21 July 2020 - 15:09
News ID: 450501
Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi:
A reflection on the teachings of Imam al-Jawad from the viewpoint of Grand Ayatollah Naser ‎Makarem-Shirazi.‎

RNA – The prevalence of various social problems has placed the ideal which we strive ‎towards in our social lives at great risk. There are many problems which we are faced with in ‎this regard. Through studying the various aspects of the life of Imam al-Jawad in regards to ‎this field, we can create better policies which will help resolve these issues, particularly those ‎related to marriage.‎

On the martyrdom anniversary of Imam al-Jawad, we find the necessity of revisiting his ‎various teachings in regards to ethics, religion, society, and politics to be greater than ever. ‎Through utilizing the valuable explanations of Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi, we can gain ‎a better understanding of the true Shi’ah teachings. In spite of the importance of the ‎teachings of Imam al-Jawad, these teachings have been awfully neglected in the past and ‎have not been given the attention which they deserve. In light of this negligence, it is more ‎important than ever for the scholars and the historians to delve in to this topic. It is very ‎important that we take the teachings of Imam al-Jawad as a model for us to learn and ‎implement. What follows is a review of some aspects of these teachings from the viewpoint ‎of Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi:‎

Close Adherence to the Quran: A Key Factor in Maintaining the Power and Potency ‎of the Muslim Community

Without any doubt, the precise implementation of the divine teachings of the Quran within ‎the Islamic society and refusing to suffice with only the outer aspects of Islam can be great ‎source of potency and power within the greater Muslim community. From this perspective, ‎Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has explained an interesting tradition narrated from Imam ‎al-Jawad so that we can better understand what effects a lack of attention and adherence to ‎the Quran can have on the Muslim nation and how it will allow the enemies to dominate over ‎them. Imam al-Jawad has been quoted as saying: ‎

‎“God deprives a nation from the knowledge of the Quran only when they themselves desert ‎the Quran. Similarly, any nation which was dominated by its enemies was dominated when ‎they themselves accepted the authority of their enemies. What is meant by ‘deserting the ‎Quran’ is that such people would memorize its letters, words, and phrases but they would ‎distort its limits and precepts. They would narrate the Quran but they would not abide by it. ‎The ignorant would prefer the memorization of the Quran in order to narrate it and the ‎scholars would become sorrowful because the Quran was not being abided by.” [1]‎

The Distortion of the Imamate with the Pretext of the Outer Aspects of Islam

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has stated: “In light of this tradition, the reasons behind the ‎backwardness of the Muslim community and it being subjugated is clearly evident. This ‎tradition applies to the conditions and circumstances of our time very closely. We see today ‎that in countries such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia, there is a lot of focus on the memorization ‎of the words of the Quran; memorization is so highly prized that even small children are ‎encouraged towards its memorization. This is while the precepts of this holy Book are not ‎abided by. This state of affairs greatly saddens the true scholars and they are in a state of ‎deep sorrow.”‎

‎“Things have gone to the point where they are not able to do much. This is something which ‎took place after the concept of the Imamate was distorted after the demise of the Prophet ‎‎(s) and it has continued to the present time. When we examine the history after the demise ‎of the Prophet (s), we see clearly how the recitation of the Quran was encouraged, while its ‎understanding and commentary was discouraged by those in power. We hope for a day ‎when the Muslims will awaken to this issue and take steps to resolve it. We hope for a day ‎when the people will take hold of the Quran and live by its principles in the way it was meant ‎to be lived by. There is no doubt that the Quran constitutes a strong connection to God ‎which, if practically abided by, can save us all.” [2,3,4]‎

The Blessing of Marriage: A Key Strategy in Combatting Various Kinds of Social Deviance

The prevalence of various kinds of social deviance has placed the ideal which we strive ‎towards in our social lives at great risk. There are many problems which we are faced with in ‎this regard. Through studying the various aspects of the life of Imam al-Jawad in regards to ‎this field, we can be better able to create policies which will help resolve these issues, ‎particularly those related to marriage and the establishment of a family. In light of this issue, ‎Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has endeavored to further explain the various practical ‎ways in confronting these socially based dangers. From a practical perspective, there are ‎numerous ways of treating an excessive focus on one’s lusts. These ways are as follows:‎

‎1. One of the best ways to save oneself from the whirlpool of lusts is to channel one’s ‎sexual needs towards the proper way which is prescribed by the religion. If the sexual needs ‎of an individual are satisfied in the proper way, then they will not pose the same level of ‎danger which they did previously. In other words, these are needs which should not be ‎suppressed; they should rather be channeled in the proper constructive direction. If this is ‎not done, then it is possible that they will be transformed in to a dangerous current which ‎destroys everything in its path, including the person themselves. ‎

It is for this same reason that Islam has permitted and indeed encouraged the utilization of ‎healthy pastimes. The religion has also encouraged one to go after the inner desires in a ‎moderate, healthy, and lawful manner. A well-known sermon from Imam al-Jawad in regards ‎to his wedding is very clear proof in relation to this matter. The Imam is narrated to have ‎said the following in this sermon: “One of the blessings of God upon his servants is that he ‎has made them needless of the unlawful through means of what is lawful.” [5,6] When one ‎reflects upon these important teachings from Imam al-Jawad, one can realize other ‎important points in regards to the social dangers which we face in our societies. Grand ‎Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has mentioned that when one reflects upon this important ‎teaching of Imam al-Jawad, they will be able to better understand these other related issues ‎and develop more effective strategies to decrease the threats posed by various kinds of ‎social deviancy.‎

‎2. Another way to prevent oneself from becoming engulfed in the carnal desires is through ‎proper and detailed planning for one’s life. Whenever an individual has proper planning for ‎every hour of the day and every day of the week (even if these plans are only in regards to ‎engaging in various sports or other leisurely pastimes), they won’t have the tendency to ‎become pulled in to various corrupt behaviours and activities.‎

‎3. Removing the various precursor elements of corruption is a powerful means of preventing ‎corruption from ever taking place. There is a well-known saying that says: An ounce of ‎prevention is worth a pound of cure and this applies fully in this case. For example, if one ‎goes to a corrupt environment, the chances of them getting involved in that corruption is ‎very high. The reason for this is obvious: when corruption is easily available, the temptation ‎is also that much greater. Indeed, when we look at various countries which believe in ‎unlimited freedom in regards to things which are obviously corrupt, we see that remaining ‎untouched in such environments proves to be very difficult, even for those who wish to ‎remain pure. This is particularly true for the youth, who are even more susceptible to such ‎temptations. ‎

‎4. Reviving the spiritual and human elements in the people of a society is another important ‎method in preventing people from being attracted towards corruption. The reason behind ‎this is that when human beings develop self-value within themselves, they will realize how ‎valuable they are and what their rank is in the eyes of God. In light of this issue, they will ‎not sell themselves for so cheap in pursuit of various carnal lusts and desires.‎

The last point which must be mentioned is that when we are fighting against the various ‎forms of moral corruption, we must look at this issue from a practical perspective. This ‎means that the more an individual fights against their negative traits, the weaker these traits ‎will become. These character traits may have been formed over a long period of time, but ‎through this continuous form of combat against them, they will eventually weaken and fade ‎away completely.‎

One method which can work in this regard is to do the opposite of what one’s lower desires ‎demand. For example, if someone is miserly, they should practice giving a lot and they ‎should repeat this often. This way, the flame of greed and miserliness will slowly diminish in ‎them and eventually be extinguished completely. If those who worship their lusts combat ‎these desires in such a way and stand against them, they will find that their lower desires will ‎weaken in time and eventually, the spirit of chastity and modesty will take their place.‎

Practically Awaiting the Return of Imam al-Mahdi: A Key Principle in Islamic Eschatology

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has delved in to the words of Imam al-Jawad in regards to ‎the issue of awaiting the return of Imam al-Mahdi in practical ways, and he has mentioned ‎the precedence which practical actions take over awaiting the Imam in the heart or showing ‎one’s eagerness in words: “Practically awaiting the Imam is a very important issue. It is easy ‎to await him in one’s heart or to show how eager one is to visit the Imam in words, which is ‎something everyone typically does. However, an individual who is truly awaiting the Imam ‎must both prepare himself, as well as others around him. Such an individual must prepare ‎themselves in relation to their psychological state, their faith, their actions, and their ‎ideology. They must also prepare others in regards to these issues as well.”‎

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has gone on to explain the theory of awaiting the return of ‎Imam al-Mahdi and the issue of eschatology as reflected in the teachings of Imam al-Jawad. ‎Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has stated in this regard: .”There is a tradition narrated ‎from Imam al-Jawad in relation to Imam al-Mahdi through Abd al-Adhim al-Ḥasani which ‎states [7] - Abd al-Adhim al-Ḥasani has mentioned that once he went to visit Imam al-Jawad ‎and he intended to ask the Imam whether Imam al-Mahdi would be the one who would lead ‎the last uprising [against the forces of darkness] in the end time or it would be another ‎individual. Yet, before he began asking his question, the Imam answered him and said that it ‎is Imam al-Mahdi who will rise upage The Imam then continued and stated: “It is obligatory ‎to await him during his occultation and to obey him when he is present. He is my great-‎grandson.”‎

Awaiting the Return of Imam al-Mahdi is one of the Most Virtuous Deeds Based on ‎the Teachings of Shi’ah School

Explaining the most important part of this significant tradition, Grand Ayatollah Makarem-‎Shirazi stated the following with regard to the issue of awaiting the return of Imam al-Mahdi: ‎‎‘Imam al-Jawad then continued (in the tradition above) and said: “I swear by God who ‎commissioned the Prophet with prophethood and us with the Imamate – If there is only one ‎day left in the existence of this world, then God will stretch out that day so that the Mahdi ‎can come out of his occultation and fill the world with justice and equity just as it had been ‎filled with tyranny and oppression before that. God will not allow this world to end without ‎justice being realized.”‎

Imam al-Jawad then continued and said: “God will prepare the conditions for the return in ‎one night. When God wills something, it is not necessary for him to create its prerequisites. ‎This is just like how He paved the way for the arrival of Moses in one night. On that night, ‎Moses went to bring back some fire and he was delegated as Prophet during that same hour ‎and night.” [8]‎

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has mentioned that in light of this tradition from Imam al-‎Jawad, it is clear that awaiting the return of the Imam is one of the best deeds which we can ‎busy ourselves in. In reality, this is a duty which the Shi’ahs have and its importance cannot ‎be overstated.‎

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has mentioned in regards to this issue that: “The last line ‎which Imam al-Jawad said to Abd al-Adhim al-Ḥasani was that the “best action of our Shi’ahs ‎is awaiting the coming (of Imam al-Mahdi).” This awaiting consists of three components; it ‎includes awaiting through one’s heart, words, and actions. The first stage of this is that one ‎should be awaiting the return of Imam al-Mahdi in one’s heart and they should be restless ‎due to his absence.” Some people may wonder what awaiting the return of the Imam in ‎words may mean. Awaiting the Imam in words refers to praying for the return and ‎supplicating God in this regard. Awaiting in terms of actions refers to having a physical and ‎material level of preparation for the coming of the Imam.‎

This action-based preparedness is very important since awaiting the Imam in one’s heart and ‎through one’s words is something very easy and most of the people do it. What is difficult is ‎to manifest this inner truth in to an external reality. A person who is in a state of “awaiting” ‎must prepare themselves fully and they must also prepare others as well. This includes being ‎ready from a standpoint of one’s psychology, faith, actions, and ideology. Such an individual ‎must also transfer these beliefs and this energy to others as well. This is why the most ‎virtuous deeds of the Shi’ahs is a practical level of awaiting the return of the Imam through ‎one’s actions. [9]‎

The Effects and Blessings of Fighting against One’s Carnal Desires

Developing piety and fighting against one’s carnal desires is one of the lessons which Imam ‎al-Jawad taught and greatly emphasized. In light of this, Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi ‎has gone on to further explain this key issue and he has stated: The Late ‘Allamah Majlisi has ‎narrated that - A man asked Imam al-Jawad to advise him. The Imam said: “(If I do), will ‎you accept it?” The man said: “Yes.” So Imam al-Jawad said to him: “Rely upon patience, ‎be close to the poor, leave the lusts, and resist your carnal desires and know that you are ‎not hidden from God’s view, so pay attention to how you must be.”‎

Patience in regards to Obedience and Sin: A Key Principle in Combatting One’s ‎Carnal Desires

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has explained the effects and blessings of fighting against ‎one’s carnal desires by stating: Indeed, the felicity of this world and the next can be found ‎by following these few lines as narrated from Imam al-Jawad. Being patient in regards to ‎obedience means to be patient in regards to the difficulties which come about from being ‎obedient to God. Further, being patient in regards to sin means being patient in regards to ‎the problems which one may face from refraining from various sins, as well as not giving in ‎when faced with the various difficulties of life. Life is always interspersed with various ‎problems and it is not possible for one to live a life which is completely free from these ‎various issues and problems.‎

Developing Piety: A Key Factor in Attaining Felicity in this World and the Next

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has then further explained: In another section of this ‎tradition, Imam al-Jawad talks about poverty; by poverty, the Imam intends to refer to a ‎simple life which is far from ostentation and luxury seeking. A simple life refers to all aspects ‎of one’s life, from the vacations one takes to the manner in which one weds, all the way to ‎one’s home and lifestyle. These should all be far away from ostentation and luxury seeking.‎

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has explained the role of developing piety in attaining ‎felicity both in this world, as well as the next. He has stated that: Imam al-Jawad then went ‎on to explain the issue of lusts and carnal desires, and how the human being must leave ‎these things aside. The reason is that if one follows their lusts and carnal desires, they will ‎become a tool of Satan and their life will turn in to a dark and ruined one. By contrast, ‎opposing one’s carnal desires will deliver one from the fold of Satan’s army and it will allow ‎them to attain felicity in this world, as well as the next. When we examine the Quran, we see ‎that Surah al-Nazi’at has explained that a felicitous life in paradise is attained by leaving aside ‎one’s carnal desires and resisting them. The verse states: [11] “But as for he who feared the ‎position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination, then indeed, Paradise ‎will be [his] refuge.” [12]‎

A Final Word

Although Imam al-Jawad was martyred at the young age of twenty-five, he was still able to ‎have a profound effect on his society and answer many of the questions which the people ‎had. He would answer these questions in a way where even the Sunni scholars have ‎acknowledged his profound knowledge and matchless piety in their own sourcebooks. Imam ‎al-Jawad was able to use the few years of his life in a way where even the rulers had no ‎choice but to permit him to publicly teach the school of thought of the Ahl al-Bayt. He would ‎sometimes answer the various issues which the other scholars were stuck upon. In other ‎cases, he would engage in debates, expounding on and resolving various jurisprudential ‎problems. [13]‎

The great Sunni scholars have spoken about the intellectual and spiritual greatness of this ‎Imam. One such scholar is ibn Ḥajar al-Haythami, who has written: Ma’mun selected him to ‎wed his daughter. Even though he was young, he was superior to all of the scholars in ‎knowledge, awareness, and forbearance. Sibṭ ibn Jawzi has stated: “He was like his father in ‎regards to knowledge, piety, asceticism, and generosity. We Shi’ahs must in turn do more to ‎spread the teachings of this Imam and study the way in which he lived.”‎


‎[1]. ‎وَ كُلُّ امَّة قَد رَفَعَ الله عنهم علمَ الكتابِ حين نَبَذوه و ولّاهم عَدُوّهم حين تَوَلّوه و كان نَبْذُهم ‏الكتاب انْ اقاموا حروفَه و حَرّفوا حدودهَ فهم يَرونُه و لا يرعَونه و الجهّال يُعْجِبُهم حفظُهم للرواية و ‏العلماء يحزُنُهم تركُهُم للرعاية
‎[2]. ‎واعتصموا بحبل الله جميعاً و لا تفرقوا
‎[3]. Bihar al-Anwar, volume 78, page 358, Old Edition; Furu’ al-Kafi, volume 8, page 53; ‎Mizan al-Ḥikmah, volume 8, page 85.‎
‎[4]. Surah Ali ‘Imran, Verse 103.‎
‎[5]. ‎امّا بَعْدُ فَقَدْ كَانَ مِنْ فَضْلِ اللّهِ عَلَى الْانَامِ انْ اغْناهُم بِالْحَلالِ عَنِ الْحَرامِ
‎[6]. Bihar al-Anwar, volume 50, page 76.‎
‎[7]. ‎قال: دَخَلْتُ عَلَى سَيِّدِي مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيِّ بْنِ مُوسَى بْنِ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ ‏بْنِ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ ع وَ أَنَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أَسْأَلَهُ عَنِ الْقَائِمِ أَ هُوَ الْمَهْدِيُّ أَوْ غَيْرُهُ فَابْتَدَأَنِي فَقَالَ لِي يَا ‏أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ إِنَّ الْقَائِمَ مِنَّا هُوَ الْمَهْدِيُّ الَّذِي يَجِبُ أَنْ يُنْتَظَرَ فِي غَيْبَتِهِ وَ يُطَاعَ فِي ظُهُورِهِ وَ هُوَ ‏الثَّالِثُ مِنْ وُلْدِي وَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ مُحَمَّداً ص بِالنُّبُوَّةِ وَ خَصَّنَا بِالْإِمَامَةِ إِنَّهُ لَوْ لَمْ‏ يَبْقَ‏ مِنَ‏ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا يَوْمٌ ‏وَاحِدٌ لَطَوَّلَ اللَّهُ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمَ حَتَّى يَخْرُجَ فِيهِ فَيَمْلَأَ الْأَرْضَ قِسْطاً وَ عَدْلًا كَمَا مُلِئَتْ جَوْراً وَ ظُلْماً وَ إِنَّ ‏اللَّهَ تَبَارَكَ وَ تَعَالَى لَيُصْلِحُ لَهُ أَمْرَهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ كَمَا أَصْلَحَ أَمْرَ كَلِيمِهِ مُوسَى ع إِذْ ذَهَبَ لِيَقْتَبِسَ لِأَهْلِهِ ‏نَاراً فَرَجَعَ وَ هُوَ رَسُولٌ نَبِيٌّ
‎[8,9,10]. Bihar al-Anwar, ‘Allamah Majlisi, volume 51, page 156; Kamal al-Din wa Tamam al-‎Ni’mah, Shaykh al-Saduq, volume 2, page 377; Kifayat al-’Athar Fi al-Nas ‘Ala al-‘Aimmat al-‎‎‘Ithna ;Ashar, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazzar Qummi, page 280.‎
‎[11]. ‎وَ أَمَّا مَنْ خافَ مَقامَ رَبِّهِ وَ نَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوى.‏ فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِیَ الْمَأْوى
‎[12]. Bihar al-Anwar, ‘Allamah Majlisi, volume 51, page 156; Kamal al-Din wa Tamam al-‎Ni’mah, Shaykh al-Saduq, volume 2, page 377; Kifayat al-‘Athar Fi al-Nas ‘Ala al-’Aimmat al-‎‎‘Ithna ‘Ashar, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazzar Qummi, page 280.‎
‎[13]. Bihar al-Anwar, volume 75, page 358.‎



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