The Holy Qur’an states, “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives.” (43:23) With a firm understanding of the great status of the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them all) in the sight of Almighty God, it becomes evident that the events associated with these lofty personalities are certainly a manifestation of Divine love and mercy for all Muslims. Unfortunately, many Muslims neglect to recognize the exalted position of the days and events associated with the Ahlul Bayt. Being in the midst of the sacred months of Rajab and Shaban, it is incumbent upon us to realize the importance of honoring the Ahlul Bayt, and to not treat these events lightly, for it is to our own deficit if we turn away from the door of knowledge and blessings left wide open for us.
How much importance do we give to those days when we know Lady Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her) is celebrating the birth of one of her sons? How often do we set aside our own busy schedules, and immerse ourselves in celebrating the births of our Infallibles? When it is the martyrdom anniversary of an Infallible, do we take out time to mourn for the oppression which occurred against him/her? Or do we simply go on with our routine lives, not even attending the mosque program since “we have to go to work tomorrow morning”?
Indeed, the Master of Our Time (may Allah hasten his reappearance) is witness when we thoughtlessly neglect our obligations towards honoring and revering his grandfathers, the Holy Imams. By ignoring or neglecting the birth anniversaries, martyrdoms, and other auspicious occasions associated with the Ahlul Bayt, we are only dishonoring ourselves and distancing ourselves from God and His Chosen Ones. Imam Ali al-Ridha (peace be upon him) said to one of his companions: “He who sits in a gathering in which our affairs (and our path and aims) are discussed and revived, his heart shall not die on the day (Day of Judgment) when hearts shall die (of fear).”
Similarly, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) asked his companion Fudhail: “Do you sit together, talk, and discuss amongst yourselves?” Fudhail replied, “Yes.” The Imam then said: “I approve of these sittings. So keep our ‘issue’ (Imamate) alive. May God exhibit mercy on those who revive our issue and mission!”
There are countless simple and meaningful ways in which we can honor the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt during such special occasions, so that we can be rewarded for our love for them in this life and the hereafter. Among the recommended deeds for such days enumerated in traditions are as follows:
- Treat the birthday of each Infallible like a day of Eid. Observe a fast, perform Ghusl, and wear new clothes.
- On birthdays, give small gifts to family members, and give as much charity as possible.
- Whenever finances allow, visit the shrines and resting places of our Infallibles. If not, definitely remember to recite the salutation of the Infallibles recommended for their birth and martyrdom anniversaries.
- Host or attend gatherings where the virtues of Ahlul Bayt are mentioned, and where we can learn about their lives and examples. On martyrdom anniversaries, we must be sure to host or attend majalis to commemorate their tragedy. Even if the day fall during the middle of the week, and we have work or school the next day, remember that it is only through the blessings of Ahlul Bayt that we will ever be successful in these endeavors anyway!
- Read about the lives and times of our Infallibles. Sharif Baqir al-Quraishi has written a series of biographies of all Fourteen Infallibles, and they are all available online.
Indeed, if we fail to give importance to the Ahlul Bayt during their special days, refuse to go out of our way to honor God’s beloved ones, or indifferently relegate them to a weekend program for formality’s sake, surely it our own loss. But the inspiring story of the woman who sold all her belongings just to go visit Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, and how she was rewarded by the Imam for her dedication, is a testament to the rewards and blessings that can enrich each of our lives and hereafters if we sincerely honor the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt, and place them above all our plans and personal schedules. In the words of Imam Ridha: “O’ Son of Shabib! If it makes you happy (and you desire) to be with us in the elevated ranks of paradise, then be sad in our grief, and be happy in our happiness.” (Nafasul Mahmum)