This text presents a summary of the Islamic principles and commandments emphasizing some specialties on the Shi'a sect. Theism and monotheism, the mission of prophets, the divine books, resurrection, and Imamate are discussed.
Published in 1377/ 1998
In our era we witness a great deal of changes that are caused by Islam, which is the greatest of all the Divine Religions. It has obtained a new birth. Muslims have woken up and are returning to their origin. They are now seeking to remove their difficulties through the Islamic commandments, for they do not find the solutions elsewhere. As for the reason for these changes, one needs to discuss that separately. It is important to know that the traces of these great changes are seen throughout the Islamic world, and also in the non-Islamic countries. Now, the world wants to know what Islam says and what new message it has for people.
In such a critical condition, it is our duty to present Islam as it really is, without any embellishment and by way of clear and plain language, so we are understood by all, and to quench the thirst of those who need to know more about Islam. We as Muslims ought to speak for ourselves, and not allow anybody else to speak or decide on our behalf.
It cannot be denied that Islam, just like other major religions, consists of different sects. Each sect has its own peculiarities and yet, the differences are not such as to prevent cooperation and joint ventures among the groups. On the contrary, they may protect themselves through such mutual aids and co-operations, and stand firmly against the storms that are blown from the West and East, preventing their enemies from succeeding at their tricks and accomplishing their purposes.
Developing such a mutual understanding and co-operation needs to be based on special guidelines. The most important of these guidelines is that; different sects should know each other well, so as to remove suspicions and prepare the path for collective actions. The best way for the sects to know each other, is to know the root and branches of their faith, and to obtain the knowledge first hand from the well-versed and learned that are known and accepted by all among the sects. If we take our knowledge about one sect from someone who is not learned enough, or from someone who is an enemy, love for one sect and hatred for another will prevent our truthful understanding.
Owing to the two above-mentioned points, we have decided to summarize the Islamic principles and commandments with our stress on some specialties on the Shia sect; to provide writing with the following objectives:
1. That it may consist of a concise of the whole, so as to save readers from being forced to read voluminous books;
2. The discussions be clear cut, and void of difficult technical words used by the experts without diminishing the main subjects;
3. Our main object is to mention the beliefs but not to ignore providing reasons where necessary;
4. Our proofs are taken from the Holy Qur’an, traditions and logical reasoning;
5. The book may be free of concealments, flattery courtesies and pre-judgments;
6. Modesty and the rules of etiquette be observed in relation to all religions and sects.
I wrote this text during my pilgrimage to Mecca, in which the spirit has more purity and pleasantness. It was discussed in several meetings with the scholars and learned and after much investigation it was finalized for publication.
We hope to reach the goals mentioned above and have this book a protection on the day of resurrection.
"Our lord! We have heard the call of one calling us to faith 'Believe you in the lord' and we have believed. Our lord! Forgive us our sins. Blot out from us our iniquities, and take to yourself our souls in the company of the righteous." (Holy Qur’an, 3:193).
Qum, School of Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib
Nasir Makarim Shirazi
We believe that the Almighty and Omnipotent God exists as the Creator and Ruler of the universe; and that the traces and signs of His greatness, knowledge, and power is apparent through the different aspects of anything that exists; i.e. in human, animals, vegetation as well as in the planets of the skies and the higher worlds.
We believe that the more we think over and study the secrets of all existing things, the more we shall realize God's greatness, and the extent of His unlimited knowledge and power. The progress of scientific researches will open new doors, extending the dimensions of our thoughts. These dimensions serve to increase our love for Him, and to take us closer to His sacred essence. The approach will draw us to the immense light of God's glorious beauty. We read in the Holy Qur’an:
"On the earth are signs for those of assured faith; as also in your own selves. Will you not then see?" (Holy Qur’an, 51:20).
"Behold! In the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of night and day - there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, who contemplate the wonders of creation in the heavens and the earth; (with that thought:) Our lord! Not for naught have thou created all this! Glory to thee, give us salvation from the penalty of the fire." (Holy Qur’an, 3:190-192).
We believe that His essence is void of any defect, clean of deficiencies, and adorned with all perfection that may exist. He is mere perfection, or in other words: any perfection and beauty that may ever exist, has its source in His Holy Essence.
"Allah is He besides whom there is no other God. The sovereign, the Holy one, the source of peace, the keeper of faith, the Guardian of safety, (the protector) and the exalted in might, the Irresistible, the Supreme. Glory to Allah who is above the partners that they attribute to Him.
He is Allah the creator, the originator, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the most beautiful names. Whatever is in the heavens and on earth give glory to Him, He is Almighty, the Wise one." (Holy Qur’an, 59:23).
We believe that He is an infinite existence in all respects, such as knowledge, power, everlasting and pre-existence. Therefore He will not be contained in time and space, while He is everywhere and at any time, because He is above space and time.
"It is He who is Allah in heavens and Allah on earth, and He is full of wisdom and knowledge." (Holy Qur’an, 43: 84).
"And He is with you where ever you may be, and Allah sees all that you do." (Holy Qur’an, 57: 4).
Yes, He is nearer to us than ourselves. He is through our soul and everywhere, and in the meanwhile, He has not a certain place:
"It was we who created man, and We know the promptings of his soul.... For We are nearer to him than his jugular vein." (Holy Qur’an, 50: 16).
"He is the first and the last, the visible and the invisible, and He has full knowledge of all things." (Holy Qur’an, 85: 15).
Therefore if we read in Holy Qur’an that:
`He is the owner of Arsh' (which means either throne or empyrean) or `He sat upon His throne'; or `His throne does extend over the heaven and earth;' none of these verses mean that He may have a certain place. (these are all metaphors) These are to express His sovereignty over every thing and every place. If we consider Him to have a certain place, we have limited Him by giving Him the attributes of His creatures, while we know that: `nothing is like Him'. (Holy Qur’an, 42:11)
‘…there is none equal to Him!’ (Holy Qur’an, 112:4).
We believe that God can never be seen by the physical eyes; because the object of seeing by the eyes is a material body that has to have place, color, form and direction. These are all the qualifications of the creatures, and not that of the creator. God is quite far from that. Therefore the belief that one may physically see God is a sort of going astray in this field, a sort of polytheism.
"No vision can grasp Him, but He grasps all visions." (Holy Qur’an, 6:103)
This is why when the Israelites objected, asking Moses to let them see God: he took them to the Mount Sinai, and as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:
"And when Moses came to a place appointed by us, (on the Mount Sinai) his lord addressed him; and Moses said: "O my Lord! Show thyself to me: (let me see you) that I may look upon You! Allah said: " By no means can you see me; but look upon the mountain, if it abides in its place, then you may see me."
When his lord manifested His glory on the mountain it turned into dust, and Moses fell down into a swoon.
When he recovered his senses, he said: "Glory be to thee! To thee I return and I am the first one to believe in you." (Holy Qur’an, 7:143).
And by such incidents it was proved that God can never be seen.
We believe that our Islamic traditions denoting the observance of God, aim at seeing Him by the mind and by the heart, and not by the sense of vision of the eyes at all. In one of his sermons collected in the famous book ‘Nahjul Balagha’, Imam ‘Ali (a.s) says:
"Eyes cannot see Him, but He can be seen by the realities of Faith".
We believe that the attributes of the creatures, such as: place, direction, material body, and physical observance should not be ascribed to God. If done so, it shall lead to polytheism, and remoteness from the true knowledge of Him, who is above all, and nothing is similar to Him.
We believe that one of the most important subjects relating to the knowledge of God is monotheism, i.e. the belief that there is only one God. As a matter of fact monotheism (tawhid) is not only a principle of the religion, but the most important of Islamic tenets. It is the very soul and the base of all the Islamic ideas and beliefs. We can say that the roots, as well as the branches of Islam take their forms from the monotheism.
The ‘Unity’ and ‘Oneness’ is a general topic of conversation everywhere and in every field; unity of God's essence, His attributes and actions. In other words, also the unity of prophets and their teachings, the unity of the law, qiblah and the books, and also the unity of Muslims through their brotherhood and the unity of the resurrection day. From this point of view the Holy Qur’an declares polytheism as an unforgivable sin:
"Allah does not forgive those who set up partners with Him, but He may forgive any sin less than that, of whom he wills. He that sets up co-sharers with Allah is guilty of a sin which is most heinous indeed." (Holy Qur’an, 4:48).
"It has already been revealed to you as it was revealed to those before you that: "If you join gods with Allah, your deeds shall be fruitless, and you surely will be one of those who loose. (All spiritual goodness).” (Holy Qur’an, 39: 65).
We believe that monotheism (tawhid) has many branches among which four are the most important ones:
His absolute Holy Essence is one, indivisible, and no one is similar or like unto him.
Knowledge, power, eternality (everlasting and pre-existence) and all other qualities and attributes of Him are in His Essence and are exactly the very self of His Essence.
This is contrary to His creatures whose qualities are different to that of their bodies, and from each other too. This is a critical point and is to be thought upon with minute care.
Any action, movement, or effect, throughout the existence, have their causes in His will. In other word every thing depends on Him.
"Allah is the creator of all things, and He is the GAURDIAN and Disposer of all affairs." (Holy Qur’an, 39:62).
"To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth. He enlarges and restricts the sustenance to whom He wills, for He knows all things well." (Holy Qur’an, 42:12).
Yes! In the world, nothing is effective but Allah. But this does not mean that we are forced in all respects, and all that happens is inevitable; on the contrary, we all have free will in our decisions.
"We showed man the way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful." (Holy Qur’an, 76:3).
"Man can have nothing except that which he strives for, and the results of his striving will soon be seen." (Holy Qur’an, 53:39).
Such verses in the Holy Qur’an will clearly show that man has free will, and that we may refer man's deeds and acts to God without any reduction in his responsibilities for what he does.
God wills that we do what we do, in freedom and by free will, so that He may examine us and lead us forward in the way of perfection, which could be attained through free will and serving the Lord.
Anything done by force majeure is neither a sign of good or bad. Had we not free will, the missions of the prophets would be futile, and the holy books sent down could mean nothing, and the reward and punishments of the doomsday would be unjust. These are what we understand from the teachings of our Imams, for they say: "It is neither free will, nor force majeure, but something medium and in-between."
God is the only Being that deserves, and is worthy of being worshipped. No one is to be worshipped but Allah. This branch of Monotheism is one of the most important one among the other branches. The prophets have all laid great stress on the unity of worship.
"They are enjoined to worship none but Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true in faith, and attend to their prayer, and to pay the alms taxes. That is the religion: right and straight." (Holy Qur’an, 98:5).
To pass over the road to perfection, one has to go deeper in monotheism and withdraw his affections from everything and all, but Allah, his Merciful Lord. He has to seek Him and look for Him everywhere and think of nothing but Allah. Whatever keeps man busy other than Allah, it is an idol for him.
We believe that the branches of monotheism are not restricted to the four as mentioned above. We also know other branches of less importance and yet very important, such as the ‘unity of ownership’:
"Know you not that to Allah alone belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth?" (Holy Qur’an, 5:43),
and also such as the ‘unity of sovereignty’, that only God has the supreme power and authority over all, and upon every thing.
“…and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the transgressors.” (Holy Qur’an, 5:47).
We believe that the unity of acts put the emphasis upon this fact that: the great miracles that were performed by the prophets were all with the permission of Allah as we read in the Book about the miracles of Jesus Christ:
"And remember when Allah said to Jesus; O, Jesus the son of Mary! Recount my favors to you and your mother. I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit, So that you spoke to the people in childhood and in maturity. I taught you the book and wisdom. The law and the Gospel. And when you made out of clay the figure of a bird and by my permission you breathed into it and it became a (real) bird! And with my permission you healed the born blind and lepers. You raised the dead by my leave. I restrained the children of Israel from (harming) you when you showed them the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said: This is nothing but evident magic." (Holy Qur’an, 5:113).
When Solomon decided to have the throne of Bilqis transported to his court, so as to alter it to a basis of faith and religion of unity, a large powerful Jinn, and one of his ministers volunteered to bring the throne, thus:
"One who had knowledge of the book said: "I will bring it to you in a twinkle of an eye!" Then when Solomon saw the throne placed in front of him, he said: This is by the Grace of My Lord, so as to test me if I am grateful or not. And he who thanks; thanks for the benefit of his own soul, and my Lord is free of all needs." (Holy Qur’an, 27:42)
We believe in the Angels of God who are assigned to perform different duties. Some of them take God's Divine Guidance through inspiration to the Prophets and Messengers. A group of the angels register the acts of men and women. Some of them take out the souls at the time of death. A group helps the believers who are steadfast to their beliefs. Some help the believers in the sacred battles. Another group's duty is to punish those who transgress the bounds of decency. They do, all that they do with the permission of God; and in His charge, and these fulfillments are not contradictory with the belief of monotheism, and the unity of acts. This also proves that the intercession of the prophets and saints on behalf of the guilty people is in accordance with monotheism, for it is done by the leave of the Lord, God.
"No intercessor can plead with the Lord, except after His Permission. (has been obtained ).” (Holy Qur’an, 10:3)
We shall give more details about this in our discussion on prophethood.
We believe that no one is to be worshipped but the Almighty God. If any one worships any other than Him, he is surely a polytheist. The missions of all the prophets were rotating around the center of the unity of worship. This is frequently mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and all the scriptures. It's remarkable that we Muslims have to repeat in our daily prayers as a slogan that:
"You alone We worship, and only Your aid We seek." (Holy Qur’an, 1:5)
It is evident that the belief in the prophets' intercession which is found in Holy Qur’an is not a sort of worshipping of the prophets or saints. Also, to ask a prophet or saint for a help in solving our problems, is neither worshipping them, nor is it contrary to the unity of acts, the detail of which is given in the chapter on the prophethood.
We believe that although the manifestation of His Essence is found everywhere and in everything; His substance is not known to any one! That is; no one can ever know the innermost depths of His substance. This is because whatever His substance might be, is an infinite being in all aspects and without limits of any kind; just as we are limited in contrast to Him. On this basis no one can ever know what His substance really is!
"Behold! It is He that encompasses all things." (Holy Qur’an, 41:54)
"And Allah surrounds them from behind." (Holy Qur’an, 85:20)
How long would you boast of the wisdom of yours
This road cannot be travelled by thought
You could reach the innermost depth of His substance
If a straw could reach the bottom of an ocean
A tradition is narrated from the Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w): "My Lord! We didn't worship as you deserved; and we couldn't know you as we should have."
Of course this tradition (hadith), doesn't mean that if we cannot know Him thoroughly; then we cannot know Him partially too: or in his the limitless knowledge, we should suffice by learning some words, the meaning of which we cannot go through. This is because the Holy Qur’an and all the Gospels and scriptures are sent to man to help him to know God better and more. These are other instances of this matter too. As an example we do not know what our soul really is and yet we are sure that it exists and we can observe its effects and signs.
A tradition (hadith) is narrated from Imam Baqir (a.s) as follows: "Anything that you may think of, is not the Lord who is the creator, but it is rather a creature created by your thoughts, and conjectures- some creatures just like yourselves, and God is greater than all."
Imam ‘Ali (a.s) has also said: "God has not given to the wisdom, the knowledge of His Essence or Attributes, and yet He has not left the wisdom unaware of Him.”
We believe that as it is not right to suspend our attempts to achieve knowledge of Him and His Attributes, it is also wrong to wander in the fields of comparison, and seeing Him somehow like one of His creatures, as both these ways lead to extremes.
We believe that God has sent a long line of prophets and Messengers for the guidance of mankind towards salvation and perfection. If not so, creation would fail to serve the Creator's purpose, and man would be drowned in the whirlpool of aberrations.
“(Messengers) Who gave glad tidings as well as warning; so that mankind, after the coming of these Messengers, may have no plea against Allah, the exalted in power the wise." (Holy Qur’an, 4:165)
We believe that among all the prophets there are five ‘archprophets’, who are the most prominent because they brought the law, divine books and new religions. The first was Noah, the second was Abraham, the third was Moses, the fourth was Jesus Christ; and the last of them all was Muhammad.
"And remember when We made a covenant with you, as we did with the other prophets: - with Noah and Abraham, with Moses and Jesus the son of Mary. We took from them a solemn covenant, so that Allah might question the truthful about their truthfulness. Allah has prepared for the unbelievers a grievous punishment." (Holy Qur’an, 33:7)
"Bear up them with patience as did the Archprophets before you, and be in no haste about the unbelievers." (Holy Qur’an, 46:35).
We believe that the Holy prophet Muhammad closed the long line of Messengers, and he is the last of the prophets, His Islamic law will cover all the mankind, and will remain until the end of the world. That is to say, the nature of his doctrine and Islamic commandments is so becoming, that they will satisfy all the needs of mankind up to the end. If after Muhammad, any one claims to be a prophet, such is a false claim.
"Muhammad is not the father of any of you men, but he is the Messenger of Allah, and the seal of the prophets. Allah has full knowledge of all things." (Holy Qur’an, 33:40).
Although we believe that Islam is at present the only official religion accepted by God, it does not mean that there cannot be a symbiosis between the followers of Divine Religions, whether they live in Islamic countries or elsewhere. This has an exception of those non-Muslims who are enemies of Islam and Muslims.
"Allah forbids you not, to be kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on your religion, nor driven you out from your homes. Allah loves the equitable.” (Holy Qur’an, 60:8)
We believe that we can make known the truthfulness of Islam to others, by logical and fair discussions. Islam is so logically attractive, that if it be presented clearly and purely, many will be attracted to it. Particularly nowadays, that we see so many eager ears ready to listen to Islam. This is why we believe that we need not to impose our religion on people by force.
"There is no compulsion in religion. The truth is distinct from error. Whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah, has grasped the most trustworthy hand, hold that which never breaks. Allah hears and knows all things.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:256)
We believe that if the Muslims do what their religion tells them to do; their deeds are enough to present and spread Islam. Neither force nor compulsion is needed.
We believe that all the prophets are innocent throughout their lives. This means that by the grace of God they are always guiltless, before and after their prophetic mission. If not so, people would lose confidence in them, and would not know them as good mediators to act between them and God.
If in the Holy Qur’an, guilty acts are ascribed to prophets, it is only that they are: "preferring the better over the best." In other word, the prophets may choose one of the two which is less good and not that which is bad. Sometimes a good work of a good believer might be a sin for the nearest to God and everyone is expected to do what is fitting to them.
We believe that it has been the greatest honor of the prophets to be the obedient servants of God. This is why we repeat in our daily prayers the following phrase: "I testify that Muhammad is the servant of God; and His messenger too."
We believe that none of the prophets have claimed to be a god. "It is impossible that a man to whom is given the scriptures, wisdom, and prophethood; should say to people: "worship me instead of God." On the contrary he would say:
"Be you all devoted servants of God, who is truly the cherisher of all, for you have studied and taught the scriptures." (Holy Qur’an, 3:34)
Also, Jesus Christ has never asked people to worship him:
"Christ does not refuse to serve and worship Allah; Nor do the nearest angels feel contempt to do that. Those who disdain His worship and who are arrogant will be gathered together in front of Him (to answer)" (Holy Qur’an, 4:172)
The histories written today show that among the early Christians of the first century (A.D.), the ‘trinity’ did not exist among them at all; rather it is a concept which appeared later.
Being the servant of God does not prevent the prophet to know the unseen, or the future and the past by the leave of God.
"God alone knows the unseen, nor does He make any one aware of His Mysteries, Except a Messenger whom He has chosen.” (Holy Qur’an, 72:26)
We know that one of the miracles performed by Jesus was to inform people of some of the mysterious affairs.
"... And Jesus said I declare to you what you EAT and what you store in your houses..." (Holy Qur’an, 3:49)
Muhammad the prophet of Islam too, declared many secrets by the way of God's inspiration.
"That is of the unseen reports which we reveal by inspiration unto you." (Holy Qur’an, 12:102)
So the prophets may inform of the unseen through the inspiration of God. It is in the Holy Qur’an that the prophet says:
"I do not tell you not that, with me are the treasure of Allah; nor do I know what is hidden, (the unseen) nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I only follow that which is revealed to me." (Holy Qur’an, 6:50)
This, of course, refers to the substantial knowledge, and not the knowledge obtained by Divine teachings to the prophets.
We believe that these reverend prophets have performed miracles and supernatural acts by the leave of God; and because we believe in their miracles to be with the permission of God, we do not consider that to be a sort of polytheism. According to the Holy Qur’an; Jesus Christ raised the dead to life again and healed the incurable diseases, but only by the leave of God:
“‘By Allah's leave’, said Jesus; ‘I shall give sight to the blind, and heal the lepers, and I raise the dead to life, (with the permission of God.)’” (Holy Qur’an, 3: 49)
We believe that all the prophets, particularly Prophet Muhammad, are in a position to intercede with God on behalf of a certain group of sinners. This intercession must be, and is by the leave of God:
"No intercessor can plead with Him, except after His leave." (Holy Qur’an, 10:3)
"Who is there to intercede in His presence, except with His permission?" (Holy Qur’an, 2:255)
If in some of the Holy Qur’anic verses we see that intercession is rejected, it refers to the absolute intercession, and not that which is by God's leave:
"O, Believers! Bestow in alms a part of that which we have given you, before that day arrives in which there shall be neither trading, nor friendship, and nor intercession." (Holy Qur’an, 2:254)
Here absolute intercession is meant which is without the permission of God. We have always repeated that some of Holy Qur’anic verses explain the others.
We believe that intercession is a good means for training and turning the sinners to the right path. It enjoins virtue and sanctity, and inspires hope in those who deserve it. It is also a notice to the sinners to not ruin the bridges behind themselves, and to leave a little way of return to their Merciful Lord.
We believe that resorting too, is similar to intercession, which permits those who have problems and difficulties to resort to the prophets and saints for help; so that they may pray to God asking Him to solve the problems of the restorers:
"When they oppressed themselves, would they have come to you (i.e. Muhammad) to ask Allah's forgiveness for them; they surely would have found Allah an acceptor of their repentance and the Most Merciful." (Holy Qur’an, 4:64)
In the story of Joseph the dreamer, found in the Holy Qur’an, when his brothers felt regret and repented, they resorted to their father (Jacob) to ask God to forgive them their sins. The old father agreed with their request, and promised to ask for their salvation in due time. In this respect the Holy Book says:
"They said: O, our father! Ask forgiveness for our sins, for we were really at fault. He said, soon I shall ask my Lord to forgive you all, for He is indeed often forgiving and Merciful." (Holy Qur’an, 12:97)
Of course one should not transgress the logical bounds by thinking that the prophets could do as they liked without the permission of God. One should not try to change a case of resorting or interceding into a case of worshipping the prophets and the saints which is then mere polytheism. They substantially can do nothing unless God permits them to do it.
"Say: I have no power over any good or bad to myself, except by the will of Allah. If I had the knowledge of the hidden, I would have availed myself of much goodness, and no harm would have touched me at all. I am only a Warner to all of you and a bringer of glad tiding to those who have faith." (Holy Qur’an, 7:188).
We believe that all the prophets pursued the same aim which is the prosperity of mankind, through faith in God and the resurrection, and by religious training. This is why we respect all the prophets. We learn from the Holy Qur’an:
"The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in that which is revealed to him from his Lord and so do men of faith they all believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, and in all His Messengers. They say: "We make no distinction between any of the prophets. They also say: we hear (The Prophets) and we obey. Our Lord! We seek thy forgiveness, that to you end all the roads." (Holy Qur’an, 2:285)
By the elapse of time, man was prepared to have newer and better training. The religions too, gradually turned deeper and deeper, till at last Islam was revealed with that perfection needed to cover all purposes and all times.
"The unbelievers at this day have all abandoned to despair of vanquishing your religion. Have no fear of them, and only fear me. This day I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed my favor to you, and have chosen for you, Islam to be your religion." (Holy Qur’an, 5:3)
We believe that many of the former prophets have informed their followers of the coming of the next prophet. For instance, Moses and Jesus have given a clear account of the mission of the last of the prophets, Muhammad.
"Those who follow the Messenger the unlettered prophet whom they find mentioned in their own scripture in the Law and the Gospel. He commands them what is just and equitable, and forbids them what is evil" (Holy Qur’an, 7:157)
This is why we read in history that a little while before the coming of Muhammad, a group of Jews came and settled in Medina, waiting for the prophet they expected to appear, as it was foretold in their scripture. (Duet.18:15; JOHN 14:16-25; 15:26; 16:7)
When the prophet came, some of them accepted his doctrine and converted to faithful believers, and some found their material benefits and political positions endangered and rejected the invitation to Islam.
We believe that the Divine Religions sent through the Messengers, particularly Islam, not only improves the social life of the individuals or heeds the moral and ethics of people, but it also covers all the different aspects of the human life. Even the roots of some necessary sciences are taken from them.
We believe that one of the main objects of the Divine leaders and Messengers is to achieve complete social justice:
"We sent our Messengers with clear signs, and sent down with them the Book and the scale (of right & wrong) that man might do justice." (Holy Qur’an, 57:25)
We believe that all the prophets, especially our prophet Mohammad, admitted no racial or tribal advantages for any one. To them, all the races, nations, languages, and color of skin, were of equal value and at the same rank:
"O mankind! We have created you all, from a male and a female; and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know each other. The most honored among you all, in the sight of Allah is the most virtuous one. Allah is All Knowing. All Aware.” (Holy Qur’an, 49:13)
We have a famous tradition that Muhammad was in Mina during the performance of the rites of the Islamic Holy pilgrimage (Hajj). He made a speech for an audience while he was on his camel. He said:
"O People! Know that your God is only one; and all of you are the descendants of one father. No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab and vice versa; Neither a black is better than that with a redskin, except for their Piety. Do you all follow me? "Yes we all understood," said the audience. "Then let those who are present," continued the Messenger of God, "convey this to those who are absent”.
We believe that monotheism, belief in God, and the commandments of the Messengers, are all natural, and based upon the human instinct. The prophets have only watered and grown this fruitful seed.
"So set your face steadily in devotion to the true religion the natural pattern on which God has made mankind. (Let there be) No change in this natural pattern created by Allah. That's the standard religion which most people do not understand.” (Holy Qur’an, 30:30)
This is why throughout history; Man has had some sort of deity and religion. Even those nations, who bore the heavy pressures of anti-religion policies and propagandas, have returned back towards their religion as soon as they obtained some freedom.
Of course it can not be denied, man, for his low culture has often had his true religion mixed with superstitions, and the prophets’ main role was to remove that and clean the mirror of the hearts.
We believe that for the guidance of man, God sent down several divine books, among which we may name: the Sohof given to Noah, the Law given to Moses, the Gospel given to Jesus Christ, and the Holy Qur’an given to Muhammad.
Were these books not sent, human beings would have been led astray, falling afar off from the natural path of piety, ethics, and straight path of truth. Such divine books, like the clouds of mercy, have rained upon the plane of the hearts, bringing to fruit the seeds of knowledge, wisdom and virtues "The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in that which is revealed to him from his Lord, and so do men of faith. They all believe in Allah, His angels, His books, and in all His Messengers. They say: "We make no distinction between any of the prophets." They also say: "We hear the prophets and we obey our Lord!”
“We beg Your forgiveness that to you end all the road." (Holy Qur’an, 2:285)
Unfortunately through long elapse of time, many of the scriptures have been tampered with, and altered to some extent, by the interference of some ignorant and unauthorized people, resulting in the replacement of some wrong thoughts and immoral ideas. Among these an exception is the Glorious Holy Qur’an, which has remained unaltered and is exactly in the same way as it was when revealed by the Almighty; and it has always been shining like the bright sun, throughout the ages and the nations, alighting the hearts.
We believe the Holy Qur’an is the greatest and the most important one, among the many miracles of the Prophet of Islam; not only for its eloquence, fluency, vividness and expressiveness, but rather for other important aspects and wide dimensions of the book, about which broad descriptions have been given by the experts in their books.
We believe that no one can ever bring a book like the Holy Qur’an, even not a chapter comparable to it! This is because the Holy Qur’an frequently asks the doubtful to do it if they can, and all who have endeavored have failed!
"Say: If the whole of mankind and Jinns gather together to make out a book like this Holy Qur’an, they could not do it even if they back up each other with help and support." (Holy Qur’an, 17:88)
"If you are in doubt of what we have revealed to our servant (Muhammad), then produce only one chapter comparable to this book; and call your witnesses or helpers to help you, if there are any besides Allah to assist you; if what you say be true. But if you fail to do so, and certainly you will fail, then fear the Fire whose fuel is man and stones prepared for the unbelievers.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:23)
We believe that age will not make the Holy Qur’an old and out of fashion; but rather its miraculous points and views shall appear more and more clearly, and its greatness shall become more evident to the world. We have a tradition narrated by Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) that: "God has not made the Holy Qur’an to answer a certain age or distinct group of people. It shall always remain fresh, new and lively."
We believe that this book, the Holy Qur’an which is now at the hands of the Muslims, is the exact and unaltered copy of that which was revealed to our prophet Muhammad nothing less and nothing more .A group of trustworthy scribes chosen by the prophet himself took note of the revelations from the very beginning up to the end, and Muslims had it a duty of must, to read and recite the verses by day and night. A large group of Muslims committed the book to memory and a group of them had it on the scrolls.
Those who had the book in their memory and those who could recite it for the others, had always had a very respectful position among the believers. Such customs and else, prevented the least amount of changes or any alteration to take place in the book. Additionally God Himself has promised and guaranteed to look after His book and keep it safe and secure until the end:
"We have without doubt, sent down the Qur’an, and We will assuredly guard it." (Holy Qur’an, 15:9)
All the learned and researchers in Islam, whether Shia or Sunni, agree that even the slightest alteration has not been made to this Holy Book. Some literate persons, discuss some rare and obscure tradition (hadith) that may mean that some changes have taken place, but the highest majority of those who have the knowledge of Islam, reject that, taking it be false and the mistake of some unaware commentators. Such improvident who lack forethought, by such false ideas strike upon the validity of the most important Divine Book, in contrast to the belief of all the learned Muslims of different sects, which maintain that the Holy Qur’an is unaltered for the least word. These unwise friends, water the mills of the enemy through their ignorance and bring into question the book which is sent by Allah, and has been promised to be guarded by Allah.
If we carefully study the ways that the book was revealed to the prophet and collected by the chosen scribes, and how it was guarded, written, memorized and recited by so many firm and true believers, no doubt remains as to any alteration or the change of even an epsilon in the whole work. On the other hand, of the imaginary or assumed Holy Qur’an with some alteration, not ever a copy exists anywhere, or in any hand, so as to differ with the famous Holy Qur’an which all the Muslims hold as their sacred divine book. Today the Holy Qur’an is found in every house and in every library.
Even those Qur’ans written several hundred years ago are kept in our museums and those in the non-Islamic countries too, and no one can find the least differences in all the existing Qur’ans throughout the world. Today the roads to investigations are open to all, and anyone who doubts, may look for it himself and make sure that the Holy Qur’an has not been altered in the least.
"So announce glad tidings to My Servants, to those who listen to My precepts, and follow what is the best in them. Those are the ones that Allah has guided and those are endued with understanding." Holy Qur’an, 39:17
Today in our religious schools the knowledge of the Holy Qur’an is extensively taught, and one of the most important of our lessons in this field is the inability to change the Holy Qur’an.
We believe that whatever is needed in spiritual and physical dimensions of man is fundamentally found in the Holy Qur’an. All the governmental and political tenets, all the social principles, the bases of symbiosis, the fundamentals of war and peace, the elements of judgments and economics, and whatever is needed, can be traced in the Holy Book and extracted for use, so as to alight the space of human life:
"And We have sent down to you the book, explaining all things; It is a guide, a Mercy, and Glad tidings to Muslims." (Holy Qur’an, 16: 89)
This is why we believe that Islam is not distanced from politics and diplomacy. This belief requires the Muslims to rule over themselves, so as to revive the precious Islamic values in their societies, leading towards justice and equity. A Muslim must be just and fair to his enemy as he shows justice to friends:
"O Believers! Stand up firmly to hold justice, and be as a witness to Allah, even against yourselves or your parents or your kins, and whether it be against rich or poor for God is preferable to all that follow not your lusts, lest you swerve. If you fail to do justice, verily Allah is aware of all that you do." (Holy Qur’an, 4:135)
"O Believers! Stand up firmly for the sake of Allah, and bear true witness, and let not the hatred for other men, turn you away from doing justice. Deal justly. Justice is nearer to piety. Have fear of Allah. He is aware of all that you do.” (Holy Qur’an, 5:8)
We believe that the recitation of the Holy Qur’an is the best of worship, because it inspires the reciter to think and to contemplate, where by actions may result.
The Holy Qur’an addressing the Prophet Muhammad says:
"Keep vigil all the night (in prayer) except for a few hours, half the night, more or less; and with measured, and in rhythmic tone recite the Holy Qur’an." (Holy Qur’an, 73:2- 4)
And addressing all the Muslims, Holy Qur’an has:
"Read you the Holy Qur’an as much as you can." (Holy Qur’an, 73:20)
"Do they not contemplate the Qur’an, (so as to catch its meanings) or their hearts are locked up?" (Holy Qur’an, 47:24)
"And We have indeed made the Holy Qur’an, easy to understand and remember. Then is there anyone who may receive admonition?" (Holy Qur’an, 54:17)
"And Holy Qur’an is a book which We have revealed as a blessing: So follow it, and be righteous, so that you receive God's Mercy." (Holy Qur’an, 6:158)
Therefore those who read Holy Qur’an, without any contemplation and action, lose a lot for ignoring two main important elements (thought and act) and grasping only one (reading).
We believe that some mysterious hands have always tried to deviate and swerve Muslims from contemplation and thought over the verses of the Holy Qur’an. The Omayyed and BaniAbbas dynasties engaged the Muslims on void disputes, to answer the questions: ‘whether the Holy Qur’an is old or new? Is it created or is eternally old as God?’ Such prolonged controversies divided the united Muslims into rival groups altercating and fighting each other. Today we know that a lot of blood has been shed as a result of such nonsense arguments and quarrels, for nothing.
While anyone with common sense can answer that easily: If by Holy Qur’an, the paper and ink, the cover and the painting is meant, it is certainly created and is something new. On the other hand if by Qur’an the meaning is the aim, it is certainly among the knowledge of God, and since God's Attributes are not apart of His substance, one may say that Holy Qur’an is as old as God Himself.
But the inhumane, merciless governors attempted to keep Muslims busy on these useless subjects; and nowadays too, we see that the same thing and similar affairs happen in Muslim societies, so as to keep them aside from contemplating and thinking.
We believe that the words of the Qur’an should commonly be taken for their fundamental meanings and not for their connotations, with the exception of some, that clear reasons prove them to mean otherwise. The verses in the Holy Qur’an should never be commentated on the basis of conjectures or self-interests. As an instance when we read in Holy Qur’an:
"And he who was blind in this world, will be blind in the hereafter (next world), and most astray from the path (of salvation).” (Holy Qur’an, 17:72)
We are sure enough that ‘blind’ in this verse does not mean, sightless. It rather means someone who has lost his sense of understanding and judgment, and not him who has lost his sense of sight. This is because there are many who are blind, virtuous and truthful. But on the contrary, there are many who can see well with their eyes, but who are out of mind and their hearts are locked up and cannot use even their common senses. As another example we may consider the following verse about the enemies of Islam:
"The parable of those who reject faith is that of a man (i.e. the prophet) who calls an animal that can hear nothing except a shout or cry. Deaf, dumb and blind are they, and void of wisdom. (They understand nothing).” (Holy Qur’an, 2:171)
It is evident that those heretics, who are addressed here, were not deaf, dumb or blind. We then may conclude that they were mentally such. We also read such verses in our Holy Qur’an:
"The hands of God are widely out stretched.” (Holy Qur’an, 5: 67)
"O, Noah! Construct the ark under Our (Allah) eyes." (Holy Qur’an, 11: 37)
We do not understand that God has physical hands or eyes. We rather take hands to mean God’s power and the eye to mean His knowledge. This is because any material or matter consists of parts and needs time and space, as well as direction and is of course perishable. The God Almighty is far Greater and beyond having such attributes. We never take the fundamental meaning of such words as mentioned above.
"We sent not any Messenger, except to teach in the language of his own people, in order to clear things for them." (Holy Qur’an, 14:4)
We believe that self-commentary of (Holy Qur’an, i.e. to use one's own views and interests in comments) is a very dangerous attempt in relation to the Holy Qur’an, and of course one of the great sins. Through a tradition, God says: "He who commentates on any words with his own views and self-interest does not believe in Me!"
Evidently had he been a believer, he would not commentate on the words of Sahih Tirmidhi (pg 304), it is written that the prophet has said: "He who commentates on the Holy Qur’an by his lusts, and on the basis of self-interest, or what he knows not, he should prepare himself to join the fire of Hell."
By self-commentary we mean to describe or explain the Holy Qur’anic verses by one's own point of view. Such a commentator is not a follower of the Holy Qur’an; He rather tries to make us to follow his lusts and conjectures. If the gates of self-commentaries were to be kept open to the Holy Qur’an, the sacred Book will lose importance and soon will be of no value among all, because everyone could then seek to compare and conform his false ideas to the Holy Qur’an, as evidence. Also, self-commentary is also in contrast with the accepted rules and regulations of Arabic literature and linguistics.
The likening of Quran's verses to one's fancies and conjectures will cause deviation and swerving in the straight path of the book. Self-commentary consists of several branches, among which, to confront the self-interests is one. To make it short, the unreasonable grasp of the fundamental meaning of the word of the Holy Qur’an and self-commentary of the Book, may lead to deviation from the truth, and both ways will keep the believer far apart from the excellent commandments and blissful teaching of the Glorious Holy Qur’an.
We believe that no one should say the Book of God is enough for our guidance, ignoring the true traditions that we have received as to what the prophet said or how he behaved. For these traditions may serve to explain the realities, and clear the meanings of some of the more difficult verses in the Book to show us better the roots and branches of our religion This is because the Holy Qur’an has declared that the words, and the methodological way (Sunnah) of the prophet should serve as an example for us; as that of God's.
"So take whatever the Messengers assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you, and fear Allah, for Allah is strict in punishment." (Holy Qur’an, 59:7)
"It is not becoming to a believer, whether man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and by His Messenger, to have any option. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger he is on a clearly wrong path." (Holy Qur’an, 33:36)
"He (i.e. Mohammad) does not speak out of his own fancy, His speech is none except that which is inspired to him from God. (i.e. what he says is none but inspired revelation).” (Holy Qur’an, 53:2)
Those who are indifferent to the sunnah of the prophet are in fact ignoring the Holy Qur’an and the inspired revelation. Of course whatever is related to the prophet must be clearly proved: That, it really was said by the prophet, and it is not forged. We cannot easily accept whatever is ascribed to the prophet to be truly from him!
Imam ‘Ali(a.s) in one of his speeches collected in the famous book named Nahjul Balagha, has said: "So many lies were forged and ascribed to the prophet so much that one day he got up and said to an audience. `He who ascribes a lie to me should prepare himself to take his place in the Fire of Hell’.” A similar tradition is also written in the famous book Sahih Bokhari.
We believe that the traditions and orders of the innocent Imams are all taken from the prophet, through their fathers, and are all to be obeyed. There is a famous tradition related by successive witnesses: "I have left among you two heavy things to prevent you being misled: The Book of Allah and my nearest kin(family)”
On the other hand, whatever the saints have said, are narrations from the prophet. The prophet foresaw the future and to solve its problems, laid the key in the hands of his nearest kins and The Book of Allah. How can a true Muslim ignore such a firm and important narration? If the above tradition was considered precisely, our present difficulties in faith, comments, and the disputes in jurisprudence, would not exist.
We believe that all men and women will be raised up on a certain day after death. They all will be judged, and those who are good and virtuous shall live in Paradise (the garden of bliss), and the sinners will join the fire in Hell.
"Allah, there is no God but He. Of a surety He will gather you all together in the resurrection day about which there is no doubt, and whose word can be truer than Allah?" (Holy Qur’an, 4:87)
"As for he who transgressed and chose this present life, his abode will be Hellfire. And as for those who feared to stand before their LORD, and restrained their souls from lusts, (low desires) their abode will be Paradise." (Holy Qur’an, 79:37)
We believe that this world is only a bridge that man should pass over so as to join an eternal life; or in other words it may be a farm, to sow here and to harvest in the hereafter or else it may be taken as a market to provide for the next life to come. About our life, Imam ‘Ali (a.s) says: "This world is a place of truth for him who confronts it with truthfulness. It is a house (means) for being free of want, for him who gathers provisions from it and stores for his next life. It is a place of awareness for him who takes advice from it. It is the mosque of the friends of God, a place of worship for the angels; where God's inspiration is sent down, and a trade market for God's friends."
We believe that the reasons to prove the resurrection are very clear, because, it can easily be seen that this mortal life cannot be a reasonable object, and the final goal for such a creation; i.e. to come and live here for a short period, living with immense hardships and difficulties, and then end to nothing or to some dusts! Is that what is meant by our complex creation?
"Do you think that we have created you for nothing (in jest), and that you would not return to us?" (Holy Qur’an, 23:115)
Secondly, in this world the evildoers are usually in one line with the beneficent and some times higher than equity which doesn't agree with the great justice of God. So there must be a way to distinguish the bad from the good and the false from the truth.
"Do the evildoers think that they are equal in our sight, with the believer who does good works, so that their lives and deaths are alike? How bad they judge!” (Holy Qur’an, 45:21)
Thirdly; the Infinite Mercy of God necessitates that His Mercy and Bounties come not to an end by man's death.
"Say to him belongs all that heavens and the earth contain. Say Allah; He has inscribed Mercy for Himself and will gather you all on the day of resurrection. That day is sure to come. Those who have lost their own souls are those who will never have faith." (Holy Qur’an, 6:12)
Addressing those who doubt about the resurrection asks: How do they doubt the Power of the Almighty to raise the dead? While they already have seen God's first creation, beginning by making them out of soil:
"Were we weary with the first creation that they should be in confused doubt about a new creation?" (Holy Qur’an, 50:15)
"And he (the unbeliever) makes comparisons for us, and forgets his own creation. He asks: `Who will give life to the rotten bones?' Say: He who created them for the first time will give them life again, He has knowledge of every creature.” (Holy Qur’an, 36:78)
Besides that; is the creation of man important in comparison with that of heavens and the earth? He who was able to create such a vast, and strange world, is He not able to raise the dead?
"Do they not see that Allah who created the heavens and the earth, and was not wearied by their creation can raise the dead to life? Yes, He Has Power to do everything." (Holy Qur’an, 46:33)
We believe that not only the soul, but the soul and body of man will both be raised to life on the day of resurrection. This is because whatever is done here is done by both the soul and the body; so the reward too should be given to both of them. Most of the Holy Qur’anic verses which refer to resurrection have put the stress on corporeal raise of the body as well as the soul. In answer to the amazed questioner, who asked the prophet: who raises the dead? The Holy Qur’an answers:
“He who gave them their first creation can easily raise them once again. Does man think that we cannot assemble his bones once again? Yes! We are able to remold the very Tips of his fingers." (Holy Qur’an, 75:3)
Such verses also denote that the resurrection is corporeal too. There are also verses that report of getting out of our graves, proving the resurrection to be bodily.
We believe that whatever will happen after death, and in the Paradise, or Hell, is far above what we see here!
"No one knows what delights of the eyes, (the real bliss that gives most satisfaction) are kept hidden for them as a reward for their good deeds." (Holy Qur’an, 32:17)
Through a famous tradition, God says: "I have prepared for my virtuous servants bliss that no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard and no heart has ever comprehended."
As a matter of fact, in this world we are similar to a foetus in the mother's womb! If the foetus could have a mind and wisdom he could certainly know nothing of whatever is outside the womb, such as the sun, the bright moon, the beautiful flowers and the roaring sea-waves. It is important to note that similarly, so is this world to the hereafter; it is comparable with the womb in relation to the next.
We believe that on Doomsday, the ‘Record Book’ of whatever we have done, will be given to us. The record of those who are sanctified will be given to them in their right hand, and that of the wrongdoers shall be given to them in their left hand. By reading the book of their deeds the virtuous will be happy and the evildoers anxious:
"He who is given his record in his right hand will say: `Take mine and read it! I knew that I would come to my account.' And he will be in a blissful life, in a lofty garden with clusters of fruit within his reach We shall say to him: Eat and drink to your happiness. Here is your reward for what you did in days gone by. And as for him whose book is given to his left hand, will say: `Ah! Would that my record had not been given to me! Would that I knew nothing of my account. Would that death had made an end of me. My wealth has availed me nothing, and I am bereft of all my power’." (Holy Qur’an, 69:19)
As for the book; how it is written or read, no one knows enough, but nobody can deny its existence. The particularities of that day are such that we cannot know it in detail, but generally we know what is going to happen.
We believe that in the final judgment, besides God who is controlling all the judgments, there are other witnesses too; such as the hands and feet; the skin and even the ground upon which we live. All of these will testify as to what we have done before!
"That Day, We should set a seal on their mouths(shut them up), and their hands will speak to us, and their feet shall bear witness to all that they did." (Holy Qur’an, 36:65)
"When they reach it, their ears and their skins will testify to their misdeeds! `Why did you speak against us?' they will say to their skins? And their skins will reply: ‘Allah, who gives speech to all, has made us to speak’." (Holy Qur’an, 41:20)
"When the Earth is shaken to her utmost convulsion and man asks: `What may this mean?' On that day will she declare her reports, because your Lord has inspired her to do so?" (Holy Qur’an, 99:4)
We believe that on Doomsday, the passageway (serat) and the scale for weighing our deeds do exist. By the ‘passageway’, a bridge is meant, which is laid over Hell, and every one must pass over that bridge to reach Paradise! Yes!
"There is not one of you who shall not pass through the confines of Hell! Such is the absolute decree of your Lord. We will deliver those who fear us, but the wrongdoers shall be left to endure its torments on their knees." (Holy Qur’an, 19:71)
Passing through that hard passageway, depends on what one had done before. We read a famous tradition thus: "Some people will pass the bridge as quick as a lightning! Some pass it over as fast as a speedy horse, others like the pedestrians. A group will go on, leaning on their hands and feet, and some are hung by their hands, trying to pass over the blaze of Hell. So Hell catches some and leaves some to go to the gardens of Bliss; as for the scale, it is a means by which the human deeds are measured and weighed so as to specify their values:
"We shall set up the scales of justice on the Day of Judgment, and not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it to account; and enough are We as the accountant." (Holy Qur’an, 21:47)
"Then he whose scales (of good deeds) are heavy, shall dwell in bliss, but he whose balances (of good deeds) are light, the Abyss shall be his home." (Holy Qur’an, 101:6)
We believe that salvation in the next life depends only on one's deeds and acts and not on his fancies and thoughts. There, nobody can be redeemed unless by piety and good deeds, and the Grace of God.
"Every soul will be held in pledge for its deeds." (Holy Qur’an, 74:38)
This is a brief description about the scale, the detail of which we know not, because the world to come is far above the lower world within which we are imprisoned.
We believe that on doomsday the prophets and the innocent saints might intercede on behalf of some sinners with God, and plea for their forgiveness. We should not forget that such intercession is only permitted for those who have not entirely cut off their relation with God, and His Messengers. Therefore the intercession is not done unconditionally:
"He knows what is before them and what is after them, and they (i.e. the messengers) offer no intercession except for those who are conformed, to the will of God, and they (all) stand in awe and reverence of God's Glory." (Holy Qur’an, 21:28)
As we have already mentioned, intercession is a way to train man, a means of preventing him to drown in the sea of sins, while it may teach him to repent and return to his Merciful Lord from evil. Certainly the highest rank of intercession belongs to the Messengers, and then it lowers to the saints, to the learned, the martyrs, and true believers, to the extent of a few of their relatives. In a tradition narrated by Imam Sadiq (a.s) we have: "There are none among the first and the last, who are not in need of Muhammad's intercession in doomsday.” And also in another tradition we have:
"There are five intercessors on Doomsday:
1. The Holy Qur’an
2. Observation of bonds of kinship
4. Your prophet (Muhammad)
5. Your prophet's nearest kins (Ahlul-Bayt)”
We have also received another tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s): "On the resurrection day God raises the Ascetic worshipper and the learned believer to life. He will say to the Ascetic worshipper: `Go and live in my Paradise.' But He will say to the learned: `Stay here, and intercede on behalf of the people.' This tradition contains a minutely fine point about the philosophy of intercession.
We believe that between death and resurrection, there is a third world, called Barzakh, in which the souls of all the human beings who die will live until they are raised again:
"When death comes they say: `My Lord! Turn me back to life in order that I may do the good works which I have neglected.' No! BY NO MEANS! (is the answer to their request) This is what they ask, but over them is the Barzakh." (A world in which people shall live after death and before judgment.)” (Holy Qur’an, 23:94)
We do not know much about this world which is in between resurrection and death and is called Barzakh, but we know that therein the sanctified souls, like the martyrs and the pious live a blissful life:
"Do not think of those who are slain for the sake of God, as deeds. No! They are alive, and have their sustenance in the presence of their Lord They rejoice for what Allah gives them out of His bounty; and with regard to those left behind, (the believers who are not dead yet) who have not yet joined them, the martyrs give glad tiding, not to fear, nor have they any cause to grieve They give good news of the bounty of Allah, and that God will not leave the rewards of the faithful to be lost." (Holy Qur’an, 3:169)
On the other hand the souls of the oppressors and the rebels and their followers and evildoers are all under torture in their life in Barzakh. They are brought (i.e. The Pharoh’s Followers) in front the fire in the morning, and evening, and when they are raised for the final Judgment, the companion of Pharoh are cast into the severest penalty." (Holy Qur’an, 40:46)
A third group with less guilt is neither among the first group nor among the second ones. In the world after death they are somehow like a sleeper who sleeps by death and awakes by resurrection.
"When the hour of doom overtakes them, the wrong doers will swear that they tarried not in (Barzakh) but an hour, and thus they are ever deceived But those who are endued with knowledge and faith will say: `You have stayed till the day of resurrection, as was decreed by Allah, and this is the day of resurrection yet you did not know it’." (Holy Qur’an, 30: 56)
In an Islamic tradition it is narrated by the prophet who said: "The grave is either a Garden of Bliss of the Paradise: or on Abyss of the Hell.”
We believe that the rewards in the hereafter are corporeal as well as incorporeal; (i.e. spiritual) because the resurrection is spiritual as well as bodily. Whatever is written in the Holy Qur’an about the fruitful gardens in Paradise with streams flowing beneath its trees (9: 89) with perpetual foods and shades, (13:35) and the beautiful clean wives there in, with whom they marry (chapter 3:15), and also about the penalty and punishments in hell, and that burning fire, are all evidences that the rewards there are corporeal.
And more important are the spiritual rewards that are promised to the faithful believer, such as being near to God, and seeing the manifestations of God's Glory and beauty. These are among the pleasures that no eyes has seen and no tongue can describe. The Holy Qur’an describes some of the verses in the material bounties and Graces of God in the Paradise, end with phrases such as: ‘The pleasure of Allah.’
"But the greatest of all the blesses, is the PLEASURE of God which is the supreme felicity". (Holy Qur’an, 9:72)
There is not an enjoyment higher for a man to see that he is accepted by his Lord, and God is pleased with him!
A tradition is narrated by Imam Zain al-Abideen(a.s) saying: "God will say to those in Paradise: ‘My love and pleasure for you is far above the bounties with which you live in felicity.’"
What a pleasure can be higher for a man who is addressed by his Lord that:"O You Serene Soul! Return to your LORD! Joyful and pleasing in his sight. Enter My Paradise and join My Servants." (Holy Qur’an, 89:27)
We believe that as God has decreed to send His Messengers with divine guidance, for every age or time God has appointed an Imam to look after the people, leading them to the righteous path and to guard the divine law against any deviation. An Imam has to clearly know the necessities of the ages, and lead the people to the true path of God; he invites and teaches the people to obey the prophets and to follow the law. If not so, man will fail to obtain the goal for which he has been created (i.e. prosperity and perfection) and divine law will be abandoned and people will wander astray.
This is why we believe that after our prophet, in any age or time there has always been and there will always be, an Imam to teach and to lead the people. ‘Imam’ primarily means: `he who is foremost-hence a religious leader, a model, a pattern or one who leads the congregational prayer’.
"O, You who believe! Fear Allah and be with those who are truthful.” (Holy Qur’an, 9:119)
This verse of Holy Qur’an does not refer to a certain time or a distinct age. It rather unconditionally orders the people to be the followers of the ‘truthful’ Imam. All the famous commentators have taken the word ‘truthful’ to mean an innocent Imam who is free of guilt and sin (infallible).
We believe that Imamate is not only the apparent rulership or leadership of a caliph, but rather a high spiritual or religious position. Besides ruling and governing the Islamic society, an Imam has the overall leadership of this mortal life of people as well as that of the hereafter. He guides the soul and mind of people, and guards against any deviation from the law. Meanwhile, he leads at the level of expectations assigned by the prophet.
This is the same high rank that God gave to Abraham after passing the stages and steps of prophethood as well as many other exams. When Abraham asked his Lord to assign the position of Imamate to some of his near kins, he was answered that this title or position will not be given to the oppressors or sinners.
"And remember when Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commandments which he fulfilled, God said to him: `I will make you an Imam to the people.' He said: `What about making Imams out of my offspring?' God answered: `No! My covenant is not within the reach of the oppressors’.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:124)
It is evident that such a high moral and religious position cannot be abridged or lowered to an apparent rulership or leadership, or else the verse will not hand over a reasonable meaning or sense. We believe that all the arch prophets had the dignity and grade of Imamate through their prophethood. This is because whatever they decreed by their prophethood, they put it to work as leaders.. So was the great prophet of Islam, when at the beginning of his mission he conveyed the messages of God to God’s servants, and meanwhile he carried out his leadership, teaching people and leading them to the path of truth.
We believe that after the prophet Muhammad, his mission was continued by the infallible Imams who succeeded him from among his nearest kin and their offspring. By the definitions given above, to reach the high rank of an Imam is very difficult and heavy conditions are to be observed, such as piety to the level of innocence, having the highest level of knowledge of religion and the law, and also full acquaintance with the human needs in any age or time.
We believe that an Imam should be free of guilt or sin. As a matter of fact one who is not infallible, cannot be trusted to teach the realities of the law and the tenets of a divine religion. It is for his innocence that we hold an Imam's word or deed as a religious proof.
We believe that an Imam has to know all about the roots and branches, and the commandments of Islam. He has to know the full meanings and the exegesis of Holy Qur’an, and that he takes his knowledge from the prophet or the previous Imam; and it is such a knowledge which is trustworthy among our people (the Shi’a).
We believe that an Imam who is the successor of the prophet must be clearly and openly appointed by the Messenger of God. An Imam's appointment also is like that of the prophet and has to be decided by God Himself .This is because the distinction of piety at the level of innocence, and such high level of knowledge required in order to allow someone to be an Imam, is at the power of God and His messenger, and no one else. We therefore do not know our Imams as those elected by the vote or choice of people.
We believe that the prophet of Islam appointed all the twelve Imams as his successors, one after the other. In Sahih Muslim (a famous reference book of the Ahlul Sunnah Muslims), we read: "In a place between Mecca and Medina which is named Ghadir Khumm, the prophet made a speech to thousands of Muslims, through which he said: "I am about to leave you for good. I am leaving two heavy things among you after me: The Holy Qur’an is the first one in which you may find light and guidance; and my nearest kins are the second. I advise you all not to forget God in relation to my Kins. Not to forget God in relation to My Kins.” The prophet then added: "If you grasp the two heavy things that I leave among you; you will never go astray.” The same tradition is also written in Sahih Tirmidhi (another famous reference book of the Ahlul Sunnah Muslims).1
Therefore, no Muslim can deny this tradition which is related by successive witnesses and important writers. We rely also on another famous tradition which is narrated in Sahih Muslim, Sahih Tirmidhi and Sahih Abi Dawood and other famous books that our prophet has said: "Islam will stand up to the resurrection day and until twelve Imams all of whom are from Quraysh rule over you as my successors.” We believe that there is no acceptable commentaries for such traditions as mentioned above except that belief which is found among our sect, the Shi’a.
We believe that the prophet, in several occasions has introduced and designated Imam ‘Ali(a.s) as his successor by the decree of God, an instance of which was in the Ghadir Khomm somewhere near Juhfah. When the prophet was returning from his last pilgrimage (Hajj) he made a speech to a great gathering of his companions and followers, saying: "Do I not have priority over your souls? Yes, of course. They all answered. Then all of you know that, continued the prophet. Of whomever I am the Master, ‘Ali shall be his master.”
Here we do not intend to go deep through reasoning to prove our ideas, we also do not intend to insist upon our assertion. We may only add here that such an important tradition is not something to be ignored easily, or changing what it means, as by taking the ‘Master’=’Mawla’ to mean a friend particularly when we see that the prophet has put so much stress and emphasis upon the word, so as to make it known to all!
Is this not the same case that; Ibni Asir has brought in his important history book saying: "At the beginning off his prophetic mission, the prophet was ordered by God (26:214) to admonish his nearest kindred. He invited some forty men of them to a dinner, and by a miracle, he fed all of them from a single portion of food! He then made a speech and finally said to them: Which of you is willing to give me a truthful hand in this Divine Mission of mine, and become my brother and successor among all? No one answered him there, except Imam ‘Ali, who said: I will be your companion and minister: and the prophet pointed at Imam ‘Ali and said: He is my brother and my successor among you.”
Thus we see the prophet to have designated his vicegerent and Imam, from the beginning of his mission. The same case also happened at the end of his mission when the prophet was at his death bed. He asked those who were round him to get him a pen and paper to write an order which would prevent them from going astray. One of them rejected and refused to provide pen and paper and even accused the prophet of uttering delirious speech! To repeat again, we hereby only declare our belief in brief and with little reasoning.
We believe that each one of the twelve Imams has been introduced by the previous ones. The first one of them was Imam ‘Ali the son of Abu Talib, who was succeeded by Imam Hassan his first born son, and then Imam Hussain, the Master of Martyrs, his second born son. The third Imam was ‘Ali the son of Imam Hussain, then came his son Muhammad Al-Baqir. Then Jafar Al-Sadiq and then his son Musa Al-Kazim. Then his son ‘Ali bin Musa Al-Reza. The ninth of them was Muhammad Al-Taqi, then his son ‘Ali Al-Naqi. After him, it was his son Imam Hassan Askari, who was the father of Al-Mahdi, the twelfth and the last of them all, whom we believe to be already living.
The idea of a ‘saviour’ who has to come to fill the world with justice, when it has been full of oppressions is accepted almost by all the Muslims of different sects, and many of the Ahlul Sunnah scholars and men of knowledge have declared that in their books few years ago. In answer to a question about the existence of Al-Mahdi, the Islamic World Relations Society issued a pamphlet to emphasize on the surety that he will come. In that pamphlet many evidences and documents were presented to prove that many of the Muslims believe that Al-Mahdi will be born in future, but the Shi’as believe that he has already been born, and so far he has lived a long life, and by the decree of God, he shall appear one day to fill the world with justice.
We believe that none of the prophet's companions did, or could excel Imam ‘Ali(a.s) in any respect; and that Imam ‘Ali (a.s) was at the highest religious position other than that of the prophets. Of course we know it to be unlawful to misrepresent the Imam by overstating him and by exaggerations.
Those who prove for him the position of deity or something like that are all heretics in our sight, as are those who undervalue him, and we are absolutely disgusted with their belief, although they might call themselves the Shi’a of Imam ‘Ali(a.s) and mingle their names with ours. The leading Shi’as and the orthodox have always rejected the two groups who either over or under value the Imam, and have called and taken them as heretics.
We believe that there were many great men of devotion and chastity among the companions of the prophet; but all of them were not so, because the Holy Qur’an declares many among them as being hypocrites! There were also men who, after the prophet, broke their allegiance with the vicegerent of God and made wars and shed the blood of thousands of Muslims only because they have been with the prophet or they carry the title of a `companion' of the prophet. In other word, how can we judge that both of the two parties who made the battles of Siffin and Jamal were ‘rightful’ and on the ‘righteous path’? How can both of the two groups of combatants be honest and truthful?
Some bring forth the foot of religious researches and self-exegesis on the ground by saying that: `Surely one of the two parties was wrong and oppressive, but as they were taking their decisions by their exegesis, both parties were on righteousness in the sight of God. This, we cannot accept easily.
How could one with his own exegesis and self-comprehensions break his allegiance and loyalty to the Vicegerent of God, who is entitled to obedience, and create such fearful wars between Muslims, grouping them and shedding streams of their blood. Can this be justified by simply claiming to follow one’s exegesis and personal advisors? What else then cannot be justified by such personal comprehensions and self-commentaries? Let us be more frank, that everyone, even the nearest companions of the prophet are held in pledge of their deeds and are responsible for what they have done and have to answer for it:
"The most honored off you in Allah's sight, is he who is the most virtuous (chaste) of you.” (Holy Qur’an, 49:13)
The above holy verse is true for all even for the nearest companions of the prophet. We therefore have to judge them by their deeds, and we should have a reasonable definition for them all. Those who were truthful in the presence of the messenger and in his absence too, did their best to guard the religion and to observe his commandments. They remained faithful to their covenant and respected their promises. On the other hand, those among his companions who were hypocrites and vexed him did the same after him. Whatever they did was against Islam and Muslims.
“You shall find no believer in Allah and the last judgment to love those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they be their father, their sons, their brothers, or their nearest kindred. Allah has inscribed the faith in their hearts and Has strengthened them with a spirit of His, God will admit them to the Gardens of Bliss, beneath which streams flow, wherein they shall live forever. They are the Party of Allah, and Allah's party shall achieve felicity.” (Holy Qur’an, 58:22)
We believe that those who harmed the prophet in his presence or absence are not worthy of admiration. Of course we must not forget that some of the companions of the prophet showed the utmost truthfulness and sincerity with the greatest self-sacrifices and have been admired by God Himself and so were a group who followed them later.
"The vanguard of Islam; the first of those who forsook their homes, and of those who gave them aid; and also those who followed them in good deeds:
“Well pleased is Allah with them and them with Allah. For them prepared Gardens of Bliss, under which streams flow. They dwell there in forever. That's the Supreme Felicity.” (Holy Qur’an, 9:100)
This is our belief about the companions of our prophet.
According to the order of our prophet: “To observe the Holy Qur’an and His Nearest Kins” and also to the innocence of the Imams, our jurisprudence of divine law is also based upon the words, deeds and consents (doing something in front of them without having their objection) of the innocent Imams. The three factors, i.e. words, deeds, and consent of our Imams are accepted proofs for us. We have to note also that whatever an Imam says; it is a narration of the prophet through his fathers. This is to say whatever an Imam says, has indeed been said by the prophet.
Imam Baqir(a.s) told one of his students named Jabir: "That which we convey to you is what we have taken out of a treasure that belongs to our prophet Mohammad." Through another tradition from Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) we read: "Someone asked him a question and the Imam answered him. The man began to dispute about the answer. Imam told him: `The answer I gave you was that of the prophet and you have no right to dispute.’"
Another remarkable point to note is about the important books on collected traditions such as: Kaafi, Tahzib Estebsar and Man La Yahzarohol Faghih, that we have and we use. Although these books are much trusted in our view, it does not mean to us that whatever is written in them is true and acceptable by us. Besides the above mentioned tradition books, we also have the books of ‘who is who’ about personalities e.g Al Rijal – The Men. Through such books we investigate the personalities of the narrators of the tradition and also about their chains of documents and references so as to make sure that a tradition is true and correct. Therefore, however important and trustworthy a book might be, to accept a tradition from it has to convince us that it reads and is compatible with our standard, or else we shall reject it. Some Islamic sects have their own collection of traditions (hadith) which they know to be correct (sahih) .The authors have named their books, `The Correct (Sahih)’ and some men of importance might have admitted that these are correct, but in our sight, a tradition only is correct when it is reasonably proved to have been said by the prophet.
Besides what was said in the previous chapters about our ‘belief, there are other specialties in our ideas that will follow in this chapter.
We believe that human wisdom can appreciate many good things to distinguish from the bad ones, and right from wrong; by his blissful power of distinction which God has given him. Even before coming of the prophets with the law, man could rationally distinguish many good and bad. For instance he could easily understand that justice is good and oppression is bad.
Man could know that some ethics such as truthfulness, honesty, bravery and generosity are good deeds; and that, lying; betrayal and jealousy are bad morals. But as the wisdom is not able to comprehend all that is good or bad, and his knowledge is limited, the prophets were sent with book for guidance and the law to improve man's faculty and morals, helping his wisdom. In that of course we deny not the value of the independent wisdom which comprehends the facts.
If so, the monotheism, the prophetic missions, and the divine religion, will all be futile! For all these important tenets are basically proved by the reasoning of the wisdom. It is evident that the law and the commandments are only acceptable when the principles which are monotheism and prophethood have been proved to us through wisdom, and by the religion itself.
We do believe in God's justice, and we say it is impossible for God to oppress any creature of His at the least amount, or to punish His servants without any reason or to forgive them without a reason. It is also impossible that God may leave His promises unfulfilled. We also know it to be impossible that God may abandon His servants without giving them necessary guidance. Associating such indecent and foul labels with the Omnipotent God is clearly far from the truth and reality.
We believe that God has created Man free. He has given us free will and we have options to do what we may do. If not so, why should He punish a sinner who is supposed to be compelled to commit sins?
To make it short, rationally distinguishing good and bad as mentioned above, and independent wisdom are bases for the acceptance of divine religion, scriptures and the prophets, but not enough, because we have a limited wisdom, by which we cannot grasp all that we need. So we have to have divine guidance for improving our wisdom and understanding.
Following what we mentioned above, one of the principle references in Islam is wisdom's reasoning. The wisdom comprehends something definitely and then judges. For instance; if we find no reason or proof in the book or in the prophet's methodical way (sunnat) to show us that oppression, betrayal, lying and committing murder are very bad and unlawful deeds, we would certainly reject them by the reasoning of our wisdom, and we make sure that God never likes us to do such things. This is why we conclude that wisdom too is a divine base of our religious judgments.
The Holy Qur’an is full of verses showing the importance of the wisdom as a base or reference for the judgments in religious research:
"In the creation of the heavens, and the earth, and the alternation of day and night, there are indeed signs for men of wisdom and understanding." (Holy Qur’an, 3:190)
Some reveal the aim of sending the scriptures to improve the power of wisdom and understanding of man:
"See how have we explained our signs variously so that they may understand." (Holy Qur’an, 6:65)
"We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran, in order that you may use your wisdom." (Holy Qur’an, 12:2)
Some of the verses urge people to use their minds so as to distinguish good from bad:
"Say can a blind be held equal to one who can see? Why don't you then think?" (Holy Qur’an, 6:50)
And the worst of the moving creatures in the sight of God are those who do not use their common sense so as to understand:
"For the worst of beasts in the sight of God, are those who are deaf and dumb, not using their wisdom to understand!" (Holy Qur’an, 8:22)
So how can we ignore the importance of the wisdom, understanding and thinking in Islam?
As we have already mentioned we believe that God is just and He never oppresses; because cruel acts are indecent and unbecoming to Him:
"And thy Lord will treat no one with injustice." (Holy Qur’an, 18:49)
If some people are punished in this world or in the hereafter, it is due to their own deeds:
"It is not God who oppresses them, but they wrong their own soul." (Holy Qur’an, 9:70)
Not only man, but rather no creature in the world is ever oppressed by God:
"Allah wants no injustice to any of His creatures." (Holy Qur’an, 3:108)
All these verses are somehow a guidance towards making use of our wisdom.
We believe that God will never oblige a duty to anyone who cannot do it:
"Allah will not charge a soul with a duty that cannot be fulfilled by him." (Holy Qur’an, 2:286)
We believe that the painful accidents that sometimes occur, such as the earthquakes, calamities and misfortunes, might be that of God's punishment, as it was with the case of the people of Lot:
"When our decree was issued, we turned (their cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones, hard as baked clay, spread layer on layer." (Holy Qur’an, 11:82)
And about the ungrateful and rebellious people of Saba, God says:
"But they turned away (from their Lord) and we sent against them the flood from the Dams." (Holy Qur’an, 34:16)
Some other painful incidents are to admonish people and to teach them lessons:
"Mischief has appeared on land and sea by what the hands of man have earned, that Allah may give them a taste of some of their deeds, in order that they may return back from evil.” (Holy Qur’an, 30:41)
Other pains are what our hands make it and are due to our ignorance and carelessness:
"Whatever good happens to you (o man!) is from Allah: but whatever evil happens to you; is from yourself." (Holy Qur’an, 4:79)
The Existence i Ruled By The Best of Orders
We believe that the created world, or the world of creation is the scenery on which the bests of orders act. In other word, the existing order that controls the world is the best one that can possibly exist. Here, everything has an account of its own. There is nothing in contrast to justice and goodness; and if bad is seen, it belongs to people or the creatures.
We repeat again that God's justice is one of the most important bases of Islamic insight, without which the tenets such as the monotheism, prophethood and doomsday will be endangered and misunderstood. We have a tradition that Imam Sadiq(a.s) has emphasized on monotheism and God's justice as the main principles of the religion and then he adds: "Whatever is becoming and fit for you, is not allowable to God. Justice is that you do not relate something to God, which doing it puts a blame upon you."
We believe that pilgrimages for visiting the tombs of the Messengers and Imams, as well as the scholars and the martyrs, is a definite religious precept which has to be observed, although not a must.
In many books of the Ahlul Sunnah scholars, just as those written by Shi’as, many traditions are narrated from the prophet that he has recommended the precept or pilgrimage. To collect all such traditions will make a voluminous book.
Throughout the history of Islam, our great scholars, and all groups of Muslims have done that with much care, and books are written about the adventures of their pilgrimages. It is evident that nobody takes his visit to a tomb for worship; as such worship only belongs to God. The purpose of visiting the tomb of a great man is to respect him and to pay regards, meanwhile seeking their intercession. It is also narrated that even the prophet himself often went to visit the Cemetery of Baqi’ and saluted the dead in their graves. Therefore no one should doubt the lawfulness of such pilgrimages in Islam.
We believe that the mourning ceremonies, for the martyrs, especially the matyrs of Karbala will serve to maintain the monument of such dear ones, and keep us aware of their self-sacrifices for the sake of God and Islam in some occasions, particularly the first ten days of Muharram, the period in which Imam Hussain(a.s) and his faithful companions were cruelly martyred, we perform the mourning ceremonies. We explain their aims, and express our deep regards for them and by that infuse new blood in our veins.
In the year 61 Hijri, Yazid a sinful man and a stranger with Islam, succeeded the throne of Islamic caliphate. When he asked Imam Hussain (a.s) to take the oath of allegiance, Imam refused to swear fealty. Yazid insisted and Imam rejected and left Mecca for Iraq. In Karbala, Imam and his seventy two companions and household were surrounded by a great many troops of Yazid. Imam and his companions defended their attacks and fought their enemies boldly to their last breath. All the men, (Imam Hussain (a.s) and his companions) were martyred, and their women and children were taken captives.
Soon after that the blood of Imam boiled and stirred strange excitements among his contemporary Muslims. Groups revolted in turn, aiming at vengeance for the bloodshed. These frequent revolutions gave an end to the nasty life of the Omayid dynasty. All the revolting groups had but one slogan "Vengeance for Imam's Bloodshed." Today the rise and martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s) is a pattern and a program in our daily life to make us stand firmly against any oppression and cruelty.
Some of our slogans that were taken from Imam Hussain's bloody history like: "far be abjections from us" or "life is faith and endeavor" have been of immense use in our past and present, urging us not to undergo any unjustified demand or oppressions.
To brief our word here, paying regards to the reminiscence of the great martyrs of Karbala, and else, will infuse new blood of valiance, bravery and self-sacrifice into our veins and will teach us how to live an honorable and proud life, and this is why we try to revive the reminiscence of our martyrs by renewing the mourning ceremonies every year better than the last. Strangers may not know what we do and what we are aiming at or achieving by doing so. They think of it as a mere historical incident that must have been forgotten and covered with the dust of age, but we do know its importance and effect in our past and present history.
It is written in all the famous Islamic histories that "after the battle of Uhad the prophet passed near a house from which the sounds of mourning and wailing for the martyrs were heard the prophet said: "But no one mourns for Hamzih (The Master of Martyrs).”
Saad Ibn Maaz who was a near companion of the prophet from the group of Helpers, heard that and ordered their women to go and mourn and lament for Hamzih, the faithful uncle of the prophet who was mutilated in the battle field of Uhad. Evidently this lamentation was not something specialized to Hazarat Hamzih. It rather is a means of infusing new blood into the veins of Muslims.
Now it is Ashura, the 10th of Muharram 1417 Hijri (1976). A great emotion and enthusiasm is seen throughout the Shi’a world. Children, teenagers, young people, adults, man and woman have all dressed in black and attended the mourning ceremonies of the Martyrs of Karbala. They are so strangely excited and have changed minds that if they be invited to fight the enemies of Islam, they all will take arm and rush to the battlefield and do not avoid any sort of self-sacrifices.
It is just as if the blood of those martyrs flow in their veins, and that Imam and his companions have been slain just now. They sing epic songs and poems full of slogans against colonization, and oppression and in favor of proud and exalted death over an abject life. We hold this incident as a great moral capital that we have to observe it and keep it safe.
We believe that the temporary marriage is lawful and in our religious jurisprudence, it is termed "mut’ah". From this motive, marriage is of two kinds: the permanent one which is not limited to a time frame and the temporary marriage which is for a limited period, which the couple will agree on. In many respects both of the wedlock are the same.
As for the dower, the freedom of the female spouse from any impediments and rules, and regulations for the children are similar for both these types of marriages.
There are also some differences between the two wedlock such that the male spouse does not need to pay the alimony, or that the couple do not inherit each other (of course their children do inherit their parents). However we have taken this order out of the Holy Qur’an:
"All women other than those mentioned here are lawful for you provided you seek them in marriage with your wealth in a modest conduct (chastity), and not by fornication give them their dower for the enjoyment you have had with them, as your duty, but it shall be of no blame on you to make any agreement among yourselves; and Allah is All Knowing All Wise" (Holy Qur’an, 4:24)
Many of the great commentators have explained that the above verse aims at the temporary marriage.
In Tabary's commentary book it is written that this verse indicates the temporary marriage and that many of the prophet's companions have testified to it. In many famous tradition books such as Sahih Bokhari, Sahih Muslim and Musnad Ahmad, there are traditions about the temporary marriage declaring it a lawful religious act which used to be done in the life time of the prophet. There are also some narrations in these books that deny and reject it.
Some scholars believe that during the life time of the prophet it was done, but after the prophet it was forbidden by Omar the second Khalif. In the famous book Sunan of Beihaghi (v7, p206) it is written that Omar said: "Two Mut’ahs were decreed by the prophet of God: temporary marriage and Hajj (special rites in pilgrimage) which I declare them both as unlawful!" So the Ahlul Sunnah scholars have different ideas about that; some admit and some reject, but the Shi’a scholars take it to be lawful with unanimous approval.
We believe that if temporary marriage be not misused, it will give an adequate answer to many questions of the young generation of our time, who cannot afford a permanent wedlock, or those in long journeys either for economical or educational purposes. Those who work against the temporary marriage are cleaning the road to fornication and obscene acts particularly in our time in which the age of marriage is delayed and lustful means are abundant. Closing the door of lawful marriages results in to opening the doors of fornication and evil sexual acts.
Let me repeat once again that we reject all sorts of misuse in this respect such a making a play toy out of it or turning a woman into a means for lusts and passions instead of a real wife. On the other hand, none should leave a good and useful law unattended, because some may use it in a bad way.
We believe that the Shi’a sect was founded in the lifetime of our prophet, and its name was taken out of his words and we have many clear reasons to prove that many commentators of the Qur’an believe the following verse refers to Imam ‘Ali(a.s) and his sectarians (Shi’a):
"Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, are the best of creatures." (Holy Qur’an, 98:7)
Soyuti, the famous commentator has narrated in his Durul Mansur that Jabir said: "We were in presence of the prophet, when Imam ‘Ali(a.s) arrived there. As soon as the prophet saw him he said:
‘Upon him, to whose hands lays my life, ‘Ali and his Shi’a (sectarians) will have salvation on doomsday'. Then the prophet recited the above-mentioned verse. After that, whenever Imam ‘Ali(a.s) came to a gathering of the prophet, we used to say: `the best of god's creatures has come’." This tradition with a little difference is also narrated by Ibn Abbas, Abu Barza, Ibn Marduya, and Atiya Ofi.
Therefore the name ‘Shi’a’ was given to the lovers and followers of Imam ‘Ali(a.s) by the prophet himself and not by the Safavies dynasty as some with very low knowledge have said. We respect and esteem all the other Islamic sects, and stand in one line of prayer with them, and perform the rites of pilgrimage as they do, and cooperate with them in all common Islamic goals and fields. Yet as a Shi’a we do have some particularities which were noted by our prophet, and this is why we have chosen this school.
The followers of this school (Shi’a) have so many traditions from the prophet which are conveyed through Imam ‘Ali (a.s) or other Imams. These have all been collected and classified, and form the main source of Shi’a’s religious jurisprudence. The most important books among the collections are four, and are known as Kutub al-Arba’a (Four Books). These are firstly, Kafi, secondly, Man la Yazaraul Faki, thirdly, Tazeeb and fourth of all, Estibsar. Not that, all the traditions found in these four books, or elsewhere are indisputably correct or acceptable.
Each tradition as we said, has a series of documents and narrators that are to be analyzed and confirmed. If all the documents and narrators prove to be right and trustworthy, then the tradition may be considered true and accepted. Such investigations about the traditions are the task of religious experts and scholars. Therefore the Shi’a's collected works in the field of tradition differs with that of the Ahlul Sunnah. The way Bokhari and other Sunni scholars such as Muslim approached such matters in their collected works differ from that of our authors.
Their criterion of right and wrong is only the author's distinction. So to understand the belief of a Sunni, it is enough to get access to their important tradition books, called ‘Sahih’. Contrary to that, Shi’a have collected all the traditions that they could; narrated by the Imams just to be investigated, judged, approved, and then be accepted for action. This is only to be undertaken by learned and trusted authorities and religious specialists.
Among the important sources of Shi’a, there are two very important books. The first one is known as Nahjul Balagha, a work collected by Sharif Razi a thousand years ago, consisting of the speeches, letters, and some quotations of Imam ‘Ali (a.s). The eloquence in the verses is so great and the meanings so deep, that it makes the work so strangely attractive to all sorts of minds! We wish not only the Muslims, but the non-Muslims too could be acquainted with this amazing book, in order to know what is to be known in the fields of monotheism, resurrection, ethics, social and political affairs.
The second important book is called Shahifa Sajadiya, a collection of the best and the most beautiful verses on prayers having the deepest meaning. It may teach us how to pray to the Lord and to purify our soul by that prayer. The whole book is the collection of many fervent prayers in the form of hymns, and narrated by our fourth Imam, ‘Ali Ibn Hussain (a.s), who is titled ‘Sajad’ (One who Often Bows to God).
Whatever we wrote in this collection is a summary of the opinion and belief of the followers of our prophet's household; i.e. the Shi’a sect of Islam. This is without any change or deviation, confirmed by Holy Qur’an and to a less extent by traditions. We aimed to write the subjects in brief and this, we did. It may be concluded here that this work:
1. Is a trustworthy reference that clearly presents the Shi’a belief and ideas. Here by all the other Muslims and non-Muslims many have access to firsthand information about the Shi’a.
2. This work can be reasoning for God, to those who judge us with inadequate information, or take their information about us, from doubtful persons or our enemies; or from books of no importance.
3. To study this work will show the reader that the difference between Shi’a and other Islamic sects is not that much to prevent us from peacefully living together, and cooperating in important fields and affairs. Common aspects of our belief are many, our enemies are also common too.
4. We believe that some mysterious hands are working hard to separate us, and to create disputes and hatred among Muslims, to kindle the fire of enmities! These mysterious hands do not want, Islam to play its vital role after the smash of communism, and to fill the vacancies of materialism. Muslims should not leave their enemies unattended so that they may succeed their impure goals. There now exists a good opportunity for us to present Islam to the world, as it really is.
5. We believe that if all the scholars and the leading men of all sects sit at a round table to discuss the problems sincerely, with pure hearts and far from fanaticism and obstinacy; they will surely solve all the problems they have, and the differences would be reduced if not entirely erased.
Such a meeting was recently held in Zahidan. Shi’a and Sunnis sat at a round table. They had several sincere meetings and as a result came to an end to most of their differences. To end, I pray to our Lord and say:
"Our lord! Forgive us and our brothers who embraced the faith before us, and leave not in our hearts any malice (hatred) towards the faithful. You are compassionate and merciful." (Holy Qur’an, 59:10)