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Sunday 18th of August 2019
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Allah does not help a believer who does not help his brother

The thirtieth sin, which is mentioned as a Greater sin, is 'not helping the oppressed people' and 'not warding off oppression from them'. In the tradition of Amash, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"…and not helping the oppressed (is a greater sin)."

To defend the oppressed is to help them ward off evil; not performing such a task is shirking a great duty which Allah has made incumbent upon us.

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says:
"If a person due to some difficulty takes refuge with his Muslim brother but inspite of being capable of helping him does not do so then he has for his own self cut off the Divine help."
(Al Kafi)

Allah does not help a believer who does not help his brother in faith and leaves him on his own.

Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) has mentioned that,
"A believer who inspite of being financially capable does not help another believer will be degraded by Allah in this world as well as the Hereafter."

Similarly Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"None of you should go to a place where a tyrant ruler is oppressing, and killing innocent people, if you are not capable of helping the oppressed. Because in event of a believer being present in such a place it would be his religious duty to help his believing brothers. But if he is not present at that place the obligation will not exist."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Umroo bin Qays says, "My cousin and I went to meet Imam Husain (a.s.) when he was surrounded by the army of Yazid (l.a.). Imam (a.s.) conversed with us briefly and then asked,
'Would you like to help me?'

I replied, 'I have a family to look after, besides I also have some trusts of some people with me. I don't know what my end would be and I don't want that the property of those people, which I have as trust should be destroyed.' My cousin also offered the same explanation."

Imam Husain (a.s.) said,
"If you cannot offer your assistance to me you must go far away from this desert so that you may not be able to hear my plaintive cry for help. Because if anyone is to hear our cry for help and does not respond, it would be incumbent upon Allah to throw him in the fire (Hell)."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"A Jewish scholar was punished with fire maces in his grave with such severity that the flames leapt out from inside. This was because he had prayed without Wuzu and once he was passing by an oppressed person who called for help but he did not respond."
(Safinatul Behaar)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"It is necessary to help a believer whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed one. If he is an oppressor he should be restrained from oppression and if he is oppressed he should be helped in obtaining his rights. He should not be deserted and left on his own."
(Daarus Salaam)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"He is not a believer who inspite of being capable avoids helping his brother in need; Allah also leaves him on his own and does not help him in this world nor the Hereafter."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"A person before whom the defects of his Muslim brother are mentioned; and he does not try to remove those defects inspite of being able to do also; then Allah will expose (his defects) in this world as well as the Hereafter."

From the above tradition and other similar narrations it seems that oppression is not confined to physical harm or monetary difficulty. It is also with regard to the injury to one's honour and respect. For, the honour of a believer is as precious as his life and wealth. Defiling the honour of a believer is also Haraam, like usurping his wealth or taking his life. The traditions are emphatic that just as it is necessary to defend the life and property of a believer, it is also incumbent to protect his honour and respect. It is Wajib to assist him in defending his honour.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"If a person tells something (misleading) to a believer by which he intends to make him an evil man and due to this his respect and honour will be destroyed and he will be degraded in the eyes of common people and people will not trust him anymore nor respect him. Then such a person is deprived from the Guardianship of Allah and left for the Shaitan who also does not accept him."
(Al Kafi)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If a person hears of the defects of his believing brother in an assembly and tries to defend him, Allah closes a thousand doors of evil from him in the world and the Hereafter. But if inspite of being capable he does not refrain the one who is speaking about the defects of a believer; his sin will be equal to that of seventy backbiters."
(Makasib)

Shaykh Ansari says that this sin is equated to that of seventy backbiters probably for the reason that if the one who is mentioning the defects is not restrained he may repeat this act on several other occassions. The Shaykh further says that preventing the backbiter is not sufficient but one should also endeavour to defend the believer from all such accusations and defects. For example if the defects pertain to some worldly matter one should say, "After all he has not committed a sin." If the defects are with regard to some religious obligation he should try to somehow prove that the accusation is false. As an example, if a believer is said to have omitted prayers one can defend him by suggesting, that may be he had forgotten to offer them. If a believer is accused of being an alcoholic, one can suggest that he must have seen him drinking something else, or as a last resort one can say, "He is after all not a masoom (infallible). A man is prone to sin sometimes, so instead of back-biting about him you should try to reform him and help him in his difficulties."

Thus one should make every effort to defend his believing brother from such dishonour. The details of this shall be discussed in the chapter of backbiting.

It is not necessary that only those who request for help should be assisted

We should know that helping an oppressed does not become Wajib only when they request for help. Every person who is capable of removing difficulties of a believer must do so and if the needy person has entreated for assistance it becomes all the more important. As the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) says,
"One who hears the entreaty of a man, 'O Muslims! Come for my help,' and does not assist him, is not a Muslim."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If a person requests his Muslim brother to help him and the latter does not do so inspite of being capable enough; the Almighty Allah installs a huge snake from (the snakes of) Hell on his grave so that it can continuously bite him."
(Mustadrak)

In another tradition it is reported that such a person will continue to receive this punishment till Qiyamat even if he had been pardoned (for other sins). Moreover, Imam (a.s.) also said,
"No person refrains from helping and pleasing his Muslim brother unless there is some benefit in it." (i.e. his helping would have been sinful instead of rewarding)."

There are many traditions of this type from the Holy Imams (a.s.). Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says:
"The sin which results in the descending of calamities is when one does not respond to the call for help of the helpless people."
(Maani al Akhbaar)

Then the Imam (a.s.) invocated Allah saying,
"O Allah! I plead for forgiveness for the time when someone is oppressed in my presence and I do not help him. I seek refuge in You for not helping an oppressed and a needy person."
(Saheefa-e-Sajjadia)

Traditions on this subject are numerous and widespread. Let us be content with the ones we have discussed.

Helping the oppressed is not only for believers

Helping the oppressed is Wajib. This does not mean that it is Wajib only to help the oppressed believers. The commands of helping the oppressed in the light of Quran and traditions are only conditional as far as the capability of the helper is concerned. Even if the oppressed people are not Shias and they belong to other sects of Muslims, it is still Wajib to help them. Even if a non-offensive infidel is being oppressed, the command of enjoining good and forbidding evil dictates that he should be helped and the evil must be eradicated. There is an incident in Muntahiul Aamaal that Mansur Dawaniqi was in Mecca when an expensive diamond was brought to him. It was for sale. When Mansur saw the diamond he recognised that it had belonged to Hisham bin Abdul Malik and should have been surrendered to him (Mansur). Since Muhammad a son of Hisham was still alive he must have brought it for sale. So he ordered his guards to close all the doors of the Holy Mosque after morning prayers the next day, and allow the people to leave only from a single door after careful scrutiny. When Muhammad bin Hisham was found he should be arrested and brought to him.

When on the next day after morning congregational prayers all the doors were shut and it was announced that people should leave from one particular exit, Muhammad bin Hisham realised that it was a plot to arrest him. He became fearful and looked here and there in confusion and worry. He did not know what to do. Just then Muhammad bin Zaid bin Ali bin al-Husain (a.s.) came towards him and asked, "Who are you? And why are you so frightened."

"If I reveal my identity, would my life be safe?"
"Yes!" he replied, "I take an oath to remove this danger from you."

"I am Muhammad, the son of Hisham Ibne Abdul Malik, Now tell who you are?"
"I am Muhammad Ibne Zaid bin Ali bin al-Husain (a.s.) and certainly your great grandfather Marwan had killed my father unjustly, but do not worry, you are safe. Taking your life will not avenge the innocent blood of my father and you had not killed my father yourself. Now I will try my best to save you from this danger. I have thought of a way out of this. I want you to co-operate with me and promise me that you will be absolutely fearless and repose your trust in me."

Thus, Muhammad bin Zaid covered the head and face of Muhammad ibn Hisham with his own robe and pulled him towards the exit beating him at every step. When they reached the exit he told the guard loudly, "This wretched man is a camel driver from Kufa. He had hired a camel from me but he ran away and he gave it to someone else. I also have two just witnesses to support my claim. You send your deputies with me and I will take him to the Qazi for judgement. Rabi, the chief guard ordered two of his deputies to accompany them and they came out of the Holy Mosque together. When they had walked for some distance Muhammad ibn Zayd told Muhammad bin Hisham, "There is still time for you to repent and promise to return my money, I will not trouble these guards and the Qazi if you assure me."

Muhammad bin Hisham picked up the cue and said, "O son of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). I promise to do as you say."

Muhammad bin Zayd told the guards that since the fellow has repented there was no need for them to take more trouble. The guards left them. Muhammad bin Hisham took off the robe from his face and kissed the face and head of Muhammad bin Zayd and said, "Allah the Almighty knew well where to put His message that He appointed the Prophet from your family."

Then he took out an expensive diamond from his pocket and requested Muhammad bin Zayd to accept it as a reward for saving his life but Muhammad bin Zayd declined saying, "I belong to a family that does not accept anything in return of a good deed. When I had condoned the murder of my father what value can this diamond have for me? I cannot take it."

The worshipper sinks in the ground

Shaykh Tusi has related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "There was an old man of Bani Israel. He was praying when he saw that two children had caught a fowl and were pulling its feather. The fowl was shrieking in pain but he remained engrossed in prayers and did not help the poor bird by having it released from the clutches of the naughty children. So the Almighty ordered the earth to swallow this man and sucked him to the lowest depths."

The worldly and the heavenly rewards for those who help the believers

A large number of traditions have reached us which emphasise the necessity of helping and assisting the believer and the rewards that are earned by those who do so. Let us study some of these traditions:
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"One who responds to the entreaties of his believing brother in difficulties and makes him glad and helps him and fulfills his needs; then seventy two bounties become occupant for him from Allah. One of these bounties is given to him in this world so that it can solve his worldly problems and the other seventy one are stored for him to remove the dread and difficulties of the Hereafter."
(Wasaelush Shia)

He (a.s.) has also said:
"If a person tries to fulfill the need of a believer and he completes it, the Almighty Allah writes in the scroll of deeds the rewards of a Hajj and Umra and Ihtikaaf of two months in Masjidul Haraam and fasts of two months. But if the need is not completely fulfilled the reward of one Hajj and Umra is written."
(Al Amr bil Ma'roof)

Imam (a.s.) has also mentioned that it was revealed upon Hazrat Dawood (a.s.) that,
"When one good deed of one of My servants reaches Me I shall grant him Paradise."

Dawood (a.s.) asked, "O my Lord what deed is that?"
"Removing sorrow and difficulties of a believer, even if it is as little as giving him a date (fruit)!"

Dawood (a.s.) said, "It is only You O Allah! Who is of such greatness that once a person recognises You, he must never despair of Your Mercy."

It is quoted from Maimoon bin Mehram in the book Faqih, "I was sitting in the assembly of Imam Hasan (a.s.) when a person entered and said, 'O son of the Messenger of Allah. I am indebted to such and such person and now he wants to imprison me.'

Imam (a.s.) said,
'I do not have any money to repay your debt.'

He said, 'Maybe you can speak to him so that he will not put me in prison.'

Imam (a.s.) arose and put on his shoes. I said, 'O son of the Messenger (s.a.w.s.) did you forget that you are in Ihtikaaf and cannot go out of the mosque?'

Imam (a.s.) said,
'I have not forgotten, but I have heard my father say that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had said, "One who tries to fulfill the needs of his believing brother is as if he has for 9000 years fasted during the days and prayed during the nights.'"

Letter of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) to the ruler of Ahwaz

When Najjashi assumed the rulership of Ahwaz there was a person in his service who requested Imam (a.s.) that, "I owe a certain amount to the ruler and he is a Shia, if you feel proper, please write to him regarding this matter."

Imam (a.s.) wrote:
"In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful. Please your brother so that Allah may please you."
(Usool al-Kafi)

The narrator says that when the person went to Najjashi, he was busy in some official matter. When he was free he handed Najjashi the letter saying that it was from Imam (a.s.). He kissed the letter and touched it to his eyes and asked, "What is the matter?" He told him that he owed some taxes. "How much?" Najjashi asked, "Ten thousand Dirhams," he replied. Najjashi called his accountant and told him to note down his debt as paid and close his account in the register. Then he went further and said that for the following year too this amount of taxes should be marked as paid. Then he turned towards him and asked, "Have I made you happy?"
"Yes!" replied the man.

Then he called for a horse, and a slave brought it. He ordered for a dress and gave to the man. At each step he kept asking, "Have I made you happy? Have I made you happy? The man kept replying "Yes! Yes! May I be sacrificed for you, Yes!" At last he told him to take even the carpet on which he was sitting. Because, he said, "It was on this carpet that you handed me this letter of my Master (a.s.), and if you have any other need, tell me." The man thanked him profusely, returned to Imam (a.s.) and related the details. The Imam (a.s.) was extremely pleased at the behaviour of Najjashi. The man asked, "O my Master are you pleased with Najjashi's response?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"By Allah! Najjashi has also pleased Allah, His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his Progeny."

Yaqteen the father of Ali relates that one of the accountants of Yahya bin Khalid was appointed to collect tax from their area. Yaqteen says, "At that time I was owing a considerable amount of tax and if all the tax had to be cleared I would have had to sell off all my property. Some people suggested that he was a Shia, but I was too fearful to approach him in case he turned out to be a non-Shia and would force me to part with all my wealth, as I was a follower of Ali (a.s.). So I decided to run away from that place and headed for Mecca. After completing pilgrimage I decided to visit Madinah and presented myself before Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and told him, 'Such and such person has been appointed as a tax collector but I was too scared to approach him for the fear that he may not be one of your adherents.' Imam (a.s.) told me that there was no cause for me to worry and he wrote a brief note;
"In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful, there are many people in His shade whose guardians are only those who remove the grief and difficulties of their brothers or give them opportunity or do some good to them even if it is as little as half a dried date and this person is your brother."

Imam (a.s.) put his seal at the end and handed me the note saying, 'Give this to him.' When I returned to my native town and went to his door, I said, 'I have been sent by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.).' He came running to the door barefooted. When he saw me, he saluted me and kissed my forehead and asked if his master has sent me. I replied in the affirmative and he said, 'If this is so, even my life is at your disposal.' He held my hands and implored me to tell him in what condition Imam (a.s.) was when I had departed. I told him that Imam (a.s.) was well. 'By Allah? Yes, By Allah?' he asked this three times and after that I handed him the hand-written note of Imam (a.s.). He kissed it and touched it to his eyes. Then he asked me what I wanted from him. I told him that I owed several thousand dirhams in taxes and I would spend my whole life in paying them. He called for my file and condoned the taxes payable by me and gave me a receipt. After this he called for his money chest and gave half of the money to me. Then he called for his horses and distributed them equally between us. After this he sent for his clothes and distributed them in the same way. When he had divided all his belongings and given me half he said 'O Brother! Have I pleased you?' Yes, I replied, 'By Allah!'

When it was the time for Hajj I said to myself that I could never repay his kindness except for that which is most liked by Allah and His Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). So I decided to go for Hajj in order that I may pray for him and after Hajj meet Imam (a.s.) and inform him of the kindness and request him also to pray for this noble soul. When I met Imam (a.s.) after Hajj he seemed very pleased and asked,
"O Yaqteen how did that person behave with you?"

When I depicted his goodness the face of Imam (a.s.) beamed with happiness. I asked whether Imam (a.s.) was pleased with his actions? (so that Allah may please the noble man). Imam (a.s.) replied:
"By Allah he has pleased my ancestors! By Allah he has pleased Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and he has pleased the Almighty Allah at the High Heaven."

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) and Ali Ibne Yaqteen

Ibrahim Jamaal wanted to meet Ali Ibne Yaqteen, the Prime Minister of Haroon the Caliph, but he was not granted an audience. The same year Ali Ibne Yaqteen was honoured by Hajj and later went to Madinah and decided to meet Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) but Imam (a.s.) did not permit him to enter. Again the next day he presented himself and upon the refusal of Imam (a.s.) asked as to what sin he had committed that Imam (a.s.) did not want to meet him. Imam (a.s.) said that since he had refused to meet his brother, the Almighty Allah would not allow his efforts to succeed, till the time Ibrahim Jamaal does not forgive him. Ali ibn Yaqteen said that since he was in Madinah and Ibrahim Jamaal in Kufa how was it possible to obtain his forgiveness at that moment?

Imam (a.s.) said,
"When it is dark, go alone to Baqee, and do not let anyone know it. You will find a thoroughbred horse there. Mount that horse."

Ali Ibne Yaqteen did as instructed and in a short time found himself at the door of Ibrahim Jamaal. He knocked at the door and announced "I am Ali Ibne Yaqteen." Ibrahim Jamaal said from inside, "What do I have to do with Ali Ibne Yaqteen?"

Ali Ibne Yaqteen said that he had some urgent work with him and begged for the permission to enter. When he was allowed inside he said, "My Master has refused to see me till you forgive me."

Ibrahim said, "May Allah forgive you."
Ali Ibne Yaqteen fell down and implored him to put his foot on his (Ali's) face. Ibrahim did not agree. Ali Ibne Yaqteen again implored him in the Name of Allah. Ibrahim complied with his request. Then Ali Ibne Yaqteen said, "O Allah be a witness," and mounted the horse again. Within a few minutes he found himself at the door of Imam (a.s.). He knocked and Imam (a.s.) permitted him to enter.

By these traditions we can judge the importance of helping our believing brothers. Ali Ibne Yaqteen was one of the closest companions of Imam (a.s.) and has assumed the ministership by the order of Imam (a.s.). He was also held in such high esteem that on the day of Eid-uz-Zuha Imam (a.s.) said,
"I did not recall anyone else's name. I just prayed for Ali Ibne Yaqteen!"

Inspite of such an honourable position he was not able to satisfy Imam (a.s.) till he had satisfied his believing brother. We must exercise utmost caution in our daily lives that we may not cause any believer's rights to be trespassed; which may bring down the anger of Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) upon us.

His own needs are fulfilled

It must be known that one who strives to fulfill the needs of a believing brother or wards off oppression from an oppressed soul, apart from the rewards of the Hereafter he is also bestowed honour in this world and his own needs are fulfilled. We have many traditions to prove this, however we shall mention only one such incident.

The esteemed scholar, Ahmed bin Muhammad bin Khalid Al Barqi who was present in the life time of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) and also during the Minor Occultation, says in his book Mahasin:
I was under the patronage of the tax collector of the city of Pahencha Kootkeen. His name was Abul Hasan Madarani. He had given me a yearly endowment, which I used to collect as tax from an area at Kashaan, but he was so busy that he became inattentive towards me and my own taxes were demanded from me. I was much worried, when one day a noble and pious man came to me. He was very fragile and it seemed as if he had no blood in his body. He was like a walking corpse. He told me, "O Abu Abdillah! There is a relation of common faith and purity between you and me and the relation of devotion to the Pure Imams (a.s.). Please do something for me for the sake of pleasing Allah and for the sake of the love of Saadaat." I asked him as to what he wished? He said, "People have falsely spread the rumour that I have given some secret information against Kootani to the Sultan. Hence, they have confiscated all my property."

I promised to help him out and he went away. I thought to myself that if I approached the collector with two requests at the same time I would not be able to achieve them both. On the other hand if I presented the problem of only the old man then what of my own difficulty? I went inside my library and was in deep thought when a tradition of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) came to my mind. It was to the effect that if a person strives, sincerely, to solve the difficulty of a believer, his own difficulty is solved by Allah." I got up at once and went to Abul Hasan Madarani. When I entered I saw that he was sitting on his chair with a pillow to rest his back and he held a stick in his hand. He told me to sit. At that very moment a Quranic verse came to my mind and I recited it loudly:
"And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers."
(Surah Qasas 28:77)

Abul Hasan said that since I have recited this verse I must be in some need? He told me to mention it clearly. I said that people have spread false rumours against such and such person. He asked me if he was a Shia and if he was acquainted with him. I said, "Yes"! He called for the register and I saw that a large property had been seized from the old man. Abul Hasan ordered all the seized property to be restored to its owner. He also told his servants to give him a mule and a novel dress and accompany him to his family with respect. After this he said, "O Abu Abdillah you have corrected my mistake." Then he picked up a slip of paper and wrote an order transferring the rights of the particular piece of land in my name. Again he waited for sometime then ordered the old man to be paid 10,000 dirhams extra, saying, "Because he had guided us to the correct way!"

I requested him to let me kiss his hands but he said that if I kissed his hands he would kiss my feet and said that he did not wish to waste away his good deed. It was nothing much for him as he was holding the rope of the Progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). 

The thirty-first sin that is clearly stated to be a Greater Sin is sorcery. A tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has been recorded in Wasaelush Shia in which the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has mentioned that Magic is a Greater Sin. The tradition of Abdul Azeem (r.a.) has also mentioned from Imam Jawad (a.s.) who has related through his fore-fathers from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said to the effect, "Sorcery is a Greater Sin because the Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"And they followed what the shaitans chanted of sorcery in the reign of Sulaiman, and Sulaiman was not an unbeliever, but the shaitans disbelieved, they taught men sorcery and that was sent down to the two angels at Babel, Harut and Marut, Yet these two taught no man until they had said, 'Surely we are only a trial, therefore do not be a disbeliever.' Even then men learned from these two, magic by which they might cause a separation between a man and his wife; and they cannot hurt with it anyone except with Allah's permission, and they learnt what harmed them and did not profit them, and certainly they know that he who brought it should have no share of good in the hereafter and evil was the price for which they sold their souls; had they but known this."
(Surah Baqarah 2:102)

According to Tafseer al-Mizan this ayat shows that sorcery was prevalent among the Jews for a long time; and they used to ascribe it to Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.). They believed that Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) had mastered the techniques of controlling the angels, jinns and wild animals through magic, and some of these alleged methods had reached them. They also implicated the two angels Harut and Marut for other magical rites. Therefore, the Holy Quran has denounced their belief regarding Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) because sorcery is the method of misusing the power of human spirit in order to perform extraordinary acts. It is against the Divine law because it negates the supremacy of Allah. Since Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) was a Prophet and undoubtedly infallible, he cannot be blamed for such a violation of Divine Command. Therefore to ascribe sorcery to Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) was absolutely wrong. As the Almighty says,
"...and Sulaiman was not an unbeliever, but the shaitans disbelieved, they taught men sorcery..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:102)

Regarding Harut and Marut the Holy Quran says:
"...and that was sent down to the angels at Babel, Harut and Marut, yet these two taught no man until they had said, "Surely we are only a trial, therefore do not be a disbeliever." Even then men learnt from these two, magic by which they might cause a separation between a man and his wife; and they cannot hurt with it anyone except with Allah's permission, and they learnt what harmed them and did not profit them..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:102)

We should however know that some of the commentaries of the Holy Quran by Ahle-Sunnat have recorded some lewd traditions on this subject; and their lewdness itself proves their forged nature. For example they say that the Jinns stole the ring of Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) and with the help of its power ruled for forty days from his throne and during this period the satans spread the practice of sorcery among the masses. They have also written that Harut and Marut were two angels and when they became seized with sensuality, they drank wine and murdered a man; later they committed adultery with a woman. The woman then ascended to the heavens; and the star Zahra on the sky is that same woman.

This is a false allegation because during his conversation on this subject with Mamoon, as mentioned in Oyoon-e-Akhbaare Reza, Imam Reza (a.s.) says that Harut and Marut were two angels who had taught people the method of nullifying the magic of the sorcerers so as to enable them to prevent the effect of magical rites practiced by the magicians. They did not teach any magical spell before warning them that this was a Divine test and they must not fall prey to infidelity but some people became disbelievers by misusing the spells to cause discord between husband and wife, though the proper utility of the spell was obstructing black magic.

Even the Shia scholars differ in the explanation of this verse. Tafseer Majmaul Bayan has also recorded different views. Some thinkers have opined that this is one of the Divine secrets and they further offer the exegesis that Harut and Marut signify the intellect and soul of man. These two entities changed their abstract form and assumed a physical body. Therefore, they were examined in their material life. They became engrossed in satisfying their carnal desires. Consequently they attached themselves solely to the material world and continued to worship their desires. In this way they committed gross injustice upon themselves and deprived themselves from eternal bounties. They also made themselves liable for a terrible punishment. Such traditions are unacceptable according to their wordings and if they are reported to have been uttered by the infallibles they should be understood in the light of their sayings only.

The honourable scholar Shaykh Sadooq says that Zahra and Suhail are two types of marine animals who are referred to in traditions by the name of Harut and Marut. They are not two stars as the Ahle-Sunnat believe. Moreover, the Quranic ayat mentioned above is clear that magic is equivalent to disbelief and the sorcerer will not receive any benefit on the Day of Qiyamat.

As the Holy Quran says,
"And if they had believed and guarded themselves (against evil), reward from Allah would certainly have been better; had they but known (this)."
(Surah Baqarah 2:103)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"Three kinds of people will not enter Paradise, habitual alcoholics, habitual sorcerers and those who severe relationships."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"The magician will enter hell like the disbeliever."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Imam (a.s.) also says,
"If one learns magic, whether a little bit or more, he has become an infidel. And his end result is that he does not receive Divine Mercy. His punishment is that he be killed except if he repents."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says that a woman came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and said,
"My husband is very severe and misbehaves with me, so I have prepared something for him that he may become kind to me." (i.e. I have prepared a magical potion to change his attitude).

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"Curse be upon you! You have darkened the realms of the seas and the lands, the angels of the earth and the heavens curse you."

After going from there the woman began to fast during the days and pray during the night and she trimmed her hair and started wearing a leather garment. When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) learnt of this he remarked that her fasting and prayers would not be accepted.
(Kitab Faqih)

Muhaddith Faid mentions this hadith and comment that these actions will not save her from death penalty. Sorcery is such a severe crime that her repentance and worship will not bring her near Allah. She has done an injustice to her husband and unless he forgives her, she cannot be forgiven.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If a person goes to a magician, a diviner or a liar and testifies to the truth of whatever he says, he becomes an infidel according to all the books revealed by Allah."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Sorcery is punishable by death

A Muslim who indulges in magic and does not repent is punished by death. An infidel culprit of sorcery must not be killed. He should be punished according to the decree of a just jurist (Qazi) and his penalty is at the discretion of the Qazi.

According to a tradition of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The sorcerer must be given a single blow of the sword on his head."
(Al Kafi)

"If two just witnesses testify, it is permissible to kill him."
(Tahzeeb)

Imam (a.s.) also said, that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) ordered,
"The Muslim sorcerer must be killed and the infidel magician must not be killed."

Someone asked, "O Messenger of Allah, why shouldn't the disbelieving sorcerer be killed too?"

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"Because disbelief is a more serious sin than magic; and sorcery and polytheism are the same."

It means that when a zimmi infidel is not sentenced to death for his infidelity he cannot be killed for the sin of practising magic because infidelity is greater than sorcery. Whereas the Muslim magician is killed because he has committed polytheism.

What is sorcery?

The late Sayyad writes in Wasila an Najaat that magic means the writing and reciting of some special spells and charms and the burning of particular objects so that its smoke can be used for some extraordinary effects. Making a picture and blowing, or tying up knots, or buying special objects in particular places so that the person for whom the magic is intended may be affected physically or mentally. That is if he is reported lost he can be located by it or he can be put to sleep or made unconscious. It can also be used for creating love or discord between two people; like husband and wife etc.

In the exegesis Tafseer al-Mizan very interesting points are mentioned under the explanation of the 104th verse of Surah Baqarah. We shall present them for our readers.

A philosophical discussion

It is common knowledge that many unusual events do take place which are beyond the established natural system. It is difficult to find someone who has not seen, or heard about some abnormal or seemingly supernatural event. But on close scrutiny it turns out that most of them are not enigmatic and mysterious at all. They are the results of normal and natural causes, like intensive practice and training, for example, eating poison, lifting heavy loads, walking or dancing on a tight rope etc. Some are based on natural causes that are not known to the general public, for example, a man walks into flaming fire without coming to any harm, (he applies some chemicals like talc to his body); or sends a sheet of blank paper and the addressee understands the message it contains. (He writes with an invisible ink that becomes visible if heated by fire or treated with some chemicals). A third set depends on the sleight of hand like juggling. All these seemingly abnormal feats actually emanate from normal causes, although the causes are unknown to the common man; they may even be beyond his ability.

Yet there are other weird happenings that cannot be attributed to any normal physical cause. For example, giving information of the unseen, and particularly foretelling future events; the charms for love and hate, the harmful or beneficial spells affecting man's virility, hypnotism, mesmerism, spiritualism, telekinesis and so on. It is known that such events do take place from time to time. We have seen some demonstrations ourselves, and similar reports were brought to us by reliable sources. At present there are many people in India, Iran and the western countries, who demonstrate such extraordinary feats and their authenticity is beyond doubt.

It appears from close investigation of their methods and regimen that these feats spring from the will power of the doer, and from his unshakable self-confidence. The will power arises from the special knowledge which they have mastered. Sometimes the will acts independently and sometimes it needs some boosting; for example, writing a certain charm with a certain ink in a certain place at a certain time (for the amulets of love or hate); or fixing a mirror before a certain child (in the seances of spiritualism); or chanting a certain incantation a certain number of times, and so on and so forth. When the conditions are fulfilled the will is strengthened to bring the desired effect into being. When the knowledge becomes one with the knower, it influences his senses to such an extent that he sees the end product, that is, the desired effect, with his eyes. You may verify this statement yourself. Just tell yourself that a certain person is present before you and that you are looking at him; then put your imagination to work to bring his form before your eyes; this should be raised to such a high level of certainty that you become oblivious of all other thoughts and ideas and then you will actually see him standing before you-as you had imagined. Many ancient doctors, acting on this principle, restored to health their incurable patients-simply by creating in them the confidence that they would soon regain their health.

Taking this principle a step further, if someone's will power is extraordinarily strong, it might influence the psyche of another individual and create the desired impression on him also. That impression might, or might not depend on fulfillment of certain conditions, as indicated earlier.

From the above discourse, we may deduce the following three principles:
FIRST: The appearance of such extraordinary events depends on the firm "knowledge" and strong conviction of the doer but it is irrelevant whether that "knowledge" is true to the fact or not. That explains why the conjurations of the priests of the sun god and the moon-goddess etc. seemed to work although they believed that the heavenly bodies had souls, which they claimed to bring under by their magic. Probably the same applies to the angels and satans whose names are "discovered" and invoked by many practitioners of the magic art. The same is true for spiritualism and its seance and spirit communication- and the spiritualist belief that the spirits attend their sittings. Utmost that may be claimed regarding those sessions, is that the spirit appears in their imagination or, let us say, before their senses- and this "perception" emanates from their firm belief in their art but it can never be said that the spirit actually presents itself at the sittings- otherwise all the participants in the sitting should have perceived its presence, because everyone of them has the same senses as the medium has.

But accepting this principle, we may solve many problems related to the seance and spirit communication. For example:
1. Sometimes the spirit of a living man is called to present itself at a seance, and supposedly it comes there but at that very moment, that man is busy attending to his affairs and he never feels his spirit leaving him even for an instant. The question is: As a man has only one spirit, how was it possible that his spirit presented itself to that seance without his being aware of it?

2. The spirit is an immaterial essence which has no relation whatsoever with space and time. How can it present itself at a certain place at a certain time?

3. Why is it that often a single spirit appears before different mediums in different forms?

4. Why is it that sometimes when the spirits are called to a seance, they tell lies and give wrong answers? And why do the various spirits sometimes contradict each other?

All these problems will be solved if the principle is accepted that it is not any spirit that presents itself to the seance; it is only the firm belief and conviction of the spiritualists and his medium that is at work, making the medium see, hear and feel the spirit. It is all a play of his imagination and will; and nothing more.

SECOND: Some of the people, holding the strong and effective will-power, rely on their own power and their own being, in bringing about the desired effect, the intended supernatural events. Such events are bound to be limited in strength, confined in their scope- in their own imagination as well as in reality.

On the other side, there are some persons, like the Prophets and the friends of Allah who, in spite of their most effective will power, totally rely on their Lord. They truly worship Him and have full trust in Him. They do not wish anything but from their Lord, and by His permission. Theirs is a pure and clear will, untainted by any personal feeling. It does not depend except on Allah. This is a Divine Will- not limited in anyway, nor restricted in any manner.

The supernatural events that are brought into being by the first group may be of many kinds; If they are based on enquiry of, or help from, a jinn or a spirit etc. then it is called "al-Kihanah" (divination, sooth-saying, fortune-telling); and if it comes about by means of a charm, amulet, talisman or other such instruments or potions, then it is called magic.

The supernatural events shown by the prophets and saints are also of various kinds. If it is produced as a challenge, in order to prove the truth of the claim of prophethood, then it is called miracle, if it is not offered as a challenge, then it is named "al-Karamah" which literally means nobility, mark of honour; and in Islamic terminology is used for a miraculous event shown without a challenge; and if it happens as a result of the prayer to Allah, then it is called, "answer to the prayer."

THIRD: As the whole thing depends on the will power of the doer, its strength varies according to the strength (or weakness) of the will. That is why some of them may nullify the others, as, for example, the miracle annihilates sorcery. Also, a weak agent fails to impose his will on a stronger psyche, as is often seen at the sessions of mesmerism, hypnotism and seances.

Various Kinds of Magic

There are many fields of study dealing with various awe-striking feats and extraordinary deeds; and it is very difficult to classify them so as not to leave anything out. However, we give here a list of the more commonly used branches of this art.

a) as-Simiya: It deals with the ways of combining the will-power with particular physical and material forces for manipulating the natural order and, thus, producing extraordinary effects. Under this head comes the manipulation of thought, also known as the eye-enchantment.
It is the most deserving candidate for the title of magic

b) al-Limiya: It teaches how one may establish a connection between his psyche and the higher and stronger spirits, in order that one may bring them under one's control, for example, the spirits of the stars, or the jinn, etc.
It is also called the knowledge of subjugation of the spirits.

c) al-Himiya: It explains how the powers of the higher spiritual world may be combined with the base elements of this world to produce awe-inspiring effects. It is also called talisman. The stars and their configuration have some relation to the material happenings of this world, in the same way as the elements and compounds and their physical qualities affect those phenomena. Supposedly if the heavenly forms, pertaining to a certain event, for example, A's life or B's death, could be combined with the relevant material forms, the desired effect would take place without fail.

d) ar-Rimiya: It trains one how to control and manipulate the qualities of various things, to produce seemingly super-natural effects. It is also called "ash-Sha'badhah" (sleight of hand, jugglery, magic).

These four fields of knowledge, together with the fifth, called "al-Kimiya" (alchemy, the forerunner of chemistry, primarily the attempt to transmute base metals into gold or silver) formed what the ancients called the five secrets, mysterious branches of knowledge.

Ash-Shaykh al-Bahai has said: "The best book written on these subjects was the one I saw in Herat, 'Kulah-e-sar' (the head's cap) by name. Its name was an acronym, made of the first letters of the five subjects, that is, al-Kimiya, al-Limiya, al-Himiya, al-Simiya and ar-Rimiya."

The standard books of these subjects are the epitome of the books of Balinas, Rasa'il, al-Khusraw Shahi, adh-Dhakhirah, al-Iskandariyya, as-Sirru'l makhtum (by ar-Razi), at-Taskhirat (by as-Sakkaki) and A'malu'l-kawakib as-Sab'ah (by al-Hakim Tamtam al-Hindi).

Supplementary of the above are the following subjects:
a) The knowledge of numbers (numerology): It shows the relation of numbers and letters with the desired effect. The relevant letters or numbers are filled in a magic square or triangle etc. in a particular sequence.

b) al-Khafiyah (the hidden knowledge): It breaks down the name of the desired effect or other relevant names, and finds out the names of the angels or the satans managing the said effect; and then composes the invocations made of those names.

Divination or Kahanat-Soothsaying

To predict future events is known as divining and when the prediction is made on the knowledge obtained through some groups of Jinns it is known as Kahanat. (However we shall use the word soothsaying as an equivalent of Kahanat). Kahanat pertains to the prediction of future with the help of special knowledge. For example, the soothsayer may be adept at guessing the words of the enquirer or his private affairs etc. According to the author of Nihaya this kind of soothsayer is known as 'Aaraaf' but according to the majority of scholars a soothsayer is the one who predicts with the help of Jinns. The Jinns inform him of hidden matters. For example, he might be able to find where a stolen thing is hidden or who is the thief, or who is the murderer of a particular person. All the jurists are unanimous in their opinion that 'Kahanat' or soothsaying is Haraam. Just as it is Haraam to learn, teach, perform magic, in the same way it is Haraam to learn soothsaying, to act upon the advice of a soothsayer and even to go for advice from a soothsayer. Some scholars maintain that soothsaying is a kind of magic.

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who divines or the one who goes to a soothsayer for divination, (both) have renounced the religion of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."
(Khisaal)

Janabe Haitham enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "There is a person we know who informs about stolen property etc. Is it permitted for us to seek his advice?"

The Holy Imam (a.s.) said,
"The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has mentioned that one who goes to a sorcerer, a soothsayer or a liar and testifies to what he says has become an infidel in the light of all the divine books revealed on Allah's Messengers."
(Makasib Muharrama of Shaykh Ansari)

The Shaykh comments that according to this tradition, informing about the hidden matters is Haraam; whether through divination or otherwise. However, if someone guesses and conjectures or doubts; it is allowed. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) considers soothsaying a prohibited profession and also considers it earnings Haraam. Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) is also recorded to have mentioned a similar tradition.

Ignorance about future is better for the people

We must comprehend that prohibition of soothsaying is beneficial to us. Allah the Almighty does not wish people to have knowledge of the future. It is possible that a person may come to know of something of tremendous importance which will take place is according to his wishes. But their happening may be dependant on his giving Sadaqah or invoking Allah. Having this knowledge beforehand may prevent the person from giving Sadaqah and invoking Allah with the result he will be deprived of his wishes. Similaly he may come to know of some calamity is to befall and this will cause him great anxiety when in reality this happening may not occur at all because of change in Allah's ordinance (Badaa). It is prominent that many calamities are warded off by invoking Allah or giving Sadaqah or due to some good actions of the person or repentance. We can recall the people of Prophet Yunus (a.s.), who were to be subjected to a great disaster. But their dua and repentance at the eleventh hour changed the course of their destiny. The Quran has also mentioned this fact.

A tradition is quoted in the Ihtejaj of Tabarsi from the sixth Imam (a.s.). The gist of the same is as follows:
After the birth of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the shaitans and the Jinns were denied access to the heavens, hence they were unable to give information about the heavenly affairs. Now they could only inform about the evil magical matters. This information is unreliable because among the jinns too there are liars as well as truthful jinns. Therefore the fortune telling of a diviner is unreliable.

Sorcery and soothsaying are evil

To comprehend the evil of magic and soothsaying it is enough to know the numerous frauds, crimes, thefts and cheating committed through them. The sorcerer discontinues all the good actions and concentrates only on performing satanic rituals. He commits adultery with a married woman, sometimes he kills a person or drinks human blood. He shows disrespect to the things that Allah has made respectful. For example, he desecrates the verses of the Holy Quran. He performs actions that bring him closer to shaitans and eventually enters their company. Rather he debases himself lower than the shaitans so that they may help him in soothsaying and sorcery.

It is certainly a great pity that a human being who is capable of utmost good and worthy of rising to a position equal to angels or even higher, should so debase himself by his evil deeds that his position is degraded below that of the Shaitan.

Shoabada-illusion

Fast movements of an object can create an optical illusion for the beholder. For example if a ball of fire is moved in circles it seems to be a circle of fire. In the same way a person who is travelling in a car or train feels himself stationary and feels that his surroundings are moving in the opposite direction. Some people are adept at creating illusions of this type which audience perceives as real. To create such an illusion is Shobada. All the fuqaha are unanimous that Shobada is Haraam; and that it is a type of magic. A tradition of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) in Ihtejaj also mentions that creating illusions is a kind of sorcery. Another form of this magic consists of the perceived effect being a reality and not an illusion. The magicians of Firon used both the methods with Hazrat Musa (a.s.). First they created an illusion, then they switched over to actual sorcery. Apart from these there are many other kinds of magics and tricks; but we need not go into details.

It has been narrated about Abu Hafs Hadaad that when he was a young man he had fallen in love with a lady. He was so enchanted by her that he was prepared to do anything to acquire her. Someone told him that there was a magician Jew in Nishapur and he would be able to fulfill his wishes. He went to the Jew and told him about his desires. The magician told him to abstain from prayers and other good deeds for forty days so that he can make his magic work for him. Abu Hafs returned from there and acted upon the instigation of the sorcerer.

After the forty days had elapsed Abu Hafs went to the Jew again and told him that so far the magic had not worked. The magician was also surprised and he told Abu Hafs that he must have done at least one good deed in those forty days that has nullified the magic. Abu Hafs pondered, and said that as far as he remembered he had not done a single good action except that he had picked up a stone from the path so that it may not maim a traveller. "That was it!" The magician exclaimed, "Though you disobeyed God these forty days and did not fulfill any obligation, yet He is such a Merciful God that He accepted even such a small deed from you and prevented the magic to work for you. So, it is not appropriate for you to disobey such a generous God."

The words of the magician had such effect on Abu Hafs that he repented for his misdeeds and became absorbed in worship and sought forgiveness from Allah. He became so pious that eventually he was bestowed miraculous power by the Almighty.

The powers of the magician are limited

When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) had described the different varieties of magic to the one who had posed a question, the person asked Imam (a.s.) if it was possible for a magician to transform a human being into a dog or a pig etc.? Imam (a.s.) said,
"The magician cannot do this, because if he can transform the creations of Allah he will become a partner of Allah in His creation whereas no one can be a partner to Allah."

If the magician had such vigors he would have got rid of his own senility, difficulties and maladies and would not have allowed his hair to gray and would have removed his own poverty.

Actually the most dangerous kind of magic is that which causes differences between two friends. It creates hatred and malice between those who love each other. Such discord and dissension can also be created by instigating people against each other. The two are closely inter-related.

Taskheraat (controlling jinns etc.)

Taskheraat can be defined as the method of controlling Angels, Jinns, souls or various wild animals. This is also Haraam and considered a form of sorcery. The Shaykh has also mentioned in Makasib that all the characteristics of magic and sorcery are present in Taskheraat. Although Shahid-e-Awwal and Shahid-e-Thani consider magic haraam because it does harm to others, they may have also considered that the fact the process of controlling angels and jinns causes them much sufferings.

Qayafa (Guess)

Qayafa is the art of determining the lineage of an individual. A person practicing Qayafa can decide whether a particular individual is the son or brother of another. But this practice is against the doctrine of Islam for establishing lineage and it is a kind of magic, therefore it is haraam in view of all the jurists. On the other hand it is possible for a knowledgeable and wise person to ascertain certain facts regarding an individual on the basis of his physical characteristics. This practice is not haraam. Many unaccustomed episodes have been narrated on the basis of such knowledge.

An interesting incident is mentioned in Al Kafi as well as the eleventh volume of Behaar. During the time of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Ali bin Huraira was a governor of the Abbasid Caliph. He had a slave named Rafeed. One day he was so angry with Rafeed that he decided to kill him. Rafeed ran away and took refuge with Imam Sadiq (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) told him to go back to his master and say that Imam (a.s.) has ordered him to spare his life, as he has taken refuge with Imam (a.s.). Rafeed was horrified but Imam (a.s.) insisted that he go back. So Rafeed obeyed and when he was on his way he met an Arab, who said, "Where are you going? Your face is that of a dead man." Then he told Rafeed to show his hand. Again he remarked that the hands were of a person who has been killed. He looked at the legs and passed the same judgement. He said that his complete body was that of a person who has been murdered. Then he asked him to show his tongue. Upon seeing the tongue he remarked, "No harm will come to you because your tongue is that of an envoy and it carries such a message that if you were to go to huge mountains they would become soft, and become obedient to you."

Rafeed says that when he came to his master Ali bin Huraira, he at once gave the orders for his execution. His hands were tied and an executioner moved towards him with a naked sword. Then he told his master that it was not he who had got him arrested, but that he himself had returned to him. He also requested him to listen to what he had to say in privacy. He agreed to the appeal and Rafeed told him, "Ja'far bin Muhammad (a.s.) the master of both of us has sent you salaam and requested you to spare my life." When he heard this he could not believe it. Rafeed repeated it to him under oath. He at once freed him and asked his forgiveness. He insisted that his hands be tied in the same way by Rafeed. Rafeed could not make himself do this; but upon insistence he tied his hands and untied them quickly. Then he gave his seal ring to Rafeed and set him free.

Similarly, Shaykh Sadooq has related from Hisham that he went with Imam Musa bin Ja'far (a.s.) to a slave trader who had come from the west. Imam (a.s.) selected a slave girl but the trader refused to sell her. The next day Hisham went alone and bought the slave girl at a higher price according to Imam's instructions. The slave trader asked him who was that man who had accompanied him the other day. Hisham acted under Taqayya and said he didn't know much, but that he was from the Bani Hashim. The slave trader said, "When I had purchased this slave-girl from a far away site in the west and was carrying her with me, a woman stopped me and asked where I was taking her. I said I had purchased her for myself. She said the girl was not made for me. She was destined for a man who was the best of the people in the world and in the near future she will give birth to a son to whom the west and east will be subservient."

In keeping with the prediction, the slave girl gave birth to Imam Reza (a.s.). 

Astronomy and Meteorology

Predictions regarding future events; i.e. price fluctuations of grain, its shortage and abundance, the scarcity and intensity of rain and all other types of good and bad happenings; based on the knowledge of the effect of heavenly bodies on earth is known as meteorology. It is permitted if the one who is predicting only considers them a possibility but not a certainty because the final authority for all cause and effect lies with Allah. Thus there is no harm in predicting the solar and lunar eclipses and the position of stars etc. because such predictions are based on complicated calculations and such predictions are usually true unless there is a mistake in calculation. The movement of the heavenly bodies follows well-defined laws and principles, hence there is hardly any chance of a wrong prediction.

On the other hand to predict future events with a belief that only the stars and heavenly bodies (without any Divine will) govern them is Haraam and a kind of magic.

The Shaykh has concluded his discussion in Makasib by stating that predictions are of four types:
1) It is not Haraam to predict the future position of heavenly bodies and other phenomena like the solar and the lunar eclipse etc.

2) It is also permitted to predict an occurrence if it is caused by the influence of the movement of stars or by the heavenly bodies coming near the earth but it must not be considered a phenomenon independent of the Divine will. It should be looked upon as the will of Allah. In other words one should say that 'when the comet etc. passes near Earth such a thing will happen by the permission of Allah.' The stars must not be considered the sole cause of the phenomena. Even if one makes such predictions by experience and without any scientific knowledge; it is allowed. One who has previous experience can predict that it will rain at night when his pet dog comes down from the terrace and comes inside the house, because this had happened before. Hence the past experience enables some to predict a future event.

3) To attribute the future events solely to the influence of heavenly bodies is considered Haraam by all the jurists. Numerous traditions denounce these kinds of predictions.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who believes an astrologer and soothsayer has disbelieved in whatever was disclosed upon Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Accursed is the astrologer and accursed is the soothsayer and accursed is the magician."

When Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was proceeding for the battle of Nahrawan one of his men who was an expert in astrology restrained him saying, "If you go at this time, I fear that you will not succeed in your aim."

Ali (a.s.) told him that if he thought he could predict the auspicious and the inauspicious times of departure with accuracy, he was in error and said,
"Whoever believes your prediction has denied the Quran." (Because according to Quran success and defeat all are subservient to Divine will). If a person has faith in the astrologer he will not seek Divine help and assistance when the prediction is favourable for him. In this way he will not give Sadqa nor pray for success and will eventually conclude that Allah controls nothing; thus he would become a disbeliever.

If an astronomer predicts with the belief that his predictions are subject to the final will of Allah then there is no harm for one to pray to the Almighty for success when the prediction is good; and in case of an unfavourable prediction invoke Allah for safety.

1) Khwaja Nasiruddin Tusi during one of his journeys stayed for the night at a water mill. The water mill was situated outside the town. Since it was a hot evening the Khwaja decided to sleep in the open. The mill-owner told him that it would rain that night. The Khwaja looked at the sky but could not make out any sign of rain. The mill-owner said, "I have a pet dog who comes down to the house when it is to rain at night." Khwaja did not heed his advice and spent the rainy night in open but he was much amused by the incident.

Four types of beliefs

1) To believe that stars are the supreme controllers of the world is Haraam. A person who has such a belief is a Kafir whether he denies the creator or not. All the jurists are unanimous in this regard.

2) To believe that the heavenly bodies have been bestowed by Allah the power to control the world is not Kufr but it is a foolish notion because we have no proof that the inanimate stars have any intelligence or will to influence the world.

3) The third type of belief is when a person admits that the stars have no intelligence and will power but says that Allah has decreed that when the position of the stars will be such, the following event will take place. It is the law of causation like when fire is brought near something it burns it. Though such a belief is proved correct most of the time, reason does not accept it to be unchangeable.

4) To predict future events on the basis of heavenly occurrences is not Haraam according to most of the scholars. For example if the moon and Saturn come in a line there would be a good rainfall. To interpret such heavenly phenomena is not Haraam but such interpretations can be accurately given only by the Infallibles (a.s.). What the meteorologists predict is based on an incomplete part of this knowledge. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) remarks:
"The complete knowledge of stars cannot be acquired and incomplete knowledge is of no benefit."
(Wasaelush Shia)

After enumerating the different types of astrological sciences, Shaykh Ansari says, "All these traditions imply that whatever the astrologers predict is based on deficient knowledge. They only conjecture and guess on the basis of a little knowhow. People who consult them are rarely satisfied by their predictions but it is possible that he may have experience regarding a particular event and may make an accurate prediction. Hence it is better to refrain from consulting such people and if they make a prediction, one should say, 'It is only a possibility.'"

The prediction did not materialise

The deficiency and inaccuracy of astrological predictions can be gauged from the doubts and wrong predictions of the astrologers. The books of history are replete with such examples. In the second volume of Tatmatal Muntahi it is mentioned that in 582 A.H. seven stars came together in one constellation. Abul Fazl Khwarizmi and other astronomers gave the prediction that the whole world will be destroyed in a cyclone. The people took shelter in the caves and protective spots and also stored their rations to escape the fury of the cyclone. At last the predicted date of 9th of Jamadi ul Aakhar arrived but there was no sign of any cyclone. Not even a soft wind blew. People lit candles and they burnt without even being blown out by a breeze. The poets jumped to the amusing occasion and composed couplets on this incident.

A few years ago there was a similar threat that had the people of the whole world worried. It was predicted that the whole earth would be shaken due to the impact of the collision of a meteor. Some people dived underwater to escape the shock but nothing happened at the appointed time. (The meteor missed the earth by thousands of miles).

Magic and miracles are of two types

If a person is able to perform extraordinary acts due to his excessive piety and abstinence it is known as Karamat but if the said person is a Prophet or an Imam, he is bestowed with this high station by the Almighty and subject to three conditions his act will be construed as a miracle (Mojiza).

1) His claim should be acceptable to reason but if his claim is illogical, whatever action he performs is magic whether one can perceive the mechanics of this act or not. For example it is an accepted fact by every Muslim that prophethood came to an end with Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and that his shariah will be in force till Qiyamat; there will be no prophet after him. Hence if someone claims that he is a prophet; his extraordinary acts to prove his claim will not be believed. He would be a cunning magician. Or a person claims Imamat, when according to the proven belief of Shias there are only twelve Imams. The first being Hazrat Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.), and the last Hazrat Hujjat ibnil Hasan (a.s.), who will remain in occultation till the time of his reappearance. Hence the claimant will be an imposter even if he exhibits some mysterious act. Similarly is the position regarding the special representatives of Imam (a.s.) who were four, the last being Ali ibn Muhammad Saymori. If someone comes and says that he is a special representative (Naib-e-Khaas) he cannot be believed and whatever 'miracles' he shows will be considered magical tricks.

2) The person should possess the necessary qualification for being a prophet or an Imam. For example one of the necessary quality of a Prophet or Imam is infallibility (Ismat). That is, he must not commit either a greater or a lesser sin before his declaration or after it. He must be the most righteous and knowledgeable person of his time. One of the signs of such a character is his indifference to material wealth. Thus if there is a claimant who commits sins and lacks knowledge and covets material wealth, then if he exhibits special acts, they are merely magic.

3) It is necessary that the extraordinary act performed by the incumbent should be through the might and power of the Almighty. If he uses some tools and instruments or if he undertakes training for performing the said acts it is obvious that they are not miracles. Miracles are performed by the power of Allah and do not require prior practice and training. This aspect has been analysed in great detail in scholastic theology.

Countering magic

Many jurists are of the opinion that countering one magic spell by another is permitted. If an imposter claims prophethood by performing magical tricks; magic can be used to expose his falsehood. Or if a sorcerer casts a spell on someone or binds him, it is permitted to break this spell and unbind the victim with the help of magic.

It is related that Isa bin Saqafi came to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and said, "May my life be sacrificed for you, I am a magician and magic is my occupation. With the earnings of magic I have even performed the Hajj and now the Almighty has honoured me by your meeting but now I am regretful of my deeds; is there any way I can achieve salvation? Imam (a.s.) said, "Untie and do not tie." The apparent meaning of Imam's remark is that he can use his powers to counteract the magical spells of others magicians but he must not himself initiate sorcery. Some jurists are of the opinion that magic can be used only under special circumstances when there is no other alternative. Initially invocations and amulets must be tried to nullify magical spells.

Let us look at a couple of such incidents in the book Behaarul Anwaar.

A person came to Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and complained that a spell has been cast on him. Ali (a.s.) told him to write the following dua on the skin of deer and keep it with him so that the spell may not affect him:
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In the Name of Allah and by Allah. In the Name of Allah and as Allah willed. In the Name of Allah. There is no power or might except by Allah. Musa (a.s.) said Allah shall soon falsify the magic of those who have come with magic. Indeed Allah does not improve the affairs of transgressors. Then the truth became manifested and falsified what they had done. The truth triumphed and they were disgraced.

Moreover he advised reciting the following dua seven times to safeguard against magic and the tyranny of the ruler. The same dua can be recited seven times after Namaz-e-Shab and before the morning prayers. It will protect one from the evils of magic:
BäÀó¸ò" ó½ä¨æVäà äË ò¹æÎêaòBøI òºäfåzä§ ífåräÄäm êÉé}¼"ABøI äË êÉé}¼"A øÁænøI

òBÀåNæÃòA òBÄêMBäÍFøI BäÀó¸æÎò"êA äÆæÌó¼êväÍ òÝò¯ BçÃBòñó¼åm

äÆæÌåJê"Bäô"A BäÀó¸ä¨äJéìMA øÅä¿ äË

In the Name of Allah and by the help of Allah. Soon We shall strengthen your hand by your brother. And appoint for you a force. By which their mischief would not harm you. Move ahead with our signs. You and your followers shall triumph.

In the book Qasasul Ulama there is an anecdote of the period of Abbas the Safawid. A Christian king sent a messenger to Abbas with the message that he may be given a chance to debate with Muslim scholars and if he defeats the Muslim scholars they must all accept Christianity. Now the person sent by the Christian king had some powers by which he was able to guess accurately what others held in their fists. The scholars were invited to debate with him and they included Mulla Mohsin Faiz. When the debate began Mulla Mohsin remarked that the Christian king has sent an ordinary man instead of a religious scholar for debate. The envoy brushed the remark aside and told him to hide something in his fist so that he can prove his miraculous powers.

Mulla Mohsin kept the tasbih made of dust from Imam Husain (a.s.)'s grave in his fist and challenged him to guess. The man thought for sometime but kept quiet. When Mulla urged him to speak up he said, "According to my knowledge there is a piece of Paradise soil in your hand but I am astonished as to where it was and how it came into your hands."

Mulla Mohsin said, "You are correct! It is the dust from the grave of Imam Husain (a.s.) who was the grandson of our Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Your statement itself proves that the Imam of Muslims was on the right. Hence, you must accept Islam."

The Christian followed his conscience and became a Muslim. A very suitable method was employed by the late Mulla Faiz to guide the Christian towards salvation. But it must be kept in mind that even under circumstances like the one described, where the person proved superior to the Christians who had extraordinary powers, it is necessary that the person has the three necessary qualifications described earlier, otherwise he is nothing but a sorcerer. 

The thirty-second sin, which has been mentioned in the Quran and traditions as a Greater sin, is Israaf or wasteful expenditure. It is enumerated among the Greater Sins in the tradition of Fazl Ibne Shazaan from Imam Reza (a.s.) and also in the tradition of Amash from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). The Quranic verses and traditions, both, confirm that wasteful expenditure is a Greater sin. First we shall quote these ayats and traditions and then delve into the various aspects of this sin. The Holy Quran says,
"…and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant."
(Surah Araaf 7:31)

The above ayat suffices to show the dislike of Almighty Allah for the extravagant people. According to some exegesists of the Quran one who is not loved by Allah is doomed to perdition because the love of Allah implies Divine rewards.

According to Tafseer Majmaul Bayan, Bakhti Shoa was the personal physician of Haroon al-Rashid. He was a Christian. One day he asked Waqidi, "Does your Holy book contain any medical knowledge?" Waqidi replied, "The Almighty Allah has condensed the complete medical knowledge in a single verse,
"...And eat and drink and be not extravagant."

"Did your Prophet mention anything about this branch of knowledge?" asked the physician.
"Yes," said Waqidi, "he has described the medical sciences in a brief sentence.

'The stomach is the house of pain and abstinence is the most important medicine. Everyone should be given the amount (of food) he needs.'"

Upon hearing this, the Christian remarked, "Your Book and your Prophet have not omitted anything from medical science and Galen (the Greek physician) had nothing more to say."

The Almighty Allah says in the Quran,
"...eat of its fruit when it bears fruit, and pay the due of it on the day of its reaping, and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant."
(Surah Anaam 6:141)

A verse in Surah Momin states,
"Thus does Allah cause him to err who is extravagant, a doubter."
(Surah Momin 40:34)

Similarly,
"...the extravagant are the inmates of the fire."
(Surah Momin 40:43)

Also,
"And thus do We recompense him who is extravagant and does not believe in the communication of his Lord; and certainly the chastisement of the Hereafter is severer and more lasting."
(Surah Taha 20:127)

Allah the Almighty again says,
"...and do not squander wastefully, surely the squanderers are the followers of the shaitans and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:26-27)

Tafseer Minhaj cites the extravagance and prodigality of the pre-Islamic Arabs. When the rich among them invited someone for dinner, they slaughtered several camels to show off their wealth. The Almighty Allah has denounced their extravagance and has said that they squander their wealth like the insane.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Certainly, moderation is liked by Allah and He dislikes extravagance; even in the throwing away of a date-seed, because that too can be used (Arabs feed date-seeds to camels). And the same is with the throwing away of water left after drinking." (Because even this can be put to some use).
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Imam (a.s.) has also said:
"Fear Allah and be not extravagant nor miserly. Be moderate. Verily, extravagance is waste. The Almighty Allah says, 'And do not waste!' Certainly Allah has never punished the people who practise moderation."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

It means that the Divine punishment is reserved for both the squanderer as well as the miser. Bushr Ibne Umar says, "I went to Imam Sadiq (a.s.) and he placed some dates before us. We began to eat the dates and some of us were throwing away the seeds. He stopped them and said,
'This is waste, Allah does not like corruption.'"
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

In a tradition, from the book Faqih, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) describes the various prohibited acts and states that the house one builds extravagantly and for show-off will be raised to seven floors by the Almighty Allah on the Day of Qiyamat. Allah will kindle that building and make it into a necklace and place it on the neck of that person. Then He will toss him into the fire. The people requested the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to explain how a person can build a house for show-off. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) explained that it denotes a house, which is more than needed, and one that is constructed to show the superiority of the owner over other Muslim brothers.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"Whenever Allah intends goodness from His servants, He reveals to him to live moderately and spend his life in the best way and keeps him away from extravagance and prodigality."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Do you think if Allah has bestowed someone with wealth, it is because he is His beloved? And if He has given less to someone it is because he is low? No! It is not so. Whatever wealth is there, it all belongs to Allah. Allah gives it to whomsoever He wishes as a trust and He has permitted the trustee to eat, drink, wear clothes, marry, and ride from it, (but) in moderation. If he has excess he must distribute it among the poor and fulfill their needs. Then whoever follows the Divine commands, whatever he has eaten, drunk, worn, married and riden in moderation; all this is lawful for him and if he does not act upon it, everything is Haraam."

Then Imam (a.s.) recited the ayat,
"And do not be extravagant, Allah does not love the squanderers."

Then he continued,
"Do you think it proper that a person purchases from the wealth which Allah has entrusted him, a horse costing 10,000 dirhams when he could have bought an animal worth 20 dirhams?; and it would have sufficed for him. Or if he purchase a slave-girl at a cost of a thousand dirhams when he could have got one in twenty dinars and quite sufficient for him? When the Almighty says,
'Do not spend wastefully.'
(One who wastes and squanders money has done Khayanat in the trust of Allah).
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Abbasi says that he asked Imam Reza (a.s.) as to how much he should spend on his family? Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Between the two which are disliked."

I said, "I don't know what those two are?"
"Certainly Allah hates extravagance and He hates miserliness."

Imam (a.s.) then recited the ayat,
"And (the people are) those who are neither extravagant nor miserly. They are the moderate (people)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said that if a person is extravagant and later becomes poor due to it, his invocations will not be accepted. Then if he says "O Allah grant me health," Allah (a.j.) says, "Had I not ordered you moderation?" 

The meaning of extravagance and its types

Extravagance means crossing the limits or spending wastefully. It depends upon circumstances. For example, spending on something useless is Haraam, even if it is only a single dirham. Spending unduly even for a proper ocassion is extravagance. If a dress of one hundred rupees is good enough one should not purchase a dress costing five hundred. According to certain scholars spending at the wrong place is squandering and spending more than necessary is extravagance.

Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says,
"The extravagant have three qualities; he eats more than required, he wears more than is suitable for him and buys things needlessly."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"If you wear a formal dress where it is not required, it is extravagance."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Extravagance depends upon the capacity of every person

It is necessary to know that extravagance depend upon the honour and respect of different people, their health and sickness, youth and old age, poverty and affluence, income levels etc. It is possible that an expensive dress may not constitute extravagance for a person who can afford the same and who holds a respectable position in society. Whereas for one who is not having the same position and income, wearing the same dress will constitute extravagance.

Kulayni (r.a.) has recorded a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"There are some poor people who squander more than the rich. Because the rich squander from the wealth Allah has given whereas the poor squander what they have not."
(Furu Al Kafi)

Thus such poor people are always involved in economic problems and debts. They do not consider their circumstances and spend beyond their means. This is extravagance. It is a result of competing with those who are more affluent. In trying to keep up with them one indulges in extravagance and spends ones life in misery, sorrow and grief. If instead people look at those who are less privileged than them, as ordered by Islam, they would never fall prey to wasteful expenditure. Thus, bankruptcy is often caused by extravagance. If people obey the rules of Islam and act with common sense and reason, they will always practice moderation and keep aloof from this sin; they will be satisfied with whatever they have and live within their means. Consequently, they will enjoy the goodness of this world and the Hereafter.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"No one can taste true belief till he cultivates three qualities
1. Love of the knowledge of religious rules and regulations.
2. Patience in calamities and
3. Realistic estimation of his expenses."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"When a person practices moderation I guarantee that he will never become destitute."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Three things facilitate salvation: Fearing Allah, practising moderation in poverty and affluence, to say only the rightful thing even when angry or displeased."
(Safinatul Behaar)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains the ayat
"We will certainly make him live a happy life."
(Surah Nahl 16:97)

and says that,
"'A happy life' is contentment."

Abu Zar repels greed

Uthman gave two hundred gold coins to his servants and told them to take them to Abu Zar and say, "Uthman has sent you his salaam with a request to accept these coins. You can use them for your needs."

When the servants brought the gold coins to Abu Zar and conveyed Uthman's message he asked, "Has Uthman given a similar amount to every Muslim?"

"'No", they replied
"Then am I superior to all the Muslims to be given these?"

The servants told him, Uthman has said that, "these gold coins are from his personal property and by Allah they are Halaal."

"I do not need them because I am needless," said Abu Zar.

"But we don't see anything in your house, that shows you are needless?"

Abu Zar pointed towards a utensil and said, "There are two pieces of barley bread in it and hence I am needless."
(Safinatul Behaar)

In another narration of the same type, Muawiya sent two of his slaves with some money for Abu Zar and when Abu Zar refused to accept them, the slaves said, "O Abu Zar! Muawiya had promised to free us if you accept the money. Please accept it for our sake."

Abu Zar said, "If I take them you would be free from Muawiya's slavery but I will become his slave, because then I will be forced to obey him." (It would be the same as selling my religion for material wealth).

Sayyad Abu A'laa Maududi writes in his book, Islam and the Economic Problems that all the evils in the world are due to the wasteful expenditure of rich people and their vain pastimes. These people consider extra-marital sex a necessity. Due to this thousands of women become morally corrupt; thousands of men shamelessly commit debauchery. These people consider singing, dancing, music, acting etc. as necessary entertainments. Hence they have bought over the various professionals of these vices and the entertainment industry has bloomed. More and more people being baited to these vices. Thus, the number of dancers, actors and prostitutes increase by the day.

This has resulted in the development of entertainments, which are not at all necessary for respectable people. On the contrary such vices are destroying morals and basic human values. Even sports and excursions have been commercialised into wealth ammassing business. Misguided people have instigated a section of society to indulge in producing wines, drugs and other intoxicants. The devastating effect of which on society are only too prominent. They spend their money in building posh apartments, giving lavish parties. They spend exhorbitantly on jewellery, dresses, paintings etc. The height of their wasteful expenditure is reflected in the special rooms for their dogs and the golden collars and lashes with which they adorn their pets.

In the face of such wasteful expenditure are the destiutes and deprived masses who cannot have even their basic needs fulfilled. The Qaroons (profligates) have acted blatantly against humanity and against the principles of Islam by their wasteful expenditure. If only they had used their excess wealth for alleviating poverty and fufilling the needs of the poor, they would have done a service to humanity.

As pointed out earlier extravagance depends on the capacity of a person and what is extravagance for a poor man may not be considered lavishness for a rich man. However, it does not mean that the affluent people are free to spend their wealth in any way they like. Most certainly they cannot spend on anything which is haraam. In fact the rules that apply to the rich are very strict indeed.

When they have been bestowed with wealth and affluences they have to inhabit a manner suitable to their status. Whatever amount remains is not for hoarding. Any excess wealth has to be utilised in the manner stated by religion. It is obligatory to deduct Khums (1/5) of the extra wealth and distribute it to those who are qualified for it. One must also pay Zakat when it is obligatory.

If a person has some close relatives who are poor he has to give them some amount otherwise he will be culprit of Qat-e-Rahem. If some of his surplus money is needed by his destitute and poor relations, he must help them. If they are in debt he must help them repay the debts. If they are sick he should provide medicines for them and provide the other necessities of life. In fact, if he is aware of any Muslim who needs monetary help and he does not help him, he will be like the one depicted in the following words of Quran,
"...and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's way, announce to them a painful chastisement. On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of Hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded."
(Surah Tauba 9:34-35)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) explains,
"If a person hoards wealth and does not fulfill the rights (if he sees a poor and needy person and he does not spend it in the way of Allah); then on the Day of Qiyamat he will be branded with it and it will be told to him, 'This is your wealth which you collected with miserliness.'"
(Tafseer al-Mizan)

Numerous ayats and traditions have emphasised spending in the way of Allah and prohibited against hoarding of wealth. The former is considered most deserving of Divine rewards and the latter earns degrading punishment. However, if we quote these verses and narrations we would be straying from our topic.

It would not be out of place to mention a few facts of the modern world. Some rich people, who feel they are Muslims, hoard up all their surplus wealth in foreign banks, in secret accounts. Only when they exit from the world do we learn of their legacies. Allah knows how they shall justify their actions. If they offer the excuse of ignorance of the matter they will be confronted with the question as to why did they not try to learn about religion, attend majlis, lectures etc?

If they had known everything why did they not act upon it. It is a pity that these wealthy people do not realise that spending in the way of Allah is the most appropriate utility of their wealth. It is the only beneficial way to spend it. The money spent in the way of Allah has been called as the 'righteous wealth' by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). The person who spends in the way of Allah will deserve praises in this world and also earn the eternal rewards of the Hereafter. Those who do not, will be fraught with regret and harshness, forever.

Extravagance depends on prevailing conditions at different times

Extravagance differs from person to person, it also depends on the prevailing conditions. It is possible that spending a undeniable quantity may not be extravagance in times of prosperity but if a similar amount is spent in times of famine when people are starving to death, it will be counted as lavishness and squandering. It would be obligatory for those people to avoid spending like in normal times and instead distribute that wealth among those who are in need.

Moatab, a servant of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, "There was an acute shortage of food when Imam (a.s.) asked me, 'What is the position of our stocked grains?'

'We have sufficient to last us months,' I replied. Imam (a.s.) said,
'Take it out and sell it.'

I said, 'There is a shortage of wheat and barley in Madinah.' But Imam (a.s.) insisted I sell it.

When I had sold it all, Imam (a.s.) told me that I should buy the daily requirements from the market like the common people and said,
'Fix a diet of half wheat and half barley for my family, Allah knows that I am capable of feeding them all pure wheat bread but I like it that Allah sees me fulfilling duties of my life faithfully.'"

The same order applies to the matter of dressing. Some stupid people have accused Imam Sajjad (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.) for wearing fine clothes whereas their fathers, grandfathers, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) all wore humble clothes. The Holy Imams (a.s.) have always refuted this accusation by saying that those times were different. In those days the majority of the people dressed in very ordinary clothes but now there was prosperity and affluence in society.

"If we were to wear the same types of clothes today, people would insult us."
(Wasaelush Shia)

In an incident connected with the same subject we find Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) asking his critic to come near. When he came near, Imam (a.s.) opened his outward garment and the man saw an old tattered shirt inside. Imam (a.s.) said,
"This is the dress I wear to show humility to Allah and the other (outward) dress is for you and people like you to see."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Extravagance that is haraam at all times

We must know that three types of extravagance are Haraam at all times and in all circumstances. Its prohibition is not conditional. The first variety of extravagance is when a person spends something wastefully; even if the thing wasted is of not much significance; like throwing the date seed away when it could be put to some use. Or throwing away water left over after drinking when there is a shortage of water and someone else could have used the same. Tearing up and throwing away old clothes is also a waste; because they can be given to people who are less privileged. Having a light on when there is enough sunlight. Handing over something valuable to a child or a foolish person who does not understand its value; and who will spoil the same. All these are a kind of wasteful expenditure or extravagance.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) saw some half-eaten fruits that had been thrown out of a house. He said,
"What have you done? If your bellies are full there are many people as yet unsatiated. So you should give it to those needy people."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Whatever is left after eating must never be thrown away. Very many traditions have emphasised on the giving away of leftovers to animals, especially leftover bread.

During the time of Prophet Daniyal wastage of bread was rampant. The people used to throw away the leftover bread and it could be seen lying everywhere on the streets. Prophet Daniyal invoked Divine punishment for these people and hence they were inflicted with such a severe famine, that they were prepared to eat each other.

The book Wasaelush Shia has mentioned that once Imam Baqir (a.s.) entered the toilet and saw a piece of bread lying on the floor. He picked it up and handed it over to his slave. When he had finished, he called the slave to produce that piece of bread. The slave said that he had cleaned it properly and then ate it. Imam (a.s.) said,
"I emancipate you in the way of Allah."

The Imam (a.s.) was told, "The slave had not performed any such deed that he deserved to be freed?"

Imam (a.s.) said,
"It was because he had respected a great bounty, like bread and ate it; hence Paradise became
occupant upon him. I do not like to enslave a person for whom Allah has ordained Paradise."

A similar type of tradition has been narrated from the Chief of the Martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.).

As regards the wastage of clothes we have already quoted a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) where he has remarked about the wearing of fine clothes in common place situations. He (a.s.) himself wore the fine clothes to suit his eminent position.

Eating or drinking harmful things is also a waste

The second type of extravagance is spending on eatables and drinks that cause harm to the body, like eating when one is already full. It is harmful to eat on a full stomach and it is a waste. However, spending upon those things, which are good for the body, is not Israaf.

Al Kafi has a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). One of his followers approached him and said, "When we head for Mecca (for Hajj) we have to halt at a point to wear the Ehraam and we also feel the need to anoint our bodies with a pack made from flour husk. Since we do not have flour husk we use flour instead, but it makes me feel very guilty; though our Lord knows better."

Imam (a.s.) said,
"Whatever is necessary for the body is not Israaf. Quite often we mix sieved flour with olive oil and apply it to our body."

The narrator then asked Imam (a.s.) to distinguish extravagance from stinginess. Imam (a.s.) told him,
"Bread, meat, milk, vinegar and ghee; whatever you wish you can eat. But do not eat all of them at one time."

Spending on haraam things is Israaf

The third type of extravagance or wastage is spending on things and vices that are haraam according of Shariah. Like purchasing wine or purchasing items used in gambling; paying to singers or prostitutes, bribing government officials, spending money to obtain unlawful gains or usurping someone else's property by force, paying for oppressing a Muslim. All these ways of spending are Israaf. One who indulges in these activities commits two wrongs; one is the action itself and secondly he is also guilty of Israaf.

Tafseer of Ayyashi records a tradition through Abdul Rahman bin Hajjaj who asked Imam (a.s.) the meaning of ayat,
"And do not squander wastefully."

Imam (a.s.) said,
"If one spends in any other way than what Allah has ordered, it is squandering and if one spends in the way of Allah, it is moderation."

Charity is never extravagance

Some of the ayats that deal with the subject of charity emphasise it to such an extent that if one gives away all his belongings while he himself is in need of them, he has not been extravagant. On the contrary it is one of the recommended actions and is liked by Allah. As the following ayat of Quran states:
"...and prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones."
(Surah Hashr 59:9)

Preferring others to ourselves means that even though we are in need of something that we have, we give it to someone else who also needs it. We prefer to fulfill the other person's needs rather than our own. This is the spirit of sacrifice mentioned in the Holy Quran. In another place we have,
"And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive..."
(Surah Insan 76:8)

Majority of the Mufassireen (commentator of Quran) agree that the above verse was revealed in praise of Ali (a.s.), Fatemah Zahra (s.a.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.) and their maid, Fizza when they had fasted for three days consecutively and every day at the time of breaking the fast they gave the bread in the way of Allah and contended themselves by ending the fast with plain water.

A person enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "What is the best charity?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"One who himself does not possess anything but toils and earns and gives it in the way of Allah. Have you not seen the ayat of Quran:
"And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive...?"
(Al Kafi)

A report from a Sunni narrator Asim bin Kaleeb is mentioned in Tafseer Minhajus Sadeqeen. He reports that a beggar came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and requested him for something. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) sent someone to his residence to get something for the beggar but he was informed that there was nothing at home. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced among the companions as to who will render help to this poor man. Ali (a.s.) volunteered, saying,
"This destitute shall be my guest tonight."

He (a.s.) took him home and informed Hazrat Zahra (s.a.) about his condition. Janabe Fatemah Zahra (s.a.) said,
"O Ali! We have food enough for only one person and I had kept it for my daughter Zainab but you may do as you wish."

Imam (a.s.) said, "It would be better to put the children to sleep and put out the lamp because such a less quantity of food will be insulting before the guest."

Janabe Fatemah (s.a.) did as instructed and the food was placed before the guest. He began to eat and the food was not yet finished when he said, "I am full and the Almighty Allah has given barakat in your food." Thus he departed happily.

In another narration it is mentioned that afterwards Ali (a.s.), Janabe Fatemah (s.a.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.), Janabe Fizza and Janabe Zainab satiated themselves with the remaining food and the happenings were reported to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the next day, and the following verse was disclosed:
"...and prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones."
(Surah Hashr 59:9)

It is recorded in Al Kafi that Samaa enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "If a person has just enough food to sustain him for a day, is it incumbent upon him to give from it to a needy person? Or if one has provisions for a month, only enough for him; is he required to give to those who are destitute? Similarly the one who has stocks for a year or any appointed period. Is it in any way incumbent for him to curtail his own needs and give a part of it to the needy? Would he be implicated if he doesn't?

Imam (a.s.) explained,
"There are two aspects of this matter, one is that the best of you are those who do good and prefers others over oneself. They are inclined towards sacrifice and charity. Regarding them Allah says,
"...and prefer (them) over themselves."

The second point is that though one who keeps only the necessary quantity for himself is not blamed, yet the hand of one who gives is better than the hand of one who takes. You must take precedence in helping those who depend upon you."

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"Selflessness is one of the highest degrees of belief."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"There is no goodness in Israaf and there is no Israaf in goodness."
(Safinatul Behaar)

 

 

Unit   80

 

 

We must always practise moderation

In addition to these verses we also have ayats that emphasise moderation in spending. For example:
"And do not make your hand to be shackled to your neck nor stretch it forth to the utmost (limit) of its stretching forth, lest you should (afterwards) sit down blamed, stripped off."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:29)

The above ayat is commanding the believers not to exceed limits in spending, so as to avoid its ramifications. The Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"And they who when they spend, are neither extravagant nor parsimonious, and (keep) between these the just mean."
(Surah Furqan 25:67)

Ibn Abi Umair has related that a person asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of the ayat,
"...and pay the due of it on the Day of its reaping, and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant."
(Surah Anam 6:141)

Imam (a.s.) explained,
"There was a man from the helpers (ansaar) who was a cultivator. When he received his income he spent it all on the helpless and distributed it among the poor. As a result nothing remained for his family. So the Holy Quran has termed it as extravagance and said that he should pay the fixed taxes from farming but he must not be extravagant because Allah did not like extravagant people."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"One who spends all his wealth in charity has certainly done Israaf."
(Faqih)

Reconciling the two types of verses

In order to reconcile the differing verses, the scholars have mentioned some clauses. In the Sharh of Al Kafi we find that according to Tabarsi it is possible that the arguments in favour of selflessness pertain to the times of poverty, for example the initial period of Islam and the recommendation emphasising moderation in charity pertain to prosperous times. Or they may differ according to the economic condition of the one who seeks help, i.e. some people deserve to be helped even by sacrificing ones own needs and there are some people who need not be helped at the cost of ones own needs. It also depends upon the person who is being charitable. If he possesses complete and perfect faith, there is no harm if he exceeds the limits of generosity to fulfill the needs of people, but if an ordinary person donates everything and is himself impoverished, he will not be able to bear it. In this case it is advisable for him to stay within limits in charity. Thus except for the divine personalities and extremely pious people the masses can be said to belong to the latter category. Therefore the ayat,
"And do not make your hand..."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:29)

is addressed to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) but it is meant for the guidance of the common Muslims. Muhammad Ibne Makki was of the opinion that the rules of charity vary with person to person. The traditions, which imply excessive selflessness, are only for those who give their personal belongings to the needy and the traditions that hint a moderation even in charity are meant for those who have wife, children and family etc. Such a person cannot prefer others to his own children. He cannot give away whatever is necessary for his family to other needy people. Sacrifice of our own needs is allowed but it is not permitted to give away the requirements of our family and children. The honourable scholar has also stated that it is makrooh (detestable) for a man to donate his total wealth in charity unless he is sure he will be able to bear the consequences. Also it is necessary that he does not have the responsibility of a family or children.
(Daarus Salaam of Noori)

Sayyed Muhammad Kazim Yazdi also remarks that according to the Holy Quran, sunnat of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the unanimous opinion of the scholars, Israaf is Haraam, there is no objection against this verdict. Israaf is the expenditure on useless things which is considered as wasteful by common sense; whether the amount spent is appropriate to the occasion or not.

Is Israaf possible in charitable deeds? Some of the scholars including Sayyed Muhammad Kazim Yazdi believe that it is possible. Some well-known jurists have stated the contrary. According to the traditions, "There is no goodness in Israaf and no Israaf in goodness." But we should know that the former opinion is more precautionary on the basis of other traditions on this subject.

After quoting the traditions of Ibn Abi Umair and Sahih of Bazanti and other sources, the late Sayyed says, "The ayats and narrations denouncing wasteful expenditure revoke (mansookh) the ayat of selfless sacrifice." Therefore it apears that it is not proper to sacrifice and to give gifts extravagantly which are not appropriate to the status of the donor, or which common sense perceives such generosity to be excessive. There is no logic in giving and taking of such gifts and donations. As mentioned earlier wasteful spending in necessary matters is also prohibited. The only exception being the expenses of Hajj and Umra which are not subject to any limits. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"No spending is more likeable to Allah than one which is moderate and except for over-spending in Hajj, He dislikes all types of extravagance."
(Safinatul Behaar)

No extravagance in charitable acts

The author of the present work is very strongly of the opinion that there is no extravagance in charity. Even if a person gives his total wealth with the intention pleasing Allah and of achieving Divine blessings he does not do anything unacceptable. He justifies his opinion on the basis of a few of the many ayats.

The ayat, "And do not move your hand..." is a lenient prohibition and does not mention the act as Haraam or Makrooh. Also the ayat, "And they who when they spend, are neither extravagant nor parsimonious, and (keep) between these the just mean." may pertain to househld expenditure and not to that which is spent in the way of Allah. It may also mean that those who are not stingy and also not extravagant are the obedient creatures of the Beneficent Lord. As regards the ayat, "eat of its fruit when it bears fruit,...and do not act extravagantly" and "surely He does not love the extravagant..." we can say that both these sentences form a single statement. The tradition, which explains the ayat also shows that the two are interrelated. Though it is true that a person who donates the entire crop in charity and does not keep anything for his family and children certainly commits Israaf. Charity and selflessness is permitted, but feeding and clothing his dependents is Wajib upon him. One who deprives his dependents of the basic needs and gives everything in charity has acted against Divine commands. But if he feels assured that he will be able to fulfill the needs of his family from other sources or that his dependents will not claim their rights from him, it is permitted for him to give everything away for the sake of Allah. This can be supported by the examples from the lives of the Holy Imams (a.s.). For example, Hazrat Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) had time and again performed such sacrifice of his total belongings. Once he sold his orchard for twelve thousand Dirhams and distributed the thorough amount among the poor and needy. He did not save anything for his family, but Ali (a.s.) and other great personalities never deprived their own dependents. Whenever they performed such charitable deeds they had faith in themselves that they would be able to provide their families from some other means. Whatever has been stated with regard to the ayats prohibiting over-spending can also be supported with the tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) wherein he denounced the person who spends all his wealth and dies leaving his minor children destitute and helpless. It is prohibited for a person to spend his thorough wealth in charity when he knows that after him his children will be in need of it. If he leaves a legacy for his children who have no other source of income; the legacy shall also be in the way of Allah.

It is for this reason that drawing a will for more that a third of one's total property is prohibited. It is also commanded for those who have young children to will for less than a third of their wealth.

The traditions of selflessness apply to only special circumstances. Extreme generosity is not prohibited and whatever has been said about the meaning of the ayats explains the tradition of Ibn Abi Umair. The narration of Sahih of Bazanti may imply that, it is not proper to over-spend where Imam (a.s.) has prohibited extravagance. The tradition of Faqih may concern those people who spend in recommended ways, where it is occupant for them not to spend. The tradition of Imam (a.s.) may also be a refutation of the Sufis' assertion that excessive selflessness is incumbent and the Imams (a.s.) have also pointed out that spending for ones family's needs is also like spending in the way of Allah. The words of tradition also imply that moderation in ways of charity is emphasised with a gentle command. In other words over-spending in charity is only a recommended prohibition whereas we are aware of the incomparable charitable acts of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.), and verses that were revealed in the praise of these deeds (The ayat of 'Hal ataa' and the verse of 'Najva'). Moreover, we see that Imam Hasan (a.s.) in his life gave half his wealth in charity to the poor and needy, on three occasions. The charitable deeds of Imam Husain (a.s.) and other Imam (a.s.) are also prominent. Imam Reza (a.s.) donated his total wealth in charity at Khurasan on the day of Arafat. When Fazl ibn Sahl pointed out that Imam (a.s.) has suffered a great loss, Imam (a.s.) replied that,
"Whatever I received as my share is sufficient."

Again on the day of Navroz when he assumed the seat of heir apparent of Mamoon under duress, he gave away all the presents and gifts to a single poet who had recited in praise of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has been reported to have said,
"If all the world becomes my property and becomes a single morsel and I place it in the mouth of a single believer; I will not consider myself extravagant."

Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.) says:
"If all the world becomes a morsel and I give to a true worshipper of Allah I will feel I have not fulfilled his rights completely and if I give even a gulp of water to a starving disbeliever; I consider myself extravagant."

These two narrations expound the fact that even if the whole world is gifted to a sincere and a pious believer it will not be extravagance, because he deserves it.

Numerous instances of selflessness of pious scholars have been recorded. Some of these righteous people have seen the rewards of their charity in their worldly life. Rawzaatul Jannat contains an incident regarding Muhaqqiq Ardebeli that during the times of famine he used to give away to the poor whatever he had. He used to live in poverty himself. One day when he had donated all his possessions his wife became angry with him that he had deprived his children in such times when food was scarce. He left his home and went to the mosque and sat there in Ehtekaaf. An unknown person arrived at the door of his house and handed sacks of wheat and flour saying that master Ardebeli sent it and that he was in Ehtekaaf at the mosque of Kufa. When Muhaqqiq Ardebeli returned home from Ehtekaaf his wife told him that he had sent very fine wheat and flour. When he learnt of the details he realised that it was a Divine favour upon him and fell down in prostration to thank the Almighty. Many times it was seen that the Muhaqqiq left home with an expensive turban but if he encountered a beggar he tore a piece from it and gave it in alms. On numerous occasions he returned home bare-head.

Israaf in belief and actions

Until now we have discussed extravagance in monetary terms but since the dictionary meaning of Israaf is "exceeding limits" and "extremism" the same laws apply to beliefs and actions. Israaf in belief implies believing about oneself or others something that is untrue and inappropriate. For example the belief of Firon that he was God. As he told the people, 'I do not know any of the gods except myself.' The Almighty Allah has mentioned him as 'one who crossed the limits.'

"...surely Firon was lofty in the land; and most surely he was of the extravagant."
(Surah Yunus 10:83)

Regarding those who do not believe in Allah, Prophethood, Imams, Qiyamat etc.

The Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran,
"And thus do We recompense him who is extravagant and does not believe in the communications of his Lord; and certainly the chastisement of the Hereafter is severer and more lasting."
(Surah Taha 20:127)

Performing detestable acts and avoiding advisable deeds is Israaf in action. For example the homosexual inclinations of the people of Prophet Lut (a.s.) have been termed as extravagance:
"Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay, you are an extravagant people."
(Surah Araaf 7:81)

In fact all the sins of actions and speech are a kind of extremism and every sinner is said to have crossed the limits. The Almighty says:
"Say: O my servants! Who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
(Surah Zumar 39:53)

But we must not despair of our deficiencies. If we turn to Allah He shall certainly forgive. We on our part should make a sincere toil not to be wasteful in our daily lives and not to exceed the limits in whatever we are engaged in. Moderation has to be practiced by us even in routine acts like eating, sleeping and talking. As the tradition says,
"Verily Allah hates the one who eats excessively and the one who sleeps excessively."


For those who wish to study the subject in more detail we recommend the book Me'rajus Sa'adat. This book discusses the method of living in accordance with Islamic principles.


source : GREATER SINS/ by Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib
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