Souls Sacrificed for Religion (1): The Prophet’s wasiyya to Imam Ali.

Souls Sacrificed for Religion

By: Āyatullah Muḥammad Taqī Miṣbāḥ Yazdī

Translated by: Muhammad Reza Dorudgar & Zaid Alsalami

السَّلامُ عَلَيكَ يا أبا عَبدِ اللهِ وَعَلى الأرواحِ الَّتي حَلَّت بِفَنائِكَ

السَّلامُ عَلى الحُسَين وَعَلى عليِّ ابنِ الحُسَينِ وَعَلى أولادِ الحُسَينِ وَعَلى أصحَابِ الحُسَينِ

Translator’s Note:

This book,nhā fidāye Dīn, is based on a series of lectures delivered by the late Āyatullah Muḥammad Taqī Miṣbāḥ Yazdī (quddisa sirruh), in Muḥarram, 2005. The main theme of the lectures was how Imām Ḥusain (a.s.) and Karbala can inspire us towards self-development and sacrifice. In 2006, my good friend and dear brother Dr. Muhammad Reza Dorudgar and I decided to translate this book into English. Unfortunately, like many other works, it was never published. Now that this great scholar (r.a.) has passed, I thought it would be useful to publish it here in a series form, for my dear brothers and sisters to benefit from.

My humble request is that the dear readers overlook any errors or mistakes in the English or the translation, and share any criticisms or comments you may have.    

Please remember Ā. Miṣbāḥ in your duas, and recite a Fātiḥa for his blessed soul.

PART ONE

Introduction

We thank Allah Almighty who blessed our nation and people with loyalty and dedication towards the Ahul-Bayt –praise of Allah be upon them all– and in particular towards Imām Abū ʿAbdullah al-Ḥusain (a.s.), where only a fraction of this dedication is expressed through their enthralling and splendorous participation in mourning processions (ʿazādārī). With praises to Allah, these gatherings are improving and are increasing year after year, and the pious people and lovers of Ahul-Bayt (a.s.) passionately receive them with the best of standards. We pray that all our names are added to the list of these mourners.

However, the important thing to elucidate in these processions and gatherings is to explain the teachings of Islam and the features of the Ahul-Bayt (a.s.) School of Thought. These gatherings are a very good opportunity for all of our thirsty souls to quench from the flowing source of these teachings and for us to get to know more and more about the path and conduct of Ahul-Bayt (a.s.). May we by the will of Allah be on the path of following them and practice the sayings and teachings of these great people, and become closer day by day to these pure and illuminate beings, attaining salvation and happiness in doing so.

The Prophet’s (s.a.w.) recommendations to the Commander of the faithful (a.s.)

It is for this reason that I saw it necessary to discuss a saying from the Messenger of Islam (ṣ.a.w.) mentioned in this regard. That which will be narrated here is of course only a part of a rather long tradition, and as an introduction to this study I will be exerting only the portion that is related to Karbala, ʿĀshurā and the uprising of the Master of martyrs Imām Ḥusain (a.s.). The tradition starts as follows:

عن معاوية بن عمَّار قال: سمعتُ أبا عبد الله  علیه السلام يقول: كان في وصية النبي لعلي: أن قال: يا عليُّ أُوصیکَ في نفسِکَ بخِصالٍ فاحفظها عنِّي ثُمَّ قال: “اللهمَّ أعِنهُ”- أمَّا الأُولی فالصِّدقُ فلا تَخرُجَنَّ مِن فیکَ کَذِبةٌ أبداً، والثَّانیةُ الوَرَعُ و لا تجتَرِئ علی خیانةٍ أبداً، الثَّالثَةُ الخَوفُ من اللهِ عزَّ ذکرُهُ کأنَّکَ تَراهُ، و الرَّابعةُ کثرةُ البُکآءِ من خشیةِ اللهِ یُبنی لکَ بکُلِّ دمعةٍ ألفَ بیتٍ في الجنَّةِ، و الخامسةُ بذلکَ مالَکَ و دمَکَ دونَ دینِکَ…..

Narrating from Muʿāwiyah ibn ʿAmmār who said: “I heard Abū ʿAbdullah [al-Ṣādiq] (a.s.) say: “In the Prophet’s (ṣ.a.w.) recommendations to ʿAlī (a.s.), he said: “O ʿAlī! I advise you to observe some characteristics in yourself, so be aware of them.” He (ṣ.a.w.) then said: “O Allah, help him! – The first is being truthful, so never let a lie come out of your mouth. The second is reverence, and do not ever dare to commit treason. The third is to fear Allah, may His name be exalted, like as if you see Him. The fourth is crying increasingly out of veneration to Allah, where for every tear shed one thousand houses will be built for you in Heaven. The fifth is the giving of your money and your blood for the sake of your religion…[1]

In this tradition, Imām al-Ṣādiq (a.s.) narrates some of the recommendations the holy Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) gave to Imām ʿAlī (a.s.). There are many cases where the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.), the Imāms (a.s.) and our great personalities in Islam have said things they wanted their children and close kin and friends to pay attention to. This was given under the title of advice (waṣiyyah). This advice, although similar, is different to the will testament (waṣiyyah) a person writes so that it can be carried out after his death.  In this narration, the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) gave some advice that he thought rather important to mention to Imām ʿAlī (a.s.).

It is important here to direct our attention to who is giving the advice and who is receiving the advice. The person giving the advice is the first individual in the “realm of the contingent” and Allah’s most beloved of creation who through divine inspiration knows all the secrets of existence. He (ṣ.a.w.) is the cause of guidance and misguidance and the happiness and desolation of mankind.

The receiver of the advice is such a personality who was titled as the Commander of the faithful (a.s.), and who is the most beloved of creation to the Prophet of Islam (ṣ.a.w.). It is natural that the more a person likes someone, the more they will try to give them the most important and most valuable of things they have. Based on this, what the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) mentioned to Imām ʿAlī (a.s.) must have been the purest and most precious of treasures of the world.

Taking this introduction into considering, we now turn towards these recommendations the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) gave to Imām ʿAlī (a.s.) in this tradition. The Messenger of Allah (ṣ.a.w.) said:

يا عليُّ، أُوصیکَ في نفسِکَ بخِصالٍ فاحفظها عنِّي.

O ʿAlī ! I advise you to observe some characteristics in yourself, so be aware of them.[2]

The Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) is saying, O ʿAlī , I am giving you some advice and recommendations that I would you to take into consideration. Pay attention to them and make sure you observe them. After saying this, he (ṣ.a.w.) prays for Imām ʿAlī (a.s.) in helping him act upon these recommendations, saying ‘O Allah, help him’. In some narrations, it is stated that Imām ʿAlī (a.s.) requested the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) to pray to Allah to assist him in acting upon the advice, and the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) did so.

If we were to translate the expression ‘so be aware of them’ into our own spoken words, it would be something like: ‘O ʿAlī, do not undermine these issues, as they are very important and fundamental’. This expression naturally increases the importance of the matter being mentioned.

We do hope that we also take these recommendations of the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) serious, and that we do not become like those who hear something coming in one ear, but goes out from the other. We must seriously make the decision to practice these recommendations in our lives and ask the Almighty to grant us the success of acting upon them, in shāʾ Allah.

Lying is a dangerous vice

The first advice the Messenger of Allah (ṣ.a.w.) gave Imām ʿAlī (a.s.), which is of extreme importance is:

فلا تَخرُجَنَّ مِن فیکَ کَذِبةٌ أبداً

Never let a lie come out of your mouth.

The very fact that the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) mentioning this as the first piece of advice shows how extremely important it is.

One of the primary problems we have is lying. If someone refrains from lying, many of their problems will automatically be solved, both in their individual and positive personal life and also in their general and social life.

If a person endeavors to refrain from lying, he/she will be forced to stop committing many other sins and evil traits. A result that will follow is that all the harmful and evil effects of sins will naturally go away.

Furthermore, if people in society were to agree not to lie, many of society’s disputes, clashes and problems will be solved. Something that supports this is a tradition narrated from the Messenger of Allah (ṣ.a.w.), where it says that a person came to the Prophet of Islam (ṣ.a.w.) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! Teach me something that by it I will acquire the best of this life and the hereafter.” The Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) said to him:

لاَ تُكْذِبْ

Do not lie! [3]

It is very important that a person is observant in refraining from lying, and this has many effects in one’s psychological and spiritual perfection and happiness.

It is even more important for the youth and younger generation to pay attention to this, as they are on the beginning of their path and they have not been polluted by sin. It is also much easier for them to turn to self-disciplining. From now, they should make the serious determination not to pollute their tongues with lies, and not even lie as a joke, because lying as a joke gradually opens the door for lying for real.

If the tongue gets used to speaking contrary to the truth, the boundary of joking and lying becomes very close, and then it will get to a stage where it cannot be controlled. One must therefore be cautious, from the very beginning, and never open his/her mouth to say something that is opposite to the truth, even if it is joking.

It is narrated that Imām ʿAlī (a.s.) said:

لا يجد عبدٌ طعمَ الإيمانِ حتَّی یترُکَ الکِذبَ هزلَهُ و جِدَّه.

A worshipper will never feel the taste of faith until he abandons lying, whether serious or a joke.[4]

Lying is therefore one of the severe obstacles that hinder human perfection and in reaching happiness in the hereafter, or even in this dunyawī world. I beseech the Almighty to grant us all the success in completely leaving this dangerous vice.

The real signs of a believer

The next advice the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) gives in this tradition is:

وأمَّا الثَّانیةُ الوَرَعُ و لا تجتَرِئ علی خیانةٍ أبدا.ً

The second is reverence, and do not ever dare to commit treason.

Being truthful and honest are two things all Prophets (a.s.) emphasised on, being among the fundamental and most important aspects of their teachings. In a tradition narrated by Imām al-Ṣādiq (a.s.) he says:

لا تغتَرُّوا بصَلاتِهِم ولا بِصِیامِهِم فَإنَّ الرَّجُلَ رُبَّما لَهِجَ بالصَّلاةِ والصَّومِ حتَّی لو تَرَکَهُ إستَوحَشَ ولکن إختبروُهم عندَ صِدقِ الحدیثِ و أدآءِ الأمانةِ.

Do not be deceived by their prayers and their fasting, because a man might eagerly perform his prayers and fasting, becoming used to it so much if he was to leave it, he would long for it. Test them with speaking truthfully and keeping a trust.[5]

This means that prayers and fasting, and even long rukūʿ and sujūd are not the real signs of a believer. The reason for this is that a person might do it out of habit and become attached to it. Someone could be so used to it that if they were to stop, it would confuse them and they would feel disoriented. Of course, this is the nature of anything one becomes habituated to.

This is why Imām al-Ṣādiq (a.s.) said that in evaluating the faith and righteousness of people, your criterion is in them speaking truthfully and acting correctly.

Fearing God

The third advice is:

الثَّالثَةُ الخَوفُ من اللهِ عزَّ ذکرُهُ کأنَّکَ تَراهُ.

The third is to fear God, Exalted be His name, like as if you see Him.

The Prophet’s (ṣ.a.w.) third recommendation to the Commander of the faithful (a.s.) is the issue of fearing Almighty God.

In our society today, unfortunately some religious concepts have become less practiced. Even though we might still mention and speak of them, but it is very rare that we find the realities of these concepts in our deeds and actions. One of these concepts is fear of God.

It must be noted that fear of God is in fact fear of one’s actions that they perform.

The existence of Almighty God is Divine Effusion (faiḍ) and Mercy, and what necessitates from this is emanating effusion and mercy to creation:

«كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ»

He has made mercy incumbent upon Himself. [6]

The Almighty never punishes someone for no reason. If we say we should fear God, in reality it means we should have fear from doing something that would necessitate God’s reprimand or punishment, based on His justice and wisdom.

To further note, reprimanding and punishment are not exclusive to the Hereafter, and it is possible that someone commits an act that would be punishable in this world and also in the Hereafter.

The punishment in this world is not just natural disasters, like earthquakes and floods, but there are more severe punishments that cannot be compared with the likes of an earthquake or a flood. Some of these severe punishments are social and some are personal.

Among the severe punishments we could face in this world that we do not pay much attention to is disunity in a society, and the conflicts and discords within it.

Regarding this, Allah Almighty says in the holy Quran:

«قُلْ هُوَ الْقَادِرُ عَلَى أَنْ يَبْعَثَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابًا مِنْ فَوْقِكُمْ أَوْ مِنْ تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِكُمْ أَوْ يَلْبِسَكُمْ شِيَعًا»

Say, ‘He is able to send upon you a punishment from above you or from under your feet, or confound you as [hostile] factions.[7]

A society that does not appreciate the Divine commands of Islam and does not guard them, they will be ungrateful towards the blessings of the Islamic system and society, and if they have no loyalty to their leader and guardian they will be reprimanded.

The reproaching that people will receive is that God will create discordance among them and make them disunited. They will fight among each other, and each one will try to dismiss and condemn the other.

The least harm of this conflict and disunity is that the society will regress, and instead of advancing its opportunities, its power and facilities in order to advance the society, all the energy will be used to fight, attack and destroy one another.

It is for this reason that it truly becomes the worst of divine punishments and calamities that could befall unto a society, and we are unmindful of this issue. This inattentiveness is so much that not only do we not observe these differences as a form of punishment, we also think that plurality and the existence of various parties and fighting between each other are among the most important aspects of progress. Some even refer to it as ‘political development’.

This is the worst type of corruption; a corruption that some see to be righteous and a kind of reform. The holy Quran says:

«قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِالأخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالا ¤ الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا»

Say, ‘Shall we inform you about the biggest losers in regard to works? Those whose endeavour goes awry in the life to the world, while they suppose they are doing good.[8]

We have also reached a state where we pay money from the Muslim Treasury (bayt al-māl) to create this discord and political plurality! We pay money in the name of ‘political development’ to make parties and fight each other, and each party tries to defame and destroy the other!

The least that could be said is if only these payments were paid from the personal wealth and funding of these political developers, but it is very unfortunate that these things are being done through the Muslim Treasury. The money that must be paid to help poor and needy people and the families of martyrs, and to solve the problems of the society is paid to parties to fight and differ between each other. They then call it political development and are proud of it!

As previously mentioned, the Quran considers these factions and parties that cause Muslims to oppose and fight one another as a severe divine punishment in this world.

Another severe punishment in this world that we are oblivious about and has a personal aspect is that people become deprived from knowing Almighty God and experiencing the enjoyment of closeness with Him and the sweetness of worshipping Him.

Many people do not think that this is a form of punishment for them, and they do not feel any sense of loss, sadness and anxiety.

Many of us suppose that Divine rewards and gifts are only that we buy a house, find an appropriate occupation, get married, prices become cheaper and granted Divine sustenance. Though these are all Divine gifts, but one of the greatest of Divine gifts to His servants is that God acknowledges His servant and to put His love in their hearts, so that they would enjoy the intimacy of being close to Him and worship without ever getting tired.

Although much of this might sound fictitious to many of us, but Almighty God has some servants who consider their greatest pleasure and best moments in life as being the time that they are praying, supplicating and crying to Him. This is the gift that God bestows to only some of His servants, and not all people have such a wonderful privilege.

One of the worst punishments and penalties that are directed to some people is that He removes the enjoyment of worshiping Him. For some, performing two rakahs of prayer become so heavy and hard for them, it is like they are carrying a large heavy mountain. For such people, waking up to perform fajr prayer is even harder than incising a mountain, let alone leaving their warm and soft bed in the early morning and supplicating to their Lord.

It is for this reason that Almighty God describes the people of Heaven in the following way:

«كَانُوا قَلِيلا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ. وَبِالأسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ»

They used to sleep a little during the night, and at dawns they would plead for forgiveness.[9]

Allah Almighty also says to the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.):

«وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَاسْجُدْ لَهُ وَسَبِّحْهُ لَيْلا طَوِيلا»

And worship Him for a watch of the night and glorify Him the night long.[10]

Unfortunately, many people are deprived of this blessing, and not only do they not feel the pleasure of waking up in the middle of the night and performing night prayers, but they even reluctantly wake up for fajr prayer. Then when it is summer time, where the nights are short, they pray just before sunrise!

In any case, these are some of the Divine punishments that we are mostly ignorant about.

On the personal side and from an individual perspective, the most severe of punishments is that the opportunity of worshiping and the pleasure of close and intimate whispering with God is taken away from a person. From a social perspective, one of the most severe punishments is the inciting of differences, conflict and disunity among people. Islamic culture and ideology require that we take notice of these punishments more than all other punishments, and that we seek refuge to God in not being stricken with such punishments. If, God forbid, we are stricken with such a punishment, we plead to Him to lift it from us.

This is the third part of the advice the Prophet (ṣ.a.w.) gave to Imām ʿAlī (a.s.), saying: “Fear God like as if you see Him.”

Cont…

[1] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 77, p. 70, ḥ.8.

[2] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 77, p. 70, ḥ.8.

[3] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 72, p. 262, ḥ. 43.

[4] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 72, p. 249, ḥ. 14.

[5] Uṣūl al-Kāfī, vol. 2, p. 104, ḥ. 2.

[6] Quran, 6: 12.

[7] Quran, 6: 65.

[8] Quran, 18: 103–104.

[9] Quran, 51: 17–18.

[10] Quran, 76: 26.

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