Short wonderful maxims were reported on the authority of Ima`m Abu` Ja'far (al-Ba`qir), peace be on him. They are full of noble morals and are useful. The following maxims are some of them.
1. He, peace be on him, said: "If you can deal with anyone and do him a favor, do that."
2. He, peace be on him, said: "Flatter the hypocrite with your tongue. Make your love sincere to the believer. When a Jew associates with you, associate well with him. 3. He, peace be on him, said: "Nothing is mixed with a thing better than (mixing) clemency with knowledge. 4. He, peace be on him, said: "Assume the truth. Leave that which does not concern you. Avoid your enemy. Be careful of your friends except the trusty one who fears Allah. Do not make friends with the sinner. Do not inform him of your secrets. Ask the advice of those who fear Allah. 5. He, peace be on him, said: "The friendship of twenty years is kinship. 6. He, peace be on him, said: "The decree of Allah is good for the believer. 7. He, peace be on him, said: "He for whom Allah does not make a preacher from his own self, the preaching of people do not avail him." 8. He, peace be on him, said: "He whose outward (deeds) are heavier than his inward (deeds), his scales are light. 9. He, peace be on him, said: "How many a person meets a person and says to him: may Allah ruin your enemy, and he has no enemy except Allah. 10. He, peace be on him, said: "He who disobeys Allah does not recognize Him." Then the Ima`m composed: Do you disobey the Lord and show your love (for Him)? By your life, this is an innovation among deeds. If your love was truthful, you would obey him. Indeed the lover obeys him whom he loves. 11. He, peace be on him, said: "The need with the one who has recently gotten property is like the dirham in the mouth of the snake. You need him, and you are in danger. 12. He, peace be on him, said: "Know the love in the heart of your brother through what he has in your heart. 13. He, peace be on him, said: "Faith is love and hatred." 14. He, peace be on him, said: "Four (acts) are among the treasures of kindness: Concealing the need, concealing the alms, concealing the pain, and concealing, the misfortune. 15. He, peace be on him, said: "He whose tongue is truthful, his acts grow. He whose intention is good, his daily-bread increases. He whose kindness to his family is good, Allah prolongs his life. 16. He, peace be on him, said: "Whoever gets a brother in Allah in addition to faith in Allah and faithfulness to his brotherhood seeking Allah's pleasure gets a ray from Allah's light, safety from the punishment of Allah, a pilgrimage (to Mecca) through which he will be successful on the Day of Judgment, everlasting honor, and increasing reputation. That is because the believer is neither mawsool nor mafsool from Allah, the Great and Almighty."He was asked: "What is the meaning of mawsool and mafsool?"He, peace be on him, replied: "Mawsool meaning the believer is not connected to (Allah). Mafsool meaning the believer is not separated from (Allah). 17. He, peace be on him, said: "It is sufficient cheat for the person is that he sees from the people the vague affair of his own soul. Or he finds faults with other than him through what he cannot leave. Or he hurts his friend through that which does not concern him. 18. He, peace be on him, said: "Humbleness is that you should be satisfied with the humble sitting-place, that you should greet whomever you meet, and that you should leave the dispute even if you are right." 19. He, peace be on him, said: "The believer is the brother of the believer. So, he should not abuse him nor should he deprive him (of his rights) nor should he doubt him." 20. He, peace be on him, said: "He to whom clumsiness is apportioned, faith is veiled from him. 21. He, peace be on him, said: "Indeed Allah has punishments in the hearts, the bodies, the daily-bread, and the worship. However, the cruelty of the heart is the most intense punishment. 22. He, peace be on him, said: "On the Judgment Day, a caller will call: 'Where are al-Sa`biru`n (the patient)?' So, a group of people will rise. Then a caller will call : 'Where are al-Mutasabbiru`n?' Thus, a group of people will rise."He was asked: "Who are al-Sa`biru`n and al-Mutasabbiru`n?"He, peace be on him, replied: "Al-Sa`biru`n are those who are patient with performing the religious duties. Al-Mutasabbiru`n are those who are patient with the prohibitions. 23. He, peace be on him, said: "Allah says: 'O Son of Adam, refrain from what I have prohibited, so you are the most pious of all people.' 24. He, peace be on him, said: "The best worship is the abstinence of the private parts and the abdomen. 25. He, peace be on him, said: "Modesty and faith are coupled with each other. If one of them goes away, the other will follow it. 26. He, peace be on him, said: "Allah gives this world to both the righteous and the sinners. However, He gives this religion to His close friends only. 27. He, peace be on him, said: Allah gives the world to those whom He loves and those whom He detests. However, He gives religion to those whom He loves only. 28. He, peace be on him, said: "If the beggar knew what was in begging, he would never beg anyone. If the begged one knew was in prevention, he would never prevent anybody. 29. He, peace be on him, said: "Some blessed rich servants belong to Allah. They associate with people. People live under their wing. Some wicked servants belong to Allah. They do not associate with people. People do not live under their protection. They are like grass -hoppers. 30. He, peace be on him, said: "Allah likes spreading greetings. 31. He, peace be on him, said: "Everything has a catastrophe. The catastrophe of knowledge is forgetfulness. 32. He, peace be on him, said: "O Allah, help with the world through riches, and with the hereafter through piety. 33. He, peace be on him, said: "The person increases in opinion when he gives sincere advice. 34. He, peace be on him, said: "The weapon of the ignoble person is ugly words. A poet composed this wonderful maxim, saying: Al-Ba`qir al-Murtada`, the descendant of the Ima`m, peace be on him, was truthful when he said: "Ugly words are the weapon of the ignoble. 35. He, peace be on him, said: "Thunderbolt strikes the believer and the unbelievers. However, it does not strike the person who praises (Allah). 36. He, peace be on him, said: "The best deeds are three: Praising Allah in all conditions, treating people with justice, and giving the friend money. 37. He, peace be on him, said: "Regard the good deed as small. Do it quickly, and conceal it. 38. He, peace be on him, said: "In the Sunna (the Prophet's practices) and the religion, it is not an act of truthfulness to turn away from the generous. 39. He, peace be on him, said: "How wonderful good deeds are after evil deeds! How shameful evil deeds are after good deeds! 40. He, peace be on him, said: "The person may earn money through four (sources). They are unfaithful act, usury, treason, and theft. Such money is not accepted in four (acts). They are zakat, alms, pilgrimage (to Mecca), and omra. 41. He, peace be on him, said: "Allah, the Great and Almighty, refuses to accept the pilgrimage and omra performed through ill-gotten gains. 42. He, peace be on him, said: "He whose outward (deeds) are heavier than his inward (deeds), his balance is light. 43. He, peace be on him, said: "Lying destroys faith. 44. He, peace be on him, said: "I had a companion. The companion regarded the world as small. Thus, I regarded him as great. 45. He, peace be on him, said to his companions: "Do you enter your hands in the bags of your companions and take what you want?""No,"they replied. "You are not our companions as you say,"he, peace be on him, explained. 46. He, peace be on him, said: "Kindness may make the father go to extremes. This is the worst father. Negligence may make the child disobey (his parents). Such a child is the worst. 47. He, peace be on him, said: "Preach to your companions, and respect them. Do not attack each other. 48. He, peace be on him, said: "Sins make misfortunes strike the servant. 49. He, peace be on him, said: "Allah decreed that He would not take the blessing He bestowed on the servant. However, when the servant commits a sin, he is worthy of the adversity. 50. He, peace be on him, said: "If there is no love in my heart for the saints of Allah and no hatred for His enemies, nothing will avail me, even if I fast throughout the day, pray throughout the night, and spend all my money for Allah. 51. Zarara asked Ima`m Abu` Ja'far (al-Ba`qir), peace be on him: "What is the meaning of al-Hanafiya?"He, peace be on him, replied: "It is the nature Allah has created in men. He has created it in them to make them recognize Him. 52. Ima`m Abu` Ja'far was asked: "Is there a thing better than gold?"He, peace be on him, answered: "Yes, the one who gives it. 53. He, peace be on him, said: "The tribulation of the people against us is burdensome. When we ask them (to follow us), they do not respond to us. When we leave them, they do not follow other than us. 54. He, peace be on him, said: "The chasteness of the abdomen and private parts is the best (quality) through which Allah is worshipped. 55. He, peace be on him, said: "Be patient towards misfortunes. Do not transgress(Allah's) rights. Do not give the person a thing that harms you more than it avails you. 56. He, peace be on him, said: "Our followers obey Allah. 57. He, peace be on him, said: "The friend may take care of you when you are rich, and abandon you when you are poor. How bad such a friend is! 58. He, peace be on him, said: "Kindness to friends is the best help in the world. 59. He, peace be on him, said: "Whomever is given ethics and kindness is given good and rest. Besides His state is good here and the hereafter. Whomever is deprived of them, that will be a way to evil and tribulations, except him whom Allah protects. 60. He, peace be on him, said: "Allah (sometimes) makes a person recognize the truth. So, the person can remain on the top of a mountain. He can eat from the plants of the earth till death comes to him. Still, he faces no problem. 61. He, peace be on him, was asked: "The people of the garden will enter the garden through their deeds. Will Allah release (some people) from the Fire?""Surely, Allah will release (some people) from the Fire,"he replied.2 62. He, peace be on him, said: "He who has no precautionary dissimulation has no good. 63. He, peace be on him, said: "If you want to know that you have good, consider carefully your heart. Does your heart love obedience to Allah? Does it detest the disobedience to Him? If it is so, you have good and Allah loves you. Does it detest the obedience to Allah? Does it love the disobedience to Him? If it is so, you have no good and Allah detests you. The person is with his lover. 64. He, peace be on him, said: "Among the steps of Satan are the oath for divorce, the vow for sins, and the swearing by other than Allah, the Exalted. 65. He, peace be on him, said: "When the abdomen is full, (the person) becomes tyrannical. 66. He, peace be on him, said: "Allah detests the full abdomen. 67. He, peace be on him, said: "Whoever seeks the world to be chaste with the people, to maintain his family, and to help his neighbor, will meet Allah, the Great and Almighty, and his face will be like the full moon. 68. He, peace be on him, said: "Our talk is difficult. It is difficult (for people) to understand it. No one bears it except a close angel or a prophet or a servant whose heart Allah has tested for faith. 69. He, peace be on him, said: "I hate the person whose words are more than his knowledge. I also hate the person whose knowledge is more than his reason.
References: 1) Tuhaf al-'Uqul 2) Al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya 3) Al-Bayan wa al-Tibiyyin 4) Ibn Qutayba, 'Ayun al-Akhbar 5) Hulyat al-Auliya' 6) Al-Akhbar al-Muwaffaqiyat 7) Al-Saduq, al-Amali 8) Usul al-Kafi 9) Mirr'at al-Jinan 10) Safwat al-Safwa 11) Bihar al-Anwar 12) A'lam al-Wara 13) Jami' al-Sa'adat 14) Ahmed bin Fahad al-Hilli, al-Tahsin 15) Al-Durr al-Nazim 16) 'Ilal al-Sharai' 17) Majma' al-Bayan.
Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir) researched many theological matters during his lectures. He was asked about the most complicated matters in this science. He answered them. Worth mentioning, the time of the Imam was the most sensitive of all the times. That is because the Islamic conquer included most areas of the world and the peoples of the earth. That moved a wave of spite in the souls of the enemies of Islam, from the helpless peoples and other than them. Thus, they launched a propagating campaign against the Islamic thought. They proclaimed doubts and imaginations among the children of the Moslems. Meanwhile the Umayyad governments encouraged anti-Islam thoughts. No one has mentioned that the Umayyad rulers resisted these thoughts and prevented them from spreading among the Moslems. In the meantime nobody was ready to save the Moslems from these thoughts except Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him, who refuted them with strong proofs. We will mention that in detail when we talk about the time of the Imam.
However, the following are some of the theological researches which the Imam did:
Monotheism Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him, studied the most important matters of monotheism. He uncovered them. He refuted the doubts and imaginations which were raised about them. Among what he studied are:
1. Allah is not attained through Reason The unquestionable thing is that man is unable to know with all his intellectual the reality of Allah, for reason has limited imaginations. Al-Sha`fi'i said: "Indeed reason has a limited end as the eye has. All things which man senses are found at a certain place and time. Reason cannot imagine beings without a place or things without time. Thus, reason is unable to attain the reality of Allah, for neither time nor place can encompass it. In other words, Allah created the time and the place. Besides reason is unable to understand the reality of many things in the universe. Among them is the unseen reality which reason has not understood yet. The conceptualization of the heart, though it has vast imagination, is unable to attain the essence of Allah. The eye is unable to attain it, too. Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him, stated that when he was asked about these words of Allah, the Exalted: "The eyes attain Him not, but He attains the eyes. ( The Holy Quran, al-An'am, 203) He, peace be on him: "The conceptualization of hearts are keener and sharper than the perceptions of the eyes. Through the conceptualization of the heart you can perceive countries like Sind, Hind (India) and other cities which you have never visited, although you have not seen them with your eyes. How can your eyes see Him when the conceptualization of your heart cannot attain Him? Indeed the eye shall come back confused and fatigued when it tries to perceive the essence of Allah, the Most High, the Creator of the cosmos, and giver of life. Ibn Abi al-Haddid said: O Miracle of the cosmos, thinking has become unsound concerning You. Whenever my thinking moves toward You a span of the hand, it escapes for a mile. You have perplexed men of understanding and confused intellect.(Sharh Nahjul-Balagha, vol. 13, p. 51) There is nothing remoter than attaining the essence of Allah, the Exalted, for reason is unable to attain it. Thus, 'Abd al-Rahma`n b. Abi al-Najra`n asked Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him, about Allah, the Most High. He said: "Should I think of anything (to understand Allah)?"The Imam, peace be on him, replied: "Yes, but you have to imagine a thing which the mind cannot contain and which is without limit. He is unlike whatever comes into your mind. Nothing resembles Him nor can any thought reach Him. How can He be perceived when He is totally different from whatever is conceived and is the reverse of whatever is imagined. (Because Allah cannot be limited through the limitations of the mind or the senses.) Certainly, the thing which cannot be encompassed by the mind and which is without limits is that which should be imagined.( Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 82)
2.The Eternity of the Necessary Being
As for the Eternity of the Necessary Being, it is among the keenest theological and philosophical studies. A man asked Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him: "Tell me from when your Lord has been in existence?"The Imam replied: "Woe unto You! The question when and how long arises only in respect of things that (previously) were non-existant. Verily, my lord, the Blessed and Exalted, has always been Ever-living, without time or modality. Coming into existence does not apply to Him Who exists eternally nor does 'how He exists' apply to His existence nor does 'where He exists' apply to him, for He is neither in a thing nor on a thing. He did not invent a place for His location, nor was there any enhancement in His might after He had created the universe, nor had He been weak before its creation, nor was He alone before His act of creation, nor does He resemble anything that can be remembered, nor was He without dominion before creating the universe, nor will He be bereft of dominion after the universe passes away. He is Ever-living, Self-subsisting, the Almighty Lord without the category of life. He was the Almighty Lord before creating things, and He is the Absolute Lord after the creation of the universe. None of the categories of 'how' or 'where' or 'when' or 'how much' nor any 'limit' apply to his existence. He is not recognized by resemblance with anything nor does He become decrepit due to His endless existence. Nothing can strike awe in Him. Rather, all things are awe-struck by fearing Him. He was in existence before the appearance of life as such. Neither is He in existence such as can be described, nor can it be confined to any state and condition. He does not rest anywhere nor does He abide at a place that is in the neighborhood of another place. However, He is known as Living, the Lord whose might and dominion will never end. He has created of His own will whatever and whenever He desired. He can neither be confined, nor fractioned, nor can He be destroyed. He is the First without any modality and the Last without any space.'And all things are perishable except His face.'His are the creation and the command. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of all beings. O Questioner, woe unto you! Surely, my Lord can never be encompassed by the imagination. Doubts cannot descend upon him. Nor can He be affected (by anything). Nor is He anybody's neighbor. Nor can events happen to Him. He can neither be questioned about anything nor is He ashamed of anything. 'Slumber seize Him not, neither sleep.'To Him belong all that is in the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and all that is underneath the soil. ( Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 88-89) This wonderful paragraph of the speech of the great Imam has encompassed the eternity of the Necessary Being and His Unity. It has deemed Him far above comparison with His creatures which genus and species limit, and which are in need of the cause in their existence and non-existence. Moreover, they are in need of time and place. Allah is far above all that, for He is the first and the last, outward and inward, and He knows all things. A researcher asked the Imam: "Who is Allah?" He replied: "The One and Only." It was said to him: "How is He?" He answered: "He is a Powerful King." It was said to him: "Where is He?" He replied: "He is watching." So, the researcher said: "I am not asking you about this." He said: "These are the attributes of Allah. Other than them are the attributes of creatures. They wanted to know the essence of Allah through their senses and reason. They did not know that He was far above what reason attains and what conceptualization perceives. There is no god but He, the Ever living, the Self-subsisting. However, in this speech, the Imam, peace be on him, discussed the most important theological matters which no one of the Moslem theologians and philosopher had discussed before him except his grandfather Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, peace be on him. As for encompassing and explaining the speech of the Imam, peace be on him, it needs a detailed study. The Moslem philosophers have taken care of the points which the Imam has mentioned in his speech. They have produced evidence in support of them.
3. Talking about the Essence of Allah is forbidden Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him, prevented Moslems from talking about the essence of Allah, the Most High. That is because that depends on a deep philosophy which the reason of the simple people is unable to understand. In other words they have little knowledge. Thus, they fall into the tricks of the Satan. Then they go out of belief and come into polytheism. In this connection the Imam, peace be on him, said: "Talk about all things, but do not talk about the essence of Allah.(Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 29) He, peace be on him, said: "Talk about the creation of Allah, but do not talk about Allah Himself, for that increases the owner of the talk nothing except perplexity.(Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 29) Indeed talking about the essence of Allah increases man nothing except perplexity and throwing destructive manners and doubts. As for thinking of the creation of Allah and considering carefully the universe, they will lead man to belief in Allah. That is because the creation of all creature indicates the Great Creator. Darwin said: "It seems that all the creatures that live in the earth belong to one eternal shape. The Creator has breathed life into them. ( Al-Nishu' wa al-Irtiqa', p. 47) It is false to say that chance has created all these worlds. It is impossible for chance to find a well-woven regulation that depends on knowledge. Why does chance not create the plane and modern sets which thinking and science have found?
4. The Knowledge of Allah The knowledge of Allah has encompassed all things. The knowledge of Allah is the same before and after the creation of things. That is because He has created them. He knows what souls and hearts have. Mohammed b. Moslem reported on the authority of Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him, who said: "Allah, the Great and Almighty, was there when nothing else existed. He has been eternally knowing whatever come into being. And His knowledge of a thing before it comes into being is exactly the same as it is after its being. (Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 107)
5. The Essence of Monotheism Ja`bir b. Yazid al-Ju'fi asked Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on him, to teach him something of monotheism. So, he, peace be on him, said: Indeed Allah, whose names are blessed and Who is Exalted in the transcendence of His Essence, is the One (the only One). He is unique in Oneness, and He attributed Oneness to Himself when He was alone. Then, He made His Unity evidently known to His creatures. Thus, Allah is One, Unique, Self-dependent, and All-holy. All things worship Him and turn to Him in repentance. And His knowledge embraces all things.(Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 123)
6. The Attributes of Allah Surely, the attributes of the Wise Creator are exactly the same as His Essence. There is no number among them, as it has been proved in theology. Some Iraqis deviated from the right path. So, they proclaimed that Allah, the Most High, heard with other than with He saw, and saw with other than with He heard. In that He is similar to His creatures. Mohammed b. Moslem told Imam Abu` Jafar (al-Baqir), peace be on, about that. So, the Imam said: "They have told lies, become atheists, and likened (Allah to His creatures). Far is Allah above that. Indeed He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. He hears with what He sees, and sees with what He hears. Then Mohammed b. Sa`lim said: "They claim that He sees according to what they think."So, the Imam, peace be on him, refuted their claims, saying: "Be Allah Exalted, the one who has the attribute of the creature perceive, but Allah is not such.(Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 123)
7. Doubt and Unbelief Surely, the doubt and unbelief in Allah, the Creator of the skies and the earth, have bad final results. Among them is that no deed is accepted from the one who doubts Allah and the one who disbelieves in Him. Their deeds will not avail them on the Day of Judgment. For this reason, the Imam, peace be on him, said: "The deed with doubt and unbelief is useless.(Jami'al-Sa'adat, vol. 1, p. 117)