By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The Holy Legislator has emphasized practicing justice in social relations and associations. The purpose behind such emphasis is to reveal the necessity of this rule in firming up its superstructure. In this connection, we can mention a few examples that carry special denotations.
Avoiding Confidential Talks in Public Sessions
The Holy Legislator has warned against holding a confidential talk between two persons when there is a third person sitting with them. The Holy Qur’an has censured some Muslims who returned to holding secret counsels after they had been forbidden to do so: Have you not seen those who are forbidden secret counsels, then they return to what they are forbidden, and they hold secret counsels for sin and revolt and disobedience to the Messenger. (58:8)
According to an authentic tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said: If there are three persons sitting together, two of them must not talk confidentially to one another and leave their third mate, because this act saddens and injures him.1
If a person speaks to a number of people or sits with them, it will be appropriate to distribute his glances among them fairly; that is to look at each of them equally. In this respect, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported through a valid tradition, to have said: The Messenger of Allah (S) used to distribute his glances among his companions equally. He used to look at each one of them in an equal manner. He has never stretched his legs while he was sitting among his companions. When he shook hands with them, he would never leave their hands until they would do. When they realized this manner, they would quickly pull their hands away.2
It is required not to break one’s discourse or interrupt him while talking. Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported through a familiar chain of authority that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever interrupts the discourse of his brother-in-faith, it will be as if he has scratched his face.3
Good-manners Endear people
In the previous demonstration of principles and rules of social relations, we learnt that good manners, i.e. courtesy endears people and corresponds to openness (in social relations) as well as its moral content, that is love. Moreover, if this love is intended purely for the sake of Almighty Allah, it will turn, as required, into faith, belief, and doctrine. Animosity, disputation and argument are forbidden, because incurring the hostility and hatred of people are prohibited.
“A Faithful believer must be gentle and lenient”
We may add to the aforementioned discussion that the Holy Legislator has strongly encouraged the believers to be gentle and lenient in the totality of their social relations with others. According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: May I inform you of those who shall be forbidden to Hellfire? They are the gentle, easily contacted, lenient, and simple ones.4
Other traditions have confirmed this fact. For instance, it is reported that one of the Holy Imams (‘a) has said: True believers are gentle and lenient. They are like tame camels—they obey when they are driven, and kneel down even on a rock when made to kneel down.5
This pertains to social relations. As for political relations and commitment to duties, pledges, and covenants as well as questions related to faith and belief, faithful believers are required to be strong, sturdy, and durable. It is therefore important for faithful believers to combine lenience in social relations and sturdiness in principles and faith.
Confirming this, it is related that faithful believers must be characterized by happy mien and bright appearance. In this regard, one of the Holy Imams (‘a) is reported to have said: Acts of kindness and bright appearance yield affection and give allowance to Paradise, while stinginess and frowning drive away from Almighty Allah and lead to Hellfire.6
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have narrated that a man came to the Holy Prophet (S) and asked for an advice. One advice given to him was, Receive your brother with cheerful mien.7
Hasan ibn al-Husayn has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) quoting the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: O sons of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, you will not contain people with your fortunes; therefore, meet them with a bright face and happy mien.8
Ranks of endearment to people and indulgence
Paying Visits and Exchanging Meetings
We have shed light on the significance of exchanging visits to achieve the emotional objective of building good social relations with people; namely, love. The encouragement of paying visits makes possible meetings of the faithful believers and gives a better chance to practice courtesy and indulgence.
Confirming the significance of paying visits, the Holy Prophet (S) has said within his instruction to Imam ‘Ali (‘a), Walk four miles and visit a brother-in-faith.9
Shu’ayb al-’Aqarqufi has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying to his companions, Always exchange visits and meet each other.10
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have said: In homelands, exchanging visits is the means of association among brothers-in-faith.11
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is also reported to have mentioned that to pay visit to a brother-in-faith is one of the duties towards him.12
He (‘a) is also reported to have said: Never be weary of visiting your brothers-in-faith. When a believer meets one of his brothers-in-faith and says “hello,” (the reward of) a permanent salutation will be recorded for him up to the Day of Resurrection. If he shakes hands with him, Almighty Allah will send one hundred items of mercy between their thumbs, ninety-nine of which will be for the more loving of the two to the other. Then, Almighty Allah will advance to both of them with His Face, but He will advance more to the more loving of the two to the other. If they embrace each other, they will be surrounded with mercy.13
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) established a general objective for such visits, meetings, and indulgent behavior. The objective was to create a high-level rank of mutual love, affection, and spiritual and moral association among faithful believers. Expressing this objective, Imam ‘Ali (‘a) says, Associate with people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.14
This indulgent behavior is not an ordinary ostentation that can be understood as an attempt to gain personal interests or a state of hypocrisy; rather, it is an act involving a real goal and content; namely, love and affection.
The Holy Legislator has taken much interest in setting up excellent principles, rules, and regulations in favor of achieving the best results of these visits and associations. These principles and regulations will be cited after the following steps:
Meeting People with a Good Mien and Salutation
Meeting people is regarded as the first step of building good social relations with people. The form and method of meeting have therefore been the first step in endearing oneself to people. In the course of achieving this goal, Islam has advised of a number of matters at the top of which are the following three:
Being the First to Greet
Islam has urged being the first to offer salutation and taking the initiative in greeting the person one meets. According to a validly reported tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said: The first to offer salutation is nearer to Allah and His Messenger (S).15
According to another validly reported tradition, Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a) has said: One of the traits of a true believer is that he should be the first to greet the other believers.16
Through a valid chain of authority, the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: Precede greeting to talking. Hence, do not answer him who begins with talking before greeting.17
Islam has given greeting a special importance making it the slogan of Muslims and setting up many detailed rules of etiquette so that it would take a distinctive position in mutual association among Muslims. The author of Wasa’il a-Shi’ah, for instance, has dedicated more than twenty sections of his book to explaining the details of these etiquettes and rules. It is therefore advisable to refer to these sections.18 Some of these details have already been mentioned within the previous sections of this book while others will be hopefully cited in the coming books on the systems of rituals and acts of worship.
Meeting People with a Cheerful Mien
The second matter in the first step towards endearment to people is to meet Muslims with a bright face and cheerful mien: In this respect, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) reported the Holy Prophet (S) to have said: Three things will prove your friendship to your Muslim brother. Warmly welcoming him, making room for him in meetings when he arrives, and calling him by his dearest names.19
Smiling at brothers-in-faith comes under the same title. Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: To smile in the face of a brother-in-faith is a rewardable deed and to ward off motes from him is a rewardable deed, too. Almighty Allah has never been worshipped by any better act than giving pleasure to a faithful believer.20
Speaking Good Words
The third leading matter in the first step towards endearment of oneself to people is to speak good words when meeting a brother-in-faith. Many traditions have borne confirmations on exchanging greetings and speaking affectionately.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: Verily, Almighty Allah likes exchanging greetings.21
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said within a long discourse, Imam ‘Ali (‘a) used to say, “Do not be angry and do not enrage others. Exchange greetings, be courteous, and pray at night when people are asleep; you will easily be allowed into Paradise. Almighty Allah says, ‘He is Allah… the Giver of peace, the Granter of security, the Guardian over all… (59:23)’”22
Second Step: Shaking hands, Embracing, Kissing, and Expressing Love
Choosing the most appropriate manner in dealing with others is the second step through which courtesy, indulgence, and endearment of oneself to others can be practiced. In this step, the Holy Legislator has highlighted, urged, and advised of a number of manners.
To shake hands with others when meeting them gives expression to affection, love, and friendliness.
Through a valid chain of authority, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said: When two believers meet and shake hands, Almighty Allah will advance to them with His Face and their sins will fall from them in the same way as leaves fall from trees.23
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Shake hands with each other, because this act removes rancor.24
Other traditions have confirmed the significance and vital role that shaking hands plays in building good social relations, in the capacity of its being another motto raised by Islam.25
Embracing and Kissing
To embrace and kiss each other is another manifestation of love and affection as well as an expression of courtesy.
A tradition holds that Imam al-Baqir and Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) have said: Any believer who leaves his house intending to visit a brother-in-faith as an acknowledgement of his duty towards him, Almighty Allah shall record for him a reward for each step he walks, erase an evildoing he has committed, and raise him a rank. If he knocks the door of his brother-in-faith, the doors of the heavens shall be opened before him. If they meet, shake hands, and embrace each other, Almighty Allah shall advance to them with His Face and then take pride in them before the angels, saying, “Look at these two servants of Mine. They have visited and loved each other for My sake. It is thus incumbent upon Me not to torture them with Hellfire after this situation of them.”26
According to another authentic tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said: When two faithful believers embrace each other, mercy will spread over them. If they touch each other for no other purpose than seeking nearness to Almighty Allah, without having any worldly point, it will be then said to them, “You are forgiven. So, go on in this manner.” If they hold a confidential talk, the angels will then say to each other, “Step aside! These two have a secret that Almighty Allah has covered for them.”27
It has been narrated that when Ja’far ibn Abi-Talib returned from Abyssinia (after years of refuge), his return concurred with the conquest of Khaybar at the hands of Imam ‘Ali (‘a). Once his eyes fell on Ja’far, the Holy Prophet (S) walked twelve steps forward to receive Ja’far. He then embraced, kissed him between the eyes, wept, and said, “Indeed, I do not know for which matter I am happier. Is it for your return, Ja’far, or is it for the conquest of Khaybar that Almighty Allah has given at the hands of your brother?” Thus, the Holy Prophet (S) wept for joy when he saw Ja’far.28
Through an authentic chain of authority, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: Shaking hands is the consummate greeting of a resident, while embracing is the consummate greeting of one going on a journey.29
Telling About Love
The third matter in the second step towards endearing oneself to people is to tell the brothers-in-faith that you love them. To reveal this emotion can be once expressed practically through shaking hands, embracing, and kissing, or by directly saying it.
Concerning the second way, it is reported through a valid way of narration that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said: If you love somebody, you should inform him, because this way firms up affection between you and him more strongly.
According to another tradition, … because it maintains affection and increases familiarity.
According to a third tradition, the Imam (‘a) is reported to have said: If you love one of your brothers-in-faith, you should inform him about that. Prophet Abraham (‘a) said, “‘My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead?’ He said, ‘What! And do you not believe?’ He said, ‘Yes, but that my heart may be at ease.’” (2:260)30
1. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:472, S. 72, H. 1.
2. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:499, H. 1.
3. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:472, S. 73.
4. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:510, S. 106, H. 1.
5. – Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:234, H. 14.
6. – Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 2:103, H. 5.
7. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:512, H. 2.
8. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:512, H. 4.
9. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:248, H. 3.
10. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 12:21, H. 9.
11. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:494, S. 93, H. 2.
12. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:545, H. 8.
13. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:564, H. 3.
14. – Nahj al-Balaghah, Saying No. 10.
15. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:435, H. 1.
16. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:436, H. 2.
17. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:436, H. 4.
18. – Refer to Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:435-454 & 456-458.
19. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:409, S. 30, H. 2.
20. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:483, H. 2.
21. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:438, H. 1.
22. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:438, S. 34, H. 3.
23. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:554, H. 2.
24. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:554, H. 5.
25. – Refer to S. 27 of the same previous reference book.
26. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:563, H. 1.
27. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:563, H. 2.
28. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:559, H. 1.
29. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:449, S. 44, H. 1.
30. – Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 8:434, S. 31, H. 1, 2, 3.