Saturday 18th of August 2018

'Subhanallah', Allah plants a tree in Paradise

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"For the person who recites 'Subhanallah', Allah plants a tree in Paradise."

On hearing this a man from Quraish stood up and said, "If it is this way, then there must be many trees for us in the Paradise?" The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,

"Yes, but you must beware that you don't set fire from here to burn them all down."
(Iddatud-Dai page 235)

Fifth Tradition

"Jealousy devours belief, like fire devours wood."

Ill-Gotten Wealth Burns Down The Acts of Worship

Sixth Tradition

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"On the Day of Judgement there would be people whose good deeds will be as heavy as the mountains of Tahama. Inspite of this it would be ordered that they be tossed into the fire of Hell."

Upon this someone said, "O! the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.), were these people performing salaat (prayers)?",

"Yes, they used to pray, and fast, and also spend a part of the night in worship. But, whenever they chanced upon something which gave them pleasure, they used to rush to it without thinking whether it was right or wrong."

Not Giving the Rights of the People
A Barrier for the Acceptance of Good Deeds

Seventh Tradition

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"I have been commanded by Allah to warn my people and say, 'Do not go from one mosque to another while someones rights are upon you. If such a person stands up for prayers in that condition, I send my curses upon him till he restores the rights to its owner." (Iddatud-Dai page 236)

Eighth Tradition

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"There is an angel of Allah who raises the call every night from 'Baitul Muqaddas': "Whoever partakes of the prohibited things, Allah does not accept any of his deeds be they obligatory or recommended."

Good Deeds are Accepted Only if Accompanied by Piety.
(Abstinence From the Prohibited Things)

Ninth Tradition

"Even if you stand for prayers like a tent peg planted on the ground and keep fasting till you resemble a dried stick and stoop like a bow, Allah will not accept any of your deeds till you have the piety to guard against the evil deeds."

Sin is a Barrier to the Acceptance of Invocation (Dua)

Tenth Tradition

Hazrat Musa (a.s.) passed by a person from his followers who was in prostration. After completing his chore Musa (a.s.) returned to find him still in prostration. He said, "If I had the vigor to grant your wish I would surely have granted it." Allah disclosed to Musa (a.s.) that, "Even if this man prostrates for Me till his head gets detached from his neck, I will not accept his deeds, till he abstains from that which I dislike and does that which pleases Me. Otherwise sin hinders the supplications from acceptance."
(pg. 125 ibid)

Refraining From Sins is Genuine Worship

Eleventh Tradition

"Abstaining from sins is the basis of religion. Hence, refrain from sins in order to become the most pious worshipper. Adorn yourself with piety. Do not perform a single good deed without piety. Surely that deed is most acceptable by Allah which is accompanied by piety, even though it may be trifle. As Allah says, "Allah accepts the good deeds only from the pious people."

Hence if you succeed in remaining aloof from sins, then even if your good deeds are paltry, they would be accepted by the Lord. And when the Lord of the Worlds accepts a deed it cannot be termed as trifle or paltry.

Avoidance of Sins is a Must:

Considering the tradition quoted above one is compelled to conclude that it is necessary to dread sinful acts and to be ever cautious of the vices. Only then are the good actions of any consequences. The good deeds must also be performed in such a manner that we strive to emulate as closely as possible the examples set by the high ideals of our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). It should not be that good actions are rendered null and void due to sins. It is necessary to be cautious of such an impending loss and disaster for which we ourselves would be responsible.

Good Actions Could Be Blown Away Like Dust

Sulaiman bin Khalid says; " I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the Quranic verse

(And We will proceed to what they have done of deeds, so We shall render them as scattered floating dust.
(Surah Furqan 25:23)

He said,
"By Allah, even if their deeds are as white as Egyptian cotton, but if they find sin and lewdness they do not abstain from it."

In other words, their good deeds are scattered like dust due to the lack of piety, and hence are of no value at all. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the explanation of this tradition, "Worship and obedience is rendered null due to sin."

A Large Number of Pious People Will Enter Paradise

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Allah revealed to Hazrat Musa (a.s.), "Verily, My slave cannot achieve nearness to Me without the three things which I like." Musa (a.s.) asked with reverance, "My Lord what are those three things?" Allah replied, "O! Musa those three things are: To practice piety in this world, to abstain from sins and to weep due to fear." Musa (a.s.) asked, "Does one who fulfills the three things gets compensation and reward?" Allah replied, "One who practices piety in this world will get Paradise. One who weeps due to My fear will be accorded such a high position that no else would be able to reach it. The deeds of all the creatures shall be accounted. But one who abstains from that which I have forbidden, then accounting of his deeds will not be carried out; he would be admitted to Heaven directly."


Abstaining From the Greater Sins Cause the Lesser Sins to be Overlooked

If one avoids the Greater Sins, the Lesser sins shall be overlooked. Allah, the Almighty, by His grace, excuses the Lesser sins. As it is mentioned in the following verse of the Holy Qur'an
"If you shun the Greater Sins which you are forbidden, We will do away with your smaller sins and cause you to enter an honourable place of entering."
(Surah Nisa 4: 31)

The Gates of Paradise are Open for the Pious

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said,
"I swear by Allah, in Whose power is my life, there is not a single person who prays five times a day, fasts during the month of Ramadhan and abstains from sins that the gates of Paradise will not be opened for him."
After this he recited the Qur'anic verse quoted above.
(Tafseer Minhaajus Saadeqeen)


A person who commits a Greater Sin and does not repent for it, is a transgressor. Namaz is not allowed behind him (he cannot lead a prayer assembly). His testimony is unacceptable. After death, he is liable for Divine punishment. By the Grace of Allah such a person may yet get salvation; and the Grace of Allah that can make this possible is the intercession of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and his Progeny (a.s.).

As the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says in one of his traditions:
"My intercession has been kept for the sinful among my followers."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.3).

He (s.a.w.s.) also said,
"My intercession is specially for the sinful ones among my followers. But those who abstain from the Greater Sins, for them there is no accounting (of deeds)."

That is, they would be admitted to Paradise right away.

Intercession Should not Prompt one to Commit Sins

There is hardly any doubt regarding the reality of Shafa'at (intercession). Actually it is the right bestowed upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the purified Imams (a.s.), by Allah, to show their greatness and position. The other aim of intercession is to make their respect evident. The people who have committed Greater Sins shall be entrusted to them. By the grace of their intercession the sinful people will be able to ascend the heights like other groups of people. All this is evident from the Holy Qur'an and the authentic reports. It is also clear from Mutawatir (most frequently related) traditions. It would be needless to relate all such traditions for such a short discussion.

Only one point must be stressed at this stage. Intercession should not be taken as a license for committing sins nor should it make one heedless of repentance.

Suicide in the Hope of Salvation

To sin and not to repent in the hope of intercession is akin to consuming poison or putting ones hand in the snake's mouth with the hope that a doctor would arrive and cure you. It is against logic, because after consuming poison it cannot be taken for granted that medical assistance would be available. Even if a doctor and medicines arrive on time it is still difficult to say that life would be saved. Before the medicine could have any effect the poison may spread to the whole body and death may occur.

In the same way, one who performs lewd actions in the hope that he would be interceded after death; cannot be confident that intercession will come to the rescue immediately.

Death is of Three Types

Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) has related from his forefathers that Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was queried by someone about death. He replied,
"You have come to the knowledgeable (personality)." "Death occurs to a person in one of the three ways:
He is given the good news of everlasting bounties, or informed of the never-ending retribution or he remains in a perpetual state of terror and fear.

His affair lingers undecided and unpredictable, and it is not known about the kind of future that awaits him. Then (you must know) that our devotee who is obedient of our command and does not sin, is given the good news of everlasting bounties. But our opponent shall forever be involved in Divine punishment. And the person who has been unjust to his soul and who has abused it will be found in an unsure condition. Unaware of what the future will hold. Such a person is a sinner whose death will be accompanied with terror and fear. But Allah will not consider him on the same level as our enemy. Rather he would be removed from Hell because of our intercession.

Then, act (rightly) and obey the commandments of Allah. Do not consider the Divine punishment to be trifle, and certainly there are such people who would not be able to receive our intercession till after 3,00,000 years."(Behaarul Anwaar vol.3 quoted from Ma'aniul Akhbaar)

I am Concerned About You Regarding Barzakh

Umar ibne Yazid says that, "I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "I have heard you saying that all our Shia's will enter Heaven however sinful they may be?" Imam replied,
"By Allah I had truly said, they shall all belong to Heaven."

Then I asked, "May my life be sacrificed upon you, even if their sins are great and in large number?" Imam said,
"All of you (Shias) shall enter Paradise by the intercession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or his successors on the Day of Judgement. But, by Allah I fear for you the Barzakh."

I asked,"What is Barzakh?"

He replied,
"Barzakh is the grave. Its duration commences from the time of death until the Day of Judgement."
(Al Kafi)

Tears of Blood

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) called the attention of Ibne Masud and imparted some advice to him. He said in this regard.

"Never imagine a sin to be trifle and miniature and abstain from the Greater Sins, because, on the Day of Judgement, when the slave beholds his sins, tears of blood and puss shall flow from his eyes. At that moment Allah shall say, "This is the day when everyone shall see his good or bad deeds, and wish there be a great distance between them and their sins."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.17)

It is also related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said,
"Verily, a person shall be kept captive in Hell for a hundred years for each of the sins (that he commits)."

No Intercession for Those Who Regard Namaz Unimportant

Making light of Salaat is counted among the Greater Sins. It is mentioned in some reports that the one who considers the prayers unimportant is not eligible for intercession.

Thus Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Our intercession is not for those who consider the Prayers unimportant."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Our intercession is not for those who considered the Prayers lightly."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.3)

It is related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"One who considers prayers unimportant is not from me. By Allah, he is not from me. By Allah, he cannot reach near me at the Haudh-e-Kauthar." (the cistern in Paradise)
(Beharul Anwaar)

The above discussion makes it evident that not avoiding sins, committing sins blatantly and then repenting in the hope of intercession is foolishness and a sign of arrogance and negligence.

Excessive Sins Destroy the Faith (Belief)

Whatever has been mentioned in the discussion of intercession states that intercession comes to the rescue when the person concerned has died with correct belief. It happens, sometimes that, due to excessive involvement in sins and delay in repentance, faith in religion is erased from the heart. Subsequently he enters the limit of doubt and reaches the point of denial (Kufr). At this time if he is taken away by death, such a person is similar to the one who had consumed poison in the false hope that the doctor would save his life. But when the doctor arrives, death had already preceded him. What can the doctor do to cure him. In the same way the request of the intercessors is ineffective for the one who has died as an unbeliever.

"So the intercession of intercessors shall not avail them."
(Surah Muddassir 74:48)

In order to prove my statement I propose to quote one verse from the Holy Qur'an and two traditions:
"Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the communications of Allah and used to mock them."
(Surah Rome 30:10)

Sins Blacken the Heart

The first tradition is reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): He said,
"There is no man who does not have a white spot in his heart. When he commits a sin a black spot emerges from this spot. If he repents, the blackness goes away but if he sinks in sin and continues to sin the blackness keeps on increasing till it surrounds the whiteness of the heart completely. When the white spot is totally covered by the blackness, the owner of this heart will never revert towards goodness. This tradition is in consonance with the utterance of Allah:
"By no means! But on their hearts is the stain of the (ill) which they do."
(Surah Mutaffefeen 83:14)

The Blackened Heart is Immune to Advice and Counsel

The people with the 'blackened heart' are totally unaffected by any counsel because their sins have caused the darkness to spread all over their heart. The loss of the inner eye prevents them from perceiving truths nor can they recognise the truth when they see it. They cannot accept any exhortation and revert to the path of virtue. It is in this connection that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains:
"A man resolves to perform a sinful action but does not act upon it, but sometimes does commit it; Allah sees him and says: "By My Glory, after this I shall never forgive you."

According to another report, the person (sinner) is kept away from the Mercy of Allah due to his sin. He also does not get the impetus to seek repentance, hence his sin is never forgiven. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the explanatory note of the above tradition: "The purport of this tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is that, the Imam has commanded us to fear all types of sins because every sin seems to be such that it may not qualify being overlooked.

To Be Fearful of the Past Sins

The believing people should always be fearful of the sins committed in the past and should mourn for them since we do not know which of our sins can bring about out destruction. The Imam (a.s.) has not informed us of any sin that we can ignore and remain bereft of the Mercy of Allah. However, it is certain that the sin for which we have not repented would be sure to prevent our salvation. So we must enter the domain of Allah's grace through the door of repentance. We should sincerely repent for those sins, which are forgotten by us and especially seek forgiveness of those sins that we remember. The method of repenting shall be explained later Inshallah.

Intercession Should Neither Raise False Hope, Nor be a Cause to be Arrogant

The preceding discussion has shown that the element of intercession does not become the cause of arrogance and disobedience. Rather, intercession imparts strength to the sinner in a state of despair. It creates in him the habit of repenting with fervour. Consequently, he would be able to reach a high position and achieve nearness to the Lord of the Worlds.

The Fear and Dread of Sins is Still Necessary

It should not be so, that a person is hopeful of intercession and is negligent at the same time. Along with the hope of intercession the fear of Allah is also a must. Because fear is not contrary to intercession. The one who is hopeful of the grace and mercy of the Almighty Lord may also experience fear. Otherwise he may not be able to obtain intercession of his masters [The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.)] for a very long time. In other words, such a person would be able to receive intercession only after being afflicted with the punishment of the grave for a long period of time. In the meantime the fear, awe, agony, suffering and misery that he is experiencing, may become the cause for him to receive intercession of the purified Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). It may also spur him to be attached to them steadily.


  The Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)


One of the traditions concerning the position of the Shias and the lovers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) states that the fire of Hell cannot scorch them. Thus, these types of traditions impart strength to our hope. Our love for the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is certainly a surety for us but it should not tempt us to commit sins blatantly.

Shia and Mohib

The traditions regarding this subject are based on two important points. The first is concerned with 'Shia' and the second 'Mohibs' (Admirers) of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The position and status of those Shias who have achieved excellence in the field of knowledge and good deeds is definitely higher. Even so, such people did not consider themselves fit to be called the Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Take the example of Muhammad bin Muslim Thaqafi. He was the honourable companion (Sahaabi) of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). Both the Holy Imams (a.s.) have recommended him to the Shias for solving their religious problems. Muhammad bin Muslim Thaqafi has also been mentioned as the greatest Jurist of his time in the books of Rijal (Chain of narrators).

On one occasion Muhammad bin Muslim along with Abu Karibatul Azdi went to see Qazi Shareek. Shareek glared at him in rage and said, "These two are Ja'fari and Fatimi!" [Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)]. Upon hearing this, both of them began to cry harshly. When the Qazi enquired the reason for their lamentation, they replied, "You have associated us with such a lofty personality [Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)]!. Are people like us who lack in piety and abstinence to be compared with such an exalted person? What connection does the dust have with the Divine existence? (A Persian saying). We shall be highly obliged to you if you can accept our appeal (and give us not the title that we do not deserve)."

The True Shias are Those Who Follow (Obey) the Imams (a.s.)

Yes, we can give the title of 'Shia' to that individual who follows the Imams (a.s.) in all aspects of character and speech. Thus, Bab-ul-Hawaij Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says:
"Our shias are only those who follow us (in every respect), walk in our footsteps and imitate our actions."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Conversation of Ali (a.s.) With Some Shias

On a certain evening Ali (a.s.) was departing from the mosque. The surroundings were bright due to the moonlight. He saw behind him a group of people walking towards him. He enquired as to who they were? They said: "We are your Shias." Ali (a.s.) looked at their faces carefully and said.

"Why is it that your faces do not exhibit any sign of you being a Shia?".

"Master, what are the signs of a Shia?"

"Their faces are pale due to excessive worship and the fear of Allah, their backs are bent due to prolonged prayers, too much fasting causes their abdomen to touch their backbones, their lips become dry be repeating endless invocations, and their hearts are filled with the fear of Allah."
(Behaarul Anwaar, Al-Irshad).
Now I shall quote three traditions for the benefit of the readers:

Mere Claim is not Sufficient

1) Jabir (a.r.) relates from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"Is it sufficient for one to associate himself with Shiaism and say that, "I am a lover of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)? By Allah, our Shia is not, but the one who fears Allah and obeys His Commands."

2) Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) told Mufazzal bin Umar,
"If you wish to see one of our devotees then look for that person who abstains from sins and fears more His Creator and remains hopeful of His reward. Whenever you find such an individual then take it for granted that he is one of my devotees."

3) Isa bin Abdulla Qummi entered in the presence of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). The Imam said,
"That person is not from us nor do we hold him in esteem, the one who, if he lives in a town of a population of hundred thousand and there is even one non-Shia who is more pious than him."

Thus the belief, actions and the piety of the Shias of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) should be such that they should be the best and none should excel them. Allah has defined such people 'Khairul Bareeya' in the Holy Qur'an:
"(As For) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of men."
(Surah Bayyanah 98:7)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have explained that 'Khairul Bareeya' connotes the Shias of Ali (a.s.):
"O Ali, 'Khairul Bareeya' means you and your Shias. On the Day of Judgement, they would be satisfied with what Allah has bestowed upon them and they shall be liked by Allah. (Tafseer Tabarsi, Manaqib Khwaarazmi, Ibne Hajar).


There is not an iota of doubt that the one who possesses the Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) would be deserving of salvation. In fact, he shall be with the Prophets (s.a.w.s.) and the Pure Imams (a.s.). Imam Reza (a.s.) said:
"Allah shall collect our Shias on the Day of Judgement in such a condition that their faces shall be aglow with (radiance). His arguments would be lighted (manifest) and his proof shall be obvious before Allah. It is upon Allah to collect our Shias with the Prophets, the martyrs and the truthful ones on the Day of Judgement. These personalities are the best of the loyalists."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Meaning of Wilayat

It is written in the book Majmaul Bahraen regarding the meaning of the word 'Wilayat': "Wilayat is the love for Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), the natural consequence of which is to follow them in religious matters, to fulfil the obligations laid down on us and to abstain from the things prohibited. Wilayat is to walk in the footsteps of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) following their ways in deeds, behaviour and manner of speech."

Wilayat therefore means love and obedience. This idea is supported by a tradition from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) wherein the Holy Imam (a.s.) has related love with obedience.

Wilayat of Ali (a.s.) is a Strong Fort of Allah

The tradition explaining this concept is to be found in the tradition of Silsilatuz Zahab. It is related by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) from Imam Reza (a.s.). It is as follows:
"Allah says, "The Wilayat of Ali ibne Abi Talib is My fort. Then one who enters My Fort is safe from My wrath (Ghazab)."
(Oyoon al Akhbaar ar Reza).

There is no doubt that entering the Wilayat of the purified Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) implies taking refuge with the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), to abstain from all unlawful acts and to remain aloof from their enemies. The word "Tahassum" denotes 'taking refuge in an established fort' and it also suggests that the refuge is not only physical in nature but of a moral form (in spirit) as well. It is therefore imperative to take refuge with these exalted personalities and to follow their superior examples in all aspects of speech and behaviour. In short one who follows them has actually taken refuge in their fort.

Verbal Claim Unaccompanied by Actions is Insufficient

After describing the qualities of the Shias, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) observed;
"O Jabir, is it enough for one, to say that 'I love Ali (a.s.) and I have achieved his Wilayat,' whereas he does not act upon it?"

"If someone says, "Surely, I love the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) because he was superior to Ali (a.s.) and I am Shia-e-Muhammad." Inspite of this claim he does not follow the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) whom the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had ordered to follow. It is surprising that even after claiming to love the Prophet they do not follow his Purified Progeny (Ahlul Bayt a.s.). Mere claim of love is not sufficient."

Success is Through Actions Alone

The tradition continues,
"O Jabir, the nearness of Allah is not achieved without His obedience. When our Shias do not have obedience and action (to their credit) we have no authority to free them from Hell. Merely a verbal claim, "I am a Shia" is not sufficient argument for Allah. (If Allah wills he can involve him in punishment; Allah has not promised to bestow salvation upon the claimants of Shiaism- the criteria are obedience and good actions). Then, only one who obeys Allah is our Walee (lover) and the one who is a sinner is our enemy and our Wilayat cannot be achieved but by piety and good deeds."

Types of Taqwa According to Allama Majlisi

According to Allama Majlisi (r.a.) there are four types of 'Taqwa'

1. 'Wara-e-Ta'beeri- which means to abstain from the prohibited things.

2. 'Wara-e-Saleheen'- To abstain from doubtful things so that one may not commit a Haraam act.

3. 'Wara-e-Muttaqeen'- To abstain from permissible things so that one is absolutely protected from 'Haraam'.

4. 'Wara-e-Sadeqeen'- To avoid everything that is not religious so that one may not waste precious time in useless acts, even though there may not be any risk of committing a sin.


According to traditions, both from the Shia and the Sunni sources, it is established that love protects one from being a slave of one's desires and Shaitan. This is because the love of an exalted personality entails that we also love his friends and hate his enemies. The friendship of Shaitan and the following of one's evil desires are two of the biggest hurdles in one's love for Allah and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

Insha Allah the followers of Ali (a.s.), by the blessing of his love will remain away from the path of Shaitan. Thus, love (for Ahlul Bayt) protects one from evil rather than make him susceptible to sins. In order to explain this idea a few traditions are mentioned below:

Love Makes a Man Steadfast

Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"Whoever has been bestowed the love of Ali (a.s.) in his heart by Allah, is not prone to wavering (from his path) but he becomes steadfast on the path of Allah) and also towards other (matters)."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Testimony of Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari (r.a.)

Hazrat Jabir ibne Abdulla Ansari (r.a.) says: If the first step of the lovers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is in the wrong direction due to excess sins the next step is guided aright by (the grace of) their love.
(Safinatul Behaar)

The Angels Seek Forgiveness for the Partisans of Ali (a.s.)

According to the traditions of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), it is an established fact that even the angels ask forgiveness (on behalf) of the followers of Ali (a.s.). A tradition is quoted in Behaarul Anwaar from the Sunni sources in this regard. Anas relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said,
"Allah has created seventy thousand angels from the light of Ali ibne Abi Talib's face. These angels will (continue to) ask forgiveness (on his behalf and on the behalf of his devotees) till the Day of Judgement."

Devotion for Ali (a.s.) Consumes Our Sins

The love and devotion for Hazrat Ali (a.s.) destroys one's sins as is proved by the numerous reports. Behaarul Anwaar has the following tradition related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by Ibne Abbas (r.a.):
"Love of Ali (a.s.) consumes the sins like fire consumes wood."

There is a Persian 'Qata' (four-line poem) which summarises this discussion as follows:
The love of Ali (a.s.) removes the darkness of the heart like the moon and the stars illuminate the night. Salvation will be based on ones love for him and not ones worship deeds.

But those who are his devotees, must also rely upon the Merciful (God). We should not be satisfied only with this devotion and forget Allah.

Difficulties and Calamities Nullify the Sins

The Almighty Allah imposes difficulties and sends calamities to the sinful people among the followers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) This is because He wishes to cleanse them of their sins so that they are not liable to any punishment after death. If the sins are more, then he gets a difficult death and if the sins are still in excess then he is punished in Barzakh (grave) upto the Day of Judgement.

It is also stated in the traditions that if there is a sinner whose sins are so much that even after all the punishment they are not expiated; then that person will be interned in the Hell-fire till he has recompensed for the remaining sins. The devotee of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) shall not remain in the fire forever. The everlasting punishment is only for the unbelievers and the enemies of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)

The Rewards are Proportionate to the Intensity of Love

Another point to be remembered is that, the intensity of one's devotion is the means for the early forgiveness of ones sins. If love is more, the intercession is swift. Even the painful moments of death are converted into comfort by the help of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). There was a poet by the name of Sayyid Himyari who died in 173 A.H. He was an ardent devotee of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and has composed a Qasida (panegyric) on each and every quality of this exalted personality. Whenever there was a Majlis (gathering) in the honour of Ahle Bayt (a.s.) he always insisted upon reciting one of his poems. Various books of the Shias and Sunnis, like Al-Ghadeer (vol.3), Kitab Aghani, Manaqib Sarwari, Kashful Ghumma, Amaali of Shaikh Sadooq, Basharatul Mustafa and Rijaal Kashi mention about him. The following is the gist of the miraculous happenings at the time of his death.

Sayyid was very handsome and fair. At the time of his death he was surrounded by people. Among them were also those who were opposed to the Shias. The condition of the Sayyid deteriorated and all of a sudden a black spot appeared on his face. The stain spread on his face and his complete face turned charcoal black. The opponents were pleased to see his discomfort. The pain caused the Sayyid to lose his consciousness. When he regained his senses he turned towards Najaf-e-Ashraf and pleaded: "O Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.). O the centre of the hope for helpless people. Do you deal with your devotees in this way?" He repeated this phrase twice more. No sooner did he complete his entreaty that a spot of whiteness became visible on his face. It spread upon his face and soon his face became radiant once again like a full moon. Sayyid was filled with joy, and recited the following couplets extemporaneously.

"They lied who said Ali (a.s.) could not save his followers from difficulties. I swear upon my Creator that I have entered Paradise with my sins all forgiven. I give this good news to those who are devoted to Ali (a.s.) till death. And after him revere his eleven descendants who are the Imams."

After reciting these couplets he confessed to the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Wilayat of Amirul Momineen (a.s.). Then he closed his eyes and departed from this world.

Evil Desires are a Barrier to Devotion

Sometimes the desire of this world and its material comforts can cause the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in ones heart to decrease. An excess of such desires may even make the heart bereft of the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Such a person when he approaches his last moments will obviously not get any help from the material he had cherished in his life but he will be so unfortunate as to forfeit the intervention of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) to save him from a painful death. Several traditions to this effect are present in the books. It would be too lengthy to relate these here, as also it would be straying from our point. Only a casual mention of some traditions would suffice for our purpose.

A Persian Saying

There is a saying in Persian which means that, "Those who believe should try to develop as much as possible the love for the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in their hearts." It could be further explained that one should also remove all other objects of desire from the heart and especially refrain from the Greater Sins so that (InshaAllah) they are safe from a dreadful death and the horrors of the Hereafter.

Do Not Use the Bounties for Committing Sins

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) wrote a letter to certain friends of his:
If you wish that your life and the hereafter be accomplished with the best of the deeds and that your soul be captured (death occurs) in this condition, then acknowledge the supremacy of Allah. Do not misuse the bounties and gifts granted to you by Allah in committing acts that are forbidden by Him and become disobedient to Him. Respect all those who remember us, Ahle Bayt (a.s.), and claim to love us. It is immaterial (for you) whether he is truthful or not. For you will be rewarded according to your intention and they (the liars) will be punished for their sins.
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Gloom of Sins and the Glow of Repentance

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was explaining the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
"Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light."
(Surah Baqarah 2:257)

He said,
"It means Allah takes them away from the darkness of the sins to the light of repentance. Because they were having 'Wilayat' of all the just Imams (all twelve of whom are appointed by Allah). The next portion of the same verse is, "and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness."

The Imam further explained,
"It only means those who followed the light of Islam initially but later started following each an every usurper (leader) not authorised by Allah. They left the light of Islam and entered into the darkness of disbelief (Kufr). Thus Allah ordained upon the disbelievers the fire of Hell. 

 Greater Sin and Lesser Sin

The foregoing discussion has made it clear that sins are of two types- The Greater and the Lesser. The characteristics of the Greater Sins and their evil effects have also been explained. Now we shall enumerate various Greater Sins. The traditions regarding the number of Greater Sins are sometimes in disagreement with each other. It is not possible to study all such traditions due to their voluminous nature. It is also beyond the scope of the present book. Those who wish a detailed study may refer to the Exegesis of Al-Kafi or 'Arbaeen' of Shaikh Bahai (a.r.).

All the scholars and the jurists agree that the most authentic tradition is the one quoted by the eminent jurist of the school of Ahle Bayt, Sayyid Muhammad al-Kazim Tabatabai Yazdi. He mentions four ways of recognising a Greater sin: -

What is a Greater Sin?

1) All those sins are Greater which have been specifically termed as Greater in the Holy Qur'an and the traditions. The number of such sins exceeds forty and they all have been explained in the traditions of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The explanation of these traditions will follow later.

2) All those sins are Greater about which the Qur'an and Hadith explicitly state that those who commit these sins will enter Hell. Or if it is not explicit then it should purport to mean the same. For example the tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"Certainly the Almighty Allah and His messenger disown such a person who willfully neglects prayers."

In this tradition the punishment of Hell is not named specifically but it amounts to the same thing. Another report corroborates this assertion. Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"All those sins are Greater (the doer of which) is promised the fire (Hell)."

There is another tradition from Imam Zadeh Abdul Azeem Hasani, which shall be quoted later. Thus we comprehend that there is no difference whether the promise of the Divine punishment is given in the Qur'an or in a hadith.

3) Any sin, which is clearly Greater than a sin specified as a Greater one in the Qur'an and hadith; is also Greater. For example the killing of a person is a sin and it is clear from the Qur'an and hadith. Thus the tradition from Ibne Mahboob clearly states that the killing of a 'soul' is a Greater sin. The Qur'an has promised Divine punishment for murder. Then if any other sin is proved to be more than the killing of a person, by the verses of Qur'an or authentic reports then this sin will also be considered as a Greater sin. For example the Holy Qur'an says that to spread corruption in the world is worse than murder:
"And the (spreading of) mischief is Greater than murder."

Hence we can conclude that the spreading of disturbance must also be counted among the Greater Sins.

4) Any sin which has all along been regarded as a Greater one by the scholars and the jurists should also be considered as 'Greater'. But it should be ascertained that such a sin has been regarded as Greater from the present time right upto the time of the Masoomeen (a.s.). Examples of these types of sins are to descerate the Holy Ka'ba, or a mosque or to throw away a copy of the Qur'an. All such acts have been regarded as the Greater Sins. Now we shall mention the traditions that explain the Greater Sins.

First Tradition

1) Sadooq (a.r.) has recorded in Oyoone Akhbaar that Imam Zadeh Hazrat Abdul Azeem the son of Abdullah Hasani said, "I heard from Abu Ja'far the second, Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) who heard from his respected father Imam Reza (a.s.) who quotes Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) that he said,
"A person by the name of Umroo bin Abeed entered into the presence of Abu Abdillah Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). After taking his seat he recited the following verse of the Qur'an:
"And those who shun the great sins and indecencies..."
(Surah Shuara 42:37)

Then he (Umroo bin Abeed) paused.
"Why have you become silent?" asked the Imam (a.s.),
"I would like to derive the Greater Sins from the Holy Qur'an." he replied.

The Imam said,
"O Umroo, the Greatest of the Greater Sins is Shirk (to attribute partners) with Allah. The Almighty Allah says,
"Certainly whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the Garden (Paradise)..."
(Surah Maaidah 5:72)

2) After this, is "to despair from the Mercy of Allah." As the Almighty Allah says,
"Surely none despairs of Allah's mercy except the unbelieving people..."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)

3) Then, "not fearing the retribution of Allah." The High and the Mighty Allah remarks,
"But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish."
(Surah Araaf 7:99)

4) One of the Greater Sins is to disobey ones parents because the Glorified Allah has said,
"And dutiful to his parents, and he was not defiant, disobedient."
(Surah Maryam 19:14).

Here the disobedience of the parents is considered a form of insolence or transgression.

5) To kill a believer is prohibited by Allah. Because Allah (A.J.) has informed,
"And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His Wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement."
(Surah Nisa 4:93)

6) To slander a believing man or a woman of adultery (or sodomy) is a Greater sin as is proved by the statement of Allah.

"Surely those who accuse chaste believing woman, unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement."
(Surah Nur 24:23)

7) The usurpation of an orphan's property is a Greater sin, as is clear from the following verse:
"(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire."
(Surah Nisa 4:10)

8) It is a Greater sin to retreat from Jihad (Holy war) as the Divine verse says:
"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 Anfal 8:16)

9) One of the Greater Sins is to take "interest." Allah, the Almighty informs:
"One who swallows down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. This is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275).

[Explanation: Some people say that taking interest is same as any other business. But this verse clearly says that usury is different from trade. Secondly, usury is forbidden whereas trading is permitted.]

10) And magic is a Greater sin. Thus Allah (A.J.) says,
"and certainly they know that he who bought it (the magic) 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)

11) Among the Greater Sins is Adultery (fornication). Allah says in the Holy Qur'an,
"And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay a soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication. And he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement.
(Surah Furqan 25:68-69)

12) One of the Greater Sins is taking a false oath. Allah says about it.
"(As for) those who take a small price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths-Surely they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the day of resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:76)

13) Among the sins which are specifically graded as Greater is a sin of "betrayal of trust, or to act unfaithfully. Allah the Greatest has informed thus:
"And it is not attributable that he should act unfaithfully; and he who acts unfaithfully shall bring that in respect of which he has acted unfaithfully on the day of resurrection; then shall every soul be paid back fully what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt unjustly. Is then he who follows the pleasure of Allah like him who has made himself deserving of displeasure from Allah, and his abode is Hell; and it is an evil destination."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:161-162)

14) Failure to pay the Zakat is a Greater sin. Allah says regarding it:
"and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's ways, announce to them a painful chastisement.
(Surah Tauba 9:34)

15) To bear a false witness is also a Greater sin. Allah says
"...and avoid false words."
(Surah Hajj 22:30)

16) Do not conceal evidence as it is a Greater sin. Allah says:
"...and do not conceal testimony and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)

17) Drinking of wine is a Greater sin. As it is prohibited by Allah in the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)

18) To wilfully avoid the prayers is a Greater sin.

19) The failure to perform any obligatory religious act is a Greater sin. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who wilfully avoids the prayers is away from the protection of Allah and His Messenger."

20) Breaking an oath is also a Greater sin. Allah has stated:
"Who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut as under what Allah has ordered to be joined, (that is mutual relationships) and make mischief in the land; these it is that are the losers."
(Surah Baqarah 2:27)

21) To break ties with the relatives is one of the Greater Sins. In the Qur'anic verse quoted below, Allah says,
"and cut asunder what Allah has ordained......"
(Surah Raad 13:25)

When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) concluded his hadith the narrator, Umroo bin Abeed rose up and while going out stopped and said: "Certainly, one who does not follow the guidance of the Imams (a.s.) and gives his own opinion is doomed." It means that those who refuse to follow the Imams (a.s.) are on the wrong path.

Second Tradition

Ibne Mehboob has mentioned in his 'Sahih' that he and his companions had written a letter to Imam Reza (a.s.) enquiring about the number of the Greater Sins. Also the method of determining their "greatness". The respected Imam (a.s.) replied thus:
"The Greater Sins are those, the performers of which have been promised (Hell) fire. If any believer abstains from these or repents for the same Allah will forgive these sins. There are seven such sins, which have been promised (Divine) punishment.

1. To kill one whose murder is prohibited.
2. To disobey parents.
3. To accept usury.
4. To return to ignorance after migration (Hijrat).
5. To accuse a chaste woman of adultery.
6. To consume wrongfully the property of orphans.
7. To flee from the battlefield.
(Wasaaelush Shia).

Third Tradition

Abu Samit has narrated from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
The Greater Sins are;
1. To associate others (attribute partners) to Allah.
2. Killing anyone whose killing is prohibited by Shariat.
3. Wrongfully acquiring the property of orphans.
4. To disobey parents.
5. To accuse falsely a chaste woman of adultery.
6. To flee (cowardly) from the battlefield.
7. To deny any of the obligations of religion promulgated by Allah.

Abdur Rehman Ibne Katheer has narrated from the same Masoom (a.s.) that he said:
"Not acknowledging the rights of us (Ahle Bayt) is a Greater sin."

Abi Khadija has quoted a tradition that:
"To attribute falsehood to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Holy Imams (a.s.) is counted among the Greater Sins."

Sadooq (r.a.) has quoted that: "To deprive anyone of his rights (What he rightfully deserves) by not mentioning him in one's will is a Greater sin."

The book Kanzul Ummal has mentioned in a tradition:
"Shedding blood in the precincts of the Holy Ka'ba is a Greater sin."

This is because Allah has ordained it to be a protected sanctuary.

Fourth Tradition

In the Oyoon-e-Akhbaare Reza (a.s.) there is a tradition quoted by Fazl ibne Shazaan. He quotes from reliable authorities that Imam Reza (a.s.) wrote to Mamun a letter prohibiting the following sinful acts, as they were Greater Sins:

1) To kill those whose murder is prohibited by Allah.
2) Adultery.
3) Stealing.
4) Drinking of Wine.
5) To disobey the parents.
6) Fleeing from the battlefield (in Jihad).
7) Usurping property of the orphans.
8) Eating dead animals (animals not slaughtered in the Islamic way) blood and pigs without any compulsion.
9) Accepting usury when it is obvious.
10) Consuming prohibited (Haraam) wealth.
11) Gambling.
12) Cheating in business by under-weighing.
13) To accuse chaste women of adultery.
14) Homosexuality.
15) To despair of the Mercy of Allah.
16) Not fearing the Divine retribution.
17) Not acknowledging the bounties of Allah.
18) Cooperating with oppressors.
19) To associate with the oppressors.
20) Taking a false oath.
21) To obstruct the rights (of someone) without (any valid reason or compulsion).
22) Lying.
23) Pride (arrogance).
24) Squandering wealth.
25) Expenditure in ways not permitted by Allah.
26) To betray trust.
27) To consider Hajj of the Holy Kabaa unimportant.
28) To fight the friends (devotees) of Allah.
29) To enjoy vain preoccupations (like music).
30) To persist in sins.

Insha-Allah these traditions shall be explained at the appropriate places.

A Difficult Problem and its Solution
Some people raise the following objections regarding the subject of Greater Sins: -
1. Why does the Quran not explain in detail such an important subject as the Greater Sins?

2. Why are there conflicting reports from Masomeen (a.s.) with regard to the Greater Sins? Some traditions mention that the Greater Sins are five, some give the figure as seven, nine, twenty one and thirty one. One of the traditions reported from Ibne Abbas says that the total number of Greater Sins are seven hundred and seven. Let us now consider these objections so that appropriate replies can be provided.

Reply to the First Objection

It is Allah's grace that He has not mentioned the total number of Greater Sins in the Holy Quran. There is hidden wisdom in this. Let us suppose that the fixed number of Greater Sins had been given in the Quran. Then the people would have abstained only from these sins. They would have freely committed other sins thinking that they are not doing anything against the Holy Book. In this way they would, be emboldened to perform all other types of misdeeds. Thus Allah has prohibited his creatures to avoid even the lesser sins. This is because if one becomes unmindful of the lesser sins, he will slowly be baited to the Greater Sins too.

To Persist in Lesser Sins is Equivalent to Committing a Greater Sin

It is an established fact that if one repeatedly commits a lesser sin he eventually becomes liable for a Greater punishment. Insha-Allah we shall explain in detail the lesser sins in the chapter of "Persistence in Lesser Sins."

By not specifying the number of Greater Sins the Almighty Allah has bestowed a favour upon the people. Had such a number been fixed, the people would have the tendency to abstain mainly from these sins. They would be inclined to regard other sins lightly and indulge in them, underestimating their seriousness. Such indulgence over a period of time makes an individual bold enough to perform other types of misdeeds. It is for this reason that Allah has commanded His creatures to avoid all types of sins, because, being unmindful of minor sins will gradually bait them towards Greater ones. It is indeed Allah's Grace that by encouraging us to abstain from all types of sins, He keeps us safe from the most dreadful ones.

Another important and subtle point that should be stressed is the fact that considering a minor sin to be minor is itself a Greater sin. No sin is to be considered insignificant and trivial. This point shall also be explained in the future.

Deprived of Divine Rewards (Sawaab)

He who commits a minor sin is deprived of the Sawaab, he would have deserved, had he abstained from it. Also every sinful act has some evil repercussion or the other; so it happens that one who repeatedly commits minor sins slowly becomes susceptible to the Greater ones. On the other hand, he who refrains from such acts becomes the recipient of Allah's blessings. Besides he who avoids Greater Sins has his minor sins spontaneously forgiven. Thus one who persists in minor sins will be doubly unfortunate. He will not derive the Sawaab that is reserved for avoiding these sins -and secondly he will be disqualified from Allah's forgiveness for these sins.

This idea has been presented in the following tradition from the Masoom (a.s.):
"May Allah forgive the sins of the sinners. These people have surely been deprived of the sawab of good deeds."

It is Necessary to Refer to the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)

It may be mentioned here that another subject also dealt with briefly in the Quran but elaborated by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) concerns the absolute authority of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) as the representatives of Allah upon the Earth, to teach and demonstrate to mankind the laws of Allah about the right and the wrong.

Allah the Almighty Himself says:
"And We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply they may reflect."
(Surah Nahl 16:44)

Allah makes it obligatory for the people to refer to the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). He orders in the Holy Quran:
"So ask the followers of the Reminder if you do not know."
(Surah Nahl 16:43)

How the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the People of Remembrance (Ahle Zikr)

Numerous traditions have reached us which explicitly state that the 'Ahle Zikr' mentioned in the Quran are the Holy Ahle Bayt (a.s.). One such tradition is the statement of Imam Reza (a.s.) in the court of Mamun:
"We are Ahle Zikr."

Sunni scholars present at the meeting objected to this statement and maintained that Ahle Zikr in the Quran means the Christain and the Jews; and Zikr refers to the Injeel (Bible) and Taurat (Torah). Imam Reza (a.s.) replied:
"Glory be to Allah! How is it possible? How could Allah command the Muslims to refer to the Christians and the Jewish Scholars? If we refer to them they will consider their religion to be the true one and better than Islam, and will invite us to their point of view. Will you accept this invitation?"
(Oyoon-e-Akhbaare Reza).

Mamun interjected, "Can you support your claim with the Quranic proof?" The Imam said,
"Yes, Zikr means the Holy Prophet and we are his people (Ahl). To prove my point I quote the following ayat:
"O (those) who believe! Allah has indeed revealed to you a reminder (zikr), an apostle who recites to you the clear communications of Allah."
(Surah Talaq 65:10-11).

Shahristani a Sunni scholar has reported that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said:
"We are the People of remembrance (Ahle Zikr)".

Another argument is that since Allah has mentioned only in brief many of the important subjects in Quran, He must have appointed a point of reference for the guidance of the people, which would provide a detailed explanation to the subject. And this reference point is undoubtedly the Progeny of Muhammad (Aale Muhammad) in whom Allah has reposed His Knowledge and His secrets, not known to any of His other creatures. Those who desire knowledge and truth will forever be dependent on Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and remain attached to them with love and devotion. And this devotion for the Ahlul Bayt itself is a blessing, which fetches Allah's rewards and Mercy.

Reply to the Second Objection

From the traditions of the Pure Imams (a.s.) it is clear that they are not in favour of mentioning the exact number of Greater Sins, nor do they describe in detail the Greater Sins. Although time and again they do indicate the method of determining whether an act is a Greater Sin or not is exemplified by the already quoted tradition from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The Greater Sins are those (sins) the doer of (those who commit them) are promised the fire of Hell by Allah."

The reason for the Imam (a.s.) not to be specific is the same as stated above in the reply to the First objection.

Some of the Greater Sins are Included in Others

The Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) did not specify some of the sins because they come under a broad classification of a sin they have stated to be a Greater one. Hence they are not mentioned separately. Abeed bin Zorara relates from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
"The Greater Sins as mentioned in the book of Ali (a.s.) are seven:
1) To disbelieve in the existence of Allah.
2) To kill a believer wrongfully.
3) To disobey parents
4) Accepting usury when it is clear (obvious).
5) To wrongfully acquire any property belonging to orphans.
6) To flee from the battlefield in Jihad.
7) Reverting to disbelief after accepting Islam.

The narrator asked, "Are all these the Greater types of sins? "Yes", The Imam (a.s.) replied. Then asked the narrator, "Which is the Greater sin, acquiring of a single Dirham (silver coin) from an orphan forcefully or neglecting prayers?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Neglecting prayers is comparatively a Greater sin."

"Why did you not include the neglecting of prayers among the Greater Sins?" In reply Imam (a.s.) asked,
"What was the first Greater sin that I mentioned?" Disbelief in Allah."

He said,
"The leaving of the prayers unattended is the same as disbelief."

Hence he had not mentioned the neglecting of prayers as a separate Greater sin.
(Wasaaelush Shia).

It is clear from the foregoing discussion that there is no tradition from the Masoomeen (a.s.) which limits the number of Greater Sins. Hence we can say that none of the traditions are fully comprehensive in listing the total number of Greater Sins.

However if we study the Sahifa of Abdul Azeem Hasani carefully we can conclude that in the tradition related by Umroo bin Abeed, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has told about twenty one Greater Sins from the Holy Qur'an. Umroo ibn Abeed left the Imam's assembly suddenly. Had he listened more patiently the Imam might have proceeded on the subject and enlightened him further.

I would like to inform the readers that I have explained in detail only those sins, which are the confirmed Greater ones. However it does not mean that all those sins which are not mentioned in this book are not Greater. Rather those sins, which are not established as the Greater ones are mentioned briefly. It is not even confirmed that these are among the lesser sins. Hence pious people should exercise precaution and abstain even from these sins. There is always a possibility that the sin which we think to be small maybe a Greater one. We would be deceived only because its seriousness is not proved to us. We will now proceed towards the detailed explanation of the various sins that are confirmed as Greater Sins.


Shirk (Polytheism - To associate anyone or anything with Allah)

The first of the Greater Sins is to associate anyone or anything with Allah. That is to attribute partners to Allah. Regarding Shirk we have received clear traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as well as Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.) and Imam Jawad (a.s.).

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The greatest of the Greater Sins is to attribute partners to Allah."
(Wasaaelush Shia)

The following verse of the Holy Quran asserts:
"Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)

It means that whoever dies as a polytheist, there is no chance of his salvation. Although Allah may forgive any of those who have committed any other sin. Allah says:
"Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust."
(Surah Maidah 5:72)

Also the Holy Quran states:
"Do not associate aught with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity."
(Surah Luqman 31:13).

"And whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)

Every Muslim knows fully well that Shirk is a Greater Sin. So it does not seem necessary to quote the Quranic ayats and the traditions of Masoomeen (a.s.) in this regard. However, since it is important to understand the true meaning of Shirk we shall quote the relevant statements in order that people may keep aloof from this infamy. The Holy Quran says,
"And worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him."
(Surah Nisa 4:36)

Mushrik (Polythiest) is the opposite of Muwahhid (Monotheist). Tawheed is the primary pillar of faith. It has various aspects. In the same way Shirk also consists of different types:
1) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Essence of Allah
2) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Attributes of Allah
3) Tawheed and Shirk in actions
4) Tawheed and Shirk in Obedience
5) Tawheed and Shirk in worship
May Allah provide us the Tawfeeq to discuss these different aspects in detail.

Tawheed in the Essence of Allah

Tawheed with regard to the Essence of Allah denotes confessing that the Essence of the Lord of the worlds is one, and that He is Eternal. He is the Orignator of every action and phenomenon, whether perceptible through senses or not. There is no other cause except Him. Belief in multiple causes is Shirk. The Zoroastrians believe in the existence of two powerful forces in the Universe, both being equal and eternal. One is good, the other, evil. The god of good is Yazdan and the god of evil is Ahriman. The following ayat of the Holy Quran is a clear refutation of this false hypothesis.

"Say (O Muhammad): All is from Allah."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)

The claim of the Dualists can be refuted with a simple statement that there is no one except Allah, who has been in existence since eternity. Whatever was in past, present or future is nothing but good. Or, at least we can say that good exceeds evil and that evil does not hold sway over good.

However if we go on to explain all this in detail it would lead us away from the topic of our discussion.

Christians Are Polytheists Too

The Christians believe in the trinity of the Godhead. The Father (God), The Son (Jesus) and the Holy Ghost (Jibraeel). They believe that each of them have a special quality and that together they constitute the Godhead. The Quran flays their assertion thus:
"Certainly they disbelieve who say, 'Surely Allah is the third (person) of three'; and there is no god but One God."
(Surah Maidah 5:73)

The Holy Quran clearly states that Allah is not one-third of a god. He is the One and only One God.

The belief in Trinity is not exclusive to the Christians. Hindus and Buddhists also ascribe to it.

Idol Worship is Polytheism

Some people allege that there are separate gods for every phenomenon. That is, god of wind, god of sea, etc. This is another form of Polytheism. These people consider different creations to be the handiwork of different gods. These idolaters and polytheists worship multiple deities. Their polytheistic belief has also been denounced in the Holy Quran:
"Are sundry lords better or Allah, the One, the Supreme?"
(Surah Yusuf 12:39)

Tawheed in the Attributes of Allah

Tawheed with regards to the attributes of Allah means the realisation that the positive attributes of Allah and His Essence have only one and the same sense, and not any multiple and diverse sense. Divine attributes like Divine Eternity, Divine Knowledge and Divine Power, are the same as his Essence without any duality between His Essence and His attributes.

This concept must be clearly distinguished from the fact that Allah, the Almighty and the Exalted has applied some of His names to His creatures, and although the names are common to both the Creator and the created, the connotation is quite different; For example Zaid1 has knowledge, so the name "one who knows" is common to both the creator and the created. But in Zaid's case, it is implicit that this quality in a limited measure was acquired by him (by Allah's Grace) at a certain stage prior to which he did not have it; and it is also possible that he may also lose this quality at a later stage, but for Allah this attribute signifies that He is the knower of all things, past, present and future. He knows what is in the Heavens and the Earth and not an atom weight, or less than that or greater escapes Him. His knowledge is all encompassing. If we consider the Attributes of Allah as being qualities independent of Allah as we know them to be with His creatures, then we have committed Shirk. Accordingly the belief of the Ashairas is absolutely false.

All the good qualities of the creatures are from the Creator (Allah)

To consider all the good qualities of the created to be from Allah, the creator, is true Tawheed. It is our belief that all the qualities possessed by the Prophets and the Imams (a.s.) were given to them by Allah's Grace. They did not come to acquire any of these qualities on their own. Rather Allah bestowed upon them superior knowledge, character, power and perfect morals and exalted their position.

Consequently all that exists has not come into existence on its own. But everything is dependent upon the Creator of the Universe. All the good qualities have also been given to them by Allah. If Allah so desires, He increases their good qualities and gives them sustenance.

Praising Ourselves Unknowingly

A discerning person realises that our qualities are not our own and that we are not capable of acquiring such qualities without Divine assistance. Yet at times we mistakenly introduce our qualifications as, "my knowledge, my strength, my intention, my wealth etc. Rather one should say, my knowledge, which is bestowed upon me by Allah, my strength which is imparted to me by Allah, my intention that is assisted by Allah, my wealth which is from Allah." This constant realisation that all which we have is because of Allah's Grace; is true Tawheed.

One can be a true believer in the Oneness of Allah if his words and actions both are in consonance with each other. Such a person is more humble and lowly when he addresses his Creator and is in constant dread of the sin of thanklessness. Another distinguishing characteristic of such a person is that he is never pleased when others praise him.

The Pious Ones Dread Praise

The Chief of the Believers, Ali (a.s.) while describing the qualities of the pious says, in one of his sermons:
"When any one of them is spoken of highly, he says: 'I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know myself. O Allah do not deal with me according to what they say, and make me better than what they think of me and forgive me (those shortcomings) which they do not know.'
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 192)

There is no Partner in the Divine Attributes

A true believer in tawheed does not attribute any partners to Allah, nor does he commend anyone in the manner that Allah is praised. Everyday he repeats, "SubhanAllah" [Glory be (only) to Allah]. This implies that he does not deem it fit to praise anyone or anything except Allah. When he says "Alhamdo Lillah" (Praise is only for Allah), he implies that all praise is exclusive to Allah only. No one is more deserving of praise and glorification but the one and only Allah.


When a person becomes a true Muwahhid (a believer in the Oneness of Allah) he does not consider anyone the true possessor of perfect qualities. All of these are dependent upon Allah who is only one, absolutely independent. The Holy Quran says:
"O men! you are they who stand in need of Allah. And Allah is He who is self-sufficient, the praised one."
(Surah Fatir 35:15)

That is the reason why pious people refrain from praising themselves and also fear the praise of others for them. Ali (a.s.) has mentioned this in the sermon quoted above. We must also refrain from words, which imply the independence of man from Allah and instead attribute uniqueness to him. For example one should not say, "I possess such and such quality."

A Saying of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Once a man approached the door of the exalted Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and knocked. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) enquired who he was. The person replied, "I" The Prophet came out and said, "Who was the one to say 'I'? Let it be known that except Allah no one is qualified to use this word. Allah says about Himself, I am the Powerful, I am the Punisher.'

Qaroon Became a Polythiest

Qaroon became a polytheist because he dared to say that all he had come to possess was due to his knowledge of alchemy. Thus, when Qaroon made himself an accomplice of the One and only God in possessing the Divine attributes, Allah replied,
"Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him the generations who were mightier in strength than he, and Greater in assemblage?"
(Surah Qasas 28:78)

Later, we see that Qaroon was not able to save himself from destruction even though he claimed to possess strength and vigor. Thus we must understand that any qualities of the creatures are not of their own but given to them by the Most Powerful Almighty Allah.


 Tawheed and Shirk in Acts of Allah

Tawheed in deeds construe that we have conviction that the Lord and Master of every form of life whether material or spiritual is Allah. He alone controls and regulates life. We must also have the conviction that Allah does not have anyone to share in His Lordship and control. His authority extends over the entire earth and the skies. No one is an accomplice of Him in this regard.

As the Quran says:
"Allah is He who created seven Heavens, and of the earth the like of them; the decree continues to descend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge."
(Surah Talaq 65:12)

We must acknowledge that Allah is the creator of the Heavens. We must have a firm belief that He has created the countless stars. Their number has not been ascertained till today. Modern science has computed that there are approximately ten million stars, each of them capable of having a habitation similar to the earth. Each one of them possess a different light and they revolve in their own orbits without clashing with the other Heavenly bodies.

"And the stars are made subservient by His commands."
(Surah Nahl 16:12)

One of such stars is the Sun, the volume of which is 1.3 million times more than our Earth. It has been bestowed with such a powerful light that within seconds it traverses the distance between the Sun and the Earth. The Earth is illuminated by solar light and the life on Earth is sustained by the nourishment received from this light. "Glory be only to Allah the Mighty Creator."

Myriad Colours From Colourless Water

It is the Unique Allah who has caused the growth of plants and trees from the bosom of the earth. These plants bear flowers with color and fragrance. The green leaves of the trees and the colourful vegetation is but by the uncomparable power of Creator. The Creator has also given to the human beings the ability to see and appreciate the colourful herbage and the floral outgrowths.

Hence man must contemplate upon the Creator who has caused all this to come into existence. He must also acknowledge the One who has created him.

Who Splits the Ovum and the Seed?

The Master of the Universe is one who causes the seed to split. A part of it grows towards the depths of the earth and becomes the root. The root absorbs nourishment from the earth and supplies it to the main body. The plumule develops into stem and bears leaves. These leaves help in processing of the food which is supplied by the roots. Gradually the plant puts forth colourful and fragrant flowers and tasty fruits. All this is made to come in existence by the combination of the earth, air and water, all three of which combine to provide different varieties of tastes, smells and colours. The human beings are made capable of discerning the myriad tastes and colours so that they can appreciate the bounties of Allah and know their Creator.

In Three Darknesses

Allah is that uncomparable Being who has caused the creation of every animal from the unclean sperm. The human being is conceived in the triple covering of the womb. Later, he is bestowed with the discriminating intellect which enables him to ponder upon the qualities and the signs of Allah and also so that he may compare his ownself with other creatures by the help of his inward eye.

Nutritious Milk From Dirty Blood

Allah is the One who created milk from the dirty red blood and caused it to flow from the mammary glands of the animals and humans so that it may reach the gullets of infants.
"And most surely there is a lesson for you in cattle; We give to drink of what is in their bellies from betwixt the faeces and the blood -pure milk, easy and agreeable to swallow for those who drink."
(Surah Nahl 16:66)

When the juvenile ones are not yet capable of digesting solid food it is only milk which nourishes them. And the provider of this milk is Allah. He is the bestower of every benefit.
"Say: All is from Allah.."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)

Bestows Sustenance - Accepts Deeds

Allah is the sustainer of all living creatures. He distributes His bounties freely to one and all. He gives sustenance to whom He chooses without measure. His unlimited Mercy spreads over His entire creation. He accepts the invocation of all those who plead to Him and removes the difficulties of whomsoever He wishes.

The absolute belief in Tawheed implies that one should understand fully, the meaning of the phrase, "There is no Power or Might except By Allah." In other words it is the essence of the Kalima "La ilahaa illallah." (There is no god except Allah).

Allah is the Cause of Every Phenomenon

Allah is the origin of every life. He is the origin of the characteristics of life imparted to each and every creature. The characteristics of all creation are manifested by the Will of Allah. Therefore it is no wonder if the established quality of a particular thing may undergo a sudden change if Allah so wishes; as it happened in the case of fire lighted by Namrood, which became cool by the Will of Allah. The details of such phenomena shall be explained in the following pages.

No Limit to the Splendour of Allah's Might

Allah, the Almighty is the One who brings assistance to the needy beseechers, provides relief to the afflicted who cry out for help and in His hands is all the good. "He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Sustainer, the Giver of life and death the Bestower of benefits, the Punisher, the Acceptor of prayers, the Obeyed One and the Praised." The names and attributes of Allah manifest His greatness. The phrase 'Rabbul Aalameen' (Lord of the worlds) is central to the Divine names. But intellect and reason is bewildered in understanding His attributes, and speech and expression is dumbfounded by His greatness.
(Almanac page 149)

The Holy Quran says:
"Say, if the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though we were to bring the like of that (sea) to add thereto."
(Surah Kahf 18:109)

Human Strength

Whatever a human being is able to achieve, is by the strength, the capacity, intellect and will power bestowed on him by Allah. By thought and perseverance, he can make use of these favours to distinguish between good and evil and perform his deeds. Anyone who does not ponder upon the designs which embellish the doors and walls of this world is himself lifeless like the walls. The observation of the creations around him offer enlightenment to the intelligent mind. But one who does not deliberate (ponder), cannot know Allah through His creations and thus he rejects the existence of Allah.

Is there anyone who could produce sweet fruits from woods (of trees)? Does anyone possess the miraculous capability of growing colourful flowers from (among) the thorns? He is that Pure and Flawless God who by His Divine plan and order created the day and the night and gave the light to the sun and the moon.

He is an incomparable king who neither requires a constitution nor a treasure. He is that designer who does not need paints or the tools of designing.

He causes the water springs to erupt from the stones and makes the rain to descend from the clouds. He creates honey from the bee and silk from the silkworm.

If all the creatures come together to discuss the bounties of Allah and continue upto the Day of Qiyamat, they will not have accomplished even a thousandth fraction of their task.
"And if you count Allah's favours, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nahl 16:18)

Human Strength is Limited by Divine Will

The strength and the capacity of all the human beings is surrounded by the Divine decree and Allah's will. As we see that a person makes an intention to do something but at the last moment his plans are foiled.

He is unable to complete the task that he had initiated due to the loss of capacity. Actually, what he intended to do was against the Divine will and thus he is hindered from the task. A person inquired from Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.), "My Master! How did you recognise (realise) Allah?" He replied, "I recognised Him by witnessing the abrogation of intention and the failures of strengths." Allah, undoubtedly is the initiator of all that moves in the Universe and He is the original cause of the various effects in the created world. To acknowledge Allah as the base of everything and to have a firm belief in this is the pinnacle of Tawheed (Belief in the Oneness of Allah).

However very few people are able to achieve this stage of Tawheed. But if one develops a firm conviction that the cause of every effect, whether material or spiritual is Allah, alone, he develops some peculiar characteristics. One of such characteristics is the Fear of Allah.

Fear of Allah

A believer who has reached the highest stage of belief fears nothing but the Might of Allah and his own sins. It is because he has realised that all the creatures from Adam (a.s.) to the angels and all the animals, birds and insects are the obedient soldiers of Allah. None of them move a step without His command. Hence they could not cause any harm or benefit without Allah's permission. When a person develops this belief he is not fearful of anything. Even if all the swords of the world come to attack. If Allah wills, not a single nerve could be cut by them.

The opposition of both the friend and the foe is from Allah. Because the hearts of both are in the control of Allah. However evil the claimant may intend, only that which Allah permits comes to pass. There is a tradition that,
"The excessive kind of belief consists of not fearing anything except Allah."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) used to recite this in prostration.

"O Allah if Your anger is not upon me then there is nothing I care for."

Reliance Upon Allah

When a believer has developed a firm and complete conviction that apart from Allah no one is the Lord of the creation and none is the cause of all the causes except Him, He does not repose hope in anyone except Allah. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) states:
"You must not rely upon anyone except the Lord."
(Nahjul Balagha).

As we have mentioned before, the origin of everything is Allah and the centre of all creation is He alone. In the same way every goodness of man for his fellowbeings also originates from Allah. As it is mentioned in the Holy Quran,
"Good actions are only from His (Allah's) hands."

At the end of Surah Yunus Allah says,
"And if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He, and if He intends good to you there is none to repel His grace; He brings it to whom He pleases of His servants; and He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
(Surah Yunus 10:107)

At another place the Quran says, "And whatever favour is (bestowed) on you, it is from Allah..."
(Surah Nahl 16:53)

Thus, it is clear from the above discussion that all that is present in the material and the ethereal spheres is subservient to Allah.

"There is no one in the heavens and the earth but will come to the Beneficient God as a servant."
(Surah Maryam 19:93)

If someone reposes hope in anyone except Allah his hopes are extinguished so that he can realise his true master, i.e. Allah.

"I will severe the ties of hope of those who repose hope in others."

Thankfulness to the Provider of Bounties

The master of the Universe is Allah and He bestows all the bounties, hence He must be thanked for these. Because all the good deeds are only through His hands. He gives whatever goodness He likes to anyone of His choice. That is why we say with a firm belief, "Al-hamdo lillah" (The praise is only for Allah).

Thankfulness for Capability (or Means) is also Necessary

If we are receiving sustenance or help from some means, we must be thankful for these too. However we should not consider these means or intermediaries to be independent of Allah. We must accept them only as the agents through whom Allah is causing His Mercy to reach us. These agents only act as a medium of passing the bounties of Allah and hence they must also be acknowledged; as ordered by the Masoom (a.s.).

"One who does not thank his apparent giver (the agent or the means), it is as if he has not thanked his real giver (Allah)."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

"The most thankful amongst you towards Allah is the one who is most thankful to the people (who have helped you)."
(Safinatul Behaar)

There is no doubt that if one considers his helper to be the original doer of good (independent from Allah), he has surely committed shirk.

Hidden Shirk in the Praise of the Creature

"And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him)."
(Surah Yusuf 12:106)

While explaining this verse, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) informed that one form of shirk is,
"Like the saying of someone that if so and so had not been there I would have been destroyed. If so and so had not been there I would have got that thing. In the same way is to say that if so and so had not been there my children would have perished."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

Such utterances signify the type of belief the speaker possesses. If he really has such a belief then he is surely a polytheists (mushrik). After this Imam (a.s.) said,
"If one says, 'If Allah had not helped me through such and such person I would have perished,' there is no harm in it." In fact this is the essence of Tawheed.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and the Thankful Beggar

Masma bin Abdul Malik relates that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was at Mina (in Makkah) when a beggar approached him. Imam (a.s.) ordered that a bunch of grapes be given to him. The beggar said, "I do not need these, if possible give me money." Imam (a.s.) did not give him anything but said, "May Allah make you self-sufficient." After this another beggar approached. Imam (a.s.) picked up three grapes from the bunch and offered them to him. The beggar picked them up and said, "All Praise is for Allah (only) who has given me sustenance." Imam (a.s.) said, "Wait", and he placed as many grapes as his hands could hold. Twice again he gave him the same quantity. The beggar thanked Allah again. Imam (a.s.) again stopped him and asked his slave how much money he had. The slave replied, "Twenty dirhams." Imam (a.s.) ordered him to give these to the beggar. The beggar took the money and said, "All praise is for Allah alone. O Allah You are the sustainer, You are One, there is no partner for You. Imam (a.s.) again stopped him. Then the Imam (a.s.) removed his shirt and gave it to the beggar and said, "Wear it." The beggar put the shirt on and thanked Allah who had bestowed him with the dress and made him happy. At this stage the beggar turned towards Imam (a.s.) and said, "O slave of Allah may Allah reward you for this." After this he went his way. The narrator says that if the beggar had not addressed the Imam (a.s.) as such, Imam (a.s.) would have continued to give him gifts for his thankfulness to Allah.
(Al Kafi)

Tawheed and Tawakkul (Reliance)

It must be remembered that all the causes are in the hands of the One who is the final cause. Those who believe in the Oneness of Allah should rely only upon the Almighty Allah for all their affairs. They must realise that all the effects owe their cause to Allah. Even if all the venues for his success are open he will not achieve success if Allah's will is contrary to it. On the other hand if all the ways of success are closed he will definitely succeed if Allah wills. Even if all the means of causing him injury come together no harm shall come if Allah intends to protect him.

Tawheed and Acceptance (Taslim)

One who believes in Tawheed should accept all the Divine decrees with humility. He should believe that various factors like honour and dishonour, health and ailments, richness and poverty, death and life are all according to the Divine decree. He should not oppose any of these either by speech or by actions. He should not even express his opinion in such affairs. For example, "Why has this happened? It should have been like this." Or to say, "Why did it not rain? Why is it so hot?" One should not say, "Why has Allah not given me wealth or children?" "Why did such and such person die in his youth and why did the other attained old age?" "Why has Allah prohibited this and made obligatory that?"

One who utters such things makes himself a partner in the absolute authority of the Almighty Allah.

There maybe people who worship the One and only God, establish prayers, pay the Zakat, perform Hajj and also fast during the month of Ramazan. But if they have any objection against those obligations prescribed by Allah or His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and say, "Why was it not this way?" or even if they have such thoughts and do not express them in words, still they are polytheists (mushrikoon).

"But no! by your Lord! they do not believe until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission."
(Surah Nisa 4:65)

Allama Majlisi comments, "...any objection against the Divine decree and the utterances of the Pure Imams (a.s.) is tantamount to Shirk."

Thus it is obligatory for the believers of Tawheed that when they fall into misfortune and calamities they should restrain their tongues and hearts from objecting against the Divine decree. However the weeping and expression of grief at the death of friends and relative is allowed and rather recommended. What is not permitted is to say, "Why has this happened? It should not have happened."

Tawheed and Love

The worshippers of the unique God should accept that Allah is the provider of him and all the existing things. Whatever he gets is due to the beneficence of the Almighty. The apparent causes and the effects are also in control of Allah. Then it is Him only who deserves unlimited love and attachment. If someone else deserves to be loved it is only due to his being the beloved of Allah. This is because such a love is itself commanded by Allah. Divine personalities like the Holy Prophets (a.s.), Imams (a.s.), the angels and the true believers are those whose love is commanded by Allah.

In the same way, to show attachment to the gifts of Allah is allowed if such an attachment would exhibit our thankfulness for the bounties. To love our family, possessions and the worldly life is also worship in this way. However, to love all such things without considering the divine aspect renders one to be a mushrik (polytheist). If one loves something more than he loves Allah, then it is a kind of shirk. If he prefers something above the love of Allah it is totally Haraam. Consequently he becomes liable for punishment. For example if someone loves monetary wealth more than Allah then it would be difficult for him to fulfill the religious obligation of Zakat etc. Various ayats of the Quran and traditions mention this fact.

1) Someone inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of the following verse:
"The day on which property will not avail, nor sons. Except him who comes to Allah with a heart, free (from evil)."
(Surah Shuara 26: 88-89)

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"The heart free (from evil) is the one when it meets Allah it does not have the love of anyone but Allah. Every heart which has shirk and doubt is condemned to be destroyed. (Al Kafi)

2) Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) states,
"By Allah the Imaan (faith) of a person cannot be pure till he loves Allah more than his near ones; his mother, his father, children, wife, other people and wealth."
(Safinatun Behaar)

3) During the rule of Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) a male sparrow told its mate,
"Why do you stop me from mating? I possess such might that if I want I could pick up the dome of (the palace) of Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) and drop it in the river." When Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) came to know of this, he summoned both the birds and asked the male bird if he could substantiate his claim by putting it into practice. The bird replied that he had only tried to impress his mate by the false claim. He said that he loved his companion hence could not afford to lose her. When Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) asked the female bird for her opinion she said that her suitor did not love her and his affections were for someone else. Upon hearing her grievance Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) became remorseful. He retired into his prayer niche and did not come out for forty days. He prayed, "O Allah purify the heart of this male bird from the love of everything except his own mate."
(Safinatul Behaar)


Tawheed and Shirk in Obedience

A believer knows that the creator of all is the one and only Allah and He also is the only sustainer of all His creatures. He does not have any partner in his Lordship and authority. Such a believer does not regard anyone else fit for obedience, except Allah. This believer knows that apart from Allah none of the existing things could command obedience. They are all helpless before the Might of Allah. All the creatures are incapable of benefitting themselves, nor can they protect themselves from harm. They do not have any power upon their death and life and neither upon the Day of Judgement and the reckoning
"...they control not for themselves any harm or profit, and they control not death, nor life, nor raising (the dead) to life."
(Surah Furqan 25:3)

Thus total obedience and Wilayat is reserved for Allah only. However if Allah Himself designates someone to be the center of authority then His obedience is also obligatory due to the Divine command.

Authorities Whose Obedience is Commanded by Allah

The chain of the Divine Wilayat extends from the noble Prophets (a.s.), the Imams (a.s.) and also consist of the Nawwaab ul Khassa1 during the period of Minor occultation. Discussing this the Quran says,
"Whoever obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys Allah..."
(Surah Nisa 4:80).

And also,
"and whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it and from whatever he forbids you, keep back, and be cautious of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in retributing (evil)."
(Surah Hashr 59:7)

Further Allah says,
"O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those who have authority among you."
(Surah Nisa 4:59)

Who are the "Ulil Amr"?

Concerning the "Ulil Amr" the opinion of the Ahle Sunnat is unsupported by proofs. They claim that Ulil Amr means the ruler! What if the ruler is unjust? What if he is not an expert in religious affairs? What if he is a slave of material desires? Is obedience obligatory towards him even if he himself disobeys his Lord? Such a situation creates contradictions. However, all these things are beyond the scope of our discussion.

As Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "Two mutas (Muta of Hajj and Muta of women) were permitted in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), I prohibit both." Hence those who consider Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as Ulil Amr would regard Muta as Halaal. But if they also wish to obey Umar ibn al-Khattab, it will create a contradiction.

Love of Ali (a.s.) Commanded by Allah, and Muawiya's Stance

Muawiya considered it obligatory to fight Ali (a.s.) whereas the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had made it Haraam. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, "War against Ali (a.s.) is war against me." Muawiya used to order people to hate Ali (a.s.) while the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) made Ali's love obligatory and Allah made the love of Ali (a.s.) the compensation of the Prophetic message. The Holy Quran says,
"Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but the love of my near relatives."
(Surah Shura 42:23)

On the basis of this, the result of the obedience of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would be love for Ali (a.s.). To consider Muawiya as Ulil Amr would necessitate hatred for Ali (a.s.), and in this case too a contradictory situation would arise.

The Term 'Ulil Amr' is not Restricted to a Particular Group

To consider the command of obedience of Ulil Amr to be restricted to a particular group is against the import of the Quranic ayat. This is because Allah has not ordered the obedience of Ulil Amr separately. He has included the obedience of Ulil Amr alongwith that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Thus the obedience of Ulil Amr is the obedience of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). There is no difference between the obedience of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the obedience of Ulil Amr. The obedience of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Ulil Amr is compulsory upon everyone. It is not restricted to a few people. If we consider Ulil Amr to include all types of rulers it would not be correct. Ulil Amr are those who are purified from every kind of mistakes and sins. So that they could be obeyed without any reservations.

Are the Religious Scholars Ulil Amr?

Some scholars claim that by Ulil Amr is meant the religious leaders (Aalims). But, the Aalims are not infallible (Masoom). All the Aalims are prone to commit mistakes. That is the reason why there are differences in the religious rulings. Secondly infallibility is an inward quality which cannot be perceived by the people. That is the reason why the Ulil Amr could only be designated by Allah and appointed by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.).

The Twelve Imams are Ulil Amr

Numerous books of the Sunnis as well as Shia record traditions that the Ulil Amr are the Twelve Imams. The following tradition is regarded as authentic by the Sunnis as well as the Shias.

What the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) Says Regarding Ulil Amr

Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari (a.r.) reports, "I asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that I know Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.), but I do not know the Ulil Amr." The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"They are my Caliphs, O! Jabir, and Imams of the Muslims after me. The first of them is Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), then Hasan, then Husain, then Ali ibn Husain, then Muhammad bin Ali known in the Tawrat as Al-Baqir, thou wilt shortly meet him O Jabir; so when you meet him, convey to him my Salaam; then Ja'far ibn Muhammad, then Musa bin Ja'far, then Ali bin Musa, then Muhammad bin Ali, then Ali ibn Muhammad, then Hasan bin Ali, then my name sake and one having my kunniyat. They are the decisive argument of Allah on this earth and the mainstay of His religion among mankind. The last of them is the one whom Allah will give victory over the east of the earth and the west; and it is he who will disappear from his Shias and friends. A long concealment, during which no one will remain firm in the belief of his Imamat except those whose hearts Allah has tested for faith." Jabir (a.r.) asked, "Will his Shias derive benefit from him during his concealment?" "Yes", said the Apostle of Allah, "By him Who raised me up with Prophethood,verily they will obtain light from his 'Noor' and will benefit by his Wilayat during his concealment, like people derive benefit from the sun when it is covered with clouds."
(Yanabiul Mawaddah)

So, it could be concluded from this tradition that the obedience of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is equivalent to the obedience of Allah. Those interested in more details can refer to the book 'Ghayatul Maraam'. In the fifty-ninth chapter of this book, four traditions from the Sunni sources and fourteen from the Shia sources are mentioned. In the same book, in the 121st chapter, four traditions from the Sunni books and twenty-eight from the Shia sources are recorded.

Obedience of the Just Mujtahid

Now we can say that during the Major occultation the obedience of a qualified Mujtahid is also compulsory. His obedience is actually the obedience of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) says,
"Look carefully at those people who relate our traditions with deliberation upon our permitted and prohibited things, and know our precepts and commandments. opt one of them for adjudication, since I have appointed such a person for the said task. If his verdict is rejected then it is as if the command of Allah is deemed light and our ordinance refuted. Certainly the one who refutes our ordinance has refuted the ordinance of Allah. Verily such a person has stepped into the boundary of Shirk (Polytheism)."
(Al Kafi)

The Faqih Who Deserves to be Followed

One of the conditions of a Faqih is that he should be free from worldly desires. He should not be in pursuit of material benefits and worldly honour. The Faqih who is free from such weaknesses is fit to be followed even if there are people more pious (in performing good deeds) than him. In this regard the great scholar Shaykh Ansari quotes a tradition from Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) in his book 'Ihtejaaj'.

"And among jurists (Fuqaha) those who protect themselves (from sins), guard their religion, defy their carnal desires and are obedient to their Master, it is incumbent upon the people to follow them. Such characteristics are found only in a few of them and not all."

Obeying Parents is Obeying Allah

Obedience to parents is obedience to Allah. To obey parents and not to cause them any kind of distress or discomfort is of extreme importance. This importance can be judged by the fact that in the Holy Quran, Allah's command to serve Him is immediately followed by His command to treat parents with gentleness and humility.

"And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him; and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) 'Uff' nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:23-24)

Parents Cannot Restrain From Obligatory Acts Nor Can They Compel You to Commit the Prohibited

It should be known that the parents are not the absolute authority upon all the affairs of Haraam and Halaal. Their authority is restricted by the dual dictum, that they must not prohibit a Wajib thing and nor should order something Haraam. If a situation demands the parents have to be disobeyed in absolute obedience to the commands of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.).

"And We have enjoined on man goodness to his parents, and if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them; to Me is your return, so I will inform you of what you did."
(Surah Ankaboot 29:8)

Obedience to parents is highly stressed so that they may not be caused even the slightest discomfort by the disobedience of their children. It is totally prohibited by the Quran. Thus if the disobedience of the parents would incur their wrath then it is compulsory for the children to obey them.

Further Details Regarding Obedience to Parents

Sometimes the parents may disallow something or order their children to do something. But if the child does not obey they are not angry. In such cases it is permitted for the child to follow his choice. For example the parents refrain their son to proceed on a journey that would cause hardship. But they do not mind if he insists on it. In this case it is Mubah for the son to go on this journey. However if this journey would cause the anger of one's parents, it is a journey of sin and during this journey one has to pray namaz as complete (not Qasr) and also observe the obligatory fasts.

Obedience of the Husband is Wajib Upon the Wife

The Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) have commanded the wife to obey her husband. The Holy Quran informs,
"Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded."
(Surah Nisa 4:34)

Allah, the Almighty has given men superiority over women and appointed them as the protectors of women. This is due to the fact that men have been provided by Allah with many qualities in great measure as compared to women, like strength, bravery etc. Further they spend their wealth upon their women. So the best women are those who are loyal to their husbands and obedient to their commands. They protect his property and their own chastity in the absence of their husbands. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"Prostration of a human for another human being is not permitted. (If it had been) I would have ordered the wife to prostrate before her husband."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Dignity in the Marital Affairs

Numerous traditions emphasise that women should be obedient to their husbands. Apart from this, women should know that it is highly recommended that they please their husbands in all matters. It is the best worship of a woman. However to satisfy the sexual desires of the husband is absolutely wajib according to the consensus of the scholars. Similarly the husbands permission is required by the wife if she intends to go out. Even if she goes to visit her relatives or parents it is obligatory for her to seek the husbands permission. If she leaves the husband's house without his permission, the angels curse her till she returns.

Non-Essential Expenses Should Have the Prior Sanction of the Husband

Apart from the necessary expenses, the wife should obtain the husband's permission for other things even if she wants to spend from her personal wealth. But in case of obligatory expenses she does not need the husband's permission. For example, Hajj, Zakat, Khums and even for spending upon her parents. Even if the husband restrains her she must carry out these obligations. If a woman obeys her husband to please Allah, she has undoubtedly obeyed the Divine commands and the instructions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). It is certainly the best worship for a woman.

Referring to the Unjust Ruler is Not Allowed

So far, we have seen that obedience to Allah is obligatory and so is the obedience to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his Twelve Successors (Imams a.s). and whoever else Allah has ordered to obey. Their obedience is also a must i.e. of the Fuqaha, in case of religious matters. It is absolutely 'Haraam' to appeal for justice in the courts of the unjust rulers. Referring to them is the same as seeking the help of Satan. Whatever benefit is derived through such cases is also Haraam even if one is the rightful claimant. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If one files a suit of law in the court of a ruler, even if the plaintiff is on the right, his claim would tantamount to his making Satan (false deity) his judge. And whatever he gets through this Judgement is Haraam even though it was from his rights."

"...then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle..."
(Surah Nisa 4:59)

The Religious Scholar Who Does Not Practise Piety is Not to Be Followed

Like it is prohibited to seek the counsel of the unjust ruler even if one is on the right; in the same way it is not allowed to seek religious advice from the scholars who pursue material wealth and worldly honour. The qualifications of a Faqih have been mentioned in the foregoing pages. Anyone who does not fulfill these qualities is not to be followed. It is Haraam to refer to them. A couple of traditions are quoted below in this regard.

Religious Leaders Who Worship the World are Bandits on the Highway to Allah

It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "When you see a religious scholar in love of this world, do not consider him religious. Certainly one who loves an object, his condition and disposition is like that of his beloved. (It means that one who loves this world will not care for the Hereafter). Allah revealed upon Hazrat Dawood (a.s.)

"O Dawood do not make an Aalim an intermediary between you and Me, who is involved in the love of this world. He will hinder you from My path (i.e. he will make you too a worshipper of the world like himself). Certainly such Aalims are bandits who waylay the people approaching My abode. The least that I would do to them is that I shall remove from their hearts the love of conversation with Me and sweetness too."
(Al Kafi)

A Faqih Should Only be For Allah

Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) states,
"If one obtains knowledge in order to become conceited or to argue with the foolish people or to obtain wealth or to attract people towards himself then he has certainly made the Fire his abode. Verily, acquisition of wealth is not permitted but for ones own family (needs)."
(Al Kafi)

The Common People are 'Deficient'

People who leave aside the scholars of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and refer to others in order to satisfy their selfish desires, are termed as 'deficient' (which means those who willfully neglect the Divine commands). They are mentioned in the following verse of the Holy Quran:
"Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his god."
(Surah Jasiyah 45:23)

 Tawheed and Shirk in Worship

The Almighty Allah has invited all the creatures to pay obeisance to Him in order that His Majesty may become manifest. The people can obtain numerous blessings and unlimited mercy and achieve such a position which even imagination cannot visualise. "So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes; a reward for what they did."
(Surah Sajdah 32:17)

The Lord of the Worlds and the Lowly Man

The human being is a lowly creature. So lowly that he cannot even seek nearness to the Almighty, let alone achieve it. That is why Allah, by his unsurpassed Wisdom and infinite Mercy appointed the Last Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as an intermediary to form a firm link between the lowly man and the Almighty Allah.

Due to the presence of this Wasilah (intermediary) the soul of man is affected to such a degree that it undergoes a transformation. Just as alchemy changes the base metal into pure gold, the heart of the worshipper become pure and is filled by the light of the Creator, repelling the darkness of Ignorance. Gradually he rises in status as his worship enables him to rise up towards the Divine. He thus achieves the best of both the worlds.

Purity of Intention

There are some conditions for acceptance of the acts of worship. The most important condition is purity of intention (Niyyat). Purity of intention with respect to a deed has the same significance that the soul has for the body. Absence of the purity of intention during worship takes man further away from Allah.

The Holy Quran contains numerous verses in this regard. A few of them are quoted below:
1) "And they were not enjoined anything except that they should serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience."
(Surah Bayyanah 98:5)

2) "Say: I am commanded that I should serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience."
(Surah Zumar 39:11)

3) "Say: My Lord has enjoined justice, and set upright your faces at every time of prayer and call on Him, being sincere to Him in obedience."
(Surah Araf 7:29)

4) "Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your god is One God, therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join anyone in the service of His Lord."
(Surah Kahf 18:110)

One Who "Shows-Off" is a Mushrik

It is concluded from the authentic traditions that one who tries to show-off in religious matters is a mushrik and a hypocrite. He is inevitably condemned to Divine punishment. It is one and the same whether his show-off concerns the obligatory acts or the recommended acts.

Similarly he may simply exhibit outward piety or his aim may be to acquire honour and respect among the people. Even if he has a dual aim (of showing off and fulfilling his obligation) his act is classified as shirk. A few Quranic verses are quoted for the benefit of the readers:
1) "Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah, and He shall requite their deceit to them, and when they stand up sluggishly; they do it only to be seen of men and do not remember Allah save a little. Wavering between that (and this), (belonging) neither to these nor to those."
(Surah Nisa 4:142)
2) "So woe to the praying ones, who are unmindful of their prayers, who do (good) to be seen."
(Surah Maoon 107:4-6)

Outward Piety (Riyah) is the Lesser Shirk

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"Certainly what I fear for you most is the lesser shirk."

Someone enquired, "O Prophet (s.a.w.s.), what is meant by lesser shirk?" He replied,
"It is Riyah when Allah would reward His creatures for their deeds on the Day of Judgement He would address those who committed Riyah thus, 'you approach those, to please whom you had performed all the deeds in the world. And obtain your rewards for your deeds from them.'
(Behaarul Anwaar).

Is it possible to receive rewards from them? Absolutely not!

The Deceitful Person Deceives Himself Alone

Someone enquired from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as to how could salvation be attained on the Day of Judgement? He replied,
"It could only be possible if one does not deceive Allah. Certainly if anyone tries to deceive Allah he is himself deceived by Allah (i.e. he is repaid for his deceit) and Allah takes away belief from him. If he possesses reason he should know that in trying to deceive Allah, he is only deceiving himself."

"How can Allah be deceived and defrauded?" a person asked. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) continued,
"The person fulfills all his religious obligations but his aim is to please someone other than Allah. Fear Allah and restrain from 'Riyah'. On the Day of Judgement the deceiver (Riyakaar) will be addressed by four titles, 'O Kafir, O Sinful, O Crafty one, O Loser, your deeds are nullified and the reward of your deeds is lost. Today you have no worth whatsoever. Go and seek the reward of your deeds from those, to please whom you performed your acts.'
(Muhajjatul Baidha, Behaarul Anwaar)

The Fire of Hell Weeps Due to the Deceitful Ones (Riyakaar)

It is narrated from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"If a person performs a good deed to achieve Allah's pleasure and the reward in the hereafter; but also intends to please other people, then he will be termed as a Mushrik."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has informed,
"Certainly the fire of Hell and the people of Hell would cry for help due to the crafty ones."

Someone asked, "O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.). How would the fire cry?" He replied,
"The fire would scream and cry for help due to the intensity of the heat of that fire in which the Riyakaar people would be burning."

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"Certainly, Allah sent His messenger, so that He may extricate the humankind from the worship of people and direct them to the worship of Allah."

Sometimes Worship Leads the Worshipper to the Fire (Of Hell)

Abu Basir has narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"On the Day of Judgement a person would be brought forward. He had performed namaz in his life. He would be told that you have prayed but your intention had been to show-off, so that people may appreciate your worship. This person would be cast into the fire. Then a reciter of the Quran would be brought. He would be told, 'at the time of reciting the Quran, your intention had been to exhibit your sweet voice so that people may appreciate your tone.' This one shall also be tossed into the fire. The third person to be presented shall be one who had died a martyr in Jihad. He would be told that, 'Your intention while fighting was to make a show-off your strength and valour." He shall also be led towards the fire. The fourth person had been a charitable man. He would be told, 'your intention in giving charity was that people may call you generous.' Then he would also be led towards Hell.
(Layali Akhbaar).

Numerous traditions confirm that the Riyakaar person is a Mushrik. This is sufficient for the believing and the thoughtful people.

The Merits of Pure Intentions and the Censure of Riyah

Apart from the punishment in the Hereafter and cancellation of good deeds the Riyakaar person will also fail to achieve his aim in this world. In the world it had been his intention to achieve honour among the people but instead he would have to face humiliation and shame. The noble Quran tells us,
"...he loses this world as well as the hereafter; that is a manifest loss."
(Surah Hajj 22:11)

On the contrary, one who performs good deeds for the Hereafter will achieve honour in this world too. The following verse of Surah Kahf says:
"...therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join anyone in the service of his Lord."
(Surah Kahf 18:110)

The tafsir of this ayat is as follows: "Someone performs a good deed not for seeking Allah's pleasure, but to obtain praise and admiration from people, so that people may see and hear him and he may become famous. He is like the one who has an associate with Allah in his worship. One who conceals his worship acts from the people (and reserve them solely for Allah would finally be given an honourable position among the people, by Allah. While one who exhibits his worship; his weaknesses are disclosed by Allah and consequently he is degraded."
(Al Kafi)

True Deeds are Surely Manifested

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If one intends to do a slender act with the sole intention of pleasing Allah, Allah causes this small deed of his to be manifested on a greater scale upon the people. (On the contrary) if someone performs the greatest of deeds which causes him physical tiredness and exhaustion due to wakeful nights, while his intention had been to acquire the praise of people, his deed would be reduced to a trifle by Allah and manifested on the people." (till the people begin to dislike him.)
(Al Kafi)

Outward Piety and the Legal Point of View

If someone has committed shirk with regard to the acts of worship, he must repent sincerely and have a firm determination not to repeat his mistake. He should intend to perform all his deeds in the future for the sole purpose of achieving Allah's pleasure. First of all it is wajib upon him to seek forgiveness of his past sins. Secondly he must repeat all the worship acts in which he had committed Riyah, even if a part of that worship had been contaminated with the intention of showing off. Suppose he had begun his act with pure intention but later he was involved in Riyah, even so his deed is nullified. Like the person who gives Zakat to a needy man but later tries to obtain some benefit in return. In this case he has to first repent for his sin and then again give Zakat with the sole intention of achieving Allah's pleasure.

Similarly in the case of Namaz the person may exhibit a part of it (Be it a Mustahab part) e.g. Qunoot or he may perform Namaz in congregation or sit in the front row to show-off. In all such cases he has to perform this Namaz again.

Riyah in the Acts of Worship

There is no firm proof that Riyah is Haraam in the pure worldly acts, which are not considered acts of worship. Consequently the Fuqaha have not given any verdict concerning this. But the true believers refrain from all types of Riyah; even with the worldly acts and the mubah actions. The root of Riyakaari is the love of this world. Hence if one falls into this habit, he may even begin to make it a part of his worship.

The respected scholar, Faiz-e-Kashani writes in his book, 'Muhajjatul Baidha', "People resort to Riyakaari in five types of actions.

(1) Bodily Riyah
(2) Riyah of beauty and dress
(3) Riyah of speech
(4) Riyah of actions
(5) Riyah of the outward kind."

The above types of Riyah are explained below:

1) Bodily Riyah

Bodily Riyah with regard to the actions pertaining to the hereafter is that someone tries to show that his body has become fragile due to excessive fasting and night worship. Or he may keep his lips dry so that people think that he is fasting. Or he may show himself to be pious so that people commend him, and day and night he remains busy in religious acts. Bodily Riyah with regard to worldly matters is that he displays his body and tries to create a position in the eyes of the people.

2) Riyah of Beauty and Dress

This type of Riyah with regard to the hereafter consists of shaving ones moustache so that people think that he is following the recommended acts or walking slowly with head turned downwards or wearing dirty clothes to show that one has disregard for the world.

The riya of beauty and dress with regard to this world is to show off ones dress and handsome appearance so that people are attracted towards the person.

3) Riyah of Speech

Riyah of speech with regard to the hereafter is for example uttering Zikr (i.e. Alhamdo Lillah) to show-off to the people. To exhibit one's knowledge and greatness by preaching to the people in assemblies. To forbid evil and enjoin good to the audience by making people fearful of Divine wrath without having any pure intention.

In the worldly connection this Riyah could take the form of boasting of ones achievements and capabilities so that the people adore him. To be extremely social and greet beyond limit, even strangers, to achieve popularity, etc.

4) Riyah of Actions

In connection with actions of the hereafter Riyah consists of praying namaz to show-off. For example reciting lengthy chapters or lingering for a long time in Ruku or Sajdah. To pray namaz extremely slowly. Performing the wajib and the mustahab fast, Hajj and Ziarat, giving charity and feeding people so that one is regarded as pious.

With regard to the worldly actions, it is to behave with people in consonance with their way of thinking and to spend in similar ways. That is, to strive to become honourable in the eyes of these people. To spend lavishly upon people by inviting them in large numbers for dinner etc.

5) Riyah of the External Kind

All the four types of Riyah explained above are concerned with the person himself. The fifth type of Riyah is that which is connected with the external affairs. This type of Riyah also is with regard to the Hereafter as well as this world. With regard to the Hereafter it consists of a person sitting in the assembly of the learned people without any pure intention; just to exhibit his interest in religion etc. Or to go out to meet pious people or invite the learned scholars to his home for dinner so that people consider him to be religious. In the same way Riyah is prohibited with regard to the worldly actions. For example visiting frequently the courts of Kings and rulers so that people realise his influence and reputation and the gullible people are deceived by his outward show.

Riyah is Associated With Intention

It must be understood that Riyah of a person depends upon his intention. In other words all such actions which a person performs to show off are Riyah whether those actions are related to the hereafter or this world. In all types of actions related above, riyah is not committed till one has the intention to show-off. But if one performs an action solely for the pleasure of Allah it is worship. For example if one dresses up nicely or decorates his house with the intention of fully expressing the bounties of Allah; this action is worship. However if his intention is to show-off to people it is Riyah.

Anyone who wishes to study this topic in detail should refer to the book Qalbe Saleem by the same author.


Second Greater Sin


The second Greater Sin is to despair of the Mercy of Allah. "Al-yaa-so Min Roohallah" (To despair of the Rooh of Allah) Rooh: according to the dictionary means a breeze that pleases and comforts. Those who do not believe in the Power, the Mercy and Bounty of Allah, develop a kind of despair. The Holy Quran has termed such people as Unbelievers (Kafir).

"...and despair not of Allah's Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah's Mercy except the unbelieving people."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)

The Holy Imams, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.), Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have classified "despairing of the Mercy of Allah", to be a Greater Sin; as we have mentioned at the beginning.

The Greatest Sin After 'Shirk'

After 'shirk' no sin could be greater than to despair of Allah's mercy and benevolence. This attitude reduces a person to a state of utter hopelessness. He imagines himself to be destined for Hell, and therefore he sees no benefit in doing good and avoiding evil. Consequently he tries to achieve as much worldly pleasure as possible and thus gets further involved in all kinds of sinful acts. Any other type of sinner could be pardoned if he repents. But the one who despairs does not deserve to be pardoned because the mental condition of such a person does not lead him towards repentance, but instead, induces him to continue to commit further acts of transgression against Allah's commands.

Hence it means that despair is the greatest of the sins. It is appropriate therefore that all the different varieties of despair may be explained and also their cures, so that the believers can keep themselves away from them.

The Almighty Allah has created a cause of all the phenomena of this world by His unlimited power and absolute strength. For example, in the physical affairs food is needed for satiation of hunger, water for quenching thirst, doctor and medicine for curing diseases and work for removing poverty.

In the same way the spiritual phenomena also depend upon various causes. The salvation of a sinner depends upon his repentance, the achievement of absolute belief needs the guidance of an infallible guide (Imam), and the attainment of grades in piety and the high stages of the hereafter depend upon the purity of intention in the deeds performed. The aim of creating man was to make him think and recognise Allah in the proper way. But the thorough recognition or belief is not possible till man realises that the Creator of causes as well as effects is Allah. The causes by themselves cannot bring out an effect till the One who has created these causes gives the capability to the cause to bring out such effect. Therefore one should not be pleased at the apparent causes or be aggrieved due to their absence.

Cause is Not Independent

When causes that would fulfill needs or desires appear, man becomes happy and he believes in the Might of Allah. But when these causes fail to have any effect he becomes sorrowful. In order to avoid such a situation Allah has laid down a procedure. Firstly he renders the causes ineffective so that the believer may not consider these to be originally having the effective properties. On the other hand he creates the factors which were hereto non-existent, so that the believing people may not fall into despair. A few examples are mentioned to explain this fact.

First Example

Fire Did Not Burn - Knife Did Not Cut

The fire ignited by the order of Namrood to burn Ibrahim (a.s.) was made bereft of its burning property, by Allah. It is said, that the fire was so intense that birds flying at a height of three miles used to be scorched by the heat and drop dead.

So they threw Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) into the fire with the help of a catapult from far away. In the Holy Quran Allah says:
"We said: O fire! be coolness and peace to Ibrahim."
(Surah Anbiya 21:69)

The fire immediately lost its essential property of burning, and cooled down; and if Allah had not ordered it to be peaceful (safe) for Ibrahim (a.s.) it would have become colder and may have frozen Ibrahim (a.s.) to death.

In the same way when Ibrahim (a.s.) proceeded to slaughter his son Ismail (a.s.) the knife was blunted by Allah's command. Ibrahim (a.s.) threw the knife away and a voice emerged from it. "The Khalil (friend) of Allah commands me to cut and the Lord of the Khalil restrains me from it."

Second Example

Musa (a.s.) and Firon

History records that the tyrant rulers have always oppressed Allah's representative on earth, the Prophets and the Imams. These rulers have made relentless use of all the might and power at their command to pursue the Prophets and terminate their lives. But the Almighty Allah used to render their efforts null and void. The life of Musa (a.s.) during the reign of Firon is full of such instances from the beginning to end.

A powerful king like Firon wanted to kill Hazrat Musa (a.s.) while he was still in his mother's womb, but he did not succeed and Musa (a.s.) was born. Firon continued in his efforts to murder him but all his plans were foiled by Allah. Physical and spiritual causes are of no significance in comparison to the Divine decree. Thus Musa (a.s.) was not only born safely but grew up in Firon's own palace and in his own lap.

"And Firon's wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to you; do not slay him; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son; and they did not perceive."
(Surah Qasas 28:9)

Third Example

The Attack of Abraha on the Ka'ba

In the year of the birth of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the army of Najjashi came to attack the Holy Ka'ba. It was led by the commander Abraha. The army consisted of elephants and possessed all the armaments of war. Abraha, proud of his bulky army and weapons was confident of success. But the creator of all causes weakened their efforts. When Allah willed all the human and animals in the army came to a standstill. However much they tried, the elephants refused to move towards the sacred house.

On the other hand 'Ababeel' appeared on the horizon. Each of these birds carried three pebbles; one in the beak and one each in their claws. They surrounded the complete army and began to pelt them with pebbles. Each pebble fell on the head of the soldiers and pierced through their body to reach the ground and sank into it. Consequently the entire army perished, except one soldier. This soldier retreated to king Najjashi and related the episode in detail. This incident gained so much importance that the year began to be referred to as 'Aamul Feel', or the year of the Elephant. Thus the history of Arabs record the birth of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to be in the year 1st Aamul Feel and the year of his Be'sat (declaration of Prophethood) to be 40th Aamul Feel.

Fourth Example

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and How His Life was Saved

The protection of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) from the blood thirsty people of Makkah and later his being shielded from death in the various battles is considered to be a sign of Allah. All the polytheists had united to martyr the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) right from the day he declared his Prophethood. They had all the means to achieve their purpose but as a Persian couplet says: "Who can extinguish the lamp lighted by Allah."

Fifth Example

He Creates Without an Apparent Cause

Even if the apparent causes, both material and non-material ones, are absent, Allah creates them by His unsurpassed power. There are numerous examples of such a phenomenon. The foremost example is that of the father of man, Hazrat Adam (a.s.) whom Allah created without the union of a male and a female. Adam (a.s.) came into existence from non-existence. Similarly Prophet Isa (a.s.) was born to the chaste maid, Janabe Maryam (a.s.) even though a man had not touched her.

Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) when he had reached an extremely old age and when his wife had lost all hopes of conceiving. Hazrat Ishaq (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) when Hazrat Ibrahim was aged and inspite of his wife Janabe Sarah being barren previously.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) And His Knowledge

The Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) did not attend any school nor did he learn from any teacher. He was not trained to read and write by any mortal. Yet, he was the teacher of humanity and was having command upon the Quranic sciences. In fact his personality was a conglomeration of the qualities of all the previous prophets. The presence of such outstanding qualities in one person without any apparent causes, can only be understood to be the Divine will.

Invocations are Answered Without the Presence of Apparent Means

The Beneficial God listens to the invocations of His creatures and fulfills their desires. Many a times we see that people who have no means whatsoever are able to get rid of their afflictions and distress. Due to the grace of Sadaqah, incurable diseases are cured and destitutes become rich. People surrounded by calamities are saved in ways they could not have even imagined.

The traditional reports are replete with such instances. The unlimited beneficence and grace of the Almighty Allah has been described by Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) in the following couplets:
"Only the wise could estimate, the unlimited Grace of the Almighty Allah who releases us from calamities, and removes grief from the defeated hearts. On numerous occasions, man is sorrowful in the morning. But by evening his disposition changes into happiness. So when you are surrounded by difficulties, repose absolute hope in the Unique God."

Love of Ali (a.s.)

Imam Yafai writes in his book, 'Rawzatul Rehayeen' the explanation of Diwan-e-Mubeedi and says, "A certain king gave a pearl to his jeweller. The jeweller's child somehow got hold of this pearl and broke it into two pieces. The jeweller was in agony. He was asked by some person to recite the above mentioned couplets of Imam Ali (a.s.) with sincerity. Hardly had he begun to recite that a messenger from the king arrived. He told him that physicians have suggested that if his pearl is powered and given to the sick princess she would be cured of her malady. The King has sent orders to the jeweller to powder that pearl at once and take it to the palace.



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

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