Chapter 2: Identity And Its Aspects

1. Identity and Its Role

2. Aspects of Identity

3. Specifications of Identity

Identity and Its Role

The identity of the virtuous community comprises the characteristics and features that distinguish the virtuous community from others, including title, origin, personal qualities, category, and rank.

The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) took tremendous interest in the matter of identifying the character of the virtuous community and delineating its features because such identification brings about momentous consequences and results that reflect on the common behavior of the individuals of the virtuous community, contribute to shedding light on their goals and progression, and coordinate and organize the contents and purport of their rituals.

Firstly, we can clearly conclude that distinguishing the identity and character of the virtuous community contributes greatly towards building the personality of the individuals of the virtuous community on the basis of each individual’s identifying strengths because it is natural for man to express his identity and endeavor to highlight it.

Secondly, recognition of identity reveals the nature of one’s affiliations, intellectual, social and political.

Thirdly, distinguishing identity establishes the foundations of the virtuous community and stresses close connections, mutual understanding and cooperation between the members of this community.

Fourthly, when the essence and constituents of identity are superlative and powerful, it generates power and attracts and influences others. Hence, identity acts as the title and brilliant countenance of the virtuous community which encourages others to join it.

a) Aspects of Identity

The Holy Imams (‘a) outlined the identity of the virtuous community with a number of major aspects representing the message of Islam. Such aspects can be understood from the traditions in which the Imams talk to their followers about their own identities and the features of these demonstrated in the personalities of their followers. The Holy Imams (‘a) drew the attention of their followers to the following aspects:

(1) Islam, the substance and goals of its message

The essential feature identifying the virtuous community was propagating the concepts and terms of the Holy Qur'an and presenting its spiritual and moral content together with the goals of its message. This stems from the fact that the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) wanted the virtuous community to live within the Muslim community as part of it, undertaking responsibility, having an effect on it, and leaving no stone unturned to achieve the objectives of the system of the virtuous community. Moreover, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) wanted the individuals of the virtuous community to act as good and righteous examples for the Muslim nation.

(2) Historical Roots and Past Divine Messages

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) confirmed the fact that the existence of the virtuous community was not accidental in the history of Islam being created by exceptional political circumstances which led to depriving the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) of the leadership of the Islamic government; rather, the virtuous community is a group that from its roots is an extension and goal of past divine messages, exactly like Islam which, as a religion, aspired to confirm its historical roots by verifying all past divine messages and connecting with the call of Prophet Abraham (‘a).

(3) Loyalty to the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) built up in their followers profound loyalty, which included love, support, commitment, covenant, and affiliation to them politically, intellectually and in conduct, which was a distinctive feature differentiating them from other sects and groups.

They also instructed their followers to undertake the responsibilities of this affiliation and to patiently bear difficulties. Such superlative loyalty is necessary because the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) represent the natural extension of the sealing of prophethood (through the Prophet Muhammad (S)), the survival of the divinely commissioned leadership (of the Holy Imams (‘a)), and the vicegerency of Almighty Allah on earth. They also represent the original line of Islam, which corresponds with the actual understanding of Islam and its sciences, as well as the actual revelation and interpretation of the Holy Qur'an.

(4) Human Nature, Social Dignity, Respect and Honor

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) taught their followers that harmony with human nature, nobility in conduct and fear of God are the criterion of dignity, success and superiority in worldly life and in the sight of Almighty Allah, Who grants elevated ranks to whom He wishes. This aspect of identity is of prime importance because it imbues the personality with the capability of adjusting and coexisting with all humans in order to resist sieges and isolation imposed by political, social, economic and mentally demanding circumstances.

b) Specifications of Identity

The previously mentioned aspects are obvious from a review of the specifications of identity as presented by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) to their followers:

1. Name

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) gave the name Shi`ah (partisans), mu'min (faithful believer), and muwali (loyalist) to the individuals of the virtuous community. The following traditions bespeak these names and titles:

Abu-Basir has reported that Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said to those accompanying him:

لِيُهْنِئْكُمُ الإسْمُ.

Fitting for you is the name!

“Which name is that? May Allah accept me as ransom for you!” Abu-Basir asked. The Imam (‘a) answered:



“The people are using this name to dishonor us,” one of the companions complained.

The Imam (‘a) replied:

"وَإِنَّ مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ لَإِبْرَاهِيمَ" "فَاسْتَغَاثَهُ الَّذِي مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ عَلَى الَّذِي مِنْ عَدُوِّه"ِ فَلْيُهْنِئْكُمُ الإسْمُ.

(Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur'an,) “Most surely, Abraham was one of his (Noah’s) followers (Shi`ah).” (37:83) “He who was of his party (Shi`ah) cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies.” (28:15) So, fitting for you is the name.1

In this tradition, the Imam (‘a) connects the name of Shi`ah with its historical root, that is Prophet Abraham (‘a) who was one of the Shi`ah of Prophet Noah (‘a). He also infers the name from the Holy Qur'an.

Confirming this fact, Abu-Basir reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying:

نَحْنُ أَهْلُ بَيْتِ الرَّحْمَةِ، وَبَيْتِ النِّعْمَةِ، وَبَيْتِ الْبَرَكَةِ. وَنَحْنُ فِي الأَرْضِ بُنْيَانٌ. وَشِيعَتُنَا عُرَى الإسْلاَمِ، وَمَا كَانَتْ دَعْوَةُ إبْرَاهِيمَ إلاَّ لَنَا وَشِيعَتِنَا. وَلَقَدِ إسْتَثْنَى اللهُ إلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ إلَى إبْلِيسَ فَقَالَ: "إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ

We are the Household of mercy, the House of grace, and the House of blessing. In the earth, we are the structure and our Shi`ah are the handles of Islam. The prayer of (Prophet) Abraham (‘a) was for none save us and our Shi`ah. Up to the Day of Resurrection, Almighty Allah has excluded us from the sway of Iblis, saying, “Surely, as regards My servants, you have no authority over them. (15:42)”2

In a previous chapter, we have cited how the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) treated the name, rafidhi, which their enemies used for their followers. They (‘a) showed the historical root of this name, which was the protestation of righteous followers of Prophet Moses (‘a) against the children of Israel when they worshiped the calf and deserted Prophet Aaron (‘a).

2. Origin

As far as origin and “soil of creation” are concerned, the Shi`ah belong to select lines of descent, the most honorable lineages and the purest essences because they belong to the same “soil of creation” to which the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) belong.

Abu-Dharr al-Ghifari is reported as saying: I saw the Holy Prophet (S) striking the shoulder of `Ali ibn Abi-Talib with his hand and saying:

يَا عَلِيُّ؛ مَنْ أَحَبَّنَا فَهُوَ الْعَرَبِيُّ، وَمَنْ أَبْغَضَنَا فَهُوَ الْعِلْجُ. شِيعَتُنَا أَهْلُ الْبُيُوتَاتِ وَالْمَعَادِنِ وَالشَّرَفِ وَمَنْ كَانَ مَوْلِدُهُ صَحِيحاً. وَمَا عَلَى مِلَّةِ إبْرَاهِيمَ إلاَّ نَحْنُ وَشِيعَتُنَا. وَسَائِرُ النَّاسِ مِنْهَا بَرَاءٌ. وَإنَّ اللهَ وَمَلاَئِكَتَهُ يَهْدِمُونَ سَيِّئَاتِ شِيعَتِنَا كَمَا يَهْدِمُ الْقَوْمُ الْبُنْيَانَ.

O `Ali, whoever loves us is a true Arab, and whoever hates us is an unbeliever. Our partisans (Shi`ah) are the people of honorable, unique, and highbred households. They are also those who are legitimately born. None is following the faith of (Prophet) Abraham (‘a) except us and our Shi`ah, while all the others are outside that faith. Verily, Almighty Allah and His angels are demolishing the sins of our Shi`ah in the same way that people demolish a building.3

On the authority of Imam `Ali (‘a), Al-Harith has reported the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:

مَثَلِي مَثَلُ شَجَرَةٍ؛ أَنَا أَصْلُهَا، وَعَلِيٌّ فَرْعُهَا، وَالْحَسَنُ وَالْحُسَيْنُ ثَمَرَتُهَا، وَالشِّيعَةُ أَوْرَاقُهَا. فَأَبَى أَنْ يَخْرُجَ مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ إلاَّ الطَّيِّبُ.

The like of me is a tree; I am its origin, `Ali its branch, Hasan and Husayn its fruit, and the Shi`ah its leaves. So, nothing comes out of the good except the good.4

Ibn `Abbas has reported that the Holy Prophet (S) said:

يَا عَلِيُّ؛ شِيعَتُكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ. فَمَنْ أَهَانَ وَاحِداً مِنْهُمْ فَقَدْ أَهَانَكَ، وَمَنْ أَهَانَكَ فَقَدْ أَهَانَنِي، وَمَنْ أَهَانَنِي أَدْخَلَهُ اللهُ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِداً فِيهَا، وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ. يَا عَلِيُّ؛ أَنْتَ مِنِّي وَأَنَا مِنْكَ؛ رُوحُكَ مِنْ رُوحِي؛ وَطِينَتُكَ مِنْ طِينَتِي؛ وَشِيعَتُكَ خُلِقُوا مِنْ فَضْلِ طِينَتِنَا. فَمَنْ أَحَبَّهُمْ فَقَدْ أَحَبَّنَا، وَمَنْ أَبْغَضَهُمْ فَقَدْ أَبْغَضَنَا، وَمَنْ عَادَاهُمْ فَقَدْ عَادَانَا، وَمَنْ وَدَّهُمْ فَقَدْ وَدَّنَا.

O `Ali, your Shi`ah are the winners indeed on the Day of Resurrection. So, whoever insults any one of them has in fact insulted you, and whoever insults you has in fact insulted me, and whoever insults me will be sent by Allah to Hellfire to dwell there forever and miserable shall be that fate. O `Ali, you are part of me and I am part of you. Your soul is part of my soul and your clay (of creation) is part of my clay. Your Shi`ah were created from the remainder of our clay. So, whoever loves them has in fact loved us, whoever hates them has in fact hated us, whoever antagonizes them has in fact antagonized us, and whoever is devoted to them has in fact been devoted to us…5

At the same time, these origins carry human, social, and Islamic aspects, because the most important point in the supremacy and purity of lineage is legitimacy of birth, purity of faith and excellence of result.

3. Qualities

As far as qualities of the individuals of the virtuous community are concerned, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) described their followers with descriptions derived from the Holy Qur'an, such as salihun (righteous people), ulu’l-albab (men of excellent reason), awilya' allah (friends of Allah), musallun (performers of prayers), ashab al-yamin (companions of the right hand), khayr al-bariyyah (the best of creatures), and others.

Abu-Basir is reported to have quoted Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying:

وَقَدْ ذَكَرَكُمُ اللهُ تَعَالَى بِقَوْلِهِ: "وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ ۚ وَحَسُنَ أُولَٰئِكَ رَفِيقًا"  فَرَسُــولُ اللهِ فِـي هَــذَا الْمَوْضِـعِ «النَّبِيُّـونَ.» وَنَحْـــنُ «الصِّـدِّيقُونَ وَالشُّـهَدَاءُ.» وَأَنْتُـمُ «الصَّـالِحُونَ.» وَأَنْتُمْ وَاللهِ شِيعَتُنَا.

Almighty Allah has mentioned you, saying, “Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the good. And goodly company they are! (4:69)” In this case, Allah’s Messenger represents ‘the prophets’, and we represent ‘the truthful and the martyrs’ and you represent ‘the good’. You are, by Allah, our Shi`ah.

The Imam ('a) has also said:

لَقَدْ ذَكَرَكُمُ اللهُ فِي كِتَابِهِ حَيْثُ قَالَ: "هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ۗ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ" فَنَحْنُ الَّذِينَ نَعْلَمُ، وَأَعْدَاؤُنَا الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ. وَشِيعَتُنَا أُولُو الأَلْبَابِ.

Almighty Allah has also mentioned you in His Book, saying, “Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful. (39:9)” We represent ‘those who know’ and our enemies represent ‘those who do not know’ and our Shi`ah represent ‘the men of understanding.’6

Some jurisprudents have reported the following from Imam `Ali Amir al-Mu'minin (‘a):

"أَلَا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ" أَتَدْرُونَ مَنْ أَوْلِيَاءُ اللهِ؟ هُمْ نَحْنُ وَأَتْبَاعُنَا فَمَنْ تَبِعَنَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ. طُوبَى لَنَا وَطُوبَى لَهُمْ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ طُوبَى لَنَا.

(Almighty Allah says,) “Now surely, the friends of Allah-- they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. (10:62)” Do you know who the friends of Allah are? They are we, our followers, and those who shall follow us afterwards. A good final state will be ours and a better final state will be theirs.

He was asked, “O Amir al-Mu'minin, what is the meaning of ‘a better final state will be theirs’. We and they are of the same state, are we not?”

The Imam (‘a) answered:

لاَ، لأَنَّهُمْ حُمِّلُوا مَا لَمْ تُحْمَلُوا عَلَيْهِ، وَأَطَاقُوا مَا لَمْ تُطِيقُوا.

No, you are not, because they shall stand what you have not stood and they shall endure what you have not endured.7

Muhammad ibn al-Fudhayl has reported Imam al-Ridha (‘a) commenting on the following holy verse:

"إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ {22}الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ"

…Except those who pray--those who are constant at their prayer. (70:22-23)

The Imam (‘a) said:

أُولَئِـكَ وَاللهِ أَصْحَـابُ الْخَمْسِينَ مِنْ شِيعَتِنَــا. "إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ"أُولَئِـكَ أَصْحَابُ الْخَمْسِ صَـلَوَاتٍ مِنْ شِيعَتِنَـا. "الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ"هُمْ وَاللهِ مِنْ شِيعَتِنَا.

‘Those who pray’ stands for some of our Shi`ah who offer fifty prayers (a day), and ‘those who are constant at their prayer’ stands for some of our Shi`ah who perform the five prayers (a day). ‘The companions of the right hand’ are, by Allah, some of our Shi`ah.8

`Anbasah al-`Abid has reported the following:

Commenting on the following holy verse,

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ {38}إِلَّا أَصْحَابَ الْيَمِينِ

Every soul is held in pledge for what it earns except the people of the right hand. (74:38-39),

Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said:

هُمْ شِيعَتُنَا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.

These are the Shi`ah of the Ahl al-Bayt.9

Ya`qub ibn Maytham has reported that he found the following tradition in the book of his father. Imam `Ali (‘a) is reported to have said that he heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying:

Almighty Allah has said:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ

“As for those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures. (98:7)”

The Holy Prophet (S) then turned his face towards (Imam) `Ali (‘a) and said:

نَعَمْ. أَنْتَ يَا عَلِيُّ وَشِيعَتُكَ. وَمِيعَادُكَ وَمِيعَادُهُمُ الْحَوْضُ غُرّاً مُحَجَّلِينَ مُكَحَّلِينَ مُتَوَّجِينَ.

Yes, it is. O `Ali, it is you and your Shi`ah (who are the best of creatures). Our promised meeting place with them shall be at the Divine Pond. They shall be bright brow marked, dark-eyed with kohl, and crowned.10

Jabir has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as follows:

Commenting on this holy verse,

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ 

“As for those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures. (98:7)”

The Imam said:

هُمْ شِيعَتُنَا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.

These are the Shi`ah of the Ahl al-Bayt.11

Undoubtedly, such descriptions apply to individuals of the virtuous community granting an identity when they construct inside themselves the supreme significance that is inspired by these descriptions.

Numerous are the traditions that prescribe the behavior of the Shi`ah and their commitment to their beliefs. Some of these traditions have also been previously cited in the discussion of “Goals and Particularities”. One of the comprehensive traditions in this respect is the following, reported by Abu-Basir from Imam al-Sadiq (‘a):

شِيعَتُنَا أَهْلُ الْوَرَعِ وَأَهْلُ الْوَفَاءِ وَالأَمَانَةِ وَأَهْلُ الزُّهْدِ وَالْعِبَادَةِ، أَصْحَابُ إحْدَى وَخَمْسِينَ رَكْعَةً فِي الْيَوْمِ وَاللَّيْلَةِ، الْقَائِمُونَ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالصَّائِمُونَ بِالنَّهَارِ، يُزَكُّونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ، وَيَحِجُّونَ الْبَيْتَ وَيَجْتَنِبُونَ كُلَّ مُحَرَّمٍ.

Our Shi`ah are the people of piety, faithfulness, and honesty. They are the people of asceticism and worship. They perform fifty-one units of prayer in a single day and night. They pass their nights with devotional acts and their days with fasting. They purify their wealth, go on pilgrimage to the House of God, and refrain from committing any forbidden act.12

4. Affiliation

As far as the affiliation of the individuals of the virtuous community is concerned, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) emphasize that these individuals are devoted to Almighty Allah, Islam, the Holy Prophet (S), and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), because they are actually part of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) in affiliation and heredity, and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are the nearest to Almighty Allah, the Holy Prophet (S), and Islam on the basis of the following rule that is stated by the Holy Qur'an:

إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ لَلَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ وَهَٰذَا النَّبِيُّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا

Most surely, the nearest of people to Abraham are those who followed him and this Prophet and those who believe. (3:68)

In addition, it has been uninterruptedly reported that the Holy Prophet (S) said about Salman of Persia:

سَلْمَانُ مِنَّا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.

Salman belongs to us—the Ahl al-Bayt.

That the followers and the Shi`ah are adjuncts of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) has also been borne out in numerous traditions that are reported from them, such as the following:

`Umar ibn Yazid has been reported as saying that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to him:

يَا بْنَ يَزِيدَ! أَنْتَ، وِاللهِ، مِنَّا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.

O Son of Yazid; by Allah I swear it; you are verily part of us—the Ahl al-Bayt.

I (the reporter) asked, “May Allah accept me as ransom for you! Do you mean that I am part of Muhammad’s family?”

The Imam answered:

إي، وَاللهِ، مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ، يَا عُمَرُ! أَمَا تَقْرَأُ كِتَابَ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ لَلَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ وَهَٰذَا النَّبِيُّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ " أَوَ مَا تَقْرَأُ قَوْلَ اللهِ عَزَّ اسْمُهُ: "فَمَنْ تَبِعَنِي فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي ۖ وَمَنْ عَصَانِي فَإِنَّكَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ"

Yes! I swear it by Allah. You are part of Muhammad’s Household themselves, `Umar. Have you not read Allah’s Book saying, “Most surely, the nearest of people to Abraham are those who followed him and this Prophet and those who believe; and Allah is the guardian of the believers. (3:68)” Have you not read Allah’s Book saying, “He who follows My ways is of me, and He that disobeys me, You are indeed Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful. (14:36)”13

Sadir has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying:

أَنْتُمْ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ. أَنْتُمْ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ.

You all are Muhammad’s household. You all are Muhammad’s household.14

This is similar to the aforementioned saying of the Holy Prophet (S):

سَلْمَانُ مِنَّا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ.

Salman belongs to us—the Ahl al-Bayt.

Al-`Ayyashi has recorded in his book of Tafsir (i.e. exegesis of the Holy Qur'an) that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said:

مَـنْ تَوَلَّـى آلَ مُحَمَّــدٍ وَقَدَّمَهُمْ عَلَى جَمِيعِ النَّاسِ بِمَا قَدَّمَهُمْ مِنْ قَرَابَةِ رَسُولِ الله فَهُوَ مِنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ لِمَنْزِلَتِهِ عِنْدَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، لاَ أَنَّهُ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ بِأَعْيُنِهِمْ، وَإنَّما هُوَ مِنْهُمْ بِتَوَلِّيهِ إلَيْهِمْ وَاتِّبَاعِهِ إيَّاهُمْ. وَكَذَلِكَ حُكْمُ اللهِ فِي كِتَابِهِ: "وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّهُمْ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ " وَقَوْلُ إبْرَاهِيمَ: "فَمَنْ تَبِعَنِي فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي ۖ وَمَنْ عَصَانِي فَإِنَّكَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ "

Whoever maintains allegiance to Muhammad’s Household and prefers them to all other people because of their relation to Allah’s Messenger, is considered one of Muhammad’s Household in the light of his status with them, but not one of the actual members of Muhammad’s Household; rather, he is one of them on the basis of maintaining allegiance to them and following them. This is the very judgment of Almighty Allah that He has declared in His Book, saying, “He amongst you that turns to them for friendship is of them.” (5:51) Similarly, Prophet Abraham (‘a) has stated (as quoted in the Holy Qur'an), He who follows My ways is of me, and He that disobeys me, You are indeed Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful.” (14:36)15

5. Rank

Regarding the rank, merit, reward, status with Almighty Allah, and intellectual category that the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) deserve, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) substantiate that the Shi`ah deserve the utmost in all these areas.

Imam `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (‘a) is reported to have said:

يَخْرُجُ أَهْلُ وِلاَيَتِنَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ قُبُورِهِمْ مُشْرِقَةً وُجُوهُهُمْ، مَسْتُورَةً عَوْرَاتُهُمْ، آمِنَةً رَوْعَاتُهُمْ، قَدْ فُرِّجَتْ عَنْهُمُ الشَّدَائِدُ، وَسُهِّلَتْ لَهُمُ الْمَوَارِدُ، يَخَافُ النَّاسُ وَلاَ يَخَافُونَ، وَيَحْزَنُ النَّاسُ وَلاَ يَحْزَنُونَ، وَقَدْ أُعْطُوا الأَمْنَ وَالإِيمَانَ، وَانْقَطَعَتْ عَنْهُمُ الأَحْزَانُ، حَتَّى يُحْمَلُوا عَلَى نُوقٍ بِيضٍ لَهَا أَجْنِحَةٌ، عَلَيْهِمْ نَعَالٌ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ شِرْكُهَا النُّورُ، حَتَّى يَقْعُدُونَ فِي ظِلِّ عَرْشِ الرَّحْمَانِ عَلَى مَنَابِرَ مِنْ نُورٍ، بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ مَائِدَةٌ يَأْكُلُونَ مِنْهَا حَتَّى يَفْرُغَ النَّاسُ مِنَ الْحِسَابِ.

On the Day of Resurrection, the loyalists to us come out of their graves with bright faces and covered private parts, secured against horror. Their sufferings will have been relieved and their paths will be made easy-to-pass. All people will be terrified, but our loyalists will not; and all people will be aggrieved, but our loyalists will not, because they will have already been granted security and faith; therefore, their sorrows will have stopped. Their feet in golden sandals wearing ropes of light, they will be taken on white winged camels to the Throne of the All-beneficent Lord where they will sit under the shadow of the Throne on stages of light. Before them, there will be a dining-table from which they will eat until the judgments of others come to an end.16

Salman al-Farisi—may Allah have mercy upon him—narrated the following:

كُنْتُ ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ جَالِساً عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ، إِذْ أَقْبَلَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، فَقَالَ لَهُ: «أَلاَ أُبَشِّرُكَ؟» قَالَ: «بَلَى، يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ.» قَالَ: «هَذَا حَبِيبِي جَبْرَئِيلُ يُخْبِرُنِي عَنِ اللهِ، جَلَّ جَلاَلُهُ، أَنَّهُ قَدْ أَعْطَى مُحِبَّكَ وَشِيعَتَكَ سَبْعَ خِصَالٍ: الرِّفْقَ عِنْدَ الْمَوْتِ، وَالأُنْسَ عِنْدَ الْوَحْشَةِ، وَالنُّورَ عِنْدَ الظُّلْمَةِ وَالأَمْنَ عِنْدَ الْفَزَعِ، وَالْقِسْطَ عِنْدَ الْمِيزَانِ، وَالْجَوَازَ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ، وَدُخُولَ الْجَنَّةِ قَبْلَ سَائِرِ النَّاسِ مِنَ الأُمَمِ بِثَمَانِينَ عَاماً.»

I was sitting with the Holy Prophet (S) when `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (‘a) joined us. The Holy Prophet (S) said to him, “O `Ali, may I convey to you good news?” “Yes, Allah’s Messenger! You may,” answered `Ali. The Holy Prophet (S) said, “My dear Archangel Gabriel has just informed me that Almighty Allah bestowed seven blessings on those who love and follow you. These are (1) gentleness at the moment of death, (2) leisure while alone in the grave, (3) light in the darkness of the grave, (4) security from the horror of the Day of Resurrection, (5) impartiality at the Scale, (6) permission to pass the Discriminating Bridge, and (7) entrance to Paradise eighty years before the other nations.”17

Zayd ibn `Ali has reported on the authority of his fathers that Imam `Ali (‘a) said:

شَكَوْتُ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ، حَسَدَ مَنْ يَحْسِدُنِي، فَقَالَ: «يَا عَلِيُّ، أَمَا تَرْضَى أَنْ تَكُونَ أَوَّلَ أَرْبَعَةٍ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ؟ أَنَا وَأَنْتَ وَذَرَارِينَا خَلْفَ ظُهُورِنَا، وَشِيعَتُنَا عَنْ أَيْمَانِنَا وَشَمَائِلِنَا.»

One day, I complained to the Messenger of Allah (S) about the envy I had to encounter from others. He answered me saying, “O `Ali, will it not satisfy you that you are one of the first four to enter Paradise? These four are I, you, our descendants being behind us, and our Shi`ah being to the right and left of us.18

Al-Daraqutni has recorded that the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said:

يَا أَبَا الْحَسَنِ، أَمَا إنَّكَ وَشِيعَتَكَ فِي الْجَنَّةِ.

O Abu’l-Hasan! Most surely, your Shi`ah and you shall be in Paradise.19

Abu-Sa`id al-Khidri has reported Ummu-Salamah (the Holy Prophet’s wife) as narrating that the Holy Prophet (S) was in her chamber when Fatimah, in company with `Ali, visited him. The Holy Prophet (S) said to `Ali:

أَنْتَ وَأَصْحَابُكَ فِي الْجَنَّةِ، أَنْتَ وَشِيعَتُكَ فِي الْجَنَّةِ.

You and your companions shall be in Paradise. You and your Shi`ah shall be in Paradise…20

Through a chain of authority that is connected to Anas ibn Malik, al-Mughazili reported the Holy Prophet (S) to have said:

يَدْخُلُ مِنْ أُمَّتِي الْجَنَّةَ سَبْعُونَ أَلْفاً لاَ حِسَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ.

Seventy thousand individuals from my nation shall enter Paradise free of the calling to account.

He (S) then turned his face towards (Imam) `Ali and said:

هُمْ شِيعَتُكَ وَأَنْتَ إِمَامُهُمْ.

These are your Shi`ah, and you are their leader (i.e. Imam).21

Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said:

إِنَّ اللهَ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، أَعْطَى الْمُؤْمِنَ ثَلاَثَ خِصَالٍ: العِزَّ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالدِّينِ، وَالْفُلْجَ فِي الآخِرَةِ، وَالْمَهَابَةَ فِي صُدُورِ الْعَالَمِينَ.

Verily, Almighty Allah has granted the faithful believers three qualities: (1) dignity in worldly and religious affairs, (2) success in the Hereafter, and (3) veneration in the hearts of people.22

Imam al-Ridha (‘a) has reported on the authority of his fathers that the Holy Prophet (S) said:

إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ يُعْرَفُ فِي السَّمَاءِ كَمَا يَعْرِفُ الرَّجُلُ أَهْلَهُ وَوِلْدَهُ، وَإِنَّهُ أَكْرَمُ عَلَى اللهِ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، مِنْ مَلَكٍ مُقَرَّبٍ.

Verily, the faithful believer is known in the heavens in the same way as one knows his wife and children, and he is more favorite in the sight of Almighty Allah than an archangel.23

In addition, many traditions have revealed the high ranks that the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) will win in the Next World.

Abu-Basir has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying:

وَاللهِ، مَا بَعْدَنَا غَيْرُكُمْ، وَإِنَّكُمْ مَعَنَا فِي السَّنَامِ الأَعْلَى، فَتَنَافَسُوا فِي الدَّرَجَاتِ.

By Allah I swear, none comes immediately after us save you (i.e. the Shi`ah). You shall be with us on the Supreme Summit. So, compete with each other for gaining ranks.24

Moreover, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) applied the ranks mentioned in the Holy Qur'an to their followers, including al-sabiqun (the foremost in faith) and al-fa'izun (the winners).

Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said that he once asked the Holy Prophet (S) about the interpretation of Almighty Allah’s saying:

وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ {10}أُولَٰئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ

And those foremost in faith will be foremost in the Hereafter. This group will be those nearest to Allah; in the Gardens of Bliss. (56:10-12)

The Holy Prophet (S) answered:

قَالَ لِي جَبْرَئِيلُ: ذَاكَ عَلِيٌّ وَشِيعَتُهُ، هُمُ السَّابِقُونَ إَلَى الْجَنَّةِ، الْمُقَرَّبُونَ مِنَ اللهِ بِكَرَامَتِهِ لَهُمْ.

(Archangel) Gabriel told me that these are `Ali and his Shi`ah. They shall precede all others to Paradise and they are the nearest to Allah due to the honor that He shall confer upon them.25

Imam al-Ridha (‘a) has reported on the authority of his fathers that the Holy Prophet (S) said:

شِيعَةُ عَلِيٍّ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ.

The partisans (Shi`ah) of `Ali are the winners on the Day of Resurrection.26

Jabir ibn Yazid has reported (Imam) Muhammad ibn `Ali al-Baqir (‘a) as saying: When I asked Ummu-Salamah, the Holy Prophet’s wife, about `Ali ibn Abi-Talib, she answered that she had heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying:

إِنَّ عَلِيّاً وَشِيعَتَهُ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ.

Verily, `Ali and his Shi`ah are the winners.27

It is understood that these represent the four previously mentioned aspects of the identity of the virtuous community: the Islamic, historical, political, and human aspects.

Through these features and specifications, the identity of the faithful believer, who maintains true allegiance to Almighty Allah, the Holy Prophet (S), and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), can be defined as part of the general system that the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) set forth for individuals of the virtuous community to manage their affairs and delineate their conduct.

  • 1. - Tafsir al-Qummi 2:223; al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:12, H. 31 as quoted from the previous reference book, yet with little difference.
  • 2. - Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 2:243; Bihar al-Anwar 68:35-36, H. 75 (as quoted from the previous reference book).
  • 3. - Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Amali, pp. 169.
    However, in this reference book, the last sentence of the tradition is recorded in this form: “…in the same way as an axe demolishes a building.”
    The tradition is also recorded in Shaykh al-Tusi’s al-Amali, pp. 190-191, H. 322. Al-Majlisi, in Bihar al-Anwar 68:23, H. 41, has quoted this tradition from the two earlier reference books.
  • 4. - Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Amali, pp. 353, H. 731; al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:24, H. 45, as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 5. - Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Amali, pp. 66, H. 32; Muhammad ibn `Ali al-Tabari: Bisharat al-Mustafa, pp. 42, H. 31, al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:7, H. 1, as quoted from the previous reference books.
  • 6. - `Allamah Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 27:123-125, H. 111 as quoted from al-Kaf`ami, Faraj al-Kurab.
  • 7. - Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 2:124, H. 30; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:34, H. 72 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 8. - Sharaf al-Din al-Astrabadi, Ta'wil al-Ayat al-²ahirah 2:724, H. 4; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 87:46, H. 40 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 9. - Al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:275, H. 536; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:29, H. 58 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 10. - `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 65:53-54, H. 96 as quoted from Abu’l-Fath al-Karajaki, Kanz al-Fawa'id. See also Tafsir Ibn Jarir al-Tabari 30:171; al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur 8:589; Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, al-Sawa`iq al-Muhriqah, pp. 161.
  • 11. - Al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:275, H. 537; al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:30, H. 59 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 12. - Shaykh al-Saduq, Sifat al-Shi`ah, pp. 2; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:167, H. 33 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 13. - Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Amali pp. 45, H. 53; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:20, H. 32 (as quoted from the previous reference book).
  • 14. - Al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:238, H. 435; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:28, H. 53 (as quoted from the previous reference book).
  • 15. - Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 2:231, H. 34; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 58:34, H. 73 (as quoted from the previous reference book).
  • 16. - Al-Himyari al-Qummi, Qurb al-Isnad, pp. 101-102, H. 341; al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 58:15, H. 17 (as quoted from the previous reference book).
  • 17. - Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Amali, pp. 416, H. 548; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 86:9, H. 4 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 18. - `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 65:17. See also al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-`Ummal 12:49, H. 34200; Ibn `Asakir, Tarikh 2:329, H. 835; Ibn Hajar, al-Sawa`iq al-Muhriqah, pp. 161 (with a little difference in some words).
  • 19. - Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad 12:289.
  • 20. - Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, al-Sawa`iq al-Muhriqah pp. 161; al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad 12:358.
  • 21. - Shaykh al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad 1:42; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:31, H. 66 (as quoted from the previous reference book); Ibn al-Mughazili, al-Manaqib, pp. 393, H. 335; Ibn Hajar, Lisan al-Mizan 4:359-360; al-Khawarizmi, al-Manaqib, pp. 328, H. 343.
  • 22. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 8:234, H. 310; Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Khisal 1:156, H. 157; al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:16, H. 21 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 23. - Shaykh al-Saduq, `Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha 1:37, H. 62; al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:18-19, H. 26 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 24. - Al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:238, H. 433; al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:27-28, H. 51 as quoted from the previous reference book.
  • 25. - Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Amali, pp. 298, H. 7; Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Amali, pp. 72, H. 104; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:20, H. 33 as quoted from the previous reference books.
  • 26. - Shaykh al-Saduq, `Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha 1:57, H. 201 and al-Amali, pp. 149-150, H. 146; `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:9, H. 5 as quoted from the previous reference books.
  • 27. - Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitab al-Irshad 1:41, `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:31, H. 64 as quoted from the previous reference books.