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Imam Zayn-al-Abideen's Treatise On Rights

Ismail ibn al-Fadl reported Thabit ibn Dinar to have said that Imam `Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a) said:

1.    The greatest right of Allah incumbent upon you is that you worship Him without associating anything with Him. When you do that with sincerity, He has made it binding upon Himself to give you sufficiency in the affairs of this world and the next world.

2.    The right of yourself incumbent upon you is that you employ it in obeying Allah the Almighty and All-majestic.

3.    The right of the tongue is that you consider it too noble for obscenity, accustom it to goodness, refrain from any meddling in which there is little to be gained, act charitable towards people and say only nice words about them.

4.    The right of hearing is to keep it aloof from listening to backbiting and hearing what is unlawful to hear.

5.    The right of your sight is that you lower it before everything that is unlawful to see and learn lessons from what you see.

6.    The right of your hand is that you stretch it not toward that which is unlawful to you.

7.    The right of your legs is that you walk not with them toward that which is unlawful to you. Through your legs, you will stop on the Discriminating Bridge; therefore, beware lest they will slip and drive you to Hellfire.

8.    The right of your stomach is that you make it not into a container for that which is unlawful to you and you should not eat more than your fill.

9.    The right of your private part is that you should protect it from adultery and keep it away from the sights of the others.

10.    The right your ritual prayer is that you should know that it is an arrival at the threshold of Allah and that through it you stand before Allah the Almighty and All-majestic. When you realize that, then you will stand in the station of a servant who is lowly, vile, beseeching, trembling, hopeful, fearful, abased, begging, and glorifying the One before Whom you stand with tranquility and solemnity. You must come to your prayer with full awareness and perform it with its conditions and rights.

11.    The right of the Hajj pilgrimage is that you should know that it is an arrival at the threshold of your Lord and a flight to Him from your sins; and through it your repentance is accepted and you perform an obligation made incumbent upon you by Allah the All-exalted.

12.    The right of fasting is that you should know that it is a veil, which Allah the Almighty and All-majestic has set up over your tongue, your hearing and your sight, your private parts and your stomach, to protect you from Hellfire. If you fail to fast, you will tear the screen that Allah has covered you with.

13.    The right of charity is that you should know that it is a storing away with your Lord and a deposit for which you will have no need for witnesses. Then once you know this, you will be more confident of it if you donate it in secret than if you donate it in public. You should know that almsgiving fends off from you misfortunes and ailments in this world, and saves you from Hellfire in the Hereafter.

14.    The right of the offering is that you should dedicate it purely to Allah the Almighty and All-majestic and. you should never dedicate it to any of his creatures, since your one and only goal should be that you want to expose yourself to the mercy of Allah and to the salvation of your soul on the day you will meet Him. 

15.    The right of the possessor of authority is that you should know that Allah has established you as a trial for him. Allah is testing him through the authority He has given him over you. You should not expose yourself to his wrath; otherwise, you cause your own destruction and you become his partner in whatever oppression he commits.

16.    The right of the one who trains you through knowledge is that you should glorify him, respect his meetings, listen well to him, be responsive to him, and you should neither raise your voice louder than his nor answer any question that is posed to him before he answers first, nor speak to anyone in his lecture, nor backbite any person in his presence; rather, you should defend him when something bad is said about him in your presence, cover up his defects, reveal his virtuous acts, and not sit with an enemy of him or incur the animosity of his friends. If you do all that, the angels of Allah the Almighty and All-majestic will testify that you have attended to him and earned his knowledge for the sake of Allah the Almighty and All-majestic but not for the sake of people.

17.    The right of him who trains you through ownership is that you should obey him and never disobey him except when he guides you to matters that bring about the wrath of Allah the Almighty and All-majestic, since no creature should be obeyed in matters that lead to the disobedience to the Creator.

18.    The right of your subjects through authority is that you should know that you have authority over them due to their weakness and your power over them; therefore, it is obligatory upon you to treat them with justice, to act toward them like merciful father, to forgive their ignorance, not to be hasty in punishing them, and to thank Allah the Almighty and All-majestic for the power that He has given you over them.

19.    The right of your subjects through knowledge is that you should know that Allah the Almighty and All-majestic established you as guardian over them through what He has granted you of knowledge and what He has granted authority over His treasures of wisdom. If you do well in teaching these people and in avoiding transgressing and becoming impatient with them, then Allah will increase you more virtues from Him; rather, if you prevent people from getting your knowledge or you fail to give them their dues when they seek knowledge from you, it will be incumbent upon Allah the Almighty and All-majestic to divest you of your knowledge and its brilliance and to remove your position from hearts.

20.    The right of your wife is that you should know that Allah the Almighty and All-majestic has made her repose and a comfort; therefore, you should realize that this is a grace from Allah the Almighty and All-majestic. As a result, you must honor her and treat her mildly even if her duty towards you may be more obligatory than yours towards her. It is yet your duty to show her mercy because she is like a prisoner with you. You should also vouch for her food and clothing. When she makes a mistake, you should forgive her.

21.    The right of your servant is that you should know that he is a creature of your Lord, the son of your father and part of your flesh and blood. You own him not because you fashioned him, but it is Allah Who fashioned him, and you did not create any of his organs or bring him to sustenance; rather it is Allah the Almighty and All-Majestic Who saved you from all that. Then He subjugated him to you, entrusted him to you and provisionally consigned him with you so that he may guard the good that you confer upon him. So, treat him well just as he has treated you well And if you dislike him, you ought to let him go and replace him, but do not torment the creature of Allah the Almighty and All-majestic.

22.    The right of your mother is that you should know that she carried you where no one carries anyone, and she fed you with the fruit of her heart when no one feeds anyone, and she protected you with all of her organs. She did not care if she felt hungry as long as you ate, and if she was naked as long as you were clothed, and if she was thirsty as long as you drank, and if she was under sunlight as long as you were in the shade, and if she was deprived of sleeping as long as you were resting. She protected you from heat and coldness so that you should be there for her. You will never be able to thank her duly unless Allah helps and leads you to success to do so.

23.    The right of your father is that you should know that he is your root and without him, you would not exist. Whenever you see anything in yourself which pleases you, you should know that your father is the root of its blessing upon you. So, praise Allah and thank Him in recognition of that. And there is no power but in Allah. 

24.    And the right of your child is that you should know that he is from you and he will be ascribed to you in this world through both his good deeds and his evil deeds. And you are responsible for what has been entrusted to you in teaching him good conduct, and guiding him toward his Lord the Almighty and All-exalted and helping him to obey Him. So, act towards his affairs the acts of one who knows that he will be awarded for doing good to him and punished for doing evil to him.

25.    The right of your brother is that you should know that he is your hand, your back, and your power. Take him not as a weapon with which to disobey Allah, nor as a means with which to oppress the servants of Allah. Do not neglect to help him against his enemy and to give him good counsel. Then if he obeys his Lord, it is fine; otherwise, Allah must be more preferable and more honorable to you than he is. There is no power except through Allah. 

26.    The right of your master who has done you favors is that you should know that he has spent his property for you and has brought you out of the abasement of slavery and its desolation and brought you into the honor of freedom and its sociability. He has freed you from the captivity of his own possession and has released the bonds of slavery from you. He has brought you out of the prison of subjugation, given you ownership of yourself, and given you the freedom to worship your Lord. You should thus know that he is the closest creature to you in your life and after your death and it is obligatory upon you to support him with your life and with whatever he needs from you. There is no power except through Allah.

27.    The right of the servant whom you have done a favor is that you should know that Allah the Almighty and All-Majestic has made your manumitting of him a means to him and a barrier that shields you against Hellfire. Your reward for this in this worldly life is that you inherit him if he does not have any relations of kin. This is a compensation for the property you have spent for him. In the next world, your reward for setting him free will Paradise.

28.    The right of him who treats you kindly is that you should thank him, acknowledge his kindness, spread the good word around about him, and pray sincerely for him confidentially between Allah the Almighty and All-majestic and yourself. If you do that, you have thanked him both in private and in public. If you are able to practically recompense him one day, then do recompense him.

29.    The right of muezzin (a person who proclaims the hours of prayer) is that you should know that he is the one reminding you of your Lord the Almighty and All-majestic, calling you to your good fortune, and helping you fulfill a duty that Allah has made obligatory upon you to carry out. So, thank him for this just as you thank one who does favors to you.

30.    The right of your leader in your ritual prayer is that you should know that he has taken on the role of a mediator between you and your Lord the Almighty and All-majestic, spoke on behalf of you while you did not speak on behalf of him, supplicated for you while you did not supplicate for him, and spared you the anxiety of standing before Allah the Almighty and All-majestic. Should he perform the prayer imperfectly, he is held responsible for that, but not you; if he performs it perfectly, you will be his partner in reward and he will not be given any additional thing.  So he protected your self through his self and your prayer through his prayer. Therefore, you should thank him for this as much as he deserves.

31.    The right of your sitting companion is that you treat him gently and be fair while talking with him and you should not leave him before obtaining his permission. However, if he is the first to come and sit with you, he can leave you whenever he wishes without need for obtaining your permission. You should overlook his slips, appreciate his good deeds and say only good wording to him.

32.    The right of your neighbor is that you should act as guardian for him when he is absent, honor him when he is present and defend him when he is wronged. You should not pursue any of his imperfections; if you realize a defect issued from him, you must cover it up; if you are sure that he accepts your advices, you should then give him advices secretly. You should not disappoint him in his hardships; rather, you should pardon his slips, forgive his wrongdoings and associate with him nobly.  There is no power except through Allah. 

33.    The right of your friend is that you should act as his friend through favoring him and acting towards him fairly and you should honor him as same as he honors you and you never allow him to come ahead of you in doing favors; rather, if he does, then you should award him for that. You should love him as same as he loves you and prevent him from doing any act of disobedience. You should also act as mercy to him and you should never be as source of torture to him. There is no power except through Allah.

34.    The right of the partner is that you should take care of his affairs in his absence and take care of him when he is present. Do not decide on something before listening to his opinion and do not act upon your opinion before discussing the matter with him. You should guard his property and never betray him, both in significant and insignificant affairs. Verily, the help of Allah the All-blessed and All-exalted is extended to the partners as long as they do not act unfaithfully towards one another. There is no power except through Allah.

35.    The right of your property is that you should not attain it except by legitimate means and you should only spend it for legitimate causes. Do not prefer to yourself that which does not benefit you; rather, you should spend it in domains of obedience to Your Lord. You should not withhold your property; otherwise, you will receive nothing but regret, remorse, and liability. There is no power except through Allah.

36.    The right of him whom you owe is that you should pay him back if you have the means to do so. But if you are in hardship, you should satisfy him by using nice words and make him give you respite through gentle means.

37.    The right of the associate is that you should not mislead, cheat, lie to, or fool him; rather, you should fear Allah the All-blessed and All-exalted with regard to him.

38.    The right of the adversary who has a claim against you is that if his claim against you is true, you should be a fair judge against yourself, you should not do injustice to him, and you should give him his due. Yet, if his claim against you is false, then you should be lenient to him and you should not impose upon him anything except lenience and should not bring about the wrath of your Lord with regard his claim. There is no power except through Allah.

39.    The right of the adversary against whom you have a claim is that if your claim against him is true, then you should use pleasant words while you are filing your claim and you should not disprove of his right. Yet, if your claim against him is false, then you should fear Allah the Almighty and All-Majestic, repent to him and retreat your claim.

40.    The right of him who seeks your advice is that if you come to know that you can give him good advice, then you should give him so; otherwise, you may guide him to what he does not know.

41.    The right of him whose advice you seek is that you should not accuse him when he gives you advice which does not conform to your own opinion. If his opinion is accepted by you, then you should thank Allah the Almighty and All-majestic.

42.    The right of him who seeks your counsel is that you should give him your counsel as much as you think he can bear. The method you follow with him should be based on mercy and lenience to him.

43.    The right of your counselor is that you should treat him you gently and be whole-heartedly attentive to him. If what he presents to you is right, you should praise Allah the Almighty and All-majestic for it; but if he is wrong, then you should be merciful to him, you should not accuse him, and you should know that he was wrong although you should not punish him for that unless he deserves accusation. So, do not care for him anymore under any circumstances. There is no power except through Allah.

44.    The right of him who is older than you are is that you should respect him because of his age and honor him for he had been Muslim before you were. You should also avoid facing him in disputes, walking ahead of him, and deeming him ignorant. If he should treat you foolishly, you should put up with him and honor him to respect his being an older Muslim and enjoying the inviolability decided by Islam.

45.    The right of him who is younger than you are is to show him mercy in teaching him, to pardon him, to cover up his mistakes, to treat him leniently, and to help him.

46.    The right of him who begs from you is that you should give him as much as he needs.

47.    The right of him from whom you beg is that you should accept from him whatever he grants you with gratitude and you should acknowledge his favors. You should accept his excuse if he withholds.

48.    The right of him who gives you pleasure for the sake of Allah thee All-exalted is that you should first praise Allah the All-exalted for that and secondly thank him.

49.    The right of him who wrongs you is that you should pardon him. However, if you are sure that pardon will increase his arrogance, you may then get your due from him by defending yourself. Allah the All-blessed and All-exalted says, "But indeed if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong done to them, against such there is no blame. (24/41)"

50.    The right of the people of your creed is that you should wholeheartedly provide safety for them, gently show them mercy, treat their wrongdoers with lenience, treat them with friendliness, seek their welfare, thank those of them who do good deeds to you, stop injuring them, love for them whatever you love for yourself, hate for them whatever you have for yourself, and treat the elders as your fathers, the youths as your brothers, the old women as your mothers, and the children as your own children.

51.    The right of those under the protection of Islam is that you should accept from them what Allah the Almighty and All-majestic has accepted from them, you should not wrong them as long as they fulfill their covenants with Allah the Almighty and All-majestic.

Source: Makaram Al-Akhlaq (Nobility of Character) by Al-Hasan ibn al-Fadl al-Tabarsi PG667-674

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