Ahl Ul-Bayt (a.s.) are our guide to knowledge, piety and freedom

SHAFAQNA - By: Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

Allah says in the Glorious Quran “And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, [Ahl el-Beit] and to make you pure and spotless.

One of the Imams of Ahl el-Beit is Imam Jaa’far As-Sadiq (a.s.) whose death anniversary is on the 25th of this month. Talking about this Imam is a broad one as wide as Islam, since he represents in his academic, moral, jurisprudential, ideological and human histories an intellectual and cultural phenomenon that rises to the level of responsibility of the imamate in enriching the life of people by means of Islam, just as the Messenger (p.)  and the Imams  who came before him did.

One of the particular traits of the Imam (a.s.) is that he wanted the Shiites (Followers) of Ahl el-Beit to be Islamically educated in such a way that they do not have to ask anyone about the issues of their religion. He is reported to have said that he wished that the whips were on the heads of his companions to learn about Halal and Haram. Thus the Imam worked on enriching the knowledge of the Muslims in Islam away from any sectarian prejudice.

He used to teach students who did not follow the Imami school, nor did they believe in the Imamate of the Imams Ahl-el Beit. One of these students was Abu Hanifa, the Imam of the Suni Hanifi school of thought, who used to say that had not been for the two years he spent as a student of the Imam he was doomed, for he learnt from him what expanded his knowledge and showed him what Islam really is.

Thus, a lot of students of the Sunni sects used to attend his classes, including the Imam of the Maliki sect, Malik bin Anas. The Imam’s school of thought, jurisprudence, theology, and Islamic culture spread to all parts of the Islamic world, to the extent that some of historians, and Islamic scholars say: “I entered the Kufa Mosque… where the classes were being held, and found 900 sheiks – teachers saying: Jaa’far As-Sadiq told me”. Those religious scholars were the vehicles that spread the Imam’s views in all Islamic issues, although not all of them were Shiites. Some histories have said that those who cited the Imams were 4 thousand Hadith scholars.

Another point the Imam is distinguished with was his opening up on all thought, even the atheists who used to meet with the Imam in the Masjid Al-Haram in the Hajj season, and discuss with him theological and philosophical issues including the existence of Allah.

He used to be very tolerant in answering them, even when they resorted to mockery at such issues as circumambulation around the sacred House. In his answers the Imam resorted to logic and strong evidence without any violence to the extent that one of them said: “I have not seen anybody worth of being called a human being except Imam Jaa’far As-Sadiq (a.s.). A heretic also said: I have not seen anyone who becomes spiritual when he wants and materialistic when he wants except Imam Jaa’far As-Sadiq.

The Imam believed that when you differ with someone, you should not persecute him or act violently with him, but you ought to listen tolerantly to his view and engage in a dialogue with him. This has always been the role of the callers whether Prophets, messengers or Imams to listen to the views even if they were negative so that they convince the people that they were wrong in a very gentle and smooth way: This is how Allah described His Messenger with when he hold him that it was a Mercy from God that he was lenient with them “had you been tough, hard hearted they would certainly have dispersed from around you”.

As the Imam did not feel that there was an opportunity to revolt against the tyrant Abbasids, he opted to build an educated and knowledgeable Muslim society that would discover any deviation in any rule. The Imam(a.s.)  highlighted the moral, social and  spiritual systems in Islam, as well as certain political issues.

One of these issues is the issue of freedom, which we need now as the challenges that face Islam and Muslims mount. The Imam wanted man to be free in his thoughts, will, actions and positions. He should cling to this freedom and not fall in the face of any challenge he might confront in his life.

The Imam emphasized that freedom springs from the depth of the human being and not from the outside, by a ruler’s decree or such; Imam Ali (a.s.) used to say: “Do not be a slave of others, while Allah has made you free”. Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) associated between freedom and patience, because freedom is the force we need when we are confronted with big challenges. It needs a lot of effort and costs a lot of sacrifice.

He says: A free man is a free man under all circumstances. If he is in trouble he is patient, calamities do not break him even if he is imprisoned and overpowered and put in difficulties. Hence, imprisonment and slavery could not harm the honourable Yusuf (a.s.). Darkness and fright of a well could not put him to loss until Allah made him His messenger and pitied the nation because of him. Patience and forbearance is like this. It always results in good. So be patient and tolerant so as to see its reward.

He also used to say: Forbearance is for faith what a head is for a body. One who has no patience has no faith.

In the end, the Imam described the traits of the believers as such: A believer should have eight traits:

(1) He should maintain his dignity when calamities befall him, (2) he should be patient when he is in trouble, (3) he should be grateful when he has plenty of blessings, (4) he should be content with his share of God-given daily bread, (5) he should not be oppressive with his enemies, (he should give them  their rights )(6) he should not  flatter his friends, (7) he should use his body to the extent of fatigue  (to perform his duties), and (8) the people should be safe from him since he only does what is good to them. Knowledge and reason is like a believer’s friend (since it enables him to differentiate between good and bad). Patience is like his prime minister, and perseverance is like the head of his army. Kindness is like his brother, and gentleness is like his father.”

I call all the intellectuals in the world especially the Muslims, to study the Imam in a scientific way, because his heritage is an encyclopaedic one that encompassed all Muslim needs. We should always study this heritage because it is our way of knowing our religion and not turn the Imams into an occasion for crying. Nay, the Imams are a movement of culture, progress and awareness.

They are the boat of knowledge, good, piety and freedom that Allah wanted us to ride to rise to the level that Allah loves and is satisfied with.

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