Ziyarat Ashura is among the soundly transmitted supplications that come down to us from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and are recited at visitations to the holy burial places of the Chosen Ones (‘a) and other occasions. It has been related by Ibn Qulawayh (may God have mercy on him) in Kamil al-Ziyarat through an acceptable chain of transmission, a standard which he maintained throughout the narrations of his book. It has also been reported by Sheikh al-Tusi (may God have mercy on him) and other veritable narrators of hadith.
It is the persistent practice of the faithful to recite this supplication throughout the year, and with it declare their association with the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and their disassociation with their enemies. Through this supplication the faithful openly show their loyalty to Husayn (‘a) and his family, and repudiate their adversaries in the decisive battle that took place in Karbala in 61 A.H. between Husayn (‘a), his family and companions on one side and the Umayyads on the other. This supplication is replete with the concepts of loyalty and repudiation, association and separation, greetings of peace and cursing.
The day of Ashura was a day full of faith, sincerity, service and values, but the most prominent feature of this day was loyalty to God, His Messenger (S) and those vested with authority, and also a repudiation of their enemies. This loyalty and repudiation was demonstrated by Husayn's companions through their rare act of sacrifice in Karbala. This place witnessed the most marvelous scenes of sacrifice, freedom, resistance and struggle in history which were the fruits of loyalty and repudiation.
In this rare and wonderful scene of loyalty and repudiation we also witness rare instances which depict values and morals that are responsible for drawing the attention of the people to the event for the last thirteen centuries. The morals and values depicted include faith, monotheism, freedom, love for God and struggle for His sake, hate for God's sake, remembrance [of God], renouncing of the world, sincerity, gratitude, piety, altruism, allegiance, self-esteem, strength, courage, patience, far-sightedness, acute discernment and much more that we are not aware of, which history recorded for us concerning the blessed party that accompanied Husayn (‘a) on his journey to God on the day of Ashura and prior to that.
Beauty attracts man wherever it may be: in nature, in society, in forms and figures or in values, morals and meaning. It is amazing that we find loyalty and repudiation in the camp that was opposed to Husayn (‘a) as well, although in a completely opposite direction: loyalty to taghut and repudiation of God's friends, and loyalty to the party of Satan and repudiation of the party of God.
As loyalty and repudiation are reversed, values and morals follow suit; both follow God's norms. Thus we witness these opposites within the camp that fought Husayn (‘a): heedlessness to God as opposed to remembering him, polytheism as opposed to monotheism, selfishness as opposed to altruism, cowardice as opposed to courage, weakness as opposed to strength, ingratitude as opposed to gratefulness, sin as opposed to piety, love for God's enemies and hate for His friends as opposed to love for God and for His sake and hate for His sake, egocentrism as opposed to concern for others, meanness as opposed to generosity, humiliation as opposed to self-esteem and honour, anxiety as opposed to patience, treachery as opposed to loyalty.
We witness these and other negative values of that camp as opposed to the positive ones that abound in Husayn's camp. In this camp, after his right hand had been cut off by the enemy, al-Abbas raises this battle cry.
‘By God if they cut off my right hand, I will forever defend my religion,
And [defend] the Imam who is certain in faith.’
From the other camp we read that when Shimr, the killer of Husayn (‘a) met Ibn Ziyad and, requested a prize, said:
‘Make my mount heavy with silver or with gold, [for] I have killed the cultured lord.
I have killed the man with the best father and mother, and the best of men when genealogies are mentioned.’1
These two opposing loyalties and repudiations that we see on the day of Ashura in Karbala, issuing from the two contending camps will continue throughout history among the supporters of Husayn and the supporters of the Umayyads.
We read in history that some people endure all kinds of suffering and tyranny, and the distress of travel in order to visit the grave of Husayn (‘a). Others demolished the structures in its precincts and also inundated it, so that the signs which mark the resting place of Husayn (‘a) might be effaced. In addition, they killed the pilgrims and cut off their hands to prevent people from visiting the tomb of Husayn (‘a) in the past, [and blow them up today with bombs].
The most prominent peculiarities of this arena with regard to loyalty and repudiation are three:
It was a field which inherited loyalty and repudiation. These two were not new to this theatre; it inherited them from earlier theatres in the long struggle between the prophets and their followers on one side and the despots on the other. Secondly, it was a separating theatre that classified the people since 61 A.H., into two distinct groups that are opposed on the question of loyalty and repudiation.
Thirdly, it was a legator from which we inherit loyalty and repudiation. Had it not been for this legacy which we received from Karbala these twin concepts would not have been preserved for us. The Umayyads corrupted loyalty and repudiation just as they corrupted many of the fundamentals and laws of religion. They robbed the people of their loyalty and repudiation by deflecting their courses. Through his death and the death of that band of his family members and companions, Husayn (‘a) restored the two to their rightful places. Below is an exposition of these three peculiarities:
The battle theatre of Al-Taff was that of confrontation between truth and falsehood, monotheism and polytheism; a call towards servitude and submission to God, and an invitation to taghut, and empowering it over the people by enslaving them. This was the fiercest and the most desperate type of confrontation in history because it was a struggle on the question of loyalty and repudiation between loyalty to God and repudiation of taghut on one side and loyalty to taghut on the other.
This encounter was not new that started in Karbala in 61 A.H, rather it was an extension of the contest of civilizations that run along the lines of accepting and denouncing, with the prophets and their followers on one side and despots, dictators and their courtiers on the other.
Husayn (‘a) was in the line of the prophets and their followers while the Umayyads, their helpers and governors took the path of the oppressors and despotic rulers. Historians inform us that when Imam Husayn (‘a) was leaving Medina he was repeatedly mentioning John, the son of Zachariah, and his murder.
The values which distinguished Husayn's camp at Karbala were the same values and norms which characterized the prophets’ camp in history. These values were belief in monotheism, remembrance of God, piety, sincerity, denouncing the world and its glory; perseverance and sacrifice in the path of God, establishing the prayer, paying zakat, bidding the good and forbidding the bad, waging jihad on the oppressors, justice and kindness.
By contrast, the traits that characterized the Umayyad camp in Karbala were the same traits of the camp of oppressors, despots and dictators throughout history. Husayn's (‘a) companions spent the night before the 10th of Muharram droning like bees [on account of their worship]. Some were standing, some sitting, some bowing and some prostrating themselves.2
‘On them were signs of devouts who were humble before God as dawn came over them.
And when morning came the glitter of sharp swords testified to their being freemen.’
Fatima daughter of Husayn (‘a) said: "My aunt Zaynab spent all that night standing in her prayer niche pleading for succour from her Lord. By God our eyes did not find sleep nor did the sounds [of our prayers] abate."3
Such was the case in Husayn's (‘a) camp. They were yearning to meet God, denouncing the world and its vanities, and they were glad because they were going to meet martyrdom in God's way. Their eagerness reached the extent that one of them was cracking jokes with his friends on that night. Burayr cracked a joke with Abdurrahman al-Ansari and the latter said to him: This is no time to jest. Burayr replied: “My people know that I never liked to jest, neither as a middle-aged man nor as a young man, but [it is because] I am delighted by what we shall meet. By God, there is nothing between us and the houris except their swords. I wish that they would attack us now.”4
The only concern of the other party was to get gold, silver, governorships and presents in exchange for fighting the son of the daughter of God's Messenger (S). Umar ibn Sa'ad undertook the fight with an eye on the governorship of Al-Rayy. Al-Yafi’i says: And he promised the said governor (Umar ibn Sa'ad) to make him ruler of the city of al-Rayy and the sinner sold guidance in exchange for error.
These are two attitudes, two cultures, two methods in life. They are two ways of acting and two norms, and they are distinct from one another throughout the history of confrontation between the party of God and the party of taghut. Despite the fact that as time passes the features and forms of methods and practices do change but the essence of these two norms, cultures and methods remain the same. These two norms are the norm of God's friends and their methodology and that of taghut and its methodology.
We find this great disparity between these two methods, cultures and norms clearly portrayed in the theatre of Karbala in a confrontation between two camps only a few metres apart. We read in the supplication of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) which is known as Ziyarat Amin Allah:
“[O God] Make my soul assured with Your decree, pleased with what You predestined, [make it] follow the ways of Your friends, and separate me from the character of your enemies.”
They are two norms and two methods. We pray to God the Exalted to make us follow the practice of His friends and separate us from the norms of His enemies. Surely the battle theatre of Al-Taff was an extension of the arena of confrontation in the history of the prophets, and Husayn (‘a) took the positions taken by the prophets, testamentary legatees (awsiya’) and God's friends, while the Umayyads took the positions of the imperious despots of history. So the loyalty was the same and the repudiation was also the same.
This arena truly inherited the theatre in the strictest sense of the term. All values and their contraries, all loyalty and repudiation had been transported from the depth of history to the time of Husayn (‘a). The more deep-rooted loyalty and repudiation are, the deeper, firmer, stronger and more intense a product of awareness they become. Indeed loyalty and repudiation in Husayn's (‘a) camp in Karbala carried all the strength and awareness of the loyalty and repudiation that accumulated during the history of the prophets.
It is for a specific reason that the greetings of peace to Husayn (‘a) in Ziyarat Warith took this wonderful wording that depicts his position in Karbala. It came with the expression ‘heir of the prophets’:
Peace be on you O heir of Adam, God's chosen one!
Peace be on you O heir of Noah, God's prophet.
Peace be on you O heir of Abraham, God's friend.
Peace be on you O heir of Moses, the interlocutor of God.
Peace be on you O heir of Jesus, spirit of God.
Peace be on you O heir of Muhammad, the beloved of God.
The day of Ashura was a day of separation in history. The greatest days of separation for this nation are Badr, Siffin and Al-Taff. The days of separation divide the people into two spheres of confrontation and spare no one. On the day of Al-Taff the people were well-informed about truth and falsehood, guidance and deviation with respect to the conflict; the matter was not ambiguous to anyone on the battle field. The matter was too clear for the Umayyads to have been able to obfuscate it by their propaganda. Whoever took to deviation on that day must have followed misguidance with full knowledge and no one got misguided because of having confused truth with falsehood.
On the day of Ashura, Husayn (‘a) stood between the battle lines and addressed the Umayyad army saying:
"O people! Tell me: who am I? Then search your souls and rebuke yourselves, and see whether it is permissible for you to kill me and violate my sanctity. Am I not the son of the daughter of your Prophet (S) and the son of his legatee who was his cousin, the first believer in God who accepted what His Messenger brought from his Lord? Was not Hamza, Lord of the martyrs, my [father's] uncle? Was Ja'far al-Tayyar not my uncle? Has not the saying of God's Messenger about me and my brother saying ‘These two are lords of the youths of paradise’, reached you? If you believe what I say [well and good]– and it is the truth, for by God I have never told a lie since I knew that God detests the one who lies and that it harms its fabricator –.
"If you disbelieve me, there are among you those who will tell you if you ask. Ask Jabir ibn Abdillah al-Ansari, Abu Sa'id al-Khidri, Sahl ibn Sa'ad al-Sa'idi, Zayd ibn Arqam and Anas ibn Malik. They will tell you that they have heard this saying of God's Messenger (S) concerning me and my brother. Is this not deterrent enough for you against spilling my blood?"
Then Shimr said: ‘I must be worshipping God on a fringe if I know what he is saying.’
Habib ibn Muzahir said to him: ‘By God, I think you: are: worshipping God on seventy fringes. I bear witness that you are saying the truth that you do not know what he is saying, for God has put a seal on your heart.’5
The plainness of truth and falsehood, and also guidance and deviation in this arena had divided it on that day into two groups, on the basis of loyalty and repudiation. Whoever stood by Husayn (‘a), his family and companions was showing loyalty to God, His Messenger (S) and the Imams (‘a) of the Muslims after him, and repudiating Yazid and his governors, soldiers and courtiers.
Whoever did not stand by Husayn (‘a) on that day, his loyalty must have been for Yazid and his repudiation against God's party. The pretext of confusion or ignorance could be accepted from no one. The pretext of one who sat on the fence, who was indifferent to what was happening on the battlefield, could also not be accepted.
Therefore whoever knew that Husayn (‘a) had sought for help in order to support God's religion and heard his call but neither supported him nor got enraged and aggrieved on account of him, nor attempted to defend him, must have in fact been pleased with those people's action and automatically fell within the sphere of those to be cursed and repudiated. In Ziarat Warith we read:
May God curse the people who killed you...
May God curse the people who oppressed you ...
May God curse the people who heard of that and accepted it.
These are part of the peculiarities of the days of separation in history which separate the people completely. The dividing line here is loyalty and repudiation which divides the people into two camps and does not accept the position of spectators who stand on the periphery of the battlefield, preferring their well-being. Those who remain observers when conflicts break out might think that they can escape their religion if they avoid both camps, but they do not know that they are entering headlong into predicament! God the Exalted said:
"Look! They have already fallen into predicament..." (9:49).
May God have mercy on Zuhayr ibn al-Qayn for he had full awareness and insight on the day he went out towards them [the enemy] riding his long-tailed horse and well-armed. He said: "O people of Kufa! Beware of God's punishment! Beware! Indeed it is the duty on a Muslim to advice his brother Muslim and we are still brothers following one religion, so long as the sword has not come down between us. You deserve our admonition, but when the sword descends [all] bonds will be severed and we will become one nation and you another.
God has tested us and you with the descendants of His prophet Muhammad (S) to see our action and yours. We are inviting you to help them and abandon these despots Yazid and Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad for you will not get anything from them except harm, as long as their power lasts. They will gorge out your eyes, cut off your hands and feet, mutilate you and hang you on the trunks of palm trees. They will kill your exemplars and those versed in the Qur'an among you, like Hujr ibn 'Adi, and Hani ibn Urwa and their types."
The people reviled him and praised Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad and added: "We shall not depart until we kill your man and those who are with him or unless we send him along with his companions to Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad in submission."
Then Zuhayr said: "Servants of God! The son of Fatima is more entitled to love and support than the son of Sumayyah. But if you do not help them, I commend you to God's care that you should not kill them. Open the way between the man and Yazid, for by my life, Yazid will be contented with your obedience without you killing al-Husayn (‘a).
Then Shimr shot an arrow at him and said: "Keep quiet! May God silence your noise! We are fed up with your prattle."
Zuhayr said: "O son of the one who urinates on his heels! I am not talking to you because you are only an animal. I do not think that you have learnt even two verses of the Book of God. Know that the humiliation of the Day of Resurrection and a painful chastisement awaits you. Then he [Zuhayr] turned to the people and said loudly:
"Servants of God! Do not be seduced into leaving your religion for that uncouth man and his ilk. By God, the intercession of Muhammad (S) will not include a people who spill the blood of his descendants and his family and kill those who help them and defend their women folk."
Then a man from his camp called Zuhayr saying: "Abu Abdillah [i.e. Imam Husayn] is saying: Come back. By my life, you have advised these people, as if a believer of Pharaoh’s people had admonished his people and intensified his plea, if only advice and conveyance [of information] is of any avail."6
We inherited loyalty and repudiation from the battle theatre of Al-Taff on the day of Ashura. Had it not been for Ashura we ourselves would not have been acquainted with loyalty and repudiation except loyalty for the rulers and the kings however they might be; and repudiation of their enemies whoever they were, since loyalty would then have been the prerogative of the man who handled the whip even if he was unjust, and repudiation would have been against the one who opposed him even if he invited people to God and His Messenger (S).
Certainly, the Umayyads had corrupted the concepts of loyalty and repudiation which caused the corruption and destruction of everything in this nation. A nation is, according to the soundest definition, nothing but loyalty and repudiation. The Umayyads knew this fact very well and they also knew the effect an attack on these two pillars would have on the nation's existence.
May God have mercy on al-Farazdaq! When the Imam met him on the way and asked him about the people he left behind, he replied: "You have asked the one who is conversant with the issue. Their hearts are with you but their swords are against you."
This is the first step towards destroying loyalty and repudiation and the next one is when the corrupting and destroying shifts from the swords and external stances to the hearts; to love and hate, and this means everything with regard to loyalty and repudiation.
The Umayyads had aimed at the most important things for a nation's existence and corrupted them and robbed the people of them. To ruin the loyalty and repudiation of the people they had to rob them of their conscience, their will and also their resistance, and when people lose these three things nothing will remain of them except dross.
The story of this assault is long and we will not go into detail here. We have done that in our book Warith al-Anbiya’.
Husayn (‘a) had envisaged this painful and unfortunate situation when he said in a speech that was all grief and pain, as he described the tragedy of the Muslims of that period: "The world has changed beyond recognition: its good has turned away and nothing remains of it except the drops [that remain in a container when it is emptied of its water] and a despicable life like unwholesome pasture. Don’t you see that truth is not acted upon and falsehood is not refrained from?"
Husayn (‘a) had no option but to fight the despots himself, with his family and companions even if they were few in number. Through his tragic death he was able to achieve two important things for Islam and the Muslims. These achievements were:
- Restoration of awareness, will and resistance in Muslim minds.
- Stripping Umayyad rule of legitimacy.
Indeed the death of al-Husayn (‘a) together with that blessed party comprising his family and companions had caused a deep jolt on the languid Muslim souls of that day. Those people had left Husayn (‘a) with only a small band of his family and companions, and looked on as the awful war broke out between him and the despots, without taking the slightest action.
The tragic way in which Husayn died, jolted the Muslim conscience which had been suspended by Umayyad misrule. It restored their will, awareness and resistance, and this was the greater of the two achievements. The second one is that it stripped Umayyad government of legitimacy. They were ruling the Muslims from the position of Successor (khalifah) to the Messenger of God (S) and it was from that position that they derived their legitimacy. They also distorted the laws, values and principles of this religion by invoking this very position.
When Husayn (‘a) went out to fight that tyrant and was martyred by the forces of the Umayyads the people came to know that God's Messenger (S), His religion and his nation all denounced the Umayyads. Although Umayyad rule continued even after Husayn's death it became like any other ruling family or temporal rulers and kings: they no longer represented vicegerency to the Messenger of God (S) in the minds of the Muslims.
Since that date the Muslims recognized two different lines: the line of the jurists and the line of the rulers. In the opinion of the Muslims, the line of the jurists was the legitimate one, except when they obeyed the rulers. This is as far as the Sunni sphere is concerned. With the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) the issue was much clearer.
Were it not for Husayn's death, the people would not have known the religion except through the palaces of the Umayyads which were filled with luxury, sports, music, oppression and murder. If the martyrdom of Husayn and his family and companions had not taken place nothing would have remained of Islam but its name. It is just like what Husayn (‘a) said to Marwan on the day he invited him to pay allegiance to Yazid:
"Farewell to Islam if the nation is put to test with [the rule of] a herdsman like Yazid"
The text that is known as Ziyarat Ashura forcefully and clearly embodies loyalty and repudiation as it should be and crystallizes all the loyalty and repudiation that abounded in the battlefield of Al-Taff and has drawn people towards it since that wonderful historic day in the year 61 A.H. When one reads the text of Ziyarat Ashura one strongly senses a feeling of coexistence with it since that very day, and it is a feeling that is known and felt by those who are accustomed to and constantly read this text. The tragic words that appear in this ziyarah truly, precisely and subtly convey our emotional and transparent coexistence with the tragedy of Al-Taff:
“The calamity is surely grievous; very heavy and distressing indeed is your tribulation on us and on all the people of Islam; heavy and distressing indeed is your tribulation on the heavens and on all its inhabitants...– How great a tribulation it is and how great a calamity it is for Islam, for all the heavens and the earth!”
It is on purpose that the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and the scholars of their school emphasize the constant recitation of this ziyarah. Reading this text transports us to the Ashura environment and conveys to us the meanings of loyalty and repudiation that abound in Ashura. It also conveys to us the values that overflow from them and consolidate those concepts in our souls. Loyalty and repudiation draws the distantly related near and pushes close relations away.
The ideas I am putting down in this discussion are some meditations about loyalty and repudiation as they appear in Ziyarat Ashura, in the hope that God may bestow on us their flavour and the lofty concepts which this ziyarah is full of. The following ideas derived from it have been meditated upon:
Loyalty and repudiation cover the whole scope of man's life, time, place and geography. I do not know of a situation that covers man's life the way this one does. They divide history into two parts, a part for God's friends and another part for God's enemies.
We are now living with Abraham (‘a), Noah (‘a), Moses (‘a), Jesus (‘a), God's Messenger (S) and the Imams (‘a) from his family who came after him, the guided, the guides. We pay allegiance to them and follow their guidance the same way as if we were living with them in their own times, and we hope to remain together with them both here and in the hereafter. On the other hand we turn to God in repudiation of Pharaoh, Haman, Nimrod, the Sabbath-breakers, Men of the Ditch and the murderers of the Israeli prophets, and we also repudiate Abu Sufyan, Abu Jahl, Muawiyya and Yazid, as though we were present during their times.
The interposing centuries and epochs of history do not obscure our loyalty to the first group nor our repudiation of the second. It is a peculiarity of loyalty and repudiation that they transcend epochs and centuries to join the ends of a single journey over the ages. We feel today the grief for Husayn (‘a)'s ordeals and death in Karbala as if the tragic incident happened in our own lives.
Similarly, these two issues transcend geography. Today we are partners to the Muslims of Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Chechnya, Pakistan and Iraq in the tyranny, suffering, murder and deprivation which they are enduring at the hands of God's enemies, as if these things are happening to us and our families. In the same vein, we are hostile to Israel and America as if they are carrying out aggression against our own families and homes.
Indeed loyalty and repudiation draws near the distant ones and separates those who are near one another. Many a brother is hostile towards his full brother but loyal and sympathetic to his brothers in religion, although not in blood, in faraway parts of the earth without seeing them, knowing their names or even seeing their pictures. Loyalty and repudiation joins Salman al-Farisi with the Prophetic Household and separates Abu Lahab from it, expelling and condemning him. "Perish the hands of Abu Lahab and Perish he!"(111:1).
Thus loyalty and repudiation transcend time and place and cover the domains of history and geography. They also cover the scope of man's life: his soul, his heart, his intellect, his education, his social relations, his political life, his war and his peace. No aspect of his life, his behaviour, personality and thought, his love, hate and desire and all that surrounds him, remains outside the scope of loyalty and repudiation.
In Ziyarat Ashura we meet wonderful scenes of loyalty and repudiation that spread over all dimensions of man's life. Some examples of them are cited below:
This is an extensive topic that affects maintaining or severing of relationships, love and hate. It is mentioned repeatedly in Ziyarat Ashura:
"I am seeking proximity to God through paying allegiance to you and repudiating those who fought you and declared war on you. I am friendly to the one who is loyal to you and hostile to the one who is hostile to you."
The contrast between loyalty and repudiation, and loyalty and hostility accurately explains a believer's stand in the theatre of confrontation that extends over the ages till today. Loyalty to the family of God's Messenger (S) and hostility to their enemies - the matter could not have been more explicit!
This loyalty turns into peace in social relations and also into pleas of expulsion from the sphere of God's mercy and severing of social relations. In Ziyarat Ashura we read: "Peace be on you, O son of the Messenger of God (S)! Peace be on you, O son of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a)! Peace be on you, O son of Fatima al-Zahra (‘a)! May God curse the people who laid the foundation of inequity and oppression against you, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). May God curse the people who pushed you away from your positions and removed you from the ranks which God has assigned you."
Greetings are a declaration of love, affection, cooperation and acting peaceably toward a person. A curse is a declaration of separation and severing of ties and expulsion.
Loyalty and repudiation are an amazing affair. They start from intentions, hearts, culture, publicity, literature, poetry and literary contests and extend to confrontation and battlefields. It is said in Ziyarat Ashura:
"I am at peace with whoever is at peace with you and at war with whoever fights you, to the day of Resurrection."
The duration of this peace or war will not end till the Day of Resurrection when God will separate the people.
Another section reads:
"I am at peace with whoever is at peace with you, at war with whoever is at war with you, loyal to whoever is loyal to you and hostile to whoever is enemy to you."
This repetition, emphasis and careful wording are surely done for some significant reason. The question of loyalty and repudiation constitute the essence and spirit of this religion. Therefore, a believer must consider these two issues carefully with respect to all areas of his life. Without this his faith will not be complete.
Among the instances of loyalty and repudiation in this ziyarah there is the question of association, a complete association in both this and the next world, and also that of separation. We read from this ziyarah:
"So I pray to God to let me be with you in this world and the next, and to confirm for me a good standing with you..."
There are two forms of association: a true one and a false one. The second type of companionship is that of the believer who is seen conversing with the man with two gardens7 and this is not the required type of association. The required one is the one which proves true both in ease and in difficulty.
In the same ziyarah there is this prayer: "And make firm for me a good standing with You together with Husayn (‘a) and those companions who laid down their lives in his defense."
Firmness and good standing with God is to be coupled with being together with Husayn (‘a) as the section quoted above shows: 'with God' and 'together with Husayn." It cannot be otherwise, for every good standing with God must necessarily be together with God's righteous servants and friends, and conversely, every good standing with God's friends will necessarily be with God.
This companionship (ma‘iyyah) is for the righteous servants of God who are true to their word in ease as well as in difficulty, and God has commanded us to cultivate it:
"O, you who have faith! Be wary of God and be with the truthful." (9:119).
But this companionship requires patience and forbearance.
"Content yourself with the company of those who pray to their Lord morning and evening, desiring His Face, and do not lose sight of Him by desiring the glitter of the life of this world. And do not obey him whose heart we have made oblivious to Our remembrance, who follows his own desires and whose conduct is [mere] profligacy."(18:28).
This companionship is the one that is maintained on the long and arduous road of obedience to God and His Messenger (S), so he who obeys them is together with God's righteous servants.
"Whoever obeys God and the Apostle (S), are with those whom God has blessed: the prophets, the truthful, the witnesses and the righteous, and what excellent companions they are!"(4:69).
What wonderful company this is, and what wonderful companions they really are! "... and excellent companions they are!" This companionship is an all-inclusive one in this world and the next, in life and in death. We pray to God in Ziyarat Ashura:
"O God! Make my life like the life of Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad (‘a) and my death like the death of Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad (‘a)."
This is among the best short supplications, for no life is better than the life of Muhammad (S) and the Family of Muhammad (‘a) and no death is better than their death, and no companionship is better than being with Muhammad (S) and the Family of Muhammad (‘a).
In the qunut (supplication which is recited while standing in prayer) of the prayer of Id al-Fitr (the festival ending the month of Ramadan) we read:
"I beseech you, for the sake of this day... bless Muhammad (S) and the Family of Muhammad (‘a) and admit me into all the good into which you admitted Muhammad (S) and the Family of Muhammad (‘a) and bring me out from all evil from which you brought out Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad, May Your blessings be on him and on them all."
This is the best thing a servant can seek from God the Exalted when he prays.
In contrast to this companionship is the total separation from the enemies of God, His Messenger (S) and His friends, in their moments of sadness and joy, their customs, their social gatherings and their culture, norms and ethics.
In Ziyarat Ashura we denounce the enemy's feelings of happiness, joy and delight on account of their success against the Household of God's Messenger (S) and the death of al-Husayn (‘a) and his family. We part ways with them in terms of feelings, sentiments and emotions. Ponder over this section:
"O God! This is a day (Ashura day) in which the Umayyads and the son of the liver-eating woman found delight. This is a day with which the family of Ziyad and the family of Marwan were pleased because they killed Husayn (‘a) ... O God! Compound Your curse on them and subject them to a painful chastisement.”
"O God! I am seeking proximity to you on this day; at this my place and all my life, by repudiating and cursing them, and through pledging allegiance to Your prophet and the Family of Your prophet (on whom and them be peace)." This total separation and complete association are the outcome of repudiation and loyalty in man's life.
Another instance of loyalty and repudiation that is exhibited in this ziyarah is the distress that is felt because of what befell Husayn (‘a) and his family, and the plea for success in taking revenge on his enemies and killers, may God curse them. But who are the killers of Husayn against whom we may seek to take vengeance? The answer is: Every oppressor who is pleased with Husayn's death is a partner to his killers, wherever he is placed by history, whether in our time or before it. The horror we experience on account of Husayn's death is among the effects of loyalty in our lives, and there can be no true loyalty without joining the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) in their tribulations and what they tasted at the hands of the oppressors, by way of these emotions and sentiments.
Let us ponder over this section of Ziyarat Ashura:
"Indeed the loss is very agonizing; your disaster is momentous and agonizing to us and to all the adherents of Islam. Your disaster is indeed momentous and agonizing in the heavens and to all the inhabitants of the heavens. It is a disaster that is so great, and the loss in its wake is so great, for Islam and for all the heavens and the earth."
It has been reported in a sound hadith that if any believer grieves on what has befallen Husayn and his companions God will give him a reward similar to theirs and gather them together. In contrast to this grief and sadness for the death of Husayn (‘a), there is supplication for success in punishing the killers of Husayn. Though we were not beside Husayn (‘a) on the day of Ashura in 61 A.H. in Karbala, we shall not miss the chance to avenge the blood of Husayn (‘a) and his companions on the killers and those who are inclined to them, by God's will.
Let us consider this part of Ziyarat Ashura:
"I pray to God who has honoured you and honoured me through you, to bestow on me the ability to avenge you[r blood] together with the Expected Imam from the Household of Muhammad (S)."
One may ask: where do you find those who killed or oppressed Husayn (‘a) to exact vengeance on them? Let us allow the Qur'an to supply the answer, for in it there is light and insight: Concerning the Jews who were contemporary with the Messenger of God (S) when they requested him to bring them an offering that would be consumed by fire, as a condition for their belief in him, the Most High says:
“[To] those who say 'God has pledged us not to believe in any apostle unless he brings us an offering consumed by[heavenly] fire, say, 'Apostles before me certainly brought you manifest signs and what you speak of. Then why did you kill them, if you were truthful?”(3:183).
However, the Jews at the time of the Prophet (may God bless him and his family) did not kill any prophet, so why did God the Exalted ascribe the killing of the prophets to them?:"Then why did you kill them, if you were truthful?"
The explanation of this in the Book of God is that these people accepted the action of their forefathers, and because of that God held them accountable for the crimes of those people and condemned them accordingly. We shall throw more light on this point when we discuss generalizations on loyalty and repudiation, God willing.
Based on this Qur'anic way of viewing things, every oppressor, murderer or criminal, every tyrant who is delighted at the death of Husayn (‘a) is partner to his killing. Every despot who causes havoc in the land by killing, tyrannizing and oppressing God's servants must necessarily be pleased with the murder of Husayn (‘a) and have a part in it.
Loyalty and repudiation are two faces of a single issue and it is through repudiation that loyalty is found. A pledge of loyalty that is not coupled with repudiation does not cost anything. It is not a burden at all to treat all contending parties with courtesy and pretense of love with the aim of earning their friendship and respect and also to save oneself from the inconveniencies of opposition.
However, this action remains no more than mere courtesy and a show of affection; that has no value in terms of loyalty. Loyalty is to belong and not a ceremony or pretense of love, and one cannot belong to a cause without separating from its antithesis. Association in the arena of conflict cannot take place without a separation.
The Messenger of God (S) said to Ali (‘a): "Loyalty to you will not be accepted unless [it is coupled] with repudiating your enemies. This is what Gabriel communicated to me. So let anyone who wishes, believe it, and let anyone who wishes, disbelieve it.”8
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to al-Safwan: "Know that loyalty is incomplete, affection impure and friendship not reliable unless it is coupled with repudiating their [the Ahl al-Bayt] adversary whether he is close or distant.”9
There is a strong emphasis on the motto ‘loyalty and repudiation’ in a number of places in Ziarat Ashura, “I am seeking proximity to God, His Messenger, the Commander of Faithful, Fatima, al-Hasan and you (‘a) through being loyal to you and repudiating anyone who fought you and declared war on you, and through repudiating anyone who laid the foundation of oppression and injustice against you."
"I seek proximity to God, then to you by pledging allegiance to you and repudiating your enemies and those who declared war on you, and by repudiating their followers."
The purpose of this emphasis is so that the people may not incline towards their comfort and well-being and only voice their allegiance and leave out the repudiation, since on the battlefield loyalty has no meaning without repudiation.
Life has been a theatre for conflict ever since man inhabited the earth... and this is history. History is the story of the contention between the axis of monotheism and polytheism and all mankind fall into two sections: One section considers allegiance to God to be their focal point and they are the callers towards monotheism. The others pay allegiance to taghut as their centre and they are the polytheists. God the Exalted brings the first group out of darkness into light, and the second group is driven out of the light and led into darkness by taghut.
"God is the patron of the faithful: He brings them out of darkness into the light. As for the faithless, their patrons are the taghut (rebels) who drive them out of the light into darkness. They shall be the inmates of the Fire and they shall remain in it forever,” (2:257).
Both centres spread in different directions through different extensions in life. The first centre extends through the Messenger of God (S), those vested with authority (ulu al-amr), and the believers.
"Obey God and obey the Apostle and those vested with authority among you.”(4:59).
"Your patron is only God, His Apostle and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down.” (5:55).
The centre of rebellion also possesses a domain of love. It comprises the community of taghut and its extensions. Every nation is a close-knit group that is united by a set of organic relationships which the Holy Qur'an describes in these precise terms: "They are alike” “They are comrades of one another”. Believers are a single nation. God the Exalted says:
"The faithful men and women, are comrades of one another” (9:71).
“... those who give them shelter and help, it is they who are truly the faithful.” (8:74).
The faithless and the hypocrites are also one nation:
“The faithless are associates of one another” (8:73).
Thus human society consists of two sections, two nations, two axes, and for each there is a loyalty and repudiation, a connection and a separation, an association and an estrangement.
Loyalty and repudiation divides the scene of life into two distinct and opposing groups. Now where is one's position in this chart? To which axis does one belong? With which group will one be classified? These are among the most important and most momentous questions that face mankind, and their value lies here. The value of man resides in the position one occupies and the stand one takes on this chart: is it with God, His prophets and His friends, or with taghut and base desires?
It is indeed miserable for a person to live this life without knowing where he stands, with whom he stands, to which axis he belongs, whom to fight, with whom to live peacefully and support? The least to be said about such people is that they live a life of confusion, and the most grievous ruin and confusion takes place in the theatre of confrontation when one is forced to determine one’s stand in it.
Man certainly lives this life in a theatre of conflict from which there is no escape. Therefore one cannot but determine his stand vis-à-vis this conflict. The most dangerous thing is for one not to know where he stands in this contest: that is, to live in confusion in the midst of this conflict.
Such people will, most certainly, slip into the camp that opposes monotheism for they cannot stay long in their confusion. They will soon take the position that is unfriendly and hostile to God's friends. Surely to have loyalty to God, His Messenger (S) and His friends, and repudiate His enemies is a form of awareness and knowledge; it is the most sublime type of knowledge and awareness. God has honoured us with this knowledge and saved us from loss, confusion and darkness.
God's blessings are many and great and the greatest blessing which He has honoured us with is that of knowledge, loyalty and repudiation. Ziyarat Ashura points to this blessing of God to us:
“So I pray to God who gave me the honour of knowing you and knowing your friends, and endowed me with repudiating your enemies, to put me in your company both in this and the next world.”
Indeed God the Exalted has bestowed us with immense gifts and blessings among the greatest of which is loyalty. From Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (‘a) who said: “Islam is built on five things: prayer, fasting, zakat, pilgrimage and loyalty (wilayah).” Zurarah said: I asked: Which is the best among these things? He said: “Loyalty is the best because it is the key to the rest and the one to whom loyalty is to be pledged (al-wali) is their guide.” Then he added: “The peak of the affair, the door of [all] things and the [source] of earning the pleasure of the Merciful is to obey the Imam after knowing him.”10
From Ja’far ibn Muhammad, from his father, from Ali (‘a) or al-Hasan ibn Ali (‘a) who said: God has made five duties obligatory and he did not make anything obligatory but the good and beautiful. [They are]: prayer, fasting, zakat, pilgrimage, and loyalty to us, we the Ahl al-Bayt. The people discharged four of them and treated the fifth one lightly. By God they will not have the four completely until they complete them with the fifth.”11
Without loyalty and repudiation, man will remain confused with no focus or line of action which may put his life in order. When he pays allegiance to God, His Messenger (S) and His friends whom He commands us to be loyal to, and repudiates their adversaries, he finds a position in this life and remains in it.
Generalising (ta‘mim) loyalty and repudiation is among the known aspects of this religion. By virtue of this generalization the bases of loyalty and repudiation are extended greatly. Loyalty covers those whom God made it obligatory for the believers to pay allegiance to, be loyal to, love and be pleased with them in all ages. Repudiation covers God’s enemies whom He commanded us to denounce, and all those who befriend them and accept their actions for all time.
The extension also includes reward and punishment, condemnation and protest. Some people who were not present in the jihad and did not suffer hunger and oppression, nor were they touched by the sword will also be rewarded because they loved the fighters and were pleased with their actions. Similarly, punishment will include some people who did not commit any murder but loved the killers and were pleased with their deeds. Therefore, God will punish them for the crimes of the killers.
The cause of these extensions is the issue of approval and anger. Approval arises from love while anger stems from hate. When a person is pleased with a people’s action he is deemed a partner to them and rewarded if the action is good or punished if it is bad. When a person is angry with a people he repudiates them.
Love and approval join one to those whom he loves or approves of. Similarly, hate and anger separates one from those whom he hates or is angry with. It is a factor that causes association or separation. Since those Jews who were contemporaries to the Messenger of God (S) accepted the action of their forefathers of killing the prophets, God Almighty considered them responsible for their forefather’s crimes, condemned them for it, forced the proof for it against them, although they did not live in their times, much less have a role in their killing.
From Muhammad ibn al-Arqat, from Abu Abdillah al-Sadiq (‘a) who said: “Do you stop over at Kufa?” “Yes”, I replied. “Then you do see the killers of Husayn among you?”, he asked. I said to him: “May I be your ransom! I have not seen a single person from them.” He said: “Then you do not consider as killer anyone but the person who killed or the one who ordered it? Have you not heard the saying of God: “Apostles before me have certainly brought you manifest signs. Then why did you kill them, if you were truthful?”? What apostle did those living with Muhammad (S) kill, since there was no apostle between him and Jesus (‘a)? However, they did approve their killing and because of that they are called killers.12
To approve of a thing makes the one who approves a partner in the action of the one who is given the approval, whether the action is good or bad, whether the approver also does the action or not. This partnership extends to all the outcomes of the action: reward, punishment, responsibility and condemnation.
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) (according to the version of Sharif al-Radi in Nahj al-Balaghah) said: “O people! What brings people together is consent (al-rida) and resentment (al-sakhat). Thamud’s she-camel was killed by one man but God included them [all] in punishment since they all consented to it.” The Glorious God said: ‘But they hamstrung her whereupon they became regretful’ It was not long before their land sank with a sound like that of a hot plough sinking into quicksand”13
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “He who accepts the action of a people is like one who takes part in it along with them. Anyone who takes part in falsehood commits two sins: The sin of the action and the sin of approving.”14
Some general supplications on visitations (ziyarat) of the Imams (‘a) read:
“We bear witness with our intentions and hearts that we are partners of your friends and supporters of the past in shedding the blood of the Perfidious (al-Nakithun), the Unjust (al-Qasitun), the Apostates (al-Mariqun) and the killers of Abu Abdillah (‘a), the Lord of the youths of paradise, and we regret having missed those battles.”
This is a wonderful text which can be comprehended only by the learned one who has insight into God’s norms in history and society. This is an extensive topic of religious knowledge in Islam; it is the knowledge of consent (al-rida) and resentment (al-sakhat).
Based on this way of knowing, we have been partners of Abraham (‘a), the vanguard of monotheism, in inviting people towards it, breaking the idols and struggling against Nimrod, the despot of his time. Likewise, we have been associates of Moses (‘a) and Jesus (‘a) in their call to monotheism and rejection of tyrants. We have also been partners of the Messenger of God (S) in the wars he fought.
We join all the righteous, the saints, the Imams of Monotheism and guided callers [to religion] and those who glorify the name of God the Exalted, throughout history. We join them in inviting the people to God, treating God’s servants with sincerity, in remembering God and glorifying Him, in pain and anxiety, in the shedding of the oppressors’ blood, in their blood being shed by the oppressors, in demolishing the bastions of injustice and polytheism and in erecting the pillars of monotheism, justice...”15
There are three stages and generalizations on loyalty in this ziyarah:
In the first stage we declare our allegiance to Husayn (‘a) with regard to the war he fought with the Umayyads; the second stage extends the loyalty to include, in addition to the Imam, the souls who rallied around him in Karbala and sacrificed themselves in support and defense of the son of the daughter of God’s messenger (S) ; the third stage extends to the people who are loyal to his supporters. This level of loyalty includes all those who are loyal to them in all ages, and anyone who pays allegiance to them is covered by this loyalty.
“I am seeking proximity to God, then to you through allegiance to you and allegiance to your allies.”
This last generalization of loyalty is all-inclusive and it extends over time and place. From what Imam al-Rida (‘a) wrote to al-Ma’mun about pure Islam, the section on loyalty (wilayah) we read:
“Wilayah is for the believers who followed the way of their Prophet (S) and did not change or alter [anything], people like Salman al-Farisi, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari and al-Miqdad. Wilayah is also for their followers and partisans who follow their guidance and walk along their path.”16
Similar to loyalty, repudiation also has a number of extensions.
The first extension of repudiation takes the form of denouncing the killers, those who declared war on Husayn (‘a) and those who paved the way and enabled them to fight him.
“May God curse the family of Ziyad and the family of Marwan. May God curse the Umayyads dynasty. May God curse the son of Marjanah. May God curse Umar ibn Sa’ad. May God curse Shimr. May God curse the people who saddled and bridled [their mounts] and traversed the land in order to fight you. O God! Curse that band which fought Husayn, which rallied together, paid allegiance to one another and concurred on killing him.”
In the second extension of repudiation we denounce their partisans, their followers and their allies, and those who pledge allegiance to them and those who are pleased with them.This is an extensive generalization that spreads along with time and space.
“I turn to God and to you in repudiating them, their supporters, their followers and their allies. I seek proximity to God through allegiance to you and repudiating your enemies and those who declared war on you by repudiating their supporters and followers.”
The third extension of repudiation includes those who laid the foundation of injustice on the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), those who laid the foundations of this monstrous injustice against the Family of the Prophet (‘a).
“I turn to God and to His Messenger (S) in repudiating everyone who laid the foundations of inequity and oppression on you.”
The fourth extension includes not only those who oppressed the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) but also the people who acted unjustly toward their supporters and followers down the centuries up to the present day, for oppressing these people stems from oppression and inequity against the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) themselves.
“And I turn to God and His Messenger in repudiation of anyone who laid down the foundation of that, built its structures upon it, and went on with his oppression and inequity against you and your supporters. I turn to God and to you in repudiating them.”
The fifth extension is the most inclusive and most extensive of all.
“O God! Curse the first man to cheat Muhammad (S) and the Family of Muhammad (S) of their right, and the last man to follow him in that act...”
This generalization comprises all those who oppressed them and those who condone the injustice, from the first day to the last, from the first person to the last. This is among the most all-inclusive generalizations of repudiation.
This is one of the important principles of Islam and the Qur’an is replete with the expressions of this fact. God the Exalted says:
“Judgment belongs only to God; He expounds the truth and He is the best of judges.” (12:40).
“Sovereignty belongs to God. He has commanded you to worship none except Him.” (12:67).
There are many verses expressing the same truth.
No loyalty can be correct except that which comes within the extension of loyalty to God and by His permission and command. God says:
“Your authority (wali) is only God, His Apostle and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give alms –zakat- while bowing down (in prayer).” (5:55).
Any loyalty that is outside the range of loyalty to God is baseless and unacceptable in Islam. God the Exalted says:
“Say, ‘Shall I take for guardian [anyone] other than God, the originator of the heavens and the earth...?” (6:14).
“.. Nor do you have besides God any guardian or any helper.” (29:22).
The Holy Qur’an explicitly affirms this reality. Here are some blessed verses from the Wise Book of God which explain this fact.
“Do you not know that to God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? And besides God you do not have any guardian or any helper.”(2:107).
The holy verse affirms that the kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs to God and anyone other than Him does not possess anything of them. From this fact, it is clear that absolute guardianship over mankind must necessarily belong to Him and man has no right to take anyone other than God as guardian.
To the Glorious God belongs absolute guardianship and control over all that pertains to man, both his actions and his beliefs; no one other God has the right to man’s guardianship except by His permission and command, and within the extension of His guardianship. The holy verse conveys the restriction of guardianship to God alone from two angles:
(a) The fact that the heavens and the earth belong to God alone and therefore, the guardianship over mankind should be only His, to the exclusion of all His creatures.
(b) The literal meaning since the pair of articles ma...illa is one of the articles which denote restriction [of a subject to a predicate or vice versa] in Arabic language.18
Ghayr can replace illa so that it becomes permissible to ‘restrict’ with the pair ma-- ghayr.19 One can say Ma ja’ani ahadun ghayr Muhammad (No one came to me except Muhammad). The word duna (besides) in the holy verse: “And besides God you do not have any guardian or any helper”, means ghayr. Based on this, the verse employs a restrictive phrasing which, whether viewed from form of expression or from import, restricts guardianship to God alone.Restriction (hasr) often involves negating and affirming, so it serves to negate the guardianship of anyone other than God and affirm His guardianship. Numerous verses of the Book of God can be quoted. God the Exalted says:
"And warn by its means those who fear being mustered toward their Lord, besides whom (dunahu) they shall have neither any guardian nor any intercessor, so that they may be God-wary" (6:51).
"Leave alone those who take their religion for play and diversion and whom the life of this world has deceived, and admonish with it lest any soul should perish because of what it has earned: for it shall not have any guardian besides God nor any intercessor...”.(6:70).
He also says:
"Indeed to God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He gives life and brings death. And besides God you do not have any guardian or helper”. (9:116).
In Surat al-Sajdah, the Qur’an says:
"It is God who created the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them in six days, and then He settled on the Throne. You do not have besides him any guardian or intercessor. Will you not then take admonition?” (32:7).
This holy verse clearly indicates the relationship between God's power over the heavens and the earth and His guardianship over creation and His legislative guardianship on man. It indicates also the restriction of guardianship to God, to the exclusion of others whom the people regard as guardians apart from Him..20
Just as loyalty to the friends of God derives from the concept of monotheism, it also comes under purity of faith (ikhlas) by virtue of the same reason. Thus, loyalty to God's friends and taking them as guardians is correct only where it is done for God's sake, where a person seeks nearness to God through it. Otherwise, such loyalty will have no value. Therefore, loyalty comes under the concepts of monotheism and purity of faith.
From Abu Khalid al-Kabuli who said: A group of people came to Ali ibn Husayn ibn Ali (‘a) and said: "Our cousins [lit, sons of our uncle] called on Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan seeking his support and grants while we call on you to pay our respects to [the kinsmen of] the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his family,"
Ali ibn Husayn (‘a) said: "Anyone who loves us, not for anything worldly that he may get from us, and is hostile to our enemy, not because of an old grudge between them, will come to God on the Day of Resurrection together with Muhammad, Abraham and Ali (‘a).”
True loyalty is that by which a person seeks proximity to God, and one cannot approach God except by doing the things He commands. Therefore, loyalty cannot be truely correct unless it is commanded by God the Exalted. Loyalty to the Messenger of God (S) and his Ahl al-Bayt is a thing that is commanded by God and His Messenger (S). Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: “God has bound together obedience to the one He vested with authority with obedience to His Messenger, and obedience to His Messenger with obedience to Him..."
Therefore, we seek closeness to God through this loyalty; we do not consider loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) as a way of seeking worldly gains and the pleasure of the rulers, but that of earning God's pleasure and nearness to Him, Sublime is He."
Purity of Faith as depicted in Repudiation:
This idea has been hinted at in Ziyarat Ashura:
"And I seek proximity to God and His Messenger... by repudiating those who fought you and declared war against you."
It has been shown that real faith means to love and hate for God's sake.
It has been reported from Abu Muhammad al-Askari (‘a), from his forefathers, that the Messenger of God (S) one day said to one of his companions:
"Servant of God! Love for God's sake, hate for God's sake, befriend for God's sake and be hostile for God's sake, for you will not gain loyalty to God except this way. A man cannot have the taste of faith, even if he prays and fasts much, till he acts that way. Today most of the friendships between the people have turned into worldly concerns, they love one another because of it and hate one another because of it, and this [attitude] will not gain them anything before God."21
In another hadith, the Messenger of God (S) one day said to one of his companions: "Servant of God! Love for God's sake, hate for God's sake, befriend for God's sake and be hostile for God's sake, for loyalty to God cannot be attained except in this way. A man will not get the taste of faith, even if he prays and fasts much, till he acts that way.”22
From Abu Abdillah as-Sadiq (‘a) who said: "The firmest bond of faith is that you love for God's sake, hate for God's sake, give for God's sake and withhold for the sake of God, the Mighty and Sublime.”23 Therefore, no one can attain loyalty to God unless he makes his heart sincere to Him so that his loving and hating, his nearness and remoteness [in social relations] and his loyalty and repudiation are all for God's sake. Among the many ties of faith there is none as firm as loving and hating for the sake of God.
From Abu Abdillah as-Sadiq (‘a): “He who loves an infidel has hated God and he who hates an infidel has loved God.” Then he added: “A friend to God’s enemy is an enemy of God.”24
From Abu Ja’far al-Jawad (‘a): “God has communicated to a prophet [saying]: Your asceticism [only] serves to expedite your rest and your complete turning to Me [is a form of] taking shelter with Me. So have you treated with hostility an enemy of mine or with friendship a friend of mine?”25
From Abu Abdillah as-Sadiq (‘a): “Anyone who loves for God’s sake, hates for God’s sake, gives for God’s sake, and withholds for God’s sake, has attained complete faith.”26
From Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (‘a), from the Messenger of God (S): “A believer’s affection for a fellow believer for God’s sake is one of the greatest branches of faith. Surely anyone who loves for God’s sake, hates for God’s sake, gives for God’s sake and withholds for God’s sake, is among the chosen ones of God.”27
From Abu Abdillah as-Sadiq (‘a): “The Messenger of God (S) asked his companions: “Which among the bonds of faith is the firmest?”
They said: ‘God and his Messenger know best’. Some said: ‘It is prayer’, others said: ‘It is fasting’, a third group said: ‘It is pilgrimage’ and a fourth said: ‘It is jihad.’
Then the Messenger of God (S) said: “All what you said is meritorious but it is not that. The firmest bond of faith is to love for God’s sake, to hate for God’s sake, to be loyal to God’s friends and to repudiate God’s enemies.”28
From Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (‘a): “If you want to know whether there is any good in you, you should check your heart. If it loves the people who are obedient to God, the Mighty and Sublime, and hate those who sin against Him then there is good in you and God loves you. But if it hates the people who are obedient to God and loves those who sin against him, then there is no good in you and God hates you. A man is an associate of the one he loves.”29
For the purpose of emphasis, this notion has appeared a number of times in Ziyarat Ashura:
“O God! I am seeking proximity to you on this day, in this place and [all] the days of my life, by repudiating the enemies of Muhammad and his Family (S) and cursing them.”
Therefore, to repudiate the enemies of God and His friends, like loyalty, is a form of expressing monotheism and purity of faith.
The heart of the faithful cannot contain two loyalties because, as we said before, loyalty comes under the concept of monotheism. True loyalty is for God and for those God has commanded us to pay allegiance to, and any form of loyalty that falls within this range is true loyalty. On the other hand, any loyalty that is not to God, not to what he commands and not within the extension of his loyalty is invalid loyalty.
True loyalties are associated with one another and they all occur within the range of loyalty to God, which is in fact a single loyalty. Two different loyalties cannot meet in a sound heart because a single heart cannot bear more than one loyalty and one attachment, and man has but one heart. This can only be possible where the heart or the loyalty is corrupted. God the Exalted says: “God has not put two hearts within any man...” (33:4).
In Ziyarat al-Jami’ah we read: “With you, with you, never with other than you”.30
The repetition of ‘with you’ i.e. in their company (‘a) in this section of the ziyarah coupled with rejecting the company of anyone else serves to emphasize the notion of the unity of loyalty which we indicated above. Every form of loyalty apart from loyalty to them is invalid and this is because the only true loyalty is loyalty to God and what lies within its spectrum, among which, of course, is loyalty to God’s prophets, His messengers, their successors and the believers. Whatever is not allegiance to God, His messengers, His friends and the believers is a different loyalty entirely and two loyalties do not converge in one heart.
Concerning God’s saying: “God has not put two hearts within any man”, Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (‘a) said: “So that he [man] may love with one and hate with the other. Having love for us makes [a person’s] love purely for us, the way fire purifies gold from impurities. He who wants to know our love let him test his heart; if the love for our enemy shares the heart with our love then he has disowned us and we have disowned him.”31
Thus one cannot have two loyalties in his heart for then either the loyalty is defective or the heart is diseased just as the man who came to the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) and said: ‘O Commander of the Faithful! I love you as well as so-and-so’, and mentioned one of his enemies. He replied: “As for now you are one-eyed; you will either become blind or gain complete sight.”32 It has been related that after the demise of the Messenger of God (S) the people found a slip in the scabbard of his sword in which was written: “May God ... curse him who allies himself with other than his [rightful] patrons.”33
Nothing purifies monotheism and purity of faith like loyalty and repudiation and this is because to repudiate is to face the most severe test on one’s monotheism and sincerity. One’s level in these two matters cannot be tested by a better method than through loyalty and repudiation.
This twin method exposes to what level one is truly a monotheist and truly sincere. It is not all those who claim a pure monotheistic faith that turn out to be true to their belief in monotheism and sincere in it. They will have to undergo a divine test in loyalty and repudiation at the theatre of confrontation so that God may ascertain the sincerity of their love, hate, support and sacrifice for the sake of the people God has obliged them to pay allegiance; in struggle, perseverance and enduring suffering and tyranny for His sake; in loving those He loves and detesting those He detests; and in dissociating themselves from those who fight and hate His allies even if they are harmed by doing this. There is no better and stricter test of one’s monotheism and sincerity in this world than through loyalty and repudiation.
Belief in monotheism and having purity of faith cannot be known for certain in peace time or by theorizing, and remain mere claims till the believer enters the field of confrontation where he will be required to exhibit loyalty, repudiation, support, sacrifice and service; and also to bear sufferings, persecution, loss of children and wealth and to face other hazards. It is then that God will ascertain and sort out the truthful.
For this reason God the Exalted has made loyalty and repudiation one of the greatest points of descent for His mercy in man’s life. These points always commensurate with the level of purity of monotheism and faith since loyalty and repudiation in the theatre of confrontation constitute the crystallization of the highest level of monotheism and sincerity.
In all places and at all times God’s mercy descends but there are points of descent for mercy that are distinguished from others by place, time or situation. By time I mean particular days, nights and hours that induce God’s mercy to descend. The night of Destiny and the month of Ramadan are examples. By place I mean places that attract God’s mercy more than others. Such places include the Grand Mosque at Mecca, the Prophet’s mosque, the valley of Arafat and the precincts of Imam Husayn’s mausoleum. By situations, those conditions intended attract God’s mercy, such as conditions of supplicating, experiencing the dire need of God, ecstasy, weeping for fear of God, and meekly entreating Him. These conditions invite God’s mercy more than others.
True loyalty and repudiation are among the best conditions that attract God’s mercy and therefore, one of the best points at which God’s mercy descends. In it prayers are answered, mercy and blessings come down on mankind and hearts are softened. The points at which mercy descends are also man’s stairways to God; his supplication, his glorification of God’s name, his love, his yearning, his sincerity, his monotheism and his entreaty to God all ascend from these points.
Loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and repudiating their adversaries is among the best points of descent for mercy and the points of man’s ascent towards God Almighty. By way of loyalty and repudiation God the Exalted has taught us the signs of our religion, brought us out of ignorance and delivered us from ruin.
In Ziyarat al-Jami’ah, there is an allusion to some of these points of descent and points of assent:
“Through loyalty to you, God has taught us the signs of our religion and set right what had been corrupted of it. Through loyalty to you the word became complete, the blessing became great and disunity turned into harmony. Through loyalty to you the obedience that is enjoined is accepted. It is through you that God brought us out of humiliation, expelled our worries and hardships and saved us from the precipice of destruction and from the Fire. Whoever befriends you is felicitous, who is hostile to you is ruined, who rejects you is lost, who separates from you is deviated, who is devoted to you succeeds, who takes refuge with you is secure, who affirms you is saved, who resorts to you is guided...”
Now let us ponder over mercy’s points of descent and man’s points of ascent to God in the issue of loyalty and repudiation in Ziyarat Ashura.
The first point of descent is where God honoured us with knowing the Ahl al-Bayt and being loyal to them and repudiating their enemies. Through them He bestows on us this honour and distinction both here and in the hereafter, and what an honour and distinction it is in the sight of God! “I pray to God who honoured your position and honoured me through you.” Surely God has honoured us through Husayn (‘a) and as he honoured Husayn (‘a), he has also honoured us by showing loyalty to him and by denouncing his enemies.
Among those points of descent and ascent is to have distinction with God both here and in the hereafter. This is a rank that every truthful believer and every martyr hopes for.
“O God make me through Husayn (‘a) a noble person before You both here and in the hereafter.”
This is another honour. We beseech God the Exalted to enable us avenge the death of Husayn (‘a), for his death in Karbala was a continuous transgression perpetrated against monotheism and justice and against the Messenger of God (S). The avenger of this blood is God Himself. He is the first avenger of it and also of the blood spilled by the accursed Abdurrahman ibn Muljam in the prayer niche of the mosque in Kufa. Thus God, the Glorious and Exalted is the first avenger of the blood of Husayn and his father (‘a): “Peace be on you, O avenged one of God, son of His avenged one, [the victim of] the injustice which is not yet avenged.” Then the bearers of the message of monotheism and justice in turn, assume the responsibility to avenge the pure blood that was unjustly shed in Karbala.
To avenge is in fact an extension of the spirit of martyrdom. Martyrdom is sacrifice, mission and avenging. Husayn (‘a), his family and his companions accomplished the first part, leaving for us the second and third, that is, upholding the mission of this blood and avenging it. This duty constitutes the best and most important point in man’s life where mercy descends and from which loyalty and repudiation ascend.
The movement to avenge the death of the Imam (‘a) started almost immediately after his martyrdom and it will continue till the Mahdi of the Family of Muhammad (may God hasten his appearance) takes over. He will surely avenge this sacred blood and, all the unjustly spilt blood of the defenders of monotheism and justice. He shall be the seal of the avengers of this pure blood.
In this ziyarah we pray to God to bestow upon us the ability to avenge the blood of Husayn (‘a) in the company of his descendant, the Supported Guide, the Guided one from the Family of Muhammad (may God expedite his appearance).
“I pray to God who honoured your rank and honoured me through you, to bestow on me [the ability] to avenge your death, in the company of the Supported Imam of the Family of Muhammad (‘a). I also beseech Him to make me attain your laudable station that is with God, and to give me the ability to avenge you, in the company of the Imam of guidance, the victor among you who will declare the truth.”
God the Exalted has commanded us in His Book:
“... and be with the truthful.” (9:119).
And the company of those having loyalty is as God the Exalted says:
“Whoever obeys God and the Apostle-they are with those whom God has blessed including the prophets and the truthful, the witnesses and the righteous, and what excellent companions they are!”(4:69).
This association is in fact an onerous and difficult one. The supporters of the prophets were being threatened by the people, of dispossession of their lands and of being driven away from their families, if they did not disassociate themselves from the prophets.
“They say: ‘Should we follow the guidance with you we will be dispossessed of our territory.”(28:57).
It is for this reason that God Almighty ordered His Prophet and the believers who were with him to be steadfast and patient:
“So be steadfast, just as you have been commanded – [you] and whoever has turned [to God] with you.” (11:112).
“Content yourself with the company of those who pray to God morning and evening, desiring His face, and do not lose sight of them, desiring the glitter of the life of this world.”(18:28).
The association that is based on loyalty and repudiation is one of the most difficult types of association to maintain and, therefore, it requires patience, steadfastness and firmness. So long as one is not sincere in loyalty, so long as one has no firm footing, one cannot continue this hard march along the difficult path. Concerning the companions of the Messenger of God (S), who were true to their word and stood firm in loyalty and repudiation, God Most High says:
“... and those who are with him are hard against the faithless and merciful amongst themselves.”(49:29).
This companionship has two dimensions: loyalty and repudiation: merciful amongst themselves and hard against the faithless. And with regard to the people who were firm in their promise to the prophets, God says:
“How many a prophet there has been with whom a multitude of godly men fought. They did not falter for what befell them in the way of God, neither did they weaken, nor did they abase themselves; and God loves the steadfast.” (3:146).
A companionship based on loyalty entails patience, steadfastness and sincerity in one’s stand. This is honourable but difficult, and loyalty and repudiation prepare one who possesses them for this firm association, by receiving courage, steadfastness and sincerity from God.
Ziyarat Ashura contains these words: “I pray to God to put me in your company both here and in the hereafter, and to establish for me a strong footing with you in this and the next world.” Companionship in this world at times of distress and misery will necessarily be followed by another companionship in the hereafter, ‘in the abode of truthfulness with an Omnipotent King’34, the second being the outcome of the first.
“Our lord, we believe in what you have sent down and we follow the apostle, so write us among the witnesses.”(3:53).
In Ziyarat Ashura we read: “And I pray to Him to make me attain the laudable station that you have with God.”
The laudable station is the highest rank which is unparalleled by any other. In it one will deserve praise by everyone without exception and all blame on him will have been dropped completely. This is among the high positions in the hereafter. In Surah Al-Isra’ it has been mentioned among the things God will bestow on those who keep the night vigil:
“And keep vigil for a part of the night as a supererogatory devotion. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praiseworthy station.” (17:79).
Some exegetes hold that laudable station refers to what we said above35 while others take it to mean the position of intercession as well.36 The laudable station is one of the ranks of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) with God. Through loyalty and repudiation man soars up to reach this lofty laudable position which God has awarded them. The believer’s stairway by which he ascends to this position is loyalty, repudiation and the night vigil.
The way the Family of Muhammad (‘a) live and die is the best way for anyone to live and die; their way in both issues represents the clearest embodiment of God’s saying:
“Say, ‘Indeed my prayer and my worship, my life and my death are for the sake of God, the Lord of all the worlds.” (6:162).
The Family of Muhammad (‘a) devoted not only their prayer and worship but also their entire life and death to God. In Ziyarat Ashura we supplicate to God, in the environment of loyalty and repudiation, to make our life and our death like the life and death of Muhammad (S) and Family of Muhammad (‘a) as it is the best way to live and die.
The position from which man can ascend to this high rank and devote all his life and death to God is loyalty and repudiation because when man gives all his loyalty to God and all his repudiation for His sake then he has devoted his life and death for God. He who knows the significance of loyalty and repudiation will not be surprised, for if his entire life and death constitute loyalty and repudiation, his life and death will be completely for God. Such a life and a death are like the life and death of Muhammad (S) and the Family of Muhammad (‘a).
Loyalty and repudiation are among the points of descent of trial and patience. When a person is sincere and resolute in them without being ceremonial about them, trials and tribulations converge on him and God subjects him to all sorts of afflictions; hardly will he come out of one ordeal before he enters another. God the Glorious whose speech is the most truthful, says in His Perfect Book:
“Do the people suppose that they will be let off because they say, ‘We have faith’, and they will not be tested? (29:2).
Certainly We have tested those who were before them. So God shall surely ascertain those who are truthful and He shall surely ascertain the liars.” (29:3).
“Do you suppose that you shall enter paradise though there has not yet come to you the like of what befell those who went before you? Stress and distress befell them and they were convulsed until the apostle and the faithful who were with him said, ‘When will God’s help come?’ Look! God’s help is indeed near!”(29:214).
“... So that God may ascertain those who have faith, and that he may take witnesses from among you and God does not like the wrongdoers”. (3:140).
“And so that God may purge those who have faith and that he may wipe out the faithless.” (3:141).
“Do you suppose that you will be let off while God has not yet ascertained those of you who wage jihad and those who do not take besides God and His Apostle and the faithful anyone as confidant? God is well aware of what you do”. (9:16).
Trials and tribulations are points where reward and mercy descend in life. The hardest trials on the believers are those misfortunes which affect them, their families and their wealth in the way of God. Tribulations constitute a major point of descent for mercy and of ascent to the position of honour with God. When one is sincere and steadfast with no compromise or engaging in courtesy, no relenting, no weakening and no despair, one will never be free from tribulations.
Trials and tribulation along with their attendant miseries are among the greatest points of descent for mercy, if one remains steadfast and patient. God the Exalted has said:
“We will surely test you with a measure of fear and hunger and loss of wealth, lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient.” (2:155).
“Those, who, when an affliction visits them, say, ‘Indeed, we belong to God, and to Him do we return.” (2:156).
“It is they who receive the blessings of their Lord and [His] mercy, and it is they who are the [rightly] guided.” (2:157).
God has indeed tested us with this test twice: misfortunes have visited us because of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and we have also endured the distress of what has befallen them. Indeed we have borne, both concerning them and because of them, untold trials and sufferings: we have seen adversities because of them and tasted calamities on account of them. We praise God for both. We hope that God will reward us for our adversities, both with regard to the tribulations of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and for their sake, with the best of what He rewards the distressed. In Ziyarat Ashura we read:
“I supplicate God, for the sake of your honour and for the sake of your position with Him, to give me, in view of the calamity I endure on account of your tribulations, the best reward He gives to a distressed person on account of his distress... What a great calamity it is and what a great loss for Islam!”
It may be that God will reward us for of these calamities without reckoning.
“Indeed the patient will be paid in full their reward without any reckoning” (39:10).
There is no limit to the reward and recompense that come from God for patience.
Calamities are among the greatest points of descent for mercy and ascent towards honour and proximity to God. During adversities man’s prayers are granted and mercy descends on him from God more than at any other times. Because of this we find that in Ziyarat Ashura the supplication is repeated every time the tragedy of Husayn (‘a) and our distress on that account is made: “A calamity... What a great calamity it is and what a great loss for Islam and for all the heavens and the earth! O God, place me among those on whom your blessings and mercy descend.”
God the Exalted says:
“Those, who, when an affliction visits them, say, ‘Indeed, we belong to God, and to Him do we return.” (2:156).
“It is they who receive the blessings of their Lord and [His] mercy, and it is they who are the [rightly] guided.” (2:157).
Blessing (as-salat) from God refers to the mercy that descends from Him, while invoking blessings (as-salat) by the servants means requesting for God’s mercy. The kind of mercy that God showers on such occasions is a special one; it pertains only to His patient and righteous servants.
God’s mercy is of two kinds: general and special. The former is the one which covers all creation: man, animal, plant and lifeless objects.
“My mercy embraces all things.” (7:156).
“Our Lord! You encompass all things in mercy and knowledge.” (40:7).
This is the general mercy, which is the kind that is intended by the word al-Rahman. Special mercy is that which applies to believers exclusively, where God says: “-it is they who expect God’s mercy and God is All-forgiving, All-merciful” and “...God has graced those, who wage jihad over those who sit back, with a great reward: ranks, forgiveness and mercy, and God is All-forgiving, All-merciful.” This kind of mercy is the one which is intended by the word al-Rahim and it extends only to the faithful servants of God. The blessing alluded to in this verse refers to the special kind of mercy. In the words of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) a distinction is made between these two kinds of mercy: as al-Rahman and al-Rahim.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: “Al-Rahman is a specific name given to a general quality and al-Rahim is general name given to a specific quality.” Our present discussion will not allow for further exposition of this point.
For gaining nearness to God, various stairways, paths and means are open to the people, but the best of them is loyalty and repudiation. Among all these paths and stairways which raise man towards God, none requires as much effort, the endurance of sufferings and oppression, sincerity and spending in the way of God as do loyalty and repudiation. They are, therefore, the best means of man’s ascension to God; with them man soars towards him and attains His pleasure.
Attaining proximity to God should be the end for every move, every word and every stand in man’s life. We consider being loyal to the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and repudiating their enemies an effective means for gaining nearness to God, therefore, we seek nearness to the Sublime One by doing these two things.
- 1. Al-Yafi'i's Mir'at al-Jinan 1/132.
- 2. Sayyid Abdulrazzaq al-Muqarram's Maqtal al-Husayn (‘a), 238.
- 3. Muthir al-Ahzan, 56.
- 4. Tarikh al-Tabari, 6/341.
- 5. Tarikh al-Tabari, 6/223.
- 6. Tarikh al-Tabari, 6/243.
- 7. See Qur'an 18:32-44.
- 8. Bihar al-Anwar, 27/63.
- 9. Bihar al-Anwar, 27/58.
- 10. Bihar al-Anwar, 68/ 332.
- 11. Bihar al-Anwar, 23/105.
- 12. Tafsir al-Burhan, 1/328.
- 13. Nahj al-Balaghah, 2/ 207.
- 14. Nahj al-Balaghah 3/191
- 15. Al-Hijrat wa al-Wila’ (by the author), 164 – 167.
- 16. Bihar al-Anwar, 10/358.
- 17. There is no need to shift the intended meaning of al-wali since the verbal noun al-wilayah is univocal. Even if we consider it a homonym in its al-wali form [which, therefore, carries various meanings],the subsequent verses we cite adequately establish the concept of unity of loyalty.
- 18. Al-Jurjani’s Dala’il al-I’jaz, 260.
- 19. Ibid, 268.
- 20. The Author's Al-Wailayah wa al-Bara'ah, 93-95.
- 21. Bihar al-Anwar, 24/54.
- 22. Al-Saduq's Al-Amali, 8.
- 23. Al-Saduq's Al-Amali, 345.
- 24. Al-Saduq’s Al-Amali, 360.
- 25. Tuhaf al-Uqul, 479.
- 26. Al-Mahasin, 263.
- 27. Usul al-Kafi 2/125.
- 28. Usul al-Kafi 2/125.
- 29. Usul al-Kafi, 2/126.
- 30. As appears in some copies of Ziyarat al-Jami’ah.
- 31. Bihar al-Anwar, 278/51, Hadith no 1.
- 32. Bihar al-Anwar, 27/58.
- 33. Bihar al-Anwar 27/64.
- 34. See Qur’an,54:55.
- 35. Tafsir al-Mizan 13/176.
- 36. Ibid.