A Summary of Islamic Beliefs, Practical Laws and Ethical Issues
In the Name of Allah
Hojjat al-Islam Wal Muslimeen Haj Shaykh Muhammad Nazari
Translated from Persian into English by:
Dr. Hyder Reza Zabeth
Imam Ali (A.S.) said:
Your brothers are of three kinds:
1. A brother of yours from one father and mother.
2. A brother of yours following your religion.
3. A brother of yours who is common in creation like you.
In the global charter of human rights all the human beings are considered equal and the national and racial discrimination are rejected. Authoritarianism and colonization are condemned, rational foundations are valued and criteria of superiority is given to reasoning, logic and rationalism and for this basis the freedom of thought and reasoning and the freedom of expression and writing are considered as the ways of reaching this sublime and ideal goals. Therefore, it is up to us to declare our thoughts and doctrines and it is up to the possessors of knowledge and thinking that if they find it according to their pure nature should contemplate and investigate them and finally the word of truth and path of reality should be chosen.
Tawhid (Oneness of God "Monotheism") and Knowing God:
We believe the world we live in is full of beauty and place of amazement and wonder and is the proof of discipline and system dominating this world and proves the knowledge and power of the creator of this world. It is impossible to think that the source of creation of this universe is unwise nature and the creation of this universe was due to an explosion and vague incident. The laws dominating this world which the human beings have been able to unravel it demonstrates the signs of the extraordinary power which has created the beings in the world and these wonders of knowledge cannot be attributed to non-scientific source.
Based on these findings, we believe that the creator of the world is a being, with absolute perfection and do not have any defect or in need of any other being and the name of this absolute perfection is known as God. He is the source of creation of this world and every movement takes place according to His will and power. He after creation of this world of nature had dominated special laws based on cause and effect and every work takes place according to this basis. We believe that the necessary existent is the prime cause and effect of the beings and possesses all the absolute perfection and has complete sovereignty over the existing worlds and nothing is hidden from Him. He is Wise because He possesses perfect knowledge and power and He possesses all the positive attributes because He is absolute perfection. He does not have any negative attributes because He is away from any defect and disability because He is absolute perfection, He is rightful and worthy of worship and His praise is incumbent on every human being.
We believe that God is Wise and has a purpose in creating the human being and has also informed the human being with its goal and during their life has asked them to tread in the way of the true goal and that goal is the perfection and prosperity of the human beings.
The limited life in this present world is only a step in reaching the eternal world. This world is the place of trial and gathering provisions for the next world. That promised day is the day when all the human beings should answer to their deeds and words and those with pious deeds will be awarded with heaven and those with evil deeds will be confined in the hell. The heaven is the place where the human beings will enjoy all the blessings and beauties which he was willing in this world and hell is the place where its inmates will get all the chastisements and tribulations from whom he was running away in this world.
We believe that belief in the world hereafter and the account of our deeds gives a meaning and direction to the human beings because if there is no belief in the world hereafter then the strength of oppressors and tyrants will increase and all the good values will be condemned and rejected. In that situation anybody will say to himself that in this world when we are living for some days so we should not lag behind in this worldly competition of power, attaining wealth and satisfying carnal human desires. In this way the world gets transformed into a hell where human beings with deception terror and horror will bring about complete mistrust. We say that Wise Creator of this present world has not even created this world in vain or for watching the good and bad scenes of this world but has a sublime and holy goal and purpose in the creation where this world as a step for the next world. In the world hereafter everybody will be benefited according to his provisions of this world and will be punished according to the degree of his evil deeds.
We believe that God has created human beings to live a prosperous life in this world and hereafter and He is a Wise and Merciful creator and thus it is necessary that He should assist the human beings in attaining the desired perfection because human beings while having all the virtues and possessing different sciences have many deficiencies in them. This is a fact which is accepted by all the prominent scholars in the world. How can this weak human being with such a condition achieve the prosperity of this world and the hereafter? For this reason we believe that Almighty God for explaining the knowledge of religion and guiding the human beings to right path and reality has sent prophets who receive these sciences and commandments from God and explain them to the human beings.
But certainly the prophets should possess great ethical and spiritual characteristics and these virtues are the ground for their selection to this
The most important marks of distinction of the divine prophets are as follows:-
1 – Infallibility: It means they are away from every form of error, sin, fault and evil and this is a condition because in that position they will be accepted and trusted by the general people and it is a ground for receiving revelation and connection with God.
2 – Knowledge: The prophets are superior to all other people in knowledge and science and know whatever he needs and whatever people wants from him.
Number of Prophets:
We believe that Almighty God in each time and in proportion to each place and nation sent prophets to perform the great responsibility of guiding the people.
The greatest prophets with their limit of responsibilities includes the whole world and all the people and contained special Shariat (sacred law) were five Arch-prophets , Hadrath Nuh (Noah) (A.S.), Hadrath Ibrahim (Abraham) (A.S.), Hadrath Musa (Moses) (A.S.), Hadrath Isa (Jesus) (A.S.) and Hadrath Muhammad (S.A.W.).
The followers of each of these prophets became famous by different names: The followers of Hadrath Nuh (A.S.) were known as "Saba'in" (Sabaeans), the followers of Hadrath Ibrahim were called as "Hanif" and these two prophets at present do not have any followers, the followers of Hadrath Musa (A.S.) are known as "Jews", the followers of Hadrath Isa (A.S.) are named Christians and the followers of Hadrath Muhammad (S.A.W.) are famous as Muslims.
Finality of the Prophethood:
We believe that with the advent of one of the Arch-prophets the sacred laws of the previous prophets are abrogated and followers of the previous prophets should follow the new prophet that is with the advent of Hadrath Ibrahim (A.S.) all the followers of Hadrath Nuh (A.S.) should follow Hadrath Ibrahim (A.S.). The followers of Hadrath Ibrahim (A.S.) should follow Hadrath Musa (A.S.) and with the advent of Hadrath Isa (A.S.) the followers of Hadrath Musa (A.S.) should follow Hadrath Isa (A.S.) and with the advent of Hadrath Muhammad (S.A.W.) all the followers of Hadrath Isa (A.S.) should follow Hadrath Muhammad (S.A.W.). Thus, all the religions finally end in Islam.
We Muslims, to prove the finality of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) have proofs which have been mentioned in our books of creed and the researchers can refer to them.
4. Imamat (Leadership):
After the death of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.), the Muslims were divided into two big groups:
First Group: They believe that after the death of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) there is no need of any prominent leader who should possess knowledge, infallibility and other conditions. But any of the followers and companions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) can become the religious leader. Basically in the issue of government one who merely claims to be a Muslim can claim the power and administration of the society and it is incumbent on the Islamic nation to follow him as the Caliph of the Muslims. This group came to be known as Ahl-Sunnah(Sunni).
Second Group: The second group is the people who believe that the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) was the last and final prophet sent by God and who by his prophetic mission brought a perfect religion for the humanity. After his death the connection between God and people has been cut off and it is one of the reasons for the comprehensiveness and finality of the religion of Islam. But after the passing away of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W) it is necessary for the Islamic nation to follow such persons who have superiority in all the human and Islamic attributes from all the other people of their time that means they should be superior in knowledge and science from every body and should be away from every error and fault. Thus, the religious leaders after the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) should possess two basic conditions of knowledge and infallibility and only those persons possessing these two qualities deserve to be the Imam and leader of the Muslims. This group of Muslims is known as "Shia."
Now we are expressing ourselves to you as we are the followers of this doctrine and thought and to authenticate our beliefs which we have mentioned them with proofs in our books of creed.
We Shi'ites Muslims believe that after the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) only twelve distinguished personalities who possessed the characteristics of Imamat (leadership) like knowledge and infallibility one after another guided the people and their names in respect to their chronology of their lives and Imamat of these great personalities are a follows:
First Imam: Hadrath Ali bin Abi Taleb "Al-Murtada" (A.S.)
Second Imam: Hadrath Hasan bin Ali "Al-Mujtaba" (A.S.)
Third Imam: Hadrath Husain bin Ali "Sayyid-uz-Shuhada" (A.S.)
Fourth Imam: Hadrath Ali bin al-Husain "As-Sajjad" (A.S.)
Fifth Imam: Hadrath Muhammad bin Ali "Al-Baqir" (A.S.)
Sixth Imam: Hadrath Jafar bin Muhammad "As-Sadiq" (A.S.)
Seventh Imam: Hadrath Musa bin Jafar "Al-Kazim" (A.S.)
Eighth Imam: Hadrath Ali bin Musa "Ar-Reza" (A.S.)
Ninth Imam: Hadrath Muhammad bin Ali "Al-Jawad" (A.S.)
Tenth Imam: Hadrath Ali bin Muhammad "Al-Hadi" (A.S.)
Eleventh Imam: Hadrath Hasan bin Ali "Al-Askari" (A.S.)
Twelfth Imam: Hadrath Hujjat bin Hasan "Al-Mahdi" (A.S.)
5-Mahdawiyat (Islamic Eschatology):
As mentioned on the basis of their sublime human and spiritual attributes and divine nomination these twelve holy personalities after the great Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) had the guidance and leadership of people in their hands and they carried out their divine mission taking into consideration the exigencies of their time and the last among these personalities is Imam Mahdi (A.S).
Imam Mahdi (A.S.) was born in the year 255 A.H./ and after the martyrdom of his holy father he became the Imam of the Islamic Ummah. As this Imam is the Last Divine Treasure and possessing all the qualities and characteristic of Imamat, first had the "Minor Occultation" period which lasted for 69 years, in which his close followers had relations with him. After that the "Major Occultation" period started which is continuing till today. According to divine order the direct connection with the Living Imam of the Age is cut off but everybody is awaiting his reappearance and advent and the Promised Mahdi will establish the ‘Universal Islamic Government’ and will fill the world with justice and equity after his reappearance.
Indeed, during the period of "Major Occultation" the presence of the Hidden Imam has special benefits for the Islamic Ummah. It is mentioned in the traditions that the presence of Imam Mahdi (A.S.) is like the sun hidden behind the clouds. The issue of Mahdawiyat is one of the important issues in the Shi'ite doctrine and has been discussed in detail in various books and those interested can refer to them.
6-Vilayat-e Faqih (The Guardianship of the Jurisprudent):
As per special order of Imam Mahdi (A.S.) and instructions of the Infallible Imams (A.S.) and recommendations of the religious leaders, the Muslims are incumbent during the "Major Occultation" period in all the religious, political, worldly and heavenly affairs to follow the jurisprudents that is a jurisprudent with all-embracing characteristics. In the Islamic government this personality is selected by the assembly of the jurisprudents and experts in religion called as "the Assembly of the Experts" and he addresses the questions and issues of the people and Islamic order.
The representatives of "the Assembly of the Experts" who possess high positions in knowledge and ethics and other potentials are elected by the direct vote of the people so that leader selected by this assembly should enjoy the popular support of the Muslim society and its people.
Maraje (the Leading Jurisprudents):
In addition to the highest position of the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent (Vali-e Faqih) in every period there are also some other leading jurisprudents possessing high positions in knowledge and spirituality but they may not be possessing all the conditions for the major political management of the Muslim society. They are famous as the Maraje (the leading jurisprudents) who express their findings in jurisprudential issues and the Muslims can follow the edicts of any one of these leading jurisprudents in all their religious and personal affairs.
The Islamic Republic Government:
This order among the political orders existing in the world comes into being based on the foundations of the religion of Islam and direct vote of the majority of the people in an Islamic society. The highest authority in this government is Vali-e Faqih (the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent) and the recognition and legitimacy of the order is dependant on his opinion. This honorable personality is selected by the elected representatives of the people in "the Assembly of Experts".
The Islamic government comprises of three powers:
The Executive Power: The administrators and executive officials are comprised of the president, cabinet members and different ministries.
The President: Among the leading political and religious personalities which have been approved by the Guardian Council is elected by the majority vote of the public.
The Legislature: The Islamic Consultative Assembly (the parliament) is comprised of the representatives elected directly by the people's vote. The representatives also possess the necessary ethical and social capabilities and are elected to the parliament by the direct vote of the people from their respective constituencies.
The Guardian Council: This council is formed by a group of experts in constitutional law and Islamic jurisprudence and they ratify all the laws passed by the parliament which are in accordance with the constitution and the sacred Islamic laws. The six Islamic jurisprudents of this council are nominated by the leader and three other members are nominated by the members of the parliament.
The Judiciary: It consists of special organizational structure and looks after all the legal and judicial affairs of the Islamic Republic order and the head of the judiciary is nominated by the leader.
Getting Acquainted With Islamic Laws
Part One: The Branches of Religion
Important doctrinal and practical laws of Islam are based on some axis which we point out briefly:
It is obligatory for all the Muslims to pray five times to express their thanks to all the blessings and bounties of God. These prayers can be performed in the house or in mosque and it can be performed individually or in the form of congregation. This prayer called as Namaz (Salat) is performed at dawn (Subh), noon (Zuhr), afternoon (Asr), evening (Maghrib) and night (Isha).
There are many recommended Namaz in Islam which are performed at different places and during different times. The way of performing the Namaz and its related rules are mentioned in the books related to Islamic practical laws.
It is obligatory for all the Muslims to fast in the holy month of Ramadan which is one of the Islamic lunar months. Muslims have to fast during this month from dawn to dusk and during this period should avoid eating and drinking and other acts which invalidate the fasting and thus train his soul and spirit with spiritual programs ordained for this month.
It is obligatory for all the Muslims to give one-fifth of their annual savings to the poor Sayyids and for strengthening and propagating Islam. This amount is given to the leading jurisprudents for the above-mentioned purpose.
If the amount of wheat, barley, date, raisin, sheep, cow, camel, gold and silver increases to a certain level then its owner has to pay a part of it to the poor, needy and for public utility works.
It is obligatory for all the Muslims to perform the Hajj pilgrimage once in his lifetime and it is recommended if possible to perform it every year. In this grand congregation millions of Muslims from every part of the world comprising of different sects gather in the holy city of Makkah and perform the rites of Hajj united.
It is obligatory for every Muslim to defend the religion, property, relatives and Islamic homeland against the aggression of the enemies in every possible way. But the order of Jihad is declared by Islamic ruler who is the jurisprudent with all the necessary qualifications.
7- Enjoining the Right
It is obligatory for every Muslim to invite others to the ethical and religious values and like a compassionate brother should take care of the others and the good and interests of others should be way of his action and he should not be different to the physical and spiritual well-being of the people.
8- Forbidding Evil
We Muslims are obliged to combat all the irreligious and immoral acts with logical ways and stop the sinners from committing sins.
We believe that enjoining right and forbidding evil is not only the duty of the government and a special organization but also of all the Muslims who feel obliged in the destinies of others and do not keep themselves aloof. But during the implementation of enjoining right and forbidding evil if necessity arises to arrest the persons or inflict corporal punishment then this duty lies with the Islamic government and judiciary officers who act according to the existing rules and regulations.
Some of the Islamic commandments have some limitations and the Muslims are obliged to act according to them like the rules of ritual purity and impurity.
Ritual Purity and Impurity
Islam considers all the things which are not connected to impure things or not mixed with impurities as pure and everything which we have to keep away from, are considered as impure for example if our body or clothes touches with impurities we have to clean them from the impurities and to make the place clean with water. Some of the impurities are as follows: urine, excreta, semen, blood, corpse, dog, pig, wine etc. It is interesting to note that these religious commandments shows the importance Islam has for cleanliness and hygiene of the society and the personal lives of the Muslims and the detailed rules in this regard are mentioned in the religious books and its reading is very interesting.
Lawful and Unlawful
Some of the Islamic commandments have been mentioned as lawful and unlawful. Lawful are the things which can be acted upon but one has to abstain from unlawful acts. Two examples:
1-Clothing and the Covering for Women
In Islam it is obligatory for women to completely cover their body from all non-congenial men and if they exhibit their hair and other parts of the body they have committed an illegal act. Father, brother, paternal uncle, maternal uncle and nephews who have congenial relationship with women are up to an extent exempted from this rule.
Sight-seeing and healthy recreation are recommended in Islam but illegal pleasure seeking acts which imbalance the personality and all the indecent and immoral acts are strictly forbidden in Islam. For example the dancing of men and women and music arousing sensual instincts and based on immoral issues are forbidden in Islam.
The details of these Islamic commandments are mentioned in the religious books.
In Islam for all the social issues and family relations there are special rules and regulations and special punishments are meant for those persons violating the laws. Important parts and the basic fundamentals of these laws were explained by the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) and the Infallible Imams (A.S.). If there is a need for new law it is proposed by the distinguished jurisprudents and ratified and executed by the three powers of the Islamic government.
For example regarding marital relations between men and women there are special rules and regulations whose reading is very interesting and acting according them brings peace and great benefits to the society and family life. There are various rules and regulations for transactions which manifest the special attention of Islam in this regard which also brings about peace and order in the society. The details of these regulations have to be studied in the religious books.
Likewise, for every violation by anybody special laws and regulations are implemented as Islamic penal laws.
We believe that even if some of the intellectuals and sociologist may disagree with some of the Islamic penal codes but these are the divine laws revealed to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and implemented by the Infallible Imams (A.S.) and have reached us through them and have interests and benefits for the society and thus have to be implemented. The distinguished jurisprudents have the right to interpret these penal codes. There are many books regarding the Islamic laws and regulations and we invite all to refer to these books to ascertain the comprehensiveness of the religion of Islam.
Ethics and abiding by the ethical foundations comprise major rules and regulations of the religion. We believe that the ethical base of the people is the sign of their faith and beliefs and if the ethical foundations are based on religious and doctrinal roots they are more formidable and lasting. The people living in an Islamic society not only consider abiding by the ethical rules as their social and human duty but also consider them as divine and religious laws which have been preached by the divine prophets and the Infallible Imams (A.S.) and have to be followed and practiced.
Do's and Don'ts
Here we mention some of the ethical codes which have to be practiced and some vices which the believers should avoid it.
Manners and respect to others in different ways and styles and avoiding any type of violence which pains the heart of the people in the society are part of the commandments of religion. Smiling demeanor is considered as the best way of social contract between the believers.
Humility and meekness before the people and avoiding conceit, arrogance and self-centeredness are the part of our religious rules so that bonds of friendship are strengthened in the society.
Envy "being malevolent to others" and jealousy and miserly "being indifferent to the financial problems of others", ruse, deceit, stratagem and hypocrisy are the evil attributes severely hated and abhorred by Islam.
Lying, treachery, unlawful relations between men and women, oppression, cruelty to fellow beings, abusing and ridiculing others, lewdness, hot temper are the vices which Islam considers them as the worst attributes and the Muslims should keep themselves away from these evil traits.
Likewise power-mongering, slandering, love for wealth, quarreling and squabbling with others, being irresponsible and indifferent, being suspicious, to be in haste and racial fanaticism are considered as moral illness.
These are the condemned attributes which Islam has prevented its followers from practicing them and Islam recommends its true followers who abiding by their religious leaders like the Holy Prophets and the Infallible Imams (A.S.) should possess such noble attributes and qualities so that their character act as a best propagator and preacher in any part of the world.
Therefore a Muslim should be: truthful, benevolent, kind, generous and away from any deceit and slyness. The Muslims, in the sexual relations, act according to the Islamic rules and, are not perfidious to the rules of chastity. Muslims never injure others and behave calmly and kindly without any harshness.
These are the collection of Islamic moral basics which builds the complete personality of a Muslim. In this field there are many books on ethics and reading and acting on them is necessary.
We invite all our respected guests from any country and from any race and religion to study Islam specially the Shi'ite doctrines and thus fulfill your human responsibility which is to research and endeavor to find the best way of salvation.