Chapter 2: Policies of General Security

1. Coexistence with Other Muslims

2. Caution in Propagating the True Faith

3. Policy of Centralization

4. Observance of the Level of Toleration4. Observance of the Level of Toleration


The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) set forth a set of general policies to be followed in the area of security that supported the previously mentioned strategies of the security system of the virtuous community.

This is because security procedures can be effective and useful only when they are carried out within the general policies of this discipline, especially when we realize that the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) intended to achieve a level of security which kept the virtuous community moving and existing within the borders of the unified Muslim society, to influence the Muslims and undertake the general responsibilities towards Islam and Muslim society.

It is true that there are other significant objectives behind these general policies, but the goal of achieving security for the virtuous community is the most obvious and most significant. These policies may overlap the aforementioned measures and security procedures. In this discussion, we will refer to four general political policies and aspects that reflect bold security measures.

Coexistence with Other Muslims

The first general policy that the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) set up for guaranteeing the security of the virtuous community was the construction of a well-established relationship with groups of Muslims and Muslim society as a whole. This policy represents the general principle followed by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and used by their followers as an effective two-edged instrument of pressure.

Where campaigns of enlightenment are begun and good relations created with other groups of Muslims, those groups can be shifted from a pressure tool against the virtuous community—when the tyrannical ruling authorities incite them against the Shi’ah—to a pressure tool against the ruling authorities to put a stop to harassment of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and their followers in particular and injustice and oppression against Muslims in general.

Actually, the majority of Muslims did put this change into effect despite the fact that many of them did not follow the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) sect. They, therefore, led a wide and influential opposition against such tyrannical authorities.

In fact, one of the most important goals of practicing taqiyyah was to achieve such coexistence with the other Muslims.1

In addition to enhancing the security of the virtuous community, coexistence with other Muslims has other benefits, one of which is to ensure the cohesion and unity of Muslim society. This principle has another political goal, which is to protect the virtuous community from the probable negative reactions of other Muslims and ruling authorities.

The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) took the following measures:

A. They directed their followers to present themselves in general ceremonies and important rituals, which the religion of Islam has paid special attention to as pillars of Muslim society, including Friday and Congregational Prayers.

The Shi’ah community showed some reservations on participating in these congregations. For instance, various terms of validity of congregational prayers, like the specification of decency as a quality to be met by prayer leaders, might not have been met because the majority of prayer leaders were officials or agents of the unjust ruling authorities. Another reservation was that the Shi’ah jurisprudentially differ with other Muslim groups on the performance of prayers in terms of the timing of the daily prayers and other rulings and acts as well as in terms of certain cultural contents that the Shi’ah believe to have been distorted through history, such as insulting Imam ‘Ali (‘a) and reviling his followers in sermons and lectures delivered during such congregations.

Despite these issues, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) urged their followers, firmly and vigorously, to attend these congregations.

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

مَنْ صَلَّى مَعَهُمْ فِي الصَّفِّ الأَوَّلِ كَانَ كَمَنْ صَلَّى خَلْفَ رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ.

Whoever prays with them (i.e. other Muslim groups) in the first line (of their congregational prayers) is regarded as one who prayed behind the Messenger of Allah (S) in congregational prayer.2

Abdullah ibn Sinan has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying:

أُوصِيكُمْ بِتَقْوَى اللهِ، وَلاَ تَحْمِلُوا النَّاسَ عَلَى أَكْتَافِكُمْ فَتَذِلُّوا. إِنَّ اللهَ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، يَقُولُ فِي كِتَابِهِ:

وَقُولُوا لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًا

عُودُوا مَرْضَاهُمْ، وَاحْضُرُوا جَنَائِزَهُمْ، وَاشْهَدُوا لَهُمْ وَعَلَيْهِمْ، وَصَلُّوا مَعَهُمْ فِي مَسَاجِدِهِمْ…

I instruct you to be God-wary. Do not carry people on your shoulders (i.e. do not abase yourself before others), lest you become humiliated. Verily, Almighty Allah says in His Book, “Speak to men good words. (2:83)” Visit the sick among them, attend their funeral ceremonies, bear witness for and against them, pray with them in their mosques…3

B. The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) urged their followers to comply with the social behavior common with other Muslims in general, and members of their (i.e. the followers) clans and tribes in particular, so that difference in doctrine and sect would not influence social relations. These common social behaviors included keeping in contact with relatives, attending their funeral and wedding ceremonies, visiting the sick, and other similar social activities and duties.

Mu’awiyah ibn Wahab has reported that he once asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), “What should we do with respect to relationships among our people and associates who follow other faiths?”

The Imam (‘a) answered:

تَنْظُرُونَ إِلَى أَئِمَّتِكُمُ الَّذِينَ تَقْتَدُونَ بِهِمْ، فَتَصْنَعُونَ مَا يَصْنَعُونَ. فَوَاللهِ إِنَّهُمْ لَيَعُودُونَ مَرْضَاهُمْ وَيَشْهَدُونَ جَنَائِزَهُمْ وَيُقِيمُونَ الشَّهَادَةَ لَهُمْ وَعَلَيْهِمْ وَيُؤَدُّونَ الأَمَانَةَ إِلَيْهِمْ.

You must watch the Imams you follow and do exactly as they do. By Allah (I swear), they (i.e. the Imams) visit the sick among them, attend their funeral ceremonies, testify for and against them, and fulfill their trusts.4

Kathir ibn ‘Alqamah has reported that he once asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) for advice. The Imam (‘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 prohibitions, abide by devotional acts, prostrate yourself as long as you can, fulfill your trusts, tell only the truth 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. Make us beloved by people and do not make them upset at us. Attract to us all love and repel from us every evil.5

C. The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) highlighted the importance of their followers acting as excellent examples in Muslim communities so that they would be objects of others’ attention, sources of trustworthiness and reliability, the worthiest of keeping the trusts of others, and the persons people refer to for solving problems and judging disputes.

According to a valid tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said:

وَاللهِ لَحَدَّثَنِي أَبِي، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، أَنَّ الرَّجُلَ كَانَ يَكُونُ فِي الْقَبِيلَةِ مِنْ شِيعَةِ عَلِيٍّ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، فَيَكُونُ زَيْنَهَا؛ آدَاهُمْ لِلأَمَانَةِ وَأَقْضَاهُمْ لِلْحُقُوقِ وَأَصْدَقَهُمْ لِلْحَدِيثِ، إِلَيْهِ وَصَايَاهُمْ وَوَدَائِعُهُمْ. تُسْأَلُ الْعَشِيرَةُ عَنْهُ فَتَقُولُ: مَنْ مِثْلُ فُلانٍ؟ إنَّهُ آدَانَا لِلأَمَانَةِ وَأَصْدَقُنَا لِلْحَدِيثِ.

I swear by Allah, my father (‘a) told me that a Shi’ite in a clan would be the best of its individuals, the most trustworthy, the most observant of the rights of others, and the most honest. The other individuals of that clan would always keep their wills and trusts with him and when they were asked about him, they would answer that he was unmatched among them: the most upright and the most honest.6

Caution in Propagating the True Faith

The second general policy adopted by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) was caution and vigilance in propagating the true beliefs of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a),7 including issues of loyalty to the Holy Imams (‘a), religious referential authority, doctrines, distinctive features of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), the duties of Muslims towards them, etc.

The traditions reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) demonstrate that the purpose behind adopting this policy of caution is to guarantee the security and protect the individuals of this community. Making a comparison between the advantages of inviting people to true faith and guiding them to the true path on the one hand and forbidding the divulgence of doctrinal secrets and the perils ensuing from such propagation when conditions are not appropriate or when this causes divulgence of a doctrinal secret on the other, the Holy Imams (‘a) said they would prefer banning propagation and postponing growth, leaving dissemination to its natural course.

Shaykh al-Saduq has recorded the following authenticated tradition:

Muhammad ibn ‘«sa has reported that he read the following in ‘Ali ibn Hilal’s message to Imam al-Ridha (‘a): It has been reported from your fathers that they warned you against debating on religious affairs. However, some of your followers (theologians) interpreted this warning to be exclusively meant for those who are deficient in this field and believed those who could do it adeptly were excluded from this warning. Is this interpretation accurate or not?”

The Imam (‘a) replied:

الْمُحْسِنُ وَغَيْرُ الْمُحْسِنِ لاَ يَتَكَلَّمُ فِيهِ، فَإِنَّ إثْمَهُ أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِ.

Both, those who are inexperienced and those who can debate adeptly are included in this ban. Verily, its sin is greater than its advantage.8

To explain, the Imam (‘a) said that even though there were advantages in propagating the true faith, the political and psychological circumstances were at that time inappropriate; therefore, the drawbacks would be greater than the advantages.

According to another acceptably reported (hasan) tradition,9 Hamran has reported that the following dialogue was conducted between Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) and himself:

Hamran: May I ask you something that Allah may lead you to more success?

The Imam: Yes, you may.

Hamran: I now practice an approach quite opposite to my previous approach! I used to visit countries and invite one or two men or women to my faith and then Almighty Allah would save whomever He willed. Now, I can no longer invite anybody.

The Imam: What harms you if you leave people to their Lord? Whomever Almighty Allah decides to bring out of darkness into the light shall be so brought. To make sure of one’s receptiveness is better than casting (your faith) onto another arbitrarily.

Hamran: Please, tell me about the interpretation of Almighty Allah’s saying, “And whoever keeps it (i.e. a soul) alive, it is as though he kept alive all men. (5:32)”

The Imam: To keep a soul alive is to save it from burning or drowning… However, its most profound interpretation is to invite an individual to the true faith and a positive response is received.10

Al-Fudhayl has reported that he asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), “May we invite people to this matter (i.e. faith)?”

The Imam answered:

يَا فُضَيْلُ، إِنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِذَا أَرَادَ بِعَبْدٍ خَيْراً أَمَرَ مَلَكاً فَأَخَذَ بِعُنُقِهِ حَتَّى أَدْخَلَهُ فِي هَذَا الأَمْرِ طَائِعاً أَوْ كَارِهاً.

O Fudhayl, if Almighty Allah intends to do (the) favor (of true guidance) to a servant (of His), He orders an angel to grasp him by the neck and forcefully put him in this matter, willingly or unwillingly.11

Kulayb ibn Mu’awiyah al-Saydawi has reported that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to him:

إِيَّاكُمْ وَالنَّاسَ! إِنَّ اللهَ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، إِذَا أَرَادَ بِعَبْدٍ خَيْراً نَكَتَ فِي قَلْبِهِ نَكْتَةً فَتَرَكَهُ وَهُوَ يَجُولُ لِذَلِكَ وَيَطْلُبُهُ. لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ إِذَا كَلَّمْتُمُ النَّاسَ قُلْتُمْ: ذَهَبْنَا حَيْثُ ذَهَبَ اللهُ، وَاخْتَرْنَا مَنِ إخْتَارَهُ اللهُ؛ إِخْتَارَ اللهُ مُحَمَّداً وَإخْتَرْنَا آلَ مُحَمَّدٍ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ.

Beware of (inviting) people (to your faith)! Verily, if Almighty Allah intends to do (the) favor (of true guidance) to a servant (of His), He casts something in his heart and leaves him go after it from place to place and seek it…It would be better for you if you say, while replying to those who blame you for choosing this sect, “We have moved towards those whom Almighty Allah preferred and we chose them whom Almighty Allah has chosen. Almighty Allah has chosen Muhammad (S) and we have chosen Muhammad’s Household (‘a).”12

Thabit ibn Sa’id has reported that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to him:

يَا ثَابِتُ، مَا لَكُمْ وَلِلنَّاسِ؟ كُفُّوا عَنِ النَّاسِ. وَلاَ تَدْعُوا أَحَداً إلَى أَمْرِكُمْ، فَوَاللهِ لَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ السَّمَاءِ وَأَهْلَ الأَرْضِ إجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يُضِلُّوا عَبْداً هَدَاهُ اللهُ مَا إسْتَطَاعُوا. كُفُّوا عَنِ النَّاسِ، وَلاَ يَقُولُ أَحَدُكُمْ: أَخِي وَابْنُ عَمِّي وَجَارِي. فَإنَّ اللهَ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، إِذَا أَرَادَ بِعَبْدٍ خَيْراً طَيَّبَ رُوحَهُ، فَلاَ يَسْمَعُ بِمَعْرُوفٍ إِلاَّ عَرَفَهُ، وَلاَ بِمُنْكَرٍ إِلاَّ أَنْكَرَهُ. ثُمَّ يَقْذِفُ اللهُ فِي قَلْبِهِ كَلِمَةً يَجْمَعُ بِهَا أَمْرَهُ.

O Thabit! What do you want of people? Stop disputing with people (attempting to convince them) and do not invite them to your faith. I swear by Allah that if all the inhabitants of the skies and all the inhabitants of the earth help each other to mislead a servant that Almighty Allah wants to guide, they shall never be able to do it. Stop contending with people and do not offer your faith to anyone even if you believe one will respond because he is your brother, cousin, or neighbor. Verily, if Almighty Allah wants somebody to join the truth, He will make his spirit responsive and then that person will follow whatever good matter he encounters and reject any evil that he encounters. Then, Almighty Allah will cast in his heart a word that determines his decree.13

‘Ali ibn ‘Uqbah, on the authority of his father, has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying:

إجْعَلُوا أَمْرَكُمْ هَذَا إِلَى اللهِ، وَلاَ تَجْعَلُوهُ لِلنَّاسِ، فَإنَّهُ مَا كَانَ للهِ فَهُوَ للهِ، وَمَا كَانَ لِلنَّاسِ فَلاَ يَصْعَدُ إلَى السَّمَاءِ، وَلاَ تُخَاصِمُوا بِدِينِكُمْ، فَإِنَّ الْمُخَاصَمَةَ مُمْرِضَةٌ لِلْقَلْبِ. إنَّ اللهَ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، قَالَ لِنَبِيِّهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ:

إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ


أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ النَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

ذَرُوا النَّاسَ، فَإِنَّ النَّاسَ أَخَذُوا عَنِ النَّاسِ، وَإِنَّكُمْ أَخَذْتُمْ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ، وَعَلِيٍّ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، وَلاَ سَوَاءَ. وَإِنِّي سَمِعْتُ أَبِي، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، يَقُولُ: إِذَا كَتَبَ اللهُ عَلَى عَبْدٍ أَنْ يُدْخِلَهُ فِي هَذَا الأَمْرِ، كَانَ أَسْرَعَ إِلَيْهِ مِنَ الطَّيْرِ إِلَى وَكْرِهِ.

Devote this matter (i.e. faith) to Almighty Allah alone and do not display it before people. Verily, what is truly intended to Almighty Allah shall permanently be to Him, but whatever is intended for people shall never ascend to the heavens. Do not dispute with others in matters appertaining to your faith. Verily, disputation ends in disease of the heart (spiritual disease). Almighty Allah has said to His Prophet (S),

“Surely, you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases. (28:56)”

He has also said,

“Will you then force men to become believers? (10:99)”

Leave people alone. Verily, they received from other people while you have received from Allah’s Messenger (S) and ‘Ali (‘a) and none else. Indeed, I heard my father saying, “If Almighty Allah decides for someone to join this faith, he will join it swifter than a bird hurrying to its nest.”14

On the other hand, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) allowed propagation for the true faith when they believed that there was good opportunity and positive ground available for people to receive it.

Sulayman ibn Khalid has reported that he said to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), “I have some relatives who usually listen to me. May I call them to this faith?”

The Imam (‘a) answered:

نَعَمْ! إِنَّ اللهَ يَقُولُ فِي كِتَابِهِ:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

Yes, you may. Almighty Allah says in His Book,

“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones. (66:6)

Zayd ibn ‘Ali has reported the following from his ancestors:

One day, someone asked the Holy Prophet (S) for guidance and the Holy Prophet (S) advised him, saying:

أُوصِيكَ أَنْ لاَ تُشْرِكَ بِاللهِ شَيْئاً، وَلاَ تَعْصِ وَالِدَيْكَ… وَادْعُ النَّاسَ إِلَى الإِسْلاَمِ، وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ لَكَ بِكُلِّ مَنْ أَجَابَكَ عِتْقَ رَقَبَةٍ مِنْ وُلْدِ يَعْقُوبَ.

I advise you not to set any partner (in godhead) with Almighty Allah. Never disobey your parents….Call people to Islam. Be it known to you that you will win the reward of manumitting a slave from the descendants of (Prophet) Jacob (‘a) for every single person that responds to you.15

Abu-Basir has reported that he once asked Imam al-Baqir (‘a), “Am I permitted to call people to my faith?”

The Imam (‘a) answered, “No, you are not.”

Abu-Basir further asked, “If one asks me to lead him to the true faith, will I then be permitted to do so?”

The Imam (‘a) answered:

نَعَمْ! مَنِ إسْتَرْشَدَكَ فَارْشُدْهُ، فَإِنِ إسْتَزَادَكَ فَزِدْهُ، وَإِنْ جَاحَدَكَ فَجَاحِدْهُ.

Yes. If one asks for true guidance, you may show him. If one asks for more details, you may give them to him. If one does not believe you, you may reject him.16

At another time, the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) urged their followers to propagate the true faith after they had defined a suitable environment for its acceptance; that is, youths who desire acquainting themselves with the truth and their minds and hearts are usually open to knowledge.

Isma’il ibn ‘Abd al-Khaliq has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) asking al-Ahwal, “You have come from Basrah, have you not?”

“Yes, I have,” answered al-Ahwal.

“How do you evaluate the people’s enthusiasm towards this matter and in joining it?” Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) asked.

“Well,” answered al-Ahwal, “There is a lack of enthusiasm. Some have joined, but they are still few.”

Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) instructed:

عَلَيْكَ بِالأَحْدَاثِ، فَإِنَّهُمْ أَسْرَعُ إِلَى كُلِّ خَيْرٍ.

Concentrate on the youths, because they always hurry towards every good thing more than others do.17

By comparing these situations and traditions with each other and taking into consideration the circumstances under which they traditions were stated, we can conclude that the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) set up a general policy for the propagation of the path of Almighty Allah and true faith. This policy is established on a number of levels:

(i) Responsibility towards one’s family members and clan (i.e. the private circle).

(ii) Full acquaintance with the person to whom the invitation is being extended. To put in simpler words, it is necessary that those persons are receptive and open minded.

(iii) Availability of suitable political and social security that assures protection of the virtuous community against potential injuries that could arise from rashness in propagation through examination of the circumstances exactly and accurately so as to avoid missing the opportunity to procure the common interests of Muslims, lead them to true guidance, and seek Almighty Allah’s nearness through acts of propagation.18

Policy of Centralization

The third measure adopted by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) for ensuring the security of the virtuous community was that they sternly instructed their followers not to respond imprudently to the calls of those who claimed reformation or revolution against adverse political and social conditions unless they received affirmation for such calls from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) directly or when the reformative movement was personally undertaken by the promised Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).

This is because many so-called reformists have wicked intentions and their main goal is to come to power or achieve personal or illegitimate gains. Past examples of this include the ‘Abbasids who called for revolution against the Umayyad dynasty and some Hasanid movements at their outset, which were led by Muhammad, the innocent souled (dhu’l-nafs al-zakiyyah), and his brother Ibrahim (the sons of ‘Abdullah al-Mahdh ibn al-Hasan al-Muthanna ibn al-Hasan (‘a) ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib (‘a)).

Other reformists may have been sincere in their intentions but were incapable of identifying political conditions because they lacked familiarity with the circumstances surrounding the situation, or they based their uprisings on foundations that seemed sound but were actually restricted to their adopters only.

Shaykh al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, has quoted al-Mu’alla ibn Khunays to have narrated the following:

I carried the letters of ‘Abd al-Salam ibn Na’im, Sadir, and many others from our companions to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) at the time of the uprising of the Musawwidah19 and just before the victory of the ‘Abbasids. These letters carried their determination to give power to Imam al-Sadiq (‘a). The Imam threw these letters down violently and said:

أُفٍّ! أُفٍّ! مَا أَنَا لِهَؤُلاَءِ بِإِمَامٍ. أَمَا يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ إِنَّمَا يَقْتُلُ السُّفْيَانِيَّ؟

Ugh! Ugh! I am not the Imam of these. Do they not know that the Imam who shall undertake this matter will kill al-Sufyani beforehand?20

In an authentic tradition reported by Shaykh al-Kulayni in his book of al-Kafi, al-’Ays ibn al-Qasim has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying:

عَلَيْكُمْ بِتَقْوَى اللهِ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَانْظُرُوا لأَِنْفُسِكُمْ، فَوَاللهِ إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَكُونُ لَهُ الْغَنَمُ فِيهَا الرَّاعِي، فَإِذَا وَجَدَ رَجُلاً هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِغَنَمِهِ مِنَ الَّذِي هُوَ فِيهَا يُخْرِجُهُ وَيَجِيءُ بِذَلِكَ الرَّجُلِ الَّذِي هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِغَنَمِهِ مِنَ الَّذِي كَانَ فِيهَا. وَاللهِ لَوْ كَانَتْ لأَِحَدِكُمْ نَفْسَانِ يُقَاتِلُ بِوَاحِدَةٍ يُجَرِّبُ بِهَا ثُمَّ كَانَتِ الأُخْرَى بَاقِيَةً تَعْمَلُ عَلَى مَا قَدِ اسْتَبَانَ لَهَا، وَلَكِنْ لَهُ نَفْسٌ وَاحِدَةٌ إِذَا ذَهَبَتْ فَقَدْ وَاللهِ ذَهَبَتِ التَّوْبَةُ. فَأَنْتُمْ أَحَقُّ أَنْ تَخْتَارُوا لأَِنْفُسِكُمْ. إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ آتٍ مِنَّا فَانْظُرُوا عَلَى أَيِّ شَيْءٍ تَخْرُجُونَ، وَلاَ تَقُولُوا خَرَجَ زَيْدٌ، فَإِنَّ زَيْداً كَانَ عَالِماً وَكَانَ صَدُوقاً وَلَمْ يَدْعُكُمْ إِلَى نَفْسِهِ، وَإِنَّمَا دَعَاكُمْ إِلَى الرِّضَا مِنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ. وَلَوْ ظَهَرَ لَوَفَى بِمَا دَعَاكُمْ إِلَيْهِ. إِنَّمَا خَرَجَ إِلَى سُلْطَانٍ مُجْتَمِعٍ لِيَنْقُضَهُ. فَالْخَارِجُ مِنَّا الْيَوْمَ إِلَى أَيِّ شَيْءٍ يَدْعُوكُمْ إِلَى الرِّضَا مِنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَنَحْنُ نُشْهِدُكُمْ أَنَّا لَسْنَا نَرْضَى بِهِ وَهُوَ يَعْصِينَا الْيَوْمَ وَلَيْسَ مَعَهُ أَحَدٌ، وَهُوَ إِذَا كَانَتِ الرَّايَاتُ وَالأَلْوِيَةُ أَجْدَرُ أَنْ لاَ يُسْمَعَ مِنَّا إِلاَّ مَنِ إجْتَمَعَتْ بَنُو فَاطِمَةَ مَعَهُ، فَوَاللهِ مَا صَاحِبُكُمْ إِلاَّ مَنِ إجْتَمَعُوا عَلَيْهِ. إِذَا كَانَ رَجَبُ فَأَقْبِلُوا عَلَى إسْمِ اللهِ، وَإِنْ أَحْبَبْتُمْ أَنْ تَتَأَخَّرُوا إِلَى شَعْبَانَ فَلاَ ضَيْرَ، وَإِنْ أَحْبَبْتُمْ أَنْ تَصُومُوا فِي أَهَالِيكُمْ فَلَعَلَّ ذَلِكَ يَكُونُ أَقْوَى لَكُمْ، وَكَفَاكُمْ بِالسُّفْيَانِيِّ عَلاَمَةً.

Adhere to fear of Almighty Allah, the One, without setting any partner with him and decide for yourselves. I swear by Allah, an owner of a flock of sheep who has hired a shepherd must definitely dismiss his shepherd and appoint another if he finds that the latter is more skilled in shepherding his sheep than the earlier. Similarly, if you were to have two souls, you might have used one as a trial and then directed your second soul according to the trial of the first. However, you have only one soul. If it expires, the opportunity to repent will definitely expire, too. So, you must decide for yourselves. If one belonging to our community comes to you and invites you to an uprising, you must first of all consider the reason for which you would rise. Do not put forward the uprising of Zayd as your excuse! Verily, Zayd was knowledgeable and honest.

He did not call you to accept him as your leader; rather, he called you to revolt for the sake of attaining the pleasure of Muhammad’s Household (‘a). Had he succeeded (in his revolution), he would have certainly fulfilled his pledge and the slogan to which he had called you. However, he rose up against a well-fortified power trying to demolish it. Now, if anyone from our community revolts and invites you (to his revolution) raising the slogan of attaining the pleasure of Muhammad’s Household (‘a), we call you (all) to bear witness that we do not approve of such a person because he is disobeying us and none (of us) stands with him.

When (different) pennons and standards are raised, the followers must most worthily listen to us and obey only him whom all descendants of Fatimah (‘a) join. By Allah, the one to lead you (i.e. the promised Imam) is only the one whom all these descendants join unanimously. When (the month of) Rajab falls, you may gather in the Name of Allah. If you wish, you may postpone it to Sha’ban—there is no objection in this. If you even wish to spend the month of fasting with your families, this may be better for you. The advent of al-Sufyani will be a sufficient sign for you.21

Similar to this tradition, Shaykh al-Saduq, in his book ‘Ilal al-Shara'i’, has reported that al-’Ays ibn al-Qasim, through a valid chain of authority, heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying:

إتَّقُوا اللهَ وَانْظُرُوا لأَِنْفُسِكُمْ، فَإِنَّ أَحَقَّ مَنْ نَظَرَ لَهَا أَنْتُمْ. لَوْ كَانَ لأَِحَدِكُمْ نَفْسَانِ فَقَدَّمَ إِحْدَاهُمَا وَجَرَّبَ بِهَا، إسْتَقْبَلَ التَّوْبَةَ بِالأُخْرَى كَانَ، وَلَكِنَّهَا نَفْسٌ وَاحِدَةٌ إِذَا ذَهَبَتْ فَقَدْ وَاللهِ ذَهَبَتِ التَّوْبَةُ. إِنْ أَتَاكُمْ مِنَّا آتٍ لِيَدْعُوَكُمْ إِلَى الرِّضَا مِنَّا فَنَحْنُ نُشْهِدُكُمْ أَنَّا لاَ نَرْضَى. إِنَّهُ لاَ يُطِيعُنَا الْيَوْمَ وَهُوَ وَحْدَهُ. فَكَيْفَ يُطِيعُنَا إِذَا إرْتَفَعَتِ الرَّايَاتُ وَالأَعْلاَمُ؟

Fear Allah and decide for yourselves. Those worthiest to choose for you are youselves. If you were to have two souls, you might have used one as trial and used the other for repenting according to the result of the trial of the first. However, there is only one soul. If it expires, repentance will definitely expire, too. If one from us comes to you raising the slogan of attaining the pleasure of Muhammad’s Household (‘a), we now call you (all) to witness that we do not accept such a person because he has not obeyed us—he is alone; how then can he obey us when different pennons and standards will be raised?22

In conclusion, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) believed that the decision to participate in an armed struggle, be it for conquest23 or against an unjust ruling authority, must be centralized and under the direct personal authority of the Holy Imams (‘a). This is because such participation is related to the security of the virtuous community as a whole and might expose the interests and existence of the community to danger. In addition, such a decision must be very accurate for it may expose participants (in such armed rebellion or struggle) to religious, moral and mortal danger.

Al-Husayn ibn Khalid in a validly reported tradition has reported that he said to Imam al-Ridha (‘a), “May Allah accept me as ransom for you! There is a tradition reported by ‘Abdullah ibn Bukayr on the authority of ‘Ubayd ibn Zurarah.”

“What is it?” asked the Imam (‘a).

Al-Husayn said, “‘Ubayd ibn Zurarah has reported that he met Abu-’Abdullah (‘a) (Imam al-Sadiq) in the same year of the uprising of Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan and asked him, ‘May Allah accept me as ransom for you! This man has composed verses and is inciting people to join him. What is your instruction in this regard?’

The Imam (‘a) said:

إتَّقُوا اللهَ وَاسْكُنُوا مَا سَكَنَتِ السَّمَاءُ وَالأَرْضُ.

Fear Almighty Allah and do not make any move as long as the heavens and the earth are settling down.

“On receiving this instruction, ‘Abdullah ibn Bukayr said, ‘If ‘Ubayd ibn Zurarah is honest, there will be no advent of an Imam and no uprising!’”

Imam al-Ridha (‘a) explained:

إِنَّ الْحَدِيثَ عَلَى مَا رَوَاهُ عُبَيْدٌ، وَلَيْسَ عَلَى مَا تَأَوَّلَهُ عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ بُكَيْرٍ. إِنَّمَا عَنَى أَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، بِقَوْلِهِ "مَا سَكَنَتِ السَّمَاءُ" مِنَ النِّدَاءِ بِإسْمِ صَاحِبِكَ، وَ"مَا سَكَنَتِ الأَرْضُ" مِنَ الْخَسْفِ بِالْجَيْشِ.

The tradition is true, as exactly as what ‘Ubayd narrated, but its interpretation is not like what ‘Abdullah has understood. Abu-’Abdullah (‘a) meant that you may keep silent as long as the heavens had not yet released its call with the name of your companion (i.e. the promised Imam) and as long as the earth had not yet swallowed the army.24

Zarr ibn Hubaysh has reported that Imam ‘Ali, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), delivered a speech at al-Nahrawan (or during the Battle of al-Nahrawan) in which he said:

إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ إِذَا أَقْبَلَتْ شَبَّهَتْ.

Verily, when sedition comes (upon you), it will cause you to confuse (right with wrong).

The Imam (‘a) then referred to the coming seditions. When he finished, a man stood up and said, “O Commander of the Faithful, what should the people of that time do?”

The Imam (‘a) answered:

أُنْظُرٌوا إِلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِ نَبِيِّكُمْ، فَإِنْ لَبِدُوا فَالْبِدُوا، وَإِنِ إسْتَصْرَخُوكُمْ فَانْصُرُوهُمْ تُؤْجَرُوا، وَلاَ تَسْتَبِقُوهُمْ فَتَصْرَعُكُمُ الْبَلِيَّةُ.

You may observe the Household of your Prophet (S); if they hide, you should hide, but if they call for your aid, you must then support them that you may be rewarded. Never embark upon a deed before they order it; lest you will be knocked out by tribulations.

The Imam (‘a) then foretold the coming of relief at the advent of the Patron of the Matter (i.e. Imam al-Mahdi).25

In the aforementioned traditions, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) mentioned certain issues and instructed regarding how to take political positions towards these issues. Some oppositionists rebelled against ruling authorities and claimed Imamate or being the promised and expected Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), such as when people illusively thought that Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah (dhu’l-nafs al-zakiyyah) was the promised Imam. Therefore, the Holy Imams (‘a) explained that such claims were baseless and it was unacceptable to respond to them and that any banner (i.e. political movement) founded on such false claims would certainly represent false deities that were worshipped in the place of Almighty Allah.

Thus, all these traditions confirm absolute impermissibility to participate in such reformative actions made before the advent of the Rising Imam (the Mahdi) in addition to other traditions which emphasize the duty of waiting in anticipation of the advent of the Rising Imam because it is futile to rise up or revolt before that since all such revolutions will inevitably end up in failure.

Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) is reported to have said:

وِاللهِ، لاَ يَخْرُجُ أَحَدٌ مِنَّا قَبْلَ خُرُوجِ الْقَائِمِ إِلاَّ كَانَ مَثَلُهُ مَثَلَ فَرْخٍ طَارَ مِنْ وَكْرِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَسْتَوِيَ جَنَاحَاهُ، فَأَخَذَهُ الصِّبْيَانُ فَعَبَثُوا بِهِ.

By Allah I swear, any one of us who stages a revolution before the advent of the Rising Imam will most certainly be like a nestling that leaves its nest before its wings are grown-up enough to fly, so boys take it and play with it.26

Sadir has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) to have said to him:

يَا سَدِيرُ، إِلْزَمْ بَيْتَكَ، وَكُنْ حِلْساً مِنْ أَحْلاَسِهِ، وَاسْكُنْ مَا سَكَنَ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ، فَإِذَا بَلَغَكَ أَنَّ السُّفْيَانِيَّ قَدْ خَرَجَ فَارْحَلْ إِلَيْنَا وَلَوْ عَلَى رِجْلِكَ.

O Sadir, stick to your house, as if you are one of its rugs, and keep still as long as day and night keep still. If you are informed that al-Sufyani has risen, then you must come to us, even if you have to come on foot.27

According to an authentic tradition, Abu-Basir has reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying:

كُلُّ رَايَةٍ تُرْفَعُ قَبْلَ قِيَامِ الْقَائِمِ فَصَاحِبُهَا طَاغُوتٌ يُعْبَدُ مِنْ دُونِ اللهِ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.

As for every standard (i.e. political movement) that is raised before the advent of the Rising Imam, its bearer is (like) a deity that is worshipped in place of Almighty Allah.28

It is, however, necessary to understand these traditions in context with other traditions which have explained and clarified this matter along with details of the surrounding circumstances. In fact, some traditions have excepted certain political movements and even invoked Almighty Allah’s mercy upon their leaders, because they had not invited people to follow them as if they were an Imam—as an example the previously mentioned tradition of al-’Ays ibn al-Qasim about the movement of Zayd ibn ‘Ali.

Confirming and shedding light on this meaning, Shaykh al-Saduq, in his book of ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha, has reported the following narration on the authority of Ibn Abi-’Abdun on the authority of his father:

When Zayd ibn Musa ibn Ja’far revolted in Basrah and set the homes of the ‘Abbasids on fire, they took him to Ma'mun. Ma'mun forgave him on behalf of his brother ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha (‘a) and told the Imam, “If your brother has revolted and has done this and that, so also did Zayd ibn ‘Ali before him and was killed. If you did not have the rank before me that you now have, I would have killed him because what he has done is not negligible.”

Imam al-Ridha (‘a) said:

يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ، لا تَقِسْ أَخِي زَيْداً إِلَى زَيْدِ بْنِ عَلِيٍ‏ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنْ عُلَمَاءِ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ غَضِبَ لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَجَاهَدَ أَعْدَاءَهُ حَتَّى قُتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ وَلَقَدْ حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي مُوسَى بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ أَبَاهُ جَعْفَرَ بْنَ مُحَمَّدٍ يَقُولُ رَحِمَ اللَّهُ عَمِّي زَيْداً إِنَّهُ دَعَا إِلَى الرِّضَا مِنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَلَوْ ظَفِرَ لَوَفَى بِمَا دَعَا إِلَيْهِ، وَقَدِ اسْتَشَارَنِي فِي خُرُوجِهِ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ يَا عَمِّ إِنْ رَضِيتَ أَنْ تَكُونَ الْمَقْتُولَ الْمَصْلُوبَ بِالْكُنَاسَةِ فَشَأْنَكَ فَلَمَّا وَلَّى قَالَ جَعْفَرُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ وَيْلٌ لِمَنْ سَمِعَ وَاعِيَتُهُ فَلَمْ يُجِبْهُ.

O Commander of the Faithful, do not compare my brother with Zayd ibn ‘Ali. Zayd was one of the scholars from the Household of Muhammad (S) and he was angry for the sake of the Honorable and Exalted God. He fought with the enemies of God until he was killed following His path. My father Musa ibn Ja’far (‘a) narrated to me that he had heard his father Ja’far ibn Muhammad (‘a) saying, ‘May Allah have mercy upon my uncle Zayd. He invited the people to attain pleasure of Muhammad’s Household (‘a). He would have fulfilled what he said if he had become victorious. He consulted with me about his uprising and I told him, ‘O uncle, do it if you are pleased with being killed and your corpse being hung up from the gallows in the district of al-Kunnasah.’ After Zayd left, Imam al-Sadiq said, “Woe be to those who hear his call but do not help him!’

Then, Ma'mun asked, “O Abu’l-Hasan! Have there not been traditions blaming those who unrightfully claim to be the Divine Leaders (i.e. Imams)?”

Imam al-Ridha (‘a) answered:

إِنَّ زَيْدَ بْنَ عَلِيٍ‏ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ لَمْ يَدَّعِ مَا لَيْسَ لَهُ بِحَقٍّ وَإِنَّهُ كَانَ أَتْقَى لِلَّهِ مِنْ ذَاكَ إِنَّهُ قَالَ أَدْعُوكُمْ إِلَى الرِّضَا مِنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَإِنَّمَا جَاءَ مَا جَاءَ فِي مَنْ يَدَّعِي أَنَّ اللَّهَ نَصَّ عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ يَدْعُو إِلَى غَيْرِ دِينِ اللَّهِ وَيَضِلُّ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَكَانَ زَيْدٌ وَاللَّهِ مِمَّنْ خُوطِبَ بِهَذِهِ الآْيَةِ: وَجاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَباكُمْ…

Zayd did not make any such unrightful claims. He was too pious to do so. He invited the people to attain the pleasure of Muhammad’s Household (‘a). Those traditions are about the people who claim that Allah has appointed them as leaders by name and then invite the people to a religion other than Allah’s and mislead the people so as to cause them to stray off the way of Allah. I swear by Allah that Zayd was one of those addressed by the following verse: ‘Strive in His cause as you ought to strive. He has chosen you…’29

Evidently, this tradition indicates that condemnation of revolt by the Holy Imams (‘a) is meant for those who, when calling to revolt, claim Imamate or divinely commissioned leadership of the Muslim nation.

There are also other traditions admiring the revolutionary movement of Husayn ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Hasan al-Muthallath ibn al-Hasan al-Muthanna ibn al-Hasan (‘a) ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib (‘a), known as Sahib Fakhkh, whose martyrdom was predicted and praised by the Holy Prophet (S) as well as other Holy Imams, such as Imam al-Baqir (‘a), as is reported by Abu’l-Faraj al-Isfahani, in his book of Maqatil al-Talibiyyin.

According to the same reference book the allegiance to Sahib Fakhkh was as follows: “I swear allegiance to you that I will abide by Almighty Allah’s Book and His Messenger’s traditions (Sunnah), and that only Allah is to be obeyed and never disobeyed and I call on you to attain the pleasure of Muhammad’s Household (‘a).”

Moreover, the revolt of Sahib Fakhkh and Yahya ibn ‘Abdullah was preceded by a consultation with Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘a), as affirmed by the rebels themselves.

Abu’l-Faraj has also reported the following narration on the authority of a number of his trustworthy reporters:

When the ‘Abbasids were able to extinguish the revolution of Sahib Fakhkh, they beheaded him and his allies and brought their heads before Musa ibn ‘«sa, the ‘Abbasid senior authority. A group of the descendants of Imam Hasan (‘a) and Imam Husayn (‘a) witnessed the scene. Musa ibn ‘«sa addressed Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘a) saying, “This is the head of Husayn (i.e. Sahib Fakhkh), is it not?”

The Imam (‘a) answered:

نَعْمْ! إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ. مَضَى، وَاللهِ، مُسْلِماً صَالِحاً صَوَّاماً آمِراً بِالْمَعْرُوفِ نَاهِياً عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ. مَا كَانَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ مِثْلُهُ.

Yes, it is. We are Allah’s and unto Him shall we return. By Allah I swear, he has passed away as a Muslim: righteous, observant of much fasting, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. His like has not existed among the members of his household.

The ‘Abbasid ruler could not answer the Imam (‘a).30

Observance of Level of Toleration

The fourth measure adopted by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) to ensure the security of the virtuous community was the observance of the maximum degree of toleration and readiness to keep doctrinal secrets and details. In plain words, the Holy Imams (‘a) investigated the capability of each individual for keeping the secrets of the virtuous community, based on the reality that the individuals of this community were of various psychological and spiritual levels regarding their capability to stand burdens and pressures, abide by their covenants and pledges, keep secrets, comprehend the intellectual and doctrinal contents of such secrets, and exercise self-discipline. Accordingly, it is essential to deal with each individual in relation to his own potential.

Although all of the virtuous community are believers and share the same doctrine, commitments, general qualifications and are equal in rights and duties, it is important to consider the level of faith of each individual of the virtuous community concerning readiness to abide by their duties and responsibilities and deal with them cautiously and carefully, so as to maintain:

(i) a spirit of justice and impartiality by burdening individuals with only that which they can psychologically and spiritually bear,

(ii) firmness, progress and growth of relations among individuals, and

(iii) security of the virtuous community.

In many of their traditions and statements, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) stressed the necessity of following this policy.

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

ذُكِرَتِ التَّقِيَّةُ يَوْماً عِنْدَ عَلِيٍّ، عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، فَقَالَ: لَوْ عَلِمَ أَبُو ذَرٍّ مَا فِي قَلْبِ سَلْمَانَ لَقَتَلَهُ. وَقَدْ آخَى رَسُولُ اللهِ، صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ، بَيْنَهُمَا، فَمَا ظَنُّكَ بِسَائِرِ الْخَلْقِ؟

One day, the issue of taqiyyah was discussed before Imam ‘Ali (‘a). He thus commented, “Had Abu-Dharr known what was in Salman’s heart, he would have killed him, although the Messenger of Allah (S) had concluded bonds of fraternity between these two. What do you think about (the situation of) other people?31

Expounding the doctrinal aspect of this fact in the personalities of his companions, Imam al-Baqir (‘a), according to an authentic tradition reported from Abu-’Ubaydah al-Hadhdha' said:

وَاللهِ، إِنَّ أَحَبَّ أَصْحَابِي إِلَيَّ أَوْرَعُهُمْ وَأَفْقَهُهُمْ وَأَكْتَمُهُمْ لِحَدِيثِنَا. وَإِنَّ أَسْوَأَهُمْ عِنْدِي حَالاً وَأَمْقَتَهُمْ لَلَّذِي إِذَا سَمِعَ الْحَدِيثَ يُنْسَبُ إِلَيْنَا وَيُرْوَى عَنَّا فَلَمْ يَقْبَلْهُ، إشْمَأَزَّ فِيهِ وَجَحَدَهُ وَكَفَّرَ مَنْ دَانَ بِهِ، وَهُوَ لاَ يَدْرِي لَعَلَّ الْحَدِيثَ مِنْ عِنْدِنَا خَرَجَ وَإِلَيْنَا أُسْنِدَ. فَيَكُونُ بِذَلِكَ خَارِجاً عَنْ وِلاَيَتِنَا.

By Allah (I swear), the dearest to me among my companions are the most abstinent (from prohibitions of Almighty Allah), the most skilled in jurisprudence (or knowledge in general), and the most observant of concealing our secrets. The most evil of them and the most despised by me are those who, when hearing a tradition ascribed to us and reported from us fail to approve of it, are disgusted by it and deny it and deem faithless those who believe it, even though they are not actually sure whether this tradition has been said by and reported from us. Such persons leave the circle of loyalty to us.32

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have also confirmed that faithful believers are of various ranks and levels and, according to these ranks, they differ from one another in capability and power to bear doctrinal issues. According to a validly reported tradition, Sadir has reported that Imam al-Baqir (‘a) addressed him as follows:

إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى مَنَازِلَ؛ مِنْهُمْ عَلَى وَاحِدَةٍ وَمِنْهُمْ عَلَى إثْنَتَيْنِ وَمِنْهُمْ عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَمِنْهُمْ عَلَى أَرْبَعٍ وَمِنْهُمْ عَلَى خَمْسٍ وَمِنْهُمْ عَلَى سِتٍّ وَمِنْهُمْ عَلَى سَبْعٍ. فَلَوْ ذَهَبْتَ تَحْمِلُ عَلَى صَاحِبِ الْوَاحِدَةِ ثِنْتَيْنِ لَمْ يَقْوَ، وَعَلَى صَاحِبِ الثِّنْتَيْنِ ثَلاَثاً لَمْ يَقْوَ، وَعَلَى صَاحِبِ الثَّلاَثِ أَرْبَعاً لَمْ يَقْوَ، وَعَلَى صَاحِبِ الأَرْبَعِ خَمْساً لَمْ يَقْوَ، وَعَلَى صَاحِبِ الْخَمْسِ سِتّاً لَمْ يَقْوَ، وَعَلَى صَاحِبِ السِّتِّ سَبْعاً لَمْ يَقْوَ، وَعَلَى هَذِهِ الدَّرَجَاتِ.

Verily, faithful believers are of various ranks. Some of them hold one rank only, others two ranks, some three ranks, some four ranks, some five ranks, some six ranks, and some seven ranks. If you impose (an act that cannot be done except by those who hold) two ranks upon one who has one rank only, he will certainly fail to undertake it, and if you impose three ranks upon one who has two only, he will fail to undertake it, and if you impose four ranks upon one who has three only, he will fail to undertake it, and if you impose five ranks upon one who has four only, he will fail to undertake it, and if you impose six ranks upon one who has five only, he will fail to undertake it, and if you impose seven ranks upon one who has six only, he will fail to undertake it. So also for other ranks of faith.33

Furthermore, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) shed light on the specifications and qualifications by which the ranks of faithful believers can be realized and which can be adopted as criterion for the capability to endure doctrinal issues and be trustworthy. It has been narrated on the authority of ‘Ammar ibn al-Ahwas that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said:

إِنَّ اللهَ تَعَالَى وَضَعَ الإِيمَانَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَسْهُمٍ: عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالصِّدْقِ وَالْيَقِينِ وَالرِّضَا وَالْوَفَاءِ وَالْعِلْمِ وَالْحِلْمِ. ثُمَّ قَسَّمَ ذَلِكَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ. فَمَنْ جُعِلَ فِيهِ هَذِهِ السَّبْعَةُ الأَسْهُمِ فَهُوَ كَامِلٌ مُحْتَمِلٌ. وَقَسَّمَ لِبَعْضِ النَّاسِ السَّهْمَ، وَلِبَعْضٍ السَّهْمَيْنِ، وَلِبَعْضٍ الثَّلاَثَةَ حَتَّى إنْتَهَوْا إِلَى سَبْعَةٍ. لاَ تَحْمِلُوا عَلَى صَاحِبِ السَّهْمِ سَهْمَيْنِ، وَعَلَى صَاحِبِ السَّهْمَيْنِ ثَلاَثَةً فَتَبْهَظُوهُمْ. كَذَلِكَ حَتَّى يَنْتَهِيَ إِلَى سَبْعَةٍ.

Verily, Almighty Allah has allocated faith in seven portions: piety, honesty, certitude, satisfaction, loyalty, knowledge, and forbearance, and He distributes these among people. He who gains all seven portions completely is definitely perfect (in faith) and capable (of carrying all seven portions). Allah grants some people one portion, two portions, and three portions up to seven. Do not impose two portions of faith upon him who has been granted one portion only nor three portions upon him who has been granted two portions only and so on up to seven portions, lest you overburden them.34

According to another tradition, the Imam instructs his companions to investigate and differentiate those who claim Shi’ism.

It has been narrated that one of Imam al-Sadiq’s companions visited him and said, “May Allah accept me as ransom for you! By Allah, I love you and love whoever loves you. Master, how numerous your Shi’ah are!”

The Imam (‘a) asked, “Can you mention how numerous they are?”

“They are many,” answered the man.

“Can you count them?” asked the Imam (‘a).

“They are too many to be counted,” answered the man.

The Imam (‘a) then said:

أَمَا لَوْ كَمُلَتِ الْعِدَّةُ الْمَوْصُوفَةُ، ثَلاَثُمِائَةٍ وَبِضْعَةَ عَشَرَ، كَانَ الَّذِي تُرِيدُونَ. وَلَكِنَّ شِيعَتَنَا مَنْ لاَ يَعْدُو صَوْتُهُ سَمْعَهُ، وَلاَ شَحْنَاؤُهُ بَدَنَهُ، وَلاَ يَمْدَحُ لَنَا غَالِياً، وَلاَ يُخَاصِمُ لَنَا وَالِياً، وَلاَ يُجَالِسُ لَنَا عَائِباً، وَلاَ يُحَدِّثُ لَنَا ثَالِباً، وَلاَ يُحِبُّ لَنَا مُبْغِضاً، وَلاَ يُبْغِضُ لَنَا مُحِبّاً.

Verily, if the predicted number is achieved, which is a few more than three hundred men, the matter that you desire will definitely come to pass. However, our true Shi’ah are only those whose voices do not exceed their ability to hear (i.e., those who do not talk very loudly) and whose enmity does not exceed their bodies (i.e., those who suffer themselves but do not make others suffer or impose on them). They neither praise us exaggeratively, nor quarrel with our loyalists, nor sit with one who criticizes us, nor love one who hates us, nor hates one who loves us.

The man asked, “What should we then do with so many Shi’ah who claim that they follow the faith of Shi’ism?”

The Imam (‘a) answered:

فِيهِمُ التَّمْيِيزُ، وَفِيهِمُ التَّمْحِيصُ، وَفِيهِمُ التَّبْدِيلُ...

May they be separated (the good from the bad) and distinguished and transformed.35

  • 1. - This topic has been previously discussed with some details. It is also discussed in our book entitled ‘al-wihdah al-islamiyyah min manzur al-thaqalayn (Islamic Unity from the Perspective of the Two Weighty Things—i.e. the Holy Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt)’, pp. 140-144 & 159-162.
  • 2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 5:381, H. 4.
  • 3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 12:7, H. 6 (Ed. Al al-Bayt Foundation).
  • 4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:399, H. 3.
  • 5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:400, H. 8.
  • 6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 8:399 H. 2. More details of this topic will be cited in the sixth book of this series, which deals with the relationships of the virtuous community.
  • 7. - Previous discussion has been made regarding this topic along with some traditions supporting the idea.
  • 8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:457, H. 26.
  • 9. - A hadith is classified as hasan when it is reported by an Imami-Shi’ite reporter whose faith has been praised in such a manner that is acceptable by rational people although none has decided him as trustworthy or as faithless or deviant.
  • 10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:446-447, H. 1.
  • 11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:449, H. 1.
  • 12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:449, H. 1.
  • 13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:450, H. 3; Shaykh al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi, 2:213, H. 2.
  • 14. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:450, H. 4.
  • 15. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:448, H. 5.
  • 16. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:450-451, H. 6.
  • 17. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:447-448, H. 4.
  • 18. - In a coming discussion, we will discuss in detail the promulgational aspect of this topic.
  • 19. - Musawwidah (the black-dressed revolutionaries) indicates the rebels who mutinied against the Umayyad dynasty before the ‘Abbasids came to power, calling for the rulership of ‘Abbasids such as Abu-Muslim al-Khurasani.
  • 20. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:37-38, H. 8.
    The Imam (‘a) intends to say that the Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) who would ‘undertake the matter’ would come after the killing of al-Sufyani (one from the descendants of Sufyan), and this had not yet happened. Therefore, the promised Imam was not Imam al-Sadiq (‘a).
  • 21. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah, 11:35-36, H. 1.
  • 22. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:38, H. 10.
  • 23. - According to a tradition that is validly reported from Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), ‘Abbad al-Basri met Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) on his way to Makkah and said, “O ‘Ali, you have abandoned jihad and escaped its difficulty and come to Hajj and its easiness. Almighty Allah says, “Surely, Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property so that they shall have Paradise. They fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain. This is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. And who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge, which you have made, and that is the mighty achievement. (9:111)”
    Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) commented, “You may recite what comes next.”
    So, the man recited, “They who turn to Allah, who serve Him, who praise Him, who fast, who bow down, who prostrate themselves, who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and who keep the limits of Allah. Give good news to the believers. (9:112)”
    The Imam thus commented, “If we find persons demonstrating these characteristics, we will definitely leave Hajj and perform jihad with them.”
    Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 12:32-33, H. 3. You may also refer to H. 1 & 2 of the same page.
  • 24. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:39-40, H. 14 (in the margin).
  • 25. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:41, H. 17.
  • 26. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:36, H. 2.
  • 27. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:37, H. 3.
  • 28. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:37, H. 6.
  • 29. - Shaykh al-Saduq, ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha 2:225-226, H. 1. (The translation of this tradition is quoted from Dr. ‘Ali Peiravi’s translation of ‘Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha; published by Ansariyan Publications – 2006.)
  • 30. - Refer to Al-Mamuqani, Tanqih al-Maqal 1:337, biography of al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (Sahib Fakhkh).
    In this reference book, the author displays all the narrations reported on this matter and then compares them with each other, concluding the same results that we have cited earlier.
  • 31. - Ikhtiyar Ma’rifat al-Rijal (known as Rijal al-Kashshi), 1:70.
  • 32. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:223, H. 7.
  • 33. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, 2:45, H. 3.
  • 34. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, 2:42, H.1.
    Imposition of two portions of faith upon one who has been granted one portion only, means to charge a person that has a specific amount of faith with an act that cannot be done except by one who enjoys much more faith. A person of less faith would be incapable of undertaking the task.
  • 35. - Abu-Zaynab al-Nu’mani, Kitab al-Ghaybah pp. 203-204; ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 68:164-165, H. 16.