Select Hadith of the Imam

Hadith of Imam Al-Rida

It is not possible here to recount all the ahadith dealing with various fields of knowledge, the intellect, and history, that have...

It is not possible here to recount all the ahadith dealing with various fields of knowledge, the intellect, and history, that have reached us through Imam al-Rida (A.S.), but this does not stop us from quoting some ahadith which contain some objective wisdom in the areas of the creed, the legislative system, and history.

The hadith of Imam al-Rida (A.S.) contains precious jewels and invaluable treasures in which man senses the depth of the idea, the magnificence of tafsir, the beauty of performance, without an artificial manner of expression, nor the ambiguity of meaning nor stubbornness in instruction. When he is asked about the reasonable comprehension of some ahadith of the Prophet (S.A.W.) in which a cloud of ambiguity hovers above their narration, he defines their actual objective with flexibility and ease, as if hadith has no other connotation except the one he provides.

Some asked him about the meaning of this tradition: "My companions are like the stars: If you follow any of them, you shall receive guidance," and another one saying, "Leave my companions to me." Both of these traditions are considered by Sunnis as the foundation of their generalization of their judgement regarding all companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.), thus justifying even their acts which contradicted Islamic justice, calling what they could not justify as "an error in ijtihad." But the Imam (A.S.) provides us with the actual explanation of these and other such ahadith with honesty and integrity, outlining in an easy manner their exact meaning. In his answer regarding the first tradition, he said, "Yes; he did say this hadith, meaning thereby the companions who did not make any alteration after him or any change." He was asked, "How can you tell that they altered and changed?" He said, "This is due to what is reported about him (S.A.W.) that he said, `Certain individuals among my companions will be forcibly pushed away from my Pool (of Kawthar) on the Day of Judgement just as strange camels are pushed away from the watering place, and I shall cry, `O Lord! My companions! My companions!' and it shall be said to me, `You do not know what innovations they invented after you,' so they will be pushed away towards the left side (where Hell is), and I shall say, `Away with them; ruined they shall be.'" The Imam continued to say, "Such will be the penalty of those who alter and change (hadith)."

This hadith is narrated, with a minor variation in its wording, by al-Bukhari who quotes Abdullah ibn Mas'ood citing the Prophet (S.A.W.) saying, "I shall be the first to reach the Pool, then the souls of some men among you will be raised and they shall be prohibited from coming near me, and I shall say, `Lord! These are my companions!' And it shall be said to me, `You do not know what they did after you...'"1 A number of huffaz and narrators of hadith reported this tradition in various wordings which maintained the same contextual meaning, proving thus that it is consecutive according to them.

The Imam (A.S.), through his frank and proven answer, saved us the effort to look for lame excuses for the flagrant transgressions in which a number of the sahaba fell, and from far-fetched arificialities to justify the errors of conduct which they deliberately committed with determination and which the same huffaz could not justify except by saying that they were cases of "mistaken ijtihad" which, according to them, did not contradict the justice expected of them, having been pressed by their attempt to attribute absolute justice to the sahabi no matter what he did...

A companion (sahabi) of the Prophet (S.A.W.) who was distinguished with the honour of being so close to the Prophet (S.A.W.) is one who is the custodian over the fruits of the Message and a protector of its structure through his faith and deeds. He is a man who ought to be taken as a model of conduct. He is a man, as the Imam (A.S.) used to say, who does not alter or change any of the statements of the Prophet (S.A.W.). As regarding those who altered and changed, these cannot be awarded a unique distinction, just because they were companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.), which raised them above other Muslims simply because they were not up to par with the level of responsibility of being honest, which is expected of them, to carry out after the demise of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the cessation of wahi from coming to this world.

The hadith which the Imam (A.S.) narrated about Ibn Mas'ood, and which is recorded by a number of those who learned the Holy Qur'an and hadith by heart in their books is considered as an explanation of this hadith and an explanation of its connotation. Moreover, it puts the sahaba on equal footing with the others in subjecting their behaviour to criticism and discussion, and it shatters the self-immunity which was granted to them in accordance to Prophetic statements manufactured by a number of huffaz and traditionists without permitting themselves or others to discuss but take for granted.

In another hadith, the Imam (A.S.) proves to us, through a clear statement by the Prophet (S.A.W.), that some individuals who were regarded as sahaba were not actually so, which shatters all the excuses used only to justify the mistakes and transgression committed by them. For example, Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Taliqani reported that a man in Khurasan swore by divorce that Mu'awiya was not among the true companions of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.), and this happened when Imam al-Rida (A.S.) was present there. The jurists there issued their verdict that the man had actually divorced his wife, and the Imam (A.S.) was asked to provide his own opinion in this regard. He decided that that man's wife was not divorced; therefore, those jurists wrote a statement and sent it to him. In it, they asked him, "How did you come to say, O son of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.), that the woman was not to be divorced?" He wrote down on the same sheet saying, "It is so because of what you yourselves narrate from Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri quoting the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) saying about those who accepted Islam on the day of opening Mecca, when he was surrounded by a large number of people, `You are good; my companions are good; and there shall be no migration after this Fath,' without including these (meaning Mu'awiya) among his companions." The jurists had to adopt the decision of the Imam (A.S.).

Thus did the Imam (A.S.) deny that Mu'awiya was a companion of the Prophet (S.A.W.), which claim used to surround the man with a halo of sanctity of his personality and which used to be used to justify the very serious transgressions he committed which left their terrible marks on the structure of the Islamic government since then, and to justify such transgressions by saying that he was a sahabi, and that as such whatever he did or said could not possibly cast a doubt about his justice, adding, "If we see the good aspect of his action missing, we may say that he attempted ijtihad, and he erred," even if such error was at the expense of the Prophetic Message itself...

If we accept this argument, we would be justifying all the transgressions and erroneous behavior of some companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.) regardless of their motives or horrible consequences. The transgressions of Mu'awiya and his norms of conduct, in which he departed from the line of the Islamic Message, and which agreed with the attitude of animosity towards Islam, and whose motives and impulses were reasons to cast doubts and suspicions, nobody is really obligated to defend and describe as within the Islamic Shari'a simply because they were the result of an erroneous ijtihad wherein the mujtahid is rewarded with one reward, due to his "immunity" which does not include Mu'awiya simply because the latter was not a companion of the Prophet (S.A.W.) but was just like any other Muslim whose conduct was subject to accountability and criticism, and the verdict in his regard is based on the anticipated results of his deeds.

The directive the Imam (A.S.) intended by denying that those who accepted Islam, including Mu'awiya, were not companions of the Prophet on the day when Mecca was conquered is one of the strongest and deepest of his directives, for he drew a line between the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his true companions on one side, and those who accepted Islam after the conquest of Mecca and under the pressure of a superior power and authority on the other hand. Had it not been for their feeling of their precarious situation versus the might of their opponent, realizing that they had no choice except to make asylum and submit to the word of Islam, they would have otherwise dealt with Islam in a quite different manner...

Al-Mamoon once asked him why the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.) is called the divider of Paradise and of Hell, and how that attribute came to be applied to him. The Imam (A.S.) in turn asked him, "O commander of the faithful! Have you not narrated from your father from his forefathers quoting Abdullah ibn Abbas saying that he had heard the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) saying, `Loving Ali (A.S.) is iman, and hating him is kufr?'" Al-Mamoon answered in the affirmative, so the Imam (A.S.) said, "If the distribution of Paradise and of Hell is done according to loving or hating him, then he is the distributor of Paradise and of Hell." Al-Mamoon then said, "May God never permit me to live after your demise, O father of al-Hassan! I testify that you are the heir of the knowledge of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.)."

Abul-Salt al-Harawi said, "After the Imam (A.S.) had gone back home, I came to visit him, and I said to him, `O son of the Messenger of God! What an excellent answer you have given the commander of the faithful!' He said, `O Abul-Salt! I spoke to him in the way he understood best, and I have heard my father telling hadith from his forefathers about Ali (A.S.) saying, `The Messenger of God (S.A.W.) said: `O Ali! You are the distributor of Paradise and Hell on the Day of Judgement; you say to Hell: `This is mine, and that is yours...'"

Al-Mamoon was probably unable to absorb the idea that the Imam (A.S.) was a direct distributor of Paradise and Hell, as his question to the Imam (A.S.) suggested; this is why he asked him, "O Abul-Hassan! Tell me about your grandfather the Commander of the Faithful (A.S.); in which way and in which sense is he distributor of Paradise and Hell, for I have been contemplating a lot about that...?" The answer of the Imam (A.S.) was realistic on its own grounds, and it does not contradict the statement he made to Abul-Salt in which he indicated that his distribution is direct, not just in meaning, and the Imam (A.S.) did not openly tell al-Mamoon that the distribution was not direct, but his wise statement was regarding the origin of being called as such.

In another narrative, he asked the Imam (A.S.) about the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.) as to why he did not restore Fadak to its rightful owners after becoming the caliph. He answered saying, "We are members of a family who, upon becoming rulers, do not take their rights from those who confiscated them. Should we become in charge of the Muslims, we shall rule them and restore their confiscated rights to them, but we do not do so for our own selves."

It is possible that the Imam (A.S.) did not openly wish to tell the inquirer that it was not realistic that al-Zahra (A.S.) should demand Fadak and that Fadak by itself did not represent something that valuable for the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.), and that they were not less generous than others in spending everything they had to look after the interests of the Muslims and safeguard their strength and unity in the face of the enemy from within or without. Demanding Fadak, then, was the starting point for proving that government rightfully belonged to the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) and it was the beginning of a reawakening campaign with an objective. Had it been successful, it would have caused very significant changes to the Islamic government and, accordingly, history would have been quite different.

When the role Fadak was expected to play in shaping the fate of the Islamic world, and there was no longer any further function for it, and the big motives for demanding it having ceased to exist, the stance of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) in its regard was now overturned after it became no more than the materialistic value it represented. But Fadak remained the symbol of the lost justice according to the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.); for al-Zamakhshari says in his Rabi' al-Abrar,

"Harun al-Rashid kept pressing Mousa ibn Ja'far (A.S.) to take Fadak back, and he kept refusing. When he insisted that he should, he said, `I shall not take it back except in its boundaries.' He asked him, `And what are its boundaries?' He said, `The first is Aden;' al-Rashid's face changed colour and he asked him, `And what is the second boundary?' He said, `Samarkand;' now his face started shaking in outrage. He asked him, `And what is the third boundary?' He said, `Africa;' and the caliph's face now turned black in anger, yet he asked him, `And what is the fourth boundary?' He said, `The ocean, and whatever is beyond the Caspian Sea and Armenia.' Harun al-Rashid then said, `There is nothing left for us; so, come and take my throne as well!' The Imam (A.S.) said, `I had told you before that if I defined its boundaries, you would refuse to give it back to me.'"

From this dialogue between Imam Mousa ibn Ja'far (A.S.) and Harun al-Rashid, we can comprehend the vast dimension of the significance of Fadak to Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.), and that it did not represent simply a piece of land and a few palm trees but a big missionary objective whose significance was linked to the significance of the Message itself in its connotation and depth.

Another person asked him about the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.) as to why people deserted him after knowing his distinction, his past feats, and the status he enjoyed in the eyes of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.). He answered, "They deserted him and favoured others to him after having come to know of his merits simply because he had killed a great number of their fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, and other relatives who defied God and His Messenger (S.A.W.); therefore, they kept their grudge against him inside their hearts and they did not like it when he became their ruler. They did not have grudge against anyone else as much as they had against him, for nobody else was so forceful in making jihad in the defense of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) as much as he was; so, they deserted him for someone else."

In his answer, the Imam (A.S.) was making the point that the nation deep down was still suffering from deviations the causes of which rested in the period of the foolish days of ignorance; otherwise, the removal of Imam Ali (A.S.) from the responsibility of government, despite the qualifications and merits he enjoyed, which raised him above anyone else in the nation, was not a natural matter necessitated by an innocent political mistake. It was the result of a move which knew its direction and whose indications became apparent during the moments when Ali's sword was dripping with the blood of the enemies of God, so much so that there was hardly a house in Arabia where Ali's sword did not cause a mourning.

The Prophet (S.A.W.) realized the seriousness of Ali's stance, the difficulty of the situation after his demise, and the dire consequences awaiting him due to his firm jihad in the Cause of God. The statements he (S.A.W.) made regarding Ali (A.S.), therefore, were meant to deter those who were waiting for a chance to get even with him. Had they not been veiled by grudges, and by his own glorious past, they would have been described as the beginning of the tragedy of justice and righteousness.

We cannot find a better explanation for the change in public opinion regarding Ali's stance after the death of the Prophet (S.A.W.) better than what Imam al-Rida (A.S.) provided. If we set aside the clear ahadith which named the Imam (A.S.) as the caliph succeeding the Prophet (S.A.W.) without any question, and we consulted the faculty of reason in all the criteria and logical orders it has to define for us the person who should succeed the Prophet (S.A.W.) as the caliph, the unavoidable outcome would certainly be none other than Ali (A.S.). Besides, had the grudges and the past not been the cause of the removal of Ali from the post of ruler, the question would have remained unanswered by any honest and equitable person.

Another person asked him, "Tell me, O son of the Messenger of God! Why didn't Ali ibn Abu Talib (A.S.) fight his enemies during the twenty-five years after the demise of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) as he did during the days of his caliphate?" He answered, "It is due to his following the example of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) who did not fight the polytheists of Mecca during the thirteen years after his Prophethood, or the ones in Medina during the nineteen months period of his stay; it is due to the number of his supporters being too small. Likewise, Ali (A.S.) did not engage himself in fighting his enemies because his own supporters were too few. Since the Prophethood of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) was not nullified by the fact that he did not make jihad during the period of thirteen years (in Mecca) and nineteen months (in Medina), the Imamate of Ali (A.S.) was not nullified because he did not perform jihad for twenty-five years, for the deterring factor in both examples was one and the same."

What the Imam (A.S.) has indicated here can be used as an answer to those who regarded the peaceful stance taken by the Imam (A.S.) towards his opponents for twenty-five years as an evidence to the Imam's satisfaction with the legitimacy of the then government, or to his relinquishing of his own right to be the caliph. What is most beautiful in this narrative is the comparison between the peaceful stance of Imam Ali (A.S.) towards his opponents before assuming the caliphate and the stance of the Prophet (S.A.W.) prior to the hijra (migration to Medina) and thereafter, giving the explanation that the reason in both instances is the small number of supporters and the scarcity of followers, and that had the Imam's reluctance to wage a holy war in order to achieve his objective been the reason for the invalidation of his Imamate, the reluctance of the Prophet (S.A.W.), likewise, to wage a holy war during that period of time would have been a reason for the invalidation of his Prophethood, for the Prophet (S.A.W.) had set the example, and the Imam (A.S.) and all other Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) followed suit.

Among the ahadith of Imam al-Rida (A.S.) is one narrated by Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Hamadani; he said, "I asked Abul-Hassan al-Rida (A.S.), `What is the reason for which the Almighty and Exalted God drowned Pharaoh even after Pharaoh had believed in Him and admitted His unity?' He answered, `Because he believed only when he saw God's retribution, and belief to avoid danger is not accepted. This is God's judgement regarding past and future generations. The Exalted and the Almighty God has said: `When they saw Our Punishment, they said, `We believe in God, the One God, and we reject the partners we used to join with Him,' but their professing the faith when they (actually) saw Our Punishment was not going to profit them.'2 The Exalted and Almighty has also said, `The day that certain of the Signs of thy Lord do come, no good will it do to a soul to believe in them then, if it believed not before nor earned righteousness through its faith.'"3 So when Pharaoh was about to be drowned, he said, "I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the children of Israel believe in, and I am of those who submit (to God in Islam).' (It was then said to him), `Ah now! But a little while before wast thou in rebellion! And thou didst mischief (and violence)! This day shall We save thee in thy body, that thou mayest be a Sign to those who come after thee!'"4

This narrative has a moral for those who wish to learn, for iman is not that one believes and returns to his Lord only when he sees no avenue of salvation before him and despair overcomes him; rather, iman is belief in God and going towards Him voluntarily in both cases of despair and of hope.

Another hadith Imam al-Rida (A.S.) narrated stated, "Anyone who meets a poor Muslim and greets him in a greeting different from the one whereby he greets the rich, he would meet the Exalted and the Almighty God on the Day of Judgement and He is angry with him." In this tradition, the Imam (A.S.) provides us with a very beautiful example of humanity enjoined by genuine Islamic conduct governing the Muslim's conduct with his Muslim brother, for Islam united all members of the nation in its law of personal conduct; there is no distinction for the wealthy man over the deprived poor man, and all people are equal under the judgement of Islam.

Another hadith of the Imam (A.S.) is one in which he was asked by Ibn al-Sakit, "Why did the Almighty and Exalted God send Mousa (Moses) ibn Imran (A.S.) with a miraculous cane and white hand and the tool of sorcery, Isa (Jesus, AS) with miraculous medicine, and Muhammad (A.S.) with miraculous speech and oratory?" The Imam (A.S.) said, "When the Almighty and the Exalted God sent Moses (A.S.), sorcery dominated the minds of people of his time, so he brought them from the Almighty and the Exalted something which they never had, nor could they bring about anything like it, thus rendering their sorcery void and proving his argument against them. When the Almighty and the Exalted God sent Jesus during a period when chronic diseases became widespread and people were in dire need of a cure. Jesus (A.S.) brought them from God the Almighty and the Exalted something they never had, bringing the dead back to life, curing those born blind and the lepers by the Will of God, proving his argument against them. And when the Almighty and Exalted God sent Muhammad (S.A.W.) during the time when speeches and oratory (and I think he said with poetry, too), he brought them the Book of the Almighty and the Exalted God and with pieces of wisdom and counsel thereby he voided their arguments." Ibn al-Sakit said, "By God I have never seen anyone like you! What is the argument against people these days, then?" He answered, "Reason. Through it can you come to know who tells the truth about God and you believe in him, and who tells lies about God and you disbelieve in him." Ibn al-Sakit said, "This, by God, is the right answer..."

A miracle is a super-natural thing which the ordinary individual is unable to perform due to his limited energies and motivational powers. Miracles are different from sorcery. Sorcery is not an actual super-natural act but a swift movement which causes the viewer to see the realities turned upside down, or changes the visible picture into its contrary. This may take place by subjecting the viewer to obscure effects which veil from his sight a certain colour or a certain picture. What leads us to that conclusion is the statement of the Almighty in the context of narrating how Moses (A.S.) fared with the wizards from the descendants of Israel, saying, "So their ropes and their canes seemed to him, because of their sorcery, as though they were crawling."5 Sorcery, then, is nothing more than stimulating the imagination, making things look different than they are, and causing one to fall under a magical spell. As regarding what a miracle is, it is an actual result of a super-natural deed intended to win the argument against people in the process of proving one's true prophethood and mission, and it is an act which God causes to happen. It is different from sorcery because it is not subjected to psychological effects, or complications in the movement, but a broadening of the energy which affects matters viewed by man due to the effect of the Might of God. In narrating the story of Moses (A.S.), the Almighty stated, "And (appoint him) an apostle to the children of Israel, (with this message): `I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God's leave; and I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I bring the dead back to life by God's leave.'"6 And the Almighty has also said, "And it was never the part of an apostle to bring a Sign except as God permitted. For each period is a Book (revealed)."7

Every one of the Prophets had a miracle which distinguished him from other prophets and messengers and which was in harmony, in its own particular way, with the common phenomena which prevailed upon the social condition of the time so that the psychological effect caused by its miraculous effect would become a reality, as the Imam (A.S.) meant in the tradition above. The miracles of prophets, according to the contexts of the verses and narratives, were not the result of the effect of a natural human energy; rather, they were the results of a creative energy whereby God distinguished His Prophets for the purpose of establishing the superiority of their argument when such a miracle was necessitated by the mission.

As regarding the miracles of the Imams which are reported in order to testify to their Imamate and to their being the most rightful for the post of caliphate, this is not something unusual about them since they were selected by God to be His vicegerents on earth, entrusting them with the message after His Prophet (S.A.W.), but what must be researched is that many such miracles were proven to have been performed by them and were attested to by an acceptable medium.

But the Imams never needed a miracle beyond the qualifications of knowledge and conduct which distinguished them in order to prove the authenticity of their Imamate, for the qualifications which characterized them were by themselves the miracles proving their right.

We have said that the miracle is the super-natural phenomenon which in its own particular way agrees with the general phenomena which dominated the social reality of its time, and the common phenomenon which enjoyed a clear priority during the time of the Imams was knowledge; therefore, it is mandatory that their miracles proving their Imamate should be super-natural knowledge whereby they rise above all other levels of their contemporary folks. Imam al-Rida (A.S.) was asked about the phenomenon whereby an Imam could be identified as an Imam when his time comes as an accurate indication of his Imamate, and he answered by saying, "It is knowledge, and God's response to his plea."

In a tradition regarding the distinctions of an Imam, he said, "His indications are in two attributes: knowledge and God's answer to his plea, and all the events which he foretold before their occurrence, for that is according to a promise made to him by the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) which he inherited from his forefathers, peace be upon them, which in turn would be among matters told to the Prophet (S.A.W.) through Gabriel from God, the Knower of the Unseen and the Unknown, Glory be to Him."

This statement of the Imam (A.S.) leads us to realize that the miracle should be in harmony with the phenomenon of the time, thus proving the argument. Each of the two requirements mentioned by the Imam were actually satisfied in him and in all other Imams; through them, their super-natural miracle is completed, without the need to prove their Imamate, or to prove its authenticity by other miracles the truth about many of which we may not have a way to prove. It is also a clear answer to those who accused the Imams (A.S.) of claiming to know the unknown due to their foretelling of events which were yet to occur and which did take place after that. All this, according to the context of the statement of the Imam (A.S.), is the knowledge which they gained as a prerogative privilege they inherited from their grandfather the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) according to the commandments of the Almighty and Exalted God so that their distinction might be evident to the public and they would be distinguished from all other segments of the nation.

Among the ahadith narrated by the Imam (A.S.) regarding al-Mahdi, may God hasten his reappearance, is one narrated by al-Husayn ibn Khalid who said, "I said to him, `May my life be sacrificed for you, tell me about one hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Bakkir from Ubayd ibn Zarara.' He asked, `What is it?' I said, "Ubayd ibn Zarara said that he met Abu Abdullah (A.S.) during the year in which Ibrahim ibn Abdullah ibn al-Hassan came out for jihad, and he said to him, `May my life be sacrificed for you! This person has caused people to talk, and people have rushed to his aid; so, what do you order us to do?' He said, `Fear God, and stay calm as long as the heavens and the earth stay calm.' Then he added, `Abdullah ibn Bakkir used to say, `Had Ubayd ibn Zarara been truthful, nobody would have come out and no Qaaim (Mahdi) would there be.' Abul-Hassan al-Rida (A.S.) said, `The hadith according to the narration of Ubayd is accurate, but not according to the way Abdullah ibn Bakkir understood it. What Abu Abdullah meant was as long as the heavens echo the calls of your fellow, and as long as the earth is firm under the feet of his marching army.'" This hadith may be counted among the mutashabih ahadith to which the Imam (A.S.) made reference above. Abdullah ibn Bakkir used to refer to their clear traditions regarding al-Mahdi (A.S.) in order to avoid falling into dangerous confusion and misunderstandings.

Among the ahadith of the Imam (A.S.) which deal with the Islamic legislative system is one narrated by Abdullah ibn Taoos who said: "I told Abul-Hassan al-Rida (A.S.) that I had a nephew whom I married to my daughter and who used to frequently pronounce the divorce statement. He said, `If he is a descendant of one of your (Shi'a) brethren, there is nothing to worry about, but if he is from these (Sunni) brothers, then recall your daughter for they shall be separated.' I said, `But, may my life be sacrificed for yours, did not Abu Abdullah (A.S.) use to say, `Beware of those divorced thrice at one time, for they shall marry more than once?'' He said, `Yes, this is the case if the man is one of your brethren, not one of these; whoever follows the creed of certain people is bound to follow their [juristic] rules.'"

Jurists have relied on this and similar narratives to consider all the verdicts issued by followers of other schools of thought to be accurate in both areas of obligations and personal status except in the case of zakat about which they have decided that it will have to be taken out again if its believing recipients are not residents of the same area (where the payer resides) according to the beliefs of followers of the creed of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) who rely on certain texts in this matter which rule this issue in particular.

As regarding the issue of divorce, which is the subject-matter of this hadith, the school of thought of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) determines that if the divorce statement contains "thrice" in it, rather than being repeated twice again, is not considered binding but it would be if the statement were repeated twice provided it meets the other conditions such as the presence of two just witnesses, the absence of the use of force, and the woman being tahir (clean), that is, she has not cohabited with her husband prior to his pronouncement and has not taken her ghusul (ceremonial bathing) yet, in addition to other conditions which validate divorce. This is what is commonly accepted, while others have decided that it will be null as the apparent understanding of this hadith suggests. But if the husband repeats his statement, "She is divorced!" three times, it is, according to Imami (Shi'a) Muslims considered as one-time divorce with rendering the repetition null if such repetition is to be doubtful. The rest of Muslim sects regard divorce in both instances as binding and the husband cannot go back to her before she marries another husband.

Another hadith narrated by the Imam (A.S.) says, "The Almighty and Exalted God has decreed three rites each depends on yet another one: He decreed the prayers and the payment of zakat; so, He does not accept the prayers of anyone who says his prayers but does not pay zakat; He decreed that one must thank Him and thank his parents too; so, He does not accept the thanks of one who thanks Him but is not grateful to his parents; and He decreed that one should fear Him and remain in constant contact with his kin; so, anyone who does not remain in close touch with his relatives does not in turn fear God, the Exalted, the Almighty."

Another one says, "A believer (mu'min) cannot be truly so except after acquiring three attributes: from his Lord, from his Prophet (S.A.W.), and from his fellow humans. From his Lord, he must learn how to keep a secret; the Almighty and the Exalted said, `He (alone) knows the Unseen, nor does He make anyone acquainted with his Mysteries, except an apostle whom He has chosen.'8 From his Prophet, he must learn patience while dealing with people; the Exalted and the Almighty God ordered His Prophet to be patient with people, saying, `Uphold forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant (folks).'9 From his fellows, he has to learn patience during periods of poverty and adversity, for the Dear and the Almighty One says, `... And to be firm and patient in pain and in adversity.'10

Among his interesting and entertaining hadith is one narrated by Yasir who says, "I have heard Abul-Hassan al-Rida (A.S.) saying, `Young man! Aatinal ghadaa [which permits two meanings],' and I looked somehow astonished at his request. He noticed the puzzlement on my face whereupon he recited the verse, `... Moses said to his attendant, `Bring us our early meal.'11 So I said, `The prince is the most knowledgeable of people and their very best.'"

The narrator of this incident interpreted the statement of the Imam (A.S.) to mean something like what the Almighty meant when He said, "... then produce a Sura like thereunto,"12 whereas he intended his servant simply to bring them their food [which does not require a miracle like producing a Qur'anic verse!].

This is just a specimen of beautiful traditions narrated by or about Imam al-Rida (A.S.) which we hope we have been successful in selecting among the ones that over-flow with goodness in various fields.

* Imam al-Rida A Historical and Biographical Research. By Muhammad Jawad Fadlallah. Translated from the Arabic by:Yasin T. al-Jibouri

1- Bukhari, Vol. 8, p. 119, Amiri edition
2- Al Mumin (or Ghafir):84-85
3- Al An'aam:158
4- Younus:90-92
5- Taha:66
6- Aali 'Imran:49
7- Al Ra'd:38
8- Al Jinn:26-27
9- Al A'raf:199
10- Al Baqara:177
11- Al Kahaf:62
12- Al Baqara:23

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