Shaykh Saduq ibn Babawayhi is universally regarded among the Ithna ‘Ashari Shi’a as one of their foremost doctors and traditionists.
Professor E.G. Browne, in discussing the founders of the Shi’a theology, says “The most important of these earlier divines are ‘the three Muhammads’, al-Kulayni (Muhammad bin Ya’qub, died 329/941), Ibn Babawayhi (Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Musa, died 381/991-2) and the already mentioned Tusi (Muhammad bin Hasan, died 460/1067).
Of these, the first composed the Kafi, the second Man la Yahduruhu’l-faqih (a title which approximates in sense to our familiar ‘Every man his own Lawyer’), and the third, the Istibsar and the Tahdhibu’1-Ahkam, which are known collectively amongst the Shi’a as ‘The Four Books’ (al-Kutubu’1-arba ‘a) and of which the full particulars will be found in the above-mentioned Kashfu’1-Hujub”.1
Considering the high repute in which he is held, the early times in which he lived, the great influence he had on later theologians and traditionists, and the numerous works which are attributed to him, it is very unfortunate that the earliest works which give an account of his life are extremely brief and give us no indication whatever of his character, his studies, his travels and his life.
Thus, at the end of our enquiry, we are faced with the problem of writing the account of a man, the whole of whose life is summarized by Tusi in about four lines (Tusi, List, 204) and by Najashi in three lines at the beginning and two lines at the end (Rijal. 276,279). Thus Browne is fully justified in observing that “The older ‘Books of the Men’ (Kutubu’r-Rijal), such as the works of at-Tusi and an-Najashi, are generally very jejune, and suited for reference rather than reading”.2
The two earliest sources for the life of Ibn Babawayhi are Shaykhu’t-Ta’ifa Muhammad bin Hasan bin ‘Ali at-Tusi, born 385/995, died 460/1067.3 His Fihrist was published by A. Sprenger in the Bibliotheca Indica, Calcutta, in 1853 – 1855, under the title of Tusi’s List of Shi’ah Books and Alam al-Hoda’s Notes on Shi’ah Biography. It has always been considered an early and reliable authority.4
The second source is Ahmad bin ‘Ali an-Najashi, born 372/982, died 450/1063.5 His Kitabu’r-Rijal (Bombay, 1317/1899-1900) is a very useful book of reference, and is particularly exhaustive as it regards lists of works written by each author. On a comparison of these two, Najashi will be found to be the better and more detailed work, as has been pointed out by Sprenger.6 Najashi gives a very comprehensive list of the Shaykh’s works.
The later works of reference, like Qisasu’1-‘Uluma’, Amalu’1-Amil, Muntaha’1-Maqal and others repeat with certain additions the information given in the earlier works. It is therefore safe to treat Tusi and Najashi as the basic authorities.
Of later works, I have made the fullest use of Rawdatu’l-Jannat by Muhammad Baqir bin Hajji Zaynu’l-Abidin al-Musawi al-Khwansari (lithographed Tehran, 1306/1888). This is the most scholarly and comprehensive of modem authorities, and as far as can be ascertained from the Imami scholars themselves, they place great reliance on it. The account of Shaykh Saduq, although it extends to four pages (557-560), consists mainly of a discussion of his views, opinions on his greatness as a doctor of theology, his soundness (being thiqa) as a traditionist, and various other matters, without giving us details of his life or glimpses of his character.7
With regard to his writings, according to Professor E.G. Browne, the Qisasu’1-‘Ulama’ attributes 189 (iv. 377,405) and Najashi 193 works to the Shaykh Saduq (EL, ji, 366). Tusi however mentions 43, and Rawdatu’1-Jannat 17 only. In addition to these authorities, such manuscript catalogues as were available in Bombay have been consulted by me, and after dealing with his biography, the results carefully stated.
Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin al-Husayn bin Musa Ibn Babawayhi8 al-Qummi is generally known as ash-Shaykh as-Saduq. His place of birth is not mentioned either by Tusi or by Najashi, but Donaldson says that he was born in Khorasan.9 In 355/966 he went to Baghdad, apparently from Khorasan, and died in Rayy in 381/991.10 Ahlwardt in the Berlin Catalogue says that the date of death is 39l/l00l,11 and this is followed by some authors. There is however no sufficient authority for this date.
Of his life and character we know nothing; but of his birth a most entertaining legend is preserved. According to Tusi and Najashi,12 when in Iraq, his father ‘Ali bin al-Husayn Ibn Babawayhi al-Qummi (died 329/940-941) met Abu’l-Qasim Husayn bin Ruh, who was the third of the four agents of the Hidden Imam during the period of 73 years, 256-339 A.H13., and asked him several questions. Thereafter ‘Ali wrote a letter to him through ‘Ali bin Ja’far bin al-Aswad14 in order that the letter be delivered to the Hidden Imam.
In the letter ‘Ali asked for a son, to which he received a reply from Husayn bin Ruh saying “We have prayed to Allah for it on your behalf and you will be rewarded with two goodly sons”. Afterwards two sons were born of a slave girl (min umm walad), Abu Ja’far Muhammad (the celebrated Shaykh Saduq) and Abu Abdullah Husayn. It is reported from his younger brother Husayn that Muhammad used to pride himself on the circumstances of his birth. أنا ولدت بدعوة صاحب الأمر و يفتخر بذلك.
The same story is reported in Rawdatu’l-Jannat with certain variations in two different versions: (1) Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali al-Aswad (not ‘Ali b. Ja’far al-Aswad, as said by Tusi and Najashi) was asked to request Ruh to ask the Imam, and no letter was written. (2) Abu Ja’far asked Ruh and was informed after three days that he had prayed for ‘Ali and the prayer was accepted. ‘Ali had three sons, Muhammad (Shaykh Saduq), Hasan and Husayn.
‘Ali was a theologian and divine and taught Shaykh Saduq.15 Muhammad, the eldest son was the most famous of all. The second brother Hasan was devoted to piety and did not generally mix with the people.16 The third and youngest brother was Husayn, also a well-known jurist and theologian.
Shaykh Saduq apparently taught at Baghdad and being a contemporary of the Buwayhid Ruknu’d-Dawla, entered into controversies at his behest. He was well known for his knowledge, memory, justice, intelligence and reliability; and he is universally regarded as a pillar of religion. Ibn Tawus and Shaykh Sulayman accepted his authority among others.
Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (who according to E.G. Browne was “one of the greatest, most powerful and most fanatical mujtahids of the Safawi period”, the well-known author of Biharu’1-Anwar, an encyclopedic work in 25 volumes, died 1111/ 1699-1700; see Pers. Lit., iv. 403, 409-410) says that his traditions were declared as reliable by a decision of a number of ‘Ulama’.17
With regard to the works of Shaykh Saduq, it has already been pointed out that Najashi mentions 193, the Qisasu’l-‘Ulama’ 189, Tusi 43 and Rawdatu’l-Jannat 17 works. The last-named work says that he is the author of 300 books18; this clearly follows the tradition of earlier authorities. This wide divergence in number, although it cannot be fully explained, may be due to the fact that the titles mentioned by Najashi may, in a large number of cases, be called the chapters of a book, rather than books themselves. It is also possible that in some instances the same book may have been known by two different names. The lists below first consist of the books which are known and extant.
The two earliest authorities are Tusi and Najashi, and they give the following authorities for their statements:
Tusi: After mentioning 43 works, he says that there also exist smaller works, the names of which are not known to him (p.305). His sources are a number of people, chief among whom are (1) Shaykh Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Nu’man, (2) al-Husayn bin ‘Ubaydu’l-lah, (3) Abu’l-Hasan Ja’far bin al-Hasan bin Khaska al-Qummi, and (4) Abu Zakariya’ Muhammad bin Sulayman al-Hamrani, all of whom were personally in touch with the author.
Najashi: He says that some of the books were actually read by his father ‘Ali bin Ahmad bin al-‘Abbas an-Najashi – with the author, and the rest were specifically mentioned by him (the father) when he heard of them at Baghdad. The father was given an ijaza (permission) by Shaykh Saduq to teach all the books.
It is very interesting to observe that Khwansari in Rawdatu’l-Jannat, after mentioning seventeen works, observes that “the rest of the works have not come down to us”.
It will be observed that a full reference to all manuscript catalogues has not been possible in Bombay. Hence only a selection from the most important catalogues has been made. Nevertheless, it is hoped that a clear idea of the extant works of the Shaykh can be obtained from List A, and List B may be used for reference as Najashi is not always available and an alphabetical arrangement may facilitate reference.
The manuscript catalogues used are indicated by abbreviations, which can easily be identified with the help of Brockelmann’s Geschichte der Arab ischen Litteratur and the recent Supplement, where full references are to be found. The only exceptions are Sipahsalar, Browne and one or two others, which are included in the list of abbreviations.
Works known and preserved
1. كتاب (رسالة) الاعتقادات Risalatu’l-I’tiqadat. Not mentioned by Tusi or Najashi. Kashf, 239; RJ, no.14.
Text. GAL, i. 187; GAL, Sup. i. 322 (7) numerous references. According to Brockelmann “Eng. Trans. By A. A. A. Fyzee, 1932” (!); Browne, p.16;Brit.Mus.,851; Cod. Br. Mus., add. 19,623; Rieu, 385; Pet: Am., 61; lv. ASB. Ar., 828, 829, 830;Berlin, 1944.
Lith. Najaf 1343/1924-25 (together with three other risalas), pp.234 = N; Delhi (with Urdu trans. by Md. I’jaz Husayn), Ithna’Ashari Press, 1347 (1st ed. 1332), sub nom. هدية جعفري ترجمة عقائد شيخ صدوق (sic) عليه الرحمة. Tehran (together with four other risalas), 1274 = T.
Persian Translation. Iv. Cur., 386. Sipahsalar, vol. ii, is not available to me, but in vol.i, p.534, no.1839 is mentioned in the footnote.
Commentary. Arabic, تصحيح الاعتقادات Tashihu’l-I’tiqadat by Sh. Mufid, see GAL, Sup. i. 323. Printed in the Arabic periodical al-Murshid, Baghdad, 1344 sqq., vols. I, II and III were available to me by the kindness of the Rampur State Library. The rest, not available. A MS. copy exists in the Asafiya (Hyderabad, Deccan). Mufid differs on many points from Saduq, but according to RJ the truth is with both of them, 563.Tehran, 621/8 (ii. 379) mentions a Persian sharh by Abu’1 Fath Husayni.
2. إكمال (كمال) الدين و إتمام تمام النعمة في إثبات الغيبة و كشف الحيرة-
Ikmalu’din wa Itmamu’n Ni’ma fi Ithbatu’l-ghayba wa Kashfu’l-hayra. Kashf, 271, add في غيبة مولانا صاحب العصر و الزمان not mentioned by Najashi or Tusi. RJ doubts authorship.
Text. Ed. F. Moller, Heidelberg, 1901; Sarkis, Mu’jam, 44; GAL, Sup. i. 322, many references. Berlin, 2721/2; Paris, 1231; Manchester, 807; Heidelberg. ZS, x. 74; Blochet, Nouv. Acq., 6666; Sipahsalar, vol. I, nos. 97,271, 272 (pp.204-207), gives good account of Saduq and Ruknu’d-Dawla.
3. كتاب الأمالي (أو المجالس) Kitabu’l-Amali (Al-majalis) Kashf 278; RJ; but not mentioned either by Najashi or Tusi under this name. The majalis of early authorities is probably the Amali of later ones. See also no.12 below. GAL, i. 187; Sup.i,321,322; Berlin, 1269;Tehran, ii. 24-25 (p.11) (اين كتاب باسم المجالس هم موسرم است- Meshed, iv. 3, 5, 8;W. Ivanow in JRAS for 1920,543. Lith. Tehran, 1300 AH.; Brit. Mus., Cat. of Print. Books, 163. The Amali is a closely printed book (10 by 6 inches) of 402 pp., consisting of 97 babs, and containing many interesting things on a variety of subjects.
4. كتاب التوحيد- Kitabu’l-Tawhid. Tusi (29); Najashi; RJ; Kashf 2391. GAL, Sup. i. 322; Meshed, JRAS for 1920, 543 (3 copies); Sipahsalar, 106, 295, 296 (pp.229-230).
Lith. Tabriz or Tehran (?); no date or place, pp. 383, 7 by 41/2 inches, containing 64 babs.
5. كتاب ثواب الاعمال- Kitab Thawabu’1-A’mal. Najashi; Tusi (34);RJ (10); Kashf, 733. GAL, Sup. i. 322; Browne, 10; Manchester, 94.
6. كتاب الخصال- Kitabu’l-Khisal. Najashi; RJ; Kashf, 1050. GAL, Sup. i. 322; Meshed, W. Ivanow in JRAS for 1920,545 (حصال?)
Lith. Tehran, 1302; Sarkis, Mu’jam, 44.
7. كتاب السهو- Kitabu’s-Sahw. Najashi. Berlin, 1370; apparently only one known copy. Sh. Mufid wrote a refutation of this, RJ, 564.
8. كتاب عقاب الاعمال- Kitab ‘Iqabu’l-A’mal. Najashi; Tusi (35); Kashf, 2120; GAL, Sup. i. 322.
9. كتاب علل الشرائع و الأحكام- Kitab ‘Ilali’sh-Shara’i’ wa’l-Ahkam. Najashi; Tusi (20); RJ; Kashf 2129. GAL, i. 187; Sup.i. 321; Berlin, 8326, 8327;Br. Mus., 1196, add. 23, 261 (p.542); Iv. ASB. Ar., 1038; Sipahsalar, 132 (pp.278-279)
10. كتاب العلل غير مبوَّب- Kitabu’l-‘Ilal ghayr mubawwab. Najashi; Tusi (25). Cf. GAL, i. 187 (al- ‘ilal); not known whether a separate work. Cf. Berlin, 8326, 8327.
11. عيون أخبار الرضا– ‘Uyun Akhbar ‘r-Rida. Not mentioned by Najashi or Tusi; RJ; Kashf, 2149. GAL, i. 187; Sup. i. 321; Berlin, 9663; Munich, 188. 456; Paris, 2018; Br. Mus., 1619; and or. 130 (p.730); India Office, 146; Meshed, W. Ivanow, JRAS for 1920; 543 (3 copies); Tehran, 550; Sipahsalar, 135, 360, 361, 362, 364 (PP.282-283).
Lith. Tehran, 1275 A. H. Persian Translation. تحفة ملكى Bankipore, 507 (vi. 150) Sipahsalar, 103 (p.225). Persian Paraphrase. Iv. ASB. Per., 1108, 1109.
12. ذكر مجلس الذي جرى له بين يدي ركن الدولة– Dhikr majlis al-ladhi jara lahu bayna yaday Ruknu’d-Dawla. Najashi GAL, i. 187, بابويه (sic) (مناظرة الملك ركن الدولة مع الصدوق ال Sup i. 322; Br Mus., add. 16,832 (31), p.403; Strothmann Isl. XXI, 307. Kashf, 3120 gives another title:
مناظرة ركن الدولة مع محمد بن علي بن الحسين بن بابويه القمّي و قد جمعها الشيخ ركن الدين الدروبستي
Najashi mentions ذكر مجلس الذي جرى بين ركن الدوله and goes on (2) ذكر مجلس آخر (3) ذكر مجلس ثالث (4) ذكر مجلس رابع and (5) ذكر مجلس خامس. It is probable that all of these are now collected in the lithographed text of the Amali (no.3 above) which consists of 97 majlis.
13. معاني الأخبار Ma’ani’l-Akhbar. Najashi; Tusi (36); RJ; Kashf, 2992. GAL, i. 187; Sup. i. 321; India Office, 145. Persian Translation. Tehran, 25(ii. 16).
14. كتاب المقنع في الفقه_– Kitabu’l-Muqni’ fi’l-fiqh. Najashi; Tusi; Kashf, 3079. GAL, Sup. i. 322 (13).Lith Persia, 1860 A. H.; Sarkis, Mu’jam, 44; Br. Mus., Cat. Arab Print. Books, 164.
15. من لا يحضره الفقيه- Man la yahdhuru-hu’l-Faqhih. Not mentioned by Najashi; Tusi (28); RJ; Kashf 3170. GAL, i. 187; Sup. i. 321 (numerous references); Berlin, 4782/3; Pet., 250; Br. Mus., 905; Sup., 330, add. 19,358; Ind. Of., 289; Paris, 1108; Blochet, Nouv. Acq., 6615, 6616, 5559, 6662; Bodl. ii. 84-86; Buhar, 50; Bankipore, 263, 264, 479; Sipahsalar, 154 (and 10 other copies), gives full and very valuable account of its composition. See below. Lith. Lucknow, A.H. 1306-7, 4 vols.; Sarkis, Mu’jam, 44; Br. Mus., Cat. Arab. Print. Books, 164. Persian Commentary. Iv. Cur., 381; Bankipore, 1258, 1259, 1260.
With regard to its composition, the author writes in the introduction that when he was at Ilaq, near Balkh, he met Sharafu’d-din Abu ‘Abdullah, known as Ni’matu’llah, Muhammad bin Hasan bin Ishaq bin Husayn bin Ishaq bin Musa bin Ja’far as-Sadiq and greatly profited by his learned company and discourse.
They discussed the book Man la yahduru-hu’t-Tabib of Muhammad bin Zakariya ar-Razi, and Ni’matu’l-lah asked him to compose a book regarding what is lawful and unlawful and the sharia and its rulings. Shaykh Saduq agreed to the suggestion and composed the book (Sipahsalar, i. 325). The title is reminiscent of كتاب دعائم الإسلام في ذكر الحلال و الحرام و القضايا و الأحكام Ismaili Law of Wills, p.1.
It is difficult to give an explanation to why Najashi does not mention this – the most important of the Shaykh’s works, one of the “four books” of the Shi’a; it may however be suggested that instead of mentioning the whole book, he gave the title of each of the chapters.
That is the only explanation which accords with the additional fact that there is a wide disparity between the list given by him and his contemporary Tusi, who is also one of the most respected of Shi’ite doctors. Mus. iii. 547-719 deals with the authorities cited in this work.
16. النصوص على الأئمة الإثني عشر- An-Nusus ‘ala’l-a’immati’I-Ithna’ashar. Not mentioned by Najashi or Tusi. GAL, i. 187; Paris, 20182 Kashf, 3268, says that it is ascribed to the Shaykh. The authenticity is therefore very doubtful.
17. كتاب النكاح- Kitdbu’n-Nikah. Najashi. Is this a chapter from some work or a separate work? Iv. ASB. Ar., 614 (?). It is doubtful whether this is the work of Saduq or of Qadi Nu’man.
18. كتاب الهداية في الأصول و الفروع- Kitabu’l-Hidaya. Najashi, Kashf, 3392; cf. Kashf, 3396 هداية الطّالبين RJ says this is not mentioned by the author of Amalu’1-Amil (558).
GAL, Sup. i. 322; Ind. Of., 4632 (A. J. Arberry in JRAS for 1939,395-6); Berlin, Brock., Sup., p.952.
Lith. Persia, 1276/1860; Sarkis, Mu’jam, 44; Br. Mus., Cat. Arab. Print. Books, 163.
- 1.Persian Literature in Modern Times, iv. 358-359. He adds that more modern times have also produced their “three Muhammads”, namely, Md. b. Hasan b. ‘Ali . . . al-Hurr al-`Amili (author of Amalu’l-Amil), d. 1033/1623-24; Md. Ibnu’l-Murtadi, commonly known as Mulla Muhsin-i-Fayd, d. 1090/1679; and Md. Baqir-i-Majlisi, d. 1111/1699 – 1700. The first wrote the Wasa’il, the second the Wafi and the thud the Biharu ‘l-Anwar, which constitute the “three books” of the later times. These seven works are the most important works on Shl’a theology, jurisprudence and tradition.
- 2.ibid., 358.
- 3.EI, iv. 982; Browne, Lit. His., iv. 405.
- 4.See Sprenger’s Preface and Browne’s valuable discussion of biographical authorities, Lit. His., iv. 355-358.
- 5.Browne, loc. cit.
- 6.Preface to Tusy’s List, pp. 1 and 2.
- 7.Of modern accounts of his life, the two following may be consulted with advantage, by Hidayat Husain in EI, ii. 265, and by D.M. Donaldson, The Shi `ite Religion, London, 1933, pp.285 286. See also Buhar Catalogue, ii. 51, and R. Strothmann in EI, iv. 354.
- 8.The Shaykh is known generally by the title of Shaykh Saduq or by his name, Ibn Babawayhi. This is an interesting compound, made up of the word baab and the termination -awayhi, which originally was -uya and earlier -oe. Wright, Arab. Gram., i. 244d, gives several examples of names such as: نِفطَوْيهِ, عَمْرَوَيْهِ, بُوَيْهِ, سَيْبَوَيْهِ the last of which is dealt with as Seboe by Justi IranischesNamenbuch, 293, the newer form being Sibuyeh. Babooe, Babuya, and thence the current arabicized Babawayhi is discussed by Justi, ibid., 55, as being both Iranian and Semitic. The termination -oe, -uya, arabicized into -a-way-hi the last (_َ وَيْه _ُوَيْه) is probably a double diminutive, as my friend Mr. W. Ivanow explains. According to him -uya = u +a (k); and such cases are to be found in Persian: mardakak, marddkd, zanakak, etc., also kuchuluk, kuchulu. Further philological discussion will be found in P. Horn, Neupersische Schriftsprache in Grund. Iran. Phil., vol. i, Pt. 2, pp. 184 -186 and No1deke, Persische Studien, i. 4 sqq. The word bab is apparently of Semitic origin and may mean “gate”. The compound “a small gate” is however not intelligible. It may be suggested that it has reference to the well-known hadith: أنا مدينة العلم و عليٌ بابها so that Saduq is the “small”, while his father `Ali is the “great” gate. This however does not accord with the fact that `Ali, his father, also bore the name of Ibn Babawayhi. The real reason of the appellation, as is so often the case, is lost in obscurity and no useful purpose would be served in making ingenious guesses. Similar compounds are Hamduya, Sadruya, Hasanuya, Dhikruya, etc. Also خالويه (RJ, 236), قولويه (Kashfu ‘l-Hujub, no. 2312) and ماجيلويه (Kashf, p.33; Najashi, 184).
- 9.The Shi `ite Religion, 286. Date of birth not mentioned, Bankipore Cat., v. Pt. I, p.183.
- 10.Tusi, Fihrist, 304; Najashi, Rijal, 276, 279. For mistakes regarding date of death, see Bankipore Catalogue, v. Pt. I, p.183.
- 11.Ahlwardt, nos. 1269, 2721, etc.
- 12.Tusi, 218; Najishi, 184-185.
- 13.Donaldson, 285.
- 14.According to Rawdatu ‘l-Jannat, the correct name is Abu Ja’far Md. b. ‘Ali al-Aswad, 378, 379.
- 15.RJ, 37222.
- 16.RJ, 5591o-11 – مشتغل بالعبادة و الزهد و لا يختلط بالنّاس
- 17.RJ, 557 sqq. According to Tusi (304):
كان جليلاً حافظاً للأحاديث بصيراً بالرجال ناقداً للأخبار
لم يُر في القميين مثله في حفظه و كثرة علمه، له نحو ثلثمائة مصنف
This tradition is repeated by all later authorities like RJ, Lu’lu’atu ‘l-Bahrayn, etc.
- 18.RJ, 55824-25.
While it cannot be denied that within recent years there has been a considerable increase in our general knowledge regarding Islam, it must also be admitted that not any appreciable advance has been made in our knowledge of Shi’ite history, philosophy and law.
Curiously enough researches of considerable significance have been made regarding Ismailism (a small fraction of the Shia) and the works of L. Massignon, W. Ivanow and P. Kraus, in particular, have opened up new vistas and indicated new lines of advance. But with regard to the most important and numerous group of the Shia, the Ithna Ashariya, the position has remained more or less stationary.
Isr. Friedlaender1, writing in 1907, complains of the paucity of our knowledge in this respect, and he says that Shi’ism is known to us in the roughest outline2, and the religious tendencies are not known at all. One of the difficulties according to him is its heterogeneous character; for it is not easy to analyze its peculiar component parts, drawn as they are from such widely divergent sources as Babylonian, Persian, Jewish and Muslim.3 Professor E. G. Browne, writing in 1924, deplores the lack of our knowledge, particularly in regard to the Shi’ite creed, and he advocates a comparative study.4
Later, discussing the Haqqu1-Yaqin of Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, a very important theological work, composed in 1109/1698 and printed in Tehran in 1241/1825, he regrets the lack of leisure which prevented him from completing its French rendering begun by the late M. A. de Biberstein Kazimirslci; and he further adds that the importance of it would be great “since we still possess no comprehensive and authoritative statement of Shi’a doctrine in any European language”.5
Still later, in 1934, R. Strothmann, writing in the Encyclopedia of Islam, while giving a brief account of the Shi’a6, laconically remarks that “there is no thorough account of the Shi’a”. The position during the last seven years has not improved, despite the appearance of works which throw light on certain aspects of Shi’ism.7
The publication of the late Professor A. J. Wensinck’s The Muslim Creed (Cambridge, 1932) marked an epoch, and after its appearance it was generally felt that having performed the task in a masterly fashion, he had clearly indicated a new approach to the problem, and indeed pointed the way to another aspect of study -the examination of the Shi’ite creed.
Professor Wensinck had restricted himself to the early Sunnite authorities, and while studying his lucid and methodical presentation of the subject, we see that the picture is incomplete and can only be completed by editing and translating a number of Shi’ite creeds, thus paving the way for a historical and systematic study of the subject.
The creed of Islam cannot be understood by the study of the “Sunnite” element only; to this must also be added the inquiry into the Shi’ite counterpart. The uses of such a study are many, but three different aspects may here be stressed: such a study would clarify many historical questions; it would give us an insight into theological controversies – as these are not always barren, fanatical and personal, but indicative of general trends of thought; and finally, it would tend to the solution of the problem of legal distinctions that puzzle some of the foremost jurists.8
Our knowledge regarding the Shi’ite faith is generally derived from three well-known heresiologists whose published work is easily accessible. These in chronological order are: Baghdadi (died 429/1038),9 Ibn Hazm (died 456/1054)10 and Shahrastani (died 548/1153)11. Of these, Shahrastani is the best known, for it was published early; later, Ibn Hazm in the rendering of Friedlaender, came also to be fairly well known; the earliest authority, Baghdadi, is for various reasons the least known. All of these are devout Sunnis, convinced of the pernicious errors of the rawafid, the Shi’a.
With such an attitude, it is impossible for them to be just or fair to the Shi’ite point of view. One may as well expect a sober account of the Church of England from a Catholic priest. The result is that the earlier orientalists believed that Shi’ism was a pernicious corruption of Islam, concocted mainly, if not solely, for political reasons12; also that the Sunni faith is the “orthodox” faith and the Shi’ite, the “heterodox” one.
Whether Shi’ism was a deliberate corruption of Islam or whether it was one of its early forms is now hardly a debatable question. All the evidence which has come to light in recent years goes against the corruption theory; it is a form of Islam of interest from various points of view and it should be studied in its historical setting principally through Shiite sources, in comparison with all the other material available. Sunnite scholars of the olden days had neither the knowledge nor the will to give a purely objective account of the Shi’a faith, this is a factor which must impel one to go to the Shiite originals themselves.
As to “orthodoxy”, a minority, however small, may well have retained a very close touch with the original tradition; the majority, however preponderant, may conceivably have lost it in the stress of political conflicts. While it is not at all easy to determine how much weight is to be given to the plausible doctrine of the Shi’a that ‘Ali, by virtue of his relationship and affinity to the Prophet, had a better insight into religion than others.
It is also not possible to dismiss contemptuously the possibility of the personal religious tradition of the Prophet, at least in some important matters, being carefully handed down to the Imams of the House of the Prophet, the people who undoubtedly had the best opportunity of knowing the true interpretation of many a principle of Islam,13 Hence a historical, objective, critical and comparative study of the Shi’ite sources is greatly to be desired.
In order to obtain an insight into the Shi’ite religion in general, we must first of all look at their creed. For this purpose we must go to their own authorities and find that we have only two sources available to us. The first is al-Babu’l-Hadi ‘Ashar by Hasan bin Yusuf bin ‘Ali bin al-Mutahhar al-Hilli, known as ‘Allama Hilli (died 726/1326). The original text, together with its commentary an-Nafi’ Yawmi’l-Hashr by Miqdad-i-Fadil al-Hilli (eighth century A.H.) was translated by W. M. Miller, and published by the Royal Asiatic Society, London, in 1928.
This little treatise is a very popular creed and has practically superseded every other in modern times. The second creed, of which a brief summary is before us, is the Aqa’idu ‘sh Shi’a by ‘Ali Asghar bin ‘Ali Akbar, composed in the middle of the 19th century A.D. This is a book of 438 pages and Professor F. G. Browne gives an admirable summary in his Persian Literature in Modern Times (381 – 402).
He says: “Such an outline is the Shi’a creed of contemporary Persia in its crudest and most popular form. It would be interesting to trace the evolution of that creed from the earliest times of Islam, to compare (so far as the available material allow) the historical with the legendary Imams, and to contrast in detail the beliefs, both doctrinal and eschatological, of the Shi’a and the Sunnis” (p. 402).
These appear to be the only Shiite creeds studied in their entirety, but much valuable material may also be found in works like Nawbakhti’s Firaqu ‘sh-Shi’a and The Shi’ite Religion by D.M. Donaldson (London, 1933). In chapters xxix, xxx and xxxi he has given interesting quotations from Majlisi’s Hayatu’1-Qulub. Thus it will be apparent that a systematic rendering of Ibn Babawayhi’s creed constitutes a great advance on our present knowledge.
He was one of the greatest Shaykhs of the Shi’a – the author of one of the FOUR BOOKS – and having died in 381/991, he preceded by about 350 years ‘Allama-I-Hilli whose al-Babu’l-Hadi ‘Ashar is now a recognized classic. It is one of the earliest Ithna ‘Ashari creeds and therefore of great value for the study of the historical evolution of the Shi’ite creed.
For the purposes of my translation I have used two printed editions, the Najaf and the Delhi editions, and consulted the Tehran edition. The Najaf edition is on the whole the most correct, although the Delhi edition gives many interesting additions and corrections in the later part. The Delhi edition is accompanied by an Urdu rendering, which despite some errors, is fairly useful; but the most admirable feature is the translator’s notes. He has apparently made good use of the Tashihu’l-I’tiqadat of Shaykh Mufid, which was printed in the periodical al-Murshid, Baghdad, and a MS. copy whereof exists in the Asafiya Library, Hyderabad.
I regret I have not been able to study this work in its entirety, although the authorities of the Rampur State Library were kind enough to allow me the loan of those parts of al-Murshid which are preserved in their library, but which unhappily contain a part only of the text of Tashih.
It was my intention originally to add a systematic introduction to this translation, giving a comparative and historical account of the Shi’ite creed. A deeper study of the subject, however, has made me realize my own limitations and instilled diffidence. It appears to me that there are numerous works, at present not available to me, which must be carefully studied and analyzed before such a task can profitably be undertaken.
The only thing I have been able to do is to add a certain number of notes for facilitating a comparative study. The Muslim Creed was quite adequate for the Sunni doctrine; but for Shi’ite dogmas, apart from al-Babu’l-Hadi Ashar, no other creed was available.
Between the alternatives of giving no references at all, or of drawing attention to some of the salient points from such doctrinal works of Isma’ilism as Kaidmi Pir and The Fatimid Creed both by W. Ivanow, I have chosen the latter course, in the hope that it may help the comparative study of Shi’ite dogma. References to Ibnu’l-‘Arabi’s doctrine have been added as they form the basis of many Sufi and mystical works.
- 1.”The Heterodoxies of the Shiites in the presentation of Ibn Hazm,” JAOS, vol. 28, pp. 1-80; and a commentary, vol. 29, pp. 1 -183.
- 2.JAOS, 28, 3.
- 3.ibid., 4.
- 4.Pers. Lit., iv. 402.
- 5.ibid., 418.
- 6.EI, iv. 350 at 357.
- 7.For example, Die Zwolfer Schi`a by R. Strothmann, Leipzig, 1926; al-Babu ‘l-Hadi Ashar, tr. W.M. Miller, R.A.S.,London, 1928; Hasan b. Musa an-Nawbakhti,Firaqu’sh-Shi’a, ed. H. Ritter, Istanbul, 1931; The Shiite Religion by D.M. Donaldson, London, 1933, to mention some of them. The best general accounts of the Shiite faith are to be found in E.G. Browne, Pers. Lit., iv. 354 sqq. and R. Strothmann, Enc. of Islam, iv. 350-358, s.v. Shi’a.
- 8.In this connection an eminent authority on Muslim Law in India, F. B. Tyabji, has made the interesting suggestion that the difference between the Shiite and Sunnite law of inheritance can only be explained on the hypothesis that the Shiite interpretation came from the Prophet himself through `Ali, and was not, as is too often assumed, the creation of later minds (Aryan Path for Feb. 1940, pp. 69-70).
- 9.Baghdadi, al-Farq bayn al-Firaq, ed. Md. Badr, Cairo, 1910; trans. in Moslem Schisms and Sects, Pt. I, by K.C. Seelye, Columbia University Press, 1920; Pt. II, by A.S.Halkin, Tel-Aviv, 1935; a Mukhtasar by `Abd ar-Raziq ar-Ras’ani was ed. by P. Hitti, Cairo, 1924.
- 10.Israel Friedlaender, op. cit. The second volume contains a commentary and very valuable materials for the study of Shi’ism.
- 11.Shahrastani, al-Milal wa’n-Nihal, ed. Cureton, London, 1846;reprint, Leipzig, 1923.
- 12.Isr. Friedlaender, JAOS, 28, 2.
- 13.W. Ivanow has made some pertinent observations on the question of orthodoxy and heterodoxy in JBBRAS for 1940, 52.
Tract on The Beliefs of The Shi’a Imamiya
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, Single is He and without associate; and may the blessings of Allah and His greetings be upon Muhammad and his excellent and pure progeny. Sufficient for us is Allah, and He is the best of Agents and the best of those on whom we rely.
The Belief of The Imamiya Concerning Tawhid
Says the learned Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Husayn bin Musa Ibn Babawayhi al-Qummi, the jurist, the author of this book: Know that our belief concerning tawhid is that Allah, exalted is He, is one (wahid) and absolutely unique (ahad).1 There is naught like unto Him; He is Prior (qadim)2; He never was non-existent and never will be; He is the Hearing and the Seeing One; the Omniscient (‘alim), the Wise; the Living, the Everlasting, the Mighty (‘aziz), the Holy (quddus), the Knowing One (‘aalim), the Powerful, the Self-Sufficient (ghani).
He cannot be described by His Essence (jawhar); His Body (jism); His Form (sura), or by His Accidental Qualities (‘arad)3. Nor in terms of length (khatt), breadth (‘ard), surface (sath), weight (thiqal), lightness (khiffa), quiescence (sukun), motion (haraka), place (makan) or time (zaman). He, exalted is He, transcends all the attributes of His creatures; He is beyond both the limitations (hadd) of transcendence (ibtal) and of immanence (tashbih).4
He is a Thing (shay’), but not like other things.5 He is Unique (ahad), Eternal Refuge (samad), He begets not, lest He may be inherited; nor is He begotten, lest He may be associated (with others). There is no one like unto Him; He has no equal (nidd) or opponent (didd), compeer (shibh) or consort (sahibah). Nothing can be compared with Him (mithl); He has no rival (nazir), no partner (sharik).6 Human eyes cannot behold Him; while He discerns (the power of) eyes.7 The thoughts of men cannot compass Him; while He is aware of them.
“Slumber overtakes Him not, nor sleep” (Qur’an 2:255).
He is the Gracious (latif8) and the Knowing One (khabir), the Creator (khaliq) of all things. There is no deity (ilah) other than Him; to Him (alone) belongs (the power of) creation (khalq) and authority (amr). Blessed (tabaraka) is Allah, the Lord of the worlds. And he who believes in tashbih (immanence) is a polytheist (mushrik).
And he, who attributes to the Shias beliefs other than those that have been stated concerning the Unity of Allah (tawhid), is a liar. And every report (khabar) contrary to what I have stated concerning tawhid is an invention (mawdu’/mukhtara’). Every tradition (hadith) which does not accord with the Book of Allah is null and void (batil), and if it is to be found in the books of our doctors, it is apocryphal (mudallas)9.
As for the reports (akhbar) which lead ignorant persons to imagine that Allah is comparable to His creatures, their meanings can be understood by the significance of similar passages in the Qur’an. For example, in the Qur’an (we have):
“Everything is perishable except His Face (wajh)” (Qur’an 28:88).
Now the meaning of wajh, in this context, is din (religion). And wajh is that whereby Allah is attained and wherewith one can turn to Him.10 And in the Qur’an (we have):
“On the day when the leg shall be bared11 and they shall be summoned to prostrate themselves, but they cannot; humbled shall be their eyes, and abasement shall overspread them for they had been summoned to prostrate themselves while they were yet unhurt” (Qur’an 68:42-43).12
Now saq (leg) means the result or consummation of the affair and its intensity.
And (there occurs) in the Qur’an:
“Lest a soul should say: Oh woe to me! For what I neglected in my duty (janb) towards Allah!” (Qur’an 39:56).
Here janb means obedience.13 And (we have) in the Qur’an:
“And I breathed into it of My spirit” (Qur’an 15:29).14
Now he created that spirit (ruh), and Allah had breathed of it into Adam and Jesus. He only said: “My ruh” and He said: “My house”; “My slave”, “My garden”15, “My fire”, and “My earth”.
And in the Qur’an (we have):
“Nay both His hands are outspread” (Qur’an 5:64)
By which is meant “the good of this world and the good of the next world”16. And in the Qur’an (we have):
“And the sky, We built it by (Our) hands” (Qur’an 51:47).
Now ayd (hand) means “strength”. And similarly, His Word, exalted is He:
“And remember Our slave David, possessed of ayd” (Qur’an 38:18)
That is, possessed of strength (quwwa). And in the Qur’an (we have):
“O! Iblis, what prevents thee from adoring, what I have created with my two Hands” (Qur’an 38:75).
(By two hands), He means “My power and My strength (qudra, quwwa).17” And in the Qur’an (we have):
”And on the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth (will be) in His possession (qabda)” (Qur’an 39:67).
That is to say, it will be His property and no one will share the earth with Him. And in the Qur’an (we have):
“And the Heavens shall be rolled up, in His right hand (yamin)” (Qur’an 39:67).
(By “right hand”) is meant “His power” (qudra).
And in the Qur’an (we have):
“And Thy Lord shall come, while the angels shall be arranged rank on rank” (Qur’an 89:22).
This means that “the command” of Thy Lord shall come. And in the Qur’an (we have):
“Nay verily, from their Lord on that day are they veiled ” (Qur’an 83:15).
That is, “from the reward (thawab) of their Lord”. And in the Qur’an (we have):
“What do they expect but that Allah should come unto them in the shadows (zulal) of a cloud” (Qur’an 2:210).18
That is, “the punishment of Allah”.And in the Qur’an (we have):
“Faces on that day shall be bright (nadira), gazing (nazira) on their Lord” (Qur’an 75:22-23)
That means (the faces) will be lighted up (mushriqa), looking at their Lord’s reward. And in the Qur’an (we have):
“And he on whom my wrath descends is lost” (Qur’an 20:81).
Now the wrath of Allah is His punishment and His pleasure is His reward. And (we have) in the Qur’an:
“Thou knowest what is in my soul, but I know not what is in Thy soul” (Qur’an 5:116).19
That is, Thou hast knowledge of my innermost secrets, but I have no knowledge of Thy secrets. And in the Qur’an (we have):
“Allah biddeth you beware of Himself (nafs)” (Qur’an 3:28).
By nafs He means His revenge. And (we have) in the Qur’an:
“Verily Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet” (Qur’an 33:56).
Also: “He it is who blesseth you, and His angels (bless you)” (Qur’an 33:43).
Now salat from Allah means His mercy; and (salat) from angels is (their) asking for (your) pardon and purification20; and (salat) from men is prayer (du’a).
We have in the Qur’an:
“And they (the unbelievers or Jews) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them), and Allah is the best of schemers” (Qur’an 3:54).
Also: “Verily the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is, Allah Who beguiles them”21 (Qur’an 4:142).
As well as: “Allah doth mock them” (Qur’an 2:15).
And we have:
“Allah will deride at (sakhira) them “(Qur’an 9:79).
And we have:
“They have forgotten Allah, so He hath forgotten them” (9:67).
And the meaning of all this is that He, the Glorious and Mighty, shall requite them for their scheming (makr), beguiling (mukhada’a) mockery (istihza’), and forgetfulness (nisyan); and that is, He will make them forget themselves, as He, the Mighty and Glorious, has said: “And be not ye as those who forgot Allah, therefore He caused them to forget their souls” (Qur’an 59:19).
For in reality Allah, the Glorious and Mighty, does not scheme, nor does He beguile, deride, or forget.22 Exalted is Allah beyond all this by His Greatness and Glory. In our traditions which are attacked by our opponents and heretics, there do not occur any words except those similar to these, and their meaning is the meaning of the words of the Qur’an.
- 1.32. For grammatical distinction between wahid and ahad see Wright, Arab. Gram. ii. 236. The difference is also explained in MB, s. v. وحد 242. The same explanation will be found in N at p.91 in a fa ‘ida to an-Nafi ` Yawmi ‘l-Hashr. There is also a long discussion of the two terms in Tawhid, 48 – 61 ; but probably the truth is as Imam Baqir is reprted to have said (Tawhid, 56): قال الباقر ع: ألأحد الفرد المتفرد و ألأحد و الواحد بمعنى واحد و هو المتفرد الذي لا نظير له و التوحيد الإقرار بالوحدة.. إلخ
The term wahid refers to number, ahad to essence or substance. Therefore wahid is single in respect of number; and ahad is unique, simple or unanalysable in respect of substance. According to Wen sinck, ahadiya is a quality of the essence, and wahidiya is called a quality of action, MC, 205-6. See also Affifi, 24, 39, 63, FC, no. 3.
- 2.BHA, nos. 42, 69 -70.
- 3.MC, 209 sqq.; BHA, no. 86; FC, no. 6.
- 4.حد الإبطال obviously refers to those people who believe that God has no attributes or qualilities, nor can He be said to be possessed of perfection; and حد التشبيه refers to those who say that God possesses certain attributes or qualities but to the degree of perfection, and therefore His qualities cannot be compared with the qualities possessed by human beings. Ibn Babawayhi denies both these positions. His denial of تشبيه immanence, and تنزيه transcendence, may be compared with Ibnu’1-`Arabi’s attitude, Affifi, 18, 20 sqq.
- 5.MC, 190, Fiqh Akbar II, art. 4; FC, nos.5 -7; BHA, no. 86.
- 6.Here D adds لا مشير له “He has no advisor”.
- 7.Qur’an 6,103.
- 8.MC, 82; BHA, nos. 144 -148.
- 9.Mudallas is explained by Md. I’jaz Hasan as “that tradition which an apponent of the Imamiya has ascribed to the Shiites”. دَلَّسَ means to hide the defects in merchandise which is sold, MB; whence according to the traditionists “to conceal the defects of the hadith, either in the text, in the chain of narrators or in the source”. EI, Supp. 222, s.v. Tadlis.
- 10.MC, 63 sqq., 88 sq.; FC, 16; Kalami Ptr, 53 sqq.
- 11.كُشِفَ عن ساقٍ is a peculiar expression of the Arabs, which signifies a great rush and tumult, in which, while running hither and thither, the growns are lifted and legs bared. Explained further in Tas-hih (al-Murshid, i.78).
- 12.و هم سالمون Omitted in D.
- 13.Omitted in D.
- 14.Explained in Tashih (Mur. i. 111).
- 15.So in D. In N we have جنبي
- 16.Expl. Tas. (Mur. i. 110).
- 17.Sh. Mufid expl. That يد does not mean قدرة or قوة. It means نعمتي “my favour”, regarding ad-dunya and al-akhira. Tas. (Mur. i. 143).
- 18.N adds here و الملائكة as in the Qur’an.
- 19.D, p.14, line 7, erroneously says that this refers to Joseph; this is a reference to Jesus.
- 20.Here the Urdu translator renders تزكيَّة “and declaring the purity of the Messenger of God”, which is hardly justifiable. D, 14, 6th line from bottom.
- 21.Regarding the explanation of 3, 47 and 4, 141, Sh. Mufid says that Ibn Babawayhi is correct, but a further reason is that the Arabs in a number of cases called a thing by a metaphorical name (الإسم المجازي).
- 22.How نسيان can be attributed to Allah in Q.59, 19 in expl. By Sh. Mufid. Tas. (Mur. i. 249-250).
Attributes Of (His) Essence And Of (His) Actions
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far (on whom be the mercy of Allah): our belief concerning the attributes of (His) essence is this. Whenever we describe Allah by the attributes of His essence,1 we only desire by each attribute the denial of its opposite in respect of Him, the Glorious and Mighty. We say that Allah, the Glorious and Mighty, has always been the Hearing One (sami), the Seeing One (basir), the Knowing One (‘alim), the Wise (hakim), the Powerful (qadir), the Glorious (aziz), the Living (hayy), the Ever-lasting (qayyum), the One (wahid), the Prior (qadim) – for these are the attributes of His essence.
We do not say that He, the Glorious and Mighty has always been the Great Creator (khallaq), the One possessed of Action (fa’il), Will (sha’i‘)2 and Intention (murid), the Approver (radi), the Disapprover (sakhit), the Provider (raziq), the Bountiful One (wahhab), the Speaker (mutakallim), – because these are the attributes of His Actions (af’al), and (therefore) they are created (muhdath).3 It is not right to say that Allah is always to be qualified by them.4
- 1.Sh. Mufid in Tas. (Mur. ii. 19-20) explains this and says that the attributes of Allah are divided into two classes. In the first class, there is no reference to action -sifatu ‘dh-dhat; in the second, they refer to action – af’al. The distinction is this: in the case of the attributes of the essence, the opposite cannot be predicted of Allah. You cannot say, for example, that He dies (opp. of hayy, ever-living), or is weak (opp. of qadir), or is ignorant; and you cannot describe Him as being anything other than living (hayy), knowing (`alim) and powerful (qadir), whilst you can say that Allah is not a creator today; or that He is not a giver of sustenance to Zayd; or that He is not the revivifier of an actually dead man, and so on. And Allah can be described by such contraries as Allah gives and withholds, causes to live and causes to die, etc.
- 2.Reading شايئاً D ; N err. سائباً
- 3.N افعاله و هي محدثه; D افعال محدثة
- 4.MC, 206 sqq.; BHA, no. 56, no. 62, nos. 97-99; FC, no. 13, no. 16.
Belief Concerning Taklif (Responsibility)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning the obligation to obey the law (taklif) is that Allah imposes upon His slaves (mankind) only such legal obligations as are within their power (to obey), for He says:
“Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its capacity” (Qur’an 2:286).
Now (in the Arabic idiom) wus’ (capacity, scope) indicates a lesser degree of potentiality than taqa (strength). And (Imam Ja’far) as-Sadiq has said: I swear by Allah, Allah has not burdened His slaves, save to a lesser extent than their capacity.
For He has only imposed upon them five prayers during the course of a day and night; and only thirty days of fast during the year; and only five out of every two hundred dirhams (as zakat); and only one pilgrimage during the course of a lifetime, although the full extent of their capacity is greater.2
- 1.The word taklif in the sense used by the theologians is difficult to render. It is rendered “the imposition of a task” by Miller, BHA, no. 10, p.5. For a fuller expl. see nos. 131-143. Wensinck, MC, 43, translates it “the obligation of the law”; p.216; “the bondage of the law “, etc. The “sanction” of the law may also be suggested, the word sanction being used in the modern juristic sense. But this can only be used with reference to God. Ivanow translates it “religious duties”, FC, no. 55; this is not very satisfactory. Probably the best is “obligation”, “responsibility”, Affifi, 155. Taklif is so used that God is mukallif (one who applies or enforces taklif), while man is mukallaf (one to whom taklif is applied or upon whom it is enforced). In English we would say: God enforces the rule of law; man is obliged to obey.
- 2.MC, 261, 265; FC, no. 55.
The Belief In Respect Of Human Actions
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning human actions is that they are created (makhluqa), in the sense that Allah possesses foreknowledge (khalq taqdir), and not in the sense that Allah compels mankind to act in a particular manner by creating a certain disposition (khalq takwin). And the meaning of all this is that Allah has never ceased to be aware of the potentialities (maqadir) of human beings.1
- 1.This explanation is necessary in order to repel the inference that if God is the creator of all actions, then the responsibility for sin cannot be but His – which is of course an impossible doctrine
having regard to the belief in taklif. The Urdu translator explains khalq taqdir by saying that God has created human beings with the power to do good as well as evil, but He possesses foreknowledge of what they are going to do. Khalq takwin would imply that God has created the actions as well, so that their actions are really His actions. This is not the Ithni `Ashari view D, notes to p.17.
See also Wensinck, MC, 49 sqq. (qadar = the eternal decree of God, p.53); especially, 55. Far more radical is BHA, nos. 118-122 in which is advocated complete free will. FC, nos. 95,96; Affifi, 152 -156. “God does not will in the sense that He chooses, but in the sense that He decrees what He knows will take place”, Affifi, 156. In MB, 3118-9 it is clearly stated that the Ash’arites take the view of complete predestination, and the Mu’tazilites, of complete free will, while the truth is midway between the two extremes. Khalq taqdir and takwin are explained by Sh. Mufid in Tas. (Mur. ii. 98 -100) , who holds that the actions of men are not by any means created by Allah (افعال العباد غير مخلوقة لله) for him ‘ilm and akhlaq are two different things in Arabic. Some further explanation will also be found later at Mur. ii. 140.
Regarding the Denial of Both Constraint And Delegation
Says the Shaykh, our belief concerning this is the saying of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq: There is neither (complete) compulsion (or constraint on human beings), nor (complete) delegation (or freedom), but the matter is midway between the two (extremes).1 He was asked to define what was meant by “an affair midway between the two.”
He said: For instance you see a man intent upon a crime and you dissuade him; then he commits the crime. Now, it is not because he did not accept (your advice) and you left him, that you are the person who commanded him to commit the crime.2
- 1.N بل أمر بين أمرين; D بل أمر بين أمرين. Sh. Mufid explains jabr and tafwid, Mur. ii. 142 -143.
- 2.MC, 157, 210, 213; BHA, no.119;FC, nos.95 -96; Affifi, 154.
The Belief Concerning (Allah’s) Intention (Irada) And Will (Mashi’a)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning this is (based upon) the saying of (Imam Ja’far) as-Sadiq: Allah wills (sha’a) and intends (arada); or He does not like (lam yuhibba) and He does not approve (lam yarda).2
Now by sha’a (He wills) is meant that nothing takes place without His knowledge and arada is synonymous with it; and He does not like (lam yuhibba) it to be said that He is “the third of the three (cf. 5, 77); and He does not approve of disbelief on the part of His slaves. Says Allah the Mighty and Glorious:
“Verily thou (O Muhammad) guidest not whom thou lovest, but Allah guideth whom He will” (Qur’an 28:56).
And He says, Exalted is He:
“And ye will not, unless (it be that) Allah willeth” (Qur’an 76:30; 81:29).
And He says, the Glorious and Mighty:
“And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou (O Muhammad) compel men until they are believers”3 (Qur’an 10:99).
And He says, Glorious and Mighty is He:
“And it is not for any soul to believe save by the permission of Allah” (Qur’an 10:100).
And as He, the Glorious and Mighty, says:
“No soul can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at a term appointed “(Qur’an 3:145).
And as He, the Glorious and Mighty, says:
“And they say, had we any chance in the affair we should not have been slain here. Say (O Muhammad): Even if ye had been in your houses those appointed to be slain would surely have gone forth to the places where they were to lie”4 (Qur’an 3:154).
And as He says:
“If thy Lord willed, they would not do it; so leave them alone with their devising “(Qur’an 6:112).
And He, the most Exalted, says:
“Had Allah willed, they would not have been polytheists” (Qur’an 6:107).
And he says:
“And if We had willed, We could have given every soul its guidance” (Qur’an 32:13).
And He says:
“And whomsoever Allah wishes to guide, that man’s breast will He open to Islam; but whom He wishes to mislead, strait and narrow will He make his breast, as though he were mounting up to the very Heavens!”5(Qur’an 6: 125).
And He says:
“It is Allah’s desire to assign no portion in the Hereafter” (Qur’an 3:176).
And He says:
“Allah desires to make the burden light for you” (Qur’an 4:28).
And He says:
“Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you” (Qur’an 2:185).
And He says:
“And Allah wishes to turn to you in mercy; but those who follow their lusts desire that ye should go greatly astray” (Qur’an 4:27).
And He says:
“And Allah desireth no injustice for (His) slaves “(Qur’an 40:31).
This is our belief concerning (Allah’s) Intention and (His) Will. Our opponents denounce us for this, and say that according to our belief, Allah intends (that man should commit) crimes and that He desired the murder of Husayn bin ‘A1i, on whom both be peace.6
This is not what we believe. But we say that Allah desired that the sin of the sinners should be contradistinguished from the obedience of those that obey, that He desired that sins, viewed as actions, should not be ascribed to Him, but that the knowledge of these sins may be ascribed to Him, even before the commission thereof.7
And we hold that Allah’s wish was that the murder of Husayn should be a sin against Him and the opposite of obedience. And we say that Allah intended that his (Husayn’s) murder should be prohibited, and something which was not commanded.
And we say that his murder was something that was disliked and not approved;8 and we say that his murder was the cause of Allah’s displeasure and it was not the cause of His approval, and that Allah the Mighty and Glorious did not desire to prevent his murder by means of (His) compulsion or power, but merely by prohibition and word. And if He had prohibited it by (His) compulsion and power, even as he prevented it by prohibition and word, surely he would have escaped being murdered, just as Abraham was saved from the fire, when Allah, the most Exalted, said9 to the fire in which he (Abraham) was thrown:
“O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham” (Qur’an 21:69).
And we say that Allah always knew that Husayn would be killed by force, and by such death, attain everlasting merit, and his murderer, everlasting wretchedness. We hold that what Allah wills; happens; and what He willeth not, will not happen.10 This is our belief regarding Allah’s intention and will, and not that which is ascribed to us by our opponents and for which we are reviled by those who hold heretical views.
- 1.Cp. Affifi, 160. According to Ibnu’l-`Arabi, mashi ‘a is the divine commonsense, and is an emanation from God, something like Plotinus’ First Intellect; whereas irada is the creative will. The distinction between irada and mashi ‘a is, according to Affifi, derived by him from Hallaj.
- 2.The Imam takes these four expressions and explains and illustrates them one by one.
- 3.Qur’an 10, 99 is expl. in Tas. (Mur. iii. 22-23)
- 4.كتاباً مؤجلاً may also be rendered “a fixed ordinance”.
- 5.Expl. in Tas. (Mur. iii. 21 – 22).
- 6.Referring to the believers in extreme predestination. MC, 81,82, discusses the Mu’tazilite view, which is the same as that held here. See further MC, 143, where the Ash’arite view is fully discussed. The doctrine of al-Qummi does not differ in the main from the neo-Ash’arite.
- 7.MC, 143,144; BHA, nos. 118 sqq.; FC, nos. 96-89, 95.
- 8.The clause مستقبحاً غير مستحسناً omitted in D.
- 9.N قال الله تعالى للنّار التي القى فيها: يا نار كوني .. الخ; D قال الله تعالى للنّار: كوني.. الخ
- 10.This is again difficult to reconcile. The extreme Sunnite view appears to be that everything was caused and willed by God, either directly or by means of His knowledge. The Mu’tazilites however denied ascription of evil to Allah. And the Ithna `Asharis are close upon this view, BHA, nos. 125, 126. The Isma’ilis do not attribute evil to God, FC, p.72 (top). For a philosophical view, see Affifi, 156 sqq. Fuller discussion, Tawhid, 272 -277.
Concerning (qada’) Destiny And Decree (qadar)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning this is the reply of (Imam Ja’far) as-Sadiq to Zurara when he was asked: What do you say, O my Leader, concerning destiny (qada) and decree (qadar)? He said: I say that when Allah will collect the slaves on the Day of Resurrection, He will ask them concerning what He had enjoined on them, and will not question them concerning what He had destined for them.2
Now discussion about (Allah’s) decree is prohibited; for the Prince of Believers, when questioned about the decree replied: It is a deep sea, do not enter into it. Then the man asked him a second time and he replied: It is a dark path, do not traverse it. Then he asked him a third time and he said: It is a secret of Allah, do not speak about it.3
And the Prince of Believers, on whom be peace, said concerning the decree (qadar): Lo! Verily, qadar is a secret of Allah’s secrets, and a veil of Allah’s veils, and a guarded thing4 within Allah’s guarded thing, being raised within the veil of Allah5 concealed from Allah’s creatures and sealed by the seal of Allah.
Among the things within the knowledge of Allah, it has priority (over all others). Allah has exonerated His slave from its knowledge, and elevated it beyond the ambit of their perception and reason. They cannot attain to (a knowledge) of its divine nature, or its eternal power, or its refulgent greatness, or the glory of its oneness; for this (knowledge of qadar) is a raging sea, exclusive to Allah, the Mighty and Glorious.6
Its depth is the distance between the heavens and the earth; its width, the distance between the east and the west; it is dark as a starless night; full of snakes and fishes, which at one time come up to the surface, and at others go down into the bottom of the sea.
At the bottom (of that sea) there is a shining sun. It does not befit any one to seek knowledge of it (the sun), except the One, the Matchless, the Everlasting. He who tries to seek knowledge of it, contravenes Allah in His command, and disputes His sovereignty, and probes into His secret and His veil.7 And (thereby)
“He shall incur the wrath of Allah: Hell shall be his abode and wretched the journey thither”8 (Qur’an 8:16).
And it is related that once upon a time the Prince of Believers, on whom be peace, avoided a slanting wall and went to the other side. He was asked: O Prince of Believers, do you run from the destiny (qada) of Allah? He replied: I run from the destiny (qada) of Allah to His decree (qadar).
And (Imam Ja’far) as-Sadiq was asked concerning charms (ruqya, plural ruqan), whether to some extent they avert Allah’s decree (qadar). And he replied: They form part of (Allah’s) decree.9
- 1.For gada’ see EI, ii. 603 and for qadar, EI, ii. 605 (both by Macdonald). Also R. Levy, Sociology of Islam, ii. 45 -47.
- 2.Tawhid, 292. Sh. Mufid does not accept this as a properly authenticated report, Tas. (Mur. iii. 60-61 ). He explains that Ibn Bibawayhi has cited “rare” traditions. Qada’ has four meanings أحدهما الخلق و الثاني الأمر و الثالث الاعلام و الرابع القضاء (p.60), and then he cited verses of the Qur’an in support. A further explanation will be found in Mur. iii. 283.
- 3.Tawhid, 292. Adopting the reading of N تتكلمه. D has تتكلفه which would mean “Do not trouble yourself about it, or do not attempt to unravel its mystery”. Sh. Mufid explains that this prohibition has two applications: it applies to people who after discussion may lose the true faith and be confused; and it applies also to people who question the wisdom of Allah’s creation, and its causes and effects, Tas. (Mur. iii. 282 – 283).
- 4.So N سرّ من سرّ الله و ستر من ستر الله و حرز من حرز الله D has سر من اسرار الله و ستر من استار الله.. الخ
- 5.Meaning that within the things which are God’s secrets, it has an exalted rank.
- 6.The correct reading appears to be that of D: لا ينالونه بحقيقته الرَّبانيّة و لا بقدرته الصمدانية
- 7.Reading تضيء neither يضيء D, nor N قضى is correct
- 8.Tawhid, 306.
- 9.Tawhid, 294-295. It is significant that the whole of this chapter is based upon the fundamental dogma that the human mind is utterly incapable of comprehending the secrets of gada’ and qadar. (There is also a clear distinction between qadr and qadar فالقَدْر بالفتح فالسُكون ما يقدّره الله من القضاء و بالفتح ما صدر مقدوراً عن فعل القادر: MB, 31020). A useful discussion is by Levy (op. cit.) ; whether originally there was a distinction is extremely doubtful. Qada’ appears to be “predestination” strictly, that is, God’s will that a certain thing should happen; and qadar is the actual happening of the event in consequence of such predestination. To take an analogy from the law, something like judgement and execution. Some translators like Ivanow define it as chance: “Perhaps the best meaning would be -chance” FC, 70. This is diffuclt to justify. A full discussion of Sh. Saduq’s views will be found in Tawhid, 291 sqq. Qadha ‘and its ten meanings are discussed in Tawhid, 295 -297, but there is no clear distinction. See also MB, 72 for gada’; and 309 -311 for qadar (and qadr). The eight meanings of qadar are discussed in FC, no. 96. After a full discussion of the problem one fully appreciates the advice of Majlisi (I’tiqadat, 81,bot.): و ليس لك التفكر في شبه القضاء و القدر و الخوض فيها، فإن الأئمة قد نهونا عن التفكر فيها فإن فيها شبهاً قويةً يعجز عقول أكثر الناس عن حلَّها، و قد ضلَّ فيها كثيرٌ من العلماء، فإياكَ و التفكر وا_ (illegible) فيها, Sh. Mufid also explains how God commands good acts and prohibits bad actions in terms of the doctrine of predestination, Tas. (Mur. iii.60-61).
Concerning Man’s Original Nature (fitra) And His True Guidance (hidaya)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning this is that Allah has undoubtedly created man with a disposition towards (accepting) the unity of Allah2. And this is (in consonance with) what He, the Mighty and Glorious, says:
“The true faith of Allah, for the acceptance of which He has created man” (Qur’an 30:30).3
And concerning His saying, exalted is He:
“It is not for Allah to lead a people astray after He hath rightly guided them, until He hath clearly shewn to them what they ought to fear” (Qur’an 9:116).
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq4 said: (He does not lead them astray) until He informs them of what pleases and what displeases Him. And concerning the saying of Him, who is exalted above all:
“And (He) inspired it5 (with the consciousness of) what is wrong for it and what is right for it,” (Qur’an 91:8),
he (Imam Ja’far) said: (That means) He made manifest to it (the soul) what (acts) are permissible and what sins are to be avoided. And He, Exalted is He, says:
“Verily We have shown him the way, whether he be grateful or disbelieving” (Qur’an 76:3),
and (concerning this) he (Imam Ja’far) said: (That is) We have made it (the true religion) known to him, whether he accepts it or not.
And concerning the saying of Him, who is mighty and Glorious:
“And as for Thamud, We gave them guidance, but they preferred blindness to guidance” (Qur’an 41:17).
Imam Ja’far explained: (And this) despite their knowing (the truth). Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was asked concerning the saying of Allah, the Mighty and Glorious:
“And (did We not) guide him to the parting of the two mountain paths?” (Qur’an 90:10).
He said: (This refers to) the path of righteousness and the path of wickedness. And he said: That which Allah has kept from the knowledge of human beings is entirely set apart from them. And he also said: Allah has adduced reasons to mankind for what He has given them and what He has made known to them.6
- 1.Fitra is a term which has several meanings, e.g., “original nature”, “natural religion”, and finally “Islam”. MC, 42 – 44, 214 sqq.
- 2.Sh. Mufid attributes this to Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq ( Mur. iii. 327), and says that Sh. Saduq has not explained its meaning. The first meaning of fitra is ” .creation”; the second is the one explained in the text. Unfortunately the text of Tas-hih here is full of lacunae and not fully comprehensible, as the editor explains in the footnotes.
- 3.This verse is not easy to render into the English language, and should be read with the previous clause. Pickthall has “The nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created men”; Rodwell, “the faith which God hath made, and for which He hath made man”; Palmer, “(according to) the constitution whereon God has constituted man”; Muhammad `Ali, “the nature made by Allah in which He has made men”. In my rendering I have tried to emphasize the idea that God has created man with a natural disposition to accept the true religion.
- 4.Here D has أيضاً erroneously, instead of الصادق ع see p.253.
- 5.That is, the soul.
- 6.The opening sentence in this section may be compared with the orthodox Sunnite view in Fiqh Akbar II. MC, 190 -191, art. 6. The discussion of Wensinck (op. cit.) leaves nothing to add, except that the Ithna `Asharite view is allied to the Mu’tazilite. Cp. The Isma’ili discussion of fitra, FC, nos. 3, 16, 65, where it is the fitra which is the proof of the existence of God and of nubuwwa. For philological discussion see Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur’dn, 221. In Tawhid, 266 sqq., a tradition is related describing fitra as islam; this may be compared with the view of Nawawi, MC,44, and of the hadith, ibid., 215.
Belief In The Capacity Of Human Beings (al-istita’a)
The shaykh Abu Ja’far, may Allah have mercy on him, said: Our belief regarding this (question) is what Imam Musa bin Ja’far al-Kazim, on both of whom be peace, said, when he was asked, “Has a human being capacity?” He said: Yes, provided he possesses four characteristics – (he should be) free in respect of action1; in good health; complete in the possession of limbs, and in the possession of capacity given him by Allah. Now when all these qualities coexist, then the man is said to be capable (mustati).
He was asked, “For instance?” and the Imam said: (Suppose) there is a man who is free to act, in good health, possessing normal limbs. It is not possible for him to fornicate unless he sees a woman. Now when he meets the woman,2 it may either be that he is chaste, and prevents himself (from sin) as did Joseph, on whom be peace; or that he may act freely with her and fornicate and then he is a fornicator. He cannot be said to have obeyed Allah under compulsion (in the first case); nor can he be said to have disobeyed Him by being overpowered (in the second case).3
And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was asked concerning the saying of Allah the Mighty and Glorious:
“And they had been summoned to prostrate themselves while they were yet unhurt” (Qur’an 68:43).
He said: (That is) they were capable of acting as they were commanded and of abstaining from that which was prohibited, and for this reason they were tested.4 And Imam Abu Ja’far (Muhammad al-Baqir) on whom be peace, said: In the Torah it is written “O Moses (says Allah), verily I have created thee and chosen thee and guided thee and given thee strength and commanded thee to obey Me, and prohibited thee from disobeying Me.
Now if thou wilt obey Me, I shall help thee towards My obedience; but if thou wilt disobey Me, I shall not aid thee in thy disobedience to Me. It is for me to show kindness to thee in respect of thy obedience; and it is for Me to charge thee for thy disobedience to me”.5
- 1.mukhalla as-sarb is employed for animals let loose for roaming freely in pasture land.
- 2.Reading أمرأة with D, not امرأته as in N.
- 3.Tawhid, 279-280.
- 4.Tawhid, 280.
- 5.The question of istita’a is intimately connected with free will and predestination. The views of al-Qummi go further than most authorities. Analysing Wensick’s discussion, there may really be three positions: (1) Man’s activity is not real but only metaphorical (Jabrites); (2) Man’s capacity differs in respect of good and evil actions (Ash’arites; see also MC, 266, art. 19; and (3) Complete capacity (Mu`tazilites, Shi`ites) -and apparently al-Qummi takes the last position. MC, art. 128 (art. 15). 157, 266; BHA, nos. 115 -122, particularly 119. Tawhid, 277 – 284.
Regarding the Source of Creation (mabda’ )
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: The Jews believe that Allah, Who is Blessed and Exalted above all, has (after creating the universe) relinquished the affair (of creation). But we say that He, Who is Exalted above all,
“Every day He exerciseth (universal) power” (Qur’an 55:29).
One particular affair does not distract Him from another.1 He quickens and kills, He creates and sustains and acts as He wills. We say:
“Allah effaceth what He will, and establisheth (what He will), and with Him is the Mother of the Book (ummul-kitab)2 “ (Qur’an 13:39).
He destroys only that which exists and he creates only that which does not exist. This is not the (sort of) creation in which the Jews and those that follow them believe. The Jews ascribe to us this doctrine of creation3 and the different schismatics who oppose us follow them in this matter. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq said: Allah never sent a prophet (nabi) until He obtained from him the covenant for restricting his worship to Him alone, and for rejecting (His) equals (nidd, plural andad).
And He, the most Exalted, retards what He wills, and advances what He wills.4 An instance of this is that He abrogated (previous) faiths and commands by the faith of our Prophet and his ordinances. Another instance (of bad’) is the supersession of the Books by the Qur’an.
And as-Sadiq says: He who asserts that Allah the Mighty and Glorious does something new which He did not know before – from him I dissociate myself. And he said: He who asserts that Allah, after doing something, repents concerning it – then he, in our opinion, is a denier of Allah the Great.5
And as for the saying of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, peace be on him, that nothing appeared to Allah concerning any matter, as it appeared to Him as regards my son Isma’il – verily he (Imam Ja’far) says: Nothing manifested (itself) from (the will of) Allah, Glory be to Him, concerning any affair, as that which appeared regarding my son Isma’il, when He cut him off by death before me6, so that it may be known that he was not the Imam after me.7
- 1.Tawhid, 271.
- 2.Or “source of ordinance” (Pickthall); or of “revelation” (Palmer). By أُمُّ الكتاب MB understands: يعني في اصل الكتاب، يريد اللوح المحفوظ.
- 3.N فنسبنا في ذلك الى القول بالبداء الخ; D فنمينا (نمانا؟) اليهود لعنهم الله في ذلك الى القول بالبداء الخ.
- 4.Tawhid, 269.
- 5.Tawhid, 271.
- 6.N اذا آخترمه الخ; D اذا اختاره.
- 7.Tawhid, 268-272; MC, 75 sqq., 188 sqq., 193, 210, 228 sqq.; BHA, nos.66-82;FC, nos.19-22; Affifi, 10 sqq., 28-29. Creation its cause, result and true meaning, has always been a moot point with the mutakallimun. The whole position is summarized in a masterly fashion by Wensickk (MC, particularly, 75-78,228-229). The logical Aristotelian view, that if God was creating the world from eternity, the world itself is eternal, was denied by the formula “Allah was Creator before He created”. MC, 193; Fiqh Akabar II, art. 16.
The Ithna `Ashari view is clear, that God is continually creating and nothing else can claim eternity. The Isma’lli view differs widely. See FC, nos. 19-22. Ibda’, creatio ex nihilo, is something quite different from khalq or bad’. The creator is the intermediary, not the Unknownable Absolute, mubdi`. This intermediary is the `aqlu ‘l-awwal. Ibnu ‘l-`Arabi derived much from the Ismi’ili concepts, Affifi, 186.
Concerning Abstention From Disputation (jadal) And Contention About Allah (mira’)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far, may Allah have mercy on him: disputation (jadal) concerning Allah is prohibited, because it leads to that which does not befit Him.1 And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was asked concerning the saying of Allah the Mighty and Glorious:
“And that thy Lord, He is the goal” (Qur’an 53:42).
He said: When conversation turns towards (a discussion of) Allah, then refrain (from speech). And as-Sadiq used to say: O son of Adam! If a bird were to eat your heart it would not satisfy it! And as for your sight – if the eye of a needle were to be placed upon it, it would be darkened. And you desire (despite such insignificance) to know the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth! If you are truthful here is the sun, one of Allah’s creations; fill your eye with it, and then it will be as you say.
And vain disputation is prohibited concerning all matters of faith. The Prince of Believers, on whom be peace, has said: He who seeks after religion by disputation will become a heretic (zindiq)2.
And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq has said that the people who indulge in vain disputations (ashabu’l-kalam)3 will perish, and the Muslims will be saved. Verily the Muslims are noble (najib, plural Nujaba). Now as for controversy against opponents by means of the word of Allah and the Prophet and the Imams, or by means of the significance of their sayings, it is allowed without restriction to him who is well versed in theology (kalam). But is not permitted (mahzur) to him who is not well versed in it and totally forbidden (muharram).
And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq said: Controvert the people with my sayings, and if they overcome you by argument, it will be I who will be controverted, not you. It is related from him that he said: Speaking in (defense of) the truth is better than silence in respect of falsehood. And it is related that Abul Hudhayl al Allaf said to Hisham bin al-Hakam: I wish to have a controversy with you on the condition that if you overcome me, I shall adopt your faith; and if I overcome you, you must accept mine. Hisham said: you have not dealt justly with me. Nay, I will have a controversy with you on the condition that if I overcome you, you will accept my faith; but if you overcome me, I shall refer it to my Imam (for a proper answer).4
- 1.The Urdu translator explains (p.29), that what is prohibited is vain disputation, the only object of which is to silence the opponent, and not a sincere quest after truth,
- 2.See El, iv, 1228 (L. Massignon). Here it clearly means a heretic, one who strays from the right path.
- 3.Perhaps this is a hit against the mutakallimun.
- 4.This is not an important article of faith and it is surprising that so much space, consisting mainly of riwayat, should be devoted to it. Although rationalist discussion is discountenanced (MC, 54,112, 113), nothing like this is to be found either in Wensinck or BHA. For a fuller discussion see Tawhid, 370-376.
Concerning The Tablet (lawh) And The Pen (qalam)
Says the Shaykh: Our belief concerning the Tablet (lawh) and the Pen (qalam) is that they are two angels.1
- 1.The Urdu translator protests against this extraordinary proposition, and says as follows (D, 31): “Shaykh Muf1d says that to think that the lawh (tablet) and the qalam (pen) are two angels is contrary to the true belief, because it is clear from several traditions that the lawh is a book in which God has, in His power, written down all events that are to happen till the Day of Resurrection. Also
in the Qur’in we have: `And verily We have written in the Psalms (zabur), after the Reminder: My righteous slaves shall inherit the earth’ (cp. Psalms, xxxvii. 29) [21, 105] .
That is to say, `We have written after the reminder, on account of Our Power, that My righteous slaves shall inherit the earth’. In this verse by dhikr is meant the lawh. And qalam is the name of that thing by the instrumentality of which the events of the time and the happenings of the world are inscribed. When God intended to acquaint the angels with some secret of His, or to send revelations to one of the prophets, the angels were commanded to read the lawh. Shaykh Saduq himself, while describing the manner in which revelation was sent down, writes that there was a lawh in front of the two eyes of Israfil. When Allah desired to send a revelation, the lawh would be brought in contact with his forehead. Thus it is apparent that lawh is not the name of an angel, nor do we find in any dictionary that lawh and qalam are two angels”.
This is a very interesting refutation of the Shaykh’s doctrine by his disciple, Shaykh Mufid (for whom see Rawdatu ‘l-Jannat, 563). Unfortunately the original text of the Tashih on the point is not available to me. MB also mentions that such is the belief of Shaykh Saduq.
In Sunnite theology the meaning of lawh is quite different. It is of vast dimensions, of white pearl, and contains a record of everything from beginning to end (MC, 148). The Pen however was created before and has priority (ibid., 162). Two ideas emerge: (a) the Tablet as the original copy of the Revelation, and (b) as the record of the decisions of the Divine Will (El, iii. 19-20). According to Western Isma’ilis, qalam is the primal souce of the universe (FC, 21), and lawh is the most guarded Tablet (ibid., 86). The Isma’ilf influence can be seen in Ibnu’l-`Arabi. He uses qalam, lawh and `arsh for the Neo-Platonic First Intellect, Universal Soul and Universal Body, respectively (Affifi, 63, n. l; 67).
Regarding The Chair (Kursi)
Says the Shaykh: Our belief concerning the Chair (kursi) 1 is that it is the receptacle of all the creatures, including the Throne (arsh), the heavens, the earth and everything else created by Allah. Now kursi according to another interpretation is knowledge (ilm). Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was asked corning the saying of Allah, the Mighty and Glorious:
“His Chair (kursi) embraceth the heavens and the earth” (Qur’an 2:256).
He said: It (kursi) is His ilm (knowledge).2
- 1.For kursi, see Cl. Huart in EI, ii. 1156. Usually translated “throne” (Jeffery, 249); but “chair” (kursi) as distinguished from “throne” (`arsh) is probably better, MC, 147 -148.
- 2.Huart explains the difficulty experienced by the early authorities in explaining kursi as distinguished from `arsh (EI, ii. 1156).Kursi has also been explained as the “stool” of the throne (arsh). The allegorical interpretation, ‘ilm, is the same as found in the Tafsir of Tabari.
Allah’s sitting on the throne is a quality (MC, 93) and belief in the sitting is an article of faith (ibid., 127: Was. Abi Han. art. 8). But it is a difficult matter and must not be discussed (ibid., 266; Fiqh Akbar III, art. 12). A man who says that he does not know whether God’s Throne is in the Heavens or Earth is an infidel (MC, 116, Fiqh Akbar 1,. art. 9). The details of the Throne (‘arsh) and Chair (kursi) are very picturesque. The preserved Tablet is attached to the throne; the Throne is created from God’s Light; the Chair is attached to the Throne; “and all water is within the chair, and the water is one the back of the wind” (MC, 148). A tradition from Abu Dharr al-Ghifari says: The Apostle of Allah said: O Abu Dharr, the seven Heavens are, as compared with the Chair, like a ring thrown away in the desert. And the relation between the Throne and the Chair is as the relation between this desert and the ring (MC, 149).
Apparently BHA and FC do not even mention the Chair. The explanation in Kalami Pir are fascinating. Kursi is the Prophet, nabi (57) ; it refers also to the soul of men (92) ; the anthropomorphist are “like animals that look for the rind and chaff, and never get to the fruit and grain” (59). Cp. Tawhid, Bib 51, pp.265-266.
Concerning The Throne
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning the Throne (‘arsh) is that it is something which is carried or supported by the whole of creation.1 And ‘arsh according to another interpretation is knowledge (ilm). And as-Sadiq, on whom be peace, was asked (the meaning of) the saying of Allah, the Mighty and Glorious:
“The Beneficent One, Who it established on the Throne” (Qur’an 20:5).2
He said: He is equidistant3 from everything, and not a single thing is nearer to Him than another. Now that ‘arsh4, which is supported by the whole of creation,5 is borne by eight angels, each possessing eight eyes, each eye as large as the world.
One of the angels is of human shape and he asks Allah to provide daily bread for the sons of Adam. The second is of the shape of a bull, and he asks Allah to provide daily bread for all beasts. And the third is of the shape of a lion, and he asks Allah to provide daily bread for all beasts of prey. And the fourth is of the shape of a fowl, and he asks Allah to provide sustenance for all birds.
Today there exist four angels, but when the Day of Resurrection comes, they will become eight in number.
The ‘arsh which means knowledge is borne by four amongst the ancients and four amongst the later ones; the former ones are Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, on all of whom be peace; and the later are Muhammad, ‘Ali, Hasan, and Husayn, the blessings of Allah upon them. This is what has been handed down from the Imams by a reliable chain of authorities concerning the Throne and its bearers.
Now the reason why these persons became the bearers of the ‘arsh, that is the knowledge (of Allah), is that the ancient prophets, who lived prior to our Prophet Muhammad, namely, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, brought four different faiths. It was through these that the true knowledge passed to them (i.e. Muhammad, Ali, etc.). Similarly the true knowledge was transmitted after Muhammad, by ‘Ali, Hasan and Husayn to those amongst the Imams who came after Husayn.6
- 1.Reading with N العرش إنَّهُ حَمَلَة جميع الخلق D omits حملة
- 2.This passage (Qur. 20,4) is explained in Tawhid, 258. Cf. ‘Ali’s philosophical explanation to the Christian, p.259. “He who asserts that God is part of (min) a thing, or in (fi) a thing, or above (‘ala) a thing, he verily has associated (some one with Allah)”, 260. Allah’s eminence is allegorical, 261, line 2; these expressions have no reference to bodily existence, ibid., lines 6-7. The next section, bib 48, p.261, explains Qur. 11, 7, “and His Throne was upon the water”. Water was created prior to the heavens and earth. The arsh is described in bib 49, p. 263. Kursi is the outward gate, الباب الظاهر and arsh, the inward gate, الباب الباطن the arsh was the fourth of created things, the first three being
(1) Atmosphere (al-hawa’), (2) the Pen (al-qalam), and (3) the Light (an-nur).
- 3.The Imam takes the literal meaning of istawa, that is, to be or make oneself equal to, or in respect of, something. The relationship of Allan to each one of His creatures is equal, that of the Creator to the created.
- 4.Here the translator has an interesting note. He says “Shaykh Mufid, on whom be peace, writes that the literal meaning of ‘arsh is sovereignty (سلطنة) and kingdom (ملك) and that ‘arsh which is carried by angels is in the seventh heaven, and that is only a portion of the ‘arsh which means `kingdom’. This much belief concerning ‘arsh is sufficient and the tradition, by which Sh. Saduq has described the qualities and the appearance of the angels carrying the arsh, is one which has come down through a single source (حديث آحاد). Therefore to believe in the qualities of the angels, to believe in the tradition as having been handed down from the Imams and to believe that the angels who carry the ‘arsh have the appearance as described in the hadith, all this is not necessary. What is certain is that which we have related. The translator, Badayuni “.
- 5.Here there is a variation in the texts: N العرش الذي حمله جميع الخلق; D العرش الذي جملة جميع الخلق. If jumlatu be adopted as the correct reading -and there are good grounds to do so -the meaning would be “that ‘arsh which is the sum and substance of creation . . .
- 6.The meaning of arsh as knowledge was ascribed to it only in order to bring in the prophets and Imams, who were considered to be the torch-bearers of the light of knowledge – a beautiful simile, deriving its origin from the remote past, and dear to the heart of the artistic Persian.
For arsh, see MB, 355. In Sunnite theology, the ‘arsh may be a seat of light or a red hyacinth (MC, 148), and “Allah created the preserved tablet from a white pearl, which is ,seven times longer than the distance between Heaven and earth, and attached it to the Throne”. Also “Allah created the Throne from His Light, and the chair is attached to the throne, and all water is within the chair, and the water is on the back of the wind” (loc. cit.). “Round the throne are four rivers, and four angels stand over these rivers. The throne has tongues equal in number to the tongues of all creatures and all these praise God” “The Heavens are, as compared with the throne, like a lamp hanging between heaven and earth” (loc. cit.). It is therefore obvious that the ‘arsh is something far more wonderful than the kursi.
According to Ibnu’l-`Arabi, arsh is the Universal Body (Affifi, 63,n.1), or the Muhammadan Logos (ibid., 66, n. l, no. 5). The body of the Perfect Man is constituted of the arsh (p.82). This is clearly under Ismi’ili influence, cf. creation of `arsh, Kalami Pir, 39; anthropomorphism is foolish, 59; `arsh refers to the soul of man, 92.
Concerning Souls (nufus) And Spirits (arwah )
Says the Shaykh, may the mercy of Allah be on him: Our belief regarding souls (nafs, plural nufus) is that they are the spirits (ruh, plural arwah1) by which life (hayat) is maintained, and they were the first of created things. This follows from the saying of the Prophet, the blessings of Allah be upon him: The first things which Allah created out of nothing (abda’a)2 were the blessed and pure souls (al-muqaddasa, al-mutahhara) and compelled them to affirm His unity.3 Thereafter He created (the rest of creation).
And concerning the souls, we believe that they were created for eternal existence (baqa’), and not for extinction (fana’). For the Prophet has said: You were not created for extinction, but for eternal existence4 and you will only be transferred from one abode to another. Verily the souls are strangers in the earth and imprisoned in the bodies. And our belief concerning them is that after their separation from the bodies, they survive, some of them in happiness, others in torment, until Allah, in His power, causes them to return to their bodies.
(Once upon a time) Jesus, the son of Mary, said to his disciples: I tell you, forsooth, nothing rises up to heaven except what has come down from it. And Allah, glorious be His praise, says:
“And had We willed We would have raised him by their means (that is, by signs), but he clung to the earth and followed his own lust” (Qur’an 7:176).
Therefore that soul among them which is not raised to the Divine Kingdom remains forever hurled down in the burning fire (hawiya).5 And this is because both in Paradise and in Hell, there are stages (darajat and darakat)6. And the Mighty and Glorious says:
“The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him” (Qur’an 70:4).
And He says:
“Lo! the righteous will dwell among gardens and rivers, firmly established in the favor of a Mighty King” (Qur’an 54:54-55).
And He says:
“Think not of those who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay, they are living. With their Lord they provision. Jubilant (are they)……” (Qur’an 3:169-l70).
And He says:
“And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah dead” (Qur’an 2:154).
And the Prophet said: The souls are like a collection of armed forces (junudun mujannadatun)7; those among them that are well acquainted with one another are united; while those who are not, are disunited. And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq has said8: Verily, Allah has inculcated fraternity between souls in the World of Shadows two thousand years prior to the creation of bodies.
If our Steadfast Ones (qa’imuna), the People of the House, had been present (at that time), verily the brother who had fraternized in the World of Shadows9 would have inherited in preference to the real brother.
And as-Sadiq has said: Verily the souls meet one another in the ethereal world (al-hawa’) and make inquiries10 – about one another. When a soul from the earth approaches them, the souls (in the ethereal world) say: Leave it! for it has come from an awful place. Then they ask it: What did so and so do? Whenever the returned soul said, “He is alive”, they hoped to meet him. And whenever the returned soul said that he had died, they said: He has perished, he has perished! And He, Who is Exalted above all, says:
“And he on whom my wrath cometh is lost indeed” (Qur’an 20:81).
And He says:
“As for him whose balances are light, his mother is hawiya! And knowest thou what that is? A raging fire!”11 (Qur’an 101:8-11).
The story of the world and its inhabitants is the story of the ocean, the sailor and the ship. Luqman said to his son: O my little one, verily the world is a deep sea, in which many people have perished.12 So make faith (iman) in Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, your ship in it; and the fear of Allah, your provision; and trust in Allah, your sail. And if you are saved, it will be by the mercy of Allah; and if you perish, it will be by your own sins, not because of Allah.
The most trying moments for the sons of Adam are three: the day of birth, the day of death and the day of resurrection. And Allah has greeted the Prophet Yahya (John) with peace in these moments and said:
“Peace on him the day he was born, and the day he dieth, and the day he shall be raised alive!” (Qur’an 19:15).
And Jesus has greeted himself on these occasions and said:
“Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (Qur’an 19:33).
And the belief concerning the spirit is that it is not a kind of body, but is a different creation, on account of His word:
“And then (We) produced it as another creation” (Qur’an 23:14).13
And our belief concerning the prophets (anbiya’), the apostles (rusul) and the Imams is that there were five spirits within them:  the Holy Spirit (ruhu’l-qudus), the spirit of faith (-iman ), the spirit of strength (-quwwa), the spirit of appetite (-shahwa) and the spirit of motion (-mudraj).14 True believers (mu’minin) possess four spirits: the spirit of faith (iman), of strength (quwwa), of appetite (shahwa), and of motion ( mudraj). The unbelievers and beasts possess three spirits: the spirits of strength, appetite and motion. And as for His saying, Exalted is He above all:
“They will ask thee concerning the Spirit (ruh). Say: the Spirit is an affair of my Lord” (Qur’an 17:85).
For verily it is a creation greater than Gabriel and Michael.”15 It always accompanies the Messenger of Allah and the angels and the Imams, and it belongs to the celestial world (malakut). I shall compose a work concerning this subject, in which I shall fully comment on the significance of these propositions.16
- 1.On nafs and ruh see the full discussion by E. J. Calverley in EI, iii. 827-830; MB, ruh, 184-187; nafs, 349-351; Tahinawi, Dic. of Tech. Terms, ruh,i. 540-547; nafs, ii. 1396-1403. Nafs is rendered soul, and ruh, spirit, by all modern authors. Affifi (index) ; Ivanow in FC, nafs, 11,61; ruh (aniyya), 50. But frequently the terms are interchangeable, see Ivanow, Kalami Pir,p. xlviii, etc., and also the use of the two terms by al-Qummi in the opening para. of this section (ch. 14).
Although it is difficult to lay down a hard and fast rule, it is probably correct to say generally that soul (nafs) represents “the animal life” in the human organism, while spirit (ruh) represents the “rational principle” (Affifi, 120). For a contrary view, see Calverley in EI, iii. 828 (top). It appears therefore that three views are prevalent: (a) that nafs and ruh are synonymous, (b) that nafs represents the living, conscious principle, and ruh, the intelligent and rational principle of life, and (c) vice versa.
Nafs may be of five kinds; (1) ammara (acting evilly) ; (2) lawwama (the blaming one) ; (3) mutma’inna (peaceful) ; (4) radiya (satisfied); (5) mardiya (giving satisfaction), also called mulhima (MB, 350, mid.). On the five kinds of ruh, see below, note 126, p.131.
- 2.إبداع is strictly creation out of nothing, creation ex nihilo (MC, 210 et seq.), whereas خلق appears to be akin to shaping, fashioning. The creation of matter out of nothing is ibda `; the shaping of matter, created though shapeless, is khalq. The word khalq however is also used for creatio ex nihilo, El, ii. 829, s.v. khalk. For the usual Shiitic view, see MB, بدع and خلق. Among the Western Ismd’ilis the distinction between ibda` and khalq is very carefully preserved, FC, 11, 30 (no. 19), 32, etc.
- 3.Reading with N فأنطقها; D err. فانطلقها.
- 4.On the indestructibility of the soul the Urdu translator has a very interesting note. He say: “Shaykh Mufid says that this is an isolated hadith (ahad) [for such traditions see Abdur Rahim, Muhammadan Jurisprudence,7 3 (top); Taftazani, Ta1wih (Cairo, 1327 A.H.), 3 sqq.;Mu’a1imu ‘d-din fil-Usul (Tehran, 1312 A.H.),183; Aghnides, Muhammadan Theories of Finance, Introduction, p.44, (2) and (3) ] ; it is not proved that it is an authentic report. It is not correct to believe that souls are not destructible, because in the Qur’an we have: `Every one that is thereon (the earth) will pass away; there remaineth but the countenance of thy Lord of Might and Glory’ [55,26-271. Therefore souls (nufus) will also perish. To believe in the perpetual existence of the soul is to accept the view of the Greek philosophers. It is possible that the tradition refers to the perpetual existence of those sanctified spirits whom Allah created first, and it is possible to support this by various traditions”. MB has a very full discussion of ruh and nafs.
- 5.Hawiya is a word giving rise to much philological discussion. Jeffery,285-286; Ajabnama (A volume of Studies presented to E. G. Browne, Cambridge, 1922), 464 – 471.
- 6.Daraja is one stage higher than another (in Heaven) ; and daraka is one stage lower than another (in Hell).
- 7.MB, 2117-8 explains the expression mujannada as majmu `a. The author also gives a long account of how the ranks of the angels are formed and mobilized.
- 8.Here the translator says that the present hadith, together with the one that precedes and the one that follows, is handed down from a single authority (ahad), and need not be accepted.
- 9.N err. الأضلة D corr. الأظلة so also Tehran ed. MB, s.v. ظلّ, 502 (seventh line from bot.), explaining this hadith says: و كان المراد بالأظلة عالم المجردات فإنها أشياء لا كالاشياء فليست بأشياء كما في الظل إلخ.
- 10.N err. تساهل D تسائل
- 11.See note 117 above.
- 12.Reading with D قد هلك فيه عالم كثير; N قد هلك عالم كثير.
- 13.This is explained in the Majma `u ‘l-Bayan, as the process of endowing the lifeless body with life (Urdu translator).
- 14.The Urdu translator explains: The Holy Spirit (qudus) is a soul whereby the prophets and apostles know the realities of things. They do not need to think, nor to experience. The spirit of faith (ruhu’1- iman) is one with which a man worships God, and avoids both polytheism and atheism. The spirit of strength (ruhu’l-quwwa) is one whereby every living being tries to gain his livelihood, and repels the attacks of enemies. The spirit of passion (ruhu’sh-shahwa) leads one to desire food and drink, and makes the male seek the female and vice versa. The spirit of motion (ruhu’l-mudraj) is that whereby every living being moves and acts. This is the spirit which cares for the body; and when it lessens, leads to physical weakness, and its extinction means death.
MB, 185 (4th line from bot.) has 5 kinds of ruh: (1) ruhu’lqudus, (2) -Iman, (3) -quwwa, (4) -shahwa, (5) -badan. The last is also called – mudraj. The prophets possess all five; true believers, the last four; and the Christians and Jews, the last three, Further explanation is given s.v. the Dict. of Tech. Terms, i. 540-548, ruh is of three kinds: (1) hayawani, (2) nafsani, and (3) tabi’i The relation between body, soul and spirit is explained as follows:
أجمع الجمهور على أن الروح معنى يحيي به الجسد و في الأصل الصغار ان النفس جسم كثيف و الروح فيه جسم لطيف و العقل فيه جوهر نوراني (i. 5421-2)-
According to the Mishkatu’1-Anwar of al-Ghazali (ibid., 543), we have the following nomenclature: (1) ruhu’l-hassas, (2) -khayali,(3) -`aqli, (4) -dhikri (fikri), and -qudusi (or -nabawi). Browne, iv. 389.
- 15.The Urdu translator says (p.38, note) that ruh is an enormous angel and gives a graphic description of it.
- 16.The Sunnite creeds studied by Wensinck apparently do not give such graphic descriptions of the soul and spirit. The traditions however do record a few details, Wensinck, Handbook of Early Muhammadan Traditions, s.v. “soul”, 219. Neither in the Tawhid, nor in BHA is there any reference to these questions; but as to nafsi ammara, see BHA, p.97, note a to no. 139.
On Ibnu’l-`Arabi’s notion of the soul generally, see Affifi, 120 sqq. and on spirit, 1-22. The spirit, according to Ibnu’l-Arabi, is “a simple substance, different from the dark and complex material substance”; “This substance is the chief of all the three souls and the prince (amir) of all the powers which serve it and obey its commands” (loc. cit.). According to him the spirit (ruh) is “the rational principle, the sole purpose of which is to seek knowledge”; while the soul (nafs) is “the animal life in the human organism” (p.120). This is generally the accepted view; per contra Taju’l-Arus, cited in EI, iii. 828 (top), where nafs’is applied to the mind, and ruh to life.
Concerning Death (mawt )
Says the Shaykh: The Prince of Believers, ‘Ali, on whom be peace, was asked: Describe death to us. He said: You have, indeed, accidentally come to one who is well informed! It (death) brings to the person dying one of three things – either tidings of perpetual bliss, or of everlasting misery, or fear and dread, or an uncertainty (amrun mubhamun), if he (the dying person) does not know to which section he belongs.
Now as for our friend and the follower of our command, he will be the recipient of the good tidings of perpetual bliss; and as for our enemy and one who opposed our claim, he will be given tidings of eternal misery: but one whose affair is doubtful, that is one who does not know his own mind, he is a believer who is prodigal regarding his own affairs (al-mu’amin al-musrif ‘ala nafsihi), not knowing what his condition will be.
Good comes to him after doubt and dread. Then Allah will never mingle him with our enemies, but will take him out of the Fire by our intercession. So act (righteously) and obey (Allah) and do not rely solely upon yourselves,1 and do not belittle the punishment of Allah. For verily, he, who does not obtain our intercession except after 300,000 years of Allah’s chastisement, is to be counted amongst the wasteful (musrifin)2
Imam Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib was asked: What is this death, concerning which people are ignorant? He said: It is the greatest joy which comes upon the believers when they go from this house of affliction to eternal bliss. And it is the greatest tribulation which comes upon the infidels when they go from their paradise (the earth) to a Fire which abates not, nor is it extinguished.
When Imam Husayn bin Ali bin Abi Talib was hard pressed,3 those who were with him looked at him, and behold! He was totally different from them. Because when in great difficulty their color changed and they trembled with fear,4 and their hearts were filled with trepidation, and their sides began to throb, Imam Husayn and some of his particular companions had bright faces, restful limbs5 and complete peace of mind.
Then some of them said to others: Look at him, he does not care for death. Then Husayn said to them: Patience, O scions of nobility! For what is death, but a bridge by which you cross over from misfortune and harm to spacious gardens and eternal favors?
Now which of you would dislike to proceed from a prison to a palace? And as for these, your enemies, they are like people who go from a palace to a prison and to a painful torment. Verily, concerning this my father (Ali) related to me from my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah: Forsooth the world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever, and death is the bridge for the former to their gardens, and for the latter, to their hell-fire. And he did not lie nor do I.
Imam ‘Ali (Zaynu’l ‘Abidin) bin al-Husayn was asked: What is death? He said: For the believer it is like taking off clothes which are dirty and lousy; or breaking heavy shackles and fetters, and changing into the most gorgeous and perfumed of apparel, and (riding on) well-trained mounts, and (alighting in) familiar resting-places.
And for the unbeliever, it is the pulling off of gorgeous apparel and changing into the most filthy and coarse clothing ; and the transportation from familiar places to the wildest resting-places and the greatest torment.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir was asked: What is death? He said: It is the sleep which comes to you every night, except that it is of long duration. The sleeper does not awake from it except on the day of Resurrection. Some see in their sleep certain kinds of joy the worth whereof cannot be estimated; others, certain kinds of terrors, which are beyond the pale of estimation. How then can his condition (be described) who may be happy or fearful in death? This then is death, so be prepared for it.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was asked: Describe death to us. He said: To the believer it is like the most perfumed breeze, which he inhales and then doses off on account of the perfume, and his weariness and pain disappear from him.
To the unbeliever it is like the biting of vipers and the stinging of scorpions; nay, it is even more painful.6 He was then told: There are some people who say that it is more painful than being sawed (with a saw), or being cut by scissors, or being crushed (to death) by stones, or the circular motion by the pivots of hand-mills in the pupils of the eye.
He, on whom be peace, said: such is the travail of death on some of the unbelievers and sinners. Do you not see that among them are those who have witnessed such calamities? Now that death is more painful than this and is more painful than all the worldly torments.7
He was asked: Why is it that we see (occasionally) an unbeliever, who at the moment of death is not in pain and who dies8 while he is relating (stories) or laughing or talking; and the same is the case with some believers. Again both among the believers and unbelievers there are some who endure hardships during the pangs of death. He said: Whatever happiness the believer enjoys is part of his early reward; and whatever pain he suffers is the forgiveness of his sins.
So that he may arrive in the next world in a state of cleanliness, purity and spotlessness, fit for the reward of Allah. And without there being anything to keep him from it. And whatever of ease is to be found in the case of some unbeliever is the compensation for his good actions in this world, so that when he arrives in the next world, there remains naught to him save that which brings torment on him.
And whatever of distress comes upon an unbeliever there (at the moment of death) is the commencement of the punishment of Allah, inasmuch as (the reward) of his good actions is at an end. That is because Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, is just and does not act wrongfully.
Imam Musa bin Ja’far al-Kazim visited a person while he was perspiring during the pangs of death and unable to answer anyone who called him. (Seeing this the persons round about) said: O son of the Messenger of Allah, we wish to know what the condition of our friend is and what death is.
He said: Verily death is a purifier, it purifies the believers from sins; and it is the last pain which afflicts them,9 and the atonement of the last sin (or burden) upon them; whereas death separates the unbelievers from their good actions, and is the last delight or favor or comfort which reaches them. It is the last reward in respect of their good acts.
As for your companion, he is completely purged from sins,10 and completely purified from crimes. He is cleansed so that he is pure – pure as a garment purified of its filth – and is made fit to associate with us, the People of the House, in our house, the Abode of Eternity.
One of the companions of the Imam ‘Ali ar-Rida, on whom be peace, fell ill. Imam ar-Rida went to visit him and said to him:
How do you find yourself? He said: I met death after you (left me),11 meaning the severity of the pain which befell him. The Imam said: how did you find it?12 He said: (It was) a severe pain. The Imam said: You did not meet death, but what befell you was something to warn and acquaint you with some of its aspects. Verily, mankind may be divided into two classes: those who find rest in death (mustarih bi’l-mawt), and those who give rest (to others) by it (mustarh bi’l-mawt).13
So renew your faith in Allah, in the Prophethood (of Muhammad) and in the walaya (of the Imams) and you will be among those who find rest in it (death). The man acted accordingly – and this story is long and we have taken from it what was necessary.
Imam Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Musa ar-Rida was asked: What is the matter with these Muslims that they dislike death? He said: They are ignorant of it and therefore they dislike it. If they possessed knowledge of it and were true friends (awliya’) of Allah, they would love it,14 and would surely know that the other world is better for them than this.
Then he (the Imam) said: O slave of God Why does a child or a mad man refuse to take the medicine which cleanses his body and removes his pain? The questioner said: Because they are ignorant of the benefits of the medicine.
He (Imam ar-Rida) said: I swear by Him Who sent Muhammad as a prophet of truth, may the peace and blessings of Allah be on him, verily as for those who prepare themselves for death as they really should, death will be more beneficial to them for curing themselves than this medicine.
Lo! if only they knew what blessings death would bring them, they would call out for it and desire it even more than the wise and resolute man (hazim) desires his medicine for the removal of his calamities and the recovery of his well-being.
Imam Ali bin Muhammad (bin Ali bin Musa ar-Rida) once visited one of his companions who was weeping and wailing for fear of death. Thereupon he, peace be on him, said: O slave of Allah, you fear death because you do not possess any knowledge about it. What say you?
When you find your clothes filthy and loathsome15 and you suffer from excess of filth and dirt, and are full of wounds and scabs, and you know that a bath in a public bath (hammam) will remove all these from you, would you not wish to enter it and bathe so that all that filth may disappear?
And would you not like to enter it and bathe so that the wounds and scabs should disappear from you? The man said: Yes, O son of the Messenger of Allah. The Imam said: This death is the hammam and it is the last portion of what remains against you of the forgiveness of your sins and your purification from your evil actions.
For when you will enter upon it (death) and cross over it you will be saved from all grief and anxiety and injury and you will have attained complete joy and gladness. Then the man became quiet and cheerful and resigned himself, and closed his eyes and went on his way.
And Imam Hasan bin ‘Ali16 was asked concerning death and he said: It is the verification of things that have not yet happened. My father has reported a tradition to me concerning it. He (my father) related from his father (who related in turn) from his grandfather, (who related in turn) from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, that he said: Verily the true believer, when he dies, dies not in fact; it is the unbeliever who really dies, for Allah the Mighty and Glorious says:
“Thou bringest the living out of the dead and Thou bringest the dead out of the living” (Qur’an 3:27, 6:95, 10:31, 30:19);
That is, the true believer from the unbeliever and the unbeliever from the true believer. And he (Imam Ja’far) said: There came a man to the Prophet and said, “I do not know what has happened to me that I do not like death”. The Prophet said: Have you any property? The man replied, “Yes”. The Prophet said: Have you ever made offerings in charity? He said: “No”. The Prophet said: It is on this account that you dislike death.
And he (Imam Ja’far) said: A man went to Abu Dharr (al-Ghifari) and asked: Why is it that we dislike death? He said: Because you have built for this a world and ruined (your prospects for) the next, and men dislike to shift from a settled habitation to a ruin.
And he (Abu Dharr) was asked: What do you think of our return to Allah, Who is Exalted above all? He said: As for the virtuous, he will be like one who being absent returns to his own people. And as for the wicked, he will be like a runaway slave returning to his master in fear and dread. He was asked: What think you of our plight before Allah? He said: Judge of your actions in terms of the Book of Allah17 when it says:
“Surely amid delights shall the righteous dwell, and verily the impure in Hell-fire” (Qur’an 82:13-14).
Said a man: Then where is the mercy of Allah?
“Verily the mercy of Allah is nigh unto the righteous” (Qur’an 7:56).18
- 1.Reading with D لا تتكلوا على انفسكم N omits على انفسكم.
- 2.N فإنَّ من المسرفين من لا تلحقه شفاعتنا إلخ; D فإنَّ منكم لا تلحقه شفاعتنا إلخ.
- 3.This refers to the field of Kerbela on the 10th of Muharram, when the battle was raging fiercely.
- 4.D err. قرائصهم for فرائصهم.
- 5.Reading with D تهدىء جوارحهم; N err. تهوى جوارحهم “limbs outstretched”?
- 6.MB, 15621 .
- 7.D فذالك الذي هو أشد من عذاب الدنيا; N فذلكم الذي هو أشد من هذا و هو أشد من عذاب الدنيا.
- 8.Reading فينطفيء
- 9.N آخر الم يصيبهم; D آخر الم مليبهم
- 10.Lit. “sifted with a sifting “..
- 11.In English one would say “I had almost died after you left me”.
- 12.D فقال ع كيف لقيته، قال الماً شديداً، فقال ع له ما لقيته و لكن لقيت ما ينذرك و يعرفك الخ; N فقال ع كيف لقيته، فقال ع له ما لقيته، و لكن لقيت ما ينذرك و يعرفك الخ.
- 13.That is, the Evil-doers, whom death makes innocuous. The Urdu translator translates this phrase as follows: “Men are of two kinds; one is he, who by death, obtains ease; and the other is he, who by his death, gives rest to others”. Cp. MB, 1874 14 sqq.
و في حديث: ابن آدم مستريح و مستراح منه، قيل الواو بمعنى أو، يعني ابن آدم إمّا مستريح و هو المؤمن من يستريح من تعب الدنيا إلى رحمة الله، أو مستراح منه و هو الفاجر يستريح منه البلاد إلخ.
- 14.Reading with D and T لا حَبُوه ; N لا جنوه.
- 15.Reading with N and T إذا أَتَّسَخَتْ (viii of وسخ); D إذا اْنسَلَخَت.
- 16.D adds al-`Askari.
- 17.Lit. “Present your actions to the Book of Allah”.
- 18.On mawt see MB, 156. Detailed description of death are generally not to be found in other creeds.
Concerning The Questioning In The Grave
Says the Shaykh, may the mercy of Allah be upon him: Our belief concerning the questioning in the grave is that it is true and that there is no escape from it. He who answers in the proper manner will obtain rest and perfume in his grave, and the Garden of delight in the life to come.
And he who does not answer in the proper manner, for him (there will be) the
“feast of boiling water” (Qur’an 56:931)
In his grave, and the roasting in hellfire in the next world. Most of the torment of the grave takes place on account of backbiting and rudeness and making light of (the impurity of) urine.
The severest form of torment that is inflicted in the grave on the rightful believer is like the (involuntary) trepidation of the eyelid or scarification.2 These torments are in expiation of sins for which his anxieties and grief and diseases and the excess of pain at the moment of death did not atone.
Verily the Messenger of Allah, on whom be His blessings and peace, shrouded Fatima bint Asad, mother of the Prince of believers (‘Ali bin Abi Talib), in his own shirt after the women had finished bathing her and carried her bier on his own shoulders.3
He continued to carry the bier until it was brought to her grave. The Prophet then lay himself down in it, and rising, he took her in his arms and laid her in the grave. Thereafter he stooped over her whispering for a long time and saying to her: Thy son thy son. He then came out (of the grave) and leveled the earth over her.
Then he stooped over her grave and people heard him say: There is no deity other than Allah. O God, verily I commend her to thee. Then he returned and the believers said: O Messenger of Allah, verily we saw you doing something which you have never done before. He said: Today I have lost the grace of Abu Talib.
For, in respect of aught that she possessed Fatima used to prefer me both to herself and her children. One day I spoke to her of the Day of Resurrection, and how the people will rise naked, and she said: Woe to my (naked) body!
And I assured her that Allah would resurrect her fully clothed. And I spoke to her of the straitness of the grave and she said: Woe to my distress!4 And I assured her that Allah the Exalted would protect her from it. Wherefore did I shroud her in my own shirt and reclined in her grave, and stooped over her and instructed her regarding the matters about which she would be questioned.
She was asked about her Lord, and she said: My Lord is Allah. And she was asked about her Prophet and she replied: Muhammad. And she was asked about her Imam and wali (guardian), and she faltered and paused.
And I said to her: Thy son, thy son. So she said: My Imam is my son. Thereupon they (the two angels) departed from her, and said: We have no power over you. Sleep, even as a bride sleeps in her inner apartment. Then she died a second death and the verification of this is in the Book of Allah:
“They say: Our Lord! Twice hast thou made us die, and twice hast thou made us live. Now we confess our sins. Is there any way to go out?” (Qur’an 40:11).5
- 1.N, D, and T have نزولٌ من حميم meaning “desent”. But نُزُلٌ as in Qur. 56, 93 is the correct reading.
- 2.Refers to the practice of making slight incisions for drawing blood which are not very painful.
- 3.For a similar tradition in Qadi Nu’man’s Da’a ‘imu’l-Islam,see Fyzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, no. 29.
- 4.N وا ضغطاه; D وا ضعفاه.
- 5.The translator explains that the belief in two deaths, one in this world, and another in the grave, is well established. See also MB, S.V. موت. The questioning in the grave by the two angels Munkar and Nakir is well established in Sunnite creeds: MC, 129, art. 18 and 19; 163 -167; 195, art. 23; 268; art. 27. For the philosophical Isma’ili explanation, see FC, nos. 93,94.
Concerning Resurrection (Raj’a)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning resurrection (Raj’a)1 is that it is a fact. Verily Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, has said in His Mighty Book:
“Bethink thou (O Muhammad) of those of old, who went forth from their habitations in their thousands,2 fearing death, and Allah said unto them: Die, and then He brought them back to life” (Qur’an 2:243).
These people were the residents of 70,000 houses, and they were visited by the plague each year. The rich, on account of their opulence, used to go out; while the poor would remain on account of their poverty. So the plague used to attack lightly those that went; while it raged severely among those that remained.
Now those that remained would say: If only we had departed, surely the plague would not have come upon us. And those that went would say: Had we stayed, it would have attacked us, even as it has attacked them. So they all agreed to depart from their houses collectively when the time of the plague was nigh. Then they all went out and camped on the banks (of a river).3
And when they had put down their belongings, Allah cried to them: Die, and they perished, one and all. And the passers-by swept them off from the road, and they remained in that condition as long as Allah willed. One of the prophets of Israel named Jeremiah passed by them. He said: If Thou willest, O my Lord, Thou couldst revivify, them so that they may inhabit Thy cities,4 and beget Thy slaves, and worship Thee with those who worship Thee.
And Allah through a revelation asked him: Do you wish that for your sake I should bring them back to life ? The Prophet said: Yes, O my Lord. So Allah revivified them for his sake and sent them with him.
Now these people died and returned to the world and (again) they died at their appointed time. Allah says:
“Or (bethink thee of) the like of him (the Prophet Ezra) who, by passing a township which had fallen in utter ruin,5 exclaimed, How shall Allah give life to this city, after it has been dead? And Allah caused him to die (for the space of) a hundred years, and then brought him back to life. Allah said: How long hast thou tarried? He (the man) said I have tarried a day or a part of a day. He said: Nay, but thou hast tarried for a hundred years. Just look at thy food and drink, they have not rotted! And look at thine ass! so that we may make thee a token unto mankind: and look at thy bones, how We adjust them and then cover them with flesh! And when (the matter) became clear unto him, he said: I know now that Allah hath power to do all things.” (Qur’an 2:259).
And so their prophet remained dead for a hundred years, then he returned to the world and remained therein, and then died at his appointed term. He was Ezra, but it is also related that he was Jeremiah.
And Allah, Exalted is He, in the story of those that were selected among the Bani Isra’il of the community of Moses for the appointed term of his Lord says:
“Then We raised you up after your death that you may give thanks.” (Qur’an 2:56).
And that was because when they heard the word of Allah, they said: We shall not believe in its truth until we see Allah clearly. So, on account of their wrongdoing the thunderbolt fell upon them and they perished. Moses, said O my Lord, what shall I say to the Bani Isra’il when I return to them? Then Allah revived them and they returned to the world; they ate and drank and married women and begat children, and lived in the world and died at their appointed times.
And Allah said unto Jesus, son of Mary: (Remember the time) when you caused the dead to live6 by My command, and all the dead who were revived by Jesus by the command of Allah returned to the world and lived therein so long as they lived, and then they died at their appointed times.
And as for the Companions of the Cave (ashabul-kahf),
“they tarried in their Cave three hundred years and nine years over” (Qur’an 18:25).
Then Allah revived them and they returned to the world in order that they might question one another; and their story is well known.7 And if a questioner were to ask : Verily Allah, Exalted is He, says:
“And thou wouldst have deemed them waking though They were asleep” (Qur’an 18:18).
(Then, how can there be resurrection of those that slumber?) To him it may be answered: Verily they were dead; for Allah the Mighty and Glorious has said: “Woe upon us! Who hath raised us from our place of sleep? This is that which the Beneficent did promise, and the messengers spoke truth” (Qur’an 36:52).
And if they (the unbelievers) say: That is so (that is, if the unbelievers say that this refers to the resurrection of the dead); (then we say) verily the Companions of the Cave were also dead. There are many examples of this kind. Thus it is established that resurrection did take place among the peoples of the past. For the Prophet, on whom be peace, has said: There will occur among these people (the like of) what has occurred among previous peoples, even as one horseshoe resembles another, or as one arrow feather follows another.8 Wherefore, according to this premise, it is necessary to believe that resurrection (raj’a) will take place in this community as well.
Our opponents (the Sunnites) have related that when the Mahdi, on whom be peace, will appear, Jesus, son of Mary, on whom be peace, will descend upon the earth and pray behind the Mahdi. Now the descent of Jesus to the earth is his return to the world after death, because Allah the Glorious and Mighty says:
“Verily I will cause thee to die, and will take thee up to myself” (Qur’an 3:55).
And Allah the Mighty and Glorious says:
“And We gather them together so as to leave not one of them behind” (Qur’an 18:47).
And He says:
“And (remind them of) the Day when We shall gather out of every nation a host of those who denied Our signs” (Qur’an 27:83).
Hence the day on which the multitude will be gathered together will be other than the day on which shall be gathered together the host.
And Allah the Glorious and Mighty says:
“And they swear by Allah their most binding oaths (that) Allah will not raise up him who dieth. Nay, but it is a promise (bind ing) upon Him in truth, but most of mankind know it not” (Qur’an 16:40).
The reference here is to raj`a.9 And that is because thereafter He says:
“In order to make manifest to those that differ concerning it” (Qur’an 27:83)
And this “making manifest” is to be found in this world, not in the next.10 And I shall write, if Allah wills, a book exclusively on the topic of raj `a, in which I shall explain its real nature and the proofs regarding the authenticity of its occurrence.11 And the profession (of belief in) transmigration of souls is false, and he who believes in it is an unbeliever, because transmigration involves the denial of the Garden and the Fire.12
- 1.Cp. Wasfyat Abi Hanifa, art. 23, cited in MC, 130 and discussed at p.178. Affifi, 166, gives a philosophical explanation; BHA, no. 219 et seq.; FC, nos. 93, 94.
- 2.The reference is to the Exodus.
- 3.N على شط; D على شط بحر.
- 4.Here N adds و يلدوا عبادك و يعبدونك مع من يعبدك إلخ.
- 5.Lit. “it was falling on its roofs”.
- 6.N تحيي الموتى; D citing Qur. 5, 110 تخرج الموتى بإذني.
- 7.The Urdu translator citing the Tafsir Majma’ul-Bayan says that their eyes were open and they were breathing regularly. Therefore they were not dead, and this verse cannot strictly speaking be cited in proof of the doctrine or raj`a.
- 8.This expression occurs in the Sunnite and Shiite hadith, and also in the Isma’ili history `Uyunu’l-Akbar of Sayyidna `Imadu ‘d-Din Idris b. Hasan, died 872/1468. See JRAS for 1934, p.21,
note 1, MB, s.v. !.j has the following: في الحديث عن النبي ص: يكون في هذه الامة كل ما كان في بني اسرائيل حذو النعل بالنعل و القدَة بالقدَة.
- 9.160. The Urdu translator says: It is related that a polytheist owed a debt to a Muslim, and in spite of repeated demands it remained unpaid. The Muslim said: I shall recover the debt after your death. The polytheist said: You are wrong. I swear by Allah that He will not revive any one after death. It was for falsifying him that this verse was revealed ( Majma `u ‘l-Bayan) .
- 10.161.N و التبيين يكون في الدنيا إلخ. D omits the word و التبيين.
- 11.162. The Urdu translator says that belief in raj’a is an essential part of the creed of the Shi`ites, and he who denies it is not of the Shi`a.
- 12.163. Transmigration is generally not accepted by Muslims, MB, 204; BHA, no. 89 (p.31) speaks of hulul; MC, 92. It is however sometimes asserted that a form of transmigration is accepted by Isma’ili, Affifi 90 (citing Shahrastani); El, iv. 648. It is not easy to say how far this is correct; it may be that while authoritative works always rejected this doctrine, some popular beliefs lend colour to thiscommon fallacy.
In Kalami Pir, xlix, n.2, W. Ivanow explains that tanasukh is rejected by Isma’ilis. So also FC, no. 93, which he considers as an answer to opponents. Probably the doctrine of Imamate has been misunderstood as a doctrine of transmigration or reincarnation. It is also possible that popular beliefs, unwarranted by authority, may have tended towards this view. The Western Isma’ilis entirely reject both tanasukh and hulul. Various passages from Ikhwanu’s- Safa’, Tanbihu’l-Hadi, Aqwalu dh-Dhahabiya, Masabih, and Risalatu’n- Nafs of Sayyid-na Dhu’ayb and of Sayyidna al-Khattab could be cited in refutation of both these doctrines. For details of these works, see W. Ivanow, Guide to Ismaili Literature, London, 1933.
Concerning Return (Ba’th) After Death
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far, may the mercy of Allah be upon him: Our belief concerning the return to life after death is that it is true.
The Prophet said: O sons of ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib, verily the scout does not lie to his own people. I swear by Him Who sent me as a Prophet of truth, that you will surely die even as you sleep. And you will be resurrected even as you awaken, and after death there is no abode except Heaven or Hell. The creation of the whole of mankind and their resurrection is, for Allah the Mighty and Glorious, like the creation of but one soul. This is in accord with His Word, Exalted is He:
“Your creation and your raising (from the dead) are only as (the creation and the raising of) a single soul” (Qur’an 31:28).
Concerning The Pond (al-Hawd)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far, the mercy of Allah be upon him: Our belief concerning the Pond (al-Hawd) is that it is true. Its width is the distance between Ayla2 and San’a’, and it belongs to the Prophet, on whom be peace. And verily in it there are as many pitchers as star in the sky. And verily on the day of resurrection the giver of drink out of it will be the Prince of Believers, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, on whom be peace.
He will give his friends water to drink and drive away his enemies. He who drinks of it once will never thirst again. And the Prophet said: A group of persons among my followers will be dragged before me, when I shall be at the pond (of Kawthar), and be taken towards the left side (i.e. hell). Then shall I raise the cry: My companions, my companions, O my Lord! And I shall be told: You do not know what they did after you.
- 1.Hawd is rendered as “basin” by Wensinck, Handbook of Early Muh. Tradition, 33 -34. Cp. MC, 195 (art. 21), 231 sqq., 258, 268, 274.
- 2.Among Sunnites, Ayla (S. Syria) and Aden, MC, 232.
Concerning Intersession (ash-shafa’a)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far, the mercy of Allah on him: We believe that shafa’a1 (here, the state of being forgiven) belongs to him whose religion is approved (by Allah), whether he be of those who have committed great sins or small sins (kaba’ir, sagha’ir)2. As for those persons who have repented of their evil deeds, they are not in need of intercession. Says the Prophet: May Allah not grant my intercession to him who does not believe in my (power of) intercession. And he (the Prophet) said: No mediator (shafi’) is more successful than repentance (tawba)3.
(The right of) intercession belongs to prophets (anbiya’) and awsiya’4. And among believers (mu’minln) also there are some who can intercede on behalf of people equal in number to the tribes of Rabi’a and Mudar.5 Even the least of believers will be liable to intercede on behalf of 30,000.6
There can be no forgiveness for skeptics (ahlu’sh-shakk) and polytheists (ahlu’sh-shirk); nor for unbelievers (ahlu’l-kufr) and those who are persistent in their denial (ahlu’l-juhud). But the sinful amongst those who believe in the unity of Allah (ahlu’t-tawhid7) may be forgiven.
- 1.الشفاعة is not merely “intercession” but also “passing over without punishment”, or forgiving sins, etc. (Lane). MB makes no distinction between شفاعة and غفران. Wensinck discusses intercession very fully, MC, 61. Rejected by the Mu’tazilites, it was generally accepted by the canonical tradition. Intercession appears to be against the doctrine of justice and retribution, and even the Qur’an in some passages is not favourable to the idea, ibid., 181, 183. Compare also Fiqh Akbar II, art. 20, MC, 194. The Wahhabis do not reject intercession altogether; they merely limit its operation, MC, 183. According to Ibnu’l-`Arabi there is no real shafi’a; the term implies merely a relation between two Divine Names, the Merciful and the Avenger, Affifi, 165. BHA, nos. 234, 235. FC, no. 29. Among Isma’ili intercession cannot be had except through the walaya of the Imam, KP, trans. 30, Fayzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, 70,71,72.
- 2.On these two terms see BHA, no. 226 and note on p.100.
- 3.MB, 398; MC, 194 (art. 20), 169 and 180sqq.; BHA, nos.237-238.
- 4.In Sunnite traditions the privilege of intercession belongs also to angels, martyrs and saints, MC, 182. Ithna `Asharites generally restrict it to prophets and Imams, BHA, nos. 234, 235.
- 5.These were big tribes and are selected to indicate the large number of persons on whose behalf effective intercession will take place by the instrumentality of a single individual.
- 6.In the Sunnite tradition, 70,000, Wensinck, Handbook, 112.
- 7.In the Wasiyat Abi Hanifa, art. 25, even mortal sins may be forgiven, MC, 130, 182, 268.
Concerning The Promise (al-wa`d) And The Threat (al-wa’id)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning the Promise (al-wa’d) and the Threat (al-wa’id) 1 is that he whom Allah promises a reward for his good actions will certainly receive it. But he whom Allah has threatened with a punishment may have an alternative. If He punishes him, it is His justice; but if He forgives, it is His generosity.2
“And thy Lord is not unjust towards His slaves” (Qur’an 41:46).
And He says, Mighty and Glorious is He:
“Lo! Allah forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. And He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will” (Qur’an 4:116).
And Allah knows best.
- 1.In the Tawhid there is a whole chapter on the subject, pp. 3257 to 3306. Imam ar-Rida refutes the arguments of the Mu’taziliti that grave sins will not be forgiven by Allah, 3267-8. Even adulterers, thieves and wine-drinkers will be saved, provided they are not guilty of shirk, 329 (last three lines). Cp. also FC, no. 84.
- 2.Compare Fiqh Akbar II, art. 14, MC, 193, fully discussed at p.221, MC, 267, art. 25; BHA, no. 233.
Concerning What is Written Against The Slave
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far, the mercy of Allah be on him: Our belief concerning this is that there is not a single human being (lit. “slave”) 1 without having two angels specially deputed to record every one of his actions.
Whoso intends a good act, a good act is written down to his credit; and if he acts according to his intention, ten meritorious acts are set down to his credit. But if he intends a bad deed, nothing is written down against him, until he acts. When he does act, he is given seven hours.
If (within that period) he repents, his repentance will be accepted and nothing will be written against him; and if he does not, one single bad deed will be written down against him.
These angels record every act of the individual, even the act of blowing upon ashes;2 and Allah the Mighty and Glorious says
“Lo! There are above you guardians, generous and recording, who know (all) that ye do” (Qur’an 82:10-12).3
The Prince of Believers (‘Ali bin Abi Talib) once upon a time passed by a man, who was talking at random.4 And he (‘Ali) said: O man, you are dictating to your angel a letter to Allah, so speak what concerns you and omit that which does not concern you.
‘Ali, on whom be peace, said: A Muslim so long as he remains silent is recorded as doing a good act; but when he speaks, he is written down either as righteous or as unrighteous.
And the two angels reside amongst the sons of Adam in their collarbones. And verily the angel on the right side records the good acts, while he on the left records the bad ones. The two angels of the day write down the acts of men done during the day; while the two angels of the night record the acts of men done during the night.5
- 1.MC, 129, art. 17. Also Macdonald in El, iii. 190 citing Qur.82, 10- 12.
- 2.An idiomatic expression which generally means “striving uselessly “.
- 3.MC, 199. The Urdu translator adds a footnote that from this verse it is clear that men are responsible for their actions and have free will. It is not as if God is the Creator of good and bad acts, for if that were so, human responsibility would be at an end, nor would the actions be attributed to human beings and they would not be punished for their evil deeds. Thus it is clear that actions proceed from human beings and not from God.
- 4.N بفضول الكلام; D بفنون الكلام.
- 5.The expressions ملكا النهار and ملكا الليل lead to the certainty that there are two sets of angels, one pair for day, the other for night.
Concerning Justice (al-‘adl)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Verily Allah, Who is Blessed and Exalted above all others, has commanded us to be just, while He Himself treats us with something even better, namely, grace (tafaddul2). And that is because He, the Glorious and Mighty says:
“Whoso bringeth a good deed will receive tenfold the like thereof; while whoso bringeth an evil deed will be awarded the like thereof; and they shall not be wronged” (Qur’an 6:160).
Justice (al-`adl) means that He requites3 a good act with a good act and an evil act with an evil act. The Prophet said: No man ever enters Paradise by virtue of his (good) actions (alone), except by the mercy of Allah the Glorious and Mighty.
- 1.On God’s Justice see MC, 60-63 (Fiqh Akbar II, art. 22), 195, 234; BHA, has a very long and elaborate section on Allah’s Justice, arts. 1 I 1 -151 , but this contains good and evil, free will and predestination, taklif, etc. But see principally, nos. 149 — 151. The Shiites lay great stress on `adl; not so the Sunnites. See BHA, 95, note to no.111;Shahrastani,29;Macdonald,Development, 136; the only reference in Taw. is on p.61. FC, no. 84.
- 2.Compare BHA, no. 151.
- 3.Reading with D يثيب N. err. يثبت
Concerning Purgatory (al-A’raf)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning al-A’raf 1 (Purgatory) is that it is a wall between Paradise and Hell, and upon it there will be
“men who will recognize all (persons) by their peculiar marks” (Qur’an 7:46).
These men will be the Prophet and his awsiya’2. No one will be able to enter the Garden except he who recognizes them and him whom they recognize. And no one will enter the Fire except he who denies them (their rights), and him whom they (the Prophet & Imams) deny (as not belonging to their party).
- 1.Apparently derived from the Ethiopic, Jeffrey, 65. MB, 431 ;MC, 173. A’raf is used in a metaphorical sense in the Da’aaim; it refers to the Imams under whose guidance the souls of men undergo purification after death, FC, p.9.
- 2.These awsiya’ are the 12 Imams of the Ithna `Ashariya.
Concerning The Bridge (as-Sirat)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning the Bridge (as-sirat) 1 is that it is true, and that it is the bridge over Hell. It is the place from which the whole of mankind will pass. Allah the Mighty and Glorious says:
“There is not one of you but shall go down unto it. That is a fixed ordinance of thy Lord” (Qur’an 19:71).
According to another view, as-sirat means the name of the Imams (literally, proofs)2 of Allah. And to him who knows them and obeys them in this world, Allah will grant permission (to traverse) the path, which is the bridge over Hell, on the Day of Resurrection-the Day of Regret and Contrition. And the Prophet said to Ali: O ‘Ali, on the Day of Resurrection, I shall sit near the Bridge with you and Gabriel, and no one will cross the Bridge unless he can produce a writ (of absolution)3 by reason of devotion ( walaya) to you.
- 1.Lit. “path”, but here “bridge”. Fully explained in MC, 232-233. It is a thin ridge over Hell; the wicked will fall, but the righteous will escape. Macdonald, 296 (Ash’ari). It is “sharper than a sword and finer than a hair”, loc. cit., 306 (al-Ghazali), 311 (Nasafi), 349 (Fudali); BHA, no.224; KP, 107. According to Ibnu’l-`Arabi, “the sirat is the straight path of the Divine Essence on which everything `walks’ because it is the source whence all things come and whither all things return,” Affifi, 164-165.
- 2.For hujja in the sense of Imam, see FC, 8 and this is clearly explained in art. 38. The Imam is the Proof of Allah on earth, KP, 22 and at numerous other places. For a full discussion, MB,
- 3.MC, 168 mentions this note of credit.
Passes On the Road to Mahshar
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning this is that verily these mountain-passes (‘aqabat) have each a specific name; some are called fard, (compulsory duty) others, amr (command); yet others, nahy (prohibition).2 So when a man will reach a mountain-pass called fard, and he had neglected it (in his life), he will be stopped there and the dues of Allah will be demanded of him.
Now if he goes out of it by means of some good act performed by him in the world, or by the mercy of Allah reaching him, then he escapes from it and goes on to another ‘aqaba. He will not cease to be sent from one ‘aqaba to another, and be stopped and questioned regarding his shortcomings in respect of each stage.
If he escapes safely from all the stages, he arrives at the Abode of Permanence (daru’l-baqa’). Here he comes upon life everlasting, and perpetual beatitude, without any affliction whatever. He will reside in the neighborhood of Allah, with the Prophets, and His Proofs (Imams), the veracious ones, the martyrs and the righteous ones from among His slaves.
And if he is stopped at a pass, and is questioned about a certain due in respect of which he is found wanting, and neither a good action on his own part, nor the mercy of Allah reaches him, his step will stumble and he will be hurled down in the fire of Hell, may Allah protect us from it.
All these passes are on the Bridge (as-Sirat). The name of one of them is al-walaya (love of Imams). All mankind will be stopped before it and questioned as regards their love for the Prince of Believers, ‘Ali, and for the Imams who followed him.
He who will have a proper answer will be saved and will be permitted (to cross the Bridge safely). And he who is unable will tarry and be hurled down (in the fires of Hell). And (the proof) of this is the saying of Allah, the Mighty and Glorious:
“And stop them for they must be questioned” (Qur’an 37:24).
And the name of another pass is Mirsad (watch) and that is on account of the saying of Allah, the Mighty and Glorious:
“Lo! Thy Lord is ever watchful” (Qur’an 89:14).3
Allah, the Mighty and Glorious,4 says: I swear by My Honor and Glory, the wrongdoing of a wrongdoer is not permissible to me.5
One of the passes is called ar-Rahm (kindness); another, al-Amana (trust); another, as-Salat (prayer). There is a special ‘aqaba named after each (act which is) fard (compulsory), or amr (command), or nahy (prohibition); and before each one of these the individual will be detained and questioned.6
- 1.`aqabah, pl. `aqabaat, is explained by Lane (p.2102) as generally “a mountain-road, difficult of access”. The word “pass” has been used as being simpler. It here means the difficulties or obstacles which men will have to encounter stage by stage before the actual entry into Paradise or Hell.
The Urdu translator explains on the authority of Shaykh Mufid that by ‘aqabatul mahshar are meant the obligatory acts regarding which questioning will take place on the Day of Resurrection. In reality ‘agabat do not mean hills, nor does it appear from any tradition that these are hills or mountains over which men will have to ascend, some with ease, others with difficulty. God has compared obligatory acts (a’mal wajiba) with `aqabat, and the reason for this is that just as men find it difficult to ascend mountains, so is it difficult to perform the obligatory acts. The translator explains, on the authority of MB, that the correct belief is that on the Day of Resurrection, every obligatory act will be accounted for; people will be stopped for the purpose of being questioned regarding obligatory acts at short distance. If any one is found without shortcomings in this respect, he will be freed from the difficulties of the Bridge (Urdu, pl. sirat); but he who had abandoned the obligatory acts will be subjected to difficulties. And then, unless God forgives him, or the intercession of a mediator avails him, he will be thrown headlong into Hell.
- 2.Compare BHA, no. 113.
- 3.In D the verses of the Qur’an are transposed. The Urdu translator, apparently following MB, relates on the authority of Imam Ja’far as -Sadiq that one of the mountain-paths of the Sirat is named Mirsad; which lit. means “a place where one lies in wait for, or watches, an enemy” (Lane).
- 4.This is not a Qur’anic verse, but apparently a tradition, as the Urdu translator explains.
- 5.Reading with D يجوز لي; N يجوز بي. The Urdu translator reading Ia yajuzu bi renders this as follows: “The wrong of no wrongdoer will escape Me, that is, escape My punishment”. Both reading are possible. But the latter, read with mirsad, is perhaps even more appropriate.
- 6.Compare MC, 163 – 164 for a different account of the interrogation in the grave.
Concerning The Reckoning (al-hisab) And The Scales (al-mawazin)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning the reckoning (al-hisab) is that it is real. Some of it will be undertaken by Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, and some by His Proofs (the Imams). The reckoning of Prophets and Imams, on whom be peace, will be undertaken by Allah the Glorious and Mighty; while every Prophet will be entrusted with the reckoning of his wasi (vicegerent, representative).
And the vicegerents (awsiya’) will take the reckoning of the whole of their communities. Allah, who is Blessed and Exalted above all, will be witness for the prophets (anbiya’) and apostles (rusul); and these (prophets and apostles) will be witnesses for the vicegerents (awsiya’).
And the Imams will be witnesses for the people, and this is borne out by His saying:
“But how (will it be with them) when We bring of every people a witness, and We bring thee (O Muhammad) as a witness against these?” (Qur’an 4:41).
And Allah says:
“Is he (to be counted equal with him) who relieth on a clear proof from his Lord, and a witness from Him reciteth it…..” (Qur’an 11:17).2
And the witness (here referred to) is the Prince of Believers, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib. And He says, Exalted is He:
“Lo! Unto Us is their return, and Ours their reckoning” (Qur’an 88:25-26).
And Imam Ja’far was asked concerning the saying of Allah, Exalted is He:
“And We shall set a just balance for the Day of Resurrection so that no soul shall be wronged in aught” (Qur’an 21:47).3
He said the scales (or balance) are the Prophets and their vicegerents (awsiya’). Among men there will be some who will enter Paradise without a reckoning; but everyone will be questioned according to the saying of Allah:
“Then verily We shall question those unto whom (Our message) hath been sent, and verily We shall question the messengers” (Qur’an 7:6).
That is, concerning religion. And as for sins, no one will be questioned about them except he whose reckoning4 is being taken. Says Allah:
“On that day neither man nor jinni will be questioned” (Qur’an 55:39).
That is, especially those who are the partisans (Shi’a) of the Prophet and the Imams, and not of the others,5 as has been handed down in the commentaries of the Qur’an. And every one whose reckoning is taken shall be punished, although it be that the punishment amounts to no more than a slight detention.
And no one shall escape the Fire, and no one shall enter the Garden (merely) by virtue of his actions, except by the mercy of Allah, Exalted is He above all.6 And verily Allah will address His slaves, whether they be the earlier or the later ones, in one speech containing the complete reckoning of the deeds of every person.
And each person shall hear only that part of it which relates to himself, so that he shall imagine that he alone is being addressed and no one else. And Allah, Exalted is He, will not be diverted from addressing one person because He is addressing another. And He will be quit of His reckoning of the prior and later ones (i.e. all mankind) in the space of half an hour (sa’a), according to the computation of the hours of this world.
And Allah will confront each person with a book which will be found to be wide open, informing him of all his actions, omitting neither a minor nor a major sin.7 In this fashion will Allah constitute each person his own reckoner and judge, for he will be told:
“Read thy book. Thy soul sufficeth as a reckoner against thee this day” (Qur’an 17:14).
Allah will put a seal upon the mouths of certain people, and their hands and feet and all their limbs will testify to things which they are hiding.
“And they say unto their skins: why testify ye against us? They say: Allah, Who giveth speech to all things, hath given speech to us, and it is He Who created you at the first and it is He unto Whom ye shall return. Ye did not hide yourselves lest your ears and your eyes and your skins should testify against you, but ye deemed that Allah knew not much of what ye did” (Qur’an 41:21-22).
- 1.The best general account will be found in MC, 167-179 (art.21 of the Was. Abi Hanffa), also art. 21 of the Fiqh Akbar II, ibid., 195 and 231 sqq.; Macdonald, 306 (al-Ghazali) and other places; BHA, art. 244; KP, 110; Affifi, 163 sqq.
- 2.The translation of this verse presents some difficulty. Pickthall, Palmer, Rodwell, Bell and Muhammad `Ali render يتلو as “recites”; while the Urdu translator takes to mean “follows”, and this appears to deserve careful consideration. Dr. Daudpota has kindly sent me the following illuminating note, which I gratefully offer to the critical student:
Baydawi takes e in يتلوه to refer to بيته, in the sense of برهان but this is evidently wrong, unless one takes “the whole sense of the preceding words” as denoted by ه . probably ه refers to مَنْ i.e., the Prophet and شاهد من الله شاهد منه that is, the Qur’an. The Shi’itic interpretation, of course, should follow the trend of the Urdu translator’s thought, namely ه in منه refers to the Prophet, مِنْ being the من of تبعيض; and شاهد منه- a witness who is part of him, refers to `Ali.
- 3.MC, 167.
- 4.7. According to al-Ghazali two classes are exempt from reckoning, the infidels and the sinless; Baydawi mentions a third class, the sufferers, MC, 171.
- 5.The Urdu translator, citing the Majma`ul-Bayan, relates on the authority of Imam `Ali ar-Rida, that he once told his companions that on the Day of Resurrection, the true believers (Shi’a) will not be questioned, because the sinful ones among them will be sufficiently punished during barzakh (the period between death and resurrection), so that when they rise, they will not be answerable for any sin.
- 6.Salvation therefore depends entirely upon grace.
- 7.MC, 172 sqq. Those who receive the book in the right hand will be treated with lenity; those who receive it in the left, with severity; and those who receive it behind their backs are the infidels and they will go to Hell, ibid., 173 (citing the Ahwalu ‘l-Qiyama).
Concerning The Garden (al-janna) And The Fire (an-nar)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning Paradise is that it is a permanent abode (daru’l-baqa’)3 and an abode of safety. There is in it neither death, nor old age, nor disease, nor calamity, nor decline, nor palsy, nor care, nor sorrow, nor need, nor poverty. It is an abode of plenty, of happiness, of quiet and of nobility. Affliction shall not touch its inmates, nor weariness.
In it there will be things for which the souls of men yearn and which give delight to their eyes, and they shall reside therein forever. It is an abode the inmates whereof are the neighbors of Allah, and His friends (awliya’) and loved ones and the recipients of His generosity. And they are of different kinds and ranks. Among them will be some who like angels4 will receive their favors by sanctifying and glorifying Allah and declaring His greatness.
And there will be others who will find pleasure in different kinds of food and drink and fruit and comfortable couches,5 and fair women with beautiful, big, black eyes,6 and in being served by young pages endowed with perpetual youth, and in sitting on cushions and rich carpets and in dresses of silk brocade. All of them will be able to enjoy what they like and desire, in accordance with their own aspirations, which shall be granted to them by Allah.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq has said: Verily mankind worship Allah in three different ways. One group among them worships Him out of desire for His Paradise and in the hope of His reward – and this is the worship of servants. Another group worships Him for fear of His Fire – and this is the worship of slaves. Yet another group worships Him out of love for Him – and this is the worship of the noble ones; these, indeed, arc the trusted ones (amin, plural umana’)7. And this (follows from) the saying of Allah the Glorious and Mighty:
“And such are safe from that day” (Qur’an 27:89).
And our belief concerning Hell is that it is a place of degradation or that of revenge on unbelievers and sinners. None but the polytheists will reside therein permanently. As for those monotheists (ahlu’t-tawhid) who are sinners, they will be taken out of it by the mercy of Allah and the intercession which they obtain.8
It is related that no pain shall afflict a single one among the monotheists in Hell when they enter it: but they will only be afflicted with pain at the time of their exit from it; and these ills will be the requital of their own actions, and Allah is not
“unjust towards the slaves” (Qur’an 41:46).
And the residents of Hell will be miserable indeed: it is not decreed for them that they shall die, nor shall the torment of Hell abate for them.
“Therein taste they neither coolness nor (any) drink, save boiling water and pus (ghassaq): reward proportioned (to their evil deeds)”9 (Qur’an 78:24-26).
If they ask for food, they will be fed on zaqqum.10
“And if they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like unto molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place!” (Qur’an 18:29).
And from a distant place shall they cry out and say:
“O our Lord, remove us from here. If we return (to evil) then indeed we shall be wrong-doers” (Qur’an 23:107).
For a time no reply shall be given to them; then they will be told:
“Go ye away unto it, and speak not (unto Me)” (Qur’an 23:108). “And they cry: O Master11, let thy Lord make an end of us. He saith: Here must ye remain” (Qur’an 43:77).
It is related according to authentic sources that Allah will command certain persons to be put into Hell, and then he will tell the Master (malik): Order the Fire not to burn their feet for they used to walk towards mosques; nor their hands, for they used to raise them towards Me in supplication; nor their tongues, for they used frequently to recite the Qur’an; nor their faces, for they used to perform the ablutions completely, without deficiency.
And the Master (of Hell) will say: O you miserable ones, what used to be your plight? And they will reply: We used to act (according to the commands) of beings other than Allah. Then they will be told: Take your reward from him for whom you acted.
And our belief concerning Heaven and Hell is that they are both created things.12 Verily the Prophet entered Paradise, and saw the Fire, at the time of his ascension. We believe that no one goes forth from this world, until he sees his own place, either in Heaven or in Hell.13
And verily no true believer (mu’min) goes forth from this world without being shown the best place that he has seen in this world, and he sees also his place in the next world. Then he is asked to choose between the two, and he chooses the next world (al-akhira as dis. from ad-dunya), and at this moment he dies.
In common parlance (when someone dies) people say: So and so has made a gift of his spirit. Now no one gives away anything, save by his own free will, unless he is compelled or constrained.14
As regards the Garden (janna) of Adam, it was one of the gardens of this world, in which the sun rose and set; it was by no means the Garden of Eternity (jannatu’l-khuld). If it were the Eternal Paradise he would never have gone forth from it.15
We believe that the people of Paradise reside therein eternally as a reward (for their good actions); and the inhabitants of Hell remain there forever as a punishment (for their sins).16 Not a single person enters Paradise except that he is shown his place in Hell and told: This was your place.
Had you disobeyed Allah, you would surely have been in it. And no one enters Hell-fire, but is previously shown his place in Paradise and told: This was your place, if only you had obeyed Allah, you would surely have been in it. And these (the righteous ones) inherit (the houses in Paradise) in the place of those (i.e. the unrighteous ones and the unbelievers).
And this is in accordance with the saying of Allah:
“These are the heirs who will inherit Paradise. There they will abide (Qur’an 23:10-11).
And the least of believers in point of rank in Paradise shall have ten times of what he had in this world.
- 1.For the word janna, see Jeffery, 103. Paradise, according to Was. Abi Hanifa, art. 20 (MC, 129), is a reality; it is created and everlasting; its inhabitants will not vanish (art. 27). See also MC,166. Orthodox Muslim theology knows only of a heavenly Paradise, while some like the Hishimites, Dirirites, Jahmites and a section of Qadarites believed in a worldly Paradise, ibid., 166. Some persons will enter Paradise even without interrogation, ibid., 177. The delights of Paradise are graphically described in the Qur’an as well as in the creeds; for example, the black-eyed ones (hur), free from impurity, untouched by man or jinn, etc., ibid., 234. Later creeds like Fiqh Akbar II, art. 25, assert that after a period of punishment every believer, provided he has not committed a grave sin, will be admitted to Paradise, ibid., 268. Cf. also Wensinck, Handbook, 180, s.v. Paradise; and Dianna, EI, I. 1014. It is not correct, according to the late Prof. A. A. Bevan, to think that Paradise was a purely sensual concept, Nicholson, Lit. History of the Arabs, 168 citing “The Beliefs of early Mohammedans respecting a Future Existence” (Journal of Theological Studies, Oct. 1904, p.20 sqq.). BHA, nos. 226 -236; FC, 7, 15, and arts. 81 – 85; KP, 71, 96, graphically described 105 sqq. It is a common belief that Hasan b. Sabbih made an earthly Paradise for Assassins; W. Ivanow however explains this as a misunderstanding of the declaration of qiyamatu’l-qiyama by al-Qihir bi-ahkimi’l-lih Hasan in Alamut on 17 Ram. 559 = 8 Aug. 1164 (El, Sup., S.V. Ismi`iliya, p.99 sqq.). Ibnu’l-`Arabi’s notions are derived entirely from subjectives states, Affifi, 166; and his Heaven is gnosis coupled with belief, ibid., 168.
- 2.The word jahannam is explained by Jeffery, 105 – 106. The Mu’tazilites taught that those who entered Hell never came out of it, MC, 62; but generally speaking intercession will take place, 184. According to Jahm, like Paradise, it will disappear, 121, but this is specifically denied. Hell is created but everlasting, 129, 165, 185, 195, 212, 273. This again is opposed to the view of at-Tahawi that both Heaven and Hell are everlasting, 165 (n.5) . Infidels will remain there everlastingly, 129, 131 (arts. 20 and 27), but believers will be saved by intercession, 130 (art. 25), 184, especially 274. On general aspects, see Djahannam, El, i. 998. Macdonald, 306; BHA, nos. 230 – 236. Among the Eastern Esmi’ilis, not knowing the Imam leads to Hell, KP, 48, 61, and Hell is the state of a man who drives men away from God, ibid., 92 (see also duzakh in the index); described 108. For Ibnu’l-`Arabi’s ideas, Affifi, 164 sqq. Hell is ignorance, 168; this is derived from Ikhwanus’-Safa’, where it is laid down that Heaven and Hell are happiness and unhappiness of the soul respectively, 187.
- 3.MC, 129, 130 (art. 27), 165, 185, 195, 211, 268. This is the usual view, as opposed to that of Jahm that Paradise and Hell will vanish, ibd„ 121.
- 4.This belief is severely criticized by the Urdu translator. Instead of following the Shaykh in his somewhat idealistic creed, the translator on the authority of Shaykh Mufid says as follows: Shaykh Mufid states that it is incorrect to hold the belief that some, like angels, will find bliss in the worship and glorification of Allah. First, it is contrary to the Qur’in. Allah says: “Itsfood is everlasting” [13,35]. And He says: “And We shall wed them unto fair ones, with lovely, wide eyes” [44, 54; 52, 201. And He says: “Lo! those who merit Paradise thi, day are happily employed, -they and their wives,- in pleasant shade, on thrones reclining” [36,55-56]. And He says: “. . . There for them are pure spouses” [2, 25 ] . In spite of these weighty proofs, how could the Shaykh as-Sadiaq formulate such an article of faith?
Secondly, this article is contrary to that which is held by consensus among the Shl’a. In reality this is the belief of the Christians, and such a blief is contrary to certain Qur’inic verses. The real reason for the fury of the learned translator, following Shaykh Mufid, appears from the last sentence.
Wensinck has fully discussed the position of angels, MC, 198 sqq., and he points out that `Ali al-Qari, on the authority of Jawahiru l-Usul, asserts that angels have no share in the delights of Paradise or in the visio beatifica, ibid., 200. In Isma’ili thought the angels are Platonic ideas, or abstractions of natural phenomena, FC, 68n., citing arts. 23 and 85 of the Taju’l-Aqa’id. Hence no question would arise whether they can share the delights of Paradise. In fact a perusal of Taju’l-Aqa’id, arts. 81-85, shows the entirely spiritual quality of reward and retribution in Isma’ilism; although belief in Paradise and Hell is a necessary article of faith, Fyzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, 71 -74.
- 5.For anrika, pl. ara’ik, see Jeffery, 52.
- 6.MC, 234.
- 7.This may be compared with the famous answer of Rabi’a al-Basri to Sufyan ath-Thawri, M. Smith, Rabi`a the Mystic (Cambridge, 1928), 102.
- 8.This is the usual view, but compare p.142, note 216. MC,184. BHA, no. 231 declares how after the sinners have washed their faces with the Spring of Life, their faces will appear like full moon. Regarding intercession, see ibid., no. 234.
- 9.غَسَّاق or غَسَاق has been variously rendered as “running sores” (Rodwell), “pus” (Palmer) and “a paralysing cold” (Pickthall). Lane gives the following meanings: (1) the ichar, or watery matter, that will flow and drip from the skins of the inmates of Hell, (2) or their washings, (3) or tears. Also (4) intense cold, that by reason of its intensity, burns like a hot wind, and (5) stinking. Lane, s. v. غسق Pt. vi. 2258. Jeffery shows that it is an Arabic and not a Turkish word, p.29.
- 10.This fruit is referred to in the Qur’an three times, 37, 62; 44, 43; 56, 52. MB explains that zaqqum is a fruit of bad taste and foul smell. The Qur’an describes it graphicall in 37, 63-64. Its tree is in the lowest stage of Hell, El, s.v. Djahannam.
- 11.This refers to the custodian of Hell.
- 12.MC, 129 (art. 20) and other places. Contra at-Tahawi, ibid.,166, n.5.
- 13.This probably is an echo of the view of tradition that the faithful also shall have to enter Hell, MC, 233.
- 14.طيبة نفس here means “freely, of his own accord”.
- 15.This is a very important belief, Cp. MC, 166 (lines 4 – 5) .
- 16.The translator here adds a footnote, on the authority of Sh. Mufid, that although some will remain permanently in Hell, still there will be others, who will, after a time, be saved by the intercession of the Sinless Ones (Imams), and enter and thereafter reside eternally in Heaven. But the unbelievers, as is to be expected, will forever remain in Hell. Cp. p. 80, n. 1 . Reminiscent of the
Mu’tazilite doctrine, MC, 62, BHA, no.232.
The Manner Of Descent Of Revelation (nuzulu’l-wahy)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning this is that there is a tablet between the two eyes of Israfil. Whenever Allah wishes to speak by way of revelation, the Tablet comes in contact with the forehead of Israfil, then he looks into it and reads what is in it.2Israfil would then convey it to Mika’il and he in turn would convey it to Gabriel, and the angel Gabriel, would convey it to the prophets, on whom be peace.
And as for the fainting fit which would come upon the Prophet, it used to take place at the time of Allah’s addressing him by reason whereof he would also feel a heaviness and perspire. But Gabriel, on account of respect for the Prophet, would never enter his presence until he sought permission, and he used to sit before him (the Prophet) in the manner of a slave.
- 1.The best general account is by Wensinck, EI, iv. 1091 -1093; see also Macdonald, 335. For details Wensinck, Handbook, s.v. Qur’in, 129. BHA, nos. 152, 153, 168. In the Tawhid, Ibn Babawayhi relates a tradition that the Qur’in is uncreated, p.177, 1. 6. KP, 35, and esp. 69 (where wahy and ilham are distinguished), and 85. al-Fudali gives an account of the revelation, but does not
mention Israfil, Macdonald, 335. Ibnu’l-`Arabi holds that Gabriel was the creation of the Prophet’s imagination: it was really his own self, Affifi, 118 – 119. The Western Isma’ilis hold that wahy is what the soul (nafs) of the Prophet receives through his intellect (` aql ) by the will (amr) of the Creator, FC, no. 25, also nos. 26-29.
- 2.Here the Urdu translator adds a footnote that according to Sh.Mufid this is not a correct article of faith. The account of Revelation given by al-Qummi is based on rare traditions and the learned among the Shi’a are not agreed upon it; therefore no reliance can be placed upon it. The belief which is sufficient is that Revelation came to the Prophet in two distinct ways. Sometimes Allah would Himself teach the Revelation to the Prophet, in which case the Prophet used to faint. And sometimes Revelation would be brought to him by Gabriel.
Revelation Of The Qur’an In The Night Of Power
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning this is that the Qur’an was sent down in one lot, in the month of Ramadan, on the Night of Power (laylatu’l-qadr) 1 (first) to al-Baytu’l-Ma’mur.2 And then it was revealed in the space of twenty3 years from the Baytu’l-Maqmur (to the Prophet).4
And verily Allah the Glorious and Mighty bestowed knowledge in its totality on His Prophet, on whom be the blessings of Allah and His peace, and then said to him: “…And hasten not (O Muhammad) with the Qur’an ere its revelation hath been perfected unto thee, and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” (Qur’an 20:114).
And He said:
“Stir not thy tongue herewith to hasten it. Lo! Upon Us (resteth) the putting together thereof and the reading thereof. So when We read it, follow thou it’s reading. Then lo! Upon Us (resteth) the explanation thereof.” (Qur’an 75:16-19).
- 1.Macdonald, 335 (al-Fudali) ; Wensinck, Handbook, s.v. Night of the Decree, 176. Fully discussed, MB, 309 and reasons given why so called.
- 2.This is the edifice in Heaven (in the third, or the fourth, or the fifth, or the seventh Heaven) which 70,000 angels visit every day. It is exactly above the Ka’ba (Lane). It is related from `Ali b. lbrahim that this edifice was erected by Allah for the purpose of repentance for the inhabitants of the heavens, just as the Ka’ba is for the inhabitants of this world, MB, 309. Cp. Baytu’l-`Izza, Macdonald, 335.
- 3.MB, 23 years.
- 4.The Urdu translator says that Shaykh Mufid does not accept this belief as correct. It is based on a single tradition, of an uncertain character. And as certain verses of the Qur’an refer to events which were recent at the time, it is clear that the whole of the Qur’an could not have been revealed at one time at the Baytu’1-Ma’mur. In reality, it was revealed piecemeal as necessity arose.
The Urdu translator, sitting in judgement between the two views, says: Everything contained in the Qur’in was known to God from the beginning (that is, He possessed detailed knowledge of coming events). And then on the happening of particular events, the appropriate verses of the Qur’an, already in existence, were revealed from time to time.
The Belief Concerning The Qur’an
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief Concerning the Qur’an1 is that it is the Word (kalam2) of Allah, and His revelation, sent down by Him, His speech and His Book. And
“Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it. A revelation from the Wise, the Praiseworthy” (Qur’an 41:42).
And “Lo! This verily is the true narrative” (Qur’an 3:62).
“And Verily this (Qur’an) is a conclusive word; it is no pleasantry” (Qur’an 86:13-14).
Verily, Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He above all, is its Creator3 and Revealer and Master and Protector and Utterer.
- 1.General discussion on the Qur’an, Allah’s speech and Allah’s speaking to Moses, MC, 149 – 15]. The Ash’arites generally believed in the Qur’in being uncreated; whilst the Mu’tazilites asserted that the Qur’in was created, Macdonald, 146 et seq., 295. BHA, nos. 72 -80. These paragraphs show the identity of the Shiite and Mu’tazilite views. See also Miller’s note to arts. 76 and 79 (pp.93-94). How the Qur’an is created and has nothing to do with Allah’s attribute of speech is also clearly explained in the last portion of the article on كلم in MB.
- 2.Kalam (speech) of Allah must be distinguished from kalam or ilmu’l-kalam, the scholastic philosophy of Islam, Macdonald in EI, ii. 270 -275, MC, 78, 79; 127 (Was. AM Hanifa, art. 9); 266 ( Figh Akbar III, art. 16).
- 3.Therefore the Qur’in is clearly created and not uncreated.
Concerning the Extent of The Qur’an
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief is that the Qur’an, which Allah revealed to His Prophet Muhammad, is (the same as) the one between the two boards (daffattyn)1. And it is that which is in the hands of the people, and is not greater in extent than that.
The number of suras as generally accepted is one hundred and fourteen. And according to us, ad-Duha (The Morning, Sura 93) and al-Inshira (The Consolation, Sura 94) together form one sura; and al-Fil (The Elephant, Sura 105) and Quraish (Sura 106) together form one sura.
And he who asserts that we say that it is greater in extent than this (the present text) is a liar.
And that which is related (in tradition) concerning the reward for reciting every sura of the Qur’an, and the reward of him who completes the whole of the Qur’an, and the permissibility of reciting two suras in a rak’a (unit of prayer),2 and the prohibition of reciting the Qur’an between the two suras in a rak’a of the fard prayer3 is the verification of what we said concerning the Qur’an and that the extent of the Qur’an is (no more than) what is in the hands of the people.
And similarly what is related concerning the prohibition of reading the whole of the Qur’an in a single night, and that it is not permissible to complete the recitation of the Qur’an in less than three days is (also) a verification of what we have said.
On the contrary we say that so much of revelation has come down, which is not part of the Qur’an, that were it to be collected, its extent would undoubtedly be 17,000 verses. And this, for example, is like the saying of Gabriel to the Prophet: Allah says to thee, O Muhammad, act gently with My creatures, in the same manner as I do.
Or his (Gabriel’s) saying: Be careful of the bitter hatred of the people and their enmity. Or his (Gabriel’s) saying: Live as you desire, for verily you shall die. Love what you will, for verily you shall be separated. Act how you will, for verily you shall be faced with it.
The nobility of man is his prayer by night; his honor is refraining from injury to human beings. Or like the saying of the Prophet: Gabriel never ceased enjoining me (to use) the toothbrush (siwak) until I feared it would chafe (my gums) or make me toothless.4
And he (Gabriel) never ceased enjoining me (to be good) to the neighbor until I thought he would make him my heir; and he never ceased enjoining me about the wife, to the extent that I thought it would be improper to divorce her; and he never ceased enjoining me about the slave, until I thought that he would fix a period within which he should be freed.
Or like the saying of Gabriel, when the battle of the Ditch (Khandaq) was over: O Muhammad, verily Allah, Exalted and Blessed is He above all, commands you not to say the ‘asr (afternoon) prayer, except with the Banu Qurayza.5 Or like his saying (the Prophet’s): My Lord commanded me to deal gently with the people, in the same manner as he asked me to perform the obligatory acts.
Or like his saying: Verily we prophets were ordered not to speak to people except in accordance with their intelligence. Or like his saying: Verily Gabriel brought a command to me from my Lord, which cooled my eyes and brought joy to my breast. He (Gabriel) said: Verily Allah the Mighty and Glorious says that ‘Ali is the Prince of Believers, and the leader of those having a whiteness on the forehead, wrists and ankles (from the effects of ablution and prayer).6
Or like his saying: Gabriel came to me and said: O Muhammad, verily Allah the Blessed and Exalted, has given Fatima in marriage to ‘Ali in front of His Throne (‘arsh), and made select angels bear witness to the marriage. So marry her to him in this world and make the select amongst your people bear witness to it.
There are many such (traditions), all of which are revelations, but do not form part of the Qur’an; if they did, they would surely have been included and not excluded from it. The Prince of Believers (‘Ali), when he collected the Qur’an and brought it, said to them: This is the book of Allah, your Lord, as it was revealed to your Prophet; not a single word has been added to it or omitted from it. They said: we have no need of it; we have with us what you possess. So he (‘Ali) returned saying:
“But they flung it behind their backs and bought therewith a little gain. Verily evil is that which they have gained thereby” (Qur’an 3:187).
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq has said: The Qur’an is one; it was revealed by One to one single Prophet. And the difference (in readings) is due only on account of different transmitters (rawi, plural ruwat).
Wherever there occurs in the Qur’an the like of the saying of Him Who is Exalted above all:
“If thou ascribe a partner to Allah thy work will fail and thou indeed will be among the losers!” (Qur’an 39:65).
Or the like of His saying: “That Allah may forgive thee (O Muhammad) of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come” (Qur’an 48:2).7
Or like His saying:
“And if We had not made thee wholly firm thou mightest almost have inclined unto them a little. Then had We made thee taste a double (punishment) of living and a double (punishment) of dying…..” (Qur’an 17:74-75).
And verses resembling these – our belief concerning them is that they were revealed within the meaning of (the well-known proverb) – “Thee do I mean (O beloved), but hear, O (thou) neighboring lady”.8
And wherever there occurs in the Qur’an the particle aw, that is, “or”, the person to whom the ordinance refers has an option. And wherever there occurs in the Qur’an the expression ya ayyuha’1-ladhina amanu “O you who believe”, this is in lieu of the expression in the Torah, ya ayyuha’l-masakin, “O you miserable ones”.
Every verse of the Qur’an, which begins with the expression ya ayyuha’l-ladhina amanu (“O you who believe”), refers necessarily to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib as their leader (qa’id) and prince (amir) and the most noble and the first among them.
And every verse which directs the way to Paradise applies to the Prophet or the Imams, the blessings of Allah upon them all and their partisans and followers. And every verse which points the way to Hell refers to their enemies and opponents.
If the verses deal with the account of those mentioned earlier (i.e. Prophets and Imams) then whatever of good there is in them will be applicable to the righteous; and whatever of evil, to the evildoers. Among the prophets none is better than the Prophet Muhammad, the blessings of Allah upon him, and among the awsiya’ (plenipotentiaries) none is better than his (the Prophet’s) plenipotentiaries9, and among the communities none in reality is more excellent than this community – the partisans (Shi’a) of the People of his (Prophet’s) House, and none else. And among the wicked, none is more wicked than those who are their enemies and opponents.10
- 1.This expression implies that the text of the Qur’an, as is to be found in the textus receptus and which is in the hands of every one in the shape of a book, is the one accepted wholly by al-Qummi. Some of the Shi’a assert that a portion of the Qur’an is not included in the textus receptus and is with the Hidden Imam, cf. Browne’s Literary History of Persia, iv. 388 – 389, citing Aqa ‘idu ‘sh-Shi`a of `Ali Asghar b. `Ali Akbar; Sell, Studies in Islam (Madras, 1928), 246, citing Dr. Mirza Kazembeg in Journal Asiatique, December 1843, pp. 373 -430, and suggesting that the Sura of an- Nurayn (The Two Lights, that is, Muhammad and `Ali) is omitted. This view is however erroneous, as is shown here and fully discussed by Muhammad Ali, The Holy Qur’an, text and translation (Woking, England, 1917), Preface pp.xc-xcii, citing Mulla Muhsini Fayd in his famous tafsir, as-Safi. See the Tehran ed., 1274 A.H, pp. 10 -15 (6th mugaddima), and also F. Buhl, EI, ii. 1063 – 1076, esp. 1071.
- 2.The translator adds that this is the case in the sunna prayer.
- 3.This refers to the prohibition of reciting two suras of the Qur’an after al-Hamd in the fard prayer.
- 4.N err. جبرئيل يوصيني بالسؤال حتى خفت أن أحفى أو أدرد D correctly بالسواك and احفى أو أدرد.
- 5.N إلّا بيني فريضة D إلّا ببني قريظة
- 6.So Lane, s.v. حجل. The expression الغرّ المُحَجَّلُونَ is taken from the description of noble horses, and later applied to the most pious among human beings. The Urdu translator renders it loosely: that is “. . . the leader of (all) commanders”.
- 7.The Urdu translator says: Mufaddal b. `Umar said that some one asked the meaning of this verse of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq. The Imam said: I swear by God, the Prophet never committed any sin. The real meaning is that on account of his intercession, the sins both past and future, of the partisans of ‘Ali will be forgiven. ( Majma `u ‘l -Bayan).
The translator gives a graphic illustration of the “vicarious liability” for the sins of others, and how it can be got over. A king appoints a friend of his as the governor of a province, and tells him “You are responsible for the good behaviour of these people”. Some of these subjects break the law, and are brought forward for punishment. The governor intercedes and the king says: “Their wrongdoing would not have been forgiven but for your intercession. And this can only be done on the assumption that these wrongs were committed by you personally”. Similarly there are many verses of the Qur’an addressed to the Prophet, but intended in reality for the community. The translator further states that according to one authority (probably MB), di’f in this context means punishment, torment (`adhab). All these fanciful explanations are of great interest from the dogmatic point of view.
- 8.Freytag, Arab. Prov. i. 72-75 (No. 187); MB, s.v. جار. The proverb إيّاكِ أَعْنِي وَ اْسْمَعِي ياَ جارَه is explained by the translator as follows: This is a proverb among the Arabs. Sahl b. Malik al-Fazari is the originator. He fell in love with a beautiful young girl and, desiring to marry her, wrote some verses addressed to another lady, two of which were:
يَا أُخْتَ خَيْر البَدْوِ وَ الحَضارَة كَيْفَ تَريْنَ فِي فتى فَزارَة
أَصْبَحَ يَهْوِي حُرَّةً مِعْطارَةَ إيّاكِ أَعْنِي وَ اْسْمَعِي ياَ جارَه
(1) “O sister of one who is best among the dwellers of the desert and the town. What do you think (about marrying) a young man of the tribe of Fazara.
(2) He is greatly desirous of a free woman well-perfumed; Thee (O beloved) do I mean, but hear, O thou neighbouring lady! ” This proverb is employed when a certain person is addressed and another is intended.
- 9.The twelve Imams of the Shi`a.
- 10.Although it begins with the Qur’an, this section contains a number of well-known Shi’itic beliefs.
Concerning Prophets Apostles, Imams And Angels
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning the prophets (anbiya’) and apostles (rusul) and Imams (hujaj) is that they are more excellent than angels.2 And what the angels said to Allah3 the Mighty and Glorious when He said to them:
“. . . Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth; they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do mischief therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said: Surely I know what ye know not” (Qur’an 2:30)
Was due to their envy4 of Adam. And they did not desire aught except a position higher than their own, for superiority is due to knowledge. Allah, Exalted is He, says:
“And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful” (Qur’an 2:31).
“Glory be to Thee! We have no knowledge save that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, the Wise” (Qur’an 2:32). “He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth? And I know that which ye disclose and that which ye hide” (Qur’an 2:33).
Now the superiority of Adam over the angels, on account of his position as nabi (prophet), follows from the saying of Allah the Mighty and Glorious:
“Inform them of their names” (Qur’an 2:33).
And among the proofs of the superiority of Adam over. the angels is the command of Allah to the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam, in accordance with His words:
“So the angels fell prostrate, all of them together” (Qur’an 15:30).
And Allah commands prostration only before one who is superior. Their prostration to Allah was due to their utter subjection and obedience, and their prostration to Adam was out of respect for the prophets and Imams whom He had placed in his loins. And the Prophet said: I am superior to Gabriel and Michael and Israfil and to all the angels who are near (to Allah), and I am the best of mankind and the leader (sayyid) of the sons of Adam.
And as for the saying of Allah the Glorious and Mighty:
“The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave to Allah, nor will the favored angels” (Qur’an 4:172).
This does not prove their superiority over Jesus, on whom be peace. Allah the Mighty and Glorious said this only because there are among the people some who believe in the divinity of Jesus and worship him, and these are a class amongst the Christians; and there are others who worship the angels, and they are the Sabaeans and some others.
And Allah the Mighty and Glorious said: “The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave of Allah…” (Qur’an 4:172).
Meaning that the Messiah and those who are worshipped, except Myself, will never scorn to be slaves to Me. Angels are spiritual beings (not possessing gross bodies) and are sinless (ma’sum). They never disobey Allah in what He commands them, and act as they are commanded. They neither eat, nor drink; neither pain nor disease ever comes upon them; nor does old age or decrepitude.
Their food and drink consists of the glorification (tasbih) and sanctification (taqdis) of Allah. (The breath of) their life is the zephyr of the Throne of Allah (‘arsh); and their beatitude is in (the acquisition) of different kinds of knowledge. Allah the Exalted created them by His Power, in the shape of lights and spirits5, as He willed and desired; and each class among them guards a species of created things.
And we asserted the superiority of some (Prophets, Imams) over others (angels) because the position accorded to them amongst the varieties of things created by Allah is greater and more excellent than the position given to angels. And Allah knows best.6
- 1.The best general account is in MC, 197 sqq. Cf. also s. v. Mala ‘ika, Macdonald in EI, iii. 189.
- 2.The majority hold that prophets are superior to angels, MC, 200 (citing al-Baghdadi). The Mu’tazilites are divided on this point, loc. cit.; the lmamites hold that the Imams are also superior, ibid., 201. Some extreme Shiites, like the Bazighiya (a group of the Khattabiya), hold themselves more excellent than angels, loc. cit. See also EI, iii. 191.
- 3.N و قول الملائكة الله عز و جل لمّا قال لهم; D لأن الله عز و جل قال لهم.
- 4.Reading with N التَّمَنِّى D err. المتمنّى.
- 5.MC, 199 (citing Muslim). So generally in tradition, EI, iii. 190.According to the Isma’ilis, angels are of many kinds and ranks, but their essence (jawhar) is the same, Taju ‘l- Aqa ‘id, `aqida 23 (see FC). They may be likened, as Ivanow says, to laws of nature or natural forces, performing certain duties which are entrusted to them, like causing the spheres, stars, etc., to move in perfect order, FC, no. 88 (the text is fuller than the English summary and should be consulted). Further particulars, FC, pp.56,62,64,67,68n. According to KP, 70,000 angels were created out of the light of the face of `Ali, 87, 88; and `Ali appeared to the Prophet as an exalted angel on the Night of the Ascension, 88. Good human souls later become angels, but bad ones, , diws and ghuls, 92; angels are also hududi din (functionaries of religion), 96; and man possesses the human as well as angelic elements in his nature, 54.
- 6.Therefore apparently ordinary Shi’ahs are not superior to angels, as the Sunnis hold the faithful to be, MC, 202.
The Number of Prophets And Vicegerents
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning their number is that in all there have been one hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets1 and a like number of awsiya‘2. Each nabi (prophet) had a wasi to whom he gave instructions by the command of Allah. And concerning them we believe that they brought the truth from Allah, that their word is the word of Allah, that their command is the command of Allah, that obedience to them is obedience to Allah and that disobedience to them is disobedience to Allah.
They spoke not except on behalf of Allah, and on being inspired by Him. And verily the leaders of the prophets are five in number round whom the heaven revolve3, and they are the masters of the religious path (as habu ‘sh-shara’i’), namely Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, on all of whom be peace:
“messengers of inflexible purpose” (Qur’an 46:35)
. Muhammad verily is their leader and the most excellent of them.4 He brought the truth and confirmed (the message of) the apostles.
Those who declared him to be a liar will suffer a painful agony. And those who believed in him and honored and helped him5, and followed the light6 which descended with him they are the successful and the victorious ones.
It is necessary to believe that Allah the Mighty and Glorious did not create any created thing more excellent than Muhammad and the Imams, peace on them, that they are the most loved of creatures in the eyes of Allah, and the most noble and the foremost among them, on account of their acceptance of Him (as their Lord). When Allah took the pledge (mithaq) of the prophets and
“required them to bear witness of themselves (saying): Am I not your Lord? and they said: Yes, verily” (Qur’an 7:172).
And verily Allah sent His Prophet Muhammad (with a message) to the other prophets in the world of atoms (adh-dharr)7 . And verily Allah the Mighty and Glorious gave to each prophet (i.e. knowledge, power, etc.) according to the extent of his cognition (ma’rifa)8, while the cognition of our Prophet Muhammad was greater and more sublime9, for it took precedence in accepting Allah (as the Supreme Being).
We believe that Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He above all, created the whole of creation for him (the Prophet) and for the People of his House, and that but for them, Allah, Glory be to Him, would not have created the heavens or the earth, Paradise or Hell, Adam or Eve, the angels or (any) created thing (shay ‘) – the Blessings of Allah upon them all.
And our belief is that after His Prophet, the Blessings of Allah upon him, the proofs10 of Allah for the people are the Twelve Imams,11 the first of them being the Prince of Believers ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, then al-Hasan, then al-Husayn, then ‘Ali bin al-Husayn, then Muhammad bin ‘Ali, then Ja’far bin Muhammad, then Musa bin Ja’far, then ‘Ali bin Musa ar-Rida, then Muhammad bin ‘Ali, then ‘Ali bin Muhammad, then al-Hasan bin ‘Ali, then Muhammad bin al-Hasan the Proof (al-hujja), who upholds the command of Allah (al-qa’im bi-amri’l-lah), the Master of Time (sahibu’z-zaman), the Vicegerent of the Beneficent One (khalifatu’r-Rahman) in His earth, the one who is present in the earth12 but invisible (gha’ib) to the eyes – the Blessings of Allah on all of them.13
Our belief regarding them is that they are in authority (ulu’l-amr). It is to them that Allah has ordained obedience,14 they are the witnesses for the people and they are the gates of Allah (abwab) and the road (sabil) to Him and the guides (dalil, plural adilla) thereto, and the repositories15 of His knowledge and the interpreters of His revelations and the pillars of His unity (tawhid). They are immune from sins (khata’) and errors (zalal); they are those from whom
“Allah has removed all impurity and made them absolutely pure” (Qur’an 33:33).
They are possessed of (the power of) miracles (mu’jizat) and of (irrefutable) arguments (dala’il); and they are for the protection of the people of this earth just as the stars are for the inhabitants of the heavens. They may be likened, in this community, to the Ark of Noah; he who boards it obtains salvation or reaches the Gate of Repentance (hitta).16
They are the most noble slaves of Allah, who
“speak not until He hath spoken; they act by His command” (Qur’an 21:27).
And we believe that love for them is true belief (iman) and hatred for them is unbelief (kufr); that their command is the command of Allah, their prohibition is the prohibition of Allah; obedience to them is obedience to Allah, and disobedience to them is disobedience to Allah; their friend (wali17) is the friend of Allah, and their enemy the enemy of Allah.
We believe that the earth cannot be without the Proof (hujja) of Allah to His creatures – a leader either manifest (zahir) and well known (mashhur)18, or hidden (khafi19) and obscure (maghmur).
We believe that the Proof of Allah in His earth and His vicegerent (khalifa) among His slaves in this age of ours is the Upholder (al-Qa’im) (of the law of Allah), the Expected One (al-Muntazar), Muhammad bin al-Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin Musa bin Ja’far bin Muhammad bin ‘Ali bin al-Husayn bin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, on them be peace.
He it is concerning whose name and descent the Prophet was informed by Allah the Mighty and Glorious, and he it is who will fill the earth with justice and equity, just as now it is full of oppression and wrong.20 And he it is through whom Allah will make His faith manifest
“in order to supersede all religion, though the polytheists may dislike (it)” (Qur’an 9:33, 48:28, 61:9).
He it is whom Allah will make victorious over the whole world until from every place the call to prayer will be heard, and all religion21 will belong entirely to Allah, Exalted is He above all. He it is, who is the Rightly Guided (mahdi), about whom the Prophet gave information that when he appears, Jesus,22 son of Mary, will descend upon the earth and pray behind him, and he who prays behind him is like one who prays behind the Prophet of Allah, because he is his vicegerent (khalifa).
And we believe that there can be no Qa’im other than him; he may live in the state of occultation (as long as he likes); and were he to live in the state of occultation for the space of the existence of this world, there would nevertheless be no Qa’im other than him. For, the Prophet and the Imams have indicated him by his name and descent; him they appointed as their successor, and of him they gave glad tidings – the Blessings of Allah on all of them.23
- 1.Browne, Persian Literature, iv. 387-388; Donaldson, 320. In Sunni dogmatics the numbers differ from 315 apostles (Ibn Sa’d) to 224,000; but Nasafi is non-committal MC, 204; Macdonald, 312. It is also to be observed that here no difference is made between apostle (rasul) and prophet (nabi). The distinction according to Sunnite doctrine appears to be that the former were sent each with a law and a book, while the latter, only to preach and to warn,MC, loc. cit. For distinction between risala and nubuwwa, see Affifi, 95 and generally, KP, ch. iv. pp. 52 sqq.
- 2.The word wasi is untranslatable in English, except in a legal context, where executor is an exact rendering. “Plenipotentiary” or “vicegerent” may also be used in certain cases. It has in Shi’itic works the following chief attributes: (1) wasi is a person who is, by command of Allah, specially instructed and authorized by the nabi to perform certain acts. These are considered to be the commands of the nabi and the duties of the wasi. (2) During the lifetime of the nabi, the wasi holds a position next after him as vicegerent, FC, no. 31 ; and for particular religious and political functions, he acts as his plenipotentiary. (3) After the death of the nabi the wasi is his khalifa (successor), his executor and the leader of the community, being the most excellent of men after the Prophet, FC, no. 31. The distinction between him and the Imam is that the latter has not had the advantage of personal intimacy and direct instruction from the nabi, KP, 20; although in the absence of the nabi, the wasi and the imam have similar powers. Thus wasi is superior to imam, `Ali being superior to all Imams, FC, nos.35, 36. It is for these reasons that the word wasi has throughout been retained in the translation.
The terms wasi has very special association in Isma’ili’s thought, FC, nos. 31,35. Wisayat and nubuwwat are temporary institutions, but imamat is permanent and everlasting, no. 35. The substance of the nabi is closely connected with that of the wasi and the wasi isthe truest interpreter of the religion of the nabi, no. 31 _ The Kalami Pir is full of the doctrine of wisayat (or wasayat?) out of which a few points are worthy of mention. The nabi is the natiq, teacher of the revealed religion (tanzil) and he always prepares برباى كند a wasi, who is the teacher of the inner meaning (ta’wil), pp. 18, 56,57; every natiq has a wasi, 57; the wasi gives to every one tanzal (zahir) or ta’wil (batin) according to his ability, 56. On the meanings of the word وصية see Fyzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, 8.
- 3.Reading دارت عليهم الرحى as in D: not الرحى as in N.Cf. MB, s.v. رحا p.37. The expression in ordinary English means “on whom everything depends”.
- 4.Cf. MC, 113 – 115, where it is shown that at first no distinction was made; but later Muhammad’s superiority was clearly accepted, Macdonald, 305 (Ghazili), 312 (Nasafi), 345 (Fudali) ; BHA, no. 170; FC, no. 29. In KP there are expressions showing the identity of the substance of ‘Ali and Muhammad, 79 sqq., and it is not at all clear whether ‘Ali is not superior to the Prophet, cf. especially 74, where we have: “‘Ali was the greatest among all the prophets and saints, pious and holy”. According to Ibnu’l-`Arabi, the reality of Muhammad is identified with the logos, Affifi, 70; Muhammad is therefore the centre of the Sufi hierarchy – the Qutb, 71 et seq. The question of Prophecy from the Western Isma’ili’s point of view is dealt with in Abu Hatim ar-Razi’s A’lamu ‘n-Nubuwwa (W. Ivanow, Guide to Ism. Lit., no, 19) and other works.
- 5.Reading `azzaruhu.
- 6.Browne, Lit. His., iv. 388; KP, Intr. xxxviii, 85. Ibnu’l-`Arabi holds that saintship can only be derived from this “light”, and in this he is under the influence of Hallaj, Affifi, 74, 92, 189.
- 7.Before the atoms were put together by Allah and the mass shaped into different forms. This shows how early the excellence of Muhammad was recognized. This is a reference to the interesting
legend regarding the covenant of Adam and his descendants referred to in the Qur’an, 7, 171 -173. ذَر is obviously used for its affinity with ذرِّيَتهم and may mean either “atoms” or “ants”. The descendants of Adam, prior to the creation of this physical world, were made to appear to him in the shape of ants: Baydawi, ed. Fleischer, i. 35215-17 (com. to the Qur’an 7,172); MB, s. v. وثق.
– أخذ الله ميثاق شيعتنا بالولاية و هم ذّر يوم أخذ الميثاق على الذّر- توضيحه: أن الأرواح تعلّقت ذالك اليوم بجسد صغير مثل النّمل دعاهم إلى الإقرار فأقَرَّ بعضهم و أنكر بعضهم
The Thus God took the twofold covenant from mankind: (a) the Unity of Allah, and (b) the priority in excellence of the Prophet Muhammad. In this manner not only mankind, but all the prophets testified to these two dogmas, tawhid and khatamiya. MB goes further and mentions also the wilaya as part of the covenant. Cf. also Wensinck, Handbook, s. v. Adam, 11 b.
It is necessary to emphasize, as is done in the explanations, that all this happened in a spiritual sense and in a spiritual world, not actually and in a physical sense; and this world is the عالم الذّر (the world of atoms or ants), and في الذّر stands for في عالم الذّر whereas على الذّر refers to the covenant itself.
The rendering “world of atoms” appears to be more in consonance with the real significance in English than the expression “world of ants”. From the traditions it would appear that the descendants of Adam appeared to him as a huge cluster of ants; it may also be suggested – and the metaphor is even more beautiful – that they appeared to him as innumberable particles floating in a beam of light.
The idea of the excellence of the Prophet appears to be of gradual growth; originally no distinction was made between the various apostles, MC, 115,191 ( Figh Akbar 11, art. 6), 215. The mithaq was originally between God and man; then it was made to include the Prophet’s excellence over all the other prophets, and finally the Shi’a engrafted upon it the doctrine of walaya as well.
- 8.FC, no. 28. This is clearly in anticipation of the Sufi doctrine, Afifi, 74, 92, 189.
- 9.Reading as in D كانت أكبر و أعظم و سبقت إلخ.
- 10.FC, no. 38.
- 11.On the Imamate generally see Browne, iv. 391-395; BHA, nos. 174 -218, esp no. 210; Donaldson, D. M., The Shiite Religion (London, 1933), 305 -338; FC, nos. 30 -42; KP, xxxviii, and idex.
- 12.Lit. “present in the cities (amsar).”
- 13.Browne, iv. 394; Donaldson, The Shiite Religion, 277 sqq.; BHA, nos. 210, 211, 217.
- 14.Ref to Qur’an 4, 62. BHA, no. 211.
- 15.N عَيْبَة; D مهبط. ‘ayba is a leather bag; metaphorically, it is also used for a person who is a repository of one’s secret (Lane).
- 16.Qur’an 2, 58; 7, 161. So Pickthall. The word means “remission laying down the burden of sins” (Palmer); or “forgiveness” ( Rodwell).
- 17.tiyj with the kasr of the waw is “authority”, “power”, “sovereignty “; and with the fatha, is “love”, “devotion” – و بالفتح المَحَبَّة, MB, s.v. yj,97. This is the general meaning; the theological concept is on p.99;
الوَلاية بالفتح محبة أهل البيت و اتِّباعِهِم في الدين و امتثال أوامرهم و نواهيهم و التأسّي بهم في الأعمال و الأخلاق. و أمّا معرفة حقَّهم و اعتقاد الإمامة فيهم فذلك من أصول الدين لا من فروع العلمية.
It therefore involves: ( 1) love and devotion to the People of the House (ahlu ‘l-bayt) of the Prophet, namely, the Imams; (2) following them in religion; (3) obedience to their commands and absention from their prohibitions; (4) imitation of their actions and conduct; and finally, (5) recognition of their rights and belief in their Imamate, – this being a basic principle of religion, not a mere scholastic deduction. SUNNIS. – There is a hadith that there can be no faith without love of Muhammad’s family, Wensinck, Handbook, 169 (citing Tirmidhi 46, 28, etc.). ITHNA `ASHARIYA. – Walaya is a basic principle, Browne, iv. 394 – 395; Donaldson, 344–345 (citing Hayatu ‘l-Qulub of Majlisi), 247, 346. In BHA, the whole section on Imamate, nos. 179 sqq., necessarily involves this belief and shows the importance given to it. ISMA`ILIS, – The Western (Musta’lian) Isma’ilis regard wwalaya as the first and the most important of the seven pillars (da`a ‘im ) of religion. In the Da’a’imu ‘l-Islam, vol. I, beg., it is related on the authority of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq:
بُني الإسلام على سبع دعائم، الولاية و هي أولها و أفضلها، و بها و بالولي يوصل إلى معرفتها.
Cf. also Fyzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, p. 1, n. 1 and JRAS for 1934, p.22; FC, p.9 and no. 69. The basis of the doctrine appears to be the wasiya of ‘Ali in the Da’a’imu ‘l-Islam, vol. II (see Fyzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, no.9). ‘Ali first asks for devotion, citing Qur’in 42, 23) (ibid., 70); then before laying down the principles of religion, that is, tahara, salat, etc., he again mentions walaya (p.71); intercession will not be available to those who do not recognize ‘Ali’s right and the rights of the ahlu ‘l-bayt (p.72); “I enjoin you to be devoted to us the People of the House, for God has coupled obedience to us with obedience to Him and His Messenger” (p.74). The wasiya of ‘Ali is cited widely in Isma’ili’s works both ancient, like the `Uyunu ‘l-Akhbar of Sayyidna `Imadu’d- Din Idris b. Hasan, and modern like Siraju’l-Huda’l-Munir by Sardar Sayyidna Tahir Sayfu’d-Din, the present daa`i of the Da’udi Bohoras, 1352 A.H., pp.85 -95. Among the Eastern (Nizarian) Isma’ilis, the doctrine of walaya is extended still further. Walaya is an essential part of belief, KP, 36, 89; he who dies without recognizing the Imam of the time dies a kafir, 27, 48, 61, 69; calumny of ‘Ali means exclusion from grace, 37; closeness of `Ali and the Prophet, 74; and finally wilaya (not walaya) as a rank, is superior to nubuwwa, for the light of nubuwwa, is inferior to the light of wilaya, xxxviii, 74, 86.
- 18.N omits مشهوراً.
- 19.N خائفاً err. for خافياً Tajul-Aqa’id, FC, no. 37, does not accept the ghayba of the Imam.
- 20.This phrase is very common in Shi’itic literature and forms part of the mahdi tradition in general, cf. Isr. Friedlaender in JAOS, vol. xxix, 30 – 31 ; Shahrastani, 177, 1331, etc. ; BHA, no. 211 (pen). See p.111.
- 21.Reading with D و يكون الدين كله لله.
- 22.Reading with D و أنه الذي إذا خرج نزل عيسى إلخ; N و انه إذا نزل عيسى
- 23.The Twelfth Imam is in some respects similar to the Mahdi of the Sunnis, MC, 243, 244. The descent of Jesus is also generally accepted, Wensinck, Handbook, 113, where it is stated that he will
descend in Syria, kill the anti-Christ, appear as Imam, destroy the cross, kill the swine, and restore Islam to its pristine purity; he resides miraculously in the Heavens. Cf. also mahdi, Wensinck, Handbook, 139. For a full discussion of mahdi, as distinguished from Imam, see EI, iii. 111- 115, s. v. Mahdi. Among the Shi’a the traditions and books about the 12th Imam are legion; the following are a few general references, Browne, iv. 394; Donaldson, 226 -241; R. Strothmann in EI, ii. 642, s. v. al- Qa’im (many references); BHA, nos. 210, 211, 217; in no. 211 the 12th Imam is declared as the greatest (afdal) of all the Imams, an-Nafi’ yawmi ‘l-Hashr, Bombay ed. 587 , Najaf ed. 788.
Concerning Infallibility (‘isma)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning the prophets (anbia’)2, apostles (rusul), Imams and angels is that they are infallible (ma’sum); purified from all defilement (danas), and that they do not commit any sin, whether it be minor (saghira) or major (kabira). They do not disobey Allah in what He has commanded them; they act in accordance with His behests. He who denies infallibility to them in any matter appertaining to their status is ignorant of them, and such a one is a kafir (unbeliever).3
- 1.The word `isma, translated by Wensinck in MC as impeccability,by Miller in BHA as “immunity to sin” and by W. Ivanow as “infallibility”, needs further explanation in view of its doctrinal importance in Shi`itic literature. The root `asama, ya’simu, `asman, means according to Lane, prevented, hindered, protected, defended, preserved, withheld, etc. And `isma is prevention, hindrance, defence, protection; its primary significance being trying or binding. عصمة الأنبياء is explained in Taju ‘1-Arus as God’s preservation of the prophets, first, by peculiar endowment of them with essential purity of constitution; then by the conferring of large and highly-esteemed excellences; then by aid against opponents, and rendering their feet firm, then by sending down upon them tranquility (as-Sakina, Qur’an 9, 26, etc.) and the preservation of their hearts or minds, and adaptation to that which is right. Whence we have “a defence from the state of perdition” and finally, “a faculty of avoiding acts of disobedience, with possession of power to commit them”.
This is the positive quality which is believed by the Shi’a to be the peculiar possession of the Imams_ It is a state of sinlessness and infallibility or immunity to sin, resulting from a characteristic of their nature, which is a miraculous gift of Allah. It is also fully explained in MB, s.v.عصم also E1, ii. 543 (Ign. Goldziher) and BHA, notes to para.174 at p.98.
- 2.The `isma of the prophets is accepted by Sunnis to a limited extent; Fakhru’d-din Razi being a great supporter of the dogma, Goldziher, op. cit.; Donaldson, 337;MC, 217–218; but the Sunnite tradition contains nothing of `isma, while the Shi’a lay great emphasis on it. It is the Fiqh Akbar II which, under Shiite influence, developed the dogma of Muhammad’s infallibility, MC, 218. It was claimed by Ibn Tumart, Macdonald, 247, 292, 347 (al-Fudali); BHA, nos- 164 – 173 (see Miller’s note to no. 164 at p.97).
- 3.Browne, iv. 394 – 395; Donaldson, 320 – 338 gives a very valuable account of `isma, the nine proofs whereof will be found on p.321; BHA, nos.179-185; FC, nos.37, 41, 56; KP, xliii (Imam), xIv.94 (hujja).
The Denial Of Excess And Delegation
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning those who exceed the bounds of belief (ghal, plural ghulat) and those who believe in delegation (al-mufawwida1) is that they are deniers (kuffar) of Allah, Glory be to His name. They are more wicked than the Jews, the Christians, the Fire-Worshippers, the Qadarites2 or the Kharijites (Haruriya)3, or any of the heretics (ahlu’1-bid’a) or those who hold views which lead astray (al ahwa’u ‘l-madilla). None have belittled Allah more, Glory be to Him; as Allah says:
“It is not possible for any human being unto whom Allah has given the scripture and wisdom and the prophethood that he should afterwards have said unto mankind: Be slaves of me instead of Allah; but (what he said was): Be ye faithful servants of the Lord by virtue of your constant teaching of the Scripture and of your constant study thereof” (Qur’an 3:79). “And he commanded you not that ye should take the angels and the prophets for lords. Would he command you to disbelieve after ye had become Muslims?” (Qur’an 3:80).
And He said, Mighty and Glorious is He:
“Do not be excessive in your belief” (Qur’an 4:171, 5:77).
Our belief concerning the Prophet is that he was poisoned during the expedition of Khaybar. The poison continued to be noxious to him until it cut his aorta and then he died from its effects.4
And the Prince of Believers, on whom be peace, was murdered by ‘Abdu’r-Rahman bin Muljam al-Murad5, may Allah curse him, and he was buried in Ghari6. (1st Imam)
And Hasan bin ‘Ali, on both of whom be peace, he was poisoned by his wife Ja’da bint Ash’ath of Kinda, may Allah curse them both, and he died on account of that. (2nd Imam)7
And Husayn bi ‘Ali was slain at Karbala. His murderer was Sinan bin Anas an-Nakha’i, the curse of Allah on them both. (3rd Imam).8
And ‘Ali bin Husayn, the Sayyid Zaynu’1-‘Abidin, was poisoned by al-Walid bin ‘Abdu’l-Malik, may Allah curse him. (4th Imam)9
And Muhammad al-Baqir bin ‘Ali was poisoned by Ibrahim bin al-Walid, may Allah curse him. (5th Imam)10
And Ja’far as-Sadiq was poisoned by Abu Ja’far al-Mansur ad-Dawaniqi, may Allah curse him. (6th Imam)11
And Musa al-Kazim bin Ja’far was poisoned by Harun ar-Rashid, may Allah curse him. (7th Imam) 12
And ‘Ali ar-Rida b. Musa was poisoned by Ma’mun, may Allah curse him. (8th Imam)13
And Abu Ja’far Muhammad at-Taqi bin ‘Ali was poisoned by al-Mu’tasim, may Allah curse him. (9th Imam)14
And ‘Ali an-Naqi bin Muhammad was poisoned by al’Mutawakkil, may Allah curse him. (10th Imam)15
And Hasan al-‘Askari bin ‘Ali was poisoned by al-Mu’tamid, may Allah curse him. (11th Imam)16
And our belief is that these events actually occurred, and that there was no doubt in the minds of the people regarding the Imams’ affairs, as some of those who exceed the bounds (of belief) allege.17 On the contrary the people witnessed their murder really and truly, and not by conjecture (hisban) or fancy (khaylula) or doubt (shakk) or false allegation (tuhma). He who asserts that some person or persons were substituted for one of the Imams, or some of them, is not of our religion and we have nothing in common with him.
And verily the Prophet and Imams, on whom be peace, had informed (people) that they would all be murdered. He who says that they were not murdered has verily given them the lie. And he who declares them to be false has imputed falsehood to Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, and denied Him and goes out of Islam.
“And whoso seeketh religion other than al-Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and he will be a loser in the Hereafter.” (Qur’an 3:85)
And Imam ‘Ali ar-Rida, on whom be peace, used to say in his prayer:
O God, I seek absolution from Thee in respect of Thy Strength and Power.18 There is neither strength nor power save in Thee. O God, I declare myself before Thee as having nothing to do with those who assert in respect of us things which we ourselves do not know. O God, to Thee belongs creation and Thou possessest the power of command;
“Thee (alone) do we worship and from Thee do we seek help” (Qur’an 1:5).
O God, Thou art our Creator, and the Creator of our ancestors, near and remote. O God, none deserves lordship save Thee; and divinity befits none except to Thee. So do Thou curse the Christians who belittled Thy greatness, and do Thou curse those who declare Thee to resemble Thy Creature. O God, verily we are Thy slaves and the sons of Thy slaves. We have no power over ourselves in respect of profit, loss, death, life or resurrection (nushur).
O God, he who asserts that we (the Imams) have the power of creation and providing (for mankind) – we (Imams) seek absolution from Thee in respect of him, an absolution similar to that of Jesus, son of Mary, in respect of the Christians. O God, we have never called upon them to assert what they do assert; so do not punish us for what they say and forgive us for what they allege.
“My Lord! leave not one of the disbelievers in the land” (Qur’an 71:26).
“If Thou shouldst leave them, they will mislead Thy slaves and will beget none save lewd ingrates”(Qur’an 71:27).
And it is related from Zurara that he said: I said to Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq that a man from among the descendants of ‘Abdu’l-lah bin Saba’ is a believer in (the doctrine of) delegation (tafwid). And he said: And what is tafwid? I (Zurara) said: According to him Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, (in the first instance) created Muhammad and ‘Ali, and then delegated the matter (of creation) to them, and these two created and gave sustenance, and caused life and death.
The Imam said: He, the enemy of Allah, has lied. When you return to him recite to him the verse of the Chapter of The Thunder:
“Or assign they unto Allah partners who created the like of His creation so that the creation (which they made and His creation) seemed alike to them? Say: Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the One, the Al-mighty” (Qur’an 13:16).
Then I went to the man and informed him of what Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq had said, and he became as if I had forced him to swallow stones or as though he were struck dumb.
Now (undoubtedly) Allah has delegated matters concerning religion to His Prophet and He, the Mighty and Glorious, says:
“And whatsoever the Messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it)” (Qur’an 59:7).
And this (that is, religious authority) has also been delegated to the Imams.
The sign of the Delegators (al-mufawwida) and the Extremists (al-ghulat) and their likes is the belief that their Shaykhs19 and ulema have attributed less than their due (to the Imams). And the sign of the Hallajites among the Extremists is the claim of Manifestation (tajalli )20 in their devotion, in spite of their doctrinal belief in the abandonment of prayer and all the obligatory acts (fard- ‘idh),21 and (also) their claim of knowing the Most High Names of Allah’22 and their claim of the incarnation (intiba`) of the Divine Being in bodily shape for them23. I For according to them the saint (wali), when he is purified and knows their religion, becomes more excellent than the Prophets. Their distinguishing characteristic is the claim that they know alchemy. They know nothing of it, except the counterfeiting and silvering of brass24 arid lead (for deceiving) Muslims. O God, do not include us among them and curse them.
- 1.W. Ivanow translates ghuluww as extremism in Shi’itic belief. These terms are explained by the Urdu translator. He says: The ghulat are those who believe ‘Ali to be God or prophet, a claim which he himself would not make. This explanation is clearly taken from MB:الغالي من يقول في أهل البيت ما لا يقولون في أنفسهم كمن يدَّعي فيهم النبوة و الإلهيَّة MB, s. v. غلى, 675. The mufawwida are those who beliebe that God created the Prophet and ‘Ali and then ceased to function. Thereafter it was these two who arranged everything in the world. They create and sustain and destroy; Allah has nothing to do with these things, MB, 372. On the ghulat see also Browne, iv. 395. The MS. copy of the I’tiqadat in the Asafiyah Library, Hyderabad, no. 7909 (hadith, 333), vocalizes it mufawwada.
- 2.This is a peculiar use of the word qadarya, because as Wensinck has shown, they did not believe in evil coming from God and were nearer to the Mu’tazila and the Shi’a, MC, 52, 53. It is really their other beliefs, for instance, rejection of the popular eschatology, ibid., 119, and of Heaven and Hell, 166, and other doctrines that made them hated.
- 3.The Qadarites and Kharijites are omitted in D, but the translator inserts them in the Urdu rendering.
- 4.The usually accepted view is that the Prophet died of fever at Medina, Fr. Buhl in EI, iii. 656; Tor Andreae, Mohammed (Eng. Tr. 1936), 242.
- 5.So in D. ‘Ali died on 21 Ram. 40/27 Jan. 661, El, i. 284.
- 6.MB, s.v. غرا, 66 explains that ghari (الغَرِى كغَنِىّ) is a magnificent building, and the “two gharis” in Kufa (presently Najaf) is the place where ‘Ali b. Abi Talib was buried. Cf. also Maqata1u’t-Ta1ibiyin, (Najaf, 1263), p.28; and for a modern description, Donaldson, 54 sqq.
- 7.Donaldson, 66 sqq. Died A.H. 49, EI, ii. 274.
- 8.ibid., 79 sqq. Died 10 Muh. 61/10 Oct. 680, El, ii. 339.
- 9.ibid., 101 sqq. D adds فقتل و دفن بالبقيع, Died 92/710- 711 or 94/ 712-713.
- 10.ibid., 112 sqq. Died A.H. 114, 117 or 118, EI, iii. 670.
- 11.ibid., 129 sqq. Died 148/765, El, i. 993.
- 12.ibid., 152 sqq. Died 183/799, EI, iii. 741.
- 13.ibid., 161 sqq. Died 203/818, EI, i. 296.
- 14.ibid., 188 sqq. Died 220/835, Browne, iv. 394.
- 15.ibid., 209 sqq. Died 245/868, Browne, loc. cit.
- 16.ibid., 217 sqq. Died 260/873. On Imims generally, Browne, iv.391-395.
- 17.Some apparently believed that the Imams were miraculously translated to Heaven. The expression ما شَبَّه للنّاس is reminiscent of Qur’an 4, 157 regarding the death of Jesus.
- 18.This apparently means: I declared that I have nothing to do with the belief that in strength or power any one can be Thy equal.
- 19.Reading with N مشائخهم D مشائخ قم.
- 20.To III means the manifestation of the Deity to human beings as a vision. Compare FC, 12 and the visio beatifica of the Catholics, MC, 65. Tajalli, according to Ibnu’l-`Arabi, is “the eternal and everlasting self-manifestation”, Affifi, 61 ; this is different from the Emanations of the neo-Platonists, 62; the mystic gains perfect knowledge by tajalli, 109; Ibnu’1-`Arabi complete pantheism, 141; the greatest happiness is the realization of the inseparable Unity with God, 168. KP, p.68, tr., n. l _ Apparently however, as Dr. Affifi explains, tajalli (manifestation) is different from inbi’ath (emanation), op. cit., 62_ But see tajalliyi awwal, KP, 72, and -shuhud, ibid., 82. It would seem that inbi `ath is connected with the process of creation, while tajalli takes place after creation and depends to some extent upon the gnosis of the saint.
- 21.Among the Nazirian Isma’llis, people with proper knowledge of the secrets of religion are exempt from the outward prescriptions of the law, K P, 95.
- 22.Knowledge of اسم الله الأكبر “the most great name of Allah” has a great significance among Sufis. See generally the works cited by L. Massignon in the article on tasawwuf in El, iv_ 681.
- 23.Incarnation (hulul) and metempsychosis (tanasukh) are rejected both by Musta’lian and Nizirian Ismai’ilis, KP, xlix, n. 2 and see above, note 163, p. 134.
- 24.Reading with N تقضيض الشَّبَه; D تنفيق الشبه is also possible, meaning “they pass off brass and lead as current coin among the Muslims”.
Belief Concerning Evil Doers
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning them (zalimun) is that they are accursed and dissociation from them is necessary. Allah the Mighty and Glorious says:
“For evil-doers there will be no helpers” (Qur’an 2:270, 3:192, 5:72).
And Allah says, Exalted is He:
“Who doeth greater wrong than he who inventeth a lie concerning Allah? Such will be brought before their Lord and witnesses will say: These are they who lied concerning their Lord. Behold! The curse of Allah is upon the wrong-doers, who debar (men) from the way of Allah, and would have it crooked, and who are disbelievers in the Hereafter” (Qur’an 11:18-19).
Ibn ‘Abbas in explaining this verse says: Verily, in this context, by “the way of Allah” (sabil Allah) is meant ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and the Imams, on whom be peace.
And in the Book of Allah (are mentioned) two kinds of leaders: he who guides rightly and he who leads astray. And Allah the Exalted says:
“And We made them chiefs (or leaders) who guide by Our command” (Qur’an 21:73, 32:24).
And Allah says:
“And We made them patterns1 that invite2 unto the Fire, and on the Day of Resurrection they will not be helped. And We made a curse to follow them in this world and on the Day of Resurrection they will be among the hateful” (Qur’an 28:41-42).
Now when the following verse was revealed:
“And guard yourselves against a chastisement which cannot fall exclusively on those of you who are wrong-doers” (Qur’an 8:25).
The Prophet said: He who will wrong ‘Ali as regards my successorship after my death, it is as though he has denied my apostleship and the apostleship of (all) the prophets before me, on whom be peace. And he who befriends the wrongdoer is himself a wrongdoer.
Allah the Mighty and Glorious says:
“O ye who believe! Choose neither your fathers, nor your brethren for friends if they prefer disbelief to faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers” (Qur’an 9:23).
And He the Mighty and Glorious has said:
“O ye who believe! Be not friendly with a folk with whom Allah is wroth, (a folk) who have despaired of the Hereafter as the disbelievers despair of those who are in the graves” (Qur’an 60:13).
And He the Mighty and Glorious says:
“Thou wilt not find folk who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons or their brethren or their clan. As for such, He hath written faith upon their hearts. . .” (Qur’an 58:22).
And He says, Exalted is He:
“He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrong-doing folk” (Qur’an 5:51).
And the Mighty and Glorious says:
“And incline not toward those who do wrong lest the Fire touch you” (Qur’an 11:113).
(The literal meaning of) zulm is the placing of a thing at a place which is not its own. So he who claims the Imamah, not being an Imam, is an accursed wrongdoer (zalim). And he who ascribes Imamah to those who are not entitled to it, he too is an accursed wrong-doer.3
And the Prophet said: He, who denies ‘Ali his Imamah after me, verily denies my apostleship (nubuwwa). And he who denies my apostleship has denied Allah His divinity.
And the Prophet, on whom be the blessings and mercy of Allah, said: O ‘Ali, you will be the wronged one (mazlum) after me; and he who wrongs you has verily wronged me; and he who acts justly towards you has verily acted justly towards me; and he who denies your (claims) has verily denied mine; and he who befriends you has verily befriended me; and he who treats you as an enemy has verily treated me as an enemy4 and he who obeys you has verily obeyed me; and he who disobeys you has verily disobeyed me.5
And our belief concerning him, who denies the Imamah to the Prince of Believers ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, on whom be peace, and the Imams after him, is that he is the like of him who denies the apostleship of all the prophets, on whom be peace.6
And our belief concerning him, who believes in (the Imamah of) the Prince of Believers and denies a single one of the Imams after him, is that he is in the same position as one who accepts all the prophets but denies the apostleship of our Prophet Muhammad. And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq said: He who denies the least among us is like him who denies (the claims of) the first among us.
And the Prophet said: The Imams after me are twelve, the first of them is the Prince of Believers ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, and the last of them is the Mahdi (rightly-guided), the Qa’im (the upholder of the true religion); obedience to them is obedience to me and disobedience to them is disobedience to me; and he who denies one of them has verily denied me.
And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq said: He who doubts in the infidelity (kufr) of our enemies who have wronged us is himself an infidel (kafir).
And the Prince of Believers said: Ever since I was born I have always been wronged. When ‘Aqil used to suffer from ophthalmia7 (rarnad), he used to say: Do not sprinkle eye-powder into my eyes, until you sprinkle it into ‘Ali’s, and they would do so although I had no ophthalmia.
And our belief concerning him who fought ‘Ali is that he was an unbeliever (kafir)8, on account of the saying of the Prophet, on whom be the blessings and peace of Allah: He, who fought ‘Ali, fought me; and he, who waged war on ‘Ali, waged war on me; and he, who waged war on me, did so against Allah. And (also) on account of his (Prophet’s) saying to ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn, peace on all of them: I am the enemy of those who wage war against you, and at peace with those who are at peace with you.
And as for Fatima, the blessings of Allah and His peace be on her, our belief is that she is the leader of the women of the world, both the earlier and the later ones.9 And verily Allah the Mighty and Glorious is wroth with him who evokes her anger, and is well pleased with him who pleases her, for He has weaned her and those who revere her from the Fire.
And she left the world displeased with those who had wronged her and usurped her rights, and denied her the inheritance left by her father. The Prophet said: Verily, Fatima is a part of myself; he who angers her has angered me, and he who gladdens her has gladdened me. And the Prophet said: Verily Fatima is a part of myself, and she is my spirit (ruh) which is between my two flanks.10 What displeases her displeases me, and what gladdens her gladdens me.
And our belief is that absolution is necessary in respect of the four idols (awthan)11 – Yaghuth, Ya’uq, Nasr, and Hubal, and the four (female) idols (andad12) al-Lat, ‘Uzza, Manat, and Shi’ra; also in respect of those who worship them, and all their partisans and followers. Verily these are the worst of Allah’s creatures, and the declaration (of belief in) Allah and His Messenger and of the Infallible Imams does not become complete without seeking absolution as regards their enemies.
- 1.So for أئِمَّة lit. “leaders”.
- 2.N erroneously يهدون instead of يَدْعُون
- 3.BHA, no. 185 (on p.68, “(4) Fourth . . .” is really paragraph 185), and no. 209 (p.78).
- 4.Reading as in D عاداك, not عاراك as in N.
- 5.Compare Fyzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, 70 -71. Equality of `Ali and the Prophet, BHA, p. 71, line 1. FC, nos. 40 – 45.
- 6.FC, nos. 48 -49; the original Arabic is clear, but the summary is too brief to be explicit. KP, xl and references; Donaldson, 351- 356.
- 7.Reading with D فيقول لا تذَّروني حتى تذُرُّوا عليَّا فيذروني ; N لا تدروني حتى تدوروا علياً فيدروني.
- 8.Reading with D اعتقادنا فيمن قاتل عليَّا فإنه كافر بقول النبي ص إلخ; اعتقادنا فيمن قاتل علياً [فإنه كافرٌ] قوله ص إلخ.
- 9.Among the Shiites, Fitima is the noblest of women. Among the Sunnites, there are various views: Was. Abi Hanifa – Khadija, `A’isha, all others (MC, 130, par. 24). al-Baghdadi says that after Khadija there is a difference of opinion as regards `A’isha or Fatima; but he finally lays down the following order: Fatima, Khadija, `A’isha, Umm Salama. For Hafsa (daughter of `Umar), see MC, 183-184, It may generally be said that among the Shi’a the first place is always given to Fatima whereas among the Sunnis there is much divergence, although between Fatima and Khadija the honours seem to be very even. See s.v. Fatima, Khadija, and `A’isha in Wensinck’s Handbook.
- 10.بَيْنَ جَنْبَيْ appears to be an expressions which implies that Fatima was as close to the Prophet as his own body.
- 11.Qur’an 71, 23 where Hubal is not mentioned, see MB, s.v.هبل.
- 12.D. B. Macdonald, s.v. Allah in EI, i. 302; see Qur’an 53, 19 -20 and 49 where Shi’ra is mentioned.
Concerning Dissimulation (Taqiyya)
Says the Shaykh, may the mercy of Allah be on him: Our belief concerning taqiya1 (permissible dissimulation) is that it is obligatory, and he who forsakes it is in the same position as he who forsakes prayer.2 Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was told: O son of the Messenger of Allah, verily we see in the mosque one who openly abuses your enemies, calling out their names. And he said: May Allah curse him! Why does he refer to us? He, Who is Exalted above all, says:
“Revile not those who invoke (deities) other than Allah, lest wrongfully they revile Allah through ignorance” (Qur’an 6:108).
And Imam Ja’far in explaining this verse has said: So do not revile them, lest they revile your ‘Ali. And he also said: He who reviles the friend (wali) of Allah (i.e. Ali) has reviled Allah. And the Prophet said: He who reviles thee, O ‘Ali, has verily reviled me; and he, who reviles me, has verily reviled Allah.
Now until the Imam al-Qa’im appears, taqiya is obligatory and it is not permissible to dispense with it. He, who abandons it before the appearance of the Qa’im, has verily gone out of the religion of Allah, Exalted is He, and the religion of the Imams, and disobeys Allah and His Messenger and the Imams. Imam Ja’far was asked concerning the Word of Allah, Mighty and Glorious is He:
“Verily the noblest among you, in the sight of Allah, is the most pious” (Qur’an 49:13).
He said: (It means) he who adheres most scrupulously to the practice of taqiya.
And Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, has described the showing of friendship to unbelievers as being (possible only) in the state of taqiya. And He the Mighty and Glorious says:
“Let not believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, for fear of being killed” (Qur’an 3:28).3
And Allah the Mighty and Glorious says:
“Allah doth not forbid you to deal with kindness and fairness toward those who have not made war upon you on account of your religion, or driven you forth from your homes: for Allah loveth those who act with fairness (Qur’an 60:8).”
“Only Allah doth forbid you to make friends of those who, on account of your religion, have warred against you, and have driven you forth from your homes, and have aided those who drove you forth: and whoever maketh friends of them are wrong-doers” (Qur’an 60:9)
And Imam Ja’far said: Verily, I hear a man abusing me in the mosque; and I hide myself behind a pillar so that he may not see me. And he (Imam Ja’far) said: Mix with the people (enemies) outwardly, but oppose them inwardly, so long as the Amirate (imratun) is a matter of opinion.4 And he also said: Verily diplomacy (arri’a’) with a true believer is a form of shirk (polytheism); but with a hypocrite (munafiq) in his own house, it is worship.
And he also said: He who prays with them (hypocrites) standing in the first row, it is as though he prayed with the Prophet in the first row. And he also said: Visit their sick and attend their funerals and pray in their mosques. And he also said: (You should) become an ornament for us, and not a disgrace. And he said: May Allah have mercy on a person who inculcates friendship towards us among men, and does not provoke ill will among them.
The storytellers (qassasun) were mentioned before Imam Ja’far, and he said: May Allah curse them, for they speak ill of us. And he was asked concerning the storytellers, whether it is permissible to hear what they say, and he said: No. And Imam Ja’far said: He, who gives ear to a speaker, has verily rendered himself submissive to him; if the speaker (discourses) concerning Allah, then the listener has verily worshipped Allah, and if he speaks of the devil, then the listener has worshipped the devil.
And Imam Ja’far was asked concerning the Word of Allah, Exalted is He above all:
“As for the poets, the erring follow them” (Qur’an 26:224).
He said: These are the storytellers.
- 1.In the Delhi edition ch. 39 deals with “the ancestors of the Prophet” and ch.40, with taqiya.
For a general account see R. Strothmann on taqiya in EI, iv. 628, where it is rendered “disguise” and in its technical sense “dispensation from the requirements of religion under compulsion or threat of injury”. Professor Browne renders it “prudential concealment”, Per. Lit., iv. 17. Numerous instances of taqiya are mentioned by Donaldson (see Index). MC, 107. The tradition books are full of taqiya in the chapters of al-amr bi’1-ma’ruf wa’n-nahy `anil-munkar, Wasa’il, ii. 467; Mustadrak, ii. 357 sqq. It is also recognized among Isma’ilis, KP, 67; at p.96 fasting is explained allegorically as keeping the tenets of true religion secret from others. EC, no.49. In the Da’a’im and Mukhtasaru l-Athar of Qadi Nu`- man, vol. ii, Kitabu’l-ashriba, we have on the authority of Imam Ja’far التقيَّة ديني و دين آبائي في كل شيْ إلّا في تحريم المسكر، إلخ.
- 2.The Urdu translator explains that the real meaning of taqiya is the protection of the true religion from enemies by hiding it, in circumstances where there is fear of being killed or captured or insulted. But an essential condition is that on account of taqiya the true religion should not be destroyed, otherwise, it is not permissible. Similarly, the killing of a true believer (mu’min) is not taqiya,
- 3.So explained in MB. This phrase has been variously rendered: Palmer – “unless, indeed, ye fear from some danger from them”; Rodwell – “unless, indeed, ye fear a fear from them”; Pickthall- “taking (as it were) security”.
- 4.That is, until the rule of the rightful Imam is finally established. The Urdu rendering: – “So long as the matter remains in the hearts of men” is erroneous.
The Ancestors Of The Prophet
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far: Our belief concerning them is that they were believers (muslimun) from Adam down to Abdu’l-lah, his (Prophet’s) father, peace be on him, and that Abu Talib and the Prophet’s mother Amina bint Wahb were Muslims.1
And the Prophet, on whom be blessings and peace said: I am derived from (the bonds of) matrimony and not from any unlawful union (sifah), from Adam downwards.
And it is related that ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib, peace be on him, was a hujjat and Abu Talib was his wasi.
- 1.The Urdu translator adds a note that among the ancestors of the Prophet were seven prophets, namely: Adam, Seth, Noah, Elias, Abraham, Ishmael and al-Yasa` (Esau?); and he cites Qur’an 6, 83-86 as supporting his own argument. He also cites a verse attributed to Abu Talib proving that he was a Muslim: “(O people of Quraysh) do you not know that we have found it written down in the earliest book (Torah) that Muhammad was a prophet”. The translator is surprised that despite such clear proof people should hold other views.
Wensinck shows that in the Fiqh Akbar II, art. 27 sometimes began with the statement: The parents of the Apostle of Allah died as infidels, and so did Abu Talib, his uncle, MC, 197, n. 1. In the hadith the Prophet is reported to have visited Abu Talib on his death-bed and admonished him to accept Islam. Later, however, perhaps on account of Shi’itic influence, this attitude was abandoned, MC, 239-240; KP, 31,84. For Abu Talib, see Donaldson, 5, n.2.
Concerning The Alids (‘alawiya)
Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far, the mercy of Allah upon him: Our belief concerning the Alids (‘alawiya) is that they are the progeny of the Messenger of Allah, and that devotion to them is obligatory, because it is the requital of his apostleship. Says Allah, Exalted is He:
“Say (O Muhammad, unto mankind): I ask of you no requital therefor, save loving – kindness of (my) kinsfolk” (Qur’an 42:23).1
The acceptance of sadaqa2 is forbidden to them, because it is the dirt contained in the hands of the people. And there is no purification3 for them (the people) save what they give to their (sadat’s) slaves and slave-girls, or to one another. But as for the khumus, this is permitted to them in lieu of the zakat, which was forbidden to them.
And our belief concerning those (sadat or ‘alawiya) who act sinfully is that they will be punished doubly, and those who do good acts among them will receive a double reward. They are all equal to one another in view of the Prophet’s saying, when he looked at the sons of Abu Talib, namely ‘Ali and Ja’far Tayyar: Our daughters are like our sons, and our sons, like our daughters. Imam Ja’far said: He who disobeys the religion of Allah and be-friends His enemies or shows enmity towards His friends, complete dissociation (bara’a) from him is obligatory (wajib), whoever he may happen to be and to whichever tribe he may happen to belong.
The Prince of Believers, ‘Ali, told his son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiya: Your courtesy, due to innate nobility, is more excellent than mere noble lineage.4 Imam Ja’far said: My devotion (walaya) towards the Prince of Believers is dearer to me than my descent from him. Imam Ja’far was asked concerning the family (al) of the Prophet Muhammad, and he replied that the family of Muhammad were (those close relations who were) forbidden to him (the Prophet) in marriage.5
And the Glorious and Mighty says: “And verily We sent Noah and Abraham and placed the prophethood and the Scripture among their seed; so among them is he who goeth right but many of them are evil-livers” (Qur’an 57:26)
Imam Ja’far was asked concerning the saying of Allah the Mighty and Glorious:
“And then We gave the Scripture as inheritance unto those of our servants whom We elected. But of them are some who wrong themselves and of them are some who are lukewarm6, and of them are some who outstrip (others) through good deeds, by Allah’s leave” (Qur’an 35:32).
He said: By those “who wrong themselves” (zalim) are meant those who do not recognize the right of the Imam; and by “the lukewarm (middling, fair)” (muqtasid) are meant those who know his right; and by those “who outstrip (others) by good deeds, by Allah’s leave” are meant the Imams.
Imam Ja’far was asked by his son Isma’il: What will be the condition of the sinners among us? He said:
“It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor the desires of the People of the Scripture. He who doeth wrong will have the recompense thereof, and will not find against Allah any protecting friend or helper” (Qur’an 4:123).
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir in a lengthy tradition says: There is no relationship between Allah and any one else. Verily the person most liked among them in the sight of Allah is the most God-fearing, and one who acts most obediently to Him. I swear by Allah, no man can approach Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, except through obedience.
We possess no immunity from the Fire, and not one of us has an argument which will prevail against Allah. He who is obedient to Allah is a friend to us; and he who is disobedient to Allah is an enemy to us. No one can reach (us) except through piety and good deeds. And Noah said:
“My Lord! Lo! My son is of my household! Surely Thy promise is the truth and Thou art the most just of Judges. “He said: O Noah! Lo! He is not of thy household; lo! he is of evil conduct, so ask not of Me that whereof thou hast no knowledge. I admonish thee lest thou be among the ignorant. “He said: My Lord! in Thee do I seek refuge (from the sin) that I should ask of Thee that whereof I have no knowledge. Unless Thou forgive me and have mercy on me I shall be among the lost” (Qur’an 11:45-47).
And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was asked concerning the saying of Allah the Mighty and Glorious:
“And on the Day of Resurrection thou (O Muhammad) seest those who lied concerning Allah with their faces blackened. Is not the house of the scorners in Hell?” (Qur’an 39:60).
He said: (This refers to him) who claims to be Imam, without being one, even if he were an Alid and a Fatimid.7 And Imam Ja’far told his companions: There is no difference between you and those who oppose you save “that which is concealed” (al-mudmar).
He was asked: And what is “that which is concealed”? He said: That which you call absolution (bara’a). Now as for him who opposes you and his neighbor (jar), seek absolution in respect of him even if he were an Alid and a Fatimid.
And he (Imam Ja’far) spoke to his companions concerning his son ‘Abdu’l-lah: He does not follow (the religion) which you follow, and verily I have nothing to do with him. May Allah the Mighty and Glorious have nothing to do with him.
- 1.The Urdu translator is explaining the word qurba (kinsfolk) says: It is related in the Tafsir Majma’u’l-Bayan on the authority of Imam Zaynu’1-`Abidin and others that the expression qurba meant the progeny of the Prophet. Similar traditions are also related on the authority of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq and Imim Muhammad al-Bagir. Said b. Jubayr relates on the authority of `Abdu’1-lih b. `Abbis that when this verse of mawadda was revealed several companions of the Prophet asked him who the people towards whom devotion was enjoined. The Prophet replied that it referred to `All and Fitima and their descendants. On walaya, see note 258, page 149.
- 2.The Urdu translator explains that apart from the descendants of ‘Ali and Fatima (sadat), even those who are descendants of Hishim are forbidden to take sadaqa (charity) from a non-Hashimite. And obviously sadat are nobler and more excellent than them.
- 3.Reading with N لأنها أوساخ في أيدي الناس و لا طهارة لهم إلا صدقتهم إلخ; D omits لا.
- 4.Lit. “Your courtesy on account of your nobility is more noble for you than the nobility of (that is, the nobility which you inherit from) your forefathers”. Here a distinction is drawn between personal nobility born of one’s own sense of courtesy and modesty, and the nobility due to lineage and ancestry. The play upon the word شرف is to be noted.
- 5.This is omitted in D.
- 6.This expression also means “fair, middling”.
- 7.N من زعم انه امام و ليس بامام قبل و إن كان علوياً فاطمياً; D و إن كان علوياً قال و إن كان علوياً و فاطمياً (sic) من زعم… بامام قل.
Concerning Reports Detailed And Summary
Says the Shaykh: Our belief concerning the detailed reports is that they take precedence over the summary ones, according to the saying of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, on whom be peace.1
- 1.These are canons of hadith criticism and hardly to be expected in a creed.
Concerning Prohibition And Permission
Says the Shaykh: Our belief concerning this is that unless there is a specific prohibition all things are permitted.1
- 1.Reading as in N: يطيب بذلك (أنفسهم فسمّى البيب طبيباً بذلك) و أصل الكب التداوي إلخ ; D omits the words in brackets.
Concerning The Reports Regarding Medicine
Says the Shaykh: Our belief as regards the reports handed down about medicine (at-tib) is that they are of various kinds.
Some of them have reference to the climatic conditions of Mecca and Medina, and are therefore not applicable to other conditions.
Some are reports from an expert based on his knowledge of the physical condition of the questioner (patient), not living far from his place, inasmuch as he (the ‘alim) knew the condition of the questioner better than the questioner himself.
Some have been wrongfully interpolated in the books by opponents to show up the religion in false colors.
And among them are some regarding which the reporter has fallen into an error.
And among them are others concerning which something is remembered and something forgotten.
And what is related about honey (‘asal), that it is the remedy for all diseases, is correct. It’s meaning is that it is a remedy for all diseases due to cold (barid). And what is related concerning purification (after excretion) by cold water, for him who suffers from piles, applies only in the case of a patient whose piles are due to heat (harara).
And what is related concerning brinjal (badinjan) as a curative agent, applies surely in the case of a person who eats dates at the time when they are ripening, and not at other times.
And as for the most effective of medicines for diseases, as reported from the Imams, on whom be peace, they are the verses of the Qur’an and its chapters and prayers, contained in reports, which are handed down by trustworthy authorities and through reliable channels.
Imam Ja’far said: In times past, a physician (tabib) used to be called mu’alij (one who cures). Musa bin ‘Imran said: O Lord, from whom does disease originate? He (Allah) said: From Me. Musa said: And from whom does medicine come? Allah said: From Me.
Musa said: And why do the people have the mu’alij (physician)? Allah said: In order to please themselves. And for this reason the physician is called tabib. And the real meaning of at-tib is to treat one’s self medically (tadawa).
In the niche (mihrab) of David, on whom be peace, a kind of grass used to grow every day, and it used to say: Take me, for verily I shall be useful for such and such a thing. At the end of his life, David saw a grass growing in his mihrab and he said to it: What is thy name? And the grass replied: I am the kharubiya. And David said: The mihrab is ruined. And thereafter nothing would grow in it.
The Prophet, on whom be the peace and blessings of God, said: He whom (the sura) al-Hamd (Fatiha) does not cure, may Allah not cure him.
Concerning Two Divergent Traditions
Says the Shaykh, the mercy of Allah be upon him: Our belief concerning the authentic reports (akhbar) related from the Imams is that they accord with the Book of Allah, being in agreement with its meaning and not divergent from it, because they are the result of inspiration from Allah, Glory be to Him. If they were derived from (someone) other than Allah, they would surely have been divergent.
The outward form of the reports differ only on account of certain reasons. For instance, (in one report) the expiation for zihar is laid down as the manumission of a slave; in another report we have the performance of fasts for two consecutive months; and in a third report we have the feeding of sixty destitute persons. Now all these are correct.
Fasting is prescribed for him who has no slave to free; and feeding (the poor) is prescribed for him who is unable to fast. It has also been reported that he should give sadaqa (charity) to the extent that he can, and this applies to him who has not the means to feed (sixty persons).
And among (such traditions) are those in which one takes the place of the other. For instance, what has been related regarding the expiation of an oath:
“. . . the feeding of ten of the needy ones with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk, or the clothing of them, or the liberation of a slave, and he who findeth not (the wherewithal to do so), he must fast for three days.” (Qur’an 5:89).
Now when three traditions are reported concerning the expiation of an oath – firstly, feeding; secondly, clothing; and thirdly, the manumission of a slave – they are regarded by the ignorant as differing from one another. In fact they are not divergent, but each one of these is alternative to the other.
And among the reports handed down are some which are due to taqiya.
It is related on the authority of Sulaym bin Qays al-Hilali that he said to the Prince of Believers, peace be on him: Verily I have heard from Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dharr some explanations of the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet different from what are generally known to the people.1 And I have heard from you a corroboration of what I heard from them.
And I know that there are many things current among the people regarding the explanation of the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet, to which you (the Imams) are opposed, and you assert that all that is false. Is it possible that the people attribute a lie2 to the Prophet of Allah deliberately, and give explanations according to their own opinions?
(The reporter) says: And ‘Ali, on whom be peace, said: You have asked (a question), so now hearken to its reply. Verily the people at large possess the truth and the falsehood; the abrogating (nasikh) and the abrogated (mansukh) verses; the special and the general; the definite (muhkam) and the ambiguous (mutashabih); the well remembered (hifz) and the doubtful (wahm).
Even in the lifetime of the Prophet, on whom be peace, people attributed to the Prophet things which were not true, until (matters reached such a stage that) he rose to address the people and said: O people, the number of perjurers against me has increased; now he who speaks a falsehood against me intentionally, let him prepare3 for himself a place in Hell. Thereafter falsehoods were told against him after his death.
All traditions have come to you from one of four sources, and there is not a fifth. First, the hypocrite (munafiq) professing the faith, simulating Islam,4 who does not regard it as a sin, and does not care if he speaks an untruth against the Prophet intentionally. Now if people knew that he was a mendacious hypocrite, they would neither have accepted anything from him, nor would they have considered him truthful.
But they said: Here is a man who associated with the Messenger of Allah5 and who saw and heard him. Therefore they accepted (traditions) from him, not knowing his real attitude. And Allah has given tidings regarding the hypocrites and described them with clarity. For He says, Great is He as a Speaker:
“And when thou seest them, their figures please thee; and if they speak thou givest ear unto their speech. (They are) as though they were blocks of wood in striped cloaks” (Qur’an 63:4).6
They (the hypocrites) then split up in factions after the Prophet, and found favor7 with the leaders of destruction and inviters towards the Fire, by means of deception and falsehood and calumny. They assigned them offices,8 enjoyed the wealth of the world through them and bore them (hypocrites) upon the necks of people. For people, generally – save those whom Allah has protected9 -follow the kings and the worldly path. This is the first of the four types.
(The second is) the man who hears something from the Prophet but does not remember it precisely. He then falls into an error concerning it, without intentionally telling a lie. Now this (tradition) is with him; he professes it, acts according to it, and relates it to others and says: I heard it from the Messenger of Allah. If people knew that this was a mistake, they would not accept it, and if he himself knew that it was an error, he would certainly have cast it off.
The third is the man who hears the Prophet commanding a certain act, which, unknown to him, was later forbidden. Or (he hears the Prophet) forbidding an act, which was later, unknown to him, permitted. Hence he remembers the abrogated, but not the abrogating (command). Now if he knew that it was abrogated, he would surely have rejected it; and similarly if the people knew that what was heard from the relator was an abrogated command, they too would surely have rejected it.
The fourth is the man who does not give the lie to Allah and His Prophet, because he hates falsehood and fears Allah the Mighty and Glorious, and honors the Messenger of Allah. He does not forget it, but commits to memory precisely what he hears. So he brings forward what he has heard, without any increase or decrease. If he knew the abrogating and the abrogated (command), he would act in accordance with the abrogating and would reject the abrogated (injunction).
Now the commands of the Prophet, like those of the Qur’an, are abrogating (nasikh) and abrogated (mansukh), special (khass) and general (‘am), definite (muhkam) and ambiguous (mutashabih). And there may be words related from the Prophet bearing two meanings, a general and a particular one, exactly as in the case of the Qur’an. Allah the Mighty and Glorious says in His Book:
“And whatsoever the Messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it)” (Qur’an 59:7).
Now what Allah and His Messenger mean10t remained ambiguous to those who did not know. Not all the Companions of the Prophet questioned or tried to understand him, for among them were those who neither questioned, nor understood him;11 for Allah forbade them from questioning when He said:
“O ye who believe! Ask not of things which, if they were made known to you, would trouble you; but if ye ask of them when the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be made known unto you. Allah pardoneth this, for Allah is Forgiving, Clement. A folk before you asked (for such disclosures) and they disbelieved therein” (Qur’an 5:101-102).
So they were forbidden from questioning to such an extent that they were glad if a desert Arab would come and ask, and they would listen.
I (‘Ali) used to visit the Messenger of Allah, habitually,12 every night and every day in strict privacy, when he used to answer me concerning what I asked, and I used to go about him wherever he went. The companions of the Messenger of Allah knew (full well) that he did not act in this manner with anyone else. And this (private conversation) would often take place in my house.
And whenever I would visit him at some of his resting-places, he would arrange for being alone with me and ask his wives to leave, so that no one would remain except he and I. And when he would come to me in private, he would ask everyone to withdraw except Fatima or one of my two sons, and when questioned he would answer me. And when I would remain silent and my questions would be exhausted, he would begin himself.
So that nothing was revealed to the Prophet of the verses of the Qur’an, or taught to him by Allah, Exalted is He, concerning what was lawful and what was forbidden, command or prohibition, obedience or sin, things past or future but he would teach it to me and make me read it, or dictate it to me and I would write it down in my own hand. He would explain to me its true meaning (ta’wil), and its apparent and hidden significance (zahir, batin), and I would commit it to memory and would not forget even a letter of it.
Whenever the Messenger of Allah used to instruct me, he would place his hand on my chest and say: O Lord! Fill his mind (qalb) with knowledge, understanding, light, forbearance and belief (iman); teach him and do not let him remain ignorant; cause him to remember and not to forget. I said to him one day: May my father and mother be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah!
Do you fear forgetfulness (on my part)? And he said: O my brother! I fear neither forgetfulness nor ignorance on your part. Allah the Mighty and Glorious has informed me that he has accepted (my prayers) concerning you (‘Ali) and your associates, who will come after you.
And I said: O Messenger of Allah, who are my associates? And he said: Those, obedience to whom has been coupled by Allah, with obedience to Himself and obedience to me (Prophet). And I said: Who are they, O Messenger of Allah? And he said: They concerning whom’ Allah has said:
“O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those of you who are in authority” (Qur’an 4:59).
And I said: O Messenger of Allah, who are they? He said: They are the awsia’ (executors) who will be executors after me. They will not separate until they come to me at my Pond (hawd), rightly-guiding and rightly-guided. The deceit of those that deceive will not injure them, nor the desertion of those that desert them.13
They (the Imams) are with the Qur’an, and the Qur’an is with them; they will not forsake it (the Qur’an) and it will not forsake them. By them (Imams) will my community (umma) be guided, and by them will they be benefited,14 and by them will calamity be averted, and through them will their prayers be heard.
And I (‘Ali) said: O Messenger of Allah, name them to me He said: “You, O ‘Ali, then this, my son” – and he put his hand on the head of Hasan. “And then this, my son” – and he put his hand on the head of Husayn. “Then your namesake, O brother, he is the leader of the devotees; then his son, named Muhammad, the Opener (baqir) of my knowledge, and the treasurer of the inspiration of Allah. O brother, ‘Ali (Zaynu’l-Abidin) will be born in your lifetime, so give my greetings to him. And Muhammad (al-Baqir) will be born in your lifetime, O Husayn, so give my greetings to him.
And then Ja’far (as-Sadiq), then Musa (al-Kazim) bin Ja’far, then ‘Ali (ar-Rida) bin Musa, then Muhammad (at-Taqi) bin ‘Ali, then ‘Ali (an-Naqi) bin Muhammad, then Hasan az-Zaki (al-‘Askari) bin ‘Ali, then he, whose name is my name and whose color is my color – the upholder of the Command of Allah (al-qa’im bi-amri’l-lah) in the final era, the Righteous Guide, who will fill the earth with justice and equity, just as now it is full of oppression and wrong.15
I swear by Allah, O Sulaym,16 that people will swear allegiance to him between the Pillar (Rukn) and the Place (Maqam),17 and I know the names of the people who will support him and I know their tribes.18
Sulaym bin Qays said: Later on I met Hasan and Husayn at Medina after Mu’awiya began to reign, and I related them this story from their father. Both of them said: You speak the truth. The Prince of Believers had related this story to you, while we were sitting, and we remembered this from the Messenger of Allah as you relate it, and not a word has been added or subtracted.19
And Sulaym bin Qays said: I then met ‘Ali bin al-Husayn (Zaynu’l-‘Abidin), on whom be peace, and his son Muhammad al-Baqir was with him, and I related to him what I had heard from his father, and he (‘Ali) said20: I heard it from the Prince of Believers, who in turn had it from the Messenger of Allah, while he was ill and I was a boy. Then Abu Ja’far (Muhammad al-Baqir) said: And when my grandfather gave me the Prophet’s greetings I was a boy.
Aban bin Abi ‘Ayyash said: I related the whole of this story, as related by Sulaym bin al-Qays al-Hilali, to Imam ‘Ali bin al-Husayn, and he said: He (Sulaym) spoke the truth. Jabir bin ‘Abdullah al-Ansari happened to meet my son, Muhammad al-Baqir, while he was attending school, and he kissed him and gave him the greeting of the Messenger of Allah.
Abin bin Abi ‘Ayyash said: I went to the Hajj after the death of Imam ‘Ali bin al-Husayn (Zaynu’l-‘Abidin), and I met Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, and I related to him the whole of this story, as related by Sulaym bin Qays, and his eyes filled with tears21 and he said: Sulaym, may the mercy of Allah be upon him, spoke the truth.
Sulaym had come to my father after my grandfather al-Husayn was slain, and I was present when he related this story exactly in the same manner and my father said to him: By Allah, you have spoken the truth, O Sulaym. My father had related to me this story from the Prince of Believers.
(Says the Shaykh Abu Ja’far:) In the Book of Allah, the Mighty and Glorious, there are verses which the ignorant will find inconsistent with, and contrary to, one another. But in fact they are not so. For instance, His saying, Exalted is He:
“So this day We have forgotten them even as they forgot the meeting of this (their) day” (Qur’an 7:51) and His saying: “They forgot Allah, so He hath forgotten them” (Qur’an 9:67).
Thereafter He says: “And thy Lord is not forgetful” (Qur’an 19:64).22
And similarly His saying:
“On the day when the Spirit and the angels will stand arrayed, they speak not, saving him whom the Beneficent alloweth and who speaketh right “ (Qur’an 78:38).23
And the like of His saying:
“Then on the Day of Resurrection ye will deny each other and curse each other” (Qur’an 29:25), and His saying:
“Lo! that is the very truth; the wrangling of the dwellers in the Fire” (Qur’an 38:64).
And then He will say:
“Contend not in My presence, when I had already proffered unto you the warning” (Qur’an 50:28).
And His saying, Exalted is He:
“This day We seal up their mouths, and their hands shall speak out and their feet shall bear witness as to what they (their possessors) used to earn” (Qur’an 36:65).
And the like of His saying:
“That day will faces be resplendent, looking forward toward their Lord” (Qur’an 75:22-23).
Then says the Glorious and Mighty:
“The eyes see Him not, but He seeth the eyes24. He is the Subtle, the Aware” (Qur’an 6:103).
And His saying:
“And it is not (vouchsafed) to any mortal that Allah should speak to him unless (it be) by revelation or from behind a veil” (Qur’an 42:51).
And then He says:
“And Allah spoke directly unto Moses” (Qur’an 4:164).
And He says:
“And their Lord called them, (saying): Did I not forbid you from that tree . . .” (Qur’an 7:22).
And the like of His saying, Exalted is He:
“And not an atom’s weight in the earth or in the sky escapeth your Lord, nor what is less than that or greater than that, but it is (written) in a clear book” (Qur’an 10:61).
And then He says:
“(And Allah) will not look upon them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He assoil25 them “ (Qur’an 3:77).
And then He says:
“Nay, but surely on that day they will be precluded26 from (the mercy of) their Lord” (Qur’an 83:15).
And the like of His saying:
“Have ye taken security from Him Who is in the Heaven that He will not cause the earth to swallow you when lo! it is convulsed” (Qur’an 67:16).
And His saying:
“The Beneficent One, Who is established on the Throne” (Qur’an 20:5).
Then He says:
“He is Allah in the heavens and the earth. He knoweth both your secret and your utterance, and He knoweth what ye earn” (Qur’an 6:3).
And He says:
“There is no secret conference of three but He is their fourth, nor of five but He is their sixth, nor of less than that or more, but He is with them wheresoever they may be” (Qur’an 58:7).
And He says, Exalted is He:
“We are nearer to him than his jugular vein” (Qur’an 50:16).
And Allah says:
“Wait they, indeed, for nothing less than that the angels should come to them, or thy Lord should come, or that there should come one of the portents from thy Lord!” (Qur’an 6:158).
And the like of His saying:
“Say: the angel of death, who hath charge concerning you, will gather you” (Qur’an 32:11).
And then He says:
“Our messengers (i.e. angels) receive him and they neglect not”27 (Qur’an 6:61).
And He says:
“Those whom the angels cause to die. (Qur’an 16:28,32); and says Allah, Exalted is He: “Allah receiveth (men’s) souls at the time of their death” (Qur’an 39:42).
And the likes of these verses abound in the Qur’an, concerning which one of the zindiqs28 asked the Prince of Believers, on whom be peace and blessings, and he explained the consistency of their significations and elucidated to him their real meaning (ta’wil).
I have extracted the tradition (khabar) concerning this, supporting it by a commentary, in the Kitabu’t-Tawhid,29 and I shall write a book specially concerning it by His Will and Help, Exalted is He.
- 1.Lit. “which are not in the hands of the people”.
- 2.Reading with D افترى الناس يكذبون الخ; and not as N أفترى يكذبون الخ.
- 3.Reading with N فليَتَبَوَّء; D err. فينبوَه.
- 4.Reading with N متصنّع not as in D متضع.
- 5.Reading with D هذا من صحب رسول الله ص.
- 6.خُشُبٌ مُسَنَّدَة is an expression which has been variously explained. Pickthall adds a variant to the above: “propped up blocks of wood”, which is more literal. Rodwell has “Like timbers are they leaning against a wall”. This verse was revealed in reference to `Abdu’1-lah and other hypocrites, who had fine strong bodies and eloquent tongues and sat reclining in the company of the Prophet.
- 7.Reading with D فَتَقَرَّبوا.
- 8.Reading with D العمَّال and not as in N الاعمال.
- 9.326. N من عَصَمَةُ الله; D err. من عصمة الله.
- 10.N ما عنى الله; D ما نهى الله.
- 11.Reading with D لأن فيهم قوماً ما كانوا يسئلونه الخ N has لأن فيهم قوما كانوا يسئلونه.
- 12.Read دُخْلَةً; not as in D دخلَة.
- 13.Reading with N خذلان من خذلهم.
- 14.Lit. “will receive rain”.
- 15.N كما ملئت قبله ظلماً و جوراً الخ. BHA, no. 211, p.79. compare Fyzee, Ismaili Law of Wills, 67 – 68. See p. 86 above.
- 16.Kashf, Rijal (Bombay ed_), 68 – 69.
- 17.By rukn is meant the Black Stone and magam means the Maqam Ibrahim.
- 18.Here ends `Ali’s long speech, beg. at p. 106.
- 19.D omits و لم ينقص منه حرفاً.
- 20.Reading with D فقال سمعت عن أمير المؤمنين عن رسول الله و هو مريض الخ; N و ما سمعت عن أمير المؤمنين. There is some confusion in N; the dropping of the word فقال does not make the sense regular.
- 21.Reading fa ighrawragat, إفعوعل (xii) of غرق.
- 22.The Urdu translator explains that in the first two verses 7, 49 and 9, 68; the meaning of the word نسيان is جزاىء نسيان that is “the punishment of forgetfulness” whereas in the last verse 19, 65; the word means “forgetfulness” – thus there is no inconsistency.
- 23.The Urdu translator adds a footnote: In this verse the words لا يتكلمون ,etc. (78, 38) means this, that no one will intercede except those who are permitted by Allah; and the words ثم يوم القيامة etc. (29, 24) mean that some will describe others as unbelievers and curse them. Therefore the inconsistency appears to be chat in one verse there is prohibition of speaking, whilst in the other, permission to do so is patent. Now in reality this is not so. From the first verse it is clear that generally every one is not allowed to intercede; and from the second it appears that people who are consigned to Hell will speak ill of one another. Hence there is no inconsistency in the two verses.
- 24.So Lane, which I have adopted; and not Pickthall who has: Vision comprehendeth Him not, but He comprehendeth (all) vision.
- 25.So Rodwell. Pickthall has: Make them grow.
- 26.Lit. “covered from” (Pickthall) or “shut out as by a veil” ( Rodwell), which is even more literal.
- 27.This means that the angels, ordered to take the life of a man, carry out their instructions without fail.
- 28.Zindiq is a very interesting word; it may generally be rendered as a “dangerous heretic”. Its derivation from Aram. Sadiq, “friend”, as proposed by Prof. A. A. Bevan (Browne, Lit His Per i. 159 – 160; Nicholson, Lit. His. Arabia, 375, n. 2) is apparently not accepted by modern scholars like Prof. L. Massignon, s.v. Zindiq, EI, iv. 1228.
- 29.See Tawhid, p.114 sqq.