'O God, carry us in the ships of Thy deliverance, give us to enjoy the pleasure of whispered prayer to Thee, make us drink at the pools of Thy love, let us taste the sweetness of Thy affection and nearness, allow us to struggle in Thee, preoccupy us with obeying Thee, and purify our intentions in devoting works to Thee, for we exist through Thee and belong to Thee, and we have no one to mediate with Thee but Thee!' Imam Sajjad ('A); Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

An insight into the 'Children of the Prophets'

An excerpt from the commentary of Du'a al-Nudbah

اَيْنَ الطَّالِبُ بِذُحُوْلِ الْاَنْبِيَآءِ وَ اَبْنَآءِ الْاَنْبِيَآءِ؟
'Where is he who shall avenge the Prophets and the children of the Prophets?'

There are two possible meanings for the phrase 'children of the Prophets.' First, and most obviously, it refers to the children of God's Prophets who were wrongfully killed. Most likely, the children referred to were not themselves Prophets; otherwise, it would have been more appropriate to mention them too as 'Prophets', not as the 'children' of the Prophets. The only examples that we were able to find for this interpretation were Haabil (Abel), the son of the Prophet Adam, and the Imams from the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad.

Alternatively, the phrase could refer to the followers of the Prophets who were wrongfully killed for their faith, for a Prophet is the metaphorical father of his followers. In this vein, God has urged us to follow 'the way of you father Abraham' (Qur'an 22:78); and the Prophet once declared, 'Ali and I are the fathers of this community [of faith]' (Bihaar al-Anwaar

In either case, according to this sentense, Imam al-Mahdi will exact revenge for their deaths. You might wonder from whom will he exact revenge since the murderers will be long dead by them. The following tradition indicates that he will exact revenge from those who follow in the footsteps of those murderers and condone their crimes, whether or not they are from the progeny of those murderers.

Imam al-Ridha was once asked, 'What do you say about the following tradition transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq? 'When al-Mahdi will rise up, he shall kill the progeny of the murderers of al-Husayn for the deeds of their forebears.'' Imam al-Ridha said, 'It is so.' The transmitter asked, 'Then what is the meaning of God's statement, 'No soul shall bear the burden of another?'' The Imam replied, 'Of course, God has spoken the truth in all that He has said. However the progeny of the murderers of al-Husayn condone the deeds of their forebears and take pride in them. He who condones an act is like him who does it. Thus, if a man murders in the east, and a man in the west condones his murder, then before God, the one who condoned [the other's act] is his accomplice. Accordingly, Imam al-Mahdi will only kill their progeny when he rises up because they condone what their forebears did.' (al-Burhaan fee tafsir al-Qur'an vol.2 p.508). 

In this tradition, the sentence 'He who condones an act is like him who does it,' is a general principle that broadens the scope of the Imam's vengeance to all who condone the murder of the Prophets' children or followers, whether or not they are the actual descendents of those murderers.
It should be noted that Islamic Law does not consider condoning a crime to be sufficient cause for legal prosecution against a person. For this reason, Imam al-Ridha said that one who condones a murder is an accomplice to the murder 'before God,' not in the court of law. Accordingly, this tradition indicates that Imam al-Mahdi will punish these people according to his policy of judging people based on his divinely inspired knowledge of the truth rather than judging them on empirically attainable proof. This is a policy particular to him, which cannot be acted upon by any Islamic judge. Even the Imams before him and the Prophet himself did not judge on such a basis.

Shaykh Rizwan Arastu, Al-Nudbah; a Devotional Elegy for the Prophet Muhammad and his family, ITI, p. 86-87.