Love and hatred are two opposing sentiments which occur in man’s heart and mind. Inclination or disinclination that we feel in our hearts and souls is derived from these two opposing emotions.
We can deduce from logic and from evidence that has been transmitted to us in traditions that loving certain people is incumbent and binding upon man.
Allah, the Exalted, is the first of those for whom love is intrinsically incumbent upon man, because He possesses all the attributes of perfection and beauty, and all creatures are dependant upon him. Allah, the Exalted, says,
﴿ قُلْ إِنْ کانَ آباؤُکُمْ وَأَبْناؤُکُمْ وَإِخْوانُکُمْ وَأَزْواجُکُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُکُمْ وَأَموالٌ اقْتَرَفتُمُوها وَتِجارَةٌ تَخشَونَ کَسادَها وَمَساکِنُ تَرْضَونَها أَحَبَّ إِلَيکُمْ مِنَ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهادٍ في سَبيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتّی يأتِي اللهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفاسِقينَ ﴾
“Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kindred and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and the dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait until Allah brings about His command; and verily Allah does not guide the transgressing people.”1
2. Allah’s Prophet (S)
Among the people who have to be loved for the sake of Allah is the honorable and beloved Prophet, Muhammad (S). The reason for loving the Noble Prophet (S) is that he is the intermediary of all temporal and spiritual graces. It is for this reason that he has been mentioned immediately after the name of Allah in the above-mentioned verse and it has been ordered that he, too, must be loved.
The Prophet of Islam (S) says,
«اَحِبُّوا اللهَ لما يغذوکمْ وَأَحِبُّوني بحُبِّ الله...»
“You must love Allah because he gives you all sustenance, and love me for the sake of Allah…”2
Moreover, the lofty spiritual virtues and moral perfection of the Noble Prophet (S) attract the love and affection of the hearts of all believers.
3. The Prophet’s Household [Ahl al-Bayt]
There is plentiful emphasis in the Qur’an and in Islamic traditions of both Sunnis and Shi‘ahs that believers must show their love and affection towards the people of the Prophet’s Household, not just because they are the Prophet’s offspring but because they posses the same lofty moral virtues, spiritual attainments and moral perfections as the Prophet.
In other words, they possess all the attributes of perfection and beauty in a comprehensive manner. Putting it more accurately, they are the very manifestation of Allah’s attributes of perfection and beauty. Therefore, showing heartfelt love and affection towards these lofty personalities in fact means loving the excellence that has manifested itself in them in a complete and perfect manner. The source of this good and excellence is Allah, the Exalted.
Therefore, expressing affection and devotion to the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (as) is tantamount to loving and being devoted to Allah, the Exalted.
Loving good and virtuous people compels and drives man towards noble virtues because love is a force that drives man to his Beloved, and therefore he strives to conduct himself in the way that his Beloved approves. Loving exemplary models, especially Allah’s awliya’, is extremely beneficial from the aspect of personal training and self-purification.
When we study scholars’ books of etymology and terminology, we come to know that what is meant by term Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (S) are certain special and distinguished people. When we refer to books of tradition [hadith], we understand that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) do not comprise all the genealogical and causal relatives of the Holy Prophet (S). In other words, the term Ahl al-Bayt does not include all the ancestral relatives nor those related to the Prophet through marriage.
In his book entitled, “Lisan al-‘Arab”, Ibn Manzur Ifriqi says, “The Ahl al-Bayt of a person are those people who are nearest to him. The Ahl al-Bayt are people who are gathered together by genealogy and religion.”3
Ahl al-Bayt has been employed for certain special people in the Holy Qur’an and the traditions. The term has been used for the Holy Prophet (S), Imam ‘Ali (as), Fatimah al-Zahra (as), al-Hasan (as), al-Husayn (as) and the remaining pure offspring, the nine Infallibles from the progeny of Imam al-Husayn (as). Umm Salamah says, “When the ayah, ‘Allah only intends to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O people of the house, and to purify you a thorough purifying.’ was revealed to the Prophet (S), he summoned ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn (as) and said, ‘These are my Ahl al-Bayt’.”4
Imam al-Husayn (as) said,
«إنّا اَهْلُ بَيْتِ النُّبُوَّةِ.»
“We are the Ahl al-Bayt of the Holy Prophet (S).”5
On his authorized chain of narration, Muslim quotes ‘A’ishah narrating, “One morning the Prophet (S) left my house with a piece of cloth called “Kisa” woven out of black wool hanging on his shoulder.
Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali joined the Prophet and was permitted to enter the Kisa. Then, al-Husayn joined them and was permitted to enter the Kisa also. After him came Fatimah and the Prophet made her enter the Kisa as well. Lastly, ‘Ali came and he too was permitted to enter the Kisa. Then, the Holy Prophet (S) recited the Qur’anic verse,
﴿ اَنَّما يُريدُ اللهُ لِيذْهِبَ عَنْکُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ البَيْتِ وَيطَهِّرَکُمْ تَطْهيراً ﴾
‘Allah only intends to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O people of the house, and to purify you a thorough purifying’.”6
Ahmad ibn Hanbal says, “When the Verse of Mubahalah was revealed to the Holy Prophet (S), he called for ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn. Then, he said, ‘O my Lord! These are my Ahl al-Bayt!’”7
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah, the Exalted, says,
﴿ ... قُلْ لا اَسأَلُکُمْ عَلَيْهِ اَجْراً إِلاَّ المَوَدَّةِ فِي الْقُرْبي... ﴾
“… Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love of my near relatives…”8
This Qur’anic verse is popularly known as “the Verse of Love” [mawaddah]. In most books of Qur’anic commentary, Islamic traditions and history, the Verse of Love is known to have been revealed about the Ahl al-Bayt.
Suyuti has interpreted this verse. While commenting on it, he quotes from Ibn ‘Abbas, “When this verse was revealed to the Noble Prophet (S), his companions asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Who are your near relatives, the ones whom loving has been made incumbent upon us?’ The Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘Ali and Fatimah and their two children’.”9
After praising and glorifying Allah in a sermon that he delivered after the martyrdom of Imam ‘Ali (as), Imam al-Hasan (as) said,
... وأنا من أهلِ البيتِ الّذي افترض الله مودّتهم علی کلِّ مسلم، فقال تبارك وتعالي: ﴿ قُلْ لا اَسْأَلُکُمْ عَلَيْهِ اَجْراً إِلاَّ المَوَدَّةِ فِي الْقُرْبي وَمَنْ يقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَةً نَزِدْ لَهُ فيها حُسْناً ﴾ فاقتراف الحسنة مودّتنا أهل البيت.
“… And I am one of the Ahl al-Bayt, whose love Allah has made incumbent upon every Muslim. Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has said, ‘Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love of my near relatives; and whoever earns good, We increase for him good therein…’ Therefore, doing good works manifests your love of the Ahl al-Bayt.”
Imam al-Sadiq (as) asked Abi Ja‘far Ahwal, “What do the people of Basrah say about this verse, ‘Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love of my near relatives…’” Abi Ja‘far Ahwal answered, “May I be your ransom, they say that this verse was revealed regarding the status of all the relatives of the Holy Prophet (S).”
Imam al-Sadiq (as) said, “They speak falsehood! This verse was revealed only regarding the Ahl al-Bayt, ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, the companions of the Kisa.”10
The exclusiveness of this verse is additional, not real. Therefore, the verse also includes the remaining Imams (as).
Crying and shedding tears has been mentioned in many hadiths recounted by the different sects of Islam. In the hadiths, just like in the Gracious Qur’an, love for the Ahl al-Bayt has been emphasized in a clear and explicit manner.
We shall now refer to some of the relevant traditions:
The Holy Prophet (S) said,
“Instruct and train your children to have three characteristics; love for your Prophet, love for the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt and reciting the Holy Qur’an.”11
Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam ‘Ali (as), said,
“The best of good works is loving us and the worst of bad works is hating us the Ahl al-Bayt.”12
Allah’s Prophet (S) has said,
“You should love Allah because he gives you sustenance from his bounties. You should love me because of your love for Allah, and you should love my Ahl al-Bayt because of your love for me.”13
Zayd ibn Arqam said, “I was in the presence of Allah’s Prophet when I saw Fatimah al-Zahra enter the Prophet’s house along with her two children al-Hasan and al-Husayn. ‘Ali came after them and entered the house as well. The Prophet looked at them and said,
«من أحبّ هؤلاءِ فقد أحبّني، ومن أبغضهم فقد أبغضني.»
‘The one who loves these people has loved me, and anyone who hates them has hated me’.”14
Imam al-Sadiq (as) said,
“Anyone who recognizes our right, and loves us, has in reality loved Allah, the Blessed and Exalted.”15
The Prophet of Allah has said,
«أساسُ الإسلامِ حبّي وحبِّ أهلِ بيتي.»
“The basis and foundation of Islam is love for me and my Ahl al-Bayt.”16
He also said,
«لکلّ شيءٍ أساسٌ، وأساسُ الإسلامِ حبُّنا أهل البيت.»
“There is a base for everything, and the foundation of Islam is love of us, the Ahl al-Bayt.”17
Allah’s Prophet (S) said,
«حبُّ آلِ محمّدٍ يوماً خيرٌ من عبادةِ سنةٍ، ومن ماتَ عليهِ دخلَ الجنّةَ.»
“One day of loving Muhammad’s Ahl al-Bayt is better than one year of worship. Anyone who dies loving the Ahl al-Bayt will enter the Paradise.”18
Allah’s Prophet (S) said,
«لا يؤمنُ عبدٌ حتّی أکونَ أحبَّ إليهِ من نفسِه، وأهلي أحبُّ إليهِ من أهلهِ، وعترتي أحبُّ إليهِ من عترتِهِ، وذاتي أحبُّ إليهِ من ذاتهِ.»
“None of Allah’s servants attain complete faith unless he loves me more than he loves himself, loves my Ahl al-Bayt more than he loves his own family, loves my progeny more than he loves his own progeny, and loves my essence more than he loves his own essence.”19
6. Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is a sign of purity of birth
The Holy Prophet (S) pointed at ‘Ali (as) and said,
«أيها الناس! إمتحنوا أولادکم بحبّه، فإنّ علياً لايدعو إلی ضلالةٍ، ولا يبعدُ عن هديًّ، فمن أحبّهُ فهو منکم، ومن أبغضه فليس منکم.»
“O people! Test your children with love for ‘Ali, because he does not invite you to misguidance and he does not keep you away from guidance. Therefore, anyone of your children who loves ‘Ali is from you and anyone of them who does not love ‘Ali is not yours.”20
Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) said, “In his last will and testament to Abu Dharr, the Noble Prophet (S) instructed him thus,
«يا أباذر! من أحبّنا أهلَ البيت فليحمداللهَ علی أوّل النعم. قال: يا رسولَ اللهِ! وما أوّلُ النعمِ؟ قال: طيبّ الولادةِ، انّه لا يحبّنا إلاّ من طابَ مولدهُ.»
‘O Abu Dharr! Anyone who loves us, the Ahl al-Bayt, must praise Allah for being granted the foremost blessing. Abu Dharr asked, ‘What is the foremost blessing?’ The Holy Prophet (S) answered, ‘Purity and legitimacy of birth, because no one loves us unless his birth was pure and legitimate’’.”21
7. Love of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) inquired on the Day of Judgement
Allah’s Prophet (S) said,
«أوّل ما يسألُ عنه العبدُ حبّنا أهلَ البيتِ.»
“The first thing on the Day of Resurrection to be asked from any of Allah’s servants is about their love for us, the Ahl al-Bayt.”22
He also said,
«لا تزولُ قدما عبدٍ يومَ القيمةِ حتّی يُسألَ عن أربعٍ: عن عمرِهِ فيما أفناهُ، وعن جسدِهِ فيما أبلاهُ، وعن ما له فيما أنفقَهُ ومن أينَ کسَبهُ، وعن حبّنا أهلَ البيتِ.»
“On the Day of Resurrection, none of Allah’s servants will take a step forward unless he is asked about four things: how he spent his life, in what way he used his body, in what way he earned his wealth and spent it, and whether he loved us, the Ahl al-Bayt, or not.”23
The hadiths which we have so far mentioned refer to love for the Ahl al-Bayt (as) in general. There is another group of hadiths which allude to love and affection for some of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) in particular. We will now recount these hadiths:
1. Love of Imam ‘Ali (as)
The Holy Prophet (S) has said,
براءةٌ من النّارِ حبُّ عليًّ.
“The only way to gain salvation from the hell fire is to love ‘Ali.”24
Allah’s Prophet (S) also said,
«يا عليُّ! طوبي لمن احبّك وصدق فيك، وويلٌ لمن أبغضك وکذب فيکك.»
“O ‘Ali! Happy and blessed is the man who loves you and is sincere in recognizing your right and woe on any person who hates you and is a deceitful liar who does not recognize your right.”25
Umm Salamah narrates that she heard the Holy Prophet (S) say,
«لا يحبّ علياً منافقّ، ولا يبغضه مؤمنٌ.»
“No hypocrite loves ‘Ali and no true believer hates him.”26
Imam ‘Ali (as) said,
«والذي فلقَ الحبةَ وبرأ النسمةَ، إنّه لعهدَ النّبي الأمّي إليَّ انّه لا يحبّني إلاّ مؤمنٌ، ولا يبغضني إلاّ منافقٌ.»
“I swear upon He who split the seed and created man, the Prophet verily promised me that no one will love me except the true believer, and no one will hate me except the hypocrite.”27
2. Love of Fatimah al-Zahra (as)
Allah’s Prophet (S) said,
«فاطمةُ بضعةٌ منّي، من أغضَبها فقد أغضبني.»
“Fatimah is part of me. Whoever makes her angry, angers me.”28
It was asked of ‘A’ishah, “Who among the women was more beloved by the Holy Prophet?” She answered, “Fatimah.” They again asked her, “Who from among the men was more beloved by the Holy Prophet?” She answered, “Fatimah’s husband.”29
3. Love of Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Husayn (as)
The Holy Prophet (S) said about al-Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as),
«هذان ابناي الحسنُ والحسينُ، أللّهم إنّي أُحبُّهما، أللّهم فأحبَّهما وأحبّ من يحبُّهما.»
“These two are my children. O Lord! I love these two. O Lord! May you too love them and love anyone who loves them.”30
He also said,
«الحسنُ والحسينُ ريحانتايَ.»
“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are my two fragrant flowers.”31
The love of a person who loves another is not confined to the heart and soul only. As has already been mentioned, love requires a practical application. The practical application of love is a source of manifestation in a person’s life, and it follows that if love for a person gains precedence, its manifestations and practical appearance are also promoted.
The logic of preference also includes practical applications of love, except in certain instances where manifesting love has been forbidden like in the case where it is implied that a person must bring about his own destruction or ruin for the sake of his beloved. This has been forbidden because there is no logic for its preference.
Now, we refer to some logical manifestations of love:
1. Submission and obedience.
2. Honoring and visiting the beloved.
3. Revering and paying tribute to the beloved.
4. Granting the needs and requirements of the beloved.
5. Defending the beloved in diverse ways.
6. Feeling sorrow because of separation from the beloved.
7. Preserving the literary and non-literary works of the beloved.
8. Respecting the children and descendants of the beloved.
9. Kissing that which is associated with the beloved.
10. Organising ceremonies to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the beloved.
One can easily see that holding mourning ceremonies is also one of the necessities and manifestations of love for the Ahl al-Bayt (as).