Whenever you want to make a big decision, you might think about what would be the right choice; which one is better and going to lead you to the right way. When the choice is made and you have followed one way or another, again thousand thoughts appear. And one of those thoughts or questions is: “Was that predestined? Is it me who is making the choice or it was made for me before? What is my will in it?
Once a man asked Imam Sadiq (AS), “Does Allah make human beings to do or not to do a thing?”
He answered, “Allah is More Just to make a person do a thing and then punish him for that” .
Imam Reza (AS) also replied to a similar question with this phrase, “Allah is More Just and Wise to do such a thing” .
Divine wisdom and justice do not allow Allah to decide about good and evil acts of human beings, who are created to have a free will and the right to decide for their own fate. He directly refers to the fact that human beings are responsible for what they do and He just shows them the truth in the Holy Quran. They are to choose which way to take and what to do.
“and say 'This is the truth from your Lord. Let whosoever will, believe, and whosoever will disbelieve it.” (18:29)
“Indeed, We have guided him to the path, he is either grateful or ungrateful” (76:3)
So, none of the things we do in this world is the result of divine determinism. But we know that Allah has the ultimate will. He makes decisions, which no one can change. Where does His Will stand regarding human being’s will?
Are human beings the final decision-makers and Allah has no role and consideration in the decisions they make, or Allah makes the final decision and human beings have no part in the things that happen to them , and they have no free will? None! They both work together. For everything we do, both our will and Allah’s will play their own parts. 
Let me give you an example. Imagine a person who is in a terrible financial state and decides to go to his neighbor’s house to steal some money from their strongbox. The moment he decides to do such a thing, he knows that the money does not belong to him and might put the neighbor in trouble. He knows that stealing is not a good thing to do, and it’s against the laws of humanity, Islam, Christianity, and any other faith. At the end of the day, he decides to steal the money and goes to his neighbor’s house.
Well, the guidance is given by Allah, in the holy books, in one’s heart and thoughts, but it’s the person who makes the final decision. One might think that “Well, Allah could stop that man from stealing that money. Why didn’t he?”
The answer is that he surely could, but it is against his greater will to praise the ones who do what he commands them to do and the ones who decide to harm themselves, others, the earth, or the whole world. That is where the difference is made.
To sum up, one should know that Allah wanted us to decide and to choose, and that makes the difference between human beings and other creatures. Allah decides about certain things and guides us to the right path through signs and words He had sent to us. However, we are the ones who choose the way we want to take.
Which way is yours?!
As we all know, human life is on an extremely fast pace of progress that is made possible by human expeditions and exploration. But no one can say for sure that all the achievements of this progress have been used on the righteous path. Some of these explorations are known as a forward leap in human history just like dynamite that has been used to ease miner’s jobs. But the same invention has also been used as a deadly weapon against thousands of innocent humans. Obviously, Islam did not miss this point about human life and gave advice to all Muslims in this regard: “Islam forbids eating, drinking and consuming things that are harmful to human health. The more harmful it is, the more severe the prohibition of its cause and effect, to the extent that it reaches the level of sanctity.” (1)
Now, we are going to talk about narcotics, the basis of all of the soothing medicine that are used as one of the essential materials in the ancient times surgery but is also used by heedless people for entertainment at the expense of decomposing their body and brain.
Narcotics are the most common cause of death and disability in the world that exacerbates many diseases, including cardiovascular, pulmonary, infectious diseases, cancer, bone diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, hearing problems, and oral diseases. In every 8 seconds, one person in the world dies of diseases caused by narcotics; fortunately, with the advancement of science and technology and optimal information, the level of awareness of people about the effects of narcotics on their health has increased. We will see what advice Islam gave us on the issue of using narcotics for mortal pleasure.
As we said before, Islam forbids consuming materials that are harmful to human health to the extent that even on some occasions it reaches the level of taboo. Imam Khomeini, the first leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran said: "Eating something that is harmful to human beings is forbidden."(1) It is obvious that the criterion for being haram (forbidden) is to have harmed, and it does not matter whether this harm goes through eating or in some other way. Drugs is one of the things that harm human health, but is it harmful to the extent that makes it forbidden to use?
Many physicians and practitioners are following the opinion that narcotics has significant harms and have written numerous books on the dangers and diseases caused by narcotics, especially smoking. Therefore, it can at least be claimed that the harmful effects of smoking to human health vary based on the person and the situation. On this basis, some jurists have considered the extent of the forbiddance of narcotics to the level of absolute religious prohibition. Some other leaders have not seen the extent of the damage to the extent that could lead to an absolute ban on smoking. For example, if a person has heart disease and his doctor strictly forbids him from smoking, smoking is forbidden for him. (2)
Not only Imam Khomeini, but also Ayatollah* Makarem Shirazi said: It is forbidden to eat or drink something that is significantly harmful to human beings. Smoking cigarettes and other types of tobacco is also haram if it has significant harm, but the use of narcotics is absolutely haram (3), whether in the form of injection or smoking or eating or in any other ways; also the production, sale and assistance in spreading it, is forbidden. (3)
Grand Ayatollah Sistani gave guidance to Muslims in this matter: If smoking and tobacco -though in the future- causes significant harm to the body to the amount that is feared by the wise person, it is haram for being safe from the major harm caused by it. There is no problem with moderate smoking, however. (4)
As we think about this matter reasonably, we surely would understand an important point:
1. Why should we harm ourselves for a little mortal entertainment?
2. What price should we pay for this kind of entertainment?
Just think and you will see how important abstaining from narcotics is. Live safely in the light of the Quran.
- Majma Al-Masayel (third volume – page 65)
- Islamic Laws (Second volume – page 600)
- Jame Al-Masayel (First volume – page 578)
- Islamic Laws (Second volume – page 600)
- The official site of Ayatollah Sistani
* Ayatollah is an honorific title for high-ranking Twelver Shia clergy in Iran and Iraq that came into widespread usage in the 20th century.
At times of hardships over which we have no power, sometimes we find no remedy other than turning our face toward our Creator, the One who is aware of the manifest and the hidden. For sure, not everyone is able to endure difficulties and keep his/her faith; we might break easily and lose our hopes. However, those whose heart is dedicated to a Higher power and trust in His will find peace and hope in every difficult moment of their lives. Imam Sajjad (AS) is the perfect example of such people. His sincere worship to Allah at times when he was most distressed and under pressure, not only gave him the strength to deal with the problems but also left a legacy for generations after him to learn how to survive through putting trust in Allah.
In what follows, we will learn more about the life of this significant Muslim figure and a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
Ali ibn al-Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), known as Imam Sajjad (AS) and Imam Zayn al-Abidin (AS), is the son of Imam Hussain (AS) and Shahrbanu, the daughter of Yazdgerd, king of Persia . He is the fourth Imam of Shias. He was born on January 6, 659 A.D in Medina. He had many children, the most famous among whom was Muhammad al-Baqir (AS), the fifth Imam of Shias.
After being invited by Kufa people to help them rise against their tyrant ruler, Imam Hussain (AS) and his family, including Imam Sajjad (AS), set on a journey from Mecca toward Kufa, today's Iraq. On their way, Imam Sajjad (AS) was inflicted with high fever and became severely ill. His illness became even worse on the day of the battle of Karbala, to which Imam Hussain (AS) was forced, and couldn't even stand on his feet.
However, he constantly got the news of the events on the battlefield from his aunt, Lady Zaynab (AS), and others. When all of Imam Hussain's (AS) companion got martyred, he tried to guide Yazid's army one last time and called out: "Is there anyone who would defend Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) progeny? Is there anyone who would worship the one and only Allah, who would fear Him and be on our side? And is there anyone who would help us for the sake of Allah?" On hearing this touching words of his father, Imam Sajjad (AS) got up from his sickbed with all his remaining strength, hold out to his walking stick, and started for the battlefield to help his father despite his severe condition. However, when Imam Hussain (AS) saw him, urged Lady Zainab (AS) to take him back to the tents so that he wouldn't get martyred like others and preserve the legacy of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) progeny.
After Imam Hussain's (AS) martyrdom, Imam Sajjad (AS) along with lady Zaynab (AS) and other children and women from Imam Hussain's (AS) camp were treated utterly disrespectfully by Yazid's army and taken as captives. It's been said that since Imam Sajjad (AS) was ill and unable to sit on the camel, he was tied to it while in the chain. They were then transferred to Kufa.
When they reached Kufa, to belittle them more, Yazid's soldier took them right in the middle of the town and in front of people to witness their pitiful condition. However, Imam Sajjad (AS), despite his bodily weakness, found it the best chance to talk to people and inform them of what had befallen on them. He then stood in front of people and invited them to silence. First, he praised Allah and His Prophet (PBUH&HP). And then gave this moving speech:
"O' people! For the ones who don't know me, I should say that I am Ali, son of Hussain (AS), who was martyred beside the Euphrates, without being guilty of any crime from which he would be taken revenge, I am the son of the one who has been dishonored, whose property has been plundered and whose wife and children were taken as captives, I am the son of the one who has been killed painfully, yet we are honored and proud. O' people! Do you remember the letters you have sent to my father and deceived him, then took an oath of allegiance with him, yet went into war with him and left him alone? Woe to you! What have you stored [for your afterlife]! How would you face Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) when he enquires: "Did you kill my progeny and dishonor me? Aren't you my Ummah (followers)?" 
People were ashamed and wanted to make promises to Imam Sajjad (AS), yet he didn't accept their oaths. Then, they were taken to Ubayd Allah b. Ziyad's [i] palace. He first meant to kill Imam Sajjad (AS); however, with lady Zainab's (AS) strives, he changed his mind. After some days, by order of Ibn Ziyad, they were transferred to Damascus. They had a tough time in this city and were kept in the ruins of Damascus. Once, they attended Yazid's palace, where Imam Sajjad (AS) gave another persuasive speech in defense of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) progeny. He introduced himself, his father, and his grandfather to people and told the people of Damascus that what Yazid and his agents have propagated are not valid. His father was not a rebel and did not want to disturb the Muslim community and make mischief in Islamic lands. He rose for truth and by invitation of Muslims to remove heresies brought up in religion and bring the simplicity and purity it had at the time of his grandfather. This speech proved the rightfulness of Imam Hussain (AS) and his movement at the face of Yazid's corrupt rule .
The leadership of Imam al-Sajjad (AS) began after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) on the day of Ashura and lasted for 34 or 35 years. During this time, the Islamic society, as the result of the corrupt governing system, was full of injustices and went totally against the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
Being fully aware of the dire social and political conditions of the society, Imam Sajjad (AS) knew very well that he couldn't overtly invite people toward truthfulness and rise against the false strategies of the ruling government. Therefore, he chose to follow a wise and discreet policy in fighting against the oppression in society. Also, he meant to preserve the invaluable legacy left to him by his fathers and pass it safely to the following generations.
To this purpose, he made perfect use of indirect ways of teaching people and informing them of the vices which prevailed in the society. Praying was one of these strategies. Through his famous prayers to which we have access in Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya, he not only taught people about how to connect with Allah and trust Him in helping them to overcome their problems but also posed his opposition against the present situation.
Moreover, despite severe pressures of the government of the time, Imam Sajjad (AS) managed to train some Islamic scholars to whom he transferred the knowledge he inherited from his fathers and the words and deeds of his great grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his true teachings.
As his name suggests, Imam Sajjad (AS) was one of the most ardent worshippers of Allah after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). He used to pray thousands of Rak'as of Salat in a matter of a day, which made him prostrate very much; thus, he is called Sajjad, meaning the person who prostrates much . His prayers and supplications recorded in Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya were sincere and straightforward, which made them even more touching and impressive. Through these prayers, he revealed the perfect manner of calling out to Allah and finding our way to Him in every breath and whatever difficulty we are dealing with. Also, he used his prayers to covertly show his opposition against the tyrants of his time and make people aware of the situation.
Imam Sajjad (AS) following his father, Imam Hussain (AS), grandfather, Imam Ali (AS), and great grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), was fully observant of his manner toward people and treated them with his unbound compassion and generosity. Many accounts narrate this singular attitude of Imam Sajjad (AS) in his social and personal life.
For instance, once he was riding on his horse when he saw a group of lepers who were eating breakfast. When they saw Imam Sajjad (AS), they invited him to join them. Imam Sajjad (AS) said: "I would be glad to eat with you if I weren't fasting." As soon as he reached his house, he ordered his servants to cook some good food of the best things they had. Then he invited all those lepers to his house and joined them to eat dinner together .
In another account, it's been said that he used to fast during the day and cooked food himself while fasting. Then he would divide all the food among people and break his fast with some bread and dates .
His forgiving and humble character is recounted in many narrations, which reveals him to be the best role model for all humankind. In one instance, one of Imam Sajjad's (AS) adversaries insulted and cursed Imam in front of other people. Imam's servants came to punish the one who offended him, yet Imam ordered them to leave him alone, saying, "there is something more behind his manner toward us." Then he addressed the man and said, "Is there anything you need?" the man felt ashamed and didn't answer. Imam gave his own clothes to him and ordered to provide him with a hundred Dirhams. The man feeling regretful called out, "I witness that you are the son of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)." The same thing happened again with one of Imam Sajjad's (AS) relatives who met Imam and insulted him. Imam (AS) didn't answer him at the time. Then he went to his relative's house and while the man was expecting to get an angry response from Imam (AS), heard him saying, "My dear brother, a few minutes ago you stood in front of me and told whatever you wanted. Now, if what you said about me is true, then I seek pardon from Allah and ask for His forgiveness, and if what you said is not true about me, then I pray for you to be forgiven by Allah." The man became utterly ashamed and expressed his regret for accusing Imam Sajjad (AS) falsely .
He was also very famous for his secret charities to the people in need, many of whom found out about this unknown helper just after his martyrdom. He used to put a bag full of bread on his back and carry it to give out to the poor at night. It is narrated that he would gather whatever food remained in his own house, covered his face, and gave them all to the destitute of Medina .
Imam Sajjad (AS) was one of the most knowledgeable and learned personalities of his time. Muhammad ibn Muslim al-Zuhri, one of the Islamic scholars, said about him, "I found no Hashemite [ii] greater or more knowledgeable than him in fiqh [iii]." He was an expert in all the matters of his time and had access to the sciences, which wasn't available to the majority of people.
The legacy of Imam Sajjad (AS) had preserved through the centuries by the books compiled by the Islamic scholars from his supplications and prayers. The two most well-known of these books are Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya and Risalat al-huquq (Treatise on Rights).
Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya is the collection of Imam Sajjad's (AS) supplications, which also reflects the social status at that time, especially in Medina. The supplications present "his aversion to bad behaviors and speech of people at that time, taking refuge to God from what he saw and heard and clarifying the right path under the guidance of religion and the Quran and purification of souls from pollutions". This book has been translated into several languages.
Risalat al-huquq is the title of a lengthy narration from Imam Sajjad (AS) compiled as a book. "This narration, which contains over 50 duties of any individual toward others, is, in fact, a treatise on moral conduct in both personal and social life. The rights discussed in this treatise address various social relations of any individual, like the duties toward parents, spouse, children, neighbors, teachers, students, believers, the leader of Congregational Prayer, the government, etc. Because of the particular position and the comprehensive content, several translations and commentaries have been written on this treatise" .
Imam Sajjad (AS) was martyred in 713 or 714 A.D. with a poison given by order of al-Walid b. 'Abd al-Malik . He (AS) was buried in al-Baqi cemetery in Medina beside his uncle, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (AS) .
Finally, looking at the fruitful life of Imam Sajjad (AS), one can find the perfect path toward pure humanity. The path offered to us by Allah, which, despite having its own challenges, leads us to the fullest and most meaningful experience of this short life. The leaders are our guiding lights that shine through the darkness of our confusions and fluctuations, show us the way to prosperity, and grant us the opportunity to find Allah in every moment of our lives.
[i] The famous Umayyad commander, the governor of Kufa at the time of the Tragedy of 'Ashura and one of the key persons in the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions.
[ii] A famous clan in Medina from which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his progeny are descended.
[iii] An Islamic science through which practical laws and religious duties of a person in his life are studied.
- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida, vol. 2 p. 128.
- imam Sajjad (AS)
- Shadidi, Sayyid Ja'far. Zindigani 'Ali b. al-Husayn. p.75.
- Dhahabi, Muhammad b. Ahmad al-. Al-'Ibar fi khabar, vol. 1, p. 83.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, Kitab al-Kafi, vol.2, p.123.
- Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi, Al-Mahasin, vol.2, p.396.
- Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, vol.3, p.296.
- Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, vol.2, p.145.
- Ibn Shahr Ashub, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, vol.3, p.292-3.
- Dhahabi, Muhammad al-. Tadhkirat l-huffaz, vol. 1, p.75.
- imam Sajjad
- Mas'udi, 'Ali b. Husayn al-. Muruj al-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawhar, vol. 3, p. 160.
- Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, vol.3, p.160.