The Shia of Al-Baqir

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Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (peace be upon him) was born on the first day of Rajab, in the year 57 AH. As Shias, we take great pride in the religious and academic contributions of our Imams, in particular Imam al-Baqir, who laid the foundation for Shia jurisprudence in the holy city of Medina and served as teacher and mentor to many scholars and thinkers of other schools of Islamic thought. As we commemorate his birthday this week, let us take a moment to ponder on our identity as Shia Muslims, and how the Imam himself describes his true Shias and followers:

“Our Shias fear Allah and obey Him. They are humble and pious. They pay the trust. They praise Allah very much. They perform the prayers and the fasting. They obey the parents. They take care of the poor neighbors, the needy, the debtors, and the orphans. They are truthful in talking. They recite the Qur’an. They hold back their tongues from (speaking against) people except good. Thus, they are the custodians of their tribes over all things.” (Tuhaf al-Uqool)

“Your strong one should help your weak one. Your rich one should be kind to your poor one. The man should be loyal to his brother as he is loyal to himself. Keep our secrets. Do not force the people to follow us. Consider carefully our affair and what has been mentioned on our authority. If you find it in agreement with the Qur’an, then put it into effect. If you find it contrary to the Qur’an, then leave it. If you doubt the affair, then stop and ask us to explain it to you.” (Diya al-Amilin)

“The Shias of Ali, peace be on him, sacrifice their lives for our authority. They love each other, for they love us. They visit each other to enliven our affair. When they become angry, they do not do wrong. When they are pleased, they do not go too far (in pleasure). They are a blessing for him who is their neighbor them. And they are peace for him who associates with them.” (Tuhaf al-Uqool)

“Recite my greetings to my Shias. Order them to fear Allah, the Great. Their rich one should visit their poor one. Their sound one should visit their ill one. Their living one should attend the funeral of their dead one. They should meet each other in their houses. Indeed their meeting each other enlivens our affair. May Allah have mercy on the one who enlivens our affair and puts into effect the best of it. Say to them: We will suffice nothing for them with Allah except through the good deed. They will not obtain our intercession but through piety and hard work. Indeed the most intense of all people in regret on the Day of Judgment is the one who describes a certain deed, and then he does other than it.” (Uyun al-Akhbar wa Funun al-Atha)

“Does it suffice for one who claims to be our follower to just express his friendship with the members of the Holy Household? I swear by God that no one is our true follower unless he fears God and obeys Him. Our followers are known for their humbleness and frequent remembrance of God; fasting; praying; helping the orphans, the needy, the ones in debt, and needy neighbors; reading the Quran; and talking properly with the people. They have always been trustworthy in their tribes. O’ Jabir! Do not let the various sects affect you. Do you think that it suffices for one to say that he likes Imam Ali and he is his follower, but does not do anything to support his claim? Or he says that he likes the Prophet, who is even better than Imam Ali, but does not take his example and follow his deeds and act according to the Prophet’s tradition? Just having love for the Prophet is of no use for him. Therefore, fear God, and act in such a way as to attain what is near God, since there is no relation of kin between God and anyone. The one most loved by God is the one who is the most pious, and the noblest one is the one who fears God and obeys Him. I swear by God that it is not possible to get close to God unless by His obedience, and we do not hold the key to relief from the Fire of Hell, and no one has any authority over God. Whoever is obedient to God is our friend, and whoever disobeys God is our enemy. No one can attain our friendship unless by having nobility and piety.” (Tuhaf al-Uqool)

“[Our Shias] are like strong fortress, their chests are trustworthy, they are men of prudence and self-control, they are not extravagant, they are neither oppressors nor ostentatious, they are devoted worshipers at night and brave like lions during the day.” (Mishkat al-Anwar)

“The servant who loves us, Allah will raise him from the dead with us. Religion is nothing except love (for us). Surely, Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, said in His Book: ‘Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.'” (Uyun al-Akhbar wa Funun al-Atha)

“No one is our Shia except by the fear of God and His obedience, and they are not recognized except by their humbleness, reverence, trustworthiness, and abundance of remembrance of God.” (Tuhaf al-Uqool)

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