Islamic Teachings in Brief
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Forgiving.
This article, written in simple English, presents a summary of the teachings of Shia Islam; to provide some information for those who are not able to examine Islamic matters deeply.
Religion refers to the beliefs and series of practical and moral instructions that the Prophets have related on behalf of Allah to guide and lead human beings. Believing in these instructions and performing them; results to a human beings prosperity and happiness in this life and the life after death. So if we abide by religion and follow the orders of Allah and the Prophets (peace be upon them), we will become prosperous not only in this short life, but also in the everlasting and endless world after death.
We are aware that a happy and prosperous person is the one who has a true objective in his life and who does not live in misdeed and aberration. He possesses a good and praiseworthy demeanour and performs good deeds and has a confident, strong, and a peaceful heart in this turbulent world. The religion of Allah directs us towards this happiness and prosperity. Without religion, there would be no prosperity, hope and bliss. Religious tenets or faith are like secret police or tour guides of a human being that stays in his heart and always accompany him. They keep man away from moral wickedness or sin and force him to be virtuous and pious.
Belief is the strongest and most solid refuge in which a human being never confronts fear and anguish in the ups and downs of life. The worshippers of Allah never lose their courage in any circumstances and never feel disdain and inferior, because they see themselves connected to the infinite might of the Creator of the world and under all circumstances, they remember Allah and seek help from Allah; they possess a confident, strong, and peaceful heart.
Religion commands us to have a praiseworthy behaviour and to perform good and decent deeds as far as we can. Therefore, religion is divided into three parts:
(2) Ethics; and
If we use our commonsense and conscience, we realize that this world of existence with its wonderful order could not be created by itself and this astonishing order of the world of creation could not be achieved without an organizer. Undoubtedly, there is a Creator Who has created this vast and magnificent world with His infinite capability and knowledge and who has established the world of creation with exact order by the invariable and unchangeable rules that He has set up throughout the world of existence. Nothing has been created uselessly and extravagantly. No creature falls outside the purview of the laws of Allah that govern our world.
Can it be believed, that such a compassionate Allah with all the grace and blessings that he has towards His creatures would leave man, the masterpiece creation, on his own? And that He would leave human beings to their own wisdom and guidance which are mostly victim to carnal desires and is, as result, faced with aberration and misery? The reply to this question is self-evident.
Consequently, Allah must send instructions to human beings by Prophets – who are free from any kind of sin and error – to lead men to happiness and prosperity by following them. We realise that in this world, the signs and valuable benefits of adherence to religious principles do not become completely evident. Neither the righteous are rewarded, nor the criminals and oppressors are punished for their deeds instantly. From this, we understand another world must exist where people’s deeds are closely investigated, so that if a person had done a charitable act (out of his own wealth), he would be rewarded; or if he has committed an indecent deed, he would be punished or castigated. Religion encourages people with these tenets and other rightful beliefs, and warns them of paganism (disbelief) and ignorance.
Religion decrees that we adopt praiseworthy qualities in life, have a good nature, and accomplish ourselves with good and commendable attributes. We must be conscientious, benevolent, philanthropic, kind, faithful, good-natured, pleasing to meet, and just. We must defend our own rights and the rights of others. We must not transgress our own limits and rights; and should not encroach upon the property, reputation, and lives of people. In search of knowledge and civility, we must not spare any effort for self-sacrifice and self-denial whatsoever. Finally, we must have equality and moderation in all affairs of life.
Religion decrees that we perform acts that are beneficial to ourselves and to our society during our short life and refrain from acts that cause corruption and immorality. Religion also teaches us to engage in regular (Salah)/Prayers, observing (Sawm)/Fasting, and performing similar other duties which are signs of servitude and obedience towards Allah.
These are the laws and instructions the religion of Shia Islam offers and invites us to perform. As it is evident, some of them are doctrinal, others ethical, and some others practical. Acceptance and performance of these principles is the only means of happiness ad prosperity, because we are aware that a human being should be nothing but realistic and should live with good ethics and praiseworthy deeds that will be rewarded by Allah (The Allmighty).
Is it Necessary for a Human Being to Follow Shia Islam?
The foremost question that comes up here is “what is the relation of men’s lives with religion and piety?” Is it not possible for a human society to continue its humanitarian existence without religion and faith in Allah? Is it not that a religious person is one who proves Allah’s existence and performs specific acts for His satisfaction?
It is possible that in the society, according to the laws enacted by human beings, the duty of each member of the society determines the benefit and the loss. In this case, the laws of men replace religious laws and there will be no need for religion. But with little attention and deliberation on Islamic commandments and regulations, the opposite of this is proved, for Islam has not been concerned only with praying to and praising Allah, rather it has enacted comprehensive instructions and specific regulations for all individual and social positions of man. Islam has considered the vast world of humanity in an astonishing manner and has enacted suitable regulations in accordance with man’s individual and social actions and otherwise. Finally, Islam has provided and guaranteed the happiness and prosperity of the members of social community in every respect and to the maximum extent possible. Every just person acknowledges that the laws sprang from man’s limited thoughts and knowledge cannot equal those of religion. This power of the Almighty Allah has described the religion of Islam in the Holy Quran. As examples, we will cite few verses here:
“Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam, and those to whom the Book had been given did not show opposition but after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves: and whoever disbelieves in the communications of Allah then surely Allah is quick in reckoning (3:19).”
The religion towards which all prophets have invited people consists of theism and submission to Allah’s orders. Though the religious scholars specified right through wrong, they did not accept what was rightful due to their prejudice and animosity. Each scholar adopted a specific course of action; as a result, different religions came into existence on earth. In fact, this category of people did not believe in the Divine verses. Allah will soon retribute their deeds.
“And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him. and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers (3:85).”
“O you who believe! enter into submission one and all, and do not follow the footsteps of Shaytan (satan); surely he is your open enemy (2:208).”
“And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have made a covenant, and do not break the oaths after making them fast, and you have indeed made Allah a surety for you; surely Allah knows what you do (16:91).”
The purpose of this verse is to indicate that any Muslim who makes a promise to Allah or to people must keep it and must not breach it.
“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and have debates with them in the best manner; surely your Lord best knows those who go astray from His path, and He knows best those who follow the right way (16:125).”
This refers to the fact that to promote religion, a Muslim must converse with people according to their understanding and in a way that is beneficial to them. However, if he fails to guide a person through logic and advice then he must debate in the best manner, which is one of the means of proving something, to guide him towards truth.
“And when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and remain silent, that mercy may be shown to you (7:204).”
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Prophet and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Prophet, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day; this is better and very good in the end (4:59).”
This verse means that in an Islamic society, disputes can only be settled by the Qur’an and the ahadith of the Prophet (SA). Every difference must be settled by these two factors. If a Muslim settles differences by the logic of reason, this is due to the fact that the Qur’an has accepted the rule of logic.
“Thus, it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust (3:159).”
Good behaviour, benevolence, and taking counsel in the affairs result in fellowship and kindness. Members of the society must respect their leader to be influenced by him. Allah orders the honourable leader of the Muslims to be benevolent and to take counsel. But since it is possible that people may make mistakes in their decisions, Allah orders the leader to be independent in his decision after taking counsel and to have trust in Allah, because no one can oppose Allah’s will.
In like manner, the Almighty Allah introduces Judaism and Christianity with their Divine books of Tawrat (Old Testament) and the Injil (Bible) and their social precepts and provisions as:
“And how do they make you a judge and they have the Tawrat wherein is Allah’s judgement. .. Surely We revealed Tawrat in which was guidance and light; with it the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged (matters) for those who were Jews, and the masters of divine knowledge and the doctors… And We sent after them in their footsteps ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)… and We gave him the Injil in which was guidance and light, and verifying what was before it of Tawrat… And the followers of the Injil should have judged by what Allah revealed in it… And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, therefore judge between them by what Allah has revealed …(5:43 – 48).”
Tawrat and Injil which are now in the hands of the Jews and Christians emphasize this point, because the Tawrat contains many legal and judicial provisions and apparently the Injil confirms and certifies the religious laws of Tawrat.
From the aforementioned statement, it becomes evident that religion as viewed by the Qur’an is the same as the method of living from which man cannot escape. The difference between religion and a social law is that religion is descended by the Almighty Allah, whereas social laws spring from people’s minds. In other words, religion unites man’s social life with his worship and obedience of the Almighty Allah, while no attempt at such unity is made by social laws.
THE ADVANTAGES OF RELIGION
It was revealed that religion has a profound effect in reforming the individual and the society. It is also the only means of obtaining bliss and prosperity.
A society which does not abide by religion loses its realign and intellectualism and spends its precious life in aberration, externalism, and negligence. Such a society ignores wisdom, and like animals, becomes narrow-minded and foolish. This society becomes involved in immorality and misbehaviour, thus forfeiting all its humanitarian privileges. Such a society will not reach its everlasting prosperity and rather, it will experience the inauspicious outcomes and the unpleasant effects of its deviations and m is demeanours. Sooner or later, such a society will suffer from the evil consequences of its negligence and will realize that the only way towards prosperity is religion and belief in Allah. Finally, this society will regret its actions.
The Almighty Allah states:
“He will indeed be successful who purifies it, and he will indeed fail who corrupts it (91:9 -10).”
It is necessary to understand that the application of religious instructions ensures the happiness and salvation of the individual and the society, otherwise only nomination does not help. Since it is only the reality itself that counts and not the claim for reality.
Whoever claims to be a Muslim, and with his gloomy heart, inferior character, and awkward behaviour expects to meet the angel of happiness, resembles a patient who expects to recover without having treatment as per the prescription. Obviously with such an idea, he will not attain his goal.
The Almighty Allah states:
“Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Chris tians and the Sabians*, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have reward from their Lord…(2:62).”
It might be assumed that, according to this verse, those who have faith in Allah and the Day of Judgement and who perform good deeds will be saved even if they do not believe in all or some prophets. But it must be realized that in Surat al-Nisa’ Ayat (verses) 150 and 151, Allah considers those who disbelieve in all or some of the prophets as kafirin (unbelievers). In this respect, He states:
“Surely those who disbelieve in Allah and His apostles and (those who) desire to make a distinction between Allah and His apostles and say: ‘We believe in some and disbelieve in others'; and desire to take a course between (this and) that. These it is that are truly unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement (4:150-151).”
As a result, whoever believes in all the prophets and performs good deeds will avail of his faith.
* Sabians are those who converted from Magian to Jewish religion.
If we study the means and factors which led to the development of human societies in the past, this truth becomes evident to us that in his life, man only demands and pursues his own prosperity and happiness. Of course, this happiness would not be possible without the total provision of all means of existence.
On the other hand, with his understanding, gifted by Allah, man realizes that he can never attain and prepare all his needs on his own, so as to provide the means of his ideal welfare and prosperity, because he realizes that he cannot solve the problems of life and reach perfection by himself. As a result, he necessarily submits himself to a social life to supply his needs and considers cooperation with others as the easiest means towards achieving his goal. He engages in acquiring the means of his livelihood collectively. That is to say, each person undertakes to provide some of the means and makes them available. Then, all individuals gather the outcome of their activities. Proportionate with his activity and social status, each individual takes a share and uses it to manage his life.
In this way, he will work hand in hand with his fellowmen to ensure his welfare. This is to say that they all endeavour for one another and pile up the outcomes of their activities. Then each member of the society gathers the product of his activity in accordance with his position and the extent of his endeavour.
THE NEED FOR REGULATIONS IN THE SOCIETY
As the results of the activities of individuals are linked with one another and since everyone wants to benefit from them, forcibly, inconvenience and conflict of interests are indispensable elements of this contact and constant relation. It is needless to say that material benefits are normally the source of all kinds of differences, animosities, and loss of sincerity. In order to maintain sincerity among people, society requires a series of regulations, the observance of which prevents disturbance and chaos.
It is self-evident that if no laws and regulations for the management of the society exist, there will be a chaos in which human society cannot survive even for a single day.
Certainly, these rules vary from one society to another based on the extent of civilization or savagery of tribes and nations, and the level of understanding of societies and their governments. In neither case is a society free from the need of a series of traditions and regulations which are at least respected by most of its members. In the history of mankind, never has a society evolved without possessing common rites, traditions, and regulations.
MAN IS NOT FREE AGAINST REGULATIONS
As man performs all his actions with his own free will and choice, he feels a sort of freedom of action for himself. By considering this freedom of action as “absolute”, that is, “unconditional”, he wants total freedom and escapes from any restriction. For this reason, man suffers from any prohibition and deprivation inflicted on himself. Finally, he feels compelled and senses failure whenever a restriction is imposed on him. Therefore, no matter how small the number of social regulations are, they are against man’s freedom-seeking nature because they limit him to some extent.
On the other hand, he finds that if he disagrees to forfeit a part of his freedom by abiding by the laws for the sake of the protection of society and its order, a chaos will result that will suddenly annihilate all his freedom and peace. This is just as if he seizes a morsel from others when others will undoubtedly seize morsels from him. In like manner, if he oppresses others, they will oppress him as well.
Therefore, in order to maintain some freedom for himself, he dispenses with a part of his freedom and inevitably respects social regulations.
WEAK POINT IN THE IMPLEMENTATION
As mentioned before, there is a kind of conflict and incompatibility between man’s freedom-seeking nature and social regulations. That is, laws are like chains that are linked to man’s feet and he constantly tries to break them and set himself free from captivity. This is the greatest danger which always threatens social regulations and shakes its foundations.
In this regard, alongside practical regulations and duties, there are always other regulations intended to punish offenders which frighten and prevent them from opposition, and to encourage people to abide by the laws by making them confident of receiving rewards and prizes. It cannot be denied that the subject matter (i.e., fear of punishment and eagerness for receiving rewards) aids the enforcement of laws to some extent, but it cannot fully prevent violations and safeguard the influence and domination of laws. This is because penal codes, like other laws, are vulnerable to violation and are constantly threatened by the freedom-seeking nature of man, because those who have full power and capability can overtly oppose them without fear and fright, or they can force judicial and executive organizations to act according to their desire, by using their influence.
And those who do not have adequate influence and power can take advantage of the negligence or weakness of the authorities to fulfil their oppositions covertly. They can attain their ends through bribery, mediation, or by way of friendship and relationship with the influential sector to disrupt the working order of the society and to paralyse it.
The best evidence for this subject is that every day we observe thousands of these types of oppositions and violations against laws in various human societies.
THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE
WEAKNESS OF LAWS
We must now find out where the original source of danger lies and how to subdue the unyielding and freedom seeking nature of man in order to prevent his opposition to the law.
The source of this danger, which is the main cause for penetration of corruption in a society and which cannot even be prevented by regulations, is that the ordinary social methods which have brought the laws into existence consider the material aspects of individuals and ignore their spiritualities and instincts. They only aim at providing harmony, maintaining order, and balancing the actions of people in such a way that will not result in discord and conflict. Social laws demand adherence of their articles and tend to control the actions of people. Such laws ignore men’s innate attributes and innermost feelings which instigate their actions and which are the internal enemies of regulations.
Whenever the freedom-seeking nature of man and hundreds of other instincts (such as selfishness, voluptuousness, which are the main causes of corruption) are ignored, there will be chaos and disturbance and the scope of differences will become wider day by day. Since all laws are always threatened by the attack and invasion of powerful rebels and the night-time attacks of ingenious robbers springing from these instincts; therefore, they fall short of preventing corruption and differences.
THE ADVANTAGE OF RELIGION
OVER OTHER LAWS
The latest social method for the protection of laws is to establish penal codes and appoint officials to enforce them. But as mentioned earlier, penal laws and officials cannot restrain the mutinous nature and other rebellious instincts of man and fail to enforce social regulations.
In addition to appointing officials to maintain control and formulating regulations to castigate violators and rebels as established by human laws, religion has other powerful means at its disposal whereby it can defeat and annihilate any antagonistic force.
(1) As a result of uniting social life and the worship of the Almighty Allah, religion has initiated a divine responsibility for man in all his individual and social acts and holds man responsible in all his endeavours and hesitations.
Since Sublime Allah has full control over man by His infinite might and knowledge he is thoroughly aware of any thought that man nurtures in his mind and any secret in man’s heart; and nothing is hidden to Him.
In addition to appointing an external police, religion puts man under the care of his conscience which never neglects its duty. Man cannot escape from the rewards and retribution of conscience.
The Almighty Allah states:
” … And Allah comprehends what they do (8:47).”
“… And He is with you wherever you are ,.. (57:4).”
“… And your Lord will most surely pay back to all their deeds in full …(11:111).”
“… Surely Allah ever watches over you (4:1).”
If we compare the conditions of a man who is governed by laws with one who lives under the jurisdiction of religion, the advantage and superiority of religion will become quite evident. A society, whose members are all religious and perform their religious du ties and know that Allah observes their action in every respect, is protected from the malevolence of its members towards one another. Thus, the general public who live in such an environment are safeguarded against the actions and statements of others. They even have security in their thinking, whereas this purport does not exist in the laws of the universe. Religion has also prohibited man from mistrust.
“O you who believe! avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy… (49:12).”
Man feels quite comfortable in a religious environment. He will spend a lifetime in utmost joy and comfort and will attain everlasting welfare.
But in a society governed only by human laws, man refrains from unlawful acts when he sees the police watching his actions; otherwise, he may commit any offence.
(2) Under the guidance of religion, every religious person discovers the fact that his life is not limited to a life of short duration in this ephemeral world, rather there is an infinite and endless life ahead of him which does not terminate by death. He realizes that the only way to attain everlasting prosperity and eternal comfort is to follow religious laws descended by the Almighty Allah through His prophets. He knows that religious laws are descended by the Wise, Powerful, and Knowledgeable Allah who controls man’s inward and outward behaviour and. who examines man’s overt and covert activities. It is, therefore, impossible for man to conceal an act so as to undermine Allah’s commands.
(3) According to his religious beliefs, every pious man knows that performing religious orders is, in fact, the obedience to Allah. Even if by so doing he does not get any rewards from the standpoint of servitude, he will receive a good remuneration by the favour and grace of Allah. Thus by observing religious commandments, he voluntarily makes a dealing and transaction, because he forfeits a part of his freedom willingly and, in return, gains the satisfaction of Compassionate Allah and receives an excellent reward.
By following religious rules and provisions, a, religious man quite happily engages in dealings. The more he loses his freedom, the more he receives benefits. He sells a merchandise and replaces it with a better one. But one who is not committed to religion considers the observation of laws and provisions a loss for himself. His freedom-seeking nature suffers from the loss of a part of his freedom and seeks an opportunity to set himself free from captivity in order to regain his freedom.
Be it known that religion differs from laws in other respects as well. Religious people willingly avoid committing sins, but the followers of laws only avoid committing crimes because of fear. Religion controls the entire body of pious men, whereas laws only dominate the hands and feet. Religion commands openly and secretly, but laws can only command publicly. Not only is religion a guardian preventing blameworthy acts, but also it is a teacher and educator teaching virtue and perfection. Laws, however, have no other function but to serve as police.
If we assume the benefit of other laws to be one u nit, then the advantage of religion is more than a thousand units. Thus, those who try to uproot religion by adhering to other laws resemble people who cut their legs by their hands and then replace them with wooden legs.
Thus, from the aforementioned statements, it becomes evident that religion is the best and most exalted way that can organize human society and persuade people to observe social laws more than any other method.
SEEKING A REMEDY BY OTHERS
The underdeveloped countries of the world that have thought of their progress and improvement in the last century, despite the fact that they have accepted a social government, but as they have disregarded the weaknesses of laws and have not benefited from the power of religion, they have led a gloomy life and their environment has become a model of savagery.
On the other hand, the progressive and intelligent people of the world who have discovered the weaknesses of laws have sought a remedy to save them from absolute failure and have thus taken another course of action.
These people organize the method of their education in such a way that individuals, willingly or not, will be brought up by a series of proper ethics, so that upon entrance into the field of activity, they will consider the laws sacred and inviolable.
This kind of education results in the regular progress of laws and, as a result, guarantees the prosperity of the society to a considerable extent and saves the laws from failure.
It should be realized that there are two modes of thinking by which a society educates itself.
(1) Thoughts and beliefs such as philanthropy, benevolence, and compassion towards subordinates which are based upon realism and are undoubtedly adopted from divine religions. From antiquity, before progressive societies evolved, religion invited people towards this mode of thinking. Consequently, the prosperity and welfare experienced in progressive societies due to these thoughts are considered as the blessings of religion.
(2) Useless and unreal thoughts and beliefs that have no value except in the realm of superstition such as inculcating people with the belief that if they suffer or get killed to save their country, their names will be imprinted in history with golden words.
Although these superstitious thoughts render practical results and may influence an individual to make sacrifice in the battlefield and to destroy a large number of the enemies, their disadvantages overshadow their advantages. This way of thinking makes man superstitious and disrupts his instincts of realism, because for those who disbelieve in Allah and the Day of Judgement who consider death as inexistence and annihilation, the everlasting life and prosperity after death has no meaning whatsoever.
Due to his Allah-granted nature and temperament, man seeks a religion. This is because, in the course of life, he constantly struggles to provide prosperity for himself and uses all possible means to meet his requirements. He always seeks effective causes which are undefeatable. On the other hand, there are no causes in the world with permanent and undefeatable effects.
The fact that man, on the basis of his nature, demands an undefeatable cause and seeks an indestructible refuge to which he can connect his life and find peace of mind for his prosperity is demanded by religion. It is only the Almighty Allah whose will can never be overcome and subdued. Allah is free from pretext and shortcomings. The way of life that is connected to Allah is only the religion of Islam and nothing else.
Therefore, it can be said that man’s instinctive yearning is one of the best reasons. that substantiate the threefold fundamentals of religion (i.e., Tawhid (monotheism), Nubuwwah (prophethood) and Ma’ad (resurrection), because man’s instinctive perception which is an inherent part of his particular framework never makes a mistake. For example, man never mistakes the meaning of friendship for that of animosity. Nor does he mistake the feeling of thirst in his own natural perception for being quenched.
It is true that man sometimes desires to have feathers in order to fly as a bird or to be in the sky like a star, but he, wholeheartedly and earnestly, seeks a real support for his happiness, an absolute comfort, or a completely humanitarian life. As long as man lives, he will never give up this idea. If an undefeatable cause (Allah) did not exist in the world of existence, man would not have thought of it with his immaculate nature. If an absolute and unparalleled peace and tranquillity (which is the peace and tranquillity of the world Hereafter) did not exist and if the religious policy (sent to us through prophetic mission) was not legitimate, then this desire would not have been engraved on man’s mind.
A RESUME OF THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS
In conducting a brief investigation on the origination of religions, the most confident approach that can be depended upon from a religious point of view is the Holy Qur’an, because it is free from errors, mistakes, prejudice, and spitefulness. The Holy Qur’an states this briefly by saying:
“Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam…(3:19).”
The divine religion, which is the very religion of Islam has accompanied man from the first day that he came into existence. As stipulated by the Holy Qur’an, the present generation of man originates from one man and one woman. In the Holy Qur’an, the man has been called Adam. He was a prophet to whom divine wahy (divine revelations) had been descended. Adam’s religion was. very simple and included a few general regulations such as the people should remember Allah and should be kind to each other and specifically to their parents and should keep aloof from corruption, murder, and evil acts.
After Adam and his wife, their children spent their lives with extreme simplicity and without differences of opinion. As the number of people increased, they gradually gathered together and formed a community life. In this manner, they learned how to live and came closer to civilization. As the number of people proliferated little by little, they divided themselves into different tribes, in each of which there were noblemen whom the people respected. Even after the demise of these nobles, the people made their statues and paid tribute to them. It was exactly at this time that idolatry became prevalent, and as it is cited by religious leaders, idolatry originated in this way. The history of idolatry confirms this matter as well. Little by little, as a result of the unjust behaviour of the mighty towards the weak, differences of opinion sprang up. These disagreements and accidental differences of opinion resulted in various forms of conflicts in life.
The generation of these conflicts that led to man’s deviation from the path of prosperity towards misery and destruction was the reason that Compassionate Allah assigned prophets and sent a Divine Book that settled man’s differences. As the Almighty Allah states:
“(All) people are a single nation; so Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He revealed with them the Book with truth, that it might judge between people in that which they differed… (2:213).”
THE RELIGION OF ISLAM
The holy religion of Islam is the last divine religion, and for this reason it is the most perfect of them all. With the advent of this religion, the former religions were abolished, for by having a perfect religion, there is no need for an imperfect one.
The religion of Islam was sent down to man through our Honourable Prophet, Muhammad (SA). This door of salvation and prosperity was opened to mankind at a time when human societies had passed through the periods of immaturity and mental incapacity and had become prepared to gain their ideal perfection and acquired the capability to gain knowledge in divine and sublime matters along with their application.
Therefore, Islam has introduced facts and teachings suitable to the understanding of a realistic man as well as praiseworthy ethics that distinguish men, has provided instructions that reform individual and social aspects of man’s life, and has also recommended the observance of these factors.
For this reason, the religion of Islam is a universal and eternal religion. It consists of a series of religious tenets and practical and moral provisions, the application of which, ensures man’s welfare and happiness in this world and the Akhirah (the world Hereafter). The regulations of Islam are such as to bring about the best conditions of life and the most progressive human transcendency for individuals and societies observing them.
Islam grants its excellent advantages to all people and societies equally. Adults and children, the wise and the ignorant, men and women, the white and the black, easterners and westerners can, without exception, enjoy the benefits and advantages of this holy religion to attain their needs in the best and the most perfect manner possible. This is due to the fact that Islam has established its teachings and regulations on the basis of creation and has considered man’s needs and tries to settle them. The nature and structure of all men are identical even if they belong to different races and generations. It is evident that human society, from east to west, is regarded as a typical family, that is to say, the members of society are all human. The adults and children, men and women, the wise and the ignorant, the white and the black,… are members of this family. They all share the same principles and foundations of human characteristics. The needs of various individuals and different races are the same. Posterities are also descendants of this very family and will definitely inherit their requirements.
Consequently, Islam is the religion which fulfils the actual and natural needs of man. Islam is adequate for everyone and will survive for ever.
Thus, the Almighty Allah calls Islam a human nature-inspired religion and invites people to keep human nature alive. Theologians have stated that Islam is an easy religion which does not treat man with severity.
THE IMPORTANCE ISLAM ATTACHES
TO MAN’S COMFORT
Just as religion possesses an excellent position in regard to other social policies, Islam, too, enjoys an excellent position among other religions. Thus, Islam is more advantageous than other policies for human societies. This fact is clarified by comparing Islam with other religions and social policies.
COMPARISON OF ISLAM WITH OTHER RELIGIONS
Among all religions, Islam is the only one that is entirely social. The teachings of Islam are not similar to those of the present-day Christianity which only takes into consideration people’s happiness in the world Hereafter and ignores their worldly happiness. The teachings of Islam are neither like the present religion of Judaism that only endeavours to educate a particular nation. The teachings of Islam, unlike the instructions set forth by Magus and some other religions, have not focussed on only a few limited subjects relating to ethics and actions.
Islam has considered education and prosperity necessary for this world and the world Hereafter for everybody and for ever at any time and place. Evidently, except Islam, there is no other means for reforming societies and providing the people with happiness in this world and the world Hereafter. First, since the global relations are getting closer and stronger day by day, the reformation of one society or nation from among all human societies will be fruitless and, in fact, it resembles the purification of a drop of water in a contaminated large pool or a river. Second, only the rectification of a particular society at the expense of neglecting other societies is contrary to the fact of seeking reformation. All ideas and thoughts about the creation of the world and man that may be reflected in man’s mind, all ethics that can be implanted in the souls of people, and all actions and endeavours that may appear in man’s environment have been examined in the teachings of Islam.
However, in Islam , realistic thoughts, on top of which is the Oneness of the Almighty Allah, have been selected and considered as the basis and foundation of religion.
In the ethics of Islam, that which is in fact approved by sound judgement has been chosen and based on the principle of monotheism.
Then, on the basis and principle of ethics, a series of provisions and practical laws that examine the details of man’s life have been explained and, as a result, individual and social duties of black and white, urban and nomadic, man and woman, young and old, servant and master, king and the subject, rich and poor, have been clarified under ordinary or exceptional circumstances.
“… Of a good word (being) like a good tree, the root of which is firm and the branches of which are in heaven (14:24).”
Anyone, who enquires into the basic principles of intuitive knowledge and ethical teachings of Islam and Islamic jurisprudence, will find them like a boundless sea which renders the wisdom helpless for comprehending and thought for reaching its depth. Nevertheless, every part of Islam is linked with other parts and all parts constitute an organized unit of theism and human fostering, revealed by the Almighty Allah to His honourable Prophet.
COMPARISON OF ISLAM WITH OTHER
By careful examination of the policies of the developed societies of the world, we realize that although the scientific and industrial development of these societies has dazzled man’s wisdom, even though their power and strength has reached the moon and Mars, and in spite of the fact that the illuminating institutions of their countries have astonished man, these advanced policies, with their praiseworthy progress, have opened up the gates of misery to the world of humanity. They have also devastated the world twice in less than a quarter of a century and have annihilated millions of innocent people. At present, too, the third world war, which carries the message of man’s annihilation, threatens the inhabitants of the earth.
From the first day of their development, these very policies have put other nations under the yoke of servitude by the name of philanthropy and freedom. They have tied down the four huge continents of the world with colonization and have surrendered them unconditionally to Europe, thus providing the small minority of Europe with absolute ruling over the property, life, and dignity of millions of innocent people.
It cannot be denied that the advanced countries enjoy the material pleasures and blessings of their milieu and have attained most of their humanitarian goals such as social justice and cultural and industrial progress, but they have been entangled with misery and wretchedness, the most important of which are international conflicts and universal bloodshed. They also expose the world to more sinister and bitter calamities than before.
It is self-evident that all these are the bitter and sweet fruits of the tree of civilization and the direct results of the way of living of these nations and societies that are superficially on the path of progress.
But it must be realized that the sweet fruits, from which man and society have benefited, originated from a series of praiseworthy ethics such as truthfulness, honesty, conscientiousness, benevolence, and self-sacrifice of these nations and not of their laws only. This is because although the same laws exist in undeveloped nations of Asia and Africa, their misery and humility augments day by day.
The bitter fruits of this tree, however, which have unpleasantly given their acrid flavour to man and have caused misery and wretchedness and have led the advanced nations, like others, to total destruction, originate from indecent behaviours such as greed, injustice, atrocity, selfishness, vanity, and stubbornness.
If we consider the instructions of the holy religion of Islam, we come to the realization that Islam orders the performance of the first part of these attributes and prohibits the second part. As a whole, Islam has invited man to perform any righteous and correct act suitable to man’s interests and has placed this policy as the basis of its education. On the other hand, Islam warns man of committing any unrighteous and incorrect act which disrupt man’s tranquillity (although it may benefit a particular nation or people).
From what has been expressed, the following conclusion can be drawn:
(1) The policies set forth by Islam are more praiseworthy and beneficial for man than any other social policy.
“…That is the right religion, but most people do not know (30:30).”
(2) The clear points and sweet fruits of the present civilized world are entirely due to the blessings of the immaculate religion of Islam and the living examples of its holy principles and tenets and living signs that have fallen into the hands of westerners. Centuries before the signs of western civilization appeared, Islam had invited people to follow the same ethics by the application of which westerners outpaced us.
Before his martyrdom, the Leader of the Faithful, ‘Ali (AS), stated to the people: “Do not act in such a way that others may outpace you in practising the decrees of the Qur’an.”
(3) According to the instructions of Islam, ethics must be considered as man’s essential objective and the cornerstone of laws. Disregarding decent ethics and establishing laws only to meet the materialistic interests of people will only focus their attention on materialism and will deprive them of spiritualism which is the only mark of distinction of man over animals. It will replace spiritualism with brutality, as in wolves and tigers, and with docility as in cows and sheep. Therefore, the Holy Prophet (SA) stated:
“My main objective is the moral education of people.”
DISCUSSION CONCERNING ORIGIN
OF CREATION IS NATURAL
With his Allah-given instinct, man searches for the reasons and causes leading to the appearance of any phenomenon or occurrence that he sees. He never thinks it probable that they have come into existence automatically and without any cause, i.e., accidentally. A driver whose car stops functioning gets off to check where he suspects it is impaired in order to find the cause for the halt. He never believes that the car, with its complete readiness to move, would stop without any reason. When he wants to get the car going, he uses the facilities that are installed in the car and never relies on chances.
If man becomes hungry, he thinks of bread. When thirsty, he searches for water. If he feels cold, he feels the necessity of clothes or, for instance, fire and is never satisfied by relying on chances. One who wants to construct a building naturally engages in finding building materials, masons, and labourers. He does not have the slightest hope that his project would be implemented automatically.
Mountains, forests, and vast seas have existed on earth alongside human beings as long as they have been on earth. They have always seen the sun, the moon, and the bright stars with their orderly and permanent movements in the sky.
In spite of all this, the scientists of the world have constantly discussed the reasons and causes for the existence of these wonderful creatures and phenomena with tireless exploration. They never say that they have seen these in the same condition from the beginning of their lives and so they have developed automatically.
This inquisitive instinct and discussion on causes and means compels man to pry into the appearance of the world of creation and its astonishing system. Man wonders whether this vast world which is, in fact, a great phenomenon and which has related and harmonious components, has evolved automatically or it has originated due to other causes.
Does an infinite might and knowledge govern this astonishing system which operates according to established and unexceptional rules all over the world and which leads everything to its particular goal and destination, or it has come into existence by an accident and a chance?
AFFIRMATION OF THE CREATOR
When man uses his realistic instincts, he finds many evidences for the existence of the Maker and Creator of the world in every nook and corner of the world of creation. With his realistic instinct, man realizes that creatures, that are blessed with existence, that willingly or unwillingly tread a specific path, and that after a while give their places to others, have not themselves given the blessing of life. The orderly way that the creatures traverse has not been created by themselves. They do not have the least contribution in creation and organization of the path of their own existence. This is because man has not adopted and chosen humanity and human characteristics, rather he has been created and has been endowed with human traits. In like manner, the realistic nature of man never accepts that all objects have evolved automatically by an accident and the system in their existence is perfunctory and without purpose, although man’s conscience would not accept such an occurrence even in a few bricks neatly piled up. Therefore, man’s realistic instinct declares that the world of existence undoubtedly has a basis which is the origin of existence and the creator and preserver of the world. This infinite existence and origin of knowledge and might is Allah from whom the system of existence emanates. The Almighty Allah states:
“…He Who gave to everything its creation, then guided it (to its goal) (20:50).”
THEISM AND PEOPLES
In the present era, the majority of people on earth are religious and believe in Allah Who has created the world and worship Him.
Ancient man also had the conditions of modern man. So long as history shows, the majority of men were pious and believed in the existence of Allah. Although differences of opinion existed among theistic and pious societies and each tribe described the origin of creation with particular epithets, they unanimously agreed on the essence of the subject. Not only Islam, but also other religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Maganism, and Buddhism are of the same opinion and belief about this matter. Those who deny the existence of the Creator do not have convincing proof and would never have one for their denial. In fact, they say they have no reason for Allah’s existence, rather than saying they have proof for His non-existence.
A materialistic man says: “I do not know.” and does not say “He does not exist.” In other words, a materialistic person is doubtful and does not deny.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And they say: There is nothing but our life in this world; we live and die and nothing destroys us but time, and they have no knowledge of that. they only conjecture (45:24).”
Even in the most ancient works discovered from primitive men, signs of religion and theism can be found. There are evidences that primitive men believed in metaphysics.
Even in the relatively new continents such as America an d Australia and the far off islands of the old continent discovered in recent centuries, the natives were theist. They proved an origin for the world of creation by juxtaposing their views, although the history has never found their relation with the ancient world.
Reflection in this subject that belief in Allah has always existed in man elucidates that theism is innate in man. With his Allah-given nature, man proves the existence of Allah for the creation of the world. The Holy Qur’an points out to this congenital characteristic of man:
“And if you should ask them who created them, they would certainly say: Allah … (43:87).”
Qur’an also states:
“And if you ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they will certainly say: Allah … (31:25).”
THE EFFECT OF THIS INQUISITIVENESS
IN MAN’S LIFE
If man positively answers questions about the Creator of the world and the Founder of its system which become manifest for him on the basis of his truth-seeking nature, he will prove an eternal origin for the creation of the world and the continuity of its wonderful system. He will also connect everything to His invincible determination which depends on Allah’s infinite power and knowledge.
Consequently, man will find a kind of warmth and hopefulness in him. In the course of the difficulties and obstacles of his life and problems that preclude his seeking a remedy, he would never feel completely disappointed. This is because he knows that any means and causes, no matter how powerful, are controlled by the Almighty Allah and everything is under Allah’s command. Such a person never submits to means and causes. Even when he sees everything to his advantage, he does not become proud and selfish, so as to forget his position and that of the world. This is due to the fact that he is cognizant that superficial means and causes do not operate on their own and proceed according to the order of the Almighty Allah. Finally, such a person conceives that in the world of existence, he must not pay homage to none but Allah; he must not fully acquiesce to any orders except Allah’s commands.
He who replies negatively to the aforementioned questions, however, is devoid of this hopefulness, realism, magnanimity, and congenital intrepidity.
Thus we see that the role of suicide increases daily among nations dominated by materialism. Those whose sole attachment is to tangible means and causes become disappointed by the slightest inconvenience and commit suicide. On the other hand, people endowed with the blessing of theism never lose their faith even on the verge of death. They are confident and hopeful of Allah’s might and blessings.
In the last hours of his life, when the swords of enemy aimed at him from every direction, Imam Husayn (AS) stated: “The only factor which alleviates this affliction is Allah’s incessant observation of my endeavours.” In several verses, the Holy Qur’an stipulates this truth:
“Surely those who say: ‘Our Lord is Allah, then they continue on the right way, they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve’ (46:13).”
“Those who believe and whose hearts are set at rest by the remembrance of Allah; now surely by Allah’s remembrance are the hearts set at rest (13:28).”
THEISM FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF QUR’AN
A suckling who touches his m other’s breasts by his hands, sucks the breasts to get milk. In fact, he wants milk, and if he takes something by his hands, in order to eat it, he will direct it to his mouth. His main objective is eating and if he finds that he has made a mistake, because what he has taken is not edible, he discards it. In like manner, man seeks truth in whatever course of action he takes. Whenever he finds that he has erred and has done wrong, he suffers and regrets the futile hardship he endured for an erroneous action. Finally, man always abstains from mistake and error and tries to get to the reality as much as he can.
This sheds light on the fact that man is by nature and instinct a realist; i.e., willingly or unwillingly, he always seeks the reality and follows truth. Man has not learned this instinctive disposition from anyone and anywhere. If at times, man shows obstinacy and refuses to accept the truth, it is because he has been entangled with mistake and error without finding truth and piety. If he had found them, he would not have followed the path of error.
Sometimes, too, man suffers from a psychological ailment due to carnal desires. This converts the sweet taste of truth into bitterness. Then although he is acquainted with the truth he does not follow it. Even though he admits the rightfulness of truth and confesses the necessity of abiding by it, he refrains from submission. This is similar to recurrent events in which due to addiction to harmful things, man suppresses his human instinct (which is removal of danger and an escape from loss) and embarks on an action that is detrimental (like those addicted to tobacco, alcohol, narcotics).
The Holy Qur’an invites man towards realism and adherence of truth. Qur’an insists on this matter and, in various ways, asks different people to keep their realistic instinct and adherence with truth alive.
The Almighty Allah states:
“…And what is thereafter the truth but error…(10:32).”
Allah also states:
“Most surely man is in loss, except those who believe and do good and enjoin on each other truth and enjoin on each other patience (103:2-3).”
Clearly, all these enjoinments by Allah show that if man does not keep his realistic instinct alive and if he does not strive to follow truth and reality, he would not be satisfied with his prosperity and happiness and would follow any lustful and pleasant expressions and endeavours. Consequently, he would be tied down by absurd thoughts and superstitions. Then, like a quadruped animal that has lost its way (which is man’s asset), he will be the victim of his carnal desires and unrestrainedness due to his ignorance.
The Almighty Allah states:
“Have you seen him who takes his low desires for his god? Will you then be a protector over him? Or do you think that most of them do hear or understand? They are nothing but as cattle. nay, they are straying farther off from the path (25:43-44).”
In brief the Almighty Allah says: How do you feel about people who worship their carnal desires? Do you think you can improve and educate these people. Do you think they listen and understand? They are more deviated than cattle. However, once their real human instinct revives and the spirit of following the truth starts functioning, the facts would be illuminating for them one after the other and whatever truth and fact become clear for them, they would accept readily. Everyday, they would take a fresh step in the path of bliss and prosperity.
QUR’AN’S TEACHINGS ABOUT THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD
THE EXISTENCE OF THE CREATOR
“… Is there doubt about Allah, the Maker of the heavens and the earth … (14:10)?”
Explanation: In daylight, everything is visible. We can see ourselves, others, houses, city, desert, mountains, jungle, and sea. But when the darkness of night prevails, all these bright and evident things lose their brightness. Then we realize that this brightness did not belong to them, rather it was due to the sun which illuminated them by a kind of contact. The sun is bright and, with its reflection, makes the earth and all that is on it bright and visible. If these objects had a brightness of their own, they would never lose it.
Human beings and other living beings perceive objects by their eyes, ears, and senses. They em bark on activities by their hands, feet, and other internal and external organs. After a while, however, they lose their senses and motions and no longer show any movement or activity and apparently die.
By witnessing this scene, we come to the conclusion that the intellect, determination, and movement of these living beings are not due to their posture and figure, rather they spring from their soul and psyche. When their soul goes out they lose their livelihood and activity.
For example, if seeing and hearing were done only by the eyes and ears, these activities would continue so long as these two organs existed, but this is not the case at all.
In like manner, if the undoubted existence and genesis of the vast world of existence, of which we are a part and can never doubt its existence, sprang from and belonged to itself, it would never lose them. In spite of this, we see that the components of the world lose their existence vitality one after another and are incessantly in the state of change and transformation. They replace one condition by another and assume another shape.
For this reason, one must decisively judge that the existence and genesis of all living things originate from something else which is their Creator and Generator. As soon as the Creator cuts off relation of creation with something, that object plunges into annihilation and obliteration and becomes invisible.
That Infinite Existence, which is the support of the world of creation and the Preserver of people, is Allah.
There is no annihilation and obliteration for Allah; otherwise, like all other living beings, His existence would not have been from itself and would have been dependent on others.
QUR’AN AND TAWHID
If with a pure nature and peaceful heart, man glances at the world of existence, he will see proofs and signs for the pure existence of the Creator in its nooks and corners. He will find evidences from every place to back up this truth. In this world, everything that man faces is either a phenomenon created by Allah or possesses a characteristic endowed by Allah or is a system that runs and governs everything by Allah’s command. Man is one such being and his entire body attests this fact. Neither does man’s existence belong to himself nor are the traits that he manifests based on his will. Man has neither devised the plan of life that he takes up from the beginning of his life, nor can he consider this system based on chance and accident and, therefore, cut off. Man cannot attribute his existence and the system of his existence to the environment in which he came into being. This is because the existence of the above-mentioned environment and the system that governs it are not made by that environment and have not evolved by chance and accident.
Thus man has no choice but to prove an origin for the world of creation. This origin creates and fosters things. It gives life to every being and leads it in the path of survival to its specific perfection by a particular system.
When man sees that the creation of objects is related and a unified system exists in the world, he is forced to accept that the source of creation and manager of its system is no one except Allah.
The Holy Qur’an states:
“If there had been in them any gods except Allah, they would both have certainly been in a state of disorder… (21:22).”
Explanation: If many gods governed the world and, as idolaters say, different gods ran various parts of the world, then the earth, heavens, seas, and jungles would each have a god for its own. As a result of the differences among such gods, various systems would be established in the world, so that inevitably the world would face corruption and annihilation. However, we see that all components of the world have complete relation and harmony with one another and comprise a system. Thus, it must be said that there is no partner for the Providence and Creator of the world.
Some might assume that since the supposed gods are wise and aware that their differences lead the world toward annihilation and corruption, they never differ with each other. But this is a depraved assumption because Allah, Who governs the world of existence or a part of it and Whose activity and motion are for the system of creation, performs no mental activity like us.
From the first day that our eyes open upon the world of creation and view the system at work in it, we acquire mental impressions from this system. These constitute our knowledge. Then as we work to provide our basic needs, we coordinate our action with our mental impressions to make it correspond to the prevalent system of creation. For example, we eat to satisfy our hunger. To quench our thirst, we drink water. To be relieved from cold and heat, we wear suitable clothes, because we realize that these exigencies are satisfied by such means in the world order.
Thus our action (in this view) in contingent upon and subsequent to our thoughts and our thoughts depend upon and are subsequent to the world order. Therefore, our actions are two stages subsequent to the world order. But for Allah Who governs the world or a part of it, the external world order is an action. It is not rational to believe that His actions occur due to premeditations on the system.
THE ALMIGHTY ALLAH POSSESSES
ALL ATTRIBUTES OF PERFECTION
What is perfection? A house is perfect when it provides for all the needs of a family’s living such as enough rooms to serve as a living room, a guesthouse, a kitchen for making food, a bathroom, and other rooms. If it lacks these utilities, it is proportionately deficient.
WHY DOESN’T MAN ACCEPT THIS
TRUTH AT TIMES?
This fact is evident for man without the least speculation and there is no doubt in it, but that at times man becomes so entangled with the conflicts of life that he uses all the power of his wisdom for vital struggles. He spends all his time probing life, therefore, he has no time to spend on these kinds of thoughts. As a result, he becomes heedless of this fact or enchanted by nature’s charming outward appearances and indulges in voluptuousness and pleasure. Since adherence to these facts precludes materialistic unrestrainedness, such a man naturally refuses to accept this fact and its like and is intolerant of it.
The Holy Qur’an has paid greater attention, in different ways, and has presented evidences for the creation of the creatures and the system prevalent and dominant among them. This is because most people, especially those who are infatuated by nature’s charming appearances and who find prosperity in voluptuousness and worldly pleasures, are unable to think philosophically and to investigate subtle logical theories due to their fondness of material and perceptible things.
In any case, man is a part of the world of creation and is not free from want of its other components and the general and particular systems that govern it. He can consider the world of creation and the system prevalent in it at any time to find out the existence of the Creator and Lord of the world.
The Almighty Allah states:
“Most surely in the heavens and the earth there are signs for the believers. And in your (own) creation and in what He spreads abroad of animals there are signs for a people that are sure, and (in) the variation of the night and the day, and (in) what Allah sends down of sustenance from the cloud, then gives life thereby to the earth after its death, and (in) the changing of the winds, there are signs for a people who understand (45:3-5).”
Explanation: In the Holy Qur’an, many verses invite people to think about the creation of the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, mountains, seas, plants, animals, and human beings. The Qur’an also mentions the astonishing system that governs each of these kinds. Truly, the mechanism of creation and the system that leads different activities of the world towards the goals of creation and the causes for existence are very astonishing and wonderful. The seed of wheat or the kernel of almond, planted on the earth, respectively turn into a clustered shrub or a fruit-bearing tree. From the moment they are planted deeply in the heart of the earth, they rip up, produce green tips, and strike their white roots into the heart of the earth. To attain their final goal, vast and enormous systems, whose magnitude and vastness astound the intellect, begin to operate. The stars in the skies, the bright sun, the luminous moon, and the earth all with their rotation, movement, and potential power along with the mysterious powers in the seed or kernel, the four seasons of the year, the atmospheric conditions, the clouds, rains, winds, and days and nights all contribute to the growing of a seed into a shrub of wheat. Like nurses, these factors foster this new phenomenon and turn it from one hand to another until it reaches the last stage of its growth and development.
Likewise, the coming into existence of a human infant is much more complex than the bud of a plant or other phenomena, because it is the product of millions or rather billions of years of complex and systematic activity of the mechanism of creation. Man’s daily life, in addition to external connections with the world of creation, springs from an astonishing system within his being which has amused the perceptive minds of the scientists of the world engaged for many centuries in observation of its outward things. Each day another layer is removed from its secrets, but still their knowledge about the unknown is rather insignificant.
If a human being possesses what is needful in the system of being of a normal man, he is perfect. But if he lacks one of them, for instance, if he does not have a hand, foot, or an eye, he is deficient in that respect.
From what has been said, the attribute of perfection is that which meets some of the needs of existence and obviates deficiency. For example, the epithet of knowledge obviates the darkness of ignorance and elucidates what is known to the scholar. Also power enables a powerful person to attain his ends and satisfy his demands and makes him competent to do so. Other epithets are life, comprehension, etc.
Our conscience judges that the Creator of the world (He, from whom the existence of the world and creatures originate and who meets any need that could be conceived and grants every blessing and perfection) possesses all attributes of perfection, because from a realistic point of view, it can never be assumed that anyone possessing an attribute can prevent others from having it.
The Almighty Allah names all attributes of His perfection and declares Himself Immaculate and Pure from any fault and deficiency:
“And your Lord is the Self-sufficient One, the Lord of Mercy… (6:133).”
“Allah-there is no god but He; His are the very best names (20:8).”
(Allah is Living, Wise, Clear-sighted, Hearing, Mighty, Creator, and Free from want.) Thus the Almighty Allah possesses all epithets of perfection and His Holy Presence is Pure and Immaculate. Because if He had deficiency, He would be dependent in that respect and a superior god would have to provide His needs.
“…Glory be to Him and exalted be He above what they associate (with Him) (30:40).”
THE POWER AND KNOWLEDGE OF ALLAH
Observation of the interconnected components of this magnificent world, its astonishing usual revolution, its dazzling minute and interrelated systems which are at work here and there, as a result of which various phenomena move in an utmost orderly manner towards a specific goal and a particular destination, informs any wise man that the existence and survival of the world of existence and all that is associated with it originate from an Immortal One and Power. This Immortal One has created the world and all its inhabitants with His Boundless Might and Infinite Knowledge. Having placed His creatures in the cradle of nurturing, He leads them to an ideal perfection by His blessing. He has an immortal life and is Omnipotent and Omniscient.
The Almighty Allah states:
“His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; He gives life and causes death; and He has power over all things. He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things (57:2-3).”
Allah also states:
“…And Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is between them; He creates what He pleases; and Allah has power over all things (5:17).”
Explanation: When we say that such and such a person has the ability to purchase a car, we mean that he has whatever is needed (enough money) to do so. If we say that such and such a person is able to lift a weight of about 60 kilogrammes, we mean that he has the strength to lift a weight of 60 kilogrammes.
On the whole, possessing capability and power over some matter is contingent upon the availability of its requirements. Since the requirements of any phenomenon in the world of existence can be met through the Divine power of the Almighty Allah, it can be said that He is Mighty and Powerful over all things and His Holy Existence is the main source of existence.
He also states:
“Does He not know who He created…(67:14)?”
That is to say, since in his creation and existence, each creature relies upon the Infinite Entity of the Almighty Allah there can never be any barrier and isolation between that creature and Allah. Nor can that creature be concealed from Him because He is Knowledgeable and Aware of ins and outs of everything.
The Almighty Allah is Just and Righteous, for justice is one of the attributes of perfection. Allah possesses all attributes of perfection. He, in His words, has repeatedly praised justice and has reproached injustice and cruelty. He commands people to do justice and prohibits them from injustice. How would it be possible for Allah to possess attributes that He considers indecent or to lack whatever He considers good and decent?
The Almighty Allah states:
“Surely Allah does not do injustice to the weight of a particle…(4:40).”
He also states:
“…And your Lord does not deal unjustly with any one (18:49).”
“…And Allah does not desire injustice for (His) servants (40:31).”
He also states:
“Whatever benefit comes to you (O man !), it is from Allah, and whatever misfortune befalls you, it is from yourself..(4:79).”
Allah also states:
“Who made good everything that He has created…(32:7).”
Thus, any phenomenon, in itself, has been created in an extremely proper manner. Any hideousness, injustice, deficiencies, or shortcomings that are seen in some creatures can only be experienced by way of comparison and in relationship with other beings. F or example, snakes and scorpions are evil and unjust in their relation to man. When compared with flowers, thorns are not so beautiful, but they are all, in their own right, wonderful and thoroughly beautiful creatures.
Indeed the Almighty Allah declares some of man’s voluntary deeds religiously bad and evil and orders man to refrain from doing them. They include sins such as polytheism, disobedience of parents, killing the innocent, drinking alcoholic beverages, gambling, and any other acts which are against religious obligations.
These kinds of actions, which are called sins, are evil acts and are not attributed to Allah because they bear the title of opposition to and rejection of obligation (title of negation). If these acts are willingly performed by religiously obligated people, then they will be attributed to these people, thus making them responsible and subject to punishment.
When we see an enfeebled needy, we try to meet his demands to the best of our ability. We help a desperately poverty-stricken man or take a blind man’s hand in our own and lead him to his destination. We consider these acts as compassion and blessing and thus regard them as praiseworthy deeds.
Actions performed by the Capable and Independent Allah can be nothing but blessings. By granting His innumerable graces, He lets everyone enjoy them. Without being dependent upon anyone else, Allah provides part of the needs of the creatures. Allah states:
“…And if you count Allah’s favours, you will not be able to number them…(14:34).”
He also states:
Explanation: Any goodness and beauty existing in the world and any attribute of perfection that can be conceived are favours that the Almighty Allah has bestowed upon His creatures, and through this means satisfied one of the needs of creation. Certainly, if He lacked that perfection, He would be unable to grant favours to others and would have a share in the needs of people. Thus, Allah possesses all attributes of perfection and is endowed with all attributes of perfection, such as, life, knowledge, might, etc, without having received a single aspect of perfection from others and without asking them for help. Attributes of imperfection and causes for need and indigence, such as weakness, ignorance, death, difficulty, etc, will not find a way to His Holy Presence.
While independent in every respect, the Almighty Allah, with His immense power, has created the world of existence and its various creatures, allowing them to enjoy His countless blessings.
From the first day of creation till the last day of existence, man and other creatures are fostered by Allah. They are each led toward a known and determined goal with a particular order and system. They proceed towards their ends while being exposed to His noteworthy blessings.
If we study and deliberate upon our lifetime, namely the period of infancy, childhood, youth, and old age, our conscience will testify Allah’s complete favours to us. When we become more aware of this matter, our wisdom will undoubtedly judge that the Creator of the world is more compassionate to His creatures than anyone else is. Due to this compassion and favour, Allah always considers their interests and never consents to the corruption and defect of their affairs without wisdom and expediency. Mankind is one of the creatures of Allah. We know that man’s interest and prosperity depend upon his being realistic and benevolent; that is to say, he must possess true beliefs, praiseworthy ethics, and good deeds.
One may say that with his Allah-granted wisdom, man can distinguish between good and bad and can recognize a well from a path.
It should be known, however, that wisdom alone cannot resolve this difficulty and lead man to realism and benevolence. All these indecent characteristics and unjust actions witnessed in the human society are committed by those who possess wisdom and discernment, however, as a result of selfishness, profit-seeking, and voluptuousness, their wisdom has been overcome by their sentiments and they have succumbed to their carnal desires, leading them astray. Therefore, the Almighty Allah must lead and invite us to prosperity through some other ways and through means which can never be overcome by carnal desires and which never make blunders or mistakes in their guidance. This path is nothing but the path of Nubuwwah.
THE LOGIC IN NUBUWWAH
From what. we have discussed about monotheism, it becomes evident that since Allah creates everything, its fostering also depends upon Him. In other words, the Almighty Allah is the organizer and leader of the movement of any worldly creature or phenomenon that from the very beginning of existence endeavours for its survival, strives to remove its imperfections, eliminates its needs and shortcomings one after another, makes itself independent and self-sufficient as much as possible, and moves in an orderly manner in its path of survival and existence.
A definite conclusion can be drawn from this concept. That is to say, any one of the various kinds of phenomena of the world has a specific evolutionary process for its survival which is done by its special endeavours. In other words, in the path of their survival, worldly creatures of each particular group have a series of specific functions assigned to them by Allah. As the Holy Qur’an, with reference to this fact, states:
“…Our Lord is He Who gave to everything its creation, then guided it (to its goal) (20:50).”
This order applies to all components of creation without any exception. It includes the stars, the earth, their components, compositions that generate primary phenomena, plants, and animals.
Man’s condition is the same as others, in this universal guidance, but there is a difference between him and others.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAN
AND OTHER CREATURES
The earth has supposedly been created millions of years ago. It employs all its hidden forces and endeavours in the environment of its existence to the extent permitted by opposing forces. It displays the signs of its entity in the field of its rotation and transitional movement, thus maintaining its survival. Unless faced with a stronger opposing force, it will continue this activity and will not fall short of carrying out any of its functions.
For example, from the time an almond tree takes root from a seed until it becomes a fully grown tree, it assumes duties, such as nourishing, developing, etc (in other words, it performs these duties to pursue the course of its existence.) It will never refrain from carrying them out unless it is precluded by a stronger opposing force. This process also applies to any other phenomenon. But mankind performs his particular activities voluntarily and his actions originate from his thoughts and determination. Many a time, man refrains from a task which is entirely to his interests and which is not hindered by any opposing force and undertakes a task which is entirely disadvantageous to him knowingly and intentionally. Sometimes, he abstains from drinking antidote and sometimes he drinks a cup of poison and kills himself.
It is certainly clear that the divine universal guidance will not be compulsory for a creature born with free will. That is to say, the prophets conveyed the message of the Almighty Allah on good and bad and prosperity and wretchedness to the people and warned believers of Allah’s chastisement, but the believers have always been free to adopt any one of them. It is true that, in general, man perceives his good and bad and advantage and disadvantage through his wisdom, but that very wisdom often loses its keenness, follows carnal desires, and makes error. Therefore, in addition to the medium of wisdom, divine guidance should positively be achieved through a different medium, which is entirely inviolable to sin and error. In other words, in addition to the medium of wisdom, the Almighty Allah confirms His orders by another medium.
This medium is the same medium of prophethood by which the Almighty Allah reveals His orders to one of His servants through wahy leading mankind to prosperity. Allah appoints him to communicate His orders to the people and to oblige them to follow the orders through hope, despair, encouragement, and threat.
The Almighty Allah states:
“Surely We have revealed to you as We revealed to Nuh (Noah), and the prophets after him…(4:163).” “(We sent) messengers as the bearers of good news and as warners, so that people should not have a plea against Allah after the (coming of) messengers…(4:165).”
ATTRIBUTES OF PROPHET
From what was discussed, it becomes clear that the Almighty Allah, with His divine teachings, must have provided some of His servants with intuitive knowledge and laws that guarantee man’s prosperity and must have sent them to lead the people.
A person who possesses divine messages is called a “nabi (prophet)” and messenger of Allah and the entire set of messages from Allah which he has brought to the people are called “religion”.
It has also become clear that a prophet:
(1) Must be free and immuned from error. In order to communicate what has been revealed to him to the people without error and mistake, he should be immuned from forgetfulness and other mental weaknesses; otherwise, divine guidance will not attain its goal and the general guidance rule will forfeit its applicability and lose its power to influence people.
(2) Must be inviolable to error and sin both in deeds and speech, because sinfulness has no effect in propagation. People do not esteem the speech of a person whose manner and speech are at odds. They even take his deeds for his mendacity and imposture by saying if he meant what he said, he would act accordingly.
By bringing these two aspects together in one phrase, we can say that a prophet must be inviolable to errors and sins to render preaching and propagation effective. In His words, the Almighty Allah, too, refers to this point and states:
“The Knower of the unseen! so He does not reveal His secrets to any, except to him whom He chooses as a messenger. for surely He makes a guard to march before him and after him, so that He may know that they have truly delivered the messages of their Lord…(72:26-28).”
(3) Must possess moral virtues such as chastity, courage, justice, etc, for these are considered as praiseworthy qualities. Anyone who is immune to any sins and follows religion in a perfect manner will never be blemished by moral vices.
PROPHETS AMONG PEOPLE
History indicates that there were prophets among people who responded to the call of Allah; however, the details of their life is not so clear. Only the details of life of Prophet Muhammad (SA) is devoid of ambiguity. The Holy Qur’an, which is the divine book given to Prophet (SA), contains sublime religious aims, has clarified the call of the prophets in the past and has described their goals and objectives.
The Holy Qur’an stipulates that many prophets have been, assigned by Allah to lead the people, all of whom consistently invited the people to monotheism and the true religion. As Allah states:
“And We did not send before you any messenger but We revealed to him that there is no god but Me, therefore worship Me (21:25).”
ULUL’AZM ANBIYA’ (ARCH-PROPHETS)
AND ALL OTHER PROPHETS
There were five prophets who had divine books and independent teachings. They are referred to as Nuh (Noah) (AS), Ibrahim (Abraham) (AS), Musa (Moses) (AS), ‘Isa (Jesus) (AS), and Muhammad (SA) in the following verse:
“He has made plain to you of the religion what He enjoined upon Nuh and that which We have revealed to you, and that which We enjoined upon Ibrahim and Musa and ‘Isa that keep to obedience and be not divided therein… (42:13).”
These five prophets, who have books and divine religious laws, are called the Ulul’azm Anbiya’ (arch-prophets). The messengers of Allah, however, were not limited to these five prophets, rather each ummah (people) had a messenger. Many prophets were sent by Allah to lead the people, of whom only the names of less than twenty have been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.
The Almighty Allah states:
“… There are some of them that We have mentioned to you and there are others whom We have not mentioned to you…(40:78).”
He also states:
“And every ummah had a messenger…(10:47).”
“…And (there is) a guide for every people (13:7).”
Yes, prophets, who came after each of the Ulul’azm Anbiya’ invited people to follow the divine religious laws of the same prophets. Thus, prophetic mission and the call continued until Allah appointed the Prophet Muhammad (SA) ibn Abdillah to bring the previous prophetic missions to perfection and to communicate the latest orders and the most complete divine religious laws. His divine book became the last book and consequently, the religion of Prophet Muhammad (SA) will remain valid until Qiyamah (Resurrection) and his religious laws will remain everlasting.
(1) PROPHET NUH (AS)
Nuh (AS) (prophet Noah) was the first prophet appointed to prophetic mission and sent towards mankind as bearer of divine religious laws and a divine book by Allah, the Merciful.
Nuh (AS) invited the people of those days to monotheism and belief in the Oneness of Allah and asked them to refrain from polytheism and idolatry. As evident from his stories in the Holy Qur’an, Nuh (AS) seriously struggled to settle class distinctions and to eradicate injustice and cruelty. He notified the people of his teachings by way of reasoning which was something new to the people of those days.
After a long period of suffering with ignorant, stubborn, and unruly people, Nuh (AS) guided only a small group of people. Thus, by means of Nuh’s (AS) Deluge, the Almighty Allah annihilated unbelievers and cleansed the earth of their defiled entity. Nuh (AS) and a group of his followers who were saved laid the cornerstone of a religious society over again.
This Holy Prophet (SA) is the founder of the religious laws of monotheism and the first divine representative who struggled against cruelty, injustice, and rebellion. Owing to his valuable services rendered to the divine religion, he is allotted a praise and greeting by Allah, a praise which will remain alive and perpetual as long as mankind exists.
“Peace and salutation to Nuh among the nations (37:79).”
(2) PROPHET IBRAHIM (AS)
A long time elapsed after Nuh. (AS). Although many prophets, such as Hud, Salih, and others also led the people towards Allah and righteousness, the polytheism and idolatry flourished day by day and finally became universal. By His sublime wisdom, the Almighty Allah appointed Ibrahim (AS) (prophet Abraham) as a prophet.
Ibrahim (AS) was a perfect example of a man with innate disposition who searched for truth with his pure and immaculate nature. He found out the oneness of Allah and struggled against polytheism and injustice all his life.
As revealed by the Holy Qur’an and confirmed by the ahadith of the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (Members of the Household of the Prophet Muhammad [SA]), Ibrahim (AS) spent his childhood in a cave away from the clamours of people and the tumultuous urban life. He only saw his mother who carried food and water for him from time to time.
One day he came out of his cave and followed his mother to town and paid a visit to his uncle, Adhar, but everything seemed new and interesting to him. Amidst thousands of bewilderments and wonders and with utmost impatience and calmness, his immaculate nature focussed on the creation of things that he saw, trying to find out the secret of their existence and the cause of their creation. He saw idols which Adhar and others carved and worshipped. Ibrahim (AS) asked about their identity, but the explanation he got about their divinity was not convincing. He saw a group of people who worshipped venus, others who worshipped the moon, and yet another group who worshipped the sun. Their divinity was unbelievable to Ibrahim (AS) because each one of them set after a few hours.
After these incidents, Ibrahim (AS), fearlessly, announced his worshipping of the Almighty Allah and his disgust of polytheism and idolatry. He thought of nothing but struggle against idolatry and polytheism. He struggled against id ol-worshippers tirelessly and relentlessly and invited them towards monotheism.
Finally, he found a way to the idol-temple and broke the idols. Because of this deed, which people regarded as the greatest crime, Ibrahim (AS) was put to trial. After completion of the formalities, Ibrahim (AS) was thrown into the fire, but Allah saved him and he came out of the fire unharmed.
After a while, Ibrahim (AS) emigrated from his original birthplace, Babylon, to Syria and Palestine and continued his invitation of monotheism there.
In the last days of his life, he was blessed with two children: Ishaq (AS) (Prophet Isaac), the father of Isra’il (AS) and Isma’il (AS) (Prophet Ishmael), the father of ‘Arab Mudar. By the order of Allah, Isma’il (AS), in infancy, and his mother were taken to Hijaz by Ibrahim (AS). They settled around Mount Tuhamah in an arid and barren land without inhabitants. In this manner, Ibrahim (AS) invited the nomadic Arabs to monotheism. Then he built Ka’bah and described the rites of Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) which remained prevalent among the Arabs until the advent of Islam and the call of Prophet Muhammad (SA).
Ibrahim (AS) was endowed with the innate religion. According to the explicit wording of the Holy Qur’an, he had a divine book. He was the first person to call the divine religion as “Islam” and it’s followers as “Muslims”. Indeed, the religions of the world advocating monotheism, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam terminate at Ibrahim (AS), because Musa (AS), ‘Isa (AS), and Prophet Muhammad (SA), the leaders of the aforementioned three religions, were all the descendants of Ibrahim (AS) and had followed his path of call and invitation to monotheism.
(3) PROPHET MUSA (AS)
Musa (AS) (Prophet Moses) ibn ‘Imran is the third of the Ulul’azm Anbiya’ and is bestowed with a book and shari’ah (divine religious laws). He was a descendant of Isra’il (AS) or Y’aqub (AS) (Prophet Jacob).
Musa (AS) had a tumultuous life. He was born at a time when the Israelites were living in Egypt among Gipsies in a state of abjectness and servitude and when their sons were beheaded by the order of Fir’awn (Pharaoh*).
The mother of Musa (AS), according to the order given to her while asleep, placed Musa (AS), in a wooden box and left him in the Nile River. The water carried the box directly to the castle of Fir’awn.
By the order of Fir’awn, the box was picked up. When they opened it, they found a baby inside.
Because of the insistence of the queen, Fir’awn dispensed with killing the child. Since they did not have a son, they adopted him as their own son and put him under the care of a nurse (who was incidentally his own mother)
Up to the early stages of his youth, Musa (AS) lived in the palace of Fir’awn. Then, after an accidental murder, fearing Fir’awn, he ran away from Egypt. He went to Madyan and met Prophet Shu’ayb (Jethro) (AS). He married one of Shu’ayb’s daughters and grazed his sheep for a few years. After a few years, he reminisced his birthplace, took his wife with him, and set out for Egypt, carrying his belongings along. On his way, when he reached Mount Sinai at night, he was assigned to prophetic mission by the Almighty Allah. He was chosen by Allah to invite Fir’awn to the religion of Tawhid, to liberate the Israelites from the yoke of the Gipsies, and to designate his brother, Harun (Aaron), as his minister. But after he announced his mission and communicated the divine message, Fir’awn who was an idol-worshipper and who had also introduced himself to the people of Egypt as one of the gods, did not accept Musa’s (AS) prophetic mission and refused to grant freedom to the Israelites.
Although for many years Musa (AS) invited people to tawhid and showed many miracles, Fir’awn and his people showed no reaction other than toughness and moroseness. Finally, by the order of Allah, Musa (AS) emigrated the Israelites and went from Egypt to Sinai desert at night. When they reached the Red sea, Fir’awn, too, came to know and chased them with his army.
Through a miracle, Musa (AS) split the water of the sea and crossed it along with his people, but Fir’awn and his army were drowned. After this event, Allah revealed the Tawrat to Musa (AS) and established the Shari’ah of Musa (AS) among the Israelites.
* In Egypt, kings were called “Pharaohs”.
(4) PROPHET ‘ISA (AS)
Prophet ‘Isa (AS) is the fourth of the Ulul’azm Anbiya’ bestowed with a book and shari’ah. The circumstances of his birth were unusual. His mother, Maryam, a pious virgin, was worshipping Allah (in Jerusalem) when Ruhulqudus or Jibril (Gabriel) descended from heavens, gave her the good tidings of ‘Isa’s (AS) birth; and by Jibril’s breathing on her sleeves, Maryam became pregnant with ‘Isa (AS).
After his birth, ‘Isa (AS) began to speak in the cradle in defence of his m other against unfair calumnies attributed to her. He also informed the people about his Nubuwwah and divine book (Injil). Later, in his youth, he proceeded to invite the people and revived the shari’ah of Musa (AS) with minor modifications. He sent missionaries from among his hawaris (disciples) to the surrounding places. After his call was spread among the people, the Jews (his ummah) embarked on killing him, but Allah saved him, and the Jews caught someone else in his place and crucified him.
It should be pointed out here that the Almighty Allah, in the Holy Qur’an, confirms a divine book called the “Injil” for ‘Isa (AS), which was revealed to him. It is different from the Gospels written after ‘Isa (AS) about his life and call. Among them, four Gospels compiled by Luke, Mark, Matthew, and John are formally recognized by Christians.
(5) PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SA) IBN ‘ABDILLAH
The biography of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SA) ibn Abdillah is clearer than those of all prophets preceding him, because as a result of the lapse of time and historical changes, their books, shari’ahs, and even their personalities have been distorted and their biographies have become ambiguous.
In fact, there are no clear documents other than those imparted to us through the divine book of Islam, viz, Qur’an and the speeches and statements of Prophet Muhammad (SA) and the Ahl al-Bayt (AS). But there is a clear history on the life of Prophet Muhammad (SA) which describes the characteristics of his life adequately.
The Holy Prophet (SA) of Islam is the last prophet appointed by the Almighty Allah to lead the people of the world.
Fourteen centuries ago, mankind lived in such a condition that nothing was left of Tawhid except nominally and when people had completely deviated from Tawhid and theism. Human manners and justice had died away in their society. Holy Ka’bah had turned into an idol-temple and the religion of Ibrahim (AS) had converted into idolatry.
Arabs led a tribal life and even a few of their cities in Hijaz and Yemen and elsewhere were governed in the same tribal manner. The Arabs lived in the meanest and most backward conditions. Instead of culture and civilization, they indulged in unchastity, sensuality, alcoholism, and gambling. They buried their daughters alive. Most people subsisted by Way of theft, banditry, murder, and plundering each other’s belongings, livestock, and cattle. Cruelty and bloodshed were regarded as the greatest honours.
In such an environment, the compassionate Allah appointed Prophet Muhammad (SA) to reform and lead the people of the world. Allah revealed the Holy Qur’an to him, consisting of divine education, theism, the ways of implementation of justice, and beneficial advice. Allah commissioned him to invite people toward humanity and adherence to the truth using that divine authentic Book, Qur’an.
Prophet Muhammad (SA) was born in the city of Makkah in 570 AD (53 years before Hijrah) in the noblest and most honourable Arab family.
Muhammad’s (SA) father died before he was born. He lost h is mother when he was six years old. After two years, his grandfather (Abdul Muttalib), who was his guardian, died. Then the Prophet (SA) was put under the guardianship of his kind uncle, Abu Talib (the father of the Leader of the Faithful, ‘Ali [AS]).
Abu Talib held him den just like one of his own children. Until a few months before Hijrah, he always did his best for the protection and support of Muhammad (SA) and he was never negligent.
The Arabs of Makkah, like other Arabs, indulged in breeding sheep and camels. They sometimes used to trade with neighbouring countries, especially with Syria. They were illiterate people who made no effort to educate their children.
Like all his people, the Prophet (SA), too, had not learnt to read and write, but from the beginning of his life, he was privileged by having a series of praiseworthy attributes. He never worshipped idols, lied, and committed theft and treachery. He guarded against evil, disrespectful, and indecent actions and was wise and efficient. Therefore, he gained considerable popularity among the people within a short period and became known as “Muhammad al-Amin” meaning “Muhammad the trustworthy”. The Arabs often entrusted him with their belongings and talked about his honesty and efficiency. When he was about twenty years old, a wealthy lady of Makkah, Khadijah al-Kubra, designated him as her representative in commercial trade. As a result of his truthfulness, honesty, wisdom, and efficiency, she earned a great deal of profit. She was naturally attracted by the personality and magnanimity of the Holy Prophet (SA) more than ever and finally proposed to him for marriage. Afterwards also for years, she continued commercial works with her husband.
Being considered as one of the people, the Holy Prophet (SA) had an ordinary association with people until the age of forty. Of course, he differed from them in that he had a praiseworthy and decent behaviour and guarded against indecent deeds and conducts which had spoiled others. He did not possess cruelty, hard-heartedness, and status consciousness, thus had earned the respect and confidence of people. It was such that when the Arabs were reconstructing the House of Ka’bah, a quarrel and dispute arose among the tribes on the erection of Al-Hajar al-Aswad (the Black Stone). The people unanimously chose the Holy Prophet (SA) as an arbitrator. He then ordered the people to spread a cloak to place Al-Hajar al-Aswad within. The nobles of the tribes lifted the sides of the cloak and the Holy Prophet (SA) installed the Al-Hajar al-Aswad in its place, thus bringing the conflict of the people to an end without any massacre and bloodshed.
Before his Al-Bi’that al-Nabawiyyah (appointment for prophethood), although the Holy Prophet (SA) worshipped Allah and refrained from idol-worshipping, the people did not bother about him because he did not explicitly struggle against the superstitious beliefs of idolatry. The same applied to those belonging to other religions such as Jews and christians, who lived respectfully among the Arabs without being bothered by them.
THE INCIDENT OF MONK BUHAYRA
While the Holy Prophet (SA) lived with his uncle, Abu Talib, and while he had not yet reached adolescence, Abu Talib set out for Damascus on business and also took the Holy Prophet (SA) along.
It was a massive caravan and a great number of people travelled along with a huge quantity of merchandise until they arrived in Syria and entered the city of Busra. In the vicinity of a monastery, they pitched a tent and took rest. A monk, whose title was “Buhayra”, came out of the monastery and invited them to a feast. Everybody accepted Buhayra’s invitation and entered the monastery. Leaving his nephew, Muhammad (SA) with his belongings, Abu Talib also attended the feast along with others.
Buhayra asked: “Is everybody present?” Abu Talib replied, “Everybody is here except a youth who is the youngest of all.” Buhayra said: “Bring him along as well!” Abu Talib called on the Holy Prophet (SA) who was standing under an olive tree and came to the monk.
Buhayra cast a deep glance at the Holy Prophet (SA) and said: “come a little bit closer, I have something to tell you.” Then, he took the Holy Prophet (SA) aside. Abu Talib also went near them.
Buhayra told the Holy Prophet: “I am going to ask you a question and, by swearing on Lat and ‘Uzza, would you answer me” (Lat and ‘uzza were the names of two idols worshipped by the people of Makkah).
The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “These two idols are the most hated ones to me”.
Buhayra said: “By swearing on Allah, would you tell the truth”. The Holy Prophet said: “I always speak the truth and I have never told a lie; you ask your question”.
Buhayra asked: “What do you like the most”?
The Holy Prophet (SA) answered: “Loneliness”.
Buhayra asked: “What do you look the most at and what do you like to look at”?
The Holy Prophet said: “The sky and the stars within it”.
Buhayra asked: “What do you think of”?
The Holy Prophet (SA) remained silent, but Buhayra carefully glanced at his forehead.
Buhayra asked: “When do you sleep and with what thoughts”?
The Holy Prophet stated: “When I fix my eyes upon the sky, I see the stars and I find them in my lap and myself above them”.
Buhayra asked: “Do you see dream also”?
He stated: “Whatever I see in dream, the same I see while I am awake.”
Buhayra asked: “What do you dream of, as an example”?
The Holy Prophet (SA) kept quiet, Buhayra also kept quiet.
After a while, Buhayra asked: “May I take a look at the centre of your shoulders”?
The Holy Prophet (SA), while standing still, stated: “Come and see.”
Buhayra stood up, came closer, and pulled the dress of the Holy Prophet (SA) off his shoulders. A mole appeared. Buhayra took a look and said in a murmuring voice: “He is the very person”.
Abu Talib asked: “Which one? What do you mean”?
Buhayra said: “Tell me, what is your relationship with this youth”?
Since Abu Talib loved the Holy Prophet (SA) as one of his own children, he said: “He is my son”.
Buhayra said: “No, the father of this youth must have died”.
“How do you know”? said Abu Talib; “That is true, this youth is my nephew”.
Buhayra told Abu Talib “Listen, this youth will have a very bright and astonishing future. If others see what I have seen and recognize him, they will kill him. Hide and protect him from the enemies”.
Abu Talib said: “Tell me, who is he”?
Buhayra replied: “His eyes bear the signs of the eyes of a prominent prophet and a clear mark of prophethood is on his back”.
THE STORY OF MONK NESTORIUS
After a few years, the Holy Prophet, acting as a representative, set out for Damascus once again along with the merchandise belonging to Khadijah al-Kubra. Khadijah sent her servant, Masirah, along with the Holy Prophet (SA) and advised him to fully obey his orders. In this trip, too, when they arrived in Syria, they landed under a tree in the vicinity of the city of Busra. There was a monastery belonging to a monk called “Nestorius” who was acquainted with Masirah.
Nestorius asked Masirah: “Who is the man resting underneath that tree”?
Masirah replied: “He is a person from the family of Quraysh”.
The monk said: “under this tree, no one but a prophet from among the prophets of Allah has lodged or can lodge”.
He added: “Is there redness in his eyes”.
Masirah said: “Yes, his eyes are always like this”.
The monk said: “That’s it. He is the last prophet of the prophets of Allah. I wish I could find out the day when he will invite the people.”
GOOD TIDINGS GIVEN BY THE JEWS
Many Jewish tribes, having read about the attributes and location of the Holy Prophet (SA) in their books, had left their homeland for Hijaz and taken abode in Madinah and its suburbs, waiting for the advent of the Holy Prophet (SA), the Ummi (unschooled). As they were a group of wealthy and rich people, the Arabs used to disturb them from time to time and robbed them of their belongings.
Complaining against the injustice of the Arabs, the Jews told them that they would tolerate their cruelty and robbery until the migration of the Ummi prophet from Makkah to Madinah. They said that on that day, they would have their faith in him and would take vengeance on them. One of the main factors that led to the rapid belief of the people of Madinah in the Holy Prophet (SA) was the memory they had about these news. Finally, they acknowledged their faith, but the Jews refrained from believing in him due to their strong communalism and prejudice.
QUR’AN’S REFERENCE TO PROPHETIC TIDINGS
In His words the Almighty Allah refers to these good tidings in many instances. Regarding the faith of a group of people endowed with a book, the Qur’an states:
“Those who follow the Apostle-Prophet, the Ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Tawrat and the Injl, (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them…(7:157).”
Again, He states:
“And when there came to them a Book from Allah verifying that which they already had, and aforetime they were seeking victory against those who disbelieved – yet when there came to them that (Book) which they had recognized, they disbelieved in it…(2:89).”
FROM AL-BI’THAT AL-NABAWIYYAH
TO THE HIJRAH
In the gloomy atmosphere of the Arabian Peninsula that can literally be called “the swamp of misery” and the centre of corruption and in a world full of cruelty and injustice, the Almighty Allah appointed His Prophet (SA) as a blessing for the people of the world and ordered him to invite the people to Tawhid and worshipping the One Allah. He also ordered him to call people to justice, righteousness, and strengthening their social relations. Allah also ordered him to rise in observance of truth and follow the path of the followers of righteousness and to lay the foundation of man’s prosperity on the basis of faith, piety, cooperation, and self-sacrifice.
Initially, the Holy Prophet (SA) was charged with the responsibility of inviting the people. Since the environment was full of obstinacy, ruthlessness, and injustice, the Prophet (SA) talked his mission over only with people who were more or less susceptible to conversion. Thus a limited number of people believed in him and (according to narrations) the first man was ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), the son of his uncle and educated by the Prophet (SA) himself, and the first woman was his wife Khadijah al-Kubra (AS).
Then, Muhammad (SA) was commissioned to invite his close relatives and companions (who were about forty people) to his house and described his divine mission. Then, by the order of Allah, the Holy Prophet (SA) proceeded to an overt and public invitation, thus bringing forward the luminous torch of divine guidance from within the house to the arena of the world.
The reaction of the Arabs, especially the people of Makkah, was very severe against this invitation specifically after it was publicized. Unbelievers and polytheists responded negatively, savagely, and in a cruel way to this immaculate and pure invitation without using any proper logic whatsoever.
Sometimes, they called the Holy Prophet (SA) a soothsayer and magician, while at times they called him lunatic and poet and used to make fun of him. Whenever he wanted to invite the people to the newly-grown religion of Islam or wanted to worship Allah, the people used to make noise and disrupt his actions. They threw garbage and thorns on his head and used to beat and abuse him. Sometimes, they stoned him, while at times, they tried to allure him by giving enticing and sweet promises such as of wealth and leadership, so that through these means they could shake up his resolution and determination. But the Holy Prophet (SA) displayed no weakness and withdrawal. Sometimes, he regretted and became sad because of the ignorance and stubbornness of his people. In this regard, Qur’anic verses were frequently revealed by which the Almighty Allah expressed His consolation to him and ordered him to be patient and forbearing. Sometimes, verses were revealed to prohibit the Holy Prophet (SA) from showing the least willingness to the remarks of the people or from displaying any weakness and leniency.
Those who believed in the Holy Prophet (SA) were severely tortured and punished by the kafirin. In many instances, they died under torture. Sometimes, the matter became so serious that they were tortured to the extreme and then they sought the permission of the Holy Prophet (SA) to start a bloody movement and finalize their destinies. The Holy Prophet (SA) said: “I do not have an order from the Almighty Allah in this respect. You must wait”. A group of people took their belongings with them and left their homeland due to the heavy pressure on them.
After a while, things became much harder on the Muslims due to the extreme torture. The Holy Prophet (SA) allowed his disciples to migrate to Ethiopia to be relieved of the torture and harassment of their people for a while. This group of people, led by Ja’far ibn Abi Talib, the brother of ‘Ali (AS) (Ja’far was one of the most trusted friends of the Holy Prophet [SA]), migrated to Ethiopia along with their families.
After being informed of the Hijrah of the Muslims, the Kafirin of Makkah sent two of their experienced men, along with a large number of gifts and souvenirs, to the king of Ethiopia, requesting the extradition of the immigrants of Makkah. Bu t with a speech delivered in the presence of the king of Ethiopia, Ja’far ibn Abi Talib explained the entirely illuminating personality of the Holy Prophet (SA) and the sublime principles of Islam for the king, the Christian priests, and top authorities present at the time. He also cited several Qur’anic verses of Surah (Chapter) Maryam.
The immaculate statements of Ja’far ibn Abi Talib were so attractive that the king and the audience started shedding tears. Thus the king rejected the request of the people of Makkah and declined all gifts and souvenirs sent to him. The king issued instructions to provide all means of convenience, peace, and comfort for the immigrant Muslims in every respect.
After this event, the Kafirin of Makkah decided to break their relations with Banu Hashim (family of Hashim) who were the relatives of the Holy Prophet (SA) and his followers. They also decided to totally stop all relations, discourse, and transactions with them. In this respect, they wrote a special agreement, got it signed by everyone, and left it in Ka’bah.
Banu Hashim, accompanied by the Holy Prophet (SA), had to inevitably leave Makkah and take refuge in a valley known as “Shi’b Abi Talib” and lived there almost in utmost hardship and hunger. In this period, no one dared to come out of the Shi’b. During the days, they had to endure the burning heat and in the nights, they were faced with the wailing of women and children.
After three years, as a result of the obliteration of the agreement and because of the denouncement by the tribes settled around, the unbelievers dispensed with their agreement and Banu Hashim came out of their refuge.
But at that time, Abu Talib, who was the lone supporter of the Holy Prophet (SA), and also Khadijah al-Kubra, the kind wife of the Holy Prophet (SA), died. As a result, things became much harder for the Holy Prophet (SA) and he was unable to appear in public or reveal his identity to anyone, or stay in a specific place. Altogether, he had no life-security.
A TRIP TO TA’IF
The year in which the Holy Prophet (SA) and Banu Hashim came out of the Shi’b Abi Talib, was l3th year after al-Bi’that al-Nabawiyyah. The Holy Prophet (SA) made a short trip to Ta’if (a city about 100 kilometres from Makkah) at that time and invited the people of Ta’if to embrace Islam. But the ignorant people of Ta’if attacked him from every place, abused and stoned him, and at last drove him out of the city.
The Holy Prophet (SA) returned to Makkah from Ta’if and remained there for a while. But since he had no security of his life, he did not appear among the people. Since the circumstances were favourable to exterminate the Holy Prophet (SA), the elders of Makkah assembled in Darun-Nadwah, which was like a consultative assembly and hatched up the final plot in a secret session to exterminate him once and for all. The plot was designed to select one man from each Arab tribe. The selected men were then to rush into the house of the Holy Prophet (SA) collectively and kill him. The purpose of selecting one representative from each tribe was to prevent the relatives of the Holy Prophet (SA) from rising in revenge and from fighting with all those tribes who would direct the murder. Also the participation of one person from Banu Hashim would also keep the mouths of Banu Hashim shut regarding this matter.
This decision was finalized. About forty people from various tribes were nominated to kill the Holy Prophet (SA). They surrounded his house at night, so as to enter it at dawn in order to carry out their plot, but the divine will was above the determination of these people and thwarted their plans. The Almighty Allah sent His revelation to the Holy Prophet (SA), informed him of their intention, and ordered him to come out of Makkah at night itself and set out for Madinah.
The Holy Prophet (SA) informed ‘Ali (AS) of the current situation, ordered him to sleep in his place, and gave him his last wills. He left the house at night and seeing Abu Bakr along the way, he took him also along and set out for Madinah.
Some of the dignitaries of Madinah had already met the Holy Prophet (SA) in Makkah and had expressed their faith prior to his Hijrah. They had also made an agreement to support and vindicate the Holy Prophet (SA), if he came to Madinah, just as they would defend their own life and honour.
THE HIJRAH OF THE HOLY PROPHET (SA)
The Holy Prophet (SA) reached a cave in Mount Thawr near Makkah and hid there for three days. After three days, he left the cave and continued his journey until he reached Madinah where he was welcomed by the people of Madinah.
On the other side, the infidels of Makkah who had surrounded the house of the Holy Prophet (SA) at night, dashed inside at dawn, and went to his bed with their swords pulled out. They unexpectedly found ‘Ali (AS) sleeping in the bed of the Holy Prophet (SA). As soon as they found out that the Holy Prophet (SA) had left Makkah, they began searching for him around Makkah, but after a thorough search they returned with a great disappointment.
The Holy Prophet (SA) stayed in Madinah where the people most willingly converted to Islam and wholeheartedly supported him. The city of Madinah turned into an Islamic city. Until then, this city was called “Yathrib”, but after this occurrence, it assumed the name of “Madinat al-Rasul” (the City of Prophet) and became the first Islamic city. Of course, although munafiqin (hypocrites), the Arab minorities of Madinah who formed about one-third of the city’s population, being scared of the majority, pretended to be Muslims.
The sun of Islam began shining in the clear sky of Madinah and began shedding its light. In the first place, the state of conflict which had existed for many years between the two main tribes of Aws and Khazraj turned into peace and compromise. The believers of Madinah encircled like butterflies around the candle of prophetic mission. Gradually, the tribes in the territory of Madinah embraced Islam and the divine precepts descended one after the other and were implemented. Everyday one of the roots of corruption and indecent behaviour was eradicated and replaced by piety and justice. Gradually, the followers of Islam, who had remained in Makkah after the Holy Prophet’s (SA) Hijrah and were under the harassment and severe torture by the unbelievers, left their homes and fled to Madinah where they were received with warm hospitality by their religious brethren.
Muslims who had remained in Makkah gradually migrated and gathered in Madinah. These people were called muhajirin (immigrants) and the believers in the city of Madinah were called “Ansar”(helpers).
There were many tribes of Jews in Madinah, its suburbs, Khaybar, and Fadak whose information and scholars constantly notified the Arabs of Madinah of the good tidings of the Holy Prophet’s (SA) mission. But when these tribes were invited to Islam after the Hijrah, they did not accept this invitation and turned away from Islam. Finally, a non-aggression treaty was signed between the Jews and Muslims with specific terms.
The rapid advancement of Islam seriously annoyed the unbelievers of Makkah and increased their wrath and animosity towards the Holy Prophet (SA) and the followers of Islam. They were after a pretext to disrupt the unity of the followers of Islam. On the other hand, the followers of Islam, too, especially the Muhajirin of Makkah who were quite unhappy with the unbelievers, expected a divine permission to punish the cruel unbelievers for their evil deeds and to liberate their women, innocent children, and helpless old people living under persecution and torture in Makkah.
THE BATTLE OF BADR
The first battle between the Muslims and the unbelievers of Makkah took place at Badr (a valley between Makkah and Madinah) in the second year of the Hijrah. In this battle, the number of fully equipped unbelievers was about one thousand. The Muslims were about one-third of them and lacked all necessary war equipment, but divine dispensation afforded the Muslims a bright victory and defeated the unbelievers in the worst possible way.
Suffering heavy casualties and many captives and losing their entire stock of equipment in this battle, the mushrikin (polytheists) ran away to Makkah. It is said that in this battle, seventy unbelievers were killed, out of which almost half of them were killed by the sword of ‘Ali (AS). Also seventy people from the unbelievers were taken as captives.
THE BATTLE OF UHUD
In the third year of Hijrah, the unbelievers of Makkah, led by Abu Sufyan again rushed towards Madinah with three thousand men (and according to one narration with five thousand men). They confronted the Muslims at Uhud outside Madinah. In this battle, the Holy Prophet (SA). arrayed seven hundred Muslims to face the enemy. In the beginning of the battle, the Muslims had the upper hand again, but after a few hours due to the mistake of some Muslims, the army of Islam was defeated. At this time, the unbelievers attacked from all sides and the Muslims suddenly found themselves surrounded on all sides by the swords of unbelievers.
In this battle, the Muslims sustained heavy losses. Hamzah, the uncle of the Holy Prophet (SA), along with seventy other disciples of the Holy Prophet (SA) who were mostly Ansar were martyred. The forehead of the Holy Prophet (SA) was wounded and one of his front teeth broke. One of the unbelievers who inflicted a blow on the Holy Prophet’s (SA) shoulder shouted: “I killed Muhammad”. Hearing this, the army of Islam dispersed. Only ‘Ali (AS), along with a few men, remained steadfastly near the Holy Prophet (SA). All these were killed but ‘Ali (AS) resisted the enemy until the end of the battle and defended the Holy Prophet (SA).
On the last day, those who had fled away from the army of Islam gathered around the Holy Prophet (SA) once more and prepared for battle. But the army of Abu Sufyan, however, considered only that much success as enough, stopped fighting, and set out for Madinah.
After travelling a few kilometres, the army of the unbelievers seriously regretted why they had not pursued the battle to final victory and why they had not taken Muslims’ women and children as captives, and plundered their properties. They even got busy with consultation to attack Madinah once again, but received the information that the information that the army of Islam was following them to continue the battle. Having received this information, the unbelievers became intimidated, gave up the idea of returning to Madinah, and hastily set out for Makkah.
Surely what they had heard was true, because the Holy Prophet (SA), by the order of Allah, had mobilized an army from the injured who were led by ‘Ali (AS) to follow the enemy.
Although the Muslims sustained heavy casualties in this battle, in fact, it finished to the advantage of Islam and Muslims. The Muslims drew a more important conclusion out of this battle and experienced the inauspicious consequence of violating the order of the Holy Prophet (SA). Having given up the battle, both the confronting sides promised to fight another battle in Badr next year at the same time. The Holy Prophet (SA), with a group of his disciples, went to Badr on time, but the unbelievers refrained from coming.
After this battle, the Muslims became very well prepared and made advancement on all sides in the peninsula except in the region of Makkah and Ta’if.
THE BATTLE OF KHANDAQ
This was the third battle declared by the Arab unbelievers against the Holy Prophet (SA). It was also the last battle under the leadership of the people of Makkah. It was a very severe battle in which the unbelievershad fully equipped themselves with their forces and powers. In the history, this battle is known as the “Battle of Ahzab” and “Khandaq”.
After the battle of Uhud, the leaders of Makkah, led by Abu Sufyan, decided to inflict the final blow upon the Holy Prophet (SA) to put off the light of Islam for good. To this end, they instigated the Arab tribes and asked for their cooperation and assistance. In spite of the non-aggression treaty signed by the Jews and Muslims, the Jewish people also had secretly involved themselves with the plot and violated the treaty and signed a cooperation agreement with the unbelievers.
Thus, in the fifth year of Hijrah, a fully mobilized army comprising of Quraysh, various Arab tribes, and Jewish people rushed to Madinah totally equipped.
Having come to know of the intention of the enemy beforehand, the Holy Prophet (SA) consulted his disciples over the matter. After a long discussion, they dug a trench all around the city of Madinah according to the proposal of Salman al-Farisi who was an intimate Companion of the Holy Prophet (SA). They then got fortified within the city. After reaching Madinah, the army of the enemy found no way to enter the city. They inevitably besieged the city and started the battle in that position. The siege and battle continued for sometime.
It was in this battle only that ‘ Amr ibn ‘Abdwudd, a most renowned equestrian and a most famous brave man of Arabia, was killed by the powerful hands of ‘Ali (AS). Finally, as a result of wind, cold, the fatigue of the Arab idolaters from the extended duration of the siege, and the difference and separation between the Jews and Arabs, the siege got broken without any result; thus the army of the unbelievers dispersed from around Madinah.
BATTLE WITH THE JEWS – THE BATTLE
After the Battle of Khandaq, originally provoked by the Jews who cooperated with the Arab unbelievers and who had openly breached their treaty with Muslims, the Holy Prophet (SA) proceeded to punish the Jewish tribes in Madinah by the order of Allah. He fought several battles, all of which ended in the victory and triumph of Muslims. The most important of these battles was the Battle of Khaybar. The Jews of Khaybar had several fortifications in hand and a considerable number of belligerents with adequate equipment at their disposal.
In this battle, ‘Ali (AS) killed Marhab of Khaybar, the well-known hero of the Jews, and dispersed the Jewish army. Afterwards, he rushed to the Fort of Khaybar, unhinged its door, and entered the fort along with the army of Islam. He then hoisted the banner of victory on its top. With these very battles which ended in the fifth year of Hijrah, the problem of the Jews of Hijaz came to an end.
INVITING THE RULERS AND KINGS TO ISLAM
The Holy Prophet (SA) settled in Madinah. Gradually, a great number of the Muslims of Makkah, who were under the torture by the unbelievers, relinquished their homes and belongings and migrated to Madinah. Ansar also kept their promise and received them wholeheartedly.
The Holy Prophet (SA) constructed Masjid al-Nabi at Madinah. Other mosques were also built. Missionaries of Islam were sent to the outskirts and treaties were signed with Jewish tribes of Madinah and its suburbs and also with some Arab tribes. Thus Islam began to flourish with its enormous luminosity.
In the 6th year of the Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (SA) sent letters to the rulers and kings such as the King of Iran, Qaysar (Caesar) of Rome, Khedive of Egypt, and Al-Najashi (Negus) of Ethiopia and invited them to embrace Islam.
After some time, the unbelievers of Makkah breached the treaty and, as a result of this, the Holy Prophet (SA) decided to conquer Makkah. In the 8th year of the Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (SA) rushed to Makkah with ten thousand soldiers and conquered Makkah without any fighting and bloodshed. He also toppled and broke many idols placed in Ka’bah. People of Makkah accepted Islam. The Holy Prophet (SA) summoned all the leaders of Makkah, who had in the last 20 years shown their animosity and behaved inhumanely with him and his followers, and pardoned them all with utmost magnanimity and without showing the slightest harshness and moroseness.
THE BATTLE OF HUNAYN
After the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet (SA) proceeded to clear out the suburbs of the city and fought numerous battles with the Arab idol-worshippers, one of which was the Battle of Hunayn.
The Battle of Hunayn was one of the most important battles of the Holy Prophet (SA). It took place in the valley of Hunayn against the tribe of Hawazin. The army of Islam, with twelve thousand soldiers, arrayed in front of the army of Hawazin which was equipped with a few thousand men. A heavy battle took place between them.
In the beginning of the battle, Hawazin severely defeated the Muslims, so much so that everybody ran away, except Ali (AS) who was carrying the banner of Islam and a few others, who fought in front of the Holy Prophet (SA). But after a few hours, initially the Ansar and then other Muslims returned to their bases and defeated the enemy after a very heavy fighting. In this battle, five thousand enemies were taken as captives by the Muslims, but all of them were released by the Muslims at the request of the Holy Prophet (SA). The Holy Prophet (SA) bought the share of the dissatisfied Muslims by paying them money and released their captives.
THE BATTLE OF TABUK
In the 9th year of Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (SA) despatched an army to Tabuk (located at the borders of Hijaz and Damascus) to fight a battle with Rome, because the rumors had spread that the Qaysar of Rome was preparing an army comprised of Romans and Arabs in that area. The Battle of Mu’tah was previously fought there with Rome, leading to the martyrdom of the commanders of the army of Islam such as Ja’far ibn Abi Talib, Zayd ibn Harithah, and ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah.
The Holy Prophet (SA), with an army of thirty thousand soldiers, proceeded towards Tabuk, but the people gathering there had dispersed before the arrival of the army of Islam. The Holy Prophet (SA) stayed in Tabuk for three days, cleared out that territory, and then returned to Madinah.
Within ten years of his stay in Madinah, the Holy Prophet (SA) fought almost eighty major and minor battles other than those previously mentioned. The Holy Prophet (SA) personally participated in almost one-fourth of the number of these battles.
In the battles in which he participated, unlike other commanders who remained in shelters and only issued the orders for attacks and killing, the Holy Prophet (SA) himself took part in the battlefield along with other soldiers, but no occasion arose for him to embark upon killing anyone.
GHADIR KHUMM AND THE ISSUE OF SUCCESSION
Makkah was the last city whose conquest led to the absolute domination of Islam over the Arabian Peninsula. It has the Haram (Sacred premises) of Allah and the site of Ka’bah. This city fell in the hands of the army of Islam in the 8th year of Hijrah. Shortly afterwards, the city of Ta’if was also conquered.
In the 10th year of Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (SA) set out for Makkah to perform the Hijjatul Wada’ (last Hajj). After performing the Hajj manasik (rituals) and giving necessary instructions to the people, the Holy Prophet (SA) headed for Madinah. In the course of his journey, he ordered to stop the caravan at a place called “Ghadir (Pond) Khumm.” Among one hundred and twenty thousand Hujjaj (pilgrims) who had gathered for Hajj from all parts of the Arabian Peninsula, the Holy Prophet (SA) took ‘Ali’s hand in his own, lifted him up, and announced his Imamah (succession of Prophet Muhammad [SA]).
By this action, the matter of succession, which controls the affairs of the Muslims, guards the Book and ahadih, and protects the divine instructions and laws, was resolved. Thus the order given by Allah in the following Ayah was executed:
“O Messenger! deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message;…(5:67)”
Shortly, after returning to Madinah, the Holy Prophet (SA) passed away.
THE SETTLEMENT OF THE HOLY PROPHET (SA) IN MADINAH AND THE ADVANCEMENT OF ISLAM
The invitation of the Holy Prophet (SA) to Islam was widely extended in Madinah and it had embraced every home, association, district, and quarter. The people embraced Islam in groups and multitudes in such a way that the people in Makkah, Madinah, and all the tribes in the surrounding areas submitted to Islam. During the ten years of the Holy Prophet’s (SA) stay in Madinah, absolute domination of Islam established in the entire Arabian Peninsula.
In these ten years, the Holy Prophet (SA) was preoccupied with carrying out his mission and never took rest.
He received wahy and taught the people the sublime teachings of Islam concerning education, ethics, and laws revealed to him by the Almighty Allah. The Holy Prophet (SA) gave people the necessary advice, answered their questions, discussed and debated with the opponents and scholars of various nations especially those of the Jews, and managed the affairs of the country, thus enabling the people to administer lives.
In spite of all these preoccupations, the Holy Prophet (SA) devoted a considerable part of his time for worshipping Allah. He observed Sawm on many days of the year, that is to say, he observed Sawm almost continuously during the three consecutive months of Rajab, Sha’ban, and Ramadan and also observed Sawm for about a month on different occasions during the year. Sometimes, the Holy Prophet (SA) observed the Sawmul Wisal (continuous fasting) which was one of his special characteristics, i.e., he did not take anything for several consecutive days and nights. He used to spend some of his time in the management of household affairs and necessities of life. Also, at times, he spent his time to earn his subsistence.
The Almighty Allah has briefly mentioned the events of these ten years in His words:
“They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may be averse (61:8)”
Allah is the One who has sent His messenger with divine guidance and true religion to the people to make His religion dominant over all other religions and faiths, even if this is unpleasant for the polytheists.
As it is evident, this divine promise had been well realized during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (SA) and after his passing away to the present day when more than one billion Muslims live all over the world.
He also states:
“You are the best of the ummahs (peoples) raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah … (3:100)”
A GLANCE AT THE INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY PROPHET (SA)
According to authentic historical documents, the Holy Prophet (SA) was brought up in an atmosphere which was the meanest environment for living and was the centre of ignorance, corruption, and moral vices. In such an environment and without academic education, the Holy Prophet (SA) spent the period of his infancy and youth. Although the Holy Prophet (SA) never worshipped an idol and was never involved with inhumane demeanours; nevertheless, he was among such people, and his ordinary life did not indicate such an eventful future; indeed it was unbelievable on the part of a poor, unschooled, and inexperienced orphan.
The Holy Prophet (SA) spent some time in this way until during one night, while worshipping Allah with usual peace of mind and freedom from worldly affairs, he suddenly gained a different personality.
His quiet inner personality converted into a divine one. The Holy Prophet (SA) regarded the thoughts and beliefs of thousands of years of human societies as superstitious. With his realistic views, he considered the customs and rites of the inhabitants of the world as cruel and unjust. He linked the past and the future of the world and fully recognized the path of man’s prosperity. His observations and vision changed totally. He did not see or hear anything except the truth and reality. He began to speak of divine and heavenly words, wisdom, and guidance. His natural state of mind which was occupied with reforming daily routines in a poor atmosphere of trade and transaction grew stronger and, so he embarked on reforming the world and its inhabitants and subverting the thousands of years old organization of human aberration and cruelty. He rose to revive the truth and reality all by himself and challenged the terrifying and intense opposing forces of the world as if they were nothing. He talked about divine teachings and derived all the realities of existence from the Oneness of the Creator of the world.
The Holy Prophet (SA) described the sublime human ethics in the best possible manner and comprehended and clarified their relationships. He first believed what he said to anyone else. Also, he first carried out whatever he asked the people to do.
The religious laws and precepts brought forth by him consist of a series of worships and services which beautifully express the servitude of man towards the grandeur and power of the Almighty Allah. He brought other laws such as legal and penal laws which are completely interrelated and which are established on the basis of monotheism and respect for the sublime human ethics.
The set of laws brought by the Holy Prophet (SA) on worships and transactions is so comprehensive that it deals with every aspect of individual and social life that can be conceived of in the world of humanity, as well as various needs and requirements resulting from the lapse of time and issues instructions to fulfil them.
The Holy Prophet (SA) considered the laws of his religion as universal and everlasting, i.e. he believed that his religion is capable of eliminating the worldly and heavenly needs of all human societies for ever. He thought that the people must adopt the same stance in order to secure their prosperity. He frequently stated:
“The religion that I have brought guarantees y our worldly and heavenly prosperity and happiness.”
Surely, the Holy Prophet’s (SA) statement was not in vain and groundless, rather he arrived at this conclusion after studying the creation and foreseeing the future of the human world. In other words, firstly, after he recognized the complete harmony and coordination between his laws and the physical and mental creation of man and secondly, after he generally considered the changes that would take place in the future and the harms that would be done to the Muslim society, he passed a judgement on the durability and perpetuity of his religious precepts.
The prophecies of the Holy Prophet (SA), that have reached us through authentic documents, have described the general circumstances and conditions after his passing away up to the remote future.
The Prophet (SA) performed all these tasks in a period of twenty three years, out of which, he spent thirteen years under severe torture and harassment of the unbelievers of Makkah. He spent the remaining ten years in battles, campaigns, and external struggles against overt enemies; in domestic campaign against the munafiqin and trouble-makers;
and the management of the affairs of the Muslims, the reformation of their beliefs, ethics, and deeds, and thousands of other involvements.
The Holy Prophet (SA) achieved so much due to his firm resolution in pursuit of truth and its revival. His realistic views were only directed to truth. He did not follow what was contrary to truth even if it was in his own interest or in the interest of the public. He accepted wholeheartedly what was true and never refused it. On the other hand, he refused whatever was false and never accepted it.
THE SPIRITUAL PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY PROPHET (SA) WAS EXTRAORDINARY
If we impartially consider the subject already covered we will have no doubt that the appearance of such a personality in those conditions and circumstances was nothing but an extraordinary occurrence and miracle and had no reason other than the special support by Allah. Therefore, the Almighty Allah repeatedly mentions in Qur’an about the earlier unschooledness, orphanage, and poverty of the Holy Prophet (SA). The Almighty Allah states:
“Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? And find you unable to see and show the way? And find you in want and make you to be free from want? (93:6-8).”
Allah also states:
“And you did not recite before it any book, nor did you transcribe one with your right hand…(29:48).”
Again the Almighty Allah states:
“And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a chapter like it…(2:23).”
THE CHARACTER OF THE HOLY PROPHET (SA)
The only basis and principle upon which the Holy Prophet (SA) laid the foundation of his religion is the principle of Tawhid which he recognized as the source of the prosperity for the people of the world.
According to the principle of Tawhid only Allah is the Creator of the world and worthy of being worshipped. We must not bow down and pay homage to anyone except the Almighty Allah.
Thus the principle that must be practised in human societies is for all to act like brothers and be equal with one another and not to regard anyone as their unconditional sovereign except Allah.
As the Almighty Allah states:
“Say: O followers of the Book! come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate aught with Him, and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah… (3:64).”
The Holy Prophet (SA) pursued no objective other than the propagation of the religion of Tawhid. He invited the people to Tawhid by the best morality, the most cheerful disposition, and. the most convincing reasoning and proof. He also advised his friends to follow the same principle accordingly. As the Almighty Allah issued His order upon him:
“Say: ‘This is my way I call to Allah, 1 and those who follow me being certain…(12:108).”
On the basis of his character, the Holy Prophet (SA) regarded all people as brothers and equal to one another. He never showed prejudice in carrying out the divine precepts and penance. He did not discriminate between his acquaintance and the stranger, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, the man and the woman, the black and the white. He provided the people with their rights on the basis of the precepts and laws of religion and states: “Even if my daughter Fatimah, who is the most beloved of all people for me, commits a theft, I will cut off her hand.”
No one had the right of domineering, commanding, and oppressing others. The people enjoyed the utmost freedom outside the domain of the law (certainly freedom against law bears no meaning not only in Islam but also in any other social order).
This freedom and social justice is stated by the Almighty Allah in introducing His Holy Prophet (SA).
“Those who follow the Messenger Prophet, the Ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Tawrat and the Injl, (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them; so (as for) those who believe in him and honour him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are successful. Say: ‘O people! Surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you all’..(7:157-158).”
This is why the Holy Prophet (SA) desired no privileges for himself in his life. One could never tell that the Holy Prophet (SA) differentiated from other people someone having a former acquaintance with him. The Holy Prophet (SA) managed the chores of the house, welcomed everyone in person, and listened to those who turned to him out of need. He did not sit in the position and seat of honour. He did not have any means of riding and official protocol for moving from one place to another. If he earned some money, he would give to the needy over and above his necessary expenses.
At times, he gave even his least available money to the needy and lived with hunger. He always lived like the needy and associated with them. He did not display the slightest procrastination in granting the rights of the people, but he used the maximum connivance and condonation for his personal rights. When the dignitaries of Quraysh were brought before him after the conquest of Makkah, he did not display the slightest harshness and pardoned them all, although they had treated him most cruely before the Hijrah and had even provocated sedition after the Hijrah.
In his humane ethics and virtues, the Holy Prophet (SA) was conspicuously recognized among friends and foes. He was matchless in sociability, cheerfulness, forbearance, modesty, soberness, and dignity. As the Holy Qur’an has praised his munificent conduct by a statement:
“And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality (68:4).”
He took the lead in greeting those whom he met, even women, children, and subordinates. One of his friends asked his permission to bow down, i.e., to prostrate in front of him. The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “What do you mean? These are the customs of Caesar and Casra. And I am for prophecy and servitude”.
Ever since he was appointed to a mission by Allah to propagate the religion and to guide and lead the people, the Holy Prophet (SA) did not neglect his duty for a moment and did not refrain from his untiring efforts. Thirteen years before the Hijrah, when he was in Makkah although he faced unbearable difficulties caused by the Arab polytheists, the Holy Prophet (SA) was constantly engaged in the worship of Allah and the propagation of the religion of Allah. During the ten years after Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (SA) conveyed the teachings of religion and the laws of Islam with its amazing enormity to the people, despite the ever-increasing troubles made by the enemies of religion and the hindrances caused by the Jews and munafiqin pretending to be Muslims. The Holy Prophet (SA) also fought more than eighty battles with the enemies of Islam.
In addition to handling the affairs of the Islamic society which at that time included the whole Arabian Peninsula, the Holy Prophet (SA) personally looked into the complaints and minor requirements of people without a doorkeeper and chamberlain attending on him.
With regard to the bravery and courage of the Holy Prophet (SA), it suffices to say that with his rightful invitation, he rose all alone against the world of that time which ruled the people with nothing other than coercion and injustice. All the tortures and sufferings inflicted on him by the oppressors never produced weakness and disappointment in him. He never retreated in any battle.
The Holy Prophet (SA) kept himself very clean and neat. He considered cleanliness and neatness as a sign of faith.
“Cleanliness is a part of the belief.”
In addition to the cleanliness and neatness of his clothes and body, the Holy Prophet (SA) was well-dressed and well-behaved also. Whenever he wanted to leave the house, he would set out in the best outward appearance. He particularly liked to use perfumes.
He never changed his disposition in the course of his life. His life came to an end with the same modesty and humbleness. Although he had such a valuable position, he never gave preference to himself to demonstrate his social value.
During his lifetime, the Holy Prophet (SA) never insulted anyone and never used empty remarks. He never laughed boisterously and never performed disrespectful and worthless deeds. He was highly interested in thinking and reflection. He listened to the remarks of every afflicted person and the complaints of every protestor and then replied. He never interrupted the speech of others and never marred the freedom of thought; however, he clarified their mistakes and eased their discomfort.
The Holy Prophet (SA) was very kind and tenderhearted and was always saddened by sufferings; nevertheless, he did not waver in punishing the criminals and the wicked and did not discriminate between the individuals in carrying out the divine laws.
Once a Jew and a Muslim were accused of a theft in the house of one of the Ansar. In this connection, a great crowd of Ansar went to the Holy Prophet (SA) and insisted that the Jew be punished for the sake of the prestige of the Muslims, specifically the Ansar and keeping in view the overt enmity of the Jews. Since the Holy Prophet (SA) discovered the truth contrary to what they had demanded, he openly supported the Jew and punished that Muslim man.
Amidst the throes of the Battle of Badr, when the Holy Prophet (SA) was personally organizing the arrays of the division, he saw a fighter standing a little bit ahead of the others. The Holy Prophet (SA) pressed his stick at the belly of the man to move him back a little and get him in line with others. The fighter said, “O, Messenger of Allah! I swear by Allah that my stomach is hurt and I should go for qisas (Islamic reprisal)”. Giving the stick to the man, the Holy Prophet (SA) pushed his dress aside from his stomach and said, “Go for qisas“. The man ran towards the Holy Prophet (SA), kissed his stomach, and said, “I know that 1 will be killed today and I wanted to touch your holy body”. Then he attacked the enemy and stroke with his sword until he was martyred.
The Holy Prophet (SA) always patronized the weak and the oppressed and urged his friends to inform him of the exigency of the needy and of the complaints of the weak and not to procrastinate in this regard.
It is related that the Holy Prophet’s (SA) last words were a recommendation to the people regarding the slaves and women, after which he ceased speaking and passed away.
Peace be upon him and his holy family.
THE HOLY PROPHET’S (SA) LAST WILL
TO THE MUSLIMS
The world of humanity, like other components of the world of existence, is subjected to change and transformation. The intense differences seen in the structure of human beings have generated various tastes, as a result of which people vary in the quickness and dullness of perception and comprehension and in the retention and forgetfulness of thoughts.
Thus beliefs, customs and traditions which govern a society will be subject to change and distortion in the shortest time and will be eliminated, unless they have a stable root and trustworthy and reliable guardians. By observation and experience, this matter will be thoroughly clear to us.
To safeguard against this danger, the Holy Prophet (SA) introduced a strong and steady document and qualified guardians for his universal and everlasting religion and recommended the Divine Book (Holy Qur’an) and the Ahl al-Bayt (AS). Thus all Islamic sects, as concatenation, have related that the Holy Prophet (SA) had repeatedly stated: “I entrust you with two valuable things, one of which is the Holy Book (Qur’an) and the other my Ahl al-Bayt. These two will never be dissociated from each other and you will not be led astray as long as you will remain associated with them”.
THE HOLY QUR’AN
The Holy Qur’an, which is the Divine Book and the proof for the Nubuwwah of the Holy Prophet (SA), is the main source of Islamic laws and education. The Holy Qur’an consists of the words of the Almighty Allah and the knowledge descended to the Holy Prophet (SA) from the source of Glory and the Position of Divinity and Magnificence through the path of prosperity is shown to man.
The Holy Qur’an presents the human world with a series of practical and scientific matters, through the application of which, man attains prosperity in this world and the world Hereafter.
The Holy Qur’an gradually descended to the Holy Prophet (SA) during the twenty-three years of his call and invitation to Islam and responded to the needs of the human society.
In its statements, the Holy Qur’an only aims at leading the people to prosperity. It teaches rightful beliefs, praiseworthy ethics, and decent deeds, all of which are the pillars of the prosperity of man and human society, with an expressive statement:
“…And We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything…(16:89).”
The Holy Qur’an has described Islamic sciences in brief. For further details, specifically for the explanation of jurisprudential matters, the Holy Qur’an directs the people to Nubuwwah, as the Holy Qur’an states:
“…And We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them… (16:44).”
“And We have not revealed to you the Book except that you may make clear to them that about which they differ…(16:64).”
Without inviting the people to follow blindly, the Holy Qur’an talks to them in their own ordinary language and Allah-given logic. It reminds them of a series of known facts which man perceives willy-nilly through his nature. It mentions that man can never avoid accepting and admitting them.
The Almighty Allah states:
“Most surely it is a decisive word, and it is no joke (86:13-14).”
As far as the scope of its logic is concerned, the matters stated by the Holy Qur’an are valid and everlasting for all the times and for all the people. They are not like people’s ordinary remarks which are judged from only a few points of view within the limited capacity of knowledge and thinking and which can be neglected and disregarded due to other factors of negligence and lack of care. The Holy Qur’an is the “Word of the Almighty Allah” which encompasses every apparent and hidden aspect and is aware of every good intention and mischief.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon every Muslim to use his realistic views, to remember this holy Ayah and consider the “Word of Allah” as enduring and everlasting. He must not be convinced with what others have perceived and said. He must not keep himself dependent on free thinking, which is man’s only special virtue and whose use is emphasized by the Holy Qur’an. This is because the Holy Book of Allah is a decisive document and an enduring reason for all times and for all the people. Thus, such a Holy Book will not be limited to the perception of a particular group of people.
The Almighty Allah states:
“…And (that) they should not be like those who were given the Book before, but the time became prolonged to them, so their hearts hardened…(57:16).”
The Holy Qur’an asks people to refer to their natures and to accept the truth. That is to say, to prepare themselves primarily for the unconditional acceptance of truth and to admit whatever is true. Their welfare in this world and in the world Hereafter depends on their acceptance of truth without responding to Satanic temptations and the call of carnal desires.
Then the Holy Qur’an asks people to present the intuitive knowledge of Islam to their own commonsense and resign themselves to it if they find it true and if they discover that its acceptance and implementation provides their true welfare and comfort. Surely in this way, the policy of human life and the religion practised in human society will consist of a series of rules and regulations which man demands through his instinctive desire and natural drives.
Finally, this will be a unified policy whose components and inputs will have complete compatibility with particular human characteristics and will completely refrain from contradiction and inconsistency. It will not be an inconsistent policy that at times originates from spiritualism and at others from materialism and that; in some instances, complies with commonsense, whereas in other cases, it is subordinate to carnal desires.
The Almighty Allah states the following Ayah in description of the Holy Qur’an:
“…Guiding to the truth and to a right path (46:30).”
Allah also states:
“Surely this Qur’an guides to that which is most upright… (17:9).”
In another verse, the Almighty Allah introduces the reason for this power and rightfulness of Islam to be the conformity of Islam with man’s creation, for it is self-evident that a policy and cause meeting the natural demands and true needs of man will make him happy and prosperous in the best possible manner.
“Then set your face upright for religion in the right state the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah’s creation; that is the right religion…(30:30).”
Again, the Almighty Allah states:
“…(This is) a Book which We have revealed to you that you may bring forth men from utter darkness into light… (14:1).”
The Holy Qur’an invites the people to follow the path of light which leads them to their ideal goals. It will inevitably be a path which properly responds to man’s natural demands that are his very actual requirements. It will also conform with the views of commonsense. This path is the very natural religion called “Islam”.
But a policy, which is established on the basis of carnal desires .and the satisfaction of human instincts, namely, lust and wrath of the influential men of the society, which is blindly adopted from the ancestors, and which undeveloped nations adopt from powerful and strong nations unquestionably and without conformity to logic and commonsense, is nothing but plunging into darkness. In fact, it is like travelling in a path which by no means guarantees man the achievement of his goal. The Almighty Allah states:
“Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like him whose likeness is that of one in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth?..(6:122).”
Finally, from all this, one can discover the importance and magnificence of this Holy Book from the viewpoint of Islam and Muslims. Besides, since its revelation fourteen centuries ago until the present time, the Holy Qur’an has always held an elevated position in various respects in different human societies. It has always drawn the attention of the people of the world.
Indeed, the Holy Qur’an is a Divine Book which supports the universal and everlasting religion of Islam. The generalities of the sublime teachings of Islam have been described in the Qur’an in an eloquent manner. In this regard, its worth equals the value of the religion of Allah. Furthermore, the Holy Qur’an is nothing but the words of Allah and is the everlasting miracle of the Holy Prophet (SA).
THE HOLY QUR’AN IS A MIRACLE
Certainly, Arabic is a strong and all-embracing language which can express the natural objectives of man in the most clear and precise manner. In this quality, no language can compete with Arabic.
History certifies that the Arabs of the age of “ignorance” (before the advent of Islam), who were mostly nomads and who were deprived of civilization and fully bereft of most privileges of life, held such an elevated place and position in the ability and eloquence of expression in Arabic language that nowhere in history can a competitor be found for them.
In the field of Arab literature, eloquent speech had the highest value. The people maintained a very high respect for elegant and literary speeches. They used to put up the interesting and pleasant poems of their top poets and writers on the walls of Ka’bah just as they erected their idols and gods in the Ka’bah. Although they used a language with such enormity and with all those standards and precise grammatical rules without the least error and mistake, they used to take great pains for the arrangement and embellishment of text of their speech.
In the early days when a few verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to the Holy Prophet (SA) and were read to people, a tumult got raised among the Arabs and their literati and poets. The attractive, very sweet, and meaningful statements of the Holy Qur’an imprinted on the hearts and impressed the wise people in such a way that they forgot all eloquent literary works and brought down the lustrous and deep poems of the great poets called “Al-Mu’allaqat” which were pasted on the walls of Ka’bah.
The divine words, with their sweet verses, attracted every heart by their endless beauty and charm and sealed the mouths of all eloquent poets and writers.
But, on the other hand, these divine words were very unpleasant and bitter for polytheists and idol-worshippers, for they clarified and proved the religion of monotheism by their expressive statements and strong reasoning and severely reproached the policy of polytheism and idol-worshipping. These verses. also belittled the idols that were called “gods” by the people who supplicated and offered sacrifice before them and finally worshipped them instead of Allah. The Divine words also introduced the idols as stony and wooden statues that are lifeless, ineffective, and useless. The Holy Qur’an invited the barbaric Arabs – who were filled with haughtiness and conceit and who had established their lives on the basis of bloodshed and banditry – to the religion of truth and respect for justice and humanity. Thus, Arab idolaters resorted to struggle and alternation and left no stone unturned to put out this luminous torch of guidance. They, however, reaped no benefit out of their wicked efforts except disappointment.
During the earlier days of Al-Bi’that al-Nabawiyyah, the Holy Prophet (SA) was taken to meet one of the eloquent men called “Walid” who was a renowned Arab litterateur. The Holy Prophet (SA) recited a few Ayat from the beginning of 41st Surah (Ha Mm) of Qur’an. In spite of his pride and haughtiness, Walid listened very carefully, until the Prophet (SA) reached the Holy Ayah:
“But if they turn aside, then say: I have warned you of a scourge like the scourge of ‘Ad and Thamud (41:13).”
As soon as the Holy Prophet (SA) recited this Ayah, Walid became upset and began to shudder in such a manner that he lost his consciousness, the meeting was disturbed, and the people then dispersed.
Afterwards, a group of people came to Walid and began complaining, that he made them ashamed and disgraceful in front of Muhammad (SA). Walid said: “No, by Allah, you know that I fear none and that I have no greed. You know that I am a man of letters and a litterateur. The words I heard from Muhammad (SA) bore no resemblance with the words of other people. His words are attractive and charming. They could neither be called poetry nor prose. They are meaningful and deep-rooted. I am forced not to say anything about this matter until I have made my judgement. Give me three days’ time to think it over”. When the people came to Walid after the lapse of three days, he said that the words of Muhammad (SA) were magic and sorcery which fascinate the hearts of people.
Mushrikin, led by Walid, called the Holy Qur’an magic and sorcery and avoided hearing it. They prohibited people from listening to it too. At times when the Holy Prophet (SA) used to read the Holy Qur’an in Al-Masjid al-Haram (Ka’bah), mushrikin used to shout and start clapping in order to prevent the people from hearing the voice of the Holy Prophet (SA).
Nevertheless since they had been fascinated by the eloquent and heart-ravishing statements of the Holy Qur’an, they often took advantage of the darkness of night and gathered behind the walls of the house of the Holy Prophet (SA) in order to listen to the recital of the Holy Qur’an. Then whispering to one another, they used to say that these words could not be attributed to any human being. The Almighty Allah, referring to this point, states:
“We know best what they listen to when they listen to you, and when they take counsel secretly, when the unjust say: You follow only a man deprived of reason (17:47).”
Sometimes when the Holy Prophet (SA) recited the Holy Qur’an and invited the people near Ka’bah, Arab litterateurs, while passing by him, used to bend down so as not to be seen and recognized. As the Almighty Allah states:
“Now surely they fold up their chests that they may conceal (their enmity) from Him … (11:5).”
ACCUSING THE HOLY PROPHET (SA)
Kafirin and mushrikin not only used to call the Holy Qur’an but totally the invitation of the Holy Prophet (SA) as a sorcery. Whenever the Holy Prophet (SA) invited people to follow the path of Allah, informed them the truths, or gave them some advice, they used to say that he is practising sorcery, even though he explained to them matters whose authenticity was perceived by their commonsense and Allah-given nature. The Holy Prophet (SA) also showed them the right path and clear policy through which they could clearly view the prosperity and happiness of human society. They had no excuse for not accepting it, and such matters could not be called sorcery.
Is it a sorcery to say, “Don’t worship stones and woods carved by yourself, don’t offer sacrifice of your children for them, and don’t believe in superstitions?” Could praiseworthy ethics such as truth, honesty, benevolence, human friendship, peace, justice, and respect for human rights be called sorcery?
In His words, the Almighty Allah refers to this point and states:
“…And if you say, surely you shall be resurrected after death, those who disbelieve would certainly say: ‘This is nothing but clear magic’ (11:7).”
THE HOLY QUR’AN CHALLENGES
Kafirin and mushrikin, in whose hearts the superstitious rites of idol-worshipping had taken roots, were never prepared to accept the invitation to accept Islam and to submit themselves to the truth and reality. They did not accept the Holy Prophet (SA) and contradicted him and said that he was a liar and that the Holy Qur’an, which he attributed to Allah, was nothing but composed of his own words.
For remedy of this accusation, the Holy Qur’an challenged them by calling a group of people, who were the forerunners and sole contenders of eloquence, to bring statements similar to those of the Holy Qur’an in case they were truthful in their non-acceptance of the Holy Prophet (SA), thereby proving that the Islamic call was unfounded.
The Almighty Allah states:
“Or do they say: ‘He has forged it’? Nay! they do not believe. Then let them bring an expression like it if they are truthful (52:33-34).”
The Almighty Allah also states:
“Or do they say: ‘He has forged it’? Say: ‘Then bring a Surah like this and invite whom you can besides Allah, if you are truthful (10:38).”
The Kafirin and mushrikin of Arabia, who were the masters of literature and eloquence, refrained from accepting this challenge despite their pride and haughtiness in eloquence and avoided the competition on. Thus, inevitably, they turned the literary contest into a bloody combat. Thus getting killed was easier for them than being disgraced and defeated in literary contest. The Arab litterateurs became helpless against the challenge of the Qur’an. Neither those who lived at the time of the Holy Qur’an’s revelation, nor the people born after its divine descension could do anything against this Holy Book in spite of testing of their utmost-strength. They were thus forced to retreat after exerting utmost efforts.
Man’s nature always tends to oblige a group of people to imitate or excel other people’s masterpieces or crafts which attract the attention, even if, like boxing and tug of war, these might not have the slightest direct impact on their social lives. Thus, it becomes clear that a group of people has always been lurking for the Qur’an and if they had found a way to meet the challenge of this Divine Book, they would not have hesitated for an instant to accept this challenge. These people could not meet the challenge and by offering an excuse of magic and sorcery, they could not say that the Holy Qur’an is a magic and sorcery; for magic is an action which, according to its characteristics, displays the truth as false or the false as truth; that is to say, it displays lies as truth and the truth as lies. The Holy Qur’an captivates the hearts by its graceful tone and eloquent Ayat because of its natural elegance and not as a result of its relation with the world of magic. It invites people towards a series of objectives through its words and introduces them various sciences whose actuality and rightfulness is understood by their commonsense and Allah-given nature. It persuades people to adopt a series of behaviours and deeds such as gratitude, benevolence, justice, and human friendship from which commonsense cannot escape and must accept and praise them. All these facts indicate that the Holy Qur’an is nothing but an expression of truth. Thus the enemies of the Holv Qur’an became helpless and were unable to say that Qur’an is an expression at the climax of human speech and does not have any rival in its beauty, charm, eloquence, and pleasantness. This is the best proof that the Holy Qur’an is the Word of Allah.
In other words, for every attribute and ability, such as bravery, courage, reading, writing, and likewise which could be developed, there will naturally be a genius in man’s history who will occupy the first position. What could be the objection if the Holy Prophet (SA) occupies the most leading position of eloquence in Arabic oratory with a particular style? In this case, since his speech is that of a man, it could be challenged. The contemporary orators of the Holy Prophet (SA) did not admit this fact. None of the enemies of the Holy Qur’an could say or substantiate it, because any attribute or ability that reaches the peak of progress by a genius originates from human capability and talent and originates from human nature. It is, therefore, possible for others to pursue the path opened up by the genius. With due effort, people can make achievements similar to those of the genius. They can also make achievements of the same kind by similar and even better methods than those used by the genius, even if such attempts fail to compete with the achievements of the genius. Thus the aforesaid genius who is the first to open this way is regarded only as a pioneer and forerunner. For example, no one can surpass Hatam al-Ta’i in generosity, but might be able to do something similar to what he did. One may not be able to excel Mir in calligraphy or Mani, the painter, in painting; however, after considerable effort and endeavour, one may be able to write a word in the style of Mir or to paint a small portrait in the style of Mani.
According to this general principle, if the Holy Qur’an was the most eloquent work of a man (not Allah’s words), it would have been possible for others, specifically for the renowned litterateurs of the world, to prepare a book or at least a Surah similar to and identical with one of the Suwar of the Holy Qur’an by using their expertise in this style. In a challenge, the Holy Qur’an asked the people to produce statements similar to, and not better than those of, the Holy Qur’an.
“Then let them bring an announcement like it…(52:34).”
“…Then bring a chapter like this…(10:38).”
“..Then bring ten forged chapters like it…(11:13).”
“… They could not bring the like of it, though some of them were aiders of others (17:88).”
At the end of the discussion, it must be noted that the Holy Qur’an has rendered others ineffective not only by having a remarkable eloquence and order, but also by providing actual answers for man’s requirements. By its revelations and the expression of realities and from other aspects manifested in this Divine Book, the Holy Qur’an challenges the enemies and announces to all mankind that they will not be able to produce such a book.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S (SA)
AHL AL-BAYT (AS)
Traditionally and literally, the “Ahl al-Bayt” or “the members of the household” and the family of a man are those who live as members in the small society of his house such as his wife, son, daughter, and servant living within the housing complex of the houseowner.
Sometimes, the meaning of the Ahl al-Bayt is generalized to include close relatives such as father, mother, sister, children, uncle, father’s sister, maternal aunt, and their children.
However, the meaning of “the Ahl al-Bayt (AS)“ of the Holy Prophet (SA), expressed in the Holy Qur’an and ahadith, is not in line with the two preceding definitions. According to successive ahadith related through general and specific channels, “the Ahl al-Bayt” is a name granted as a gift to specially include the Holy Prophet (SA) and the respectable ones, ‘Ali (AS), Fatimah (AS), al-Hasan (AS), and al-Husayn (AS). Therefore, on this basis, the other members of the Prophet’s household and his relatives (although they are traditionally and literally considered as members of his household) are not covered by this definition. Even Khadijah al-Kubra, who was the most respectable wife of the Holy Prophet (SA) and the mother of Fatimah (AS). and also Ibrahim, who was the consanguineous son of the Holy Prophet (SA) and who had the greatest honour, are not included in “Ahl al-Bayt (AS)“ of the Holy Prophet (SA).
Indeed, according to these and other ahadith, nine infallible Imams out of twelve infallible Imams, who are the sons and offsprings of Imam Husayn (AS), are also included in the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) of the Prophet (SA). Therefore, the “Ahl al-Bayt (AS)“ are the fourteen infallible ones. Usually, the “Ahl al-Bayt (AS)“ of the Holy Prophet (SA) refer to thirteen persons, who are the offspring of the Holy Prophet (SA).
The Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (SA) are endowed with many virtues, excellent qualities, and unchallenging positions, the most important of which are the following two positions:
(1) According to the following Ayah:
“..Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O Ahl al-Bayt! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying (33:33).”
they have an infallible and purified position; and by virtue of this position, no sin ever touches them.
(2) According to valuable holy “Hadith al-Thaqalayn” of the Prophet (SA), also mentioned earlier, the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) of the Holy Prophet (SA) are inseparable from the Holy Qur’an. There will never be a separation between themselves and the Holy Qur’an. As a result, they commit no error and mistake in perceiving the meaning of the Holy Qur’an.
The prerequisite for possessing these two positions is that the words and deeds of the Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (SA) are the criteria and bases (for following) like those of the Holy Prophet (SA) himself. Therefore, the beliefs of Shi’ahs are based on these facts.
THE EXPRESSLY STATED VIRTUES OF
‘ALI (AS) AND ALL THE AHL AL-BAYT (AS)
Quoting the Holy Prophet (SA) Sunni and Shi’ah ‘ulama’ have related many ahadith on the virtues of ‘Ali (AS) and all the other Ahl al-Bayt. Three of these virtues will be dealt with here.
(1) In the 6th year after Hijrah, the Christians of the city of Najran selected a group of their dignitaries and scholars and sent them to Madinah. The delegation primarily debated and argued with the Holy Prophet (SA), but they were condemned and defeated and Allah revealed the following Ayah of “Al-Mubahalah (cursing)”.
“But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: ‘Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars’ (3:61).”
According to the order and instruction given through this Ayah, the Holy Prophet (SA) proposed that the Christian delegation from Najran participate in requesting the curse of Allah on liars, that is, they had to gather along with their wives and children to pray for the curse of Allah on the liars, so that the Almighty Allah would send upon them His torment.
The Christian delegation from Najran accepted the proposal for Al-Mubahalah and allocated the day after for this purpose. The next day, a great number of Muslims and also the delegation from Najran waited for the Holy Prophet’s (SA) appearance to see in what form and with what formalities he would arrive and whom he would bring along for Al-Mubahalah. They saw the Holy Prophet (SA) coming out in such a way that he was carrying al-Husayn (AS) in his arms and holding al-Hasan’s (AS) hand in his hand. Behind the Holy Prophet (SA) was his daughter, Fatimah (AS), and behind her was ‘Ali (AS). The Holy Prophet (SA) ordered these honourable persons accompanying him to say Amin (may it be so) when he prayed.
The delegation of Najran was struck with horror when they saw this holy delegation who entirely displayed truth and reality and who sought no refuge except the protection of the Almighty Allah. The chief of Najran delegation told his colleagues; “By Allah, I see these faces who will annihilate all the Christians of the world if they turn towards Allah.” This was the reason why they came to Muhammad (SA) and asked him to excuse them from participating in Al-Mubahalah. The Holy Prophet (SA) asked them to submit to the will of Allah and convert to Islam. They said that they were unable to fight with the Muslims but were ready to pay annual tax to live under the protection of Islam. Thus this episode ended. The following conclusion could be drawn from this incident:
The accompaniment of ‘Ali (AS), Fatimah (AS), al-Hasan (AS), al-Husayn (AS) with the Holy Prophet (SA) in the course of Al-Mubahalah clarified that, in the holy Ayah “our sons, our women, and our near people” refers to none but the Holy Prophet (SA), ‘Ali(AS), Fatimah (AS), al-Hasan (AS), and al-Husayn (AS). In other words, by stating the word “ourselves”, the Holy Prophet (SA) meant himself and ‘Ali (AS), by “our women”, he meant Fatimah (AS), and by “our sons”, he meant al-Hasan (AS) and al-Husayn (AS).
Thus, it becomes crystal clear that ‘Ali (AS) is in the same rank as the Holy Prophet (SA) himself. It also becomes evident that the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) of the Holy Prophet (SA) were four persons. This is because the members of the household of anyone are those which are commonly called as “ourselves, our women, and our children”. If any other persons were considered as the Ahl al-Bayt, the Holy Prophet (SA) would have taken them along for Al-Mubahalah.
This is why we must judge about the ‘Ismah (infallibility) of these four persons, for the Almighty Allah testifies on the ‘Ismah and taharah (purity) of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) of the Holy Prophet (SA):
“…Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O Ahl al-Bayt! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying (33:33).”
(2) As related by Sunni and Shi’ah ‘ulama’, the Holy Prophet (SA) has stated:
“The parable of my Ahl al-Bayt is that of Nuh’s ark; those who boarded were saved while those who did not board were drowned”.
(3) In another successive hadith, related by Sunni and Shi’ah ‘ulama’, the Holy Prophet (SA) has stated:
“I leave two valuable things for you which will never be separated from each other till they meet me at Hawd al-Kawthar. They are the Allah’s Book, Quran and the Ahl al-Bayt. You will not go astray after me as long as you remain in touch with them intimately and seek refuge under these two”.
A government organization established in a country to handle public affairs cannot operate by itself. Unless a group of competent and experienced individuals endeavour to maintain and run it, it will not survive and will not provide the people with its services.
The same applies to any other organization established in human societies such as cultural and various economic organizations. These organizations will always be dependent upon competent and honest managers; otherwise, they will be liquidated and wound up in a short period. This is a clear fact that can be perceived by a simple deliberation. Many experiences and experiments also substantiate its veracity.
Surely, the organization of the religion of Islam, which could be called the world’s largest organization, follows the same principle. It depends upon guardians and directors for its survival and continuity. It always looks for competent individuals to provide the people with Islamic teachings and laws, to carry out its exact provisions in the Islamic society, and to allow no negligence and procrastination in the observance and safeguarding of Islam.
The guardianship of religious matters and the Islamic society is called “Imamah”. The guardian and leader is known as the “Imam”. Shi’ahs believe that, after the demise of the Holy Prophet (SA), the Imam must be appointed by the Almighty Allah to act as a custodian and guardian of the sciences and commandments of Islam and to lead the people onto the right path.
Whoever truly investigates and conducts a thorough study and research on Islamic teachings and fairly uses his judgement will find out that Imamah is one of the unquestionable principles of the holy religion of Islam and that the Almighty Allah stipulates this matter in Qur’anic Ayat introducing the organization of His religion.
THE LOGIC FOR IMAMAH
As clarified in the discussion of Nubuwwah, the kindness, favour and care of the Creator of the world which He has towards the world of existence calls for His leading every creature towards a specific goal (which is the attainment of ideal perfection). For instance, a fruit- bearing tree is led towards development, blossom, and bearing fruit. Its course of life differs from that of a bird. Similarly, every bird lives in its own special way and pursues its own specific goal. In this manner, every creature is led only towards reaching its specified goal and pursuing the right path and nothing else. Obviously, man is also one of the creatures of Allah and is bound by the same principle of guidance.
It also became clear that since the ideal perfection and prosperity of man is gained through his own choice and free will, the Divine guidance of man, in particular, should be achieved by way of invitation, propagation, and communication of religion and its rules and regulations through the prophets, so that men could not have any plea against this system of the Almighty Allah.
“(We sent) messengers as the givers of good news and as warners, so that people should not have a plea against Allah after the (coming of) messengers…(4:165).”
This holy Ayah leads to the same logic that necessitated the appointment of prophets and the establishment of the system of religious invitation. After the demise of the Holy Prophet (SA), who guarded the religion and led the people with his ‘Ismah, it is necessary for the Almighty Allah to assign someone similar to him in ‘Ismah and ideal attributes (except wahy and Nubuwwah) as a substitute to preserve the Islamic sciences and commandments without any deviation and lead the people. Otherwise, the programme of general guidance will be disrupted and people would have a plea against the system of guidance of Allah.
THE IMAM IS INDISPENSABLE
Due to its error and mistake, men’s wisdom cannot enable them to do without the anbiya’ of Allah. In like manner, the existence of Islamic ‘ulama’ among the Ummah and their religious propagation are not sufficient to make people independent of Imams. As clarified earlier, the question is not whether people follow the religion or not, rather the point under discussion is that the religion of Allah must reach the people untouched and without any change, alteration, or mutilation.
It is certain that the ‘ulama’ of Ummah are not infallible and immune from error and sin, no matter how virtuous and pious they are. It is not impossible that Islamic sciences and laws be ruined and changed by them although it might be unintentionally. The best evidence for this matter is the existence of various sects and discrepancies which have crept into Islam.
Therefore, in any case, the existence of the Imam is necessary to safeguard the real Islamic sciences and laws of the religion of Allah, so that people could benefit from his guidance whenever they find the ability to receive it.
THE HOLY PROPHET’S (SA) STATEMENT ABOUT WILAYAH
Describing the Holy Prophet (SA), the Almighty Allah states:
“Certainly a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves, grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you, to the mu’minin (he is) compassionate, merciful (9:128).”
It can never be believed that the Holy Prophet (SA), who, according to the explicit wording of the Holy Book, Qur’an was the most compassionate and merciful of all to his ummah, would remain silent all his life and overlook about mentioning one of the divine orders which is undoubtedly of highest importance and topmost priority for the Islamic society and which is demanded by wisdom and commonsense.
The Holy Prophet (SA) knew better than anyone else that the organized and enormous institution of Islam was not a matter of ten or twenty years to be supervised by himself. He was aware that Islam is a universal and eternal organization that must direct the human world forever. Thus, the Holy Prophet (SA) predicting the situation of thousands of years after his demise and issued the necessary orders accordingly. The Holy Prophet (SA) was fully aware that Islam is a social organization and that no social organization can exist and survive even for an hour without a guardian and ruler. Therefore, the presence of a guardian is necessary to preserve the Islamic sciences and laws of religion, to manage the affairs of the society, and to lead and guide the people towards happiness in this world and the Hereafter. Thus, how could it be conceived that the Holy Prophet (SA) would overlook the situation after his departure and would show no interest towards it?
As a habit, the Holy Prophet (SA) used to appoint someone to manage the affairs of people in his absence whenever he left Madinah even for a few days to take part in battles or to perform Hajj. Similarly, he also used to appoint governors for cities conquered by the Muslims and used to assign commanders for every division and group that he despatched to the battlefield. Sometimes, the Holy Prophet (SA) even said: “Your commander is such and such a person. If he is killed, then such and such will be his successor and if he is also killed, so and so will act as the commander.”
With this policy that the Prophet (SA) followed, how can it be believed that the Holy Prophet (SA) might not have designated anyone as his successor at the time of his death?
In short, by looking deeply into the sublime aims of Islam and the holy objective of its dignified bearer, one will undoubtedly acknowledge that the matter of Imamah and wilayah has been resolved and made clear for the Muslims.
APPOINTMENT OF A SUCCESSOR
BY THE HOLY PROPHET (SA)
The Holy Prophet (SA) did not content himself with only general remarks concerning Imamah and wilayah of the affairs of Muslims after his demise, rather he explicitly explained the subject of Imamah, along with Tawhid and Nubuwwah, from the very beginning of his call and announced the wilayah and Imamah of ‘Ali (AS) for the affairs of the religion and the world as well as for all the affairs of the Muslims.
According to a hadith narrated by Sunni and Shiah on the first day of his call to the people to Islam ‘ulama’, the Holy Prophet (SA) invited his relatives to gather publicly for a meeting. At this meeting, he explicitly substantiated and established the ministry, wilayah, and succession of the Leader of the Faithful, ‘Ali (AS). In the last days of his life, too, in Ghadir Khumm, the Holy Prophet (SA) lifted ‘Ali (AS), holding his hand, among the gathering of one hundred and twenty thousand Muslims and stated:
“Anyone for whom I am the guardian and leader, this ‘Ali (AS) is his guardian and leader as well.”
Furthermore, the Holy Prophet (SA) has specified the number, the names, and all the characteristics of Imams and leaders who will be succeeding him.
In a well-known hadith narrated by Shi’ah and Sunni ‘ulama’, the Holy Prophet (SA) has stated: “There are twelve Imams, all of whom are from the Quraysh.” According to the famous hadith, the Holy Prophet (SA) said to Jabir al-Ansari: “There are twelve Imams.” Then he mentioned their names one by one and told Jabir: “You will meet the fifth Imam. Say my salam (greetings) to him.”
Besides, the Holy Prophet (SA) h as specifically appointed the Leader of the Faithful, ‘Ali (AS), as his successor. Hadrat ‘Ali (AS) has also nominated the next Imam as his successor. In the like manner, each Imam has appointed the next Imam to serve as his successor.
THE ‘ISMAH OF IMAM
From what has already been discussed, it became clear that like the Prophet (SA), the Imam must be immune from error and sin; otherwise, the religious call will remain defective and the divine guidance will become ineffective.
THE MORAL VIRTUES OF IMAM
The Imam must be endowed with moral virtues such as boldness, bravery, chastity, generosity, and justice, because whosoever is ma’sum and free from sin will strictly follow and practise religious laws and since the possession of praiseworthy ethics is essential for religion, the Imam must surpass all the other people in moral virtues, for it makes no sense for a man to lead those who are better and superior than him in virtues. Surely, Allah’s justice is not in conformity with such an idea.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF IMAM
Since an Imam is the guardian of religion and the leader of the inhabitants of the world, he must have a thorough knowledge of all matters concerning this world and the Hereafter, namely, the matters related to man’s prosperity. Since having an ignorant person as a leader is not rationally permissible and is meaningless from the viewpoint of general divine guidance.
THE FOURTEEN MA’SUMIN
The Holy Prophet (SA), his honourable daughter, Fatimah al-Zahra’ (AS), and the twelve infallible Imams are called the “Fourteen Ma’sumin. The first five from among the fourteen Ma’sumin, namely, the Holy Prophet (SA), ‘Ali (AS), Fatimah (As), al-Imam al-Hasan (AS) and al-Imam al-Husayn (AS) are called “Ahlal-‘Aba” and “Ashab al-Kisa'” (the family and companions gathered under the sheet of cloth). They are called Ashab al-Kisa’ because one day the Holy Prophet (SA) covered himself with a sheet of cloth, gathered these four members under it, and prayed to Allah. The Almighty Allah revealed the following Qur’anic verse of taharah in their honour:
“Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O Ahl al-Bayt, and to keep you tahir – a (thorough) taharah (33:33)”.
THE GUIDING IMAMS (AS)
The guiding Imams (AS) who are the successors of the Holy Prophet (SA) and the leaders of people of the world and the Islam are twelve in number.
THE NAMES OF THE INFALLIBLE IMAMS (AS)
1. Al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) (Aimir al-Mu’minin)
2. Al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) (Al-Mujtaba)
3. Al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) (Sayyid al-Shuhada’)
4. Al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) (al-Sajjad)
5. Al-‘Imam Muhammad (AS) (Al-Baqir)
6. Al-‘Imam Ja’far (AS) (Al-Sadiq)
7. Al-‘Imam Musa (AS) (Al-Kazim)
8. Al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) (Al-Rida)
9. Al-‘Imam Muhammad (AS) (Al-Taqi)
10. Al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) (Al-Naqi)
11. Al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) (Al-‘Askari)
12. Al-‘Imam Muhammad (AS) (Al-Mahdi), al-Hujjat ibn al-Hasan).
THE GENERAL LIFE-STYLE OF THE
AHL AL-BAYT (AS)
The other members of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) are the perfect examples of the education and training of the Holy Prophet (SA). Their characters and life-style resemble the character of the Holy Prophet (SA).
Certainly, during 250 years, beginning from the 11th year of Hijrah (the year of Holy Prophet’s [SA] demise) until the year 260 AH (when al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi’s [AS] Ghaybat al-Kubra, i.e., Great Occultation started), in their associations with people, the infallible guides, the Imams faced various situations showing their style of living in different forms. They, however, never gave up the main objective of the Holy Prophet’s (SA) policy which consisted of safeguarding the Usul al-Din (the fundamental principles of Islam for believing in) and the Furu’ al-Din (the secondary principles of Islam for action on) from undergoing changes and transformations, and the education of people, as far as possible.
Within 23 years since his call and invitation to Islam, the Holy Prophet (SA) passed three phases of his life. He secretly called the people to Islam in the first three years of his al-Bi’that al-Nabawiyyah. He, then overtly invited the people to Islam in the next ten years. However, he and his followers lived under the severe tortures and persecution of the society and enjoyed no freedom of action that could make a tangible reform in the society. The Holy Prophet (SA) spent the remaining ten years (after the Hijrah) in an atmosphere in which the revival of truth and reality was the main goal and in which the holy Islam gained striking achievements day by day, thus opening up a new gate of knowledge and perfection to the people at every moment.
It is certainly obvious that these three different environments demanded different expediencies and would display the character and life-style of the Holy Prophet (SA), who had no other objective but to revive the truth and reality, in various forms.
The different environments, in which the guiding Imams (AS) lived, were not unlike the pre-Hijrah period of the Holy Prophet’s (SA) call. Sometimes, like the first three years of the prophetic mission, it was impossible even to highlight the truth and thus the Imams (AS) performed their duties with utmost care, as was the case at the time of the fourth Imam (AS) and the latter part of the time of the sixth Imam (AS) who had similar expediencies. Sometimes, like the ten years prior to Hijrah, when the Holy Prophet (SA) overtly called the people to Islam in Makkah and when he and his followers were unable to resist the pressure of the unbelievers, the Imams (AS) also proceeded to educate the people with the teachings of religion and the propagation of religious precepts. The influential men of the time, however, left no stone unturned in torturing and persecuting them and created new problems everyday.
Indeed, an environment resembling the Holy Prophet’s (SA) post-Hijrah milieu to some extent was the one in which Amir al-Mu’minin (Commander of the Mu’minin), ‘Ali (AS), ruled as a caliph for five years, the one in which Hadrat Fatimah (AS) and al-Imam al-Hasan (AS) lived for a small period, and the one in which al-,Imam al-Husayn (AS) and his disciples lived for a short duration. In all these environments, the truth and reality were openly manifested, thus clearly reflecting the image of the general condition prevailing during the Holy Prophet’s (SA) time.
In short, except in what has been mentioned, the infallible Imams could not oppose the tyrant and usurper rulers and commanders of the time basically and openly. Therefore, they were obliged to have taqiyyah (concealing one’s true beliefs when life is in danger) and to give no excuse to the rulers of the time to bother them. Nevertheless, their enemies left no stone unturned to put off the lights of their guidance and nullify their efforts.
THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE DIFFERENCES
OF THE IMAMS (AS) WITH CONTEMPORARY GOVERNMENTS
Various governments, which came into being in the Islamic society after the Holy Prophet (SA), under the name of Islam were all in serious disagreement with the Ahl al-Bayt (AS). This irreconcilable antagonism served as a root which never dried.
Although the Holy Prophet (SA) had mentioned about the virtues and excellent qualities of his Ahl al-Bayt (AS), the most important of which were the honour of knowing the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and distinguishing between halal (Islamically permissible) and haram (Islamically prohibited) matters and even though it was incumbent upon the Ummah to respect and honour the Ahl al-Bayt (AS), the Ummah, in spite of this recommendation and emphasis, did not discharge their obligations in this connection.
When the Holy Prophet (SA) openly invited people to Islam, on the very first day he mentioned about his relatives, embracing Islam and nominated ‘Ali (AS) as his successor. He manifestly specified ‘Ali’s (AS) succession in Ghadir Khumm and elsewhere during the last days of his life. In spite of this fact, the people designated others as successors of the Holy Prophet (SA) after his death thus denying the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) of their indisputable rights. As a result, the governments of the time always considered the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) as dangerous rivals and were frightened of them. These governments exploited various possibilities to annihilate the Ahl al-Bayt (AS).
The governments of the time considered a deep discrepancy between the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the so-called Islamic governments indispensable. The Ahl al-Bayt (AS) believed that Islamic governments must observe, preserve, and enforce the divine precepts of Islam. As seen in their endeavours, however, the so-called Islamic governments that came to power after the Holy Prophet (SA) did not completely observe the enforcement of the precepts of Islam and the adherence to the sirah (life-style) of the Holy Prophet (SA).
On several occasions, the Almighty Allah enjoins the Holy Prophet (SA) and the Islamic Ummah not to make any changes or transformations in the divine precepts and warns them of showing the slightest tendency against any one of the Islamic precepts and orders. On the basis of these unchangeable and immutable orders, the Holy Prophet (SA) adopted a life-style through which he displayed no difference in the implementation of Islamic laws as far as time, place, and people were concerned.
Observing the divine precepts was incumbent upon everybody and even upon the Holy Prophet (SA) and was obligatory on the part of everyone. The Islamic laws were steadfast and effective in all circumstances.
As a result of this equality and justice, all types of preferences among the people disappeared. The Holy Prophet (SA), who by Allah’s order was the ruler and commander and whose obedience was obligatory, did not have the slightest privilege over others in the internal and external affairs of his life. He did not avail himself of any luxury, maintained no protocol and formalities commensurate to his position as a ruler, and did not boast of his greatness and position. He showed no magnanimity or reverence. He could not be distinguished from the rest of the people through any outward appearance.
No group from the various strata of people sought superiority over others only by relying on their own discriminative preferences. Men and women, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the urban and the rural, the slaves and the free men, and the black and the white all were equally ranked and no one was under obligation to perform actions beyond his religious duty. Everyone was immune against paying homage to the powerful people of the society or to be belittled by the influence and oppression of the oppressors.
With a little consideration, it will be clear (particularly after we have had long experiments after the death of the Holy Prophet [SA]) that the sole objective of the Holy Prophet’s immaculate character was the just and equitable implementation of the divine orders of Islam among the people and the immunity and preservation of these laws against changes and transformations. But the “Islamic governments” did not conform their conduct with that of the Holy Prophet (SA) and entirely changed h is course of action. As a result:
(1) Shortly, class distinctions appeared in the “Islamic society” in the worst form. The people were divided into two groups, the strong and the weak. The life, property, and reputation of one group were subjected to destruction through the whims and desires of another group.
(2) The so-called “Islamic government” gradually changed Islamic laws. Sometimes, under the pretext of safeguarding an Islamic society and sometimes under the pretext of saving the government and its policy, these “Islamic governments” refrained from compliance with Islamic commandments and implementation of Islamic laws and provisions. This mode of working expanded day by day to such an extent that the so-called Islamic governments felt no responsibility towards the observance and implementation of Islamic laws. It is quite obvious to know as to what would be the status of Islamic laws and general provisions which have no proper executive power for implementation.
In Short, the “Islamic governments”, during the lives of Ahl al-Bayt (AS), brought about changes in the precepts and laws of Islam as per the “expediency of the time”. It was due to these changes that their conducts were contrary to that of the Holy Prophet (SA). But according to the Qur’anic directives, the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) considered the precepts of the conduct of the Holy Prophet (SA) indispensable.
Due to these differences and contradictions, the contemporary powerful governments did not refrain from crushing the Ahl al-Bayt (AS). They embarked on using every possible means to extinguish the light of their guidance.
Although the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) continuously faced many problems and encountered stubborn and sinister enemies, they continued their invitation of Islam to people and the work of Islamic tabligh (communication) in accordance with their divine duty, they did not leave any stone unturned for education of the righteous individuals.
To appreciate this matter, one must refer to history and notice the large population of Shi’ahs during the five-year Khilafah (caliphate) period of the Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali (AS). Certainly, this population had come up during the 25 years of , Ali’s (AS) seclusion. Also, there Was similar gathering of a large number of Shi’ahs at the house of Al-Imam al-Baqir (AS). They were those who were quietly educated by Al-Imam al-Sajjad (AS). Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of Shi’ahs following the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and faithful to Al-Imam al-Rida (AS) were the truth seekers whom Al-Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (AS) had guided even from the dark comers of the prisons.
Finally, because of the continuous training and education by the Ahl al-Bayt (AS), the Shi’ahs, who were an insignificant number at the time of the death of the Holy Prophet (SA), sharply increased to an amazing number during the last period of the infallible Imams (AS).
AN EXCEPTIONAL POINT IN THE POLICY
OF THE AHL AL-BAYT (AS)
As mentioned earlier, the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) of the Holy Prophet (SA) spent their lives under tyranny and accusation. They performed their assigned duties in the atmosphere of taqiyyah and under the most difficult conditions. Only four members among the Ahl al-Bayt (AS), for brief periods, could exceptionally have an opportunity to work independently without restraint and taqiyyah. We will briefly discuss the biographies of the members (other than the Prophet (SA) whose life-sketch has been already given) of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) here.
AL-‘IMAM ‘ALI (AS)
Amir al-Mu’minin Hadrat ‘Ali (AS) is the first perfect example of the education and training of the Holy Prophet (SA).
‘Ali (AS) was educated by the Holy Prophet (SA) from the period of his infancy. ‘Ali (AS) was always with the Holy Prophet (SA) like a shadow until the last moment of the Prophet’s life. Like a butterfly which sacrifices its life for the candle, ‘Ali (AS) also was with the Holy Prophet (SA). ‘Ali (AS) parted with the Holy Prophet (SA) when he took the sacred body of the Prophet (SA) in his arms and buried him.
‘Ali (AS) was endowed with a worldwide personality. One may dare say that the discussions and deliberations about this important personality have not been made to such an extent about any other important personality of the world. Shi’ah, Sunni, Muslim, and non-Muslim scholars and writers have written more than one thousand books regarding his personality.
With all the innumerable discussions and inquisitiveness made by friends and foes about ‘Ali (AS), no one has been able to find any weaknesses in his faith. Nor has any one been able to find any weak point in his bravery, piety, knowledge, justice, and other praiseworthy ethics, because he recognized and possessed nothing but virtue and perfection.
According to history, from among all rulers who have come to power since the demise of the Holy Prophet (SA) until the present time, ‘Ali (AS) is the only person who fully complied with the sirah of the Holy Prophet (SA) and who never deviated from the policies of the Prophet (SA) in the period of his rule over the Islamic society. ‘Ali (AS) implemented the laws and religious precepts of Islam without any misinterpretation or distortion just as they were executed in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (SA).
In the case of “the 6-member council” for the selection of the khalifah (caliph) which had a meeting according to the order of the second khalifah after lengthy discussions the uncertainty regarding khilafah emerged between ‘Ali (AS) and ‘Uthman. The “council” conditionally offered the position of khilafah to ‘Ali (AS) provided that he would deal with the people in the same manner as the first and second khalifahs did. Imam ‘Ali (AS) rejected the offer and said: “I will not transgress the limits of my knowledge.” Then the “council” offered the khilafah with the same condition to ‘Uthman. He accepted the offer and became the khalifah, although he adopted a different sirah afterwards.
No one from among the Companions of the Holy Prophet (SA) could be a match to ‘Ali (AS) insofar as self-sacrifices, self-devotion, self-dedication, etc for the cause of the truth were concerned. It cannot be denied that in the absence of this devoted harbinger of Islam, unbelievers and polytheists would have easily extinguished the light of the Nubuwwah in the night of Hijrah and afterwards in any one of the battles of Badr, ‘Uhud, Khandaq, Khaybar, and Hunayn and would have resulted in the fall of the banner of the truth.
Upon first entrance into the social environment, ‘Ali (AS) had a very simple life. During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (SA), after the Prophet’s demise, and even during his own glorious khilafah period, he lived like the poor and in the most humble condition. He had no superiority over the needy insofar as food, clothing, and housing were concerned and used to: “The ruler of a society should live in such a way so as to be the source of consolation for the needy and the distressed and not the cause of their regret and disappointment.” Although the ruler of the entire Islamic State, he had only seven hundred dirhams on the day of his martyrdom with which he wanted to hire a servant for his house.
‘Ali (AS) used to work to meet the needs of life. Particularly he was interested in agriculture and spent his time in planting trees and digging water canals. Whatever he earned in this manner or through the war-booty, he distributed among the needy. He endowed the properties which he had cultivated for the needy or distributed among them the money received as sale proceeds of such properties. Once, during the period of his own khilafah, ‘Ali (AS) ordered to those concerned to bring the revenues of his endowments to him and then spend them. When these revenues were collected, the amount reached 24 000 gold dinars.
‘Ali (AS) always defeated his rivals in all the battles in which he took part. He never refrained from combatting an enemy. ‘Ali (AS) said: “If the entire Arabia rises up in opposition and combat against me, I will not lose my courage and I will not fear anything.”
With such bravery and valour, for which the history of the brave men of the world has not found any equal, ‘Ali (AS) was extremely compassionate, kind, generous, and magnanimous. In the battles, he never killed women, children, and the weak. ‘Ali (AS) did not take anyone as a captive and did not pursue those who ran away. In the Battle of Siffin, the army of Mu’awiyah took a lead, occupied the canal of Euphrates, and banned the water on ‘Ali (AS). Later, after a bloody battle, ‘Ali (AS) occupied the water canal. Then he issued orders allowing the enemy to take water.
In the period of his khilafah, ‘Ali (AS) welcomed everyone without having chamberlains and doorkeepers, walked on foot. all alone, and walked in the alleys and the bazaars. He ordered the people to fear Allah and guard against evil and protected them against injustice of one another. ‘Ali (AS) helped the poverty-stricken people and widows kindly and humbly and kept the shelterless orphans in his own house, personally providing their requirements and educating them.
‘Ali (AS) had a special regard for knowledge and learning and gave particular attention towards promotion of knowledge and education and used to say: “There is no suffering like ignorance.” While ‘Ali (AS) was arraying his troops in the bloody Battle of Jamal, an Arab went forward and asked him the meaning of Tawhid. The people rushed toward the Arab from every direction and confronted him by saying that such a moment is not an appropriate time for asking such questions and for discussion. ‘Ali (AS) asked them to disperse away from the Arab and said: “We are fighting the people in order to revive such truths.” Then, while arraying the troops, ‘Ali (AS) called forth the Arab and clarified the matter for him with an eloquent statement.
Another similar case symbolizing the religious discipline and amazing divine power of ‘Ali (AS) has been narrated in the course of the Battle of Siffin. While the two armies, like two roaring seas, were intermingling and fighting and much blood was gushing out from every direction, ‘Ali (AS) came to one of his soldiers and demanded a glass of water for drinking. The soldier filled a wooden bowl with water and offered it to ‘All (AS). ‘Ali (AS) noticed a crack in the bowl and said: “Drinking water in such a bowl is makruh (undesirable -though not unlawful but refraining from it is preferable in Islam)”. The soldier said: “This is not a time to be so meticulous about these things in such a situation when we are under the shower of arrows and the flashes of thousands of swords”. In short, the answer he got from ‘Ali (AS) was: “We are fighting for the enforcement of such Islamic precepts and insofar as the rules are concerned there is nothing large or small”.
After the Holy Prophet (SA), ‘Ali (AS) was the first person who talked about scientific realities by the philosophical mode of thinking, that is, he talked with independent logic. He also coined many scientific terms. In order to safeguard the Holy Qur’an from error and mutilations, ‘Ali (AS) formulated and arranged the rules of Arabic grammar.
Scientific intricacies, divine knowledge, ethical, social, and political matters, and even mathematics that are made available to us by means of the lectures, letters, and other eloquent remarks of ‘Ali (AS) are amazing.
Lectures, letters, aphorisms, and the short remarks available as a memorial of ‘Ali (AS) all testify that from among Muslims, ‘Ali (AS) is most familiar with the sublime aims of the Qur’an and has duly perceived the principal and practical education of Islam. He has proved the authenticity of the hadith of the Holy Prophet (SA): “I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is the gate of the city”. ‘Ali (AS) has combined this knowledge with practice.
In short, the prominent personality of ‘Ali (AS) is beyond description and his infinite virtues are countless. History has never witnessed a personality attracting as much the attention and the views of the scholars and philosophers of the world as he has.
AL-SIDDIQAH AL-KUBRA FATIMAH (AS)
Al-Siddiqah al-Kubra (the most strictly veracious) Fatimah (AS) was the only beloved and honourable daughter of the Holy Prophet (SA) who, as a result of her wisdom, faith, righteousness, decent attributes, and praiseworthy ethics, had filled the pure heart of her respectable father with her affections.
As a result of her wisdom, piety, and worship, Fatimah (AS) obtained the title of “Sayyidat Nisa’ al-‘Alamin” (the head of all the women of the worlds) from her great father. The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “The happiness of Fatimah is my happiness and my happiness is the happiness of Allah. The anger of Fatimah is my anger and my anger is the anger of Allah.”
The Lady of Islam Khadijah al-Kubra, gave birth to Hadrat Fatimah (AS) in the 6th year after Al-Bi’that al-Nabawiyyah. Fatimah (AS) married Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (AS) in the 2nd year after the Hijrah. Fatimah (AS) passed away three months and odd days after the demise of her great father.
In her life, she always preferred the pleasure of Allah over her own happiness. In her family circle, she trained and educated her children. She divided the household chores between herself and her housemaid. One day, she engaged in the household chores herself and the other day, the housemaid was supposed to perform them. Fatimah (AS) resolved the problems of Muslim ladies and worshipped Allah during her leisure time. She spent her personal property, specially the overflowing income of Fadak (a few villages nearby Khaybar), for the cause of Allah and kept no more than what was necessary for herself. Sometimes, she gave her daily food to the needy and the poor, spending her day with hunger. The elaborate speech delivered by Fatimah (AS) in the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (SA) to the Companions and groups of Muslims, the arguments she raised with the “first khalifah” on the subject of the attachment of Fadak, and her other remarks which have remained as her memorial, are all obvious proofs for the magnanimity of her status, her courageous and brave spirit, and her perseverance.
Hadrat Fatimah (AS) is the respectable daughter of the Holy Prophet (SA), the wife of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (AS), and the mother of the eleven Imams and leaders of Islam. The offspring of the Holy Prophet (SA) are all from her generation.
According to the explicit text of the Holy Qur’an, Fatimah (AS) is endowed with the status of the ‘Ismah.
AL-‘IMAM AL-HASAN (AS) AND
AL-‘IMAM AL-HUSAYN (AS)
These two honourable Imams (AS) are brothers and the sons of ‘Ali (AS) and Fatimah (AS). According to the ahadith the Holy Prophet (SA) had deep affections towards these honourable grandsons whom he called his own sons. The Holy Prophet (SA) was not able to endure their slightest pain and dissatisfaction and used to state: “These two sons of mine are Imams and leaders, be they rising or sitting”. The terms ‘rising’ and ‘sitting’ are used ironically and signify taking charge of superficial khilafah and rising to fight with the enemies of Islam and non-acceptance of superficial khilafah and rising against it. He added. “Hasan and Husayn are the two leaders of the youth of the Heaven.”
On the basis of his honourable father’s will, al-Imam al-Hasan (AS) was chosen for khilafah. The people also promised their allegiance to him. He ruled as a khalifah in Islamic countries, excluding Syria and Egypt, which were under the reign of Mu’awiyah, and conducted the affairs just as his great father did.
In the period of his ruling, al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) mobilized an army to put an end to the trouble of Mu’awiyah, but he finally discovered that the hearts of the people were lured by Mu’awiyah and that the leaders of his own army had correspondence with Mu’awiyah and were waiting for him to issue an order to kill or arrest the Imam (AS) and surrender him to the enemy. For this reason, the Imam (AS) had to agree to the peace offer.
Al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) entered into peace negotiations with Mu’awiyah under specific terms, but Mu’awiyah did not keep up his promise and, after the conclusion of the peace agreement, he went to Iraq and ascended a pulpit in the presence of the Muslims and said: “I was not fighting with you for the cause of religion, so that you would recite salat or observe sawm; rather I wanted to rule over you and now I have achieved my goal” Mu’awiyah added: “I disregard all the promises that I have made to al-Hasan.”
After the peace treaty, for nine and a half years, al-Imam al-Hasan (AS) lived under the domination of Mu’awiyah in a gloomy atmosphere and under the most bitter and unpleasant conditions. The Imam (AS) had no life security even in his own house. Finally, at the instigation of Mu’awiyah, the Imam (AS) was poisoned by his wife (Ja’dah) and became martyred.
After the martyrdom of al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS), his honourable brother, al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS), succeeded him by the order of Allah and according to the will of his brother al-Imam al-Hasan (AS) He began to guide and lead the people, but the conditions and circumstances were similar to those existed at the time of al-Imam al-Hasan (AS). With his full control over the situation, Mu’awiyah had seized all the work potentialities available to al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS).
Mu’awiyah died after about nine and a half years and the position of khilafah, which had turned into monarchy, was transferred to his son, Yazid.
Unlike his father, Yazid was a young man intoxicated with conceit and displayed interest in revelry, obscene acts, and lack of discipline. As soon as this proud young man took the rein of the affairs of the Muslims he ordered the governor of Madinah to ask al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) to promise his allegiance to Yazid or else send. the Imam’s head to him. When the governor proposed the subject of allegiance to al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS), the Imam (AS) asked for some time and left Madinah overnight for Makkah along with his companions. He sought refuge in the sanctuary of Allah which is an official haven in Islam. But after residing in Makkah for a few months, he realized that Yazid would by no means leave him alone and that he would definitely be killed if he did not promise his allegiance to Yazid.
On the other hand, during this period, the Imam (AS) had received several thousand letters from Iraq promising their cooperation and assistance and inviting him to rise against the oppressors of Banu Umayyah.
By observing the prevailing general conditions and circumstances and the symptoms al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) realized that his movement would not have an outward progress. Nevertheless, having denied his allegiance, he decided to offer his sacrifice and get killed with a decision of his uprising, al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) left Makkah for Kufah with his companions in the course of his travel, he encountered the massive troops of the enemy in Karbala (nearly 70 km away from Kufah).
While travelling, the Imam (AS) invited the people to assist him and informed his companions of his decision to be killed giving them the option to stay with him or to leave him. Therefore, from the day they encountered the troops of the enemy, no one had remained with the Imam (AS) other than only a few people who were devoted to him and who were willing to give their lives for the cause . As a result, they were easily surrounded by the large number of enemy soldiers. They were even prevented from having water. In such a situation, al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) was compelled to choose between offering his allegiance to Yazid and his martyrdom.
Al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) did not resign himself to his allegiance to Yazid and became prepared to be killed. A day came when he fought the enemy from morning to evening along with his companions. In this battle, he himself, his children, his brothers, his nephews, his cousins, and his companions, who were totally about 70 people, were martyred. Only his honourable son, Al-‘Imam ‘Ali al-Sajjad (AS), who was unable to fight due to serious illness, survived.
After the martyrdom of al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS), the enemy troops plundered his properties, took his family as prisoners, and took them from Karbala to Kufah and from Kufah to Damascus along with the decapitated heads of the Martyrs.
In the process of this captivity, al-‘Imam ‘Ali al-Sajjad (AS) in his sermon delivered at Damascus and also Zaynab al-Kubra, in her addresses delivered in public gatherings in Kufah, in the court of Ibn Ziyad, the Governor of Kufah, and in the court of Yazid in Damascus, unveiled the truth and revealed the oppression and cruelty of Umayyads to the people of the world.
In any case, this movement of al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) against the oppression, tyranny and indiscipline – which ended with the bloodshed of al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS), his children, his relatives and his companions together with looting of his property and imprisonment of his women and children – is a special event with its important characteristics and details, which has no parallel in the pages of history of world movements. It can definitely be said that this event serves as the basis for the survival of Islam. Had this event not taken place, Umayyads would have totally wiped off Islam.
WERE THE POLICIES OF AL-‘IMAM AL-HASAN (AS) AND AL-‘IMAM AL-HUSAYN (AS) DIFFERENT?
Although these two great leaders are, according to the explicit statement of the Holy Prophet (SA), rightful Imams, their policies apparently seem different. Some have even said that the difference of opinions of these two brothers was so great that one of them, having 40 000 combatants, accepted the peace offer, while the other, with only 40 friends and companions (other than his relatives) fought the enemy and lost all of them including his suckling child for this cause.
However, close investigation proves the contrary, as we see that al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) lived for about nine and a half years during the reign of Mu’awiyah and did not oppose him overtly. After the martyrdom of his brother, al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) also lived for about nine and a half years during the reign of Mu’awiyah and never thought of rising in rebellion against him and did not challenge him.
Hence, the main cause of this superficial difference in the policies of the two Imams (AS) lies in the difference of opinion between Mu’awiyah and Yazid, rather than the difference of opinion of these two great Imams (AS).
The policy of Mu’awiyah was not based on lack of discipline and restraint and he did not deride the religious precepts by its overt opposition.
Mu’awiyah called himself a “companion” of the Holy Prophet (SA) and the “writer of Revelation”. Through his sister (who was the wife of the Holy Prophet (SA) and who was Umm al-Mu’minin (the mother of the believers), Mu’awivah was called “Khal al-Mu’minin” (the maternal uncle of the believers) and was greatly favoured by the Second Caliph in whom the common people had total confidence and special attachment.
Furthermore, Mu’awiyah, in a majority of cases, had appointed the Companions of the Holy Prophet (SA) who were respected and honoured by the people (such as Abu Hurayrah,’ Amr al-‘As, Samrah, Yusr, Al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, and others) as governors of provinces and had put them in charge of the key positions of the country. These governors used to work for the favourable opinions of the people towards Mu’awiyah. Many ahadith were fabricated and narrated among the people regarding the virtues and the religious immunity of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (SA) and that they were not questionable for whatever they did. Thus whatever Mu’awiyah did, if corrigible and justifiable at all, it was rectified and justified by these authorities; otherwise, by giving a great deal of hush-money, he prevented his opponents from complaining. Where these means and methods did not work, thousands of innocent people comprising of Shi’ahs (friends) of ‘Ali (AS), other Muslims, and even a great number of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (SA) were killed by these collaborators, partisans, and “companions” of Mu’awiyah.
Mu’awiyah pretended to be right in whatever he did and accomplished everything with a special patience and forbearance. With a particular gentleness and flexibility, he attracted the kindness and obedience of people. Sometimes, he even heard the curse of people on him and sensed their enmity, but he responded with cheerfulness and forgiveness and thus pursued his policy in this way.
Apparently, he paid respect to al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) and al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) and sent them valuable gifts and souvenirs. On the other hand, he publicly announced that whoever narrates a hadith concerning the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS),will have no security of life, reputation, and property; but whoever narrates a hadith concerning the virtues. Prophet (SA) will receive a of the Companions of the Holy reward.
He gave orders to the orators and preachers to curse al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) from pulpits used for addressing Muslims. By the order of Mu’awiyah, his hirelings killed the supporters of al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) wherever they could find them. They went along in this matter to such an extent that they killed a large number of people who were the enemies of al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS), accusing them of having friendship with the Imam (AS).
It becomes clear from the above description that the rise of al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) would only have ended to the detriment of Islam and would have had no effect other than the martyrdom of the Imam (AS) and his supporters. And even it was not unlikely that, in this case, Mu’awiyah might have got killed al-‘Imam al-Hasan (AS) through the friends and relatives of the Imam (AS) and then, in order to pacify public opinion, Mu’awivah would have rent (torn) his shirt and mourned for the Imam (AS) and, in seeking vengeance (for this bloodshed), he would have tried to take his revenge by killing the Shi’ahs, as he later did while dealing with the case of ‘Uthman.
But the political trend of Yazid had no resemblance with that of his father. He was a self-admiring and indisciplined youth. He had no logic: other than force. He gave no importance to public opinion.
During his short-term rule, Yazid at once revealed the damages which were secretly inflicted on Islam.
In the first year of his rule, Yazid put the family of the Holy Prophet (SA) to the edge of the sword.
In the second year of his rule, he ruined the city of Madinah and allowed his troops to transgress upon the honour, life, and property of the people for three days.
In the third year of his rule, he destroyed Ka’bah.
Owing to the above reasons, the movement of al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) was imprinted on the minds of the people and its effect grew more profoundly and publicly day by day. In the beginning, this movement manifested itself in the form of bloody revolutions. Finally, it attracted a great number of Muslims as the supporters of truth and reality and as the supporters of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) of the Holy Prophet (SA).
It was because of this reason that Mu’awiyah, in his will to Yazid, had strongly recommended that Yazid should leave al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS) alone and not bother him; but would the drunkenness and self-admiration of Yazid permit him to differentiate between his benefit and his loss?
AL-‘IMAM ‘ALI AL-SAJJAD (AS)
The policy of al-‘Imam ‘Ali al-Sajjad (AS), during his Imamate, is divided into two different parts which correspond as a whole to the general policies of other Imams (AS), for the Imam (AS) was in the company of his great father in the tragic event of Karbala and took part in the movement of al-‘Imam al-Husayn (AS). After the martyrdom of his father, when the Imam (AS) was taken captive and was taken to Kufah from Karbala and from Kufah to Damascus, he never used taqiyyah and asserted the truth and reality without any fear. Whenever the occasions suited, he informed the individuals and the public of the rightfulness of the Members of the Household of the Holy Prophet (SA) and their glories and virtues through his lectures and statements. He brought the innocence of his great father and the cruel and oppressive atrocities of the Umayyads to the surface and aroused the outburst of the feelings and sentiments of the people.
But Imam (AS) returned to Madinah after he was released from captivity and the atmosphere of self-sacrifice turned itself into the atmosphere of tranquillity. He sat in the seclusion of his house, closed the door on strangers, and engaged in worshipping Allah. He began to train and educate the individuals who were the followers of truth and reality. During the 35 years of his residence there, the Imam (AS), directly and indirectly, educated a great number of people and imprinted the Islamic culture on their hearts.
Only the prayers that the Imam (AS) had indited in his divine tone and through which he silently prayed to Allah form a complete set of the sublime Islamic learnings and sciences. These prayers have been compiled in a form of book which is popularly known as “Al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah” (meaning a book of al-‘Imam al-Sajjad).
AL-‘IMAM MUHAMMAD AL-BAQIR (AS)
During the Imamate of al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS), the way was somewhat paved for the dissemination of Islamic sciences. Owing to the oppression of Umayyads, the ahadith regarding Islamic jurisprudence by the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) were lost. Although thousands Of ahadith are required for Islamic precepts, nevertheless, not even more than 500 ahadith of the Holy Prophet (SA) had remained, that too, from among those which were narrated by the Companions of the Holy Prophet (SA).
In short, during that period, because of the very tragic event of Karbala and as a result of the 35 years of efforts of al-‘Imam al-Sajjad (AS), a great number of Muslims [supporters of Ahl al-Bayt (AS)] emerged but they had no Islamic jurisprudence based on the ahadith of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS ).
Since the government of the Umayyads was weakened due to internal differences and the self-indulgence and inefficiency of government authorities and because the signs of weakness had grown in its governmental structure, the Fifth Imam (AS) took advantage of this opportunity and began to disseminate the sciences of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the Islamic jurisprudence and provided the society with many scholars of his school of thought.
AL-‘IMAM JA’FAR AL-SADIQ (AS)
During the time of the 6th Imam (AS) the conditions were more apt and the circumstances were more favourable for the dissemination of Islamic sciences, because, on the one hand, as a result of the propagation of the ahadith of al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS) and owing to the tablighat by those who were educated in his school, the people had realized their need for Islamic sciences and the Islamic knowledge of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and were more thirsty for obtaining the ahadith.
On the other hand, the government of the Umayyads was overthrown and the government, of the Abbasids had not yet been firmly established when, in order to fulfil their intentions and to undermine the government of the Umayyads, the Abbasids used the tyranny against the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the blood of the martyrs of Karbala as a pretence and thus tried to be apparently good to the Ahl al-Bayt (AS).
The Imam (AS) embarked on teaching and disseminating different branches of knowledge. Scientists, ‘ulama’ and scholars rushed to the Imam’s (AS) house from every direction and were welcomed by the Imam (AS). They asked many questions concerning various branches of Islamic sciences, the Islamic ethics and life-history of the prophets, the history of Ummahs, the wisdom, the tabligh, etc and received the answers accordingly.
The Imam (AS) held discussions with people from different strata and held debates with various peoples and sects. He educated students in different Islamic sciences. Hundreds of books were compiled which recorded the ahadith and scientific lectures of the Imam (AS) which are known as “fundamentals”.
By taking advantage of this brief period, which came handy in the suffocating atmosphere of those days, al-‘Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (AS) educated and trained thousands of learned scholars. As his memorial, the Imam (AS) left many precious treasures of sciences and education in the field of Islamic culture. The number of scholars who had benefited from the Imam’s (AS) vast knowledge and wisdom exceeded 4 000.
Al-‘Imam al-Sadiq (AS) had ordered his students to write down his lessons and to preserve their books and writings. He stated: “A time will come when a chaos will prevail and many of these works will be destroyed. Then you will be in need of these books and writings and these books will serve as the only scientific and Islamic references of Muslims”. For this reason, the students of the Imam (AS) used to bring with them pen and inkpot and put down whatever they heard in his class.
Other than his necessary rest, the Imam (AS) taught the people secretly and publicly round-the-clock and made the treasury of his infinite knowledge available to all.
In short, his sublime remarks and valuable guidances removed ignorance and illiteracy and re-established the true Islam of the Holy Prophet (SA). Thus, he is known as the founder of “Shi’i Islamic jurisprudence”. Shi’ah religion was later called as the “Ja’fari Jurisprudence” after his name.
AL-‘IMAM MUSA AL-KAZIM (AS)
Having overthrown the Umayyads and having taken the position of khilafah in hand, the Abbasids turned to Sane Fatimah and tried to annihilate the Members of the Household of the Holy Prophet (SA) with all their might. They beheaded a group, buried another alive, and placed yet another group of people under the foundations and in the walls of the buildings. They set the house of the 6th Imam (AS) on fire and summoned the Imam (AS) to Iraq several times. In this way, the taqiyyah was more intensely practised during the last days of the life of the 6th Imam (AS). Since the Imam was under strict surveillance, he did not meet anyone except a few particular Shi’ahs. Finally, al-‘Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (AS) was poisoned and martyred by al-Mansur, the Second Caliph of the Abbasids. Thus, during the ‘Imamah of the 7th Imam, al-‘Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), the oppression of the antagonists became more severe and intensified day by day.
In spite of an environment of intense taqiyyah, the 7th Imam (AS) began to disseminate the Islamic knowledge and ma de a large number of ahadith available to the Shi’ahs. It can be said that the ahadith pertaining to Islamic jurisprudence by al-‘Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) stand third in number after those by the 5th and the 6th Imams (AS). Owing to prevailing conditions of intense taqiyyah, in most of the ahadith related by the Imam (AS), he has been referred to by the narrators as “an ‘alim” or as “a righteous worshipper of Allah”, or the like without an explicit mention of his name.
The Imam (AS) was the contemporary of four Abbasid khulafa’ al-Mansur, al-Hadi, al-Mahdi, and Harun, and was always the target of their oppression. Finally, under the order of Harun, he was imprisoned and was transferred from one prison to another for years. At last, al-‘Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) was poisoned as well as martyred in the prison.
AL-IMAM ‘ALI AL-RIDA (AS)
A consideration on the circumstances during that time makes it clear for every clear-sighted person that no matter how much the contemporary khulafa’ and opponents of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) tried to torture and tyrannize the Imams (AS) of Guidance and made the life difficult for their Shi’ahs, the number of the followers of Islam increased day by day and their faith in Islam became stauncher. The Institution of khilafah was a wicked and filthy system in their views.
And this matter was an internal conviction which constantly kept the khulafa’ contemporary with the Imams (AS), in agony; and in fact rendered those khulafa’ helpless and despicable.
After killing his brother al-Amin and becoming the khalifah, al-Ma’mun, the 7th ‘Abbasid caliph, who was also the contemporary of al-‘Imam al-Rida (AS), decided to relieve himself of this internal distress and constant anxiety and put an end to Shi’ah faith by some means other than coercion and oppression.
The policy which al-Ma’mun adopted in order to carry out this plan was to offer his succession to al-‘Imam al-Rida (AS) in order to defame the Imam (AS) in the eyes of the Shi’ahs by accusing him of entering the corrupt system of khilafah and to wash away people’s minds the faith in the eminence and the immaculateness of the Imam (AS). In this way, he thought, no distinction would be left out for the position of Imamah which is the basis of Shi’i faith and the very foundation of this religion would be automatically collapsed.
The implementation of this policy would also bring another success, that is, it would stop the successive movements of Banu Fatimah which were pursued to overthrow the khilafah of the Abbasids; because when the Banu Fatimah would see the transfer of khilafah to themselves, they would naturally refrain from carrying out bloody uprisings. Certainly, after this plan was implemented, the killing of al-‘Imam al-Rida (AS) would not be a difficult task for al-Ma’mun.
Al-Ma’mun, primarily, invited the Imam (AS) to take over the khilafah and after that he invited him to accept the succession. After al-Ma’mun’s accentuation, insistence, and finally threat, the Imam (AS) accepted the succession conditionally, provided that he would have nothing to do with dismissals, appointments, and interference in high positions and matters.
In such a situation, the Imam (AS) embarked on guiding the people and held discussions with men of different faiths and religions as far as he could. He also gave valuable statements and explanations concerning the Islamic sciences and the facts of religion (al-Ma’mun was also excessively interested in religious discussions.) The speeches delivered by al-‘Imam al-Rida (AS) on the principles of Islamic knowledge and sciences are equal in number to those delivered by the Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (AS) and exceed the number of speeches delivered by all the other Imams (AS) in these fields.
One of the blessings of the Imam (AS) was that he was presented with a large number of ahadith by Shi’ahs, which had reached them through the Imam’s reverend fathers (AS), and among these under the direction of the Imam (AS) some of the “ahadith” which were forged and fabricated by wicked people, were identified and eliminated.
When the Imam (AS) travelled from Madinah to Marw as the “successor of the khalifah” he aroused an amazing enthusiasm among the people all through his journey, particularly in Iran. The people rushed from everywhere to meet him, eagerly surrounded him, and learned the teachings and precepts of Islam.
By the unprecedented and surprising attention that the people paid to the Imam (AS), al-Ma’mun found out that his policy was erroneous. In order to make reparation for his political failure, al-Ma’mun poisoned and martyred al-‘Imam al-Rida (AS). Afterwards, the old policy of the khulafa’ towards the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and their Shi’ah followers was again pursued.
AL-‘IMAM MUHAMMAD AL-TAQI (AS),
AL-‘IMAM ‘ALI AL-NAQI (AS),’AND
AL-‘IMAM AL-HASAN AL-‘ASKARI (AS)
The environment in which these three honourable Imams (AS) lived was identical. After the martyrdom of al-‘Imam al-Rida (AS), al-Ma’mun summoned al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Taqi. (AS), who was the only son of al-‘Imam al-Rida (AS) to Baghdah and treated him kindly and affectionately and allowed his daughter to marry the Imam (AS) and kept the Imam (AS) in his own house with full honour.
Although this conduct seemed friendly, but, through this policy, al-Ma’mun had actually placed the Imam (AS) under his strict control in all respects.
Similar circumstances and living conditions continued for al-‘Imam ‘Ali al-Naqi (AS) and al-‘Imam al-Hasan al-‘Askari (AS) in Samarra’, which was the capital of khilafah during their Imamah; they were in fact in prison.
The period of Imamah of these three reverend Imams (AS) is fifty-seven years altogether. The number of Shi’ahs, who were residing in Iran, Iraq, and Syria at the time, was considerably large and had reached hundreds of thousands, among whom there were thousands of scholars of Hadith. In spite of this, the ahadith related from these three Imams (AS) are very few. Also, the lifetime of these three Imams (AS) was short. The ninth Imam (AS), the tenth Imam (AS), and the eleventh Imam (AS) were martyred when they were twenty-five, forty, and twenty-seven years, respectively. All these points serve as a clear evidence that the control, surveillance, and sabotage of the antagonists was very strict during their period and that these great Imams (AS) were unable to perform their duties freely. Nevertheless, valuable ahadith have reached us from these three great Imams (AS) on the Usul al-Din (the fundamental principles of Islam for believing in) and the Furu’ al-Din (the secondary principles of Islam for actions).
IMAM AL-‘ASR, MUHAMMAD
AL-MAHDI AL-MAW’UD (AS)
During the time of al-‘Imam al-Hasan al-‘Askari (AS), the institution of the khilafah had decided to kill the successor of the Imam (AS) by all the ways and means possible in an effort to put an end to the subject of Imamah and consequently to Shi’ah faith. In addition to other aspects, al-Imam al-Hasan al-‘Askari (AS) was also under surveillance from this point of view.
It was for this reason that the birth of al-‘Imam al-Mahdi (AS) was kept secret. Until he became six, till his honourable father was alive, al-‘Imam al-Mahdi (AS) was kept out of sight and no one could see him other than a few devoted and trustworthy Shi’ahs.
After the martyrdom of his father, al-‘Imam al-Mahdi (AS) had al-Ghaybat al-Sughra (the Short Occultation of al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Ma’hdi [AS]) by the order of Allah and answered the questions of the Shi’ahs and resolved their problems through Al-Nuwwab al-Arba’ah (the Four Deputies of Imam al-‘Asr (AS) who had successively attained the eminent position of being the Imam’s (AS) Deputy.
The Imam (AS) then had al-Ghaybat al-Kubra (the Great Occultation of al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi [AS]) until the time when he will appear by the order of Allah to administer justice in the whole world after it gets overwhelmed with injustice and oppression.
A large number of ahadith of the Holy Prophet (SA) and the Imams (AS) have. been related by both Sunnis and Shi’ahs regarding al-‘Imam al-Mahdi (AS) and the characteristics of his absence and appearance. Also, a great number of Shi’ah dignitaries had met the Imam (AS) during the lifetime of his honourable father and had seen his unique personality and had received the good tidings of his Imamah from his honourable father.
Furthermore, in the sections on Nubuwwah and Imamah we have arrived at this conclusion that the human world could never exist without the religion of Allah and an Imam who is the supporter and guardian of the religion of Allah.
THE MORAL CONCLUSION DERIVED FROM
THE POLICY OF THE LEADERS OF RELIGION
In sum up, it becomes evident from the history of the prophets of Allah and the religious leaders that they were realists and followers of truth and used to invite the human world towards realism and adherence to truth. They did not refrain from any self-sacrifice and self-indulgence in this regard.
In other words, they tried that both individuals and human society be brought up and developed as ought to be. They also wanted to see the people adorned by a series of correct thoughts and beliefs without being governed by ignorance or a series of superstitious thoughts. They wanted to see the people accustomed to the especial human disposition without blemishing human purity with an animalistic disposition and by thinking of nothing but devouring one another and filling their belly like beasts and grazing animals. They intended to make men apply the treasure of humanity to their lives in order to gain prosperity in favour of humanity.
Thus, they were the people who did not look for their own prosperity alone, rather they recognized no other duty for the cause of the prosperity of the society and for the world of humanity.
They saw their own welfare and prosperity (the man does not want anything other than this) in being benevolent to others and wanted other people to be so as well; that is, they wanted everybody to like for all whatever they liked for themselves and not to desire for others whatever they did not desire for themselves.
It was due to this realism and adherence to truth that these great men found out the significance of this general human duty (benevolence) and other minor duties which are its ramifications and were endowed with the epithets of self-denial and self-sacrifice. For this very reason, they did not hesitate to offer their lives and properties for the cause of truth. They cut the root of any attributes which resulted malevolence. They did not have stinginess for the lives and properties of others. They were disgusted with egotism and stinginess. They did not tell lies, nor did they slander other people. They did not transgress upon the honour and prestige of others.
The explanation of these epithets and their impact should be studied in more detail in the section on “Ethics”.
Ma’ad is one of the three pillars of the holy religion of Islam and one of the essentials of this pure religion. Every man (without any exception) can tell the difference between good and evil deeds with his Allah-granted nature and considers “benevolence” (although he may not practise it) to be ‘decent and essential act to perform and “evil deeds” (although he may be performing these) to be indecent and an act to essentially avoid. Undoubtedly, goodness and badness, benevolence and malevolence are from the viewpoint of the results and rewards which these two qualities possess. Likewise, there is no doubt that not even a single day exists in this world when the rewards and retribution of good and bad deeds of benefactors and malefactors do not reach them; for we clearly observe that many benefactors spend their lives in extreme bitterness and misery, whereas many malefactors who are fully involved in committing crimes and misdemeanours, with their wicked behaviour and disgraceful character, spend their lives with happiness and prosperity.
For this reason, if in the future and in a world other than this world, no day had been fixed when good and bad deeds would be judged and appropriate recompense would be given, such an attention and care (that benevolence is good and essential and malevolence is bad and to be avoided) would not have been placed in the nature of man.
It should not be imagined that the reward of benevolence, which the man considers good is this that it establishes order in the society and people gain prosperity in their lives and that consequently the benevolent person himself receives a portion of the benefits of his benevolence. In the like manner, it should also not be imagined that a malevolent person, with his indecent conduct and behaviour, disrupts the order of the society and thus he himself finally gets entangled with its unpleasant effects.
Although this kind of thinking is to some extent applicable to disorganised and inefficient individuals; it does not apply to those people who have reached the peak of power and whose happiness and success are not at all influenced by the order and disorder of the society, on the contrary when disturbance and corruption prevail in the society and when the living conditions of the people become gloomy, these individuals get happier and more successful, thus there re mains no reason for the nature of such people to consider benevolence as good and malevolence as bad.
In like manner, although these people are prosperous in their short lives, it should not be imagined that their names will be disgraceful and will bear the dislike of the public forever because of their wicked acts.
This is because the manifestation of their disgraceful names and the unpleasant judgement of the posterity about them occur at a time when these people have passed away and have no impact on their lives full of happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment.
On this account, there will be no reason for man to consider benevolence as good and to acquire it or to consider malevolence as bad and to refrain from it and tend towards the above-mentioned belief. Had there not been the Ma’ad, it would be a superstitious belief.
Therefore, through this pure and firm belief that the Creator of the world has placed in our nature, we should understand that the Almighty Allah will resurrect everyone after death and will look into their deeds. The Almighty Allah will give a good reward and an everlasting blessing to the benefactors for their deeds and will punish the malefactors for their deeds. And this day is called the Yawm al-Qiyamah (Day of Judgement).
MA’AD, RELIGIONS AND FAITHS
All religions and faiths, which call men to the worship of the Almighty Allah and enjoin human beings to do good deeds and prohibit them from bad deeds, express belief in Ma’ad and in the life Hereafter. They have no doubt that benevolence is worthy only when it is followed by a good reward and since this reward is not seen in this world, inevitably it will be given to man in another life in the world Hereafter.
Besides, signs and vestiges, that are observed in the most ancient tombs discovered by the archaelogists, indicate that the early human beings believed in the other life in the world Hereafter and according to their beliefs they used to perform certain formalities and provide things so that the dead may have comforts in the Hereafter.
MA’AD AS IN THE QUR’AN
The Holy Qur’an, through hundreds of Ayat reminds the people of the Ma’ad and negates any doubt regarding it. In many instances, the Qur’an reminds the people of Allah’s absolute might in order to augment the knowledge of people and to eliminate the unlikelihood of the creation of primary things. The Holy Qur’an states:
“Does not man see that We have created him from the sperm? Then lo! he is an open disputant. And he strikes out a likeness for Us and forgets his own creation. Says he: Who will give life to the bones when they are rotten? Say: He will give life to them Who brought them into existence at first, and He is Cognizant of all creation (36:77-79).”
And sometimes the Holy Qur’an draws the attention of people to Ma’ad and entrance into spring after the winter death and reminds men of the power of Allah, as it states:
“And among His signs is this, that you see the earth still, but when We send down on it the water, it stirs and swells: most surely He Who gives it life is the Giver of life to the dead; surely He has power over all things (41:39).”
And sometimes, by using logical reasoning, the Holy Qur’an awakens man’s Allah-given nature to admit this reality, as it states:
“And We did not create the heaven and the earth and what is between them in vain; that is the opinion of those who disbelieve; then woe to those who disbelieve on account of the Fire. Shall We treat those who believe and do good like the mischief-makers on the earth? Or shall We make those who guard (against evil) like the wicked (38:27-28)?”
(This is because those who do good and the wicked will not receive their entire reward and recompense in this world. If ro other world (Hereafter) existed in which each of these groups received their rewards and punishments in accordance with their behaviours and deeds, then both groups would be equal in front of Allah and this is inconsistent with the Divine Justice.)
FROM DEATH TO THE YAWM AL-QIYAMAH [THAT WHICH DIES IS THE BODY NOT THE RUH (SOUL, SELF, OR PERSONALITY)]
From the viewpoint of Islam, man is a creature made of body and soul (body and ruh). The body of man is one of the materialistic compositions and is subject to laws, i.e., it has volume and weight, lives at a specific time and place, and becomes influenced by cold and heat and the like. Gradually, man’s body gets old and worn out and finally gets destroyed in the same manner as it had come into existence some day by the will of the Almighty Allah.
But man’s self is not materialistic and has none of the above-mentioned characteristics, rather the epithets of knowledge, perception, thought, will power, and other spiritual qualities such as affection, rancour, happiness, anguish, fear, hope, and the like are attributed to it. As the self or soul does not possess the above-mentioned materialistic characteristics, spiritual epithets are also far away from these characteristics; rather the heart, the brain, and all the parts of the body submit to the spirit and spiritual qualities in their own innumerable activities and none of the parts of the body can be specified as a centre of command.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And certainly We created man of an extract of clay, then We made him a sperm in a firm resting-place, then We made the sperm a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We covered the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation…(23:12-14).”
THE MEANING OF DEATH FROM
THE VIEWPOINT OF ISLAM
The meaning of death from the viewpoint of Islam is not that man becomes naught and vanishes, rather it means that the soul or self of man which is immortal cuts its attachment and relationship from the body and consequently, the body perishes while the soul continues its life without the body.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And they say: ‘What! when we have become lost in the earth, shall we then certainly be in a new creation?’ Nay! they are disbelievers in the meeting of their Lord. Say: ‘The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die…’ (32:10-11).”
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “You shall not be perished, but you shall be transferred from . one house to another”.
THE WORLD OF BARZAKH (INTERVAL
BETWEEN DEATH AND MA’AD)
Islam believes that man remains alive in a special manner after death. He enjoys blessing and happiness if he is a benefactor and he will be punished if he is a malefactor. He will present himself for public reckoning on the Day of Judgement. The interval between the death of a man and the Ma’ad is called “Barzakh”.
The Almighty Allah states:
“…And before them is Barzakh until the day they are raised (23:100).”
The Almighty Allah also states:
“And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead: nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord (3:169).”
All these innumerable means of living, that are now available to man and that we endeavour to acquire and use them day and night, were not available to man from the beginning of his life on the earth. They have, gradually, been brought into existence by man’s efforts and have been utilized.
But in any case, from the primitive man to the civilized man of today, human beings have never ceased working and striving and through their Allah-given nature, they have tried to provide better means of living. This is because if a man loses his energy and the internal and external organs of h is body such as his eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, and also if his brain, heart, lungs, and liver fail to function properly, he will be nothing but a dead person.
For this reason, man works not only out of necessity, but also because he is a human being, he displays various activities. Since by his commonsense he realizes that he should arrange for the happiness and prosperity of his life in any way possible, he engages in work and effort and moves in the direction of his demands. Therefore, living in any environment and in any manner, religious or non-religious, legal or despotic, urban or nomadic, man feels the necessity of a series of duties and obligations for himself (those things which are indispensable for living). If these duties and obligations are carried out, the reasonable desires of man will be fulfilled and he will lead a happy, comfortable, and prosperous life.
Certainly, the value of these duties and obligations, which are the only means of prosperity, is the humanity itself. We cannot perceive anything more precious and valuable than the humanity and which cannot be exchanged with any other commodity.
Therefore, ‘dutifulness’ and its implementation are the most important practical matters that man confronts in his life, for its value is exactly the same as that of man himself. Whoever refrains from performing his indisputable duties, or sometimes neglects them, he proportionately lapses in morality from the eminent position of humanity and naturally accepts his humility and worthlessness. With every violation of his human duty, such an individual inflicts blows after blows on the body of his society and indeed on his own body as well.
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:
“Most surely man is in loss, except those who believe and do good and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience (103:2-3).”
The Almighty Allah also states:
“Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have wrought… (30:41).”
DIFFERENCE OF OPINION IN THE IDENTIFICATION AND SPECIFICATION OF DUTIES
The importance attached to the identification of duties and their implementation are indisputable obligations in the world of humanity. Never can a human being possessing human nature be found who would deny this reality.
Since human duties have an absolute relationship with man’ s prosperity and life and because the religion differs with non-religious isms and practices as far as views regarding man’s life are concerned, naturally religious duties will differ from the du ties of other non-religious isms and practices.
Religion believes that man has an infinite and endless life which does not terminate with death. The capital of pure and true beliefs, praiseworthy ethics, and good deeds that man has acquired in this world prior to his death, serves as the great investment for his infinite life in the Hereafter.
Therefore, in obligations and duties that religion has formulated for the individuals and the society, the life in the everlasting Hereafter is also taken into consideration.
Religion establishes its provisions in the sphere of theism and the worship and servitude of Allah, the obvious consequence of which will become manifest on the Day of Resurrection.
Non-religious isms and practices (whatever these may be) only take the short and transient life of this world into consideration and formulate duties through which man can benefit more from his materialistic life and material profits which are common between him and other animals.
Indeed with a reasoning which originates from feelings and sentiments of grazing animals and beasts, they draw up an animal life for man. They pay no attention to man’s realism and his everlasting life full with intellectualities.
Therefore, the sublime human ethics (as definite experience indicates) gradually disappear from non-religious communities and the moral decadence of their members becomes clearer and more manifest day by day.
Some people argue that the base of religion is following and also the unquestionable acceptance of a series of duties and regulations; whereas, social policies can be justified by the current logic.
Those who have said so neglect the fact that the rules and regulations which are implemented in the society must be carried out indisputably. No one has ever heard or seen the people of a country following the prevalent laws after argument and scientific discourse or be exempted and free from following the laws whose philosophy they do not understand. Th us, in this respect, the religious and non-religious practices do not differ.
Indeed, through a study of the natural and social conditions of a country and on inquisitiveness in its general policies, one can find out the philosophy behind the generalities of the laws of that country and some of their details (not all).
This also holds true in the case of religious laws. By means of realism and inquisitiveness about creation and man’s natural requirements, one can discover the generalities of the laws of religion which is an innate policy and some of their details.
The Holy Qur’an and many ahadith call the people to reasoning, reflection, and pondering and in some precepts refer to the brief expedience behind the commandments. There are many ahadith available to us from the Holy Prophet (SA) and the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) which state the reasons behind the precepts.
As mentioned in the beginning of this book, the holy religion of Islam is a general and permanent programme that has been descended to the last Prophet, Muhammad (SA), from the Almighty Allah for human life in this world and the Hereafter to be carried out in the human society so as to pull the ship of humanity out of the whirlpool of ignorance and tribulation and carry it to the coast of salvation.
Since religion is a programme of life, it has inevitably specified duties for man on things which are linked to his life and asks him to carry them out.
In general, our life is connected to:
(1) The Almighty Allah Who has created us. Our moral obligation towards His blessings is greater than any other duty and our dutifulness towards His Holy Presence is more obligatory than any other obligation.
(3) Our fellow creatures with whom we are obliged to live and perform our duties and tasks with their cooperation and assistance. Thus, according to the order, we have three general duties: duty towards Allah, duty towards ourselves, and duty towards others.
(1) THE DUTY OF MAN TOWARDS ALLAH
(COGNIZANCE OF ALLAH)
Our duty towards the Almighty Allah is the most important duty of all and we must perform it with a pure heart and a sincere intention. It is the first and foremost duty of man to know his Creator. Since the Almighty Allah is the source of existence of every creature and the originator of every existing phenomenon, the cognizance and knowledge of His pure Entity also illuminates every realistic person. Being inattentive to this moral reality is total ignorance, lack of insight, and irresponsibility. Whoever pays no attention to cognizance of Allah, he consequently puts out the light of his own conscience and thus will have no way of attaining the real human happiness.
As we see, those who refrain from cognizance of Allah and pay no heed to this reality in their lives are completely away from the human spiritualities and have no logic other than the logic of grazing animals and beasts.
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:
“Therefore turn aside from him who turns his back upon Our reminder and does not desire anything but this world’s life. That is their goal of knowledge… (53:29-30).”
Certainly, it should be pinpointed that the cognizance of Allah is necessary and natural for man who is a realistic being endowed with the instinct of reasoning, for man, with his Allah-given commonsense, notices the signs of the Presence of Allah and His Knowledge and Might wherever he looks in the world of creation. Thus, the cognizance of Allah does not mean that man should bring it into existence fox himself, rather it means that the man should not disregard this obvious reality which cannot be covered by any curtain, giving a positive response to his conscience which invites him to Allah and eliminating any doubt from his mind by following this philosophy.
THE WORSHIP OF ALLAH
After cognizance of Allah, our second duty is the worship of Allah. This is because, while recognizing the truth, this reality becomes clear that happiness and prosperity, which are our only objectives, will be attained by implementing and executing the programme which the Almighty Allah has Specified for our lives and has communicated to us through His messengers. Therefore, obeying Allah’s orders and serving him are the only duties of man compared to which other duties seem insignificant and trivial.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him…(17:23).”
The Almighty Allah also states:
“Did I not charge you, O children of Adam! that you should not serve the Shaytan? Surely he is your open enemy. And that you should serve Me; this is the right way (36:60-61).”
Thus it is our duty to recognize the status of our servitude and needs and to keep in mind the infinite Grandeur and Greatness of Allah. We must consider that Allah knows and sees our deeds in every respect and we must obey His commands. It is our obligation not to serve any but Allah and not to obey anyone else except the Holy Prophet (SA) and the A’immat al-Huda (infallible Imams of Guidance) whom we are commanded to obey by the order of Allah.
The Almighty Allah states:
“O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you…(4:59).”
Surely, due to the obedience of Allah and the authorities of religion, we should actually maintain a great respect for anything attributed to Allah. We must respect the holy name of Allah and the names of the leaders of religion. We must endeavour for the honour of the Divine Book (the Holy Qur’an), the honoured Ka’bah, and the holy mosques and the holy shrines of the leaders of religion, as the Almighty Allah states:
“…and whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts (22:32).”
(2) THE DUTY OF MAN TOWARDS HIMSELF
No matter what policy or course of action man pursues in his life, indeed he looks after nothing but his happiness and prosperity. The recognition of the happiness of something is of minor importance with regard to-the recognition of the thing itself; that is, unless we know ourselves, we will not know our actual needs whose fulfilment provides us with happiness. Therefore, the most essential duty of man is to know himself so as to perceive his happiness and prosperity and endeavour to fulfil his needs by the means that are at his disposal. He must not waste away his valuable life which is his only treasure.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “whoever knows himself knows his Allah”.
And Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali (AS), states: “whoever knows himself, attains the highest position of knowledge.”
After knowing himself, man realizes that his greatest duty is to value highly the essence of his humanity and not to trample upon such a valuable treasure. He also finds that he must strive for his physical and mental health so as to attain a prosperous and delightful eternal life.
Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali (AS) states: “Carnal desires will be low and insignificant to whoever respects himself.”
The entity of man is comprised of two things: self or personality and body. It is man’s responsibility to try to keep both these essential parts, i.e., the self or soul and body healthy and stable. He is duty bound to endeavour for the health of his soul and body in accordance with the adequate and precise orders given on both of them by the holy religion of Islam.
Abstaining from Harmful Things: Through a series of rules and regulations, the holy religion of Islam has adequately safeguarded the physical health such as enjoining people not to eat corpse, blood, flesh of some animals, and poisonous food; prohibiting them from drinking alcoholic beverages and polluted water; over eating; causing harm to the body; and other directives which are beyond the scope of this chapter.
Keeping Clean: Cleanliness is one of the most important principles of health. For this reason, great importance has been attached to this principle in the holy Shari’ah of Islam. The importance given by Islam to cleanliness cannot be found in any other religion.
The Holy Prophet (SA) has stated: “Cleanliness is a part and parcel of Islamic faith” and this, by itself, is the greatest praise for cleanliness.
Repeated recommendations have reached us from the leaders of Islam in regard to taking bath. Al-‘Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (AS) states: “Taking a bath every other day makes man healthy and stout.”
Al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) states: “Bathroom is a very good place since it removes the dirtiness of man.”
In addition to giving general orders concerning cleanliness and neatness, Islam enjoins in particular for each and every cleanliness; for instance, it orders the people to pare the nails of their hands and feet, to shave arid remove the excess hair on their bodies and heads, to wash their hands before and after meals, to comb their hair, to gargle with water and inhale water, to sweep their homes, and to keep clean the roads, house doors, ground under the trees, etc.
Beside these orders, Islam has specified certain actions which are linked with permanent taharah and neatness such as for reciting salat and having sawm, removing the najasahs (impurities) from the body and the clothes, performing several times everyday the wudu’ before reciting the salawat, and performing various ghusls. (taking bath according to the specified Islamic manner). From the fact that water should reach the surface of the body during wudu’ before salat and ghusl and that the body should not be dirty and greasy, it becomes clear that the cleanliness of the body is implicitly essential.
The Neatness of Clothes: The Surat al-Muddaththir is one of the suwar which was revealed to the Holy Prophet (SA) in the early stages of his prophetic mission. In the fourth verse of this surah, Allah orders the people for taharah of their clothes:
“And do taharah of your garments (74:4).”
The taharah of garments is wajib for salat according to specific Islamic jurisprudential order, but, in general, taharah from uncleanliness and dirtiness is always recommended. Many recommendations have reached us from each of the Fourteen Ma’sumin (AS) in this regard. The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “Whoever puts on clothes should clean them as well.” Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali (AS) states: “Washing garments relieves one from grief and anxiety and neat clothes are a means for acceptance of his salat.”
It has been narrated from al-‘Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (AS) and al-‘Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) that possessing ten or twenty shirts and changing them is not extravagance.
In addition to the cleanliness and taharah of garments and body, a Muslim must also be well-dressed and must meet the people with the best possible appearance and looks. Al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) states: “Put on beautiful clothes and dress yourself up, for Allah is good and likes the good things, but these should be religiously lawful.” Then, al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS) reads the following verse:
“Say: Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions…(7:32)?”
Gargling with Water and Brushing the Teeth: Being a channel for food, the mouth of man gets contaminated due to eating food. Food particles remain in the roots of the teeth, on the tongue, and in all other parts of the mouth thus rendering the mouth contaminated and malodorous. Sometimes, as a result of fermentations and chemical actions and reactions that take place in food particles , poisonous matters are formed which get mixed with the food and then enter the stomach. Moreover, the breath of such a person in a gathering pollutes the air and annoys other people.
Therefore, the holy religion of Islam has ordered the Muslims to brush their teeth everyday (especially before each wudu’) gargle their mouth with pure water, and clean their mouth from contamination.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “If it were not for the fear of hardship and indigence, I would have made brushing the teeth wajib upon Muslims.” Elsewhere, the Holy Prophet (SA) states: “Jibril always recommended brushing the teeth to an extent that I even imagined it would become incumbent upon the Muslims later on.”
Breathing: Breathing is one of the essential needs of man in his life. Quite often, the current of air surrounding man’s residential area is not without dust and dirt. Surely, breathing such an air is harmful for the respiratory system. To protect against this harm, the Compassionate Allah has provided hair inside man’s nose. This hair prevents the entrance of dust and dirt into the lungs. Nevertheless, sometimes the hair of the nose cannot fully perform its function because of the accumulation of dirt and dust in the nose. For this reason, Islam has issued orders for Muslims to inhale water several times a day while having wudu’ so as to protect the health of their respiratory system by inhaling clean water through their nostrils.
Moral Refinement: With his Allah-given conscience, man perceives the value of praiseworthy ethics and realises its significance from the individual and social viewpoints. Thus, there is no one in the human society who does not praise good ethics and who does not respect those who are endowed with praiseworthy ethics.
The value that man attaches for praiseworthy ethics needs no further explanation and the elaborate orders of Islam on ethics are thoroughly clear for everybody.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And the soul and Him Who made it pure, then He inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it; he will indeed be successful who purifies it, and he will indeed fail who corrupts it (91:7-10).”
While interpreting this verse, al-‘Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (AS) has stated: “The Almighty Allah has revealed to man the things which are good for him and must be put into effect and the things which are bad for him and must be avoided.”
RECEIVING EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE
One of the praiseworthy intellectual attributes is to have knowledge. The virtue and superiority of a knowledgeable man over an ignorant person is absolutely clear.
Wisdom and knowledge distinguish a man from other animals. Other animals, with their particular characteristics, are endowed with invariable instincts in accordance with which they meet the needs of their lives. There is no scope for elevation and progress in the lives of animals and they cannot open up new gates to themselves and to others. It is only man who augments his existing knowledge with new knowledge through his wisdom and attains a new value and splendour for his materialistic and spiritual life by discovering the laws of nature and metaphysics. It is only man who takes a deep look into the past periods and lays the foundation for his own future and the future of others.
More than all the new and old social systems of all religions and faiths, Islam encourages the people to acquire knowledge and learning. In order to establish a fundamental culture and civilization, Islam has made receiving the education as wajib upon every Muslim man and woman. Many orders have been handed down to us from the Holy Prophet (SA) and religious leaders in this regard. The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “Education is wajib upon every Muslim.” In this hadith, knowledge is described in an absolute form and includes all branches of science. There is no exception even as far as women and men are concerned. Thus, the acquisition of knowledge and learning in Islam is not intended to apply only to a particular nature or type. On the contrary, the duty of acquiring knowledge is universal and all-embracing.
The Holy Prophet (SA) also states: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” Every religious precept has a specific time and for all of them maturity is a necessary condition: i.e., the person, for whom the religious principles are applicable, must have reached maturity. The religious precepts are not wajib upon a person unless he has reached maturity. Some of the religious wajibat are no longer applicable during old age and at the time of weakness, but acquiring knowledge and learning is wajib for man since his birth until his death. In other words, acquiring knowledge is wajib at all the stages of man’s life. On the basis of this principle, a Muslim should acquire knowledge all through his life and should add to his knowledge day by day. This hadith, too, has extended and generalized the time of this wajib obligation.
The Holy Prophet (SA) also states: “Go for seeking knowledge even if it may be in China (i.e., far away).” Another hadith states: “Knowledge is the most valuable thing that the believer has lost. He should go after it, even if he finds it in China (the farthest points in the world).” According to this commandment, every Muslim is obliged to acquire knowledge even if long journeys are required for this purpose. Finally, he should endeavour to find at any cost what he has lost.
The Holy Prophet (SA) also said in another hadih: “knowledge is what a believer has lost. He must get it back from wherever he finds.” However, in acquiring knowledge, the only condition is that it should be appropriate and beneficial to the societies.
Islam highly recommends man to know the secrets of creation and to think about the heavens, the earth, the human nature, the history of nations and peoples, and the works of former generations (philosophy, mathematics, natural sciences, etc). Also, learning moral and religious matters (ethics and Islamic laws) and different kinds of arts which shape man’s life are highly encouraged and stressed by Islam. Indeed, the importance of knowledge is so great from the viewpoint of the Holy Prophet (SA) that in the Battle of Badr when the Muslims took a group of the unbelievers as captives, the Holy Prophet (SA) ordered every captive to be released by paying exorbitant sums of money. Only a group of the captives, who were literate, became exempt from paying such money provided that each of them teaches ten Muslim youths to read and write.
Thus for the first time, adult schools (adult classes) were established in the world and this great honour was ascribed to the Muslims in the history of the world. Interestingly enough, once for all in the history of man, teaching knowledge was accepted instead of war-spoils by the order of the Holy Prophet (SA). Neither before nor after that had anyone in the world witnessed a victorious commander accept the teaching of children instead of ransom and war-spoils.
The Holy Prophet (SA) went to those adult classes in person and took with him those who knew reading and writing. He asked them to test the children to find out how much progress they had made in their lessons and practice. The Holy Prophet (SA) used to encourage more any child who was found more diligent in learning.
Even one of the historians writes:
“A woman named “Al-Shifa’,” who had learned reading and writing during the “period of ignorance,” used to go to the house of the Holy Prophet (SA) and teach the wives of the Holy Prophet (SA) how to read and write. For this reason, she was appreciated, encouraged, and rewarded by the Holy Prophet (SA).”
THE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF A
STUDENT FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF ISLAM
The importance of endeavour in attaining any objective equals the objective itself. Since every man, with his Allah given nature, considers the importance of knowledge in the human world higher than anything else, the value of one who seeks knowledge will be the highest of all. Since the religion of Islam is established on the basis of man’s nature, it undoubtedly attaches the highest value to students. The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “He who is engaged in acquiring knowledge is loved by Allah.”
Although jihad (Islamic war) is one of the pillars of Islam and if the Holy Prophet (SA) or any of the infallible Imams (AS) issues the order for war, all Muslims must take part in it, those who are engaged in learning Islamic sciences and theology are exempt from this duty. At all times, a sufficient number of Muslims must engage themselves in studying at Islamic education centres. The Almighty Allah states:
“And it does not beseem the believers that they should go forth all together; why should not then a section from every group from among them go forth that they may apply themselves to obtain understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they come back to them that they may be cautious (9:122)?”
THE IMPORTANCE OF A TEACHER
AND AN INSTRUCTOR
The teacher is a warm and luminous centre who gets strength from the light of knowledge in order to eradicate ignorance and illiteracy in the whole world. It is the teacher who makes the blind-hearted and the ignorants clear-sighted and wise and takes them, with the assistance of the luminous torch of knowledge and education, to the holy valley and the heaven of prosperity.
For this reason, respect for teachers is essential and obedience towards them is obligatory in the religion of Islam. Teachers are considered the holiest and the most exalted individuals in the human society. Regarding the great and deserving status of teachers, it suffices to say that Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali (AS) states: “He who taught me a word has indeed made me his slave.”
These wise words are very valuable in paying respect to the status of teachers.
Also, Amir al-Mu’minin states: “The people are divided into three groups: the first group consists of the ‘ulama’ of Islam; the second one consists of those who acquire knowledge for the salvation of themselves and others; and the third one consists of those who lack knowledge and wisdom. These (people constituting the third group) people are like flies that sit on the head and face of animals and fly in different directions with the blow of each wind (or fly in any direction from which they smell bad odour of filth)”.
PAYING RESPECT TO THE LEARNED MEN
While describing about the high status and value of knowledge and the dignity of the learned men, the Holy Qur’an states:
“…Allah will exalt those of you who believe, and those who are given knowledge, in high degrees…(58:11).”
The value of scholars is so great to the Prophet (SA) of Islam that he stated: “The death of a tribe is easier and less detrimental than the death of a scholar.” Similarly, the Almighty Allah also states in another verse:
“…Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful (39:9).”
Thus the alim (Islamic scholar) and the ignorant are never alike. A learned and wise man has obvious superiority over anyone who lacks knowledge. The conclusion drawn from this Qur’anic verse indicates that in the view of the Qur’an the term ‘knowledge’ does not exclusively apply to Islamic knowledge, rather it covers anything which gives man insight and enlightenment and helps him in his worldly and heavenly affairs.
Regarding the superiority of scholars over the worshippers of Allah and the devout people, the following has been related from al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS): “A scholar who puts his knowledge into use is superior to seventy thousand worshippers and has preference over them.”
The Prophet (SA) of Islam believes that the status of personality of a man is determined by his knowledge. The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “The most learned man is one who adds to his own knowledge by deriving benefit from the knowledge of others. The value of man is determined by his knowledge. Thus, the more knowledgeable a man is, the more valuable he is, and also the less knowledgeable a man is, the less valuable he is.”
THE DUTIES OF TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
The Holy Qur’an considers knowledge and learning as man’s true life, because in the absence of knowledge, man would not have been different from an inanimate object and a deceased person.
Therefore, a student should consider his teacher as a focus of life from whom he gradually receives details of his actual life. For this reason, he should owe his life to the teacher and should not fall short of respecting him. He must not show stubbornness in receiving lessons from the teacher even if they are accompanied with harshness. The student must respect his teacher in his presence or absence and during his lifetime and after his death.
Similarly, the teacher should also feel responsible for the life of his students. He must not be tired nor he must take rest as long as he has not led his students to the status of live and honourable men. The teacher should not get disappointed if at times the students do not exercise proper care to receiving his teachings. He must encourage and reward his students if they progress in their education. The teacher must never depress the morale of his students by his words and deeds.
TWO IMPORTANT MASTERPIECES
IN THE TEACHINGS OF ISLAM
Each of the social policies that is current in various human societies contains a series of secrets. If these secrets become manifest to the people, the status of the leaders of the society and their carnal desires will be jeopardized. For this reason, they always hide some realities from the public. The reason behind this is that most of the matters are the creations of their minds. Since these are against reason and the interest of the community and the individuals, they are afraid that they would face a flood of objections and the jeopardy of their interests if these secrets are discovered. For this reason, Christian churches and the intellectual and spiritual centres of other religions do not allow the people to think freely, rather they reserve the right of changing and explaining the religious teachings and the contents of religious books for themselves. They say that it is the duty of the people to accept whatever they say indisputably and without any discussion and inquisitiveness. It is this very policy that h us marred many religious policies. The existing policy of Christianity is a veracious proof for this statement.
But since Islam has confidence in its rightfulness, unlike all other religious and non-religious policies, it sees no ambiguity or lack of clarity in its path.
(1) Islam does not conceal any rightful matter, nor does it allow its followers to keep any rightful matters as secrets. This is because the laws of this pure religion are formulated according to the laws of nature and creation, thus none of its truths and realities can be denied.
Concealing realities is one of the major sins. In His words, the Almighty Allah has cursed those who conceal the truth, where He states:
“Surely those who conceal the clear proofs and the guidance that We revealed after We made it clear in the Book for men, these it is whom Allah shall curse and those who curse shall curse them (too) (2:159).”
(2) Islam has ordered its followers to think freely about the realities and the teachings and to stop moving along whenever they see the slightest ambiguity; so that their clear faiths may always remain intact from the harm of the darkness of any doubts and uncertainties. Islam also orders the people to try to remove any doubts and uncertainties in a just and truth-seeking manner and strive to solve them freely if they are faced with them. The Almighty Allah states:
“And follow not that of which you have not the knowledge…(17:36).”
ABSTAINING FROM FREE THINKING
AND EXPRESSION OF TRUTH
The perception of the realities through thinking and reflection and their recognition are the most valuable virtues of man, the only feature of his superiority over other animals, and the basis of his dignity and honour. The feeling of love for humanity and the instinct of realism will never allow man to be deprived of the freedom of thought by the imposition of imitative thinking. Neither will they allow wisdom to be led astray by concealing the realities, so that divine thinking would cease. This fact, however, should not be neglected that when man is unable to understand a reality or when, due to stubbornness and persistence of the other side, there is no hope for the establishment of reality and its expression will cause a loss to man’s property, life, and, reputation, the instinct of realism and the love for humanity judge on the contrary. In order to respect the reality and to safeguard man from the danger of aberration and other dangers to his property, life, and honour, the instinct of realism and humanity call for the concealment of realities.
Through many ahadith, the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (AS) have seriously prohibited the people from thinking on some of the realities which are beyond the level of understanding of man.
The Almighty Allah authorizes the concealment of reality in the case of taqiyyah (dissimulation) in two instances (Holy Qur’an, Surah 3, Ayah 28 and Surah 16, Ayah 106).
In several cases, Islam considers the concealment of truths and realities not only harmless but also necessary:
(1) Taqiyyah is applied where there is no hope for the establishment of truth and when the expression of the truth will cause danger to one’s property, life, and honour.
(2) When truth is not intelligible for someone and its expression may lead him astray or may cause disdain and insult towards the truth.
(3) When due to the lack of capability free thinking reveals the truth in an untrue way and leads to aberration.
IJTIHAD (DEDUCTION OF COMMANDMENTS BASED ON ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALS) AND TAQLID (FOLLOWING A MUJTAHID IN PRACTISING ISLAMIC LAWS)
The requirements of man in his environment and the measures that he must take to arrange them are so great that a common man cannot enumerate them let alone specializing in all of them and obtaining enough knowledge concerning them.
On the other hand, since man performs his tasks by means of thinking and will power, he should have sufficient information when he wants to take a decision. He will be unable to take decisions if he lacks sufficient information. He must either be fully qualified himself to take any course of action or he must ask someone who is endowed with qualifications and so perform his duties according to his instructions. For instance, we instinctively refer to a doctor for the treatment of our ailments, to a civil engineer for the plan of a building, to a mason for masonry work, and to a carpenter for making doors and windows.
Thus we always spend our lives by means of taqlid or following others even for insignificant matters.
Whoever says: “I do not follow another person in my life”, either he does not understand the meaning of his words or is affected by a mental sickness. Islam, which has based its religious laws on the human nature, has also adopted the same policy.
Islam orders its followers to learn the religious teachings and precepts. The source of these teachings is nothing but the Divine Book, i.e., Qur’an and the ahadith of the Holy Prophet (SA) and the infallible Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (AS).
It is obvious that obtaining all religious teachings from the Qur’an and the ahadith is not an easy task. Such a task is not possible for all Muslims and only a limited number of people can accomplish this task.
Therefore, this religious order naturally takes the form that a group of Muslims, who are not able to acquire the teachings and precepts through reasoning, should refer to those who have obtained the Islamic commandments through proofs and reasoning, and should then perform their duties.
A scholar who obtains Islamic commandments through proofs and reasoning is called “mujtahid” and his endeavour in this regard is called “ijtihad” One who refers to the mujtahid is called “muqallid” (one who follows a mujtahid’s instructions for performing his deeds) and his referring to the mujtahid is called taqlid (following a mujtahid in practising Islamic laws).
Surely, it should be known that taqlid holds true in worships, transactions, and other practical rules of Islam, but in regard to Usul al-Din (the fundamental principles of Islam) which are matters of belief, one can never have confidence in the views of others and cannot content himself with following them. This is because in the case of the fundamental principles of Islam, faith and belief are desirable and not action. We can never consider the faith of others to be our own.
It cannot be said that Allah is One because our fathers or scholars say so or that the Hereafter is true since all Muslims believe in it.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon every Muslim to know the Usul al-Din of his religion through reasoning and proof even if it may be a very simple one.
(3) THE DUTY OF MAN TOWARDS OTHERS
These duties can be described as follows:
THE DUTY OF MAN TOWARDS HIS PARENTS
Parents are the means of the creation of a child and the imparters of his initial education and training; therefore, the holy religion of Islam has placed a great deal of emphasis on children’s obeying to them and on their respect to an extent that the Almighty Allah has commanded the people to be kind and generous to their parents right after mentioning Tawhid (the Oneness of Allah) and states:
“And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him and has commanded goodness to your parents…(17:23).”
In ahadith enumerating mortal sins, misconduct towards parents ranks second to shirk (polytheism). The Almighty Allah states:
“…If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “ugh” nor chide them, and speak to them generous words. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: ‘O my Lord! have compassion on them, similar to what they had on me when they brought me up (when I was) little’ (17:23-24).”
How well did an old woman say to her child when she saw him powerful and bulky.
If you recalled your childhood
When you were helpless in my arms,
You would not treat me unkindly today
As you are a brave man and I am an old woman.
In the holy religion of Islam, obedience of the parents is wajib except in the case when they order the children to give up one of the wajib deeds of religion or perform a religiously haram act. It has been proven by experience that those who tease their parents do not remain happy and prosperous in their lives and consequently they will not attain salvation.
THE RIGHTS OF PARENTS
In a family circle, the relationship of parents to their children is like that of the roots of a tree to its branches because the continuity and survival of the branches of the tree depend upon its roots. Parents are also the founders of the children’s life. Since the human society is comprised of the two categories, i.e., parents and children, parents are the main roots of the human society.
Besides being an utmost ingratitude and cowardice, misbehaviour towards the parents and annoying them also cause the decadence of humanity and the annihilation of the society. This is because the disrespect of children towards their parents will be reflected by the parents in the form of unkindliness and disfavour towards them. On the other hand, if the children look towards their parents with disrespect and lowliness, they cannot expect anything better from their own children and will not depend upon the help of their children when they reach the age of debility and infirmity. Thus they naturally become disappointed to form a family, as is the case with many of the young people of the present age.
Generalization of this kind of thinking will definitely obstruct the path of regeneration and reproduction, because a wise man will never devote his valuable life to nurture a young tree from whose fruits he will not benefit, under whose shadow he will not sit, and that looking towards it will render him no benefit but grief and anguish. We might assume that the governments can encourage the people to set up families by giving them various rewards and incentives and thus eliminate the problems of regeneration and reproduction; but it should be noted that the social methods and customs that are devoid of natural backing (like parent-children affection) cannot last.
Besides this fact, not benefiting from one of the natural instincts will inevitably deprive man of a series of pure spiritual pleasures.
THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN ON PARENTS
The works that a man must perform for someone who is the beneficiary are called huquq (rights) and the works that a person must perform are called duties, orders, and obligations. For instance, it is the duty of an employer to pay the wages of his employee and it is the right of the employee to receive it after performing a task for him. If the employer does not pay the wages, the employee can demand it and defend his right.
Since man is created in such a manner that his life is not everlasting in this world and because willingly or not he dies after some time, Allah has established the method of reproduction, has provided people with the means of reproduction, and has directed man’s inner feelings towards it in order to safeguard the mankind from total annihilation.
It is because of this overall mobilization that man naturally considers his child to be an inherent part of himself and assumes his child’s survival to be that of his own. For this very reason, man goes through all kinds of endeavours and makes efforts for the comfort and happiness of his children and endures various hardships, for he considers the annihilation of his child or his child’s personality to be his own annihilation or the annihilation of his own personality.
Indeed, man obeys the order of the world of creation which demands the survival of mankind. Thus it is the duty of parents to implement the order enjoined by conscience and religious laws with regard to their children and to bring them up very well, so that they may grow into decent human beings. Parents are also duty bound to consider rightful for their children those things that they consider rightful for themselves from the viewpoint of humanity. Some of the duties of parents are as given below.
(1) Parents must establish and make firm the foundation of praiseworthy ethics and decent attributes in the natures of their children from the very first day that they begin to understand words and signs. They must not frighten their children with superstitious subjects as much as they can. They must prevent them from committing evil and unchaste acts. The parents, too, must avoid lying, ill-speaking, and using bad language and obscene words in front of the children. The parents should perform decent deeds, so that the children might be brought up as chaste and magnanimous people. Parents must endeavour and show motivation and justice, so as to transfer to their children the love for justice and humanity through the law of “the transfer of ethics” in order to keep their children away from oppression, meanness, and selfish ness.
(2) Parents should patronize their children for their eating, sleeping, and other requirements for living until they attain the age of discernment. They must have consideration for the physical health of their children so that they may have a healthy body and a strong mind and temper ready to be educated and trained.
(3) Parents should put their children under the care of a teacher from the time they get aptitude for education (usually from seventh year of their age). Parents should make every effort to place their children. under the care of a decent teacher, so that they may get good and desirable impressions from what they hear and so that such a teacher would become the source of inspiration and cause the refinement of their spirit, the purification of their soul, and the cultivation of their ethics.
(4) Parents should take their children along with them to gatherings in order to familiarize them with social customs and praiseworthy etiquette when their age calls for participation in social gatherings or family visits.
RESPECT FOR THE ELDERS
It is also required to respect the elders, as the Holy Prophet (SA) states: “The glorification and respect for the elders is the glorification and respect for Allah.”
MAN’S DUTY TOWARDS HIS RELATIVES
The paternal and maternal relatives, who have a consanguineous and near relationship, are the natural means for the formation of the society. Due to the similarity of blood and cells, man becomes part of a family. For the sake of this unity and natural relationship, Islam orders its followers to observe the kinship bonds with kindness. Strong recommendations have been made in the Qur’an and the ahadith of religious leaders in this respect. The Almighty Allah states:
“…And be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you (4:1).”
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “I enjoin my Ummah (people) to observe the kinship bonds with kindness. Even if the relatives are separated from one another by a year-long distance, they should not disconnect the kinship bonds of their relationship.”
MAN’S DUTY TOWARDS HIS NEIGHBOURS
Since neighbours very often come in contact with one another due to the proximity of their residential area and naturally – as they constitute a larger family, the good behaviour and the misbehaviour of one of them will have more effect on other neighbours than that of all others.
He, who spends the night with clamour in his house, does not annoy anyone residing in the remote corner of the city, but he disturbs his neighbour’s peace. A wealthy man who spends his life in feasting and drinking in his beautiful palace is far away from the sight of the poor, but he burns the heart of his indigent neighbour living in a clay-hut. Surely, a day will come when this wealthy man will duly be punished. For this reason, taking care of the neighbours has been highly emphasized in the holy religion of Islam.
The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “Jibril recommended to me about the neighbours to such an extent that I thought the Almighty Allah would appoint one’s neighbour as one of his heirs.” He also stated: “whoever believes in Allah and in Ma’ad, never does injustice to his neighbour, lends him money if he asks for it, and shares his grief and happiness. One should not annoy his neighbour even if he is an unbeliever.”
He also states: “He, who hurts his neighbour, will not smell the fragrance of Paradise and he, who disregards the rights of his neighbour, is not my follower. Whoever has had enough to eat and does not help his neighbour after knowing that he is hungry, is not a Muslim.”
MAN’S DUTY TOWARDS THE INFERIOR
AND THE POOR
There is no doubt that the establishment of a society is to fulfil the needs of the individuals. The most important duty of the members of any society is to help the helpless and the weak and to eliminate in some way the needs of those who are unable to eliminate these by themselves.
It has been thoroughly clarified nowadays that the carelessness of the rich towards the difficulties of the poor is the greatest danger that can destroy a society and that the rich will be the first victim of this danger.
Taking this danger into consideration, fourteen centuries ago, Islam ordered the rich to distribute a portion of their wealth among the poor and the helpless annually. If the said amount is sufficient to eliminate the needs of the poor, it is recommended that the rich donate as much as they can for the cause of Allah so as to improve the living conditions of the poor.
The Almighty Allah states:
“By no means shall you attain to righteousness until you spend (benevevolently) out of what you love… (3:92).”
The ahadith on the subject of serving the humanity are innumerable. The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “The best of men is one who is more beneficial for the people.” He also stated: “In Ma’ad, a person who has taken greater steps towards charitable acts for the servants of Allah will be placed in a higher status before the Almighty Allah.”
Help friends at the time of calamity so that you may have favours of Allah. Somehow you will someday reap the seeds of goodness that you sow today.
MAN’S DUTY TOWARDS THE SOCIETY
As we know, human beings work with joint effort. They take advantage of each others’ endeavours to eliminate the needs of their life. The society established by these individuals is similar to a “great man” and each individual is like an organ of this great man’s body.
Each organ of the body performs its own specific function and makes up for its own weaknesses by benefiting from the functions of other organs; that is, in its sphere of activity, each organ provides its interests while providing the interests of other organs and continues its life in the light of the life of other organs. If some organs acted selfishly and were of no use to other organs; for example, if while the hands or feet were functioning, the eyes did not cooperate with them or if the mouth only contented itself with chewing and enjoying the food without swallowing it to satisfy the needs of the stomach, man would die and, as a result, the same self-centred and self-seeking organ would also die.
The duty of the members of a society is exactly like the duty of the organs of a body, i.e., man must look for his interests within the framework of the interests of the society. He must consider what benefits the society would derive from his efforts so that by his efforts all are benefited and he also gets benefited. He must defend the rights of others so that his own rights would not be violated.
This is a fact which we realize with our Allah-given nature. The holy religion of Islam, which is established on the basis of nature and creation, does not have the commandments and views other than these on this matter.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “A Muslim is one from whose hand and tongue Muslims are safe.”
He further states: “Muslims are brothers and are like a single-hand, single-heart, and single-direction against aliens.”
He also states: “Whoever does not care about the affairs of the Muslims is not a Muslim.”
For the Battle of Tabuk when the Holy Prophet (SA) set out with the army of Islam for the frontier of Rome, three Muslims did not participate in the battle. After the return of the army of Islam, when these three persons welcomed and greeted the Holy Prophet (SA), the Prophet (SA) turned his face and did not answer their greetings. In the like manner, the Muslims also turned their faces from these three men. No one, in Madinah, not even their wives, talked to them. Consequently, they became helpless and sought refuge in the mountains of Madinah and engaged themselves in repentance and contrition until Allah accepted their repentance after several days and then they returned to the city.
In the Qur’an and the ahadith of the religious leaders, justice is of two kinds: individual and social. Both are highly regarded by the holy religion of Islam.
The individual justice means that the man should abstain from falsehood, backbiting, and other major sins. He should not insist on committing other sins. He who is endowed with this quality is called ‘Adil (just). According to the Islamic regulations, if such a man has educational ability as well, he can take charge of judicial and governmental positions, or he can become a religious authority or maintain other social positions. But the one who is deprived of this religious personality cannot enjoy these privileges even though he may be a scholar.
Social justice means that man should not trespass upon the rights of others. He should consider all the people equal by the divine laws. He should not exceed justice in implementing religious laws. He must not be influenced by feelings and sentiments. He must not deviate from the right path. The Almighty Allah states:
“Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice…(16:90).”
Again He states:
“…And that when you judge between people you judge with justice…(4:58).”
Orders have been issued in many Qur’anic verses and ahadith to consider justice in words and deeds. In several cases, the Almighty Allah has explicitly cursed the oppressors.
TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION
The Almighty Allah has repeatedly mentioned about tyranny in His Divine Book and has reproached this indecent quality which is a characteristic of the beasts (in two-thirds of the number of Surahs of the Holy Qur’an, which are 114, there is a discussion on tyranny).
There is no one who has not felt the badness and unfairness of tyranny by his own nature or who more or less does not know what painful calamities have come upon human society, what bloodsheds have taken place, and what a large number of houses have been demolished due to tyranny and oppression.
It has been proven by experience that the palace of tyranny will not last long no matter how strong it may be and sooner or later, it will collapse on the heads of the oppressors. The Almighty Allah states:
“…Surely Allah does not guide the unjust people (6:144).”
Religious authorities have also stated: “Monarchy and kingdom will last with blasphemy, but these will not stabilise with tyranny and oppression.”
Being bound to live in a society, man has no escape from the company of people. Undoubtedly, man associates with other people to protect his own social status, to further h is material and spiritual advancement day by day, and to solve the difficulties of his life better and with greater ease.
Thus he must behave with other people in such a way so as to attain endearment, to augment his social honour day by day, and to add to the number of his friends. If people see unfriendliness or bitterness in the behaviour of others, their hearts will be filled with abomination and anguish. Finally, a day will come when everyone will escape from the company of such a person and he will be hated and disfavoured by others. He must then live all alone and as a stranger in his native land. This is one of the most bitter and most unpleasant examples of man’s misfortune. This is what the holy religion of Islam has enjoined its followers to have good social behaviour and has prescribed the best etiquettes and instructions in this respect. For example, Islam has ordered Muslims to greet when they meet one another and has considered the person who greets first to be superior to the other.
The Holy Prophet (SA) took the lead in greeting others. He even greeted women and children. If someone greeted the Holy Prophet (SA), he would in turn greet him better.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better (greeting) than it or return it…(4:86).”
Allah has also stated that man should show humbleness and modesty in his association with people and should respect others commensurate with their social status.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And the servants of the Beneficent Allah are they who walk on the earth in humbleness…(25:63).”
The point that should be mentioned is that humbleness and modesty do not mean that man should degrade himself before the people and thus hurt his personality, rather these mean that man should not show off his superiorities and honours to the people and should not associate with himself other extraordinary privileges. One must not consider the people degraded and insignificant. Similarly, respect to the people does not mean that one should respect others to an extent bordering on flattery and buttering, rather it means that one must value everyone according to his religious and social status. One should respect the dignitaries commensurate with their rank and status. One must also respect the others according to their observation of human qualities.
Again paying respect to people does not mean that m an should keep mum and overlook the indecent acts of people. Neither it means that man should associate with the people in a gathering in which all act against human prestige or carry out an action against religious principles. It doesn’t mean that man should go with the stream for the fear of defamation either, for the people should, in fact, be respected on the basis of their human dignity and their religious and moral values, not because of their physique and stature. If a man loses his human dignity and religious value, there will be no reason for his being respected by the others.
The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “One should not commit a sin before Allah for the sake of obeying others.”
TEASING PEOPLE AND MISCHIEVOUSNESS
These two attributes are closely linked together, for teasing people means annoying them and inflicting pain on them either by means of the tongue, such as cursing and using words which annoy others, or by means of the hands, such as performing an action to make the people unhappy. Mischievousness means doing things to cause evil for the people. At any rate, these two attributes are at the opposite pole of the dreams of comfort of life and peace of mind, for the sake of which, man has established the society.
Therefore, the religion of Islam, which gives the top priority to the interests of the society, has forbidden the people to tease others and to make mischief, as the Almighty Allah states:
“And those who speak evil things of the believing men and the believing women without their having earned (it), they are guilty indeed of a false accusation and a manifest sin (33:58).”
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “Whoever bothers a Muslim, has bothered me and bothering me is bothering Allah. Such a person has been cursed in the Tawrat, the Injil, and the Qur’an.” He also states: “One, who casts an angry glance on a Muslim and frightens him, will be frightened by Allah on the Day of Judgement.”
ASSOCIATION WITH THE GOOD PEOPLE
Although man associates with a large number of people, he is obliged to associate with some people more than others due to the exigency of his life. These are the people who are called “friends.”
Surely, the main cause for this friendship and relationship is a kind of similarity in ethics, manners, profession, and the like which exist between the two persons or among a group of individuals. Since companionship gradually transfers the habits and character of one of the two companions to the other, a man must choose the company of good people, for in this case, the decent ethics of his friends will be transferred to him and he will benefit from their taintless and benevolent friendship and cooperation. He will also be enthusiastic in the continuation of their friendship. Furthermore, he will improve his own social value and dignity among the people.
Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (AS) states: “Your best friend is the one who leads you to do good deeds.”
He also states: “Man is evaluated on the basis of the friends he chooses.”
First let me know with whom you have associated, so that I can describe your identity. It is the value of your acquaintances, that determines the value and worth of your life.
COMPANIONSHIP WITH THE BAD PEOPLE
Companionship with the bad people and the evil-doers is the source of all sorts of wretchedness and misfortune. To clarify this matter, it suffices to say that if we ask the criminals and the evil-doers such as thieves and bandits the cause of their aberration and deviation, they will undoubtedly reply that the companionship and association with bad people have put them in such a situation. From among a thousand wicked and defiled people, not even one can be found who has chosen an indecent course of action deliberately.
Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (AS), states: “Shun the companionship of bad people, for a bad friend makes you similar to himself. Unless he succeeds in this respect, he will not accept you as a friend.”
‘Ali (AS) also states: “Avoid the friendship of an evildoer, for he will sell you for a trivial thing.”
Associate less with bad people, for you will be distressed; since human nature is apt to acquire habits,
The relationship of human beings with one another, which is the basis of human society, is established through speaking. Thus true words that reveal a concealed reality to man are one of the essential bases of the society. Great advantages, which are always necessary for a society, are acquired by means of telling the truth.
The advantages of truthfulness can be summarized in a few sentences as follows:
(1) A truthful person is trusted by his fellow-men and relieves them of determining the truthfulness of his remarks.
(2) A veracious person is honoured by his conscience and is relieved of the pain of falsehood.
(3) A truthful person keeps his promise. He will not be disloyal to what he is entrusted with, for truthfulness in action is not different from truthfulness in words.
(4) Many differences of opinion and disputes will be eliminated as a result of truthfulness, for the main reason for most quarrels is the denial of truth and reality by either or both parties.
(5) As a result of truthfulness, a large part of moral imperfections and violations of laws and provisions is eliminated automatically, because most people lie in a bid to cover these kinds of deeds and actions.
Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (AS) states: “A true Muslim is one who prefers truthfulness, although it may be to his detriment, over falsehood from which he may benefit; and gets internal satisfaction as a result of this preference.”
THE DISADVANTAGES OF FALSEHOOD
From the aforementioned statements, the disadvantages of falsehood also become clear. A liar is the wicked enemy of human society. He endeavours to ruin the society by his falsehood which is a big crime. This is because falsehood resembles narcotics which kill the intelligence and commonsense of the society and hide the reality. Falsehood is also similar to alcoholic beverages which intoxicate the people and render them unable to distinguish between good and bad.
Therefore, Islam considers falsehood as one of the mortal sins and does not believe in any religious stature of a liar.
The Holy Prophet (SA) has stated: “Three groups of people are munafiqin even if they recite salat and observe sawm. They are the liars, those who do not keep their promise, and those who are disloyal to what they are entrusted with.” Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (AS) also states: “Man derives pleasure from his faith when he gives up falsehood; even he should give up his lying which may be for fun sake.”
Falsehood has not only been introduced as a sin and an indecent deed in Islam, but its indecency and unfairness is also clearly perceived by commonsense. The prevalence of this indecent deed in the society will soon shatter the confidence of the people towards one another which is the only basis in their social relationship. By the disruption of such a relationship, the people will, in effect, live in isolation because of having utmost anxiety from one another although they may apparently seem to be living in a knitted society.
Man always deals with external matters in his life. He keeps himself alive through his activities and by bringing about changes in matters and thus fulfils his desires. This creature who works by commonsense and will power has based his vast and extensive life on knowledge. His work is directly related to the knowledge available to him. He constantly adjusts his learnings and performs his external activities accordingly.
Therefore, receiving true information is essential for man and is of prime importance. If the correct outside news are not revealed to man, for instance, if he sees the ditch as a road and the road as a ditch, or if he sees the distant as the nearby and the nearby as the distant, or if he receives the news in an untrue way, he will not be able to continue his living. Thus it becomes clear that falsehood is a serious threat to social life and a liar is a person without any personality and dignity. He is the enemy of the society and his remarks are considered invalid and unreliable by the people. He himself is cursed by Allah.
BACKBITING AND LIBEL
Slandering others and backbiting them, if true, are called backbiting, and if wrong, are called libel and sometimes calumny.
Surely, the Almighty Allah has not created man (except the prophets and the Imams) free from sins. As a result of his shortcomings, man is fallible and all people live behind the curtain with which the Almighty Allah has covered their deeds by His Divine Wisdom. If this divine covering is lifted from over the defects and shortcomings of the people, they will be repugnant from one another and will avoid the company of each other, thus leading to the destruction of the foundation of their society. Therefore, the Almighty Allah has declared backbiting as haram, so that everyone may live in peace from backbiting by one another and the outwardly appearance of the environment of their lives would seem adorned until gradually the same outward beauty corrects the internal obscenity.
The Almighty Allah states:
“…Nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?….(49:12).”
The sin and obscenity of libel is definitely greater than backbiting and the wise are thoroughly aware of its obscenity. In His words, the Almighty Allah has made the badness and obscenity of libel quite clear and states:
“Only they forge the lie who do not believe…(16:105).”
DAMAGING THE PRESTIGE OF PEOPLE
Damaging one’s chastity is a mortal sin in Islam and, in different cases, severe punishments such as whipping, killing, and stoning to death have been laid down for it.
Allowing the commitment of this indecent deed, although it may have been agreed upon by both the parties, will shake the foundation of families which is of prime importance in Islam and will cease the proceeding of the precepts of inheritance and the like. Finally, it makes parent-child affection and relationship invalid and leads to the disappearance of the true guarantee of society which is the natural result of reproduction.
SELF-RESPECT AND HONESTY
The world of creation, that has created man sociable and in need of cooperation, has prepared him in such a way as to be able to manage his own affairs in the society with his own capability and to handle his living from what he gains in his life.
With consideration of what has already been discussed above, there remains no doubt that the attribute of self-respect means that man should take advantage of Allah-given powers in his life and should utilise them for attaining his goals. He must not rely upon the powers of others and this, indeed, is one of the natural and praiseworthy qualities of man. Self-respect is like a barrier which protects man from an inferior life and from many unjust acts and indecent deeds. Whoever is not endowed with self-respect and fixes his eyes on others, would easily sell his will power and personality to others and would offer whatever he is asked for, even if it may be his natural freedom, prestige, honour, and dignity.
Most crimes such as murder, banditry, theft, pickpocketing, the crime of lying, flattery, disloyalty to one’s country, reliance on foreigners, and the like are the evil consequences of greed and reliance upon others. But whoever wears the crown of honour of self-respect, does not submit himself to any splendour but the splendour of the Almighty Allah, does not yield to any authority and pomp, and always defends what he considers to be true. self-respect is the best means by which one can acquire the attribute of honesty and safeguard it.
BENEVOLENCE AND HELPING THE NEEDY
It is certain that in any society, the poor and the helpless deserve help. It is the duty of the rich to help the poor and not to trample upon this certain right. The holy religion of Islam has also set out strict rules concerning the observation of this right. It holds the rich responsible to help the weak and the poor.
In the Holy Qur’an, the Almighty Allah has introduced Himself as Benevolent, Beneficent, and Merciful. Allah has encouraged His servants to attain these praiseworthy attributes to the extent that He states: “Allah is with benefactors;” and He also states: “Whatever you spend in the way of Allah is to your own advantage.” Elsewhere, He states: “Whatever you spend in the way of Allah will be returned unto you and you will not sustain a loss.”
Study and investigation into the social conditions and also in the advantages of benevolence clarify the context of these verses, for, indeed, all forces of the society work for every individual. In a society where a group of helpless people fail to make efforts due to insolvency, the acquisition of income diminishes proportionately and its evil consequences embrace all people. In such a society, a time will come when the rich become the poorest of all. But if the rich help the poor with their benevolence and generosity, they will gain the following outstanding results:
(1) By this action, they gain the affection of others and captivate the hearts of a group of people.
(2) They gain a great deal of respect with an insignificant amount of money.
(3) They attain people’s support, because people take sides with the benefactors.
(4) They are safe from the danger of the accumulation of the vengeance and anger of the poor which harm the good and the bad together.
(5) The trivial money that they spend in the way of Allah will increase in amount and return unto them as a result of proper running of the economy.
There are innumerable Qur’anic verses and ahadith regarding the attribute of spending in the way of Allah and also in regard to the encouragement and persuasion for this noble deed.
Benevolence and beneficence, mentioned earlier, are one of the various branches of cooperation which forms the basis of human society, for the society exists when all individuals help one another by means of which all may enjoy good and sound living conditions and will meet their requirements of life. It should not be imagined that the holy religion of Islam has demanded benevolence only in financial matters, rather it is one of the aims of Islam and also one of the demands of man’s conscience to offer all kinds of help to every helpless, although he may not be in need of money.
To teach an illiterate, to help a blind, to guide a misled, to assist an oppressed person, and… are all the true acts of benevolence and beneficence and a part of the cooperation whose credibility we have approved and confirmed on the very first day of the establishment of the society. It is self-evident that if man fails to perform a part of minor tasks, he will not perform principal tasks and if he disregards the insignificant minor duties, he will refuse to undertake general and important obligations.
ARRANGING CHARITIES AND RELIEFS
Benevolence is praiseworthy when it renders good results. Of course, the more general and lasting the results, the more praiseworthy and better would be the benevolence. The treatment of a patient is an act of benevolence and beneficence, but construction and management of a hospital which treats hundreds of patients daily cannot be compared with this act. Teaching a student is praiseworthy, but it can never reach the value of setting up an institution which turns out hundreds of graduating scholars annually. This is why general donations, public charities and reliefs are the acts of highest benevolence and beneficence.
In Islamic terminology, this public charity is interpreted as “standing charity”. The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “Two things provide man with honour: a righteous child and standing charity.” According to the Holy Book and the ahadith, as long as the standing charity exists the Almighty Allah considers its benefactions for the one who has established this charity.
There is no doubt that, in the human conscience, the genuine life and honest living are of equal importance. A life without honour and devoid of man’s prosperity is not a life indeed, rather it is a death much bitter and more unpleasant than natural death. A man who maintains value for his honour and prosperity should escape from such a mean life resembling death.
In whatever environment a man lives and to whatever policies he may be inclined, he will understand with his Allah-given nature that death for the cause of sanctification is prosperity itself although this matter is clearer in the logic of religion than in any other logic and is far away from supposition and superstition. This is because whoever defends his religious society and gives his life for this cause, is aware that he has not deprived himself of any privileges and that he will get a sweeter, more valuable, and everlasting life in return for giving his sweet and short-span life for the cause of Allah. Truly, his prosperity is immortal.
The Almighty Allah states in His words:
“And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead,. nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord (3:169).”
But in non-religious societies which consider human life confined to the short-span life of this world only, it can never be said that man will be again alive in the Hereafter or will attain happiness and prosperity, except that it is inculcated upon the people, through suppositions and superstitions, that if a man is, for example, killed for the cause of his country or for national sanctities, his name will be entered in the list of the devoted and self-sacrificing persons of the nation and will be inscribed in gold in the history book and thus he will remain alive forever.
The praise and sanctification for martyrdom and getting killed in the way of Allah have not been made in Islam so much for any other good deed.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “There is always a good deed surpassing other good deeds. But no good deed can surpass martyrdom.” Muslims of the early period of Islam asked forgiveness from the Holy Prophet (SA) and, as a result of the prayers of the Holy Prophet (SA), they attained the elevated rank of martyrdom. They never used to cry for those who were martyred, knowing that the martyrs were alive and not dead.
GENEROSITY AND DONATION OF MONEY
The role that wealth plays in regulation of life needs no explanation. Many people consider life the same as wealth and do not believe in any virtue and honour for man except property and wealth. They direct all their activities towards accumulating and saving money. As a result of this fascination and greed, they get entangled in stinginess. Such people deprive others and sometimes degrade themselves further and submit to meanness and miserliness, thus depriving themselves of enjoying their own wealth as well. Neither they enjoy themselves nor they give money to others. They only enjoy accumulating money.
Those who are entangled with the indecent attribute of miserliness (certainly, those who are involved in stinginess are even meaner than them) lose their human nature and become destitute in their lives because:
(1) They only look for their own happiness, prosperity, and comfort and believe in individual life, although human nature advocates social life for us and the individual life, led in any manner, is doomed to destruction.
(2) By showing off their authority to others, they attract towards themselves the poor and the needy due to their humility. Although they d o not relieve the sufferings of the afflicted, they try to make the needy pay respect to them. They take the poor as slaves and foster the spirit of idol-worshipping. Consequently, human courage, bravery, magnanimity, and pride will be eradicated from the society.
(3) Trampling upon the pure feelings of affection, friendship, philanthropy, compassion, and benevolence, they promote all kinds of felony, crime, meanness, and wickedness in the society. This is because the most powerful natural factor of crime and offence such as backbiting, incontinence, theft, banditry, murder, and poverty cannot be found among the needy. These factors are the anger, rancour, and feeling of revenge which are implanted in the hearts of the afflicted and distressed by the wealthy people and which are aggravated by the stingy rich people. That is why a stingy person in a society is, in fact, the first enemy of that society and is always affected by the anger and severe punishment of Allah and the hatred of the inhabitants of the world.
There are many verses in the Holy Qur’an reproaching and blaming the mean quality of stinginess and greed on the one hand, and on praising the attribute of generosity, spending in the way of Allah, and helping the poor and needy on the other.
In His words, the Almighty Allah promises that He will return the property that is donated ten times and, in some instances, seventy and up to seven hundred times and more to the donor.
It has also been proved through experience that the wealth of those who are generous, who help the poor generously, and who cater for the shortcomings of the human society is increased day by day.
Those who resolve the difficulties of others will not face difficulties themselves. No one has ever seen any knot in the comb.
If they occasionally face difficulties, all people will sympathize with them. Whatever help they have extended to others will collectively return unto them.
Furthermore, like honourable men, they have set their conscience at peace by doing good deeds and have responded to the Divine call concerning the wajib and mustahabb obligations. They have used the pure feelings of humanity through kindness, compassion, philanthropy, and benevolence and have acquired popularity and an immaculate respect from the people. Finally, they have gained the satisfaction of the Almighty Allah and the everlasting prosperity at the lowest cost.
THE GENERALITIES OF JIHAD
Every creature defends his life as well as his interests. Like others, every creature is equipped with a defensive power that enables him to combat with his enemies. With his Allah-given instinct and nature, man believes that he must defend himself and destroy the enemy who wants to destroy him and who never gives up his animosity. He also believes that he should defend his rights if someone transgresses upon his vital interests and that he should cut off the hands of the transgressor by any means possible.
This natural phenemenon, which is invariably present in the nature of an individual, is firm and stable in human societies as well, i.e., an enemy who threatens the members of a society or its social independence is condemned to death by that society. This way of thinking has always been predominant in human societies that individuals and societies can make any decisions and can act harshly against their dangerous enemies.
Islam is also a social religion established on the basis of Tawhid. Islam considers those who refuse to abide by truth and justice as its vital enemies and as the ones who disturb the order of humanity. Islam does not believe in any human value and respect for them. Since Islam is itself a universal religion and because it has not set any specific place as its homeland and frontiers for its followers, it fights with anyone who believes in shirk and who does not accept the truth and divine laws by clear logic and wise counsel in order to make him follow truth and justice.
The essence of the laws of Islam on jihad is only this and no more. It is exactly in accordance with the policies which are usually adopted by every human society against its vital enemies.
Contrary to the propaganda by the malicious enemies, Islam is not the “religion of sword”, for Islam is not an imperial-plan which knows no logic but sword and political manoeuvres, rather it is a religion whose founder is Allah Who, in His Divine Words, addresses the people through logic and reasoning and invites His creatures to a religion which corresponds to their creation.
A religion whose general initial greeting is salam (peace) and whose universal policy, according to the explicit wording of the Holy Qur’an, is: (””) “…Reconciliation is better …(4:128)” will never be a religion of sword and oppression.
During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (SA), when the divine light of Islam had illuminated the entire Arabian Peninsula and when Muslims were involved in important battles and severe wars, the casualties of the Muslims did not reach more than two hundred persons and the casualties of the unbelievers did not touch the figure of one thousand in number. (Among these one thousand people, seven hundred belonged to Banu-Qurayzah, who were killed by the order of the arbitration they had themselves chosen.). Thus it is quite unfair to call such a religion, the “religion of sword”.
THE INSTANCES OF WAR IN ISLAM
There are a few groups with whom Islam combats:
(1) Mushrikin: These are the ones who do not believe in Tawhid, Nubuwwah, and Ma’ad. This group should primarily be invited to embrace Islam. The facts of religion must be explained to them clearly in such a way that no ambiguity and excuse would remain. Then if they accept these truths, they will be considered as the brothers of other Muslims and equal to them in profits and losses. But if they refuse to accept the truth and reality after these are clearly explained to them, Islam will perform the religious duty of jihad against them.
(2) Ahl al-Kitab: These are the followers of the Divine Books (the Jews, the Christians, and the Magians) who have a religion and a divine book from the viewpoint of Islam and who believe in Tawhid, Nubuwwah, and Ma’ad. Islam gives its permission to these groups to live under its protection by paying jizyah (head tax charged from Ahl al-Kitab in lieu of their non-acceptance of Islam), that is,- by accepting the guardianship of Islam, they must safeguard their own independence and perform their deeds according to their own religious regulations. Their life, honour, and property will be respected like that of all other Muslims. In lieu of this, they must pay an insignificant sum as jizyah to the Muslim society. They must not, however, make evil propaganda, help the enemies of Islam, or perform anything else that is to the detriment of the Muslims.
(3) Those who do injustice and engage in corruption: This group of people includes those Muslims who engage in armed rebellion against Islam and the Muslims and embark on the massacre of other Muslims. The Islamic society combats with such people, so that they may surrender and give up corruption and revolt.
(4) The enemies of Islam who attack in order to destroy the very foundation of Islam or to overthrow the Islamic Government: In this case, it is wajib for all Muslims to defend Islam and to deal with them like kafir harbi (unbeliever to be fought against).
If it is deemed advisable in the interests of the Muslims and Islam, the Islamic society can temporarily enter into a non-aggression treaty with the enemies of Islam, but it does not have the right to establish friendly relations with them in a manner that their words and actions cause evil effects and corrupt the thoughts and deeds of Muslims.
ESCAPING FROM JIHAD AND DEFENCE
Running away from the battlefield and escaping from the enemy means that the person who runs away considers his life as more valuable and dearer than the existence of the society. It is indeed the surrender of religious sanctities and the life, honour, and property of the society to an enemy who threatens their lives in all respects.
Therefore, escaping from jihad and defence is a mortal sin. The Almighty Allah has explicitly promised to put the person who escapes from jihad in hell as He states:
“And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day unless he shall turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company – then he, indeed, becomes deserving of Allah’s wrath, and his abode is hell…(8:16).”
DEFENDING THE ISLAMIC DOMAIN
According to what has been discussed, defending the Islamic society and the territory of Muslims is one of the most important Islamic obligations. The Almighty Allah states:
“And do not speak of those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, (they are) alive, but you do not perceive (2:154)”.
The story of men who most heartily participated in bloody battles during early period of the advent of Islam and of martyrs who got weltered in their pure blood is extremely astonishing as well as exemplary. These were the ones who established and made firm foundation of this holy religion with their pure blood and severely injured bodies.
FIGHTING WITH THE INTERNAL ENEMIES
OF THE SOCIETY
As according to natural logic, we ought to fight the foreign enemies and defend the society from damages, we should combat and fight the internal enemies of the society as well. The internal enemy of the society is one who breaches the general policies and the rules that are in force and thus disrupts and deranges the general order of the society. That is why security forces and various punishments to retribute the offenders are established in organized societies to safeguard the order and continuation of affairs.
In addition to setting up the executive power and various punishments, Islam has made incumbent upon all individuals to carry out the precept of al-amr bil-ma’ruf (enjoining the lawful acts) and al-nahy ‘an al-munkar (forbidding the sinful acts), thus making the campaign more general and more effective. The main difference between Islam and other social policies is that other policies have only focused on the reformation of the actions and deeds of the people, but Islam has paid attention to both actions and ethics of the people and has fought against corruption in both the instances.
Sins which have been forbidden by Islam are the actions that have sinister effects and evil consequences in the society. Nevertheless, some of these sins directly corrupt the individual or individuals who commit them and somehow influence the society as local wounds and organic complications that appear in the human body. Most sins, such as not reciting salat and not observing sawm, disturb the status of worshipping Allah and deny the divine rights and so fall within this category.
Some of the sins directly threaten the social life and annihilate the whole structure of the society like diseases which directly affect human life and disrupt the affairs of man’s life. Lying and slandering fall under this category. According to Islam, the rights of parents, backbiting, and attacking the honour of the people also fall under the same category.
DEFENDING THE TRUTH
Another defence which is much more profound and enormous than defending territory is the defence of right which is the only objective of the holy religion of Islam. The most important aim of this divine policy is the revival of right and reality and hence this pure religion has been named as the religion of truth, i.e., a religion that belongs to the truth, involves nothing but the truth, and aims at nothing but the truth.
While describing about His Book, which contains all the truths, the Almighty Allah states:
“…Guiding to the truth and to a right path (46:30).”
That is why it is incumbent upon every Muslim to follow the truth, tell the truth, listen to the truth, and defend the truth with his utmost capacity . and in any way possible.
Another instance of injustice which is very indecent and reproachable in the holy religion of Islam is homicide and killing an innocent person.
Homicide is one of the mortal sins. In His words, the Almighty Allah equals the killing of a human being with massacre of all the human beings. This is because the killer of one person deals with humanity and humanity is the same in one person or in one thousand persons.
INFRINGING UPON THE PROPERTY OF ORPHANS
Just as benevolence towards people is logically and religiously praiseworthy, malevolence towards Allah’s servants is unfair and blameworthy. Injustice and oppression are strongly prohibited by the holy religion of Islam in several instances, one of which is the infringement upon the property of orphans.
Misappropriating the property or money of an orphan is one of the mortal sins in Islam. It is specified in the Holy Qur’an that whoever misappropriates an orphan’s property eats fire indeed and will soon be thrown in the blazing fire of hell. According to the statements of the infallible Imams (AS), the main reason for so much emphasis is that if an aged man (who is not an orphan) is oppressed, he may defend his rights, but an orphan is unable to do so.
DISAPPOINTMENT FOR THE BLESSINGS
In Islam, one of the most dangerous sins is being disappointed for Allah’s blessings.
The Almighty Allah states:
“Say: O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether. surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful (39:53).”
At another place, the person who despairs of the blessings of Allah is considered to be an unbeliever. The reason behind this is that if a person despairs of the blessings and forgiveness of Allah, he will no longer have any internal stimulant to perform good and praiseworthy deeds in his life and to refrain from committing dhanb kabir (mortal sin) and dhanb saghir (venial sin) and indecent actions, because the main motivation for the two items mentioned above is “hope for Allah’s blessings” and “deliverance from the punishment of Allah”. This expectation does not exist in such a person. There is no difference between this person and the one who does not believe in any religion as far as mental and internal qualities are concerned.
ANGER AND WRATH
Anger is a condition that prompts man to take revenge and he gets internal satisfaction in taking revenge. If a man acts with laxity in controlling himself, his commonsense will be immediately subdued by anger and wrath and every indecent and unfair action will seem right to him to the point that he becomes more rapacious than any beast.
Strict orders have been issued by Islam for preventing the outburst of anger and severe reproachment has been set against following it. The Almighty Allah has shown great favours towards those who control their anger and remain patient when they are angry.
As the Almighty Allah states:
“…And those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men…(3:134).”
In regard to the characteristics of believers, the Almighty Allah states:
“… And whenever they are angry they forgive (42:37).”
Receiving money or a gift in return for a judgement or for the accomplishment of a task which is the duty of the receiver is called bribery.
Bribery is a mortal sin in Islam. The person who commits this sin is deprived of many social privileges of religion (justice) and deserves Allah’s punishment. This matter has been specified in the Holy Book and the ahadith.
The Holy Prophet (SA) has cursed tile givers, receivers, and the mediators of bribe.
The sixth infallible Imam (AS) also states: “Receiving bribe for administering justice equals blasphemy to Allah”.
Surely, all these reproachments apply to the bribe taken for the judgement of truth or for administering justice. The sin of the bribe taken for the judgement contrary to truth and for unjust deeds is far greater and its retribution is much severer.
Theft is an unfair and indecent action that threatens the financial security of the society. It is self-evident that the fundamental source of human life is the property. and wealth which man acquires at the expense of his life. Man protects h is wealth so that it can be safe. guarded against any infringement by others so that it can consequently remain as the protection and backing of the society. Surely, breaking through this protection and disrupting this order mean ruining man’s life which has been spent to acquire such wealth. It results in disabling men to perform most of their activities and renders them inefficient.
That is why, in regard to the punishment of this repugnant action which is considered to be perfidious by the thief’s self-conscience as well, Islam has ordered to cut the thief’s hand (four fingers from the right hand). The Almighty Allah states:
“And (as for) the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned ..(5:38).”
In Islam, selling underweight is a mortal sin. In His words, the Almighty Allah reproaches and threatens those who commit it and states:
“Woe to the defrauders….Do not these think that they shall be raised again, for a mighty day (83:1, 4,5).”
Besides doing injustice to the people and stealing their money by way of theft, a person who sells underweight causes people to lose their confidence in him and gradually loses his customers and at last his own money.
THE GENERAL PENALTY OF SINS IN ISLAM
These indecent deeds are called mortal sins in Islam and the Almighty Allah has clearly promised to punish those who commit these sins.
In addition to establishing severe punishments for some of these sins, Allah has excluded those who commit these sins (even once) from the just, i.e., He has taken away from them the honour of being a righteous member of the human society.
Whoever commits a mortal sin loses his justice and gets deprived of the privileges that a righteous member of the society can enjoy. He cannot be in charge of one of the various positions of the Islamic government; for example, he cannot become khalifah or imam al-jama’ah (the imam of congregational salat). His testimony to the benefit or detriment of others is not acceptable. He will remain in this state until he repents and develops the quality of justice in himself once again by constantly having taqwa (piety).
THE ESSENTIALITY OF EMPLOYMENT AND
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
Endeavour and work are the base and foundation upon which the world of creation is established and these are the only guarantee for the survival of every creature. The Almighty Allah has equipped His creatures with suitable means with which they derive benefits and avoid losses.
Man, who is the most astonishing and sophisticated design of creation, has more requirements than any other creature. Thus he needs more endeavours with which he could meet his countless requirements and also maintain the family that he should naturally administer.
That is why Islam, which is a natural and social religion, considers working and earning as wajib for the people.
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “It is wajib upon every Muslim man and woman to earn halal money for his or her livelihood and subsistence (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 23, p 6).”
Islam has not attached any importance to those who spend their lives idly. Whenever the Holy Prophet (SA) saw a man whose strength and capability were surprising, he would ask: “Does he work?” If they said: “No, he is idle.”, the Holy Prophet (SA) would state: “To me, he has no respect.”, meaning that an idle youth had no value to the Prophet (SA) [Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p 501.].
In Islam, every individual should choose one of the many professions and industries towards which the Almighty Allah has guided him to choose according to his own aptitude and interest. He should earn his living in this way, carry one of the burdens of society on his back, and try to provide the people with comfort.
The Almighty Allah states:
“And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for (53:39).”
In short, Islam has made the strongest recommendations about working and acquiring sustenance and has not disregarded the importance of economic activities even in the most critical moments so much so that Al-‘Imam al-Sadiq (A) said to his friend Hisham: “Even during the war, when soldiers array in line and when the fire of battle is fanned, do not neglect your economic duty and necessary activities for providing your subsistence and follow your financial efforts in such difficult situations (Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 4, p 101.).
Thus idleness due to laziness is strictly forbidden in Islam.
DENOUNCEMENT OF IDLENESS
It is clear from what has been discussed earlier that working and making effort is a right path that creation has provided for man to attain his prosperity by following it. Surely, deviation from the path of creation and nature, no matter how minor it is, will only lead to the detriment of man. In this case, deviation from a matter upon which the very foundation of life is established will lead to nothing but misery in this world and in the Akhirah.
This is why the seventh infallible Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS) states: “Do not show sluggishness and tiredness in your work or else you will lose in this world and in the Akhirah.”
The Holy Prophet (SA) has cursed those who have got used to idleness and who put the burden of their life on the shoulders of others.
Today, psychological and social experiments have thoroughly clarified that most social corruptions are generated by idleness. It is idleness that disrupts the economic and cultural activities of the society and gives rise to all kinds of moral decadence and superstitions.
AGRICULTURE AND ITS ADVANTAGES
Farming, which is the means for providing food for the society, is one of the most praiseworthy human professions due to its importance. Therefore, Islam has laid down great emphasis for choosing this profession.
The sixth infallible Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (AS) states: “Farmers would enjoy more respectable positions than others on the Day of Qiyamah.”
The fifth infallible Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS) states: “There is no job better than farming and there is no benefit better than the benefit of farming, because benevolents and malevolents grazing animals and birds benefit from it and pray for the farmer.”
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “A Muslim who plants a tree or cultivates a land from which people, birds, and grazing animals eat will have the reward of sadaqah (charity).”
Muslims are obliged to use their natural energy to the maximum, i.e., to the point where one of the religious leaders states: “If at the time when the world is to come to an end and the solar system is to collapse any one of you has a small plant in hand, he should plant it if he has enough time to do so (Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, p 501). This means that the idea of the collapse of the world should not prevent you from performing this noble deed.
‘Ali (AS) states: “Curse and imprecation of Allah be upon one who has land and water, i.e., one who has natural resources at his disposal but does not use his human skill to take advantage of them and consequently lives in poverty and beggary (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 23, p 19).”
It has been repeatedly mentioned under the section on “Beliefs” that the general planning of Islam is that man should worship none except Allah and should not pay homage and bow down to anyone but He Who is the Creator of the world.
All are the creatures of Allah and receive their subsistence from Him. No one has privileges over others except in respect of those things which are done for the sake of Allah.
Every Muslim should have self-confidence and should take advantage of the blessing of independence given to him by the Almighty Allah. Man must use all the means that Allah has bestowed on him to pass his life. He should not rely upon others and consider a partner for Allah and worship a new idol each day. The servant should realize that he eats his own bread and not of the master. He should know that he receives the reward of his labour, not the tip from his master or lord. Every employee should believe that he receives the wages of his hard work, not the gift and gratuity from his boss, his office, the government, or the society. After all, a free man should not rely on and pay homage to any but Allah; otherwise, internally, he will have the same meanness and servitude of polytheism that the idol-worshippers have openly.
Finally, it should be noted that self-confidence means that man should use his intrinsic capability in his life and should not rely on others. It doesn’t mean that he should dissociate from the Almighty Allah and consider himself to be really effective as the source of all hopes and desires.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF RELYING ON OTHERS
Relying on others, that is, living on the support of others, means giving up human pride, honour, independence, and freedom. It is the source of all kinds of offences and social misdeeds which originate from meanness and degradation.
Whoever relies on others and fixes his . eyes upon this or that person, indeed offers his will and commonsense for sale, for he should commit flattery and should do whatever (right or wrong, decent or indecent) they demand of him or order him to do.
He should resign himself to any disdain and scorn. He must practise xenophilism, agree to do any injustice and oppression, and at last consider all the limits and human laws as naught.
Asking for help in unnecessary cases is haram in Islam. Financial contribution to the needy, which is a part of Islamic provisions, only applies to those needy people whose earning is less than their expenses or to those who are disabled.
As mentioned in the beginning of this book, the precepts and teachings of Islam are divided into three parts: beliefs, ethics, and commandments. After knowing Allah, we must perform actions such as reciting salat and observing sawm which are the signs of the worship and obedience to Allah. Now, we would explain the precepts of salat which would be followed by the precepts of sawm.
The Almighty Allah states:
“What has brought you into Hell? They shall say: ‘We were not of those who recited salat’ (74:42-43).”
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “Prayer is the pillar of faith. If it is accepted by Allah, the other worships will also be accepted and if it is not accepted, the other worships will not be accepted either.” Just like a man who removes dirt and uncleanliness from his body by washing himself five times a day in a river, he will also purify himself from sins by reciting salat five times a day.
Surely, it should be known that the one who recites salat but attaches no significance to it, is like the one who does not recite salat.
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:
“So woe to the ones who recite salat but unmindful of their salawat (107:4-5).”
One day, the Holy Prophet (SA) entered the mosque and saw that a man was reciting salat but without performing proper ruku’ (a part of the salat in which one bows down, genuflexion) and sujud (the acts of prostration in the salat or worship to Allah). The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “If this man dies in this condition, he will not die as a Muslim.”
Thus a man should recite salat with humility and respect. He should realize to whom he is talking while reciting salat. He should perform ruku’, sujud, and all other actions correctly in order to be benefited by best results of reciting salat.
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:
“…Surely the salat keeps (one) away from indecency and evil…(29:45).”
Surely, this is true, for the rules of reciting salat are such that, if observed, the person who recites salat will never be tempted to evil acts.
For example, one of the rules of reciting salat is that the place where one recites salat and the clothes with which one recites salat should not be usurped or unlawful. His salat is not accepted even if a single thread of his clothes is usurped. One who shuns haram things to such an extent, will never use haram wealth and property at all and will never deny the rights of others. Also the salat will be accepted provided that man keeps himself away from avarice, jealousy, and other indecent and bad qualities. It is certain that the source of all indecencies is these bad qualities. If one who recites salat keeps himself away from these qualities, he will definitely be free from all indecencies and evil acts. If some people perform indecent deeds even though they recite salat, it is because they do not exactly follow the necessary rules of reciting salat. As a result, salawat are not accepted and they do not enjoy the excellent advantages of reciting salat.
The holy religion of Islam has attached such an importance to salat that it has made it wajib for every Muslim under all the circumstances, even at the point of death. If one cannot recite Surat al-Hamd and the other surah, and other dhikr (words for remembering Allah) of salat, he should pass these through his heart. If he is unable to recite salat in a standing posture, he should recite salat in a sitting position. If he is unable to recite salat even in sitting position, he should do so in lying down. In any case, under no circumstances a man is exempted from reciting salat. If one who w ants to recite salat cannot face the Qiblah (facing towards Ka’bah while reciting salat) in the state of war, for the fear of the enemy, or in emergency cases, he can recite salat without facing the Qiblah and he should recite salat in whatever condition or direction he is.
There are six wajib salawat:
(i) Al-salat al-yawmiyyah (the daily prayers);
(ii) Salat al-ayat (the prayer of the signs of Allah’s creation);
(iii) Salat al-mayyit (the prayer for the dead person);
(iv) Salat of wajib tawaf (the ritual prayer of circumambulation around the Ka’bah);
(v) Qada’ (settling the salawat which had not been performed in time) Salawat of the father which become wajib on the eldest son upon the death of the father; and
(vi) Salawat which become wajib upon a person due to: ijarah (receipt of money by him for their recitation), nadhr (vow), qasam (oath), and ‘ahd (promise).
PREREQUISITES OF SALAT
Reciting salat, i.e. standing before Allah, expressing servitude to Him, and worshipping Him, requires certain prerequisites. Salat is not valid unless these prerequisites are met. These essential requirements are: (i) taharah (specified Islamic way of purification), (ii) time, (iii) dress, (iv) place, and (v) Qiblah.
One who recites salat should be tahir; that is, he should recite salat as per the requirements, viz: by having wudu’ (statutory ablution according to Islamic Shari’ah) before salat, or by wajib ghusl (taking bath according to the Islamic Shari’ah) or by tayammum (statutory Islamic ablution with soil, sand, etc) and also his body and dress should not be polluted with najasah.
There are several substances which are najis (inherently impure). They. are as follows:
First and Second: The urine and faeces (The outlet of urination must be made tahir only by water, but the outlet of faeces can be washed with water or cleaned with three pieces of stone and the like provided the faeces have not exceeded the outlet of defecation; otherwise, it will not be cleaned by anything other than water. It should be reminded that if faeces are not cleaned by three pieces of stone, more pieces of stone can be used to clean the outlet thoroughly) of animals whose meat is haram for eating and whose blood gushes out, meaning the animals whose blood will gush out if their blood vessels are cut, such as cats, foxes, rabbits, etc. If the flesh of chicken or birds or animals has become haram for eating due to their eating faeces, then the urine and faeces of such birds or animals are also najis.
Third: The carcass of an animal whose blood gushes out (if its blood vessels are cut) whether its flesh is halal or haram for eating. But some parts of the carcass, such as its wool, hair, and nails which are soulless, are tahir.
Fourth: The blood of an animal whose blood gushes out (if its blood vessels are cut) whether its meat is halal or haram for eating.
Fifth and Sixth: All parts of the body of wild dogs and pigs, even their hair, are najis.
Seventh: Wine and anything which intoxicates a man and is basically in liquid form.
Anything which purifies (and makes tahir) najis substances is called a mutahhir (purifier which purifies a najis). Mutahhirat are as follows:
(i) Water is a mutahhir which makes tahir all najis substances provided that the water is mutlaq (pure). Thus mudaf (mixed) water, such as the juice of watermelon and rose-water are not mutahhirat and do not make tahir the najasah. Wudu’ and ghusl with mudaf water are not valid either (There are two kinds of water: kurr and qail (small quantity, i.e., less than kurr). Kurr water is a certain quantity of water which can make tahir any najis object as long as its colour, taste, and smell have not been altered. It is 128 manns of Tabriz (Mann is a unit of weight of approximately 3 kg.) minus 20 mithqal (unit of weight of about 4.6 g) and is equal to 384 kg. Kurr water will not become najis if a najis object reaches it. Qalil water, i.e., less than kurr is the water which becomes najis if a najis object reaches it. Its taharah is dependent upon its connection to the flowing water or rain or the addition of kurr water to it.).
(ii) Ground: It makes tahir the sole of the shoes and the sole of the feet.
(iii) Sun: The najis ground and strawmats will become tahir by the direct rays of the sun.
(iv) Istihalah (The transformation or a chemical change of the state of an object): In this chemical process, the very commodity of the najis object transforms and becomes tahir, for example, a dog that falls in a salt lake and transforms into salt.
(v) Blood transfusion: It means the transfusion of a man’s blood or the blood of an animal whose blood gushes out, into the body of an animal whose blood does not gush out, such as the transfusion of man’s blood into the body of a mosquito, fly, etc.
(vi) The removal of the very najasah from the outer parts of an animal and the inner parts of a man, for example, if the back of an animal or the nostril of a man becomes najis with blood, it will be tahir after blood is removed, and there is no need for flowing water over it.
(vii) Following: It means that a najis becomes tahir as a result of becoming the najis the tahir, for example, if a kafir becomes Muslim, his child will also become tahir as a result of following him.
(viii) Diminishment, i.e., loss of two-thirds of volume of grape-juice: If the grape-juice is boiled, it becomes najis. However, if it loses two-thirds of its volume as a result of boiling, the remainder becomes tahir.
WUDU’ AND ITS PRECEPTS
It is mustahabb for a man to brush his teeth and rinse his mouth with .clean water before performing wudu’ . . It is also mustahabb for a man to inhale tahir water up his nostrils.
THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR WUDU’
In performing wudu’, the face must be rinsed first by taking water in the hand and wiping it over the face beginning from the place of growing hair of head (forehead) downward to the chin. Next, the right elbow should be rinsed by taking water in the left hand and wiping it from the elbow downward to the fingertips. This procedure should also be exactly performed for the left elbow using the right hand. Then for mash (anointing), the front portion of the head must be anointed. Then the right foot followed by the left foot must be anointed from the toe-tips to the upper part of both feet with the fingers. The following should be observed while performing wudu’.
(1) The parts of body related to wudu’ must be tahir while performing wudu,
(2) The water for wudu’ must be tahir, mutlaq and mubah (permissible).
(3) Niyyah (intention), i.e., wudu’ must be performed for the pleasure of Allah; and hence if someone performs wudu’ with an intention of cooling and comforting himself or for any other purpose, his wudu’ will not be right.
(4) Tartib (the order as prescribed by Islamic Shari’ah), that is, wudu’ must be performed in the prescribed order. The face must be washed first, next the right hand which should he followed by washing of the left hand. The head and the feet should be anointed afterwards.
(5) Muwalat (performing the parts of an Islamic act in succession without undue delay): It means that wudu’ must be performed in succession without undue delay. One should not allow a time gap while washing or anointing the subsequent part to the extent that the previous part gets dried up. However, if wudu’ is performed consecutively but the moisture gets dried up due to hot weather, the high temperature of the body, and the like, the wudu’ will be valid.
Note: While performing mash, it is not necessary to anoint the scalp, rather it is also correct to anoint the hair of the front portion of the head. But if the hair of other parts of the head gather in the front portion of the head, then these should be pushed back. If the hair in the front portion of the head are very long, i.e., if combed, these reach up to the face, then the root of the hair must be anointed or the hair should be parted and the scalp must be anointed.
MUBTILAT OF THE WUDU’
The things or acts which make the wudu’ invalid are called the mubtilat (things or acts through which, the salat, the sawm, the wudu’, etc become invalid). There are eight items which render the wudu’ invalid: (i) urination; (ii) defecation; (iii) wind or flatus (wind in the stomach or intestines) this is when flatus comes out from the usual outlet or from an outlet that is changed due to illness and surgery; (iv) unconsciousness; (v) drunkenness; (vi) falling asleep when the eyes cannot see and the ears cannot hear; however, if the eyes are unable to see, but the ears can hear, the wudu’ will not be batil (invalid); (vii) insanity; and (viii) janabah (major ritual impurity or al-hadath al-akbar caused by the sexual intercourse, or the like) resulting from sexual intercourse or by seminal ejaculation and other things for which one should perform ghusl. Also, istihadah (menstrual bleeding), whenever noticed by women, makes the wudu’ batil.
The ghusl can be performed in two ways: ghusl tartibi (performing ghusl by washing the body part by part as specified in Islamic Shari’ah) and ghusl irtimasi ( performing ghusl by the immersion of the whole body in water).
The ghusl tartibi should be performed in the prescribed order, i.e., the head and the neck should be washed with water first, then the right side of the body, and finally the left side of the body.
For the ghusl irtimasi, one should completely immerse h is body into the water at once.
There are two types of ghusl: wajib and mustahabb. The mustahabb ghusul are numerous in Islamic Shari’ah but the wajib ghusul are seven: (i) ghusl al-janabah; (ii) ghusl almayyit (bathing the dead body); (iii) ghusl mass al-mayyit (performing ghusl due to touching of the dead body), i.e., if one touches a dead body after it has become cold and before its ghusl al-mayyit, he must perform ghusl mass al-mayyit. (iv) performing ghusl for the fulfilment of a nadhr, ‘ahd, or qasam; (v) ghusl al-hayd; (performing ghusl after menstruation); (vi) ghusl al-nifas (performing ghusl after puerperal period); and (vii) ghusl al-istihadah. The first four ghusul are wajib both for men and women and the last three are wajib for only women.
While one is in the state of janabah, the following acts are haram for him: (i) touching the writing of the Holy Qur’an, the name of Allah, and the names of the Prophet (SA) and the infallible Imams (AS); (ii) entering al-Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid al-Nabi in Madinah; (iii) staying in other mosques and leaving something in them; and (iv) reciting any one of the four suwar of the Holy Qur’an which require wajib sajdah, viz, the suwar of al-Najm, Iqra’ Alif-Lam-Mim Tanzil, and Ha-Mim Tanzil. For the other precepts on janabah, hayd, nifas and istihadah one should refer to al-Risalah al-‘Amaliyyah.
Note: Like in the case of wudu’, niyyah is also required while performing ghusl. The body should be tahir before performing ghusl and there should be no obstacle for the water to reach the whole body.
If a person is unable to perform wudu’ or ghusl for reciting salat and the like due to the lack of time, illness, or non-availability of water and the like, he should perform tayammum (statutory Islamic ablution with soil, sand, etc).
PROCEDURES FOR TAYAMMUM
There are four obligatory factors in doing tayammum:
(ii) Simultaneous striking both palms on soil or on something upon which tayammum is valid;
(iii) Drawing both palms on the whole forehead starting from the hairline to the eyebrows and the top of the nose. It is better to draw the hands over the eyebrows as well.
(iv) Then drawing the left palm on the entire back of the right hand (from wrist to fingertips). Next, drawing the right palm on the entire back of the left hand: This much is sufficient when tayammum is performed instead of wudu’ However, if the tayammum is being performed instead of ghusl, one should strike both palms on the soil, etc once again and draw the palms on the back of the hands, as mentioned above.
THE PRECEPTS PERTAINING TO TAYAMMUM
(i) The tayammum should be performed on tahir soil. If soil is not available, the tayammum may be performed on sand or pebbles. In the absence of pebbles, it can be performed on stones. In the case of the non-availability of all of these, the tayammum can be performed on dust accumulated at a place.
(ii) The tayammum is not valid on lime and other minerals.
(iii) If water is sold at a high price and in case one can afford to buy it, he is not permitted to perform tayammum, rather he must purchase the water and perform wudu’ and ghusl.
The next prerequisite for reciting salat is the time. The salawat must be recited in a sequence. Salat al- Zuhr (noon prayer) and Salat al-‘Asr (afternoon prayer) each has a specific and common time. The specific time for Salat al-Zuhr is from beginning of zuhr (If a piece of wood or a similar object is erected on a flat ground, its shadow is cast towards the west when the sun begins to shine in the morning. The more the sun rises up, the smaller this shadow becomes. The shadow becomes the smallest at zuhr or noon. As the zuhr passes, the shadow changes its direction and tends towards the east. The more the sun moves towards the west, the longer the shadow gets. Thus, when the shadow reaches the smallest length and begins to get longer again, it indicates the zuhr. But it should be remembered that in some cities, like Makkah, the shadow disappears entirely at noon. In cities like this the time at which the shadow reappears indicates the zuhr.) or noon until the time required to recite Salat al-Zuhr. If a person recites the Salat al-‘Asr even inadvertently at this time, it will be invalid. The specific time for the Salat al-‘Asr is the time before the evening just enough to recite the Salat al-‘Asr. If a person has not recited the Salat al-Zuhr until then, his Salat al-Zuhr has become qada’
and he should recite the Salat al-‘Asr. Between the specific time of the Salat al-Zuhr and the specific time of the Salat al-‘Asr’ is the common time for reciting the both. If one inadvertently recites the Salat al-‘Asr’ before the Salat al-Zuhr during this entire common time, his salat is valid. and he should recite the Salat al-Zuhr afterwards.
The Salat al-Maghrib (evening prayer) and Salat al-‘Isha’ (night prayer) each has a specific and common time. The specific time for Salat al-Maghrib (The maghrib is approximately 15 minutes after the sunset. It is signified by the disappearance of the redness which appears in the east after the sunset.) is from the evening until the time required for reciting the Salat al-Maghrib. Th e specific time for Salat al-‘Isha’ is the time before the midnight (The midnight, from Islamic point of view, is eleven hours and fifteen minutes after zuhr.) just enough to recite the Salat al-‘Isha’. If a person has not recited the Salat al-Maghrib up to this time, he should first recite the Salat al-‘Isha’ and then the Salat al-Maghrib.
Between the specific time of the Salat al-Maghrib and the specific time of the Salat al-‘Isha’ is the common time for reciting the both. If during this common time, one inadvertently recites the Salat al-‘Isha’ before the Salat al-Maghrib, his salat is valid and he should recite the Salat al-Maghrib afterwards.
The time for the Salat al-Subh (morning prayer) is from the beginning of true aurora or the first light of dawn (At dawn, a whiteness in the sky moves upward from the east which is called the first or false aurora. When the whiteness is spread, it is the true aurora and the time for the Adhan (call) for the Salat al-Subh, and the beginning of the time of the Salat al-Subh.) till just before sunrise.
The third prerequisite for reciting the salat is the dress of the person who recites salat. The dress should meet the following conditions:
(i) The dress should be mubah. It should be owned by the person reciting the salat. If it does not belong to him, its owner should be willing to let him recite salat with it.
(ii) It should not be najis.
(iii) It should not be made of the skin of carcass, irrespective of the carcass belonging to the animals whose meat is halal or haram to eat.
(iv) It should not be made of the wool, hair, and the fluff of an animal whose meat is haram to eat, but it is possible to recite salat with a fur dress.
(v) The dress of a male person who recites salat should not be made of silk and gold threads. He must also not wear ornaments or dress made of gold or silk while reciting the salat. Putting on silken dress and using ornaments made of gold are haram for men even while not reciting the salat.
A few conditions apply to the place where one recites salat:
(i) It must be mubah., i.e., it should not be usurped.
(ii) The place for reciting salat should be stationary. If one is compelled to recite salat in moving vehicles, such as automobiles or ships, he may do so provided he attempts to pray towards the Qiblah. If the direction of the vehicle changes during the salat, one must change his direction also accordingly so that he always faces the Qiblah.
(iii) If the place where one recites the salat is najis, it should not be so wet that the moisture permeates to his dress and body. But if the place where one puts his forehead on is najis, the salat is batil even though the place may be dry.
(iv) The place where one puts his forehead on should not be more than four closed fingers lower or higher than where one puts his knees and toes at the time of performing sujud.
The Ka’bah, located in the holy city of Makkah, is the Qiblah of the Muslims and anyone who recites salat must always face the Qiblah. But if a person, who is far away from it, stands or sits in such a way that it is said he is reciting salat in the direction of Qiblah, his salat is valid. Similarly, other acts such as slaughtering of animals must be done while facing the Qiblah.
If it is not possible for a man to recite salat even in a sitting posture, he should lie down on his right side such that the front section of his body faces the Qiblah. If this is also not possible, he should lie down on his left side such that again the front section of his body faces the Qiblah. If this is not possible either, he should lie down on his back such that the soles of his feet face the Qiblah.
If one who wants to recite salat is unable to discover the direction of Qiblah after a thorough investigation, he must go by the opinion which he has from the altars of the Muslims, or their graves, or other means available to him.
MANDATORY ACTS WHILE RECITING THE SALAT
The following eleven acts are mandatory while one recites salat:
(i) Niyyah; (ii) Takbirat al-ihram (the first takbir, i.e., Allahu Akbar -Allah is Great – said at the beginning of the salat just after the niyyah,); (iii) qiyam (the standing erect while reciting the salat; (iv) qira’ah (the recitation in the salat), (v) ruku’ (vi) sujud; (vii) tashahhud (testifying for Tawhid of Allah and prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (SA)]; (viii) salam; (ix) tartib. I.e., recitation of salat in accordance with the prescribed sequence without changing the order of performance; (x) tuma’ninah; i.e., recitation of salat with quietude and repose; and (xi) muwalat, i.e., reciting all parts of salat in succession without undue delay.
Five out of the eleven items mentioned above are called the rukns (basic parts) of the salat. Deliberate or inadvertent additions or deletions of the rukns will render the salat “batil” But the rest of the above-mentioned items are not rukns. It means that the addition or deletion of these items (other than rukns) will not render the salat “batil” unless they are done intentionally.
THE RUKNS OF THE SALAT
The rukns of the salat consist of the following: (1) niyyah, (ii) takbirat al-ihram, (iii) qiyam, i.e., standing erect while saying takbirat al-ihram and also the qiyam just before the ruku’, and (iv) ruku’, and (v) the two sujud.
(i) Niyyah: Niyyah means that the sole purpose of the person who recites salat is to seek qurbah (pleasure of Allah) to Allah and to comply with His commands. It is not necessary to pass the niyyah through the heart or, for example, to mention: “I recite four raka’at (sections of salat) of Salat al-Zuhr with the intention of seeking pleasure of Allah.”
(ii) Takbirat al-ihram: The salat begins right after Adhan (the specified wordings called out at salat time) and Iqamah (the specified wordings, almost similar to the Adhan and recited after it, before commencing the salat), with niyyah and saying Allahu Akbar. Since at this point of time, several acts such as eating, drinking, laughing, and turning the back to Qiblah become haram, this takbir (saying “Allahu Akbar” i.e., Allah is Great) is called “takbirat al-ihram”. It is mustahabb to raise both the hands while saying takbirat al-ihram. By this action, we take the Greatness of Allah into consideration and consider other than Allah insignificant and pay no attention to them.
(iii) Qiyam: The qiyam while saying takbirat al-ihram and also the qiyam just before the ruku’ is one of the rukns of the salat; but the qiyam or standing erect while reciting the Surat al-Hamd and the other surah and the qiyam after ruku’ are not the rukns. Thus, if one forgets to perform ruku’ and remembers it before reaching ground for performing sujud, he should stand erect and then perform ruku’. If he performs ruku’ in a bent position, his salat is batil because he did not have qiyam as is required just before performing ruku‘.
(iv) Ruku‘: After the qira’ah, one should bend his body in such a way that his palms reach his knees. This action is called ruku’. While in ruku’, one who recites salat, must say once: “Subhana Rabbiyal-‘Azimi wa bihamdih (all glory and praise is for my Lord, the Mighty)”, or he must say thrice: “Subhanallah (all glory is due to Allah)”. After the completion of ruku’, one must always stand erect before performing sujud.
(v) Sujud: Performing sujud means that one should lay his forehead, palms, knees, and the tips of his toes on the ground. He should then say once: “Subhana Rabbiyal-A’la wa bihamdih (all glory and praise is for my Lord, the Most High)';, or he must say thrice: “Subhanallah (all glory is due to Allah)”. After completing the first sajdah, he must sit before performing the second sajdah and repeating the previous recitation.
The forehead must be laid on the ground or on something growing from the ground. Sujud is not ja’iz (permissible) on foodstuffs, clothing materials, and minerals.
TASHAHHUD AND SALAM
If the salat consists of two raka’at, one should stand up after performing two sujud and should recite the Surat al-Hamd and the other surah. One must then perform qunut [After the recitation of the Surat al-Hamd and the other surah in the second rak'ah of the salat, one holds his palms before his face and recites any dhikr and supplication that he wishes. For example, he may say: "Rabbana atina fiddunya hasanah wa fil-Akhirati hasanah waqina 'adhabannar (O our Lord grant us goodness in this world and the Hereafter and save us from the torment of the Fire)."] and recite tashahhud [The following should be recited in tashahhud: "Ashhadu an la ilaha illalah, wahdahu la sharika lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan 'abduhu wa rasuluh, allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa ali Muhammad (I bear witness that there is no god except Allah; He is One, for Whom there is no partner; I bear witness that surely Muhammad (SA) is His servant and His Prophet; O Allah shower Your blessings on Muhammad (SA) and his progeny.)"] and salam [The following should be said in salam: "Assalamu 'alayka ayyuhan-Nabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh; assalamu 'alayna wa 'ala 'Ibadillahissalihin; assalamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh (May peace be upon you, O Prophet (SA), and mercy and blessings of Allah. May peace be upon us and on all servants of Allah who guard against evil. May peace be upon you all together with mercy and blessings of Allah.)"] after ruku’ and both the sujud. If the salat is of three raka’at, one should stand up after reciting tashahhud and must recite the Surat al-Hamd only or must say: “Subhanallahi walhamdu lillahi wa la ilaha illallahu wallahu akbar (All glory and praise to Allah, and there is no god but Allah, and Allah is Great.)” three times, perform ruku’ and two sujud and recite tashahhud and salam. If the salat consists of four raka’at, one must perform the fourth rak’ah like the third rak’ah and recite tashahhud and salam.
The Salat al-Ayat (the salat of Allah’s creation or signs) becomes wajib under any one of the four following conditions: (i) solar eclipse; (ii) lunar eclipse, although it may be partially eclipsed and even though it may not create fear among the people; (iii) earthquake, although it may not create fear for anyone: (iv) thunder, lightning. red and black winds or storms, and the like which create ‘fear among most people.
THE PROCEDURE FOR RECITING
THE SALAT AL-AYAT
The Salatal-Ayat consists of two raka’at There are five ruku’ in each rak’ah. The procedure for reciting Salat al-Ayat is as follows. After nuyyah and saying takbirat alihram, one should recite the Surat al-Hamd and another complete surah. He must then perform ruku’. Standing erect at this point, he should once again recite the Surat al-Hamd and another surah and perform ruku’. This procedure should be repeated five times. After the completion of the fifth ruku’, he should stand erect and then perform two sujud. At this point, the first rak’ah is completed. He should then stand erect and perform the second rak’ah exactly as the first one. The Salat al-Ayat is completed after the recitation of tashahhud and salam.
In the Salat al-Ayat, after the niyyah, takbirat al-ihram, and reciting the Surat al-Hamd, it is possible for the one who is reciting the salat to divide the Ayahs of a surah into five parts and read one Ayah or more before performing ruku’. He should then stand up and recite the second part of the partially read surah without reciting the Surat al-Hammd. Then he should perform ruku’. He should exactly follow this procedure until the fifth ruku’ and he must complete the surah by then. Afterwards, he must perform ruku’ and two sujud. The second rak’ah of the salat is performed exactly in the same manner as the first one.
THE SALAT OF A TRAVELLER
A traveller must recite two raka’at instead of his four rak’ah salawat under the following six conditions:
(i) His journey must cover not less than eight farsakhs (each farsakh is of about 5.6 kilometres). Alternatively, if his going covers four farsakhs and his returning equals to four farsakhs.
(ii) He must have the intention to travel eight farsakhs prior to the start of his journey.
(iii) He must not change his mind in the course of his travel.
(iv) His journey should not be undertaken with an intention of committing a sin.
(v) He must not be a traveller by profession. Thus, a person whose profession requires travelling (like a driver) must recite his salat completely. However, if he stays in his house for ten days, for his three journeys, he must recite his 4-rak’ah salawat as qasr (reciting two raka’at instead of 4-rak’ah salawat).
(vi) When he reaches the limit of the tarakhkhus (seeing off), i.e., he reaches a distance, from his hometown or from a place where he has intended to stay for ten days, from where he can neither see the walls of the city nor hear the Adhan of the city.
SALAT AL-JAMA’AH (CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER)
It is mustahabb for all Muslims to recite al-salat alyawmiyyah in the form of salat al-jama’ah. The thawab (Allah’s reward) for salat al-jama’ah is several thousand times more than the thawab for the salat recited individually.
CONDITIONS CONCERNING SALAT AL-JAMA’AH
(i) Imam al-jama’ah (the leader or imam of congregational salat) must be a mukallaf (the one who reached the age of maturity and thus became responsible for performing the Islamic duties) believer, just, and born legitimately. He must recite the salat correctly. If the ma’mum (the follower who follows the imam in salat al-jama’ah) is a man, the imam of the salat al-jama’ah must also be a man.
(ii) There should be no curtain, barriers, or obstacles between the imam and his ma’mum, so that the ma’mum is unable to see the imam. But if the ma’mum is a woman, a curtain and the like is permissible.
(iii) The place where the imam stands must not be higher than that of his ma’mum, but there is no objection if the place is slightly higher (about the height of four fingers or less) than that of the ma’mum.
(iv) The ma’mum must stand behind the imam or in his row (most of the ‘ulama’ prefer that ma’mum should stand behind the imam).
THE PRECEPTS CONCERNING SALAT AL-JAMA’AH
(i) The ma’mum must recite all parts of the salat himself, except the Surat al-Hamd and another surah after it. But if his first and second raka’at correspond to the third and fourth raka’at of the imam’s salat, he must recite the Suratal-Hamd and another surah as well. If as a result of reading the other surah, he feels that he would not catch up with the imam in ruku’, he should only read the Surat al-Hamd and perform the ruku’ with the imam simultaneously. If he fails to do so, he should complete his salat individually.
(ii) The ma’mum must perform ruku’, sujud, and other parts of salat simultaneously with the imam or shortly after the imam, but he must certainly say takbirat al-ihram and recite salam only after the imam has done so.
(iii) If one commences iqtida’ or follows the imam while he is in the state of ruku’ and catches up with the imam in ruku’, his salat is correct and is counted as one rak’ah of salat.
The sawm is one of the Furu’ al-Din (the duties to be performed according to Islamic Shari’ah) of the holy religion of Islam. It is wajib upon every mukallaf to have sawm in the month of Ramadan. In order to obey the command of Allah, from the time of Salatal-Fajr to the time of Salat al-Maghrib one must refrain from muftirat (certain acts which break or invalidate the sawm) which make the sawm batil.
In Islam, much importance has been attached to sawm. Islam maintains a great deal of value for this holy act. The reward and recompense of sawm is so vital in Islam that the Almighty Allah without His prior specifying the thawab and the recompense of sawm, ascribes its reward to Himself.
The Holy Prophet (‘SA) said that Allah stated:
“The sawm is for Me and I will give reward for it.”
With its specific characteristics, the sawm plays an exceptionally effective role in the liberation of man from the servitude of ambitions, carnal desires, voluptuousness as well as in the purification of the soul from involvement in sinful acts.
The Holy Prophet (SA) told Jabir ibn ‘Abdillah al-Ansari: “O Jabir, this is the month of Ramadan and the one who has sawm during the day and stays awake at night to commune with Allah, abstains from eating haram food, and guards against evils and using abusive language, gets out of sins as he leaves the month of Ramadan behind.”
Jabir said: “O Prophet (SA) of Allah, what a good news is it!” The Holy Prophet (SA) stated: “O Jabir, how demanding and exacting are the conditions for the sawm!”
Al-‘Imam al-Sadiq (AS) has stated: “The sawm serves as a strong shield against the fire of the Hell.”
RAMADAN – THE MONTH OF ALLAH
In Islamic ahadith many praiseworthy and interesting names such as “the auspicious month” and “the best period for the recital of Qur’an” have been mentioned for the month of Ramadan. But the name “the month of Allah” is the most outstanding name and the most beautiful title which has been used for the month of Ramadan.
In spite of the fact that every month is “Allah’s month”, this month is specifically called “the month of Allah” due to its great importance. Thus this name has in itself endowed this month with a special superiority and a specific spirituality. In this month, the greatest Divine Book (the Holy Qur’an) has been revealed.
With the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, Allah bestows His servants with His blessings. A special enlightenment and serenity generate in the spirit of man. For the worshipping of Allah, the purification of the soul, and moral reformation, a special preparedness becomes manifest in those who have sawm.
On the last . Friday of the month of Sha’ban, the Holy Prophet (SA) stated the following concerning the magnificence and value of “the month of Allah”.
“O people, the month of Allah, along with its blessings and salvation, has revealed itself to you. It is a month which is regarded as the best of all the months by Allah. Its days, nights, and hours are the best of all. It is a month in which you are invited to be the guest of Allah and are entitled to His favour and generosity.”
“In this month, your breathing will have the thawab of tasbih saying “Subhanallah” (Glory be to Allah) and dhikr and your sleeping will have the thawab of the worship of Allah.”
“If you resort to Allah in this month and worship Him, Allah will grant your prayers. Therefore, with all your truthfulness and sincerity and with a pure heart pray to Allah to grant you His Divine dispensations for having sawm and reciting the Holy Qur’an, for one who remains deprived of the forgiveness and blessings of Allah in this bountiful and blessed month is indeed unfortunate.”
THE SAWM LEADS TO TAQWA
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:
“O you who believe! the sawm is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may have taqwa (2:183).”
Islam enjoins its followers to have sawm for a complete month (during the month of Ramadan). By having sawm for one month, Muslims prepare themselves for the state of taqwa in its entirety, because when a man refrains from satisfying his natural physical desires, he can very well abstain from satisfying his carnal desires.
In order to attain such a degree of perfection, Islam surely does not consider only abstaining from eating and drinking to be sufficient for the sawm, rather it orders a person who has sawm to abstain from whatever causes indulgence in evils and the commitment of sins or leads him to satanic temptations and indulgence in his unruly carnal desires.
MUFTIRAT WHICH RENDER THE SAWM BATIL
Several muftirat (certain acts which invalidate the sawm) render the sawm batil. These include the following:
(i) Eating and drinking, although these things may not be usual drinks or eatables such as soil or the gum of trees.
(ii) The sexual intercourse renders the sawm batil.
(iii) Masturbation, that is, engagement in any sexual activity which leads to seminal ejaculation.
(iv) Ascribing a lie to Allah, the Holy Prophet (SA), and the successors of the Holy Prophet (SA).
(v) Allowing thick dust to reach one’s throat.
(vi) Immersing the head entirely in water.
(vii) Remaining in the state of janabah, hayd and nifas up to the Adhan for Salat al-Subh.
(viii) Application of an enema with a liquid substance.
(ix) Vomiting, provided that it is done deliberately.
For further information, reference should be made to al-risalat al-‘amaliyyah (Islamic treatises written by mujtahidin for use by their muqallidin for performing Islamic duties).
THE BAY’ (SELLING)
What is bay’? The bay’ (selling) means the sale and exchange of a property with another property in a way that the owner, who is ,called “the seller” of the merchandise transfers the ownership of his property to the other party in exchange for money, and the other party called “the buyer” pays the money to the seller in exchange for the merchandise.
As is evident, the bay’ is considered as one of the ‘uqud (contracts) and requires two parties (the seller and the buyer) for implementation. Thus those, who enter into the ‘uqud, must fulfil the general conditions of the ‘uqud such as maturity, wisdom, niyyah, and authority.
THE IRREVOCABILITY OF BAY’
The bay’ is an irrevocable ‘aqd, i.e., it cannot be revoked by either of the contracting parties (seller or buyer) after the conclusion of the contract.
In view of the fact that sometimes the seller or the buyer is cheated due to his negligence or default and sustains a considerable loss and because in such instances the irrevocability of the contract is against the public interest, Islamic laws have enjoined the following two commands to take care of this sedition:
(i) Faskh al-‘aqd (cancellation of contract): When one of the parties of the contract changes his decision and requests the revocation of the transaction, it is mustahabb for the other party to accept his request for the cancellation of the contract.
(ii) Khiyar al-‘aqd (option for the contract). It is a special option or a right which the dealer can exercise to cancel the contract.
The important khiyarat (options) are as follows:
(i) Khiyar al-majlis (option during the meeting): Both parties reserve the right to cancel the transaction before they disperse.
(ii) Khiyar al-ghabn (option in the case of cheating): It means that when one of the parties to the contract is cheated and has suffered a loss in the transaction, for example, if the merchandise is sold at lower than its actual price or purchased at higher than its actual price, in this case the one who has been cheated has an option to cancel the contract.
(iii) Khiyar al-‘ayb (option in the case of defect): If after the completion of the transaction, the buyer finds out that the merchandise is defective, he can either cancel the transaction or demand the difference in price (difference in price of defectless and of defective merchandise).
(iv) Khiyar al-hayawan (option in the case of animals): With respect to the option in the case of animals such as sheep and horses, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract within three days.
(v) Khiyar al-shart: (option of condition): If the seller or the buyer or both have agreed upon certain terms and conditions in their transaction, they can revoke the transaction if the previously stipulated terms have been violated.
THE BAY ON CASH, ON CREDIT,
AND ON ADVANCE PAYMENT
The bay’ is of four kinds depending on the payment of money and the delivery of the goods:
(i) The bay’ on cash: If the commodity and its price in money is exchanged right after the contract for transaction is finalized, it is called the bay’ on cash.
(ii) The bay’ on credit: In the credit transaction, the commodity is delivered to the buyer at the time of transaction, but the payment of the price of the commodity is deferred by the buyer.
(iii) The bay’ on advance payment: In this type of transaction, unlike the second type, the money is paid in cash by the buyer, but the delivery of the commodity by the seller is postponed.
(iv) The bay’ on deferred payment and delivery. Unlike the bay’ on cash, in this type of transaction, both the delivery of the commodity by the seller and the payment of money by the buyer are deferred to a later time.
The first three kinds of bay’ are correct, but the fourth kind of bay’ is batil.
The importance of confession: The role of confession in re-establishing people’s rights which are being trampled upon and are not being taken care of in a society is self-evident, because an action – which is taken by the judicial organizations after a great deal of efforts and pains, collecting evidence, calling the people to witness as well as after depending on guess and conjectures – can be substituted by confession in the easiest and most clear way with only a few words.
In Islam, the confession has a great importance from a personal point of view as well, because it originates from an instinct which Islam has perfectly endeavoured to revive and employ and that is the human instinct of admiring the right which is exactly the opposite of sensuality.
In His words, the Almighty Allah addresses those who believe in Islam:
“O you who believe! be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness for Allah’s sake, though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives…(4:135).”
The Holy Prophet (SA) states: “Tell the truth, though it may be against your own interests.”
The meaning and conditions of confession: In Islamic terms, the confession is a statement that substantiates the rights of others on the confessor, for example, one who confesses might say: “I owe one thousand Rials to such and such a person.”
The confessor must be mature and sane. He should confess out of his own free will. Thus the confessions of a child, an insane person, an intoxicated person, an unconscious person, a person who is asleep, and the one who is forced to confess are not correct and valid.
EATABLES AND DRINKABLES
In the holy religion of Islam, anything which could be eaten and drunk is known as “halal” except a few of them, some of which are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and some others in the ahadith of the Holy Prophet (SA).
The exceptional cases of haram eatables and drinkables are limited to two types: animate or animals and inanimate or soulless.
FIRST TYPE: ANIMALS
Animals are of three types: aquatic animals, land animals, and birds:
Aquatic animals: From among animals living in water only aquatic birds and fish with scales are halal to eat. The other aquatic animals such as eel, dogfish, tortoise, seal, porpoise, and the like are haram to eat.
Land animals: These animals are classified into two groups: domestic and wild.
The meat of domestic animals such as sheep, goat, cow, and camel is halal for eating. The meat of horses, mules, and donkeys is also halal, but eating their meat is makruh. A part from these, other domestic animals’ meat such as of dogs and cats is haram.
Among wild animals, cows, rams, wild goats, zebra, and dear are halal; however, the remaining wild animals that are beasts or that have talons such as lion, leopard, wolf, fox, jackal, and rabbits are haram to eat.
Birds: The meat of the birds that have maws and gizzards or that flap their wings while flying but do not have talons such as hens, pigeons or doves, turtledove, and francolin are halal to eat, but the meat of the rest of the birds is haram for eating. Some special species of locusts or grasshoppers are lawful (for further detail, one should refer to al-risalat al-‘amaliyyah.).
Note: The halal meat of the above-mentioned animals and birds depends upon their tadhkiyah (slaughtering animals according to Islamic Shari’ah), i.e., they should be slaughtered according to the Islamic method as explained in al-risalat al-‘amaliyyah.
SECOND TYPE: INANIMATE OBJECTS
There are two kinds of soulless or inanimate objects: solids and liquids.
(a) The carcass: The carcass of any animal, whether its meat is halal or haram, is haram for eating. Also najis objects such as the excreta of animals whose meat is haram to eat, as well as those eatables which have become najis through contact with najis objects, are haram to eat.
(c) Fatal poisons
(d) objects which are repugnant to man such as the excreta of animals whose meat is halal to eat, their nasal mucus, and anything found in their intestines are haram. Similarly, fifteen parts and organs of animals, whose meat is halal to eat, are haram for eating (for further details, one may refer to al-risalat al-‘amaliyyah).
(a) Any type of intoxicating drink is haram for drinking, even in a small quantity.
(b) The milk of animals, whose meats are haram to eat, such as of pigs, cats, and dogs is haram to drink.
(c) The blood of any animal whose blood gushes out (when its blood vessel is cut.).
(d) Najis liquids such as the urine and semen of any animal whose blood gushes out (when its blood vessel is cut).
(e) Liquids in which one of the najis things is mixed.
Note: The haram eatables and drinkables are haram when there is no idtirar (emergency or compulsion). In cases of idtirar (such as the health conditions of a person who will die of hunger if he does not eat haram food, or one who is afraid of illness or its aggravation, or one who, due to the intensity of his weakness, would fall behind his fellow-travellers and would die), one is authorized to have haram eatables and drinkables only as much as is necessary to remove his idtirar. This does not hold good in the case of a person who leaves his country for the purpose of robbery or rebellion against the Islamic government and faces an idtirar in the course of his journey.
Personal hygiene is one of the primary duties of man. Every individual can easily realize its importance with his Allah-granted commonsense.
The effects of various kinds of eatables and drinkables in maintaining personal health are very clear and evident. Furthermore, these have noteworthy effects on the morale and ethics of man, as well as in his social associations. There is no doubt at all that the mental conditions of a drunken person are not like those of a sober one and that their social behaviours are not identical. Or for example, if someone becomes accustomed to eating and drinking disgusting things, he will naturally produce an effect on his personal and social life and this effect is intolerable for common men.
Therefore, with his Allah-granted nature, man realizes that he must observe certain limitations in eating food. He should not eat each eatable or drink each drinkable. The Almighty Allah Who, according to His explicit wording in the Holy Qur’an, has created everything that is on the earth for man, Who Himself is not in need of man and the means of his life, and Who is All-Knowing and All-Seeing than others concerning the good and the bad of His creatures has declared some of the eatables and drinkables halal and some others haram for the benefit and prosperity of man.
Al-‘Imam ‘Ali al-Rida (AS) has stated: “Allah has not declared any eatable or drinkable halal, unless it is to the benefit and for the welfare of man, neither has He declared any haram, unless it is the source of man’s detriment, death, and corruption.”
The philosophy behind forbidding some of these haram eatables and drinkables is quite clear for those who have a pure understanding. The detriment caused by. some of them and the reason for their being haram have been gradually revealed to us through scientific investigations. Regarding haram eatables and drinkables whose philosophy for being haram has not yet become available to us, it cannot be said that these philosophies will never become clear to us. Even if their philosophies do not become clear to us, it cannot be said that they are actually devoid of any wisdom and expediency. But since these policies originate from the Holy Presence of an Infinite Knowledge, it can positively be said that these contain the best and most effective wisdom and expediency, even though we may fall short of understanding them due to our narrowmindedness and the limitations of our scientific means and equipment.
THE GHASB (USURPATION)
Taking the property of another person and owning it without any legitimate reason of possession and forcibly occupying the property of another person in order to benefit from its profits without the intention of legally claiming it as one’s own property is called ghasb (usurpation) according to Islamic Shari’ah.
Thus, the ghasb means exercising control over the property of others without having any legitimate means of control such as bay’, rent, or permission.
It becomes quite clear that the ghasb is an indecent act which violates the very principle of ownership. .lust as the principle of ownership plays an effective role in t he establishment and survival of the society, the ghasb ruins and brings the society to a standstill.
Possession of a property and ownership will become invalid if the influential people of a society decide to gain control over the produce and output of the labour of the weak and the subordinates. Thus the idea of the transgression of the influential people over the personal rights of the helpless people would become predominant in the society. Consequently, in this situation, the subordinates and the weak will embark on any kind of submission, dishonour, and disrespect in order to benefit from the output of their efforts and endeavours. Thus the human society will be converted into a market in which the slaves are brought and sold and the laws and policies of the society will become entirely invalid and will be replaced by coercion and oppression.
This is why Islam has formulated strict policies for the usurper and considers usurpation a mortal sin.
According to the explicit wording of the Holy Qur’an and ahadith, any kind of sins other than shirk may be forgiven by Allah and any kind of sins including shirk may be forgiven after tawbah (repentance), but whoever has a record of usurpation and infringement upon the rights of the people, will never have any hope for salvation from being called to account by Allah and from the remuneration of his deed without being forgiven by the persons who possessed these properties and rights.
SOME OF THE PRECEPTS CONCERNING GHASB
(i) It is wajib for the usurper to immediately give back the usurped property to its original owner. If the owner is not alive, the usurper must deliver the usurped property to his heirs, even if doing so may be a heavy loss for the usurper. For instance, if one forcibly seizes the stones or pieces of iron belonging to someone else and uses them in the foundation of a building worth hundreds of thousand times more than the stones and the iron, he should excavate the foundation and pull out the usurped stones and iron to give them back to the original owner, unless the owner agrees to accept the price of the commodity. As another example, if one usurps ten manns (each mann is of three kilogrammes) of wheat and mixes it with ten kharvars (each kharvar consists of one hundred manns) of barley, he should pick out all the wheat from the barley and return it to its original owner, unless he accepts to take the price of wheat.
(ii) If any defect develops in the usurped property, the usurper must not only return it to its owner exactly as it was on his usurpation, but he must also indemnify for its losses.
(iii) If the usurped property is lost, the usurper must pay its price to the rightful owner.
(iv) If the usurper squanders a part of the profits of the usurped property without using it himself, he will be responsible for the said profit. For instance, if a person who usurps the rental car of another person and puts it out of commission for a few days, he would be responsible for the loss incurred.
If the usurper gains profit from the usurped property, for example, if he nourishes a usurped sheep with good fodder, so that it becomes fat, he will have no rightful claims over the profit rendered by the sale of the sheep. If the benefits accruing from the usurped property are separable, for instance, cultivating a usurped land, one should give the usurped property along with its rent back to the original owner of the land, but the crop belongs to the usurper.
THE SHUF’AH (PREEMPTION)
If two persons own a house or another landed property as a musha’ (joint ownership) and one of the partners decides to sell his share to a third party, the other partner has the right to buy his partner’s share by the same contract agreed upon and exactly at the same price set for the third party. This right is called the right of shuf’ah (preemption).
It is quite clear that the right of shuf’ah has been devised in Islam to adjust and to stabilize partnerships and to eliminate losses and other mischiefs resulting from partnership of properties, for in many cases, the possession of the property by the new partner inflicts losses on the partner having the right of shuf’ah or serves as the source of a series of conflicts and disagreements due to differences of opinion or it may be that freedom of ownership may have benefits for the one who has the right of shuf’ah without causing any loss for the partner who wants to sell his share. The right of shuf’ah holds good for lands, houses, gardens, and other immovable properties, but it does not apply to movable properties.
RE-CULTIVATION OF BARREN LANDS
The term applies to the cultivation of a land which is not used (Whether it has never been cultivated before or it has been cultivated at a time, or it has become demolished and entirely fruitless due to the departure of its inhabitants or it may have become a meadow or a bamboo-field.). In any case, the re-cultivation or development of barren lands is considered as one of the good deeds in Islam. In addition to serving as a means of ownership, the re-cultivation of barren lands will also lead to thawab.
It is related from the Holy Prophet (SA): “He who cultivates a barren land is entitled to the ownership of that land.” Al-‘Imam al-Sadiq (AS) is quoted as saying: “Any group of people who develop and cultivate a land will have the preference and that land will belong to them.”
In Islam, barren lands belong to Allah, the Prophet (SA) and the Imams (AS) (i.e., they belong to the Islamic government) and are considered as anfal (spoils).
Waste lands and barren lands can be cultivated and owned under the following specific conditions. From among the people who cultivate a land, whoever takes the lead will have the priority of ownership. The conditions are as follows:
(i) Permission from the Imam (AS) or his deputy.
(ii) The land must not have been fenced with stones, or demarcated, or the like by anyone else in advance.
(iii) The land must not be within the limits of the property of others, such as the borders of rivers, the soil under the wells, and the boundaries of plantations.
(iv) The land must not be a free land, such as demolished mosques and endowments, or it must not be designed for the use of all Muslims, such as streets and roads.
Note: The development and cultivation of lands is based on a general understanding. Thus if the general understanding admits that a certain person has developed such and such a land, then that person’s ownership will be established. Certainly, the development of a land varies according to various objectives, for instance, in agriculture, the development of a land is made by ploughing and grooving it and in the case of construction, it is done by constructing walls around the land.
(v) It is permissible for everybody to derive a benefit from the open mines – which require no excavation and exploitation – to the extent which meets their personal needs. If benefiting from such mines requires excavation, drilling, exploitation, and other technical operations that are required for the excavation of gold mines, copper mines, and the like, the person who has taken pains in embarking on the excavation and exploitation of the mine will have the right of ownership.
(vi) Large rivers are jointly owned by the Muslims. In the utilization of streams and the water of snowfalls and rain, pouring down from mountains, whoever is closer and nearer to them will have priority over others.
LUQTAH (PICKED UP ARTICLE)
Any article which is found and whose owner is not known is called luqtah (picked up article).
(i) Any item which has been found and whose owner is not known and whose price is less than the price of one mithqal of silver, can be kept and possessed by the one who finds it. If the picked up item is worth more than one mithqal of silver in value, it should not be picked up. In case it is picked up, the finder should search for its owner through the normal channels for one year. If the owner is found, he should give the item to him but if the owner is not found, the finder should give the item to the poor on behalf of its owner as sadaqah.
(ii) If an item is found in ruined places having no inhabitants or if it is found in caves, or in barren lands having no owner, it will belong to the finder.
But if it is found in a landed property, the finder should make enquiries from the land’s former owners. The found item should be given to the former owners upon their presentation of some sort of identification to indicate that they had hidden it there; otherwise, the item will belong to the finder.
(iii) If an animal is found whose owner is not known, it will be treated as luqtah.
(iv) If a baby is found whose guardian is not known, it would be wajib kifa’i (an obligatory duty of all Muslims but it suffices when performed by someone) for every Muslim to pick up and bring it up.
(v) If a stolen item is entrusted to a person, it will be considered as luqtah and it should be restored to its original owner, but it cannot be returned to the thief.
GLOSSARY OF NON-ENGLISH TERMS
Adhan the specified wordings called out at salat times, the call for salat
Ahl al-Bayt (AS) Prophet Muhammad (SA), Hadrat Fatimah (AS) and the Twelve infallible Imams (AS)
Ahl al-Kitab the followers of the Divine Books (the Jews, the Christians and the Magians)
Akhirah the world Hereafter
‘alim (pl. ‘ulama’) Islamic scholar
Amin may Allah it be so
Amir al-Mu’minin Commander of the Believers, al-‘Imam ‘Ali (AS)
al-amr bil-ma’ruf enjoining the lawful acts
anbiya’ (pl. of Nabi) prophets
ansar helpers, friends
‘aqd (pl. ‘uqud) contract
Ayah (pl. Ayat) Qur’anic verse
Banu Hashim family of Hashim
Al-Bi’that al-Nabawiyyah appointment of prophethood
batil invalid, incorrect
dhanb kabir mortal sin
dhanb saghir venial sin
dhikr words for remembering Allah.
farsakh a measure of distance of about 5.6 km
faskh al- ‘aqd cancellation of contract
fiqh Islamic jurisprudence
Furu’ al-Din the duties to be performed according to Islamic Shari’ah.
Al-Ghaybat al-Kubra the Great Occultation of al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (AS)
Al-Ghaybat al-sughra the Short Occultation of al-‘Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (AS)
ghusl (pl. ghusul) taking bath according to the Islamic Shari’ah
ghusl irtimasi performing ghusl by the immersion of the whole body in water
ghusl mass al-mayyit performing ghusl due to touching of the dead body
ghusl al-mayyit bathing the dead body
ghusl tartibi performing ghusl by washing the body part by part as specified in Islamic Shari’ah
hadath condition requiring ghusl or wudu’
al-hadath al-akbar condition requiring ghusl
al-hadath al-asghar condition requiring wudu’
hadith ( pl. ahadith) Tradition
Al-Hajar al-‘Aswad the Black Stone
hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, obligatory once in lifetime for Muslims who can afford
hajj (pl. hujjaj) pilgrims who perform hajj
halal Islamically permissible
haram sacred premises
haram Islamically prohibited
hawari (pl. hawariyyun) disciple
Hijjatul-Wada’ the last hajj performed by Prophet Muhammad (SA)
Hijrah migration of Prophet Muhammad (SA) from Makkah to Madinah
Hud (AS) Prophet Heber (AS)
Ibrahim (AS) Prophet Abraham (AS)
idtirar compulsion, emergency, driven by necessity
ijarah receipt of money for reciting salawat and performing siyam.
ijtihad endeavouring for the deduction of commandments based on Islamic fundamentals
Imam (AS) (pl. A’immah) infallible successor of Prophet Muhammad (SA)
Imamah succession of Prophet Muhammad (SA) by Twelve Infallible. Imams (AS)
Imam al-‘Asr (AS) the 12th Infallible Imam of the present time, Muhammad al-Mahdi (AS)
Imam al-Huda (AS) (pl. A’mmat al-Huda [AS]) the Infallible Imam of Guidance
imam al-jama’ah the imam of congregational salat
Injl The Bible
Iqamah the specified wordings, almost similar to the Adhan and recited after it, before commencing the salat
‘Isa (AS) Jesus Christ
Ishaq (AS) Prophet Isaac (AS)
Isma’il (AS) Prophet Ishmael (AS)
Isra’il (AS) Prophet Israel (AS)
istihadah menstrual bleeding
istihalah transformation or a chemical change of the state of an object
janabah major ritual impurity or al-hadath al-akbar caused by the sexual intercourse, or the like
jihad Islamic war
jizyah head tax charged from Ahl al-Kitab in lieu of their non-acceptance of Islam
kafir (pl. kafirin) unbeliever
kafir harbi unbeliever to be fought against
khalifah (pl. khulafa’) caliph
khiyar (pl. khiyarat) option, right
khiyar al-‘aqd option for the contract
khiyar al-‘ayb option in the case of defect
khiyar al-ghabn option in the case of cheating
khiyar al-hayawan option in the case of animals
khiyar al-majlis option during the meeting
khiyar al-shart option of condition
kubra the great
kurr water weighing about 384 kg which does not become najis if najasah reaches it
luqtah picked up article
Madinat al-Rasul The city of the Prophet (SA), Madinah
makruh undesirable – though not unlawful but refraining from it is preferable
ma’mum the follower who follows the imam in salat al-jama’ah
mann a measure of weight of about 3 kg
Al-Masjid al-Haram Ka’bah
ma’sum ( pl. ma’sumin ) infallible
mithqal a measure of weight of about 4.6 g
mubah permissible, allowable
mubtil (pl. mubtilat) things or acts through which the salat, the sawm, the wudu’, etc become invalid
muftir (pl. muftirat) certain act which breaks or invalidates the sawm
muhajir (pl. muhajirin) immigrant
mujtahid one who is capable of deduction of command that is based on Islamic Shari’ah
mukallaf the one who reached the age of maturity and thus became responsible for performing the Islamic duties
munafiq (pl. munafiqin) hypocrites
muqallid (pl. muqallidin) one who follows a mujtahid’s instructions for performing his deeds
Musa (AS) Prophet Moses (AS)
musha’ joint ownership, held in common
mushrik (pl. mushrikin) polytheists
mustahabb recommended, desirable
mutahhir (pl. mutahhirat) purifier which purifies a najis
muwalat performing the parts of an Islamic act in succession without undue delay
al-nahy’an al-munkar forbidding the sinful acts
najasah impurity as per the Islamic laws
Al-Najashi King Negus of Ethiopia
najis inherently impure
nifas puerperal period
niyyah intention, decision
Nuh (AS) Prophet Noah (AS)
Al-Nuwwab al-Arba’ah the Four Deputies of Imam al-‘Asr (AS)
qada’ settling the salawat or the siyam which had not been performed in time, not performed but due
qalil little in quantity less than kurr
qasr reciting two raka’at instead of 4-rak’ah salawat
Qiyamah The Last Day
Qiblah facing towards Ka’bah while reciting salat
qira’ah the recitation in the salat
qisas Islamic reprisal
qiyam the standing erect while reciting the salat
qunut supplication during salat in a specific manner
qurbah seeking Allah’s pleasure
rak’ah (pl. raka’at) a section of salat
al-Risalah al-‘A maliyyah Islamic treatise written by a mujtahid for use by his muqallidin for performing Islamic duties
ruh soul, self, personality
Ruhulqudus Gabriel, Jibril
rukn (pl. arkan) a basic part of the salat
ruku’ a part of the salat in which one bows down, genuflexion
salam greetings, peace, saying “as-salamu ‘alaykum”
sajdah (pl. sajdahs) the act of prostration in the salat or worship to Allah
salat (pl. salawat) prayer
Salat al-Ayat the salat of Allah’s creation or signs.
salat al-jama’ah the congregational prayer
salat al-mayyit the prayer for the dead person
salat al-tawaf al-wajib the prayer of circumambulation around Ka’bah
al-salat al-yawmiyyah the daily prayers
Salih (AS) Prophet Salih sent to the tribe of Thamud
sawm statutory Islamic obligation of fasting
sawm al-wisal continuous fasting
Sayyidat Nisa’ al-‘Alamin the epithet of Fatimah (AS), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SA) meaning the head of all the women of the worlds
Shari’ah Divine Islamic Law
Shu’ayb (AS) Prophet Jethro (AS)
Al-Siddiqah al-Kubra the epithet of Fatimah (AS), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SA) meaning the most strictly veracious
sirah Life-style, conduct, character
surah (pl. suwar) Qur’anic chapter
tabligh (pl. tablighat) communication, propagation, dissemination
tadhkiyah slaughtering animal according to Islamic Shari’ah
taharah purity, specified Islamic way of purification
tahir pure as per Islamic Shari’ah
takbir saying “Allahu Akbar, i.e., Allah is Great”
takbirat al-ihram the first takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) said at the beginning of the salat just after the niyyah
taqiyyah concealing one’s true beliefs when life is in danger
taqlid following a mujtahid in practising Islamic laws
taqwa piety, guarding against evil
tarakhkhus the limit of the tarakhkhus (seeing off) is a distance at which neither the walls of the town are visible nor Adhan is heard
tartib the order or sequence as prescribed by Islamic Shari’ah
tasbih to say “subhanallah, i.e., Glory be to Allah” as a dhikr
tashahhud testifying for Tawhid of Allah and prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (SA)
Tawhid Oneness of Allah, monotheism
Tawrat The Old Testament
tayammum statutory Islamic ablution with soil, sand, etc
thawab Allah’s reward, spiritual reward
Ulul ‘Azm Anbiya’ arch-prophets
Ummah Islamic people, Islamic nation
Ummi unschooled (by human beings), untaught
Usul al-Din the fundamental principles of Islam
wahy divine revelation
wajib (pl. wajibat) obligatory, incumbent
wajib kifa’i an obligatory duty of all Muslims but it suffices when performed by someone
wilayah Islamic jurisprudential guardianship
wudu’ statutory ablution according to the Islamic Shari’ah
(Courtesy of: Allamah Sayed Mohammad Husayn Tabataba’i)