِيهِمَا وَلا مَئونةَ عَلَيْهِمَا لأَنَّهُمَا الْخِلْقَةَ وهُمَا مَوجُودَانِ فِي الطَّبيعَةِ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of the offering(4) is that through it(5) you purify your will toward your Lord, and expose yourself to His Mercy, and His approval and not the eyes of the observers lower than Him.
If this is so, you will neither be hypocritical nor extravagant. You will only intend the offering for God’s sake, and know that God wishes your ease, and does not wish your hardship.
He also wishes His creatures to take it easy, and does not wish them to suffer hardships. Likewise, modesty is better than arrogance, for there lies extravagance and falsehood in the arrogant, while there are no formalities or falsehoods in the humble and the servile, since they are creatures and they exist in nature. There is no power but in God.
The Arabic word ‘hada’ meaning offering is used to refer to the sacrifice made for the holy pilgrimage to the Ka’ba.(1) We read the following verse in the Holy Qur’an:
وَلاَ تَحْلِقُواْ رُؤُوسَكُمْ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ الْهَدْيُ مَحِلَّهُ
“And do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice...” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:196]
This is called an offering since it is like a gift some give to others after they sacrifice it. This is similar to the present that the queen of Sheba sent for Solomon as we read in the following verse:
وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ
"But I am going to send him a present, and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) ambassadors."[The Holy Qur’an, al-Naml 27:35]
This word has been used seven times in the Holy Qur’an. In all instances, it is used to refer to the sacrifice made for the pilgrimage.
The second obligatory act in Mina for those who go on
the pilgrimage is to send an offering for sacrifice. This offering is intended to be an act to get closer to God. We read the following in Majma’ al-Bahrain: “Offering refers to any good deed done with the intention of getting closer to God.” If we want to better understand what Imam Sajjad said about the offering, we should review the Qur’anic verses on this issue. Consider the following verse:
وَأَتِمُّواْ الْحَجَّ وَالْعُمْرَةَ لِلّهِ فَإِنْ أُحْصِرْتُمْ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ وَلاَ تَحْلِقُواْ رُؤُوسَكُمْ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ الْهَدْيُ مَحِلَّهُ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضاً أَوْ بِهِ أَذًى مِّن رَّأْسِهِ فَفِدْيَةٌ مِّن صِيَامٍ أَوْ صَدَقَةٍ أَوْ نُسُكٍ فَإِذَا أَمِنتُمْ فَمَن تَمَتَّعَ بِالْعُمْرَةِ إِلَى الْحَجِّ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ...
“And complete the Hajj or 'Umrah in the service of God. But if ye are prevented (from completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (necessitating shaving), (he should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if anyone wishes to continue the 'Umrah on to the Hajj, he must make an offering, such as he can afford…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:196]
In this verse God has spoken of the offering three times.
The first occasion is concerned with the situation where you are in the service of God, but you are prevented from completing
it because of getting ill. In this case, you must send an offering for sacrifice.
The second occasion is on the day of celebration before shaving the head and after the ritual stoning of devil. It is not allowed to shave until the offering is sacrificed.
The third case is when you are in peaceful conditions again. Sending an offering for sacrifice in Mina is the certain duty of any pilgrim who wants to participate in the pilgrimage ceremonies.
يا أيُّها الَّذين أمَنُوا لا تُحِلُّوا شَعائِرِ اللهِ و لا الشَّهْرَ الحَرامَ و لا الهَدْىَ و لا القَلائِدَ و لا أمِّينَ البَيْتَ الحَرامَ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلاً مِنَ اللهِ و رِضْواناً
“O ye who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the symbols of God, nor of the Sacred Month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the Sacred House, seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:3]
There are eight decrees in this verse. One is related to animals brought for sacrifice - marked or unmarked. The same issue is pointed out in the following verse:
جَعَلَ اللّهُ الْكَعْبَةَ الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ قِيَامًا لِّلنَّاسِ وَالشَّهْرَ الْحَرَامَ وَالْهَدْيَ وَالْقَلاَئِدَ ذَلِكَ لِتَعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
“God made the Ka'ba, the Sacred House, an asylum of security for men, as also the Sacred Months, the animals for offerings, and the garlands that mark them…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:97]
In another verse we read:
أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَقْتُلُواْ الصَّيْدَ وَأَنتُمْ حُرُمٌ وَمَن قَتَلَهُ مِنكُم مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاء مِّثْلُ مَا قَتَلَ مِنَ النَّعَمِ يَحْكُمُ بِهِ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِّنكُمْ هَدْيًا بَالِغَ الْكَعْبَةِ
“O ye who believe! Kill not game while in the sacred precincts or in pilgrim garb. If any of you doth so intentionally, the compensation is an offering, brought to the Ka'ba of a domestic animal equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you...” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:95]
The compensation must be donated to the Ka’ba. Jurisprudents agree that the expiation related to hunting while in Umrah should be sacrificed in Mecca and that related to hunting while in Hajj should be sacrificed in Mina. They also agree on the place of sacrifice. The issue of the sacrificial animals is again referred to in the following verse:
هُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَصَدُّوكُمْ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْهَدْيَ مَعْكُوفًا أَن يَبْلُغَ مَحِلَّهُ
“They are the ones who denied Revelation and hindered you from the Sacred Mosque and the sacrificial animals, detained from reaching their place of sacrifice…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Fath 48:25]
These were the seven instances where the offering to sacrifice is mentioned in the Qur’an. We understand the importance of the offering and realize that this is done in order to obey God and to approach Him, and that it is to be taken to Ka’ba or the place of sacrifice.
Everyone is instructed to know when the practice of sending an offering for sacrifice started. Historical records show various forms of offering for
sacrifice existed in different nations. The Qur’an has stated the origin of this practice to be at the time of the two sons of Adam as we read in the following verse:
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِن أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الآخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
“Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! They each presented a sacrifice (to God): It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: "Be sure I will slay thee." "Surely," said the former, "God doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:27]
We can see that presenting a sacrifice to God is one of the means of approaching God. Since the present of one of them was accepted, the other one threatened to kill him. The two sons of Adam used this practice to test their closeness to God. Abraham also tested his closeness to God through presenting a sacrifice.
As understood from the Old Testament, God ordered him to sacrifice an animal.(1) The children of Abraham expressed their closeness to God through offering sacrificial animals. The offerings at the time of Moses were of two types. They used to sacrifice one group and free the second group for the sake of God. The group that was sacrificed was also of the following three kinds:
1) They used to burn one group and only leave its skin for the rabbi.
They used to burn half of the second group and leave the second half for the rabbi.
3) The third group were those whose meat was for everyone.
The Romans used to offer sacrifice for their gods. The Priests used to spread water, honey and rose water at the time of the offering. It is recorded in history that they did not restrict themselves to the sacrifice of animals. At times, they sacrificed people too. The Phoenicians, Canaanites, Persians, Romans and Egyptians practiced this until an order to ban this practice was issued in the year 657 A.D. by the Romanian Parliament.
It is said that each year the Egyptians used to drown a fully made up virgin girl in the river. They did this with the intention of getting closer to their gods. This wicked practice continued in Egypt until Amr ibn A’as banned it upon the permission of Umar ibn Khattab. This has been quoted on the authority of Ustad Ahmad Jorjani who was one of the scholars in Al-Azhar University.(1)
Islam forbade all forms of offering for sacrifice for idols and men. Islam taught the proper practice of sending an offering to its followers. The verses related to this issue were cited above. Since human nature is inclined towards the belief in God, man likes to offer a sacrifice to Him. Islam taught man the proper way to offer a sacrifice, and the proper thing to offer. We should not think that the blood or the meat of the sacrificed animal
would reach God. No. This is just a practice to help man approach God. Therefore, it should be done with the soul intention of approaching Him. That is why God’s name should be invoked when we offer a sacrifice to Him.
It can be concluded from the above discussion that offering animals for sacrifice is a religious and intellectual act that is done to purify the soul, and improve the economy. The meat of the sacrificed animal should be distributed among the poor people for the sake of God. This we understand from the following traditions.
Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
إنمَّا جَعلَ اللهُ هذا الأضْحى لِتَتَّسِعَ مَساكِينُكُم مِن اللّحُومِ فَأَطْعِمُوهُم
“God has established this sacrifice in order that your poor may have ample meat to eat. Therefore, give them meat to eat!”(1)
Abi Basir narrated that he told Imam Sadiq : “What is the reason for offering for sacrifice?” The Imam said:
إنّهُ يُغفَرُ لِصاحِبِها عِندَ أوَّلِ قَطْرَةٍ تَقْطُرُ مِن دَمِها عَلى الأرْضِ وَليَِعْلَمَ اللهُ مَن يَتَّقِيهِ بِالغَيْبِ. قالَ اللهُ تَعالى: لَنْ يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْكُمْ ۚ أنْظُر كَيفَ قَبِلَ اللهُ قُربانَ هابِيلَ وَرَدَّ قُربانَ قابِيلَ..
‘The sins of the one who is offering will be forgiven when the first drop of blood of the sacrificed animal falls on the ground. It is also a means by which God gets to know those who fear Him in the Unseen. God the Almighty said: “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches God: it
is your piety that reaches Him…” [Hajj, 22:37]. See how God accepted the offering of Abel, but turned down that of Cain.’(1) (2)
The reward for the one offering the sacrifice and his being forgiven are stressed in this tradition. In addition, the fact that his purity of intentions is recognized is also outlined. Imam Ali said:
لَو عَلِمَ النّاسُ ما في الأُضْحِيّةِ لاسْتَدانوا وَضَحّوا؛ إنّه لَيُغْفَرُ لِصاحِبِ الأضْحِيَّةِ عِندَ أوَّلِ قَطْرَةٍ تَقْطُرُ مِن دَمِها.
“If the people only knew the reward for offering animals for sacrifice, they would borrow money to make an offering. Indeed, the sins of the one who is offering a sacrificial animal are forgiven once the first drop of its blood falls on the ground.”(3)
It has been recorded in Wasa`il al-Shī`ah that the Prophet of God told his daughter, the Blessed Fatima :
إشْهَدي ذَبْحَ ذَبِيحَتِكِ فإنَّ أوَّلَ قَطْرَةٍ مِنها يَغْفِرُ اللهُ بِها كُلَّ ذَنبٍ عَلَيكِ… وهَذا لِلمُسلِمينَ عَامَّةً.
“Be present beside the animal you offer for sacrifice since your sins will be forgiven the moment the first drop of its blood falls down on the ground.” He then added: “This issue applies to all Muslims.”(4)
Imam Kazim quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet :
اسْتَفْرِهوا ضَحاياكُم فإنهّا مَطاياكُم علَى الصِّراطِ.
“Seek for sacrificial animals that are brisk and agile since they will be your mounts to cross the (Bridge of) Sirat.”(5)
ثم حقوق الأئِمَّة
حق سائسك بالسلطان
فأَمَّا حَقُّ سَائِسِكَ بالسُّلْطَانِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أنّكَ جُعِلْتَ لَهُ فِتنَة وأنَّهُ مُبْتَلىً فِيكَ بمَا جَعَلَهُ اللهُ لَهُ عَلَيكَ مِنَ السُّلْطَانِ وَأَنْ تُخلِصَ لَهُ
فِي النَّصِيحَةِ وَأَنْ لا تُمَاحِكَهُ وَقَدْ بُسِطْتَ يَدُهُ عَلَيْكَ فَتَكُونَ سَبَبَ هَلاكِ نفْسِكَ وَهلاكِهِ. وتَذَلَّلْ وتَلَطَّفْ لإِعْطَائِهِ مِنَ الرِّضَا مَا يَكُفُّهُ عَنْكَ وَلا يَضُرُّ بدينِكَ وتَسْتَعِينُ عَلَيْهِ فِي ذلِكَ باللهِ. ولا تُعَازَّهُ ولا تُعَانِدَهُ فَإنَّكَ إنْ فَعَلْتَ ذلِكَ عَقَقْتَهُ وَعَقَقْتَ نَفْسَكَ فَعَرَضْتَهَا لِمَكرُوهِهِ وَعَرَضْتَهُ لِلْهَلَكَةِ فِيكَ وَكُنْتَ خَلِيقًا أَنْ تَكُونَ مُعِينًا لَهُ عَلَى نفْسِكَ وَشَرِيكًا لَهُ فِيمَا أَتى إلَيْكَ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
Then the right of the possessor of authority is that you should know that God has established you as a trial for him. God is testing him through the authority He has given him over you. And you should sincerely provide him with your advice. And you should not quarrel with him while he has full dominance over you, for thereby you cause your own destruction and his, too. And you should be humble and courteous for his gifts to attain his satisfaction with you, so that he will not harm your religion.
And you should seek God's help in this regard. Do not oppose his power and do not resist him. Should you do so, you would have disobeyed him and disobeyed yourself: thus exposing yourself to encounter his evil and expose him to destruction by you. Thus you will deserve to be considered to be his assistant acting against yourself and as his partner in what he does to you. And there is no power but in God.
In this chapter, we review the rights of the leaders of the society as expressed by Imam Sajjad .
At first, the rights of the rulers are discussed. Everyone agrees that there must be a ruler in each society in order to run the affairs. Social regulations and laws should be executed under his rule. Social security and peace should be established and chaos should be avoided so that the people can continue their lives and struggle for further development.
When the “Kharijites”(1) objected to Imam Ali about the issue of “Hakamayn”(2) and claimed that the verdict lies but with God, Imam Ali said:
كَلِمَةُ حَقٍّ يُرادُ بهَا باطِلٌ! نَعَمْ إنَّه لا حُكْمَ إلاّ للهِ، ولَكِنَّ هؤلاءِ يَقولونَ: لا إمْرَةَ إلاّ للهِ. إنَّه لا بُدّ للنَّاسِ مِن أمِيرٍ بَرٍّ أو فاجِرٍ يَعمَلُ في إمْرَتِهِ المُؤمِنُ ويَسْتَمْتِعُ بها الكافِرُ ويُبَلِّغُ اللهُ فيها الأجَلَ ويُجمَعُ به الفيءُ ويُقاتَلُ بِه العَدُوُّ وتَأمَنُ بها السُّبُلُ ويُؤخَذُ بِه للضَّعيفِ مِن القَويِّ حَتىّ يَستريحَ بَرُّ ويُستَراحَ مِن فاجِرٍ.
“The statement is right but what (they think) it means is wrong. Yes, it is true that verdict lies but with God, but these people say that (the function of) governance is only for God. The fact is that there is no escape for men from a ruler, whether good or bad. The faithful persons perform (good) acts in his rule while the unfaithful ones enjoy (worldly) benefits in it. During the rule, God would carry everything to end. Tax is collected by the ruler, enemies are fought with, roadways are protected and the right of the weak is taken from the strong till the virtuous enjoys peace and is
allowed protection from (the oppression of) the wicked.”
Imam Ali stresses the need for a ruler in the society and his role. He points out that a peaceful and strong society is one in which there is a strong rule based upon which security and order is established in the society. Here the Imam stressed the absolute necessity of a ruler in the society.
Fazl ibn Shazan quoted Imam Ridha’s views on the necessity of the existence of a ruler in the society, and the reasons behind it. He then stated that the Imam said:
وَمِنها أنّا لا نَجِدُ فِرقَةً مِن الفِرقِ ولا مِلَّةً مِن المِلَلِ بَقُوا وَعاشُوا إلا بِقَيِّمٍ وَرَئيسٍ لمَا لا بُدّ لهَمُ مِنهُ في أمْرِ الدّينِ وَالدُّنيا، فَلم يَجُزْ في حِكْمَةِ الحَكيمِ أنْ يَتْرُكَ الخَلْقَ ممّا يُعلَمُ أنّهُ لا بُدّ لهُمْ مِنهُ ولا قِوامَ لهُم إلاّ به، فَيُقاتِلونَ بهِ عَدُوَّهُم وَيُقَسِّمونَ بهِ فَيئَهُم وَيُقِيمُ لهُم جَمْعِيَّتَهُم وَجَماعَتَهُم وَيمنَعُ ظالِمَهُم مِن مَظلومِهِم.
“One reason to support this view is that there have been no groups or nations who have been able to continue living without a leader or ruler, since people need a leader for their worldly and heavenly affairs. Therefore, it is not wise for a sage to deprive the people of what they need to continue living. They fight their enemies under his rule. They divide the booties under his supervision. They establish their Friday congregations and other gatherings through him. They seek justice for the weak ones against the oppressors by him.”(1)
The need for a leader is clearly established
from these words expressed by Imam Ridha .
God has said in the Holy Qur’an that there are two kinds of rulers: just leaders and oppressive rulers. Each one has certain characteristics that we will briefly outline here. Consider the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاء الزَّكَاةِ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ
“And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practice regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Anbiya 21:73]
The characteristics and duties expressed in this verse about leaders appointed by God are as follows:
1) Guiding men by God’s Command
2) Receiving divine inspiration to do good deeds, establish regular prayers, practice regular charity in order to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor
3) To constantly serve God, i.e. they must have served God to attain the position of leadership of the society.
God has clearly stated strength and power as a requirement for a just ruler in the Holy Qur’an. The Qur’an cites a few illustrative examples. One such example is the story of Talut that is also expressed in the Bible.(1) Talut was a tall, strong and handsome man. He had strong nerves. He was very wise and intelligent. Some say he was called Talut because he was very tall.(2) Consider the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَى إِذْ قَالُواْ
لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ
“Hast thou not turned thy vision to the Chiefs of the Children of Israel after (the time of) Moses? They said to a Prophet (that was) among them: "Appoint for us a king, that we may fight in the cause of God…." [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:246]
Also, consider the following verse:
وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا قَالُوَاْ أَنَّى يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ وَاللّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Their Prophet said to them: "God hath appointed Talut as king over you." They said: "How can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted, with wealth in abundance?" He said: "God hath chosen him above you, and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess: God granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. God careth for all, and He knoweth all things." [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:247]
We see that having a strong and intelligent leader is an important factor in achieving victory and success. This can clearly be seen in this verse where a knowledgeable person is appointed to rule the Children of Israel. They objected to his being poor but God responds with the fact that Talut is gifted with knowledge and bodily powess.
Talut headed the army and proved his ability to run the
affairs of the army and the country in a very short time. Then he went to fight against an enemy that seriously threatened them. He stressed that only those who were whole-heartedly interested in fighting with the enemy could accompany him. Then the children of Israel finally managed to overcome Jalut’s forces under the leadership of a strong leader.
From studying this account, we can see that the most important aspects of leadership are divine appointment, knowledge and power. The leader uses his knowledge to recognize the proper path to progress for the society that he leads. He uses his power to implement his plans. Another point mentioned by Imam Sajjad is that God will test both the leader and his followers. We see an example of this test in the story of Talut as we read the following verse:
فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِالْجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللّهَ مُبْتَلِيكُم بِنَهَرٍ فَمَن شَرِبَ مِنْهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَمَن لَّمْ يَطْعَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي إِلاَّ مَنِ اغْتَرَفَ غُرْفَةً بِيَدِهِ فَشَرِبُواْ مِنْهُ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً مِّنْهُمْ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَهُ هُوَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ قَالُواْ لاَ طَاقَةَ لَنَا الْيَوْمَ بِجَالُوتَ وَجُنودِهِ قَالَ الَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُم مُّلاَقُو اللّهِ كَم مِّن فِئَةٍ قَلِيلَةٍ غَلَبَتْ فِئَةً كَثِيرَةً بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
When Talut set forth with the armies, he said: “God will test you at the stream: if any drinks of its water, He goes not with my army: Only those who taste not of it go with me: A mere sip out of the hand is excused.” But they all drank of it,
except a few. When they crossed the river, - He and the faithful ones with him, - they said: “This day we cannot cope with Goliath and his forces.” But those who were convinced that they must meet God, said: “How oft, by God's will, hath a small force vanquished a big one? God is with those who steadfastly persevere.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:249]
Another example of the good use of power is found in the story of Alexander or Zul-qarnain. In this story, Alexander runs into a people who hardly understand but are apparently rich and have an enemy. Consider the following verse in this regard:
حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ بَيْنَ السَّدَّيْنِ وَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمَا قَوْمًا لَّا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ قَوْلًا
“Until, when he reached (a tract) between two mountains, he found, beneath them, a people who scarcely understood a word.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:93]
This refers to some people who lived in a mountainous region. They were neither Eastern nor Western. They were of a very backward civilization since the Qur’an says that they scarcely understood a word. Alternatively, it may be that they were mentally retarded. This is, of course, less probable. They had ruthless enemies called the people of Gog and Magog. They complained to Alexander about them, and offered to pay him tribute in order to build a barrier between them and the people of Gog and Magog. Consider the following verse in this respect:
قَالُوا يَا ذَا الْقَرْنَيْنِ إِنَّ يَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ مُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَهَلْ نَجْعَلُ لَكَ خَرْجًا عَلَى
أَن تَجْعَلَ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمْ سَدًّا قال ما مَكَّنِي رَبِّي خَيْرٌ فَأعِيْنوني بِقُوَّةٍ أجْعَلْ بَينَكُم وَ بَينَهُمْ رَدْماً آتُونِي زُبَرَ الْحَدِيدِ حَتَّى إِذَا سَاوَى بَيْنَ الصَّدَفَيْنِ قَالَ انفُخُوا حَتَّى إِذَا جَعَلَهُ نَارًا قَالَ آتُونِي أُفْرِغْ عَلَيْهِ قِطْرًا
“They said: "O Zul-qarnain! The Gog and Magog (People) do great mischief on earth: shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou mightest erect a barrier between them and us?” He said: "(The power) in which my Lord has established me is better (than tribute): Help me therefore with strength (and labor): I will erect a strong barrier between you and them. Bring me blocks of iron." At length, when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain-sides, he said, "Blow (with your bellows)." Then, when he had made it (red) as fire, he said: "Bring me, that I may pour over it, molten lead."” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:94-96]
It seems that the pathway through which the people of Gog and Magog attacked them was a space between two steep mountainsides. Alexander filled up that space with blocks of iron, had it heated up and then poured molten lead over it to totally block off the passage.(1) Then instead of being haughty for what he had done, he politely stated that his power was that of his Lord’s Mercy on him. The people thanked him. This is one of the characteristics of a strong leader. Imam Ali said:
فإنَّ الرَّعِيَّةَ الصّالحَةَ تَنْجو بالإمَامِ العَادِلِ. ألا وإنَّ الرَّعِيَّةَ الفاجِرَةَ تُهلَكُ بالإمامِ الفاجِرِ.
saving of good people depends on their just leader. The destruction of bad people is due to their bad leader.”(1)
Imam Sadiq narrated that Imam Husayn told his companions:
أيُّهَا النّاسُ! إنَّ الله جَلَّ ذِكْرُه ما خَلقَ العِبادَ إلاّ لِيَعْرِفُوهُ، فإذا عَرَفُوهُ عَبَدوهُ، فإذَا عَبَدُوهُ اسْتَغْنَوا عَن عِبادَةِ ما سِواهُ.
“O people! God created the people only in order that they get to recognize Him. When they recognize Him, they worship Him, and when they worship Him they have no need of worshipping other than Him.”
A man said: “O’ May my parents be your ransom! How do we get to recognize God?” Imam Husayn said:
مَعْرِفَةُ أهْلِ كُلِّ زَمانٍ إمامَهُم الّذِي يَجِبُ عَلَيهِمْ طاعَتُهُ.
“For each era the people should recognize their own leader whose obedience is obligatory for them.”
Thus, we see that the Imam considers getting to know the just leader is the proper way to recognize God.
We read in the Holy Qur’an that when Joseph was released from jail, and his talents became apparent to the ruler of Egypt, he was offered a high position in the government. Joseph who was an honest man and knew economics well thought that he could save the people of Egypt. He asked to be appointed as the treasurer. Consider the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
قَالَ اجْعَلْنِي عَلَى خَزَآئِنِ الأَرْضِ إِنِّي حَفِيظٌ عَلِيمٌ
“(Joseph) said: "Set me over the store-houses of the land: I will indeed guard them, as one that knows (their importance)."[The Holy Qur’an, Yusuf 12:55]
Joseph ran the affairs of the country and safely led
the Egyptian people through the years of famine in such a successful way that the Qur’an considers him one of the best human leaders.
There are many traditions that stress the necessity of respecting a just ruler. We shall mention a few of them here. The Prophet of God said:
وَقِّروا السَّلاطِينَ وَبَجِّلوهُمْ فإنَّهُم عِزُّ اللهِ وَظِلُّهُ في الأرْضِ إذا كَانوا عُدُولاً.
“Respect and revere the rulers since they are the Glory of God and His shadow on earth if they are just.”(1)
It has been narrated that Umar asked the Prophet of God : “Please inform me of a ruler to whom everyone bows in respect.” The Prophet said:
)هو) ظِلُّ اللهِ في الأرْضِ فإذَا أحْسَنَ فَلَهُ الأجْرُ وَعَلَيكُمُ الشُّكْرُ، وإذا أسَاءَ فَعَلَيْهِ الإصْرُ وَعَلَيكُمُ الصَّبْرُ.
“He is God’s shadow on the earth. Whenever he does some good act, there will be a reward for him and you must be grateful to him. Whenever he does an evil act, he is held responsible for it and you must be patient and persevering.”(2)
We see that in this tradition the Prophet of God has stressed that we should be grateful to just rulers. It has been narrated that Imam Kazim advised his followers as follows:
لا تُذِلُّوا رِقابَكُم بِتَرْكِ طاعَةِ سُلطانِكُم فإنْ كانَ عادِلاً فاسْألوا اللهَ إبْقاءَهُ، وإنْ كانَ جائِراً فاسْألوا اللهَ إصْلاحَهُ، فإنَّ صَلاحَكُم في صَلاحِ سُلْطانِكُم، وإنَّ السُّلطانَ العادِلَ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الوالِدِ الرَّحيمِ فأحِبُّوا له ما تُحِبُّونَ لأنْفُسِكُم وأَكْرِهوا لهُ ما تَكرَهُونَ لأنْفُسِكُم.
“Do not debase yourselves through disobedience to your rulers. If they are just rulers, ask
God for their prosperity and lasting rule. If they are oppressive rulers, ask God to guide them. Your righteousness depends on his righteousness. A just ruler is like a kind father. Like for him what you like for yourselves, and dislike for him what you dislike for yourselves.”(1)
We see that the Imam depicts a just ruler as a kind father. He can direct the society towards progress, development and perfection, just as a kind father raises a good child. The Noble Prophet said:
زَيَّنَ اللهُ السَّماءَ بِثَلاثَةٍ: الشَّمْسِ وَالقَمَرِ وَالكَواكِبِ. وَزَيَّنَ الأرْضَ بِثَلاثَةٍ: العُلَماءِ وَالمَطَرِ وَالسُّلْطانِ العادِلِ.
“God has adorned the heavens with three things: the sun, the moon and the stars. He has also adorned the earth with three things: scholars, rain and just rulers.”(2)
When Hulegu Khan conquered Baghdad in 1258 A.D. he had his agents ask the wise ones in Baghdad whether a just pagan ruler is better or a Muslim oppressive ruler. When the scientists gathered in the Mustansiriyah School and read the question they refused to answer. Razi ad-din Ali ibn Tavoos who was highly respected by the sages in Baghdad was also present there. When he saw that they refused to answer the question, he started to write the answer as follows: “A just pagan ruler is better than an oppressive Muslim ruler. This is supported by a tradition from the Prophet of God , which says:
يَبْقى المُلكُ بِالعَدْلِ مَع الكُفْرِ، وَلا يَبْقى بِالجَورِ مَع الإيمَانِ.
Rule lasts if accompanied by justice, even if it is a pagan’s
rule. However, it will not last by oppression even if it is a Muslim’s rule.”(1)
Another important characteristic of a good ruler is being informed about governmental affairs. We saw in the story of Talut a manifestation of this principle. He was strong and well-informed as to how to run the affairs. A ruler’s knowledge of the affairs of the government is like a lantern that lights up his way out of darkness. Some wise men have said that if a ruler lacks knowledge, he is like an elephant that runs over and destroys everything when it attacks, since it neither has knowledge nor intellect that are the means which hinder oppression.
Another good characteristic of a just ruler is piety and being God-fearing. These characteristics are a source of good blessings. When a ruler has piety, his people live in security. It is narrated that once Imam Ali called his slave. He did not respond. He called him several times again, but the slave did not respond. Then someone entered the room and told Imam Ali that the slave was standing behind the door, but did not respond.
Then the slave entered the room and Imam Ali asked him if he had heard being called. The slave replied positively. Then the Imam asked why he had not responded. The slave said: “I did not respond because I feel secure that I will not be punished by you.” Then Imam Ali said: “I thank God for establishing me as one whose creatures are
Other good characteristics of a ruler are forgiving and overlooking people’s minor faults as we read in the following verse:
وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ
“Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that God should forgive you?” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nur 24:22]
Imam Ali said:
إذَا قَدَرتَ عَلى عَدُوِّكَ فاجْعَلِ العَفْوَ عَنْهُ شُكراً لِقُدرَتِكَ عَليهِ.
“Forgive your enemy once you have overcome him, so as to be grateful about the blessing of the victory which you have been granted.”(1)
In Imam Ali’s letter to Malik al-Ashtar, we read:
لا تَنْدَمَنَّ عَلى عَفْوٍ وَلا تَبْجَحَنَّ بِعُقوبَةٍ.
“Never be sorry about forgiving, and never be pleased with punishing.”(2)
In the same letter, Imam Ali wrote:
فَأَعْطِهِمْ مِنْ عَفْوِكَ وَصَفْحِكَ مِثْلَ الَّذِي تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضى أَنْ يُعْطِيَكَ اللهُ مِنْ عَفْوِهِ وَصَفْحِهِ، فَإنَّكَ فَوْقَهُمْ، وَوالِي الأَمْرِ عَلَيْكَ فَوْقَكَ، وَاللهُ فَوْقَ مَنْ وَلّاكَ
“Forgive the people as you wish God to grant you His forgiveness. Your rank is above them, and the rank of the possessor of the rule is above yours, and God’s rank is above the rank of the one who has granted you your authority.”(3)
Another important characteristic of a ruler is that he should fulfill his engagements. In this regard, God says:
وَأَوْفُواْ بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْؤُولاً.
“And fulfill (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Isra’il 17:34]
Another good characteristic for a ruler is being well-informed about the affairs of the people and the country. He should know the problems and the insufficiencies that the people are dealing
with. He should do his best to pave the way for the elimination of these difficulties and set his nation on the path to progress and development. Imam Ali wrote the following to Malik al-Ashtar in this regard:
وَأَمّا بَعْدَ هٰذا فَلا تُطَوِّلَنَّ ﭐحْتِجابَكَ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِكَ، فَإنَّ ﭐحْتِجابَ ﭐلْوُلاةِ عَنِ ﭐلرَّعِيَّةِ شُعْبَةٌ مِنَ ﭐلضِّيقِ، وَقِلَّةُ عِلْمٍ بِالأُمُورِ، وَﭐلاحْتِجابُ مِنْهُمْ يَقْطَعُ عَنْهُمْ عِلْمَ مَا ﭐحْتَجَبُوا دُونَهُ فَيَصْغُرُ عِندَهُمُ ﭐلْكَبِيرُ، وَيَعْظُمُ ﭐلصَّغِيرُ، وَيَقْبُحُ ﭐلْحَسَنُ، وَيَحْسُنُ ﭐلْقَبِيحُ وَ يُشابُ الحَقُّ بِالباطِلِ.
“Do not prolong your seclusion from your subjects, for the rulers’ seclusion from their subjects is a kind of limitation and (results in) a lack of knowledge about (their) affairs. Seclusion from them deprives them (the rulers) of the knowledge of what is concealed from them so that what is great becomes small for them and the small becomes great, the good is seen to be ugly and the ugly to be good, and the truth is mixed with falsehood.”
As we said God has set two kinds of leaders: just ones and oppressive ones. The Qur’an says:
وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا يُنصَرُونَ
“And we made them (but) leaders inviting to the Fire; and on the Day of Judgment no help shall they find.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qasas 28:41]
Oppressive rulers invite the people who follow them to the Fire of Hell. Now you may wonder how God could set some oppressive rulers while He has sent Prophets to invite man to do good and to lead man to prosperity. The answer is that
having an oppressive ruler is a direct consequence of a nation’s acts. Naturally, the fact that is usually expressed as “for every action there is a reaction” is just a divine law. They have set out on a path that leads them to the rule of corrupt people. That is why they are the masters of the residents of Hell, as they were leaders of the corrupt people in this world. Thus they are cursed by God in this world, and in the next to come as God says:
وَأَتْبَعْنَاهُمْ فِي هَذِهِ الدُّنْيَا لَعْنَةً وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ هُم مِّنَ الْمَقْبُوحِينَ
“In this world We made a curse to follow them and on the Day of Judgment they will be among the loathed (and despised).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qasas 28:42]
God’s curse is depriving them of His Mercy. The curse of the angels and the believers will also be always upon them. Divine leaders invite the people to do good deeds, but corrupt rulers invite the people to corruption and the Fire. There is a tradition from Imam Sadiq in this regard. It says that divine leaders give priority to God’s orders over those of the people and their own will.
They consider God’s decrees to be the best ones. However, the second group give priority to their own orders over those of God and consider their decrees to be above His.(1) As each leader has some followers in this world, each leader in the Hereafter also has some followers. Bashar ibn Ghalib quoted on the
authority of Imam Husayn when asked about the interpretation of the following verse:
يوْمَ نَدْعُو كُلَّ أُنَاسٍ بِإِمَامِهِمْ
“One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams.” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israil 17:71]
Imam Husayn said:
إمَامٌ دَعا إلى هُدىً فَأجابُوهُ إلَيهِ وَإمامٌ دَعا إلى ضَلالَةٍ فَأجَابُوهُ إلَيهِ: هؤلاءِ في الجَنَّةِ وَهؤلاءِ في النّارِ. وَهُو قَولُهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: فَريقٌ في الجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ.
“A leader invites to guidance and some people follow him. Another leader invites to corruption and some people accept his invitation. The first group will go to Heaven while the second group goes to Hell. This is what is meant by the Almighty God’s words: ‘… (when) some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire’ [Shura 42:7].”(1)
Imam Sadiq said:
إنَّ في وِلايَةِ الوالِي الجَائِرِ دُرُوسَ الحَقِّ وَإحْيَاءَ البَاطِلِ كِلُّهِ وإظْهارَ الظُّلْمِ وَالجَوْرِ وَالفَسادِ.
“Truth is erased, falsehood is revived, and injustice, oppression and corruption become manifest during the rule of an oppressive ruler.” (2)
The Noble Prophet of Islam said:
لِكُلِّ شَيءٍ آفَةٌ يُفْسِدُهُ وآفَةُ هَذا الدِّينِ وُلاةُ السُّوءِ.
“For everything there is a blight that corrupts it. The blight of this religion is evil rulers.”(3)
Imam Baqir said:
ثَلاثَةٌ لَيسَ لهُم حُرمَةٌ: صاحِبُ هَوىً مُبْتَدِعٌ وَالإمامُ الجائِرُ وَالفاسِقُ المُعْلِنُ فُسوقَهُ.
“There are three groups of people who are not entitled to respect: those who have a lust for innovations (in religion), those who are oppressive leaders, and corrupt people who manifest their corrupt deeds.”(4)
From the above discussion, we can clearly see the role of oppressive rulers in destroying the truth
and making falsehood and corruption prevail in the society.
God says in the Holy Qur’an:
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ أَوْلِيَآؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُمَاتِ
“..Of those who reject faith the patrons are the evil ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness...” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:257]
Imam Sadiq said:
لا دِينَ لِمَنْ دانَ بِوِلايَةِ إمامٍ جَائِرٍ ليس مِنَ اللهِ وَلا عَتَبَ عَلى مَن دَانَ بِوِلايَةِ إمامٍ عَدْلٍ مِن اللهِ. (قال ابن أبي يعفور) قلت: لا دِينَ لأولئِكَ وَلا عَتَبَ عَلى هؤلاءِ؟ فقال عليه السّلامُ: نَعَم! لا لا دِينَ لأولئِكَ وَلا عَتَبَ عَلى هؤلاءِ. أمَا تَسْمَعُ لِقَولِ اللهِ: اللهُ وَليُّ الَّذِينَ أمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِنَ الظُّلُماتِ الَى النُّورِ.
“Whoever accepts the leadership and rule of an oppressive ruler not appointed by God has no religion, and whoever accepts the leadership of a just leader appointed by God has no blame (on him).” Ibn Abi Ya’foor asked: “No religion for those and no blame on these?” The Imam said: “Yes. No religion for those and no blame on these! Did you not hear God’s statement: ‘God is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light…’”[al-Baqarah, 2:257].
The following is a part of a letter that Imam Ali wrote to Masqalah b. Hubayrah al-Shaybani, who was his representative in a city in the province of Fars(1) called Ardeshir Khorrah:
بَلغَني عَنْكَ أمْرٌ انْ فَعَلْتَهُ فَقَدْ أسْخَطْتَ الاهَكَ و عَصَيْتَ امامَكَ: إنَّكَ تَقْسِم فَيءَ المُسْلِمينَ الّذي حازَتْهُ رِماحُهُم وَخُيولُهُم وَأُرِيقَتْ عَلَيه دِماؤهُمْ في مَن اعْتامَكَ مِن
أعْرابِ قَومِكَ. فَوالَّذي فَلَقَ الحَبَّةَ وَبَرَءَ النَّسَمَةَ لَئِنْ كانَ ذلِكَ حَقّاً لَتَجِدَنَّ بكَ عَلَيَّ هَواناً وَلتَخِفَّنَّ عِندي مِيزاناً، فلا تَسْتَهِنْ بِحَقِّ رَبِّكَ ولا تُصْلِح دُنياكَ بِمَحْقِ دِينِكَ فَتَكونَ مِن الأخْسَرِينَ أعْمالاً.
“I have heard things about you that, if true, imply that you have raised your Lord’s wrath, and you have disobeyed your leader. I have been notified that you are dividing the properties of Muslims that they have earned with their spears and horses, and for which they have shed their blood, between your Arab relatives who have come to you. I swear by Him Who split the seed and created man, that if this is true then you will find yourself debased in my sight and you will be lowered in my estimation. Therefore do not make light of your Lord’s right, and do not build your world by destroying your religion lest you be of those who are ‘..the greatest losers in their works’” (18:103).”(1)
Then he continues:
أمّا بَعدُ، فإنَّ مِن أعْظَمِ الخِيانَةِ خِيانَةَ الأُمَّةِ وَأعْظَمُ الغِشِّ عَلى أهْل المِصْرِ غِشُّ الإمَامِ، وَعِنْدَكَ مِن حَقِّ المُسلِمينَ خَمُسمِائَةِ ألْفِ دِرْهَمٍ فابْعَثْ بها إليَنا حِين يَأتِيكَ رَسُولي.
“Moreover, indeed the greatest form of treachery is that done to a nation, and the greatest form of deceit against the people of the city is the deceit of the leader. You have five hundred thousand Dirhams of dues belonging to the Muslims, so send it to us when my representative comes to you.” (2)
We see how Masqalah who had started to forcefully take away
the people’s property is blamed by Imam Ali and his treachery is considered to be the worst possible type by the Imam .
It has been quoted on the authority of Abu-Dharr: “I told the Prophet of God : Will you not appoint me to a government position?” The Prophet replied:
يَا أبا ذَرٍّ! إنَّكَ ضَعيفٌ وَإنهَّا أمَانَةٌ، وإنهَّا يَومَ القِيامَةِ خِزْيٌ وَنَدامَةٌ إلاّ مَن أَخَذَ بحَقِّها وَأدّى الّذي عَلَيهِ فيها.
“O Abu-Dharr! You are weak and the rule of a government is a trust. On the Day of Judgment it will be a (cause of) disgrace and remorse except for those who rightfully obtain it, and fulfil what is incumbent on them in it.”(1)
Thus, we see that although Abu-Dharr was one of the special companions of the Prophet , he was denied a government position, and told that he was not able to run the affairs of the government.
حق سائسك بالعلم
وأَمَّا حَقُّ سَائِسِكَ بالعِلْمِ فالتَّعْظِيمُ لَهُ والتَّوْقِيرُ لِمَجْلِسِهِ وَحُسْنُ الاسْتِمَاعِ إليهِ وَالإقْبَالُ عَلَيْهِ وَالْمَعُونةُ لَهُ عَلَى نفْسِكَ فِيمَا لا غِنَى بكَ عَنْهُ مِنْ الْعِلْمِ بأَنْ تُفَرِّغَ لَهُ عَقلَكَ وَتُحْضِرَهُ فَهْمَكَ وتُزَكِّي لَهُ قَلْبَكَ وتُجَلِّى لَهُ بَصَرَكَ بتَرْكِ اللّذَّاتِ وَنقْص الشّهَوَاتِ، وَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنَّكَ فِيمَا أَلقَى إلَيْكَ رَسُولُهُ إلَى مَنْ لَقِيَكَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَهْلِ فَلَزِمَكَ حُسْنُ التَّأْدِيَةِ عَنْهُ إلَيْهِمْ، ولا تَخُنْهُ فِي تَأْدِيَةِ رِسَالَتِهِ وَالْقِيَامِ بهَا عَنْهُ إذا تَقَلَّدْتَهَا. وَلا حَوْلَ وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of the one who trains you through knowledge is venerating him, and respecting his meetings, and listening well to him, and being responsive to
him,(1) and helping him for yourself in the knowledge that you need by freeing your mind for him, and presenting your understanding to him, and purifying your heart for him, and fixing your eyes on him by means of abandoning leisures and diminishing lust.
And you should know that regarding what he teaches you, you are considered as his messenger to teach when you meet the ignorant ones. Therefore, it is binding upon you to render on his behalf properly, and not cheat in the fulfillment of his mission, and strive to deliver what you undertake. And there is no power but in God.
We can therefore summarize the following rights of teachers as expressed by Imam Sajjad :
1 - Respecting our teacher
2 - Seeking our teacher’s help in acquiring knowledge
3 - Getting whole-heartedly prepared to attend our teacher’s lectures
4 - Not raising our voice over our teacher’s voice
5 - Not responding to questions that others ask him before he does
6 - Not talking with others while we are in the presence of our teacher
7 - Not gossiping about anyone
8 - Defending our teacher if someone speaks bad of him
9 - Covering up the faults of our teacher
10 - Advertising our teacher’s nobility
11 - Not associating with our teacher’s enemies
12 - Not acting as an enemy towards his friends
Before discussing the rights of teachers, we must consider the high value of knowledge from the viewpoint of Islam and the Holy Qur’an. The value of knowledge is clear to all. Everyone values
knowledge, and is naturally humble to those who possess it. The Prophet of God who was the seal of the Prophets is told to read in the very first instance of receiving divine revelations:
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
"Read! In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-‘Alaq 96:1]
Then the subject of teaching the use of the pen is revealed:
الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ
"… He who taught (the use of) the Pen. Taught man that which he knew not.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-‘Alaq 96:4-5]
It is very important to notice that the very first instance of revelation of divine teachings is about reading, teaching, the pen, etc. This shows that it is teaching and knowledge that can elevate man from the lowest ranks to the highest positions, and finally approach the threshold of God. The Holy Qur’an asks man’s conscience to judge about knowledge:
قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُوْلُوا الْأَلْبَابِ
“Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Zumar 39:9]
Consider the following verses:
قل لا يَسْتَوي الخَبِيثُ و الطَّيِّبُ
“Say: Not equal are things that are bad and things that are good …” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Maida 5:100]
وَمَا يَسْتَوِي اْلأَعْمَى وَالْبَصِيرُ
وَلا الظُّلُمَاتُ وَلا النُّورُ و لا الظِّلُّ و لا الحَرُورُ
“The blind and the seeing are not alike, nor are the depths of Darkness and the Light. Nor are the (chilly) shade and
the (genial) heat of the sun.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Fatir 35:19-20]
The phrases “things that are good”, “the seeing”, “the light”, “the heat of the sun” all represent the results of having knowledge, while “things that are bad”, “the blind”, “depths of Darkness” and “the chilly shade” all represent the results of ignorance.
Consider the following verse:
ً قُلْ كَفَى بِاللّهِ شَهِيدًا بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَمَنْ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ الْكِتَاب
Say: Enough for a witness between me and you is God, and such as have knowledge of the book.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ra’d 13:43]
In this verse, those who have knowledge have been described to be as a witness to Prophethood along with God, and their high rank near God is clarified.
To stress the importance of acquiring knowledge, the Qur’an says:
يَرْفَعِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ
“… God will raise up to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted (mystic) knowledge …”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Mujadila 58:11]
Now that we have briefly expressed the value of knowledge, we will attend to the worth of the teacher.
God’s Prophet said:
زَيارَةُ العُلَماءِ أَحَبُّ إلى اللهِ تَعالَى مِن سَبعِينَ طَوافاً حَولَ البَيتِ وَأَفضَلُ مِن سَبْعينَ حِجَّةً وَعُمْرَةً مَبرورَةً مَقْبولَةً وَرَفَعَ اللهُ تَعالى لَهُ سَبعِينَ دَرَجَةً وَأَنزَلَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ الرَّحْمَةَ وَشَهِدَتْ لهُ المَلائِكَةُ أنَّ الجَنَّةَ وَجَبَتْ لهُ.
“Visiting the knowledgeable people is more loved by God than seventy circumambulations of His Holy House, and more excellent than performing seventy Hajj and ‘Umrah (obligatory or recommended) pilgrimages that are approved and accepted. God will raise the
status of the one who visits knowledgeable people seventy degrees, and send down mercy upon him and the angels will bear witness that Heaven is guaranteed for him.”(1)
The Noble Prophet encouraged the people to attend the meetings held by the knowledgeable people:
يَا أبَا ذَرٍّ! الجُلوسُ سَاعَةً عِندَ مُذاكَرَةِ العِلمِ أحَبُّ إلى اللهِ مِن قِيامِ ألْفِ لَيلَةٍ يُصَلّى في كُلِّ لَيلَةٍ ألفَ رَكْعَةٍ. و الجُلوسُ سَاعَةً عِندَ مُذاكَرَةِ العِلمِ أحَبُّ إلى اللهِ مِن ألْفِ غَزْوَةٍ وَقِراءَةِ القُرآنِ كُلِّهِ.
“O Abu-Dharr! Attending a scholarly discussion for an hour is more loved by God the Almighty than a thousand nights of standing in prayer, performing a thousand units of prayer each night. Attending a scholarly discussion for an hour is more loved by God than attending a thousand battles and reciting the whole Qur’an.”(2)
The Prophet said:
ما مِنْ مُؤمِنٍ يَقْعُدُ ساعَةً عِندَ العَالِمِ إلاّ نَاداهُ رَبُّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: جَلَسْتَ إلى حَبيبي، وَعِزَّتِي وَجَلالي لأُسْكِنَنَّكَ الجَنَّةَ مَعَهُ وَلا أُبالي.
“No believer sits with a scholar for an hour but that his Lord, the Exalted, the High, calls out to him: You sat with My beloved. I swear by My Majesty and Honor that I will make Heaven your abode. There are no obstacles for this.”(3)
We can see that the Prophet has stated that one who is busy teaching is loved by God and is considered God’s friend. Both him and the students attending his lectures are given a promise to enter Heaven. We should add that this reward is only meant for the teacher and the student
who have pure intentions and work for God’s sake.
Imam Jawad said:
مَنْ أصْغَى إلى ناطِقٍ فَقَد عَبَدَهُ؛ فإنْ كانَ النّاطِقُ عَن اللهِ فَقَد عَبَدَ اللهَ، وإنْ كانَ النّاطِقُ يَنْطِقُ عَن لِسانِ إبْلِيسَ فَقَدْ عَبَدَ إبْليسَ.
“Whoever listens to a speaker has worshipped him. If the speaker is from God, (and is teaching divine things,) then the listener has worshipped God. But if the speaker speaks through the tongue of Satan (and is saying evil things,) then he has worshipped Satan.”(1)
In this tradition, the role of speaking, and its possible influences is stressed to the extreme points of being divine or Satanic. If the listener considers the words of the teacher to be valuable, it can be very effective on him.
In the following addressed to Malik al-Ashtar, Imam Ali recommends associating with people of knowledge:
أكْثِرْ مُدارَسَةَ العُلَماءِ وَمُناقَشَةَ الحُكَماءِ في تَثْبيتِ ما صَلُحَ عَلَيهِ أمْرُ بِلادِكَ وإقامَةِ ما اسْتَقامَ به النّاسُ قَبْلَكَ.
“O Malik! Study often with the scholars and have frequent discussions with the wise in consolidating what is suitable for the prosperity of your land, and in establishing that by which the people before you were in a sound state.”(2)
Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was a child from the Umayyad clan. He used to repeat a slogan devised by Mu`awiyah against Imam Ali when he played with other children. One day when his teacher was passing by, he heard him. Later in class when the teacher was teaching, he gave Umar a mean look. Umar asked the teacher for the reason.
The teacher said:
“O’ my son! Today I heard you curse Imam Ali . Since when have you become sure that Ali deserves to be cursed?” Then Umar promised his teacher to quit doing that. This advice of the teacher was so effective that when Umar ibn Abdul Aziz became the Caliph, he banned this practice, and instead ordered the following verse to be recited:(1)
إِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ
“God commands justice, the doing of good…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:90]
The son of Yazeed was called Mu`awiyah. When he became the ruler, he ruled for only a few days. Then he invited the people, climbed up the pulpit and resigned from his Caliphate. His mother and Marwan opposed his decision, but it was of no use. Then they tried to find out the reason behind his resignation.
They found out that Umar al-Maqsoos who was his teacher had been very influential in changing the course of life of Mu`awiyah and his viewpoints. Then they went to him and interrogated him as to why he had established the love for Imam Ali in the heart of Mu`awiyah. Then they dug a ditch and buried the teacher alive.(2) This is how a teacher can influence someone and change his life.
In the following verses, God has clarified this for us:
فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ إِلَى طَعَامِهِ أنَّا صَبَبْنا المَآءَ صَبّاً ثُمَّ شَقَقْنا الأرْضَ شَقّاً
فَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا حَبًّا
“Then let man look at his food (and how We provide it): For that We pour forth water in abundance, and We spilt the earth in
fragments, And produce therein corn.” [The Holy Qur’an, ‘Abasa 80:24-27]
These verses apparently refer to our food since they discuss rain, the earth and the production of food. However, the Immaculate Imams have interpreted them to refer to our spiritual food. The late Fayz Kashani reported in his Tafsir-i-Safi: “Imam Baqir was asked about the meaning of “then let man look at his food”. The Imam replied: “By ‘his Food,’ it is meant knowledge. One must be careful where he gets it from.”(1)
Fayz Kashani then goes on to say: “There are two types of food - food for the body and food for the mind. This is because we are composed of the body and the spirit. Man should think about how food is produced. It rains, the earth gets soft, and seedlings emerge. Man should also think about his food for the mind. He should ponder over how knowledge is revealed in the lands of the Prophets to the hearts of the Prophets, and how the minds of those who are ready to become educated receive this descended revelation and blossom.
Therefore, we should try to obtain our knowledge through divine lines such as the Prophet and the Immaculate Imams . Spoiled or poisoned food is harmful to the body. At times digesting such food might take us to the border of death. Likewise, what we hear and see affects our nervous system, our mind and our spirit. We might be misled, and lose our chances of Prosperity. It might result
in both our life and our Hereafter to be ruined. We have already discussed the rights of hearing and sight before in detail.
Imam Baqir said:
إذَا جَلَسْتَ إلى عَالِمٍ فَكُنْ عَلى أنْ تَسْمَعَ أحْرَصَ مِنْكَ عَلى أنْ تَقولَ. وَتَعَلَّمْ حُسنَ الإسْتِماعِ كَما تَتَعَلَّمُ حْسنَ القَولِ، وَلا تَقْطَعْ عَلَيهِ حَديثَهُ.
“When you sit with a scholar, be more eager to hear him than to talk yourself. Learn how to listen well just as you learn how to speak well, and do not interrupt his speech.”(1)
In general, it is rude to interrupt someone who is talking. It is even ruder to interrupt your teacher. A polite student should wait for his teacher to finish talking, and then ask his question.
Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of Imam Ali :
إنَّ مِن حَقِّ العالِمِ أنْ لا تُكْثِرَ عَلَيه السُّؤالَ وَلا تَأخُذَ بِثَوبِهِ وإذا دَخَلْتَ عَلَيهِ وَعِندَهُ قَومٌ فَسَلِّمْ عَليهِم جَميعاً وَخُصَّهُ بالتَّحِيَّةِ دونَهُم وَاجْلِسْ بَينَ يَدَيْهِ وَلا تَجْلِسْ خَلفَهُ وَلا تَغْمِزْ بِعَيْنِكَ ولا تُشِرْ بِيَدِكَ وَلا تُكْثِرْ مِن قَولِ (قال فلانٌ وقَالَ فُلانٌ) خِلافاً لِقَوْلِهِ وَلا تَضْجُرْ بِطُول ِصُحْبَتِه، فإنمَّا مَثَلُ العالِمِ مَثَلُ النَّخْلَةِ تَنْنتظِرُها حتىّ يَسْقُطَ علَيكَ مِنها شَيءٌ.
"The rights of a scholar include the following:
1 - You should not ask him too many questions,
2 - You should not take hold of his cloak.
3 - When you go to see him and there are some people with him, greet them all and give him especial greetings.
4 - Sit in front of him, and do not sit behind him.
5 - Do not wink, or point with
6 - Do not keep saying ‘So and so said’, in opposition to what he has said.
7 - Do not get upset if you have to wait a while to talk with him, since his case is similar to the case of a palm tree, that is, you have to wait for a while before you can get some dates.”(1)
Next, we will describe the case of a teacher and a student both of whom were Prophets. We will see how they respected their teacher and how they taught ways to teach, question and how to learn to everyone.
In Chapter al-Kahf of the Holy Qur’an, we read the story of the mission of Moses to go after a teacher and learn what he does not know from him. The Qur’an does not name Khidhr, but calls the teacher “one of Our servants”. However, this knowledgeable wise man has been called Khidhr in many traditions.(2) Even though the Prophet Moses was one to whom God spoke directly as evidenced by the following verse:
وَكَلَّمَ اللّهُ مُوسَى تَكْلِيمًا
“And to Moses God spoke direct … [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:164]
And he was a Prophet and had a Book of Commandments. Moses was ordered to go to a teacher. He was accompanied by a brave young man from amongst the Israelites called “Yusha’ ibn Noon” (Joshua) to seek and finally find the teacher as we read in the following verse:
فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا
“So they found one
of Our servants, on whom We have bestowed mercy from Ourselves, and whom We have taught knowledge from Our own Presence.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:65]
The especial characteristics of this great teacher include his attainment of the high rank of becoming a servant of God, his prosperity in receiving divine mercy, and his knowledge being taught to him by God. What is obvious is that this student has many advantages over his teacher, but he recognizes that he does not know everything, and suffers the hardships of traveling in order to benefit from the teacher’s especial knowledge. When he meets the teacher, he politely asks a question as we read:
قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَى هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَى أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَنْ تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا وَكَيْفَ تَصْبِرُ عَلَىٰ مَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ خُبْرًا قَالَ سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ صَابِرًا وَلَا أَعْصِي لَكَ أَمْرًا
“Moses said to him: May I follow thee on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught? (The other) said: Verily thou wilt not be able to have patience with me! And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete? Moses said: Thou wilt find me, if God so will, (truly) patient: nor shall I disobey thee in aught.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Kahf 18:66-69]
We can see some recommendations that students should use:
1 - Moses introduces himself to be a follower of his teacher, and recognizes his rank to be lower than that
of his teacher.
2 - His statement “May I follow thee, on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?” is a sign of absolute humbleness to his teacher.
3 - By saying “that thou teach me” he introduces himself to be ignorant relative to his teacher, and highly respects his noble teacher.
4 - The concepts of following, teaching and patiently learning are all introduced in order to show that a student should follow his teacher. Then he can benefit and learn from his teacher if he is patient.
5 - By “that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth,” Moses shows that he is only seeking knowledge, and he is not after a higher rank and position. Therefore, all students should benefit from these words, and expect nothing from their teachers but benefiting from their knowledge.
6 - From “of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught,” we realize that Moses is referring to divine knowledge that God has taught Khidhr. We also learn that the position of being a teacher is a divine rank, and man has learned knowledge from God.
7 - Moses was seeking guidance from Khidhr. He wants to benefit from the blessing of his guidance.
1 - From “Verily thou wilt not be able to have patience with me,” we realize that one cannot learn if he is impatient. One must struggle hard and strive to learn.
2 - The teacher talks this way with the student in order to get
him prepared not to rush into conclusions regarding the philosophy behind what Khidhr does.
3 - What is Moses after for which he suffers the hardships of the trip? He is after a good teacher. This teaches us that we should be very patient in order to get a good teacher. We have also read in traditions that we should not seek knowledge from just anyone but try to seek it from divine sources, such as the Teachings of the Immaculate Imams . In what follows, Moses objects to the acts of his teacher when he scuttles the boat; he slays a young man, or he sets up straight a wall they find at the verge of falling down. Moses objects to these acts, but later he is told the reason for doing them.(1)
Muhammad Ghazali has said that man has several states regarding wealth and knowledge:
3-Benefiting from it.
4-Helping others with it.
He believes that the best state for a teacher is when he is teaching and others are benefiting from his lectures. In this state, he is giving the people insight.
A student should look at his teacher as a patient looks at a psychologist. The psychologist prescribes medications for his patient in order to help his patient gain his health. Likewise, a teacher invites his students to mental perfection and development of higher human characteristics. The teacher uses advice for healing. Thus, a student should carefully listen to his teacher in order to be saved from illnesses such as greed,
haughtiness and excessive pride.(1)
One of the knowledgeable people in the old days used to give a small amount of money in charity on his way to class each day, and asked God to cover up the faults of his teacher from his eyes, and to secure the continuation of the blessing of his teacher’s knowledge for him. Another knowledgeable man never loudly flipped the pages of his book so as not to disturb his teacher.(2)
Hamdan Isfahani narrated that he was with Sharik when Mahdi, the son of the Abbasid Caliph entered the room. He leaned on the wall and asked Sharik a question about one of the traditions. Sharik did not pay any attention to him. He repeated his question again. Again, Sharik ignored him.
The son of the Caliph told him: “Are you insulting the son of the Caliph?” Sharik said: “No. However, knowledge is more glorious at the threshold of God. I do not want to be disrespectful to it for the sake of others.” Then the son of the Caliph stepped forward and sat down politely. This is how we must seek knowledge.(3)
That is why Imam Sajjad advises students to be humble to God. A teacher is like a spiritual father who provides sufficient food for the mind for his students. That is why students must respect their teacher. He uses his student’s hearing faculty as a gateway to provide him with this food for the mind. The student must carefully listen to his teacher.
A student should realize
that a teacher is the one who provides him with food for his mind and is similar to his father. He should respect his teacher as he respects his father. Therefore, he should not raise his voice above that of his teacher’s. He should be very polite in front of his teacher.
A student should strive to cover up the faults of his teacher, and stress his teacher’s nobilities. They asked Alexander why he respected his teacher so much, and honored him more than his parents? He replied that his parents were only the source of his worldly existence that is ephemeral, while his teacher was the source of his eternal prosperity. A society can be developed if it has capable and sympathetic teachers. Teachers have sacrificed their most valuable asset - that is their life, in order to revitalize the society and save the people from the grips of the ignorant ones and cultural thieves.
Once when Socrates was imprisoned, his students made every effort and sacrifice to save him. However, he did not accept. He preferred to die rather than break the law and harm social order.
Finally, we mention the practice of Imam Husayn . Aba Abdul Rahman Solami taught one of the children of Imam Husayn to recite the Chapter Fatiha of the Holy Qur’an.
Imam Husayn gave him one thousand coins, one thousand robes and a mouthful of pearls. Some people considered this too great a reward. However, he said: “How can this reward compensate for his generous grant?
Nothing is enough to compensate for teaching the Holy Qur’an.”(1)
حق السائس بالملك
وأمَّا حَقُّ سَائِسِكَ بالمِلْكِ فَنَحْوٌ مِنْ سَائِسِكَ بالسُّلْطَانِ إلاّ أَنَّ هذَا يَمْلِكُ مَا لا يَمْلِكُهُ ذاكَ، تَلْزِمُكَ طَاعَتُهُ فِيمَا دَقَّ وَجَلَّ مِنْكَ إلاّ أَنْ تُخرِجَكَ مِنْ وُجُوب حَقِّ الله، ويَحُولَ بَينَكَ وبَيْنَ حَقِّهِ وَحُقُوقِ الخَلْقِ، فَإذَا قَضَيْتَهُ رَجَعْتَ إلَى حَقِّهِ فَتَشَاغَلْتَ بهِ. ولا قُوَّةَ إلاّ باللهِ.
And the right of him who trains you through(2) ownership(3) is similar to the right of the possessor of authority over you. Except this one has a right which that one does not: being that you are bound to obey him in every matter, whether small or great, except for what would lead you to abandon incumbent rights of God, or in what would intervene between you, his rights and the rights of the people. And once you fulfill them, you can commit yourself to his rights and engage in fulfilling them. And there is no power but in God.
What we can conclude from the words of Imam Sajjad is that he considers the rights of the master to be similar to those of the ruler. However, a master has an especial right that is incumbent upon the slave. This right is that the slave must obey his master. It is proper at this point to discuss the origins of slavery and its roots. Of course, here the question of ownership is discussed not just slavery.
It is not exactly clear when in history slavery originated, and various ideas have been expressed regarding
its roots. Montesquieu has said the following regarding the factors which contribute to the appearance of slavery as follows:
1 - International rights made it a requirement for prisoners of war to be considered as slaves to be immune from being killed.
2 - In the Roman civil law people were allowed to sell those people who owed them money but could not pay back their debts. Another option for those who could not pay back their debts was to turn themselves into a slave for the one who had given them the loan.
3 - The laws of nature make the son of a slave to be considered a slave. This is because a child is subject to the same conditions as his father is.
4 - The right to slavery is rooted in the humiliation of one nation by another one, due to differences in their customs and habits.
5 - The main root of slavery is the simultaneous existence of the weak and the strong people in the human societies accompanied by an inclination towards oppression and exploitation.
Then he continues with the following:
Aristotle tried to prove that slavery existed, and will continue to exist naturally. This implies that God has created some people to be slaves for other people. If we accept what this philosopher claims and consider slavery to be a natural phenomenon, then any attempts to free slaves would be opposed to nature and useless. The above is a brief expression of the roots of slavery as expressed by Montesquieu
in Ruh ul-Qawanin.(1)
According to Islam and opposed to Aristotle’s views, man is born free and slavery is not a natural phenomenon. Imam Ali said:
النّاسُ كُلُّهُم أحْرارٌ إلاّ مَن أَقَرَّ عَلى نَفْسِه بِالعُبودِيَّةِ.
“All people are born free except for those who (wrongfully) declare themselves to be slaves.”(2)
He also said:
لا تَكُنْ عَبْدَ غَيرِكَ وَقَد جَعَلَكَ اللهُ حق السائس بالملك حُرّاً.
“Do not be slaves for others since God has established you to be free.”(3)
These were the words of Imam Ali who was himself a hero and the most freedom-loving man. He expressed the fact that man is born free, and it is only due to some external factors that some people become slaves. This condition is also not a permanent condition. The author of The History of Rome expressed the viewpoints of Romans about slaves as follows. “According to the law, a slave is not a person, but just a tool which can talk but has no rights.”(4)
Montesquieu wrote: “In Plato’s law it was expressed that a slave does not have the natural right to self-defense. This law stripped a slave from his natural right to self-defense if he was attacked. At the same time, he was also not given any civil rights to defend himself. Therefore, he could not even go to court and file a complaint if he was attacked. In Spartan, the slaves could not file a complaint in court if they were hurt. These slaves were so desperate that they were considered not just one person’s slave but slaves
to the society.(1)
One of the main entertaining events for the noble Roman men was to collect the poor slaves in an arena where hungry beasts like tigers and lions were let loose to attack them. They would then laugh their hearts out once the slaves started their cries and their shouting because of being torn apart by the beasts. They also used to have fun by making two groups of slaves fight with each other with swords.
When they were wounded and bloody, these noble men would get entertained. Should anyone of the slaves refuse to participate in such terrible events, then he would be torn into pieces by the wild soldiers that stood around the arena. Another source of entertainment for the nobler Romans was to force their slaves to put their hands inside cylindrical containers filled with bees and scorpions. Then once their faces turned color due to being bit, their masters would get pleased and laugh.(2)
In another part, the author of The History of Rome writes the following regarding the conditions of slaves in that country: “Slaves must just do the hard work just like animals do. They should clean the trench, pave the roads, weed out the thorns, shovel the gardens, chop off useless plants, thresh the wheat, and clean the toilets. If anyone of the slaves failed to do his duties, he was seriously punished. He was either beaten up or chained down, or tied to the wheels in a mill instead of a horse, and
forced to drive it to grind. Alternatively, he was used to dig mines, or imprisoned in dark and humid basements. Animals had days off on holidays, but slaves did not.(1)
It is clearly recorded in history that Islam fought slavery, and gradually freed slaves. It might be asked why this was done gradually, and why Islam did not free slaves all at once. To answer this question we must realize that at the advent of Islam in the Age of Ignorance in Arabia, slavery was one of the main principles of the economy, and the continuation of trade and even the living of many depended on it. It was neither possible nor practical for the Prophet Muhammad who founded Islam to suddenly abolish slavery.
The economic order of the society would have been seriously affected. In addition, owners were not willing to free their slaves. There were many lazy people who earned their living by means of using the slaves. In order to abolish slavery, Islam first clarified the rewards for hard work, and the wickedness of laziness. Once working was considered a form of worship, and everybody was said to have the right to benefit from the results of his own work, then it was understood that being lazy is not good and everyone should benefit from his own work.
Another possibility that existed if Islam freed the slaves all at once, was that they might have rebelled and caused a bloody revolution since they had been oppressed for a long time.
This would have breached social security. There are similar cases cited in history. Montesquieu has stated the following regarding the possible harms of a collective and simultaneous freeing of a group of slaves: “It is not wise to establish a law to free a large number of slaves as this would cause social disorder.”
He cited the following cases as evidence to support his statement: “As an example of this danger, we can consider Velicini where the large number of freed slaves got the right to vote and achieved the majority. Then they established a law according to which whenever one of the previous free men married a woman, one of the freed slaves should sleep with the bride on the first night of the wedding and submit her to the groom the next night.(1)
Consider what Gustav Lubon stated as the third reason. “Slaves lived under especial conditions for a very long time. Because of this, they had a different style of living than the free people. Therefore, they were raised lacking any experience or aptitude. Thus, we can state that they would not have been able to set up an independent life on their own due to their lack of experience and talent, if they were all simultaneously freed by Islam. They would have had conditions similar to those slaves who were freed in America, and their lives would have been totally ruined.(2)
We might present the above as reasons for Islam not simultaneously freeing slaves. Rather the means for their
freedom were established gradually. Now let us consider the means provided by Islam to allow for their freedom. We will first consider the legal aspects expressed in Islamic jurisprudence and then consider the moral aspects.
Islamic jurisprudence established the following ways to free the slaves:
A contract could be drawn according to which the slave would be freed after he paid a certain amount of money to his master. Should he fail to do so, it was incumbent upon the religious leader to pay to free him.
A master could will that his slave be freed after his own demise.
If anyone becomes the owner of his own father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, child, grandchild, sister, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, or nephew, he would instantly free them.
If anyone frees a slave partially, the slave will be totally freed.
If a slave woman gets pregnant by her master and delivers his child, then she will be freed.
If a slave accepts Islam before his master does, he would be freed.
If a master chops off his slaves ear or nose or any other organs, then the slave will be freed.
If any slave gets blind, suffers from leprosy, or crippled then he will be freed, and his sustenance will be provided by the state.
If a rich master who has no one to inherit his wealth should die, then the slave would be purchased using the property left behind and thereby freed. The freed slave will inherit the rest of the master’s wealth left behind.
There is a chapter in Wasa`il al-Shī`ah
with many traditions. What we can conclude from these traditions is that a believing slave would be freed after seven years of serving his master.
One of the eight allowable ways to spend the alms tax is to purchase slaves in order to free them.
There is expiation for various acts such as intentionally breaking one’s fast, or unintentional murder, or not adhering to one’s pledge, oath or bet, etc. One of the ways of such expiation is to free slaves.(1)
Islam has provided practical and moral means for the freedom of slaves. We could look at the life and the practices of the Noble Prophet of Islam and the Immaculate Imams as an example. There are recorded facts in history. The Prophet of Islam himself freed slaves such as Zayd ibn Haritheh. Then the Muslims followed his example and freed slaves.
In addition to freeing Zayd ibn Haritheh, the Prophet Muhammad married off the daughter of Jahsh to him, and they lived together for a while. Then the Prophet Mohammad appointed Zayd’s son called Usama ibn Zayd as the chief of the army, and ruled that all the noble men both from among the immigrants and their helpers should obey him.
Imam Ali used his own income to free one thousand slaves.(2) Georgi Zaydan wrote: “Abdullah ibn Uman freed one thousand slaves and Muhammad ibn Suleiman freed seventy thousand slave men and women.”(3)
By establishing divine rewards for the Hereafter, Islam encouraged Muslims to free their slaves. The Holy Qur’an states:
أَلَمْ نَجْعَلْ لَهُ عَيْنَيْنِ وَلِسَانًا
وَشَفَتَيْنِ وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ فَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَة َ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْعَقَبَةُ فَكُّ رَقَبَةٍ أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَةٍ يَتِيمًا ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ
“Have We not made for him a pair of eyes? And a tongue, and a pair of lips? And shown him the two highways? But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep? (It is) freeing the bondman; or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent (down) in the dust.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Balad 90:8-16]
The Prophet of Islam said:
“God will save from the Fire of Hell the organs of whoever frees a Muslim slave: An organ for an organ.”
The eighth Imam said:
“God will save from the Fire - an organ for an organ of - whoever frees a slave.”
Finally we should remark that the words expressed by Imam Sajjad regarding the rights of the master incumbent upon the slave are related to the period of time that he is still not freed. This subject is extensive, but we will suffice to this much for now.
ثم حقوق الرعية
حق الرعية بالسلطان
فأَمَّا حُقُوقُ رَعِيَّتِكَ بالسُّلْطَانِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنَّكَ إنَّمَا اسْتَرْعَيْتَهُمْ بفَضْلِ قُوَّتِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ فَإنَّهُ إنَّمَا أَحَلَّهُمْ مَحَلَّ الرَّعِيَّةِ لَكَ ضَعْفُهُمْ وَذُلُّهُمْ، فَمَا أَوْلَى مَنْ كَفَاكَهُ ضَعْفُهُ وَذُلُّهُ حَتَّى صَيَّرَهُ لَكَ رَعِيَّةً وَصَيَّرَ حُكْمَكَ عَلَيْهِ نَافِذاً، لا يَمْتَنِعُ مِنْكَ بعِزَّةٍ وَلا قُوَّةٍ وَلا يَسْتَنْصِرُ فِيمَا تَعَاظَمَهُ مِنْكَ إلا
[باللهِ] بالرَّحْمَةِ وَالْحِيَاطَةِ وَالأَناةِ، وَمَا أَولاكَ إذَا عَرَفْتَ مَا أَعْطَاكَ الله مِنْ فَضْلِ هذِهِ الْعِزَّةِ وَالقُوَّةِ الَّتِي قَهَرْتَ بهَا أَنْ تَكُونَ لِلّهِ شَاكِراً، وَمَنْ شَكَرَ الله أَعْطَاهُ فِيمَا أَنعَمَ عَلَيْهِ. ولا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
Then the right of your subjects through authority is that(1) you should know that you have authority over them due to your power over them, and that they have been made your subjects through their weakness and humility. What do they deserve whose weakness and humility have made them your subjects, and made your authority over them effective? They do not disobey you by their own might and power.(2)
They cannot find a supporter against your power except by God, by His Mercy and Protection, and patience. How proper it is for you to recognize that God has granted you this increased might and power with which you have subdued others. You should be thankful to God. And God will increase His Graces to those who thank Him. And there is no power but in God.
Regarding the rights of the ruler, Imam Sajjad said that the people should obey him and avoid fighting him. Here he stresses the right of the people and states that the ruler should be fair to the people due to the power that he has. The Imam points out several important issues here. At first, the ruler should be just. Secondly, the Imam says that the ruler should act similar to a kind father. Thirdly, since the people might make mistakes during
their life, the ruler should be forgiving. At last, the Imam says that the ruler should be thankful to God for the power that He has granted him.
People consider a person who is not wishing bad for others, does not violate their rights, does not treat the people with prejudice, and treats everyone under his rule equally, to be a just ruler. On the other hand, they consider a person who violates their rights; practices prejudice, sides with the oppressors, and oppose the weak, to be an oppressive ruler. Thus, we can say that human justice implies respecting human rights, and honoring everybody's rights. This is what is meant by justice based upon rights. God has invited all men to justice in the Holy Qur’an as we read in the following verse:
إِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ
“God commands justice, the doing of good...” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:90]
The Prophet Muhammad said:
يَبْقى المُلكُ بِالعَدْلِ مَع الكُفْرِ، وَلا يَبْقى بِالجَورِ مَع الإيمَانِ.
“Rule can be sustained with unbelief, but it can never last with oppression.”(1)
He also said:
عَدْلُ سَاعَةٍ خَيرٌ مِن عِبادَةِ سِتِّينَ سَنَة.
“An hour of justice is better than sixty years of worship.”
Imam Ali beautifully expressed the difference between generosity and justice. When asked about this, he replied:
العَدْلُ يَضَعُ الأمُورَ مَواضِعَها وَالجُودُ يُخرِجُها مِن جِهَتِها وَالعَدْلُ سائِسٌ عامٌّ فَالجُودُ عارِضٌ خاصٌّ فالعَدلُ أشْرَفُهُما وَأفْضَلُهُما.
“Justice puts everything in its right place, but generosity takes them out of their places. Justice is a universal caretaker, but generosity will only benefit the one with whom you are generous.
Therefore justice is nobler and and more excellent.”(1)
All the divinely appointed Prophets to invite the people to God have declared man's prosperity and development subject to the development of ethics and the practice of justice. Let us look at the following verse in this regard:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just. That is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well acquainted with all that ye do.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ma’ida 5:8]
No issue in Islam is as important as the issue of justice. Justice is similar to the issue of the unity of God. Both issues highly affect all the major and minor principles of Islam. Likewise, none of the practical or ideological, personal or social, and moral or legal issues are separable from the subject of the unity of God. We shall not find any of the above issues void of the concept of justice.
Therefore, it is not surprising to realize that justice has been recognized as one of the major principles of our religion, and as one of the firm ideological foundations of the Muslims. An important issue pointed out in the above verse is that grudges, tribal animosities, and
personal quarrels can all hinder the practice of justice, and might lead to the violation of other people’s rights. Therefore, such practices that will lead to deviation from true justice should be abandoned since justice is more important than all of them. Therefore, practice justice since it is the most fundamental basis for piety and abstinence.
Consider the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلاَّ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَأَوْفُواْ الْكَيْلَ وَالْمِيزَانَ بِالْقِسْطِ لاَ نُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا وَإِذَا قُلْتُمْ فَاعْدِلُواْ وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى وَبِعَهْدِ اللّهِ أَوْفُواْ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُم بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
“And come not nigh to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength; give measure and weigh with (full) justice. No burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear. Whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned, and fulfill the Covenant of God. Thus doth He command you, that ye may remember.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-An’am 6:152]
In this verse, God invites the guardians of the orphans, salespersons and those who weigh goods that they sell to adhere to justice, and even more important than this is justice in speaking. This verse recommends justice in speaking, justice in transactions, and justice when dealing with those members of the society who do not have parents.
When talking about the orphan’s property, God uses the phrase “come not nigh to the orphan’s property” which means do not approach it. This concept has
also been used regarding some other tempting sinful acts such as prostitution, fornication, and stealing the properties of orphans who have no supporters. God admonishes the people not to approach these deeds so as to be safe from their strong and hard to resist temptations.
Consider the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
إِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تُؤدُّواْ الأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُواْ بِالْعَدْلِ إِنَّ اللّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُم بِهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا
“God doth command you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due. And when you judge between man and man that ye judge with justice. Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For God is He Who heareth and seeth all things.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa’ 4:58]
In this verse, God advises us to return what we are entrusted with to its owner. Then God stresses the importance of justice when we make a judgment between people. This advice to adhere to justice has been described to be an excellent teaching, and the judge has been warned that God hears and sees everything, so he should be careful not to misjudge.
In addition, God has established justice and doing good deeds as equal to one another as expressed in the following verse:
إِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاء ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
“God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion. He
instructs you that ye may receive admonition.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:90]
Also, consider the following verse:
يَا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَى فَيُضِلَّكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَضِلُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ بِمَا نَسُوا يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ
“O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth. So, judge thou between men in truth (and justice). Nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of God. For those who wonder astray from the Path of God is a Penalty Grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account.” [The Holy Qur’an, Sad 38:26]
In this verse, God first stresses vicegerency on the Earth. Next God admonishes the Prophet David to adhere to justice in his judgments. At last, God admonishes against following lust that will mislead us to deviate from justice and forget the Resurrection Day and the Reckoning that is sure to come. We presented the above verses of the Holy Qur’an as a sample here in order to express the degree of importance of justice, and to stress that a ruler must be fair with all the people in the society. Next, we will look at several traditions regarding the issue of justice.
Abu Ali al-Ashari quoted on the authority of al-Hasan ibn Ali al-Koofi on the authority of Ubays ibn Hisham on the authority of Abdulkarim Halabi on the authority of Abi Abdullah : “Justice is more delicious than water is for
a thirsty person. How extensive is justice when it is put in effect, even if it is done a little.”(1)
Hasan ibn Ali quoted on the authority of Ibn Mahbooh on the authority of Mu`awiyah ibn Wahab on the authority of Imam Sadiq :
العَدْلُ أحْلى مِن الشَّهْدِ وَألْيَنُ مِن الزَّبَدِ وَأطْيَبُ رِيحاً مِن المِسْكِ.
“Justice is sweeter than honey, softer than butter, and more fragrant than musk.”(2)
It has been narrated that Ibn Abi Ya’fur asked Imam Sadiq : “How is one’s justice recognized among Muslims so that his witnessing for or against someone can be accepted?” The Imam replied:
أنْ تَعرِفوهُ بِالسَّتْرِ وَالعَفافِ وَكَفِّ البَطْنِ وَالفَرْجِ واليَدِ وَاللِّسانِ، ويُعرَفُ باجْتِنابِ الكَبائِرِ الَّتي أوعَدَ الله عَلَيها النّارَ مِن شُربِ الخَمْرِ والزِّنا وَالرِّبا وَعُقوقِ الوالِدَينِ والفَرارِ مِن الزَّحْفِ وَغَيرِ ذلِكَ.
“You will recognize it through his modesty and chastity, and his restraining his stomach, private parts, hand and tongue. It will be known by his avoidance of major sins for which God has threatened (the punishment of) the Fire such as drinking wine, fornication, usury, undutiful behaviour towards parents, fleeing from a holy war, etc.”(3)
Imam Ali expresses the mutual rights of the people and the ruler in Nahjul Balaghah as follows:
أيُّها النّاسُ! إنَّ لي عَلَيكمُ حَقّاً وَلَكم عَلَيَّ حَقٌّ. فأمّا حقُّكُم عَليَّ فالنَّصِيحَةُ وَتَوفِيرُ فَيئِكُم عَليكُم وَتَعلِيمُكُم كَيلا تَجْهَلوا وتَأدِيبُكُم كَيما تَعَلَّمُوا. وأمّا حَقِّي عَلَيكُم فَالوَفاءُ بِالبَيعَةِ وَالنَّصِيحَةُ في المَشْهَدِ وَالمَغِيبِ والإجَابَةُ حِينَ أدْعوكُم وَالطَّاعَةُ حِين آمُرُكُم.
“O people! I have rights incumbent upon you, and you have rights incumbent upon me. Your rights incumbent upon me
include my advising you, paying your dues fully, educating you so that you do not remain ignorant, and training you until you learn. And my rights incumbent upon you include your remaining loyal to your pledge of allegiance to me, sincerely advising both in public and private, responding when I call you, and obedience when I command you.”(1)
Imam Ali mentions the rights of the people incumbent upon the ruler as giving them advice, counseling them on social and economical issues, and providing them with equal educational opportunities. The ruler should attend to the economic and educational needs of the society. The right of the ruler is that the people should remain loyal to their pledge of allegiance, and give him counsel sincerely both in private and public. The people should also stand ready to respond to the call of the ruler and obey his orders. Imam Ali also said:
وَأَعْظَمُ ما افْتَرَضَ سُبْحانَهُ مِن تِلكَ الحُقوقِ حَقُّ الوَالي عَلى الرَّعِيَّةِ. وَحَقُّ الرَّعِيَّةِ عَلى الوالي فَريضَةٌ فَرَضَها اللهُ سُبحانَهُ لِكُلٍّ عَلى كُلٍّ فَجَعَلَها نِظاماً لأُلْفَتِهِم وَعِزّاً لِدِينِهِم فَلَيْسَتْ تَصْلُحُ الرَّعِيَّةُ إلاّ بِصَلاحِ الوُلاةِ وَلا تَصْلُحُ الوُلاةُ إلاّ بِاسْتِقامَةِ الرَّعِيَّةِ. فإذا أدَّتِ الرَّعِيَّةُ إلى الوالي حَقَّهُ وأدّى الوالي إلَيها حَقَّها عَزَّ الحَقُّ بَيْنَهُم وَقَامَت مَناهِجُ الدِّينِ وَاعْتَدَلَتْ مَعالِمُ العَدْلِ وَجَرَتْ على أَذْلالِها السُّنَنُ فَصَلُحَ بِذلِكَ الزَّمانُ وَطُمِعَ في بَقاءِ الدَّولَةِ وَبَئِسَتْ مَطامِعُ الأعْداء.
“The most important of these rights which God the Almighty has made incumbent are the rights of the ruler incumbent upon the people, and the rights of the people incumbent upon
the ruler. God has made these mutual rights incumbent upon each one of them. He has established these rights as measures to safeguard order, friendliness, and honor in their religion.
The affairs of the people shall not improve unless the rulers are good people. Rulers will not be good people unless the people are hard-working and steadfast. If the two respect each other’s rights, then their religion will be honored, and its practice will survive. Then the signs of justice will be established firmly, and divine traditions will take their natural course. If these principles are recognized and these rights are respected, then there will be an era of improvement and progress. The rule of government will last, and the enemies will be disappointed.”(1)
Imam Ali continues:
وَإذا غَلَبَتِ الرَّعِيَّةُ وَاليَها أوْ أَجْحَفَ الوالي بِرَعِيَّتِهِ اخْتَلَفَتْ هُنالِكَ الكَلِمَةُ وَظَهَرَتْ مَعالِمُ الجَورِ وَكَثُرَ الإدْغالُ في الدِّينِ وَتُرِكَتْ مَحَاجُّ السُّنَنِ فَعُمِلَ بِالهَوَى وَعُطِّلَتِ الأحْكامُ وَكَثُرَت عِلَلُ النُّفُوسِ فلا يُسْتَوحَشُ لِعَظِيمِ حَقٍّ عُطِّلَ وَلا لِعَظِيمِ باطِلٍ فُعِلَ فَهُنالِكَ تُذَّلُ الأبْرارُ وَتَعِزُّ الأشْرارُ وَتَعْظُمُ تَبِعاتُ اللهِ عِنْدَ العِبادِ
“But if on the other hand, the people do not pay any attention to their ruler, or the ruler oppresses the people, then there will be discord and an increase in oppression. Then things that corrupt the religion will be mingled with religion. Divine traditions will be forced off their right course, and people will follow their desires and laws will be neglected. Diseases of the soul will increase and there will be no feeling of desolation for the great
rights that have been neglected or the the major crimes committted. Then the good-doers will be humiliated and the wrongdoers will be honored. Under these circumstances, the consequences of the people’s sins will be much more severe before God.”(1)
In this sermon, Imam Ali has stressed on the causes of the stability of a government, and the means of existence of peace between the people and the ruler, and its consequence as national prosperity. He also outlines the roots of lack of social peace and security, and the causes of the collapse of a government.
He expresses the conditions that lead to humiliation of good people, and their exclusion from assuming social responsibilities, and the coming into power of wicked people. Then all religious affairs will be called off, corruption and deviations will become widespread and the society will be on the verge of collapse.
Imam Ali expressed the following in a letter he wrote to the border patrol:
أمَّا بَعْدُ فإنَّ حَقّاً عَلى الوالي أنْ لا يُغَيِّرَهُ عَلى رَعِيَّتِهِ فَضْلٌ نَالَهُ ولا طَوْلٌ خُصَّ بِهِ وإنْ يَزِيدَهُ ما قَسَّمَ اللهُ لهُ مِن نِعْمَةٍ دُنُوّاً مِن عِبادِهِ وَعَطْفاً عَلى إخْوانِهِ.
“Moreover, the right that is incumbent upon the ruler is not to withdraw his donations to the people from the blessings that he obtains. He should not change his ways. He should grant to the people of the special grants he receives. He should give some of what God has given him as his share to the people as to be closer to them. He
should treat his brothers with kindness and benefit from their affection”(1)
Imam Ali himself acted accordingly, and his rule was truly a just rule. He was like a kind and sympathetic father for the society and said:
أَأقْنَعُ أنْ يُقالَ أمِيرُ المُؤمِنِينَ ولا أُشارِكُهُم مَكارِهَ الدَّهْرِ؟
“Should I be content with being called the Commander of the Faithful, and not share their hardships in this world?”(2)
No, it will never be so.
Imam Sajjad said:
“A ruler should be like a kind father and consider the members of the society as his children, and treat them equally.”
This was put into practice during the rule of Imam Ali and the Imam made the following recommendations to Malik al-Ashtar in his well-known letter to him:
وَأَشْعِرْ قَلْبَكَ الرَّحْمَةَ لِلرَّعِيَّةِ، وَالْمَحَبَّةَ لَهُمْ، وَاللُّطْفَ بِهِمْ، وَلا تَكُونَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ سَبُعاً ضارِياً تَغْتَنِمُ أَكْلَهُمْ، فَإنَّهُمْ صِنْفانِ: إمّا أَخٌ لَكَ فِي الدِّينِ، وَإمّا نَظِيرٌ لَكَ فِي الْخَلْق.
“Let your heart harbor feelings of mercy for your subjects, and love and kindness for them. Do not be like a rapacious beast of prey against them, seizing them in order to devour them, for people are in two groups: either they are your brothers in religion or they are equal to you in creation.”
Imam Sajjad said:
“The people have faults which the ruler should forgive and forget.”
Imam Ali said the following in his letter to Malik al-Ashtar:
فَإنَّ فِي النّاسِ عُيُوباً إلْوالِي أَحَقُّ مَنْ سَتَرَها، فَلا تَكْشِفَنَّ عَمّا غابَ عَنْكَ مِنْها، فَإنَّما عَلَيْكَ تَطْهِيرُ ما ظَهَرَ لَكَ.
“Indeed people have faults, and the ruler is the one who is
most suitable to cover up their faults. Therefore do not reveal those faults that are hidden from you, for your duty is only to remove what is apparent to you.”
An important point has been considered here, that is to ignore or act as if you do not know the faults of the people. Any ruler or government should be this way. The last subject related to the rights of the people that Imam Sajjad presents is that the ruler should be grateful to God for the blessing of ruling over the people.
He should realize that he does not possess any power on his own and it is in fact God who has granted him this power. He should realize that he himself is only a weak person. Imam Ali instructs Malik al-Ashtar:
وَإذا أَحْدَثَ لَكَ ما أَنْتَ فِيهِ مِنْ سُلْطانِكَ أُبَّهَةً أَوْ مَخِيلَةً فَانْظُرْ إلى عِظَمِ مُلْكِ اللهِ فَوْقَكَ وَقُدْرَتِهِ مِنْكَ عَلى ما لا تَقْدِرُ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ نَفْسِكَ، فَإنَّ ذٰلِكَ يُطامِنُ إلَيْكَ مِنْ طِماحِكَ، وَيَكُفُّ عَنْكَ مِنْ غَرْبِكَ، وَيَفِيُ إلَيْكَ بِما عَزَبَ عَنكَ مِنْ عَقْلِكَ.
“Should you ever feel proud and haughty due to your rule, consider the Majesty of God’s dominion above you and His power over you in what you yourself have no control. This will hinder you from your disobedience, prevent your harshness and return to you what has departed from you of your intellect (which has become subject to your haughtiness).”
Then it is best for a ruler to be grateful for this divine blessing.
حق الرعية بالعلم
حَقُّ رَعِيَّتِكَ بالعِلْمِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنَّ اللهَ قَدْ جَعَلَكَ لَهُمْ فِيمَا آتاكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ وَولاّكَ مِنْ خَزَانةِ الْحِكْمَةِ، فَإنْ أَحْسَنْتَ فِيمَا ولاّكَ اللهُ مِنْ ذلِكَ وَقُمْتَ بهِ لَهُمْ مَقَامَ الخَازِنِ الشَّفِيقِ النَّاصِحِ لِمَولاهُ فِي عَبيدِهِ، الصَّابرِ الْمُحْتَسِب الَّذِي إذَا رأَى ذا حَاجَةٍ أَخرَجَ لَهُ مِنَ الأَمْوَالِ الَّتِي فِي يَدَيهِ كُنْتَ رَاشِدًا، وَكُنْتَ لِذَلِكَ آمِلاً مُعْتَقِدًا وَإلاّ كُنْتَ لَهُ خَائِنًا وَلِخَلقِهِ ظَالِمًا وَلِسَلْبهِ وَعِزِّهِ مُتَعَرِّضًا.
And the right of your subjects through knowledge is that you should know that God established you over them through what He has granted you of knowledge, and the authority He has assigned you over His treasures of wisdom.
If you do well in what God has given you authority over and serve as a compassionate caretaker for them, sincere to his master in the affairs of his slaves, the steadfast one seeking reward through his good deeds, who, when he sees a needy person, takes out for him from the wealth under his control - then you will be rightly guided and will be hopeful and faithful.
Otherwise, you will be regarded as betraying Him, unjust to His creatures, and exposing yourself to God's seizing His Graces and Power from you.
And in the other version we read: “And the right of your subjects through knowledge is that you should know that God established you over them through what He has granted you of knowledge and what He has granted authority over His treasures of wisdom.
If you do well in teaching the people, not treating them
roughly or annoying them, then God will increase His bounty toward you. But if you withhold your knowledge from people or treat them roughly when they seek knowledge from you, then it will be God’s right to deprive you of the knowledge and its splendor and make you fall from your place in the people’s heart.”
Imam Sajjad has pointed out the following:
1 - What one has learned of knowledge, and whatever he has gained of wisdom are all blessings of God. One does not have any of this on his own. Therefore, after considering these points one should not become haughty.
2 - What one has control over of knowledge and wisdom is only a portion of God’s treasure. He is only considered to be a trustee and a gatekeeper. He should warmly welcome others, and kindly grant them from the treasures with which he is entrusted.
3 - Imam Sajjad considers knowledgeable wise men as gatekeepers of the treasures of knowledge and wisdom. He does not deem it proper to be stingy about knowledge or wisdom, as it is not proper to be stingy with wealth.
4 - If the one who possesses knowledge acts upon his duties, he is like a sympathetic counselor who has seriously safeguarded what he is entrusted with. Otherwise, he is like one who has betrayed his master. By not respecting the rights of his subjects through knowledge, he has oppressed them, and has deprived them of their rights to be honored.
Therefore, one who possesses knowledge should
seek ways to teach his students that would encourage them to learn. Any form of bad-temper, ill conduct or anger with the students will make the students lose their interest. It might even force them to quit their studies. In fact, this implies that the one who possesses knowledge has hoarded up his knowledge, and is being stingy with his knowledge by showing this kind of behavior.
A good teacher is one who possesses the following desirable characteristics in teaching and encountering his students:
1 - A good teacher is one who does not assume the responsibility of teaching until he attains all the desirable qualities and capabilities of a teacher. This is to be recognized by good people.
2 - A good teacher is one who does not entrust his knowledge to bad people to be abused and debased.
3 - A good teacher should put his knowledge to practice, and the society should be given the chance to benefit from the fruits of this act. If not, he is like those admonished in the following verse:
أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنسَوْنَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ أَفَلاَ تَعْقِلُونَ
“Do ye enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (to practice it) yourselves.”[The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:44]
Regarding the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاء إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ غَفُورٌ
“Those truly fear God, among His servants, who have knowledge.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Fatir 35:28]
Imam Sadiq said:
العَالِمُ مَن صَدَّقَ فِعْلُهُ قَولَهُ وَمَنْ لَمْ يُصَدِّقْ قَولُهُ فِعْلَهُ فَلَيسَ بِعالِمٍ.
“A knowledgeable person is one whose deeds confirm
his words. One whose deeds do not confirm his words is not a knowledgeable person.”(1)
4- A good teacher should be good-tempered and humble. He should train his students with patience and kindness. The Prophet of God said the following regarding scholars:
عُلَماءُ أُمَّتِي كَأنْبِياءِ بَني إسْرائِيلَ.
“My nation’s scholars are like the Prophet of the Israelites.”(2)
This implies that the same patience and good-temper that is necessary for the Prophets to succeed in their inviting the people to follow God, is also necessary for teachers to be successful in teaching their students.
5 - A good teacher should not use the student’s lack of sincerity and intent to learn as an excuse not to teach him. Rather he should admit him, and slowly develop this sincerity and intention to acquire knowledge in the student in the process of teaching. This is because knowledge without sincerity is similar to jewelry hanging around a pig’s neck as Imam Ali said:
لا تُعَلِّقُوا الجَواهِرَ في أعْناقِ الخَنازِيرِ.
“Do not hang jewels around a pig’s neck.”(3)
6 - A good teacher should not hesitate to teach whenever he finds a student ready to learn. Jabir Jo’afi quoted on the authority of Imam Baqir:
زَكاةُ العِلمِ تَعلِيمُهُ عِبادَ اللهِ.
“The alms due to be paid on your knowledge is teaching it to God’s servants.”(4)
7 - A good teacher is one whose deeds do not negate his words. An example of this might be his declaring something to be illegitimate, but doing it himself.
8 - A good teacher should be determined to express what is
right as much as is in his power to do so. The Prophet of God said:
إذَا ظَهَرَتِ البِدَعُ في أُمَّتِي فَلْيُظْهِرِ العالِمُ عِلْمَهُ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَفْعَل فَعَلَيْهِ لَعنَةُ اللهِ.
“When innovations (in religion) appear in my nation, then let the person of knowledge confront it. Whoever does not do so, upon him be the curse of God.”(1)
The following are the duties of a good teacher to his students and class:
1 - A good teacher should foster good manners, proper ethics and religious knowledge in his students step by step. He should develop their sense of abstaining from this world.
2 - A good teacher should explain the value and the nobility of knowledge to his students. He should help them understand that the men of knowledge stand in the ranks of the Prophets.
3 - A good teacher should like for his students what he likes for himself, and should dislike for them what he dislikes for himself.
4 - A good teacher should advise his students not to follow bad examples and not to commit the forbidden acts or what might harm them.
5 - A good teacher should not be haughty with his students. Rather he should be humble with them since the Prophet of God said:
لِينُوا لِمَنْ تُعَلِّمونَ وَلِمَنْ تَتَعَلَّمونَ مِنْهُ.
“Be gentle with those you teach and those you learn from.”
6 - A good teacher should always be sympathetic with his students. Whenever one of them is absent, he should ask the reason. He should check on them every now and then
either in person or through someone else. He should visit them if they get ill. He should try to help fulfill their needs when they become needy if he is able to assist them.
7 - A good teacher should get to know the names and characteristics of his students.
8 - A good teacher should seek the easiest way to teach. In the beginning, he should teach whatever must be taught first in order to make them understand what he is teaching. He should present the material to his students at a level that is understandable by them.
9 - A good teacher should be enthusiastic about going to class, and should avoid presenting material beyond the mental ability of his students to comprehend.
10 - A good teacher should treat all of his students the same. If they are all of the same rank, he should not prefer some to others. In addition, if there is an age-related difference in their rank, he should show more respect for the students with a higher rank to encourage the rest to work hard to attain a higher rank.
1 - A teacher should be clean, wear clean clothes, walk calmly towards his class, and enter the class with utmost dignity.(1)
2 - A teacher should remember God, and say supplications transmitted to us through the Prophet of God and the Immaculate Imams stressing the highest spiritual meanings. He should pray God to help guide him, and help him understand well, and then start to teach.
A teacher should greet his students upon entering the class. If he is teaching in a mosque, he should at first say two units of prayers, ask God to save him from making any mistakes, and help him succeed.
4 - When he wants to sit down in class, he should be calm. He should sit down with dignity and having previously prepared his lecture, he should start to teach.
5 - He should sit down facing the Qiblah(1) whenever possible and avoid vain talk.
6 - He should be sincere in his intentions to teach when he sets out to go to class. He should establish the propagation of knowledge and divine decrees as his main goal.
7 - He should avoid undue jokes while teaching. However, he should use jokes mildly and at proper times to break the ice and eliminate the highly formal atmosphere of the classroom.
8 - He should sit where every student can see him. He should look at him and reply.
9 - He should be happy and pleasant when he is teaching, and avoid frowning, or being bad-tempered.
10 - He should bless his class by starting his lecture with some verses from the Holy Qur’an.
11 - It is very important for a good teacher to confess that he does not know the answer to a question asked for which he does not know the answer. He should do so bravely since Imam Ali said:
إذَا سُئِلْتُم عَمّا لا تَعْلَمونَ فَاهْرُبوا… تَقولونَ: اللهُ أعْلَمُ.
“If you are asked about what you
know not, then flee.” He was asked how. He replied: “Flee by saying God knows best.”
One should realize that acknowledging that you do not know the answer to that question does not reduce your status. Rather it will strengthen your status in the hearts of the people since then they realize that you are pious.
The late Al-Shahid al-Thani(1) expresses more characteristics of a good teacher in the book Muniat al-Mureed. However, we will suffice with the above and direct our attention to the worth of the knowledge-seekers, and the reward that God has established for them.
1 - God’s Prophet said:
مَنْ طَلَبَ عِلْماً فَأدْرَكَهُ كَتَبَ اللهُ لهُ كِفْلَينِ مِن الأجْرِ، وَمَن طَلبَ عِلماً فَلَم يُدْرِكْهُ كَتَبَ اللهُ له كِفلاً مِن الأجْرِ.
“God will grant two rewards to whoever seeks knowledge and acquires it. And God will grant one reward to those who seek knowledge, but do not acquire it.”
2 - God’s Prophet said:
مَنْ أَحَبَّ أنْ يَنْظُرَ إلى عُتَقاءِ اللهِ مِن النّارِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ إلى المُتَعَلّمِينَ: فَوالّذي نَفْسي بِيَدِهِ ما مِنْ مُتَعَلِّمٍ يَخْتَلِفُ إلى بابِ العَالِمِ إلاّ كَتَبَ اللهُ له بِكُلِّ قَدَمٍ عِبادَةَ سَنَةٍ وَبَنى اللهُ لهُ بِكُلِّ قَدَمٍ مَدينَةً في الجَنَّةِ وَيَمْشِي عَلى الأرْضِ وَهِيَ تَسْتَغْفِرُ له وَيْمْسِي وَيُصْبِحُ مَغْفوراً لهُ وَشَهِدَتِ المَلائِكَةُ أنَّهُم عُتَقاءُ اللهِ مِن النّارِ.
“Whoever likes to see those saved by God from the Fire (of Hell) should take a look at those who seek knowledge. I swear by the One who possesses full control over my life that God grants the reward of one year of worshipping Him for
each step that the knowledge-seekers take while going to and returning from the house of the knowledgeable ones. For each step they take, God builds them a city in Heaven. The Earth prays for them and seeks their forgiveness as they walk on it. Their mornings and evenings are accompanied by God’s forgiveness and the angels witness that they have been freed by God from the Fire.”(1)
3- God’s Prophet said:
مَن طَلَبَ العِلْمَ فَهُو كالصّائِمِ نَهارَهُ وَالقَائِمِ لَيْلَهُ وإنَّ باباً مِن العِلْمِ يَتَعَلَّمُهُ الرَّجُلُ خَيرٌ لهُ مِن أنْ يَكونَ أبو قُبَيسٍ ذَهَباً فأنْفَقَهُ في سَبيلِ اللهِ.
“Whoever seeks knowledge is like one who fasts in the daytime and stays up at night to worship God. For him each chapter that he learns is better than giving as much gold in charity as Mount Abu Qubays for the sake of God.”(2)
4- God’s Prophet said:
مَن جَاءَهُ المَوتُ وهُوَ يَطْلُبُ العِلمَ لِيُحيِيَ بهِ الإسْلامَ كانَ بَينَهُ وَبَيْنَ الأنْبِياءِ دَرَجَةٌ واحِدَةٌ في الجَنَّةِ.
“Whoever dies while seeking knowledge with the intention of reviving Islam, then there is one rank in Heaven between him and the Prophets.”(3)
This was a brief summary of the values of students that the Noble Prophet expressed.
وَأمَّا حَقُّ رَعِيَّتِكَ بمِلْكِ النّكَاحِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ جَعَلَهَا سَكَنًا وَمُسْتَرَاحًا وَأُنْسًا وَوَاقِيةً، وَكَذَلِكَ كُلُّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْكُمَا يَجِبُ أَنْ يَحْمَدَ اللَّهَ عَلَى صَاحِبهِ، ويَعْلَمَ أَنَّ ذَلِكَ نِعْمَةٌ مِنْهُ عَلَيْهِ. وَوَجَبَ أَنْ يُحْسِنَ صُحْبَةَ نِعْمَةِ اللَّهِ وَيُكْرِمَهَا ويَرْفَقَ بهَا وَإنْ كَانَ حَقُّكَ عَلَيْهَا أَغْلَظَ وَطَاعَتُكَ بهَا أَلْزَمَ فِيمَا أَحْببْتَ وَكَرِهْتَ مَا لَمْ تَكنْ مَعْصِيةً، فإنَّ
لَهَا حَقُّ الرَّحمَةِ وَالْمُؤَانَسَةِ، وَمَوْضِعُ السُّكُونِ إلَيهَا قَضَاءَ اللَّذَّةِ الَّتِي لا بُدَّ مِنْ قَضَائِهَا وَذَلِكَ عَظِيمٌ. وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of your subject through matrimonial contract(1) is that you should know that God has made her a repose, a comfort and a companion, and a protector for you. It is incumbent upon each of you to thank God for the other and realize that the other one is God's blessing for you. It is obligatory to be a good companion for God's blessing, and to honor her and treat her gently.
Yet, your right over her is more incumbent(2) and she must obey you in every matter that you like or detest - except in acts of disobedience to God. She should enjoy the rights of mercy and intimacy, as she is an object of tranquility. You should care for her through consummation of the lust that must be consummated. And that is surely great. And there is no power but in God.
“The right of your wife (zawja) is that you know that God has made her a repose and a comfort for you; you should know that she is God's favor toward you, so you should honor her and treat her gently. Though her right toward you is more incumbent, you must treat her with compassion, since she is your prisoner (asir) whom you feed and clothe. If she is ignorant, you should pardon her.”(3)
This statement can be read in Makarim ul-Akhlaq: “She also has the right
to have mercy on her, since she is subject to you. You must feed and clothe her. Whenever she makes a mistake out of ignorance, you should forgive her.”
We already discussed the issue of marriage and establishment of a family in chapter 9 in detail. In that chapter which was about sex, we explained that the best way to prevent adultery and the corruption of the society is through marriage and the establishment of family. We described the physical, spiritual and psychological harms of sexual corruption and fornication. Now in this chapter we will briefly discuss the duties of a spouse as viewed in the Qur’an and the traditions - as expressed by Imam Sajjad .
We already mentioned that marriage is a blessed foundation of a family. The husband and wife make a promise to each other that this relationship will last to the end of their life. This structure is not built using bricks, steel rods and cement. It is a home built upon love, comfort and delight in which the couple shall live together their whole life, and raise boys and girls to continue the human society. We shall remind you that this structure is only firm if the husband and wife know about what Islam has set forth as rightful decrees. Otherwise, this structure will be shaken up by the erupting quakes of disharmony and bad temper.
The first characteristics mentioned by Imam Sajjad are tranquility and dwelling in love. God has considered the creation of man and
woman, and their dwelling together as signs in the Holy Qur’an:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them. And he has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Rum 3:21]
This issue of dwelling together in love is also stated in the following verse:
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَجَعَلَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا لِيَسْكُنَ إِلَيْهَا
“It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate in order that he might dwell with her (in love).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-A'raf 7:189]
The two concepts of tranquility and dwelling together, which are major God-given blessings, are presented in these verses. This includes physical and spiritual as well as individual and social aspects of tranquility and mutual life. No one can deny the physical ailments due to not marrying. Everyone is familiar with the spiritual problems and psychological disturbances that unmarried people have to deal with.
Unmarried people feel less social responsibility. This is why more cases of suicidal attempts are seen among unmarried people. They also commit more crimes. A person who gets married is no longer single. He discovers a new character within himself, and feels a lot more responsible.
In these verses, love and mercy have been expressed after tranquility and living together in peace
which is the best form of life. Everyone is seeking a peaceful life. In fact, love and mercy constitute the glue and cement for the structure of the human society. There are some differences between love and mercy.
1 - Love is the initial motivation for establishing a relationship. However, at the end of life one or the other one gets weak, and mercy is needed.
2 - Love exists between the adults who can serve each other. However, children need mercy to grow up.
3 - Love is usually a mutual feeling, while mercy is unilateral and mixed with self-sacrifice.(1)
When the life of a couple is filled with tranquility, is based on love, and is accompanied by mercy, it is firmly established. On the other hand, a life without these is a shaky life, ready to break apart. Marriage is like the first level of social life. Through marriage, one can study and learn about the rights.
There are two kinds of rights established between a couple: legal rights and moral rights. The legal rights include the right that the husband must feed and clothe his wife and provide for her shelter. They also include the right that the woman should obey her husband. These rights are the fundamentals of mutual life, and are needed in order to provide for life - just like the foundation and the structure of a building.
However, moral rights are those which both the husband and the wife are morally bound to adhere to. Should they not adhere
to these rights, there is no legal obligation for them to do so. However, the beauty and pleasure of life is dependent upon performing these duties. Acts like compliance, friendship and love fall in this group. One can consider these rights as the decorations of life such as painting and fine plaster work.
“The law of creation has made men and women in need of each other in order to better unite men and women together, and strengthen the family which is the main basis for human prosperity. If men have been established as the ones for the women to financially rely on, women have been created for men to spiritually rely on. These different needs attract them to each other, and finally unite them.”(1)
Consider the following verse:
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاء بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُواْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللّهُ وَاللاَّتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلاَ تَبْغُواْ عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلاً إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore, the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what God would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly): But if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance).
For God is Most High, Great (above you all).” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Nisaa 4:34]
We must realize that the family is a small society, and it needs a head and a leader. The man is the head of the household. The woman is his assistant and is under his supervision. We must know that this position is granted to him due to the characteristics that exist in men. Such characteristics are his ability to let his mind rule over his feelings - as opposed to women, and his possession of more power and physical strength.
Men can use the first to plan for their life, and use the second to safeguard their family. The phrase “because God has given the one more (strength) than the other” in the above verse refers to this point. However, it is clear that entrusting men with this duty neither is considered to be a reason for their possessing a higher human character, nor is it to be a privilege for them. It is clear that in general, the human character of an assistant may be loftier than that of his boss in some aspects. However, the boss is usually more suitable than his assistant, for the performance of the duty he is made responsible for.
In this verse, women are classified into two groups. The women in the first group are righteous ones. They are humble. They respect the family structure. They are highly responsible, and perform their duties and responsibilities well. Regarding the rights that God
has established and are expressed in the above verse as “what God would have them guard.” they perform their responsibilities well.
This they do regarding financial issues, and guarding their honor. The women in the second group are the disobedient ones who are seen to have signs of possible disloyalty and ill-conduct. Men are supposed to honor and respect the first group of women, and admonish, or refuse to sleep with the second group. Should these measures not work, men are supposed to punish them as decreed by Islam.(1)
We presented the above verse to show that according to the Holy Qur’an, men are responsible for protecting and maintaining women. Imam Sajjad stressed their right to be fed and clothed by men. All the major jurisprudents have also decreed they have the right to be fed and clothed: “It is obligatory for men to pay for the living expenses of their permanent wives.
These expenses include food, clothes, shelter, and living necessities such as rugs, blankets, cleaning apparatus, and things that women usually need during their life. This is required if she lives in his house and is obedient to him. Therefore, if she leaves the house without a religiously acceptable excuse, and leaves him then she does not deserve to be maintained. It is well-known that this responsibility of maintaining his wife is only up until the time when the wife is complaisant, and is lifted if she becomes disobedient.”(2)
It was said that women have two types of rights. One is her
legal right to maintenance. Should the man not pay for her maintenance, she has the right to legally claim and receive it. However, rights of the second type are moral, humane rights. Respecting these rights will cause tranquility, peace, and will strengthen life and aid its continuation.
Now we will attend to these rights. The Noble Prophet has made several recommendations regarding women on various occasions. We will present only a few here. The Prophet said:
خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لأَهْلِهِ وَأنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لأهْلِي.
“The best of you are the ones who treat their family the best. And I am the best of you towards my family.”(1)
He also said:
عِيالُ الرَّجُلِ أسَراؤهُ، وأحَبُّ العِبادِ إلى اللّه تعَالى أحْسَنُهُم صَنيعاً إلى أُسَرائِهِ.
“A man's dependants are his prisoners. And the servants most loved by God are the ones who best treat their prisoners.”(2)
Imam Baqir quoted on the authority of God's Prophet :
أوْصَاني جِبْرَئِيلُ بِالمَرْأةِ حَتىّ ظَنَنْتُ أنَّهُ لا يَنْبَغِي طَلاقُها إلاّ مِن فاحِشَةٍ بَيِّنَةٍ.
“Gabriel advised me about women so much that I thought she could not be divorced unless she clearly commits adultery.”(3)
In another tradition, The Prophet said:
مَن احْتَمَلَ مِن امْرَأتِهِ وَلَو كَلِمَةً وَاحِدَةً أعْتَقَ اللهُ رَقَبَتَهُ مِن النّارِ وأوْجَبَ لَهُ الجَنَّةَ وَكَتَبَ له مِائَتَيْ ألْفِ حَسَنَةٍ وَمَحا عَنهُ مِائَتَيْ ألْفِ سَيِّئَةٍ وَرَفَعَ لهُ مِائَتَيْ ألْفِ دَرَجَةٍ وَكَتَبَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بِكُلِّ شَعْرَةٍ عَلى بَدَنِهِ عِبادَةَ سَنَةٍ.
“God will save whoever bears his wife - even if it is just one (bad) word - from the Fire. God will assure him of Heaven and record two thousand good deeds
for him. God will wipe out two hundred thousand of his wrong-doings and raise his rank two hundred thousand levels, and establish as many years of worshipping for him as there are hairs on his body.”(1)
These words of the Noble Prophet are the best advice we have received regarding women. A man is supposed to be kind and polite to his wife. He is supposed to ignore her mistakes. He is supposed to be patient with her bad temper to be granted the divine rewards that the Noble Prophet promised.
There is no doubt that there are problems in every house. At times incompatibilities may cause quarrels that might cool their relationship. This will place a gap between them, and will drive them more apart from each other. If not prevented, this might lead to separation and divorce. A young inexperienced husband and wife who still follow their lust may get angry quickly, and attempt to take revenge on each other. In order to prevent this, Islam has advised men and women to forgive each other, and ignore one another's faults.
Ishaq ibn Ammar asked Imam Sadiq regarding the rights of a woman upon her husband. Imam Sadiq said:
يُشْبِعُ بَطْنَها ويَكْسُو جُثَّتَها وإنْ جَهِلَتْ غَفَر لهَا. إنَّ إبْراهِيمَ خَليلَ الرَّحْمنِ شَكا إلى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ خُلُقَ سارَةَ فَأوْحَى اللهُ إليَهِ أنَّ مَثَلَ المَرأةِ مَثَلُ الضِّلْعِ إنْ أقَمْتَهُ انْكَسَرَ وإنْ تَركْتَهُ اسْتَمْتَعْتَ بهِ.
“He should fill her stomach, and cover her body. If she makes a mistake, he should forgive her. Abraham - the
friend of the Merciful - complained to the Almighty God about Sara's bad temper. God revealed to him: The similitude of a woman is like that of a dry bent stick. It will crack if you try to straighten it, but you will benefit from it if you leave it as it is.”(1)
Therefore, there is no use in being harsh with your wife. Nothing can be gained but misery and bitterness. The most important issue that a man should realize in life is that his wife is his life-partner. She is neither his slave, nor his housemaid. Therefore, from the viewpoint of religious jurisprudence, a man does not have the right to force his wife to work, or to take the results of her efforts in his own possession. More importantly, he should realize that he must help his spouse. Our Immaculate Leaders have outlined many rewards for men who help their wives. We will mention a few here.
God's Prophet told Ali :
إسمَعْ مِنّي يا أبا الحَسَنِ! ومَا أقولُ إلاّ مِن أمْرِ رَبّي: ما مِنْ رَجُلٍ يُعينُ امْرأتَهُ في بَيْتِها إلاّ كانَ لهُ بِكُلِّ شَعْرَةٍ علَى بَدَنِهِ عِبادَةُ سَنَةٍ صِيامُ نَهارِها وقِيامُ لَيلِها وأعْطاهُ اللهُ مِن الثَّوابِ مِثْلَ ما أعْطى الصّابِرينَ وَداوُدَ وَيَعقوبَ وَعِيسى عَلَيهمُ السّلامُ.
“O father of Hasan! Listen to me. I will not tell you anything but what my Lord commands. God will establish the reward of as many years of fasting in the daytime and staying up at night to pray, as there are hairs on one’s
body for helping his wife with the housework. The reward will be similar to what He has granted to the patient ones and the Prophet David , Jacob and Jesus .” (1)
Surely, this reward will encourage believing men to help their wives, and abstain from being forceful and bossy.
God's Prophet said:
يا عَليُّ! مَن كانَ في خِدمَةِ العِيالِ في البَيتِ وَلَمْ يأنَفْ كَتَبَ اللهُ اسْمَهُ في دِيوانِ الشُّهَداءِ وَكَتَبَ لهُ بِكُلِّ يَومٍ وَلَيلَةٍ ثَوابَ ألفِ شَهيدٍ وَكَتَبَ لهُ بِكُلِّ قَدَمٍ ثَوابَ حِجَّةٍ وَعُمْرَةٍ وَأعْطاه ُاللهُ بِكُلِّ عِرْقٍ في جَسَدِه مَدِينَةً في الجَنَّةِ.
“O Ali! God will record in the book of the martyrs the name of whoever serves his family at home, and does not disdain it. God will establish the reward of one thousand martyrs for each day and night, and will grant him the reward of the pilgrimage to the Holy House of God for every step he takes in this regard. God will reward him with a city in Heaven for every vein in his body.”(2)
God's Prophet said:
يا عَلِيُّ! خِدمَةُ العِيالِ كَفّارَةٌ لِلكَبائِرِ وَتُطْفِيءُ غَضَبَ الرَّبِّ وَمُهورُ الحُورِ العِينِ وَتَزيدُ في الحَسَناتِ والدَّرَجاتِ.
“O Ali! Serving the family is considered to be expiation for major sins. It will quench the Lord's wrath, and be considered as the nuptial gift for the ‘Houris’. It will be a cause of raised ranks, and increased, recorded good-deeds.”(3)
God's Prophet said:
مَن ضَرَبَ امْرَأةً بِغَيرِ حَقٍّ فأنا خَصْمُهُ يَومَ القِيامَةِ. لا تَضْرِبوا نِسائَكُم، فَمَنْ ضَرَبَها بِغَيرِ حَقٍّ فَقَد عَصى اللهَ وَرَسُولَهُ.
“On the Resurrection Day I am
the enemy of any man who unduly beats his wife. Do not beat your wives. Thus whoever unduly beats his wife has surely disobeyed God and His Prophet.”(1)
God's Prophet said:
لَيسَ مِنّا مَن وُسِعَ عَلَيهِ ثُمَّ قَتَرَ عَلى عِيالِهِ.
“Whoever is affluent but is stingy with his wife does not belong to our nation.”(2)
It has been narrated that Imam Sajjad said:
أرْضاكُم عِندَ اللهِ أوْسَعُكُم عَلى عِيالِهِ.
“Whoever provides most amply for his family will be the most pleasing one near God.”(3)
Imam Ridha said:
يَنْبَغي لِلرَّجُلِ أنْ يُوسِعَ عَلى عِيالِهِ لِئَلاّ يَتَمَنَّوا مَوتَهُ.
“A man should provide abundant provision for his family so that they do not wish for his death.”(4)
So far we discussed how men should be kind to their wives, not bother or hurt them; not be strict with them, but help them. Now let us see what Islam instructs women to do to counter men's services, and what role women should play in life.
Al-Hasan ibn Mahboob quoted on the authority of Malik ibn Atiyeh on the authority of Muhammad ibn Muslim on the authority of Imam Baqir that once a woman went to the Prophet of God and asked: “O' Prophet of God! What is the right of a man incumbent upon the woman?” The Prophet replied:
أنْ تُطِيعَهُ وَلا تَعْصِيَهُ، وَلا تَصَدَّقَ مِن بَيْتِهِ إلّا بإذْنِه، وَلا تَصُومَ طَوعاً إلّا بإذْنِه، ولا تَمْنَعَهُ نَفْسَها وإنْ كانَتْ عَلى ظَهْرِ قَتَبٍ، وَلا تَخْرُجَ مِن بَيْتِها إلاّ بِإذْنِه، وإِنْ خَرَجَتْ بِغَيرِ إذْنِه لَعَنَتْها مَلائِكَةُ السَّماءِ وَمَلائِكَةُ الأرْضِ وَمَلائِكَةُ الغَضَبِ وَمَلائِكَةُ الرَّحمَةِ حَتىّ تَرْجِعَ إلى بيتِها.
رَسُولَ اللهِ مَن أعْظَمُ النّاسِ حَقّاً عَلى الرَّجُلِ؟ قال: والِداهُ. قالَت: فَمَنْ أعْظَمُ النّاسِ حَقّاً عَلى المَرْأةِ؟ قالَ: زَوْجُها.
قَالَت: فَما لي عَلَيهِ مِن الحَقِّ مِثْلُ مَا لهُ عَلَيَّ؟ قال: وَلا مِن كُلِّ مِائَةٍ واحِدَةٌ.
فَقالَت: وَالَّذِي بَعَثَكَ بِالحَقِّ لا يَمْلِكُ رَقَبَتي رَجُلٌ أبَداً.
“She should obey him, and not rebel against him. She should not give away anything from his house as charity unless by his permission. She should not fast when not required to do so unless by his permission. She should not withdraw herself from him even if they are riding a camel. She should not leave the house without his permission. Should she ever leave the house without his permission, she will be cursed by the angels in the heavens and on the Earth, and the angels of wrath and mercy until she returns home.”
The woman asked: “O' Prophet of God! Who has the most rights over a man?” He said: “His parents.” She asked: “Who has the most rights over a woman?” He said: “Her husband.” She asked: “Do I have the same rights over him that he has over me?” The Prophet said: “No. Not even one one-hundredth.” Then she said: “I swear by the One who rightfully appointed you to Prophethood that no man will ever own me.”(1)
The Prophet said:
حَقُّ الرَّجُلِ عَلى المَرأةِ إنارَةُ السِّراجِ وَإصْلاحُ الطَّعامِ وأنْ تَسْتَقْبِلَهُ عِندَ بابِ بَيْتِها فَتُرَحِّبَ بِهِ وأنْ تُقَدِّمَ إلَيهِ الطَّشْتَ وَالمِنْدِيلَ وأنْ تُوَضِّئَهُ وأنْ لا تَمْنَعَهُ نَفْسَها إلاّ مِن عِلَّةٍ.
“The right of the man over his wife is
that she should turn on the light, prepare the food, and rush to warmly welcome him when he comes home. She should take him some water and a towel, wash his hands and not withdraw herself from him unless she has an excuse.”(1)
The Prophet said:
لا تُؤَدّي المَرْأةُ حَقَّ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ حَتىّ تُؤَدِّيَ حَقَّ زَوجِها.
“A woman has not fulfilled God's rights unless she properly fulfills her husband’s rights.”(2)
Imam Sadiq said:
أيُّما امْرَأةٍ بَاتَتْ وَزَوْجُها عَلَيها ساخِطٌ في حَقٍّ لَمْ تُقْبَلْ مِنْها صَلاةٌ حَتىّ يَرضَى عَنهَا.
“The prayers of a woman who passes a night while her husband is unhappy with her regarding his rights, will not be accepted until he is pleased with her.”(3)
Imam Baqir has been narrated to have said:
إنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ كَتَبَ عَلى الرِّجالِ الجِهادَ وَعَلى النِّساءِ الجِهادَ؛ فَجِهادُ الرَّجُلِ أنْ يَبْذُلَ مَالَهُ وَدَمَهُ حَتىّ يُقْتَلَ في سَبِيلِ اللهِ، وَجِهادُ المَرأةِ أنْ تَصْبِرَ عَلى ما تَرى مِن أذَى زَوجِها وَغَيْرَتِهِ.
“God, the Almighty has decreed holy war for both men and women. The holy war for men is to expend their property and their blood until they attain martyrdom in the way of God. A woman's holy war is to be patient with troubles she experiences from her husband and his jealousy.”(4)
Imam Baqir has considered the house to be the front in this tradition. The soldiers who fight in this front are the women. The most important weapon they use in this war is their patience. The swords and the spears are the troubles she experiences from her husband. The
woman should not escape from this front. She should withstand all this with patience and perseverance until her life terminates with a good ending.
Many of the women who have not been properly educated in this respect, and are inexperienced may lose the war, abandon their house, and deprive their dear children of maternal love. Thus, they choose eternal bitterness for themselves, their husband and their children. On the other hand, there are some patient women who diligently guide the vessel of life through the stormy waves of their husbands’ wrath, zeal and bothering until they settle down, and attain victory and prosperity for themselves and their children.
Imam Sadiq has admonished women not to make up for men other than their husband. He said:
أيُّما امْرَأةٍ تَطَيَّبَتْ لِغَيْرِ زَوجِها لَمْ يُقْبَلْ مِنها صَلاةٌ حَتىّ تَغْتَسِلَ مِن طِيبِها كَغَسْلِها مِن جَنابَتِها.
“God will not accept the prayers of any woman who puts on perfume for a man other than her husband until she bathes from her (having applied) perfume just as she bathes after intercourse.”(1)
Regarding the woman's gratefulness for her husband's efforts, Imam Sadiq said:
أيُّما امْرَأةٍ قَالتْ لِزَوْجِها: ما رَأيْتُ مِنكَ خَيراً قَطُّ، فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُها.
“The good deeds of any woman who tells her husband that she has never seen any good from him during her life will be cancelled, and wiped off from her record of deeds.”(2)
We briefly discussed the rights of men and women. If the men and women abide by these rules in the Islamic society, they shall have a sweet
and prosperous life. There is a delicate point in a verse in the Holy Qur’an:
أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَى نِسَآئِكُمْ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ
“Permitted to you, on the night of the fast is the approach to your wives. They are your garments, and ye are their garments.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:187]
This is a beautiful point. The husband and wife are like garments for each other. Garments are used for coverage, tranquility, and the protection and beauty of the body. Couples cover up each other's faults, and are a means of each other's comfort and tranquility, too. This coverage encompasses all aspects of their life.
They are supposed to cover up each other's faults. They are not supposed to talk about each other's bad temper with other people. They should not divulge their private secrets. They should respect each other. As we said before while discussing the previous traditions, they should not accuse each other, since then they will both be subject to destruction.
They should be patient and withstand each other's bad temper, so that God grants them the great promised rewards. The husband and wife are great blessings for each other as Imam Sajjad said. They should share the sweet moments of life as well as its hardships. They should possess a high spirit and ambition so that their children grow up to be eminent people. Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of the Noble Prophet of God :
قَولُ الرَّجُلِ لِلمَرْأةِ إنِّي أُحِبُّكِ لا يَذْهَبُ مِن قَلْبِكَ
“The words of a man who tells his wife ‘I love you’ will never leave her heart and mind.”(1)
This will cause the wife to love her husband and be his support during times of hardship.
حق الرعية بملك اليمين
وَأمَّا حَقُّ رَعِيَّتِكَ بمِلْكِ اليَمِينِ فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أنَهُ خَلْقُ رَبكَ، وَلَحْمُكَ وَدَمُكَ وَأَنَّكَ تَمْلِكُهُ لا أنْتَ صَنَعْتَهُ دُونَ اللَّهِ وَلا خَلَقْتَ لَهُ سَمْعًا وَلا بَصَرًا وَلا أَجْرَيتَ لَهُ رِزْقًا وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ كَفَاكَ ذَلِكَ، ثُمَّ سَخَّرَهُ لَكَ وَائْتَمَنَكَ عَلَيْهِ وَاسْتَوْدَعَكَ إيَّاهُ لِتَحْفَظَهُ فِيهِ وتَسِيرَ فِيهِ بسِيرَتِهِ فَتُطْعِمَهُ مِمَّا تَأْكُلُ وَتُلْبسَهُ مِمَّا تَلْبَسُ وَلا تُكَلِّفَهُ مَا لا يُطِيقُ، فَإنْ كَرِهْتَ[هُ] خَرَجْتَ إلَى اللَّهِ مِنْهُ وَاسْتَبْدَلْتَ بهِ وَلَمْ تُعَذِّبْ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا باللهِ.
And the right of your subject through being your slave is that you should know that he is a creature of your Lord and is made of the same flesh and blood as you. And you only own him, but you have not created him apart from God. And you have not created his hearing and sight, nor do you provide his daily sustenance; rather it is God who gives you sufficiency for that.
Then He subjugated him to you, entrusted him to you, and provisionally consigned him to you so that you may protect him there,(2) and treat him as well as He has treated you. So feed him with what you eat yourself, and clothe him with what you clothe yourself. And do not burden him with what he cannot withstand. And if you dislike him, you ought
to let him go and replace him, but do not torment God’s creature. And there is no power but in God.
We discussed what Imam Sajjad presented about the right of the trainer through ownership earlier in Chapter 17. In this chapter, we shall discuss the right of the slaves. There we stated that at the beginning Islam accepted the issue of slavery and did not issue a decree as to the slaves’ freedom all at once since it was not economically feasible. However, since the issue of slavery was unavoidable at first, Islam established certain rights for slaves, and advised the Muslims to wholeheartedly honor their rights.
1 - Islam eliminated the distinctions between the master and the slave, and it declared all equal. The Noble Prophet Muhammad said:
إخْوانُكُم جَعَلَهُمُ اللهُ فِتْنَةً تَحتَ أيْديكُم فَمَن كانَ أخُوهُ تَحتَ يَدِهِ فَلْيُطْعِمْهُ مِن طَعامِهِ وَلْيُلْبِسْهُ مِن لِباسِهِ وَلا يُكَلِّفْهُ مَا يَغْلِبُهُ فإنْ كَلَّفَهُ ما يَغْلِبُهُ فَلْيُعِنْهُ.
“Your slaves are your brothers. God has set them as a trial under your authority. Therefore whoever has mastery over one of his brothers should feed him from what he eats himself, and should clothe him with what he wears himself, and should not burden him with tasks beyond his strength, and should assist him in doing whatever hard work he asks him to do.”(1)
2 - The Prophet of Islam has honored slaves so much that he has not even allowed anyone to call them a slave or a maid:
لا يَقُلْ أَحَدُكُمْ: هَذا عَبْدي وَهَذِهِ أَمَتي. وَلْيَقُلْ: فَتايَ
“No one is allowed to say this is my slave or that is my maid. You should say this is my young man, and that is my young lady.”(1)
3 So much was done to improve the conditions of slaves in Islam, and they were so honored so much that no one dared beat his slave lest he would be recognized as the worst person in the world. This was done so that no one can beat someone else just because he is a slave, so that no one can hurt one of the servants of God nor oppress them. Imam Sadiq quoted on the authority of God’s Prophet : “Do you want me to tell you who the worst people are?” The companions said: “Yes. O Prophet of God!” Then the Prophet said:
مَنْ سَافَرَ وَحْدَهُ وَمَنَعَ رِفْدَهُ وَضَرَبَ عَبْدَهُ.
“Those who travel alone, do not admit guests, and beat their slaves.”(2)
You can see from this tradition that the Prophet has introduced those who beat or hurt their slaves as the worst of the people.
Once Imam Ali went to the bazaar and purchased two garments. He bought one for two Dirhams and the other one for three Dirhams. He donated the one he had bought for three Dirhams to his slave Qanbar and took the other one for himself. His slave said: “You are the Commander of the Faithful. You climb up the pulpit and deliver sermons to the people. You deserve more to wear the more expensive garment.” Imam Ali replied:
“I am ashamed to seek superiority over you in this respect. I heard God’s Prophet say:
ألْبِسُوهُم ِممّا تَلْبَسُونَ وَأطْعِمُوهُم ممّا تأكُلونَ.
“Clothe them with what you wear yourselves, and feed them with what you eat.”(1)
The Prophet of Islam said:
“Your slaves are your brothers. Treat them with kindness. Seek their help in performing your hard tasks, and help them in the performance of difficult tasks.” (2)
He also said:
أوْصانِي حَبِيبي جِبْرَئيلُ بِالرِّفْقِ بِالرَّقيقِ حَتىّ ظَنَنْتُ أنَّهُ سَيَضرِبُ لهُ أجَلاً يَخْرُجُ فِيهِ حُرّاً.
“My friend Gabriel advised me about treating my slaves with gentleness so much that I thought he would soon establish a deadline for freeing them.”(3)
Abu-Dharr al-Ghifari owned two long expensive togas with which he covered himself. After a while, he used one of them to make himself a garment. He used to wear a cloak on top of that. He donated the other one to his slave. When the people found out, they blamed him and said: “You would have looked more handsome if you used both togas to make an attire for yourself.”
Abu-Dharr replied: “But I heard the Prophet of Islam say: “Clothe your slaves with what you wear yourselves, and feed them with the same with which you feed yourselves.(4) Once the Prophet of Islam noticed a man was riding while his slave was walking behind him. The Prophet said: “Let your slave ride with you since he is your brother. His spirit is similar to your spirit.”(5)
Yaser and Nader were both slaves of Imam Ridha . They said that
Imam Ridha told them: “Whenever you see me while you are sitting down and eating, do not move until you finish your meal.”(1)
Once Imam Sadiq asked one of his slaves to go and do something. He went, and did not return on time. The Imam went after him, and found him asleep. He sat there and waited until he woke up. Then Imam Sadiq faced him and said: “O man! Why do you sleep both at night and during the daytime? The night is for you to rest, and the day is for you to struggle to fulfill your needs.”(2) The few examples above are only cited to illustrate how the Immaculate Imams treated their slaves and how much they honored them and respected them.
The Prophet of Islam did a lot to raise the status of the slaves. As an example, he made a pledge of brotherhood for slaves such as Bilal al-Habashi (the Abyssinian), Zayd ibn Harithe and Kharizat ibn Zayd with free Muslims such as Khalid ibn Rowayhe Khasami, Hamza ibn Abi Talib and Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhafah. He also married off many of the women from noble families to the slaves. He first married off his own aunt’s first daughter named Zaynab, the daughter of Jahsh to the slave named Zayd ibn Harithe.
Then he married off the daughter of the head of the Bani Bayazeh tribe - the daughter of Zeyad ibn Lobayd to Jowbayr. In addition to this, he appointed Usama ibn Zayd (the son
of a slave) to be the head of the Islamic armed forces and go to Syria to fight with the Roman enemies. This he did even though there were many brave free men such as Umar, Abu Bakr, and others from among the immigrants(1) and the helpers(2) available to fill that position.
So far, we have expressed the importance of the rights of the slaves as expressed by the Noble Prophet of Islam and the Immaculate Imams . Now we shall discuss the rewards for freeing slaves. We have already discussed the rights of the trainer through ownership, and the issue related to free slaves. There is a section in Wasa`il al-Shī`ah by Sheikh Toosi called “Kitab ul-‘Itq”. In the first chapter of this section called “Bab ul-Estehbabeh” there are many traditions regarding the rewards for freeing slaves. We will mention a few of them here.
In the first tradition in this chapter we read: “Muhammad ibn al-Husayn quoted on the authority of al-Husayn ibn al-Sa’ed on the authority of Abi Abdullah Ja’far ibn Muhammad :
يَعتِقُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بِكُلِّ عُضْوٍ مِنهُ عُضْواً مِن النّارِ.
“God the Exalted the High will save whoever frees his slave from the Fire. For every organ that he frees, God will save one of his organs from the Fire.”(3)
In the fourth tradition in this chapter we read: “Husayn ibn Muhammad quoted on the authority of al-Hasan ibn Ali on the authority of his grandfathers on the authority of Bashir an-Nab’bal that he heard Imam Sadiq say:
نَسَمَةً صالِحَةً لِوجْهِ اللهِ كَفَّرَ اللهُ عَنهُ مَكانَ كُلِّ عُضْوٍ مِنهُ عُضْواً مِن النّارِ.
“God will forgive whoever frees a good servant of God for God’s sake. God will save his organs from the Fire (of Hell) - an organ will be saved for each organ freed.”(1)
In the sixth tradition of this chapter, Imam Sadiq has been quoted as saying: “The Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali freed one thousand slaves using money he earned with his own hard work.” In the second chapter of this section, it has been stated that it is recommended to free slaves on the evening of the day of ‘Arafah. Two traditions from Imam Sadiq have been narrated to support this. The first one is:
يُسْتَحَبُّ لِلرَّجُلِ أنْ يَتَقَرَّبَ إلى اللهِ عَشِيَّةَ عَرَفَةَ وَيَوْمَ عَرَفَةَ بِالعِتْقِ والصَّدَقَةِ.
“It is recommended for man to seek proximity to God on the day and evening of ‘Arafah by freeing slaves and giving charity.”(2)
Thus from what we have described one can better comprehend the depth of the meaningful words of Imam Sajjad regarding slaves. Therefore, we should treat them as the Noble Prophet and the Immaculate Imams did.
فَحَقُّ أُمِّكَ، فَأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنَّهَا حَمَلَتكَ حَيْثُ لا يَحْمِلُ أَحَدٌ أَحَدًا وَأَطْعَمَتكَ مِنْ ثَمَرَةِ قَلْبها مَا لا يُطْعِمُ أَحَدٌ أَحَدًا، وَأَنَّهَا وَقَتكَ بسَمْعِهَا وبَصَرِهَا ويَدِهَا وَرِجْلها وَشَعْرِهَا وبَشَرِهَا وَجَمِيعِ جَوَارِحِهَا مُسْتَبشِرَةً بذَلِكَ، فَرِحَةً مُوَابلَةً، مُحْتَمِلَةً لِمَا فِيهِ مَكْرُوهُها وأَلَمُها وثِقْلُها وَغَمُّهَا حَتَّى دَفَعَتهَا عَنْكَ يَدُ القُدْرَةِ وَأَخرَجَتكَ إلَى الأَرضِ فَرَضِيَتْ أَنْ تَشْبَعَ وتجوعُ هِيَ، وَتَكْسُوكَ وَتعْرَى، وَتُرْوِيكَ وَتَظْمَأُ،
وَتُظِلُّكَ وتَضْحَى، وَتُنَعِّمَكَ ببُؤْسِهَا، وَتُلَذِّذُكَ بالنَّوْمِ بأَرَقِهَا، وَكَانَ بَطْنُهَا لَكَ وِعَاءً، وَحِجْرُهَا لَكَ حِوَاءً، وثَدْيُهَا لَكَ سِقَاءً، ونَفْسُهَا لَكَ وِقَاءً، تُبَاشِرُ حَرَّ الدُّنيَا وبَرْدِهَا لَكَ وَدُونَكَ، فَتَشْكُرَهَا عَلَى قَدْرِ ذَلِكَ وَلا تَقْدِرُ عَلَيْهِ إلاّ بعَونِ اللَّهِ وَتَوفِيقِهِ.
Then the right of your mother is that you should know that she carried you where no one carries anyone, and she fed you with the fruit of her heart - that which no one feeds anyone, and she protected you with her hearing and sight, and her hands and legs, and her hair and skin and all her other organs. She was highly delighted to do so. She was happy and eager, enduring the harm and the pains, and the heaviness and the grief until the Mighty Hand expelled you out of her and delivered you out to the Earth.
She did not care if she went hungry as long as you ate, and if she was naked as long as you were clothed, and if she was thirsty as long as you drank, and if she was in the sun as long as you were in the shade, and if she was miserable as long as you were happy, and if she was deprived of sleeping as long as you were resting. And her abdomen was your abode, and her lap was your seat, and her breast was your supply of drink, and her soul was your fort. She protected you from the heat and the cold of this world. Then you should
thank her for all that. You will not be able to show her gratitude unless through God's help and His granting you success.
The Arabic word ‘Umm’ that is used for mother really means the root and the foundation. It is so widely used to mean mother that its other meanings are overshadowed.
One of the uses of ‘Umm’ in the Qur’an is to refer to a real mother as in the following verse:
وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى أُمِّ مُوسَى أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِي وَلَا تَحْزَنِي إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
“So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: "Suckle (thy child)…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qasas 28:7]
The second use of ‘Umm’ in the Qur’an is to refer to its basic meaning of root and foundation as in the following verse:
هُوَ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ
“He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical.”[The Holy Qur’an, Al-i-Imran 3:7]
The third use of the word ‘Umm’ in the Qur’an is to refer to the greatest of several things or the central one as in the following verse:
لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَى وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا
“…that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities(1) and all around her(2)…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Shura 42:7]
Mecca was the central town in Arabia like the capital cities in the world today. Others say that Mecca is called the mother of cities because
the Earth started to expand starting from there, and that Mecca is the first spot created and the first piece of dry land on the Earth. The wives of the Prophet are also considered the mothers of the believers in the Qur’an as we read in the following verse:
النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ
“The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ahzab 33:6]
Considering the various meanings mentioned above one can better understand the importance of the rights of the mother.
Now that we have reviewed the meanings of the word ‘Umm’ in Arabic we will consider the various important points that Imam Sajjad expressed regarding the rights of the mother. Imam Sajjad starts his discussion with pregnancy and describes how a mother suffers the hardships of the period of pregnancy and the pains of labor.
This is the type of hardship that no one else is ready to suffer for our sake. This point is clearly stressed in the Holy Qur’an in the following verse:
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَى وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to
his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favor, which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam."[The Holy Qur’an, al-Ahqaf 46:15]
Moreover, in another verse we read:
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ
“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.”[The Holy Qur’an, Luqman 31:14]
The period of pregnancy is one of the most difficult times of a mother’s life. She has to put up with many hardships from the time that she gets pregnant. She has to give a lot of her own energy to the fetus that is growing inside her. That is why she gets weak and develops many problems during pregnancy.
As the fetus grows it draws more and more of the materials from the mother’s body. It even affects her bones and her nerves. At times, it even does not let her rest, eat or sleep. Near
the end of the period of pregnancy when the baby has grown, it even becomes difficult for the mother to sit up or stand up. However, the mother suffers all these difficulties due to the love she has for the baby that will soon be born: the baby that will smile at his mother once it is born.
Delivery is one of the hardest to bear periods of a mother’s life. There are even mothers who lose their precious life during delivery. A mother is like a carrier who is delivering the most important package with which she is entrusted. She must safely deliver the baby. That is why she must take all necessary precautions to safely deliver her baby. She must be very careful about what she eats, how she moves, where she rests, and her hygiene during the full period of pregnancy.
The duration of the trip for the package that a mother carries is nine months and no less. She must be careful that it is not harmed before reaching its destination. The baby might be harmed at any moment. The baby does not have a spirit until it reaches nearly the age of four months and ten days. Then the baby will push and the mother will be hurt, but she will thank God for her baby being alive. After a long period of hardship and suffering, the baby is born and a new period of life begins for the mother.
During the period of breast-feeding, the mother must
spend all her days and nights to fulfill all the needs of the baby. The baby cannot talk during this period. He cannot tell where he is feeling pain. His only language is that of crying, and the mother must recognize all he needs through his crying. The cleansing of the baby is another very difficult task in this period. The mother must also take care of the baby during times of illness.
The Qur’an states that the period of breast-feeding is two years as in the following verse:
وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلاَدَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ
“The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term…” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:233]
In another verse, the full period of pregnancy and breast-feeding is said to be thirty months:
وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا
The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months." [The Holy Qur’an, al-Ahqaf 46:15]
Once we subtract 24 from 30, we get 6. Could the period of pregnancy end after six months? The jurisprudents and interpreters of the Qur’an have stated that the minimum period of pregnancy is six months, and the maximum period of breast-feeding is twenty-four months. It has been recorded that some children have been born after six months of pregnancy. We can also conclude that the sooner the baby is born, the longer it must be breast-fed so that this thirty-month period of development is completed.
Ibn `Abbas has been narrated as saying that whenever
a pregnancy lasts for 9 months, the mother should breast-feed the baby for 21 months. However, if the pregnancy lasts for 6 months, then the mother should breast-feed the baby for at least 24 months.(1) This is also supported by natural laws since the shortcomings of the period of pregnancy must be compensated for during the period of breast-feeding. Therefore, we notice that a mother performs great sacrifices for her baby during the periods of pregnancy and breast-feeding.
These sacrifices are both physical and emotional. It is interesting to note that the Qur’anic verse Ahqaf 46:15 stresses kindness to both parents, but goes on to mention the sufferings of the mother and the hardships she has to go through on one’s behalf. This is to awaken us, and to make us realize her great rights incumbent upon us. Then it recommends that we thank God and both our parents who are the means by which God’s blessings are delivered to us.
In the verses cited above, we were instructed to be kind to both of our parents. Which of the parents has a greater share in the development of the child? The Qur’an has given a greater share to the mother due to her efforts and role during the period of pregnancy and breast-feeding. Once the sperm unites with the egg to form the initial fetus, the parents have an equal share in the development of the child. However, the mother feeds the fetus in the uterus and carries the baby until
she delivers it.
Thus, she has a greater share in the development of the baby. Alexis Carl said: “Both parents have an equal share in the initial development of the cells from which other cells are constructed through successive divisions. However, in addition to providing half of the cell, the mother provides for the protoplasm that encompasses the cell. Thus, she has a greater share in the development of the fetus compared to the father. The man’s duty in the development of the fetus is for a short time. However, the mother supports the fetus for nearly nine months during which it is fed by blood delivered to it from the mother’s uterus.(1)
The fetus is like a part of the mother when it is in her uterus. All the physical and psychological states of the mother affect the child. The mother’s physical state and what she eats all affect the child. Likewise, her thoughts and temper also affect the child. Should the mother get scared during pregnancy she will get pale. However, the fetus will be more seriously hurt. In Ea’jaze Khorakiha we read: “If a pregnant woman gets so scared that she gets pale and shivers, then there will be certain marks on the child’s skin.”(2) A mother’s sadness, anger, getting upset, getting suspicious, getting envious, her animosities and other bad or good traits will affect the child.” (3)
Consider the following verse of the Qur’an:
وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلاَدَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ وَعلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ
لاَ تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا لاَ تُضَآرَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلاَ مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُ بِوَلَدِهِ وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَلِكَ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالاً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمْ أَن تَسْتَرْضِعُواْ أَوْلاَدَكُمْ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُم مَّا آتَيْتُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
“The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child.
Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear God and know that God sees well what ye do.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Baqarah 2:233]
In this verse the Qur’anic instructions about breast-feeding are outlined. We can summarize them as follows:
1 The right to breast-feed for two years belongs to the mother. It is the mother who takes care of the baby. Although the father has the right of authority over small children, the Qur’an has given the right of breast-feeding to the mother since breast-feeding establishes physical and emotional ties between
the child and the mother. In short, “the mother shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years….”
2 The period of breast-feeding does not have to be two whole years unless the father desires to complete the term considering the child’s health. If the mother wants to reduce that period, she can breast-feed for a shorter time.
3 During the breast-feeding period, all the living expenses of the mother including food and clothing are to be paid for by the father of the child even if they get divorced, so that the mother can breast-feed the baby without any worries.
4 Neither the father nor the mother has the right to sacrifice the children’s life in order to resolve their own differences. This would impart an irreversible psychological blow to the child. Men should be careful not to violate the mother’s right to breast-feed their child by taking the baby away during that period. Mothers who are granted this right should not abuse it either.
5 If the father dies during the period of breast-feeding, his inheritors should provide for the living expenses of the breast-feeding mother.
6 It is up to both parents to mutually agree to stop breast-feeding the child whenever they think it proper to do so based on the child’s physical conditions.
7 We can never take away the mother’s right to breast-feed her child unless she refuses to do so herself or there is a problem with her breast-feeding the baby. In such a case, we can hire another
woman to breast-feed the child- partially or fully.(1) Thus, we see that breast-feeding is the right of the mother. Now let us see how milk is produced in her body.
Consider the following verse:
وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ فِي الأَنْعَامِ لَعِبْرَةً نُّسْقِيكُم مِّمَّا فِي بُطُونِهِ مِن بَيْنِ فَرْثٍ وَدَمٍ لَّبَنًا خَالِصًا سَآئِغًا لِلشَّارِبِينَ
“And verily in cattle (too) will ye find an instructive sign. From what is within their bodies between excretions and blood, We produce, for your drink, milk, pure and agreeable to those who drink it.” [The Holy Qur’an, al-Naĥl 16:66]
As this verse states milk is produced from what is within the body between excretions and blood. It has been proven that when food is digested in the stomach and is ready to be absorbed it is spread across a very large surface in the stomach and the intestines where there are millions of tiny veins that extract the useful substances from it. This is absorbed by a sophisticated tree-like structure that starts at the nipples. When the mother eats food, her body extracts its nutrients and delivers it through this network to the fetus in the mother’s uterus.
Once the baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut, food can no longer reach it this way. However, the same network directs it towards the nipples. New processing steps are carried out by the mammary glands and a new product called milk is produced for the baby. Milk is something in between excretions and blood. The glands in the breasts use the amino
acids stored in the body to build the needed proteins. Some of the nutrients in milk do not exist in blood. They are produced in the glands(1) in the breast.
Other nutrients like salt, phosphates, and vitamins enter the milk directly from the blood. Other nutrients like lactose are derived from the blood, but the breasts considerably process them. As you can see milk production is the result of absorption of food nutrients in the blood and its direct contact with the breasts. However, milk does not look like blood nor does it smell like the excretions. Scientists have stated that at least five hundred litres of blood must circulate through the breasts in order to produce one liter of milk.
To produce one litre of blood a lot of food has to go through the intestines.(2) Milk nutrients include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, phosphorous, chlorine, iodine, and sulphate as well as oxygen, nitrogen and carbonic acid. It also contains sugar in the form of lactose. Milk has B, P, A and D vitamins.(3) That is why the Prophet said:
لَيسَ يُجْزِي مَكانَ الطَّعامِ وَالشَّرابِ إلاّ اللَّبَنَ.
“The only thing that can be substituted for food and water is milk.”(4)
Milk is a pure and delicious form of food that is suitable for people of all ages. That is why people who get ill are instructed to drink milk. Milk is very effective in the growth of bones and is recommended in case of bone injuries. It may be that the Qur’anic
reference to the purity of milk refers to its ability in speeding up bone growth. This is also understood from the jurisprudents’ decrees on breast-feeding.
They say: “If a child is breast-fed by some lady and his bones get strong and he gets chubby then he becomes familiar to her.” They also say: “Fifteen times of consecutive breast-feeding or even a full day and night of consecutive breast-feeding will cause this familiar state.” It can be concluded that even a full day and night period of breast-feeding can result in the strengthening of bones and the growth of the body.(1)
It should also be said that breast-feeding the newly-born with the initial milk produced in the mother’s breast is extremely important. In books on Islamic jurisprudence we read: “The life of the child depends on this. For this reason it is considered to be an obligatory act to feed the baby with the initial milk produced in the breast right after it is born.”(2) It is perhaps for this reason that it was revealed to the mother of Moses to breast-feed him before putting him in the river as we read in the following verse:
وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى أُمِّ مُوسَى أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ
So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: "Suckle (thy child), but when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river." [The Holy Qur’an, al-Qasas 28:7]
It is through the milk that many of the characteristics of the mother are transferred to the child.
Imam Ali hit Muhammad Hanifeh and said: “You have inherited fear from your mother.” The Prophet of God only drank his own mother’s milk and did not accept to be breast-fed by any other woman. Thus, we realize how important breast-feeding is in the development and growth of the child.
All of the mother’s time is spent caring for the child from the moment it is born. Even a moment of neglect of the child by the mother might result in the death of the child. The day and night caring of the child by the mother deprives her of the necessary rest that she needs herself. However, the natural love for the child makes all this bearable. This has been expressed by Imam Sajjad as “she was highly delighted to do so.”
Being loved is one of the essential needs of man. Once born the need for being loved is also born with us. We can say that the need for love ranks third after our need for food and water. Psychologists consider it one of the strongest psychological excitements.
Being loved is not just needed during childhood. Rather it is a need that lasts throughout our life cycle, but is fulfilled in various forms. We can see the manifestations of the need to be loved in children. When not paid enough attention, they hang onto their parents. When other children are loved, they get jealous. In adults, we see that women get jealous of other women who talk to their fiancés
or husbands. Young people compete with each other to attract someone to themselves.
Some psychologists believe that children have certain needs that are fulfilled with the sensation of warmth they feel when they are hugged or caressed. Should this need not be fulfilled, there will be bad consequences for the child. One of the scientists who believed in this said: “When children are born they should sleep with their mother and not be sent to a nursery since their need for the warmth of being hugged and caressed will not be fulfilled.”
Some psychologists even think that when for some reason a child’s mother cannot sleep with the child, she should have another mother take care of and caress the baby. That is why nurseries have been established.(1)
This question has been left unanswered since babies do not talk. However, a few experiments were conducted to discover the answer. In one study, several baby monkeys were given to a fake mother. The baby monkeys had the same reactions they had to their real mothers. The most acceptable fake mother for the baby monkeys was one constructed with a stick wrapped with sponge and rough material.
This one was preferred over another one that was not soft enough for the baby monkey to hug, but produced warm milk for the baby. In these experiments, it was noticed that whenever the baby monkeys faced a stressful situation, they ran to their fake mothers and hugged it. Can we conclude that children need the physical touch of
A mother prefers the life of the child over her own and even at times some mothers will sacrifice their own lives to save their babies. A mother can stand hardships but cannot stand to hear her baby cry. As Imam Sajjad said: “She did not care if she went hungry as long as you ate, and if she was naked as long as you were clothed…”
A mother loves her baby in two forms. One form is a sense of maternal love like not being able to stand the baby cry. However, she also has an intellectual love for the baby. She takes him to the doctor when he gets ill. The doctor might operate on the child. The mother knows that this operation will cause the child to bleed. She will cry but withstand the operation until the child is cured. If asked why, she would say that she prefers a little damage done to the child to receive the great benefit of becoming healthy.
The position of the mother is so lofty that the Prophet has advised us that in order to go to Heaven we must serve our mothers. This is similar to other traditions in which Heaven has been presented as being under the shade of the swords of those who fight in the way of God. Now let us look at a few traditions in this regard.(1) The Prophet of God said:
الجَنَّةُ تَحْتَ أقْدامِ الأُمَّهَاتِ.
“Heaven lies under the feet of mothers.”
Moses the son of Imran
asked God for advice three times. God advised him to His own pure Self for all those three times. However, Moses asked for more advice. God advised him regarding his mother twice and advised him regarding his father for the third time.
جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إلى النَّبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عَليهِ وَآلِهِ فَقَالَ: يا رَسُولَ الله،ِ مَن أبُرّ؟ قَالَ: أمَّكَ. قَالَ: ُثمَّ مَن؟ قال: أُمَّكَ. قال: ثُمَّ مَن؟ قالَ: أُمَّكَ. قالَ: ثُمَّ مَن؟ قال: أباكَ.
A man went to see the Prophet of God and said: “O Prophet of God! Whom shall I treat well?” He said: “Your mother.” The man asked: “Who else?” The Prophet said: “Your mother.” The man asked: “Who else?” Again, the Prophet said: “Your mother.” Again, the man asked: “Who else?” This time the Prophet said: “Your father.”
Thus, we can see that our mothers have a greater right incumbent upon us. We can say that the mother’s share is three times that of the father’s based on the above tradition. Even though the father pays for the expenses of the child, the mother has a greater role in the period of pregnancy, breast-feeding and upbringing of the child. The father just pays for the needs, but it is the mother who is always with the child and never leaves him alone and whole-heartedly attends to him.
A young man went to see the Prophet along with his mother. He wanted to go to the front but his mother would not let him do so. The Prophet said:
عِندَ أُمِّكَ قِرَّ وإنَّ
لَكَ مِن الأجْرِ عِندَها مِثلَ ما لَكَ في الجِهادِ.
“Be at the service of your mother since it is not any less of a service than going to the war front.”
وَأمَّا حَقُّ أَبيكَ فَتَعْلَمَ أنَّهُ أَصْلُكَ، وَأنَّكَ فَرْعُهُ، وَأَنَّكَ لَوْلاهُ لَمْ تَكُنْ. فَمَهْمَا رَأيْتَ فِي نفْسِكَ مِمَّا يُعْجِبُكَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ أَبَاكَ أَصْلُ النِّعْمَةِ عَلَيْكَ فِيهِ وَاحْمَدِ اللَّهَ وَاشْكُرْهُ عَلَى قَدْرِ ذَلِكَ وَلا قُوَّةَ إلاّ باللهِ.
And the right of your father is that you should know that he is your root and you are his branch. And without him, you would not be. Whenever you see anything in yourself which pleases you, you should know that your father is the root of its blessing upon you. So praise God and thank Him in recognition of that. And there is no power but in God.
Imam Sajjad points out the most fundamental cause-effect relationship between a father and his child. This scientific and philosophical principle states that the father is the root of the child, or the cause of the existence of the child. Were it not for the existence of the father, the child would not exist. The existence of the child is dependent on the existence of his father. This is manifested all over the world.
The Imam reminds the children of the importance of the existence of the father and explicitly declares that the father is the root and the children are like his branches. Thus, whatever is manifested in the child has its roots in the existence of
his father. Another important issue is that once a child is born he starts to grow up and continues his development while his father may have already completed his growth or be near its completion.
Therefore, it is always the cause that as the child is flourishing and becoming stronger day by day, his father is getting weaker every day. The child who realizes that he is getting stronger than his father might become too proud of himself. If he starts to feel superior to his father, he might forget to respect his father or even disrespect him. Imam Sajjad advises the children to remember that their father is the root of whatever excellent qualities they have whenever they feel this way.
This will help them overcome such sense of superiority over their father. Imam Sajjad also recommends the children to be grateful and recognize the blessings granted to them. Hence, they will be responsible children and fulfill all their duties regarding their father. This way they will also be saved from the harms they might experience in case their parents damn them.
At last, Imam Sajjad stresses that recognizing the blessings from our father, his rights and properly performing our duties regarding him is only possible through divine assistance, and we should ask God to help us in this respect. In the chapter on the rights of the mother, the Qur’anic verses stress that we should treat our parents with kindness. We will not reiterate those here again, and suffice to the
presentation of traditions related to respect for the father.
Muhammad ibn Yahya quoted on the authority of Ahmad ibn Esa on the authority of Hasan ibn Mahboob on the authority of Abi Val’lad Han’nat who asked Imam Sadiq regarding the meaning of the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
“…And that ye be kind to parents.” [The Holy Qur’an, Bani Israil 17:23]
Imam Sadiq said:
الإحْسانُ أنْ تُحْسِنَ صُحْبَتَهُما وأنْ لا تُكَلِّفَهُما أنْ يَسألاكَ شَيئاً مِمَّا يَحْتاجَانِ إلَيهِ وإنْ كانا مُسْتَغْنِيَيْنِ.
“Goodness (ihsan) is that you associate with them well and that you do not constrain them to ask you for what they need, even if they may be rich.”
Then Imam Sadiq mentioned the verse of Holy Qur’an that states that you cannot get any food unless you give in charity out of what you like. Then Imam Sadiq said:
وأمّا قول الله تبارك وتعالى: "إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرُ أَحَدُهُما أَوْ كِلاهُما فَلا تَقُلْ لَهُما أُفٍّ ولا تنهرهما “قال: إن أضجراك فلا تقل لهما أفٍّ ولا تنهرهما إن ضرباك وقال "وَقُلْ لَهُما قَوْلاً كَريما" قال: فإن ضرباك فقل لهما غَفَرَ الله لَكُما فذلك منك قولٌ كريمٌ، قال "وَاخْفِضْ لَهُما جَناحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ" قال: لا تَملأ عينيك مِن النظر إليهما إلاّ برحمةٍ ورِقّةٍ، ولا ترفع صوتك فَوقَ أصواتهما ولا يديك فَوقَ أيديهما، ولا تُقدم قُدّامهما.
As for the statement of God, the Blessed, the High: ‘Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them’ (17:23), the Imam said:”If they vex you, then