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Love for the Prophet’s Household

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By Sayyid Muhammad Rida Hijaz

As part of the love for the Prophet, love for the Household of the Prophet is also necessary for all believers. In fact, it is a test of the genuineness of one’s love for the Prophet, and it is declared in traditions that it is the first thing which they would be questioned about on the Day of Resurrection. [11]

As regards the necessity and importance of this love, there are more than three hundred ayahs and hadith found in both Sunni and Shi’i sources. In all, they indicate that the main role of this love is to nourish faith. It is narrated that the Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, said:

There is a basis for everything, and the basis of Islam is the love for us, the People of the Household.” [1]

In another hadith, he  (pbuh)  is reported to have said:

“One who wants to partake of the firmest handhold (of faith) should abide by the love of ‘Ali and my Household. “[2]

He also said:

Love of them (my Household) is a sign of faith, and enmity towards them is a sign of unbelief. Whosoever loves them, loves God and His Messenger. And whosoever harbours enmity towards them is enemy of God and His Messenger.” [3]

It is narrated that al-Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, said:

“For every kind of worship there is another which surpasses it, and the love for us, the people of the Household, is the best form of worship.” [4]

On the basis of the traditions that have been cited and many others like them, it is clear that the love for the Household of the Messenger is a necessary part of every Muslim’s faith. This is further confirmed by taking into consideration that the love of the Household is considered by the Qur’an as the mark of gratitude for the guiding mission of the Prophet. God says:

Say (O Muhammad, unto mankind): “I do not ask you a wage for this except the love of my kinsfolk.” (42:23) 

When the Holy Prophet was asked by his followers as to who were his near of kin” whose love God has made obligatory on all Muslims, the Prophet replied; “Fatimah, ‘Ali, al-Hasan and al-Husayn.” [5] 

The Shi’ah believe that, in accordance with this ayah, it is necessary for every Muslim, from the point of view of his faith, to love them. For, in this verse, God has told mankind to love them. On the other hand, God has ordered us to love them because they merit it, as the highest exemplars of obedience to the commands of God, their exalted stations in the eyes of God, and their purity from all traces of polytheism, sin, and everything that deprives His servants of God’s mercy. In summary, if God instructs all people to love certain human beings, they must be the best among them in virtue and the sublimest of His creatures, otherwise they would not deserve to be loved, and God would never prefer some person to another for no reason, or favor someone who has no merit.

However, it may be asked whether love as an emotional attachment is capable of producing any profound results or capable of motivating deeds of higher religious and moral worth. In my opinion, love not only operates on an emotional level but can be a real agent that prompts man towards virtuous action.

The real love which has been emphasized by both the Qur’an and Sunnah is not merely an emotional relation between the lover and the object of love without any actual relevance to one’s conduct of life. That it is a love which produces piety and encourages the lover to righteous action is confirmed by the Islamic tradition. It is stated in a hadith:

Do not neglect righteous action and diligence in worship by relying on the love of Muhammad’s Household; and do not neglect the love of Muhammad’s Household for reliance on righteous action and diligence in worship, because none of them will be accepted without the other. [6]

Al-Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, said:

“One who follows someone would strive to emulate him.” [7] 

Accordingly, God commands the faithful to love the Household and to have recourse to them in order that they may learn their religious obligations from the Imams of the Prophet’s family. In this relation, the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household, is reported to have said:

“Whoever aspires to live my life, to die my death, to enter the Paradise that my Lord has promised me, and to grasp the handhold which my Lord has appointed, should take ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and his successors after him, as his masters, because they will never cause you to enter the doors of misguidance, nor will they divert you from the gates of guidance. Never try to teach them, since they are more knowledgeable than you. I have asked my Lord never to separate them from the Book until they meet me by the side of the Pool (hawd)”[8]

Al Imam al Sadiq, may peace be upon him, also said:

“God has ordained our guardianship, and He has made loving us an obligation. By God, we don’t say anything out of our desires, and we don’t do anything according to our whims; we don’t say anything but what our Lord, the Almighty and the Glorious, says.” [9] 

They have been given authority and God has ordered people to obey the. They are the witness for mankind, the doors leading to the way of God, the guides to His path, the guardians of His knowledge, the interpreters of His revelations, the pillars of the teaching of Divine Unity, and the custodians of His Wisdom. The Holy Qur’an refers to them in these words:

Honored servants, who speak not until He has spoken and who act by His command. (21:26-27) 

That is why God has urged the faithful to love them, to seek them and follow them, obeying their commands.

Thus befriending them, which is obligatory for all Muslims according to the Holy Qur’an, would lead the believers to fulfill their duties. A real love, as was mentioned earlier, encourages the lover to act according to the beloved’s will and wishes. Therefore, Muslims, by emulating the Prophet’s Household, become real believers. Hence the ‘wages’ of prophecy which the faithful have been asked to pay, ultimately return to the believers themselves. Hence the following verse of Surat Saba’ says:

Say (O Muhammad): “Whatever reward I have asked of you is only for yourselves; my reward is only with God, and He is the witness over all things.” (34:47) 

We may conclude that love plays a great, if not the greatest, formative role in religious faith in the Shi’i creed and is the uniting principle of its universe of religious ideas. So far, we have seen that this principle unites a vast collection of religious ideas each of which relates to the others, and that this totality impels the believer towards a higher form of life.

The principle of love frees religious devotion from a dispassionate and lifeless state, and inspires it with a new refreshing spirit. This is the meaning of the following statement of the Holy Prophet, may God bless him and his Household:

O servant of God, let your love and hate be for the sake of God, because no one can attain to the wilayah of God without that, and no one shall find the taste of faith without that, though his prayers and fast be great in number[10]

I would like to conclude this discussion with a hadith of Imam Ali, may peace be upon him, wherein he states:

Most certainly the best and most delightful of things in Paradise is the love of God and love for the sake of God and the glorification of God. God, the Almighty and the Glorious, says “And the last of their cry shall be: ‘Praise be to  Allah, the Lord of the worlds. [11]

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This article originally appears in Al-Tawhid Journals, published on al-Islam.org

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