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Discourse 3: Fulfilling the Needs of Your Enemy

قَالَ الصَّادِقُ: إِِنِّـي لأُسَارِعُ إِلـى حَاجَةٍ عَدُوِّي خَوْفاً أَنْ أَرُدَّهُ فَيَسْـتَغْـنـى عَـنِّـي.

Imam as-Sadiq [Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad] (as) has said, “I make haste in fulfilling the needs of my enemy since I fear that if I were to delay this, he would become needless of me [and my enemy becoming needless of me such that I am not able to fulfill his needs is something which displeases me].”1

Sociologists have a differing opinion on the following issue: While living within the society, is the human being geared towards societal life or an individual existence? In other words, are we individualistic or communal in spirit?

That which is clear from the point of view of the natural world is that until various elements do not come into existence, one is not complete. Thus, as long as there are no individuals, there can be no society - just as if there are no drops of water, a river cannot exist! Therefore, we see that a community is made up of individuals and in origin, we are individuals.

However, this is not what the sociologists mean, rather, their premise is one of the following:

1. The Essential Nature of Society

When the community and the entire society benefit and prosper, this is where the true blessings lie, where as the benefits and outcomes of the individual are insignificant.

Therefore, when an individual who is independent from others prospers, it is not very important. Rather, any positive effects in the fields of knowledge, advancement of the sciences and civilization, all stem from the community and society.

Thus, the meaning of “the essential nature” is that of a foundation full of blessings which refers to the entire society.

2. The Essential Nature of the Individual

When there is a discrepancy between the benefits of the person and the benefits of society, if one desires that the society benefits, then this would mean that the individual must sacrifice himself and his desires.

Those who support the theory of the 'Essential Nature of the Society' would hold that the benefits of the entire society must take precedence over everything else. The faith of Islam also accepts the 'Essential Nature of the Society' and tells us that:

يَدُ اللٌّهِ مَعَ الْجَمَاعَةِ.

“The 'hand' of Allah is with the congregation.”
The religion of Islam also tells us that:

عَلَيْكَ بِاسَّوَادِ الأَعْظَمِ وَ الشَّاذِ مِنَ الْغَـنَمِ لِلْذِئْبِ.

“I advise you to hold firm to the majority as the stray sheep is (food) for the wolf.”

According to the wordings of these two statements, whatever goodness exists does so within the community and at the congregational level! Therefore, in various areas of life, the individual must be ready to sacrifice himself for the good of the society.

The acts of worship are also societal - for example, the official prayers in Islam are the Salatul Jama’at or the congregational prayers; the ‘Umrah is an individual act, however the hajj is an act of worship performed in groups and within an assembly of people. Thus, Islam is in favour of the society and therefore, one of the things which Islam gives extra importance to is the help and assistance extended to other people. For this reason, it has been mentioned in the traditions that:

أَلنَّاسُ كُلُّهُمْ عَيَالُ اللٌّهِ.

“All of humanity are the dependents of Allah.”

Spending in the way of Allah (SwT) is the same as spending on the servants of Allah (SwT) and in this regards we are told:

لَنْ تَـنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّى تُنْفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ

“You shall never attain righteous until you spend of that which you love.”

Thus, if we wish to become righteous people, we must spend our wealth in the way of Allah (SwT).
As for the rewards given in Islam for various acts, we are told that there is no reward comparable to giving charity in the way of Allah (SwT). In some of the traditions, the reward for doing good deeds is ten-fold while in others, a seventy-fold reward is given to the person. However in relation to spending in the way of Allah (SwT), the minimum reward which is given back is seven-hundred:

مَثَلُ الَّــذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللٌّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنْـبَـتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنْـبُلَةٍ مِئَةَ حَبَّةٍ وَاللٌّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَنْ يَّشَآءُ…

“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is as the parable of a seed (of corn) which grows seven ears; within each ear is one hundred grains and Allah increases (the reward) for those whom He pleases…”

It should be noted that the word 'يضاعف' mentioned in this verse cannot be translated as 'double the reward' - rather, it means a many-fold or multiple return!2

It is also important to note that the people whom we must help are not only the Muslims - rather, we have been told that:

لِكُلِّ كَبَدٍ حَرَّاءٌ.

“There is an emancipator for every person (regardless of his beliefs).”

Thus, the reward for helping and spending in charity in the way of Allah (SwT) would include our friends and enemies, Muslims and non-Muslims and even animals.

The proof of this fact can be seen in the tradition from Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (as) in which he stated that if a person wanted something from him (the Divinely appointed Imam) and that person was his enemy, the Imam would actually work harder and quicker to provide it since he would not want his enemy to go to someone else, thus being deprived of helping his enemy!

With such teachings in our faith, how is it possible that our religion can be spoken of as one full of anger? In which other nation or religion can we find such a program or set of actions? It is these sorts of teachings which give Islam its attractive nature and as we know through revenge, enmity is perpetuated.

If this form of life is sustained (one in which revenge becomes common-place), then we would reach to a very dangerous situation! Thus, the only way to put an end to enmity is not to respond to hatred with hatred!

If we want people to become lovers of Imam al-Zaman (as), the A`immah (as) and the Prophet (S), then we must follow these teachings!

  • 1. Ibid., vol. 75, pg. 207
  • 2. Surat al-Baqarah (2), verse 161

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