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Story 95: “Tawhid” Monotheism Of Mufadhdhal

After having performed his "Asr" afternoon prayer in the Prophet's Mosque, Mufadhdhal Ibn 'Umar Ja'fi went and sat in between the Holy Prophet's (S) "Minbar" pulpit and his holiness' shrine; a series of thoughts submerged him gradually; his thoughts revolved round the greatness and the magnificent, celestial personality of the Messenger of Allah.

His admiration increased more and more when he meditated about his holiness. He said to himself: "Despite the homage and glorification shown towards the high position of this unexampled personality, yet his esteem status is further lofty; what the people perceived of his dignity, greatness, and virtues is very little when compared to what they failed to perceive."

Mufadhdhal was lost in these thoughts when Ibn Abi al-Awja, the famous materialistic, arrived and sat in a corner. It did not last long that one of Ibn Abi al-'Awja's friends, a co-thinker, arrived, sat beside him, and began to discuss with him.

It was the beginning of the Abbasside dynasty, in those days, which corresponded to a period of Islamic cultural transformations. The Muslims had founded certain General Knowledge Centers and had translated or were translating books in philosophical and scientific fields from Greek, Persian and Indian language. The schools of thought, philosophy and theologian branches had come into existence; the era was of confrontation with opinions and convictions.

The Abbassides respected the freedom of thoughts to such an extent that it did not run into collusion with politics. The non-Muslim scholars and even the atheists and materialists known as "zandiqah" dualism, freely expressed their opinions, used to get together at times near the Ka'bah, "Al-Masjidul-Haram", in Makkah or in the Holy Prophet's Mosque beside the Prophet's Shrine, "Masjidun-Nabi", in Madinah and kept on exchanging their views. Ibn Abi al-'Awja was in one of this group.

That day, Ibn Abi al-'Awja and his comrade entered the Holy Prophet's Mosque at an interval of a short period and began to converse with each other, but they were not so far from Mufadhdhal that he could not hear them. The first words, incidentally, reached Mufadhdhal's ears concerned the question upon which he meditated was regarding the Holy Prophet (S).

He said to his comrade: "It is to the surprise that this man's (the Holy Prophet's [s]) success reached its zenith. He (S) reached such a high rank that nobody could attain higher than this!"

His comrade replied: "A genius, he (S) pretended to be in touch with the source of universal cause, manifesting the strange and extraordinary things which confounded the spirits. Sages, men of letters, orators, and eloquents, found themselves incompetent before him (S) and embraced his call. Later on, the strata of society, group by group, came to him and believed in him (S). His (S) position reached such an extent that his name associated with the name of Moses ('a) who was said to be missioned by Him.

Henceforth, his name is mentioned in the daily five times prayer call "Adhan" in all cities and villages even beyond the seas, deserts and mountains. One can hear everywhere the call of "Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah," i.e. "I testify that Muhammad is the apostle of Allah." The name of this man is mentioned both in the "Adhan" and "Iqamah" "before commencing of the prayers". Thus he (S) will never be forgotten.”

Ibn Abi al-'Awja said: "Let us not discuss about Muhammad, I have not yet succeeded in resolving the enigma of this man's personality. However, it is better to follow the discussion around the first cause and the origin of existence of being, on which Muhammad had founded the basis of his religion."

Then Ibn Abi al-'Awja began to discuss around his materialistic conviction based upon the non-existence of any Divine measure and decree, the self-subsistence of nature and its pre-eternity and post-eternity which existed and will come to exist.

When his speech reached this point. Mufadhdhal could not stop bursting out of anger and shouted with great indignation: "O enemy of Allah! Do you deny your Creator and Guardian, Who has created you in the best figure!? It is useless to go far! Meditate on yourself, life, existence, intellectual faculties, and on your aspect so that you can perceive the signs and the manifestations of the state of creatures..."

Ibn Abi al-'Awja who was not acquainted with Mufadhdhal asked: "Who are you? And to which school of thought do you belong? If you are of those "Mutakallimun" dialecticians, let's discuss about the theological principles; if you have really the reasonable arguments to present, we will follow you, and if you are not of the people of scholastic theology, I have nothing to tell you. But if you are of Ja'far Ibn Muhammad's ('a) Companions, he ('a) never speaks to us in such a manner. Although he ('a) hears us saying things deeper than the one you have heard; he ('a) was never seen to lose his temper or ill-treat us. He ('a) never becomes angry nor abuses us. He ('a) listens to us most patiently and with utmost dignity, waiting till we express whatever we have in our heart until our last word. While we are stating our problems and arguments, he ('a) is so quiet and calm, listening to us with utmost attention, that we imagine he ('a) has submitted to our thought. When he ('a) begins to answer us, he ('a) does it kindly and puts us in such a difficult dilemma, with his short and full-reasoning words, that we cannot find any way of escape. If you are one of his Companions, speak as he ('a) does!"

Hot-headed and very annoyed, Mufadhdhal left the Mosque. He thought: "What an affliction the world of Islam is involved in! The situation has reached such an extent that materialistic and atheists sit in the Prophet's Mosque and deny heedlessly everything! He went directly to Imam al-Sadiq's ('a) house.

The Imam ('a) asked: "Mufadhdhal! “Why are you so angry? What has happened?”

Mufadhdhal said: "O descendant of the Messenger of Allah! At the moment I was in the Prophet's Mosque when two atheists came and sat near me; I overheard their discussion regarding the denial of Allah and the Holy Prophet (S) which made me inflamed. They said such and such words, to which I answered them in this manner."

The Imam ('a) said: "Don't worry. From tomorrow come and see me. I will give you a series of course on 'Tawhid' monotheism. I will converse with you so much about the Divine Wisdom relative to creation and existence in different domains, regarding the living creatures and inert beings, the birds and herbivores, edibles and non-edibles, vegetables and so on that it suffices you and all the students who are after the realities and make the materialists and atheists immersed in amazement. So I will be waiting for you tomorrow."

Mufadhdhal became very happy and joyful and took leave from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq ('a).

He said to himself: "That is strange! My annoyance of today led to a blessful consequence."

That night, he could not sleep. He was expecting every moment to see the sun rise so that he can rush up to Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq ('a). It seemed that, that night was longer than any of the other nights.

Early morning, he went to Imam's ('a) house. After taking the permission, he entered the house. He sat down by the Imam's ('a) permission. Then the Imam ('a) moved towards a room where he ('a) received the private persons.

Being familiar with the character of Mufadhdhal, the Imam ('a) said: "I suppose you did not sleep last night, and you were impatient to see the dawn and to come here!"

Mufaz.al: "Yes! It is so as you say."

The Imam ('a) said: "O Mufadhdhal! Allah has priority over all the beings. He is the First and the Last of the creatures..."

Mufadhdhal said: "O descendant of the Messenger of Allah! Do you allow me to write down whatever you say, pen and paper is ready."

The Imam ('a) said: "There is no objection, do write!"

For four days in succession and in four long sessions, which lasted at least from early morning to noon, the Imam ('a) inculcated the Monotheism lessons, while Mufadhdhal was writing down all of them.

These hand writings became a complete and extensive treatise. The book is given the title of "Tawhid of Mufadhdhal", which we have at our disposal and is counted among the most complete text relative to the Wisdom of the Creation, which is the product of this incident and these four long sessions.1

  • 1. Bihar ul-Anwar, v. 3, p. 57-151.