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The Rigid Group

The Rigid Group

 In opposition to the supposed intellectuals who claim that good deeds are accepted by God from all people in all situations are the “rigid pious ones”; their position is directly opposite to the former group.  They say that it is impossible for a non-Muslim’s actions to be accepted.  The actions of unbelievers and similarly those of non-ShÄ«`a Muslims have absolutely no value.  The non-Muslim and non-ShÄ«`a Muslim himself is rejected and rebuffed; his actions are even more worthy of being rejected.  This group also brings two proofs: rational and narrated.

  actions of non-Muslims and non-ShÄ«`a Muslims are to be accepted by God, what is the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims?  The difference between them should be either for the good deeds of Muslims and ShÄ«`as to be accepted to the exclusion of non-Muslims and non-ShÄ«`a Muslims, or for the evil deeds of Muslims and ShÄ«`as not to be punished, again to the exclusion of non-Muslims and non-ShÄ«`a Muslims.  But if we suppose that the good deeds of both groups entail reward and the evil deeds of both groups lead to punishment, what difference will there be between them?  And what is the effect of being Muslim or ShÄ«`a in such a case?  The equality of Muslims and non-Muslims, and similarly ShÄ«`as and non-ShÄ«`as, in accounting for their actions means that in essence practicing Islām or ShÄ«`aism is unnecessary and without effect.

 Narrated proof: In addition to the above reasoning, this group also argues from two Qur’ānic verses and several traditions.

In a few verses of the Qur’ān, it has been clearly stated that the actions of unbelievers are not accepted; similarly, in many traditions it has been said that the actions of non-ShÄ«`as – that is, those who do not have the wilāyah (Divinely-ordained guardianship) of the Ahlul Bait (as) – are not accepted.

 In SÅ«rat IbrāhÄ«m, God compares the actions of unbelievers to ashes which are scattered by a strong wind and lost:

  Ù…َثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ أَعْمٌالُهُمْ كَرَمٌادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عٌاصِفٍ لاَّ يَقْدِرُونَ مِمٌّا كَسَبُوا عَلَى شَيْءٍ ذٌلِكَ هُوَ الضَّلاَلُ الْبَعِيدُ

 “A parable of those who defy their Lord: their deeds are like ashes over which the wind blows hard on a tempestuous day: they have no power over anything they have earned.  That is extreme error.”[40]

 In a verse of SÅ«ratul NÅ«r, the actions of unbelievers have been likened to a mirage which appears to be water but upon being approached, turns out to be nothing.

This verse says that great deeds that give people pause and, in the view of some simpleminded people, are greater than the services of even the Prophets are all null and void if they are not coupled with belief in God.  Their greatness is nothing but a fancy, like a mirage.  The words of the verse are as below:

  ÙˆÙŽØ§Ù„َّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَعْمٌالُهُمْ كَسَرٌابٍ بَقِيعَةٍ يَحْسَبُهُ الظَّمْآنُ مٌاءٍ حَتَّى إِذٌا جٌاءَهُ لَمْ يَجِدْهُ شَيْئًا وَوَجَدَ اللٌّهَ عِندَهُ فَوَفٌّاهُ حِسٌابَهُ وَاللٌّهُ سَرِيعُ الْحِسٌابِ

 “As for the faithless, their works are like a mirage in a plain, which the thirsty man supposes to be water.  When he comes to it, he finds it to be nothing; but there he finds God, who will pay him his full account, and God is swift at reckoning.”[41]

 This is the parable of the good deeds of unbelievers, which appear outwardly to be good.  So woe upon their evil deeds!  We read their parable in the following verse in these words:

  Ø£ÙŽÙˆÙ’ كَظُلُمٌاتٍ فِي بَحْرٍ لُّجِّيٍّ يَغْشٌاهُ مَوْجٌ مِّنْ فَوْقِهِ مَوْجٌ مِّنْ فَوْقِهِ سَحٌابٌ ظُلُمٌاتٌ بَعْضُهٌا فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ إِذٌا أَخْرَجَ يَدَهُ لَمْ يَكَدْ يَرٌاهَا وَمَنْ لَّمْ يَجْعَلِ اللٌّهُ لَهُ نُوراً فَمٌا لَهُ مِنْ نُّورٍ

 “Or like the manifold darkness in a deep sea, covered by billow upon billow, overcast by clouds, manifold [layers of] darkness, one on the top of another: when he brings out his hand, he can hardly see it, and one whom God has not granted any light has no light.”[42]

 By adding this verse to the previous verse, we deduce that the good deeds of unbelievers, with all their deceptive appearances, are a mirage that lacks reality.  And as for their evil deeds, alas! They are evil above evil, darkness upon darkness!

The above verses clarify the status of the deeds of unbelievers.

 As for non-ShÄ«`a Muslims, from the point of view of us ShÄ«`as, the traditions that have reached us from the Ahlul BaÄ«t (as) clarify their position.

 Many traditions have reached us on this topic.  Those interested can refer to al-KāfÄ«, Volume 1, “Kitāb al-Ĥujjah,” and Volume 2, “Kitāb al-Īmān wa ‘l-Kufr”; Wasā’ilush ShÄ«`a, Volume 1, “Abwāb Muqaddamāt al-`Ibādāt”; Mustadrakul Wasā’il, Volume 1, “Abwāb Muqaddamāt al-`Ibādāt”; Bihārul Anwār, “Discussions about Resurrection,” Chapter 17 (Chapter on the Promise, Threat, Invalidation of Actions, and Atonement), and Volume 7 of the old print, Chapter 227, and Volume 15 of the old print, section on ethics, Page 187.  As an example, we relate one tradition from Wasā’ilush ShÄ«`a:

 Muhammad Ibn Muslim  said, “I heard Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir (as) say, “Whoever worships God and tires himself in worship but doesn’t recognize the Imām (leader) God has appointed for him, his deeds are not accepted, and he himself is astray and lost, and God abhors his actions… and if he dies in this state, he dies not in the state of Islām, but in a state of unbelief and hypocrisy.  O Muhammad Ibn Muslim, know that the leaders of oppression and their followers are outside the religion of God.  They themselves went astray, and they led others astray.  Their actions are like ashes which are caught in a strong wind on a stormy day, and they cannot reach anything out of what they have earned.  That is the distant deviation.”[43]

 These are the proofs of those who say that the basis of salvation is faith and belief.

Occasionally, some from this group go to extremes and consider simply the claim of having faith, or in reality a simple affiliation, to be the criterion of Judgement.  For example, the MurjÄ«`Ä« sect in the era of BanÄ«Å«Umayyah propagated this idea, and fortunately, with the decline of BanÄ« Umayyah, they also ceased to exist.  In that age, the ShÄ«`a position, inspired by the Imāms from the Ahlul BaÄ«t (as), was opposite to the MurjÄ«` one, but unfortunately the MurjÄ«`Ä«s’ view has lately taken hold in new clothing among some of the common ShÄ«`as. 

 Some simpleminded ShÄ«`as consider mere apparent affiliation with AmÄ«rul Mo’minÄ«n `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) to be sufficient for salvation, and this idea is the basic factor behind the ShÄ«`as’ poor state in the modern era.  The dervishes and Sufis of the recent era malign good deeds in a different way and under a different pretext; they have made the issue of goodness of heart a pretext, even though true goodness of heart encourages and affirms deeds rather than conflicting with them.

 As opposed to these groups, there are others who have raised the value of deeds to such a point that they say that one who commits a major sin is an unbeliever.  Such a belief was held by the Khārijites.  Some theologians considered the committer of major sins to be neither a believer nor unbeliever, and held that there is a “state between the two states (of belief and unbelief).”

 Our task is to see which of these positions is correct.  Should we believe in the primacy of belief or the primacy of action?  Or is there a third path?

To begin, let us discuss the value of belief and faith.

 

Notes:

[31] Of course, this does not mean that all things have the same relation to God and deserve the same treatment.  The relation of things to God is not the same, but the relation of God to things is the same.  God is equally close to all things, but things are different in their closeness and distance from God.  There is an interesting sentence in Du`ā al-Iftitāh in this regard:

 Ø£ÙŽÙ„َّذِي بَعُدَ فَلاٌ يُرى، وَقَرُبَ فَشَهِدَ النَّجْوى


In this sentence, God has been described thus: “Who is distant and thus cannot be seen, and Who is near and thus witnesses all conversations.”

 In fact, it is we who are far from Him, while He is close to us.  This is an enigma; how is it possible for two things to have a different relation with each other in terms of closeness and distance?  But yes, such is the case here; God is close to things, but things are not close to God – that is, they have varying states of closeness and distance.

 The interesting point in this sentence is that when it describes God as being “far,” it mentions an attribute of His creations as evidence, which is the attribute of sight: “None can see Him.” And when it describes God as being “near,” it mentions an attribute of God as evidence, which is the attribute of Divine presence and awareness.  When speaking of our state, we use the attribute of “distance” for God, and when speaking of His state, we use the attribute of “closeness.” Sa`dÄ« says:

 ÙŠØ§Ø± نزدیکتر از من به من استو این عجبتر Ú©Ù‡ من از ÙˆÛŒ دورمچه کنم با Ú©Ù‡ توان گفت Ú©Ù‡ دوستدر کنار من Ùˆ من مهجورم“

 He is a Friend closer to me than myself, and amazing it is that I am far from Him.  What to do; who can I tell that the Friend is by my side, and I am forsaken!”

[32] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Baqarah (2), Verses 80-82

[33] Al-Qur'ān, Sūrat Āli Imrān (3), Verses 24-25

[34] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Baqarah (2), Verses 111-112

[35] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Nisā (4), Verses 123-124

[36] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Zilzāl (99), Verses 7-8

[37] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Tawbah (9), Verse 120

[38] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Kahf (18), Verse 30

[39] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Mā'idah (5), Verse 69

[40] Al-Qur'ān, Sūrat Ibrāhīm (14), Verse 18

[41] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Nūr (24), Verse 30

[42] Al-Qur'ān Sūratul Nūr (24), Verse 40

[43] Wasā'ilush Shī`a, Volume 1, Part 1, Page 90

 

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