In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate
Our heartfelt condolences to all our readers on the anniversary of a doleful day – a day when millions of people in American occupied Iraq, oblivious of the cowardly terrorist attacks that endanger their life and limbs, converge on the mausoleum of the man who was martyred today over a millennium and two-and-a-half centuries ago. We have prepared for you a feature in this regard, please stay tuned.
"O Hesham, the light of the body is in the eyes. If the sight is luminous, the whole body will be bright. The light of the spirit is in the brain (mind). If a person is (really) intelligent, he will acknowledge his Lord (God). If he acknowledges his Lord, he will clearly see his religion. If he ignores the affairs of his Lord, he will be having no religion. Like the body that does not live without a living soul, the religion does not live without true conviction. True conviction is proved only through the mind.
"O Hesham, plants grow in plain and not rocky, lands! In the same way, wisdom will grow in the hearts of the modest, not the arrogant, because God has made modesty the instrument of the mind and made arrogance the instrument of ignorance. Do you not notice that he who raises the head to the ceiling will have his head bruised? Likewise, he who bends down will enjoy the shades and the protection of the ceiling. Similarly, God will disgrace those who do not behave humbly to Him and will exalt those who humble themselves for Him."
What you heard were thought-provoking passages that are part of a lengthy piece of advice to the famous rationalist and master-debater Hesham bin al-Hakam, by the person whose martyrdom anniversary we commemorate every year on the 25th of Rajab. He was Musa, the namesake of Prophet Moses, and as Kazem or Restrainer of Anger, so remarkably did he restrain his emotions in the face of the tyranny of four successive Pharaohs during his 35-year mission to guide humanity as the 7th Infallible Successor of the Seal of Divine Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) that he continues to be the beacon of light for the seekers of truth. Like Prophet Moses he wrought many miracles during his lifetime by God's command, but his greatest and eternal miracle is undoubtedly his permanent sway all over the globe from the capital of his tormentors, Baghdad, where people – whether Sunni or Shi'ite – no longer remember or revere the Abbasid caliphs, as they make obeisance whenever their eyes fall upon the golden-domed shrine of Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS), with the words: "as-salaamo alaika ya Bab al-Hawa'ej, which means "Peace unto you O Granter of Boons."
And what a great granter of boons and answerer of needs is Imam Kazem (PBUH) that his legacy continues to enlighten people all over the world. It would be repetitive to say that he was born in 128 AH and was martyred in 183 AH after a period of Imamate lasting 35 years of his 55-year age, of which some 14 intermittent years were spent in the prisons of the tyrannical Abbasid caliphs. Haroun ar-Rashid was his chief tormentor and in fact his assassin, as the 7th Imam died through poisoning of his food in Baghdad after two continuous years in prison. The wretch who administered the fatal dose was Sindi bin Shahak. Haroun was joyous on hearing the news of the death of the Prophet's rightful successor, but today there are no signs of this supposedly greatest of the Abbasid caliphs, while it is the spiritual power of Imam Musa Kazem (PBUH) that continues to draw people from all over the world to his grand sprawling mausoleum in Baghdad. Here we present you some more of his wise sayings that read:
"O Hesham, God the Majestic has certainly presented His arguments to mankind perfectly through minds, explained everything completely to them, and led them to His Authority through proofs (as cited in the Holy Qur’an)…O Hesham, the main reason for God’s sending of Prophets and Apostles to mankind is to make them better cognizant of God. The best responsive people will be the most understanding, the most knowledgeable of God’s commandments will be the most intelligent, and the most intelligent then will be the most high-ranking in this world and the world to come…"O Hesham, God has two arguments against people—one is explicit and the other is implicit. The explicit arguments of God are the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Imams. The implicit arguments are the minds (intellect).
Perhaps some might say that our words are repetitive or mere copy past. The answer to such ignorant people is to emphasize the fact that the golden words of truth should be emphasized time and again for the sake of guidance. Let us here more on what Imam Kazem has said to his disciple:
"O Hesham, the truly intelligent is the one whose gratitude (to God) is not diverted by the permitted (things) and whose patience is not overcome by the prohibited… O Hesham, how come do you expect that God will accept your deeds while you are involving your mind with matters that are away from God’s commandments, and you are complying with your whims and letting them overcome your mind? O Hesham, all people observe the stars, but only those who know their locations and orbits are guided by them. In like manner, you all study wisdom, but no one can benefit by it except those who apply it practically. O Hesham, the Messiah (Jesus – peace be upon him) said to his disciples: O slaves of that which is ill! The height of a palm tree discourages you as you remember its thorns and the difficulty of climbing it, but you forget its good fruits and benefits. Similarly you view the toil required for the deeds of the Hereafter, which seems far off to you and you forget the bliss, illumination, and fruits that you will obtain there.
O servants of that which is ill! To find the sweetest taste of wheat, you should first cull its grains, clean, and mill them properly. The same thing is said about faith. To find the best taste of faith and to benefit by its results, you should first have it as sincere and perfect as possible. Truly I say to you: If you have found a torch the fuel of which is tar, in a gloomy night, you will surely seek its light disregarding its foul-smell. In a like manner, you should receive the wisdom from anybody with whom you find it, disregarding the scope of his ill desire for it.
Let us present you more of the gems of advices of the Messiah related by Imam Musa Kazem (PBUH) that provide food for thought.
"Truly I say to you, O slaves of this world! You will not attain the honor of the Hereafter unless you abstain from whatever you desire. Never postpone repentance to tomorrow. Before tomorrow, there is a day and a night during which God’s act is coming and going. Truly I say to you: Those who are not indebted are surely less grievous than the indebted even if they defray their debts properly. In the same way, those who avoid committing sins are more relaxing and less grievous than the committers of sins even if they purely repent and return to God. The insignificant sins are the traps of the Satan who persuades you to disregard such sins until they are amassed and surround you. Truly I say to you: In wisdom, people are of two kinds; one which is as perfect in his actions as he is in his words, and the other although perfect in his words wastes (his wisdom) through his evil deeds. What a difference between the two! Blessed are the scholars of deeds. Woe to the scholars of words. O slaves of the evil! Betake the places of your prostration to your Lord as prisons of your bodies and foreheads. Make your hearts the dwelling of piety. Do not make them the shelters of lusts. The most intolerant against misfortunes will be certainly the fondest of the worldly pleasures, and the most tolerant is the most abstinent. O slaves of the evil! Do not behave like the snatching eagles, the sly foxes, the perfidious wolves, or the wild lions with their preys. Your behavior with people is like this; you snatch from some, cheat others, and betray others.
Truly I say to you: It is useless to have a sound physique in appearance while the interior is corrupted. Hence, your sound bodies should not make you admire them when your hearts are tainted. It is also useless to purify your skins when your hearts are dirty. Do not be like sieves that let the good flour pass and hold the bran. Likewise, you should not speak of wisdom while treason is filling in your hearts.
What you heard were the admonishments related by the Prophet's 7th Infallible Successor, Imam Musa Kazem (PBUH), and preserved in the excellent book Tuhaf al-Uqoul or Gifts of the Intellect compiled over a millennium years ago. Goodbye and God bless you.