The Life of Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin
By: Bāqir Sharif al-Qarashi

P. 332 – 375

The following tradition is one of the Imām’s wise sayings. In it the Imām defines man’s justice and reliability. He, peace be on him, said: “If you see a man show good appearance and guidance, goes too far in his words, and pretends obedience through his movements, then be slow, let him not deceive you. Many are those who are incapable of obtaining the world and committing the unlawful therein. As he is frail in body, abased, and fainthearted, he sets up religion as snare for himself. He is still deceiving men through his appearance. When he is capable of an unlawful thing, he plunges into it. If you see him show chastity toward unlawful property, then be slow, let him not deceive you. For the desires of the creatures are various. Many are those who affect refusal toward the unlawful, though be it much. He carries himself on an ugly, ill-omened horse, and commits an unlawful thing through it. If you see him in such a state, then be slow, let him not deceive you, until you see the firmness of his intellect. Many are those who leave all of this, then they do not return to firm intellect, hence what they corrupt through their ignorance is more than what they set right through their intellects. If you find his intellect firm, then be slow, let him not deceive you, until you see whether his caprice overcomes his intellect or his intellect overcomes his caprice, whether he loves false presidency or abstains from it. For some people leave the world for the world. They think that the pleasure of false presidency is better than that of lawful properties and blessings, hence they leave all of this and seek presidency. When it is said to him, fear Allah; pride carries him off to sin; therefore hell is sufficient for him; and certainly it is an evil resting-place. He behaves at random. His first falsehood leads him to the utmost loss. His farfetched demand take him to what he cannot accomplish through his tyranny. Hence he makes lawful what Allah has made unlawful. He makes unlawful what Allah has made lawful. He pays no attention to his religion when it escapes him, as long as he assumes presidency, for which he has tired himself. Then, it is those with whom Allah has become angry, whom He has cursed, and for whom He has prepared a painful chastisement.

“However, the best man is he who makes his caprice follow Allah’s command, uses his abilities according to Allah’s decree, regards abasement during the truth as nearer to immortal glory than false glory, and knows that its little ordeal, which he bears, leads to permanent bliss in an abode which does not perish nor does it run out, whose plentiful joy will follow him. When he follows his caprice, it leads him to a chastisement which does not cease nor does it remove.

Hence cling to this man, follow his sunna (practices), and seek access through him to Allah, for his supplication is not refused nor does his demand fail.[*]”

This tradition of the Imām, peace be on him, aims at recognizing justice, which is among the greatest psychological talents, for through it man becomes sublime, and gets free from material things and pleasures to the extent that evil inclinations will have no power over him. Some jurists depend on this tradition when the say that the general authority should be the most generous one.[1]

The tradition clearly indicates that recognizing the just man, perfect in piety and Allah-fearingness, should stands on an exact test and full experience, not on a quick glance of which is the following:

A. Good appearance, for it is not proof for justice and Allah-fearingness.

B. Displaying righteousness, it also is not proof for justice, for he may be a deceiver and hypocrite, using the religion as means to obtain his objectives, his ambitions, and his desires after he has become unable to obtain them through other means.

C. Abstaining from unlawful properties, this also is not proof for Allah-fearingness, for he may force himself to prevent from this in order to accomplish his objectives and purposes, which have no relationship with the religion.

As for the qualities through which perfect piety and reliability are recognized, they are as follows:

A. Man should overcome his caprice and desires through his intellect.

B. He does not show love for false presidency; he should renounce it, for this is among the most reliable proofs for justice and Allah-fearingness.

C. He should follow Allah’s commandments and yield completely to Him, the exalted, to the extent that he employs all his abilities to attain Allah’s good pleasure and nearness to Him. This is indeed a just man, whose justice results from thanksgiving, contemplation, and faith.

The Qualities of Hypocrites and Believers

The Imām, peace be on him, stated the following tradition, explaining some qualities of hypocrites and believers. He said: “The hypocrite prohibits (men from doing evil deeds), but he does not (refrain from them). He enjoins (men to do good deeds), but he does not do (them). When he stands for prayers, he objects (its legislation). When he bows down (in prayer), he shows laziness. When he prostrates himself (in prayer), he pecks (i.e. he performs prostration as quick as bird peck at the corn). When he enters into evening, his concern is dinner. He does not fast. When he rises in the morning, his concern is sleep. He does not stay awake at night.

“As for the believer, he mixes his knowledge with his clemency. He sits in order to learn and listens in order to be free (from faults). He does not tell anyone about trust even his friends. He does not conceal witness for those far. He does not do any of the truth for dissimulation nor does he leave it out of modesty. When men praise him, he is afraid of their words. He asks Allah’s forgiveness for what they do not know. Those who ignore him do not harm him.[2]” This tradition of the Imām, peace be on him, includes the most prominent qualities of hypocrites and believers. As for the qualities of hypocrites, they are as follows:

A. The hypocrite forbids (men) from doing evil deeds, but he does not abstain from doing them. He enjoins (men) to do good deeds, but he himself does not do them. This is because he does not believe in such deeds. He forbids (men) from the evil and enjoins (them) to do the good in order to deceive and mislead them and in order to show himself as a good person.

B. When he stands for prayers, he opposes its legislation. Besides, when he bows down in prayer, he kneels down as sheep do. When he prostrates himself in prayer, he is restless. He is like bird when it pecks at the corn.

C. He is like the cattle whose concern is fodder. In this manner he rises in the morning and enters into evening, and has no concern except food.

As for the qualities of the believer, they are as follows:

A. His character is composed of two elements: knowledge and clemency. Hence he is scholar and clement. He who has these two qualities reaches the highest degree of perfection.

B. He does not sit with any person except those from whom he takes knowledge and wisdom. He never joins useless amusement and unemployment assemblies.

C. He listens to men in order to save himself from their wickedness and enmity.[3]

D. He conceals deposits; he does not tell anyone about them even his friends.

E. He gives witness; he never conceals it.

F. When he does any of the truth, he does not do it for dissimulation or reputation; rather he does it for the sake of Allah, the Most High.

G. When men praise or describe him with some noble qualities, he is afraid of being void of such qualities. Hence he asks Allah to forgive them.

H. He pays no attention to those who ignore him and regards them as not important. These qualities indicate that the believer has a exalted soul and perfect character.

Some excellent Pieces of Advice

The Imām, peace be on him, gave his companions these excellent pieces of advice: “You have no right to sit with whomever you like, for Allah (the Blessed, the Exalted) says: And when you see those who enter into false discourses about Our communications, withdraw from them until they enter into some other discourse, and if Satan causes you to forget, then do not sit after recollection with the unjust people.[4] You have no right to say whatever you like, for Allah, the Exalted, says: And follow not what you have no knowledge of. [5] And for Allah’s messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, says: ‘May Allah have mercy on a servant who says good (words) and wins (them) or he keeps silent and is safe.’ You have no rightto listen to whatever you like, for Allah, the Most High, says: Surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that.[6]”

If Muslims put into effect these excellent pieces of advice, they will earn immense good and be safe from evil.

Help and Beneficence

Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, urged his companions and followers (Shi’ites) to aid each other and to show beneficence toward one another, for such an act is the best guarantee for their unity. Many traditions in this respect have been handed down from him. The following is some of them:

1. “The highest of you in degree, and the best of you in palaces and buildings (i.e. in the Garden) are those who respond to the believers and help their poor ones. Allah brings near those who say good words to their poor brothers, though they are from among those who will be chastised in the Fire. Therefore, disdain not beneficence to your brothers, for it will profit you when nothing replaces it.[7]” The Imām, peace be on him, urged (Muslims) to aid the poor and to show beneficence toward them. He mentioned the ample reward Allah prepared for good-doers. He regarded good words as beneficence, for they spread love and brotherhood among the Muslims.

2. He, peace be on him, said: “He who passes night full and there is in his presence a hungry believer, Allah, the Exalted, says to His angels: Bear witness against this servant. I ordered him, but he disobeyed Me and obeyed other than Me, hence I charged him with his work. By My mightiness and majesty, I will never forgive him.[8]”

This tradition and others- which have been handed down from the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them-regarded as among the basic elements of social solidarity, which Islam has established, and which certainly put an end to poverty and deprivation.

3. He, peace be on him, said: “He who has an extra garment, knows that there is in his presence a believer who needs it, and does not give it to him, Allah will throw him down in the Fire.[9]”

Islam regards poverty as a destructive social disaster, hence it urges Muslims to spare no effort to save society from it.

4. He, peace be on him, said: “I feel shame of my Lord when I ask Him for the Garden, while I do not give a dirham or a dinār to one of my brothers. It will be said to me on the Day of Resurrection: ‘If the Garden belonged to you, you would be stingier with it.'[10]”

This tradition shows that the Imām, peace be on him, took great care of the affairs of charity and beneficence, that he urged the Muslims to take care of them.

5. He, peace be on him, said: “He who gives food to a believer until he becomes full, he will get a wage of which neither an angel brought nigh nor a prophet sent out know except the Lord of the worlds.” He added: “Among the things which make forgiveness obligatory is giving food to a hungry Muslim.” Then he read these words of Him, the Exalted: “Or the giving of food in a day of hunger to an orphan, having relationship, or to the poor lying in the dust.[11]”

In this tradition there is summons to giving food to a hungry person and to save him from hunger. Islam urges Muslims to give food to the poor and regards giving food as a necessary act. It indicates that a Muslim will be questioned about it, especially when the poor person is in urgent need of food.

6. He, peace be on him, said: “He who accomplishes his brother’s need, Allah will grant him a hundred needs. He who relieves his brother’s sorrow , Allah will relieve his sorrow on the Day of Resurrection, whatever it may be. He who helps his brother against a wrongdoer, Allah will help him pass al-Sirāt when legs shake. He who strives to fulfill his brother’s need and pleases him with fulfilling it, he pleases Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family. He who gives water to his brother to quench his thirst, Allah will let him drink of a pure drink which is sealed (to others). He who gives food to his hungry brother, Allah will let him eat from the fruits of the Garden. He who clothes his naked brother, Allah will make him wear silk and brocade. He who clothes his unnaked brother, Allah will guarantee him as long as there is a thread of the garment on (the body of) the clothed one. He who removes his brother’s worries, Allah will make youths serve him. He who carries his brother on a she-camel, Allah will raise him from the dead on one of the she-camels of the Garden for which he will vie with the angels. He who shrouds his brother when he dies, Allah will clothe him from the day when his mother borne him until he dies. He who marries his brother to an intimate wife, Allah will make him intimate in his grave with the most beloved of his family. He who visits his sick brother, the angels will surround him and supplicate for him until he leaves, and they say: ‘You are agreeable, and the Garden is agreeable for you.’ By Allah, accomplishing a need is more lovable with Allah than fasting successive months in the Sacred Months.'[12]”

These excellent teachings of the Imām, peace be on him, bring about the solidarity of the Muslims, spread affection, mercy, and sympathy among them.

7. He, peace be on him, said: “Men will be resurrected naked, hungry, and thirsty. Hence he who clothes a believer in this world, Allah will clothe him in the garments of the Garden. He who gives food to a believer, Allah will give him food of the fruits of the Garden. He who gives a believer a drink of water in this world, Allah will let him drink of a pure drink that is sealed (to others).[13]”

Islam spares no effort to put an end to poverty and deprivation, hence it guarantees to give ample repayment to those who aid their Muslim brother ands show beneficence toward them.

8. He, peace be on him, said: “He who gives food to a hungry believer, Allah will give him food of the fruits of the Garden. He who gives water to a thirsty believer, Allah will let him drink of a pure drink that is sealed (to others). He who clothes a naked believer, Allah will cover him over and protect him as long as there is a rag of the garment (on the body of the clothed one).[14]”

These principles of the Imām, peace be on him, represent the essence and reality of Islam. If Muslims put them into practice, they will be the masters of nations and peoples.

Tightening the Bonds of Kin

The Imām, peace be on him, urged the Muslims to tighten the bonds of kin and warned them against cutting them off. He, peace be on him, said: “He who wants Allah to prolong his span and give him a plentiful provision, let him tighten the bonds of kin, for the womb relatives will say with eloquent tongues on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O Lord, tighten him who tightened us, and cut him off who cut us off.’ One will be seen on the good path. If the womb relatives, whom he cut off, come to him, they will descend him to the bottom of the Fire.[15]”

Many authentic traditions have been handed down from the Imām of guidance, peace be on them, about tightening the bonds of kin. They indicate that such bonds prolong man’s span, increase his provision, double his reward in the hereafter, strengthen society, and spread affection among the Muslims.

Love for the Sake of Allah

The Imām, peace be on him, summoned the Muslims to love each other and to show affection toward one another for the sake of Allah, not for this material perishing world. He, peace be on him, said: “When Allah bring together those first and last, men will hear a caller ask: ‘Where are those who loved each other for the sake of Allah?’ Some people will stand. It will be said to them: ‘Go to the Garden without reckoning.’ The angels will receive them and ask them about the work through which they enter the Garden. They will answer: ‘It is we who loved one another for the sake of Allah.’ The angels will ask them: ‘What was your act?’ They will reply: ‘We loved those who loved Allah, and hated those who hated Him.’ Hence the angels will say to them: ‘Excellent is the reward of the workers!'[16]”

Love for the sake of Allah unifies Muslims; it does not divide them. It brings them together and does not scatter them, for it results from firm faith in Allah.

Supplication for Believers

The Imām, peace be on him, urged the believers to supplicate for their Muslim brothers when absent, and to praise them. He, peace be on him, said: “When the angels hear a believer supplicating for his absent brother, they say: ‘What an excellent brother for your brother you are! You supplicate for him with good when he is absent, and remember him with goodness. Allah has given you two likes of what you supplicated for him, and praised you two likes of what you praised him. You did him a favor.’ When they hear him mention his brother with evil and supplicate against him, they say to him: ‘What a bad brother for your brother you are! Refrain from this, O you whose sins and defects have been covered! Take care of yourself! Praise Allah who has covered you over! Know that Allah knows His servant more than you![17]

These noble moral traits strengthen the unity and solidarity of Muslims, spread affection and brotherhood among them.

Repayment of the Virtuous

The Imām, peace be on him, urged his companions to show virtue toward men as well as he summoned them to be patient and to help each other. He, peace be on him, said: “A caller will call on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Let the virtuous stand!’ Some people will stand before reckoning. It will be said to them: ‘Go to the Garden!’ The angels receive them and ask them where they go. They reply: ‘To the Garden.’ When the angels ask them about the work through which they deserve the Garden, they answer: ‘When men showed ignorance toward us, we showed forbearance toward them. When they wronged us, were patient. When they mistreated us, we pardoned them.’ Hence it will be said to them: ‘Enter the Garden! Excellent is the reward of the workers.’ Then a caller will call: ‘Let the patient stand.’ Some people will stand. It will be said to them: ‘Go to the Garden!’ The angels receive them and ask them as they ask the first group, and they reply: ‘We habituated ourselves to obey Allah, and we habituated them to refrain from disobeying Him.’ Hence the angels will say to them: ‘Enter the Garden! Excellent is the reward of the workers.’ Then a caller will call: ‘Let the neighbors of Allah, the Great and Almighty, stand!’ Some people will stand. It will be said to them: ‘Go to the Garden!’ The angels will ask them about the work through which they deserve the Garden and about their neighborhood to Allah, the Great and Almighty. They will reply: ‘We visited each other for the sake of Allah. We sat with one another for the sake of Allah. We exchanged (gifts) with each other for the sake of Allah.’ Hence the angels will say: ‘Enter the Garden! Excellent is the reward of the workers.'[18]”

In this tradition the Imām, peace be on him, summons Muslims to have noble moral traits and the most excellent qualities which lead them to honor and perfection.

Summons to Religion

A man came to the Imām, peace be on him, and asked him about the summons to the religion, and he, peace be on him, answered: “Summon (men) to Allah, the Most High, and His religion through two ways: Make them recognize Allah, and work for the sake of His good pleasure. As for the recognition of Allah, it is that you make (them) know that Allah is One, Compassionate, Merciful, knowledgeable, Powerful over all things, eyes attain Him not, and He attains eyes, and He is the All-subtle, the Expert, that Mohammed is His servant and messenger, what he brought was the truth from Allah, the Exalted, and that other than them is falsehood. If they accept this, they will have rights just as those of the Muslims, and there will be rights against them just as those against the Muslims.[19]”

The summons to the religion and embracing it depend on recognizing Allah, the Most High, faith in His Unity, and confessing the prophecy of the greatest Messenger, may Allah bless him and his Household. He who follows these two affairs will be treated according to the Islamic rules, such as refraining from shedding his blood, safeguarding his properties, and treating him in the same manner in which Muslims are treated.

Warning against some Unlawful Things

The Imām, peace be on him, warned (the Muslims) against committing some unlawful things, for they send man away from his Lord and throw him into great evil. He, peace be on him, said: “Guard against all the unlawful things. Know that backbiting your believing brother-who is among the Shi’ites of the House of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his Household-is more unlawful than eating (meat) of the dead (animals). Allah, the Most High, said: ‘…nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it.[20]’ Drinking blood is less unlawful for you than informing an unjust sovereign of your believing brother, who is among the Shi’ites of the House of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his Household. For you perish yourselves, you believing brother, and the sovereign. Eating the flesh of a pig is less unlawful for you than your honoring those whom Allah has belittled, naming them with our names, the Ahl al-Bayt, and giving them our nick-names, while Allah has named them the sinners, and given them the nick-name of the licentious. (The animal) over which any other (name) than (that of) Allah is invoked is less unlawful for you than making a marriage contract or performing a congregational prayer with our enemies, who have usurped our rights, unless you practice precautionary dissimulation. Allah, the Most High, says: ‘…but whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin shall be on him.[21]” If someone is obedient to Allah, but necessity forces him to practice one of these unlawful things, no sin shall be on him.[22] The Imām, peace be on him, warned (the Muslims) against committing all the unlawful things, and he especially stressed refraining from the following unlawful things:

A. Backbiting, for it divides Muslims, spreads hatred and enmity among them. It is certain that he who has firm faith in Allah turns away from it. In many of his pieces of advice, the Imām, peace be on him, warned (the Muslims) against it. A man said to him: “Someone accuses you of misguidance and innovation.” The Imām blamed the man for this and said to him: “You did not conform to the right of sitting with the man when you informed us of his words, nor did you conform to my right when you told me about my brother what I had not known. Death includes all of us. Resurrection will be the place of our gathering. The Day of Judgment will be our appointment, and Allah will decide among us. Beware of backbiting, for it is the food of the dogs of the people of the Fire.[23]”

B. Informing an unjust sovereign against a believer: It is a serious offense, for it leads to an inclusive destruction.

C. Giving the noble nick-names of the Ahl al-Bayt, peace be on them, to those unjust who spread tyranny and corruption in that time.

D. Communicating and working with the unjust: They strengthen their position and raise up their importance. These are some contents of the words of the Imām, peace be on him.

Warning against Craving

The Imām, peace be on him, summoned to freedom from the abasement of craving. He, peace be on him, said: “I have seen all good come together in cutting off craving for what is in men’s hands. He who beseeches not men for a thing, and entrust all his affairs to Allah, Allah will respond to him in all things.[24]”

Dangerous blights result from craving. They lead man to destruction and throw him into great evil. The Imām summoned man to free himself from craving, that he might be perfected and sublime.

Showing Gratitude toward Good-doer

The Imām, peace be on him, underlined the necessity for showing gratitude toward good-doers, that good deeds may not be lost. He, peace be on him, said: “Allah, the Most High, loves every sad heart and every grateful servant. On the Day of Judgment, He will say to His servant: ‘Did you thank so-and-so?’ The servant will say: ‘I thanked You, my Lord.’ Allah, the Glorified, will say to him: ‘You did not thank me because you did not thank him.'”

After this the Imām added: “The most grateful of you (to Allah) is he who thanks the people.[25]”

Giving thanks to a benefactor or a good-doer is a pressing Islamic necessity, that people may continue kind acts.

Enjoining the Good

Enjoining the good and forbidding the evil are two of the most prominent Islamic principles. Islam has positively adopted them, that social justice may spread among men, that no evil deed, no aggression, and no oppression may stay in the general life of people. In this connection many authentic traditions have been handed down from the Imāms of guidance, peace be on them. Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, said: “He who leaves enjoining the good and forbidding the evil is like him who leaves Allah’s Book behind him, unless he shows precautionary dissimulation.” The Imām was asked about precautionary dissimulation, and he answered: “(He practices it) when he is afraid of a tyrannical ruler.[26]”

Fear of a tyrannical ruler makes it not incumbent on person to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. The jurists have mentioned in their practical treatises the conditions of performing this Islamic, important obligation.

Speech is better than Silence

A person asked the Imām, peace be on him: “Which is better- speech or silence?” “Each has blights,” answered the Imām, “when they are sound of blights, speech is better.”

Another person asked him: “How is this, son of Allah’s Apostle?”

The Imām, peace be on him, replied: “Allah, the Glorified, sent the prophets and the trustees (of authority) to speak, not to keep silent. (They did not) deserve the Garden through silence; rather through speech. I cannot equate the sun with the moon.[27]”

The Happiness of Man

The Imām, peace be on him, talked about the things which made man happy in the world. He said: “One is happy when his daily bread is in his homeland, his friends are righteous, and has a son through whom he seeks help.[28]”

Indeed, he who has these things wins all the good of the world, and is therein among the happy.

Mutual Teachings among Religions

A man asked the Imām, peace be on him: “What are the common teachings among religions?” “Saying the truth, ruling with justice, and fulfilling promise,” replied the Imām. Heavenly religions share these three items, which are the foundation of social life, and for which all the prophets and messenger sacrificed their lives.

Noble Traits

The Imām, peace be on him, spoke about some noble qualities by which the Muslim should be distinguished, and through which his Islam is perfect. He, peace be on him, said: “He who has four (traits), his Islam is perfect, his sins are forgiven, and he will meet his Lord, the Great and almighty, and He is satisfied with him: sincerity to Allah, the Great and almighty, through fulfilling men’s rights against him, telling men the truth, shame of everything ugly in the view of Allah and of men, and showing good manners toward his family.[29]” He who has these outstanding traits is in deed a believer, has perfect faith, meets Allah, and He is satisfied with him.

The Qualities of a Believer

The Imām, peace be on him, said: “The qualities of a believer are five.” Tāwus al-Yamāni asked him: “What are they, son of Allah’s Apostle?” He replied: “Piety in privacy, alms during paucity, patience toward misfortune, clemency during anger, and truthfulness during fear.[30]” These five qualities display the faith of a believer.

Good Words

The Imām, peace be on him, urged his companions to say good words to men, and mentioned the profits which resulted from them. He said: “Good words increase property, develop provision, delay death, make men love each other, and lead to the Garden.”

This tradition of the Imām, peace be on him, contains the outcomes of good words, of which is the following:

A. Property is developed, and provision is plentiful. This can clearly be seen through manufacturers, workmen, and traders. Men deal with those who treat them with good words, and such a treatment increases one’s income. They hate those who treat them with obscene words, hence this treatment brings about business stagnancy and narrow provision.

B. Death is deferred. This is when one saves a believer from wrongdoing or does him a favor. In this state Allah repays him through prolonging his span in this world and increasing his wage in the next.

C. One is beloved and dear with his family and his relatives, for souls incline to the owner of good words and perfect moral traits.

D. Attaining the Garden. This is when good words are employed to settle enmity, to enjoin the good, and to forbid the evil.

The Classes of Men

The Imām, peace be on him, told Zarāra b. Awfā about the classes of men. He said to him: “O Zarāra, the men in our time are six classes: Lions, wolves, foxes, dogs, pigs, and ewes. As for the lions, they are the kings of the world; they like to overcome each other. As for the wolves, they are your traders, who dispraise (commodities) when they buy them, and praise (them) when they sell (them). As for the foxes, they are those who eat through their religions, and describes through their tongues what is not in their hearts. As for the dogs, they are those who shout at people through their tongues, and men honor them out of fear of their evil tongues. As for the pigs, they are the womanlike, who respond to every atrocity when they are invited to it. As for the ewes, they are the believers whose hair is cut, whose flesh is eaten, whose bones are broken. What do the ewes do toward the lions, the wolves, the foxes, the dogs, and the pigs?[31]”

The Imām, peace be on him, carefully considered the society in which he lived, classified it into six classes, and mentioned the appropriate characteristics of each class.

Humbleness

As for humbleness, it is among the noble moral traits through which man becomes exalted. The Imām, peace be on him, urged (the Muslims) to follow this trait. He said: “A Qarashi or an Arab has no lineage save through humbleness. There is no nobility but through Allah-fearingness. There is no act except through an intention. The most detestable of men in the view of Allah, the Great and Almighty, is he who follows an Imām’s sunna (words), but does not follow his practices.[32]”

Quoting Wisdom

The Imām, peace be on him, summoned (the Muslims) to quote wisdom even from hypocrites, for it is among the sources of thought and awareness which Islam develops. He, peace be on him, said: “Disdain not the precious pearl which you bring out of mean sweepings, for my father related to me, he said: ‘The wise word frequents in the hypocrite’s chest, disputing (with him for going) to those who understand it, until he says it. When a believer hears it, he takes it, and hence is worthier of it.'[33]”

The Clay of Believer and Unbeliever

In a tradition of his, the Imām, peace be on him, spoke about the clay of a believer and an unbeliever. He said: “Allah, the Great and Almighty, created the prophets’ hearts and bodies from the clay of ‘Illin (the highest place). He created the hearts of believers from this clay, and created their bodies from clay other that this. He created the bodies and hearts of unbelievers from sijjin. Then He mixed the two (kinds of) clay. Hence the unbeliever (woman) bears a believer; the believer (woman) bears an unbeliever. From here the unbeliever may do a good deed. The hearts of believers and of unbelievers yearn for the clay from which they were created.[34]”

There are many traditions concerning that Allah, the Most High, created man from clay. Allah, the Exalted, said: “It is He who created you from clay.[35]” He, the Exalted, said: “And He began the creation of man from clay.[36]” He created the prophets and believers from the most sacred clay, hence they saved and freed man. He created the unbelievers from the meanest and dirtiest clay, hence they hindered the progress and development of man’s social life. Through His wisdom, Allah, the Most High, decreed to mix these two kinds of clay with each other, and they produced opposites. The (wives of) the prophets and believers borne some wicked and unbelieving children. An example of is Noah, Allah’s Prophet, whose wife gave birth to a son who deviated from the right path and disbelieved in his father’s message. Allah drowned him along with the unbelievers. Noah felt pity for him and whispered to his Lord, and He, the Exalted, answered him: “Surely he is not of your family; surely he is (the doer of) other than good deeds.” (The wives of) the unbelievers may give birth to believing, righteous children. This is among the outcomes of the mixture of the two kinds of clay, as the Imām, peace be on him, said.

Patience

The Imām, peace be on him, urged (the Muslims) to be patient. He said: “(The position of) patience in faith is like that of the head in the body, and he who has no patience has no faith.[37]”

The greatest thing which man uses as weapon against events and misfortunes is patience, entrusting affairs to Allah, the Most High, and pleasure with what He decrees, for this is the essence of faith.

Some Morals of Believer

The Imām, peace be on him, spoke a bout the noble moral traits through which a believer is exalted. He said: “Some of a believer’s morals are: He spends (on his family) according to (his) narrow provision, gives (them) generously according to (his) plentiful provision, treats men with justice, and is the first to greet them.[38]”

Some of a believer’s morals are that he is economical-he does not spend when in narrow provision and spends generously when in plentiful one-treats men with justice even against himself, for this is a proof for his piety, and is the first to greet them, for this shows his good manners.

Fanaticism

The Imām, peace be on him, was asked about fanaticism, which was among the manners of those who lived before Islam, and he replied: “The fanaticism through which one commits sin is that one regards the wicked from among his people as better than the good of other people. It is not an act of fanaticism that one loves his people, but it is an act of fanaticism is that one helps his people do wrong.[39]” The Imām, peace be on him, has wonderfully defined foolish fanaticism through which one commits sin. It is that one considers the wicked and criminal from among his people better than the good and righteous, that he helps them do wrong and show aggression and enmity toward others. In this manner one denies the truth and destroys values. As for one’s love for his people, it is not fanaticism.

Guarding against Telling Lies

The Imām, peace be on him, warned his children against telling lies, and said to them: “Guard against telling lies, whether small or great, during seriousness or joking, for if one tells a lie about small things, he is ready to tell a lie about great ones. Did you not know that Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, say: ‘As long as the servant tells the truth, Allah writes him truthful, and as long as he tells lies, Allah writes him untruthful.[40]”

The Imām, peace be on him, warned (the Muslims) against telling lies about all things, for lying is among the ugliest and most detestable crime in the view of Allah. He also ordered them to tell the truth, for it is the source of all virtues which lead to honor and dignity.

Certainty of Words

The Imām summoned his companions to be sure of their words and have knowledge of what they said, whether good or evil. He said: “One should not say good or evil words concerning another unless he has knowledge of him.[41]”

Chastity

The Imām, peace be on him, urged his companions to be chaste, and regarded chastity as the best of all the acts of worship. He said: “The best act of worship is the chastity of stomach and private parts.[42]”

Content

As for content, it is one of the excellent qualities. If man follows it, he will be free from worries. The Imām, peace be on him, said: “He who is content with Allah’s apportionment is the richest of all the people.[43]”

Content is a treasure which never comes to an end. He who is satisfied with Allah’s apportionment is the richest of all the people, the greatest of them in rest, and the least of them in worry.

Some Qualities deliver the Believer

The Imām, peace be on him, mentioned some qualities which saved the believer. He said: “Three (qualities) deliver the believer: He should withhold his tongue from backbiting men, busy himself with that which profit him in this world and the next, and weep very much over his sin.[44]

Some of the Prophets’ Norms and Wise Sayings

The Imām, peace be on him, told his companions about some of the prophets’ norms, wise sayings, and affairs, that they might follow them and enlighten themselves with their behavior. The following is some of what has been handed down from him:

Al-Khidr’s Commandments to Mūsā

Al-Zuhri reported that Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, said: “At last al-Khidr commanded Mūsā, saying: ‘Blame not any person for sin. The most beloved affairs with Allah, the Great and Almighty are three: moderation when rich, pardon when powerful, and gentleness toward Allah’ servants. When one is kind to others in this world, Allah, the Great and Almighty, will be kind to him on the Day of Judgment. The head of wisdom is reverential fear of Allah.[45]”

How wonderful the meanings of this wisdom are! How wonderful its objectives are! It contains all the commandments which make man felicitous and sublime.

Some of Allah’s Revelations to Mūsā

The Imām, peace be on him, related to his companions some of Allah’s revelations to His prophet Mūsā, peace be on him. He said: “Allah revealed to Mūsā: ‘Make My creatures love me, and make me love my creatures.’ Mūsā asked: ‘O My Lord, how shall I do (this)?’ Allah replied: ‘Remind them of My boons and favors, that they may love me. Repel not any fugitive from my gate or a straying one from my courtyard. This is better for you than a hundred year’s worship, when one fasts by day and stands in prayer by night.’ Mūsā asked: ‘Who escapes from You?’ Allah answered: ‘The disobedient one.’ Mūsā asked: ‘Who is straying from Your courtyard?’ Allah replied: ‘It is he who is ignorant of the Imām of his time, absent from him after he has recognized him, and ignorant of the laws of his religion. Teach him the laws (of his religion), through which he worships his Lord and reaches His good pleasure.[46]”

In this tradition the Imām, peace be on him, urged those who summoned (men) to Allah to spare no effort to save them from the acts of disobedient to Allah, to make them beseech obeying Him, and not to repel them from this. He told them that their work in this way was the most beloved worship and act of obedience to Allah.

A Wisdom in the Bible

The Imām, peace be on him, reported to his companions a brilliant wisdom from the Bible. He said: “It has been written in the Bible: ‘Seek not the knowledge of what you do not do until you do what you come to know. If knowledge is not put into practice, it increases its possessor nothing except unbelief and remoteness from Allah.[47]”

The Imām, peace be on him, summoned (his companions) to put knowledge into effect. It is not an act of truth that man gets knowledge and does not put it into practice, for this increases him nothing save remoteness from Allah.

Mūsā and a Worshipper

The Imām, peace be on him, related to his companions the story of Mūsā with a worshipper. He said: “Mūsā passed by a worshipper. The worshipper was raising his hands toward the heaven and supplicating Allah, the Most High. Mūsā spent seven days, and then he returned to the worshipper. He saw him raising his hands toward the heaven. Hence he said: ‘O Lord, this is Your servant, who has raised his hands toward You and asked You for forgiveness for seven days, while You have not responded to him.’ Allah revealed to Mūsā: ‘O Mūsā, if he supplicates me until his hands fall down and his tongue is cut off, I will not respond to him, unless he comes to me through the gate which I have commanded him to.[48]”

As for this tradition, it summons man to turn his face toward Allah, and to seek nearness to Him through the doors which He has assigned.

Mūsā with Allah

The Imām, peace be on him, said: “Mūsā bin ‘Umrān asked his Lord: ‘Who are Your people whom You will shade with the shade of Your Throne on the day when there is no shade save Your shade?’ Allah, the Glorified and Exalted, revealed to him: ‘Those whose hearts are pure, and whose hands are covered with earth, who remember My majesty, are content with obeying Me as the little (baby) who is content with milk, go to My mosques (masājid) as birds go to their nests, and become as angry as the tiger when (men) make lawful what I have made unlawful.'[49]”

These people, who have faith in their lord, are the best of creatures in the purity of hearts, the soundness of minds and intentions. They turn their hearts and feelings toward Allah; they see nothing except Him, and believe in nothing save Him. Hence Allah will recompense them for this when he shades them with His shade, includes them in His gentleness, and single them out for His bounty.

The Death of the Prophet

The Imām, peace be on him, narrated the death of his grandfather, Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, and the events which accompanied it. The text of his narration is as follows: Imām Ja’far al-Sādiq, peace be on him, reported on the authority of his father Abi Ja’far, who said: “Two men from Quraysh came to my father ‘Ali b. al-Husayn, peace be on him, and he asked them: ‘Shall I tell you about Allah’s Messenger?’ ‘Yes,’ they replied. He said: [I heard my father saying:] ‘Gabriel came down to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, three days before his death, and said to him: ‘O Ahmed, Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has sent me to you in (showing) preference and specialty toward you. He is asking you about what He knows better than you: ‘How do you find yourself?’ ‘I find it grieved, O Gabriel!’ replied Allah’s Messenger. On the third day, Gabriel, the Angel of Death, and seventy thousand angels came down (to the Prophet). Gabriel was ahead of them and said: ‘O Mohammed, Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has sent me to you in (showing) honor, preference and specialty toward you. He is asking you about what He knows better than you: ‘How do you find yourself?’ ‘I find it grieved, O Gabriel!’ replied Allah’s Messenger.

“At the door the Angel of Death asked for permission, hence Gabriel said: ‘O Ahmed, the Angel of Death is asking you for permission. He had never asked any person for permission before you, and will never ask anyone for permission after you.’ The Prophet said: ‘Give him permission.’ Gabriel permitted the Angel of Death, and he walked toward the Prophet, stopped before him, and said to him: ‘O Ahmed, Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has sent me to you, and commanded me to obey you in what you command me. If you command me to seize your soul, I will do. If you hate this, I will leave .’ The Prophet asked: ‘Will you do this, O Angel of Death?’ ‘Yes,’ answered the Angel of Death, ‘I have been commanded to obey you.’ Hence Gabriel said: ‘O Ahmed, Allah has yearned for meeting you.’ The Prophet said: ‘O Angel of Death, carry out (Allah’s) command.’ ‘O Ahmed, this is the last time for me to come down to the earth,’ answered Gabriel, ‘You were my objective in this world.’

“When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, passed away, a consoler came to his family. They heard his words, but did not see his person. He said to them: ‘Peace, Allah’s mercy and blessings be on you, every soul shall taste of death, and you shall only be paid fully your reward on the Day of Resurrection.[50] Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, is comfort against every affliction, and replacement of perishable things. Hence, trust Allah, hope for Him! The one suffering an affliction is he who is deprived from reward, peace, Allah’s mercy and blessings be on you.’ Ja’far said: [My father said: Ali said: ‘Do you know who is this? This is al-Khidr.'[51]” With this we will end our speech bout the prophets’ norms, and wise sayings, which Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him, related to his companions and students.

Friendship toward Ahl al-Bayt

The Imām, peace be on him, emphasized the necessity of showing friendship toward the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. He regarded this friendship as one of the elements of Islam. He, peace be on him, asked Abū Hamza al-Thumāli: “Which place is the best?”

Abū Hamza was perplexed, not knowing what to answer, hence he said: “Allah and His Messenger better know.”

Then the Imām, peace be on him, answered: “The best place is that which is between the corner of the Kaaba and the standing place of Ibrāhim. Noah lived among his people for 950 years. If a man lived as long as Noah did, fasted by day, stood in prayer by night in this place, and met Allah without showing friendship toward us, he would not avail himself of these things.[52]”

In this connection many authentic traditions have been handed down from the Greatest Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, and his trustees (of authority), peace be on them. They indicate that showing friendship toward the Imāms is an Islamic obligation about which the Muslim will be questioned on the Day of Resurrection. Some scholars think that showing friendship to them is one of the conditions of a correct act , not of its acceptance. It is not one of the conditions of the correctness of the obligations.[53]

Anyhow, in another tradition, the Imām, peace be on him, has mentioned the plentiful reward which those who love the ahl al-Bayt attain in this world and the next. Some Shi’ites visited the Imām and asked him:

“How are you, son of Allah’s Apostle?”

The Imām answered them with gentleness:

“I am well. I praise Allah for this. What about you all?”

“We love you, the ahl al-Bayt.”

He gave them good news of that Allah would plentifully repay them, saying:

“He who loves us for the sake of Allah, Allah will make him enter a very shady place on the day when there is no shade except His shade. He who loves us for reward, Allah will cause him enter the garden. He who love us for this world, Allah will provides him from where he thinks not.[54]”

The Prophet’s and ‘Ali’s Rights against the Muslims

In a tradition of his, the Imām, peace be on him, has mentioned the great rights of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and of his trustee (to authority), the gate of the city of his knowledge, Imām ‘Ali, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, against this community. He, peace be on him, said: “Though parents’ have great rights against their children because of their kindness to them, the kindness of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family, and of ‘Ali to this community is greater, hence they are worthy of being its two fathers.[55]”

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and his family, and his trustee (of authority) have rights against this community greater than those of parents against their children, for they have freed the will of this community, saved it from bondage and the darkness of ignorance, and granted it a free, noble life. Unfortunately, this community did not show gratitude toward them for their favors. Rather it removed the pure family (of the Prophet) from the offices of government and leadership. Besides its ruler intentionally destroyed this family at the Battle of Karbalā’. Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, peace be on him: “Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, was kind to Quraysh, the Arabs, and non-Arabs. Who was kinder than him (to them)? Yet they were ingratitude to him. Besides they are ingratitude to us, the ahl al-Bayt.[56]”

The Mastership of the Ahl al-Bayt over Men

A man asked the Imām, peace be on him: “What is the excellence which has made you the masters of the people?”

The Imām replied: “Know that all the people are one of three: Either a man became a Muslim through us, hence he is our friend. His friendship belongs to us, therefore we are his master, or a man whom we fought against and killed, hence he went to the Fire and his property has remained as booty for us, or a man from whom we have taken poll tax, and he is lowly. There is no fourth (man). Therefor, which merit and honor have we not won?[57]”

I (the author) think that the Imām mentioned the tradition for a man who did not confess the outstanding merits of the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt) , peace be on them, nor did he believe in their absolute mastership over this community. It is worth mentioning that the ahl al-Bayt have countless outstanding merits and talents. It is sufficient for them that Allah took away uncleanliness from them and purified them thoroughly, made it incumbent on the community to show friendship toward them, that the Messenger, may Allah bless him and his family, united them with the Firm Revelation (the Qur’ān), appointed them as ships of deliverance and security for mankind.

Short, wonderful and Wise Sayings

As for the short, wise sayings of the Imām, they represent creation, the development of thought, and the originality of opinion. They show the summary of the experiences the Imām got during his lifetime.They are not confined to a certain side of life; rather they include all its sides. The wise Imām carefully and inclusively considered all the affairs of man and gave decisive solution to them. The following is some of his outstanding, wise sayings:

1. He, peace be on him, said: “He whose soul is noble, the world is easy for him.[58]” How wonderful these words are! They show the reality of those free who regarded the world as insignificant. They were noble and exalted, hence they did not yield to abasement and disgrace. At the head of these people was (Imām al-Husayn), the Father of the free and Lord of the martyrs. He felt that his soul was noble, hence he disdain the world. He did not flatter the unjust, nor did he yield to their tyranny. He carried the banner of dignity until he was martyred.

2. He, peace be on him, said: “All good is in man’s safeguarding his soul (against sins).[59]”

If man safeguards his soul against acts of disobedience, sins, and offenses, he will get good throughout his life.

3. He, peace be on him, said: “I never like the believer who is well in the world, in his soul, and in his property, while no affliction befalls him.[60]” When afflictions befall a believer in this world, they decrease his sins and increase his good deeds. If the believer is not befallen by afflictions in this world, he will be deprived of these good deeds in this world.

4. He, peace be on him, said: “He who has no clement one to guide him gets straying, and he who has no impudent one to help him gets lowly.[61]” If man has no clement one to guide him during his important affairs, he does not behave well toward the obscurities of this life, and if he has no impudent one to help and defend him, he will expose himself to abasement and disgrace.

5. He, peace be on him, said: “Woe unto him whose units surpass his tens.” Hishām b. Sālim asked Imām al-Sādiq, peace be on him, about the meaning of this tradition, and he replied: “Have you not heard that Allah, the Great and Almighty, saying: ‘Whoever brings a good deed, he shall have ten like it, and whoever brings an evil deed, he shall be recompensed only with the like of it.[62]’ If he does a good deeds, ten good deeds shall be written for him, and if he does one evil deed, one evil deed shall be written for him. We seek refuge in Allah from him who does ten evil deeds on one day, and does no good deed, hence his evil deeds surpass his good deeds.[63]”

6. He, peace be on him, said: “The enemies take the properties of the ignoble one, and that which is evil produces nothing but evil.[64]”

The ignoble withhold from spending their properties on the poor and the needy. Hence Allah, the Exalted, empowers their enemies over them to enjoy their properties and to deprive them of them.

7. He, peace be on him, said: “If the body does not become ill, it becomes ungrateful, there is no good in the body which become ungrateful.[65]”

If man always enjoys good health, and diseases do not attack him, he shows ingratitude (toward Allah’s favors), and there is no good in such a body.

8. He, peace be on him, said: “You should return the things deposited with you (to their owners). By Him who sent Mohammed a prophet with the truth, if the killer of my father al-Husayn deposited with me the sword with which he killed him, I would return it to him.[66]” Returning things deposited is among the most prominent Islamic obligations, hence he who does not return things deposited is not a Muslim.

9. He, peace be on him, said: “The best worker in Allah’s eyes is he who puts the Prophet’s sunna into practice.[67]”

He who puts the Prophet’s sunna into effect applies Islam in his life, and the method of his conduct. It is normal that such a work is among the best works in Allah’s view and the most beloved one with Him

10. He, peace be on him, said: “He who is the first to thank you enslaves you through affection.[68]” He who is the first to thank for a good deed enslaves the heart of the good-doer through friendship and love.

11. He, peace be on him, said: “The friend is not a friend unless he cuts off a piece of his religion for his believing brother, and patches it with asking Allah to forgive him.[69]”

The honest friendship in Islam depends on affection and brotherhood for the sake of Allah. Among its necessities, according to this tradition, is that the friend asks Allah to forgive his friend.

12. He, peace be on him, said: “I assure (you) before my Lord that he who begs with out neediness will some day begs out of neediness.[70]”

Begging with out poverty is evidence for the poor, weak soul. Allah, the Exalted, will afflict such a beggar with depravation and poverty, and he is forced to beg others.

13. He, peace be on him, said: “Beware of that for which you apologize.[71]”

The Imām, peace be on him, warned (the Muslims) against doing any work which forces them to apologize to others. It is normal that such a work is ugly.

14. He, peace be on him, said: “Allah, Great be His Majesty, says: ‘By My might, My tremendousness, My beauty, My radiance, My exaltedness, and the loftiness of My place, if a servant prefers My desire to his desire, I will make him take care of his life in the next world, his riches in his heart, protect him from loss, make the heavens and the earth guarantee his provision, and make the world come to him.[72]”

Allah, the Exalted, loves the believing servant who prefers His obedience to all things, and does not yield to his caprice and psychological wishes. He, the Exalted, shows him gentleness and favor in this world and the next.

15. He, peace be on him, said: “There may be one conceited and fascinated (by the world). He rises in the morning for playing, laughing, eating, and drinking. He does not know that he may expose himself to Allah’s displeasure through which he shall be burnt in the Fire.[73]”

The Imām, peace be on him, warned (the Muslims) against vainglory, playing, and indifference to disobeying Allah. Allah, the Exalted, is displeased with the person who has such qualities and writes him as one of the people of the Fire, which is a miserable, permanent life.

16. He, peace be on him, said: “Glory be to Him who has made gratitude toward His favors praise; glory be to Him who has made confessing incapability of thanking Him thanksgiving.[74]”

Acknowledging Allah’s favors and gentleness is the reality of praise as well as confessing incapability of thanking Him is the reality of thanksgiving.

17. He, peace be on him, said: “Seeking needs from men degrades life, takes away modesty and respect, and is the present poverty. The lack of seeking needs from men is the present riches.”

It is certain that yielding to men and seeking what is in their hands bring about abasement and disgrace, and take away modesty. They is evidence for the poor, week soul. The noble person is he who safeguards himself and his dignity, and seeks need from none except his Lord.

18. He, peace be on him, said: “He who admonishes time, his admonition lengthens.”

Indeed, he who admonishes time, his admonition lengthens. That is because many misfortunes, disasters, and tragedies occur in time, and they successively befall the free and rudely treat them.

19. He, peace be on him, said: “If one is free from need to men, men will be in need of him.” He who is free from need toward men through his property or knowledge, men will be in need of him.

20. He, peace be on him, said: “The noble one rejoices at his excellence, and the ignoble one boasts of his possessions.” These words show the reality of both noble and ignoble ones. As for the noble one, he rejoices at and boasts of his excellence and kindness toward men. As for the ignoble one, he boasts of his perishing properties, for he has no noble quality or inclination to boast of.

21. He, peace be on him, said: “Feel shame before Allah because of your nearness to Him.” The Imām, peace be on him, summoned (men) to fear Allah, the Most High, for He, the Exalted, has power over His servants, all beings and creatures are yielding to His will, and are in his grasp. He moves about in them according to His desire.

22. He, peace be on him, said: “Show not enmity toward anyone, though you think that he will harm you.” It is not an act of wisdom or logic that man shows enmity toward someone, even though he thinks that he will harm him. The wise one is he who inclines hearts toward him, and never makes anybody harbor malice against him.

23. He, peace be on him, said: “Abstain not from making friends with anyone, though you think that he will not profit you, for you know not when you will hope for your friend.”

It is an act of wisdom and perfect reason is that man must not refrain from making friends with anybody, for he will someday be in need of his support and help.

24. He, peace be on him, said: “He who relies on the best

which Allah chooses never desires other than the state He chooses for him.”

It is an act of true faith is that one trusts in the best which Allah chooses and is satisfied with His decree. He who believes in this and puts it into effect is the happiest of people and the most of them in rest and tranquillity in his psychological worlds.

25. He, peace be on him, said: “You must accept the apology of those who apologize to you, even though you know that they are liars.” Among the noble moral traits is that you accept the apology of the evildoers, treat them not tit for tat, for, through this, you unite (the Muslims) and save them from disunity.

26. He, peace be on him, said: “The defects of men should be few on your tongue.” Among the highest Islamic morals is that you should purify your tongue from mentioning the defects of men; you should mention nothing expect their good deeds.

27. He, peace be on him, said: “Seek help against speech through silence, for speech has harmful states.”

The wise Imām counseled (the Muslims) to keep silent, and not to speak about anything except the affairs of their religion and world. This is because speech sometimes leads to destructive, harmful states.

28. He, peace be on him, said: “He who accuses men of what they have, they will accuse him of what he does not have.” He who mentions the evil deeds of men, though they have them, they will charge him with evil deeds, though he does not have them.

29. He, peace be on him, said: “The best beginning of affairs is truthfulness, and their best end is faithfulness.” The Imām, peace be on him, underlined the importance of both truthfulness and faithfulness, for they are two of the qualities through which man is exalted.

30. He, peace be on him, said: “To bear witness that there is no god save Allah is the nature (fitra).” To believe in Allah and to confess His Unity are two natural qualities in man, but man swerves from them through misguiding education and corrupt environment.

31. He, peace be on him, said: “Performing the obligatory prayers is the creed.” Performing the obligatory prayers is confessing and adopting the creed of Islam, and is the identifying mark between Muslims and unbelievers.

32. He, peace be on him, said: “To obey Allah is preservation.”

To obey Allah, the Most High, and to refrain from acts of disobedience to Him are preservation from Satan and purity from defilement and sins.

33. He, peace be on him, said: “The believer does not perish out of three qualities: Bearing witness that there is no god but Allah, the Alone, who has no associate; His ample mercy, and the intercession of Mohammed, may Allah bless him and his family.”

These three qualities bring the believer, when he adopts them, near to Allah and take him to His plentiful mercy and good pleasure. As for confessing the Unity of Allah, it takes him out of the dark shadows of unbelief. As for His ample mercy, it embraces all things, to the extent that the disobedient (to Him) hope for it on the Day of Resurrection.[75] As for the intercession of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and his Household, it saves the believer from the Fire.

34. He, peace be on him, said: “If you affect toil for men, you are the most seducing of them.”

= t50>He who pretends to work for men and accomplishing their needs, not for seeking nearness to Allah, is the most seductive of men and the most ignorant of them.

35. He, peace be on him, said: “I wonder at him who protects himself from harmful foods, but does not protect himself from harmful sins.”

Protection from sins and offenses is better than protection from harmful foods, for sins lead to chastisement and misery in the next world, which is the abode of immortality and subsistence.

36. He, peace be on him, said: “When you perform the prayers, perform the prayers of one who bids farewell (to this world).”

The Imām, peace be on him, summoned (the Muslims) to perform the prayers sincerely as if they bid farewell to this life.

37. He, peace be on him, said: “Every thing has fruit, and the fruit of hearing is good words.”

Good words are the most valuable thing of hearing. They

e its fruit; rather they also are the fruit of life.

38. He, peace be on him, said: “Insistence is accompanied by ignorance.” Insistence in affairs results from ignorance toward the realities of affairs which are in Allah’s grasp.

39. He, peace be on him, said: “Humbleness is the means to exaltedness.” If man is humble and gentle, his standing is high, and through this he is the master of those other than him.

40. He, peace be on him, said: “All of you will become story, hence he who is able to be a good (story), let him do (this).

Ibn Durayd composed poetry about these golden words, saying:

One will be the account of those who will come after him,

hence be good account for those who understand.

41. He, peace be on him, said: “The envier attains no honor, and the malicious one dies of grief.”

Envy is an evil malady, and throws men into great evil. He who is afflicted by it loses the highest moral traits, and parts from all noble qualities. Besides he dies of sadness and rage when he sees Allah bestowing favors upon men.

42. He, peace be on him, said: “Losing the beloved is loneliness.” Losing the beloved is among the most painful disasters which attack man and make him lonely among pain and worries.

43. He, peace be on him, said: “Satisfaction with the detested things caused be (Allah’s) decree is the highest degree of certainty.”

He who is satisfied with what Allah has apportioned for him is patient, brave, and calm. He is among the Allah-fearing who entrust their affairs to Him, the Exalted, and are content with His decree.

44. He, peace be on him, said: “It is an act of worship that the believer looks at the face of his believing brother for love and affection.”

Islam has urged the Muslims to show love and affection toward each other. It has made difference and division unlawful. If the believer looks at the face of his believing brother with love and affection, he strengthens the ties among the Muslims. Hence such an act is among the best kinds of worship in Islam.

45. He, peace be on him, said: “If the two merchants are truthful and kind (to men), (Allah) will bless (their work). If they are untruthful and disloyal (to men), (Allah) will not bless (their work).”

Truthful dealings and kindness to men are among the things that make commerce grow. If the merchant has such qualities, Allah will bless his work and increase his provision. If he swerves from them and follows crooked ways, he will have nothing except loss.

46. It was said to the Imām, peace be on him: [Al-Hasan al-Basri said:] “I do not wonder at him who perishes and how he perishes; rather I wonder at him who escapes danger.” The Imām replied: “I do not wonder at him who escapes danger and how he escapes danger; rather I wonder at him who perishes and how he perishes, while Allah’s mercy embraces (all things).”

Allah’s mercy embraces all things to the extent that Satan craves for it. The Imām knew and understood this better than al-Hasan al-Basri and other than him.

47. He, peace be on him, said: “If the servant is sincere to Allah in secret, Allah shows him his evil works, and he busies himself with his own sins and (leaves) men’s defects.”

If man fears Allah in secret and turns aside from acts of disobedience to Him, Allah bestows upon him His favors, of which is that He shows him his evil works and distracts him from men’s defects, that he may save himself from the ill outcomes of backbiting, which is among the ugliest sins.

48. He, peace be on him, said: “If the servant becomes angry, he draws himself nearer to Allah’s wrath.”

Anger destroys man and throws him into great evil. For example, it makes him commit crimes, hence he exposes himself to Allah’s wrath and detest.

49. He, peace be on him, said: “The pack-animal has six rights against its owner: He should give fodder to it when he dismounts it. He should lead it to water when he passes by it. He should not lash it but in right. He should not load it more than its ability. He should make it walk freely. He should not ride it at the time between two times of milking.”

In this tradition, the Imām peace be on him, has declared the rights of an animal against its owner. Theses rights are full of mercy, pity, and care of animals. The organizations which have been founded to treat animals kindly have not legislated such rights yet.

50. He, peace be on him, said: “When you are powerful over your enemy, then regard pardon as thanksgiving for power over him, for pardon out of power is a kind of generosity.”

Pardon due to power is evidence for the honor of soul and its ample clemency. It is a kind of generosity and munificence. As for revenge, it results from ignobility, meanness, and the narrowness of soul.

51. He, peace be on him, said: “Beware of making friends with the disobedient (to Allah), and helping the unjust.”

The Imām, peace be on him, has warned (the Muslims) against making friends with the disobedient (to Allah), for it has bad effects on their behavior, and deviate them from the right path. The sociologists said: “The members of society affect each other.” Besides the Imām has warned them against helping the unjust, for such help spreads tyranny and oppression.

52. The Imām, peace be on him, was asked about the most important person, and he replied: “It is he who does not regard the world as important for him.”

The most right of all men in opinion and the best of them in determination and awareness is he who regards his soul greater than the world. He does not sell his life in the next world for this world; rather he turns his face toward Allah. He works for his life in the hereafter and prepares good deeds for it.

53. He, peace be on him, said: “The lawful provision is the nourishment of the chosen.”

The lawful provision is the nourishment of the good and chosen who are very careful of their earnings, eat nothing except the good, lawful things, and refrain from what Allah has made unlawful.

54. He, peace be on him, said: “Men have taken three (qualities) from three (persons): They have taken patience from Ayyūb (Job) , thanksgiving from Nūh (Noah), and envy from the children of Ya’qūb (Jacob).”

Men has quoted these traits from these persons, who have established their principles, and built their foundations in life.

55. He, peace be on him, said: “You have no right to say whatever you like, for Allah, the Exalted, says: And follow not what you have no knowledge of. You have no right to listen to whatever you like, for Allah, the Great and Almighty, says: Surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that.”

Islam has limited the permissible words which man uses to manage his affairs. As for the words which man uses to spread falsehood and to speak the untruth, they are unlawful. If man uses such words, he will be questioned about them (on the Day of Judgment). Islam has also limited the words which man hears. It has ordered him to listen to good words and prevented him from listening to backbiting and obscene words. It has ordered him to question himself about his evil thoughts.

56. He, peace be on him, said: “I admire the man who is clement during his anger.” The Imām, peace be on him, summoned (the Muslims) to adorn themselves with clemency, that they might get rid of hardships and misfortunes.

57. A man said to the Imām: “O Son of Allah’s Messenger, I love you very much for the sake of Allah.” Hence he, peace be on him, said: “O Allah, I seek refuge in you from that I love (men) for Your sake, while You detest me.”

The Imām, peace be on him, sought refuge in Allah, the Exalted, from that he loved (men) for Him, while He detested him. This indicates that the Imām denied himself, sought protection in Allah, devoted himself to Him, and hoped for His pardon and good pleasure.

58. He, peace be on him, said: “The act (that results) from Allah-fearingness is not little. How can be little that which is accepted?”

If work results from Allah-fearingness, it is not little. How can it be little, while Allah, the Exalted, accepts it?

59. He, peace be on him, said: “If the people of the heavens and the earth came together to describe Allah’s mightiness, they would not be able to.”

All those who are in the world of existence are unable to describe the mightiness of Allah, the Exalted. How can the possible being, limited in mind and abilities, describe the Necessary Being, Who originated all things, and Whom no understanding can encompass?

60. He, peace be on him, said: “Courage is undertaking war, patience toward affliction, and defending brothers.”

Courage is among the most prominent qualities of men. Some aspects of courage are undertaking war, patience toward affliction, and defending brothers.

61. He, peace be on him, said: “The eloquent make no use of words during bad listening.”

One’s eloquence is in vain when men do not listen to him or turn away from him.

62. He, peace be on him, said: “Man should moderately spend (his money), and give the surpass (to the poor) for the sake of his life in the next world. This safeguards his blessing, brings him nearer to Allah (the Exalted), and makes his final result useful.”

The Imām, peace be on him, advised (the Muslims) to spend their money moderately and to spend the surpass of it on the poor and the general serves of the country. This results in the subsistence of blessing, nearness to Allah, the Most High, and winning an honorable final result.

63. He, peace be on him, said: “Beware of wronging him who finds no helper against you except Allah.”

These valuable words have been handed down from the members of the House (ahl al-Bayt), peace be on them. They show that the Imāms were merciful and affectionate, so that they detested all kinds of injustice and aggression against men, especially as it concerns the weak who find no helper save Allah, hence aggression against them is one of the worst kinds of oppression.

64. He, peace be on him, said: “How bad is the brother (friend) who takes care of you when rich and abandons you when poor!”

The Imām, peace be on him, dispraised the person who flattered his friend during riches and deserted him during poverty. This shows that such a person is opportunist, and has neither honor nor dignity.

65. He, peace be on him, said: “Know the affection (toward you) in your brother’s heart through the affection toward him in your heart.”

If you want to test your friend’s love, you must look for his love for you in your heart, for you love him as much as he loves you.

66. He, peace be on him, said: “He whose concern is the next world, Allah spares him the concern of this world.”

He who works for the next world and fears Allah, Allah spares him the affairs of this world and its difficulties.

67. He, peace be on him, said: “The generous are the masters of men in this world, and the Allah-fearing will be their masters in the next.”

Without doubt, the generous are the masters of men in this world. However, the master of men in the hereafter will be the Allah-fearing and the righteous.

68. He, peace be on him, said: ” If Allah, the Great and Almighty, sent down a book in order to chastise a man, I would expect that the man was I, or in order to have mercy on a man, I would hope that the man was I, or in order to chastise me certainly, I would increase (my self) nothing but diligence, lest I should return my soul with blame.”

The Imām, peace be on him, expressed his reverential fear of Allah, the Most High, and his hope for Him. If Allah decided to chastise him, he would increase his soul nothing but diligence in obeying and worshipping Him, lest he should cause blame to himself.

With this we will end our speech about some of the Imām’s short, wonderful, wise sayings.

[*] Tafsir al-Imām al-‘Askari, p. 19. Tanbih al-Khawātir, p. 316. Al-Ihtijājj, vol. 2, p. 175.
[1] Safinat al-Najāt.
[2] Tuhaf al-‘Uqūl, p. 280. Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 17, p. 315, first edition. Some of this tradition has been mentioned in Wasā’il al-Shi’a, vol. 11, p. 272.
[3] This means that he keeps his tongue, refrains from entering all conversations, refrains from the situations of suspicions, and turns aside from sitting with corrupt people.
[4] Qur’ān, 6, 68.
[5] Ibid., 17, 36.
[6] Ibid.,
[7] Tafsir al-Burhān, vol. 1, p. 44.
[8] ‘Iqāb al-A’māl, p. 30.
[9] Al-Barqi, al-Mahāsin, vol. 1, p. 97.
[10] Musādaqat al-Ikhwān, p. 34. Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, vol. 4, p. 239. Tahdhib al-Kamāl, M7/Q2, p. 338.
[11] Qur’ān, 90, 14.
[12] Thawāb al-A’māl, p. 81.
[13] Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, p. 194.
[14] Al-Husayn b. Sa’id al-Ahwāzi, al-Mu’min, p. 19, one of the manuscripts of the Library of al-Sayyid al-Hakim, serial, 196. The School of al-Imām al-Mehdi checked and published the book in Qum, in the year 1404 A. H. It also checked and published the book al-Tamhis by Shaykh Abi ‘Ali Mohammed b. Hammām al-Iskāfi, died 336 A. H. This tradition has been mentioned on page 159. no. 63.
[15] Al-Bihār.
[16] Wasā’il al-Shi’a, vol. 11, p. 432.
[17] Usūl al-Kāfi.
[18] Hulyat al-Awliyā’, vol. 3, p. 159. Al-Ya’qūbi, Tārikh, vol. 3, p. 46.
[19] Al-Tūsi, Tahdhib, vol. 2, p. 47.
[20] Qur’ān, 49, 12.
[21] Ibid., 2, 173.
[22] Bihār al-Anwār (first edition), vol. 7, p. 331.
[23] Mishkāt al-Anwār, p. 291. Al-Tubrisi, al-Ihtijājj, p. 172.
[24] Usūl al-Kāfi, Chapter on Freedom from Need to People.
[25] Usūl al-Kāfi, Chapter on Thanksgiving.
[26] Hulyat al-Awliyā’, vol. 3, p. 140. Ibn Sa’d, al-Tabaqāt, p. 2135.
[27] Al-Tubrisi, al-Ihtijājj (first edition), p. 172
[28] Al-Khisāl, p. 245.
[29] Ibid., 203.
[30] Ibid., p. 245.
[31] Al-Khisāl, p. 308.
[32] Ibid., p. 19.
[33] Al-Majjlisi, Bihār al-Anwār (first edition) , vol. 1, p. 95.
[34] Usūl al-Kāfi, vol. 2, p. 2.
[35] Qur’ān, 6, p. 2.
[36] Ibid., 32, 7.
[37] Usūl al-Kāfi, vol. 2, p. 89.
[38] Ibid., p. 241. Wasā’il al-Shi’a, vol. 11, p. 149.
[39] Usūl al-Kāfi, vol. 2, p. 308.
[40] Ibid., 223.
[41] Ibn Qutayba, ‘Uyyūn al-Akhbār, vol. 1, p. 275.
[42] Al-Ikhtisās, p. 223.
[43] Ibn al-Sabbāgh, al-Fusūl al-Muhimma, p. 187. Jamharat al-Awliyā’, vol. 2, p. 74. Wasā’il al-Shi’a, vol. 11, p. 304.
[44] Al-Durr al-Nazim, p. 174.
[45] Al-Khisāl, p. 106. Al-Ghāyāt (manuscript), p. 19.
[46] Al-Majjlisi, Bihār al-Anwār (first edition), vol. 1, p. 71.
[47] Usūl al-Kāfi.
[48] Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, p. 202.
[49] Ibid.
[50] Qur’ān, 3, 185.
[51] Yousif al-Tāli, al-Tashawiq ilā Rijāl al-Tasawuf, pp. 31-32.
[52] Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, p. 202.
[53] Shaykh Ākhwand, Kifāyat al-Usūl.
[54] Ibn al-Sabbāgh, al-Fusūl al-Muhimma, p. 192. Al-Sirāt al-Sawi, p. 193.
[55] Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, p. 202, quoted from al-Mahāsin by al-Barqi.
[56] Al-Wāfi, vol. 3, p. 133.
[57] Al-Daylami, Ghurar al-Āthār wa Durrar al-Āthār (manuscript), p. 80, al-Sayyid al-Hakim Library, serial 549.
[58] Tuhaf al-‘Uqūl, p. 278.
[59] Ibid.
[60] Abi ‘Ali Mohammed b. Hammām al-Iskāfi, al-Tamhis.
[61] Al-Ithāf bi Hub al-Ashrāf, p. 75.
[62] Qur’ān, 6, 161.
[63] Al-Shaykh al-Sadūq, Ma’āni al-Akhbār (Manuscript), al-Sayyid al-Hakim Library.
[64] Al-Husayn Mohammed al-Halawāni, Nazhat al-Nāzir, p. 32.
[65] Hulyat al-Awliyā’, vol. 3, p. 134. Tadhkirat al-Huffāz, vol. 1, p. 71.
[66] Al-Nūri, Dār al-Salām, vol. 2, p. 140.
[67] Al-Wāfi, vol. 1, p. 67. Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidin, p. 219.
[68] Nihāyat al-Irab fi Funūn al-Adab, vol. 21, p. 331.
[69] Bahjat al-Majālis wa Uns al-Majālis, vol. 1, p. 685.
[70] Wasā’il al-Shi’a, vol. 6, p. 305.
[71] Kashf al-Ghumma.
[72] Wasā’il al-Shi’a, vol. 11, p. 222.
[73] Tuhaf al-‘Uqūl, p. 282.
[74] Ibid., p. 283.
[75] In this connection, it has been mentioned in the Holy Tradition: “On the Day of Resurrection Allah will have mercy toward which Iblis will crane his neck.” We have mentioned that when we have commented on the tradition no. 46.
Source: maaref-foundation.com


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