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Can we supplicate to the Messenger of Allah, the Ahlulbait and the Imams (peace be upon them all)?
The Dua (supplication) is a “request”, and since Almighty Allah is in charge of the universe and manages all creations, asking Him is direct. Requesting from others, like the Prophets or the Imams, is not permissible if the seeker considers them as being independent in dealing with his request, aside from Almighty Allah. This is like considering a partner with Almighty Allah.
If the believer seeks the intercession of the Prophets and the Imams (peace be upon them) as they can then ask Almighty Allah to fulfill the seeker’s supplication, or he requests from Almighty Allah to fulfill his supplication by referring to the high rank of the noble personalities of the Prophets and the Imams (peace be upon them), then these two kinds of supplications are considered as permissible acts of worship.
Are the wives of the Prophet included in Ahlulbayt (peace be upon them) according to the 33rd verse of Surah al-Ahzab?
The verse does not include the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) since the wife – based on Arabic custom – is not included in the term “household” usually. This term refers to the genealogy of the man and his relatives by blood. It was narrated in the book “Lisan ul-Arab” that Ibn Sayyidah – an expert in Arabic linguistics – stated that the term “ahl” refers to the tribe of the man and his blood relatives. Apparently, this meaning was clear during the first era of Islam, since history did not mention that the aforementioned term is given to the wives by the companions of the Prophet. It was not used by the wives of the Prophet themselves. Aisha – for example – led an army to fight Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and her supporters were trying to gain the support of Muslims by any possible mean. Yet they did not mention that she is a member of the Ahlulbait.
It appears from numerous traditions narrated by Muslims in general that the Messenger of Allah used this phrase to refer to Ali, Hasan, Husain and Fatima (peace be upon them). Ahmed bin Hanbal narrated in his book (Al-Musnad) from Umm Salama that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) told Fatima (peace be upon her), “Call for me your husband and your two sons”. She did so, and he then placed a blanket over them and then he placed his hand over them and said: ”O Lord, these are the Aal of Mohammad, so place your blessings on Mohammad and the Aal of Mohammad. All praise and glory belong to you.” Umm Salama raised the blanket to join with them. The Messenger of Allah prevented her and said: “Your future is good”.
Many other traditions narrated by Sunni scholars mentioned clearly that the noble verse (33:33) was revealed while they were under the blanket.
In addition to that, what some of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) did clearly indicates that they were not purified from committing sins; some verses of chapter 66 (al-Tahreem) were revealed condemning Aisha and Hafsa since they aided one another against the Messenger of Allah. It was also narrated that one of the Prophet’s wife, Qutaila bint Qais left the religion of Islam after the death of the Prophet and got married to Ikrama bin Abi Jahl.
We know from verse (33:33) that the Ahlulbait are Imam Ali, Fatimah Hasan and Husain (peace be upon them) and we also know from the hadith the names of the twelve Imams. Can the other offspring of the Imam be considered amongst the Ahlulbait?
The verses and the narrations that are reported in the superiority of the Ahlulbait are specific to the five infallibles: The Prophet, Imam Ali, Fatima Al-Zahra, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace be upon them all). Sometimes, one can understand that some religious texts include the rest of the twelve Imams (peace be upon them). This does not include the other offspring of the Imams.
Some people say that Islam is not something which should be connected with a family, like the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and they use this for their argument against the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them). Please comment on this.
Our connection to the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) is not emotional; rather, it is religious and based on their infallibility. Almighty Allah has ordered us to follow them. He said: "Allah's wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Ahlulbait, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing"(33:33). The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordered us to follow them. He said: "I am leaving amongst you the two weighty things, the book of Allah, and my progeny". In addition to that, there are narrations about each and every one of the Imams of the Ahlulbait specifically. As an example, the Messenger of Allah said: “Ali is your Wali (i.e. guardian) after me” and he said: “Whoever’s master I am, Ali is his master”.
These and other religious texts show that these people have special characteristics that enable them to take their position of imamate and leadership. So the issue is not emotional, nor is it based on a tribe or a family. On the other hand, most believers in the Sunni sect accepted the legitimacy of the caliphate of the Umayyads and Abbasids, although both of these states were established and continued on the basis of inheritance and without any entitlement at all.
Can the following deeds be considered disrespectful to the Infallibles (peace be upon them) if they are done on the day of the martyrdom/death of any one of them?
Talking, laughing with friends and family members; Purchasing a new thing for myself or family; Eating some special food; Doing business or going to work; Going to a doctor for a check-up or going to a laboratory for a test or starting a medical treatment; Playing a game like cricket, hockey etc.; Asking an ordinary question or a question related to marital affairs from one’s Mujtahid; Taking out family for outing, recreation; Starting a new activity; Getting one’s car, house or any other possession repaired.
It was reported in some authentic narrations of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) the emphasis on crying, showing sadness and grief for Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) and establishing the mourning ceremonies for his tragedy and refraining from eating or drinking on the day of Ashura - without the intention of fasting - and breaking it with little water and food after noon. It was reported also to refrain from going out for regular needs on such occasions. It was also reported that whoever goes out to fulfill one of his needs that day, Almighty Allah will not bless it if it was fulfilled. It was also reported the emphasis on presenting grief and sadness for the tragedies of the Ahlulbait in general and there is no doubt that the days of their martyrdoms are the best to do so.
From such narrations, one can determine under what category the mentioned examples fit, since some of them are inconsistent with sadness and grief, while others are not.
Where did the Infallibles get their knowledge from? Was it taught to them by their parents and the Prophet (peace be upon him) or was it all given to them directly from God?
It is reported in the narrations of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) that their knowledge is of two kinds: one is the inherited books from Imam Ali (peace be upon him) that he wrote down from the dictations of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). The other kind is the information that they need in their everyday life which they get from Almighty Allah.
Did the Imams (peace be upon them) claim to be infallible?
There is no doubt that the followers of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) base the belief in the infallibility of the Imams (peace be upon them) on solid sources, starting from verse 33:33. Other texts indicate this directly and sometimes indirectly. As an example, in Ziyarat al-Jami’ah, which was narrated from Imam Ali Al-Hadi (peace be upon him) with an authentic chain: "Allah has guarded you from lapses and saved you from attractions (of life, Satan, etc)."
Some people say that our Imams (peace be upon them) know when they are going to die, but the Holy Quran states that “No soul knows what it will earn to-morrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die” (34:31). Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) knew that he was going to die in Karbala, how is this?
The meaning of the verse is that a human being by his nature does not know the time of his death. This does not mean that all people are like that. Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) came to know this from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) and the latter was informed of this by revelation and contact with the unseen world.
How do we seek intercession with God through the Prophet and Imams of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them all)? Is there a certain dua?
It was reported in some narrations that Imam Mosa Al-Kadhim – our Seventh Imam (peace be upon him) – said to his one of companions: “If you have a request from Allah say:
Allahumma inni As’aloka bi haqqi Mohammadin wa Alliyyin fa inna lehuma shaanan minash-shaan, wa qadran minal-qader, fa bihaqqi dhalikash-shaan wa bihaqqi thalikal-qader, an tosalli alla Mohammadin wa Aal-Mohammad wa an……." then you mention your request.
The translation of the said supplication is: “O my Lord I ask you by the right of Mohammad and Ali as they have a (high) position amongst the positions and a (high) value amongst the values. By this position and this value praise be on Mohammad and his progeny and…” then say what your request is.
There are other supplications mentioned in books of supplication.
Is turning to Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) in supplications recommended?
It is permissible to seek the intercession of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) to answer the requests, as it is one of the means to get the requests answered by the Lord.
Are there any authentic narration, Duas or Ziyarats in Shia books that direct us to ask the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) directly for sustenance, children, and the like?
Seeking intercession of the Prophet and the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) and asking them does not require an extra proof other than what is mentioned in the Holy Book. The following verse is sufficient to prove it, when Almighty Allah said: “And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful” (4:64).
Is it correct to say that Allah Almighty has delegated some of His attributes to the 14 Infallibles (peace be upon them) and others like Abbas bin Ali (Peace be upon him), Zainab Bint Ali (peace be upon her) Sakina Bint Hussain (peace be upon her), like relief from problems and hardships, providing of sustenance, providing children, protection from danger, averting misfortunes, etc.?
They are interceders to Almighty Allah and their intercession is His mercy to His slaves.
What is the reward for mourning for the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) as stated in the narrations and in the Holy Quran?
There are narrations that encourage mourning the Ahlulbait and showing grief for the injustices and tragedies they experienced. As an example, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) used to recite while prostrating a long supplication, "O my Lord, have mercy on those hearts that mourned us and were burned because of our grief. O my Lord, have mercy on those eyes that shed tears for us…”.
Is it prohibited to put up pictures of Imams (peace be upon them)? If so what are the conditions?
It is not prohibited to hang the pictures of Imams (peace be upon them) in homes and stores. It is an expression of belonging to them and seeking their blessings, which is a recommended act. At the same time, one should choose the appropriate picture that does not have a negative effect and there is no criterion for such.
Is it permissible to curse the enemies of the Prophet and the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them all)?
It is permissible, and it is one of the best deeds.
Can we place banners on roads or walls on which names of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) are written?
It is permissible to do so as long as this does not cause disrespect to the noble names.
I heard a few narrations that tell us to hate the enemies of Ahlulbait (peace be upon them). Who can I classify as the enemies of Ahlulbait? Are they Sunnis? How should I act towards them and am I allowed to respect them?
The Sunnis are not the enemies of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) even if they do not follow them or believe in their Imamate. They – in general – love the Ahlulbait. Our Imams (peace be upon them) ordered us to associate with them in kindness and to communicate with them regularly. It was reported in an authentic narration that one of the companions asked Imam Al-Sadiq (peace be upon him), “How should we fare with each other, with our own people and with people who do not espouse our beliefs?” The Imam (peace be upon him) said, "You should look up to your Imams whom you follow and do as they do. By Allah, they visit their sick, attend their funerals, testify for or against them and return the trust to them."
The enemies of the Ahlulbait are those who hate them and bear animosity with them. They are known by their names and personalities in the books of history and biographies. There were many rulers who acted with hostility against the Imams (peace be upon them) that lead to the Imams being killed, expelled and imprisoned. This can be found by referring to history books.
Kindly suggest a reference book regarding the names of the children of the twelve Imams (peace be upon them)?
“Omdatul Talib fi Ansab Aal Abi Talib” is a famous book that specializes in the lineage of Sayyids from the descendants of the Imams (peace be upon them).
Many people who are not Sayyids claim that there is no difference between a Sayyid and a non-Sayyid. Is this considered to be an insult to them?
If they meant by what they are saying that God-fearing is the criteria in the nobility of the person based on what the Messenger of Allah has said: “There is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab except by Taqwa (God-fearing),” then that is not an insult or humiliation for the offspring of the Prophet, as the offspring of the Prophet is expected more than other people to act upon the Sharia of their grandfather (peace be upon him and his holy progeny).
If they mean to eliminate the respect for the children of the Prophet in society, then this is not right as there is no doubt that it is a good thing to respect the noble progeny, as it is respect for the Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) himself.
Did divine revelation continue for the Infallible Imams after the Prophet (peace be upon them all)?
The Prophethood and divine revelations of legislations ended at the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), but some narrations indicate that angels communicate with the Imams (peace be upon them) and inform them what is taking place and what will take place. The Quran also speaks of the continuation of the descending of the angels during the Night of Qadr every year, which indicates that there is someone that receives certain information that night, which is clearly the Twelfth Imam (peace be upon him) in our time. This is further evidence from the Quran of his existence.