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Love for the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt in the Qur'an and Sunnah
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The cultivation of love and affection for the Prophet and his family is one of the principles of Islam, stressed by both the Qur'an and the Sunna. The Qur'an says in this connection:

Say, [O Muhammad], "If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. (Sura al-Tawba, 9:24)

In another verse, it says:

... So they who have believed in him (the Prophet), honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful. (Siira al-A'raf, 7:157)

In this verse God refers to the successful as having four special features: (a) believing in the Prophet; (b) honouring and revering him; (c) helping him; and (d) following the light (that is, the Qur'an) that was revealed with him.
Taking note of' the fact that helping the Prophet comes third in this list, it is altogether clear that honouring him, which is the same as venerating him, cannot be restricted in time to the period of his life, just as believing in him, also mentioned in this verse, cannot have any such restriction.

In this verse God refers to the successful as having four special features: (a) believing in the Prophet; (b) honouring and revering him; (c) helping him; and (d) following the light (that is, the Qur'an) that was revealed with him. Taking note of' the fact that helping the Prophet comes third in this list, it is altogether clear that honouring him, which is the same as venerating him, cannot be restricted in time to the period of his life, just as believing in him, also mentioned in this verse, cannot have any such restriction.

As regards loving his family, it suffices to note that the Qur'an establishes this as a 'reward' that believers owe him for the fact of having received from him the prophetic message (of course, it is given in the form of a reward and is not a reward in the strict sense), saying: 

Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives;  (Sura al-Shura, 42:23)

As regards loving his family, it suffices to note that the Qur'an establishes this as a 'reward' that believers owe him for the fact of having received from him the prophetic message (of course, it is given in the form of a reward and is not a reward in the strict sense), saying:  Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives;  (Sura al-Shura, 42:23)

The principle of loving and honouring the Prophet is not only found in the Qur'an, it is also stressed in the hadiths, two of which we mention below:
1. The Prophet said:

'Not one of you is a believer until I am more beloved unto him than his own children and all of mankind together. '[1]

2. Another hadith says:

'There are three things which show that one has truly tasted the food of faith: that there is nothing more beloved to one than God and His Prophet; that being burned in the Fire is deemed preferable to forsaking his religion; that one loves and hates [only] for [the sake of] God.'[2]

Loving the family of the Prophet has been stressed also in hadiths, some of which we mention below:
1. The Prophet said:

'A slave [of God] is not a believer unless I am more beloved to him than his own soul; and my descendants are more beloved to him than his own descendants; and my family is more beloved to him than his own family. '[3]

2. In another hadith, he says this as regards loving his descendants:

' Whoever loves them, loves God, and whoever hates them, hates God.' [4]

Benefits of having love for the Prophet and his Ahlulbayt 

Up to now, we have been considering the reasons for the principle of loving the Prophet and his descendants; now the following questions may be posed: (a) What benefit is derived for the umma from loving the Prophet and his descendants? (b) In what manner should the Prophet and his family be revered and loved?
As regards the first question, let us recall that love for a person of perfect virtue is itself a ladder leading one up to perfection; whenever someone loves a person with all his heart, he makes an effort to emulate him, to do whatever would bring happiness to that person, and to renounce whatever would grieve him.
It goes without saying that such a predisposition is a source of transformation, keeping one continuously upon the path of obedience, and ever vigilant against sin. One who verbally expresses love for a person, but whose actions oppose the beloved, is devoid of true love.

love for a person of perfect virtue is itself a ladder leading one up to perfection; whenever someone loves a person with all his heart, he makes an effort to emulate him, to do whatever would bring happiness to that person, and to renounce whatever would grieve him. It goes without saying that such a predisposition is a source of transformation, keeping one continuously upon the path of obedience, and ever vigilant against sin. One who verbally expresses love for a person, but whose actions oppose the beloved, is devoid of true love.

The following lines of poetry attributed to Imam Sadiq allude to this point:

You disobey God while claiming to love Him; I swear by my soul; this is indeed bizarre.
If the lover is truthful, he obeys the Beloved and from His path would never stray far.[5]

Manner of having love for the Prophet and his Ahlulbayt

Having brought to light some of the fruits of loving the Prophet and his family, we must now address the question of the manner in which this love should be manifested. Evidently, the substance of inward love cannot be completely deprived of some outward radiance of that love in action; rather, one of the aims of affection is that in one's speech and action there be a harmonious echo of that affection.
There can be no doubt that one of the ways in which love of the Prophet and his family radiates is through emulating them in action, as has been mentioned; but as for the other modes of radiance of this state, they can be summed up as follows: Those who express any speech or action that is universally understood as being a sign of such love and is an honourable means of manifesting it, will be regarded as acting in conformity with the principle of love of the Prophet, on condition that the means by which the Prophet is revered be in accordance with the law and not in violation of it.
Therefore, the honouring of the Prophet and his family, especially on such occasions as their birthdays and the days commemorating their death, is one of the means by which the love and esteem we have for their spiritual rank and station can be given expression. Decorating the streets on the occasion, of the birthday of the Prophet, the lighting of candles, the flying of flags, the holding of religious gatherings for the sake of recalling the virtues and excellences of the Holy Prophet or of his family ¬all these are to be counted as signs of love for these personages, and channels through which this love flows. This affectionate means of glorifying the Prophet on the occasion of his birthday is now a strongly established tradition among most, if not all Muslims.

The honouring of the Prophet and his family, especially on such occasions as their birthdays and the days commemorating their death, is one of the means by which the love and esteem we have for their spiritual rank and station can be given expression. Decorating the streets on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet, the lighting of candles, the flying of flags, the holding of religious gatherings for the sake of recalling the virtues and excellence of the Holy Prophet or of his family, all these are to be counted as signs of love for these personages, and channels through which this love flows.

Diyar Bakri writes as follows:

'The Muslims always celebrate the month in which the Holy Prophet was born, honouring his birth¬day by holding celebrations, feeding and giving alms to the poor, expressing great joy, telling the story of his birth: how many wonders are brought for them at this time! '[6]

An identical description is given by another scholar, by the name of Ahmad b. Muhammad Qastallani in his book.[7]

Mourning of Religious Leaders

From what has been said, the philosophy behind mourning the death of religious leaders will be clear; for any kind of gathering held to commemorate the afflictions and tribulations of these personages is an expression of love and affection for them. If Jacob mourned for long years at the loss of his beloved Joseph,[8] weeping profusely, the root of this emotion was the depth of the love he had for his son. In this light one can more readily understand why those who bear love for the family of the Prophet should weep and shed tears on the days commemorating their death. They are but following the example of the Prophet Jacob.
In principle, the establishment of gatherings for bereavement of dear ones goes back to an action performed by the Prophet himself. When he noticed, after the Battle of Uhud, that women were mourning the loss of their martyrs among the Ansar [ the Medinan Helpers' of the Prophet], he fell to thinking of the loss of his magnanimous uncle, and said: 'But nobody is crying for Hamza, '[9] When the companions of the Prophet sensed that the Prophet's wish was for his uncle to be mourned, they instructed their wives to organize a session of mourning for him. The session took place, and the Prophet, out of appreciation for this expression of compassion from the mourners, made a prayer on their behalf: May God have mercy on the Ansar. Then he asked the leaders of the Ansar to tell their womenfolk to return to their homes.[10]

mourning for those martyred in the path of God has a 'philosophical' underpinning: maintaining the grandeur of such persons is a means of preserving their school of thought, thereby upholding the perspective which is founded upon sacrifice for the sake of religion, and upon the ideal of refusing to submit to humiliation and disgrace. The logic of this perspective is summed up thus: 'A red death is better than a humiliating life.' In every gathering of 'Ashura', the tenth day of the month of Muharram, commemorating the martyrdom of lmam Husayn, this logic is revived, and entire nations have learnt and continue to learn a great lesson from his supreme act of self-sacrifice.

In addition, mourning for those martyred in the path of God has a 'philosophical' underpinning: maintaining the grandeur of such persons is a means of preserving their school of thought, thereby upholding the perspective which is founded upon sacrifice for the sake of religion, and upon the ideal of refusing to submit to humiliation and disgrace. The logic of this perspective is summed up thus: 'A red death is better than a humiliating life.' In every gathering of 'Ashura', the tenth day of the month of Muharram, commemorating the martyrdom of lmam Husayn, this logic is revived, and entire nations have learnt and continue to learn a great lesson from his supreme act of self-sacrifice.

1. al-Hindi, Kanz al-'ummal vol. 1, hadith nos 70, 72; lbn Athir,Jami' al-usul; vol. 1 , p. 2 38.
2. Ibid.
3. Hafid Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kufi, Manaqib al-Imam Amir al¬Mu'minin (Qom, 1412/1991), vol. 2, hadith no. 619,700; al-Majlisi, Biharr al-anwar, vol. 17, p. 13; Shaykh Saduq, 'llal al-sharayi' (Beirut, 1966), ch. 117, hadith no. 3.
4. Ibid.
5. Cited by 'Abbas al-Qummi, Safinat al-biharr (Qom, 1416/1995), vol. 1, p. 199.
6. Husayn b. Muhammad Diyar Bakri, Ta'rikh al-kham'is fi ahwal anfus nafis (Beirut, n.d.), vol. 1, p. 223.
7. Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Qastallani, al-Mawahib al-laduniyya (Bei¬rut,_ 1412/1991 ), vol. 21, p. 27.
8. Sura Yusuf,:184.
9. lbn Hisham, Sira, vol. 1, p. 99.
10. Ibid, See also Ahmad b. 'Ali al-Maqrizi, Imta al-asma' (Cairo, 1981 ) , vol. 11, p. 1 64.

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الإخْوانُ في اللّهِ تعالى تَدُومُ مَودّتُهُم، لِدَوامِ سَبَبِها.
Brothers [whose brotherhood is] for the sake of Allah, enjoy an enduring Amity, due to the firmness of its foundation