Zarr Bin Hobeish relates this story: Two travelers sat together on the way to their destination to have a meal. One had five loaves of bread. The other had three. A third traveler was passing by and at the request of the two joined in the meal. The travelers cut each of the loaf of bread in three equal parts. Each of the travelers ate eight broken pieces of the loaf. At the time of leaving the third traveler took out eight dirhams and gave to the first two men who had offered him the meal, and went away. On receiving the money the two travelers started quarrelling as to who should have how much of the money. The five-loaf-man demanded five dirharns. The three-loaf-man insisted on dividing the money in two equal parts. The dispute was brought to Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (the Caliph of the time in Arabia) to be decided. Imam Ali (A.S.) requested the three-loaf-man to accept three dirhams. The man refused and said that he would take only four dirhams. At this Imam Ali (A.S.) returned, "You can have only one dirham. You had eight loaves between yourselves. Each loaf was broken in three parts. Therefore, you had 24 equal parts. Your three loaves made nine parts out of which you have eaten eight portions, leaving just one to the third traveler. Your friend had five loaves which divided into three made fifteen pieces. He ate eight pieces and gave seven pieces to the guest. As such the guest shared one part from your loaves and seven from those of your friend. So you should get one dirham and your friend should receive seven dirhams.
IMAM ALI (AS) AND THE CANDLE
A candle burnt by his side, as he sat down meticulously recording all the revenue and the expenses of the treasury. Just then Talha and Zubair appeared. They aspired to some positions of authority in Imam Ali's (A.S.) rule and had come to strike a deal. If Imam Ali's (A.S.) gave them a place of distinction, they would in turn pledge their full support. Imam Ali's (A.S.) knew of this. Just as they sat down, Imam Ali's (A.S.) puts out the candle and lit another one. Talha and Zubair exchanged a glance of surprise and then one of them said: "O Ali, we have come on some important business. But why did you extinguish the first candle?" Imam Ali's (A.S.) replied: "That was a candle bought of Treasury funds. As long as I worked for the Treasury, I used it. Now you have come for some personal work, so I use the candle bought of my personal fund." Talha and Zubair left him without saying another word.
A father and a son were once guests of Imam Ali (A.S.). As they arrived, Imam (A.S.) received them warmly and arranged for their comfortable accommodation. In a room where they were seated, Imam (A.S.) sat opposite to them, engaging them in a friendly conversation. And then it was time for the meal. After food had been served and eaten, Qambar, Imam's servant, brought a basin and a pitcher full of water for washing the guest's hands. Imam (A.S.) took the pitcher himself and asked the father to extend his hands so that he would pour the water. "How is it possible that my Imam serves me? It should be other way," the guest said. Imam Ali (A.S.) said: "Here is your brother in faith, eager to serve his brother and to earn the pleasure of Allah. Why do you prevent him?" But the guest hesitated. Finally Imam (A.S.) said: "As your Imam, I request that you allow me the honor of this service." And when the guest complied, Imam (A.S.) said: "Let your hands be washed thoroughly. Do not hasten, thinking that I should be relieved of this duty early." When it was the son's turn, Imam (A.S.) instructed his own son Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyyah, to hold the pitcher and wash the guest's hands. Looking at his son, Imam (A.S.) said: I washed your father's hands. My son washed your hands. If your father had not been my guest today, I would have washed your hands myself. But Allah loves to see that when a father and a son are present in a place, the father enjoys a privilege and a priority.
The old man, a Christian by religion, had worked all his life; but had not been able to save anything for his old age. Lately he had also become blind. Old age, poverty and blindness had joined hands and he had no other way except begging. He used to stand at the corner of a lane for begging. People had compassion for him and gave him some alms from which he ate every day, and so he continued his sad life. One day Imam Ali (a.s.), the Leader of the Faithful passed through the lane and saw the beggar in that condition. Imam Ali (a.s.), out of his concern for others, enquired about the old man. He wanted to know the factors which led him to that condition." Has he no son to support him: Or, is there no other way for him to live a respectable life in his old age?" The people who knew the old man came forward and informed Imam Ali (a.s.) that he was a Christian and had worked hard so long as he had his eyes, and when young and strong. Now that he had lost his youth as well as his eyes, he was unable to do any work; also he had no savings, so it was natural for him to beg. Imam Ali (a.s.) said, "Strange! Till he had strength, you extracted work from him and now you have left him on his own?" His story shows that he had worked when he had the strength. Therefore, it is the duty of the Government and the society to support him till he is alive. Go, and give him a life-pension from the State-treasury".
Imam Hussein (as) and Kindness, charity and love for poor
Imam Hussein (as) is well known for his kindness, charity and love for the poor.
One day when Imam Hussein (as) was riding through the streets of Madina, he came across some beggars who had gathered together to eat the food that they had begged for during the day. The beggars saw Imam Hussein (as) and invited him to join them. Imam Hussein (as) was not allowed to take anything given in charity (Sadaqah) as he was from the family of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). Sadaqah is forbidden (Haraam) for all members of the family (Ahlul Bayt) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). Imam Hussein (as) got off his horse and sat down with the beggars.
Imam Hussein (as) then explained to them that although he would love to eat with them, he could not because as a member of the family of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) he could not take Sadaqah. As an alternative he invited all of the beggars to his house for food so that they could all eat together. Moral of the Story: You should always be kind to others, especially the poor. You should not compromise your beliefs for anyone, but at the same time you should be polite in how you tell them.
Imam Ali (as) and an Orphan Women
Tired and exhausted with the water skin on her back, she was gasping and going towards her house where innocent children, their eyes fixed at the door, were eagerly waiting for the arrival of their mother. On her way, stranger man approached her. He took the water skin from her and placed it on his back. The door opened and the children saw their mother entering the house with a stranger. He placed the water skin on the ground and said: "Well, it seems you don't have anyone to fetch water for you; how come you are so forlorn?" She replied: "My husband was a soldier; Ali sent him to the frontier where he was killed. Now I am alone with these small children."
Stranger said no more. Bowing down his head he went away. But the thought of the helpless widow and orphans remained in his mind. He could hardly sleep in the night. Early in the morning he picked up a basket; put some meat, flour and dates in it; went straight to her house and knocked at the door.
"Who are you?" Stranger replied: "I am the man who brought your water yesterday. Now I have brought some food for the children." "May Allah bless you and judge between us and Ali."
She opened the door. Entering the house stranger said: "I wish to do some good acts. Either let me knead the flour and bake the bread or allow me to look after the children." "Very well, but I can do the job of kneading and cooking better than you. You take care of the children till I finish cooking." She went to knead the flour. Immediately he grilled some meat, which he had brought and fed the children saying to each child while putting morsel in his mouth: "My son, forgive Ali if he has failed in his duty towards you." The flour got ready; she called: "Gentleman! Put fire in the oven." Stranger went and put fire in the oven. When flames rose up, he brought his face near the fire and said, "Taste the heat of fire. It is the punishment for those who fail in their duty towards orphans and widows."
By chance, a woman from the neighboring house came in. Recognizing the stranger, she cried: "Woe, don't you recognize the man who is helping you? He is Amir al-Muminin (commander of the faithful), Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as)."
The widow came forward and shamefacedly cried: "Curse and shame to me. I beg your pardon." Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) replied, "No, I beg your pardon for I failed in my duty towards you."
Imam Ali (as) and the Astrologer
Ameer al-Momineen Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) and his army had started out for the battle of Nahrawan against the Kharjites (Kharjite means one who rebels against religion), and having reached the city of Madain, they pitched their tents. The next morning, as they were about to commence their journey, an astrologer approached them and said: "My astrological calculations reveal that it is not in your interest to advance in this hour. Commence your journey after three hours and you shall be victorious."
Hearing this, Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) said: "Whoever upholds your words has rejected the Noble Qur'an of Allah (SWT)."
Surely Allah is He with Whom is the knowledge of the hour, and He sends down the rain and He knows what is in the wombs; and no one knows what he shall earn on the morrow; and no one knows in what land he shall die; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware. Noble Qur'an (31:34)
Imam Ali (as) then asked: "Do you possess knowledge as to which family has taken over the reins of leadership in China?"
The astrologer replied: "I have no knowledge."
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) questioned: "What is that star, which when rises, stirs up lust within the camels?"
The astrologer confessed: "I have no idea."
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) asked: "The rise of which star stirs up passion within the cats?"
The astrologer said: "I do not know!"
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) asked: "Inform me of the thing that is concealed beneath the hoofs of my horse."
When the astrologer had once again pleaded ignorance, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) said to him: "Within the earth, below the feet of my horse, lies a jar filled with gold coins and beneath which a serpent lies asleep."
When the place was dug up, the people witnessed that the scenario was exactly as it had been described by Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as).
Observing this, the astrologer was totally bewildered; Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) took possession of his books, ordered them to be destroyed and then said to him: "The next time you try to attract the people towards yourself by means of astrology; I shall put you behind bars."
Imam Hassan (as) and Knowledge
Imam Hasan (a.s.), like all other Imams was granted divine knowledge by Allah (swt) and he demonstrated it right from his childhood. Once Imam Hasan (a.s.) was asked "What are the 10 strong things that are stronger than one another?" Imam Hasan (a.s.) replied:
Among the strong things is Stone; Even stronger is the Iron which is used to break Stone; Even stronger is the Fire which melts Iron; Even stronger is the Water which extinguishes Fire; Even stronger are Clouds that carry Water with them; Even stronger is the Air which floats the Clouds with it; Even stronger is the Angel who moves the Air; Even stronger is the Angel who will give Death to the Angel who moves the Air; Even stronger is the Death which will come upon the Angel of Death; and Even stronger is the order of Allah (swt) which governs the Death.
Imam Hassan (as) with an Angery Man
Once the ruler of Rome asked Imam Hasan (a.s.): "Which are the creations which were born without a mother and father or Male and Female?" and Imam Hasan (a.s.) replied:
These are 7 creations: Hazrat Adam (a.s.), Hazrat Hawwa (a.s.), the lamb which was sent in place of Hazrat Ismaeel (a.s.), the camel of Hazrat Saleh (a.s.), the serpent of Hazrat Moosa (a.s.), Iblees and the crow that taught the method of burial to Qabeel son of Hazrat Adam (a.s.).
Mubarad and Ibn Aisha narrated that a man from Syria saw Imam Hasan (a.s.) riding a horse and started insulting him. Imam Hasan (a.s.) did not reply to the man. When the Syrian stopped, Imam Hasan (a.s.) proceeded towards him and after cheerfully greeting him said:
"Old man, I believe you are a stranger. Maybe you have confused me with another person. If you ask forgiveness, it is granted to you. If you ask for a means of transportation, we shall provide it for you. If you are hungry, we shall feed you. If you are in need of clothes, we shall cloth you. If you are deprived, we shall grant you. If you are being sought, we shall give you refuge. If you have any need, we shall fulfill it for you. And if you wish to proceed with your caravan be our guest until you leave, it would be more useful to you, for we hold a good position, great dignity and vast belongings."
When the man heard the words of Imam Hasan (a.s.) he cried and said:
"I testify that you are Allah's heir on His earth. Allah surely knows to whom He assigns His Message. You and your Father were the most resented of Allah's creatures to me, but now you are the most beloved of Allah's creatures to me."
The man then directed his caravan and became their guest of the town until he departed while believing in their love.
Imam Hasan (a.s.) and his Maid Servant
Once a maid of our 2nd Imam, Imam Hasan (a.s.) dropped a hot bowl of soup on Imam Hasan (a.s.).
She was very scared because she thought the Imam Hasan (a.s.) would be angry and punish her.
She immediately recited the Ayah: "...Those who control (their) anger..."
Imam Hasan (a.s.) smiled and said he was not angry.
Then she recited the next part of the Ayah: "...And are forgiving towards people..."
Imam Hasan (a.s.) said he had forgiven her.
She then finished the Ayah: "...Allah loves those who do good..."
Imam Hasan (a.s.) told her she was free.
The above Ayah is from the Holy Quran: Surah Aal-e-Imraan (3), verse 134.
Moral: The Holy Qur'an is not just there to read but to learn from and act upon. It is the word of Allah and teaches us everything we need to know if only we understood it.
Imam Ja'far e Sadiq (as) and Harun e Makki
Once a Khorasani chief by the name of Sahl bin Hasan came to Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (as), and asked him why the Imam wasn't fighting for his rights in spite of the truth being on his side when there were thousands of supporters ready to fight with him.
Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (as) with the intention of giving him a practical answer, asked him to sit down and wait. In the meantime, a servant of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) came, and Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (as) asked her if she had kindled the fire. She replied, "Yes".
Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (as) took Sahl bin Hasan with him and went to the fireplace. The fire was blazing red. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) turned to Sahl bin Hasan and told him to jump into the fire. Sahl bin Hasan trembled and begged forgiveness from Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) and asked not to be burnt.
At this moment, Harun Al-Makki one of the sincere companions of the Imam (as) happened to arrive.Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) told Harun Al-Makki to jump into the fire, and Harun Al-Makki did this at once, without hesitating.
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) then turned to Sahl bin Hasan and started to brief him about the circumstances prevailing in Khorasan, as if he had been there to witness the events taking place.
After a while, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) asked Sahl bin Hasan to go check on Harun Al-Makki. Sahl bin Hasan saw Harun Al-Makki sitting cross legged in the fire safely. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) then asked Sahl bin Hasan how many of his followers were like this man. Sahl bin Hasan replied, "none, master", Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) then asked Harun Al-Makki to leave the fire and no burns were seen on him!
Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) then explained, "I shall not stage an uprising when I do not have even five sincere companions. (And do remember) we are very well aware as to when we should stage an uprising."
Imam Taqi (as) and Mamun al Rashid
Once when our 9th Imam, Imam Taqi (as) was only nine years old, he was walking down a street of Baghdad, when Mamun al-Rashid and his soldiers came by. All the other children on the street ran away but Imam Taqi (as) did not.
Noting this, Mamun al-Rashid stopped his carriage and asked, "Young man, why did you not run away like the other children?"
Imam Taqi (as) replied calmly, "Neither had I committed a crime, nor was I blocking the way. Why should I have run away or be afraid? And I also know that you will not cause any unnecessary trouble when your way is not blocked."
Mamun al-Rashid was surprised with this mature reply and asked, "What is your name?"
"Muhammad," came the reply. Whose son are you? asked Mamun al-Rashid. "Son of Imam Ali Ridha (as)."
Mamun al-Rashid rode on. During his hunt the hawk returned to him with a fish in its beak. Mamun al-Rashid was surprised. He returned back toward the city. Once again, he found children playing on the same spot, who ran away seeing the caliph's soldiers, except this young man who said he was Muhammad son of Imam Ali Ridha (as) who remained where he was.
Mamun al-Rashid hid the fish in his palm, stopped his carriage near Imam Taqi (as) and said, "Tell me, what is there in my fist?"
Imam Taqi (as) replied, "Allah (SWT) has created tiny fish in the river. The hawks of kings sometimes catch fish from there and bring it to the Kings. They hide it in their fist and ask a member of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet, "Tell me what is there in my fist."
Mamun al-Rashid said, "Truly, you are the worthy son of Imam Ali Ridha (as). Mamun al-Rashid took the young Imam Taqi (as) with him, and let him live in a nearby house next to the Royal Palace.
Moral: You should not be scared of anything or anyone as Allah (SWT) is the strongest and will look after you.
Imam Taqi (as) in the court of Mamun al Rashid
Mamun al-Rashid son of Harun al-Rashid called the young 9th Imam, Imam Taqi (as) to Baghdad from Medina and offered his daughter. This infuriated his family (Abbasid). To prove to them the excellence of Imam Taqi (as) even at a young age of Twelve year, he arranged a meeting between Imam Taqi (as) and the most learned of men at that time - Yahya ibn Aaktham, the Chief Justice of the Abbasid Empire.
It was a grand occasion with some 900 other scholars present. The court was full of people from near and far everyone wanted to see what the outcome would be.
Yahya asked the first question which was: What would be the kaffara of a person in Ihram who hunted and killed his prey?
Imam Taqi (as) answered that he would have to be given a lot more detail before he could even begin to answer the question.
Was the person in Ihram Baligh or not? Was the person a free man or a slave? Did he know the laws of Sharia on hunting or not? Was his Ihram for Hajj or Umra? Did he hunt intentionally or not? Was this the first time or one of many? Did the person in Ihram hunt inside the Haram of the Holy Kaaba or outside. Did he hunt in the day or at night? Was the prey big or small? Was the prey a bird or an animal? Was the person repentant or not?
Yahya was shocked and did not know what to say.
Mamun al-Rashid asked Imam Taqi (as) to answer, Yahya's question for all of the above conditions, which Imam Taqi (as) did.
It was then Imam Taqi (as) to ask Yahya a question, which he did and Yahya could not answer; so Imam Taqi (as) again gave the answer. Mamun al-Rashid's joy knew no bounds. What he had asserted came true. Addressing the audience he said, "Did I not tell you that the people of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet have been gifted by Allah (SWT) with limitless knowledge? None can cope with even the children of this elevated House."
Mamun al-Rashid took the opportunity to offer his daughter Ummul Fazl to Imam Taqi (as). Imam Taqi (as) read his own Nikah (the khutba of which is used today) with the Mehr of 500 dirhams. Imam Taqi (as) wrote a letter to Mamun al-Rashid that he would also give Ummul Fazl Mehr from the wealth of The World to Come (Aakhira). This was in the form of 10 duas which were for fulfilling any hajaat (desires). Thus his title is Al-Jawad (the generous one).
Moral: To answer a fiqh question is not as easy as you may think; this is why Ulema spend years of their lives learning and researching. And why we have to do Taqlid of a Marja (Just like we take the advice of a doctor, when we are ill, we should take the advice of a Marja in religious affairs).
Imam Reza (as) narrating Golden Chain Hadith to the People
Once when our 8th Imam, Imam Raza (as) was travelling through a town called Nishapur, the people of the town asked Imam Raza (as) to tell them a hadith from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). Imam Raza (as) told them the following hadith: "My father Musa al-Kadhim (as) told me, from his father Jafar Sadiq (as), from his father Muhammad al-Baqir (as), from his father Ali Zainul Abideen (as), from his father the martyr of Kerbala (Hussain) (as), from his father Ali ibn Abu Talib (as), from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). from Angel Jibrail (as), from Almighty Allah: "The Kalima of 'La ilaha illallah' is My fort, and whosoever says it will enter My fort, and whosoever enters My fort is safe from My punishment."
This hadith is known as the Golden chain hadith. This is because each member of the chain was a Masoom (infallible). The people of Nishapur began reciting the Kalima and thought that His Holiness talk was over, but to their amazement the Holy Imam Raza (as) added the following words to what he had previously stated:
"But all this depends on some conditions, and I am considered to be one of those conditions".