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Thirty-Third Hadith: Wilayah And Works

بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلَى الشَّيْخِ الأَقْدَمِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ يَعْقُوبَ الْكُلَيْنِيِّ رِضْوَانُ اللهِ عَلَيْهِ عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنِ الحُسَيْنِ بْنِ سَعِيدٍ عَمَّنْ ذَكَرَهُ عَنْ عُبَيْدِ بْنِ زُرَارَةَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مَارِدٍ قَالَ: قُلتُ لأبي عبدِاللهِ عليهِ السلامُ: حَديثٌ رُوِيَ لنا أنّك قُلتَ “إذا عَرفْتَ فَاعمَلْ ما شِئتَ؟” فقالَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ: قدْ قُلتُ ذلكَ. قلتُ: وإِنْ زَنوا أو سَرقوا أو شرِبوا الخَمرَ؟ فقالَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ لي: إِنا للهِ وإِنا إليهِ راجِعونَ! واللهِ ما أنصَفونا أَنْ نكُونَ أخَذنَا بالعَملِ ووُضِعَ عنهُم. إنمَا قلتُ إذا عرِفتَ فاعملْ ما شِئتَ من قَليلِ الخَيرِ وكثيرِه فإنّه يُقبلُ مِنكَ.

With my chain of authorities reaching up to the pioneering shaykh, Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni (R) from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from al-Husayn ibn Said, from someone who narrated it from ‘Ubayd ibn Zurarah, from Muhammad ibn Marid that he said: I said to Abu ‘Abd Allah (A): A hadith has been narrated to us from you that you said, “When you have acquired the ma’rifah, i.e. of the rights of the Imam’s (A), then do whatever you want.” He replied, “I have indeed said that.” I said to him, “Even if one were to commit adultery and theft and drink wine?” He said, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un! By God, they (i.e. those who have interpreted our statements in such a manner) have not been just to us. (Is it fair for them to believe that) they would get away with whatever they do whereas we ourselves will be answerable for our acts? What I said was that when you have acquired ma’rifah perform any works you want, whether its good be great or small, for they will be accepted of you.”1

Exposition

[In the sentence ‘hadithun ruwiyah.. .’], hadith is mubtada and ruwiyah is its khabar. Annaka, with fathah (on the alif) is the khabar of an elliptic mubtada (أي هو أنك). In the statement إذا عرفتَ the ma’rifah (knowledge) meant in this tradition is the ma’rifah of the Imam (A). In the expression ...قلتُ، قالَ قلتُ may be either in the first or the third person. In وإن زنَوا , the إنْ is wasliyyah, and the phrase means, ‘if they acquire ma’rifah, they may do whatever they want, even if it is a major sin.’

The phrase إنا للهِ وإنا إلَيه راجعونَ is an expression of istirja’ and is said at the time of a severe and great calamity, and since this slander or misunderstanding was a great calamity, the Hadrat uttered it in order to dissociate and absolve himself totally from it.

The phrase أنْ تكونَ means في أن تكونَ , that is, ‘they have not been fair to us in [believing] that they would be quit of all accountability for their actions due to their belief in us (i.e. our imamate) while we ourselves would be accountable and answerable (for our acts): The Imam then clarifies what he had meant, that [belief in] wilayah is a prerequisite for the acceptability of works [before God], as will be discussed hereafter, God the Exalted willing.

Explanation Of Absence Of Contradiction Between Traditions That Exhort One To Perform

‘Ibadah And Abstain From Sins And Other Traditions Which Apparently Conflict With Them

It should be known that if one were to refer to traditions that have been narrated concerning the states of the Noblest Messenger (S) and the Imams (A) of guidance, and study the character of their devotion (‘ubudiyyah), their painstaking diligence, their lamentations and entreaties, their humility and sense of indigence, their fear and sorrow before the sacred station of the Lord of Majesty, and if one were to study the character of their intimate supplications before the Fulfiller of Needs-traditions whose number far exceeds what is required to establish tawatur-and similarly, if one were to refer to the counsels given by the Noble Messenger (S) to the Commander of the Faithful (A) and also the counsels given by the Imams to one another, as well as to the elect of the Shi’ah and their sincere followers, the greatly eloquent and emphatic exhortations that they would make warning them against disobedience to God, the Exalted-a theme with which the books of tradition and chapters relating to doctrinal and legal duties are replete-he would be convinced that certain other traditions whose apparent and literal import contradicts with these traditions are not to be taken literally.

Therefore, if possible, they must be interpreted in a way that they do not conflict with those explicit and definitive traditions, which constitute the essentials of the faith, or they must be reconciled. Otherwise, they must be referred back to their authors. In these pages, we cannot possibly reconcile all the relevant traditions or mention even a hundredth part of them and explain them. However, it is unavoidable that we mention some of these narrations so that the truth is disclosed.

الكَافِي بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: شِيعَتُنَا (هُمُ) الشَّاحِبُونَ الذَّابِلُونَ النَّاحِلُونَ الَّذِينَ إذَا جَنَّهُمُ اللَّيْلُ اسْتَقْبَلُوهُ بِحْزْنٍ.

Al-Kulayni reports in al-Kafi with his isnad from Abu ‘Abd Allah—Imam al-Sadiq (A), that he said, “Our Shi’ah (followers) arc those whose hearts are informed with sorrow and grief and who are lean as a result of intense sorrow and worship. They are those who at the fall of the darkness of the night turn to it with sadness?”2

There are many narrations on this topic describing the characteristics of the Shi’ah.

وَعَنْهُ عَنِ المُفَضَّلِ قَالَ: قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ: إيَّاكَ وَالسَّفِلَةَ، فَإنَّمَا شِيعَةُ جَعْفَرٍ مَنْ عَفَّ بَطْنَهُ وَفَرْجَهُ وَاشْتَدَّ جِهَادُهُ وَعَمِلَ لِخَالِقِهِ وَرَجَا ثَوَابَهُ وَخَافَ عِقَابَهُ. فَإذَا رَأَيْتَ اُولَئِكَ، فَاُولَئِكَ شِيعَةُ جَعْفَرٍ.

From him, froth al-Mufaddal, who narrates from Abu ‘Abd Allah—Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (A), that he said, “Beware of these base people who claim to be Shi’is. Verily, the Shi’ah of ‘Ali (A) is none except one who is chaste in his manner of earning his livelihood and sexual conduct. It is one whose diligence is intense, who works for his Creator, hoping for His reward and fearing His punishment. When you see such people know that they are the followers (Shi’ah) of Ja’far.”3

وَعَنِ الأَمَالِي لِلْحَسَنِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ الطُّوسِيِّ شَيْخِ الطَّائِفَةِ رَحِمَهُ اللهُ بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنِ الرِّضَا عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَن جَدِّهِ عَنِ أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ أَنَّهُ قَالَ لِخَيْثَمَةَ: أَبْلِغْ شِيعَتَنَا أَنَّا لا نُغْنِي مِنَ اللهِ شَيْئاً. وَأَبْلِغْ شِيعَتَنَا أَنَّهُ لا يُنَالُ مَا عِنْدَ اللهِ إلاّ بِالعَمَلِ وَأَبْلَغِ شِيعَتَنَا أَنَّ أَعْظَمَ النَّاسِ حَسْرَةً يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ مَنْ وَصَفَ عَدْلاً ثُمَّ خَالَفَهُ إلَى غَيْرِهِ. وَأَبْلِغْ شِيعَتَنَا أَنَّهُمْ إذَا قَامُوا بِمَا أُمِرُوا أَنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ.

Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Tusi, the Shaykh at-Ta’ifah (M) narrates with his chain of authorities from Imam al-Rida (A) from his father, from his grandfather from Abu Ja’far—Imam al-Baqir (A) that he said to Khaythamah, “Convey this message to our followers (Shi’ah) that we do not avail them against God that is, do not neglect works for reliance upon us. Tell them that that which is with God cannot be attained except with works. Tell them that, of all people, the greatest regret on the Day of Resurrection will be of those who speak about some aspect of justice but violate it in practice to do something else. ‘Tell our followers that if they observe what they have been asked to, they will be triumphant on the Day of Resurrection.”4

الكَافِِي بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أبِي جَعْفَرٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: لا تَذْهَبْ بِكُمُ المَذَاهِبَ. فَوَاللهِ، مَا شِيعَتُنَا إلاّ مَنْ أَطَاعَ اللهَ.

In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni narrates with his chain of authorities, from Abu Ja’far (A) that he said, “Do not be carried away by false doctrines. By God, Our follower (Shi’ah) is none except one who obeys God.”5

This means, “Do not invent [doctrinal] excuses to justify disobedience to God and do not adopt any false notion that ‘We are Shi’ah and our attachment to the Ahl al-Bayt is the means of our salvation.’ By God Our Shi’ah is none except him who obeys God, the Exalted.”

وَبِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ جَابِرٍ عن أبي جعفر عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ: «يَا جَابِرُ، أَيَكْتَفِي مَنِ انْتَحَلَ التَّشَيُّعَ أنْ يَقُولَ بِحُبِّنَا أَهْلَ البَيْتِ؟! فَوَاللّهِ مَا شِيعَتُنَا إلاّ مَنِ اتَّقَى اللّهَ وَأَطَاعَهُ. إلَى أنْ قَالَ: فَاتَقُوا اللّهَ وَاعْمَلُوا لِمَا عِنْدَ اللّهِ. لَيْسَ بَيْنَ اللّهِ وَبَيْنَ أَحَدٍ قَرَابَةٌ. أَحَبُّ العِبَادِ إلَى اللّهِ تَعَالَى وَأكَرَمُهُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَتْقَاهُمْ وَأَعْلَمُهُمْ بِطَاعَتِهِ. يَا جَابِرُ، وَاللّهِ مَا يُتَقَرَّبُ إلَى اللّهِ إلّا بِالطَّاعَةِ. مَا مَعَنَا بَرَاءَةٌ مِنَ النَّارِ، وَلا عَلَى اللّه‏ِ لِأَحَدٍ مِنْ حُجَّةٍ، مَنْ كَانَ للّهِ مُطِيعاً فَهُوَ لَنَا وَلِيٌّ، وَمَنْ كَانَ للّهِ عَاصِياً فَهُوَ لَنَا عَدُوٌّ، وَمَا تُنَالُ وَلايَتُنَا إلّا بِالعَمَلِ وَالوَرَعِ.»

In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni reports with his chain of authorities from Jabir, form Abu Ja’far (A) that he— Jabir said: He said to me, “O Jabir, is it sufficient for one who follows Shi’ism to claim that he loves us, the Ahl al-Bayt? By God, our follower (Shi’ah) is none except him who is wary of God and obeys him… So fear God and work for the sake of that which is with God. There is no kinship between God and anyone. The most preferred and honored of creatures before God, the Exalted, are those who are most Godwary amongst them and arc most obedient to His commands in their conduct.

O Jabir, by God, one cannot attain nearness to God except through obedience. We do not possess any guarantees of bara’ah (acquittal) from hellfire and none has an argument against God. Whoever is obedient to God is our friend (wali) and whoever is disobedient to God is our enemy, Our wilayah cannot be attained except through works and piety.”6

Also, in the noble al-Kafi it is reported with a chain of authorities from Imam al-Baqir, Baqir al-Ulum, (A) that he said:

عَنْ أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: يَا مَعْشَرَ الشِّيعَةِ شِيعَةِ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، كُونُوا النَّمْرَقَةَ الوُسْطَى يَرْجِعُ إلَيْكُمُ الغَالِي وَيَلْحَقُ بِكُمُ التَّالِي. فَقَالَ لَهُ رَجُلٌ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ، يُقَالُ لَهُ سَعْدٌ: جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ، مَا الغَالِي؟ قَالَ: قَوْمٌ يَقُولُونَ فِينَا مَا لا نَقُولُهُ فِي أَنْفُسِنَا، فَلَيْسَ أُولَئِكَ مِنَّا وَلَسْنَا مِنْهُمْ. قَالَ: فَمَا التَّالِي؟ قَالَ: المُرْتَادُ يُرِيدُ الخَيْرَ، يُبَلِّغُهُ الخَيْرَ يُوجَرُ عَلَيْهِ. ثُمَّ أَقْبَلَ عَلَيْنَا فَقَالَ: وَاللهِ مَا مَعَنَا مِنَ اللهِ بَرَاءَةٌ وَلا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ اللهِ قَرَابَةٌ وَلا لَنَا عَلَى اللهِ حُجَّةٌ وَلا نَتَقَرَّبُ إلَى اللهِ إلاّ بِالطَّاعَةِ. فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مُطِيعاً للهِ تَنْفَعُهُ وَلايَتُنَا، وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ عَاصِياً للهِ لَمْ تَنْفَعْهُ وَلايَتُنَا. وَيْحَكُمْ لا تَغْتَرُّوا، وَيْحَكُمْ لا تَغْتَرُّوا.

“O community of the followers of the Household of Muhammad (S)! You should be those who represent the golden mean, to whom the extremists (ghali) must return and to whom those who lag behind (tali) must catch up.”

A man named Sa’d belonging to the Ansar said to him, “My I be your ransom, what is an extremist (ghali)?” The Imam replied, “They are a group who say things about us that we do not claim for ourselves. Therefore, they do not belong to us and we do not belong to them.”

Then he asked, “What is a tali?” The imam replied, “It is one who seeks guidance but does not know its way, though he wants to work and attain goodness.” Then the Imam, turning to his followers (Shi’is) said, “By God, we do not have any warrant (bara’ah) to save you from God’s (wrath and punishment) and there is no kinship between God and us. We do not have any arguments before God and we do not attain nearness to Him except though obedience and compliance (to His commands). Anyone of you who obeys God will be benefited by our wilayah and friendship, but our wilayah will be of no avail to anyone among you who is disobedient to God. Woe to you, should you be conceited. Woe to you, should you be conceited.”7

It is also narrated in the noble al-Kafi that Imam al-Baqir (A) said,

“The Messenger of Allah (S) once stood on the rock of Safa and addressing his kinsman said, “O descendents of Hashim! O children of ‘Abd al-Muttalib! I am the Apostle of Allah sent to you, and I having loving concern for you. Verily, my works belong to me and the works of each of you belong to him. Do not say that ‘Muhammad is our kinsman and soon we will be let in wherever he enters.’ No, by God, O sons of ‘Abd al-Muttalib! My friends, from amongst you and the others, are none except the pious. Let it be known to you that I will not recognize you on the Day of Resurrection [as one of my Ummah] when you come carrying the world [i.e. the works done by you for the love of the world) on your backs while other people come to the bearing the Hereafter [i.e. the works done by them in faith and for the life of the Hereafter).”8

And it is also mentioned in the foregoing narration of Jabir that Imam al-Baqir (A) said:

O Jabir, do not let false doctrines and opinions deceive you into imagining that the love of ‘Ali (A) is sufficient for you. Can it be sufficient for a man to declare, “I befriend ‘Ali (A) and am an adherent of his wilayah,” without being diligent and without working much (good) works? Truly, were he to say that I love the Messenger of Allah (and the Messenger of Allah was better than ‘Ali) while neglecting to follow him in his conduct (sirah) and failing to act in accordance with his sunnah, his love would not be of any avail to him.9

There is a famous episode that once Tawus (a companion of the Fourth Imam) heard someone crying, lamenting, and pleading. The cries continued until they ceased and it appeared as if the one who was lamenting had fallen unconscious. On approaching, he saw that it was Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (A). He took the Imam’s head into his arms, and said to him: “You are the son of the Messenger of Allah and the beloved of Fatima Zahra’. After all the paradise belongs to you!” He said these words in order to console the Imam. That master replied, “God has created paradise for one who worships Him and obeys him, even if it were an Ethiopian slave, and He has created the hell for those who disobey him even if it were a Qurayshite” (or the chief of the Quraysh)!10

These were solve of the sacred traditions, clear and explicit, suggesting the falsity and wrongness of these false hopes of ours, as sinners and lovers of the world-hopes which derive from satanic longings and are contrary to reason and revelation (naql).

Add to these the noble Qur’anic verses, such as these statements of God, the Exalted:

﴿كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ.﴾

Every sold is pledged for what it has earned. (74:38)

And such statements of God, the Exalted, as:

﴿فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَه. وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَه.﴾

And whoso doth good an atom’s weight will see it, and whoso doth ill an atom’s weight will see it. (99:7-8)

And such other statements as:

﴿لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ.﴾

For it (the soul) is what it has earned and against it is what it has merited. (2:286)

And there are other noble verses besides, present on every page of the Divine Scripture, and to explain them away or to meddle with their meaning is contrary to (logical) necessity.

As against these, there are other traditions which are also recorded in authentic books but which are, as a rule, capable of reconciliation [with the above mentioned traditions]. And even if a reconciliation should appear to be unsatisfactory and were they not susceptible to reinterpretation (ta’wil), it is neither in accordance with sound reason or the interest (darurah) of Muslims to go against all these authentic (sahih), explicit, and muttawatir traditions which are confirmed by the literal meanings of the Qur’an and the unambiguous texts of the Furqan.

Among these traditions is that which has been narrated by the Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni with his chain of authorities from Yusuf ibn Thabit ibn Abi Said from Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) that he said:

الإيمَانُ لا يَضُرُّ مَعَهُ عَمَلٌ وَكَذَلِكَ الكُفْرُ لا يَنْفَعُ مَعَهُ عَمَلٌ.

Nothing can harm one by the side of faith, and nothing call benefit one by the side of unbelief. (kufr)11

There are several other traditions bearing this theme,12 The honored traditionist Majlisi (M) has interpreted this group of traditions with the suggestion that the ‘harm’ [in the above tradition] means ‘entry into hellfire’ or ‘remaining in hell for ever.’13

This interpretation-that what is meant by ‘harm’ is entry into hell-does not preclude (that it might be accompanied with) other torments in Barzakh (Purgatory) and in the halts of the Day of Resurrection.

This writer thinks that these traditions may be interpreted as implying that faith illumines the heart is such a manner that if supposedly an error or sin is committed by man it is compensated, by the means of the light and faculty of faith, with repentance and penitent return to God, and the person possessing faith in God and the Hereafter does not leave his works unattended until the Day of Reckoning.

On this basis, these traditions, in fact, exhort one to hold on to faith and to remain in the state of faith, like a similar tradition narrated in the noble al-Kafi from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that Moses (A) said to Khidr (A) “I have been honored by your company. Give me some counsel.” Khidr said to him, “Hold on to that with which nothing would harm you and without which nothing will be of any benefit to you.”14

عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ مُوسَى لِلْخَضِرِ عَلَيْهِمَا السَّلامُ: قَدْ تَحَرَّمْتُ بِصُحْبَتِكَ فَأَوْصِنِي. قَالَ لَهُ: إلْزَمْ مَا لا يَضُرُّكَ مَعَهُ شَيْءٌ كَمَا لا يَنْفَعُكَ مَعَ غَيْرِهِ شَيْءٌ.

And among these is this tradition:

بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ الرَّيَّانِ بْنِ الصَّلْتِ رَفَعَهُ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: كَانَ أَمِيرُ المُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ كَثِيراً مَا يَقُولُ فِي خِطْبَتِهِ: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، دِينَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ! فَإنَّ السَّيِّئَةَ فِيهِ خَيْرٌ مِنَ الحَسَنَةِ فِي غَيْرِهِ, وَالسَّيِّئَةُ فِيهِ تُغْفَرُ وَالحَسَنَةُ فِي غَيْرِهِ لا تُقْبَلُ.

Al-Kulayni reports with his chain of authorities from Muhammad ibn al Rayyan ibn al-Salt, who narrates in a marfu’ tradition from Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) that he said: The Commander of the Faithful (A) often used to say in his sermons, “O people! Take care of your creed (din)! Take care of your creed! For a vice committed in it is better than a virtue performed outside it. The vice committed in it is forgiven, and the virtue performed without it is not accepted.”15

This noble tradition and others like it, whose aim is to exhort people to follow the right religion, imply that the vices of the faithful and the followers of the true religion are ultimately pardoned, as God says:

﴿إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا.﴾

Verily, God would pardon all sins. (39: 53)

It is on this basis that it may be said that their vices are better than the virtues of others, which are never accepted (by God). Perhaps, acts of virtue which lack the conditions of acceptance, such as faith (iman) and wilayah, possess a greater darkness. In brief, this tradition does not imply that the faithful are quit of their vices.

One of them is the famous tradition which is said to be welt-known (mashhur) amongst both the groups (i.e. the Shi’ah and the Sunnis):

حُبُّ عَلِيٍّ حَسَنَةٌ لا تَضُرُّ مَعَهَا سَيِّئَةٌ وَبُغْضُهُ سَيِّئَةٌ لا تَنْفَعُ مَعَهَا حَسَنَةٌ.

The love of ‘Ali is a virtue by whose side no sin is harmful, and his enmity is a vice with which no virtue is of any benefit.16

This noble tradition is similar to the hadith mentioned earlier concerning faith (iman). Its meaning is either in accordance with the probability suggested by marhum Majlisi, that the meaning of ‘harm’ is eternal confinement in hell or entry into it.

That is, the love of that master is the essence of faith, its perfection and completion, which results in one’s being rescued from hell with the means of the intercession of the Intercessors. This interpretation, as pointed our earlier, does not preclude one’s having to undergo the various torments of the Purgatory (Barzakh), as stated in a hadith where [the Imam] has said, “We shall intercede for you on the Day of Resurrection, but the care of your life in the Purgatory is up to yourselves.”17

Or it means what we have mentioned, that the love of that master results in the emergence of a luminosity and faculty [of faith] in the heart that prompt one to refrain from sins. And should one become afflicted with sin on occasion, he would remedy it through repentance and penitence, not allowing the matter to get out of hand and not permitting the carnal self to break loose its reins.

Moreover, there is a group of traditions that are cited under the following noble verse of the Surat al-Furqan:

﴿وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ وَلَا يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا يَزْنُونَ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا. يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَانًا. إِلَّا مَنْ تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُوْلَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا.﴾

[The servants of the All-merciful are those... ] who call not upon another god with God, nor slay the soul God has forbidden except by right, neither fornicate for whosoever does that shall meet the price of sin doubled shall be the chastisement for him on the Resurrection Day, and he shall dwell therein humbled, save him who repents, and believes, and does righteous work those, God shall change their evil deeds into good deeds, for God is ever All-forgiving, All-compassionate. (25:68-70)

There are numerous traditions that are cited (in exegeses) under this verse and we shall confine ourselves to citing only one of them, for they are quite close to one another in meaning and content:

عَنِ الشَّيْخِ فِي أَمَالِيهِ بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ الثَّقَفِيِّ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُ أَبَا جَعْفَرٍ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ عَلَيْهِمَا السَّلامُ عَنْ قَوْلِ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: ﴿ فَأُوْلَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا.﴾ فَقَالَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ: يُؤْتَى بِالمُؤْمِنِ المُذْنِبِ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ حَتَّى يُقَامَ بِمَوْقِفِ الحِسَابِ، فَيَكُونُ اللهُ تَعَالَى هُوَ الَّذِي يَتَوَلَّى حِسَابَهُ لا يُطْلِعُ عَلَى حِسَابِهِ أَحَداً مِنَ النَّاسِ. فَيُعَرِّفُهُ ذُنُوبَهُ حَتَّى إذَا أَقَرَّ بِسَيِّئَاتِهِ قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِلْكَتَبَةِ: بَدِّلُوهَا حَسَنَاتٍ وَأَظْهِرُوهَا لِلنَّاسِ. فَيَقُولُ النَّاسُ حِينَئِذٍ: أَمَا كَانَ لِهَذَا الْعَبْدِ سَيِّئَةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ؟ ثُمَّ يَأْمُرُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بِهِ إلَى الجَنَّةِ. فَهَذَا تَأْوِيلُ الآيَةِ. وَهِيَ فِي المُذْنِبِينَ مِنْ شِيعَتِنَا خَاصَّةً.

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi, in his Amali, reports with his chain of authorities from the highly regarded traditionist Muhammad ibn Muslim al-Thaqafi (R) that he narrated: I asked Abu Ja’far, Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (A) concerning the statement of God, Almighty and Glorious, “Those, God will change their evil deeds into good deeds, and God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.” He replied: The sinful believer will be brought on the Day of Resurrection until he is made to stand in the halt of reckoning. The God, the Exalted, Himself would take charge of his reckoning and none of mankind will come to know about his account of deeds. Then He will inform the believer of his sins that he may confesses to his sins. God, the Almighty and the Glorious, shall say to the scribes the angels who write men’s deeds, “Change them into good deeds and disclose them to the people.” Thereat people will say, “This servant did not perpetrate a single sin!” Then God shall order him to be escorted into paradise. This is the interpretation (ta’wil) of the verse, and that relates particularly to the sinners from amongst our followers (Shi’ah).18

The reason for citing the above noble verse completely and prolonging the discussion is that the topic is of a major importance and many of the sermonizers (ahl al-minbar) interpret such traditions in a misleading manner for the people. Their connection with the noble verse would not have been revealed without the citation of the noble verse. On this basis, I am compelled to protract the discussion, even if it should be tiresome.

If one were to study the latter part of the verse, one would know that all people are absolutely responsible for their deeds and accountable for their ugly actions, excepting those who attain faith and repent for their sins and perform righteous deeds. This is how Imam al-Baqir (A) has explained the verse, describing the character of the reckoning of such persons, which, however, is special to the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt and other people do not partake of it.

That is because [true] faith is not realized except with the wilayah of ‘Ali and his infallible and pure successors, awsiya’ (A). Rather, faith in God and the Messenger would not be accepted without wilayah, as will be mentioned in the next section, God willing. Hence this noble verse and the traditions relating to its interpretation must be considered as belonging to the primary proofs, for they imply that if a person should possess faith and should he compensate for his sins with repentance and righteous deeds, he would not be covered by this verse.

Hence, my dear, let not Satan delude you and let not carnal appetites deceive you. Of course, a lazy person afflicted with lusts and the love of the world, property, and position-such as this author-is always after finding some pretext in order to justify his laziness. He turns to anything that agrees with his appetites and affirms his carnal lusts and satanic imaginings, opening his eyes and ears to it without delving into its real meaning and without considering that which contradicts it and is opposite to it.

Poor man, he imagines that he is, God forbid, permitted every unlawful act and is untouched by the pen of accountability, na’udubillah, at the mere claim of being a Shi’ah and attached to the Household of Purity and Infallibility. Wretched man! he does not know that Satan has made him blind. There is always the danger that this hollow and futile love would also slip out of his hands at the end of his life and he would be resurrected empty-handed within the ranks of the enemies (nawasib) of the Ahl al-Bayt. The claim of love is not acceptable from someone who has no proof to substantiate it. It is not possible that I may love you and be sincerely attached to you while my conduct is contrary to all your goals and objectives. The fruit of true love is deeds that are in harmony with that love. And should it lack this fruit, one must know that it was not [real] love but only an imaginary fancy.

The Noble Messenger and his honored Household (A) spent all their lives in disseminating the law, morality and doctrines [of Islam] and their sole objective was to communicate the commands of God and to reform and refine human beings. They willingly bore hardships when they were killed, plundered, and insulted in the way of these goals and did not flinch from marching ahead. Hence their follower (Shi’ah) and lover (mu’hibb) is one who shares their objectives, moves in their footsteps, and follows their traditions.

The fact that verbal confession and practical action have been considered as essential elements (muqawwimat) of faith in the noble traditions is a natural secret and a prevailing law of God, because the reality of faith is essentially associated with expression and action. It is intrinsic in the nature of the lover to express his love and passionate yearning (taghazzul) for the Beloved, and to act as required by faith and the love of God and His awliya’. If someone does not act, he does not have faith and love. And his apparent faith and his hollow and soulless love would be wiped out by some slight accident, including the pressures [of the deathbed and the grave] and one would enter the abode of retribution empty-handed.

Wilayah Of The Ahl Al-Bayt, The Condition For Acceptability Of Works

That which is implied by the latter part of the noble tradition [being expounded]-that wilayah and ma’rifah are prerequisites for the acceptance of works-is a matter that is one of the definite, or rather necessary, doctrines of the sacred Shi’i religion. The traditions on this topic are too numerous to be cited in these brief expositions and their number exceeds the limits of tawatur. However, we shall cite some of them in these pages for tabarruk’s sake:

الكَافِِي بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أبِي جَعْفَرٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: ذَرْوَةُ الأمْرِ وَسَنَامُهُ وَمِفْتَاحُهُ وَبَابُ الأَشْيَاءِ وَرِضَا الرَّحْمَنِ الطَّاعَةُ لْلإمَامِ بَعْدَ مَعْرِفَتِهِ… أَمَا لَوْ أَنَّ رَجُلاً قَامَ لَيْلَهُ وَصَامَ نَهَارَهُ وَتَصَدَّقَ بِجَمِيعِ مَالِهِ وَحَجَّ جَمِيعَ دَهْرِهِ وَلَمْ يَعْرِفْ وِلايَةَ وَلِيِّ اللهِ فَيُوَالِيَهُ وَيَكُونَ جَمِيعَ أَعْمَالِهِ بِدَلالَتِهِ إلَيْهِ، مَا كَانَ لَهُ عَلَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ حَقٌّ فِي ثَوَابِهِ وَلا كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الإيمَانِ.

Al-Kulayni in al-Kafi reports with his isnad from Abu Ja’far (A) that he said: The crux of the matter, and its key, the door of things and the pleasure of the Beneficent—all lie in obedience to the Imam after having known him… Be aware that the man who spends his nights in prayer and his days in fasting and gives as all his property as charity (sadaqah) and performs hajj throughout his life without knowing the wilayah of the Wali of God and without following him, and without conducting himself, in all his actions, according to his guidance—such a person has no right to any reward from God and is not one of the faithful.19

وَبِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أبِي عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: مَنْ لَمْ يَأْتِ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ بِمَا أَنْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ لَمْ يُتَقَبَّلُ مِنْهُ حَسَنَةٌ وَلَمْ يُتَجَاوَزْ عَنْهُ سَيِّئَةٌ.

In Wasa’il al-Shi’ah it is recorded with a chain of authorities from Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) that he said, “Whoever does not come to God, the Almighty and the Glorious, on the Day of Resurrection with a creed that you follow, no virtue of his will be accepted nor will any sin of his be overlooked.”20

وَبِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أبِي عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ – فِي حَدِيثٍ- قَالَ: وَاللهِ لَوْ أَنَّ إبْلِيسَ سَجَدَ للهِ بَعْدَ المَعْصِيَةِ وَالتَّكَبُّرِ عُمُرَ الدُّنْيَا مَا نَفَعَهُ ذَلِكَ وَلا قَبِلَهُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مَا لَمْ يَسْجُدْ لآدَمَ كَمَا أَمَرَهُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أنْ يَسْجُدَ لَهُ. وَكَذَلِكَ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةُ العَاصِيَةُ المَفْتُونَةُ بَعْدَ تَرْكِهِمُ الإمَامَ الَّذِي نَصَبَهُ نَبِيُّهُمْ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَهُمْ: فَلَنْ يَقْبَلَ اللهُ لَهُمْ عَمَلاً وَلَنْ يَرْفَعَ لَهُمْ حَسَنَةً حَتَّى يَأْتُوا اللهَ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَتَوَلَّوا الإمَامَ الَّذِي أُمِرُوا بِوِلايَتِهِ وَيَدْخُلُوا مِنَ البَابِ الَّذِي فَتَحَهُ اللهُ وَرَسُولُهُ لَهُمْ.

In Wasa’il al-Shi’ah it is reported, in a hadith, with a chain of authorities from Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) that he said, “By God, were Iblis -may God damn him- to prostrate to God for as long as the world lasts after his disobedience and pride, that would not benefit him, and God would not accept it as long as he does not prostrate to Adam as commanded by God, the Almighty and the Glorious. The same applies to this disobedient and misguided Ummah after its abandoning the Imam appointed for them by their Prophet. Hence God will not accept any of their acts nor elevate any of their good works unless they carry out what God has commanded them and follow the Imam, to whose authority (wilayah) they have been commanded by God to submit, and enter through the door that God and His Messenger have opened for them…”21

There are many traditions bearing this theme and it may be inferred from all of them that the recognition of wilayah is a condition for the acceptability of works, or, rather, that it is the condition for the acceptability of faith in God and the prophethood of the honored Prophet (S). However, as to its being a condition for the validity of the works, as stated by some scholars, that is not certain. Rather, that which is apparent is that it is not a condition, as is suggested by many traditions, such as the tradition concerning the non-necessity of the repetition (qada’) of his acts of worship by a convert to Shi’ism (mustabsir).

Excepting the zakat, which he had given during the period of his error to those who did not deserve it, he is not required to perform the qada of his other acts of worship and God would reward him for them.22 It is mentioned in another tradition that “other acts such as prayer, fasts, hajj, and sadaqah would join you and follow you excepting the zakat, which was paid earlier to those who had no right to receive it and has to be paid to its deserving recipients.”23 And it is mentioned in some traditions that the acts [of the Ummah] are presented to the Messenger of God (S) on Thursdays, and God, the Exalted, reviews them on the Day of ‘Arafah and makes them all like dust scattered. The Imam was asked as to who are the persons whose acts are thus treated. The Imam replied that they are the acts of those who are hostile to its and hostile to our followers.24

And this tradition, as is clear, implies the (legal) validity and non-acceptability of the acts. In any case, the pursuit of this matter is beyond our present purpose. And all praise belongs to God, firstly and lastly.

  • 1. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, 464, “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr;”‘bib anna al-iman la yadurru ma’ahu sayyi’ah,” hadith 5.
  • 2. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, 233, “kitab-al-iman wa al-kufr,” “bab al-mu’min wa ‘alamatuh,” hadith 7.
  • 3. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, 233, hadith 9.
  • 4. Al-Amali, p. 380, juz’ 13.
  • 5. Usul al-Kaf i, ii, 73, “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr,” “bab al-ta’ah wa al-taqwa,” hadith 1.
  • 6. Usul al-Kaf i, ii, 74, hadith 3.
  • 7. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 75, “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr,” “bab al-ta’ah wa al-taqwa,” hadith 6.
  • 8. Rawdat al-Kafi, viii, 182, hadith 205.
  • 9. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 74, “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr,” “bab al-ta’ah wa al-taqwa,” hadith 3.
  • 10. Bihar al-anwar, vol. 46. pp. 81-82, “Ta’rikh ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (A),” bab 5, hadith 75.
  • 11. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 464 “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr,” “bab anna al-iman la yadurru ma’ahu sayyi’ah,” hadith 4.
  • 12. Usul al-Kaf i, hadith 3, 5-6.
  • 13. Al-Majlisi, Mir’at al-uqul, xi, 396, “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr,” “bab anna al-iman la yadurru ma’ahu sayyi’ah,” hadith 2.
  • 14. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 464, “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr,” bab anna al-iman la yadurru ma’ahu sayyi’ah,” hadith 2.
  • 15. Usul al-Kaf i, ii, 464, hadith 6.
  • 16. Al-Manaqib, iii, 197.
  • 17. Al-Manaqib, hadith 4, footnote No. 33.
  • 18. Al-Amali, p. 70, juz’ 3.
  • 19. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 19, “kitab al-iman wa al-kufr,” “bib da’aim al-Islam,” hadith 5.
  • 20. Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, i, 91, “kitab al-taharah,” “abwab muqaddimat al-ibadat,” hadith 3.
  • 21. Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, i, 91, “kitab al-taharah,” “abwab muqaddimat al-ibadat,” p. 92, hadith 5.
  • 22. Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, i, 91, “kitab al-taharah,” “abwab muqaddimat al-ibadat,” p. 97, bab 31, hadith 1.
  • 23. Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, i, 91, “kitab al-taharah,” “abwab muqaddimat al-ibadat:”
    أمَّا الصَّلاةُ وَالصَّوْمُ وَالصَّدَقَةُ فَإنَّ اللهَ يَتْبَعُكُمَا ذَلِكَ وَيَلْحَقُ بِكُمَا. وَأمّا الزَّكَاةُ فَلا، لأَنَّكُمَا أَبْعَدْتُمَا حَقَّ امْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ وَأَعْطَيْتُمَاهُ غَيْرَهُ.
  • 24. Bihar al-anwar, xxiii, 345, “kitab Imamah,” bab 20, hadith 37.
    …إنَّ أعْمَالَ العِبَادِ تُعْرَضُ كُلَّ خَمِيسٍ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ، فَإذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ عَرَفَةَ هَبَطَ الرَّبُّ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى؛ وَهُوَ قَوْلُ اللهِ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى: ﴿وَقَدِمْنَا إِلَى مَا عَمِلُوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا.﴾ فَقُلْتُ: جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ؛ أَعْمَالُ مَنْ هَذِهِ؟ قَالَ: أَعْمَالُ مُبْغِضِينَا وَمُبْغِضِي شِيعَتِنَا.

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