Imam al-Baqir's Valuable Commandments
Many commandments were reported on the authority of Ima`m Abu` Ja'far, peace be on him. Some of them were to his children; some of them were to his companions. They are full of noble values and high ideals. They are rich in rules of conduct and good guidance that protects man from bad practices and deviation from the truth. The following are his commandments:
His Commandments to his Son al-Sa`diq(A.S.)
Ima`m Abu` Ja'far (al-Ba`qir), peace be on him, supplied his son al-Sa`diq with a group of valuable commandments. The following are some of them:
1. He, peace be on him, said: "O My little son, indeed, Allah has hidden three things in three things. He has hidden his pleasure in His obedience. So, do not scorn anything of obedience. Perhaps His pleasure is in it. He has hidden His wrath in His disobedience. So, do not scorn anything of disobedience.
Perhaps His wrath is in it. And He has hidden His friends among His creatures. So, do not scorn anyone. Perhaps he is a friend.(Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, p. 29)
These commandments are full of high moral standards. They urge people to obey Allah. They warn them intensely from disobeying Him. Moreover, they urge them to respect each other.
2. Ima`m al-Sa`diq, peace be on him, related to Sufya`n al-Thawri some of his father's commandments. He said to him: "O Sufya`n, my father ordered me (to do) three, and prevented me (from doing) three. Among what he said to me is: 'O My little son, he who makes friends with a bad friend is not safe. Whoever enters into evil affairs is accused. He who does not restrain his tongue is regretful. Then he recited to me:
(If you) habituate your tongue to good words,
you will have a high rank with it.
It is authorized to take the good and the bad
(things) you have established for it.
So, think of the way to habituate it.( Al-Khisal, p. 157)
These commandments are among the most wonderful maxims, and among the best commandments of the righteous to their children. For they have all the necessities of the rules of conduct and virtues.
His Commandments to one of his Children
Ima`m al-Ba`qir gave commandments to one of his children. They are as follows: "O My little son, when Allah bestows a blessing on you, say: praise belongs to Allah. When an intense affair befalls you, then say: There is neither power nor might but through Allah. When your daily bread is slow (in coming) for you, then say: I seek Allah's forgiveness.(l-Bayan wa al-Tabiyyin, vol. 3, p. 280)
His Commandments to 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz
When 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz became caliph, he asked Ima`m Abu` Ja'far, peace be on him, to give him useful commandments to manage his government. So, the Ima`m, peace be on him, said: "I advise you to fear Allah, and to regard the young one of the Moslems as your son, the middle one of them as your brother, and the old one of them as your father. So, have mercy on your son, treat your brother kindly, and obey your father. When you do a favor, then go on (doing) it.( Abi' Ali al-Qali, al-Amali, vol. 2, p. 302)
'Umar admired this maxim, saying: "By Allah, you have gathered things. If we put these things into effect and Allah helps us with them, good will continue for us, Allah willing.(Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 51, p. 38)
These valuable words have brought together just political affairs. When the head of the state rules his subjects with justice and fairness and regard them as the members of his family, then the government and the people are happy and good continues for them.
His Commandments to Ja`bir al-Ju'fi
Ima`m Abu` Ja'far, peace be on him, supplied his knowledgeable student, Ja`bir b. Yazid al-Ju'fi, with immortal commandments full of high moral standards and ideals through which man becomes sublime
when he puts them into effect. The following are some of them:
I commend you to (follow) five (commandments): When (people) wrong you, then do not wrong them. When they betray you, then do not betray them. When they accuse you of lying, then do not be angry. When they praise you, then do not be happy. When they dispraise you, then be patient. Think of what they say against you. If you know that what they say against you is in yourself, then do not be angry out of the truth. For to become low with Allah, the Great and Almighty, is more disastrous than to become low with the people. If you are contrary to what they say against you, then you obtain a reward while your body is not tired.
Know that you are not our friend when you become sad when all the people of your city say that you are an evil man. If they say that you are a righteous man, that should not delight you. However, you should compare yourself with Allah's Book. If you follow its way, refrain from its prohibition, wish for its arousal of an interest, and afraid of its frightening, then be steadfast and cheerful. For what (people) say against you does not harm you. If you are dissenting to the Koran, then noting of your self should deceive you.
Indeed the believer should take care of himself to overcome its caprice. For he sometimes straightens its crookedness and opposes its caprice out of the love for Allah. His soul sometimes overcomes him. Then he follows his caprice.
So, Allah refreshes him, and he becomes refreshed. Allah abolishes his stumble, so he remembers and resorts to repentance and fear. So, he increases in insight and knowledge, for the fright in him is increased. That is because Allah says: 'Surely those who guard (against evil), when a visitation from the Satan afflicts them, they become mindful, then lo! they see.(The Holy Qur'an, al-A'raf, 200)
O Ja`bir, regard as much the little livelihood from Allah to be loyal to gratefulness. Regard as little your obedience to Allah to belittle yourself and to ask (Allah's forgiveness). Drive away the present evil from yourself through the present knowledge. Put into effect the present knowledge sincerely. Guard against the great heedlessness during the sincere act through the intense watchfulness.
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Bring the intense watchfulness through the truthful fear. Be careful of the hidden adornment through the present life and beware of the rashness of caprice through the guidance of reason. Stop during the overcome of caprice through seeking knowledge. Save the good deeds for Judgment Day. Take the field of satisfaction through avoiding greediness. Remove the great greediness through preferring satisfaction (to it).
Bring the sweetness of asceticism through the shortness of hope. Sever the means of greediness through the coolness of despair. Close up the way of conceit through knowing the soul. Get to the rest of the soul through soundness of the authorization. Seek the rest of the body through giving rest to the soul. Come to the rest of the soul through making few mistakes. Seek the mercy of the heart through praising (Allah) very much in private. Bring the light of the soul through the continuity of sadness. Remain wary of Iblis through the truthful fear (of Allah). Beware of the false hope, for it throws into the truthful fear. Adorn yourself for Allah, the Great and Almighty, through honesty in acts. Show love to him through the quick change.
Be careful of postponement, for it is a sea in which the perished drown. Be cautious of heedlessness, for the cruelty of the heart is in it. Remain wary of slowness in what you have no excuse, for the regretful resort to it (the excuse). Recall the past sins through the intense regret and asking (Allah's) forgiveness very much. Seek Allah's mercy and forgiveness through the good repetition (of the past sins). Seek the help (of Allah) against the good repetition through the sincere supplication and whispered prayer in the darkness. Reach the great gratefulness through regarding the little livelihood as much and regarding obedience as little. Bring the increase of blessings through the great gratefulness.
Make use of the great gratefulness through fearing the vanishing of blessings. Seek the continuity of glory through deadening greediness. Push away the abasement of greediness through the glory of despair. Bring the honor of despair through aspiration. Supply yourself with (provisions) from this world through the shortness of hope. Hasten to seize the purpose during the possibility of the opportunity. There is no possibility like the past days with the soundness of the bodies. Be careful not to trust the dishonest, for evil has violence as the violence of food.
"Know that there is no knowledge like seeking safety, no safety like the safety of the heart, no reason like opposing the desire, no fear like the protective fear, no hope like the helping hope, no poverty like the poverty of the heart, no riches like the riches of the soul, no power like the victory over caprice, no light like the light of certitude, no certitude like your belittling the world, no knowledge like your knowledge of yourself, no blessing like health, no health like the assistance of success, no honor like aspiration, no asceticism like the shortness of hope, no desire like the competition for the ranks, no justice like equity, no aggression like injustice, no injustice like following caprice, no obedience like performing the obligations, no fear like sadness, no disaster like the lack of reason, no lack of reason like the littleness of certitude, no littleness of certitude like the loss of fear (of Allah), no loss of fear like the littleness of sadness for the loss of fear, no disaster like your disdaining the sin and your satisfaction with the condition in which you are, no virtue like jihad, no jihad like striving against caprice, no power like restraining anger, no offense is like the love of eternity, and no abasement like the abasement of greediness. Beware of negligence during the possibility of the opportunity, for it is the field that brings about loss to its people.(Tuhaf al-'Uqul, pp.284-286)
These wonderful commandments full of valuable maxims are proofs for the Ima`mate of Ima`m Abu` Ja'far (al-Ba`qir), peace be on him. They have illuminated a great part of his talents and genius. If he had nothing except these commandments, they would be sufficient evidence for his greatness and his limitless scientific abilities. For the Ima`m considered carefully the depth of the soul, understood it thoroughly, and analyzed its dimensions.
Thus, he knew the psychological diseases and catastrophes that afflict man. Indeed man has been afflicted by ignorance, conceit, haughtiness, greediness, avarice, long hope, and the like. Surely, all these diseases urges man to sink into offenses and sins. So, he deviates from the right path and straight behavior. The Ima`m, peace be on him, studied these diseases and prescribed decisive remedies for them. If man puts into effect these commandments, he will be ideal and educated.
Moreover, he will protect his soul and cling to his Creator to Whom he will return. Were it not for lengthiness, we would explain these commandments in detail and indicate the maxims and secrets in them.
His Commandments to a Moslem
A Moslem came to Ima`m al-Ba`qir. The Moslem asked the Ima`m to give him some commandments to follow. So, the Ima`m, peace be on him, advised him, saying: "Prepare your necessary things, offer your provisions, and be a custodian over your soul.(Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 51, p. 38)
Surely, the Ima`m led the Moslem to what approached him to Allah and secured safety for him in the immortal abode. If man prepares his necessary things, he will secure his religion and the hereafter.
His Commandments to one of his Companions
One of the companions of the Ima`m, peace be on him, wanted to travel. So, the Ima`m, peace be on him, supplied him with these valuable commandments. He said to him:
Do not walk bare-footed. Do not dismount from your horse at night to relieve nature unless your feet are in the sandals. Do not urinate into a crack. Do not taste or smell a plant unless you know what it is. Do not drink out of a water skin unless you know what it is in it. Be careful of the one whom you know. Do not accompany the one whom you do not know.(Ibn Hamdun, Tadhkirat, p. 27)
The Ima`m, peace be on him, advised his companion to follow health methods and moral lessons that secured for him health and safety.
As for the Ima`m's commandments concerning health and prevention from diseases, they are as follows:
1. The Ima`m advised the Moslem not to walk bare-footed. For walking without sandals makes man liable to germs that may enter his body through the pores of his feet, such as the germs that bring about Bilharzia.
2. He advised him not to dismount his horse and walk bare-footed at night to relieve nature. For he might be liable to the stings and bitings of the creatures that had hidden them selves in the earth. So, they would come and sting or bite him while he did not know.
3. He advised him not to urinate into a crack. For some deadly animals might hide themselves in the crack. Thus, they would come out and kill him.
4. He advised him not to eat any plant in the desert. For some plants might be poisonous. So, if he had eaten them, they would have poisoned him or made him ill.
5. He advised him not to drink out of the water skin unless he knew what was in it. For it might have some bad drink. So, if he had drunk it, it would have killed him or made him sick.
As for the moral lessons, they are as follows:
1. He advised him to be careful of the unknown people. He advised him not to reveal his secrets for them. He advised him to accompany them well out of fear of them. Traveling usually discovers the true nature of a person and reveals his hidden secrets. Many friends travel together. They love each other.
When they come back, they curse each other. So, during traveling, the righteous person must remain wary of those whom he knows and those whom he does not know.
2. He advised him not to travel with those whom he did not know. For such a journey might cause many difficulties for him or it might cause his death. Many times, that befell travelers who traveled with those whom they did not know.