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A Complete Submission

The manner and style of the verses of the Holy Quran is of such sublimely miraculous nature that each attempt to express their transcendental beauty causes human intellect to wander endlessly in the depths of their meanings and concepts. If man was to completely utilize whatever intellect Allah has granted, this would be a great achievement in itself. Often words fail to describe the true depth of meanings which are conveyed by the Divine verses but at the same time, hearts resonate with their understanding and acceptance. As an example, let us look at one of the most frequently recited verses of the Holy Quran:

“Indeed, Allah and His angels send greetings on the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), then O those who profess belief, you too send salutations unto him and submit a complete submission.

[Surah Ahzaab (33): 56]

The last portion of this verse stands as an exegesis of the entire verse and acts as a filter which erases all the dust and haze accumulated upon our intellect and causes it to enter into the light of clarity and illumination. When we ponder over the last portion of this verse and attempt to analyze its profundity from the depths of our souls only then can we put forth our humble efforts to tread the path of great personalities who are the very embodiment of this verse. If we were to look at these great personalities from the aspect of their faithfulness in their absolute submission to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) we can analyze how they have fulfilled its right. Had people really acted upon this complete submission to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) then perhaps we would have avoided the great calamities which have befallen us, destroyed cities and villages and their inhabitants in their strides.

The word “Tasleem” has been derived from the word “Salaamatun” or “Salaamun” which means to be submissive or to yield.

[Al-Munjid, p. 487]

The word Sa-la-ma has been used in the Holy Quran 4 times in the meaning of submission and obedience. Surah Nisa (4): 91 and 190 and Surah Nahl (16): 87 and 128. We shall mention one of these verses as an example:

“On that day they shall offer their submission to Allah.”

[Surah Nahl (16): 87]

Submission can be analyzed in two ways here:

  1. Apparent submission
  2. Submission from the heart

Apparent submission means that a person submits on a topic superficially while he doesn’t actually accept it from his heart. Rather, he would oppose this topic at the first available opportunity. This has been mentioned in the Holy Quran as such:

“The Bedouins proclaim that they have accepted faith, then you inform them that you all haven’t actually believed rather you all should say that you have professed to the acceptance of Islam and belief hasn’t yet entered into your hearts”.

[Surah Hujuraat (49): 14]

The relation between Islam and Imaan (belief)

The aforementioned verse points towards a very clear distinction between those people who claim to have accepted Islam but haven’t progressed through the various levels of belief. Islam can be accepted in the meaning of submission only when those who claim to accept it, understand its actual meaning and concept which, at its very core, is accepting the guidance and mastership of Ahle Bait (peace be upon them). Without this belief, their acceptance of Islam would be hollow and nothing more than an apparent shape and structure of Islam, devoid of its soul. Hence through the apparent acceptance of Islam a person can profess to be a Muslim but cannot be called a Mo’min (believer).

Now we shall mention a tradition from Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) on the topic of Islam and belief, in which he (peace be upon him) says:

“Islam refers to those apparent things which are generally accepted by the people viz. the belief in Divine Monotheism, Prophethood of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), reciting the daily prayers, giving Zakat, performing Hajj and fasting in the month of Ramazan, are all referred to as Islam. But belief is accepting the guidance and mastership of the Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) along with the aforementioned actions. If a person fulfills all of the former but does not accept the mastership of the Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) then even though he may be considered to be a Muslim he would be deviated (he wouldn’t be a believer).”

[Tafseer al-Burhan, vol. 4, p. 212, H. 5; Al-Kaafi, vol. 2, p. 24, H. 4]

Apparent submission can be a cause of punishment for a person. As an example, Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Quran that whosoever turns away from Allah and His orders i.e. he acts upon jealousy, greed, narcissism, etc. then Allah shall cause punishment to descend upon him. Apparently a person is aware of these orders and understands and accepts them but these do not actually enter into the depths of his heart.

“And although their hearts were certain about those miracles, still they did not accept them due to arrogance and rebellion. Then (O Prophet) see the fate of those who spread corruption.”

[Surah Naml (27): 14]

This is the miraculous nature of the words of God which has so eloquently expressed this psychological aspect. Even though their hearts were absolutely certain about it, they still did not accept it out of rebellion and arrogance.

Firaun was well aware that Prophet Moosa (peace be upon him) was speaking the truth and his intellect too had accepted the veracity of the words of Prophet Moosa (peace be upon him) but it was his arrogance, love of position and power and his desire for kingship and rulership which stopped his heart from accepting Prophet Moosa (peace be upon him).

Muawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan knew Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon them) much better than others but he did not submit to him and destroyed his hereafter by bearing hatred and enmity towards him.

Submitting from the heart

This is the true submission which guarantees Paradise. When the light of submission illuminates in the heart of a person then there are no boundaries which limit its expanse. This is real submission which a person accepts from his heart. Faith and action are the fruits of true submission. We shall further discuss this form of submission.

It would not be inappropriate to say that when apparent submission transforms into true submission, a person ascends a heavenly position wherein sometimes he resembles Salman al-Muhammadi (may Allah have mercy on him), Hurr Ibn Yazid al-Riyahi and at times Zohair Ibn Qain al-Bajali, Haroon al-Makki, Fuzail Ibn Yasaar, Kulaib al-Tasleem, etc. But at the same time, if this submission would remain restricted to a person’s thoughts and not translate into actions, then he would tread the footsteps of Hassaan Ibn Saabit, Ali Ibn Hamzah al-Bataaeni and Shalmaghani (may Allah curse them).

When a person enters into the realms of submission, he himself understands that no doubts can be raised against the Imam appointed by Allah. If an apple was to be split into two parts and kept before Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) and he were to adjudicate that one portion of the apple is Halaal while the other portion is Haraam then there is no room for someone who possesses true submission to question any part of this judgment.

Let us observe aspects of this true submission through traditions of the Infallible Imams (peace be upon him).

“A complete submission means submit to Him with Mastership and whatever has reached us from Him.”

[Tafseer al-Qummi, vol. 2. p. 196; Tafseer al-Burhaan, vol. 4, p. 488]

Abu Baseer asked Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) about Surah Ahzaab verse 56, to which Imam (peace be upon him) replied:

“To send salutations upon them and to submit completely before them!”

[Al-Mahaasin, vol. 1, p. 271]

Abu Hashim narrates that I was with Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) in the Holy Mosque of Mecca. The governor of the city went up to the pulpit and delivered the Friday sermon in which he said:

“Surely Allah and His angels send salutations unto the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). O you who believe! You too send salutations upon him and submit a complete submission.”

Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) addressed me: “O Abu Hashim! What do these people know about the exegesis of this verse?” Then he (peace be upon him) explained:

“Submit a complete submission to the mastership of Ali (peace be upon him).”

“And on that day, they shall stand submissively before Allah.”

[Surah Nahl (16): 87]

“Surely Allah and His angels send salutations unto the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). O you who believe! You too send salutations upon him and submit a complete submission.”

[Surah Ahzaab (33): 56]

“The Bedouins claim that they have brought faith, O Prophet! Inform them that they haven’t brought faith rather they should say that we have accepted Islam, while faith has not yet entered into their hearts.”

[Surah Hujuraat (49): 14]

“And they rejected the miracles despite having certitude about them due to their prejudice and pride. Then see how the end of was of the corrupted.”

[Surah Naml (27): 14]

“(Prophet Moosa (peace be upon him)) said: Surely you know that none have revealed these miracles except the Lord of the heavens and the earth as proofs and surely I think you O Firaun that you are destroyed.”

[Surah Bani Israel (17): 102]

“And they have hearts but they do not understand through them.”

[Surah A’raaf (7): 179]

“Have they not travelled in the land so that they may have hearts through which they may understand?”

[Surah Hajj (22): 46]

Now let us glance through some historical incidents to understand the effects and blessings of this true submission. If we were to look at the beginnings of Islam then among the foremost ones the name of Hassaan Ibn Saabit stands out. He had the good fortune to meet the five great infallible ones viz. Holy Prophet, Ameerul Momineen, Janabe Zahra, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace be upon them). He was a companion of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and was present at the time of Ghadeer in 10 A.H. He pledged allegiance to Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon them) and even composed poems glorifying the appointment of Ameerul Momineen (peace be upon him). But unfortunately this was only an apparent submission, not true submission. Due to this, during the reign of Usmaan when he was asked whether Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) was right or Usmaan? He replied, “I don’t know”. When someone asked Ameerul Momineen (peace be upon him) about Hassaan Ibn Saabit after his death, whether he died as a Shia of Ameerul Momineen (peace be upon him). Imam (peace be upon him) responded: “One who dies without recognizing the Imam of his time has died the death of disbelief and hypocrisy.” i.e. Hassaan died a death of disbelief and hypocrisy – which implies that not having true submission towards the Imam appointed by Allah would lead a person to unending tribulations of Hell fire.

Karbala stands as the fundamental source of our beliefs and our existence. Can anyone claim that the killers of Imam Husain (peace be upon him) did not recognize him? They too were on the position of only apparently submission (of Tauheed and Prophethood) but were devoid of true submission due to which they became deserving of the fire of Hell. History is replete with such individuals.

Hasan Ibn Ali al-Washsha says that one day, my master Imam Reza (peace be upon him) called me to Marw and addressed me as such:

“O Hasan, today Ali Ibn Hamzah al-Bataaeni has died and has entered into his grave at this hour. Then the two angels of the grave entered and asked him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He replied ‘Allah!’ Then they asked him, ‘who is your Prophet?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny)!’ Then they asked, ‘who is your Master?’ He replied, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon them)!’ They went on, ‘After him?’ He replied, ‘Hasan (peace be upon him)!’ They continued, ‘And after him?’ He replied, ‘Husain (peace be upon him)!’ ‘Then who?’, they asked. He said, ‘Ali Ibn Husain (peace be upon them)!’ They asked ‘and who after him?’ He responded, ‘Muhammad Ibn Ali (peace be upon them)!’ They asked further, ‘and who after him?’ He replied, ‘Jafar Ibn Muhammad (peace be upon them)!’ They asked, ‘after him?’ He replied, ‘Musa Ibn Jafar (peace be upon them)!’ When they asked, ‘and who after him?’, he stuttered. They rebuked him and asked him again, ‘who after him?’ He was still silent. They asked him sternly, ‘Did Musa Ibn Jafar (peace be upon them) not inform you of this affair i.e. Imamat of Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Reza (peace be upon them)?’ Then the two angels struck him with a rod made of fire and they filled his grave with fire till the Day of Judgment.”

I left the presence of my master, recorded that day and in just a few days I received a letter from the people of Kufa informing about the death of Bataaeni on the very same day which Imam (peace be upon him) had mentioned and that he had been put into the grave at that very time.

[Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 49, p. 58]

It should be borne in mind that Ali Ibn Hamza al-Bataaeni was not an ordinary person. He was from among the closest companions of Imam Musa Ibn Jafar al-Kazim (peace be upon them) and was considered to be among his reliable and trustworthy confidants. But later turned a Waaqifi[1] and denied the Imamat of Imam Reza (peace be upon him). This was because he had submission to the Imam of his time was only apparent and not from his heart.

There are other examples such as Muhammad Ibn Ali al-Shalmaghaani al-Azaqari during the minor occultation who was from the companions of Imam Hasan al-Askari (peace be upon him) and wrote many books. During the time of the third special deputy Husain Ibn Rauh Nawbakhti, Shalmaghaani falsely claimed to be a special representative of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance) and went astray. Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance) sent a letter in which he has cursed him.

[Mahdi Mau’ood (translation of Behaar al-Anwaar, v. 51), p. 685)]

After all what caused Shalmaghaani to deviate? Did he not possess apparent submission? Definitely he did, but because he did not truly submit from his heart, he rejected the mastership of Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him). In order to further understand this true submission from the heart, let us have a look at lives of the true companions of the Ahle Bait (peace be upon them).

In the beginning of Islam, we find Hazrat Salman al-Muhammadi among the first of such true believers. His level of submission was such that he would literally walk in the footsteps of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). He was at the position of absolute acceptance and belief for every word and every action of Ahle Bait (peace be upon them). This is probably the reason why Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said that Salman is from us, Ahle Bait (peace be upon them).

The great position and excellence of the martyrs of Karbala is solely due to their absolute submission. When confronted by death, they said: O grandson of the Prophet of Allah! Even if we were to be killed seventy times and brought back to life we will not give up our allegiance to you.

During the times of other Imams (peace be upon him) as well, we find such outstanding personalities like the companion of Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) – Haroon al-Makki. His submission towards the Imam (peace be upon him) was to such an extent that one day when Imam (peace be upon him) ordered him to enter into a burning furnace, with no questions asked, Haroon just leapt into it. After some time, he was seen sitting in the fire and glorifying Allah!

[Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 47, p. 105]

Mukhtar Ibn Zaid al-Shahham narrates from Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) that I met Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) and I spoke to him about one of our companions whose name was Kulaib. Whatever we mention in front of him (from your narrations) he immediately says “I submit and accept”. So we have named him as “Kulaib al-Tasleem” (Kulaib, the submissive one). Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) said:

“May Allah have mercy upon him!” Then he asked: “Do you know what submission is?” We were silent. Then Imam (peace be upon him) informed: “To be humble before Allah.”

Then Imam (peace be upon him) recited the below verse from the Holy Quran: “Those who bring faith and do good actions and are humble before their Lord.”

[Surah Hud (11): 23] [Al-Kaafi, vol. 1, p. 391]

Our salvation is solely dependent on true submission to Ahle Bait (peace be upon them). It is a caravan which is moving towards its destination with a burning lamp guiding towards the Mastership of Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) – a burning lamp which illuminates the hearts with the light of Wilayat. This caravan makes the path of truth easy for those who seek it. It is that voice which awakens a person’s intellect and drives him towards action and understanding. If few actions from our side result in the Imam (peace be upon him) turning towards us then this would be a cause of salvation from all calamities which surround us in this world.

Here, few actions from our side, is about being mindful that we should be attentive towards the Imam of our time. We should strive day and night to fulfill his rights upon us. We should focus our world-weary eyes towards those places which increase our proximity towards the Imam of our time. Our destination is the camp of the Holy Imam (peace be upon him) and this is the essence of absolute submission to Allah and His representative on this earth.

Absolute submission to the words and actions of Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) makes one eligible for Mercy and Forgiveness from Allah and is the sole path of salvation. Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance) in one of his letters has referred to this very discussion by stating: “Then obey Allah and be submissive towards us…”

[Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 53, p. 179]

And in another letter, “O Mehzam… and only those who submit shall acquire salvation.”

[Al-Kaafi, vol. 1, p. 368]

[1] Those who believe in the Imamat of only 7 Imams i.e. up to Imam Kazim (peace be upon him) are known as Waaqefi

August 31, 2020