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Tuesday 24th of May 2022
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THE IMAM, THE STRAIGHT PATH OF GOD

As he was asked about the meaning of ‘the straight path’ in the Quranic Verses, Imam Sadiq (a.s) answered:

 

هوَ واللهِ عَلِيٌّ. هوَ واللهِ الصّراطُ والمِيزانُ.

 

“By Allah, it is Ali. He is the Straight Path and the Balance.”[56]

 

Sheikh Saduq says: As Imam Sadiq (a.s) was asked about the ‘Straight Path’, he answered:

 

هوَ الطّريقُ إلى معرِفةِ اللهِ عزَّ وجلَّ وهُما صِراطانِ: صِراطٌ في الدّنيا وصِراطٌ في الآخِرةِ. وأمّا الصِّراطُ في الدّنيا فهُو الإمامُ المُفتَرَضُ طاعتُهُ؛ مَن عرِفَهُ في الدّنيا واقتَدى بِهُداهُ مَرَّ على الصِّراطِ الّذي هو جِسرُ جَهَنَّمَ في الآخِرةِ ومَن لم يَعرِفْهُ في الدّنيا زلّتْ قَدَمُهُ عَن الصِّراطِ في الآخِرةِ.

 

“It is the path to the knowledge of Allah, Glorified and Majestic is He. They are two paths; one is in the world and the other in the Hereafter. The path in this world is the Imam the obedience to whom is obligatory. Whoever knows him and follows his guidance will pass the Bridge of the Requital in the Hereafter. But whoever does not know him in this worldly life will stumble and fall into Hell.”[57]

 

Imam Sadiq (a.s) also says:

 

الصِّراطُ المُستَقيمُ أميرُ المؤمِنينَ عليه السلامُ.

 

“The Straight Path is Amir ul-Mu’mineen (The Commander of the Faithful; namely Imam Ali).”[58]

 

Imam Ali (a.s) says:

 

أَنا صَلاةُ المُؤمِنينَ وصِيامُهُم.

 

“I am the prayer and the fasting of the believing men.”[59]

 

Some people however have misinterpreted the above-mentioned Hadith, claiming that when one recognizes his Imam, he is not obliged to perform the religious duties, for the recognition of the Imam is considered as prayer, fasting, Hajj, almsgiving, and jihad. They invoke the Hadith, ‘When you reach the stage of cognition, do as you wish.’

 

Rejecting this idea, Imam Sadiq (a.s) says:

 

إنَهُ مَن كَانَ يَدينُ بِهذِه الصّفةِ التي كُتِبَت فهُو عِندي مُشرِكٌ بِاللهِ بَيِّنُ الشِّركِ لا شكَّ فيهِ. لم يبعثِ اللهُ نبِياً يدعو إلى مَعرفَةٍ ليسَ معَها طاعَةٌ في أمرٍ ونهيٍ فإِنما يَقبلُ اللهُ منَ العبادِ العملَ بالفَرائضِ الّتي افترضَها اللهُ على حُدودِها مع معرِفةِ مَن جاءَهُم بهِ مِن عندِهِ ودعاهُم إليهِ فأوّلُ ذلِك معرفةُ مَن دَعا إليهِ ثمّ طاعتُهُ فيما يقرّبُهُ إليهِ مِن الطاعةِ لهُ وأنّه مَن عرِفَ أطاعَ ومَن أطاعَ حرّم الحرامَ ظاهرَهُ وباطنَهُ.

 

“He who believes in such matter is, in my sight, evidently polytheist. Allah has not ordained any prophet to invite people to cognition without obeying the commandments and prohibitions being accompanied by cognition. Allah has asked His servants to act to all religious duties but after getting to know the one who has brought those commandments and calls people to Allah. Therefore, cognition is of primary and obedience is of secondary importance. Whoever reaches cognition will become obedient and whoever becomes obedient will consider disobedience as sin.”

 

Mohammad ibn Marid reported:

 

قُلتُ لأبي عبدِاللهِ عليهِ السلامُ: حَديثٌ رُوِيَ لنا أنّك قُلتَ "إذا عَرفْتَ فَاعمَلْ ما شِئتَ؟"

 

فقالَ (عليه السلام): قدْ قُلتُ ذلكَ.

 

قلتُ: وإِنْ زَنوا أو سَرقوا أو شرِبوا الخَمرَ؟

 

فقالَ  (عليه السلام) لي: إِنا للهِ وإِنا إليهِ راجِعونَ! واللهِ ما أنصَفونا أَنْ نكُونَ أخَذنَا بالعَملِ ووُضِعَ عنهُم. إنمَا قلتُ إذا عرِفتَ فاعملْ ما شِئتَ من قَليلِ الخَيرِ وكثيرِه فإنّه يُقبلُ مِنكَ.

 

I asked Imam Sadiq (a.s) whether he has actually said the hadith, ‘When you reach the stage of cognition, do as you wish,’ that is related by some people. The Imam said: “I have said it.”

 

I asked: “Even such doings are adultery, theft, or drinking of wine?”

 

He (a.s) answered: “Surely, we belong to Allah and to Him we will return.[60] By Allah, it is not fair that we are obliged to perform religious duties and they are free! I have said that when you reach the stage of cognition (of Allah), do good deed a little or as much as you can, for it will be accepted by Allah.”[61]

 

SUMMARY

 

To sum it up, the external feature of the Hajj rites represents spiritual journey of a perfect man who has gone through different stages of servitude, detached from worldly ties and ornaments, and rescued from darkness and entered into the illuminated kingdom of God. Therefore, a true Hajj is an evolution in soul. It is not a plaything or entertainment as some ignorant people think, for their performance is more like a game than worship.

 

Malik ibn Anas says:

 

One year, I accompanied Imam Sadiq (a.s) in the Hajj pilgrimage. Being on the back of his horse and in the state of Ihram, the Imam (a.s) was trying to utter ‘Labbayk’ but his voice stuck in his throat. He therefore rode off his horse. I said: “O son of the Messenger of Allah! Say ‘Labbayk’, you have to say it.” He (a.s) replied:

 

يا بنَ أبي عامِر، كيفَ أجسِرُ أنْ أقولَ: لَبّيْكَ اللّهمَّ لَبّيكَ، وأخْشى أنْ يَقولَ عزّ وجلّ لا لَبّيكَ ولا سَعْدَيكَ.

 

“O son of Abi-Amir, how dare I say it? I fear that Allah will not answer me nor let me in.”[62]

 

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