GREATER SINS Volume I
Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma
Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
Syed Athar Husain S.H. Rizvi
ISLAMIC STUDY CIRCLE
P.O. Box No. 5011
Mumbai 400 009. (India)
All Praise is due to Allah Who guided us to this (path) and if He had not guided us we would not have been guided (aright).(Surah Aa'raaf 7:43)
All Praise if for Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful may His choicest blessings be on His last Prophet - Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and his holy Progeny.
Islamic Study Circle has been involved in the translation of Allama Dastghaib Shirazi's book Gunahane Kabira Vol. I and II in Gujarati and is soon to release the final volume, Vol. III.
The overwhelming response to the Gujarati translation has led to a demand for this English translation - Vol. I, which has been possible with the support and encouragement of various momineen - May Allah reward them all.
We thank Almighty Allah (a.j.) for the Tawfeeq (inspiration) and Asbaab (resources) granted to us to undertake this task and seek the continuous support and indulgence of His final Hujjat (a.t.f.s.) to guide us to the completion of this work.
Momineen are requested to bear in mind that although effort has been made to preserve the "spirit" of the orignal Persian book; this being a translation; discerning readers may find discrepancies.
We humbly request you to communicate to us your comments and suggestions regarding anything found worthy of correction in the present volume.
Islamic Study Circle.
Our sins strike him like arrows.
When he examines the scrolls of our deeds,
He weeps at our sins.
We dedicate the book
To this same Infallible Personality.
May Allah hasten his Reappearence.
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate the Merciful
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and benedictions upon the Messenger of Allah and his Purified Progeny (a.s.)
By the Grace of the Almighty, the first volume of "Greater Sins" has been completed in English.
The significance of Moral Science and Ethics is evident from the words of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) when he has described the aim of his advent. He said, "I have been sent for perfecting the morals."
The learned Aalim, Ayatullah Dastghaib was one of the greatest Muallim-ul-akhlaq (Teacher of Moral Science). Some of his important books are Gunahane Kabira, Qalbe Saleem, Maad, Barzakh etc. His books cover various moral and ethical issues.
The book Gunahane Kabira deals with Greater Sins. Ayatullah Dastghaib has exhaustively explained the phenomenon of sin, the classification of sins, and the necessity of avoiding sins. He has also described fifty different types of Greater Sins.
Although the English translation is based on the Urdu Edition, I have relied upon the original Arabic text while translating traditions and Quranic verses.
Since the English equivalents of Islamic terminology do not convey the exact meaning, I have used the Arabic terms. However those who are not conversant with Arabic words may refer to the Glossary of Islamic Terms.
Syed Athar Husain S.H.Rizvi.
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate the Merciful
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and benedictions upon the Messenger of Allah and his Purified Progeny (a.s.)
By the Grace of the Almighty, the first volume of "Greater Sins" has been completed in English.
The significance of Moral Science and Ethics is evident from the words of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) when he has described the aim of his advent. He said, "I have been sent for perfecting the morals."
The learned Aalim, Ayatullah Dastghaib was one of the greatest Muallim-ul-akhlaq (Teacher of Moral Science). Some of his important books are Gunahane Kabira, Qalbe Saleem, Maad, Barzakh etc. His books cover various moral and ethical issues.
The book Gunahane Kabira deals with Greater Sins. Ayatullah Dastghaib has exhaustively explained the phenomenon of sin, the classification of sins, and the necessity of avoiding sins. He has also described fifty different types of Greater Sins.
Although the English translation is based on the Urdu Edition, I have relied upon the original Arabic text while translating traditions and Quranic verses.
Since the English equivalents of Islamic terminology do not convey the exact meaning, I have used the Arabic terms. However those who are not conversant with Arabic words may refer to the Glossary of Islamic Terms.
Syed Athar Husain S.H.Rizvi.
A Short Biography of Ayatullah Dastaghaib
A Short Biography of Ayatullah Dastaghaib
Martyr Ayatullah Dastghaib was a nobleman from a highly religious family that was known for its intellectual heritage going back to 800 years. Due to religious and spiritual atmosphere, resulting from such a sound Islamic background he had a natural and spontaneous tendency towards acquiring knowledge. After obtaining elmentary education in his hometown, he moved towards Najaf-e-Ashraf (Iraq) in pursuit of higher knowledge.
In the town of the abode of the Chief of the believers, Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.), he continued his studies associating with the various scholars and teachers. Soon his knowledge reached a stage such that, he was granted permission by the Maraja of that time to practise Ijtehad. He then returned to his native town of Shiraz. In Shiraz he spent lacs of tumans for the construction of the Jame Masjid Ateq which was in a highly dilapidated condition. There, he began to lecture on the exegesis of the Quran and ethics. His persistent efforts raised the standard of education of the Hauz-e-Ilmia of Shiraz in the various fields of Fiqh, Beliefs and Moral science. The irreligious and tyrannical Shah imposed restrictions upon him and he was arrested many times. He was also put under house arrest by the autocratic ruler. After the success of the Islamic revolution, he was elected a representative at the Majlis (Iranian Parliament).
At the instance of the people of Shiraz he was designated as the representative of Imam Khomeini. The post of Imam of Jame Masjid of Shiraz was also bestowed upon him.
Martyr Dastghaib has left behind innumerable works. The most remarkable of these are: Gunahaane Kabeera (Greater Sins), Qalb-e-Saleem, Salaatal Khashaeen, Ma'ad, Tauba, Zindagani-e-Hazrat Zahra and Zainab-e-Kubra. Apart from these he has penned dozens of books on the improvement of morals, Fiqh and the exegesis of Quran. Hence, he was an excellent model of spirituality with a lofty character and a loving nature.
On that fateful day (in the year 1984) as he was proceeding to lead the Friday congregation, he was brutally killed in a bomb explosion by the hypocrites (the Capitalist agents).
Taqwa The Reality of Taqwa
The Reality of Taqwa
The word 'Taqwa' is derived from the root 'waqaya' which means 'to safeguard' or 'to abstain'. In the Islamic terminology it is defined as the action of restraining oneself from disobeying the commands of Allah. When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked to elaborate on the meaning of the word, 'Taqwa' he replied, "Submit to the command (of Allah) and do not go near the prohibited." It means that one should endeavor to fulfill all the commands of Allah and abstain from the prohibited things. On the basis of this, Taqwa is classified into two types:
The first type of Taqwa consists of compulsory obedience to Allah in fulfilling the compulsory duties (wajibaat) and not leaving even a single duty unperformed. The obligatory commands (wajibaat) are those which, if not carried out, invite the wrath of Allah. Also, as far as possible one should try not to forgo the recommended acts (Mustahabbaat). The recommended acts are those, which if performed earn blessings but if not carried out do not make one liable for punishment.
Sin Obliterates the Good Deeds
Certain Greater Sins (Gunah-e-kabira) render the good deeds void, the details of which will follow in the coming discussions. In brief, it must be mentioned that to refrain from sins is more important than performing good deeds. The following narrations are quoted in support of this statement:
The Importance of Abstaining From the Prohibited
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"To refrain from eating a single morsel of Haraam is, near Allah, more valued than the performance of two thousand rakats of recommended prayer."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"To forgo a single dirham of prohibited money, is equal near Allah, to seventy accepted Hajjs."
"Strive more to perform good deeds. However if you cannot perform a good act (at least) do not disobey (the commands of Allah). Because if one lays the foundation of a building and does not spoil it, then, even if the progress is slow, the building will definitely rise. (Conversely) The person who lays the foundation and at the same time spoils it, then it is sure that the walls of this building will never be raised."
(Iddatud-Dai, page 235)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"For the person who recites 'Subhanallah', Allah plants a tree in Paradise."
On hearing this a man from Quraish stood up and said, "If it is this way, then there must be many trees for us in the Paradise?" The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"Yes, but you must beware that you don't set fire from here to burn them all down."
(Iddatud-Dai page 235)
"Jealousy devours belief, like fire devours wood."
Ill-Gotten Wealth Burns Down The Acts of Worship
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"On the Day of Judgement there would be people whose good deeds will be as heavy as the mountains of Tahama. Inspite of this it would be ordered that they be tossed into the fire of Hell."
Upon this someone said, "O! the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.), were these people performing salaat (prayers)?",
"Yes, they used to pray, and fast, and also spend a part of the night in worship. But, whenever they chanced upon something which gave them pleasure, they used to rush to it without thinking whether it was right or wrong."
Not Giving the Rights of the People
A Barrier for the Acceptance of Good Deeds
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"I have been commanded by Allah to warn my people and say, 'Do not go from one mosque to another while someones rights are upon you. If such a person stands up for prayers in that condition, I send my curses upon him till he restores the rights to its owner." (Iddatud-Dai page 236)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"There is an angel of Allah who raises the call every night from 'Baitul Muqaddas': "Whoever partakes of the prohibited things, Allah does not accept any of his deeds be they obligatory or recommended."
Good Deeds are Accepted Only if Accompanied by Piety.
(Abstinence From the Prohibited Things)
"Even if you stand for prayers like a tent peg planted on the ground and keep fasting till you resemble a dried stick and stoop like a bow, Allah will not accept any of your deeds till you have the piety to guard against the evil deeds."
Sin is a Barrier to the Acceptance of Invocation (Dua)
Hazrat Musa (a.s.) passed by a person from his followers who was in prostration. After completing his chore Musa (a.s.) returned to find him still in prostration. He said, "If I had the power to grant your wish I would surely have granted it." Allah revealed to Musa (a.s.) that, "Even if this man prostrates for Me till his head gets detached from his neck, I will not accept his deeds, till he abstains from that which I dislike and does that which pleases Me. Otherwise sin hinders the supplications from acceptance."
(pg. 125 ibid)
Refraining From Sins is Genuine Worship
"Abstaining from sins is the basis of religion. Hence, refrain from sins in order to become the most pious worshipper. Adorn yourself with piety. Do not perform a single good deed without piety. Surely that deed is most acceptable by Allah which is accompanied by piety, even though it may be trifle. As Allah says, "Allah accepts the good deeds only from the pious people."
Hence if you succeed in remaining aloof from sins, then even if your good deeds are paltry, they would be accepted by the Lord. And when the Lord of the Worlds accepts a deed it cannot be termed as trifle or paltry.
Avoidance of Sins is a Must:
Considering the tradition quoted above one is compelled to conclude that it is necessary to dread sinful acts and to be ever cautious of the vices. Only then are the good actions of any consequences. The good deeds must also be performed in such a manner that we strive to emulate as closely as possible the examples set by the high ideals of our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). It should not be that good actions are rendered null and void due to sins. It is necessary to be careful of such an impending loss and disaster for which we ourselves would be responsible.
Good Actions Could Be Blown Away Like Dust
Sulaiman bin Khalid says; " I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the Quranic verse
(And We will proceed to what they have done of deeds, so We shall render them as scattered floating dust.
(Surah Furqan 25:23)
"By Allah, even if their deeds are as white as Egyptian cotton, but if they find sin and lewdness they do not abstain from it."
In other words, their good deeds are scattered like dust due to the lack of piety, and hence are of no value at all. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the explanation of this tradition, "Worship and obedience is rendered null due to sin."
A Large Number of Pious People Will Enter Paradise
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Allah revealed to Hazrat Musa (a.s.), "Verily, My slave cannot achieve nearness to Me without the three things which I like." Musa (a.s.) asked with reverance, "My Lord what are those three things?" Allah replied, "O! Musa those three things are: To practice piety in this world, to abstain from sins and to weep due to fear." Musa (a.s.) asked, "Does one who fulfills the three things gets compensation and reward?" Allah replied, "One who practices piety in this world will get Paradise. One who weeps due to My fear will be accorded such a high position that no else would be able to reach it. The deeds of all the creatures shall be accounted. But one who abstains from that which I have forbidden, then accounting of his deeds will not be carried out; he would be admitted to Heaven directly."
Greater Sins And Smaller Sins
GREATER SINS AND
Abstaining From the Greater Sins Cause the Lesser Sins to be Overlooked
If one avoids the Greater Sins, the Lesser sins shall be overlooked. Allah, the Almighty, by His grace, excuses the Lesser sins. As it is mentioned in the following verse of the Holy Qur'an
"If you shun the Greater Sins which you are forbidden, We will do away with your smaller sins and cause you to enter an honourable place of entering."
(Surah Nisa 4: 31)
The Gates of Paradise are Open for the Pious
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said,
"I swear by Allah, in Whose power is my life, there is not a single person who prays five times a day, fasts during the month of Ramadhan and abstains from sins that the gates of Paradise will not be opened for him."
After this he recited the Qur'anic verse quoted above.
(Tafseer Minhaajus Saadeqeen)
A person who commits a Greater Sin and does not repent for it, is a transgressor. Namaz is not allowed behind him (he cannot lead a prayer assembly). His testimony is unacceptable. After death, he is liable for Divine punishment. By the Grace of Allah such a person may yet get salvation; and the Grace of Allah that can make this possible is the intercession of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and his Progeny (a.s.).
As the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says in one of his traditions:
"My intercession has been kept for the sinful among my followers."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.3).
He (s.a.w.s.) also said,
"My intercession is specially for the sinful ones among my followers. But those who abstain from the Greater Sins, for them there is no accounting (of deeds)."
That is, they would be admitted to Paradise right away.
Intercession Should not Prompt one to Commit Sins
There is hardly any doubt regarding the reality of Shafa'at (intercession). Actually it is the right bestowed upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the purified Imams (a.s.), by Allah, to show their greatness and position. The other aim of intercession is to make their respect evident. The people who have committed Greater Sins shall be entrusted to them. By the grace of their intercession the sinful people will be able to ascend the heights like other groups of people. All this is evident from the Holy Qur'an and the authentic reports. It is also clear from Mutawatir (most frequently related) traditions. It would be needless to relate all such traditions for such a short discussion.
Only one point must be stressed at this stage. Intercession should not be taken as a license for committing sins nor should it make one heedless of repentance.
Suicide in the Hope of Salvation
To sin and not to repent in the hope of intercession is akin to consuming poison or putting ones hand in the snake's mouth with the hope that a doctor would arrive and cure you. It is against logic, because after consuming poison it cannot be taken for granted that medical assistance would be available. Even if a doctor and medicines arrive on time it is still difficult to say that life would be saved. Before the medicine could have any effect the poison may spread to the whole body and death may occur.
In the same way, one who performs lewd actions in the hope that he would be interceded after death; cannot be sure that intercession will come to the rescue immediately.
Death is of Three Types
Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) has related from his forefathers that Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was queried by someone about death. He replied,
"You have come to the knowledgeable (personality)." "Death occurs to a person in one of the three ways:
He is given the good news of everlasting bounties, or informed of the never-ending retribution or he remains in a perpetual state of terror and fear.
His affair remains undecided and unpredictable, and it is not known about the kind of future that awaits him. Then (you must know) that our devotee who is obedient of our command and does not sin, is given the good news of everlasting bounties. But our opponent shall forever be involved in Divine punishment. And the person who has been unjust to his soul and who has abused it will be found in an unsure condition. Unaware of what the future will hold. Such a person is a sinner whose death will be accompanied with terror and fear. But Allah will not consider him on the same level as our enemy. Rather he would be removed from Hell because of our intercession.
Then, act (rightly) and obey the commandments of Allah. Do not consider the Divine punishment to be trifle, and certainly there are such people who would not be able to receive our intercession till after 3,00,000 years."(Behaarul Anwaar vol.3 quoted from Ma'aniul Akhbaar)
I am Concerned About You Regarding Barzakh
Umar ibne Yazid says that, "I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "I have heard you saying that all our Shia's will enter Heaven however sinful they may be?" Imam replied,
"By Allah I had truly said, they shall all belong to Heaven."
Then I asked, "May my life be sacrificed upon you, even if their sins are great and in large number?" Imam said,
"All of you (Shias) shall enter Paradise by the intercession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or his successors on the Day of Judgement. But, by Allah I fear for you the Barzakh."
I asked,"What is Barzakh?"
"Barzakh is the grave. Its duration commences from the time of death until the Day of Judgement."
Tears of Blood
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) called the attention of Ibne Masud and imparted some advice to him. He said in this regard.
"Never imagine a sin to be trifle and small and abstain from the Greater Sins, because, on the Day of Judgement, when the slave beholds his sins, tears of blood and puss shall flow from his eyes. At that moment Allah shall say, "This is the day when everyone shall see his good or bad deeds, and wish there be a great distance between them and their sins."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.17)
It is also related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said,
"Verily, a person shall be kept imprisoned in Hell for a hundred years for each of the sins (that he commits)."
No Intercession for Those Who Regard Namaz Unimportant
Making light of Salaat is counted among the Greater Sins. It is mentioned in some reports that the one who considers the prayers unimportant is not eligible for intercession.
Thus Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Our intercession is not for those who consider the Prayers unimportant."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Our intercession is not for those who considered the Prayers lightly."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.3)
It is related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"One who considers prayers unimportant is not from me. By Allah, he is not from me. By Allah, he cannot reach near me at the Haudh-e-Kauthar." (the cistern in Paradise)
The above discussion makes it evident that not avoiding sins, committing sins blatantly and then repenting in the hope of intercession is foolishness and a sign of arrogance and negligence.
Excessive Sins Destroy the Faith (Belief)
Whatever has been mentioned in the discussion of intercession states that intercession comes to the rescue when the person concerned has died with correct belief. It happens, sometimes that, due to excessive involvement in sins and delay in repentance, faith in religion is erased from the heart. Subsequently he enters the limit of doubt and reaches the point of denial (Kufr). At this time if he is taken away by death, such a person is similar to the one who had consumed poison in the false hope that the doctor would save his life. But when the doctor arrives, death had already preceded him. What can the doctor do to cure him. In the same way the request of the intercessors is ineffective for the one who has died as an unbeliever.
"So the intercession of intercessors shall not avail them."
(Surah Muddassir 74:48)
In order to prove my statement I propose to quote one verse from the Holy Qur'an and two traditions:
"Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the communications of Allah and used to mock them."
(Surah Rome 30:10)
Sins Blacken the Heart
The first tradition is reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): He said,
"There is no man who does not have a white spot in his heart. When he commits a sin a black spot emerges from this spot. If he repents, the blackness goes away but if he sinks in sin and continues to sin the blackness keeps on increasing till it surrounds the whiteness of the heart completely. When the white spot is totally covered by the blackness, the owner of this heart will never revert towards goodness. This tradition is in consonance with the utterance of Allah:
"By no means! But on their hearts is the stain of the (ill) which they do."
(Surah Mutaffefeen 83:14)
The Blackened Heart is Immune to Advice and Counsel
The people with the 'blackened heart' are totally unaffected by any counsel because their sins have caused the darkness to spread all over their heart. The loss of the inner eye prevents them from perceiving truths nor can they recognise the truth when they see it. They cannot accept any exhortation and revert to the path of virtue. It is in this connection that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains:
"A man resolves to perform a sinful action but does not act upon it, but sometimes does commit it; Allah sees him and says: "By My Glory, after this I shall never forgive you."
According to another report, the person (sinner) is kept away from the Mercy of Allah due to his sin. He also does not get the impetus to seek repentance, hence his sin is never forgiven. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the explanatory note of the above tradition: "The purport of this tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is that, the Imam has commanded us to fear all types of sins because every sin seems to be such that it may not qualify being overlooked.
To Be Fearful of the Past Sins
The believing people should always be fearful of the sins committed in the past and should weep for them since we do not know which of our sins can bring about out destruction. The Imam (a.s.) has not informed us of any sin that we can ignore and remain bereft of the Mercy of Allah. However, it is certain that the sin for which we have not repented would be sure to prevent our salvation. So we must enter the domain of Allah's grace through the door of repentance. We should sincerely repent for those sins, which are forgotten by us and especially seek forgiveness of those sins that we remember. The method of repenting shall be explained later Inshallah.
Intercession Should Neither Raise False Hope, Nor be a Cause to be Arrogant
The preceding discussion has shown that the element of intercession does not become the cause of arrogance and disobedience. Rather, intercession imparts strength to the sinner in a state of despair. It creates in him the habit of repenting with fervour. Consequently, he would be able to reach a high position and achieve nearness to the Lord of the Worlds.
The Fear and Dread of Sins is Still Necessary
It should not be so, that a person is hopeful of intercession and is negligent at the same time. Along with the hope of intercession the fear of Allah is also a must. Because fear is not contrary to intercession. The one who is hopeful of the grace and mercy of the Almighty Lord may also experience fear. Otherwise he may not be able to obtain intercession of his masters [The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.)] for a very long time. In other words, such a person would be able to receive intercession only after being afflicted with the punishment of the grave for a long period of time. In the meantime the fear, awe, agony, suffering and misery that he is experiencing, may become the cause for him to receive intercession of the purified Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). It may also spur him to be attached to them steadily.
The Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)
One of the traditions concerning the position of the Shias and the lovers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) states that the fire of Hell cannot scorch them. Thus, these types of traditions impart strength to our hope. Our love for the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is certainly a surety for us but it should not tempt us to commit sins blatantly.
Shia and Mohib
The traditions regarding this subject are based on two important points. The first is concerned with 'Shia' and the second 'Mohibs' (Admirers) of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The position and status of those Shias who have achieved excellence in the field of knowledge and good deeds is definitely higher. Even so, such people did not consider themselves fit to be called the Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Take the example of Muhammad bin Muslim Thaqafi. He was the honourable companion (Sahaabi) of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). Both the Holy Imams (a.s.) have recommended him to the Shias for solving their religious problems. Muhammad bin Muslim Thaqafi has also been mentioned as the greatest Jurist of his time in the books of Rijal (Chain of narrators).
On one occasion Muhammad bin Muslim along with Abu Karibatul Azdi went to see Qazi Shareek. Shareek glared at him in anger and said, "These two are Ja'fari and Fatimi!" [Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)]. Upon hearing this, both of them began to cry bitterly. When the Qazi enquired the reason for their lamentation, they replied, "You have associated us with such a lofty personality [Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)]!. Are people like us who lack in piety and abstinence to be compared with such an exalted person? What connection does the dust have with the Divine existence? (A Persian saying). We shall be highly obliged to you if you can accept our request (and give us not the title that we do not deserve)."
The True Shias are Those Who Follow (Obey) the Imams (a.s.)
Yes, we can give the title of 'Shia' to that individual who follows the Imams (a.s.) in all aspects of character and speech. Thus, Bab-ul-Hawaij Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says:
"Our shias are only those who follow us (in every respect), walk in our footsteps and imitate our actions."
Conversation of Ali (a.s.) With Some Shias
On a certain evening Ali (a.s.) was departing from the mosque. The surroundings were bright due to the moonlight. He saw behind him a group of people walking towards him. He enquired as to who they were? They said: "We are your Shias." Ali (a.s.) looked at their faces carefully and said.
"Why is it that your faces do not exhibit any sign of you being a Shia?".
"Master, what are the signs of a Shia?"
"Their faces are pale due to excessive worship and the fear of Allah, their backs are bent due to prolonged prayers, too much fasting causes their abdomen to touch their backbones, their lips become dry be repeating endless invocations, and their hearts are filled with the fear of Allah."
(Behaarul Anwaar, Al-Irshad).
Now I shall quote three traditions for the benefit of the readers:
Mere Claim is not Sufficient
1) Jabir (a.r.) relates from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"Is it sufficient for one to associate himself with Shiaism and say that, "I am a lover of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)? By Allah, our Shia is not, but the one who fears Allah and obeys His Commands."
2) Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) told Mufazzal bin Umar,
"If you wish to see one of our devotees then look for that person who abstains from sins and fears more His Creator and remains hopeful of His reward. Whenever you find such an individual then take it for granted that he is one of my devotees."
3) Isa bin Abdulla Qummi entered in the presence of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). The Imam said,
"That person is not from us nor do we hold him in esteem, the one who, if he lives in a town of a population of hundred thousand and there is even one non-Shia who is more pious than him."
Thus the belief, actions and the piety of the Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) should be such that they should be the best and none should excel them. Allah has defined such people 'Khairul Bareeya' in the Holy Qur'an:
"(As For) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of men."
(Surah Bayyanah 98:7)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have explained that 'Khairul Bareeya' connotes the Shias of Ali (a.s.):
"O Ali, 'Khairul Bareeya' means you and your Shias. On the Day of Judgement, they would be satisfied with what Allah has bestowed upon them and they shall be liked by Allah. (Tafseer Tabarsi, Manaqib Khwaarazmi, Ibne Hajar).
There is not an iota of doubt that the one who possesses the Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) would be deserving of salvation. In fact, he shall be with the Prophets (s.a.w.s.) and the Pure Imams (a.s.). Imam Reza (a.s.) said:
"Allah shall collect our Shias on the Day of Judgement in such a condition that their faces shall be aglow with (radiance). His arguments would be lighted (manifest) and his proof shall be obvious before Allah. It is upon Allah to collect our Shias with the Prophets, the martyrs and the truthful ones on the Day of Judgement. These personalities are the best of the loyalists."
The Meaning of Wilayat
It is written in the book Majmaul Bahraen regarding the meaning of the word 'Wilayat': "Wilayat is the love for Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), the natural consequence of which is to follow them in religious matters, to fulfil the obligations laid down on us and to abstain from the things prohibited. Wilayat is to walk in the footsteps of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) following their ways in deeds, behaviour and manner of speech."
Wilayat therefore means love and obedience. This idea is supported by a tradition from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) wherein the Holy Imam (a.s.) has related love with obedience.
Wilayat of Ali (a.s.) is a Strong Fort of Allah
The tradition explaining this concept is to be found in the tradition of Silsilatuz Zahab. It is related by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) from Imam Reza (a.s.). It is as follows:
"Allah says, "The Wilayat of Ali ibne Abi Talib is My fort. Then one who enters My Fort is safe from My wrath (Ghazab)."
(Oyoon al Akhbaar ar Reza).
There is no doubt that entering the Wilayat of the purified Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) implies taking refuge with the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), to abstain from all unlawful acts and to remain aloof from their enemies. The word "Tahassum" denotes 'taking refuge in an established fort' and it also suggests that the refuge is not only physical in nature but of a moral form (in spirit) as well. It is therefore imperative to take refuge with these exalted personalities and to follow their superior examples in all aspects of speech and behaviour. In short one who follows them has actually taken refuge in their fort.
Verbal Claim Unaccompanied by Actions is Insufficient
After describing the qualities of the Shias, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) observed;
"O Jabir, is it enough for one, to say that 'I love Ali (a.s.) and I have achieved his Wilayat,' whereas he does not act upon it?"
"If someone says, "Surely, I love the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) because he was superior to Ali (a.s.) and I am Shia-e-Muhammad." Inspite of this claim he does not follow the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) whom the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had ordered to follow. It is surprising that even after claiming to love the Prophet they do not follow his Purified Progeny (Ahlul Bayt a.s.). Mere claim of love is not sufficient."
Success is Through Actions Alone
The tradition continues,
"O Jabir, the nearness of Allah is not achieved without His obedience. When our Shias do not have obedience and action (to their credit) we have no authority to free them from Hell. Merely a verbal claim, "I am a Shia" is not sufficient argument for Allah. (If Allah wills he can involve him in punishment; Allah has not promised to bestow salvation upon the claimants of Shiaism- the criteria are obedience and good actions). Then, only one who obeys Allah is our Walee (lover) and the one who is a sinner is our enemy and our Wilayat cannot be achieved but by piety and good deeds."
Types of Taqwa According to Allama Majlisi
According to Allama Majlisi (r.a.) there are four types of 'Taqwa'
1. 'Wara-e-Ta'beeri- which means to abstain from the prohibited things.
2. 'Wara-e-Saleheen'- To abstain from doubtful things so that one may not commit a Haraam act.
3. 'Wara-e-Muttaqeen'- To abstain from permissible things so that one is absolutely protected from 'Haraam'.
4. 'Wara-e-Sadeqeen'- To avoid everything that is not religious so that one may not waste precious time in useless acts, even though there may not be any risk of committing a sin.
According to traditions, both from the Shia and the Sunni sources, it is established that love protects one from being a slave of one's desires and Shaitan. This is because the love of an exalted personality entails that we also love his friends and hate his enemies. The friendship of Shaitan and the following of one's evil desires are two of the biggest hurdles in one's love for Allah and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).
Insha Allah the followers of Ali (a.s.), by the blessing of his love will remain away from the path of Shaitan. Thus, love (for Ahlul Bayt) protects one from evil rather than make him susceptible to sins. In order to explain this idea a few traditions are mentioned below:
Love Makes a Man Steadfast
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"Whoever has been bestowed the love of Ali (a.s.) in his heart by Allah, is not prone to wavering (from his path) but he becomes steadfast on the path of Allah) and also towards other (matters)."
The Testimony of Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari (r.a.)
Hazrat Jabir ibne Abdulla Ansari (r.a.) says: If the first step of the lovers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is in the wrong direction due to excess sins the next step is guided aright by (the grace of) their love.
The Angels Seek Forgiveness for the Partisans of Ali (a.s.)
According to the traditions of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), it is an established fact that even the angels ask forgiveness (on behalf) of the followers of Ali (a.s.). A tradition is quoted in Behaarul Anwaar from the Sunni sources in this regard. Anas relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said,
"Allah has created seventy thousand angels from the light of Ali ibne Abi Talib's face. These angels will (continue to) ask forgiveness (on his behalf and on the behalf of his devotees) till the Day of Judgement."
Devotion for Ali (a.s.) Consumes Our Sins
The love and devotion for Hazrat Ali (a.s.) destroys one's sins as is proved by the numerous reports. Behaarul Anwaar has the following tradition related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by Ibne Abbas (r.a.):
"Love of Ali (a.s.) consumes the sins like fire consumes wood."
There is a Persian 'Qata' (four-line poem) which summarises this discussion as follows:
The love of Ali (a.s.) removes the darkness of the heart like the moon and the stars illuminate the night. Salvation will be based on ones love for him and not ones worship deeds.
But those who are his devotees, must also rely upon the Merciful (God). We should not be satisfied only with this devotion and forget Allah.
Difficulties and Calamities Nullify the Sins
The Almighty Allah imposes difficulties and sends calamities to the sinful people among the followers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) This is because He wishes to cleanse them of their sins so that they are not liable to any punishment after death. If the sins are more, then he gets a difficult death and if the sins are still in excess then he is punished in Barzakh (grave) upto the Day of Judgement.
It is also stated in the traditions that if there is a sinner whose sins are so much that even after all the punishment they are not expiated; then that person will be interned in the Hell-fire till he has recompensed for the remaining sins. The devotee of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) shall not remain in the fire forever. The everlasting punishment is only for the unbelievers and the enemies of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)
The Rewards are Proportionate to the Intensity of Love
Another point to be remembered is that, the intensity of one's devotion is the means for the early forgiveness of ones sins. If love is more, the intercession is swift. Even the painful moments of death are converted into comfort by the help of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). There was a poet by the name of Sayyid Himyari who died in 173 A.H. He was an ardent devotee of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and has composed a Qasida (panegyric) on each and every quality of this exalted personality. Whenever there was a Majlis (gathering) in the honour of Ahle Bayt (a.s.) he always insisted upon reciting one of his poems. Various books of the Shias and Sunnis, like Al-Ghadeer (vol.3), Kitab Aghani, Manaqib Sarwari, Kashful Ghumma, Amaali of Shaikh Sadooq, Basharatul Mustafa and Rijaal Kashi mention about him. The following is the gist of the miraculous happenings at the time of his death.
Sayyid was very handsome and fair. At the time of his death he was surrounded by people. Among them were also those who were opposed to the Shias. The condition of the Sayyid deteriorated and all of a sudden a black spot appeared on his face. The stain spread on his face and his complete face turned charcoal black. The opponents were pleased to see his discomfort. The pain caused the Sayyid to lose his consciousness. When he regained his senses he turned towards Najaf-e-Ashraf and pleaded: "O Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.). O the centre of the hope for helpless people. Do you deal with your devotees in this way?" He repeated this phrase twice more. No sooner did he complete his entreaty that a spot of whiteness became visible on his face. It spread upon his face and soon his face became radiant once again like a full moon. Sayyid was filled with joy, and recited the following couplets extemporaneously.
"They lied who said Ali (a.s.) could not save his followers from difficulties. I swear upon my Creator that I have entered Paradise with my sins all forgiven. I give this good news to those who are devoted to Ali (a.s.) till death. And after him revere his eleven descendants who are the Imams."
After reciting these couplets he confessed to the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Wilayat of Amirul Momineen (a.s.). Then he closed his eyes and departed from this world.
Evil Desires are a Barrier to Devotion
Sometimes the desire of this world and its material comforts can cause the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in ones heart to decrease. An excess of such desires may even make the heart bereft of the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Such a person when he approaches his last moments will obviously not get any help from the material he had cherished in his life but he will be so unfortunate as to forfeit the intervention of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) to save him from a painful death. Several traditions to this effect are present in the books. It would be too lengthy to relate these here, as also it would be straying from our point. Only a casual mention of some traditions would suffice for our purpose.
A Persian Saying
There is a saying in Persian which means that, "Those who believe should try to develop as much as possible the love for the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in their hearts." It could be further explained that one should also remove all other objects of desire from the heart and especially refrain from the Greater Sins so that (InshaAllah) they are safe from a dreadful death and the horrors of the Hereafter.
Do Not Use the Bounties for Committing Sins
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) wrote a letter to certain friends of his:
If you wish that your life and the hereafter be accomplished with the best of the deeds and that your soul be captured (death occurs) in this condition, then acknowledge the supremacy of Allah. Do not misuse the bounties and gifts granted to you by Allah in committing acts that are forbidden by Him and become disobedient to Him. Respect all those who remember us, Ahle Bayt (a.s.), and claim to love us. It is immaterial (for you) whether he is truthful or not. For you will be rewarded according to your intention and they (the liars) will be punished for their sins.
The Gloom of Sins and the Glow of Repentance
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was explaining the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
"Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light."
(Surah Baqarah 2:257)
"It means Allah takes them away from the darkness of the sins to the light of repentance. Because they were having 'Wilayat' of all the just Imams (all twelve of whom are appointed by Allah). The next portion of the same verse is, "and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness."
The Imam further explained,
"It only means those who followed the light of Islam initially but later started following each an every usurper (leader) not authorised by Allah. They left the light of Islam and entered into the darkness of disbelief (Kufr). Thus Allah ordained upon the disbelievers the fire of Hell.
Greater Sin and Lesser Sin
The foregoing discussion has made it clear that sins are of two types- The Greater and the Lesser. The characteristics of the Greater Sins and their evil effects have also been explained. Now we shall enumerate various Greater Sins. The traditions regarding the number of Greater Sins are sometimes in disagreement with each other. It is not possible to study all such traditions due to their voluminous nature. It is also beyond the scope of the present book. Those who wish a detailed study may refer to the Exegesis of Al-Kafi or 'Arbaeen' of Shaikh Bahai (a.r.).
All the scholars and the jurists agree that the most authentic tradition is the one quoted by the eminent jurist of the school of Ahle Bayt, Sayyid Muhammad al-Kazim Tabatabai Yazdi. He mentions four ways of recognising a Greater sin: -
What is a Greater Sin?
1) All those sins are Greater which have been specifically termed as Greater in the Holy Qur'an and the traditions. The number of such sins exceeds forty and they all have been explained in the traditions of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The explanation of these traditions will follow later.
2) All those sins are Greater about which the Qur'an and Hadith explicitly state that those who commit these sins will enter Hell. Or if it is not explicit then it should purport to mean the same. For example the tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"Certainly the Almighty Allah and His messenger disown such a person who willfully neglects prayers."
In this tradition the punishment of Hell is not named specifically but it amounts to the same thing. Another report corroborates this assertion. Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"All those sins are Greater (the doer of which) is promised the fire (Hell)."
There is another tradition from Imam Zadeh Abdul Azeem Hasani, which shall be quoted later. Thus we understand that there is no difference whether the promise of the Divine punishment is given in the Qur'an or in a hadith.
3) Any sin, which is clearly Greater than a sin specified as a Greater one in the Qur'an and hadith; is also Greater. For example the killing of a person is a sin and it is clear from the Qur'an and hadith. Thus the tradition from Ibne Mahboob clearly states that the killing of a 'soul' is a Greater sin. The Qur'an has promised Divine punishment for murder. Then if any other sin is proved to be more than the killing of a person, by the verses of Qur'an or authentic reports then this sin will also be considered as a Greater sin. For example the Holy Qur'an says that to spread corruption in the world is worse than murder:
"And the (spreading of) mischief is Greater than murder."
Hence we can conclude that the spreading of disturbance must also be counted among the Greater Sins.
4) Any sin which has all along been regarded as a Greater one by the scholars and the jurists should also be considered as 'Greater'. But it should be ascertained that such a sin has been regarded as Greater from the present time right upto the time of the Masoomeen (a.s.). Examples of these types of sins are to descerate the Holy Ka'ba, or a mosque or to throw away a copy of the Qur'an. All such acts have been regarded as the Greater Sins. Now we shall mention the traditions that explain the Greater Sins.
1) Sadooq (a.r.) has recorded in Oyoone Akhbaar that Imam Zadeh Hazrat Abdul Azeem the son of Abdullah Hasani said, "I heard from Abu Ja'far the second, Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) who heard from his respected father Imam Reza (a.s.) who quotes Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) that he said,
"A person by the name of Umroo bin Abeed entered into the presence of Abu Abdillah Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). After taking his seat he recited the following verse of the Qur'an:
"And those who shun the great sins and indecencies..."
(Surah Shuara 42:37)
Then he (Umroo bin Abeed) paused.
"Why have you become silent?" asked the Imam (a.s.),
"I would like to derive the Greater Sins from the Holy Qur'an." he replied.
The Imam said,
"O Umroo, the Greatest of the Greater Sins is Shirk (to attribute partners) with Allah. The Almighty Allah says,
"Certainly whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the Garden (Paradise)..."
(Surah Maaidah 5:72)
2) After this, is "to despair from the Mercy of Allah." As the Almighty Allah says,
"Surely none despairs of Allah's mercy except the unbelieving people..."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)
3) Then, "not fearing the retribution of Allah." The High and the Mighty Allah remarks,
"But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish."
(Surah Araaf 7:99)
4) One of the Greater Sins is to disobey ones parents because the Glorified Allah has said,
"And dutiful to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient."
(Surah Maryam 19:14).
Here the disobedience of the parents is considered a form of insolence or transgression.
5) To kill a believer is prohibited by Allah. Because Allah (A.J.) has informed,
"And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His Wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement."
(Surah Nisa 4:93)
6) To slander a believing man or a woman of adultery (or sodomy) is a Greater sin as is proved by the statement of Allah.
"Surely those who accuse chaste believing woman, unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement."
(Surah Nur 24:23)
7) The usurpation of an orphan's property is a Greater sin, as is clear from the following verse:
"(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire."
(Surah Nisa 4:10)
8) It is a Greater sin to retreat from Jihad (Holy war) as the Divine verse says:
"And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day- unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company- then he, indeed becomes deserving of Allah's wrath, and his abode is Hell; and an evil destination shall it be."
(Surah Anfal 8:16)
9) One of the Greater Sins is to take "interest." Allah, the Almighty informs:
"One who swallows down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. This is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275).
[Explanation: Some people say that taking interest is same as any other business. But this verse clearly says that usury is different from trade. Secondly, usury is forbidden whereas trading is permitted.]
10) And magic is a Greater sin. Thus Allah (A.J.) says,
"and certainly they know that he who bought it (the magic) should have no share of good in the hereafter and evil was the price for which they sold their souls; had they but known this."
(Surah Baqarah 2:102)
11) Among the Greater Sins is Adultery (fornication). Allah says in the Holy Qur'an,
"And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay a soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication. And he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement.
(Surah Furqan 25:68-69)
12) One of the Greater Sins is taking a false oath. Allah says about it.
"(As for) those who take a small price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths-Surely they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the day of resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:76)
13) Among the sins which are specifically graded as Greater is a sin of "betrayal of trust, or to act unfaithfully. Allah the Greatest has informed thus:
"And it is not attributable that he should act unfaithfully; and he who acts unfaithfully shall bring that in respect of which he has acted unfaithfully on the day of resurrection; then shall every soul be paid back fully what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt unjustly. Is then he who follows the pleasure of Allah like him who has made himself deserving of displeasure from Allah, and his abode is Hell; and it is an evil destination."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:161-162)
14) Failure to pay the Zakat is a Greater sin. Allah says regarding it:
"and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's ways, announce to them a painful chastisement.
(Surah Tauba 9:34)
15) To bear a false witness is also a Greater sin. Allah says
"...and avoid false words."
(Surah Hajj 22:30)
16) Do not conceal evidence as it is a Greater sin. Allah says:
"...and do not conceal testimony and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)
17) Drinking of wine is a Greater sin. As it is prohibited by Allah in the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)
18) To wilfully avoid the prayers is a Greater sin.
19) The failure to perform any obligatory religious act is a Greater sin. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who wilfully avoids the prayers is away from the protection of Allah and His Messenger."
20) Breaking an oath is also a Greater sin. Allah has stated:
"Who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut as under what Allah has ordered to be joined, (that is mutual relationships) and make mischief in the land; these it is that are the losers."
(Surah Baqarah 2:27)
21) To break ties with the relatives is one of the Greater Sins. In the Qur'anic verse quoted below, Allah says,
"and cut asunder what Allah has ordained......"
(Surah Raad 13:25)
When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) concluded his hadith the narrator, Umroo bin Abeed rose up and while going out stopped and said: "Certainly, one who does not follow the guidance of the Imams (a.s.) and gives his own opinion is doomed." It means that those who refuse to follow the Imams (a.s.) are on the wrong path.
Ibne Mehboob has mentioned in his 'Sahih' that he and his companions had written a letter to Imam Reza (a.s.) enquiring about the number of the Greater Sins. Also the method of determining their "greatness". The respected Imam (a.s.) replied thus:
"The Greater Sins are those, the performers of which have been promised (Hell) fire. If any believer abstains from these or repents for the same Allah will forgive these sins. There are seven such sins, which have been promised (Divine) punishment.
1. To kill one whose murder is prohibited.
2. To disobey parents.
3. To accept usury.
4. To return to ignorance after migration (Hijrat).
5. To accuse a chaste woman of adultery.
6. To consume wrongfully the property of orphans.
7. To flee from the battlefield.
Abu Samit has narrated from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
The Greater Sins are;
1. To associate others (attribute partners) to Allah.
2. Killing anyone whose killing is prohibited by Shariat.
3. Wrongfully acquiring the property of orphans.
4. To disobey parents.
5. To accuse falsely a chaste woman of adultery.
6. To flee (cowardly) from the battlefield.
7. To deny any of the obligations of religion promulgated by Allah.
Abdur Rehman Ibne Katheer has narrated from the same Masoom (a.s.) that he said:
"Not acknowledging the rights of us (Ahle Bayt) is a Greater sin."
Abi Khadija has quoted a tradition that:
"To attribute falsehood to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Holy Imams (a.s.) is counted among the Greater Sins."
Sadooq (r.a.) has quoted that: "To deprive anyone of his rights (What he rightfully deserves) by not mentioning him in one's will is a Greater sin."
The book Kanzul Ummal has mentioned in a tradition:
"Shedding blood in the precincts of the Holy Ka'ba is a Greater sin."
This is because Allah has ordained it to be a protected sanctuary.
In the Oyoon-e-Akhbaare Reza (a.s.) there is a tradition quoted by Fazl ibne Shazaan. He quotes from reliable authorities that Imam Reza (a.s.) wrote to Mamun a letter prohibiting the following sinful acts, as they were Greater Sins:
1) To kill those whose murder is prohibited by Allah.
4) Drinking of Wine.
5) To disobey the parents.
6) Fleeing from the battlefield (in Jihad).
7) Usurping property of the orphans.
8) Eating dead animals (animals not slaughtered in the Islamic way) blood and pigs without any compulsion.
9) Accepting usury when it is obvious.
10) Consuming prohibited (Haraam) wealth.
12) Cheating in business by under-weighing.
13) To accuse chaste women of adultery.
15) To despair of the Mercy of Allah.
16) Not fearing the Divine retribution.
17) Not acknowledging the bounties of Allah.
18) Cooperating with oppressors.
19) To associate with the oppressors.
20) Taking a false oath.
21) To obstruct the rights (of someone) without (any valid reason or compulsion).
23) Pride (arrogance).
24) Squandering wealth.
25) Expenditure in ways not permitted by Allah.
26) To betray trust.
27) To consider Hajj of the Holy Kabaa unimportant.
28) To fight the friends (devotees) of Allah.
29) To enjoy vain preoccupations (like music).
30) To persist in sins.
Insha-Allah these traditions shall be explained at the appropriate places.
A Difficult Problem and its Solution
Some people raise the following objections regarding the subject of Greater Sins: -
1. Why does the Quran not explain in detail such an important subject as the Greater Sins?
2. Why are there conflicting reports from Masomeen (a.s.) with regard to the Greater Sins? Some traditions mention that the Greater Sins are five, some give the figure as seven, nine, twenty one and thirty one. One of the traditions reported from Ibne Abbas says that the total number of Greater Sins are seven hundred and seven. Let us now consider these objections so that appropriate replies can be provided.
Reply to the First Objection
It is Allah's grace that He has not mentioned the total number of Greater Sins in the Holy Quran. There is hidden wisdom in this. Let us suppose that the fixed number of Greater Sins had been given in the Quran. Then the people would have abstained only from these sins. They would have freely committed other sins thinking that they are not doing anything against the Holy Book. In this way they would, be emboldened to perform all other types of misdeeds. Thus Allah has prohibited his creatures to avoid even the lesser sins. This is because if one becomes unmindful of the lesser sins, he will slowly be attracted to the Greater Sins too.
To Persist in Lesser Sins is Equivalent to Committing a Greater Sin
It is an established fact that if one repeatedly commits a lesser sin he eventually becomes liable for a Greater punishment. Insha-Allah we shall explain in detail the lesser sins in the chapter of "Persistence in Lesser Sins."
By not specifying the number of Greater Sins the Almighty Allah has bestowed a favour upon the people. Had such a number been fixed, the people would have the tendency to abstain mainly from these sins. They would be inclined to regard other sins lightly and indulge in them, underestimating their seriousness. Such indulgence over a period of time makes an individual bold enough to perform other types of misdeeds. It is for this reason that Allah has commanded His creatures to avoid all types of sins, because, being unmindful of minor sins will gradually attract them towards Greater ones. It is indeed Allah's Grace that by encouraging us to abstain from all types of sins, He keeps us safe from the most dreadful ones.
Another important and subtle point that should be stressed is the fact that considering a minor sin to be minor is itself a Greater sin. No sin is to be considered insignificant and trivial. This point shall also be explained in the future.
Deprived of Divine Rewards (Sawaab)
He who commits a minor sin is deprived of the Sawaab, he would have deserved, had he abstained from it. Also every sinful act has some evil repercussion or the other; so it happens that one who repeatedly commits minor sins slowly becomes susceptible to the Greater ones. On the other hand, he who refrains from such acts becomes the recipient of Allah's blessings. Besides he who avoids Greater Sins has his minor sins spontaneously forgiven. Thus one who persists in minor sins will be doubly unfortunate. He will not derive the Sawaab that is reserved for avoiding these sins -and secondly he will be disqualified from Allah's forgiveness for these sins.
This idea has been presented in the following tradition from the Masoom (a.s.):
"May Allah forgive the sins of the sinners. These people have surely been deprived of the sawab of good deeds."
It is Necessary to Refer to the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)
It may be mentioned here that another subject also dealt with briefly in the Quran but elab
First Greater Sin Shirk
First Greater Sin
Shirk (Polytheism - To associate anyone or anything with Allah)
The first of the Greater Sins is to associate anyone or anything with Allah. That is to attribute partners to Allah. Regarding Shirk we have received clear traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as well as Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.) and Imam Jawad (a.s.).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The greatest of the Greater Sins is to attribute partners to Allah."
The following verse of the Holy Quran asserts:
"Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)
It means that whoever dies as a polytheist, there is no chance of his salvation. Although Allah may forgive any of those who have committed any other sin. Allah says:
"Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust."
(Surah Maidah 5:72)
Also the Holy Quran states:
"Do not associate aught with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity."
(Surah Luqman 31:13).
"And whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)
Every Muslim knows fully well that Shirk is a Greater Sin. So it does not seem necessary to quote the Quranic ayats and the traditions of Masoomeen (a.s.) in this regard. However, since it is important to understand the true meaning of Shirk we shall quote the relevant statements in order that people may keep aloof from this infamy. The Holy Quran says,
"And worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him."
(Surah Nisa 4:36)
Mushrik (Polythiest) is the opposite of Muwahhid (Monotheist). Tawheed is the primary pillar of faith. It has various aspects. In the same way Shirk also consists of different types:
1) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Essence of Allah
2) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Attributes of Allah
3) Tawheed and Shirk in actions
4) Tawheed and Shirk in Obedience
5) Tawheed and Shirk in worship
May Allah provide us the Tawfeeq to discuss these different aspects in detail.
Tawheed in the Essence of Allah
Tawheed with regard to the Essence of Allah denotes confessing that the Essence of the Lord of the worlds is one, and that He is Eternal. He is the Orignator of every action and phenomenon, whether perceptible through senses or not. There is no other cause except Him. Belief in multiple causes is Shirk. The Zoroastrians believe in the existence of two powerful forces in the Universe, both being equal and eternal. One is good, the other, evil. The god of good is Yazdan and the god of evil is Ahriman. The following ayat of the Holy Quran is a clear refutation of this false hypothesis.
"Say (O Muhammad): All is from Allah."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)
The claim of the Dualists can be refuted with a simple statement that there is no one except Allah, who has been in existence since eternity. Whatever was in past, present or future is nothing but good. Or, at least we can say that good exceeds evil and that evil does not hold sway over good.
However if we go on to explain all this in detail it would lead us away from the topic of our discussion.
Christians Are Polytheists Too
The Christians believe in the trinity of the Godhead. The Father (God), The Son (Jesus) and the Holy Ghost (Jibraeel). They believe that each of them have a special quality and that together they constitute the Godhead. The Quran flays their assertion thus:
"Certainly they disbelieve who say, 'Surely Allah is the third (person) of three'; and there is no god but One God."
(Surah Maidah 5:73)
The Holy Quran clearly states that Allah is not one-third of a god. He is the One and only One God.
The belief in Trinity is not exclusive to the Christians. Hindus and Buddhists also ascribe to it.
Idol Worship is Polytheism
Some people allege that there are separate gods for every phenomenon. That is, god of wind, god of sea, etc. This is another form of Polytheism. These people consider different creations to be the handiwork of different gods. These idolaters and polytheists worship multiple deities. Their polytheistic belief has also been denounced in the Holy Quran:
"Are sundry lords better or Allah, the One, the Supreme?"
(Surah Yusuf 12:39)
Tawheed in the Attributes of Allah
Tawheed with regards to the attributes of Allah means the realisation that the positive attributes of Allah and His Essence have only one and the same sense, and not any multiple and diverse sense. Divine attributes like Divine Eternity, Divine Knowledge and Divine Power, are the same as his Essence without any duality between His Essence and His attributes.
This concept must be clearly distinguished from the fact that Allah, the Almighty and the Exalted has applied some of His names to His creatures, and although the names are common to both the Creator and the created, the connotation is quite different; For example Zaid1 has knowledge, so the name "one who knows" is common to both the creator and the created. But in Zaid's case, it is implicit that this quality in a limited measure was acquired by him (by Allah's Grace) at a certain stage prior to which he did not have it; and it is also possible that he may also lose this quality at a later stage, but for Allah this attribute signifies that He is the knower of all things, past, present and future. He knows what is in the Heavens and the Earth and not an atom weight, or less than that or greater escapes Him. His knowledge is all encompassing. If we consider the Attributes of Allah as being qualities independent of Allah as we know them to be with His creatures, then we have committed Shirk. Accordingly the belief of the Ashairas is absolutely false.
All the good qualities of the creatures are from the Creator (Allah)
To consider all the good qualities of the created to be from Allah, the creator, is true Tawheed. It is our belief that all the qualities possessed by the Prophets and the Imams (a.s.) were given to them by Allah's Grace. They did not come to acquire any of these qualities on their own. Rather Allah bestowed upon them superior knowledge, character, power and perfect morals and exalted their position.
Consequently all that exists has not come into existence on its own. But everything is dependent upon the Creator of the Universe. All the good qualities have also been given to them by Allah. If Allah so desires, He increases their good qualities and gives them sustenance.
Praising Ourselves Unknowingly
A discerning person realises that our qualities are not our own and that we are not capable of acquiring such qualities without Divine assistance. Yet at times we mistakenly introduce our qualifications as, "my knowledge, my strength, my intention, my wealth etc. Rather one should say, my knowledge, which is bestowed upon me by Allah, my strength which is imparted to me by Allah, my intention that is assisted by Allah, my wealth which is from Allah." This constant realisation that all which we have is because of Allah's Grace; is true Tawheed.
One can be a true believer in the Oneness of Allah if his words and actions both are in consonance with each other. Such a person is more humble and lowly when he addresses his Creator and is in constant dread of the sin of thanklessness. Another distinguishing characteristic of such a person is that he is never pleased when others praise him.
The Pious Ones Dread Praise
The Chief of the Believers, Ali (a.s.) while describing the qualities of the pious says, in one of his sermons:
"When any one of them is spoken of highly, he says: 'I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know myself. O Allah do not deal with me according to what they say, and make me better than what they think of me and forgive me (those shortcomings) which they do not know.'
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 192)
There is no Partner in the Divine Attributes
A true believer in tawheed does not attribute any partners to Allah, nor does he praise anyone in the manner that Allah is praised. Everyday he repeats, "SubhanAllah" [Glory be (only) to Allah]. This implies that he does not deem it fit to praise anyone or anything except Allah. When he says "Alhamdo Lillah" (Praise is only for Allah), he implies that all praise is exclusive to Allah only. No one is more deserving of praise and glorification but the one and only Allah.
When a person becomes a true Muwahhid (a believer in the Oneness of Allah) he does not consider anyone the true possessor of perfect qualities. All of these are dependent upon Allah who is only one, absolutely independent. The Holy Quran says:
"O men! you are they who stand in need of Allah. And Allah is He who is self-sufficient, the praised one."
(Surah Fatir 35:15)
That is the reason why pious people refrain from praising themselves and also fear the praise of others for them. Ali (a.s.) has mentioned this in the sermon quoted above. We must also refrain from words, which imply the independence of man from Allah and instead attribute uniqueness to him. For example one should not say, "I possess such and such quality."
A Saying of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
Once a man approached the door of the exalted Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and knocked. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) enquired who he was. The person replied, "I" The Prophet came out and said, "Who was the one to say 'I'? Let it be known that except Allah no one is qualified to use this word. Allah says about Himself, I am the Powerful, I am the Punisher.'
Qaroon Became a Polythiest
Qaroon became a polytheist because he dared to say that all he had come to possess was due to his knowledge of alchemy. Thus, when Qaroon made himself an accomplice of the One and only God in possessing the Divine attributes, Allah replied,
"Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him the generations who were mightier in strength than he, and Greater in assemblage?"
(Surah Qasas 28:78)
Later, we see that Qaroon was not able to save himself from destruction even though he claimed to possess strength and power. Thus we must understand that any qualities of the creatures are not of their own but given to them by the Most Powerful Almighty Allah.
Tawheed and Shirk in Acts of Allah
Tawheed in deeds construe that we have conviction that the Lord and Master of every form of life whether material or spiritual is Allah. He alone controls and regulates life. We must also have the conviction that Allah does not have anyone to share in His Lordship and control. His authority extends over the entire earth and the skies. No one is an accomplice of Him in this regard.
As the Quran says:
"Allah is He who created seven Heavens, and of the earth the like of them; the decree continues to descend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge."
(Surah Talaq 65:12)
We must acknowledge that Allah is the creator of the Heavens. We must have a firm belief that He has created the countless stars. Their number has not been ascertained till today. Modern science has computed that there are approximately ten million stars, each of them capable of having a habitation similar to the earth. Each one of them possess a different light and they revolve in their own orbits without clashing with the other Heavenly bodies.
"And the stars are made subservient by His commands."
(Surah Nahl 16:12)
One of such stars is the Sun, the volume of which is 1.3 million times more than our Earth. It has been bestowed with such a powerful light that within seconds it traverses the distance between the Sun and the Earth. The Earth is illuminated by solar light and the life on Earth is sustained by the nourishment received from this light. "Glory be only to Allah the Mighty Creator."
Myriad Colours From Colourless Water
It is the Unique Allah who has caused the growth of plants and trees from the bosom of the earth. These plants bear flowers with color and fragrance. The green leaves of the trees and the colourful vegetation is but by the uncomparable power of Creator. The Creator has also given to the human beings the ability to see and appreciate the colourful herbage and the floral outgrowths.
Hence man must contemplate upon the Creator who has caused all this to come into existence. He must also acknowledge the One who has created him.
Who Splits the Ovum and the Seed?
The Master of the Universe is one who causes the seed to split. A part of it grows towards the depths of the earth and becomes the root. The root absorbs nourishment from the earth and supplies it to the main body. The plumule develops into stem and bears leaves. These leaves help in processing of the food which is supplied by the roots. Gradually the plant puts forth colourful and fragrant flowers and tasty fruits. All this is made to come in existence by the combination of the earth, air and water, all three of which combine to provide different kinds of tastes, smells and colours. The human beings are made capable of discerning the myriad tastes and colours so that they can appreciate the bounties of Allah and know their Creator.
In Three Darknesses
Allah is that uncomparable Being who has caused the creation of every animal from the unclean sperm. The human being is conceived in the triple covering of the womb. Later, he is bestowed with the discriminating intellect which enables him to ponder upon the qualities and the signs of Allah and also so that he may compare his ownself with other creatures by the help of his inward eye.
Nutritious Milk From Dirty Blood
Allah is the One who created milk from the dirty red blood and caused it to flow from the mammary glands of the animals and humans so that it may reach the gullets of infants.
"And most surely there is a lesson for you in cattle; We give to drink of what is in their bellies from betwixt the faeces and the blood -pure milk, easy and agreeable to swallow for those who drink."
(Surah Nahl 16:66)
When the young ones are not yet capable of digesting solid food it is only milk which nourishes them. And the provider of this milk is Allah. He is the bestower of every benefit.
"Say: All is from Allah.."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)
Bestows Sustenance - Accepts Deeds
Allah is the sustainer of all living creatures. He distributes His bounties freely to one and all. He gives sustenance to whom He chooses without measure. His unlimited Mercy spreads over His entire creation. He accepts the invocation of all those who plead to Him and removes the difficulties of whomsoever He wishes.
The absolute belief in Tawheed implies that one should understand fully, the meaning of the phrase, "There is no Power or Might except By Allah." In other words it is the essence of the Kalima "La ilahaa illallah." (There is no god except Allah).
Allah is the Cause of Every Phenomenon
Allah is the origin of every life. He is the origin of the characteristics of life imparted to each and every creature. The characteristics of all creation are manifested by the Will of Allah. Therefore it is no wonder if the established quality of a particular thing may undergo a sudden change if Allah so wishes; as it happened in the case of fire lighted by Namrood, which became cool by the Will of Allah. The details of such phenomena shall be explained in the following pages.
No Limit to the Splendour of Allah's Might
Allah, the Almighty is the One who brings assistance to the needy beseechers, provides relief to the afflicted who cry out for help and in His hands is all the good. "He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Sustainer, the Giver of life and death the Bestower of benefits, the Punisher, the Acceptor of prayers, the Obeyed One and the Praised." The names and attributes of Allah manifest His greatness. The phrase 'Rabbul Aalameen' (Lord of the worlds) is central to the Divine names. But intellect and reason is bewildered in understanding His attributes, and speech and expression is dumbfounded by His greatness.
(Almanac page 149)
The Holy Quran says:
"Say, if the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though we were to bring the like of that (sea) to add thereto."
(Surah Kahf 18:109)
Whatever a human being is able to achieve, is by the strength, the capacity, intellect and will power bestowed on him by Allah. By thought and perseverance, he can make use of these favours to distinguish between good and evil and perform his deeds. Anyone who does not ponder upon the designs which embellish the doors and walls of this world is himself lifeless like the walls. The observation of the creations around him offer enlightenment to the intelligent mind. But one who does not deliberate (ponder), cannot know Allah through His creations and thus he rejects the existence of Allah.
Is there anyone who could produce sweet fruits from woods (of trees)? Does anyone possess the miraculous capability of growing colourful flowers from (among) the thorns? He is that Pure and Flawless God who by His Divine plan and order created the day and the night and gave the light to the sun and the moon.
He is an incomparable king who neither requires a constitution nor a treasure. He is that designer who does not need paints or the tools of designing.
He causes the water springs to erupt from the stones and makes the rain to descend from the clouds. He creates honey from the bee and silk from the silkworm.
If all the creatures come together to discuss the bounties of Allah and continue upto the Day of Qiyamat, they will not have accomplished even a thousandth fraction of their task.
"And if you count Allah's favours, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nahl 16:18)
Human Strength is Limited by Divine Will
The strength and the capacity of all the human beings is surrounded by the Divine decree and Allah's will. As we see that a person makes an intention to do something but at the last moment his plans are foiled.
He is unable to complete the task that he had initiated due to the loss of capacity. Actually, what he intended to do was against the Divine will and thus he is hindered from the task. A person inquired from Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.), "My Master! How did you recognise (realise) Allah?" He replied, "I recognised Him by witnessing the abrogation of intention and the failures of strengths." Allah, undoubtedly is the initiator of all that moves in the Universe and He is the original cause of the various effects in the created world. To acknowledge Allah as the base of everything and to have a firm belief in this is the pinnacle of Tawheed (Belief in the Oneness of Allah).
However very few people are able to achieve this stage of Tawheed. But if one develops a firm conviction that the cause of every effect, whether material or spiritual is Allah, alone, he develops some peculiar characteristics. One of such characteristics is the Fear of Allah.
Fear of Allah
A believer who has reached the highest stage of belief fears nothing but the Might of Allah and his own sins. It is because he has realised that all the creatures from Adam (a.s.) to the angels and all the animals, birds and insects are the obedient soldiers of Allah. None of them move a step without His command. Hence they could not cause any harm or benefit without Allah's permission. When a person develops this belief he is not fearful of anything. Even if all the swords of the world come to attack. If Allah wills, not a single nerve could be cut by them.
The opposition of both the friend and the foe is from Allah. Because the hearts of both are in the control of Allah. However evil the claimant may intend, only that which Allah permits comes to pass. There is a tradition that,
"The extreme kind of belief consists of not fearing anything except Allah."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) used to recite this in prostration.
"O Allah if Your anger is not upon me then there is nothing I care for."
Reliance Upon Allah
When a believer has developed a firm and complete conviction that apart from Allah no one is the Lord of the creation and none is the cause of all the causes except Him, He does not repose hope in anyone except Allah. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) states:
"You must not rely upon anyone except the Lord."
As we have mentioned before, the origin of everything is Allah and the centre of all creation is He alone. In the same way every goodness of man for his fellowbeings also originates from Allah. As it is mentioned in the Holy Quran,
"Good actions are only from His (Allah's) hands."
At the end of Surah Yunus Allah says,
"And if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He, and if He intends good to you there is none to repel His grace; He brings it to whom He pleases of His servants; and He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
(Surah Yunus 10:107)
At another place the Quran says, "And whatever favour is (bestowed) on you, it is from Allah..."
(Surah Nahl 16:53)
Thus, it is clear from the above discussion that all that is present in the material and the ethereal spheres is subservient to Allah.
"There is no one in the heavens and the earth but will come to the Beneficient God as a servant."
(Surah Maryam 19:93)
If someone reposes hope in anyone except Allah his hopes are extinguished so that he can realise his true master, i.e. Allah.
"I will severe the ties of hope of those who repose hope in others."
Thankfulness to the Provider of Bounties
The master of the Universe is Allah and He bestows all the bounties, hence He must be thanked for these. Because all the good deeds are only through His hands. He gives whatever goodness He likes to anyone of His choice. That is why we say with a firm belief, "Al-hamdo lillah" (The praise is only for Allah).
Thankfulness for Capability (or Means) is also Necessary
If we are receiving sustenance or help from some means, we must be thankful for these too. However we should not consider these means or intermediaries to be independent of Allah. We must accept them only as the agents through whom Allah is causing His Mercy to reach us. These agents only act as a medium of passing the bounties of Allah and hence they must also be acknowledged; as ordered by the Masoom (a.s.).
"One who does not thank his apparent giver (the agent or the means), it is as if he has not thanked his real giver (Allah)."
"The most thankful amongst you towards Allah is the one who is most thankful to the people (who have helped you)."
There is no doubt that if one considers his helper to be the original doer of good (independent from Allah), he has surely committed shirk.
Hidden Shirk in the Praise of the Creature
"And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him)."
(Surah Yusuf 12:106)
While explaining this verse, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) informed that one form of shirk is,
"Like the saying of someone that if so and so had not been there I would have been destroyed. If so and so had not been there I would have got that thing. In the same way is to say that if so and so had not been there my children would have perished."
Such utterances signify the type of belief the speaker possesses. If he really has such a belief then he is surely a polytheists (mushrik). After this Imam (a.s.) said,
"If one says, 'If Allah had not helped me through such and such person I would have perished,' there is no harm in it." In fact this is the essence of Tawheed.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and the Thankful Beggar
Masma bin Abdul Malik relates that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was at Mina (in Makkah) when a beggar approached him. Imam (a.s.) ordered that a bunch of grapes be given to him. The beggar said, "I do not need these, if possible give me money." Imam (a.s.) did not give him anything but said, "May Allah make you self-sufficient." After this another beggar approached. Imam (a.s.) picked up three grapes from the bunch and offered them to him. The beggar picked them up and said, "All Praise is for Allah (only) who has given me sustenance." Imam (a.s.) said, "Wait", and he placed as many grapes as his hands could hold. Twice again he gave him the same quantity. The beggar thanked Allah again. Imam (a.s.) again stopped him and asked his slave how much money he had. The slave replied, "Twenty dirhams." Imam (a.s.) ordered him to give these to the beggar. The beggar took the money and said, "All praise is for Allah alone. O Allah You are the sustainer, You are One, there is no partner for You. Imam (a.s.) again stopped him. Then the Imam (a.s.) removed his shirt and gave it to the beggar and said, "Wear it." The beggar put the shirt on and thanked Allah who had bestowed him with the dress and made him happy. At this stage the beggar turned towards Imam (a.s.) and said, "O slave of Allah may Allah reward you for this." After this he went his way. The narrator says that if the beggar had not addressed the Imam (a.s.) as such, Imam (a.s.) would have continued to give him gifts for his thankfulness to Allah.
Tawheed and Tawakkul (Reliance)
It must be remembered that all the causes are in the hands of the One who is the final cause. Those who believe in the Oneness of Allah should rely only upon the Almighty Allah for all their affairs. They must realise that all the effects owe their cause to Allah. Even if all the venues for his success are open he will not achieve success if Allah's will is contrary to it. On the other hand if all the ways of success are closed he will definitely succeed if Allah wills. Even if all the means of causing him injury come together no harm shall come if Allah intends to protect him.
Tawheed and Acceptance (Taslim)
One who believes in Tawheed should accept all the Divine decrees with humility. He should believe that various factors like honour and dishonour, health and ailments, richness and poverty, death and life are all according to the Divine decree. He should not oppose any of these either by speech or by actions. He should not even express his opinion in such affairs. For example, "Why has this happened? It should have been like this." Or to say, "Why did it not rain? Why is it so hot?" One should not say, "Why has Allah not given me wealth or children?" "Why did such and such person die in his youth and why did the other attained old age?" "Why has Allah prohibited this and made obligatory that?"
One who utters such things makes himself a partner in the absolute authority of the Almighty Allah.
There maybe people who worship the One and only God, establish prayers, pay the Zakat, perform Hajj and also fast during the month of Ramazan. But if they have any objection against those obligations prescribed by Allah or His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and say, "Why was it not this way?" or even if they have such thoughts and do not express them in words, still they are polytheists (mushrikoon).
"But no! by your Lord! they do not believe until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission."
(Surah Nisa 4:65)
Allama Majlisi comments, "...any objection against the Divine decree and the utterances of the Pure Imams (a.s.) is tantamount to Shirk."
Thus it is obligatory for the believers of Tawheed that when they fall into misfortune and calamities they should restrain their tongues and hearts from objecting against the Divine decree. However the weeping and expression of grief at the death of friends and relative is allowed and rather recommended. What is not permitted is to say, "Why has this happened? It should not have happened."
Tawheed and Love
The worshippers of the unique God should accept that Allah is the provider of him and all the existing things. Whatever he gets is due to the beneficence of the Almighty. The apparent causes and the effects are also in control of Allah. Then it is Him only who deserves unlimited love and attachment. If someone else deserves to be loved it is only due to his being the beloved of Allah. This is because such a love is itself commanded by Allah. Divine personalities like the Holy Prophets (a.s.), Imams (a.s.), the angels and the true believers are those whose love is commanded by Allah.
In the same way, to show attachment to the gifts of Allah is allowed if such an attachment would exhibit our thankfulness for the bounties. To love our family, possessions and the worldly life is also worship in this way. However, to love all such things without considering the divine aspect renders one to be a mushrik (polytheist). If one loves something more than he loves Allah, then it is a kind of shirk. If he prefers something above the love of Allah it is totally Haraam. Consequently he becomes liable for punishment. For example if someone loves monetary wealth more than Allah then it would be difficult for him to fulfill the religious obligation of Zakat etc. Various ayats of the Quran and traditions mention this fact.
1) Someone inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of the following verse:
"The day on which property will not avail, nor sons. Except him who comes to Allah with a heart, free (from evil)."
(Surah Shuara 26: 88-89)
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"The heart free (from evil) is the one when it meets Allah it does not have the love of anyone but Allah. Every heart which has shirk and doubt is condemned to be destroyed. (Al Kafi)
2) Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) states,
"By Allah the Imaan (faith) of a person cannot be pure till he loves Allah more than his near ones; his mother, his father, children, wife, other people and wealth."
3) During the rule of Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) a male sparrow told its mate,
"Why do you stop me from mating? I possess such might that if I want I could pick up the dome of (the palace) of Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) and drop it in the river." When Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) came to know of this, he summoned both the birds and asked the male bird if he could substantiate his claim by putting it into practice. The bird replied that he had only tried to impress his mate by the false claim. He said that he loved his companion hence could not afford to lose her. When Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) asked the female bird for her opinion she said that her suitor did not love her and his affections were for someone else. Upon hearing her grievance Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) became remorseful. He retired into his prayer niche and did not come out for forty days. He prayed, "O Allah purify the heart of this male bird from the love of everything except his own mate."
Tawheed and Shirk in Obedience
A believer knows that the creator of all is the one and only Allah and He also is the only sustainer of all His creatures. He does not have any partner in his Lordship and authority. Such a believer does not regard anyone else fit for obedience, except Allah. This believer knows that apart from Allah none of the existing things could command obedience. They are all helpless before the Might of Allah. All the creatures are incapable of benefitting themselves, nor can they protect themselves from harm. They do not have any power upon their death and life and neither upon the Day of Judgement and the reckoning
"...they control not for themselves any harm or profit, and they control not death, nor life, nor raising (the dead) to life."
(Surah Furqan 25:3)
Thus total obedience and Wilayat is reserved for Allah only. However if Allah Himself designates someone to be the center of authority then His obedience is also obligatory due to the Divine command.
Authorities Whose Obedience is Commanded by Allah
The chain of the Divine Wilayat extends from the noble Prophets (a.s.), the Imams (a.s.) and also consist of the Nawwaab ul Khassa1 during the period of Minor occultation. Discussing this the Quran says,
"Whoever obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys Allah..."
(Surah Nisa 4:80).
"and whatever the Apostle 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)."
(Surah Hashr 59:7)
Further Allah says,
"O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those who have authority among you."
(Surah Nisa 4:59)
Who are the "Ulil Amr"?
Concerning the "Ulil Amr" the opinion of the Ahle Sunnat is unsupported by proofs. They claim that Ulil Amr means the ruler! What if the ruler is unjust? What if he is not an expert in religious affairs? What if he is a slave of material desires? Is obedience obligatory towards him even if he himself disobeys his Lord? Such a situation creates contradictions. However, all these things are beyond the scope of our discussion.
As Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "Two mutas (Muta of Hajj and Muta of women) were permitted in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), I prohibit both." Hence those who consider Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as Ulil Amr would regard Muta as Halaal. But if they also wish to obey Umar ibn al-Khattab, it will create a contradiction.
Love of Ali (a.s.) Commanded by Allah, and Muawiya's Stance
Muawiya considered it obligatory to fight Ali (a.s.) whereas the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had made it Haraam. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, "War against Ali (a.s.) is war against me." Muawiya used to order people to hate Ali (a.s.) while the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) made Ali's love obligatory and Allah made the love of Ali (a.s.) the compensation of the Prophetic message. The Holy Quran says,
"Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but the love of my near relatives."
(Surah Shura 42:23)
On the basis of this, the result of the obedience of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would be love for Ali (a.s.). To consider Muawiya as Ulil Amr would necessitate hatred for Ali (a.s.), and in this case too a contradictory situation would arise.
The Term 'Ulil Amr' is not Restricted to a Particular Group
To consider the command of obedience of Ulil Amr to be restricted to a particular group is against the import of the Quranic ayat. This is because Allah has not ordered the obedience of Ulil Amr separately. He has included the obedience of Ulil Amr alongwith that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Thus the obedience of Ulil Amr is the obedience of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). There is no difference between the obedience of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the obedience of Ulil Amr. The obedience of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Ulil Amr is compulsory upon everyone. It is not restricted to a few people. If we consider Ulil Amr to include all types of rulers it would not be correct. Ulil Amr are those who are purified from every kind of mistakes and sins. So that they could be obeyed without any reservations.
Are the Religious Scholars Ulil Amr?
Some scholars claim that by Ulil Amr is meant the religious leaders (Aalims). But, the Aalims are not infallible (Masoom). All the Aalims are prone to commit mistakes. That is the reason why there are differences in the religious rulings. Secondly infallibility is an inward quality which cannot be perceived by the people. That is the reason why the Ulil Amr could only be designated by Allah and appointed by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
The Twelve Imams are Ulil Amr
Numerous books of the Sunnis as well as Shia record traditions that the Ulil Amr are the Twelve Imams. The following tradition is regarded as authentic by the Sunnis as well as the Shias.
What the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) Says Regarding Ulil Amr
Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari (a.r.) reports, "I asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that I know Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.), but I do not know the Ulil Amr." The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"They are my Caliphs, O! Jabir, and Imams of the Muslims after me. The first of them is Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), then Hasan, then Husain, then Ali ibn Husain, then Muhammad bin Ali known in the Tawrat as Al-Baqir, thou wilt shortly meet him O Jabir; so when you meet him, convey to him my Salaam; then Ja'far ibn Muhammad, then Musa bin Ja'far, then Ali bin Musa, then Muhammad bin Ali, then Ali ibn Muhammad, then Hasan bin Ali, then my name sake and one having my kunniyat. They are the decisive argument of Allah on this earth and the mainstay of His religion among mankind. The last of them is the one whom Allah will give victory over the east of the earth and the west; and it is he who will disappear from his Shias and friends. A long concealment, during which no one will remain firm in the belief of his Imamat except those whose hearts Allah has tested for faith." Jabir (a.r.) asked, "Will his Shias derive benefit from him during his concealment?" "Yes", said the Apostle of Allah, "By him Who raised me up with Prophethood,verily they will obtain light from his 'Noor' and will benefit by his Wilayat during his concealment, like people derive benefit from the sun when it is covered with clouds."
So, it could be concluded from this tradition that the obedience of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is equivalent to the obedience of Allah. Those interested in more details can refer to the book 'Ghayatul Maraam'. In the fifty-ninth chapter of this book, four traditions from the Sunni sources and fourteen from the Shia sources are mentioned. In the same book, in the 121st chapter, four traditions from the Sunni books and twenty-eight from the Shia sources are recorded.
Obedience of the Just Mujtahid
Now we can say that during the Major occultation the obedience of a qualified Mujtahid is also compulsory. His obedience is actually the obedience of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) says,
"Look carefully at those people who relate our traditions with deliberation upon our permitted and prohibited things, and know our precepts and commandments. Select one of them for adjudication, since I have appointed such a person for the said task. If his verdict is rejected then it is as if the command of Allah is deemed light and our ordinance refuted. Certainly the one who refutes our ordinance has refuted the ordinance of Allah. Verily such a person has stepped into the boundary of Shirk (Polytheism)."
The Faqih Who Deserves to be Followed
One of the conditions of a Faqih is that he should be free from worldly desires. He should not be in pursuit of material benefits and worldly honour. The Faqih who is free from such weaknesses is fit to be followed even if there are people more pious (in performing good deeds) than him. In this regard the great scholar Shaykh Ansari quotes a tradition from Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) in his book 'Ihtejaaj'.
"And among jurists (Fuqaha) those who protect themselves (from sins), guard their religion, defy their carnal desires and are obedient to their Master, it is incumbent upon the people to follow them. Such characteristics are found only in a few of them and not all."
Obeying Parents is Obeying Allah
Obedience to parents is obedience to Allah. To obey parents and not to cause them any kind of distress or discomfort is of extreme importance. This importance can be judged by the fact that in the Holy Quran, Allah's command to serve Him is immediately followed by His command to treat parents with gentleness and humility.
"And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him; and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) 'Uff' nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:23-24)
Parents Cannot Restrain From Obligatory Acts Nor Can They Compel You to Commit the Prohibited
It should be known that the parents are not the absolute authority upon all the affairs of Haraam and Halaal. Their authority is restricted by the dual dictum, that they must not prohibit a Wajib thing and nor should order something Haraam. If a situation demands the parents have to be disobeyed in absolute obedience to the commands of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
"And We have enjoined on man goodness to his parents, and if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them; to Me is your return, so I will inform you of what you did."
(Surah Ankaboot 29:8)
Obedience to parents is highly stressed so that they may not be caused even the slightest discomfort by the disobedience of their children. It is totally prohibited by the Quran. Thus if the disobedience of the parents would incur their wrath then it is compulsory for the children to obey them.
Further Details Regarding Obedience to Parents
Sometimes the parents may disallow something or order their children to do something. But if the child does not obey they are not angry. In such cases it is permitted for the child to follow his choice. For example the parents refrain their son to proceed on a journey that would cause hardship. But they do not mind if he insists on it. In this case it is Mubah for the son to go on this journey. However if this journey would cause the anger of one's parents, it is a journey of sin and during this journey one has to pray namaz as complete (not Qasr) and also observe the obligatory fasts.
Obedience of the Husband is Wajib Upon the Wife
The Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) have commanded the wife to obey her husband. The Holy Quran informs,
"Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded."
(Surah Nisa 4:34)
Allah, the Almighty has given men superiority over women and appointed them as the protectors of women. This is due to the fact that men have been provided by Allah with many qualities in great measure as compared to women, like strength, bravery etc. Further they spend their wealth upon their women. So the best women are those who are loyal to their husbands and obedient to their commands. They protect his property and their own chastity in the absence of their husbands. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"Prostration of a human for another human being is not permitted. (If it had been) I would have ordered the wife to prostrate before her husband."
Dignity in the Marital Affairs
Numerous traditions emphasise that women should be obedient to their husbands. Apart from this, women should know that it is highly recommended that they please their husbands in all matters. It is the best worship of a woman. However to satisfy the sexual desires of the husband is absolutely wajib according to the consensus of the scholars. Similarly the husbands permission is required by the wife if she intends to go out. Even if she goes to visit her relatives or parents it is obligatory for her to seek the husbands permission. If she leaves the husband's house without his permission, the angels curse her till she returns.
Non-Essential Expenses Should Have the Prior Sanction of the Husband
Apart from the necessary expenses, the wife should obtain the husband's permission for other things even if she wants to spend from her personal wealth. But in case of obligatory expenses she does not need the husband's permission. For example, Hajj, Zakat, Khums and even for spending upon her parents. Even if the husband restrains her she must carry out these obligations. If a woman obeys her husband to please Allah, she has undoubtedly obeyed the Divine commands and the instructions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). It is certainly the best worship for a woman.
Referring to the Unjust Ruler is Not Allowed
So far, we have seen that obedience to Allah is obligatory and so is the obedience to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his Twelve Successors (Imams a.s). and whoever else Allah has ordered to obey. Their obedience is also a must i.e. of the Fuqaha, in case of religious matters. It is absolutely 'Haraam' to appeal for justice in the courts of the unjust rulers. Referring to them is the same as seeking the help of Satan. Whatever benefit is derived through such cases is also Haraam even if one is the rightful claimant. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If one files a suit of law in the court of a ruler, even if the plaintiff is on the right, his claim would tantamount to his making Satan (false deity) his judge. And whatever he gets through this Judgement is Haraam even though it was from his rights."
"...then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle..."
(Surah Nisa 4:59)
The Religious Scholar Who Does Not Practise Piety is Not to Be Followed
Like it is prohibited to seek the counsel of the unjust ruler even if one is on the right; in the same way it is not allowed to seek religious advice from the scholars who pursue material wealth and worldly honour. The qualifications of a Faqih have been mentioned in the foregoing pages. Anyone who does not fulfill these qualities is not to be followed. It is Haraam to refer to them. A couple of traditions are quoted below in this regard.
Religious Leaders Who Worship the World are Bandits on the Highway to Allah
It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "When you see a religious scholar in love of this world, do not consider him religious. Certainly one who loves an object, his condition and disposition is like that of his beloved. (It means that one who loves this world will not care for the Hereafter). Allah revealed upon Hazrat Dawood (a.s.)
"O Dawood do not make an Aalim an intermediary between you and Me, who is involved in the love of this world. He will hinder you from My path (i.e. he will make you too a worshipper of the world like himself). Certainly such Aalims are bandits who waylay the people approaching My abode. The least that I would do to them is that I shall remove from their hearts the love of conversation with Me and sweetness too."
A Faqih Should Only be For Allah
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) states,
"If one obtains knowledge in order to become conceited or to argue with the foolish people or to obtain wealth or to attract people towards himself then he has certainly made the Fire his abode. Verily, acquisition of wealth is not permitted but for ones own family (needs)."
The Common People are 'Deficient'
People who leave aside the scholars of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and refer to others in order to satisfy their selfish desires, are termed as 'deficient' (which means those who willfully neglect the Divine commands). They are mentioned in the following verse of the Holy Quran:
"Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his god."
(Surah Jasiyah 45:23)
Tawheed and Shirk in Worship
The Almighty Allah has invited all the creatures to pay obeisance to Him in order that His Majesty may become manifest. The people can obtain numerous
Second Greater Sin Yaas
Second Greater Sin
The second Greater Sin is to despair of the Mercy of Allah. "Al-yaa-so Min Roohallah" (To despair of the Rooh of Allah) Rooh: according to the dictionary means a breeze that pleases and comforts. Those who do not believe in the Power, the Mercy and Bounty of Allah, develop a kind of despair. The Holy Quran has termed such people as Unbelievers (Kafir).
"...and despair not of Allah's Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah's Mercy except the unbelieving people."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)
The Holy Imams, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.), Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have classified "despairing of the Mercy of Allah", to be a Greater Sin; as we have mentioned at the beginning.
The Greatest Sin After 'Shirk'
After 'shirk' no sin could be greater than to despair of Allah's mercy and benevolence. This attitude reduces a person to a state of utter hopelessness. He imagines himself to be destined for Hell, and therefore he sees no benefit in doing good and avoiding evil. Consequently he tries to achieve as much worldly pleasure as possible and thus gets further involved in all kinds of sinful acts. Any other type of sinner could be pardoned if he repents. But the one who despairs does not deserve to be pardoned because the mental condition of such a person does not lead him towards repentance, but instead, induces him to continue to commit further acts of transgression against Allah's commands.
Hence it means that despair is the greatest of the sins. It is appropriate therefore that all the different kinds of despair may be explained and also their cures, so that the believers can keep themselves away from them.
The Almighty Allah has created a cause of all the phenomena of this world by His unlimited power and absolute strength. For example, in the physical affairs food is needed for satiation of hunger, water for quenching thirst, doctor and medicine for curing diseases and work for removing poverty.
In the same way the spiritual phenomena also depend upon various causes. The salvation of a sinner depends upon his repentance, the achievement of absolute belief needs the guidance of an infallible guide (Imam), and the attainment of grades in piety and the high stages of the hereafter depend upon the purity of intention in the deeds performed. The aim of creating man was to make him think and recognise Allah in the proper way. But the complete recognition or belief is not possible till man realises that the Creator of causes as well as effects is Allah. The causes by themselves cannot bring out an effect till the One who has created these causes gives the capability to the cause to bring out such effect. Therefore one should not be pleased at the apparent causes or be aggrieved due to their absence.
Cause is Not Independent
When causes that would fulfill needs or desires appear, man becomes happy and he believes in the Might of Allah. But when these causes fail to have any effect he becomes sorrowful. In order to avoid such a situation Allah has laid down a procedure. Firstly he renders the causes ineffective so that the believer may not consider these to be originally having the effective properties. On the other hand he creates the factors which were hereto non-existent, so that the believing people may not fall into despair. A few examples are mentioned to explain this fact.
Fire Did Not Burn - Knife Did Not Cut
The fire ignited by the order of Namrood to burn Ibrahim (a.s.) was made bereft of its burning property, by Allah. It is said, that the fire was so intense that birds flying at a height of three miles used to be scorched by the heat and drop dead.
So they threw Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) into the fire with the help of a catapult from far away. In the Holy Quran Allah says:
"We said: O fire! be coolness and peace to Ibrahim."
(Surah Anbiya 21:69)
The fire immediately lost its essential property of burning, and cooled down; and if Allah had not ordered it to be peaceful (safe) for Ibrahim (a.s.) it would have become colder and may have frozen Ibrahim (a.s.) to death.
In the same way when Ibrahim (a.s.) proceeded to slaughter his son Ismail (a.s.) the knife was blunted by Allah's command. Ibrahim (a.s.) threw the knife away and a voice emerged from it. "The Khalil (friend) of Allah commands me to cut and the Lord of the Khalil restrains me from it."
Musa (a.s.) and Firon
History records that the tyrant rulers have always oppressed Allah's representative on earth, the Prophets and the Imams. These rulers have made relentless use of all the might and power at their command to pursue the Prophets and terminate their lives. But the Almighty Allah used to render their efforts null and void. The life of Musa (a.s.) during the reign of Firon is full of such instances from the beginning to end.
A powerful king like Firon wanted to kill Hazrat Musa (a.s.) while he was still in his mother's womb, but he did not succeed and Musa (a.s.) was born. Firon continued in his efforts to murder him but all his plans were foiled by Allah. Physical and spiritual causes are of no significance in comparison to the Divine decree. Thus Musa (a.s.) was not only born safely but grew up in Firon's own palace and in his own lap.
"And Firon's wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to you; do not slay him; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son; and they did not perceive."
(Surah Qasas 28:9)
The Attack of Abraha on the Ka'ba
In the year of the birth of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the army of Najjashi came to attack the Holy Ka'ba. It was led by the commander Abraha. The army consisted of elephants and possessed all the armaments of war. Abraha, proud of his large army and weapons was confident of success. But the creator of all causes weakened their efforts. When Allah willed all the human and animals in the army came to a standstill. However much they tried, the elephants refused to move towards the sacred house.
On the other hand 'Ababeel' appeared on the horizon. Each of these birds carried three pebbles; one in the beak and one each in their claws. They surrounded the complete army and began to pelt them with pebbles. Each pebble fell on the head of the soldiers and pierced through their body to reach the ground and sank into it. Consequently the entire army perished, except one soldier. This soldier retreated to king Najjashi and related the episode in detail. This incident gained so much importance that the year began to be referred to as 'Aamul Feel', or the year of the Elephant. Thus the history of Arabs record the birth of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to be in the year 1st Aamul Feel and the year of his Be'sat (declaration of Prophethood) to be 40th Aamul Feel.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and How His Life was Saved
The protection of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) from the blood thirsty people of Makkah and later his being shielded from death in the various battles is considered to be a sign of Allah. All the polytheists had united to martyr the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) right from the day he declared his Prophethood. They had all the means to achieve their purpose but as a Persian couplet says: "Who can extinguish the lamp lighted by Allah."
He Creates Without an Apparent Cause
Even if the apparent causes, both material and non-material ones, are absent, Allah creates them by His unsurpassed power. There are numerous examples of such a phenomenon. The foremost example is that of the father of man, Hazrat Adam (a.s.) whom Allah created without the union of a male and a female. Adam (a.s.) came into existence from non-existence. Similarly Prophet Isa (a.s.) was born to the chaste maid, Janabe Maryam (a.s.) even though a man had not touched her.
Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) when he had reached an extremely old age and when his wife had lost all hopes of conceiving. Hazrat Ishaq (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) when Hazrat Ibrahim was aged and inspite of his wife Janabe Sarah being barren previously.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) And His Knowledge
The Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) did not attend any school nor did he learn from any teacher. He was not trained to read and write by any mortal. Yet, he was the teacher of humanity and was having command upon the Quranic sciences. In fact his personality was a conglomeration of the qualities of all the previous prophets. The presence of such outstanding qualities in one person without any apparent causes, can only be understood to be the Divine will.
Invocations are Answered Without the Presence of Apparent Means
The Beneficial God listens to the invocations of His creatures and fulfills their desires. Many a times we see that people who have no means whatsoever are able to get rid of their afflictions and distress. Due to the grace of Sadaqah, incurable diseases are cured and destitutes become rich. People surrounded by calamities are saved in ways they could not have even imagined.
The traditional reports are replete with such instances. The unlimited beneficence and grace of the Almighty Allah has been described by Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) in the following couplets:
"Only the wise could estimate, the unlimited Grace of the Almighty Allah who releases us from calamities, and removes grief from the defeated hearts. On numerous occasions, man is sorrowful in the morning. But by evening his disposition changes into happiness. So when you are surrounded by difficulties, repose absolute hope in the Unique God."
Love of Ali (a.s.)
Imam Yafai writes in his book, 'Rawzatul Rehayeen' the explanation of Diwan-e-Mubeedi and says, "A certain king gave a pearl to his jeweller. The jeweller's child somehow got hold of this pearl and broke it into two pieces. The jeweller was in agony. He was asked by some person to recite the above mentioned couplets of Imam Ali (a.s.) with sincerity. Hardly had he begun to recite that a messenger from the king arrived. He told him that physicians have suggested that if his pearl is powered and given to the sick princess she would be cured of her malady. The King has sent orders to the jeweller to powder that pearl at once and take it to the palace.
The Destiny of Man
The spiritual factors which are connected with the hereafter have some causes, the affect of which is kept in abeyance by the Will of Allah. For example those who perform Jehad against their ownselves achieve for themselves a high position in the Hereafter. Those who do not believe in the prophets, the deeds of such people are nullified.
Balam Baoor and his Eternal Damnation
Balam Baoor had achieved a high stage of perfection. But in order to please the ruler he started opposing the prophet of his time. Consequently he became involved in a life of sin from which it was not possible to extricate himself. He was doomed to Hell, to the seventh stage of the fire that is the worst of the stages of Hell. He is compared to a dog in the holy Quran,
"And if We had pleased, We would certainly have exalted him thereby; but he clung to the earth and followed his low desire, so his parable is as the parable of the dog; if you attack him he lolls out his tongue; this is the parable of the people who reject our communications; therefore relate the narrative that they may reflect."
(Surah Araf 7:176)
Believing people are those who have realised Allah. The believing people should be particularly careful not to confuse the apparent causes as the basis of all phenomena. Inspite of realising the supreme authority of Allah and His creations, a public misconception in this regard can damn them to perdition. They should know that they could be damned to perdition if they depend upon the apparent causes and consider them to be the basis of all phenomena because the centre of all phenomena is Allah. He is capable of making all the causes ineffective.
Beauty of the Hereafter
When all the means of salvation are annihilated, the Almighty Allah creates a cause due to his unlimited Mercy. Numerous traditions report incidents where people who had been involved in calamities and damned for destruction were, in the last moments, saved by Allah. They had been completely lost in the darkness of sins but were summoned towards their Lord by His limitless Mercy. The desolate deserts of their life were once again green and fertile. The bounties of Allah bestowed upon them surprised all the intelligent witnesses of these incidents.
The Magicians of Firon
Magic is a Great Sin and the worst of the professions. A magician is destined to Divine punishment, and Hell will be his abode. The magicians of Firon, were ordered to challenge Hazrat Musa (a.s.) and belittle him. But their wicked craft was of no avail, and they failed miserably. At that moment Divine Grace descended. The magicians intuitively sensed the power of Allah that gave Hazrat Musa (a.s.) superiority over them. Neither the lure of wealth nor the warning of torture and death by Firon could shake their belief. They were redeemed.
"Certainly I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and certainly I will crucify you all. They said: No Harm; surely to our Lord we go back."
(Surah Shura 26:49-50)
Asiya was a Believing Woman
Upon whomsoever He wishes, Allah bestows a respectable position in this world, as well as the hereafter. Asiya, Firon's wife was leading a life of affluence and material comforts, when her heart became illuminated by the light of belief. Even though she had to go through untold hardships because of her husband Firon, she did not flinch. She declared her belief in Allah and His Prophet, Musa (a.s.), without any fear. At the time of her death, when she was being martyred, she prayed to her Lord.
"...she said: My Lord! build for me a house with Thee in the Garden and deliver me from Firon and his doings, and deliver me from the unjust people."
(Surah Tahrim 66:11)
People of the Cave
The people of the cave whose number is said to be seven were living during the reign of the tyrant king Daqiyanoos. Daqiyanoos had claimed divinity and people used to follow him. But suddenly the hearts of these seven people became illuminated with true belief.
They set aside the false claims of Daqiyanoos and in order to tread the path of true beliefs, renounced the worldly power and headed for the mountains and hid themselves in a cave.
This incident is described in detail in Surah Kahf. Their example is preserved in history till the Day of the Judgement.
Realisation Before Death
It is known that there have been people so much involved in sins that their salvation appeared impossible. But in their last moments, realisation dawned on them and they prayed for pardon. Due to their sincere repentance all their sins were pardoned and the Mercy of the Merciful Allah came to their rescue. Thus, they were able to achieve salvation and happiness in the hereafter. They shall be among the successful ones on the Day of the Judgement.
Immediate Death on Embracing Islam
One such fortunate person was a Jew at the battle of Uhud. His name was 'Makhreeq'. He addressed his tribesmen as follows: "You are not aware that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is the truthful and the promised Prophet." They replied, "How do you know we are not aware?" "Then why don't you come for his help?" he asked. The tribe said. "Today is Saturday (sabbath)." He said, "But that was at the time of Hazrat Musa (a.s.), it is abrogated by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and is not acceptable to him." When he did not receive any response from the people of his tribe he went to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and became a Muslim. He was extremely wealthy. He entrusted all his wealth to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and himself entered the battlefield to face the unbelievers. He was soon martyred. It is said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) often gave charity from the property of Makhreeq, the martyr.
Hur ibn Yazid Riyaahi was the commander of Ibn Ziyad. He had obstructed the way of Imam Husain (a.s.) and forced him to halt at Karbala. This despicable act would have condemned him to eternal damnation. But when he heard the sermon of Imam Husain (a.s.) on the day of Ashura and also his Isteghasa, (call for help) his heart underwent a transformation. The Mercy and the Grace of Allah came to his rescue. He repented sincerely and aligned himself with the martyrs of Karbala. In this way he was able to achieve eternal bliss. In the last moments of his life Imam Husain (a.s.) gave him the good news, "You are 'Hur' (Free) as your mother has named you."
Wise People Never Lose Hope
One should never lose hope of achieving high moral traits and perfection in one's faith. In fact one should not even doubt the possibility of achieving it. Even though this type of deficiency in hope is not totally Haraam, yet the true believer should refrain from it. On the other hand he should not consider his apparent capabilities; like youth, strength, wisdom, capacity to think, ability to work, enthusiasm, love etc. to be sufficient for success in the hereafter
Many a people had lacked the above qualities but when the Mercy and Grace of Allah came to their aid, they were raised to a high position. For example people like Fuzail ibn Ayaz, Imran Sabi, Barham Nasrani and Sahib Riyaz who received the Tawfeeq from Allah when had become weak due to old age and were incapable of hardwork and active life, yet they achieved an exalted position.
Hopelessness is a Great Sin
Hopelessness is a Greater Sin because it implies negation of the Absolute Sovereignty of the Almighty. A heart illumined with the knowledge that Allah the Creator of all existing things is the best Planner, the best Executor and the best Protector; a person who has the knowledge that it is Allah who bestows a super-abundance of sustenance, security and welfare on His creatures because of His boundless Mercy, limitless Generosity and unsurpassed Knowledge, will be comforted and reassured. The heart of such a person will be calm and peaceful and the question of feeling sorrowful and aggrieved will just not arise. The creator is not unmindful of the needs of a child in its mother's womb. Nourishment is supplied to him through the umbilical cord. When the child is born, Allah provides him through his mother, wholesome and easily digestible milk. Gradually Allah develops in him various capabilities needed for the different stages of his growth.
To ensure the security and happiness of the child Allah creates deep and abiding affection in the heart of the mother for the child; and she is prepared to sacrifice all her comforts and pleasures for the child's sake.
After having the awareness, discussed above, is it possible for one to lose hope in his Lord? No! In fact it makes it easy to repose faith in the Creator and go through all the ups and downs of life with resignation and fortitude.
Hopelessness is a Sign of Disbelief and Lack of Knowledge
Despair is a form of hidden disbelief. It is the result of ignorance about the greatness of one's Lord (Allah). Giving in to despair is equivalent to disbelieving in one's Lord (Allah), which is a Greater Sin. One should therefore be extremely cautious and guard against putting oneself in such a woeful state. The noble Quran explains this in the verse,
"... Surely none despairs of Allah's Mercy except the unbelieving people."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)
Hope is Embedded in Human Psychology
The Almighty in His infinite Mercy, has embedded hope in human psychology. Even in the worst of circumstances, there is a faint glimmer of hope in the human heart, and this helps him to overcome his feeling of hopelessness. He therefore turns to his Lord and supplicates for Mercy, forgiveness and redress, and Allah never turns away a supplicant.
The Cure of Hopelessness
1. Power of Allah
Praise be to Allah for His supreme and absolute authority over the vast universe; the earth and the seven skies. He sets the course of the stars and the planets; and not a leaf falls without His permission. He is able to do what He wills. Intellect and reason get bewildered in trying to understand His Might and Greatness. Can such an Almighty be unable to fulfill the meagre needs of his creatures. Certainly not! So how can hopelessness be justified.
2. Personal Experiences
One must ponder upon the various blessings Allah bestowed on us in the past and which we had taken for granted. The Almighty has brought us safely out of the darkness of the womb. He is thoughtful of our needs and He knows them better than our ownselves, and fulfills them without our asking. He has rescued us from many a dangerous situations, disease and calamities. He has bestowed numerous blessings, physical, material, mental, social and spiritual upon us yet we become confident of our standing as individuals. Then why should there be hopelessness? Is He unaware of our condition? I seek forgiveness from the Almighty Allah! Allah is far too exalted.
Let us study the situation of those who were in extremely difficult times but were hopeful of the Lord's Benevolence and Mercy. They continued to entreat Allah till He accepted their prayers and redressed them.
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and His Male Child
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was one hundred and twelve years and according to another report one hundred and twenty years. His respected wife Hazrat Sarah was ninety-seven years. They did not have any children. Allah sent to them an Angel to inform them that they would be gifted with a son.
"And his wife was standing (by), so she laughed, then We gave her the good news of Ishaq and after Ishaq of (a son's son) Yaqub."
"She said: O wonder! Shall I bear a son when I am an extremely old woman and this my husband an extremely old man? Most surely this is a wonderful thing."
"They said: Do you wonder at Allah's bidding? The Mercy of Allah and His blessings are on you, O People of the house, surely He is Praised, Glorious."
(Surah Hud 11: 71-73)
In brief, the Mercy of Allah blessed Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Janabe Sarah with a son, Ishaq, at an age when it could never have been expected.
Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) and his Son Yahya (a.s.)
The age of Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) was ninety-nine years and that of his wife eighty nine. Yet, he was hopeful of the Grace of Allah and he prayed with sincerity, "He said My Lord! Surely my bones are weakened and my head flares with hoariness, and my Lord! I have never been unsuccessful in my prayer to Thee: And surely I fear my cousins after me, and my wife is barren, therefore grant me from Thyself an heir, who would inherit me and inherit from the children of Yaqub, and make him, my Lord, one in whom Thou art well pleased."
O Zakaria! Surely We give you good news of a boy whose name shall be Yahya: We have not made before anyone his equal. He said,
"O my Lord! When shall I have a son, and my wife is barren, and I myself have reached the extreme degree of old age? He said: "So shall It be, your Lord says: It is easy to Me, and indeed I created you before, when you were nothing."
(Surah Maryam 19:4-9)
Thus Allah accepted the invocation of Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) and Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) was born to him.
If one is suffering from some disease for a long time and there seems to be no hope of curing it, one must consider this disease to be a penalty for his sins (kaffara).
On the other hand if due to his prayers and Sadaqah the disease is cured it becomes a mean of salvation.
Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.) and Tribulations
If one intends to achieve humility and insight, he must study the life of Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.). After being inflicted with a horrible disease for seven years and according to other reports for eighteen years, he prayed to Allah.
"And Ayyub, when he cried to his Lord, (saying): Harm has afflicted me, and Thou art the most Merciful of the Mercifuls."
(Surah Anbiya 21:83)
Allah responded to his entreaty by curing his malady and also gave him wealth as before.
Hidden Wisdom in Poverty and Destitution
If one is afflicted with poverty for a long time and is unable to see a way out, then this situation can be viewed in two ways: First, it is possible that there may be a hidden wisdom in his poverty, and if he had access to this knowledge he may himself choose this state for himself and be happy in the bargain.
Secondly, those who spend the earlier part of life in poverty usually become enriched at a later stage and therefore have a comfortable time in their old age.
Wealth in the Empty Hands
As an example an incident is quoted from the book "Faraz Baadashshuda": A rich businessman says, 'I was travelling for Hajj and had 3000 dinars and gold and silver ornaments with me. I had tied them up in a bag attached to my cummerbund. But I dropped this bag when I went to answer the call of nature. I had proceeded many miles further, when I realized my bag was missing. I had a lot of wealth so I did not find it imperative to go back and look for my money nor was it possible to return. When I came back to my native place one calamity upon another befell me. Gradually all my wealth disappeared. My public respect began to change into shame. Due to embarrassment before friends, gossip of the enemies and further destitution I was compelled to leave my native village. During this journey I spent a night in a hamlet. At this time, all the money I had was one-sixth of a silver coin. It was a dark, rainy night. I took my wife to a cheap hostel for the night. All of a sudden my wife began to have labour pains and a child was born. My wife said that she needed something to eat, otherwise she may starve to death. I took the small silver coin and knocked at the door of a vegetable seller. After repeated requests he opened the door. I explained to him my circumstances and gave him the coin. He brought some curd and ghee in an earthen bowl. As I turned back and walked a few paces, I slipped and the earthen bowl dropped from my hands and broke. I was struck with grief and could not control myself. I began to slap my face and yelled loudly. The window of a nearby house opened and someone enquired as to who I was and why was I creating a din and disturbing the neighbourhood. I explained my circumstances in brief and added that I, my wife and the child were starving of hunger, and this misfortune has befallen me. The man asked, "Is your hue and cry only for a piece of silver." 'No', I said, "I had never been so miserly." Then I told him about the year when I had lost my bag of 3000 dinars and ornaments. He asked me if there were any distinguishing marks on my moneybag. I thought he was trying to fool me, so I protested. But he insisted and I told him. Then he called me in his house and sent his slave to get my wife and child. The slave returned with my wife and child, and our host put us up for the night. In the morning he gave some dinars and said that till my wife recovers, we must stay in his house. Ten days passed in this manner. Everyday he used to give us some dinars. Then one day he asked me about my profession. When I told him that I was an expert trader, he gave me some money and told me to start a business. After conducting the business for some months, I offered him his share of the profits. He went into the other room and returned with the moneybag that I had lost years ago. I was overjoyed to see it and became unconscious due to the excitement. I thanked Allah and returned to my native village. Gradually my economic conditions began to change and once more I was a rich man.
" It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, maybe that you love a thing while it is evil for you."
(Surah Baqarah 2:216).
"Allah brings about ease after difficulty."
(Surah Talaq 65:7)
Cure for Hopelessness in Difficult Times
If a person is involved in worldly problems he should turn towards two realities. Firstly, this world is a place of test and trial for everyone. There is no one who could escape its clutches. Secondly, one must look at the conditions of people who are worse off than us. In this way one can get peace and solace by comparing ones condition with that of others. Even in the greatest calamities, we should continue to rely upon the Mercy of Allah. Many a people of the past had been afflicted with tribulations with no relief in sight. But the Merciful Allah gave them success. In the book "Faraj Baad as Shiddah" the respected author, Husain bin Saeed Dabistani has recorded more than 500 incidents where people, surrounded by troubles from all sides were given relief by Allah after all hopes were shattered. Further we ourselves witness many cases where the invocations and Sadaqah of the religious personalities help the people out of difficult situations. In the same book there is an incident where a resident of Madinah says, "I was rich and had all the good things in life. Eventually I became poor and destitute. So I went to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and told him of my problems. He expressed pity upon my condition and recited the following couplets for my sake, "If you fall into difficult times do not be impatient. Because for a long time you have experienced comfort.
Then after every discomfort is comfort and consolation. And the saying of Allah is the most truthful. 'So do not despair, certainly despair is disbelief.' Allah may enrich you in a short while. After that do not forget your Lord. Certainly Allah fulfills His promise. If the intellect had the capacity to produce food the wealth of the world would be only with the intellectuals. Beware, do not lose hope when you face calamities. Behind the curtains are concealed astounding candles (of hope)."
The narrator says, "When I heard these lines my grief changed into happiness and hopelessness turned into optimism. Very soon the doors of Mercy opened upon me and my bad times changed for the good."
This book relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that to ward off calamities this Quranic verse should be recited.
"There is no God but Thou, glory be to Thee, surely I am of those who make themselves to suffer loss." (Surah Anbiya 21:87) "Allah is my Lord, and I do not associate him with anything."
We should remember that despair is the worst of the sins, because it implies that the connection between Allah and his creature has been severed. It signifies turning away from the Divine nature. Because even if an iota of belief remains in a person's heart, he could not severe relations with his Nourisher and Cherisher. It may be that sometimes a sort of hopelessness pervades his imagination but he soon recovers and repents of his sin.
Every Sin is Pardonable
According to the verse of the Holy Quran and Mutawatir (widely related) traditions all the sins which man commits are pardonable if he repents sincerely. It is wrong to say that such a sin can never be pardoned. The Almighty Allah says in the Glorious Quran,
"And He it is who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds and He knows what you do."
(Surah Shura 42:25)
Allah has mentioned His names as:
1) Tawwabun (one who accepts Tawbah)
2) Gaffarun (one who pardons)
3) Ghafoorun (one who forgives totally)
4) Ghaaferuz Zanbe (Pardoner of sins)
5) Qaabelut Tawbah (one who accepts repentance)
Allah has given a general invitation to all the people to turn towards Him and seek forgiveness for their sins. If we study the meaning of the 54th verse of Surah Zumar we find that sinners have no cause to lose hope. This Ayat is also known as Ayat-e-Rehmat (The verse of Mercy).
"Say: O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah ; Surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
(Surah Zumar 39:53).
A few points must be noted from the above verse.
Firstly, Allah says, 'O my servant' and not 'O sinners!' Even though he is addressing the sinners he addresses them as 'my servants'. So that the hopelessness of the servants may be transformed into hope in His Mercy.
Secondly, he says, "Who have acted extravagantly." This denotes a soft approach. Allah does not say 'O you who have acted blatantly,' So that the sinners may not lose hope of obtaining pardon.
Hopelessness is Haraam
The third point to be noted is that the Almighty Allah has told the sinners, "Do not despair of the Divine Mercy." The use of a negative term signifies the prohibition of hopelessness. Also it means that to lose hope regarding salvation is Haraam.
The fourth point is that Allah did not stop at this, He further adds, "Surely Allah forgives the faults altogether," signifying that the statement covers all the sins.
Fifth Point: The addition of the word 'altogether' at the end signifies that the statement includes all sins without any exception.
Sixth Point: The last point is that at the end of the verse, Allah repeats, "Surely He is the forgiving, the merciful," to stress upon the fact that Allah desires and wishes to forgive those who repent.
Repentance of the Killer of a Prophet is also Acceptable
Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari (r.a.) relates that a woman came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and asked, "If a woman kills her child can she seek pardon?" The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"By Allah in whose control is the life of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) even if this woman has killed seventy Prophets and then feels remorse and repents and Allah is convinced of her sincerity and the truth of her statement, upon the condition that she does not repeat the sin, her repentance shall be accepted. And her sins would be pardoned. Surely Allah is oft forgiving and forgives, ever so beyond measure. Verily one who repents (sincerely) is; as if he has never committed that sin."
Despair in the Acceptance of Prayers is Also Improper
If we pray to Allah for some worldly benefits or the Hereafter and our prayer is not answered it raises two noteworthy points. Firstly, we must know that Allah has promised to accept all prayers and Allah never goes back on His word.
As it is mentioned in the Holy book,
"And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me."
(Surah Baqarah 2:186)
At another place Allah says,
"And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you."
(Surah Momin 40:60)
The second point is that due to His unlimited wisdom He may delay the acceptance of some prayer. So if we do not get immediate gratification we should not lose hope of having our prayers accepted.
Prayers May Not Be Accepted Due to Sins
Sometimes the sins of a person come in the way of the acceptance of his prayers. At other times Allah may delay the acceptance due to some hidden wisdom. This would compel the person to repeat his prayers and thus he would be entitled for additional sawaab. The opportunity to invocate is itself a blessing of Allah.
Another possibility is that Allah wishes to hear the entreaties of His creature many a times before He fulfills his wishes.
Delay in the Acceptance of Prayers Causes Nearness to Allah
Sometimes there is a delay in the acceptance of prayers because, to supplicate Allah continuously is the best of worship. It is the Mercy of Allah that he may want us to continue to pray to Him. It is a means of seeking nearness to Him. For whomsoever He wishes good, He gives him the Tawfeeq of supplicating Him by delaying the acceptance of his prayers.
Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the book 'Hayatul Qulub' that Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says in a reliable tradition, "Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) used to visit the populated cities and the desolate forests so that he could derive lessons from the creatures of Allah. One day he saw a worshipper busy in prayers. His dress was made of fur and the surroundings filled with his intonation. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was astonished at his appearance. He went towards him, sat down and waited for him to conclude his prayers. When he finished his prayers, Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "I appreciate your way and want to befriend you. Tell me where do you stay so that I could come to meet you whenever I want." He said, "You will not be able to travel on my path."
"I walk on the surface of the water."
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "The Almighty Allah who has given you the capacity to walk on water, can also enable me to do so. Come, arise, today I shall spend the night with you at your residence.
When they reached the bank of the river the man uttered "Bismillah" and stepped in the river and was soon on the other side of it. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) also recited Bismillah and crossed the river. This man was astounded. Then both of them entered his house.
Ibrahim (a.s.) asked him, "Which is the most difficult day?" He replied, "The day Allah will reward and punish all His creatures according to their deeds." Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Let us together pray that Allah may protect us from the hardships of this day."
According to another report Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Let us pray together for the sinful believers." The worshipper said, "I will not participate in this prayer because I have been praying for something for the past thirty years and till date it has not been fulfilled, so there is no scope in praying for something else."
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "O worshipper! when Allah holds a creature dear He delays the acceptance of his prayers so that he may continue to plead and supplicate Him. On the other hand when He dislikes a person He answers his prayers immediately or creates hopelessness in his heart so that he would stop praying."
Then he asked the worshipper about his prayer which has not been accepted till then. He said, "One day I was busy in my prayers when I saw a handsome boy grazing a herd of sheep and goats. I asked him whose animals were those. He said they belonged to him. Then I asked him who he was. He said that he was the son of Khalilullah (Friend of Allah) Ibrahim (a.s.) and that his name was Ismail. At that moment I prayed to Allah to let me see my 'Khalil' Ibrahim (a.s.)." Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Now your prayer has been answered. I am that Ibrahim (a.s.)." The worshipper became extremely overjoyed and embraced Ibrahim (a.s.). He kissed his head, eyes and hands and thanked the Almighty Allah with sincerity. After this both of them together prayed for the believing men and women.
Fourth Greater Sin Al Amno Min Makrillah
Fourth Greater Sin
AL AMNO MIN MAKRILLAH
(Disregard of Allah's punishment)
Heedlessness to Allah's Anger and Retribution
One of the Greater Sins is a total disregard for Divine punishment. The person is fearless of the unseen retribution and scoffs at the idea of being punished for his actions. He lives blissfully in a world of material comforts and does not realise that he is fettered down by his sins. This is a Greater Sin. The Holy Imams, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.) have classified the fearlessness of Allah's punishment among the Greater Sins. The Qur'an announces:
"What! do the people of the towns then feel secure from Our punishment coming to them by night while they are asleep?"
(Surah Araf 7:97)
"What! do the people of the towns feel secure from Our punishment coming to them in the morning while they play?"
(Surah Araf 7:98)
"What! do they feel secure from Allah's plan? But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish."
(Surah Araf 7:99)
These three verses clearly prohibit the fearlessness of the punishment of Allah. The last verse mentions that those who do not fear Allah's punishment would be losers in the hereafter. Divine retribution will be their lot on the Day of Judgement, as will be the fate of the unbelievers and the non-repentant sinners.
It is clear from the Quran that to remain heedless of Allah's plan is a Greater Sin. Hence carelessness about the punishment and warnings of Allah is equivalent to disregard of His orders and prohibitions and an abject ignorance of His Supremacy. How can a lowly and insignificant being, now dare to oppose the Lord of the two worlds. This heedlessness and disregard is a Greater Sin that does not merit pardon, except that the sinner feels remorse and asks for forgiveness. It would appear from the above discussion that whether a sin is pardonable or not depends more on the attitude of the sinner, rather than the sin itself. If in the innermost recesses of his heart, the transgressor is fearful of Allah, he is deserving of forgiveness, but if he is brazenly fearless of Allah's punishment, he is most unfit for pardon and mercy.
The plan of Allah means a sudden punishment that descends upon the sinners, as mentioned in the Divine book,
"Does man think that he is to be left to wander without an aim?"
(Surah Qiyamat 75:36)
'Allah's plan' includes 'Imla'. From the time Allah created man it has been a Divine practice that the thankless ones and the sinners should not be punished for their sins immediately. Rather they are given a long respite. Since everyone is prone to sin except the Infallibles, if each one were to be punished for their misdeeds immediately, not a single person would remain on the face of the earth. Allah has stated in the Holy Qur'an,
"And if Allah had destroyed men for their inequity, He would not leave on the earth a single creature, but He respites them till an appointed time..."
(Surah Nahl 16:61)
Besides, Imla proves to be the Grace of Allah for the pious. It gives them time to reflect upon their behaviour, realise their mistakes, repent, and make a firm intention not to repeat their sins. Allah's indulgence thus helps them to achieve the good in this world and the hereafter. On the other hand indulgence shown to unrepentant sinners only makes them heedless of the fact that eventually they will be accountable for their deeds. They continue to commit one sin upon another and when their corruption reaches a limit, a sudden punishment descends upon them.
"And I grant them respite; surely My scheme is effective."
(Surah Araf 7:183)
Disbelievers and sinners leading successful and comfortable lives may conceitedly feel that their capabilities have brought them success but in reality all that they have is a form of punishment from Allah and a sort of retribution which is referred to as 'the Plan of Allah."
Respite for the Wrong Doers
The Glorious Quran quotes thus,
"And let not those who disbelieve think that Our granting them respite is better for their souls; We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and they shall have a disgraceful chastisement."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:178)
Imam Reza (a.s.) said,
"By Allah, they have not been punished with anything more severe than Imla (respite)." (Safinatun Behaar)
Imam Sajjad (a.s.) has mentioned in Dua-e-Makarimul Akhlaq:
"(O Allah). Give me such a life that my (long) life is spent in obedience to you. And when my life becomes a field of Satan take away my soul towards you (before I become eligible for Divine retribution)."
Istedraaj (Drawing Near)
Istedraaj is also included in Allah's plan. At times the respite granted by Allah also includes a new blessing. Allah bestows His bounties upon a person who has sinned so that he may feel ashamed of himself and make amends. Instead, the person often develops confidence and blatantly commits more sins. Such unfortunate people are mentioned in the following verse of Quran:
"And (as to) those who reject Our communications, We draw them near (to destruction) by degrees from whence they know not."
(Surah Araf 7:182)
It is recorded in Safinatul Behaar, "When Allah wishes good for a person and he commits a sin, Allah involves him in difficulties so that he may become aware that the cause of his problems is his own sin. He can then repent for it (immediately). When Allah wishes to punish a person who commits a sin, He gives him a new form of blessing so that he may be dazzled by the blessing and ignore repentance. This is what Allah means in the Ayat (quoted above)."
Istedraaj denotes failure to repent
When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked the meaning of "Istedraaj" he replied:
"When a person commits a sin he is given respite and a new blessing, then when he fails to repent he is slowly led towards destruction; about which he is heedless. This is known as Istedraj and 'Allah's Plan."
It is related from Amirul Momineen (a.s.) that he said:
"Certainly, those who are given an increase in wealth and property by Allah, should not think anything but that it is Istedraaj. They should not be fearless (of Allah's plan). Because calm precedes storm."
Fearlessness of Allah's Plan
Allah possesses two kinds of qualities, the Jamali (good) and Jalali (severe). Example of Jamali qualities are His being Rahman (Beneficent), Raheem (Merciful), Kareem (Generous), Haleem (Magnanimous), Shakoor (Thankful), Ghafoor (one who forgives).
The Jalali qualities are His being Jabbar (Mighty), Qahhar (One who punishes), Muntaqim (One who retributes), Muzallil (One who degrades), Mutakabbir (Proud) and Shadeedul Iqab (Severe in punishing). Hence Allah informs of His good qualities and then warns of His Severity:
"Inform My servants that I am the Forgiving, The Merciful, and that My punishment - that is the painful punishment."
(Surah Hujarat 49:50)
Elsewhere Allah says,
"The Forgiver of faults and the Acceptor of repentance, severe to punish, Lord of bounty."
(Surah Momin 40:3)
Thus Allah is the most Merciful of the mercifuls in the matter of forgiveness and also the most severe in retribution.
Fear and Hope Are the Signs of Marefat
One who recognizes the boundless expanse of Allah's Mercy is bound to have great hopes; if he has repented, his sins will be forgiven, if he has worshipped Allah, his invocation will be accepted and Allah in His generosity will let him have the maximum benefits. Allah is known to be the 'Forgiver of sins' and 'Acceptor of prayers'. In the same way the knowledge of the severity of Allah's chastisement for every sin will make one tremble with fear. The fear of Allah inspires a person with Tawfeeq that insulates him from transgressing the bounds of prohibitions, and compels him towards sincere repentance. When we are in the throes of temptation to commit an aggression, we have to be extremely cautious not to give in. It may so happen that the particular sin we are about to commit will seal our fate and deprive us forever, of Allah's Mercy and forgiveness. It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"One who intends to commit a sin (should control his selfish desires and) must not put it to practice. Certainly when (sometimes) a person commits a sin, Allah dislikes him and says: "By My Honour and Greatness I will not forgive you after this."
Since there is a possibility that a sin may not be eligible for pardon, it is extremely important that we keep ourselves protected from every sin; be it big or small. In fact the sins which do not deserve to be pardoned are regarded as insignificant by the one who commits them.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) states:
"You must fear the small sins, for they are not pardoned."
The narrator asked, "What is meant by 'small'?" Imam replied;
"A person commits a sin which he considers to be insignificant and says, "I deserve admiration for I have not committed a sin as serious as that of the other person."
Speech and Action Should Be Guarded By Divine Fear and Hope
Even if the sinner repents for his sins, he should continue to be fearful. It may be that his repentance has not fulfilled the necessary conditions. For example, he have made an intention of not repeating a sin, but later he does not remain firm upon it. We should therefore continue to live between fear and hope till the end of our lives, hoping for Allah's rewards for our good deeds and dreading the accountability of our sins committed knowingly or unintentionally.
One Must Fear the Acceptance of His Prayers
If a prayer is not accepted it should be feared that (maybe) it is because of our sins. And if it is granted, it may be that one is so disliked by Allah that He could not stand his invocation again and again and has thus accepted his prayers immediately.
Separation is the Most Painful Experience
If we are able to achieve success, be it material, intellectual or even spiritual, at all times we should be aware that our achievements are a Grace and Mercy from Allah, and not the result of our own capabilities. Thankfulness to Allah, alone earns Allah's approval. Pride and ingratitude will forever separate us from our Creator and this is the worst of the punishments.
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says in Dua-e-Kumail:
Suppose, My Lord! My Master! My Cherisher! I am able to endure your punishment, how can I endure separation from Thee. Suppose I am able to endure the heat of Thy fire, how can I endure not gazing upon Thy generosity.
How Should We Remain Till the End of our Lives
We should be very apprehensive and anxious about our end. We have seen good and pious people who, in the final stages of their lives, turned to evil. Let us implore the Merciful Lord to protect our faith, and let us die as believers.
"Therefore take a lesson, O you who have eyes!"
Everyone Shall Be Tested
We must also be fearful of the difficult test that we have to undergo. All the believers who have attained a high position have been in constant dread of failure when put to test. The respected Book of Allah has said:
"Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, 'We believe' and not be tried?"
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and the Fire
When Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was tied to a catapult to be thrown into the blazing fire he said, "Allah is sufficient for me." When Ibrahim (a.s.) claimed that Allah's help was sufficient for him, and he did not need help from anyone else, Allah decided to test him and sent Jibraeel, who asked Ibrahim (a.s.) if he had any kind of wish so that it may be fulfilled. Ibrahim (a.s.) replied, "I do have a wish but not from you." Jibraeel said: "It is correct but express your wish to the one in whom you repose hope." Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) replied: "He is aware of my condition hence there is no need for me to say it verbally."
Successful When Tested
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) deserves admiration. In the most difficult circumstances he refrained from showing his want, even to the trustworthy angel of revelation Jibraeel (a.s.). Thus he emerged successful from the most severe test. Hence the Divine verse says:
"And (of) Ibrahim who fulfilled (the commandments)."
(Surah Najm 53:37)
We must also not be heedless of the Divine test nor should we be fearless of Divine retribution. Even the most near ones to Allah, the angels, the prophets and the messengers were not careless in this regard. Especially in times of difficulties and calamities we have to be extra careful; constantly imploring Allah to prevent us from overstepping the boundaries prohibited by Him. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says in the beginning of Dua-e-Abu Hamza Thumali:
"Do not punish my sins by letting me to be heedless of your retribution."
Tawfeeq is From Allah
Let it be very clear to us that whatever good we are able to do, is only due to Tawfeeq from Allah and we have to be most humbly grateful to Allah for this tawfeeq. Thanklessness in the matter may result not only in the loss of such opportunities in the future but may even nullify the good already done, and bring us disgrace.
Wise People Fear Allah
Those who realise the Greatness and the Majesty of Allah in comparison to their own worthlessness are more fearful of Allah. Only those who realise how utterly miserable and worthless they themselves are and how exalted and Supreme is their Creator, are fearful of Allah.
The Holy Quran says:
"Those of His servants only who are possessed of knowledge fear Allah."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said: "The fountain-head of wisdom is the fear of Allah."
The Prophet's (s.a.) Conversation With Umme Salma
Janabe Umme Salma says that she saw the Holy Prophet of Allah in a middle of the night standing in a corner of the house and entreating Allah: "O Allah! Whatever You have given me, do not take those blessings away. Never let me become the butt of criticism and jealousy of the enemies. O Allah! Never let me return to the vices from where You have extricated me. O Allah! Do not leave me (free) to myself even for a blink of the eye (for a moment)."
Umme Salma says: When I heard these words I began to weep uncontrollably. The Prophet asked the reason for my lamentation. I replied, "Why shouldn't I weep when you, who have attained such a high position , are invocating Allah in such a (humble) way?"
Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Why should not I fear thus. When Allah left Hazrat Yunus (a.s.) on his own for a moment, what did happen." (That is, he remained in the belly of a whale).
The Prophets (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) Were the Most Fearful
The Holy Quran praises the prophets in the following words:
"Surely they used to hasten, one with another, in deeds of goodness and to call upon Us, hoping and fearing; and they were humble before Us."
Regarding the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) the Divine words are:
"They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide."
(Surah Insan 76:7)
The fear of the Prophets and the Holy Imams, specially that of Ali (a.s.) is well-known. He used to lose consciousness due to the fear of Allah. Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) expresses this fear most eloquently in the Duas of Sahifa-e-Sajjadiyah. If we are to record all such examples we shall be straying away from our aim. We hope that the examples given so far will be sufficient for the intelligent.
A Believer Lives Between Fear and Hope
A believer lives in a state of anxiety and optimism, (as prescribed by the traditions) He is fearful of Divine punishment and yet hopeful of Divine Mercy. The Holy Quran says:
"It is only the Shaitan that causes you to fear from his friends, but do not fear them, and fear Me if you are believers."
(Aale Imran 3:175)
This type of fear is obligatory for every Muslim. The fear which refrains him from even approaching sins. Allah, the Almighty addresses his Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the Quranic Ayat,
"Say: Surely I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the chastisement of a grievous day."
(Surah Anam 6:15).
Hope Should Not Cause Arrogance
The trust and hope we repose in Allah's Mercy and generosity will certainly bring us additional bounties. But this trust should not assume proportions that make us feel confident and arrogant that we think, we shall not be punished. As is mentioned in Quran,
"Let not the arch-deceiver (Satan) deceive you respecting Allah."
(Surah Fatir 35:5)
Allah tells the polytheists in Surah Hadid,
"...the arch-deceiver (Satan) deceived you about Allah."
(Surah Hadid 57:14)
The exegesis of this ayat as recorded in "Minhajus Sadeqeen' is that Satan says, "Have complete faith in the magnanimity and the Mercy of Allah. He does not punish any one."
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said,
"There is no believer who does not possess two lights in his heart. One is the light of fear and the other, the light of hope. None of these is heavier than the other. Both are equal."
Action of Man Depicts Hope and Fear
It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said, "A believer cannot have belief till both fear and hope are present in him. Nor can he be called as fearful and hopeful till he makes it evident in his actions."
Man's psyche should contain a perfect balance of fear and hope. It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Hakim Luqman (r.a) advised his son in his will. 'If your deeds equal the good deeds of all men and Jinns, together, you must expect that you may yet be punished by Him. And you must hope in Allah so much that even if you carry the burden of the total sins of men and jinns, and approach Allah for forgiveness, He will pardon you.'
Now I invite the readers to contemplate on this. Do we have true hope and real fear of Allah?
If we truly dread Allah's punishment then why are we not fearful of our sins?
Why is there a sluggishness in following the commands of the Masoomeen (a.s.)? If we truly regard ourselves to be desiring of Divine Mercy, why do we not strive for the goal? Why are our actions not directed towards absolute obedience and worship?
Yes, we do have genuine fear and hope with regard to the worldly affairs. This is evident in the excessive care, concern and caution we exercise to preserve our physical safety and material assets. Any sign of losing them, and we get restless till the danger is averted. If a worldly object is our goal we strive for it tirelessly and are not negligent for a moment.
By Allah! Let us look at the amount of efforts we put in our worldly affairsand honestly admit to ourselves whether we work even a fraction of it for the Hereafter. We most certainly do not. So let us resolve to divert some of our energies towards the fear and hope of the hereafter. If a sin has been committed, let us continuously feel remorse and weep for forgiveness, forgetting luxury and comforts, repenting till our last moment when we hear the good news.
"(As for) those who say: Our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the Garden which you were promised."
(Surah Ha Mim 41:30)
Let us realise that it is obligatory for the believers to remain in fear of Allah till the end of their lives.
Between Two Fears
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"A believer is always between two fears. One is the fear of his past sins, (so) he does not know as to how Allah would deal with him. Secondly he fears until the end of his life and does not know the sins that might be committed by him, causing his destruction. The believer does not forgo his fear for his whole life, and his affairs do not improve without fear."
One Must Strive for the Hereafter
We must understand that Allah has guaranteed sustenance for us in this world. The Quran says,
"And there is no animal in the earth but on Allah is the sustenance of it... " (Surah Hud 11:6)
However the success of the hereafter depends upon the efforts of man. As Allah says,
"And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for; And that his striving shall soon be seen."
(Surah Najm 53:39-40)
Claim Must Be Substantiated By Action
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says in Nahjul Balagha:
"One who claims (verbally) and says that I am hopeful of the Mercy of Allah, is a liar. By Allah if his claim is genuine then why is his sincerity not reflected in his actions."
It is true that hope and fear are inner feelings, but they are manifested in one's actions. Hence, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"The Proof of fear is flight and the proof of hope is the effort to come near."
So, those who do not resort to flight from the sins prove that they do not have fear. Similarly, those who do not strive for the hereafter, make it evident that they do not have any hope in the bounties of Allah. Such people claim only verbally that Allah is Most Merciful. Actually, Satan has deceived them, and speaks through their tongue. Why is it that they do not just claim Allah to be generous for worldly benefits. Rather, they strive hard to procure these but are content to claim that Allah is Merciful for the Hereafter, and feel very secure in that thought without making any effort to strive for the Hereafter.
Fear Allah As If You Can See Him
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated,
"Allah has to be feared as if you see Him with your own eyes. Because even if you can't see Him, He is surely watching you. If you think that He is not watching you, you are a Kafir. However if you know that He is watching you and still commit sins, it means that you have regarded Him as an insignificant viewer."
If any mortal were to see us committing a sin we would feel ashamed and refrain from such a behaviour. But its a pity that we disregard the All-seeing Almighty and indulge in sins, unabashed.
The Perfect Example
One look at the life of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) will make the best of us hang our heads in shame. We would appear to be the most despicable and wretched creatures, when judged in the light of his excellence.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"A stroke of Ali (a.s.) on the day of Khandaq (battle of Ahzaab) is superior to the total worship of men and jinns."
Ali (a.s.), inspite of his exalted position, is all humility when he addresses his Lord. Not an iota of significance does he attach to his outstanding achievements. They are all a Mercy from his Creator. In himself, he sees only shortcomings, faults and weaknesses for which he weeps and prays till he becomes unconscious. Abu Darda relates that I heard Ali (a.s.) reciting in a disconsolate voice: "O my Lord, there is no doubt that I have spent a good part of my life in Your disobedience.1 Still I do not hope for forgiveness from anyone but You. Nor do I intend to please anyone except You. O my real Master when I think of Your Mercy, the weight of my sins begins to feel light. But when I remember Your severity, the load of the difficulties crush me."
Abu Darda says, 'When there was a silence after this, I moved forward and saw that Ali (a.s.) had fallen unconscious. When I shook his arm, it seemed lifeless. I thought that my master Ali (a.s.) has passed away.'
Similarly Zorara says, 'Once I saw Ali (a.s.) in the last part of a dark night. He was holding his beard and pleading in a sorrowful voice: 'O! The provisions for the journey are less and the distance vast. The way is horrifying and the path dangerous.'
Ali (a.s.) says in Dua-e-Kumail:
"O Allah the trials have increased and my condition has deteriorated and my good deeds are very few."
The Personality of Ali (a.s.) is a Model For Us
Like his fear, the hope of Ali (a.s.) is also well known. Since his birth upto the last moments of his life he remained engrossed in worship and obedience. He did not forgo worship even for a single moment. Sometimes he used to pray a thousand rakats of prayers in a day. Throughout his life, he fasted the whole of the month of Shabaan. He never missed the midnight prayers. Even in the night of the battle of Siffin, which is known as the coldest of the nights he offered his midnight prayers. For three continuous days he broke his fast with water. He gave his share of bread to the poor, the needy and the orphans. He gave in charity the proceeds of the sale of the garden that he had planted with his own hands. A detailed chapter of Behaarul Anwaar deals with the endowments of Ali (a.s.) and his charity. A few examples are quoted below:
An Excerpt From the Will of Ali (a.s.)
The will of Ali (a.s.) is phrased in the following manner:
"This writing is that in which we have willed regarding one's belongings. The slave of Allah, Ali hopes that Allah shall reward him for this by Heaven and shall protect him from the fire of the Hell on the day when the faces of some people would be white and the others black. Whatever property I own in 'Yambao' and its suburbs, I leave all of it as an endowment to achieve the happiness of Allah."
Inspite of excelling in good deeds and worship, while returning from a battle, he was seen exclaiming,
"Certainly, the best deed of a man is to die a martyr. I fear I may not get a chance to achieve martyrdom."
At last the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) informed him:
"O Ali! Your end shall be martyrdom."
We Shall Follow Ali (a.s.)
We may think that it is not possible for sinners like us to come up to the level of a lofty personality like Ali (a.s.) in terms of piety and spiritual realisation.
In reply to this we can say that, though it is not possible for us to reach that stage we can at least try to follow his commands as much as possible. For example, if a child sees a shining cobra, it is possible that he may try to catch it and risk being bitten to death?
Let us suppose the child is accompanied by his father. In such a situation the father who is aware of the poisonous qualities of the cobra will shout warnings and move forward to rescue the child.
O the heedless one! Is not Ali (a.s.) your spiritual father and the virtual guide? Are you not the claimant of his love and Wilayat. If your reply is positive then you must strive to follow and imitate your master as much as possible. The hardships and the punishments of the Day of Judgement make one shudder with horror and one cannot be complacent about the preparations of this last journey. If you are a true Shia of Ali (a.s.) then he is the best model for you. Ali (a.s.) has himself said,
"You cannot imitate me entirely, but you can imitate (to some extent) and follow us."
"Our Shias are only those who follow us."
Warning of the Leader
The leader of the caravan issues warning regarding the dangers of the journey and advises his followers to make all the necessary provisions for the perils and the wild animals they would encounter. Every person will be responsible for himself. Saying this he himself busies himself in preparations. The fear of the impending journey makes him terror-stricken.
Seeing their leader in this condition the followers respond by feeling a similar concern for the journey and its preparations.
Let us not be complacent and heedless, and waste precious moments. Let us follow our Imam (a.s.) faithfully, so that we do not have to face remorse on the Day of Judgement.
The Chief of the Caravan is Terror-Stricken
O! the caravans of piety and belief. The leader of your caravan, Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is extremely afraid of the pitfalls of the last journey. He has issued clear warnings regarding the dangers. Every night he announced at the Masjid-e-Kufa,
"Travellers! may Allah have Mercy upon you. Pack up the provisions for your journey and be prepared. Certainly you have in your path deep ravines and terrible dangers. There is no alternative but to traverse this path."
After this he used to say,
"It is a pity! The provisions are meagre and the journey extremely long and the destination, great."
It is truly deplorable that our involvement in worldly affairs has created a wide unsurmountable gap between us and our Imam (a.s.). We have been completely cut off from his virtuous life and perfect morals. May Allah protect us from departing His influence to follow the misguidance of Satan. Certain sins cause us to be deprived of the Wilayat of Allah and love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and lead us to the wilayat of Satan. After this we come under the control of Satan who rules us totally. Let us take refuge with Allah from such a doom.
Insulting a Believer Expels One From Wilayat
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"If a person slanders a believer to expose his faults to the public, or to insult him, Allah expels him from His Wilayat and leaves him to the Wilayat of Satan."
"Like the Satan when he says to man: Disbelieve, but when he disbelieves, he says: I am surely clear of you; surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds."
(Surah Hashr 59:16)
Fifth Greater Sin Murder
Fifth Greater Sin
The fifth Greater Sin is the murder of that person whose execution has not been ordered by Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Traditions which confirm that murder is a Greater Sin have already been mentioned at the beginning. Moreover the verses of the Holy Quran mention clearly the Divine punishment for the murderers.
"And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement."
(Surah Nisa 4:93)
The fifth Greater Sin is the murder of that person whose execution has not been ordered by Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Traditions which confirm that murder is a Greater Sin have already been mentioned at the beginning. Moreover the verses of the Holy Quran mention clearly the Divine punishment for the murderers.
Five types of punishments have been ordained for those who kill the believers. First, Hell; Second, Eternal abode in Hell; Third, involvement in the Divine wrath; Fourth, being the accursed by Allah; Fifth, the Great Chastisement.
Permanent Chastisement is Exclusively For unbelievers
One of the beliefs of the Shia Ithna Ashari school of thought is that eternal punishment is only for the Kuffar (Unbelievers). In other words, if a person dies in belief, he will not remain under punishment forever, even if he has killed a believer (or someone else whose killing has been prohibited according to the Divine command), or even though he has committed other greater sins. Hence the verse mentioned above has been explained in various ways. One possible explanation is that: one becomes eligible for eternal punishment only if he murders the believer because of his Imaan (belief). If such is the case, then, the killer is indeed liable for everlasting chastisement, for he considered the murder of a Momin as Halaal, whereas it is Haraam. To consider a murder of a believer Haraam is an article of faith. Consequently one who does not have this belief is a Kafir.
The Life and Property of a Muslim are Protected
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage (Hajjatul Wida):
"O People! It is not permitted to kill the Muslims. Similarly to appropriate their property is not allowed. So do not be unjust upon yourselves and do not revert to disbelief after my death."
Another explanation of the afore-mentioned hadith is that "abide in Hell" denotes being under punishment for a very long period. It does not mean that the sinner will be involved in eternal chastisement.
One Murder is Equal to the Killing the Whole of Humanity
"Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for a manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men."
(Surah Maidah 5:32)
All the believers are sons of Adam (a.s.) and brothers to one another. One who kills another person perpetrates a great evil and instigates a feeling of malice, revenge and hatred among people.
Suicide is Murder
The Almighty Allah says:
"....and do not kill ourselves; surely Allah is Merciful to you. And whoever does this aggressively and unjustly, We will soon cast him into Fire; and this is easy for Allah."
(Surah Nisa 4:29-30)
Allah prohibits the believers from suicide even in times of turmoil.
Enlivening the People
".....and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men."
(Surah Maidah 5:32)
If one saves the life of a "protected soul" whose killing has been prohibited by religion, be it forgiving, or not avenging, or protecting him, it is as if he has given life to the whole humanity. By saving one person he has; in a sense; saved humanity.
Murder is the worst sin in the eyes of Allah and severe punishment has been prescribed for a killer. The opposite of this, that is, saving the life of a person is accordingly regarded as the greatest form of worship.
A Murderer Does Not Die a Muslim
The following tradition is indicative of the fact that murder is a Greater Sin.
Regarding the killing of a believer, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
At the time of his death the killer is told. 'Die as you wish, die as a Jew or a Christian or as a Magian.'
"A believer is free in the vast expanse of his belief till he colours his hands with the blood of a Momin."
Imam (a.s.) further says:
"One who kills a believer intentionally is deprived of the 'Tawfeeq' of repenting (for his sins)."
One Who Instigates a Murder is the Actual Killer
The third tradition, also from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was told that a Muslim has been killed and his corpse is lying on the street. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his companions reached the site of the murder, he enquired as to who the killer was."
The people said, "We do not know." The Prophet was surprised,
"A person has been killed among the Muslims, and no one knows of his killer?"
"By the Almighty who appointed me with Prophethood, If all the creatures of the heavens and the earth participate in the murder of a Muslim and be pleased upon that, then Allah would surely involve them in punishment and send them all to Hell."
The lesson derived from this hadith is that there is no difference between the killer and those who support or co-operate with him.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"On the day of Qiyamat a person would be presented before Allah. He will be having a streak of blood (like one gets a cut while shaving). He will say,
'By Allah, I have not killed anyone. Not have I co-operated with anyone's murder.' Allah will say, 'Yes, but one day you spoke about a believer and your words caused him to be killed. Hence you are responsible for his murder.'"
Hazrat Imam Reza (a.s.) said,
"If someone is killed in the east and one who lives in the west is pleased upon this, then he is a partner in this murder."
Abortion is Haraam
It is Haraam to abort an unborn child. Like in the case of a murder, diyah (prescribed fine) has to be paid here too. There is no difference between a foetus and a full-grown man. Even if the killers are its own parents. If a woman takes medicine that causes abortion, she would be liable for the punishment of a murderer.
The penalty (diyah) for killing a 'protected soul' (Nafse Mohtaram) is one thousand misqal of gold.
If the killers are the parents themselves they do not inherit any part of diyah but the other relatives who are eligible for the inheritance are qualified for it.
To Abort a Foetus Intentionally is Haraam
It is evident from the foregoing discussion that human life is considered sacred by the Islamic Shariat. Nothing has been given so much importance like the one reserved for the 'protected soul' (Nafs-e-Mohtaram). So much so that the beginning point of the human life, that is, the fertilised ovum is also not to be wasted. Once conception has taken place, no abortion is allowed. The 'diyah' (penalty) for abortion is as follows:
If the fertilised ovum is aborted the 'diyah' is sixty misqal.
If bones have formed it is eighty misqal.
If an incomplete child is aborted whose features have become distinct but the soul not entered the body, the penalty is one hundred misqal.
If soul had entered it and it was a male child, diyah is one thousand misqal, and if female, it is five hundred misqal.
If a pregnant woman dies, it is necessary to remove the unborn child by operation. Any carelessness in this regard is 'Haraam'.
If due to carelessness the child dies, diyah is wajib upon the one who was responsible for the lapse.
Repenting For Murder
By way of repentance, a person who has committed a willful murder should surrender himself to the heir of the murdered person. The successors of the murdered person have a choice of either avenging the death or accepting the 'diyah'. That is, they can forgive him or kill him in retribution.
If the murderer is forgiven, three things become obligatory on him:
1) Freeing a slave
2) Feeding sixty poor people
3) Keeping sixty fasts
If freeing a slave is not allowed by the law, the other two penalties should be fulfilled.
Accidental and Intended Murder
Even in the case of an accidental murder the heirs of the victim are to be paid the 'diyah'. But they should forgive the killer.
Apart from this the three penalties should be imposed, that is, freeing a slave, feeding sixty people and fasting for sixty days.
Similarly cutting off a part of someone's body is a Greater Sin. Those who intend to study this subject in detail are requested to refer to the books of Jurisprudence.
Sixth Greater Sin Aaq-e-Waledain
Sixth Greater Sin
(Disobedience to parents)
Those Who Are Disobedient to Their Parents
The sixth Greater Sin is to be disobedient to one's parents as expressly mentioned in the traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Pure Imams (a.s.). These have already been quoted in the first chapter. A tradition of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says that the greatest sins are shirk and to be disobedient to one's parents. The seriousness of disobedience to parents as a Greater sin can be gauged from the fact that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has mentioned it along with shirk which is the greatest of all Greater sins, and unforgiveable. "Aaq" is a sin, the punishment of which is promised in the Quran and the traditions.
The words of Hazrat Isa (a.s.) as quoted by the Quran are:
"And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed."
(Surah Mariyam 19:32)
As Isa (a.s.) did not have a father, his mother is alone mentioned. In the same Surah, both the father and mother of Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) are mentioned.
Both the verses mention three characteristics of the disobedient child (Aaq-e-Waledain).
1) 'Jabbar' (insolent)
2) 'Shaqee' (unblessed)
3) 'Aasi' (disobedient)
Each of these negative qualities render one liable for severe punishment. Regarding 'Jabbar' (insolent) the Quran says:
"And they asked for judgement and every insolent opposer was disappointed. Hell is before him and he shall be given to drink of festering water: He will drink it little by little and will not be able to swallow it agreeably, and death will come to him from every quarter, but he shall not die; and there shall be vehement chastisement before him."
(Surah Ibrahim 14:15-17)
The one who is Shaqee will be punished as follows:
"So as to those who are 'Shaqee', they shall be in fire; for them shall be sighing and groaning in it; Abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord pleases."
(Surah Hud 11:106-107)
Those with the third characteristic, that is, those who are 'Aasi' will be dealt with severely by Allah.
"And whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle and goes beyond His limits, He will cause him to enter fire, to abide in it, and he shall have an abasing chastisement."
(Surah Nisa 4:14)
Tradition Regarding Aaq-e-Waledain
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Beware! Abstain from angering the parents. The fragrance of Paradise is perceived even at a distance of a thousand years, but those who are disobedient to parents and those who cut off ties with relatives will not be able to smell it."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also said.
"One who displeases the parents, (it is as if) he has displeased Allah. One who angers both his parents (it is as if) he has angered Allah."
Elsewhere, it is mentioned,
"One who hurts his parents, hurts me and one who hurts me has hurt Allah. And the one who hurts Allah is accursed."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"Allah will not speak to three kinds of people on the Day of Qiyamat. Neither will He have mercy upon them, nor will He purify their sins. There is for them a horrible chastisement. The three types of people are the believers in destiny, the drunkards and those who disobeyed their parents."
Aaq-e-Waledain is Not Eligible For Divine Forgiveness
The wretchedness of the Aaq-e-Waledain is sufficiently evident from the fact that the trustworthy Jibraeel (a.s.) has cursed him and said,
"One who is blessed with parents but does not fulfill their (his parent's) rights will not be forgiven (his sins) by Allah."
When Jibraeel (a.s.) said this, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) uttered, 'Amen'! Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Accursed, Accursed is the one who beats his parents. Accursed is the one who distresses his parents.
Prayer is Not Accepted
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Allah will not accept the Namaz of the person who stares angrily at his parents. Even though they (parents) may be unjust."
A Young man is interceeded by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)
A young man was on his deathbed when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) came, sat near him, and told him to recite two kalimas (Shahadatain). But the youth could not speak. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) enquired if his mother was present? A woman sitting near his head said, "Yes, I am his mother."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked, "Are your displeased with him?"
'Yes, O Prophet (s.a.w.s.), we have not spoken to each other since the last six years.'
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked this woman to forgive her son. Thus at the Prophet's instance she forgave his mistakes and was reconciled. At once the young man was able to recite the Kalima-e-Shahadat.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked him,
"What do you see, at this moment." " O Prophet of Allah a dark and smelly man has got hold of me and is not leaving me."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him to recite the following dua,
"Ya man Yaqbalul yaseera wa y'afo 'Anil Katheera Iqbal minnil Yaseera Wa 'Aafo 'Annil Katheera."
Then asked, "Now what do you see?" He replied, "A fair complexioned man, handsome and fragrant, is moving towards me."
The Holy Prophet said, "Keep repeating this dua." When the youth repeated this dua he said "O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) both of them have disappeared from my sight." After this the face of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was illuminated with joy. He said, "O Allah forgive the sins of this young man." Then the youth passed away.
This tradition shows how difficult are the last moments of the Aaq-e-Waledain. He leaves this world in disbelief and remains, forever, in Divine punishment. The tutor of Kalima for this young man was the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). In spite of this his tongue did not move till his mother forgive him. The blessings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the forgiveness of his mother brought salvation for this youth.
What is Aaq-e-Waledain?
Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in his commentary on Al Kafi:
Aaq-e-Waledain means that the son or the daughter cause disrespect to parents by speech or actions. Or they do not obey them in matters which are within reason and matters which are not in any way against religion.
Aaq-e-Waledain is absolutely Haraam. The books of traditions of both the Shias as well as the Sunnis validate this fact.
To look at the parents with anger is Aaq: To cause unhappiness to the parents results in Aaq. It is Haraam to take any step, which one is sure, will displease the parents.
Benevolence to Parents is Wajib
The verses of the Quran as well as the traditions of the infallible Imams (a.s.) not only prohibit displeasing and angering the parents, but also stress that benevolence towards them is Wajib.
A few examples of the Quranic Ayats are presented for the readers:
1) "And We have enjoined on man goodness to his parents."
(Surah Ankaboot 29:8)
2) "Be grateful to Me and both your parents..."
(Surah Luqman 31:14)
The above verse is specially worth noting for the fact that Allah has mentioned together gratefulness towards Himself and to the parents. Certainly thankfulness to Allah is Wajib, and in the same way it is Wajib for the children to be thankful to their parents.
3) "And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) "Uff" nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! Have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little.
(Surah Bani Israel 17:23-24)
In this Ayat Allah has mentioned goodness to parents. In the same sentence He exhorts about service to Him. As service to Allah is Wajib, benevolence to parent is Wajib too.
When the Imam (a.s.) was asked to explain the meaning of the term "Bil Waledaine Ehsana" (and goodness to your parents), he said,
"Be good to your parents and if they are in need of something, procure it for them before they ask for it."
Then the meaning of the words, "Taqullahuma Qualan Kareema" (speak to them a generous word) was explained by the Imam (a.s.)
"If the parents beat you, say 'May Allah forgive you'. The phrase 'Wakhfiz Lahuma' (and make yourself submissively gentle to them) is elaborated by the Imam (a.s.):
"Do not look at them with distaste. Do not raise your voice above theirs. When you walk with them do not precede them. When you go to a gathering, do not sit before they do. Never keep your hand above theirs (while giving them something)."
Service to Parents is Better Than Jehad
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) narrates that a young man presented himself to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and said that he wanted to participate in Jehad. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him:
"Certainly, go for Jehad in the way of Allah. If your are killed you will be alive near Allah and be provided sustenance from Him. The recompense for your sacrifice would be with Allah. If you return alive your sins would be washed off as if your were a newborn child."
This man said: "O Prophet of Allah, my parents are alive and they are aged and have great expectations from me. They do not like me to be away from them."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"If that is so, then stay behind to serve your parents. By Allah in whose hands is my life, to serve parents for a day and night is equal to a year of Jehad."
Another tradition from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Acquire your place in Heaven by serving your parents. If you are guilty of 'Aaq' then make Hell your abode."
Goodness to Parents is the Expiation of Sins
Goodness towards the parents is the expiation of various sins. It is related in a report that a man came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and said, "O, Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) there is not a single misdeed, that I have not committed. Is there repentance for me?" The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him,
"Go and do goodness to your father in order that your sins may be expiated."
When the man left the assembly the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"If his mother had been alive, it would have been more meritorious to do good to her."
Satisfaction of Parents is Satisfaction of Allah
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated,
"In the happiness of parents lies the happiness of Allah and in their dissatisfaction is Allah's dissatisfaction."
He (s.a.w.s.) further said,
"A person who is good to his parents will be just a grade below the prophets in Heaven. And the Aaq-e-Waledain will be only a grade higher than the Firons in Hell."
Angels Pray for Those Who do Good to Their Parents
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"Benevolence to parents is the greatest of the religious obligations."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says that Allah has two Angels one of whom says, "O Allah! Protect those who do good to the parents." The other Angel prays, "O Allah! Destroy those people by retribution, with whom their parents are angry." Needless to say, the prayers of the Angels are always accepted by Allah.
The Material Effects of Aaq
The previous traditions mention the ill effects of 'Aaq-e-Waledain' in the hereafter. The following traditions describe the evil repercussions of Aaq-e-Waledain in this life.
The last of the Prophets (s.a.w.s.) says:
"There are three kinds of sins which are punished in this world, rather than being given respite till Qiyamat. The first is Aaq-e-Waledain. The second, injustice upon men and third, thanklessness for favour."
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) stated,
"Secret charity cools down Divine anger while goodness to parents and benevolence to relatives, prolongs life."
Another tradition says,
"Benevolence to parents and secret charity, ward off poverty, and both (these deeds) prolong life. Seventy types of death are kept away."
"Those who assure me that they will be benevolent to parents and do good to the relatives, I will give them excess of wealth and a long life and assure them of being close among our group."
Hazrat Imam Naqi (a.s.) said,
"The displeasing of parents causes decrease in sustenance and degradation (also follows)."
Aaq-e-Waledain Cause Poverty and Misfortune
There was a young man from Madinah. His parents were very old. He never did any good towards them. He neglected them and did not expend any of his wealth for their well-being. After sometime he became a destitute and fell sick. His wretchedness and misery reached such extreme, that he became a pitiable character. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"Those who cause hurt to their parents should derive lessons from the life of this man. See how his wealth and property has been taken away. His affluence and independence has changed to poverty and his health has turned into disease. Whatever position he was to get in Heaven, he has been deprived of due to his sins; in its place the fire of Hell has been prepared for him."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) narrates:
"When Hazrat Yaqoob (a.s.) went to Egypt to meet his son Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.), he (Yusuf a.s.) did not alight from his horse to pay respect to his father. Hazrat Jibraeel (a.s.) descended, and told Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) to open his fist. As he did so, a light shot out from his palm and rose towards the sky. Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) enquired, "What was this light which came out of my hand and shot to the sky?." Jibraeel (a.s.) replied, "The light of Prophethood has departed from your loins. You did not pay due respect to your father hence none of your descendants will get Prophethood." It is true that Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) did not descend from his horse to pay respect to his father. However, this was not due to any feelings of pride and vanity. The Prophets are sinless and could never harbour such emotions. His intentions were merely to maintain his dignity as a King among his subjects."
Evil Consequences of Aaq-e-Waledain
Aaq-e-Waledain brings disgrace in the Hereafter, and goodness to parents brings honour and glory. As Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said,
"Those who wish an easy death should do good to the relatives and be kind to parents. When one does this, Allah will make easy the agony of death. In this world he will not face difficulties and poverty."
Prayers of the Parents Are Accepted Soon
The supplication of parents for the welfare of the child are quickly answered by Allah and in the same way their ill wish (curse) due to displeasing them also takes quick effect. Numerous traditions have been recorded in this connection. One such tradition is connected with the merits of Dua-e-Mashlool. It is said that a young man had lost the use of his right hand which was paralysed due to the curse of his father. After his father's death, the man prayed the entire night, continuously for a period of three years in Masjidul Haram. One day Hadhrat Ali (a.s.) saw him and took pity upon him. He taught him Dua-e-Mashlool. By the virtue of this Dua the young man was cured.
The Mother Has More Rights Than the Father
Goodness towards the mother is more rewarding. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) emphasized that benevolence shown to the mother should be three times the magnitude of that shown towards the father. When he was asked as to which of the parents had more rights, he replied,
"Was it not your mother who suffered the birth pangs to give birth to you and provided you with your natural diet from her breasts? Indeed the rights of a mother far outweigh those of the father."
Rights of the Parents
Someone asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) about the rights of the father. He (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"He should be obeyed always, as long as he lives."
Then he was asked, "What is the right of the mother?". He answered,
"If the service to a mother equals the quantity of the particles of sand in the desert and the drops of rain on earth, it (this service) will not repay for a single day that she kept you in her womb."
A Young Man and His Invalid Mother
It is reported that a young man approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and asked,
"O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.), I have a mother who is an invalid. She cannot even move by herself. I carry her on my back and feed her with my hands. I also clean her excreta. Have I fulfilled her rights?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"No. Because you have remained in the womb for a long period during which you derived your nourishment from her body. She was every busy in caring and protecting you at all costs. Inspite of such hardships she always wished a long life for you. But you are waiting for her to die so that you may relieved of the responsibility of taking care of her."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) described the eminence of a mother's position in the following statement:
1) "If you are praying a mustahab prayer and your father calls you, do not break your prayer but if your mother calls, break the prayer."
Truly, this assigns a remarkably high status to a mother. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) states,
"Paradise is at the feet of your mother."
Hence one need not go far in search of Paradise.
Be Good to Parents Even if They Are Kafirs
Whether the parents are believers and pious or Kafirs and sinful, goodness towards them is wajib. And 'Aaq-e-Waledain' is Haraam.
The verse of Surah Luqman says thus,
"And if they contend with you that you should associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them, and keep company with them in this world kindly...".
(Surah Luqman 31:15)
Dua For Sunni Parents
Moammar Ibne Khallad asked Imam Reza (a.s.) whether one is allowed to pray for one's parents if they had not followed the truth and had not been Shia.
Imam Reza (a.s.) replied,
"If they are dead, pray for them and give Sadaqah on their behalf. If they are alive keep them happy."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says;
"Allah the Most High has sent me as the Mercy for the worlds, except to the 'Aaq' (of parents)."
Jabir Ibne Abdullah (r.a.) reports that someone asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "My parents are against the truth, i.e. they are not the Shia of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)". Imam replied:
"Be good towards them like you would be towards out Shias."
Momin and Kafir Are Equal Under Three Circumstances
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said;
"Allah has not given superiority to a Momin in three circumstances.
First, to return what has been entrusted to you for safe keeping whether it belongs to a Momin or a Kafir.
Second, fulfilling an oath, whether given to a Momin or a Kafir. Third, doing good to the parents, whether they be Momin or Kafir."
A letter on various aspects of Islamic Shariat, written by Hazrat Imam Reza (a.s.) to Mamun, include the following:
"Benevolence to parents is wajib even if both of them are 'Mushrik'. However obedience to parents is not wajib if their order is against the orders of the Creator."
Advice of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) to Zakaria Ibne Ibrahim
Zakaria, the son of Ibrahim, was a Christian. Later he converted to Islam and had the honour of meeting Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He told Imam (a.s.) "My mother is a Christian and she is old and blind." The Imam advised him,
"Serve your mother and behave kindly towards her. Upon her death, do not leave her dead body to others. Perform her funeral rites yourself."
Thus this statement of the Imam (a.s.) is pregnant with two prophecies. Her death, and her conversion to Islam.
When Zakaria returned to Kufa he began to behave very kindly with his mother. He fed her with his own hands. Changed her clothes, washed and bathed her too. In short, he served his mother in every possible way. His mother asked, "My son you were not so dutiful when you were a Christian. Why is it that now you serve me day and night?"
Zakaria replied, "O my mother. I have a master who is the son of the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.). He advised me to serve you in this way." The mother asked, "Is he a prophet?" "No. But he is a son of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)." "Such a person must be a Prophet because only prophets teach such manners." The mother remarked.
Zakaria explained to his mother, "The chain of the Prophets came to an end with the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.). He was the seal of the Prophets. The one who has guided me is the son of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)." The mother said, "My son, the religion of Islam that you have embraced is better than all the religions. Teach me, so that I too may become a Muslim."
So, Zakaria made her recite the 'Kalima' and taught her the true beliefs. Later, this lady performed the Zohrain and the Maghrebain prayers. The same night death approached her. She told her son: "Dear son, repeat to me again whatever you have taught me." Zakaria began to recite while she listened carefully and in this way she passed away.
Displeasing the parents is Haraam and goodness towards them is Wajib, whether they are alive or dead. In other words parents have rights upon their children even after they (the parents) are dead.
If the son or the daughter forgets the parents after their death and does not perform good deeds on their behalf, it is 'Aaq-e-Waledain' irrespective of the fact that the child had fulfilled all his or her rights and served them till the time of their death.
Rights of Parents After Their Death
First: To carry out the Wajib acts which they did not perform during their life time, like Namaz, Roza, Hajj and repayment of debts.
Second: To Act on their will and testament.
Third: To perform various good deeds for their salvation, i.e., to give Sadaqah, to perform charitable acts, and to carry out recommended acts on their behalf. In short, one should strive to the utmost in doing good deeds on their behalf so that Allah may shower His blessing and mercy on them.
The Disobedient Children After the Death of Their Parents
It is narrated from Hazrat Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.):
"Certainly, if a person is good to his parents when they are alive but forsakes them after they die and does not repay their debts or pray for their forgiveness, Allah will record 'Aaq-e-Waledain' in the account of his deeds. On the other hand, if a person is 'Aaq-e-Waledain' when they are alive but after their death repays their debts and prays for their forgiveness and salvation, Allah will include him among the righteous people".
Single Action, Multiple Rewards
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"What prevents you from serving your parents in their life and death? The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) remarks about the goodness to parents after death. "Perform their 'namaz' (if some wajib prayers have been omitted by them, the eldest son should perform them himself, or have them fulfilled by someone else on payment. However, if no wajib prayer is remaining upon them, then he could pray Nawafil Namaz for them or have them performed on payment.) Pay Sadaqah on their behalf. Complete their Qaza fasts and fulfill the obligation of their Hajj. Whatever you do, both of you will be rewarded (i.e.you and your parents).
Apart from this, goodness to parents carries double rewards. One for the action itself, and second for the benevolence towards the parents.
Praying (Dua) For the Parents and Seeking Forgiveness On Their Belief
It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that a man approached him and asked whether his parents have any rights upon him after their death? The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"Yes, pray Namaz for them, seek forgiveness on their behalf, respect their tradition, and be good to their relatives."
When is Obedience to the Parents Wajib?
The orders and restraints of the parents are of no significance with respect to the wajib acts and the Divine prohibitions. For example if the parents order the child to drink wine or restrain him from the obligatory prayers and fasts, they should not be obeyed. It is expressly mentioned in this Verse of Surah Luqman:
"And if they contend with you that you should associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them..."
(Surah Luqman 31:15)
The traditions also support this Ayat:
"No Obedience of a creature in contravention to the Divine command."
Apart from these circumstances, obedience to parents is obligatory with regards to the Makruh and Mubah acts. The same applies to the Wajib-e-Kifai.
If by performing these actions, the parents are displeased or hurt, it is 'Haraam', a Greater Sin and causes one to be 'Aaq-e-Waledain'. Suppose the son wishes to proceed on a non-obligatory journey and the parents restrain him as they fear some harm for him, or because they cannot bear to be separated from him; and the son disobeys them and goes ahead with the journey, such a journey is Haraam. It is a journey of sin. Salaat and Fasting is not Qasr for this journey. In short, anything that causes displeasure and hurts the parents, is absolutely Haraam.
Obedience to parents is not obligatory in the following cases:
When it causes unbearable hardships or harm. For instance, if they restrain the son from marriage when he feels the need for it. Or they order the son to divorce his wife without a sound reason. If such an action will result in harm to both the spouses, it is not obligatory to obey the parents.
As far as I know, it is not obligatory to obey parents even in cases where they do not get angry or hurt if their commands are disobeyed.
As far as possible one should obey their orders and restrain from opposing them. Especially when the parents advise their children for their own benefit and without any selfish motive.
Disagreement among the Parents
If a situation arises when there is a disagreement between the parents on any subject, as far as possible, one should try to pacify and satisfy both of them. However, if it is not possible then the wish of the mother should be given precedence.
We have already seen the reasons why her rights far exceed those of the father. She is also more deserving of obedience because being a woman she is more sensitive in comparison to men. The mother is easily disturbed by the slightest hurt caused by her child. She becomes restless and uncontrollable due to her motherly feelings. In contrast, the father exercises reason and intelligence and being less emotional, is much less affected. He would realise that the son is obeying the mother because of the very special status granted to her by Allah and not because he intends to disobey his father due to disregard for him.
Permission of the Parents is Necessary
The Islamic Shariat has prescribed certain matters wherein it is necessary to obtain the permission of both the parents. Or at least of one of them. For example, the Wajib-e-Kifai acts like Jehad, or the Mustahab acts like the recommended fasts, or matters like taking an oath, vow and promises. In all such cases it is Wajib to obtain the parents' permission. The First Martyr1 had mentioned ten topics on the rights of parents in his book "Qawaid". It will be appropriate to mention them.
Journey of the Child and the Martyr's viewpoint
1) Mubah and Mustahab journey without the permission of parents is Haraam. However a business journey and the journey undertaken for acquiring knowledge is allowed according to some Mujtahids.
2) Some Jurists are of the opinion that, obedience to parents is Wajib upon the child in every condition where there exists a doubt. Hence if the parents order their son or daughter to eat with them, and if there is doubt regarding the food, it is incumbent to obey the parents. Because, obedience to parents is Wajib while avoiding food in case of doubt, is Mustahab.
3) If it is time for prayers and the parents would like to get some work done, it is necessary to carry out the orders before offering Namaz. Here again the offering of Namaz at the earliest is Mustahab whereas the obedience to parents is Wajib.
Refraining From Namaz-e-Jamat
1) Parents cannot prevent their child from performing Namaz in congregation unless it causes some problem to them. For example, the absence of the son, while he goes for Fajr or Isha prayers, may cause them anxiety regarding their own safety or the safety of their property. Or, it may make them apprehensive about the son's safety.
2) If it is not absolutely obligatory (Wajib-e-Aini) the parents can stop their son from going on Jehad.
3) Regarding the commands, which are Wajib-e-Kifai, the parents can prevent their son or daughter only if there is a certainty or a chance of the Wajib being fulfilled by other people.
4) Some jurists are of the opinion that if one is praying a recommended prayer, he can interrupt it if his parents call him.
5) One must forgo recommended fasts if the father disallows them.
6) In the matter regarding vows and promises, if the parents are against it, then one must not disobey them.
7) It is the duty of the son to ensure that he causes no harm to his parents. And if someone else intends to harm them, the son must do everything in his capacity to ward off the harm.
Respect For Parents
As it is Wajib to fulfill the rights of the parents, it is also necessary to give them due respect and honour. Numerous traditions have been recorded from the Ahlul-bayt (a.s.)
1) One must not address the parents by their names. However, they can be addressed by their title or kunniyat.
2) One must not precede them while walking, nor should one sit down before them.
3) While having meals one should not begin before the parents. Hazrat Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) did not have meals with his mother for the fear that he may pick a morsel which she intended to.
4) One must never sit with one's back to our parents in a gathering.
5) While speaking, one's voice should not rise above the voice of one's parents.
6) One should not do anything that would cause the parents to become a butt of criticism. We must not insult the parents of others, or they would insult our parents in retaliation.
7) Hazrat Sajjad (a.s.) saw a young man walking on the street with the support of his father's hand. He was much displeased and did not even speak to the boy again.
It is the unanimous opinion of the jurists that 'Ahsan' of parents means refraining from everything that displeases them.
The following actions are considered disrespectful:
1) Not providing them with the necessities, thus compelling them to beg for them.
2) Not inviting them to a function where others have been invited.
3) Not getting presents for them from a place where one had been to, on a journey.
All the above acts are Haraam. In addition, the jurists also consider the following actions Haraam: -
1) To turn away from the parents with disdain.
2) To sit with one's back towards the parents.
3) To speak in a voice louder than the parents.
4) Walking ahead of the parents.
If any of them do not cause disrespect or displeasure, they are allowed. However, to refrain from them is 'mustahab'.
Rights of the Children Upon Their Parents
Just as it is Wajib for the children to respect, honour and fulfill the rights of their parents, it is incumbent upon the mother and the father to fulfill the rights, which the children have upon them. If the parents do not fulfill these rights, it would amount to Qate Rahmi (cutting off the relationships). Since children are the closest to parents it is a must to refrain from Qate Rahmi with them, and Qate Rahmi is a great sin, as would be described later.
Just as the children become 'Aaq-e-Waledain' by not complying with their duties, the parents also become 'Aaq' if they fail to perform their duties towards their children. Further, the parents should not impose unbearable commands upon the children such that the children are forced to find excuses for not obeying them and thus become 'Aaq'.
The parents should not ridicule their children for their actions. Rather the children must be corrected by constructive criticism. Ridicule makes the children stubborn and creates enmity between them and the parents. When the parents fail to fulfill the rights of the children, it induces the children to forsake the rights of the parents in retaliation. As a consequence, both the parents and the children are involved in a Greater Sin.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"The parents are liable to be 'Aaq' in the same way as the children who do not fulfill the rights of the parents become involved in the sin of 'Uqooq' (plural of Aaq)."
It is therefore a solemn duty of the parents to behave kindly with their children and give them a good training and education. They should keep them under gentle control and must not do anything that would cause them to be 'Aaq'.
For example, the parents should overlook the minor faults of the children. They should appreciate insignificant favours and show happiness and gratitude for these favours which would encourage the child to further good actions. They should make the children aware that they wish them the best and pray for their happiness in the world and the Hereafter.
We will now put forward the rights of children upon their parents, as enunciated by educated jurists and propounded in the books of Islamic Law.
Maintenance of Children
It is Wajib upon the parents to bear the expenses of the children right from the time of their birth till they become independent, and in case of a daughter, till she gets married.
Arranging the Marriage
One of the most important duties of the father is to arrange for the marriage of the son when he attains maturity. In case of the daughter too the father must strive to find a good match for her. The parents cannot restrain their daughter from matrimony. The Holy Quran states clearly:
"...then do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree among themselves in a lawful manner."
(Surah Baqarah 2:232)
Religious Education and Training
Another important duty for the parents is to give a good education to their children. The parents must strive to instruct the children with regard to the fundamentals of Islamic faith. The seriousness and significance of observing the laws of Shariat should be inculcated in the children, and no leniency must be shown if the religious laws are not strictly followed. However, the aspect of Amr bil Maroof and Nahy Anil Munkar must be kept in mind. The details regarding the same shall be explained in the chapter of Amr bil Maroof (enjoining good) and Nahy Anil Munkar (forbidding evil).
Various traditions stress upon the duty of the parents to shower their love and affection upon the children. A few of these are quoted below.
Love and Affection For the Children
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Be affectionate to your children and have mercy upon them. When you promise them something, fulfill your promise because the children repose hope only in the parents. When a promise is not fulfilled, it causes dissatisfaction and strains relationships. Certainly Allah is most wrathful when the women and children are disheartened."
Kissing the Children
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has told that when a person kisses his child, a good deed is recorded in his Nama-e-Aamal (Scroll of deeds).
Daughters Are More Deserving of Kindness
The parents have been ordered to be more kind towards the daughters. It is mustahab that when a father brings something for the children he must first offer it to the daughter; especially the one who is named Fatima.
If the children oppose the parents, they must never be abused or reviled. The curses of the parents cause an increase in the misery of the children.
Spiritual Fathers Are More Qualified For Kindness
Whatever has been mentioned till now concerns the biological parents; however the spiritual fathers or the guides of humanity are Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and his Purified Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). All of us are spiritually related to them. In every circumstance their followers can be enriched by virtues and get protection from calamities. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has informed, "I and Ali (both) are the fathers of this Ummat." The spiritual fathers are superior to the biological parents in a manner that the soul is superior to the physical body. Similarly the punishment of the 'Aaq' of the spiritual fathers is much more severe than that of the 'Aaq' of ordinary parents.
High Rewards and More Punishment
The rewards for kindness to the spiritual father is a thousand times more than kindness to the real parents. In the same way the 'Aaq' of a spiritual father is far more severely punishable, i.e., Heaven is prohibited for the person who disobeys the spiritual father, and none of his deeds are accepted even if he prays in the nights and fasts during the day. The punishment for those who do not acknowledge the Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is more severe because the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the real spiritual fathers. It would be wrong to consider all the Quranic verses and traditions in connection with Uqooq-e-Waledain to be restricted to biological parents. The Holy Quran and hadith are unanimous in declaring that the commands for Uqooq-e-Waledain apply equally and more stringently to the spiritual as well as biological parents. The ultimate argument in this connection is the Quranic verse wherein Allah has ordered obedience towards the parents along with His own worship.
"Be grateful to Me and both your parents."
(Surah Luqman 31:14)
"And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:23)
A similar reference to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is to be found in the chapter of Sileh Rahem. Two traditions are reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)
The first tradition is when Umroo bin Yazid enquired about the meaning of the following Ayat of Surah Raad:
"And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
The next tradition is concerned with the tafsir of the same 'Ayat'. It says that the above Ayat has been revealed about the Sileh Rahem to Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), the close relatives of the Momin being included in it. The tradition further says,
"And do not be of those who restrict the Ayat to some particular personalities. But whenever you hear of a verse regarding a kind of people you must consider it to be applicable to the other people of the same kind."
The Uqooq of Spiritual Fathers
The Uqooq of the spiritual fathers means to disobey their commands and to be heedless of their orders. To sever relationships with them in this world by not acknowledging their leadership. Imam Reza (a.s.) asked,
"Won't you feel bad if your parents are displeased and say that you are not their child?"
Those who were present answered, "Yes". Imam (a.s.) continued,
"The spiritual parents are superior to your biological parents. Do not give them an opportunity to say this. Rather consider yourself lucky be to their son or daughter."
Seventh Greater Sin Qat-e-Rahmi
Seventh Greater Sin
(Breaking up relations)
Breaking up relations
The seventh Greater Sin is the breaking up of relations with one's kith and kin. This is clearly verified by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as well as Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.). The Quran has also decreed Hell-fire and the curse of Allah upon those who cut off ties with their relatives.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Beware of those who cut off relations because I have found them cursed thrice in the Quran."
1) Surah Baqarah, Ayat No.27
Whoever break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined, and make mischief in the land, these it is that are the losers.
In the Quranic terminology when the word Khaasir (loser) is used it denotes the one who is to be in loss, or rather the one who is cursed.
2) Surah Raad, Ayat No.25
And those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder which Allah has ordered to be joined and make mischief in the land; (as for) those, upon them shall be curse and they shall have the evil (issue) of the abode.
3) Surah Muhammad, Ayat No.22-23
But if you held command, you were sure to make mischief in the land and cut off the ties of kinship. Those it is whom Allah has cursed, so He has made them deaf and blinded their eyes.
The Denouncement of "Cutting Off Kinship Ties" in the Traditions
Numerous traditions have reached us in this regard. A few of these reports are quoted here:
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) states:
There is destruction in enmity, especially with the relatives. I do not mean the destruction of the law but rather the destruction of the religion. (Enmity among people not only harms the hair and the body, but it also destroys one's religion).
(Al Kafi, Chapter of Qate-Rahem)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Protect yourself from 'Haliqa' for it destroys the people." The narrator asked "What is 'Haliqa'", Imam replied, "To sever relations."
The Worst Deed in the Eyes of Allah
A man approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and enquired, "What is the worst deed in the eyes of Allah?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"To attribute partners to Allah."
The man then asked, "After this which is the worst sin?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"To sever relations".
After this the same person asked, "After this which is the worst sin?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied:
"To enjoin the evil and to forbid the good (deeds)."
Goodness in Return of Ill-Treatment
A man complained to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) about his relatives. Imam (a.s.) said,
"Swallow your anger and behave nicely with your relatives."
The man said, "My relatives give me all sorts of troubles and there is hardly any cruelty they have not committed upon me." The Imam (a.s.) told him,
"Do you also want to cut off relation with them? If you also become like them, then Allah will never have mercy for you."
Allama Majlisi (r.a.) says, "If one behaves kindly to the relatives who are bad, they would at one time or the other regret their behaviour. Then the Mercy of Allah will be upon both of them. If the ill-behaved relatives do not rectify their ways then at least the Mercy of Allah will be upon the one who continues kindness to them (the relatives).
It is very clear to us that we must not sever relations even with those relatives who are unkind to us and who want to cut off the relationships.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Do not sever relation with your kindered even if they cut off relations with you."
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states:
"There are three sins whose punishment has to be borne in this world itself:-
The first is injustice, the second is breaking of relationships and the third is false oath."
Life is Shortened
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says in one of his sermons: -
"I seek refuge from the sins which cause the hastening of death."
Someone asked him, "Maula, Is there any sin by which the death is hastened?" He replied,
"Yes, the breaking up of the family ties."
Families who live with co-operation and care for each other are given increase in sustenance by Allah and those who remain divided and are aloof from each other, Allah removes the bounty from their sustenance and their lifespan shortens even if they are all pious (in other respects).
Death Due to Qat-e-Rahmi
A companion of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) complained about the ill-treatment given to him by his relatives,
"My own brother as well as my paternal cousins are harassing me. They have snatched the house that rightfully belonged to me and have given me only a room to live in. If I complain to the government, I shall be able to recover all my property.
Imam (a.s.) said,
"Be patient, everything will be alright."
The man returned satisfied. In the year 131 A.H. there was a terrible plague. All the relatives of the man perished. Thereafter when he arrived before Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), he (Imam a.s.) asked,
"How are your relatives?"
The man said, "By Allah all of them are dead." The Imam (a.s.) said,
"Their deaths have been due to their ill-treatment and Qat-e-Rahmi of relatives like you, not recognizing your right and cutting off relationships."
Bereft of Divine Mercy
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"When people claim to possess knowledge but do not act upon it, when they claim to profess love but harbour malice in their hearts and sever relations, in such a condition Allah removes mercy from them and makes them undiscerning to logic.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Among the various sins, injustice and cutting off relationships are such that one who commits these is punished in this world itself. Apart from this the punishment for these sinners has already been prepared in the Hereafter."
At another occasion the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has informed:
"One who severs relationships will not enter Heaven."
Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari (r.a.) has related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) that he quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as follows:
"Jibraeel (a.s.) has informed me that even at a distance of a thousand years man will be able to smell the fragrance of Heaven , but one who disobeys his parents, the one who breaks ties with the kith and kin, or the aged adulterer will not be able to smell it. In fact, the fragrance of Paradise will be felt even at a distance of two thousand years, but not by those who disobey their parents and those who break ties with the relatives."
The exalted Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.) has also informed that the invocation of the person who breaks family ties shall not be answered. "In the chapter on the merits of Shab-e-Qadr the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated that in the night of Qadr Allah forgives the sins of all the people except of those who drink wine, who disobey their parents, and those who break ties with the relatives or harbour enmity towards the believers."
Kindness to Relatives is Obligatory
The Almighty Allah says in the Quran:
"...and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship;"
(Surah Nisa 4:1)
According to Imam al-Baqir (a.s.), the notable point in this verse is that the fear of Allah is mentioned alongwith the fear one should have about breaking relations with kith and kin.
In the book Al Kafi there is a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He says:
"The relatives in this Ayat, include all, and not only the nearest ones. Certainly Allah has ordered kindness towards all the relatives. Allah has given so much importance to this deed that he mentions it with his exalted name."
Kindness to Relatives is Commanded in the Same Way as Namaz and Zakat
It is related from Imam Ali-ar-Reza (a.s.):
"Allah has ordered three things along with three others, in the glorious Quran:
1) Namaz is ordered along with Zakat. If one offers Namaz but does not pay Zakat (when it is due upon him) then his Namaz will not be accepted.
2) Allah has ordered thankfulness to Himself along with the thankfulness to one's parents. If one is not grateful to one's parents it is as if he has not been grateful to Allah.
3) Allah has ordered piety along with kindness to ones kith and kin. Then one who is not kind towards the relatives is not pious."
Rights of the Relatives and the Ease in Reckoning
The Creator of the Universe, Almighty Allah remarks in the Holy Quran:
"Certainly Allah orders equity, kindness (to people) and the giving (of what they need) to the relatives."
(Surah Nahl 16:90)
In Surah Raad is the following verse:
"And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
The expression 'reckoning' in this Ayat denotes the accounting of one's deeds with regard to his duty of kindness towards relatives. This Ayat shows that kindness towards the kith and kin shall be an important factor to ease the difficulty of the accounting for one's deeds.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains as follows:
"Kindness to relatives makes the reckoning (of the Hereafter) easy."
The Inimical Relative of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) made a will in his last moments:
"Pay seventy Dinars to my paternal cousin Hasan Aftas."
He was asked, "Master you are making a gift to someone who has attacked you with a sword?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Do you think I should not be included among those concerning whom the Quran says:
'And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning…"
(Surah Raad: 13:21)
Allah has created Paradise, purified it and made it fragrant. Its fragrance is felt at a distance of two thousand years (of travel). But the one who disobeys his parents or breaks ties with the kin will be so far away from Paradise, that he will not even experience its fragrance.
Traditions Regarding Kindness to Relatives
There are numerous traditions to the fact that Sileh Rahmi is obligatory. In one of such traditions Imam Baqir (a.s.) relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"I will (command) all the people of my Ummat, whether present or not, and those generations which are to come till the Qiyamat, who are still in the loins of their father and wombs of their mothers, that they should be kind to their relatives (and visit them) even if they live at a distance of a year's journey. Because kindness to relatives is one of the commands which is made an integral part of the faith (Imaan)."
One Who is Kind to the Relatives Will be Able to Cross the Bridge of Siraat Smoothly
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) relates from Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (r.a.) who quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to have remarked:
'Siraat (the bridge passing over Hell that everyone has to cross) will have on each side (of it) 'Sileh Rahmi' and 'Amanat' (keeping a trust) one who performs the act of Sileh Rahmi and maintains trusts (Amanat) shall be able to cross the 'Siraat' easily and will reach Paradise.
None of the good deeds will benefit those who have broken ties with relatives or committed breach of trust. They will slip from the bridge of 'Siraat' and drop into Hell-fire.
The Worldly Benefits of Kindness to Relatives
Numerous reports (Rawayaat) testify that Sileh Rahmi (kindness to one's relatives) also has worldly benefits. Like, increase in the life-span, postponement of death, increase in the number of descendants etc., Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) related three traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the court of Mansur Dawaniqi (l.a.).
1) "A man who has only three years of life remaining, performs an act of kindness to his relatives and Allah increases his life by thirty years. In the same way a man has thirty years of life but due to his breaking off the ties of relationship, his (remaining) life is decreased to three years. Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said: Whatever Allah wills He erases and whatever He wills He writes.
It means that if Allah wills He can alter (certain destinies) due to one's actions and deeds."
2) "Fulfilling the rights of kith and kin increases the life-span even if the relative is a sinner."
3) Sileh Rahmi (kindness to relatives) is a cause for the easy accounting of one's deeds on the day of Qiyamat and it (Sileh Rahmi) protects one from sudden death."
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has told Maysar:
(O' Maysar) the time of your death has arrived many times but Allah has postponed (your death) due to your kindness to the relatives and good behaviour towards them.
'Sileh Rahmi' Prolongs Life
It is reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said to Maysar,
"O Maysar, truly your lifespan has increased, what good actions have you been performing?"
Maysar replied, "In my youth I used to earn from my labours an amount of five Dinars a day and I used to give these to my maternal uncle."
Yaqoob Magribi was once in the presence of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) said,
"You and your brother had an argument over the ownership of a house. So much so that you abused each other and broke up the ties of relationsip. Such a thing is not from my religion, neither is it from the religion of my ancestors. Then fear Allah , the One Who is without any partner. Fear the Divine Punishment. Due to this sin, death shall soon separate you (two). Your brother will die in this journey and you shall regret you actions."
The man asked,"May my life be sacrificed upon you, when will I die?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Your death had also arrived but you did an act of kindness to your father's sister (your aunt) and thus your lifespan increased by twenty years (or months)."
As Imam (a.s.) has predicted, Yaqoob's brother died before he could reach home and was buried on the way.
The Benefits of Sileh Rahmi in the Hereafter
The practice of Sileh Rahmi (kindness to kith and kin) accrues worldly advantages, spiritual benefits and bounties of the Hereafter.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq says:
"Sileh Rahmi perfects the morals and encourages charity. When one performs Sileh Rahmi he has to be benevolent towards his relatives. The continuous practice of Sileh Rahmi brings refinement in his morals. In the same way repeated acts of kindness inculcate a benign and compassionate feeling in the person, and the soul is purified (from the sin of jealousy and enmity).
Sileh Rahmi Causes All the Good Deeds to be Accepted
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states:
Sileh Rahmi (kindness to relatives) purifies deeds. Purification of deeds means, that the shortcomings in all the good deeds of a person practicing Sileh Rahmi are naturally compensated and all his good deeds are accepted by Allah.
It increases wealth, wards off difficulties and calamities. The accounting of your actions on the day of Qiyamat is made easy. Even the ordained time of death is postponed.
Extending Hand of Friendship Towards Those Who Want to Break the Ties (Qat-e-Rahem)
Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says:
There are two actions, towards which, a step taken is liked by Allah more than anything else. One is the step taken to join a row formed in the name of Allah (for Jehad or Namaz); the second is the one taken to extend a hand of friendship towards kith and kin who want to break relations.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Certainly there is a section in Paradise which can not be attained except by three kinds of people. First the just Imam, second, the one who does Sileh Rahmi, and third the one who has family (and children) but remains patient (in poverty and difficulties).
The Reward of Sileh Rahmi
The reward for Sileh Rahmi has been described by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in one of his traditions. He says:
"When a person goes towards his relatives so that he can fulfill his rights with his life and his wealth, Allah bestows upon him the reward of a martyr at every step he takes. He (Allah) writes down forty thousand Hasana (the unit of Divine rewards) and He erases forty thousand of his sins and He elevates him by forty thousand grades. The person achieves the position of one who has worshipped Allah for a hundred years."
At another place the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says, regarding the rewards for Sileh Rahmi:
"The reward for Sadaqah in the way of Allah is ten times, whereas the reward for giving a loan is twelve times (because in giving a loan the dignity of the Loanee is maintained). The reward for the good behaviour to the believing brothers is twelve times and the reward for Sileh Rahmi is twenty four times."
The Meaning of Sileh Rahmi and Qat-e-Rahmi
The Shariat of Islam has not provided any fixed definition for these two terms. In this case the meaning as judged by common sense and reason must be accepted. We must consider all the relatives from the father's side and mother's side, irrespective of whether they are close or distant, to be our kith and kin who have a right on us. In the same way the children of the daughters and their descendant also come in this category as the Quran says:
'Those who join together (do Sileh Rahmi) those things which Allah has commanded to be joined."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
Urwah Ibne-Yazeed asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of this Ayat (Surah Raad 13:21), the Imam (a.s.) replied;
"You have been commanded to do Sileh Rahmi towards all your relatives. Whether they are Mehram (in the prohibited category of marriage) or Namehram, (not in the prohibited category) whether they are distant relatives or closely related, whether they are immediate relatives or separated by several generations."
No Discrimination Between the Affluent and the Poor Relatives
It is generally observed that people tend to behave graciously towards their wealthy relatives and avoid the poor ones. The faith of Islam does not differentiate or discriminate between the rich and the poor relatives. What is important is the closeness of relationship. The more closely a person is related to you, the more important and necessary it is to fulfill his rights.
What is Sileh Rahmi?
Any behaviour which is generally regarded by people as good, kind, gracious or obligatory, when directed towards your relatives is Sileh Rahmi.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The kindness towards relative and goodness towards the believing brother makes easy your reckoning on the Day of Judgement and protects you from sins. So you should be kind to your relatives and be good to your believing brothers even if it is as little as a sincere 'salaam' (salutation) or a hearty reply to a salaam."
At another place the Sixth Imam (a.s.) remarks:
"Do Sileh Rahmi towards your relatives and the near ones even if it is just by offering a glass of water to them."
The Different Grades of Sileh Rahmi
Shaheed-e-Thani1 (r.a.) describes the grades of Sileh Rahmi in the following words:
It is deduced from the traditions that the highest stage of Sileh Rahmi is to consider the relatives as our own selves. That is, we should wish for our relations whatever we wish for ourselves.
The next stage of Sileh Rahmi is to help relatives overcome the difficulties and hardships they may be facing. Next, we must earnestly try to benefit our kith and kin as much as possible, in areas where they need help and of course in a manner permitted by religion. This benefit can be either economic or by way of making a person independent, by securing for him a job or initiating him into a trade. It can also be in the form of a sound advice, spiritual guidance and religious teachings.
The fourth stage of Sileh Rahmi is towards those people who are dependents of our relatives. For example, the brother's wife or the step-mother.
The simplest kind of Sileh Rahmi consists of salutations, a lesser kind is the conveying of Salaam (through someone). The smallest kind of Sileh Rahmi is to pray for relatives in their presence and to encourage them.
The Difference Between Breaking Relations With Nearest Kin and With Distant Relatives
Qat-e-Rahmi and Sileh Rahmi with respect to the close kith and kin could be different from that with the distant relatives. It is possible that a certain action or attitude towards close relative would amount to Qat-e-Rahmi but the same towards a distant relative may not be regarded as such. Also a certain behaviour with a knowledgeable and a pious relative may be termed as Qat-e-Rahmi but with respect to other relatives it may not be so. It is best to refrain from every act that could possibly amount to Qat-e-Rahmi. We must observe extreme precaution in this matter lest we bring upon ourselves the severe punishment of a Greater Sin.
Arrogance Towards Poor Relatives is Qat-e-Rahmi
The ones most guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi are the rich and affluent who do not acknowledge their connections with their poor relatives and deal with them with pride and arrogance, while they are polite and kind to their wealthy relatives. To neglect one's duty and give importance to material possessions, contradicts the laws of Islam both in the letter and spirit.
What is the Least Amount of Sileh Rahmi That is Wajib
Every kind of Sileh Rahmi, the failure of which is viewed as a sort of Qat-e-Rahmi, is obligatory for us. For example, if a person is unable to fulfill his needs due to poverty or is unable to get medical aid for any reason, or is in debt; and he approaches a rich relative for help; it is obligatory on the rich person to help him. Even if the rich person is not approached directly but comes to know the predicament of his poor relative, it is obligatory on him to help this less fortunate relative. The wealthy man who fails to carry out these obligations will be guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi.
It is however not obligatory for a person to help his poor relative if he himself is not in a sound position to do so and fears that his finances will be constrained or that he himself may become a destitute. Also, Sileh Rahmi is not obligatory, if by doing so he will violate the laws of Islam. For example one need not pay a visit to a relative, if by doing so one would be in the midst of Na-mehram or may be compelled to hear music.
Sometimes we may be in doubt whether a particular action could be considered as Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi. In this case the reference point is to see how the people in general view it. The criteria for deciding that a particular behaviour is Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi therefore depends on the general feeling for it. If a small lapse like not saluting or non-compliance with a small request is Qat-e-Rahmi according to those around us, then it is so. By the same token if observing small niceties are considered as Sileh Rahmi, then it is so.
Sileh Rahmi With Certain Relatives is Mustahab if Not Wajib
At times some obligations towards distant relatives are not considered Sileh Rahmi and accordingly are not Wajib (obligatory) for us. But these obligations are bound to be Mustahab. In any event, it is best to conduct ourselves in a manner that we totally eliminate the risk of committing a Greater Sin.
Breaking Ties Even With Those Who Wish to Break Up Ties With us is Haraam
Although one would not be at fault from a worldly point of view, according to Shariat, breaking ties even with those who want to do so is Haraam.
It is natural for a person who, finding that his relative does not acknowledge him nor fulfills his rights, reacts by remaining aloof and allowing the bonds of kinship to be broken.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Do not break ties with your relatives even if they break them with you."
The Order of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) Regarding Qat-e-Rahmi
Abdullah Ibne Sinan says that I pleaded to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "I have a cousin, I do Sileh Rahmi (kindness) towards him and do not wish to break ties with him. But he wants to break ties with me. (Master!) I want to maintain relations but he wishes to sever them. Due to this behaviour of his I am also inclined to cut off ties with him. Can you permit me to do so?"
Imam (a.s.) replied:
"(Remember) If you behave kindly with this relative of yours inspite of his Qat-e-Rahmi (then it is possible that one day this will affect him and he too will begin to fulfill his obligations). In this way the Mercy of Allah shall be upon both of you. But if you break ties with this cousin of yours then neither of you shall be eligible for the Mercy of Allah."
Goodness in Return of Ill-Treatment
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If any one betrays trust with you, do not betray trust with him or you will also become like him. Similarly, do not break ties with your relatives even if they do so."
It means that if we reciprocate the malice of a relative we shall also be like him (i.e. sinful). In the same way the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has invited us to perform kindness in lieu of misdemeanor. He remarks, "Do you wish me to tell you (about those qualities) which shall benefit you in this world as well as Hereafter?"
The people said, "O Prophet of Allah! Please do so."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"The three such qualities are, firstly, to do Sileh Rahmi with one who does Qat-e-Rahmi with you. Secondly, fulfill the needs of one who has deprived you. Thirdly, forgive those who have oppressed you."
Breaking of Ties With the Muslim and the Kafir Relatives
The traditions of the Masumeen (a.s.) leave no doubt whatsoever that the fulfilling of the rights of one's relatives is obligatory. Whether the relatives are Shia or Sunni, pious and religious or sinful and transgressors or whether they are Muslims or Kafirs. It is compulsory to perform Sileh Rahmi with them. Even if a Muslim relative apostises and becomes a kafir, his rights are not invalidated.
Ibne-e-Hamid enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "My relatives are not of my religion. Are any of their rights upon me?" Imam (a.s.) gave the following reply:
"Why not? The rights of the relatives do not become invalid for any reason (even if the relatives are unbelievers) but if the relatives are Muslim then their rights are twice as much. One is due to their being relatives and second because of their being Muslim."
Dawood Raqqi the Companion of the Sixth Imam (a.s.)
Dawood Raqqi says: "I was sitting in the company of Imam (a.s.) when Imam (a.s.) himself started speaking and said:
"Dawood, on Thursday the report of your deeds was presented to me and I saw among your deeds the Sileh Rahmi which you have performed with your cousin (brother), I was very pleased. However, I know that this Sileh Rahmi of yours will (because of his Qat-e-Rahmi towards you) be the cause of his early death."
Dawood, the companion of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: "My cousin used to bear enmity towards me. He was an evil person. When I came to know about his destitution, I went to Makkah and gave him some money so that he could manage himself for some time. It was this action of mine about which Imam (a.s.) was informed and he told of it on my return to Madinah."
The Behaviour of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) Towards His Inimical Relatives
Certain relatives of the Holy Imam (a.s.) not only failed to acknowledge his rights but even bore enmity against him in their hearts. Although the enmity against Imam (a.s.) makes him a disbeliever. Yet Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) willed that seventy Dinars be given to Hasan Aftas. Hasan Aftas was an evil person and had such deep malice against Imam (a.s.) that he had once tried to attack Imam (a.s.) with a sword. The goodly behaviour of Imam (a.s.) towards his enemy was due entirely to his relationship.
Conversation of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) With Abdullah Hasani
Once Abdullah Hasani, a relative of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) met him on the streets of Madinah. He had a meaningless argument with Imam (a.s.) and spoke ill of him. Imam (a.s.) replied to this misbehavior in the best way. He went to the house of this person the very next day and said, "Yesterday I recited the following Ayat of the Quran,
"And those who joined that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning.
(Surah Raad 13:21)
I became very fearful because of it." Abdullah understood that Imam (a.s.) was intending to correct him. He began to weep and said, "I have willfully forgotten this verse. After this, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Abdullah embraced each other.
The Grief of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) on the Oppression upon the Descendants of Imam Hasan (a.s.)
When Mansoor Dawaniqi arrested and imprisoned Abdullah Mahej and other Hasani Sadaats, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was grief-stricken. Although the Hasanis were opposed to Imam (a.s.), the Imam's (a.s.) distress was such that he was confined to bed for twenty days. He wrote a lengthy letter to them to express his sorrow and to offer comfort and consolation. He sent this letter to the prison of Kufa and was in regular contact with them to know their well-being. Often he wept on their imprisonment.
It Does Not Matter if We Are Kind to Certain Relatives Who Are Not Muslim
It is simply clear by now that for Sileh-Rahem and Qate-Rahem, the Shariat does not distinguish between a Muslim and a Kafir or between a pious and a sinful person. At the same time we also know that Islam exhorts us to shun infidels and to dissociate with them. These contradicting views will cause some confusion in our minds and a word of explanation is in order.
Undoubtedly Islam orders us to detest kafirs, hence it is improper to behave well with them. Good behaviour towards a Kafir is an outward act and at a social level. While hating him for being an Kafir is how you feel and think about him at a spiritual level. Since Sileh-Rahem is obligatory, we must behave well with our Kafir relatives, but at no stage should we be oblivious of the fact that they are non-believers and deserve to be hated for being Kafirs.
Sileh Rahmi to Kafir Relatives Should Not Encourage Them in Their Disbelief
If Sileh Rahmi towards a Kafir relative, in some way, strengthens his conviction towards his own religious views; or if Sileh-Rahem towards a sinful relative provides him with opportunity and encouragement in his unlawful ways, then this kind of Sileh Rahmi is forbidden. In fact, if Qat-e-Rahem induces a disbeliever to introspect and reconsider his disbelief, then, Qat-e-Rahmi is obligatory on us. In the same way Qat-e-Rahem is obligatory if it discourages or dissuades a relative in his sinful ways.
Dissociating With the Enemies of Islam
There is another situation where Qat-e-Rahem is Wajib (obligatory). That is when the kafir or sinful relative harbors malice towards the religion of Islam. Allah says in Surah Mujadila:
"You shall not find people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons or their brothers or their kinsfolk..."
(Surah Mujadila 58:22)
This verse clearly indicates that one must abstain from Sileh Rahem towards even the closest of relatives if they are inimical towards Allah or the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or the Islamic faith.
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib if the Relative is not Overtly Inimical
A Quranic verse from the chapter Mumtehana says:
"Allah does not forbid you from respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly, surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah only forbids you from respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up others in your expulsion, that you make friendship with them and whoever makes friends with them, these are the unjust."
(Surah Mumtehana 60:8-9)
Thus it could be concluded from the above two verses that if a relative does not openly oppress us or exhibit enmity, then Sileh Rahmi is Wajib towards him.
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib Even if One Has to Travel Far to Perform it
It is highly recommended to fulfill the duty of Sileh Rahmi even if one has to travel a long distance to do so. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told Ali (a.s.):
"O Ali! Even if you have to travel for two years to do good to your parents, do it, even if you have to travel for one year to perform Sileh Rahmi to your kinsfolk, do so. Even if you have to journey a mile to see a sick person, do it. Even if you have to walk two miles to attend a funeral, do it. Even if you have to travel four miles to meet a believing brother, do it."
Traditions have stated, as mentioned earlier, that for every step a person takes to visit his relatives, he gets forty thousand rewards, forty thousand of his sins are forgiven and his status is raised by forty thousand grades.
Maintain Cordial Relations But Do Not Reside Close to Each Other
Amirul Momineen (a.s.) writes a letter to one of his officers,
"Order the relatives to visit each other but ask them not to reside in the same neighborhood."
The late Scholar, Naraqi, explains in his book, 'Meraj us Sadaat': "Staying next to each other breeds malice and jealousy and results in Qat-e-Rahem."
It is much easier for relatives to maintain harmony and goodwill by staying apart from each other. Proximity often results in friction and enmity.
There is a Persian proverb that says that distance and friendship are proportionate to each other.
Sileh Rahmi With the Spiritual Father
We are indeed indebted to our parents for our physical, mental and spiritual development. But mankind could not have been guided right, without a spiritual father. The essence of spiritual guidance which consists of rules of conduct as approved by Allah have come to us only through the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and it was the sustained and unsparing effort of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) which guided mankind to the path of salvation and eternal happiness. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was the spiritual father of the Muslims in his time and later Ali (a.s.) took his place. It is only through love and obedience to them that one can hope to achieve spiritual eminence.
This is corroborated by the statement of Allah to the effect that whoever enters the 'fort' (protection) of these exalted personalities, his spiritualism becomes evident in his behaviour. The doors of knowledge and awareness are open. The fountain of sagacity flows in his heart and the reality becomes manifest for him.
The Advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) - A Fabulous Blessing
It is not possible for a man to achieve spiritual excellence without the love and obedience of a spiritual father.
"Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when he raised among them an apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:164)
This verse signifies the importance of the advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by Allah for the guidance of mankind. We must acknowledge it as the greatest blessing of Allah and a favour that He bestowed upon His creatures.
The Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the Worldly Comforts and Blessings
Yunus Ibne Abdul Rehman told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The love and Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) has been prescribed as your right upon us by Allah. I consider this blessing to be much superior to the worldly blessings."
Imam (a.s.) was distraught and he replied:
"You have made an inappropriate comparison. What are the worldly blessings? What is it more than eating, drinking and dressing? And you compare all these transient things with our love which is an everlasting reality?"
We have seen in the discussion on the rights of parents, that we can be 'Aaq' of our spiritual fathers if we fail to fulfill their rights. Not all of us may be capable of fulfilling this duty to the fullest extent. But we should sincerely try our utmost to obey their commands. At the same time we should be fully aware of our deficiencies and failings and continually implore our infallible guides to pardon us.
Who Are the Spiritual Fathers?
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib and Qat-e-Rahmi is Haraam towards our spiritual relatives also. Our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Imams (a.s.) are our spiritual fathers. So, the descendants of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.), that is the Sadaat, are our spiritual relatives. Also, since the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) are the spiritual fathers of all believers and Shias, we all are related to each other, and are like brothers of each other.
"Certainly the Believers Are Brothers of Each Other."
(Surah Hujarat 49:10)
The verse clearly indicates that everyone is somehow related to a common spiritual father.
Rights of Sadaat
Allama Hilli in his book 'Qawaidul Ahkam' counsels his son Fakhrul Muhaqqiqain in the following words:
"You should practise Sileh Rahmi with the pure descendants of the Sadaat also. The Almighty Allah has emphasized upon this duty so much that he has made the love of relatives of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as a compensation of the prophetic mission."
"...Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives...."
(Surah Shuara 42:23)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"I shall intercede for four types of people even if they carry the sins of all humanity."
1) A person who has helped my descendants and progeny.
2) A person who has spent his wealth upon my descendants when they were in need.
3) A person who has loved my Progeny with his tongue and his heart.
4) A person who has considered the wants of my descendants when they were surrounded by enemies and were homeless."
Does Anyone Have a Right Upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)?
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"On the day of Qiyamat a caller will announce, 'O people, keep silent, because Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is to say something to you.' Then the Messenger will arise and say, 'O people! If anyone of you has any right or favour upon me, or if there is any obligation upon my neck then he should stand up. I will see that he is compensated.' The people will reply, 'May our parents be sacrificed upon you. What right? What favour? And what obligation? Rather the rights and favours are of Allah and His Prophet upon all the creatures.'
Goodness to Sadaat and Paradise
Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) shall say:
"No, they do have a right. Whoever has provided shelter and help to anyone from my Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) or did good to them or gave them clothes in their need or fed them when they were in need, should stand up so that I can recompense him."
Some people who had performed such deeds will arise. Then the voice of the Almighty shall be heard. "O Muhammad, my loved one! With due regards to your position I have fixed the reward for their deeds. They shall be given whatever position you intend for them in Paradise." Then Allah shall give them a place near the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) and there would be nothing to obstruct their view."
Rights of the Brothers in Faith
There are numerous traditions in connection with the rights of the believers and brothers-in-faith. A few of such traditions are quoted below:
Mualla Bin-Khanees asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "What are the rights of the believing brother?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Seven rights of the believers are Wajib - If one fails to fulfill even one of these rights, he is externed from Allah's obedience. He shall not receive any reward from the Almighty."
"What are those seven rights?", enquired Mualla.
Imam (a.s.) said,
" I fear that you may fail to act upon them."
Mualla said, "La Quwwata Illa Billah." There is no power except of Allah. (He meant, It wouldn't be so).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"The foremost right is that you wish for the believing brothers whatever you wish for yourself."
Imam (a.s.) then related the other six rights,
"The second right is that you must refrain from angering him and try to seek his pleasure and obey him. The third right is that you help him with you life, your wealth, your tongue, and your hands. The fourth right is that you guide him and teach him that which is beneficial for him. The fifth, is that do not eat till satiation when your believing brother is hungry, and do not drink to satiation if he is thirsty, and do not dress nicely if he is deprived of good clothes. The sixth right is that if you have a servant you should send him to do his work. The seventh right is that if the believing brother says something on oath you should believe him, if he invites, you accept his invitation, if he is sick, visit him, if he dies, accompany his bier, if you come to know any of his needs, fulfill them it before he asks."
Sileh Rahmi with the Imam (a.s.)
Imam Reza (a.s.) has informed,
"Those who cannot come for our Ziarat must visit our virtuous followers. They shall get the reward of performing our Ziarat. And those who wish to do Sileh Rahmi towards us but are unable to do so must do Sileh Rahmi towards our pious devotees. They shall be given the reward of our Sileh Rahmi."
Respect and honour for the believing brother is the same as respect and honour for the spiritual father (Imam [a.s.]). In the same way, insult and disrespect of the believing brother is equivalent to insult and disrespect to the spiritual father, (the infallible Imam [a.s.]). It is for very reason that insulting a believer brings the wrath of Allah upon us and makes us deserving of severe punishment.
We shall conclude with the prayer that Allah may give Tawfeeq to all of us for doing Sileh Rahmi and fulfilling the rights of others.
Eighth Greater Sin Usurping The Property Of The Orphans
Eighth Greater Sin
USURPING THE PROPERTY OF THE ORPHANS
The eighth among the Greater Sins is to usurp the property of an orphan who has not attained maturity.
This is categorized as a Greater sin by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.), Imam Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Taqi (a.s.). It is a sin, the punishment of which is fixed by Allah to be the fire of Hell.
The Quran says,
"(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire."
(Surah Nisa 4:10)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-e-Kabir that one who cheats an orphan of his property will be raised on the Day of Judgement in such a condition that the flames of fire will be protruding from his mouth, nose and ears. By looking at him people will recognize that he is the one who in his lifetime had usurped the property of the orphans. The last phrase, "They shall enter burning fire" indicates that one who deprives an orphan of his rightful property will be liable to be burnt in Hell-fire, even if he has not committed any other sin.
The Almighty Allah says,
"And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones) and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:2)
The above verse gives clearcut instructions to those who are guardians and caretakers of the orphans, on how to fulfill their responsibility. They should spend the property in their trust in a correct manner for the benefit of the orphan and without stinginess. A caretaker should be very careful not to spend any of the orphan's money on himself. This is a very serious offence that will cause his entire Halaal wealth to become Haraam. Under no circumstances should an orphan's valuable possessions be substituted with anything inferior. Finally, when the child reaches maturity, all his property should be returned to him with complete honesty.
In the same chapter of Surah Nisa, Allah says in verse number nine:
"And let them fear who, should they leave behind them weakly offsprings, would fear on their account, so let them be careful of (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words."
(Surah Nisa 4:9)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-al-Mizan that whoever betrays the trust of orphans and oppresses them, their children will suffer a similar fate. This is an amazing reality that is revealed by the Holy Quran. Similarly in other numerous verses, the Quran informs us that the returns of our deeds are evident in this world itself. We will witness the results of our own actions. Every action has an effect on one who performs it, and we should be fully conscious of the fact that our sinful acts are not restricted to the sinner, but they come to bear on our children as well.
It is our confirmed duty to wish for others as we wish for ourselves. A good or bad action directed towards others therefore implies that we wish the same for ourselves. So, by carrying out these actions, we, in effect have prayed for it for ourselves. This prayer will not be rejected and we will be recompensed as we deserve.
The marvellous functioning of our body is the result of the co-ordination between the various composite parts and organs. We as individuals are also composite members of a large body, which is our community. Just as the malfunction of one organ in the body, causes distress in the other organs, so also whatever hurt or misery that we may inflict on another is bound to take us also in its grip. So it is, that the injustice we do to another's child will cause our own children to suffer the repercussions of our actions. It is of course another matter that the Almighty in his Infinite Mercy allows some of our good deeds to compensate for the bad actions.
"And whatever affliction befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and (yet) He pardons most (of your faults)"
(Surah Shuara 42:30)
Undoubtedly, we must dread Allah's punishment and refrain from oppressing the orphans. We have to have kind and tender feelings for them as we have for our own children. If we trample upon the rights of an orphan or do any injustice to him or her, we can rest assured that the same fate will befall our own children after our death. The verse of Surah Nisa unequivocally states that oppressing an orphan is a Greater Sin. The horrible consequences of this sin are also mentioned clearly.
Punishment for Usurping the Orphan's Property is Meted Out in This World
It is recorded from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that Allah has ordained two penalties for appropriating the wealth or property of an orphan:
"The first punishment is in the Hereafter, and that is the fire of Hell. The second one is in this world itself. As indicated by the following verse of Quran:
"And let those fear who, should they leave behind them the weakly offspring, would fear on their account, so let them be careful of (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words." (Surah Nisa 4:9)
Whatever has been mentioned in the Holy Quran, the same has been emphasized by Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.). Other Tafsirs of Quran also give the same explanation. Imam Ali (a.s.) states: "Certainly one who usurps the orphan's property, his own children shall be similarly dealt with in this world in the near future and he will suffer for it in the Hereafter."(Behaarul Anwaar)
Ali (a.s.) has also mentioned:
"Do good to the children of others so that good may be done to yours (after you are dead)."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has informed:
"If one oppresses someone, Allah will appoint an oppressor upon him or upon his children."
This is not Against Divine Justice
We may wonder as to why the innocent children who are not at fault and in no way responsible for the misdeeds of their parents should be the target of oppression and injustice meant for their parents. Is this not against Divine Justice?
The answer to this objection is simple. Allah does not appoint any oppressor but when someone oppresses the children, Allah does not restrain him. Allah witholds His Mercy and favour.
Bad behaviour towards the children implies that the father wishes the same for his children and also that he has not wished Allah's Mercy and favour upon his children.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated:
"If the father is virtuous the Almighty Allah protects the children."
As mentioned in the Quranic verses of Surah Kahf:
"And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father was a righteous man, so your Lord desired that they should attain their maturity and take out their treasures, a mercy from your Lord..."
(Surah Kahf 18:82)
Thus it is clear that the Mercy and favour of Allah upon the orphans is due to the righteousness of their father. On the other hand if their father had oppressed others than this would have caused them to be deprived of Divine Mercy and favour.
Tradition that Denounces the Usurpation of Orphan's Property
Umar bin Zurarah says that he enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the Greater Sins. He said:
"One of the Greater Sins is illegal appropriation of the orphan's property."
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) narrates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"On the day of Qiyamat some people would arise from their graves in such a condition that flames of fire would be protruding from their mouths."
The people asked, "O! Messenger of Allah who are these people?"
The Prophet replied:
"Those who have illegally appropriated the property of the orphans."
Imam Reza (a.s.) was asked, "What is the smallest quantity of the orphan's property the appropriation of which causes one to enter the fire (of Hell)?"
"When one consumes something belonging to the orphan without the intention of returning it to him. There is no question of less or more."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) when I was taken to the skies I decried a group of people whose bellies were being stuffed with fire. And the fire was spilling from their anal openings. I asked Jibraeel, who they are? Jibraeel replied, 'They are those who used to usurp the property of the orphans unjustly'."
The Death of a Creditor and His Minor Children
A person who has minor children and had given loans to others, and dies without making any arrangement for their recovery, will be counted as one who has misappropriated the wealth of orphans. Because after the death of the father the children become the owners of his property. However, the dead father would only be accountable for that portion of the loan which is the share of the children.
Severe Pain in the Eyes of Amirul Momineen (a.s.)
Once Hazrat Ali (a.s.) had sore eyes. The pain was so severe that he was groaning loudly. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) came to visit him and said:
"Is this sighing and groaning due to the restlessness or due to severe pain?"
Ali (a.s.) replied:
"I have never had such severe pain."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) related to him a tradition which was so frightening that Ali (a.s.) forgot his pain. The tradition is as follows:
A Frightening Tradition
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"O! Ali, When the Angel of Death (Israel) comes to a disbeliever he will come wme wa mace of fire. He will extract his life painfully. Seeing this, Hell will scream loudly (so that it may take this disbeliever to itself soon)."
Hearing this Ali (a.s.) sat up abruptly and said:
"O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.), repeat to me this tradition. I have forgotten my pain after listening to it." Then he enquired, "Will anyone's soul from your Ummat be also extracted in this way and will anyone be subjected to such a severe punishment?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Yes! There are three types of people among the muslims whose souls shall be taken out this way. First group is of the unjust rulers. The second is of those who unjustly appropriate the wealth of orphans and the third is of those who give false witness."
Kindness Towards Orphans
Injustice and oppression to the orphans brings severe punishment in this world as well as Hereafter. In the same way kind and gentle behaviour towards them earns countless rewards in this world, as well as the Hereafter. Especially blessed by Allah are those who protect the orphans and take the responsibility of being guardians to them. Numerous traditions have been recorded concerning this. A few of these are quoted below.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who maintains the orphans, Allah makes Paradise Wajib upon him, in the same way as he makes Hell Wajib upon those who usurp the property of the orphans."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"I and one who maintains an orphan would be together in Paradise in the presence of Allah, in the same way as these two fingers are together."
And he pointed out to his index and the middle finger joined together.
According to a tradition, The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and one who maintains an orphan, will not be separated nor would there be any barrier between them in Paradise.
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"If anyone from you becomes the guardian of an orphan and deals kindly with them, and he fulfills these actions satisfactorily, and he strokes the head of the orphan with sympathy, then Allah necessarily writes good deeds equivalent to the hair covered by his hand and forgives sins equal to the number of hair, and raises his position in grades equal to the hair of the orphan's head."
Elsewhere the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has been reported to have said:
"When an orphan cries the Heaven shudders, then Almighty Allah says, 'O Angels, Is this the same orphan whose father has been buried in the earth?' The Angels reply, '(O Allah) you are the all-knowing.'
Then Allah would say, 'O My Angel be a witness. Whoever consoles this orphan and makes him happy, I will make him happy on the day of Qiyamat.'"
The caressing of an orphan's head removes callousness from the heart. There are many tradition which indicate this. However, only a few shall suffice for our discussion.
Guardian of Minor Children
The boy who has not reached the fifteenth year cannot spend from his wealth. In the same way the girl who is not yet nine years of age cannot spend from her property. A minor boy or a girl cannot spend from their wealth in any way. Only their guardian has the right to spend from their wealth for their upkeep. The foremost guardians, according to Shariat are the father, grandfather, mother and grandmother. The next in order is the one who is appointed a guardian after the death of the father and grandfather. He has the right of maintaining the orphans.
If the father and the grandfather die without appointing a trustee for the children, the legal guardian is the ruling Mujtahid or someone appointed by the Mujtahid. In a situation where a ruling Mujtahid is also not present, the Momineen shall maintain the orphans. (This is called Udool-al-Momineen in religious terminology). It would be explained at an appropriate place.
The Affairs of the Orphans Should be Conducted With Care
The guardian of an orphan shoulders a very serious responsibility. He should judiciously spend for all the needs of the orphan, neither being miserly nor extravagant.
The guardian should strictly maintain the account of the orphan's expenditure separately and club it with his own family expenses. Since it would be more convenient and economical to cook the orphan's food along with the food for the rest of the family. But the expenses incurred for the orphan must be accurately calculated. It would be highly commendable if the guardian took a little less as the orphan's share than the calculated amount. He would indeed gain Allah's immense pleasure.
At times, however, due to the dietary requirements of the orphan, it may be necessary to cook his food separately. This would certainly pose some problems. But the main thing the guardian has to keep in mind is the wellbeing of the orphan and an honest assessment of his expenses.
This has been permitted because it is easier and much more economical then having food cooked separately for the orphan. However, if there is a great difference between the dietary requirement of the orphan child and other family members, it would be very difficult to adhere to this arrangement. For example, if a child does not eat meat and rice, then it would be difficult to have his food cooked together with the main dish. The thing to be taken care of, is that the well-being and property of the orphan is maintained.
A verse of Surah Baqarah says:
"And they ask you concerning the orphan's; say: To set right for them (their affairs) is good, and if you become co-partners with them, they are your brethren; and Allah knows the mischief-maker and the peace-maker..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:220)
The above verse was revealed at a time the people were confused as to how they should handle the money of their orphan wards. The verse revealing the severe punishment for those who misappropriate an orphan's property had struck such fear into the hearts of guardians that they started cooking the orphan's food separately. They would not even touch the leftovers and allowed them to rot. They then approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in a confused state of mind and the above verse was revealed.
It is evident that we must live together with the believing brother. The Omniscient Allah knows what is in our heart, and is aware of our intentions. He knows who intends to misappropriate the property of the orphans and who wants to put right their affairs.
The Wealthy Guardian of the Orphans
It is recommended that a wealthy guardian should maintain an orphan. He will enjoy boundless blessings of the Hereafter fixed by Allah for this gracious act.
As the Holy Quran states:
"...And whoever (of the orphan's guardian) is rich, let him abstain altogether (from spending of the orphan's wealth)..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The Impoverished Guardian of the the Orphans
If the caretaker of the orphan is poor, he can charge for his services. Concerning the remuneration of these services there are three legal opinions. Some scholars are of the opinion that he can charge an amount generally believed to be appropriate. The second opinion is that he must take only as much as is necessary for his own upkeep, and no more. The third view point is that he must find out the generally accepted remuneration and the expenses of his own upkeep; and charge the amount which is less. This is a precautionary measure and the most recommended one.
The Property of the Orphan Must Be Guarded Till He Attains Maturity
It is not permissible to hand over an orphan's money to him before he reaches maturity. The guardian will be held liable, if he is careless in this matter and the orphan suffers a loss as a result. On the other hand an orphan's property should be restored to him immediately, once he reaches maturity.
Signs of Puberty
Maturity is recognized by any one of these three signs:
1) The completion of fifteen lunar years for the boy and nine lunar years for the girl.
2) Growth of pubic hair.
3) Discharge of semen in boys.
What is the Meaning of Rasheed?
The Quranic verse says,
"And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect (Rasheed), make over to them their property..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The maturity of intellect (Rasheed) in this connection means maturity in the financial affairs. This maturity is reflected in the child's capacity to handle his day to day needs without there being any risk of loss and wasteful expenditure. At this stage it is Wajib to hand over to the orphan his wealth and property.
In other words it is Wajib to restore the wealth and property of an orphan when he attains puberty and maturity of intellect.
Ninth Greater Sin Usury
Ninth Greater Sin
The ninth Greater sin is usury. That it is classified as a Greater Sin is clear in traditions recorded from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.).
According to the glorious Quran, taking interest is a sin that incurs severe Divine punishment. The punishment for usury as mentioned in the Quran is far more severe than the punishment for other sins. It is announced in Surah Aale Imran:
"O you who believe! Do not devour usury, making it double and redouble and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful. And guard yourself against the fire that has been prepared for the unbelievers.
(Surah Aale Imran 3:130-131)
It means that the fury of the fire that is prepared for those who take interest will be just as intense as the fire prepared for the unbelievers.
The verse of Surah Baqarah says,
"Those who swallow down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. That is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury. To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, then he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah; and whoever returns (to it) - These are the inmates of the fire; they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
The above verse confirms that the usurer will remain in Hell eternally and there is no salvation for him. Allama Muhammad Husain Tabatabai, in his Tafsir, 'al-Mizan' says that the punishment ordered by Allah for usury is so severe, that such severity is not mentioned even for disobedience to any of the Furu-e-Deen. Another equally serious offence is to nurture friendship with the enemies of Islam. The direct ill-effects of usury are clear and evident. Hoarding of wealth increases the disparity between the rich and the poor. Poverty is a malady that can degrade and humiliate its victims, erode his values and destroy his morals. This in turn leads to corruption, theft and murder. Those directly responsible for destroying the social equilibrium, are the hoarders, who amassed wealth and thus it was unavailable to those who needed it. The total disintegration of the social fabric can precipitate a civil war and further a world war which brings with it only death and destruction. In the world of today with the advances of the nuclear and chemical weapons, war does not only bring death to the humans, but leaves them a caricature, sick and maimed and deformed for generations to come.
The direct ill effects on the Muslim society as a result of friendship with those opposed to Islam, are also clear and evident.
History has recorded that friendship with the enemies of Islam can only be bought at a price. The price in this case is to compromise. Compromise on the tenets, the culture and the spirit of Islam, till a time comes when the country loses its identity as an Islamic society.
Usury is Against Intellect and Shariat
The verse of Surah Baqarah which is quoted above, says that those who take usury (interest on loan) shall be counted among mad people (whom Shaitan has touched). On the Day of Judgement people will recognize them from their madness that they had been taking usury. Their sanity would be destroyed, because in this world they have acted against intellect and Shariat. They have been oblivious of humanity and the needs of humanity. They did not deal equitably with others and disobeyed the law of co-operation. Actually these people had been insane in the world, because they have followed the direction of Shaitan and performed such insane acts.
Is Trading and Usury One and the Same?
This argument is obviously foolish. There is nothing comparable between interest and trade. There is equity in business transactions because there is a mutual agreement between the two parties and both stand to gain or lose. In trading, a seller sells an article to the buyer at a price mutually acceptable to both, and the matter ends there. But taking interest is a clearcut case of exploitation. A person with surplus money, which he does not need, lends it to someone who is in dire need. The needy person agrees to pay interest which he can ill afford; not because it is acceptable to him but because of his compelling situation.
Interest and Inequality of Classes in Society
Undoubtedly, usury is an unjust and oppressive evil. It is against human nature and human dignity. It increases the riches of the wealthy and drives the impoverished to further depravation.
Understandably, the exploited poor begin to hate the rich. The pent-up hatred then finds an outlet in the form of violence and bloody revolutions.
In the book "Islam and World Peace" it is written, "Islam says that earning should be only in return of efforts and work. because capital itself cannot do any work and make any effort. Hence the wealth of the rich man should not be increased by taking usury."
Increasing wealth by usury is the easiest form of making money but Islam forbids it. Wealth cannot be accumulated by forcing the helpless poor into further destitution; and usury does just that, causing economic imbalance and trampling upon human rights, equity and justice. Maulana Sayed Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan has written a comprehensive and interesting book on usury that describes its evil effects and the arguments are supported by statistics.
The needy person ends up returning not only the amount loaned to him but far in excess of it. The excess can even amount to more than the principal amount if the repayment is delayed. Taking interest imposes an excruciating financial burden on one who is already needy and it is nothing short of blackmail. Needy people should be given loans without interest. This promotes a feeling of friendship, co-operation and charity.
Interest for Goodly Loans
To give a loan on interest not only destroys the economic balance in the society, it also inflames the feelings of hatred, enmity and selfishness.
The One Who Indulges in Usury is Deprived of Goodness
There are too many disadvantages of taking interest. The earnings of one who takes interest, loses 'Barakat' (abundance and prosperity). Whereas the earnings of hard labour have much 'Barakat'.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says in one of his traditions:
"Worship consists of seventy parts. The most important is lawful earnings."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also says:
"The truthful trader shall be counted among the prophets on the Day of Judgement. His face would glow like a full moon."
The Usurer Does Not Place Trust in Allah
Another misfortune of the usurer is that he loses trust in Allah. He does not pray to Allah to give him 'Barakat'. All his hopes are pinned upon the interest that he collects from his debtors and this is polytheism as discussed in the section on 'Shirk'.
Another point to be noted is that in normal business there is a possibility of both gain and loss. So the businessman not only puts in sincere efforts but prays to Allah for success and profit in his endeavour. An usurer has no fear of loss and feels no intuitive need to pray to Allah for his 'Rizq'. He is thus deprived of an important facet of religion.
The Reward of Giving a Loan is More than that of Sadaqah
One who takes interest is deprived of the rewards that are prescribed for giving a goodly loan. If there are ten merits in giving Sadaqah, the interest-free loan has eighteen merits. An interest-free loan is therefore more rewarding than Sadaqah in the way of Allah. A person who gives respite to his debtors and does not take interest is given a reward that is equivalent to charity of the said amount every day for the number of days that he extends. It is evident that the usurer does not qualify for such rewards. In fact he is afflicted with miserliness and greed, which only increase day by day. Surely the result of miserliness and greed is Hell.
The Fate of the Usurer
We have already seen from the verses of the Holy Quran, the sayings of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and of our Imams (a.s.) that the punishment for usury in more severe than that of other sins. We have also discussed the reasons for this. Islam classifies usury as the greatest of the Greater Sins and its punishment is the severest of all punishments. If the usurer does not repent for his acts, his end will be with the disbelievers and those whose eternal abode is Hell. The usurer shall never be released from Hell.
"To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, than he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah, and whoever returns (to it) these are the inmates of the fire, they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
However there are certain ways to compensate for this sin and pray for forgiveness. Certain sinful acts are forgiven by just repenting sincerely. If a Polytheist repents for his sins and becomes a Muslim, a great sin like 'Shirk' is forgiven. He does not have to do anything more than that. But there are some sins that require compensation in addition to sincere repentance i.e. like the one who has Qaza prayers and fasts. Along with repentance he must perform all the prayers and observe all the fasts due on him. Similarly in the case of interest, the penitent should give back the amount that he has taken as interest from his debtors.
No Barakat in Interest
The above Quranic Ayat continues:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
Charity spreads peace, promotes beneficence and love in society, whereas usury destroys peace and hardens the hearts of the people.
When usury spreads its roots in society, people have no hesitation in usurping each other's rights. They are only driven by a feeling of enmity, hatred and a passion of revenge. A society devoid of harmony and co-operation cannot progress, it destroys itself with its own corruption. Charity and Sadaqah on the other hand promote feelings of friendship, love and brotherhood. An atmosphere of peace and prosperity prevails which inspires people to further good deeds.
War With Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
The Noble Quran says,
"O You who believe! Be careful of (your duty) to Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers. But if you do (it) not, then be appraised of war from Allah and His Apostle..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:278-279)
The proof of one's belief is in obedience of Divine orders. The same verse continues,
"...And if you repent, then you shall have your capital, neither shall you make (the debtors) suffer loss, nor shall you be made to suffer loss."
(Surah Baqarah 2:279)
One who does not obey this command must be prepared for war with Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
Tafsir Minhajus Sadeqeen gives an explanation of this verse. It could mean that the severity of the sin of usury is such that if in this world a usurer were to come face to face with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Prophet's (s.a.w.s.) sword would be against him and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would be prepared to fight him. In the Hereafter the fire of Hell shall keep him in torment by the order of Allah. The usurer must be fought till he submits to the Divine orders and refrains from taking usury. Traditional reports state that after the revelation of this verse, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) informed the Commissioner of Makkah that if the tribe of Bani Mughaira does not desist from taking usury, they must be fought against.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also said inter alia in a sermon at Makkah: "Know that the usury which has been accumulated in the period of ignorance is now condoned completely. First of all I condone the interest (that is upon your neck) of (my uncle) Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib."
Traditions Denouncing Interest
It is reported from Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Taking a Dirham as interest is worse in the eyes of Allah than doing illegal intercourse with Mehram women."
Imam Ali (a.s.) says:
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has cursed one who accepts interest, one who pays interest, one who buys interest, one who sells interest, one who writes the contract of interest and one who is the witness of this transaction."
Ibne Baqeer relates that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was informed about the person who took interest and considered it as permissible as mother's milk. Imam (a.s.) said:
"If Allah gives me power over this man, I would strike off his head."
It is clear that to consider interest Haraam is an article of faith. One who disregards this and says that interest is not Haraam becomes an apostate. The Imam (a.s.) can also have him killed.
Interest is Denounced in the Holy Quran
Samaa says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as to why Allah has mentioned the illegality of usury at various places. Imam (a.s.) replied:
"So that people may not forgo acts of charity (like giving interest-free loans)."
Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
"The worst transaction is that which involves interest."
The Sinner is Deprived of Religious Faith
Zurarah says that I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) concerning the Quranic verse:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
"But I see that wealth of usurers goes on increasing?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"What could be a greater loss? That in return of a Dirham of interest he loses his faith. And if he repents of his deeds in the world all his wrongfully earned wealth comes to an end and he becomes a destitute."
The Belly of the Usurer Shall Be Filled With Fire
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"One who takes interest, his belly shall be filled with an equal quantity of fire by Allah. If he has earned more from the interest money, Allah will not accept any of his deeds. And till even a grain of interest remains with him, Allah and his angels will continue to curse this man."
Punishment of Usurers in the Barzakh
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) I saw some people trying to stand up but did not succeed because of their huge bellies, I asked, O Jibraeel, who are these people?"
Jibraeel replied, "They are those who have taken usury. Now they can only stand up like those who have been possessed by the Devils."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) continues,
"Then I saw them herded upon the path of the followers of Firon. Seeing the extreme heat of the fire they exclaimed. O God! Then when will be Qiyamat?" (It is clear that the fire mentioned in the tradition is of the punishment of Barzakh).
Usurers Under the Feet of Firon
In another tradition it is said that when these people saw the followers of Firon they tried to get up and run away. But due to overlarge bellies they could not rise up and consequently the followers of Firon trampled them under their feet and moved on.
It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"When adultery and interest becomes common in a town the angels are given permission to destroy its inhabitants."
Another Prophetic tradition in the same vein says:
"When the people of my Ummat start taking interest, tremors and earthquakes will be frequent."
Usury is Worse Than Adultery
The Noble Messenger of Allah says:
"If a man commits adultery with his mother in the Holy Kaaba this act shall be seventy times lighter than the act of usury."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"In the eyes of Allah, taking one Dirham of interest is worse than thirty incestuous acts."
A previous tradition describes this sin to be seventy times more than adultery. There is one more report where taking a Dirham is equated with twenty such acts.
Even in today's world, the scourge of interest has spread to such a magnitude that economies are on the verge of collapse. Some economists say that interest is necessary for development. If this had been true then Islam would not have prohibited it. At the present time there are two schools of economics whose ideology is not based on interest. One is Communism and the other Islam. Whereas the foundation of imperialist economy is based upon interest. Even the Communist and the Islamic schools of economies differ greatly.
Unlike the Communists, Islamic government has never felt the compulsion to accept interest as inevitable, in order to fit the logistics of economy. And yet, Islamic economy is not known to have weakened because it does away with interest.
Yes, it is a necessity for the few selfish and greedy people who wish to add to their already enormous wealth, by increasing the miseries of the poor and the destitute. Their aim is to enslave the deprived people. We are well aware of the logic of these hoarders.
Loan On Interest
A loan on interest is one whereby a person lends something with the precondition that it would be returned with fixed increment at a fixed time. The loan given may be money or any other article, say, one loans five Mounds of rice and expects to get back six Mounds. The increment demanded may be in the form of cash or kind, labour or even a favour.
For example, one may lend money with the condition that the borrower will return the money and also carry out some household chores for him. Or a lender may lend a sum of money for a year and in return stay in the house of the borrower for a year without paying any rent. Or a person may give gold as a loan and expect the borrower to make some jewellery free of cost. Whatever is taken in excess of what was given, irrespective of its form, is interest and is Haraam. Also it does not matter whether such conditions for giving loan were stated in the beginning or decided later. It is Haraam in any case.
Some Important Points
1) A transaction involving interest is Haraam. Charging interest is Haraam and paying interest is Haraam too. So if the borrower takes money on interest and uses it and earns some profit, the actual owner of the profit is the lender. For example, if he borrows some wheat and plants a crop, the crop that grows from this, rightfully belongs to the lender. However, if the lender has agreed that his loan can be utilised in such a manner, then the profit from it is the right of the borrower.
2) If one gives an amount to a trader with the understanding that he can return a lesser amount, it is permitted. For example, he gives a thousand Tumans to a trader in Shiraz and agrees to take nine hundred and ninety Tumans in Tehran, he is allowed to do so. This type of transaction is knows as 'Sarf-e-Baraat', since there is no involvement of interest.
3) If at the time of disbursement of the loan there had been no mention of interest and the loanee wishes to return the loan amount with an increase out of his own wish, it is not Haraam. In fact it is Mustahab. It is also Mustahab to repay the loan, if possible, before its due-date or before the lender demands it. It is also Mustahab for the debtor that when repaying the loan he should add something to it with the intention of giving it as a gift to the creditor. But the intention must be of 'gift'. It must not even remotely be thought of as interest. Similarly, it is Mustahab for the creditor to accept whatever extra is given to him as a gift, not think of it as an interest, and accept it as a goodwill.
Transaction Involving Interest
If any of the following conditions are present in a transaction, it becomes a transaction of interest, and is Haraam:
1) Whatever is taken and whatever is given back are of the same material but the quantities are unequal. Or if the quantities are equal, there is disparity in quality etc.
2) When only one standard of measure and weight is employed, the amount taken and given back is of unequal measure or weight. However, at the time of borrowing if the measure of weight is kilogram but while returning it, it is Seer or Pound it is allowed. In the same way whatever was taken by the unit of measurement as metre and returned by the units of measurement as foot or yard, is valid too.
In the same way it is Haraam for a person to lend one Mound of wheat for a month and in return borrow one mound of wheat for two months from the same person. Even though the quantity is the same, the transaction is Haraam because time is also a significant factor.
Three Important Points
1) In the matter of interest, wheat and barley are considered equivalent. Then if one gives a Mound of wheat and takes one and-a-half Mound of barley, it is interest, and thus Haraam.
Similarly, whatever constitutes the same basic material is regarded as equivalent. As an analogy one may think of the roots, branches and leaves of a tree as equivalent. For example, milk and curd are equivalent, grape-vinegar and grapes are equivalent, sugar and sugarcane are equivalent too. All these have to be loaned and given back in equal quantity or it will constitute interest and will be Haraam.
2) If a person gives one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and takes back one and-a-half Mound of wheat, it does not constitute interest and is not Haraam. In this transaction one Mound of wheat shall be considered in lieu one Mound of wheat that is returned. And the remaining half a mound of wheat shall be in the lieu of the handkerchief. It is also possible that a person may give one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and take back one Mound of wheat and some other article, for example, soap. In this way too he has not committed usury.
3) If a person first sells one Mound of his wheat for two Tumans and later purchases one and a half Mound of wheat for two Tumans, it is permitted. Since both these transactions are separate. It does not constitute usury.
It may be possible that Zaid sells a Mound of wheat to Khalid, and Khalid gives half a Mound of his wheat to Zaid as a gift. This is also permitted.
When taking interest is permitted
There are three types of people between whom the taking and giving of interest is allowed:
(1) Father and son: The father and son can enter into a transaction of interest. But a transaction of interest between mother and son is Haraam.
(2) Husband and wife: The husband and wife can charge interest from each other. For example one of them gives a hundred rupees and demand one hundred and fifty rupees in return. It is permitted.
(3) The Kafir who is not staying in an Islamic country: A Muslim can take back more but he cannot give him more. As far as the Zimmi Kafir (one who is staying in an Islamic country) is concerned it is Haraam to enter into a transaction of interest with him. Taking and giving of interest both are Haraam in this case.
Tenth Greater Sin Fornication
Tenth Greater Sin
The tenth Greater sin is adultery (zina) according to the traditions of Masoomen (a.s.). Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have all described it as a Greater Sin.
In the following ayat the Almighty says:
"And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication and he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the day of resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement."
(Surah Furqan 25:68-69)
The meaning of asaam (sin) and ghayyi (sexual desires)
The book Minhaaj us-Sadeqeen states that aasaam (sin) in this ayat denotes a valley of Hell. Fornicators shall be punished in this valley. It is also said that asaam means the secretions of blood and puss from the private parts of the people of Hell. It is a black puss.
Another ayat says:
"But there came after them an evil generation, who neglected prayers and followed the sexual desires, so they will meet perdition."
(Surah Maryam 19:59)
Some traditions record that the asaam of the previous verse and ghayyi (sexual desire) of this verse are two wells in Hell. These two wells are so terrible and deep that if a stone is dropped into one of them, it will take seventy years to reach the bottom.
It is mentioned in Surah Bani Israel:
"And go not nigh to Fornication, surely it is an indecency and an evil way."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:32)
It is an evil due to which paternity is not established. It leads to corruption and mischief. The child that is born is bereft of inheritance. The child that is born and its father do not have rights upon each other like the legal father and son.
An Evil Way to Fulfill the Sexual Urge
In the book, Balahae-e-Ijtemai the above ayat is explained as follows:
"One must not even go near fornication for it is a lowly act. It is a very dirty action and leads one astray."
The seriousness of this sin as mentioned in the Quran is evident from this ayat;
"... It is an indecency and an evil way." These words clarify the Islamic point of view, which opposes all types of indecencies and carnal desires. It shows that adultery is an indecent act and an evil way of satisfying the sexual urge. The Almighty Allah has created the sexual urge for continuation of the human race. He has also created a feeling of love and physical attraction between man and woman. If this sexual urge is satisfied in a disciplined manner, the human race is assured of peace and prosperity. It must be remembered that fornication contaminates the progeny.
But when this evil becomes prevalent in a society just to satisfy the basic instincts, it leads to destruction and despair.
Also, as a result of an immoral life countless people and their children suffer from debilating, deforming and incurable diseases. Huge sums of money are drained from the budget to take care of victims and to find a cure for such diseases. Innumerable illegitimate children are born ill and undernourished; destitutes without a home and with no one to care or be concerned for them.
Page number 131 of the same book describes the evil that has spread due to sexual crimes and illicit relationships. Such destruction and evil does not have an equivalent in the 20th century.
In the highly competitive world of today, man strives to use all his assets to optimal capacity. His efforts are fully concentrated in deriving the maximum efficiency from all his inputs so that he can achieve unprecedented progress in minimum time. So it is pity to see him make a wasteland of his most precious possessions, his natural instincts and desires gifted to him by Allah for his happiness and prosperity.
Like all branches of science, nuclear and medical science has also made a progress. Vast sums of money are poured into research for discovering new drugs that may save mankind from the scourge of these diseases. Yet, the number of people suffering from debilitating maladies resulting from immoral conduct are ever on the increase. In every country, countless such people have to be hospitalised over extended period of time. They wreck their own lives and are also a burden to society.
Every country makes ambitious plans to achieve progress and prosperity. But all these development plans come to naught as millions of illicit children are born, posing a challenge to the economy of even the most affluent countries. For the poor undeveloped countries the results are disastrous. Not only are the uncared children a drain on the country's economy, they even pose a law and order problem as they grow up uneducated in a condition of abject poverty and crime. A shocking survey of statistics reveals the enormity with which sexual crime has gripped the world.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica a majority of Americans contract venereal diseases. America has hundreds of special hospitals for patients with venereal diseases.
The book "Qawaaneene Jinsi" says that every year thirty-four thousand new born children die of hereditary diseases. The deaths caused by these diseases are more than the deaths due to any other cause (except tuberculosis).
The 'Kahyan Daily' (no.5356) has mentioned,
"Dr. Maulin Norjoe who practices in North London, writes in his article that every year 50000 abortions of illicit children are carried out in London. One child out of every twenty newborns is illegitimate."
The daily 'Ittelat'(no.1414) writes that in 1957 America had illegitimate children numbering 201700. There has been a five fold increase in the next twenty years. This year, unmarried pregnant women numbered 24000. It is astonishing and pathetic that a majority of them are less than eighteen years of age. In Paris, of the total of 43515 new born children, 4145 are illegitimate. In the Soviet Union, every year 17000 illegitimate children are born.
The Evil Effects of Adultery in this World and the Hereafter
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Fornication has six types of effects. Three are for this world and three for the Hereafter. The three evils which become evident in this world are:
1) The face of the adulterer loses countenance.
2) He falls into depravity and destitution.
3) His death draws near.
And the three punishments for Hereafter are:
(1) He is liable for Divine anger.
(2) His reckoning is severe.
(3) He abides forever in Hell."
Fornicator in the Barzakh
The fifth Imam (a.s.) has also said,
"Whoever commits Fornication with a Muslim, Jew, Christian or Magian woman, whether she is a slave or a free woman; and dies without repenting of his sin, then the Almighty Allah opens three hundred doors of punishment in his grave. From each door many snakes, scorpions and pythons emerge from the fire and burn and torment him till the Day of Qiyamat."
Fornicator on the Day of Judgement
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) describes the fornicator in detail and says that when he would be raised from his grave on the day of judgement he shall be in a horrible state.
The Imam says,
"When a fornicator will rise from his grave the stink of his body shall hurt the people. The people will know what deeds he had committed in the world. Till the Almighty Allah would order him to be thrown into the fire."
Then Imam Baqir (a.s.) continues,
"Know that Allah has prohibited Himself the Haraam things. He has also prescribed the rules and regulations of life. No one is more modest than Allah. It is His modesty that He has prohibited Fornication."
The stench of the Fornicator will be a nuisance for the people on the Day of Judgement
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says:
"On the day of Qiyamat a bad smell shall be released by the order of Allah. And all the people will become restless because of it. So much so that it would be difficult to breathe. Then a caller will proclaim loudly, 'O people of Mahshar! Do you know what this stench is?'
They would reply, "We do not know! However this stink is causing great discomfort", then Imam (a.s.) continued,
"It is the bad smell from the sexual organs of the fornicators who died without repenting for their sins. O people, Allah curses these people, you too invoke curse upon them." Then there will be not a single person who would not say, 'O Allah send your curse (anger) upon these fornicators'
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"After me when Fornication will increase, sudden deaths will also increase."
He also said:
"Fornication causes depravity and destitution, and because of it, populated places become deserted."
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Allah has made adultery Haraam because it causes many evil things. Murder of innocent, lack of lineage and paternity, lack of training of children and lack of proof of inheritance."
Fornication With Pure Women
The punishment for illegal sexual act with a woman is hundred lashes. The penalty of illicit sexual intercourse between a married woman and married man is stoning to death.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"There are three types of people with whom Allah will not even speak on the day of Qiyamat. There is a terrible punishment for them. One of these three group will be of the women who inspite of having husbands commit adultery with others."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Whoever commits Fornication with a married woman, both of their sexual organs will give out such a stink that it would be felt even at the distance of five hundred years. This stench will hurt the people of Hell. And such fornicators will be subjected to the most severe punishment."
Islam Views the Problem from Every Angle
The book "Burhan-e-Quran" examines the punishment for adultery as prescribed in Islam keeping in mind the factors of human desires and sexual feeling, Islam has also enunciated the easiest ways of satisfying sexual desires and fulfilling sensual feelings. It has ordered its followers to marry at the beginning of puberty. It is the most recommended way.
The book also describes the punishment prescribed in Islam for adultery. It also discusses the way of life recommended by Islam which; if followed strictly; would minimise or even eradicate the practice of illicit relationships.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Marriage is my practice. One who forsakes this practice of mine is not from me."
The rules and regulations of marriage in Islam are simple so that there are no encumbrances in finalising a marriage. An Islamic government is bound to provide financial support to the unmarried people who are unable to marry because of poverty. In this way, youthful passions and desires are contained and illicit relationships are minimised. In order to eradicate this evil, Islam directs us to fulfill a social as well as a spiritual code of conduct. At the social level it is obligatory for those more fortunate amongst us to fulfill the needs of the less privileged. The wealthy amongst us are duty bound to take care of the financial needs of the poor. It is likewise obligatory to make a sustained and dedicated effort to educate the people for both social welfare and spiritual upliftment. Islam expects every individual to help the members of the community in whichever manner he can. The philosophy of Islam, if adhered to, can ensure the removal of poverty and ignorance which in turn ensures the removal of envies, perversion and illicit and illegal affairs associated with these. With an early marriage, the basic material needs of man are taken care of and an individual is well equipped to resist getting involved in degrading acts like adultery.
Self-control is further strenthened by practicing the laws of Islam which are encoded at the spiritual level. Islam has defined some acts of worship as obligatory. Our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) have taught us and guided us to innumerable recommended acts of worship like mustahab fasts, Mustahab prayers and Etekaf. Every prayer essentially refines a person's character and raises him to greater heights of nobility. By earnestly keeping up prayers and fasts, an individual can strengthen his inner resources and develop his spiritualism. Such an individual will have the power to exercise control over his passions and natural instincts and will not stoop to commit adultery which is declared as a Greater sin by his religion.
Islam prescribes very strict and severe laws of punishment for the wrong doers. This is necessary. It is only the severity of a law that compels average individuals to abide by it. But, however severe the punishments prescribed in Islam may be, they are always tempered by Allah's Mercy and Compassion. Hadd (punishment) for adultery can only be executed if there are four just witnesses who have seen the sin being committed with their own eyes. Obviously the worldly punishment can be given only to those who publicly and shamelessly behave like beasts. It is truly amazing that even for such loathsome behaviour, Islam orders leniency in punishment. For example, only a married person who commits adultery is to be stoned to death. The punishment for an unmarried person is a hundred lashes.
The present day youth is caught in the mire of economic and moral decline. They are mentally disturbed and unstable. They believe it is advantageous to avoid the bonds and responsibilities of marriage and satisfy their natural needs with illicit relationships.
Undoubtedly, these problems have arisen because we do not implicitly practice the code of conduct as laid down by Shariat and we do not fully implement the rules and regulations as defined in Islam. Had there been an Islamic government, it would have endeavored to eradicate this immorality from the society by providing the basic needs to the poor and facilities for an early marriage.
An Islamic government would strictly ban pornography, bars, night clubs etc., all of which arouse sexual desires in people and lure them to indecencies and indiscriminations. Islam prohibits all activities that excite passions and promote shameful and degrading behaviour.
The strict laws of punishment in Islam should not lead us to think that Islam only wishes to punish the wrong doers. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evil. In fact, Islam takes a very compassionate view of sinners. On the one hand, the stern orders of punishment are strictly regulated so no injustice is done in carrying them out. On the other hand, Islam outlines a code of social obligation that creates an atmosphere of joy and dignity for all. No one in an Islamic society would be compelled by helplessness and desperation into bad conduct. It is a pity and our misfortune that we fail to implement fully our social obligations.
Islam has not ignored the punishment for the wrong-doers. Punishment is prescribed for sins in order that law and order are maintained in the society. Hadd (punishment) for adultery is prescribed only when a person performs this act shamelessly and openly, in the presence of four just witnesses. He defiles the chastity of some women and satisfies his beastly desires in the worst manner. Islam orders the punishment only when four just witnesses state that they have witnessed the actual act with their own eyes. Islam punishes the fornicator when he plays with the honour of the society. It is surprising that even in this case, Islam has been lenient with the wrong doers to a great extent. If the adulterer is unmarried a hundred lashes is his punishment. Stoning to death is only for that sinner who has a legal wife and indulges in this serious crime only to give vent to his lewdness.
It is necessary to mention this remarkable fact. In today's world, the youth is having such a state of mind that due to the economics and morals of the society they try to escape from the bonds of marriage and are attracted towards sexual perversions.
It is true that our youth is involved in economic difficulties and moral problems. But what is the root of this problems? A simple answer to this is that Islamic rules and regulations are not being followed and are not being put into practice. If the Islamic laws are fully implemented we would remain safe from immorality. If there had been an Islamic government it would have endeavoured to eradicate the lewdness and immorality from society. It would have provided the means of an early marriage. It would have also endeavoured to provide the basic necessities to the common people. It would save its youth, who are its future, from falling into the abyss of destruction.
If the Islamic government is in power, such things like shameful films, pornographic magazines, bars and night clubs would not have any existence because these things arouse the sexual desires. The Islamic law prohibits all such activities that promote sins and evils. In Islamic society, the youth is not compelled to remain celibate due to such created problems. Rather, such an atmosphere and society is created wherein all the people spend their life with chastity and dignity. Islam is not only for punishing the people. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evils.
For this very reason, Islamic law first takes into consideration the condition and helplessness of the fornicator, and only then does it prescribe the punishment. The fornicators are divided into seven groups and different penalties are fixed for them.
1) Stoning to death.
2) Stoning and lashes - both.
3) A hundred lashes and exile from the city after shaving the head.
4) Fifty lashes.
5) Seventy five lashes.
6) "Zighas"- it means picking up the lash many times to hit once.
7) The penalty of Fornication and fine - both.
Here, we shall describe the legal rulings, according to jurisprudence and traditions, for the information of our respected readers.
1) In order to establish the crime of adultery, four just male witnesses are required or three just male and two just female witnesses or two just male and four just female witnesses. If two just male witnesses and four just female witnesses state that they have witnessed the act, and if the sinner or the fornicator does not have a legal wife, or the fornicator woman does not have a legal husband, than they are not stoned to death. They are only given a hundred lashes each.
2) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at one and the same place.
3) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at the same time.
4) All the witnesses must testify in the same sitting.
5) If four just people quote the testimony of four just witnesses it is not sufficient.
6) If four just witnesses testify that a certain woman has committed fornication, their testimony shall not be accepted if they are not familiar with this woman since they do not know her and it could be that she is the legal wife of that man.
7) If three of the four witnesses testify and the fourth one refrains from testifying, or if his testimony differs from the previous three witnesses, the three witnesses who have testified shall be punished for 'qazaf' (defaming a chaste man or woman of adultery).
8) If the fornicator confesses his crime thrice, but refrains from the fourth confession, he cannot be punished. For a penalty to be lawful, it is necessary to confess four times.
9) He must make four confessions in four different sittings. He cannot be penalised if he makes four confessions in one sitting.
10) It is not permitted for the Judge to goad the accused to confess. He must also not be prompted to complete sentences (that is, words must not be put into his mouth). The Judge must try to maintain purity, chastity and dignity among the common people and must try his utmost that the crime of adultery is not proved. The Judge must try to give such suggestions to the accused that he may be able to save himself from the penalty by falling into doubts and uncertainties. It is also the duty of the Judge to encourage the accused to plead innocence.
11) When a married man confesses of adultery four times but later pleads innocence, the penalty of stoning will not be imposed upon him. His punishment shall be reduced.
12) A new convert to Islam who is unaware of the punishment shall not be punished.
13) If the adulterer is unmarried and he is suffering from some illness, the jurist is authorised to beat him with a broom of twigs or a branch of the date palm. He should consider these as lashes. He could also beat him with a branch or broom and consider each of its twig equivalent to one lash.
14) The lashing should be so controlled that the flesh of the body is not affected. The accused can only be punished when he has committed the crime willingly. (If someone is forced to commit fornication, penalty cannot be imposed upon them ).
15) If a man mistakes a woman to be his legal wife and has sexual intercourse with her, then he cannot not be punished.This is thus the detailed analysis of the laws prescribed by the all Beneficent and the all Merciful Allah, who knows His creatures very well. He has prescribed such regulated punishments for a serious sin like fornication. Now we shall quote a tradition that proves the extent to which the saints of Allah strived to protect the dignity of the people. How much precaution they took in passing a decree of fornication.
In the time of the rule of Umar a woman came to him and confessed of adultery. She also said, "Please impose the penalty of fornication upon me."
When Umar heard this, he ordered that the penalty of fornication be executed upon this woman. Ali (a.s.) happened to be there and was surprised at this. He said, "Umar, inquire from this woman the conditions when she had committed fornication."
The woman explained, "I was extremely thirsty in the desert. When I went far in search of water, I sighted a black tent which belonged to an Arab. I approached him and asked for water. But he refused to give me any water without my having adultery with him. I did not agree to his devilish desires and ran away into the desert. My eyes became sunken and I felt as if each of my bones were breaking. I returned to this man and in exchange of a drink of water I gave my body to him."
Ali (a.s.) said,
"It is this compulsion which is mentioned in the ayat,
'...But whoever is compelled by hunger, in inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving Merciful,'
(Surah Maidah 5:3).
This woman is not at all guilty of the crime."
Then Imam (a.s.) ordered for her release and she was released.
(Burhan - e - Quran)
Adultery is the root of degradation of society in the world and eternal punishment in the hereafter. Islam has therefore prescribed some obligatory rules for our protection. Allah, in His unsurpassed wisdom made these rules incumbent upon us. If these rules are obeyed, the Muslims can protect themselves from such a serious sin.
1.The Order for Hijab in the Quran
The Holy Quran has ordered women to cover themselves in some situations.
"And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appear thereof. And let them wear their head coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments..."
(Surah Nur 24:31)
It is also mentioned in Surah Ahzab,
"O Prophet! Say to your wives and daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over garments, this will be more proper, that they may be known and thus they will not give trouble. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Ahzab 49:59)
In the same chapter, Allah says:
"O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other of the women, if you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he whose heart has a disease yearn and speak a good word."
(Surah Ahzab 49:32)
Another verse states,
"And when you ask them (the wives of the Prophet) any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain, this is purer for your hearts and (for) their hearts."
(Surah Ahzab 49:53)
In the above verses, the Muslim woman is ordered to veil herself. She must not come before namehram without Hijab. She should dress in such a manner that strange men do not get an opportunity to glance at those parts of her body which arouse passion; and thus make her an object of desire. It is the responsibility of a woman to assume such poise and behaviour that she does not excite a man's passions. Even a glance of lust can infatuate a man and a seemingly harmless encounter eventually lead to mischief and corruption in society, destroying entire families. In Iran, during the rule of the Shah when the law of Hijab had been revoked, the cases of fornication increased sharply. Every day many cases related to sexual crimes were heard in the courts of law. Every month many married mothers used to forsake their homes to enter into a perverse life of illicit sex. Five thousand such parents established a new township outside the city of Tehran. The condition steadily deteriorated and came to a stage that every day approximately seven infants were found abandoned in the streets of Tehran, as reported by the commissioner. It is obvious that illicit children born as a result of fornication, whose parentage is not established, cannot create a position for themselves and are a burden to society. Due to the absence of Hijab, adultery and fornication became common and thousands of chaste women become immoral. One of the highly effective ways of protecting the society from the sin of adultery is that women wear hijab and ward off the evil glances of sensuous men.
2. Looking at the Namehram
The women are also ordered not to look at namehram men, and the men are similarly warned.
It is ordered in Surah Nur,
"Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is aware of what they do."
(Surah Nur 24:30)
The Poisonous Arrow of Satan
It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"An evil glance is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Many of such glances becomes a cause of prolonged jealousy."
Fornication of Organs
Both Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) have informed,
"There is no man who is not to some extent guilty of fornication. The fornication of the eyes is the evil glance, the kiss is the fornication of lips and touching a namehram woman is the fornication of hands."
It is also recorded that,
"Those who look at a namehram woman with an evil intention and fill their eyes with this sight (that is they look for a long time) Allah will, on the day of Qiyamat fill (pierce) their eyes with burning rods. They will continue in this way till Allah completes the hearing of the cases of all the people. Only after that will He order them to be thrown into Hell."
In the Chains of Fire with Iblees
That person who embraces a namehram woman will be tied with chains, together with Iblees on the day of Qiyamat. These chains shall be of fire and both of them shall be tossed into Hell together. The following are also the words of the tradition:
"One who glances at a woman, but instantly looks away at the sky or turns his gaze down; before he could remove his gaze fully, Allah marries him to a black-eyed houri and he creates such a freshness of belief in his heart that he is extremely delighted."
It is reported from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said;
"The wrath of Allah is very severe upon the married woman who apart from her husband sees another namehram man with a prolonged glance. When this woman does this, Allah the mighty invalidates all her good deeds and does not give her any rewards."
A few traditions mention that looking at a woman in hijab is also not allowed. Although it is a generally considered a makrooh act. Although there are numerous traditions that denounce glancing at namehrams these shall suffice for our purpose.
Alone in the Company of Namehram
It is Haraam for a stranger or namehram man to remain alone in company of a namehram woman when there is a risk of committing a sin, even though they may be busy in worship. In the same way women are ordered not to stay in company of namehram men when there is a chance of sinful act.
The Holy Prophet ( s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement does not remain in a place where (even) the sound of breathing of the namehram women is perceived."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"When the Prophet (a.s.) took allegiance from the women he told them to take an oath that they shall not sit alone in company of namehram men."
A lonely place means the one where there is no chance of anyone else entering or coming. Like a room, the door of which is locked from inside. Or a place not frequented by people.
Islam has prescribed severe penalty for a serious offence like adultery. Some of the aspects are given in the points mentioned below.
1) If a person commits an incestuous fornication he is to be killed according to Islamic laws.
2) If one sees that a stranger is fornicating with his wife, then he can kill both of them if he considers himself safe in doing so. But if he does not feel safe or if he does not wish to kill them, then apparently his wife is not prohibited for him.
3) If a Kafir commits adultery with a Muslim woman, he is to be killed according to shariat. Similarly, if a Muslim is punished thrice for fornication and is again proved guilty for the fourth time, he is to be executed.
4) If the person is sane, major, and legally married, and has a wife with whom he could establish sexual relation whenever he wants, and inspite of this he commits fornication with another sane, mature woman, he has to be stoned to death according to the Islamic law. And according to some Mujtahids, he must first be given a hundred lashes.
5) If a man does not fulfill the conditions listed in the above point, and if he commits fornication with a woman then his penalty according to Islamic law is a hundred lashes. Similarly, the married woman who willingly commits fornication should be stoned to death. If she is unmarried, then the penalty for her is a hundred lashes.
"As for the fornicatress and the fornicators, flog each other of them, (giving) a hundred lashes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day, and let a party of believers witness this chastisement." (Surah Nur 24:2)
After quoting the above ayat, the Journal of Anjuman-e-Tablighat-e-Islam writes:
Two points are derived from this. The first is that the punishment of the adulterer is carried out in the presence of other people. This will be a warning and a lesson to them. They will be terrified of committing the same sin after witnessing the horror of the punishment.
Another point, although its truth is not established, is that the punishment acts as a cure for the diseases of the sinner. It could be that due to the hundred lashes, the bodies of the sinners are so much heated that the germs that have entered their bodies are annihilated before they could multiply and spread.
One more point to be noted is that the germs of disease like syphilis etc. are not confined only to those who commit fornication. The spouse of the fornicator may also contract these diseases. Marriage with an adulterer is therefore detestable and is discouraged. If an adulterer man marries an adulteress woman, an innocent person is not victimised, but their deeds will definitely affect their progeny adversely. Their future generations will be contaminated with the evil of their sin and there will be some deformity or the other in their progeny. It is for this very fact that the religion of Islam says;
"The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believer."
(Surah Nur 24:3)
When Adultery is Proved According to Shariat
It must be clarified that the penalty for adultery could be imposed when the sin is proved from the viewpoint of Shariat. As it has been stated earlier, adultery is only proved if the conditions necessary for it are fulfilled. One of the conditions is that all the four just witnesses should testify unanimously as to the time and place of the crime. They must also know the woman by sight. Otherwise, there arises the possibility that the person who performed the sexual act with the woman may have been her husband.
Two Important Points
1) If a person commits adultery with an unmarried woman or the woman who is not in the iddah-e-rajai (the waiting period after divorce in which the husband can resume relation with her without another nikah), he can later marry her. But if she is married or in iddah-e-rajai, and he has had a sexual intercourse with her, he can never ever marry her legally. She is Haraam for this man forever. Even if the husband dies or divorces, she cannot legally marry the person who has committed adultery with her when she was married with another man.
2) If a man commits fornication with a woman, then her mother and daughter become Haraam for this man. That is, he can never ever marry them but they are not counted among his mehram women. Similarly, the father of the man with whom a woman has committed adultery becomes Haraam for her. There are minor differences of opinion among the Mujtahids in these problems. Any one who wishes to study further should refer to the knowledgeable jurists.
The opponents of Islam take objection to the law of Islam and support the sexual ethics of the West. They praise the sexual freedom of these countries and say that the Europeans and Americans are not hypocrites and express whatever feelings they have, freely and openly. They say that sexual desire is the legitimate desire of all human beings. If this desire is suppressed, it shall have a damaging effect upon man. These desires should therefore be satisfied so that man can rid himself of various limitations and inhibitions. He can then perform his day to day activities efficiently to achieve progress and development.
These words express the misguided thoughts of the enemies of Islam. They have forgotten the Second World War when France had surrendered to Germany in the very first attack. The German forces freely indulged in the satisfaction of their carnal passions. Even the French people began to pray for peace.
Freedom must also have a limit and must be disciplined. If the sexual drive is uncontrolled, man behaves worse than an animal. The defeat of France was also to an extent due to the promiscuous way of life prevalent in France. It is written in the book "Chun France Shikast Khund" (When France was defeated):
"When the German planes started to bomb the French cities, the Prime Minister 'Patrino' tried to contact the Central Headquarter of the air force so that additional bombers could be summoned for defence. He continously tried to phone the Central Headquarters, and each time he dialed the number of the Major on duty, each time the phone was attended by the beloved of the Major, Madam Dolly. Madam Dolly answered the phone and spoke foolishly to the Prime Minister in a demure way whereas there was bloodshed all around, and France was being converted into a sort of Hell.
As far as America is concerned, 38 % of the middle school female students become pregnant. As these girls reach high school, colleges and universities, the incidence of unwanted pregnancies reduce. These girls use their past experiences to avoid getting pregnant. American society is plagued with this evil, but its laws are unable to cope with the situation.
There is no doubt that the sexual urge is a natural instinct, but it must be controlled and disciplined. Islam does not expect the sexual urge to be suppressed, nor does it order anyone to forsake productive activities. On the contrary, Islam is against celibacy. However, Islam, as any other decent society, cannot allow for absolute freedom as seen in the animal kingdom. What Islam does is to lay down the golden rules for the satisfaction and fulfillment of natural desires and instincts such that neither the personal freedom of man is endangered nor is the peace of society disrupted.
There is no doubt that the West is far ahead in the field of science and technology and has progressed and prospered as a result of it. But their success is hollow. The excessive affluence has eroded human values and deluded them to search for happiness in immorality and perversity. Their culture deprives them of true happiness and comfort that comes with peace and stability of mind.
The women of these countries have also taken great strides. They work shoulder to shoulder with men in practically all walks of life. But many of them fail in what is their primary duty, as loyal wives and caring mothers. It is quite common to come across women having extra marital relations and neglecting their home and children. These children deprived of parental love and care in turn search for happiness by following the degraded examples set by their misguided parents and the vicious circle continues. The result is that couples just live together without being married and go their own way when they choose to. If there are marriages, they often end in divorce. The divorce rate in America today is 40 % and is on the increase. Women have come to occupy high positions in governmental and commercial organisations, but this does not solve the human problems facing these societies. It is a pity that these societies have no guidelines that will help them to realise that their well being lies in maintaining well-knit families where husband and wife care for each other, are loyal to each other and the children are secure and happy. This is what Islam aims to achieve for its followers. By upholding the laws of Islam our lives are automatically channelised into maintaining a healthy family life which provides for physical satisfaction, mental peace and spiritual upliftment, where the family members are a source of strength, solace and comfort to each other.
Eleventh Greater sin Sodomy
Eleventh Greater sin
The eleventh sin that is classified as a Greater sin is sodomy or homosexuality. This is verified from the sayings of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam ar-Reza (a.s.). In fact it is a sin greater than adultery. Its retribution and punishment are more severe than for adultery. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated:
"Penetrating the anal opening is a greater sin than penetrating the vagina. Certainly Allah destroyed a complete ummat (ummat of Hazrat Lut (a.s.) because they indulged in sodomy. Allah has not destroyed even one man for adultery".
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"A person who commits sodomy with a boy will acquire such a Janabat (impurity) that even all the water of this world cannot remove it. Allah will be wrathful at him and curse him. (That is He will take away His Mercy from him and will award Hell for him.) What a dreadful place it is! Then the Heavens shudder of it. And the person who allows another to mount him from behind to commit sodomy, then Allah puts him on the fringe of Hell (in extreme heat) and keeps him there till He completes the reckoning of all the people. Then He orders him to be put into Hell. One by one he is made to suffer all the punishments of Hell till he reaches the lowest stage. Then he never comes out from there."
Sodomy is Kufr (disbelief)
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has said:
"Sodomy is a Greater Sin and carries punishment when a man mounts upon another man but does not penetrate. If he penetrates, it is kufr".
It means that one who considers sodomy legal is a Kafir, because to consider sodomy illegal is one of the requirements of faith. And one who disbelieves in any of the requirements of faith becomes a Kafir. However if anyone commits this act knowing that it is Haraam is deserving of punishment which is similar to the one meted out to kuffar, and it is eternal.
Huzaifa ibn Mansur says:
"I enquired regarding sodomy which is a Greater Sin from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)". The Imam replied:
"To press the sexual organ between the thighs in an illegal way"
I asked, "Who is the person who commits sodomy".
Imam (a.s.) replied;
"One who has disbelieved in what Allah has revealed to his Messenger (the Holy Quran)."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was queried by Abu Basir regarding the verse:
"So when our decree came to pass, we turned them upside down and rained down upon them stones, of what has been decreed, one after another."
(Surah Hud 11:82)
Imam (a.s.) explained:
"There is no one who leaves this world while considering sodomy halaal, but that Allah hits him with one of the stones that had fallen on the people of Hazrat Lut (a.s.)."
It is reported in Wasaelush Shia that a person who believes sodomy to be Halaal and commits it several times and does not repent; at the time of his death Allah hits him with one of the stones that had rained upon the people of Lut (a.s.). His death is brought about by the impact of this stone, but people do not see it (the stone).
Punishment Upon the People of Lut (a.s.)
The Holy Quran has described three kinds of punishments that were meted out to the people of Lut (a.s.), one was a terrible scream and shriek, the second was the shower of stones that rained upon them, and the third was that the earth turned upside down. After mentioning the last calamity, it is said in Surah Hud:
"Marked (for punishment) with your Lord and it is not far off from the unjust."
(Surah Hud 11:83)
This verse is an indication that such type of punishments may even be inflicted upon those who commit similar acts (acts of homosexuality).
The Slave Who Killed His Master
In the time of Umar a slave killed his master. When this slave confessed to the crime Umar ordered him to be put to death. Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) questioned this slave,
"Why did you kill your owner?"
"He had forcibly committed sodomy with me," replied the slave.
Ali (a.s.) asked the heirs of the deceased, "Have you buried him?"
"Yes we have just come after burying him", they replied.
Ali (a.s.) advised Umar to have the slave held in custody for three days and told the heirs of the deceased to come back after three days.
A Homosexual Shall be Counted Among the People of Lut (a.s.)
Three days passed, then Ali (a.s.), Umar and some of the heirs of the murdered man went to the grave. Upon reaching there Ali (a.s.) asked, "Is this the grave of your man?" "Yes" they answered.
Ali (a.s.) ordered the grave to be dug out. Amazingly the dead body had disappeared from it. Ali (a.s.) said,
"Allaho Akbar! I have heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) saying that, 'Whosoever from my ummat commits the act of the ummat of Lut and dies before repenting for it shall not remain in the grave for more than three days. The earth will suck him inside and he shall reach the place of the dead of Lut. Where destiny annihilated them. Then that person will also be counted among them'."
Sodomy is an Indecency
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) has said;
"Refrain from adultery and sodomy, and this sodomy is worse than adultery. These two sins are the causes of seventy two ills of this life and the Hereafter."
The Quran has used the word 'indecency' for adultery in the way it has also used it for sodomy. It is said in Surah Araf:
"And (we sent) Lut when he said to his people: What! Do you commit an indecency which anyone in the world has not done before you?"
"Most surely you come to males in lust besides females. Nay you are a prodigal people".
(Surah Araf 7:80-81)
What could be more indecent than the act where man squanders away his sperms in a way prohibited by Allah instead of allowing them to reach the wombs of women to ensure the continuation of the human race.
Sodomy and homosexuality are denounced in Surah Hud, Surah Ankaboot, Surah Qamar, Surah Najm in addition to Surah Araf; so that the people are fully warned. Allah has strictly forbidden such a loathsome act.
A Lustful Glance on a Young Boy
To look upon a young boy with lust is Haraam, especially a boy who has not yet developed facial hair. The evil effects and the severe punishments for a lustful glance have already been described in the section on adultery. It is also related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said;
"Refrain from looking lustfully at the children of rich people and slaves, especially those who have yet no beard. Because the mischief that is possible by such glances is greater than mischief of glancing at young girls, who are in veil."
It is obligatory for a Muslim to control his glances and safeguard against such indecencies.
The Sensual Kiss and the Rein of Hell
It is Haraam to kiss a young man with passion. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he (s.a.w.s.) said;
"If a person kisses a young man with passion, on the Day of the Judgement Allah shall tie a rein of fire on his mouth."
Imam ar-Reza (a.s.) has remarked,
"When a person kisses a young man sensually, the angels of the sky, the angels of the earth, the angels of mercy, and the angels of wrath curse him. And Allah decrees for him a place in Hell. O, what a dreadful place it is!"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"Allah shall punish for a thousand years in Hell, the man who kisses a boy with passion."
If two just witnesses testify to have seen a man kissing a young man in a sensual way, the wrongdoer could be punished with thirty to ninety lashes as decided by the Qazi. This is the punishment according to Islamic law.
The traditions imply that those who perform such an act should also be punished like the adulterers, that is, a hundred lashes for each of them. However, if two women are involved the Qazi prescribes less than a hundred lashes for them.
Sleeping Together of Two People of the Same Sex
Some scholars remark that since the sleeping of two men under a single blanket without clothes is a punishable offence according to Shariat, it is also a Greater Sin.
It is therefore mustahab not to sleep together even with clothes on. Except for husband and wife, Islam prohibits any two persons who are able to distinguish right from wrong, to sleep close to each other or under a common blanket. The same prohibition applies to brothers and sisters.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated:
"Make separate bed for your children above ten years. Two brothers and two sisters and a brother and a sister should not be made to sleep on the same bed."
The Holy Prophet has thus advised us that brothers and sisters should not sleep very close to each other. If they cover themselves, they should have a separate blanket or sheet.
The Punishment of Sodomy
Since sodomy is a greater crime than adultery and its evils are worse, the punishment for sodomy is also more severe than that of adultery according to the Islamic law. Islam prescribes capital punishment for the active as well as the passive partner in the crime. If both are major and sane, both of them have to be killed. The active partner is beheaded with the sword or killed by stoning or burnt alive or thrown from a height with the hands and the legs tied. These are the ways prescribed for punishing the criminal, but it is at the discretion of the Judge to determine the method. Similarly, the method adopted for the death of the passive partner is also determined by the Qazi.
According to Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.), a person who has committed this sin must also be burnt after being killed.
As in the case of adultery, the guilt of sodomy is also proved in one of two ways. The first is that both the participants, or one of them confesses four times before a Judge. If he confesses less than four times the legal penalty cannot be issued. He is only warned and severely rebuked so that he may never repeat it. Some Mujtahids believe that the four confessions should be on four different occasions. It is also required that the accused be major, sane, free and independent. Even if he confesses four times, a minor person can only be reprimanded for the act so that he never does it again. The same applies for the slave and the insane person. Apart from this, if someone is forced into such a crime and is unable to avoid it, there is no penalty for him.
The second method of proving the crime of sodomy is that four just witnesses see it being committed with their own eyes and testify in consonance. If the witnesses are less than four, the testimony is not accepted and the penalty for sodomy is withheld. If less than four people have seen this act, they should not testify. If they do so, they shall themselves become liable for the penalty of "qazaf". This clause shall be elaborated later. If the guilty repents before the four witnesses testify, the penalty is not imposed and he is not killed. The confession or the testimony should be with regard to the penetration of the anus with the penis, only then the capital punishment is carried out. But if the two men cause ejaculation without penetrating the anus (by pressing the sexual organ between the thighs of another man or by rubbing with the buttocks), then the punishment is a hundred lashes for them.
Why is Sodomy Punishable With Death?
People, who have abandoned shame and decency so as to commit such a revolting and loathsome act of sexual perversion in the presence of other people, are like cancer for the society. If they are left alive, they will spread their shamelessness till it engulfs the entire society. This was the fate of the people of Lut (a.s.). First, Satan led one person to commit this indecency and later he invited others to the same evil. Finally, the crime reached such a gigantic proportion that among the people of Lut (a.s.), it was common to see a man mount upon another and perform sodomy right before the eyes of the onlookers. Women also had sexual relations among themselves. Allah cursed these people and destroyed them.
Homosexuality is such a hideous crime that if one does not repent and pray for forgiveness, he becomes like the one who has disbelieved in Allah. He becomes liable for eternal punishment like the Kafirs. Hence, there is no better way than to kill this person and burn the corpse.
We have already noted in the chapter on adultery that punishment in Islam for acts of indecency are severe but tempered with Allah's Mercy and Compassion. We have also discussed that Islam has formulated strict laws not just to punish the wrong doers but rather to act as a detriment for the negligent. Although capital punishment is prescribed for sodomy, it can only be administered after four just witnesses have testified to the sin being committed in their presence. The extreme degree of leniency in Islamic laws is apparent here. If an individual shows just enough decency as not to commit a filthy act in public and that too for fear of being put to death, Islam does not allow his fellow-beings to punish him. Further, if the sinner repents before the four witnesses have testified, he cannot be put to death. But if the testimony is complete, penalty cannot be reduced and the guilty has to be killed.
As far as confession of the crime is concerned, the same regulations hold as in the case of adultery. The guilty must confess four times. He must confess in clear unambiguous words and must not speak in an elusive way. The Judge must make sure that the person is sane. Also, that he is not joking and confessing to something he has not really done. All these stipulations and concessions are given to the guilty by the Almighty so that the sinner has an opportunity to save himself. If, finally the guilty is found deserving a death sentence, his death will be a lesson for others. The aim of Islam in designing these laws is not merely to punish the offenders but to reform society. Islam aims at creating a sound environment for us where we can get the best of the world and the hereafter.
A person who is guilty, he confesses and undergoes the penalty for it in this world, and thus he will have atoned for his sins and will not be subjected to the torture of the hereafter. Even so, it is better if he refrains from revealing his secrets and submits his case only before the Almighty. He should repent, weep and beg for forgiveness from Allah. Insha Allah, Allah will forgive him. However, a person should not be complacent after seeking forgiveness. While he is hopeful of Allah's Mercy, he should be in dread of Allah's retribution and must continue to implore Allah to forgive him. In this way, he will attain a degree of piety and emerge a far better human being than he ever was.
In the end we quote a tradition from Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.): "If anybody deserves to be stoned to death twice, it is the homosexual."
All the revealed religions are unanimous that sodomy must be dealt with strictly. Not only is the human race inflicted with spiritual degradation and physical illness and disabilities, it also runs the risk of extinction. The boy who is sexually assaulted, loses his manliness. Sodomy takes the society to the depths of depravity. It is therefore incumbent on men and women to marry and satisfy their sexual urge in a healthy manner, the way Nature has designed. This will ensure the continuity and the well-being of the human race.
Fire Did Not Burn the Repentant !
There is a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) in the book Al Kafi (Section on Penal Code), that:
One day Ali (a.s.) was sitting with his companions when a man approached and said "O Chief of the Believers, I have committed sodomy with a boy, please purify me (impose legal penalty upon me) Ali (a.s.) told him, "Go home, you may have had some misunderstanding."
The next day the man returned and repeated his confession and requested for penalty. Ali (a.s.) said,
"Go home, you may not be in your sense right now."
He went away only to return the third time and repeat his confession and again asked for punishment.
At last when he came for the fourth time, Ali (a.s.) said,
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has prescribed three methods of dealing with the situation, you may choose any one of the three deaths - by having the arms and feet tied and thrown from the cliff, being beheaded or being burnt alive."
He said, "O, Ali (a.s.) which is the worst of these methods?" Imam replied, "Burning alive." "Then I choose this death." said the man. By permission of Ali (a.s.), he stood and prayed two rakaat prayer and then said, "O Allah ! A sin was committed by me of which You are well aware. Then I had the fear of this sin, I came to the Successor of your Prophet and requested him to purify me. He gave me a choice of three deaths. I chose the most dreadful death. I pray to you to consider this penalty as the expiation of my sin and do not burn me in the fire of Hell which is ignited by you."
Then he got up weeping and jumped into the pit into which the fire had been lit. He sat in the fire and the fire engulfed him from all the sides. Ali (a.s.) began to weep, upon seeing this condition and the other companions were also in tears.
Ali (a.s.) said, "Arise, the one who has caused the angels of the earth and the sky to weep. Allah has certainly accepted your repentance. Get up but never approach the sin that you have committed."
It so happened that the man came out of the fire unscathed. The fire could not burn the one who repented.
It is commonly agreed by the Mujtahids that if a person confesses four times but repents before the execution of sentence, the Judge has the authority either to impose penalty or cancel it. The above report also indicates that the Imam (a.s.) did not pursue the sentence. However, the sentence cannot be cancelled after the testimony of four just witnesses.
The Mother, Sister and Daughter of the Sodomist
It must be known that if a man commits sodomy with a boy (that he penetrates his anus), the mother, sister and daughter of the boy becomes Haraam for this man forever. That is, this man could never lawfully marry the mother, sister or daughter of this boy.
Twelfth Greater Sin Qazaf
Twelfth Greater Sin
(To accuse a chaste man or woman of adultery or homosexuality)
The twelfth Greater Sin is Qazaf. Qazaf means to wrongfully accuse a chaste Muslim man or chaste Muslim woman of adultery or homosexuality. We have the authority of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim, Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.) that qazaf is a Greater sin. The Holy Quran also speaks of the punishment for this sin.
"Surely those who accuse chaste believing women, unaware (of the evils), are cursed in the world and the hereafter and they shall have a grievous chastisement. On the day when their tongue and their hands and their feet shall bear witness against them as to what they did."
(Surah Nur 24:23-24)
The above verses clarify that those who falsely accuse chaste men or women of adultery are cursed by Allah as long as they are alive, and in the hereafter they shall be deprived of His Divine Mercy. We should maintain our distance from such people on whom the wrath of Allah has descended and be very careful not to believe their false accusations. False accusers have to be penalised in this world according to the Islamic law. Once their testimony is proved false, they can never ever testify in a court of Islamic law.
Organs of the Inhabitant of Hell
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"The organs and the parts of the body of a true believer shall not testify against him. But they will testify against the one who, after all, has to burn in Hell."
The person who accuses anyone falsely of adultery and sodomy belongs to this category. Because his punishment is Hell-fire, his organs, according to the Holy Quran shall testify against him.
Penalty for Qazaf - Rejection of Testimony and its Invalidation
It is also mentioned in Surah Nur:
"And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving eighty lashes), and do not admit any evidence from them ever, and these it is that are the transgressors."
(Surah Nur 24:4)
Three commands are issued in this ayat regarding one who commits qazaf. The first is that he has to be punished with the Islamic penalty imposed upon him. The second is that his evidence is never ever to be accepted and the third is that such a person must always be considered as unreliable and a transgressor.
Islamic society which is geared to promote the dignity and welfare of its members cannot allow a false accuser to go unpunished. This falsehood dishonours an upright person, and a society which cannot uphold the honour of its members, cannot possibly give them peace and security.
(Condensed from Burhan-e-Quran)
The book 'Islam and World Peace' mentions that in order to curb frivolous propaganda, a slanderer who cannot furnish four witnesses, is given lashes. If three witnesses testify and the fourth witness is not available then the former three are also punished with eighty lashes each. However, if a husband accuses his wife of adultery but cannot support his accusation with witnesses, he cannot be lashed. This is to avoid domestic upheavals. In this case the husband is made to repeat four times by calling Allah as a witness that his wife has committed adultery. And the fifth time he has to say that if he is lying, the curse of Allah be upon him. His wife is also given a similar right that she can say four times, calling Allah as a witness that her husband is lying. And the fifth time she has to say that if her husband is telling the truth, then the curse and the wrath of Allah may be upon her. She can escape punishment in this way. This law is derived from the sixth and the seventh ayat of Surah Nur.
Whether it is true or false it must be known that it is Haraam to accuse anyone of adultery or homosexuality till he sees with his own eyes the penetration of the sexual organ. Even after being the eye witness of this he must not testify before a Qazi till three other just witnesses testify (he must himself be just (adil) too). As stated earlier, if the witnesses are less than four, their testimony is rejected. In this case, the witnesses are considered as transgressors instead of the alleged sodomist and the fornicator, and penalised with eighty lashes each.
Those Who Commits Qazaf are not Believers
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has informed;
"One who commits qazaf is removed from the ranks of the believers of Allah and considered as a transgressor. Transgressor is also the opposite of believer as Allah himself says,
'Is he then who is the believer like him who is the transgressor?'"
(Surah Sajdah 32:18)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has been reported to have said,
"The person who accuses falsely a chaste man or a chaste woman of indecency, Allah invalidates all his good deeds (and does not give him any reward) and on the Day of Judgement seventy thousand angels lash him from the front and behind and continue to do so till the order is passed for him to be put in Hell."
Penalty for Qazaf
"And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty lashes, and do not admit evidence from them ever."
(Surah Nur 24:4)
The above verse, numerous traditions and the rules promulgated by the Mujtahids indicate that every one of the false accusers of sodomy and fornication must be lashed eighty times (provided four just witnesses are not available simultaneously). However, the following conditions should be noted.
1) The sinner must be major and sane. A minor child or an insane person cannot be punished for false accusations. Also, the major and the sane person should have made the allegation after careful consideration and not under compulsion. No penalty can be imposed on an accuser if he has made a genuine mistake or if he has made the accusation in jest.
2) One who has been accused of adultery or sodomy must possess five characteristics. First of all, he must be a major. Secondly, he must be sane and not a madman. Thirdly, he must be free and not a slave. Fourthly, he must be a Muslim and not a Kafir. Lastly, he must apparently be chaste. A person who strongly objects to being blamed of adultery and fornication or is shocked and dismayed by such an accusation is taken to be a chaste person. So if the accused does not fulfill the above conditions or is notorious for being corrupt and indecent, the accuser is not penalised for qazaf.
3) The accusation should clearly mention adultery or sodomy. If an accuser is vague in his allegations and merely hints at adultery or sodomy or addresses the accused as 'adulterer' or 'sodomist', then he can be exempted from punishment. But in this case, the accused has a right to demand action against the accuser.
Sometimes, the allegation is against someone other than the one who is addressed. For example, One says, "Your father was an adulterer! Your father was a sodomist!" In such a situation, it is the right of the father, of the one who is addressed to insist upon the penalty. The son is not directly accused but insulted in the process. Consequently, he cannot demand the sentence of qazaf against the accuser but must insist upon a lighter penalty like reprimanding or beating so that the sin is not repeated.
In the same way, if someone says "bastard" or "adulterously born!' etc., the right of having the punishment decreed rests upon the one who is actually accused. The person who is addressed can only claim a reduced penalty.
Expiation of the Sin on the Day of Judgement
A woman presented herself before the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and said, "O, Messenger of Allah, I called my maid adulteress."
The Prophet (s.a.) said,
"Have you ever seen her committing adultery?"
"No," she replied.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told her,
"Know that ! On the day of Qiyamat, some of your good deeds will be transferred to this maid and it would be the expiation.
This woman returned and handed a whip to her maid and said, "lash me" but the maid refused, so she freed her. Again, she returned to the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and related the incident. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) remarked,
"May be this action of yours will act as the expiation of your utterance and you may not suffer it's consequences in the hereafter."
Repenting for Qazaf
One who accuses a Muslim of adultery or sodomy should know that qazaf or false accusation is a sin that trespasses upon the right of man as well as the right of Allah. As far as the human rights are concerned, the one who is falsely accused can take the accuser to the Qazi. If qazaf is proved by the confession of the accuser or by the testimony of two just witnesses who testify having heard the accuser making the false allegation, the legal sentence is executed. It is wajib for the person who has committed qazaf to submit himself to the accused for trial. However, he can request the one he has falsely accused to forgive him and must try his best to do so. If he is condoned, he escapes punishment. But if he is not forgiven and nor is the sentence carried out, and the falsely accused dies, the right of having the penalty executed is transferred to the legal heirs of the falsely accused. Now it is wajib upon the one guilty of qazaf either to surrender himself to the heirs so that he may be taken to a Qazi or he could ask for their forgiveness. If the heirs of the deceased forgive, he is saved from punishment.
Samaa says that I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the person who commits qazaf but is forgiven by the one whom he accused falsely. "If later, this person regrets having forgiven and wishes that the accuser be punished, can the punishment for qazaf be executed now?"
Imam (a.s.) replied;
"No penalty can be imposed upon him after being respited."
Samaa says that I further enquired,
"What if the man says, "O son of a fornicatress." And the one who is falsely accused condones him but leaves the matter to Allah?" Imam (a.s.) replied;
"If his mother is alive, the son does not have the right of forgiving the accuser. His mother has the right to forgive. She can exercise her right whenever she wants. If his mother has died, only then does he have the right to forgive."
It is wajib upon the accuser, that after he has received the penalty or after he has been condoned by the one whom he falsely accused that he must publicly announce that whatever he has uttered is absolutely false. For example, he should say, "I had accused this person of fornication. It was a false accusation." His announcement should be to the extent that those who have heard the false accusation must hear his confession too.
In an authentic report Ibne Sinan asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "If a person makes a false allegation and undergoes the Islamic punishment and also repents. Can his evidence be accepted in future?" Imam replied,
"If he repents and his repentance consist of taking back the words he has uttered and confesses before the Imam (a.s.) and the Muslims to have uttered a lie... Then it is incumbent upon the Imam to accept his evidence and consider him just."
The book Al Kafi and Al-Tahzeeb contain other reports concerning the same issue. If the accuser has made a false accusation, it is obvious that to falsify his accusation is a must. But there may be a situation where the accuser has really witnessed the act of adultery and sodomy but the crime is not proved due to lack of four witnesses and as a result he becomes liable for penalty. In this case too, he has to falsify his statement.
Since adultery or sodomy could not be established according to the stipulation laid down by Islam, from the point of view of Shariat, his accusation is false. So although he had witnessed the crime, it is appropriate on his part to falsify his statement. This he should do with the clear intention that he is submitting to the laws of Islam.
This is in consonance with the following verse:
"Why did they not bring the four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought they are liars before Allah."
(Surah Nur 24:13)
The Shaykh writes in the book 'Nihaya' that a person who is guilty of qazaf should repent by publicly announcing that the accusation he had made is untrue, and that he had uttered a lie. He should do this at the same place where he had made the accusation. In this way all those who had heard a Muslim being denounced will now be aware of its falsehood and there will be no misunderstanding in their minds about his good character.
A person guilty of qazaf transgresses Allah's right by disobeying a Divine command. Allah has strictly prohibited qazaf and a person guilty of it is deserving of the punishment of the hereafter. But if the offender repents sincerely and reforms himself, Allah is most Forgiving and most Merciful.
"Except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."
(Surah Nur 24:5)
Sincere repentance reforms a person. He will either make peace with the person whom he had earlier maligned, or he will confess his guilt and falsify his accusation before a Qazi. After this he is no longer a transgressor or a liar according to Shariat. He is now an adil (just man) whose evidence is acceptable. Beyond this, the experience of being guilty of qazaf and repenting sincerely by going through the humiliation of acknowledging it in public, brings about a deep-rooted transformation in the person's character. He is now inclined toward virtue and piety and strives for spiritual upliftment.
The Shaykh says in the book "Mabsut": "After repentance, only good deeds should be seen in that man."
One who hears the accuser is obliged to advise him to refrain from slandering and even to reprimand him.
Qazaf and the Responsibility of Other Muslims
According to the philosophy of Islam, if a Muslim hears of another Muslim being accused of adultery or sodomy he should not pay heed to it. It is Haraam for him to believe it. It is also Haraam to repeat this slander to others. Till four just witnesses testify before the qazi and the qazi issues his decree, it is Haraam to associate any one with these sins. Even if one has witnessed the crime with his own eyes or believes the accuser, one should not spread the slander. Such an action would cause the accused person to lose his honour and dignity in people's estimation. This is totally unacceptable in Islam.
Till four just witnesses have not testified, the accuser should be regarded as a liar and a transgressor, and it is wajib upon the person who hears him to consider him so, even if what he says is true. It should be said to the accuser, "This is a great allegation. We do not accept that the statement is correct according to Shariat."
"Surely they who concocted the lie are the party from among you. Do not regard it as an evil to you, nay, it is good for you. Every man of them shall have what he has earned of sin and (as for) him who took upon him the main part thereof he shall have a grievous chastisement.
Why did not the believing men and the believing women, when they heard it, think well of their own people and say: this is an evident falsehood?
Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah.
And were it not for Allah's Grace upon you and His Mercy in this world and the hereafter, a grievous chastisement would certainly have touched you on account of the discourse which you entered into.
When you received it with your tongues and spoke with your mouths what you had no knowledge of, you deemed it an easy matter while with Allah it was grievous.
And why did you not, when you heard it say: 'It does not beseem us that we should talk off it, glory be to thee ! This is a great calumny?'
Allah admonishes you that you should not return to the like of it ever again if you are believers.
And Allah makes clear to you the communications, and Allah is knowing and wise.
Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe, they shall have a grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter and Allah knows while you do not know.
(Surah Nur 24:11-19)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains,
"One who speaks wrongly about the believer and says something which he has neither seen nor heard himself is from those who have been mentioned in the verse:
"Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe they shall have the grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter and Allah knows while you do not know."
(Surah Nur 24:19)
In conclusion, it is Haraam to accuse anyone of fornication and sodomy without having seen the act with one's own eyes. Even after seeing it, it is Haraam to speak of it till four just witnesses testify having seen it.
But, if a husband accuses his wife wrongly of adultery, four witnesses are not required. It is sufficient for the husband to say before the qazi in the prescribed manner, "I am the liar, may the curse of Allah be upon me." And his accusation is admitted. This order is known as "laee" in Islamic terminology. And the accuser must fulfill the conditions as mentioned earlier in which case two just witnesses could testify that he has committed a calumny. As a result of this he is liable for penalty (eighty lashes). But these lashes would be lighter than those which are prescribed for the adulterer and the alcoholic. Also, the slanderer will not be lashed on a naked back like an adulterer and the alcoholic. He would be allowed to wear his shirt during lashing.
If Conditions for Qazaf are Absent
Even if the necessary conditions are not present in the accused it is still Haraam to associate him with adultery or sodomy. In this case the slanderer is reprimanded. However if some one calls a Muslim 'bastard' it does not imply that he is born of adultery. It could also imply that he was conceived when his mother was having a menstrual discharge. In such a condition it is Haraam for his father to perform the sexual act and the child conceived during this time is also a child of sin. In the same way if someone calls another, indecent or 'evil doer', the accusation of adultery and sodomy is not proved. However he could be punished lightly or reprimanded for insulting a person.
Similarly if a Muslim accuses falsely a Kafir of adultery or sodomy, the penalty of qazaf does not apply. Yet it is Haraam to associate even a Kafir with adultery and sodomy. It is not permissible to make such a statement in unequivocal words or to allude to it. But if it is established that he has committed adultery even from the point of view of his own faith, then it is allowed to associate him with it.
The Association of the Kuffar With Adultery
Umroo bin Noman Juhfi says that there was a friend of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He always remained with the Imam (a.s.) wherever he went. He had a slave who was from Sind. One day, the person was passing through the market of shoe-makers with Imam (a.s.) while his slave walked behind. The master wanted to send the slave on an errand, but when he looked back the slave had disappeared. He looked back three times but could not see the slave. After some time, when he looked for the fourth time, he saw the slave. He was angry with him and said, "O' son of the adulteress! Where were you?"
The narrator says that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) slapped his forehead and said,
"Glory be to Allah! You are accusing his mother of adultery. And I was seeing some piety in you, but now I find that there is no sign of piety or religiousness left."
The companion protested,"May I be sacrificed upon you, his mother is an inhabitant of Sind (India) and she is a Mushrik (polytheist)." Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Don't you know that all people have their own type of marriage? Be away from me!"
The narrator says, "In the Imam's life-time, I never saw him walking with Imam (a.s.), again."
Another tradition states,
"All the people have their kind of marriage due to which they protect themselves from adultery."
Abul Hasan al Hazzae says that he was in the company of Imam (a.s.) when a person came and asked him, "What did your debtors do?" I responded, "Are you asking about the son of that adulteress woman?" Upon hearing this Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) glared at me in anger. I said, "May I be sacrificed upon you. He is a Majoos (fire worshipper) and his mother is also his sister (means that his father had married his daughter). Imam (a.s.) asked,
"Is not this type of marriage permitted in their religion?"
Abusive Language is Haraam
Apart from grave accusations like adultery or sodomy it is also Haraam to use abusive language for a Muslim who does not openly indulge in evil acts. It is not allowed to abuse him with words like Transgressor! Dog! Drunkard! Pig! Even calling out to someone with such words is Haraam. Similarly, it is Haraam to address someone by associating him with some disease or handicap like Blind! Lame! Deaf! According to Shariat a person who uses abusive language should be given a light punishment or reprimanded.
The book Mustadrakul Wasael has a tradition from Imam Ali (a.s.) wherein he said,
"If a person calls another Sinner, Indecent, Kafir, Munafiq or Donkey, he must be given thirty nine lashes."
There is no difference if such words are used for relatives or strangers, against a student or a servant. Any bad words which mention the private parts or the indecent act are Haraam whether addressed to one who is an open sinner or not or whether he gets offended or not.
Traditions that Denounce Abusive Language
Numerous traditions have been recorded which censure bad words and abusive language.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Abusive language is an atrocity and atrocity earns Hell."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"There are four people, the intensity of whose chastisement will also annoy the other people of Hell."
"There would be a man who had blissfully used abusive and foul language in the world. In Hell, puss and blood shall flow from his mouth."
Other reports on this subject have already been mentioned in our discussion.
Replying to the Abuse
It must be understood that as it is Haraam to initiate abusive language it is also Haraam to abuse in reply to it. This strictly applies to words that denote, qazaf (accuse of adultery or sodomy). But for abuses like 'ignorant', idiot tyrant, it is permissible to reciprocate with the same words.
The Holy Quran also allows this, in the following ayat
"... Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:194)
"And whoever defends himself after his being oppressed these it is against whom there is no way (to blame)."
(Surah Shuara 42:41)
"And if you take your turn, then retaliate with the like of that with which you are afflicted."
(Surah Nahl 16:126)
If No Excess is Committed
Imam Musa al-Kazim says regarding two people who have abused each other,
"From the two of them, the one who initiated it, is more unjust, his sin includes the sin of abusing as well as the sin of the one who had cursed him in reply. But the oppressed one should not exceed the limit."
It means that a person who is abused should retaliate only with words that equal the abuses. He should not use a more abusive language otherwise his sin will be equal to the sin of the one who initiated.
For example if one calls another 'you donkey' and he replies with 'you dog' then this would be exceeding the limits. Or if one says 'you donkey' only once and the other person responds by repeating the same word twice or more, it would constitute an excess. If a person who has uttered a bad word, seeks forgiveness immediately before he is replied to, he must be condoned. In this case it is not allowed to reply even with the same words.
Silence is better
It must be emphasized that although it is permitted to retaliate in equal measure, it is best to remain silent.
The Holy Quran says;
"And the recompense to evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah, surely He does not love the unjust."
(Surah Shura 42:40)
Allah says in another place;
"And it is nearer to righteousness that you should relinquish."
(Surah Baqarah 2:237)
One Who Utters Abuses Will Himself be Humiliated
Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari relates that Ali (a.s.) saw that a man was abusing Hazrat Qambar and Qambar was about to reply to him. Ali (a.s.) called him:
"Qambar, stop! Humiliate the one who curses you by remaining silent. In this way the Beneficent will be satisfied with you and the shaitan angry. And you will be able to hurt your foe. You will please that Allah who splits the seed and cause pleasant winds to blow. No one can please Allah more with his forbearance, similarly nothing makes Shaitan more angry than silence in return of abuse. The revenge taken from an idiot (ignorant) person in this way is not possible in any other way."
If a person who is abused responds with kind and gentle words like, 'Do not abuse your brother', he occupies a very high position with Allah.
The Holy Quran says;
"And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best. When lo! he between whom and you is enmity would be as if he were a warm friend. And none are made to receive it but those who are patient, and none are made to receive it but those who have mighty good fortune."
(Surah Hamim 41:34-35)
The following incident is quoted in the book 'Kashful Ghumma':
A Syrian came to Madinah. He saw a handsome man astride a good camel. Upon enquiry he learnt that it was Imam Hasan ibn Ali (a.s.).
This man from Syria stepped forward in anger and said;"Are you the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib?"
"Yes, I am the son of Ali."
He said, "You are the son of a person who was a mushrik (polytheist)". And he continued his foul utterances till he got tired of it. Imam Hasan (a.s.) remained silent. At last the man felt ashamed. The Imam (a.s.) seeing his remorse said;
"You look like a traveller, are you from Syria?"
"Yes sir", he replied.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) said,
"If you need a place to stay, we shall provide it. If you need money we would give it you. If you have any other problem, we shall help you."
Not only was the Syrian ashamed but was also rendered speechless by such excellent behaviour.
The following are his words:
"After I had the good fortune of enjoying the hospitality of Imam Hasan Ibne Ali (a.s.), I found his personality more likeable than that of any other person in the world."
Imam Hasan (a.s.) had offered the same type of hospitality to Asam bin Mutlaq the Syrian, and he too became his devotee.
Thirteenth Greater Sin Drinking Liquor
Thirteenth Greater Sin
The thirteenth among the Greater Sins is drinking liquor. Its seriousness is proved from the traditions that have been related from Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad al Taqi (a.s.).
The Holy Quran also states in unequivocal words that it is a Greater Sin.
"They ask you about intoxicants and the games of chance. Says: in both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)
It is explained in 'Tafsir al-Mizan' that 'zanb' and 'ithm' are synonyms that denote a condition wherein the person involved is deprived of reason. He has no inclination for deeds of virtue nor can he maintain an amiable disposition. 'Ithm' is a type of sin, the evil effects of which become apparent in the person and he is absolutely doomed. The evils of drinking are known to all. The health of the alcoholic is affected in various ways. His digestion deteriorates. His intestines do not function well. His liver, lungs and all the five senses, are likewise affected. Ancient and modern doctors have penned quite a few books on this topic. They have revealed astonishing statistics to show the far greater susceptibility of alcoholics to diseases as compared to others. The various ailments which are caused by alcoholism are also enumerated. They have termed wine as deadly poison.
The different kind of diseases that inflict the body of a liquor-drinkers are described in brief:
Effect of Liquor on the Brain
Liquor affects the central nervous system. It may cause a brain hemorrhage leading to paralysis or prolonged coma and eventual death.
Effect of Liquor on the Limbs
Ailments of the limbs are also caused by alcohol. The limbs become weak and the person loses control upon them. The body becomes absolutely broken-down. The five senses become despaired. Sleeplessness increases and even when the person gets to sleep he is haunted by nightmares.
Effect of Alcohol on the Stomach
Liquor affects the tongue and the taste buds which lose their ability to discern flavours. Secretion of saliva is impaired. Liquor ruins the digestive system. The stomach cannot produce the digestive juices or maintain the required acidity for digestion. There is frequent vomiting and nausea. Along with phelgm, there is blood discharge in the vomit. Numerous other diseases of the stomach are also caused by alcoholism. The belly begins to protrude. The intestines swell and are ulcerated. The large intestines malfunction, causing alternate constipation and loose motions.
Effect of Alcohol on the Liver
Wine and alcohol cause swelling and weakening of liver and slow down its function. The swelling increases and this gives rise to acute pain of the liver. The part of the liver that is nearer to the stomach is first affected. The kidneys become yellow and the effect becomes apparent in the eyes of that person.
Effect of Alcohol on the Blood Circulation
Alcohol does not have any benefit for the human body. It is for this reason that none of its constituent parts could be absorbed into the human body. As soon as it reaches the stomach, alcohol enters the blood stream, and as it enters the blood, it goes on destroying the white blood corpuscles. Due to this, blood pressure decreases. It may also cause fainting.
Effect of Alcohol on the Respiratory Organs
The worst effects of alcohol are to be seen in the respiratory system. As it enters the lungs through the blood stream, it causes breathlessness. The tissues are inflamed and functioning of the lungs becomes sluggish. Calcium is continually depleted from the body. The damaged lungs are now highly susceptible to tuberculosis that is the most prevalent disease among the poorer class of people.
Effect of Alcohol on Kidneys
Statistics show that ninety percent of the ailments of the kidneys are due to alcoholism. Alcohol is expelled through urine and causes numerous diseases involving the entire urinary system. It may also cause loss of bladder control.
Effect of Alcohol on the Heart
Since alcohol circulates through the blood stream it has a detrimental effect on the heart as well. Gradually, layers of fat get deposited on the heart and it increases in size and weight. The heartbeats of an alcoholic are faint or irregular.
Effect of Alcohol on Mental Faculties
The most destructive effect that alcohol can produce is on the overall psychology of the alcoholic. According to statistics available from mental hospitals the majority of the patients are those who have been long-time alcoholics.
The book 'Balahaee-e-Ijtemai' has quoted the magazine 'Health' which says:
According to medical research there are 2,00,000 lunatics in France who have become mad due to alcoholism. Also 80% of all mental patients have been drunkards. Further 40% of all the ailments that afflict the people are due to alcohol. According to British scientists, 90% of the lunatics are so, due to the effect of alcohol.
Effect of Alcohol on the Offsprings
The book also mentions that wine affects the sperm cells. A West German doctor has conducted research that indicates that the effect of alcohol lasts for at least three future generations of the alcoholic; even though these future generations may abstain from intoxicants.
Excessive drinking causes sterility
According to an American doctor Dr. Nelson, if a teetotaler can father eleven healthy children the alcoholic is at the most capable of having three normal children. Moreover these children may be plagued with fainting, migraine, hot temper, lunacy, mental disability or anemia. Such children are the victims of various mental and physical problems.
The effects of liquor are also mirrored in the character of the drunkard. The alcoholic is usually a person of low character and has a foul tongue. Being in a state of intoxication most of the time, his behaviour is not normal or rational. Not being in control of his senses due to the influence of intoxicants, he has no hesitation in committing evil acts like murder, plunder, adultery, sodomy, exposing other peoples secrets etc. In fact he will unhesitatingly break every law, be it of land or religion.
The Islamic code of life requires that a person should use whatever power of reasoning Allah has granted him to conduct himself with deliberation and discretion. In fact Islam expects every individual to try and improve his reasoning power by increasing his knowledge with study and by associating with those more knowledgeable than himself. Even good actions, without thought and intent are of no avail.
Islam therefore prohibits all such actions that affect the reasoning capacity of man. The acts that top this list are alcoholism, gambling, deceit and lying. All of which deprive man of his capacity to reason. Carnal desires and falsehood are two things that are instrumental in the demotion of man from the high position of humanity to the lowliness of the beasts. Such a person is not capable of carrying any important responsibility. It is very difficult for an alcoholic to excel in any field. Even if he resolves to do something, his resolution is soon defeated. The more difficult, the more important a task is, the more difficult it would be for an alcoholic to accomplish it. Even if the wisdom behind every Islamic act had been unknown, it would have sufficed to accept it, as the same is advocated by intellect.
The Holy Quran has termed as 'ithm' (sins) such acts as murder, slander, and withholding testimony before a qualified Judge. Murder has not been termed as 'ithm-e-kabir' (the greatest sin) whereas sins like alcoholism and gambling have been specified as the 'ithm-e-kabir' (the greatest sin). The quote ("and in alcohol and gambling there is even some profit for men") imply the profit which arises from the manufacture and sale of alcohol etc. But this profit is not even a pittance when compared to the losses that accrue with the consumption of alcohol. The loss of character, the loss of mental & physical health and over and above all this, the loss of Allah's Mercy and blessing in the hereafter.
The Quran says in Surah Maidah:
"O you who believe ! Surely intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (divining by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's works, shun it therefore that you may be successful."
(Surah Maaidah 5:90)
The prohibition regarding wine is of special significance in those two ayats for the following reasons:
1) The word 'innama' in the first ayat denotes emphasis.
2) Drinking of liquor is mentioned along with idolatry. Therefore drinking liquor is as serious a sin as idolatry.
3) Drinking of liquor has been classified as a satanic act along with gambling.
4) The verse emphatically orders one to avoid alcohol.
5) Avoidance of alcohol has been clearly shown to be a way of salvation.
6) The consequences of drinking liquor have also been listed namely; enmity, hatred and loss of belief in Allah.
7) Then it is asked whether you would now avoid this evil or not.
8) After the prohibition, Allah orders to obey Him and obey the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). To beware of disobeying Allah and to know that the duty of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is to convey the message and complete the proof.
Tafsir al-Mizan quotes the dictionary meaning of wine as any liquid intoxicant. In the beginning the Arabs used to prepare it from grapes, barley and dates. But gradually new types of wines began to be produced. Nowadays there are many chemically manufactured alcoholic drinks. All these can produce varying degrees of intoxication. But however slight the intoxication a drink may produce, it is considered haram. The word 'rijs' (indecency) implies everything that is evil. The Quranic verses equate liquor with indecency. Human nature of its own accord is not inclined towards liquor. It is the insinuation of Shaitan that persuades man to consume such filth. Shaitan creates the illusion in the human mind that by consuming liquor one can obtain bliss and a feeling of exhilaration. The Quranic verses declare that it is the Shaitan's plan to entice people towards wine, gambling and idol-worship so he can create enmity, hatred and avarice amongst them and succeed in diverting their thoughts away from Allah and their duty towards the Almighty. Due to loss of reason and self control they stoop to the lowest depths of inhuman behaviour. Under the influence of an intoxicant every thing vile and vicious appeals to their fancy. They get pleasure in destroying other people's wealth, honour and dignity ignoring all norms of civil behaviour. They may even speak insolently about their own religion and beliefs. They sink to the lowest depths of degradation when their own sisters and daughters appear to them as objects of gratification. When intoxicated a person will easily divulge the most confidential information in his possession.
The 33rd ayat of Surah Araf is as follows:
"Say, my Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed, and sin and rebellion without justice and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down any authority, and that you say against Allah what do you not know."
'Fawahish' (indecencies) is the plural of 'fahsha' (indecency). In Arabic it implies an extremely evil act. The other sins that are described by this word in Quran are adultery, sodomy and falsely associating someone with adultery and sodomy. 'Ithm' implies 'sin', and the Holy Quran clearly indicates that drinking and gambling are 'ithm'.
There is a tradition narrated by Ali ibn Yaqteen in the book Al Kafi, wherein the Abbasid despot Mahdi asked Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) regarding wine, "Is wine Haraam according to the Quran?" (Because) people know that it is prohibited but not aware that it is Haraam." Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) replied:
"Wine is Haraam according to the Divine book."
"At what place in the Quran is wine shown to be Haraam?"
Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) said,
"In the following statement of Allah,
'Say, my Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed.'"
(Surah Araf 7:33)
Imam (a.s.) further said,
"As far as the apparent indecencies are concerned, they imply open adultery and ensigns that were hung outside the houses of prostitutes in the days of ignorance. 'The concealed sin' implies the sin of marrying the step mother after the death of the father as the people of the days of ignorance used to do. Allah has also ordered this act to be Haraam. As far as sin is concerned, it is but "wine drinking". At another point, Allah says,
"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: in both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profits."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)
In the above tradition Imam (a.s.) first quotes the ayat where 'sin' is labelled as Haraam. Then he mentions that verse where wine is ordained to be a 'sin'. Hence when it is shown that 'sin' is Haraam and wine is sin, then wine (and all alcoholic drinks) must necessarily be Haraam.
Alcoholism According to the Traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)
Traditions that denounce alcohol are numerous. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"On the day of Qiyamat the drunkard would come with a black face, a protruding tongue and the saliva dripping upon his chest."
In another narration Imam (a.s.) informed:
"He will scream, 'Thirst! Thirst!' And Allah would have the right to make him drink from the well that contains the pollutants of the adulterers."
In a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), he says:
"One who is careless of namaz will be deprived of my intercession, and will not be able to reach me at the pool of Kausar1. And by Allah, my intercession will also not reach the one who consumes intoxicants, and he would not be able to reach me at the pool of Kausar."
One more tradition says, that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) cursed ten types of people in connection with wine:
1) One who plants a sapling with the intention of producing wine.
2) One who cultivates this sapling so that wine may be manufactured.
3) One who crushes the grapes.
4) One who drinks wine.
5) One who serves the wine.
6) One who transports wine.
7) One who takes delivery from the supplier.
8) One who sells wine.
9) One who buys it.
10) One who uses the income that is earned by (making or selling) wine.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"One who is addicted to wine (liquor) will meet the Lord (on the appointed day) like an idol worshipper."
Another tradition says that,
On the day of meeting of the Lord, the drunkard will be counted among the disbelievers."
(Wasaelush Shia, chapter of prohibited drinks )
Liquor is the root of all evils
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"Disobedience to the order of Allah is mostly due to alcoholism. The alcoholic abandons namaz. He even commits incest under the influence of alcohol. He loses his senses."
(Wasaelush Shia: chapter of prohibited drinks)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Certainly even if a person swallows only a mouthful of wine, at that very moment, the angels, the Prophets and the righteous believers send their curses upon him."
"And when he drinks enough to make him intoxicated, the spirit of belief leaves his body, it is replaced by the dirty, accursed, devilish spirit. When the person neglects prayers, he spreads corruption in society."
It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"One who drinks wine considering it halaal will remain forever in Hell. One who drinks wine, knowing it is Haraam will still taste the punishment of Hell."
Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) has informed,
"Allah knows better that every Prophet who has been sent by Him did not have his religion completed till wine was prohibited. Wine has always been Haraam."
In the present Old and New testaments, even after so many interpolations and alterations, there is considerable criticism of alcoholism.
"Don't associate with people who drink too much wine..."
"Show me someone who drinks too much, who has to try out some new drink, and I will show you someone miserable and sorry for himself, always causing trouble and always complaining. His eyes are bloodshot, and he has bruises that could have been avoided."
"Don't let wine tempt you, even though it is rich red, though it sparkles in the cup, and it goes down smoothly. The next morning you will feel as if you had been bitten by a poisonous snake. Weird sights will appear before your eyes and you will not be able to think or speak clearly."
(Proverbs 23: 29-33)
The punishment for drinking wine is mentioned in the following words:
"Inform the elders of the town, this son of ours is a rebel and a sinner. He does not obey us, he is a glutton and drinks too much wine? Then all the people of the town will stone him till he dies."
Also we find:
"Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you..."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Alcoholism is the mother of all sins. Liquor invites the drunkard to all sorts of indecencies. It destroys his intellect. So much so that under its influence he even fails to recognize his Lord. Whatever sin he encounters, he commits it. The alcoholics do not refrain from any such acts, which are against morality."
Thus drinking liquor is Haraam not merely in the light of the Quran and traditions, but it is a Greater Sin. One of the necessities of religion is to consider liquor Haraam and if a Muslim considers it to be Halaal he becomes a Kafir.
Liquor is Absolutely Haraam
It makes no difference if the quantity consumed is less or more; liquor is absolutely Haraam; whether pure or mixed. Thus even if a person licks a single drop it is Haraam whether he gets intoxicated or not. In the same way if liquor is consumed by mixing it with other things, it is still Haraam.
Allama Hilli (r.a.) has quoted an authentic tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), that he said:
"If more of it intoxicates, then to consume even a bit of it is Haraam."
A person enquired from Imam (a.s.), "but I dilute it with water?"
Imam (a.s.) told him,
"A Haraam thing does not become halaal by mixing it with water. Fear Allah, refrain from partaking of it."
(Mustanad ush Shia)
Umar Ibne Hanzala says that he enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Does it matter if as much water is mixed in wine so that it is no more intoxicating?"
Imam (a.s.) replied:
"No! By Allah it is not. Even if a drop of wine falls into a well full of water it does not become halaal. Rather the whole well has to be emptied."
Ibne Wahab has narrated this tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Every intoxicant is Haraam. Something that intoxicates only when consumed in large quantities, is also not allowed to be taken even in a lesser quantity."
The narrator says, "I asked, 'Then if a Haraam thing is mixed in a huge quantity of water, does it become permissible?'"
Imam (a.s.) flailed his arms twice, indicating emphatically that it does not.
(Furu Al Kafi)
Liquor is harmful irrespective of the quantity consumed. Even if a drop of the poison enters the body it has harmful effects on it, whether apparent immediately or not. If you mix a few buckets of red dye in a pond of water, the whole pond water turns red. But on the other hand if you throw a glassful of ink in a pond of clear water it would not bring about any appreciable change in its appearance, yet, could you say that the ink has not affected the water at all? Certainly not! If the water is subjected to the process of distillation the glassful of ink could be recovered. If it enters the body it will cause harm. A person who tastes liquor, one drop at a time, soon gets addicted to it till he needs to drink more and more of it. Consequently a stage is reached when he is unable to rid himself of this habit howsoever hard he may try. A stone is eroded when water drips upon it over a period of time. Similarly alcohol erodes the liver and other cells of the body. Grapes, raisins and dates, when unfermented have medicinal properties and are wholesome and beneficial to the body. But as soon as fermentation sets in these fruits and wine is produced they turn harmful and prohibited.
If an intoxicant is a liquid in its natural state, in addition to its being Haraam, it is also najis (impure). But if an intoxicating substance is solid in its natural form and it is available as a solution, like opium or hemp for consumption, it is not najis, but its consumption is Haraam like that of wine.
Giving Liquor to Children
Offering liquor to others is also Haraam even if it is to a young, naive child. The book, 'Mustanad ush Shia' contains three traditions regarding this topic. The gist of these traditions is that one who is responsible for serving liquor to young children will have to drink an equal quantity of the boiling water of Hell, on the day of Qiyamat, by Allah's command.
Liquor at the Dinner Table
If liquor is served on a table, it is Haraam to sit there and eat even if one does not touch the wine. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) informs that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Accursed, accursed is the one who sits at a table where wine is being served."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also says:
"One who believes in Allah and the last day, must not even sit at the table where wine is kept."
(Masaalik of Shaheed Thani)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Do not sit with drunkards because when the curse descends it engulfs all the people in the company of the drunkards."
(Wasaelush Shia, Chapter 33)
Some scholars have stated that it is not permitted to be in the company of people where anything Haraam is being done. For example, backbiting about a Muslim. It is then obligatory on a person to leave immediately if possible and be free of the sin of just being in this company. Also, if by his leaving, the others will discontinue their sinful action, it is obligatory on him to do so.
Wine and Medicine
According to the traditions of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) to take wine as medicine is also Haraam. Rather, the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) have prohibited the consumption of any intoxicant as medicine. The jurists unanimously agree that one should refrain from consuming any intoxicant to cure a disease or to ward off pain. Allah has not reposed any curative effect in any intoxicant.
Certain Mujtahids have stated that there are three exceptions where an intoxicant could be taken as medicine.
First of all the person should know that his malady is curable.
Secondly it must be that if this treatment is not taken it would result in death or extreme pain. Thirdly, there should be no other cure for this ailment.
If these conditions are fulfilled, the patient can be given an intoxicant as medicine but only just enough to cure his disease.
But as we have stated, Allah has not bestowed any cure in a Haraam thing. Hence the above conditions are mentioned just for the sake of an obligation. Such a situation can hardly arise.
Wine Contains No Cure
Ibne abi Yazoor told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): I am suffering from a disease. When the pain intensifies I drink some wine of grapes and the pain subsides. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, "Do not drink. It is Haraam; it is nothing but Shaitan who is preying upon you to involve you in sins. When he loses all hope of making you drink he will leave you."
Ibne abi Yazoor returned to his native place, Kufa. He was in intense pain and his people brought for him wine of grapes and persuaded him to drink it. Ibne abi Yazoor said, "By Allah! I will not taste a drop of it."
He bore the pain for some days. At last his pain receded and he never suffered from it for the rest of his life.
Drunkard on the Death-bed
Abu Basir says that Umme Khalid Abadiya presented herself before Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) when Abu Basir was also present. Umme Khalid said,
"May I be sacrificed for you, on the day of Qiyamat I will tell Allah that I have done as commanded by Ja'far ibn Muhammad (a.s.). Physicians have told me to knead the flour with grape wine and eat the bread. This will cure the terrible pain of my heart. I ask you, shall I do this?"
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) replied to Umme Khalid,
"No! By Allah I will not permit you even a drop of wine. Don't taste even a drop of it. Otherwise when your soul reaches here (Imam pointed towards his throat) you will only regret." Then Imam (a.s.) asked Umme Khalid thrice.
"Have you understood?"
"Yes", replied Umme Khalid.
A student of Fuzail Ibne Ayaz was on his deathbed. Fuzail came to him and sitting near his head began to recite Surah Yasin (al-Quran, chapter 36). The disciple told his teacher, "Do not recite the Quran!" Fuzail became silent. Then he began to urge his disciple to repeat "La ilaha illallah". The student said:
"I will not repeat this formula because I am disgusted with it!" and he died in the same condition.
Fuzail Ibne Ayaz was extremely perturbed. He returned home after completing his duties and went to sleep. He saw his student undergoing punishment. He asked him, "What is the reason of your being deprived of faith (Imaan) at the time of your death? You were one of my best students."
The student replied: "There are three reasons, firstly, I used to backbite too much, secondly, I used to be jealous, thirdly, a physician had prescribed for my malady a cup of wine every year. He told me that if I do not drink, the disease would never be cured. Every year I drank one cup of wine."
(Safinatun Behaar Vol. I Pg. 428)
Numerous traditional reports mention that "Haraam" things do not contain any cure. In the same way one must refrain from taking any medicine that contains even a drop of najis alcohol.
It is stated on page no 380 of the Journal of Anjuman Tablighate Islami:
"There is not a single doctor today who considers liquor to have any cure. No doctor permits even a small quantity of the same. If a physician prescribes liquor as a medicine for some cure, it must be understood that his medical knowledge is deficient."
A hundred years ago some of the doctors and physicians believed that wine had some curative effects. But recent researches show that wine not only lacks any beneficial value but is in fact harmful. The molecules of alcohol on entering the blood stream affect the white blood corpuscles. These corpuscles perform the function of protecting the human body against infectious disease.
The white blood cells engulf the disease causing germs and exterminate them. Anything that impairs the functioning of these blood cells exposes a person to numerous diseases because his body is unable to protect itself. Some people think that wine helps in digestion. This is just a false notion. The reality is just the opposite. Actually wine causes indigestion. The food hardens in the stomach and becomes indigestible. You can experiment by pouring wine upon a piece of cooked soft meat. It will become tough like leather, and absolutely unchewable. Wine also destroys the digestive juices secreted by the stomach and leads to flatulence and indigestion. Wine destroys appetite. Besides, alcohol causes addiction and wine taken for medicinal purpose soon becomes an addiction that is difficult to get rid of. We may observe that some alcoholics appear perfectly healthy even after years of addiction. But what is apparent may be different from reality. If a medical check up is carried out, it will reveal the deteriorating condition of the internal organs and the digestive system of these addicts. Besides, often the maladies are not associated with alcohol and are attributed to other factors. It should be also noted that alcohol affects some people more than others. Some have a hereditary capacity to withstand the rouging effects of alcohol. They should thank Providence for it and refrain from drinking so that they can protect their future generation from developing a weakness for it.
Punishment for Drinking Liquor
If a sane adult person, knowing that liquor is Haraam, consumes even a drop of it of his own accord and later confesses to it or is seen in the act of drinking by two just witnesses who testify, the Judge is obliged to award punishment to him.
However punishment cannot be awarded under the following conditions: If the individual who drinks it is a child, or an insane person, or one who is unaware of its prohibition, or one drinks it by mistake being under the impression that it is not liquor and realizes the truth afterwards, or one who drinks it under coercion and force, or one who is compelled to drink due to extreme thirst there being no other way of quenching it.
The Islamic penalty for drinking is eighty lashes. Eighty lashes are given when the person drinks it for the first time. If he repeats the act after receiving 80 lashes he is lashed 160 times. If he repeats the sin again and confesses, or two just witnesses testify before a Qazi (religious Judge) the punishment is tripled; i.e. 240 lashes. The fourth instance of the crime entails capital punishment. Some Mujtahids are of the opinion that capital punishment should be given when the sin is repeated the third time.
If a person confesses and repents before the testimony of two just witnesses, he is condoned. However after the testimony he cannot escape punishment. The drunkard cannot be punished while still intoxicated. He is punished only when he gets sober. If it is a man he is stripped above the waist and lashed from the shoulders and below. It is not allowed to hit the face or the private parts of the accused. If the accused is a woman she is lashed with her clothes on. If her dress is loose, it is made to stick to the body by tying it up. She is lashed in a sitting position.
If a person drinks wine at a sacred place, for example the Holy Kaaba or in a sacred period, like the month of Ramazan, he is lashed and also given a preventive punishment that is, he is beaten so much that he may not dare to repeat the crime.
Ibn Abil Hadid records the following incident in Sharh-e-Nahjul Balagha:
"Najashi was a famous poet of Kufa. He was originally from Yemen. He was among the army of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) at the Battle of Siffin. It was the first day of Ramazan when his friend, Abu Sammak instigated him to drink wine at the tavern. Under its intoxication he created such a bedlam that his neighbour was compelled to complain to Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.). Hazrat summoned both of them. Abu Sammak fled but Najashi was arrested and brought by the people. By the order of the Imam (a.s.) he was detained for the night. The next day, before the congregation of Muslims he was stripped to the waist and lashed eighty times for drinking wine. After this he was given twenty more lashes. Najashi said, "Eighty lashes were for drinking wine, but why twenty more?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"This is because you dared to drink during the month of Ramazan and did not respect its sanctity."
(Furu Al Kafi, Chapter on Penal Code)
The relatives of Najashi were present in large numbers in the camp of Ali (a.s.). They were perturbed at the extra punishment. One of them, Tarikh Ibne Abdullah said:
"We Yemenis are among your loyal friends and Shias. We expected you to consider us differently from your enemies. Najashi is our respected kinsman. By lashing him publicly you have degraded us in the eyes of our friends and enemies. We have began to doubt if the path that we tread leads to Heaven." Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said,
"Strict adherence to justice and commands of Allah hurts the sinners. What have I done? Najashi dared to disobey the Divine command. I have only punished him according to the laws. Allah says:
'... And let not hatred of a people invite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety, be careful of (your duty to) Allah...'"
(Surah Maidah 5: 8)
Ibn Abil Hadid writes, "Najashi and Tarikh were unable to assert their opinion. They left Kufa and went to Syria to join the group of Muawiya." Their meeting with Muawiya is not described here. Its details can be studied in Ibn Abil Hadid's Sharh-e-Nahjul Balagha, Vol. I part iv page no. 366.
Aloofness from the Drunkard
In order to discourage the evil habit of drinking, Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has commanded that people should not associate with a drunkard and remain totally aloof from him. It is a method by which the drunkard will feel self-conscious about the lack of respect with which his community members view him. Being strictly excluded from company, he will not be able to influence tender or immature minds to develop this obnoxious habit. We can thus restrict the evils of alcoholism that destroy the foundation of individual and social life.
Do not Give your Daughter in Marriage to a Drunkard
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.),
"Allah has made me to pronounce wine as Haraam, after this pronouncement if someone still drinks wine, he is not fit to have his proposal for marriage accepted, when he proposes. If he seeks recommendation, he should not be recommended. If he says something he must not be believed. His testimony must not be accepted. Nothing should be kept in his trust. Allah is not responsible for something kept with a drunkard, with the knowledge (of his vice). He will not receive any compensation. If the thing is lost, nothing could be taken in exchange and neither its cost."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who marries his well-behaved daughter to a drunkard does Qat-e-Rahmi."
Imam (a.s.) has also said,
"One who marries his well-behaved daughter to a drunkard; it is as if he has given her to adultery."
Imam (a.s.) has also stated in a tradition,
"If a drunkard falls ill do not go to visit him. If he dies, do not attend his funeral."
Boycott of the Drunkard
By adopting this attitude we fulfill our duty of Nahy Anil Munkar. No one should trust or believe a drunkard, and no one should have any dealings with him whatsoever. As clearly ordered by our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Imam (a.s.) no one should give his daughter in marriage to a drunkard. When the drunkard finds himself so totally cut off from the society in which he lives, he will be compelled to give up his sinful habit.
Jehad Against Intoxicants
The book Burhan-e-Quran writes against intoxicants:
"The evil of intoxicants can be easily proved by the fact that in a country like France a woman legislator urged the parliament to abolish intoxicants completely. She was so disgusted by the ill-effects of alcohol that she protested against it vehemently. Obviously, until the powerful governments put an end to such evils they cannot be eradicated. Mere crusades of individuals, or social boycott will not have much effect."
It is true that life can be very difficult for some individuals. They face hardships and frustrations till they are driven to despair. Even so, drinking liquor to forget their troubles is not a solution. The physical, economic and social repercussions of this evil will only magnify their problems and engulf them in a vicious circle from which it will be almost impossible to extricate themselves. It is an evil that must be fought by individuals, by society and by the governments. Individual effort and social boycott will certainly help to a great extent. But the authority that the government can exercise in enforcing strict measures will go a long way in eradicating this evil. The American government in the year 1930 had made a serious effort to discourage the use of intoxicants. The propaganda was carried out through newspapers, magazines, radio, television, films and all modes of communication. The total expenses incurred by the government were eight million dollars. Ten billion pages of books and magazines were printed. Within a span of 14 years 250 million dollars were spent. 300 people were hanged, 532000 people were sent to prison, penalties were collected from 1,60,00,000 people and property worth $ 41,50,00,000 was confiscated. All this did not yield the desired result and the number of alcoholics, in fact, increased. In 1933 all these restrictions were withdrawn and complete freedom was given to the public to consume liquor.
(From Tankihat of Abul Ala Maududi)
This only goes to show that government restriction alone will not cure this malady. What is needed are the co-ordinated efforts of strict government rules and the boycott of the alcoholics by society.
When Islam prohibited liquor, it considered all these aspects. Islam first strived to remove the causes of alcoholism. After this, it promulgated that liquor is Haraam. One of the causes that promotes this habit are the people who themselves give a free rein to this vice. They do not adopt strict methods of prevention. Our society does not view the drunkards unfavourably and does not boycott them so that they may be compelled to give up their habits. According to Islam, dangerous diseases and ailments that befall the soul must be eradicated by all means. The drunkards and alcoholics must also be boycotted economically. People should not transact any business with them and they must also be socially boycotted. Proposals for their marriage must be rejected and none should keep company with them. An ideological war must be carried out against them. They must also be a spiritually cured. Along with heavy penal punishment they must be informed of the ill effects of liquor and other intoxicants.
Fourteenth Greater Sin Gambling
Fourteenth Greater Sin
Gambling is the fourteenth Greater Sin. The following statements support this view. The Holy Quran states in Surah Baqarah:
"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chances. Say: in both of them there is a great sin..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)
"Ithme kabir" means a very great sin. The Holy Quran has used this phrase only for drinking and gambling."
The tradition related by Fazl Ibne Shazaan from Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) also included gambling among the Greater sins. Similarly, gambling is clearly mentioned as a Greater Sin in the tradition related by Amash from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), is reported to have told Abu Basir:
"It is Haraam to sell chess. It is Haraam to spend the income of this sale. To keep chess (board and pieces) in ones possession is tantamount to kufr (disbelief). To play chess is equal to ascribing partners to Allah. It is a sin even to salute one who plays chess. One who touches it in order to play it, it is, as if he has contaminated his hands by touching pork."
(Wasaelush Shia. Chapter on Business Transactions)
The same tradition is recorded in the book Man La Yahzarul Faqih with the addition inter alia that:
"To teach chess to others is also a kind of destructive sin."
It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Allah pardons all the sinners in the month of Ramazan except three kinds of people; those who drink wine, those who gamble and those who harbour enmity and avarice towards a Muslim."
Another proof is the following verse of Quran, which shows that gambling, is a Greater Sin:
"O you who believe! Intoxicants and (maeser) games of chance and divining (azlam) by arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's work; shun it therefore that you may be successful."
(Surah Maaidah 5:90)
What do 'Maesir' and 'Azlam' Denote?
Games of chances that are mentioned in this Quranic verse include all types of gambling. The Arabic equivalent to this is "Maeser" which is derived from the root word "yusur" which means 'ease'. Since a gambler does not perform a laborious work and is able to easily grab the money belonging to others, gambling is called "Maeser".
"Azlam" is a game of chance that is played with dice. Actually, there used to be special pieces of wood which were used in gambling. Azlam is also known as "aqlaam". The gamblers used to purchase a camel and divide the meat of the slaughtered camel into twenty-eight parts. Ten pieces of arrow-shaped wood were kept at the venue of gambling. Each piece had a specific name. The names of seven of those pieces were faz, tawaam, raqeeb, halas, nafis, masbal and mualla. Specific portion of meat was allotted to each of the arrows. For example faz was equal to one portion and mualla had seven portions. The meat that had been divided into twenty-eight pieces was distributed only to these ten pieces of wood. Some of the arrows were such that no meat was allotted to them and in fact those who got them had to reimburse the cost of camel in full. The total of participants in this game was ten, and the three unlucky ones were expelled. The three unlucky arrows were named "manaj, safih and raghad".
'Azlaam' is a kind of a wager whereas 'maeser' includes all forms of gambling. Azlaam is mentioned specifically because it was popular before the advent of Islam. Other methods of azlaam are also recorded but irrespective of the method, all types of wagers are Haraam. Wine, gambling, idol worship and azlaam are all satanic works. Involving oneself in these would deprive the person of salvation and success in the hereafter. It is therefore commanded not to even go near wine and gambling.
Gambling and Wine Cause Avarice and Enmity
"The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance..."
(Surah Maidah 5:91)
It is common knowledge that a man loses his senses under the influence of alcohol and in this condition behaves in a most indiscreet manner. He is therefore bound to create enemies due to his shoddy behaviour. Drunkards are also known to murder their own family members and friends. As far as gambling is concerned, enmity between the participants is the most natural outcome in a game of chance. The person who loses his money to his opponent is bound to resent him and have a feeling of vengeance and there is bound to be a winner and a loser. The dominating influence on the gamblers is that of hatred and enmity.
Gambling Causes Voluptuousness and Sensuality
A person who wins in gambling makes a lot of easy money. Obviously, he looks for ways and means for self-indulgence to splurge his ill-gotten wealth. In fact, profit from Haraam means paves the way towards further unlawful evils. Avarice is the characteristic of all gamblers. The gambler who wins is so obsessed that he wagers more around larger profits. The loser is equally obsessed to win back what he has lost. Such compulsive obsessions have disastrous consequences. The book "Balahaee-e-ijtemai" Pg.231 contains an incident where an inhabitant of an Iranian town stabbed his opponent thrice and killed him. The accused gave the following statement: "The victim has grabbed a lot of my money through gambling. He was not prepared to lay another bet despite my persuasion and ran away. I followed and killed him."
On page 325 of the same book, the following is quoted from the magazine "Roshan Fikr". "In the town of Monte Carlo, Argentina, a gambler lost around forty hundred thousand tumans in a game that lasted for sixteen hours. When the casino closed, he drove his car to the forest and shot himself in the head."
Incidents of suicide are common in the woods surrounding Monte Carlo. Most often, those who arrive in this city to gamble lose all their money. Sometimes, they cannot even pay for their return journey. Such people go into the woods and commit suicide. One of the casinos has decided to loan the return fare to those who lose all their money.
The weekly magazine of 'Ittelat Daily' No.1060 contains the following item.
"Suicides due to gambling are on the increase according to the available statistics. More suicides were committed in this year (1361 solar) compared to the number in previous years. The casino owners have, as a result named this as the 'unlucky year'. In the previous year, 120 people committed suicide after losing in Paris. The statisticians of America state that the cause of thirty percent of all crimes is gambling."
(Balahae-e- Ijtemai Pg.329)
It is noticed that most of the criminals like robbers, pickpockets and murderers commit crimes after leaving their gambling dens.
Alcohol and gambling are vices leading to spiritual bankruptcy. These offenders are oblivious of Allah and of their duties towards their Creator. Living in a state of forgetfulness of Allah is the worst tragedy that befalls the unfortunate victims of these vices.
"...And to keep you off from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer...."
(Surah Maidah 5:91)
An alcoholic in a state of intoxication is in no condition to remember Allah and he abandons even an obligation like namaz. In the same way, the craze of a gambler to obtain wealth or make up for his losses is all consuming and he loses awareness of all obligatory acts including prayers. In order to stress this point, Allah continues in the same verse:
"Will you then desist?"
(Surah Maidah 5:91)
It means that even after being informed of the demerits of these vices, will you still not reform?
The next verse continues the emphasis:
"And obey Allah and obey the apostle and be cautious. But if you turn back, then know that only a clear deliverance of the message is (incumbent) on your apostle."
(Surah Maidah 5:92)
In this way, the argument is completed. Now, you cannot say that you have not been warned.
Now, we shall describe some forms of gambling.
Objects of Gambling and Laying of Bets
There is a universal agreement among the Mujtahids that articles normally used in gambling should not be played with, even if one is not gambling. The tradition mentioned previously which states that one who touches chess is like one who smears his hand in pork; continues,
"The prayers of chess-players are not valid till they wash their hands after the game. And to watch a game of chess is like looking at the genitals of ones own mother."
(Wasaelush Shia. Chapter of Business Transactions)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) on being inquired concerning chess replied:
"Leave the preoccupations of the fire-worshippers to them."
That is, Muslims should not even go near chess.
In another tradition, Imam (a.s.) says:
"Do not even approach chess."
The tradition from the book, Tohafful Uqool distinctly states that the articles employed in gambling cannot be used for any purpose whatsoever and it is Haraam to do so.
"All the tools and actions of gambling are Haraam."
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said:
"All kinds of games of betting are gambling and the sale, the purchase and the use of all the tools of gambling are Haraam. It is only an act that Shaitan instigates you to do."
Chess and cards should not be indulged in even when played only for intellectual stimulation games with no intent to gamble. These games have an inherent power to obsess the player till he becomes oblivious of his responsibilities towards his family and even his livelihood. Such all-consuming activities lead to the disruption of an otherwise happy family life. Shaitan also will not lose the opportunity to incite the players to play for stakes. Very soon, the game started as an intellectual exercise will slip into a game for making money. The only effective way to eradicate gambling from society is to stay clear of such games as commanded by our Imam (a.s.). Hence, Islam has declared that to manufacture the tools of gambling is Haraam; to buy or sell them is Haraam and to spend from the profits of these transactions is Haraam. It is Haraam even to have the tools of gambling in ones possession. It is obligatory to destroy them.
Ishaq Ibne Ammar asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that children play with eggs and cashew nuts in the same way as gambling? Imam (a.s.) told him:
"Do not even eat these things!"
The following verse of the Divine Book ordains the income of gambling to be Haraam and makes it obligatory upon the person who wins to restore the amount back to the person who lost it.
"O you who believe! Do not devour your property among yourselves falsely...?"
(Surah Nisa 4:29)
Playing Games of Chance Without Betting
We know from the above discussion that to play with articles used in gambling even without betting is Haraam.
To sit and watch the game is also Haraam. The practice of Nahy anil Munkar makes it obligatory on us to leave the place where people are gambling. It is recommended (mustahab) that if perchance our eyes fall upon an article of gambling, we should remember Imam Husain (a.s.) and curse Yazid (l.a.).
Fazl Ibne Shazaan reports from Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.), "At the time the blessed head of Husain Ibne Ali (a.s.) was carried into Shaam, Yazid (l.a.) started to dine and drink barley wine (similar to modern day 'beer') with his associates. After the meal, Yazid (l.a.) ordered the blessed head to be kept in a salver and placed at the foot of his throne. A chessboard was spread out and the accursed Yazid sat down to play chess. During the game, he ridiculed Imam Husain (a.s.), his father (a.s.) and grandfather (s.a.w.s.). Whenever he won a game, he used to take hold of the barley wine and drink three goblets. Then he used to pour the remaining wine in the salver upon the head of Imam Husain (a.s.)."
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) then continues, "Whoever is our Shia must abstain from barley wine and chess. One who sees barley wine or chess must remember Imam Husain (a.s.) and invoke curse upon Yazid and the progeny of Yazid. If a Shia does this, Allah the Almighty will forgive all his sins even if they are more numerous than the stars."
(Uyoon Akhbare Reza)
Betting With Articles Not Normally Used For Gambling
To lay bets with articles not usually employed in gambling is also Haraam. Archery and horse racing are exceptions to the extent that it is permissible only for those who participate in the sports to bet amongst themselves. Apart from these two games it is Haraam to bet in any other competition. For example, yatching, weightlifting, lancing etc. The income of the participant who wins is Haraam. He must return it to his opponent.
Horse racing and Archery
It is undoubtedly permissible for participants (and not for spectators) in horse racing and archery to bet among themselves. The winner can rightfully own the amount he wins. Islam has permitted these two competitions because such sports contribute to the overall capabilities of a warrior, and a Muslim well versed in these is better equipped to challenge his adversaries. The details could be pursued in the books of legal rulings.
Shaheed Thani in his book "Masalik" quotes the unanimous verdict of the Mujtahids. Three traditions are recorded in the book "Al-Wafi" from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) which state that except for horse racing and archery whenever a game is played for stakes, the angels are infuriated and curse the people who lay the bet.
It is recorded that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Angles are present when a competition of horse and camel racing or archery is held. Except for these three, every competition is gambling and (also) Haraam."
In another tradition, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has prohibited all types of competitions except these three.
"Except for horse racing, camel racing and archery, no contest is proper."
An authentic tradition by Muhammad Ibne Qays related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) issued a verdict against a man who had wagered with his friends on the maximum consumption of sheep's meat. Issuing the judgement Imam (a.s.) said, 'If you have already eaten the sheep, it is yours. But if you have only laid a bet and have not commenced eating, then you have to pay a penalty. This penalty is equal for all the participants and has no connection with who ate more or less. However, he refrained the loser to bear any loss (of money etc.). The one who ate the least and lost the bet will not incur any loss because the bet is invalid.'"
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) concludes that Amirul Momineen (a.s.) has decreed such a deal to be Haraam
(Makasib, quoted from Al Kafi and Tehzeeb)
. Hazrat Jabir (r.a.) narrates from the report of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) who has quoted from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"Every competition is gambling where the loser has to pay a certain amount. Even if it consist of a cashew-nut or wager dung."
To employ any article for the purpose of taking a bet is gambling even if such an article is not generally associated with gambling.
Game Without Wager
There is some difference of opinion among the Mujtahids regarding the games of competition that neither use tools of gambling nor are played with stakes. Most of the jurists consider such competitions to be Haraam.
Allama Hilli (r.a.) in his book "Tazkerah" writes, "Yatching competition is not permitted even if the loser may not have to pay anything. This is the unanimous verdict of the scholars."
Allama Hilli (r.a.) also states, "Competition of throwing stones with ones bare hands is not allowed. In the same way, racing any beast except horse and camel, yatching or racing of birds is not permitted even if a monetary bet is not involved. Cockfights and goat fights are also prohibited. In short, all those contests are prohibited that do not contribute usefully in the field of Jehad. For example, standing on foot for a long time, guessing games or number games, staying under water for a long time. In conclusion, except for horse racing and archery, no competition is permitted. Whether it involves a bet or not."
Certain Jurists like Shaheed Thani do not consider such games Haraam where the tools of gambling are not used and where a bet is not involved. He is inclined to permit such competitions. This opinion appears to be valid especially for a contest where the Haraam aspects of our religion are not compromised in any way or for a contest which has a specific aim like competition of calligraphy, reading, sewing, building, farming, etc. Athletics and boating can also be in the same category. But since most of the Mujtahids have prohibited all competitions except horse racing and archery, it is better to refrain from contests as a precautionary measure.
However even contests that can be considered permissible are prohibited if they involve a risk. For example, hazardous car-racing competition or gluttony and the dangerous methods of yatching are all Haraam for they involve risks.
Purchase of lottery tickets in the name of charity, where the money is not refundable and only a few people win money without any effort, is Haraam. It is gambling and a very great sin.
Fifteenth Greater Sin Music
Fifteenth Greater Sin
Playing instruments of music is a Greater Sin. It is Haraam to play instruments like guitar, piano, tambourine, drums etc. Listening to music is also a Greater Sin. Music as a Greater sin is reported by Fazl ibn Shazaan from Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.):
"And to be engrossed in musical instruments is also a Greater Sin."
All the Mujtahids are unanimous in their opinion that the manufacture, sale and purchase of musical instruments is Haraam and the income derived from musical activity is also Haraam. The transactions involving these (instruments) are invalid. It is Haraam even to keep instruments of music in one's possession. It is obligatory to destroy them. This is revealed in a lengthy tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as recorded in the book "Tohafful Uqool". Similarly, Shaykh Hurr al-Aamili records the following tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The Almighty Allah has prohibited the manufacture of all such things that are exclusively used in Haraam ways; and things that only create evil like pipe, flute, chess and all types of instruments of gambling, images, statues. The manufacture of all such articles is Haraam."
Imam (a.s.) concluded, "Then even learning to sing or play music and teaching it, to sing and play music, to be paid for these things or to be in any way engrossed in these vices is Haraam."
Music - According to the Traditions
Some more traditions prohibiting music are given below.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) reports from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"I prohibit for you dancing and playing flute, drums and tabla."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"The Almighty Allah has sent me as a mercy to the worlds, to guide the people. And He ordered me to eradicate the playing of flute and other instruments of music, all games of vice, idol (worship) and all practices of the days of ignorance."
(Mustadrakul Wasael, Chapter 79)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"A person who has received blessings from Allah and while having these blessings, he plays flute. It is as if he has been thankless of the blessings."
Every moment of our lives, we are enjoying Allah's unlimited benevolence.
Music Causes Shamelessness and Hypocrisy
The Sixth Imam (a.s.) has also stated,
"The playing of violin promotes the growth of hypocrisy in the heart like water assists the growth of vegetation (algae)."
Imam (a.s.) also says,
"If drums and cymbals are played at one's house for forty days, Allah will impose a satan by the name of 'faqandir'. The satans will infiltrate into every cell of the person's body. With the spread of this evil, the person loses all sense of dignity and self-esteem. He will then not care as to what he says or what is said about him. Then, this satan blows into this person. As a result, he becomes utterly shameless. So mush so that he is not concerned or affected even if his women are dishonoured."
It is usually observed that the people in whose homes music is played with regularity either using musical instruments or by radio or cassettes are absolutely shameless and wanton.
Musician and the Song
Muadda Ibne Ziyad says, "I was in the company of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) when a person said, "When I go to the toilet, I can hear the singing girls of my neighbour. Sometimes, I remain (in toilet) longer so that I may listen to more of it."
Imam (a.s.) said:
"Desist from listening to music and songs attentively."
Then this man further said, "Master, I do not go to music gatherings! I only hear the sounds!"
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Have you not read this Quranic verse...
"Surely, the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these shall be questioned about that?"
(Surah Bani Israel 17:36)
The man replied, "I was not aware of this ayat. I regret my actions. I shall not do so in the future. I repent for my past sins and I seek forgiveness from my Lord."
Seeing his condition, Imam (a.s.) said,
"Get up ! Go and perform ghusl and offer namaz and pray for forgiveness. You have certainly been involved in a deadly sin and a terrible situation. You have repented for it and I thank Allah for that; and I seek forgiveness of Allah for all those things that He dislikes. Certainly, Allah only dislikes the evil things. Leave the evil things to the evil people because there are different people suitable for different things."
(Al Kafi Chapter of Music)
Divine Bounties (Barakat) are Removed
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"Angels do not even enter a house that has wine, drum, tambourine or a flute. Even the prayers of the inhabitants of this house are unacceptable. They are deprived of barakat."
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) has said,
"To listen to a musical instrument is one of the Greater Sins."
The Blackened Face of the Musician
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated,
"A person who possesses a sitar, on the day of Qiyamat will be raised with a black face. His hands will be holding a sitar of fire. Seventy thousand angels with maces of fire will be hitting him on the face and the head. The singer will arise from his grave, blind, deaf and dumb. The adulterer will be similarly raised. The player of flute will also be made to rise in this way as will be the drum player."
It means that all such people will appear on the field of "Mahshar" (on the day of reckoning) as blind, deaf and dumb.
A House Where Music is Played for Forty Days
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) remarks,
"A person invites Divine wrath when in his house instruments like flute, drum and chess are played for forty days. If this man dies within these forty days, his death would be of a sinner and a transgressor. His place shall be in Hell. And what a dreadful place it is!"
(Mustanad al Taraqi)
Music and the Last Period of Time
The traditions concerning the signs of the last stage before the Zuhoor of our Imam (a.s.) mention music:
"And you shall see that music will be so prevalent that no one will dissuade others nor will he find in himself the need to do so. And you shall see that music would be openly played even in the two sanctuaries (the city of Makkah and Madinah)."
This is what we see in the present age where obscene music is openly played in the markets, on the streets, in shops and houses and even cars and no one bothers to prevent it!
So far we have mentioned the punishment of the hereafter for the sin of playing or listening to music. Now, we shall discuss the evils of music that affect life on earth. These evils too are numerous. Scholars have compiled complete books on this subject. For example we have the following books in Persian, "Munazrah Doctor-o-Peer", "Balahaee Ijtemai", "Mauseeqi-o-Islam", etc.
Effects of Music on the Nervous System
Expert Doctors, Scientists and biologists have defined two types of nerves, the principal nerves and the arterial nerves. The principal nerves stretch from the neck to all vital organs. The arterial nerves spread from the main nerves to all parts of the body. The secondary nerves are connected to outward parts of the body and convey the messages to the brain. When the veins enlarge the blood pressure decreases. Due to the shrivelling of blood vessels, the blood pressure increases. When the blood pressure varies at different parts of the body it affects the health.
When the secondary nerves work they produce heat whereas the functioning of the central nerves produces the opposite effect. It is due to these nerves that feelings of sloth, sleep, thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, grief, sorrow, fainting, unconsciousness and even death occur. Obviously, when music can affect various nerves, it can give rise to various maladies. Mental diseases as well as physical ailments can occur. These mental effects can destroy man's reasoning capacity. It is for this reason that one who listens to music is unable to perform work that can be accomplished by a sane person.
Music creates vibrations in the body and these are conveyed to all the parts of the body through the nervous system. As a result of this, indigestion occurs. Music affects the heart in such a way that the heartbeats become irregular. The blood pressure goes awry. All such ailments make a person permanently ill. Consequently, even modern medical science, in spite of its astonishing progress, fails in such a situation. Sometimes, the music is so intense that the listeners lose their sanity. They become dumb and various kinds of mental diseases occur. In places where music is more prevalent, we find that there are more neurotic illnesses. It is for this reason that more mental hospitals are to be found in Europe and America.
Dr. Adlen writes against music, "Even though it seems pleasant, the effect of music is profound upon the nervous system. Especially, when the temperature is high, the ill effect of music is more. This is the reason that ill effects of music are more in the hot areas of Iran and Saudi Arabia. The American people are so disgusted with the bane of music that they have united to demand from the senate a permanent ban on music. It is a pity that the whole world clearly perceives the evils of music and yet adopts music as entertainment."
(Refer to the booklet; "Tasir Mausiqi bar Asaab" Pg.3, 6,10)
Glossary Of Islamic Terms
Amanat : Trust
Barzakh : The intermediary stage between death and the Day of the Judgement
Dua : Invocation
Firon : Pharaoh (In this context Ramases II)
Hajj : Annual pilgrimage to Makkah during the month of Zilqad
Hijab : Statutory Islamic dress for women, veil, curtain
Imla : Respite given by Allah to the sinners in which they become more heedless of their sins .
Janabat : A state of ritual impurity that can be removed by performing ghusl (Bath)
Kafir : One who denies God
Maghrebain : The two prayers of Maghreb (early evening) and Isha (late evening)
Masoomeen : (Singular- Masum): Infallible
Misqal : A measure of weight of about 4.6 gms.
Mujtahids : Doctors of Islamic law
Mutawati : A frequently related tradition
Namaz : Salat or prayers
Oqooq : (Singular=Aaq): those who disobey or anger the parents
Qazi : Judge, jurist
Riyah : An act of showing off
Sadaqah : Voluntary charity, alm
Shab-e-Qadr : The Night of Power
Shiraz : A city of Iran
Taslim : Acceptance
Tuman : Currency of Iran
Wajib-e-Aini : An obligation that is to be carried out by every person
Zakat : Obligatory Islamic wealth tax
Zuhoor : Reappearance (of Imam Mahdi [a.t.f.s.]).