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Discourse 24: The True Followers (Shi’a) Of ‘Ali B. Abi Talib

لَمَا جَعَلَ الْمَأْمُونَ إِلـى عَلِيِّ بْنِ مُوسى الرِّضَا وِلاَيَةُ الْعَهْدِ دَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ آذَنَهُ فَقَالَ إِنَّ قَوْماً بِالْبَابِ يَسْتَأْذِنُونَ عَلَيْكَ يَقُولُونَ نَحْنُ مِنْ شِيعَةِ عَلِيِّ. فَقَالَ أَنَا مَشْغُولٌ فَاصْرِفْهُمْ فَصَرَفَهُمْ إِلـى أَنْ جَآءُوا هٌكَذَا يَقُولُونَ وَ يَصْرِفُهُمْ شَهْرَينِ ثُمَّ أَيِّسُوا مِنَ الْوُصُولِ. فَقَالُوا قُلْ لِمَوْلاَنَا إِنَّا شِيعَةَ أَبِـيكَ عَلِيَّ بْنَ أَبِي طَالِبٍ قَدْ شَمَتَ بِنَا أَعْدَاؤَنَا فِي حِجَابِكَ لَنَا وَ نَحْنُ نَـنْصَرِفُ عَنْ هٌذِهِ الْكَرَّةِ و نهرب مِنْ بِلاَدِنَا خَجَلاً وَ أَنْفَةً مِمَا لَحِقْنَا وَ عُجْزاً عَنْ إِحْـتِمَالِ مضض مَا يَلْحِقْنَا مِنْ أَعْدَائِنَا. فَقَالَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُوسى أَئِذَنْ لَهُمْ لِيَدْخُلُوا فَدَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَسَلَمُوا عَلَيْهِ فَلَمْ يَرِدِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَ لَمْ يَأْذَنُ لَهُمْ بِالْجُلُوسِ فَبَقُوا قِـيَاماً فَقَالُوا

يَا ابْنَ رَسُولِ اللٌّهِ مَا هٌذَا الْجَفَاءِ الْعَظِيمِ وَ الإِسْتِخْفَافَ بَعْدَ هٌذَا الْحِجَابِ الصَّعْبِ أَيِّ بَاقِيَةُ تَبْقى مِنَّا بَعْدَ هٌذَا. فَقَالَ الرِّضَا إِقْرَءُوا ) وَ مَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَ يَعْفُوا عَنْ كَثِيرٍ ( وَ اللٌّهُ مَا اقْتَدَيْتُ إِلاَّ بِرَبِّي عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ وَ بِرُسُولِهِ وَ بِأَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ مِنْ آبَائِي الطَّاهِرِينَ عَتَوا عَلَيْكُمْ فَاقْتَدَيْتُ بِهِمْ. قاَلُوا لَمَا ذَا يَا ابْنَ رَسُولِ اللٌّهِ؟  قَالَ لِدَعْوَاكُمْ أَنَّكُمْ شِيعَةُ أَمِيرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَيَحْكُمُ إِنَّ شِيْعَتَهُ الْحَسَنَ وَ الْحُسَينَ وَ سَلْمَانَ وَ أَبُو ذَرَّ وَ الْمِقْدَادَ وَ عَمَّارَ وَ مُحَمَّدَ بْنَ أَبِي بَكَرِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُخَالِفُوا شَيْئاً مِنْ أَوَامِرِهِ

وَ أَنْـتُمْ فِي أَكْثَرِ أَعْمَالِكُمْ لَهُ مُخَالِفُونَ وَ تُقْصِرُونَ فِي كَثِيرِ مِنَ الْفَرَائِضِ وَ تَتَهَاوَنُونَ بِعَظِيمِ حُقُوقِ إِخْوَانِكُمْ فِي اللٌّهِ وَ تَتَّقُونَ حَيْثُ لاَ تَجِبُ التَّقِيَّةَ وَ تُتْرَكُونَ التَّقِيَّةَ حَيْثَ لاَ بُدَّ مِنَ التَّقِيَّةِ لَوْ قُلْـتُمْ إِنَّكُمْ مَوَالِيهِ وَ مَحْبُوهِ وَ الْمَوَالُونَ لأَوْلِيَائِهِ وَ الْمُعَادُونَ لأَعْدَائِهِ لَمْ أَنْكَرَهُ مِنْ قَوْلِكُمْ وَ لٌكِنْ هٌذِهِ مَرْتَبَةٌ شَرِيفَةٌ إِدْعَيْـتُمُوهَا إِنْ لَمْ تَصَدَّقُوا قَوْلَكُمْ بِفِعْلِكُمْ هَلَكْـتُمْ إِلاَّ أَنْ تَتَدَارَكَكُمْ رَحْمَةِ رَبِّكْمُ. قَالُوا يَا ابْنَ رَسُولِ اللٌّهِ فَإِذَا نَسْتَغْفِرُ اللٌّهَ وَ نَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ قَوْلِنَا بَلْ نَقُولُ كَمَا عَلِّمْنَا مَوْلاَنَا نَحْنُ مُحِبُّوكُمْ وَ مُحِبُّو أَوْلِيَائِكُمْ وَ مُعَادُو أَعْدَائَكُمْ. قَاَل الرِّضَا فَمَرْحَباً بِكُمْ إِخْوَانِي وَ أَهْلَ وَدِّي.

When Imam ‘Ali b. Musa al-Riza (as) was requested to make his way to the city of tus (present day Mashad) and was ordered to be the heir-apparent of Ma’mun al-Rashid, a group of the Shi’a came to see him and requested permission to enter into his presence.

The Imam asked his servant who the people at the door were to which the servant replied that, 'They claim that they are the Shi’a of ‘Ali.' 

The Imam told his servant to tell them that he was busy and that they should leave - not granting them permission to enter into his presence. This same scene continued for a second day, third day and went on for a period of two months. Every day they would come, ask for permission to see the Imam, however he did not grant them an audience. This continued until the people gave up all hope of meeting the Imam.

On the final day this group of people told the servant that, 'Tell the Imam that we are the Shi’a of his father, ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (as) and that the plots of our enemies will intensify at hearing about the separation of the Imam from us. If we are to return back to our home town after being in tus for two months and the people ask us if we had a chance to visit the Imam and we tell them that he did not give us the permission to meet him then none shall respect us.' 

The servant went to the Imam and told him what these people said and at this point, the Imam permitted them to meet him.

After they entered into the presence of the Imam and greeted him, however he did not reply their greting. They desired to sit down however the Imam did not give them the permission to do so. The people began to cry and while standing said, 'O' Son of the Messenger of Allah! What have we done to you that you are acting in this way towards us??

The Imam replied, 'You claim that you are the Shi’a of ‘Ali whereas the true Shi’a of ‘Ali are people like Hasan, Husayn, Abu Dharr, Salman, Miqdad and Muhammad b. Abu Bakr.' 

These people replied, 'We ask forgiveness, what else can we say?' 
The Imam replied to them, “Say that you are the lovers of ‘Ali.' 
When the people said this, then the Imam ordered his servant to show these people kindness.'1

Truly, this tradition is one which should spiritually move us.

We normally state that we (Iran) are the country of the true followers (Shi’a) of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (as), where as those who met and had close contact with the Imam are much better than we are! Thus, it is clear that the claim of being a Shi’a is something very high.

In relation to the characteristics of the Shi’a, Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) has stated that:

إِنَّمَا أَصْحَابِي مَنْ لَهُ أَشَدُّ الْوَرَعَ وَ خَافَ مِنْ عِقَابِ اللٌّهِ وَ رَجَآءَ ثَوَابِ اللٌّهِ - هٌؤُلاَءِ أَصْحَابِي.

“Truly my companions are only those who are the strongest in Wara’, fear the punishment of Allah and are hopeful of the reward of Allah - these are my companions.”

As we know, Taqwa is a lower level of Wara’, as Taqwa means that we keep away from sins, whereas Wara’ means that we keep away from doubtful things.

Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) has said that, “My companions are those who are the strongest in Wara’; fearful of Allah; are hopeful of His reward and surround themselves with the commandments of Allah.”

We have taken the issue of being a Shi’a as something very simple to attain such that through the mere performance of the Tawassul, Ziyarat and Du’a, we consider ourselves as Shi’a! We do not wish to lower the worth and value of Tawassul and Ziyarat, however there are many other things which must be performed - and this is what it means to be a Shi’a.

To be a Shi’a means to be self-sacrificing; show altruism; possess cognizance of Allah; be a person of Taqwa, and other such ethical traits. Our entire life, our house, our market place, our religious programs, our travels, our entire presence must all take on the aroma of Wilayah of the Ahlu'l Bayt (as).

Thus, we must first start with ourselves and families and must implement the Wilayat which Imam ‘Ali b. Musa al-Riza (as) has spoken of in the tradition under discussion.

Therefore, those of us who make the claim of being a Shi’a must first ask repentance for lying! We must first start with ourselves and our own purification and attainment of the rank of being a Shi’a, and must realize that to be a Shi’a of ‘Ali (as) does not only mean the performance of the mere acts of Tawassul, Ziyarat, and Du’a.

We pray that Allah (SwT) gives us the ability to truly be the lovers of Allah (SwT) in place of just claiming this station such that when we claim that 'We are the Shi’a of ‘Ali” we are in that form of a Shi’a that would be pleasing to Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) and to Imam ‘Ali b. Musa al-Riza (as)!

  • 1. Ibid., vol. 65, pg. 157

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