The Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) did not specify some of the sins because they come under a broad classification of a sin they have stated to be a Greater one. Hence they are not mentioned separately. Abeed bin Zorara relates from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
"The Greater Sins as mentioned in the book of Ali (a.s.) are seven:
1) To disbelieve in the existence of Allah.
2) To kill a believer wrongfully.
3) To disobey parents
4) Accepting usury when it is clear (obvious).
5) To wrongfully acquire any property belonging to orphans.
6) To flee from the battlefield in Jihad.
7) Reverting to disbelief after accepting Islam.
The narrator asked, "Are all these the Greater types of sins? "Yes", The Imam (a.s.) replied. Then asked the narrator, "Which is the Greater sin, acquiring of a single Dirham (silver coin) from an orphan forcefully or neglecting prayers?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Neglecting prayers is comparatively a Greater sin."
"Why did you not include the neglecting of prayers among the Greater Sins?" In reply Imam (a.s.) asked,
"What was the first Greater sin that I mentioned?" Disbelief in Allah."
"The leaving of the prayers unattended is the same as disbelief."
Hence he had not mentioned the neglecting of prayers as a separate Greater sin.
It is clear from the foregoing discussion that there is no tradition from the Masoomeen (a.s.) which limits the number of Greater Sins. Hence we can say that none of the traditions are fully comprehensive in listing the total number of Greater Sins.
However if we study the Sahifa of Abdul Azeem Hasani carefully we can conclude that in the tradition related by Umroo bin Abeed, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has told about twenty one Greater Sins from the Holy Qur'an. Umroo ibn Abeed left the Imam's assembly suddenly. Had he listened more patiently the Imam might have proceeded on the subject and enlightened him further.
I would like to inform the readers that I have explained in detail only those sins, which are the confirmed Greater ones. However it does not mean that all those sins which are not mentioned in this book are not Greater. Rather those sins, which are not established as the Greater ones are mentioned briefly. It is not even confirmed that these are among the lesser sins. Hence pious people should exercise precaution and abstain even from these sins. There is always a possibility that the sin which we think to be small maybe a Greater one. We would be deceived only because its seriousness is not proved to us. We will now proceed towards the detailed explanation of the various sins that are confirmed as Greater Sins.
Shirk (Polytheism - To associate anyone or anything with Allah)
The first of the Greater Sins is to associate anyone or anything with Allah. That is to attribute partners to Allah. Regarding Shirk we have received clear traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as well as Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.) and Imam Jawad (a.s.).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The greatest of the Greater Sins is to attribute partners to Allah."
The following verse of the Holy Quran asserts:
"Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)
It means that whoever dies as a polytheist, there is no chance of his salvation. Although Allah may forgive any of those who have committed any other sin. Allah says:
"Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust."
(Surah Maidah 5:72)
Also the Holy Quran states:
"Do not associate aught with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity."
(Surah Luqman 31:13).
"And whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)
Every Muslim knows fully well that Shirk is a Greater Sin. So it does not seem necessary to quote the Quranic ayats and the traditions of Masoomeen (a.s.) in this regard. However, since it is important to understand the true meaning of Shirk we shall quote the relevant statements in order that people may keep aloof from this infamy. The Holy Quran says,
"And worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him."
(Surah Nisa 4:36)
Mushrik (Polythiest) is the opposite of Muwahhid (Monotheist). Tawheed is the primary pillar of faith. It has various aspects. In the same way Shirk also consists of different types:
1) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Essence of Allah
2) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Attributes of Allah
3) Tawheed and Shirk in actions
4) Tawheed and Shirk in Obedience
5) Tawheed and Shirk in worship
May Allah provide us the Tawfeeq to discuss these different aspects in detail.
Tawheed in the Essence of Allah
Tawheed with regard to the Essence of Allah denotes confessing that the Essence of the Lord of the worlds is one, and that He is Eternal. He is the Orignator of every action and phenomenon, whether perceptible through senses or not. There is no other cause except Him. Belief in multiple causes is Shirk. The Zoroastrians believe in the existence of two powerful forces in the Universe, both being equal and eternal. One is good, the other, evil. The god of good is Yazdan and the god of evil is Ahriman. The following ayat of the Holy Quran is a clear refutation of this false hypothesis.
"Say (O Muhammad): All is from Allah."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)
The claim of the Dualists can be refuted with a simple statement that there is no one except Allah, who has been in existence since eternity. Whatever was in past, present or future is nothing but good. Or, at least we can say that good exceeds evil and that evil does not hold sway over good.
However if we go on to explain all this in detail it would lead us away from the topic of our discussion.
Christians Are Polytheists Too
The Christians believe in the trinity of the Godhead. The Father (God), The Son (Jesus) and the Holy Ghost (Jibraeel). They believe that each of them have a special quality and that together they constitute the Godhead. The Quran flays their assertion thus:
"Certainly they disbelieve who say, 'Surely Allah is the third (person) of three'; and there is no god but One God."
(Surah Maidah 5:73)
The Holy Quran clearly states that Allah is not one-third of a god. He is the One and only One God.
The belief in Trinity is not exclusive to the Christians. Hindus and Buddhists also ascribe to it.
Idol Worship is Polytheism
Some people allege that there are separate gods for every phenomenon. That is, god of wind, god of sea, etc. This is another form of Polytheism. These people consider different creations to be the handiwork of different gods. These idolaters and polytheists worship multiple deities. Their polytheistic belief has also been denounced in the Holy Quran:
"Are sundry lords better or Allah, the One, the Supreme?"
(Surah Yusuf 12:39)
Tawheed in the Attributes of Allah
Tawheed with regards to the attributes of Allah means the realisation that the positive attributes of Allah and His Essence have only one and the same sense, and not any multiple and diverse sense. Divine attributes like Divine Eternity, Divine Knowledge and Divine Power, are the same as his Essence without any duality between His Essence and His attributes.
This concept must be clearly distinguished from the fact that Allah, the Almighty and the Exalted has applied some of His names to His creatures, and although the names are common to both the Creator and the created, the connotation is quite different; For example Zaid1 has knowledge, so the name "one who knows" is common to both the creator and the created. But in Zaid's case, it is implicit that this quality in a limited measure was acquired by him (by Allah's Grace) at a certain stage prior to which he did not have it; and it is also possible that he may also lose this quality at a later stage, but for Allah this attribute signifies that He is the knower of all things, past, present and future. He knows what is in the Heavens and the Earth and not an atom weight, or less than that or greater escapes Him. His knowledge is all encompassing. If we consider the Attributes of Allah as being qualities independent of Allah as we know them to be with His creatures, then we have committed Shirk. Accordingly the belief of the Ashairas is absolutely false.
All the good qualities of the creatures are from the Creator (Allah)
To consider all the good qualities of the created to be from Allah, the creator, is true Tawheed. It is our belief that all the qualities possessed by the Prophets and the Imams (a.s.) were given to them by Allah's Grace. They did not come to acquire any of these qualities on their own. Rather Allah bestowed upon them superior knowledge, character, power and perfect morals and exalted their position.
Consequently all that exists has not come into existence on its own. But everything is dependent upon the Creator of the Universe. All the good qualities have also been given to them by Allah. If Allah so desires, He increases their good qualities and gives them sustenance.
Praising Ourselves Unknowingly
A discerning person realises that our qualities are not our own and that we are not capable of acquiring such qualities without Divine assistance. Yet at times we mistakenly introduce our qualifications as, "my knowledge, my strength, my intention, my wealth etc. Rather one should say, my knowledge, which is bestowed upon me by Allah, my strength which is imparted to me by Allah, my intention that is assisted by Allah, my wealth which is from Allah." This constant realisation that all which we have is because of Allah's Grace; is true Tawheed.
One can be a true believer in the Oneness of Allah if his words and actions both are in consonance with each other. Such a person is more humble and lowly when he addresses his Creator and is in constant dread of the sin of thanklessness. Another distinguishing characteristic of such a person is that he is never pleased when others praise him.
The Pious Ones Dread Praise
The Chief of the Believers, Ali (a.s.) while describing the qualities of the pious says, in one of his sermons:
"When any one of them is spoken of highly, he says: 'I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know myself. O Allah do not deal with me according to what they say, and make me better than what they think of me and forgive me (those shortcomings) which they do not know.'
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 192)
There is no Partner in the Divine Attributes
A true believer in tawheed does not attribute any partners to Allah, nor does he commend anyone in the manner that Allah is praised. Everyday he repeats, "SubhanAllah" [Glory be (only) to Allah]. This implies that he does not deem it fit to praise anyone or anything except Allah. When he says "Alhamdo Lillah" (Praise is only for Allah), he implies that all praise is exclusive to Allah only. No one is more deserving of praise and glorification but the one and only Allah.
When a person becomes a true Muwahhid (a believer in the Oneness of Allah) he does not consider anyone the true possessor of perfect qualities. All of these are dependent upon Allah who is only one, absolutely independent. The Holy Quran says:
"O men! you are they who stand in need of Allah. And Allah is He who is self-sufficient, the praised one."
(Surah Fatir 35:15)
That is the reason why pious people refrain from praising themselves and also fear the praise of others for them. Ali (a.s.) has mentioned this in the sermon quoted above. We must also refrain from words, which imply the independence of man from Allah and instead attribute uniqueness to him. For example one should not say, "I possess such and such quality."
A Saying of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
Once a man approached the door of the exalted Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and knocked. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) enquired who he was. The person replied, "I" The Prophet came out and said, "Who was the one to say 'I'? Let it be known that except Allah no one is qualified to use this word. Allah says about Himself, I am the Powerful, I am the Punisher.'
Qaroon Became a Polythiest
Qaroon became a polytheist because he dared to say that all he had come to possess was due to his knowledge of alchemy. Thus, when Qaroon made himself an accomplice of the One and only God in possessing the Divine attributes, Allah replied,
"Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him the generations who were mightier in strength than he, and Greater in assemblage?"
(Surah Qasas 28:78)
Later, we see that Qaroon was not able to save himself from destruction even though he claimed to possess strength andvigor. Thus we must understand that any qualities of the creatures are not of their own but given to them by the Most Powerful Almighty Allah.
Tawheed and Shirk in Acts of Allah
Tawheed in deeds construe that we have conviction that the Lord and Master of every form of life whether material or spiritual is Allah. He alone controls and regulates life. We must also have the conviction that Allah does not have anyone to share in His Lordship and control. His authority extends over the entire earth and the skies. No one is an accomplice of Him in this regard.
As the Quran says:
"Allah is He who created seven Heavens, and of the earth the like of them; the decree continues to descend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge."
(Surah Talaq 65:12)
We must acknowledge that Allah is the creator of the Heavens. We must have a firm belief that He has created the countless stars. Their number has not been ascertained till today. Modern science has computed that there are approximately ten million stars, each of them capable of having a habitation similar to the earth. Each one of them possess a different light and they revolve in their own orbits without clashing with the other Heavenly bodies.
"And the stars are made subservient by His commands."
(Surah Nahl 16:12)
One of such stars is the Sun, the volume of which is 1.3 million times more than our Earth. It has been bestowed with such a powerful light that within seconds it traverses the distance between the Sun and the Earth. The Earth is illuminated by solar light and the life on Earth is sustained by the nourishment received from this light. "Glory be only to Allah the Mighty Creator."
Myriad Colours From Colourless Water
It is the Unique Allah who has caused the growth of plants and trees from the bosom of the earth. These plants bear flowers with color and fragrance. The green leaves of the trees and the colourful vegetation is but by the uncomparable power of Creator. The Creator has also given to the human beings the ability to see and appreciate the colourful herbage and the floral outgrowths.
Hence man must contemplate upon the Creator who has caused all this to come into existence. He must also acknowledge the One who has created him.
Who Splits the Ovum and the Seed?
The Master of the Universe is one who causes the seed to split. A part of it grows towards the depths of the earth and becomes the root. The root absorbs nourishment from the earth and supplies it to the main body. The plumule develops into stem and bears leaves. These leaves help in processing of the food which is supplied by the roots. Gradually the plant puts forth colourful and fragrant flowers and tasty fruits. All this is made to come in existence by the combination of the earth, air and water, all three of which combine to provide different varieties of tastes, smells and colours. The human beings are made capable of discerning the myriad tastes and colours so that they can appreciate the bounties of Allah and know their Creator.
In Three Darknesses
Allah is that uncomparable Being who has caused the creation of every animal from the unclean sperm. The human being is conceived in the triple covering of the womb. Later, he is bestowed with the discriminating intellect which enables him to ponder upon the qualities and the signs of Allah and also so that he may compare his ownself with other creatures by the help of his inward eye.
Nutritious Milk From Dirty Blood
Allah is the One who created milk from the dirty red blood and caused it to flow from the mammary glands of the animals and humans so that it may reach the gullets of infants.
"And most surely there is a lesson for you in cattle; We give to drink of what is in their bellies from betwixt the faeces and the blood -pure milk, easy and agreeable to swallow for those who drink."
(Surah Nahl 16:66)
When the juvenile ones are not yet capable of digesting solid food it is only milk which nourishes them. And the provider of this milk is Allah. He is the bestower of every benefit.
"Say: All is from Allah.."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)
Bestows Sustenance - Accepts Deeds
Allah is the sustainer of all living creatures. He distributes His bounties freely to one and all. He gives sustenance to whom He chooses without measure. His unlimited Mercy spreads over His entire creation. He accepts the invocation of all those who plead to Him and removes the difficulties of whomsoever He wishes.
The absolute belief in Tawheed implies that one should understand fully, the meaning of the phrase, "There is no Power or Might except By Allah." In other words it is the essence of the Kalima "La ilahaa illallah." (There is no god except Allah).
Allah is the Cause of Every Phenomenon
Allah is the origin of every life. He is the origin of the characteristics of life imparted to each and every creature. The characteristics of all creation are manifested by the Will of Allah. Therefore it is no wonder if the established quality of a particular thing may undergo a sudden change if Allah so wishes; as it happened in the case of fire lighted by Namrood, which became cool by the Will of Allah. The details of such phenomena shall be explained in the following pages.
No Limit to the Splendour of Allah's Might
Allah, the Almighty is the One who brings assistance to the needy beseechers, provides relief to the afflicted who cry out for help and in His hands is all the good. "He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Sustainer, the Giver of life and death the Bestower of benefits, the Punisher, the Acceptor of prayers, the Obeyed One and the Praised." The names and attributes of Allah manifest His greatness. The phrase 'Rabbul Aalameen' (Lord of the worlds) is central to the Divine names. But intellect and reason is bewildered in understanding His attributes, and speech and expression is dumbfounded by His greatness.
(Almanac page 149)
The Holy Quran says:
"Say, if the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though we were to bring the like of that (sea) to add thereto."
(Surah Kahf 18:109)
Whatever a human being is able to achieve, is by the strength, the capacity, intellect and will power bestowed on him by Allah. By thought and perseverance, he can make use of these favours to distinguish between good and evil and perform his deeds. Anyone who does not ponder upon the designs which embellish the doors and walls of this world is himself lifeless like the walls. The observation of the creations around him offer enlightenment to the intelligent mind. But one who does not deliberate (ponder), cannot know Allah through His creations and thus he rejects the existence of Allah.
Is there anyone who could produce sweet fruits from woods (of trees)? Does anyone possess the miraculous capability of growing colourful flowers from (among) the thorns? He is that Pure and Flawless God who by His Divine plan and order created the day and the night and gave the light to the sun and the moon.
He is an incomparable king who neither requires a constitution nor a treasure. He is that designer who does not need paints or the tools of designing.
He causes the water springs to erupt from the stones and makes the rain to descend from the clouds. He creates honey from the bee and silk from the silkworm.
If all the creatures come together to discuss the bounties of Allah and continue upto the Day of Qiyamat, they will not have accomplished even a thousandth fraction of their task.
"And if you count Allah's favours, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nahl 16:18)
Human Strength is Limited by Divine Will
The strength and the capacity of all the human beings is surrounded by the Divine decree and Allah's will. As we see that a person makes an intention to do something but at the last moment his plans are foiled.
He is unable to complete the task that he had initiated due to the loss of capacity. Actually, what he intended to do was against the Divine will and thus he is hindered from the task. A person inquired from Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.), "My Master! How did you recognise (realise) Allah?" He replied, "I recognised Him by witnessing the abrogation of intention and the failures of strengths." Allah, undoubtedly is the initiator of all that moves in the Universe and He is the original cause of the various effects in the created world. To acknowledge Allah as the base of everything and to have a firm belief in this is the pinnacle of Tawheed (Belief in the Oneness of Allah).
However very few people are able to achieve this stage of Tawheed. But if one develops a firm conviction that the cause of every effect, whether material or spiritual is Allah, alone, he develops some peculiar characteristics. One of such characteristics is the Fear of Allah.
Fear of Allah
A believer who has reached the highest stage of belief fears nothing but the Might of Allah and his own sins. It is because he has realised that all the creatures from Adam (a.s.) to the angels and all the animals, birds and insects are the obedient soldiers of Allah. None of them move a step without His command. Hence they could not cause any harm or benefit without Allah's permission. When a person develops this belief he is not fearful of anything. Even if all the swords of the world come to attack. If Allah wills, not a single nerve could be cut by them.
The opposition of both the friend and the foe is from Allah. Because the hearts of both are in the control of Allah. However evil the claimant may intend, only that which Allah permits comes to pass. There is a tradition that,
"The excessive kind of belief consists of not fearing anything except Allah."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) used to recite this in prostration.
"O Allah if Your anger is not upon me then there is nothing I care for."
Reliance Upon Allah
When a believer has developed a firm and complete conviction that apart from Allah no one is the Lord of the creation and none is the cause of all the causes except Him, He does not repose hope in anyone except Allah. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) states:
"You must not rely upon anyone except the Lord."
As we have mentioned before, the origin of everything is Allah and the centre of all creation is He alone. In the same way every goodness of man for his fellowbeings also originates from Allah. As it is mentioned in the Holy Quran,
"Good actions are only from His (Allah's) hands."
At the end of Surah Yunus Allah says,
"And if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He, and if He intends good to you there is none to repel His grace; He brings it to whom He pleases of His servants; and He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
(Surah Yunus 10:107)
At another place the Quran says, "And whatever favour is (bestowed) on you, it is from Allah..."
(Surah Nahl 16:53)
Thus, it is clear from the above discussion that all that is present in the material and the ethereal spheres is subservient to Allah.
"There is no one in the heavens and the earth but will come to the Beneficient God as a servant."
(Surah Maryam 19:93)
If someone reposes hope in anyone except Allah his hopes are extinguished so that he can realise his true master, i.e. Allah.
"I will severe the ties of hope of those who repose hope in others."
Thankfulness to the Provider of Bounties
The master of the Universe is Allah and He bestows all the bounties, hence He must be thanked for these. Because all the good deeds are only through His hands. He gives whatever goodness He likes to anyone of His choice. That is why we say with a firm belief, "Al-hamdo lillah" (The praise is only for Allah).
Thankfulness for Capability (or Means) is also Necessary
If we are receiving sustenance or help from some means, we must be thankful for these too. However we should not consider these means or intermediaries to be independent of Allah. We must accept them only as the agents through whom Allah is causing His Mercy to reach us. These agents only act as a medium of passing the bounties of Allah and hence they must also be acknowledged; as ordered by the Masoom (a.s.).
"One who does not thank his apparent giver (the agent or the means), it is as if he has not thanked his real giver (Allah)."
"The most thankful amongst you towards Allah is the one who is most thankful to the people (who have helped you)."
There is no doubt that if one considers his helper to be the original doer of good (independent from Allah), he has surely committed shirk.
Hidden Shirk in the Praise of the Creature
"And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him)."
(Surah Yusuf 12:106)
While explaining this verse, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) informed that one form of shirk is,
"Like the saying of someone that if so and so had not been there I would have been destroyed. If so and so had not been there I would have got that thing. In the same way is to say that if so and so had not been there my children would haveperished."
Such utterances signify the type of belief the speaker possesses. If he really has such a belief then he is surely a polytheists (mushrik). After this Imam (a.s.) said,
"If one says, 'If Allah had not helped me through such and such person I would have perished,' there is no harm in it." In fact this is the essence of Tawheed.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and the Thankful Beggar
Masma bin Abdul Malik relates that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was at Mina (in Makkah) when a beggar approached him. Imam (a.s.) ordered that a bunch of grapes be given to him. The beggar said, "I do not need these, if possible give me money." Imam (a.s.) did not give him anything but said, "May Allah make you self-sufficient." After this another beggarapproached. Imam (a.s.) picked up three grapes from the bunch and offered them to him. The beggar picked them up and said, "All Praise is for Allah (only) who has given me sustenance." Imam (a.s.) said, "Wait", and he placed as many grapes as his hands could hold. Twice again he gave him the same quantity. The beggar thanked Allah again. Imam (a.s.) again stopped him and asked his slave how much money he had. The slave replied, "Twenty dirhams." Imam (a.s.) ordered him to give these to the beggar. The beggar took the money and said, "All praise is for Allah alone. O Allah You are the sustainer, You are One, there is no partner for You. Imam (a.s.) again stopped him. Then the Imam (a.s.) removed his shirt and gave it to the beggar and said, "Wear it." The beggar put the shirt on and thanked Allah who had bestowed him with the dress and made him happy. At this stage the beggar turned towards Imam (a.s.) and said, "O slave of Allah may Allah reward you for this." After this he went his way. The narrator says that if the beggar had not addressed the Imam (a.s.) as such, Imam (a.s.) would have continued to give him gifts for his thankfulness to Allah.
Tawheed and Tawakkul (Reliance)
It must be remembered that all the causes are in the hands of the One who is the final cause. Those who believe in the Oneness of Allah should rely only upon the Almighty Allah for all their affairs. They must realise that all the effects owe their cause to Allah. Even if all the venues for his success are open he will not achieve success if Allah's will is contrary to it. On the other hand if all the ways of success are closed he will definitely succeed if Allah wills. Even if all the means of causing him injury come together no harm shall come if Allah intends to protect him.
Tawheed and Acceptance (Taslim)
One who believes in Tawheed should accept all the Divine decrees with humility. He should believe that various factors like honour and dishonour, health and ailments, richness and poverty, death and life are all according to the Divine decree. He should not oppose any of these either by speech or by actions. He should not even express his opinion in such affairs. For example, "Why has this happened? It should have been like this." Or to say, "Why did it not rain? Why is it so hot?" One should not say, "Why has Allah not given me wealth or children?" "Why did such and such person die in his youth and why did the other attained old age?" "Why has Allah prohibited this and made obligatory that?"
One who utters such things makes himself a partner in the absolute authority of the Almighty Allah.
There maybe people who worship the One and only God, establish prayers, pay the Zakat, perform Hajj and also fast during the month of Ramazan. But if they have any objection against those obligations prescribed by Allah or His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and say, "Why was it not this way?" or even if they have such thoughts and do not express them in words, still they are polytheists (mushrikoon).
"But no! by your Lord! they do not believe until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission."
(Surah Nisa 4:65)
Allama Majlisi comments, "...any objection against the Divine decree and the utterances of the Pure Imams (a.s.) is tantamount to Shirk."
Thus it is obligatory for the believers of Tawheed that when they fall into misfortune and calamities they should restrain their tongues and hearts from objecting against the Divine decree. However the weeping and expression of grief at the death of friends and relative is allowed and rather recommended. What is not permitted is to say, "Why has this happened? It should not have happened."
Tawheed and Love
The worshippers of the unique God should accept that Allah is the provider of him and all the existing things. Whatever he gets is due to the beneficence of the Almighty. The apparent causes and the effects are also in control of Allah. Then it is Him only who deserves unlimited love and attachment. If someone else deserves to be loved it is only due to his being the beloved of Allah. This is because such a love is itself commanded by Allah. Divine personalities like the Holy Prophets (a.s.), Imams (a.s.), the angels and the true believers are those whose love is commanded by Allah.
In the same way, to show attachment to the gifts of Allah is allowed if such an attachment would exhibit our thankfulness for the bounties. To love our family, possessions and the worldly life is also worship in this way. However, to love all such things without considering the divine aspect renders one to be a mushrik (polytheist). If one loves something more than he loves Allah, then it is a kind of shirk. If he prefers something above the love of Allah it is totally Haraam. Consequently he becomes liable for punishment. For example if someone loves monetary wealth more than Allah then it would be difficult for him to fulfill the religious obligation of Zakat etc. Various ayats of the Quran and traditions mention this fact.
1) Someone inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of the following verse:
"The day on which property will not avail, nor sons. Except him who comes to Allah with a heart, free (from evil)."
(Surah Shuara 26: 88-89)
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"The heart free (from evil) is the one when it meets Allah it does not have the love of anyone but Allah. Every heart which has shirk and doubt is condemned to be destroyed. (Al Kafi)
2) Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) states,
"By Allah the Imaan (faith) of a person cannot be pure till he loves Allah more than his near ones; his mother, his father, children, wife, other people and wealth."
3) During the rule of Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) a male sparrow told its mate,
"Why do you stop me from mating? I possess such might that if I want I could pick up the dome of (the palace) of Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) and drop it in the river." When Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) came to know of this, he summoned both the birds and asked the male bird if he could substantiate his claim by putting it into practice. The bird replied that he had only tried to impress his mate by the false claim. He said that he loved his companion hence could not afford to lose her. When Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) asked the female bird for her opinion she said that her suitor did not love her and his affections were for someone else. Upon hearing her grievance Hazrat Sulaiman (a.s.) became remorseful. He retired into his prayer niche and did not come out for forty days. He prayed, "O Allah purify the heart of this male bird from the love of everything except his own mate."
Tawheed and Shirk in Obedience
A believer knows that the creator of all is the one and only Allah and He also is the only sustainer of all His creatures. He does not have any partner in his Lordship and authority. Such a believer does not regard anyone else fit for obedience, except Allah. This believer knows that apart from Allah none of the existing things could command obedience. They are all helpless before the Might of Allah. All the creatures are incapable of benefitting themselves, nor can they protect themselves from harm. They do not have any power upon their death and life and neither upon the Day of Judgement and the reckoning
"...they control not for themselves any harm or profit, and they control not death, nor life, nor raising (the dead) to life."
(Surah Furqan 25:3)
Thus total obedience and Wilayat is reserved for Allah only. However if Allah Himself designates someone to be the center of authority then His obedience is also obligatory due to the Divine command.
Authorities Whose Obedience is Commanded by Allah
The chain of the Divine Wilayat extends from the noble Prophets (a.s.), the Imams (a.s.) and also consist of the Nawwaab ul Khassa1 during the period of Minor occultation. Discussing this the Quran says,
"Whoever obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys Allah..."
(Surah Nisa 4:80).
"and whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it and from whatever he forbids you, keep back, and be cautious of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in retributing (evil)."
(Surah Hashr 59:7)
Further Allah says,
"O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those who have authority among you."
(Surah Nisa 4:59)
Who are the "Ulil Amr"?
Concerning the "Ulil Amr" the opinion of the Ahle Sunnat is unsupported by proofs. They claim that Ulil Amr means the ruler! What if the ruler is unjust? What if he is not an expert in religious affairs? What if he is a slave of material desires? Is obedience obligatory towards him even if he himself disobeys his Lord? Such a situation creates contradictions. However, all these things are beyond the scope of our discussion.
As Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "Two mutas (Muta of Hajj and Muta of women) were permitted in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), I prohibit both." Hence those who consider Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as Ulil Amr would regard Muta as Halaal. But if they also wish to obey Umar ibn al-Khattab, it will create a contradiction.
Love of Ali (a.s.) Commanded by Allah, and Muawiya's Stance
Muawiya considered it obligatory to fight Ali (a.s.) whereas the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had made it Haraam. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, "War against Ali (a.s.) is war against me." Muawiya used to order people to hate Ali (a.s.) while the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) made Ali's love obligatory and Allah made the love of Ali (a.s.) the compensation of the Prophetic message. The Holy Quran says,
"Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but the love of my near relatives."
(Surah Shura 42:23)
On the basis of this, the result of the obedience of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would be love for Ali (a.s.). To consider Muawiya as Ulil Amr would necessitate hatred for Ali (a.s.), and in this case too a contradictory situation would arise.
The Term 'Ulil Amr' is not Restricted to a Particular Group
To consider the command of obedience of Ulil Amr to be restricted to a particular group is against the import of the Quranic ayat. This is because Allah has not ordered the obedience of Ulil Amr separately. He has included the obedience of Ulil Amr alongwith that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Thus the obedience of Ulil Amr is the obedience of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). There is no difference between the obedience of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the obedience of Ulil Amr. The obedience of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Ulil Amr is compulsory upon everyone. It is not restricted to a few people. If we consider Ulil Amr to include all types of rulers it would not be correct. Ulil Amr are those who are purified from every kind of mistakes and sins. So that they could be obeyed without any reservations.
Are the Religious Scholars Ulil Amr?
Some scholars claim that by Ulil Amr is meant the religious leaders (Aalims). But, the Aalims are not infallible (Masoom). All the Aalims are prone to commit mistakes. That is the reason why there are differences in the religious rulings. Secondly infallibility is an inward quality which cannot be perceived by the people. That is the reason why the Ulil Amr could only be designated by Allah and appointed by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
The Twelve Imams are Ulil Amr
Numerous books of the Sunnis as well as Shia record traditions that the Ulil Amr are the Twelve Imams. The following tradition is regarded as authentic by the Sunnis as well as the Shias.
What the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) Says Regarding Ulil Amr
Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari (a.r.) reports, "I asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that I know Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.), but I do not know the Ulil Amr." The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"They are my Caliphs, O! Jabir, and Imams of the Muslims after me. The first of them is Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), then Hasan, then Husain, then Ali ibn Husain, then Muhammad bin Ali known in the Tawrat as Al-Baqir, thou wilt shortly meet him O Jabir; so when you meet him, convey to him my Salaam; then Ja'far ibn Muhammad, then Musa bin Ja'far, then Ali bin Musa, then Muhammad bin Ali, then Ali ibn Muhammad, then Hasan bin Ali, then my name sake and one having my kunniyat. They are the decisive argument of Allah on this earth and the mainstay of His religion among mankind. The last of them is the one whom Allah will give victory over the east of the earth and the west; and it is he who will disappear from his Shias and friends. A long concealment, during which no one will remain firm in the belief of his Imamat except those whose hearts Allah has tested for faith." Jabir (a.r.) asked, "Will his Shias derive benefit from him during his concealment?" "Yes", said the Apostle of Allah, "By him Who raised me up with Prophethood,verily they will obtain light from his 'Noor' and will benefit by his Wilayat during his concealment, like people derive benefit from the sun when it is covered with clouds."
So, it could be concluded from this tradition that the obedience of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) is equivalent to the obedience of Allah. Those interested in more details can refer to the book 'Ghayatul Maraam'. In the fifty-ninth chapter of this book, four traditions from the Sunni sources and fourteen from the Shia sources are mentioned. In the same book, in the 121st chapter, four traditions from the Sunni books and twenty-eight from the Shia sources are recorded.
Obedience of the Just Mujtahid
Now we can say that during the Major occultation the obedience of a qualified Mujtahid is also compulsory. His obedience is actually the obedience of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) says,
"Look carefully at those people who relate our traditions with deliberation upon our permitted and prohibited things, and know our precepts and commandments. opt one of them for adjudication, since I have appointed such a person for the said task. If his verdict is rejected then it is as if the command of Allah is deemed light and our ordinance refuted. Certainly the one who refutes our ordinance has refuted the ordinance of Allah. Verily such a person has stepped into the boundary of Shirk (Polytheism)."
The Faqih Who Deserves to be Followed
One of the conditions of a Faqih is that he should be free from worldly desires. He should not be in pursuit of material benefits and worldly honour. The Faqih who is free from such weaknesses is fit to be followed even if there are people more pious (in performing good deeds) than him. In this regard the great scholar Shaykh Ansari quotes a tradition from Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) in his book 'Ihtejaaj'.
"And among jurists (Fuqaha) those who protect themselves (from sins), guard their religion, defy their carnal desires and are obedient to their Master, it is incumbent upon the people to follow them. Such characteristics are found only in a few of them and not all."
Obeying Parents is Obeying Allah
Obedience to parents is obedience to Allah. To obey parents and not to cause them any kind of distress or discomfort is of extreme importance. This importance can be judged by the fact that in the Holy Quran, Allah's command to serve Him is immediately followed by His command to treat parents with gentleness and humility.
"And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him; and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) 'Uff' nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:23-24)
Parents Cannot Restrain From Obligatory Acts Nor Can They Compel You to Commit the Prohibited
It should be known that the parents are not the absolute authority upon all the affairs of Haraam and Halaal. Their authority is restricted by the dual dictum, that they must not prohibit a Wajib thing and nor should order something Haraam. If a situation demands the parents have to be disobeyed in absolute obedience to the commands of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
"And We have enjoined on man goodness to his parents, and if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them; to Me is your return, so I will inform you of what you did."
(Surah Ankaboot 29:8)
Obedience to parents is highly stressed so that they may not be caused even the slightest discomfort by the disobedience of their children. It is totally prohibited by the Quran. Thus if the disobedience of the parents would incur their wrath then it is compulsory for the children to obey them.
Further Details Regarding Obedience to Parents
Sometimes the parents may disallow something or order their children to do something. But if the child does not obey they are not angry. In such cases it is permitted for the child to follow his choice. For example the parents refrain their son to proceed on a journey that would cause hardship. But they do not mind if he insists on it. In this case it is Mubah for the son to go on this journey. However if this journey would cause the anger of one's parents, it is a journey of sin and during this journey one has to pray namaz as complete (not Qasr) and also observe the obligatory fasts.
Obedience of the Husband is Wajib Upon the Wife
The Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) have commanded the wife to obey her husband. The Holy Quran informs,
"Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded."
(Surah Nisa 4:34)
Allah, the Almighty has given men superiority over women and appointed them as the protectors of women. This is due to the fact that men have been provided by Allah with many qualities in great measure as compared to women, like strength, bravery etc. Further they spend their wealth upon their women. So the best women are those who are loyal to their husbands and obedient to their commands. They protect his property and their own chastity in the absence of their husbands. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"Prostration of a human for another human being is not permitted. (If it had been) I would have ordered the wife to prostrate before her husband."
Dignity in the Marital Affairs
Numerous traditions emphasise that women should be obedient to their husbands. Apart from this, women should know that it is highly recommended that they please their husbands in all matters. It is the best worship of a woman. However to satisfy the sexual desires of the husband is absolutely wajib according to the consensus of the scholars. Similarly the husbands permission is required by the wife if she intends to go out. Even if she goes to visit her relatives or parents it is obligatory for her to seek the husbands permission. If she leaves the husband's house without his permission, the angels curse her till she returns.
Non-Essential Expenses Should Have the Prior Sanction of the Husband
Apart from the necessary expenses, the wife should obtain the husband's permission for other things even if she wants to spend from her personal wealth. But in case of obligatory expenses she does not need the husband's permission. For example, Hajj, Zakat, Khums and even for spending upon her parents. Even if the husband restrains her she must carry out these obligations. If a woman obeys her husband to please Allah, she has undoubtedly obeyed the Divine commands and the instructions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). It is certainly the best worship for a woman.
Referring to the Unjust Ruler is Not Allowed
So far, we have seen that obedience to Allah is obligatory and so is the obedience to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his Twelve Successors (Imams a.s). and whoever else Allah has ordered to obey. Their obedience is also a must i.e. of the Fuqaha, in case of religious matters. It is absolutely 'Haraam' to appeal for justice in the courts of the unjust rulers. Referring to them is the same as seeking the help of Satan. Whatever benefit is derived through such cases is also Haraam even if one is the rightful claimant. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If one files a suit of law in the court of a ruler, even if the plaintiff is on the right, his claim would tantamount to his making Satan (false deity) his judge. And whatever he gets through this Judgement is Haraam even though it was from his rights."
"...then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Apostle..."
(Surah Nisa 4:59)
The Religious Scholar Who Does Not Practise Piety is Not to Be Followed
Like it is prohibited to seek the counsel of the unjust ruler even if one is on the right; in the same way it is not allowed to seek religious advice from the scholars who pursue material wealth and worldly honour. The qualifications of a Faqih have been mentioned in the foregoing pages. Anyone who does not fulfill these qualities is not to be followed. It is Haraam to refer to them. A couple of traditions are quoted below in this regard.
Religious Leaders Who Worship the World are Bandits on the Highway to Allah
It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "When you see a religious scholar in love of this world, do not consider him religious. Certainly one who loves an object, his condition and disposition is like that of his beloved. (It means that one who loves this world will not care for the Hereafter). Allah revealed upon Hazrat Dawood (a.s.)
"O Dawood do not make an Aalim an intermediary between you and Me, who is involved in the love of this world. He will hinder you from My path (i.e. he will make you too a worshipper of the world like himself). Certainly such Aalims are bandits who waylay the people approaching My abode. The least that I would do to them is that I shall remove from their hearts the love of conversation with Me and sweetness too."
A Faqih Should Only be For Allah
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) states,
"If one obtains knowledge in order to become conceited or to argue with the foolish people or to obtain wealth or to attract people towards himself then he has certainly made the Fire his abode. Verily, acquisition of wealth is not permitted but for ones own family (needs)."
The Common People are 'Deficient'
People who leave aside the scholars of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and refer to others in order to satisfy their selfish desires, are termed as 'deficient' (which means those who willfully neglect the Divine commands). They are mentioned in the following verse of the Holy Quran:
"Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his god."
(Surah Jasiyah 45:23)
Tawheed and Shirk in Worship
The Almighty Allah has invited all the creatures to pay obeisance to Him in order that His Majesty may become manifest. The people can obtain numerous blessings and unlimited mercy and achieve such a position which even imagination cannot visualise. "So no soul knows what is hidden for them of that which will refresh the eyes; a reward for what they did."
(Surah Sajdah 32:17)
The Lord of the Worlds and the Lowly Man
The human being is a lowly creature. So lowly that he cannot even seek nearness to the Almighty, let alone achieve it. That is why Allah, by his unsurpassed Wisdom and infinite Mercy appointed the Last Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as an intermediary to form a firm link between the lowly man and the Almighty Allah.
Due to the presence of this Wasilah (intermediary) the soul of man is affected to such a degree that it undergoes a transformation. Just as alchemy changes the base metal into pure gold, the heart of the worshipper become pure and is filled by the light of the Creator, repelling the darkness of Ignorance. Gradually he rises in status as his worship enables him to rise up towards the Divine. He thus achieves the best of both the worlds.
Purity of Intention
There are some conditions for acceptance of the acts of worship. The most important condition is purity of intention (Niyyat). Purity of intention with respect to a deed has the same significance that the soul has for the body. Absence of the purity of intention during worship takes man further away from Allah.
The Holy Quran contains numerous verses in this regard. A few of them are quoted below:
1) "And they were not enjoined anything except that they should serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience."
(Surah Bayyanah 98:5)
2) "Say: I am commanded that I should serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience."
(Surah Zumar 39:11)
3) "Say: My Lord has enjoined justice, and set upright your faces at every time of prayer and call on Him, being sincere to Him in obedience."
(Surah Araf 7:29)
4) "Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your god is One God, therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join anyone in the service of His Lord."
(Surah Kahf 18:110)
One Who "Shows-Off" is a Mushrik
It is concluded from the authentic traditions that one who tries to show-off in religious matters is a mushrik and a hypocrite. He is inevitably condemned to Divine punishment. It is one and the same whether his show-off concerns the obligatory acts or the recommended acts.
Similarly he may simply exhibit outward piety or his aim may be to acquire honour and respect among the people. Even if he has a dual aim (of showing off and fulfilling his obligation) his act is classified as shirk. A few Quranic verses are quoted for the benefit of the readers:
1) "Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah, and He shall requite their deceit to them, and when they stand up sluggishly; they do it only to be seen of men and do not remember Allah save a little. Wavering between that (and this), (belonging) neither to these nor to those."
(Surah Nisa 4:142)
2) "So woe to the praying ones, who are unmindful of their prayers, who do (good) to be seen."
(Surah Maoon 107:4-6)
Outward Piety (Riyah) is the Lesser Shirk
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"Certainly what I fear for you most is the lesser shirk."
Someone enquired, "O Prophet (s.a.w.s.), what is meant by lesser shirk?" He replied,
"It is Riyah when Allah would reward His creatures for their deeds on the Day of Judgement He would address those who committed Riyah thus, 'you approach those, to please whom you had performed all the deeds in the world. And obtain your rewards for your deeds from them.'
Is it possible to receive rewards from them? Absolutely not!
The Deceitful Person Deceives Himself Alone
Someone enquired from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as to how could salvation be attained on the Day of Judgement? He replied,
"It could only be possible if one does not deceive Allah. Certainly if anyone tries to deceive Allah he is himself deceived by Allah (i.e. he is repaid for his deceit) and Allah takes away belief from him. If he possesses reason he should know that in trying to deceive Allah, he is only deceiving himself."
"How can Allah be deceived and defrauded?" a person asked. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) continued,
"The person fulfills all his religious obligations but his aim is to please someone other than Allah. Fear Allah and restrain from 'Riyah'. On the Day of Judgement the deceiver (Riyakaar) will be addressed by four titles, 'O Kafir, O Sinful, O Crafty one, O Loser, your deeds are nullified and the reward of your deeds is lost. Today you have no worth whatsoever. Go and seek the reward of your deeds from those, to please whom you performed your acts.'
(Muhajjatul Baidha, Behaarul Anwaar)
The Fire of Hell Weeps Due to the Deceitful Ones (Riyakaar)
It is narrated from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"If a person performs a good deed to achieve Allah's pleasure and the reward in the hereafter; but also intends to please other people, then he will be termed as a Mushrik."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has informed,
"Certainly the fire of Hell and the people of Hell would cry for help due to the crafty ones."
Someone asked, "O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.). How would the fire cry?" He replied,
"The fire would scream and cry for help due to the intensity of the heat of that fire in which the Riyakaar people would be burning."
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"Certainly, Allah sent His messenger, so that He may extricate the humankind from the worship of people and direct them to the worship of Allah."
Sometimes Worship Leads the Worshipper to the Fire (Of Hell)
Abu Basir has narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"On the Day of Judgement a person would be brought forward. He had performed namaz in his life. He would be told that you have prayed but your intention had been to show-off, so that people may appreciate your worship. This person would be cast into the fire. Then a reciter of the Quran would be brought. He would be told, 'at the time of reciting the Quran, your intention had been to exhibit your sweet voice so that people may appreciate your tone.' This one shall also be tossed into the fire. The third person to be presented shall be one who had died a martyr in Jihad. He would be told that, 'Your intention while fighting was to make a show-off your strength and valour." He shall also be led towards the fire. The fourth person had been a charitable man. He would be told, 'your intention in giving charity was that people may call you generous.' Then he would also be led towards Hell.
Numerous traditions confirm that the Riyakaar person is a Mushrik. This is sufficient for the believing and the thoughtful people.
The Merits of Pure Intentions and the Censure of Riyah
Apart from the punishment in the Hereafter and cancellation of good deeds the Riyakaar person will also fail to achieve his aim in this world. In the world it had been his intention to achieve honour among the people but instead he would have to face humiliation and shame. The noble Quran tells us,
"...he loses this world as well as the hereafter; that is a manifest loss."
(Surah Hajj 22:11)
On the contrary, one who performs good deeds for the Hereafter will achieve honour in this world too. The following verse of Surah Kahf says:
"...therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join anyone in the service of his Lord."
(Surah Kahf 18:110)
The tafsir of this ayat is as follows: "Someone performs a good deed not for seeking Allah's pleasure, but to obtain praise and admiration from people, so that people may see and hear him and he may become famous. He is like the one who has an associate with Allah in his worship. One who conceals his worship acts from the people (and reserve them solely for Allah would finally be given an honourable position among the people, by Allah. While one who exhibits his worship; his weaknesses aredisclosed by Allah and consequently he is degraded."
True Deeds are Surely Manifested
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If one intends to do a slender act with the sole intention of pleasing Allah, Allah causes this small deed of his to be manifested on a greater scale upon the people. (On the contrary) if someone performs the greatest of deeds which causes him physical tiredness and exhaustion due to wakeful nights, while his intention had been to acquire the praise of people, his deed would be reduced to a trifle by Allah and manifested on the people." (till the people begin to dislike him.)
Outward Piety and the Legal Point of View
If someone has committed shirk with regard to the acts of worship, he must repent sincerely and have a firm determination not to repeat his mistake. He should intend to perform all his deeds in the future for the sole purpose of achieving Allah's pleasure. First of all it is wajib upon him to seek forgiveness of his past sins. Secondly he must repeat all the worship acts in which he had committed Riyah, even if a part of that worship had been contaminated with the intention of showing off. Suppose he had begun his act with pure intention but later he was involved in Riyah, even so his deed is nullified. Like the person who gives Zakat to a needy man but later tries to obtain some benefit in return. In this case he has to first repent for his sin and then again give Zakat with the sole intention of achieving Allah's pleasure.
Similarly in the case of Namaz the person may exhibit a part of it (Be it a Mustahab part) e.g. Qunoot or he may perform Namaz in congregation or sit in the front row to show-off. In all such cases he has to perform this Namaz again.
Riyah in the Acts of Worship
There is no firm proof that Riyah is Haraam in the pure worldly acts, which are not considered acts of worship. Consequently the Fuqaha have not given any verdict concerning this. But the true believers refrain from all types of Riyah; even with the worldly acts and the mubah actions. The root of Riyakaari is the love of this world. Hence if one falls into this habit, he may even begin to make it a part of his worship.
The respected scholar, Faiz-e-Kashani writes in his book, 'Muhajjatul Baidha', "People resort to Riyakaari in five types of actions.
(1) Bodily Riyah
(2) Riyah of beauty and dress
(3) Riyah of speech
(4) Riyah of actions
(5) Riyah of the outward kind."
The above types of Riyah are explained below:
1) Bodily Riyah
Bodily Riyah with regard to the actions pertaining to the hereafter is that someone tries to show that his body has becomefragile due to excessive fasting and night worship. Or he may keep his lips dry so that people think that he is fasting. Or he may show himself to be pious so that people commend him, and day and night he remains busy in religious acts. Bodily Riyah with regard to worldly matters is that he displays his body and tries to create a position in the eyes of the people.
2) Riyah of Beauty and Dress
This type of Riyah with regard to the hereafter consists of shaving ones moustache so that people think that he is following the recommended acts or walking slowly with head turned downwards or wearing dirty clothes to show that one has disregard for the world.
The riya of beauty and dress with regard to this world is to show off ones dress and handsome appearance so that people are attracted towards the person.
3) Riyah of Speech
Riyah of speech with regard to the hereafter is for example uttering Zikr (i.e. Alhamdo Lillah) to show-off to the people. To exhibit one's knowledge and greatness by preaching to the people in assemblies. To forbid evil and enjoin good to the audience by making people fearful of Divine wrath without having any pure intention.
In the worldly connection this Riyah could take the form of boasting of ones achievements and capabilities so that the people adore him. To be extremely social and greet beyond limit, even strangers, to achieve popularity, etc.
4) Riyah of Actions
In connection with actions of the hereafter Riyah consists of praying namaz to show-off. For example reciting lengthy chapters or lingering for a long time in Ruku or Sajdah. To pray namaz extremely slowly. Performing the wajib and the mustahab fast, Hajj and Ziarat, giving charity and feeding people so that one is regarded as pious.
With regard to the worldly actions, it is to behave with people in consonance with their way of thinking and to spend in similar ways. That is, to strive to become honourable in the eyes of these people. To spend lavishly upon people by inviting them in large numbers for dinner etc.
5) Riyah of the External Kind
All the four types of Riyah explained above are concerned with the person himself. The fifth type of Riyah is that which is connected with the external affairs. This type of Riyah also is with regard to the Hereafter as well as this world. With regard to the Hereafter it consists of a person sitting in the assembly of the learned people without any pure intention; just to exhibit his interest in religion etc. Or to go out to meet pious people or invite the learned scholars to his home for dinner so that people consider him to be religious. In the same way Riyah is prohibited with regard to the worldly actions. For example visiting frequently the courts of Kings and rulers so that people realise his influence and reputation and the gullible people aredeceived by his outward show.
Riyah is Associated With Intention
It must be understood that Riyah of a person depends upon his intention. In other words all such actions which a person performs to show off are Riyah whether those actions are related to the hereafter or this world. In all types of actions related above, riyah is not committed till one has the intention to show-off. But if one performs an action solely for the pleasure of Allah it is worship. For example if one dresses up nicely or decorates his house with the intention of fully expressing the bounties of Allah; this action is worship. However if his intention is to show-off to people it is Riyah.
Anyone who wishes to study this topic in detail should refer to the book Qalbe Saleem by the same author.
The second Greater Sin is to despair of the Mercy of Allah. "Al-yaa-so Min Roohallah" (To despair of the Rooh of Allah) Rooh: according to the dictionary means a breeze that pleases and comforts. Those who do not believe in the Power, the Mercy and Bounty of Allah, develop a kind of despair. The Holy Quran has termed such people as Unbelievers (Kafir).
"...and despair not of Allah's Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah's Mercy except the unbelieving people."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)
The Holy Imams, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.), Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have classified "despairing of the Mercy of Allah", to be a Greater Sin; as we have mentioned at the beginning.
The Greatest Sin After 'Shirk'
After 'shirk' no sin could be greater than to despair of Allah's mercy and benevolence. This attitude reduces a person to a state of utter hopelessness. He imagines himself to be destined for Hell, and therefore he sees no benefit in doing good and avoiding evil. Consequently he tries to achieve as much worldly pleasure as possible and thus gets further involved in all kinds of sinful acts. Any other type of sinner could be pardoned if he repents. But the one who despairs does not deserve to be pardoned because the mental condition of such a person does not lead him towards repentance, but instead, induces him to continue to commit further acts of transgression against Allah's commands.
Hence it means that despair is the greatest of the sins. It is appropriate therefore that all the different varieties of despair may be explained and also their cures, so that the believers can keep themselves away from them.
The Almighty Allah has created a cause of all the phenomena of this world by His unlimited power and absolute strength. For example, in the physical affairs food is needed for satiation of hunger, water for quenching thirst, doctor and medicine for curing diseases and work for removing poverty.
In the same way the spiritual phenomena also depend upon various causes. The salvation of a sinner depends upon his repentance, the achievement of absolute belief needs the guidance of an infallible guide (Imam), and the attainment of grades in piety and the high stages of the hereafter depend upon the purity of intention in the deeds performed. The aim of creating man was to make him think and recognise Allah in the proper way. But the thorough recognition or belief is not possible till man realises that the Creator of causes as well as effects is Allah. The causes by themselves cannot bring out an effect till the One who has created these causes gives the capability to the cause to bring out such effect. Therefore one should not be pleased at the apparent causes or be aggrieved due to their absence.
Cause is Not Independent
When causes that would fulfill needs or desires appear, man becomes happy and he believes in the Might of Allah. But when these causes fail to have any effect he becomes sorrowful. In order to avoid such a situation Allah has laid down a procedure. Firstly he renders the causes ineffective so that the believer may not consider these to be originally having the effective properties. On the other hand he creates the factors which were hereto non-existent, so that the believing people may not fall into despair. A few examples are mentioned to explain this fact.
Fire Did Not Burn - Knife Did Not Cut
The fire ignited by the order of Namrood to burn Ibrahim (a.s.) was made bereft of its burning property, by Allah. It is said, that the fire was so intense that birds flying at a height of three miles used to be scorched by the heat and drop dead.
So they threw Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) into the fire with the help of a catapult from far away. In the Holy Quran Allah says:
"We said: O fire! be coolness and peace to Ibrahim."
(Surah Anbiya 21:69)
The fire immediately lost its essential property of burning, and cooled down; and if Allah had not ordered it to be peaceful (safe) for Ibrahim (a.s.) it would have become colder and may have frozen Ibrahim (a.s.) to death.
In the same way when Ibrahim (a.s.) proceeded to slaughter his son Ismail (a.s.) the knife was blunted by Allah's command. Ibrahim (a.s.) threw the knife away and a voice emerged from it. "The Khalil (friend) of Allah commands me to cut and the Lord of the Khalil restrains me from it."
Musa (a.s.) and Firon
History records that the tyrant rulers have always oppressed Allah's representative on earth, the Prophets and the Imams. These rulers have made relentless use of all the might and power at their command to pursue the Prophets and terminate their lives. But the Almighty Allah used to render their efforts null and void. The life of Musa (a.s.) during the reign of Firon is full of such instances from the beginning to end.
A powerful king like Firon wanted to kill Hazrat Musa (a.s.) while he was still in his mother's womb, but he did not succeed and Musa (a.s.) was born. Firon continued in his efforts to murder him but all his plans were foiled by Allah. Physical and spiritual causes are of no significance in comparison to the Divine decree. Thus Musa (a.s.) was not only born safely but grew up in Firon's own palace and in his own lap.
"And Firon's wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to you; do not slay him; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son; and they did not perceive."
(Surah Qasas 28:9)
The Attack of Abraha on the Ka'ba
In the year of the birth of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) the army of Najjashi came to attack the Holy Ka'ba. It was led by the commander Abraha. The army consisted of elephants and possessed all the armaments of war. Abraha, proud of his bulkyarmy and weapons was confident of success. But the creator of all causes weakened their efforts. When Allah willed all the human and animals in the army came to a standstill. However much they tried, the elephants refused to move towards the sacred house.
On the other hand 'Ababeel' appeared on the horizon. Each of these birds carried three pebbles; one in the beak and one each in their claws. They surrounded the complete army and began to pelt them with pebbles. Each pebble fell on the head of the soldiers and pierced through their body to reach the ground and sank into it. Consequently the entire army perished, except one soldier. This soldier retreated to king Najjashi and related the episode in detail. This incident gained so much importance that the year began to be referred to as 'Aamul Feel', or the year of the Elephant. Thus the history of Arabs record the birth of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to be in the year 1st Aamul Feel and the year of his Be'sat (declaration of Prophethood) to be 40th Aamul Feel.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and How His Life was Saved
The protection of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) from the blood thirsty people of Makkah and later his being shielded from death in the various battles is considered to be a sign of Allah. All the polytheists had united to martyr the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) right from the day he declared his Prophethood. They had all the means to achieve their purpose but as a Persian couplet says: "Who can extinguish the lamp lighted by Allah."
He Creates Without an Apparent Cause
Even if the apparent causes, both material and non-material ones, are absent, Allah creates them by His unsurpassed power. There are numerous examples of such a phenomenon. The foremost example is that of the father of man, Hazrat Adam (a.s.) whom Allah created without the union of a male and a female. Adam (a.s.) came into existence from non-existence. Similarly Prophet Isa (a.s.) was born to the chaste maid, Janabe Maryam (a.s.) even though a man had not touched her.
Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) when he had reached an extremely old age and when his wife had lost all hopes of conceiving. Hazrat Ishaq (a.s.) was born to Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) when Hazrat Ibrahim was aged and inspite of his wife Janabe Sarah being barren previously.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) And His Knowledge
The Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) did not attend any school nor did he learn from any teacher. He was not trained to read and write by any mortal. Yet, he was the teacher of humanity and was having command upon the Quranic sciences. In fact his personality was a conglomeration of the qualities of all the previous prophets. The presence of such outstanding qualities in one person without any apparent causes, can only be understood to be the Divine will.
Invocations are Answered Without the Presence of Apparent Means
The Beneficial God listens to the invocations of His creatures and fulfills their desires. Many a times we see that people who have no means whatsoever are able to get rid of their afflictions and distress. Due to the grace of Sadaqah, incurable diseases are cured and destitutes become rich. People surrounded by calamities are saved in ways they could not have even imagined.
The traditional reports are replete with such instances. The unlimited beneficence and grace of the Almighty Allah has been described by Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) in the following couplets:
"Only the wise could estimate, the unlimited Grace of the Almighty Allah who releases us from calamities, and removes grief from the defeated hearts. On numerous occasions, man is sorrowful in the morning. But by evening his disposition changes into happiness. So when you are surrounded by difficulties, repose absolute hope in the Unique God."
Love of Ali (a.s.)
Imam Yafai writes in his book, 'Rawzatul Rehayeen' the explanation of Diwan-e-Mubeedi and says, "A certain king gave a pearl to his jeweller. The jeweller's child somehow got hold of this pearl and broke it into two pieces. The jeweller was in agony. He was asked by some person to recite the above mentioned couplets of Imam Ali (a.s.) with sincerity. Hardly had he begun to recite that a messenger from the king arrived. He told him that physicians have suggested that if his pearl is powered and given to the sick princess she would be cured of her malady. The King has sent orders to the jeweller to powder that pearl at once and take it to the palace.
The Destiny of Man
The spiritual factors which are connected with the hereafter have some causes, the affect of which is kept in abeyance by the Will of Allah. For example those who perform Jehad against their ownselves achieve for themselves a high position in the Hereafter. Those who do not believe in the prophets, the deeds of such people are nullified.
Balam Baoor and his Eternal Damnation
Balam Baoor had achieved a high stage of perfection. But in order to please the ruler he started opposing the prophet of his time. Consequently he became involved in a life of sin from which it was not possible to extricate himself. He was doomed to Hell, to the seventh stage of the fire that is the worst of the stages of Hell. He is compared to a dog in the holy Quran,
"And if We had pleased, We would certainly have exalted him thereby; but he clung to the earth and followed his low desire, so his parable is as the parable of the dog; if you attack him he lolls out his tongue; this is the parable of the people who reject our communications; therefore relate the narrative that they may reflect."
(Surah Araf 7:176)
Believing people are those who have realised Allah. The believing people should be particularly cautious not to confuse the apparent causes as the basis of all phenomena. Inspite of realising the supreme authority of Allah and His creations, a public misconception in this regard can damn them to perdition. They should know that they could be damned to perdition if they depend upon the apparent causes and consider them to be the basis of all phenomena because the centre of all phenomena is Allah. He is capable of making all the causes ineffective.
Beauty of the Hereafter
When all the means of salvation are annihilated, the Almighty Allah creates a cause due to his unlimited Mercy. Numerous traditions report incidents where people who had been involved in calamities and damned for destruction were, in the last moments, saved by Allah. They had been completely lost in the darkness of sins but were summoned towards their Lord by His limitless Mercy. The desolate deserts of their life were once again green and fertile. The bounties of Allah bestowed upon them surprised all the intelligent witnesses of these incidents.
The Magicians of Firon
Magic is a Great Sin and the worst of the professions. A magician is destined to Divine punishment, and Hell will be his abode. The magicians of Firon, were ordered to challenge Hazrat Musa (a.s.) and belittle him. But their wicked craft was of no avail, and they failed miserably. At that moment Divine Grace descended. The magicians intuitively sensed the power of Allah that gave Hazrat Musa (a.s.) superiority over them. Neither the lure of wealth nor the warning of torture and death by Firon could shake their belief. They were redeemed.
"Certainly I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and certainly I will crucify you all. They said: No Harm; surely to our Lord we go back."
(Surah Shura 26:49-50)
Asiya was a Believing Woman
Upon whomsoever He wishes, Allah bestows a respectable position in this world, as well as the hereafter. Asiya, Firon's wife was leading a life of affluence and material comforts, when her heart became illuminated by the light of belief. Even though she had to go through untold hardships because of her husband Firon, she did not flinch. She declared her belief in Allah and His Prophet, Musa (a.s.), without any fear. At the time of her death, when she was being martyred, she prayed to her Lord.
"...she said: My Lord! build for me a house with Thee in the Garden and deliver me from Firon and his doings, and deliver me from the unjust people."
(Surah Tahrim 66:11)
People of the Cave
The people of the cave whose number is said to be seven were living during the reign of the tyrant king Daqiyanoos. Daqiyanoos had claimed divinity and people used to follow him. But suddenly the hearts of these seven people became illuminated with true belief.
They set aside the false claims of Daqiyanoos and in order to tread the path of true beliefs, renounced the worldly power and headed for the mountains and hid themselves in a cave.
This incident is depicted in detail in Surah Kahf. Their example is preserved in history till the Day of the Judgement.
Realisation Before Death
It is known that there have been people so much involved in sins that their salvation appeared impossible. But in their last moments, realisation dawned on them and they prayed for pardon. Due to their sincere repentance all their sins were pardoned and the Mercy of the Merciful Allah came to their rescue. Thus, they were able to achieve salvation and happiness in the hereafter. They shall be among the successful ones on the Day of the Judgement.
Immediate Death on Embracing Islam
One such fortunate person was a Jew at the battle of Uhud. His name was 'Makhreeq'. He addressed his tribesmen as follows: "You are not aware that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is the truthful and the promised Prophet." They replied, "How do you know we are not aware?" "Then why don't you come for his help?" he asked. The tribe said. "Today is Saturday (sabbath)." He said, "But that was at the time of Hazrat Musa (a.s.), it is abrogated by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and is not acceptable to him." When he did not receive any response from the people of his tribe he went to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and became a Muslim. He was extremely wealthy. He entrusted all his wealth to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and himself entered the battlefield to face the unbelievers. He was soon martyred. It is said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) often gave charity from the property of Makhreeq, the martyr.
Hur ibn Yazid Riyaahi was the commander of Ibn Ziyad. He had obstructed the way of Imam Husain (a.s.) and forced him to halt at Karbala. This despicable act would have condemned him to eternal damnation. But when he heard the sermon of Imam Husain (a.s.) on the day of Ashura and also his Isteghasa, (call for help) his heart underwent a transformation. The Mercy and the Grace of Allah came to his rescue. He repented sincerely and aligned himself with the martyrs of Karbala. In this way he was able to achieve eternal bliss. In the last moments of his life Imam Husain (a.s.) gave him the good news, "You are 'Hur' (Free) as your mother has named you."
Wise People Never Lose Hope
One should never lose hope of achieving high moral traits and perfection in one's faith. In fact one should not even doubt the possibility of achieving it. Even though this type of deficiency in hope is not totally Haraam, yet the true believer should refrain from it. On the other hand he should not consider his apparent capabilities; like youth, strength, wisdom, capacity to think, ability to work, enthusiasm, love etc. to be sufficient for success in the hereafter
Many a people had lacked the above qualities but when the Mercy and Grace of Allah came to their aid, they were raised to a high position. For example people like Fuzail ibn Ayaz, Imran Sabi, Barham Nasrani and Sahib Riyaz who received the Tawfeeq from Allah when had become weak due to old age and were incapable of hardwork and active life, yet they achieved an exalted position.
Hopelessness is a Great Sin
Hopelessness is a Greater Sin because it implies negation of the Absolute Sovereignty of the Almighty. A heart illumined with the knowledge that Allah the Creator of all existing things is the best Planner, the best Executor and the best Protector; a person who has the knowledge that it is Allah who bestows a super-abundance of sustenance, security and welfare on His creatures because of His boundless Mercy, limitless Generosity and unsurpassed Knowledge, will be comforted and reassured. The heart of such a person will be calm and peaceful and the question of feeling sorrowful and aggrieved will just not arise. The creator is not unmindful of the needs of a child in its mother's womb. Nourishment is supplied to him through the umbilical cord. When the child is born, Allah provides him through his mother, wholesome and easily digestible milk. Gradually Allah develops in him various capabilities needed for the different stages of his growth.
To ensure the security and happiness of the child Allah creates deep and abiding affection in the heart of the mother for the child; and she is prepared to sacrifice all her comforts and pleasures for the child's sake.
After having the awareness, discussed above, is it possible for one to lose hope in his Lord? No! In fact it makes it easy to repose faith in the Creator and go through all the ups and downs of life with resignation and fortitude.
Hopelessness is a Sign of Disbelief and Lack of Knowledge
Despair is a form of hidden disbelief. It is the result of ignorance about the greatness of one's Lord (Allah). Giving in to despair is equivalent to disbelieving in one's Lord (Allah), which is a Greater Sin. One should therefore be extremely cautious and guard against putting oneself in such a woeful state. The noble Quran explains this in the verse,
"... Surely none despairs of Allah's Mercy except the unbelieving people."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)
Hope is Embedded in Human Psychology
The Almighty in His infinite Mercy, has embedded hope in human psychology. Even in the worst of circumstances, there is a faint glimmer of hope in the human heart, and this helps him to overcome his feeling of hopelessness. He therefore turns to his Lord and supplicates for Mercy, forgiveness and redress, and Allah never turns away a supplicant.
1. Power of Allah
Praise be to Allah for His supreme and absolute authority over the vast universe; the earth and the seven skies. He sets the course of the stars and the planets; and not a leaf falls without His permission. He is able to do what He wills. Intellect and reason get bewildered in trying to understand His Might and Greatness. Can such an Almighty be unable to fulfill the meagre needs of his creatures. Certainly not! So how can hopelessness be justified.
2. Personal Experiences
One must ponder upon the various blessings Allah bestowed on us in the past and which we had taken for granted. The Almighty has brought us safely out of the darkness of the womb. He is thoughtful of our needs and He knows them better than our ownselves, and fulfills them without our asking. He has rescued us from many a dangerous situations, disease and calamities. He has bestowed numerous blessings, physical, material, mental, social and spiritual upon us yet we becomeundeniable of our standing as individuals. Then why should there be hopelessness? Is He unaware of our condition? I seek forgiveness from the Almighty Allah! Allah is far too exalted.
Let us study the situation of those who were in extremely difficult times but were hopeful of the Lord's Benevolence and Mercy. They continued to entreat Allah till He accepted their prayers and redressed them.
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and His Male Child
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was one hundred and twelve years and according to another report one hundred and twenty years. His respected wife Hazrat Sarah was ninety-seven years. They did not have any children. Allah sent to them an Angel to inform them that they would be gifted with a son.
"And his wife was standing (by), so she laughed, then We gave her the good news of Ishaq and after Ishaq of (a son's son) Yaqub."
"She said: O wonder! Shall I bear a son when I am an extremely old woman and this my husband an extremely old man? Most surely this is a wonderful thing."
"They said: Do you wonder at Allah's bidding? The Mercy of Allah and His blessings are on you, O People of the house, surely He is Praised, Glorious."
(Surah Hud 11: 71-73)
In brief, the Mercy of Allah blessed Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Janabe Sarah with a son, Ishaq, at an age when it could never have been expected.
Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) and his Son Yahya (a.s.)
The age of Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) was ninety-nine years and that of his wife eighty nine. Yet, he was hopeful of the Grace of Allah and he prayed with sincerity, "He said My Lord! Surely my bones are weakened and my head flares with hoariness, and my Lord! I have never been unsuccessful in my prayer to Thee: And surely I fear my cousins after me, and my wife is barren, therefore grant me from Thyself an heir, who would inherit me and inherit from the children of Yaqub, and make him, my Lord, one in whom Thou art well pleased."
O Zakaria! Surely We give you good news of a boy whose name shall be Yahya: We have not made before anyone his equal. He said,
"O my Lord! When shall I have a son, and my wife is barren, and I myself have reached the excessive degree of old age? He said: "So shall It be, your Lord says: It is easy to Me, and indeed I created you before, when you were nothing."
(Surah Maryam 19:4-9)
Thus Allah accepted the invocation of Hazrat Zakaria (a.s.) and Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) was born to him.
If one is suffering from some disease for a long time and there seems to be no hope of curing it, one must consider this disease to be a penalty for his sins (kaffara).
On the other hand if due to his prayers and Sadaqah the disease is cured it becomes a mean of salvation.
Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.) and Tribulations
If one intends to achieve humility and insight, he must study the life of Hazrat Ayyub (a.s.). After being inflicted with a horrible disease for seven years and according to other reports for eighteen years, he prayed to Allah.
"And Ayyub, when he cried to his Lord, (saying): Harm has afflicted me, and Thou art the most Merciful of the Mercifuls."
(Surah Anbiya 21:83)
Allah responded to his entreaty by curing his malady and also gave him wealth as before.
Hidden Wisdom in Poverty and Destitution
If one is afflicted with poverty for a long time and is unable to see a way out, then this situation can be viewed in two ways: First, it is possible that there may be a hidden wisdom in his poverty, and if he had access to this knowledge he may himselfopt this state for himself and be happy in the bargain.
Secondly, those who spend the earlier part of life in poverty usually become enriched at a later stage and therefore have a comfortable time in their old age.
Wealth in the Empty Hands
As an example an incident is quoted from the book "Faraz Baadashshuda": A rich businessman says, 'I was travelling for Hajj and had 3000 dinars and gold and silver ornaments with me. I had tied them up in a bag attached to my cummerbund. But I dropped this bag when I went to answer the call of nature. I had proceeded many miles further, when I realized my bag was missing. I had a lot of wealth so I did not find it imperative to go back and look for my money nor was it possible to return. When I came back to my native site one calamity upon another befell me. Gradually all my wealth disappeared. My public respect began to change into shame. Due to embarrassment before friends, gossip of the enemies and further destitution I was compelled to leave my native village. During this journey I spent a night in a hamlet. At this time, all the money I had was one-sixth of a silver coin. It was a dark, rainy night. I took my wife to a cheap hostel for the night. All of a sudden my wife began to have labour pains and a child was born. My wife said that she needed something to eat, otherwise she may starve to death. I took the slender silver coin and knocked at the door of a vegetable seller. After repeated requests he opened the door. I explained to him my circumstances and gave him the coin. He brought some curd and ghee in an earthen bowl. As I turned back and walked a few paces, I slipped and the earthen bowl dropped from my hands and broke. I was struck with grief and could not control myself. I began to slap my face and yelled loudly. The window of a nearby house opened and someone enquired as to who I was and why was I creating a din and disturbing the neighbourhood. I explained my circumstances in brief and added that I, my wife and the child were starving of hunger, and this misfortune has befallen me. The man asked, "Is your hue and cry only for a piece of silver." 'No', I said, "I had never been so miserly." Then I told him about the year when I had lost my bag of 3000 dinars and ornaments. He asked me if there were any distinguishing marks on my moneybag. I thought he was trying to fool me, so I protested. But he insisted and I told him. Then he called me in his house and sent his slave to get my wife and child. The slave returned with my wife and child, and our host put us up for the night. In the morning he gave some dinars and said that till my wife recovers, we must stay in his house. Ten days passed in this manner. Everyday he used to give us some dinars. Then one day he asked me about my profession. When I told him that I was an expert trader, he gave me some money and told me to start a business. After conducting the business for some months, I offered him his share of the profits. He went into the other room and returned with the moneybag that I had lost years ago. I was overjoyed to see it and became unconscious due to the excitement. I thanked Allah and returned to my native village. Gradually my economic conditions began to change and once more I was a rich man.
" It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, maybe that you love a thing while it is evil for you."
(Surah Baqarah 2:216).
"Allah brings about ease after difficulty."
(Surah Talaq 65:7)
Cure for Hopelessness in Difficult Times
If a person is involved in worldly problems he should turn towards two realities. Firstly, this world is a place of test and trial for everyone. There is no one who could escape its clutches. Secondly, one must look at the conditions of people who are worse off than us. In this way one can get peace and solace by comparing ones condition with that of others. Even in the greatest calamities, we should continue to rely upon the Mercy of Allah. Many a people of the past had been afflicted with tribulations with no relief in sight. But the Merciful Allah gave them success. In the book "Faraj Baad as Shiddah" the respected author, Husain bin Saeed Dabistani has recorded more than 500 incidents where people, surrounded by troubles from all sides were given relief by Allah after all hopes were shattered. Further we ourselves witness many cases where the invocations and Sadaqah of the religious personalities help the people out of difficult situations. In the same book there is an incident where a resident of Madinah says, "I was rich and had all the good things in life. Eventually I became poor and destitute. So I went to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and told him of my problems. He expressed pity upon my condition and recited the following couplets for my sake, "If you fall into difficult times do not be impatient. Because for a long time you have experienced comfort.
Then after every discomfort is comfort and consolation. And the saying of Allah is the most truthful. 'So do not despair, certainly despair is disbelief.' Allah may enrich you in a short while. After that do not forget your Lord. Certainly Allah fulfills His promise. If the intellect had the capacity to produce food the wealth of the world would be only with the intellectuals. Beware, do not lose hope when you face calamities. Behind the curtains are concealed astounding candles (of hope)."
The narrator says, "When I heard these lines my grief changed into happiness and hopelessness turned into optimism. Very soon the doors of Mercy opened upon me and my bad times changed for the good."
This book relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that to ward off calamities this Quranic verse should be recited.
"There is no God but Thou, glory be to Thee, surely I am of those who make themselves to suffer loss." (Surah Anbiya 21:87) "Allah is my Lord, and I do not associate him with anything."
We should remember that despair is the worst of the sins, because it implies that the connection between Allah and his creature has been severed. It signifies turning away from the Divine nature. Because even if an iota of belief remains in a person's heart, he could not severe relations with his Nourisher and Cherisher. It may be that sometimes a sort of hopelessness pervades his imagination but he soon recovers and repents of his sin.
Every Sin is Pardonable
According to the verse of the Holy Quran and Mutawatir (widely related) traditions all the sins which man commits are pardonable if he repents sincerely. It is wrong to say that such a sin can never be pardoned. The Almighty Allah says in the Glorious Quran,
"And He it is who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds and He knows what you do."
(Surah Shura 42:25)
Allah has mentioned His names as:
1) Tawwabun (one who accepts Tawbah)
2) Gaffarun (one who pardons)
3) Ghafoorun (one who forgives totally)
4) Ghaaferuz Zanbe (Pardoner of sins)
5) Qaabelut Tawbah (one who accepts repentance)
Allah has given a general invitation to all the people to turn towards Him and seek forgiveness for their sins. If we study the meaning of the 54th verse of Surah Zumar we find that sinners have no cause to lose hope. This Ayat is also known as Ayat-e-Rehmat (The verse of Mercy).
"Say: O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah ; Surely Allah forgives the blunders altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
(Surah Zumar 39:53).
A few points must be noted from the above verse.
Firstly, Allah says, 'O my servant' and not 'O sinners!' Even though he is addressing the sinners he addresses them as 'my servants'. So that the hopelessness of the servants may be transformed into hope in His Mercy.
Secondly, he says, "Who have acted extravagantly." This denotes a soft approach. Allah does not say 'O you who have acted blatantly,' So that the sinners may not lose hope of obtaining pardon.
Hopelessness is Haraam
The third point to be noted is that the Almighty Allah has told the sinners, "Do not despair of the Divine Mercy." The use of a negative term signifies the prohibition of hopelessness. Also it means that to lose hope regarding salvation is Haraam.
The fourth point is that Allah did not stop at this, He further adds, "Surely Allah forgives the faults altogether," signifying that the statement covers all the sins.
Fifth Point: The addition of the word 'altogether' at the end signifies that the statement includes all sins without any exception.
Sixth Point: The last point is that at the end of the verse, Allah repeats, "Surely He is the forgiving, the merciful," to stress upon the fact that Allah desires and wishes to forgive those who repent.
Repentance of the Killer of a Prophet is also Acceptable
Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari (r.a.) relates that a woman came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and asked, "If a woman kills her child can she seek pardon?" The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"By Allah in whose control is the life of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) even if this woman has killed seventy Prophets and then feels remorse and repents and Allah is convinced of her sincerity and the truth of her statement, upon the condition that she does not repeat the sin, her repentance shall be accepted. And her sins would be pardoned. Surely Allah is oft forgiving and forgives, ever so beyond measure. Verily one who repents (sincerely) is; as if he has never committed that sin."
Despair in the Acceptance of Prayers is Also Improper
If we pray to Allah for some worldly benefits or the Hereafter and our prayer is not answered it raises two noteworthy points. Firstly, we must know that Allah has promised to accept all prayers and Allah never goes back on His word.
As it is mentioned in the Holy book,
"And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me."
(Surah Baqarah 2:186)
At another place Allah says,
"And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you."
(Surah Momin 40:60)
The second point is that due to His unlimited wisdom He may delay the acceptance of some prayer. So if we do not get immediate gratification we should not lose hope of having our prayers accepted.
Prayers May Not Be Accepted Due to Sins
Sometimes the sins of a person come in the way of the acceptance of his prayers. At other times Allah may delay the acceptance due to some hidden wisdom. This would compel the person to repeat his prayers and thus he would be entitled for additional sawaab. The opportunity to invocate is itself a blessing of Allah.
Another possibility is that Allah wishes to hear the entreaties of His creature many a times before He fulfills his wishes.
Delay in the Acceptance of Prayers Causes Nearness to Allah
Sometimes there is a delay in the acceptance of prayers because, to supplicate Allah continuously is the best of worship. It is the Mercy of Allah that he may want us to continue to pray to Him. It is a means of seeking nearness to Him. For whomsoever He wishes good, He gives him the Tawfeeq of supplicating Him by delaying the acceptance of his prayers.
Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the book 'Hayatul Qulub' that Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) says in a reliable tradition, "Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) used to visit the populated cities and the desolate forests so that he could derive lessons from the creatures of Allah. One day he saw a worshipper busy in prayers. His dress was made of fur and the surroundings filled with his intonation. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was astonished at his appearance. He went towards him, sat down and waited for him to conclude his prayers. When he finished his prayers, Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "I appreciate your way and want to befriend you. Tell me where do you stay so that I could come to meet you whenever I want." He said, "You will not be able to travel on my path."
"I walk on the surface of the water."
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "The Almighty Allah who has given you the capacity to walk on water, can also enable me to do so. Come, arise, today I shall spend the night with you at your residence.
When they reached the bank of the river the man uttered "Bismillah" and stepped in the river and was soon on the other side of it. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) also recited Bismillah and crossed the river. This man was astounded. Then both of them entered his house.
Ibrahim (a.s.) asked him, "Which is the most difficult day?" He replied, "The day Allah will reward and punish all His creatures according to their deeds." Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Let us together pray that Allah may protect us from the hardships of this day."
According to another report Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Let us pray together for the sinful believers." The worshipper said, "I will not participate in this prayer because I have been praying for something for the past thirty years and till date it has not been fulfilled, so there is no scope in praying for something else."
Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "O worshipper! when Allah holds a creature dear He delays the acceptance of his prayers so that he may continue to plead and supplicate Him. On the other hand when He dislikes a person He answers his prayers immediately or creates hopelessness in his heart so that he would stop praying."
Then he asked the worshipper about his prayer which has not been accepted till then. He said, "One day I was busy in my prayers when I saw a handsome boy grazing a herd of sheep and goats. I asked him whose animals were those. He said they belonged to him. Then I asked him who he was. He said that he was the son of Khalilullah (Friend of Allah) Ibrahim (a.s.) and that his name was Ismail. At that moment I prayed to Allah to let me see my 'Khalil' Ibrahim (a.s.)." Ibrahim (a.s.) said, "Now your prayer has been answered. I am that Ibrahim (a.s.)." The worshipper became extremely overjoyed and embraced Ibrahim (a.s.). He kissed his head, eyes and hands and thanked the Almighty Allah with sincerity. After this both of them together prayed for the believing men and women.
In the tradition from Imam Reza (a.s.) where he has listed the Greater Sins, despondence is mentioned after despair (Yaas). Qunut (despondence) is described as the condition where one's heart loses hope of Allah's Mercy and that person does not even dislike the hopelessness. According to the religious scholars the difference between Yaas and Qunut is that the term 'Yaas' is used in general cases and 'Qunut' in special cases. It means that 'Yaas' describes the internal condition of one's heart. When this internal hopelessness intensifies to a degree whereby its effect becomes manifest outwardly and seemobvious to the common people, it is called 'Qunut'.
In short whoever expresses hopelessness by his speech or actions is actually a victim of 'Qunut'.
Hopelessness in Dua is Yaas
Many scholars believe that to discontinue invocation is a sign of despair. The hopeless person believes that he will not reach his destination through dua.
'Qunut' means that one accuses Allah of not being merciful and for not accepting his repentance. He thinks that whatever difficulties he suffers, are the retribution of his sins. Thus Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says in the 39th Dua of Sahifa-e-Sajjadiyah, "I neither despair of Your Mercy nor am I in despondence regarding you. But I am aggrieved because my good deeds are less in number and bad deeds numerous. Otherwise Your position is so high that not a single creature turns away dejected from you."
There is no doubt that despondence with regard to Allah is a Greater Sin. It is one of the characteristics of the polytheists and hypocrites as mentioned by Allah in Surah Fath.
"And (that) He may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, the entertainers of evil thoughts about Allah..."
(Surah Fath 48:6)
Skepticism Invites Punishment
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) announced from the pulpit
"By Allah who has no partner, He does not deprive any of the people from the blessings of this world and the hereafter. But he should not harbour doubts (about Him). He should have hope in Him and possess good morals. He should refrain from backbiting about the believers. I swear by Allah Who is the One and without partners, He does not punish a believer after he had repented and asked for forgiveness. Except those who are skeptical about Allah and lack in hope, have evil behaviour and indulge in backbiting about the believers. I swear by Allah except Whom no one is fit to be worshipped. When someone expresses reliance and trust in Allah; Allah who is extremely graceful, will not deem it fit to order anything contrary to the faith that the believer has reposed in him. Then you must have good thoughts regarding Allah and must always depend upon Him."
Hope For Forgiveness and the Acceptance of Dua
Having good thoughts about Allah means that one should have the conviction that if he repents for a sin, Allah would forgive him. If he invocates, his prayer would be answered. If he does a good action, it is certain that Allah would accept it and reward him for the same. To hope in salvation is beneficial, and it is obligatory. However to hope for rewards without performing good actions is ignorance and conceit.
Hopelessness in the Affairs of This World and the Hereafter
Some scholars of religion explain that the detecting feature of 'Qunut' and 'Yaas' is that 'Qunut' denotes hopelessness with regard to the worldly blessings.
The Holy Quran says concerning this,
"And He it is who sends down rain after they have despaired, and He unfolds His Mercy; and He is the Guardian, the Praised One."
(Surah Shura 42:28)
Concerning 'Yaas' the scholars maintain that it is with regard to the affairs of the Hereafter, as mentioned in the verse:
"...indeed they despair of the Hereafter..."
(Surah Mumtahena 60:13)
Qunut is Worse Than Yaas
To be despondent of Allah's Mercy results in the person being deprived of eternal blessings, because 'Qunut' causes the severance of the relation between the creature and Allah. The cause for this despondence is the extinguishing of the original flame of creation that had been alive in his heart. Even if a miniature of the light had remained, he would not have lost hope completely. It is possible that he may be involved in vain pursuits. If that is so then he has receded into the age of ignorance from the Mercy of Allah. But 'Yaas' denotes that the connection between the creature and Allah still remains even though separated by the curtain of sins. But behind the curtain the light of the original nature endures. He still believes in some connection with Allah. In such a case the dividing curtain could be removed.
'Yaas' can be forgiven but 'Qunut' does not deserve forgiveness. Thus 'Qunut' is included in the title of Shirk and becomes the greatest danger for man. (Quoted from Tafsir Ruhul Bayan)
source : GREATER SINS by Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)