Translated by: Manal Samhat
Some people might wonder: for what reason is this insistence on commemorating certain religious occasions and focusing on particular Islamic figures?
Others might wonder: in our present life that is full of events and always heading towards what is new, is not there anything that might trigger man's attention and curiosity sparing us from looking for thoughts in the deep history?
Why is all that?
Is it the issue of traditions that impose on us expressing the feelings and emotions of sanctity in traditional celebrations that we exercise just as we exercise our daily customs, earning nothing but what the man who daydreams earns?!
Another party might wonder: why do we stick to the past while life is on the go and everyday, man creates a new history, be it tragic or happy, victorious or defeating. Do we need to return to the past while the present always brings about all what is new and makes us preoccupied with the challenges hitting us resulting in the tremble of the land beneath our feet? Do we return to the past to forget the present?
It is up to us to answer these confused and skeptical inquiries:
1- History, with its manifest elements and live examples and wonderful images, represents our roots that ought to be preserved, deepened, and authenticated on the basis of right and justice; because a rootless nation could be easily uprooted by the lightest wind and it would not be steadfast, neither amidst the clash of civilizations, nor in the course of their dialogue and understanding.
2- It is not a matter of fixed traditions or deep rooted customs, nor an issue of expressing a vague feeling of the sanctity of the past and history, but rather it is our issue, the issue of the 20th century generation who has let go of its idols and preoccupied itself with the stars of action, thriller, and romantic movies, imitating them in everything and following their lead after letting go of all its values and replacing them with a hysterical kind of worship.
It is the cause of a generation who has lost its role model, because the nature of the materialistic life that we are going through, with all its cruelty, ingratitude and deprivation, no more embraces this generation with a spiritual leadership that guides the soul and enlightens the heart and the conscience.
It is our cause, we who have missed the exemplar of complete humanity in our contemporary reality, so we went back to history trying to find our role model in which man's spirituality is embodied, as well as the angels' purity. Moreover, the sincerest meanings of belief, the noblest sacrifice stances, and the most supreme human values that embody all life's purity and brightness are represented in this role model's internal and external life.
Thus, we return to our historic religious leaders, and experience a deep feeling that we have to take them as role models for our Islamic personality which they represented in the best way.
Therefore, our need for a role model to look up to and follow his lead and be enlightened by his thoughts met with purest Members of the House (a.s.) rendering their life an example for us; an example that handles our reality with the right and protects it with the soul and strengthens it with devotion.
3- Going back to history does not mean that we freeze in it or live in the past, because, throughout history, there are certain stages that have no past, no present, and no future. Moreover, they are stages of truth, value, right, and justice that have no determined age in time; but rather they are the entire time and life, for the right gives time its sense and it is not time that gives the right its history, since the right could not be fixed in a certain time.
We go deep through history because we have in this history more than one value; one that elevates the soul making man feel that he has a free soul that experiences nothing of the material defects and flaws, and we also have in history a path that we ought to follow, and a message, a messenger, Imams and live models; i.e. the Members of the House whom Allah has kept away the uncleanness from and purified a (thorough) purifying.
Actually, we sanctify the Members of the House and glorify their personalities because we believe they are the role models of mankind as a whole and the persistent value that provides the entire life with life and spirit and fills it with every noble meaning and high morals.
Throughout their life, they did not act on the basis of their blood relation with the greatest Messenger (p.), even if this relation represents a noble dignity pertaining to the lineage and nature of inheritance, but rather they act based on their authentic reality which embodies all the meanings of the Message and the features of the Messenger (p.).
They do not want us to love them and be convinced of their role and position without following their path and abiding by their teachings, but rather they want us to work for the sake of establishing Islam's highest goals and noblest objectives.
Therefore, insisting on celebrating their memories represents a conscious insistence on retrieving the values they represented and the live meanings they carried, as well as their pure sanctity that is free from any kind of desecration that might defame humanity's image and infect its conscience; just as Allah wanted them to be, and they were as He wanted: "Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying." (33:33).
Our story with them is not merely based on a heartbeat and a certain feeling, but rather it is a story of a message and of people who represent all the truth, purity, and righteousness. As the aforementioned Ayah designates, there is not any intellectual defect i.e. falsehood, in their personality, or any movement defect i.e. oppression, or any kind of deviation i.e. unbelief, deception, obscenity, and rebellion against Allah… They resemble the pure thought in the sense that no falsehood or wrong would approach their thought, because falsehood is uncleanliness and the wrong embodies some sort of filthiness; and they personify the soul's purity, because they have reached a stage where they have known Allah to the extent that we can say they hover with Allah: "Even if the screen had been uncovered to me, I would not have been more certain." They love Him in a way that makes them suffer upon even thinking of parting Him: "Then suppose my Master and my Lord and my God I had patient with Your torture then how shall I be patient for being away from You? And suppose I stood the heat of Your hell, then how shall I be patient for not looking at Your generosity?"
This is an invocation of Imam Ali (a.s.) who deeply loved Allah to the extent that he had no problem with Hell except that the one who would enter it would become away from Allah. Imam Ali's entire life was centered on one word "Allah". Moreover, his love to the Allah's Messenger (p.) was not because he was his relative or cousin, but rather because he was the Messenger of Allah so he used to come to him (p.) to learn what Allah has taught His Messenger, and to devour His Message that he had sent to him (p.). Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (p.) raised him, since his early childhood, to be one who is similar to him (p.) in his soul, movement, and conduct, for Allah says: "Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars." (03:61). The Messenger (p.) also taught him (a.s.) what Allah has taught him, for Imam Ali (a.s.) says: "The Messenger of Allah taught me about one thousand [doors] of knowledge, each one of which opens one thousand more doors." Imam Ali (a.s.) has dedicated his soul to Allah, that Allah revealed the following Ayah about him: "And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is Affectionate to the servants." (02:207).
This is the life of the pure Members of the House (a.s.) who lived with Allah, and for the sake of Allah, which made them act away from their personal greeds and live the entire Message in their thought, movement and dreams… rendering each one of them a Holy Book that moves in life itself.
Therefore, we return to their history because we want them to visit us in our present and not because we want to visit them in the past, since they do not represent the past. They did exist in the past, but they represent life's secret, so we need them to visit us, for we are in a dire need for their words, advice, and stands, so as to abide by and follow their path and be among those who love them and are truly and honestly devoted to them.
Loving the leaders and those who carry divine messages is not affection, but rather a stand, and this is the difference between being the lover and being the one who takes a stand; since the Wilaya (believing in the Imams as leaders and masters) is a stand and love is affection. It is natural that the stand experiences affection and live within it; however, the stand surpasses it because it opens up to the entire message by opening up to those who carry the message and represent legitimacy.
Yes, the value of what the Members of the House (a.s.) say and do lies in the fact that their sayings and acts represent the entire legitimacy, because if man abides by and follows a path that could be right or wrong, he would remain confused about the legitimacy of what he had seen or heard. However, if he relies on infallible models whom Allah had kept the uncleanliness away from and purified a thorough purifying, he would be relying on models who do not experience any falsehood in their thoughts and any oppression in their acts. Therefore, he would have received the truth from the pure spring that nothing could disturb its purity. Imam As-Sadiq (a.s.) says: "My tradition – all his traditions, including his concepts, ideas, and jurisprudence – is the tradition of my father, and my father's is that of my grandfather, and my grandfather's is that of Al-Hussein, and Al-Hussein's is that of Al-Hassan, and Al-Hassan's is that of the Commander of the Faithful, and the Commander of the Faithful's is that of the Messenger of Allah, and the Messenger of Allah's is the word of Allah, the Great and Almighty."
A famous poet once said:
Follow people who say our grandfather quoted Gabriel who quoted Allah
Source: An exercpt of the book "Az-Zahra' Al-Kodwa" (Az-Zahra': The Role Model).