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SHIISM AT A GLANCE (6)

Before I continue from where I stopped, I will like to put some words on the recent 40th day mourning of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (as) at Karbala. From the statistics made available in the media this year, no fewer than 26 million people attended the ever – increasing event, with 20 million Iraqis alone. 

Undoubtedly, it is the largest, safest and most peaceful gathering on earth despite the unfortunate situation in Iraq. Those interviewed have generally appreciated the level of hospitality and humanitarian services rendered freely to the pilgrims.

Here in Nigeria, no fewer than seven million people attended the Zaria gathering which has remarkably raised from last year’s.  In his speech, the leader of the Islamic movement, sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky dwelt on the genesis and philosophy of the event refuting a number of rumored allegations through ignorance and enmity.

On the unfortunate bomb blast that claimed 23 lives and injured tens of others, the sheikh related it to the handiwork of enemies of Islam who are responsible for similar atrocities in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He debunked the circulated report by the media that Boko Haram has claimed responsibility saying that the Islamic movement could not be fooled by such lies. He accused Israel and America for the attack describing ISIS, targeted to blackmail Islam and murder Muslims and most disheartening in the name of Islam, as acronym originally Israeli Secret Intelligence Services. The sheikh has attested the martyrdom of 23 brothers as a result of the bomb detonated by a misguided individual and another would be detonator that was apprehended by the Movement. After a thorough  investigation however, the apprehended proved innocent, misguided and oppressed, just planned to be used as a tool by the enemies, and therefore considered guiltless! The sheikh has related terrorism and terrorist networks which America, Israel and their allies claim to fight as their creation and a global conspiracy against Islam and Muslims.

 The speech of the sheikh could be accessed in the official website of the Movement@www.islamicmovement.org/www.harkarmusulunci.org

Back to the topic above, the doctrine for this week is on the right of brotherhood between Muslims. In the light of this, we could realize the significance of Unity before the Shi’ah for which late Imam Khomeini (QS), established the Unity week and International Quds day which are observed to date. Interestingly, the duo were copied by many scholars and organisations yielding significant impact in the Ummah as a whole.

DOCTRINE 42: RIGHT OF BROTHERHOOD BETWEEN MUSLIMS

One of the highest and most excellent instructions of Islam to all Muslims is brotherhood without distinction of birth, rank or position. But, unfortunately, Muslims have always neglected this. One of the smallest duties of Islamic brotherhood is that a Muslim should wish for his brother what he does wish for himself, as we shall point out in a tradition from Imam Sadiq. One must study this duty well, and it is accounted a very small one in the opinion of the descendents of Muhammad. One sees that Muslims find it difficult to fulfill this small duty, for their morals and behaviour are not in accordance with the Islamic spirit. Concentrate carefully on this small responsibility; if people were to respect it, neither oppression, nor enmity, nor theft, nor falsehood, nor backbiting, nor informing would be found anywhere among them. If they realised the result of this and were careful in carrying out this duty, oppression and enmity would disappear; they would live as brothers with each other and attain the height of happiness among themselves. Madinah al – Fadilah of the ancient philosophers would become a reality, no government would be needed, no court of law, no police, prison or criminal law; they would be free from colonisers and tyrants; oppressors could not force their iniquity on them; and the earth would become paradise.

Furthermore, if Islamic brotherhood reigned among people, as Islam has said it should, then the word justice would disappear from dictionaries; justice and its laws would not be needed and brotherhood alone would suffice to ensure goodness, peace, happiness and pleasure among us. For humanity, in such a situation, would have no need for justice and its laws; these are only needed when there is lack of love between people. A mother is kind and good towards her children because of her love and compassion, not because of the commandments of justice. We can understand why a man loves only himself and that which is agreeable to him; it is impossible for him to love something or someone unless it belongs to him. And when he does love something or someone, it is impossible for him to give them to someone else whom he dislikes, unless there exists a principle which is stronger than his desires, like  a belief in justice and kindness, and in this case, he may devote his interests to someone else whom he does not like.

Such an ideal, when it dwells in the human mind, keeps it in a position above all material things, so that it is able to realise the superiority of justice and goodness, and to show kindness to others. It will be seen that man needs such superior ideals when there is no kindness and brotherhood – and the fact that he does it because of his egotism and desires – as long as his feeling is missing, he must believe in the goodness of justice and kindness, following the guidance of Islam. And if he fails to believe in this as well, then he does not deserve to be thought of as a Muslim; such a man, even in name is not a friend of Allah; he has done nothing for the sake of Allah, as we shall see in the tradition of the Imam which follows. Usually, human desires overcome man, and it is difficult for him to prepare himself even to believe in justice, so it is much difficult for him to attain that perfect belief through which he can vanquish his desires.

We can see the brotherhood of man is very difficult to obtain as long as its desirability is not sensed. For this reason, Imam Sadiq did not wish to explain to al – Mu’alla Ibn Khunays more than he could understand, because Ja’far was afraid to teach him what he could not put into practice. Mu’alla asked; What does one Muslim owe another? There are seven duties incumbent upon him. Should he neglect but one of them, he is not a friend or servant of Allah, and truly he has done nothing for the sake of Allah. What may these things be? I feel compassion for you. I am afraid lest you learn them, but you neglect to put them into practice, or you cannot. There is no power but in Allah.

Mu’alla then relates that the Imam told him the seven:  First, the smallest duty is that you should wish for your brother what you wish for yourself, and that you should wish that you do not desire for yourself should not befall your brother.  So this is a small duty! Do we find this easy? That is to say, we present day Muslims. May those who call themselves Muslims but do not act in accordance with this small but strict duty find themselves disgraced. It is amazing that the backward state of the Muslims should be ascribed to Islam, while the only reason for it is the behaviour of the Muslims, that is those who call themselves Muslims but do not carry out this humble duty.

Having reminded ourselves and mentioned our present circumstances, we shall now list the seven duties as related by Mu’alla from Imam Ja’far (as):

(a) Wish for your brother what you wish for yourself, and wish that what you do not desire for yourself should not befall your brother.                                    (b) Do not make your brother angry, but seek to please him and obey his wishes.                                                                                                                                (c) Help him with your soul, your toungue, your hands and your feet.                   (d) Be his eye to see by, his guide to lead him and his mirror.                                (e) Do not eat your fill when he is hungry, nor drink and clothe yourself when he is thirsty and naked.

(f) If he has no servant, but you do, it is incumbent on you to send your servant to him to wash his clothes, cook his food and spread out his mattress.                                                                                                                             (g) Accept his promise and his invitation; visit him when he is sick, attend his funeral and see to his needs before he asks you, hurrying to do them if you can.

When he finished, Imam Ja’far said "If you fulfill these duties you can call yourself his friend, and he will be your friend also"

There are many traditions told from our Imams, and most of them are collected in Kitab al – Wsa’il in the relevant sections. Some people have imagined that the Imams meant brotherhood only among the Shi’ah, but if they were to read the traditions they would understand that their imagination is deceiving them, although the Imams did strongly repudiate those whose way was against the Shi’ah and who did not follow their guidance. Let us mention here the conversation of Imam Sadiq with Mu’awiyah Ibn Wahab. How should we treat those who do not follow our ways? Look to your Imams whom you obey, and obey them and imitate them. They visit them (those who are not Shi’ah) when they are sick, go to their funerals, give evidence for or against them, and repay their trust.

No, the brotherhood that the Imams envisaged among their followers is higher than ordinary Islamic brotherhood, and it has been mentioned briefly in the introduction. It will suffice to read the following conversation between Imam Sadiq and Aban Ibn Taghlib.

Aban relates; while I was circumbulating the Ka’bah with Imam Sadiq, one of our friends signaled to me that I should immediately go with him to help him. The Imam noticed and said to me; O Aban, does he mean you? I replied Yes. Does he believe in what you believe in? Yes. Then go with him and break your circumbulation. I asked if it was incumbent on me to do so, and he said that it was. Then I went with the man to help him about the rights of the believers. Do not ask me concerning them, he said. But I insisted. Give your brother half of what you own, he told me, and looked at me. He understood my surprise and said "O Aban! Do you know that Allah admires those believers who prefer others to themselves? I replied yes. When you give your brother half of what you own, you do not prefer him above yourself, but only when you give him the other half do you really prefer him above yourself.

If we feel shame at this, then really we should not call ourselves believers. We are quite remote from the teachings of the Imams. Everyone who reads this tradition becomes astonished as did Aban, but then he pays no further attention to it and forgets it, as if he were not the person addressed, and as if he were not responsible.  

The above were sampled from the doctrinal aspects of the creed. One could refer to the book for the entire doctrines or Kitab Aqa’iduna (our doctrines) by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi among other books dealing with the Shi’ah doctrines. A comparative analysis on selected doctrines was made by Dr. Muhammad Tijani al – Samawi in his book Fas’aluw ahl al – Zikr. – Ask those who know.

To be continued.