Showers of Mercy (4)

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In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. welcome to our Ramadhan Special, titled Showers of Mercy. The Almighty Creator knows that the human beings, due to their earthly constitution, are likely to fall into error and sin. They, therefore, are in need of an opportunity to enable them to repent and reform themselves, and hence the chance of repentance in the month of Ramadhan. Divine forgiveness is an opportunity for reform. Part of the divine favors to mankind is to keep the doors of forgiveness and mercy always open. Ramadhan is thus the month of pardon and forgiveness, the season for praying and remembering the Almighty's favors. It is for us to benefit from this wonderful opportunity of repentance and ask forgiveness for all our faults in sincerity, with an intention not to repeat them again. We should allow this month to be a time of self-criticism and self-reproach, so that one may begin a new course, ushering in a true change in soul and thought, through words and deeds of faith during this period. This month-long opportunity to lead an Islamic way of life enables us to observe Allah's commandments and adhere to the straight path of righteousness and bliss.

As we all know the Ramadhan is the month during which God Almighty had not only descended the Holy Qur'an, in all its entirety, on the heart of the Last and Greatest of all Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). It is also interesting to note that it was also during Ramadhan that God had revealed to other heavenly scriptures to the several Prophets of yore. For instance, today the 6th of Ramadhan is the day when the Torah was granted to Prophet Moses (PBUH). And he was given Divine Commandments after a period of fasting. Thus it is clear that all divine creeds had fasting as a pillar of faith, and that too in the month of Ramadhan. Unfortunately, later on, imposters distorted the divine scriptures revealed to the previous Prophets, and it is for this reason that the present day Torah in the hands of the Jews, or for that matter the religious texts of other religions, do not contain the whole divine teachings, but only a very small part of them. Nonetheless in the Book of Deuteronomy of the Torah we still find preserved God's promise to Moses of raising the final Prophet among the sons of Abraham's firstborn, Prophet Ishmael, that is, the Arabs, who are the cousins of the Israelites. This is a clear prophecy about the mission of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). It was because of these facts that on the advent of Islam, many Jews and Christians became devout Muslims.

Today the 6th of Ramadhan is also the anniversary of another important day. It is the day in the year 201 AH when the Prophet's 8th Infallible Successor, Imam Reza (PBUH) was proclaimed as heir apparent by the Abbasid caliph, Mamoun, in the city of Merv in what is now the Republic of Turkmenistan, though in those days it was all part of Khorasan. Mamoun, who struck coins in the Imam's honour, and rewarded poets and courtiers with expensive gifts and jewels, did not make this move out of any sincerity. It was a politically motivated measure in order to deceive Muslims and at the same time try to tarnish the image of the Immaculate Ahl al-Bayt. Mamoun knew that his Abbasid ancestors were usurpers and the caliphate did not belong to them. People, especially the masses of Khorasan, had only supported the Abbasids, for their slogan of giving to the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet their denied rights, just as modern day politicians make false elections promises. But soon the Abbasids started oppressing the members of the Prophet's family and this made the people discontented. So in order to deceive the Muslim ummah, Mamoun forced Imam Reza (PBUH) to come from holy Medina to Khorasan where he pretended to respect and honour the Imam, but actually he wanted to keep him isolated from the ummah. At any rate, Mamoun failed in his plot due to the sagacity and prudence of Imam Reza (PBUH), who became the centre of affection of the masses and spelled out to the Ummah the true teachings of Islam. There are many incidents related to the life of the 8th Imam who two years later in 203 AH, was martyred through a fatal dose of poisoning by Mamoun.

It is the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt that Ramadhan and the holy Qur'an is alive, immortal, and thriving in the world today. The Imams, as the righteous successor of the Prophet, spared no efforts to promote the genuine teachings of Islam, including fasting. As a result, mankind has become familiar with new facts and gains access to insight. The Later Iranian scholar, Allameh Seyyed Mohammad Hussein Tabatabaie, who was a great exegete of the holy Qur'an, says: "every time that I study the holy Qur'an I come across new topics." Islam is thus, the most perfect religion for all mankind. The holy Qur'an is the only heavenly scripture that has remained pure and unpolluted from the interpolation of distorters, as God Himself has promised to keep all falsehood away from it. God thus decreed that the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet should strive in every age and era to make His commandments, including fasting, alive and immortal in society.

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