Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad Reza al-Muzaffar
Fraternization of Muslims with each other, apart from the great variety of social classes, ranks, or positions, is one of the greatest and most excellent instructions upon which the religion of Islam is based. On the other hand, one of the most disgraceful offenses committed by Muslims, in the present and past ages, has been their negligence of abiding by the requirements of such Islamic fraternity.
The least requirement of this fraternity, as is expressed by Imam al-Sadiq (`a), is that a Muslim should wish for his brother what he wishes for himself and hate for him what he hates for himself.(55)
If one looks attentively at this characteristic, which is easy in the eyes of the Ahl al-Bayt (`a), one will discover that it is the most difficult matter required from Muslims of this age who are, unfortunately, far away from the genuine spirit of Islam.
Think carefully about this simple characteristic; if Muslims can supposedly consider their state fairly, recognize the reality of their religion, and abide by this characteristic of wishing for others what they wish for themselves, there shall be no place for wrongdoing, transgression, theft, dishonesty, backbiting, tale-bearing, false accusation, slander, insult, or haughtiness.
In plain words, if Muslims can think carefully and apply this characteristic of fraternity among themselves, there will be no place for injustice and oppression on this globe, human beings will be as “brethren, on raised couches, face to face”(56) after they attain the highest levels of social happiness. Moreover, the ancient philosophers’ dream of establishing a utopia will come true. When that day comes, Muslims, treating each other with mutual love and affection, will be in no need for governments, courts, police, jails, penal law, or provisions and infliction of punishment. Had they committed themselves to the requirements of fraternity, they would not have been colonized, would not have cringed before despots, would not have been ruled tyrannically, and the earth would have been totally changed into Paradise and an abode of happiness.
Furthermore, if the law of mutual love had reigned in the hearts of humanity as religion had planned to put it into practice through the teachings of fraternity, the word ‘justice’ would have been removed from all languages. We would no longer call for justice and its laws as long as there would be the law of mutual love disseminating decency, peace, happiness, and felicity among everybody. Of course, man will not need to use justice, nor will law request for it, except when mutual love flees from those who are required to treat others fairly. As for those who exchange love with us, such as our sons and brothers, we treat them excellently and give up many of our desires for their sake on the grounds of mutual love and affection, not justice and interests. The fact is that man is prone to love himself and love what is compatible with him; it is, therefore, not easy for him to love something or someone that he is not attached to.
It is also difficult for man to sacrifice his desires and lovable things for another person whom he does not love or care for except when an idea more powerful than personal desires overtakes him, such as the goodness of justice and philanthropy. Only then can man sacrifice desirable things for others. Even so, such a sacrifice is made for the sake of fulfilling other desires that are more powerful than the sacrificed desires, such as his idea about justice, which must be one of his favorite desires if not a part of his own entity.
The formation of such perfect ideas in man requires spiritual soaring over materialistic considerations. Only after man fails to form in himself the feelings of mutual fraternity and sympathy between members of his kind and himself might he realize the supreme ideal in justice and philanthropy.
The first step towards Islam is to possess feelings of fraternity for others. When a Muslim individual fails to do so, owing to the prevalence of desires and selfishness in personalities, then he must form in himself an idea about justice and philanthropy through compliance with the teachings of Islam. However, if he fails to do either, then he will not be worthy of being called a Muslim although he may claim belonging to Islam. “He will be dismissed from the circle of loyalty and obedience to Almighty Allah Who will not grant him any share of His custody,” as clearly expressed by Imam al-Sadiq (`a).
In most cases, man is overcome by his intense whims; therefore, the most difficult matter for man may be to accept the idea of justice, not to mention holding it as the perfect faith.
Therefore, the obligations of religious fraternity have been one of the most difficult teachings of Islam, especially for those who lack honest feelings toward fraternity. In view of this fact, Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (`a), on account of his pity for the asker, deemed wise not to mention the duties towards one’s brethren-in-faith more than the necessary, lest it would be impossible for the asker, namely al-Mu`alla ibn Khunays, to carry out all the duties towards his brethren-in-faith: Al-Mu`alla (asking Imam al-Sadiq): What are the duties of a Muslim towards other Muslims?
The Imam (`a): A Muslim enjoys seven rights that are incumbent upon other Muslims to carry out. Each of these rights is absolutely incumbent. If a Muslim violates any of these rights, he will be dismissed from the circle of loyalty and obedience to Almighty Allah Who shall not grant him any share of His custody.
Al-Mu`alla: May Allah accept me as ransom for you! What are these rights?
The Imam (`a): Indeed, I feel pity for you, al-Mu`alla! I am afraid lest you will violate these rights and neglect to put them into practice after you learn of them.
Al-Mu`alla: There is no power save Allah!
Only then did Imam al-Sadiq (`a) mention these seven duties the easiest of which, as is expressed by the Imam (`a) himself, is to wish for your brethren-in-faith what you wish for yourself and hate for them what you hate for yourself.
How astonishing! This is the easiest duty! How can we, Muslims of the present age, practise this duty on ourselves? Shame on those who claim being Muslims while they refrain from carrying out the slightest duty imposed on them towards their brothers.
What is more astonishing is that the current retardation of Muslims is attributed to Islam; while it is the fault of none except those who call themselves Muslims but do not carry out the slightest duty instructed by their religion.
In order to realize our reality as a negligent nation and in order that history will record this for us, I will mention, hereinafter, these seven rights as clarified by Imam al-Sadiq (`a):
(1) You should love for your brother-in-faith what you love for yourself and you should despise for him what you despise for yourself.
(2) You should avoid his displeasure, pursue what pleases him, and obey his command.
(3) You should help him with your self, your wealth, your tongue, your hands, and your feet.
(4) You should be his eyes, his guide, and his mirror.
(5) You should not fill your stomach whilst he is hungry, you should not quench your thirst whilst he is thirsty, and you should not clothe yourself whilst he is naked.
(6) If you should have a servant whilst he does not have one, you should send over your servant to wash his clothes and prepare his food and bedding.
(7) You should fulfill your vows to him, answer his calls, respond when he invites you, visit him when he is ill, and accompany his bier; and if he should have a need, you should rush to fulfill it and not give him the trouble to ask you for it.
The Imam (`a) then concluded his words with the following result: When you have done all these, your friendship unites you together.(57)
There are many traditions, reported from our Holy Imams (`a), bearing the same purport of the aforementioned one. A big number of such traditions have been compiled in various sections of the book of ‘Wasa’il al-Shi`ah’.
Some people may conceive that fraternity to which the Holy Imams (`a) have referred is dedicated to brotherliness between their followers (i.e. Shi`ah) exclusively. However, a glance at their traditions as a whole cancels out this misconception despite the fact that the Holy Imams (`a), on many other occasions, have intensely condemned those who dissent from their way and reject following their guidance.
In this respect, it is sufficient to read the following narration: Mu`awiyah ibn Wahab narrated that he, once, asked Imam al-Sadiq (`a): How should we behave with those members of our community and associates who are not following our sect?
The Imam (`a): You must imitate your Imams (`a) whom you follow, and then do exactly as they do. Truly, they (i.e. the Imams) visit the sick (among those who are not Shi`ah), present themselves in their funeral ceremonies, give upright testimony for or against them, and give them back their things that they trust with them.(58)
The kind of fraternity that the Holy Imams (`a) want from their followers is actually more refined than the general sense of fraternity in Islam. In the previous chapter while defining the true sense of Shi`ism, we referred to some narrations in this respect. However, it is sufficient to cite the following dialogue between Aban ibn Taghlib and Imam al-Sadiq (`a), as reported by Aban himself: While I, Aban, was performing the ritual Circumambulating (tawaff) in the company of Imam al-Sadiq (`a), one of our fellows, who had previously asked me to accompany him in a mission, appeared before me. As he signaled to me, Imam al-Sadiq (`a) saw us, “Aban: Are you the one intended by that man?” asked the Imam (`a).
“Yes, I am,” I answered.
“Is he of the same faith as you?” wondered the Imam (`a).
“Yes, he is,” I answered.
“Then,” the Imam (`a) instructed, “go with him and break your circumambulation.”
“Should I do so even if the Circumambulation is obligatory?” I asked.
“Yes, you should,” he answered.
So, I went with that man. When I returned, I visited the Imam (`a) and asked him about the duties towards brethren-in-faith.
“Leave the matter. Do not ask me about it,” said the Imam (`a).
Nevertheless, I repeated the same question insistently until the Imam (`a) answered me, saying, “Aban: (the duty towards one’s brother-in-faith is that) you give him half of your fortune.”
As he looked at me and noticed my surprise, the Imam (`a) said, “Aban, you should have known that Almighty Allah has mentioned (with praise) those who give others preference over themselves?”
“Yes, I knew that,” I answered.
The Imam (`a) said, “If you give your brother-in-faith half of what you have in possession, you have not yet given him preference over yourself. But if you give him from the other half, only then have you given him preference.”(59)
Actually, our shameful state of affairs does not encourage us to consider ourselves true believers. Very remote are we from the teachings of our Holy Imams (`a). The same surprise that struck Aban may strike everyone who reads this tradition, causing him to turn his face away, to pretend that this tradition is not addressed to him, and avoid “judging himself as if he is the criminal. ”Actually, our shameful state of affairs does not encourage us to consider ourselves true believers. Very remote are we from the teachings of our Holy Imams (`a). The same surprise that struck Aban may strike everyone who reads this tradition, causing him to turn his face away, to pretend that this tradition is not addressed to him, and avoid “judging himself as if he is the criminal.”
55. () See al-Mahasin by al-Barqi (AH 274 or 280), 1:72, Section: bab al-Sittah (The Six); Kanz al-Fawa’id by al-Karajaki (AH 449), pp. 141; al-Amali by al-Shaykh al-Tusi (AH 460), pp. 478, H.1043, Session No. 17, H.12; Wasa’il al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (AH 1104), 12:211, 212, 213, H.16111, 16113, 16114, Section: bab ada’ haqq al-mu’min wa jumlatun min huquqihi al-wajibah wa’l-mandubah (Fulfillment of the Believers’ Rights; Some Obligatory and Recommended Rights of the Believers), H.21, 23, 24; Bihar al-Anwar by al-Majlisi (AH 1111), 27:89, H.41 & 71:226, 235, 236, H.16, 17, 32, 36…; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal (AH 241), 1:89, 3:176, 206, 272, 278, 289; Sunan al-Darimi (AH 255), 2:307, Section: bab la yu’minu ahadukum hatta yuhibba li-akhihi… (One Is Faithless Before Loving For His Brother-In-Faith What One Loves For Oneself); Sahih al-Bukhari (AH 256), 1:9, Section: bab min al-iman an yuhibba li-akhihi ma yuhibbu li-nafsihi (To Love For Brethren-In-Faith What One Loves For Oneself Is Part Of Faith); Sahih Muslim (AH 261), 1:48; Sunan Ibn Majah (AH 275), 26:66, Section: bab fi’l-iman (Faith); Sunan al-Tirmidhi (AH 279), 4:76, H.2634; al-Sunan al-Kubra by al-Nassa’i (AH 303), 8:115, 125, Section: `alamat al-mu’min (Distinctive Features of True Believers).
56. () This is a metaphorical phrase quoted from the following holy verse: And We will root out whatever of rancor is in their breasts– (they shall be) as brethren, on raised couches, face to face. (15/47)
57. () See Kitab al-Mu’min by al-Husayn ibn Sa`id al-Kufi al-Ahwazi (before AH 300), pp. 40; al-Kafi by al-Kulayni (AH 329), 2:172, Section: bab haqq al-mu’min `ala akhihi wa ada’ haqqih (Rights of Believers Upon One Another and the Meeting of These Rights), H.2; Musadaqat al-Ikhwan by Shaykh al-Saduq (AH 381), pp. 42, H.4, Section: bab huquq al-ikhwan ba`dhuhum `ala ba`dh (Reciprocal Rights of Brethren-In-Faith); Rawdhat al-Wa`izin by al-Fattal al-Naysaburi (AH 508), pp. 291, Session: fi dhikr manaqib ashab al-a’immati wa fadha’il al-shi`ah wa’l-abdal (Merits of the Holy Imam’ Companions; Merits of the Shi`ah and the Substitutes); Mishkat al-Anwar fi Ghurar al-Akhbar by al-Tabrisi (the seventh century of Hijrah), pp. 47, Chapter Four: fi manzilat al-shi`ah `inda allah wa huququhum wa ma yajibu an yakunu `alayhi (The Shi`ah Position Near Allah and their Rights and How They Should Be) & pp. 336; Wasa’il al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (AH 1104), 12:205, H.16097, Section: bab ada’ haqq al-mu’min wa jumlatun min huquqihi al-wajibah wa’l-mandubah (Fulfillment of the Believers’ Rights; Some Obligatory and Recommended Rights of the Believers), H.7.
58. () See al-Kafi by al-Kulayni (AH 329), 2:636, H.4, Section: bab ma yajibu min al-mu`asharah (Obligatory Matters of Association); Mishkat al-Anwar fi Ghurar al-Akhbar by al-Tabrisi (the seventh century of Hijrah), pp. 134; Wasa’il al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (AH 1104), 12:6, H.15497, Section: bab `ishrat al-nas (Association With People), H.3.
59. () See al-Kafi by al-Kulayni (AH 329), 2:172, Section: fi anna al-tawakhi lam yaqa` `ala al-din wa innama huwa al-ta`aruf (Brotherhood Is Not On Account of Religion Only; Rather It Is Association), H.8; Musadaqat al-Ikhwan by Shaykh al-Saduq (AH 281), pp. 38-40, Section: bab huquq al-ikhwan ba`dhuhum `ala ba`dh (Reciprocal Rights of Brethren-In-Faith), H.2; Wasa’il al-Shi`ah by al-Hurr al-`Amili (AH 1104), 12:209, H.16106, Section: wujub ada’ haqq al-mu’min… (The Obligation of Fulfilling the Believers’ Rights), H.16 & 13:384 H.18018, Section: bab jawaz qat` al-tawaff al-mandub mutlaqan…
Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad Reza al-Muzaffar