Religious and Traditional Laws
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Both religion and tradition have decided a number of rights and duties, some of which are as follows:
1. It is obligatory upon Muslims to keep the secrets of their brethren-in-faith unrevealed, especially when they hear them saying something in a gathering or when they are asked to keep certain matters secret. A tradition holds that meetings be based on confidentiality.¯1¯ However, there are certain exceptions in this connection.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Meetings must be confidential.¯2¯
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Meetings must be confidential. It is therefore not allowed that anybody speak of an issue concealed by the person involved without obtaining his permission, unless the addressee is trustworthy or the issue entails good reputation of the person which it is about.¯3¯
The Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: All meetings must be held in confidence except three: an assembly in which honorable blood is shed, a gathering in which chastity of an honorable individual is violated, or an assembly in which one’s property is wrongfully violated.¯4¯
2. The Holy Legislator has urged that promises, pledges, and covenants must be fulfilled. Accordingly, promises have been raised to the level of covenants with regard to the obligation of fulfilling them.
In this respect, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever truly believes in Allah and the Last Day must keep faith with his promise.¯5¯
Hisham ibn Salim has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: A faithful believer’s promise to his brother-in-faith is a non-expiable vow. Hence, whoever breaks his promise has in fact broken his promise with Almighty Allah, exposing himself to His wrath. This is the meaning of Almighty Allah’s saying,
“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do. (61:2-3)”¯6¯
3. Islam has deemed it obligatory to be honest in speech and in one’s dealings with others. In this regard, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Act as heralds to goodness in the milieus of people by other means besides your tongues (i.e. speech) so that they can become aware of your diligence, honesty, and piety.¯7¯
Zayd ibn ‘Ali has reported on the authority of his fathers that the Holy Prophet (S) said: Verily, the closest of you all to me and the worthiest of winning my intercession tomorrow is the most honest in speech, the most observant of trusts, the most well-mannered, and the closest to people.¯8¯
4. Islam has determined a number of reciprocal duties of faithful believers towards each other. Let us now refer to some more traditions dealing with this topic.
Mu’alla ibn Khunays has reported that he once asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) about the duties of Muslims toward one another.
The Imam (‘a) explained: Muslims enjoy seven rights over one another. Each right is so obligatory that if one violates any of them, he will be cast out from loyalty and obedience to Almighty Allah, losing any share of his relation to Almighty Allah.
“May Allah accept me as ransom for you,” Mu’alla asked, “What are these rights?”
The Imam (‘a) replied: O Mu’alla, I fear lest you violate and defy these rights or that you learn them but fail to act upon them.
“There is no power except with Allah,” answered Mu’alla.
The Imam (‘a) then began to reckon these rights saying: The easiest of these rights is that you must like for your brother-in-faith whatever you like for yourself and dislike for him whatever you dislike for yourself. The second right is that you keep yourself away from whatever enrages him, follow whatever pleases him, and obey his instructions. The third right is that you help him with your self, your finances, your tongue, your hand, and your foot. The fourth right is that you act as his eye, guide, and mirror. The fifth right is that you must not eat your fill while he is hungry, quench your thirst while he is thirsty, and dress yourself while he is unclothed. The sixth right is that you must not have a servant while he does not have one—it is therefore obligatory upon you to send your servant to wash his clothes, cook food for him, and prepare his bed. The seventh right is that you must help him fulfill his oaths, accept when he invites you, visit his sick, present yourself in funeral ceremonies that relate to him, and take the initiative to resolve his needs. In this regard, you must not wait until he asks you to help him resolve his need; rather, you must be the first to take action. If you do all these things, then you will have bonded your friendship to his and his friendship to yours.¯9¯
Abstaining from Forbidden Acts
Many laws have been enacted by the Holy Legislator to command abstention from prohibited acts, such as:
1. It is impermissible to enter the houses of others before obtaining their permission. Furthermore, it is obligatory to inform the occupants of a house before entering it because the souls of Muslims, and their properties, chastity, and private affairs are inviolable.
‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi-’Abdullah has reported that he asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) for an explanation of Almighty Allah’s saying in the Holy Qur'an: O you who believe! Do not enter houses other than your own houses until you have asked permission and saluted their inmates. (24:27)
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) answered: Asking permission (in this verse) signifies making a sound with one’s shoes and giving the greeting.¯10¯
When entering a house, it is required to sit where the owner of the house instructs the guest to sit.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted his father as saying: When you enter the house of one of your brethren-in-faith, you should sit where the owner of the house tells you to sit because he knows the private places in his house more than a guest does.¯11¯
2. Islam has forbidden cunning, envy, cheating, and betrayal. In this connection, Imam al-Ridha (‘a) has reported on the authority of his fathers that the Holy Prophet (S) said: Whoever is a true Muslim, must not deceive or cheat others, for I have heard Archangel Gabriel say, “Deception and cheating lead to the Fire.”
He does not belong to us who cheats a Muslim, and he does not belong to us who betrays a Muslim.
The Trustworthy Spirit, Gabriel, descended to me from the Lord of the Worlds and said to me, “O Muhammad, adhere to good manners because bad manners take away the wealth of this world and the next.” Verily, the most similar of you to me is the most mannerly.¯12¯
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: Were it not for the fact that cunning and deception lead to Hellfire, I would have been the most cunning of all people.¯13¯
3. Islam has forbidden telling lies in all of its forms and degrees and in all fields, especially in relations with others (except in a few situations, like peacemaking).
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: Verily, Almighty Allah has made locks for evils and made drinking intoxicants the master key of all evils. Nonetheless, telling lies is more horrible than drinking intoxicants.¯14¯
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: A Muslim individual is required to avoid association with liars, because liars are not believed even if they tell the truth.¯15¯
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) used to say to his sons, “Guard yourselves against telling lies, be they trivial or significant, serious or playful. If one lies about an insignificant matter, he will have the courage to lie in great things. Know that the Messenger of Allah (S) has said: ‘Some servants (of Allah) keep on telling only the truth until they are recorded before Allah as being veracious forever. Other servants keep on telling untruths until they are recorded with Allah as liar forever.”¯16¯
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: It is improper to tell untruths whether seriously or jokingly and it is improper to promise your child something and then fail to keep your promise. Verily, telling lies leads to sinfulness and sinfulness leads to Hellfire. One may keep on telling lies continuously until he is known as a liar and perpetually sinful. One may keep on telling lies continuously until his heart becomes void of any space for honesty, be it as tiny as a needle’s place, and then he is recorded with Almighty Allah as liar forever.¯17¯
4. Islam has warned against double-dealing and double-talk in social relations.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Whoever deals with Muslims with two faces and two tongues, will come on the Day of Resurrection having two tongues of fire.¯18¯
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: Extremely wretched is the servant (of Allah) who has two faces and two tongues. He flatters his brother-in-faith in his presence but devours (i.e. backbites) him when he is absent. If his brother-in-faith gets something good, he will envy him, but if he is afflicted with a problem, he will disappoint him.¯19¯
5. Islam has deemed forbidden cutting off one’s relations with faithful believers, provoking their animosity, or intending evil to them.
Through various chains of authority, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: If one says to one’s brother-in-faith, “Ugh!” then their friendship is ruptured. If one says, “You are my enemy!” then one of them has abandoned faith. Almighty Allah will never accept any deed of a believer who intends evil to his brother-in-faith.¯20¯
6. Islam has warned against having bad opinions about faithful believers or accusing them of anything improper.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: If a believer accuses his brother-in-faith of something, his faith will dissolve from his heart in the same way salt dissolves in water.¯21¯
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have quoted Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as saying: Give the best probability to the deed of your brother-in-faith until you receive from him something that tears down the likelihood of good. Never deem evil any word that has been said by your brother-in-faith as long as you can find an acceptable excuse for it.¯22¯
1. - This means that everything said in a meeting must be kept secret.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:471, S. 71, H. 1.
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:471, S. 71, H. 3.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:471, S. 71, H. 4.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:515, S. 109, H. 2.
6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:515, S. 109, H. 3.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:513, H. 1.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:514, S. 108, H. 8.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:544, S. 122, H. 7.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:454, S. 50, H. 1.
11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:476, S. 78, H. 1.
12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:570, S. 137, H. 1.
13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:571, S. 137, H. 4.
14. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:573, S. 138, H. 3.
15. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:573, S. 138, H. 6.
16. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:576, S. 140, H. 1.
17. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:577, S. 140, H. 3.
18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:581, S. 143, H. 1.
19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:582, S. 143, H. 2.
20. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:611, S. 159, H. 2.
21. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 8:613, S. 161, H. 1.
22. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:362, H. 3; Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Amali, pp. 380, H. 483; ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 75: 196, H. 11 as quoted from the previous reference books.