Among the fundamental tenets of Islam is the complete and comprehensive subservience to the Prophet (s.a.w.s)’s progeny i.e. the Ahle Bayt (a.s.). The Prophet’s assertion in this regard, bears ample evidence to this doctrine.
“I leave in your midst two important legacies viz. the Book of Allah (Quran) and my progeny, Ahle Bayt (a.s). If you fasten on to them firmly after me, you shall never be deviated. These two shall never separate (from each other) until they meet me at the fountains of Kauthar.”
The authenticity of this tradition is firmly established so as to dispel the need for references. It clearly purports that adherence to the Quran and Ahle Bait (a.s.) alone will save a Muslim from the pitfalls and protect him from the clutches of Satan. An important criteiron for complete obedience and subservience however, is that one be closely acquainted with the true leaders. For, to expect that level of obedience without proper recognition is both irrational and unreasonable. However, where the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) are concerned, one pertinent point that needs to be addressed is whether we are capable of totally comprehending their venerable station (on our own). Imam Sadiq (a.s.) proclaims,
“Their intellect can never grasp (the Imam) and reflections will fall short of comprehending him.”
(Usool al-Kali, vol. 1, Kitab al-Hujjah)
Notwithstanding his phenomenal advancement, man is totally mystified and baffled when it comes to understanding the exalted position of the divinely guided Imams ((a.s.)). Their august position is impossible for man to perceive employing his own limited powers of perception. However, it would become much easier to discern their status in the light of tradition from infallible Imams (a.s.) themselves. Traditions from Imam Hussain (a.s.) in this regard are most fascinating providing us with an invaluable insight.
MAN IS UNABLE TO DIGEST THE VIRTUES OF THE AT-WE BAYT (A.S.)
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) narrates thus
“Some men approached Imam Hussain (a.s.) beseeching ‘0 Aba Abdillah! Enlighten us with your virtues through which Allah has made you eminent’ Imam (a.s.) warned,
“You will not be able to understand these merits nor do you have the capacity to digest them.’ However they persisted in their demands till Imam (a.s.) relented and said ‘Okay, you consider yourselves capable of comprehending our position, then one of you may stay with me while the other two may stand at a distance. I will relate our virtues to the one with me. If he is indeed able to grasp it I will willingly repeat it before the others.’ In accor ance with Imam (a.s.)’s request, two persons distanced themselves while one of them remained with Imam (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) then began enumerating the superiority of the Ahle Bayt (a.s.), so much so that that man was stupefied. His countenance changed dramatically, turning pale, shock and disbelief written all over it. Later when his companions inquired front him, he, in his bewilderment, could evoke no response.”
(Al Kharaaej wa al-Jaraeh, vol.2 page 795 by Qutbuddin Raawandi, Muntakhab al- Basaaer, p.
108 by Saffar and Ishaat al-Hudaat, vol 5 p 194 hadis 34 by Shaykh Hurr Aamili )
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) relates another tradition that echoes the one above
“A person approached Imam Hussain (a.s.) requesting him ‘Enumerate for me those virtues that Allah (the Glorified) has specifically bestowed on you.’ Imam (a.s.) cautioned, You shall find it difficult to digest our virtues. However that man did not desist and Imam (a.s.) yielded to his demands by narrating only one tradition. Imam had not vet finished with his narration, that the man’s condition metamorphosed radically and his hair and beard turned completely white. Immediately, he was made to forget that tradition. Later Imam (a.s.) said, It was only with mercy that my narration was erased from his memory.”
(Al Kharaaej vol 6 page 795, Behaar al Anwaar vol 25 page 379 Had. 27, Ishaat al-Hudaat, vol. 5 page 195 Had. 35)
The conclusion from the above traditions is evident. The Ahle Bayt (a.s.) and their virtues are beyond human intellect. Indeed man can only fathom them with Allah’s mercy. Not surprisingly then, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) has claimed,
“I am afraid that if I reveal (to you) the treasures of my knowledge, you may declare my murder to be admissible.”
This is precisely why Imam (as.) has declared
“Short of Godhood, you may attribute us with anything.”
AHLE BAYT (A.S.) CREATION PRECEDED THAT OF HAZRAT ADAM (AS.)
Habib b. Mazaahir (may Allah illumine his countenance) inquired from Imam Hussain (a.s.)
“In what form did you exist before the creation of Hazrat Adam (a.s.)?”
Imam (a.s.) replied:
“We existed in shadows of light hovering near the Arsh (Allahs’ throne). We were the ones who parted to the angels the method of glorification of Allah and His worship and His Veneration.”
(Behaar al Anwaar, v.60, p. 311)
AHLE BAYT (A.S.) – THE FOUNDATION OF ISLAM
Imam Baqir (a.s.) narrates from Imam Hussain as who recounts
“In his farewell Hajj, the Prophet (s.a.) after performing all the necessary rituals of Hajj, mounted on his steed and declare, ‘None shall enter the Paradise save a Muslim.’ This prompted Abu Zar Ghafari(r.a.) to ask the Prophet (s.a.) ‘O Messenger of Allah(s.a.)! Tell us what is Islam? Holy Prophet (s.a.) elaborated,’
‘Islam is devoid of any robe but the robe of piety and self-restraint. Modesty is its splendour. Waraa and abstinence are its criteria. (warra means to practice abstinence even in one’s thoughts or at least to make an attempt in that direction). Religion is its perfection while action is its consummation. Every structure necessitates a foundation and the love of Able Bait (a.s.) is the foundation of Islam. A structure is as good as its foundation. For an insipid ‘foundation will spell imminent collapse for the structure.”‘
(Ibid. v.68, p. 281, narrating from Al-Mahaasin by al-Barqi ).
BENEFITS OF ATTACHMENT WITH THE AHLE BAYT (A.S.)
- Aban b. Taghlab narrates from Imam Husain (a.s.) who said,
“One who loves the Ahle Bayt is from the Ahle Bayt.”
Incredulously I asked Imam
“From the Ahle Bayt?!”
Imam (as.) reiterated thrice emphatically,
“Yes, from us, the Ahle Bait! Certainly the one who follows us is from us.”
(Nuz’ah al-Naaair via Tanbeeh al-Khaatir, p. 58, H 19)
This tradition explicitly states that love for the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) is a necessary, but not a sufficient
condition for being accounted among them. Love apart, one’s deeds must also mirror their deeds.
- Imam Hussain (a.s.) narrates,
“Love of the Ahle Bayt (as) sheds sins like the gust of wind sheds leaves from the trees. Then one who claims to be our friend must don the garb of piety and virtue and repeatedly seek forgiveness from Allah with contrition. Inshallah, his sins will be pardoned”
(Footnotes of Taarikh Ibn Asaakir, p. 159).
- The Chief of the Martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.) declares,
“Enjoin on yourselves the love of Ahle Bayt for only our adherent will receive our intercession”
(Ehqaaq al-Haqq by Qaazi Noorullah Shustari, v.11,091)
All the above mentioned traditions are unequivocal in their suggestion. They reiterate in no uncertain terms that only strict adherence to the Ahle Bayt (a.s.), in both letter and spirit, will merit any kind of intercession on the Day of Judgement.
THE ASSAULT OF CALAMITIES
Imam Hussain (a.s.) elucidates,
“By Allah? Poverty, deprivation, indigence and martyrdom afflict our Shias faster than wild horses and a raging storm”
(Behaar al-Anwaar, v. 67, p. 246)
This tradition asserts that claims of proximity to the Ahle Bayt by no means entail automatic immunity from misfortune and adversity. Rather, a Shia should be equipped for calamities. Forsurely, adversity is the acid test of a person’s faith and separates the wheat from the chaff. Besides, sufferings and calamities are the factors underlying true friendship and devotion. Traditions also echo this sentiment thus,
“Every misfortune guises love.”
However, that is not to say that being a Shia is a precursor for perpetual misfortune. No, a Shia may also get a taste of the finer things in life like wealth, riches and other comforts, if Allah so wishes. As Quran proclaims,
HOSTILITY TO THE AHLE BAYT (A.S.)
Imam Hussain (a.s.) reminisces,
“In the Prophet’s era, we used to identify the hypocrites by their animosity towards Ali and his children (a.s.).”
(Uyoono Akhbaar al-Reza, vol. 2, page 72, by Shaykh Sadooq r.a.).
Indeed, it is ironical how the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) despite their perfection and infallibility had to counter such severe hostility and oppression from the Ummah. Imam Hussain (a.s.) also wonders aloud
“I am unable to comprehend why the people oppose us and despise us while certainy we are the edifice of mercy; the tree of Prophethood and the mines and treasures of knowledge”
(Nuz’ah al-Naazir, p. 85)
But what lead to this malice and hatred? When were the seeds of this hostility sown and where were they nourished? Replies to these questions are unfolded on the day of Ashoora, when Imam Hussain (a.s.) beseeches the enemy and demands from them the reason for their enmity and viciousness. His blood-thirsty adversaries reply succinctly:
“Because of hatred for your father Abi Talib (a.s.)”
Imam Zamana (a.tfs) has articulated this sense of hostility against Ali (a.s.) in Dua-e-Nudbah with stirring melancholy,
“And after the Prophet, Ali was a guidance from deviation, a light from (blinding) darkness, the strong cord of Allah and His right path. His proximity in ties of relationship with the Prophet is unparalleled and his stature in religion is without precedent. And none can emulate him in his virtues. He treaded the path treaded by the Messenger of Allah, may bless them both and their progeny And he contended on (the basis of) interpretation and he was not distracted from the way of Allah by the accusation of any accuser. Indeed he spilled the blood of the Arabian warriors, slew their valiant fighters and vanquished their wolves. As a result, their (the Meccan idolators) hearts were filled with malice and animosity due to the battles Badr, Khaiber, Hunain, etc. Then, the Ummah was adamant on his detest, gathered to cut all relations with him and take revenge from his children. Till such a time that he killed the violators of allegiance, the unjust and the renegades (i.e. in the battles of Siffin, Naharwan and Jamal). And when his life term was about to end, the most accursed wretch from the last era, following the one of the earlier era (referring to Qedaar Bin Salaf the murderer of the she-camel of Allah, the miracle of Prophet Saaleh), martyred him.”
(Extracts from Doa-e-Nudbah).