The Principles of Spirituality in the Family
By: Hojjat al-Islam Hossein Ansaryan
Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: Fear God: [Holy Quran: Maida 5:3]
Many blessings have been bestowed upon man by God to live a pure life, and only God knows the value of these blessings. Some of these blessings left for us are the intellect, the Quran, Prophethood, Imamat, religious scholars and the literature on practical, moral and religious issues. We will briefly discuss the meaning of each of these blessings for the readers' information.
Intellect means the power to understand, to theoretically distinguish between right and wrong and practically understand the difference between good and evil, and profit and loss. This unique blessing is equipped with the outer senses by which it can recognize the appearance of things. It is also equipped with spiritual senses by which it recognizes spiritual affairs such as will, love, hatred, hope and fear. And it uses each accordingly.
In theoretical issues the intellect makes practical decisions. The illuminating activities of the intellect continue as long as it is the outstanding force in man; other forces being subject to it. However, should another force within man overpower the intellect, it becomes weak and man will deviate from the right path going to either extreme. This deviation towards either extreme in our life is the result of lust, anger, or greed overpowering the intellect. Letting loose the instincts and following lust, meeting with the sinful ones and disregarding realities are all factors which weaken and disable the heavenly force and angelic light of the intellect. Once the intellect is disabled, it is either too difficult or impossible to distinguish between right and wrong, and recognize spiritual realities. Then man deserves to be at a loss in this world and suffer retribution in the Hereafter, even if he mischievously gains a lot of financial property, or remains secure from apparent losses. [Adopted from an article in Al-Mizan, v.2, pp.447-450]
The directors of Hell say to those there: Didn't a Prophet come to you to inform you about your present situation? The inhabitants of Hell will say: Yes, but we denied him and God's laws. Then they will tell the directors of Hell: If we had listened to the call of God in the world and the invitation of the Prophet (Pbuh) and had thought about what we were doing in all daily affairs, then today we would not be the inhabitants of Hell: It is impossible to reason if there is no other power holding first place in one's being. If lust and satisfaction of one's lust does all the talking in you, the intellect will not be empowered to guide man. It was asked of Hazrat Sadiq: What is the intellect? He answered: It is something with which God is worshipped and heaven attained! [Bihar al-Anwar, v.1, p.131]
It was asked what did Muaviyah have? He said he had cunningness, wickedness and something which resembled the intellect but was not the intellect. What great blessings are bestowed upon the true servant of God and make him a buyer of Heaven? Amir al-Mumineen Ali (Pbuh) said: The will and high ambition of the intellect manifests itself in man through the abandoning of sins and reforming the apparent and hidden mistakes. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.6, p.419]
The enlightenment of these blessings is so great that Ali (Pbuh) said: Had God, the Almighty not forbade us from doing the unlawful acts, the intellect would forbid us from doing them. [Ibid]
Imam Ali's (Pbuh) opinion is that this spiritual faculty, the intellect, possesses great powers of understanding. In the noble book entitled Ghorar al-Hikam the Commander of the Faithful has been quoted as saying the following about the intellect: The intelligent person is one who can overcome his lust; not trade in the Hereafter for this world; rebel sagainst his carnal desires; obeys the Lord; and is in full command of himself at times of anger. The ethics of the intelligent ones is to have little lust and little ignorance. [Ghorar al-Hikam, Chapter on the intellect]
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: All good is attained via the intellect and one who lacks intelligence lacks religion. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.77, p.158]
In many important traditions we can read that man's prosperity or punishment in the Hereafter depends upon his/her intelligence as it is the intellect which is the measure for responsibility and duties. It is incumbent upon man to use his intellect in order to face reality and recognize the difference between good and evil, and truth and falsehood. It is an unforgivable sin to not use the intellect. As the intellect is the lantern of truth, a divine prophet within and the essential element to distinguish truth from falsehood, and good from evil, it is incumbent upon the head of the household to protect the intellect from the inrush of lust, desires, instincts and corruption. He should use his intelligence and not let his intellect or that of his family become enslaved by carnal desires and excessive lust, since the loss of the intellect's control will pull man down from his rank as a human to the rank of an animal.
Therefore you should not associate with corrupt people, but rather associate with the lofty Islamic principles.
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: The disciples asked Jesus whom they should associate with. Jesus replied: The ones whose encounter shall remind you of God, whose speech shall add to your knowledge and whose actions shall attract you to the Hereafter. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.77, p.147]
The fourth Imam said: Association with good-doers attracts man towards good deeds. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.78, p.141]
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Association with credible, wise men shall direct you from five states to five other states: 1) from doubt to certainty; 2) from hypocrisy to sincerity ;3) from undue excitement to fear ;4) from haughtiness to humbleness ;5) from wickedness to benevolence [Bihar al-Anwar, v.74, p.189]
The Commander of the Faithful said: The gatherings of the evil-doers are not safe from catastrophes. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.2, p.63]
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Avoid associating with the dead. They asked him who are the dead? He replied any rich person whose wealth has caused him to rebel. [Ibid]
Imam Ali (Pbuh) said: Avoid the evil-doers and associate with good people .[Ibid]
Guard yourselves and the family against lust and association with the evil-doers if you want your intellect to rule over you. Two of the widespread evils of today are the corrupt films and videos of the satellite channels. Watching such programs will corrupt the intellect, destroy morality, and wipe out humanity.
The Holy Quran
The Quran is a divine book, being the light of guidance and the cure for the soul of moral evils; a guide towards better life; a remembrance of God; and an interpreter of realities and an organizers of the affairs. It is a source of guidance and a producer of knowledge and wisdom; a cure for hard-heartedness; the straight path; the criteria to distinguish truth from falsehood; the statement of high moral issues and the manifestation of the life of the good and the pure; and God's final say in this world and the Hereafter. Both men and women are equally responsible and duty-bound to this unique divine blessing. This duty is to learn the Quran and acting accordingly in all facets of life.
Indifference to God's book is a great sin. The Quran is God's letter to his servants: The servants are obliged to respond to this letter by being adorned by the right belief through their hearts, enacting out their morals via their souls and turning to good deeds via their bodies. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Seek refuge in the Quran when you are attacked by vices as the darkness of the night attacks you. And repel the attack by enacting out the orders of the Quran in your life and do not let your lives be darkened by the rule of wickedness. The Quran is a mediation whose mediation is accepted at God's threshold and whose complaint is also accepted. Whoever lets the Quran lead him or her shall attain Heaven through its blessing. And whoever is indifferent to God's book is heading towards Hell. The Quran is the reason for and a guide towards the best path. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.92, p.17]
The Commander of the Faithful said: The Quran is the best remembrance, and courage and spiritual enlightenment are attained with it. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.8, pp.67-69]
Imam Sadiq said: Whose does not recognize the truth from the Holy Quran, does not avoid sedition. [Ibid]
Ali (Pbuh) said: In fact, the book of God the Glorious, and the Almighty contains the best stories in the most fluent speech and the most beneficial admonishment. [Ibid]
In fact, the remedy for the worst ailments being unbelief, hypocrisy, and deviation is in the Quran. [Nahj ul-Balaghah, Sermon 176]
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: The Quran is wealth and there is no wealth other than it and there is no poverty after it. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.92, p.19]
Imam Sadiq said: A believer deserves not to die until he learns the Quran and teaches it. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.92, p.189]
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: The best of you is one who learns the Quran and teaches it. Thus, considering these very important traditions, one can more clearly see the heavy responsibility of the head of the household. He must learn the Quran, and provide the means for his family members to learn it. Then they can all act according to it. Their living atmosphere will be cleansed from impurities and be adorned with good deeds and characters. And the house and the family will be a sample of Heaven. It will be a house in which there is no oppression or animosity; one filled with piety and purity; an atmosphere of security and comfort, truth and honesty, righteousness and trust. A house whose members are followers of the Quran will attain mental and intellectual development from the blessings of the Quran. An intellect which follows the Holy Quran is an angelic intellect; it is the essential ingredient for Heaven and the Hereafter, and its profit is the worship of God and the achievement of the eternal Heaven.
The Prophets are guides for men towards the straight path, invitors to the unity of God, and the expression of physical and spiritual reality. They invite us to worship God, and they admonish us not to worship the ungodly. They show men the way to live a good life, to be adorned with virtue and to be cleansed from iniquity. The invitation of the Prophets is inviting us to God. Accepting their invitation will result in the revival of spiritual life. Regarding the Prophethood of the honorable Prophet, Ali (Pbuh) has said: He came to guide the servants of God away from the worship of idols to God's worship, and away from obeying Satan to obeying God. [Nahj ul-Balaghah, Sermon 147]
The Prophet (Pbuh) was appointed to recite the verses of God for the development of the people, the cleansing of their souls from impurities, and for teaching the Quran and wisdom. He uprose to take the people out of darkness, and to help them enter a region of light. He came into the arena of life to command us to do good deeds. Admonish us against evil acts; to allow us to use lawful and clean goods; to forbid evilness; and to lift off the burden of forced cultures; and to open the satanic neckbands. Those who believe in him, respect and honor him, help him and obey His Quran shall prosper.[A Summary of Verses on Prophethood in the Holy Quran]
The Prophets came to bring God's final say so that tomorrow on the Day of Judgment the deviated ones could not say that if they had a Prophet, they would not have been deviated. God the Kind has made the acts, the statements and the morality of the Prophets necessary for all the people. And has made the Prophets a model to follow. Among the behaviors of the Prophets, we can mention the use of perfume, having a happy face, cleanliness, liking women, establishing prayer, uprising for the rights of the believers, kindness and generosity. The Prophets have invited the people to piety, purity, trustworthiness, honesty, bravery, loyalty, righteousness, truth, kindness, mercy and good deeds; and have admonished them against committing any evil acts and having a bad temper. In the Hereafter they are the criteria for action. The condition of the people will be measured based upon their condition. If there is sufficient coordination between them and the Prophets, they will be saved, else they deserve punishment.
In order to complete His blessing, and perfect His religion, God appointed the Commander of the Faithful and the twelve Imams who followed him to their posts. This was done so that the people would stay on the Straight Path of their Prophet by following the Quran and the members of the Prophet’s Household, and never face deviation. Even though the noble Imams themselves suffered from the ungodly government and the deviated people, they never stopped expressing what was right, ordering the people to do good deeds, admonishing them against iniquities, and praying for what was divinely guided to help man's spiritual development. They fully delivered God's religion to the people with their actions, conduct, sayings and martyrdom. On the Day of Judgment the Imams are also the criteria like the Prophets are. If the people's lives are in accordance with theirs, then they shall be saved or else they will be condemned to divine punishment.
Ulama (Religious Scholars)
The Prophets and the Imams are Allah’s authority for the people: Likewise are the jurisprudents, the experts of divine knowledge and those familiar with the traditions and the Holy Quran. It is incumbent upon the people to follow such religious scholars after the Prophets and the Imams. Such obeyance is like following the Imams and the Prophets and a cause for prosperity. The head of the household should allocate some time to make his family familiar with the Quran, the Prophethood, the leadership and the following of the jurisprudents. As this theoretical and practical supplication should cause good in this world and the Hereafter. Disregarding the intellect and separation from the Quran, ignoring the Prophethood, the leadership and the scholars is harmful. The family must help the father in this regard, should thank him for this beneficial program and become reasonably acquainted with divine facts.
If the head of the household is not strong in these areas, then the family members should encourage him to do so. They should ask him to provide the necessary means for this. If he disagrees, they should politely disobey him and, they themselves should try to learn about the Quran. the Prophet, the Immaculate Imams, and the religious scholars so that they may prosper. The head of the household should fill the atmosphere of the house with the recital of the Quran, prayers, supplications, and God's remembrance. Thus, he can combine this world and the Hereafter, and will create a blessed ending for all members of the family.
It is not obligatory for the head of the household to only say his prayers. He is also responsible to gently direct the members of his family by advising and encouraging them.
Enjoin prayer on the people, and be constant therein. We ask thee not to provide sustenance: We provide it for thee. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for Righteousness. [Holy Quran: Ta-Ha: 20:132]
We read in the Quran that one of the attributes of Abraham was that he invited his wife and children to prayer.
It is We Who will inherit the earth, and all beings thereon: to Us will they all be returned. [Holy Quran: Maryam 19:40]
And we also read in the Quran that Abraham requested God that he himself and his progeny establish prayer till the Day of Judgment.
O my Lord! make me one who establishes regular prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring [Holy Quran: Abraham 14:40]
In many traditions the Prophet (Pbuh) has called prayer the apple of his eye. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.77, p.77]
The Sixth Imam stated: There is nothing other than prayer which can be compared to knowledge. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.69, p.206]
Imam Ali said: I instruct you to say your prayers which is the best act and the pillar of religion. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.72, p.209]
The Glorious Quran recognizes the prayer to be what keeps man from evil inwardly and outwardly.
For prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; [Holy Quran: Ankabut: 29:45]
Hazrat Baqir said: The first affair of a human which will be judged on the Day of Judgment is prayer. If his prayers are accepted, the rest of his actions will be accepted.
Negligence of prayers, or quitting to perform this great worship will cause us to lose the possibility of the mediation of the Prophet (Pbuh) on our behalf; It will also be a cause of bankruptcy in the Hereafter; losing the possibility of benefiting from God's Mercy. and never being allowed to enter Heaven.[Bihar al-Anwar, v.83, pp.9-19]
They will say: We were not of those who prayed. [Holy Quran, Muddaththir 74:43]
Do not forget about your prayers and that of your family members, so that on the Day of Judgment you do not have to answer to the complaints against you made by your family members. They may tell God that if we were called to say our prayers, we would have accepted. The fact that our file is void of prayers is at first the fault of our husband and father, then it is our own fault. Since he was indifferent to us, we neglected our prayers. O' God, please take our revenge, damn him and let him suffer double our torture. Children are wonderful imitators. They mimic the states, actions and behavior of adults. If we pray, they pray. If we fast, they fast. If we recite the Quran, and are pleasant, kind and polite, then they follow us in all these respects, and after a while get used to doing so.
It has been stated in a very important tradition that Jesus passed by a grave in which the person who buried there was being tortured. The next year he passed by the same grave. He noticed that the person was no longer being tortured, so he asked God the reason for this. Then a revelation came down to Jesus that the man had a good child who had reconstructed a road and had provided shelter for an orphan. For the good deeds of his offspring, We forgave him. [Vasa'il, Al-i-Bayt Press, v.16. p.338]
Raising good children who are religious and do good deeds is good for this world and beneficial for the Hereafter. Try to benefit from this fact.