The Reality of Tawassul – Part 7 of 10




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The Reality of Tawassul – Part 3 of 10




The Reality of Tawassul – Part 2 of 10




The 9th of Rabi al-Awwal

Originally found at: http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/en21745

Summary of question
Is it true that Imam Hussein’s assassin was killed on the ninth of Rabi’ul Awwal and his head was sent to Imam Sajjad (a.s.)?

Question
What is the historical importance or significance of 9th of Rabi\’ul Awwal? It is said that this was the day when killers of Imam Hussein (a.s.) were killed by Ameer Mukhtar and a letter was sent to Imam Zainul Abideen causing him to smile and so on?

Concise answer

The 9th of Rabi’ul Awwal can be studied from several angles:

First: There is a narration which describes this day as a day of great Eid or festivity for Shiites’ to the extent that the angels have been commanded to cease recording sins of Shiites on that day. As said in index “abolition of obligation on ninth Rabi’ul Awwal”, question 20229, such a narration or understanding is incorrect.

Second:  Another subject that has been associated with this day[1] is the death of Umar bin Saad, the commander of Yazid’s army against Imam Hussein, peace be upon him. It has been said that he was killed by Mukhtar on this day and that Mukhtar sent Umar bin Saad’s head along with a letter to Imam Ali (a.s.)’s son, i.e. Muhammad bin Hanafiyah. In this regard, we have to clarify a few points:

1. Mukhtar launched his uprising in the month of Rabi’ul Awwal[2] or Rabi’ al-Thani 66 A.H. The people of Kufah vowed allegiance to him and thereafter he started to punish the murderers of the martyrs of Karbala some of whom he did kill.[3]

Among those people who were brought to justice and killed in the year 66 A.H. were Shimr Zil Jawshan[4], Khuli bin Yazid[5], Ubaidullah bin Ziad[6] and Umar bin Saad[7].

2. Based on reports in history books, Mukhtar killed Umar bin Saad and sent his head along with some money to Muhammad bin Hanafiyah. Seeing Umar bin Saad’s head, Muhammad bin Hanafiyah prayed for Mukhtar as such: “O Allah, grant Mukhtar the best of rewards on behalf of Muhammad and his Ahlul-Bayt.”[8]
Indeed, according to another tradition which has been related by Kashi in his book, it says: “When Ubaidullah bin Ziad and Umar bin Saad’s heads were brought to Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.), the Imam prostrated praising and thanking Allah and praying for Mukhtar and wishing him well.”[9]  However, based on a another report by Ya’qubi,[10] Ubaidullah bin Ziad’s head was sent to the fourth Imam, Imam Sajjad, peace be upon him, and Umar bin Saad’s head was sent to Muhammad bin Hanafiyah.

3. Considering the historical reports in the sources, ultimately only two heads were sent to Imam Sajjad (a.s.) one of which was Ubaidullah bin Ziad’s head and the other was that of Umar bin Saad.

The conclusion is that, considering the reports and what was said above, Umar bin Saad’s head who was killed in the year 66 was sent to Muhammad bin Hanafiyah, because Umar Saad was killed in the same year.

Keeping in view the fact that Mukhtar launched his uprising in the month of Rabi’ul Awwal or Rabi al-Thani of the year 66, obviously Umar bin Saad could not have been killed on the nineth of Rabi’ul Awwal of the same year. Considering the distance between Iraq and Hijaz, it is difficult to accept that his head was sent to Imam Sajjad (a.s.).  Yes, it can be said and conceded that Umar bin Saad’s head was sent to the Imam but it is not true to say that he was killed on 9th of Rabi’ of the year 66 A.H.

As for Ubaidullah bin Ziad’s head which, according to some reports, was sent to Imam Sajjad, the same objection could be raised not to mention the fact that in some history and textual resources such a claim in respect of the ninth of Rabi’ul Awwal is not proven.

[1] It has been stated on some websites as such.
[2] Miskawayh Razi, Abu Ali, Tajarub al-Umam, researched: Imami, Abul Qasim, vol.2, p. 146, Soroush, Tehran, 1379 (2000).
[3] Shaykh Tusi, Muhammad bin hasan, Amali, p. 240, Dar al-Thaqafah Publications, qom, 1414 A.H.
[4] Ibn Kathir, Ismail bin Umar, Al-Bedayah wa al-Nihayah, vol.8, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 1407 A.H.
[5] Ibid, p. 272.
[6] Mas’udi, Abul Hasan Ali bin al-Hussein, Murawwij al-Zahab wa Ma’aden al-Jawhar, researched by Daghar, As’ad, vol.3, p. 97, Dar al-Hijrah, Qom, second edition, 1409 A.H.  Of course, after quoting the said saying about the death of Ibn Ziad in the year 66 A.H., he says: What is widely known is that he was killed in the year 67 A.H. Vide: Al-Bedayah wa al-Nehayah, vol.8, p. 286.
[7] Al-Beyah wa al-Nehayah, vol.8, p. 273.
[8] Ibn A’tham Kufi, Ahmad bin A’tham, al-Fotuh, researched by, Shiri, Ali, vol.6, p. 247, Dar al-Azwaa, Beirut, 1411 A.H; al-Bedayah wa al-Nehayah, vol.8, p. 274; Balazari, Ahmad bin Yahya, Ansaab al-Ashraf, researched by Zakaar, Suhayl, Zarkali, Reyadh, vol.6, p. 406, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 1417 A.H.
[9]  The Arabic version of the report is as under:
[9]. «أَنَّ عَلِیَّ بْنَ الْحُسَیْنِ(ع) لَمَّا أُتِیَ بِرَأْسِ عُبَیْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ زِیَادٍ وَ رَأْسِ عُمَرَ بْنِ سَعْدٍ خَرَّ سَاجِداً وَ قَالَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِی أَدْرَکَ لِی ثَأْرِی مِنْ أَعْدَائِی وَ جَزَى الْمُخْتَارَ خَیْراً»
Kashi, Muhammad bin Umar, Ikhtiyar Ma’refat al-Rejal, researched and edited: Shaykh Tusi, Muhammad bin Hasan, Mustafawi, Hasa, p. 127, Mashad University Press, first edition, 1409 A.H.
[10] Yaqubi, Ahmad bin Abi Ya’qub, Tarikh Yaqubi, vol.2, p. 259, Dar Sader, Beirut (date not mentioned).




Did Imam as-Sajjad Teach Yazid ibn Muawiyah the “Secret” for the Latter to be Forgiven after Kerbala?

Question: In regards to the spiritual power and worth of Ṣalāt al-Ghufaylah, we have heard something to the effect that apparently Yazīd ibne Muʿāwiyah said to Imām ʿAlī ibne al-Ḥusayn al-Sajjād, “I have killed the son of the Messenger of Allāh … is it possible for me to still attain salvation?!” To this, Imām al-Sajjād has been reported to have replied, “Yes, if you perform Ṣalāt al-Ghufaylah, then you will be redeemed.” After this conversation transpired, Sayyida Zaynab binte ʿAlī said to her nephew, Imām al-Sajjād, “You are showing the means of salvation to the person who was directly responsible in the killing of your father!?” To this question from his aunt, the Imām replied, “All I have taught him is Ṣalāt al-Ghufaylah, however [I know that] Yazīd [due to him being hard-hearted] will never have the Divine succor (tawfīq) to perform this prayer.”

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Allāh and the Singular Pronoun

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Question

Why does Allāh sometimes use the ʿArabic plural pronoun while referring to Himself while in other instances, He makes use of the singular pronoun?

Answer

In replying to this question, we first put forth the two below preambles:

One: The scholars of theology (ʿāqāīd) – also known is ʿilm al-kalām – have presented various logical proofs to establish the oneness of Allāh . The meaning of Allāh being one is that it is only He who is independent and needless of anyone or anything in existence — He creates; He sustains; He guides; He causes to die, etc… In the science of theology, these things are referred to as the Oneness (tawḥīd) in creation; the Oneness (tawḥīd) in sustenance; the Oneness (tawḥīd) in ontological guidance, etc…

Two: What has been mentioned above does not mean that someone or something – in the field of creation, sustenance, guidance and other such things – has no role to play in these areas of life. Rather, the wisdom of Allāh dictates that the acts of creating, sustaining, guiding — and rather — most of the actions which are carried out are done through [natural] means.[1]

For example, even though Allāh is directly able to — and without any other external means — cure the sick, feed the hungry or guide those who are misled, however based on its own wisdom, it is much more admirable that each and every one of these actions is carried out through their specific [natural] means and that every action is thus carried out [in the world through the customary sources]. Therefore, the hungry people are satiated with the bread which they themselves [humanity] have prepared; the sick are healed through the medicine which they themselves have manufactured and which has been administered by a doctor who himself has been trained in these regards, and so on. Of course, the bread and the doctor and the medicine and all of these are only effective by His permission and all of them have their own specific outcome [within them] and therefore, when the medicine and the doctor; or the bread and the water and all of these things take their continuous existence from Him and through His permission, produce the desired effects [which they are made for], then such a cause and effect relationship which exists does not go against the belief in tawḥīd and the oneness of Allāh in the various aspects. Such a thing is also never considered as being partners with Allāh – rather, they are all creations of Allāh and in all aspects of their existence, including the effect which they carry, are all reliant upon Him.

Therefore, by keeping what we have just stated in mind, let us now return to the initial question and offer our reply to it. We state that: Allāh is only One and anytime He informs of His actions — as He is One — it stands to reason that [when He speaks of His acts] they should always be mentioned with singular words and also singular pronouns.[2] Therefore, we see that many times in the Qur’ān such phrases have been used[3].

However we see that in ʿArabic and also sometimes in other languages, the speaker many want to, for numerous reasons, say “WE did this thing” rather than saying “I did that thing” – but why?

Below we present some of the proofs for why this is done:

A. The Noble Qur’ān has chosen to make use of the conversational language which the people use as the best way to communicate with them. Thus, sometimes it is seen that in daily conversations, people may employ statements such as, “That person is manly [possesses the trait of chivalry]” whereas it is possible that they are referring to a female and not a male [but are still using the phrase manly in its general sense]. In the Noble Qur’ān we see the phrase which reads, (O mankind! You are the poor in your relation to Allah.)[4] In this verse, the pronoun used in the word “you” (أنتم) is the masculine, however it is a general address being made to both women and men, and anyone with intellect would understand that the meaning of this pronoun is all of humanity and not only men. In regards to the plural and singular pronouns we also see that many times people will, in place of the singular pronoun, make use of the plural pronoun in their speech. For example people sometimes say, “We [all] came however all of you were not home.” In this sentence, the pronoun in ‘we’ and the pronoun in ‘you all’, even though they are plural, however the meaning of the speaker and what is understood by the listener is the singular pronoun. In addition, in order to show honour, esteem and respect and to confer a great status on an individual, the plural pronoun is used. In regards to Allāh, the Noble and Grand, we also see that for greatness and [His] eminence, Allāh uses the pronoun for ‘we’ or ‘نحن.[5]

In any case, in order for a speaker to remind the listener of the speaker’s own greatness, rather than saying “me”, he will make use of the word “we” which will denote on the greatness and eminence of the narrator.

In an example in the Qur’ān we see that in the first verse of Sūrah al-Fatḥ (Chapter 49), that Allāh says:

إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحاً مُبِيناً

“Indeed, We have given you [O Muḥammad] a manifest victory.”

Some commentators of the Qur’ān have stated that in this verse as Allāh wishes to show His own greatness, He has stated that “WE have given you the conquest [of the city of Mecca].” However as to why it is seen that in this verse, the phrase of “WE” has been used, it is due to the fact that this method of communication which points to [His] greatness is much more suitable with the mentioning of the ‘victory’ and this same point can also be applied to the verse of the Qur’ān which reads[6]:

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِداً

“Indeed We have sent you [O Muammad] as a witness…”

B. Sometimes, in order to show the greatness of the action which has been performed, rather than saying, “I had done such and such act”, the individual speaking would actually say, “We did such and such act” – for example:

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِيِ لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْر أو إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

“Indeed We have revealed it [the Noble Qur’ān] on the Night of Grandeur” or “Indeed We have granted you [O Muḥammad] al-kawthar.”

And such examples actually go back to the greatness of the Qur’ān and the [spring] of al-Kawthar.

C. Sometimes, in order for Allāh to draw our attention to the fact that there are causes and effects which He has put into place for the performance of certain actions, He would, in place of saying, “I have done such and such a thing”, would actually use the word “We” and therefore, in the fourth verse of Sūrah al-Raʿd (chapter 14), we read the following commentary mentioned in al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān: “And this same phraseology of ‘We’ – (We make some of them excel over others) for the first person plural is not free from giving the feeling that there are divine causes besides Allāh that work according to His command that end at Him, the Glorified.”[7]

We also see the same opinion under the commentary taken from Tafsīr-e Namūna under verse 61 of Sūrah Yūnus (chapter 10) in which it is stated: “The usage of the plural pronoun when speaking about Allāh despite the fact that His pure essence is only ONE from all possible aspects is done to show His lofty status and also so that we understand that He is always controlling those who are under His command to fulfill His orders and in the obedience to His commandments are ever ready and waiting [to comply] and in reality, the discussion does not only relate to Him, but rather it is about Him and also all of those who are obligated to obey Him.”[8]

It is important to note that it is possible that in one verse of the Qur’ān, we may actually see all three explanations given above combined – meaning that the pronoun to speak about Allāh may come in the plural to not only show the greatness of the one who is performing the action, but also to show the greatness and eminence of the action itself which is being done and also to draw the reader’s attention to the cause and effect relationship – and this can be seen in the verse of the Qur’ān below in which all three examples are present:

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِيِ لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

“Indeed We have revealed it [the Noble Qur’ān] on the Night of Grandeur”

[1] There is a ḥadīth in al-Kāfī, vol. 1, pg. 183, in the section of knowing the Imām and referring things back to him, which states:

أَبَى اللَّهُ أَنْ یُجْرِیَ الْأَشْیَاءَ إِلَّا بِأَسْبَاب

“Allāh disdains that things are carried out [in the world] except through their [natural] means.”

[2] If this is the case, then the question which is raised is that in certain instances, why does Allāh use the singular pronoun has no basis on our discussion, and the only question which remains to be answered is why does Allāh not always make use of the singular pronoun? This is what we will answer in the next portion of this discussion.

[3] For example in Sūrah al-Ghāfir (30), verse 60 [and other places] we read:

أُدْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ

“Call upon Me, I will answer you.”

[4] Al-Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Fāṭir (35), verse 15

[5] For more details, refer to the book Questions and Answers by Shaykh Nāsir Makārim Shīrāzī, vol. 3, pg. 256

[6] Al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, Ṭabā’ṭabā’ī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn, vol. 18, pg. 385

[7] Ṭabā’ṭabā’ī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn, Al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, vol. 11, pg. 401

[8] Shīrāzī, Nāṣir Makārim, Tafsīr-e Namūna, vol. 7, pg. 358; Maʿārif Qur’ān, Miṣbāḥ Yazdī, pg. 106-114




Allāh and the Masculine Pronoun

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Question

Why does Allāh [God] use the masculine pronoun when referring to Himself in the Qur’ān? Why has the masculine pronoun taken precedence over the feminine pronoun?

Answer

The language of the Qur’ān is ʿArabic and contrary to some languages of the world, ʿArabic makes use of [only] the masculine and feminine pronoun and thus it is natural that if any book is to be written in this language, even if it is a book from the Divine, it must follow the rules of that language and must structure itself based on its conventions. Because of the fact that the ʿArabic language does not have a ‘neutral’ gender to be used as a pronoun, and because there are some things which are outside of the scope of gender, these are commonly referred to with the masculine pronoun in ʿArabic. One should note that there are examples of this in various other languages such as French.

Therefore, building upon this first point we reach the following initial conclusion that: Simply using the masculine pronoun does not denote masculine traits [to be associated with that thing]. In fact we can state that the Qur’ān does not present a world-outlook based on the recessive male-dominated culture prevailing at the time of its revelation — but rather, the use of the masculine pronoun is merely a feature of the language which the speaker [in this case, Allāh j] is bound to follow.

Therefore, due to the fact that the Qur’ān was revealed in ʿArabic, it speaks in the same manner [as the people would be speaking] and is fully compliant with the rules of ʿArabic grammar and has therefore used the pronouns and expressions of the masculine form when speaking about Allāh j.

In other words: From one point of view, in ʿArabic, nouns and verbs (with the exception of the first person singular and dual/plural) are of two types — masculine and feminine — and these two categories are further divided into two more categories – the ‘natural’ – ‘ḥaqīqī’ and ‘grammatical’ – ‘majāzī’.

Creations which have either the male or female reproductive organs are referred to as ‘natural masculine’ or ‘natural feminine’ and in other instances, they can be ‘grammatical masculine’ and ‘grammatical feminine’.

An example of a ‘natural masculine’ word would be ‘الرجل’ – al-rajulu – the man and ‘الجمل’ – al-jamalu – the male camel; and a ‘natural feminine’ example would be something like ‘إمرأة’ – imra’atu – female or ‘ناقة’ – naqatu – female camel.

In addition, an example of a ‘grammatical masculine’ word would be ‘القلم’ – al-qalamu – the pen and ‘الجدار’ – al-jidāru – the wall; while an example of a ‘grammatical feminine’ word would be ‘الدار’ – al-dāru – the home and ‘الغرفة’ – al-ghurfatu – the room.

Words which are used in the ‘grammatical feminine’ sense, for example, things like the names of cities, or parts of the body which are in pairs [hands, arms, feet, etc…] are done inductively and according to rules [of ʿArabic grammar], while in all other instances, there are no set rules to be followed. Rather, such words are built and used based on normal custom or usage [of the ʿArabs] – meaning that the only criterion for some words [to be of the grammatical masculine or feminine] can strictly be gained by listening to those who speak ʿArabic and how they use such words [in their daily conversation]. Therefore in this area, one must observe how the ʿArab speakers use a word [either in the masculine format or feminine format] and if something is not a ‘natural feminine’ or a ‘grammatical feminine’ nor is it a ‘natural masculine’, then in this case, the default is that it is referred to using the ‘grammatical masculine’.[1]

From another point of view, because of the fact that Allāh j neither procreates nor is He born and that there is absolutely nothing like Him[2] and in its analogical and practical application [of how the ʿArabs use such words] He (Allāh j) is also not a ‘grammatical feminine’, therefore based upon the agreed-upon rules of the ʿArabic language one must use pronouns, names and characteristics in the masculine [grammatical] pronoun for the exalted name of Allāh j,.

One must also pay attention to this important point that grammatical indications of feminine and masculine do not really carry any intrinsic value to them and definitely do not attest to any worthiness and distinction and therefore, if referring to something with a word which is of the masculine form was to denote some worthiness or excellence [to that thing] then it would not have been used for some non-human creations and some of the filthiest of creations in existence such as Shayṭān and Iblīs, etc… and should not be used for some verbs, names or pronouns.

In the same vein, if referring to something with a word which is of the feminine form carried any meaning of imperfection or of being worthless, then why would it be used for valuable things in creation such as the sun (الشمس – ash-shams), the Earth (الأرض – ash-ardh), men [plural] (ألرجال – al-rijāl), water (الماء – al-mā) and also for the best of actions and the best of places – things such as the prayers (الصلاة – as-alāt) or the charity (الزكاة – al-zakāt), paradise (الجنة – al-jannah), etc…[3]

[1] Ṣarf Sādeh, pg. 28 and 145

[2] Noble Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Tawḥīd (112), verse 3; Sūrah al-Shūrā (26), verse 11

[3] Āmulī, ʿAbdullāh Jawādī, Women in the Mirror of Glory and Beauty, pg. 78




Satan’s Maniacal Touch

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Question

What is the exegesis of verse 275 of Sūrah al-Baqarah in which the term “deranged lunatic” has been used, as God has stated:

]أَلَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَا لاَ يَقُومُونَ إِلاَّ كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِي يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَانُ مِنْ الْمَسِّ ذٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا وَأَحَلَّ اللهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا فَمَنْ جَآءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَانتَهىٰ فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلىٰ اللهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُوْلٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ[

Those who exact usury will not stand but like one deranged by the Devil’s touch. That is because they say, ‘Trade is just like usury.’ While God has allowed trade and forbidden usury. Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, relinquishes [usury], shall keep [the gains of] what is past, and his matter shall rest with God. As for those who resume, they shall be the inmates of the Fire and they shall remain in it [forever].[1]

Answer

In the Noble Qur’ān we read the following in regards to usury[2]:

]أَلَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَا لاَ يَقُومُونَ إِلاَّ كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِي يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَانُ مِنْ الْمَسِّ ذٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا وَأَحَلَّ اللهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا فَمَنْ جَآءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَانتَهىٰ فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلىٰ اللهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُوْلٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ[

Those who exact usury will not stand but like one deranged by the Devil’s touch. That is because they say, ‘Trade is just like usury.’ While God has allowed trade and forbidden usury. Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, relinquishes [usury], shall keep [the gains of] what is past, and his matter shall rest with God. As for those who resume, they shall be the inmates of the Fire and they shall remain in it [forever].[3]

A person who consumes usury will find that on the Day of Judgement, he will not be able to stand up and he will be like one who was touched by the effects of Satan and became deranged. As such, he will not be able to maintain his balance, and at times he will fall onto the ground and at other times, he will stand up right. This is due to the fact that such people used to say: “Trade is like usury (and there is no difference between these two things).”

To this, God has replied, “However, God Himself has made trade permissible (ḥalāl) and has made usury forbidden (ḥarām) – and there are a vast number of differences between these two things! If the advice from God reaches someone and they desist from consuming usury, then they should realize that the profits which were previously gained (before the revelation of the prohibition of usury) can be kept by that individual [as this ruling is not retroactive] and as such, their affairs rest with God alone [and He will forgive their previous actions]. However a person who returns back to this act (of taking usury and thus, continues on in this sin), will be considered as the inhabitants of the hell fire, and will reside in there forever.”

The meaning of “أكل” (to eat/consume) is the complete appropriation of something and also its entire depletion; the meaning of “ربا” (usury) is the act of taking more in return (for something given) or excessive wealth which is gained through usury.[4] The word “يتخبطه” comes from the root word “خبط” and refers to anomalous actions and being lopsided.[5] In this regards, there is a phrase, “خبط عشواء”, which refers to the irregular actions of a camel which has weak eyesight and due to this impediment in its vision, it walks around in an abnormal fashion. Sometimes it is seen standing up; at other times, it walks around aimlessly; later on, it returns back to its original place from where it started walking and during this entire time, it does not seem to be afraid of anything [and rightfully so as its vision is limited]. In addition, “خباط” refers to a state which a person finds himself in, which closely resembles one who is in a state of dementia, however the person is not actually in this state.[6]

If due to the infiltration of Satan, a person is thrown into a condition in which his actions are irregular and uncharacteristic, then it is said about him, “يتخبطه الشيطان من المـس” – “It is as if he has become deranged by the Devil’s touch.”

Allah, the most High has used this phrase only once in the entire Qur’ān – and that is in regards to the taker of usury as the actions and thoughts of a person who indulges in usurious transactions is like a crazed lunatic.[7]

The Relationship of this Verse to the Previous Verses

One of the longest collection of verses one central theme in the Qur’ān is in regards to spending of one’s wealth in charity and states the following:

]مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنْبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنْبُلَةٍ مِائَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَنْ يَشَآءُ وَاللهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ ۝    الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ ثُمَّ لاَ يُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُوا مَنًّا وَلاَ أَذًى لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ ۝    قَوْلٌ مَعْرُوفٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ يَتْبَعُهَا أَذًى وَاللهُ غَنِيٌّ حَلِيمٌ ۝    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لاَ تُبْطِلُوا صَدَقَاتِكُمْ بِالْمَنِّ وَالأَذَى كَالَّذِي يُنْفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَآءَ النَّاسِ وَلاَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ صَفْوَانٍ عَلَيْهِ تُرَابٌ فَأَصَابَهُ وَابِلٌ فَتَرَكَهُ صَلْدًا لاَ يَقْدِرُونَ عَلىٰ شَيْءٍ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا وَاللهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ ۝    وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمُ ابْتِغَآءَ مَرْضَاةِ اللهِ وَتَثْبِيتًا مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ كَمَثَلِ جَنَّةٍ بِرَبْوَةٍ أَصَابَهَا وَابِلٌ فَآتَتْ أُكُلَهَا ضِعْفَيْنِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يُصِبْهَا وَابِلٌ فَطَلٌّ وَاللهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ ۝    أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ تَكُونَ لَهُ جَنَّةٌ مِنْ نَخِيلٍ وَأَعْنَابٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ لَهُ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ وَأَصَابَهُ الْكِبَرُ وَلَهُ ذُرِّيَّةٌ ضُعَفَاءُ فَأَصَابَهَا إِعْصَارٌ فِيهِ نَارٌ فَاحْتَرَقَتْ كَذٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللهُ لَكُمْ الآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ ۝    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنفِقُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَكُمْ مِنَ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ تَيَمَّمُوا الْخَبِيثَ مِنْهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسْتُمْ بِآخِذِيهِ إِلاَّ أَنْ تُغْمِضُوا فِيهِ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ ۝    الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالْفَحْشَآءِ وَاللهُ يَعِدُكُمْ مَغْفِرَةً مِنْهُ وَفَضْلاً وَاللهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ ۝    يُؤْتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَنْ يَشَآءُ وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُوا الأَلْبَابِ ۝    وَمَا أَنفَقْتُمْ مِنْ نَفَقَةٍ أَوْ نَذَرْتُمْ مِنْ نَذْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللهَ يَعْلَمُهُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ ۝    إِنْ تُبْدُوا الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ وَإِنْ تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَآءَ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنْكُمْ مِنْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَاللهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ ۝    لَيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلٰكِنَّ اللهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَآءُ وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَآءَ وَجْهِ اللهِ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ ۝    لِلفُقَرَآءِ الَّذِينَ أُحْصِرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ لاَ يَسْتَطِيعُونَ ضَرْبًا فِي الأَرْضِ يَحْسَبُهُمْ الْجَاهِلُ أَغْنِيَآءَ مِنَ التَّعَفُّفِ تَعْرِفُهُمْ بِسِيمَاهُمْ لاَ يَسْأَلُونَ النَّاسَ إِلْحَافًا وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ ۝    الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ سِرًّا وَعَلاَنِيَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ[

The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of God is that of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. God enhances several fold whomsoever He wishes, and God is All-Bounteous, All-Knowing. Those who spend their wealth in the way of God and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve. An honourable word with pardon is better than charity followed by affront. God is All-Sufficient, Most Forbearing. O you who have faith! Do not render your charities void by reproaches and affronts, like those who spend their wealth to be seen by people and have no faith in God and the Last Day. Their parable is that of a rock covered with soil: a downpour strikes it, leaving it bare. They have no power over anything of what they have earned, and God does not guide the faithless lot. The parable of those who spend their wealth seeking God’s pleasure and to confirm themselves, is that of a garden on a hillside: the downpour strikes it, whereupon it brings forth its fruit twofold; and if it is not a downpour that strikes it, then a shower, and God sees best what you do. Would any of you like to have a garden of palm trees and vines, with streams running in it, with all kinds of fruit for him therein, and old age were to strike him while he has weakly offspring; whereupon a fiery hurricane were to hit it, whereat it lies burnt? Thus does God clarify His signs for you so that you may reflect. O you who have faith! Spend of the good things that you have earned, and of what We bring forth for you from the earth, and do not be of the mind set to give the bad part of it, for you yourselves would not take it, unless you overlook it. And know that God is All-Sufficient, All-Laudable. Satan frightens you of poverty and prompts you to [commit] indecent acts. But God promises you His forgiveness and grace, and God is All-Bounteous, All-Knowing. He gives wisdom to whomever He wishes, and he who is given wisdom, is certainly given an abundant good. But none takes admonition except those who possess intellect. Whatever charity you may give, or vow that you may vow, God indeed knows it, and the wrongdoers have no helpers. If you disclose your charities, that is well, but if you hide them and give them to the poor, that is better for you, and it will atone for some of your misdeeds, and God is well aware of what you do. It is not up to you to guide them; rather it is God who guides whomsoever He wishes. And whatever wealth you spend, it is for your own benefit, as you do not spend but to seek God’s pleasure, and whatever wealth you spend will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged. [The charities are] for the poor who are straitened in the way of God, not capable of moving about in the land [for trade]. The unaware suppose them to be well-off because of their reserve. You recognize them by their mark; they do not ask the people persistently. And whatever wealth you may spend, God indeed knows it. Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.[8]

This passage is then immediately followed up by seven verses in regards to usury:

]الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَا لاَ يَقُومُونَ إِلاَّ كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِي يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَانُ مِنَ الْمَسِّ ذٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا وَأَحَلَّ اللهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا فَمَنْ جَآءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَانتَهىٰ فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلىٰ اللهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُوْلٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ ۝    يَمْحَقُ اللهُ الرِّبَا وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَاتِ وَاللهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ كُلَّ كَفَّارٍ أَثِيمٍ ۝  إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلاَةَ وَآتَوْا الزَّكَاةَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ ۝  يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللهَ وَذَرُوا مَا بَقِيَ مِنَ الرِّبَا إِنْ كُنتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ ۝  فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا فَأْذَنُوا بِحَرْبٍ مِنْ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَإِنْ تُبْتُمْ فَلَكُمْ رُءُوسُ أَمْوَالِكُمْ لاَ تَظْلِمُونَ وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ ۝  وَإِنْ كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلىٰ مَيْسَرَةٍ وَأَنْ تَصَدَّقُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ۝  وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا تُرْجَعُونَ فِيهِ إِلىٰ اللهِ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ[

Those who exact usury will not stand but like one deranged by the Devil’s touch. That is because they say, ‘Trade is just like usury.’ While God has allowed trade and forbidden usury. Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, relinquishes [usury], shall keep [the gains of] what is past, and his matter shall rest with God. As for those who resume, they shall be the inmates of the Fire and they will remain in it [forever]. God brings usury to naught, but He makes charities flourish. God does not like any sinful ingrate. Indeed those who have faith, do righteous deeds, maintain the prayer and give the zakāt, they will have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve. O you who have faith! Be wary of God, and abandon [all claims to] what remains of usury, should you be faithful. And if you do not, then be informed of a war from God and His apostle. And if you repent, then you will have your principal, neither harming others, nor suffering harm. And if [the debtor] is in straits, let there be a respite until the time of ease; and if you remit [the debt] as charity, it will be better for you, should you know. And beware of a day in which you will be brought back to God. Then every soul will be recompensed fully for what it has earned, and they will not be wronged.”[9]

Seeing how these verses in regards to usury have come directly after the passage in regards to giving in charity, it can be stated that there is a close relationship between these two issues (usury and charity) – even though the relationship which exists between these two is that they are directly opposite to one another – just like the relationship which exists between monotheism (tawḥīd) and polytheism (shirk), or truth (ḥaqq) and falsehood (bāṭil). In regards to the verses which spoke about usury, we understand that in any way you cut it, usury is diametrically opposed to altruism and benevolence, and it is due to this that after mentioning the verses which are replete with grace, mercy and in which the believers are encouraged to act with generosity and compassion, through employing the strongest of terms ever seen; and through the most horrifying warnings which have been used in the Qur’ān, usury has been categorically outlawed and prohibited.[10]

Behaviour and Technique of the Maniacal Consumers of Usury

From the exclusion which has been mentioned in this verse which reads, “…لاَ یَقُومُونَ إِلَّا کَمَا یَقُومُ…” – “…will not stand but like one…” we understand that the one who consumes usury will never display logical behaviour and conduct in their life; and this is understood from the above portion of the verse because it does not say, “…their actions resemble a deranged individual…” in which case through such wordings we would realize that perhaps some of their actions would be carried out logically. Rather, the verse contains a statement of exclusion and states that the one who devours usury has absolutely no stand, but it like one who is deranged.[11]

Secret Behind the Term “Deranged” for Those who Consume Usury

The secret behind those who consume usury as being referred to as deranged individuals is that their method of thinking in regards to economic policy is unbalanced and unstable – meaning that in the opinion of such people, the only sound economic policy is one which is based on usury and that a usury-based fiscal system is the axiom and pivot of economics and that anything else, such as a trade-based economic policy is a corollary, but that it too resembles the usury-based system, just as they say, “…إِنَّـمَا البَیْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا…” – “…indeed trade-based economics is just like a usury-based system…”. This type of upended thought entirely blankets all of the characteristics and actions of one engaged in consuming usury and causes that individual to become deranged and unbalanced.

Therefore, the sentence which reads, “…إِنَّـمَا البَیْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا…” – “…indeed trade-based economics is just like a usury-based system…” is actually the language used by those who engage in usury-based transactions and is a direct similitude that they try to employ and a form of contention which they use when confronted by others to which, as is seen, they reply that, “If usury is so bad, then you should realize that trading and business which all of you engage in is just like usury, and thus it must also be bad!” However, in reality, this sort of argument is entirely baseless.[12]

The Influence of the Jinn in Becoming Mentally Unbalanced

The meaning of Satan (شیطان) in the phrase, “…یَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّیْطَانُ مِنَ الـمَسِّ…” – “…like one deranged by the Devil’s touch…” is either a general concept of “any type of evil” of which the most clear instance with Satan (Iblīs) himself, and the other Jinn and also human beings [who display satanic qualities within themselves]; or it may refer to Satan himself who is from the category of the Jinn.[13]

In any case, from this verse we understand that Satan definitely has a role to play in some individuals who are mentally unstable; even though Satan himself may not be able to directly bring them into this state; rather, it is through “natural means”, the state of neurosis[14] or some other sort of mental illness which are the immediate causes of this form of madness. It is during this period of turmoil which a person goes through that Satan becomes one of the instruments in this phase. This is similar to our understanding of other types of illnesses and as we know that what is referred to in the ʿArabic as a “ضُرّ” – or “sickness” manifests itself in a human’s body through natural ways and means, however it is Satan to whom such things are associated with. In the Qur’ān, we read passages such as: “أَنِّي مَسَّنِی الشَّیطانُ بِنُصبٍ وَ عَذَاب” – “‘The devil has visited on me hardship and torment,”[15] or “أَنِّي مَسَّنِي الضُّرُّ وَ أَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِینَ” – “‘Indeed distress has befallen me, and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful ones.”[16] Therefore, natural reasons which may exist to explain why a person goes mad does not detract from the effect which Satan has on the mental state of a person.[17]

“Commerce” – the Problem Solver … “Interest” – the Problem Maker

After the Noble Qur’ān relates the words of those who consume usury and tried to justify that commerce is merely a branch of usury, [and it is clear that they did not even pay attention] to their own convoluted statements, God, the Gracious, clearly proclaims that the One who is the ruler over all ontological (takwinī) and legislational (tashrīʿī) issues in the universe and beyond – has clearly defined commerce and such transactions as being permissible (ḥalāl), and has demarcated usury as being impermissible (ḥarām) where He says, “وَ أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ البَیْعَ وَ حَرَّمَ الرِّبَا” – “While God has allowed trade and forbidden usury.”

Commerce and trading are permissible forms of business and are a solvent to many types of difficulties and an opener for core nodes of economic policy; however usury is prohibited and is a snarl and is something which ends up depriving people from making acceptable utilization of their wealth. Thus, the benefits of business and commerce, and the dishonesty which lies in usury – end up determining the permissibility of the first, while prohibiting the second.

A Legislated and Delegated Ruling in Regards to Wealth Acquired through Usury-Based Transactions

In the initial stages of the faith of Islam, before the revelation of the rulings concerning usury had come down to Prophet Muḥammad 7, there were a group of Muslims who used to indulge in usury-based transactions, and when the revelation of the verse in regards to usury came down and mentioned “فَلَهُ مَاسَلَفَ” – “they shall keep [the gains of] what is past”, it was made clear to them that any punishment which those Muslims who used to consume usury may have been liable for, was canceled.

After the revelation of the ruling (of the prohibition of usury), those non-Muslims who used to engage in the practice of usury and lived under the Islamic government, were also obligated to follow the juristic rulings of Islam and such laws were unconditionally applicable upon them as well.

However when they accepted the faith of Islam, they were included in the juristic principle which states, “أَلْإِسْلاَمُ یَجُبُّ مَا قَبْلَهُ” – “Islam wipes out all [of the actions] which came before” (meaning that when a person comes into the religion of Islam, all of his/her past sins are removed from their record and they start off with a clean slate).[18] Through this, the next ruling of “فَلَهُ مَاسَلَفَ” – “they shall keep [the gains of] what is past” became applicable upon them.

Based on this understanding of the verse, and by accepting the flawless religion of Islam, the one who leaves his previous traditions and accepts this faith – a grace and boon is conferred upon the individual such that all of their previous violations (of the laws of God) are removed from their record of deeds.

However we must note that after the religious rulings have been laid down or after accepting the religion of Islam, them no one is permitted to demand any outstanding payments of usury which remain unpaid and they are not allowed to pursue or collect such usurious amounts from the debtor. Rather, it was only the wealth which a person had in their hands when the ruling came down that they were the owners of; just like we read in the Noble Qur’ān that, “O you who have faith! Be aware of God, and abandon [all claims to] what remains of usury, should you be faithful.”[19]

However, the ruling which states “فَلَهُ مَاسَلَفَ” – “they shall keep [the gains of] what is past” was not applicable upon the Muslims – rather, it was verses such as, “وَ لاَ تَأْکُلُوا أَمْوَالَکُمْ بَیْنَکُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ” – “Do not eat up your wealth among yourselves wrongfully”[20] which was applicable upon the Muslims, and as such they were indebted to pay back to the debtor any amount that was collected from a usurious transactions and whatever amounts were left owing were considered null and void – even if they turned back to Allāh i (they would still need to repay previous amounts taken).

Thus in summary, the legislated ruling in regards to wealth which was accumulated through usurious transactions which were carried out by non-Muslims in the past, states that such wealth accumulated through usury was their property to keep, however their delegated responsibility, meaning the relationship between that individual with God was that of “وَ أَمْرُهُ إِلَی اللَّهِ” – “and his matter shall rest with God” – and as such, it is possible that on the Day of Judgement such a person shall be forgiven.[21]

Equal Punishment for Those who Insist on Consuming Usury and Those who Returned to Usurious Transactions

There is a portion of the verse which reads, “وَ مَنْ عَادَ فَأُولَئِکَ أَصْحْابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِیهَا خَالِدُونَ” – “As for those who resume, they shall be the inmates of the Fire and they shall remain in it [forever].” This segment of the verse does not refer to those individuals who initially used to engage in usurious activities and then stopped and repented and then returned back to their ways; rather, this verse refers to those people who, after the conveyance of the message of the prohibition of usury, continued to consume usury and continued in their ways and by way of this warning, such individuals were confirmed to be people of the hell-fire and would reside in there for perpetuity.

The understanding of this verse is based upon the word “عَادَ” which is used in contrast to the word “فَانْتَهَی” which means to desist – in this case, desisting from consuming usury. The word “عَادَ”, refers to one who does not desist from a specific act, and rather persists in performing that action. Thus, the word “عود” means to continue, persist and to develop a habit of performing a particular action – in this case, of consuming usury.

In summary we can state that the ruling of those who will remain within the fires of hell for eternity is reserved for those individuals who after the conveyance of the verse of usury being forbidden, continued in their old ways and manners of consuming usury and did not step; but it does not refer to those individuals who used to consume usury and then stopped and then polluted themselves by starting to take it again.[22]

Therefore, after a person accepts the religion of Islam, or at the time of the issuance of the ruling prohibiting usury, anyone insisting on devouring usury which was owed to them in the past or returning back to usury-based transactions after they had turned back to Allāh i (tawbah) would result in that person being relegated to the hell-fire for perpetuity. This is because of the fact that a person who does not accept the prohibition of usury – both within one’s heart and also in one’s actions – has actually denied one of the necessities of the religion and such an action actually leads to apostasy (irtidād) and drifting into disbelief (kufr). As we know, the belligerent disbelievers and those who have apostatized from the religion are individuals who will burn in the fires of hell for eternity. However individuals who, in their heart, are firmly convinced of the prohibition of all forms of usury-based transactions and consider this to be one of the Divinely-resplendent rulings of the faith of Islam, however in their practical actions, continue to engage in usury-based transactions, will not be relegated to a life in hell for perpetuity, and thus the meaning of ‘permanency’ for such individuals actually means a protracted period of time.[23]

In summary, a person’s mere performance of a major sin will not result in one being relegated to the hell-fire forever; rather, the execution of a major sin, in addition to it being an act of willful and open disobedience, obstinacy, conceited abscondance, and haughty denial of a necessity of the religion, will lead a person to perpetual residence in the fires of hell.

The secret behind the warning to those who consume usury that they will reside in the hell-fire forever is that many of those who persist in the act of consuming usury do not really have any heart-felt commitment to the teachings of the Divine, and thus the usage of usury stems from an inner disbelief. Thus, their warning of being relegated to the fire of hell is due to their inner disbelief and not merely their performance of a major sin.[24]

[1] Quran, Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), verse 275

[2] Wikipedia defines usury as the following: “Usury is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans intended to unfairly enrich the lender. A loan may be considered usurious because of excessive or abusive interest rates or other factors, but according to some dictionaries, simply charging any interest at all can be considered usury. Someone who charges usury can be called a usurer, but the more common term in English is loan shark.

The term may be used in a moral sense—condemning taking advantage of others’ misfortunes—or in a legal sense where interest rates may be regulated by the law.

Historically, some cultures (e.g., Christianity in much of Medieval Europe, and Islam in many parts of the world today) have regarded charging any interest for loans as sinful. Some of the earliest known condemnations of usury come from the Vedic texts of India. Similar condemnations are found in religious texts from Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (the term is riba in Arabic and ribbit in Hebrew).

At times, many nations from ancient China to ancient Greece to ancient Rome have outlawed loans with any interest. Though the Roman Empire eventually allowed loans with carefully restricted interest rates, the Christian church in medieval Europe banned the charging of interest at any rate (as well as charging a fee for the use of money, such as at a bureau de change).

Usury is forbidden in the Jewish scriptures known as the Torah, and other books of the Tanakh, also held by Christians to be a scripture and part of the Old Testament.

From the Jewish Publication Society’s 1917 Tanakh, with Christian verse numbers in parentheses:

  1. Exodus 22:24 (25)—If thou lend money to any of My people, even to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shall ye lay upon him interest.
  2. Leviticus 25:36— Take thou no interest of him or increase; but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
  3. Leviticus 25:37— Thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest, nor give him thy victuals for increase.
  4. Deuteronomy 23:20 (19)—Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother: interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of any thing that is lent upon interest.
  5. Deuteronomy 23:21 (20)—Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thy hand unto, in the land whither thou goest in to possess it.
  6. Ezekiel 18:17—that hath withdrawn his hand from the poor, that hath not received interest nor increase, hath executed Mine ordinances, hath walked in My statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
  7. Psalm 15:5—He that putteth not out his money on interest, nor taketh a bribe against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

The New Testament contains references to usury, notably in the Parable of the talents:

  1. “Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest…”—Matthew 25:27
  2. “…Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow. Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?”—Luke 19:22-23

The following scriptures teach about lending:

  1. “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”—Matthew 5:42
  2. “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”—Luke 6:34-35
  3. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”—Luke 6:38

[3] Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), verse 275

[4] Refer to Asadī Kādhimī, Jawād ibne Saʿd, Masālik al-Afhām ilā Āyāt al-Aḥkām, vol. 3, pg. 38, Tehran, Murtaḍawī, Printed in 1969; Jawadī Amulī, ʿAbdullāh, Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 519, Qum, Isrā’, 2nd edition, printed in 2009.

[5] Ṭabā’ṭabā’ī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn, Al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, vol. 2, pg. 410, Qum, Daftar Nashr Islāmī, 5th edition, printed in 1998; Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 521.

[6] Jawharī, Ismāʿīl ibn Ḥammād, Al-Ṣiḥāḥ (Tāj al-Lughat wa Ṣiḥāh al-ʿArabiyyah), researched and edited by Aḥmad ʿAbdul Ghafūr ʿAṭṭār, vol. 3, pg. 1121-1122, Beirut, Dar al-ʿIlm lil Malāyīn, 1st edition, printed in 1990.

[7] Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 522

[8] Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), verses 261 to 274

[9] Quran, Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), verse 275 to 281

[10] Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 522; Al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, vol. 2, pg. 408-409

[11] Ibid., pg. 525

[12] Ibid., pg. 526

[13] Al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Quran, vol. 2, pg. 412; Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 527; Mufradāt alfādh al-Qur’ān, pg. 545; Abū ʿUbaydah, Muʿamr ibne Muthannā, Mujāz al-Qur’ān, researched by Muḥammad Fuwād, vol. 1, pg. 83, Egypt, Maktabat al-Khānjī, Published in 1962

[14] Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress, but not delusions or hallucinations, whereby behaviour is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic. (Tr.)

[15] Qur’ān, Sūrah Swad (38), verse 41

[16] Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Anbiyā (21), verse 83

[17] Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 527

[18] Mūsawī Bujnūrdī, Sayyid Ḥasan, al-Qawāʿid al-Fiqhiyyah, researched and corrected by Mehrīzī, Mahdī, Dirāyatī, Muḥammad Ḥusayn, vol. 1, pg. 45-56; Qum, Al-Hadī Publishers, 1st edition, published in 1999.

[19] Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), verse 278

[20] Qur’ān, Sūrah al-Baqarah (2), verse 188

[21] Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 534-536; Al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, vol. 2, pg. 416-417

[22] Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 537; Balāghī Najafī, Muḥammad Jawād, Alā’ al-Raḥmān fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān, vol. 1, pg. 245, Qum, Bunyād Biʿthat, 1st edition, published in 2000.

[23] Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 538; Al-Mizān fī Tafsīr Qur’ān, vol. 2, pg. 418; Fakhr al-Rāzī, Muḥammad ibne ʿUmar, Mafātīḥ al-Ghayb, vol. 7, pg. 79-80, Beirut, Dar Aḥyā’ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 3rd printing, published in 2000.

[24] Tasnīm, vol. 12, pg. 538




The Children of Satan

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Question

Did Satan have a child who was martyred in the Battle of Ṣiffīn fighting alongside the Commander of the Faithful ʿAlī? If he did, please explain this event, and cite the textual sources from where the narration comes from.

Answer

From some of the traditions (aḥādīth) we come to the conclusion that a majority of the Devils from among the Jinn are actually the biological children of Iblīs; and from those children of his – only one of them accepted true faith (in religion) and that was Hām ibne Haym ibne Lāqīs ibne Iblīs [هام بن هیم بن لاقیس بن ابلیس].[1] The acceptance of true faith of this individual has been mentioned in both the Shīʿa and also the Ahl as-Sunnah sources.

It has been mentioned in many traditions, with slight variations in them[2] in regards to an event which transpired with Hām ibne Haym ibne Lāqīs ibne Iblīs. In one source that relates to the discussion at hand, specifically in regards to the exegesis of the verse of the Qur’ān which states: وَ الْجَانَّ خَلَقْناهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ مِنْ نارِ السَّمُوم [whose translation is], “And as for the Jinn, We created them before [the creation of the human being] from a smoke-less fire”[3], the following incident has been narrated through a chain of narrators.

Imām as-Ṣādiq said, “The Messenger of God, prayers of Allāh be upon him and his family, saw an individual standing on the mountain of Tihāmah[4], with a long staff, whose length was that of a date tree, in his hand.” The Prophet [upon hearing a noise] said, “This is the sound of a Jinn.”

The Jinn replied, “I am Hām ibne Haym ibne Lāqīs ibne Iblīs.”

The Prophet asked him, “Are there two generations separating you from Iblīs (Satan)?”

The Jinn replied, “Yes.”

The Prophet then asked him, “Tell me a little about what you have seen.”

The Jinn replied, “I have spent a lot of my time in idleness, except for a small portion of my life. I have been around since the days when Cain (Qābīl) killed [his brother] Abel (Hābīl). [When that event transpired] I had the ability to speak out and say something, however at that time in my life, I did not have a firm grasp to the rope of Allāh, and as such [when I saw this act take place], I ended up roaming around in the groves, going through the hills and began to invite people to sever all ties with their close family members and encouraged people to consume impermissible wealth.”

The Prophet then asked, “What a disastrous path to choose in your life! [This is the] way an elderly person who in his old age, sits and reflects [on how he spent his life], and the ways of a youth who in his adolescence, spends his days and nights drowned in yearnings and aspirations [but does not work to attain them].”

The Jinn then said, “However, I have repented [to Allāh]. I actually rebuked Noah during the time when I was on his ark, and he made supplication against his own nation. At that time, Prophet Noah also advised me to seek forgiveness. After him, I was with [Prophet] Hūd and along with him was someone else who had believed in him and his message. I was in the masjid with him and witnessed him make supplication against his own nation and I also rebuked him. I was also alongside Ilyās in the sandy desert. Similarly, I was with Ibrāhīm when his people began to deceive him and prepared to throw him into the fire [that they had kindled]. I was between the catapult and the fire at that particular time when Allāh made the fire cool and a means of comfort for him. After this, I was alongside Yūsuf when out of sheer jealousy; his brothers threw him into the well. I delivered him into the depths of the well and gave him food and interacted with him as a friend would do [with another friend]. After this, I was his close and cherished friend while he was in prison, until the time that Allāh granted him freedom from there. After this, I was alongside Mūsā and he even taught me a portion of the Torah and said to me, ‘If you live until the time of Prophet ʿIsā, then convey my regards to him.’” I also met ʿIsā and as requested, I conveyed Mūsā’s regards to him and remained with him for some time until he taught me portions of the Evangel and said to me, ‘If you live until the time of Prophet Muḥammad then convey my regards to him.’ So then, O Messenger of Allāh! I am conveying the regards of Prophet ʿIsā to you!”

The Messenger of Allāh then said, “Peace be upon ʿIsā, the Spirit of Allāh (Rūḥullāh) and His Word, from that day that he ascended into the events until the day he returns back to the Earth, and also upon you be peace, O Hām, who has conveyed the salutations from all of those previous individuals. If you have anything you wish to ask from me, then go ahead and ask.”

Hām then said, “My own wish and desire is that Allāh protects you for your nation and that they (your nation) becomes virtuous, worthy and righteous and that they are granted fortitude to stand firm so that they are able to stay strong and determined alongside your successor, as the previous nations were destroyed due to their turning away from their Divinely appointed successors. My only longing is that, O Messenger of Allāh, you teach me a chapter of the Qur’ān which I may recite in my ṣalāt.”

The Messenger of God turned towards Imām ʿAlī, peace be upon him, and said, “Teach Hām (a chapter of the Qur’ān)and be compassionate with him.”

At this point, Hām said, “O Messenger of God! Who is this person whom you are entrusting me [to teach me the Qur’ān]? We the assembly of the Jinn are not permitted to follow anyone other than a prophet or his Divinely appointed successor.”

The Prophet of God replied, “O Hām! Whom did you find in The Book, to be the successor of Adam?”

Hām replied, “Sheeth.”

The Prophet then asked, “And the successor of Noah?”

Hām replied, “Sām.”

The Prophet asked, “And the successor of Hūd?”

Hām replied, “Yūḥnā ibne Ḥannān – his cousin.”

The Prophet continued and asked, “And the successor of Ibrāhīm?” Hām replied, “Ismā’īl and his successor was Isḥāq.”

The Prophet asked, “And the successor of Mūsā?”

Hām replied, “Yūsha the son of Nūn.”

Then the Prophet asked, “And the successor of ʿIsā?”

Hām replied, “Shimon the son of Ḥamūn Ṣafā – the cousin of lady Mariam.”

The Prophet then asked him, “How do you know that these were the rightful successors of the prophets?”

Hām replied, “As they were the most ascetic people in the world during their era and the most desirous of attaining the next world.”

The Prophet then said, “In The Book, who did you find to be the successor to Muḥammad?”

Hām replied, “In the Torah, I found his name to be Ilyāst.”

The Prophet then told him, “This Ilyāst whom you refer to is ʿAlī – my successor and my brother. He is the most ascetic of people in the temporal world and the most desirous of meeting Allāh and attaining the next world.”

Hām conveyed his regards to ʿAlī and said, “O Messenger of God! Does he [ʿAlī] have any other name [that he is known by]?”

The Messenger replied, “Yes, he is also known as Ḥaydar.”

After this, ʿAlī proceeded to teach Hām various chapters of the Qur’ān.

Hām then said, “O’ ʿAlī! O successor to Muḥammad! Is this what you have taught me from the Qur’ān sufficient for me [to use] in my ṣalāt?”

Imām ʿAlī replied, “Yes, [know that] even a little bit of the Qur’ān is abundant.”

In addition to this event, there is another time that Hām came to the Messenger of God greeted him, and bade him farewell and then returned back to where he had come from, and after this he never again saw the Noble Prophet until the Prophet left this world.[5]

In other traditions, the above mentioned event continues and mentions that on the evening known as Laylatul Harīr (the night when the Prophet made his migration from Mecca to Medina), Hām came to Imām ʿAlī B[6] and in yet other traditions, it has been stated that he fought alongside the army of Imām ʿAlī and was martyred in the battle.[7]

As for the chain of narrators of this tradition, the report which is contained in the book Baṣā’ir al-darajāt fī faḍāil āl Muḥammad[8], contains the most complete chain and it is as follows: Ibrāhīm ibne Hāshim, Ibrāhīm ibne Isḥāq, ʿAbdullāh ibne Ḥammād, and ʿUmrū ibne Yazīd Bayyāʿ al-Sābirī, all of whom have been regarded as reliable and trustworthy and some of them are even considered as being highly respectable and reliable individuals.

From another aspect, the text and content of this tradition does not hold any theological problems and it does not go against the sources and foundations of the Shīʿa creed.

In addition, generally speaking, we know that the Jinn can sometimes play a role in the life of the human being; and there are some humans who can also affect the life of the Jinn; and according to other traditions which have been narrated, they (the Jinn) were in contact with the Prophets and the A’immah – and this was but one such example.

Thus, the Jinn are able to be contact with some human beings just as we have seen in this tradition.

We also see that Hām ibne Haym ibne Lāqīs ibne Iblīs – who was one of the Jinn and was from the off-spring of Satan – had repented (to Allāh) through the intervention and assistance of Prophet Noah and eventually met the Noble Prophet and Imām ʿAlī and was in touch with them.[9]

In a tradition from the Noble Prophet it has been narrated that Hām ibne Haym ibne Lāqīs ibne Iblīs will be one of the inhabitants of Paradise.[10]

[1] Al-Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir, Ḥayāt al-qulūb, vol. 3, pg. 635, Surūr Publications, Qum, Iran, 6th edition

[2] Ibne Ashʿath, Muḥammad ibnee Muḥammad, al-Jaʿfariyāt (al-Ashʿaththiyat), pg. 175 & 176, Maktabat al-naynawā al-ḥadīthiyyah, Tehran, Iran, 1st edition; al-Bayhaqī, Abū Bakr Aḥmad ibne Ḥusayn, Dalā’il al-nubuwwah wa maʿrifat aḥwāl ṣāḥib al-sharīʿat, researched by ʿAbdūl Muʿṭī al-Qalaʿchī, vol. 5, pg. 418 – 420, Dar al-kutub al-ʿilmiyyah, Beirut, 1st Edition; al-ʿAsqalānī, Aḥmad ibne ʿAlī ibne Ḥajr, al-Iṣābat fī tamīz al-ṣaḥābah, researched by ʿAbdul Mawjūd, ʿĀdil Aḥmad, Muʿawiḍ and ʿAlī Muḥammad, vol. 6, pg. 408, Dar al-kutub al-ʿilmiyyah, Beirut, 1st edition

[3] Sūratul Ḥijr, verse 27. Refer to ʿAlī ibne Ibrāhīm Al-Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, researched and edited by Mūsawī Jazā’irī, and Ṭīb, vol. 1, pg. 375, Dar al-kitāb, Qum, 3rd edition; Muḥammad ibne ʿAlī Sharīf Lāhijī, Tafsīr Sharīf Lāhijī, researched by Muḥaddith Mīr Jalāl al-Dīn Armawī Ḥusaynī, vol. 2, pg. 667-668, Dād Publishing House, Tehran, Iran, 1st edition.

[4] In Dehkhuda Dictionary it is mentioned Tihāmah is the flat coastal plain region which stretches from its northern tip of the Sinai Peninsula all the way down to the southern area of Yemen and covers the cities of Mecca, Najran, Jeddah, and Ṣafā, and it is for this reason that the Grand city of Mecca is also referred to as Tihāmah. There were many different tribes which inhabited this region in the pre-Islamic days and this area also contained many mountains and as such, this locality is also well-known by the name of the Mounts of Tihāmah. Also refer to Muḥammad ibne ʿAbdul Munʿim al-Ḥumayrī, Al-Rawḍ al-maʿṭār fī khabar al-aqṭār, pg. 141, Maktabat Lubnān, Beirut, 2nd Edition; Shihāb al-Dīn Abū ʿAbdullāh Yāqūt al-Ḥumayrī, Muʿjam al-buldān, vol. 2, pg. 63-64, Dar Ṣādir, Beirut, 2nd print

[5] Al-Ṣaffār, Muḥammad b. Ḥasan, Baṣā’ir al-darajāt fī faḍāil āl Muḥammad; Researched and Corrected by Muḥsin ibne ʿAbbās ʿAlī Kuchebāghī, vol. 1, pg. 98&99, Published by the Ayatullah Marʿashi Najafī Library, Qum, 2nd Printing; Quṭb al-Dīn al-Rāwandī, al-Kharā’ij wa al-Jarā’iḥ, vol. 2, pg. 856-858, Imam al-Mahdi Publishers, Qum, 1st Print

[6] Tafsīr al-qummī, vol. 1, pg. 376; al-Kharā’ij wa al-Jarā’iḥ, vol. 2, pg. 858; Abū al-Faḍl ibn Jibra’īl ibn Shādhān al-Qummī, al-Rawḍah fī faḍhāil Amīr al-Mo’minīn ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib, peace be upon him; Researched and Corrected by ʿAlī Shikarchī, pg. 223, al-Amīn Publications, Qum, 1st print; Muḥammad ibn Shāh Murtaḍā Faiḍh al-Kāshānī, Tafsīr al-Ṣāfī, Researched and Corrected by Ḥusayn Aʿlamī, vol. 3, pg. 107, as-Ṣadr Publications, Tehran, 2nd edition, ʿAbdul ʿAlī ibn Jumʿah al-ʿUrūsī al-Ḥuwayzī, Tafsīr Nūr ath-Thaqalayn, Researched and Corrected by Hāshim Rasūlī Maḥalātī, vol. 3, pg. 8, Ismāʿīliyān Publications, Qum, 4th Edition

[7] al-Rawḍah fī faḍhāil Amīr al-Mo’minīn ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib, peace be upon him, pg. 223

[8] This book was written by Muḥammad b. Ḥasan Al-Ṣaffār (d. 290h) and was one of the Shīʿa Imāmiyyah scholars and a companion of Imām Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī, peace be upon him, and this work was written to give an overview of the A’immah and the specialities of each of the Imams.

[9] For further details on this, please see Iʿdād Walī Zārbin Shāhzāldīn, al-Jinn fī al-kitāb wa al-sunnah, Dār al-bashā’ir al-islāmiyyah, Beirut, First Edition; ʿAbdul Amīr ʿAlī Mahannā, al-Jinn fī al-kitāb wa al-sunnah, al-Aʿlamī Publishers, Beirut, First Edition, ʿAbdul Raḥmān Muḥammad al-Rifāʿī, al-Jinn bayna al-ishārāt al-qurāniyyah wa ʿilm al-fīzīyā’, Marbūsī al-ṣaghīr Publishers, First Edition; ʿAlī Riḍā Rijālī Tihrānī, Jinn wa Shaytān, Nubugh Publishers; Abū ʿAlī Khodakaramī, Stories about the Jinn

[10] al-Jaʿfariyāt (al-Ashʿaththiyat), pg. 176; al-Iṣābah fī tamīz al-ṣāḥabah, vol. 6, pg. 408