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Exegesis of Ziaarat-e-Waaresah

In the previous Muharram issue (1424 AH), we had initiated discussion on the exegesis of Ziarate Warisa. In this edition, we take our discussion a step further.I bear witness that you established the prayer, gave the poor-rate (zakaat), exhorted towards good, prohibited evil and obeyed Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.) until such a time that you were martyred. (Complete) – this is derived from the root (Complete) which means to bear witness or give testimony. In Islam, giving witness is a subject that has much importance. Let us get a holistic opinion on this topic so as to appreciate its significance.

Invoking interest towards giving witness

The Holy Quran and the traditions of the infallibles (a.s.) have time and  gain  urged the Muslims to give testimony in favour of truth and uprightness. This testimony must be made sincerely, in Allah’s Way, and for no other consideration. Allah, the Almighty, commands:

‘…and give upright testimony for Allah…

                                                             (Surah Talaq (65) : 2)

‘…and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned…’

                                                        (Surah Baqarah (2) : 282)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) while elaborating such verses informs us,
‘If one gives a true witness with the intention that with it (his testimony), a Muslim shall be able to retrieve his right, on the Day of Judgement he shall be raised with a brilliance emanating from his face. This light shall be so radiant that eyes shall witness it in the distance till as far as they can see. There shall be nothing but light over there. People shall identify that person with his name, appearance and genealogy.’

                             (Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 104, pg. 311, tradition 9)

While advancing an exegesis on the verse 282 of Surah Baqarah, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) explains,
‘It is inappropriate for one to decline an invitation for giving testimony by declaring – I shall not give testimony in your favour.’

                     (Tafseer-e- Ayyashi, vol. 1, pg. 156, tradition 524)

‘When you are called upon to give testimony, then comply (with the request).’

                                   (Tehzeeb, vol. 6, pg. 275, tradition 752)

To conceal witness

Just like the two weighty entities (Holy Quran and Ahle Bait (a.s.)) have outlined the positives of giving testimony, they have also condemned the concealing of witness. The Holy Quran admonishes:

‘And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony that he has from Allah?’

                                                                 (Surah Baqarah (2) : 140)

In the same chapter, Allah cautions:

‘…and do not conceal testimony, and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do.’

                                                            (Surah Baqarah (2) : 283)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) warns those who conceal the testimony thus:

‘One who conceals witness or gives a false testimony based on which a Muslim is killed or his property is confiscated, then he (concealer of testimony) shall be summoned on the Day of Judgement while his face will emanate so much darkness that nothing will be visible to the eye. The culprit’s face shall be impaired with cuts and bruises and the people shall recognise him by his appearance and genealogy.’

                  (Tafseer-e-Noorus Saqalain, vol. 1, pg. 301, tradition 1206)

In the exegesis of the 283rd verse of Surah Baqarah, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) elaborates,

‘His heart is surely sinful” means his heart has turned apostate.’

                (Tafseer-e- Noorus Saqalain, vol. 1, pg. 301, tradition 1207)

c. The etiquette of giving witness
When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was asked about the etiquette of giving testimony he instructed,

‘Do you see the sun? If the matter is as evident as the sun, then give testimony, else refrain from it.’

                                       (Wasaailush Shia, vol. 18, pg. 250, tradition 3)

On the same lines, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) commands,
‘Refrain from giving witness until the matter is apparent to you like the back of your hand.’

                                    (Usul-e-Kaafi, vol. 7, pg. 383, tradition 3)

Now that we have learnt the importance of giving testimony we must recite this Ziarat as well as all other Ziaaraat with earnestness and sincerity as we are testifying to the truthfulness and leadership (Imamat) of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). To abandon their Ziaaraat is like concealing the witness. Another important point we must note is that we must be well aware of the traits that form the subject matter of our testimony. In other words, we must recognise these infallibles (a.s.) in a manner becoming of their exalted status.

‘Most certainly you established the prayer.’

This statement is a testimony to the stature namaz has in the Islamic realm. According to several traditions, the intercession of the infallibles (a.s.) shall not extend to those who treat namaz insignificantly, then what can one say about those who abandon namaz completely?

It is most important that we establish namaz with all its prerequisites – we must pray at its time, with humility, reverence and tranquility, etc. In this context, Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) asserts,

‘The right of namaz (upon you) is that you acknowledge that namaz is a means to attain proximity with Allah. Then when you have understood this, you should stand in namaz like a humiliated, disgraced, hopeful, indigent, fearful person standing in front of his dominant Master and Lord. Tranquility, humility, awe, lowering of shoulders, supplicating in the best manner, securing the release of one’s neck from the shackles of sins and disobedience that have destroyed him. Indeed there is neither Power nor Strength except that of Allah.’

                                                    (Tohaful Uqool, pg. 258)

Namaz should not be offered in a state of laziness and sleepiness. Indeed Imam Husain (a.s.) set an example by offering namaz in a befitting manner.

‘And you gave the Zakaat (poor-rate)’.

This is the second witness we make alongside that of namaz. Often the word Zakaat has come in the Quran denoting ‘purity’ or ‘cleanliness’.

‘He will indeed be successful who purifies it.’

                                                                                          (Surah Shams (91) : 9)

‘…and were it not for Allah’s grace upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have ever been pure…’
                                                                      (Surah Nur (24) : 21)

At times this word is also employed to show ‘praise’. Nevertheless, over here it means the obligatory, financial responsibility that Allah has imposed on his financially capable servants. In the Holy Quran, Allah has decreed Zakaat in several places:

‘…and pay the poor-rate…’

                                                    (Surah Nur (24) : 56)

Unfortunately, most people are negligent and careless when it comes to discharging this crucial duty. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) underlines the severity of this negligence most aptly:

‘Allah has not imposed a responsibility on this nation more severe than Zakaat. The nation will get destroyed because of (negligence concerning) this very Zakaat.’

                                                           (Mishkaatul Anwaar, pg. 46)

Benefits of Zakaat

Paying the Zakaat has much significance and secures many benefits. Below we have narrated a few of these benefits.

  1. When Zakaat is not paid the earth withholds its bounties and treasures.
    In this context Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) informs,‘We found inscribed in the Book of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), when Zakaat is evaded the earth suppresses numerous bounties like foodgrains, fruits and mines.’

                  (Usul-e-Kaafi, vol. 2, pg. 374, tradition 2)
  2. Increase in wealth and prosperity is another benefit of fulfilling the obligation of Zakaat. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) advises,‘When you wish Allah to augment your (existing) wealth, then you must pay the Zakaat on it.’

                 (Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 96, pg. 23, tradition 54)

Indeed, offering Zakaat on one’s wealth does not lead to its diminution. This point has also been effectively highlighted by Imam Hasan Mujtaba (a.s.).
(Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 96, pg. 23, tradition 56)

For everything there is a Zakaat

According to traditions of the infallibles (a.s.), every bounty merits (offering of) Zakaat.In the list below we have mentioned some of Allah’s bounties with the Zakaat due on each bounty.

Bounty: Power/Ability
Zakaat: Justice

Bounty: Beauty
Zakaat: Chastity and Purity

Bounty: Wellbeing and Safety
Zakaat: Engrossment in divine obedience

Bounty: Bravery
Zakaat: Struggle in Allah’s path

Bounty: Physical health
Zakaat: Fasting Knowledge

Propagating it among others

If we consider ourselves as true Shias of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and take pride and comfort from this thought, then we must strive to fulfill this crucial obligation (of Zakaat). We must try to emulate our Master (i.e. Imam Husain (a.s.)) in this regard and enumerate ourselves in his select group of Shias. Undoubtedly this will endear us to Imam (a.s.) and will lead us to the highest grades of faith.

‘I bear witness that you commanded towards goodness and prohibited evil.’

Commanding towards goodness and prohibiting evil are traits that were personified in the persona of Imam Husain (a.s.). These are the lofty traits under the shelter of which Imam Husain (a.s.) led his life and ultimately gave up his life to attain the status of martyrdom.

This is exactly what he wills to his brother – Muhammad b. Hanafiyya before departing for Karbala:
‘I am not departing out of obstinacy, nor out of stubbornness, nor to create discord. Rather, I am undertaking this journey (to Karbala) to command towards goodness and prohibit evil.’

Now we must ask ourselves if we have faithfully fulfilled these twin obligations. Indeed, if we are dutiful in fulfilling these two responsibilities, most evils existing in society will be eradicated. The other effect will be that evil will hesitate to rear its ugly head, when its prohibition is a norm in the society.

The Holy Quran announces:

‘And from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and these it is that shall be successful.’

                                                                              (Surah Ale Imran (3) : 104)

In another place, commanding towards goodness and prohibiting evil are highlighted as attributes with which the believers embellish themselves.

‘And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil…’

                                                                                                    (Surah Tauba (9) : 71)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) says,

‘One who fulfills the obligation of commanding towards goodness and prohibiting evil is the representative of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.) on the earth.’

                         (Mustradrakul Wasail, vol. 12, pg. 179, tradition 13817)

In another tradition the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informs,

‘Certainly Allah hates the weak believer who has no religion.’ The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was asked, ‘Who is the weak believer who has no religion?’ The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘The one who does not prohibit the people from doing evil.’

(Usul-e-Kafi, vol. 5, pg. 59, tradition 15)

The minimum levels of prohibiting evil

By virtue of being believers it is our duty to make an effort to thwart the disobedience of Allah from being perpetrated whenever we get the opportunity. This is what the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) commanded,

‘Whenever one of you witnesses an evil being perpetrated, you must prevent it. If you cannot obstruct it physically, then you must protest against it verbally. If you cannot even do that, then you must express your detest (against the evil) in the heart.’

(Muntakhab Mizanil Hikmah, pg. 435)

Ameerul Mo’mineen, Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) admonishes,

‘One who no longer shows his loathing and detest for evil by his heart, his hands or his tongue, he is like a corpse amongst the living ones.’

(Tehzeeb vol. 6, pg. 181, tradition 374)

‘You obeyed Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.).’

And you obeyed Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.). Like other Imams (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.) too was the paragon of obedience and submission to Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.). In fact, he was the living exemplar of the Quranic verse,

‘O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle…’

                                                                                                 (Surah Nisaa (4) : 59)

And in the way of this obedience and submission he did not heed the accusation of any accuser. He never sought the pleasure of the people at the expense of divine obedience. The most evident sign of immorality and impiety in a person is his desire for the satisfaction and pleasure of the creation even if it involves the displeasure and dissatisfaction of Allah – his Benefactor and Creator. From the morality of Imam Husain (a.s.), we draw an important lesson – as his Shias we too must never compromise on Allah’s Pleasure and Satisfaction to oblige our friends and relatives. Should we ever be confronted with such a dilemma we must never hesitate even for a moment to choose Allah’s pleasure and wishes over those of our loved ones. As a matter of fact, if we see our relatives and friends involved in acts that incur divine wrath, we should warn them and prevent them from committing such acts. If Allah forbid, we are satisfied with their actions, we shall be included as partners in their perpetration.

‘If one is satisfied with the action of a nation, he is like the one who has participated in it.’

Imam Husain (a.s.) sacrificed his entire household, friends and companions in Allah’s Obedience and Pleasure so as to underline the importance of Islamic values.

‘Until death did not beckon you.’

This implies that until he breathed his last, Imam Husain (a.s.) observed prayers (namaz), paid the poor rate (zakaat), fulfilled the obligation of inviting towards goodness and prohibiting evil and obeyed Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.). Imam Husain (a.s.) became the ideal of the Quranic verse:

‘And serve your Lord until there comes to you that which is certain.’

                                                                                                (Surah Hijr (15) : 99)

Why is death referred to as (Complete)? Litterateurs are of the view that death and certainty (Complete) are used synonymously for two reasons. Firstly, (Complete) refers to something the occurrence of which is a certainty and leaves no room for any doubt or ambiguity. Death fits this definition and is therefore equated with (Complete). Secondly, death will unveil the truth and reality. In other words, speculation and conjecture will turn into (Complete). That is why while discussing death, Allah declares in the Holy Quran:

‘Certainly you were heedless of it, but now We have removed from you your veil, so your sight today is sharp.’

                                                                                          (Surah Qaaf (50) : 22)

‘Then may Allah curse the nation that killed you, and may Allah curse the nation that oppressed you, then may Allah curse the nation that on hearing about it (i.e. Imam’s (a.s.) martyrdom) were pleased with it, O my master, O Abu Abdillah.’

(Complete) means to distance oneself from something or to drive a thing away from oneself. In Islam, cursing (the enemies of Allah, His Messenger (s.a.w.a.) and the Ahle Bait (a.s.)) has much significance. In the special edition of Al-Muntazar (1414 AH) we have elaborated on this along with the etiquette of cursing. Interested readers are requested to refer to it.

It is apparent that the killers of Imam Husain (a.s.) were not Muslims although they did claim to be from the Islamic nation (ummat). These were the very Muslims who had pronounced the dual testimony but faith had yet not penetrated their hearts. On several occasions, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had expressed concern for the steadfastness of his nation on true faith, and their deviation (from the right path) was a subject that constantly disturbed him. Indeed the killers of Imam (a.s.) had selected as their leader a deviated and oppressive person. They submitted to the unlawful, succumbed to their base desires, were devoted to the passions of belly and private parts, chose deviation after recognition, donned the mantle of hypocrisy, were pleased and even prided themselves on ill-gotten gains, filled their bellies with earnings from interest, and usury, protracted desires were their lot, they impeded people from accepting the truth and from acknowledging the authority of the (rightful) Imam, the Day of Judgement was a neglected matter, pretensions and ostentation were their guiding lights, their speech was attractive but their hearts were hideous, they were completely immersed in the world and its trappings. Can one accept these traits as Islamic? Can the nation of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) be adorned with such a persona? Never! So was this nation on the same religion as their leader – the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)? Were the above-mentioned traits of this nation suggestive of the religion of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)? No, certainly no!

By no stretch of imagination can one conclude that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) would have accepted the intense thirst and hunger, and the eventual martyrdom of his beloved grandson? No!

Leave alone faith, this nation displayed such intense hypocrisy and apostasy in perpetrating a crime, that it can find no expression in words. Indeed, may Allah curse the nation! Over here one point that must be underscored is that those who sympathised or expressed an iota of approval with the perpetrators of this horrendous crime are deemed to be hand in glove with them in committing this crime and are included in the curse and chastisement that shall befall the killers of Imam Husain (a.s.).

‘O my master!’

In the special issue of Al-Muntazar, marking the 1400 anniversary of Ghadeer, we have outlined in some detail the meaning of Master from Quran and traditions. Respected readers are requested to refer to this issue to refresh their memory and invigorate their faith and certainty.

The fact of the matter is that if we consider Imam Husain (a.s.) as our master and we regard ourselves as his slave and bondsman, then to act on his traditions, admonitions and counsel and emulate his actions becomes our most critical responsibility. And in order to do this successfully, we must be well aware of his traditions, his admonitions and his Sunnat. In this way alone, we can aspire to be his Shias and supporters. God forbid, it should not be that we adorn ourselves with the very traits that were a stigma on Yazid and his supporters. If we wish to be reckoned among the Shias and companions of Imam Husain (a.s.) we must try to adorn our character with the attributes and qualities that the infallible Imams (a.s.) have imparted to us.

Inshallah, we shall continue the remaining part of the Ziarat in the next edition.

September 1, 2020