It is reported that a young man approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and asked,
"O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.), I have a mother who is an invalid. She cannot even move by herself. I carry her on my back and feed her with my hands. I also clean her excreta. Have I fulfilled her rights?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"No. Because you have remained in the womb for a long period during which you derived your nourishment from her body. She was every busy in caring and protecting you at all costs. Inspite of such hardships she always wished a long life for you. But you are waiting for her to die so that you may relieved of the responsibility of taking care of her."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) described the eminence of a mother's position in the following statement:
1) "If you are praying a mustahab prayer and your father calls you, do not break your prayer but if your mother calls, break the prayer."
Truly, this assigns a remarkably high status to a mother. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) states,
"Paradise is at the feet of your mother."
Hence one need not go far in search of Paradise.
Be Good to Parents Even if They Are Kafirs
Whether the parents are believers and pious or Kafirs and sinful, goodness towards them is wajib. And 'Aaq-e-Waledain' is Haraam.
The verse of Surah Luqman says thus,
"And if they contend with you that you should associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them, and keep company with them in this world kindly...".
(Surah Luqman 31:15)
Dua For Sunni Parents
Moammar Ibne Khallad asked Imam Reza (a.s.) whether one is allowed to pray for one's parents if they had not followed the truth and had not been Shia.
Imam Reza (a.s.) replied,
"If they are dead, pray for them and give Sadaqah on their behalf. If they are alive keep them happy."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says;
"Allah the Most High has sent me as the Mercy for the worlds, except to the 'Aaq' (of parents)."
Jabir Ibne Abdullah (r.a.) reports that someone asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "My parents are against the truth, i.e. they are not the Shia of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)". Imam replied:
"Be good towards them like you would be towards out Shias."
Momin and Kafir Are Equal Under Three Circumstances
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said;
"Allah has not given superiority to a Momin in three circumstances.
First, to return what has been entrusted to you for safe keeping whether it belongs to a Momin or a Kafir.
Second, fulfilling an oath, whether given to a Momin or a Kafir. Third, doing good to the parents, whether they be Momin or Kafir."
A letter on various aspects of Islamic Shariat, written by Hazrat Imam Reza (a.s.) to Mamun, include the following:
"Benevolence to parents is wajib even if both of them are 'Mushrik'. However obedience to parents is not wajib if their order is against the orders of the Creator."
Advice of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) to Zakaria Ibne Ibrahim
Zakaria, the son of Ibrahim, was a Christian. Later he converted to Islam and had the honour of meeting Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He told Imam (a.s.) "My mother is a Christian and she is old and blind." The Imam advised him,
"Serve your mother and behave kindly towards her. Upon her death, do not leave her dead body to others. Perform her funeral rites yourself."
Thus this statement of the Imam (a.s.) is pregnant with two prophecies. Her death, and her conversion to Islam.
When Zakaria returned to Kufa he began to behave very kindly with his mother. He fed her with his own hands. Changed her clothes, washed and bathed her too. In short, he served his mother in every possible way. His mother asked, "My son you were not so dutiful when you were a Christian. Why is it that now you serve me day and night?"
Zakaria replied, "O my mother. I have a master who is the son of the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.). He advised me to serve you in this way." The mother asked, "Is he a prophet?" "No. But he is a son of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)." "Such a person must be a Prophet because only prophets teach such manners." The mother remarked.
Zakaria explained to his mother, "The chain of the Prophets came to an end with the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.). He was the seal of the Prophets. The one who has guided me is the son of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)." The mother said, "My son, the religion of Islam that you have embraced is better than all the religions. Teach me, so that I too may become a Muslim."
So, Zakaria made her recite the 'Kalima' and taught her the true beliefs. Later, this lady performed the Zohrain and the Maghrebain prayers. The same night death approached her. She told her son: "Dear son, repeat to me again whatever you have taught me." Zakaria began to recite while she listened carefully and in this way she passed away.
Displeasing the parents is Haraam and goodness towards them is Wajib, whether they are alive or dead. In other words parents have rights upon their children even after they (the parents) are dead.
If the son or the daughter forgets the parents after their death and does not perform good deeds on their behalf, it is 'Aaq-e-Waledain' irrespective of the fact that the child had fulfilled all his or her rights and served them till the time of their death.
Rights of Parents After Their Death
First: To carry out the Wajib acts which they did not perform during their life time, like Namaz, Roza, Hajj and repayment of debts.
Second: To Act on their will and testament.
Third: To perform various good deeds for their salvation, i.e., to give Sadaqah, to perform charitable acts, and to carry out recommended acts on their behalf. In short, one should strive to the utmost in doing good deeds on their behalf so that Allah may shower His blessing and mercy on them.
The Disobedient Children After the Death of Their Parents
It is narrated from Hazrat Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.):
"Certainly, if a person is good to his parents when they are alive but forsakes them after they die and does not repay their debts or pray for their forgiveness, Allah will record 'Aaq-e-Waledain' in the account of his deeds. On the other hand, if a person is 'Aaq-e-Waledain' when they are alive but after their death repays their debts and prays for their forgiveness and salvation, Allah will include him among the righteous people".
Single Action, Multiple Rewards
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"What prevents you from serving your parents in their life and death? The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) remarks about the goodness to parents after death. "Perform their 'namaz' (if some wajib prayers have been omitted by them, the eldest son should perform them himself, or have them fulfilled by someone else on payment. However, if no wajib prayer is remaining upon them, then he could pray Nawafil Namaz for them or have them performed on payment.) Pay Sadaqah on their behalf. Complete their Qaza fasts and fulfill the obligation of their Hajj. Whatever you do, both of you will be rewarded (i.e.you and your parents).
Apart from this, goodness to parents carries double rewards. One for the action itself, and second for the benevolence towards the parents.
Praying (Dua) For the Parents and Seeking Forgiveness On Their Belief
It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that a man approached him and asked whether his parents have any rights upon him after their death? The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"Yes, pray Namaz for them, seek forgiveness on their behalf, respect their tradition, and be good to their relatives."
When is Obedience to the Parents Wajib?
The orders and restraints of the parents are of no significance with respect to the wajib acts and the Divine prohibitions. For example if the parents order the child to drink wine or restrain him from the obligatory prayers and fasts, they should not be obeyed. It is expressly mentioned in this Verse of Surah Luqman:
"And if they contend with you that you should associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them..."
(Surah Luqman 31:15)
The traditions also support this Ayat:
"No Obedience of a creature in contravention to the Divine command."
Apart from these circumstances, obedience to parents is obligatory with regards to the Makruh and Mubah acts. The same applies to the Wajib-e-Kifai.
If by performing these actions, the parents are displeased or hurt, it is 'Haraam', a Greater Sin and causes one to be 'Aaq-e-Waledain'. Suppose the son wishes to proceed on a non-obligatory journey and the parents restrain him as they fear some harm for him, or because they cannot bear to be separated from him; and the son disobeys them and goes ahead with the journey, such a journey is Haraam. It is a journey of sin. Salaat and Fasting is not Qasr for this journey. In short, anything that causes displeasure and hurts the parents, is absolutely Haraam.
Obedience to parents is not obligatory in the following cases:
When it causes unbearable hardships or harm. For instance, if they restrain the son from marriage when he feels the need for it. Or they order the son to divorce his wife without a sound reason. If such an action will result in harm to both the spouses, it is not obligatory to obey the parents.
As far as I know, it is not obligatory to obey parents even in cases where they do not get angry or hurt if their commands are disobeyed.
As far as possible one should obey their orders and restrain from opposing them. Especially when the parents advise their children for their own benefit and without any selfish motive.
Disagreement among the Parents
If a situation arises when there is a disagreement between the parents on any subject, as far as possible, one should try to pacify and satisfy both of them. However, if it is not possible then the wish of the mother should be given precedence.
We have already seen the reasons why her rights far exceed those of the father. She is also more deserving of obedience because being a woman she is more sensitive in comparison to men. The mother is easily disturbed by the slightest hurt caused by her child. She becomes restless and uncontrollable due to her motherly feelings. In contrast, the father exercises reason and intelligence and being less emotional, is much less affected. He would realise that the son is obeying the mother because of the very special status granted to her by Allah and not because he intends to disobey his father due to disregard for him.
Permission of the Parents is Necessary
The Islamic Shariat has prescribed certain matters wherein it is necessary to obtain the permission of both the parents. Or at least of one of them. For example, the Wajib-e-Kifai acts like Jehad, or the Mustahab acts like the recommended fasts, or matters like taking an oath, vow and promises. In all such cases it is Wajib to obtain the parents' permission. The First Martyr1 had mentioned ten topics on the rights of parents in his book "Qawaid". It will be appropriate to mention them.
Journey of the Child and the Martyr's viewpoint
1) Mubah and Mustahab journey without the permission of parents is Haraam. However a business journey and the journey undertaken for acquiring knowledge is allowed according to some Mujtahids.
2) Some Jurists are of the opinion that, obedience to parents is Wajib upon the child in every condition where there exists a doubt. Hence if the parents order their son or daughter to eat with them, and if there is doubt regarding the food, it is incumbent to obey the parents. Because, obedience to parents is Wajib while avoiding food in case of doubt, is Mustahab.
3) If it is time for prayers and the parents would like to get some work done, it is necessary to carry out the orders before offering Namaz. Here again the offering of Namaz at the earliest is Mustahab whereas the obedience to parents is Wajib.
Refraining From Namaz-e-Jamat
1) Parents cannot prevent their child from performing Namaz in congregation unless it causes some problem to them. For example, the absence of the son, while he goes for Fajr or Isha prayers, may cause them anxiety regarding their own security or the safety of their property. Or, it may make them apprehensive about the son's safety.
2) If it is not absolutely obligatory (Wajib-e-Aini) the parents can stop their son from going on Jehad.
3) Regarding the commands, which are Wajib-e-Kifai, the parents can prevent their son or daughter only if there is a certainty or a chance of the Wajib being fulfilled by other people.
4) Some jurists are of the opinion that if one is praying a recommended prayer, he can interrupt it if his parents call him.
5) One must forgo recommended fasts if the father disallows them.
6) In the matter regarding vows and promises, if the parents are against it, then one must not disobey them.
7) It is the duty of the son to ensure that he causes no harm to his parents. And if someone else intends to harm them, the son must do everything in his capacity to ward off the harm.
Respect For Parents
As it is Wajib to fulfill the rights of the parents, it is also necessary to give them due respect and honour. Numerous traditions have been recorded from the Ahlul-bayt (a.s.)
1) One must not address the parents by their names. However, they can be addressed by their title or kunniyat.
2) One must not precede them while walking, nor should one sit down before them.
3) While having meals one should not begin before the parents. Hazrat Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) did not have meals with his mother for the fear that he may pick a morsel which she intended to.
4) One must never sit with one's back to our parents in a gathering.
5) While speaking, one's voice should not rise above the voice of one's parents.
6) One should not do anything that would cause the parents to become a butt of criticism. We must not insult the parents of others, or they would insult our parents in retaliation.
7) Hazrat Sajjad (a.s.) saw a young man walking on the street with the support of his father's hand. He was much displeased and did not even speak to the boy again.
It is the unanimous opinion of the jurists that 'Ahsan' of parents means refraining from everything that displeases them.
The following actions are considered disrespectful:
1) Not providing them with the necessities, thus compelling them to beg for them.
2) Not inviting them to a function where others have been invited.
3) Not getting presents for them from a site where one had been to, on a journey.
All the above acts are Haraam. In addition, the jurists also consider the following actions Haraam: -
1) To turn away from the parents with disdain.
2) To sit with one's back towards the parents.
3) To speak in a voice louder than the parents.
4) Walking ahead of the parents.
If any of them do not cause disrespect or displeasure, they are allowed. However, to refrain from them is 'mustahab'.
Rights of the Children Upon Their Parents
Just as it is Wajib for the children to respect, honour and fulfill the rights of their parents, it is incumbent upon the mother and the father to fulfill the rights, which the children have upon them. If the parents do not fulfill these rights, it would amount to Qate Rahmi (cutting off the relationships). Since children are the closest to parents it is a must to refrain from Qate Rahmi with them, and Qate Rahmi is a great sin, as would be described later.
Just as the children become 'Aaq-e-Waledain' by not complying with their duties, the parents also become 'Aaq' if they fail to perform their duties towards their children. Further, the parents should not impose unbearable commands upon the children such that the children are forced to find excuses for not obeying them and thus become 'Aaq'.
The parents should not ridicule their children for their actions. Rather the children must be corrected by constructive criticism. Ridicule makes the children stubborn and creates enmity between them and the parents. When the parents fail to fulfill the rights of the children, it induces the children to forsake the rights of the parents in retaliation. As a consequence, both the parents and the children are involved in a Greater Sin.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"The parents are liable to be 'Aaq' in the same way as the children who do not fulfill the rights of the parents become involved in the sin of 'Uqooq' (plural of Aaq)."
It is therefore a solemn duty of the parents to behave kindly with their children and give them a good training and education. They should keep them under gentle control and must not do anything that would cause them to be 'Aaq'.
For example, the parents should overlook the minor faults of the children. They should appreciate insignificant favours and show happiness and gratitude for these favours which would encourage the child to further good actions. They should make the children aware that they wish them the best and pray for their happiness in the world and the Hereafter.
We will now put forward the rights of children upon their parents, as enunciated by educated jurists and propounded in the books of Islamic Law.
Maintenance of Children
It is Wajib upon the parents to bear the expenses of the children right from the time of their birth till they become independent, and in case of a daughter, till she gets married.
Arranging the Marriage
One of the most important duties of the father is to arrange for the marriage of the son when he attains maturity. In case of the daughter too the father must strive to find a good match for her. The parents cannot restrain their daughter from matrimony. The Holy Quran states clearly:
"...then do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree among themselves in a lawful manner."
(Surah Baqarah 2:232)
Religious Education and Training
Another important duty for the parents is to give a good education to their children. The parents must strive to instruct the children with regard to the fundamentals of Islamic faith. The seriousness and significance of observing the laws of Shariat should be inculcated in the children, and no leniency must be shown if the religious laws are not strictly followed. However, the aspect of Amr bil Maroof and Nahy Anil Munkar must be kept in mind. The details regarding the same shall be explained in the chapter of Amr bil Maroof (enjoining good) and Nahy Anil Munkar (forbidding evil).
Various traditions stress upon the duty of the parents to shower their love and affection upon the children. A few of these are quoted below.
Love and Affection For the Children
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Be affectionate to your children and have mercy upon them. When you promise them something, fulfill your promise because the children repose hope only in the parents. When a promise is not fulfilled, it causes dissatisfaction and strains relationships. Certainly Allah is most wrathful when the women and children are disheartened."
Kissing the Children
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has told that when a person kisses his child, a good deed is recorded in his Nama-e-Aamal (Scroll of deeds).
Daughters Are More Deserving of Kindness
The parents have been ordered to be more kind towards the daughters. It is mustahab that when a father brings something for the children he must first offer it to the daughter; especially the one who is named Fatima.
If the children oppose the parents, they must never be abused or reviled. The curses of the parents cause an increase in the misery of the children.
Spiritual Fathers Are More Qualified For Kindness
Whatever has been mentioned till now concerns the biological parents; however the spiritual fathers or the guides of humanity are Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and his Purified Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). All of us are spiritually related to them. In every circumstance their followers can be enriched by virtues and get protection from calamities. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has informed, "I and Ali (both) are the fathers of this Ummat." The spiritual fathers are superior to the biological parents in a manner that the soul is superior to the physical body. Similarly the punishment of the 'Aaq' of the spiritual fathers is much more severe than that of the 'Aaq' of ordinary parents.
High Rewards and More Punishment
The rewards for kindness to the spiritual father is a thousand times more than kindness to the real parents. In the same way the 'Aaq' of a spiritual father is far more severely punishable, i.e., Heaven is prohibited for the person who disobeys the spiritual father, and none of his deeds are accepted even if he prays in the nights and fasts during the day. The punishment for those who do not acknowledge the Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is more severe because the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the real spiritual fathers. It would be wrong to consider all the Quranic verses and traditions in connection with Uqooq-e-Waledain to be restricted to biological parents. The Holy Quran and hadith are unanimous in declaring that the commands for Uqooq-e-Waledain apply equally and more stringently to the spiritual as well as biological parents. The ultimate argument in this connection is the Quranic verse wherein Allah has ordered obedience towards the parents along with His own worship.
"Be grateful to Me and both your parents."
(Surah Luqman 31:14)
"And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:23)
A similar reference to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is to be found in the chapter of Sileh Rahem. Two traditions are reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)
The first tradition is when Umroo bin Yazid enquired about the meaning of the following Ayat of Surah Raad:
"And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
The next tradition is concerned with the tafsir of the same 'Ayat'. It says that the above Ayat has been revealed about the Sileh Rahem to Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), the close relatives of the Momin being included in it. The tradition further says,
"And do not be of those who restrict the Ayat to some particular personalities. But whenever you hear of a verse regarding a kind of people you must consider it to be applicable to the other people of the same kind."
The Uqooq of Spiritual Fathers
The Uqooq of the spiritual fathers means to disobey their commands and to be heedless of their orders. To sever relationships with them in this world by not acknowledging their leadership. Imam Reza (a.s.) asked,
"Won't you feel bad if your parents are displeased and say that you are not their child?"
Those who were present answered, "Yes". Imam (a.s.) continued,
"The spiritual parents are superior to your biological parents. Do not give them an opportunity to say this. Rather consider yourself lucky be to their son or daughter."
Seventh Greater Sin
(Breaking up relations)
Breaking up relations
The seventh Greater Sin is the breaking up of relations with one's kith and kin. This is clearly verified by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as well as Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.). The Quran has also decreed Hell-fire and the curse of Allah upon those who cut off ties with their relatives.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Beware of those who cut off relations because I have found them cursed thrice in the Quran."
1) Surah Baqarah, Ayat No.27
Whoever break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined, and make mischief in the land, these it is that are the losers.
In the Quranic terminology when the word Khaasir (loser) is used it denotes the one who is to be in loss, or rather the one who is cursed.
2) Surah Raad, Ayat No.25
And those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder which Allah has ordered to be joined and make mischief in the land; (as for) those, upon them shall be curse and they shall have the evil (issue) of the abode.
3) Surah Muhammad, Ayat No.22-23
But if you held command, you were sure to make mischief in the land and cut off the ties of kinship. Those it is whom Allah has cursed, so He has made them deaf and blinded their eyes.
The Denouncement of "Cutting Off Kinship Ties" in the Traditions
Numerous traditions have reached us in this regard. A few of these reports are quoted here:
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) states:
There is destruction in enmity, especially with the relatives. I do not mean the destruction of the law but rather the destruction of the religion. (Enmity among people not only harms the hair and the body, but it also destroys one's religion).
(Al Kafi, Chapter of Qate-Rahem)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Protect yourself from 'Haliqa' for it destroys the people." The narrator asked "What is 'Haliqa'", Imam replied, "To sever relations."
The Worst Deed in the Eyes of Allah
A man approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and enquired, "What is the worst deed in the eyes of Allah?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"To attribute partners to Allah."
The man then asked, "After this which is the worst sin?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"To sever relations".
After this the same person asked, "After this which is the worst sin?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied:
"To enjoin the evil and to forbid the good (deeds)."
Goodness in Return of Ill-Treatment
A man complained to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) about his relatives. Imam (a.s.) said,
"Swallow your anger and behave nicely with your relatives."
The man said, "My relatives give me all sorts of troubles and there is hardly any cruelty they have not committed upon me." The Imam (a.s.) told him,
"Do you also want to cut off relation with them? If you also become like them, then Allah will never have mercy for you."
Allama Majlisi (r.a.) says, "If one behaves kindly to the relatives who are bad, they would at one time or the other regret their behaviour. Then the Mercy of Allah will be upon both of them. If the ill-behaved relatives do not rectify their ways then at least the Mercy of Allah will be upon the one who continues kindness to them (the relatives).
It is very clear to us that we must not sever relations even with those relatives who are unkind to us and who want to cut off the relationships.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Do not sever relation with your kindered even if they cut off relations with you."
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states:
"There are three sins whose punishment has to be borne in this world itself:-
The first is injustice, the second is breaking of relationships and the third is false oath."
Life is Shortened
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says in one of his sermons: -
"I seek refuge from the sins which cause the hastening of death."
Someone asked him, "Maula, Is there any sin by which the death is hastened?" He replied,
"Yes, the breaking up of the family ties."
Families who live with co-operation and care for each other are given increase in sustenance by Allah and those who remain divided and are aloof from each other, Allah removes the bounty from their sustenance and their lifespan shortens even if they are all pious (in other respects).
Death Due to Qat-e-Rahmi
A companion of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) complained about the ill-treatment given to him by his relatives,
"My own brother as well as my paternal cousins are harassing me. They have snatched the house that rightfully belonged to me and have given me only a room to live in. If I complain to the government, I shall be able to recover all my property.
Imam (a.s.) said,
"Be patient, everything will be alright."
The man returned satisfied. In the year 131 A.H. there was a terrible plague. All the relatives of the man perished. Thereafter when he arrived before Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), he (Imam a.s.) asked,
"How are your relatives?"
The man said, "By Allah all of them are dead." The Imam (a.s.) said,
"Their deaths have been due to their ill-treatment and Qat-e-Rahmi of relatives like you, not recognizing your right and cutting off relationships."
Bereft of Divine Mercy
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"When people claim to possess knowledge but do not act upon it, when they claim to profess love but harbour malice in their hearts and sever relations, in such a condition Allah removes mercy from them and makes them undiscerning to logic.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Among the various sins, injustice and cutting off relationships are such that one who commits these is punished in this world itself. Apart from this the punishment for these sinners has already been prepared in the Hereafter."
At another occasion the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has informed:
"One who severs relationships will not enter Heaven."
Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari (r.a.) has related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) that he quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as follows:
"Jibraeel (a.s.) has informed me that even at a distance of a thousand years man will be able to smell the fragrance of Heaven , but one who disobeys his parents, the one who breaks ties with the kith and kin, or the aged adulterer will not be able to smell it. In fact, the fragrance of Paradise will be felt even at a distance of two thousand years, but not by those who disobey their parents and those who break ties with the relatives."
The exalted Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.) has also informed that the invocation of the person who breaks family ties shall not be answered. "In the chapter on the merits of Shab-e-Qadr the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated that in the night of Qadr Allah forgives the sins of all the people except of those who drink wine, who disobey their parents, and those who break ties with the relatives or harbour enmity towards the believers."
Kindness to Relatives is Obligatory
The Almighty Allah says in the Quran:
"...and be cautious of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship;"
(Surah Nisa 4:1)
According to Imam al-Baqir (a.s.), the notable point in this verse is that the fear of Allah is mentioned alongwith the fear one should have about breaking relations with kith and kin.
In the book Al Kafi there is a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He says:
"The relatives in this Ayat, include all, and not only the nearest ones. Certainly Allah has ordered kindness towards all the relatives. Allah has given so much importance to this deed that he mentions it with his exalted name."
Kindness to Relatives is Commanded in the Same Way as Namaz and Zakat
It is related from Imam Ali-ar-Reza (a.s.):
"Allah has ordered three things along with three others, in the glorious Quran:
1) Namaz is ordered along with Zakat. If one offers Namaz but does not pay Zakat (when it is due upon him) then his Namaz will not be accepted.
2) Allah has ordered thankfulness to Himself along with the thankfulness to one's parents. If one is not grateful to one's parents it is as if he has not been grateful to Allah.
3) Allah has ordered piety along with kindness to ones kith and kin. Then one who is not kind towards the relatives is not pious."
Rights of the Relatives and the Ease in Reckoning
The Creator of the Universe, Almighty Allah remarks in the Holy Quran:
"Certainly Allah orders equity, kindness (to people) and the giving (of what they need) to the relatives."
(Surah Nahl 16:90)
In Surah Raad is the following verse:
"And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
The expression 'reckoning' in this Ayat denotes the accounting of one's deeds with regard to his duty of kindness towards relatives. This Ayat shows that kindness towards the kith and kin shall be an important factor to ease the difficulty of the accounting for one's deeds.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains as follows:
"Kindness to relatives makes the reckoning (of the Hereafter) easy."
The Inimical Relative of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) made a will in his last moments:
"Pay seventy Dinars to my paternal cousin Hasan Aftas."
He was asked, "Master you are making a gift to someone who has attacked you with a sword?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Do you think I should not be included among those concerning whom the Quran says:
'And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning…"
(Surah Raad: 13:21)
Allah has created Paradise, purified it and made it fragrant. Its fragrance is felt at a distance of two thousand years (of travel). But the one who disobeys his parents or breaks ties with the kin will be so far away from Paradise, that he will not even experience its fragrance.
Traditions Regarding Kindness to Relatives
There are numerous traditions to the fact that Sileh Rahmi is obligatory. In one of such traditions Imam Baqir (a.s.) relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"I will (command) all the people of my Ummat, whether present or not, and those generations which are to come till the Qiyamat, who are still in the loins of their father and wombs of their mothers, that they should be kind to their relatives (and visit them) even if they live at a distance of a year's journey. Because kindness to relatives is one of the commands which is made an integral part of the faith (Imaan)."
One Who is Kind to the Relatives Will be Able to Cross the Bridge of Siraat Smoothly
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) relates from Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (r.a.) who quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to have remarked:
'Siraat (the bridge passing over Hell that everyone has to cross) will have on each side (of it) 'Sileh Rahmi' and 'Amanat' (keeping a trust) one who performs the act of Sileh Rahmi and maintains trusts (Amanat) shall be able to cross the 'Siraat' easily and will reach Paradise.
None of the good deeds will benefit those who have broken ties with relatives or committed breach of trust. They will slip from the bridge of 'Siraat' and drop into Hell-fire.
The Worldly Benefits of Kindness to Relatives
Numerous reports (Rawayaat) testify that Sileh Rahmi (kindness to one's relatives) also has worldly benefits. Like, increase in the life-span, postponement of death, increase in the number of descendants etc., Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) related three traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the court of Mansur Dawaniqi (l.a.).
1) "A man who has only three years of life remaining, performs an act of kindness to his relatives and Allah increases his life by thirty years. In the same way a man has thirty years of life but due to his breaking off the ties of relationship, his (remaining) life is decreased to three years. Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said: Whatever Allah wills He erases and whatever He wills He writes.
It means that if Allah wills He can alter (certain destinies) due to one's actions and deeds."
2) "Fulfilling the rights of kith and kin increases the life-span even if the relative is a sinner."
3) Sileh Rahmi (kindness to relatives) is a cause for the easy accounting of one's deeds on the day of Qiyamat and it (Sileh Rahmi) protects one from sudden death."
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has told Maysar:
(O' Maysar) the time of your death has arrived many times but Allah has postponed (your death) due to your kindness to the relatives and good behaviour towards them.
'Sileh Rahmi' Prolongs Life
It is reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said to Maysar,
"O Maysar, truly your lifespan has increased, what good actions have you been performing?"
Maysar replied, "In my youth I used to earn from my labours an amount of five Dinars a day and I used to give these to my maternal uncle."
Yaqoob Magribi was once in the presence of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) said,
"You and your brother had an argument over the ownership of a house. So much so that you abused each other and broke up the ties of relationsip. Such a thing is not from my religion, neither is it from the religion of my ancestors. Then fear Allah , the One Who is without any partner. Fear the Divine Punishment. Due to this sin, death shall soon separate you (two). Your brother will die in this journey and you shall regret you actions."
The man asked,"May my life be sacrificed upon you, when will I die?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Your death had also arrived but you did an act of kindness to your father's sister (your aunt) and thus your lifespan increased by twenty years (or months)."
As Imam (a.s.) has predicted, Yaqoob's brother died before he could reach home and was buried on the way.
The Benefits of Sileh Rahmi in the Hereafter
The practice of Sileh Rahmi (kindness to kith and kin) accrues worldly advantages, spiritual benefits and bounties of the Hereafter.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq says:
"Sileh Rahmi perfects the morals and encourages charity. When one performs Sileh Rahmi he has to be benevolent towards his relatives. The continuous practice of Sileh Rahmi brings refinement in his morals. In the same way repeated acts of kindness inculcate a benign and compassionate feeling in the person, and the soul is purified (from the sin of jealousy and enmity).
Sileh Rahmi Causes All the Good Deeds to be Accepted
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states:
Sileh Rahmi (kindness to relatives) purifies deeds. Purification of deeds means, that the shortcomings in all the good deeds of a person practicing Sileh Rahmi are naturally compensated and all his good deeds are accepted by Allah.
It increases wealth, wards off difficulties and calamities. The accounting of your actions on the day of Qiyamat is made easy. Even the ordained time of death is postponed.
Extending Hand of Friendship Towards Those Who Want to Break the Ties (Qat-e-Rahem)
Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says:
There are two actions, towards which, a step taken is liked by Allah more than anything else. One is the step taken to join a row formed in the name of Allah (for Jehad or Namaz); the second is the one taken to extend a hand of friendship towards kith and kin who want to break relations.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Certainly there is a section in Paradise which can not be attained except by three kinds of people. First the just Imam, second, the one who does Sileh Rahmi, and third the one who has family (and children) but remains patient (in poverty and difficulties).
The Reward of Sileh Rahmi
The reward for Sileh Rahmi has been described by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in one of his traditions. He says:
"When a person goes towards his relatives so that he can fulfill his rights with his life and his wealth, Allah bestows upon him the reward of a martyr at every step he takes. He (Allah) writes down forty thousand Hasana (the unit of Divine rewards) and He erases forty thousand of his sins and He elevates him by forty thousand grades. The person achieves the position of one who has worshipped Allah for a hundred years."
At another place the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says, regarding the rewards for Sileh Rahmi:
"The reward for Sadaqah in the way of Allah is ten times, whereas the reward for giving a loan is twelve times (because in giving a loan the dignity of the Loanee is maintained). The reward for the good behaviour to the believing brothers is twelve times and the reward for Sileh Rahmi is twenty four times."
The Meaning of Sileh Rahmi and Qat-e-Rahmi
The Shariat of Islam has not provided any fixed definition for these two terms. In this case the meaning as judged by common sense and reason must be accepted. We must consider all the relatives from the father's side and mother's side, irrespective of whether they are close or distant, to be our kith and kin who have a right on us. In the same way the children of the daughters and their descendant also come in this category as the Quran says:
'Those who join together (do Sileh Rahmi) those things which Allah has commanded to be joined."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
Urwah Ibne-Yazeed asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of this Ayat (Surah Raad 13:21), the Imam (a.s.) replied;
"You have been commanded to do Sileh Rahmi towards all your relatives. Whether they are Mehram (in the prohibited category of marriage) or Namehram, (not in the prohibited category) whether they are distant relatives or closely related, whether they are immediate relatives or separated by several generations."
No Discrimination Between the Affluent and the Poor Relatives
It is generally observed that people tend to behave graciously towards their wealthy relatives and avoid the poor ones. The faith of Islam does not differentiate or discriminate between the rich and the poor relatives. What is important is the closeness of relationship. The more closely a person is related to you, the more important and necessary it is to fulfill his rights.
What is Sileh Rahmi?
Any behaviour which is generally regarded by people as good, kind, gracious or obligatory, when directed towards your relatives is Sileh Rahmi.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The kindness towards relative and goodness towards the believing brother makes easy your reckoning on the Day of Judgement and protects you from sins. So you should be kind to your relatives and be good to your believing brothers even if it is as little as a sincere 'salaam' (salutation) or a hearty reply to a salaam."
At another place the Sixth Imam (a.s.) remarks:
"Do Sileh Rahmi towards your relatives and the near ones even if it is just by offering a glass of water to them."
The Different Grades of Sileh Rahmi
Shaheed-e-Thani1 (r.a.) describes the grades of Sileh Rahmi in the following words:
It is deduced from the traditions that the highest stage of Sileh Rahmi is to consider the relatives as our own selves. That is, we should wish for our relations whatever we wish for ourselves.
The next stage of Sileh Rahmi is to help relatives overcome the difficulties and hardships they may be facing. Next, we must earnestly try to benefit our kith and kin as much as possible, in areas where they need help and of course in a manner permitted by religion. This benefit can be either economic or by way of making a person independent, by securing for him a job or initiating him into a trade. It can also be in the form of a sound advice, spiritual guidance and religious teachings.
The fourth stage of Sileh Rahmi is towards those people who are dependents of our relatives. For example, the brother's wife or the step-mother.
The simplest kind of Sileh Rahmi consists of salutations, a lesser kind is the conveying of Salaam (through someone). The smallest kind of Sileh Rahmi is to pray for relatives in their presence and to encourage them.
The Difference Between Breaking Relations With Nearest Kin and With Distant Relatives
Qat-e-Rahmi and Sileh Rahmi with respect to the close kith and kin could be different from that with the distant relatives. It is possible that a certain action or attitude towards close relative would amount to Qat-e-Rahmi but the same towards a distant relative may not be regarded as such. Also a certain behaviour with a knowledgeable and a pious relative may be termed as Qat-e-Rahmi but with respect to other relatives it may not be so. It is best to refrain from every act that could possibly amount to Qat-e-Rahmi. We must observe keen precaution in this matter lest we bring upon ourselves the severe punishment of a Greater Sin.
Arrogance Towards Poor Relatives is Qat-e-Rahmi
The ones most guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi are the rich and affluent who do not acknowledge their connections with their poor relatives and deal with them with pride and arrogance, while they are gallant and kind to their wealthy relatives. To neglect one's duty and give importance to material possessions, contradicts the laws of Islam both in the letter and spirit.
What is the Least Amount of Sileh Rahmi That is Wajib
Every kind of Sileh Rahmi, the failure of which is viewed as a sort of Qat-e-Rahmi, is obligatory for us. For example, if a person is unable to fulfill his needs due to poverty or is unable to get medical aid for any reason, or is in debt; and he approaches a rich relative for help; it is obligatory on the rich person to help him. Even if the rich person is not approached directly but comes to know the predicament of his poor relative, it is obligatory on him to help this less fortunate relative. The wealthy man who fails to carry out these obligations will be guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi.
It is however not obligatory for a person to help his poor relative if he himself is not in a sound position to do so and fears that his finances will be constrained or that he himself may become a destitute. Also, Sileh Rahmi is not obligatory, if by doing so he will violate the laws of Islam. For example one need not pay a visit to a relative, if by doing so one would be in the midst of Na-mehram or may be compelled to hear music.
Sometimes we may be in doubt whether a particular action could be considered as Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi. In this case the reference point is to see how the people in general view it. The criteria for deciding that a particular behaviour is Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi therefore depends on the general feeling for it. If a small lapse like not saluting or non-compliance with a small request is Qat-e-Rahmi according to those around us, then it is so. By the same token if observing small niceties are considered as Sileh Rahmi, then it is so.
Sileh Rahmi With Certain Relatives is Mustahab if Not Wajib
At times some obligations towards distant relatives are not considered Sileh Rahmi and accordingly are not Wajib (obligatory) for us. But these obligations are bound to be Mustahab. In any event, it is best to conduct ourselves in a manner that we totally eliminate the risk of committing a Greater Sin.
Breaking Ties Even With Those Who Wish to Break Up Ties With us is Haraam
Although one would not be at fault from a worldly point of view, according to Shariat, breaking ties even with those who want to do so is Haraam.
It is natural for a person who, finding that his relative does not acknowledge him nor fulfills his rights, reacts by remaining aloof and allowing the bonds of kinship to be broken.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Do not break ties with your relatives even if they break them with you."
The Order of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) Regarding Qat-e-Rahmi
Abdullah Ibne Sinan says that I pleaded to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "I have a cousin, I do Sileh Rahmi (kindness) towards him and do not wish to break ties with him. But he wants to break ties with me. (Master!) I want to maintain relations but he wishes to sever them. Due to this behaviour of his I am also inclined to cut off ties with him. Can you permit me to do so?"
Imam (a.s.) replied:
"(Remember) If you behave kindly with this relative of yours inspite of his Qat-e-Rahmi (then it is possible that one day this will affect him and he too will begin to fulfill his obligations). In this way the Mercy of Allah shall be upon both of you. But if you break ties with this cousin of yours then neither of you shall be eligible for the Mercy of Allah."
Goodness in Return of Ill-Treatment
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If any one betrays trust with you, do not betray trust with him or you will also become like him. Similarly, do not break ties with your relatives even if they do so."
It means that if we reciprocate the malice of a relative we shall also be like him (i.e. sinful). In the same way the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has invited us to perform kindness in lieu of misdemeanor. He remarks, "Do you wish me to tell you (about those qualities) which shall benefit you in this world as well as Hereafter?"
The people said, "O Prophet of Allah! Please do so."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"The three such qualities are, firstly, to do Sileh Rahmi with one who does Qat-e-Rahmi with you. Secondly, fulfill the needs of one who has deprived you. Thirdly, forgive those who have oppressed you."
Breaking of Ties With the Muslim and the Kafir Relatives
The traditions of the Masumeen (a.s.) leave no doubt whatsoever that the fulfilling of the rights of one's relatives is obligatory. Whether the relatives are Shia or Sunni, pious and religious or sinful and transgressors or whether they are Muslims or Kafirs. It is compulsory to perform Sileh Rahmi with them. Even if a Muslim relative apostises and becomes a kafir, his rights are not invalidated.
Ibne-e-Hamid enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "My relatives are not of my religion. Are any of their rights upon me?" Imam (a.s.) gave the following reply:
"Why not? The rights of the relatives do not become invalid for any reason (even if the relatives are unbelievers) but if the relatives are Muslim then their rights are twice as much. One is due to their being relatives and second because of their being Muslim."
Dawood Raqqi the Companion of the Sixth Imam (a.s.)
Dawood Raqqi says: "I was sitting in the company of Imam (a.s.) when Imam (a.s.) himself started speaking and said:
"Dawood, on Thursday the report of your deeds was presented to me and I saw among your deeds the Sileh Rahmi which you have performed with your cousin (brother), I was very pleased. However, I know that this Sileh Rahmi of yours will (because of his Qat-e-Rahmi towards you) be the cause of his early death."
Dawood, the companion of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: "My cousin used to bear enmity towards me. He was an evil person. When I came to know about his destitution, I went to Makkah and gave him some money so that he could manage himself for some time. It was this action of mine about which Imam (a.s.) was informed and he told of it on my return to Madinah."
The Behaviour of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) Towards His Inimical Relatives
Certain relatives of the Holy Imam (a.s.) not only failed to acknowledge his rights but even bore enmity against him in their hearts. Although the enmity against Imam (a.s.) makes him a disbeliever. Yet Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) willed that seventy Dinars be given to Hasan Aftas. Hasan Aftas was an evil person and had such deep malice against Imam (a.s.) that he had once tried to attack Imam (a.s.) with a sword. The goodly behaviour of Imam (a.s.) towards his enemy was due entirely to his relationship.
Conversation of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) With Abdullah Hasani
Once Abdullah Hasani, a relative of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) met him on the streets of Madinah. He had a meaningless argument with Imam (a.s.) and spoke ill of him. Imam (a.s.) replied to this misbehavior in the best way. He went to the house of this person the very next day and said, "Yesterday I recited the following Ayat of the Quran,
"And those who joined that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning.
(Surah Raad 13:21)
I became very fearful because of it." Abdullah understood that Imam (a.s.) was intending to correct him. He began to weep and said, "I have willfully forgotten this verse. After this, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Abdullah embraced each other.
The Grief of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) on the Oppression upon the Descendants of Imam Hasan (a.s.)
When Mansoor Dawaniqi arrested and imprisoned Abdullah Mahej and other Hasani Sadaats, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was grief-stricken. Although the Hasanis were opposed to Imam (a.s.), the Imam's (a.s.) distress was such that he was confined to bed for twenty days. He wrote a lengthy letter to them to express his sorrow and to offer comfort and consolation. He sent this letter to the prison of Kufa and was in regular contact with them to know their well-being. Often he wept on their imprisonment.
It Does Not Matter if We Are Kind to Certain Relatives Who Are Not Muslim
It is simply clear by now that for Sileh-Rahem and Qate-Rahem, the Shariat does not distinguish between a Muslim and a Kafir or between a pious and a sinful person. At the same time we also know that Islam exhorts us to shun infidels and to dissociate with them. These contradicting views will cause some confusion in our minds and a word of explanation is in order.
Undoubtedly Islam orders us to detest kafirs, hence it is improper to behave well with them. Good behaviour towards a Kafir is an outward act and at a social level. While hating him for being an Kafir is how you feel and think about him at a spiritual level. Since Sileh-Rahem is obligatory, we must behave well with our Kafir relatives, but at no stage should we be oblivious of the fact that they are non-believers and deserve to be hated for being Kafirs.
Sileh Rahmi to Kafir Relatives Should Not Encourage Them in Their Disbelief
If Sileh Rahmi towards a Kafir relative, in some way, strengthens his conviction towards his own religious views; or if Sileh-Rahem towards a sinful relative provides him with opportunity and encouragement in his unlawful ways, then this kind of Sileh Rahmi is forbidden. In fact, if Qat-e-Rahem induces a disbeliever to introspect and reconsider his disbelief, then, Qat-e-Rahmi is obligatory on us. In the same way Qat-e-Rahem is obligatory if it discourages or dissuades a relative in his sinful ways.
Dissociating With the Enemies of Islam
There is another situation where Qat-e-Rahem is Wajib (obligatory). That is when the kafir or sinful relative harbors malice towards the religion of Islam. Allah says in Surah Mujadila:
"You shall not find people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons or their brothers or their kinsfolk..."
(Surah Mujadila 58:22)
This verse clearly indicates that one must abstain from Sileh Rahem towards even the closest of relatives if they are inimical towards Allah or the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or the Islamic faith.
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib if the Relative is not Overtly Inimical
A Quranic verse from the chapter Mumtehana says:
"Allah does not forbid you from respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly, surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah only forbids you from respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up others in your expulsion, that you make friendship with them and whoever makes friends with them, these are the unjust."
(Surah Mumtehana 60:8-9)
Thus it could be concluded from the above two verses that if a relative does not openly oppress us or exhibit enmity, then Sileh Rahmi is Wajib towards him.
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib Even if One Has to Travel Far to Perform it
It is highly recommended to fulfill the duty of Sileh Rahmi even if one has to roam a long distance to do so. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told Ali (a.s.):
"O Ali! Even if you have to travel for two years to do good to your parents, do it, even if you have to travel for one year to perform Sileh Rahmi to your kinsfolk, do so. Even if you have to journey a mile to see a sick person, do it. Even if you have to walk two miles to attend a funeral, do it. Even if you have to travel four miles to meet a believing brother, do it."
Traditions have stated, as mentioned earlier, that for every step a person takes to visit his relatives, he gets forty thousand rewards, forty thousand of his sins are forgiven and his status is raised by forty thousand grades.
Maintain Cordial Relations But Do Not Reside Close to Each Other
Amirul Momineen (a.s.) writes a letter to one of his officers,
"Order the relatives to visit each other but ask them not to reside in the same neighborhood."
The late Scholar, Naraqi, explains in his book, 'Meraj us Sadaat': "Staying next to each other breeds malice and jealousy and results in Qat-e-Rahem."
It is much easier for relatives to maintain harmony and goodwill by staying apart from each other. Proximity often results in friction and enmity.
There is a Persian proverb that says that distance and friendship are proportionate to each other.
Sileh Rahmi With the Spiritual Father
We are indeed indebted to our parents for our physical, mental and spiritual development. But mankind could not have been guided right, without a spiritual father. The essence of spiritual guidance which consists of rules of conduct as approved by Allah have come to us only through the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and it was the sustained and unsparing effort of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) which guided mankind to the path of salvation and eternal happiness. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was the spiritual father of the Muslims in his time and later Ali (a.s.) took his place. It is only through love and obedience to them that one can hope to achieve spiritual eminence.
This is corroborated by the statement of Allah to the effect that whoever enters the 'fort' (protection) of these exalted personalities, his spiritualism becomes evident in his behaviour. The doors of knowledge and awareness are open. The fountain of sagacity flows in his heart and the reality becomes manifest for him.
The Advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) - A Fabulous Blessing
It is not possible for a man to achieve spiritual excellence without the love and obedience of a spiritual father.
"Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when he raised among them an apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:164)
This verse signifies the importance of the advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by Allah for the guidance of mankind. We must acknowledge it as the greatest blessing of Allah and a favour that He bestowed upon His creatures.
The Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the Worldly Comforts and Blessings
Yunus Ibne Abdul Rehman told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The love and Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) has been prescribed as your right upon us by Allah. I consider this blessing to be much superior to the worldly blessings."
Imam (a.s.) was distraught and he replied:
"You have made an inappropriate comparison. What are the worldly blessings? What is it more than eating, drinking and dressing? And you compare all these transient things with our love which is an everlasting reality?"
We have seen in the discussion on the rights of parents, that we can be 'Aaq' of our spiritual fathers if we fail to fulfill their rights. Not all of us may be capable of fulfilling this duty to the fullest extent. But we should sincerely try our utmost to obey their commands. At the same time we should be fully aware of our deficiencies and failings and continually implore our infallible guides to pardon us.
Who Are the Spiritual Fathers?
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib and Qat-e-Rahmi is Haraam towards our spiritual relatives also. Our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Imams (a.s.) are our spiritual fathers. So, the descendants of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.), that is the Sadaat, are our spiritual relatives. Also, since the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) are the spiritual fathers of all believers and Shias, we all are related to each other, and are like brothers of each other.
"Certainly the Believers Are Brothers of Each Other."
(Surah Hujarat 49:10)
The verse clearly indicates that everyone is somehow related to a common spiritual father.
Rights of Sadaat
Allama Hilli in his book 'Qawaidul Ahkam' counsels his son Fakhrul Muhaqqiqain in the following words:
"You should practise Sileh Rahmi with the pure descendants of the Sadaat also. The Almighty Allah has emphasized upon this duty so much that he has made the love of relatives of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as a compensation of the prophetic mission."
"...Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives...."
(Surah Shuara 42:23)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"I shall intercede for four types of people even if they carry the sins of all humanity."
1) A person who has helped my descendants and progeny.
2) A person who has spent his wealth upon my descendants when they were in need.
3) A person who has loved my Progeny with his tongue and his heart.
4) A person who has considered the wants of my descendants when they were surrounded by enemies and were homeless."
Does Anyone Have a Right Upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)?
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"On the day of Qiyamat a caller will announce, 'O people, keep silent, because Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is to say something to you.' Then the Messenger will arise and say, 'O people! If anyone of you has any right or favour upon me, or if there is any obligation upon my neck then he should stand up. I will see that he is compensated.' The people will reply, 'May our parents be sacrificed upon you. What right? What favour? And what obligation? Rather the rights and favours are of Allah and His Prophet upon all the creatures.'
Goodness to Sadaat and Paradise
Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) shall say:
"No, they do have a right. Whoever has provided shelter and help to anyone from my Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) or did good to them or gave them clothes in their need or fed them when they were in need, should stand up so that I can recompense him."
Some people who had performed such deeds will arise. Then the voice of the Almighty shall be heard. "O Muhammad, my loved one! With due regards to your position I have fixed the reward for their deeds. They shall be given whatever position you intend for them in Paradise." Then Allah shall give them a place near the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) and there would be nothing to obstruct their view."
Rights of the Brothers in Faith
There are numerous traditions in connection with the rights of the believers and brothers-in-faith. A few of such traditions are quoted below:
Mualla Bin-Khanees asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "What are the rights of the believing brother?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Seven rights of the believers are Wajib - If one fails to fulfill even one of these rights, he is externed from Allah's obedience. He shall not receive any reward from the Almighty."
"What are those seven rights?", enquired Mualla.
Imam (a.s.) said,
" I fear that you may fail to act upon them."
Mualla said, "La Quwwata Illa Billah." There is no power except of Allah. (He meant, It wouldn't be so).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"The foremost right is that you wish for the believing brothers whatever you wish for yourself."
Imam (a.s.) then related the other six rights,
"The second right is that you must refrain from angering him and try to seek his pleasure and obey him. The third right is that you help him with you life, your wealth, your tongue, and your hands. The fourth right is that you guide him and teach him that which is beneficial for him. The fifth, is that do not eat till satiation when your believing brother is hungry, and do not drink to satiation if he is thirsty, and do not dress nicely if he is deprived of good clothes. The sixth right is that if you have a servant you should send him to do his work. The seventh right is that if the believing brother says something on oath you should believe him, if he invites, you accept his invitation, if he is sick, visit him, if he dies, accompany his bier, if you come to know any of his needs, fulfill them it before he asks."
Sileh Rahmi with the Imam (a.s.)
Imam Reza (a.s.) has informed,
"Those who cannot come for our Ziarat must visit our virtuous followers. They shall get the reward of performing our Ziarat. And those who wish to do Sileh Rahmi towards us but are unable to do so must do Sileh Rahmi towards our pious devotees. They shall be given the reward of our Sileh Rahmi."
Respect and honour for the believing brother is the same as respect and honour for the spiritual father (Imam [a.s.]). In the same way, insult and disrespect of the believing brother is equivalent to insult and disrespect to the spiritual father, (the infallible Imam [a.s.]). It is for very reason that insulting a believer brings the wrath of Allah upon us and makes us deserving of severe punishment.
We shall conclude with the prayer that Allah may give Tawfeeq to all of us for doing Sileh Rahmi and fulfilling the rights of others.
The eighth among the Greater Sins is to usurp the property of an orphan who has not attained maturity.
This is categorized as a Greater sin by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.), Imam Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Taqi (a.s.). It is a sin, the punishment of which is fixed by Allah to be the fire of Hell.
The Quran says,
"(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)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-e-Kabir that one who cheats an orphan of his property will be raised on the Day of Judgement in such a condition that the flames of fire will be protruding from his mouth, nose and ears. By looking at him people will recognize that he is the one who in his lifetime had usurped the property of the orphans. The last phrase, "They shall enter burning fire" indicates that one who deprives an orphan of his rightful property will be liable to be burnt in Hell-fire, even if he has not committed any other sin.
The Almighty Allah says,
"And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones) and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:2)
The above verse gives clearcut instructions to those who are guardians and caretakers of the orphans, on how to fulfill their responsibility. They should spend the property in their trust in a correct manner for the benefit of the orphan and without stinginess. A caretaker should be very cautious not to spend any of the orphan's money on himself. This is a very serious offence that will cause his entire Halaal wealth to become Haraam. Under no circumstances should an orphan's valuable possessions be substituted with anything inferior. Finally, when the child reaches maturity, all his property should be returned to him with complete honesty.
In the same chapter of Surah Nisa, Allah says in verse number nine:
"And let them fear who, should they leave behind them weakly offsprings, would fear on their account, so let them be wary of (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words."
(Surah Nisa 4:9)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-al-Mizan that whoever betrays the trust of orphans and oppresses them, their children will suffer a similar fate. This is an amazing reality that is revealed by the Holy Quran. Similarly in other numerous verses, the Quran informs us that the returns of our deeds are evident in this world itself. We will witness the results of our own actions. Every action has an effect on one who performs it, and we should be fully conscious of the fact that our sinful acts are not restricted to the sinner, but they come to bear on our children as well.
It is our confirmed duty to wish for others as we wish for ourselves. A good or bad action directed towards others therefore implies that we wish the same for ourselves. So, by carrying out these actions, we, in effect have prayed for it for ourselves. This prayer will not be rejected and we will be recompensed as we deserve.
The marvellous functioning of our body is the result of the co-ordination between the various composite parts and organs. We as individuals are also composite members of a large body, which is our community. Just as the malfunction of one organ in the body, causes distress in the other organs, so also whatever hurt or misery that we may inflict on another is bound to take us also in its grip. So it is, that the injustice we do to another's child will cause our own children to suffer the repercussions of our actions. It is of course another matter that the Almighty in his Infinite Mercy allows some of our good deeds to compensate for the bad actions.
"And whatever affliction befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and (yet) He pardons most (of your faults)"
(Surah Shuara 42:30)
Undoubtedly, we must dread Allah's punishment and refrain from oppressing the orphans. We have to have kind and tender feelings for them as we have for our own children. If we trample upon the rights of an orphan or do any injustice to him or her, we can rest assured that the same fate will befall our own children after our death. The verse of Surah Nisa unequivocally states that oppressing an orphan is a Greater Sin. The horrible consequences of this sin are also mentioned clearly.
Punishment for Usurping the Orphan's Property is Meted Out in This World
It is recorded from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that Allah has ordained two penalties for appropriating the wealth or property of an orphan:
"The first punishment is in the Hereafter, and that is the fire of Hell. The second one is in this world itself. As indicated by the following verse of Quran:
"And let those fear who, should they leave behind them the weakly offspring, would fear on their account, so let them be careful of (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words." (Surah Nisa 4:9)
Whatever has been mentioned in the Holy Quran, the same has been emphasized by Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.). Other Tafsirs of Quran also give the same explanation. Imam Ali (a.s.) states: "Certainly one who usurps the orphan's property, his own children shall be similarly dealt with in this world in the near future and he will suffer for it in the Hereafter."(Behaarul Anwaar)
Ali (a.s.) has also mentioned:
"Do good to the children of others so that good may be done to yours (after you are dead)."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has informed:
"If one oppresses someone, Allah will appoint an oppressor upon him or upon his children."
This is not Against Divine Justice
We may wonder as to why the innocent children who are not at fault and in no way responsible for the misdeeds of their parents should be the target of oppression and injustice meant for their parents. Is this not against Divine Justice?
The answer to this objection is simple. Allah does not appoint any oppressor but when someone oppresses the children, Allah does not restrain him. Allah witholds His Mercy and favour.
Bad behaviour towards the children implies that the father wishes the same for his children and also that he has not wished Allah's Mercy and favour upon his children.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated:
"If the father is virtuous the Almighty Allah protects the children."
As mentioned in the Quranic verses of Surah Kahf:
"And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father was a righteous man, so your Lord desired that they should attain their maturity and take out their treasures, a mercy from your Lord..."
(Surah Kahf 18:82)
Thus it is clear that the Mercy and favour of Allah upon the orphans is due to the righteousness of their father. On the other hand if their father had oppressed others than this would have caused them to be deprived of Divine Mercy and favour.
Tradition that Denounces the Usurpation of Orphan's Property
Umar bin Zurarah says that he enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the Greater Sins. He said:
"One of the Greater Sins is illegal appropriation of the orphan's property."
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) narrates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"On the day of Qiyamat some people would arise from their graves in such a condition that flames of fire would be protruding from their mouths."
The people asked, "O! Messenger of Allah who are these people?"
The Prophet replied:
"Those who have illegally appropriated the property of the orphans."
Imam Reza (a.s.) was asked, "What is the smallest quantity of the orphan's property the appropriation of which causes one to enter the fire (of Hell)?"
"When one consumes something belonging to the orphan without the intention of returning it to him. There is no question of less or more."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) when I was taken to the skies I decried a group of people whose bellies were being stuffed with fire. And the fire was spilling from their anal openings. I asked Jibraeel, who they are? Jibraeel replied, 'They are those who used to usurp the property of the orphans unjustly'."
The Death of a Creditor and His Minor Children
A person who has minor children and had given loans to others, and dies without making any arrangement for their recovery, will be counted as one who has misappropriated the wealth of orphans. Because after the death of the father the children become the owners of his property. However, the dead father would only be accountable for that portion of the loan which is the share of the children.
Severe Pain in the Eyes of Amirul Momineen (a.s.)
Once Hazrat Ali (a.s.) had sore eyes. The pain was so severe that he was groaning loudly. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) came to visit him and said:
"Is this sighing and groaning due to the restlessness or due to severe pain?"
Ali (a.s.) replied:
"I have never had such severe pain."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) related to him a tradition which was so frightening that Ali (a.s.) forgot his pain. The tradition is as follows:
A Frightening Tradition
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"O! Ali, When the Angel of Death (Israel) comes to a disbeliever he will come wme wa mace of fire. He will extract his life painfully. Seeing this, Hell will scream loudly (so that it may take this disbeliever to itself soon)."
Hearing this Ali (a.s.) sat up abruptly and said:
"O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.), repeat to me this tradition. I have forgotten my pain after listening to it." Then he enquired, "Will anyone's soul from your Ummat be also extracted in this way and will anyone be subjected to such a severe punishment?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Yes! There are three types of people among the muslims whose souls shall be taken out this way. First group is of the unjust rulers. The second is of those who unjustly appropriate the wealth of orphans and the third is of those who give false witness."
Kindness Towards Orphans
Injustice and oppression to the orphans brings severe punishment in this world as well as Hereafter. In the same way kind and gentle behaviour towards them earns countless rewards in this world, as well as the Hereafter. Especially blessed by Allah are those who protect the orphans and take the responsibility of being guardians to them. Numerous traditions have been recorded concerning this. A few of these are quoted below.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who maintains the orphans, Allah makes Paradise Wajib upon him, in the same way as he makes Hell Wajib upon those who usurp the property of the orphans."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"I and one who maintains an orphan would be together in Paradise in the presence of Allah, in the same way as these two fingers are together."
And he pointed out to his index and the middle finger joined together.
According to a tradition, The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and one who maintains an orphan, will not be separated nor would there be any barrier between them in Paradise.
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"If anyone from you becomes the guardian of an orphan and deals kindly with them, and he fulfills these actions satisfactorily, and he strokes the head of the orphan with sympathy, then Allah necessarily writes good deeds equivalent to the hair covered by his hand and forgives sins equal to the number of hair, and raises his position in grades equal to the hair of the orphan's head."
Elsewhere the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has been reported to have said:
"When an orphan cries the Heaven shudders, then Almighty Allah says, 'O Angels, Is this the same orphan whose father has been buried in the earth?' The Angels reply, '(O Allah) you are the all-knowing.'
Then Allah would say, 'O My Angel be a witness. Whoever consoles this orphan and makes him happy, I will make him happy on the day of Qiyamat.'"
The caressing of an orphan's head removes callousness from the heart. There are many tradition which indicate this. However, only a few shall suffice for our discussion.
Guardian of Minor Children
The boy who has not reached the fifteenth year cannot spend from his wealth. In the same way the girl who is not yet nine years of age cannot spend from her property. A minor boy or a girl cannot spend from their wealth in any way. Only their guardian has the right to spend from their wealth for their upkeep. The foremost guardians, according to Shariat are the father, grandfather, mother and grandmother. The next in order is the one who is appointed a guardian after the death of the father and grandfather. He has the right of maintaining the orphans.
If the father and the grandfather die without appointing a trustee for the children, the legal guardian is the ruling Mujtahid or someone appointed by the Mujtahid. In a situation where a ruling Mujtahid is also not present, the Momineen shall maintain the orphans. (This is called Udool-al-Momineen in religious terminology). It would be explained at an appropriate place.
The Affairs of the Orphans Should be Conducted With Care
The guardian of an orphan shoulders a very serious responsibility. He should judiciously spend for all the needs of the orphan, neither being miserly nor extravagant.
The guardian should strictly maintain the account of the orphan's expenditure separately and club it with his own family expenses. Since it would be more convenient and economical to cook the orphan's food along with the food for the rest of the family. But the expenses incurred for the orphan must be accurately calculated. It would be highly commendable if the guardian took a little less as the orphan's share than the calculated amount. He would indeed gain Allah's immense pleasure.
At times, however, due to the dietary requirements of the orphan, it may be necessary to cook his food separately. This would certainly pose some problems. But the main thing the guardian has to keep in mind is the wellbeing of the orphan and an honest assessment of his expenses.
This has been permitted because it is easier and much more economical then having food cooked separately for the orphan. However, if there is a great difference between the dietary requirement of the orphan child and other family members, it would be very difficult to adhere to this arrangement. For example, if a child does not eat meat and rice, then it would be difficult to have his food cooked together with the main dish. The thing to be taken care of, is that the well-being and property of the orphan is maintained.
A verse of Surah Baqarah says:
"And they ask you concerning the orphan's; say: To set right for them (their affairs) is good, and if you become co-partners with them, they are your brethren; and Allah knows the mischief-maker and the peace-maker..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:220)
The above verse was revealed at a time the people were confused as to how they should handle the money of their orphan wards. The verse revealing the severe punishment for those who misappropriate an orphan's property had struck such fear into the hearts of guardians that they started cooking the orphan's food separately. They would not even touch the leftovers and allowed them to rot. They then approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in a dazed state of mind and the above verse was revealed.
It is evident that we must live together with the believing brother. The Omniscient Allah knows what is in our heart, and is aware of our intentions. He knows who intends to misappropriate the property of the orphans and who wants to put right their affairs.
The Wealthy Guardian of the Orphans
It is recommended that a wealthy guardian should maintain an orphan. He will enjoy boundless blessings of the Hereafter fixed by Allah for this gracious act.
As the Holy Quran states:
"...And whoever (of the orphan's guardian) is rich, let him abstain altogether (from spending of the orphan's wealth)..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The Impoverished Guardian of the the Orphans
If the caretaker of the orphan is poor, he can charge for his services. Concerning the remuneration of these services there are three legal opinions. Some scholars are of the opinion that he can charge an amount generally believed to be appropriate. The second opinion is that he must take only as much as is necessary for his own upkeep, and no more. The third view point is that he must find out the generally accepted remuneration and the expenses of his own upkeep; and charge the amount which is less. This is a precautionary measure and the most recommended one.
The Property of the Orphan Must Be Guarded Till He Attains Maturity
It is not permissible to hand over an orphan's money to him before he reaches maturity. The guardian will be held liable, if he is careless in this matter and the orphan suffers a loss as a result. On the other hand an orphan's property should be restored to him immediately, once he reaches maturity.
Signs of Puberty
Maturity is recognized by any one of these three signs:
1) The completion of fifteen lunar years for the boy and nine lunar years for the girl.
2) Growth of pubic hair.
3) Discharge of semen in boys.
What is the Meaning of Rasheed?
The Quranic verse says,
"And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect (Rasheed), make over to them their property..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The maturity of intellect (Rasheed) in this connection means maturity in the financial affairs. This maturity is reflected in the child's capacity to handle his day to day needs without there being any risk of loss and wasteful expenditure. At this stage it is Wajib to hand over to the orphan his wealth and property.
In other words it is Wajib to restore the wealth and property of an orphan when he attains puberty and maturity of intellect.
The ninth Greater sin is usury. That it is classified as a Greater Sin is clear in traditions recorded from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.).
According to the glorious Quran, taking interest is a sin that incurs severe Divine punishment. The punishment for usury as mentioned in the Quran is far more severe than the punishment for other sins. It is announced in Surah Aale Imran:
"O you who believe! Do not devour usury, making it double and redouble and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful. And guard yourself against the fire that has been prepared for the unbelievers.
(Surah Aale Imran 3:130-131)
It means that the fury of the fire that is prepared for those who take interest will be just as intense as the fire prepared for the unbelievers.
The verse of Surah Baqarah says,
"Those who swallow down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. That is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury. To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, then he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah; and whoever returns (to it) - These are the inmates of the fire; they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
The above verse confirms that the usurer will remain in Hell eternally and there is no salvation for him. Allama Muhammad Husain Tabatabai, in his Tafsir, 'al-Mizan' says that the punishment ordered by Allah for usury is so severe, that such severity is not mentioned even for disobedience to any of the Furu-e-Deen. Another equally serious offence is to nurture friendship with the enemies of Islam. The direct ill-effects of usury are clear and evident. Hoarding of wealth increases the disparity between the rich and the poor. Poverty is a malady that can degrade and humiliate its victims, erode his values and destroy his morals. This in turn leads to corruption, theft and murder. Those directly responsible for destroying the social equilibrium, are the hoarders, who amassed wealth and thus it was unavailable to those who needed it. The total disintegration of the social fabric can precipitate a civil war and further a world war which brings with it only death and destruction. In the world of today with the advances of the nuclear and chemical weapons, war does not only bring death to the humans, but leaves them a caricature, sick and maimed and deformed for generations to come.
The direct ill effects on the Muslim society as a result of friendship with those opposed to Islam, are also clear and evident.
History has recorded that friendship with the enemies of Islam can only be bought at a price. The price in this case is to compromise. Compromise on the tenets, the culture and the spirit of Islam, till a time comes when the country loses its identity as an Islamic society.
Usury is Against Intellect and Shariat
The verse of Surah Baqarah which is quoted above, says that those who take usury (interest on loan) shall be counted among mad people (whom Shaitan has touched). On the Day of Judgement people will recognize them from their madness that they had been taking usury. Their sanity would be destroyed, because in this world they have acted against intellect and Shariat. They have been oblivious of humanity and the needs of humanity. They did not deal equitably with others and disobeyed the law of co-operation. Actually these people had been insane in the world, because they have followed the direction of Shaitan and performed such insane acts.
Is Trading and Usury One and the Same?
This argument is obviously foolish. There is nothing comparable between interest and trade. There is equity in business transactions because there is a mutual agreement between the two parties and both stand to gain or lose. In trading, a seller sells an article to the buyer at a price mutually acceptable to both, and the matter ends there. But taking interest is a clearcut case of exploitation. A person with surplus money, which he does not need, lends it to someone who is in dire need. The needy person agrees to pay interest which he can ill afford; not because it is acceptable to him but because of his compelling situation.
Interest and Inequality of Classes in Society
Undoubtedly, usury is an unjust and oppressive evil. It is against human nature and human dignity. It increases the riches of the wealthy and drives the impoverished to further depravation.
Understandably, the exploited poor begin to hate the rich. The pent-up hatred then finds an outlet in the form of violence and bloody revolutions.
In the book "Islam and World Peace" it is written, "Islam says that earning should be only in return of efforts and work. because capital itself cannot do any work and make any effort. Hence the wealth of the rich man should not be increased by taking usury."
Increasing wealth by usury is the easiest form of making money but Islam forbids it. Wealth cannot be accumulated by forcing the helpless poor into further destitution; and usury does just that, causing economic imbalance and trampling upon human rights, equity and justice. Maulana Sayed Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan has written a comprehensive and interesting book on usury that describes its evil effects and the arguments are supported by statistics.
The needy person ends up returning not only the amount loaned to him but far in excess of it. The excess can even amount to more than the principal amount if the repayment is delayed. Taking interest imposes an excruciating financial burden on one who is already needy and it is nothing short of blackmail. Needy people should be given loans without interest. This promotes a feeling of friendship, co-operation and charity.
Interest for Goodly Loans
To give a loan on interest not only destroys the economic balance in the society, it also inflames the feelings of hatred, enmity and selfishness.
The One Who Indulges in Usury is Deprived of Goodness
There are too many disadvantages of taking interest. The earnings of one who takes interest, loses 'Barakat' (abundance and prosperity). Whereas the earnings of hard toil have much 'Barakat'.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says in one of his traditions:
"Worship consists of seventy parts. The most important is lawful earnings."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also says:
"The truthful trader shall be counted among the prophets on the Day of Judgement. His face would glow like a full moon."
The Usurer Does Not Place Trust in Allah
Another misfortune of the usurer is that he loses trust in Allah. He does not pray to Allah to give him 'Barakat'. All his hopes are pinned upon the interest that he collects from his debtors and this is polytheism as discussed in the section on 'Shirk'.
Another point to be noted is that in normal business there is a possibility of both gain and loss. So the businessman not only puts in sincere efforts but prays to Allah for success and profit in his endeavour. An usurer has no fear of loss and feels no intuitive need to pray to Allah for his 'Rizq'. He is thus deprived of an important facet of religion.
The Reward of Giving a Loan is More than that of Sadaqah
One who takes interest is deprived of the rewards that are prescribed for giving a goodly loan. If there are ten merits in giving Sadaqah, the interest-free loan has eighteen merits. An interest-free loan is therefore more rewarding than Sadaqah in the way of Allah. A person who gives respite to his debtors and does not take interest is given a reward that is equivalent to charity of the said amount every day for the number of days that he extends. It is evident that the usurer does not qualify for such rewards. In fact he is afflicted with miserliness and greed, which only increase day by day. Surely the result of miserliness and greed is Hell.
The Fate of the Usurer
We have already seen from the verses of the Holy Quran, the sayings of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and of our Imams (a.s.) that the punishment for usury in more severe than that of other sins. We have also discussed the reasons for this. Islam classifies usury as the greatest of the Greater Sins and its punishment is the severest of all punishments. If the usurer does not repent for his acts, his end will be with the disbelievers and those whose eternal abode is Hell. The usurer shall never be released from Hell.
"To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, than he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah, and whoever returns (to it) these are the inmates of the fire, they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
However there are certain ways to compensate for this sin and pray for forgiveness. Certain sinful acts are forgiven by just repenting sincerely. If a Polytheist repents for his sins and becomes a Muslim, a great sin like 'Shirk' is forgiven. He does not have to do anything more than that. But there are some sins that require compensation in addition to sincere repentance i.e. like the one who has Qaza prayers and fasts. Along with repentance he must perform all the prayers and observe all the fasts due on him. Similarly in the case of interest, the penitent should give back the amount that he has taken as interest from his debtors.
No Barakat in Interest
The above Quranic Ayat continues:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
Charity spreads peace, promotes beneficence and love in society, whereas usury destroys peace and hardens the hearts of the people.
When usury spreads its roots in society, people have no hesitation in usurping each other's rights. They are only driven by a feeling of enmity, hatred and a passion of revenge. A society devoid of harmony and co-operation cannot progress, it destroys itself with its own corruption. Charity and Sadaqah on the other hand promote feelings of friendship, love and brotherhood. An atmosphere of peace and prosperity prevails which inspires people to further good deeds.
War With Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
The Noble Quran says,
"O You who believe! Be cautious of (your duty) to Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers. But if you do (it) not, then be appraised of war from Allah and His Apostle..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:278-279)
The proof of one's belief is in obedience of Divine orders. The same verse continues,
"...And if you repent, then you shall have your capital, neither shall you make (the debtors) suffer loss, nor shall you be made to suffer loss."
(Surah Baqarah 2:279)
One who does not obey this command must be prepared for war with Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
Tafsir Minhajus Sadeqeen gives an explanation of this verse. It could mean that the severity of the sin of usury is such that if in this world a usurer were to come face to face with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Prophet's (s.a.w.s.) sword would be against him and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would be prepared to fight him. In the Hereafter the fire of Hell shall keep him in torment by the order of Allah. The usurer must be fought till he submits to the Divine orders and refrains from taking usury. Traditional reports state that after the revelation of this verse, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) informed the Commissioner of Makkah that if the tribe of Bani Mughaira does not desist from taking usury, they must be fought against.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also said inter alia in a sermon at Makkah: "Know that the usury which has been accumulated in the period of ignorance is now condoned completely. First of all I condone the interest (that is upon your neck) of (my uncle) Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib."
Traditions Denouncing Interest
It is reported from Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Taking a Dirham as interest is worse in the eyes of Allah than doing illegal intercourse with Mehram women."
Imam Ali (a.s.) says:
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has cursed one who accepts interest, one who pays interest, one who buys interest, one who sells interest, one who writes the contract of interest and one who is the witness of this transaction."
Ibne Baqeer relates that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was informed about the person who took interest and considered it as permissible as mother's milk. Imam (a.s.) said:
"If Allah gives me power over this man, I would strike off his head."
It is clear that to consider interest Haraam is an article of faith. One who disregards this and says that interest is not Haraam becomes an apostate. The Imam (a.s.) can also have him killed.
Interest is Denounced in the Holy Quran
Samaa says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as to why Allah has mentioned the illegality of usury at various places. Imam (a.s.) replied:
"So that people may not forgo acts of charity (like giving interest-free loans)."
Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
"The worst transaction is that which involves interest."
The Sinner is Deprived of Religious Faith
Zurarah says that I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) concerning the Quranic verse:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
"But I see that wealth of usurers goes on increasing?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"What could be a greater loss? That in return of a Dirham of interest he loses his faith. And if he repents of his deeds in the world all his wrongfully earned wealth comes to an end and he becomes a destitute."
The Belly of the Usurer Shall Be Filled With Fire
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"One who takes interest, his belly shall be filled with an equal quantity of fire by Allah. If he has earned more from the interest money, Allah will not accept any of his deeds. And till even a grain of interest remains with him, Allah and his angels will continue to curse this man."
Punishment of Usurers in the Barzakh
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) I saw some people trying to stand up but did not succeed because of their huge bellies, I asked, O Jibraeel, who are these people?"
Jibraeel replied, "They are those who have taken usury. Now they can only stand up like those who have been possessed by the Devils."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) continues,
"Then I saw them herded upon the path of the followers of Firon. Seeing the extreme heat of the fire they exclaimed. O God! Then when will be Qiyamat?" (It is clear that the fire mentioned in the tradition is of the punishment of Barzakh).
Usurers Under the Feet of Firon
In another tradition it is said that when these people saw the followers of Firon they tried to get up and run away. But due to overlarge bellies they could not rise up and consequently the followers of Firon trampled them under their feet and moved on.
It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"When adultery and interest becomes common in a town the angels are given permission to destroy its inhabitants."
Another Prophetic tradition in the same vein says:
"When the people of my Ummat start taking interest, tremors and earthquakes will be frequent."
Usury is Worse Than Adultery
The Noble Messenger of Allah says:
"If a man commits adultery with his mother in the Holy Kaaba this act shall be seventy times lighter than the act of usury."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"In the eyes of Allah, taking one Dirham of interest is worse than thirty incestuous acts."
A previous tradition describes this sin to be seventy times more than adultery. There is one more report where taking a Dirham is equated with twenty such acts.
Even in today's world, the scourge of interest has spread to such a magnitude that economies are on the verge of collapse. Some economists say that interest is necessary for development. If this had been true then Islam would not have prohibited it. At the present time there are two schools of economics whose ideology is not based on interest. One is Communism and the other Islam. Whereas the foundation of imperialist economy is based upon interest. Even the Communist and the Islamic schools of economies differ greatly.
Unlike the Communists, Islamic government has never felt the compulsion to accept interest as inevitable, in order to fit the logistics of economy. And yet, Islamic economy is not known to have weakened because it does away with interest.
Yes, it is a necessity for the few selfish and greedy people who wish to add to their already enormous wealth, by increasing the miseries of the poor and the destitute. Their aim is to enslave the deprived people. We are well aware of the logic of these hoarders.
Loan On Interest
A loan on interest is one whereby a person lends something with the precondition that it would be returned with fixed increment at a fixed time. The loan given may be money or any other article, say, one loans five Mounds of rice and expects to get back six Mounds. The increment demanded may be in the form of cash or kind, labour or even a favour.
For example, one may lend money with the condition that the borrower will return the money and also carry out some household chores for him. Or a lender may lend a sum of money for a year and in return stay in the house of the borrower for a year without paying any rent. Or a person may give gold as a loan and expect the borrower to make some jewellery free of cost. Whatever is taken in excess of what was given, irrespective of its form, is interest and is Haraam. Also it does not matter whether such conditions for giving loan were stated in the beginning or decided later. It is Haraam in any case.
Some Important Points
1) A transaction involving interest is Haraam. Charging interest is Haraam and paying interest is Haraam too. So if the borrower takes money on interest and uses it and earns some profit, the actual owner of the profit is the lender. For example, if he borrows some wheat and plants a crop, the crop that grows from this, rightfully belongs to the lender. However, if the lender has agreed that his loan can be utilised in such a manner, then the profit from it is the right of the borrower.
2) If one gives an amount to a trader with the understanding that he can return a lesser amount, it is permitted. For example, he gives a thousand Tumans to a trader in Shiraz and agrees to take nine hundred and ninety Tumans in Tehran, he is allowed to do so. This type of transaction is knows as 'Sarf-e-Baraat', since there is no involvement of interest.
3) If at the time of disbursement of the loan there had been no mention of interest and the loanee wishes to return the loan amount with an increase out of his own wish, it is not Haraam. In fact it is Mustahab. It is also Mustahab to repay the loan, if possible, before its due-date or before the lender demands it. It is also Mustahab for the debtor that when repaying the loan he should add something to it with the intention of giving it as a gift to the creditor. But the intention must be of 'gift'. It must not even remotely be thought of as interest. Similarly, it is Mustahab for the creditor to accept whatever extra is given to him as a gift, not think of it as an interest, and accept it as a goodwill.
Transaction Involving Interest
If any of the following conditions are present in a transaction, it becomes a transaction of interest, and is Haraam:
1) Whatever is taken and whatever is given back are of the same material but the quantities are unequal. Or if the quantities are equal, there is disparity in quality etc.
2) When only one standard of measure and weight is employed, the amount taken and given back is of unequal measure or weight. However, at the time of borrowing if the measure of weight is kilogram but while returning it, it is Seer or Pound it is allowed. In the same way whatever was taken by the unit of measurement as metre and returned by the units of measurement as foot or yard, is valid too.
In the same way it is Haraam for a person to lend one Mound of wheat for a month and in return borrow one mound of wheat for two months from the same person. Even though the quantity is the same, the transaction is Haraam because time is also a significant factor.
Three Important Points
1) In the matter of interest, wheat and barley are considered equivalent. Then if one gives a Mound of wheat and takes one and-a-half Mound of barley, it is interest, and thus Haraam.
Similarly, whatever constitutes the same basic material is regarded as equivalent. As an analogy one may think of the roots, branches and leaves of a tree as equivalent. For example, milk and curd are equivalent, grape-vinegar and grapes are equivalent, sugar and sugarcane are equivalent too. All these have to be loaned and given back in equal quantity or it will constitute interest and will be Haraam.
2) If a person gives one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and takes back one and-a-half Mound of wheat, it does not constitute interest and is not Haraam. In this transaction one Mound of wheat shall be considered in lieu one Mound of wheat that is returned. And the remaining half a mound of wheat shall be in the lieu of the handkerchief. It is also possible that a person may give one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and take back one Mound of wheat and some other article, for example, soap. In this way too he has not committed usury.
3) If a person first sells one Mound of his wheat for two Tumans and later purchases one and a half Mound of wheat for two Tumans, it is permitted. Since both these transactions are separate. It does not constitute usury.
It may be possible that Zaid sells a Mound of wheat to Khalid, and Khalid gives half a Mound of his wheat to Zaid as a gift. This is also permitted.
When taking interest is permitted
There are three types of people between whom the taking and giving of interest is allowed:
(1) Father and son: The father and son can enter into a transaction of interest. But a transaction of interest between mother and son is Haraam.
(2) Husband and wife: The husband and wife can charge interest from each other. For example one of them gives a hundred rupees and demand one hundred and fifty rupees in return. It is permitted.
(3) The Kafir who is not staying in an Islamic country: A Muslim can take back more but he cannot give him more. As far as the Zimmi Kafir (one who is staying in an Islamic country) is concerned it is Haraam to enter into a transaction of interest with him. Taking and giving of interest both are Haraam in this case.