Imam Al-Rida: spreading the sciences of Islam and confronting deviations

In The Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful

His Eminence, Sayyed Ali Fadlullah, delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, Zul-Qida 10, 1443H. – June 10, 2022. Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and believers attended the Jumu’a prayer. Following is the edited text of the two sermons :

The first sermon

Allah, The Most Exalted, says in His Glorious Book: And We made them leaders guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of Zakat; and they were worshippers of Us. Allah, The Most Exalted, speaks the truth. We mark on the 11th of Zil-Qida, the birth anniversary of the 8th Imam of Ahl Al-Beit , Imam Ali Al-Rida(a.s.) whose virtues include piety, knowledge forbearance, sublime morals, , generosity, giving…etc.

One of his companions who was very close to him says : I have never seen anyone who is more knowledgeable than. And I have seen from him what I have never seen from anyone else. I never saw Abul-Hassan al-Rida(a.s.) angering anyone by something he said, nor did I see him interrupting anyone, or refusing to do someone a favor he was able to do, nor did he ever stretch his legs before an audience… nor did he ever call any of his servants or attendants a bad name. Al-Ma’mun sent Raja b. Abu al-Dahhak to Medina to bring the Imam to to Marw (Khorasan). He describes the Holy Imam’s piety and worship saying: I accompanied him from Medina to Marw. I swear by Allah! I have never seen a man who remembered Allah all the time like him, nor have I seen a man more fearing Allah, the Mighty and High, than he…

The Imam became the heir of Al-Mamoun , a post which he did not want in the beginning, as it aimed at making the Shia support the Caliph in his war against his brother, Al-Amin, and which he then accepted as he saw in it an opportunity to spread the religious sciences of Ahl el- Beit, as well as fighting deviation .

That is why it is said that he enjoyed a freedom that no other Imam did, which enabled him to communicate with all the diverse groups of people and the leaders of religions and ideological trends . We are going to benefit today from this occasion to recall some of the dialogues he had with them:

First Hadith: A man asked the Imam: why do you turn towards the sky when you pray? Is your god up there? The Imam explained that it is not so. He added that Allah, The Most Exalted, is not bounded by any place. He says: Have you not considered that Allah knows what is in the heavens and what is on the earth? There is in no private conversation three but that He is the fourth of them, nor are there five but that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that and no more except that He is with them wherever they are. And: So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah.

The second Hadith: A man came to the Imam and said: son of the Messenger of God, what do you say in view of the tradition that people report about the Prophet Muhammad (p.) in which he says: “God descends to the lowest heaven every night”? Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) replied: “God curse those who falsify the words in their places. By God, the Messenger (p.) did not say it in this way, but said: “God sends an angel down to the lowest heaven every last third night, and on the first night of Friday He commands him to call: “Is there a requestor to whom I should give something? Is there anyone who turns to Me in repentance that I may turn to him in forgiveness? Is there anyone who asks for forgiveness so that I forgive him? O you who strive for good, come here! O you who strive for evil, stay away!” And he calls this until the time of morning prayer begins and when morning has come he returns to his place in the kingdom of heaven. My father told me this from my grandfather, who told it from the Prophet Muhammad.

The third Hadith: In the third hadith Al- Rida interpreted the verses which give the impression that “seeing” God is possible, such as ﴾Some faces on that Day shall be bright, looking towards their Lord,﴿and ﴾Verily, from (the Light of) their Lord, that Day, will they be veiled,﴿ and ﴾Thy Lord comes, and His angels, rank upon rank,﴿ in a way which kept them in the context in which they were revealed. For example, the meaning of “… looking to their Lord” is that they were bright with hope and anticipation waiting to be awarded with their Lord’s rewards, that is, anticipating His generosity and prizes. The meaning of the second verse is that they are veiled from receiving the rewards of their Lord, for God Almighty cannot be said to occupy a physical space, a place, in which He would settle, veiling Himself from His servants.

In the third verse, what is coming is God’s Decree, that is, your Lord’s Decree is coming to pass; otherwise, God Almighty cannot be said to come and go, for these movements are characteristic of His creatures, and it is impossible that He should have their attributes, for this would mean that there would be a place where He is not there! God is highly elevated above this degradation.

The last Hadith: Ibrahim bin Abi Mahmoud said:

I asked Imam Ali bin Musa Al-Rida (a.s.), “O Son of the Messenger of Allah! We hear a hadith about the virtues of the Amir al-Momineen (a.s.) and about your virtues, the (virtues of the) AhlulBayt (a.s.), through the sources of the opponents, but we do not know of these things from You. Should we believe in them?”

The Imam replied, “O son of Abi Mahmoud! My father narrated from his father, from his grandfather, from the Messenger of Allah ,who said, “Those who listen to a speaker have in fact worshipped him. Therefore, if the speaker preaches the words of Allah, then the listeners have worshipped Allah. However, if the speaker says the words of Shaytan, then the listeners have worshipped Shaytan.”

O son of Abi Mahmoud! Our enemies have fabricated three kinds of Ahadith about us. The first kind is the exaggerated virtues, the second kind are those Ahadith that reduce us from our status and the third kind is the Ahadith that are about the defaming/slandering of our enemies.

So when people hear the exaggerated virtues, they call our Shia Kafirs and then claim that the Shias believe that we are gods. When they hear about the virtues that reduce us from our status, they believe in them. And when they hear about the defects of our enemies by their names, they insult us by our names. Allah has said in His book, “Do not abuse those whom they invoke besides Allah, lest they, out of ignorance, exceed the limits and abuse Allah .

Dear loved ones: We are in a dire need to follow the teachings of Imam Al-Rida, which are the teachings of Ahl el Beit and those of Islam…

The second sermon

Worshippers of Allah, The Most Exalted, I advise you and myself with the advice of Imam Al-Rida(a.s.) to us, when He said: O Ali! Do you know whose subsistence is the best?” He answered, “You, master, know better than me.” He said, “It is that of the one whose others’ subsistence is improved through his own. Do you know who has the worst subsistence?” Ali answered, “You know better than me!” The Imam (a.s.) answered saying, “It is that of the one who does not include others in it.” Then he added, “O Ali! Be thoughtful to the boons for they are wild: if they leave people, they never come back to them. O Ali! The worst of people is someone who stops his contributions to charity, eats by himself, and whips his slave.”

The Imam wanted by this advice to Ali and through him to all of us to explain that the happiness which we all seek is not reached by the selfish who care only about their personal interests. It is the privilege of those who share others their sufferings and hopes and seek to make them happy …Those are the ones who have understood the reality of life and those are the ones who assist it to continue and develop . By this, we become more capable of confronting challenges.

We begin by the Zionist aggression against our gas and oil resources by moving the Energean Power ship to the Karish field without taking into account the maps presented by the Lebanese side that prove that the Karish field lies in the Lebanese waters , benefiting from the Lebanese state lagging in presenting the relevant documents to the United Nations; thus weakening the Lebanese stance and making it seem not united.

We, and all Lebanese, are entitled to ask about the reasons that led to all this ongoing lagging and believe that it is the duty of the responsibles to provide the Lebanese with convincing answers.

Thus, we call on the Lebanese government to correct this mistake by acting quickly and responsibly and taking the necessary steps that safeguard the Lebanese sovereignty on every drop of water or any national recourses without taking anything into account except the Lebanese interests …

We ask the government not to deal with this issue from the position of weakness or begging. It should rely on a firm basis of the right, the law and the power it owns, a power that has proven that it is capable of making the enemy think twice before indulging into any new aggression against Lebanon.

In this respect, we would like to praise all the stances that referred to the Lebanese right to resort to all possible means to preserve this right and we call on all other parties to take the same stance to say to all those who put their stakes on the division of the Lebanese that they will find them united when the country faces any aggression or violation of its sovereignty and national resources. All conflicts, struggles and differences should be stopped and all parties should unify their ranks to confront this new aggression against the Lebanese national wealth that threatens its future and the future of the Lebanese.

On another level, we call the parliament to turn into a legislative workshop and not to be overwhelmed by winning and losing calculations of its various parties .

We also call for stepping up the consultations to form a government that is able to shoulder the responsibilities of the coming critical stage in which the country is going to face many challenges. Any delay will be very costly at a time the Lebanese are no longer able to bear the tough living conditions they are suffering from.

We would also like to applaud the efforts made by the army in hunting those who spread the poison of drugs among our sons and which spread to other countries, undermining the image and reputation of Lebanon. We stress on the need to support the army in its efforts that all the Lebanese of all components gain from…