Imam al-Ridha s Words on the Sign of the Imam

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Source: Uyun Akhbar Ar-Ridha Volume 1

19-1 Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ishaq al-Taliqani – May God be pleased with him – narrated that Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Sa’eed ibn Uqda al-Kufi quoted on the authority of Ali ibn Al-Hassan ibn Fadhdhal, on the authority of his father, on the authority of Ali ibn Musa Al-Ridha’ (a.s.), “There are certain signs designating the Imam. He is the most knowledgeable, the wisest, the most pious, the most patient, the bravest, the most generous, and the person who worships the most among the people. He was born circumcised. He is pure and clean. He sees the back as well he sees the front. He has no shadow. When he falls out of his mother’s uterus onto the ground, he falls onto the palms of his hands and loudly declares the two testimonial declarations (that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is God’s Messenger). He has no nocturnal pollution. His eyes go to sleep, but his heart will not go to sleep. He is inspired1. The armour of God’s Prophet (S) fits him. His urine and feces cannot be seen since the Almighty God has appointed the earth to swallow whatever he excretes2.
He smells better than they themselves do. He is kinder to the people than their parents are. He is the humblest of all people to the Almighty God. He acts upon what he advises the people to do more than anyone else. He abstains from what he admonishes the people against. His prayers are accepted such that if he wishes a rock to be divided into two parts, it will. He has the weapon of the Prophet of God (a.s.). He has his sword – the ‘Thul-Faqar3. He has a list of the names of his followers upon the Resurrection Day. He has a list of the names of his enemies until the Resurrection Day. He possesses Al-Jame’a – that is a nearly thirty-five meter long text which encompasses all of the needs of the human beings. He also possesses the al-Jafr al-Akbar and al-Jafr al-Asqar that are a goat-skin (book) and a ram-skin (book) which include all knowledge – even the punishments of a scratch, or one or a half or a third of a crack of a whip are recorded in it. He also possesses the Blessed Lady Fatima’s (a.s.) Mushaf.4
19-2 In another tradition we read, “The Imam is certified by the Holy Spirit. There is a column of light between him and God through which he sees the deeds of the people. He is informed about what he needs by it. Sometimes that light is shined at him and he gets to know (what he must become aware of). And sometimes it is taken away and thus he will not know (what he needs not know). Sheikh Sadooq said, “The Imam is born. He also has children. He gets ill and he gets cured. He eats and drinks. He urinates and defecates. He gets married. He sleeps. He forgets and he makes mistakes.5 He gets happy and sad. He laughs and cries. He lives and then dies. He is buried and the people go to visit his shrine. He is resurrected and questioned. He is rewarded and honored. He intercedes. There are two important signs for him: his knowledge and the fulfillment of his prayers. He has heard the news that he gives about the events in the future from his grandfathers from the Prophet of God (a.s.). The Prophet of God (a.s.) has heard them from Gabriel. Gabriel has heard them from the Almighty God. All the eleven Imams after the Prophet (S) were martyred. Some were martyred by the sword – that is the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) and Al-Husayn (a.s.). The rest of them were poisoned by the disobedient rulers of their time. The martyrdom of the Imams has been a real issue – not the way the boasters and those who believe in turning over the authority believe6 – May God’s Curse Be on Them. They say, ‘In fact, they were not killed.7 The people thought they were. However, Sheikh Sadooq says, ‘They are liars. May God’s Wrath Be upon Them. There are no cases of the Prophets and the Imams in which the people just thought they were killed, but they were not; except for Jesus (a.s.) – the son of (the Blessed Lady) Mary (a.s.) since Jesus (a.s.) was taken up alive from the Earth. His spirit was taken away in between the heavens and the Earth. Then he was taken up to the heavens where his spirit was returned to him. The followings Words of the Almighty God refer to this, ‘Behold! God said, O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme.’8 The Almighty God also expressed what Jesus (a.s.) will say on the Resurrection Day as follows, ‘… And I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them. When Thou didst take me up, Thou was the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.’9 And the people who have transgressed beyond bounds regarding the Immaculate Imams (a.s.) say, “If it is allowed for the people to think Jesus (a.s.) who was not killed was killed, why should a similar issue not hold true for the Imams?”
Their reply is, “Jesus (a.s.) was created without a father. Why is it not allowed that the Immaculate Imams (a.s.) be also created without having a father?” They will not dare express their opinion on this issue. May God Damn Them! When all the Prophets, Messengers and Imams after Adam have been created from a father and a mother – with Jesus being the only exception having only a mother – it is allowed for the people to think he was killed while he was not. This does not hold true for other Prophets and Imams. The Almighty God wished to establish Jesus (a.s.) as a sign and a symbol for us to know that He is able to do anything.
1. In Arabic ‘Muhaddath meaning that he hears the voice of the angel of Revelations, but he does not see him.
2. The Arabs used to go to the toilet behind a wall where it could later be seen. But this implies that he went to the toilet where there was a well or a hole in the Earth. (Quoted from Man La Yahdharohu al-Faqih, v.6, p.378.
3. This is the sword of the Commander of the Faithful Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).
4. It seems that the most important sign of the Imam on which all the ‘Imamiyya agree is not clearly mentioned in this tradition. It might have been removed. That is the rank of infallibility or “Isma” which some of the Shiite sects like the “Fatahieh” and the “Jaroodieh” do not believe in. The Fatahieh’s believed that the Imam after Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) was Abdullah ibn Ja’far – the brother of Imam Musa Al-Kazim (a.s.). Ibn Fadhdhal was one of the Fatahieh’s. He was considered to be trustworthy in relating the traditions. He became sorry about his beliefs at the end of his life. People other than the Immaculate Imams (a.s.) have also been born circumcised. We also see similar accounts in the Bible. Midrash Psalms 9,7 accounts thirteen people in the Biblical period who were born circumcised. Although there is no allusion in the Hebrew Bible that these men were born in such a condition or even that they were (or were not) circumcised by their fathers or anyone else, the Rabbis deduced this from several verses, “And two peoples shall be separated from your bowels (Gen 25,23), one circumcised, and the other not circumcised. From this verse you can learn that Jacob was born circumcised. He was one of thirteen who were born circumcised, namely: Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Terach, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah and Jeremiah”.In general, we do not have to accept what is against the intellect.
5. The author has interpreted this in Man La Yahdharohu al-Faqih as follows, “When for some reason God wills the Imam to forget or make a mistake, the Imam himself will immediately inform others about it so that no one gets misled. Of course, this is what the author and his master Ibn al-Valid believe, not all the great Sheikhs. They say forgetting and making mistakes are in contradiction with innocence or “Ismat” which is the criteria for being the Imam. Thus they either interpret or reject all such cases.
6. “Boasters” refers to three groups of people: 1) Those who boast about Ali (a.s.) and consider him to be God. 2) Those who boast about the members of the household of the Prophet (S), and attribute to them characteristics which they do not attribute to themselves. 3) Those who believe that the recognition of the Imam will make us needless of performing all acts of worship and all the obligatory deeds. Thus by relying on our love for the members of the household of the Prophet (S) they abandon making ablutions, saying prayers, fasting, paying the alms-tax and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to the Kaaba. By “those who believe in turning over the authority” we mean one of eight groups of people. One meaning is that God has turned over the authority of Creation, planning and providing sustenance over to the Immaculate Imams (a.s.). This itself is another form of boasting. For more information on this issue, refer to volume 6 of Man La Yahdharohu al-Faqih.
7. The Immaculate Imams (a.s.)
8. Qur’an, 3:55.
9. Qur’an, 5:120

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