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Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Published on 1st October, 2002

The Death Anniversary of Imam Al-Kazim ('a)
-A Life Dedicated to Piety, Giving and Knowledge

By Ayatullah H.E. Sayyed M. H. Fadlullah

Allah says in His Glorious Book: 

Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing) [33:33].

One of the Imams and the Members of this Household is Imam Musa bin Jaa’far Al-Kazim ('a) whom we meet with his death anniversary on the 25th of Rajab. He is one of the examples of how those blessed Imams served Islam dedicating all their lives to worshiping Allah (swt), and trying to solve the problems of Muslims, living with them like one of them. For they were modest and humble, following the example of their grandfather, the Messenger ('s), who was told by Allah: 

And lower your wing (in tenderness) for the believers 
[15:88] , and also 

{Restrain thyself along with those who cry unto their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His countenance; and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who follows his own lust and whose case has been abandoned}

The Members of the Household used to live with the old and the young, the noble and the common, the rich and the poor, for they used to respect the humanity of man and they used to answer all questions. They also used to urge people to ask them if they did not do so by themselves. Allah (swt) has inspired them with this knowledge and they were eager to spread it.

The Imam ('a) lived in a time of turmoil and had to suffer a lot from several Abbasid caliphs who used to rule by force and exploit the vast resources of the caliphate to stay in power.

At any rate, those caliphs envied the Imams ('a) for the love and respect they enjoyed among Muslims. They conspired against them and held them most of the time either in custody or in close supervision, for they knew how much the nation was impressed by their spirituality, knowledge and morality.

The Imam’s Sufferings

Haroun al-Rashid (an Abbasid caliph) in particular was extremely harsh on the Imam. For he was aware, as he told his son, of his virtues: “Had the nation known what we know regarding the virtues of Musa bin Jaa’far they would not have kept us in our place not even for a moment”. Al-Rashid, kept the Imam in jail and he used to transfer him from one jail to another, until Al-Sindi bin Shahik poisoned him in his jail, following the orders of al-Rashid.

The prison wardens, used to tell al- Rashid that he has to let him free or send him to another jail, for the Imam used to spend his time in worship. In his first jail in Basra (a city in Iraq) he said in his prayers:

“O God I have asked you to dedicate me to worshipping You. I am thankful because You have done that”.

The warden of this jail sent to his master saying: I have never heard him saying any word against you or me. He was above hatred and envy…

The Imam ('a) was known for his tolerance, prudence, the spirit of forgiveness and a tight control of his temper, even against those who hurt him. He was like his grandfather, the Messenger (p.), of  great morals. He had a soft heart and a soft tongue; he was a role model in his ethics just as he was a model for others in belief.

A Life of Knowledge and Giving

On his death anniversary, we are going to review some of his sayings, especially those that serve as a guide and a set of principles for us in our lives. We start by his childhood and early youth when he was living with his father, Imam al-Sadiq ('a):

Abi Hanifa al-Nua’man, who was a student of Imam al-Sadiq ('a) is quoted as saying:

“I performed pilgrimage during the times of Imam al-Sadiq ('a). When I went to al-Medina to see him, I saw a boy coming out of his lobby, I asked the boy: where does a stranger urinate in this city? he answered: 

Keep away from river banks, for people come there to drink, trees, mosque corridors, and roads. Then go behind a wall and do not face the Qibila (The Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca) or turn your back to it…

I liked what I heard and asked the boy what is your name, he said: I am Musa  b. Jaa’far b. Muhammad b. Ali b. Al-Hussein b. Ali b. Abitalib ('a). I then asked him where does the sin come from? He said it is either from God, and this cannot be the case, for God does not punish His servant for things he has not done, or from the servant, who is actually the one who committed them. In this case, if God forgives, it’s because God is forgiving, and if the servant is punished it is because the servant has committed a sin.

I felt that I no longer needed to meet his father, for the son enriched me well enough.

From this story, that was narrated by Abu-Hunifa, the Imam of the Hanifi Sunni sect which is adopted by the majority of the Sunnis, we learn that the Imams had an innate knowledge even as children which can only be inspired by Allah. In another story, the Imam was asked about who is the generous, he answered: If you are asking about men, the generous among them are those who pay what Allah has ordained, while the miser is the one who does not fulfil this duty. As for the Creator, He is generous when He gives and when He does not. Because when He gives you, He is giving you what is not yours, and if He does not, He is also not giving you what is not yours in the first place.

In another saying, the Imam ('a) divides man’s time between four actions, the first part is for worshiping, the second should be for earning a living, the third is for socializing with friends-they should be trustworthy, for they will know all your weaknesses. And the fourth and last is for lawful pleasures; because it will help you in benefiting form the other periods. One cannot be expected to seek knowledge and earn a living if he feels tense and depressed.

Moreover, Islam does not want one to feel that he is deprived, but rather fulfilling his personal needs according to the lawful manner that Allah (swt) has set out for him.

A Call for Independence

In another saying, the Imam ('a) deals with a mentality that has always existed. It is the mentality of those who do not have a mind of their own. Each and every one of us has a mind, a knowledge, a personality, a will power and therefore he is required to have his own say in all aspects of life whether political, social, cultural.

However, there are those who when asked to determine where they stand towards any issue, they tend to follow their family or their party...etc. Thus, they refuse to think and want others to think for them. This is something totally rejected by Islam, because there is a great difference between asking others to think for you or with you; when they think for you, they will have their own interests in mind, and Islam wants man to be responsible for the stands he takes, and he will be accounted for them on the Day of Judgment.

The Imam says: When you want to convey something, convey what serves goodness and say what is good, and do not say I am with the people and I am like any of them - I fight when the tribe or party fight and hold peace when they do.

This saying teaches us to be independent, free, and not enslave ourselves to others.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that you should be stubborn and autocratic. On the contrary, you have to consult others and think with them before you make up your mind…

This attitude reflects itself on the general level of the nation: If the Islamic nation lets the super powers think for them, these powers will have their own interests in mind and not those of the nation.

I have always told you: Do not get along with anybody who tells you that you should not think. No, we should think, but we are always ready to listen to whoever wants to guide us as to where we went wrong.

You are not only supposed to think, but you should also educate your children on the need to think. A nation that is not free to think is a nation that will be dominated by others. The more you think the freer you are; freedom is not issued by decree. It is something that springs from the inside, from the core of man’s humanity.

Teaching Modesty and Self-Righteousness

In another saying for the Imam (a.s.), in which he addresses a companion of his, Hisham bin Al-Hakam, the Imam ('a)  emphasizes the same theme by saying:

“If you had a nut in your hands and people kept telling you it is a pearl and you know it is a nut, it will do you no good. On the other hand, if you had a pearl and people said it is a nut it will not harm you”. From this saying we deduce that we have not to acquire our self-confidence from others. When we hear praise or criticism we have to study ourselves before we react. Praise should not make us conceited and criticism should not make us lose our self-esteem.

The Members of the House have taught us that we ought to become more modest when we are praised. Imam Al-Sajad ('a) says in one of his supplications (The best morals) :

O God do not raise me one degree among the people, unless you lower me in view of myself with the same degree…

So that those who highlight our weakness will not make us fall, and those who praise us will not make us conceited."

Finally, we have to review what the Imams said and did, for their actions and sayings are those of the Messenger (p.). Let us drink from the clear waters; the thought of Islam from its primary sources, so as we would benefit from them in this world and in the Hereafter.

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