Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “And say, work (righteousness), for soon Allah will see your deeds, and (so will) His Messenger, and the believers.” (9:105) Imam Sadiq says that the believers referred to in this verse are the holy Imams (Tafseer Al Ayashi). The verse and narration make it clear that a report of our actions reaches the Prophet and the Imams. How would one feel if in their report, the Prophet or the Imam finds a sin? How would one feel for example, if in that report, it says the person did not pray on time, or the person was stealing an orphan’s money, or the person is speaking foul language? Surely one who loves the Ahlul Bayt will be embarrassed.
(Say O Muhammad), I do not ask you for this message any reward except the love of my near kin.” (42:23)
Love towards the Ahlul Bayt is a condition if we are to be true believers. It is not just the feeling of love, but it is also the portrayal of love that counts. This is what the term Mowaddah in the verse refers to – portrayal of love.
By the grace of God, the lovers of the Ahlul Bayt are spread all around the world. T-shirts, online profile pictures, artwork, decorations, ringtones, wallpapers and so on all representing love for the Ahlul Bayt is common today. Many people attend gatherings to commemorate the holy Household. Even though all that is important, the vital question remains: do we really love the Ahlul Bayt?
Before we can answer that question, we need to examine some of the implications dictated by loving the Ahlul Bayt.
The Prophet and Imams are our leaders and role models in this life. They represent Allah. Surely if we claim to love them, then we should follow them at least out of respect, especially when we know for a fact that they are the perfect human beings. If someone does not pray, can they really claim they love the Ahlul Bayt? If a woman does not do hijab, if a person listens to music, drinks alcohol, cheats, lies or kills, can any of these claim that they love the Ahlul Bayt? If the Ahlul Bayt tell us that something is wrong and against Allah, then the person who loves them will obey them!
It is a given that we should obey them. However, the existence of love towards the Ahlul Bayt alone is enough motivation for us to do so. Moreover, the existence of this love is dependent on how much we obey them. By indulging in sins, the connection with the beloved Imams will eventually become weaker and it is only a matter of time that our love towards the Ahlul Bayt will fade completely, leaving behind it nothing but profile pictures and slogans that mean nothing when the heart of the individual is not with them.
Today, the term “lover of the Ahlul Bayt” has more or less become a flag representing a religious sect. This automatically makes each one of us who claims to love the Ahlul Bayt a representative. Just as when someone knows our nationality, they will associate us with people from our country, claiming love for the Ahlul Bayt will make the person an ambassador whether they want it or not.
If someone loves their country, would they want to misrepresent it? Clearly not! As ambassadors, we have the obligation to educate people about the school of the Ahlul Bayt. We need to show them the beauty of following the 14 infallibles. We need to give everyone a reason to follow them. Imam Al Sadiq (peace be upon him) says, “Beautify us and do not be a disgrace upon us.” (A’yan Al Shia)
How one would go about that? One needs to first learn before they can relay the narrations. Thus loving the Ahlul Bayt starts by learning about them and their life, and then informing others about them. How many of us today attempt to read, no matter how little, about the teachings of the Prophet and the Imams?
Our actions too should be the best they can be. For example, praying is expected from everyone, but lovers of the Ahlul Bayt are expected to pray on time. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said his Shia can be tested with two qualities, one of which is praying on time (Shajarat Tuba).
Our actions are the only channel which many around us have to learn about the Ahlul Bayt, and we therefore should strive to give them the best representation possible. We can never do the Ahlul Bayt justice, but we can certainly give them our all. When Imam Al Ridha (peace be upon him) was asked about how one can revive the legacy of the Ahlul Bayt, he replied: “(The person) should learn our teachings and teach them to people. If the people hear the beauty of our (teachings), they will follow us.” (Uyun Akhbar Al-Ridha)
Hurting the Ahlul Bayt
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “And say, work (righteousness), for soon Allah will see your deeds, and (so will) His Messenger, and the believers.” (9:105) Imam Sadiq says that the believers referred to in this verse are the holy Imams (Tafseer Al Ayashi). The verse and narration make it clear that a report of our actions reaches the Prophet and the Imams. How would one feel if in their report, the Prophet or the Imam finds a sin? How would one feel for example, if in that report, it says the person did not pray on time, or the person was stealing an orphan’s money, or the person is speaking foul language? Surely one who loves the Ahlul Bayt will be embarrassed. That alone is enough for the person to try and have a sin-free report and consequently, lead a better life. But it goes further than that because when the Prophet or Imam read in the reports the sins of their followers, they are actually hurt.
Some narrations say that our actions are reported to Imam Al Hujjah (may Allah hasten his reappearance) every Friday, others say every Monday and Thursday, and yet other say every day. Nevertheless, the Imam is made aware of them. How can someone who loves the Ahlul Bayt hurt his Imam? Can someone claim love for him and make him cry? How can we face our Imam and claim to love him if we are indulging in sins? Indeed “Our sins strike him like arrows. When he examines our scrolls of deeds, he weeps at our sins.”
Will the slogans, t-shirts, pictures and claims of love mean anything if the lives we lead cause our beloved Prophet and Imams to be hurt?
Assessing Our Love
With all that said, if we do not refrain from indulging in sins, then we do not love the Ahlul Bayt. If we misrepresent our Prophet and our Imams, then we do not love the Ahlul Bayt. If we make our Prophet and Imams cry every day, then we do not love the Ahlul Bayt.
It is a good idea to make it a habit before going to sleep each night to recap our day and ask ourselves: Do I really love the Ahlul Bayt? Do my thoughts and actions reflect this love, or deny it? Each of us has an answer; we need to make sure it is the desired one.