Islamic Laws

Piety and Society (Social Piety)

By: Sayyed Hussain Sheikh al-Islami Tooyserkani
One of the other cases in which one must observe piety (Taqwa) is the association with people, which is considered as social piety. If piety is observed in the social relations, the world would turn into paradise, for every man’s suffering, backwardness, misfortune, and wretchedness are the result of not observing of piety.
If piety rules over a society, if the society is based on piety, and if social relations are piety-based and if a society has the dress of piety, that society will become firm and independent. But what is social piety the observance of which is incumbent on people?
We have already said that piety, in relation to every topic, fits that particular subject, though they have the same meaning, and that is the refraining from disobeying the orders of God and the Prophet (a.s.).
In associating with other people, there are certain rules we should observe. In Islam, in addition to the divine rights which are specially related to God Himself and every Muslim has to observe like the obedience to God, there are other rights towards others such as the divine rights on man like the divine right on man’s tongue, ears, eyes, hands, feet, and private parts, or the divine rights on man’s acts like prayer, fasting, charity, or the divine rights towards the prophets, imams, and other people. There is the treatise on rights attributed to Imam Sajjad (AS) in which all the rights have been elaborated.
Parents’ Rights
About parents, there are certain rights which have been mentioned in the holy Quran, but unfortunately little attention is paid to them in the Muslim society. Every Muslim, especially the youngsters, should read books on this topic to know what duty they have and realize what benefits there are in being kind to their parents and what losses there are in annoying or hurting them.
Muhaqqiq Ardabili has been reported as saying: “Both intellect and narrations stress the respecting of parents’ rights. The necessity of obeying them is supported by the Quranic verses and the Prophetic traditions in a way that their orders are so effective that they can prevent their sons from going to the warfront.”
Imam Sadiq (AS) has been reported by Jabir as saying: “A man came to the messenger of Allah, saying: ‘I am fond of Jihad and very interested in it.’ The holy prophet (SAW) said: ‘So fight in the way of Allah, and if you are killed, you will be living with God and given sustenance. If you die, your reward will be with God, and if you return from war front, you will be cleansed of your sins as the day you were born.’ The man said: ‘O messenger of Allah! I have old parents who depend on me and they are not pleased with my going to war.’ The holy prophet (SAW) said: ‘Attend to your parents then! By God in Whose hand my life is, your helping them for one night is better than the jihad of one year.”1
a. The importance of parents’ rights is such that God Almighty says: “And serve Allah and do not associate anything with Him and be good to the parents.”2
b. Being grateful to them as God has said: “And We have enjoined man in respect of his parents – his mother bears him with fainting upon fainting and his weaning takes two years – saying: Be grateful to Me and to both parents; to Me is the eventual coming.”3
c. God also says: “And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “Ugh” nor chide them, and speak to them a gracious word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! Have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little.”4
This instruction is the best method of kindness and good association. In no law in the world, there are such instructions about parents.
All the traditions, which have reached us, are based on the same rights. For example, if we speak of the companions of the Raqeem (the companions of the cave), or the matter of the Cow of children Israel in the Quranic verses and prophetic traditions, or a Christian mother who converts to Islam, or when it is said that Owais al-Qarani had the smell of paradise, or when God introduces al-Khidhr to Prophet Moses (AS), they are all the result of respecting and being kind to parents.
If we think of al-Khidhr when killing the young boy during his journey with Prophet Moses (AS) or the young boy who suffered too much at dying, or Jurayh the worshipper of the Children of Israel, and other examples, we find that it is all due to hurting and annoying their parents.
Whenever we come across verses or traditions about parents, we find that they all are based on dutifulness and benevolence. Here, we would like to refer to some of stories.
The holy prophet (SAW) has been reported as saying: “Three persons of the former generations were walking in a way when it started raining hard. So they took refuge in a cave. A stone rolled down and closed the opening of the cave. One of them said: ‘By God, nothing can save you except truthfulness. So ask God’s help for being truthful.’ One of the three said: ‘O God! You know that a laborer worked in my rice field. I spent his wage on farming and buying some cows. The laborer came to me asking for his wage. I said: ‘these cows belong to you. Take them.’
The man said: ‘(O Lord) If You know that I did so because of the fear of You, so deliver us!’ The stone moved a little aside. The second one said: ‘I had old parents for whom I took milk every night. One night, I was late. When I took the milk to them, they had gone to sleep. Although my wife and children were hungry, I said to myself: I will first give milk to my parents. Therefore, I sat up and waited for my parents to wake up. O Lord! If you know that I did so because I feared You, rescue us. The stone moved further aside so they could see the sky.
The third man said: ‘O Lord! You know that I had a cousin whom I loved very much. I asked her for something indecent. She refused unless I would give her a hundred Dinars. I gave her the money and subdued her. When we were about to have conjugal relation, she said: Fear Allah, and give it up! I got up and gave it up. O Lord! If you know that I did so because I feared You, rescue us! God made an opening in the cave and they came out safely.”5
Imam Baqir (AS) has been reported as saying: “Among the Children of Israel, there was an ascetic called Jurayh who lived in a monastery. One day his mother came to him while he was engaged in prayer. The mother called him but Jurayh ignored her. Returning from the monastery, the mother said: I ask the God of the Children of Israel to disgrace you!’
The following day, a prostitute went to the monastery. She was in labor, claiming that the child belong to Jurayh. Soon, the story spread among the Israelites. People said: ‘The one who blamed us for adultery, has committed adultery himself!’ The king ordered Jurayh to be hanged. Jurayh’s mother went to him while beating on her head. Jurayh said: ‘Be silent, for this is because of your curse! What am I to do with adultery?’ The people, who heard this, said: ‘O Jurayh, how can you prove that you are innocent?’ Jurayh said: ‘Bring the child!’ The child was brought. Jurayh said: ‘Who is your father?’ The child said: so-and-so shepherd from so-and-so tribe.’
God denied what they had said about Jurayh. Jurayh took oath that he would serve his mother and never part from her.”6
Undutifulness to one’s parents is considered as a major sin whose punishment is Fire. Sheikh Sadooq in Khisal and Elal has reported Imam Sadiq (AS) as saying: “In the book of Imam Ali (AS), I came across five major sins; polytheism, undutifulness to one’s parents, swallowing up usury, escaping from the sacred war, and to join the land of disbelief after having migrate to the land of faith (turning a disbeliever after having been faithful).”
It is narrated that one day the messenger of Allah (SAW) was sitting in the mosque when Gabriel came to him, saying: Peace be on you, O messenger of Allah! Put your feet in the al-Baqee’ Cemetery so that the breeze of your mercy will blow on the dead. The holy prophet (SAW) along with the companions set out to al-Baqee’ Cemetery. Imam Ali (AS) met them in the way, asking: ‘Where are you going?’ The Holy Prophet (SAW) said: ‘To al-Baqee’.’ When they reached al-Baqee’ Cemetery, a person was saying loudly: ‘Save me, O messenger of Allah!’ The holy prophet (SAW) said: ‘Tell me of your punishment!’ The man said: ‘O the intercessor of the disobedient! The curse of my mother has afflicted me with such punishment!’
The holy prophet (SAW) asked Bilal to proclaim in Medina: “O people, gather at the graveyard of your parents.” All the people of Medina came to the cemetery. A crookbacked old woman leaning on a walking-stick came to the holy prophet (SAW), bowed to him, and asked: ‘O messenger of Allah! What is this order for?’ The holy prophet (SAW) asked: ‘Is this your son’s grave?’ She said: ‘Yes, it is.’
The holy prophet (SAW) said: ‘Your son is being tortured. Forgive him!’ She said: ‘I will not forgive him!’ The holy prophet (SAW) asked the reason. She said: ‘I reared him with much trouble and suffering, hoping that one day he might help me. But when he grew up he was a trouble for me.’ The holy prophet (SAW) asked her to forgive him, raising his hands to supplicate: ‘O Lord! By the holiness of the Five Ones of the Cloak,7 make the voice of this man be heard by his mother, so that she may have pity and mercy on him.’ Then, the holy prophet (SAW) said: ‘O woman! Put your ears on the grave to hear the moaning of your son.’ The old woman did so and she heard very moving moaning. She began weeping. She said: ‘O messenger of Allah! O master of the messengers! O intercessor of sinners! What is this cry coming from the grave that says: There is fire on me, fire under me, fire on my right, fire on my left, and fire before me. (I seek) safety, safety, safety! O mother, forgive me or I shall be tormented until the Day of Resurrection.’
Having pity on her son, the old women said: ‘O Lord! I forgive my son.’
At that very moment, the son received Allah’s mercy and cried out: ‘O mother! May Allah be pleased with you as He is pleased with me.’8
1. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 52.
2. Qur’an, 4:36.
3. Qur’an, 31:14.
4. Qur’an, 17:23-24.
5. Al-Khisal, p. 184.
6. Al-Ta’reef fee Huqooq al-Walidayn, p. 62.
7. The Prophet, Imam Ali, Fatima, Imam Hasan, and Imam Husayn who were covered by the Prophet’s cloak.
8. Huqooq al-Walidain, p. 101.
Children’s Rights
Koleini has reported Zakariyya ibn Ibrahim as saying: “I was Christian, but I converted to Islam. I performed the Hajj and went to see Imam Sadiq (AS). I said to him: ‘I was Christian but I am now a Muslim.’ The Imam (AS) said: ‘What did you see of Islam?’ The new convert said: ‘God Almighty has said: “… you did not know what the Book was, nor (what) the faith (was), but We made it a light, guiding thereby whom We please…”1 The Imam (AS) said: ‘God has guided you.’ Then, the Imam (AS) said three times: “O Lord! Guide him”, and added “Ask me any question you wish O my son.” Zakariyya said: ‘My parents are still Christians. My mother is blind. I am living with them and I eat in the same dish.’ Imam Sadiq (AS) asked: ‘Do they eat pork?’ Zakariyya said: ‘No, they do not even touch it!’ The Imam (AS) said: ‘There is no problem. Take care of your mother! Be kind to her, and when she dies, carry out the funerals yourself. Do not tell anyone that you have visited me until you shall come to me in Mina.’ Zakariyya says: ‘In Mina, I went to the Imam. People had gathered around him like children asking their teacher questions.’”
One of the other rights that people have to observe in association with each other and in society and to exercise piety is the children’s rights.
If we intend to observe the rights of children, we have to practice self-restraint before marriage. It is said that a king asked a scholar the following question: “Why is it that some of our children become good and some of your children, you scholars, become bad?” The scholar said: “Since you associate with us and eat from our lawful food, this kind of food will be a source of good for the fetus who turns into a good child. But when we eat from your unlawful food it shall affect our children.”2
You have to take into consideration the temper of the woman you are going to marry.
Ibrahim al-Karkhi reports: “Imam Sadiq (AS) said to me: ‘Be careful whom you choose as partner in your wealth and to whom you confide your secret.”3
One should note that mothers greatly affect children’s appearance. In this relation, Imam Baqir (AS) said: “A man from the Ansar along with his wife came to the messenger of Allah (AS) saying: ‘O messenger of Allah, this is my cousin and wife. She is chaste, but she has given birth to a black child who has wide-open nostrils, curly hair, and flat nose, who is unique in my ancestral family.’ The holy prophet (SAW) asked the woman: ‘What do you say?’ The woman said: ‘I swear by Him Who has sent you with the truth, that I have never slept with anyone other than him since I have got married to him.’
Lowering and then raising his head towrds the sky, the holy prophet (SAW) turned to the man and said: ‘O man, there is no one except that between him and Adam there has been ninety-nine veins (genes) affecting the lineage. Therefore, when the fetus is placed in the womb, these generations become active, asking God the child would resemble them. So, this child is from those generations whom your ancestors have not seen. This is your child then.’
The woman said: “You have delivered me, o messenger of Allah!” 4
A similar story has been reported by Imam Sajjad (AS) on the authority of the holy prophet (SAW). Imam Sadiq (AS) has reported the messenger of Allah (SAW) as saying: “Beware of Khadhra’ud-diman!” He was asked what Khadra’ud-diman was and he said, “A beautiful woman brought up in a bad family.”5
Imam Ali (AS) has been reported as saying: “Avoid marrying a woman of little wisdom and intellect, for associating with her is a disaster and her child is wasted.”6
Imam Sadiq (AS) has been reported as saying: “A group of people came to Imam Ali, saying to him: ‘We want to marry so-and-so man to so-and-so woman. We would like you to pronounce the marriage formula.” Imam Ali (AS) recited a sermon which included praise to Allah and advice of piety.”7
Imam Ali (AS) recommends piety in marriage which is a prelude for reproduction.
Imam Sadiq (AS) has been reported as saying: “Whoever intends to get married should perform a two-rak’a prayer, praise Allah, and say: O Lord! I have intended to get married. I hope You have decreed a pure son from that woman, who shall be pious in my life and after my death.”8
In relation to sexual intercourse, Imam Baqir (AS) has been reported as saying: “Avoid sexual intercourse (with your spouses) when a child is present (watching you), for if you have a child, he will be infamous of debauchery and lewdness.”9
Imam Ali (AS) has been reported by Imam Sadiq (AS) as saying: “Name your children before they are born. If you do not know whether it is a boy or a girl, choose a name of boy and a name of girl, for when your aborted children, who have not been named, shall meet you on the Day of Judgment, they will say to their father: why did you not choose a name for me? The messenger of Allah had named “Mohsin” before he was born.”10
Parents’ duty is to choose a good name for their children. In Uddatod-Da’ee, we read that a man asked the messenger of Allah (SAW): “What is my son’s right (on me)?” The holy prophet (SAW) said: “Choose a good name for him, teach him good manners, and provide a good environment for him.”11
Abu Haroon reports: “I had not visited Imam Sadiq (AS) for some time. When I went to see him, the Imam asked me: ‘Where have you been?’ I said: ‘I have had a son.’ The Imam (AS) said: ‘May God bless him! What is his name?’ I said: ‘I have named him “Mohammad”.’ The Imam (AS) bowed almost to the earth, saying: ‘Mohammad, Mohammad, Mohammad!’ Then he said: ‘May my soul, my son, my family, my parents, and all the living on the earth be sacrificed for the messenger of Allah (SAW). Do not curse him, do not beat him, and do not be impolite to him. Know that there is no house on the earth in which there is the name of “Mohammad” except that that house is sanctified every day.”12
As-Sakooni reports: “I went to visit Imam Sadiq (AS) while I was sad. The Imam said: ‘Sakooni, why are you so sad?’ I said: ‘I have had a daughter.’ The Imam said: ‘Sakooni! Her weight is on the earth and her sustenance is with God. She lives her fixed term, and does not eat your sustenance.’ By God, what the Imam said removed my sadness. Then he said: ‘What name have you chosen for her.’
I said: ‘Fatima.’ The Imam said: ‘Ah, ah, ah!’ Putting his hand on his forehead, he added: ‘Now that you have named her Fatima, do not curse her, nor do beat her!’”13
Sheikh al-Mofeed has reported Yaqoob as-Sarraj as saying: “One day when I had gone to see Imam Sadiq (AS), I found him standing near the cradle of his son, Musa, whispering something in his ears. I took a seat until the Imam finished talking to his son. I got up to greet the Imam (AS) who said to me: ‘Go near your master and greet him!’ I went towards the cradle, greeted the son of the Imam and he answered the greeting. Then, Imam Sadiq (AS) said: ‘Go and change the name you chose for your daughter yesterday. Allah does not like it.’ I had named her “Homaira”. Imam Sadiq (AS) said: ‘Obey your master so that you will be guided in a right way.’ I went home and changed her name.”14
There are traditions from the Imams with respect to naming children like the names of the infallible Imams, their wives, their daughters and not the names of their enemies.
With respect to children, there are certain rules which have to be observed from birth to marriage, most of which are obligatory and some of which are recommendable like the choosing of a surname, offering the sacrifice on the seventh day after the birth of a child, reciting Azan and Iqamah in the ears of the infant, putting a date, soil (from the area around Imam Husayn’s tomb) or some water of the Euphrates in his or her mouth, circumcising, giving charity, breastfeeding, teaching the prayer, fasting, reading and writing, reciting the Holy Quran, teaching what is lawful and what is unlawful, swimming, archery, racing, kissing one’s children, respecting girls more than boys, honoring both, and the like.
With respect to fostering and suckling, Imam Baqir (AS) has reported the Messenger of Allah as saying: “Do not let unwise women, or one-eyed or blind women (and Jewish, Christian, mad, ugly, opponent of the Ahlul Bayt, Magus, or illegitimate women) suckle your children, for suckling has great influence.”15
About Nebuchadnezzar, they have written that he used the milk of dog. That is why he killed seventy thousand Jews and destroyed Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). Nimrod had used the milk of leopard. That is the reason why he waged a battle against God. Ewaj ibn Anaq was breastfed by a bastard; he had become an oppressor and enemy of God. Musa, the son of Ayatollah Sheikh Fazlollah, who was rejoicing over his father’s death, had been breastfed by an anti-Shia woman.
The mother’s milk affects the child’s temper. In the books of parable, we read: A camel and an ass met in a pasture. They enquired after each other’s health. The ass said: I used to carry loads for long years. Now that I have grown decrepit, my master has abandoned me. How about you? The camel said: the story is the same with me. When I was strong, my master took me with him in long journeys, but now he has abandoned me here. The ass said: let us graze here so as not to be seen. Perhaps we will recover our health. The camel said: very well but if the milk of mother will allow it.
They stayed in the pasture for some time until they recovered their health. By accident, a caravan was passing through the pasture. When the asses started braying, the ass began to bray too. The camel said: keep silent! Why are you braying? The ass said: it is because of the mother’s milk.
Hearing the braying, the caravan took them both and put loads on them. They continued going until they reached a mountain. Finding the way hard to pass, the ass feigned being lame. Those in the caravan decided to carry the ass on the camel’s back. Being faced with such a position, the camel endured until they reached the top of the mountain and began to dance. The ass said: O comrade! What are you doing? I am almost falling down! If I fall down, I will go down the valley and my bones will be broken. The camel said: I told you not to bray or we would be entrapped, but you said it was because of mother’s milk. Now I say my hopping is because of my mother’s milk. Therefore, the camel kept on hopping so much so that he threw down the ass and broke its bones.
As for the education and teaching of the Quran, Imam Ali (AS) has been reported as saying: “A child’s right on the father is that the father should choose a good name for him, provide him with good education, and teach him the Holy Quran.”16
There are other rights which cannot be included within the short space of this book. The best way for the education of children is the compassionate advice of fathers to their children, as it is seen in the states of the great scholars.
It is also seen in the states of the prophets and Imams, especially Imam Ali (AS) and his advice to Imam Hassan and Imam Hossain (AS) which is an advice to all men and women, or in fact to all of the Ummah.
In his advice to Imam Hassan (AS), Ameerul Mo’minin (AS) says, “I advise you to fear Allah, O my child, to abide by His commands, to fill your heart with remembrance of Him and to cling to His Rope. No connection is more reliable than the connection between you and Allah, provided that you take hold of it. Enliven your heart with preaching, deaden it before the pleasures of this world, energize it with firm faith, enlighten it with wisdom, humiliate it by recalling death, make it believe in mortality, make it see the misfortunes of this world, make it fear the authority of the time and the severity of some changes during the nights and the days, place before it the events of past people, recall to it what befell those who were before you and walk among their cities and ruins, then see what they did and from what they have gone and where they have stayed. You will find that they departed from (their) friends and remain in loneliness. Shortly, you too will be like one of them. Therefore, plan for your place of stay and do not sell your next life with this world.”17
There are many examples of this kind of advice from the Imams of guidance.
The Quranic Sura of Luqman is the best example of advice to children in relation to monotheism, beliefs, ethics, prayer, enjoining of good and forbidding of evil, patience, endurance, observing the open and hidden blessings of the Lord, and the highest lesson for parents in dealing with their children.
1. Qur’an, 42:52.
2. Khazeenat al-Jawahir, p. 427.
3. Wasa’il Al-Shiah, vol. 14, p. 14.
4. Wasa’il Al-Shiah, vol. 5, p. 128.
5. Ibid., vol. 14, pp. 19,29.
6. Ibid., p. 56.
7. Ibid., p. 66.
8. Ibid., p. 79.
9. Ibid., p. 95.
10. Wasa’il al-Shiah, vol. 15, p. 121.
11. Ibid., p. 124.
12. Ibid., p. 126.
13. Wasa’il al-Shiah, vol. 15, p. 200.
14. Ershad, p. 271.
15. Wasa’il al-Shiah, vol. 15, pp. 184,189.
16. Nahj al-Balaghah, p. 1274.
17. Nahj al-Balaghah, p. 909.
Relatives’ Rights
Among those whom we have to love are relatives. We should know that we are of their roots as they are of our roots.
Relatives are either from the father’s side with whom we are of the same root or they are from the mother’s side with whom we are connected through mother. Therefore, to love our relatives is the best way to remove disagreements. The more people associate with their relatives, the stronger will be the kinship. On the contrary, the wider the gap between relatives, the cooler will be the relations.
It is for the same reason that ties of relationship have been so much emphasized in the Holy Quran and in traditions and its cutting off has been blamed. In this relation, God says: “… and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship, surely Allah is watcher over you.”1
Of course, this verse has been interpreted in a different way, but the meaning intended is based on the traditions mentioned in the book al-Khisal al-Arba’mi’ah (four hundred features), al-Kafi and other books. Imam Ali (AS) has been Reported as saying: “Associate with your relatives, even if by greeting.”2
The above-mentioned verse is referred to in this concern.
Jameel ibn Darraaj asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) about the meaning of the verse, and the Imam (AS) said: “That is the ties of relationship which God has ordered and considered as being great. Do you not see that God has mentioned His Name with it?”3
Imam Sadiq (AS) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Maintaining the ties of kinship will lead to the prosperity of one’s country and will prolong one’s life though its people are not of good deeds.”4
“Ties of relationship” is mentioned as the feature of men of understanding in the Holy Quran. It is considered as a virtue for the society and the nation. Cutting off ties of relationship will lead to misfortune of the society.
Imam Ali (AS) has been reported as saying: “When ties of kinship are cut off, people’s property will be in the hands of evildoers.”5
Allamah Majlisi has interpreted the above quotation as follows: “When ties of relationship are cut off, people will quarrel and go to unjust rulers for judgment. Then, their property will be put in their hands with bribery. Since they do not have supporters after quarrel, the seditionists will take control of them and appropriate their property.”
Imam Sadiq (AS) has been reported as saying: “Keep away from Halighah, for it will cause death of men.” Being asked what Halighah was, the Imam said: “It is the cutting off the ties ofkinship.”6
Shu’aib al-Aqarqooqi has been reported as saying: “One day, I was in the presence of Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (AS) when he said: ‘O Shu’aib! Tomorrow, a man from Maghreb will meet you and will ask you about me. Tell him, by God, that he is the Imam about whom Imam Sadiq (AS) has spoken. He will then ask you about lawful and unlawful things. You answer these questions on my behalf.’ I asked: How does he look like?’ The Imam said: ‘He is tall, stout and his name is Yaqoob.’ By God, I was performing circumambulation when a man came to me, saying: ‘I would like to ask your master some questions.’ I asked: ‘Which master?’ He said: ‘Such and such man.’ I asked him: ‘What is your name?’ He said: ‘Yaqoob.’
I asked: ‘Where do you come from?’ He said: ‘From Maghreb.’ I asked: ‘How do you know me?’ He said: ‘A man came in my dream, saying: ‘Visit Shu’aib and ask him whatever questions you have! Therefore, I am asking you my questions and seeking guidance.’ I said: ‘Wait here until I completed my circumambulation and went to him. I found him a wise man. He then asked me to take him to Abul Hassan (Imam al-Kadhim)(AS) and I did so.
When the Imam saw him, he said: ‘Yesterday, you entered this place while there was a quarrel between you and your brother in a certain place in a way you cursed each other. This is not from my and my fathers’ religion. I never approve such a thing to anyone. Fear Allah, the One and Only to Whom there is no partner! Surely, death will create separation between you and your brother. Your brother will die during the trip before he reaches home. You too will regret your deed. This is because you have severed the relationship. God will cut your life short.’
The man asked: ‘When will I die, sir?’ The Imam (AS) said: ‘Your death was then, but since you had maintained the ties of kinship with your aunt, twenty years were added to it.’
One year later, I saw that man on the way to the Hajj. He buried his brother who died in the way before reaching home.”7
1. Qur’an, 4:1.
2. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, pp. 91,126.
3. Ibid., p. 97.
4. Ibid., p. 94.
5. Ibid., p. 138.
6. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 133.
7. Ibid., vol. 48, p. 36.
Neighbors’ Rights
Another group of people about whose rights we should observe piety (Taqwa) are neighbors. If people carry out their duties in associating with each other, it will lead to the prosperity of their homeland and people shall live in safety and tranquility, in addition to its results in the hereafter.
The Holly prophet (SAW) has been reported as saying: “Whoever annoys his neighbor, God will forbid him from the smell of paradise (will not take him to Paradise).”1
Imam Ali (AS) has been reported as saying: “Fear Allah! Fear Allah concerning your neighbors, for it is the advice of your prophet in a way that it is thought they (neighbors) shall inherit (other neighbors).”2
The following is among the prohibitions made by the Messenger of Allah (SAW): “Whoever unlawfully appropriates as much as one span of his neighbor’s land, God will make it a tie around his neck from the seven earth, until he meets God on the Day of Judgment, unless he repents and give it back (to its owner).”3
Imam Sadiq (AS) has been reported as saying: “Cursed, cursed is one who annoys his neighbors.”4
As for the rule “One should not harm himself, nor should he harm others”, Zurarah has reported Imam Baqir (AS) as saying: “Samara ibn Jundab had a date-palm tree in the orchard of a man from the Ansar. The house of the Ansari man was in the front part of the orchard. Samara used to enter the orchard without getting permission. The man asked him to get permission before entering the orchard, but Samara paid no attention. The man complained about that to the Messenger of Allah (SAW) who ordered Samara to get permission before entering the orchard. Samara still refused to comply.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) asked him to sell the orchard, but Samara was not ready to sell it even. The Holy prophet (SAW) said: ‘There shall be a tree for you in paradise for this tree.’ Samara did not accept the offer. The Holy Prophet told the Ansari man to uproot the tree in compliance with ‘One should not harm himself (intendedly), nor should he harm others.’
In certain traditions, we read: “go, uproot the tree and throw it to its owner.”5
Imam Sadiq (AS) has been reported as saying: “There is no faith to one whose neighbor is not safe from his evils.”6
It is well to mention that a neighbor is not the one who lives next door. Forty houses from four sides of one’s house are considered as neighbors from the viewpoint of Islam. Hence, the rights of them have to be observed. Imam Sadiq (AS) was asked: “What is the limit of a neighbor?” The Imam said: “Forty houses from each side.”7
Truly, one should not do anything that he may be included in this du’a if one of his neighbors may recite the following in the Du’a of Simat, “O Lord, safeguard me from every bad man and every bad neighbor.”
1. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 150.
2. Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 2, p. 977.
3. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 151.
4. Ibid., p. 153.
5. Tahtheeb, vol. 7, p. 146.
6. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 152.
7. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 151
Fellow Muslims’ Rights
One may have this impression that the only duty of man is to take care of himself, his wife, his children and his relatives and that he has no responsibility towards other people. That is not so, although one’s duties towards himself, his wife, and children is heavier and more serious than towards others.
No human being can ignore his fellow human beings or be indifferent to them. Imam Sadiq (AS) has reported the Messenger of Allah (SAW) as saying: “Whoever spends a day without doing anything for the fellow Muslims is not considered as a Muslim.”1
The Holy Prophet (SAW) has also said: “Whoever hears a man calling ‘O Muslims (asking for help)’ and does not respond to him is not considered as a Muslim.”2
Imam Sajjad (AS) has been reported as saying to az-Zuhri: “It is incumbent on you to consider other fellow Muslims as members of your family. Take the elder one as your father and the younger one as your son and those of your age as brothers. In that case, which one of them would you like to harm?” Speaking about good opinion of them, Imam Sajjad further says: “When you see someone older than you, say to yourself: ‘he has preceded me in faith and good deeds. Therefore, he is better than I am.’ If he is younger than you are, say to yourself: ‘I have preceded him in sins. Therefore, he is better than I am.’ If he is of your age, say to yourself: ‘my sins are certain, but I doubt whether he has committed sins or not. Therefore, I have no right to change my certainty into doubt.’ If you see Muslims bow to you and honor you, say to yourself: ‘this is a favor from them, that is, they are good and not me.’ If they ignore you, say to yourself: ‘this is the result of the sin I have committed.’ Then, if you adopt such a policy, God will make life easy for you; you will have a lot of friends, your enemies will be few, you will be happy with their benevolence, and you will not become sad for their wrongdoings.”3
Imam Ali (AS) has been reported as saying: “There are thirty rights that every Muslim has to observe towards his Muslim brother. These rights cannot be quitted unless by compensation or being pardoned. These rights are the following:
• To overlook his mistakes (Muslims towards each other)
• To have pity on him when he is distressed
• To cover his faults
• To forgive his lapses
• To accept his excuses
• To reject his backbiting (by others)
• To keep on advising him
• To observe his friendship
• To observe his duties
• To accept his invitation
• To attend his funeral
• To accept his gift
• To reciprocate his visit
• To thank him for any favor
• To help him
• To safeguard his wife
• To grant his requests
• To intervene for him
• To pray for him when sneezing
• To guide him when he goes astray
• To answer his greeting
• To talk kindly to him
• To appreciate his favors
• To accept his witnesses
• To make friends with his friends and avoid bearing enmity against them
• To help him, to prevent him from oppressing, and support him when he is oppressed
• To avoid humiliating him
• Not to betray him
• To wish for him what he wishes for himself and hate for him what he hates for himself.” 4
Abdullah ibn Sinan has reported: “I heard Imam Sadiq (AS) say: ‘observe piety and do not let people ride on your shoulders (that makes you low and servile). Nevertheless, God says: “Speak kindly to mankind.”5 Visit Muslims of other sects when they are sick, attend their funerals and perform prayer with them in their mosques until you breathe your last…’”6
Being asked for advice, Imam Sadiq (AS) said: “It is incumbent on you to observe piety, speak truthfully, give back the trusts to their owners, keep good companionship with your companions, greet loudly, feed the poor, offer prayer in their7 mosques, to visit their sick people and to attend their funerals. My father told me a tradition that our Shia (followers), we the Ahlul Bayt, are the best of people; if one of them was a jurisprudent, he would be the best of them (jurisprudents), if he was a muezzin, he would be the best of them (muezzins), if he was an imam, he would be the best of them, if he was a man of trust, he would be the best of them and if he was a man of deposit, he would be the best of them. And so you must be; try to make us beloved to people and do not make us hated by them!”8
Concerning the obedience to the Imams and the true leaders, Abu Basir has reported: “I heard Imam Sadiq (AS) say: ‘Fear Allah, and it is incumbent on you to obey your Imams in whatever they say and keep silent about what they keep silent.’”
Imam Ali (AS) has said: “Associate with people in a way that if you die, they will weep for you and if you live, they are eager to see you.”9
1. Wasa’il al-Shiah, vol. 11, p. 559
2. Ibid., p. 560
3. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 156.
4. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 236.
5. Qur’an, 2:83.
6. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 161.
7. It may refer to people of other creeds.
8. Ibid., p. 162
9. Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 2, p. 1092.

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