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The Behavior of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a.s.) - Part 2

His Commandments to his Children

Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, supplied his children with some educational commandments which were the summary of his experiences in this life, as guidance for them. The following are some of his commandments:

1. He, peace be on him, recommended some of his children to follow these valuable commandments which shed light on friends, and which made it incumbent on them to refrain from making friends with those who had evil inclinations which might pollute their pure nature. The following is the text of his commandments: "My little son, beware of five persons. Do not make friends with them, do not converse with them, and do not accompany them."

His son asked him: "Who are they?" He, peace be on him, replied: "Beware of making friends with a liar because he is like a mirage, making you feel that distant things are near and near things are distant. Be careful of making friends with a sinner because he would sell you for a meal or less than that.

Beware of making friends with a miser because he would desert you because of his money when you are in need of him. Guard against a fool because he may intend to benefit you but may harm you. Be cautious of making friends with the one who abandons his blood relations because I have found him cursed in the Book of Allah."(Tuhaf al-'Uqul, p. 279. Al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, vol. 9, p. 105. Wasa'il al-Shi'a).

Indeed, making friends with such people brings about destruction and loss and great harm. Such people are many in the past and in the present while good and pure friends are few!

2. Among his excellent commandments to his children are these great ones, which read: "My little son, be patient during a misfortune, do not interfere with rights, and do not force your friend (to do) a thing whose harm is greater than its benefit for you.(Al-Bayan wa al-Tabbyyin, vol. 2, p. 76. Al-'Aqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 88).

"The wise Ima`m recommended his son to be patient in the face of misfortunes and events that afflicted him and not to collapse before them, for that would strengthen his character. He also recommended him not to interfere with the rights of others lest they should transgress against him. Moreover, he recommended him not to force his friend to do a certain thing that might bring about harm and loss.

3. Among his wonderful commandments to one of his children is the following: "My little son, Allah is not satisfied with you as one for me and He enjoined you in respect of me; He is satisfied with me as one for you and He warned me from you. Know that the best of fathers is he whose love does not cause him to neglect his children, and the best of children to fathers is one whose father's shortcomings does not make him disobedient to him."(Al-'Aqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 89).

These commandments have the following points:

A. Children do not harbor love and mercy for their parents as their parents do for them. So Allah, the Glorified, has stressed in more than one verse of His Glorious Book that children should treat their parents kindly and obey them.

B. Allah, the Exalted, has warned parents from their children whom He regarded as among the sources of discord and unhappiness for their parents.

C. Successful upbringing is that the parents should not go too far in showing love and mercy for their children, for that would weaken the child's character and make him unable to resist events. It is worth mentioning that educationists and psychologists have underlined this issue.

D. The best children are those who serve their parents and treat them kindly.
He singled out his son Ima`m al-Ba`qir, peace be on him, with these valuable commandments in which he warned him against making friends with a fool, saying: "My little son, beware of making friends and associating with a fool.

Abandon a fool and do not converse with him because he is deficient and faultfinding whether he is present or absent. When he talks, his foolishness exposes him. When he keeps silent, his silence shows his feebleness. When he acts, he corrupts (his act). He loses (the care) when someone takes care of him. Neither his own knowledge nor the others' knowledge avails him. He does not obey his adviser.

Those who associate with him find no rest (with him). His mother and his wife wish that they would lose him. His neighbor wishes that his house would be far from him. His friend prefers loneliness to sitting with him. If he is the youngest of those who are in the assembly, he tires out those who are older than him. If he is the oldest of them, he corrupts those who are younger than him..( Wasa'il al-Shi'a, vol. 5, p. 421).

The Ima`m, peace be on him, made it incumbent on his children to refrain from making friends with a fool whose defects and shortcomings he had mentioned.

5. The following are some of his wonderful commandments to his children: "Sit with the men of religion and knowledge. If you are unable (to sit with them), therefore loneliness is more sociable and safer. If you insist on sitting with people, therefore sit with the men of generosity because they are not strict in their assemblies."(Al-Kashi, Rijal, p. 419).

These are some of his educational commandments to his children. In these commandments he has shown his children the best methods necessary for their behavior in this life.

His Supplication for his Children

As for his supplication for his children, it is very wonderful in showing his behavior toward them and what he hoped for them such as excellent manners and noble morals. Now, let's listen to this supplication, which is part of the greatest wealth in the Islamic education.

"O Allah, be kind to me through the survival of my children, setting them right for me and allowing me to enjoy them! My Allah, make long their lives for me, increase their terms, bring up the smallest for me, strengthen the weakest for me, rectify for me their bodies, their religious dedication, and their moral traits, make them well in their souls, their limbs, and everything that concerns me of their affairs, and pour out for me and upon my hand their provisions! Make them pious, fearing, insightful, hearing, and obedient toward You, loving and well-disposed toward Your friends, and stubbornly resistant and full of hate toward all Your enemies! Amen!"

This paragraph represents the great spirituality the Ima`m, peace be on him, followed to educate his children. He educated them according to the inclusive setting right and the absolute education. He prayed to Allah to be kind to him through:

A. The survival of his children in order that he might enjoy them.

B. Rectifying their bodies, their religious dedication, and their moral traits.

C. Rectifying their souls through purifying them from vices and sins.

D. Making them well in their limbs lest they should become handicap.

E. Making abundant their provisions lest they should suffer from poverty which was among the most dangerous disasters.

F. Making them pious, fearing, insightful, hearing, and obedient toward Him (Allah).

G. Making them loving and well-disposed toward His (Allah's) friends, and stubbornly resistant and full of hate toward all His enemies.

This kindness to children strengthens the ties of the members of family. When the child is brought up according to these high moral traits, his parents will enjoy him.

Let's listen to another part of this holy supplication.

"O Allah, through them strengthen my arm, straighten my burdened back, multiply my number, adorn my presence, keep alive my name, suffice me when I am away, help me in my needs, and make them loving toward me, affectionate, approaching, upright, obedient, never disobedient, disrespectful, opposed, or offenders! Help me in their education, and my devotion toward them, give me among them from Yourself male children, make that a good for me, and make them a help for me in that which I ask from You! Give me and my progeny refuge from the accursed Satan, for You have created us, commanded us, prohibited us, and made us desire the reward of what You have commanded, and fear its punishment!

You assigned to us an enemy who schemes against us, gave him an authority over us in a way You did not give us an authority over him, allowed him to dwell in our breasts and let him run in our blood vessels; he is not heedless, though we be heedless, he does not forget, though we forget; he makes us feel secure from Your punishment and fills us with fear toward other than You. If we are about to commit an indecency, he gives us courage to do so, and if we are about to perform a righteous act, he holds us back from it. He opposes us through passions, and sets up for us doubts.

If he promises us, he lies, and if he raises our hopes, he fails to fulfill them. If You do not turn his trickery away from us, he will misguide us, and if You do not protect us from his corruption, he will cause us to slip.

O Allah, so defeat his authority over us through Your authority such that You hold him back from us through the frequency of our supplication to You and we leave his trickery and rise up among those preserved by You from sin!"

This wonderful paragraph has two important matters, which are:

First, the Ima`m asked Allah, the Glorified, to help him achieve what he hoped in respect to his pure children. He hoped that:

1. Allah would strengthen his arm through them, for a good child is strength for his father.

2. He would straighten his burdened back.

3. He would multiply their number, so that they would be a notable family before the people.

4. He would adorn his presence and keep alive his name, that was through the high standards of his children.

5. He would suffice him when he was away, that was when his children carried out his affairs.

6. He would make his children help him in his needs and not leave him alone.

7. He would make his children loving toward him, affectionate, approaching, upright, obedient, never disobedient, disrespectful, opposed, or offenders!

When children are righteous and obedient to their parents, their parents will enjoy them during the time of their old age which is the center of weakness.

Second, the Ima`m asked Allah, the Glorified, to protect him and his children from the evil of the accursed Satan, who is the first enemy of man; he tempts man to be disobedient to Allah through committing sins and vices. The Ima`m has mentioned the authority and domination of Satan over man as follows:

1. Satan tempts man to commit sins, makes easy the punishment Allah has prepared for his disobedient servants, and makes man afraid of those other than Allah, so he makes him afraid of them more than they are afraid of Allah.

2. If man is about to commit an indecency, he gives him courage to do so.

3. If man is about to perform a righteous act, he holds him back from it.

4. Satan opposes man through passions.

5. He sets up doubts for man to make him far from his Lord.

The Ima`m mentioned all the ways Satan uses to entice man such as lying and deception, and then he warned all the believers from the trickery of Satan.

Now, lets listen to the last paragraph of this holy supplication.

"O Allah, grant me every request, accomplish for me my needs, withhold not from me Your response when You have made Yourself accountable for it to me, veil not my supplication from Yourself, when you have commanded me to make it, and be kind to me through everything that will set me right in this world and the next, in everything that I remember or forget, display or conceal, make public or keep secret! In all of this, place me through my asking You among those who set things right, those who are answered favorably when they request from You and from whom is not withheld when they put their trust in You, those who always seek refuge in You, those who profit through commerce with You, those granted sanctuary through Your might, those given lawful provision in plenty from Your plentiful bounties through Your munificence and generosity, those who reach exaltation after abasement through You, those granted sanctuary from wrong through Your justice, those released from affliction through Your mercy, those delivered from need after poverty through Your riches, those preserved from sins, slips, offenses through reverential fear toward You, those successful in goodness, right conduct, and propriety through obeying You, those walled off from sins through your power, the refrainers from every act of disobedience toward You, the dwellers in Your neighborhood!

O Allah, give me all of that through Your granting of success and Your mercy, grant us refuge from the chastisement of burning, and to give to all the Muslims, male and female, and all the faithful, male and female, the like of what I have asked for myself and my children, in the immediate of this world and the deferred of the next! Verily You are the Near, the Responder, the All-hearing, the All-knowing, the Pardoner, the Forgiving, the Clement, the Merciful! And give us in this world good, and in the next world good, and protect us from the chastisement of the Fire!

Peace be on you, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, you were given wisdom and sound judgment of which no one of the people was given except your children, who created the rules of eloquence in the world of Islam.
In the above-mentioned paragraph, Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, showed his great loyalty, his turning to Allah, his obedience, and his cleaving to Allah. He asked Allah, the Almighty, to grant him every request, to accomplish for him his needs, to withhold not from him His response when He has made Himself accountable for it to him, to veil not his supplication from Himself, when He has commanded him to make it, and to be kind to him through everything that will set him right in this world and the next. He humbly supplicated to Allah, and then he asked Him to give to all the Muslims, male and female, and all the faithful, male and female, the like of what he had asked for himself and his children, in the immediate of this world and the deferred of the next.

Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, brought up his children according to these manners, which represented the essence of Islam and true faith, so his children were the most pious of the children of all the Muslims in religion.

His Behavior toward his Retainers

Ima`m Zayn al-'Abidin, peace be on him, treated his retainers with kindness and mercy; he treated them as he treated his own children. The narrators said that he did not punish any of his retainers for the mistakes they made against him.One day the Ima`m called a retainer of his twice, but the retainer did not answer him. At the third time he answered, so the Ima`m asked him kindly:

"Didn't you hear my voice, my little son?"

"Yes," was the reply.

"What was on your mind so that you did not answer me?" asked the Ima`m.

"I was safe (from any harm) from you," answered the retainer.

The Ima`m praised Allah and went out, saying: "Praise be to Allah, Who has caused my slave to be safe (from any harm) from me." The Ima`m was happy, for he was neither rude nor tyrannical, so the people were not afraid of him nor were they careful of him.

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