Ahl al-Bayt(A.S.), Pillars of the Heavens and the Earth
Allama Husayn Ansariyan
If heavens are firm in their positions and the earth is stable with its movement; if the world beings and those living on the earth are safe, it is all thanks to Ahl al-Bayt, their spiritual light and their favor as they themselves have referred to it. Obviously, only those having a pure heart and righteous deeds believe it. In this relation, Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) says: Surely, Allah’s Messenger is Allah’s gate through which only one can enter and the path of Allah through which only one can reach Allah. Amir al-Muminin too is as such the same after him. The same is true for the Imams, one after the other. Allah has made them pillars for the earth so that it will not shake its habitants.150
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a.s.) says: We are the ones for whose sake Allah holds the earth firm so that it will not fall down except by His permission and preserves the earth for our sake so that its inhabitants will not be shaken up. He sends rain for our sake, spreads mercy for our sake and brings out the blessings of the earth. The earth would swallow its inhabitants if we were not on the earth.151
The Holy Prophet (S) said: The heavenly beings feel safe and secure with stars. Whenever the stars disappear, the heavenly beings leave, too. My Ahl al-Bayt too make the earthly beings feel safe; whenever my Ahl al-Bayt leave, the earthly beings will leave too.152
Amir al-Muminin (a.s.) has said: We, Ahl al-Bayt, are the household of Prophethood, the source of wisdom, the safety for the earthly beings and salvation for those seeking salvation.153
Firmness of heavens and stability of the earth are due to the spirituality and favor of Ahl al-Bayt. Their heavenly assets and spiritual power belong solely to them. No one in heaven or on earth is equal to them in rank, yet with this entire asset to their credit, they are humble.
Ahl Al-Bayt(A.S.), Character Builders
One of the features of the earth and perhaps other planets is that they have mines such as of gold, silver, agate, turquoise, diamond, copper and iron. Everyone in the world considers mine as a valuable and a useful asset for human life. Exploring mines, exploiting them, transferring minerals to technical workshops and transforming those minerals to instruments are occupations existing from very old times. Gold is one of the mines, which has been extremely valuable for human beings. Throughout history, man has been trying to explore gold, separate it from ores take it to factories, and turn it into bullion. Then, gold is given to either artisan to change it into currencies, bank reserves to activate the economy of a country, or turn it into necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings to satisfy the instincts of those tracking beauty.
What is noteworthy is that all heavens and the earth are like a mine and the omniscient (All-Knowing) of this mine is Allah. The All-knowing God has also created a gold-like being out of this mine placing him on this planet so that his instinctive talents, vicegerency, and intellectual capabilities will emerge and he will be able to materialize his prosperity and happiness in this world and the Hereafter. This will be materialized only if man follows the heavenly teachers who are chosen by Allah so that they will turn him into a Divine being. Allah has directed man to heavenly architects who are unique in building human characters.
Ahl Al-Bayt(A.S.), Model For Wayfarers
So far, we have said that a follower of truth must set Ahl al-Bayt as his model in all aspects of his life. Allah has shown the ways leading to attaining virtues and perfection by following the path of the infallible Imams. Evidently we cannot reach their rank, for they have achieved such a position that even Archangel Gabriel could not reach: If I go foreword by an inch, I will burn myself.154
Models for Human Beings
Allah has made Ahl al-Bayt models for human beings to follow so that everyone, according to his capacity, will benefit from their knowledge: He sends down water from the cloud and then watercourses flow with water according to their measure. (13:17)
In the interpretation of the verse, we read that Allah sends water and knowledge from heaven so every riverbed benefits from it according to its capacity. The riverbed, which is deeper and wider can benefit more from the water of life and be promoted to an excellent position. In this relation, the Holy Quran says: Certainly, you have in the Apostle of Allah an excellent exemplar. (33:21)
Being an excellent exemplar is not something particular to Allah’s Messenger, for Allah and the Holy Prophet (S) have said that this position is transferred to Ahl al-Bayt after Allah’s Messenger, since they are his true successors. Being an excellent exemplar is a legal position, which the Ahl al-Bayt have inherited from the Holy Prophet.
The wayfarers of the path of Imamate and those wishing to associate with angels and hearing their glorification as well as the devotees better know that they cannot possibly reach sublime positions without adhering to Ahl al-Bayt. In this relation, the Holy Prophet (S) says: Happiness, convenience, mercy, tiumph, wealtj, improvement, pleasure, contentment, solution of problems, amd love for Allah and His Messenge are all for the one who loves Ali and follows the Imams after him.155
Imam al-Rida (a.s.) says too: Whoever is glad to see (the Mercy of Allah) without any veil and Allah sees him (i.e. spreads mercy on him) without veil must accept the Imamate of Holy Prophet's Family, hate their enemies and follow the Imam of the believers from among them. In this case, when the Judgment Day comes, Allah will look at him without veil and he will look at Allah without veil.156
Since the Ahl al-Bayt have gone through all stages of devotion and submission to Allah and have been endowed with all virtues, they have become the excellent exemplars for all.
Worldly People Fail To Understand Ahl al-Bayt(A.S.)
Whoever resorts to Ahl al-Bayt in every aspect of life will benefit from their truth to the extent of their capacity and understanding. Those with a small or medium capacity, by adhering to Ahl al-Bayt, can somehow comprehend their truth. However, those who are submerged in worldly affairs and do not wish to get out of this state are like – … him whose likeness is that of one in the other darkness whence he cannot come forth (6:122).
These people do not wish to comprehend the inner part of the Holy Quran and Ahl al-Bayt, for their hearts are so dark that there is a veil between them and Allah. This veil is the result of sins, corruption, bias and rancor: And you will see them looking towards you, yet they do not see. (7:198)
They can see, but they have no insight. Prejudice has covered their inner sight: Their eyes were under a cover from My Reminder. (18:101)
Truth is Not Hidden
Ahl al-Bayt are not hidden in the same way that Allah is not hidden. If a group of people cannot see Allah with their insight, it is because they are under a cover of ignorance whereas Allah is Manifest and pure Light: Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. (24:35)
None of the visible and invisible truths, i.e. Divine signs, is under a cover. It is man who is under the cover of sins and is deprived of seeing Allah. In this relation, Amir al-Muminin (a.s.) says: Praise be to Allah who is Manifest before His creation because of themselves.157
Abu-Basir reports: One day, Imam al-Baqir (a.s) and I entered the mosque. He said to me, “Ask people if they can see me.” So, I asked everyone whom I met whether he saw the Imam. Surprisingly, the answer was (no) whereas the Imam was standing right in front of them. At this time, Abu-Harun, a blind man, entered the mosque. The Imam said, “Now, ask Abu-Harun if he can see me.” So I asked him whether he could see Imam al-Baqir. He answered, “Yes, I can. Don't you see him standing here?” I asked, “How could you understand? Are you not blind?” He answered, “How can I not see while the Imam is a shining light?”
Ahl Al-Bayt(A.S.), Means Of Perfection
Plant seeds do not grow or bear fruit without being directly in contact with the soil. Evidently, the soil must be good, for if the soil is contaminated, seeds will not grow and will perish. Therefore, seeds will not grow or bear fruit unless there is the means of a good soil: And as for the good land, its vegetation springs for the (abundantly) by the permission of its Lord, and (as for) that which is inferior (its herbage) comes forth but scantily (7:58)
Mediation or means is necessary not only in relation to seeds but also for the realization of every truth so much so that nothing can be realized and nothing reaches perfection without a mediation or means. Houses cannot be built without architects and bodies cannot grow without food. Eyes cannot see without light and ears cannot hear without waves nor can a man attain worthy position without any mediation.
Man’s dignity is to become Allah’s vicegerent but can he attain such sublime spiritual position without any mediation? Never!
However, mediation with which man can find his way to the realm of faith, morality, good deeds, and finally piety is a truth that has been expressed by the Holy Quran.
Ahl al-Bayt’s Mediation
The Holy Quran considers only the Infallible Persons as having the position of mediation between Allah and man for leading to faith, good deeds, morality and their meeting with Allah. These infallible persons are none but the Holy Prophet (S) and Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) who can familiarize man with the past and future as well as the teachings and wisdom of the Holy Quran. There is not a bit of corruption, defect or fault, whether overt or covert, in Ahl al-Bayt. In this connection, the Holy Prophet (S) says: We, Ahl al-Bayt, are those from whom Allah has removed any hidden or manifest uncleanness.158
Allah’s Messenger has said the following regarding the revelation of the Verse of Purification: We, Ahl al-Bayt, are purified by Allah.159
In an important fragment, Imam Ali (a.s) says: Allah has decreed (His creatures) to obey the Messenger, for he is infallible and purified and he does not order to sin. He has decreed to obey those in authority, for they are infallible and purified and they do not order to sin.160
Imam Hasan (a.s.) has said: We, Ahl al-Bayt, are those whom Allah has honored by Islam, chosen from among all creatures, removed any uncleanness, and purified a thorough purification. Uncleanness is the same as doubt. We never have any doubt about Allah and His religion. He has also purified us from infirmity or error.161
Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) too has said: We cannot be described. How can a group from whom Allah has removed uncleanness be described?162
Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) has said: Doubt and sin are in Fire. They are neither from us no do they come to us.163
In al-Ziyarah al-Jamiah al-Kabirah, Imam al-Hadi (a.s) says: I bear witness that all of you are guide leaders, rightly guided, infallible, highly reveredÖ Allah preserved you guiltless and free from error, kept you safe from unruly disorderliness, freed you from dirt, removed uncleanness from you and cleansed you with a thorough cleansing.164
Verily, Allah Who is free from any defect has placed Prophethood and Imamate in an ‘household’ free from any uncleanness so that men can realize the dignity that they deserve through their mediation, be immune from infidelity, carnal desires and sins, have a happy life in this world and finally meet Allah and abide in Paradise forever: This is a Book which We have revealed to you that you may bring forth men from utter darkness into light. (14:1)
O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you. (4:59)
So far, we have reported important narrations from the books of Shiite and Sunni scholars.
Based on the Holy Prophet's saying, ‘those in authority’ the obedience to whom is like obedience to Allah and to His Messenger stands for the Twelve Infallible Imams from the Holy Prophet’s Household. In that saying, the names of the twelve Imams have been mentioned.
Ahl Al-Bayt(A.S.), A Link To Allah
Man is instinctively inclined towards perfection and Allah is the peak of perfection. Therefore, man has a natural inclination towards Allah and in this relation he is trying hard to reach the peak of perfection. If man is truly devoted to Allah, this inclination motivates him to walk on the path of Him: O man! Surely you must strive (to attain) to your Lord, a hard striving until you meet Him. (84:6)
Since reaching the peak of perfection requires going through certain stages, higher stages cannot be reached without going through lower stages. This is because in the system of universe one cannot possibly skip a stage from among other stages. Therefore, one who wishes to reach the peak of perfection must go through the stage of professing the prophethood of Muhammad who was the first manifestation of Allah and he must profess the Imamate of Ali, for he is the gate to the Holy Prophet’s knowledge: I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.165
Hence, it is impossible to reach the peak of perfection without resorting to Imam Ali’s Imamate and benefiting from his abundant knowledge. One who is inclined towards the peak of perfection must remove all doubts by following Ahl al-Bayt before beginning his spiritual journey, engage in worship and good deeds, assist his fellow human beings, because without adhering to Ahl al-Bayt, one cannot follow Allah's Messenger nor can one meet Allah.
Addressing Imam Ali (a.s.), Allah’s Messenger says: Whoever is pleased to meet Allah safe, purified and not sad about the horror of the Judgment Day must wholeheartedly accept the leadership of you, your two sons - Hasan and Husayn, Ali ibn Husayn, Muhammad ibn Ali, Jafar ibn Muhammad, Musa ibn Jafar, Ali ibn Musa, Muhammad, Ali, Hasan and then al-Mahdi - their seal.166
In an important narration, Allah’s Messenger is reported as saying: What is the matter with the people who get happy whenever they are reminded of the family of Ibrahim but they are disturbed whenever they are reminded of the Family of Muhammad? By Allah in whose Hand is Muhammad's life (I swear), if on the Judgment Day a servant comes with the deeds of seventy prophets, Allah will not accept those deeds unless he meets Him bearing love for me and my Ahl al- Bayt. 167
In al-Ziyarah al-Jamiah al-Kabirah, Imam al-Hadi (a.s) says: Your light lights up the earth; those who love and cherish you attain their end and conduct themselves to Paradise; and those who forsake your friendship earn displeasure of the Most Compassionate Lord.
One who is inclined towards the peak of Perfection must first get to know Ahl al-Bayt and then adhere to them. In this connection, the Holy Quran says: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you. (3:31)
If you love the peak of perfection, follow the light of the heavens and the earth and the manifestation of the chief Name so that you will become one of Allah's favorite servants. Love for Ahl al-Bayt has its roots in the love for the peak of perfection that is sought by everyone instinctively. If the Ahl al-Bayt are His favorites, it is because they are the best path for meeting Allah. In al-Ziyarah al-Jamiah al-Kabirah, Imam al-Hadi (a.s) says: We are the straight path.
Ahl al-Bayt are not only the path but they are Allah's rope extended from the heavens to the earth. Holding fast by the covenant of Allah can lead us to the peak of perfection.
Furthermore, Ahl al-Bayt are extended from Allah's grace which is the truth of Muhammad extended to all borders of the earth: Have you not considered the work of your Lord, how he extends the shade? (25:45)
Whoever is inclined towards the peak of perfection will grasp it in order to reach Allah: And seek means of nearness to Him. (5:35)
150. Al-Kafi: 197/1, H. 3
151. Al-Amali by Shaykh al-Saduq: 186, H. 15
152. Al-Amali by Shaykh al-Tusi: 379
153. Nathr al-Durar: 310/1
154. al-Manaqib: 178/1
155. Tafsir al-Ayyashi: 169/1
156. Al-Mahasin: 60/1, H. 101
157. Nahj al-Balaghah: 157, sermon 108
158. Al-Firdaws: 54/1
159. Al-Durr al-Manthur: 606/6
160. Ilal al-Shara’i: 1231/1, H. 1
161. Al-Amali by Shaykh al-Tusi, 561
162. Al-Kafi: 182/2, H. 16
163. Al-Kafi: 400/2
164. Tahdhib al-Ahkam: 97/6, H. 1
165. Al-Amali by Shaykh al-Saduq: 343, H. 1
166. Kitab al-Ghaybay by al-Tusi: 136
167. Al-Amali; 140