Life is Shortened
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says in one of his sermons: -
"I seek refuge from the sins which cause the hastening of death."
Someone asked him, "Maula, Is there any sin by which the death is hastened?" He replied,
"Yes, the breaking up of the family ties."
Families who live with co-operation and care for each other are given increase in sustenance by Allah and those who remain divided and are aloof from each other, Allah removes the bounty from their sustenance and their lifespan shortens even if they are all pious (in other respects).
Death Due to Qat-e-Rahmi
A companion of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) complained about the ill-treatment given to him by his relatives,
"My own brother as well as my paternal cousins are harassing me. They have snatched the house that rightfully belonged to me and have given me only a room to live in. If I complain to the government, I shall be able to recover all my property.
Imam (a.s.) said,
"Be patient, everything will be alright."
The man returned satisfied. In the year 131 A.H. there was a terrible plague. All the relatives of the man perished. Thereafter when he arrived before Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), he (Imam a.s.) asked,
"How are your relatives?"
The man said, "By Allah all of them are dead." The Imam (a.s.) said,
"Their deaths have been due to their ill-treatment and Qat-e-Rahmi of relatives like you, not recognizing your right and cutting off relationships."
Bereft of Divine Mercy
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"When people claim to possess knowledge but do not act upon it, when they claim to profess love but harbour malice in their hearts and sever relations, in such a condition Allah removes mercy from them and makes them undiscerning to logic.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Among the various sins, injustice and cutting off relationships are such that one who commits these is punished in this world itself. Apart from this the punishment for these sinners has already been prepared in the Hereafter."
At another occasion the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has informed:
"One who severs relationships will not enter Heaven."
Jabir Ibne Abdullah Ansari (r.a.) has related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) that he quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as follows:
"Jibraeel (a.s.) has informed me that even at a distance of a thousand years man will be able to smell the fragrance of Heaven , but one who disobeys his parents, the one who breaks ties with the kith and kin, or the aged adulterer will not be able to smell it. In fact, the fragrance of Paradise will be felt even at a distance of two thousand years, but not by those who disobey their parents and those who break ties with the relatives."
The exalted Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.s.) has also informed that the invocation of the person who breaks family ties shall not be answered. "In the chapter on the merits of Shab-e-Qadr the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated that in the night of Qadr Allah forgives the sins of all the people except of those who drink wine, who disobey their parents, and those who break ties with the relatives or harbour enmity towards the believers."
Kindness to Relatives is Obligatory
The Almighty Allah says in the Quran:
"...and be cautious of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship;"
(Surah Nisa 4:1)
According to Imam al-Baqir (a.s.), the notable point in this verse is that the fear of Allah is mentioned alongwith the fear one should have about breaking relations with kith and kin.
In the book Al Kafi there is a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He says:
"The relatives in this Ayat, include all, and not only the nearest ones. Certainly Allah has ordered kindness towards all the relatives. Allah has given so much importance to this deed that he mentions it with his exalted name."
Kindness to Relatives is Commanded in the Same Way as Namaz and Zakat
It is related from Imam Ali-ar-Reza (a.s.):
"Allah has ordered three things along with three others, in the glorious Quran:
1) Namaz is ordered along with Zakat. If one offers Namaz but does not pay Zakat (when it is due upon him) then his Namaz will not be accepted.
2) Allah has ordered thankfulness to Himself along with the thankfulness to one's parents. If one is not grateful to one's parents it is as if he has not been grateful to Allah.
3) Allah has ordered piety along with kindness to ones kith and kin. Then one who is not kind towards the relatives is not pious."
Rights of the Relatives and the Ease in Reckoning
The Creator of the Universe, Almighty Allah remarks in the Holy Quran:
"Certainly Allah orders equity, kindness (to people) and the giving (of what they need) to the relatives."
(Surah Nahl 16:90)
In Surah Raad is the following verse:
"And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
The expression 'reckoning' in this Ayat denotes the accounting of one's deeds with regard to his duty of kindness towards relatives. This Ayat shows that kindness towards the kith and kin shall be an important factor to ease the difficulty of the accounting for one's deeds.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains as follows:
"Kindness to relatives makes the reckoning (of the Hereafter) easy."
The Inimical Relative of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) made a will in his last moments:
"Pay seventy Dinars to my paternal cousin Hasan Aftas."
He was asked, "Master you are making a gift to someone who has attacked you with a sword?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Do you think I should not be included among those concerning whom the Quran says:
'And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning…"
(Surah Raad: 13:21)
Allah has created Paradise, purified it and made it fragrant. Its fragrance is felt at a distance of two thousand years (of travel). But the one who disobeys his parents or breaks ties with the kin will be so far away from Paradise, that he will not even experience its fragrance.
Traditions Regarding Kindness to Relatives
There are numerous traditions to the fact that Sileh Rahmi is obligatory. In one of such traditions Imam Baqir (a.s.) relates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"I will (command) all the people of my Ummat, whether present or not, and those generations which are to come till the Qiyamat, who are still in the loins of their father and wombs of their mothers, that they should be kind to their relatives (and visit them) even if they live at a distance of a year's journey. Because kindness to relatives is one of the commands which is made an integral part of the faith (Imaan)."
One Who is Kind to the Relatives Will be Able to Cross the Bridge of Siraat Smoothly
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) relates from Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (r.a.) who quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to have remarked:
'Siraat (the bridge passing over Hell that everyone has to cross) will have on each side (of it) 'Sileh Rahmi' and 'Amanat' (keeping a trust) one who performs the act of Sileh Rahmi and maintains trusts (Amanat) shall be able to cross the 'Siraat' easily and will reach Paradise.
None of the good deeds will benefit those who have broken ties with relatives or committed breach of trust. They will slip from the bridge of 'Siraat' and drop into Hell-fire.
The Worldly Benefits of Kindness to Relatives
Numerous reports (Rawayaat) testify that Sileh Rahmi (kindness to one's relatives) also has worldly benefits. Like, increase in the life-span, postponement of death, increase in the number of descendants etc., Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) related three traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the court of Mansur Dawaniqi (l.a.).
1) "A man who has only three years of life remaining, performs an act of kindness to his relatives and Allah increases his life by thirty years. In the same way a man has thirty years of life but due to his breaking off the ties of relationship, his (remaining) life is decreased to three years. Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said: Whatever Allah wills He erases and whatever He wills He writes.
It means that if Allah wills He can alter (certain destinies) due to one's actions and deeds."
2) "Fulfilling the rights of kith and kin increases the life-span even if the relative is a sinner."
3) Sileh Rahmi (kindness to relatives) is a cause for the easy accounting of one's deeds on the day of Qiyamat and it (Sileh Rahmi) protects one from sudden death."
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has told Maysar:
(O' Maysar) the time of your death has arrived many times but Allah has postponed (your death) due to your kindness to the relatives and good behaviour towards them.
'Sileh Rahmi' Prolongs Life
It is reported from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said to Maysar,
"O Maysar, truly your lifespan has increased, what good actions have you been performing?"
Maysar replied, "In my youth I used to earn from my labours an amount of five Dinars a day and I used to give these to my maternal uncle."
Yaqoob Magribi was once in the presence of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) said,
"You and your brother had an argument over the ownership of a house. So much so that you abused each other and broke up the ties of relationsip. Such a thing is not from my religion, neither is it from the religion of my ancestors. Then fear Allah , the One Who is without any partner. Fear the Divine Punishment. Due to this sin, death shall soon separate you (two). Your brother will die in this journey and you shall regret you actions."
The man asked,"May my life be sacrificed upon you, when will I die?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Your death had also arrived but you did an act of kindness to your father's sister (your aunt) and thus your lifespan increased by twenty years (or months)."
As Imam (a.s.) has predicted, Yaqoob's brother died before he could reach home and was buried on the way.
The Benefits of Sileh Rahmi in the Hereafter
The practice of Sileh Rahmi (kindness to kith and kin) accrues worldly advantages, spiritual benefits and bounties of the Hereafter.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq says:
"Sileh Rahmi perfects the morals and encourages charity. When one performs Sileh Rahmi he has to be benevolent towards his relatives. The continuous practice of Sileh Rahmi brings refinement in his morals. In the same way repeated acts of kindness inculcate a benign and compassionate feeling in the person, and the soul is purified (from the sin of jealousy and enmity).
Sileh Rahmi Causes All the Good Deeds to be Accepted
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states:
Sileh Rahmi (kindness to relatives) purifies deeds. Purification of deeds means, that the shortcomings in all the good deeds of a person practicing Sileh Rahmi are naturally compensated and all his good deeds are accepted by Allah.
It increases wealth, wards off difficulties and calamities. The accounting of your actions on the day of Qiyamat is made easy. Even the ordained time of death is postponed.
Extending Hand of Friendship Towards Those Who Want to Break the Ties (Qat-e-Rahem)
Imam Sajjad (a.s.) says:
There are two actions, towards which, a step taken is liked by Allah more than anything else. One is the step taken to join a row formed in the name of Allah (for Jehad or Namaz); the second is the one taken to extend a hand of friendship towards kith and kin who want to break relations.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Certainly there is a section in Paradise which can not be attained except by three kinds of people. First the just Imam, second, the one who does Sileh Rahmi, and third the one who has family (and children) but remains patient (in poverty and difficulties).
The Reward of Sileh Rahmi
The reward for Sileh Rahmi has been described by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in one of his traditions. He says:
"When a person goes towards his relatives so that he can fulfill his rights with his life and his wealth, Allah bestows upon him the reward of a martyr at every step he takes. He (Allah) writes down forty thousand Hasana (the unit of Divine rewards) and He erases forty thousand of his sins and He elevates him by forty thousand grades. The person achieves the position of one who has worshipped Allah for a hundred years."
At another place the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says, regarding the rewards for Sileh Rahmi:
"The reward for Sadaqah in the way of Allah is ten times, whereas the reward for giving a loan is twelve times (because in giving a loan the dignity of the Loanee is maintained). The reward for the good behaviour to the believing brothers is twelve times and the reward for Sileh Rahmi is twenty four times."
The Meaning of Sileh Rahmi and Qat-e-Rahmi
The Shariat of Islam has not provided any fixed definition for these two terms. In this case the meaning as judged by common sense and reason must be accepted. We must consider all the relatives from the father's side and mother's side, irrespective of whether they are close or distant, to be our kith and kin who have a right on us. In the same way the children of the daughters and their descendant also come in this category as the Quran says:
'Those who join together (do Sileh Rahmi) those things which Allah has commanded to be joined."
(Surah Raad 13:21)
Urwah Ibne-Yazeed asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) the meaning of this Ayat (Surah Raad 13:21), the Imam (a.s.) replied;
"You have been commanded to do Sileh Rahmi towards all your relatives. Whether they are Mehram (in the prohibited category of marriage) or Namehram, (not in the prohibited category) whether they are distant relatives or closely related, whether they are immediate relatives or separated by several generations."
No Discrimination Between the Affluent and the Poor Relatives
It is generally observed that people tend to behave graciously towards their wealthy relatives and avoid the poor ones. The faith of Islam does not differentiate or discriminate between the rich and the poor relatives. What is important is the closeness of relationship. The more closely a person is related to you, the more important and necessary it is to fulfill his rights.
What is Sileh Rahmi?
Any behaviour which is generally regarded by people as good, kind, gracious or obligatory, when directed towards your relatives is Sileh Rahmi.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The kindness towards relative and goodness towards the believing brother makes easy your reckoning on the Day of Judgement and protects you from sins. So you should be kind to your relatives and be good to your believing brothers even if it is as little as a sincere 'salaam' (salutation) or a hearty reply to a salaam."
At another place the Sixth Imam (a.s.) remarks:
"Do Sileh Rahmi towards your relatives and the near ones even if it is just by offering a glass of water to them."
The Different Grades of Sileh Rahmi
Shaheed-e-Thani1 (r.a.) describes the grades of Sileh Rahmi in the following words:
It is deduced from the traditions that the highest stage of Sileh Rahmi is to consider the relatives as our own selves. That is, we should wish for our relations whatever we wish for ourselves.
The next stage of Sileh Rahmi is to help relatives overcome the difficulties and hardships they may be facing. Next, we must earnestly try to benefit our kith and kin as much as possible, in areas where they need help and of course in a manner permitted by religion. This benefit can be either economic or by way of making a person independent, by securing for him a job or initiating him into a trade. It can also be in the form of a sound advice, spiritual guidance and religious teachings.
The fourth stage of Sileh Rahmi is towards those people who are dependents of our relatives. For example, the brother's wife or the step-mother.
The simplest kind of Sileh Rahmi consists of salutations, a lesser kind is the conveying of Salaam (through someone). The smallest kind of Sileh Rahmi is to pray for relatives in their presence and to encourage them.
The Difference Between Breaking Relations With Nearest Kin and With Distant Relatives
Qat-e-Rahmi and Sileh Rahmi with respect to the close kith and kin could be different from that with the distant relatives. It is possible that a certain action or attitude towards close relative would amount to Qat-e-Rahmi but the same towards a distant relative may not be regarded as such. Also a certain behaviour with a knowledgeable and a pious relative may be termed as Qat-e-Rahmi but with respect to other relatives it may not be so. It is best to refrain from every act that could possibly amount to Qat-e-Rahmi. We must observe keen precaution in this matter lest we bring upon ourselves the severe punishment of a Greater Sin.
Arrogance Towards Poor Relatives is Qat-e-Rahmi
The ones most guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi are the rich and affluent who do not acknowledge their connections with their poor relatives and deal with them with pride and arrogance, while they are gallant and kind to their wealthy relatives. To neglect one's duty and give importance to material possessions, contradicts the laws of Islam both in the letter and spirit.
What is the Least Amount of Sileh Rahmi That is Wajib
Every kind of Sileh Rahmi, the failure of which is viewed as a sort of Qat-e-Rahmi, is obligatory for us. For example, if a person is unable to fulfill his needs due to poverty or is unable to get medical aid for any reason, or is in debt; and heapproaches a rich relative for help; it is obligatory on the rich person to help him. Even if the rich person is not approached directly but comes to know the predicament of his poor relative, it is obligatory on him to help this less fortunate relative. The wealthy man who fails to carry out these obligations will be guilty of Qat-e-Rahmi.
It is however not obligatory for a person to help his poor relative if he himself is not in a sound position to do so and fears that his finances will be constrained or that he himself may become a destitute. Also, Sileh Rahmi is not obligatory, if by doing so he will violate the laws of Islam. For example one need not pay a visit to a relative, if by doing so one would be in the midst of Na-mehram or may be compelled to hear music.
Sometimes we may be in doubt whether a particular action could be considered as Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi. In this case the reference point is to see how the people in general view it. The criteria for deciding that a particular behaviour is Sileh Rahmi or Qat-e-Rahmi therefore depends on the general feeling for it. If a small lapse like not saluting or non-compliance with a small request is Qat-e-Rahmi according to those around us, then it is so. By the same token if observing small niceties are considered as Sileh Rahmi, then it is so.
Sileh Rahmi With Certain Relatives is Mustahab if Not Wajib
At times some obligations towards distant relatives are not considered Sileh Rahmi and accordingly are not Wajib (obligatory) for us. But these obligations are bound to be Mustahab. In any event, it is best to conduct ourselves in a manner that we totally eliminate the risk of committing a Greater Sin.
Breaking Ties Even With Those Who Wish to Break Up Ties With us is Haraam
Although one would not be at fault from a worldly point of view, according to Shariat, breaking ties even with those who want to do so is Haraam.
It is natural for a person who, finding that his relative does not acknowledge him nor fulfills his rights, reacts by remaining aloof and allowing the bonds of kinship to be broken.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Do not break ties with your relatives even if they break them with you."
The Order of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) Regarding Qat-e-Rahmi
Abdullah Ibne Sinan says that I pleaded to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "I have a cousin, I do Sileh Rahmi (kindness) towards him and do not wish to break ties with him. But he wants to break ties with me. (Master!) I want to maintain relations but he wishes to sever them. Due to this behaviour of his I am also inclined to cut off ties with him. Can you permit me to do so?"
Imam (a.s.) replied:
"(Remember) If you behave kindly with this relative of yours inspite of his Qat-e-Rahmi (then it is possible that one day this will affect him and he too will begin to fulfill his obligations). In this way the Mercy of Allah shall be upon both of you. But if you break ties with this cousin of yours then neither of you shall be eligible for the Mercy of Allah."
Goodness in Return of Ill-Treatment
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If any one betrays trust with you, do not betray trust with him or you will also become like him. Similarly, do not break ties with your relatives even if they do so."
It means that if we reciprocate the malice of a relative we shall also be like him (i.e. sinful). In the same way the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has invited us to perform kindness in lieu of misdemeanor. He remarks, "Do you wish me to tell you (about those qualities) which shall benefit you in this world as well as Hereafter?"
The people said, "O Prophet of Allah! Please do so."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"The three such qualities are, firstly, to do Sileh Rahmi with one who does Qat-e-Rahmi with you. Secondly, fulfill the needs of one who has deprived you. Thirdly, forgive those who have oppressed you."
Breaking of Ties With the Muslim and the Kafir Relatives
The traditions of the Masumeen (a.s.) leave no doubt whatsoever that the fulfilling of the rights of one's relatives is obligatory. Whether the relatives are Shia or Sunni, pious and religious or sinful and transgressors or whether they are Muslims or Kafirs. It is compulsory to perform Sileh Rahmi with them. Even if a Muslim relative apostises and becomes a kafir, his rights are not invalidated.
Ibne-e-Hamid enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "My relatives are not of my religion. Are any of their rights upon me?" Imam (a.s.) gave the following reply:
"Why not? The rights of the relatives do not become invalid for any reason (even if the relatives are unbelievers) but if the relatives are Muslim then their rights are twice as much. One is due to their being relatives and second because of their being Muslim."
Dawood Raqqi the Companion of the Sixth Imam (a.s.)
Dawood Raqqi says: "I was sitting in the company of Imam (a.s.) when Imam (a.s.) himself started speaking and said:
"Dawood, on Thursday the report of your deeds was presented to me and I saw among your deeds the Sileh Rahmi which you have performed with your cousin (brother), I was very pleased. However, I know that this Sileh Rahmi of yours will (because of his Qat-e-Rahmi towards you) be the cause of his early death."
Dawood, the companion of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: "My cousin used to bear enmity towards me. He was an evil person. When I came to know about his destitution, I went to Makkah and gave him some money so that he could manage himself for some time. It was this action of mine about which Imam (a.s.) was informed and he told of it on my return to Madinah."
The Behaviour of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) Towards His Inimical Relatives
Certain relatives of the Holy Imam (a.s.) not only failed to acknowledge his rights but even bore enmity against him in their hearts. Although the enmity against Imam (a.s.) makes him a disbeliever. Yet Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) willed that seventy Dinars be given to Hasan Aftas. Hasan Aftas was an evil person and had such deep malice against Imam (a.s.) that he had once tried to attack Imam (a.s.) with a sword. The goodly behaviour of Imam (a.s.) towards his enemy was due entirely to his relationship.
Conversation of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) With Abdullah Hasani
Once Abdullah Hasani, a relative of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) met him on the streets of Madinah. He had a meaningless argument with Imam (a.s.) and spoke ill of him. Imam (a.s.) replied to this misbehavior in the best way. He went to the house of this person the very next day and said, "Yesterday I recited the following Ayat of the Quran,
"And those who joined that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning.
(Surah Raad 13:21)
I became very fearful because of it." Abdullah understood that Imam (a.s.) was intending to correct him. He began to weep and said, "I have willfully forgotten this verse. After this, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Abdullah embraced each other.
The Grief of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) on the Oppression upon the Descendants of Imam Hasan (a.s.)
When Mansoor Dawaniqi arrested and imprisoned Abdullah Mahej and other Hasani Sadaats, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was grief-stricken. Although the Hasanis were opposed to Imam (a.s.), the Imam's (a.s.) distress was such that he was confined to bed for twenty days. He wrote a lengthy letter to them to express his sorrow and to offer comfort and consolation. He sent this letter to the prison of Kufa and was in regular contact with them to know their well-being. Often he wept on their imprisonment.
It Does Not Matter if We Are Kind to Certain Relatives Who Are Not Muslim
It is simply clear by now that for Sileh-Rahem and Qate-Rahem, the Shariat does not distinguish between a Muslim and a Kafir or between a pious and a sinful person. At the same time we also know that Islam exhorts us to shun infidels and to dissociate with them. These contradicting views will cause some confusion in our minds and a word of explanation is in order.
Undoubtedly Islam orders us to detest kafirs, hence it is improper to behave well with them. Good behaviour towards a Kafir is an outward act and at a social level. While hating him for being an Kafir is how you feel and think about him at a spiritual level. Since Sileh-Rahem is obligatory, we must behave well with our Kafir relatives, but at no stage should we be oblivious of the fact that they are non-believers and deserve to be hated for being Kafirs.
Sileh Rahmi to Kafir Relatives Should Not Encourage Them in Their Disbelief
If Sileh Rahmi towards a Kafir relative, in some way, strengthens his conviction towards his own religious views; or if Sileh-Rahem towards a sinful relative provides him with opportunity and encouragement in his unlawful ways, then this kind of Sileh Rahmi is forbidden. In fact, if Qat-e-Rahem induces a disbeliever to introspect and reconsider his disbelief, then, Qat-e-Rahmi is obligatory on us. In the same way Qat-e-Rahem is obligatory if it discourages or dissuades a relative in his sinful ways.
Dissociating With the Enemies of Islam
There is another situation where Qat-e-Rahem is Wajib (obligatory). That is when the kafir or sinful relative harbors malice towards the religion of Islam. Allah says in Surah Mujadila:
"You shall not find people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons or their brothers or their kinsfolk..."
(Surah Mujadila 58:22)
This verse clearly indicates that one must abstain from Sileh Rahem towards even the closest of relatives if they are inimical towards Allah or the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or the Islamic faith.
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib if the Relative is not Overtly Inimical
A Quranic verse from the chapter Mumtehana says:
"Allah does not forbid you from respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly, surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah only forbids you from respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up others in your expulsion, that you make friendship with them and whoever makes friends with them, these are the unjust."
(Surah Mumtehana 60:8-9)
Thus it could be concluded from the above two verses that if a relative does not openly oppress us or exhibit enmity, then Sileh Rahmi is Wajib towards him.
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib Even if One Has to Travel Far to Perform it
It is highly recommended to fulfill the duty of Sileh Rahmi even if one has to roam a long distance to do so. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told Ali (a.s.):
"O Ali! Even if you have to travel for two years to do good to your parents, do it, even if you have to travel for one year to perform Sileh Rahmi to your kinsfolk, do so. Even if you have to journey a mile to see a sick person, do it. Even if you have to walk two miles to attend a funeral, do it. Even if you have to travel four miles to meet a believing brother, do it."
Traditions have stated, as mentioned earlier, that for every step a person takes to visit his relatives, he gets forty thousand rewards, forty thousand of his sins are forgiven and his status is raised by forty thousand grades.
Maintain Cordial Relations But Do Not Reside Close to Each Other
Amirul Momineen (a.s.) writes a letter to one of his officers,
"Order the relatives to visit each other but ask them not to reside in the same neighborhood."
The late Scholar, Naraqi, explains in his book, 'Meraj us Sadaat': "Staying next to each other breeds malice and jealousy and results in Qat-e-Rahem."
It is much easier for relatives to maintain harmony and goodwill by staying apart from each other. Proximity often results in friction and enmity.
There is a Persian proverb that says that distance and friendship are proportionate to each other.
Sileh Rahmi With the Spiritual Father
We are indeed indebted to our parents for our physical, mental and spiritual development. But mankind could not have been guided right, without a spiritual father. The essence of spiritual guidance which consists of rules of conduct as approved by Allah have come to us only through the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and it was the sustained and unsparing effort of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) which guided mankind to the path of salvation and eternal happiness. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was the spiritual father of the Muslims in his time and later Ali (a.s.) took his place. It is only through love and obedience to them that one can hope to achieve spiritual eminence.
This is corroborated by the statement of Allah to the effect that whoever enters the 'fort' (protection) of these exalted personalities, his spiritualism becomes evident in his behaviour. The doors of knowledge and awareness are open. The fountain of sagacity flows in his heart and the reality becomes manifest for him.
The Advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) - A Fabulous Blessing
It is not possible for a man to achieve spiritual excellence without the love and obedience of a spiritual father.
"Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when he raised among them an apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:164)
This verse signifies the importance of the advent of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by Allah for the guidance of mankind. We must acknowledge it as the greatest blessing of Allah and a favour that He bestowed upon His creatures.
The Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the Worldly Comforts and Blessings
Yunus Ibne Abdul Rehman told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The love and Wilayat of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) has been prescribed as your right upon us by Allah. I consider this blessing to be much superior to the worldly blessings."
Imam (a.s.) was distraught and he replied:
"You have made an inappropriate comparison. What are the worldly blessings? What is it more than eating, drinking and dressing? And you compare all these transient things with our love which is an everlasting reality?"
We have seen in the discussion on the rights of parents, that we can be 'Aaq' of our spiritual fathers if we fail to fulfill their rights. Not all of us may be capable of fulfilling this duty to the fullest extent. But we should sincerely try our utmost to obey their commands. At the same time we should be fully aware of our deficiencies and failings and continually implore our infallible guides to pardon us.
Who Are the Spiritual Fathers?
Sileh Rahmi is Wajib and Qat-e-Rahmi is Haraam towards our spiritual relatives also. Our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Imams (a.s.) are our spiritual fathers. So, the descendants of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.), that is the Sadaat, are our spiritual relatives. Also, since the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) are the spiritual fathers of all believers and Shias, we all are related to each other, and are like brothers of each other.
"Certainly the Believers Are Brothers of Each Other."
(Surah Hujarat 49:10)
The verse clearly indicates that everyone is somehow related to a common spiritual father.
Rights of Sadaat
Allama Hilli in his book 'Qawaidul Ahkam' counsels his son Fakhrul Muhaqqiqain in the following words:
"You should practise Sileh Rahmi with the pure descendants of the Sadaat also. The Almighty Allah has emphasized upon this duty so much that he has made the love of relatives of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as a compensation of the prophetic mission."
"...Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives...."
(Surah Shuara 42:23)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"I shall intercede for four types of people even if they carry the sins of all humanity."
1) A person who has helped my descendants and progeny.
2) A person who has spent his wealth upon my descendants when they were in need.
3) A person who has loved my Progeny with his tongue and his heart.
4) A person who has considered the wants of my descendants when they were surrounded by enemies and were homeless."
Does Anyone Have a Right Upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)?
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"On the day of Qiyamat a caller will announce, 'O people, keep silent, because Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is to say something to you.' Then the Messenger will arise and say, 'O people! If anyone of you has any right or favour upon me, or if there is any obligation upon my neck then he should stand up. I will see that he is compensated.' The people will reply, 'May our parents be sacrificed upon you. What right? What favour? And what obligation? Rather the rights and favours are of Allah and His Prophet upon all the creatures.'
Goodness to Sadaat and Paradise
Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) shall say:
"No, they do have a right. Whoever has provided shelter and help to anyone from my Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) or did good to them or gave them clothes in their need or fed them when they were in need, should stand up so that I can recompense him."
Some people who had performed such deeds will arise. Then the voice of the Almighty shall be heard. "O Muhammad, my loved one! With due regards to your position I have fixed the reward for their deeds. They shall be given whatever position you intend for them in Paradise." Then Allah shall give them a place near the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and his Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) and there would be nothing to obstruct their view."
Rights of the Brothers in Faith
There are numerous traditions in connection with the rights of the believers and brothers-in-faith. A few of such traditions are quoted below:
Mualla Bin-Khanees asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): "What are the rights of the believing brother?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Seven rights of the believers are Wajib - If one fails to fulfill even one of these rights, he is externed from Allah's obedience. He shall not receive any reward from the Almighty."
"What are those seven rights?", enquired Mualla.
Imam (a.s.) said,
" I fear that you may fail to act upon them."
Mualla said, "La Quwwata Illa Billah." There is no power except of Allah. (He meant, It wouldn't be so).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"The foremost right is that you wish for the believing brothers whatever you wish for yourself."
Imam (a.s.) then related the other six rights,
"The second right is that you must refrain from angering him and try to seek his pleasure and obey him. The third right is that you help him with you life, your wealth, your tongue, and your hands. The fourth right is that you guide him and teach him that which is beneficial for him. The fifth, is that do not eat till satiation when your believing brother is hungry, and do not drink to satiation if he is thirsty, and do not dress nicely if he is deprived of good clothes. The sixth right is that if you have a servant you should send him to do his work. The seventh right is that if the believing brother says something on oath you should believe him, if he invites, you accept his invitation, if he is sick, visit him, if he dies, accompany his bier, if you come to know any of his needs, fulfill them it before he asks."
Sileh Rahmi with the Imam (a.s.)
Imam Reza (a.s.) has informed,
"Those who cannot come for our Ziarat must visit our virtuous followers. They shall get the reward of performing our Ziarat. And those who wish to do Sileh Rahmi towards us but are unable to do so must do Sileh Rahmi towards our pious devotees. They shall be given the reward of our Sileh Rahmi."
Respect and honour for the believing brother is the same as respect and honour for the spiritual father (Imam [a.s.]). In the same way, insult and disrespect of the believing brother is equivalent to insult and disrespect to the spiritual father, (the infallible Imam [a.s.]). It is for very reason that insulting a believer brings the wrath of Allah upon us and makes us deserving of severe punishment.
We shall conclude with the prayer that Allah may give Tawfeeq to all of us for doing Sileh Rahmi and fulfilling the rights of others.
The eighth among the Greater Sins is to usurp the property of an orphan who has not attained maturity.
This is categorized as a Greater sin by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.), Imam Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Taqi (a.s.). It is a sin, the punishment of which is fixed by Allah to be the fire of Hell.
The Quran says,
"(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire."
(Surah Nisa 4:10)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-e-Kabir that one who cheats an orphan of his property will be raised on the Day of Judgement in such a condition that the flames of fire will be protruding from his mouth, nose and ears. By looking at him people will recognize that he is the one who in his lifetime had usurped the property of the orphans. The last phrase, "They shall enter burning fire" indicates that one who deprives an orphan of his rightful property will be liable to be burnt in Hell-fire, even if he has not committed any other sin.
The Almighty Allah says,
"And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones) and do not devourtheir property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:2)
The above verse gives clearcut instructions to those who are guardians and caretakers of the orphans, on how to fulfill their responsibility. They should spend the property in their trust in a correct manner for the benefit of the orphan and without stinginess. A caretaker should be very cautious not to spend any of the orphan's money on himself. This is a very serious offence that will cause his entire Halaal wealth to become Haraam. Under no circumstances should an orphan's valuable possessions be substituted with anything inferior. Finally, when the child reaches maturity, all his property should be returned to him with complete honesty.
In the same chapter of Surah Nisa, Allah says in verse number nine:
"And let them fear who, should they leave behind them weakly offsprings, would fear on their account, so let them be waryof (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words."
(Surah Nisa 4:9)
It is mentioned in Tafsir-al-Mizan that whoever betrays the trust of orphans and oppresses them, their children will suffer a similar fate. This is an amazing reality that is revealed by the Holy Quran. Similarly in other numerous verses, the Quran informs us that the returns of our deeds are evident in this world itself. We will witness the results of our own actions. Every action has an effect on one who performs it, and we should be fully conscious of the fact that our sinful acts are not restricted to the sinner, but they come to bear on our children as well.
It is our confirmed duty to wish for others as we wish for ourselves. A good or bad action directed towards others therefore implies that we wish the same for ourselves. So, by carrying out these actions, we, in effect have prayed for it for ourselves. This prayer will not be rejected and we will be recompensed as we deserve.
The marvellous functioning of our body is the result of the co-ordination between the various composite parts and organs. We as individuals are also composite members of a large body, which is our community. Just as the malfunction of one organ in the body, causes distress in the other organs, so also whatever hurt or misery that we may inflict on another is bound to take us also in its grip. So it is, that the injustice we do to another's child will cause our own children to suffer the repercussions of our actions. It is of course another matter that the Almighty in his Infinite Mercy allows some of our good deeds to compensate for the bad actions.
"And whatever affliction befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and (yet) He pardons most (of your faults)"
(Surah Shuara 42:30)
Undoubtedly, we must dread Allah's punishment and refrain from oppressing the orphans. We have to have kind and tender feelings for them as we have for our own children. If we trample upon the rights of an orphan or do any injustice to him or her, we can rest assured that the same fate will befall our own children after our death. The verse of Surah Nisa unequivocally states that oppressing an orphan is a Greater Sin. The horrible consequences of this sin are also mentioned clearly.
Punishment for Usurping the Orphan's Property is Meted Out in This World
It is recorded from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that Allah has ordained two penalties for appropriating the wealth or property of an orphan:
"The first punishment is in the Hereafter, and that is the fire of Hell. The second one is in this world itself. As indicated by the following verse of Quran:
"And let those fear who, should they leave behind them the weakly offspring, would fear on their account, so let them be careful of (their duty to) Allah, and let them speak right words." (Surah Nisa 4:9)
Whatever has been mentioned in the Holy Quran, the same has been emphasized by Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.). Other Tafsirs of Quran also give the same explanation. Imam Ali (a.s.) states: "Certainly one who usurps the orphan's property, his own children shall be similarly dealt with in this world in the near future and he will suffer for it in the Hereafter."(Behaarul Anwaar)
Ali (a.s.) has also mentioned:
"Do good to the children of others so that good may be done to yours (after you are dead)."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has informed:
"If one oppresses someone, Allah will appoint an oppressor upon him or upon his children."
This is not Against Divine Justice
We may wonder as to why the innocent children who are not at fault and in no way responsible for the misdeeds of their parents should be the target of oppression and injustice meant for their parents. Is this not against Divine Justice?
The answer to this objection is simple. Allah does not appoint any oppressor but when someone oppresses the children, Allah does not restrain him. Allah witholds His Mercy and favour.
Bad behaviour towards the children implies that the father wishes the same for his children and also that he has not wished Allah's Mercy and favour upon his children.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated:
"If the father is virtuous the Almighty Allah protects the children."
As mentioned in the Quranic verses of Surah Kahf:
"And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father was a righteous man, so your Lord desired that they should attain their maturity and take out their treasures, a mercy from your Lord..."
(Surah Kahf 18:82)
Thus it is clear that the Mercy and favour of Allah upon the orphans is due to the righteousness of their father. On the other hand if their father had oppressed others than this would have caused them to be deprived of Divine Mercy and favour.
Tradition that Denounces the Usurpation of Orphan's Property
Umar bin Zurarah says that he enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the Greater Sins. He said:
"One of the Greater Sins is illegal appropriation of the orphan's property."
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) narrates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"On the day of Qiyamat some people would arise from their graves in such a condition that flames of fire would be protruding from their mouths."
The people asked, "O! Messenger of Allah who are these people?"
The Prophet replied:
"Those who have illegally appropriated the property of the orphans."
Imam Reza (a.s.) was asked, "What is the smallest quantity of the orphan's property the appropriation of which causes one to enter the fire (of Hell)?"
"When one consumes something belonging to the orphan without the intention of returning it to him. There is no question of less or more."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) when I was taken to the skies I decried a group of people whose bellies were being stuffed with fire. And the fire was spilling from their anal openings. I asked Jibraeel, who they are? Jibraeel replied, 'They are those who used to usurp the property of the orphans unjustly'."
The Death of a Creditor and His Minor Children
A person who has minor children and had given loans to others, and dies without making any arrangement for their recovery, will be counted as one who has misappropriated the wealth of orphans. Because after the death of the father the children become the owners of his property. However, the dead father would only be accountable for that portion of the loan which is the share of the children.
Severe Pain in the Eyes of Amirul Momineen (a.s.)
Once Hazrat Ali (a.s.) had sore eyes. The pain was so severe that he was groaning loudly. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) came to visit him and said:
"Is this sighing and groaning due to the restlessness or due to severe pain?"
Ali (a.s.) replied:
"I have never had such severe pain."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) related to him a tradition which was so frightening that Ali (a.s.) forgot his pain. The tradition is as follows:
A Frightening Tradition
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"O! Ali, When the Angel of Death (Israel) comes to a disbeliever he will come wme wa mace of fire. He will extract his life painfully. Seeing this, Hell will scream loudly (so that it may take this disbeliever to itself soon)."
Hearing this Ali (a.s.) sat up abruptly and said:
"O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.), repeat to me this tradition. I have forgotten my pain after listening to it." Then he enquired, "Will anyone's soul from your Ummat be also extracted in this way and will anyone be subjected to such a severe punishment?"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Yes! There are three types of people among the muslims whose souls shall be taken out this way. First group is of the unjust rulers. The second is of those who unjustly appropriate the wealth of orphans and the third is of those who give false witness."
Kindness Towards Orphans
Injustice and oppression to the orphans brings severe punishment in this world as well as Hereafter. In the same way kind and gentle behaviour towards them earns countless rewards in this world, as well as the Hereafter. Especially blessed by Allah are those who protect the orphans and take the responsibility of being guardians to them. Numerous traditions have been recorded concerning this. A few of these are quoted below.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who maintains the orphans, Allah makes Paradise Wajib upon him, in the same way as he makes Hell Wajib upon those who usurp the property of the orphans."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"I and one who maintains an orphan would be together in Paradise in the presence of Allah, in the same way as these two fingers are together."
And he pointed out to his index and the middle finger joined together.
According to a tradition, The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and one who maintains an orphan, will not be separated nor would there be any barrier between them in Paradise.
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"If anyone from you becomes the guardian of an orphan and deals kindly with them, and he fulfills these actions satisfactorily, and he strokes the head of the orphan with sympathy, then Allah necessarily writes good deeds equivalent to the hair covered by his hand and forgives sins equal to the number of hair, and raises his position in grades equal to the hair of the orphan's head."
Elsewhere the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has been reported to have said:
"When an orphan cries the Heaven shudders, then Almighty Allah says, 'O Angels, Is this the same orphan whose father has been buried in the earth?' The Angels reply, '(O Allah) you are the all-knowing.'
Then Allah would say, 'O My Angel be a witness. Whoever consoles this orphan and makes him happy, I will make him happy on the day of Qiyamat.'"
The caressing of an orphan's head removes callousness from the heart. There are many tradition which indicate this. However, only a few shall suffice for our discussion.
Guardian of Minor Children
The boy who has not reached the fifteenth year cannot spend from his wealth. In the same way the girl who is not yet nine years of age cannot spend from her property. A minor boy or a girl cannot spend from their wealth in any way. Only their guardian has the right to spend from their wealth for their upkeep. The foremost guardians, according to Shariat are the father, grandfather, mother and grandmother. The next in order is the one who is appointed a guardian after the death of the father and grandfather. He has the right of maintaining the orphans.
If the father and the grandfather die without appointing a trustee for the children, the legal guardian is the ruling Mujtahid or someone appointed by the Mujtahid. In a situation where a ruling Mujtahid is also not present, the Momineen shall maintain the orphans. (This is called Udool-al-Momineen in religious terminology). It would be explained at an appropriate place.
The Affairs of the Orphans Should be Conducted With Care
The guardian of an orphan shoulders a very serious responsibility. He should judiciously spend for all the needs of the orphan, neither being miserly nor extravagant.
The guardian should strictly maintain the account of the orphan's expenditure separately and club it with his own family expenses. Since it would be more convenient and economical to cook the orphan's food along with the food for the rest of the family. But the expenses incurred for the orphan must be accurately calculated. It would be highly commendable if the guardian took a little less as the orphan's share than the calculated amount. He would indeed gain Allah's immense pleasure.
At times, however, due to the dietary requirements of the orphan, it may be necessary to cook his food separately. This would certainly pose some problems. But the main thing the guardian has to keep in mind is the wellbeing of the orphan and an honest assessment of his expenses.
This has been permitted because it is easier and much more economical then having food cooked separately for the orphan. However, if there is a great difference between the dietary requirement of the orphan child and other family members, it would be very difficult to adhere to this arrangement. For example, if a child does not eat meat and rice, then it would be difficult to have his food cooked together with the main dish. The thing to be taken care of, is that the well-being and property of the orphan is maintained.
A verse of Surah Baqarah says:
"And they ask you concerning the orphan's; say: To set right for them (their affairs) is good, and if you become co-partners with them, they are your brethren; and Allah knows the mischief-maker and the peace-maker..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:220)
The above verse was revealed at a time the people were confused as to how they should handle the money of their orphan wards. The verse revealing the severe punishment for those who misappropriate an orphan's property had struck such fear into the hearts of guardians that they started cooking the orphan's food separately. They would not even touch the leftovers and allowed them to rot. They then approached the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in a dazed state of mind and the above verse was revealed.
It is evident that we must live together with the believing brother. The Omniscient Allah knows what is in our heart, and isaware of our intentions. He knows who intends to misappropriate the property of the orphans and who wants to put right their affairs.
The Wealthy Guardian of the Orphans
It is recommended that a wealthy guardian should maintain an orphan. He will enjoy boundless blessings of the Hereafter fixed by Allah for this gracious act.
As the Holy Quran states:
"...And whoever (of the orphan's guardian) is rich, let him abstain altogether (from spending of the orphan's wealth)..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The Impoverished Guardian of the the Orphans
If the caretaker of the orphan is poor, he can charge for his services. Concerning the remuneration of these services there are three legal opinions. Some scholars are of the opinion that he can charge an amount generally believed to be appropriate. The second opinion is that he must take only as much as is necessary for his own upkeep, and no more. The third view point is that he must find out the generally accepted remuneration and the expenses of his own upkeep; and charge the amount which is less. This is a precautionary measure and the most recommended one.
The Property of the Orphan Must Be Guarded Till He Attains Maturity
It is not permissible to hand over an orphan's money to him before he reaches maturity. The guardian will be held liable, if he is careless in this matter and the orphan suffers a loss as a result. On the other hand an orphan's property should be restored to him immediately, once he reaches maturity.
Signs of Puberty
Maturity is recognized by any one of these three signs:
1) The completion of fifteen lunar years for the boy and nine lunar years for the girl.
2) Growth of pubic hair.
3) Discharge of semen in boys.
What is the Meaning of Rasheed?
The Quranic verse says,
"And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect (Rasheed), make over to them their property..."
(Surah Nisa 4:6)
The maturity of intellect (Rasheed) in this connection means maturity in the financial affairs. This maturity is reflected in the child's capacity to handle his day to day needs without there being any risk of loss and wasteful expenditure. At this stage it is Wajib to hand over to the orphan his wealth and property.
In other words it is Wajib to restore the wealth and property of an orphan when he attains puberty and maturity of intellect.
The ninth Greater sin is usury. That it is classified as a Greater Sin is clear in traditions recorded from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.).
According to the glorious Quran, taking interest is a sin that incurs severe Divine punishment. The punishment for usury as mentioned in the Quran is far more severe than the punishment for other sins. It is announced in Surah Aale Imran:
"O you who believe! Do not devour usury, making it double and redouble and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful. And guard yourself against the fire that has been prepared for the unbelievers.
(Surah Aale Imran 3:130-131)
It means that the fury of the fire that is prepared for those who take interest will be just as intense as the fire prepared for the unbelievers.
The verse of Surah Baqarah says,
"Those who swallow down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. That is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury. To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, then he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah; and whoever returns (to it) - These are the inmates of the fire; they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
The above verse confirms that the usurer will remain in Hell eternally and there is no salvation for him. Allama Muhammad Husain Tabatabai, in his Tafsir, 'al-Mizan' says that the punishment ordered by Allah for usury is so severe, that such severity is not mentioned even for disobedience to any of the Furu-e-Deen. Another equally serious offence is to nurture friendship with the enemies of Islam. The direct ill-effects of usury are clear and evident. Hoarding of wealth increases the disparity between the rich and the poor. Poverty is a malady that can degrade and humiliate its victims, erode his values and destroy his morals. This in turn leads to corruption, theft and murder. Those directly responsible for destroying the social equilibrium, are the hoarders, who amassed wealth and thus it was unavailable to those who needed it. The total disintegration of the social fabric can precipitate a civil war and further a world war which brings with it only death and destruction. In the world of today with the advances of the nuclear and chemical weapons, war does not only bring death to the humans, but leaves them a caricature, sick and maimed and deformed for generations to come.
The direct ill effects on the Muslim society as a result of friendship with those opposed to Islam, are also clear and evident.
History has recorded that friendship with the enemies of Islam can only be bought at a price. The price in this case is to compromise. Compromise on the tenets, the culture and the spirit of Islam, till a time comes when the country loses its identity as an Islamic society.
Usury is Against Intellect and Shariat
The verse of Surah Baqarah which is quoted above, says that those who take usury (interest on loan) shall be counted among mad people (whom Shaitan has touched). On the Day of Judgement people will recognize them from their madness that they had been taking usury. Their sanity would be destroyed, because in this world they have acted against intellect and Shariat. They have been oblivious of humanity and the needs of humanity. They did not deal equitably with others and disobeyed the law of co-operation. Actually these people had been insane in the world, because they have followed the direction of Shaitan and performed such insane acts.
Is Trading and Usury One and the Same?
This argument is obviously foolish. There is nothing comparable between interest and trade. There is equity in business transactions because there is a mutual agreement between the two parties and both stand to gain or lose. In trading, a seller sells an article to the buyer at a price mutually acceptable to both, and the matter ends there. But taking interest is a clearcut case of exploitation. A person with surplus money, which he does not need, lends it to someone who is in dire need. The needy person agrees to pay interest which he can ill afford; not because it is acceptable to him but because of his compelling situation.
Interest and Inequality of Classes in Society
Undoubtedly, usury is an unjust and oppressive evil. It is against human nature and human dignity. It increases the riches of the wealthy and drives the impoverished to further depravation.
Understandably, the exploited poor begin to hate the rich. The pent-up hatred then finds an outlet in the form of violence and bloody revolutions.
In the book "Islam and World Peace" it is written, "Islam says that earning should be only in return of efforts and work. because capital itself cannot do any work and make any effort. Hence the wealth of the rich man should not be increased by taking usury."
Increasing wealth by usury is the easiest form of making money but Islam forbids it. Wealth cannot be accumulated by forcing the helpless poor into further destitution; and usury does just that, causing economic imbalance and trampling upon human rights, equity and justice. Maulana Sayed Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan has written a comprehensive and interesting book on usury that describes its evil effects and the arguments are supported by statistics.
The needy person ends up returning not only the amount loaned to him but far in excess of it. The excess can even amount to more than the principal amount if the repayment is delayed. Taking interest imposes an excruciating financial burden on one who is already needy and it is nothing short of blackmail. Needy people should be given loans without interest. This promotes a feeling of friendship, co-operation and charity.
Interest for Goodly Loans
To give a loan on interest not only destroys the economic balance in the society, it also inflames the feelings of hatred, enmity and selfishness.
The One Who Indulges in Usury is Deprived of Goodness
There are too many disadvantages of taking interest. The earnings of one who takes interest, loses 'Barakat' (abundance andprosperity). Whereas the earnings of hard toil have much 'Barakat'.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says in one of his traditions:
"Worship consists of seventy parts. The most important is lawful earnings."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also says:
"The truthful trader shall be counted among the prophets on the Day of Judgement. His face would glow like a full moon."
The Usurer Does Not Place Trust in Allah
Another misfortune of the usurer is that he loses trust in Allah. He does not pray to Allah to give him 'Barakat'. All his hopes are pinned upon the interest that he collects from his debtors and this is polytheism as discussed in the section on 'Shirk'.
Another point to be noted is that in normal business there is a possibility of both gain and loss. So the businessman not only puts in sincere efforts but prays to Allah for success and profit in his endeavour. An usurer has no fear of loss and feels no intuitive need to pray to Allah for his 'Rizq'. He is thus deprived of an important facet of religion.
The Reward of Giving a Loan is More than that of Sadaqah
One who takes interest is deprived of the rewards that are prescribed for giving a goodly loan. If there are ten merits in giving Sadaqah, the interest-free loan has eighteen merits. An interest-free loan is therefore more rewarding than Sadaqah in the way of Allah. A person who gives respite to his debtors and does not take interest is given a reward that is equivalent to charity of the said amount every day for the number of days that he extends. It is evident that the usurer does not qualify for such rewards. In fact he is afflicted with miserliness and greed, which only increase day by day. Surely the result of miserliness and greed is Hell.
The Fate of the Usurer
We have already seen from the verses of the Holy Quran, the sayings of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and of our Imams (a.s.) that the punishment for usury in more severe than that of other sins. We have also discussed the reasons for this. Islam classifies usury as the greatest of the Greater Sins and its punishment is the severest of all punishments. If the usurer does not repent for his acts, his end will be with the disbelievers and those whose eternal abode is Hell. The usurer shall never be released from Hell.
"To whomsoever then the admonition has come from his Lord, than he desists, he shall have what has already passed, and his affair is in the hands of Allah, and whoever returns (to it) these are the inmates of the fire, they shall abide in it."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275)
However there are certain ways to compensate for this sin and pray for forgiveness. Certain sinful acts are forgiven by just repenting sincerely. If a Polytheist repents for his sins and becomes a Muslim, a great sin like 'Shirk' is forgiven. He does not have to do anything more than that. But there are some sins that require compensation in addition to sincere repentance i.e. like the one who has Qaza prayers and fasts. Along with repentance he must perform all the prayers and observe all the fasts due on him. Similarly in the case of interest, the penitent should give back the amount that he has taken as interest from his debtors.
No Barakat in Interest
The above Quranic Ayat continues:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
Charity spreads peace, promotes beneficence and love in society, whereas usury destroys peace and hardens the hearts of the people.
When usury spreads its roots in society, people have no hesitation in usurping each other's rights. They are only driven by a feeling of enmity, hatred and a passion of revenge. A society devoid of harmony and co-operation cannot progress, it destroys itself with its own corruption. Charity and Sadaqah on the other hand promote feelings of friendship, love and brotherhood. An atmosphere of peace and prosperity prevails which inspires people to further good deeds.
War With Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
The Noble Quran says,
"O You who believe! Be cautious of (your duty) to Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers. But if you do (it) not, then be appraised of war from Allah and His Apostle..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:278-279)
The proof of one's belief is in obedience of Divine orders. The same verse continues,
"...And if you repent, then you shall have your capital, neither shall you make (the debtors) suffer loss, nor shall you be made to suffer loss."
(Surah Baqarah 2:279)
One who does not obey this command must be prepared for war with Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
Tafsir Minhajus Sadeqeen gives an explanation of this verse. It could mean that the severity of the sin of usury is such that if in this world a usurer were to come face to face with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), the Prophet's (s.a.w.s.) sword would be against him and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) would be prepared to fight him. In the Hereafter the fire of Hell shall keep him in torment by the order of Allah. The usurer must be fought till he submits to the Divine orders and refrains from taking usury. Traditional reports state that after the revelation of this verse, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) informed the Commissioner of Makkah that if the tribe of Bani Mughaira does not desist from taking usury, they must be fought against.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also said inter alia in a sermon at Makkah: "Know that the usury which has been accumulated in the period of ignorance is now condoned completely. First of all I condone the interest (that is upon your neck) of (my uncle) Abbas Ibne Abdul Muttalib."
Traditions Denouncing Interest
It is reported from Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Taking a Dirham as interest is worse in the eyes of Allah than doing illegal intercourse with Mehram women."
Imam Ali (a.s.) says:
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has cursed one who accepts interest, one who pays interest, one who buys interest, one who sells interest, one who writes the contract of interest and one who is the witness of this transaction."
Ibne Baqeer relates that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was informed about the person who took interest and considered it as permissible as mother's milk. Imam (a.s.) said:
"If Allah gives me power over this man, I would strike off his head."
It is clear that to consider interest Haraam is an article of faith. One who disregards this and says that interest is not Haraam becomes an apostate. The Imam (a.s.) can also have him killed.
Interest is Denounced in the Holy Quran
Samaa says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as to why Allah has mentioned the illegality of usury at various places. Imam (a.s.) replied:
"So that people may not forgo acts of charity (like giving interest-free loans)."
Imam Baqir (a.s.) said:
"The worst transaction is that which involves interest."
The Sinner is Deprived of Religious Faith
Zurarah says that I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) concerning the Quranic verse:
"Allah does not bless usury, and he causes charitable deeds to prosper..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:276)
"But I see that wealth of usurers goes on increasing?"
Imam (a.s.) replied,
"What could be a greater loss? That in return of a Dirham of interest he loses his faith. And if he repents of his deeds in the world all his wrongfully earned wealth comes to an end and he becomes a destitute."
The Belly of the Usurer Shall Be Filled With Fire
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"One who takes interest, his belly shall be filled with an equal quantity of fire by Allah. If he has earned more from the interest money, Allah will not accept any of his deeds. And till even a grain of interest remains with him, Allah and his angels will continue to curse this man."
Punishment of Usurers in the Barzakh
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated:
"On the night of ascension (Meraj) I saw some people trying to stand up but did not succeed because of their huge bellies, I asked, O Jibraeel, who are these people?"
Jibraeel replied, "They are those who have taken usury. Now they can only stand up like those who have been possessed by the Devils."
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) continues,
"Then I saw them herded upon the path of the followers of Firon. Seeing the extreme heat of the fire they exclaimed. O God! Then when will be Qiyamat?" (It is clear that the fire mentioned in the tradition is of the punishment of Barzakh).
Usurers Under the Feet of Firon
In another tradition it is said that when these people saw the followers of Firon they tried to get up and run away. But due to overlarge bellies they could not rise up and consequently the followers of Firon trampled them under their feet and moved on.
It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"When adultery and interest becomes common in a town the angels are given permission to destroy its inhabitants."
Another Prophetic tradition in the same vein says:
"When the people of my Ummat start taking interest, tremors and earthquakes will be frequent."
Usury is Worse Than Adultery
The Noble Messenger of Allah says:
"If a man commits adultery with his mother in the Holy Kaaba this act shall be seventy times lighter than the act of usury."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"In the eyes of Allah, taking one Dirham of interest is worse than thirty incestuous acts."
A previous tradition describes this sin to be seventy times more than adultery. There is one more report where taking a Dirham is equated with twenty such acts.
Even in today's world, the scourge of interest has spread to such a magnitude that economies are on the verge of collapse. Some economists say that interest is necessary for development. If this had been true then Islam would not have prohibited it. At the present time there are two schools of economics whose ideology is not based on interest. One is Communism and the other Islam. Whereas the foundation of imperialist economy is based upon interest. Even the Communist and the Islamic schools of economies differ greatly.
Unlike the Communists, Islamic government has never felt the compulsion to accept interest as inevitable, in order to fit the logistics of economy. And yet, Islamic economy is not known to have weakened because it does away with interest.
Yes, it is a necessity for the few selfish and greedy people who wish to add to their already enormous wealth, by increasing the miseries of the poor and the destitute. Their aim is to enslave the deprived people. We are well aware of the logic of these hoarders.
Loan On Interest
A loan on interest is one whereby a person lends something with the precondition that it would be returned with fixed increment at a fixed time. The loan given may be money or any other article, say, one loans five Mounds of rice and expects to get back six Mounds. The increment demanded may be in the form of cash or kind, labour or even a favour.
For example, one may lend money with the condition that the borrower will return the money and also carry out some household chores for him. Or a lender may lend a sum of money for a year and in return stay in the house of the borrower for a year without paying any rent. Or a person may give gold as a loan and expect the borrower to make some jewellery free of cost. Whatever is taken in excess of what was given, irrespective of its form, is interest and is Haraam. Also it does not matter whether such conditions for giving loan were stated in the beginning or decided later. It is Haraam in any case.
Some Important Points
1) A transaction involving interest is Haraam. Charging interest is Haraam and paying interest is Haraam too. So if the borrower takes money on interest and uses it and earns some profit, the actual owner of the profit is the lender. For example, if he borrows some wheat and plants a crop, the crop that grows from this, rightfully belongs to the lender. However, if the lender has agreed that his loan can be utilised in such a manner, then the profit from it is the right of the borrower.
2) If one gives an amount to a trader with the understanding that he can return a lesser amount, it is permitted. For example, he gives a thousand Tumans to a trader in Shiraz and agrees to take nine hundred and ninety Tumans in Tehran, he is allowed to do so. This type of transaction is knows as 'Sarf-e-Baraat', since there is no involvement of interest.
3) If at the time of disbursement of the loan there had been no mention of interest and the loanee wishes to return the loan amount with an increase out of his own wish, it is not Haraam. In fact it is Mustahab. It is also Mustahab to repay the loan, if possible, before its due-date or before the lender demands it. It is also Mustahab for the debtor that when repaying the loan he should add something to it with the intention of giving it as a gift to the creditor. But the intention must be of 'gift'. It must not even remotely be thought of as interest. Similarly, it is Mustahab for the creditor to accept whatever extra is given to him as a gift, not think of it as an interest, and accept it as a goodwill.
Transaction Involving Interest
If any of the following conditions are present in a transaction, it becomes a transaction of interest, and is Haraam:
1) Whatever is taken and whatever is given back are of the same material but the quantities are unequal. Or if the quantities are equal, there is disparity in quality etc.
2) When only one standard of measure and weight is employed, the amount taken and given back is of unequal measure or weight. However, at the time of borrowing if the measure of weight is kilogram but while returning it, it is Seer or Pound it is allowed. In the same way whatever was taken by the unit of measurement as metre and returned by the units of measurement as foot or yard, is valid too.
In the same way it is Haraam for a person to lend one Mound of wheat for a month and in return borrow one mound of wheat for two months from the same person. Even though the quantity is the same, the transaction is Haraam because time is also a significant factor.
Three Important Points
1) In the matter of interest, wheat and barley are considered equivalent. Then if one gives a Mound of wheat and takes one and-a-half Mound of barley, it is interest, and thus Haraam.
Similarly, whatever constitutes the same basic material is regarded as equivalent. As an analogy one may think of the roots, branches and leaves of a tree as equivalent. For example, milk and curd are equivalent, grape-vinegar and grapes are equivalent, sugar and sugarcane are equivalent too. All these have to be loaned and given back in equal quantity or it will constitute interest and will be Haraam.
2) If a person gives one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and takes back one and-a-half Mound of wheat, it does not constitute interest and is not Haraam. In this transaction one Mound of wheat shall be considered in lieu one Mound of wheat that is returned. And the remaining half a mound of wheat shall be in the lieu of the handkerchief. It is also possible that a person may give one Mound of wheat and a handkerchief and take back one Mound of wheat and some other article, for example, soap. In this way too he has not committed usury.
3) If a person first sells one Mound of his wheat for two Tumans and later purchases one and a half Mound of wheat for two Tumans, it is permitted. Since both these transactions are separate. It does not constitute usury.
It may be possible that Zaid sells a Mound of wheat to Khalid, and Khalid gives half a Mound of his wheat to Zaid as a gift. This is also permitted.
When taking interest is permitted
There are three types of people between whom the taking and giving of interest is allowed:
(1) Father and son: The father and son can enter into a transaction of interest. But a transaction of interest between mother and son is Haraam.
(2) Husband and wife: The husband and wife can charge interest from each other. For example one of them gives a hundred rupees and demand one hundred and fifty rupees in return. It is permitted.
(3) The Kafir who is not staying in an Islamic country: A Muslim can take back more but he cannot give him more. As far as the Zimmi Kafir (one who is staying in an Islamic country) is concerned it is Haraam to enter into a transaction of interest with him. Taking and giving of interest both are Haraam in this case.
The tenth Greater sin is adultery (zina) according to the traditions of Masoomen (a.s.). Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) have all described it as a Greater Sin.
In the following ayat the Almighty says:
"And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication and he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the day of resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement."
(Surah Furqan 25:68-69)
The meaning of asaam (sin) and ghayyi (sexual desires)
The book Minhaaj us-Sadeqeen states that aasaam (sin) in this ayat denotes a valley of Hell. Fornicators shall be punished in this valley. It is also said that asaam means the secretions of blood and puss from the private parts of the people of Hell. It is a black puss.
Another ayat says:
"But there came after them an evil generation, who neglected prayers and followed the sexual desires, so they will meet perdition."
(Surah Maryam 19:59)
Some traditions record that the asaam of the previous verse and ghayyi (sexual desire) of this verse are two wells in Hell. These two wells are so terrible and deep that if a stone is dropped into one of them, it will take seventy years to reach the bottom.
It is mentioned in Surah Bani Israel:
"And go not nigh to Fornication, surely it is an indecency and an evil way."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:32)
It is an evil due to which paternity is not established. It leads to corruption and mischief. The child that is born is bereft of inheritance. The child that is born and its father do not have rights upon each other like the legal father and son.
An Evil Way to Fulfill the Sexual Urge
In the book, Balahae-e-Ijtemai the above ayat is explained as follows:
"One must not even go near fornication for it is a lowly act. It is a very dirty action and leads one astray."
The seriousness of this sin as mentioned in the Quran is evident from this ayat;
"... It is an indecency and an evil way." These words clarify the Islamic point of view, which opposes all types of indecencies and carnal desires. It shows that adultery is an indecent act and an evil way of satisfying the sexual urge. The Almighty Allah has created the sexual urge for continuation of the human race. He has also created a feeling of love and physical attraction between man and woman. If this sexual urge is satisfied in a disciplined manner, the human race is assured of peace and prosperity. It must be remembered that fornication contaminates the progeny.
But when this evil becomes prevalent in a society just to satisfy the basic instincts, it leads to destruction and despair.
Also, as a result of an immoral life countless people and their children suffer from debilating, deforming and incurable diseases. Huge sums of money are drained from the budget to take care of victims and to find a cure for such diseases. Innumerable illegitimate children are born ill and undernourished; destitutes without a home and with no one to care or be concerned for them.
Page number 131 of the same book describes the evil that has spread due to sexual crimes and illicit relationships. Such destruction and evil does not have an equivalent in the 20th century.
In the highly competitive world of today, man strives to use all his assets to optimal capacity. His efforts are fully concentrated in deriving the maximum efficiency from all his inputs so that he can achieve unprecedented progress in minimum time. So it is pity to see him make a wasteland of his most precious possessions, his natural instincts and desires gifted to him by Allah for his happiness and prosperity.
Like all branches of science, nuclear and medical science has also made a progress. Vast sums of money are poured into research for discovering new drugs that may save mankind from the scourge of these diseases. Yet, the number of people suffering from debilitating maladies resulting from immoral conduct are ever on the increase. In every country, countless such people have to be hospitalised over extended period of time. They wreck their own lives and are also a burden to society.
Every country makes ambitious plans to achieve progress and prosperity. But all these development plans come to naught as millions of illicit children are born, posing a challenge to the economy of even the most affluent countries. For the poor undeveloped countries the results are disastrous. Not only are the uncared children a drain on the country's economy, they even pose a law and order problem as they grow up uneducated in a condition of abject poverty and crime. A shocking survey of data reveals the enormity with which sexual crime has gripped the world.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica a majority of Americans contract venereal diseases. America has hundreds of special hospitals for patients with venereal diseases.
The book "Qawaaneene Jinsi" says that every year thirty-four thousand novel born children die of hereditary diseases. The deaths caused by these diseases are more than the deaths due to any other cause (except tuberculosis).
The 'Kahyan Daily' (no.5356) has mentioned,
"Dr. Maulin Norjoe who practices in North London, writes in his article that every year 50000 abortions of illicit children are carried out in London. One child out of every twenty newborns is illegitimate."
The daily 'Ittelat'(no.1414) writes that in 1957 America had illegitimate children numbering 201700. There has been a five fold increase in the next twenty years. This year, unmarried pregnant women numbered 24000. It is astonishing and pathetic that a majority of them are less than eighteen years of age. In Paris, of the total of 43515 new born children, 4145 are illegitimate. In the Soviet Union, every year 17000 illegitimate children are born.
The Evil Effects of Adultery in this World and the Hereafter
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Fornication has six types of effects. Three are for this world and three for the Hereafter. The three evils which become evident in this world are:
1) The face of the adulterer loses countenance.
2) He falls into depravity and destitution.
3) His death draws near.
And the three punishments for Hereafter are:
(1) He is liable for Divine anger.
(2) His reckoning is severe.
(3) He abides forever in Hell."
Fornicator in the Barzakh
The fifth Imam (a.s.) has also said,
"Whoever commits Fornication with a Muslim, Jew, Christian or Magian woman, whether she is a slave or a free woman; and dies without repenting of his sin, then the Almighty Allah opens three hundred doors of punishment in his grave. From each door many snakes, scorpions and pythons emerge from the fire and burn and torment him till the Day of Qiyamat."
Fornicator on the Day of Judgement
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) describes the fornicator in detail and says that when he would be raised from his grave on the day of judgement he shall be in a horrible state.
The Imam says,
"When a fornicator will rise from his grave the stink of his body shall hurt the people. The people will know what deeds he had committed in the world. Till the Almighty Allah would order him to be thrown into the fire."
Then Imam Baqir (a.s.) continues,
"Know that Allah has prohibited Himself the Haraam things. He has also prescribed the rules and regulations of life. No one is more modest than Allah. It is His modesty that He has prohibited Fornication."
The stench of the Fornicator will be a nuisance for the people on the Day of Judgement
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says:
"On the day of Qiyamat a bad smell shall be released by the order of Allah. And all the people will become restless because of it. So much so that it would be difficult to breathe. Then a caller will proclaim loudly, 'O people of Mahshar! Do you know what this stench is?'
They would reply, "We do not know! However this stink is causing great discomfort", then Imam (a.s.) continued,
"It is the bad smell from the sexual organs of the fornicators who died without repenting for their sins. O people, Allah curses these people, you too invoke curse upon them." Then there will be not a single person who would not say, 'O Allah send your curse (anger) upon these fornicators'
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"After me when Fornication will increase, sudden deaths will also increase."
He also said:
"Fornication causes depravity and destitution, and because of it, populated places become deserted."
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Allah has made adultery Haraam because it causes many evil things. Murder of innocent, lack of lineage and paternity, lackof training of children and lack of proof of inheritance."
Fornication With Pure Women
The punishment for illegal sexual act with a woman is hundred lashes. The penalty of illicit sexual intercourse between a married woman and married man is stoning to death.
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"There are three types of people with whom Allah will not even speak on the day of Qiyamat. There is a terrible punishment for them. One of these three group will be of the women who inspite of having husbands commit adultery with others."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Whoever commits Fornication with a married woman, both of their sexual organs will give out such a stink that it would be felt even at the distance of five hundred years. This stench will pierce the people of Hell. And such fornicators will be subjected to the most severe punishment."
Islam Views the Problem from Every Angle
The book "Burhan-e-Quran" examines the punishment for adultery as prescribed in Islam keeping in mind the factors of human desires and sexual feeling, Islam has also enunciated the easiest ways of satisfying sexual desires and fulfilling sensual feelings. It has ordered its followers to marry at the beginning of puberty. It is the most recommended way.
The book also describes the punishment prescribed in Islam for adultery. It also discusses the way of life recommended by Islam which; if followed strictly; would minimise or even eradicate the practice of illicit relationships.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Marriage is my practice. One who forsakes this practice of mine is not from me."
The rules and regulations of marriage in Islam are simple so that there are no encumbrances in finalising a marriage. An Islamic government is bound to provide financial support to the unmarried people who are unable to marry because of poverty. In this way, youthful passions and desires are contained and illicit relationships are minimised. In order to eradicate this evil, Islam directs us to fulfill a social as well as a spiritual code of conduct. At the social level it is obligatory for those more fortunate amongst us to fulfill the needs of the less privileged. The wealthy amongst us are duty bound to take care of the financial needs of the poor. It is likewise obligatory to make a sustained and dedicated toil to educate the people for both social welfare and spiritual upliftment. Islam expects every individual to help the members of the community in whichever manner he can. The philosophy of Islam, if adhered to, can ensure the removal of poverty and ignorance which in turn ensures the removal of envies, perversion and illicit and illegal affairs associated with these. With an early marriage, the basic material needs of man are taken care of and an individual is well equipped to resist getting involved in degrading acts like adultery.
Self-control is further strenthened by practicing the laws of Islam which are encoded at the spiritual level. Islam has defined some acts of worship as obligatory. Our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) have taught us and guided us to innumerable recommended acts of worship like mustahab fasts, Mustahab prayers and Etekaf. Every prayer essentially refines a person's character and raises him to greater heights of nobility. By earnestly keeping up prayers and fasts, an individual can strengthen his inner resources and develop his spiritualism. Such an individual will have the power to exercise control over his passions and natural instincts and will not stoop to commit adultery which is declared as a Greater sin by his religion.
Islam prescribes very strict and severe laws of punishment for the wrong doers. This is necessary. It is only the severity of a law that compels mediocre individuals to abide by it. But, however severe the punishments prescribed in Islam may be, they are always tempered by Allah's Mercy and Compassion. Hadd (punishment) for adultery can only be executed if there are four just witnesses who have seen the sin being committed with their own eyes. Obviously the worldly punishment can be given only to those who publicly and shamelessly behave like beasts. It is truly amazing that even for such loathsome behaviour, Islam orders leniency in punishment. For example, only a married person who commits adultery is to be stoned to death. The punishment for an unmarried person is a hundred lashes.
The present day youth is caught in the mire of economic and moral decline. They are mentally disturbed and unstable. They believe it is advantageous to avoid the bonds and responsibilities of marriage and satisfy their natural needs with illicit relationships.
Undoubtedly, these problems have arisen because we do not implicitly practice the code of conduct as laid down by Shariat and we do not fully implement the rules and regulations as defined in Islam. Had there been an Islamic government, it would have endeavored to eradicate this immorality from the society by providing the basic needs to the poor and facilities for an early marriage.
An Islamic government would strictly ban pornography, bars, night clubs etc., all of which arouse sexual desires in people and lure them to indecencies and indiscriminations. Islam prohibits all activities that excite passions and promote shameful and degrading behaviour.
The strict laws of punishment in Islam should not lead us to think that Islam only wishes to punish the wrong doers. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evil. In fact, Islam takes a very compassionate view of sinners. On the one hand, the stern orders of punishment are strictly regulated so no injustice is done in carrying them out. On the other hand, Islam outlines a code of social obligation that creates an atmosphere of joy and dignity for all. No one in an Islamic society would be compelled by helplessness and desperation into bad conduct. It is a pity and our misfortune that we fail to implement fully our social obligations.
Islam has not ignored the punishment for the wrong-doers. Punishment is prescribed for sins in order that law and order are maintained in the society. Hadd (punishment) for adultery is prescribed only when a person performs this act shamelessly and openly, in the presence of four just witnesses. He defiles the chastity of some women and satisfies his beastly desires in the worst manner. Islam orders the punishment only when four just witnesses state that they have witnessed the actual act with their own eyes. Islam punishes the fornicator when he plays with the honour of the society. It is surprising that even in this case, Islam has been lenient with the wrong doers to a great extent. If the adulterer is unmarried a hundred lashes is his punishment. Stoning to death is only for that sinner who has a legal wife and indulges in this serious crime only to give vent to his lewdness.
It is necessary to mention this remarkable fact. In today's world, the youth is having such a state of mind that due to the economics and morals of the society they try to escape from the bonds of marriage and are attracted towards sexual perversions.
It is true that our youth is involved in economic difficulties and moral problems. But what is the root of this problems? A simple answer to this is that Islamic rules and regulations are not being followed and are not being put into practice. If the Islamic laws are fully implemented we would remain safe from immorality. If there had been an Islamic government it would have endeavoured to eradicate the lewdness and immorality from society. It would have provided the means of an early marriage. It would have also endeavoured to provide the basic necessities to the common people. It would save its youth, who are its future, from falling into the abyss of destruction.
If the Islamic government is in power, such things like shameful films, pornographic magazines, bars and night clubs would not have any existence because these things arouse the sexual desires. The Islamic law prohibits all such activities that promote sins and evils. In Islamic society, the youth is not compelled to remain celibate due to such created problems. Rather, such an atmosphere and society is created wherein all the people spend their life with chastity and dignity. Islam is not only for punishing the people. Its laws are designed to rid the society of all evils.
For this very reason, Islamic law first takes into consideration the condition and helplessness of the fornicator, and only then does it prescribe the punishment. The fornicators are divided into seven groups and different penalties are fixed for them.
1) Stoning to death.
2) Stoning and lashes - both.
3) A hundred lashes and exile from the city after shaving the head.
4) Fifty lashes.
5) Seventy five lashes.
6) "Zighas"- it means picking up the lash many times to hit once.
7) The penalty of Fornication and fine - both.
Here, we shall describe the legal rulings, according to jurisprudence and traditions, for the information of our respected readers.
1) In order to establish the crime of adultery, four just male witnesses are required or three just male and two just female witnesses or two just male and four just female witnesses. If two just male witnesses and four just female witnesses state that they have witnessed the act, and if the sinner or the fornicator does not have a legal wife, or the fornicator woman does not have a legal husband, than they are not stoned to death. They are only given a hundred lashes each.
2) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at one and the same place.
3) All the witnesses must testify that the crime had occurred at the same time.
4) All the witnesses must testify in the same sitting.
5) If four just people quote the testimony of four just witnesses it is not sufficient.
6) If four just witnesses testify that a certain woman has committed fornication, their testimony shall not be accepted if they are not familiar with this woman since they do not know her and it could be that she is the legal wife of that man.
7) If three of the four witnesses testify and the fourth one refrains from testifying, or if his testimony differs from the previous three witnesses, the three witnesses who have testified shall be punished for 'qazaf' (defaming a chaste man or woman of adultery).
8) If the fornicator confesses his crime thrice, but refrains from the fourth confession, he cannot be punished. For a penalty to be lawful, it is necessary to confess four times.
9) He must make four confessions in four different sittings. He cannot be penalised if he makes four confessions in one sitting.
10) It is not permitted for the Judge to goad the accused to confess. He must also not be prompted to complete sentences (that is, words must not be put into his mouth). The Judge must try to maintain purity, chastity and dignity among the common people and must try his utmost that the crime of adultery is not proved. The Judge must try to give such suggestions to the accused that he may be able to save himself from the penalty by falling into doubts and uncertainties. It is also the duty of the Judge to encourage the accused to plead innocence.
11) When a married man confesses of adultery four times but later pleads innocence, the penalty of stoning will not be imposed upon him. His punishment shall be reduced.
12) A new convert to Islam who is unaware of the punishment shall not be punished.
13) If the adulterer is unmarried and he is suffering from some illness, the jurist is authorised to beat him with a broom of twigs or a branch of the date palm. He should consider these as lashes. He could also beat him with a branch or broom and consider each of its twig equivalent to one lash.
14) The lashing should be so controlled that the flesh of the body is not affected. The accused can only be punished when he has committed the crime willingly. (If someone is forced to commit fornication, penalty cannot be imposed upon them ).
15) If a man mistakes a woman to be his legal wife and has sexual intercourse with her, then he cannot not be punished.This is thus the detailed analysis of the laws prescribed by the all Beneficent and the all Merciful Allah, who knows His creatures very well. He has prescribed such regulated punishments for a serious sin like fornication. Now we shall quote a tradition that proves the extent to which the saints of Allah strived to protect the dignity of the people. How much precaution they took in passing a decree of fornication.
In the time of the rule of Umar a woman came to him and confessed of adultery. She also said, "Please impose the penalty of fornication upon me."
When Umar heard this, he ordered that the penalty of fornication be executed upon this woman. Ali (a.s.) happened to be there and was surprised at this. He said, "Umar, inquire from this woman the conditions when she had committed fornication."
The woman explained, "I was extremely thirsty in the desert. When I went far in search of water, I sighted a black tent which belonged to an Arab. I approached him and asked for water. But he refused to give me any water without my having adultery with him. I did not agree to his devilish desires and ran away into the desert. My eyes became sunken and I felt as if each of my bones were breaking. I returned to this man and in exchange of a drink of water I gave my body to him."
Ali (a.s.) said,
"It is this compulsion which is mentioned in the ayat,
'...But whoever is compelled by hunger, in inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving Merciful,'
(Surah Maidah 5:3).
This woman is not at all culprit of the crime."
Then Imam (a.s.) ordered for her release and she was released.
(Burhan - e - Quran)
Adultery is the root of degradation of society in the world and eternal punishment in the hereafter. Islam has therefore prescribed some obligatory rules for our protection. Allah, in His unsurpassed wisdom made these rules incumbent upon us. If these rules are obeyed, the Muslims can protect themselves from such a serious sin.
1.The Order for Hijab in the Quran
The Holy Quran has ordered women to cover themselves in some situations.
"And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what emerge thereof. And let them wear their head coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments..."
(Surah Nur 24:31)
It is also mentioned in Surah Ahzab,
"O Prophet! Say to your wives and daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over garments, this will be more proper, that they may be known and thus they will not give trouble. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Ahzab 49:59)
In the same chapter, Allah says:
"O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other of the women, if you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he whose heart has a disease yearn and speak a good word."
(Surah Ahzab 49:32)
Another verse states,
"And when you ask them (the wives of the Prophet) any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain, this is purer for your hearts and (for) their hearts."
(Surah Ahzab 49:53)
In the above verses, the Muslim woman is ordered to veil herself. She must not come before namehram without Hijab. She should dress in such a manner that strange men do not get an opportunity to glance at those parts of her body which arouse passion; and thus make her an object of desire. It is the responsibility of a woman to assume such poise and behaviour that she does not excite a man's passions. Even a glance of lust can infatuate a man and a seemingly harmless encounter eventually lead to mischief and corruption in society, destroying entire families. In Iran, during the rule of the Shah when the law of Hijab had been revoked, the cases of fornication increased sharply. Every day many cases related to sexual crimes were heard in the courts of law. Every month many married mothers used to forsake their homes to enter into a perverse life of illicit sex. Five thousand such parents established a novel township outside the city of Tehran. The condition steadily deteriorated and came to a stage that every day approximately seven infants were found abandoned in the streets of Tehran, as reported by the commissioner. It is obvious that illicit children born as a result of fornication, whose parentage is not established, cannot create a position for themselves and are a burden to society. Due to the absence of Hijab, adultery and fornication became common and thousands of chaste women become immoral. One of the highly effective ways of protecting the society from the sin of adultery is that women wear hijab and ward off the evil glances of sensuous men.
2. Looking at the Namehram
The women are also ordered not to look at namehram men, and the men are similarly warned.
It is ordered in Surah Nur,
"Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah isaware of what they do."
(Surah Nur 24:30)
The Poisonous Arrow of Satan
It is narrated from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"An evil glance is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Many of such glances becomes a cause of prolonged jealousy."
Fornication of Organs
Both Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) have informed,
"There is no man who is not to some extent guilty of fornication. The fornication of the eyes is the evil glance, the kiss is the fornication of lips and touching a namehram woman is the fornication of hands."
It is also recorded that,
"Those who look at a namehram woman with an evil intention and fill their eyes with this sight (that is they look for a long time) Allah will, on the day of Qiyamat fill (pierce) their eyes with burning rods. They will continue in this way till Allah completes the hearing of the cases of all the people. Only after that will He order them to be thrown into Hell."
In the Chains of Fire with Iblees
That person who embraces a namehram woman will be tied with chains, together with Iblees on the day of Qiyamat. These chains shall be of fire and both of them shall be tossed into Hell together. The following are also the words of the tradition:
"One who glances at a woman, but instantly looks away at the sky or turns his gaze down; before he could remove his gaze fully, Allah marries him to a black-eyed houri and he creates such a freshness of belief in his heart that he is extremely delighted."
It is reported from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said;
"The wrath of Allah is very severe upon the married woman who apart from her husband sees another namehram man with a prolonged glance. When this woman does this, Allah the mighty invalidates all her good deeds and does not give her any rewards."
A few traditions mention that looking at a woman in hijab is also not allowed. Although it is a generally considered a makrooh act. Although there are numerous traditions that denounce glancing at namehrams these shall suffice for our purpose.
Alone in the Company of Namehram
It is Haraam for a stranger or namehram man to remain alone in company of a namehram woman when there is a risk of committing a sin, even though they may be busy in worship. In the same way women are ordered not to stay in company of namehram men when there is a chance of sinful act.
The Holy Prophet ( s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement does not remain in a place where (even) the sound of breathing of the namehram women is perceived."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"When the Prophet (a.s.) took allegiance from the women he told them to take an oath that they shall not sit alone in company of namehram men."
A lonely place means the one where there is no chance of anyone else entering or coming. Like a room, the door of which is locked from inside. Or a place not frequented by people.
Islam has prescribed severe penalty for a serious offence like adultery. Some of the aspects are given in the points mentioned below.
1) If a person commits an incestuous fornication he is to be killed according to Islamic laws.
2) If one sees that a stranger is fornicating with his wife, then he can kill both of them if he considers himself safe in doing so. But if he does not feel safe or if he does not wish to kill them, then apparently his wife is not prohibited for him.
3) If a Kafir commits adultery with a Muslim woman, he is to be killed according to shariat. Similarly, if a Muslim is punished thrice for fornication and is again proved guilty for the fourth time, he is to be executed.
4) If the person is sane, major, and legally married, and has a wife with whom he could establish sexual relation whenever he wants, and inspite of this he commits fornication with another sane, mature woman, he has to be stoned to death according to the Islamic law. And according to some Mujtahids, he must first be given a hundred lashes.
5) If a man does not fulfill the conditions listed in the above point, and if he commits fornication with a woman then his penalty according to Islamic law is a hundred lashes. Similarly, the married woman who willingly commits fornication should be stoned to death. If she is unmarried, then the penalty for her is a hundred lashes.
"As for the fornicatress and the fornicators, flog each other of them, (giving) a hundred lashes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day, and let a party of believers witness this chastisement." (Surah Nur 24:2)
After quoting the above ayat, the Journal of Anjuman-e-Tablighat-e-Islam writes:
Two points are derived from this. The first is that the punishment of the adulterer is carried out in the presence of other people. This will be a warning and a lesson to them. They will be terrified of committing the same sin after witnessing the horror of the punishment.
Another point, although its truth is not established, is that the punishment acts as a cure for the diseases of the sinner. It could be that due to the hundred lashes, the bodies of the sinners are so much heated that the germs that have entered their bodies are annihilated before they could multiply and spread.
One more point to be noted is that the germs of disease like syphilis etc. are not confined only to those who commit fornication. The spouse of the fornicator may also contract these diseases. Marriage with an adulterer is therefore detestable and is discouraged. If an adulterer man marries an adulteress woman, an innocent person is not victimised, but their deeds will definitely affect their progeny adversely. Their future generations will be contaminated with the evil of their sin and there will be some deformity or the other in their progeny. It is for this very fact that the religion of Islam says;
"The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believer."
(Surah Nur 24:3)
When Adultery is Proved According to Shariat
It must be clarified that the penalty for adultery could be imposed when the sin is proved from the viewpoint of Shariat. As it has been stated earlier, adultery is only proved if the conditions necessary for it are fulfilled. One of the conditions is that all the four just witnesses should testify unanimously as to the time and place of the crime. They must also know the woman by sight. Otherwise, there arises the possibility that the person who performed the sexual act with the woman may have been her husband.
Two Important Points
1) If a person commits adultery with a bachelor woman or the woman who is not in the iddah-e-rajai (the waiting period after divorce in which the husband can resume relation with her without another nikah), he can later marry her. But if she is married or in iddah-e-rajai, and he has had a sexual intercourse with her, he can never ever marry her legally. She is Haraam for this man forever. Even if the husband dies or divorces, she cannot legally marry the person who has committed adultery with her when she was married with another man.
2) If a man commits fornication with a woman, then her mother and daughter become Haraam for this man. That is, he can never ever marry them but they are not counted among his mehram women. Similarly, the father of the man with whom a woman has committed adultery becomes Haraam for her. There are minor differences of opinion among the Mujtahids in these problems. Any one who wishes to study further should refer to the knowledgeable jurists.
The opponents of Islam take objection to the law of Islam and support the sexual ethics of the West. They praise the sexual freedom of these countries and say that the Europeans and Americans are not hypocrites and express whatever feelings they have, freely and openly. They say that sexual desire is the legitimate desire of all human beings. If this desire is suppressed, it shall have a damaging effect upon man. These desires should therefore be satisfied so that man can rid himself of various limitations and inhibitions. He can then perform his day to day activities efficiently to achieve progress and development.
These words express the misguided thoughts of the enemies of Islam. They have forgotten the Second World War when France had surrendered to Germany in the very first attack. The German forces freely indulged in the satisfaction of their carnal passions. Even the French people began to pray for peace.
Freedom must also have a limit and must be disciplined. If the sexual drive is uncontrolled, man behaves worse than an animal. The defeat of France was also to an extent due to the promiscuous way of life prevalent in France. It is written in the book "Chun France Shikast Khund" (When France was defeated):
"When the German planes started to bomb the French cities, the Prime Minister 'Patrino' tried to contact the Central Headquarter of the air force so that additional bombers could be summoned for defence. He continously tried to phone the Central Headquarters, and each time he dialed the number of the Major on duty, each time the phone was attended by the beloved of the Major, Madam Dolly. Madam Dolly answered the phone and spoke foolishly to the Prime Minister in a demure way whereas there was bloodshed all around, and France was being converted into a sort of Hell.
As far as America is concerned, 38 % of the middle school female students become pregnant. As these girls reach high school, colleges and universities, the incidence of unwanted pregnancies reduce. These girls use their past experiences to avoid getting pregnant. American society is plagued with this evil, but its laws are unable to cope with the situation.
There is no doubt that the sexual urge is a natural instinct, but it must be controlled and disciplined. Islam does not expect the sexual urge to be suppressed, nor does it order anyone to forsake productive activities. On the contrary, Islam is against celibacy. However, Islam, as any other decent society, cannot allow for absolute freedom as seen in the animal kingdom. What Islam does is to lay down the golden rules for the satisfaction and fulfillment of natural desires and instincts such that neither the personal freedom of man is endangered nor is the peace of society disrupted.
There is no doubt that the West is far ahead in the field of science and technology and has progressed and prospered as a result of it. But their success is hollow. The excessive affluence has eroded human values and deluded them to search for happiness in immorality and perversity. Their culture deprives them of true happiness and comfort that comes with peace and stability of mind.
The women of these countries have also taken great strides. They work shoulder to shoulder with men in practically all walks of life. But many of them fail in what is their primary duty, as loyal wives and caring mothers. It is quite common to come across women having extra marital relations and neglecting their home and children. These children deprived of parental love and care in turn search for happiness by following the degraded examples set by their misguided parents and the vicious circle continues. The result is that couples just live together without being married and go their own way when they choose to. If there are marriages, they often end in divorce. The divorce rate in America today is 40 % and is on the increase. Women have come to occupy high positions in governmental and commercial organisations, but this does not solve the human problems facing these societies. It is a pity that these societies have no guidelines that will help them to realise that their well being lies in maintaining well-knit families where husband and wife care for each other, are loyal to each other and the children are secure and happy. This is what Islam aims to achieve for its followers. By upholding the laws of Islam our lives are automatically channelised into maintaining a healthy family life which provides for physical satisfaction, mental peace and spiritual upliftment, where the family members are a source of strength, solace and comfort to each other.
The eleventh sin that is classified as a Greater sin is sodomy or homosexuality. This is verified from the sayings of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam ar-Reza (a.s.). In fact it is a sin greater than adultery. Its retribution and punishment are more severe than for adultery. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has stated:
"Penetrating the anal opening is a greater sin than penetrating the vagina. Certainly Allah destroyed a complete ummat (ummat of Hazrat Lut (a.s.) because they indulged in sodomy. Allah has not destroyed even one man for adultery".
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"A person who commits sodomy with a boy will acquire such a Janabat (impurity) that even all the water of this world cannot remove it. Allah will be wrathful at him and curse him. (That is He will take away His Mercy from him and will award Hell for him.) What a dreadful place it is! Then the Heavens shudder of it. And the person who allows another to mount him from behind to commit sodomy, then Allah puts him on the fringe of Hell (in extreme heat) and keeps him there till He completes the reckoning of all the people. Then He orders him to be put into Hell. One by one he is made to suffer all the punishments of Hell till he reaches the lowest stage. Then he never comes out from there."
Sodomy is Kufr (disbelief)
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has said:
"Sodomy is a Greater Sin and carries punishment when a man mounts upon another man but does not penetrate. If he penetrates, it is kufr".
It means that one who considers sodomy legal is a Kafir, because to consider sodomy illegal is one of the requirements of faith. And one who disbelieves in any of the requirements of faith becomes a Kafir. However if anyone commits this act knowing that it is Haraam is deserving of punishment which is similar to the one meted out to kuffar, and it is eternal.
Huzaifa ibn Mansur says:
"I enquired regarding sodomy which is a Greater Sin from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.)". The Imam replied:
"To press the sexual organ between the thighs in an illegal way"
I asked, "Who is the person who commits sodomy".
Imam (a.s.) replied;
"One who has disbelieved in what Allah has revealed to his Messenger (the Holy Quran)."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was queried by Abu Basir regarding the verse:
"So when our decree came to pass, we turned them upside down and rained down upon them stones, of what has been decreed, one after another."
(Surah Hud 11:82)
Imam (a.s.) explained:
"There is no one who leaves this world while considering sodomy halaal, but that Allah hits him with one of the stones that had fallen on the people of Hazrat Lut (a.s.)."
It is reported in Wasaelush Shia that a person who believes sodomy to be Halaal and commits it several times and does not repent; at the time of his death Allah hits him with one of the stones that had rained upon the people of Lut (a.s.). His death is brought about by the impact of this stone, but people do not see it (the stone).
Punishment Upon the People of Lut (a.s.)
The Holy Quran has described three kinds of punishments that were meted out to the people of Lut (a.s.), one was a terrible scream and shriek, the second was the shower of stones that rained upon them, and the third was that the earth turned upside down. After mentioning the last calamity, it is said in Surah Hud:
"Marked (for punishment) with your Lord and it is not far off from the unjust."
(Surah Hud 11:83)
This verse is an indication that such type of punishments may even be inflicted upon those who commit similar acts (acts of homosexuality).
The Slave Who Killed His Master
In the time of Umar a slave killed his master. When this slave confessed to the crime Umar ordered him to be put to death. Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) questioned this slave,
"Why did you kill your owner?"
"He had forcibly committed sodomy with me," replied the slave.
Ali (a.s.) asked the heirs of the deceased, "Have you buried him?"
"Yes we have just come after burying him", they replied.
Ali (a.s.) advised Umar to have the slave held in custody for three days and told the heirs of the deceased to come back after three days.
A Homosexual Shall be Counted Among the People of Lut (a.s.)
Three days passed, then Ali (a.s.), Umar and some of the heirs of the murdered man went to the grave. Upon reaching there Ali (a.s.) asked, "Is this the grave of your man?" "Yes" they answered.
Ali (a.s.) ordered the grave to be dug out. Amazingly the dead body had disappeared from it. Ali (a.s.) said,
"Allaho Akbar! I have heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) saying that, 'Whosoever from my ummat commits the act of the ummat of Lut and dies before repenting for it shall not remain in the grave for more than three days. The earth will suck him inside and he shall reach the place of the dead of Lut. Where destiny annihilated them. Then that person will also be counted among them'."
Sodomy is an Indecency
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) has said;
"Refrain from adultery and sodomy, and this sodomy is worse than adultery. These two sins are the causes of seventy two ills of this life and the Hereafter."
The Quran has used the word 'indecency' for adultery in the way it has also used it for sodomy. It is said in Surah Araf:
"And (we sent) Lut when he said to his people: What! Do you commit an indecency which anyone in the world has not done before you?"
"Most surely you come to males in lust besides females. Nay you are a prodigal people".
(Surah Araf 7:80-81)
What could be more indecent than the act where man squanders away his sperms in a way prohibited by Allah instead of allowing them to reach the wombs of women to ensure the continuation of the human race.
Sodomy and homosexuality are denounced in Surah Hud, Surah Ankaboot, Surah Qamar, Surah Najm in addition to Surah Araf; so that the people are fully warned. Allah has strictly forbidden such a loathsome act.
A Lustful Glance on a Young Boy
To look upon a young boy with lust is Haraam, especially a boy who has not yet developed facial hair. The evil effects and the severe punishments for a lustful glance have already been described in the section on adultery. It is also related from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said;
"Refrain from looking lustfully at the children of rich people and slaves, especially those who have yet no beard. Because the mischief that is possible by such glances is greater than mischief of glancing at juvenile girls, who are in veil."
It is obligatory for a Muslim to control his glances and safeguard against such indecencies.
The Sensual Kiss and the Rein of Hell
It is Haraam to kiss a young man with passion. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he (s.a.w.s.) said;
"If a person kisses a young man with passion, on the Day of the Judgement Allah shall tie a rein of fire on his mouth."
Imam ar-Reza (a.s.) has remarked,
"When a person kisses a juvenile man sensually, the angels of the sky, the angels of the earth, the angels of mercy, and the angels of wrath curse him. And Allah decrees for him a place in Hell. O, what a dreadful place it is!"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"Allah shall punish for a thousand years in Hell, the man who kisses a boy with passion."
If two just witnesses testify to have seen a man kissing a juvenile man in a sensual way, the wrongdoer could be punished with thirty to ninety lashes as decided by the Qazi. This is the punishment according to Islamic law.
The traditions imply that those who perform such an act should also be punished like the adulterers, that is, a hundred lashes for each of them. However, if two women are involved the Qazi prescribes less than a hundred lashes for them.
Sleeping Together of Two People of the Same Sex
Some scholars remark that since the sleeping of two men under a single blanket without clothes is a punishable offence according to Shariat, it is also a Greater Sin.
It is therefore mustahab not to sleep together even with clothes on. Except for husband and wife, Islam prohibits any two persons who are able to distinguish right from wrong, to sleep close to each other or under a common blanket. The same prohibition applies to brothers and sisters.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated:
"Make separate bed for your children above ten years. Two brothers and two sisters and a brother and a sister should not be made to sleep on the same bed."
The Holy Prophet has thus advised us that brothers and sisters should not sleep very close to each other. If they cover themselves, they should have a separate blanket or sheet.
The Punishment of Sodomy
Since sodomy is a greater crime than adultery and its evils are worse, the punishment for sodomy is also more severe than that of adultery according to the Islamic law. Islam prescribes capital punishment for the active as well as the passive partner in the crime. If both are major and sane, both of them have to be killed. The active partner is beheaded with the sword or killed by stoning or burnt alive or thrown from a height with the hands and the legs tied. These are the ways prescribed for punishing the criminal, but it is at the discretion of the Judge to determine the method. Similarly, the method adopted for the death of the passive partner is also determined by the Qazi.
According to Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.), a person who has committed this sin must also be burnt after being killed.
As in the case of adultery, the guilt of sodomy is also proved in one of two ways. The first is that both the participants, or one of them confesses four times before a Judge. If he confesses less than four times the legal penalty cannot be issued. He is only warned and severely rebuked so that he may never repeat it. Some Mujtahids believe that the four confessions should be on four different occasions. It is also required that the accused be major, sane, free and independent. Even if he confesses four times, a minor person can only be reprimanded for the act so that he never does it again. The same applies for the slave and the insane person. Apart from this, if someone is forced into such a crime and is unable to avoid it, there is no penalty for him.
The second method of proving the crime of sodomy is that four just witnesses see it being committed with their own eyes and testify in consonance. If the witnesses are less than four, the testimony is not accepted and the penalty for sodomy is withheld. If less than four people have seen this act, they should not testify. If they do so, they shall themselves become liable for the penalty of "qazaf". This clause shall be elaborated later. If the culprit repents before the four witnesses testify, the penalty is not imposed and he is not killed. The confession or the testimony should be with regard to the penetration of the anus with the penis, only then the capital punishment is carried out. But if the two men cause ejaculation without penetrating the anus (by pressing the sexual organ between the thighs of another man or by rubbing with the buttocks), then the punishment is a hundred lashes for them.
Why is Sodomy Punishable With Death?
People, who have abandoned shame and decency so as to commit such a revolting and loathsome act of sexual perversion in the presence of other people, are like cancer for the society. If they are left alive, they will spread their shamelessness till it engulfs the entire society. This was the fate of the people of Lut (a.s.). First, Satan led one person to commit this indecency and later he invited others to the same evil. Finally, the crime reached such a gigantic proportion that among the people of Lut (a.s.), it was common to see a man mount upon another and perform sodomy right before the eyes of the onlookers. Women also had sexual relations among themselves. Allah cursed these people and destroyed them.
Homosexuality is such a hideous crime that if one does not repent and pray for forgiveness, he becomes like the one who has disbelieved in Allah. He becomes liable for eternal punishment like the Kafirs. Hence, there is no better way than to kill this person and burn the corpse.
We have already noted in the chapter on adultery that punishment in Islam for acts of indecency are severe but tempered with Allah's Mercy and Compassion. We have also discussed that Islam has formulated strict laws not just to punish the wrong doers but rather to act as a detriment for the negligent. Although capital punishment is prescribed for sodomy, it can only be administered after four just witnesses have testified to the sin being committed in their presence. The extreme degree of leniency in Islamic laws is apparent here. If an individual shows just enough decency as not to commit a filthy act in public and that too for fear of being put to death, Islam does not allow his fellow-beings to punish him. Further, if the sinner repents before the four witnesses have testified, he cannot be put to death. But if the testimony is complete, penalty cannot be reduced and the guilty has to be killed.
As far as confession of the crime is concerned, the same regulations hold as in the case of adultery. The guilty must confess four times. He must confess in clear unambiguous words and must not speak in an elusive way. The Judge must make sure that the person is sane. Also, that he is not joking and confessing to something he has not really done. All these stipulations and concessions are given to the guilty by the Almighty so that the sinner has an opportunity to save himself. If, finally the guilty is found deserving a death sentence, his death will be a lesson for others. The aim of Islam in designing these laws is not merely to punish the offenders but to reform society. Islam aims at creating a sound environment for us where we can get the best of the world and the hereafter.
A person who is guilty, he confesses and undergoes the penalty for it in this world, and thus he will have atoned for his sins and will not be subjected to the torture of the hereafter. Even so, it is better if he refrains from revealing his secrets and submits his case only before the Almighty. He should repent, weep and beg for forgiveness from Allah. Insha Allah, Allah will forgive him. However, a person should not be complacent after seeking forgiveness. While he is hopeful of Allah's Mercy, he should be in dread of Allah's retribution and must continue to implore Allah to forgive him. In this way, he will attain a degree of piety and emerge a far better human being than he ever was.
In the end we quote a tradition from Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.): "If anybody deserves to be stoned to death twice, it is the homosexual."
All the revealed religions are unanimous that sodomy must be dealt with strictly. Not only is the human race inflicted with spiritual degradation and physical illness and disabilities, it also runs the risk of extinction. The boy who is sexually assaulted, loses his manliness. Sodomy takes the society to the depths of depravity. It is therefore incumbent on men and women to marry and satisfy their sexual urge in a healthy manner, the way Nature has designed. This will ensure the continuity and the well-being of the human race.
Fire Did Not Burn the Repentant !
There is a tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) in the book Al Kafi (Section on Penal Code), that:
One day Ali (a.s.) was sitting with his companions when a man approached and said "O Chief of the Believers, I have committed sodomy with a boy, please purify me (impose legal penalty upon me) Ali (a.s.) told him, "Go home, you may have had some misunderstanding."
The next day the man returned and repeated his confession and requested for penalty. Ali (a.s.) said,
"Go home, you may not be in your sense right now."
He went away only to return the third time and repeat his confession and again asked for punishment.
At last when he came for the fourth time, Ali (a.s.) said,
"The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has prescribed three methods of dealing with the situation, you may choose any one of the three deaths - by having the arms and feet tied and thrown from the cliff, being beheaded or being burnt alive."
He said, "O, Ali (a.s.) which is the worst of these methods?" Imam replied, "Burning alive." "Then I choose this death." said the man. By permission of Ali (a.s.), he stood and prayed two rakaat prayer and then said, "O Allah ! A sin was committed by me of which You are well aware. Then I had the fear of this sin, I came to the Successor of your Prophet and requested him to purify me. He gave me a choice of three deaths. I chose the most dreadful death. I pray to you to consider this penalty as the expiation of my sin and do not burn me in the fire of Hell which is ignited by you."
Then he got up weeping and jumped into the pit into which the fire had been lit. He sat in the fire and the fire engulfed him from all the sides. Ali (a.s.) began to weep, upon seeing this condition and the other companions were also in tears.
Ali (a.s.) said, "Arise, the one who has caused the angels of the earth and the sky to weep. Allah has certainly accepted your repentance. Get up but never approach the sin that you have committed."
It so happened that the man came out of the fire unscathed. The fire could not burn the one who repented.
It is commonly agreed by the Mujtahids that if a person confesses four times but repents before the execution of sentence, the Judge has the authority either to impose penalty or cancel it. The above report also indicates that the Imam (a.s.) did not pursue the sentence. However, the sentence cannot be cancelled after the testimony of four just witnesses.
The Mother, Sister and Daughter of the Sodomist
It must be known that if a man commits sodomy with a boy (that he penetrates his anus), the mother, sister and daughter of the boy becomes Haraam for this man forever. That is, this man could never lawfully marry the mother, sister or daughter of this boy.
The twelfth Greater Sin is Qazaf. Qazaf means to wrongfully accuse a chaste Muslim man or chaste Muslim woman of adultery or homosexuality. We have the authority of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Musa al-Kazim, Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.) that qazaf is a Greater sin. The Holy Quran also speaks of the punishment for this sin.
"Surely those who accuse chaste believing women, unaware (of the evils), are cursed in the world and the hereafter and they shall have a grievous chastisement. On the day when their tongue and their hands and their feet shall bear witness against them as to what they did."
(Surah Nur 24:23-24)
The above verses clarify that those who falsely accuse chaste men or women of adultery are cursed by Allah as long as they are alive, and in the hereafter they shall be deprived of His Divine Mercy. We should maintain our distance from such people on whom the wrath of Allah has descended and be very wary not to believe their false accusations. False accusers have to be penalised in this world according to the Islamic law. Once their testimony is proved false, they can never ever testify in a court of Islamic law.
Organs of the Inhabitant of Hell
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"The organs and the parts of the body of a true believer shall not testify against him. But they will testify against the one who, after all, has to burn in Hell."
The person who accuses anyone falsely of adultery and sodomy belongs to this category. Because his punishment is Hell-fire, his organs, according to the Holy Quran shall testify against him.
Penalty for Qazaf - Rejection of Testimony and its Invalidation
It is also mentioned in Surah Nur:
"And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving eighty lashes), and do not admit any evidence from them ever, and these it is that are the transgressors."
(Surah Nur 24:4)
Three commands are issued in this ayat regarding one who commits qazaf. The first is that he has to be punished with the Islamic penalty imposed upon him. The second is that his evidence is never ever to be accepted and the third is that such a person must always be considered as unreliable and a transgressor.
Islamic society which is geared to promote the dignity and welfare of its members cannot allow a false accuser to go unpunished. This falsehood dishonours an upright person, and a society which cannot uphold the honour of its members, cannot possibly give them peace and security.
(Condensed from Burhan-e-Quran)
The book 'Islam and World Peace' mentions that in order to curb frivolous propaganda, a slanderer who cannot furnish four witnesses, is given lashes. If three witnesses testify and the fourth witness is not available then the former three are also punished with eighty lashes each. However, if a husband accuses his wife of adultery but cannot support his accusation with witnesses, he cannot be lashed. This is to avoid domestic upheavals. In this case the husband is made to repeat four times by calling Allah as a witness that his wife has committed adultery. And the fifth time he has to say that if he is lying, the curse of Allah be upon him. His wife is also given a similar right that she can say four times, calling Allah as a witness that her husband is lying. And the fifth time she has to say that if her husband is telling the truth, then the curse and the wrath of Allah may be upon her. She can escape punishment in this way. This law is derived from the sixth and the seventh ayat of Surah Nur.
Whether it is true or false it must be known that it is Haraam to accuse anyone of adultery or homosexuality till he sees with his own eyes the penetration of the sexual organ. Even after being the eye witness of this he must not testify before a Qazi till three other just witnesses testify (he must himself be just (adil) too). As stated earlier, if the witnesses are less than four, their testimony is rejected. In this case, the witnesses are considered as transgressors instead of the alleged sodomist and the fornicator, and penalised with eighty lashes each.
Those Who Commits Qazaf are not Believers
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has informed;
"One who commits qazaf is removed from the ranks of the believers of Allah and considered as a transgressor. Transgressor is also the opposite of believer as Allah himself says,
'Is he then who is the believer like him who is the transgressor?'"
(Surah Sajdah 32:18)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has been reported to have said,
"The person who accuses falsely a chaste man or a chaste woman of indecency, Allah invalidates all his good deeds (and does not give him any reward) and on the Day of Judgement seventy thousand angels lash him from the front and behind and continue to do so till the order is passed for him to be put in Hell."
Penalty for Qazaf
"And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty lashes, and do not admit evidence from them ever."
(Surah Nur 24:4)
The above verse, numerous traditions and the rules promulgated by the Mujtahids indicate that every one of the false accusers of sodomy and fornication must be lashed eighty times (provided four just witnesses are not available simultaneously). However, the following conditions should be noted.
1) The sinner must be major and sane. A minor child or an insane person cannot be punished for false accusations. Also, the major and the sane person should have made the allegation after careful consideration and not under compulsion. No penalty can be imposed on an accuser if he has made a genuine blunder or if he has made the accusation in jest.
2) One who has been accused of adultery or sodomy must possess five characteristics. First of all, he must be a major. Secondly, he must be sane and not a madman. Thirdly, he must be free and not a slave. Fourthly, he must be a Muslim and not a Kafir. Lastly, he must apparently be chaste. A person who strongly objects to being blamed of adultery and fornication or is shocked and dismayed by such an accusation is taken to be a chaste person. So if the accused does not fulfill the above conditions or is notorious for being corrupt and indecent, the accuser is not penalised for qazaf.
3) The accusation should clearly mention adultery or sodomy. If an accuser is vague in his allegations and merely hints at adultery or sodomy or addresses the accused as 'adulterer' or 'sodomist', then he can be exempted from punishment. But in this case, the accused has a right to demand action against the accuser.
Sometimes, the allegation is against someone other than the one who is addressed. For example, One says, "Your father was an adulterer! Your father was a sodomist!" In such a situation, it is the right of the father, of the one who is addressed to insist upon the penalty. The son is not directly accused but insulted in the process. Consequently, he cannot demand the sentence of qazaf against the accuser but must insist upon a lighter penalty like reprimanding or beating so that the sin is not repeated.
In the same way, if someone says "bastard" or "adulterously born!' etc., the right of having the punishment decreed rests upon the one who is actually accused. The person who is addressed can only claim a reduced penalty.
Expiation of the Sin on the Day of Judgement
A woman presented herself before the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and said, "O, Messenger of Allah, I called my maid adulteress."
The Prophet (s.a.) said,
"Have you ever seen her committing adultery?"
"No," she replied.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told her,
"Know that ! On the day of Qiyamat, some of your good deeds will be transferred to this maid and it would be the expiation.
This woman returned and handed a whip to her maid and said, "lash me" but the maid refused, so she freed her. Again, she returned to the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and related the incident. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) remarked,
"May be this action of yours will act as the expiation of your utterance and you may not suffer it's consequences in the hereafter."
Repenting for Qazaf
One who accuses a Muslim of adultery or sodomy should know that qazaf or false accusation is a sin that trespasses upon the right of man as well as the right of Allah. As far as the human rights are concerned, the one who is falsely accused can take the accuser to the Qazi. If qazaf is proved by the confession of the accuser or by the testimony of two just witnesses who testify having heard the accuser making the false allegation, the legal sentence is executed. It is wajib for the person who has committed qazaf to submit himself to the accused for trial. However, he can request the one he has falsely accused to forgive him and must try his best to do so. If he is condoned, he escapes punishment. But if he is not forgiven and nor is the sentence carried out, and the falsely accused dies, the right of having the penalty executed is transferred to the legal heirs of the falsely accused. Now it is wajib upon the one guilty of qazaf either to surrender himself to the heirs so that he may be taken to a Qazi or he could ask for their forgiveness. If the heirs of the deceased forgive, he is saved from punishment.
Samaa says that I asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the person who commits qazaf but is forgiven by the one whom he accused falsely. "If later, this person regrets having forgiven and wishes that the accuser be punished, can the punishment for qazaf be executed now?"
Imam (a.s.) replied;
"No penalty can be imposed upon him after being respited."
Samaa says that I further enquired,
"What if the man says, "O son of a fornicatress." And the one who is falsely accused condones him but leaves the matter to Allah?" Imam (a.s.) replied;
"If his mother is alive, the son does not have the right of forgiving the accuser. His mother has the right to forgive. She can exercise her right whenever she wants. If his mother has died, only then does he have the right to forgive."
It is wajib upon the accuser, that after he has received the penalty or after he has been condoned by the one whom he falsely accused that he must publicly announce that whatever he has uttered is absolutely false. For example, he should say, "I had accused this person of fornication. It was a false accusation." His announcement should be to the extent that those who have heard the false accusation must hear his confession too.
In an authentic report Ibne Sinan asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "If a person makes a false allegation and undergoes the Islamic punishment and also repents. Can his evidence be accepted in future?" Imam replied,
"If he repents and his repentance consist of taking back the words he has uttered and confesses before the Imam (a.s.) and the Muslims to have uttered a lie... Then it is incumbent upon the Imam to accept his evidence and consider him just."
The book Al Kafi and Al-Tahzeeb contain other reports concerning the same issue. If the accuser has made a false accusation, it is obvious that to falsify his accusation is a must. But there may be a situation where the accuser has really witnessed the act of adultery and sodomy but the crime is not proved due to lack of four witnesses and as a result he becomes liable for penalty. In this case too, he has to falsify his statement.
Since adultery or sodomy could not be established according to the stipulation laid down by Islam, from the point of view of Shariat, his accusation is false. So although he had witnessed the crime, it is appropriate on his part to falsify his statement. This he should do with the clear intention that he is submitting to the laws of Islam.
This is in consonance with the following verse:
"Why did they not bring the four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought they are liars before Allah."
(Surah Nur 24:13)
The Shaykh writes in the book 'Nihaya' that a person who is guilty of qazaf should repent by publicly announcing that the accusation he had made is untrue, and that he had uttered a lie. He should do this at the same place where he had made the accusation. In this way all those who had heard a Muslim being denounced will now be aware of its falsehood and there will be no misunderstanding in their minds about his good character.
A person guilty of qazaf transgresses Allah's right by disobeying a Divine command. Allah has strictly prohibited qazaf and a person guilty of it is deserving of the punishment of the hereafter. But if the offender repents sincerely and reforms himself, Allah is most Forgiving and most Merciful.
"Except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."
(Surah Nur 24:5)
Sincere repentance reforms a person. He will either make peace with the person whom he had earlier maligned, or he will confess his guilt and falsify his accusation before a Qazi. After this he is no longer a transgressor or a liar according to Shariat. He is now an adil (just man) whose evidence is acceptable. Beyond this, the experience of being guilty of qazaf and repenting sincerely by going through the humiliation of acknowledging it in public, brings about a deep-rooted transformation in the person's character. He is now inclined toward morality and piety and strives for spiritual upliftment.
The Shaykh says in the book "Mabsut": "After repentance, only good deeds should be seen in that man."
One who hears the accuser is obliged to advise him to refrain from slandering and even to reprimand him.
Qazaf and the Responsibility of Other Muslims
According to the philosophy of Islam, if a Muslim hears of another Muslim being accused of adultery or sodomy he should not pay heed to it. It is Haraam for him to believe it. It is also Haraam to repeat this slander to others. Till four just witnesses testify before the qazi and the qazi issues his decree, it is Haraam to associate any one with these sins. Even if one has witnessed the crime with his own eyes or believes the accuser, one should not spread the slander. Such an action would cause the accused person to lose his honour and dignity in people's estimation. This is totally unacceptable in Islam.
Till four just witnesses have not testified, the accuser should be regarded as a liar and a transgressor, and it is wajib upon the person who hears him to consider him so, even if what he says is true. It should be said to the accuser, "This is a great allegation. We do not accept that the statement is correct according to Shariat."
"Surely they who concocted the lie are the party from among you. Do not regard it as an evil to you, nay, it is good for you. Every man of them shall have what he has earned of sin and (as for) him who took upon him the main part thereof he shall have a grievous chastisement.
Why did not the believing men and the believing women, when they heard it, think well of their own people and say: this is an evident falsehood?
Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah.
And were it not for Allah's Grace upon you and His Mercy in this world and the hereafter, a grievous chastisement would certainly have touched you on account of the discourse which you entered into.
When you received it with your tongues and spoke with your mouths what you had no knowledge of, you deemed it an easy matter while with Allah it was grievous.
And why did you not, when you heard it say: 'It does not beseem us that we should talk off it, glory be to thee ! This is a great calumny?'
Allah admonishes you that you should not return to the like of it ever again if you are believers.
And Allah makes clear to you the communications, and Allah is knowing and wise.
Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe, they shall have a grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter and Allah knows while you do not know.
(Surah Nur 24:11-19)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains,
"One who speaks wrongly about the believer and says something which he has neither seen nor heard himself is from those who have been mentioned in the verse:
"Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe they shall have the grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter and Allah knows while you do not know."
(Surah Nur 24:19)
In conclusion, it is Haraam to accuse anyone of fornication and sodomy without having seen the act with one's own eyes. Even after seeing it, it is Haraam to speak of it till four just witnesses testify having seen it.
But, if a husband accuses his wife wrongly of adultery, four witnesses are not required. It is sufficient for the husband to say before the qazi in the prescribed manner, "I am the liar, may the curse of Allah be upon me." And his accusation is admitted. This order is known as "laee" in Islamic terminology. And the accuser must fulfill the conditions as mentioned earlier in which case two just witnesses could testify that he has committed a calumny. As a result of this he is liable for penalty (eighty lashes). But these lashes would be lighter than those which are prescribed for the adulterer and the alcoholic. Also, the slanderer will not be lashed on a naked back like an adulterer and the alcoholic. He would be allowed to wear his shirt during lashing.
If Conditions for Qazaf are Absent
Even if the necessary conditions are not present in the accused it is still Haraam to associate him with adultery or sodomy. In this case the slanderer is reprimanded. However if some one calls a Muslim 'bastard' it does not imply that he is born of adultery. It could also imply that he was conceived when his mother was having a menstrual discharge. In such a condition it is Haraam for his father to perform the sexual act and the child conceived during this time is also a child of sin. In the same way if someone calls another, indecent or 'evil doer', the accusation of adultery and sodomy is not proved. However he could be punished lightly or reprimanded for insulting a person.
Similarly if a Muslim accuses falsely a Kafir of adultery or sodomy, the penalty of qazaf does not apply. Yet it is Haraam to associate even a Kafir with adultery and sodomy. It is not permissible to make such a statement in unequivocal words or to allude to it. But if it is established that he has committed adultery even from the point of view of his own faith, then it is allowed to associate him with it.
The Association of the Kuffar With Adultery
Umroo bin Noman Juhfi says that there was a friend of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He always remained with the Imam (a.s.) wherever he went. He had a slave who was from Sind. One day, the person was passing through the market of shoe-makers with Imam (a.s.) while his slave walked behind. The master wanted to send the slave on an errand, but when he looked back the slave had disappeared. He looked back three times but could not see the slave. After some time, when he looked for the fourth time, he saw the slave. He was angry with him and said, "O' son of the adulteress! Where were you?"
The narrator says that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) slapped his forehead and said,
"Glory be to Allah! You are accusing his mother of adultery. And I was seeing some piety in you, but now I find that there is no sign of piety or religiousness left."
The companion protested,"May I be sacrificed upon you, his mother is an inhabitant of Sind (India) and she is a Mushrik (polytheist)." Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Don't you know that all people have their own type of marriage? Be away from me!"
The narrator says, "In the Imam's life-time, I never saw him walking with Imam (a.s.), again."
Another tradition states,
"All the people have their kind of marriage due to which they protect themselves from adultery."
Abul Hasan al Hazzae says that he was in the company of Imam (a.s.) when a person came and asked him, "What did your debtors do?" I responded, "Are you asking about the son of that adulteress woman?" Upon hearing this Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) glared at me in anger. I said, "May I be sacrificed upon you. He is a Majoos (fire worshipper) and his mother is also his sister (means that his father had married his daughter). Imam (a.s.) asked,
"Is not this type of marriage permitted in their religion?"
Abusive Language is Haraam
Apart from grave accusations like adultery or sodomy it is also Haraam to use abusive language for a Muslim who does not openly indulge in evil acts. It is not allowed to abuse him with words like Transgressor! Dog! Drunkard! Pig! Even calling out to someone with such words is Haraam. Similarly, it is Haraam to address someone by associating him with some disease or handicap like Blind! Lame! Deaf! According to Shariat a person who uses abusive language should be given a light punishment or reprimanded.
The book Mustadrakul Wasael has a tradition from Imam Ali (a.s.) wherein he said,
"If a person calls another Sinner, Indecent, Kafir, Munafiq or Donkey, he must be given thirty nine lashes."
There is no difference if such words are used for relatives or strangers, against a student or a servant. Any bad words which mention the private parts or the indecent act are Haraam whether addressed to one who is an open sinner or not or whether he gets offended or not.
Traditions that Denounce Abusive Language
Numerous traditions have been recorded which censure bad words and abusive language.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Abusive language is an atrocity and atrocity earns Hell."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"There are four people, the intensity of whose chastisement will also annoy the other people of Hell."
"There would be a man who had blissfully used abusive and foul language in the world. In Hell, puss and blood shall flow from his mouth."
Other reports on this subject have already been mentioned in our discussion.
Replying to the Abuse
It must be understood that as it is Haraam to initiate abusive language it is also Haraam to abuse in reply to it. This strictly applies to words that denote, qazaf (accuse of adultery or sodomy). But for abuses like 'ignorant', idiot tyrant, it is permissible to reciprocate with the same words.
The Holy Quran also allows this, in the following ayat
"... Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:194)
"And whoever defends himself after his being oppressed these it is against whom there is no way (to blame)."
(Surah Shuara 42:41)
"And if you take your turn, then retaliate with the like of that with which you are afflicted."
(Surah Nahl 16:126)
If No Excess is Committed
Imam Musa al-Kazim says regarding two people who have abused each other,
"From the two of them, the one who initiated it, is more unjust, his sin includes the sin of abusing as well as the sin of the one who had cursed him in reply. But the oppressed one should not exceed the limit."
It means that a person who is abused should retaliate only with words that equal the abuses. He should not use a more abusive language otherwise his sin will be equal to the sin of the one who initiated.
For example if one calls another 'you donkey' and he replies with 'you dog' then this would be exceeding the limits. Or if one says 'you donkey' only once and the other person responds by repeating the same word twice or more, it would constitute an excess. If a person who has uttered a bad word, seeks forgiveness immediately before he is replied to, he must be condoned. In this case it is not allowed to reply even with the same words.
Silence is better
It must be emphasized that although it is permitted to retaliate in equal measure, it is best to remain silent.
The Holy Quran says;
"And the recompense to evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah, surely He does not love the unjust."
(Surah Shura 42:40)
Allah says in another place;
"And it is nearer to righteousness that you should relinquish."
(Surah Baqarah 2:237)
One Who Utters Abuses Will Himself be Humiliated
Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari relates that Ali (a.s.) saw that a man was abusing Hazrat Qambar and Qambar was about to reply to him. Ali (a.s.) called him:
"Qambar, stop! Humiliate the one who curses you by remaining silent. In this way the Beneficent will be satisfied with you and the shaitan angry. And you will be able to maim your foe. You will please that Allah who splits the seed and cause pleasant winds to blow. No one can please Allah more with his forbearance, similarly nothing makes Shaitan more angry than silence in return of abuse. The revenge taken from an idiot (ignorant) person in this way is not possible in any other way."
If a person who is abused responds with kind and gentle words like, 'Do not abuse your brother', he occupies a very high position with Allah.
The Holy Quran says;
"And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best. When lo! he between whom and you is enmity would be as if he were a warm friend. And none are made to receive it but those who are patient, and none are made to receive it but those who have mighty good fortune."
(Surah Hamim 41:34-35)
The following incident is quoted in the book 'Kashful Ghumma':
A Syrian came to Madinah. He saw a handsome man astride a good camel. Upon enquiry he learnt that it was Imam Hasan ibn Ali (a.s.).
This man from Syria stepped forward in anger and said;"Are you the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib?"
"Yes, I am the son of Ali."
He said, "You are the son of a person who was a mushrik (polytheist)". And he continued his foul utterances till he got tired of it. Imam Hasan (a.s.) remained silent. At last the man felt ashamed. The Imam (a.s.) seeing his remorse said;
"You look like a traveller, are you from Syria?"
"Yes sir", he replied.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) said,
"If you need a place to stay, we shall provide it. If you need money we would give it you. If you have any other problem, we shall help you."
Not only was the Syrian ashamed but was also rendered speechless by such excellent behaviour.
The following are his words:
"After I had the good fortune of enjoying the hospitality of Imam Hasan Ibne Ali (a.s.), I found his personality more likeable than that of any other person in the world."
Imam Hasan (a.s.) had offered the same type of hospitality to Asam bin Mutlaq the Syrian, and he too became his devotee.
The thirteenth among the Greater Sins is drinking liquor. Its seriousness is proved from the traditions that have been related from Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.) and Imam Muhammad al Taqi (a.s.).
The Holy Quran also states in unequivocal words that it is a Greater Sin.
"They ask you about intoxicants and the games of chance. Says: in both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)
It is explained in 'Tafsir al-Mizan' that 'zanb' and 'ithm' are synonyms that denote a condition wherein the person involved is deprived of reason. He has no inclination for deeds of virtue nor can he maintain an amiable disposition. 'Ithm' is a type of sin, the evil effects of which become apparent in the person and he is absolutely doomed. The evils of drinking are known to all. The health of the alcoholic is affected in various ways. His digestion deteriorates. His intestines do not function well. His liver, lungs and all the five senses, are likewise affected. Ancient and modern doctors have penned quite a few books on this topic. They have revealed astonishing statistics to show the far greater susceptibility of alcoholics to diseases as compared to others. The various ailments which are caused by alcoholism are also enumerated. They have termed wine as deadly poison.
The different kind of diseases that inflict the body of a liquor-drinkers are described in brief:
Effect of Liquor on the Brain
Liquor affects the central nervous system. It may cause a brain hemorrhage leading to paralysis or prolonged coma and eventual death.
Effect of Liquor on the Limbs
Ailments of the limbs are also caused by alcohol. The limbs become fragile and the person loses control upon them. The body becomes absolutely broken-down. The five senses become despaired. Sleeplessness increases and even when the person gets to sleep he is haunted by nightmares.
Effect of Alcohol on the Stomach
Liquor affects the tongue and the taste buds which lose their ability to discern flavours. Secretion of saliva is impaired. Liquor ruins the digestive system. The stomach cannot produce the digestive juices or maintain the required acidity for digestion. There is frequent vomiting and nausea. Along with phelgm, there is blood discharge in the vomit. Numerous other diseases of the stomach are also caused by alcoholism. The belly begins to protrude. The intestines swell and are ulcerated. The large intestines malfunction, causing alternate constipation and loose motions.
Effect of Alcohol on the Liver
Wine and alcohol cause swelling and weakening of liver and slow down its function. The swelling increases and this gives rise to acute pain of the liver. The part of the liver that is nearer to the stomach is first affected. The kidneys become yellow and the effect becomes apparent in the eyes of that person.
Effect of Alcohol on the Blood Circulation
Alcohol does not have any benefit for the human body. It is for this reason that none of its constituent parts could be absorbed into the human body. As soon as it reaches the stomach, alcohol enters the blood stream, and as it enters the blood, it goes on destroying the white blood corpuscles. Due to this, blood pressure decreases. It may also cause fainting.
Effect of Alcohol on the Respiratory Organs
The worst effects of alcohol are to be seen in the respiratory system. As it enters the lungs through the blood stream, it causes breathlessness. The tissues are inflamed and functioning of the lungs becomes sluggish. Calcium is continually depleted from the body. The damaged lungs are now highly susceptible to tuberculosis that is the most prevalent disease among the poorer class of people.
Effect of Alcohol on Kidneys
Statistics show that ninety percent of the ailments of the kidneys are due to alcoholism. Alcohol is expelled through urine and causes numerous diseases involving the entire urinary system. It may also cause loss of bladder control.
Effect of Alcohol on the Heart
Since alcohol circulates through the blood stream it has a detrimental effect on the heart as well. Gradually, layers of fat get deposited on the heart and it increases in size and weight. The heartbeats of an alcoholic are faint or irregular.
Effect of Alcohol on Mental Faculties
The most destructive effect that alcohol can produce is on the overall psychology of the alcoholic. According to statistics available from mental hospitals the majority of the patients are those who have been long-time alcoholics.
The book 'Balahaee-e-Ijtemai' has quoted the magazine 'Health' which says:
According to medical research there are 2,00,000 lunatics in France who have become mad due to alcoholism. Also 80% of all mental patients have been drunkards. Further 40% of all the ailments that afflict the people are due to alcohol. According to British scientists, 90% of the lunatics are so, due to the effect of alcohol.
Effect of Alcohol on the Offsprings
The book also mentions that wine affects the sperm cells. A West German doctor has conducted research that indicates that the effect of alcohol lasts for at least three future generations of the alcoholic; even though these future generations may abstain from intoxicants.
Excessive drinking causes sterility
According to an American doctor Dr. Nelson, if a teetotaler can father eleven healthy children the alcoholic is at the most capable of having three normal children. Moreover these children may be plagued with fainting, migraine, hot temper, lunacy, mental disability or anemia. Such children are the victims of various mental and physical problems.
The effects of liquor are also mirrored in the character of the drunkard. The alcoholic is usually a person of low character and has a foul tongue. Being in a state of intoxication most of the time, his behaviour is not normal or rational. Not being in control of his senses due to the influence of intoxicants, he has no hesitation in committing evil acts like murder, plunder, adultery, sodomy, exposing other peoples secrets etc. In fact he will unhesitatingly break every law, be it of land or religion.
The Islamic code of life requires that a person should use whatever power of reasoning Allah has granted him to conduct himself with deliberation and discretion. In fact Islam expects every individual to try and improve his reasoning power by increasing his knowledge with study and by associating with those more knowledgeable than himself. Even good actions, without thought and intent are of no avail.
Islam therefore prohibits all such actions that affect the reasoning capacity of man. The acts that top this list are alcoholism, gambling, deceit and lying. All of which deprive man of his capacity to reason. Carnal desires and falsehood are two things that are instrumental in the demotion of man from the high position of humanity to the lowliness of the beasts. Such a person is not capable of carrying any important responsibility. It is very difficult for an alcoholic to excel in any field. Even if he resolves to do something, his resolution is soon defeated. The more difficult, the more important a task is, the more difficult it would be for an alcoholic to accomplish it. Even if the wisdom behind every Islamic act had been unknown, it would have sufficed to accept it, as the same is advocated by intellect.
The Holy Quran has termed as 'ithm' (sins) such acts as murder, slander, and withholding testimony before a qualified Judge. Murder has not been termed as 'ithm-e-kabir' (the greatest sin) whereas sins like alcoholism and gambling have been specified as the 'ithm-e-kabir' (the greatest sin). The quote ("and in alcohol and gambling there is even some profit for men") imply the profit which arises from the manufacture and sale of alcohol etc. But this profit is not even a pittance when compared to the losses that accrue with the consumption of alcohol. The loss of character, the loss of mental & physical health and over and above all this, the loss of Allah's Mercy and blessing in the hereafter.
The Quran says in Surah Maidah:
"O you who believe ! Surely intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (divining by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's works, shun it therefore that you may be successful."
(Surah Maaidah 5:90)
The prohibition regarding wine is of special significance in those two ayats for the following reasons:
1) The word 'innama' in the first ayat denotes emphasis.
2) Drinking of liquor is mentioned along with idolatry. Therefore drinking liquor is as serious a sin as idolatry.
3) Drinking of liquor has been classified as a satanic act along with gambling.
4) The verse emphatically orders one to avoid alcohol.
5) Avoidance of alcohol has been clearly shown to be a way of salvation.
6) The consequences of drinking liquor have also been listed namely; enmity, hatred and loss of belief in Allah.
7) Then it is asked whether you would now avoid this evil or not.
8) After the prohibition, Allah orders to obey Him and obey the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). To beware of disobeying Allah and to know that the duty of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is to convey the message and complete the proof.
Tafsir al-Mizan quotes the dictionary meaning of wine as any liquid intoxicant. In the beginning the Arabs used to prepare it from grapes, barley and dates. But gradually new types of wines began to be produced. Nowadays there are many chemically manufactured alcoholic drinks. All these can produce varying degrees of intoxication. But however slight the intoxication a drink may produce, it is considered haram. The word 'rijs' (indecency) implies everything that is evil. The Quranic verses equate liquor with indecency. Human nature of its own accord is not inclined towards liquor. It is the insinuation of Shaitan that persuades man to consume such filth. Shaitan creates the illusion in the human mind that by consuming liquor one can obtain bliss and a feeling of exhilaration. The Quranic verses declare that it is the Shaitan's plan to entice people towards wine, gambling and idol-worship so he can create enmity, hatred and avarice amongst them and succeed in diverting their thoughts away from Allah and their duty towards the Almighty. Due to loss of reason and self control they stoop to the lowest depths of inhuman behaviour. Under the influence of an intoxicant every thing vile and vicious appeals to their fancy. They get pleasure in destroying other people's wealth, honour and dignity ignoring all norms of civil behaviour. They may even speak insolently about their own religion and beliefs. They sink to the lowest depths of degradation when their own sisters and daughtersemerge to them as objects of gratification. When intoxicated a person will easily divulge the most confidential information in his possession.
The 33rd ayat of Surah Araf is as follows:
"Say, my Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed, and sin and rebellion without justice and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down any authority, and that you say against Allah what do you not know."
'Fawahish' (indecencies) is the plural of 'fahsha' (indecency). In Arabic it implies an extremely evil act. The other sins that are described by this word in Quran are adultery, sodomy and falsely associating someone with adultery and sodomy. 'Ithm' implies 'sin', and the Holy Quran clearly indicates that drinking and gambling are 'ithm'.
There is a tradition narrated by Ali ibn Yaqteen in the book Al Kafi, wherein the Abbasid despot Mahdi asked Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) regarding wine, "Is wine Haraam according to the Quran?" (Because) people know that it is prohibited but notaware that it is Haraam." Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) replied:
"Wine is Haraam according to the Divine book."
"At what place in the Quran is wine shown to be Haraam?"
Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) said,
"In the following statement of Allah,
'Say, my Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed.'"
(Surah Araf 7:33)
Imam (a.s.) further said,
"As far as the apparent indecencies are concerned, they imply open adultery and ensigns that were hung outside the houses of prostitutes in the days of ignorance. 'The concealed sin' implies the sin of marrying the step mother after the death of the father as the people of the days of ignorance used to do. Allah has also ordered this act to be Haraam. As far as sin is concerned, it is but "wine drinking". At another point, Allah says,
"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: in both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profits."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)
In the above tradition Imam (a.s.) first quotes the ayat where 'sin' is labelled as Haraam. Then he mentions that verse where wine is ordained to be a 'sin'. Hence when it is shown that 'sin' is Haraam and wine is sin, then wine (and all alcoholic drinks) must necessarily be Haraam.
Alcoholism According to the Traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)
Traditions that denounce alcohol are numerous. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"On the day of Qiyamat the drunkard would come with a black face, a protruding tongue and the saliva dripping upon his chest."
In another narration Imam (a.s.) informed:
"He will scream, 'Thirst! Thirst!' And Allah would have the right to make him drink from the well that contains the pollutants of the adulterers."
In a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), he says:
"One who is careless of namaz will be deprived of my intercession, and will not be able to reach me at the pool of Kausar1. And by Allah, my intercession will also not reach the one who consumes intoxicants, and he would not be able to reach me at the pool of Kausar."
One more tradition says, that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) cursed ten types of people in connection with wine:
1) One who plants a sapling with the intention of producing wine.
2) One who cultivates this sapling so that wine may be manufactured.
3) One who crushes the grapes.
4) One who drinks wine.
5) One who serves the wine.
6) One who transports wine.
7) One who takes delivery from the supplier.
8) One who sells wine.
9) One who buys it.
10) One who uses the income that is earned by (making or selling) wine.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"One who is addicted to wine (liquor) will meet the Lord (on the appointed day) like an idol worshipper."
Another tradition says that,
On the day of meeting of the Lord, the drunkard will be counted among the disbelievers."
(Wasaelush Shia, chapter of prohibited drinks )
Liquor is the root of all evils
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said,
"Disobedience to the order of Allah is mostly due to alcoholism. The alcoholic abandons namaz. He even commits incest under the influence of alcohol. He loses his senses."
(Wasaelush Shia: chapter of prohibited drinks)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Certainly even if a person swallows only a mouthful of wine, at that very moment, the angels, the Prophets and the righteous believers send their curses upon him."
"And when he drinks enough to make him intoxicated, the spirit of belief leaves his body, it is replaced by the dirty, accursed, devilish spirit. When the person neglects prayers, he spreads corruption in society."
It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"One who drinks wine considering it halaal will remain forever in Hell. One who drinks wine, knowing it is Haraam will still taste the punishment of Hell."
Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) has informed,
"Allah knows better that every Prophet who has been sent by Him did not have his religion completed till wine was prohibited. Wine has always been Haraam."
In the present Old and New testaments, even after so many interpolations and alterations, there is considerable criticism of alcoholism.
"Don't associate with people who drink too much wine..."
"Show me someone who drinks too much, who has to try out some new drink, and I will show you someone miserable and sorry for himself, always causing trouble and always complaining. His eyes are bloodshot, and he has bruises that could have been avoided."
"Don't let wine tempt you, even though it is rich red, though it sparkles in the cup, and it goes down smoothly. The next morning you will feel as if you had been bitten by a poisonous snake. Weird sights will emerge before your eyes and you will not be able to think or speak clearly."
(Proverbs 23: 29-33)
The punishment for drinking wine is mentioned in the following words:
"Inform the elders of the town, this son of ours is a rebel and a sinner. He does not obey us, he is a glutton and drinks too much wine? Then all the people of the town will stone him till he dies."
Also we find:
"Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you..."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Alcoholism is the mother of all sins. Liquor invites the drunkard to all sorts of indecencies. It destroys his intellect. So much so that under its influence he even fails to recognize his Lord. Whatever sin he encounters, he commits it. The alcoholics do not refrain from any such acts, which are against morality."
Thus drinking liquor is Haraam not merely in the light of the Quran and traditions, but it is a Greater Sin. One of the necessities of religion is to consider liquor Haraam and if a Muslim considers it to be Halaal he becomes a Kafir.
Liquor is Absolutely Haraam
It makes no difference if the quantity consumed is less or more; liquor is absolutely Haraam; whether pure or mixed. Thus even if a person licks a single drop it is Haraam whether he gets intoxicated or not. In the same way if liquor is consumed by mixing it with other things, it is still Haraam.
Allama Hilli (r.a.) has quoted an authentic tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), that he said:
"If more of it intoxicates, then to consume even a bit of it is Haraam."
A person enquired from Imam (a.s.), "but I dilute it with water?"
Imam (a.s.) told him,
"A Haraam thing does not become halaal by mixing it with water. Fear Allah, refrain from partaking of it."
(Mustanad ush Shia)
Umar Ibne Hanzala says that he enquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Does it matter if as much water is mixed in wine so that it is no more intoxicating?"
Imam (a.s.) replied:
"No! By Allah it is not. Even if a drop of wine falls into a well full of water it does not become halaal. Rather the whole well has to be emptied."
Ibne Wahab has narrated this tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Every intoxicant is Haraam. Something that intoxicates only when consumed in bulky quantities, is also not allowed to be taken even in a lesser quantity."
The narrator says, "I asked, 'Then if a Haraam thing is mixed in a huge quantity of water, does it become permissible?'"
Imam (a.s.) flailed his arms twice, indicating emphatically that it does not.
(Furu Al Kafi)
Liquor is harmful irrespective of the quantity consumed. Even if a drop of the poison enters the body it has harmful effects on it, whether apparent immediately or not. If you mix a few buckets of red dye in a pond of water, the whole pond water turns red. But on the other hand if you throw a glassful of ink in a pond of clear water it would not bring about any appreciable change in its appearance, yet, could you say that the ink has not affected the water at all? Certainly not! If the water is subjected to the process of distillation the glassful of ink could be recovered. If it enters the body it will cause harm. A person who tastes liquor, one drop at a time, soon gets addicted to it till he needs to drink more and more of it. Consequently a stage is reached when he is unable to rid himself of this habit howsoever hard he may try. A stone is eroded when water drips upon it over a period of time. Similarly alcohol erodes the liver and other cells of the body. Grapes, raisins and dates, when unfermented have medicinal properties and are wholesome and beneficial to the body. But as soon as fermentation sets in these fruits and wine is produced they turn harmful and prohibited.
If an intoxicant is a liquid in its natural state, in addition to its being Haraam, it is also najis (impure). But if an intoxicating substance is solid in its natural form and it is available as a solution, like opium or hemp for consumption, it is not najis, but its consumption is Haraam like that of wine.
Giving Liquor to Children
Offering liquor to others is also Haraam even if it is to a young, naive child. The book, 'Mustanad ush Shia' contains three traditions regarding this topic. The gist of these traditions is that one who is responsible for serving liquor to juvenile children will have to drink an equal quantity of the boiling water of Hell, on the day of Qiyamat, by Allah's command.
Liquor at the Dinner Table
If liquor is served on a table, it is Haraam to sit there and eat even if one does not touch the wine. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) informs that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Accursed, accursed is the one who sits at a table where wine is being served."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) also says:
"One who believes in Allah and the last day, must not even sit at the table where wine is kept."
(Masaalik of Shaheed Thani)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Do not sit with drunkards because when the curse descends it engulfs all the people in the company of the drunkards."
(Wasaelush Shia, Chapter 33)
Some scholars have stated that it is not permitted to be in the company of people where anything Haraam is being done. For example, backbiting about a Muslim. It is then obligatory on a person to leave immediately if possible and be vacant of the sin of just being in this company. Also, if by his leaving, the others will discontinue their sinful action, it is obligatory on him to do so.
Wine and Medicine
According to the traditions of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) to take wine as medicine is also Haraam. Rather, the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) have prohibited the consumption of any intoxicant as medicine. The jurists unanimously agree that one should refrain from consuming any intoxicant to cure a disease or to ward off pain. Allah has not reposed any curative effect in any intoxicant.
Certain Mujtahids have stated that there are three exceptions where an intoxicant could be taken as medicine.
First of all the person should know that his malady is curable.
Secondly it must be that if this treatment is not taken it would result in death or extreme pain. Thirdly, there should be no other cure for this ailment.
If these conditions are fulfilled, the patient can be given an intoxicant as medicine but only just enough to cure his disease.
But as we have stated, Allah has not bestowed any cure in a Haraam thing. Hence the above conditions are mentioned just for the sake of an obligation. Such a situation can hardly arise.
Wine Contains No Cure
Ibne abi Yazoor told Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.): I am suffering from a disease. When the pain intensifies I drink some wine of grapes and the pain subsides. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, "Do not drink. It is Haraam; it is nothing but Shaitan who is preying upon you to involve you in sins. When he loses all hope of making you drink he will leave you."
Ibne abi Yazoor returned to his native place, Kufa. He was in intense pain and his people brought for him wine of grapes and persuaded him to drink it. Ibne abi Yazoor said, "By Allah! I will not taste a drop of it."
He bore the pain for some days. At last his pain receded and he never suffered from it for the rest of his life.
Drunkard on the Death-bed
Abu Basir says that Umme Khalid Abadiya presented herself before Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) when Abu Basir was also present. Umme Khalid said,
"May I be sacrificed for you, on the day of Qiyamat I will tell Allah that I have done as commanded by Ja'far ibn Muhammad (a.s.). Physicians have told me to knead the flour with grape wine and eat the bread. This will cure the terrible pain of my heart. I ask you, shall I do this?"
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) replied to Umme Khalid,
"No! By Allah I will not permit you even a drop of wine. Don't taste even a drop of it. Otherwise when your soul reaches here (Imam pointed towards his throat) you will only regret." Then Imam (a.s.) asked Umme Khalid thrice.
"Have you understood?"
"Yes", replied Umme Khalid.
A student of Fuzail Ibne Ayaz was on his deathbed. Fuzail came to him and sitting near his head began to recite Surah Yasin (al-Quran, chapter 36). The disciple told his teacher, "Do not recite the Quran!" Fuzail became silent. Then he began to urge his disciple to repeat "La ilaha illallah". The student said:
"I will not repeat this formula because I am disgusted with it!" and he died in the same condition.
Fuzail Ibne Ayaz was extremely perturbed. He returned home after completing his duties and went to sleep. He saw his student undergoing punishment. He asked him, "What is the reason of your being deprived of faith (Imaan) at the time of your death? You were one of my best students."
The student replied: "There are three reasons, firstly, I used to backbite too much, secondly, I used to be jealous, thirdly, a physician had prescribed for my malady a cup of wine every year. He told me that if I do not drink, the disease would never be cured. Every year I drank one cup of wine."
(Safinatun Behaar Vol. I Pg. 428)
Numerous traditional reports mention that "Haraam" things do not contain any cure. In the same way one must refrain from taking any medicine that contains even a drop of najis alcohol.
It is stated on page no 380 of the Journal of Anjuman Tablighate Islami:
"There is not a single doctor today who considers liquor to have any cure. No doctor permits even a small quantity of the same. If a physician prescribes liquor as a medicine for some cure, it must be understood that his medical knowledge is deficient."
A hundred years ago some of the doctors and physicians believed that wine had some curative effects. But recent researches show that wine not only lacks any beneficial value but is in fact harmful. The molecules of alcohol on entering the blood stream affect the white blood corpuscles. These corpuscles perform the function of protecting the human body against infectious disease.
The white blood cells engulf the disease causing germs and exterminate them. Anything that impairs the functioning of these blood cells exposes a person to numerous diseases because his body is unable to protect itself. Some people think that wine helps in digestion. This is just a false notion. The reality is just the opposite. Actually wine causes indigestion. The food hardens in the stomach and becomes indigestible. You can experiment by pouring wine upon a piece of cooked soft meat. It will become tough like leather, and absolutely unchewable. Wine also destroys the digestive juices secreted by the stomach and leads to flatulence and indigestion. Wine destroys appetite. Besides, alcohol causes addiction and wine taken for medicinal purpose soon becomes an addiction that is difficult to get rid of. We may observe that some alcoholics emergeperfectly healthy even after years of addiction. But what is apparent may be different from reality. If a medical check up is carried out, it will reveal the deteriorating condition of the internal organs and the digestive system of these addicts. Besides, often the maladies are not associated with alcohol and are attributed to other factors. It should be also noted that alcohol affects some people more than others. Some have a hereditary capacity to withstand the rouging effects of alcohol. They should thank Providence for it and refrain from drinking so that they can protect their future generation from developing a weakness for it.
Punishment for Drinking Liquor
If a sane adult person, knowing that liquor is Haraam, consumes even a drop of it of his own accord and later confesses to it or is seen in the act of drinking by two just witnesses who testify, the Judge is obliged to award punishment to him.
However punishment cannot be awarded under the following conditions: If the individual who drinks it is a child, or an insane person, or one who is unaware of its prohibition, or one drinks it by mistake being under the impression that it is not liquor and realizes the truth afterwards, or one who drinks it under coercion and force, or one who is compelled to drink due to extreme thirst there being no other way of quenching it.
The Islamic penalty for drinking is eighty lashes. Eighty lashes are given when the person drinks it for the first time. If he repeats the act after receiving 80 lashes he is lashed 160 times. If he repeats the sin again and confesses, or two just witnesses testify before a Qazi (religious Judge) the punishment is tripled; i.e. 240 lashes. The fourth instance of the crime entails capital punishment. Some Mujtahids are of the opinion that capital punishment should be given when the sin is repeated the third time.
If a person confesses and repents before the testimony of two just witnesses, he is condoned. However after the testimony he cannot escape punishment. The drunkard cannot be punished while still intoxicated. He is punished only when he gets sober. If it is a man he is stripped above the waist and lashed from the shoulders and below. It is not allowed to hit the face or the private parts of the accused. If the accused is a woman she is lashed with her clothes on. If her dress is loose, it is made to stick to the body by tying it up. She is lashed in a sitting position.
If a person drinks wine at a sacred place, for example the Holy Kaaba or in a sacred period, like the month of Ramazan, he is lashed and also given a preventive punishment that is, he is beaten so much that he may not dare to repeat the crime.
Ibn Abil Hadid records the following incident in Sharh-e-Nahjul Balagha:
"Najashi was a famous poet of Kufa. He was originally from Yemen. He was among the army of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) at the Battle of Siffin. It was the first day of Ramazan when his friend, Abu Sammak instigated him to drink wine at the tavern. Under its intoxication he created such a bedlam that his neighbour was compelled to complain to Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.). Hazrat summoned both of them. Abu Sammak fled but Najashi was arrested and brought by the people. By the order of the Imam (a.s.) he was detained for the night. The next day, before the congregation of Muslims he was stripped to the waist and lashed eighty times for drinking wine. After this he was given twenty more lashes. Najashi said, "Eighty lashes were for drinking wine, but why twenty more?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"This is because you dared to drink during the month of Ramazan and did not respect its sanctity."
(Furu Al Kafi, Chapter on Penal Code)
The relatives of Najashi were present in large numbers in the camp of Ali (a.s.). They were perturbed at the extra punishment. One of them, Tarikh Ibne Abdullah said:
"We Yemenis are among your loyal friends and Shias. We expected you to consider us differently from your enemies. Najashi is our respected kinsman. By lashing him publicly you have degraded us in the eyes of our friends and enemies. We have began to doubt if the path that we tread leads to Heaven." Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said,
"Strict adherence to justice and commands of Allah hurts the sinners. What have I done? Najashi dared to disobey the Divine command. I have only punished him according to the laws. Allah says:
'... And let not hatred of a people invite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety, be careful of (your duty to) Allah...'"
(Surah Maidah 5: 8)
Ibn Abil Hadid writes, "Najashi and Tarikh were unable to assert their opinion. They left Kufa and went to Syria to join the group of Muawiya." Their meeting with Muawiya is not described here. Its details can be studied in Ibn Abil Hadid's Sharh-e-Nahjul Balagha, Vol. I part iv page no. 366.
Aloofness from the Drunkard
In order to discourage the evil habit of drinking, Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has commanded that people should not associate with a drunkard and remain totally aloof from him. It is a method by which the drunkard will feel self-conscious about the lack of respect with which his vicinity members view him. Being strictly excluded from company, he will not be able to influence tender or immature minds to develop this obnoxious habit. We can thus restrict the evils of alcoholism that destroy the foundation of individual and social life.
Do not Give your Daughter in Marriage to a Drunkard
Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) quotes the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.),
"Allah has made me to pronounce wine as Haraam, after this pronouncement if someone still drinks wine, he is not fit to have his proposal for marriage accepted, when he proposes. If he seeks recommendation, he should not be recommended. If he says something he must not be believed. His testimony must not be accepted. Nothing should be kept in his trust. Allah is not responsible for something kept with a drunkard, with the knowledge (of his vice). He will not receive any compensation. If the thing is lost, nothing could be taken in exchange and neither its cost."
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"One who marries his well-behaved daughter to a drunkard does Qat-e-Rahmi."
Imam (a.s.) has also said,
"One who marries his well-behaved daughter to a drunkard; it is as if he has given her to adultery."
Imam (a.s.) has also stated in a tradition,
"If a drunkard falls ill do not go to visit him. If he dies, do not attend his funeral."
Boycott of the Drunkard
By adopting this attitude we fulfill our duty of Nahy Anil Munkar. No one should trust or believe a drunkard, and no one should have any dealings with him whatsoever. As clearly ordered by our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and our Imam (a.s.) no one should give his daughter in marriage to a drunkard. When the drunkard finds himself so totally cut off from the society in which he lives, he will be compelled to give up his sinful habit.
Jehad Against Intoxicants
The book Burhan-e-Quran writes against intoxicants:
"The evil of intoxicants can be easily proved by the fact that in a country like France a woman legislator urged the parliament to abolish intoxicants completely. She was so disgusted by the ill-effects of alcohol that she protested against it vehemently. Obviously, until the powerful governments put an end to such evils they cannot be eradicated. Mere crusades of individuals, or social boycott will not have much effect."
It is true that life can be very difficult for some individuals. They face hardships and frustrations till they are driven to despair. Even so, drinking liquor to forget their troubles is not a solution. The physical, economic and social repercussions of this evil will only magnify their problems and engulf them in a vicious circle from which it will be almost impossible to extricate themselves. It is an evil that must be fought by individuals, by society and by the governments. Individual effort and social boycott will certainly help to a great extent. But the authority that the government can exercise in enforcing strict measures will go a long way in eradicating this evil. The American government in the year 1930 had made a serious effort to discourage the use of intoxicants. The propaganda was carried out through newspapers, magazines, radio, television, films and all modes of communication. The total expenses incurred by the government were eight million dollars. Ten billion pages of books and magazines were printed. Within a span of 14 years 250 million dollars were spent. 300 people were hanged, 532000 people were sent to prison, penalties were collected from 1,60,00,000 people and property worth $ 41,50,00,000 was confiscated. All this did not yield the desired result and the number of alcoholics, in fact, increased. In 1933 all these restrictions were withdrawn and complete freedom was given to the public to consume liquor.
(From Tankihat of Abul Ala Maududi)
This only goes to show that government restriction alone will not cure this malady. What is needed are the co-ordinated efforts of strict government rules and the boycott of the alcoholics by society.
When Islam prohibited liquor, it considered all these aspects. Islam first strived to remove the causes of alcoholism. After this, it promulgated that liquor is Haraam. One of the causes that promotes this habit are the people who themselves give a free rein to this vice. They do not adopt strict methods of prevention. Our society does not view the drunkards unfavourably and does not boycott them so that they may be compelled to give up their habits. According to Islam, dangerous diseases and ailments that befall the soul must be eradicated by all means. The drunkards and alcoholics must also be boycotted economically. People should not transact any business with them and they must also be socially boycotted. Proposals for their marriage must be rejected and none should keep company with them. An ideological war must be carried out against them. They must also be a spiritually cured. Along with heavy penal punishment they must be informed of the ill effects of liquor and other intoxicants.
Gambling is the fourteenth Greater Sin. The following statements support this view. The Holy Quran states in Surah Baqarah:
"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chances. Say: in both of them there is a great sin..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)
"Ithme kabir" means a very great sin. The Holy Quran has used this phrase only for drinking and gambling."
The tradition related by Fazl Ibne Shazaan from Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) also included gambling among the Greater sins. Similarly, gambling is clearly mentioned as a Greater Sin in the tradition related by Amash from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), is reported to have told Abu Basir:
"It is Haraam to sell chess. It is Haraam to spend the income of this sale. To keep chess (board and pieces) in ones possession is tantamount to kufr (disbelief). To play chess is equal to ascribing partners to Allah. It is a sin even to salute one who plays chess. One who touches it in order to play it, it is, as if he has contaminated his hands by touching pork."
(Wasaelush Shia. Chapter on Business Transactions)
The same tradition is recorded in the book Man La Yahzarul Faqih with the addition inter alia that:
"To teach chess to others is also a kind of destructive sin."
It is related from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Allah pardons all the sinners in the month of Ramazan except three kinds of people; those who drink wine, those who gamble and those who harbour enmity and avarice towards a Muslim."
Another proof is the following verse of Quran, which shows that gambling, is a Greater Sin:
"O you who believe! Intoxicants and (maeser) games of chance and divining (azlam) by arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's work; shun it therefore that you may be successful."
(Surah Maaidah 5:90)
What do 'Maesir' and 'Azlam' Denote?
Games of chances that are mentioned in this Quranic verse include all types of gambling. The Arabic equivalent to this is "Maeser" which is derived from the root word "yusur" which means 'ease'. Since a gambler does not perform a laborious work and is able to easily grab the money belonging to others, gambling is called "Maeser".
"Azlam" is a game of chance that is played with dice. Actually, there used to be special pieces of wood which were used in gambling. Azlam is also known as "aqlaam". The gamblers used to purchase a camel and divide the meat of the slaughtered camel into twenty-eight parts. Ten pieces of arrow-shaped wood were kept at the venue of gambling. Each piece had a specific name. The names of seven of those pieces were faz, tawaam, raqeeb, halas, nafis, masbal and mualla. Specific portion of meat was allotted to each of the arrows. For example faz was equal to one portion and mualla had seven portions. The meat that had been divided into twenty-eight pieces was distributed only to these ten pieces of wood. Some of the arrows were such that no meat was allotted to them and in fact those who got them had to reimburse the cost of camel in full. The total of participants in this game was ten, and the three unlucky ones were expelled. The three unlucky arrows were named "manaj, safih and raghad".
'Azlaam' is a kind of a wager whereas 'maeser' includes all forms of gambling. Azlaam is mentioned specifically because it waspopular before the advent of Islam. Other methods of azlaam are also recorded but irrespective of the method, all types of wagers are Haraam. Wine, gambling, idol worship and azlaam are all satanic works. Involving oneself in these would deprive the person of salvation and success in the hereafter. It is therefore commanded not to even go near wine and gambling.
Gambling and Wine Cause Avarice and Enmity
"The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance..."
(Surah Maidah 5:91)
It is common knowledge that a man loses his senses under the influence of alcohol and in this condition behaves in a most indiscreet manner. He is therefore bound to create enemies due to his shoddy behaviour. Drunkards are also known to murder their own family members and friends. As far as gambling is concerned, enmity between the participants is the most natural outcome in a game of chance. The person who loses his money to his opponent is bound to resent him and have a feeling of vengeance and there is bound to be a winner and a loser. The dominating influence on the gamblers is that of hatred and enmity.
Gambling Causes Voluptuousness and Sensuality
A person who wins in gambling makes a lot of easy money. Obviously, he looks for ways and means for self-indulgence to splurge his ill-gotten wealth. In fact, profit from Haraam means paves the way towards further unlawful evils. Avarice is the characteristic of all gamblers. The gambler who wins is so obsessed that he wagers more around larger profits. The loser is equally obsessed to win back what he has lost. Such compulsive obsessions have disastrous consequences. The book "Balahaee-e-ijtemai" Pg.231 contains an incident where an inhabitant of an Iranian town stabbed his opponent thrice and killed him. The accused gave the following statement: "The victim has grabbed a lot of my money through gambling. He was not prepared to lay another bet despite my persuasion and ran away. I followed and killed him."
On page 325 of the same book, the following is quoted from the magazine "Roshan Fikr". "In the town of Monte Carlo, Argentina, a gambler lost around forty hundred thousand tumans in a game that lasted for sixteen hours. When the casino closed, he drove his car to the forest and shot himself in the head."
Incidents of suicide are common in the woods surrounding Monte Carlo. Most often, those who arrive in this city to gamble lose all their money. Sometimes, they cannot even pay for their return journey. Such people go into the woods and commit suicide. One of the casinos has decided to loan the return fare to those who lose all their money.
The weekly magazine of 'Ittelat Daily' No.1060 contains the following item.
"Suicides due to gambling are on the increase according to the available statistics. More suicides were committed in this year (1361 solar) compared to the number in previous years. The casino owners have, as a result named this as the 'unlucky year'. In the previous year, 120 people committed suicide after losing in Paris. The statisticians of America state that the cause of thirty percent of all crimes is gambling."
(Balahae-e- Ijtemai Pg.329)
It is noticed that most of the criminals like robbers, pickpockets and murderers commit crimes after leaving their gambling dens.
Alcohol and gambling are vices leading to spiritual bankruptcy. These offenders are oblivious of Allah and of their duties towards their Creator. Living in a state of forgetfulness of Allah is the worst tragedy that befalls the unfortunate victims of these vices.
"...And to keep you off from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer...."
(Surah Maidah 5:91)
An alcoholic in a state of intoxication is in no condition to remember Allah and he abandons even an obligation like namaz. In the same way, the craze of a gambler to obtain wealth or make up for his losses is all consuming and he loses awareness of all obligatory acts including prayers. In order to stress this point, Allah continues in the same verse:
"Will you then desist?"
(Surah Maidah 5:91)
It means that even after being informed of the demerits of these vices, will you still not reform?
The next verse continues the emphasis:
"And obey Allah and obey the apostle and be cautious. But if you turn back, then know that only a clear deliverance of the message is (incumbent) on your apostle."
(Surah Maidah 5:92)
In this way, the argument is completed. Now, you cannot say that you have not been warned.
Now, we shall describe some forms of gambling.
Objects of Gambling and Laying of Bets
There is a universal agreement among the Mujtahids that articles normally used in gambling should not be played with, even if one is not gambling. The tradition mentioned previously which states that one who touches chess is like one who smears his hand in pork; continues,
"The prayers of chess-players are not valid till they wash their hands after the game. And to watch a game of chess is like looking at the genitals of ones own mother."
(Wasaelush Shia. Chapter of Business Transactions)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) on being inquired concerning chess replied:
"Leave the preoccupations of the fire-worshippers to them."
That is, Muslims should not even go near chess.
In another tradition, Imam (a.s.) says:
"Do not even approach chess."
The tradition from the book, Tohafful Uqool distinctly states that the articles employed in gambling cannot be used for any purpose whatsoever and it is Haraam to do so.
"All the tools and actions of gambling are Haraam."
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has said:
"All kinds of games of betting are gambling and the sale, the purchase and the use of all the tools of gambling are Haraam. It is only an act that Shaitan instigates you to do."
Chess and cards should not be indulged in even when played only for intellectual stimulation games with no intent to gamble. These games have an inherent power to obsess the player till he becomes oblivious of his responsibilities towards his family and even his livelihood. Such all-consuming activities lead to the disruption of an otherwise happy family life. Shaitan also will not lose the opportunity to incite the players to play for stakes. Very soon, the game started as an intellectual exercise will slip into a game for making money. The only effective way to eradicate gambling from society is to stay clear of such games as commanded by our Imam (a.s.). Hence, Islam has declared that to manufacture the tools of gambling is Haraam; to buy or sell them is Haraam and to spend from the profits of these transactions is Haraam. It is Haraam even to have the tools of gambling in ones possession. It is obligatory to destroy them.
Ishaq Ibne Ammar asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that children play with eggs and cashew nuts in the same way as gambling? Imam (a.s.) told him:
"Do not even eat these things!"
The following verse of the Divine Book ordains the income of gambling to be Haraam and makes it obligatory upon the person who wins to restore the amount back to the person who lost it.
"O you who believe! Do not devour your property among yourselves falsely...?"
(Surah Nisa 4:29)
Playing Games of Chance Without Betting
We know from the above discussion that to play with articles used in gambling even without betting is Haraam.
To sit and watch the game is also Haraam. The practice of Nahy anil Munkar makes it obligatory on us to leave the place where people are gambling. It is recommended (mustahab) that if perchance our eyes fall upon an article of gambling, we should remember Imam Husain (a.s.) and curse Yazid (l.a.).
Fazl Ibne Shazaan reports from Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.), "At the time the blessed head of Husain Ibne Ali (a.s.) was carried into Shaam, Yazid (l.a.) started to dine and drink barley wine (similar to modern day 'beer') with his associates. After the meal, Yazid (l.a.) ordered the blessed head to be kept in a salver and placed at the foot of his throne. A chessboard was spread out and the accursed Yazid sat down to play chess. During the game, he ridiculed Imam Husain (a.s.), his father (a.s.) and grandfather (s.a.w.s.). Whenever he won a game, he used to take hold of the barley wine and drink three goblets. Then he used to pour the remaining wine in the salver upon the head of Imam Husain (a.s.)."
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) then continues, "Whoever is our Shia must abstain from barley wine and chess. One who sees barley wine or chess must remember Imam Husain (a.s.) and invoke curse upon Yazid and the progeny of Yazid. If a Shia does this, Allah the Almighty will forgive all his sins even if they are more numerous than the stars."
(Uyoon Akhbare Reza)
Betting With Articles Not Normally Used For Gambling
To lay bets with articles not usually employed in gambling is also Haraam. Archery and horse racing are exceptions to the extent that it is permissible only for those who participate in the sports to bet amongst themselves. Apart from these two games it is Haraam to bet in any other competition. For example, yatching, weightlifting, lancing etc. The income of the participant who wins is Haraam. He must return it to his opponent.
Horse racing and Archery
It is undoubtedly permissible for participants (and not for spectators) in horse racing and archery to bet among themselves. The winner can rightfully own the amount he wins. Islam has permitted these two competitions because such sports contribute to the overall capabilities of a warrior, and a Muslim well versed in these is better equipped to challenge his adversaries. The details could be pursued in the books of legal rulings.
Shaheed Thani in his book "Masalik" quotes the unanimous verdict of the Mujtahids. Three traditions are recorded in the book "Al-Wafi" from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) which state that except for horse racing and archery whenever a game is played for stakes, the angels are infuriated and curse the people who lay the bet.
It is recorded that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Angles are present when a competition of horse and camel racing or archery is held. Except for these three, every competition is gambling and (also) Haraam."
In another tradition, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has prohibited all types of competitions except these three.
"Except for horse racing, camel racing and archery, no contest is proper."
An authentic tradition by Muhammad Ibne Qays related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:
"Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) issued a verdict against a man who had wagered with his friends on the maximum consumption of sheep's meat. Issuing the judgement Imam (a.s.) said, 'If you have already eaten the sheep, it is yours. But if you have only laid a bet and have not commenced eating, then you have to pay a penalty. This penalty is equal for all the participants and has no connection with who ate more or less. However, he refrained the loser to bear any loss (of money etc.). The one who ate the least and lost the bet will not incur any loss because the bet is invalid.'"
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) concludes that Amirul Momineen (a.s.) has decreed such a deal to be Haraam
(Makasib, quoted from Al Kafi and Tehzeeb)
. Hazrat Jabir (r.a.) narrates from the report of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) who has quoted from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"Every competition is gambling where the loser has to pay a certain amount. Even if it consist of a cashew-nut or wager dung."
To employ any article for the purpose of taking a bet is gambling even if such an article is not generally associated with gambling.
Game Without Wager
There is some difference of opinion among the Mujtahids regarding the games of competition that neither use tools of gambling nor are played with stakes. Most of the jurists consider such competitions to be Haraam.
Allama Hilli (r.a.) in his book "Tazkerah" writes, "Yatching competition is not permitted even if the loser may not have to pay anything. This is the unanimous verdict of the scholars."
Allama Hilli (r.a.) also states, "Competition of throwing stones with ones bare hands is not allowed. In the same way, racing any beast except horse and camel, yatching or racing of birds is not permitted even if a monetary bet is not involved. Cockfights and goat fights are also prohibited. In short, all those contests are prohibited that do not contribute usefully in the field of Jehad. For example, standing on foot for a long time, guessing games or number games, staying under water for a long time. In conclusion, except for horse racing and archery, no competition is permitted. Whether it involves a bet or not."
Certain Jurists like Shaheed Thani do not consider such games Haraam where the tools of gambling are not used and where a bet is not involved. He is inclined to permit such competitions. This opinion appears to be valid especially for a contest where the Haraam aspects of our religion are not compromised in any way or for a contest which has a typical aim like competition of calligraphy, reading, sewing, building, farming, etc. Athletics and boating can also be in the same category. But since most of the Mujtahids have prohibited all competitions except horse racing and archery, it is better to refrain from contests as a precautionary measure.
However even contests that can be considered permissible are prohibited if they involve a risk. For example, hazardous car-racing competition or gluttony and the dangerous methods of yatching are all Haraam for they involve risks.
Purchase of lottery tickets in the name of charity, where the money is not refundable and only a few people win money without any effort, is Haraam. It is gambling and a very great sin.
Playing instruments of music is a Greater Sin. It is Haraam to play instruments like guitar, piano, tambourine, drums etc. Listening to music is also a Greater Sin. Music as a Greater sin is reported by Fazl ibn Shazaan from Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.):
"And to be engrossed in musical instruments is also a Greater Sin."
All the Mujtahids are unanimous in their opinion that the manufacture, sale and purchase of musical instruments is Haraam and the income derived from musical activity is also Haraam. The transactions involving these (instruments) are invalid. It is Haraam even to keep instruments of music in one's possession. It is obligatory to destroy them. This is revealed in a lengthy tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as recorded in the book "Tohafful Uqool". Similarly, Shaykh Hurr al-Aamili records the following tradition from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The Almighty Allah has prohibited the manufacture of all such things that are exclusively used in Haraam ways; and things that only create evil like pipe, flute, chess and all types of instruments of gambling, images, statues. The manufacture of all such articles is Haraam."
Imam (a.s.) concluded, "Then even learning to sing or play music and teaching it, to sing and play music, to be paid for these things or to be in any way engrossed in these vices is Haraam."
Music - According to the Traditions
Some more traditions prohibiting music are given below.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) reports from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said:
"I prohibit for you dancing and playing flute, drums and tabla."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"The Almighty Allah has sent me as a mercy to the worlds, to guide the people. And He ordered me to eradicate the playing of flute and other instruments of music, all games of vice, idol (worship) and all practices of the days of ignorance."
(Mustadrakul Wasael, Chapter 79)
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"A person who has received blessings from Allah and while having these blessings, he plays flute. It is as if he has been thankless of the blessings."
Every moment of our lives, we are enjoying Allah's unlimited benevolence.
Music Causes Shamelessness and Hypocrisy
The Sixth Imam (a.s.) has also stated,
"The playing of violin promotes the growth of hypocrisy in the heart like water assists the growth of vegetation (algae)."
Imam (a.s.) also says,
"If drums and cymbals are played at one's house for forty days, Allah will impose a satan by the name of 'faqandir'. The satans will infiltrate into every cell of the person's body. With the spread of this evil, the person loses all sense of dignity and self-esteem. He will then not care as to what he says or what is said about him. Then, this satan blows into this person. As a result, he becomes utterly shameless. So mush so that he is not concerned or affected even if his women are dishonoured."
It is usually observed that the people in whose homes music is played with regularity either using musical instruments or by radio or cassettes are absolutely shameless and wanton.
Musician and the Song
Muadda Ibne Ziyad says, "I was in the company of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) when a person said, "When I go to the toilet, I can hear the singing girls of my neighbour. Sometimes, I remain (in toilet) longer so that I may listen to more of it."
Imam (a.s.) said:
"Desist from listening to music and songs attentively."
Then this man further said, "Master, I do not go to music gatherings! I only hear the sounds!"
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"Have you not read this Quranic verse...
"Surely, the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these shall be questioned about that?"
(Surah Bani Israel 17:36)
The man replied, "I was not aware of this ayat. I regret my actions. I shall not do so in the future. I repent for my past sins and I seek forgiveness from my Lord."
Seeing his condition, Imam (a.s.) said,
"Get up ! Go and perform ghusl and offer namaz and pray for forgiveness. You have certainly been involved in a deadly sin and a terrible situation. You have repented for it and I thank Allah for that; and I seek forgiveness of Allah for all those things that He dislikes. Certainly, Allah only dislikes the evil things. Leave the evil things to the evil people because there are different people suitable for different things."
(Al Kafi Chapter of Music)
Divine Bounties (Barakat) are Removed
Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"Angels do not even enter a house that has wine, drum, tambourine or a flute. Even the prayers of the inhabitants of this house are unacceptable. They are deprived of barakat."
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) has said,
"To listen to a musical instrument is one of the Greater Sins."
The Blackened Face of the Musician
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has stated,
"A person who possesses a sitar, on the day of Qiyamat will be raised with a black face. His hands will be holding a sitar of fire. Seventy thousand angels with maces of fire will be hitting him on the face and the head. The singer will arise from his grave, blind, deaf and dumb. The adulterer will be similarly raised. The player of flute will also be made to rise in this way as will be the drum player."
It means that all such people willemergeon the field of "Mahshar" (on the day of reckoning) as blind, deaf and dumb.
A House Where Music is Played for Forty Days
Hazrat Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) remarks,
"A person invites Divine wrath when in his house instruments like flute, drum and chess are played for forty days. If this man dies within these forty days, his death would be of a sinner and a transgressor. His place shall be in Hell. And what a dreadful place it is!"
(Mustanad al Taraqi)
Music and the Last Period of Time
The traditions concerning the signs of the last stage before the Zuhoor of our Imam (a.s.) mention music:
"And you shall see that music will be so prevalent that no one will dissuade others nor will he find in himself the need to do so. And you shall see that music would be openly played even in the two sanctuaries (the city of Makkah and Madinah)."
This is what we see in the present age where obscene music is openly played in the markets, on the streets, in shops and houses and even cars and no one bothers to prevent it!
So far we have mentioned the punishment of the hereafter for the sin of playing or listening to music. Now, we shall discuss the evils of music that affect life on earth. These evils too are numerous. Scholars have compiled complete books on this subject. For example we have the following books in Persian, "Munazrah Doctor-o-Peer", "Balahaee Ijtemai", "Mauseeqi-o-Islam", etc.
Effects of Music on the Nervous System
Expert Doctors, Scientists and biologists have defined two types of nerves, the principal nerves and the arterial nerves. The principal nerves stretch from the neck to all vital organs. The arterial nerves spread from the main nerves to all parts of the body. The secondary nerves are connected to outward parts of the body and convey the messages to the brain. When the veins enlarge the blood pressure decreases. Due to the shrivelling of blood vessels, the blood pressure increases. When the blood pressure varies at different parts of the body it affects the health.
When the secondary nerves work they produce heat whereas the functioning of the central nerves produces the opposite effect. It is due to these nerves that feelings of sloth, sleep, thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, grief, sorrow, fainting, unconsciousness and even death occur. Obviously, when music can affect various nerves, it can give rise to various maladies. Mental diseases as well as physical ailments can occur. These mental effects can destroy man's reasoning capacity. It is for this reason that one who listens to music is unable to perform work that can be accomplished by a sane person.
Music creates vibrations in the body and these are conveyed to all the parts of the body through the nervous system. As a result of this, indigestion occurs. Music affects the heart in such a way that the heartbeats become irregular. The blood pressure goes awry. All such ailments make a person permanently ill. Consequently, even modern medical science, in spite of its astonishing progress, fails in such a situation. Sometimes, the music is so intense that the listeners lose their sanity. They become dumb and various kinds of mental diseases occur. In places where music is more prevalent, we find that there are more neurotic illnesses. It is for this reason that more mental hospitals are to be found in Europe and America.
Dr. Adlen writes against music, "Even though it seems pleasant, the effect of music is profound upon the nervous system. Especially, when the temperature is high, the ill effect of music is more. This is the reason that ill effects of music are more in the hot areas of Iran and Saudi Arabia. The American people are so disgusted with the bane of music that they have united to demand from the senate a permanent ban on music. It is a pity that the whole world clearly perceives the evils of music and yet adopts music as entertainment."
(Refer to the booklet; "Tasir Mausiqi bar Asaab" Pg.3, 6
source : GREATER SINS by Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)