Jaafar As-Sadiq: the Imam of Dialogue

السيد علي فضل الله

His Eminence, Sayyed Ali Fadlullah, delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, Rabi Al-Awal 20, 1442 H. /November 6, 2020 Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and believers attended the Jumu’a prayer. Following is the edited text of the sermons:

The first Sermon

Allah, The Most Exalted, says in His Glorious Book: And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless. Allah, The Most Exalted, speaks the truth.  We celebrated on the 17th of this month, the birth anniversary of the six Imam of Ahl El Beit, Imam Jaafar As-Sadiq (a.s ). This Imam who was known, like all other Imams, by his piety, knowledge , generosity, giving  , sublime manners and modesty…was distinguished by teaching   the religious sciences  through his sayings and students, to the extent that the Shia sect was called the Jaafari sect , as well as confronting the deviating currents and lines that were undermining Islam at his time which he faced by his broad knowledge logic and openness ,resorting to the method of dialogue…He argued with the Sufis, heretics,  atheists   and all whose views held different views , to the extent that he was called the Imam of dialogue.

Today we are going to benefit of this honorable occasion to present some examples of his dialogue with those who had their doubts about the presence of God.

The first example : when Abdullah Al-Deesani, an atheist, had a dialogue with Hisham Ibn Hakam, a companion of the Imam

He said : Do you believe in God?

Hisham replied in affirmative.

The Atheist: Is He Almighty?

Hisham: Yes, He is Almighty and All-Powerful.

The Atheist: Can He put the whole world inside an egg without enlarging the size of the egg or diminishing the volume of the world?

Hisham: Give me some time to think it over.

The Atheist: I give you one whole year, and left.

Hisham went to see Imam Jaafar As-Sadiq (a.s.) in a hurry and said: O Son of the Prophet Muhammad (p), Deesani has put a challenging question to me and as regards its answer; I cannot rely on anyone except God or you.

Imam Jaafar As-Sadiq (a.s.) asked: What was the question?

Hisham related the question of Deesani.

The Imam (a.s.): O Hisham! How many sense-organs do you have?

Hisham replied: Five.

The Imam (a.s): Which one is the smallest among them?

Hisham: The pupil of the eye.

The Imam (a.s.): What is the size of the pupil of the eye?

Hisham: About the size of a grain of lentil or a part of it.

The Imam (a.s.): Alright, now look around and tell me what you see.

Hisham: I see the sky, the earth, the houses, the spacious mansions, the mountains and the rivers, etc.

The Imam (a.s.): The One Who can put all you see inside a grain of lentil or a part of the same can also insert the entire world inside an egg without enlarging the size of the egg or diminishing the size of the world.

Hisham then told the atheist what the Imam Jaafar had said in answer to his question, and the man was convinced.

The second example was also narrated by Hisham b. Al-Hakam: One day an atheist from Egypt came to the Imam (a.s.) in Medina to have a debate with him.  Knowing his purpose, the Imam asked him:

Have you ever gone below the earth’s surface?


Do you know what is below it?

I have no knowledge of it.

Have you ever ascended to the sky?


Do you know what exists there?


Have you visited east and west? Do you know what lies beyond the limits?


Thus, the Imam concluded: It is surprising that when you do not have any knowledge about the earth or the sky, the east or west, how can you deny the existence of God? How can an ignorant man make such a great claim? Just ponder upon it; the moon, the sun, the night and the day, which all move in a particular way, are they not helpless and captive in their orbits? If they had not been so, they would not have returned after passing away once. If they are not helpless, why is it not that sometimes there is night instead of day? Don’t you ever reflect on the earth and the sky that why the sky does not crash on the earth? Why does not the earth sink below itself? Who has made them stable? ” Hearing these words, the Egyptian was astonished and said: the One who has done this is our and their absolute master is  God. Then he recited the dual testimony of Islamic faith and became a Muslim.

He returned to Egypt and dedicated himself to guide people to Islam.

The third Example: l-Jud ibn Dirham was drowned in atheism and was extremely out of the way. One of his pseudo-inventions was that he put soil and water in a bottle and after a while there were worms inside. Then he addressed his companions with the following: “I have created this, because I was the cause of this creation.” Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) was informed with this statement and he retorted with the most eloquent reasoning, saying: “If it was he who created that, so he might say: How many worms were they? How many males and how many females were they? What is the weight of each single one? Furthermore, if he is the creator of this let him create something else”.  The man, faced by this impeccable logic, could not find anything to say.

 Dear loved ones. These examples of the dialogue of the Imam show that he used to be lenient and respect those he debated with despite the sensitivity of the subjects and the rude way they touched upon them. He used to be logical and refute an argument with a counter-argument in a kind and convincing, informative and scientific manner. He was also very humanitarian, which was confirmed by all the atheists who were engaged in a dialogue with him such, as Ibn Al-Mukkafa who said that there was no one that deserves to be called human except As-Sadiq .

On the anniversary of the birth of Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) , we are in a dire need  to adopt the language of dialogue  in delivering our ideas and in dealing with those whom we differ  with. If dialogue does not lead to convince the other, it, at least, develops  mutual understanding of one another, which cools down hearts and promotes coexistence  between various sects and political lines.

The Second Sermon

  Worshippers of Allah:  I advise you and I advise myself with one of the advices of Imam Jaafar As-Sadiq who said : “Sufyan, if you have a blessing and you wish to enjoy it for long, then continue to praise God and thank Him for it. God says in His revelations: ‘Should you be grateful, I will definitely give you an increase.’ (14: 7) And if you feel that your sustenance is slow coming, seek God’s forgiveness repeatedly. For God says: ‘Ask your Lord to forgive you your sins, for indeed He is much forgiving. He will let loose the sky over you with abundance, and will aid you with worldly goods and children, and will bestow upon you gardens and running waters.’ (71: 10-12) Sufjan, when you have a problem weighing heavily on you, say, ‘No power works except by God’s leave.’ That is the key to its disappearance and one of the treasures of heaven.

Let us adopt these advices which enhance our relation with God and earn us His forgiveness, guiding and satisfaction. And become more capable of confronting challenges.

We begin by Lebanon, where the increase in the number of those infected with the coronavirus has reached a critical level, with the hospitals having no more beds left to receive them. This means that the government should uphold its responsibility in confronting this pandemic, by being stricter in committing the citizens to abide by the protection measures and helping the hospitals to perform its role in treating the patients.

At the same time, we renew our call to the citizens to fully abide by the protection measures of wearing masks and social distancing, for it is the only means of confronting corona, since it has become clear that we cannot tolerate partial or complete lockdown, although we are afraid that we might get to it. The decision to face the pandemic is first and foremost in your hands. And you ought to exercise a little bit of patience to enjoy relief for a long time.

As for the formation of the government, it is still a very slow process as if everything is fine and as if the Lebanese are able to wait.

Based on this, we call on the political parties concerned with forming the government to shoulder their responsibilities towards the people who voted for them and appointed them in their positions to relinquish their partisan and personal interests and hasten to remove all barriers that still obstruct the formation of a qualified and sincere and capable government that would deal with the urgent and pressurizing issues.

 These parties should know that the people will not accept their recklessness towards  their interests and future as well as the future of the coming generations.

They will not accept to be humiliated, yet again, to attain their basic needs.

 They do not have to beg for these needs, since  they are their rights which those responsible have a duty to realize.

 It is shameful that there are still in this country who link their fate and that of the country, with foreign development or with attaining this or that position or with settling account, at a time the country is collapsing.

As for the forensic audit of the central bank, which an auditing company was commissioned with and which the Lebanese have seen in it the beginning of reform and retrieving the plundered money. But now they are wondering about the obstacles that prevent the company from doing its job. Thus, we call from removing all these obstacles, whether legal or otherwise, and which we believe they are merely an excuse, and that the enquiry could be continued if there is a good will to do so .

As for the flour, which was discovered to have been stored in warehouses that do not possess the least hygienic conditions and which constituted an offence against a sister country, and which uncovered the negligence of one of the state’s departments, and the carelessness of the government as a whole. This gift should have been given to the citizens right away, not to be stored in warehouses.

We call on the judiciary to move so that those responsible would be known to preveny such a catastrophe from being repeated.

 Lastly, we feel proud and dignified by the steadfastness and determination of the Palestinian prisoner, Maher Al-Akhras .We salute this  steadfast stance  against the Zionist enemy and hope that his message would  reach  the Arab and Muslim peoples and all the free people in the world  to liberate this hero and the Palestinian people as a whole.