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The Sins of Muslims

Part 5 

The Sins of Muslims

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 As for the sins of Muslims, this issue has the exact opposite form of first issue (the good deeds of non-Muslims) and is the completion of the previous discussion.  The issue is whether the sins committed by Muslims are similar to the sins of non-Muslims with regard to punishment or not.

 Broaching the previous issue was necessary from the aspect of its being a matter of intellectual belief; but broaching this issue is a practical necessity, because one of the factors in the fall and ruin of Muslim societies in the present age is the undue pride which in the latter days has come into being in many Muslims, and also in many ShÄ«`as.

If these individuals are asked whether the good deeds of non-ShÄ«`as are acceptable to God, many of them answer, “No.” And if they are asked what ruling the evil deeds and sins of ShÄ«`as have, they answer, “They are all forgiven.”

 From these two sentences, it is deduced that actions have no value; they have neither positive nor negative value.  The necessary and sufficient condition for felicity and salvation is for a person to name him or herself ShÄ«`a, and that’s it.

 Normally, this group argues as follows:

First, if our sins and those of others are to be accounted for in the same way, what difference is there between Shī`as and non-Shī`as?

Second, there is a well-known tradition:

 Ø­ÙØ¨Ù‘ُ عَلِيٍّ بْنِ أَبِي طٌالِبٍ حَسَنَةٌ لاٌ تَضُرُّ مَعَهٌا سَيِّئَةٌ

 “Love of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib is a good deed with which no evil deed can bring harm.”

 In answer to the first argument, it must be said that the difference between ShÄ«`as and non-ShÄ«`as becomes apparent when a ShÄ«`a acts on the program his or her leaders have given him or her and the non-ShÄ«`a also acts on the teachings of his or her own religion.  In such a case, the precedence of the ShÄ«`a, both in this world and in the other, will become clear.  That is, the difference should be sought in the positive side, not the negative side.  We shouldn’t say that if the ShÄ«`a and non-ShÄ«`a put the teachings of their religion under their feet, there must be some difference between them – and if there is no difference in that case, then what difference is there between ShÄ«`as and non-ShÄ«`as?

 This is exactly as if two patients were to refer to a doctor, one referring to an expert doctor and the other to a doctor with less expertise, but when they receive the doctor’s prescription, neither of them acts in accordance with it.  Then the first patient complains, saying, “What difference is there between me and the patient who referred to the non-expert doctor?  Why should I remain sick like him, even though I referred to an expert doctor and he referred to a non-expert doctor?”

 Just as in the example of the two patients, it is not correct for us to differentiate between `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) and others by saying that if we don’t act according to his commands, we will see no harm, but for them, whether they act according to the words of their leader or not, they will be in loss.

 One of the companions of Imām Ja`far Ibn Muhammad as-Ŝādiq (as) said to the Imām: “Some of your ShÄ«`as have gone astray and consider forbidden actions to be permissible, saying that religion is recognition of the Imām and no more; thus, once you have recognized the Imām, you may do whatever you want.” Imām as-Ŝādiq (as) said:

“Verily we belong to God and to Him shall we return.  These unbelievers have interpreted that which they don’t know according to their own ideas.”

The proper statement is, “Acquire recognition [of the Imām] and do whatever good deeds you want, and they will be accepted of you, for God does not accept actions without recognition.”[94]

 Muhammad Ibn Mārid  asked Imām Ja`far Ibn Muhammad as-Ŝādiq (as): “Is it true that you have said, ‘Once you have recognized (the Imām), do what you please’?” The Imām (as) replied, “Yes, that is correct.” He said, “Any action, even adultery, theft, or drinking wine?!” The Imām (as) replied: “Verily we belong to God and to Him shall we return.  I swear by God, they have wronged us.  We [the Imāms] ourselves are responsible for our actions; how can responsibility be lifted from our ShÄ«`as?  What I said is that once you have recognized the Imām, do what you wish of good deeds, for they will be accepted from you.”[95]

 As for the tradition that says:

 Ø­ÙØ¨Ù‘ُ عَلِيٍّ بْنِ أَبِي طٌالِبٍ حَسَنَةٌ لاٌ تَضُرُّ مَعَهٌا سَيِّئَةٌ

 “Love of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) is a good deed with which no evil deed will cause harm,”

 we must see what its interpretation is.  One of the eminent scholars – I think it was WahÄ«d BihbahānÄ«  – has interpreted this tradition in a noteworthy way.  He says that the meaning of the tradition is that if one’s love of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) is true, no sin will bring harm to a person.  That is, if one’s love of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) – who is the perfect example of humanity, obedience, servitude, and ethics – is sincere and not out of self-centeredness, it will prevent the committing of sins; it is like a vaccine that brings immunity and keeps sickness away from the vaccinated person. 

 Love of a leader like `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as), who is the personification of good deeds and piety, causes one to love `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib’s character; it chases the thought of sin from one’s mind, with the condition, of course, that one’s love be true.  It is impossible for one who recognizes `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) – his piety, his tearful prayers, his supplications in the heart of the night – and one who loves such a person, to act in opposition to his command, he who always commanded others to be pious and do good deeds.  Every lover shows respect to the wishes of his or her beloved and respects his or her command.  Obedience to the beloved is a necessary result of true love; thus it is not exclusive to `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as); true love of the Prophet Muhammad (S) is the same way.  Thus, the meaning of the tradition:

 Ø­ÙØ¨Ù‘ُ عَلِيٍّ بْنِ أَبِي طٌالِبٍ حَسَنَةٌ لاٌ تَضُرُّ مَعَهٌا سَيِّئَةٌ

 “Love of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) is a good deed with which no evil deed can cause harm”

 is that love of `AlÄ« (as) is a good deed that prevents evil deeds from bringing harm; that is, it prevents their occurrence.  It doesn’t indicate the meaning that the ignorant have understood, which is that love of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) is something alongside of which any sin you may commit will not have an effect.

 Some dervishes on the one hand claim to love God and on the other hand are more sinful than all other sinners; these, too are false claimants.

Imām Ja`far Ibn Muhammad as-Ŝādiq (as) said:

 ØªÙØ¹Ù’صِي الإِلٌهَ وَأَنْتَ تُظْهِرُ حُبَّهُ
 Ù‡ÙŒØ°ÙŽØ§ لِعَمْرِي فِي الْفِعٌالِ بَدِيعٌ
 
لَوْ كٌانَ حُبُّكَ صٌادِقاً لَأَطَعْتَهُ
 Ø¥ÙÙ†Ù‘ÙŽ الْمُحِبَّ لِمَنْ يُحِبُّ مُطِيعٌ
 

 

You disobey God while claiming to love Him,

This by my life is an incredible deed.

If your love were true, you would obey Him;

Verily the lover shows obedience to the beloved.

 The true friends of AmÄ«rul Mo’minÄ«n `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) would always abstain from sins; his patronage (wilāyah) would protect from sin, not encourage it.

Imām Muhammad Ibn `Alī al-Bāqir (as) said:

 Ù…ٌا تَنٌالُ وِلاٌيَتُنٌا إِلاَّ بِالْعَمَلِ وَالْوَرَعِ.

 “Our patronage is not attained except through deeds and piety.”[96]

 Now, some traditions in support of this point:

 1.  ŤāwÅ«s al-YamānÄ«  says: “I saw `AlÄ« ibnil Ĥusain (as) perform the circumambulation the House of God and busying himself in worship from the time of `Ishā prayers until the last part of the night.  When he found himself alone, he looked toward the sky and said, “O God! The stars have disappeared in the horizon and the eyes of the people have slept, and Your gates are open to those who seek…”

ŤāwÅ«s  narrated many sentences in this regard from the humble and worshipful supplications of the Imām (as) and has said {in regards to the Imām(as)}: “Numerous times in the course of his supplication, he wept.”  He (ŤāwÅ«s) then said:

“Then he (the Imām) fell to the earth and prostrated on the ground.  I approached and, putting his head on my knees, wept.  My tears flowed and fell on his face.  He rose, sat, and said: “Who has busied me from the remembrance of my Lord?” I said: “I am ŤāwÅ«s, O son of the Messenger of God.  What is this agitation and disquiet?  We, who are sinners and full of shortcomings, should do thus.  Your father is Ĥusain Ibn `AlÄ«Ä«, your mother is Fāťimah Zahrā, and your grandfather is the Messenger of God (S) – that is, with such a noble ancestry and lofty link, why are you in discomfort and fear?”   He looked to me and said:

 Ù‡ÙŽÙŠÙ’هٌاتَ هَيْهٌاتَ يٌا طٌاوُوسُ دَعْ عَنِّـي حَدِيثَ أَبِي وَأُمِّي وَجَدِّي، خَلَقَ اللٌّهُ الْجَنَّةَ لِمَنْ أَطٌاعَهُ وَأَحْسَنَ وَلَوْ كٌانَ عَبْداً حَبَشِيًّا، وَخَلَقَ النٌّارَ لِمَنْ عَصٌاهُ وَلَوْ كٌانَ وَلَداً قُرَشِيًّا.  أَمٌّا سَمِعْتَ قَوْلَ تَعٌالـى:  فَإِذٌا نُفْخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَلاٌ أَنْسٌابَ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَلاٌ يَتَسٌاءَلُونَ ( وَاللٌّهِ لاٌ يَنْفَعُكَ غَداً إِلاَّ تَقْدِمَةٌ تُقَدِّمُهٌا مِنْ عَمَلٍ صٌالِحٍ

 “Not at all, O’ ŤāwÅ«s, not at all! Leave aside talk of my ancestry.  God created Heaven for those who obey Him and do good, even if he be an Abyssinian slave, and He created Hell for those who disobey him, even if he be a QurayshÄ« lad.  Have you not heard the words of God: “So when the trumpet shall be blown, there will be no relations among them, nor shall they ask one another?” By God, nothing shall benefit you tomorrow except what good deeds you send forth.”[97]

 2.  The Messenger of God (S), after the conquest of Makkah, ascended the hill of al-Åœafāāand called out: “O sons of Hāshim! O sons of `Abdul Muťťalib!” The descendents of Hāshim and `Abdul Muťťalib assembled; when they came together, the Messenger (S) addressed them:

 Ø¥ÙÙ†ÙÙ‘ـي رَسُولُ اللٌّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ، إِنِّـي لَشَفِيقٌ عَلَيْكُمْ، لاٌ تَقُولُوا إِنَّ مُحَمَّداً مِنٌّا، فَوَاللٌّهِ مٌا أَوْلِيٌائِي مِنْكُمْ وَلاٌ مِنْ غَيْرِكُمْ إِلاَّ الْمُتَّقُونَ، فَلاٌ تَأْتُونِي يَوْمَ الْقِيٌامَةِ تَحْمِلُونَ الدُّنْيٌا عَلى رِقٌابِكُمْ وَيَأْتِي النٌّاسُ يَحْمِلُونَ الآخِرَةَ.  أَلاَّ وَإِنِّـي قَدْ أَعْذَرْتُ فِيمٌا بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَفِيمٌا بَيْنَ اللٌّهِ عَزَّ وَّجَلَّ وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَإِنَّ لِي عَمَلِي وَلَكُمْ عَمَلُكُمْ

 “Verily I am God’s Messenger to you; verily I am your well-wisher.  Don’t say that Muhammad is from among us, for I swear by God, my friends from among you and from among others are only the pious ones.  So do not let me see you come to me on the Day of Judgement carrying the world on your shoulders, while the people come carrying the Hereafter.  Aye, I have left no excuse between myself and you, and between God the Exalted and you.  Verily, for me are my deeds and for you are your deeds.”[98]

 3.  Books of history have written that the Noble Messenger (S), in the last days of his life, went out alone at night to the cemetery of al-BaqÄ«` and sought forgiveness for those buried in it.  After that, he said to his companions, “Each year Jibrā’Ä«l would show the Qur’ān to me once, and this year he recited it for me twice.  I think this is a sign that my death has approached.” The next day he went to the pulpit and declared, “The time of my death has approached.  Whoever I have made a promise to, let him come forward so that I may fulfil it, and whoever is owed something by me, let him come forward so that I may give it.”

Then he continued his words thus:

 Ø£ÙŽÙŠÙ‘ُهٌا النٌّاسُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ بَيْنَ اللٌّهِ وَبَيْنَ أَحَدٍ نَسَبٌ وَلاٌ أَمْرٌ يُؤتِيهِ بِهِ خَيْراً أَوْ يَصْرِفُ عَنْهُ شَرًّا إِلاَّ الْعَمَلُ.  أَلاٌ لاٌ يَدَّعَيَنَّ مُدَّعٍ وَلاٌ يَتَمَنَّيَنَّ مُتَمَنٍّ، وَالَّذِي بَعَثَنِي بِالْحَقِّ لاٌ يُنْجِي إِلاَّ عَمَلٌ مَعَ رَحْمَةٍ وَلَوْ عَصَيْتُ لَهَوَيْتُ.  أَللٌّهُمَّ قَدْ بَلَّغْتُ

 “O people! Verily there is no kinship between God and any person, nor is there anything on account of which He will do good to a person or cast away evil from him except deeds.  Aye, let no one claim or wish (otherwise).  I swear by Him Who sent me with the truth, nothing will give salvation save (good) deeds along with mercy, and if [even] I were to disobey, I would perish.  O God! I have conveyed.” [99]

 4.  Imām `AlÄ« Ibn MÅ«sā al-Ridhā (as) had a brother known as Zayd al-Nār.  The character of this brother of the Imām (as) was not very pleasing to the Imām.  One day, during the time that the Imām was in Marw, Zayd was present in a gathering in which there was a large group of people who were speaking to each other.  While the Imām was speaking, he noticed that Zayd was talking to a group of people and speaking of the station of the Messenger’s family, and in a proud manner would constantly say, “we this” and “we that.” The Imām (as) cut short his own words and said, addressing Zayd: “What are these things that you are saying?  If what you say is correct and the descendents of the Messenger of God (S) have an exceptional status; that is, if God is not to punish their evildoers and will reward them without their doing good deeds, then you are more honourable near God than your father MÅ«sā Ibn Ja`far (as), because he would worship God until he attained the stations of Divine proximity, whereas you think that without worship you can attain the station of MÅ«sā Ibn Ja`far (as).”

The Imām (as) then turned to Ĥasan Ibn MÅ«sā al-Washshā’, one of the scholars of KÅ«fah who was present in that gathering, saying, “How do the scholars of KÅ«fah recite this verse:

 Ù‚ٌالَ يٌا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صٌلِحٍ (

 “O Nuh! Verily he is not of your family; he is a (doer) of unworthy deeds.”

 He replied: “They recite it thus:

 Ø¥ÙÙ†Ù‘َهُ عَمَلُ غَــيـرِ صٌالِحٍ

 “That is, he is not your son and is not from your seed; he is the son of an unrighteous man.”

The Imām (as) said, “Such is not the case.  They recite the verse incorrectly and interpret it incorrectly.  The verse is thus:

 Ø¥ÙÙ†Ù‘َهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صٌلِحٍ

 That is, your son himself is unworthy.  He was actually the son of NÅ«h; he was driven away from God and drowned because he himself was unrighteous, even though he was the son of Prophet NÅ«h(as).

Thus, being descended from and related to the Prophet or Imām has no benefit; good deeds are required.”[100]

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