Author : Husain ibn ‘Ali ibn Sadiq al Bahrani


A Believer’s Conviction is Incomplete without Certain Merits Be informed that you are expected to emulate the Sunnah of your Lord, the most Exalted, the most Great, then the Sunnah of your Prophet (‘s), then the Sunnah of your Imam. Imam al-Rida (‘a) is quoted on p. 241, Vol. 2 of Al-Kafi as having said, ‘A believer does not reach the degree of conviction (iman) until he has acquired three merits: He follows a Sunnah from his Lord, a Sunnah from his Prophet (‘s), and a Sunnah from his wali (master, Imam).

As for a Sunnah from his Lord, he has to conceal His secret; Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, has said, ‘He (alone) knows the unseen, and He makes no one acquainted with His mysteries, except a messenger with whom He is pleased…’ (Qur’an, 72:26-27). As for a Sunnah of his Prophet (‘s), it is tolerating people. Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, ordered His Prophet (‘s) to tolerate people, saying, ‘Hold to forgiveness; command what is right.’ (Qur’an, 7:199). As for a Sunnah from his wali, it is taking to patience during trials and tribulations.’

One who is expected to emulate an Attribute of his Lord whereby He is praised, there is no doubt that he is prepared to assume a great status and a tremendous significance. It is so because Allah thus enables you to enter His abode which He chose and preferred for His friends, the elite ones, the loved ones, and it is Paradise. He, therefore, is bound to guide you to merits which make you look like the residents of such an abode so that you will be on par with the abode and with those who reside therein.

As for the abode itself, it is good and pure in the most perfect purity and light. Its residents are the prophets, messengers, martyrs and the truthful; therefore, the wisdom of the Wise One insists that there should be nobody inside this abode who looks like a stranger. Thus, you in such an abode will not look out of place. [34] Through His munificence and mercy on you, He does not want you to abide except in the good and pure abode; therefore, His Divine care insists on guiding you to the most sublime of attributes,

the most perfect, the most shiny, the most precious. He does not accept that you should emulate any merits except the ones which, due to their distinction, bring you sublimity and greatness, merits which He attributes to His own Self, praising thereby Himself. One whose merits are attributed to Him fits to reside in the abode related to Him. Since his neighbors in the said abode are friends of Allah, He has obligated him to adopt their mannerism.

It is then that the Creator, Praise to Him, shall address his soul, which is now good and pure, having adopted such good and pure merits, saying, ‘O soul at rest and satisfied! Return to your Lord, well pleased and well-pleasing to Him! Enter, then, [your abode] among My devotees! Yes, enter My heaven!’ (Qur’an, 89:27-30).

These merits are numerous. The Imam (‘a) selected three of them in particular to be given preference, so much so that he described conviction as hinging on them:

First: One has to keep his secret a secret because most people have shortcomings and are imperfect. But the attributes of perfection are so well known in their goodness, beauty and honor that people wish they have had them to adorn themselves by. Since they run contrarily to what the nafs wants, and since people’s determination to oppose their nafs is weak, they feel reluctant to struggle to achieve the above. But when they find someone with the determination to adorn himself with them, they worry lest he, indeed, should acquire them and thus become superior to them. Since the nafs does not wish to lag behind the peers,

actually it by nature wishes to surpass them, these people will try by all means to stop him from achieving his objective with their actions, statements and tricks. One person cannot confront countless people.

The One Who decreed the Shari`ah did not make a way for the believer to save himself from all of this except when one conceals his secret. He must not demonstrate what he is determined to achieve. It is then that he will be spared the evil of people. He will then be able to stay connected with that path.

Since Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), the skilled doctors and the kind men of wisdom, know that the evil-insinuating nafs is also one of the believer’s enemies, belonging to the same category like those that stand to block his way, they (‘a) greatly commended the believer to conceal his secret, explaining to him that doing so is one of the attributes of the Lord whereby He praised Himself, and that conviction hinges upon it.

What is meant here is to suspend self-resisting [when listening to Satanic insinuations]: the inclination of the nafs to show-off. The reason is that one to whom such an inclination is manifested will benefit therefrom, or he may be delighted therewith, or his advice or supplication may be solicited, perhaps he will convey such knowledge to those who may benefit from it. There may be other reasons why such a manifestation is sound. [35] Such hindering insinuations must be rejected if one is sound of judgment at all due to Allah’s will that he should hide his secret from them. He must confide his secrets only to the custodians of the secrets, the mysteries, of the Almighty. A wise person does not abandon the doing of what is more wise. He does not do anything except what is most perfect.

It is concluded from the above that the revelation [of one’s secrets] harms people and runs contrarily to wisdom. You, too, must follow the example of your Lord in dealing with wisdom. You must avoid what corrupts; otherwise, it is nothing but corruption even if it has the appearance of righteousness! Our master, Imam Ali son of Imam al-Husain (‘a), said the following to al-Zuhri:

‘Beware of saying what the hearts reject even if you have an excuse for saying it, for you cannot excuse everyone who rejects what you may say.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 71, p. 156).

Among the poetry attributed to the Imams (‘a) is the following:

The jewels of my knowledge shall I from people hide Lest an ignorant person should see knowledge and is therewith tried.

Before me, the Father of al-Hasan (‘a) said the same and why To al-Husain (‘a), having admonished al-Hasan (‘a) thereby.

Lord! If the jewels of certain knowledge I discharged, I with the sin of adoring idols will be charged.

Thus, some Muslims will find it fit to shed my blood, Seeing as good what is most abhorred.

Such knowledge is very well known. There are many incidents which condone hiding a secret and condemn going to extremes in propagating something. The conclusion achieved therefrom is that one who is dominated by love for secrecy and contempt for its revelation sees through the eyes of reason. When he sees an occasion to reveal, he reveals as much as he sees necessary. Thus, he follows the recommendations of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) who have said, ‘Do not convey wisdom except to those who are worthy of it; otherwise, you will then do wisdom injustice. Nor should you hold it back from those who are worthy of it; otherwise, you will then be unjust to them.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 2, p. 78).

Be admonished that the attribute of keeping a secret to yourself involves two issues:

One is that a believer has a secret to keep. The other is that he has the faculty of concealing and hiding to the extent that his own nafs will not over-power him so as to reveal and to publicize it. All of this involves the second. As for the first, suffices it what Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) once said to al-Mufaddal ibn Salih:

‘O Mufaddal! Allah has servants who deal with Him with the sincerity of His secret, so He deals with them with the sincerity of His kindness. These are the ones whose books of reckoning will pass by Him empty, so when they stand before Him, He shall fill them from the secrets of that with which they entrusted Him.’

Al-Mufaddal asked the Imam,

‘Master! Why is that?!’

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said, ‘He granted them a respite till the time when the custodians [of His secrets] become acquainted with what went on between Him and them.’

Our mentor, ‘Abul-`Abbas,’ namely Ahmed ibn Fahad, having cited this sacred tradition, said the following by way of comment:

‘Do not be unmindful about such lofty stations which are more precious than Paradise itself’ (as we read in `Iddat al-Da`i). [36] I say that it is to this meaning that a poet refers, having done well when he said, The hearts of those blessed with knowledge have eyes That see what onlookers do not see, And the Sunnah with secrets silently speaks What even the honored scribes do not know, And hearts fly with no wings To the domain of the Lord of the World.

All this is relevant to the first tradition.

Second: One has to tolerate people. It is a Sunnah narrated about the Prophet (‘s). We have already cited Ali (‘a) as saying that the one loved by Allah the most is he who emulates His Prophet (‘s). The wisdom behind it is similar to that about hiding your secret from people. Actually, the latter is one way to tolerate people.

Al-Kafi quotes Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying, ‘The Messenger of Allah (‘a) has said, ‘My Lord ordered me to tolerate people just as He ordered me to perform the obligations.’ He also cites his grandfather the Prophet (‘s) as saying, ‘Tolerating people is half the extent of conviction (iman), while kindness to them is half the livelihood.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 117). Then Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) commented saying,

‘Socialize with the righteous secretly and socialize with the sinners publicly; do not be harsh with the latter lest they should oppress you. A period of time will come wherein the only one who safeguards his creed is one thought to be not very smart at all. He accustoms himself to being called unintelligent, one lacking the faculty to rationalize.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 96).

The Imam (‘a) also quotes his grandfather (‘a) as saying, ‘If someone lacks three merits, he cannot accomplish anything: piety which shields him from violating the sanctities of Allah (‘a), manners whereby he tolerates people, and clemency whereby he responds to the ignorance of an ignorant person. (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 95). Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has also said,

‘One who keeps his hand from harming people keeps away only one hand while they will keep away from him many.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 96). So, my Brother, what some people, who claim to be on the right track and are pious, say that they do not care about people, that they do not need them, and that they take them lightly, up to the end of such statements which fall in the category of lack of toleration…, all of this is actually following one’s own desires. It is ignorance about the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) [37]. Many people confuse tolerating people with pretending to get along very well with them, imagining that the mandated toleration is pretension. But the difference between them is quite clear. Contemptible pretension is agreeing on making what is ugly look as though it were beautiful. Or it may be abandoning its rejection out of the desire to attain what they have, so that one may thus acquire some worldly benefits or win their hearts without avoiding a wrongdoing.

What proves the beauty of kindness and toleration is that it leads to everything good. Traditions are very well known about a Syrian man who spoke inappropriately to Imam Ali son of al-Husain (‘a) when the Imam was transported to Yazid, the curse of Allah be on him, in Syria. The Syrian said, ‘Praise be to Allah Who killed you, Who proved your claims false and Who relieved the people of your mischief.’ When the man finished his statement, the Imam (‘a) said to him,

‘O sheikh! Do you read the Qur’an?’ The Syrian answered in the affirmative. The Imam (‘a) asked him, ‘Have you read this verse: Say: I ask no reward of you for this except the love of those near in kin?’ The Syrian again answered in the affirmative. The Imam (‘a) asked him, AHave you read this verse: Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless (Qur’an, 33:33)?’ The old man again answered in the affirmative. The Imam (‘a) asked him again, ‘O sheikh! Have you read this verse: And give to the near in kin his due right (Qur’an, 17:26)?’ The Syrian also answered in the affirmative. The Imam (‘a) said to him, ‘We are the near in kin, and we are the family of your Prophet (‘s)!’

It was then that the sheikh raised his hand to the heavens, wept and dissociated himself from Husain’s killer [Yazid]. He wept and repented (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 45, p. 129). So, look into how kindness attracts one to righteousness!

Toleration means abandoning denial in order to avoid or minimize a wrongdoing, or it may be a precaution against initiating a wrongdoing; so, how can this be compared with that?! Toleration may be a measure to avoid the mischief of the person whom you tolerate, or it may be to attract him to righteousness. All these objectives cannot be rejected. Or it may be the outcome of fear, or to render something wrong ineffective. It is then that kindness, a smile, toleration of harm and rewarding evil with goodness is nothing but toleration about which Allah has said,

‘Repel (evil) with what is better: Then will he whom you once hated become, as it were, your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.’ (Qur’an, 41:34-35).

And it is similar to this verse:

‘… Speak gently to him; perhaps he may take warning or fear (Allah).’ (Qur’an, 20:44).

And it is like a statement by Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) cited in Al-Kafi as follows:

‘While the Prophet (‘s) was once with `Aishah, a man sought permission to meet with him. The Prophet (‘s) said, ‘How bad the [timing of the] tribesman is!. `Aishah, therefore, entered her chamber, and the Messenger of Allah (‘a) permitted the man to come in. When the man entered, the Messenger of Allah (‘a) received him with a smile on his sacred face and kept talking to him. When the man finished his talk and left, `A=ishah said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (‘a)! You were not pleased with this man coming to meet with you [at a very inappropriate time], yet you welcomed him with your smile and paid him your full attention! The Prophet (‘s) said, ‘The worst of Allah’s servants is one with whom you do not wish to sit on account of his sins. (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 246).

This is how one tolerates others. Such toleration is a sort of taqiyyah. Countless testimonials in favor of taqiyyah exist, so much so that the scholars of exegesis interpret the following verse as referring to it:

‘Truly the most honored of you in Allah’s sight is (he who is) the most righteous [muttaqi] among you.’ (Qur’an, 49:13), that is, the most fair in observing taqiyyah. It is even said that nine out of the ten portions of faith lies in taqiyyah as we read on p. 172, Vol. 2, of Al-Kafi.

Suffices you a statement in Al-Kafi by Hammad ibn Waqid al-Fahham who said, ‘I once met Abu Abdullah (‘a) face-to-face, but I turned my face away from him and kept going. After that I visited him and said, ‘May I be sacrificed for your sake! I meet you face-to-face but I turn my face away from you out of my fear to trouble you.’ He (‘a) said to me, ‘May Allah have mercy on you! But a man met me yesterday at such-and-such a place and said to me, ‘O Abu Abdullah!. Yet there was nothing good or beautiful about meeting him.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 173).

So, notice how the man earned the Imam’s supplication to Allah to have mercy on him when he did not greet him upon seeing him face-to-face, and notice how one did not take note of the Imam’s status, so the Imam was not pleased with him and said that Athere was nothing good or beautiful about such a meeting.’ [38]

From this incident and its likes, you come to know that a believer may abandon being gracious to someone when his action brings the latter envy and dissension. One may even be gracious to another by speaking ill of him as some Imams (‘a) did to some of their closest friends; it is similar to the incident when al-Khidr (‘a) made a hole in a ship so it might be spared confiscation by an oppressive king.

Third: Patience during the time of trials and tribulations. There is no doubt that life is a believer’s jail. Any jail producing something good is by itself good. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said the following to a man who complained to him about being needy:

‘Be patient; Allah will find an outlet for you.’ Then the Imam remained silent for some time following which he asked the same man, ‘Tell me, how is Kufa’s jail?’ ‘Not roomy at all,’ the man answered, ‘and it stinks. Its inmates are in the very worst of condition.’ The Imam said to the man, ‘You are already in a jail, and you nevertheless want to be enjoying ease while still being there! Have you not come to know that life is a believer’s jail?’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 195).

A believer may either be eager for the Hereafter, so the basis of his stay in life is that the latter feels like a prison for him in addition to the other calamities to which he may be exposed. [39] Or he may be one feared as having inclinations for this world, desiring what is in it, so the munificence of the most Wise One comes to disturb him with all kinds of problems so that he may find it [life in this world] repugnant and not feel comfortable therewith; it is the abode of the oppressors. Or he may be weak in his deeds of righteousness, obeying a little [of Allah’s commandments]. The munificence of the most Wise One comes not to deprive him of the garment of trials and tribulations. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said, ‘Had a believer known how many rewards he would have when afflicted with problems, he would have wished to be ripped off with scissors.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 198).

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said, ‘If a believer is tried with an affliction, and if he takes to patience, he will be rewarded with rewards fit for a thousand martyrs.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 75).

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has also said, ‘A servant of Allah may have a special status with Allah, the most Great, the most Exalted One, which he earns through one of two merits: his wealth may disappear, or he may be tried with an affliction in his own body.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 199).

Affliction, then, may either bring a believer rewards, thus elevating his status, or it may be his penalty and atonement, and both are good and liked by a man of wisdom. As for the rewards, this is quite obvious. As for the penalty, it is on account of narratives from Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) that Allah is too Gracious to penalize His servant twice [in the life of this world as well as in the Hereafter]. Anything for which He penalizes him in the life of this world, he is not going to penalize him for it in the Hereafter.

So, if a believer has to be afflicted, he has to be patient. Allah created patience before affliction; otherwise, a believer’s heart would have cracked like an egg falling on a solid ground. Imam Ali (‘a) is quoted in Al-Kafi as having cited the Messenger of Allah (‘a) as saying, ‘Patience is of three types: at the time of affliction, during the time of obedience [of Allah’s Commandments] and at the time of avoiding committing a transgression. One who is patient when afflicted till he is solaced, Allah will write for him three hundred degrees between each is like the distance between the heavens and the earth.

One who is patient while obeying [his Maker], Allah will write for him six hundred degrees, the distance between each is like the distance between the corners of the earth and the `Arsh. And when one is patient in order not to commit a transgression, Allah writes for him nine hundred degrees the distance between each is like the distance between the corners of the earth and the end of the `Arsh.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 75).

Al-Kafi also cites Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying, ‘We [Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)] are quite patient, and our Shi`ah are even more so.’ Someone said to him,

‘May I be your sacrifice! How can your Shi`ah be more patient than you?!’ The Imam (‘a) said,

‘It is so because we are patient about what we know, whereas they are patient about what they do not know.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 76).

Notice how kind Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are! Notice how they appreciate their Shi`ah, how the latter are rewarded even for the few calamities which are a fraction of those with which Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are afflicted. They want their Shi`ah to be attached to them so that they would not be separated from them. In the latter case, their Shi`ah would decrease in number and perish, for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) know that their Shi`ah cannot receive salvation except when Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) consider them as part of them, making their holy souls and those of their Shi`ah one in kind. It is then that there will be no possibility of rejecting the whole; everyone has to be accepted.

But if each person is judged individually, their Shi`ah will inevitably perish. Their ultimate concern, their earnest objective with regard to their Shi`ah, is that the latter become like them just as the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said, ‘One who emulates a people almost becomes one of them.’ (Nahjul-Balaghah, axiom 207).

Then they perfect all of this with their own intercession and with supplicating for their Shi`ah. For example, the supplication of the Imam of the Time (‘a), may Allah hasten his reappearance and make me one of his sacrifices, which was heard by the Sayyid son of al-Tawus. It is the one in which he, while being inside the vault, supplicates for the Shi`ah of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). Some of its text has slipped my memory. It includes the following:

‘Lord! Our Shi`ah are of us! They were created of the remnant of our mold and kneaded with the noor of our wilaya; so, place us in charge of their affairs, forgive the sins which they have committed out of their reliance on their love for us, and when their scales [of good deeds] become light, make them heavy with the surplus of our own good deeds.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 35, p. 303, narrated in various different wordings). [40]

Look at him, may Allah hasten his reappearance, and may He make me his sacrifice, and how he goes to extremes in mixing the Shi`ah with their Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) so that they do not get separated from each other. He once says that both were created from the same mold, and once he says that the followers, sins originate from reliance for salvation from them on love for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). And once he supplicates to his Lord to complete their shortcoming with the surplus of the good deeds of their masters and of those who love them.

So, brother! They know what we do not. They are the ones who have said, ‘Do not look at the act of disobedience; look at the One Whom you disobey.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 74, p. 77). Because of their knowledge of our disobedience, and due to the intensity of their fear for us lest we should perish, they have guided us to the path of salvation which leads to safety. This path is: exerting a real effort to emulate Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) as much as possible, so much so that one’s main concern should be not to forget about them for a twinkling of an eye. This is so on account of what Imam al-Rida (‘a) has said, that is, he is satisfied from a believer (mu’min) with his following of his master’s tradition. He means that such a tradition incorporates all other traditions.

Patience, then, in its three stages: during the time of affliction, during the time of obedience and during the time avoiding disobedience, leaves no tradition without including it. It has already been stated in the transmissions relevant to mut`ah that:

‘I hate for any man among you not to adorn himself with a merit done by the Messenger of Allah (‘a).’ The book titled Al-Faqih quotes Bakr ibn Muhammad who cites Abu Abdullah (‘a) saying that he asked the Imam (‘a) about the mut`ah. The Imam (‘a) answered,

‘I hate for a Muslim man to leave this life and there is one merit of the Messenger of Allah (‘a) which he did not do.’ (Al-Faqih, Vol. 3, p. 463). It is also narrated that a believer is not complete till he performs the mut`ah (Al-Faqih, Vol. 3, p. 466). Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), in an agreed upon tradition, is quoted as having said,

‘I hate for a man to die leaving one tradition of the Messenger of Allah (‘a) without practicing it.’ (Al-Faqih, Vol. 3, p. 466). [41] This proves that Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) do not wish their Shi`ah to neglect any of their practiced traditions. And if someone does so, he will be liable to do something hateful to them [i.e. smear their reputation]; may Allah protect us and our brethren from doing that, and may He enable us to bring happiness to them.

There is no harm here in pointing out to some of their traditions which they very much cared about, so much so that they upheld them and paid attention to them to the extent of treating them as obligations, perhaps Allah will enable us to emulate them in upholding these traditions except when there is a very strong reason not to, and in the presence of more serious obstacles:

Fulfilling a Promise: The way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) is that a believer must hold himself accountable to fulfilling his promise, out of his precaution against eventualities because of which he may fall into breaking his promise which, in their view, is quite serious. [42] As long as one cannot control unexpected events, he is not counted as a violator. If he makes a promise, he must uphold it and not falter. One who falters in fulfilling his promise goes against the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). Thus, he excludes himself from their motto, entering in the motto of others; may Allah protect us against such a situation.

What brings this notion closer to your comprehension is the will which the Prophet (‘s) made to Ali (‘a) to pay off his debts on his behalf [43] and to likewise fulfill his pledges. Had he not regarded his pledge just as he regarded a debt, and had he not held his conscience responsible for fulfilling it, his greatest excuse would have been death and thus inability to fulfill it; otherwise, he would not have needed to obligate his wasi [the Commander of the Faithful (‘a)] to pay off his debts [and fulfill his pledges on his behalf]. Indeed, a poet did well when he composed the following lines:

A good man is one who does good without a promise,
And one who fulfills a promise is half a man;
But if someone did not do either, he is a woman,
And half a woman is one who insists on so doing.

Be advised that what we mean by fulfilling a promise, which is the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), when obstacles arise and excuses become available, is the situation when one is still able to fulfill his promise. But in the absence of such obstacles, this goes without saying. Breaking a promise without an excuse is surely a defect in the individual and an ugliness even if done by the least of all people. Such a conduct is not worthy of inclusion among the attributes of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) which we would like to urge others to emulate. Other merits are:

Voluntary Benevolence Beyond and More than a Pledge: They treat this as an obligation. The Prophet (‘s) was always gracious in fulfilling his promise, that is, it was his habit, whenever he borrowed, to give to the lender more than what he owed him, so much so that he was very well known for sticking to this habit. As for his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), generosity is their demeanor and benevolence is their mark as we recite in the inclusive ziyarah. They were the embodiment of acting upon this verse:

‘Allah commands [the doing of] justice and benevolence…’ (Qur’an, 16:90).

It is said that Ali (‘a) emancipated one thousand slaves from his own personal toil (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 63, p. 320). He was not satisfied with just emancipating them, but he provided them with means of earning a livelihood as well. Also, once he promised a bedouin to give him four thousand dirhams, so he sold the orchard which had been planted by the Messenger of Allah (‘a). He, thus, gave him what he had promised him and a lot more (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 41, p. 45). Voluntary benevolence which exceeds the amount owed, or more than what was promised, has a way in winning people’s hearts even if its amount is small. It is understood, from examining the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), that they adhered to it. [44]

Self Denial Even While in Need: Allah Almighty has said, ‘… They give others in preference over their own selves, even though poverty is their lot.’ (Qur’an, 59:9). Be informed that if a believer does not uphold self-denial, making that a priority, he will sooner or later be overcome by his own ego, by the desire to oppress, to abandon equity, though it may be for periods of time. He will then stop being a believer (mu’min), for a believer is one from whose evil people are safe, unlike one who upholds self-denial. The maximum impetus of the latter’s nafs is that he should abandon such self-denial. So, if he does abandon self-denial, he will not abandon the basis of fulfilling his obligations. At any rate, he will be safe from committing injustice. [45]

All of this is a drop in the bucket, yet feeling satisfied with this much is better. Allah’s help do we seek; Allah suffices us, and how Great the One upon Whom we rely is!


[34]. These statements, if absorbed, can turn the worship of a servant of Allah from one resulting from an effort to overcome reluctance to the world of adoration which is in sync with the nature of the mood. Since He wishes the residents of this abode to be all in harmony therein, He loves anything which brings about such harmony. If adoration is a hard undertaking in its first type, it is clear that the worship of a servant will then be involuntary, a manifestation of affectation, earning nothing more than rewards, whereas the true adoration is expected to lift the worshipper to the state of feeling at ease with the Lord of the Worlds. Such an ease makes the worshipper forget any hardship resulting from the effort to earn His Pleasure.

[35]. These are beautiful portraits of how Satan makes wrong look right. He resorts to the method of decorating falsehood in order to make it look like righteousness. Here is the role of one’s insight which unveils such decoration; it is one of the requirements of treading the path to Allah Almighty. Such a decoration is possible in every stage of one’s path. It diverts him from what is more important to what is most important. It is, hence, obligatory on every servant of Allah, whenever he goes forward or lags behind, to study the other possible alternatives so that he may select what is better from among similar options. This is closer to acting in accordance with one’s actual obligation. This, in truth, is an act that pleases the Lord.

[36]. For a believer to have a secret in life is a matter which has been overlooked by most people. They have contented themselves with building for the life of this world without having a particular endeavor to do what brings them eternal happiness. Every believer who believes in another life wherein the fruit of his deeds will be manifested has to have one particular concern in the field of bringing about a distinctive connection with his Lord, which is the axis of all his activities.

It is clear that the nature of this connection varies from one servant of Allah to another according to what one has been given by the Lord of Existence of abilities till the matter reaches His loved one, the Chosen One (‘a) who had with him all certain conditions which neither a close angel nor a sent Prophet could bear.

[37]. This is a beautiful portrait of reality and of upholding the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) from the viewpoint of one who already does so. Holding others in contempt is one of the well known slippery paths in this field due to what the person who treads the path leading to Allah sees of the bright spiritual portraits which may distract him even from his obligation while dealing with people.

Actually, if he looks at people as being the dependents of Allah Almighty, and that benevolence to them is one of the manifestations of obedience to the One Who created them, he will never hold a single one of them in contempt, even if the latter may be disobedient to his Lord. It is well known that if all the links of adoring the Lord come to an end, the link of the Creator with the one whom He creates remains to the very end.

[38]. From this narrative and its likes do you come to know an important principle in the rules of dealing with people as required by Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). This principle is: taking everything into consideration when options abound. A believer opts for the most wise course of action, ignoring all others. Rationality, something which is advocated by numerous traditions, requires a believer to look into one matter from various angles so that, having done his calculations, he may arrive at the one which in the end pleases Allah Almighty the most, even when there are other options which please Him, too, but they are no match to his ultimate objective.

[39]. What a way this is to bring about a feeling of eagerness to those who are suffering from trials and tribulations! The compiler has clarified the effect of tribulation on all kinds of people, starting from the people of the Hereafter and ending with the custodians of the creed. But there is a huge difference between the effect of problems on the people who seek the Hereafter: It increases the latter’s eagerness to the abode wherein there is neither tribulation nor exhaustion.

It [adversely] affects the people who run after this life. It increases the rewards of those who inwardly feel closer to Allah. Such closeness is prompted by the Divine bliss which is relevant only to His friends, those who follow His Commandments, who are aware of His watchful eyes. It is from this onset that the Divine blessing descends upon those who are satisfied with their lots: ‘We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return.’ It is well known that the implication here is not simply that we shall be brought before Him [for judgment] without the existence of a state of link with the Absolute King, with the depth of belonging to Him.

[40]. Contemplate upon the depth of the emotional link between this Infallible Imam (‘a) of the Time and his subjects who shall be gathered under his banner. This should not make anyone wonder, for the Imam adopts the manners of Allah Almighty to the extreme degrees humanly possible. It is well known that the Imam-in-Charge (‘a), during his occultation, is not indifferent to what happens to the nation of his grandfather (‘a). It is so because he is the one who is most concerned about the events of this time in all their cycles, just as his grandfather the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) used to feel the pain suffered by hungry people in Yamamah or Hijaz or anywhere else.

From this onset, a person who truly loves someone does not add his own burden of worries to the burden already suffered by the person whom he loves. Rather, he tries his best to decrease his worries by doing whatever is required to remove the grief of his friend. Add to this how he goes far in supplicating for an ease for his hardship; surely there is no ease from hardship for all people except through his reappearance.

[41]. But one must not be unmindful with regard to the law of making the best option when plenty are available about what is commendable. The traditions, in their first text, call for good merits, leaving the evaluation of practicing them to the individual himself who should rely on his insight and knowledge of the other principles of the Shari`ah. For example, the traditions relevant to the mut`ah, which the compiler mentions, advocate the revival of this tradition which cures a lingering problem in everyday life which cannot be solved except through permanent or temporary marriage, or the alternative is adultery.

There is no comparison between what is haram and what is a Sunnah advocated by the Prophet (‘s) and by the Imams (‘a) from among his offspring. But, by way of comparison, we have to take notice of another text which explains the importance of paying attention to other comparable issues when we implement the Sunnah. The father of al-Hasan (‘a) is quoted as having said the following to some of his followers:

‘Do not over-emphasize the practice of mut`ah; rather, you should observe the Sunnah. Do not let it [mut`ah] distract you from your beds and lawful wives, or else the latter would disbelieve, dissociate themselves, complain about this practice and [even] condemn us.’ (Was’ail al- Shi`ah, Vol. 14, p. 450).

[42]. Notice the expression of the author, how he emphasizes this point although there is no proof from the Shari`ah that breaking a promise, because of an unexpected event, especially in the presence of the sincere intention to fulfill it, is haram. A believer who watches his conduct reaches a point where he avoids doing anything held by the Lord as ugly and contemptible, though it is not necessarily haram. He does so out of his apprehension lest he should incur the Wrath of the Master even in a degree commensurate with the extent of the deed. A lover is prompted by avoiding doing anything which the one he loves dislikes even if he is not obligated to do so as we, lovers in this world, do. So, what would you say about the love for the One loving Whom is the blessed result of His own munificence and favors?!

[43]. Historians estimate the debts left by the Messenger of Allah (‘a) at the time of his demise to be close to 400,000 dirhams which Ali (‘a) did, indeed, pay off during a number of years. __ Tr.

[44]. A believer has to absorb the philosophy behind spending in all its Shari`a-related and ethical aspects which include taking into consideration people’s feelings. He should bear in mind that what he spends is dealing with the wealth of his Master with the latter’s permission, even as he tackles the demands of this Master. So, there should be no amazement after that because what is worthy of amazement is spending from the real wealth, not from the purported wealth. This is why you find them spending while being fearful because they will return to their Master Who will ask them about what they had spent, including spending on commendable causes, because there is a possibility of something wrong with the way whereby they earned the wealth or how they spent it. One of the philosophical aspects of spending is that if one gives someone something by way of charity, he must not follow his giving with reminding that person of it, nor should he follow it with harming him. Doing so nullifies the requirements of benevolence, obstructing the possibility of its being replenished in the future.

[45]. This observation by the author is beautiful. He sets safe cycles for the believer further from the dangerous ones. He calls for self-denial which, were one to obey his own inclination to abandon it, will still maintain the basis of his spending security against extravagance. This is the way which has to be followed in all ethical fields; otherwise, one who seeks a path to Allah will permit himself to enjoy some permissible facets the legality of which is in doubt, such as talking nonsense or doing what is haram. His nafs will then entice him into looking at what is definitely haram.

Resigning to Destiny

Be informed, as we have already stated, that a believer ascends the heights when he emulates the Prophet (‘s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). It is narrated in Al-Kafi that the son of Ibn Ya`fur quotes Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as having said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (‘a) never said about something that had happened in the past, ‘I wish something else had taken place.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 52).

Notice how he (‘a) did not wish anything other than what was the reality, fearing to incur the displease of the Almighty. What a believer is required to do is to accustom himself to accepting the status quo no matter what. And be informed that the origin of displeasure, of wishing something other than the status quo, is ignorance of the wisdom behind events and why they take place. Had the wisdom behind things been manifested to him, one would not have desired anything other than what already is. If a believer accustoms himself to contemplating on the wisdom of things and on their purposes, a great deal of the same would have been manifested to him, and it would have been easy for him to accept them. If there are things which he cannot understand, he renders them to the most of what he does not know. [46]

There are purposes, and there is wisdom, behind everything. No matter how earnestly one implores his Lord, beseeching Him to show him some facets of a particular thing, He will show him according to his readiness to absorb, according to his ability, to the extent of his wish and will. This is the shortest way to resigning to destiny. As for being pleased with something [or some event] when the wisdom behind it is unknown, this is quite difficult, taking into consideration what we have already stated. It has been transmitted that our master, Imam al-Hasan (‘a) son of Imam Ali (‘a), taught one Shi`ah man about the world of dreams. He told him that he could get close to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and become able to see them (in his visions) whenever he wished if he acted upon the following verses:

Shy away from your worry,
All matters are rendered to destiny;
What is tight may become wide,
And what is wide may become tight,
The outcome of something incurring your ire May indeed bring you in the end a pleasing desire.
Allah causes whatever He does will So do not object to His will:

Allah accustomed you to see from Him goodness, So measure accordingly what already has taken place.

By my life, these verses contain a cure for every ailment were one to act upon them, and their zenith is being pleased with what Allah decrees: ‘And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.’ (Qur’an, 41:35).

These sacred verses, coming from the fountainhead of wisdom and the personification of infallibility, contain guidance as to how one can attain such a high status. Among such guidance is that one must shy away from his worries, for this is one of the greatest preludes to attaining such a status. Worries spoil the heart the most. A heart occupied by worries turns away from its Lord, becomes distracted from Him, Glory to Him, because of its worries and griefs. Thus, the heart is done injustice by distracting it from its Maker. The body will, therefore, collapse, and one may fall very seriously ill, leading to its damage and annihilation.

After despondency, the inability to tackle things, when hopes and aspirations are dashed, you find someone saying, ‘Everything depends on Allah,’ as if Allah entrusted him to his own personal measures which do not fatten anyone, nor do they put an end to hunger! All of this results from ignorance of Allah’s purpose, of the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), of feeling comfortable with what the evil-insinuating self is accustomed to. What Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have advocated is that a believer must accustom himself to avoiding worries so that his heart will be totally filled with remembrance of his Maker. Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, has said, ‘… those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah: without doubt, hearts do find rest in the remembrance of Allah.’ (Qur’an, 13:28).

When the heart turns to the remembrance of Allah, to His kindness, grace, compassion and mercy…, worries, griefs and depression flee away from it. The latter ills result from paying attention to the [evil insinuating] nafs, to doing things as it requires, the feeble that it is, to contraction, to bias in everything, to the desire to keep what is in its possession. [47] One must constantly remember his own single pit [grave]: Anything far from it is near, and anything hard is easy when compared to it.

Anything in comparison to it is one and the same. Its requirement is kindness and mercy; so, where are worries and griefs in comparison to it, and why should one then be so sad and depressed? If one feels sad about the past, it will never return. Whatever one lost will be compensated manifold. Perhaps what he lost was not a loss but a gain. One thing you lost for which you were compensated with a thousand, or with thousands, or with that which cannot be enumerated or will never deplete [as is the case in the Hereafter] is not lost at all.

So, Brother! Truly, there is no comfort for the heart except in the remembrance of Allah and no unhealthy palpitation except when one turns his attention to his own self, to a narrow world, to miserliness and stinginess, to despondency from the world of the soul, from the domain of comfort. Shying away from worries prompts one to direct his full attention to the ever-Living, the One Who sustains all, or it may prompt one to contemplate when contemplation does away with worries, wipes out depression. The least means to attaining satisfaction with destiny is turning worries and depression away from one’s heart, fully directing one’s attention to the domain of the Great One. It is then that we can witness His hidden manifestations of kindness clear and glorious, His guarantees that His servant will have sufficiently with regard to total or partial matters. This is manifested in this verse of the Greatest One, the most Exalted:

‘Does not Allah suffice His servant?’ (Qur’an, 39:36).

You have no alternative to rendering all matters to His destiny. Although Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, ordered us to uphold the causes, He did not do so at all except with the condition that one must not rely on such causes totally, thus abandoning reliance on Him. Rather, one should seek the means out of obedience to His Command. If these means become effective, their effectiveness is achieved through His permission, the most Exalted and the most Great that He is. But if they are not effective, a servant of Allah has carried out his responsibility and is under no obligation. A wise person must follow what his wisdom dictates. A servant of Allah must render any matter to His destiny, so he must be patient, surrender and accept.

If destiny brings something appreciated, then destiny is appreciated. But if it brings what one’s nafs does not like, a servant of Allah has to contend himself with the hope that there will be ease after hardship; otherwise, one may disbelieve [if he does not accept Allah’s destiny], and the space may seem to be straitened although it is quite spacious. The Wise One, then, is inclined to alter the conditions of His servant so that such a servant will not contend himself with one particular condition.

His goal is that His servant must have Him in mind in all circumstances. When one is enjoying ease, he must not feel secure against a change in a minute. He, therefore, has to keep Him in mind during that minute and every minute, and so on. [48] The same applies to hardship and deprivation. A servant of Allah will then be in a dire need for Him because of being unable and too weak to tolerate affliction. If the circumstances of such a servant of Allah have to alternate, one must receive solace from the fact that such circumstances do not last forever. They are fraught with change and alteration; therefore, one ought not depend on the happiness they bring him nor should he be elated by their ease. This is based on the verse saying,

‘… so that you may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor should you exult over favors bestowed upon you’ (Qur’an, 57:23). Add to the above, in as far as solace is concerned, the fact that most of these calamities are trials. When a worshipper’s condition becomes clear to be either patience, inability, disgruntling, and he gets to know the same about himself…, Allah will then lift that affliction from him and turn the outcome of his affair into ease. [49] And it is similar to the poetic line saying, The outcome of something incurring your ire May indeed bring you in the end a pleasing desire.

A test often happens when one is afflicted without a need for its prolongation. If the time period is short, and if its outcome is pleasing, the affliction can then be tolerated. As for the poetic verse saying Allah makes happen whatever he does will, So do not object to His will,

… it contains a warning against opposing Allah’s decree. The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) has said, ‘One who dawns depressed because of a worldly concern is actually angry with Allah’s destiny.’ (Nahjul-Balaghah, short pieces of wisdom, No. 228). Al-Kafi cites Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying that Imam al-Hasan (‘a) son of Imam Ali (‘a) met Abdullah ibn Ja`far and asked him, ‘O Abdullah! How can a believer believe if he is angry with his lot, degrading his own status, while the One to judge him is Allah?! I guarantee for anyone who is pleased with his lot that when he supplicates to Allah, his supplication is answered.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 51). As regarding his saying,

Allah accustomed you to see from Him goodness, So measure accordingly what already has taken place, …, it has the perfect contemplation on the beautiful things which Allah has for His servants, His great acts of kindness which, when a servant of Allah notices them, will cause him to realize on his own that Allah will not leave him by himself when catastrophes assault him. He will bestow upon him one of his acts of kindness whereby He brings what is dead to life and compensates for what is lost. This as well as the meaning before it are included in poetry attributed to our master Ali (‘a) and cited in Misbah al-Shari`a as follows:

Pleased I am with what Allah allotted for me, My affairs have I entrusted to the One Who created me, Just as Allah was benevolent to me in the past, So will He for what remains.

References to urging one to be pleased with his lot are innumerable. One of them is the famous qudsi hadith wherein Allah Almighty says, ‘There is no god but I. Anyone who is not patient when I try him, let him take a god other than Me.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 79, p. 132). Such a divine threat suffices to admonish any rational person and to bring an ignorant person to his senses. Al-Husain ibn Khalid quotes his father quoting his ancestors saying that the Messenger of Allah (‘a) said,
‘Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, has said, ‘Whoever is not pleased with My destiny, nor does he believe in the fate which I decree, must seek a god other than Me.’ The Messenger of Allah (‘a) has also said, ‘In each and every decree of Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, there is something good for the believer.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 68, p. 139).

Be informed, Brother, that ‘Allah obliterates whatever He pleases, and He fixes whatever He pleases, and He has with Him the Mother Book.’ When a fateful decree approaches a servant of Alah, it comes inclusively, that is, it may include a blessing in it, or it may include a condemnation, or it may appear to be a sort of trial and punishment. If the worshipper thinks well of his Lord, becomes optimistic and decides to accept his destiny, Allah will change what outwardly looks like a wrath into a blessing, reversing the situation, and vice versa. [50] Because of thinking ill of his Master, limited acceptance of destiny and intense anger because of the sources of trials and tribulation, a servant of Allah brings upon himself one affliction after another, turning the blessing upon him into Divine wrath and affliction.

Imam al-Rida (‘a), as we read in Al-Jawahir al-Saniyyah, cites his father citing his ancestor saying that the Messenger of Allah (‘a) said that Allah revealed to one of His prophets to ‘Tell so-and-so the king that I shall cause him to die on such-and-such [date].’ The prophet went and informed him. On his bed, the king kept supplicating to Allah till he fell from his bed saying, ‘Lord! Postpone my death till my son grows up, then take my soul away.’ Allah revealed to that prophet to tell that king that He agreed to postpone his death and add fifteen years to his life-span.

The prophet said, ‘Lord! You know that I have never told a lie.’ Allah Almighty inspired to him saying, ‘You are to follow My orders.’ The prophet did, indeed, convey this message to the king, and Allah is never questioned about what He does, as we read on p. 123 of Al-Jawahir al-Saniyyah. There is no doubt that keeping Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, in mind, seeking refuge with Him, thinking well of Him, initiating an undertaking with offering charity, supplication and joining the ties of kinship…, all this certainly causes a change in one’s destiny.

Lord! If I am counted with You as a wretch, or deprived, my sustenance strained, I implore You to write me with You as happy, receiving Your mercy, receiving my sustenance in abundance, for You have said, ‘Allah obliterates whatever He pleases, and He fixes whatever He pleases, and He has with Him the Mother Book,’ and do bless Muhammad (‘s) and his pure progeny (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 87, p. 135).

So, my Brother! How can a worshipper be displeased with his Master’s destiny?! Imam al-Rida (‘a) has cited his forefathers (‘a) quoting the Messenger of Allah (‘a) as saying that Allah says,

‘O children of Adam! You all have strayed save those whom I have guided; you all are poor save those whom I enriched; you all shall be annihilated save those whom I shall save; so, plead to Me, and I shall give you sufficiently and guide you to the right path of your guidance. Among My believing servants are those who can be improved [spiritually] only when impoverished: If I enrich them, wealth will spoil them. Among My believing servants are those who cannot be improved except if I grant them good health: If I permit them to fall sick, it will spoil them. Among My believing servants are those who exert an effort to worship Me, spending their night praying, so I cause them to be drowsy out of My own kindness to them. They would sleep till the morning and leave the bed self-loathing, self-indicting.

But had I permitted them to do what they wanted to do, they would have felt proud of their deed, so they would cause their own souls to perish on account of such pride and feeling of being pleased with themselves, thinking they have surpassed all worshippers and excelled in their endeavor beyond the limit of those who fall short. It is then that they grow distant from Me while thinking they are getting closer to Me. None should rely on their own deeds even if they are good, nor should the sinners lose hope [of My mercy] no matter how many sins they have committed. But let them trust in My mercy and hope for My favor. Let them be content with My looking well after them; I deal with My servants in ways which are best for their own good, and I am Munificent towards them, fully knowledgeable.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 68, p. 140).

Precise Observations: Ahl Al-bayt (‘a) Admonishing Their Shi`ah With Regard to Resigning to Destiny

Be informed that Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have sublime observations regarding resigning to destiny; so, congratulations to whoever pays attention to them and comes across them, for they are among their treasures which they have entrusted to the pages of books. Perhaps such books will reach those who realize their value, knowing how small in number these are. Indeed, few of Allah’s servants are appreciative. We hope Allah will honor this book if we put together in it what other books do not contain. Our main objective is to point out to what was not recorded, or critique what already is, if its source is not a pure well.

One of them is that they took upon themselves not to side with their own selves when they are afflicted. Rather, they receive affliction with resignation and patience till they receive the order to abandon what brought the affliction about and to shun it with supplication. This is why they sometimes appeared submissive to Allah, feeling heart-broken before Him, when they lose the most basic of things such as food and water although they could get anything only if they simply supplicated to Allah for it. This is only because they have restrained themselves and chained their nafs by not supporting its wishes with supplications. Instead, they prefer to be patient although they have the option to either persevere or side with their own souls [with supplications]. But according to them, patience is the best option, and they do not forget the first option till they receive the special order to give preference to one over the other.

The idea above is made clear in an incident which took place to Imam Ali (‘a) son of Imam al-Husain (‘a). One of his Shi`ah complained to him of want. The Imam (‘a) wept because of feeling so deeply for the man. The man asked the Imam (‘a), ‘Master! Is not weeping spared for major calamities and catastrophes?!’

The Imam (‘a) answered him by saying, ‘What calamity and what catastrophe is greater than a Muslim seeing his believing Brother in need without being able to help him?’ That Shi`ah man came out of the Imam’s meeting place puzzled. Then he heard that the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) were saying, ‘How strange these folks are! Once they claim that the heavens and the earth obey them, and that everything is at their disposal, and once they are unable to provide their own Shi`ah with the least amount of help!’ The same poor man went back to the Imam and said, ‘My calamity of hearing what these enemies of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have been saying is much greater than my poverty and extreme want.’ The Imam (‘a) said, ‘Woe unto them! Do they not know that Allah has friends who do not provide Him with suggestions?! O servant of Allah! Allah has permitted an ease for you from your hardship.’

The Imam (‘a) gave him food for his iftar as well as suhur. Thus, Allah swiftly removed his hardship, granting him a very large pearl which the man found inside the belly of a fish; he sold it for a large sum of money. The man returned both bread loaves to the Imam (‘a) (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 46, p. 20 with a variation of wording).

This incident is quite famous. The most important part of it is the Imam’s statement:

‘Do they not know that Allah has friends who do not provide Him with suggestions?!’ Similar to this incident is the case of Salman the Persian (ra) who was afflicted by the Jews beating him and saying, ‘Why do not you call upon Allah, Muhammad and Ali to speed up our perdition and thus save you from our hands?!’ He kept saying to them, ‘Patience is better. I rather plead to Allah to grant me patience, perhaps Allah will get out of your loins someone who will believe in Islam. If I implore Him to annihilate you all, such a believer will never come into being.

’ He did not curse them. This went on till the veil between him and the Messenger of Allah (‘a) was removed. The Prophet (‘s) ordered him to implore Allah against them, telling him that they would never produce a believer, as we read on p. 68 of the tafs’r work by Imam al-`Askari (‘a).

The case in the tafs’r work by Imam al-`Askari (‘a) occurs in the explanation of the verse about ‘those who believe in the unknown’ (Qur’an, 2:3). Anyone who likes may refer to it, for it is a timeless wonder. Nobody should find the case of Salman the Persian (ra) hard to believe because nobody should wonder about a man who emulated his masters so much that they told him he was one of them, Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).

In the same category falls the case of the mi`raj. The Prophet (‘s) was required to perform fifty prayers, and he did not implore his Lord to reduce their number till prophet Moses (‘a) suggested to him to do that. He kept imploring Him to decrease their number till their number was reduced to five. Moses asked him why he did not implore Him to reduce their number any more, whereupon he (‘a) said to him, ‘I am too shy because of imploring Him so many times.’

It was then that Allah inspired to him that ‘Since you are patient with regard to the five prayers, I shall regard them equivalent to fifty.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 18, p. 348 with a variation of wording).

The suggestion of Moses was to request the lightening of the burden. Prior to that encounter with him, the Prophet (‘s) did not like the idea to make such a request. The Imam (‘a) was asked, ‘Why did the Prophet (‘s) not ask Allah to lighten the burden before that?’ Actually, all prophets before ours (‘a) never implored their Lord to exempt them from having to endure some afflictions or strenuous responsibilities relevant to their nations. As for our Prophet Muhammad (‘s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), it did not happen [besides the above] that they ever requested exemption from any responsibility.

On account of their welcoming destiny, forgiveness is granted to them through the blessing of upholding what requires hardship and trial. Their Shari`ah, therefore, became the most light of all and the most easy, so much so that the Prophet (‘s) said, ‘I have brought you the tolerant and the easy Shari`ah.’

Aqil son of Abu Talib did well when he solaced Abu Tharr who was banished to the Rabatha desert. Ali (‘a), both al-Hasan (‘a) and al-Husain (‘a), as well as Aqil went out to bid Abu Tharr farewell. In order to offer solace to him, Aqil said to him, ‘If you plead for exemption from the affliction, it will be a sign of impatience. If you consider its removal to have been too slow, it is a sign of despondency. Abandon both impatience and despondency and say, ‘Suffices us Allah, and how good He is for help!.’ (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 22, p. 436).

You have already come to know that such lofty stations are well known about the few elite persons who kept Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) such good company that they derived from their lantern such noor.

Do not be discouraged by Satan from obtaining your share of such stations. Satan has inspired the people of our time, may Allah guide them, to say that ‘Such concepts are confined only to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), that they are specifically relevant to them; so, their implications do not include people like us.’ [51] By my life! These folks have strayed greatly, going further away from the right path. These stations, which our minds and imaginations cannot grasp, are for the slaves of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), even for the least significant of their slaves. As for the stations relevant to them, what a distance there is between Venus and the hand that stretches to touch it! What a distance it is from their dreams and the mentalities! Consider just this verse:

‘In the Prophet of Allah you truly have a beautiful pattern of (conduct).’ (Qur’an, 33:21).

Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) render the discussion of ethics and the meanings of norms of conduct to the Messenger of Allah (‘a), narrating them from him, urging people to emulate them, attracting people to them, never suggesting that anything attributed to him (‘a) is relevant only to him, so nobody should act upon it. Praise be to Allah! What an obvious fallacy!

It has been transmitted that Abu Tharr al-Ghifari used to prefer sickness over health because of the rewards therein (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 78, p. 173 in a variation of wording). One Imam (‘a) stated this fact then commented saying, ‘We are folks who prefer health over sickness. But when we are actually sick, we then prefer sickness over health.’ Such is the statement coming from the fountainhead of wisdom and infallibility. It attracts one’s attention to preferring the degree of resigning to fate, whether it is with regard to something loved or hated, over the preference of what is hated versus what is loved in the hope of attaining its rewards and out of eagerness for its compensations.

There is no doubt about it; despite its equivalent value to preferring what is hated and its being more liked than when a fateful event does take place, it furthers goes to prefer health over sickness and seeking it when it is not there. If one wishes for it out of his desire to earn its rewards, to feel pleased with it, so it becomes something very much desired, this is one of the lofty stations which only people such as Abu Tharr can attain. Otherwise, its suggestion is tainted with making a suggestion to Allah and objecting to His destiny. The Imam (‘a) wanted to remove this misconception and point out the shortcoming of such wisdom. Such is the station of true moderation, complete straightforwardness to the difficulty of which the Master of both Worlds (‘a) pointed out when he said, ‘One verse in Surat Hud caused me to grow gray hair.’ (Jawami` al-Jami`, p. 170),

a reference to the verse saying, ‘… therefore, stand firm (on the straight path) as you are commanded.’ (Qur’an, 11:112). Surely Allah has said the truth.


[46]. The insistence of a believer on a particular need springs out of his conviction of the final outcome of things, being convinced that the achievement of that objective will bring him happiness. The truth is that nothing was manifested to such a believer which would bring him such a certainty; so, what makes him insist on being displeased with what Allah has decreed in postponing the fulfillment of his need?! A servant of Allah who insists on his need being fulfilled accuses Allah, even if he may not be aware of it, with regard to His wisdom which decreed the postponement of the fulfillment of his need, or even of compensating for it in the Hereafter with many, many times as much, so much so that a servant of Allah will then wish not a single desire of his was ever fulfilled in the life of this world.

[47]. The problem of worries and depression causes hardship in one’s life especially during this century where man’s requirements have increased in number. One feels disappointed if he cannot attain them all, thus he falls into a crisis following this feeling of disappointment. The accumulation of such crises causes one to fall into a state of chronic depression and continuous worry. The only solution is what the author mentions: abandon greed, do not pay attention to anything which brings about worries and sadness by turning only to Allah Almighty. If one deems Allah Almighty as Great, everything else in his eyes dwarves. It is then that comfort, which is referred to in the verse above, is felt.

[48]. From this clear wisdom, it is known that if a believer invests calamity in dedicating himself totally to Allah Almighty, he will not only find calamity as a good companion, he welcomes such a calamity which drives him towards his Lord swiftly. This is why the friends of Allah are not perturbed during the most critical of times. Rather, this is one of the circumstances and conditions which people in this world cannot absorb, let alone comprehend.

[49]. This is one of the niceties of the author. He assigns for affliction one of these fruitful outcomes, then he inspires hope in the souls which do not want affliction to perpetuate. Says he, ‘If the fruit becomes ripe, when the result is out, Allah Almighty will lift the affliction the aim of which is the bringing about of one of these fruits.’ This means that one of the ways to earn a safe outcome is to attain these fruits prior to being afflicted by making an inward struggle, by quite often contemplating on one’s nafs, and by admitting before Allah Almighty of being helpless, weak.

[50]. This is the difference between commoners and the elite people. A naive worshipper who does not know the objective of the Lord and His wisdom in dealing with His creation combines the burden of the affliction and [the sin of] grumbling about it, thus losing this life and the Hereafter. As for the selected few, those for whom Allah Almighty opened the gates of His knowledge, these turn anything which comes their way in the life of this world, be it a blessing or an affliction, into sustenance for their Hereafter. What a difference it is between a deed the pleasure of which disappears while its burden remains and one the burden of which disappears while its reward remains!

[51]. The compiler has surely accurately diagnosed the wound when he pointed out to one of Satan’s greatest deceptions. What a distance there is between the confusion regarding the particulars of the path after one has walked upon it and the confusion which diverts a servant of Allah from the basis of the movement along the said path! This is the secret. Seeking a path to Allah Almighty has become an exception which only rare servants of Allah undertake. The basis was attachment and feeling comfortable with the life of this world, the running after its wares. One would thus feel satisfied by performing the least of his obligations, something which does not enable him to reach the essence of the Shari`ah. This is why you find those who reject the necessity of taking this path, the one called for by the Qur’an in the verse saying ‘… so let anyone who will, take a (straight) path to his Lord.’ (Qur’an, 73:19)

not enjoying the sweetness of leading a life under the Shari`ah in its norms of adoration, nor do they achieve perfection in the essence of its legislation.

Beyond Resigning to Destinty: Reliance on Allah, Submission to Him, Total Surrender to His Will Be informed that unless one looks into these venues and takes his share of them, he shall never taste the sweetness of conviction, even if such believer already has in them degrees and stations [reserved for him] according to the degree of his nearness to Allah. Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, has said,

‘Allah will raise to (suitable) ranks (and degrees) those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge.’ (Qur’an, 58:11).

A poet did well when he said,

Lord! A group wept out of fear of You,
Yet those who wept had no sin of their own,
But in order to seek nearness to You,
They weep hoping for such nearness.

Conviction (iman) is a higher degree than belief (Islam) when you compare such stations. The Arab bedouins lied when they claimed to have attained iman as we are told by the Almighty in this verse:

‘The desert Arabs say, ‘We believe.’ Say: ‘You have not (yet fully) believed; therefore, you should only say, ‘We have submitted our wills to Allah,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Prophet, He will not diminish any of your deeds, for Allah is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’

What an embarrassment! What a scandal will afflict those who will lie on that Day, claiming to have iman, calling themselves mu’mins, deceiving only their own selves when making such a claim! They ought to repeat what another poet has said:

Your nafs deceived you;
Not among those who truly love Him are you,
For those who are in love have many a mark and a clue.
We also ought to pay notice to one who says,
If you love certain people, walk on their path,
None reached there except those who severed ties except theirs.
We should also listen to the verse of the Almighty wherein He says,
‘Put your trust in Allah if you have faith.’ (Qur’an, 5:26)

and also this:

‘No, by your Lord! They can have no (real) faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance to your decisions, but accept them [such decisions] with the fullest conviction.’ (Qur’an, 4:65).

If iman is achieved when one relies on Allah and surrenders to His will, realizing their full implications, one must also exert his effort in strengthening anything upon which iman relies and upon whose axis it revolves. Such is the great emphasis in the sacred Book and in the sacred Sunnah for the believers: they should have a sound conviction and uphold all its requirements which we have enumerated. The most Exalted and the most Great One says, ‘O believers (in the Islamic faith), believe…,’ that is, attain your fair share of conviction so that your conduct must be up to par with it, so that you may enjoy its fruits. Those implied in this Divine call have already attained the minimum requirement of conviction, hence they are not urged to attain it. As for others, it is something extra, perhaps a luxury, and it is not defined.

There is a great deal of emphasis on the arranged order of the middle station, that is, the average individual who feels he surely believes, responding to the Divine Commandments and anything less than that. Anything higher than that is undoubtedly closer to one’s perfection of conviction. This middle station is known to be one of the requirements. Anything less than it is not to have the same label. One must aspire to what is always higher and better.

If you contemplate on this statement, you will not hesitate to roll your sleeves and exert your effort and determination to attain the handsome amount of conviction to the extent that you will be worthy of being identified with it. Such has been the advice of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as narrated in Al-Kafi which cites the Imam as saying,

‘You cannot be righteous till you acquire knowledge. You cannot acquire knowledge unless you are truthful. You cannot be truthful unless you believe. These are four chapters the first of which cannot be sound without its precedent. Those who uphold only three of them stray from the right path a great deal.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 39).

Also, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), as we are told in Al-Kafi, is quoted by Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) who cites his forefathers (‘a) quoting the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) saying, ‘Conviction (iman) stands on four corners: reliance on Allah, surrender to His will, acceptance of His destiny, and yielding to the Commandment of Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great.’ ( Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 47).

Also, this has been explained and clarified by our master Musa ibn Ja`far (‘a) as quoted in Tuhaf al-`Uqul when he said, ‘Anyone who is granted by Allah the power for reasoning ought not accuse Him of being slow in providing him with sustenance, nor should he accuse Him with regard to His decrees.’

He (‘a) was asked about sure conviction (yaqin). He said, ‘It is when one relies on Allah, surrenders to Allah, accepts Allah’s decrees and entrusts his affairs to Allah.’ (Tuhaf al-`Uqul, p. 408). The Messenger of Allah (‘a), too, attracted our attention to the conditions and attributes required for iman and what is lacking in one in order to reach the status of becoming a wali of Allah. Al-Kafi cites Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) quoting his grandfather the Messenger of Allah (‘a) as saying, ‘One who knows Allah and deems Him Great stops his tongue from speaking, his stomach from food and concerns himself with fasting and praying.’ People said to him,

‘O Messenger of Allah! May you be sacrificed with our parents, are such people really the walis of Allah (‘a)?!’

He (‘a) said, ‘The walis of Allah remained silent, hence their silence was [an indication of] their remembrance of Allah. They cast a look, hence what they saw was a source of admonishment for them. They spoke, hence their speech was wisdom. And they walked, hence their walking among the people was a blessing (to those people). Had it not been for the life-terms pre-assigned for them, their souls would not have settled in their bodies out of their fear of the torment and out of eagerness for the rewards.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 186).

So has our master Imam Ali son of Imam al-Husain (‘a) who attracted our attention to what belief and knowledge of the Almighty require, characteristics whereby a believer and his knowledge of the Almighty are gauged, saying, according to p. 317 of al-Tibrisi’s book Al-Ihtijaj (with a variation of wording), by way of poetic verses thus:

Whoever knows Allah, but such knowledge
Does not avail him, is surely a wretch,
What would one do with the rich man’s prestige
While all prestige belongs to the righteous man?
What harm can touch a man of obedience
So long as he obeys Allah?

The basis of all good things, the axis upon which all matters revolve in as far as these requirements are concerned, is that one must continuously watch his conduct under all circumstances lest he should disobey Allah. He [Allah] must never be out of your sight, for you are never out of His. [52] And it is implied in the following statement by the Prophet (‘s) to Abu Tharr:

‘Worship Allah as though you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He sees you.’ (al-Tusi’s, Amali).

According to another hadith, the Prophet (‘s) said, ‘If you see that He seeks you, yet you still disobey Him, you would then be holding Him with the least regards.’ So, if you keep being mindful of Allah, abandoning the entanglements which distract you from directing your full attention to Allah, you will surely then witness His kindness, how He looks after you, how He is kind to you, how He overlooks your faults, hides them from others, replaces your faults with merits, rewards your sins with many times their number in good deeds…, your love for Him will then be firmly established in your heart. Your senses will willingly obey Him just as anyone obeys those who are benevolent to him. The hearts are bent on loving those who are benevolent to them; so, what would you say about this great Benevolent One, the most Affectionate, the most Merciful?!

It is because of the above reason that your soul shuns the doing of anything with which He is displeased. It feels too shy to reward benevolence with wrongdoing, or on account of feeling in awe of Him when His Greatness takes control of your heart, or out of fear of His signs being cut off from you. It is similar to what the poet implies when he says the following:

When enjoying a blessing, you should look after it, For acts of disobedience remove the blessings.

The same it is when He looks unto you; from your vision, everyone else besides Him diminishes; so you see none who helps or harms besides Allah, Glory and Exaltation to Him. Anyone else besides Him does whatever he does only with His permission. When hearts turn away from Allah Almighty, they cling to these causes because they forget Who causes them; otherwise, when they remember Allah and accept His guidance, they will not consider turning to anyone else, or entirely cling to anyone besides Him.

This, as far as the minds are concerned, is instinctive. When one is able to obtain help from the strongest source, how can he still cling to the weakest, nay, to what is nothing compared to Him, especially when, in the latter case, to one who will be deprived of the help of the Most Mighty of all?! A poet once said, One who seeks help from `Amr, in the time of need, stands Like one fleeing from fire by seeking refuge with burning sands.

Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (‘a) was placed in the catapult and was hurled into the fire when Gabriel (‘a) offered to help him saying, ‘Brother Ibrahim! Do you need any help?.’ ‘Not from you,’ answered Ibrahim. Hence, Allah Almighty caused the fire to be cool and safe to him (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 12, p. 33), revealing in his honor the following verse:

‘… and of Abraham who fulfilled his obligations.’ (Qur’an, 53:37). This happened to prophet Abraham because he turned only to Allah Almighty while being in such a condition. Because of His status, He suffices for all other causes. He dedicated his entire attention to the One Who causes every causation. The mark of his truthfulness is the honesty of his heart, its absence of confusion when all other means were there; actually, whether they were there or not, it would not make any difference. I even heard one of those endowed with knowledge, may Allah elevate his status and raise his standards in both worlds, saying that perhaps he would be disturbed when causes are there, but when they are gone, his heart will be at ease, and he will no longer be disturbed.

These are the highest stations of reliance on Allah and the most truthful. It is as though the reason for the disturbance is the presence of causes: It is the direction of the Divine Command upon noticing the causes. When one notices them but not depends on them, it is quite understandable and normal; so, it is not out of the ordinary when one’s heart is disturbed according to the extent of his assessment of them or of how much he thinks about them. Once they are removed, and the heart directs its attention to one single direction, it will be calm and serene at the mention of Allah; thus has Allah described in His Glorious Book:

‘… Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah; without doubt, hearts do find rest in the remembrance of Allah.’ (Qur’an, 13:28).

Also, a mark of his truthfulness is that his heart is not affected by one who does not respond favorably to Him when He calls upon him [to obey His Commandments]. Rather, one’s condition should be the same like someone who once wrote a ruler requesting him to give him of the sustenance with which Allah entrusted him. He did well when he wrote him as saying, ‘Give me, for Allah is the One Who gives. He has enabled you to be a giver of goodness. But if you withhold it from me, Allah is the One Who withholds, and there is no harm on your part; do not forget your share of the life of this world and be good just as Allah has granted goodness to you.’

A person who looks to the One Who causes the causation, the One Who holds the means of all things, he does not feel angry in their regard. Yes, if one whom Allah enables to be a giver and who does not give, surely does not cease to be a tool in His hand. The true Giver of goodness has fixed with Him the right to reward you, obligating you to thank whoever gives you. Actually, He does not accept your thanking Him except if you thank the person whom He enabled to give you. [53] This is a great principle overlooked by some of our pious brethren.

They focused on Allah, so they do not regard His creatures as having one single right obligating benevolence which Allah enables them to undertake. This is a very serious error and a great deal of confusion as well as ignorance of the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). This way [and only this way] is compatible with reality. An example about the way of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) occurs in Al-Kafi where Imam Ali son of Imam al-Husain (‘a) is quoted as having said,

‘On the Day of Judgment, Allah will ask His servant, ‘Did you thank so-and-so’. He will answer Him by as saying, ‘No, Lord, I thanked You instead.’ Allah will then say, ‘You did not thank Me since you did not thank him.’ The Imam (‘a) went on to say, ‘The most appreciative among you is one who appreciates people the most.’ (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 81).

This text is quite clear as we have transmitted it.

As for the conflict of this whimsical false charge with the reality, its basis springs out of the commoners as well as those who are stubborn and who say, ‘We thank You, Lord, and we do not recognize any right for these intermediaries.’ Allah rejects their argument and does not accept their thanks except if they thanked those whom He enabled to be good to them. Thus, He made the way to thank Him the recognition of those whom He enabled to be benevolent to others, making these benevolent folks the gate to Him; whoever does not approach Him through the gate will be dismissed and expelled.

The same applies to spiritual knowledge and to means of expressing obedience to Allah. The commoners wanted to approach Allah without the intermediaries: Muhammad (‘s) and his righteous and pure Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). [54] Allah rejected it, conditioning His acceptance on the recognition of His friends, on learning from them, referring to them, paying attention to them. Anything earned through any means other than through them is rejected to its source and will be a problem to the latter.

Denying the favor of benevolent individuals who, from among all people, hold the keys to giving, is a branch of this condemned false charge which has found its way to the hearts of some of our righteous fellows who did not pay attention to their source and to the truth. We have now removed the veil from them so that one may be guarded against falling into its traps, and surely Allah is the One Who is the Protector. I would like in this chapter to quote a wonderful, curing and satisfying tradition on which I stumbled in Tuhaf al-`Uqul by the virtuous al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Shu`bah, one of our early fellows. Even our mentor al-Mufid (ra) quotes this same book, a book the like of which time has not permitted to be written yet. Here it is:

A man once visited Imam al-Sadiq (‘a). The Imam (‘a) asked him, ‘Who is the man from?’

The man said, ‘One of those who love and are loyal to you [Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)].’ Al-Sadiq (‘a) said,

‘Allah does not love a servant of His unless He takes him for a wali (friend), and once He takes him as His wali, He accepts nothing for him less than Paradise. From among whom of those who love us are you?’ The man kept silent. Sadeer asked the Imam (‘a), ‘How many [types] are those who love you [Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)], O son of the Messener of Allah (‘a)?’ The Imam (‘a) said,

‘They are of three types: one which loves us openly but does not love us secretly; one which loves us secretly but does not love us openly, and one which loves us secretly and openly: These are the ones who are the highest of all. They drank of the purest of drinks, learned how to interpret the Book [of Allah] and the wisdom of speech as well as the causation of every cause; they are the highest rank. Poverty and want as well as various types of afflictions are more swift in reaching them than racing steeds.

Trials and tribulations affected them, and they were shaken tremendously; so, some of them were wounded while others were slaughtered. They are dispersed in every distant land. Through them does Allah cure the sick and enrich the destitute. Through them are you to receive victory. Through them do you receive the rain and the sustenance, and they are the least in number and the greatest in esteem and significance with Allah. As for the second class, the lesser one, it includes those who love us publicly and yet do what kings do. Their tongues are with us while their swords are drawn against us.

As for the third class, the middle one, it includes those who loved us secretly but did not love us openly. By my life! How I wish they truly loved us secretly rather than openly! Such are those who fast during the day and spend the night in prayers. You can see the mark of asceticism on their faces; they are the people who willingly surrender to their Lord and uphold His Commandments.’

The man said, ‘I am one of those who love you secretly and openly.’ Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said, ‘Those who love us secretly and openly have marks whereby they are identified.’

The man said, ‘What are these marks?’ The Imam (‘a) said, ‘These are characteristics the first of which is that they know Tawhid as it should be known; they perfect the science of Unifying Him; they then believe in how He is and what His attribute is. Then they come to know the definitions of iman, the facts about it, its conditions and interpretations.’

Sadeer said, ‘O son of the Messenger of Allah! I never heard you before describing iman like that!’ The Imam (‘a) said, ‘Yes, O Sadeer! An inquirer ought not ask about iman before first knowing in whom he has to believe.’ Sadeer said, ‘O Son of the Messenger of Allah! Could you please explain what you have just said?’ Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said,

‘Anyone who claims he knows Allah by what his heart tells him is mushrik. Anyone who claims he knows Allah by name without knowing exactly what the name means admits that he has cast doubt about Him because a name is created. One who claims he worships the name and the meaning attributes a partner to Allah. One who claims that he worships the attribute not with his true realization refers to someone who is not there. One who claims that he worships the attribute and the One to Whom it is attributed violates the principle of Tawhid because the attribute is something while the One to Whom it is attributed is someone else. One who claims he adds the One described to His description minimizes a Grand One: ‘They underestimate Allah…’ (Qur’an, 6:91).’

It was said to him, ‘Then what is the path to Tawhid?’ He (‘a) said, ‘The means of the research are available. Seeking the outcome exists. One can know what he sees prior to someone else describing it for him. One can get to know the description of someone absent before seeing him in person.’

It was said to him, ‘How can we get to know what we witness prior to being informed of one’s attribute?’ He (‘a) said, ‘You get to know Him; you get to know about His knowledge and identify yourself through Him. You cannot identify yourself by yourself on your own. You will know that what is in Him is His and is through Him just as they said to Yousuf: ‘Are you indeed Yousuf?’ He said, ‘I am Yousuf, and this is my brother.’ (Qur’an, 12:90).

So they identified him [Yousuf] by his own person, not by [comparing him with] some other person, nor did they become convinced that it was he simply because their hearts suggested so to them. Have you not noticed how Allah says, ‘It is not in your power to cause the growth of its trees.’ (Qur’an, 27:60)? He means: You do not have the option to install an Imam by your own selves then call him righteous through your own whims and self-wills.’

Then Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) added saying, ‘Three persons to whom Allah shall not speak on the Day of Judgment, nor will He look upon them, nor will He purify them, and they shall receive a painful torment: One who plants a tree which was not planted by Allah (i.e. one who installs an Imam who was not appointed by Allah), one who denies the authority of someone appointed by Allah, and one who claims that both these persons have a share in Islam although Allah has already said, ‘Your Lord creates and chooses as He pleases: They have no choice (in the matter).’ (Qur’an, 28:68).

As for the description of iman, the Imam (‘a) said, ‘The meaning of the attribute iman is: admission of and submission to Allah through the humility of thus admitting, seeking nearness to Him through His help, carrying out the responsibility towards Him with regard to anything small or big, starting from Tawhid and ending with anything less, up to the last venue of obedience to Him, one after the other. All this is inter-connected one to another, each linked to the other.’

So, if a servant of Allah performs what Allah has obligated him to perform, the knowledge of which having reached him as we have described above, then he is a believer (mu’min) worthy of the attribute of iman, deserving to be rewarded. The meaning of iman as a whole implies admission of acceptance to be wholly obedient of every commandment, small or big, each linked to the other; thus, a believer does not get out of the cycle of iman except when he abandons the doing of that in which he himself believed. He earned and became worthy of being called a mu’min after having carried out his major obligations, each linked to the other, avoiding and abandoning the committing of major sins. If he abandons minor acts of obedience,

committing minor acts of disobedience, he does not get out of the cycle of iman, nor is he regarded as having abandoned it unless he abandons the performing of major acts of obedience and does not commit any major act of disobedience. As long as he has not done so, he is a believer on account of this verse:

‘If you (only) avoid the most heinous of the things which you are forbidden, We will drive out all the evil in you and admit you into a gate of great honor.’ (Qur’an, 4:31),

referring to His forgiveness of what is less than a major sin. If one commits a major sin, he will be held accountable for having committed all other sins, small and big, and he will be tormented because of them, as we are told on p. 325 of Tuhaf al-`Uqul. This concludes what we liked to cite. The text continues; those who wish to refer to it may do so. It includes categorizing love for Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), an attribute which is the mark of iman and from which iman diversifies. This, indeed, is a tradition like no other.

Such knowledge is not incorporated in one single tradition, although traditions put together will convey the gist of this sacred tradition. Such are the traditions of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a): each one of them explains the other. None of them contradicts the other. One may see ‘differences’ in them when he is ignorant of the areas which preceded their explanations.

Believers are of Various Degress Distinguishing One from the Other With Regard to Their Limits This chapter deals with the many different degrees of iman and each mu’min’s share thereof. Al-Miqdad, may Allah be pleased with him, occupies the eighth degree, while Abu Tharr [al-Ghifari], may Allah be pleased with him, occupies the ninth. Salman, may Allah be pleased with him, occupies the tenth, and so on.

In Al-Kafi, `Abdul-Aziz al-Qaratasi is cited as having said, ‘Abu Abdullah (‘a) said to me, ‘O `Abdul-Aziz! Iman falls into ten degrees: it is like a ladder, one step is ascended after the other. Nobody, therefore, who occupies the second should say to the one who occupies the first: ‘You do not have anything!= till he ascends to the tenth. So, do not look down upon one who is below you or else he who is above you may cause you to slip and fall. When you see someone occupying a degree less than yours, raise him kindly to you, and do not over-burden him so you may cause him to break, for anyone who causes a believer to break has to rejoin what he breaks. (Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, p. 37).

Surely Allah blesses Muhammad (‘s) and the Progeny of Muhammad (‘s), the righteous ones, the purified.

Destiny has hindered the completion of this work; so, I plead to Allah, the King, the all-Knowing, to grant us those who will complete this speech; surely none loses hope of His mercy except those who are mean.



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