Chapter 2: Rules And Foundations


1. Religious and Conventional Laws

2. Controlling and Steering Emotions

3. Justice meted out under all circumstances

4. Nobility of Character and Indulgence

5. Charity and Preceding Others in Charitable Behavior

6. Good Example and Unique Behavior


The second area of discussion appertains to rules that identify the progress and direction of social relations and the foundations on which they are established.

These rules and foundations steer the progress of social relations towards self-perfection in the behavior of individuals and towards social perfection in the activities of the virtuous community.

At the same time, they outline the ethical background and social behavior of the individual by highlighting the role that ethics plays in achieving social perfection in an individual.

Without these ethical restraints, social relations turn into a mere formal mechanism, similar to customs and traditions, disintegrating as soon as the social structure suffers the least change. This has actually taken place under certain conditions like emigration from one society to another, cultural and social intrusions imposed on a society, or overthrow of political regimes. In Western societies, ethics has turned into barren laws and traditions lacking any significant connection to ethics, moral fiber, spirit, or sentiment.

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) summed up these rules in the following points:

1. Commitment to religious duties and conventional responsibilities

2. Controlling and directing one’s emotions

3. Deeming justice and fairness as the only level of comparison between others and oneselfDeeming justice and fairness as the only level of comparison between others and oneself

4. Nobility of character and dealing with people in terms of forbearance and compassion

5. Charity and leading in charitable behavior

6. Distinguished behavior, acting as good example in general social conditions

These regulations are congruous with the Islamic aspects of social relations in trend, goals, form, and content. However, it is necessary to deal with each of these regulations in detail to shed light on the claimed congruity and connection.

Religious and Conventional Laws

Commitment to the religious laws, reason-based pledges and covenants, as well as common conventional manners approved by the Holy Legislator, is in reality an ethical commitment towards Almighty Allah, the One and Only Lord and Creator Who has bestowed uncountable graces upon humankind. Almighty Allah had taken a pledge and a covenant from humankind that they would profess His Oneness in godhead and lordship, and obey and comply with His commandments and prohibitions in this world. Referring to this covenant, the Holy Qur'an says:

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ (172) أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ (173)

When your Lord brought forth the children of Adam and, from their backs, their descendants, and made them bear witness against their own souls, “Am I not your Lord?” They answered, “Yes! We bear witness.” Lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, “Surely, we were heedless of this.” Or, lest you should say, “Only our fathers associated others with Allah before, and we were an offspring after them: Will You then destroy us for what the vain doers did?” (7:172-173)

This commitment, therefore, is in reality the fulfillment of the pledge and covenant mentioned in the Holy Qur'an and the acknowledgement of the religion and system of Islam, which Almighty Allah revealed to Muhammad, His servant and messenger, peace be upon him and his Household. This religion came to guide humankind, organize their affairs, and build a virtuous human community so that the believers of this divine message who fulfill this covenant form the best nation.

These religious laws and regulations, including all commands and prohibitions, are based on actual advantage and disadvantage in both the individual and social movements of humanity. Obeying these religious laws is in truth achieving advantages and evading disadvantages. The second aspect of the Islamic concept of social relations, reinforcing the social structure, cannot be put into practice except by means of gaining advantages and warding off disadvantages.

Further, common conventional manners are just another expression of legitimate social commitments that people of a society agree to use as customs; therefore, conformity with these manners means conformity with people themselves and with society. This is in accord with the first aspect of social relations—openness and sociability.

Obligatory and Forbidden Commitments

Positive and negative implementation of such regulation is found in the details about the superstructure of social relations.

As for the positive aspect, this regulation can be found in fulfillment of promises and covenants, restoration of securities to their owners, participation in funeral ceremonies, presence in congregational prayers and social gatherings, visiting the sick, and like matters that will be discussed in further detail in the second part of this book.

Regarding the negative aspect, application of regulation can be found in threatening others, causing them damage, violating their sanctities, scrutinizing their weaknesses, or spreading corruptive influences among them, which will also be discussed in the second part of this book.

Controlling and Steering the Emotions

The second constraint is to control one’s emotions, feelings, and passions during involvement in certain events and in responding to the results and consequences of those events. When observed, this regulation embodies self-perfection in man’s progress towards Almighty Allah.

Many traditions, reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), emphasize such regulation as a means of attaining self-perfection.

In two books entitled Man-la-Yahdhuruhul-Faqih and Thawab al-A’mal, Shaykh al-Saduq has reported through a valid chain of authority on the authority of Shu’ayb al-’Aqarqufi that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said:

مَنْ مَلَكَ نَفْسَهُ إِذَا رَغِبَ وَإِذَا رَهِبَ وَإِذَا اشْتَهَى وَإِذَا غَضِبَ وَإِذَا رَضِيَ حَرَّمَ اللهُ جَسَدَهُ عَلَى النَّارِ.

Whoever controls himself when he desires, fears, craves, or becomes angry, Almighty Allah shall ban Hellfire from consuming his body.1

According to another tradition that is reported by Shaykh al-Kulayni in al-Kafi through a valid chain of authority on the authority of Safwan al-Jammal, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُ الَّذِي إِذَا غَضِبَ لَمْ يُخْرِجْهُ غَضَبُهُ مِنْ حَقٍّ، وَإِذَا رَضِيَ لَمْ يُدْخِلْهُ رِضَاهُ فِي بَاطِلٍ، وَإِذَا قَدَرَ لَمْ يَأْخُذْ أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا لَهُ.

A true faithful believer is he whose rage does not induce him to abandon what is right, whose approval (of something) does not induce him to indulge in the wrong, and whose power does not induce him to take more than his due.2

Self-Building and Control of Emotions

Without a doubt, self-building is one of the most imposing acts that man adopts in his progress towards self-perfection. According to an authentic tradition, the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have described self-building as ‘the major jihad’.3

One aspect of self-building is controlling emotions and steering them towards what is right and approved by religious laws and divine goals.

In its subjective aspect, the significance of this regulation stems from educating and strengthening the human will to be in a permanent state of harmony with reason and religious laws in its choice and activity. The Holy Legislator has conferred a special significance upon reason and granted it a vital role in the progress of humanity and in guiding human will towards uprightness and helping human souls accomplish the final goal of their existence by controlling emotions during interaction.

In an authentic tradition, the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said:

إِنَّ اللهَ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى خَلَقَ الْعَقْلَ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ: أَقْبِلْ. فَأَقْبَلَ. ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ: أَدْبِرْ. فَأَدْبَرَ. ثُمَّ قَالَ: وَعِزَّتِي وَجَلاَلِي، مَا خَلَقْتُ خَلْقاً هُوَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيَّ مِنْكَ، وَلاَ أَكْمَلْتُكَ إِلاَّ فِي مَنْ أُحِبُّ. أَمَا إِنِّي إِيَّاكَ آمُرُ، وَإِيَّاكَ أَنْهَى، وَإِيَّاكَ أُعَاقِبُ، وَإِيَّاكَ أُثِيبُ.

When Almighty Allah created the intellect (i.e. reason), He ordered it to come. So, the intellect did. He then ordered it to leave, and the intellect responded. Then, Almighty Allah declared, “By My Might and Majesty I take this oath, I have never created any creature dearer to me than you. I shall never deposit you in your perfect form except with those whom I love. Verily, it is you whom I will order, warn, punish, and reward.4

According to another validly reported tradition, ‘Abdullah ibn Sinan asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) whether the angels or mankind were more favored.

The Imam (‘a) answered:

قَالَ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ: إِنَّ اللهَ رَكَّبَ فِي الْمَلاَئِكَةِ عَقْلاً بِلاَ شَهْوَةٍ، وَرَكَّبَ فِي الْبَهَائِمِ شَهْوَةً بِلاَ عَقْلٍ، وَرَكَّبَ فِي بَنِي آدَمَ كِلَيْهِمَا. فَمَنْ غَلَبَ عَقْلُهُ شَهْوَتَهُ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ مِنَ الْمَلاَئِكَةِ، وَمَنْ غَلَبَتْ شَهْوَتُهُ عَقْلَهُ فَهُوَ شَرٌّ مِنَ الْبَهَائِمِ.

Ali ibn Abi-Talib, the Commander of the Faithful, (‘a) said: Almighty Allah installed in angels reason without appetite, and in beasts appetite without reason; while in human beings, He installed both reason and appetite. Thus, a human being whose reason overcomes his appetite becomes more favorable than angels, but he whose appetite overcomes his reason becomes lowlier than beasts.5

Nobility of Character and Control of Emotions

Controlling ones emotions contributes to self-perfection of individuals, which automatically has a great bearing on the self-perfection of the whole society.

Additionally, an individual characterized by uprightness and distinctive moral features leaves an undeniable impact on the other individuals of society. An upright individual’s social behavior will necessarily reflect his or her sound psychological reality.

For that reason, the Holy Qur'an, highlighting this ethical aspect in behavior, has praised the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) for the excellence of his morality:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ (4)

Most surely, you conform to sublime morality. (68:4)

Justice and Fairness under All Circumstances

The third rule in social relations is the commitment to justice and fairness with all people without discrimination. Hence, one is required to be fair even if such fairness forces him to confess his mistake in any incident or issue. This rule expresses the ethical background of the Islamic concept of social relations.

In its capacity as one of the most significant aspects of the social system, this rule has been adopted by Islam as the basis on which its whole system is established. Hence, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) regarded justice as an essential foundation of man’s relationship with Almighty Allah.

Second to divine mercy, justice is a pillar in man’s relationship with the Creator; in the production and distribution of wealth; in government; in judgment between parties of a dispute; and in man’s relationship with himself.

Maintenance of Justice among People

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) emphasized justice and fair play as the basis of the social system in general and in social relations in particular. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said:

إِتَّقُوا اللهَ وَاعْدِلُوا، فَإِنَّكُمْ تَعِيبُونَ عَلَى قَوْمٍ لاَ يَعْدِلُونَ.

Fear Allah and act justly yourselves, for you are censuring people who do not establish justice.6

He (‘a) is also reported to have said:

الْعَدْلُ أَحْلَى مِنَ الشَّهْدِ، وَأَلْيَنُ مِنَ الزُّبْدِ، وَأَطْيَبُ رِيحاً مِنَ الْمِسْكِ.

Justice is sweeter than honey, softer than butter, and more fragrant than musk.7

Protest against Injustice

The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) prohibited unjust treatment of the people. Usually, injustice is the result of misappropriation and disequilibrium in the accurate criteria of social relations.

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

مَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ يَظْلِمُ مَظْلَمَةً إِلاَّ أَخَذَهُ اللهُ بِهَا فِي نَفْسِهِ وَمَالِهِ، فَأَمَّا الظُّلْمُ الَّذِي بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ اللهِ فَإِذَا تَابَ غُفِرَ لَهُ.

No one commits a wrongdoing but that Almighty Allah shall punish him for it in his personal affairs or property. As for wrongdoings that one commits in his relationship with Almighty Allah, they are forgivable when the wrongdoer repents.8

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

مَا مِنْ مَظْلَمَةٍ أَشَدُّ مِنْ مَظْلَمَةٍ لاَ يَجِدُ صَاحِبُهَا عَلَيْهَا عَوْناً إِلاَّ اللهُ.

No act of injustice is graver than wronging one who has no helping power to repel it save Almighty Allah.9

Abu-Basir has reported that two disputing men visited Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) and each one put forward his claim. After he had heard both of them, the Imam (‘a) said:

أَمَا إِنَّهُ مَا ظَفَرَ بِخَيْرٍ مَنْ ظَفَرَ بِالظُّلْمِ. أَمَا إِنَّ الْمَظْلُومَ يَأْخُذُ مِنْ دِينِ الظَّالِمِ أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا يَأْخُذُ الظَّالِمُ مِنْ مَالِ الْمَظْلُومِ. مَنْ يَفْعَلِ الشَّرَّ بِالنَّاسِ فَلاَ يُنْكِرِ الشَّرَّ إِذَا فُعِلَ بِهِ. أَمَا إِنَّهُ يَحْصِدُ ابْنُ آدَمَ مَا يَزْرَعُ، وَلَيْسَ يَحْصِدُ أَحَدٌ مِنَ الْمُرِّ حُلْواً، وَلاَ مِنَ الْحُلْوِ مُرّاً.

Truly, I say, he that gains something by unjust means has in fact gained no benefit. Verily, the wronged party seizes from the faith of the wronging party more than the wronging party seizes unjustly from the property of the wronged party. He that causes evil to people must not complain against the evil that is caused to him. Verily, the son of Adam (i.e. man) will reap only that which he has sown. No one can harvest sweetness from the bitter and no one can harvest bitterness from the sweet.

Upon hearing these words, the two disputing parties made up with each other and left.10

Giving others their rights even if it be against oneself

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) urged their followers to be fair with all people by giving them their rights even if it went against their own interests. Hence, The Holy Imams (‘a) confirmed that the quality of faith (i.e. iman) cannot be ascribed to anyone who does not treat all people equally and give each one his due even if he does not receive his own due.

Seemingly, any unjust act in social relations initially arises from one’s preferring oneself to others and giving one’s own right precedence over the rights of others. This trend then develops to include preferring certain individuals to others and giving the rights of a certain group precedence over the rights of the public. Justice will be established among all people when each person gives all others their due even if it is against oneself.

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:

سَيِّدُ الأَعْمَالِ إِنْصَافُ النَّاسِ مِنْ نَفْسِكَ وَمُوَاسَاةُ الأَخِ فِي اللهِ وَذِكْرُ اللهِ عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ.

Three acts are the masters of all deeds: (1) to treat people fairly even if it is against oneself, (2) to be cordial with your brothers in faith, and (3) to praise Almighty Allah in all circumstances.11

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:

مَنْ وَاسَى الْفَقِيرَ مِنْ مَالِهِ وَأَنْصَفَ النَّاسَ مِنْ نَفْسِهِ فَذَلِكَ الْمُؤْمِنُ حَقّاً.

He who financially comforts the poor from his wealth and gives people their dues, even if it be against his own interests, is a true and faithful believer.12

Abu-’Ubaydah al-Hadhdha' has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying:

أَلاَ أُخْبِرُكَ بِأَشَدَّ مَا افْتَرَضَ اللهُ عَلَى خَلْقِهِ؟ إِنْصَافُ النَّاسِ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَمُوَاسَاةُ الإِخْوَانِ فِي اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَذِكْرُ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ، فَإِنْ عَرَضَتْ لَهُ طَاعَةٌ عَمِلَ بِهَا وَإِنْ عَرَضَتْ لَهُ مَعْصِيَةٌ تَرَكَهَا.

May I tell you about the most difficult duty that Almighty Allah has imposed on His creatures? It is to give others their rights against oneself, to equate brethren-in-faith with oneself, to praise Almighty Allah under all conditions, to perform any act of obedience to Almighty Allah whenever it is encountered, and to avoid any act of disobedience to Him whenever encountered.13

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) instructed their followers strongly to love for their brethren-in-faith whatever they loved for themselves.

This instruction can be evidently seen in Imam ‘Ali’s instructive letter to his son, Imam Hasan (‘a), in which he said:

فَأَحْبِبْ لِغَيْرِكَ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ وَاكْرَهْ لَهُ مَا تَكْرَهُ لَهَا.

Love for the others whatever you love for yourself and hate for them whatever you hate for yourself.14

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) also said:

أَوْحَى اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلَى آدَمَ: إِنِّي سَأَجْمَعُ لَكَ الْكَلاَمَ فِي أَرْبَعِ كَلِمَاتٍ: وَاحِدَةٌ لِي، وَوَاحِدَةٌ لَكَ، وَوَاحِدَةٌ فَي مَا بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ، وَوَاحِدَةٌ فِي مَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ النَّاسِ… أَمَّا الَّتِي لِي فَتَعْبُدُنِي لاَ تُشْرِكُ بِي شَيْئاً. وَأَمَّا الَّتِي لَكَ فَأَجْزِيكَ بِعَمَلِكَ أَحْوَجَ مَا تَكُونُ إِلَيْهِ. وَأَمَّا الَّتِي بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ فَعَلَيْكَ الدُّعَاءُ وَعَلَيَّ الإِجَابَةُ. وَأَمَّا الَّتِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ النَّاسِ فَتَرْضَى لِلنَّاسِ مَا تَرْضَى لِنَفْسِكَ وَتَكْرَهُ لَهُمْ مَا تَكْرَهُ لِنَفْسِكَ.

Almighty Allah, through revelation, addressed to Adam the following: I will summarize the whole wording for you in the following four statements…one statement is about Me, the other about you, the third about what is between you and Me, and the fourth is about what is between you and the people…The word that is for Me is that you must worship me without setting any partner with Me. The word that is for you is that I reward you for your deeds when you are in the most urgent need for that reward. The word that pertains to what is between you and Me is that you pray to Me and I respond to you. The word that pertains to what is between you and the people is that you accept for them whatever you accept for yourself and hate for them whatever you hate for yourself.15

Nobility of Character and Indulgence

The fourth rule according to the instructions of the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) is showing nobility of character, kindness and leniency while interacting with people. This is the ethical basis of openness in social relations.

It is necessary to understand that the ethical tenor of social relations consists of love and affection. It is not an empty, formal relation or a mechanism that is based on mutual benefits and interests; rather, it is an emotional and sentimental tie because social relations cannot attain perfection through common or personal interests but through mutual love and affection.

Undoubtedly, good manners, showing affection to others, courtesy, and forbearance in dealing with people are expressions of this love and indicate the first important step on this path, remove all barriers and negative impacts that stand against love, and symbolize love at the time that its constituents and elements attain perfection.

Traditions corroborating this tenor and its outcomes have been reported from the Holy Prophet (S):

Shaykh al-Kulayni, through an authentic chain of authority, has quoted Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as relating the following:

A Bedouin from the Banu-Tamim tribe came to the Holy Prophet (S) and asked for an advice. The Holy Prophet (S) answered:

تَحَبَّبْ إِلَى النَّاسِ يُحِبُّوكَ.

Try to endear yourself to people and they will certainly love you.16

The author of Wasa'il al-Shi’ah has dedicated two sections, in the chapter on laws of association with people, to good manners and forbearance. In these sections, he has recorded numerous traditions confirming this fact and relating the perfection of faith to love and endearing oneself to others17 because it has also been reported that true faith and religion are in reality love. Let us now cite a number of validly reported traditions that confirm these facts.

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

إِنَّ أَكْمَلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِيمَاناً أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقاً.

Certainly, the most faithful of the believers have the best manners.18

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said:

إِنَّ الْخُلُقَ الْحَسَنَ يُمِيثُ الْخَطِيئَةَ كَمَا تُمِيثُ الشَّمْسُ الْجَلِيدَ.

Verily, good conduct dissolves sins in the same way that sunlight dissolves snow.19

He (‘a) is also reported as saying:

إِنَّ حُسْنَ الْخُلُقِ يَبْلُغُ بِصَاحِبِهِ دَرَجَةَ الصَّائِمِ الْقَائِمِ.

Good manners promote to the rank of those who persistently observe fasting and spend their nights in acts of worship.20

He (‘a) is also reported as saying:

أَكْمَلُ النَّاسِ عَقْلاً أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقاً.

The wisest of all people are those with the best manners.21

He (‘a) is also reported as saying:

إِنَّ اللهَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى لَيُعْطِي الْعَبْدَ مِنَ الثَّوَابِ عَلَى حُسْنِ الْخُلُقِ كَمَا يُعْطِي الْمُجَاهِدَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ يَغْدُو عَلَيْهِ وَيَرُوحُ.

Verily, Almighty Allah grants his servants a reward for good conduct equal to the reward of one who is frequently engaged in jihad in the way of Allah.22

He (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:

أَمَرَنِي رَبِّي بِمُدَارَاةِ النَّاسِ كَمَا أَمَرَنِي بِالْفَرَائِضِ.

Just as my Lord ordered me to persevere in obligatory (religious) duties, so also He ordered me to observe forbearance.23

He (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:

مُدَارَاةُ النَّاسِ نِصْفُ الإِيمَانِ وَالرِّفْقُ بِهِمْ نِصْفُ الْعَيْشِ.

Treating people with moderation is half of one’s faith, and to be lenient towards them is half of one’s sustenance.24

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah reported that he once asked al-Zuhri whether he had met ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (Zayn al-’Abidin) (‘a). Al-Zuhri answered, “Yes, I have met him. I have never met a person more virtuous than he is. By Allah, I have never known that he had a friend in secret or an enemy in public.”

Sufyan asked, “How was that?”

Al-Zuhri answered, “Because all those who loved him envied him out of their abundant knowledge of his outstanding merits, and all those who hated him used to treat him with tolerance because he treated them with even more tolerance.”25

Fudhayl ibn Yasar reported that he asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) whether to love and hate for Allah’s sake is part of faith. The Imam (‘a) answered:

وَهَلِ الإيمَانُ إلاَّ الْحُبُّ وَالبُغْضُ؟

Is true faith anything other than such love and hate?

Then the Imam (‘a) said the following Qur'anic verse to confirm his words:

اللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ (7)

…Allah has endeared the faith to you and has made it seemly in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you unbelief and transgression and disobedience; these it is that are the followers of a right way. (49:7)”26

Safwan al-Jammal reported on the authority of Abu-’Ubaydah Ziyad al-Hadhdha' that Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said to him:

يَا زِيَادُ وَيْحَكَ! وَهَلِ الدِّينُ إِلاَّ الْحُبُّ؟ أَلاَ تَرَى قَوْلَ اللهِ: "قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ" (31) أَوَ لاَ تَرَى قَوْلَ اللهِ لِمُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ: " اللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ " (7) وَقَالَ: " يُحِبُّونَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ " (9) الدِّينُ هُوَ الْحُبُّ، وَالْحُبُّ هُوَ الدِّينُ.

O Ziyad, is religiousness anything other than love? Consider Almighty Allah’s saying (in the Holy Qur'an), “Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (3:31)” Consider Almighty Allah’s saying to Muhammad (S), “Allah has endeared the faith to you and has made it seemly in your hearts. (49:7)” He has also said, “They love those who have fled to them. (59:9)” Thus, the religion is love and love is religion.27

Although love, mentioned in these traditions, stands for love for Almighty Allah, surely to love Muslims and faithful believers for His sake has to be a class of faith because such love stems from love for Almighty Allah and for His sake, as maintained by other traditions.

Sallam ibn al-Mustanir has reported Imam al-Baqir (‘a) as saying:

وِدُّ الْمُؤْمِنِ فِي اللهِ مِنْ أَعْظَمِ شُعَبِ الإيمَانِ. أَلاَ وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ فِي اللهِ وَأَبْغَضَ فِي اللهِ وَأَعْطَى فِي اللهِ وَمَنَعَ فِي اللهِ فَهُوَ مِنْ أَصْفِيَاءِ اللهِ.

When a believer loves (others) for the sake of Almighty Allah, this becomes one of the greatest parts of faith. Verily, he who loves, hates, gives, and withholds for the sake of Almighty Allah is one of His elite servants.28

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

مِنْ أَوْثَقِ عُرَى الإِيمَانِ أَنْ تُحِبَّ فِي اللهِ، وَتُبْغِضَ فِي اللهِ، وَتُعْطِيَ فِي اللهِ، وَتَمْنَعَ فِي اللهِ.

One of the firmest handles of faith is to love, hate, give, and withhold exclusively for the sake of Almighty Allah.29

Charity and Taking the Lead in Charitable Behavior

The fifth rule in the Islamic conception of social relations is to be charitable towards others. This act can be classified into two types:

Charitable Behavior towards all People

The first type of charity is to behave charitably towards all people without taking into consideration whether a tie between the source and the target exists or not. Examples of this type of charity are public deeds of charitable people such as paving roads, digging wells, building guesthouses, endowing property for public purposes, feeding the hungry, helping the poor and the needy, building vocational institutes, and establishing educational, health, and cultural centers. Similar activities of charity, which demonstrate interest in the general affairs of Muslims can be described as deeds that are fisabilillah (i.e. in the way of Allah).

Such deeds, urged by Islam, are the most favorable and genuine form of charity, since they bring about a great reward and compensation and contribute to the perfection of individuals and communities. They are charitable acts that have no direct connection with social relations, although they have a broad-ranging effect on social relations.

Charitable Behavior in Social Relations

The second type of charity is direct charitable behavior towards certain individuals or Muslims in general. This type of charity represents the basic pillar that helps perfect social relations. It also presents love and affection as being the actual purpose behind building good social relations.

It is the most powerful and effective means of gaining affection and love, evading social problems, and diminishing negative reactions in social relations. Finally, it is an image of the high moral standard of man. All these features are visible in traditions that stress the significance of doing good towards others.

For instance, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said:

إِصْنَعِ الْمَعْرُوفَ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَهْلُهُ وَإِلَى مَنْ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ هُوَ أَهْلَهُ فَكُنْ أَنْتَ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ.

Do favor to those who deserve it and those who do not, because if they do not deserve it, you are worthy of doing it.30

He (‘a) is also reported to have said:

إِصْنَعُوا الْمَعْرُوفَ إِلَى كُلِّ أَحَدٍ، فَإِنْ كَانَ أَهْلَهُ وَإِلاَّ فَأَنْتَ أَهْلُهُ.

Do favors to everybody. Even if they do not deserve them, you are worthy of doing them.31

Doing Good to Oneself

In order to maintain equilibrium in this respect, Islam has rendered doing good to others as doing good to oneself. Hence, Almighty Allah says:

إِنْ أَحْسَنْتُمْ أَحْسَنْتُمْ لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ

If you do good, you will do good for your own souls, and if you do evil, it shall be for your own souls also. (17:7)

In view of this, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) did not only instruct their followers to do good and behave charitably. They asked their followers to precede all others in charity in such a way that the principle of conceding one’s right and treating others kindly would become one of the social duties incumbent on true Muslims, as it raises one towards self-perfection and, at the same time, contributes to social perfection.

In this respect, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said:

مَنْ خَالَطْتَ فَإِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ أَنْ تَكُونَ يَدُكَ الْعُلْيَا عَلَيْهِمْ فَافْعَلْ.

If you can take the lead among those with whom you associate, then do it.32

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported as saying:

فِي قَوْلِ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: (إِنَّا نَرَاكَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ) قَالَ: كَانَ يُوسِعُ الْمَجْلِسَ وَيَسْتَقْرِضُ لِلْمُحْتَاجِ وَيُعِينُ الضَّعِيفَ.

Regarding the holy verse, “Surely, we see you to be of the doers of good. (12:36)” He (i.e. Prophet Joseph (‘a)) was described thus because he used to make room in his assemblies for those who had just joined them, borrow money to give to the needy, and help the weak.33

Good Example and Unique Behavior

The sixth rule of social relations is to be perfect examples of social behavior. This basic pillar builds excellent social relations and leads people to perfection. It is, moreover, the best means of teaching others ethical behavior.‌34

The Holy Imams (‘a) ordered their followers to commit to this principle and play a vital role in persuading Muslims to emulate them.

Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported, through an authentic chain of authority, that Safwan ibn Yahya reported Abu-Usamah Zayd al-Shahham as saying that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to him:

إقْرَأْ عَلَى مَنْ تَرَى أَنَّهُ يُطِيعُنِي مِنْهُمْ وَيَأْخُذُ بِقَوْلِي السَّلاَمَ، وَأُوصِيكُمْ بِتَقْوَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، وَالْوَرَعَ فِي دِينِكُمْ، وَالاجْتِهَادَ للهِ، وَصِدْقَ الْحَدِيثِ، وَأَدَاءَ الأَمَانَةِ، وَطُولَ السُّجُودِ، وَحُسْنَ الْجِوَارِ. فَبِهَذَا جَاءَ مُحَمَّدٌ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ؛ كَانَ يَأْمُرُ بِأَدَاءِ الْخَيْطِ وَالْمَخِيطِ. صِلُوا عَشَائِرَكُمْ، وَاشْهَدُوا جَنَائِزَهُمْ، وَعُودُوا مَرْضَاهُمْ، وَأَدُّوا حُقُوقَهُمْ؛ فَإنَّ الرَّجُلَ مِنْكُمْ إذَا وَرِعَ فِي دِينِهِ وَصَدَقَ الْحَدِيثَ وَأَدَّى الأَمَانَةَ وَحَسَّنَ خُلُقَهُ مَعَ النَّاسِ قِيلَ هَذَا جَعْفَرِيٌّ، فَيَسُرُّنِي ذَلِكَ وَيَدْخُلُ عَلَيَّ مِنْهُ السُّرُورَ، وَقِيلَ هَذَا أَدَبُ جَعْفَرٍ. وَاللهِ لَحَدَّثَنِي أَبِي عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ أَنَّ الرَّجُلَ كَانَ يَكُونُ فِي القَبِيلَةِ مِنْ شِيعَةِ عَلِيٍّ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ فَيَكُونُ زَيْنَهَا، آدَاهُمْ لِلأَمَانَةِ، وَأَقْضَاهُمْ لِلْحُقُوقِ، وَأَصْدَقَهُمْ لِلْحَدِيثِ، إلَيْهِ وَصَايَاهُمْ وَوَدَائِعُهُمْ، تُسْأَلُ الْعَشِيرَةُ عَنْهُ فَتَقُولُ: مَنْ مِثْلُ فُلانٍ؟ إنَّهُ آدَانَا لِلأَمَانَةِ وَأَصْدَقُنَا لِلْحَدِيثِ.

Deliver my greetings to every one whom you consider to be obeying me and following my orders. (Say to them): I advise you to fear Almighty Allah, to act piously with regard to the affairs of your religion, to work painstakingly for the sake of Almighty Allah, to be honest in speech, to fulfill the trusts entrusted with you, to make prolonged prostration before Almighty Allah, and to observe good neighborliness. Verily, these are the traits with which Prophet Muhammad (S) came. You should give back things with which you were entrusted to their owners, be the owners righteous or dissolute. The Messenger of Allah (S) used to order his followers to fulfill their trusts even if they were only a thread and needle. Build good relationships with your clans, present yourselves at their funeral processions, visit the sick among them, and carry out your duties towards them.

Verily, if one of you shows piety in his religious affairs, speaks nothing but the truth, and behaves politely towards the people, they will refer to him as belonging to Ja’far and they will say that this is the way Ja’far educates his followers. This thing will please me and fill me with delight. If one does the opposite, it is I who will be defamed and offended, since the people will then say that Ja’far has trained his followers in this manner. I swear by Allah that my father (‘a) told me that a (true) Shi’ite in a clan would be the best of its individuals, the most trustworthy, the most observant of their rights, and the most honest. The other individuals of that clan would always keep their wills and trusts with him.1 When they would be asked about him, they would answer that he was unmatched among them, since he was the most trustworthy and the most honest.35

Kathir ibn ‘Alqamah has reported that he once asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) for advice. The Imam thus (‘a) said:

أُوصِيكَ بِتَقْوَى اللهِ وَالْوَرَعِ وَالْعِبَادَةِ وَطُولِ السُّجُودِ وَأَدَاءِ الأَمَانَةِ وَصِدْقِ الْحَدِيثِ وَحُسْنِ الْجِوَارِ. فَبِهَذَا جَاءَنَا مُحَمَّدٌ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ. صِلُوا فِي عَشَائِرِكُمْ وَعُودُوا مَرْضَاكُمْ وَاشْهَدُوا جَنَائِزَكُمْ، وَكُونُوا لَنَا زَيْناً وَلاَ تَكُونُوا عَلَيْنَا شَيْناً. حَبِّبُونَا إِلَى النَّاسِ وَلاَ تُبَغِّضُونَا إِلَيْهِمْ، فَجُرُّوا إِلَيْنَا كُلَّ مَوَدَّةٍ وَادْفَعُوا عَنَّا كُلَّ شَرٍّ.

I command you to fear Allah, relinquish prohibited acts, stick to devotional acts, prostrate yourself as long as you can, fulfill trusts, tell only truths, and treat your neighbor kindly. This is exactly what has been brought to us by Muhammad—peace be upon him and his Household. Build up good relations with the members of your tribes. Visit the sick among them. Attend their funeral ceremonies. Represent us excellently (before others) and do not create a bad opinion of us. Draw people to fondness towards us and avert from us every evil…36

‘Abdullah ibn Abi-Ya’fur has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying:

كُونُوا دُعَاةً لِلنَّاسِ بِالْخَيْرِ بِغَيْرِ ألْسِنَتِكُمْ، لِيَرَوْا مِنْكُمُ الإجْتِهَادَ وَالصِّدْقَ وَالْوَرَعَ.

Act as heralds to goodness among the masses by other means than your tongues (i.e. speech) so that they can become aware of your diligence, honesty, and piety.37

According to another narration of the same purport, the Imam (‘a) said:

كُونُوا دُعَاةً لِلنَّاسِ بِالْخَيْرِ بِغَيْرِ ألْسِنَتِكُمْ، لِيَرَوْا مِنْكُمُ الْوَرَعَ وَالإِجْتِهَادَ وَالصَّلاَةَ وَالْخَيْرَ، فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ دَاعِيَةٌ.

Act as heralds to goodness among the masses by other means than your tongues (i.e. speech) so that they can become aware of your abstention (from violating Almighty Allah’s prohibitions), diligence, prayers, and goodness. Verily, these things are heralds.38

By means of these rules and foundations, the Islamic concept of social relations reaches perfection. It is significant that the five aspects of social concept are based on a number of well-built foundations whose elements and details will be cited in the coming section of this book: the superstructure of the social relations system of Islam.

  • 1. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:132, S. 1, H. 8.
  • 2. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:286, S. 53, H. 1.
  • 3. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:122, S. 1, H. 1.
    Al-Sakuni related the following on the authority of Abu-’Abdullah al-Sadiq (‘a):
    On seeing the armies returning from the battlefront, the Holy Prophet (s) said, “Blessed are those who have performed the minor jihad, and have yet to perform the major one.” When asked what the major jihad was, the Holy Prophet replied, “It is the jihad of the self (struggle against self).”
  • 4. ‌- Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 1:10, H. 1; al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:160, H. 1.
  • 5. ‌- Shaykh al-Saduq, ‘Ilal al-Shara'i’ 1:4-5, H. 1; al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:164, H. 2.
  • 6. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:233, S. 37, H. 1.
  • 7. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:233, S. 37, H. 3.
  • 8. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11: 338, S. 77, H. 3.
  • 9. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:338, S. 77, H. 1.
  • 10. ‌- Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:334, H. 22.
  • 11. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:225, S. 34, H. 2.
  • 12. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:225, S. 34, H. 5.
  • 13. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:226, S. 34, H. 10.
  • 14. ‌- Nahj al-Balaghah, Letter No. 31.
  • 15. ‌- Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:146, H. 13.
  • 16. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:433, H. 1.
  • 17. ‌- Refer to al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:503-539, Chapter: Etiquettes of Association with People (Ahkam al-’Ishrah), S. 104, 121. In addition, sections 29 and 30 are also full of other traditions demonstrating the importance of endearing oneself to others and associating with them with forbearance.
  • 18. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:503, S. 104, H. 1.
  • 19. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:504, S. 104, H. 6.
  • 20. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:504, S. 104, H. 4.
  • 21. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:504, S. 104, H. 9.
  • 22. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:505, S. 104, H. 15.
  • 23. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:540, H. 1, S. 121.
  • 24. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:540, S. 121, H. 5.
  • 25. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:542, S. 121, H. 10.
  • 26. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:435, H. 16; al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:409, H. 930, published by the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly.
  • 27. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:435, H. 17; al-Barqi, al-Mahasin 1:409, H. 931, published by the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly.
  • 28. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:431, H. 3.
  • 29. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:431, H. 2.
  • 30. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:528, S. 3, H. 1.
  • 31. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:528, S. 3, H. 2.
  • 32. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:401, S. 1, H. 1.
  • 33. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:405, S. 4, H. 1.
  • 34. ‌- In an independent thesis, I have discussed the topic of excellent example and its psychological and spiritual impacts, as well as its constructive role in societies. I hope I would be able to publish it in an independent book. Besides, in this series of books, I have discussed the topic of excellent example on a number of occasions, especially in the chapters on goals and particularities, and spiritual and moral contents of building a virtuous community. It is therefore pointless to repeat.
  • 35. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:398 H. 2.
  • 36. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:400, H. 8.
  • 37. ‌- Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:513, H. 1.
  • 38. ‌- Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:105, H. 10 & 2:78, H. 14.