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1. The General Aspect of the Discussion

1.  The General Aspect of the Discussion

 The purpose of this discussion is not to clarify the status of individuals, for example to specify whether Pasteur will go to Heaven or Hell.  What do we know about his true thoughts and beliefs?  What were his true intentions?  What were his personal and moral traits; and in fact what was the sum of all his actions?  Our familiarity with him is limited to his intellectual services, and that is all.

 This doesn’t apply only to Pasteur.  As a matter of principle, the status of individuals is in the hands of God; no one has the right to express an opinion with certainty about whether someone will go to Heaven or Hell.  If we were to be asked, “Is Shaykh Murtadhā al-AnŝārÄ« , in view of his known asceticism, piety, faith, and deeds, definitely among the inhabitants of Heaven?”

 Our answer would be, “From what we know of the man, in his intellectual and practical affairs we haven’t heard of anything bad.  What we know of him is virtue and goodness.  But as to say with absolute certainty whether he will go to Heaven or Hell, that isn’t our prerogative.  It is God who knows the intentions of all people, and He knows the secrets and hidden things of all souls; and the account of all people’s actions is also with Him.  We can only speak with certainty about those whose final outcome has been made known by the religious authorities.”

 Sometimes people discuss and debate amongst themselves about who was the most virtuous and excellent among the `Ulamā (scholars) in terms of nearness to God.  For example, was it Sayyid Ibn ŤāwÅ«s , or Sayyid Bahrul `UlÅ«m ?  Or Shaykh al-AnŝārÄ« ?  Or sometimes they ask about the most eminent among the descendents of the A’immah.  For example, is Sayyid `Abdul `AdhÄ«m al-HasanÄ«Ä« (as) is superior in God’s view, or Sayyidah Fāťimah al-Ma`ŝūmah (as)?

 Once, one of the Mujtahids was asked whether `Abbās Ibn `AlÄ« (as) was superior or `AlÄ« al-Akbar (as).  In order to give the question the form of a practical issue so the Mujtahid would be compelled to answer it, they asked, “If someone vows to sacrifice a sheep for the most superior of the Imāms’ descendents, what is his duty?  Is `Abbās Ibn `AlÄ« superior, or `AlÄ« al-Akbar?”

 It is obvious that such discussions are improper, and answering such questions is neither the duty of a FaqÄ«h (scholar of Islāmic law), nor of anyone else.  Specifying the rank of God’s creation is not our responsibility.  It should be left to God, and no one has any knowledge about the matter except through God himself.

 In the early era of Islām, there were instances when people expressed such unjustified opinions, and the Prophet Muhammad (S) forbade them from doing so.

 When `Uthmān Ibn Ma`zÅ«n  died, a woman of the Anŝār named Umme `AlÄ«, who apparently was the wife of the man in whose house `Uthmān Ibn Ma`zÅ«n  was staying and whose guest he was, addressed his bier in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and said:

 Ù‡ÙŽÙ†ÙÙŠØ¦Ø§Ù‹ Ù„ÙŽÙƒÙŽ الْجَنَّةُ

 “May Heaven be pleasant for you!”

 Although `Uthmān Ibn Ma`zÅ«n  was an eminent man, and the Prophet Muhammad (S) cried heavily at his funeral and threw himself over the bier and kissed him, the inappropriate statement of that woman displeased him.  He turned to her and with an unhappy look said, “How did you know?  Why did you make a statement out of ignorance?  Have you received a revelation, or do you know the accounts of God’s creation?” The woman replied, “O Messenger of God, he was your companion and a brave warrior!”  The Noble Messenger (S) answered her with interesting words that are worthy of attention, he said:

 Ø¥ÙÙ†ÙÙ‘ÙŠ رَسُولُ اللٌّهِ وَمَا أَدْرِي مَا يُفْعَلُ بِــي

 “I am the Messenger of God, yet I don’t know what will be done with me.”[24]

This sentence is the exact purport of a verse of the Qur’ān:

  Ù‚ُلْ مٌـا كُنْتُ بِدْعاً مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ ÙˆÙŽ مٌا أَدْرِي مٌا يُفْعَلُ بِي ÙˆÙŽ لاٌ بِكُمْ

 “Say, ‘I am not a novelty among the apostles, nor do I know what will be done with me, or with you.”[25] [26]

 A similar incident has also been related regarding the death of Sa`d Ibn Mu`ādh. In that instance, when the mother of Sa`d said a similar sentence over his coffin, the Messenger (S) said to her, “Be silent; don’t make a decision with certainty in God’s affairs.”[27]

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