Fraternity for Allah’s Sake
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) endeavored to develop such spiritual and intellectual relations that people would soar to their highest levels and exceed blood fraternity in human, social, and spiritual aspects. On achieving this, love and affection would be purely for Almighty Allah’s sake and the outcome would be that one would love for his brother-in-faith whatever he loves for himself (i.e. equality in desires and hopes) and even consider one’s brother-in-faith before himself.
A tradition reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) describes this perfective sphere of relations among the individuals of the virtuous community.
In his book, al-Majalis, al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Tusi has reported that, on the authority of his fathers, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: On the Day of Resurrection, a spokesangel will cry out with a call heard by the last of the crowds in the same volume heard by the first. He will call out, “Where are the neighbors of Allah, the Majestic, in His abode?” Then, a group of people will stand up and will be received by a group of angels. “What were your deeds in the worldly abode due to which you are now the neighbors of Allah, the Exalted, in His abode?” The angels will ask. “We used to love each other for Allah’s sake and help one another for His sake, too,” they will answer. An angel will say on behalf of Allah, “True are the words of My servants. Clear the way for them.” Then they will walk into the neighborhood of Allah in Paradise without (their deeds) being accounted.
Commenting on this, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: These are verily the neighbors of Allah in His abode. When people will fear, these will not fear, and when people are stopped for settling their accounts, these will not be faced with it.35
In his book of al-Kafi, Shaykh al-Kulayni, reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever has six features in his personality shall be in the presence of Almighty Allah and to His right…A Muslim, who loves for his brother-in-faith whatever he loves for the dearest of his family members, dislikes for him whatever he dislikes for the dearest of his family members, acts honestly with him in terms of friendship… If he attains this rank with his brother-in-faith, when he passes his grievances on to him, his brother-in-faith will then certainly rejoice at his delight and feel sad on his grief. If he can do anything to relieve his brother-in-faith, he will certainly do so or, at least, pray for him…The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Almighty Allah has some creatures who will be positioned to the right of the Divine Throne in the presence of Almighty Allah. Their faces will be as white as snow and as brilliant as sunlight at forenoon. When it is asked about them, the answer will be that these are those who loved each other for the sake of Almighty Allah’s majesty.”36
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) took into consideration the different levels of this private relationship. It is therefore possible to classify such private relations into general and special friendships. This classification is based on the degree of commitment to the doctrines and principles of Islam, and the profundity and firmness of religious values and ideals in behavior and practice. On the strength of this classification, faith and loyalty to the (divinely commissioned) leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) plays an important role in firming up such relations from which result the kind of rights and duties demonstrated by the previously cited traditions.
False Friends and True Friends
Referring to another aspect in the variety of the levels of social relations, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) differentiated between two categories of people: false friends and true friends. In one’s association with the earlier category, it may suffice to say one has to meet people in society and associate with them because one’s existence is dependent on their existence. Such a relationship is based on kind association, mutual feelings, and sympathetic treatment, named by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) as ‘courtesy’ with the meaning good behavior with people.
The second category, true friends, represents individuals who must be chosen carefully as friends after observing their honesty, faithfulness, and good manners. Only then is it correct to lean on such friends, put one’s trust in them, and depend on them in one’s private affairs because they are known to stand by their friends in good and bad times and to be holders of their secrets and trusts.
Yunus ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman has reported the following on the authority of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (‘a): In al-Basrah, a man stood up and asked Imam ‘Ali, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) to define friends.
The Imam (‘a) said: There are two kinds of friends—friends of confidence and friends of grimace. The friends of confidence are the refuge, the wings, the family and the wealth (of their friends). If you confide in a friend, you should give your wealth and help to him. You should also befriend his friend and antagonize his enemy. You should keep his secrets and defects (in confidence) and proclaim his good conduct. You should know, O asker, that the friends of confidence are as scanty as red sulfur. Regarding the friends of grimace, you gain from them only your pleasure; therefore, you should not deprive them of your pleasure. Do not ask them for any further thing. Give them a happy mien and pleasant conversation as long as they give you their happy mien and pleasant conversation.37
Faith—in the sense of believing in the divinely commissioned leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and loyalty to them—is one of the basic conditions in the process of choosing friends of confidence. The duties of people towards their friends, confirmed by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), are exclusively for this category of friends.
Referring to this classification and variety in the level of social relations as well as the general and special conditions of these relations, there is a set of traditions reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) displaying other conditions and qualifications to be observed in identifying the level of one’s social relations with others. Some traditions have mentioned the positive characteristics that encourage such relations, such as piety, devoutness, rationality, prudence, nobility, and excellent morals, while other traditions have listed negative traits that discourage building relations, such as idiocy, corruption, fabrication, and stinginess.38
More details will be cited in the second part of this book.
The fifth aspect of social relations is that there are certain categories of people who must be treated in a special manner.
Although Islam, in its social concept, believes that all human beings are equal and brothers of one another, we notice that the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) dedicated special treatment in the field of social relations to certain groups of people because of various tangible reasons endorsed by human nature or factual reason-based criteria founded on public interest.
These reasons are humane, religious, and political, depending on the various aspects of the Islamic concept of social relations in general or social relations in particular, placing all affairs in their natural position in the general structure of society and the categories of social relations.
On many occasions, the Holy Qur'an has referred to such special treatment, including the following: Serve Allah and do not associate anything with Him and be good to parents and to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the neighbor from among (your) kin and the neighbor who is a stranger and the companion on a journey and the wayfarer and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah does not love him who is proud, boastful. (4:36)
Relatives, especially next of kin and, more especially, parents, enjoy special privileges as regards social treatment. It is thus obligatory to sustain the root of social relations with relatives and it is impermissible to cut off family ties. It is also obligatory to honor and act piously towards one’s parents by means of acting obediently towards them and complying with their orders, yet within the limits of the religious laws.
Abu-Hamzah al-Thumali has reported that Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) delivered a speech in which he said: I seek Allah’s protection against the sins that hasten death.
‘Abdullah ibn al-Kawwa' interrupted him, saying, “O Commander of the Faithful! Are there sins that hasten one’s death?” The Imam (‘a) answered: Yes, there are! Woe unto you! They are breach of family ties with one’s relatives. Even if faithless, family members who gather and help each other are provided sustenance by Almighty Allah. Some family members, who are pious, separate from one another and cut off their ties; as a result, Almighty Allah deprives them (of His sustenance despite their piety).39
‘Anbasah al-’Abid (the worshipper) has reported that a man came to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) and complained about his relatives. The Imam (‘a) advised him saying: Suppress your rage and treat them nicely.
The man said, “They do such-and-such to me!”
The Imam (‘a) said: Do you want to be like them? Then, Almighty Allah shall never look at you.40
In his famous Epistle on Rights, Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) says: The right of your mother is that you know that she carried you where no one carries anyone, she gave to you the fruit of her heart which no one gives to anyone, and she protected you with her hearing, sight, hands, legs, hair, and skin as well as all her organs. She was highly delighted, happy, eager, and enduring the harm, pain, heaviness, and grief until the hand of power saved her from you and brought you out to this earth.
She did not care if she went hungry as long as you ate, was naked as long as you were clothed, was thirsty as long as you drank, was in the sun as long as you were in the shade, was miserable as long as you were happy, and was deprived of sleeping as long as you were resting. Her abdomen was your container, her lap your seat, her breast your drink, and her soul was your fort. She protected you from heat and cold. You should thank her for all that. You will not be able to show her gratitude except through Allah’s help and grace of thanksgiving.
The right of your father is that you know that he is your root and you are his branch. Without him, you would not be. Whenever you see anything in yourself that pleases you, know that your father is the origin of its blessing upon you. Therefore, praise Allah and thank Him in that measure. All power belongs to Allah.1
The right of your child is that you should know that he is from you and will be ascribed to you, through both his good and his evil, in the immediate affairs of this world. You are responsible for what has been entrusted to you, such as educating him in good conduct, pointing him in the direction of his Lord, and helping him to obey Him. So, act toward him with the behavior of one who knows that he will be rewarded for doing good and punished for doing evil. In his affairs, behave with the actions of those who adorn their children with their good deeds and those who are justified before their Lord because they did well in the discipline and the custody of their sons. All power belongs to Allah.
The right of your brother is that you know that he is your hand that you extend, your back from whom you seek refuge, your power upon which you rely, and your might with which you move. Take him not as a weapon with which to disobey Allah, nor as equipment with which to wrong Allah’s creatures. Do not neglect to help him against his own ill intentions and against his enemy, prevent him from joining villains, give him good counsel, and associate with him for Allah’s sake. If he obeys Allah and responds to Him properly, well and good, but if not, you should prefer and honor Allah more than him.41
This special treatment with relatives involves the lineal tie, which designates the extension of man’s existence and progress. It is experienced as a natural feeling, and has an ethical aspect, especially with reference to taking care of and acting piously towards parents, which is a sort of gratitude, good turn, lenience, and mercy to the old and the weak. Hence, the Holy Qur'an says: Your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve any but Him, and be good to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them so much as “Ugh” nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! Have compassion on them, as they brought me up when I was little. (17:23-24)
Furthermore, special treatment with relatives has a significant social and organizational aspect related to Islam’s attitude towards the general structure of society, on the supposition that family is the primary and paramount brick on which the social structure stands.
Status of Knowledge and Scholars in Islam
Islam has imparted special social behavior towards scholars and people of virtue and knowledge due to certain ethical, tangible, and social considerations.
As for the ethical, tangible consideration, Islam looks upon knowledge as having realistic worth that grants man a rank of perfection and elevation. The Holy Qur'an thus says: Allah will exalt those of you who believe and those who are given knowledge in high degrees. Allah is Aware of what you do. (58:11)
Say: Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful. (39:9)
As for the social consideration practically adopted by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), scholars occupy a distinguished social position represented in the leadership of the Islamic revolution in Iran and its authority over the Muslim nation.
As confirmed in their traditions, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have been the worthiest to occupy this position and the only ones granted this authority by Almighty Allah because they possessed knowledge of an unmatched, unattainable degree.
Consequently, the leaders of Muslims must have full knowledge of Islam and be proficient enough to deduce religious laws from their sources.
Treating scholars in special ways has been advised in authentic traditions. Shaykh al-Saduq, in his book of al-Khisal, has reported Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) as saying: Among your duties towards scholars are that you must not load them with too many questions. You must not precede them in answering. You must not insist when they avoid (answering a question). You must not impose upon them when they are tired. You must not point at them by extending a finger. You must not wink at them. You must not talk confidentially to them during their sessions. You must not inspect their flaws. You must not address them by stating opinions contradictory to theirs. You must not reveal their secrets. You must not backbite in their presence. You must support them in their presence and defend them when they are absent.
You must salute a group of people generally but greet them singly, sit in their presence, precede all others to meet their needs, and you must not become weary of long companionship with them. Verily, scholars are just like date-palm trees; therefore, you must be patient while waiting for their benefit to descend upon you. A scholar occupies the same standing of one who permanently fasts, performs acts of worship, and strives for the sake of Almighty Allah. When a scholar passes away, an irreparable crack occurs in Islam that continues up to the Day of Resurrection. Verily, when a seeker of knowledge passes away seventy thousand angels escort him and place him among the most favored inhabitants of heaven.42
In the famous Treatise on Rights, Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) says: The rights of your leaders are three: the most incumbent upon you is the right of a person who trains you through authority, then of him who trains you through knowledge, and then of him who trains you through property. Each trainer is a leader… You must honor the right of the one who trains you through knowledge, by magnifying him, respecting his sessions,1 listening to him, and attending to him with devotion. You must avoid raising your voice in his presence, avoid answering others by letting him answer, and avoid talking to anybody during his sessions. You must avoid backbiting in his presence, defend him when something bad is attributed to him, cover up his defects, demonstrate his good points, avoid sitting with his enemies, and avoid incurring the hostility of one who is loyal to him. If you do these, then the angels of Almighty Allah will bear witness that you have tended to him adequately and have learnt his knowledge for the sake of Almighty Allah, and not for the sake of people.43
Neighbors are also worthy of exceptional treatment to bolster social relations with others throughout the geographical area and establish a sound and powerful local social structure. Emphasizing the significance of this special treatment towards neighbors in his last will to his sons, Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), referred to the Holy Prophet’s instructions about neighbors.44
Shaykh al-Saduq has reported another tradition carrying the same import in his books Man-la-Yahdhuruhul-Faqih and ‘Iqab al-A’mal on the authority of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) on the authority of his fathers (‘a) on the authority of the Holy Prophet (S) who said: Whoever, harms his neighbor shall be deprived of the scent of Paradise by Almighty Allah and Hell shall be his final abode. What an evil destiny Hell is. (Archangel) Gabriel advised me in favor of neighbors so insistently that I believed that a share of inheritance would be decided for neighbors.45
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have quoted his father (‘a) saying: In the Book of (Imam)’Ali (‘a), I read that the Messenger of Allah (S) wrote a paragraph in the covenant that he wrote between the Muhajirun (Muslim emigrants of Makkah), the Ansar (Muslims of Yathrib), and the inhabitants of Yathrib, who joined them. It ran thus: Treat your neighbor as yourself; neither harm him nor attribute any sin to him. The sanctity of one’s neighbor is the same as the sanctity of one’s mother.46
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported as saying: Know that whoever does not act nobly concerning the rights of his neighbor does not belong to our group.47
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) reported the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever spends his night satiated while his neighbor is hungry has never believed in me.48
Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Ammar has reported that he asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) about the area of one’s neighborhood.
The Imam (‘a) answered: Forty houses on each side are included in neighbors.49
According to Islam, weak people must also be treated in special ways, including those whose weakness is due to the nature of their physical structure—such as children, women, old people, handicapped and retarded people. The human aspect in this special treatment is too clear to require confirmation.
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: Have mercy on the weak amongst you and pray that Almighty Allah has mercy on you because of your showing mercy towards them.50
This distinctive treatment also includes the financially weak, such as the poor, the destitute, the wayfarers, and other categories of needy people.
Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) has quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying in one of his sermons: Give alms to the poor and the needy amongst you. Have a high regard for the old amongst you. Have mercy on the young amongst you. Build good relationships with your relatives.51
This special treatment also includes those deemed weak because of their social conditions, such as orphans, slaves, and low-wage employees whose social circumstances force them to be under the supervision and custody of others.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has reported on the authority of his fathers (‘a) that the Holy Prophet (S), in his instructions to Imam ‘Ali (‘a) said: O ‘Ali, whoever carries out the following four acts, Almighty Allah shall build for him a house in Paradise: (1) providing a shelter for an orphan, (2) having mercy on the weak, (3) having compassion for parents, and (4) treating servants leniently. O ‘Ali, Paradise shall be unquestionably decided for the person who meets all the expenses of an orphan from his own wealth such that he makes him financially independent. O ‘Ali, whoever strokes the head of an orphan out of sympathy for him, on the Day of Resurrection, Almighty Allah shall grant him (a piece of) light for each single hair.52
The Holy Prophet’s Progeny
Exceptional treatment has been confirmed for the Holy Prophet’s progeny from the descendants of Imam ‘Ali and Lady Fatimah—peace be upon them—due to their relationship to the Holy Prophet (S) in order to honor him, acknowledge his right, and sanctify his standing.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: No one’s head or hand must be kissed except the Messenger of Allah’s or one who is considered to represent him.53
Al-Husayn ibn Khalid reported Imam al-Ridha (‘a) as saying: Looking at our progeny is (a kind of) worship.
The reporter asked, “Does this mean the Imams from your progeny or all of the Holy Prophet’s descendants?”
The Imam (‘a) answered: It includes all the descendants of the Prophet (S) who neither violated his course nor are polluted by acts of disobedience to Allah.54
35. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:434, S. 15, H. 15.
36. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:542, S. 122, H. 3.
37. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:404, S. 3, H. 1.
38. - Refer to al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:409-432, S. 8-9,11,15-18 and ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 74:173-220 where you can find many traditions confirming that the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) specified certain points as conditions of choosing friends of confidence and identifying friends of grimace. All are originally connected to the principles to which we have previously referred.
39. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:347-348, H. 7.
40. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:593, S. 149, H. 3.
41. - Ibn Shu’bah al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-’Uqul, pp. 363.
42. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:551, S. 123, H. 2.
43. Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:134, S. 3, H. 1.
Translator’s Note: According to Tuhaf al-’Uqul, this paragraph has been mentioned in the following form: úö.The right of the one who trains you through knowledge is to magnify him, respect his sessions, listen well to him, attend to him with devotion, and help him convey to you the knowledge that you indispensably need. You can do so by emptying your mind to (receive) his information, pay attention to him, purify your heart for him, open your eyes wide before him by means of abandoning the appetites and the passions. You should also know that you are considered to be his messenger when you convey the information that he provides you to the ignorant ones that you meet. Therefore, it is binding upon you to convey it on his behalf properly, and avoid betraying him when you are conveying his message and representing him. All power belongs to Allah.
44. - Translator’s Note: In his will for Imam Hasan (‘a) and Imam Husayn (‘a), Imam ‘Ali the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of neighbors, because they were the subject of the Prophet’s advice when he went on advising in their favor until we thought he would allow them a share in inheritance.(Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon No. 64)
45. ť- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:488, S. 86, H. 5.
46. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:487, S. 86, H. 2.
47. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:489, S. 87, H. 5.
48. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:490, S. 88, H. 1.
49. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:492, S. 90, H. 3.
50. - Abu’l-Fath al-Irbali, Kashf al-Ghummah 3: 142; ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 78:83, H. 85 as quoted from the previous reference book.
51. - Shaykh al-Saduq, ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha 2:265, H. 53; ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 96:356, H. 25 as quoted from the previous reference book.
52. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:560, S. 19, H. 1.
53. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:565, S. 133, H. 3.
54. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:620, S. 165, H. 1.