Lecture Series By Sheikh Mohamed-ali Shomali
Posted 14 January 2007 - 07:12 PM
Importance of knowing and following an Imam of the age
Imamah as a principle of the Shia faith
The meaning and functions of an Imam
The role of the Prophet [SAW]
The roles of the Imams [AS]
The Sunni belief in Imamah
Imamah and wilayah
Imamah is a very important topic, nearly all Muslims (there are some exceptions for example the khawarij), including Sunni and Shia believe in Imamah. But there are differences about the significance, and also about the extent of Imamah, and about the functions of the Imam, and about the way that the Imam can be chosen. In principle nearly all Muslims believe in Imamah. Both the Shia and Sunni narrate a hadith from the Prophet Muhammad [SAW] in different versions but with nearly the same meanings, possibly the Prophet [SAW] said this hadith in different places, or on different occasions, but the general idea is the same, both the Sunni and the Shia have narrated this hadith, this is the Shia narration:-
‘Whoever dies while he does not know the Imam of his age he dies a death of the age of ignorance (jahiliyyah)’
Therefore it is as if this person has died before Islam. The time before Islam is called Jahiliyyah, the time or age of ignorance. It is very interesting that Islam does not call that period the age of kufr, the age of disbelief, it calls it the age of ignorance – because in that period people did not have any argument for their disbelief – if they had rationally chosen disbelief – it would not have been that bad – but these people were disbelievers out of their deep ignorance and this ignorance was baseless. This hadith shows that there must always be an Imam, and every muslim has the responsibility to identify the Imam of his or her age, and then to know that Imam, believe in that Imam, and follow that Imam. Otherwise, although he is a Muslim, he is like someone who has died before Islam. It is important therefore to work hard throughout your life to identify and know the Imam of your age.
Our Sunni brothers have narrated this hadith in another way:-
‘Whoever dies without an Imam, is like someone who has died in the time of ignorance.’
Instead of saying ‘without knowing his Imam..’ they say, ‘without an Imam…’ It means the same, because ‘without an Imam…’ means not knowing an Imam, therefore the Imam is there to be known. There is also another version narrated by Sunni narrators:-
‘Whoever dies while he has not paid allegiance to the Imam (leader) of the age, he is like someone who has died in the time of ignorance.’
Having an Imam, knowing an Imam, is not enough – you must also pay allegiance to the Imam, and follow the Imam. There is another version which is similar to the second tradition that was narrated – which is found in both Sunni and Shia books:-
‘Whoever dies while he does not have an Imam, he dies a death of ignorance.’
Therefore the hadith can be found in slightly different versions, in both Sunni and Shia source from the Prophet Muhammad [SAW] and it shows the significance of Imamah, it is so important that without knowing the Imam of your age you cannot really be a true Muslim. The difficult task here is that there is a sort of vitality, there is a sort of dynamism. You can believe in God and the Prophet [SAW], this can be kept for generations without any change. But in the case of the Imam – every generation must find their own Imam. There have been many people who believed in Imam Ali [AS], but they had difficulty in the time of Imam Hassan [AS]. It was not enough to believe in Imam Ali [AS]. If they had died in the time of Imam Ali [AS] and had believed in him then that is okay. But when they were left and Allah (SWT), gave them the chance to live after Imam Ali [AS], the responsibility was now to find the Imam of their own age. We have many Shia who believe in Imam Ali [AS], Imam Hassan [AS], Imam Husain [AS], Imam Sajjad [AS] – but after Imam Sajjad [AS], they did not follow Imam Baqir [AS] – like the Zaidis, or for example people who believed in the first six Imams but then did not believe in Imam Kazim [AS], we even have people who believed in the first seven Imams, but they did not believe in Imam Rida [AS], for example he Waqifis. It is very important that in addition to all other beliefs, in addition to identifying the truth of the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad [SAW], and the Imams, one must also find the Imam of his own age.
Imamah a principle of religion (usul al-din)
Sometimes this can be compared to a compass used to find directions, wherever you locate the compass you can see that Qiblah is in a certain direction. But if you put the compass in another place it has to adjust itself to the new situation and show the new direction to Qiblah. A real Shia is one that whenever and wherever he lives, he is always directed towards the Imam of his age. The issue of Imamah is of great importance, and it is more important to the Shia than our Sunni brothers because we have chosen this as one of the principles of our faith. We believe in five principles of our faith, we believe in Oneness of God (tauhid), Justice of God (adalah), Prophethood (nubuwah), Divinely appointed leadership (Imamah) and resurrection (ma’ad). These five have been historically chosen by our ulema (scholars) as five principles that can identify us. Each group (madhhab) in Islam has an identity. Each school especially in the field of theology, tried to find some important elements in their understanding of Islam – that whoever believes in the same can be considered as a fellow follower of that madhhab. For our scholars the idea was that – whoever believes in these five together, he can be considered a Shia. If someone just believe in one or two, but not in all of them he is not a real Shia.
Mu’tazilites had something similar – they also had five principles, there is a famous book called al-usul al-khamsah – this is a very important source for the Mu’tazlites. They were an important group of Sunni theologians who were very rational, and sympathetic towards the issue of Divine Justice like the Shia but with differences. For the Mu’tazilites there were five principles whoever believed in them could be considered as a Mu’tazili. One of their principles was enjoining the good and prohibiting the bad (‘amr b’il ma’ruf wa nahi ‘an al-munkar) – the reason they chose this as one of their principles was that many Muslims were saying that it is just enough to say something to show that you are unhappy, if someone commits an evil, or does not perform his duties for example. But the Mu’tazilites had the idea that there are stages in enjoining the good. At first you should dislike something with your heart, secondly you should turn to that person to tell them to stop committing sin or to perform their duties, if that did not work you need to do an act. If there is an evil that is very important, there may be a need for some military intervention for example as in the case of Imam Husain [AS]. In the case of Imam Husain [AS] one of the things that he was using to support his movement was the importance of enjoining the good and forbidding the bad. When Yazid was not listening, there was nothing else to do other than to fight. The Mu’tazilites had this as one of their principles of religion.
The other principle they had was ‘al-wa’d wa al-Wa’id’ – the promises and threat. They had the principle that Allah (SWT) keeps his promises of bringing good to someone, or threatening someone to punish them. The other is a ‘status between two status’, which is very technical, there was a controversy among Muslims about someone who commits a major sin. Some people considered these people as Muslims some people considered these people as kafir. But the Mu’tazilites had the idea that these people were in a position between Islam and Kufr – ‘a status between two status’ ‘manzilatun bayna munzilatain’. Mu’tazilites believed that whoever believes in the following five principles – Unity of God (tauhid), Justice of God (adalah) , enjoining the good and forbidding the bad (‘amr b’il ma’ruf wa nahi ‘an al-munkar), promise and threat (al-wa’d wa al-Wa’id), a status between two status (manzilatun bayna munzilatain) he can be considered as a Mu’tazili. So this was a way to show their identity. For us as Shia those five principles are Unity of God (tauhid), Justice of God (adalah), Prophethood (Nubuwah), Divinely appointed leadership (Imamah), resurrection (ma’ad). We believe in many things, but these five principles can distinguish us from other madhahib, Imamah for us is therefore very important.
Sunnis do not believe in Imamah as one of the principles of their faith. They believe in Imamah (with a few rare exceptions), but when they want to discuss about Imamah they discuss about it in furu’ al-din (branches of religion, or practises of religion) not in usul al-din (principles of religion). Why is Imamah so important?
The meaning and function of an Imam
What is the literal and technical meaning of Imam. The literal meaning of Imam in Arabic is ‘leader’, the word ‘leader’ is very broad and general – a leader maybe a leader of a state, maybe of a mosque for prayer, or of a community for example Imam Khumaini who had many followers. Imam can be used for people who are even wrong-doers, they can also literally be called Imam, because Imam means ‘leader’, and therefore we can have good leaders and bad leaders. Muawiyah was also an Imam, Yazid was also an Imam. The Quran uses both meanings for example:-
‘And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to practise regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only).’ (21:73)
This verse displays an example of good leadership. These leaders guide people according to the Command of God – religiously. There is the opposite of that:-
‘And we made them (but) leaders inviting to the Fire; and on the Day of Judgment no help shall they find.’ (28:41)
These leaders invite people to hell, i.e. bad leadership. Therefore Imam is used in the Quran in the literal sense in both positive and negative cases. But what is important is not whether the Imam is good or bad but that they are important (in the sense that they influence). Everyone on the Day of Judgment will be resurrected with his or her Imam, whether good or bad. Everyone will be called by the name of his or her Imam. This is exactly what the Quran says:-
‘One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams: those who are given their record in their right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least.’ (17:71)
Every group of people will be called with their Imam, therefore instead of calling individual people, people will be called with their Imam for example ‘followers of this person you must come – follower of that person you must come.’ The Imam gives us identity and we are known as followers of that Imam, whether he is good or bad. Even Firaun will be the leader of his people on the Day of Judgment, but he will lead them towards hell.
‘He will go before his people on the Day of Judgment, and lead them into the Fire (as cattle are led to water): But woeful indeed will be the place to which they are led!’ (11:98)
Therefore the leadership in this world will be reflected or in a sense ‘shifted’ to the hereafter. A good Imam will take his people towards heaven, and a bad Imam will take his people towards hell. This is the literal meaning of Imam. What about the technical meaning of Imam, when we say that Imamah is one of our principles, we do not mean someone who just leads the society whether he is good or bad – we have a very technical sense here. Before this technical sense can be described, the roles of the Prophet [SAW] should be discussed, and then the background information is there to discuss the role of an Imam. The Prophet Muhammad [SAW] had different functions and tasks he had to fulfil. The first and most obvious was that he was to act as a Messenger of Allah (SWT). Delivering to people the revelation of Allah (SWT), whatever was revealed to him, about beliefs, about morals, practical laws – the Prophet [SAW] delivered this message to the people – with no alteration, omissions, additions, or changes. Exactly what he received as revelation he delivered to the people. The Quran says that:-
‘And if the messenger were to invent any sayings in Our name,
We should certainly seize him by his right hand
And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart:’ (69:44-46)
If the Prophet [SAW] was to attribute to Allah [SAW] something not told to him by Allah (SWT), if he were to lie for example, Allah (SWT) says that he would be seized powerfully and his neck would be cut. Therefore there is no compromise, and the Prophet by himself cannot add to the Quran or revelation. The first task of the Prophet [SAW] was to deliver this message to the people. This is where all Muslims agree that according to this role the Prophet [SAW] must be infallible. In the issue of infallibility (ismah) there is a controversy – the Shia believe that all the Prophets were masum, infallible, were protected from mistakes and sins, whether from delivering the message, whether in their personal life, whether before Nubuwah or after Nubuwah. We believe in a comprehensive infallibility. But our Sunni brothers mostly believe in protection from mistakes or sins as far as it relates to ‘delivering the message’. But before Nubuwah a Prophet may have done something wrong, and also after Nubuwah, in his personal life a Prophet is not masum. Therefore, in the case of delivering the message of Allah (SWT) there is no controversy among Muslims, that this is a role of the Prophet [SAW] for which he will be protected by Allah (SWT), so that the message can truly and purely reach the people.
The second task of the Prophet [SAW] was to act as a judge, as a Qadi. According to Islam, to be a judge you need to be qualified. You must be given permission by Allah (SWT) to act as a judge, because people are free, no-one can impose something on a free person without being give authority by Allah (SWT) who is the creator of people. But the judge, has to have authority in order to make judicial decisions. Therefore where is the source of this authority? This authority is from Allah (SWT). An arbitrator (Qadi al-tahkim) is not a proper judge because it depends on both people agreeing on something, and if they do not agree on that thing so the judge has not authority. One of the things that is very important is the issue of judgment and the judge being qualified, and one of the qualifications is to be given permission by Allah (SWT). For example we hear about Prophet Dawud [AS], that after fulfilling his responsibilities and passing several exams and trials, then Allah (SWT) told him:-
‘O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth: so judge thou between men in truth (and justice): Nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of Allah: for those who wander astray from the Path of Allah, is a Penalty Grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account.’ (38:26)
Khalifah – vicegerent of Allah (SWT), has a special meaning, it is someone who acts as a deputy of Allah (SWT) on the earth. Dawud is made a khalifah on the earth, and then he is told, now – judge among people, and rule the people with truth. The second task of the Prophet [SAW] was to act as a judge. The Quran says:-
‘But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.’ (4:65)
People have no real faith until they choose the Prophet [SAW] as a judge, and they must accept his decisions, and must accept it with all their hearts. Whatever the Prophet [SAW] therefore judges, if they are believers they must therefore accept it.
The third task was to act as a leader of the society, as a ruler. The Prophet [SAW] ruled an Islamic society, the Prophet [SAW] did not say, I will sit in the mosque it is not important who rules the society, I will be passive. This is true from the first day that the Prophet [SAW] entered Madinah, he set up rules and ruled the society. Therefore he also had political leadership.
Roles of Imamah
These three tasks of the Prophet [SAW] must be studied one by one to see which one can go on after the Prophet [SAW]. Our Sunni brothers have the idea that the third task, which is political leadership will continue after the Prophet [SAW] and must continue after the Prophet [SAW], and this is where we need an Imam. So they say Imamah is only restricted to political leadership. After the Prophet [SAW], we cannot say that we do not need any government and that we don’t need anyone to lead the society – this cannot happen. The Sunni also say that it was up to the people to say who can succeed the Prophet [SAW] in this regard and that person does not need to be very knowledgeable, because he does not have the task of teaching Islam, that person does not need to be infallible, that person just need to be a political leader and be qualified to lead the society.
The Shia say that this it is true that political leadership is needed after the Prophet [SAW], this continues after the Prophet [SAW], the first function of the Prophet [SAW] i.e. teaching Islam and delivering the message of Allah (SWT), which is the ultimate and final message of Allah (SWT), there can be no further revelation – this also must be continued – not by receiving the revelation, but by receiving Islam from the Prophet [SAW] and delivering it to the People. The Prophet [SAW], received all of Islam, whatever was needed Allah (SWT) revealed to the Prophet [SAW] it was the final message and there would be no further revelation. But the Prophet [SAW], did not, and could not deliver the whole of Islam, to all people. The time was too short – 23 years, also people were not prepared, there were many things that they could not understand and many situation which had not arisen. What the Prophet [SAW] did was to teach Imam Ali [AS] everything that he had learnt from Allah (SWT), then the Imam [AS] shifted and transmitted this to Imam Hassan [AS] then from Imam Hassan [AS] to Imam Husain [AS] e.t.c. This knowledge was not a conceptual or theoretical knowledge – something that you go to a school and attend Madrasah to learn, this knowledge was a knowledge that was given by Allah (SWT) in a special way, and with a special provision by Allah (SWT). The Prophet Muhammad [SAW] said as all Muslims narrated-
‘I am the city of knowledge and Ali [AS] is the gate to this knowledge.’
Whoever wants to benefit from the Prophet’s [SAW] knowledge must go through the gate. The Prophet [SAW] could not make all Muslims the gate to the city, the Prophet [SAW] made Imam Ali [AS] the gate to the city. The knowledge was not quantitative, it was a knowledge that was given all at once, but it covered everything. We believe that this first function of a Prophet, that is to teach Islam properly and truly in a way that Allah (SWT) is pleased with, was taken over by the Imam [AS] without receiving any further revelation. Therefore the Imam [AS] in addition to acting as a political leader he must be the most knowledgeable person in the society about Islam and he must be given knowledge immediately and directly by Allah (SWT) through the Prophet [SAW]. By ‘Immediate’ it is meant without any need to go anywhere, or read anything to learn this knowledge, because in this way there is the possibility of mistakes, problems and misunderstandings. Knowledge is immediately put in the heart and mind of the person.
This is therefore another aspect of Imamah which our Sunni brothers do not believe. They even say very frankly that we believe that Abu Bakr was not the most knowledgeable person. They quote from Abu Bakr, cases in which he says that he made mistakes. They quote from the Second Caliph cases in which he said, ‘If Ali was not there I would have destroyed myself.’, and they say that this happened on seventy occasions. It is said that when Abu Bakr died, people were crying in his house, Umar was asking people in the house of Abu Bakr not to cry, but they were crying, he therefore said that if you do not stop crying I will punish you, because I have heard from the Prophet [SAW] that a person who has died if the people remain crying then that person will be punished. Aisha was very angry and said why do you say this, the thing that the Prophet [SAW] said was different. A bad Jewish person died during the life of the Prophet [SAW], and his family were crying, what the Prophet [SAW] said was that these people were crying while that person is being punished. He didn’t say that because these people are crying they should be punished. Why when people are crying should innocent people be punished. Umar therefore said, if ladies had not been there then I would have been destroyed. So the Sunnis honestly admit that the Caliphs were not the most knowledgeable people. The third aspect of Imamah is wilayah.
Posted 14 January 2007 - 08:02 PM
Role of the Imams [AS] after the death of the Prophet [SAW]
Companionship of the Prophet [SAW]
The necessity of referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS]
Inferences from Hadith Thaqalain
Recap of last lecture
In the last lecture there was a discussion about the significance of Imamah, and a hadith was quoted which has been narrated by both Shia and Sunni scholars with slight differences. According to that hadith someone who dies without being able to identify the Imam of his age and knowing the Imam of his age is like someone who has died before Islam, in the time of ignorance. Imamah must be something like the spirit of Islam. Someone may say that they are Muslim, and they may have all the attributes of being a Muslim, but without having this spirit – they are like a dead person. His Islam is not useful for him.
After that there was a discussion about the literal and technical meanings of Imamah. The Prophet Muhammad [SAW] had three major tasks. These three major tasks were not shared by all the Prophets [SAW]. Because some of the Prophets just had the first task, and that was to deliver the message of God, to act as a judge was not a general or common task for all the Prophets. And also to act as a political leader was not something that happened to all the Prophets. The first task was shared by all the Prophets, but our Prophet [SAW], like some other Prophets had the other two tasks to undertake aswell i.e. acting as a judge and political leadership of society.
Then we asked the question – should the Imams [AS] inherit all these three tasks, or just political leadership. Our Sunni brothers mostly focus on the last task – political leadership. But the Shia say that political leadership is there, but it is not the main task. You may have an Imam [AS] there, but he may not be able to exercise his political leadership. There were many Imams [AS] who were kept in prison or under house arrest. They were not acting as political leaders for society, as rulers – but still they were Imams. They were qualified for political leadership, but, what makes them Imam is something more important, and that is to be in charge of delivering the true message of the Prophet Muhammad [SAW] in an infallible way. In a way immune and protected from mistakes, and errors – this is very important.
The Prophet Muhammad [SAW] was receiving revelation and delivering that to the people. If we look at the 23 years of the life of the Prophet [SAW], people were not able or prepared enough to receive all the details. There were many things that they were not told by the Prophet [SAW], because the time was too short, and even those 23 years was not a time of ease and comfort, it was a time of difficulties and wars. So the Prophet [SAW] was not like a person who was giving lectures for 23 years with peace of mind in an academic institute. The Prophet [SAW] was suffering, Muslims were tortured, they had to defend Islam, they had to defend themselves. People were not prepared enough, many people embraced Islam late, there were few who embraced Islam in Makkah, and many of them emigrated to Ethiopia. Also, the level of education was very low before Islam, this is one of the reasons that we call it the age of ignorance. The number of people who knew how to write and read was very low. There were so few people who knew how to read and write that they have been identified in the historical books. Also many situations which needed and required a response from Islam were not yet there. You cannot anticipate problems and tell people what to do, when the problems are not there. In many situation people face problems and they come to ask what to do. But, for example, in a time where people know nothing about electricity, they do not know anything about internet, about flying to the moon, about the poles – it does not make any sense to discuss with them about what to do when you are on the moon, or what is the Islamic code of practise when you are using the internet – it doesn’t make any sense for them. It was a gradual process of facing new challenges, new cultures, new civilisations – that made Muslims have more and more questions in their mind. This is why the Prophet [SAW] could not find people prepared enough to deliver to them all the message. The Quran itself when it comes to practical laws is very general. For example saying prayers is very important, it is mandatory but how many detailed practical laws are there in the Quran about prayers – even the number of units of prayer is not mentioned. Or about Hajj all the details of performing Hajj are not there in the Quran.
This is something that all Muslims agree on, that the Prophet Muhammad [SAW] delivered the message of Islam, properly and correctly but it does not mean that he was able to deliver with a full explanation. There are two views here, the Sunni view is that for those details which were not expressed during the time of the Prophet [SAW], we must use our own opinions, our own views. So this is why they use qiyas (analogy / allegorical argument) – because something is similar to something else therefore it must have the same ruling. They needed to refer to Istihsan – because this ruling looks good, therefore it must be religiously good. Also Maslahah Mursalah, they faced a problem, and they tried to fill the gap with these things, which had not presented themselves in the time of the Prophet [SAW].
According to the Shia, they said we must be loyal to whatever the Prophet [SAW] said or did. First of all the Sunnah of the Prophet [SAW] must be kept and preserved. Unfortunately the first, second and third and also after Imam Ali [AS], other Caliphs banned narrations of hadith of the Prophet [SAW], they lost many hadith, but the Shia kept those hadith. The Shia also say that the Prophet [SAW] transmitted and transferred his knowledge to Imam Ali [AS] and Imam Ali [AS], to Imam Hassan [AS] and thence forward to other Imams. Instead of having a period of 23 years of being in touch with Masum, with an infallible person. The Shia had a period of more than 300 years, of being in touch with masum. When Imam Mahdi [AS] started the major occultation it was 329 (AH), in addition to 13 of the life of the Prophet [SAW] before emigration to Madinah, after Islam in Makkah. So there are 342 years in which we had access to Masum, whether Prophet or the Imams. Of course the access was not always the same – sometimes the access was very easy, sometimes it was difficult. The last few Imams, starting with the Tenth Imam [AS], Imam Hadi [AS] and then Imam Askari [AS] then started to prepare the Shia for being able to continue without being able to visit the Imam [AS]. They started to establish a network of agents, Wakil, and also started to appoint people to do ijtihad, which was there before but it became more emphasised. And also there were many questions and answers in written form, not in oral form. Gradually people were trained to be able to survive, after the occultation of the 12th Imam [AS].
The first task of the Prophet [SAW] which was to deliver the message of Allah (SWT) was performed perfectly by the Prophet [SAW]. But at the same time this does not mean that the Prophet [SAW] was able to give all details to every single Muslim. This was a main and major task of Imams, this was more important than political leadership. Political leadership comes after this, whether an Imam is acting as a ruler or leader in society or not – he is an Imam. If an Imam is kept in prison for the whole of his life, if the Imam is in occultation still he is an Imam. Because he is qualified to have that function of delivering the true message of Islam, and also because he has the piety at a very high level, and wilayah (to be explained later), then because of all these requirements he is qualified to be a political leader. It is not because he is a political leader that he is an Imam, because he is an Imam he is a political leader. Why is he an Imam, because he has the knowledge, piety and wilayah. This clarifies the differences on the understanding of wilayah.
The importance of referring to Ahl al-bait [AS]
There are two levels of this discussion. One is about the permissibility of referring to the Ahl al-Bait [AS] about Islam. The questions is, are Ahl al-bait [AS] reliable sources for understanding Islam? And this can be dicussed on two levels, whether it is allowed to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS] or not. In other words whether they are hujjah (sound proofs) for understanding Islam or not. In the second level, we go further, we ask whether it is necessary to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS] or not. No-one can say that it is not permissible to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Because according to our Sunni brother’s methodology all the companions of the Prophet [SAW], were hujjah. Because they say that the Prophet [SAW] said in hadith, ‘My companions are like stars, to whomsoever you appeal or refer you will be guided.’ They believe that all the companions of the Prophet [SAW] were hujjah and were reliable. This creates lots of discussions – because it means that whoever was able to be a companion of the Prophet [SAW], was so deep in his knowledge, and was so pure in his heart, that he was reliable. Therefore both knowledge and piety must be guaranteed for all people who were companions of the Prophet [SAW]. And if you ask them who were the companions of the Prophet [SAW]? They have a very broad definition, ‘Whoever met the Prophet [SAW] once, whilst he believed in the Prophet [SAW].’ So if you just suppose that someone met the Prophet [SAW] for half an hour or five minutes, and he believed in the Prophet [SAW] he was a companion of the Prophet [SAW]. So every person in Madinah, every person who saw the Prophet [SAW], during Hajj in Makkah, everyone who travelled to Madinah and met the Prophet [SAW] by chance and he believed in the Prophet [SAW] – all are companions of the Prophet [SAW] and all are reliable. So if we ask them, what about those people who lived in Madinah and declared Islam, but the Quran says that they did not believe in Islam in their hearts? Who are they? Because the Quran talks in many verses about hypoctrites in Madinah. These hypocrites fall under this definition of companions (ashab), if this is of course the definition of companion. These people said that they believed in Islam, and they lived in Madinah, and naturally they met the Prophet [SAW] maybe more than other people, because they tried to say that they were very close to the Prophet [SAW], they wanted to pretend that they were true Muslims. Who are these hypocrites and how can we say that whoever met the Prophet [SAW] and said I am a Muslim they are a companion of the Prophet [SAW]?
We need a process of discerning true companions from wrong companions. The Shia say that first of all, a companion of the Prophet [SAW] is someone who believed in the Prophet [SAW], in his message, who met the Prophet [SAW], and who lived with the Prophet [SAW] for a considerable period of time, not just for one hour, one day or two days. Because in Arabic when someone is called sahib, the plural form being ashab, the single form is also sahabi – if someone is called thus, then there must be a relation. And this relation must be a relation which has endured for some time. How can I say that this person was a companion of the Prophet [SAW] whilst he was with the Prophet [SAW] for a very short period. If you say that someone is a friend of someone else, there must be some length to the relationship between them. Secondly, we say that it is not guaranteed that all people that lived with the Prophet [SAW] and said that they were Muslims, that they were really Muslims, that they were really believing in the Prophet [SAW]. Because the Quran itself says that there were people who said that they were Muslim, but they were not Muslims, and they created lots of problems for the Prophet [SAW]. They even attempted to assassinate the Propeht [SAW]. They even they built a mosque to harm Islam, Masjid al-Zarrar. The Shia say that the companions of the Prophet [SAW] who were true companions, who were really believing in the Prophet [SAW], are very, very respectable – but we do not guarantee that whoever lived with the Prophet [SAW] and declared Islam he is a reliable person. It is very obvious, especially when we see that many of the companions especially after the demise of the Prophet [SAW] started to fight, they killed each other, they accused each other. The first Caliph and the second Caliph punished some of the companions of the Prophet [SAW] for some wrong things that they did.
Since our Sunni brothers believe that all ashab were infallible in this sense, they were reliable – they guarantee that the Islam that they present – introduce is acceptable, it is a sort of infallibility. Since they accept this principle, they must accept that the Ahl al-bait [AS], Imam Ali [AS] for example and Imam Hassan [AS] and Imam Husain [AS] must be reliable sources. The first level is obvious – the permissibility of referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Someone who says that, ‘Whoever meets the Prophet [SAW] and declares Islam, is reliable.’, can that person then say that the Ahl al-Bait [AS] were not reliable – no. Therefore no Muslim today disputes about the authority of the Ahl al-bait [AS], if only in theory, in practise there are differences.
The second level is more important – the Shia say that it is necessary to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Ahl al-bait [AS] are not just like other companions of the Prophet [SAW], it is believed that it is the duty of every Muslim to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Is it only because these people were very close to the Prophet [SAW], or lived with the Prophet [SAW], because they were members of the house of the Prophet [SAW], and they had more access to the knowledge of the Prophet [SAW]? These are all true, but is not just because of this that it is necessary to refer to them. We have very clear instructions by the Prophet [SAW] asking us to refer to the Ahl al-bait [SAW], this is the most important aspect of the issue of Imamah. It is not helpful today to dispute with our Sunni brothers about who was supposed to be the first caliph, it is something important but it is more of a historical discussion. What is very important is ‘Who must be the person who is referred to in presenting Islam.’ What is very important today is how we can understand Islam properly today. There are many hadith from the Prophet [SAW] about this issue of the necessity of referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. There is the famous hadith of thaqalain. This hadith is narrated by all schools of Islam, not just the Shia. There are different versions and the Prophet [SAW] may have mentioned this hadith on different occasions, because sometimes something very important was often repeated by the Prophet [SAW], so that all people could hear. According to one version the Prophet [SAW] is reputed to have said:-
‘O people, I leave among you two precious things, the book of God, and my household. As long as you hold on to them you will not go astray.’
In another version the Prophet [AS] is reputed to have said:-
‘I leave among you two precious things, if you hold on to them you will not go astray after me, the book of God which is like a rope extended between the heaven and the earth. And my household, these two things will not separate from each other until they reach near to the fountain of Kauthar on the Day of Judgement. Be alert and careful as to how you treat them after me.’
In another version which is just narrated by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal the Prophet [SAW] instead of saying, ‘I am leaving behind two precious things.’, said, 'I leave two successors, one which is the book of God which is like a rope extended between the heaven and the earth, the second is my household. They will not separate from each other until they come to me near the fountain of Kauthar.’ This hadith is mentioned in many Sunni sources – for example Sahih Muslim (one of the authentic books of hadith of the Sunni), In Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal (another important sources), Sunan of Darimi (One of the authentic book), in Sunan of Tirmidi (one of the authentic books), also in other books aswell. It is important to note that in the time of Ayatullah Burujurdi, in the first issue of a journal called Risalah al-Islam, which was published in Cairo, Egypt. This journal was a specialist journal about Sunni-Shia relations, an initiative between Ayatullah Burujurdi and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar. In the first issue of this journal, there was an article by a Sunni scholar in which he quoted hadith which mentioned that the Prophet [SAW] left behind two things the ‘Book of God’ and his ‘Sunnah’. Very rare sources mention the ‘Book of God’ and the ‘Sunnah’, most say the ‘Book of God’ and ‘my family’. Ayatullah Burujurdi when he received this journal asked one of the Ulema in Qum, about references for sources which mentioned the ‘Book of God’ and ‘my family’. The result was a booklet containing 200 Sunni sources, for the ‘book of God’ and ‘my family’. The Ayatullah sent this to Cairo and this was published. This is a very well established hadith and no-one can dispute it. ‘The book of God and my Sunnah’ is narrated by just a few Sunni scholars and even if that is true there is no problem, because in order to understand the Sunnah of the Prophet [SAW], you must refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS], because the Prophet [SAW] cannot be associated with a statement which is contradictory, if the Prophet [SAW] in many cases said the, ‘Book of God and my family’ and in some cases, ‘The book of God and my Sunnah.’ The first part, ‘The Book of God.’, is the same, so the second part the ‘Sunnah’ of the Prophet [SAW] and the ‘family’ of the Prophet [SAW] must be harmonious. So to be able to understand the Sunnah you must refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. No-one can say that you can manage yourself just with the Sunnah – you must refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS] to understand the Sunnah.
Many things can be understood from the above mentioned hadith. The first thing that can be understood is that the Book of God and Ahl al-bait [AS] must be available till the end of the world, because the Prophet [SAW] said if you refer to these two you will never go astray. They must both be available till the end of life of humanity, before resurrection. The second point is that no-one can say that the Book of Allah (SWT) is enough. When the Prophet [SAW] wanted to dictate something when he was ill and he was going to die, the second caliph Umar was there and according to Sunni sources he said that the Prophet [SAW] is not feeling well and he may not have full control of what he says, he said, ‘The book of God is sufficient for us’ i.e. we do not need the Sunnah. This hadith says that the book of God is necessary but is not enough. Ahl al-bait [AS] must be there for you to interpret the Book of God. Because today there are 73 different sects of Islam, all of them argue from the Quran. For example there was an argument about the visibility of God, about whether we can see God by our eyes or not. The ‘Ash’arites said that you can see God by you physical eyes, and they were arguing from the Quran.
‘Some faces, that Day, will beam (in brightness and beauty);-
Looking towards their Lord’ (75:22-23)
They said that this verse proves that you can see Allah (SWT). Other groups like the Mu’tazilites and the Shia didn’t believe this, they argued from the Quran aswell, all people argued from the Quran therefore there must be an interpreter for the Quran. The book of God and the family of the Prophet [SAW] must both be there, without each other they are nothing.
The household of the Prophet [SAW] can never go astray, that is why we can appeal to them and be saved by them. If they themselves go astray or make mistakes how can we follow them? They always must be inline with the Quran. Since the Quran is something whose truth will be there forever, the teachings of Ahl al-bait [AS] must also always be true and this is a good reasoning for why the Ahl al-bait [AS] are infallible. Since the Quran is preserved by Allah (SWT) till the end of the world, Ahl al-bait [AS] must also be given a sort of continuity by Allah (SWT). This is why it is believed that there must always be a living member of the Ahl al-bait [AS] on the earth. Quran is always there and a member of the Ahl al-bait [AS] must also always be there.
Edited by NormaL_UseR, 15 January 2007 - 07:22 AM.
Posted 14 January 2007 - 08:49 PM
-Further hadith about the necessity of referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS] i.e. hadith safinah, hadith bab hittah, hadith nujum
-Who are the Ahl al-bait [AS] from rational proof and hadith
Recap of last lecture
In the last lecture the role of the Imams [AS] or the Ahl al-bait [AS] in general was discussed. The first task of the Prophet [SAW] was to present people with true Islam, with the difference that the Prophet [SAW] received his knowledge directly from God, through revelation, but, the Ahl al-bait [AS] received their knowledge through the Prophet [SAW]. We have many hadith from the Imams [AS] that whatever we tell you we have received from the Prophet [SAW], they never added anything from their own mind, or will, or wishes – it was only what they received from the Prophet [SAW]. There are two levels for this discussion – the first level is to demonstrate, to prove that every Muslim is allowed to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS] in understanding Islam – this does not need that much discussion especially since the Sunni methodology of understanding Islam states that all companions of the Prophet [SAW] were sound, reliable and just. Therefore, the authority of the Ahl al-bait [AS] cannot be disputed, if all companions of the Prophet [SAW] are reliable, especially if the Sunni definition of companion of the Prophet [SAW] is employed which is very broad – ‘whoever met the Prophet [SAW] even for a few minutes while he believed in the Prophet [SAW], was a companion of the Prophet [SAW].’ If they have such a broad definition of companion, they cannot say, and they indeed do not say, at least in theory that we do not accept Ahl al-bait [AS]. So, the Sunni accept everything that is there from the Ahl al-bait [AS], both in theory and practise and if not then in theory.
Recently there have been some moves forward, there have been some new fatwas by our Sunni brothers, for example about Hajj, whether it is necessary to throw the stone just in the morning or it can be in the afternoon. Our Sunni brothers had the view that it must just be in the morning, and this created a lot of problems because of the size of the crowd. Recently, some of them said that it is possible that the throwing of the stones can be done in the afternoon according to the riwayah of Imam Baqir [AS]. So they have accepted Shia fatwas in this regard. There is no theoretical problem here.
The second level of the discussion is about the necessity of referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. This is also not difficult to prove. Both the Shia and the Sunnis have narrated some hadith which clearly suggest that it is a duty of all Muslims to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. The first ḥadith mentioned was ḥadith thaqalain, in the last lecture it was mentioned that there were over two hundred Sunni references for this hadith. The hadith thaqalain is very profound in its meaning it does not just mean that we need to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS], it implies many things. According to this hadith no-one can say that the book of God is sufficient is enough for us, both are needed, the book of God and a human interpreter – the book of God can be misinterpreted. All the different Islamic Schools of Thought, and today even the non-Muslims argue from the Quran. Therefore,there must be someone there, like the Prophet [SAW] when he was alive, and after him the Ahl al-bait [AS] – to teach us the true meaning of the Quran. That is why the Quran says that one of the tasks of the Prophet [SAW], in teaching Islam was to recite the Quran and to teach the Quran. Not just to recite the Quran:-
"Our Lord! send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (2:129)
The Prophet [SAW] recited Quran to the people, purified them, and taught them the Quran and wisdom. If just reciting the Quran was enough to understand it, then the Prophet [SAW] did not have to teach the Quran. The Prophet [SAW], recited the Quran, and taught the people – and this teacher after the Prophet [SAW] was the Ahl al-bait [AS]. According to this hadith we understand that the Ahl al-bait [AS] must be infallible, because the Prophet [SAW] said two things that the Quran and ‘my family’ will never separate from each other, and secondly that you must appeal to both. These are two reasons to prove the infallibility of the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Because if the Ahl al-bait [AS] done something wrong, then it means that they have strayed, and separated from the Quran, but the Prophet [SAW] said that they will never separate. And also, if the Ahl al-bait [AS] made some mistakes, committed some sins how can we appeal to them and at the same time appeal to the Quran. Is it wise that the Prophet [SAW] asked us to follow unconditionally people who made mistakes. The third point that could be understood from the hadith is that exactly in the same way that the Quran must always be available – it will not disappear, Ahl al-bait [AS] must also continue – there must be a sort of continuity or connectedness. There must be at least one member of the Ahl al-bait [AS], who can inspire us and guide us, whether we can identify him in person or not – he is there and he teaches us and guides us. If the Ahl al-bait [AS] disappear then it is like the Quran disappearing.
Other hadith about the necessity of referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS]
The other hadith is the famous hadith of safinah. The Prophet Muhammad [SAW] likened his household to safinah (to the ship of Nuh [AS] (Prophet Noah)):-
‘Be aware that surely the parable of my household among you is like the ship of Noah [AS] whoever embarked on the ship of Noah [AS] was saved, and whoever refused to do so was drowned.’
This hadith is also mentioned in many Sunni sources. It is also clear and understandable and not difficult to understand, because it directly refers to being saved and being drowned – this does not mean here being physically saved – because people can physically survive without appeal to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. It is a matter of guidance, which is the spiritual life. There is an important Quranic idea that each human being has two different sorts of life. One life is the physical life, which we can examine by medical tests – but we have another life and that is the life of guidance and faith. The Prophets and the people who followed their path like Imams [AS] and like holy people, ulema, they inivite people to take care of their second life, not just the first life:-
‘O you who believe! answer (the call of) Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life; and know that Allah intervenes between man and his heart, and that to Him you shall be gathered.’ (8:24)
Allah (SWT) and the Messenger is inviting us to something that gives life. Islam is a life for us, and if we lose our Islam then we are dead. We may be physically alive – but we are dead spiritually. This is why these people who are dead spiritually, they cannot understand many things. There eyes do not see, but there physical eyes see, there eyes of the heart do not see. Their ears do not listen or understand. And their heart does not feel anything:-
‘Deaf, dumb (and) blind, so they will not turn back.’ (2:18)
The Prophet [SAW] said, whoever refuses to appeal to my household is not saved, drowned, is destroyed – not physically but spiritually – which is more important. If you are just physically alive there is no point in being alive, when you have no faith, when you have no direction in your life.
There is another hadith also narrated by our Sunni brothers, for example, ibn Hajr in al-Sawa’iq al-Mughriqah, that after the Prophet [SAW] likened his household to the Ship of Noah he likened them to the gate of hittah, this was a gate for the people of Israel. Allah (SWT) had asked them to enter this gate and whoever refused to enter the gate was destroyed, and whoever entered through this gate would be forgiven:-
‘And when We said: Enter this city, then eat from it a plenteous (food) wherever you wish, and enter the gate making obeisance, and say, forgiveness. We will forgive you your wrongs and give more to those who do good (to others).’ (2:58)
The Prophet [SAW] said, as entering through the gate of hittah was a source of receiving Allah’s (SWT) mercy and entering heaven by being forgiven. Whoever follows the Ahl al-bait [AS] will be forgiven by God. There is another hadith by the Prophet [SAW] in which he likened his household to the stars. Stars are not just to enlighten the sky, or to make the sky look more beautiful. Stars, especially in olden days were a source for guidance, in order to find direction, The Prophet [SAW] said:-
‘The stars saved people from being drowned, and my household saves people from disagreement and conflicts. If a group of Arabs disagrees with my household. They will suffer disagreements amongst themselves. They will lose their unity and become the party of Satan.’
The Prophet [SAW] disapproved with those people who disagreed with the Ahl al-bait [AS], or went into a disagreement with them. This hadith, and the hadith before it i.e. hadith thaqalain, hadith safinah, ḥadith bab hittah are very well known hadith in Sunni references and the similar ideas can be found in Shia hadith indicating the necessity of referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. It is not an option, where you can say that such and such option is available, it is a must. You must refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS] to be able to understand Islam.
Who are the Ahl al-bait [AS]?
The question arises – who are the Ahl al-bait [AS]? Because the Ahl al-bait [AS] are slightly different from the Imams [AS], because they also include Lady Fatimah [AS]. Apart from a very few people who do not love Ahl al-bait [AS] – nearly all Muslims love the Ahl al-bait [AS]. But, there are two differences, people may love Ahl al-bait [AS] but they do not necessarily take Islam from the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Secondly, they have a different definition of Ahl al-bait [AS] – which is more general than the Shia. We say that Ahl al-bait [AS] are the close relatives of the Prophet [SAW], Lady Fatimah [AS], Imam Ali [AS], Imam Hasan [AS] and Imam Husain [AS]. Secondly it includes other Imams [AS], but in the first place it is these four people. Our Sunni brother believe that all relatives of the Prophet [SAW] are the Ahl al-bait [AS]. So whatever children the Prophet [SAW] had, whatever wives the Prophet [SAW] had, whatever cousins the Prophet [SAW] had, uncles, aunts, all are Ahl al-bait [AS] the only exception is when such a person is a kafir. There were some uncles of the Prophet [SAW] who were kafir and therefore these cannot be counted as Ahl al-bait [AS]. So they must accept that there is a limit, all Muslim relatives of the Prophet [SAW] are Ahl al-bait [AS]. But the Shia say that the Ahl al-bait [AS] is much more limited, there are different ways to argue for the truth of the claim of the Shia. First of all there is a rational way. If you are disputing with someone and you both agree with something to a certain level, and disagree about the extra things about this. Our reasons says that something which you agree on and which is known for sure, something which is beyond what you agree on must be proved. No-one has doubt that Lady Fatimah [AS] and Imam Hasan [AS] and Imam Husain [AS] are Ahl al-bait [AS]. This is what all Muslims agree, above and beyond that is disputable. So, it is the duty of the burden of the argumentation, the burden of the argument for our Sunni brothers to prove that the Ahl al-bait [AS] means more than that. The other point is that Sometimes we understand the subject of a ruling, by looking at the predicate. If for example it is told to you that you have a problem with your heart – refer to the doctor. Then you have doubt about whether this doctor has the necessary expertise to treat the problem. How can you understand, that such a doctor is needed in this case – you look at the predicate. A doctor that can help with the heart problem cannot be any doctor, it is a special doctor.
If the Ahl al-bait [AS] means all the members of the family of the Prophet [SAW] whether children, uncles, aunts, wives and so forth – but the Prophet [SAW] says that you must appeal to the Quran and the Ahl al-bait [AS] and they will never separate from each other, and they will guide you to happiness. Who can these relatives be – by looking at the household of the Prophet [SAW], and the members of the family of the Prophet [SAW] – you have to exclude Kuffar for example Abu Lahab. Is there anyone among the family of the Prophet [SAW] for who such a high position of infallibility is claimed – other than Imam Ali [AS], Lady Fatimah [AS], Imam Hasan [AS] and Imam Husain [AS]. No-one can say that people other than these four are infallible and they always accompanied the Quran. Ahl al-bait [AS] may literally be very broad, but we are looking for people among them who can satisfy the criteria that they have, that they must always be accompanying Our Quran, that they must never do something that conflicts the Quran. The Sunni brothers say that there is no such person because other than the Prophet [SAW] they do not believe in any masum, even the Prophet [SAW] they say is masum in his message. The only people for whom infallibility is claimed are these four. These people qualify be the real Ahl al-bait [AS].
There are hadith from the Prophet [SAW] to clarify the meaning of Ahl al-bait [AS]. For example, there is a hadith from Aisha narrated by Muslim in his Sahih, in the section of the merits of the Ahl al-bait [AS]. This hadith is very famous. Aisha said that
‘Once the Prophet [SAW] went out and he was wearing a cloak of black wool. Imam Hasan [AS] came, the Prophet [SAW] let Imam Hasan [AS] to enter the cloak, Imam Husain [AS] was also allowed inside the cloak, also Lady Fatimah [AS], and then Imam ‘Ali [AS]. After that the Prophet [SAW] said:-
‘….Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.’ (33:33)
These people are therefore the Ahl al-bait [AS] and Allah (SWT) has purified them with a thorough purification. Another hadith is in Sahih Muslim in the section of the merits of Ali ibn Abi Talib [AS]. This is about a conversation between Sa’ad ibn Waqqas (He conquered Iran was the head of the army, and was the father of Umar Sa’ad, he was also one of the companions of the Prophet [SAW], a very well known companion) and Muawiyah. Muawiyah once asked Sa’ad ibn abi Waqqas, why do you refuse to curse Ali [AS], it was a fashion at that time especially in Damascus, he replied:-
‘I remember three sayings of the Prophet [SAW] about Ali [AS] which caused me not to say anything bad about him, if I possessed even one of these qualities it would be better than me than even red camels, when the Prophet [SAW] wanted to go to the war of Tabuk he left Ali [AS] in Madinah, Ali was very sad that he was left behind and was not fortunate enough to join the army for the sake of God, he went to the Prophet [SAW] and said, ‘Do you leave me with the women and children.’ The Prophet [SAW] replied, ‘Are you not happy to be to me like Harun [AS] was to Musa [AS], except that there will be no Prophet after me.
I heard from the Prophet [SAW] from the day of the conquest of Khaibar, ‘Certainly I will give the flag of Islam to a man who loves God and his Messenger’ and is loved by God and his Messenger. Everyone hoped that the flag was given to them – but the Prophet [SAW] said, ‘Call Ali [AS] for me.’ Ali [AS] came forward, although he was suffering from pain in his eyes, the Prophet [SAW] gave him the flag, and in his hands God granted us victory.
When the verse of mubahalah was revealed, the Prophet [SAW] called Ali [AS], Fatimah [AS], Hasan [AS], and Husain [AS] and said, ‘My Lord these are my household.’
This is narrated in Sahih Muslim which along with Sahih Bukhari are the most important books of hadith for the Sunni, among the six Sihah these two are the most important. There is another hadith from Zaid ibn Arqam (One of the companions of the Prophet [SAW]). People many years after the death of the Prophet [SAW] went to him and asked about some hadith, he said I have become very old and it was a long time ago, that the Prophet [SAW] was alive, I have also forgotten some of what I knew from the Prophet [SAW]. Whatever I tell you accept it, and whatever I do not tell you do not force me to tell you:-
‘Once the Prophet [SAW] stood speaking to us at a place between Makkah and Madinah, called Khum (i.e. Ghadir Khum – the oasis of Khum). The Prophet [SAW] started by praising God and preaching, then the Prophet [SAW] said, ‘O people, know that I am a human being and soon a Messenger from God (i.e. the angel of death) will call me and I will answer surely I am leaving among you two precious things the first is the book of God in which there is guidance and light so hold on to the book of God, having encouraged the people to do so, the Prophet [SAW] then said, the second is my household – he added three times, ‘I ask you to remember God in the way you treat my household.’ Then Husain ibn Subra said, (one of the people who asked Zaid to narrate hadith), ‘O Zaid who are the household of the Prophet [SAW]? Are his wives included?’ Zaid replied ,’The wives of the Prophet [SAW] are his relatives but his household are those who cannot accept charity. And his wives do not have such a position.’, Husain ibn Subra asked, ‘Who are they?’, Zaid replied, ‘The family of ‘Ali [AS], the family of Aqil, the family of Ja’far, the family of ‘Abbas.’’
Zaid was not a Shia and a follower of the Ahl al-bait [AS] but he knew to this extent that the wives are excluded, but he thought that all cousins of the Prophet [SAW] are included – this was the extent that he knew. It is true that these people are considered as Sayyid in some aspects, there are some rulings in Islamic Fiqh about Sadat, that apply to all Bani Hashim, not necessarily to the children of Lady Fatimah [AS], but there are some rules that apply only to the children of Lady Fatimah [AS] and Imam Ali [AS].
There is another version of maybe the same hadith because it is in Sahih Muslim and is again narrated by Zaid ibn Arqam. According to this version in response to the question of whether the wives of the Prophet [SAW] were included among the Ahl al-bait [AS] or not, Zaid said, ‘No, I swear by God a wife lives with her husband for a period of time and then she may get divorced and return to her own father and family. The household of the Prophet [SAW] are those who are only from the same roots and origin as the Prophet [SAW], and those who are prohibited to take charity.’ This could be another version from the same event.
Another Hadith is from the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrates from Anas ibn Malik that:-
‘When the verse 33 of chapter 33 (Ayah al-tathir) was revealed for six months when the Prophet [SAW] was going for the prayer of Fajr he stopped near the house of Lady Fatimah and Imam Ali [AS] and was saying, ‘The prayer, O Ahl al-bait [AS].’ And then saying, ‘‘….Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.’ (33:33).
The Prophet [SAW] repeated this for six months to establish in the minds of the people that these are the Ahl al-bait [AS]. If you consider the hadith thaqalain and hadith safinah – then you will realise that the Ahl al-bait [AS] cannot be all the cousins of the Prophet [SAW] and all the uncles of the Prophet [AS] and aunts of the Prophet [SAW]. These can only be those who are very high in their knowledge and who are infallible. The only people that are known to be claimed to be infallible are Ali [AS], Fatimah [AS], Hasan [AS] and Husain [AS].
Edited by NormaL_UseR, 15 January 2007 - 07:23 AM.
Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:58 AM
-Who are the Ahl al-bait [AS] – a look at hadith
-Different terms used to describe the Ahl al-bait [AS] e.g. itrah and Qurba
-Discouragement for recording and transmitting hadith during the life of the Prophet [SAW] and afterwards by the three caliphs.
-Refutations of the justifications given for banning and discouraging the recording and transmitting of hadith.
-A brief look at ilm al-hadith
Introduction, who are the Ahl al-bait [AS]?
All Muslims agree that there are people who are relatives of the Prophet [SAW] who are excluded from the Ahl al-bait [AS] like kuffar. But there are disagreements about those who are left under the title. The Shia agree that the Ahl al-bait [AS] because of their high requirements of being next to the Quran, that they must be infallible, that this group is a very select group and does not include all the relatives of the Prophet [SAW]. The Prophet [SAW] himself has clarified who they are in many hadith. There is a hadith in Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal who is the Imam of the Hanbali school of law. He narrates from Umar ibn Maimun who said:-
‘ We were sitting with ibn Abbas (cousin of the Prophet [SAW] and Imam Ali [AS], the son of Abbas the uncle of the Prophet [SAW], he was very knowledgeable and respected for all Muslims, because of his knowledge – he is one of the people who has commentaries on the Quran, his commentaries have been published in two volumes. He was a student of Imam Ali and the Prophet [SAW]) a group of nine people came, these people told Ibn Abbas that, “there is something private, confidential that we want to discuss – either you tell these people to leave so that only you and us remain or you come with us and we will go somewhere and discuss”. Ibn Abbas went with them, and after a while he came back and was very angry because of the bad things that he had heard from those nine about Imam Ali [AS]. '
This narrator says that Ibn Abbas after his return started to describe the position of Imam Ali [AS] in the view of the Prophet [SAW]. Ibn Abbas mentioned the conquest of Khaibar by Ali [AS], the announcement of the revelation of Surah Taubah to the polytheists by Imam Ali. Then he mentioned another event in which the Prophet [SAW] addressed his cousins and asked, ‘Who among you is prepared to believe in me and follow me in this universe and the hereafter. All the cousins of the Prophet [SAW] refused to give a positive response, there was only one positive answer and that was from Imam Ali. This question was repeated once more in the same session and again no-one said yes accept Imam Ali [AS]. And for the third time the Prophet [SAW] asked them, ‘Who is prepared to follow me, to believe in me’, and again Imam Ali [AS] gave the only positive response. Finally the Prophet [SAW] said addressing Imam Ali [AS] that, ‘You are my wali (guardian, successor) in this world and the hereafter.’ Then Ibn Abbas said that Imam Ali [AS] was the first person to embrace Islam.’
He mentioned all these merits of Imam Ali [AS] because he was very angry about those bad things that he had heard about Imam Ali [AS]. The other event that Ibn Abbas mentions is:-
‘The Prophet [SAW] once took his cloak and covered with it Fatimah [AS], Ali [AS], Hasan [AS], and Husain [AS] and recited the verse:-
‘…Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.’ (33:33)
In this hadith which is narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal you again see that Ibn Abbas mentions that this verse and the title of Ahl al-bait [AS] is only relevant for Lady Fatimah [AS], Imam Ali [AS], Imam Hasan [AS] and Imam Husain [AS]. There is a hadith from Sunan Tirmidi (one of the six sihah). He narrates from a person called Umar ibn abi Salama, who was a stepson of the Prophet [SAW], Umm Salama who was the wife of the Prophet [SAW], she had a son from her previous husband Abi Salama. This person reports from his mother Umm Salama:-
‘The Prophet [SAW] asked Ali [AS], Fatimah [AS], Hasan [AS] and Husain [AS] to go under his cloak and then he said, ‘O God these are my household, remove all uncleanliness from them, and purify them a thorough purification (this was a prayer, request from the Prophet [SAW]. Then God revealed the verse 33:33 to the Prophet [SAW] (So it seems that the Prophet [SAW] first prayed, and was answered in his prayer, and his request was granted). Umm Salama said, ‘I was there and I asked the Prophet [SAW], ‘Am I one of you household?’, The Prophet [SAW] said, ‘You have your own place, but, you are not Ahl al-bait [AS].’
Umm Salama was a very pious lady, but she was not included as one of the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal also narrates this in his Musnad. It is very clear who the Ahl al-bait [AS] are. Sometimes instead of the term Ahl al-bait [AS] some other terms are used for example itrah, Qurba these are the same. For example Zamakhshari who has a well known commentary of the Quran called al-Kashshaf, he is a Sunni scholar, he says that:-
‘When the verse 23 of chapter 42 was revealed (That is of which Allah gives the good news to His servants, (to) those who believe and do good deeds. Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives; and whoever earns good, We give him more of good therein; surely Allah is Forgiving, Grateful.) The Prophet [SAW] was asked who it means by Qurba (near relatives), the Prophet [SAW] replied Ali [AS], Fatimah [AS] and their two sons’
Even if Qurba is mentioned it means the same people but in the important hadith, like hadith thaqalain, Ahl al-bait [AS] is mentioned. The result is all Muslims must feel compelled to refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS] to be able to understand Islam as it is. Islam as it was revealed to the Prophet [SAW], and as it was preached by the Prophet [SAW], and as it was left for them by the Prophet [SAW]. This is something that the Shia right from the very beginning were doing. Shi’ism it is believed was started by the Prophet [SAW] himself, and was not something created or founded after the Prophet [SAW]. The Prophet [SAW] himself asked people to love the Ahl al-bait [AS], and to believe that these are the people who will be the people who take over the responsibility of representing Islam after him. There are many hadith in which the Prophet [SAW] himself used the term Shia for the follower of Ali [AS] and sometimes instead of saying ‘your Shia’ the Prophet [SAW] said, ‘our Shia’. Because whoever believes in Imam Ali [AS] it is because the Prophet [SAW] asked them to believe in Imam Ali [AS], as his successor. But unfortunately right from the very beginning there was another party. First of all they had some problems with the Sunnah of the Prophet [SAW]. And despite the fact that the Quran asks all Muslims to refer to the Prophet [SAW] for understanding Islam, for judging about their problems, the Quran says:-
‘…and whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in retributing (evil)’ (59:7)
A look at the discouragement and banning the registering and narrating of hadith during and after the life of the Prophet [SAW]
Unfortunately even in the life of the Prophet [SAW] there were cases in which some people refused to follow the Prophet [SAW]. Even during the life of the Prophet [SAW] some people asked companions of the Prophet [SAW] not to register hadith. There was a person at the time of the Prophet Muhammad [SAW] called Abdullah ibn Amr ibn As, according to Sunni sources, this person says:-
‘I used to write down whatever I heard from the Prophet [SAW], but then the Quraish prohibited me from doing so.’
The Quraish were the people of Makkah who believed in the Prophet [SAW] – when using the term Quraish he was not referring to Kuffar, because he i.e. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn As, would not have listened to Kuffar. What was their argument:-
‘The Prophet [SAW] is a human being who speaks when he is angry and when he is happy. Abdullah said, ‘I stopped writing hadith until I spoke to the Prophet [SAW] and I told the Prophet [SAW] what happened.’ (It is very strange that this being the final Prophet [SAW] of Allah (SWT) and people who are very close and living with him, ask each other not to write down his hadith). The Prophet [SAW] said, ‘Do write! I swear by Him Who has my life in His Hands that nothing other than the truth has even come out of it (he pointed to his mouth).’
This can be found in the Sunan Darimi, Sunan Abu Dawud. There are several hadith from the Prophet [SAW] indicating the necessity of registering his hadith and reporting to the people who are not present. It was not just in the last day of the life of the Prophet [SAW] or the last period that some people said that, we do not need you advise, ‘The Book of Allah (SWT) is enough for us.’ It has its roots from before. When the Prophet [SAW] passed away according to Sunni sources the Caliphs banned narrating and registering the hadith of the Prophet [SAW]. For example in a very famous book called Tadhkirah al-huffaz which is by Dhahabi a Sunni Scholar. He reports that Abu Bakr gathered the people of Madinah and said:-
'O companions of the Prophet [SAW], you report something from the Prophet [SAW] although there is no agreement among you. It is better therefore not to narrate the traditions of the Prophet [SAW] any more. And if someone asks you about the views of the Prophet [SAW] in respect of some matters, simply reply that we have the book of Allah (SWT), and it is sufficient. Whatever is permitted in the Quran it is allowed, and whatever is prohibited in the Quran is forbidden. Do not go any further, do not say anything about the views of the Prophet [SAW] and his traditions.’
The justification for banning hadith was the people disagreed about the hadith, is it a reasonable justification, that just because of some disagreement that people should not say anything about his sayings, his Sunnah? If this is the case why are the Sunni called the People of Sunnah, they must be the people of the Book. If just a few days after the death of the Prophet [SAW] they could not agree about hadith of the Prophet [SAW] so how can they say that all companions of the Prophet [SAW] are hujjah. It is quite contradictory, on one side it is said that all companions are hujjah and on the other side it is said that because of all the disagreement between people about the hadith of the Prophet [SAW] that they should not be narrated.
During the time of the Second Caliph, more severe decisions were made about not narrating hadith. For example, there was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad [SAW], called Quraza ibn Ka’b, it is said that:-
‘Umar ibn Khattab the second Caliph sent a group of Ansar to Kufa, and asked Quraza ibn Ka’b to accompany them. The Caliph himself escorted this delegation to a place outside the city called Sira’ah. Then the caliph asked them, ‘Do you know why I have escorted you here?’, ‘Quraza replied, ‘Because you wanted to show your respect for Ansar.’, the second caliph said, ‘Yes, but there is something more. You are going to a people whose tongue moves with the Quran like date trees (date trees sway in the wind i.e. therefore these people are busy with reciting the Quran). When you reach there people will say, ‘The companions of Muhammad [SAW] have come, the companions of Muhammad [SAW] have come.’ So they will ask you to narrate hadith, beware! Do not hinder them with hadith of the Prophet [SAW]. I am your partner (i.e. I support you with this).’
It was so important to the caliph that he escorted those people to that distance and said, people will naturally come to you and ask you to narrate hadith, but never narrate any hadith for them. There is an argument that some people may use here – people may get busy with hadith and forget Quran. The narrator says:-
‘When we arrived in Kufa as the caliph predicted, all the people came to welcome us and asked us to narrate hadith. But Quraza says I did not mention any hadith for them.’
How is this possible that the companions of the Prophet [SAW] go to a place where people did not have the privilege to meet the Prophet [SAW] and they ask you to narrate hadith and they do not narrate even a single hadith? Does this comply with the teachings of the Quran, that introduces the Prophet [SAW] as someone who teaches the Quran, someone who gives them commands and he must be fully obeyed? This means that, we should say that we do not need the Sunnah of the Prophet [SAW], if you do not narrate hadith then how can people understand the Sunnah of the Prophet [SAW], if you just say that Quran is sufficient then you do not need the Sunnah. The above tradition is narrated in Sunan Darimi - Kitab al-Muqaddimah also Sunan ibn Majah, in two sihah.
There are other cases in the major books of Sunni hadith, all confirming the same fact that the Caliphs were not happy with narrating hadith. There is a person called Sha’bi this person says:-
‘I travelled with Abdullah ibn Umar (son of the second Caliph) and for one whole year we were travelling together, I did not hear any tradition of the Prophet [SAW] from him.’
Narrated in Sunan Darimi and in Sunan ibn Majah. Darimi narrates that:-
‘This person continued his companionship with Abdullah ibn Umar for two and a half years, and that in two and a half years he just heard one hadith narrated from him.’
Darimi also narrates from Sa’d ibn Yazid that:-
‘I was with Sa’d ibn abi Waqqas, on his journey to Makkah, during his stay in Makkah and on his return to Madinah. I did not hear a single hadith from him.’
Dahabi in Tadhkirah al-Hufaz says that:-
‘Three great companions of the Prophet [SAW] were imprisoned during the time of the Second Caliph for narrating hadith, one of them was ibn Mas’ud (One of the scribes of the Quran, he was tortured by the pagans when he embraced Islam, he was a very respected companion of the Prophet [SAW])’
Then during the time of the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan. He again asked people not to mention hadith of the Prophet [SAW] but in a political way. He said, ‘I do not allow you to narrate any hadith which was not narrated during the time of Abu Bakr and Umar. (because those two banned narrating hadith, the result was that no-one could narrate hadith).’ Therefore the result was the same.
Refutation of arguments calling for the discouragement and banning of recording and transmitting hadith
There have been different arguments for the justification for this position. One is that because the Quran is very important and previous nations could not preserve their heavenly book, these people were afraid that if people narrate hadith, they may forget Quran, and then the Quran would have the same fate that other books had – it would be forgotten or distorted. The Shia say that this is not acceptable, it is not impossible to attend to both the Quran and the Sunnah, the Quran is not a big book i.e. ten volumes long or twenty volumes. And the Muslims had a very good memory at that time, in the memorisation of the Quran, there were many huffaz of the Quran at that time – even sometimes during a war tens of memorisers of the Quran were martyred. It doesn’t mean that they were endangered, in fact there were so many memorisers of the Quran that even in a single event – many memorisers took part and some of them were martyred. It is not difficult to attend to the Quran and Sunnah, and it is necessary to attend to both, this is what the Quran itself says – that you must refer to the Prophet [SAW]. And the Prophet [SAW] said that after him you must refer to Ahl al-bait [AS] and he himself asks that his hadith must be narrated to those people who have not been able to listen to him.
The other reason that some people have said not to narrate hadith is that they were afraid that people may fabricate hadith, and if they fabricate hadith then this creates problems and difficulties – to prevent people from doing this they banned all activities about hadith – i.e. writing, narrating and discussing. If this is the case then people should also have been banned from reading the Quran because they could make mistakes there were after all many different readings (qira’a) of the Quran. Why should there not have been a methodology of studying hadith, like the Shia – right from the beginning the Shia were narrating hadith. There were collections of Shia hadith from early Islam. There were not problems with the Shia about the continuity of hadith, what is done is that no hadith is taken for granted – it must be studied, one by one. Even Usul al-Kafi or Fur’u al-Kafi (by Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulaini, from the city of Ra’i), or Tahdhib al-Ahkam, or Ibtisar (both written by Shaikh Tusi), or Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih (by Shaikh Saduq) which are four major hadith sources for the Shia are not all taken as authentic – it is only the Quran which is regarded as all authentic. From the first to the last all the chains of narrators are studied for every single hadith. Hadith can be narrated, recorded and preserved – but there must be a methodology for authenticating real hadith from fabricated hadith.
Unfortunately what happened in part of the Islamic world, narrating hadith was banned, and then there were people who were fabricating hadith – and these people were allowed to do so. Like Ka’b al-Ahbar who was a Jew and said that he embraced Islam. At the time when people were banned from narrating hadith, this person every Friday before the Khutbah was given time to narrate hadith, and there were others like this – and they used to fabricate hadith. These people did not live with the Prophet [SAW] and their background was not clear.
It is believed that the Prophet [SAW] must be referred to, and because of his command – we must refer to the Ahl al-bait [AS], we always need to have both – Quran and an interpreter, either the Prophet [SAW] or the Imams [AS] of the Ahl al-bait [AS]. The Sunnah of the Prophet [SAW] should be reffered to and this is part of our faith to refer to what the Prophet [SAW] said, or did, or approved, and to register and narrate it to other people. But unfortunately there was another movement and that was to ban narrating hadith in the life of the Prophet [SAW], and then this ban was exercised more after the lifetime of the Prophet [SAW], at the same time some other people were allowed to narrate hadith, and along with that paradoxically all companions of the Prophet [SAW] were given a sort of reliability, and trust. Because they did not have answers to questions, it was said that all companions of the Prophet [SAW] are hujjah, and these are contradictory positions. You cannot say that the hadith of the Prophet [SAW] are unreliable and the words of the companions are reliable.
A brief look at Ilm al-hadith
The four books of hadith were taken from four hundred ‘principles’ as they are called, or ‘asl’, original collections of hadith. Those asl were small or maybe large collections of hadith without classification. The great Ulama, Muhadithin, had access to those four hundred books of hadith, and they prepared their books of hadith with the classification of the hadith, for example ‘The book of intelligence and ignorance [aql wa jahl] ‘the book of faith and disbelief [Iman wa Kufr] ‘The book of proof [Hujjah]’. Because these people lived close to the time of the Imams so they had all those books available.
What is important for the Shia is that when for example Kafi is opened – there are three tasks to perform. To make sure that the Kafi that is present today is the same Kafi that was written by Shaikh Kulaini. The Ulama generation after generation were reciting these books of hadith for their students, or their students were reciting and they were listening and approving – this is the system of ijazah (authorization for narrating hadith). Now the books of hadith can be traced back upto to the time of the author. For example Imam Khumaini at the beginning of his book ‘Fourty Hadith’, he mentions the names of his masters of hadith, so you can trace back from the time of Imam Khumaini upto the time of Kulaini.
After you know that the copy of al-Kafi can be traced back to the author, you make sure that the first person in the chain of narrators was someone that KulainI received hadith from him directly or if not, through a chain that is known. For example from “A” from “B” from “C” from Imam [AS]. Therefore we check to see whether “A” who narrated to Kulaini could have actually narrated to Kulaini (e.g. did they live in the same era). If we know according to the data that is to hand that Kulaini was a student for example of “A” or he had access to him, we accept the hadith. Otherwise we need a chain linking “A” to Kulaini and if this cannot be found then the hadith is not accepted. After that we check all those people mentioned by Kulaini i.e. the people in the chain from “B” to the Imam [AS]. This is the task of the Ulema and Maraji. After the hadith is established as authentic the hadith has to be studied in the light of other hadith and the Quran, and other teachings e.t.c.
Edited by NormaL_UseR, 15 January 2007 - 07:24 AM.
Posted 15 January 2007 - 07:20 AM
-A further look at banning and narrating hadith and the results that ensued
-A look at individuals who were allowed to narrate hadith but had a dubious history
-A look at arguments used to rationalise the ban on narrating hadith, and some counter arguments.
A further look at banning of narrating hadith during and after the time of the three Caliphs
During the time of the three caliphs there was a ban on narrating hadith and writing hadith down. The main position which was taken by the third caliph was to ban whichever hadith which was not narrated during the time of the first two caliphs. People were not allowed to narrate hadith during the times of the first two caliphs – therefore the position was the same. Darimi in his Sunan reported that once:-
‘Abu Dhar was sitting next to the middle jamarah, jamarah al-wusta (i.e. where stone throwing takes place in Hajj), and a group of people had gathered around him (because they knew he was close to the Prophet [SAW] and was one of the companions of the Prophet [SAW] – this was during the time of Uthman). People were enquiring with him about Islamic matters, someone came and stood next to Abu Dhar (who was sitting) and told him, ‘Aren’t you prohibited to make statements about Islam.’ Abu Dhar raised his head and looked at that person and said, ‘Are you acting as a policeman. If you put a sword on the back my neck, If I only have a few moments to finish a hadith , I will finish that hadith’
This is the way that, the caliphs were trying to stop great companions of the Prophet [SAW] from narrating hadith. Not everyone was like Abu Dhar – many people got frightened, many people were optimistic about these policies and listened to them. In tabaqat by ibn Sa’d it is narrated that:-
‘Once a person went to Damascus (when Abu Dhar was in exile in Damascus). He sat next to Abu Dhar and he didn’t know who he was, he asked, ‘Who are you?’, he replied, ‘I am Abu Dhar’. Abu Dhar asked, ‘And who are you?’ he replied, ‘I am Ahnaf ibn Qais’. Then Abu Dhar said, ‘Please go and stand somewhere else so that you will not be harmed and hurt.’ Ahnaf said, ‘why?’, Abu Dhar replied, ‘Because Muawiyah has asked people not to sit with me.’
This was the policy during the time of the Third Caliph. During the time of Imam Ali [AS] there was no ban, and people were encourage to record and transmit hadith. During the time of Muawiyah again, he was very strict about narrating hadith of the Prophet [SAW], one of the things which he once said on the pulpit in Damascus was exactly this:-
‘People! Do refrain from hadith of the Prophet [SAW]. Except those hadith which were mentioned in the time of Umar. Because Umar was making people fear Allah (SWT).’
The argument is that because Umar was frightening people, no-one therefore dared to tell fabricated hadith – this is the justification of Muawiyah. Umar himself had of course asked people not to narrate hadith. A Sunni historian Tabari, who has a famous work called ‘Tarikh Ummami wa Muluk’ he says, Muawiyah in the year 41 AH (when Imam ‘Ali [AS] was caliph, Muawiyah was still in Damascus, he was the governor there. And Imam Ali [AS] wanted to dismiss him). He appointed a person called Mughairah ibn Shu’bah (A well known Quraishi), as his governor for Kufa (this is after the martyrdom of Imam Ali [AS]) he said to Mughairah,
‘I would like to advise you about something, but because I know you are very clever and insightful I don’t see any need to give you that advise. Except one advise, you must not lose any chance to say something against Ali [AS], you must ask Allah’s (SWT) forgiveness and mercy for Uthman. Also you must try to say bad things about the friends of Ali [AS] and you must distance yourself from them. You must be very kind to the followers of Uthman and bring them closer to yourself.’
Mughairah said, ‘Do not worry on this matter, what every you say I will fulfil.’
This is the way that these people (especially Muawiyah) were trying to stop people narrating the merits of Imam Ali [AS]. But they couldn’t say this to the general public but only to people close to them, to their governors and agents. But in public what they said was that no-one should narrate hadith, and they forwarded other arguments about that. But the main reason that Muawiyah had was to make sure that no hadith about the merits of Imam Ali [AS] should be narrated. At the same time, they were allowing people who were close to them to narrate hadith. This demonstrates the truth of what was mentioned, it was only to stop hadith about Imam Ali [AS] being narrated otherwise all people would be encouraged to narrate hadith
Tamim al-Dari and Ka’b Ahbar were allowed to narrate hadith
Syed Askari in his book ‘Ma’alim al-madrasatain’ gives references about a few people, that had a very dark history, but these people were allowed to narrate hadith, and even the Caliphs themselves were giving them a platform to do so. At the same time as they were banning people like Abu Dhar from narrating hadith, and imprisoning people like ibn Mas’ud they were giving a platform to these people. One of these people was called Tamim al-Dari. This person was a Christian and one of the Christian scholars. And he was also a monk in Palestine. After the war of Tabuk he entered Madinah. He had committed a theft along with someone else. They changed the will of a person, and that person’s valuables were taken away from him, after death. At first the Prophet [SAW] called them and tried them, but they told lies, and sweared that they did not do anything, So the Prophet [SAW] had to issue his decree according to the evidence. Later those valuable things were found, and it was proved that they were guilty. Because they were Christians, the only way to be exempted from punishment was to embrace Islam. (Islam removes all the uncleanliness of the past). Therefore in order to be exempted, he embraced Islam. He lived in Madinah after the death of the Prophet [SAW], during the time of Abu Bakr and Umar. Umar respected him a lot. He said that Tamim al-Dari, ‘Was the best person of Madinah.’
According to the merits of people, they were given different amounts of money from the state funds. For example the people of Makkah and Madinah who participated in the Battle of Badr, they had a special portion of money give from the treasury, people who embraced Islam later were given a smaller amount. Imam Ali [AS], was not happy with this system. The Second Caliph, put the name of Tamim person in the list of those who had participated in the Battle of Badr. The Ashab of Badr were very respected, because they participated in a very crucial battle in the history of Islam. Those people were very brave and they were from amongst the earlier Muslims. When the Second Caliph started the Jama’ah prayer for nafilah in Ramadan (salah tarawi) he appointed two Imams to lead the prayer and Tamim was one of them.
After Uthman was killed Tamim went to Damascus, he did not stay in Madinah in the time of Imam Ali [AS] he went to live with Muawiyah, and he died later. What happened was that every morning he was given a platform before the Friday prayer to talk to people. Before the Friday prayer there would be a speaker, then there would be the Khutbah, the chance was used because there were many people there to talk to. The Second Caliph invited this person Tamim al-Dari to talk to people and narrate hadith for them, before the Friday sermon.
The other person was Ka’b Ahbar he was a Jew, and a Jewish scholar. He lived in Yemen. He went to Madinah, and during the time of the Second Caliph declared his conversion to Islam. Then he went to Damascus, when he saw that problems were starting during the time of Uthman, and he lived there under the protection of Muawiyah, it is said that Umar, Uthman and Muawiyah were asking him about resurrection, about commentaries of the Quran – whenever they had questions he was one of the first people that they asked about Islam i.e. A Jewish Scholar who just embraced Islam in the time of the Second Caliph. Unfortunately, we see that many hadith are narrated from this person – he never lived with the Prophet [SAW] or saw the Prophet [SAW], he just came afterwards and embraced Islam, but people like Anas ibn Malik, like Abu Huraira – they narrate hadith from him, and they felt no problem with this.
The results of banning of narrating hadith
Unfortunately the result of all these actions was that the genuine hadith of the Prophet [SAW] were not narrated and recorded except by a few people who were very determined to keep hadith, and protect hadith – the followers of Imam Ali [AS] and some others. By at large, Islamic society did not pay attention to hadith. This went on until the time of Umar ibn abd al-Azīz, who was a relatively good caliph he was Umawwid (from the Umayyad dynasty) but he was fair. He ruled 99 AH till 101 AH. He stopped the cursing of Imam Ali [AS]. Upto his time it was the fashion to curse Imam Ali [AS] especially in the Friday prayers – this of course was started in the time of Muawiyah. He also gave back Fadak to the Ahl al-bait [AS]. He also encouraged people to register the hadith of the Prophet [SAW]. He said:-
‘I am afraid that if we don’t narrate hadith, the hadith of the Prophet [SAW] will be lost.’
He wrote to the people of Madinah:-
‘Please be very careful about the hadith of the Prophet [SAW], I am afraid that soon all the hadith may disappear and the people who know hadith may disappear.’
But this was in the year 99 AH, 89 years after the death of the Prophet [SAW]. After 89 years, people began registering hadith, this is why now some orientalists question Islamic hadith. They say that there is a gap in hadith, and that they hadith are not connected to the Prophet [SAW]. They want to say that the hadith are useless and baseless. This is not true, especially about Shia hadith, because all the connection are present. For Sunni hadith to some extent this is true. When Umar ibn abd al-Aziz issued this command, he couldn’t sort out what had been the habit for 89 years in one day, or month, it took a while. The major Sunni collections of hadith appeared in the time of the Abbasids, not Umayyads. Therefore sadly, genuine hadith were not narrated, and people were able to fabricate hadith. later when hadith were being collected, all accesible hadith had to be collected, and it was said that whatever was in the six books is authentic, sahih. People who were not narrating hadith for generation put all their hadith in a few volumes and said that it was all authentic, this is also contradictory.
Arguments used to rationalise the ban on narrating hadith and their refutation
How did these people try to rationalise what they had done? One way is to say that the book of Allah (SWT) is sufficient. This is of course not acceptable. The Quran itself says that people should refer to the Prophet [SAW] and the Prophet [SAW] will teach them the Quran:-
"Our Lord! send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (2:129)
In another verse the Quran says:-
‘With clear arguments and scriptures; and We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply they may reflect.’ (16:44)
Therefore someone is needed to clarify and interpret the Quran. The second argument was that, ‘We are afraid that the Quran may get forgotten.’ Soon after the time of the Prophet [SAW] many copies of the Quran were in written format, were written down. Therefore hard copies of the Quran were available. As well as that there were many people who had memorised the Quran. Also the Quran itself was not a big volume. And the traditions of the Prophet [SAW] always urged people to reflect on the Quran and to think about the Quran, and to understand it. You cannot say therefore that if people had narrated hadith this would have lead to a disappearance or alteration of the Quran.
Another argument that can be found is that, the Prophet [SAW] himself may have banned narrating hadith i.e. there were hadith in which the Prophet [SAW] himself said not to mention his hadith. For example in Sahih Muslim, Sunan Darimi, and Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal a hadith is narrated from the Prophet [SAW] that he said:-
‘Do not write anything from me. Whoever has written anything from me other than the Quran must remove it and must clean it (wipe it out).’
In another hadith it is said:-
‘People asked the Prophet [SAW] for permission to write hadith and the Prophet [SAW] did not give them permission.’
In another hadith it is said:-
‘The Prophet [SAW] said not to write any hadith from him’
There is a hadith from Abu Huraira he says:-
‘We were sitting writing down whatever we heard from the Prophet [SAW]. The Prophet [SAW] came and saw that we were writing something. The Prophet [SAW] asked us, ‘What are you writing down?’ He replied, ‘Whatever we hear from you we are writing down.’ The Prophet [SAW] said, ‘Do you want to make a book next to the Book of God? Only write the book of Allah (SWT) and do not write any hadith from me.’
So it is said that there is a series of hadith in which the Prophet [SAW] prohibited narrating hadith. There is also a supplementary set of hadith in which the Prophet [SAW] prayed against and cursed those people who fabricated hadith and attributed it to him. For example, Uthman ibn Affan, according to the Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal; Zubair ibn Awwam according to Sahih Bukhari and Munsad Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Anas ibn Malik according to Bukhari and Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal – these people, they say:-
‘We did not narrate any hadith from the Prophet [SAW] because we had heard from the Prophet [SAW] the following hadith:-
‘Whoever deliberately attributes to me something that I have not said will be seated in hell.’
The argument is strange because why would they have to worry about fabricating hadith? There is therefore one set of hadith saying that no-one should write anything other than the Quran, and a supplementary set in which the Prophet [SAW] prayed against, cursed those people who deliberately fabricated hadith. The answer to all these is that first of all, there are many hadith from the Prophet [SAW], indicating the necessity of writing hadith. For example as mentioned before, in which the Prophet [SAW] tells Abdullah ibn Amr ibn As:-
‘Do write! Nothing comes out of this except the truth (points to his mouth)’
There are many hadith like that, for example:-
In Sahih Bukhari – in Kitab al-iilm, Kitab al-Hajj and Kitab al-Maghazi and also in three other places in Sahih Bukhari, there is the following hadith from Prophet Muhammad [SAW]:-
‘The one present has to relate to the one absent, because there maybe someone absent who can understand better than someone present.’
Therefore what the Prophet [SAW] is saying is to relate his hadith to those who are not present, because there maybe people amongst them who can better understand hadith. In Sahih Muslim, Sunan ibn Majah, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Sunan Darimi there are hadith from the Prophet [SAW] indicating the necessity of narrating hadith and also writing hadith down. How can you therefore put the hadith that say do not write and narrate hadith with the hadith which way write and narrate hadith? It is compatible with ‘aql (intellect) that when a Prophet comes you should narrate his Sunnah. What must be done when there are two sets of contradictory hadith? There are two solutions, one solution is that you go with the set of hadith narrated by all Muslims and which complies with aql and Quran:-
‘…and whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in retributing (evil):’ (59:7)
The other way is that, it can be said that both sets of hadith are kept – the way that they are put together is in the following way :–
-it was an obligation to narrate hadith
-there was a real fear that people will fabricate hadith, this is why the Prophet [SAW] warned those people who deliberately fabricated hadith
-a group of people who the Prophet [SAW] did not trust, he asked them not to narrate hadith.
There was a group of people for whom the Prophet [SAW] was very worried about what they would do, and warned them clearly, and asked them not to narrate anything. This is the way in which all these hadith can be put together.
Posted 15 January 2007 - 08:06 AM
-The importance of spirituality
-The importance of knowing one’s self
-Some steps that can be taken towards a spiritual journey
The importance of spirituality
There is no religion without spirituality, all religions put emphasis on spirituality. To the extent that some people think that religion is nothing other than spirituality, and they try to reduce Islam or Christianity to spirituality. It is very difficult to reduce Judaism to spirituality, but Islam and Christianity, some people have tried to reduce them to spirituality. It is believed that spirituality is only one aspect of religion. And religion is a plan or program for all aspects of our life, our economical life, family life, political life – all must be oriented according to our religion. But no doubt spirituality is a very important part of Islam. Islamic spirituality is to be witnessed and experienced in all other aspects of Islam. Even if you are conducting a business you must keep with yourself, your spirituality, if you are travelling – you must have your spirituality, if you are driving, if you are working in a surgery as a Doctor – you must always have your spirituality. If a couple is married – they must keep their spirituality, even if you go to the washroom – you should still remember God.
The gate to this is to look after our own soul. To know our self and to know how we can improve our self. There is a poem attributed to Imam Ali [AS], it is not known exactly whether it is composed by Imam Ali [AS] or not, some people say that it was another person called Ali, but whether it is or not – the content of this poem is acceptable according to Islamic teachings:-
‘Do you think you are a small mass (thing or body) while the greatest world is duelling inside you.’
The spiritual world is inside you – not inside your body, but inside your spirit. The poem goes on:-
‘Whatever illness you have it is because of your self, the cure also is from yourself.’
If you suffer from a bad quality, the key is in your hands. You can solve the problem if you are determined. The disease comes from your self and the cure comes from your self.
The main entrance to the spiritual world is to look after your self. There are many hadith about this. There is a well known hadith from the Prophet [SAW]. Many Ulema have reported this hadith, for example, Majlisi in his Bihar al-Anwar:-
‘Whoever has known his self (his soul) has known his Lord.’
If someone really knows the gift the spirit, automatically he realises that it is Allah (SWT) who has given us this gift. Allah (SWT) is there and He is our creator, and He is kind, He is wise, He is omnipotent – all these things can be understood when we understand the greatness of the human spirit. There is a hadith from Imam Ali [AS], in which Imam [AS] says:-
‘I am very surprised to see that someone loses his belongings and looks everywhere to find it but people have lost them selves but they do not look for their own selves.’
A Quranic verse that can be mentioned in this regard, Allah (SWT) says:-
‘And be not like those who forsook Allah, so He made them forsake their own souls: these it is that are the transgressors.’ (59:19)
In the modern world, the problem is not necessarily that people have forgotten God, the problem is that people have forgotten them selves. If we know our selves, then we can find God. But if we forget our own selves, if we do not appreciate the great gift of humanity then people can go astray, and they will commit lots of evil acts. People no longer appreciate the value of humanity. They treat humanity as a sort of animal. Allamah Tabataba’i recited the verse mentioned before often. He had the idea that this verse and the hadith of the Prophet [SAW] both refer to the same fact but from two different angles, two opposite angles. The hadith says, whoever knows him self, knows his Lord.’ The knowledge of self leads to the knowledge of God. Quran looks at this fact from another angle, if you forget God you forget your self, if you had known your self you would never have forgotten God.
It is very important for us to know our selves and the capacity that we have. Heaven is just the minimum, there is a hadith which is frequently recited by Ayatullah Jawwadi Amuli, he stresses on this hadith. It says:-
‘Be aware that the price of your bodies is heaven.’
This is the price of your body, not the price of your spirit. If you act according to fiqh, according to Islamic rulings – so you will go to heaven. But this is just the minimum. We can be a very close servant of Allah (SWT), and we can reach near to him to the extent that there will be nothing between us and Him, there will be no obstacle. No being acting as a medium, directly we can talk to Him, and understand what he expects from us.
Steps in a spiritual journey
We can say that the whole point in spirituality, or in a spiritual journey can be divided into the following
1) the first step is to attend to our selves, to get rid of negligence.
Before purifying your self, and knowing your self – you must have attention
to the self. We are nowadays so busy and preoccupied with modern life i.e. phone calls, media, internet, traffic e.t.c. so it is very easy to lose our attention and concentration. Sometimes from the time of waking to sleeping, there maybe no time to have a private moment for reflection – to think about your self and your life. The first thing that is needed is attention. This is what our mystics say, that the first step is ‘yaqzi’ – to awaken. We are asleep, not physically but spiritually. There are two ways for this to happen is for us to awaken. One way is to die – when we die we come awake:-
‘All people are asleep, when they die they become awake.’
But it is too late to awaken when we die. We must have an early death. A voluntary death before our physical death. You can die before you die. You should die before you die. We have this in hadith aswell:-
‘Die before you die.’
This hadith is mentioned by Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar. What does this mean, if we reflect on the concept of death, what is the concept of death? The death is a moment in which you lose all your dependence on material things. You do not benefit any more from material things, they cannot help you, and you cannot ask them for help, this is death. If someone when he is alive can acquire this state of losing his/her dependence of material affairs, they just think about Allah (SWT) and trust Allah (SWT). Nothing can harm them, and nothing can benefit them much –because they have already gained the most. If you have gained the most, nothing can help you more than that. Imam Husain [AS] says:-
‘The one who has missed You what has he gained?’
He has gained nothing, if we lose Allah (SWT) we have nothing,
‘If someone has found Allah (SWT), he does not miss (or lose) anything.’
If you are in that state you have your death with you. You then have total awareness and attention. The first step is attention, awareness, to be awake, to be alert. But it does not mean that when you reach the second step you forget the first step. It is like a ladder, when you go to the second step this does not mean that you do not need the first step any more. You need all the steps.
2) Know your self
What we mean here is to know one’s reality first of all. What is a person’s
reality? Is it just the body, is it just colour, size and weight? Is it the information that is written in your passport or id card, or kept in databases of governments. This is not a person’s reality. Your reality is different. You must know your faculties. There is the ability of imagination, the ability of having rational thinking, there are many senses not known to us – we just know five senses. But there are many ways of understanding what we do not know about. For example dreams, they are indeed a gate to the spiritual world. It is not the case that whatever dream we have is reliable, but it is a gate to another world. It shows that there is something other than the material world. Many people have had the experience of having true dreams. Sometimes they see events that will happen in the future. No-one can explain these dreams by just using physical rules and laws or chemical laws. There is no dream without a message, even those dreams which for us are baseless and ridiculous – but someone is needed who can uncode the message which is coded. We can ourselves understand only those dreams which are very clear. Every dream has a message – spiritual masters ask their students to narrate their dreams, and then according to the dream which they narrate they can understand which state they are in, and what they need to be advised. We must know the different faculties that we have. The different potentialities that we have, we must know what benefits us and what harms us.
3) Take care of our selves
We have health care, we have physical care – but we still need spiritual
care. After you pay attention to your self and you know your self, now you must look after your self. As every food may have some influence on your body. Every act, every word, even those memories that come to our minds have effects upon our souls. We shouldn’t think that when we do a sin it has bad effects, and when we don’t do sins there is no bad effect. Everything has effects and if it is not a good effect then it is bad. Why? Because we are losing our power, our time, our sensitivity. If you do not invest – the moment that you have for spiritual journey, you have lost that time, so there is a bad effect. There is therefore no neutral effect, every event even if it is mubah, spiritually it is not neutral. Everything is either useful or harmful. It is very, very rare to have something that is totally neutral. Everything either makes your heart darker, or more enlightened.
If we commit a sin according to hadith, a dark and black spot appears in our heart. If we commit another sin, that black spot becomes bigger. It is like a second dark spot on our heart. And if we constantly commit sin then it becomes fully darkened and blackened. Sometimes instead of having a black heart, we can have a clouded heart (grey) , what does this mean? This is when we do not commit sin, but we commit something which is useless, we forget Allah (SWT). We become busy with our day to day affairs, then our heart becomes clouded. The Prophet Muhammad [SAW] said:-
‘My heart gets clouded (smoky).’
The Prophet [SAW] never committed any sins but he had to speak, and live with people, and to walk on the streets – this was a kind of cloud.
‘For this I asked forgiveness seventy times a day.’
Everyday the Prophet [SAW] asked forgiveness seventy times to get rid of this cloudiness. If the Prophet [SAW] is asking forgiveness seventy times, how many times should we be asking forgiveness to get rid of this cloud. We must take care of our selves. How can we take care of our selves? The next stage is divided into four:-
4) The first and most fundamental thing for our happiness is:-
- To have proper beliefs
Beliefs are more important that acts and even qualities. If you do not have
good beliefs then whatever you do may not lead to your happiness. If you do not believe in God, and then you do prayers and fasts then there is no use. If I do not believe in God and then I do charitable works, then there is no point. One must have proper beliefs. Of course, if you do good and you serve people, Allah (SWT) will give something in return – either in this world, or the hereafter, Allah (SWT) will reduce the punishment which you are deserved for. You must however believe in God. If someone does not believe in God, that person has not gone a single step in the spiritual journey, this person has gone backwards. Belief in Allah (SWT) and his religion, this religion at one time was Judaism, at another time it was Christianity, at another time it was the final message of God to humanity – Islam. The core of this religion is submission to Allah (SWT), submission to God at one time meant for example to be a follower of Prophet Ibrahim [AS], it once meant to be a follower of Musa, once a follower of Isa [AS], and once a follower of Muhammad [SAW], but what is more important is to be submissive. So even today there is a Christian, and he really think that Christianity is true, and he whole heartedly follows Christianity – he will have a chance to go to heaven. He submitted himself to God, and he did not have access to knowledge supposedly, he did not know what the truth was – but what cannot be forgetten, is if someone knows God and then submits himself or herself to God. It is important to know God and submit ourselves to God.
When we know God properly this means that we have a religion, revealed by God. When we want to submit ourselves to God, it means that we must act and live according to what he wills, what he expects from us. So we must observes Allah’s (SWT) rules and make our spiritual characteristics and qualities comply with the way that Allah (SWT) is pleased with.
- We should have proper beliefs
- We should have good spiritual qualities
- We should act according to Divine Law.
These are three important steps. Imam Khumaini in his book fourty hadith says that, there are different sorts of hell for people. The worst hell is the one that is caused by having no sound beliefs, then the hell that is caused by having bad qualities, and then the one that is caused by having bad acts. Beliefs/qualities/acts. The fourth step having is making sure that you have proper beliefs, good qualities and that you act according to Islamic Law then the spiritual journey goes on. And one goes through stages, and in each stage there are certain feelings and responsibilities and these are enumerated by our spiritual writers and masters. They disagree about the number of stages, some count upto fifty, some count more, some less. Maybe because some stages can be divided into sub-stages. All these stages mostly start after good beliefs/qualities/acts.
Question – How do we control our thoughts, which can affect us?
At the beginning we do not have any control of our memories, they come and go. But what is important is that when bad memories come to our mind we should pay no attention to them. Sometimes even if we try not to pay attention to them – we still kind of pay attention to them. Sometimes you must totally ignore them. Therefore if bad thoughts come, and you do not act according to them, and you do not think about them, and do not expand on them – gradually they will disappear. And the power of control of your memory gets stronger and stronger. The speaker says that he had the same question for Ayatullah Bahjat after prayer – Ayatullah rarely talked. After the prayer when he was going home – he asked, ‘How can I control my bad thoughts?’ He said, ‘If I tell you something will you listen?’ He said, ‘Insha Allah’, he said, ‘When bad memories come do not pay attention’. If we do not pay attention to them then gradually they will disappear.
Question – What are practical ways to strengthen our Iman?
This is the whole point to the discussion, there are degrees to our Iman. People in each level of Iman, have different responsibilities and there are different ways to upgrade themselves. If we are in a lower level of Iman, we should not burden our selves too much and do something beyond our capabilities. And if there is a way to go forward then I shouldn’t be pleased and satisfied with the current level that I have. I should always look forward to upgrading myself. The most important thing to increase our Iman is what was said, ‘To try and have a better understanding of our beliefs’ This never stops, you cannot say that I know my usul al-din and that is that. The more you know Allah (SWT) the better you can upgrade your Iman. Some people that know Allah (SWT) in a way that is totally different from which ordinary people know Him. There is hadith that even Salman al-Farsi and Abu Dhar’s knowledge of God was totally different:-
‘If Abu Dhar knew what was going on in the heart of Salman, he would have killed him.’
Abu Dhar would not have been able to tolerate that level of closeness to Allah (SWT), and would have maybe thought that this is kufr or shirk. Like what happened between Musa and Khidhr for example aswell. So people are at different levels and we should not be satisfied with the level at which we are at, and we should first increase our understanding of Islam, know Allah (SWT) better and look after our qualities. It is very bad to be a person who says that they believe in Islam and says prayers and at the same time is jealous, or at the same time suffers from despair or pessimism. We must make sure that we fully observe Islamic code of practise. This never stops or ends, it is something that goes on year by year, decade after decade. But you always go forward, you never stop – you can go forward.
Question – How can a person know Allah (SWT) constantly, because we sometimes sit for five minutes and then we forget? And we cannot go further than that.
We need to learn, what we learn we must think about and reflect on, so that we absorb it. If we just read, more and more books and we don’t absorb what we learn, and we may have a problem of having all of this in our mind and we do not fully understand it. We need to recite Quran, because the Quran is the best way to learn more about Allah (SWT), we need to read hadith, we need to read books of ulema who have spent their lives in knowing Allah (SWT) and then have left for us, the outcomes of their findings and their research. At the same time we must always have a period daily, if not then every two three days for reflection. Reflection is very important, even something that you know – if you reflect on it then you can have more and more aspects of that thing unveiled, and you can let that go deep in your heart. When you know something is just in your mind – you have to let that thing go into your heart otherwise it has no influence. Reflection and contemplation must be orientated, because after our Sajadah instead of contemplating about Allah (SWT) we start contemplating about something else totally different, or about our own wishes.
Posted 15 January 2007 - 04:45 PM
-Meeting with Allah (SWT)
-Dangers that can be faced on a spiritual journey
-Spirituality shouldn't be separated from one's normal life
The stage of a spiritual journey
It is interesting to mention a story by Rumi. Rumi says that there was a generous person known as Sadr Jahan, this person was giving people whatever they needed. But there was only one condition that the people who were needy should not ask him to give them money, they should ask Allah (SWT). If someone therefore went to Sadr Jahan and asked him to give him money – he did not do so. But if he said, ‘O Allah please help me’ in front of Sadr Jahan – he gave the person money. Therefore it would be known that Allah (SWT) is the real giver, and people are just instruments in the hand of Allah (SWT). There was a person who went to Sadr Jahan, and he refused to give this person money. This person insisted and said, ‘I am very needy’, he got angry and said, ‘Why do you give to everyone and not to me?’ Sadr Jahan still refused to give money. That person decided to play a trick – he knew the route that Sadr Jahan took every day to reach his place. One day early in the morning he went to one of the places were he knew Sadr Jahan would cross, and slept on the ground and pretended he was dead. When Sadr Jahan was passing, he saw there was apparently a dead body there, and therefore he put some money next to it – this was a custom. The person suddenly stood up and said, ‘Now you have seen that I can take money from you. You didn’t want to give me money, but now you have.’ Sadr Jahan made a profound statement, he said, ‘You didn’t receive any money unless you died.’
If you die and get rid of your selfishness, you can have my money. This is a metaphorical explanation that as long as you think you are alive and active and do something – people will not give you money. If you accept that you cannot do anything, and submit yourself to Allah (SWT) then you will be given something,
The stages of the spiritual journey can be split into:-
1) Awareness, to pay attention to spirituality
2) To know ourselves
3) To look after ourselves – which itself is divided into four:-
-To have proper beliefs
-To have good qualities
-To act according to Islamic Law
-To go through the stages of this journey and at the end you will be able to
meet Allah (SWT).
Meeting with Allah (SWT) is a profound Quranic concept (liqa’a Allah), the Quran says:-
‘Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your god is one Allah, therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join any one in the service of his Lord.’ (18:110)
This verse inspired Muslim Mystics to talk about the final stage of the spiritual journey as liqa’a Allah – meeting with Allah (SWT). This is not a physical meeting. What it means is that there will be nothing between you and Allah (SWT). You will be amongst the closest people to Allah (SWT). Everything that you find in Islam or any other religion about spirituality, can fit in this framework, everything encourages us to be aware, to know our selves or to look after our selves, regarding beliefs or qualities or acts. It is a matter of identifying which part of this framework is involved when you read a hadith or recite Quran.
Some dangers that can be faced on a spiritual journey
Some people think that we must be committed to Shariah (Islamic law) in the beginning, but when we reach a certain stage – we no longer need to practise Shariah. Shariah is for the beginners, when we reach the truth and the reality then we no longer need Shariah. Some Sufis (not all) do not practice, they do not say prayer, they do not fast – they may drink alcohol. When they are asked why they do this, or their master does this – they say they are in a position in which they no longer need to practise Shariah and that Shariah is for beginners. Shariah is like a shell, when you reach the core of the shell you no longer need the shell. Or for example they say that the Shariah is like a ladder by which you can go to the roof, if you are on the roof then you no longer need Shariah. You see even today, that there are Sufi masters who do not practise Islam and they have bad personal records, they have even been to court sometimes, and this is something that does not bother their followers.
One of the characteristics of Shia spirituality is that almost all Shia mystics and Sufis stress on commitment to Shariah. You cannot say that if I act according to the Risalah of my Marji’a I will become arif – no this is the bear minimum, this is not maximum. Shariah is the minimum, but this minimum is always needed. If you want to have a tall building, you cannot build this tall building, and then when you reach the thirtieth floor you damage the 29th floor below. Shariah is the minimum requirement that average people can fulfill.
In the spiritual journey when we want to be alert and pay attention to spiritual things there are two dangers:-
-When you become spiritually sensitive and alert, then you may find people around you are not acting or behaving in the way that you expect. Gradually you may loosen your relationship with these people because you expect more from them. This is dangerous because in the end you may be isolated and you will be suspicious about people. You cannot expect people to all be at the same level, you shouldn’t look for the mistakes of people, we should be concerned about our selves. If you look at other people, and start with them – you will always find some mistakes, some problems, you will then never have time to concentrate on your self. It is very easy to make ourselves busy with the problems of others and always thinking that, ‘I am very good and others are bad.’ There is in hadith that we must first start with our own deficiencies and shortcomings before we talk about or think about the shortcomings of other people.
There is a story that once a few people were given an appointment to meet the king. The meeting with the king was at noon, they said, ‘We must say our prayer quickly and then go and meet the king.’ Because they were in a hurry they did not wait for adhan, they thought that it was the time for prayer and so they started their prayer. When they were in the middle of their prayers the mu’adhdhin who was calling for the prayers entered the mosque and said ‘Look these people are praying, it is not yet the time for prayer.’ The first person said, ‘My prayer is not valid. Because we did not make sure that it was the time of prayer.’ The second person said, ‘Why did you talk during your prayer? Even if the time was not there, by the mere fact that you have talked in your prayer you have invalidated it.’ The third person said to the second person, ‘You yourself talked and why did you tell him off about talking in prayer.’ The fourth person said, ‘Thanks to God I did not tell anyone about why he was talking in prayer.’ People think they are very clever, and they make themselves busy with the faults of other people, instead of concentrating on their own faults. One should not look for shortcoming and deficiencies in other people.
Spirituality should not be separate from a person’s ordinary life
Secondly, when you are trying to improve yourself spiritually you must not think that this must be separate from your ordinary life. You mustn’t think that you can only be spiritual by sitting in a Mosque, or at a shrine, or for example on a prayer mat and trying to improve yourself spiritually. It must be mixed with your life. When you are preparing food for example – you can be spiritual at that time. You may think while you are cooking food that, ‘O why do I have to do this it is so burdensome.’, therefore you do not get any spiritual benefit from that. Or for example when a guest comes to your house. You smile in front of them, and behind their back you curse, ‘O why did they come to our house.’ Especially if they are not close relatives. So you are doing the service but you do not get anything from that. You could have done the same thing and benefited spiritually from that. You could say, ‘I will prepare food so that my Husband, my children will be healthy so that they will serve Allah (SWT) better.’ We shouldn’t always think that we can only serve Allah (SWT) outside the house. We can serve Allah (SWT) everywhere. A pious speaker in Qum made a beautiful poem:-
‘Every husband must look at his wife as Lady Zahrah [AS], if you love Lady Zahrah [AS] show this love to a follower of Zahrah [AS] in your house. The wife should look at her husband as a follow of Ali [AS], and if you love Ali [AS], show this love to the follower of Ali [AS]. And to children like Imam Hasan [AS] and Imam Husain [AS] and Lady Zainab [AS].’
If we really love Ahl al-bait [AS] then we should show this to people. Not only to people outside our houses, also people inside our house. When a guest comes, I could say, ‘Ok so we went to their house, so they are now coming to ours.’ Another way is to say that the guest is a friend of God. Whoever comes to your house as a guest you must respect him/her – you should show your full respect for that person, and full love for the person, because of Allah (SWT). Lady Fatimah [AS] said:-
‘Whoever believes in Allah (SWT) and the hereafter must respect their guest.’
I can think about this and improve my spirituality. The same principle applies when I go to work, in the office, and in school, everywhere. One of the best moments in our life to improve ourselves spiritually is when we make journeys as groups. When we live in our own city, we have a very organised life, whether this life is luxurious or not, it is organised. Everyone knows what to expect from you and you know what to expect from other people. When you travel, you don’t know what to expect from people, because new situations arise. Sometimes they may expect more than you can do. Also, when people live in their own ordinary situation, they are acting in a very reserved way, they don’t show their true realities. A person that you meet everyday in school or office is always very polished In behaviour and smiling. But if you make a journey with that person you realise how good or bad that person is. Because in journeys there are many different occasions, the time of sleep, the time of eating, the time of working, complaints, so you find the realities of people via their behaviours. There is a proverb in Arabic:-
‘In journeys the substance of the people is known.’
i.e. the core or essence of a person is known. Also, there is on journeys always the chance to serve. In ordinary life you may not be able to serve, it is limited in that sense. During journeys, you can serve people – you can help them, given them priority. When we want to become spiritual – we isolate ourselves from people, we underestimate other people, we feel that everyone should serve me – why? Because I am a person that likes to be spiritual. If you want to serve Allah (SWT) you must start by serving you friends, your brothers, and your sisters, be mixed with the people. There is a good advise:-
‘Be with the people but do not be one of them.’
In the sense that, you must always be with people – but do not lose your own ideas, your own privacy. When you are with the people do not forget yourself. Your body is there with them, but your spirit is always busy with the remembrance of Allah (SWT). One should make sure that not only during mosque you are spiritual – but from the time you wake till the time you sleep you should have attention to spirituality. By for example giving priority to other people, loving people. You should be the first to love – you shouldn’t say, ‘I only love those who love me.’ This is not a generous love. Love more those people who do not show their love, if you want to become spiritual, this is the way. Once a person went to visit an arif called Abu Sa’id who was out of the city. The wife of Abu Sa’id was very angry with him at that particular time. The person knocked on the door and the wife answered. The person said, ‘I have heard many, many beautiful things about Abu Sa’id that he is a great ‘arif, I want to see him.’ The wife said, ‘All these are lies, you have wasted your time. Go away.’ The man was shocked, if Abu Sa’id was so pious and so spiritual, why did his wife not appreciate him. He tried to find Abu Sa’id elsewhere. He managed to locate him and saw that he was coming back with a lion. Abu Sa’id had put all the pieces of wood on the back of the lion, and instead of a stick he had a snake in his hand and was using it is a stick. So this person was shocked even more, this person who was so spiritual and everyone praised him he has used a lion as a donkey, and he uses a snake as a stick, and his wife is saying bad things about him. Abu Sa’id realised from the man’s face about his reaction towards him and said, ‘You shouldn’t feel estranged, I have all these powers and qualities, and it is because I was patient in my house. Because I could live with the wife that I have, and this is what Allah (SWT) has given me. If I was to fight with my wife and curse her and beat her, or say bad things about her – I couldn’t have reached this position.’
There a person called Haddad, he was one of the student of the late Qadi, who was the spiritual leader of the late Allamah Tabataba’i and many others. He resided in Najaf – one of the students of his was called Haddad and the biography of this person is written by the late Ayatullah Tahrani in ‘Ruh al-Mujarrad’ which means, ‘The Abstract Spirit’. This person was very spiritual, it was said that the late Ayatullah Qadi reluctantly introduced this student to people when people wanted a spiritual guide because he was very pious and used to spend a lot of time on spiritual matters. In that book it is written that the first time that this person had a vision i.e. a vision of the heart, seeing the realities of the world, was when he had a problem with his father-in-law. He was very poor, he was working and just had enough to get by with. He was living in the house of his father-in-law. His father-in-law was bad with him, because he was poor and was a person of spirituality, spending a lot of his time on this aspect of his life. On one occasion his father-in-law made him so angry that he couldn’t tolerate it – but instead of starting to fight with him, he didn’t say anything – he went to the desert. It was as if he was fed up of life. This was when he had his first vision. He could control himself not to say anything bad, and then his first vision occurred for him.
In the very simple and personal life that we have, we can acquire spirituality. We shouldn’t look for a very artificial ways of acquiring spirituality. One must look at their heart, and see how much they love others around them, if you see that you love them really and feel that you are inferior to all of them. If you are very humble, there is hope for you. But if you feel that you are important, and ‘Why should I love people? People must love me and respect me’ – there is no hope.
Something that you will receive by spiritual building is complete support by God. Allah (SWT) fully supports the people who have been attending to themselves and uplifting themselves spiritually. In a very beautiful hadith of nawafil which you can find in 90% of the books written about spirituality in Islam. Allah (SWT) says (this is hadith Qudsi – a Divine Saying):-
‘None of my servants can seek proximity to me by that which is dearer to me than things that I have made obligatory.’
The first thing that one must do is perform their Wajibats
‘…then with the performance of recommendary acts he continuously attains proximity to me so that I love him. When I love him I will be the ear with which he hears. The eyes with which he sees. And the hand with which he strikes. If he calls Me I will answer his call. And if he makes a request I will grant it.’
This is what we are aiming for. This hadith can be found in Usul al-Kafi. Another outcome is perfect knowledge, you will obtain perfect knowledge. Not a knowledge for which you need to go to school and read books and then you forget somethings and sometimes you will misunderstand things, and sometimes you get confused. A sort of knowledge which is immediate, which is immune, inspiring and enlightening. For example, there is in hadith Qudsi that:-
‘When the Prophet [SAW] asked Allah (SWT) about a servant who has reached proximity to God. Allah (SWT) said, ‘I will love him when he loves Me and I will make him loved by My creation. And I will open up his inward eyes to My Glory and Grandeur.’
If your eyes are open, when you look at a flower you feel very moved and very spiritual, and sometimes you would like to cry, because you see the Glory of God in that flower. The following is recited in Dua Kumail:-
‘Allah’s (SWT) names have filled everything.’
If you look at a small thing, and your eyes are open – you will see that Allah’s (SWT) name is there. This is why some people say and argue, that you cannot know anything in full. Why? Because you cannot know Allah’s (SWT) name in full, and everything has Allah’s (SWT) name. The Glory of Allah (SWT) fills everything.
‘… And I will not hide from him the knowledge of the select of My creation. In the darkness of night and in the light of day I will tell him secrets so that his conversation with creatures and with his companions will be cut off.’
It does not mean that he does not talk to people, he talks to people – but when he does so, he is talking to Allah (SWT). When he listens to people, he listens from Allah (SWT). Even if a child say something, he finds a message from Allah (SWT) in the words of that child. Even if an enemy say something he finds a message of Allah (SWT) in what that enemy says. But sometime when we read Quran we cannot find the message of Allah (SWT) even in that! But these people find the message of Allah (SWT) everywhere, and this is what it means by cutting off of the conversation of these people.
‘…I will make him hear My words and the words of my angels. And I will reveal to him the secrets that I have hidden from My creation.’
This is narrated in Bihar al-Anwar.
Another that a person can gain is exclusive devotion to God. Entrance to the realm of light, to the universe of light. Another is immense love of God and is witnessing God in everything. These are some of the outcomes of the spiritual journey. It is hoped that we can all taste these beauties of spirituality.
Posted 15 January 2007 - 05:12 PM
-Discussion on the extent of infallibility of the prophets i.e. before prophethood, and after prophethood.
-A look at Alam al-dhar (the world of small particles)
-A look at extra care and protection that is provided to the Prophets in situations not under their control, to protect them from involuntary sins and mistakes.
-Discussion on Ismah and revelation, how sins could affect the reception of revelation
-Discussion on the nature of Ismah, how protection is gained from Allah (SWT) but also from the will of the person not to commit sins.
Discussion on the extent of Infallibility
Literally Ismah means, to save to protect. Masum means the one who is protected. Technically when we say masum, we do not mean someone who is protected from for example physical dangers or disease. We mean protected from committing sins or committing mistakes and errors. According to all Muslims, Prophets are Masum. But they disagree on the extent of this infallibility. The issue of Ismah was divided into three different aspects. One is after the Prophethood starts, in the Prophetic life – the Prophets must be Masum in this time because if they are making mistakes in presenting the message or if they commit sin there would be no point in making them Prophets because Allah (SWT) wants pure and pious channels to communicate to us. So, if Prophets are not preserved and protected from mistakes or sin – there would be no point. Generally all Muslims agree on this, some Muslims say that unintentional sins are not harmful, some say that minor sins are not harmful.
Another aspect is after the Prophethood starts in their personal lives. For example, when the Prophet (SAW) was first able to receive revelation he was 40 years old. In the period between Prophethood upto his demise i.e. 23 years but not in the Prophetic life but his personal life. For example, when he was living with his own family, or walking on the street, eating, or buying something. The Shia say that the Prophet (SAW) does not commit any sins, even in this personal life, in the period the Prophethood starts till the end. Why? If he commit sins first of all people would not trust him in his Prophetic life. If a Prophet, beats his children or wife for example without any justification it is injustice – can this Prophet then come to the mosque and recite Quranic verses to the people, people would not listen to him. They would say, ‘look at him, he is beating his family and behaving badly to them, and now he is asking us to be pious.’ Also if he commits sins, even if they are unintentional his spirit will not be able to receive revelation anymore. There is a compatibility between spirit and revelation. It is not possible to receive revelation unless one is fully prepared for that.
The third aspect is before the Prophethood. The period between the Prophets birth and when he became fourty years old in the case of the Prophet (SAW). Again the Shia who are exceptional in this view, they believe that the Prophets including the Prophet (SAW) of Islam were all infallible in this period aswell. For example the Prophet (SAW) in the 40 years before the commencement of Prophethood did not commit any sins, even unintentional sins. Why? Some of the arguments from before apply here and some do not, new arguments are needed. For example the argument that a Prophet must be spiritually prepared applies here aswell. A Prophet cannot be an ordinary person who for example worships idols, drinks alcohol and then all of a sudden he becomes a Prophet. Sins are so harmful and dangerous, even if you don’t do them intentionally you may still suffer from their bad effects. If you drink alcohol without your knowledge, it will still make you drunk, and will make your spirit far from Allah (SWT). Sometimes the sins of others will have an affect on you. For example if the food that you eat is not halal, you think it is halal, and according to Islamic law it is okay, you can eat it – there is no sin. But if that person has not brought that meat from halal sources, it is haram – it has an effect on your spirit. You are not committing sins, but your spirit will suffer. This is why some ulema are very strict about eating from places for example in shops, or houses of people they do not know.
There is a story about Imam Khumaini’s father, Seyyed Mustafa Khumaini – his father was a very pious scholar in the city of Khumain and he was also fighting against the injustice of the governor of that time, he was eventually martyred when Imam Khumaini was very young. One of the things that is mentioned in the history of the life of the Imam was that when he was born his mother could not feed him, did not have enough milk so they were looking for someone to give milk to him. They realised that there was a pious lady amongst the people that his father knew and that lady had delivered a child – but that child had died. So, she was producing milk and because she pious – Imam Khumaini’s father said that this is a good person for providing milk. They spoke to the husband of that lady, and they were very happy because he was a Sayyad and the son of an Ayatullah and it was a blessing for them. They set up a timetable for feeding. Initially they did not bring Imam Khumaini but they bought food, and Imam Khumaini’s father said that,‘For two days just eat food that I have sent and nothing from your house, and after two days I will bring my son.’ This is the way that Ulema are very careful about what they eat, and do.
Therefore it is not simply a matter of committing sins, you do not commit a sin if you go and buy something from a local shop whose owner is a Muslim. But if this is not halal, and you buy and eat it – this still has an effect on you. If a Prophet before his Prophethood commits unintentional sins – he will not be prepared to receive Allah’s (SWT) message. If a Prophet commits sins or even commits mistakes and people believe that this person is a very ordinary person, like any other person – who has shortcoming, commits mistakes, has problems, commits sins – they cannot accept that this person who was amongst them, who was very ordinary, very typical – is the one who was chosen by God. If you look at the history of the Prophet (SAW), you see that from the very beginning he was exceptional – even before his Prophethood. All the people of Makkah admired him. He was given the title al-Amin (the trustworthy, honest one). They themselves were deceiving each other, killing each other, but they still appreciated this quality of being honest and trustworthy in the Prophet (SAW). The people never heard a lie from the Prophet (SAW). When the Prophet (SAW) was given the message by Allah (SWT). When he addressed the people of Quraish to believe in Islam. He told them:-
‘If I tell you that there is a threat, for example a group of enemies are attacking you, would you believe that?’
The people replied, ‘Yes of course, whatever you have said till this point is always the truth and we have never heard any lies from you.’
The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘I warn you about the punishment from Allah (SWT), waiting for the disbelievers.’
The people were therefore aware of the exemplary character of the Prophet (SAW), at that time people committed a lot of vices but the Prophet (SAW) was not associated with any of these bad things. This is the way that people trusted the Prophet (SAW). You have to bear in mind that people were looking for excuses, for any minor problem so that they could make it into a big issue, so that people would not believe in the Prophet (SAW). If there was any shortcoming of the Prophet (SAW), the enemies of the Prophet (SAW) could make it bigger and bigger – so people would not believe in the Prophet (SAW). Even for example, if a sheikh, or Alim, goes to a Muslim community who are very pious, if those Muslims see that this person is committing unintentional sins, committing a lot of mistakes, and forgetting – would these people listen to him – even though they know that what he says is true. If this is the case about fellow believers – how can it be the case that a Prophet comes and wants to change all the patterns of the lives of people, asking people to destroy their idols, asking people to lose their pride which they gained through their idols by carrying out pilgrimage to these idols – how can the Prophet (SAW) change them if there is even a little problem with his history, this is not possible. That is why it is believed that the Prophets have always been pious, have always been infallible.
It might be asked, if a Prophet is pious after he becomes adult and mature - this is understandable. What about when he is not yet mature – when he is for example four or five years old? How can it be believed that he was an exceptional person, and was not committing sins? When a Prophet does his best in the period in which he accountable – then Allah (SWT) will protect him for the period in which he is not accountable – like when he was very young, or committing mistakes unintentionally – Allah (SWT) will protect him. If he does his best for the things that he is in control of, then Allah (SWT) will look after other things for which he cannot have full control of. There is a beautiful story about the life of the Prophet (SAW), that when he was young, a boy, the Arabs had a long dress – but they did not have an under dress. Some boys were playing and carrying stones, to be able to carry stones they lifted the bottom of their dress so it meant that their private parts became visible. When the Prophet (SAW) wanted to play with them, before he could lift his dress to carry the stones he was stopped – an angel stopped the Prophet (SAW). This would not have been a sin if he had done that, he was a child and not accountable. Allah (SWT) protects such a person even before he becomes mature, because this person is to be given a great mission, so Allah (SWT) prepares for him in advance.
A question arises, what is the difference between the Prophet (SAW) and other people? If Allah (SWT) had provided other people with special care surely they would have become Prophets. But Allah (SWT) knows in advance that such and such a person in the future will be so pious that he will be qualified to be a Prophet, so in advance he gave him extra protection. Like a teacher, a teacher knows that a student will be the top student at the end of the year and that maybe they have a chance of being the best student in the country. From the very beginning the teacher may spend more time on that student, it is not discrimination, this student is better than others – the teacher is more experienced and knows in advance. Allah (SWT) still may give Prophets extra care when they are in the wombs of their mothers, because Allah (SWT) knows when these people are mature and accountable they will be the most pious people, so Allah gives them more blessing. It is not discrimination, they deserve this. But this is not because of the extra care that they become different, because they are different Allah (SWT) gives them extra care.
It is believed, not by all Shia, but many Shia Ulema believe that before we were created in this world we were all in another world – alam al-dhar (the universe of small pieces). In that universe were all able to witness the Oneness of Allah (SWT) and that he is our Creator. Then we were asked to accept Him, and we did. Therefore this is why all human beings have an innate knowledge about God. According to the differences that all people had in that universe to be hesitant to believe, or to be quick in belief, the differences in the faith that they had – when they come to this universe they were therefore different. The following verse is believed to attest to this:-
‘And when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants, and made them bear witness against their own souls: Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! we bear witness. Lest you should say on the day of resurrection: Surely we were heedless of this.’ (7:172)
‘Allah (SWT) told them, ‘am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! We bear witness…’ There is a discussion on this point and the lecturer gives his own view, he says that that universe i.e. Alam al-dhar is not one that is temporally before this universe, this is a universe before this universe in order and not in time. It doesn’t mean that there was a time we were there (i.e. Alam al-dhar) and then we came here. These are parallel worlds, but in order this world (Alam al-dhar) came before this current one, because the spiritual world is prior to the physical world. This issue is important but very sophisticated and it has been simplified for the lecture.
Provision of extra care
Suppose that this is the only life that we have – because Allah (SWT) knows in advance that a certain person in the future will be a very good and pious person. Allah (SWT) will provide that person with extra care before. This is not only for the Prophet (SAW) this may be true for any one of us. You may have had experience in your life, that when you were a child, Allah (SWT) gave you some special care. For example, the lecturer remembers that when he wanted to go to Qum, his mother was not happy. He was the only person in his family that went to Qum out of his relatives – related by blood. His mother thought that he should become a doctor and so on. He says it was not possible for him to stay in Tehran, to continue with his education. He was in a special school for gifted students, it was his final year, but he couldn’t finish there – he said, ‘I must go to Qum.’ Suddenly his mother gave him permission, and he did not know why this sudden decision occurred. After several years she told him, ‘I had a dream of a Lady asking me to let him go.’ At that time, and even now, the speaker says that he is nothing, but maybe Allah (SWT) wanted to help him in his future and then gave him this care.
The speaker recalls another account that one year before the above incident he was going to Arabic classes in the afternoon. In the morning he was going to the school upto 2 O’clock then after that he went to a house of one of the imams in Tehran for Arabic lessons. He had no intention at that time of becoming a cleric, he just wanted to learn Arabic. After a few weeks it grew boring for him, because he did not have any interest in fiqh he just wanted to learn a bit of Arabic. At the same time another class started run by a person who was a graduate from the USA – teaching about Socrates and Aristotle – for him it was very exciting at that time. So he had a choice either to pursue Arabic or go for the other class. He decided to drop Arabic and go for the other class. He told his friends that I will not come with them any more. After a few minutes, he changed his mind again and said, ‘No, I will go with you.’ So he went with his friends, and it was through those Arabic classes that he learnt about Qum, and he became interested after a year to go to Qum. He did not know why his mind changed. Allah (SWT), provides us with some care, sometimes in advance because he knows about our future.
Ismah and revelation
The Prophets before their Prophethood are also infallible. Another reason for the belief in infallibility applicable to the period both preceding the Prophethood and that following it is that God’s choice is not arbitrary. To be addressed by God, to receive revelation and immediate communication from the unseen (ghaib) is so extra-ordinarily demanding an experience that it can only be borne by one possessing a high spiritual capacity. The Quran says:-
‘Surely We will make to light upon you a weighty Word.’ (73:5)
None can reach the requisite position if he is tamed by false belief or sin. For sins are harmful to the spirit and to the purity of the soul, even if committed unintentionally. A person committing a sin by mistake maybe excused as for example a person who drinks wine not recognising it to be such. But the sin nonetheless has its natural effect upon the soul. The Shia thus hold Prophethood in very high esteem they believe that the Prophets were pious and pure throughout their lives and that they immune from committing sins or other acts which make people go away from them. Our Ulema even say that the Prophets shouldn’t have a disease that makes people frightened of them. The Prophet shouldn’t look ugly, because if they are so then people will not listen to them, even these things are considered.
Nature of Ismah
What about the nature of infallibility? If you look carefully into the argument you will see that it was not said that all ismah is based on protection by God. Part of it, which is the most important part is because of their own will. Protection of God is there, it is there for those that do their best in the part they are accountable for. So it is a mixture of ones own decision and determination and will, and then the protection of Allah (SWT). If the protection of Allah (SWT) is not there, you cannot rely on your own self. Whoever relies on himself or herself will damage himself or herself. Those people who are very proud of themselves, these people are useless. There is a story about Satan. Satan was not an angel, he was a jinn – but he was always with the angels because he had worshipped Allah (SWT) for thousands of years. The angels knew according to this story (it maybe an authentic hadith or not, but there is such a hadith) that they would be tested a very important test, and one of them would not be able to pass the test, and that was to prostrate before Adam . So they were very worried, and they asked Allah (SWT) for help. And because Satan was very pious at that time, so they went to him and they told him of their worries. Satan said, ‘Do not worry I will pray for you, and you will all be saved.’ Satan was so proud of himself and he did not have any worry himself. The Satan himself was the one who did not pass the test, because he was not worried.
If a person thinks that, ‘O I am a good Mumin, my families are religious, I am religious…’. This is the time that one must be most, or more frightened about oneself. A person should worry and think, ‘I am not sure about myself, Allah (SWT) will give me a big test and maybe I will not be able to pass.’ Even the Prophet (SAW) was asking Allah (SWT) for help in guidance and one of the ladies of the Prophet apparently Aishah says that, ‘Once at midnight the Prophet (SAW) went out.’ She followed the Prophet (SAW) and she saw that the Prophet (SAW) was praying, crying and asking Allah (SWT) for help and guidance. So she told the Prophet (SAW), ‘Why are you crying? You don’t need to cry because Allah (SWT) has said, ‘Surely We have given to you a clear victory. That Allah may forgive your community their past faults and those to follow…’. Aishah said, ‘Allah (SWT) has forgiven all your sins, then why do you cry? [not sins in a legal sense, but the things that the Prophet (SAW) considered as sins].’ The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Am I not supposed to be thankful to Allah (SWT), if Allah (SWT) leaves me to myself for a moment I maybe destroyed.’ We must always therefore be worried, and not to think that, ‘Ok now I can rely on myself, I am a very good person, and a pious person, and I should be worried about others and not myself.’ First of all one should be worried about their self, secondly one should worry about their self, thirdly one should worry about their self, and then fourth, one should worry about other people. This the way that one can make sure that they do not go astray.
Question – How can one rid themselves of pride because that is very difficult?
The most important thing is that we should not be proud of our good deeds, or good qualities, if we are proud of ourselves then this is very dangerous. There is in hadith,
‘Whoever starts to have self admiration, has damaged themselves.’
Self admiration is very wrong. Although the Satan was worshipping Allah (SWT) a lot, but he suffered from this – he admired himself, he was proud of himself. This is why selfishness is considered to be one of the most dangerous things. If we are selfish there is no hope. If we can get rid of selfishness then we can make a lot of progress. There is a metaphorical example,
‘Once a person was riding a horse, and that person wanted to cross a river. When they reached the river the horse stopped. Whatever this person did to make the horse move, the horse did not move. A very wise person came and made the water muddy. (i.e. put his hand in the water and stirred it). The horse then started to move. This person was shocked as to how this person was able to move the horse. The wise person said, ‘When the water was clean the horse was looking at it’s face inside the water. As long as the horse saw itself it was not able to make any progress.’
If you just look at yourself and are concerned about yourself, you cannot make any progress. When you forget yourself, you can make progress. If you always think about yourself, and you are self interested and selfish you will make not progress.
Posted 17 January 2007 - 06:41 PM
-An examination of the Shia and Sunni view point on Ismah
-A look at how Ismah means more than simply not committing sins
-Did the Prophets commit sins? A brief look at the case of Prophet Adam
The meaning of Imam was discussed in the literal and technical sense. Then it was said that there were three functions of the Prophet [SAW], these three were continued in the Imams with the difference that there was no further revelation. But the task of presenting Islam was there, the task of acting as a judge and the task of acting as a political leader. Muslims except a very few people do not disagree about the necessity of having an Imam. What they do disagree on is about the functions of an Imam and the definition of an Imam. Some Muslims just reduced the role of an Imam into a political leader. But the Shia say that what is more important is to continue the role of the Prophet [SAW] in presenting pure and true Islam. It is therefore necessary to refer to the Prophet [SAW] and the Imams [AS] in general in understanding Islam. To be able to have this task fulfilled the Imam must be Masum, otherwise he may make mistakes. It is very important to look at how the issue of Ismah is looked at. According to Shia Islam, all the Prophets and also the Imams [AS] must be infallible and immaculate and arguments for this were referred to. One point was finished with, and that was the nature of Ismah. If the Imam is to be Masum, Allah (SWT) can define who is masum, we cannot identify who is Masum (the issue of Nass).
Examining the Shia and Sunni view points on Ismah
There is a great Alim, Kwaja Nasir al-din al-Tusi – he is a great shia scholar, a theologian and philosopher – he was the one who reconciled between the science of theology and the science of philosophy. Before Nasir al-din al-Tusi there were a lot of debates between Muslim theologians and philosophers. Sometimes theologians considered philosophers as people who had left Islam and were no longer Muslim for example Ghazzali. Imam Muhammad Ghazzali was a famous Sunni scholar, he wrote a book identifying in his view the contradictions between philosophical ideas about the world, the book was called, ‘Tahafat al-Falasafa’. This book was a refutation of philosophy he was a famous Sunni theologian, who was Ashari. Then Ibn Rushd (referred to in the west as Avarroes) wrote a book in response to Ghazzali’s book called ‘Tahafat al-tahafat’. There was therefore a great debate here, but Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was able to reconcile Islamic theology and philosophy mainly by writing a book called, ‘Tajrid al-i’tiqad’, this book is received very well by the Shia and Sunni Muslims. Many Sunni scholars and Shia scholars have made a commentary on this book, it has had a great influence. At the same time Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was also a mathematician and astronomer. He was a great Shia scholar, nowadays there is a tendency by Ismailis to say that he was Ismaili, because for a period he lived in a castle which belonged to the Ismailis, but this was because of pressure on him. This great Alim in his book ‘Talkhis al-Muhassal’ writes about Ismah as follows:-
‘Infallibility is when the servant of God is able to perform sins, but he does not wish to do so at all (the Imams are able to commit sins, it is not as if they are not able to do so, our view is that angels do not commit sins at all. But the Prophets are human beings they can commit sins but they do not do so.) And this lack of will for sins or the existence of something that prevents them from that, is a Divine Grace for them.’
There is no will to commit sins, and also there is a protection from God. It is not just that Allah (SWT) arbitrarily says that the person will be protected from sins, first of all the people themselves do there best, at the same time Allah (SWT) provides them with extra care. And this is a general law in the universe, whoever does good and takes one step forward, Allah (SWT) will support them
There is in hadith:-
‘If someone comes towards me as just the distance between two fingers (called shibr in Arabic, in English a finger span) I will come to him one foot.’
In the Quran there is the same thing, when Allah (SWT) talks about the people who are good and bad:-
‘All do We aid-- these as well as those-- out of the bounty of your Lord, and the bounty of your Lord is not confined’ (17:20)
Both groups are supported, those who want to do good things are supported, as are those who want to do bad things. If someone deliberately makes mistakes and sins and wants to be bad – Allah (SWT) will help him so that he will increase his crimes. Those who want to do good, Allah (SWT) will support them. This is a general law in the universe. Whatever way you take and you make efforts in that way – you will receive help, either to increase your goodness or your badness. The Prophets and Imams therefore do their best but Allah (SWT) supports them.
‘…The Masum does not disobey God not because he is unable to do so but because he does not will to do so, or because there is something that overrides his will. Thus considering his power and free will it is possible for him to perform sins but considering his lack of will or existence of the overriding obstacle it is impossible. Practically it is impossible, but in principle it is possible.’
If it is impossible to commit sins, this is not an advantage. If someone is blind he does not look at nan-mahram sinfully – is this a favour, is it a privilege? But this is not a privilege to be blind. If someone is in a room and the room is locked, this person cannot commit a theft – but is this an advantage to be locked in the room? If there is no water and no food, therefore you don’t eat and drink anything – can you say that you are fasting and that this is a privilege. The Prophets are able to commit sins but they do not do that. There is a Sunni explanation of Ismah, by a well known Sunni theologian called Qadi Adud al-Din al-Iji (known as al-iji), he has a famous book called ‘al-Mawaqif’, it is one of the classical and important sources in theology. He makes the following statement:-
‘For us (meaning Asharites), infallibility is that God does not create in them (meaning Prophets) any sin…’
Asharites believe in determinism, and their idea was that Allah (SWT) creates our acts inside us. We are just the subject or the place for Divine acts, if I do something good or wrong it is not something that I have done, it is the creation of Allah (SWT). There are lots of problems with this view, it does not fit in with the idea of free will and human responsibility, and accountability. This Asharite theologian says that when we say that someone is Masum, it means that Allah (SWT) does not create sins in that person.
‘… for the philosophers, it is a character that prevents one from sinning and is caused by knowing the wretchedness of sins and the merits of obedience to God. And is strengthened by the repetition of revelation of commands and prohibitions.’
Masum means more than not committing sins
When Allah (SWT) reveals to the Prophets their character becomes stronger. According to philosophers these people do not wish, they do not have the will to do sins. But according to Asharites the reason is very simple, simply Allah (SWT) does not create sins in them. Therefore, two different opposing views were presented on infallibility, one by a Sunni scholar and one by a Shia scholar, about the nature of Ismah. It is believed that the same quality of Ismah must be there in Imams. Why? Because Imams are to take over the role of the Prophet [SAW] in presenting Islam. If they make mistakes in presenting Islam if they commit sins, then people would not trust them and the benefit of having an Imam will be lost. There is no point in having someone as an Imam but people do not trust them. Imams must be Masum. For Imams and Ahl al-bait [AS] there are also particular arguments attesting to their infallibility, one of them is Ayah al-tathir (the verse of purification) (33:33). This verse is very helpful in proving the Ismah of the Imams [AS] and the Ahl al-bait [AS]. Because this verse suggests that these people are purified by Allah (SWT) a thorough purification:-
‘…Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.’ (33:33)
What does this verse means, does it just mean not to commit sins? – no it means much more than that. There are many good believers and Mu’minin who do not commit sins. This is the concept of adalah, i.e. the leader of prayer must be adil, judges must be adil. Adil means in fiqh – not to commit sins. An Imam [AS] does not just mean not to commit sins, an Imam [AS] is someone who is immune from committing sins and making mistakes. They are totally preserved and purified by Allah (SWT). If you compare this verse with another that will be mentioned then you have a good argument for Ismah, to show that Ismah means much more than simply not committing sins. Allah (SWT) talks about mutaqin (pious people) in the Quran, those who have piety and obedience towards Allah (SWT). In the Quran it is said:-
‘Surely those who guard (against evil), when a visitation from the Shaitan afflicts them they become mindful, then lo! they see.’(7:201)
There are some people who are satan themselves, there are people who serve satan and are one of the army of satan. We have people who are better, they are not satanic but they follow satan easily. There is the story of Shaikh Ansari , he was on of the great Shia scholars, and he was a great Maraji’, and he was a very pious person. Once his wife was going to deliver a baby, the ladies who were there – suggested that they should prepare a special meal for her, which needed lots of oil (to give strength). Sheikh Ansari did not have money of his own, but he had the money of Khums which he used to spend on other students. He thought, as I am the teacher of all these students, I can take the money for the students and pay for the oil. When he took the money and went to buy the oil, he regretted it. He went back and left the money from whence he got it. The next day, someone went to Sheikh Ansari and said, ‘I had a dream, I saw the satan in my dream with different sorts of rope and chains. I asked the satan, ‘What are these ropes and chains for?’ The satan replied, ‘For every person I have a special rope or chain, to catch him and make him follow me. Some are very strong because these are strong Mu’minin, so I need to have a very strong chain or rope so that they do not escape. For some we do not need a strong rope at all and just a thread is enough.’ The man asked, ‘Which is my rope or chain?’ The satan replied, ‘You do not need one you just follow me.’ There was a very strong rope or chain that he saw, he asked, ‘What is the strongest one for? Who is the one who you try to fasten with this?’ He replied, ‘This is for Sheikh Ansari. I was able to fasten him once, but he untied himself and escaped.’ When he explained this to Sheikh Ansari , he realised that this was a test, and that although legally he was qualified to take the money – he had in his mind an argument that. ‘If I use this money, are all students able to use this money and buy oil for their wives? If all students cannot do this then I as a Maraji’ cannot do this.’ And this is why he put the money back.
Those who are pious, when a group of satans who are visitors… These people are pious and the satan visits them, the satan is not always with them. For the pious, the satans just come and visit, they go around them quickly. They cannot accompany them. When a visitation of satan came, they become alert! They realise. When satan comes they quickly see aright, they see everything clearly. For a moment it sometimes may become dark for them, for a while, a few minutes or hours. But because they are pious Allah (SWT) removes all the veils from them and they see clearly, and think properly. The Quran says this about the pious, they are able to defeat satan. What about the Ahl al-bait [AS]. When you are referring to the Ahl al-bait [AS] you must be referring to something a lot higher than the pious people. It cannot just be not committing sins, not making mistakes in your decisions, it must be much higher, because this is applicable to all pious people. Ahl al-bait [AS] are purified from God from every ugly and bad thing.
Did the prophets commit sins?
If you say that all the Prophets are infallible, then why did the Prophet Adam [AS] disobey God? The Quran says:-
‘…and Adam disobeyed his Lord, so his life became evil (to him).’ (20:121)
This was the reason that Adam [AS] was asked to go out of heaven, there are other example of Prophets. All these cases are clearly treated by the Ulema, there are hadith, there is also a conversation between Imam Rida [AS] and Ma’mun al-Rashid in which Imam [AS] gives a full explanation for all these. Another example is the fight between Musa [AS] and one of the people which led to the murder of that person. About the case of Prophet Adam [AS], which the Christians call the ‘original sin’, there are different explanations, first of all the mistake that Adam [AS] did was not in this universe. This world is the only world in which there are regulations and laws and responsibilities. There will be no further obligations in the hereafter. When you go to heaven there is no obligation, takhlif. There is hadith:-
‘Today you just act and there is no judgment, tomorrow it is the opposite.’
You cannot say in the hereafter that, ‘I want to say prayers, I want to fast, I want to pay zakah, I want to help mu’minin. I want to serve people.’ That time has finished, what you can do is all in this world. This is the only world in which you can plant seeds and grow something. In the hereafter you cannot do this. This is the case about heaven in which the Prophet Adam [AS] and Hawa lived, there was no obligation. Obligation started in this world, and will end in this world. Sin, in the jurisprudential sense, in the legal sense, in the fiqhi sense, was not applicable to that world. The second thing is that, The Prophet Adam [AS] did not know that there is a possibility of someone cheating and telling lies, he was so pious and living in heaven it was not in his mind that someone like satan would come and tell lies. He made a mistake in thinking that satan is telling the truth. It was a mistake, but it was not a sin. Because it was before coming to this world, it was not relevant to the issue of Ismah. The issue of Ismah, was after the birth of the Prophets or Imams [AS] upto their death, which is all in this world. In that universe, heaven, there was no obligation or sin in the legal sense. He should not have trusted satan, but he did so because he did not think that someone may dare to tell lies. Why did Allah (SWT) call this ma’siyah (disobedience), because although it was not a sin in the legal sense, it was a grave mistake and that mistake was not expected from someone like Adam [AS]. There are many cases where something is considered as a mistake, as a sin for the Prophets, but for ordinary people it is not a sin. For example, if the Prophet Muhammad [SAW] says his prayer in front of Allah (SWT) in the way that we say it, this is a sin, this is very wrong. In the legal sense it would not be a sin but Allah (SWT) expects more from him than he expects from us. The Prophets considered some of their own acts as sins, but it was not a sin according to our understanding, it was not disobedience to Allah (SWT), it was just a matter of not being able to do the best. They were always looking to do the best or the purest, and if it was some degrees lower than that they were not satisfied.
When a Prophet [SAW] asks for forgiveness, it is not because he has told lies or for example he has eaten haram. The Prophet [SAW] did say:-
‘I ask forgiveness seventy times a day because my heart gets clouded.’
When the Prophet [SAW] is busy in his life, he has to talk to people, and listen to people – although it is for the sake of Allah (SWT) but he felt that he did not have the same spirituality that he has when he is alone. But the Prophets cannot separate themselves from people, they have to go into societies, mix with the people and solve their problems. But, at the same time they want to remember Allah (SWT) in full, and have the same spirituality as when they were alone. They considered these thing as sins for themselves.
Imamah means divinely appointed leadership (the issue of nass). There are hadith in which the Prophet [SAW] appointed Imam Ali [AS] as Imam.
Question: What should one do when they feel that their spirituality wavers?
The mystics have two technical terms, one is hal, the other is maqam. Hal is something transient, a state which comes soon and goes soon. Maqam is something which is fixed, it is like a state of you spirit. For many of us, we have moments of being very spiritual, very soft in our hearts. And we have moments when we are not like that. What is more important that all these feelings and states is to perform our obligations, we must not be very concerned with these feelings. If for example, it is the time for prayer – and I do not have a high spiritual feeling, I should not say, ‘I will not say my prayer, because I do not feel spiritual.’ You have to say your prayer even if you do not feel good because it is compulsory for you. Or for example if you have decided everyday I will recite some verse of the Quran, or every Thursday night I will recite Dua Kumail, you must do it whether you have a good feeling or not. One of the great Ulema in the field of Dua is ibn Fahd Hilli, he has a book called Uddah al-Da’i which has recently been translated into English he says,
‘We have had many experiences that we started Dua and at the beginning we did not have a good mood, then we had a good mood in between.’
We should not observe our moods too much. But at the same time if we are not in a good mood, we should not impose on ourselves a long recitation of Dua or Quran. Try to train yourself, not to always observe your moods, but also to see that if you are not in a good mood – do not impose too much on yourself, because then the result could be in the long term that you may dislike what you do. If you are after good moods the result would be that you will never have a good mood, try to have something minimal like the obligatory things and a few mustahab things, do it when you are supposed to. For more than that try to be in a good mood. And if you are not then do not expose yourself to a very high level. You therefore need a balance, one must not be frightened that they are not always in a good mood. There is a hadith:-
'Some of the companions of the Prophet [SAW] complained that, ‘When we are with you (the Prophet [SAW]), we are very spiritual, as if we are in heaven. But when we go to our own lives, we are not that much high (don’t feel that spiritual). ’, the Prophet [SAW] said, ‘If you could continue and maintain the state that you had when you are with me, then you would have been able to see the angels, and have a conversation with them.’
It is understandable that you cannot maintain this level, two things are very important and the Prophet [SAW] said in another hadith about things that stop us from being in that state:-
‘ (Speaking too much(Takthirun fi kalamikum) even if what you are saying is not haram, it is still harmful) If it were not that you spoke to much and (tamrijun fi Qulubikum) and these memories that come to your heart (you think about a lot of things and you make yourselves busy with memories and ideas) you would be able to see what I see and hear what I hear.’
They would not be a Prophet but they could see an angel. It is quite understandable that we would not be in a fixed mood. But if we want to try to have a good mood as much as possible, try not to speak too much and do not let our heart become preoccupied with memories and ideas – these things that do not help. Especially when we watch TV, and read novels and stories and newspapers. To some extent it is good to keep yourself aware of what is going on in the society. But more than that it is harmful, it is not necessarily haram, but spiritually it is harmful – because it makes your mind work full time on irrelevant things. Your brain works full time, and your heart works full time on the things that are not important. You must have time in your day in which you relax spiritually – this is the time when inspiration and enlightenment comes.
Posted 21 January 2007 - 07:19 AM
-An examination of why the Shia version of Imamah is compatible with the Quran
-An examination of different classes of verses which deal with the issue of leadership.
-A brief look at generative will (al-iradah al-takwiniyyah) and legislative will (al-iradah al-tashrikiyyah).
-Who are the uli al-amr, those in authority?
Since the Imam [AS] is someone who has a very important role and that is to continue the job of the Prophet [SAW] in presenting true and pure Islam, and also acting as a political leader, he must be masum. To be masum means that he must be someone that is known to be so only by Allah (SWT). The Imam [AS] is appointed by Allah (SWT), and the role of the Prophet [SAW] is just to declare, to announce this to the people. The Prophet [SAW] himself did not appoint, in the sense that it was his own desire or will, the appointment was from Allah (SWT), declared by the Prophet [SAW]. There are texts which show that there was an appointment by Allah (SWT), either in general - to prove that Imamah, must be through Allah’s (SWT) appointment. Or in particular, and that is to prove that Imam Ali [AS] was appointed. Therefore there is a discussion on two level. Generally, the Imams must be appointed by Allah (SWT), secondly after the Prophet [SAW] died, the particular case of who was appointed will be discussed.
There are many verses in the Quran that talk about Imamah – divinely appointed leadership. If we reflect on these verses they leave no doubt that the Shia understanding of Imamah is the only understanding that is compatible with the Quran. There are different classes of verses that talk about this. For example, there are a group of verses in the Quran in which Allah (SWT) talks about amr. For example:-
‘Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o'er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command. Is it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds!’ (7:54)
Amr means to rule, Amir means ruler, master, Amarah means rulership, or kingdom, government. Allah (SWT) is saying that to him belongs both creation khalq and rule amr. We cannot decide on the system of ruling or the person who is to rule according to our own desires or wishes, it is Allah (SWT) who decides who rules and how to rule. There are other verses like the above for example:-
‘If there were a Qur'an with which mountains were moved, or the earth were cloven asunder, or the dead were made to speak, (this would be the one!) But, truly, the command is with Allah in all things! Do not the Believers know, that, had Allah (so) willed, He could have guided all mankind (to the right)? But the Unbelievers,- never will disaster cease to seize them for their (ill) deeds, or to settle close to their homes, until the promise of Allah come to pass, for, verily, Allah will not fail in His promise.’ (13:31)
There is a set of verses in the Quran about hukm. Hukm means governance, in Arabic today it is used the same way, hukumah means government, hakim means king or ruler. Hukm according to the Quran belongs to Allah (SWT) and only those people who are appointed by him can take over this position from the Prophet [SAW]. For example:-
‘Then are men returned unto Allah, their protector, the (only) reality: Is not His the command? and He is the swiftest in taking account.’ (6:62)
Or for example:-
‘Say: "For me, I (work) on a clear sign from my Lord, but ye reject Him. What ye would see hastened, is not in my power. The command rests with none but Allah: He declares the truth, and He is the best of judges." (6:57)
This was the verse that was misused and misinterpreted by the Khawarij. When they wanted to say that the government of Imam Ali [AS] was not legitimate. They were reciting this verse and they were saying that we do not need any leader or ruler, it is only Allah (SWT) that we need. Muslims do not disagree about the necessity of Imamah except the Khawarij. They said that it is only Allah (SWT) who rules, therefore we do not need any actual ruler in the society. Imam Ali [AS] said, ‘This verse is true but they are misusing the verse.’ The verse does not say that you do not need any person to act as a leader or ruler, the verse says it belongs to Allah (SWT) and only those people given legitimacy by Allah (SWT), they can rule. The whole point about the legitimacy of rule coming from Allah (SWT), is something that no-one can have doubt about, in another verse it is interesting to see that Allah (SWT) says:-
‘Say: "Allah knows best how long they stayed: with Him is (the knowledge of) the secrets of the heavens and the earth: how clearly He sees, how finely He hears (everything)! They have no protector other than Him; nor does He share His Command with any person whatsoever.’ (18:26)
[One of the main sources used is a book by Ayatullah Araki, called Nazariyyatun Nass F’il Imamah]
In the other verses it was said that rule belongs to Allah (SWT), here Allah (SWT) says that He does not let anyone interfere with His rule, there is no partner for Allah (SWT) in His rule. It is only Allah (SWT) who has the authority, and Who gives the authority, people cannot interfere. We understand from this verse that one of the cases of shirk, polytheism, is to believe the people can also appoint a leader. People cannot give their legitimacy to a leader. People have a great role in giving support to one who is religiously legitimate. Imams or Wilayah al-faqih do not get their legitimacy from the people, whether the people believe or not they are given legitimacy. If people do not obey them, support them or help them – they cannot do anything. They have to remain in their houses and people will be deprived. Imam Ali [AS] said about what happened after the death of Uthman.
‘If it were not for the gathering and pressure and this huge presence of people, to help me and support me. And if it were not the case that Allah (SWT) has made a covenant with the Ulema not to be silent when they see that oppressors are dying because they have eaten too much, and the oppressed do not have anything to eat. If it were not for all this, then you would have found that I would have rejected this Khilafah. It is less precious to me then the nasal mucus of a sheep.’
The Caliphate was less important to him than this. The Ulama should not be silent and indifferent and because of the large presence and support Imam Ali [AS] could not reject the people. People cannot give legitimacy and make the Imam an Imam, whether people accept or do not accept the Imam [AS], he is still the Imam. If people do accept and support the Imam [AS], he can exercise his power and authority.
The third group of ayah, consists of those ayah about mulk. Mulk is different from milk. Milk means ownership, possession – mulk means to rule, governance. There is in the Quran:-
‘Master of the Day of Judgment.’ (1:4)
Malik means king or ruler, the one who has rule. Malak means angel. Allah (SWT) say to him belongs al-mulk. For example:-
‘Say: "O Allah! Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.’ (3:26)
‘Say: "O Allah! Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest…’ This can have two meanings, legitimate rule comes from Allah (SWT), secondly the people who are actually ruling society are given the chance to rule not necessarily because they are legitimate. Umawwids and people like Muawaiyah said Allah (SWT) gave them the caliphate, but, they may have been given the chance to be caliph, but this does not mean that Allah (SWT) is pleased with that, they are not legitimate. The only ones who are legitimate rulers, are those given legitimate rule by Allah (SWT), they act according to the commands of Allah (SWT). They were given this caliphate because of Allah’s (SWT), generative will (al-iradah al-takwiniyyah), not his legislative will (al-iradah al-tashrkiyyah).
For example some people say that when Imam Husain [AS] was killed was Allah (SWT) happy with that or not? If he was not happy with it he could have stopped the enemy, if he was happy with the enemies actions – they did not do anything wrong because they done something that Allah (SWT) was happy with. What is the answer? There are two ways to have an understanding about Allah’s (SWT) will. If a father or mother gives some money to a child and asks the child to go and buy something useful, for example fruit or books. They want to test the child. The child goes but instead of buying these things, he buys some bad things. Is the father or mother in a sense happy with what the child has done or not? It could be said that they did not like what the child done but at the same time they gave the child the chance to do this thing. If they did not want to test the child they would not have given the child money in the first place. Sometimes, the parent can look at the child who has to for example prepare for an exam, but the child decides to watch tv, and for some reason the parent does not want to stop the child – because he/she may get angry, because the parent may want to test the child to see what they will do. Is the parent happy with this or not? In a sense yes, and in a sense, no. The parent is happy because he can stop the child, the parent is not happy in the sense that he does not like what the child is doing. Because, the parent wants to test the child so therefore he/she lets the child continue to watch.
Whatever happens in this world, whether good or bad, it is because Allah’s (SWT) will al-iradah al-takwiniyyah is there, this does not mean that Allah (SWT) likes the bad things that happen – but he allows these things to happen. Allah (SWT) could have destroyed all these bad things. If someone becomes a king or president – in a sense Allah (SWT) has allowed this, but it does not mean that Allah (SWT) likes this. When Imam Husain [AS] was martyred, Allah (SWT) did not like that, this is why the enemies will be punished for what they done. But at the same time it cannot be said that Yazid did what he did without the permission of Allah (SWT) as the creator of the world. Allah (SWT) the creator and lord of this world gives us free will and power to test us. We may do something according to His legislative will or against His legislative will, but He is so kind that He doesn’t destroy us as soon as we make a mistake or sin – He wants to test us. Muawiyah and other caliphs were misusing verse (3:26), by saying that Allah (SWT) gave them power, this verse does not give legitimacy, and the only people who are legitimate are those appointed by God.
There is another verse:-
‘Their Prophet said to them: "Allah hath appointed Talut as king over you." They said: "How can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted, with wealth in abundance?" He said: "Allah hath Chosen him above you, and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess: Allah Granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. Allah careth for all, and He knoweth all things." (2:247)
This verse is related to the story of Talut, when Allah (SWT) appointed Talut as Malik as ruler – some people disputed that, "How can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted, with wealth in abundance?" . The people said they were more qualified for kingship than Talut, and because they had greater wealth as well. The Prophet said, "Allah hath Chosen him above you, and hath gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess: Allah Granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth. Allah careth for all, and He knoweth all things." This verse is about having a leader in society, and Allah (SWT) says that it is for Him to decide this, and you cannot dispute that decision and decide for yourselves who is more suited. There are many verses in the Quran about Mulk.
The fourth group of verses are those related to the important issue of wilayah. What does wilayah mean for the sake of understanding these verses? Wilayah is a special relationship between a legitimate leader and a community. This relationship excludes strangers, those who are not a part of the faith and the community of faith, they are not at all related to this wilayah. It is like the blood stream which connects all the cells of your body, and all these cells can communicate with each other through this. When something reaches the blood it goes all over the body, in a sense the blood steam connects all the cells of the body. Wilayah is something like this and related to all mu’mineen. There is a brain for the body and that is the Imam [AS] who is legitimate. There are many verses in the Quran about this. For example Allah (SWT) says
‘Say: "Allah knows best how long they stayed: with Him is (the knowledge of) the secrets of the heavens and the earth: how clearly He sees, how finely He hears (everything)! They have no protector other than Him; nor does He share His Command with any person whatsoever.’ (18:26)
Allah (SWT) is the true wali, no-one has any wali other than Allah (SWT), and he does not let anyone interfere with this. Therefore hukm and wilayah are related to each other. He is the wali and he appoints the wali. He has the hukm and he appoints the hakim. He has mulk and he appoints the malik. There is the verse, ayah al-wilayah :-
‘Only Allah is your Vali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.
And whoever takes Allah and His messenger and those who believe for a guardian, then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant.’(5:55-56)
Here wali does not just mean friend – because anyone can be your friend and this aspect does not apply the criteria specified in the verse. Wilayah means leadership, which belongs to Allah (SWT), and he can give this to whoever he is pleased with, the Messenger [SAW], and those who give zakah whilst in ruku – you cannot say that this applies to all mu’minin because there is no recommendation in Islam which says that you should give zakah whilst in ruku, there is no hadith like this – which recommends this. This therefore refers to a particular event (i.e. that in which Imam Ali [AS] gave charity whilst in ruku), and in many cases when ‘those who believe…’ ‘al-ladhina amanu ’ is mentioned it refers to Imam Ali [AS]. Wilayah belongs to Allah (SWT), then the Prophet [SAW] and then whoever is appointed by Allah (SWT), otherwise Allah (SWT) could have said that whoever is appointed and elected by people could be such.
The fifth group of verse is ayah al-ta’a – obedience. There are some verses in the Quran asking Muslims to obey Allah (SWT), obey the Prophet [SAW] and obey uli al-amr, i.e. those who have power, who have command, who are in charge. Allah (SWT) says:-
‘O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.’ (4:59)
Who are these people who must unconditionally be obeyed? It can be no-one other than masum. Because someone who is not masum, if they do something wrong then you cannot follow them – there will be a conflict whether to follow the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet [SAW] or to follow this person. The only people who must be unconditionally be obeyed are the masumin. There is a beatuful point here mentioned by some ulema, this verse is addressing Muslims in the time of the Prophet [SAW] Muslims had to obey Allah (SWT) and the Prophet [SAW] and uli al-amr, who were these people in the time of the Prophet [SAW]? It means that there was a person who was know by Muslims as the one who would be the deputy of the Prophet [SAW]. And even in the time of the Prophet [SAW] if they had problems they had to refer to him. This is confirmed by another verse, which says the same thing:-
‘And when there comes to them news of security or fear they spread it abroad; and if they had referred it to the Messenger and to those in authority among them, those among them who can search out the knowledge of it would have known it, and were it not for the grace of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have certainly followed the Shaitan save a few’ (4:83)
‘…those in authority among them, those among them who can search out the knowledge of it would have known it…’ during the life of the Prophet [SAW] if these people had waited for the view of the Prophet [SAW], and uli al-amr. This indicates the fact Imam Ali [AS] was known during the time of the Prophet [SAW] as being a legitimate leader, and deputy of the Prophet [SAW].
The sixth group of verses is about Allah’s (SWT) choice, ayah al-ikhtiyar. Whom to choose belongs to Allah (SWT). For example
‘And your Lord creates and chooses whom He pleases; to choose is not theirs; glory be to Allah, and exalted be He above what they associate (with Him).
And your Lord knows what their breasts conceal and what they manifest.
And He is Allah, there is no god but He! All praise is due to Him in this (life) and the hereafter, and His is the judgment, and to Him you shall be brought back.’ (28:68-70)
The choice to choose who is a legitimate leader is only with Allah (SWT), and upto Him. But Allah (SWT) continues and says, ‘And your Lord knows what their breasts conceal and what they manifest.’ Some people do not like this choice so they manipulate and interfere. If people are not to interfere in the legitimacy of a ruler why does the Quran says regarding the issue of shura (counsel):-
‘And those who respond to their Lord and keep up prayer, and their rule is to take counsel among themselves, and who spend out of what We have given them.’ (42:38)
Shura is not to give legitimacy to the leader, it is to support a legitimate leader. The Prophet [SAW] is a leader and he had to consult the Muslims. This does not mean the Muslims gave legitimacy to the Prophet [SAW]. This is why the Quran says:-
‘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)
Edited by NormaL_UseR, 21 January 2007 - 07:26 AM.
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