The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) Calling upon Islamic Unity
Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad Reza al-Muzaffar
The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (`a) are well-known for their calling upon the observance and maintenance of Islamic aspects, to preserve its glory, sustain the unity of Muslims, keep them in a ceaseless state of fraternity, and remove all rancor(45) and malice from their hearts.
In this respect, it is unfair to ignore the unforgettable situation of Imam `Ali Amir al-Mu'minin (`a) with his predecessors to the Caliphate. Although he was furious at them because he believed that they had usurped his right, his behaviour with them was full of tolerance. Moreover, he did not challenge them with the fact that the Holy Prophet (s) had appointed him as Caliph; and he did not declare this in any public meeting until the leadership of the Muslim nation eventually returned to him. Only then did he declare that Divine commandments had nominated him as the successor of the Holy Prophet (s), calling the existing companions to testify as witnesses for him that the Holy Prophet (s) had openly declared him as his successor on that famous day at Ghadir Khumm.(46)
Imam `Ali (`a) never refrained from offering sound advice in matters that would benefit the interests of Muslims. Describing this period, he used to repeat the following statement: I then feared that if I did not protect Islam and its people and there occurred in it a breach or destruction, it would mean a greater blow to me than the loss of power over you…(47)
Besides, he did not say any word that would probably tire out their rulership, weaken their authority, or underestimate their prestige. He therefore withdrew within himself and confined himself to his house inspite of which he had to encounter problems because of them.
He had to suffer all that for the sake of protecting the general interests of Islam lest a breach or fall might occur in the religion. This situation was so well-known that `Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph, used to say the like of the following statements repeatedly: May Allah never keep me to face a problem while Abu’l-Hasan is not there to solve it.(48)
If it were not for `Ali, `Umar would have certainly perished.(49)
It is also unfair to shun reference to the situation of Imam al-Hasan (`a) when he decided to enter upon a truce with Mu`awiyah,(50) realizing that insistence on war would injure the major weighty thing (i.e. the Holy Qur'an) and bring down the state of justice and the name of Islam forever.It would, further, result in the eradication of Divine law and annihilate the remaining members of the Ahl al-Bayt (`a).So, Imam al-Hasan (`a) preferred saving the aspects and name of Islam over engagement in war even if the achievement of such would force him to make peace with Mu`awiyah, the most vehement enemy of Islam and the bitter opponent of the Imam and his Shi`ah. He knew that he and his followers would suffer oppression and humiliation at the hands of this man, but Islam’s interests were more important than all lives.
Despite the fact that members of the Holy Prophet’s (s) clan (namely, descendants of Hashim) and the Shi`ah had already sharpened their swords and were willing to fight, Imam al-Hasan (`a) believed that achieving the general interest of Islam must be above all considerations.
As for Imam al-Husayn the martyr (`a), he revolted against the Umayyad dynasty because he was forced to announce allegiance to Yazid, the immodest Ummayyad ruler.He believed that if these rulers continued in their course of transgression and tyranny without there being anyone to stop them and reveal their reality before the people, they would certainly eradicate the name of Islam and demolish its glory. He therefore aimed at showing everybody for all times to come, the oppressive and repressive policy of these rulers and unveil their vicious conspiracies against the law of Islam. What he intended took place. Had it not been for Imam al-Husayn’s uprising, the religion of Islam would have been no more than material for history, just like the other dead faiths.
The reason for the Shi`ah taking a great interest in commemorating the uprising of Imam al-Husayn (`a) in various ways is that they want to complete the mission of his uprising, that is to struggle against wrong and oppression and keep his sacrifice alive forever, as has been commissioned by the Holy Imams (`a).
Ensuring the continuity of the dignity of Islam by the Ahl al-Bayt (`a) even when power was grasped by their most vehement enemies, can be clearly seen in the conduct of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (`a) during the oppressive reign of the Umayyad rulers.
These oppressive rulers massacred the household of the Imam (`a) violated its sanctity during their reigns; nevertheless, the Imam (`a), who was so grieved for what they had done to his father and family members at Karbala', used to pray to Almighty Allah secretly to grant the Muslim armies victory over their enemies. As has been previously cited, supplication was the one and only method to which Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (`a) resorted to spread the genuine teachings and knowledge of Islam. In this respect, the Imam (`a) taught his followers how to pray for victory for Muslim armies. This supplication is famously known as “du`a’ ahl al-thughur (Supplication for the People of the Frontiers)”(51) in which the Imam (`a) says:
O Allah: (please) bless Muhammad and his Household; and increase their number, hone their weapons, guard their territory, defend their midst, unite their throng, arrange their affair, send them supplies in a steady string, undertake Yourself to suffice them with provisions, support them with victory, help them with patience, and give them subtlety in guile!
After invoking Almighty Allah against the unbelievers, Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (`a) says: O Allah, strengthen the People of Islam, fortify their cities, increase their properties, give them ease from their fighting to worship You, and from their warfare to be alone with You, so that none will be worshiped in the regions of the earth but You and no forehead of theirs may be rubbed in the dust for less than You!(52)
In this eloquent supplication, which is considered one of his longest supplications, the Imam (`a) continues in instructing the Muslim armies to abide by the required nobility of character and prepare to face the enemy.
In addition to military instructions of jihad, this supplication shows the purpose and the benefit of these instructions. It also draws attention to the scope of caution that they must take against the enemy and teaches them how to treat and fight against them. It also exhibits the moral standards that they must maintain, such as devotion to Almighty Allah, abstinence from His prohibitions, and fighting sincerely for His sake.
Similar to this situation is the situation of the other Imams (`a) with the rulers of their ages. Despite the fact that the Holy Imams (`a) had to encounter various sorts of pressure and brutal torture at the hands of these rulers, they directed all their efforts to teaching people the genuine and supreme features of the religion, realizing that the political leadership of the Muslim nation was out of question.
The Holy Imams (`a) neither advised nor desired all the revolutions that took place during their ages by the `Alawites or others; rather, all these were in evident violation of their commandments and instructions, because none, including the `Abbasid rulers themselves, was more desirous of safeguarding the entity of the Muslim state than the Holy Imams (`a). Proving this fact, let us cite the following instruction of Imam Musa al-Kazim (`a) to his followers (i.e. Shi`ah): Do not bring forth humility to yourselves by abandoning obedience to the ruler; if he is just, then pray to Almighty Allah to keep him alive; but if he is unjust, then pray to Him to guide him to righteousness. Verily, validity of all your affairs lies in the righteousness of your ruler. Indeed, a just ruler occupies the same position of a merciful father; you must therefore love for him all that which you love for yourselves and hate for him all that which you hate for yourselves.(53)
To love for the ruler whatever is desired for oneself and to hate for him whatever is avoided is definitely the most eloquent statement that expresses the duty of the subjects towards their rulers—furnishing them with security.
By taking notice of this fact, one can imagine how immense the fallacy of some contemporary writers is who falsely accuse the Shi`ah of representing a secret, destructive association or an indignant revolutionary faction!
It is undeniable that among the features a follower of the Ahl al-Bayt (`a) must possess are aversion towards wrongdoing and oppression, keeping oneself away from the unjust and the dissolute, and looking at the supporters and assistants of such wrongdoers with an eye of revulsion, denunciation, repugnance, and contempt.
These features still persist in the inner selves of Shi`ite Muslims which they inherit from their ancestors and transfer to their descendants; yet, they have never had the habit of cheating and betrayal, nor have they ever, openly or secretly, betaken themselves to revolution and uprising against the religious authorities that rule in the name of Islam. Abiding by the teachings of the Holy Imams (`a), Shi`ite Muslims have never allowed themselves to assassinate or waylay any Muslim no matter what sect he may follow or what wing he may support. The Shi`ah believe that the property, life, and honor of a Muslim who professes Islam must be protected: It is not lawful to take the property of a Muslim individual except after obtaining his consensual permission.(54)
In addition, Muslims are brothers of each other in the concept of Shi`ite Muslims; each of them enjoys rights and is bound by obligations towards the others.In addition, Muslims are brothers of each other in the concept of Shi`ite Muslims; each of them enjoys rights and is bound by obligations towards the others.
45. () Referring to factors that remove rancor, the Holy Prophet (s) is reported to have said: “Happy mien removes rancor.”
“Shake hands with each other, for it removes rancor.”
Reference: Tuhaf al-`Uqul, by Ibn Shu`bah al-Harrani (the fourth century of Hijrah), pp. 45, 55.
The Holy Prophet (s) is also reported to have said: “Presents remove rancor.”
Reference: `Awali al-La’ali by Ibn Abi-Jumhur (app. AH 880), 1:294, H.181.
46. () There is not enough space in this footnote to mention all the reference books that have mentioned the famous Hadith al-Ghadir and its ways of narration, because they are too numerous to be mentioned in such a brief thesis. However, the reader may kindly refer to the footnotes written by Shaykh Husayn al-Radhi in the margins of the book of al-Muraja`at: Reciprocal Correspondences Between Shaykh Salim al-Bishri, the Head of al-Azhar University, and Sayyid Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi al-`Amili; revised by Husayn al-Radhi, Qum: The Ahl al-Bayt ('a) World Assembly, First Edition, AH 1422. See Letter No. 53 and on, pp. 179 and footnote No. 2 of chapter 29 of this book.
For further details, refer to Mawsu`at al-Ghadir (Encyclopedia of Ghadir) by al-Amini al-Najafi (AH 1392): comprising eleven volumes along with revision.
47. () See Nahj al-Balaghah, revised by Shaykh Muhammad `Abduh, 3:119, Letter No. 62.
48. () This saying of `Umar ibn al-Khattab has been so famous because it was repeated on various occasions and in different forms such as the following: “May Allah never keep me alive to face a problem while Abu’l-Hasan is not there to solve it.”
“O Allah: please do not keep me alive to face a problem while Abu’l-Hasan is not there to solve it.”
“I seek Allah’s protection against my facing a problem while Abu’l-Hasan is not there to solve it.”
“May I never live to face a problem while Abu’l-Hasan is not there to solve it.”
“May Allah never keep me alive after you.”
“I pray to Allah to protect me against any problem while `Ali is absent.”
Besides, there are numerous similar statements of `Umar ibn al-Khattab to Imam `Ali ('a). See Dala'il al-Imamah by al-Tabari (the early fourth century of Hijrah), pp. 22; Sharh al-Akhbar by al-Qadhi al-Nu`man al-Maghribi (AH 363), 2:317, H.651, pp.565, H.651; Kitab al-Irshad by Shaykh al-Mufid (AH 413), 1:204; Manaqib Al Abi-Talib by Ibn Shahr Ashub (AH 588), 1:311, 2:182; al-`Umdah by Ibn al-Bitriq al-Asadi al-Hilli (app. AH 600), pp. 257; Wasa'il al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (AH 1104), 28:108, H.34333, Section: thubut al-zina bi’l-iqrar arba`a marrat (Provability Of Fornication By Four-Time Self-Confession), No. 7; al-Tabaqat al-Kubra by Ibn Sa`d (AH 230), 2:239; al-Manaqib by al-Khawarizmi (AH 568), pp. 96-97, H.97, 98; Tarikh Madinat Dimashq by Ibn `Asakir (AH 571), 25:369, 42:406; Usd al-Ghabah by Ibn al-Athir (AH 630), 4:23; Dhakha'ir al-`Uqba fi Manaqib Dhawi’l-Qurba by Ahmad ibn `Abdullah al-Tabari (AH 694), pp. 82; Tahdhib al-Kamal by al-Mazzi (AH 742), 20:485; Nuzum Durar al-Simtayn by al-Zarandi al-Hanafi (AH 750), pp. 131-132; al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah by Ibn Kathir al-Dimashqi (AH 774), 7:397; al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahabah by Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani (AH 852), 4:467, No. 5704: Biography of `Ali ibn Abi-Talib; Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari by Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani (AH 852), 13:286; Yanabi` al-Mawaddah li-Dhawi’l-Qurba by al-Qanaduzi al-Hanafi (AH 1294), 1:227; H.57, 58; Faydh al-Qadir Sharh al-Jami` al-Saghir by al-Mannawi (AH 1331), 4:470, H.5594.
For more information, the reader may refer to the book of al-Imam `Ali fi Ara' al-Khulafa' (Imam `Ali in the Views of the Caliphs) by Mahdi Faqih «mani (contemporary), pp. 93 and on. The author of this book has referred to tens of reference books and ways of narrations in this respect.
49. () See al-«dhah by Ibn Shadhan al-Azdi (AH 260), pp. 192; Dala'il al-Imamah by al-Tabari (the fourth century of Hijrah), pp. 22; al-Kafi by al-Kulayni (AH 329), 7:424, Section: bab al-nawadir (Exceptional Narrations), H.6; Man La Yahdhuruhu’l-Faqih by Shaykh al-Saduq (AH 381), 4:36, H.5052; Khasa'is al-A'immah by al-Sharif al-Radhi (AH 406), pp. 85; al-Ikhtisas by Shaykh al-Mufid (AH 413), pp. 111; Kashf al-Yaqin fi Fadha'il Amir al-Mu'minin by `Allamah al-Hilli (AH 726), pp. 62; Fadha'il al-Khamsah min al-Sihah al-Sittah by al-FayruzAbadi, 2:309; al-Manaqib by al-Khawarizmi (AH 568), pp. 81, H.65; Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadid al-Mu`tazili (AH 656), 1:18, 141, 12:179, 205, 206; al-Riyadh al-Nadhirah fi Fadha'il al-`Asharah by Ahmad ibn `Abdullah al-Tabari (AH 694), pp. 82; Nuzum Durar al-Simtayn by al-Zarandi al-Hanafi (AH 750), pp. 130, 133; Kanz al-`Ummal by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi (AH 975), 10:300, H.29509; Yanabi` al-Mawaddah li-Dhawi’l-Qurba by al-Qanaduzi al-Hanafi (AH 1294), 1:216, 227, 2:172, 3:147; Faydh al-Qadir by al-Mannawi (AH 1331), 4:470, H.5594. See also al-Imam `Ali fi Ara' al-Khulafa' by Mahdi Faqih «mani.
50. () For details about this issue, the gentle reader is advised to refer to Sulh al-Hasan (The Truce of al-Hasan) by Radhi Al-Yasin, Beirut: al-Nu`man Foundation, AH 1412, AD 1991.
51. () See al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah by Imam `Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-`Abidin (AH 94), Supplication No. 27.
52. () How magnificent this supplication is! More than any other age, Muslims in the present day are required to repeat and learn lessons from this supplication and to entreat Almighty Allah earnestly to unify their words, unite their lines, and illumine their intellects. [The Author]
53. () See al-Amali by Shaykh al-Saduq (AH 381), pp. 418, H.554/21; Wasa'il al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (AH 1104), 16:220, H.21406, Section: bab wujub ta`at al-sultan for taqiyyah (The Obligation of Obeying the Rulers for Taqiyyah); Bihar al-Anwar by al-Majlisi (AH 1111), 72:369, Section: bab al-rukun ila al-zalimin wa hubbuhum wa ta`atuhum (Leaning On Unjust Rulers and Loving and Obeying Them).
54. () This famous hadith has been reported in many different forms, yet similar in meaning. See Man La Yahdhuruhu’l-Faqih by Shaykh al-Saduq (AH 381), 4:93, H.5151; Tuhaf al-`Uqul by Ibn Shu`bah al-Harrani (the fourth century), pp. 34; `Awali al-La’ali by al-Ihsa'i (app. AH 880), 1:222, H.98 & 2:113, H.309 & 3:473, H.1, Section: bab al-ghasb (Usurpation); Wasa'il al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (AH 1104), 14:572; Bahjat al-Nufus by al-Azdi, 2:134, 4:111; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal (AH 241), 5:72; Ahkam al-Qur'an by al-Jassas (AH 370), 2:216, 224, 241, 3:415, 433, 434, 589, 599; I`jaz al-Qur'an by al-Baqillani (AH 403), pp. 131; al-Sunan al-Kubra by al-Bayhaqi (AH 458), 8:182.