In this ayat Soht refers to the acquirement as well as use of anything acquired unlawfully. The dictionary meaning of 'Soht' is 'to be finished' or 'to be lost'. The thing that becomes 'Soht' is that which is finished off or used up. The use of this word signifies that unlawfully acquired things do not have any 'barakat' and will not benefit the possessor in any way. It should be evident that this unlawful practice would include usurping another's property, taking interest and all activities that are undertaken using the money obtained by illegal means. The use of article brought with such money is also unlawful.
Sayyid Abu A'laa Maududi writes in his book Islam and the Economic Problems: "Islam permits the people to obtain their livelihood in any way they opt. They have their freedom to choose their occupation and obtain the necessities of life, but Islam does not allow them to earn in a manner that is harmful for society. It should also not endanger the social equilibrium. Islamic laws not only prohibit the consumption of wine and intoxicants and gambling, but also prohibit any action that causes these sinful things to come into being. For example to undertake cultivation of grapes for wine making, to manufacture wine, to transport, to buy or sell wine, to give it and to use it; all these are haraam too. Islam does not consider free-sex to be a human activity. Islam has prohibited dancing. It does not consider singing and playing musical instruments lawful professions. Any activity that is beneficial to one person but harmful to someone else or to society is considered haraam in Islam. All such types of actions carry a heavy punishment in this world and a dreadful retribution in the hereafter e.g. bribes, stealing, interest-taking, adulteration and frauds, unlawful hoarding of edible items to hike their rates making life difficult for the poor. In the same way all such actions that instigate wars and those occupations that do not require effort, making the person rich by luck, such as lottery. All these occupations are haraam."
Shaykh Sadooq (r.a.) has narrated a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"Any action of Khayanat with the Imam is 'Soht'."
There are many types of 'Soht'. 'Soht' includes that which is received from the tyrant rulers, bribe to Qazis, payment for prostitution, wine, alcoholic nabid (a kind of wine), and interest.
"To bribe a Qazi (for giving a favourable judgement) is to disbelieve in Allah the Almighty."
(Khisaal of Sadooq)
A similar kind of tradition is to be found in the book Al Kafi, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"'Soht' means the payment for corpse, for dogs and wine. It also denotes the fee paid to a prostitute, the bribe given to a judge and the payment to a Kahin."
Although consumption of every type of haraam is 'Soht', some of them are denounced more emphatically and their punishment is more severe. The worst of these is taking bribe. One who accepts bribe is just like a disbeliever and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has cursed him. The one who takes interest is equated to the one who has made war against Allah (a.j.) and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
Types of bribe
There are three types of bribes:
(1) Bribe paid to a judge for a favourable judgement.
(2) Bribe for 'haraam' work.
(3) Bribe for permitted things.
The first kind of bribe comprises of money etc. paid to a judge so that he may give a favourable judgement. The judge may also be bribed for pointing out the loopholes whereby one could weaken the position of the opposite party. It is absolutely haraam even if the one who is paying the bribe is right and the judge delivers the correct judgement. The paying and receiving of this type of bribe or whatever may comprise this bribe is also haraam and a Greater sin. A person who pays or accepts such a bribe deserves the curse of Allah.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"May Allah curse one who gives a bribe, one who accepts it and one who acts as an agent between them."
Elsewhere, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Beware of bribe! It is nothing but disbelief. The one who is involved in bribe will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise."
Bribe is not only a sin for the guilty but it constitutes assisting in sin, the one who accepts. However if one is compelled to bribe and without it he cannot obtain his rights, it is another matter, but it is still haraam for one who accepts it. Similarly it is also haraam to reach someone by bribing. The one who acts as an arbitrator or agent and takes an active part in negotiating bribe is also a sinner.
This type of bribe is absolutely haraam whether paid in cash or kind. Bribe may also comprise of offering some services to the judge like stitching his clothes free of cost or constructing his house etc. Bribe can even be paid in words. One may praise a judge unduly to please him and thus influence him to give a favourable ruling.
Bribe in the name of khums and gift
Even if a bribe is paid in the name of khums and gift, it is haraam. For example to give someone a gift or a present with the intention of bribing him i.e. with the intention that by giving a gift the beneficiary will act to benefit the giver in some way. Similarly khums and zakat given with the intention of bribing is also haraam. It will not be considered as Khums or Zakat and it will be obligatory for one who has paid Khums or Zakat with such intentions, to pay it once more. Khums and Zakat are to be given with the purest of intentions, that of achieving nearness to Allah (a.j.). There can be no other motive. One of the signs of Qiyamat is mentioned in traditions in the following words:
"Bribes will be accepted as gifts."
The second kind of bribe is the bribe paid to someone, a tyrant or an oppressor for inflicting harm on a third person. The Holy Quran says:
"And do not swallow up your property among yourselves by false means, neither seek to gain access thereby to the judges, so that you may swallow up a part of the property of men wrongfully while you know."
(Surah Baqarah 2:188)
In this ayat believers are warned not to use anything obtained illegally and not to use their wealth to bribe those in power in order to obtain anything unlawfully.
Paying a bribe for obtaining ones rights
The third type of bribe is one that is paid for something lawful. Like paying someone in order that he may help in obtaining ones rightful property or to escape from a tyrant. Bribing for lawful things is allowed.
In a tradition Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) was asked about the person who bribes the occupant of a house to vacate it so that the owner may himself use it as his residence. Imam (a.s.) said that there was no harm in it. However the house mentioned in this hadith does not belong to the person who pays the bribe. It is a trust property or a public place like, the mosque, madrasa, lane, by-lane, and bazaar etc. Thus if someone is occupying a place in the mosque or a student is living in a room in the public hostel, he can be bribed to vacate it.
Hafsul Amr enquired from Imam Ali an-Naqi (a.s.): "The ruler has appointed agents to purchase our agricultural produce. Is it allowed for us to bribe those agents so that we may remain safe from the ruler's tyranny?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"There is no harm in it. You may pay whatever you think fit."
Then Imam (a.s.) asked:
"Do you have to supply lesser quantity of grain to the ruler after you have paid the bribe to these agents?" "Yes," said the questioner.
"You have invalidated your bribe (i.e. you have made the bribe haraam)," Imam told him.
Thus it is clear that bribing to cause someone to be oppressed is haraam but it is permitted in order to save oneself from oppression.
Accepting a bribe for doing something lawful
It must however be made clear that though it is permitted to gift something for lawful acts or to save oneself from oppression, it is detestable to accept such gifts. Because these gifts bear a close resemblance to bribe. Also, the habit of bribing for lawful things may make a man habitual and he may be inclined to pay bribes for unlawful purposes too. One is prone to error. If a pious person refrains for Makrooh (detestable) bribe he will never be prone to the haraam bribe. The following tradition supports this fact.
"Those are they for whom Allah does not desire that He should purify their hearts; they shall have disgrace in this world, and they shall have a grievous chastisement in the hereafter. (They are) listeners of a lie, devourers of what is forbidden."
(Surah Maidah 5:41-42)
Explaining this ayat, Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"It is that person who fulfills the wish of his believing brother and accepts a gift in return."
Shaykh Ansari says in the book, Makasibul Aamaal: "There are many explanations of this tradition. One of it is that we must absolutely refrain from accepting gifts in return for favours done that we may never fall into the trap of accepting bribe."
Characteristics of those who eat haraam
A typical feature of earnings by haraam means the money and wealth so acquired. It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
"The madness of (acquiring or constructing) buildings. Mud and water occupies the head of one who earns by unlawful means."
It means that a person with unlawful earnings is constantly worried about his wealth and strives to convert it into fixed property so that it is not lost. The buildings of mud and water neither benefit the owner in the Hereafter nor do they provide peace in this world. Such a person spends every bit of his wealth for pieces of land. Finally, Allah orders the land to swallow all his wealth.
Unlawful gains are harmful both from the worldly point of view as there is no barakat in such gain and also from the spiritual point of view as these form obstacles in the acceptance of acts of worship.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"When a single morsel of haraam enters the stomach of a person and becomes a part of his body, the angels of the sky and the earth curse him."
The Messenger of Allah has also said:
"Acts of worship accompanied by the acquiring of haraam are like buildings that rest on (crumbling) sand."
They lack a firm foundation and hence are of no use. Such buildings can never remain intact and are soon destroyed.
Invocations are not accepted
The noble Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has remarked,
"Prayers of the one who eats a single morsel of haraam are not accepted for forty nights nor are his invocations accepted for forty days. Every piece of flesh that grows by consuming haraam is most deserving of being burnt in hell-fire and even a single morsel consumed causes some growth of flesh."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated,
"One who wishes to have his invocations accepted must keep aloof from haraam food and unlawful earnings."
A man asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"I wish for the acceptance of my deeds." The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him,
"Keep your food purified from haraam and do not let any unlawful thing enter your stomach."
The Almighty Allah revealed to Janabe Isa Ibne Maryam (a.s.):
"Inform the oppressors of Bani Israel that they must not call Me and invoke Me as long as they are involved in unlawful earnings. And if they call Me and invoke Me in this condition, I will curse them."
Hardening of the heart
Whatever man eats is like a seed sown in the earth. If the seed is good it will bear sweet fruits. If the seed is bitter and poisonous, so is the fruit that grows from it. If the food is good and lawful it has beneficial effects on the heart. It is purified from every blemish and impurity. The organs of this person perform good deeds, but if one consumes food obtained through unlawful means it causes the heart to harden. The symptoms are soon obvious. A hard hearted person is unaffected by any kind of preaching and remains absolutely impenitent. Such a man is not moved even when he sees clear injustice. No good can be expected from him. Not a trace of goodness is visible in his dark heart. He refuses to accept what is right and is immune to every kind of moral advice. The tragedy of Karbala is the perfect example of this phenomenon. These are the characteristics clearly pointed out by Imam Husain (a.s.) in his address to the troops of Ibne Saad:
"You bellies are filled with unlawful (wealth). Now you will not accept the truth. Why don't you deal with justice? Why don't you listen to me?"
In other words, when a person's heart becomes hard and darkness occupies it.
During the rule of the Abbasid King Mahdi, there was a Qazi named Shareek bin Abdullah. He was an honest and upright Judge, till the time he was summoned by the king. The Abbaside King forced him to opt one from three things
(1) Either he should accept the post of the Royal Qazi
(2) He should become the teacher of the King's son
(3) or he should dine with the king, at least once.
The Qazi thought that easiest of the three was to eat with the king once, so he agreed to dine with King Mahdi. The ruler ordered the royal chef to prepare the best of the dishes. When the Qazi had eaten the food, the cook remarked to his companions, "Now, Qazi Shareek will never achieve salvation."
The prediction came to be true. The haraam food affected the Qazi to the extent that he also accepted the other two conditions. He became the special Qazi of the King and the tutor of his children. It is said that Qazi Shareek used to be very strict and unflinching with the treasurers while obtaining his share from the royal treasury.
One day the treasurer protested, "You have not sold me grain that you act so ruthless in recovering its price." Qazi Shareek replied, "Yes, I have sold something more valuable! I have sold my religion."
One day a tray filled with delicious dishes was sent by Haroon al-Rasheed for Bahlool. Bahlool did not accept it. The servants of the king said, "It is not possible to reject the present of the Caliph." Bahlool, the wise, pointed towards the stray dogs and said, "Give it to the dogs."
The servants became angry and said, "You have insulted the royal gifts." Bahlool became silent then said, "Be quiet, if the dogs learn that this food is sent by the king, they will not touch it."
A morsel of halaal food
Eating haraam gives rise to every type of infamy. Whereas, the halaal morsel is the cause of every kind of goodness and charity. Numerous traditions praise the acquisition of livelihood through lawful means. For example the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"Worship consists of seventy parts and the best part is earnings by lawful means."
The Messenger of Allah has also said,
"When a man eats halaal food an angel stands over his head and prays for his forgiveness till he finishes eating."
The Prophet has remarked in a similar vein,
"One who strives to earn his livelihood in a lawful manner from morning till night, achieves salvation."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) states that Allah has said:
"I will not care on the Day of Qiyamat from which door he enters Hell, the person who does not care from which door he earns money in this world."
The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also mentioned the following tradition:
"One who does nor care from which way he earns wealth in this world will be sent to Hell in Qiyamat and I shall not care from which way he is made to enter it."
Allah does not provide unlawful livelihood
Maybe, those who do not refrain from unlawful earnings are afraid that if they give up this chance they may suffer poverty and deprivation. This is just a false notion. It is merely a satanic thought because it goes against the Divine promise of lawful sustenance repeatedly mentioned in the Quran. It is unreasonable, as it is contrary to the numerous traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The Almighty Allah has promised to provide sustenance to each and every creature. The Divine promise is never unfulfilled. Allah only tests the believers to see if they strive patiently to acquire lawful livelihood or act impatiently and deviate. Whatever sustenance is decreed is surely received. It is only the impatience of the people and the weakness of their faith that makes them leave the path of lawful earnings and stray towards illegal occupations. When a person does this he fails the test. Allah deprives this person of the lawful sustenance that was in his destiny. Allah has not decreed for anyone unlawful sustenance.
No one dies without receiving his decreed sustenance
On the occasion of the last Hajj, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) addressed the Muslims in the precincts of the Masjidul Haraam:
"Know that, the trustworthy Spirit (Jibraeel) has informed that no creature dies till he has received his destined sustenance.
Then fear Allah and do not vie among yourself in earning your livelihood. If there is some delay in receiving your sustenance, it must not be that you pursue it in disobedience to Allah. Verily, Allah has distributed only halaal sustenance to every creature. He has not destined haraam sustenance to anyone.
Hence one who fears Allah and acts with patience, Allah shall bestow upon him His sustenance through lawful means. But one who abandons purity and takes up haraam methods, a similar amount shall be decreased from his lawful sustenance. He shall be made to account for his haraam earnings on the Day of Qiyamat. Allah the Almighty has prohibited it in the following words: "...and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones)..."
(Surah Nisa 4:2)
It should not be that in a hurry to obtain livelihood you obtain it through illegal ways, before Allah provides you with the halaal sustenance that He had decreed for you."
Deprived of halaal food
One day, Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) reached the mosque and alighted from his mule. He entrusted his animal to a person and entered the mosque. The man pulled out the saddle and ran away leaving the mule unattended.
When Ali (a.s.) returned, he was holding two dirhams. He intended to give them to the man who had looked after the mule. He found the mule without the saddle. After reaching home he gave the same two dirhams to his slave for the purchase of another saddle. The slave went to the bazaar found the same rein. It came to be known that the thief had sold the stolen rein for two dirhams. It was the same amount that he could have earned in a lawful way. When the slave related the whole incident to Ali (a.s.), he said,
"By abandoning patience man converts his halaal sustenance into haraam. Though he does not receive more than what is in his destiny."
Non-fulfillment of another's right, without a valid excuse is the twenty-sixth greater sin. If a person who has some right upon someone and demands his right but the one on whom the obligation rests does not fulfill the right, even though he is capable of it, then this person has committed a greater sin. Non-fulfillment of rights as a greater sin is according to Nass (Holy Quran and hadith). The frequently quoted tradition of Amash from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and the hadith of Imam Reza (a.s.) as narrated by Fazl ibn Shazaan also include it in he list of greater sins.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who does not fulfill the rights of a believer (and does not repay what he owes to him), on the Day of Judgement, Allah will make him stand for five hundred years and blood or sweat will ooze through his body. An announcer from Allah will announce, 'This is the oppressor who had not fulfilled the right of Allah.' Then after being admonished for another forty days it will be ordered for him to be thrown into the fire (those who admonish him will be either believers or prophets).
An explanation of this hadith by Allamah Majlisi states that if the sinner's oppression is not of a very serious nature, sweat will flow from his body and if his oppression is of a serious nature, blood will seep out of him.
(Miratul Oqool page 361)
Allamah Majlisi further says, "This tradition proves that the right of a believer is the right of Allah. Allah has ordered to restore a believer's right. Disobeying this command is just like usurping the right of Allah. The tradition further states:
"On the Day of Qiyamat a caller will announce, 'Where are those who oppressed and tortured the friends of Allah?' Some people will stand up. They will not be having any flesh on their faces. It will be said, 'These are the ones who tortured the believers, bore enmity towards them, dealt harshly with them due to their belief.'"
It will be ordered that they may be thrown into Hell. Further, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) swears by Allah the Almighty and says that these people had the same belief as the believers, but they did not respect their rights and also exposed the secrets of the believers.
And Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has remarked:
"A believer who has something and another believer is in need of it; if the former does not fulfill the need of the needy momin he will not ever taste the food of Paradise nor drink the Raheeq-al-Makhtoom (A drink of Paradise)."
Demand for fulfillment of rights on the Day of Qiyamat
Hazrat Sajjad (a.s.) says:
"On the Day of Qiyamat a person will be caught by his hand and the people of Mahshar (Gathering) will be told that anyone who has any claim upon him may secure his right."
(Layali Al Akhbaar)
On the Day of Qiyamat, this would be the most difficult ordeal to face. Every person will avoid meeting his relatives and friends and will be in constant dread of the demands they may make of him. Perhaps this is the predicament alluded to in the following Quranic ayat:
"The day on which a man shall fly from his brother, And his mother and his father, And his spouse and his son..."
(Surah Abasa 80:34-36)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked his followers,
"Do you know who is the actual destitute?"
"One who has no money, property or treasure," they replied. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"There is no destitute in my Ummat except the one who has performed the prayers, kept fasts, paid the Zakat, performed Hajj but on the Day of Judgement a person will come whose property he has usurped, and a person whose blood he had shed and another one whom he had beaten. Then the good deeds of this man will be transferred to those who have rights upon him. If his good deeds are exhausted before all the rights are fulfilled then the sins of those who have rights upon him will be added to his sins. Then he shall be thrown into Hell."
Non-payments of debts and transgressing of rights
Anything owed by a person is a debt incurred by him which should be repaid. The full amount of the money loaned has to be paid as per the agreed payment schedule. The same applies to an item that is sold but not delivered. The seller is obliged to deliver the goods to the client on time. Similarly the one who has taken something on hire is responsible for it. A husband is indebted to his wife till he pays the dower amount. The husband is also responsible for the maintenance of his permanent wife. The laws of guarantee are numerous and available in the books of jurisprudence. We shall only discuss the topics that are relevant for our purpose.
Loan for a fixed period and loan without time limit
Loans are of two types. One that is not bound by a time limit or when the date of payment has already expired. The other type of loan has a fixed time for repayment. The creditor cannot demand the loaned property before the due date. If the loanee dies all debts owed by him become due immediately. For example if a person has borrowed something for a year, but dies before the end of the year, his heirs must pay his loan immediately. It is no excuse that the time of payment has not come. But if the creditor dies his heirs do not have the right of demanding the loan before time.
It is Compulsory to repay a Debt
If the time of payment is due or if the creditor demands back his loan the debtor is obliged to repay immediately. The loan must be repaid even if the debtor has to sell his excess belongings or even if he has to sell his things at less than the market value. However if he is compelled to sell at a throwaway price then it is not obligatory for the debtor to sell those things. If the debtor does not have anything like a carpet, clothes, household items, shop etc. that he can sell and repay the loan, then he must take up a job that is suitable for his position. In any case he is under an obligation to clear his due.
Carelessness and sloth with regard to the repayment of loan are absolutely haraam; and a greater sin. If the debtor possesses only those things that are necessary for his life; like a modest house, carpets and clothes etc, then it is not necessary for him to sell them to repay his loan. The creditor cannot compel the debtor to sell off these things. However, if the debtor wishes to sell them of his own accord, he can do so, and the creditor is allowed to accept the loan. But it is desirable that the creditor respites the debtor till the time Allah makes him capable of repaying his debts.
It is related by Uthman bin Ziyad: "I informed Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) that a person owed money to me and wished to dispose off his residence to repay me. Upon hearing this Imam (a.s.) said thrice:
"I seek Allah's refuge for you." (That you cause this poor man to sacrifice his dwelling place to pay).
Many similar traditions have been recorded in books of hadith. It is narrated that a famous companion of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.), by the name of Muhammad bin Abi Umair traded in cloth. It so happened that mounting losses pushed him to the brink of poverty. One of his debtors owed him 10,000 dirhams. When he learnt of the companion'smisfortune, he sold his house and brought the money to repay the amount that he owed. Muhammad bin Umair inquired if he had received the amount of 10,000 dirhams as inheritance. When he replied in the negative, he asked if he had received it as a gift from someone. Again he replied, "No, but I have sold the house where I lived, so that I can repay my debt to you."
Muhammad bin Umair related a saying of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), prohibiting a creditor to force his debtor to sell his house and said, "By Allah, at present I am in need of each and every dirham but I cannot take a single dirham from this."
Actually Muhammad bin Abi Umair was a rich man having assets worth over 500,000 dirhams. His present state of poverty was because of his closeness to Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). Due to this he was imprisoned for four years and lashed mercilessly. The tyrant Caliph confiscated whatever he had. May Allah have mercy upon such oppressed people. It is an established fact that if someone deprives a person of his rights then each day that passes makes him liable to a sin which is equal to collecting Ethesher (a 10% tax collected on orders of tyrant ruler).
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"The martyr in Allah's way is absolved of every sin except for the unpaid debt; which has no substitute. Repaying the debt is a must; or the creditor may forgo it. (otherwise even the martyr will be interrogated regarding his debts)."
(Wasaelush Shia Chap 4, vol.13, page 83)
Moreover, he (a.s.) has remarked:
"As soon as the first drop of a martyr's blood is spilled all his sins are forgiven. Except for the unpaid debt, which is not excused. Its forgiveness can be achieved only by repaying (the debt)."
(Wasaelush Shia chap.4, Vol.13, page 85)
The gravity of all this can be ascertained from the incident when a person from the Ansars departed from this world. He had left behind an unpaid debt of two dinars. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) refused to pray the namaz-e-Janaza till some of the relatives undertook the responsibility to repay the deceased's debt.
When Muawiya bin Wahab questioned Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding this tradition, he (a.s.) replied:
"This is an authentic tradition and the Prophet's saying conveys the same meaning that people should derive lesson from it and understand the seriousness of debt. They should not regard it insignificant and must make it a point to repay their debts."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) were all having some debts when they departed from this world but they appointed their legatees who repaid their debts after their passing away. This hadith signifies that it is not prohibited to be in debt but to ignore or to delay the repayment of debt is haraam. It is not even advisable to travel (for pilgrimage) to Mecca and Madinah without first clearing one's debts.
Abu Samaniya asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) regarding this, "I wish to go and settle down in Mecca or Madinah but I am in debt to some of the people here." Imam (a.s.) replied:
"Go home! First repay your debts. It must not be that you die in this condition and meet your Lord while you are in debt. For a believer never does Khayanat (misappropriation of trust)."
(Al Kafi vol.5 page 94)
Not repaying debts is Khayanat to all
The above hadith makes it amply clear that not fulfilling someone's right or delaying the repayment of debt is equal to Khayanat. Consequently, all the traditions that are recorded in the chapter on Khayanat are equally applicable here and the Prophetic traditions have described Khayanat as a kind of oppression.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has announced:
"A Muslim who inspite of being capable delays the repayment of debt has committed oppression upon all the Muslims."
(Wasaelush Shia Vol.13 page 97)
Not repaying a debt is a kind of oppression upon the creditor. In fact such an act is an oppression upon the Muslims in general. This is so because, upon seeing, that this person inspite of being capable is not repaying the debt, others who are capable of lending money will be disinclined to do so, for fear of meeting with a similar fate. Lending is a meritorious act and anyone who is responsible for discouraging it, has indeed oppressed all Muslims.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said:
"May Allah curse the one who closed the door of good actions. And it is the one who is not thankful to the one who has done some good towards him. Consequently the doer of good refrains from doing the same favour towards someone else in the future."
(Behaarul Anwaar, Wasaelush Shia)
Certainly, lending is an act of goodness. Not repaying or causing undue delay in the repayment is disregarding this favour. Also it can result in the creditor avoiding lending his money to anyone else in future.
Method of lending and borrowing
Authentic traditions have greatly emphasised the rewards that are promised for the one who lends. On the other hand, those who avoid this good deed have severe punishment in store. Sometimes it is obligatory to lend and not prohibited to lend. And sometimes it is Mustahab (recommended) to lend and Makrooh (detestable) not to lend.
Generally it is detestable to borrow but if the need to do so is genuine the detestibility is scaled down. The magnitude of detestibility is directly proportional to the actual gravity of the situation. In fact under some circumstances it is obligatory to borrow. For example it becomes obligatory to borrow to save one's life or honour. If a person knows that he will not be able to repay the loan, then precaution demands that he should refrain from borrowing unless he is in dire need.
Rewards for lending-punishment for not lending
The blessed Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said:
"One who lends to his believing brother and gives him respite till he is capable of repaying it, the amount that he has lent is considered as Zakat and the Angels pray for him and seek Divine mercy for him till this (amount) is returned."
(Wasaelush Shia Chap.6 Vol.13 page 86)
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also remarked:
"If one lends to his Muslim brother, it is for his own (good). Every Dirham that he lends will qualify him for a reward equivalent to Mount Ohud (which is in Mecca) and Mount Sinai. And if he is lenient in collecting his debt he shall cross the bridge of Siratlike a stroke of lightning. And if a Muslim brother relates his woes before a person and this person does not lend him any money, the Heaven shall be denied to him on the Day of recompensing good doers."
It is obligatory to have the intention of repaying ones debt
The person who is not in a position to repay his debt must necessarily have the intention to repay it as soon as he is capable of doing so. This intention should have the first priority with him. In fact the intention to repay should be there right at the outset. A person who takes a loan without having the intention to repay it is considered a thief. The following are the traditions of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the intention of a person who takes a loan:
"One who takes a loan but does not care to repay it, is a thief."
(Wasaelush Shia chapter of Tejaarat)
He (a.s.) has also said:
"There are three kinds of thieves, one who does not pay Zakat, secondly one who does not consider the amount of Meher (dower) payable to the wife as an obligatory debt and one who takes a loan but does not intend to repay it."
The respected Imam (a.s.) further said,
"If the debtor intends to repay the loan, the Almighty Allah appoints two angels to help him till the loan is repaid. But if he becomes careless of this intention he becomes deprived of Allah's blessings."
The Incapable Debtor Must be given Respite
Although it is allowed for a debtor to sell off his unnecessary belongings to repay his debts, the creditor is under divine obligation not to cause undue trouble. The creditor should give respite so that the loanee can easily repay the dues. Under these conditions if he condones his loan altogether, it will be considered a Sadaqah which will remain with Allah as his trust and he will continue to benefit from it forever.
The Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
"And if (the debtor) is in straitness, then let there be postponement until (he is in) ease, and that you remit (it) as alms is better for you, if you knew."
(Surah Baqarah 2:280)
Two important points can be derived from the Quranic verse quoted above. One, it is obligatory to give respite to a debtor who is incapable of repaying the loan. Secondly, it is more meritorious for the creditor to condone the loan completely.
Numerous traditions have mentioned these two points.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said:
"Your debtor is not permitted to delay in repaying the loan if he is capable to pay it. In the same way you are not permitted to pressurise him unduly when you know that he is not in a position to repay you immediately."
The honourable Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has been recorded to have said:
"Do not harass your Muslim brother with a demand to the repayment of debt when you know that he is not able to repay it. Because our exalted grandfather the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has said that it is not permitted for a Muslim to harass his Muslim brother. And if a creditor gives respite to a loanee he shall become qualified to receive the shade (and protection) of the Almighty on the day when there will be no other shade."
It means that on the Day of Judgement such a person will receive special favours from the Almighty. The Masoom (a.s.) has also remarked:
"If one wishes that he be given refuge under Divine shade on the day when there will be no other shade, he should grant respite to his debtor and must not demand it (immediately), or should condone his loan completely."
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said:
"There would be some people under the shade of the Arsh on the Day of Qiyamat such that their faces will be bright, their dresses and their chairs shall be glittering. Then an announcer will call: These are the people who did good towards the believers and gave respite to the incapable debtor till the time he could repay the debt."
Each Day of Respite Brings Rewards of Sadaqah
The trustworthy scholar of the Shias, Shaykh Kulayni (r.a.) has recorded that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said:
"One day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) mounted the pulpit and after glorifying Allah and praising the prophets (a.s.) said: 'Those who are present are under the obligation to convey (what I say now) to those who are not present (in the assembly).'
Then He (s.a.w.s.) said:
'If one gives respite to his helpless debtor then till the time he receives his loan it is upon Allah to record the reward of Sadaqah in his scroll of deeds.'"
For each day of respite that a person gives his debtor he receives divine reward equivalent to the spending of the loan amount as Sadaqah. Several traditions on this subject could be quoted but the ones mentioned should suffice. It must be remembered that avoiding or delaying the payment of Khums and Zakat is also considered a failure to restore rights. Not paying Zakat is also a Greater sin according to the rulings of the Quran and hadith. We shall deal with it in a separate chapter.
Allah will Forgive
If a person dies before he has repaid his debt and the creditor has not been compensated for it from the belongings left by him; the creditor has not forgiven him his debt and provided the debtor has not been negligient about repaying, nor was the loan taken for an illegal purpose and also the person had every intention of repaying but was unable to do so. Under these circumstances according to traditions Allah (a.j.) by His Grace will compensate the creditor on the Day of Judgement.
Muhammad Bin Bashir came to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and told him that he owed a thousand Dinars to Shahab. He requested the Imam to persuade Shahab to respite him till the days of Hajj. So Imam (a.s.) summoned Shahab and said:
"You know that Muhammad Bin Bashir is among our followers. He owes you a thousand Dinars. This amount was not spent by him on himself. Rather it remained as a debt upon some people and he had to bear the loss. I wish that you will forgo your thousand Dinars."
Then he (a.s.) said,
"Maybe you are under the impression that his good deeds will be given to you in return of your loan?"
Shahab said, "Yes, I am under this impression." Imam (a.s.) told him,
"The Almighty Allah is Merciful and Just. If someone, in order to achieve Allah's nearness, worships Him on frigid winter nights and fasts on hot summer days, circles the Holy Ka'ba. Then do you think after all this Allah will take away his good deeds and give them to you? It is not so, His mercy is much more. By His munificence He recompenses the good deeds of a believer."
After listening to these words Shahab said that he has condoned his loan forever.
The Debtor Whose Good Deeds are Given to the Creditor
If the debtor is guilty of being lazy in repaying, or if he had taken the loan for an illegal purpose, or if he has delayed the repayment inspite of being capable of doing so, and if after his death his debt has not been paid nor has the creditor condoned him. Then on the Day of Qiyamat his good deeds equivalent to the loan amount shall be given to the creditor and if his good deeds are exhausted or insufficient to cover the amount, sins from the scroll of deeds of the creditor will be transferred to the scroll of the guilty debtor.
Some narrations have described this phenomena in clear words.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has been recorded to have said:
"The most difficult time on the Day of Qiyamat will be when those eligible to receive Khums and Zakat will rise up and besiege the one who has not paid it. They will complain to Allah that this person has not paid the amount due to them from Khums and Zakat. Then Allah will transfer the good deeds of that person and give them to those who were eligible (for Zakat and Khums)."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has also said that on the Day of Qiyamat the creditor will complain against his debtor. Then if the debtor would have good deeds to his credit, they will be taken away for the creditor and if there are no good deeds for this purpose, the sins of the creditor will be added in the scroll of deeds of the debtor.
It is amply evident from the various traditions that if a person dies before fulfilling the rights of others upon him he will not achieve salvation till the rights are restored to the owner or the owner condones him. Or till his good deeds are given to the one who had the right upon him or if there are no good deeds for this purpose the sins of the latter are transferred to the scroll of deeds of the former. Or lastly, until the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) intercede on his behalf.
Amount of Compensation
Exactly how many of the good deeds will be required to compensate for an unpaid debt is a matter known by Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Neither we have any knowledge of it nor is it necessary for us to know. However, some traditions do mention some equivalents. For example in a tradition the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said that in lieu of each dirham 600 prayers of the debtor will be paid to the creditor.
And if 1/6 Dirham is of silver, then seven hundred accepted prayers of the debtor will be transferred to the rightful owner. (Each silver dirham is equal to the weight of 18 grains of gram). Thus, one who departs from this world while yet in debt will be under very difficult circumstances. Everyone must be very particular to repay one's debt as soon as possible. If a person is unable to repay his debts he must establish contact with Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and seek their intercession to obtain the forgiveness of the creditor.
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) says,
"Nothing is more serious after the Greater sins than the fact that a person dies while he is in debt to people and there is nothing to (sell to) repay his debt."
Moreover, the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) told his companions after prayers one day:
"Such and such person who was martyred is still waiting outside Paradise. He cannot enter it because he still owes three dirhams to a Jew."
Haste in Repaying Debt is Mustahab (Recommended)
It has been made amply clear that not repaying debt, or returning the rights is haraam and a Greater sin. Depending upon the demand of the creditor and the ability of the debtor it becomes obligatory to repay the debt as soon as possible. Too much divine reward is promised for this.
Allamah Noori has quoted in his book Daarus Salaam an incident from the book Nurul Uyoon. He writes that Sayed Hashmi, the pious and prominent scholar said that he had taken a hundred dinars as loan from a Jew and promised to return them within a period of twenty days. "I returned half the amount to him and then did not see him for some days. People told me that he had gone to Baghdad. One night I dreamt that it was the Day of Qiyamat. I was summoned with the other people to account for my deeds. And Allah, in His Infinite Mercy allowed me to enter Paradise. So I decided to cross the bridge of Siratas soon as possible. However, the scream of Hell made me fearful. While I was crossing the bridge, all of a sudden my Jew creditor leapt up from below the Hell, engulfed in flames of fire and blocked my way and said, 'Give me 50 Dinar and I'll let you go.' I pleaded to him that I had always been on the look out for him to repay the amount but was unable to find him. He said, 'You are right, but till you repay me you will not be able to traverse this bridge of Sirat.' I said, 'I don't have anything to give.' So in return for his debt he asked me to allow him to put a finger on my body. I gave him the permission and he put his finger on my chest. Just as his finger touched my chest I screamed due to the burning pain and awoke from the dream. The place where the Jew had touched my chest was burnt too." After this he opened his chest to the audience and they saw that there was a terrible wound on it. He said that he was still having it treated, but it did not seem to be cured. When the audience heard all this, they began to wail loudly.
It is also narrated in the 17th volume of Behaarul Anwaar that the First Martyr (Shaheed-e-Awwal) quoted Ahmad bin Abil Jawzi that he said: "It was my wish to see Abu Sulaiman Durrani, who was considered to be a pious and a God-fearing person. Thus, I saw him in a dream after a year of his death. I asked as to how Allah had dealt with him?" He said, "O Ahmed! When I was passing through Baabe Sagheer one day, I saw a camel laden with hay and grass, I plucked a twig from this and do not remember whether I picked teeth with it or threw it away just like that. But a year has passed and I am still occupied in accounting for that twig."
The below Quranic verse also supports this fact:
"O my son! Surely if it is the very weight of the grain of a mustard seed, even though it is in (the heart of) rock, or (high above) in the heaven or (deep down) in the earth, Allah will bring it (to light)..."
(Surah Luqman 31:16)
Thus one who has done an iota of good will see it and one who does an iota of evil will see it on the Day of Qiyamat. In the letter to Muhammad bin Abi Bakr, Ali (a.s.) says, "O creatures of Allah! Know that Allah the Gracious shall question you about your every small and big deed." The following verse is a sufficient proof for this:
"Then one who does an iota of good shall see it and one who does an iota of evil shall see."
(Surah Zilzaal 99:7-8)
It is mentioned in Behaarul Anwaar that Sayyed Hasan bin Sayyed Ali Isfahani said: "At the time of my father's demise I was studying in Najaf-e-Ashraf. The responsibilities of my father fell upon some of my brothers. I was unaware of this fact. Seven months after the death of my father, my mother also passed away at Isfahan. Her last remains were brought to Najaf-e-Ashraf. On one of those nights I saw my father in dream. I asked him that he had died in Isfahan so how did he reach Najaf? He said, "Yes! Though I died in Isfahan, I was given a place in Najaf." I asked if mother was also with him? "She is in Najaf, but in a different house," he replied. So, I surmised that she was not given a position equal to my father. Then I asked him as to how he was. He said that though previously he was in severe pain now by the grace of Almighty he is comfortable. I was surprised that how a pious and religious person like him could suffer pain. He said that it was due to the fact that he was in debt to Haaj Raza the son of Babajoo alias Naalband. "Though he had demanded the payment I was unable to repay it. I was suffering torture for this default." I awoke with a start. I wrote to my brother, the legatee of my father and told him about my dream so that he will make enquiries if my father owed some money to such a person. My brother wrote back that he had gone through all the books of account but could not locate a creditor by that name. Again I wrote to my brother to find this person and ask him directly if he was having a debt upon my deceased father. My brother replied after sometime and said that he had found that person and questioned him about my father's debt. He was told that my father did owe him 18 tomaans but except Allah no one knew about it. He said that after the death of father he had approached my brother and asked him if his name appeared in the list of my father's creditors. When my brother told him that it was not so, he was perturbed as to how my father failed to note down his name among the creditors. Since he did not have any proof he did not see any way to acquire his money. Upon hearing this my brother offered him the amount of outstanding debt. But he refused to accept it. He said that he had already condoned the amount to my late father.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said:
"Oppression is of three types. One that Allah will not forgive, second which is He will forgive and lastly one which he will 'take away'.
1. The oppression Allah will never forgive is Shirk.
2. The oppression that Allah forgives is one that a person does upon himself and it is a sin between that person and Allah.
3. The oppression that Allah 'takes away' is that one that a person does by not repaying his debts.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has remarked,
"One who is able to satisfy (please) his creditors will certainly enter Paradise without any delay in accounting. He will be in the Garden, in the company of Ismail (a.s.) the son of Ibrahim (a.s.)."
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
The debt which is returned by the debtor is more superior to the worship of a thousand years and the emancipation of a thousand slaves and performing Hajj and Umrah a thousand times."
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"If someone restores a single dirham to its rightful owner, the Almighty Allah will save him from the fire of Hell and for each Daniq (1/6 of a DIrham) he will get rewards of a prophet and for each Dirham he will get a palace of Red Pearls (in Paradise)."
He (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"Returning a right to its owner is better than fasting during the day and the prayers of the night. If a person returns a debt an angel cries out from below the Arsh: O servant (of Allah) from the time you began this good deed, Allah has forgiven all your past sins.
Fulfillment of the Rights of People
When a person has something in his possession it can be one of two cases. The first case is the person knows that whatever he has is not fully his own, but a part of it belongs to someone else. The second case is that a person owes another person, but this person has no share in the actual goods or property in possession of the former. For example the thing he had borrowed is already used up but he is in debt to the one who had lent it. In the same way there are various types of sureties and compulsory maintenance that a person is responsible, for these should be disbursed with great care.
The first case includes the following four categories.
a) To know the quantity and the owner.
When it is known that a particular quantity of a thing rightfully belongs to such and such person, it is obligatory to return that same amount to whom it belongs and in case he is dead, to his successors.
b) When the quantity is known but not the owner.
If the exact quantity owed is known but there is a doubt regarding to whom it is owed to the extent that one feels the concerned quantity rightfully belongs to one of three or five people. Then on the basis of precaution it is necessary to satisfy all of these people. If it is not possible to satisfy all of them, then there are three rulings:
1. Lots should be drawn between them and one of them to be given that thing.
2. The goods should be equally distributed among all the possible owners. 3. If the doubt is with reference to a hundred and more people or if the owner is completely unknown then as a precautionary measure, by the permission of Marja-e-Taqleed the holder of these goods should give it away as charity. (Everyone has to follow his own Marja-e-Taqleed in this matter).
c) When the quantity is not known but the owner is.
Under the circumstances that a person knows that he owes some of the goods in his possession to a particular person, but does not know the exact quantity owed, it is incumbent upon him to give at least a third of the goods to the owner. As a precautionary measure he should give something more and satisfy the owner.
d) When both the owner and the exact quantity are unknown.
A person knows that he owes some of the goods he has to someone. It is haraam for him to use these goods, but he does not know the exact quantity of the goods prohibited for him nor its rightful owner. He may consider a few persons as probable owners but he is unaware as to how much of it belongs to whom. In these circumstances it is incumbent on him to give Khums (1/5) on the total goods. After this the rest of the goods or property becomes totally permissible. (For details refer to the section on Khums in the books of Practical Laws).
In the second condition something is owed by a person but it is not in the form of a tangible good or property. There are four circumstances of this type:
1) If the exact quantity and the rightful owner, are known, then without any doubt that quantity has to be returned to the owner.
2) If the exact quantity is known but not a particular owner, and there is doubt between some selected people that it could belong to anyone of them. In this case it is incumbent to satisfy each of them in the way described in the rules regarding tangible goods. But if the doubt is between a large number of people the value of the goods must be given to the Qazi or given as charity by his permission on behalf of the rightful owner.
3) If the value is not known but the person to whom it is owed is known; the duty of the one who owes it is to restore theminimum quantity supposed and also to persuade the owner to forgo the rest of it.
4) When neither the exact quantity nor the owner is known the law states that an estimate has to be made and the average of the minimum and the maximum amount paid as charity after the permission of the Qazi.
According to the Quran and hadith, to flee from Jehad is a Greater Sin. It is the twenty-seventh sin. The following verse of Surah Anfaal is clear. It concerns running away from a confrontation with unbelievers when they are less than twice the number of Muslims.
"O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, then turn not your backs to them. And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day- unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company then he, indeed, becomes deserving of Allah's wrath and his abode is hell; and an evil destination shall it be."
(Surah Anfaal 8:15-16)
Hazrat Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"Those who flee from the battlefield should know that they have angered their Lord and have damned themselves to destruction because fleeing from the battle causes Allah's anger. And one who flees from the Holy war will be certain to face calamities and eternal degradation and his fleeing will not prevent death, and his life cannot be prolonged. That is, if the time of his death has arrived, his fleeing will not delay it. He will die due to some other reason. On the other hand, if the time of his death has not yet arrived and he participates in Jehad he will not die. Thus it is better for one to pledge his life to Allah rather than live in Allah's anger, degradation and dishonour."
Initiated Jehad and Jehad in defence
Jehad is of two types:
(1) Initiated Jehad
(2) Jehad in defence
The first kind is that when the Muslims undertake a war against the unbelievers to invite them to Islam or for establishing justice. However, the permission of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Holy Imams (a.s.) or their special representatives is a necessary prerequisite of this type of Jehad. Since the present period is of Major occultation this type of Jehad is forbidden.
Jehad in defence, as the name implies, pertains to circumstances when unbelievers attack Muslim territories or areas for obliterating Islamic heritage or for plundering the wealth and honour of Muslims. Under such conditions it is wajib-e-Kifai to undertake Jehad and repel their attack. For this type of Jehad the express permission of the Imam (a.s.) or his special deputy is not necessary.
There is a difference of opinion regarding flight from the battlefield. Some scholars are of the opinion that it pertains only to those wars that have been waged against the unbelievers under the order of the Holy Imam (a.s.) or his special deputy. (For example, exemption from Ghusl and Shroud to the martyr also pertains to this Jehad). Other doctors of religion maintain that the decree applies to both the kinds of Jehad. Those who wish to study this problem in detail can refer to the books of Jehad or the books of jurisprudence.
While discussing the prohibition of flight it would be most appropriate to discuss the steadfastness of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) on the battlefield. Such incidents have been included in discussions extolling the merits of Ali (a.s.). Neither the Shia nor the Sunni historical books mention even a single instance when Ali (a.s.) turned his back to a battle. Even in the battle of Ohud he was the only one who did not flee. In the ninth volume of Behaarul Anwaar, under the chapter of "Bravery" a narration has been recorded from Ibne Masud, concerning Ali (a.s.). Four of those who had run away from the battle of Ohud returned and again came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). They were Abu Dajana, Miqdad, Talha and Musayb. After this the rest of the Ansar came back. Thus it were these people who had deserted the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). All the companions had left the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) alone on the battlefield except Ali (a.s.). Ali (a.s.) was fighting in the midst of the polytheists to defend Islam and the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.).
During the battle of Ahzaab, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) bestowed Ali (a.s.) with the titles of "The vicious attacker" and "the non-receeder." That is, the one who attacks the enemies with vengeance and does not subside an inch. There is no doubt that Ali (a.s.) was imbued with all these qualities. Whereas, history is a witness that other companions like Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman had fled from numerous battlefields like Ohud, Khaibar, Hunain and Dhat-Salaasil. Ibne Abil Hadid the Mutazalite has penned the following couplet in his famous book:
"It is not surprising that Abu Bakr fled from Hunain.
He had also deserted the battle in Khaibar and Ohud."
The twenty-eighth sin, which is labelled as a Greater Sin, is to become A'araab (Bedouin, gypsy etc) after Hijrat (migration).
It is recorded in Usool-e-Kafi under the chapter of Greater Sins that according to the Sahih of Ibne Mahboob when he wrote a letter to Imam Musa Ibne Ja'far (a.s.) he (a.s.) replied and this sin was included among the Greater Sins. Moreover, Muhammad bin Muslim has quoted Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and stated that he (a.s.) has included this sin among the greater ones. The book of Ali (a.s.) also includes this sin in the list of Greater Sins.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Becoming A'araab after Hijrat and polytheism is one and the same (sin)."
(Usool-e-Kafi chapter of Greater sins)
What does 'becoming A'araab after hijrat' mean?
A'araab refers to the nomadic Arabs or Bedouins who are absolutely ignorant of religion and rituals connected with faith. Hijrat signifies the migration of these desert Arabs to the Muslim centre, their acceptance of Islam at the hands of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or his rightful successor, and their consequent adherence to faith, and adherence to religious rules and regulations.
Becoming A'araab after Hijrat is the condition when a desert Bedouin before acquiring the necessary knowledge of religion turns back to his ignorant ways.
In the early period of Islam it was incumbent upon them to migrate towards the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in order to learn whatever was necessary for being a Muslim. Similarly it was prohibited for Muslims to stay in an area populated mostly with unbelievers; where it was not possible for them to pray and fast and perform other religious duties.
'Why don't you migrate?'
It is recorded in Tafseer Minhajus Saadeqeen that there were some people among the Muslims like Qays bin Waleed, who were outwardly Muslims and had recited the confession of La ilaaha illallah but inspite of this and their ability to do so, they did not accompany the Muslims in their Hijrat from Mecca to Madinah, and when the Quraish of Mecca marched to attack the Muslims in the battle of Badr these people joined them and were ultimately killed at the hands of the Muslims. A Quranic verse was revealed on this occasion:
"Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you could have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is Hell, and it is an evil resort."
(Surah Nisa 4:97)
The above verse makes clear the fact that it is the duty of a Muslim to leave the place where he cannot adhere to his faith and rituals. In a tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who migrates from a place to another for the sake of religion, even if it is only as far as the distance of a span (of hand), Allah makes Paradise incumbent upon him. (Wherein) his companions will be Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."
"Except the weak from among the men and the children who have not in their vigor the means nor can they find a way (to escape); so these, it may be, Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving."
(Surah Nisa 4:98-99)
It is narrated from Akrama that many of the Meccans who had embraced Islam were not capable of migrating to Madinah, but when the Quranic verse deploring such people was revealed and they became aware of it; one of them Junda bin Zumra told his sons:
"Even though I have become extremely old and sick, I am not among those helpless people who have been deprived of migration by Allah. I have yet some strength left and I also know the way to Madinah. I fear that if I were to die suddenly, my failure to migrate would be a blemish on my perfect faith. So, you all lift up the bed on which I lie and carry me outside towards Madinah."
Thus, his sons lifted the bed and carried him outside, but they had reached only a short distance when the signs of his death became apparent. Junda bin Zumro kept his right hand on his left hand and said: "O Allah! This hand is for You and this for Your Messenger. I pledge allegiance to You for those things that Your Messenger had pledged."
After this his soul escaped from his body. When the news of his death reached Madinah, some companions remarked, "It would have been better if Junda bin Zumro had reached Madinah. In this way he would have derived the sawaab of Hijrat."
The Almighty Allah revealed the following ayat on this occasion:
"And whoever flies in Allah's way, he will find in the earth many a place of refuge and abundant resources; and whoever goes forth from his house flying to Allah and His Apostle, and then death overtakes him, his reward is indeed with Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nisa 4:100)
Becoming A'araab after the passing of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) it was incumbent upon every person to migrate towards him (s.a.w.s.) to obtain instruction in religion and faith. In case he lived in the midst of unbelievers where he could not perform the obligatory acts of prayers and fasting, it was all the more necessary to migrate.
Failure to migrate and returning to nomadism is decreed to be a Greater Sin and the Almighty has promised Hell fire for such people.
After the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) it became wajib to turn towards the Holy Imams (a.s.) and to obtain the compulsory knowledge of faith and articles of Islamic acts. Also, it was most essential to attain the Ma'refat of Imam (a.s.) i.e. it was incumbent to have knowledge of one's Imam and also to learn the matters of belief and acts. It was also prohibited to turn back to paganism after the acceptance of Islamic faith. To remain aloof from the Holy Imam (a.s.) even after recognising their position is haraam. Thus, Shaykh Sadooq narrates from Huzaifa bin Mansoor that he has reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) who said:
"To become A'araab after Hijrat is to recognise Imam (a.s.) and then be aloof from him."
Since the present age is the age of occultation of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) the same rules apply to us.
It is necessary to migrate towards the jurist
Hijrat is incumbent on two types of people. The first type are those who are absolutely ignorant of the rules of religion. If there is no religious scholar in the area of their residence, whom they can refer to for their religious problems, then, it is compulsory for them to shift to a place where they have access to religious scholars for the solution of their problems.
The second types are those Muslims who live in the midst of unbelievers, and due to the oppression of these infidels, they are unable to perform their religious duties. It is incumbent on these Muslims to migrate to an area where there is freedom to practice their religion. The Shia jurists have explained this matter clearly.
Order for migration is forever
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has told us:
"Hijrat is wajib till the doors of repentance close. The doors of repentance will not close till the sun rises from the west." (i.e. the order for migration will be in force till Qiyamat).
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"The order for Hijrat will be in force till Allah demands obedience from the inhabitants of the earth in the same way as the order was first promulgated in the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)."
It means that Hijrat will remain a compulsory duty till the time other religious duties remain obligatory on the people.
'They could not migrate from Mecca'
In the book of 'Masalik', the second martyr2 writes that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has explained the meaning of the tradition of migration saying that it is specifically concerned with the migration from Mecca. Hence when Mecca was liberated from the domination of the unbelievers there was no need for the Muslims to migrate elsewhere. The order applies to only those Muslims who are unable to perform their religious duties. According to some scholars after the conquest Mecca there was no merit in migration from Mecca; just as there was a greater merit in Jehad and struggle for Islam before the conquest.
"...not alike among you are those who spent before the victory (of Mecca) and fought (and those who did not): they are more exalted in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards..."
(Surah Hadeed 57:10)
In order to understand the purport of this ayat let us study the following points:
Wajib, mustahab and mubah hijrat
The respected scholar Allamah Hilli writes in his book Mumtahi that there are three kinds of Hijrat (Migration), wajib (obligatory), Mustahab (recommended) and Mubah (permitted).
Hijrat is wajib on a Muslim (not restrained by old age or disease) who lives in the midst of infidels where he can neither reveal that he is a Muslim, nor can he perform his religious duties.
For those Muslims who live among infidels but who have complete freedom to practice their faith, it is recommended (Mustahab) to migrate to another area, if they are capable of doing so. However, if they have some legal excuse, migration is Mubah (Permitted) for them; it is not even Mustahab.
No migration from areas of Ahle-Sunnat
According to Sharhe Lumah and Jameal Maqasid, the first Martyr3 is believed to have said: "It is incumbent for a Muslim to migrate if he is living in the midst of infidels and is unable to follow Islam or perform his religious duties. In the same way a Shia who is living among the Ahle-Sunnat and is not able to perform the ritual acts of Shias is similarly required to migrate to areas populated with Shia people." However this view which is attributed to Muhammad Ibne Makki (the first martyr) is not compatible with the general Islamic principle. Because if a Shia is living among Sunnis he does not need to forgo his religious obligations. He can follow taqayya (dissimulation) and fulfill his ritual acts. He can perform the Islamic acts in the same manner as the Sunnis if he fears for his life or property. We do not have any tradition exhorting such people to migrate to another area. On the other hand the Holy Imams (a.s.) have time and again emphasised upon the adherence to dissimulation under such circumstances.
Support of the Martyr's view
Some scholars have supported the view of Muhammad Ibne Makki who stated the following tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as quoted by Muhammad Ibne Muslim requested to explain the Islamic order for a person who during travel reaches a place where there aren't any stones or sand; all the area is covered with snow and the person becomes "mujnib" (semen has been discharged from him and he has to perform the wajib Ghusl for prayers). How can he do tayammum (substitute of Ghusl) in absence of mud or stone? Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Let him do tayammum with this very snow and pray. I do not consider it proper for him to again go to such a place where he might lose his faith."
According to those who support the view, since Imam (a.s.) has prohibited his followers to go to a place where it is impossible to perform ghusl and wuzu, the prohibition also applies to a place where it is not possible to perform wuzu and ghusl according to Shia procedures.
However, this is not a sufficient argument because the tradition prohibits going to a place where one is sure to be unable to perform some obligatory acts. On the other hand it is only a possibility that in areas of Ahle-Sunnat a Shia will be compelled to practise taqayya. Besides, even if a Shia practices taqayya and performs the obligatory acts like the Ahle-Sunnat, his acts are considered correct. Moreover, if there is no constraint it may be recommended for him to migrate from the area of Ahle-Sunnat. However, if he is unable to express his love for Ahlul Bayt (.a.s.) it will certainly be Mustahab for him to migrate.
Propagating Wilayat in areas of Kuffar
Samaad says that he told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), that he was roaming to an area populated by polytheists and that he would have to stay there for some time. Some of the Momineen had told him that it was not advisable to travel there because if he were to die in that place he would be counted among the polytheists. Imam (a.s.) asked him if he would be able to propagate the Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt and invite people towards truth in that place? Samaad said, "Yes, master, there is total freedom of expression and religion. The people there, are receptive of truth." Then Imam (a.s.) asked whether such a freedom was possible in an Islamic area. Samaad said, "No! On the contrary we have to practise extreme taqayya, and none of us can even dare to utter the names of one of you (Imams)." Imam (a.s.) told him,
"If death overcomes you in such a place you would be counted as a monotheist community." [i.e. he will be equal to a whole community of monotheists; like Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.)]. The light of belief will emanate from your face."
Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the Sharh of Al-Kafi that it is possible that A'araab means to become a nomad again or to forgo Hijrat after the order of Hijrat has been revealed. Like the prohibition of interest, which came into force only after the Divine command was revealed. Nevertheless, since the early period, failure to migrate without a valid reason or to migrate and then revert to nomadism, both of these are Greater Sin and promised the fire of Hell by the Almighty Allah.
Quranic view of nomadism and apostasy
We have already mentioned at the beginning of our discussion that nomad specifically applies to the desert Arabs who were away from the centre of Islam and could not learn the Islamic rules and regulations, nor could they remember and follow the articles of faith. In this connection the following verse was revealed in the Quran:
"The dwellers of the desert are very hard in unbelief and hypocrisy, and more disposed not to know the limits of what Allah has revealed to His Apostles; and Allah is Knowing, Wise."
(Surah Tauba 9:97)
The Almighty also says: "And of the dwellers of the desert are those who take what they spend to be a fine, and they wait (the befalling of) calamities to you; on them (will be) the evil calamity; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing."
(Surah Tauba 9:98)
"And of the dwellers of the desert are those who believe in Allah and the latter day and take what they spend to be (means of) the nearness of Allah and the Apostle's prayers; surely it shall be means of nearness for them; Allah will make them enter into His mercy; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Tauba 9:99)
Ignorance of Islamic acts is a kind of nomadism
The above two verses which flay the infidel Bedouins are clear regarding the fact that the nomads were deserving of criticism not because of their being occupants of desert. It was because of their ignorance of articles of Islamic acts and belief. For those Bedouins who followed the Islamic religion, the Holy book has praised them in the third verse. They have been promised Divine Mercy.
On the basis of this, people who avoid learning Islamic rules and regulations and those who keep away from the centres of religious knowledge are in fact, nomads, and the verse denouncing the desert Arabs also applies to them even though they are living in cities.
The respected Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) remarked:
"Learn the rules of religion. Those of you who do not learn about religion are nomads. As the Almighty Allah says in His book,'Why does not a company from you goes to learn about religion so that when they come back they can warn their people in order they may become fearful (of disobeying Allah).'"
(Behaarul Anwaar, Book of Aql)
Thus one who does not try to learn about religion and articles of faith is a desert occupant. The Imam (a.s.) also told his followers:
"Knowledge of the Divine religion is incumbent on you. And do not become a nomad. Because if you fail to comprehend a religious act, Allah will not look upon it with Mercy on the Day of Qiyamat and He will not purify that deed."
One who learns but does not act upon it is also a nomad
Muhaddith Faiz writes in Waafi that it is possible that the above pronouncement may also apply to those who learn about the Islamic rituals and practices but fail to act upon them. He also quotes a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to prove this point. Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) states in the Sharh of Al-Kafi that some scholars are of the opinion that being a nomad in the present time applies to those who after acquiring religious instructions, do not act upon them and remain aloof from Islamic knowledge.
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"A man says that he has migrated, though in fact he has not. Because a migrant is the one who abandons sins and does not even go near them. And a person says that he has fought in the way of Allah but in reality he has not, because Jehad is the leaving of sinful acts and a war against enemy inside our own self. Whereas many people go out to fight not for the obedience and satisfaction of the Lord. Their motive is only to gain fame so that people may praise their bravery and fearlessness."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.15)
Desert of ignorance and negligence
From the Quranic verses, the traditions and writings of the Islamic scholars we can conclude that nomadism implies the condition of a person who is ignorant and unaware of Allah Almighty's Nobility of which human beings are capable and the eternal bliss which one can achieve, and instead he is totally immersed in the desires of this transient world. He is oblivious to righteousness and does not refrain from committing any sin or evil. He does not care to acquire knowledge (Ma'refat), nor does he pay attention to good deeds, that would fetch him eternal rewards in the Hereafter. It would surely deprive a person of salvation and eternal bliss.
Hijrat (migration) is the exact opposite of Nomadism. Nomadism after Hijrat (migration) implies that a person migrates to Islam and obtains knowledge of religion and then reverts to his former ways. It can be said that performing some good actions for some time and then leaving them is also a kind of reverting to nomadism. The denouncement is valid only if the person does this due to laziness and sloth and not due to some real hindrance or helplessness. It is necessary to continue to perform good actions once we have begun them. As far as possible we should not discontinue them.
Jabir Johfi quotes Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to have said:
"I like to continue good actions so that I become habitual in them. If I could not perform a particular deed in the day I make up for it during the night and if I do not perform an action during the night I make up the following day. Certainly the best of the deeds near Allah are those which one continues. Hence all the deeds of the week are presented to Imam (a.s.) every Thursday and the deeds of the month at the end of the month and all the deeds of the year at the middle of Shabaan. So if you begin a good ritual, keep at it for the whole year." (i.e. continue it for at least a year).
Neglecting religious knowledge
If a person begins to acquire religious knowledge but later discontinues the same it is considered reverting to nomandism by some. However, it is Haraam only if his religious education is obligatory (i.e. if he leaves it, he will go astray). However, it is incumbent to continue acquiring knowledge till the end of one's life so that one can continue to perform good deeds with sincerity and purity of intention. In this way a person becomes righteous and deserving of the rewards of his good deeds, both in this world and the hereafter.
As the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said:
"Acquire knowledge from the cradle to the grave."
The twenty-ninth sin, that is classified as a Greater Sin is 'Helping the oppressors'. Fazl Ibne Shazaan has narrated from Imam Reza (a.s.) that he said concerning the Greater Sins:
"And helping the oppressors and bending (leaning) towards them."
In the narration of Amash from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) the following is mentioned, "Not helping the oppressed people is a Greater Sin." In other words helping the oppressors is also a Greater Sin.
Imam Musa Ibne Ja'far (a.s.) says:
"To participate in the activities of the oppressors and to endeavour to achieve their evil objectives and to help them is equal to infidelity and to knowingly lean towards them is a Greater Sin and deserves Hell."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) similarly says:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj), I saw the following inscription on the doors of Hell, 'DO NOT BE A HELPER OF THE OPPRESSORS.'"
It means that if one does not wish to enter Hell he must refrain from co-operating with the oppressors. Moreover, this is a sin that is promised Divine punishment by the Almighty in the Holy Quran.
"And do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the fire touch you, and you have no guardians besides Allah, then you shall not be helped."
(Surah Hud 11:113)
According to Tafseer Minhajus Sadeqeen 'do not incline' means we must not have the slightest inclination towards the oppressors. Hence we must not treat them honourably nor mix with them freely nor express our affections for them. We must not be greedy of their gifts, nor should we praise them and obey their orders. When such are the prohibitions against the oppressors, it is obvious that then it cannot be lawful to help them and co-operate with them in oppression.
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) remarks,
"One who prays for the long life of an oppressor is as if he likes the opposition of Allah on the Earth."
There is an interesting incident in the book Rawzaatul Jannat concerning the author of Maqasikul Ahkam, Sayyed Muhammad. Once the Sayyed and another respected teacher, Shaykh, planned a pilgrimage to the Holy tomb of Imam Reza (a.s.) at Mashad, but when they learned that Shah Abbas Safavi was staying at Mashad they decided to cancel their visit.
Similarly under the biography of Sayyed Bahrul Uloom it is mentioned that when the Governor of Shustaran Province behaved with utmost respect with him, he says, "Before I could develop some liking for him and come under the denouncement of the Quranic Verse, I fled from that place." Thus he shifted from Dezful and settled down in Iraq for the rest of his life.
When we study the biographies of some scholars we realise how strictly they refrained from meeting, mixing with or communicating with the oppressors, so that there would not be even a remote chance for them to befriend them and help them in their activities.
Muhaddith Jazaeri writes in the book Fawaidur Rizvia that there was a person who committed some blunder in the presence of Shah Abbas Safavi and in order to escape his wrath took refuge in Mashad. Then he approached the late Mulla Ahmed (Muqaddase Ardebeli) and requested him to write to the Shah that he may forgive his mistake. Muqaddase Ardebeli wrote as follows:
"Founder of a kingdom obtained through asking, Abbas! Know that even though this man was initially an oppressor, but he is now an oppressed one. So, overlook his mistake. I hope Allah will forgive some of your mistakes."
Signed: From the slave of the king of Wilayat, Ahmed Ardebeli.
The Shah replied to his letter:
"You have been grateful upon me for ordering those things which you did (in your letter). Do not neglect me in your invocations."
Signed: Dog of the House of Ali, Abbas.
It is quoted from Tarikh Bahire that Khwaja Nizamul Mulk the Prime Minister of Malik Shah Seljuq, was very much thoughtful of the Hereafter and the Day of Judgement and he used to be fearful in this regard. During the tenure of his ministry he was a supporter of the helpless, a patron of intellectuals, and steadfast in following the religious obligations. He thought of obtaining a certificate from the scholars and intellectuals, certifying his good morals, so that the document could be kept inside his shroud during burial. He hoped to achieve salvation by this. He drafted a certificate and sent it to various scholars and intellectuals for their signatures. When it reached Baghdad and was presented before the respected teacher of Nizamiya Madrassa, Shaykh Abu Ishaq, he wrote, "I witness that Shaykh Nizamul Mulk is slightly better (oppressor) from among the oppressors."
When Khwaja saw the remark of Abu Ishaq, he wept and said: "Whatever Abu Ishaq has written is true." There is no doubt that helping the oppressors in any way is Haraam and a Greater Sin. There is an Islamic law for every kind of oppressor and the ways of helping the oppressors, and it is incumbent to learn these rules and commands.
Types of oppressors
'Zulm' the Arabic word for oppression and injustice implies disregard for Divine commandments and also to oppose whatever is compatible with reason and logic. There are two types of such oppression:
(1) Crossing the limits of religious law is equal to polytheism. As the Almighty says,
"...most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity."
(Surah Luqman 31:13)
(2) Belying the Divine signs is also oppression as stated in the Holy Book,
...and the unbelievers- they are the unjust."
(Surah Baqarah 2:254)
In short, we can say that all the religious laws that we are supposed to follow according to reason or religious commands must be obeyed in totality. Not accepting them or not believing them is a kind of injustice. Apart from this, non-acceptance of the Divine commands or not acting upon them or disregarding the limits specified by the Almighty, like neglecting a Wajib act or doing a Haraam one, all of these constitute injustice.
Thus the Almighty Lord says,
"...and whoever exceeds the limits of Allah these it is that are the unjust."
(Surah Baqarah 2:229)
This also applies to injustice upon ones own self. As Allah (a.j.) mentions:
"Therefore whoever disbelieves, his unbelief is against himself."
(Surah Fatir 35:39)
Various kinds of oppressions include insulting, abusing, degrading or imprisoning a person; also backbiting or accusing a person falsely or piercing a person physically. Another form of oppression is to usurp someone's property or to obtain it without the owner's permission, or not to return the rights to its owner etc. Another way of usurping a right is to forcefully occupy a position reserved for someone else. The supreme example of such injustice was comitted by the tyrant rulers of Bani Umayya and Bani Abbas when they usurped the position of Wilayat which clearly belonged to the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Another example is that of the unjust jurist who assumes the seat of Qazi.
Oppression belongs to two categories. In one category are the tyrant rulers and vicious kings, for whom committing oppression is a normal practice. In the second category are the individuals who may do injustice to someone else once in a while. We shall study all these types of injustices in four sub-topics.
Helping the oppressor in oppression
Helping an oppressor in any way whatsoever is haraam. For example to hand over a cane to someone so that he can beat an innocent person, or to help in any way to imprison him or kill him.
The renowned Shaykh Ansari writes in Makasib that the prohibiting of co-operation with the oppressors is confirmed by all four proofs required to prove the Islamic laws. i.e. Quran, reason, Sunnat and Ijma.
Logic: Reason dictates that there is no difference between the actual oppressor and the one who helps him. Both are equally responsible for the act of injusice. It is possible that if there is no one to help the oppressor he may not be able to oppress. Hence logically it is haraam help an oppressor.
Ijma: Refering to books on jurisprudence, confirms that all the jurists are unanimous in their opinion that helping the oppressor is haraam.
Quran: The Quranic verse
"And do not incline to those who do injustice,"
is sufficient to prove the illegality of helping the unjust. Because if even a slight inclination towards unjust people is prohibited, then how can helping them be permitted. As helping them would be the greatest form of inclining towards them.
Moreover, the Almighty says:
"...and do not help one another in sin and oppression; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in requiting evil."
(Surah Maidah 5:2
The Traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) against helping the oppressors
Numerous traditions have reached us in this connection. Shaykh Ansari has also recorded the following tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in his book Waraam:
"If one knowingly goes to help an oppressor, he has apostasized from Islam."
Naturally an act that makes a person bereft of the Islamic faith must be a sin that results in his destruction.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"When Qiyamat occurs an announcer will call: Where are the unjust, the helpers of Unjust and those like the Unjust? So much so that even if one has procured merely pen and ink for the oppressor to write the order of oppression; all these people would be bundled up in a cage of iron and thrown into Hell."
The Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If a person even hangs up a cane for the tyrant king so that he can beat the oppressed one, Allah will change that cane into a snake, seventy thousand yards long and place it in the Hell fire (to torment him)."
"Those who take the affairs of oppressors in their hands and help him in oppression will, at the time of death, be conveyed the Divine curse and news of Hell fire by the angel of death. And Hell is an evil resort. One who guides the oppressor will be considered at par with Hamaan (the minister of Firon). And the punishment of those who help the unjust and the oppressors themselves will be more grievous than other punishments of the inmates of Hell. And if a person backbites about his believing brother to the ruler, and even though the Muslim may not have to suffer any injury from it, the backbiter will have all his good deeds nullified. However, if the Muslim had to suffer oppression at the hands of the ruler, the back-biter will be kept by Allah in that section of Hell where Hamaan will be confined."
Praising the oppressor is also haraam
To praise an oppressor so that his power and authority may increase, or he may be enouraged to become more daring, is also Haraam. This is confirmed by arguments that have been mentioned, and also the proofs concerning the forbidding of evil (Nahy Anil Munkar).
Shaykh Ansari has specifically related a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"One who shows respect to a rich man and in the greed of his wealth considers him good; the Almighty Allah becomes angry on him and puts him in a cage of fire at the lowest part of Hell where Qarun is confined."
This tradition applies to all types of people, but if the praised one is unjust, the one who praises will be eligible to severe retribution. The Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"If one praises a tyrant king or shows humility due to greed (of his rewards) then he will be in Hell with him (the King)."
Another prophetic tradition states,
"Whenever a transgressor is praised, the heavens shudder and the Divine Anger envelopes the one who has praised."
We must not accept any honour from oppressors
The most common way of helping the oppressors is to accept some post or position from them, especially if that post is a cause for any type of oppression. For example the post of maintaining law and order. If a person assumes such an assignment from the oppressors and as a result unleashes oppression on innocent people, such an appointment and such an acceptance of the post is a Greater Sin. If as a result of it, innocent people are subjected to hardships, the doer of such actions is sure to have a severe punishment from the Almighty.
There is one very prominent tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and it is quoted here from Tohful Oqool. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The Haraam post is the post of an oppressive ruler and the posts of those who are busy in the assignments entrusted by the tyrants. Hence it is Haraam to fulfill the duty of this post. One who takes up this post will become involved in Divine punishment. Whether the job is significant or paltry, any attempt to help the oppressor is a Greater Sin. Because accepting a post from an oppressor will result in the trampling of rights, the manifestation of injustice, the spread of corruption and disturbance, the destruction of heavenly books, the murder of Prophets, the demolishing of mosques and the interpolation of religious laws. Therefore it is Haraam to work with them. Except when there is a condition of utter helplessness, like when it becomes permissible to drink blood and eat the flesh of dead."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has also said:
"Those who accept some assignment from the oppressors; the minimum punishment for them on the Day of Judgement would be that Allah would make them stand near fire till He does the accounting of the rest of the people. After that He will decide about them."
In the last portion of the book Daarus Salaam there is an incident concerning Sayyed Muhammad Ali Iraqi. He was one of those who had the honour of seeing Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.). He says... "during the time of my youth I was staying in my native village in Iraq. The name of that place was Karharood. In those days a person whom I knew by his name and lineage passed away and was buried in the graveyard opposite to our house. For forty days, at the time of sunset a fire arose from his grave, and wails and screams were heard. On one of those nights the wailing of that dead man became more keen and I was very much troubled. I became so much frightened that I was trembling uncontrollably as if the punishment was on myself; so much so that I eventually began to lose consciousness. When my friends came to know of my condition they came and carried me to their house and I remained there till I was well again. Afterwards I came to know that the dead man was working in the local court. One day he had demanded some tax from a Sayyed who was unable to pay. This man arrested the Sayyed and locked him up in one of his rooms. He hung him from the ceiling of his house for quite some time. It was due to these deeds that he was punished after death."
Another similar incident is related by a reliable person that, some time ago there was a person by the name of Aaqa Muhammad Ali. He was a dealer in perfumes and was also in some way connected with the law courts. He had promulgated an order banning all the people from any kind of trade in perfumes. During that period a Sayyed had some perfume and he sold it to some other trader. When this tyrant came to know of this he met the Sayyed in the market and abused him excessively and even slapped him. In reply to this the Sayyed said, "My ancestors will repay you for this." When the tyrant heard this he turned back and ordered his slave to catch hold of the Sayyed. Then he beat the Sayyed with a cane saying, "Go and tell your ancestor to cut off my arms." The very next day this oppressor contracted high fever and his arms began to pain severely during the night. On the third day his arms had swollen terribly and puss began to ooze from them. On the fourth day the surgeons amputed his arms in a way that only the stubs remained. He died on the seventh day.
Therefore, it is important to know that acceptance of an assignment or a post from an oppressor or a tyrant is a great help to that unjust man. And it is impossible for the person who accepts such assignments to remain just and non-violent.
It is mentioned in the Sahih of Dawood bin Zarbi that one of the followers of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) had requested Imam Sajjad (a.s.) to recommend him to the ruler of Madinah, Dawood bin Ali for an appointment in the governmental post. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) replied: "I will never do such a thing."
On hearing this he thought that Imam (a.s.) was unwilling to recommend him because he might be worried that some injustice would be caused by him. So he approached Imam (a.s.) and began to promise and take oaths that he would never do any kind of unjust act and said that he would not do anything except help the people. Imam (a.s.) looked at the sky and began to weep. Then he said that going to the sky was easier. It was apparent that Imam (a.s.) meant to say that once a person accepts employment of an oppressor it is impossible for him not to oppress.
When is it permitted to accept a position under rulership?
There are two situations where it is allowed to accept appointment in the service of oppressors and rather in some cases it becomes Wajib to do so. It is permissible when a person is forced to accept it or if he is practising Taqayya. That is, if he refuses, his life property or honour will be in danger. Permissibility of accepting employment under tyrants is proved in many ways.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"My people will not be questioned for what they are forced to do."
And Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has mentioned:
"There is nothing that Allah has not made permissible for one who is helpless."
Imam Reza (a.s.) has been reported in Wasaelush Shia to say that he accepted to be heir-apparent of Mamun under duress and taqayya. When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked about working for a tyrant king, he replied,
"It is not allowed, except when a person is not able to obtain his livelihood from any other means or if his life is in danger and his life depends on accepting some work from the tyrant. In that case it is allowed. But if he receives any remuneration from the tyrant he must pay Khums from it."
Such appointments are permissible when the job involves only peacekeeping and maintaining of law and order. Like posts in armies where the aim is to defend the borders of Muslim countries, to see to the welfare of believers and the downtrodden people, and to restore the rights to those who were deprived of it. Accepting service under tyrants is allowed in these circumstances provided one has a firm intention of dealing in a just manner. If the intention is to help the Shias specifically, it is more meritorious. Ziyad ibn Abi Salma says that he went to meet Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) asked him if he was employed with the government? "Yes," he replied. Imam (a.s.) asked, 'Why?'
He replied, "I am benevolent and helpful to the needy so I cannot leave this job. Apart from this I have a family and children and I have no other means of livelihood." Imam (a.s.) said,
"O Ziyad if I am taken to the top of a high mountain and thrown from it and my body is shattered to pieces. I would prefer that to doing some job for these people or even to step inside their threshold. Except for one condition. Do you know what that is?"
Ziyad said, "May my life be sacrificed for you; I don't know."
Imam (a.s.) continued,
"Except that I rescue the believers from grief and hardships or liberate an imprisoned believer, or repay the debts of a believer." After this Imam (a.s.) went on to say, "O Ziyad! If you are employed under a tyrant, work for the welfare of your believing brothers so that it will recompense for the sins that you may happen to commit during your service period."
Fazl Ibne Abdul Rehman says that I wrote a letter to Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) asking, "Please permit me to work on a governmental post." Imam (a.s.) replied,
"You are permitted, provided you do not change my religious commands or cross the limits laid down by Allah. The compensation of your action will be your fulfilling the needs of your believing brother."
Ali Ibn Yaqteen, who was the Prime Minister of Caliph Haroon, wrote to Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.): "Please give me permission to resign from this post." Imam (a.s.) replied to him,
"I do not consider it permissible for you to leave this governmental post because in the courts of tyrants there are people through whom Allah removes the difficulties of His loved ones. And they are the ones whom Allah has made immune from the fire of Hell. Hence fear Allah with respect to your brothers."
Muhammad bin Ismail Bazee was also a minister in the court of Haroon. He had the honour of meeting three Imams, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) and Imam Jawad (a.s.) who provided his own garment to serve as his shroud. He relates from Imam Reza (a.s.) that he said,
"There are people in the courts of tyrants through whom Allah manifests His proof and they are appointed in specific cities. Allah removes the difficulties of His loved ones through them and by them He brings about the welfare of Muslims. The believers take refuge with them in calamities. The needs of our needy Shias are fulfilled through these very people. And the Almighty Allah through their means imposes the fear and dread of the believers upon the houses of oppressors. These are the true believers who are the trust bearers of Allah on this earth. Congratulations to them for their position and post!"
Then Imam (a.s.) asked,
"Wouldn't it be better that at least one of you reaches that position?"
Muhammad asked, "May my life be sacrificed for you. How can a person reach such a position?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Being with the tyrants, he makes the heart of our Shias happy; that makes us happy. O Muhammad! After you do this you will be considered among those people who have lofty positions."
(Behaarul Anwaar vol.15)
Accepting employment under a tyrant ruler becomes wajib in one condition
At times it is Wajib to accept rulership or a post in government. A person should do so only when he is confident that if he assumes the post he will be able to uproot a great evil or will be able to prevent at least one sinful ritual or system. But such a situation is rare because it depends on personal confidence, that after one assumes authority, one will never commit any sort of injustice or sinful act nor go against justice and Divine commands. It is obvious that such a proposition is very difficult because there are numerous dangers that lurk behind the facade of governance. It is most difficult to save oneself from them.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) replied to the letter of Abdullah Najjashi the ruler of Ahwaz:
"It has come to my knowledge that you assumed the rulership of Ahwaz. I am happy by this news and aggrieved too. Happy because I hope Allah will remove the difficulties and the problems of the Progeny of Muhammad and help them through you and through you the fire of opposition will cool down on them. I am aggrieved on account of the fears, the least of which is that you may become a cause of injury or difficulty to our followers and thus be deprived of even the fragrance of Paradise."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who assumes the leadership of a community will be raised on the Day of Qiyamat in a way that both his hands will be tied to his neck. Then if he had dealt with the people according to Shariah; Allah will free him. But if he has been unjust he will be thrown into Hell. And what an evil resort it is. If a leader of a community does not deal with justice and goodness with the people, for each day that he ruled, he will be made to stand at the boundary of Hell for a thousand years with both his hands tied behind his neck. Thus if he has dealt with equity he will be freed and if not, he will be thrown into Hell, into a depth of seventy thousand years."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"If a person has authority in a particular affair of the people and he deals with justice with them and the doors of his house are open for those who refer to him and seek his help and he does not remain aloof from the people. Then the Almighty Allah will keep him safe from dread and fear on the Day of Qiyamat and make him enter Paradise."
It must be remembered, however, that this is a vast subject and it is not possible to discuss all its facets. Hence those who wish to study in detail may refer to books of jurisprudence.
Helping the oppressors in other matters
Helping the oppressors or tyrants in matters other than oppression; like to work as their personal assistant, to stitch clothes for them, or build their house or guard their property. All these types of jobs can be classified into three categories:
(1) In some cases these jobs indirectly help in oppression; for example, if the tyrant had usurped a piece of land and orders a mason to build a house on it, or a cloth which has been obtained forcefully is given to a tailor to stitch a dress, or a person may be ordered to guard the money exhorted from innocent people.
There is no doubt that all such kinds of jobs are Haraam. Because the use of things acquired by illegal means is Haraam for the one who has acquired them or for anyone else who is aware of their contraband nature.
(2) The second category is of those jobs which are not direct acts of oppressions or which do not help in oppressing, but since the one who is involved in them is associated with the tyrants and the common people consider him to be a part of that oppression; it is Haraam. His presence may encourage the tyrants, consequently his name is also included in the list of oppressors. He is also counted among those who usurp the rights of people. All these are Haraam according to numerous traditions. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who has his name registered in the office of Bani Abbas will be raised on the Day of Qiyamat in the form of a pig."
In another tradition he says that such a person will be brought in the form of a black pig. Imam (a.s.) has also said,
"Do not help the oppressors in the construction of mosques."
Ibn Abi Yaafur says that I was in the company of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) when one of the Shias came and spoke to Imam (a.s.). He said, "May our lives be sacrificed for you! Some of our people have problems in obtaining livelihood whereas there are vacancies in the establishments of Bani Abbas for construction of buildings and digging of canals. So what is your opinion regarding this?"
Imam (a.s.) replied:
"I don't like to tie even a knot, or the mouth of a water bag or the strap of a purse for them. Even if they were to pay me with Madinah and whatever is in it. I do not like that I help them even as little as the ink at the tip of a pen. Without any doubt, the oppressors will remain standing at the verge of Hell-fire till the time Allah decides about all others."
Muhammad bin Azaafar says that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) told his father,
"I have come to know that you deal freely with Abu Ayyub and Abu Rabie. Then what would be your condition when your name willemergein the list of the helpers of tyrants?"
Hearing this command the father became aggrieved. When Imam (a.s.) saw his restlessness he said,
"I have only warned you of that about which the Almighty has warned me."
The narrator says, "My father remained sorrowful for the rest of his life."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, "It is incumbent upon Allah to raise you on the Day of Qiyamat with the same group from which you derived benefits in this world."
The Imam (a.s.) has also mentioned the incidents when some of the followers of Hazrat Musa (a.s.) decided to support Firon for worldly benefits and secretly planned to change sides. When Musa (a.s.) was about to win, they enrolled as his supporters, but it so happened that when Firon and his soldiers were about to be drowned and these people made a bid to cross to Hazrat Musa's side, the Almighty Allah caused their horses to perish and they also drowned with Firon and his army.
Our beloved Imam (a.s.) has the following advice for us:
"Fear Allah, strengthen your faith with an uncomparable taqayya and avoid presenting your needs to the ruler. And if a person is respectful to an irreligious man, Allah will degrade him and will consider him His enemy and leave him on his own. And if he receives any monetary benefit from this man, Allah will remove barakat from it. And if he uses this money to perform Hajj or emancipate slaves, or for any other benevolent deed, he will not get any reward for it."
Ali bin Abi Hamza says, "One of my friends was a scribe in the employ of Bani Umayya. One day he requested me to take him to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). I took him to Imam (a.s.). He saluted and said, 'May my life be sacrificed upon you, I had been in the employ of Bani Umayya as a scribe and have earned a huge amount of wealth without giving any thought to right or wrong.' Imam (a.s.) said,
'If people like this had not been in the service of Bani Umayya to write letters for them, collect their wealth for them, fight their enemies and attend their assemblies, they (Bani Ummaya) would not have usurped our rights. And if they had been left alone they would not have been able to accumulate any wealth more than what they had.'
The man said, 'May I be sacrificed for you, can I attain salvation after what I have done?' Imam (a.s.) said,
'Separate whatever wealth you have earned from them and try to return it to the rightful owners if you know them. Whatever you cannot deliver should be given as charity (Sadaqah) on their behalf so that I can guarantee that Allah will send you toParadise.'
Upon hearing this, the young man bowed his head thoughtfully for sometime. Then he raised his head and said, 'May I be sacrificed on you, I will do as you have ordered.' After this he accompanied me to Kufa and returned all his wealth to the rightful owners as much as it was possible; the rest he gave away as Sadaqah. He even gave up the dress he was wearing. I procured some money for him and bought him a dress and gave him some amount for his expenses. After some months he fell ill and I paid him a visit. I found that he was in a very serious condition. He opened his eyes and told me, 'Ali ibn Abi Hamza, by Allah, your Imam (a.s.) has fulfilled his promise.' He died soon after. I supervised his final rites and returned to Madinah to meet Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) said,
'O Ali! I have fulfilled my promise to your friend.'
I said, 'May I be sacrificed upon you! You speak the truth, because my companion testified to it at the time of his death.'"
Assistance which is not haraam nor can be an encouragement
(3) The third type of help is that which is not objectionable in any way an encouragement to the oppressor, nor can it be considered as help to the oppressor in general sense. For example, to hire vehicles or carry the load of permissible goods and eatables etc. All these types of actions are not totally Haraam but some elders have mentioned that on the basis of precaution it is necessary to avoid even these actions. As we have stated earlier, by involving oneself in such matters one is prone to incline towards the oppressors.
Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) commands Safwan Jamaal
Safwan bin Mehram Kufi was a very pious companion of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). He used to earn his livelihood by hiring out camels. He owned a large number of camels. He says that one day Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) said to him,
"Safwan every action of yours is meritorious except one."
"May I be sacrificed for you, what action is that?" He said,
"You hire your camels to Harun al-Rashid (l.a.)"
He said, "I don't give my camels for hunting or games but he takes them when he goes for Hajj and I do not serve him myself, I order my servants to accompany them on the journey."
Imam (a.s.) asked,
"Do they pay you in advance or after their return?"
"After they return", he replied,
"Don't you carry the hope that they return safe and sound from their journey so that you receive your payment?"
Imam (a.s.) said,
"One who wishes them to remain alive is like them and one who is connected with them will go to Hell."
Safwan says that when he heard this he sold away all his camels. When Harun heard of this he summoned him and asked the reason for it. He said, "I have become old and fragile and am unable to take care of the camels, even my slaves are not capable of maintaining them properly."
Haroon said, "It is not so! I know who has persuaded you to do this. You have done this on the direction Musa Ibne Ja'far (a.s.)."
"What do I have to do with Musa Ibne Ja'far?" said Safwan but Haroon was not satisfied and said that if he had not had good relations with Safwan he would have got him killed.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who likes the oppressors to continue (to live) likes the disobedience to Allah (to continue) on this earth."
While explaining the Quranic verse,
"... and do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the fire may touch you."
(Surah Hud 11:113)
Imam (a.s.) says,
"If a person comes to a ruler and wishes for him to live if only for as long as it would take for him to put his hand inside his money bag and give some amount."
Wishing for the life of an oppressor even for a moment is the same as being inclined towards him.
Helping an oppressive person who is not an habitual oppressor
To help a person, who is not always oppressive, but occasionally happens to commit oppression, is also absolutely Haraam. If one knowingly helps a person in a situation where he oppressing another, one commits a Haraam action and a Greater Sin and will be punished as promised in Quran:
"Surely We have prepared for the iniquitous a fire, the curtains of which shall encompass them about; and if they cry for water, they shall be given water like molten brass which will scald their faces, evil the drink and ill the resting place."
(Surah Kahf 18:29)
Oppressing and helping someone in oppression is one and the same.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has remarked:
"The oppressor, the one who helps an oppressor and the one who is satisfied with it, are all partners in oppression."
It means all three of them are equally responsible. A similar tradition has been narrated from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) who says that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"One who breaks allegiance to the Imam, or raises a standard of misguidance or conceals a piece of knowledge which is obligatory to be imparted or usurps some property or helps an oppressor knowingly; then he has deserted the religion of Islam."
On the night of ascension (Meraj) the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) saw the following inscription on the door of Hell:
"Allah degrades the one who insults Islam, the one who insults the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the one who helps an oppressor in oppression."
In this way the Quranic verses and traditions prove the seriousness of oppression and helping an oppressor as a Greater sin. Moreover, one who helps an oppressor has also acted against the Divine commandments of forbidding evil. He is actually a hypocrite because he has in fact encouraged an evil and this is one of the characteristics of a hypocrite. As the Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"The hypocritical men and the hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good..."
(Surah Tauba 9:67)
Preventing oppression is necessary
If a Muslim sees an oppressor trying to oppress someone and if he is in a position to prevent him it is obligatory on him to do so. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Help your Muslim brother whether he is an oppressor or the oppressed one."
People asked, "O Messenger of Allah! We shall help the oppressed ones but how is it possible to help the oppressor?" He replied,
"Hold both the hands of the oppressor so that he cannot oppress. If you do it, it is as if you have helped him and such an action is a help to your brother (in faith)."
Helping a person who is not a professional oppressor
It is permitted to help an oppressor (in acts other than his acts of oppression) if rendering this help can discourage him from his oppression.
If however, helping him has no effect on his oppressive activities then from the point of view of Nahy anil Munkar (forbidding evil) it is Haraam to help him.
We must not co-operate in sinful deeds
It is also Haraam to help an oppressor whose oppression is not directed to others; but he is unjust to himself. For example to omit prayers and avoid fasting, to drink wine, commit adultery, gambling etc. Every type of sinner is being unjust to himself. Hence helping him in being unjust to himself is also prohibited. One who helps him is his partner in sin. The Almighty Allah has mentioned:
"Help one another in goodness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and oppression, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is severe in requiting (evil)."
(Surah Maidah 5:2)
Sin (ithm) is limited to the one who commits it and aggression (udwaan) affects others too.
All the proofs and arguments that are applicable to the obligation of forbidding evil also apply here.
Helping in Sin
To help in any condition required in a sinful act is Haraam.
(1) For example to sell grapes with the specific purpose of making wine.
(2) A person may help in some way without the intention of helping towards a sinful act, for example, he may sell grapes to a wine-maker without the intention of this being used for making wine, but if there is no other source available for the wine maker to procure grapes, then the selling of grapes by this person is haraam, because it would directly contribute to the manufacture of wine.
source : GREATER SINS by Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)