Home Archive Lectures Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.): The Imam of Knowledge and Dialogue

Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.): The Imam of Knowledge and Dialogue

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

His Eminence, the Religious Authority Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, delivered the two Friday prayer sermons at the Imamain Al-Hassanain Mosque, Zul-Hijja, 3rd 1430 H. - November, 20th 2009. Several prominent religious scholars, dignitaries and thousands of believers attended the Jumu’a prayer.

The First Sermon 

On the seventh of this month is the death anniversary of Imam Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Baqir (a.s.), one of the twelve Imams and the Members of the House. This Imam managed throughout his time to fill the Islamic world with knowledge, and open up people's minds to the realities and secrets of Islam, so as to present it in its authenticity and true value. He lived with his father, Imam Ali Bin Al-Hussein Zein Al-Abideen (a.s.), for thirty five years, experiencing all his father's horizons, particularities, and values, for he was the Imam who lived with Allah and the people, and who filled the Islamic life with knowledge.

Historians' testimonies

Ibn Hujr Al-'Askalani, who did not believe in Al-Baqir's Imamate, gave in his book "As-Sawa'iq Al-Muhrika" (The Burning Thunderbolts) the explanation of the term "Al-Baqir": Al-Baqir is the adjective ascribed to the one who opens up ground; i.e. split it wide open, revealing its hidden contents and treasures. Therefore, Imam Muhammad Bin Ali was called Al-Baqir because he introduced and spread the knowledge and teachings of various fields and dimensions in a manner which had never been witnessed earlier. This is quite evident that only those who are blind or of evil intentions will not notice.

Abdullah Bin Ata' Al-Makki said: "I have never seen the scholars feeling inferior in front of any person. [However, I have seen them feeling inferior] before Abi Ja'afar, Muhammad Bin Ali Bin Al-Hussein. Although Al-Hakam Bin 'Uyayna was a great and old scholar, when I saw him with Al-Baqir, he was like a boy before his teacher."

Ibn Shahr Ashoub said in the book "Al-Manakib": "He was the most truthful and generous. He used to give in charity one dinar every Friday and he used to say: "Charity on Friday would be multiplied, since it is the best of the days."

Al-Mufid also said that he (a.s.) was famous for his generosity, although he was not that rich and had rather a big family.  

The Imam of his age    

On another level, Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.) was the master of the cultural phase of his time. Sheikh Al-Mufid said in Al-Irshad (Guidance): "The surviving Companions (of the Prophet), the leading members of the next generation (tabi'een) and the leaders of the Muslim jurists reported the principal features (ma'alim) of religion on his [Imam Al-Baqir's] authority." When we study the diverse Islamic culture in the age of Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.), we would find out that most of the scholars and educated people, who were well-versed in jurisprudence, history, theology, or ethics had all quoted him. It is he who established the Islamic school that his son, Imam Ja'afar As-Sadiq (a.s.), inherited. Moreover, he used to follow up with his students so that they would attain high educational positions. In his will to his son while he was on the verge of death, Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.) asked his son, Imam Ja'afar As-Sadiq (a.s.) to take good care of his followers, and Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) promised that he will leave them in a state where they do not have to ask anybody about any issue.

When he was asked about the reason why he quotes a tradition without giving it a chain of authorities – he would quote the traditions of the Messenger of Allah (p.) without mentioning their chain of authorities, but rather he would directly relate it to the Messenger and say: "The Messenger of Allah said," and he would not say so and so quoted another person who quoted another, just as other narrators do, he answered: "If I report a tradition without giving it a chain of authorities, then my chain of authorities is in fact my father on the authority of my grandfather on the authority of his father, on the authority of his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, on the authority of Gabriel, on the authority of Allah, the Almighty."

A poet once said:

"Support people who say our grandfather quoted Gabriel who quoted Allah, the Almighty."

The advocate of unity

The Imam (a.s.) wanted the Muslims to unite, and to love one another and communicate amongst each other. He never wanted them to fight, but rather to conduct a dialogue when they differ in their points of view. He was reported to have said: "Beware! Do not acquire enmity – do not dare to fight with one another –because it rottens and turns the heart into evil –for it would create grudge in man's heart – and causes to develop hypocrisy" – for it drives man to say what he does not believe in. He (a.s.) also says on the issue of blood relation: "Indeed, the quickest obedience in reward is the relations between blood relatives. Perhaps some people are sinners – they do not obey Allah the way they should – however, they visit each other. Thus, their properties increase and they become rich" – paying visits to blood relatives brings about money and makes one's life prosperous.

He also says: "There is nothing that Allah loves more than being asked. And there is nothing that changes what is going to happen, except supplication." He used to encourage people to invoke Allah in all their affairs, so that if one was afflicted by a calamity or a misfortune, he would sit before Allah and invoke Him, because Allah wanted people to ask for His help, since supplication represents the intimate relation between man and his Lord: "And your Lord says: "Call upon Me, I will answer you." (40:60)."

The Imam's guidance

The Imam (a.s.) also used to call man to live for the sake of offering the good to the people. He (a.s.) says: "The quickest good in reward is benefaction – being kind to people and giving them charity – and the quickest evil in punishment is oppression – by tyrannizing people and offending them. It is enough fault for the person that he looks at the flaws of others, while he is blind of the same flaws within him – some people criticize other people for committing things they, themselves, commit. Moreover, the one who has certain flaws ought to mind them and criticize himself so as to improve them, instead of searching for other people's flaws and criticizing them – and that he disgraces the people with what he cannot leave – he calls on people to abstain from doing something while he commits it – and that he hurts his friend with that which does not concern him" – he would sit down with people and hurt them by things that are useless and of no concern to him.

Al-Jahiz said in his book "Al-Bayan Wat-Tabyeen" that Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Baqir summarized the goodness of this world's affairs in two words: "The goodness of all coexistence and living together is a full measure. Two thirds of the measure is cleverness. And one third of it is heedlessness," meaning, that man ought to be aware and clever so as not to be deceived, and he ought to disregard few things so as not to preoccupy one's self with marginal issues. Therefore, man's life would be well-organized and so should be the way he treats people, so as not to be held accountable of all such sins and he would not intervene in people's private affairs.

In one of his traditions, Al-Baqir (a.s.) says: "Do not make friends with the sinner – for man could be influenced by his friends, as a poet once said:

"Make friends with those who are trustworthy      for habits could be acquired from them. And the wind carries the filthy smell from the filth and the beautiful aroma from the nice scent."

The Imam (a.s.) continues to say: "Do not inform him of your secrets – if you cannot keep your own secrets, others would not keep them either, and of you disclose your secrets to the sinners, they tend to make use of them to harm you, due to their nature of sin – Ask the advice of those who fear Allah" – if you do seek counseling from someone, let it be from those who fear Allah, for he who fears Allah cannot but offer you guidance and would never cheat you.

In another tradition, the Imam (a.s.) says: "If the servant refrains from spending on that which pleases Allah, then he will be afflicted by spending a hundred fold on that which displeases Allah," for man ought to seek pleasing Allah, spending generously on that which Allah loves.

Dialogue with those who disagree

Dear beloved, the grand Imam has left us a great legacy that is diverse and handles several issues. He used to conduct a dialogue with those who disagree with him and succeed in convincing them, for he always had strong and solid arguments for those who think in a different way. The Imam believed in dialogue and in arguing in the best manner. Actually, this is what we ought to learn from Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.); we ought to acquire his knowledge and high morals, and learn from his life how to resort to dialogue in everything we disagree on, instead of turning our disagreements into grudges and conflicts.

The Imam (a.s.) was open to all Muslims; to those who approve of his Imamate and to those who do not, for his major concern was Islamic unity and how to get the Muslims close to one another and make them meet, for he believed that if they do meet, they would conduct a constructive dialogue through which they would reach the truth and the aspired positive results.

The Imams of the Members of the House (a.s.) embody the model of the true caliphate of the Prophet (p.), and it is they who establish this truth for us. We ought to follow their lead in seeking knowledge and in everything we do.

Peace be upon Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.), the day he was born, the day he passed away, and the day he will be brought back to life.         

 The Second Sermon

Fragmenting the Palestinian cause

In Palestine, the Zionist occupation is creating facts on the ground and directing the events in a way that makes the Palestinians, along with the entire Arab and Islamic reality, accept the no-state reality under an international cover and an Arab tendency to deal with the matter as a fait accompli. The enemy is well aware of this point, for it has aimed at turning the cause from a movement of liberation and resistance into one of negotiations, and eventually into an inert movement of words only and no actions whatsoever.

Moreover, the enemy is assured that none of the western administrations would allow its conviction or embarrassment or being dragged to a corner; therefore, it insists on refusing the unilateral declaration of the Palestinian state, even when it is aware that there are no favorable circumstances for such a declaration, neither regionally, nor internationally, or even locally…

Unfortunately, the arrogant movement, led by big countries, has made the issue of the Palestinian state absent, even as a formality, to the extent that some western officials have declared that there has got to be a Palestinian state in the first place, so that we would recognize it…Actually, this is an indication on the massive size of the western civilization collapse as demonstrated in its approach towards our issues, not only granting Israel, the occupier, usurper, and criminal, the legal legitimacy, but also rendering it the one that decides whether to grant the Palestinians a state or an authority or whatsoever, or not.

Failure of relying on the West    

It is about time for us all, especially the Palestinian people, to realize that depending on the west will leave the Palestinians, as it has always had, barehanded. Moreover, if the Palestinian cause does end – may God forbid – this will result in catastrophes at the level of the entire nation; therefore, we have no other option except re-initiating the resistance in the line of liberation, because this world listens only to the strong, and the international politics holds no respect for those who succumb to dictations and give up the rights and future of their peoples.

The US double standards

On the Arab and Islamic levels, the ongoing events and stands are still revealing the real face of the American administrations that are only loyal to their arrogant interests that comply with those of the enemy. Since Obama assumed position, experiments have proven that the American policy towards the Arab and Islamic world has not changed a bit, and the best proof is that the American President has resorted to the rhetoric of intimidation and threatening against Iran concerning its peaceful nuclear dossier, as he flexes his military muscles, at a time he appears lenient before the Israeli beast that possesses nuclear claws and receives financial and military support and conducts joint maneuvers with the Israeli entity that are directed against the entire region.

Liberation from the American master

Therefore, we would like for the Arab and Islamic states that are subjected to the pressure of the American Administration to release their will, for we believe that stability in the region entirely depends on the gradual liberation from the American pressure, be it at the political or economic level, or that exercised by the occupation.

The Food Summit

At the same level, we witnessed a few days ago the summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) convened in Italy under the title of "fighting hunger", as the number of the hungry people in the world has exceeded one billion and a hundred million person, and as the annual death rate of children as a result of hunger has reached six million…

Moreover, we noticed how the rich countries insisted on not attending the summit, and refused to undertake binding commitments to reduce the number of hungry people in the world, at a time these same countries spend hundreds of billions on war and destruction machines, and on saving monopolizing companies from bankruptcy.

We ought to realize that the problem of hunger in the world cannot be separated from the political one created by the arrogant countries; therefore, the poor countries ought to exert every effort to achieve their self-independence, be it at the economic, political, or social levels, by means of cooperation amongst themselves [poor countries], instead of imploring the plundering states that inflicted poverty, havoc, and hunger within all the countries they colonized or occupied.

Protecting political calmness

As for Lebanon that managed to take a little breath vis-à-vis the political calmness and suspend several useless rows and debates… this Lebanon needs practical steps to preserve and enhance this calmness, by insisting on taking the path of calm and constructive dialogue, and real cooperation within the government and outside it, ignoring the voices that constitute an element of negative pressure on the course of civil peace in a way or another…

Lebanon is in need for many economic, social, and political workshops, just as it is in need for fortifying its security and future against [all kinds of] challenges. However, Lebanon's utmost need is replanting the seed of love and mercy amongst its people, after politics have desecrated many of their pure traits with repugnant grudges and closed fanaticisms that we are afraid might be brought up, once again, at any electoral phase or point of interest.