Our entire life, our house, our marketplace, our religious programs, our travels, our entire presence must all take on the aroma of Wilayat of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them).When Imam Ali ibn Musa Ridha (peace be upon him) was requested to make his way to the city of Toos (present-day Mashhad) and was ordered to be the heir-apparent of Mamun ar-Rashid, a group of the Shia came to see him and requested permission to enter into his presence. The Imam asked his servant who the people at the door were, to which the servant replied, “They claim that they are the Shia of Ali.” The Imam did not give them permission to enter into his presence. This event continued on the second day, third day, and so on. For a period of two months, every day they would come, ask for permission to see the Imam, to which he would not give them the permission. On the final day, this group of people told the servant, “Tell the Imam that if we are to return back to our home town after being in the city of Toos for two months, and the people ask us if we had a chance to visit the Imam or not, and we tell them that he did not give us the permission to meet him, then no one shall respect us.” The servant went to the Imam and told him what these people said, and at this point, the Imam permitted them to meet him.
After they entered into the presence of the Imam and wanted to sit, the Imam did not give them the permission to sit down. These people protested and said, “O Son of the Messenger of Allah! What have we done to you that you are acting in this way towards us?” The Imam replied to them, “You claim that you are the Shia of Ali, whereas the true Shia of Ali are people like Imam Hasan, Imam Hussain, Abu Dharr, Salman, Miqdad, and Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. These people replied, “We ask forgiveness, what else can we say?” The Imam replied to them, “Say that you are the lovers of Ali.” When the people said this, then the Imam ordered his servant to show these people kindness. (Bihar al-Anwar, volume 65, p. 157)
Thus, it is clear that this claim to be a Shia is something very enormous. We see that Imam as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has stated in relation to the characteristics of the Shia that: “Truly my companions are those people who are the strongest in Wara and who fear the punishment of Allah and who are hopeful of the reward of Allah – these are my companions.”
As we know, Taqwa is a lower level of Wara, since Taqwa means that we keep away from sins, whereas Wara means that we keep away from doubtful things.
We have considered the various issues that come up around us as trivial things such that with the performance of the Tawassul, Ziyarat and Du’a, we consider ourselves as Shia. We do not wish to lower the worth and value of Tawassul and Ziyarat; however, there are many other things which must be performed, and this is what it means to be a Shia.
To be a Shia means to be self-sacrificing, to show altruism, to possess cognizance of Allah, and to be a person of piety. Our entire life, our house, our marketplace, our religious programs, our travels, our entire presence must all take on the aroma of Wilayat of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them).
In these regards, we must first start with ourselves and our families and we must implement the Wilayat which Imam Ridha has stated, and thus, those who make this claim that they are Shia must first ask repentance for lying! We hope that Allah gives us the ability to truly be the lovers of Allah in place of just claiming this station, such that when we claim that we are the Shia of Ali, we are in that form of a Shia that would be pleasing to Imam as-Sadiq and to Imam Ridha.