Tuesday, May 1st, 2018, marks the birth anniversary of Imam al-Mahdi (p), 15th of Shaban,…
Each of the members of the Holy Household left behind a piece of the legacy that has preserved the heritage of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut). An analysis of every one of their lives demonstrates that they endured a great deal of socio-political struggles but still managed to find a means to narrate the teachings of the Holy Quran and of their grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp). Particularly during the Abbasid period, the Imams persevered through significant hardships inflicted by the harsh rulers yet found mechanisms to disseminate the pure light of knowledge and wisdom. We see this demonstrated in the beautiful portrayal of love and devotion to the infallible imams in the narration of our tenth imam, Imam Ali al-Hadi (p), known as Ziyarah al-Jamiah al-Kabirah. This ziyarah (or visitation) is unique in its way of narration and speaks of the incredible status of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) in the eyes of God.
The Narration of Ziyarah al-Jamiah al-Kabirah
The period of leadership of Imam Ali al-Hadi (p) occurred during the rule of al-Muttawakil, the Abbasid caliph. The intensity of the political situation at the time forced the Imam to only narrate traditions to his closest confidantes. The Imam narrated this ziyarah to his companion Musa ibn Imran al-Nakhai, and it is among the most authentic means to visit the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut). Scholars of hadith have spoken to the impeccable merit of this ziyarah. One scholar states, “Surely this ziyarah is the best of salutations, and the most perfect of them. And I do not visit the Imams [peace be upon them] in their sacred shrines except by this ziyarah.”1
In the narration, the companion, Musa ibn Imran al-Nakhai, visits Imam Ali al-Hadi (p) and states, “Oh grandson of the Prophet! Teach me what I should say when I visit one of you, that is eloquent and complete!” The Imam responded by offering him some etiquette of visiting the family of the Prophet. He then continued with the salutation itself, which begins with, “Peace be upon you oh, people of the house of the Prophet! The location of the divine message. The space where different angels descend, and the destination of divine revelation, and the pillars of mercy, and the protectors of divine knowledge.”2 These powerful words are just an introduction to the Imams’ magnificence.
The Status of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) in Ziyarah al-Jamiah
This particular ziyarah to the Holy Household (pbut) is quite lengthy, but it offers incredible insight into the status of the progeny of the Prophet (pbut). For instance, we recite, “Whoever declares loyalty to you is loyal to God. And whoever shows enmity to you, shows enmity to God. Whoever loves you, loves God. And whoever hates you, hates God. Whoever holds steadfast to you, has held steadfast to God.”3 These lines go back to the notion of absolute obedience to the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) and to the authority given to them by God. Thus, it is a reminder for us to follow in their footsteps in all dimensions—lawfully, ethically, and spiritually.
Later in the Ziyarah, we continue stating, “Victorious is the one who adheres to you. Secured is the one who resorts to you. Saved is the one who gives credence to you. And guided is the one who takes shelter in you. Whoever follows you, paradise will be his abode.”4 If we do our best to stay in the path of our imams, we will be successful in this life and the next.
Bits of Advice
1. Try to read or listen to the Ziyarah regularly: Reciting Ziyarah al-Jamiah al-Kabirah encourages us to increase our knowledge of the family of the Prophet, which gives us an opportunity to build a foundational relationship with them. Upon reading the salutation of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), we recognize their lofty status as we address them by saying, “Peace be upon those who have deep knowledge of God, and the place of God’s blessings, and the treasures of God’s wisdom, and the protectors of God’s secrets, and the bearers of God’s book.”5
2. Contemplate its words: We gain a great deal of knowledge about the Imams from this ziyarah. Numerous traditions speak to the importance of increasing our knowledge or marifah of the Imams. In a tradition, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh&hp) says, “He who dies without knowing the Imam of his time has died the death of those in the Age of Ignorance.”6 Therefore, we should do our best to gain even the slightest bit of knowledge of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) whenever we can.
3. Share the words of Ahl al-Bayt (pbut): In Ziyarah al-Jamiah, we address the Imams by stating “Your words are a light!”7 The wisdom offered by the family of the Prophet (pbuh&hp) helps us to spiritually develop and is incredibly enlightening. It is important to open the books of hadith and share the words of the Imams with friends, family members, and colleagues.
1. Shaykh Abbas al-Qommi, Mafatih al-Jinan, p. 657.
2. Shaykh al-Sadouq, Ayun Akhbar al-Rida, vol. 1, p. 305.
3. Shaykh al-Sadouq, Ayun Akhbar al-Rida, vol. 1, p. 305.
4. Shaykh al-Sadouq, Ayun Akhbar al-Rida, vol. 1, p. 305.
5. Shaykh al-Sadouq, Ayun Akhbar al-Rida, vol. 1, p. 305.
6. Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 8, p. 146
7. Shaykh al-Sadouq, Ayun Akhbar al-Rida, vol. 1, p. 305.
1) الشيخ عباس القمي، مفاتيح الجنان، ص ٦٥٧
2) الإمام الهادي (ع)، الزيارة الجامعة الكبيرة: “اَلسَّلامُ عَلَيْكُمْ يا اَهْلَ بَيْتِ النُّبُوَّةِ، وَمَوْضِعَ الرِّسالَةِ، وَمُخْتَلَفَ الْمَلائِكَةِ، وَمَهْبِطَ لْوَحْىِ، وَمَعْدِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ، وَخُزّانَ الْعِلْمِ، …”، الشيخ الصدوق، عيون أخبار الرضا (ع)، ج ١، ص ٣٠٥
3) الإمام الهادي (ع) الزيارة الجامعة الكبيرة: “… مَنْ والاكُمْ فَقَدْ والَى اللهَ، وَمَنْ عاداكُمْ فَقَدْ عادَ اللهَ، وَ مَنْ اَحَبَّكُمْ فَقَدْ اَحَبَّ اللهَ، وَمَنْ اَبْغَضَكُمْ فَقَدْ اَبْغَضَ اللهَ، وَمَنِ اعْتَصَمَ بِكُمْ فَقَدِ اعْتَصَمَ بِاللهِ …”، الشيخ الصدوق، عيون أخبار الرضا (ع)، ج ١، ص ٣٠٥
4) الإمام الهادي (ع) الزيارة الجامعة الكبيرة: “… وَفَازَ مَنْ تَمَسَّكَ بِكُمْ وَأَمِنَ مَنْ لَجَأَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَسَلِمَ مَنْ صَدَّقَكُمْ وَهُدِيَ مَنِ اعْتَصَمَ بِكُمْ
مَنِ اتَّبَعَكُمْ فَالْجَنَّةُ مَأْوَاهُ …”، الشيخ الصدوق، عيون أخبار الرضا (ع)، ج ١، ص ٣٠٥
5) الإمام الهادي (ع) الزيارة الجامعة الكبيرة: “… السَّلامُ عَلَى مَحَالِّ مَعْرِفَةِ اللَّهِ وَمَسَاكِنِ بَرَكَةِ اللَّهِ وَمَعَادِنِ حِكْمَةِ اللَّهِ وَحَفَظَةِ سِرِّ اللَّهِ وَحَمَلَةِ كِتَابِ اللَّهِ …”، الشيخ الصدوق، عيون أخبار الرضا (ع)، ج ١، ص ٣٠٥
6) عن رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله): “من مات وليس له إمام مات ميتة جاهلية”، الشيخ الكليني، الكافي، ج ٨، ص ١٤٦
7) الإمام الهادي (ع) الزيارة الجامعة الكبيرة: “… كَلامُكُمْ نُورٌ …”، الشيخ الصدوق، عيون أخبار الرضا (ع)، ج ١، ص ٣٠٥