Published on 20th May, 2003
The Islamic Message
Extends for all Times
Opening up on Islam
By Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad
is Islam Authentic
('a) Treatment of Community Problems
°The Imam of Freedom
°Looking into the Future
to the most widespread traditions on the 17th of the month of
Rabi’ Al-Awwal, Prophet Muhammad ('s) was born. The same date
is also the date of the birth of Imam Jafar bin Muhammad al–Sadiq
On these two occasions, we open up on the message of Islam,
which was conveyed by Muhammad, the Messenger ('s) who was sent
as a Witness, a Warner and a bringer of glad tidings, a light
that leads the people away from darkness, through the Glorious
Quran. Then he was followed by the Imams ('a) who made sure that
people understood properly the concepts of their religion and
deduced the rulings of Islamic law from the principles of
Islamic law that were asserted in the Quran and practiced by the
Messenger ('s). Thus the Imamate represents the extension of the
Message in which the Imams ('a) base their actions on the same
foundations that were instituted by the Prophet without adding
or changing anything.
Imam al Sadiq ('a) says:
"What I say is what my father used to
say and my father’s saying is that of my grandfather and the
saying of my grandfather is the saying of Al-Hussein bin Ali who
quotes the Messenger ('s) who reveals what Allah has sent."
as Muhammad ('s) did not add or remove one letter from what
Allah has revealed, the Imams, from Imam Ali to Imam Al-Mahdi
('a), did not add or remove one letter from what Muhammad ('s) came with. They only explained what he said and applied it to the new
events and problems the Muslims faced in their times.
Shiism is Authentic Islam
Thus, our doctrine, Shiism, is not an addition to Islam. It
represents the way the Members of the House of Muhammad ('s)
understood Islam and authenticated it. But our Imams ('a) are
not Muslim scholars who study Islamic issues and produce their
own judgment which could be right or wrong like the scholars,
who came after them, for they were infallible.
Imam Al-Sadiq ('a) is the son of Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir ('a),
his mother is Um Farwah bint al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abi Bakr.
He was such an encyclopaedic scholar that he was not matched by
any other Imam accept Imam Ali ('a). But his teachings were
more detailed, because he had ample time, for his Imamate lasted
for thirty years, and he was free to spread the knowledge of the
Members of the House of Muhammad ('a) since the Umayyad rulers
who used to prosecute the Imam ('a) were busy defending their
rule, while the Abbasids when they assumed power were busy in
laying its foundations.
Thus the Imam ('a) was able to enrich the Islamic culture
enormously: We know that his school was attended by the major
jurists of that time including Abu Hanifa the founder of the Hanafi
School. Abu Hanifa was asked who was the most knowledgeable person and
answered that it was Jafar bin Muhammad ('a).
he explained why, by saying:
"I was asked by Mansour to prepare
some of the most complicated juristic problems and ask the Imam
about them, so that he might get confused and lose the
reputation and the respect he enjoys. I prepared 40 questions
and asked him about them. He took them one by one, and said
regarding this issue you say so and so, the people of Medina
say so and so while we say so and so. Then he asked me:
Don’t you agree that the most wise is the one who knows
best the views of others?"
Thus, we deduce that the Imam
('a) learned about all the views
of the various sects, which proves what kind of an encyclopaedic
scholar he was.
The Imam used to enjoy a great scientific and juristic
reputation among those who believed in his Imamate as well as
among those who did not. His school was open up on all Islamic
trends, and he used to receive those who agree with him and
those who don’t. He even received unbelievers and held debates
with them to lead them to the straight path of Allah. He was a
man of dialogue who believed that there is nothing sacred that
could not be discussed. He had dialogues with those who deny the
existence of God and those who had reservations on certain rites
of worship and used to believe that it is the Imam’s duty, as
well as the duty of every scholar, to sit with those people in a
very tolerant manner, to discuss with them in the best possible
way to guide them to the right path.
Al-Sadiq’s ('a) Treatment of the Community’s Problems
Imam Al-Sadiq ('a) used to have a say in all the events that
happened in the Muslim community whether political, social or
cultural, with a view of finding the appropriate solutions or
ways to deal with them. He used to talk with everybody,
regardless of age or social status… He used to talk about the
Islamic doctrine in a philosophical way; about morals in an
ethical terminology ..etc. He used to answer everyone that asked
him any question.
Sheikh Al-Mufeed quotes in his book Al-Irshad that when Imam Al-Baqir
('a), was dying he asked his son, Imam Al-Sadiq ('a):
care of my followers, what are you going to do to them. Then
the Imam answered: I will make them free of need to ask any
question. I will educate them so that they will not need to
ask anybody about anything.
This is what the religious scholars ought to do, to stay with
the people and not to be aloof. They should not be embarrassed
or complicated by any question, especially since there are many
issues that people, especially the youth, have a lot to ask
The Imam of Freedom
In this meeting, we are going to read some of the Imam’s texts
that deal with general issues, in order to be enlightened by his
knowledge. One of the major attributes of the Imam’s thought
is the association he made between freedom and patience. The
Imam ('a) believes that being free does not mean that someone
else will give you your freedom. It should emanate from the
freedom of your mind and the strength of your will; so that no
one could make you adopt a position you do not believe is
right. If you are free, you should be ready to pay the price for
your stands and remain steadfast.
free man is free in all his circumstances, even if he were in a
prison cell. If he is hit by calamity he would be patient, even
if he were imprisoned or tortured."
To give an example, the Imam cites Prophet Yusuf ('a) whose will
was not conquered neither by the depth of the well nor by the
darkness and torture of the prison. He was then sent as a
Prophet to guide his people and to bestow Allah’s Mercy on
them. Thus, patience as a sign of freedom is a virtue that, as
we are reminded by the Imam, would be ultimately rewarded.
From these teachings, we conclude that the Imam ('a) was the
Imam of freedom who held that freedom does not come from outside
but from the inside. And this is what the contemporary
philosophers have come to adopt hundreds of years later.
Looking into the Future
The Imam ('a) used to quote the Messenger ('s) in what will
happen in the future, and I believe that he was describing our
age. The Messenger ('s) said: There will come a time when power
will only we attained by killing and tyranny, richness by misery
and usurpation and love by leaving religion and following
Those who live in that age, and would tolerate poverty although
they have the means to be rich- If being rich means they would
have to renounce their religion- they would tolerate hatred
although they have the means to be loved Allah (swt) will reward
him with the reward of 50 pious men.
The Imam ('a) also concentrated on the fact that the Messenger
('s) ordered us not to expose the defects of others.
The Imam ('a) considers those who commit such an act as being
the furthest away from Allah (swt), and the nearest to unbelief,
as Imam Al-Baqir ('a) taught.
These are some of the teachings of Imam Al-Sadiq ('a) that we
ought to follow if we seek to be his Shiites and followers. It
is not enough, as Imam Al-Baqir ('a) put it, to love Ali (as),
for the Messenger ('s) is better. It is not enough to love the
Messenger ('s) without obeying his teachings for they are the
teachings of Allah.
Thus, Imam Al-Baqir ('a) says:
who follow Allah are our followers and those who are enemies of
Allah are our enemies. The only way to become among our
followers is by piety."
This is the line of the Members of the House of Muhammad ('s), a
line of thought, action and piety that includes both the
individual and the community and this is what we should do to
be among their faithful followers before Allah (swt).
Lillahi Rabbil Aalameen
1. Kitab al-Irshad