The Reasons Cited by Al-Fazl ibn Shazan
Uyun Akhbar ar-Ridha Volume 2
In the end, Al-Fadhl ibn Shathan has mentioned that he has heard and recorded these traditions down one after the other from Ar-Ridha’ (a.s.) in various meetings and has later compiled them together and has authorized Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Qutayba al-Neishaboori’s permission to narrate them on the authority of Ar-Ridha’ (a.s.).
34-1 In the (Arabic) month of Sha’ban of the year 352 A.H. (962 A.D.) Abdul Wahid Muhammad ibn Ubdoos al-Neishaboori al-At’tar - may God be pleased with him - narrated that Abul Hassan Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Qutayba al-Neishaboori quoted the following on the authority of Abu Muhammad Fadhl ibn Shathan al-Neishaboori. Moreover, al-Hakim Abu Muhammad Ja’far ibn Nu’aym ibn Shathan - may God have Mercy upon him - quoted on the authority of his uncle Abi Abdullah Muhammad ibn Shathan, on the authority of Fadhl ibn Shathan: “If someone asks, ‘Let me know if it is permissible for the Wise God to oblige His servants to do something without any reason or meaning.’
He is told, ‘No. This is not permissible since He is Wise and He does not do frivolous or ignorant things.’
And if he asks, ‘Let me know why God has made the people obliged (to do certain things)?’
It is said, ‘For many reasons.’
And if he asks, ‘Let me know if the obligations are known and existing, or they are unknown and non-existent?’
It is said, ‘Yes. They are known and are existent for their people.’
And if he asks, ‘Do you know them or not?’
It is said, ‘There are some which I know of, and there are others which I do not know.’
And if he asks, ‘What is the first obligation?’
It is said, ‘To testify to God, His Messenger and His Proof1, and whatever has come from the Honorable the Exalted God.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are the creatures ordered to testify to God, His Messenger and His Proof, and whatever has come from the Honorable the Exalted God.’
It is said, ‘For many reasons: One of them is that whoever does not testify to the Honorable the Exalted God would not avoid His disobedience, would not avoid committing major sins, and would not fear anyone regarding what his lust demands and enjoy corruption and oppression. Should the people commit these actions and should everyone act out of lust and selfish desires without fearing anyone, the result would be corruption for all the people. Some of them will attack others, rape women, steal goods, consider it fine to shed undue blood and commit adultery, and unrightfully kill others who have not committed any crimes. This would destroy the life of this world and corrupt the future generations. One of the reasons for this is that the Honorable the Exalted God is All-Wise and no one would be wise or described to be wise unless he admonishes against corruption and reprimands oppression. Such acts of admonishing against corruption and ordering to do what is right are not possible except after testifying to the Honorable the Exalted God and the recognition of the One who enjoins good and the One who admonishes. Were the people left without testifying to the Honorable the Exalted God and His recognition, enjoining to do right and admonishing against corruption, would not get established since there was no known enjoiner to do the right and admonished against corruption. We also know that there are some people who commit corruption in hiding away from public sight. Were it not for the sake of testifying to God and fearing Him in private, everyone would engage in lustful deeds in private without any fear of anyone. Knowing that no one is aware of what he does, one would go to the extreme in committing the forbidden deeds and major sins, since what he does is hidden from the people. This would lead to the destruction of all the people. Thus the stability and continuation of the people (generations) would not have been possible unless the people were asked to testify to the existence of the All-Knowing; the All-Aware (God) who knows what is hidden and what is deeply hidden; who enjoins to do right and forbids corruption and from whom nothing could remain hidden so as to prevent whatever form of corruption which they might engage in privately.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it incumbent upon the people to recognize the Messengers (a.s.), testify to them, and swear to obey them?’
It is said, ‘Because man has not been equipped with the necessary powers in his own nature to be able to realize all that is best for him to do. Moreover, the Creator is High Exalted above that which is seen. The people are also weak and unable to recognize Him on the surface. Then a Messenger must be sent to be in between Him and them - an Immaculate one who delivers His Orders and Admonishments to them, to inform them about what would benefit them and what would fend off their losses. If it was not incumbent upon the people to get to recognize and obey Him, there would be no benefit in sending them any Messengers, and doing that would not have fulfilled any of their needs. It would even be that dispatching Messengers to them would be of no use to them. This is not amongst the characteristics of an All-Wise One who has created everything with a perfect order.’
And if he asks, ‘Why did He establish some to be in charge of affairs and ordered us to obey them?’
It is said, ‘For many reasons. One of them is for the people to know that there are some known limits and they are ordered not to transgress beyond these limits so that they will not become corrupt. This would not be implemented unless a trustworthy man is appointed to prevent them from transgressing and getting involved in what has been prohibited for them. Were this not the case, no one would abandon what fulfilled his lustful desires and brought him some gains - even if it corrupted others. Therefore, God appointed someone to be in charge of their (the people’s) affairs to carry out the Divine Decrees and Divine Chastisements amongst them and prevent them from getting corrupt.
Another reason is that we know of no groups or nations who have survived living without someone in charge of them or leading them regarding their religious and worldly affairs. Thus it would not be deemed proper according to the wisdom of the All-Wise (God) to leave the people without one in charge of their affairs, while He knows that there is no other choice for them and they would not sustain without one. The people would fight their enemies, distribute national income, establish congregations and congregational prayers, and protect the oppressed from the oppressors under his (the leader’s) Divine Leadership.
Another reason is that if He does not establish a trustworthy custodian for them, their nation would be totally destroyed, their religion would be lost, their traditions and decrees would change: innovators would add things to them and atheists would subtract things from them and make them dubious for the Muslims. We have found the oppressed and the needy to be imperfect and narrow-minded. Moreover, they have various levels of intellectual abilities, desires and varying opinions. Thus as we said before, they would all get corrupted if there was no one appointed to be in charge of their affairs to safeguard what the Messenger (a.s.) has brought to them from Him. Then the Divine Decrees, the traditions, the foundations of the religion and faith would all change. This would ultimately result in the corruption of all the people.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it not permissible for the existence of two or more Divine Leaders at the same time on the Earth?’
It is said, ‘For several reasons. One of them is that one leader would not have any conflicting actions or plans. However, if there were two, then their actions and plans would not conform with each other and they would not have the same opinion as so far we have not seen any two people who are in charge of an affair and not have different views on things, and different demands. Therefore, if there were two Divine Leaders with different wills, intentions and plans and it was obligatory to follow both of them, and the obedience of one was not superior to the obedience of the other, then there would certainly be differences among the people, and fighting and corruption would ensue. This would be because no one could obey one without disobeying the other. Then all the people of the Earth would be disobedient, and they would not have a path that would lead them towards obedience and faith. This problem would be rooted in their Creator who Himself has opened up the door of discord, fighting and corruption for them by ordering them to obey two leaders with opposite views.
The other reason is that if there were two Divine Leaders, the people who are enemies of each other would each go to one side as they pleased and no one’s ruling over the other would be effective. This is so since they do not accept his ruling, and do not consider themselves obliged to obey him. They would not consider anyone more deserving than the other to rule. Thus all the Rights, Decrees and Divine Punishments would be nullified.
Another reason is that neither of these two Proofs (of God or Leaders) would be superior to the other in speaking out, issuing decrees, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. And in these conditions they would both have to speak out. Neither one of them would deserve to surpass the other one in any issue, since they both have an equal rank in their religious leadership position. If one of them should remain silent, the other one must also remain silent. And if they both remain silent, again Rights, Decrees and Divine Punishments would be nullified. Then it would be as if the people do not have any Divine Leaders at all.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it not permissible for the Divine Leader to be from a family different from that of the Messenger of God?’
It is said, ‘For several reasons. One of them is that there should be a sign to clearly indicate the Divine Leader and distinguish him from others, since it is obligatory to obey him. That sign is his well-known ties of kinship (with the Prophet Muhammad (S)) and his clear appointment so that the people can distinguish him from others, and be clearly guided towards him.
Another reason is that should the Divine Leader be one who is from a family different from that of the Messenger of God, then one who is not from the family of the Prophet (S) would become nobler than those from the family of the Prophet (S). In this way, the offspring of the Prophet (S) would become subject to the offspring of the Prophet’s (a.s.) enemies such as Abi Jahl or Ibn Abi Ma’eet: since they believed that if they have faith the Divine Leadership could be transferred from the Prophet’s (a.s.) offspring to the offspring of the enemies. Then this would result in the offspring of the Prophet (S) to be the subject and obedient ones, while the offspring of the enemies of God and His Messenger (a.s.) be the ones to be followed and obeyed. However, the Messenger (a.s.) is much nobler than others to be in charge, and he (a.s.) is the one who most deserves to be obeyed.
Another reason is that once the people testify to the Prophethood of His Messenger (a.s.) and obey him, no one would hesitate to follow his offspring and obey them. This would not be hard for anyone. However, if the Divine Leader be one who is not from the Household of the Messenger of God (a.s.), everyone would consider himself to be more deserving for this position than others. Thus they would become so haughty that they would not obey him since they consider him to be less deserving of leadership than they themselves. Then this would cause corruption, discord and disunion amongst them.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it incumbent on the people to bear witness and know that there is One and Only One God?’
It is said, ‘For several reasons. One of them is that they would imagine there were two or more planners of the affairs (of the universe), if it was not incumbent upon them to do so. If this was allowed, then they could not recognize their true Creator from the others since each person could not tell which of the two or more is the Creator and might obey one who is not really his Creator. No one could tell which one has created him, which one he must obey and whose admonishments he must listen to since he could not recognize the true One who issues orders and admonishes us against others.
Another reason is that were it possible for there to be two gods, then neither one was more deserving than the other one to be worshipped and obeyed. The permission to obey each one of them implied the permission to obey the partner. This would then imply the permission not to obey God. The permission not to obey God would imply disbelief in God; all His Books and Messengers; proof of all that is wrong; abandoning all that is right; allowing all that is forbidden; forbidding all that is allowed; partaking in all sins; abandoning all forms of obedience; authorizing all forms of corruption and abolishing all rights.’
Another reason is that were it possible for more than one god to be, then this would allow Satan to declare himself to be the other god to oppose the Sublime God in all His Decrees and invite the people towards himself. This would result in greater disbelief and more serious dissimulation.
And if he asks: ‘Why is it incumbent on the people to bear witness to God and that there is nothing like Him?’
It is said, ‘For several reasons. One of them is that they do not go after others and worship and obey none other than Him, so that the orders of their Lord and Creator and Sustainer are not dubious for them.
Another reason is that should they not recognize that there is nothing like unto Him they might not realize the truth and establish these idols as their lord and creator - the idols which their forefathers have taken as their lords such as the sun, the moon, and the fire. Was it permissible that this issue be doubtful for them it would lead into corruption, abandoning all forms of obedience, committing all forms of sins according to the degree to which they were informed about its being allowed or admonished against by their lord.
Another reason is that if it was not incumbent upon the people to realize that there is nothing like unto Him, that would allow them to think that He is subject to whatever the creatures are subject to - things such as disability, ignorance, change, destruction, termination, falsehood and oppression. There would be no hopes for the survival of, trust in the justness of, acceptability of the words, the decrees, the admonishments, the promises, the threats, the rewards or the chastisements of whoever has such traits. This would result in the corruption of the people and the abolition of His Lordship.’
And if he asks, ‘Why has the Sublime God ordered the servants and admonished them?’
It is said, ‘Since their survival and the improvements in their affairs depends upon His ordering, admonishing, preventing them from corruption and unlawful seizure (of other people’s property.’
And if he asks, ‘Why has He ordered the people to worship?’
It is said, ‘So that they do not forget His remembrance, do not abandon His discipline, do not take His Orders and Admonishments lightly, since their peace and survival depends upon this. Were they left without any orders to worship and some time passed by, then their hearts would harden.’
And if he asks, ‘Why has He ordered the people to pray?’
It is said, ‘Since praying is testifying to His Lordship. This is good for everyone since it implies abandoning other worshipped ones; humbly standing in front of the Omnipotent; subordination; subservience; obedience; confessing (to God’s Mastery); seeking the forgiveness of past sins. Praying also implies placing one’s face on the ground everyday so that one always remembers God; being submissive; really humble; eagerly wanting to improve one’s religious and worldly affairs; and despising corruption. Praying is done every day and night so that the servant does not forget his Planner and Creator; does not become ungrateful and rebellious; is always obedient to his Creator; stands in front of his Lord; is prevented from committing sins; and protects and guards himself against various forms of corruption.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that we have been ordered to perform the minor ritual ablution (wudu) and then start to worship?’
It is said, ‘So that the servant is clean when he stands in front of the Omnipotent, and obeys His Orders when he is supplicating to Him. It is also done to be cleansed of any impurities and contaminations. Performing one’s ablutions will also eliminate indolence and slumber, and strengthen the heart in front of the Omnipotent.
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that it is incumbent upon one to wash the face, hands, head and feet?
It is said, ‘That is because when the servant stands in front of the Omnipotent, the parts of the body that must be washed by means of performance one’s ablutions are visible. That is because one expresses his humbleness and prostrates using his face; he implores God by using his hands, and fears God by means of them and uses them to sincerely turn towards the worship of God. One uses his head first when he bows down and prostrates. And with his feet he stands up and sits down.
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that it has become incumbent upon one to wash the face and the hands, and only wipe the head and the feet (with one’s moist hand), but it has not become incumbent upon one to wash them all or wipe them all?’
It is said, ‘For several reasons. One of them is that the greatest form of worship is bowing down and prostrating. Bowing down and prostrating are both performed using the face and the hands, but not the head and the feet. Another reason is that people are not always ready to wash their heads and feet. This would be difficult for them to do in cold weather, when they are on a journey, when they are ill, and at certain times of the night and day. However, it is easier to wash the face and the hands than wipe the head and the feet. That is why the difficulty of the obligatory deeds are set up for the weakest of the healthy people. All the people - whether they are strong or weak - are obliged to perform them. Another reason is that the head and the feet are not always visible like the face and the hands as they are the places for turbans, shoes and other similar headwear or footwear items.
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that only what leaves from the two sides2 and sleeping, but not anything else, voids the minor ritual ablution?’
It is said, ‘The two sides are the pathways to release the human wastes. There are no other paths for man to let out waste from his body. So, they are ordered to clean themselves when they are exposed to such impurity.
And regarding sleeping, when one falls asleep, he gets relaxed and his organs open up. Most of what leaves his body is gas. For that reason, it becomes incumbent upon him to perform the minor ritual ablution.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that we have not been ordered to perform the major ritual ablution to cleanse us from these impurities as we have been in case of major ritual impurity?’
It is said, ‘That is because the minor ritual impurities are continuous, and it is not possible for the people to always perform major ritual ablutions for them. God does not oblige anyone to do what is beyond his ability. However, the major ritual impurity is not continuous. It is due to the overcoming of lust. One can decide to procrastinate lust or expedite it for three days, less or more. However, the same does not hold for going to the W.C.”
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that we have been ordered to perform the major ritual ablution for major ritual impurity and not ordered to perform the major ritual ablution for defecation while it is filthier than the major ritual impurity?’
It is said, ‘Since the major ritual impurity leaves all of man’s self, that is it is the things that leave all the body, while in defecation it is not what is excreted out of all of the body. It is the food that enters from one side and the wastes which leave from the other side.’
And if he asks, ‘Let me know why we have been ordered to recite the ‘Azan?’
It is said, ‘For many reasons. One of them is for it to serve as a reminder for those who forget, as an admonishment for those who neglect, as a time-marker for those who do not know the time so that they get busy doing the prayer. It is also to serve as a caller of the people to worship the Creator, to encourage them to bear witness to the Unity in it, to manifest the faith and propagate Islam. The ‘Azan is a call to those who have forgotten. The reason the caller of the ‘Azan (athan) is called ‘mo’athin is that he calls to the prayer.’
And if he asks, ‘Why does it start with saying the ‘Takbir (‘God is the Greatest!’) before saying the ‘Tahlil (‘There is no god but God.’)
It is said, ‘It is because He willed that His Name be mentioned first and His Name God the Sublime is said first in saying ‘God is the Greatest!’ However, the Name of God is the last word in ‘There is no god but God!’’
And if he asks, ‘Why is every phrase in the ‘Azan’ repeated twice?
It is said, ‘They are repeated so that they are emphasized for those who hear them. If they neglect the first one, they can notice it the second time. The other reason is that since the prayer is said in two units, the phrases in the ‘Azan are also repeated.’
And if he asks: ‘Why is the ‘Takbir repeated four times at the beginning of the ‘Azan?’
It is said, ‘Since the ‘Azan begins when no one is paying any attention and there is nothing said before it to attract the attention of the listeners, it is done in order to draw the attention of the listeners to what will follow in the ‘Azan.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there the two testimonies3 after the ‘Takbir.’
It is said, ‘Since the principal part of faith is Unity and testifying to the Unity of the Honorable the Exalted God. The second part of faith is testifying to the Prophethood of His Messenger. Obeying the two of them and recognizing the two of them equals faith. The principal part of faith is testifying. Thus the two testimonies are in the ‘Azan as there are two testimonies required in other legal affairs. Therefore, once one testifies to the Unity of the Sublime God and testifies to the Prophethood of the Prophet, he has indeed testified to all aspects of faith since the main part of faith is testifying to God and His Messenger.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is there an invitation to praying after the two testimonies?’
It is said, ‘Since basically the ‘Azan is said where it is meant to pray and is a call to prayer. Thus the call to prayer is in the middle of the ‘Azan with four phrases before it including two ‘Takbir’s plus two testimonies. Then four phrases come after it including two calls to prosperity urging us to devotion and praying followed by two calls encouraging us to do good deeds. Then the caller says two ‘Takbir’s and two ‘Tahlil’s completes the four last phrases as he did the first four phrases. He then finishes off by mentioning God just as he started out by mentioning the name of the Sublime God.’
And if he asks, ‘Why did He establish saying ‘There is no god but God!’ at the end and did not establish saying ‘God is the Greatest!’ at the end as He did in the beginning of it?’
It is said, ‘Because in saying There is no god but God! God’s Name comes last, and the Sublime God likes that speech ends in His Name as it opens in His Name.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is there not ‘Tasbih (a.s.aying subhanallah; glory be to God) or ‘Tahmid (a.s.aying alhamdu lillah; Praise be to God) instead of ‘Tahlil (There is no god but God) which both also end in the Name of God?’
It is said, ‘Since ‘Tahlil is testifying to the Unity of the Sublime God, and uprooting all deities other than God. It is the foundation of faith and is greater than ‘Tasbih or ‘Tahmid.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is there a ‘Takbir at the beginning of the prayer and in each bowing down and prostrating?’ It is said, ‘It is for the same reason that we have mentioned about saying it in the ‘Azan.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there some supplications said in the first unit of the prayer before reciting the (required) verse (of the Holy Qur’an), but the ‘Qunut (a.s.upplicating during the prayer) is said after reciting the (required) verse (of the Holy Qur’an) in the second unit of the prayer?’
It is said, ‘He dearly loved that His servants start their standing up for their Lord and worshipping Him by reciting His praises, sanctifying Him, being inclined towards Him and being humble to Him, and end it all in a similar fashion. Moreover, this is so that there is some possibility for him to extend his prayer in the ‘Qunut in congregational prayers, so that he can become synchronized with others in the other units and his unit of prayer does not fall out of synchronism with the congregation’s prayer.’
And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to recite the Qur’an in our prayers?’
It is said, ‘It is so that the Qur’an is not put aside and abandoned; and it be memorized and stay in the hearts not getting forgotten or destroyed.’
And if he asks, ‘Why should we start each prayer recitation by reciting the Opening Chapter (‘Fatiha) and not any of the other (Qur’anic) chapters?’
It is said, ‘This is because nowhere else in the Qur’an is there such a vast amount of good words and wisdom compiled together as there is in the Opening Chapter (‘Fatiha). That is when the Sublime God says, ‘Praise be to Allah’4 this would constitute the fulfillment of what the Sublime God has made incumbent upon His creatures in terms of expressing their gratitude to Him for whatever good He has granted His servants success in achieving. Saying ‘the Lord of the Two Worlds’ constitutes exalting and praising Him, testifying to Him that He is the Creator, the Owner and no one else is.
Saying ‘The Most Gracious, Most Merciful’5 constitutes seeking the pleasure of God and mentioning His Favours and Blessings for all His creatures.
Saying ‘The Master of the Day of Judgment’6 constitutes testifying to being resurrected, returning, reckoning and being punished. It also means considering the Dominion of the Hereafter for Him as the Dominion of this world is His.
Saying ‘Thee do we worship’7 constitutes being inclined towards Him and seeking proximity to the Honorable the Exalted God, sincerity of actions for Him and no one else.
Saying ‘and Thine aid we seek’8 constitutes seeking an increase in the success granted by Him, an increase in worshipping Him, the continuation of the blessings God has granted and His Assistance.
Saying ‘and Show us the straight way’9 constitutes seeking His Guidance towards His Discipline, grabbing onto His Rope, asking Him for an increase of one’s recognition of his Lord, His Glory, His Greatness and His Almightiness.
Saying ‘The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace’10 constitutes an emphasis on asking for and being inclined towards Him. It also constitutes mentioning what He has granted and His Blessings which He has given to His friends. It also constitutes asking the same things for oneself.
Saying ‘those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray’11 constitutes seeking refuge in Him from becoming one of the enemies or unbelievers; or becoming one who underestimates Him, what He enjoins to be done and what He admonishes against.
Saying ‘…and who go not astray’12 constitutes a form of grabbing onto Him so as not to be amongst those who have gone astray - those who have strayed away from His Path without recognition and thinking that they were doing good deeds.
Therefore, (the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an) is a valuable collection of goodness and wisdom regarding the affairs of the Hereafter as well as this world in such a way that it does not exist anywhere else.
And if he asks, ‘Why did He establish ‘Tasbih in the bowing down and prostration?’
It is said, ‘It is for several reasons. One of them is that the servant sanctifies God by being subordinate to Him; submits to Him; worships Him; fears Him; is humble to Him; and seeks proximity to his Lord. Another reason is that the servant be the one to praise, glorify, obey, exalt and thank his Creator and Sustainer, so that his mind is not misguided and his aspirations take him to others than God.’
And if he asks, ‘Why did He establish the basic prayer to be two units, and one unit is added to some of the prayers and two units is added to some of the other prayers, and no units have been added to other prayers?’
It is said, ‘It is because the basic prayer is just one unit, since the basic number is one. If it was less than one, it would not constitute a prayer. The Honorable the Exalted God knew that the servants would not always perform one unit of prayer perfectly, completely and with full attention. Therefore, He added another unit of prayer to it to complete the possible deficiencies one may have in the performance of one unit of prayer with saying two units of prayer. Hence, the Honorable, the Exalted God made the basic two-unit prayer obligatory. Then God’s Messenger (a.s.) knew that the servants would not totally and perfectly perform these two units which they are ordered to perform. Therefore, he added another two units to the noon, afternoon and night prayers to compensate for any deficiencies one may have in saying the first two units. Then he knew that the evening prayer is to be said when most of the people are busy working. Then they stop work to go home to break their fast, eat and drink, make ablutions, and prepare to go to sleep. Thus he added only one unit to the evening prayer to make it easier on them. He left the Morning Prayer as it was in order for the number of daily prayer units said to be an odd number. This was also because people are busier in the morning attending to their needs. Moreover, their hearts are not so involved with other thoughts due to the lack of doing business then, and are not tired. Thus man would be more attentive to his prayer in the morning in comparison to his other prayers, since his mind is free of daily activities.”
And if he asks, ‘Why is it established to say ‘God is the Greatest!’ seven times at the beginning of the prayer?”
It is said, ‘It is so because there are seven instances of saying ‘God is the Greatest!’ in the first unit - that is the basic prayer which consists of: one to start, one for bowing down, two for prostration, another one when bowing down and another two for the second prostration. That is why if a man says all the seven instances of ‘God is the Greatest!’ in the beginning of his prayer, he has said all the seven; and should he mistakenly forget to say anyone of them, there would be no insufficiencies in his prayer.
And if he asks, ‘Why is there one bowing down and two prostrations in each unit?”
It is said, ‘Bowing down is a part of the prayer said while standing up, and prostration is the part of prayer said while sitting down. Prayer said while sitting down counts as half of the prayer said while standing up. That is why prostration is doubled so as to make it weigh the same as the bowing down, so that there is no difference between them since prayer is indeed made up of the bowing down and the prostration.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is the call as a witness (tashahhud) established after the bowing down and the prostration?”
It is said, ‘It is because calling as a witness has been decreed before the bowing down and prostration in the ‘Azan, the supplications and the recitations. Therefore, He ordered that calling as a witness, praising and supplications also be said after them.’
And if he asks, ‘Why did He establish the saying of ‘Salaam13 as the termination of the prayer, and did not set saying ‘God is the Greatest!’ or ‘Glory be to God!’ or something else instead to end the prayer?”
It is said, ‘So that it be coordinated with the entrance into the prayer. After starting the prayers, it is forbidden to talk to the creatures, and one should only attend to the Creator. Therefore, He terminates the parayers with the creature’s word and turns one’s attention over to them as people start speaking to each other by saying ‘Salaam.”
And if he asks, ‘why is there reciting the Qur’anic Chapters in the first two units and saying the glorifications in the last two units of the prayer?’
It is said, ‘This is in order to make a clear distinction between what the Honorable the Exalted God made incumbent Himself and what His Messenger (a.s.) made incumbent upon the believers (as the last two units of the prayer were added by the Prophet (S)).’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there congregational prayers?’
It is said, ‘It is so that sincerity, the belief in Unity, Islam and the worship of God are publicly seen, since this would serve as a proof of the One the Honorable the Exalted God for the people of the East and the West. It will also serve as a means by which the hypocrites and those who underestimate the prayer would at least have to publicly perform what they claim to adhere to. It will also serve as a means for the Muslims to testify to the adherence of their fellow Muslim brethren to Islam. There are also other certain benefits in congregational prayers such as encouragement to do good deeds and advising to piety, and admonishing against doing many of the acts of disobedience to the Honorable the Exalted God.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are some prayers to be said in a loud voice while others are not?’
It is said, ‘The prayers that are to be said in a loud voice are those that are performed in the darkness of the night. They should be said in a loud voice so that if anyone is passing by he can tell that a congregational prayer is being held there and he can attend it if he wishes to do so. If he does not see the group of people, at least he can hear them and get informed through hearing. Regarding the prayers that are performed in the daytime, a passer-by can see the people praying and there is no need for him to be able to hear them pray.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are the prayers established for these certain times, not sooner or later?”
It is said, ‘Since these times are known by everyone on the Earth. Therefore, the ignorant and the knowledgeable ones knew these four times: Sunset is well-known and clear, thus the evening prayer is made incumbent at that time. The disappearance of the evening twilight is well-known and clear, thus the night prayer is made incumbent at that time. Sunrise is well-known and clear, thus the morning prayer is made incumbent at that time. The sun’s noon position is well-known and clear, that is why the noon prayer is incumbent at that time. There is no clearly defined time for the afternoon prayer as there is for the other prayers. Its time has been established to be after finishing the noon prayer.
Another reason is that the Honorable the Exalted God likes that the people start doing everything by obeying and worshipping Him. That is why He has ordered them to worship Him at the beginning of the day and then engage in what they themselves like to do to improve their worldly affairs. Thus He made it incumbent upon them to say the morning prayer.
When midday comes and the people stop working, they take off their clothes, relax, eat and rest. God has ordered them to start this by mentioning and worshipping Him first and has thus made it incumbent upon them to say the noon prayers first and then do the other things that they like to do. Once they want to go out to do what they like, God has made it incumbent upon them to say the afternoon prayers and then go after what improves their worldly affairs. And once the night comes, they quit work and return home, they must begin with the worship of their Lord. Thus God has made it incumbent upon them to say the evening prayer. Once it is time to go to sleep and they are relieved of their daily affairs, God likes them to first attend to His worship and obedience and then pursue their own affairs. Thus they should start each section of the day with performing His obedience and worship. Therefore, God has made it incumbent upon them to do the night prayer. Once they do so they will not forget Him, become neglectful of Him, their hearts will not get hard, and their inclination to God will not decrease.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is there not a clearly defined time for the afternoon prayer like the other prayers? Why is it that it is done between the noon and the evening prayers and not between the night and the morning prayers, or between the morning and the noon prayers?’
It is said, ‘Since no time is easier and more convenient than this time for both the weak and the powerful people. All the people attend to their work from the beginning of the day: such as doing business; making deals; going after their necessities; and opening their shops. Thus God did not want to hinder them from seeking their sustenance and improving their worldly life.
All the people cannot get up at night. They do not even understand what waking up at night is. If it be made obligatory that they will wake up to do it even if it were in the middle of the night - this is not very feasible for them to do. Thus God has facilitated it for them and has not set the prayer for the hardest times to say as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘…Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties…’14’
And if he asks, ‘What are the reasons for raising the hands when saying ‘Takbir?’
It is said, ‘The reason for raising the hands when saying ‘Takbir is that this act involves a certain degree of invocation and supplication. The Honorable the Exalted God likes His servant to be invoking and supplicating to Him at the time of remembering Him. Thus by raising the hands, one becomes more attentive to and more thoughtful of what he intends to say and what he says.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are the recommendable prayers thirty-four units?’
It is said, ‘Since the obligatory prayers are seventeen units. The recommendable prayers have been established to be double that amount to perfect the obligatory ones.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are the recommendable prayers set for various times and not for a fixed given time?’
It is said, ‘Since the best of the times are three: dawn, noon and then evening. God likes that the people pray to Him at these three times. Also, if the prayers are spread around at different times rather than all being set for a fixed given time, they are easier to perform for all the people.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that the Friday prayer is only two units if said with the prayer leader, but it is four units if it is not said with a prayer leader?’
It is said, ‘For several reasons. One of them being that the people come from far distances to say the congregational prayers. The Honorable the Exalted God likes to give them a discount, and make it easier for them considering the distance that they have covered. Another reason is that the prayer leader keeps them there to deliver the sermon, and they have to wait for the prayer. In fact, whoever is waiting to pray it is as if he is praying, and this is considered to be a perfect prayer by itself. Another reason is that saying the prayer with a prayer leader is more complete due to the prayer leader’s knowledge, jurisprudence, justness, and nobility.’ And if he asks, ‘Why has it been established to deliver sermons?’
It is said, ‘Since on Fridays the people gather together. Delivering sermons is a means by which the prayer leader can advise the people and encourage them to obey God. He may admonish them against committing sins, inform them about what would improve their religious and worldly affairs, inform them about the various issues and the conditions which might lead to their benefit or loss.’
And if he asks: ‘Why have two sermons been designated (for the congregational prayer)?’
It is said, ‘So that there is one sermon in which to glorify, praise and sanctify the Honorable the Exalted God, and there is another one in which they attend to the needs of the people; admonish the people against committing sins and violating the laws; supplicate (to God); express what they wish to teach the people; and advise and admonish the people regarding what would lead to improvements or corruption.’
And if he asks, ‘Why has it been established that the Friday sermons be delivered before the prayers, but be delivered after the prayers on holidays?’
It is said, ‘Since Friday prayers are to be held every week of the month and every month of the year. Also since it is said that often the people might leave the prayer after it is said, if the sermons were to be delivered after saying the prayers. Once the people say the prayers they would disperse and not wait for the sermon, and most or all of them might not stay for the sermon. Therefore, the sermon is to be delivered before the prayers, so that the people do not disperse or leave when the sermons are delivered. However, there are only two ‘Eid prayers each year which are much more magnificent than the Friday prayers, and many more people attend the ‘Eid prayers, since more of them are interested in attending them. Even if some people decide to leave after saying the prayers, most of the people still remain. The sermon is also not repeated, so it will not be so boring that the people ignore it.’
The author of this book (a.s.heikh Sadooq) - may God have Mercy upon him - said, ‘This is how this tradition has been narrated. However, the sermons in both the Friday prayers and the ‘Eid (holiday) prayers are delivered after the prayer, since they are considered as the two final units of the prayers. The first one who said the sermons before the prayers was Uthman ibn Affan, since the people detested him for his wrongdoings. They did not stay after the prayers to listen to his sermons and thought to themselves that his sermons were of no use, since he had done whatever he wanted to do. Therefore, he delivered the two sermons before the prayers, so that at least the people would wait for the prayer and not disperse.’15
And if he asks, ‘Why is it that attending the Friday prayers is made incumbent upon those who live at a distance of at most two ‘Farsakhs away from where the prayers are held and no more?’
It is said, ‘The distance for which the prayers will be shortened, if traveled back and forth is eight ‘Farsakhs16, that is four ‘Farsakhs to go and four ‘Farsakhs to return. Attending the Friday prayers is made incumbent upon the people who live at most half that distance away. Thus, the distance traveled is not as much as would result in the shortening of the prayers. Rather it is half as much as once covered by someone, he would be considered a traveler.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are four units of prayers added to the recommendable prayers on Fridays?’
It is said, ‘It is to honor this day and make a distinction between it and other days.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are the prayers shortened when we are on a journey?’
It is said, ‘Since the obligatory prayers were ten units to start with and the other seven units were added to them later. Therefore, God deleted the additional seven units while we are on a journey due to the hardships of traveling and the efforts we must exert in terms of going and stopping at the way-stations in the performance of our own affairs. This shortening of the prayers is a form of Mercy from God and it is due to His Kindness - except for the evening prayers which cannot be shortened, since they are shortened to begin with.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is shortening the prayers valid after you travel eight ‘Farsakhs back and forth - no more and no less?’
It is said, ‘Since eight ‘Farsakhs is the distance which all people can travel back and forth in a single day - whether they walk, ride, are in a convoy or a caravan, or carry loads. That is why the extent of distance for shortening the prayers has been established to be the distance of one-day’s travel back and forth.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is shortening the prayers made incumbent for a distance of one day’s travel back and forth and no more?’
It is said, ‘If a limit of a distance for one day’s travel was not established for shortening the prayers, then even the distance of one year’s travel would not have been established. This is because days come one after another and they are all similar to each other. If it were not established for this day, it would not have been established for any other day since all the other days are similar to each other and there is no differences between them.’
And if he asks, ‘There are some differences in the speed of traveling. Why was the distance of eight ‘Farsakhs established as the distance of one day’s traveling back and forth?’
It is said, ‘Since eight ‘Farsakhs is the distance which camels and the caravans usually travel in one day, and thus it is the distance which the people riding camels and the caravans can travel in one day.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are the recommendable prayers (nafila) for the daytime abandoned, but the recommendable prayers for the night still valid?’
It is said, ‘The recommendable prayers for any of the prayers which are not shortened on a journey are still said. That is why the recommendable prayer for the evening prayer which must be said in the same way whether we are at home or on a journey, are still said. Also all the recommendable prayers after the evening prayer and the Morning Prayer which is not shortened, and the recommendable prayers before it are still said.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are the recommendable prayers for the night prayer which is shortened on a journey still said?’
It is said, ‘These two units are not included amongst the fifty units of the obligatory and recommendable prayers. Rather they have been added to the fifty units, so that for each unit of obligatory prayer there are two units of recommendable prayers.’ And if he asks, ‘Why are those on a journey and the ill permitted to perform their night prayers at the nightfall?’
It is said, ‘Since a traveler has some things to take care of and the ill have some weaknesses requiring them to rest at night. Therefore, they have been permitted to say their night prayers at the nightfall, so that the ill can rest and the traveler can attend to the affairs related to his journey.’
And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to say prayers for the dead?’
It is said, ‘In order to intercede on their behalf and to ask God’s forgiveness for them, since there is no other time than just after death in which the passed-away person is in need of intercession and asking God to forgive him.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there five ‘Takbirs in the prayer for the dead, not four or six?’
It is said, ‘There is one for each of the five daily prayers.’
And if he asks: ‘Why is there no bowing down or prostration in the prayer for the dead?’
It is said, ‘Since this prayer is meant as an intercession for him. What this servant has left behind is of no use to him now and he needs what he has sent ahead.’
And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to perform the burial ceremonial bath for the dead?’
It is said, ‘Since when someone dies, filth, calamities and harm overcomes the corpse. Now that he is going to meet the pure ones from the angels who will accompany him and touch him, he likes to be clean and pure himself and be taken towards the Honorable the Exalted God in a clean state. Whoever dies, the sperm with which he was at first created will be discharged from his body and he will be in a state of major ritual impurity. Thus he must have the major ritual ablution performed for him.’
And if he asks, ‘Why we have been ordered to shroud the corpse?’
It is said, ‘So that he meets his Lord - the Honorable the Exalted - with a clean corpse, his private parts are not seen by those who carry and bury him, the people cannot see his state and the ugliness of the sight. The change of odor when looking at bodies infected with some diseases a lot would make one hard-hearted due to the decay and defects in them. The corpse is shrouded so that it looks good to the on-lookers and his friends do not see his decayed naked body which would result in detesting him. Also seeing the corpse would make them forget him, abandon his friendship, not make an effort to protect what he has left behind, not act upon his will as well as abandon what he has willed whether it be incumbent or recommendable.’
And if he asks, ‘Why we have been ordered to bury him?”
It is said, ‘So that the decay of his corpse, the ugly scene and the bad smell is not experienced by the people. Also its smell should not bother the living, and its scars, injuries and decay are hidden from the sight of his friends and enemies, so as not to please his enemies or sadden his friends.”
And if he asks, ‘Why has the one performing the major ritual ablution for the dead been ordered to perform the major ablution himself?”
It is said, ‘It is because he must be cleansed of the water splashed on him from the corpse, since once the spirit leaves the body of the dead, many injuries, scars and causes of infection remain on the corpse.”
And if he asks, ‘Why then is it not obligatory to perform the major ritual ablution for touching the dead carcasses of other beings than men - such as birds, grazing or ravenous animals, and similar creatures?
It is said, ‘It is because they have either feathers, wool, hair or fluff which do not perish and remain clean. It makes no difference whether you touch them when the animal is dead or alive.’
And if he asks: ‘Why is it allowed to say the prayer for the dead without making ablutions?’
It is said, ‘It is because this prayer consists of no bowing down or prostration and is merely supplications and requesting. It is permitted to supplicate to God and ask Him (for something) in any condition. Making ablutions is obligatory for prayers in which there is bowing down and prostration.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it allowed to say the funeral prayers before evening time and after the morning?’
It is said, ‘It is because this prayer must be said whenever the corpse is present. Therefore, the reason is simply the presence of the corpse. There is no set time for it like other prayers. This is a form of prayer that is to be said whenever something happens which is not under man’s control. It is only a right that must be honored, and nothing else. One can honor the rights whenever he can. There is no set time for that.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is there a prayer to be said when there is an eclipse?’
It is said, ‘It is because an eclipse is one of the signs of the Honorable the Exalted God. It is not clear whether it will result in Mercy or Chastisement. That is why the Prophet (S) desired that his nation turn to their Creator and His Mercy when it occurs. Thereby they would be relieved of the evil and would be protected from its possible harm as the people of Yunus (a.s.) did when they beseeched the Honorable the Exalted God.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there ten times of bowing down in it?’
It is said, ‘The prayer which has been made incumbent (upon man for an eclipse) and has descended from the heavens to the Earth was ten units and consisted of ten times of bowing down. All the ten times are put together in this prayer. There cannot be a prayer with bowing down and prostration. Therefore, prostration is made incumbent in this prayer. Moreover, this prayer has prostration in it so that the people can terminate their prayers with humbleness. Therefore, four prostrations have been set in the eclipse prayer and the prayer is invalidated whenever any of them is forgotten, since four prostrations is the minimum requirement for each prayer.’
And if he asks, ‘Why were the bowing downs substituted with prostrations?’
It is said, ‘It is because praying while standing up is nobler than praying while sitting down. Also one who is standing would see the eclipse, and its termination while one who is prostrating would not see it.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are its fundamentals changed from what God has made incumbent (upon man in prayer)?’
It is said, ‘It is because this prayer is designated for changes in the normal sequence of natural events - that is the eclipse. Since the cause has changed, the result will also change.’
And if he asks, ‘Why has the day for breaking the fast been established as a holiday?’
It is said, ‘It is so that there are congregations in which Muslims gather together on that day, stand before the Honorable the Exalted God and praise Him for what He has bestowed upon them. That day is considered to be a special holiday and it is the day for the people to gather together. It is the day to break the fast, pay the alms-tax, long for and be humble to God, since that is the first day of the new year in which eating and drinking is allowed. This is because for the people of the truth the first month of the year is the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan. Thus, the Honorable the Exalted God likes them to hold congregations on that day in which they get together to praise and sanctify Him.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there more ‘Takbirs in it compared to all other prayers?’ It is said, ‘Since ‘Takbir constitutes glorifying God and thanking Him for guidance and health as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘…(He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.’17’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there twelve ‘Takbirs in the congregation prayer on the ‘Eid prayer for Ramadhan?’
It is said, ‘It is because there are twelve ‘Takbirs in each two units of prayers. Thus there are twelve ‘Takbirs in the congregation prayer on the ‘Eid prayer for Ramadhan.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there seven ‘Takbirs in the first unit and five in the second? Why are there not the same number of ‘Takbirs in each unit?’ It is said, ‘Since there are seven ‘Takbirs in the obligatory prayers, the first unit of this prayers starts with seven ‘Takbirs. There are five ‘Takbirs in the second unit, since there are a total of five ‘Takbirs to start all the daily prayers (one for each prayer). This is also done so that the number of ‘Takbirs in each prayer be an odd number.’
And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to fast?’ It is said, ‘It is so that you can realize the feeling of hunger, thirst, and poverty in the Hereafter. It is also because by fasting you show reverence, humbleness and submissiveness, so that you patiently and knowingly benefit from your suffering thirst and hunger. In addition, fasting serves as a means of the elimination of lust; and acts as an advisor for you for the present; a practice for you to perform your duties and a proof for the Hereafter. Also fasting is a means for you to realize the extent of hardships suffered from poverty in this world, so as give to the poor the portion of your property which God has made incumbent upon you to pay to them.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is fasting established to be done in the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and not in the other months?’
It is said, ‘It is because Ramadhan is the month in which the Sublime God sent down the Qur’an in which there exists what would distinguish between right and wrong as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (a.s.igns) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)…’18 The revelations were revealed to Muhammad (a.s.) in that month. The Night of Power (‘Qadr) is better than a thousand months and ‘In the (Night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom.’19 It is the beginning of the year on which everything - whether good or bad, loss or gain, life or death - is destined. That is why it is called the Night of Power (‘Qadr).’
And if he asks, ‘Why we have been ordered to fast during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan - no more and no less?’
It is said, ‘It is because that is the extent of fasting which both the weak ones and the strong ones can tolerate. God has made incumbent upon man the obligatory deeds to the extent that the majority of the people can do them. Then He has given the weak ones some leeway and has encouraged the strong ones to do more. If less than this was better for them, God would have made less than this incumbent upon them and if more than this was better for them, God would have made more than this incumbent upon them.’
And if he asks, ‘Why should a menstruating woman neither pray nor fast?’
It is said, ‘Since she is in an unclean state then and God does not like us to worship Him unless we are clean. Moreover, whoever cannot pray cannot fast.’
And if he asks, ‘Why should she make up her fasting but not make up her prayers?’
It is said, ‘There are several reasons for this. One of them is that fasting would not hinder her from doing her usual daily chores: such as her personal affairs; serving her husband; fixing things in the house; attending to the affairs of the house; and engaging in the affairs of life. However, praying would prevent her from doing all these things, since prayers are repeated over and over every day. A woman does not have enough strength to do this.20 However, fasting is not that way. Another reason is that praying involves exertion of an effort to sit down, stand up, and move up and down but fasting does not involve any of these acts. Fasting only consists of not eating and drinking. The body parts are not involved in it. Another reason is that there is always some prayers which must be said during the day and the night. However, fasting is not so. It is not like praying which is incumbent upon one to do every day. It is not incumbent upon one to fast every day.’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it the case that for someone who is ill during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and does not get better until the next Ramadhan, or is on a journey during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and does not end his journey up until the next Ramadhan, the fasting days he missed should not be made up, and it suffices for him to pay for the compensation of it? Why is it the case that if such a person gets well or his journey ends before the next Ramadhan should make up his missed fasts and also pay for the compensation?’
It is said, ‘Fasting was incumbent upon him during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan of that year. It was put off to a later time since he was ill or on a journey. He is excused from fasting since he did not get better during the year or his journey did not end, but he must pay for the compensation of his missed fasting days. This is because the Sublime God has sent the illness upon him and he has not found a way to get better. God has not left any means of performing his duty for him, since an ill person cannot fast. One who is on a journey should not fast either. Therefore, he is excused from fasting. The same holds true for anything else which God brings upon him such as becoming unconscious. Let’s suppose someone is unconscious for one day. He does not have to make up the prayers for that day as (Imam) As-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘God has excused His servants from anything which God Himself descends upon him.’ Since at the beginning of Ramadhan, he has been excused from fasting and this excuse has remained valid until the next year, then he must pay the compensation, and he does not have to make up the fasts. He is like someone who is always unable to fast as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘And if any has not (the wherewithal), he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones…’21
And as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘…(He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice…’22 Here giving charity has been established as a compensation for fasting when the Hajj pilgrim is in a distressful state.’
And if he asks, ‘What if he was not able to make it up then, but is able to do so now?
It is said, ‘Since his excuse has remained valid until the next Ramadhan, God’s decree regarding him is that he pay the compensation for the missed days of fasting. He is considered to be like someone who must pay the compensation for missing his fasts due to some act and cannot fast. Thus he does not have to fast, but he must pay the compensation. However, if he gets well before the next Ramadhan, but does not make up the days for the missed fasting days, he must make up the fasting and pay the compensation that is due to be paid by him, since he has been able to make up that fasting.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there recommendable fasts?’
It is said, ‘They exist so as to complete the obligatory fasts.’
And if he asks, ‘Why are there three designated days (for recommendable fasts) each month and one day (for recommendable fasts) in each ten days of the month?’
It is said, ‘It is because the Blessed the Sublime God says, ‘He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit…’23 Therefore, whoever fasts one day out of each ten days, it is as if he has fasted the whole year long as Salman al-Farsi - may God have Mercy upon him - said, ‘Fasting three days each month is considered to be fasting all the time. Whoever finds more time should fast more.’’
And if he asks, ‘Why are recommendable fasts set for the Thursdays of the first and the last ten days of the month, as well as the Wednesdays of the second ten days of the month?’
It is said, ‘As for Thursday (Imam) As-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘A servant’s (i.e. a person’s) deeds are presented to the Honorable the Exalted God each Thursday. Thus God likes His servants to be fasting when the servants’ deeds are presented to the Sublime God.”’
And if he asks: ‘Why are recommendable fasts set for the last Thursday of the month?’
It is said, ‘Since it is better during the third ten days of the month if the servant’s deeds for the last eight days are presented to God while he has fasted than if his deeds for only two days are of his deeds presented to God while he has fasted. Also Wednesday has been set in the middle ten days of each month, since (Imam) As-Sadiq (a.s.) narrated, ‘The Honorable the Exalted God created Fire on this day. He destroyed the previous nations (who sinned) on that day. It is a day which always has (been considered to be a ) bad omen. And God likes his servant to fend off the bad omen from himself by fasting.’’
And if he asks, ‘Why is it incumbent upon those who do not have the financial means to fast as expiation. Why can’t they go on the Hajj pilgrimage, pray or do other (good) deeds as expiation?’
It is said, ‘It is because praying, going on the Hajj pilgrimage and other obligatory deeds would hinder one from attending to his worldly affairs and improving his life. The same reason cited for making up the fast of the semi-menstruant who should only make up her fast not her prayers applies here, too.’
And if he asks, ‘Why has the expiation been established to be fasting for two consecutive months? Why is it not one month or three months?’
It is said, ‘It is because God has made fasting for one month incumbent upon the people. He doubled the fasting days to be an expiation so as to emphasize the importance of fasting and be stern.’
If he asks, ‘Why did He establish the compensation for fasting to be two consecutive months?’
It is said, ‘It is so that they do not underestimate fasting. If the fasting is performed spread over a span of time, it would not seem to be that difficult.’
And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to go on the Hajj pilgrimage?
It is said, ‘It is because it is a form of going towards God; asking him for numerous rewards; and departing from all (evil) that one has committed; to be repentant for all that he has done in the past; and to start what he will do in the future.
The Hajj pilgrimage is also done so that one can expend his wealth and puts himself to trouble; experiences separation from his spouse and children; avoids lust and pleasure; suffers from the troubles of the trip in the heat, cold, and fear for a long span of time along with humility, courtesy and humbleness. The Hajj pilgrimage also benefits the people in the East or the West of the Earth - whether they live in the deserts or at sea; partake in the Hajj pilgrimage or not; import goods; do business; sell or buy; are dealers or the needy; rent riding animals or are too poor to rent any riding animals to go on the Hajj pilgrimage. It also includes the fulfillment of the needs of the people who live in the vicinity where the Hajj pilgrims gather together.
It also includes the training of and the narration of the traditions from the Immaculate Leaders (a.s.) from one region over to another region as the Sublime God said, ‘Nor should the Believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them,- that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil).’24
And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to go on the Hajj pilgrimage once and not more?”
It is said, ‘It is because the Sublime God established the obligatory deeds taking into consideration the weakest people as the Honorable the Exalted God said, ‘…He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it…’25 This refers to a sheep that both the rich and the poor can offer. The other obligatory deeds are the same way and are established considering the weakest people. One of the obligatory deeds is to go on the Hajj pilgrimage which is obligatory once in one’s lifetime. God has encouraged the rich people to perform it as often as they can.
And if he asks, ‘Why we have been ordered to go on the ‘Tamatu (major) Hajj pilgrimage?”26
It is said, ‘This is a mitigation from your Lord and is out of His Mercy, so that the people may leave their state of ritual consecration for the Hajj, and this period does not become too long for them making them enter into corruption. Both (major) Hajj and ‘Umra (minor Hajj) are obligatory. Remaining in the state of consecration for the first one is like voiding the consecration for the second one. That is so that Hajj is not performed without ‘Umra, and there would be a clear distinction between them.27 And the Prophet (S) said, ‘‘Umra is attached to Hajj all the way up until the Resurrection Day.’ Had the Prophet (S) not brought an offering along and could leave the state of ritual consecration, he (a.s.) would have done as he ordered the people to do. That is why the Prophet (S) said, ‘Had I not brought my offering along with me, I would have performed my last deed as I ordered you to do. However I have brought along the offering, and one who brings along the offering cannot leave the state of ritual consecration for the Hajj until he makes the offering.’ Then a man stood up and said, ‘O God’s Prophet! Will we leave as Hajji’s while sperm is dripping down our heads due to major ritual impurity?’ The Prophet (S) told him, ‘You will never ever believe in this.’’
And if he asks, ‘Why has its time been established to be during the first ten days of the (Arabic) month of Dhul-Hajja?
It is said, ‘The Sublime God likes His servants to worship Him during the period of ‘Tashriq28 since these days are the days on which the angels went on the Hajj pilgrimage for God for the first time (and the days) during which they circumambulated around Him. Then He established this as a tradition for mankind all the way up until the Resurrection Day. And the Prophets Adam (a.s.), Noah (a.s.), Abraham (a.s.), Moses (a.s.), Jesus (a.s.) and Muhammad (a.s.) and all the other Prophets performed the Hajj pilgrimage during the same period of time. This has become a tradition for their progeny all the way up until the Resurrection Day.
And if he asks, ‘Why we have been ordered to enter the state of ritual consecration for the Hajj (by wearing ‘Ihram)?’
It is said, ‘That is so as to be humble before entering the Honorable the Exalted God’s Shrine and His Protection. That is so as to quit licentiousness; engaging in worldly affairs, its ornaments and pleasures; to struggle hard to achieve what they have set out to do there; to go towards doing what they have set out to do; as well as what there is in the ‘Ihram including the exaltation of the Sublime God and His House. Entering the state of ritual consecration means humbleness to Him, hoping His Rewards; fearing His Chastisements; going towards Him in a state of humbleness, subordination and submissiveness. And blessings be upon Muhammad (a.s.) and his Household.’
Abdul Wahid Muhammad ibn Ubdoos al-Neishaboori al-Attar - may God be pleased with him - narrated that Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Qutayba al-Neishaboori quoted on the authority of Al-Fadhl ibn Shathan29 who heard these narrations on the reasons behind decrees I told him, “Let me know whether these reasons which you expressed were out of your own understanding and deductions due to the results of intellectual reasoning or you have heard them and are narrating them?” He told me, “I am not one to know the Sublime God’s purpose behind what He has made incumbent (upon us), or know the purpose of God’s Messenger (a.s.) for what he has decreed and established as tradition. Neither can I express the reasons myself. However, what I have expressed was what I have heard from my Master (Imam) Abil Hassan Ali ibn Musa Ar-Ridha’ (a.s.) on different occasions, one after the other. Then I compiled them together.” Then I asked him, “Can I narrate these traditions on your authority on the authority of Ar-Ridha’ (a.s.)?” He replied, “Yes.”
Al-Hakim Abu Muhammad Ja’far ibn Nu’aym ibn Shathan - may God be pleased with him - narrated that his uncle Abi Abdullah Muhammad ibn Shathan quoted on the authority of Al-Fadhl ibn Shathan, “I heard this reasoning from my Master Abil Hassan ibn Musa Ar-Ridha’ (a.s.) on different occasions, and I compiled them together.
1. The Divine Leaders (a.s.)
2. Defecation, releasing air from the bowels, urinating, ejaculation of semen, the menses and spotting
3. Saying, ‘I bear witness that there is no god but God. I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s Messenger.’
4. Qur’an, 1:2
5. Qur’an, 1:3
6. Qur’an, 1:4
7. Qur’an, 1:5
8. Qur’an, 1:5
9. Qur’an, 1:6
10. Qur’an, 1:7
13. Saying the final ‘Asalamu… in the prayer.
14. Qur’an, 2:185
15. It seems that the author has made a mistake here. Uthman changed the order of delivery of the sermons for the ‘Eid holiday prayers. The sermons for the Friday prayers are to be delivered before the prayers and the sermons for the ‘Eid prayers are to be delivered after the prayers.
16. unit of length equal to 6.24 kilometers: league, parasang
17. Qur’an, 2:185
18. Qur’an, 2:185
19. Qur’an, 44:4
20. To say her own prayers, say the prayers missed during her menses and do all her duties
21. Qur’an, 58:4
22. Qur’an, 2:196
23. Qur’an, 6:160
24. Qur’an, 9:122
25. Qur’an, 2:196
26. This means that after one enters the state of ritual consecration for the ‘Umra and performing the related ceremonies and before performing the Hajj one can leave the state of ritual consecration and benefit from the pleasures which would otherwise be forbidden during the state of ritual consecration.
27. ‘And complete the Hajj or 'Umra in the service of God. But if ye are prevented (from completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (necessitating shaving), (he should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if anyone wishes to continue the 'Umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford…’[Qur’an, 2:196]
28. The 11th, 12th and the 13th days of the month of Dhul-Hajja
29. See note on Tradition no. 11-9