The following is an edited Friday sermon by His Eminence, the late Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra). The sermon was after His Eminence underwent a health crisis.
Although the doctors have tried to warn me of the dangers of kneeling and prostrating, I wanted to be with you at least for Friday prayer… I ask God to grant you all success, and I would like to thank all of you for your concern. I will always remain,God willing, with you, and I will always be faithful to the line of Islam as detailed by Ahl el-Beit, Members of the household (a.s.).
One of the Imams of Ahl Al-Beit whom God purified, is Imam Zein Al-Abidin, Ali bin Al-Hussein (a.s.) anniversary of whose death was yesterday, on the 25th of Muharram.
Talking about this Imam is multi-dimensional, for the Imam had lived through along with his father, Imam Hussein, all the events of Karbala.
He witnessed and endured all its tragedies. He was also aware of all its aims and slogans and instituted its commemoration for future generations.
The Imam was the first to remind the people from time to time of what had happened in Karbala in an effort to incite anger and revolt against those who caused it and all these who might think about committing a similar crime in the future.
The Imam, as well as the Imams who followed him, used to emphasize the fact that Imam Hussein’s revolution was not restricted to its time, but that its themes, aims and values should act as an inspiration for Muslims for all times. Thus, when he used to cry in public whenever he mentioned Karbala, he was not acting out of personal emotion, although emotions play a role in everybody’s life. Even the prophet (p.) cried when his son Abraham died and said:” The eyes cry and the heart saddens but we say nothing except what pleases God). He wanted to spread the values of Islam so as to make those who were to follow in reliving the memories of Ashora use the Hussieni stand as a stand to call for Islam in all its concepts, doctrines and values.
The Imam was the first to talk and write about human rights, whether to himself, to God or to the people around him. In the book of rights he dictated- or wrote- he details all the Islamic rights of man in all his relations and acts, long before the charter of human rights was written.
When we study the invocations of Imam Ali bin Al-Hussein, whether in the SahifaSajadiah or the rest, we find that he used them as a tool to educate others about the oneness of Allah, the angels and all Islamic concepts in the various fields of life. It is a pity that these supplications have not been studied thoroughly even among the followers of Ahl al-Beit (A.S.), or in the academic institutions that study the spiritual side of Islam.
Although the Imam dedicated a lot of time to worshipand living with God, to the extent that he was called the prostrator, it did not prevent him from staying in touch with the Muslim community, giving them the guidance and the knowledge they needed in all aspects of their religion, and teaching them how to be moral and pious in everything they say or do, especially in matters relating to the controversial political issues of that time.
It is a pity that the predominant image of the Imam is one of a worshipper and a mourner. Such an image ignores the other side of the Imam as a guide ,a teacher and a leader, for this is his responsibility as an Imam.
The Imam used to go to all lengths to free slaves. Although Islam did not legalize slavery, it was one of the phenomena that existed in his age. He tried to cut it down by buying hundreds of slaves, raising them and teaching them. He then made use of them during the pilgrimage season in serving the pilgrims, and finally freed them, giving them enough money to live on their own.
In addition to his capacities as a teacher and a guide, he was such a humanitarian that humanity has never known anyone who was more tolerant and forgiving than him. To site but one example to demonstrate his noble-mindedness, we refer to the time when he gave refuge to the children of Marwan bin Al-Hakam, following the revolt of Al-Madina against the Umnayads.The Imam gave refuge to those children after being denied by all the dignitaries of Al-Madina. To understand the significance of the Imam’s action, we have to bear in mind that it was Marwan who asked the governor of al-Madina to kill him if he did not pledge his loyalty to Yazid.The Importance of Islamic ValuesThese are but a few glimpses of the life of the Imam. And now I would like to read some of his words to benefit fromthem and enrich our knowledge of the values of Islam. He says: A man’s Islam would be perfected, his sins will by forgiven and God will be pleased with him when He meets him, if four attributes are to be found in him: Keeping promises, being truthful, feeling ashamed of everything that displeases God as well as other people and being kind to his family.”
The Imam (a.s.) also tells us about praying for a fellow believer while he is absent:” when the angels hear the believer praying for an absent brother, or praising him, they will say: You are a good brother… God has given you twice as much as you had asked for ,and He has praised you just as you had praised your brother. But if they hear him say something bad about a brother or asking God to harm him, they will say: What a bad brother you are. Stop revealing his sins and praise God Who has veiled your (Shortcomings). And know that God knows all about His servants”.
These are the recommendations of Al-Beit and this is their path. If we want to follow them, we have to follow their teachings and follow their path. Imam Zein Al-Abidiensaid:”Love us the love of Islam”. Meaning that the relation between them and us should be an Islamic one, based on what the Islam calls for. We ask God to make us among their followers in thought and action. He is the Most Merciful.