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Rationality of Islam

Written by: by Sayyid Abu'l Qasim al-Khu'i :: (View All Articles by: Sayyid Abu'l Qasim al-Khu'i)
  1. Preface
  2. Chapter 1 Religion and Its Role in Human Life
  3. Chapter 2 Belief in Allah
  4. Chapter 3 Towards Eternal Life
  5. Chapter 4 Guides of Humanity
  6. Chapter 5 Successors of The Prophet (S)
  7. Chapter 6 A Basic Guide In Islamic Administration


 


Preface


In this short preface, we intend to draw the attention of the readers to a few important points: 
 

(1) We are Muslims, but is it enough for us to be Muslims and should we feel pride in it without knowing that Islam, more than anything else, stresses upon knowledge and action? 
 

Islam means knowledge of a specific conception of the cosmos for the intellectual and moral reform of mankind, of a superbly calculated program put forth as a dynamic school of thought. It is knowledge of articles of belief and articles of action. 
 

Unfortunately many people consider themselves to be Muslims simply because they were born in a Muslim family or in a Muslim country, or because it was Islam which came to their minds first and they accepted it. However, it is obvious that a true Muslim cannot be content with such things, because Islam is not a thing to be received in inheritance, nor is it a product of environments. 
 

It is, therefore, necessary for a Muslim to have a true understanding of Islam, both of its articles of belief and articles of action so as to be able to give a convincing answer, howsoever brief and simple, to the following two questions: 
 

(i) What is Islam and how is it a blessing to humanity? 
 

(ii) Why have you accepted Islam? 
 

After learning the precepts and principles of Islam, it is equally necessary to apply them in one's individual and social life. 
 

(2) The book "Rationality of Islam" aims at a comprehensive presentation of the basic teachings of Islam in a concise form. Subjects dealt with in lengthy chapters, in voluminous books, have sometimes been crammed into a few lines. Anyhow, an effort has been made to present facts in a simple diction and yet to preserve the rational spirit of the book. 
 

(3) It has also been our consistent effort that, in discussing doctrines and tenets of Islam, the relevant authority should always be quoted and nothing should be mentioned without a proof. As for articles of action, reference has been made, as far as possible, to their instructional and social philosophy, so that the reader may be encouraged to act according to them. 
 

(4) Though Qur'anic verses, sayings of the Holy Prophet and Holy Imams have been extensively quoted, yet their Arabic texts have been omitted for the sake of brevity and simplicity. Quotations from Western scholars have been cited in only the first few chapters. 
 

It is hoped that this book will enlighten the minds of our conscientious young men and women, and will serve as an introduction to a wider study of Islam. It will induce them to recognize Islam as a great and creative school of thought, help them in shaping out their lives and preparing them for great sacrifices. It will most certainly inspire the young people to form a much better, healthier and happier society. 
 

The Publishers 
 


Religion and Its Role in Human Life


To understand what religion is and what is its role in the life of men, we should first of all know its definition. 
 

Religion may briefly be defined as under: 
 

Religion (din) is an all-round movement in the light of faith in Allah and a sense of responsibility for the formation of thought and belief, for the promotion of high principles of human morality for the establishment of good relations among members of the society and the elimination of every sort of undue discrimination. 
 

Keeping in view this definition, our need for religion and religious teachings is absolutely clear. To be a little more elaborate, it may be said that we require religion for the following reasons: 
 

1. Sanction for the Principles of Morality 
 

Religion provides a sanction for the principles of morality like justice, honesty, righteousness, brotherhood, equality, virtuousness, tolerance, sacrifice, help to the needy and other kindred virtues. These are the virtues without which, not only our life will lose its order and normalcy but it is very likely to be turned into a chaos. Of course, it is possible to acquire these moral and social qualities without the aid of religion. But certainly in the absence of firm religious belief, these values appear to lose their meaning and become a series of mere unbinding recommendations, because in such a case they do not amount to more than a piece of advice from a close friend in respect of which we are at full liberty to accept or reject. 
 

These qualities are rather based on an internal feeling and faith and are naturally beyond the scope of ordinary law. 
 

It is only faith in the existence of an Eternal Being, who knows man equally from within and without and who has full control over him, that cultivates these virtues within man and impels him to automatic righteousness and adherence to duty, and if need be, to make sacrifices for the sake of others. 
 

The well-known philosopher-cum-historian, Will Durant says in his book, 'Pleasures of Philosophy' that, without the backing of religion, morality is nothing more than arithmomancy, as without it, the sense of obligation disappears. 
 

2. Power to Endure Adversities of Life 
 

Religion provides power for facing adversities and serves as a bulwark against undesirable reactions of despair and hopelessness. 
 

A religious man, with firm belief in Allah, and of His munificence, does not find himself in utter desperation even in the worst moments of his life, because he knows well hat e is under the protection of a Being who is Almighty. With faith in the fact that every problem can be solved and every deadlock can be resolved with His help, he can overcome every disappointment and hopelessness. 
 

For this very reason, it very seldom happens that a truly religious man suffers from the acute reactions of desperation like suicide, nervous breakdown or psychic ailments which are products of frustration and defeatism. 
 

The Holy Quran says: 
 

"Surely those who are close to Allah, have no fear nor shall they grieve." (Surah Younus, 10:62) 
 

Imam Ja'far Sadiq (A) says: "A true believer can never commit suicide." 
 

Thus, religious faith is, on the one hand, a motivating force, and on the other, it is a factor which enables man to face hardships with courage and saves him from the ill effects of failure and disappointment. 
 

Following the downfall of the Nazis, says Bertrand Russell says there existed a danger of intellectual and ideological revolt in Germany, but no doubt, religion has been one of the biggest factors in that country's return to stability. 
 

According to Dr. Durant, behavior of a man who is not blessed with reliance on religion suffers from special epicurean confusion, and the life which has not the comforting support of religion, is an unbearable burden. 
 

3. Encounter with Ideological Vacuum 
 

Man cannot live in an ideological vacuum for long and as such his tendency towards a wrong ideology and false values becomes definite. His intellectual life is not filled with sound beliefs and healthy teachings. A superstitious and even destructive ideas may find way into his spiritual firmament and may for ever pollute his brain. Instances of man's tendency towards idolatry, man worship, diverse superstitions and credulity regarding the influence of irrational things over destiny, can be witnessed even in the lives of world intellectuals. All this originates from spiritual vacuum. It is religion which can fill the ideological and intellectual vacuum with sound teachings and can save one from a tendency towards absurdities and irrationalities. 
 

Hence, true understanding of religion can play an important role in combating superstitions, though it is true that even religion itself, if not understood correctly, may promote superstitions. 
 

 
 

4. An Aid to the Progress of Science and Knowledge 
 

Religion with its firm and sound teachings can be an effective factor in scientific progress, because its foundation has been laid on the solid bed-rock of "freedom of will" and on the fact that everybody is accountable for his own deeds. 
 

The Holy Quran says : "Everyone is entangled in the outcome of his deeds." (Surah al-Muddath-thir 74:38) 
 

Faith in religion teaches that limitless knowledge is the source of this cosmos, which is like a very grand book penned by an erudite scholar. Every page of it, nay every line and every word of it, contains a glaring truth which stimulates us to further study and contemplation. 
 

This attitude towards the cosmos undoubtedly stimulates persistent thinking over the mechanism of creation and consequently, helps in the advancement of science and knowledge. 
 

In contrast, if we hold that this universe is the product of sheer mechanical factors having no intellect, there remains no plausible reason why we should make strenuous efforts to discover its secrets. In principle, a universe which is the outcome of the working of an unconscious machinery, can neither be well-designed nor mysterious. 
 

Apart from giving a deadly blow to the advancement of science and knowledge, such conception of cosmos negates the very fact that man's instinct is basically rooted in religion. Albert Einstein was very true when he pointed out why great thinkers and discoverers are all interested in religion. He said that it was hard to find anyone among the great thinking brains of the world who might not have a sort of religious feeling peculiar to him. That feeling was different from the religion of the man in the street. 
 

It has the form of a delightful wonder at the marvelously accurate system of the universe, which from time to time, unveils secrets in comparison with which all organized human thinking and research are rather weak and stale. This feeling illuminates the path of the life and efforts of a scientist and as he gains success and honor, it keeps him free from the deadweight of selfishness and pride. 
 

What a belief in the system of the universe and what a fascinating desire it was, he adds, that enabled Kepler and Newton to suffer for years in isolation and in complete silence in order to simplify and explain the laws of gravitation and planetary motion! No doubt, it is this very religious feeling that enabled the self-sacrificing and self-effacing men through long centuries, in spite of their apparent defeats and failures, to rise on their feet again and make fresh efforts.

(The world as I see) 
 

The contemporary scientist, Abernethy, says that science for its own perfection should regard faith in God as one of its accepted principles. Thus a religious man, following the true teachings of religion, can more than anybody else, carry out research and discover the secrets of nature. 
 
 

Fight Against Discrimination

Religion strongly opposes every discrimination based on color, race or class, because it regards all human beings as God's creatures and every country as God's country. According to it, all enjoy God's love and kindness equally and as such, all are equal. 
 

According to the teachings of Islam, no man can be superior to another man on the basis of his color, race, descent, language or class. 
 

Islam recognizes only piety and knowledge as the touch-stones of superiority .Allah says: "Man, we have created you from a male and a female, and we have divided you into nations and tribes, so that you may get to know one another. Surely the most honorable of you in the sight of Allah is he who is most pious."(Surah al- Hujurat, 49 :13) 
 

Thus the role of religion in a world that has not yet been able even to solve the color problem, the question of class apart, is quite clear. 
 

Anyhow, it cannot be denied that every kind of religious thought or belief cannot produce the de-sired results. 
 

Like every other intellectual movement, religion also requires correct guidance. Otherwise it assumes the form of superstition, monasticism, escape from positive life and pseudo-agnostic negative tendencies, the examples of which can even now be seen in the West, where people have become fed up with a mechanical life. It is only in such an atmosphere that for want of correct knowledge, religion is regarded as an obstructive factor. 
 

Roots of Religious Sense

Man has been familiar with religion for such a long time that it covers the entire recorded history of human life and goes back into the depths of pre-historic times. 
 

The Holy Quran has described religion as man's innate nature and Allah's established order. It says : Islam is in harmony with nature which Allah has designed for man. ( Surah al -Rum,30 : 30) 
 

Research carried out by sociologists and historians shows that places of worship, either in their simple or elaborate and complex form, have always had an influence on human life, and religion in its various shapes has been interwoven with its history . 
 

Dr. Durant, after a comparatively detailed discussion of atheism of certain people writes that despite all that he has mentioned, these are exceptional cases, and the old notion that "religion" is a phenomenon that generally extends to all human beings, is true. The question of religion in the view of a philosopher is one of the basic questions of history and psychology. 
 

He adds that, from time immemorial, religion has always gone hand in hand with human history. The idea of piety can never be removed from human heart. (History of Civilization vol .1, pp. 88- 89) 
 

From a psychological point of view, this time honored relationship between man and religion proves that religious feeling is one of the basic human instincts natural elements of the human soul. 
 

It is obvious, that at a time, when the level of human thinking was low and the sciences had not made any remarkable progress, this internal feeling was in an incredible way mixed with superstition, but gradually with the progress of sciences on the one hand ,and persistent efforts and teachings of the prophets on the other, it was purified of adulterations and it regained its purity and originality. 
 

Anti-Religious Waves During the Past Centuries

In these circumstances it looks a little surprising that during the past centuries, especially from 16th Century onward, a violent anti-religious wave has hit the Western countries and many of the liberal minded Europeans have dissociated themselves from the Church. Those who wanted to remain loyal to religion turned to some Eastern religions or to a sort of gnosticism minus religion, while a large number of people were attracted by materialism and the like. 
 

But an inquiry into the roots of this subject indicates that in the special circumstances prevailing Europe, this phenomenon was not unexpected. 
 

Factors leading to anti-religious movements and tendency to materialism in Europe should be looked for in the perspective of the policy which the Church pursued with regard to the Renaissance and progress of natural sciences in various fields. 
 

When the Church in the middle ages, especially during the 13th to15th centuries started a campaign against science which continued even to the 16th and l7th centuries and attempted to crush scientific movements through Inquisition, issued a papal decree to condemn science dragged people like Galileo to persecution and forced them to deny the motion of the earth. It is obvious what the reaction of the scientists to such teachings could be. They, being at the cross roads of sciences and religion (of course religion as it was understood at that time and in that environment), naturally went for science, the firm basis of which they had personally observed and tested. 
 

Mistake in analogy and incorrect comparison of other religions to the special position of the Churches in the middle ages induced certain scientists to start a campaign against all religions and to reject them formally. They went to the extent of innovating a doctrine known as discord between religion and science'. 
 

But the study of scientific movement in Islam, which started from the very first century and bore fruit in the second and third centuries of the Hegira era, shows that in Muslim society the case was quite different. This movement soon gave birth to the scientists like Hasan lbn Haitham, the well-known Muslim Physicist, Jabir lbn Hayyan. whom the Europeans call Father of Chemistry, and tens of others like them. Their books exercised considerable influence over the Scientists like Roger Bacon, Johann Kepler and Leonardo da vinci. It is interesting that all this scientific progress took place in the middle ages and coincided with the Church's violent opposition to the Renaissance and the standard-bearers of the new scientific movement. 
 

All historians in the East and the West, who have dealt with Islamic culture, are unanimously of the view that it gave rise to a wide-spread scientific movement whose influence over the Renaissance and the scientific movement of Europe was remarkable. 
 

Thus the factors which induced the liberal-minded in the West to dissociate themselves from religion, did not exist in the case of Islam. On the contrary, there were factors which worked in the opposite direction. 
 

In short Islamic movement had a special connection with World scientific movements, and for this very reason was the fountain-head of the vast development of sciences and knowledge. 
 

However it cannot be denied that disputes and dissensions among a section of Muslim people which in intensity from the fifth century (Hijra) onward, short-sightedness, non-realization of true teachings of Islam, apathy to progress and indifference to the spirit of the time, resulted in the backwardness of many Muslim countries. 
 

Another factor which complicated the problem was that Islam in the real sense was not introduced to the younger generation. Thus the constructive role of Islam in various fields gradually diminished. Now the position is that many young men think that Islam has always been in this present dismal state. 
 

Any how, it is certain that with the revival of Islamic teachings and their correct introduction, especially to the younger generation, it is still possible to revive the spirit of early Islamic movement. 
 

Religion and Philosophical Schools of Thought 
 

All forms of religion censure every kind of materialism, whether it be in its simple shape or in the garb of dialectic materialism, which forms the basis of Marxism and Communism, because materialism maintains that this, universe is merely a set of undesigned and aimless happenings. 
 

Religion. in censuring materialism, relies on a number of principles which are absolutely logical, because : 
 

The interpretation of the order of the universe advanced by materialistic schools is unscientific, for science in the course of its research, talks of well calculated and precise systems, which cannot be interpreted by accidental and chance happenings. 
 

Science acknowledges that the maker of this machine of the universe is the greatest physicist and chemist, most expert physician and the best anthropologist and cosmologist, because while performing his job, he visualized all scientific laws. Naturally he could not do so without having complete knowledge of them. It goes without saying that natural factors and natural developments can have no such knowledge at all. 
 

Materialism has accepted the doctrine of compulsion as one of its basic principles. It holds that every human action and every movement is the result of a sequence of compulsory causes. On, this basis, according to the materialistic point of view, all the efforts of man are like the movements of the wheels of a machine. It is obvious that the acceptance of this view goes against the idea of every social, moral or human responsibility. 
 

In contrast, religion accepts the principle of obligation and responsibility and thus lays the foundation of its teachings on the freedom of human will. 
 

It cannot be contradicted that the acceptance of the principle of compulsion gives a hard blow to dynamism and the sense of duty and responsibility. It also directly contributes to the expansion of crimes and aggressions, because the offenders can plead that they are not responsible for the crimes committed by them, for they were forced by the compulsion of environment, time and the way they were brought up. But there is no possibility of such evil effects if the principle of free will is accepted. 
 

With the acceptance of the domination of matter over all affairs of human life and the restriction of value only to the material values, the materialists have practically ousted moral values. They hold, that only material interests prevail over all social and international interests. The effect of this way of thinking is obvious for without adherence to such principles as philanthropy, tolerance, sacrifice, sincerity and love, no problems at world level can be solved. Belief in exclusive domination of matter obviously not compatible with these principles. 
 

Religion and Individual Freedom 
 

Some people think that religion restricts individual freedom and disallows the fulfillment of some desires, whereas, in fact, the aim of religious teaching is not at all to put an end to logical freedom. Its aim is only to stop wastage of human energies and assets and to prevent their flow into improper and worthless channels. 
 

For example, if religion forbids the use of intoxicants, gambling and improper indulgence in sex, does so for the safety of the body and soul of the individual and for the maintenance of social order. 
 

This moral control is in keeping with the real spirit of freedom, for freedom means only that man should be able to take full advantage of the assets of existence to help in the evolution of the individual and the society. It does not at all mean squandering God-given energies and indulging in immoderation and libertinism. 
 

Religion supports every kind of freedom that carries man forward towards evolution in various fields. Only this, is what freedom, in the real sense, means. Anything else is libertinism. 
 

That is why religion allows man to use all good things in life, to wear any reasonable dress, to relish any good food and to take part in any healthy pastime. In short, it has allowed the use of all comforts and conveniences of life, and does not ask anyone to give up any such things. The Holy Quran says: "Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful things of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the pure food ?" 
 

Moreover, our religion calls upon us never to forget the exigencies and requirements of time and to keep ourselves well-informed about the latest developments in medicine, technology and industry. 
 

The leader of Islam, Imam Sadiq (A) has said: "He who knows his time and its requirements, shall not be taken unaware by the dark events of life." 
 

Our religion tells us that out of the new ideas, customs and usages we should choose what is useful and worthy and should discard what is improper and wrong. We must not follow others blindly and must not adopt anything that is not compatible with human dignity and the spirit of independent thinking. 
 

The Holy Quran says, "Give glad tidings to my servants who listen to what is said and follow the best thereof. They are those whom Allah has guided and those who have good sense." 
 


Belief in Allah


It is worth emphasizing that among human thinkers there exists no difference of opinion on the point that this universe has a self-sustaining First Cause. At the most, materialists call it matter, while the religious philosophers call it Allah. It is essential to acknowledge the existence of the First Cause, for a sequence of causes and effects cannot go on indefinitely and we must reach a point where we should come to a cause which is not the effect of any other cause, i.e. the ultimate cause or the Unmoved Mover , which is self-existing and which has always been and shall always be. 
 

It is this Self-Sustaining First Cause which not only makes our intellectual life possible but also quite meaningful. Suppose for a moment that there is no such First Cause. To where does this lead us? Surely this cause and effect pursuit lands us in what is known in Philosophy as a continuum ad infinitum. This brings our investigation to a blind alley. It marks the beginning of intellectual wilderness, a wild goose chase. You go on piling cause upon cause and effect upon effect only to find still another cause and effect staring you in the face. Of what earthly use is it to put zero after zero when the result is zero or to place nil after nil when the result is nil ? Such is the deception of a certain mental activity and such is its misguidance. 
 

It will thus be seen that the only way to get out of this mire is the acknowledgement of the Self- Sustaining First Cause. 
 

Belief in the existence of an Eternal and First Cause is the common ground between the believers in God and the materialists. The only controversial point is whether the First Cause has knowledge and intellect or not. That is the real point of difference. 
 

The materialists deny that the First Cause has any intellect. They hold that the first cause is matter, which lacks any intellect or knowledge, whereas the believers in God maintain that the First Source of the universe has limitless knowledge, wisdom and rationality. 
 

How to Recognize God
 

The Universe

Now let us cast an eye on the various phenomena of the universe to find out which one supports which of these two theories and to see whether the things existing in the universe indicate that the First Cause has intellect. 
 

It will be better to begin with our own body. Does not the construction of the human eye and the way the lenses, retina and various layers of it have been fixed, testify that its maker is fully conversant with the physical laws concerning the reflection of light and the working of lenses and mirrors ? 
 

Does not the composition of human blood of plasma and various types of corpuscles with such a fixed proportion that the slightest change in it disturbs the whole biological system, clearly show that the maker of the blood knew the chemical composition and properties of all the ingredients of blood fully well? 
 

Does not the construction of the living human, animal and plant cells in such a complex and mysterious and at the same time elegant and accurate way manifest that the job has been performed by a Being who had full knowledge of all the laws connected with the human, animal and plant physiology ? 
 

Does not the special construction of the solar system and the particular proportion between the size, distance and speed of each planet of this system prove that the maker of this machine is fully aware of all the details of the law of gravitation and the effects of the rotatory motion in producing centrifugal forces? 
 

In short, the special construction of all that exists n the universe from the smallest particles or sub atoms to the biggest galaxies and the accurate and wonderfully arranged systems of their working bear witness to the fact that the First source has full knowledge of all the connected laws and systems. 
 

In principle all human sciences are nothing more than a partial knowledge of a minute part of the secrets and laws of the universe. 
 

How can it ever be that we, with such a partial knowledge, should become scholars and scientists but the First Source who brought the whole universe into existence should have no knowledge and intellect ? transplantation of a human heart by Dr. Bernard r required millions of scientists for thousands of years to put in their efforts for the development of medicine and surgery. Is it conceivable that the very maker of the heart should have no knowledge? 
 

In short, the interpretation of creation of all the well-calculated and well-conceived systems, as chance events and product of unplanned and aimless causes is as illogical as to say that the transplantation of heart performed by Dr. Bernard and his team was not the result of any knowledge and study, and it was just by chance that grafting took place. 
 

Such an interpretation is totally unacceptable. But to say that the entire universe has come into existence just by chance is far more illogical. Hence the materialistic interpretation of the genesis of the universe and all that exists in it, is totally unscientific. 
 

Thus, every book of our natural sciences like physics, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, medicine, surgery etc. may be used as book of natural theology, for all these books discuss the secrets and laws of the marvelous systems of creation, whose logical and correct interpretation is not possible without acknowledging the existence of God. 
 

This very line of argument has been mostly followed by the Holy Quran while adducing arguments for the unity of Allah. 
 

As Kepler, the famous scientist and founder of modern Astronomy has said, "The more we know about the creation and grandeur of heavenly bodies, the deeper should be our faith." 
 

Thus there exists a close relationship between the progress of sciences and the firmness of faith in God. The more the scientific knowledge expands, the firmer will the faith grow in the One Source of knowledge and power. 
 

Mr. McCombs, a biologist, who has been the head of the Academy of Sciences, Florida, says that every new discovery in the world of science increases the firmness of our faith hundreds of times, dispels the hidden doubts which more or less lurk inside our hearts, and replaces them with the nobler ideas of the acknowledgement of God and His unity. 
 

Motion, Evolution and Life

Science of Physics tells us that if the lifeless matter is static, it tends to remain static unless it is moved by some external force, and if it is in motion it continues to move unless it is stopped by some external factor. 
 

Yet another scientific law tells us that the matter forming the universe tends to disintegrate and assume simpler form with the passage of time. Mechanized matter changes into simpler matter; atoms if they remain as they are, automatically disintegrate; bright stars tend to lose their brightness. 
 

Thus within the lifeless matter there exists no factor which may push it forward to evolution. On the other hand, it tends to disintegrate automatically. 
 

In such circumstances, it must be admitted that evolution and life have come from outside, for, within the matter, there exists no such tendency. 
 

A philosopher says that you cannot think of that attraction to life which pervades from simple ameoba to human beings (like Einstein, Edison and Anatole France) without seeing the world in a divine garb. In other words it is not possible to interpret attraction to life and inclination to evolution except through a belief in God. 
 

Transience of the Universe

Science tells us that in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics, all the energy available in the world is proceeding towards uniformity and neutrality, and a day will come when it, having become uniform, will be neutralized. And then a state of indifference will prevail in the whole world. This is just like the case of interconnected vessels of the liquid, we observe motion, but this state does not continue for ever. Sooner or later all the levels become uniform and everything becomes motionless and quiet. 
 

According to this law, the universe must have a history .It cannot be eternal. Had it always existed, it would have become uniform and neutral long, long ago. 
 

On this ground, we must admit that this material world has not always existed. It is not eternal and must have a history. 
 

Now the big question is what is the origin of the universe. What event disturbed the first day tranquility and became the source of the creation of all the phenomena? 
 

The first explosion or the Big Bang? Then what was the source of the explosion of the uniform atoms of primary matter? How is it possible that in a state of complete tranquility and indifference such an explosion should occur automatically? 
 

Here it must be admitted that some outside factor was the source of the disturbance of the first indifference, emergence of a wave in the uniform of lifeless matter and the subsequent creation of the diverse phenomena of the world. We call this supernatural factor, Allah. 
 

The above mentioned three ways of proving the existence of Allah are the subject of detailed books compiled by philosophers of divinity. We have given only a brief summary . 
 

The Quran and Acknowledgement of Allah

It is interesting that in our sacred book, the Holy Quran, a large number of whose verses are meant to strengthen the belief in Allah, reliance has invariably been put on scientific arguments. 
 

The Holy Quran in most of its verses concerning the unity of Allah, refers to the first method, i.e. the study of the system of the universe. It calls upon all to study this marvelous system. Sometimes it refers to the secrets of the creation of the heavens. It says: "In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alteration of night and day, there are many signs for the people of good sense."

Sometimes it refers to other methods. It cites the Champion of Unity, Prophet Abraham (A) as saying : "My Lord is He who causes life and who causes death." 
 

Here reference has been made to life and death for they definitely indicate the existence of the Creator. This is the second way of proving the existence of Allah as mentioned earlier. In the Holy Quran there are hundreds of verses on the subject of divine unity and acknowledgement of Allah, in which attention has been drawn to the marvels of creation and grandeur of the universe. Study of these verses can be the subject of an independent book, in which wonders of science and secrets of the Holy Quran can be discussed side by side. 
 

Atheism Does Not Exist

In view of the scientific arguments mentioned above to prove the existence of Allah, it may be asked why most of the scientists and founders of physical sciences still adhere to atheism. The answer to this question is simple. There is hardly any scientist who does not explicitly or implicitly profess the existence of the First Cause or the Source of Knowledge and Power. It does not make any difference if he does use the word, God or Allah. In the words of a well-known philosopher there exists no atheism. Every body thinks of Him and acknowledges Him in his own way. 
 

If any body, in the course of discussion on heart, states that Nature has put up a septum between the right and left chambers of the heart so that the pure and the impure blood may not be mixed, does it not mean that he concedes that Nature has aim, intention, program and intellect ? In this case is it possible to say that by Nature he means factors lacking consciousness ? Obviously he means Allah though he uses the word, Nature. 
 

Such expressions which are an evidence of faith in the existence of a First Cause, are found in the discourses of most scientists. That shows that they all hold that Nature has aim, will, intention and program. Evidently by the word . 'Nature' they do not mean factors having no consciousness or will. Hence, obviously they use this word as a name for Allah. 
 

Attributes of Allah

It is not surprising that it is easy to prove the existence of Allah, but it is difficult fully to understand His real Being and His attributes. First of all we must know that Allah is Ever-existing and Limitless. He is limitless in respect of knowledge, power, time and space, whereas our knowledge and power, howsoever vast they may be, are still limited and have an end. As such, how can a limited being completely grasp the very essence of an Unlimited Being ? It is not possible for a chick which has grown inside the shell of an egg to know what happens inside the limitless space of the far-off galaxies. 
 

But that does not mean that we cannot understand the attributes of Allah to the extent of our powers of thinking, knowing and understanding. 
 

From the study of the phenomena of the universe we can find out that He is : 
 

All-Knowing and All-wise: This is evidenced by the extra-ordinarily marvelous diversity of life and all that exists on the earth and in the heavens. 
 

Ever-living : Life in the real sense is nothing but a combination of knowledge and power. Allah is All-knowing and All-powerful. Hence He is All-living. 
 

For the same reason, He has will and comprehension also. He sees everything and hears every sound and every voice. He is All-pervading and All-aware. He is Eternal and Ever-existing. He has always existed and shall always exist. 
 

These are some of His attributes, known as Positive Attributes. for they have positive aspects. There are Negative Attributes also, which have a negative aspect. 
 

Being Limitless and Perfect in every sense, He is free from ignorance, inability, need and defect. 
 

He can have no associate and none can be like Him. It is not possible to imagine the existence of two beings, limitless in every respect, for each of them will be lacking in the essence of the other 
 

From this it is also evident that Allah has no physical body, for all bodies sooner or later disintegrate. As such, an Ever existing Being cannot have a body, which is liable to disintegration, decomposition and every sort of change. 
 

Divine Unity

Divine unity is the Infrastructure of all religious Teachings. The question of divine unity has supreme importance in Islam. In one way or the other it forms a part of all Islamic tenets and teachings. Islam rejects every kind of polytheism, dualism and trinity. According to it, Allah is one. He has no components and none is like Him. This stage is known as Unity of Being. 
 

Unity of Attributes

A number of qualities like knowledge, power, eternity and ever-existence are attributed to Allah. They all are the very essence of His Being and are in no way separate from Him. He is a Limitless Being and a limitless being can be nothing but a Reality. All His attributes turn to one attribute, viz. limitlessness. This stage is called Unity of Attributes. 
 

Unity of Worship

Further, according to the teachings of Islam, only Allah is Adorable. Islam does not allow in any form the worship of anyone or any thing else. Neither the sun or the stars nor any human being is adorable, because all things have been created by Him and He has sovereign control over all of them. Hence only He is adorable. This stage is called Unity of Worship. 
 

Unity of Action

A careful study of all that happens in the world will show that Allah is the Creator and the real source of all power. If we accomplish any job, it is He who provides the necessary power. In view of this, it may be said that all our actions are accomplished with His help. No body has power independent of His power. Absolute and independent power pertains only to him. This is called Unity of Actions. 
 

Anyhow, this should not be misconstrued to mean that we have no free will or responsibility. He himself has bestowed freedom on us. He wants us freely to choose our way to better life in this world and hereafter. He has done us a favor and put at our disposal all the necessary means to reach this goal. 
 

Our freedom is a gift from Him and because we have free will we are held responsible for our actions. 
 

Man and Freedom of Will

Let us discuss the subject of free will a little further. 
 

We can dearly see that we are not predestined in our actions. We have liberty of action and freedom of will. A simple proof of human volition is that we blame the offenders for their offences. We lodge complaints with the courts against transgressors and ask for their trial and punishment. Even those who claim to believe in predestination take the action in their practical life. If man has no free will and every- thing is appointed and foreordained by Allah or if man is really helpless in the face of his physical or spiritual up-bringing and environment, then prosecution trial, courts and punishment have no meaning. Neither a good and dutiful worker deserves any appreciation nor an evil-doer is liable to any prosecution and punishment, because both of them are helpless in their action. Prosecution of a person who has no choice of action is far from justice. The way we and all reasonable persons behave in our daily life testifies that our conscience recognizes that man possesses freedom of will. Hence belief in predestination has no basis. 
 

Allah has granted us freedom, but it is our duty not to misuse it and to direct all our energies to the achievement of our own happiness as well as that of society. 
 

We are neither allowed to follow any false ideas or doctrines nor to take any incorrect action in the name of freedom of thought or freedom of action, for that will amount to chaos and anarchy, and not freedom. 


Towards Eternal Life


Death

Death means separation of soul from the body; Islam tells us that man is not annihilated as the result of death. He is only transferred from one world to another, where he begins a new life. The Holy Prophet has said: "You have not been created for annihilation. You have been created for everlasting life. The only thing is that you are moved from one world to another." 
 

According to Islam, separation of soul from the body does not take place in a uniform manner in the case of all individuals. The souls of the sinners and of those who are too much attached to this world are separated with violence and force, but the souls of the virtuous and those who love Allah and are in communion with the next world are separated with ease and gentleness. 
 

The Hereafter

All prophets and sacred books unanimously agree that with death human life does not come to an end, and after this world, there exists another world where human beings will be rewarded or punished according to their deeds. The virtuous will lead a happy and pleasant life, and the evil-doers will be punished and tormented. Belief in resurrection and the next world is one of the fundamentals of all religions and a believer in prophets has to believe in resurrection, too. 
 

The idea that with death every thing comes to an end and man is completely annihilated, is not only appalling but appears to be odd and illogical also. Especially after the acceptance of the doctrine of divine unity and acknowledgement of the existence of Allah, it is totally incomprehensible. 
 

It is unbelievable that the aim of all the complex laws of evolution is simply to first transform a simple and invaluable being into a highly developed intellectual being like Avicenna (lbn-Sina) or Einstein and then to annihilate him altogether. It does not stand to reason that annihilation should be the fate of the entire human race and its culture. Such a theory is incredible, unreasonable and incompatible with the knowledge, wisdom and skill of the Creator. This looks as if a vainglorious person builds a carefully designed and well-executed magnificent workshop or factory and then blows it into pieces. 
 

Will it not be more logical if we admit that life continues in another form after death and the process of evolution does not come to an end ? Here we can give a beautiful example. Our life in this world is like that of a foetus which after passing through several evolutionary stages, is transferred to a wider and more perfect environment of which it could not even have imagined (if it had any power of imagination). 
 

Had human life been limited to a foetal period and every foetus died immediately after birth. Would such a life not have been illogical and unreasonable ? It would be more logical if human life in this world after passing through intricate and difficult routes of physical, intellectual and moral evolution, is a prelude to the beginning of a higher and wider life in the next world. The life of that world should bear the same relation to the life of this world as the life of this world to the foetal life. 
 

That is why all those who believe in Allah also believe that with death man is not annihilated, but is transferred to another world whose full details and characteristics are beyond our comprehension, for we are confined to the four walls of this world. Anyhow; we know this much that leaving this world does not mean the end of life and that another world does exist. 
 

Study of the laws of the Universe, of the forces which push man forward along the path of evolution and of the systematic grandeur of this world convincingly testify to this truth. 
 

The Holy Quran says; "Did you think that we had made you in vain and that you were not going to return to us ?" 
 

It also says: "And surely you have known the first evolution then why do you not mind ?" In other words it says you have seen the life of this world, then why do you not conclude that there is another world also, for the study of this world and the laws concerning the evolution of human life here show that there is another world where the process of evolution will continue. 
   

Scientific Laws and Resurrection

It is remarkable that Science with its modern discoveries has taken a long step forward towards proving the possibility of resurrection and life hereafter, and with the enunciation of the doctrine of the imperishability of matter and energy, the resurrection which previously appeared to be impossible, has now become logical and comprehensible. 
 

The doctrine of the imperishability of matter which was first discovered by Lavoisier has rendered the question of complete annihilation totally unscientific. According to it, the particles of man, howsoever, decomposed and scattered they may become, still exist in this very world, and it is possible that one day they are recollected. 
 

This is the first step forward towards the possibility of the resurrection of man and his return to life after death. 
 

This doctrine was further reinforced by the discovery of radio-active bodies by Marie Curie. Her discovery confirmed that not only matter but energy is also everlasting and that there is no duality between matter and energy, for they are convertible with each other.
 

On this basis, we should admit that our ideas, our deeds and all our movements which are all produced by the transformation of our various bodily energies, continue to exist in this world. 
 

Our vocal waves are not obliterated and their traces always exist in the air and the objects which surround us. Only their form is changed. The same is the case with all our works and deeds. 
 

This is another step forward towards the possibility of resurrection and even physically seeing the deeds themselves. 
 

Anyhow, with the progress of science the question of resurrection is no longer as complicated as once it was. Now it is comprehensible and from a scientific stand-point fully admissible. 
 

Faith in Resurrection and Human Development

Faith in resurrection besides logically interpreting and revolving the puzzle of life and death and besides being a truth which must be accepted, produces diverse effects on human life, the most important of them being the following two:

The picture of death which had always been appalling and the thought of which had always disturbed the peace of mind has undergone a complete change. With the acknowledgement of resurrection and "life after death" in a world where all the gifts of life will exist eternally and on a higher and bigger scale the picture of death is no longer as dreadful and appalling as it was, and the scenes of death and old age no longer disturb the peace of mind. 
 

The unrest and anxiety caused by the thought of death is not as painful to us as to the materialists, and thus we can lead a more comfortable and satisfied life. 
 

The believers in life hereafter welcome sacrifice and martyrdom for a sacred cause, for they regard them as a prelude to a new life in a higher and wider world. 
 

2. The realization that human thought and deeds continue to exist, that they after going through a process of development and growth come back in a magnified form in the next world, that all good and bad deeds are to be minutely accounted for and that one has to receive reward or punishment, as the case may be, certainly exerts a healthy effect on human conduct and behavior. Thus the belief in the next world creates a favorable atmosphere for the promotion of good deeds and keeping the out- burst of passions under a check. 
 

Independent Existence and Imperishibility of Soul

Though the materialists try to describe thought, understanding and other psychological phenomena as the physical and chemical properties of brain and nervous system and hence proclaim them to be material, yet the inadequacy of their interpretation clearly indicates the independent existence and non-material nature of soul, because in spiritual phenomena like thinking, imagination and memory, we find characteristics which are not the general properties of matter. 
 

We can embody in our minds huge planets, galaxies and solar systems or mountains, deserts and large rivers, though in their external existence they are so enormous. Obviously, in such cases, a huge picture, even as large as the heaven and earth is drawn in our minds and we feel the existence of the mental picture within ourselves. 
 

Now the question is where is the location of this picture ? Certainly, it cannot be located in our brain cells, because our mental pictures may be millions of times larger than our brain. Can you ever, on paper, draw a map of Japan to the actual and physical scale of that country ? Certainly not. 
 

Hence, we must believe in the existence of meta-physical forces to be able to interpret this phenomenon without being confronted with the dilemma of correspondence of a big object to a small object. 
 

One of the general properties of matter is constant change, transformation and disintegration with the passage of time, whereas, our mental picture, remain firm and stable and do not undergo a change. 
 

For example, I saw a young friend of mine some years ago at a meeting. If I recollect that meeting even after fifty years, the same mental picture, which is still firm in my memory , will reappear without, the slightest change. This shows that mental pictures remain stable and are not affected by general properties of matter, and hence they cannot be material. 
 

Non-correspondence of a large object with a small object and unchangeability of mental pictures are two out of many arguments advanced by the philosophers to prove the independent existence of human soul or spirit. There are other arguments also, for which a reference may be made to the books of philosophy. 
 

From the above, it may be concluded that soul and spiritual phenomena do not have general properties of matter, they do not come to an end with physical death, and continue to exist even after having separated from the body. This clearly indicates the possibility of resurrection after death. 
 

Barzakh (Purgatory)

Life hereafter and resurrection after death are proved by reason, but reason cannot guide us as to the nature and character of the next life. For that we have to refer to the sayings of the prophets and religious leaders (Imams). The Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet tell us that there exists a world named Barzakh where the dead will be kept till the Day of Judgment and general resurrection. It is an intermediate stage between this world and the next. When a man dies, he comes first to this world, where he passes a special kind of spiritual life. At the start of this life which begins from the grave, a brief interrogation is carried out, and the beliefs and acts of the individual are checked. If his beliefs are found in order of his acts and deeds good, a door of paradise is opened to him and he stays on the way leading to paradise, where he enjoys heavenly blessings. There he waits for the Day of Judgment and final attainment of eternal favors. On the other hand, if he is found wicked and his beliefs false, he is placed on the way leading to hell and the door of hell is opened in his face. There he leads a bitter and unpleasant life. He is tormented and remains in constant fear of the Day of Judgment and severe punishment. 
 

Allah says in the Holy Quran: 
 

"And do not say of those who are slain in the way of Allah that they are dead. In fact, they are alive, but you do not perceive that life." 
 

"Do not regard as dead those who have been slain in the way of Allah; nay they are really alive and are well-provided by their Lord." 
 

The Holy Prophet said: "The grave is the first stage of the next life. If one is saved from its rigors, the next stages are easy. If one is not saved, then what follows is not easier." 
 

Imam Ali Ibn Husain (A) said: "The grave is either a garden out of the gardens of paradise or a pit out of the pits of hell." 
 

General Resurrection

The Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the Imams describe resurrection as under: - 
 

The sun and the moon will become dark and lightless. The mountains will be cleaved and torn as under. The planets will collide with each other. The rivers will become dry and will be ablaze. The heaven and earth will be deformed. At that time all the dead will be raised. They will be assembled for giving account of their deeds. Allah has the record of all acts and deeds of the people. Nothing has been left out or missed. On the Day of Judgment the veil will be lifted from the eyes of the people and they will be able to see their deeds with their eyes physically. Then the process of accountability will begin. 
 

Everything will be checked most carefully and minutely. The infidels and the unpardonable sinners will be sent to hell. The sinners who will be eligible for pardon. having already undergone a part of punishment during their stay in the Purgatory, will be pardoned as a result of an intercession by the prophets and the Imams. They will eventually be sent to paradise. 
 

The accountability process in respect of the good and virtuous will be completed speedily and with ease. But the infidels and many sinners will have a rough time. Even the minutest details of their conduct will be checked and they will be asked to explain all their acts. This will take a long time, and they will pass through various stages of accountability in great discomfort and anguish. 
 

Paradise

Paradise is the place where the good and the virtuous will be sent. There exist all means of comfort, ease and happiness and all that one may enjoy. Everything which one wishes will be available there. 
 

The Holy Quran says: "There shall be what the soul desires and what delights the eye." The blessings of Paradise are higher and better than those of this world. None has heard of nor seen anything like them. There will be no discomfort there. He who enters paradise will have eternal life and will stay there for ever. Paradise has various divisions, and everyone will be accommodated in them according to the degree of his good deeds and virtues. 
 

Hell

Hell is the place where infidels and the wicked will be kept, and there they will be punished, tormented and subjected to most severe pain. The punishment meted out in hell will be indescribably harsh and severe. The fire in the hell not only burns the body, but it also burns the heart and soul. It erupts from within and inflames the very existence of the individual. "The fire of Allah that has been lighted, rises over the hearts," says the Holy Quran. 
 

Those who will be consigned to hell will be divided into two groups: -

The first group will consist of unbelievers who do not acknowledge Allah. They will for ever be tormented in hell and will have no escape. 
 

The second group will consist of those who acknowledge Allah, but their faith being weak, they commit sins and thus become liable to punishment. They will be kept in hell temporarily. After they have been purged of the darkness of the sins, they, through the direct mercy of Allah or intercession of the prophet, will be forgiven and sent to paradise. 
 

Hell also has various divisions where various types of chastisements have been provided for. Everybody will be placed in the class which he deserves according to the varying degree of his sins and will be suitably punished.
 

Intercession

The principle of intercession has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the Imams. Hence, in principle, intercession is undeniable. On the whole the traditions show that the Holy Prophet and the Imams will intercede on behalf of some sinner. They will say: "O Allah : Though this person is a sinner and deserves punishment, yet for the sake of the certain quality which he possesses because you are All-forgiving and for the sake of that consideration you have for us. We beseech you to ignore his misdeeds and show mercy to him." Their request will be acceded to and Allah will forgive the sinner and will bestow his favor on him. 
 

Though in view of the Quranic passages and traditions, the principle of intercession is undeniable, a few points must be borne in mind, 
 

No interceder will intercede without prior permission of Allah. 
 

Intercession will take place only on the Day of Judgment and after the process of accountability is completed and all deed sheets have been checked. Interceders will ask for mercy only. There will be no intercession so long as a person is in ' barzakh ' where sinners must undergo punishment according to their sins. Though it is possible that there also on the recommendation of the Prophet or an Imam, punishment is reduced or commuted, but that is not what is meant by intercession, 
 

The interceders (Imams) themselves have said : "Be careful to come on the Day of Judgment in the form of a man so that we may intercede on your behalf." This shows that if sins and beastly acts of a person are so heinous that he comes on the Day of Judgment in the shape of a beast, he is not eligible to intercession. In any case, eligibility is the essential condition. 
 

The interceders have said that their intercession will not include certain sins like not offering prescribed prayers. 
 

In view of the above, one must not commit sins in the hope of intercession. That will only amount to taking poison and relying on the aid of physicians and medicines. Such a person is certainly liable to perish. 
 

Penitence

The passages of the Holy Quran and the traditions of the infallible Imams tell us that if a sinner before his death repents and feels penitence about his misdeeds, his sins are forgiven without further questioning. Hence the door of penitence is open to all sinners and one need not despair, for true penitence wipes all sins. But it is not enough to repeat any formula of penitence or just to shed a tear. True penitence has certain conditions to which Ali ibn Abi Talib (Peace be on him) has referred. He has said: "Penitence has six conditions. One must : 
 

Really and sincerely repent his past misdeeds.

Be determined not to commit any sin in future.

Discharge all the rights which belong to others.

Fulfill all neglected obligatory acts.

Melt through self-mortification all the flesh that has grown on his body through the use of unlawful foods.

Bear the bitterness of acts of worship in the same way as he had tasted the pleasure of sin. Only then, he should utter the formula of penitence." 
 


Guides of Humanity



 

It is obvious that traversing this path requires guides who with their extra-ordinary knowledge and piety may guide all and may set an example for them to follow. 
 

Human knowledge and intelligence being limited, it is quite likely that we may make a mistake in determining what is in our interest and what way leads to our eternal happiness. Hence there must be some persons, who, because of their communion with the metaphysical world. are in position to find the right path and show that to others. 
 

That is why, we say that it is not conceivable that the All wise and Rational Allah would leave us in darkness. His limitless benevolence demands that He, through His chosen prophets, themselves human beings, puts necessary laws and programs at the disposal of mankind. 
 

Prophets are the chosen and distinguished person who get in contact with Allah, find out the truth and communicate it to the people. This contact is called revelation. It is a special kind of contact between a prophet and Allah. A Prophet with his inner eyes sees the mysteries of the universe, and with the ears of his heart listens to divine calls and conveys them to the people. 
 

Prophets are Infallible

Prophets must not commit any sins. errors or mistakes, otherwise they cannot be fully relied upon in the performance of their mission. They should be rendered by Allah immune from sins and mistakes, so that people may repose cent percent confidence in them. If they be liable to commit sins and mistakes, they cannot be a mode and example for others, nor can their acts. sayings and ideas become a source of a code of conduct to be followed. 
 

This immunity from sins and mistakes is called Ismat (infallibility), and those who possess it are called Ma'asum (infallible). 
 

Number of Prophets

Traditions tell us that for the guidance of people Allah has sent about 1,24,000 prophets, first of them being Adam and the last Muhammad (S) son of Abdullah. 
 

Prophets are divided into two groups. Some received revelation, but were not charged with the mission of propagation. Others had such a mission. Some of the latter group did not have a distinct code of laws of their own, but spread the laws of another prophet. It has also happened that at the same time there were several prophets, carrying out their functions in different countries or different cities and towns. 
 

The most outstanding prophets. who brought independent codes of law were five. Their names along with the names of the Books revealed to them are given below:

1. Noah (A) Epistle

2. Abraham (A) Epistle

3. Moses (A) Torah

4. Jesus (A) Evangel

5. Muhammad (S) Quran 
 

Aims of Prophets

The program of the prophets includes :

1. To lay the foundation of justice on a firm basis.

2 .To teach and educate.

3 .To combat every form of superstition, corruption, undue discrimination and deviation from divine unity, truth and justice. 
 

The Holy Quran says: "Surely we have sent Our messengers with clear proofs and we have sent own with them the Book and the balance (necessary Laws) so that mankind may keep justice." 
 

In respect of the Prophet of Islam it says: "It is he who has raised up among an unlettered people messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His verses and purifies them and teaches them the Book and the wisdom although before this they were in a clear error." 
 

This is the noble aim for which the prophets have been sent. 
 

Proofs of Prophethood

Prophets must have a living and clear evidence to prove their apostolate. This evidence must be an achievement which is beyond the power of ordinary man, so that it may be proved that they are in communion with the metaphysical world and are inspired and take instructions from there. 
 

The stories of the conversion of the rod of Moses(A) into a python and the coming to life of the dead and the recovery of the born blind through Jesus (A) re undeniable. The story of speaking of Jesus (A) in cradle has expressly been narrated in the Holy Quran. 
 

Similarly the Prophet of Islam, though raised from amongst the most backward people, brought the book which is the masterpiece of knowledge, methods of education and secrets of creation. admittedly it is beyond human power to accomplish such a feat. 
 

That is why we call the Holy Quran inimitable. The Holy Quran, is miraculous from several angles. It's literary style is so wonderfully striking that its enemies called it a magical act and advised people not to go near Muhammad (Peace be on him and his progeny), whose penetrating words bewitched the listeners and pulled them to his system. This shows that even the enemies were convinced of the Holy Quran's extra-ordinarily striking effect. 
 

Apart from it's style, the contents of the Holy Quran are such that within a short time they brought about an extra-ordinary changes in the environment of the world and laid the foundation of a bright culture along with a vast scientific and intellectual revolution.

Further, the Holy Quran in several of its passages has referred to a number of scientific truths which were totally unknown in that age and centuries later attention of research scholars was drawn to them. Such reference include the question of rotation of the earth (Naml, verse 90), existence of male and female cells in plaints (Taha, verse 35), existence of two contradictory forces within all particles, i.e., composition of atoms of negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons (Zariyat verse 29) and the law of gravitation (Ra'd, verse 2). For these reasons it must be admitted that this Book, which is the eternal miracle of the 'Prophet of Islam, is not the product of any human brain. It is the word of Allah, which descended into the heart of the Holy Prophet from the metaphysical world. That is why the Holy Quran, in a number of passages, has challenged the unbelievers to produce a book similar to itself. Though the diehard opponents of the Holy Prophet (S) tried their best, they could not succeed. 
 

The Holy Quran expressly say: "Say: Surely if all men and jinn combined to bring the like of this Holy Quran, they would not be able to do so, even if some of them were to back the others." This challenge of the Holy Quran still holds good. The Holy Quran, still throws a challenge to all the intellectuals of the world to bring a like of it, if they doubt its divinity. Their failure to accept the challenge is living evidence of the inimitability of the Holy Quran. 
 

The Quran Is Unaltered

The Holy Quran is a book which preserves its original form and remains unaltered, because its special style and composition are such that nothing can be added to it nor anything can be deducted from it. If such an attempt is made by anyone, it would before long be detected. 
 

Moreover, a large number of the companions of the Holy Prophet (S) from the very beginning of the descent of the Holy Quran put all its verses to writing so that they may remain immune from any alteration or change. The names of these persons are recorded in history and they are known as scribes of the revelation. Imam Ali (A) is one of the most outstanding amongst them. Further, it is historically well known fact that hundreds of persons during the Prophet's time and thousands in the following centuries learned the whole Quran by heart and recited it to the people on all occasions. Such people are called Huffaz. (memorizers of the Holy Quran). 
 

This tradition still continues and even now a large number of persons are found in Islamic countries who know the whole Quran by heart and can easily recite it from memory. This arrangement of preservation through scribes and memorizers and the unique style of the Holy Quran are the, proofs of its originality and unaltered purity. It is evident from the above why the Holy Quran has remained unaltered and has not undergone the slightest change. 
 

If the Muslims want prosperity and glory and want to regain their lost position and prestige they have no alternative but to follow and abide by the firm teachings of the Holy Quran. That is the only way how they can solve their apparently incurable social problems. 
 

Call of Islam

Like all revealed religions, Islam called for the acknowledgement of the Unity of Allah and combating the worship of anyone or anything else. Islam lays the greatest emphasis on Divine Unity. The very first sentence which a neo-Muslim utters is 'There is no god but Allah.' 
 

Anyone who professes the Unity of Allah and the apostolate of the Prophet of Islam becomes a Muslim without any further formalities. 
 

Next to unity, Islam calls for justice, Obedience of Allah, piety, cleanliness, banishing undue discrimination, work and effort in life and knowledge. It also calls for thinking and urges us to refrain from disunity and dissensions. The Holy Quran says. "I exhort you with a single exhortation, namely that you stand up for the sake of Allah in twos (collectively). or singly, and then think."

Islam proposes that religion should be accepted out of free will coupled with logic and reasoning and not through force or compulsion, for belief is not a thing to be imposed by force or compulsion, for belief is not thing to be imposed by force. 
 

"There is no compulsion in regard to religion. The right way has been made distinct from the wrong way." 
 

Islam the Last Revealed Religion

Just as an individual has to pass through various educational stages, like primary school, secondary school and the stage of higher education before he reaches the final stage, similarly from the point of view of religious teachings, humanity has passed through several evolutionary stages, till it has reached the final stage, which is Islam. 
 

Islamic Principles Accord With Human Nature

Human nature everywhere and every time is more or less the same. Thus humanity is the common factor among all the people, whether they are white or black, Arabs or non Arabs, men or women, old or young, rich or poor, weak or strong, wise or ignorant. Whatever they are; their innate nature is the same, their being in the Stone Age or the Space Age makes no difference at all. The compiler of the "History of Political Philosophy" observes: 
 

Habits and customs are the robes in which our unchanging body as a solid fact, is clothed and these robes are there in every country and every society in some or the other shape and colour, although human temperament as a reality is one and the same and is there in accordance with specific principles. This is to such an extent that psychology {which deals with human nature), contains nothing but this unchangeable nature of man. Thus so long as man exists and retains his nomenclature of man, this nature remains and will not alter at his hands. 
 

Man's Individuals and Natural Needs

Human needs are of two kinds the primary needs and the secondary needs. The needs under discussion here are the primary needs. They spring from man's physical and spiritual edifice and its foundation and from his social nature and he is subject to them all in his capacity of man. 
 

Sociology has also called attention to this reality that there are common words in the dictionaries of different societies and these are quite in conformity with man's nature and they can all be recognized in their meaning, 
 

Keeping in view the fact that all men are the same in their build and that they have the same characteristics. and requirements are commonly the same and are of the same kind and the same way. For instance, at no time and for no nation is it ever possible not to be bent upon waging war against an enemy who is determined to wipe the other out, particularly when there is no other way to get him out of their way except through bloodshed. In such a case it is not possible for a people so confronted to bar bloodshed. 
 

Similarly no society can run away from the obligation of feeding the people, protection of whose lives is its own responsibility. Nor can any society put a ban on the sex life of its members. Thus there are other numerous examples which throw a flood of light on the unchangeability of human nature which is the same at all times and in all ages. 
 

These are the natural aptitudes which are latent in man since his birth. They emerge when man grows and develops or when the obstacles in their way are removed. They give birth to new needs and ultimately help the growth of man's culture. However, no factor in one culture can ever tolerate that our primary needs be suspended. For an example, it can be said that as a result of our civilization we are used to finer food, richer clothes and easier and pleasanter being. But it can't be said that our needs of eating, drinking, sleeping and living are a result of our civilisation. Nor can it be said that before the civilisation there was no eating, drinking and living. Surely these are the needs of our existence. 
 

It is also the demand of nature that when specific and definite habits have a routine of their own, then there ought not to be anything which might cause a change in these definite and specific habits. 
 

It is this nature of man which the Islamic Principles have in mind. Since the religion of Islam is for the whole world and is not meant for any specific group or people, so in the forming of its moral code it is this nature of man which was kept in view. His basic needs have been taken into account in fixing Islamic principles, thus it is that in conformity with man's basic unchangeable nature, Islam has a code of unchangeable laws of life, a code that admits of no change at all, in spite of the fact that this code exists in many lands and for indefinite time without a change. 
 

The injunctions of Islam have been framed to suit the creation of man and to be in harmony with his aptitudes and his attributes. 
 

"Turn your face to the stable religion." Religion is that nature of Allah on and after which God has created people. There is no change in God's creation and it is this religion which has encompassed man. So long as man is man, this nature will invariably be his. Future, present or past don't affect it. It is an established truth that human temperament does not change. Nor can it be said that along with the time human nature has changed and that something else has taken its place. 
 

Islamic teachings are based on nature. It is the same nature which Providence has decreed and since it is divinely ordained, it can admit of no change. Thus religion means this very unchangeable nature of man. 
 

It is clear from this that a system of permanent and stable principles is quite necessary for this human nature. So in its call Islam has said nothing beyond this. Thus according to Islamic ideology only such code of principles can be offered for human nature as is practicable by the people in general and particular. According to these eternal principles there can be no difference in the simple and plain life of the primitive man and the life of the present civilized man with all his complicated ways of life since their basic inherent nature is the same. Nor can the different modes of life have any effect on man's unchangeable nature, no matter whether he travels in animal-drawn vehicles, whether he travels in jet planes or atomic submarines, whether he lives in caves and eats wild roots and fruits or whether his abode is palatial buildings and his dining table is full of choicest dishes and his bed is of fur and velvet. His inherent nature is the same. 
 

These ways of life are temporary and are of little value from religion's point of view. What is aimed at is man's training. It is the development of those basic aptitudes with which man is endowed according to his capacity. This really means that Islam is another name of those aptitudes, those trends which are hidden in man. Thus Islam is to be found true to the highest standard of man's evolution. It is true by whatever criterion it is judged. So, as long as man is there in this world, so long will Islam and its code remain true and will not grow old with time. 
 

Realistic Nature of Islamic Principles

In modern law-making, the basic features of the subject of legislation are not kept in view. So it is possible that a law is made which is beneficial only partially and which is harmful as a whole and which is hidden from our eyes. Wine drinking for example is an undesirable habit and in view of its evil consequences, it can be regarded as a serious menace to human existence. Yet, in consideration of the material and financial gains that accrue from wine, government deems it justified. Such also is the case with gambling and prostitution dens. 
 

The Islamic principles are, however, quite different in their composition because they have come to us from the Creator of this universe. God has created this universe and He is in the Know of all the ins and outs of it. In His Knowledge past and future are the same. His Knowledge is in conformity with nature because He Himself has created the nature. Islam keeps in view human nature as it is and as made by God. It pays attention to this aspect and to man's natural desires and inclinations in the same way a human nature was kept in view while making the Islamic code. 
 

In the same way, while selecting the topics of Islamic injunctions, human nature has been kept in view and it has been made quite clear that these injunctions, are subordinates to their being profitable or injurious. This is an indication that there is harmony between human nature and Islamic teachings. Basic characteristics that are the topics of the injunction will remain so long as the topics themselves remain. Thus the unchangeable nature of the characteristics of things is also reflected in the unchangeable nature of Islamic injunctions. Thus the laws framed on this basis will remain so long, as this basis remains. This relationship of the Islamic principles with their effectiveness in being beneficial or harmful grants them an eternal status. 
 

For example, Islam regards the false person as an enemy of God and declares the evil flowing from the false person as breach of trust. Can this now be said that falsehood is breach of trust but only for the people living fourteen hundred years ago and that for the people in this age of science and wisdom, falsehood is not breach of trust ? 
 

Similarly, Islam has declared wine drinking as wholly unlawful. The Holy Quran treats it as an evil and describes it an act of the Devil. The Holy Prophet has called it the mother of vices and the begetter of sins. 
 

He has termed the drunkards as accursed. The punishment for a single sip of wine is eighty stripes. It can't be denied that it is only out of consideration for the ruinous consequences of wine drinking that Islam has declared it unlawful. It is also an established fact that the great harm of the intoxicants will be there so long as the intoxicants are there. 
 

Is this, therefore, not stupid for some one to say that drinking was an evil fourteen hundred years ago but in this age of space and moon flights it is not an evil at all ? No year of history passes without there being hundreds of cases of murders, suicides, defalcations, burglaries, adultery, degradation and obscenity as a direct result of this fatal poison of drinking. Can it be claimed that now this outmoded prohibition is not worth being reed ? The law that speaks the language of nature can never grow outdated and outmoded. This is so because there is no new and old for truth and reality. Truth and reality is always fresh everywhere and every time. 
 

Islam has severely censured adultery, obscenity, sex-license and lawlessness. To guard the honor of the people, it has ordered for the first time that a hundred stripes be delivered to the man and woman guilty of illicit sex relation. As compensation for this immoral act, it has also ensured by law that the public shall witness and be present at this whipping. 
 

Can any sensible person still maintain that such laws have grown old and that they are meant for backward people only or that such laws were well observed in the past but now in this age of liberty and sex freedom, they have become defunct and meaningless ? If we look at the sad plight of the West in particular and how it has lost its glamour, we will realize that these laws have not only not grown old but also will never grow old. 
 

The long and short of this is that whatever Islam has declared to be lawful and unlawful is on the basis of its being beneficial and because there is a purpose behind it and because it is expedient. Whatever is declared to be lawful in Islam is for the good of man and whatever is declared to be unlawful is in some way or another harmful for him, whether this harm is material or moral. Man is not aware of this truth about the things. There will come a time when man, on the basis of his knowledge and experience will get acquainted with them. 
 

How just are the words of the British thinker Mr. Wells ! 
 

"A religion I know and about which I have often said that it is fully aware of the secrets of creation and of the reality of things and which is co-extensive with civilization, is the religion of Islam and Islam only."    

Reality is Always Fresh

Every thing possessing factuality and reality is not only always new but also it never gets old. For instance look at the theories of Plato and Aristotle. Although two thousand five hundred years have passed, yet it is fresh and will always remain so. The passage of time does not affect it. In his time two and two made four and they make four even today, and two thousand years hence, also, two and two will make four. The upheavals of the world and the march of time have no effect on it. 
 

There is no doubt that every principle of Islam is in harmony with the system of Creation in every respect. No where in this world do we find a law as natural and as close to reality as the law of Islam. In other and better words it should be said that the principles and the teachings of Islam are reality itself. Had it not been a religion of nature, it would have been exterminated by the vicissitudes of the world. Rather it is very much alive to this day, though it had no material props for its survival. Nor does it have them now. This is in spite of the fact that in every age all attempts were made to wipe it off and such attempts are still being made. The secret of it all is that it has a touch of the supernatural and its progress is bright. The great thinkers of the West are amazed at this. The reason is that Islam is a natural constitution and it accords with the nature of life. It will exist so long as the world exists. 
 

Although fourteen hundred years have passed, the greatness and grandeur of this religion is quite apparent from the fact that what the Holy Prophet (S) said at that time is true even today and for man's happiness and wisdom it is quite necessary to act upon the constitution he provided. For this reason his message is always fresh and vital. For and in every age it has in its soul a noble and casting ideal of life worthy of the human race. 
 

Only by adherence to Islam can man come out safe and successful from the storm of life. It is only by acting on its principles that man create harmony between his life and the vast creation of Allah. 
 

Thus it is that the Islamic way of life and man's progress and civilization, can never be at conflict with each other, since Islam gives guidance along the path of God by giving a man and instilling in him a sense of his responsibility and a sense of his greatness in making sacrifices for a high and sacred cause. 
 

The Nature of Islamic Laws

The injunctions of the revealed religions are of two kinds. The first kind consists of injunctions that are stable and invariable, these do not die out with the passage of time but rather join a higher form of religion despite vicissitudes of the world. 
 

The second kind of injunctions are specific in respect of time, place and conditions. Such injunctions get worn out and become outdated with the passage of time and they are replaced by new ones. It is in respect of such laws that we say, "the old religion has changed yielding place to new." 
 

The displaced injunctions are also meant to operate only for a time and place and as such they represent reality though in part only. How is it then possible that one reality should displace another reality ? On this ground, a new religion need not annul all the injunctions of the old religions. Rather there are in the revealed religions injunctions that are stable and unchanging and towards which all the prophets right from Adam to the last Prophet Muhammad (S) have invited the people. 
 

It is also possible that annulment of a law is provided for in a religion's constitution. There may be a law which may be superceded by another law. In Islam itself there are examples of this and they have been regarded as unstable and variable. 
 

In view of man's stable and unchanging needs, Islam has formulated stable and unchanging laws and considering his changing needs has also foretold the change in its modus operande. Thus in an Islamic society the operative laws are of two kinds. 
 

1. Eternal Laws 
 

2. Variable Laws 
 

The first kind includes those laws which were revealed to the Holy Prophet for a natural religion. And which were declared to be operative for mankind under all circumstances. For example. there are principles like justice, peace, liberty, cleanliness, the keeping of covenants, truthfulness, righteousness, honesty, doing good to all, sacrifice, fight for the right cause, love and sincerity, obedience of Allah, abstaining from cruelty and aggression, Combating undue discrimination, corruption and tens of other rules of morality. Similarly, Islam prohibits defamation, discord and dissention, libertinism, falsehood and forgery .These are questions of eternal values which admit of no change. Even after millions of years tyranny will not become good and justice will not become bad. The important portion of the teachings of Islam is concerned with these abiding principles which do not change in any age. 
 

Thus an elucidation of this truth is to be found in the traditions, that what Muhammad (S) declares to be lawful is lawful till the Day of Judgment and that what Muhammad (S) declares to be unlawful is unlawful for all time to come. Time has no effect on such laws. Like the exact formula of mathematics they remain exact at all times. This is so because there is at their back the basic needs as dictated by nature inherent in man. It is an established fact that human nature will remain the same so long as man remains man. There can be no change in this. 
 

The second kind consists of laws that are framed according to the exigencies of time and place. These laws are not based on a strong and stable foundation. So they keep on changing according to the development of civilization and according to good or bad circumstances. Such laws depend on time and place for their existence, because it originates from human requirements which change with the passage of time. The questions covered by this portion include the relations and treaties of the Muslim countries with non-Muslims, political and economic relations, defense tactics, defense requirements and many other similar questions. 
 

There is no denying of the fact that such things do change, and every age has its own especialities. But Islamic teachings, in this field consists of a large number of general rules which are applicable to every age and meet all requirements of the changing circumstances. 
 

For example, in connection with defense preparations and equipping military forces, the Holy Quran says: "Prepare you (Muslim), against them whatever you can of forces and well-fed horses to put terror amongst the enemies of Allah and your enemies." 
 

It is remarkable that after enunciating the general rule utmost preparation should be made against the enemy and every possible war equipment should be acquired. It has been expressly stated that the aim is not aggression or manslaughter. but the aim is to fill the enemy with awe so that he may be terrified and may not venture to resort to war 
 

This is an example of the general rules of Islam to meet the requirement of every age. The same is the case with all questions which undergo a change with the passage of time. In fact Islam has a series of general rules, details of which can in every age be adapted to particular requirements. 
 

Besides those divine leaders who are a competent authority in this respect, have certain powers which have been scrupulously defined in Islamic law. Using these powers they (Mujtahids), can, when necessary, meet the requirements of any special circumstances. The well-known decree forbiding temporarily the use of tobacco and enjoining the economic blockade of a foreign imperialistic company, which was issued in Iran by a religious authority in 1309 A.H. to counter foreign influence, was of this very nature. In Islamic terminology, such a decree is called "Hukm-al-Faqih" a jurist's order. 
 

Righteous Rulers Protect Religion from Getting State

To meet the changing needs of society, Islam has kept in view the mode of life of the same nature and has thus rendered, the changing conditions stable and unchanging. In this connection. Islam has permitted the Spiritual Guide to issue judgements in accordance with the requirements of time and frame rules and implement them accordingly. 
 

Although these rules are to be issued in the same manner as the stable ones, yet they have difference of their own. In that difference, they have to depend for their life and stability on those needs and requirements which have given them birth and to which they are subordinate. Since the Islamic Society is revolutionary and evolutionary in nature, so also these codes of laws keep on changing, yielding place to new and better codes of rules. 
 

This is the reason why the verse "Ulil amre minkum" enjoins that the Spiritual Guide is to be obeyed in the same way as God and the Holy Prophet are. Apparently these powers, in the first phase are associated with the person of the Holy Prophet and with his government. After the Holy Prophet, the powers are associated with the governments of the Imams (Spiritual Guides) and afterwards, through them, with the other lawful governments. 
 

Thus, in the first phase, after the Holy Prophet, the spiritual guides are the persons of the Holy Imams who incorporate within themselves divine chastity and after them, in the subsequent phase, only those persons will be the holders of this high honor, who truly represent them and who are their deputies. 
 

The jurisdiction of these powers is very wide. An Islamic Government, in consideration, of new circumstances and new requirements of the time, can frame laws according to the basic principles of Islam and the traditions of the Holy Prophet, if such laws did not exist before. 
 

Islamic rulers have the power to meet the changing needs and new situations of every age and country and fulfill the demands of the Muslim Society in such a way that the fundamental provisions of Islam are neither annulled nor infringed. 
 

Ijtehad

It means assiduous efforts to deduce a ruling from the Holy Quran, the sayings and doings of the Holy Prophet and the Imams for a comprehension of divine injunctions. 
 

At present this deduced decision (Ijtehad) imposes upon the sages and the learned scholars a serious and highly responsible duty. During the regime of the Holy Prophet, Ijtehad (deduced decision) had a sensitive and foundational role and in reality it is a bridge that connects the future with the past. This is the prerequisite to keep the Islamic Code eternal and it has rightly been termed as the dynamic force of Islam. 
 

The highly esteemed Muslim Philosopher Abu Ali Sina (370- 428 A.H.) has stated this question in sparkling style thus :

The unchanging and stable principles of Islam are limited. But accidents and events bring along with them specific problems. Therefore, it is essential that in every age, there should be a band of scholars, well-versed in Islamic code, well-acquainted with the world problems and with the demands of the time so that it could bear the responsibility of finding solution of these problems on the basis of Ijtehad, that is to deduce a judgment for the problems from the holy book and the traditions. 
 

Why not so ? The world is advancing with terrific speed and this is necessarily giving birth to such strange new problems as could never be conceived in the past. In meeting out these new demands, there is genuine need for such a living and enlightened jurisprudence, as will keep abreast of time and as will reconcile man's new life with the connotation and denotation of Islamic Jurisprudence, so that along with the advancement of knowledge, the spirit of religion could be instilled into human mind and heart. 
 

According to the needs of the time, they have to present Islamic jurisprudence in such a manner as to justify its needs to understand and solve the new problems in its light and guidance. This is essential so that religion should not get stale and stagnated in the new set-up and relapse into the past. 
 

Among the traditions of deduced decisions and emolution, one states:

Ishaque son of Yaqub, submitted a letter to the Imam of the time, in which he had stated the remedy he had discovered for the adversities which had befallen him. Muhammad Bin Usman Samic. The special representative of the Imam, put up this letter before him. The Imam replied to the letter in his own hand :

In respect of adversities and events you should refer to our narrators as they are the proof of us for you as we are the proof of Allah. 
 

In this tradition actual adversities mean the new problems cropping up. The writer had raised a question as' what they should do when confronted by a problem and when they have no access to the Imam. The Imam replied that in a case like that they should refer the matter to the jurist and to the man in authority. 
 

Some contemporary jurists are of the opinion that the occurrences don't mean problems and religion's decisions since this is quite common to the Shia sect that in these matters the reference should be made to the jurists. They think that there occurrences mean those problems which keep cropping up in the life of the Muslims, that is they wholly encompass the cultural, intellectual, social, political and economic events. 
 

At any rate, whether they signify event and occurrences or whether they signify those new problems which crop up and subside in every age and time, they really have only one meaning that in both the cases, you have to refer to the jurists and the narrators to know your duty in that respect. This is an enlightened precaution of Shia jurisprudence that during every age new problems keep on growing, for which the old law offers no solution. Thus it is essential for jurisprudence to take due notice of the truth and after weighing them in the balance of knowledge and deduced decisions, solve them and furnish an answer for them. 
 

By a study of and research into the juristic compilations of different countries, it is concluded that ever new problems do crop up and the jurists do furnish solutions for them. Thus slowly has our jurisprudence grown in volume. For example, when we study the books of jurisprudence prior to Shaikh Abu Jafer Tusi, 400 A.H., we come to know how brief they are and how limited were the problems then. Then Shaikh Tusi widened the scope of jurisprudence and brought about a revolution through the compilation of his renowned book , "Al-Mabsoot." 
 

Thus from age to age, through the efforts of the jurists, and the scholars, the volume of jurisprudence kept on growing, until a century ago it was possible for the author of 'Jawaher' to complete one series of jurisprudence by dint of hard labour of a life time. 
 

So extensive has jurisprudence grown in our time, that it is not possible for any single person either to write or teach a full series of jurisprudence with research and interpretation. From this truth, it is easily known how Islam, in different periods of history , has forestalled the problems of change, revolution and newness and how it has held the jurists responsible in confronting these problems. This is precisely the secret of Ijtehad that it should reconcile Islam with the demands of the Age. Thus Islam encompass all the decisions and injunctions that are to be issued and awarded till the Day of Judgment, and which decisions and injunctions, this world will need for its good fortune and for the completion of its evolution. 
 

In "Al-Kafi " there is a whole book, the topic of which precisely is "All needs of mankind are covered by the holy book and the traditions ". The Holy Quran explains every thing. The Imam states on oath that all the needs, that will arise during all ages for the Muslims, are to be found in Islam and that there is no room for any doubt about it.

This is not merely a claim. On the contrary it is a reality which has been acknowledged by the legal experts of the East and the West. They also accept the high teachings of Islam as a dynamic school of lasting legal system. 
 

The esteemed philosopher of Europe, Santayana says that " the Code of Islamic Jurisprudence is so full of legal provisions, that it has to be admitted that for the organisation of Muslim Society it is a perfect legal system." 
 

Prof. Hockin, Professor of Philosophy in the Harvard University and a renowned American scholar in his famous book after criticizing the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence states : 
 

The secret of progress for the Islamic countries does not be in aping the values and the ways of the Western life and to install them in their own life. Some people ask whether there is room for the creation of new thoughts in Islam and whether a stable and distinguished code could be framed as could agree with and be in conformity with the new needs and demands of life ? 
 

The answer to this query is that not only does Islam have the potential for every kind of progress but it also has greater capacity of evolution than other systems. 
 

The difficulty of the Islamic countries is not that its system of life has no room for progress. The difficulty really is the deplorable lack of will on their part to derive any benefit from those provisions of the Islamic Code as admit of this evolution. 
 

Prophet Muhammad (S) 
 

In the wake of the seventh century of the Christian era, a youthful man in the prime of his life could be seen walking in the streets of Holy Mecca, deep in his own thoughts, yet with a gentle smile, never forgetting to return the salutations of the lowliest, or to pause and speak a few kindly words to children who flocked around him wherever he went. 
 

The young man with deep wistful eyes and a sweet gentle disposition, painfully sensitive about human sufferings, carried with him an air of nobility and grace that inspired love and respect amongst his kinsmen. Even in those days he was known as Sadiq and Amin (the truthful and the trusted). As a lover of nature, and quietude he worried about human sufferings, and very often retired to Mount Hira for meditation. One night a voice communicated him the following divine message: 
 

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful.

Recite in the Name of your Sustainer who created. Created man from a clot.

Taught man what he knew not.

After an interval the Voice from Heaven spoke again, "O you, enwrapped in the mantle, arise and warn, and glorify your Lord."

This was a signal for him to start preaching. In the beginning, Prophet Muhammad (S) invited only those near him to accept the new faith. The first to embrace Islam amongst women was his wife Khadijah, and the first amongst man was his cousin Ali (A). 
 

Muhammad (S), the last Prophet, is regarded as the institute of the highest and final divine training. By the time he was raised to apostolate, as the result of persistent and long-drawn efforts of the past prophets, the religious consciousness of the people had reached such a level that they could receive the best and the most perfect laws, could understand the highest items of knowledge and could preserve for ever the heritage of the prophets. 
 

With the raising of the Prophet of Islam a complete program and a code of comprehensive laws have been placed at the disposal of humanity. The implementation of the laws and teachings of Islam, would ensure the prosperity and happiness of human beings in this as well as the next world. They were adequate for the guidance of people during the period of the Holy Prophet and they are equally adequate for the prosperity of the present age as well as the progressive generations of the future. 
 

Seeing that the new religion posed a threat to their vested interests, the tribe of Quraish tortured Prophet Muhammad (S) and all converts to the new faith. But the Muslims held fast to their faith in spite of unbearable hostility and suffering. 
 

In the 13th year of his prophet hood occurred the most momentous Night of Migration (known as the Night of Hijra) from which date the Muslim era begins. 
 

Before he left, however, his enemies had made a plan to assassinate him whilst he was sleeping in his bed. God through Angel Gabriel made the Holy Prophet aware of the dastardly intention of his enemies. To make good his escape and to make his enemies believe that he was in bed, he asked Imam Ali (A) to lie in his place. 
 

On the day the Holy Prophet set his sacred feet on the soil of Yasrib, the natives named their city Medinat-un-Nabi (City of the Prophet), to commemorate that historical day. 
 

The Holy Prophet created a brotherhood between the immigrants and an equal number of well-to-do Medinans. They worked together to earn their livelihood, and aided one another in the business of life. Thus the problem of rehabilitation of the displaced persons was solved satisfactorily. 
 

The Holy Prophet then invited the representatives of the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims of Medina and with their assent, endowed the city with a written constitution. Therein he defined the duties and rights both of the citizens and the head of the state-the Prophet Muhammad (S), who was unanimously hailed as such. 
 

This document laid down principles of defense and foreign policy. It recognized that the Prophet Muhammad (S) would have the final word in all differences. It also recognized the liberty of religion for all. 
 

The news of the success and glory of Islam kindled the fires of jealousy amongst the idolators of the Quraish in general and the Ummayyads in particular. They conspired with the Jews to uproot the Muslims. There was widespread treachery all round and the Prophet, who had never wielded a weapon, was now compelled to defend Islam by the force of arms. Commencing from the battle of Badr, a series of battles were fought in which the newly formed community defended themselves successfully. None of these battles were of aggression. Each and every one was for the defense of Islam. 
 

Seven years later, the Holy Prophet entered the holy Mecca as a conqueror. He who was once a fugitive in this town, persecuted by his kinsmen, entered to prove grandeur of Islam with acts of mercy and generosity. 
 

During the ten years in Medina, Prophet Muhammad (S) presided over the commonwealth of Islam, and a great change had come over the character of the Arab people. By the appointment of delegates to the different tribes and cities, with powers to decide internal as well as tribal disputes, the ancient system of private vendetta was put to an end and impetus given to trade and commerce. The style of living and mode of dressing underwent a great change especially among the women. The reckless freedom of heathenism was abandoned, and manners became decorous, almost austers ; gambling and drinking were forbidden. Before this there had been no privacy in houses; from this time it became customary to have special apartment for women. 
 

Within a few years Prophet Muhammad (S) established order and inspired in his people the belief in One God, prohibited idolatory and made the people ponder not only of this world but the world beyond. He asked them to practice charity, goodness, justice and universal love. The whole mission was achieved in his lifetime. 
 

The Holy Prophet was occupied all the while in looking after the new Islamic State and had no thoughts for his personal welfare. A number of believers therefore requested him to permit them to buy land and build house for him. The reply revealed by God was :

"Say, I do not ask of you any reward, but love for the nearest of my kin" 
 

Thereupon the believers asked the Holy Prophet whose love was made incumbent on them ? The Holy Prophet answered, "Love for Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain " (Peace be upon them). 
 

Anybody who studies the laws and teachings of Islam carefully and minutely and compares them with others can easily realize the superiority of the laws of Islam. That is why Prophet Muhammad (S) is the last prophet, and no other prophet is to come after him. The Holy Quran has described him as the seal of the Prophets. To believe that Muhammad (S) is the last prophet is one of the fundamentals of Islam and anybody who does not believe so, cannot be considered to be a Muslim. Thus Islam is the last revealed religion. The Holy Quran expressly says: "Muhammad is not the father of any of you men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets ". (It may be noted that the Arabic word, 'Khatam' which is translated as seal, originally meant concluding or ending. It came to mean seal, because seal is customarily affixed at the end of every covenant and treaty). 


Successors of The Prophet (S)



 

Hence, it may be said with certainty that the Prophet who was earnestly anxious about its safety, could not leave the tender plant of Islam unattended and exposed to danger. 
 

At the same time, it was also not possible to leave the selection to the choice of the people for the successors of a Prophet must have special qualities of knowledge, piety and infallibility. Obviously it is not possible for anybody except Allah to know who possesses these qualities. These are not the things to be decided by consultation or election. 
 

Hence, it is evident that the successor of a prophet must be nominated by Allah Himself. That is why the Prophet of Islam, all through his life and especially during the last year when he felt that his demise was imminent, introduced Imam Ali (A) as his successor on various occasions. We have all heard the story of Ghadir-al-Khum. It was one such occasion. This story is recorded in all books of history . 
 

This event took place towards the end of the Prophet's life when he was returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage (the last Hajj). At a place known as Ghadir-al-Khum, the Prophet formally proclaimed Imam Ali (A) as his successor in the presence of ten of thousands of people. 
 

Unfortunately, certain people for various reasons did not allow this will of the Prophet to be carried out and thus became the source of a split among the Muslims. 
 

Each of the eleven other members of the Prophet's family (Ahlul Bait) who succeeded him, was also nominated by the Imam preceding him. The chain of authority of the reports of these nominations are recorded in our authentic books of traditions. 
 

As mentioned earlier, the Imams are selected exclusively through nomination by the Holy Prophet and the preceding Imam. In fact, they are appointed by Allah who alone can determine their suitability. 
 

Besides, history bears testimony to the fact that Imam Ali (A) and other Imams possessed such outstanding virtues as made them exclusively well-fitted for the leadership of the Muslims. Study of history and the sources of Islamic traditions shows that none of the companions of the Prophet was equal to Imam Ali (A) in knowledge, piety and virtue. 
 

Functions and Qualifications of an Imam

Islam prescribes very high qualification for a divine leader. He should be the most knowledgeable, the most wise, and the most gallant of all. He should also be immune from every kind of sin, mistake and error. The Prophet and the Imams, besides being religious leaders, are in their capacity as leaders of society, responsible for all government functions, and as such should possess the requisite qualifications to shoulder that responsibility. 
 

The Prophet is the founder of religion and Imam is its protector. Both of them are appointed by Allah. At the most the Prophet alone receives revelation, and the Imam is heir to all the prophetic knowledge. He does not receive revelation, but he is master of all the details of Prophet's religious system. 
 

Both the Prophet and the Imam have a special constructive role, and do not shirk any sacrifice in the interest of the Muslim society. 
 

The role, played by Imam Husain (A) in fighting the hypocrites and in toppling over the machine of tyranny, by Imam Baqir (A) and Imam Sadiq (A) in spreading Islamic knowledge and other sciences, and by Imam Ali Reza (A) in defending Islamic tenets and in providing intellectual guidance against the invasion of foreign ideas at the time of spread of Islam over vast territories of the world, are undeniable. The same is true of the role played by other Imams in their respective circumstances. Thus besides performing the functions which were common to all of them as religious heads, each of these leaders had a special mission in conformity with the special circumstances of his age and time, and he did not refrain from making any sacrifice in carrying it out. 
 

It has already been proved that an Imam must be nominated by Allah and his Prophet for none else can know who is infallible. 
 

As such it is the bounden duty of the Prophet to introduce his successor to the people. Should he not do so, he would fail in his prophetic mission. That is why we believe that the Holy Prophet did nominate his successor and Imam of the Muslims. 
 

The Prophet not only nominated his immediate successor but also named all the succeeding Imams. In a large number of traditions, which have come down to us from the Prophet, the number of the Imams has been stipulated as twelve. The Holy Prophet said that there would be 12 Caliphs after him and all of them would belong to the tribe of Quraish. The first one would be Ali and the last one the promised Mehdi (A). In certain other traditions names of all the 12 Caliphs have been expressly mentioned. 
 

Pillars of Islamic Polity
 

Amir Al Mo'mineen Imam Ali (A)

Imam Ali (A), the first Imam, was the cousin of the Holy Prophet. He was born on Friday, the 13th Rajab in the Holy Ka'aba. 
 

He was brought up under the tutelage of the Holy Prophet. As Imam Ali (A) says: "The Holy Prophet brought me up in his own arms and fed me with his own morsel. I followed him where ever he went like a baby camel following its mother. Each day a new aspect of his character would beam out of his noble person and I would accept it and follow it as a command." This is why Imam Ali (A) was the treasure of the prophetic knowledge. 
 

Ten years in the company of the Holy Prophet had kept him so close and inseparable that he was one with him in character, knowledge, self-sacrifice, forbearance, bravery , generosity, oratory and eloquence. From his very infancy, he prostrated before God along with the Holy Prophet. As he himself said: "I was the first to pray to God along with the Holy Prophet." 
 

"Imam Ali (A) persevered in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet," says a famous historian Allama Masoodi, "all along his childhood." God created him pure and holy and kept him steadfast on the right path. Though Imam Ali (A) is undisputably the first to embrace Islam when the Holy Prophet called upon his listeners to do so, yet by the very fact that since his infancy he was brought up by the Holy Prophet and followed him in every action and deed including prostration before God, he can be said to be born a Muslim. 
 

Imam Ali (A), at all times, accompanied the Holy Prophet to help and protect him from his enemies. He used to write down the verses of the Holy Quran and discuss them with the Prophet as soon as they were revealed by the holy messenger, the Angel Gabriel. He was so closely associated with the Holy Prophet that as soon as a verse was revealed to him during the day or night, Imam Ali (A) was the first to hear it. 
 

The Holy Prophet has said to Imam Ali (A) :

a) "O Ali ! you are my brother in this world as well as the Hereafter."

b) "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is the gate." 
 

The character and calibre of Imam Ali (A) as judged by Allama Masoodi is, "If the glorious name of being the first Muslim, a comrade of the Prophet in exile, his faithful companion in the struggle for faith, his intimate associate in life, and his kinsman; if a true knowledge of the spirit of his teachings and of the Book; if self-abnegation and practice of justice; if honesty, purity, and love of truth ; if the knowledge of law and science, constitute a claim to pre-eminence, then all must regard Ali as the foremost Muslim. We shall search in vain to find, either among his predecessors or among his successors, those attributes." 
 

In the last year of his life, the Holy Prophet had gone to Mecca to perform pilgrimage. On his return journey when he reached Ghadir al-Khum, this verse was revealed to him. "O Messenger, convey to the people what has been sent down to you from your Lord; for if you do not do that, you will not be doing justice to His Message. Allah will protect you from the mischievous deeds of the people." 
 

The Holy Prophet stopped there and ordered other Muslims also to stop. Some 70,000 people assembled around him. He ordered a pulpit to be raised. After the pulpit was ready he ascended it and lifted Ali (A) on his hands so that the people may see him. Then he said: "Whoever considers me to be his master and patron; he should consider Ali also to be his master and patron. O Allah! Be the friend of him who is friend of Ali and be enemy of him who is enemy of Ali." 
 

Gibbon says, "The birth, the alliance, the character of Ali which exalted him above the rest of his countrymen, might justify his claim to the vacant throne of Arabia. The son of Abu Talib was in his own right the chief of Bani Hashim and the hereditary prince or guardian of the city and temple of Mecca." 
 

Imam Ali (A) had the qualifications of a poet, a soldier and a saint; his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and religious sayings; and every antagonist, in the combats of the tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valour. From the first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, the Holy Prophet was never forsaken a generous friend. whom he delighted to name his brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses. 
 

In the 40th year of Hijra, in the small hours of the morning of 19th Ramazan, Imam Ali (A) was struck with a poisoned sword by a Kharejite while offering his prayers in the Mosque of Kufa. He died on the 21st day of Ramazan, and was buried in Najaf al-Ashraf. He was born in the House of God, the Holy Ka'aba and martyred in the House of God, the Mosque of Kufa. The Lion of God, the most brave- hearted and gentle Muslim that ever lived, began his glorious life with devotion to Allah and His Apostle and ended it in the service of Islam. 
 

"And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive but you do not perceive." 
 

Imam Hasan (A) 
 

The elder son of Imam Ali (A) was born on 15th Ramazan, 3 A.H. in Medina. Having received the happy news of his grandson's birth, the Holy Prophet came to the house of his beloved daughter Fatima, took the newly born in his arms and named him, Hasan. 
 

The first phase of seven years of the second Imam's infancy was blessed with the gracious patronage of the Holy Prophet, who gifted him all his great qualities and adored him with divine knowledge to such an extent that he was outstanding in his knowledge, tolerance, intelligence, bounty and valour, he being infallible by birth and decorated with heavenly knowledge by God. 
 

The demise of the Holy Prophet was followed by an eventful era when the Islamic world came in the grip of the fever of expansionism and conquest. But even under such a revolutionary phase, Imam Hasan kept devoting himself to the second mission of peacefully propagating Islam and the teachings of the Holy Prophet along with his great father Imam Ali (A) 
 

The majority of Muslims pledged their allegiance to him. No sooner had he taken the reins of leadership into his hands than he had to meet the challenge of Muawiyah, the Governor of Syria, who declared a war against him. In compliance with the Will of God and with a view to refrain from causing the massacre of Muslims, however, he entered into a peace treaty with Muawiyah on terms which saved Islam and stopped a civil war. But this peace treaty was never meant as a surrender by him of the permanent leadership to Muawiyah. It was meant only as an interim transfer of the administration of the Islamic heritage, subject to the condition that the administration would be surrendered back to Imam Hasan (A) after Muawiyah's death and then it would in turn be inherited by Imam Husain (A). Having relieved himself of the administrative responsibilities, Imam Hasan (A) kept the religious leadership with himself and devoted his life to the propagation of Islam and the teachings of the Holy Prophet in Medina." 
 

Imam Hussain (A) 
 

Imam Husain, the third Imam was born on 3r'd of Shaban, 4 A.H. in Medina. On his birth, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) prophesied that the faith of Islam would be rescued by his second grandson Husain (A). 
 

Yazid was known for his devilish character and brutish conduct. He was known as the most licentious of men. The people having known and understood the character of Yazid, formed a convenant by which Muawiyah could not appoint Yazid as his successor. There, however, existed an undertaking known to a few, whereby Muawiyah had pledged to appoint Imam Husain (A) as his successor. This undertaking was given by Muawiyah to Imam Hasan (A). Muawiyah violated this undertaking and nominated Yazid as his successor . 
 

Yazid demanded allegiance from the Holy Imam Husain (A), who could have never agreed to it at any cost. The people, fearing death and destruction at the hands of the tyrant, had yielded to him out of fear. Imam Husain (A) said that come whatever may, he would never yield to the devil in place of God and undo what his grandfather, the Holy Prophet had established. 
 

The refusal of the Holy Imam to pay allegiance to this fiend marked the start of the persecution of the Holy Imam. As a result, he had retired to Medina where he led a secluded life. Even here he was not allowed to live in peace, and was forced to seek refuge in Mecca where also he was badly harassed and Yezid plotted to murder him in the very precincts of the great sanctuary of Ka'aba. 
 

In order to safeguard the great sanctuary, Imam Husain (A) decided to leave Mecca for Kufa just a day before the Hajj (pilgrimage). When asked the reason for the mysterious departure from Mecca, fore-going the pilgrimage which was to be held only the next day, Imam Husain (A) said that he would perform the year's pilgrimage at Kerbala, offering the sacrifice not of any animals, but of his kith and kin and some faithful friends. 
 

When the Holy Imam with his encourage had reached Kerbala, he declared: " This is the land, the land of sufferings and tortures." He alighted from his horse, and ordered his followers to encamp there saying, "Here shall we and our children be martyred. This is the land about which my grandfather, the Holy Prophet had foretold, and his prophecy will certainly be fulfilled." 
 

At dawn of l0th Muharram, the Imam glanced the army of Yazid and saw Ibn Sa'ad ordering his forces to march towards him. He gathered is followers and addressed them thus: "Allah has, this day, permitted us to be engaged in holy War, and He shall reward us for our Martyrdom. So prepare yourselves to fight against the enemies of Islam with patience and perseverance. O sons of the noble and self-respecting persons, be patient ! Death is nothing but a bridge which you must cross after facing trials and tribulations so as to reach the Heaven and its joys. Which of you do not like to go from this prison (world) to the lofty palaces (Paradise) ?"

Having heard the Imam's address, all his companions were overwhelmed and cried out, "O our Master! We are all ready to defend you and your Ahlul-Bait, and to sacrifice our lives for the cause of Islam." 
 

Imam Husain (A) sent out from his camp his followers one after another to fight and sacrifice their lives in the way of the Lord. Lastly, when all his men and children had laid down their lives, Imam Husain brought his six-month old baby son Ali Asghar, and holding him on his own hands, demanded some water for the baby, dying of thirst. The thirst of the baby was quenched by a deadly poisoned arrow from the brute forces, which pinned the baby's neck to the arm of the helpless father. At last when the six month old baby was also killed, Imam Husain (A) addressed God: "O Lord ! your Husain has offered in your way whatever you had blessed him with. Bless your Husain, O Lord, with the acceptance of this sacrifice. Everything Husain could do till now was through your help and by your grace." Lastly Imam Husain (A) came into the field and was killed. The details of his merciless slaughter are heart-rending. The forces of Yezid, having killed Imam Husain (A), cut and severed his head from his body and raised it on a lance. The severed head of the Holy Imam began glorifying God from the point of the lance saying "Allaho Akbar." All glory be to God Who is the Greatest ! 
 

Imam Zain-ul-Abedin (A)

The fourth Imam Ali (A) was born in Medina on 15th Jamadi-ul-Awwal, 37 A.H. (685 A.D.). He was popularly titled as "Zain-ul-Abedin." 
 

The Holy Imam Zain-ul-Abedin lived for about 34 years after his father and all his life he passed in prayers and supplication to God and in remembrance of his martyred father. It is for his ever being in prayers to God, mostly lying in prayerful prostration, that this Holy Imam was popularly called "Sajjad." 
 

The Holy Imam was not given the time to offer his prayers peacefully, nor could he deliver any sermons. This God's Vicegerent on earth, therefore, adopted a third course which proved to be very beneficial to his followers. This was in compiling supplicative invocations for the daily use of man in his endeavor to approach the Almighty God. The invaluable collection of his edited invocations is, known as "Sahifatul Kamilah" The collection is an invaluable treasury of wonderfully effective invocations to the Lord in an inimitably beautiful language. Only those who have ever come across those invocations would know their excellence and blessedness. Through these invocations, the Imam gave all the necessary guidance to the faithful during his seclusion. 
 

 
 

Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (A)

The fifth Imam Muhammad (A) was born in Medina on first Rajab, 57 A-.H. (677 A.D.) He was popularly titled as "Al-Baqir." 
 

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) was brought up in the holy lap of his grandfather Imam Husain (A), for three years. For 34 years he was under the gracious patronage of his father, Ali Zain-ul-Abedin. A famous scholar belonging to the Sunnite school says: "Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) has disclosed the secrets of knowledge and wisdom and unfolded the principles of character, his God-given knowledge, his divinely-gifted wisdom, and his obligation and gratitude towards the spreading of knowledge. He was a sacred and a highly talented and spiritual leader and for this reason, he was popularly titled as "Al-Baqir" which means "the expounder of knowledge." Kind of heart, spotless in character, sacred of soul and the Imam devoted all his time in submission to God (and in advocating the teachings of the Holy Prophet and his descendants). It is beyond the power, of a man to recount the deep impression of knowledge and guidance left by the Imam on the hearts of the faithful. His sayings about devotion and abstinence, knowledge and wisdom, and about religious exercise and submission to God are so great in number that the size of this book is quite insufficient to cover them all (Sawayeq-e-Mohreqa, p. 120). 
 

Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (A)

The sixth Imam Jafar (A) was born on Friday. The 7th Rabi-ul-Awwal, 83 A.H. at Medina. His famous title was as-Sadiq. He was brought up by his grandfather; the Holy Imam Zain-ul-Abedin (A) for 12 years, and then remained under the sacred patronage of his father the Holy Imam Muhammed al-Baqir (A) for a period of nineteen years. 
 

The period of his Imamate coincided with the most revolutionary and eventful era of Islamic history which saw the downfall of the Ummayyad Empire and the rise of the Abbasid Caliphate. The internal wars and political upheavals were bringing about speedy changes in the government. Thus the Holy Imam witnessed the reigns of various kings starting from Abdul Malik down to the Ummayyad ruler Marwan Ibn Hakm. He further survived till the time of Abul Abbas al-Saffah and Mansoor among the Abbasids. It was due to the political strife between two groups viz. the Ummayyads and the Abbasids for power that the Imam was left alone undisturbed to carry out his devotional duties and peacefully to carry on his mission to propagate Islam and spread the teachings of the Holy Prophet. 
 

The downfall of the Ummayyads and the rise of the Abbasids constituted the two principal plots in the drama of Islamic history. This was the most chaotic and revolutionary period when the morals of the Muslims had gone down and the teachings of the Holy Prophet were being neglected, and a state of anarchy was rampant. It was amidst such deadly gloom that the virtuous personage of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (A) stood like a beacon of light shedding its lustre to illuminate the ocean of sinful darkness around. The world got inclined towards his virtuous and admirable personality. Abu Salma Khallal also offered him the throne of the Caliphate. But the Imam keeping up the characteristic tradition of his ancestors flatly declined to accept it, and preferred to content himself with his devotional pursuits and service to Islam. On account of his great learning, he was always triumphant in his many debates with the priests of rival orders like the Christians and the Jews. 
 

The versatile genius of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (A) in all branches of knowledge was acclaimed throughout the Islamic world, this attracted students from far-off places towards him till the number of his disciples had reached four thousand. The scholars and experts in Divine Law have quoted many traditions from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (A). His disciples' compiled hundreds of books on various branches of science and arts. Besides. Fiqha ' (religious laws), Hadis ' (tradition), Tafsir ' (commentary), the Holy Imam also imparted lessons in mathematics and chemistry to some of his disciples. Jabir Ibn Hayyan Tartoosi, a famous scholar of mathematics, was one of the Imam's disciples who benefited from the Imam's knowledge and guidance and was able to write 400 books on different subjects. 
 

It is an undeniable historical truth that all the great scholars of Islam were indebted for their learning to the Ahlul-Bait who were the fountain of knowledge and learning for all. 
 

Allama Shibli writes in his book, "Seerat-un Nomam": "Abu Hanifa remained for a considerable period in the attendance of Imam Jafar-as-Sadiq (A) acquiring from him a great deal of precious knowledge in Fiqha and Hadis. Both the sects- Shia and Sunni - believe that the source of Abu Hanifa's knowledge was mostly derived from his association with Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (A)." 
 

The Imam devoted his whole life to the cause of religious preaching and propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet. Because of his great knowledge and fine teachings, the people gathered around him, giving him devotion and respect that was his due. This excited the jealousy of the Abbasid ruler Mansoor Dawaneeqi, who fearing the popularity of the Imam decided to do away with him. 
 

Imam Moosa Al-Kazim (A)

Imam Moosa (A), the seventh Imam, was born at Abwa on Sunday- the 7th Safar, 128 A.H. 
 

Al-Kazim was his famous title. His matchless devotion and worship of God has also earned him the title of "Abdus Saleh" (virtuous slave of God). Generosity was synonymous with his name and no beggar ever returned from his door empty handed. Even after his death, he continued to be obliging and was generous to his devotees who came to his Holy tomb with prayers and behests which were invariably granted by God. 
 

The Holy Imam ]afar-as-Sadiq (A) breathed his last on 15th Rajab 148 A.H. and with effect from the same date Imam Moosa al-Kazim (A) succeeded as the seventh Imam. The period of his Imamate continued for 35 years. In the first decade of his Imamate, Holy Imam Moosa al-Kazim (A) could afford a peaceful execution of the responsibilities of Imamate and carried on the propagation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet. But soon after, he fell a victim to the ruling kings and a greater part of his life passed in prison. 
 

His kind and generous attitude towards the people was such that he used to patronise and help the poor and the destitute of Medina and provide for them cash, food, clothes and other necessities of sustenance in secret. It continued to be a riddle for the receivers of gifts throughout the Imam's lifetime as to who their benefactor was, but the secret was not revealed until after his death. 
 

Time and circumstances did not permit the Holy Imam Moosa al-Kazim (A) to establish institutions to impart religious knowledge to his followers as his father, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (A) was never allowed to address a congregation. He carried on his mission of preaching and guiding the people quietly. He also wrote a few books of which the most famous is "Musnad-e-Imam Moosa al-Kazim". 
 

Imam Ali ar-Reza (A)

Imam Ali (A) was born at Medina on 11th Zilquad, 148 A.H. He was also known as Abul Hasan. His famous title was ar-Reza. 
 

Imam Ali ar-Reza (A) was brought up under the holy guidance of his father for 35 years. His own insight and brilliance in religious matters combined with the excellent training and education given by his father, made him unique in his spiritual leadership. Imam Reza (A) was a living example of the piety of the great Prophet and the chivalry and generosity of Imam Ali (A). 
 

Imam Reza (A) had inherited great qualities of head and heart from his ancestors. He was a versatile person and had full command over many languages. Ibn Asir Jazeri penned very rightly that Imam Reza (A) was undoubtedly the greatest sage, saint and scholar of the second century (A.H.). 
 

Imam Reza (A) was the 8th Imam and Mamoon could not help holding him in great esteem because of the Imam's piety, wisdom, knowledge, modesty, decorum and personality. Therefore he decided to nominate him as the rightful heir to the throne. Earlier in 200 A.H. he had summoned the Abbasids. Thirty three thousand Abbasids responded to the invitation and were entertained as royal guests. During their stay at the capital; he very closely observed and noted their capabilities and eventually arrived at the conclusion that not one of them deserved to succeed him. He therefore spoke to them all in an assembly in 201 A.H. telling them in categorical terms that none of the Abbasids deserved to succeed him. He demanded allegiance to Imam Reza (A) from the people in this very meeting and declared that in future, royal robes would be green, the color which had the unique distinction of being that of the Imam's dress. A royal decree was published saying that Imam Reza (A) shall succeed Mamoon and that his title shall be Ali Reza-Min-Ale-Muhammad. 
 

Even after the declaration of succession when there was every opportunity for the Imam to live a splendid worldly royal life, he did not pay any heed to material comforts and devoted himself completely to impart the true Islamic ideology of the Holy Prophet's teachings and the Holy Quran. He spent most of his time praying to God and serving the people. 
 

Imam Muhammad At- Taqi (A)

Imam Muhammad (A) was born at Medina on Friday, the l0th Rajab, 195 A.H. (811 A.D.). His famous title was at-Taqi. 
 

Imam Muhammad at-Taqi was brought up by his holy father Imam Ali ar-Reza (A) for 4 years. Under the force of circumstances, Imam Ali ar- Reza (A) had to migrate from Medina to Khorasan (Iran), leaving his young son behind him. The Imam was fully aware of the treacherous character of the ruling king and was sure that he would return to Medina no more, So before his departure from Medina he declared his son Muhammad at-Taqi his successor, and imparted to him all his treasure of divine knowledge and spiritual genius. The span of the life of Imam Muhammad at-Taqi was shorter than that of his predecessors as well as his successors. He became Imam at the age of 8 years and was poisoned at the age of 25, yet his literary attainments were many and he commanded great respect and esteem. 
 

The Holy Imam was the symbol of Prophet Muhammad's (S) affability and Imam Ali's (A) attainments. His hereditary qualities comprised of gallantry, boldness, charity, learning, forgiveness and tolerance. The brightest and most outstanding phases of his nature and character were to show hospitality and courtesy to all without discrimination, to help the needy, to observe equality under all circumstances, to live a simple life, to help the orphans, the poor and the homeless, to impart learning to those interested in the acquisition of knowledge and guide the people to the Right Path. 
 

For the consolidation of his empire, it was realized by Mamoon, the Abbasid Emperor, that it was necessary to win the sympathy and support of the Iranians who had always been friendly to the Ahlul Bait. Consequently Mamoon was forced, from a political point of view, to establish contacts with the tribe of Bani Fatima at the expense of the ties with Bani Abbas and thereby win the favour of the Shia. Accordingly he declared Imam Reza (A) as his heir even against the Imam's will and got his sister Umme Habiba married to him. Mamoon expected that Imam Ali ar-Reza (A) would lend him his support in political affairs of the state. But when he discovered that the Imam was little interested in political matters and that the masses were more and more submitting themselves to him due to his spiritual greatness, he got him poisoned. Yet the exigency which directed him to nominate Imam Ali ar-Reza (A) as his heir and successor still continued. Hence he desired to marry his daughter Ummul Fazl to Muhammad at- Taqi (A), the son of Imam Ali ar-Reza (A) and with this object in view summoned the Imam from Medina to Iraq. 
 

The Bani Abbas were extremely disconcerted when they came to know that Mamoon was planning to marry his daughter to Imam Muhammad at-Taqi (A). A delegation of some leading persons waited on him in order to dissuade him from his intention. But Mamoon continued to admire the learning and excellence of the Imam. He would say that though Imam Muhammad at-Taqi (A) was still young, yet he was a true successor to his father in all his virtues and that the profoundest scholars of the Islamic world could not compete with him. When the Abbasids noticed that Mamoon attributed the Imam's superiority to his learning, they chose Yahya Ibn Aksam, the greatest scholar and juror of Baghdad, to contend with him. 
 

Mamoon issued a proclamation and organised a grand meeting for the contest which resulted in a huge gathering of people from all parts of the kingdom. Apart from nobles and high officials, there were as many as nine hundred chairs reserved for scholars and learned men only. The world wondered how a young child could contest with the veteran judge (Qazi ul-Quzat) and the greatest scholar of Iraq in religious laws. 
 

Imam Muhammad at-Taqi (A) was seated beside Mamoon on his throne face to face with Yahya Ibn Aksam, who addressed the Imam thus :

"Do you permit me to ask you a question ?"

"Ask me whatever you wish," said the Imam in the typical tone of his ancestors. .

Yahya then asked the Imam, "What is your verdict about a man who indulges in hunting while he is in the state of "Ehram" ? (In the code of religious law, hunting is supposed to be forbidden for a pilgrim). The Imam at once replied, "Your question is vague and misleading. You should have definitely mentioned whether he hunted within the jurisdiction of the Holy Ka'aba or outside, whether he was literate or illiterate, whether he was a slave or a free citizen, whether he was a minor or a major, whether it was for the first time or he had done it previously also whether, his victim was a bird or some other creature, whether the prey was small or big, whether he hunted in the day or at night, whether the hunter repented for his action or persisted in it, whether he hunted secretly or openly, whether the "Ehram" was for Umra or for Haj. Unless all these points are explained, no specific answer can be given to this question." 
 

Qazi Yahya was staggered in listening to these words of the Imam and the entire gathering was dumb-founded. There was no limit to Mamoon's pleasure. He expressed his sentiments of joy and admiration thus, "Bravo! well done! O Abu Jafar ! (Ahsanta Ahsanta ya Abu Jafar), Your learning and attainments are beyond all praise." 
 

As Mamoon wanted that the Imam's opponent be fully exposed, he said to the Imam, "You may also put some questions to Yahya Ibn Aksam." 
 

Then Yahya also reluctantly said to the Imam, "Yes, you may ask me some questions. If I know the answer, I will tell it, otherwise I shall request you to give its answer." 
 

Thereupon the Imam asked a question to which Yahya could not reply. Eventually, the Imam answered his question. 
 

Then Mamoon addressed the audience thus: "Did I not say that the Imam comes of a family which has been chosen by Allah as the repository of knowledge and learning ? Is there anyone in the world who can match even the children of this family ?" 
 

All of them shouted, "Undoubtedly, there is no parallel to Muhammad at-Taqi (A)." 
 

At the same assembly Mamoon wedded his daughter, Ummul Fazl to the Imam and liberally distributed charity and gifts among his subjects as a mark of rejoicing. One year after his marriage, the Imam returned to Medina from Baghdad with his wife and there he set about preaching the commandments of Allah. 
 

Imam Ali An-Naqi {A)

Imam Ali an-Naqi (A) was born at Surba in the environs of Medina on Friday 15th Zilhajj. 212 A.H. 
 

Imam Ali (A), like his father, was also elevated to the rank of an Imam in his childhood. He was six years old when his father Imam Muhammad -at-Taqi (A) died. After the death of Mamoon Rashid. Mo'tasim succeeded him, and was later followed by the Caliph Wasiq Billah. In the first five years of the reign of Wasiq. Imam Ali an-Naqi (A) lived peacefully. After Wasiq Billah, Mutawakkil came to power. Being too occupied in state's affairs. Mutawakkil did not get any time to harass the Imam and his followers for four years. But as soon as he freed himself from state's affairs, he started to molest the Imam. The Holy Imam devoted himself to the sacred mission of preaching in Medina and thus earned the faith of the people as well as their allegiance and recognition of his great knowledge and attributes. This reputation of the Imam evoked the jealousy and malice of Mutawakkil against him.

The Governor of Medina wrote to Mutawakkil that Imam Ali-an-Naqi (A) had been manoeuvring a coup against the government and a multitude of Muslims were pledged to his support. Although enraged by this news, Mutawakkil still preferred the diplomacy of not arresting the Holy Imam. Under the garb of pretended respect and love towards the Imam, he planned to put him under life-imprisonment after inviting him to his palace. 
 

Imam Hasan Al-Askari (A)

Imam Hasan (A) was born at Medina, on Monday, 8th Rabi-ul-Akhar, 232 A.H. He was popularly known as al-Askari. 
 

The Holy Imam Hasan al-Askari (A) spent twenty two years of his life under the patronage of his father, the Holy Imam Ali an-Naqi (A) after whose martyrdom he became his divinely commissioned Imam. 
 

During his times the Abbasid rulers were entangled in political tussles. They, however, very much dreaded the existence of the rightful and divinely ordained Imam of the Holy Prophet, the Holy Imam Hasan al-Askari (A) and knew that the son of this Holy Imam would be the "Mehdi" or "Guide" to humanity for all times until the Day of Judgment. So these rulers inflicted all sorts of calamities on the Holy Imam and hence the greater part of his life passed in prison and many restrictions were placed on his movements. In spite of this, he were placed on his movements. In spite of this, he always discharged the duties of Imamate with cheer and matchless perseverance. 
 

The Holy Imam was ever busy in imparting religious knowledge and guiding people towards the straight path. History shows that the commentators of the Holy Quran have often quoted the interpretation of the verses of the Holy Quran from this Holy Imam. 
 

Al-Mo'tamad, the Abbasid ruler of the time, realizing that the world was ringing with the praises of this Holy Imam, became restless with jealousy, and dreading that the people would openly declare their allegiance to the Imam, had him martyred . 
 

Imam Muhammad Al-Mehdi (A)

There existed a good deal of harmony and uniformity between the aspects pertaining to the births of Prophet Muhammad (S), the last Apostle of God and Imam Mehdi (A), the last Imam. Just as the coming of the Holy Prophet was prophesied well in advance by the preceding prophets, similarly the impending news of the gracious birth of Imam, al-Mehdi (A) was foretold by the Holy Prophet (S). 
 

Innumerable traditions in this context, quoted rightly from the Holy Prophet (S), from the glowing contents of many books of Masanid, Sehah and Akhbar, and of Shia scholars, did exist. Many Sunni scholars have accumulated these traditions in complete volumes also, e.g. "Albayan fi Akhbar-Sahib- al-Zaman" by Hafiz Muhammad Ibn Yusuf Shafe'i and "Sehah-e-Abudaud" and "Sunan Ibn Maja". All the above books record the traditions bearing evidence of the coming of this Holy Imam. 
 

He was born on 15th Shaban, 255 A.H. in the city of Samarra. The momentous and singular aspect of his birth greatly resembled those under which the Prophet Moses was born. The birth of Moses (A) had signalled the downfall and extinction of the empire of Pharoah, who had ordered the slaying of all the newly born male children of Bani Israel. The Abbasid kings were similarly apprehensive of the continuous traditions of the Holy Prophet about the birth of Imam Mehdi (A), who was to bring about a curse to their (Abbasid) very empire. They were, therefore, lying in ambush to discover the birth of the Imam and so put an end to his life. But the event of the Imam's birth was enveloped and shielded by the same Divine protection and miraculous phenomenon which had marked the historical birth of Prophet Moses (A). His birth remained strictly confidential and his nursery shrouded in secrecy except to a few devotees. 
 

When the mother of the Imam was brought before al-Mo'tamad and inquiries made about the birth of the twelfth Holy Imam (A), she, in order to safe- guard her own life as well as to protect her son, replied that she had never felt the symptoms of maternity and labour pain; so, for the moment, he did not harass her, but did put her under the strict surveillance of Qazi Abu Shorab, entrusting with him the task of killing any child born to her. 
 

Soon after this incident, the Abbasid kingdom passed through a revolutionary phase which greatly bewildered Al-Mo'tamad. He was forced to face the invasion of Sahib al-Zanj, who raided Hejaz and Yemen and let loose the hounds of loot and arson throughout the Abbasid kingdom, subjecting the administration of Baghdad, the capital to utter chaos. Al-Mo'tamad was, therefore, naturally too occupied with warfare to pay any attention towards the mother of Imam (A), who was consequently released after six months and questioned no further about the birth of the twelfth Holy Imam. 
 

The Holy Imam was brought up by his father Imam Hasan al-Askari (A), the eleventh Imam, who resorted to the same underground and secret measures in rearing his child as Abu Talib had adopted in connection with safe-guarding the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S). He used to take care of his child in one portion of the house for a few days and then shift him to another with a view not to disclose the exact whereabouts of the child. 
 

While Imam Hasan al-Askari (A) kept the birth of the child and the affairs of his infancy a well-guarded secret, he did put him within access of some exclusive devotees and sincere friends in order to familiarize them with their would-be Imam to whom they would pledge their allegiance. 
 

Mentioned below are the few names, quoted from the authentic books of both Sunni and Shia sects, of people who had the honour of having personally seen the Holy Imam Mehdi (A). When Imam Hasan al-Askari's (A) son was born, he named him Muhammad and, on the third day after his birth, bringing forth the child to show him to some of his followers, declared thus : 
 

"Here is my successor and your would-be Imam ! He is the very Qaim to whose reverence your heads will bow down. He will re-appear to fill the earth with blessings and justice after it will have been abourding in sins and vices." 
 

Muawiyah Ibn Hakeem, Muah Muhammad lbn Ayyub and Muhammad Ibn Usman mentioned that they called upon Imam Hasan al-Askari (A) with a deputation of forty persons. The Holy Imam showed them his newly-born child and said :

"This is your Imam after me! All of you should unanimously submit your allegiance to him and should not allow any controversy on the subject which will lead you to peril! Mind that he will no more be visible to you." 
 

Imam Hasan al-Askari (A) died on the 8th Rabi-ul-Awwal, 260 A.H. and the day marked the inception of his son's Imamate being the source of spiritual, guidance for the whole universe. As, according to God's Will, all the affairs pertaining to the Holy Imam were to remain strictly behind the curtain, he commissioned some of his deputies and ambassadors, who had been looking after the religious affairs from the time of his father to act as the associates between the people and the concealed Imam. They conveyed the problems and religious queries of the people to the Imam and brought back the verdicts and the answers of the Imam to the people. 
 

It was by the Will of God that he disappeared and will again reappear by the Will of God. This will be a prelude to the Day of Judgment. 
 

During the period of the 'absence' , it is our duty, to be expecting the appearance of the Imam. We must devise a sound and judicious system of social development based on the Quran and present it to the world. We must prove the excellence and efficacy of divine laws to the people, and attract their attention to the divine system. We must fight superstitions and false beliefs, and pave the way for the establishment of Islamic world government. In the light of the teachings of the Quran and traditions we must chalk out a program for solving the world problems and put it at the disposal of world reforms. We must enlighten the thoughts of the people of the world and, at the same time, prepare ourselves for the appearance of the Imam and the emergence of a just world government. 
 

The Followers of Progeny of the Holy Prophet

Those who believe that Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib (A) was the immediate successor of the Holy Prophet are called Shia (Followers). The Shia regard Imam Ali (A) and his eleven infallible descendents as their leaders and Imams, and follow them. The true Shia is he who follows the example of Imam Ali (A) and other Holy Imams and considers them to be perfect. Imam Muhammad Baqir (A) said to Jabir. ; "O Jabir ! Is it enough for a person to be Shia if he claims that he is a supporter of the House of the Prophets ? By Allah, our supporter is only he who is pious and who obeys Allah. Previously, our supporters (Shia) were known for their humility, honesty, remembrance of Allah, fasting, prayer, being good to their parents and helping the neighbors, the needy, the debtors and the orphans. They were known for their truthfulness and recitation of the Holy Quran. They never spoke slightingly of anybody. They were trusted by all." Jabir said : "O Son of the Prophet! I'm not aware of anybody who possesses these qualities now-a-days." The Imam said: "O Jabir ! Don't be misled by various beliefs. Do you think it is enough for salvation that one professes to be the supporter of Ali (A) without adherence to the commands of Allah ? If somebody says that he is the supporter of the Holy Prophet, but does not follow his teachings, he will not be saved, though the Holy Prophet was superior to Ali (A). It is the duty of the Shia to fear Allah and to obey His commands. Allah has no kinship with anybody. Allah likes only those who are pious and who obey His commands. By Allah! There is no way to gain nearness to Allah except obeying Him. We cannot guarantee emancipation from hell. He who obeys Allah is our friend and he who disobeys Him is our enemy. None can become our friend except through piety and good deeds." 
 

Imam Sadiq (A) has said: "Be pious and devout. Be truthful, honest and polite. Behave well with your neighbors. Attract people to the right path through your good behavior and good conduct. Don't bring disgrace to us through your evil deeds. Prolong then your bowings and prostrations in prayer, for when a man prolongs his bowings and prostrations (Sajda), the Devil is annoyed and perturbed. He cries: "What a shame! These people obey Allah, whereas I disobeyed Him. They prostrate, whereas I abstained from prostration." 
 

On another occasion, the Imam Sadiq (A) said : "The disciples of Jesus (A) were his Shia (means followers, friends and supporters) but they were not better than our Shia. They promised him their support, but did not fulfill their promise and did not fight in the way of Allah. On the other hand, our Shia, since the demise of the Prophet uptil now, have never hesitated to support us. They have made every sacrifice for our sake. They were burnt; they were tortured; they were expelled from their homes, but they did not give up our support." 
 

What We Believe About Other Muslims

Though we differ with the Sunni on the question of Caliphate and Succession to the Holy Prophet, we consider all Muslims to be our brethren and co-religionists. Our God is the same, our Prophet is the same, our Religion is the same, our Book is the same and our Ka'aba is the same. We consider their honor and progress to be our honor and progress, their success and victory to be our success and victory and their disgrace and defeat to be our disgrace and defeat. We share with them both happiness and grief . 
 

In this respect we have been inspired by our great leader, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A). If he wanted he could defend his right to Caliphate, but in the higher interests of Islam, he, not only abstained from fighting the caliphs, but also on critical occasions rendered help to them. He never hesitated to take any action in the interest of the Muslims. 
 

We believe that the only way how the Muslim world can live as a strong nation, regain its past glory and get rid of foreign domination is that the Muslim keep themselves away from dissension and discord, concentrate their energies on the achievement of goals and take collective steps in the way of the glory of Islam and the progress and advancement of the Muslims. 
 

Islamic Teachings 
 

Islamic teachings cover the entire human life. On the whole, they are divided into two parts :

1. Man's relation with Allah

2. Man's relation with man 
 

Acts of Worship And Adoration

In acts of worship, man, by turning his mind to Allah and praying to Him with his heart, tries to make his soul transcend the material world. He tries to purge it of the impurities of sin and to cultivate high human qualities within himself. He seeks the help of Allah, the Majestic and Almighty to overcome the causes of despair and despondency, and keeps remembering Him to maintain his own sense of responsibility towards Him. The Holy Quran says:

"And keep up prayer for my remembrance." Hence it is evident that it is the worshipper himself whom the benefit of all acts of worship goes. 
 

Instructional Effect of Worship

Acts of worship are performed with particular attention and certain formalities. Allah does not require our worship. It is we, who through His worship and adoration obtain great moral and instructional benefits. 
 

According to the well-known scientist, Alexis Carrel, when it is not possible to find any logical words to infuse hope, it is worship and prayer which generate a feeling of trust and enable man to face the complex problems of life with confidence. This feeling can manifest itself in everybody. 
 

Worship leaves a definite mark on habits and manners, and for that purpose we must perform acts of worship regularly. 
 

The societies which have killed the spirit of worship, usually are not safe from corruption and decay. 
 

The effects of worship and adoration are so quick and wonderful that their manifestation can be felt physically. 
 

According to the same scientist, the result of adoration can be established scientifically also. Acts of worship affect not only emotional, but also physical conditions and sometimes even heal bodily ailments in a few moments or a few days. Islamic acts of worship are very simple and easy to perform. There are ample facilities for the sick and the weak. 
 

It is worth-noting that Islamic acts of worship, besides their emotional, psychological and moral effects, which have an individual aspect, produce remarkable social effects also. 
 

Prayer

Prayer which is one of the most important Islamic acts of worship and is performed five times every day and night with great simplicity and devotion, produces very significant moral and practical effects in strengthening the spirit of faith and purging worshippers' head and heart of the impurities of sin. As one of its conditions is cleanliness, it enjoins upon every Muslim to keep his body and dress always clean and tidy. 
 

As the dress of the person performing prayer and the place where he is performing it must not have been acquired by unlawful means, it teaches man not to wrongfully encroach upon other's property or to misappropriate it. As prayer is to be performed at the appointed timings, it teaches discipline and punctuality, and accustoms man to early rising which is the secret of the success of many world personalities.

We know that it is preferable to perform prayer in congregation at which all stand in a row without any distinction before Allah and carry out the significant and enthralling ritual in a brotherly manner . Congregational prayer is a lesson in equality, fraternity, harmony and unity. 
 

Fast

Fasting is another Islamic act of worship, which teaches self-control and resistance to passion. 
 

From the social point of view, it induces people to show practical sympathy to the deprived and the starving. Moreover, from the point of view of health and hygiene, its curative and preventive value cannot be denied. It cleanses the bodily system internally and shakes off the unconsumed food material which usually takes the form of surplus fat and over weight, and become the cause of many diseases and discomforts. Fasting is a good precautionary measure against the incidence of a number of diseases. It has curative value too. 
 

Pilgrimage (Hajj)

The holding of a great conference of world Muslims is another masterpiece of the Islamic teachings in respect of worship. The ceremonies of pilgrimage are so exciting, pure and interwoven with fraternity and equality that they deeply impress everyone without any exception. 
 

This gathering in which even now every year more than a million Muslims from all quarters of the world take part, affords an opportunity to the people of all races, color, languages and nationalities to meet on a common ground without any discrimination. Its ceremonies take a man out of his material shell which is marked with harshness and antagonism, and lifts him to an atmosphere full of devotion and virtue. They soften the emotions and enliven the feelings. 
 

The Hajj gatherings also serve the purpose of a national conference on a world level and contribute to Muslim homogeneity, both political and economic. They serve as a unifying force and a common bond among the Muslims belonging to diverse social segments, and provide them an opportunity to meet together and exchange ideas. A study of all acts of worship and devotion in Islam will show that everyone of them has both moral and social aspects. This confirms what we said earlier that the benefit of all our acts of worship goes to ourselves. 
 

Man's Relation With Other Men

This part of Islamic teachings includes all social questions. Islam with its distinctive system, teaches its adherents what they should be, how they should live and how they should discharge their duties to society. 
 

The rights which a Muslim is enjoined upon to respect are very wide and varied. They extend from the rights of the teachers, of parents, of friends and neighbors, of brothers in religion, of fellow human beings, to the rights of the animals etc . 
 

From the Islamic point of view man, being an organ of the social body, has so much importance that nothing can be equal to his life and blood. The Holy Quran says: "He who killed any person, unless it be a person guilty of man slaughter or of spreading chaos in the land, should be looked upon as though he had slain all mankind, and he who saved the life of any person, should be regarded as though he had given life to all mankind."

There is no doubt that in view of the homogeneity of all the organs of the body of a human society, the loss of one individual effects the whole society and thus in a way, the individual and the society become identical. 
 

The Holy Prophet has said that all the faithfuls are the organs of one body. If one organ suffers pain all other organs feel uneasy. 
 

The celebrated poet, Saadi Shirazi, was inspired by this very Prophetic saying when he said in. his well-known couplet that all human beings are the organs of one another. 
 

As we know, in Islam there is no problem of race, color or geographical region. It is possible that all human societies on the basis of adherence to a common ideology (Faith in Allah and the prophets and adherence to good deeds) set up a world government with one law and one policy in which all racial and geographical units may be submerged. 
 

Relations of Muslims With Other People

Here again Islamic teachings have two aspects;

1. To preserve Muslim Identity.

2. To establish peaceful relation with the non- Muslims. 
 

With a view to maintaining the independence and solidarity of the Muslim society, arrangements have been made to save the Muslims from being merged in non-Muslim societies and to protect them against all alien influences in their vital affairs. Hence instructions have been given that the Muslims must not completely rely on non-Muslims and must not disclose their secrets to them. The Holy Quran says ; "O Believers, do not take into your confidence any other than the people of your own community. For they never miss any opportunity for exploiting any weakness of yours." 
 

Islam instructs the Muslims not to make friends with those who are hostile to Islam, unless they change their policy and give up their hostile attitude. 
 

The Holy Quran says: "You will not find people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, making love with those who fight Allah and His Messenger. Even though the latter be their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their relations." 
 

At the same time, with a view to enabling the Muslims to live as a powerful and active world unit and to be benefited by the positive aspects of others in a healthy atmosphere of mutual respect, Islam allows the Muslims to pursue a policy of peaceful co-existence with all people of the book (followers of the previous prophets). It even enjoins upon Muslims to protect them as a minority in Muslim countries and to respect their rights so long as they do not commit a crime. 
 

Such minorities are known in Islamic jurisprudence as Ahl al-Zimmah (people of covenant). Any how, there are certain conditions which they have to observe strictly. 
 

If the interests of the Muslims so demand, they can enter into treaties with the non-Muslims provided these treaties do not in any way endanger their self respect, independence and interests. The Muslims are bound to strictly adhere to the treaties concluded by them and are not allowed to violate them unless they are violated first by the other party. Adherence to treaties and agreements is a general rule of Islam. It is equally applicable in respect of both Muslims and non-Muslims. Violation of a treaty on the pretext that the other party is not Muslim is not allowed. 
 

Islam Enjoins Universal Vigil

Every Muslim has two obligatory duties:

1. To invite others to do the right

2. To combat corruption 
 

These two duties, which are known in Islamic jurisprudence as 'Amr bil-Maruf'(exhortation to do good) and 'Nahy anil-Munkar' (restraint from doing evil) enjoin upon all Muslims to keep a constant watch on the society. If they find anybody deviating from the path of justice and truth, they must invite him to the right path and if they find anybody committing a crime or sin, they must restrain him from doing so. 
 

This rule is considered to be an important law of Islam. In this respect, the Holy Quran says:

"You are the best community which has been raised for the guidance of mankind. You exhort the people to do good and restrain them from doing evil." 
 

Imam Sadiq (A) has said :

"He who does not fight corruption, neither with his hand nor with his tongue or heart is pseudo alive."

In fact, the performances of these two important duties is one of the obligations of collective life. In collective living, the happiness and misery of each member of the society is shared by all others and hence they cannot be indifferent to the conduct of fellow members. 
 

Islam asks every Muslim to keep his social spirit fully alive and always have an eye on collective interests. It wants every individual to be responsible to all other members of the society and wants the society to be responsible to all the individuals. All Muslims should criticize and reform each other and play their role in the formation of a healthy society. 
 

Islamic Economy

As the prosperity and moral and material well-being of the community is not possible without a rich and healthy economy, Islam, as a progressive religious system, has included this question in its program. 
 

Zakat

Islam, in order to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, has legislated the law of zakat, and ordered the rich to pay a just share of their money and individual income as zakat to the public treasury .The money, so collected, constitutes a very large amount which can play an important role in combating poverty, narrowing class gap and ensuring an over-all development. The leaders of Islam have said that the amount of zakat has been so precisely determined that if all those on whom zakat is due, pay it honestly, poverty can be totally uprooted. Poverty exists only because a large number of people evade the obligation of this vital duty of theirs. The eight categories prescribed for the expenditure of the zakat money fully illustrate the aim and importance of this Islamic Law and throw light on its role in the formation of a healthy society. 
 

The details of these eight categories have been given in the Holy Quran. "Zakat is only for the poor, the needy and the officials appointed over them, those whose hearts are made to include (to truth) and the ransoming of the captives and those in debt and in the way of Allah, and the way farers; an ordinance from Allah and Allah is All knowing and All wise." 
 

It is to be noted that the term, in the way of Allah is very wide and covers all development projects as well as such items as education, health and construction of bridges, roads, hospitals and schools. 
 

Khums

"Khums" means payment of 20 percent of surplus income in a year, i.e. 20 per cent of what is left of the total annual income after meeting all expenses of that year. It is an Islamic tax which is levied to meet the requirements of collective life such as help to the needy, eradication of poverty, propagation of Islam and all other material and moral needs of the Muslim society. Khums is due only on the surplus and not the entire income. Hence, those whose expenditure is more than or equal to their income do not have to pay anything on this account. Only those whose income exceeds their expenditure should pay 20 per cent of the surplus to the public treasury .The money so realized comes to a considerable amount and enables the Muslims to solve many of their religious, social and material problems. 
 

Khums is not confined to the earned income only. It is also levied on what is obtained from mines, what is extracted from the sea by means of diving and on buried treasure dug out of the earth and not owned by anybody. It is also due on spoils of war. In all these cases it is levied on the total income. Only production expenses are deducted. The details of the way how income derived from khums is to be distributed and the categories of its expenditure are given in the Islamic jurisprudence and are beyond the scope of this book. 
 

Charity

Spending in the way of Allah is not obligatory, but Islam has attached much importance to it. There are many verses in the Holy Quran on this subject. 
 

Charity is one of the factors which help in the equitable distribution of wealth and eradication of poverty. Alms may be given for individuals or charitable objects. Distribution of alms through charitable institutions according to a well-laid out program and under the supervision of God-fearing people is an effective way of helping the poor . 
 

Wakf (Endowment)

Creation of endowments helps in the equitable distribution of wealth and prevents its concentration in the hands of a few. There are two kinds of endowments:

1. Public

2. Private

In the case of private endowments. the beneficiaries are only a few individuals or a limited class such as the children or descendants of the grantor. 
 

In the case of public endowments, which are far more common, the corpus of the donated property is transferred to the public or a large class of society and becomes a part of public property. Islam has encouraged the creation of endowments and the Imams themselves have set an example in this respect. Through endowments a large portion of Private property is turned into public property and thus it becomes available for the service of the masses. This in itself is a big step towards just and even distribution of wealth. 
 

How Wealth is Created?

From the Islamic point of view the true and absolute ownership of all things belongs to Allah alone. 
 

He owns everything that exists in the universe. His ownership is real and has creative aspect, because He is the Creator and Sustainer of everything. "Whatever exists in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him." 
 

Hence others can become owners only with His permission and in accordance with His laws and commands. 
 

Private Ownership

Islam respects private ownership and considers that everybody is the owner of the fruits of his own labor. It recognizes labor as the basis of ownership This is a natural law which has been endorsed by Islam. Everybody is the natural owner of his self and his mental and physical faculties. As his products are in reality only a crystallization of his existing faculties, he is the owner of the products of his labor. 
 

Rehabilitation and Acquisition

"He, who brings barren land under cultivation, is the owner of it." This is a saying of the Holy Prophet. 
 

Acquiring minerals and other natural resources before anybody else discovers them is another cause of ownership. According to Islamic law, he who acquires it, is the owner. As bringing barren land under cultivation and acquiring natural resources involve labor, it is clear that labor is the main factor in creating wealth. 
 

Of course, the Islamic government has a right to arrange the cultivation of barren land and the excavation of mineral resources on its own and to utilize the return for the benefit of the general public. 
 

Islam attaches great importance to the right of the workers. According to Islamic traditions, ignoring the rights of a worker is an unpardonable sin. A well-known tradition says that the Holy Prophet raised a worker's hand which had swollen as the result of hard work and said: "This is the hand which is liked by Allah and His Prophet." 
 

Circulation of Wealth

Islam has imposed special taxes on the stagnant wealth, which is not in circulation (such as Zakat on coined gold and silver after the completion of one year), and thus has taken a practical step to encourage circulation of wealth. The Holy Quran has condemned the hoarders and those who keep their wealth stagnant and do not utilize it for the benefit of the people. 
 

Further, the Islamic traditions much encourage commerce, agriculture, cattle breeding and setting up of industries. In authentic books of Hadith, many traditions are found which clearly show that Islam aims at the maximum mobilization of all human and financial resources for the benefit of the people on the whole. 
 

Usury and Interest- Free Loan

To stimulate productivity, Islam strictly forbids usury so that no body may live on interest without doing any productive work. 
 

Usury upsets the balance of wealth and widens the gap between the haves and have-nots. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer . lam says that usury is a mortal sin, and nobody an become the owner of the money earned through practicing it. The money thus earned must be returned to its rightful owner . 
 

There are two kinds of usury and both of them are forbidden.

1. Loan Usury

2. Trade Usury 
 

Lending money on the condition that it will be aid back with something added to it, is called usury. It is immaterial whether the rate of Interest is large or small, or whether it is paid in cash or in kind. Anyhow, there is no harm if the debtor willingly pays anything out of goodwill without any prior condition. 
 

Trade means selling of a thing in exchange for another of the same kind, but with a difference in quantity. For example to sell 10 kilograms of good quality wheat in exchange for 12 kilograms of medium quality wheat will constitute usury. Detailed conditions of such forbidden deals are given in books of Islamic law. 
 

Interest -Free Loan

Islam exhorts people to give as much interest free Loan as is possible. According to certain traditions, this is such an act of virtue that its reward will be more than that of alms (free aid in the way of Allah). Probably the reason is that many of those who seek loans are respectable people who. Even when they are badly in need of money, do not condescend to accept free aid or alm, because they consider doing that, below their dignity and position, whereas the persons who accept do not have such scruples. For this reason, giving interest-free loan is considered more rewarding. At the same time, Islam allows the creditors to require the deposit of adequate security with them up to the full value of the loan. In case a debtor fails to pay up the loan, the creditor is allowed to deduct an equal amount from the security and return the remainder to its owner. Giving interest-free loans is effective in the cultivation of friendship and love and in removing complexes which often exist between high income and low-income individuals. This is the simplest form of service which the well- off people can render to the les fortunate. 
 

Jihad and Defence in Islam

The question of Jihad occupies a special place in the Muslim law. In fact, a progressive and compact system cannot be complete without such provisions. 
 

Owing to its misinterpretation by ill-informed persons, the inclusion of the question of Jihad in Islamic teachings has given rise to much hostile propaganda and has provided a pretext to its opponents to say that Islam is a religion of sword and force. Even well-known writers have been misled. Macdonald in his encyclopedia, asserts that the propagation of Islam by sword and force is one of the religious duties of every Muslim. As the nature and aim of Jihad become clear, not only the hollowness of such criticism becomes obvious, but also the depth, purity and dynamism of the teachings of Islam and their capacity to serve human society in varying circumstances becomes evident. To prove this truth, we draw the attention of the readers to the follow-points. 
 

Pacifist Spirit of Islam is not Apposed to Fighting Imposed Wars

Jihad literally means effort and striving. In Islamic sources also, this word has been used in the sense of every kind of intellectual, physical. Financial and moral effort for the promotion of divine and human objectives. 
 

But technically it means an armed struggle for the protection and progress of the Islamic system . 
 

Now let us see what are the occasions on which such struggles become unavoidable. 
 

Fight against the mischievous elements, that consider the spread of a system of justice and truth a threat to their interests and take a stand to exterminate it, is unavoidable. So long as such element exist in the world, supporters of truth and justice have no alternative but to defend their objectives and their own existence. 
 

In fact, war, in this case, is forced upon the believers in Allah and in social justice against their will, Islam can not avoid such situations. 
 

Nevertheless, the pacifist spirit of Islam and its abstinence from using force in dealing with those who do not resort to aggression, antagonism and injustice, are evident from many passages of the Holy Quran. 
 

"Allah does not prohibit you, in respect of those who have not fought you on account of the faith and who have not turned you out of your homes from showing them goodness and being just towards them. Surely Allah loves the just. He only orders you as against those who have fought you on account of the faith and who have turned you out of your homes and who have assisted others in your being turned out that you should be friendly towards them. And whoever be friend them, they are people who are unjust." 
 

At another place, the Holy Quran expressly says that if the enemy lays down arms and shows peaceful intention, the Muslims have no right to be hostile to them.

"If they leave you alone and desist from fighting against you and make overtures for peace to you, in that case Allah has left you no cause for aggression against them." 
 

In another verse, the Holy Prophet is told : 
 

"If enemies incline to peace, you should also incline to it." Perhaps no other religion has expressed its peaceful disposition in such clear terms. But Islam's pacifism must not be interpreted to mean that the Muslims are allowed not to take action against those who force large sections of the world people to live under colonial conditions or a state of idolatry, or to watch aggression against their country as idle spectators.. 
 

Jihad in the Way of Allah and its Aims

In Islamic sources, the word, 'Jihad' has mostly been used in association with the phrase, in the way of Allah. This means that Jihad cannot be waged for base desires, territorial expansion, imperialistic aims, for obtaining spoils of war and the like. The aim of Jihad must always be divine with no personal, material or selfish interest being involved. On the whole, the aims of Islamic Jihad can be summarized in the following few points, while dealing with them we will also try to refute the objections of the opponents. 
 

Defending the Existence of the True System

The most important aim of Islamic jihad is the defense of the divine system of truth and justice and the preservation of its outstanding features. During the time of the Prophet, most of the battles were fought for this very purpose. The Holy Quran expressly says: "Permission to fight is given to those against whom war has been declared, because they have been wronged and surely Allah is competent of helping them; those who have been expelled from their homes without just cause, but because they say that our Lord is Allah. And were not Allah to repel some men by means of the others surely, the monasteries, the synagogues, the temples of the Magians and the masjids in which Allah's name is frequently mentioned, would have been ruined." 
 

Thus whenever the national sovereignty of the Muslims and their independence and integrity are endangered, it is their duty to stand up to the enemies and defend themselves to the last. It is interesting that in this verse the defense of all places of worship has been given equal importance, which is another sign of the peaceable spirit of Islam. 
 

Anyhow, it should be noted that Islam shows neither tolerance towards idol-worship, nor does it recognize idolatry as a religion, nor the temples of idol- worshippers as place of worship. It regards idolatry as a sort of superstition, falsehood, intellectual decadence and a disease which must be remedied. That is why Islam has allowed the destruction of the temples of idol - worshippers. 
 

Fight With the Opposing Elements

A heavenly system, as a new ideology, has a right to enjoy freedom of propagation and be able to spread in a normal manner through preaching. If certain elements such as idolators, finding their unlawful interests in danger, in order to prevent the spread of the new system, oppose it and try to keep the people in ignorance and no peaceful solution of the problem is found possible. Islam allows a fight against such elements. Some of the early battles of Islam were of this nature, to which there is a reference in the Quranic verse quoted above. Freedom of preaching and logical spread of the true system is another aim of Islamic jihad. 
 

Combating Injustice and Corruption

Owing to the uncompromising hostility of Islam to injustice and corruption, if no peaceful way is left, Jihad is allowed to put an end to in justice and tyranny and to rescue the weak and the helpless from the clutches of the tyrants such as were the usurers of Mecca. 
 

Certain early battles of Islam were of this nature also. The Holy Quran says: "Why should you not fight in the way of Allah for the sake of those helpless men, women, and children, who being weak have been oppressed and are crying out, "Our Lord, deliver us from this habitation whose inhabitants are unjust oppressors and raise a protector for us by Your grace and a helper from Yourself." 
 

Preparedness for Jihad

So long as might and force rule over international relations and a possibility of the Muslim society being subjected to aggression exists, Islam enjoins up on the Muslims to maintain a state of complete preparedness to be able to defend themselves. The Holy Quran has given clear instructions in this respect and in a short sentence has expressed all that was required, "And to encounter them (the enemies) provide whatever force you can afford." 
 

Though expenditure on armaments is considered least desirable and most unproductive, Islam has considered it not only essential in the case of need, but also has named it financial Jihad. Anyhow, it is not possible to eradicate aggression and war in the world simply by strengthening military organization and acquiring armaments. Though to do so is also essential and has a security aspect, yet it sometimes enhances the possibility of the out-break of war. Therefore; Islam proposes that the basic way of securing permanent peace should be to strengthen faith and morality, " O Believers, enter all of you into peace." 
 

This means that the only way to enjoy peace and security is that all enter into the domain of faith, virtue and acknowledgement of Allah. It is in this domain alone that every one regards the others as his brethren respects them and believes that all are slaves of Allah and all are loved by Him. 
 

It is in this domain that everybody should look at others' interests as his own. Everybody should like for others what he likes for himself and dislike for others what he dislikes for himself. It is here that toleration and sacrifice in the way of Allah and for the sake of Allah are considered to be the most distinguished and prominent human qualities. 
 

Observance of Human Rules While Dealing With the Enemy

While many people think that the very word enemy is enough justification for all kinds of excessive violence and inhuman acts, Islam with its detailed fair and firm teachings leaves no doubt that even conflict with the enemy must not go beyond the framework of the rules of human morality, for every kind of violation of these rules amounts to exceeding the limits prescribed by Allah.

The following precise instructions which the Prophet used to give to the soldiers ,and mujahids before they proceeded to the battle field, fully show Islam's peaceful disposition and the Prophet's deep insight. 
 

"March in the name of Allah and seek His help. Fight for His sake and in accordance with His commands." 
 

"Don't practice deceit or fraud. Don't embezzle the spoils of war. Don't mutilate the body of an enemy after he is killed. Don't harm the woman, the children and the aged. Don't interfere with the monks and hermits who live in monasteries and caves. Don't unnecessarily cut down trees. Don't burn the date-palm groves of the enemy and don't submerge them in water. Don't destroy fruit-bearing trees and don't put the enemy crops to fire. Don't kill the useful animals except for your food. Don't poison the enemy water. Don't resort to trickery and don't launch a surprise night assault." 
 

Islam forbids every resort to inhuman means of fighting such as night assault, microbial warfare, incineration of cattle, crops and gardens and killing and injuring unarmed personnel. In the Islamic rules of warfare, instruction has been repeatedly given that the Muslims must not shoot the first arrow and they must not launch the first attack. This means that they should not attack unless they are attacked. Their war should be defensive and not offensive. 
 

We find that the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (A) used to give instructions that every effort should be made that fighting did not start before noon and if possible it was delayed till late afternoon so that the sunset, the time when fighting normally stops, might not be long in coming, and there be less bloodshed. 
 

The directions given by the leaders of Islam (Imams) with regard to the treatment to be meted out to the prisoners of war is yet another proof of the necessity of the observance of rules of human morality even while dealing with the enemy. The prisoners of war are to be treated with kindness and are to be provided with the same food and drink as are partaken of by the Muslims. 
 

It is true that correct training and existence of the living spirit of faith and human morality in any society forestalls many excesses and vices. Nevertheless, the establishment and consolidation of social justice is not possible without a strong judiciary .In every society there exist some such miscreants and unruly persons that the light of faith and morality alone cannot remove the darkness of their spirit. They are not subdued without the existence of a strong and fair judiciary 
 

That is why Islam, in order to enforce its program of social justice, has riot limited itself to moral counsels and spiritual training only but has visualized the formation of a strong judiciary to back its teachings. 
 

Judicial System of Islam

Among the qualities of a judge, two points are most important: 
 

1. He should have complete knowledge of all the details of law.

2, He should possess the qualities of justice, virtue and honesty.

As or the equality of all before the court, Islam directs the Qazi (judge or magistrate) to treat both the parties of a law suit equally. The Qazi must observe complete equality even in acts of ordinary courtesy such as speaking to the parties, looking at them or making them sit or stand. 
 

There must be no discrimination between the litigants on account of their social status. 
 

The leaders of Islam (Imam) have described the office of a Qazi as of great importance and responsibility but at the same time, very risky. Even the slightest lapse on his part is enough to degrade him from his high position. 
 

The Prophet of Islam has said that the tongue of a Qazi is between two flames. This means that if he shows any bias towards one or the other party, he will be burnt. 
 

In Islam accepting a bribe and perverting judgement in favor of a briber are deadly sins. The Holy Prophet has said: "He who gives bribe, he who takes it and he who goes between them, all will go to hell." 
 

The judicial system of Islam is very exact and detailed and occupies a special position among judicial systems of the world today. 
 

In the books of Islamic jurisprudence, there exists a special chapter on judicature, which deals with all the principles and details of administration of justice. and describes the qualifications of a Qazi, qualifications of witnesses, the way to file a suit, the arguments which the parties can advance in their favour and the like. 
 

The instructions issued by Imam Ali (A) and contained in his famous letter addressed to Malik Ashtar, Governor of Egypt, throw light on some of the above points and show the importance which Islam attaches to the high office of the Qazi. This subject has been fully elucidated in chapter VII of this book. 
 

Criminal Laws

Punishment to be meted out to offenders must be just as well as deterrent. At the same time, there should be a scope for reducing the punishment in the case of repentants and those induced to commit crime in ignorance or through inexperience. Punishments prescribed in Islam satisfy all the three aspects. For example, in the case of. willful murder, the prescribed punishment is a death sentence. The Holy Quran says: "O men of the understanding, there is security of life for you in the law of retribution." But at the same time, the Holy Quran allows the heirs of the murdered person to forgive the murderer and accept blood money (diyat). 
 

Similarly in the case of certain crimes against chastity, if the offender before being sentenced by the court genuinely repents and is prepared to pay damages, he can be forgiven. According to Islamic teachings, the best way to eradicate crimes is to concentrate efforts on moral training so that the people may always be conscious of recompense and retribution on the Day of Resurrection. 
 

But, if in spite of such efforts, a crime is committed, then it should severely dealt with. Islam is against those who succumb to false emotions, and hesitate to accept the justification of death sentence in the case of willful murderers and other punishment in the case of other transgressors, such people practically give preference to the interests of criminal over the interest of the society. 
 

Experience shows that any leniency towards hard baked criminals helps in spreading corruption, and is certainly detrimental to the security of the society 
 

Some people may criticize certain parts of Islamic criminal law and regard them as unduly harsh, but fact is not so. Severe action is taken only in the case of very serious crimes and only in cases where moral and social security of the nation is endangered. Such instances are found in other legal systems also. At the most, some societies may not regard such questions as combating unchastity as vital, whereas, Islam, with its subtle insight, attaches to them utmost importance.

Other systems may consider some other questions vital. 
 

Though some of the Islamic punishments some times look very harsh, the proof of the connected crimes is so difficult and depends upon such conditions that more than one or two convictions are hardly possible in a year. 
 

Thus though, the deterrent nature of these punishments, produces good moral effect and strikes terror among potential transgressors, yet practically very few are affected by them. 
 

It must be fully realized that Islamic laws and other Islamic teachings which aim at protecting human rights and relations and preventing corruption and aggression, form one homogenous unit and can be fully effective only if they are all enforced simultaneously. 
 

First of all an atmosphere should be created where Islamic teachings concerning moral training and social welfare are implemented. In such an atmosphere, the incidence of crimes and offences will be greatly diminished and consequently there will be fewer occasions when it will be necessary to inflict any punishment. As is well-known, most of the crimes are the result of incorrect upbringing and various material and social privations. With the elimination of such factors, incidence of crimes will certainly be reduced. 
 

The result will be that the number of those whom punishment is meted out, will gradually go down, and with that the disgust which some people feel at the idea of harsh punishment being inflicted on an apparently large number of persons will also disappear. But, of course, this does not mean that if in any particular atmosphere, a part of Islamic program in the fields of moral training or eradication of poverty is not being implemented, the rest should be totally ignored. All we mean is to emphasize that all items of Islamic program are closely interlinked, and if they are enforced simultaneously, they will produce the best result. 


A Basic Guide In Islamic Administration


The following instructions in the form of a letter were written by Imam Ali (A) to Malik-e-Ashter, whom he had appointed as a Governor of Egypt in the year 657 A.D. (approximately). There is a main central idea running throughout these instructions, like one single thread out of which a cloth is woven, and that is of Allah. The government is of Allah. The governors and the governed are both creatures of Allah. 
 

This letter is based on the principles of administration as taught by the Holy Quran. It is a code to establish a kind and benevolent rule, throwing light on various aspects of justice, benevolence and mercy, an order based on the ethics of a benign and pious ruler ship, where justice and mercy is shown to human beings irrespective of class, creed and color, where poverty is neither a stigma nor a disqualification and where justice is not tarred with nepotism, favoritism, provincialism or religious fanaticism and on the other hand it is a thesis on the higher values of morality. 

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. 

Be it known to you, O Malik, that I am sending you as Governor to a country which in the past has experienced both just and unjust rule. Men will scrutinize your actions with a searching eye, even as you used to scrutinize the actions of those before you and speak of you even as you did speak of them. The fact is that the public speak well of only those who do good. It is they who furnish the proof of your actions. Hence the richest treasure that you may covet, should be the treasure of good deeds. Keep your desires under control and deny yourself that which you have been prohibited against. By such abstinence alone, you will be able to distinguish between what is good and what is not.

Develop in your heart the feeling of love for your people and let it be the source of kindliness and blessing to them. Do not behave with them like a barbarian, and do not appropriate to yourself that which belongs to them. Remember that the citizens of the state are of two categories. They are either your brethren in religion or your brethren in kind. They are subject to infirmities and liable to commit mistakes. Some indeed do commit mistakes, but forgive them even as you would like God to forgive you. Bear in mind that you are placed over them, even as I am placed over you. And then there is God even above him who has given you the position of a Governor in order that you may look after those under you and to be sufficient unto them. 
 

Remember! you will be judged by what you do for them. 
 

Do not set yourself against God for neither do you possess the strength to shield yourself against His displeasure, nor can you place yourself outside the pale of His mercy and forgiveness. Do not feel sorry over any act of forgiveness, nor rejoice over any punishment that you may meet out to anyone. Do not rouse yourself to anger, for no good will come out of it. 
 

Do not say: "I am your overlord and dictator, and that you should therefore, bow to my commands," as that will corrupt your heart, weaken your faith in religion and create disorder in the state. Should you be elated by power, or feel in your mind the slightest symptoms of pride and arrogance, then look at the power and majesty of the Divine Governance of the Universe over which you have absolutely no control. It will restore the sense of balance to your wayward intelligence and give you the sense of calmness and affability. Beware! Never put yourself against the majesty and grandeur of God and never imitate His omnipotence, for God has brought low every rebel of God and every tyrant of man. 
 

Let your mind respect through your actions the rights of God and the rights of man, and likewise, persuade your companions and relations to do the same. For, otherwise. you will be doing injustice to yourself and injustice to humanity. Thus both man and God will become your enemies. There is no hearing anywhere for one who makes an enemy of God himself. He will be regarded as one at war with God until he repents and seeks forgiveness. Nothing deprives man of divine blessings nor excites divine wrath against him more easily than oppression. Hence it is that God listens to the voice of the oppressed and waylays the oppressor. 
 
 

The Common Man

Maintain justice in administration and impose it on your own self and seek the consent of the people, for, the discontent of the masses sterilises the contentment of the privileged few and the discontent of the few loses itself in the contentment of the many. Remember! the privileged few will not rally round you in moments of difficulty. They will try to side-track justice. They will ask for more than what they deserve and will show no gratitude for favors done to them. They will feel restive in the face of trials and will offer no regret for their short comings. It is the common man who is the strength of the State and of Religion. It is he who fights the enemy. So live in close contact with the masses and be mindful of their welfare. 
 

Keep at a distance, he who exposes the weakness of others. After all, the masses are not free from weaknesses. It is the duty of the ruler to shield them. Do not bring to light that which is hidden, but try to remove those weaknesses which have been brought to light. God is watchful of everything that is hidden from you, and He alone will deal with it. Cover up the faults of the public to the best of your ability so that God may cover up your faults which you want to keep hidden from the public eye. Untie every knot of hatred for the people and cut asunder every string of enmity between them. Protect yourself from every such act as may not be quite correct for you. Do not make haste in seeking confirmation of tale-telling, for the tale teller is a deceitful person appearing in the garb of a friend. 
 

The Counsellors

Never take counsel of a miser, for, he will vitiate your magnanimity and frighten you of poverty. Do not take counsel of a coward also, for, he will weaken your resolutions. Do not take counsel of the greedy too, for, he will instill greed in you and turn you into a tyrant. Miserliness, cowardice and greed deprive man of his trust in God. 
 

The worst counselor is he who has served as a counselor to unjust rulers and shared their crimes. So, never let men who have been companions of tyrants or have shared their crimes be your counselors. You can get better men than these. Men gifted with intelligence and foresight, but unpolluted by sin, men who have never aided a tyrant in his tyranny nor a criminal in his crime. Such men will never be a burden to you. On the other hand, they will be a source of help and strength to you at all times. They will be friends to you and strangers to your enemies. Choose such men alone for companionship both in private and in public. Even among these, show preference to those who have a habitual regard for truth, however, trying to you at times their truth may prove to be, and who offer you no encouragement in the display of tendencies which God does not like his friends to develop. 
 

Keep close to you the upright and the God fearing, and make clear to them that they are never to flatter you and never to give you credit for any good that you may not have done, for, the tolerance of flattery and unhealthy praise stimulates pride in man and makes him arrogant. 
 

Do not treat the good and the bad alike. That will deter the good from doing good, and encourage the bad in their bad pursuits. Recompense every one according to his deserts. Remember that mutual trust and good will between the ruler and the ruled are bred only through benevolence, justice and service. So, cultivate goodwill amongst the people; for, their goodwill alone will save you from troubles. Your benevolence to them will be repaid by the trust in you, and your ill-treatment by their ill will 
 

Do not disregard the noble traditions set by our for bearers which have promoted harmony and progress among the people; and do not initiate any thing which might minimize their usefulness. The men who had established those noble traditions have had their reward; but responsibility will be yours they are discarded. Try always to learn something from the experience of the learned and wise, and frequently consult them in state matters so that you might maintain the peace and goodwill which your predecessors had established in the land. 
 

The Different Classes of People

Remember that the people are composed of different classes. The progress of one is dependent on the progress of every other; and none can afford to independent of the other. We have the Army forced of the soldiers of God. We have our civil office and their establishments, our judiciary, our revenue collectors and our public relation officers. The general public itself consists of Muslims and Zimmi and among them are merchants and craftsmen, unemployed and the indigent. God has prescribed for them their several rights, duties and obligations. They are all defined and preserved in the Book of God and in the traditions of His Prophet. 
 

The Army, by the grace of God, is like a fortress to the people and lends dignity to the state. It upholds the prestige of the Faith and maintains the peace of the country. Without it the state cannot stand. In its turn. it cannot stand without the support of the state. Our soldiers have proved strong before the enemy because of the privilege God has given them to fight for Him, but they have their material needs to fulfill and have therefore to depend upon the income provided for them from the state revenue. The military and the civil population who pay revenue, both need the cooperation of others--the judiciary, civil officers and their establishment. The Qazi administers civil and criminal law ; the civil officers collect revenue and attend to civil administration with the assistance of their establishment. And then there are the tradesmen and the merchants who add to the revenue of the state. It is they who run the markets and are in a better position than others to discharge social obligations. Then there is the class of the poor and the needy, whose maintenance is an obligation on the other classes. God has given appropriate opportunity of service to one and all; then there are the rights of all these classes over the administration which the administrator has to meet with an eye to the good of the entire population a duty which he cannot fulfill properly unless he takes personal interest in its execution and seeks help from, God. Indeed, it is obligatory on him to impose this duty on himself, and to bear with patience the inconveniences and difficulties incidental to his task. 
 

The Army

Be particularly mindful of the welfare of those in the army, who in your opinion, are staunchly faithful to their God and Prophet and loyal to their chief, and who in the hour of passion can restrain themselves and listen coolly to sensible remonstrance, and who can succour the weak and smite the strong, whom violent provocation will not throw into violent temper and who will not faulter at any stage.

Keep yourself in close contact with families of established reputation and integrity and with a glorious past, and draw to yourself men brave and upright in character, generous and benevolent in disposition; for, such are the select of the society. 
 

Care for them with the tenderness with which you care for your children, and do not talk before them of any good that you might have done to them, nor disregard any expression of affection which they show in return; for, such conduct inspires loyalty, devotion and goodwill. Attend to every little want of theirs not resting content with what general help that you might have given to them, for sometimes, timely attention to a little want of theirs brings them immense relief. Surely these people will not forget you in your own hour of need. 
 

It behooves you to select for your Commander-in-chief one who imposes on himself, as a duty, the task of rendering help to his men, and who can excel in kindness every other officer who has to attend to the needs of the men under him, and look after their families when they are away from their homes; so much so, that the entire army should feel united in their joys and in their sorrows. This unity of purpose will give them added strength against the enemy. Continue to maintain a kindly attitude towards them so that they might feel ever attached to you. The fact is that the real happiness of the administrators and their most pleasant comfort lies in establishing justice in the state and maintaining affectionate relations with the people. Their sincerity of feeling is expressed in the love and regard they show to you, on which alone depends the safety of the administrators. 
 

Your advice to the army will be of no avail, unless and until you show affection both men and officers, in order that they might not regard the Government as an oppressive burden or contribute to its downfall. 
 

Continue to satisfy their needs and praise them over and over again for what services they have rendered. Such an attitude, God willing, will inspire the brave to braver actions and induce the timid deeds of bravery. 
 

Try to enter into the feelings of others and do not foist the mistake of one on another and do not grudge dispensing appropriate regards. See to it, you do not show favours to one who has achieved nothing but merely counts on his family position, and do not withholds proper reward from one who has done great deeds simply because he holds a low position in life. 
 

The Real Guidance

Turn to God and to His Prophet for guidance when ever you feel uncertain regarding your actions. There is the commandment of God delivered to those people whom He wishes to guide aright : "O people of the Faith! Obey God and obey His Prophet and obey those from among you who hold authority over you. And refer to God and His Prophet whenever there is difference of opinion among you." To turn to God is in reality to consult the Book of God; and turn to the Prophet is to follow his universally accepted traditions. 
 

Chief Judge

Select as your chief judge from the people one who is by far the best among them one who is not obsessed with domestic worries, one who cannot be intimidated, one who does not err too often, one who does not turn back from right path once he finds it; one who is not self-centered or avaricious, one who will not decide before knowing the full facts, one who will weigh with care every attendant doubt and pronounce a clear verdict after taking everything into full consideration ; one who will not grow restive over the arguments of advocates and who will examine with patience every new disclosure of fact and who will be strictly impartial in his decision; one whom flattery cannot mislead; one who does not exult over his position. But it is not easy to find such a man. 
 

Once you have selected the right man for the office, pay him handsomely enough, to let him live in comfort and in keeping with his position, enough to keep him above temptations. Give him a position in your court so high that none can even dream of coveting it and so high that neither back biting nor intrigue can touch him. 
 

Subordinate Judiciary

Beware! The utmost carefulness is to be exercised in his selection: for it is this high office which adventurous self-seekers aspire to secure and exploit in their selfish interests. After the selection of your chief judge, give careful consideration to the selection of other officers. Confirm them in their appointments after approved apprenticeship and probation. Never select men for responsible posts either out of any regard for personal connections or under any influence, for that might lead to injustice and corruption. 
 

Of these, select for higher posts, men of experience, men firm in faith and belonging to good families. Such men will not fall an easy prey to temptations and will discharge their duties with an eye on the abiding good of others. Increase their salaries to give them a contented life. A contented living is a help to self-purification. They will not feel the urge to tax the earnings of their subordinates for their own upkeep. They will then have no excuse either to go against your instructions or misappropriate state funds. Keep a watch over them without their knowledge. Perchance they may develop true honesty and true concern for the public welfare. But whenever any of them is accused of dishonesty, and the guilt is confirmed by the report of your secret service, then regard this as sufficient to convict him. Let the punishment be corporal and let that be dealt with in public at an appointed place of degradation. 
 

Revenue Administration

Great care is to be exercised in revenue administration, to ensure the prosperity of those who pay the revenue to the state; for, on their prosperity depends the prosperity of others, particularly the prosperity of the masses. Indeed, the state exists on its revenue. You should regard the proper un- keep of the land in cultivation as of greater importance than the collection of revenue, for revenue cannot be derived except by making the land productive. He who demands revenue without helping the cultivator to improve his land, inflicts unmerited hardship on the cultivator and ruins the State. The rule of such a person does not last long. If the cultivators ask for reduction of their land tax for having suffered from epidemics or drought or excess of rains or the barrenness of the soil or floods damaging their crops, then reduce the tax accordingly, so that their condition might improve. Do not mind the loss of revenue on that account for that will return to you one day manifold in the hour of greater prosperity of the land and enable you to improve the condition of your towns and to raise the prestige of your state. You will be the object of universal praise. The people will believe in your sense of justice. The confidence which they will place in you in consequence will prove your strength, as they will be found ready to share your burdens. 
 

You may settle down on the land any number of people, but discontent will overtake them if the land is not improved. The cause of the cultivators' ruin is the rulers who are bent feverishly on accumulating wealth at all costs, out of the fear that their rule might not last long. Such are the people who do not learn from examples or precedents. 
 

Clerical Establishment

Keep an eye on your establishment and your scribes and select the best among them for your confidential correspondence, such among these as possess high character and deserve your full confidence, men Who may not exploit their privileged position to go against you, and who may not grow neglectful of their duties, and who in the drafting of treaties may not succumb to eternal temptation and harm your interests, or fail to render you proper assistance and to save you from trouble, and who in carrying out their duties can realise their serious responsibilities, for he who does not realise his own responsibilities can hardly appraise the responsibilities of others. Do not select men for such work merely on the strength of. your first impressions of affection or good faith; for as a matter of fact, the pretensions of a good many who are really devoid of honesty and good breeding may cheat even the intelligence of the rulers. Selection should be made after due probation -probation which should be the test of righteousness. In making direct appointments from people, see to it that those selected possess influence with the people and who enjoy the reputation of being honest; for such selection is agreeable both to God and the Ruler. For every department of administration, let there be a head, whom no trying task might cause worry and no pressure of work annoy. 
 

And remember that every weakness of anyone among your establishment and scribe which you may overlook will be written down against you in your scroll of deeds. 
 

Trade and Industry

Adopt useful schemes placed before those engaged in trade and industry, and help them with wise counsels. Some of them live in towns, and some move from place to place with their ware and tools and earn their living by manual labour. Trade and Industry are sources of profit to the State. While the general public are not inclined to bear the strain, those engaged in these professions take the trouble to collect commodities from far and near, from land and from across the sea, and from mountains and forests and naturally derive benefits, 
 

It is this class of peace-loving people from whom no disturbance need be feared. They love peace and order. Indeed they are incapable of creating discord. Visit every part of the country and establish personal contact with this class, and enquire into their condition. But bear in mind that a good many of them are intensely greedy and are inured to bad dealings. They hoard grain and try to sell it at a high price and this is most harmful to the public. It is a blot on the name of the ruler not to light this evil. Prevent them from hoarding; for he Prophet of God-Peace be on him- had prohibited it. See to it that trade is carried on with the utmost ease, that the scales are evenly held and that prices are so fixed that neither the seller nor the buyer is put to a loss. And if, in spite of your warning, should anyone go against your commands and commit the crime of hoarding, then inflict upon him a severe punishment. 
 

The Poor

Beware! Fear God when dealing with the problem of the poor who have none to patronize them, who are forlorn, indigent and helpless and are greatly torn in mind- victims to the vicissitudes of time. Among them there are some who do not question their lot in life and who notwithstanding their misery, do not go about seeking alms. For God's sake, safeguard their rights; for on you rests the responsibility of protecting their interest. Assign for their uplift a portion of the state exchequer. (Baitul-mal), wherever they may be, whether close at hand or far away from you. The rights of the two should be equal in your eye. Do not let any preoccupations slip them from your mind; for no excuse whatsoever for the disregard of their rights will be acceptable to God. Do not treat their interests as of less importance than your own, and never keep them outside the purview of your important considerations, and mark the persons who look down upon them and of whose condition they keep you in ignorance. 
 

Select from among your officers such men as are upright and God fearing and who can keep you properly informed of the condition of the poor. 
 

Make such provision for these poor people as shall not oblige you to offer an excuse before God on the Day of Judgment; for, it is this section of the people more than any other which deserves benevolent treatment. Seek your reward from God by giving to each of them what is due, to him and enjoin on yourself as a sacred duty the task of meeting the needs of such aged among them as have no independent means of livelihood and are averse to seeking alms. And it is the discharge of this duty that usually proves very trying to rulers, but is very welcome to societies which are gifted with foresight. It is only such societies or nations that truly carry out with equanimity their covenant with God to discharge their duty to the poor. 
 

Open Conferences

Meet the oppressed and the lowly periodically in an open conference and, conscious of the Divine Presence there, have a heart-to-heart talk with them, and let none from your armed guard or civil officers or members of the Police Department or the Intelligence Department be by your side, so that the representative of the poor might state their grievances fearlessly and without reserve. For I have heard the Prophet of God say that no nation or society, in which the strong do not discharge their duty to the weak, will occupy a high position. Bear with composure any strong language which they may use, and do not get annoyed if they cannot state their case lucidly. Even so, God will open for you His door of blessings and rewards. Whatever you can give to them, give it ungrudgingly, and whatever you cannot afford to give, make that clear to them with utmost sincerity. 
 

There are certain things which call for prompt action. Accept the recommendations made by your officers for the redress of the grievances of the clerical staff. See to it that petitions or applications submitted for your consideration are brought to your notice the very day they are submitted, however much your officers might try to intercept them. Dispose of the day's work that very day, for the coming day will bring with it its own task. 
 
 
 

Communion With God

And then do not forget to set apart the best of your time for communion with God, although every moment of yours is for Him only, provided it is spent sincerely in the service of your people. The special time that you give to prayer in the strict religious sense is to be devoted to the performance of the prescribed daily prayers. Keep yourself occupied with prayers during the day and in the night, and to gain perfect communion, do not as far as possible, let your prayers grow tiresome. 
 

And when you lead in congregational prayer, do not let your prayer be so lengthy as to cause discomfort to the congregation or raise in them the feeling of dislike for it or liquidate its effect: for in the congregation there may be invalids and also those who have to attend to pressing affairs of their own. When, on receiving an order to proceed to Yemen, I had asked to the Prophet of God, how I should lead the people in prayer over there, he said, "perform your prayers even as the weakest among you would offer; and set an example of considerateness to the faithful." 
 

Aloofness Not Desirable

Alongside of the observance of all that I have said, bear one thing in mind. Never for any length of time keep yourself aloof from the people, for to do so is to keep oneself ignorant of their affairs. It develops in the ruler a wrong perspective and renders him unable to distinguish between what is important and what is not, between right and wrong, and between truth and falsehood. The ruler is after all human; and he cannot form a correct view of anything which is out of sight. 
 

There is no distinctive sign attached to truth which may enable one to distinguish between the different varieties of truth and falsehood. The fact is that you must be one of the two things. Either you are just or unjust. If you are just, then you will not keep yourself away from the people, but will listen to them and meet their requirements. On the other hand, if you are unjust, the people themselves will keep away from you. What virtue is there in your keeping aloof ? At all events aloofness is not desirable especially when it is your duty to attend to the needs of the people. Complaints of oppression by your officers or petitions for justice should not prove irksome to you. 
 

Make this clear to yourself that those immediately about and around you, will like to exploit their position to covet what belongs to others and commit acts of injustice. Suppress such a tendency in them. Make a rule of your conduct never to give even a small piece of land to any of your relations. That will prevent them from causing harm to the interests of others and save you from courting the disapprobation of both God and man. 
 

Deal justice squarely regardless of the fact whether one is a relation or not. If any of your relations or companions violates the law, meet out the punishment prescribed by law, however painful it might be to you personally, for it will be all to the good of the State. If at any time people suspect, that you have been unjust to them in any respect, disclose your mind to them and remove their suspicions. In this way, your mind will become attuned to the sense of justice and people will begin to love you. It will also fulfill your wish that you should enjoy their confidence. 
 

Peace & Treaties

Bear in mind that you do not throwaway the offer of peace which your enemy may himself make. Accept it, for that will please God. Peace is a source of comfort to the army. It reduces your worries and promotes order in the State. But beware! Be on your guard when the peace is signed ; for, certain types of enemies propose terms of peace just to lull you into a sense of security only to attack you again when you are off your guard. So you should exercise the utmost vigilance on your part, and place no undue faith in their protestations. But, if under the peace treaty you have accepted any obligations, discharge those obligations scrupulously. It is a trust and must be faithfully upheld and whenever you have promised anything, keep it with all the strength that you command, for whatever difference of opinion might exist on other matters, there is nothing so noble as the fulfillment of a promise. This is recognized even among the non-Muslims, for they know the dire consequences which follow from the breaking of covenants. So never make excuses in discharging your responsibilities and never break a promise, nor cheat your enemy. For, breach of promise is an act against God, and none except the positively wicked acts against God. 
 

Indeed divine promises are a blessing spread over all mankind. The promise of God is a refuge sought after, even by the most powerful on earth; for there is no risk of being cheated. So, do not make any promise from which you may afterwards offer excuses to retract; nor do you go back upon what you have confirmed to abide by; nor do you break it, however galling it may at first prove to be. For, it is far better to wait in patience for wholesome results to follow than to break it out of any apprehensions. 
 

Beware! Abstain from shedding blood without a valid cause. There is nothing more harmful than this which brings about one's ruin. The blood that is willfully shed shortens the life of a state. On the Day of Judgment it is this crime for which one will have to answer first. So, Beware! Do not wish to build the strength of your state on blood; for it is this blood which ultimately weakens the stab and passes it on to other hands. Before me and my God no excuse for willful killing can be entertained. 
 

Murder is a crime which is punishable by death. If on any account the corporal punishment dealt by the state for any lesser crime results in the death of the guilty, let not the prestige of the state stand in the way of the deceased's relations claiming blood money. 
 

Last Instructions

Do not make haste to do a thing before its time, nor put it off when the right moment arrives. Do not insist on doing a wrong thing, nor show slackness in rectifying a wrong thing. Perform everything in its proper time, and let everything occupy its proper place. When the people as a whole agree upon a thing, do not impose your own view on them and do not neglect to discharge the responsibility that rests on you in consequence. For, the eyes of the people will be on you and you are answerable for whatever you do to them. The slightest dereliction of duty will bring its own retribution. Keep your anger under control and keep your hands and tongue in check. Whenever you become angry try to restrain yourself or else you will simply increase your worries. 
 

It is imperative that you study carefully the principles which have inspired just and good rulers who have gone before you. Give close thought to the example of our Holy Prophet (peace be on him), his traditions, and the commandments of the Book of God and whatever you might have assimilated from my own way of dealing with things Endeavor to the best of your ability to carry out the instructions which I have given here and you have solemnly undertaken to follow. By means of this order. I enjoin on you not to succumb to the promptings of your own heart nor to turn away from the discharge of duties entrusted to you. 
 

I seek the refuge in the Almighty and His unlimited sphere of blessings, and invite you to pray with me that He may give us together the grace to surrender willingly our will to His will, and to enable us to acquit ourselves well before Him and His creation so that mankind might cherish our memory and our work survives. I seek of God the culmination of His blessings and pray that He may grant you and me His grace and the honor of martyrdom in His cause. Verily, we have to return to Him, I invoke His blessings on the Prophet of God and his pure progeny. 

Notes

The famous Arab Christian scholar, jurist, poet and philosopher, Abdul Maseeh-e-Antaki, who died some time in the early 20th century, whilst discussing this letter writes that it is a far superior code than one handed down by Moses or Hamurabi. It explains what human administration should be and how it is to be carried out, and is justifies the claims of Muslims that Islam wants to introduce a Godly administration of the people, for the people and by the people, and it wants that a ruler should rule not to please himself, but to bring happiness to the ruled, and no religion before Islam tried to achieve this end. Ali (A) should be congratulated for having introduced these principles in his government and for having written them down for posterity. 
 

According to a well known historian Masoodi (Murooj-uz- Zahab Vol. II, page 33, Egypt), Imam Ali (A) is credited with no fewer than 480 treaties, lectures, epistles on a variety of subjects dealing with philosophy, religion, law and politics, as collected by Zaid Ibn Wahab in the Imam's own lifetime. So highly valued are these contributions both for their contents and their intrinsic literary worth that some of his masterpieces have formed throughout the course of Islamic history, subject of study in centers of Muslim learning. Indeed, his reputation seems to have traveled into Europe at the time of the Renaissance. Edward Powcock, (1604-1691) a professor at the University of Oxford, published the first English translation of his 'Sayings' and delivered in 1639 a series of lectures on his 'Rhetoric'. 
 

This letter according to Fehrist-i- Tusi (page 33) was first copied during the time of Imam Ali (A) by Asbigh Ibn Nabata and later on reproduced and referred to in their writings by various Arab and Egyptian scholars, chief of them being Nasr son of Mazahim (148 A.H.), Jahiz Basari (255 A.H.), Syed Razi (404 A.H.), Ibn Abil Hadeed (655 A.H.), Ibn Abduh (the reformer of Egypt) and Allama Mustafa Bek Najib, the great scholar of Egypt. The last named regards this letter as "A basic guide in Islamic administration." 
 

"But for his assassination", to quote the language of a French historian, "the Moslem world might have witnessed the realisation of the Holy Prophet's teachings, in the actual amalgamation of Reason with Law and in the impersonation of the first principles of true philosophy in positive action." The same passionate devotion to knowledge and learning which distinguished Muhammad (S) breathed in every word of his Disciple. With a liberality of mind-far beyond that of his age in which he lived was joined a sincere devoutness of spirit and earnestness of faith. His sermons, faithfully preserved by one of his descendants and his litanies or psalms, portray a devout up looking towards the Source of All Good, and an unbounded faith in humanity. "The Spirit of Islam" by Syed Ameer Ali, page 363.
 
 

 

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