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Tuesday 15th of October 2019
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Haste in Repaying Debt is Mustahab (Recommended)

It has been made amply clear that not repaying debt, or returning the rights is haraam and a Greater sin. Depending upon the demand of the creditor and the ability of the debtor it becomes obligatory to repay the debt as soon as possible. Too much divine reward is promised for this.

Allamah Noori has quoted in his book Daarus Salaam an incident from the book Nurul Uyoon. He writes that Sayed Hashmi, the pious and prominent scholar said that he had taken a hundred dinars as loan from a Jew and promised to return them within a period of twenty days. "I returned half the amount to him and then did not see him for some days. People told me that he had gone to Baghdad. One night I dreamt that it was the Day of Qiyamat. I was summoned with the other people to account for my deeds. And Allah, in His Infinite Mercy allowed me to enter Paradise. So I decided to cross the bridge of Sirat as soon as possible. However, the scream of Hell made me fearful. While I was crossing the bridge, all of a sudden my Jew creditor leapt up from below the Hell, engulfed in flames of fire and blocked my way and said, 'Give me 50 Dinar and I'll let you go.' I pleaded to him that I had always been on the look out for him to repay the amount but was unable to find him. He said, 'You are right, but till you repay me you will not be able to traverse this bridge of Sirat.' I said, 'I don't have anything to give.' So in return for his debt he asked me to allow him to put a finger on my body. I gave him the permission and he put his finger on my chest. Just as his finger touched my chest I screamed due to the burning pain and awoke from the dream. The place where the Jew had touched my chest was burnt too." After this he opened his chest to the audience and they saw that there was a terrible wound on it. He said that he was still having it treated, but it did not seem to be cured. When the audience heard all this, they began to wail loudly.

It is also narrated in the 17th volume of Behaarul Anwaar that the First Martyr (Shaheed-e-Awwal) quoted Ahmad bin Abil Jawzi that he said: "It was my wish to see Abu Sulaiman Durrani, who was considered to be a pious and a God-fearing person. Thus, I saw him in a dream after a year of his death. I asked as to how Allah had dealt with him?" He said, "O Ahmed! When I was passing through Baabe Sagheer one day, I saw a camel laden with hay and grass, I plucked a twig from this and do not remember whether I picked teeth with it or threw it away just like that. But a year has passed and I am still occupied in accounting for that twig."

The below Quranic verse also supports this fact:
"O my son! Surely if it is the very weight of the grain of a mustard seed, even though it is in (the heart of) rock, or (high above) in the heaven or (deep down) in the earth, Allah will bring it (to light)..."
(Surah Luqman 31:16)

Thus one who has done an iota of good will see it and one who does an iota of evil will see it on the Day of Qiyamat. In the letter to Muhammad bin Abi Bakr, Ali (a.s.) says, "O creatures of Allah! Know that Allah the Gracious shall question you about your every small and big deed." The following verse is a sufficient proof for this:
"Then one who does an iota of good shall see it and one who does an iota of evil shall see."
(Surah Zilzaal 99:7-8)

It is mentioned in Behaarul Anwaar that Sayyed Hasan bin Sayyed Ali Isfahani said: "At the time of my father's demise I was studying in Najaf-e-Ashraf. The responsibilities of my father fell upon some of my brothers. I was unaware of this fact. Seven months after the death of my father, my mother also passed away at Isfahan. Her last remains were brought to Najaf-e-Ashraf. On one of those nights I saw my father in dream. I asked him that he had died in Isfahan so how did he reach Najaf? He said, "Yes! Though I died in Isfahan, I was given a place in Najaf." I asked if mother was also with him? "She is in Najaf, but in a different house," he replied. So, I surmised that she was not given a position equal to my father. Then I asked him as to how he was. He said that though previously he was in severe pain now by the grace of Almighty he is comfortable. I was surprised that how a pious and religious person like him could suffer pain. He said that it was due to the fact that he was in debt to Haaj Raza the son of Babajoo alias Naalband. "Though he had demanded the payment I was unable to repay it. I was suffering torture for this default." I awoke with a start. I wrote to my brother, the legatee of my father and told him about my dream so that he will make enquiries if my father owed some money to such a person. My brother wrote back that he had gone through all the books of account but could not locate a creditor by that name. Again I wrote to my brother to find this person and ask him directly if he was having a debt upon my deceased father. My brother replied after sometime and said that he had found that person and questioned him about my father's debt. He was told that my father did owe him 18 tomaans but except Allah no one knew about it. He said that after the death of father he had approached my brother and asked him if his name appeared in the list of my father's creditors. When my brother told him that it was not so, he was perturbed as to how my father failed to note down his name among the creditors. Since he did not have any proof he did not see any way to acquire his money. Upon hearing this my brother offered him the amount of outstanding debt. But he refused to accept it. He said that he had already condoned the amount to my late father.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said:
"Oppression is of three types. One that Allah will not forgive, second which is He will forgive and lastly one which he will 'take away'.

1. The oppression Allah will never forgive is Shirk.
2. The oppression that Allah forgives is one that a person does upon himself and it is a sin between that person and Allah.
3. The oppression that Allah 'takes away' is that one that a person does by not repaying his debts.
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has remarked,
"One who is able to satisfy (please) his creditors will certainly enter Paradise without any delay in accounting. He will be in the Garden, in the company of Ismail (a.s.) the son of Ibrahim (a.s.)."
(Mustadrak)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
The debt which is returned by the debtor is more superior to the worship of a thousand years and the emancipation of a thousand slaves and performing Hajj and Umrah a thousand times."
(Mustadrak)

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"If someone restores a single dirham to its rightful owner, the Almighty Allah will save him from the fire of Hell and for each Daniq (1/6 of a DIrham) he will get rewards of a prophet and for each Dirham he will get a palace of Red Pearls (in Paradise)."
(Mustadrak)

He (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"Returning a right to its owner is better than fasting during the day and the prayers of the night. If a person returns a debt an angel cries out from below the Arsh: O servant (of Allah) from the time you began this good deed, Allah has forgiven all your past sins.

Fulfillment of the Rights of People

When a person has something in his possession it can be one of two cases. The first case is the person knows that whatever he has is not fully his own, but a part of it belongs to someone else. The second case is that a person owes another person, but this person has no share in the actual goods or property in possession of the former. For example the thing he had borrowed is already used up but he is in debt to the one who had lent it. In the same way there are various types of sureties and compulsory maintenance that a person is responsible, for these should be disbursed with great care.

The first case includes the following four categories.

a) To know the quantity and the owner.
When it is known that a particular quantity of a thing rightfully belongs to such and such person, it is obligatory to return that same amount to whom it belongs and in case he is dead, to his successors.

b) When the quantity is known but not the owner.
If the exact quantity owed is known but there is a doubt regarding to whom it is owed to the extent that one feels the concerned quantity rightfully belongs to one of three or five people. Then on the basis of precaution it is necessary to satisfy all of these people. If it is not possible to satisfy all of them, then there are three rulings:
1. Lots should be drawn between them and one of them to be given that thing.
2. The goods should be equally distributed among all the possible owners. 3. If the doubt is with reference to a hundred and more people or if the owner is completely unknown then as a precautionary measure, by the permission of Marja-e-Taqleed the holder of these goods should give it away as charity. (Everyone has to follow his own Marja-e-Taqleed in this matter).

c) When the quantity is not known but the owner is.
Under the circumstances that a person knows that he owes some of the goods in his possession to a particular person, but does not know the exact quantity owed, it is incumbent upon him to give at least a third of the goods to the owner. As a precautionary measure he should give something more and satisfy the owner.

d) When both the owner and the exact quantity are unknown.
A person knows that he owes some of the goods he has to someone. It is haraam for him to use these goods, but he does not know the exact quantity of the goods prohibited for him nor its rightful owner. He may consider a few persons as probable owners but he is unaware as to how much of it belongs to whom. In these circumstances it is incumbent on him to give Khums (1/5) on the total goods. After this the rest of the goods or property becomes totally permissible. (For details refer to the section on Khums in the books of Practical Laws).

In the second condition something is owed by a person but it is not in the form of a tangible good or property. There are four circumstances of this type:
1) If the exact quantity and the rightful owner, are known, then without any doubt that quantity has to be returned to the owner.

2) If the exact quantity is known but not a particular owner, and there is doubt between some selected people that it could belong to anyone of them. In this case it is incumbent to satisfy each of them in the way described in the rules regarding tangible goods. But if the doubt is between a large number of people the value of the goods must be given to the Qazi or given as charity by his permission on behalf of the rightful owner.

3) If the value is not known but the person to whom it is owed is known; the duty of the one who owes it is to restore the minimum quantity supposed and also to persuade the owner to forgo the rest of it.

4) When neither the exact quantity nor the owner is known the law states that an estimate has to be made and the average of the minimum and the maximum amount paid as charity after the permission of the Qazi. 

According to the Quran and hadith, to flee from Jehad is a Greater Sin. It is the twenty-seventh sin. The following verse of Surah Anfaal is clear. It concerns running away from a confrontation with unbelievers when they are less than twice the number of Muslims.

"O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, then turn not your backs to them. And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day- unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company then he, indeed, becomes deserving of Allah's wrath and his abode is hell; and an evil destination shall it be."
(Surah Anfaal 8:15-16)

Hazrat Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"Those who flee from the battlefield should know that they have angered their Lord and have damned themselves to destruction because fleeing from the battle causes Allah's anger. And one who flees from the Holy war will be certain to face calamities and eternal degradation and his fleeing will not prevent death, and his life cannot be prolonged. That is, if the time of his death has arrived, his fleeing will not delay it. He will die due to some other reason. On the other hand, if the time of his death has not yet arrived and he participates in Jehad he will not die. Thus it is better for one to pledge his life to Allah rather than live in Allah's anger, degradation and dishonour."

Initiated Jehad and Jehad in defence

Jehad is of two types:
(1) Initiated Jehad
(2) Jehad in defence

The first kind is that when the Muslims undertake a war against the unbelievers to invite them to Islam or for establishing justice. However, the permission of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Holy Imams (a.s.) or their special representatives is a necessary prerequisite of this type of Jehad. Since the present period is of Major occultation this type of Jehad is forbidden.

Jehad in defence, as the name implies, pertains to circumstances when unbelievers attack Muslim territories or areas for obliterating Islamic heritage or for plundering the wealth and honour of Muslims. Under such conditions it is wajib-e-Kifai to undertake Jehad and repel their attack. For this type of Jehad the express permission of the Imam (a.s.) or his special deputy is not necessary.

There is a difference of opinion regarding flight from the battlefield. Some scholars are of the opinion that it pertains only to those wars that have been waged against the unbelievers under the order of the Holy Imam (a.s.) or his special deputy. (For example, exemption from Ghusl and Shroud to the martyr also pertains to this Jehad). Other doctors of religion maintain that the decree applies to both the kinds of Jehad. Those who wish to study this problem in detail can refer to the books of Jehad or the books of jurisprudence.

While discussing the prohibition of flight it would be most appropriate to discuss the steadfastness of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) on the battlefield. Such incidents have been included in discussions extolling the merits of Ali (a.s.). Neither the Shia nor the Sunni historical books mention even a single instance when Ali (a.s.) turned his back to a battle. Even in the battle of Ohud he was the only one who did not flee. In the ninth volume of Behaarul Anwaar, under the chapter of "Bravery" a narration has been recorded from Ibne Masud, concerning Ali (a.s.). Four of those who had run away from the battle of Ohud returned and again came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). They were Abu Dajana, Miqdad, Talha and Musayb. After this the rest of the Ansar came back. Thus it were these people who had deserted the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). All the companions had left the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) alone on the battlefield except Ali (a.s.). Ali (a.s.) was fighting in the midst of the polytheists to defend Islam and the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.).

During the battle of Ahzaab, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) bestowed Ali (a.s.) with the titles of "The vicious attacker" and "the non-receeder." That is, the one who attacks the enemies with vengeance and does not subside an inch. There is no doubt that Ali (a.s.) was imbued with all these qualities. Whereas, history is a witness that other companions like Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman had fled from numerous battlefields like Ohud, Khaibar, Hunain and Dhat-Salaasil. Ibne Abil Hadid the Mutazalite has penned the following couplet in his famous book:
"It is not surprising that Abu Bakr fled from Hunain.

He had also deserted the battle in Khaibar and Ohud." 

The twenty-eighth sin, which is labelled as a Greater Sin, is to become A'araab (Bedouin, gypsy etc) after Hijrat (migration).

It is recorded in Usool-e-Kafi under the chapter of Greater Sins that according to the Sahih of Ibne Mahboob when he wrote a letter to Imam Musa Ibne Ja'far (a.s.) he (a.s.) replied and this sin was included among the Greater Sins. Moreover, Muhammad bin Muslim has quoted Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and stated that he (a.s.) has included this sin among the greater ones. The book of Ali (a.s.) also includes this sin in the list of Greater Sins.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Becoming A'araab after Hijrat and polytheism is one and the same (sin)."
(Usool-e-Kafi chapter of Greater sins)

What does 'becoming A'araab after hijrat' mean?

A'araab refers to the nomadic Arabs or Bedouins who are absolutely ignorant of religion and rituals connected with faith. Hijrat signifies the migration of these desert Arabs to the Muslim centre, their acceptance of Islam at the hands of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or his rightful successor, and their consequent adherence to faith, and adherence to religious rules and regulations.

Becoming A'araab after Hijrat is the condition when a desert Bedouin before acquiring the necessary knowledge of religion turns back to his ignorant ways.

In the early period of Islam it was incumbent upon them to migrate towards the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in order to learn whatever was necessary for being a Muslim. Similarly it was prohibited for Muslims to stay in an area populated mostly with unbelievers; where it was not possible for them to pray and fast and perform other religious duties.

'Why don't you migrate?'

It is recorded in Tafseer Minhajus Saadeqeen that there were some people among the Muslims like Qays bin Waleed, who were outwardly Muslims and had recited the confession of La ilaaha illallah but inspite of this and their ability to do so, they did not accompany the Muslims in their Hijrat from Mecca to Madinah, and when the Quraish of Mecca marched to attack the Muslims in the battle of Badr these people joined them and were ultimately killed at the hands of the Muslims. A Quranic verse was revealed on this occasion:
"Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you could have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is Hell, and it is an evil resort."
(Surah Nisa 4:97)

The above verse makes clear the fact that it is the duty of a Muslim to leave the place where he cannot adhere to his faith and rituals. In a tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who migrates from a place to another for the sake of religion, even if it is only as far as the distance of a span (of hand), Allah makes Paradise incumbent upon him. (Wherein) his companions will be Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."
(Minhajus Saadeqeen)

"Except the weak from among the men and the children who have not in their vigor the means nor can they find a way (to escape); so these, it may be, Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving."
(Surah Nisa 4:98-99)

It is narrated from Akrama that many of the Meccans who had embraced Islam were not capable of migrating to Madinah, but when the Quranic verse deploring such people was revealed and they became aware of it; one of them Junda bin Zumra told his sons:
"Even though I have become extremely old and sick, I am not among those helpless people who have been deprived of migration by Allah. I have yet some strength left and I also know the way to Madinah. I fear that if I were to die suddenly, my failure to migrate would be a blemish on my perfect faith. So, you all lift up the bed on which I lie and carry me outside towards Madinah."

Thus, his sons lifted the bed and carried him outside, but they had reached only a short distance when the signs of his death became apparent. Junda bin Zumro kept his right hand on his left hand and said: "O Allah! This hand is for You and this for Your Messenger. I pledge allegiance to You for those things that Your Messenger had pledged."

After this his soul escaped from his body. When the news of his death reached Madinah, some companions remarked, "It would have been better if Junda bin Zumro had reached Madinah. In this way he would have derived the sawaab of Hijrat."

The Almighty Allah revealed the following ayat on this occasion:
"And whoever flies in Allah's way, he will find in the earth many a place of refuge and abundant resources; and whoever goes forth from his house flying to Allah and His Apostle, and then death overtakes him, his reward is indeed with Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nisa 4:100)

Becoming A'araab after the passing of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) it was incumbent upon every person to migrate towards him (s.a.w.s.) to obtain instruction in religion and faith. In case he lived in the midst of unbelievers where he could not perform the obligatory acts of prayers and fasting, it was all the more necessary to migrate.

Failure to migrate and returning to nomadism is decreed to be a Greater Sin and the Almighty has promised Hell fire for such people.

After the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) it became wajib to turn towards the Holy Imams (a.s.) and to obtain the compulsory knowledge of faith and articles of Islamic acts. Also, it was most essential to attain the Ma'refat of Imam (a.s.) i.e. it was incumbent to have knowledge of one's Imam and also to learn the matters of belief and acts. It was also prohibited to turn back to paganism after the acceptance of Islamic faith. To remain aloof from the Holy Imam (a.s.) even after recognising their position is haraam. Thus, Shaykh Sadooq narrates from Huzaifa bin Mansoor that he has reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) who said:
"To become A'araab after Hijrat is to recognise Imam (a.s.) and then be aloof from him."
(Maani al-Akhbaar)

Since the present age is the age of occultation of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) the same rules apply to us.

It is necessary to migrate towards the jurist

Hijrat is incumbent on two types of people. The first type are those who are absolutely ignorant of the rules of religion. If there is no religious scholar in the area of their residence, whom they can refer to for their religious problems, then, it is compulsory for them to shift to a place where they have access to religious scholars for the solution of their problems.

The second types are those Muslims who live in the midst of unbelievers, and due to the oppression of these infidels, they are unable to perform their religious duties. It is incumbent on these Muslims to migrate to an area where there is freedom to practice their religion. The Shia jurists have explained this matter clearly.

Order for migration is forever

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has told us:
"Hijrat is wajib till the doors of repentance close. The doors of repentance will not close till the sun rises from the west." (i.e. the order for migration will be in force till Qiyamat).
(Masalik)

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"The order for Hijrat will be in force till Allah demands obedience from the inhabitants of the earth in the same way as the order was first promulgated in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)."

It means that Hijrat will remain a compulsory duty till the time other religious duties remain obligatory on the people.

'They could not migrate from Mecca'

In the book of 'Masalik', the second martyr2 writes that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has explained the meaning of the tradition of migration saying that it is specifically concerned with the migration from Mecca. Hence when Mecca was liberated from the domination of the unbelievers there was no need for the Muslims to migrate elsewhere. The order applies to only those Muslims who are unable to perform their religious duties. According to some scholars after the conquest Mecca there was no merit in migration from Mecca; just as there was a greater merit in Jehad and struggle for Islam before the conquest.

"...not alike among you are those who spent before the victory (of Mecca) and fought (and those who did not): they are more exalted in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards..."
(Surah Hadeed 57:10)

In order to understand the purport of this ayat let us study the following points:

 

Wajib, mustahab and mubah hijrat

The respected scholar Allamah Hilli writes in his book Mumtahi that there are three kinds of Hijrat (Migration), wajib (obligatory), Mustahab (recommended) and Mubah (permitted).

Wajib hijrat

Hijrat is wajib on a Muslim (not restrained by old age or disease) who lives in the midst of infidels where he can neither reveal that he is a Muslim, nor can he perform his religious duties.

Recommended hijrat

For those Muslims who live among infidels but who have complete freedom to practice their faith, it is recommended (Mustahab) to migrate to another area, if they are capable of doing so. However, if they have some legal excuse, migration is Mubah (Permitted) for them; it is not even Mustahab.

No migration from areas of Ahle-Sunnat

According to Sharhe Lumah and Jameal Maqasid, the first Martyr3 is believed to have said: "It is incumbent for a Muslim to migrate if he is living in the midst of infidels and is unable to follow Islam or perform his religious duties. In the same way a Shia who is living among the Ahle-Sunnat and is not able to perform the ritual acts of Shias is similarly required to migrate to areas populated with Shia people." However this view which is attributed to Muhammad Ibne Makki (the first martyr) is not compatible with the general Islamic principle. Because if a Shia is living among Sunnis he does not need to forgo his religious obligations. He can follow taqayya (dissimulation) and fulfill his ritual acts. He can perform the Islamic acts in the same manner as the Sunnis if he fears for his life or property. We do not have any tradition exhorting such people to migrate to another area. On the other hand the Holy Imams (a.s.) have time and again emphasised upon the adherence to dissimulation under such circumstances.

Support of the Martyr's view

Some scholars have supported the view of Muhammad Ibne Makki who stated the following tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as quoted by Muhammad Ibne Muslim requested to explain the Islamic order for a person who during travel reaches a place where there aren't any stones or sand; all the area is covered with snow and the person becomes "mujnib" (semen has been discharged from him and he has to perform the wajib Ghusl for prayers). How can he do tayammum (substitute of Ghusl) in absence of mud or stone? Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Let him do tayammum with this very snow and pray. I do not consider it proper for him to again go to such a place where he might lose his faith."

According to those who support the view, since Imam (a.s.) has prohibited his followers to go to a place where it is impossible to perform ghusl and wuzu, the prohibition also applies to a place where it is not possible to perform wuzu and ghusl according to Shia procedures.

However, this is not a sufficient argument because the tradition prohibits going to a place where one is sure to be unable to perform some obligatory acts. On the other hand it is only a possibility that in areas of Ahle-Sunnat a Shia will be compelled to practise taqayya. Besides, even if a Shia practices taqayya and performs the obligatory acts like the Ahle-Sunnat, his acts are considered correct. Moreover, if there is no constraint it may be recommended for him to migrate from the area of Ahle-Sunnat. However, if he is unable to express his love for Ahlul Bayt (.a.s.) it will certainly be Mustahab for him to migrate.

Propagating Wilayat in areas of Kuffar

Samaad says that he told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), that he was roaming to an area populated by polytheists and that he would have to stay there for some time. Some of the Momineen had told him that it was not advisable to travel there because if he were to die in that place he would be counted among the polytheists. Imam (a.s.) asked him if he would be able to propagate the Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt and invite people towards truth in that place? Samaad said, "Yes, master, there is total freedom of expression and religion. The people there, are receptive of truth." Then Imam (a.s.) asked whether such a freedom was possible in an Islamic area. Samaad said, "No! On the contrary we have to practise extreme taqayya, and none of us can even dare to utter the names of one of you (Imams)." Imam (a.s.) told him,
"If death overcomes you in such a place you would be counted as a monotheist community." [i.e. he will be equal to a whole community of monotheists; like Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.)]. The light of belief will emanate from your face."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the Sharh of Al-Kafi that it is possible that A'araab means to become a nomad again or to forgo Hijrat after the order of Hijrat has been revealed. Like the prohibition of interest, which came into force only after the Divine command was revealed. Nevertheless, since the early period, failure to migrate without a valid reason or to migrate and then revert to nomadism, both of these are Greater Sin and promised the fire of Hell by the Almighty Allah.

Quranic view of nomadism and apostasy

We have already mentioned at the beginning of our discussion that nomad specifically applies to the desert Arabs who were away from the centre of Islam and could not learn the Islamic rules and regulations, nor could they remember and follow the articles of faith. In this connection the following verse was revealed in the Quran:
"The dwellers of the desert are very hard in unbelief and hypocrisy, and more disposed not to know the limits of what Allah has revealed to His Apostles; and Allah is Knowing, Wise."
(Surah Tauba 9:97)

The Almighty also says: "And of the dwellers of the desert are those who take what they spend to be a fine, and they wait (the befalling of) calamities to you; on them (will be) the evil calamity; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing."
(Surah Tauba 9:98)

Also:
"And of the dwellers of the desert are those who believe in Allah and the latter day and take what they spend to be (means of) the nearness of Allah and the Apostle's prayers; surely it shall be means of nearness for them; Allah will make them enter into His mercy; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Tauba 9:99)

Ignorance of Islamic acts is a kind of nomadism

The above two verses which flay the infidel Bedouins are clear regarding the fact that the nomads were deserving of criticism not because of their being occupants of desert. It was because of their ignorance of articles of Islamic acts and belief. For those Bedouins who followed the Islamic religion, the Holy book has praised them in the third verse. They have been promised Divine Mercy.

On the basis of this, people who avoid learning Islamic rules and regulations and those who keep away from the centres of religious knowledge are in fact, nomads, and the verse denouncing the desert Arabs also applies to them even though they are living in cities.

The respected Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) remarked:
"Learn the rules of religion. Those of you who do not learn about religion are nomads. As the Almighty Allah says in His book, 'Why does not a company from you goes to learn about religion so that when they come back they can warn their people in order they may become fearful (of disobeying Allah).'"
(Behaarul Anwaar, Book of Aql)

Thus one who does not try to learn about religion and articles of faith is a desert occupant. The Imam (a.s.) also told his followers:
"Knowledge of the Divine religion is incumbent on you. And do not become a nomad. Because if you fail to comprehend a religious act, Allah will not look upon it with Mercy on the Day of Qiyamat and He will not purify that deed."
(Shaheed-e-Thani)

One who learns but does not act upon it is also a nomad

Muhaddith Faiz writes in Waafi that it is possible that the above pronouncement may also apply to those who learn about the Islamic rituals and practices but fail to act upon them. He also quotes a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to prove this point. Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) states in the Sharh of Al-Kafi that some scholars are of the opinion that being a nomad in the present time applies to those who after acquiring religious instructions, do not act upon them and remain aloof from Islamic knowledge.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"A man says that he has migrated, though in fact he has not. Because a migrant is the one who abandons sins and does not even go near them. And a person says that he has fought in the way of Allah but in reality he has not, because Jehad is the leaving of sinful acts and a war against enemy inside our own self. Whereas many people go out to fight not for the obedience and satisfaction of the Lord. Their motive is only to gain fame so that people may praise their bravery and fearlessness."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.15)

Desert of ignorance and negligence

From the Quranic verses, the traditions and writings of the Islamic scholars we can conclude that nomadism implies the condition of a person who is ignorant and unaware of Allah Almighty's Nobility of which human beings are capable and the eternal bliss which one can achieve, and instead he is totally immersed in the desires of this transient world. He is oblivious to righteousness and does not refrain from committing any sin or evil. He does not care to acquire knowledge (Ma'refat), nor does he pay attention to good deeds, that would fetch him eternal rewards in the Hereafter. It would surely deprive a person of salvation and eternal bliss.

Hijrat (migration) is the exact opposite of Nomadism. Nomadism after Hijrat (migration) implies that a person migrates to Islam and obtains knowledge of religion and then reverts to his former ways. It can be said that performing some good actions for some time and then leaving them is also a kind of reverting to nomadism. The denouncement is valid only if the person does this due to laziness and sloth and not due to some real hindrance or helplessness. It is necessary to continue to perform good actions once we have begun them. As far as possible we should not discontinue them.

Jabir Johfi quotes Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to have said:
"I like to continue good actions so that I become habitual in them. If I could not perform a particular deed in the day I make up for it during the night and if I do not perform an action during the night I make up the following day. Certainly the best of the deeds near Allah are those which one continues. Hence all the deeds of the week are presented to Imam (a.s.) every Thursday and the deeds of the month at the end of the month and all the deeds of the year at the middle of Shabaan. So if you begin a good ritual, keep at it for the whole year." (i.e. continue it for at least a year).
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Neglecting religious knowledge

If a person begins to acquire religious knowledge but later discontinues the same it is considered reverting to nomandism by some. However, it is Haraam only if his religious education is obligatory (i.e. if he leaves it, he will go astray). However, it is incumbent to continue acquiring knowledge till the end of one's life so that one can continue to perform good deeds with sincerity and purity of intention. In this way a person becomes righteous and deserving of the rewards of his good deeds, both in this world and the hereafter.

As the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said:
"Acquire knowledge from the cradle to the grave." 

The twenty-ninth sin, that is classified as a Greater Sin is 'Helping the oppressors'. Fazl Ibne Shazaan has narrated from Imam Reza (a.s.) that he said concerning the Greater Sins:
"And helping the oppressors and bending (leaning) towards them."

In the narration of Amash from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) the following is mentioned, "Not helping the oppressed people is a Greater Sin." In other words helping the oppressors is also a Greater Sin.

Imam Musa Ibne Ja'far (a.s.) says:
"To participate in the activities of the oppressors and to endeavour to achieve their evil objectives and to help them is equal to infidelity and to knowingly lean towards them is a Greater Sin and deserves Hell."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) similarly says:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj), I saw the following inscription on the doors of Hell, 'DO NOT BE A HELPER OF THE OPPRESSORS.'"
(Wasaelush Shia)

It means that if one does not wish to enter Hell he must refrain from co-operating with the oppressors. Moreover, this is a sin that is promised Divine punishment by the Almighty in the Holy Quran.

"And do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the fire touch you, and you have no guardians besides Allah, then you shall not be helped."
(Surah Hud 11:113)

According to Tafseer Minhajus Sadeqeen 'do not incline' means we must not have the slightest inclination towards the oppressors. Hence we must not treat them honourably nor mix with them freely nor express our affections for them. We must not be greedy of their gifts, nor should we praise them and obey their orders. When such are the prohibitions against the oppressors, it is obvious that then it cannot be lawful to help them and co-operate with them in oppression.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) remarks,
"One who prays for the long life of an oppressor is as if he likes the opposition of Allah on the Earth."
(Minhajus Sadeqeen)

There is an interesting incident in the book Rawzaatul Jannat concerning the author of Maqasikul Ahkam, Sayyed Muhammad. Once the Sayyed and another respected teacher, Shaykh, planned a pilgrimage to the Holy tomb of Imam Reza (a.s.) at Mashad, but when they learned that Shah Abbas Safavi was staying at Mashad they decided to cancel their visit.

Similarly under the biography of Sayyed Bahrul Uloom it is mentioned that when the Governor of Shustaran Province behaved with utmost respect with him, he says, "Before I could develop some liking for him and come under the denouncement of the Quranic Verse, I fled from that place." Thus he shifted from Dezful and settled down in Iraq for the rest of his life.

When we study the biographies of some scholars we realise how strictly they refrained from meeting, mixing with or communicating with the oppressors, so that there would not be even a remote chance for them to befriend them and help them in their activities.

Muhaddith Jazaeri writes in the book Fawaidur Rizvia that there was a person who committed some blunder in the presence of Shah Abbas Safavi and in order to escape his wrath took refuge in Mashad. Then he approached the late Mulla Ahmed (Muqaddase Ardebeli) and requested him to write to the Shah that he may forgive his mistake. Muqaddase Ardebeli wrote as follows:
"Founder of a kingdom obtained through asking, Abbas! Know that even though this man was initially an oppressor, but he is now an oppressed one. So, overlook his mistake. I hope Allah will forgive some of your mistakes."

Signed: From the slave of the king of Wilayat, Ahmed Ardebeli.

The Shah replied to his letter:
"You have been grateful upon me for ordering those things which you did (in your letter). Do not neglect me in your invocations."

Signed: Dog of the House of Ali, Abbas.

It is quoted from Tarikh Bahire that Khwaja Nizamul Mulk the Prime Minister of Malik Shah Seljuq, was very much thoughtful of the Hereafter and the Day of Judgement and he used to be fearful in this regard. During the tenure of his ministry he was a supporter of the helpless, a patron of intellectuals, and steadfast in following the religious obligations. He thought of obtaining a certificate from the scholars and intellectuals, certifying his good morals, so that the document could be kept inside his shroud during burial. He hoped to achieve salvation by this. He drafted a certificate and sent it to various scholars and intellectuals for their signatures. When it reached Baghdad and was presented before the respected teacher of Nizamiya Madrassa, Shaykh Abu Ishaq, he wrote, "I witness that Shaykh Nizamul Mulk is slightly better (oppressor) from among the oppressors."

When Khwaja saw the remark of Abu Ishaq, he wept and said: "Whatever Abu Ishaq has written is true." There is no doubt that helping the oppressors in any way is Haraam and a Greater Sin. There is an Islamic law for every kind of oppressor and the ways of helping the oppressors, and it is incumbent to learn these rules and commands.

Types of oppressors

'Zulm' the Arabic word for oppression and injustice implies disregard for Divine commandments and also to oppose whatever is compatible with reason and logic. There are two types of such oppression:
(1) Crossing the limits of religious law is equal to polytheism. As the Almighty says,
"...most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity."
(Surah Luqman 31:13)

(2) Belying the Divine signs is also oppression as stated in the Holy Book,
...and the unbelievers- they are the unjust."
(Surah Baqarah 2:254)

In short, we can say that all the religious laws that we are supposed to follow according to reason or religious commands must be obeyed in totality. Not accepting them or not believing them is a kind of injustice. Apart from this, non-acceptance of the Divine commands or not acting upon them or disregarding the limits specified by the Almighty, like neglecting a Wajib act or doing a Haraam one, all of these constitute injustice.

Thus the Almighty Lord says,
"...and whoever exceeds the limits of Allah these it is that are the unjust."
(Surah Baqarah 2:229)

This also applies to injustice upon ones own self. As Allah (a.j.) mentions:
"Therefore whoever disbelieves, his unbelief is against himself."
(Surah Fatir 35:39)

Various kinds of oppressions include insulting, abusing, degrading or imprisoning a person; also backbiting or accusing a person falsely or piercing a person physically. Another form of oppression is to usurp someone's property or to obtain it without the owner's permission, or not to return the rights to its owner etc. Another way of usurping a right is to forcefully occupy a position reserved for someone else. The supreme example of such injustice was comitted by the tyrant rulers of Bani Umayya and Bani Abbas when they usurped the position of Wilayat which clearly belonged to the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Another example is that of the unjust jurist who assumes the seat of Qazi.

Oppression belongs to two categories. In one category are the tyrant rulers and vicious kings, for whom committing oppression is a normal practice. In the second category are the individuals who may do injustice to someone else once in a while. We shall study all these types of injustices in four sub-topics.

Helping the oppressor in oppression

Helping an oppressor in any way whatsoever is haraam. For example to hand over a cane to someone so that he can beat an innocent person, or to help in any way to imprison him or kill him.

The renowned Shaykh Ansari writes in Makasib that the prohibiting of co-operation with the oppressors is confirmed by all four proofs required to prove the Islamic laws. i.e. Quran, reason, Sunnat and Ijma.

Logic: Reason dictates that there is no difference between the actual oppressor and the one who helps him. Both are equally responsible for the act of injusice. It is possible that if there is no one to help the oppressor he may not be able to oppress. Hence logically it is haraam help an oppressor.

Ijma: Refering to books on jurisprudence, confirms that all the jurists are unanimous in their opinion that helping the oppressor is haraam.

Quran: The Quranic verse
"And do not incline to those who do injustice,"

is sufficient to prove the illegality of helping the unjust. Because if even a slight inclination towards unjust people is prohibited, then how can helping them be permitted. As helping them would be the greatest form of inclining towards them.

Moreover, the Almighty says:
"...and do not help one another in sin and oppression; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in requiting evil."
(Surah Maidah 5:2

The Traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) against helping the oppressors

Numerous traditions have reached us in this connection. Shaykh Ansari has also recorded the following tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in his book Waraam:
"If one knowingly goes to help an oppressor, he has apostasized from Islam."
(Majmua Waraam)

Naturally an act that makes a person bereft of the Islamic faith must be a sin that results in his destruction.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"When Qiyamat occurs an announcer will call: Where are the unjust, the helpers of Unjust and those like the Unjust? So much so that even if one has procured merely pen and ink for the oppressor to write the order of oppression; all these people would be bundled up in a cage of iron and thrown into Hell."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If a person even hangs up a cane for the tyrant king so that he can beat the oppressed one, Allah will change that cane into a snake, seventy thousand yards long and place it in the Hell fire (to torment him)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

"Those who take the affairs of oppressors in their hands and help him in oppression will, at the time of death, be conveyed the Divine curse and news of Hell fire by the angel of death. And Hell is an evil resort. One who guides the oppressor will be considered at par with Hamaan (the minister of Firon). And the punishment of those who help the unjust and the oppressors themselves will be more grievous than other punishments of the inmates of Hell. And if a person backbites about his believing brother to the ruler, and even though the Muslim may not have to suffer any injury from it, the backbiter will have all his good deeds nullified. However, if the Muslim had to suffer oppression at the hands of the ruler, the back-biter will be kept by Allah in that section of Hell where Hamaan will be confined."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Praising the oppressor is also haraam

To praise an oppressor so that his power and authority may increase, or he may be enouraged to become more daring, is also Haraam. This is confirmed by arguments that have been mentioned, and also the proofs concerning the forbidding of evil (Nahy Anil Munkar).

Shaykh Ansari has specifically related a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"One who shows respect to a rich man and in the greed of his wealth considers him good; the Almighty Allah becomes angry on him and puts him in a cage of fire at the lowest part of Hell where Qarun is confined."
(Wasaelush Shia)

This tradition applies to all types of people, but if the praised one is unjust, the one who praises will be eligible to severe retribution. The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"If one praises a tyrant king or shows humility due to greed (of his rewards) then he will be in Hell with him (the King)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another prophetic tradition states,
"Whenever a transgressor is praised, the heavens shudder and the Divine Anger envelopes the one who has praised."
(Safinatul Behaar,

We must not accept any honour from oppressors

The most common way of helping the oppressors is to accept some post or position from them, especially if that post is a cause for any type of oppression. For example the post of maintaining law and order. If a person assumes such an assignment from the oppressors and as a result unleashes oppression on innocent people, such an appointment and such an acceptance of the post is a Greater Sin. If as a result of it, innocent people are subjected to hardships, the doer of such actions is sure to have a severe punishment from the Almighty.

There is one very prominent tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and it is quoted here from Tohful Oqool. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The Haraam post is the post of an oppressive ruler and the posts of those who are busy in the assignments entrusted by the tyrants. Hence it is Haraam to fulfill the duty of this post. One who takes up this post will become involved in Divine punishment. Whether the job is significant or paltry, any attempt to help the oppressor is a Greater Sin. Because accepting a post from an oppressor will result in the trampling of rights, the manifestation of injustice, the spread of corruption and disturbance, the destruction of heavenly books, the murder of Prophets, the demolishing of mosques and the interpolation of religious laws. Therefore it is Haraam to work with them. Except when there is a condition of utter helplessness, like when it becomes permissible to drink blood and eat the flesh of dead."
(Tohful Oqool)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has also said:
"Those who accept some assignment from the oppressors; the minimum punishment for them on the Day of Judgement would be that Allah would make them stand near fire till He does the accounting of the rest of the people. After that He will decide about them."

In the last portion of the book Daarus Salaam there is an incident concerning Sayyed Muhammad Ali Iraqi. He was one of those who had the honour of seeing Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). He says... "during the time of my youth I was staying in my native village in Iraq. The name of that place was Karharood. In those days a person whom I knew by his name and lineage passed away and was buried in the graveyard opposite to our house. For forty days, at the time of sunset a fire arose from his grave, and wails and screams were heard. On one of those nights the wailing of that dead man became more keen and I was very much troubled. I became so much frightened that I was trembling uncontrollably as if the punishment was on myself; so much so that I eventually began to lose consciousness. When my friends came to know of my condition they came and carried me to their house and I remained there till I was well again. Afterwards I came to know that the dead man was working in the local court. One day he had demanded some tax from a Sayyed who was unable to pay. This man arrested the Sayyed and locked him up in one of his rooms. He hung him from the ceiling of his house for quite some time. It was due to these deeds that he was punished after death."

Another similar incident is related by a reliable person that, some time ago there was a person by the name of Aaqa Muhammad Ali. He was a dealer in perfumes and was also in some way connected with the law courts. He had promulgated an order banning all the people from any kind of trade in perfumes. During that period a Sayyed had some perfume and he sold it to some other trader. When this tyrant came to know of this he met the Sayyed in the market and abused him excessively and even slapped him. In reply to this the Sayyed said, "My ancestors will repay you for this." When the tyrant heard this he turned back and ordered his slave to catch hold of the Sayyed. Then he beat the Sayyed with a cane saying, "Go and tell your ancestor to cut off my arms." The very next day this oppressor contracted high fever and his arms began to pain severely during the night. On the third day his arms had swollen terribly and puss began to ooze from them. On the fourth day the surgeons amputed his arms in a way that only the stubs remained. He died on the seventh day.

Therefore, it is important to know that acceptance of an assignment or a post from an oppressor or a tyrant is a great help to that unjust man. And it is impossible for the person who accepts such assignments to remain just and non-violent.

It is mentioned in the Sahih of Dawood bin Zarbi that one of the followers of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) had requested Imam Sajjad (a.s.) to recommend him to the ruler of Madinah, Dawood bin Ali for an appointment in the governmental post. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) replied: "I will never do such a thing."

On hearing this he thought that Imam (a.s.) was unwilling to recommend him because he might be worried that some injustice would be caused by him. So he approached Imam (a.s.) and began to promise and take oaths that he would never do any kind of unjust act and said that he would not do anything except help the people. Imam (a.s.) looked at the sky and began to weep. Then he said that going to the sky was easier. It was apparent that Imam (a.s.) meant to say that once a person accepts employment of an oppressor it is impossible for him not to oppress.

When is it permitted to accept a position under rulership?

There are two situations where it is allowed to accept appointment in the service of oppressors and rather in some cases it becomes Wajib to do so. It is permissible when a person is forced to accept it or if he is practising Taqayya. That is, if he refuses, his life property or honour will be in danger. Permissibility of accepting employment under tyrants is proved in many ways.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"My people will not be questioned for what they are forced to do."
(Khasael)

And Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has mentioned:
"There is nothing that Allah has not made permissible for one who is helpless."

Imam Reza (a.s.) has been reported in Wasaelush Shia to say that he accepted to be heir-apparent of Mamun under duress and taqayya. When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked about working for a tyrant king, he replied,
"It is not allowed, except when a person is not able to obtain his livelihood from any other means or if his life is in danger and his life depends on accepting some work from the tyrant. In that case it is allowed. But if he receives any remuneration from the tyrant he must pay Khums from it."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Such appointments are permissible when the job involves only peacekeeping and maintaining of law and order. Like posts in armies where the aim is to defend the borders of Muslim countries, to see to the welfare of believers and the downtrodden people, and to restore the rights to those who were deprived of it. Accepting service under tyrants is allowed in these circumstances provided one has a firm intention of dealing in a just manner. If the intention is to help the Shias specifically, it is more meritorious. Ziyad ibn Abi Salma says that he went to meet Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) asked him if he was employed with the government? "Yes," he replied. Imam (a.s.) asked, 'Why?'

He replied, "I am benevolent and helpful to the needy so I cannot leave this job. Apart from this I have a family and children and I have no other means of livelihood." Imam (a.s.) said,
"O Ziyad if I am taken to the top of a high mountain and thrown from it and my body is shattered to pieces. I would prefer that to doing some job for these people or even to step inside their threshold. Except for one condition. Do you know what that is?"

Ziyad said, "May my life be sacrificed for you; I don't know."

Imam (a.s.) continued,
"Except that I rescue the believers from grief and hardships or liberate an imprisoned believer, or repay the debts of a believer." After this Imam (a.s.) went on to say, "O Ziyad! If you are employed under a tyrant, work for the welfare of your believing brothers so that it will recompense for the sins that you may happen to commit during your service period."

Fazl Ibne Abdul Rehman says that I wrote a letter to Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) asking, "Please permit me to work on a governmental post." Imam (a.s.) replied,
"You are permitted, provided you do not change my religious commands or cross the limits laid down by Allah. The compensation of your action will be your fulfilling the needs of your believing brother."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Ali Ibn Yaqteen, who was the Prime Minister of Caliph Haroon, wrote to Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.): "Please give me permission to resign from this post." Imam (a.s.) replied to him,
"I do not consider it permissible for you to leave this governmental post because in the courts of tyrants there are people through whom Allah removes the difficulties of His loved ones. And they are the ones whom Allah has made immune from the fire of Hell. Hence fear Allah with respect to your brothers."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Muhammad bin Ismail Bazee was also a minister in the court of Haroon. He had the honour of meeting three Imams, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) and Imam Jawad (a.s.) who provided his own garment to serve as his shroud. He relates from Imam Reza (a.s.) that he said,
"There are people in the courts of tyrants through whom Allah manifests His proof and they are appointed in specific cities. Allah removes the difficulties of His loved ones through them and by them He brings about the welfare of Muslims. The believers take refuge with them in calamities. The needs of our needy Shias are fulfilled through these very people. And the Almighty Allah through their means imposes the fear and dread of the believers upon the houses of oppressors. These are the true believers who are the trust bearers of Allah on this earth. Congratulations to them for their position and post!"

Then Imam (a.s.) asked,
"Wouldn't it be better that at least one of you reaches that position?"

Muhammad asked, "May my life be sacrificed for you. How can a person reach such a position?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Being with the tyrants, he makes the heart of our Shias happy; that makes us happy. O Muhammad! After you do this you will be considered among those people who have lofty positions."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.15)

Accepting employment under a tyrant ruler becomes wajib in one condition

At times it is Wajib to accept rulership or a post in government. A person should do so only when he is confident that if he assumes the post he will be able to uproot a great evil or will be able to prevent at least one sinful ritual or system. But such a situation is rare because it depends on personal confidence, that after one assumes authority, one will never commit any sort of injustice or sinful act nor go against justice and Divine commands. It is obvious that such a proposition is very difficult because there are numerous dangers that lurk behind the facade of governance. It is most difficult to save oneself from them.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) replied to the letter of Abdullah Najjashi the ruler of Ahwaz:
"It has come to my knowledge that you assumed the rulership of Ahwaz. I am happy by this news and aggrieved too. Happy because I hope Allah will remove the difficulties and the problems of the Progeny of Muhammad and help them through you and through you the fire of opposition will cool down on them. I am aggrieved on account of the fears, the least of which is that you may become a cause of injury or difficulty to our followers and thus be deprived of even the fragrance of Paradise."
(Makasib Muharrama)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who assumes the leadership of a community will be raised on the Day of Qiyamat in a way that both his hands will be tied to his neck. Then if he had dealt with the people according to Shariah; Allah will free him. But if he has been unjust he will be thrown into Hell. And what an evil resort it is. If a leader of a community does not deal with justice and goodness with the people, for each day that he ruled, he will be made to stand at the boundary of Hell for a thousand years with both his hands tied behind his neck. Thus if he has dealt with equity he will be freed and if not, he will be thrown into Hell, into a depth of seventy thousand years."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"If a person has authority in a particular affair of the people and he deals with justice with them and the doors of his house are open for those who refer to him and seek his help and he does not remain aloof from the people. Then the Almighty Allah will keep him safe from dread and fear on the Day of Qiyamat and make him enter Paradise."
(Wasaelush Shia)

It must be remembered, however, that this is a vast subject and it is not possible to discuss all its facets. Hence those who wish to study in detail may refer to books of jurisprudence.

Helping the oppressors in other matters

Helping the oppressors or tyrants in matters other than oppression; like to work as their personal assistant, to stitch clothes for them, or build their house or guard their property. All these types of jobs can be classified into three categories:
(1) In some cases these jobs indirectly help in oppression; for example, if the tyrant had usurped a piece of land and orders a mason to build a house on it, or a cloth which has been obtained forcefully is given to a tailor to stitch a dress, or a person may be ordered to guard the money exhorted from innocent people.

There is no doubt that all such kinds of jobs are Haraam. Because the use of things acquired by illegal means is Haraam for the one who has acquired them or for anyone else who is aware of their contraband nature.

(2) The second category is of those jobs which are not direct acts of oppressions or which do not help in oppressing, but since the one who is involved in them is associated with the tyrants and the common people consider him to be a part of that oppression; it is Haraam. His presence may encourage the tyrants, consequently his name is also included in the list of oppressors. He is also counted among those who usurp the rights of people. All these are Haraam according to numerous traditions. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who has his name registered in the office of Bani Abbas will be raised on the Day of Qiyamat in the form of a pig."
(Wasaelush Shia)

In another tradition he says that such a person will be brought in the form of a black pig. Imam (a.s.) has also said,
"Do not help the oppressors in the construction of mosques."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Ibn Abi Yaafur says that I was in the company of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) when one of the Shias came and spoke to Imam (a.s.). He said, "May our lives be sacrificed for you! Some of our people have problems in obtaining livelihood whereas there are vacancies in the establishments of Bani Abbas for construction of buildings and digging of canals. So what is your opinion regarding this?"

Imam (a.s.) replied:
"I don't like to tie even a knot, or the mouth of a water bag or the strap of a purse for them. Even if they were to pay me with Madinah and whatever is in it. I do not like that I help them even as little as the ink at the tip of a pen. Without any doubt, the oppressors will remain standing at the verge of Hell-fire till the time Allah decides about all others."

Muhammad bin Azaafar says that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) told his father,
"I have come to know that you deal freely with Abu Ayyub and Abu Rabie. Then what would be your condition when your name willemergein the list of the helpers of tyrants?"

Hearing this command the father became aggrieved. When Imam (a.s.) saw his restlessness he said,
"I have only warned you of that about which the Almighty has warned me."

The narrator says, "My father remained sorrowful for the rest of his life."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, "It is incumbent upon Allah to raise you on the Day of Qiyamat with the same group from which you derived benefits in this world."

The Imam (a.s.) has also mentioned the incidents when some of the followers of Hazrat Musa (a.s.) decided to support Firon for worldly benefits and secretly planned to change sides. When Musa (a.s.) was about to win, they enrolled as his supporters, but it so happened that when Firon and his soldiers were about to be drowned and these people made a bid to cross to Hazrat Musa's side, the Almighty Allah caused their horses to perish and they also drowned with Firon and his army.
(Wasaelush Shia)

Our beloved Imam (a.s.) has the following advice for us:
"Fear Allah, strengthen your faith with an uncomparable taqayya and avoid presenting your needs to the ruler. And if a person is respectful to an irreligious man, Allah will degrade him and will consider him His enemy and leave him on his own. And if he receives any monetary benefit from this man, Allah will remove barakat from it. And if he uses this money to perform Hajj or emancipate slaves, or for any other benevolent deed, he will not get any reward for it."
(Al Kafi)

Ali bin Abi Hamza says, "One of my friends was a scribe in the employ of Bani Umayya. One day he requested me to take him to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). I took him to Imam (a.s.). He saluted and said, 'May my life be sacrificed upon you, I had been in the employ of Bani Umayya as a scribe and have earned a huge amount of wealth without giving any thought to right or wrong.' Imam (a.s.) said,
'If people like this had not been in the service of Bani Umayya to write letters for them, collect their wealth for them, fight their enemies and attend their assemblies, they (Bani Ummaya) would not have usurped our rights. And if they had been left alone they would not have been able to accumulate any wealth more than what they had.'

The man said, 'May I be sacrificed for you, can I attain salvation after what I have done?' Imam (a.s.) said,
'Separate whatever wealth you have earned from them and try to return it to the rightful owners if you know them. Whatever you cannot deliver should be given as charity (Sadaqah) on their behalf so that I can guarantee that Allah will send you to Paradise.'

Upon hearing this, the young man bowed his head thoughtfully for sometime. Then he raised his head and said, 'May I be sacrificed on you, I will do as you have ordered.' After this he accompanied me to Kufa and returned all his wealth to the rightful owners as much as it was possible; the rest he gave away as Sadaqah. He even gave up the dress he was wearing. I procured some money for him and bought him a dress and gave him some amount for his expenses. After some months he fell ill and I paid him a visit. I found that he was in a very serious condition. He opened his eyes and told me, 'Ali ibn Abi Hamza, by Allah, your Imam (a.s.) has fulfilled his promise.' He died soon after. I supervised his final rites and returned to Madinah to meet Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) said,
'O Ali! I have fulfilled my promise to your friend.'

I said, 'May I be sacrificed upon you! You speak the truth, because my companion testified to it at the time of his death.'"
(Wasaelush Shia)

Assistance which is not haraam nor can be an encouragement

(3) The third type of help is that which is not objectionable in any way an encouragement to the oppressor, nor can it be considered as help to the oppressor in general sense. For example, to hire vehicles or carry the load of permissible goods and eatables etc. All these types of actions are not totally Haraam but some elders have mentioned that on the basis of precaution it is necessary to avoid even these actions. As we have stated earlier, by involving oneself in such matters one is prone to incline towards the oppressors.

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) commands Safwan Jamaal

Safwan bin Mehram Kufi was a very pious companion of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). He used to earn his livelihood by hiring out camels. He owned a large number of camels. He says that one day Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) said to him,
"Safwan every action of yours is meritorious except one."

"May I be sacrificed for you, what action is that?" He said,
"You hire your camels to Harun al-Rashid (l.a.)"

He said, "I don't give my camels for hunting or games but he takes them when he goes for Hajj and I do not serve him myself, I order my servants to accompany them on the journey."

Imam (a.s.) asked,
"Do they pay you in advance or after their return?"

"After they return", he replied,
"Don't you carry the hope that they return safe and sound from their journey so that you receive your payment?"
"Yes."

Imam (a.s.) said,
"One who wishes them to remain alive is like them and one who is connected with them will go to Hell."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Safwan says that when he heard this he sold away all his camels. When Harun heard of this he summoned him and asked the reason for it. He said, "I have become old and fragile and am unable to take care of the camels, even my slaves are not capable of maintaining them properly."

Haroon said, "It is not so! I know who has persuaded you to do this. You have done this on the direction Musa Ibne Ja'far (a.s.)."

"What do I have to do with Musa Ibne Ja'far?" said Safwan but Haroon was not satisfied and said that if he had not had good relations with Safwan he would have got him killed.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who likes the oppressors to continue (to live) likes the disobedience to Allah (to continue) on this earth."
(Wasaelush Shia)

While explaining the Quranic verse,
"... and do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the fire may touch you."
(Surah Hud 11:113)

Imam (a.s.) says,
"If a person comes to a ruler and wishes for him to live if only for as long as it would take for him to put his hand inside his money bag and give some amount."

Wishing for the life of an oppressor even for a moment is the same as being inclined towards him. 

Helping an oppressive person who is not an habitual oppressor

To help a person, who is not always oppressive, but occasionally happens to commit oppression, is also absolutely Haraam. If one knowingly helps a person in a situation where he oppressing another, one commits a Haraam action and a Greater Sin and will be punished as promised in Quran:
"Surely We have prepared for the iniquitous a fire, the curtains of which shall encompass them about; and if they cry for water, they shall be given water like molten brass which will scald their faces, evil the drink and ill the resting place."
(Surah Kahf 18:29)

Oppressing and helping someone in oppression is one and the same.

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has remarked:
"The oppressor, the one who helps an oppressor and the one who is satisfied with it, are all partners in oppression."
(Wasaelush Shia)

It means all three of them are equally responsible. A similar tradition has been narrated from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) who says that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"One who breaks allegiance to the Imam, or raises a standard of misguidance or conceals a piece of knowledge which is obligatory to be imparted or usurps some property or helps an oppressor knowingly; then he has deserted the religion of Islam."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

On the night of ascension (Meraj) the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) saw the following inscription on the door of Hell:
"Allah degrades the one who insults Islam, the one who insults the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the one who helps an oppressor in oppression."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

In this way the Quranic verses and traditions prove the seriousness of oppression and helping an oppressor as a Greater sin. Moreover, one who helps an oppressor has also acted against the Divine commandments of forbidding evil. He is actually a hypocrite because he has in fact encouraged an evil and this is one of the characteristics of a hypocrite. As the Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"The hypocritical men and the hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good..."
(Surah Tauba 9:67)

Preventing oppression is necessary

If a Muslim sees an oppressor trying to oppress someone and if he is in a position to prevent him it is obligatory on him to do so. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Help your Muslim brother whether he is an oppressor or the oppressed one."

People asked, "O Messenger of Allah! We shall help the oppressed ones but how is it possible to help the oppressor?" He replied,
"Hold both the hands of the oppressor so that he cannot oppress. If you do it, it is as if you have helped him and such an action is a help to your brother (in faith)."
(Anwaarun Nomaniya)

Helping a person who is not a professional oppressor

It is permitted to help an oppressor (in acts other than his acts of oppression) if rendering this help can discourage him from his oppression.

If however, helping him has no effect on his oppressive activities then from the point of view of Nahy anil Munkar (forbidding evil) it is Haraam to help him.

We must not co-operate in sinful deeds

It is also Haraam to help an oppressor whose oppression is not directed to others; but he is unjust to himself. For example to omit prayers and avoid fasting, to drink wine, commit adultery, gambling etc. Every type of sinner is being unjust to himself. Hence helping him in being unjust to himself is also prohibited. One who helps him is his partner in sin. The Almighty Allah has mentioned:
"Help one another in goodness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and oppression, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is severe in requiting (evil)."
(Surah Maidah 5:2)

Sin (ithm) is limited to the one who commits it and aggression (udwaan) affects others too.

All the proofs and arguments that are applicable to the obligation of forbidding evil also apply here.

Helping in Sin

To help in any condition required in a sinful act is Haraam.

(1) For example to sell grapes with the specific purpose of making wine.

(2) A person may help in some way without the intention of helping towards a sinful act, for example, he may sell grapes to a wine-maker without the intention of this being used for making wine, but if there is no other source available for the wine maker to procure grapes, then the selling of grapes by this person is haraam, because it would directly contribute to the manufacture of wine.

Helping a sinner in some other way

Is it allowed to help a sinful person, by way of giving loan or solving his difficulties to one who does not pray or is an alcoholic? Sometimes it is very difficult to decide as to what is the proper course of action in such circumstances, because we are commanded to maintain a distance from sinners. Thus Ali (a.s.) says:
"The Messenger of Allah has ordered us to be unfriendly with the sinful people."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Sadiq (a.s.) rebuked his followers:
"It may happen that in your social circle one of your Shias does evil, and you do not prevent him nor dissociate with him nor hurt him, till he gives up his evil deeds."
(Tehzeeb)

There are several traditions regarding certain specific sins. For example:
"One who helps a person who does not pray, with a morsel of food or a piece of cloth, is as if he has murdered seventy Prophets, the first of whom being Adam (a.s.) and the last, Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."
(Layali Akhbaar)

In another tradition the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who smiles at a person who does not pray, is as if he had demolished the Holy Ka'ba seventy times."
(Layali Akhbaar)

The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) also says:
"One who helps a person who does not pray, with a drink of water, is as if he has made war upon me."
(Layali Akhbaar)

Other traditions of this kind are against associating with alcoholics, with those who cut off relationships with their kith and kin and with liars. On the other hand we have traditions that emphasise the respecting of a believer's rights, helping and socialising with the followers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), the Sayyads, the neighbours etc.

The latter kinds of traditions are not conditional. For example it is obligatory to do Sileh Rahem with one's kindered and it is not a necessary condition that the relatives should be pious. We have discussed this matter in the chapter of Sileh Rahem and the rights of parents. Even if they are unbelievers we have to fulfill our duties towards them. In the same way the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says regarding Sayyads:
"Respect my descendants, be kind towards the righteous from among them for the sake of Allah and towards the non-righteous ones for my sake."

Imam Reza (a.s.) says the following with regard to the devotees of the Progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.):
"Be a friend of the Progeny of Muhammad even if you are a trangressor and befriend their friends even if they are transgressors."

As far as the rights of neighbours are concerned we are told that if your neighbour is a Muslim he has double rights upon you (One of neighbourhood and another of being a fellow Muslim). If he is an infidel he still has the right of neighbourhood on you.
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

On the basis of the above it is incumbent to befriend the followers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), help them and fulfill their needs even if they are not pious. We must respect the Sayyads and fulfill our rights towards the kindered even if they are sinners.

Secondly when one is faced with more than one obligation at a time, one should try to fulfill all if it is easy to do, if this is difficult, one should fulfill the one which is more important.

For example when one is faced with a situation when one is keeping an obligatory fast and a child is drowning in a pond. If he jumps into the pool his head will submerge and the fast will become invalid, but since it is more important to save a human life it becomes Wajib for him to jump into the pool. According to Shariat breaking a fast is a lesser evil than allowing the death of a human. By doing this he would not be liable for the punishment of breaking a Wajib fast. On the other hand he will be deserving of Divine reward for saving a human life.

Preventing others from evil is most important

Enjoining good and forbidding evil are the Divine commands, which are obligatory to be followed. They are so important that in case of their clashing with other duties, priority has to be given to these comands. If mother, father, son or some relative do not obey the divine obligatory commands like praying etc. And if by withholding kindness and help from them, it is possible to reform them and induce them to give up their sinful ways, then it is wajib to withhold kindness and help from them. The same reasoning applies to Sayyeds, neighbours and the followers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) who have a right on us. But if withholding help is not going to make any difference in their behaviour, then it is meaningless to adopt such measures. For these were witheld only that they may force the sinners to reform. Otherwise there is no point in employing these retaliatory tactics. If one's parents and relatives are not in the habit of ritual prayers and dissociating with them will not change their attitude; then it is Haraam to dissociate with them or disobey them.

We must discriminate between different ranks and positions

We must remember that Nahy Anil Munkar (Forbidding evil) is more important than the rights of relatives, Sayyads and neighbours. Hence we should first try to fulfill the duty of forbidding evil even if it necessitates the non-fulfillment of latter duties, provided there is scope of improvement among the sinners. If it is not so, then it is not required to dissociate with them or withhold kindness etc. from them.

And as far as possible we should try an adopt a charitable option. If it is possible to reform a sinner through love and help we must try it, before we resort to harsher ways of withholding kindness and help. For example, a father has better chances of influencing a son, who is not steadfast in his prayers, if he tries to influence him gently. A gentle option must be tried before taking strict measures against him.

In other words, when withholding kindness does not achieve the desired results (giving up of sinful ways) there is no prohibition in being kind. In fact it is an obligatory act and its omission is Haraam. 

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.


source : GREATER SINS\Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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