Terms like ‘Side of Allah’, ‘Face of Allah’ and ‘Hands of Allah’ denote the Holy Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams (a.s.)
There are many verses about them:
وَاتَّبِعُوا أَحْسَنَ مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَكُمْ العَذَابُ بَغْتَةً وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ. أَنْ تَقُولَ نَفْسٌ يَا حَسْرَتَا عَلَى مَا فَرَّطْتُ فِي جَنْبِ اللَّهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتُ لَمِنْ السَّاخِرِينَ.
And follow the best that has been revealed to you from your Lord before there comes to you the punishment all of a sudden while you do not even perceive lest a soul should say: O woe to me! For what I fell short of my duty to Allah (Jambullah), and most surely I was of those who laughed to scorn. (Surah Sad 38:55-56)
The dictionary meaning of ‘jamb’ is the side rib, but here it has a metaphorical meaning. Most commentators have said that ‘fell short of my duty’ refers to a decrease in Allah’s obedience or in Allah’s proximity. It has come in many traditions that the ‘Jambullah’ is the metaphor of the holy Prophet and the guiding Imams (Peace be upon them) and their obedience and Wilayat.
Thus Ali Ibne Ibrahim have said in the Tafsir of both the verses that, what ‘has been revealed to you ‘ is the Quran and the ‘best’ thing mentioned in the Quran, is the Wilayat of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and the pure Imams (a.s.). That is why ‘Jambullah’ refers to the Imam.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said that we are ‘Jambullah’.
In Ihtijaj there is a tradition from Amirul Momineen (a.s.) that a person asked Ali (a.s.) the explanation of difficult verses of Quran. Imam replied: ‘Jambullah’ refers to the chosen ones and the friends of Allah. He wanted that to appoint a proof for them in the Quran so that the position of the Vicegerent of Allah and his nearness becomes apparent. Don’t you know that when a persons says that a person is sitting by the side of another person, it means he is a near one of him?
Similarly it a metaphor used in the Quran to show the nearness of special persons which the Imams appointed by Allah and their friends can understand and their enemies may not make any changes in it, and may not remove it from the Quran as other verses were excluded. Allah has made their eyes and hearts blind and they did not understand this verse.
From the same Hazrat it is narrated that he said: We are the treasurers of the religion of Allah and the lamps of His knowledge. Every Imams that leaves the world, another one appears to guide the people and that person is misguided who does injustice upon us. So do not be separated from us in greed of his things, because they would soon leave you. Whoever gives preference to this world over the hereafter or over us, on the day of the Judgement he shall have a great regret in his heart.
Kulaini has narrated from Imam Moosa Ibne Ja’far (a.s.) in the explanation of this verse that he said: ‘Jambullah’ is Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and after him his successors with that high status which they shall have till the end.
Also Amirul Momineen (a.s.) has said that: I am ‘Ainullah’ (eyes of Allah), ‘Yadullah’ (hands of Allah), ‘Jambullah’ (side of Allah), ‘Babullah’ (door of Allah).
Ibne Shahr Aashob has narrated from Abu Zar that the enemy of Ali (a.s.) would be brought blind and dumb and he would fall and get up again and again in the darkness of the day of the Judgement and continue to remember: O woe to me! For what I fell short of my duty to Allah (Jambullah). There would be a collar of fire around his neck.
Ayyashi has narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that Ali (a.s.) is the ‘Jambullah’.
Ibne Mahyar has related from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that: We are the ‘Jambullah’, Allah has made us from His Light, that is why when the unbelievers would be cast in Hell they shall say: O woe to me! For what I fell short of my duty to Allah (Jambullah). Alas! I did a mistake in not accepting the Wilayat (Mastership) of Muhammad (S) and his progeny.
In Maniul Akhbar and Tawheed it is narrated with authentic chains from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that Ali said in one of his sermons: I am the guided one and I am the father of orphans and the destitute and the husband of widows. I am the refuge for every weak one and the fort of safety for every fearful one. I am one to make the believers reach Paradise and I am the firm rope of Allah (Hablulla-ul-Matin) and I am the firmest handle (Urwatul Wuthqa). I am the ‘word of piety’, I am the eyes of Allah, the truthful tongue of Allah and the side of Allah regarding which Allah says: O woe to me! For what I fell short of the side of Allah (Jambullah). And I am the hands of Allah that Allah has made wide for His creatures for mercy and forgiveness and I am the gate of repentance ‘Bab-e-Hitta’ for this Ummat.
Whoever recognizes me and my right has recognized his Lord, because I am the Vicegerent of His Prophet (S) on the earth and the proof on His creations. Only those can deny it, those who reject the statements of Allah and His Prophet.
There is a tradition in Tawheed from other sources from the same Imam that Ali (a.s.) said: I am the knowledge of Allah, I am His knowledgeable heart, I am His seeing eyes, I am His speaking tongue, I am His side, I am His hands.
There are many traditions in the same strain. Some have been mentioned and some would be mentioned later. Insha Allah.
(وَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ) إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ لَهُ الْحُكْمُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ.
Except the face of Allah everything will get destroyed. (Surah Qasas 28:88)
Most commentators have said that ‘face’ means the self of Allah and everything would be destroyed before the day of Judgement and then created again. Some have said that it means the religion of Allah and His worship.
Ibne Babawayh in Tawheed has narrated from Ibne Khusaima that I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) about its explanation and he replied: The face of Allah is the religion of Allah and the Holy Prophet (S) and Amirul Momineen (a.s.) were the religion of Allah and creatures of Allah they were the eyes of Allah who used to see their action by the light of Allah and they were the tongue of Allah, as Allah used to converse through them. And these gentlemen used to convey the knowledge of Allah to His creatures.
And they were hands of Allah, that is they were His mercy upon His creatures and we are the face of Allah, as people can reach Allah through us. As long as Allah desires that the conditions of His creatures should remain all right He would keep us among and whenever He wants to punish them and does not see any goodness in them, He would remove us from them. After that He would send whatever chastisement He likes upon them.
There is another authentic tradition from the same Imam that: Allah has made us in the best creation and bestowed us the best form (face) and appointed us as the caretaker of His creatures and bestowed us a tongue that testifies for Him and made us His wide hands for His creatures and appointed us as the face of Allah as we guide the people towards Him. And we are the treasurers of Allah in the Heavens and the earth. By our blessings trees bear fruits and reach perfection, and rivers flow.
Due to our blessings rain falls from the sky and vegetation grows on the land. The worship of Allah is performed by witnessing our worship. If we were not there Allah would not have been worshipped. That we have taught the people the method of worshipping Allah as complete worship of Allah is not possible by others or because our Wilayat (Mastership) is a condition for acceptance of worship. If our Wilayat was not there no worship would have been accepted.
Ibne Shahr Aashob and other traditionists narrate with many chains of narrators from Imam Baqir and Sadiq (a.s.) on the explanation of this verse that: We are the face of Allah. One should go towards Allah from our side.
Ibne Mahyar and Saffar have narrated that Salaam bin Mustashar asked Imam Baqir (a.s.) about its explanation. The Hazrat said: By Allah, we are the face of Allah. We will remain till the day of Judgement, and would not be removed. Allah has ordered people regarding our obedience and Wilayat. Whenever one from us leaves this world, surely from us other one rises up for Imamate. This shall continue till the day of the Judgement. And according to the tradition of Saffar that he will not get destroyed on the day of Judgement, who believes in our Imamate and also obey and follow us.
Ali Ibne Ibrahim from authentic chains has narrated from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that he said in the explanation of this verse: Do the people think that everything would be destroyed and the face of Allah shall remain? Allah is greater than this, that He should be compared with qualities of His creatures. And that He should have a mouth like others. The verse means that everything will be destructible and mortal, but the religion of Allah would remain established, and we are that face, through which the religion of Allah and His recognition and His worship should be learnt.
Till Allah requires the creatures, that is, till He considers them fit for His worship and recognition, He would keep us amongst them and when He sees no goodness in His creatures, He would take us up towards His mercy and magnanimity. Then He would bring in action whatever He thinks to be fit.
Ibne Babawayh and Kulaini have narrated that Imam Baqir (a.s.) said: The oath that Allah had taken from our Prophet are we, the face of Allah who walk on the earth among you. Whoever recognized us has recognized us and whoever has not recognized, death is before him and he will recognize us after death, at that time the recognition would be of no use.
كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ. وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ.
Everyone on it must pass away, and there will endure forever the person of your Lord, the Lord of glory and honour. (Surah Rahman 55:26-27)
The majority says that ‘face of Allah’ is His divine Being and Ali Ibne Ibrahim has said that it means the religion of Allah.
From authentic chains Imam Ali Ibne Husain (a.s.) said that: We are the face of Allah, that due to us people turn towards Allah.
From authentic sources Imam Baqir (a.s.) says on Allah’s statement:
And there will endure forever the person of your Lord, the Lord of glory and honour. 55:27
Imam said: We are the glory of Allah, due to which Allah keeps His creatures honourable, although our obedience is obligatory on them.1