Translated by: Ghassan Rimlawi
The First Sermon
In this week, we come across two vital religious occasions: the birth of an Imam and that of a Prophet. The Imam is Ali Bin Moussa Ar-Rida (a.s.) whose birth was on the 11th of Thul-Qi’da, while the prophet is Jesus Christ, the son of Lady Mary, whose birth, as commonly known, is on the 25th of December.
Spiritual and humanistic values
On these two occasions, we should pose and learn the appropriate lessons, and rise to the spiritual values that this prophet and this Imam represent. When we get to know Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) who filled the era he lived in with his science, spirituality, piety and action, through his heritage, we feel that our spiritualism, humanitarianism and culture has been elevated. All those who believe and adhere to the Wilayah of the Members of the House (a.s.) should open up to the heritage that they had left us.
The Imam lived in unique circumstances; he was chosen by the Abbasid caliph, Al-Ma’moun, as his heir, but he refused in the beginning because he did not find it a realistic opportunity to uphold the true line of Islam, as it was a product of Al-Ma’moun struggle with his brother Al-Amin, but later he accepted in order to depict a living picture of the spiritual and religious wealth of the school of the Members of the House.
The best life
As abundant and fruitful as the heritage of Imam Ar-Rida (a.s.) is, we have to be contented with some glimpses that teach us some of the spiritual values of Islam that aim to elevate man in all his spiritual, academic and humanistic aspects. The Imam tells us that the best way to live is to use all one's potential, talents and skills to benefit those who are around him, thus enriching their hearts and minds. The Imam (a.s.) was asked who the one who has the best life is, and he answered that it is he whom the lives of the others benefit from his life, while the worst is the selfish minded who thinks only about himself.
Befriend your mind and help the weak
He also considered that the best charity is helping the weak. He also believes that one’s friend is one’s mind, meaning that you have to befriend your mind and consult it in all your businesses, projects and human relations for it is the tool that differentiates between good and bad, and between the harmful and the beneficial. In his advice to his followers, he explained to them what the meaning of being a Shiite and a follower of the Members of the House is. He says to Abdul-Azim Al-Hassani, one of the great scholars who lived in his age: “Tell my followers not to let Satan find a way to them - meaning not to follow what Satan would incite them to do, such as hatred and deviation -Adhere to Allah's line as evident by what He revealed to His messengers. Order them to be truthful and trustworthy. Order them to keep silent and not to argue in what is not of their business. Tell them to visit one another; this is how they will become close to me, and tell them not to be occupied in tearing up each other”. Did we apply this will? Are we not tearing up each other on all levels, be they political, religious sectarian, and even at the level of the religious authorities?
The Imam goes on to say: “Ihave called God to torture whoever does this, in this life and to end him as a loser in the hereafter”. Those who visit Imam Ar-Rida and then harm other believers and distort their image should know that he said that Allah forgives the believers except those who ascribe partners to Him or harm one of the Imams’ pious followers. Those who do so will not be forgiven unless they change their attitude…
This is what Imam Ar-Rida has told us in his will. Have we executed it? When we go and visit him or when we recite the visit supplication from far away, do we remember this will? This is what following the line of the Members of the House means, and this is what we ought to keep in our minds in all our sayings and actions.
The birth of Christ
The birth of Christ (p.) was one of Allah’s miracles, and just as God proved that He can create Adam without having a father or a mother, He proved that He can create a human being without a father. He chose Mary (a.s.) to embody this ability. How did the Quran relate the story of Christ's birth?
“Mention in the book (the Quran) the story of Mary (This purified lady) how she left her family and started living in a solitary place to the East out of her people’s sight (to worship). We sent Our spirit - some say it was Gabriel and others a great angel - who stood before her in the shape of a well formed human being - as angels do when they descend - Mary said: ‘Surely I fly for refuge from you to the Beneficent Allah, if you are a God fearing person’ - She was a purified woman living in solitary. It was natural for her to be afraid from anyone who invades her solitude - He said: ‘I am the messenger of your Lord - I am not a man I am an angel-messenger - I have come to give you a purified son’ - This made her more surprised because she knew how babies are formed, so - she said: ‘How can I have a son when no mortal has touched me nor am I an unchaste woman’. He said: ‘This is true but your Lord says: ‘It is very easy for me’ - This is a message from Allah and not from me. He Who created the whole universe, can He not create a son without a father? - We have decided to give you a son as evidence (of our existence) for human beings and a mercy from us. This is a decree already ordained. She conceived the child and retreated with him to a distant and solitary place - knowing that her pregnancy will soon be apparent, although the Quran does not tell us how the pregnancy occurred and what the meaning of “breathing into her from Our spirit” is, but it seems that her pregnancy did not last long - And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: She cried (in her anguish): ‘Ah! Would that I had died before this! would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!’ - She felt weak - Then, she heard a voice from underneath (some say it was the baby and others say the angel), saying: “Do not be sad. Your Lord has caused a stream to run at your feet. If you shake the trunk of the palm tree - although it needs a lot of force - it will provide you with fresh ripe dates. Eat, drink, and rejoice. Should you see a person going by, tell him that on this day you have promised the Beneficent God to fast and never talk to any human being’ - as were their costumes - She took him to her people who were astonished and they said: ‘Mary, this is indeed a strange thing. O sister of Aaron, your father was not bad nor was your mother unchaste’. She pointed to the baby - referring them to him for their answer - They said: ‘How can we talk to a baby in the cradle?’ He said: ‘I am the servant of God. He has given me the book and has appointed me to be a prophet. He has blessed me, and made me benefit people, no matter where I dwell, commanded me to worship Him and pay the religious tax for as long as I live. He has commanded me to be good to my mother, and has not made me an arrogant rebellious person. So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!’ Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be’, and it is. (Baby Jesus said): ‘And surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serve Him; this is the right path’”.
This is the story of the birth of Jesus Christ (a.s.), the birth of the Divine sign, the Divine power, the Divine message… This is the birth that when we read about it in the Quran we will live the greatness of God, His grace and His power. I say to all my brothers, sisters and children: when you want to celebrate the birth of Christ, do not imitate the Western practices of idolism. If your children in certain countries ask you to celebrate Christmas, sit with them and talk to them about Christ, his mother and his birth as it was narrated in the Glorious Quran. Your children will then know that Islam embraces all messages and that we do not have a problem with celebrating the birth of Christ (a.s.), but in the way that the Quran did, since the Quran is the whole truth.
The Second Sermon
Occupation: the highest form of terrorism
In Palestine, several martyrs fall everyday, several children are slaughtered and hundreds of families are left homeless… all under the indifferent eyes of an arrogant world led by the Western states that have given Israel a free hand in all these savage actions against the Palestinian people… On their part, the Palestinians are demanding their freedom and independence.
The Palestinians, whose actions are but a reaction to occupation, are crying in the face of this world that accuses them of terrorism:
Let the occupier get out of our lands and we will not fire any shot at him… Occupation is, by the criteria of all civilizations, the highest form of terrorism… But the problem is that those who created the Israeli state, thrown the Palestinians out and besieged them in camps do not believe that the Palestinians deserve freedom; they only believe that the Jews are the only ones who should be protected from those who are defending the freedom of their country.
It is ironic that the British prime minister who was talking about an international peace conference has yielded to Israel's conditions in turning it to a conference to reform the Palestinian internal conditions, meaning the various American-Israeli conditions.
It is as if the Palestinian people are minors who need to be reformed and guided… He also adopted the Israeli rationale of linking the negotiations to ending the Intifada without asking Israel to stop its assassinations, detentions, bulldozing… and without asking it to accept the right of return or dismantle the settlements and the racial wall… The negotiations would then start with the help of American and European pressures, and with the aim of executing the Road Map within the framework of the Israeli-American conditions, as agreed upon by the letters exchanged by Sharon and Bush.
We ask Blair whose country bears the historic responsibility of creating a national Jewish homeland in Palestine: what kind of a Palestinian state is he calling for? Can he give them an independent and viable state? Or does the American-Israeli alliance forbid the EU, Russia and the United Nations, from crossing the Israeli redlines?
It seems that Blair's visit was to support Israel at the expense of the Palestinian rights.
Iraq: Occupation is the greatest danger
Iraq is still in the midst of a bloody tragedy in which innocent people fall everyday, and chaos flourishes... Then, there is the living crisis where people cannot find their vital needs… Yet, Iraq still embodies the national unity, despite all the deviators who are trying to incite sectarian confessional or racial sensitivities, including some of the highest Arab authorities who are talking about the concern about the Arab identity of Iraq as a result of the Shiite dominance, which might create an Islamic republic like the one in Iran. They are also talking about a Shiite crescent that includes Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran.
Those who are posing the Shiites as a danger to pan-Arabism, Islam and the Sunnis do not see in the American occupation a threat to Iraq and the region… They also do not complain about the Israeli clandestine interference and do not see in it a huge problem to the Iraqi people.
Does inciting sectarianism help Pan-Arabism?
We say to them: The Muslim Shiites are more pan-Arabist than many.
They have a long history of confronting the British colonialism, to assert their pure Arabism that finds no problem in its Islamic commitment. They have never thought of a Shiite crescent because they find their strength in their Arab-Islamic environment on the basis of being equal to the others in their rights and duties.
We demand that they should provide evidence for their claim, so that all people in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon can discuss them. We hope that they should be occupied instead with the Israeli danger that threatens the entire region, and even the countries whose leaders are making these claims… They should stop inciting these divisions among Muslims for they are not in the interests of all parties; not even those who are making them.
We also say that the Iraqi people are not a minor... When they are given the right to choose they will choose a United Arab Muslim Iraq, in which the Sunnis and the Shiites join hands to drive the occupier out of this sacred land.
These voices are offering a free gift to America and Israel; they serve the American plans to pressurize Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Is this what preserves pan-Arabism?
Lebanon: A call for a referendum
The voices that discuss the electoral law only seek to promote their partisan interests.
We demand a law that enables the Lebanese citizens to know the person they give him their vote of confidence.
The voter should know the politician's political history, his foreign relations, and his commitment to his people… In these proposed laws, the voters might not even know the names of those they are voting for… What we want is a law that preserves the credibility of representation and the freedom of choice without any political, local or outside pressure.
We suggest a referendum that asks people: are they concerned about the electoral law or the economic and political collapse, the moral disintegration and the political dispute that has undermined the national unity and the image of Lebanon?