The Responsibility of the Scholars
In the Sayings of Holy Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.)
Imam al-Husayn (A.S.), concerning enjoining the good deeds and forbidding from the evil acts: O people! Take advice from what Allah has said unfavorably about the Rabbis, when He says: "Why do not the Rabbis and Monks forbid them from their habit of uttering sinful words and eating things forbidden"(5:63), He also says: "Curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected faith", and He goes on saying that: "Evil is indeed their work"(5:78, 79).
Allah has reproached them because they saw that the oppressors among them were wicked and did evil acts, but, did not forbid them to commit evil deeds because they were willing to get benefit from them and they were afraid of them; whereas Allah says: "Yet Fear them not, but fear Me. (5:44). And again: "The believers, men and women, are protectors, of one another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil" (5:71). Allah has begun enjoining what is just and forbidding what is evil as His decree, since He knew that if this canonical obligation would be met, all other duties simple or hard would be fulfilled. Because enjoining to do good deeds and forbidding to do the evil ones is equal to calling people to Islam which is based on returning the rights of oppressed people, opposing the cruel, distributing the booties and public treasury rightly and collecting and spending the Zakat properly too.
Anyhow, you are a group of people who are famous for your knowledge and renowned for your benevolence; and with the grace of Allah, are regarded people with awe and respect. The great men fear you while you are held dear by the weak even those over whom you have no superiority and are not indebted to you, prefer you over themselves. The needy come to you whenever they became disappointed of meeting their demands. You walk in the streets and the alleys like glorious kings and the honorable. Now you've reached to a status that you are expected to uphold the truth, but why do you fail to do so? You have failed to give the Imams their due rights and oppressed the weak, but asked for what you were thinking was your right. You've neither given away any property nor jeopardized your life and fought with a clan for the sake of Allah, but you desire to go to heaven and be associated with the prophets and be secure from Allah's chastisements.
O People who desire such things from Allah! I fear retribution would befall you; because, with Allah's grace, you've reached to a state in which you surpass others. You do not respect those who know and fear Allah, whereas you are respected by the people. You observe that Allah's covenants are broken, and you are not afraid, but when you see some of your father's contracts are broken, you'll be panic stricken and worried. You see that the Holy Prophet's admonitions are neglected and the blind people the dumb and the sick ones are not taken care of in the cities. You neither care nor do something for these people. You do not even help those who help them. You flatter the oppressors and by doing so you feel comforted. Allah has given order that you should refrain from doing such acts, and prevent the others too. But you neglect [your mission]. If you had some sense you would find out that your affliction is greater than that of the others, because you've lost the status of the learned. This is because those who know Allah and are aware of what it is religiously lawful or forbidden by Him, are the leaders.
You've lost your status only because of your different views about the Holy Prophet's traditions which were clear. If you were patient with the persecutions, you would have become trusted and hold authority concerning rules of Allah for all people, but you yourselves caused the oppressors to dominate you; and gave the authority to those who act according to their dubious whims and selfish interests. What has made them capable of reaching this status is your fear of death which eventually will meet you, and you're clinging to the worldly affairs. You left the miserable alone, some of them were gripped in the claws of the oppressors, and some were toiling to earn their living. In the affairs of the state they act willfully, and their capriciousness is apparent to all, that is because they've followed the wicked and have become rude to Allah the Almighty. They have eloquent orators in all cities where they can say whatever they want on the pulpit. The people have become their obedient servants and slaves, and cannot defend themselves. Some of them are harsh and oppressive and treat the weak people badly. Some of them are rulers who do not know the Creator Whom they shall meet soon.
Strange! How should not I be surprised whereas a deceitful oppressor unlawfully rules over the believers who feel no pity for them. In the struggle and the argument which exist between us, only Allah is the arbitrator.
O Allah! You know that what we've done was neither out of the rivalry to gain power, nor to obtain worldly possessions; but rather it was to manifest the signs of Thy religion and to uphold righteousness on the earth. Thus the oppressed will find security and comfort and obey Thy rules. If you people would not help us and not be on our side, the oppressors would dominate you and would try to extinguish the light of your Prophet. Allah suffices us, we put our trust in Him, and we will return to Him.
Imam al-Sajjad (A.S.) in his advising letter to Muhammad Ibn Muslim al-Zuhri: May Allah keep the calamity far from me and you and have mercy on you and keep you away from the fire of Hell, because you are entangled in a state that you need mercy. Allah's bounties are so much for you that you are healthy and have lived a long life. Your responsibilities are more serious because [the Holy Qur'an] and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) are well known to you and you are also aware of the religion. You do have a duty to perform for each of his bounties and have a responsibility. He wishes no more than trying your gratitude and reveal His kindness to you. He has said: "If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you, but if you show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed"(14:7).
Behold then what sort of a person you will be on Resurrection Day, when you would stand in Allah's presence and He would ask you about His bounties and about how you performed your duties toward Him. Never suspect that Allah will accept your excuses or will consent to your shortcomings well. Away! Far from it! He has taken vow from the learned in the Holy Qur'an when He says: "And remember Allah took a covenant from the people of the Book to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it"(3:187).
Remember that the heaviest burden you carry, and the slightest truth you've concealed is your approaching the tyrant and accepting his invitation when he was alone. You accompanied him to help him to go astray. Vow! How much I fear that you will be punished with the treacherous and will be reckoned for your actions. You have received the things which were not yours, and have been close to those who did not give the people what was due to them. When you were close to such people, you've not prevented any wrong-doing. You've taken for friends people who were against Allah. Is it not that their inviting you was to pave
their ways to cruelties they committed? With your help they have done something that Muslims look at the true learned men with suspicion and doubt; and you caused the ignorant follow them. [Even] their strongest friends and their most powerful companions couldn't justify their wrong -doings as effectively as you did. How little you've gained from them compared to what they've taken from you. How unworthy are the things you've received in return to what they have taken from you [your faith].
Be constantly attentive to your soul! No other person would do that for you, and attend to your soul like a responsible person. See how you thank the One who brought you up from childhood to maturity. How much I fear that you would be among those people about whom Allah has said in His Book: "After them succeeded an (evil) generation: They inherited the book, but they choose (for themselves) the vanities of this world, saying (for excuse) everything will be forgiven"(7:167). You do not live in a long-lasting abode; you are in an abode from which you shall be departing soon. How much longer one lives after his fellow creatures?! Blessed is a man who lives in this world fearfully and woe to a man who would die unrepentant. Beware, as you've been informed; therefore make haste as your time is limited. You deal with the One who is not unaware and is always watchful on you. Be prepared as you will have a long journey soon, and find a remedy for your sins, as you have come down with a serious disease.
Do not suspect that I have the intention of reproaching you, but I wish that Allah would give you back your lost faith, and revive your thinking faculty, and remind you of the words of Allah the Exalted when He says in His Book: "But remind (them); for remembrance benefits the believers" (51:55).
You've forgotten your lost companions, and are like a ram with one broken horn. See if the others have been subjected to the same calamity as you have; or do you think that you know some thing which they did not know? You've benefited a status and position that made people love you and follow your ways and obey your orders. If you consider something legitimate, others will consider it legitimate too, whereas you are not merited for this.
But their love is towards what you do posses [knowledge] their scholars have gone and the dominance of ignorance is on you and them your and their love of the world make them follow you as well. Haven't you seen that how much you, yourself are unaware, and ignorant; and how much the people are seditious and are entangled in calamity? There is no doubt that you have caused such calamities; and prevented the people from doing their routine daily works. All these people are eager to reach the status equal to that of yours, or reach to whatever you've reached. It is because of you that they've fallen into a fathomless sea and are thus in trouble. May Allah come to our relief; and it is only from him that we should seek help.
Now divert your attention from the situation you are in, so as you might join the worthy people who are hidden in their shabby and worn out clothes. [Because of hunger and fasting] they are on the verge of starving to death and there is no veil between them and Allah. The world would not deceive them and they would not be infatuated with the world either. They asked and required [heavenly rewards] and it didn't take a long time for them to attain it. When the world deals with you who are learned and approaching your death, how can a young person who has not the knowledge and his thinking and reasoning faculties are not matured, be immune?! "To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return (2:150). Where should we find support? And whom should we apologize? We complain to Allah of our sorrows and sufferings which you've made for us. We expect a reward from Him for all those sufferings.
See how you express your gratitude toward the One who has nurtured you in your early years and when you were grown up? And how do you revere the One who has made you well reputed among the people? And how do you keep the robe of honor which protects you? And how is your relation to the One who has ordered you to be close to Him and be humble and obedient to Him? What has happened to you that you do not awake and repent of your sins and offences and say: "I swear to Allah that I have not taken even one step to revive a religious law, or to prevent doing a wrong action". This, in itself, is a form of gratitude to the One who has given you this knowledge. How much I fear that you would be considered one of those about whom Allah has said "But after them there followed a posterity who missed prayers and followed after lusts, soon then will they face destruction" (19:59). Allah has entrusted His book and knowledge to you, but you failed to do your responsibility. Praise be to Allah that has kept us safe from what has befallen on you. Wassalam.
Yazid ibn Abd Allah quoting a tradition: Imam al-Baqir(A.S.) wrote to Sa'd al-Khayr:
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I instruct you to practice piety, because piety makes one immune from corruption; and provides gaining benefit m the next World. Allah, the Glorious and Majestic, keeps away dangers from a pious person, of which he himself has no idea and because of piety He removes his ignorance and blind-heartedness too. It was because of piety that Prophet Noah and his companions in the ship were rescued from the Deluge, and Prophet Salih and his followers were not harmed by the thunderbolt. Because of piety, the patient ones were saved, those noble and selected people [Prophet Noah and Prophet Salih and their followers and all those people who were patient] were saved. [Now] they have brothers who follow the same path and seek the same virtue. Because of hearing of the punishments of the sinful, they controlled their passions and praised Allah for what has destined for them, because He is worthy of praise. They reproached themselves for their shortcomings as they always feel that they deserve reproaches. They knew that Allah, the Blessed the High, knowing and patient gets angry with those who were not living for His satisfaction. He denies His Divine mercy from those who would reject His bounty and let go astray only those people who would reject His guidance. He gave them opportunity to repent by replacing their bad deeds with good actions, and repeatedly invited His servants to do this, and made no limitation for their prayer. Allah's damnation is upon those who deny what has been sent by Him. Allah has made it incumbent on Himself to be Merciful, so His mercy precedes His wrath, thus his justice became manifest. So he does not become angry with them unless they would arouse His anger. This is clear enough to those who are pious, learned and faithful. Whenever a nation denied the knowledge of the Book, Allah made them deprived of it too. He also made their enemies rule over them, when they themselves accepted their rule.
One of the signs of ignoring the Book is to give too much attention to the words and accents and distort their meanings. They recite the verses, but do not apply them to their lives. The ignorant are happy with mere memorizing; but the learned people are sorrowful of seeing that the verses are not put into practice.
Another sign of ignoring the Book is that a group of ignorant persons are chosen responsible for the Book of Allah, and they direct people toward whims and lusts and thus paved their way to destruction, they changed the religion's guidelines and left it behind to a group of ignorant and stupid people. Thus the "Ummah" refer to men's commands and follow them whereas they must refer to the commands of Allah the Blessed and the Most High.
Woe to the cruel persons who substituted men's mastership for Allah's and are expecting men's rewards and seek men's gratification instead of obeying Allah's orders. Among the Ummah are people who are devout practitioners of Islamic rules, but are gone astray. They are enchanted by the Satan and their worship is a source of confusion and sedition, both for themselves and for those who follow them.
There are pieces of advice and lessons for the worshippers of Allah [in the sayings of] Allah's Messengers. A prophet obeys Allah in each and every aspect, but when in one case disobeys Him then Allah cast him away from the Paradise, or throws another prophet into the whale's belly, and saves him only after he has repented. Then you [O Sa'd] know these pseudo scholars and pseudo priests who have concealed and falsified what was in Allah's Book. They were not led to the right path and their transactions incurred nothing for them but loss.
Know then their similar ones among the Ummah' those who watched the words in the Holy Qur'an, but distorted their meanings and commentaries. These people are always walking behind the superiors of the society, and when these latter ones are dispersed they follow those who have more and better worldly means. Their ultimate knowledge is not further than this. They always wallow in greed and infamy; and always talk vain words and the voice of Satan is heard from their mouths. The true learned men are patient with them when they hear harsh and offensive words from them. These people criticize the learned men, when they advise them to perform what has been ordered by Allah. Whereas the learned men feel treacherous if they leave guiding the people, or lead the ones who go astray or not revive one who is spiritually dead. How they got bad! Allah the Blessed and the most High has taken the pledge from them in the Holy Quran to enjoin the good and to prohibit doing what is forbidden, and cooperate with each other in doing what is good and virtuous, and not to help them in doing what is sinful and transgression. The learned men are put out of patience in harassment by these ignorant people. Because if they give a piece of advice, the ignorant persons will say they have become rebellious and if they teach the truth which is left unknown, they say that they are against the truth; if they lead the life of a recluse, people say they've separated themselves from the "ummah" If they ask for the reasons, they say they've become hypocrites; and if they follow and obey them they say: They've disobeyed Allah the Supreme and High.
May these ignorant people be annihilated! They don't have a clear understanding of what they read in the Book of Allah, they deny the Book and only half heartedly accept what's written in it and distort its meanings and do not think that what they do is immoral. They are similar to the priests, forerunners in pursuing their caprices and whims and the great men of the land of destruction. There is another group which is standing at the junction of guidance and misleading, who do not recognize the saved ones from those who go astray. They say that people did not have different ideas concerning the religion [at the time of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.)]. They are right. When the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) passed away, he left behind him a clear and distinct Shariah. Not even a tradition was changed then and not an evil innovation appeared among them. They were not against one another. But when the darkness of sins enveloped the people, two Imams (leaders) appeared: One leading to Allah the Magnificent and High; and the other to the Hell Fire.
At this time Satan started to speak and his voice was heard by his followers who were increasing and entered into the partnership with him in wealth and offspring. Thus they neglected the Book and the Sunnah and the heretical practices were increasing. But Allah's friends clung to the Book and wisdom and started reasoning with their opponents. From that day on the followers of the right path and the evil doers separated their ways and those who were guided refused to cooperate and were reluctant to take side with the righteous ones, but those who had gone astray supported one another, in a way the mob inclined toward such-and-such. So know well this group.
There is another group, observe them delicately, the noble ones, and do not separate from them, so that you would join these who dwell in the Paradise because: "Truly, those in loss are those who loose their own souls and their relatives on the Day of Judgment: Ah! That is indeed the (real and) evident loss!" (39:15).
Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) in The Qur'an and Hadith
By: Muhammadi Rayshahri