The Holy Imams’ affection for fellow creatures
By: Maulana Sayyid Zafar Hasan Amrohi
The fact is that the affection the Holy Imams (a.s) showed towards the people is such that its equal is not found anywhere. This affection was only for the sake of Allah and neither any show-off nor any personal gain is present in it. Seeing the hardship of every Muslim they felt greatly hurt and tried their best to remove it. Most of the time they themselves had to suffer hardships in this regard but they bore it willingly.
Affection Of Imam Ali (a.s)
Ibne Hanbal writes in his Musnad that when the verse: O you who believe! When you consult the Apostle, then offer something in charity before your consultation; (Surah Mujadilah 58:12)
was revealed, the Prophet told Ali (a.s), “Go and command those people to pay alms (Sadaqah).” “How much should I ask them to pay?” asked Ali (a.s). “One Dinar”, replied the Prophet (S). Ali (a.s) said, “They are unable to pay this much.” “Half a Dinar”, said the Prophet. “They cannot even pay this much” said Ali (a.s). The Prophet said, “A grain of gold.” Ali (a.s) said, “Maybe they cannot even afford this.” The Prophet said, “O Ali! You are very kind to the people. All right! Tell them to give only one dirham.” Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) used to say, “The reduction in this command was due to me.”
It is narrated from Abu Saeed Khudri that when the Messenger of Allah (S) attended a funeral he never asked about any deed of the deceased but inquired about his debt position. It that person remained indebted after death the Prophet did not recite his funeral prayer. One day he attended a funeral and as was his custom, he asked if the departed one had any debts. People told him that the person had died indebted by two dinars. The Prophet moved away from the bier, and told the companions to recite his funeral prayer. Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) said, “O Messenger of Allah, those two dinars are my responsibility. The deceased one is free from the debt.” The Prophet was pleased to hear this, and he recited the funeral prayer. Then he prayed for the well being of Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s).
During the course of his caliphate, Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) saw an old and weak woman carrying a load of food grain on her back. She was out of breath due to her weakness. He moved forward at once and took the load on his shoulders and carried it to her house.
When Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) took the control of Islamic government he ordered his sons to prepare a list of all the deprived people, the poor, the destitutes, widow and orphans of Kufa. He also told them to be accurate and not leave out anyone. Thus he dispatched one son to the east another to the west and so on. When the lists were prepared, during the whole tenure of his Caliphate, it was the habit of the Imam that he used to carry loaves of bread and dates on his shoulder during the night and distribute them to the needy people. Once the Imam was down with high temperature. Hasan and Husain (a.s) offered to fulfill his duty. The Imam said, “No, the Almighty Allah has entrusted me with the responsibility of this government. Let me perform my duty.” Thus he went out in the feverish condition also.
Affection Of Imam Hasan (a.s)
During the tenure of his caliphate it was the ritual of Imam Hasan (a.s) that till the time people did not assure him that all of the deprived, orphans and widows in the neighborhood had their meals, the Imam did not eat himself. Often it so happened that he began to eat and a beggar appeared at his door. He used to remove the food placed in front of him and remain hungry.
One day Imam Hasan (a.s) learnt that the son of a widow in the neighborhood was ill. He went to visit the child. The widow lamented that there no one who could help her in the illness of her child. The Imam said, “Do not worry, I am there to render all help.” Thus he visited them in the morning and the evening and fulfilled all their needs. He used to sit near the sick boy, massage him and speak to him words of comfort and assurance. The Imam also provided him with whatever he desired to eat.
Affection Of Imam Husain (a.s)
After the battle of Naharwan the troops of Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) took Shimr as captive. One day Imam Husain (a.s) passed by the prison and Shimr said, “O son of Allah's Messenger! Take pity on me and request your father to release me. I cannot bear the hardships of this captivity anymore.” The Imam at once came to Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) and began to petition him for the release of Shimr. Ali (a.s) became very angry and said, “Son, you don't know who that fellow is. He is you killer. One day, he would slaughter you in a condition of three days' hunger and thirst.” Imam Husain (a.s) said, “All this is correct, but I have promised him. Do not let me be embarrassed before him.” Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) ordered his release.
When people laid siege to the house of caliph Uthman and prevented rations from him, Imam Ali (a.s) ordered Imams Hasan and Husain (a.s) to carry water skins and some loaves of bread and deliver them to the besieged people. Thus when the young men reached there the people stopped them but with great valour they moved ahead. Someone said, “These people are not deserving of mercy.” The Imams (a.s) replied, “May be not in your opinion. But the affection for creatures that Allah has created in our hearts demands that we help them in their difficulty.”
The fact is that except for the Ahl ul-Bayt it is not possible for anyone to show affection for people in such circumstances. It was only their kind-heartedness that they dealt with affection with their most staunch enemies.
Affection Of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s)
In spite of the financial hardships that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) always had, he regularly, helped the poor people of Medina and loading leavened bread on his shoulders, he used to distribute it to their houses. Ibne Ishaq says that many poor people of Medina used to receive food daily. But they did not know who had brought it. When the Imam passed away the people realized that the one who used to supply them food keeping his face covered was Ali Ibnul Hasan (a.s). It is said that when the funeral bath was being administered to the Imam a dark bruise was seen on his back. Someone asked what it was and a person from Ahl ul-Bayt replied that it was due to carrying sacks of flour at night to the needy people's houses.
During the plunder of Medina, when the Yazidite forces unleashed general massacre in Medina, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) was taken at a safe place under orders from Yazid but he used to bitterly lament the destruction of the people of Medina. Those who escaped the carnage and came to him seeking refuge were accorded protection by him, and were treated affectionately by the Imam. Thus many lives were saved by the Imam's affection.
Affection Of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s)
The affection of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) was such that those who visited him were inquired about the condition of their neighbors. If someone mentioned the problems of a particular person, the Imam used to visit him and render whatever help he could. One day while walking through a by-lane of Medina he saw a man groaning in pain. The Imam came to him. This fellow belonged to the Bani Umayyah clan and just a few days ago had bad-mouthed the Imam. The Imam said to him, “O man! If you have any need, mention it.” He was ashamed and he said, “O son of the Messenger of Allah (S). I am sick and even a drop of water is prohibited for me. The physician has prescribed pomegranate juice for me. I was going to purchase a pomegranate when due to extreme weakness I fell down here.” The Imam said, “I will get a pomegranate for you.”
Thus he went to the market immediately and brought it to him and fed him the seeds with his own hands. When the fellow regained his senses the Imam said, “Come I'll take you to your house.” Then supporting his shoulders the Imam took him to his house. The fellow was so mesmerized by this affection that he fell down at the Imam's feet and begged forgiveness for his past audacity.
Affection Of Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq (a.s)
One day Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) was going somewhere astride his horse. On the way he saw a person sitting. The person greeted the Imam and looked at him expectantly. The Imam alighted from the horse and inquired about his condition. He said, “Son of Allah's Messenger! I am a traveler. I am exhausted to walk any more. Please allow me to ride on your mount and convey me to such and such tribe. There are some relatives of mine there, and I will borrow their steed and go home on it.” The Imam said, “This steed is at your service, mount it and go wherever you like.” The person thanked the Imam and said, “I will soon return it to you.” The Imam said, “No need, I have given it to you.”
Affection Of Imam Musa Kazim (a.s)
During the period Imam Musa Kazim (a.s) resided in Medina many trouble-afflicted people visited him and mentioned their woes. The Imam listened to each of their problems in an affectionate way and rendered them whatever help he could. One day a person told him that the Governor of Medina was inimical to him and was finding excuses to harass him. “Please petition him on my behalf.” In spite of the fact that the governor was inwardly inimical to the Imam, the Imam went to him and petitioned him on behalf of that person saying, “I have never approached you for my personal matters, but when I heard the woes of that person I became restless, and I have come to you to consider about him.” The governor was so much affected by the Imam's words that from that day he became very kind to that person.”
Affection Of Imam Reza (a.s)
During the time Imam Reza (a.s) was the heir-apparent of Mamun, it was his practice to roam the town on foot every day in search of people in need and then try to solve their difficulties. When Mamun learnt about it, he told the Imam one day, “I have heard that you go out sight-seeing on foot while conveyance is available for you. Why do you take this trouble?” The Imam replied, “I do not go for sight-seeing, I go to study the condition of poor Muslims.” Mamun said, “You can go for this also on a horse back.” Imam (a.s) said, “In that case the downtrodden people would not meet me freely. Seeing my affluent manner they would be repelled and would not dare to approach me.” Mamun was shocked on getting this reply and after some time he said, “It is a fact that affection towards creatures is truly the job of you Ahl ul-Bayt only.”
Affection Of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s)
During the eight years of his stay in Baghdad, Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) regularly imparted religious education to the people. On most of the days people remained in his presence from morning till night. He was neither fed up with them nor worried. One day he was having high temperature, when he was informed of some people waiting for him outside to narrate their problems. The family members of the Imam said that it was not the time to meet Imam (a.s) and they would tell the people to come sometime later. The Imam said, “No, maybe someone is having an urgent need to meet me.” So he came out with the support of a slave and in that same high fever listened to the people. One of them said, “My father is on the death bed. He wanted to make some bequest regarding his property in your presence and also to see you for the last time. But how can I request you to come while you are in such a severe fever?” The Imam said, “I will come.” His family protested how he could go out in such a condition but the Imam said that he would walk slowly. Thus he went keeping his hands on the shoulders of two slaves, one on each side. Allaho Akbar! (God is Greatest)! Except for the Ahl ul-Bayt who else can display such affection?
Affection Of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s)
In spite of leading an impoverished life in Samarrah he was not neglectful of the poor creatures of God. He himself visited the widows and orphans and carried food for them while remaining hungry himself mostly. When an orphan came before him, he used to caress his head affectionately and if he desired something it was provided to him.
Affection Of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s)
A major part of the life of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) either passed in prison or under house arrest. The spies of the caliph Motamid always kept the Imam under strict surveillance. One day some Shia person sent him a gift of some pomegranates. The fruits were kept before the Imam and the caliph's guard was eyeing them in a greedy manner. The Imam gave him one pomegranate. The fellow took it but did not eat it. When the Imam asked him the reason he said that he was the father of five children and he never ate anything without giving it to them also. And that he was thinking how to distribute one pomegranate between them all. The Imam gave him all the pomegranates. He said, “Son of Allah's Messenger! I don't need all of them. Keep some for yourself.” The Imam said, “It is better for the children to eat them, than me.” Witnessing such affection of the Holy Imam the royal guard became such an ardent devotee of his that he always used to remain in the Imam's service. When Motamid heard about it, he summoned the guard and punished him severely. He said, “Even if you put me to death, his love cannot leave my heart.” This reply infuriated Motamid further and he sentenced the man to life imprisonment.
Hospitality of the Holy Imams (a.s)
Hospitality is highly emphasized in Islam. The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Respect the guest even if he is a disbeliever.” The most excellent display of this equality was done by the Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s).
Hospitality Of Imam Ali (a.s)
Ibne Hajar Makki has written in Asnial Matalib fi Silatul Aqarib that one day Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) began to weep. When people asked him about it he said that seven days have passed but he did not have a guest. “I am fearful that maybe Allah has considered me degraded.”
Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) used to say, “Three things are most dear to me: Hospitality, Jihad with the sword and keeping fast on a hot day.”
Whenever he had a guest, the Imam used to be exceeding happy and did not leave any stone unturned in rendering him all the comforts and facilities. He asked the guest about his favorite dish and ordered that only that one be prepared for him. However insignificant a person his guest may be, he used to seat him next to himself. Himself he ate that same barley bread softened in water and grains of salt, but he served his guests the most delicious foods.
Hospitality Of Imam Hasan (a.s)
Imam Hasan (a.s) was the most hospitable person. His dinner cloth was very vast. The poor, the deprived, travelers and orphans dined on his food spread. He had the best possible food cooked for the guests, but he never partook anything from it. His diet consisted of that same barley bread and salt. One day he had a visitor. He ordered the servant to lay the food. When the person sat to eat the Imam saw him eating one morsel and keeping one morsel aside. The Imam said, “It seems that you have some children. But eat comfortably. By the Grace of Allah there is sufficient food here. You will be given to take away as much you want.” The man said, “I am a traveler and wife and children do not accompany me but I have seen a Dervish in the mosque eating chaff-mixed barley flour. I am keeping these morsels for him.” Imam Hasan (a.s) began to weep and said, “Do not consider him a Dervish. He is our respected father, Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s). He has divorced the world.”
Hospitality Of Imam Husain (a.s)
Imam Husain (a.s) was also of a very hospitable nature. Whenever a traveler who had lost his way reached Medina he used do to be a guest of Imam Husain (a.s). One day some people were discussing in the Prophet's Mosque about the most hospitable person in Medina. Everyone was expressing his own opinion. Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari also joined the group and the people solicited his opinion. He said, “Right now, there is no one more hospitable than the son of the Messenger, Imam Husain (a.s). I have seen that when a person becomes his guests he serves him so nicely that he forgets his family. If he is in debts, the Imam repays his debts. If he is on foot, the Imam gives him a mount. If he is sick the Imam arranges treatment for him. He goes a long way to bid him adieu and also begs his pardon saying, 'I was not able to do anything for you.'”
Hospitality Of Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s)
Farazdaq, the poet says that he visited Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) one day, to find some guests there. The Imam ordered that food be laid for them. Some bowls containing meat and broth were placed before the guests and a bowl of roasted grains was also placed there. This was his regular diet. After the tragedy of Kerbala he never ate anything delicious. The Imam was content only with roasted grains. Farazdaq says, “When the Imam started eating, I began to weep and said: O son of Allah's Messenger. Why don't you take some of the meat and broth?” The Imam began to weep and did not reply. When the guests had eaten to satiation he said to them by way excuse, “I could not serve you the type of food I desired to. I hope you would forgive me. The tragedy of Kerbala has made us living corpses.”
Hospitality Of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s)
Faiz Ibne Mazhar narrates: One day I went to Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) to find him aggrieved. I asked the reason and he said, “Last evening a traveler from Syria arrived and went away after saying that he would soon return after meeting a relative. I remained awake the whole night waiting for him from the morning till afternoon but he did not arrive. In his wait I have not eaten a single morsel. O Faiz! Go and search for him.” So I came out to search for him in the lanes and by-lanes but he was not found. I was returning dejected when he saw him walking on the road. I caught his hand and said, “O man, you are very careless. Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) has not eaten since two meal times in you anticipation.” Being greatly ashamed he said, “A relative of mine told me to stay the night. I didn't know that the Imam was so hospitable. Now I would go and beg forgiveness of my mistake.” The Syrian came with me to Imam (a.s). As soon as the Imam saw him, he became very happy. Embraced him and asked about his well being. The man told him about his condition and begged forgiveness for his mistake. The Imam said, “If you want my pleasure, dine with me now.” The person accepted and Imam ate with him after having missed two meals.
Hospitality Of Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq (a.s)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) used to display such hospitality that people were astonished. Never was his dinner spread devoid of travelers and destitutes. Like Prophet Ibrahim, the Imam never ate without the company of a guest. He often used to say, “A morsel that a believing brother eats with me is better for me than emancipating a slave.”
Sulaiman Ibne Khalid says that once a governor of Mansur was a dinner guest at the Imam's place. Different types of meat dishes and breads were placed on the food cloth. After the people ate to satiation they arose to leave. Just then the Imam's servant entered with a dish of rice. The Imam told them to partake it also but the people said that they were already full. But the Imam said that those who were his friends were also more deserving to dine at his place, and he insisted too much. At the last the people again sat down to eat. The Imam said, “Once rice was presented on the dinner spread of the Allah's Messenger. They were gifted by an Ansari (Helper) man. At that time, Salman Farsi, Miqdad and Abu Zar were also present. They were invited to eat but they wanted to excuse themselves. The Prophet said: Eat! Our friend is only that who eats with us properly. Hearing this they all began to dine happily.”
Abu Hamzah Thumali narrates: One day we were eating at the dinner spread of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s). Various kinds of delicious foods were present there. After that fresh and good quality dates arrived. We also ate those. At last a person said, “On the Day of Judgment you all would have to give the account of the fine things you have consumed here.” The Imam said, “Allah is much Greater, Higher and More Self-Sufficient than this; that He should take account of what you have eaten.” They said, “But Allah Himself says: Then on that day you shall most certainly be questioned about the boons. (Surah Takathur 102:8)
The Imam said, “The bounty mentioned in this verse denotes love for Ahl ul-Bayt. That is, you would be questioned on the Judgment day how far you have valued that bounty and of how you behaved with them. See, the same bounty is mentioned at another place: This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you…(Surah Maidah 5:3)
This bounty signifies the existence of the Imam.”
Muhammad Ibne Zaid Shakham narrates: One night I was a guest of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s). In the morning he asked, “What provisions of journey do you have?” I told him what I had. He said, “May be it would be insufficient.” After that he gave me two gold coins and twenty dirhams. I took them and went away. But, by chance I could not commence my journey that day. The Imam (a.s) learnt that I was still in town. He sent for me and asked, “Why did you not come back to me? Be my guest, till the time you stay in Medina. And if you need anything just mention it.” I said that I was very fond of milk. At once, the Imam gave me a milk-giving she goat and then he taught me a supplication and told me to recite it in the month of Rajab.
The Imam used to serve his guests with the best foods, and himself ate bread and vinegar. He used to say, “This is the diet of the prophets and we also eat this only.”
Abdullah Ibne Bukair narrates: One day the Holy Imam was having dinner with his guests and various kinds of delicious dishes were laid on the dinner spread. Someone remarked that the Imam spent too much on food, and that one must save for the future. The Imam said, “Sustenance is upon Allah. When He increases our sustenance, we also feed His creatures generously and when there is reduction in it, there is decrease here also.”
The narrator says: The Imam used to spend so generously upon the guests that sometimes there were financial problems for the family's expenses. One day the Imam was having his afternoon meal when a person arrived to him but did not greet him. Those present with the Imam said, “Since he has purposely not greeted you, why did you invite him to join you?” the Imam replied, “It is the jurisprudence of Iraq. It smells of miserliness.”
One day some guests were dining at Imam's place when one of them needed something and no servant was present. A guest arose to get the required thing, but the Imam stopped him and himself performed the job. Then he said, “Our grandfather, the Prophet of Allah, has commanded that it is incumbent for the host not to take any kind of service from the guest.”
Hospitality Of Imam Musa Kazim (a.s)
Since a major part of the life of Imam Musa Kazim (a.s) was spent in captivity, we don't find in books of history any incident regarding his hospitality. We present the following couplet so well depicting the Imam's condition: It was the limit of imprisonment The youth and old age of the Imam passed in prison.
Hospitality Of Imam Reza (a.s)
A major portion of the pension that the Imam received during the period of his heir-apparency of Mamun was spent in entertaining guests. People visited him from far-flung areas. One day Mamun came to meet him. He saw that the house of Imam (a.s) was teeming with guests and the Imam was busy in serving them. Mamun inquired who these people were. “They are all my guests”, replied the Imam. Mamun said, “Being on the honorable post of heir-apparent it does not befit you that like a commoner you serve these ordinary people. So many servants are there at you service, let them take care of these people.” The Imam said, “Being your heir-apparent, it may not befit me, but being the grandson of the Messenger, it is my duty that I serve my guests. We Ahl ul-Bayt are very fond of guests.”
Hospitality Of Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s)
Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) was also very hospitable. Once a guest arrived at his place in the middle of the night. The Imam asked him if he would like to have dinner. The guest said, “O son of Allah's Messenger, though I am hungry, since it is such an odd hour I don't want to inconvenience you, I will sleep hungry.” The Imam said, “Guests do no sleep hungry at our place.” Saying so he went inside and awakened one of his slave-maids and told her, “I am igniting the oven, you knead the flour.” She said, “Son of Allah's Messenger, I will ignite it myself.” “No”, said the Imam, “I also want to take some part in serving the guest.” Thus the Imam got the food prepared and brought it to the guest himself. Seeing such affection the man began to weep. When he asked the reason he said, “I am crying at the thought that how the world has not recognized such godly people.”
Hospitality Of Imam Ali Naqi (a.s)
During the time Mutawakkil had made life difficult for Imam Ali Naqi (a.s), the Imam often used to go without food but he never complained to anyone about it. One day, he managed to get some food after being hungry for two mealtimes. He was about to commence eating when a guest arrived. He placed the food before his guest in a cheerful manner and did not at all let him realize that he had already missed two meals. When the person finished eating he gave some Khums money to the Imam. The Imam spent the same on the poor and destitute, and slept hungry.
Hospitality Of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s)
Ali Ibne Ibrahim relates: I went to meet Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) and found him in a disturbed state. When I asked the reason he said, “I am having some guests today but I have nothing to serve them.” I said, “Son of Allah's Messenger, just mention it, I will get all that is needed.” The Imam said, “We Ahl ul-Bayt do not serve our guests at the expense of others.” “All right! Then tell me what I can do?” I said. He told me, “Go and sell this Yemeni sheet of mine.” I said, “Son of Allah's Messenger, it is so cold now-a-days and you do not have any other quilt or sheet. Do not sell it.” The Imam said, “The God Who gave this would give another.” I did as the Imam had ordered and sold the sheet for ten dirhams and brought the money to him. Immediately he began to make arrangement for a dinner. I was much aggrieved at the Imam's condition. The Imam said, “Why are you looking at me with pity? I would not have been as much happy by covering myself with the sheet, as I am in entertaining these guests.”
The Holy Imams’ kindness to relatives
The traditions of the holy infallibles (a.s) greatly emphasize the important of goodness to relatives. The Messenger of Allah (S) said, “The Almighty Allah increases the life span of one who is kind to his relatives.” He also said, “One who is not kind to his relatives, is not from us.”
Imam Ali’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
Imam Ali (a.s) regularly inquired about the well being of all his relatives and kinsmen and used to try his utmost in fulfilling all their needs. Ibne Abbas says that he has not seen anyone more excellent than Ali (a.s) in kindness to relatives. He says, “One day I fell sick and my illness became prolonged. Every morning and evening, Ali (a.s) visited me. Sitting near my head used to recite supplications and blow them on me. He brought to me whatever I desired.” Most of the time he distributed to others whatever he received as his share of war-booty. So much so that sometimes Ali (a.s) also spent his bare sustenance on his relatives. Aqil (the Imam's brother) had many children. One day he complained to the Imam that the stipend he received from the public treasury was insufficient for his family, and that Imam give him some more from it. The Imam said, “O Aqil, the public treasury is the share of the Muslims and I have no right to spend anything from it. It is however possible that I give you something for your children from my share.” From that day it was his practice to first dispatch food to Aqil's house. If something remained he ate just enough to survive or he remained hungry.
Imam Hasan’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
Imam Hasan (a.s) used to be kind to relatives since childhood. He had done such favors on all the people of Bani Hashim clan that they were devotees of his excellent manners. It was his practice to inquire about his relatives everyday. He used to consider his half-siblings as full-blood brothers and sisters, and he used to behave with them with the best of affection and regard. Whenever a relative asked him for something, he provided it immediately and shared their sorrow. He used to exhaust all the means for their welfare and success.
Imam Husain’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
Imam's Husain's (a.s) kindness towards his relatives does not have an equal. This was the reason that the whole clan was submissive to his commands. And also that is why, they all accompanied him when he departed for Kerbala. Brothers, nephews and all were ready to lay down their lives at his smallest indication. Finally they all sacrificed themselves on the Imam one after the other.
Imam Zainul Abideen’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
After the tragedy Kerbala, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) was absolutely broken-hearted, and he betook himself to a life of seclusion and spent his days either in Allah's worship or in grief of the incident of Kerbala. He was so much engrossed in it but he still observed the duty of kindness to relatives. He used to regularly comfort and assure the women of Bani Hashim whose relatives were martyred in Kerbala and he used to provide them immediately whatever they required. He never told anyone a word that could have hurt him or her. He never did anything to displease anyone. He used to perform with perfection all that is included among the kind behavior.
Imam Muhammad Baqir’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
Zaid Ibne Ali Ibne Husain and Zaid Ibne Hasan Muthanna were mostly unhappy with the family of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) because he often expressed opposition to their evil plans. Secondly, they also wanted to take over the public trusts controlled by the Imam, so that people may accept their spiritual powers like they acknowledged the position of the Imam. In spite of all this, Imam (a.s) never cut off relations with them. He continued to act in the best manners of kindness to relatives. One day Zaid came to the Imam and told him about his intention of insurgency against the enemies of Ahl ul-Bayt. The Imam opposed it severely. Zaid became very angry; he got up from there at once and also uttered some unbecoming things. Imam (a.s) remained quiet. After some days it was known that Zaid was sick. Imam went to visit him immediately. Zaid was thinking that the Imam would never come to his place. When he saw that Imam (a.s) had arrived he was very pleased and begged the Imam to forgive his past mistakes.
Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
It is narrated in Al-Kafi that Abdullah Mahaz spoke some harsh words to the Imam in the morning. The Imam observed patience and did not reply to any of his statements. When the Imam met him again in the evening, he (the Imam) said with utmost humility, “O Abu Muhammad! Do you know kindness to relatives is a cause for reduction in divine chastisement?” He said, “You always talk of such things that are not accepted by us.” The Imam said, “This statement of mine is testified by the saying of Allah: And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning. (Surah Ra'ad 13:21)
After this Abdullah Mahaz acknowledged his mistake and said, “Now you will not find me as one who breaks off relations.”
In the last moments of his life Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s) summoned all the relatives who gathered around him and he made monetary bequests to each of them. He also willed seventy dinars to his cousin Hasan Aftas. A servant of the Imam said, “You are leaving seventy dinars for Hasan Aftas, while he is the same person who had come to assassinate you with a sword.” The Imam became angry at this and said, “Do you want that I should not accord kindness to relatives and not be included among those who are described in the following words by Allah: And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined…(Ibid.)
Know that! I am making bequest of money to Hasan Aftas because the Messenger of Allah (S) has said: The disobedient child and one who breaks-off relations would not smell the fragrance of Paradise, that reaches upto a distance of 2000 years' travel.”
Imam Musa Kazim’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
Ali Ibne Hamzah says: An Alawi Sayyid was hawking some wares placed in a round tray. I was full of pity at his condition. I came to Imam Musa Kazim (a.s). I had not said anything but the Imam told me, “A Sayyid's son is hawking at such and such place. Give him these eighteen dirhams and tell him on my behalf to invest them in his trade and profit thereby. It is sufficient for his whole life.” I said in surprise, “Master! I had intended to invite your attention to his plight but you have furnished assistance to him before I could say anything.” Imam said, “O Ali Ibne Hamzah! We are not ignorant of the condition of our kinsmen and we consider kindness towards them incumbent.” So I delivered the money to that young man. Taking the money the youth began to weep. When I asked the reason he said, “Why shouldn't I weep when I have received the news of my death in the near future?” I asked him how that was? He said, “One day Imam Musa Kazim (a.s) had told me that when he sends money to me through Ali Ibne Hamzah, I should know that my death is near.”
Imam Reza’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
During the time Imam Reza (a.s) resided in Medina some of his relatives were antagonistic to him, especially due to the fact that the spirituality of the Imam was effective on all and people used to respect him greatly. However, the Imam behaved with all of them in a very kind and affectionate way and also sent them occasional gifts. The Imam's family members tried to restrain him from this. He said, “This is the only difference between Ahl ul-Bayt and others, that we always repay bad behavior with goodness and we are kind to the relatives.”
Imam Muhammad Taqi’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) used to behave very nicely and affectionately with all the people of his clan. Among them were also those who did not accept him as the son of Imam Reza (a.s). Imam (a.s) used to bear all the false allegations patiently, but he never broke off relations with them. He used to share their sorrows and hardships regularly and also fulfilled their needs.
Imam Ali Naqi’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
During the period Imam Ali Naqi (a.s) resided in Samarrah, he used to regularly inquire about the conditions of his kinsmen from people coming from Medina and also sent to them the Khums money he received, and solve their problems. Once some people from Hasani Sadat visited him in Samarrah. Through them the Imam sent some gifts to his relatives.
Imam Hasan Askari’s (a.s) Kindness To Relatives
Like his venerable ancestors, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) also cared greatly for according kindness to relatives. Often he had to undergo many hardships due to his kinsmen. However he bore them happily. He used to say that whatever they may do to him he would continue to be kind towards his relatives.
The Holy Imams’ Benevolence to Slaves
Fortunate were those slaves who lived under the care of Ahl ul-Bayt. It was much better for them than freedom. Though Islam allowed slavery, it laid down such duties on the slave owner that the rights of the slaves were protected. Along with this Islam also prescribed great rewards for emancipation of slaves. It prescribed freeing of slaves as penalties for omitting incumbent and obligatory acts. The kind behavior that the Holy Imams (a.s) accorded to their slaves is such that to find its equal is not possible. The following incidents illustrate how our Holy Imams (a.s) made the slaves and maids happy and how they were always finding excuses to free bondsmen.
Imam Ali’s Kind Behavior To The Slaves
Qambar the slave of Imam Ali (a.s) says: I spent my days under the slavery of Amir'ul-Mu'minin (a.s) in such a way that he used to feed me first then eat himself. First he clothed me then he wore himself. One day the Imam purchased two shirts. He saw that the shirt of Salman Farsi was patched at many places. So he gave one shirt to him and told me to put on the second. I said that the Imam's shirt was also quite worn out, but he said, “You wear it. I will buy another one for myself when it is possible.” He never awoke me for some errand and never made me work when I was sick. He never gave me tasks beyond my strength or capacity. The Imam tried to free me many times but I implored and pleaded the Imam not to do so.
Imam Hasan’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To The Slaves
Imam Hasan (a.s) used to be very affectionate to the slaves. He freed many slaves for rendering ordinary services.
One day the Imam was sleeping. A slave began to fan him. The Imam awoke and freed him.
A slave dropped a bowl of curry and it spilled on the garment of Imam (a.s). He was so terrified that he began to tremble and recite the verse: …and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men; and Allah loves the doers of good (to others). (Surah Aale Imran 3:134)
The Imam forgave his mistake and told him, “I free you for the sake of Allah.”
Imam Husain's (a.s) had a slave who was very obedient. One day the Imam was pleased of his good services and he freed him. The slave began to weep bitterly. The Imam asked the reason. He said, “O son of Allah's Messenger, I do not want to leave you. This slavery of mine is a thousand times better than freedom.” The Imam said, “I have freed you. Now you can live with me happily like a relative.”
One day Imam Husain (a.s) saw a slave feeding a dog from his food. When the Imam asked him the reason he said, “O son of Allah's Messenger. I am a trouble-stricken person, by making this dog happy I expect happiness from Allah in return.” The Imam asked him what his problem was. He said, “I am a slave of a Jew and I want freedom from him.” The Imam was moved at this slave's yearning. He immediately came to the Jew, purchased the slave for 200 gold coins and freed him.
Imam Zainul Abideen’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) was extremely kind and affectionate towards slaves and slave girls. He used to take very less work from them for his personal needs. One day a slave girl began to weep after hearing about the incidents of Kerbala from him. When the Imam saw this devotion of hers, he said, “Go, I have freed you for the sake of Allah.” She said, “O son of Allah's Messenger (S), I will continue to remain in your service. Being at your feet is everlasting happiness for me.”
Tawus Yamani says that he saw Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) surrounded by his slaves and slave girls. He was telling them, “I have forgive your mistakes. You all pray to Allah that He forgives the mistakes of Ali Ibnul Husain.”
Since it is obvious that no sin was committed by the Holy Imam, these pleas for forgiveness of sins were for the expression of his servitude to Allah.
Imam Muhammad Baqir’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) was extremely affectionate towards his bondsmen. The slaves were always yearning that Imam should take their services, but the Imam mostly used to do his own work. He first fed the male and female slaves than ate himself. He gave them better food and himself ate ordinary things. A slightest excuse was sufficient for him to free the slaves. He was never harsh with any of his slaves and never beat anyone of them.
Imam Ja'far As-Sadiq’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
The Imam was very kind upon the slaves and always overlooked their mistakes. Once he had sent a slave on some errand, but when he took a long time to return the Imam went out to search for him and found him sleeping at one place. Instead of awaking him, the Imam began to fan him. When the fellow awoke the Imam told him, “You have the habit of sleeping in the day as well as at night. Allah has made the day for work and night for rest.”
Once a slave of his fell sick. The Imam visited him and found that he was groaning due to a severe headache. “What is the problem?” asked the Imam. He said that he had a terrible headache. The Imam began to press his head. The slave got up abruptly and said, “Son of Allah's Messenger more than the headache it is painful for me that you press my head. I can never accept it.” Another slave was standing there. He tried to press the sick man's head but the Imam said, “Man! Why do you want to deprive me from a great reward?”
Imam Musa Kazim (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
A slave girl of Imam Musa Kazim (a.s) fell sick and her illness was prolonged. Everyone was fed up of her care. But Imam Musa Kazim (a.s) continued to be affectionate to her. Every morning and evening asked her what she felt like eating, and whatever she desired was brought for her. She used to invoke blessings for the Imam. Finally she passed away in that illness. The Imam wept profusely at her funeral and performed her last rites in the same way as he would do for a relative.
Imam Reza’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
Abu Bakr Suli says that his grandmother used to narrate: I and three friends of mine were in the service of Imam Reza (a.s) for many years. The Imam took very less work from us. One day we said to him, “Mamun has sent us to serve you and not to live in comfort.” The Imam said, “It is my service only that you fulfill the obligations of Allah.” The Holy Imam used to teach us the religious rules everyday. Being in the Imam's service I memorized nearly 400 traditions, that now I have forgotten. Most of the time it so happened that the Imam used to fill up a pot of water for ritual ablution (wuzu), kept it besides us and then awoke us in a very very gentle way saying, “This is not the time to sleep, it is time for Allah's remembrance.” We used to be very ashamed of such affection of the Holy Imam. When he was martyred we were sent back to Mamun's house. But in spite of all the facilities available there I felt very lonely and the royal palaces seemed like dark dungeons. I used to remember the Imam (a.s) and weep day and night.
Imam Muhammad Taqi’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
Ummul Fadl the daughter of Mamun had brought some slave girls with her and she used to be very harsh with them and beat them with canes. Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s) used to stop her from such harshness and said, “They are Allah's creatures. If you are not merciful on them, Allah would not be merciful on you.” The words of the Imam had no effect on Ummul Fadl. One day she beat a slave girl in such a bad way that she began to bleed. When the Imam came home and saw her condition he rebuked Ummul Fadl. She was so angry at this, that she went to her father's home. The Imam began to treat and serve the slave girl. He himself washed her wounds and applied ointment. He nursed the slave girl for almost a fortnight till she recovered. Then the Imam said to her, “Now you go to Ummul Fadl.” She said, “I prefer to be killed than see the face of such a heartless mistress.”
Imam Ali Naqi’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
Like his forefathers, Imam Ali Naqi (a.s) also used to be very kind on the slaves. One day he was going somewhere when he saw that a master was beating his slave a lot. The Imam said to him, “Mister, is this weak man your creature?” “Not my creature, he is my slave,” replied the man. The Imam said, “You have not created him, you have only purchased him for some dirhams and you have the right to beat him this much.” The man said, “Yes, that is why I am beating him. He is my disobedient slave.” The Imam said, “If according to you a disobedient slave is eligible for such punishment, for how much punishment would a disobedient creature be eligible? Do you not disobey the commands of Allah? Are you not the same person who lied there drunk? If Allah punishes you for that disobedience, what your condition would be.”
Imam Hasan Askari’s (a.s) Kind Behavior To Slaves
Imam Hasan Askari (a.s) used to be very affectionate to the slaves. One day a slave, who was a Shia of Ali (a.s) came to the Imam and said, “My owner troubles me a lot. I want to be freed from him somehow.” The Imam said, “If he agrees to sell you, I can pay the price.” The slave spoke to his master and persuaded him to sell him for 200 dirhams. The Imam paid the money and purchased him. Then he freed him the same day for the sake of Allah. In the same way the Imam purchased many slaves from other people and released them. The Imam's slave, Mohlib used to say, “I have never seen a master as kind as Imam Hasan Askari (a.s).” The Imam used to be affectionate towards his male and female slaves like a father is to his children.