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Materialistic Schools of Thought

imam sadiq (a.s)

A major part of Imam Sadiq’s cultural activities focused on fight against deviated schools of thought and materialism that was developing fast. His activities included statements, guidelines, and recommendations on monotheism, as well as his debates with the leaders of materialism such as Ibn Abi al-Auja, Ibn Moqaffa’, Zandiq the Egyptian, Behnam Abdulmalek, etc. In his talks and debates with these people, Imam Sadiq (A.S) clarified the principles and doctrines of Islam with an eloquent language and logic, thus nullifying the enemies’ claims.

There are interesting stories about Imam Sadiq’s strategy to neutralize the enemy plots. It was at his time that a person named Behnam Ja’d Bandarham rose against Islam and attracted some followers. One day he mixed water and soil inside a glass bottle. A few days later, insects and worms appeared in the bottle. He showed the bottle to the people and said: “I have created these insects and worms. Since I have brought them into being, I am their god.”‌ A group of Muslims informed Imam Sadiq (A.S) of his claim. The Imam said: “Ask him how many worms and insects are there? How many male and female insects and worms are there? How much do they weigh? Ask him to change them into something different, because a creator must have the power to do so.”‌ They asked him the same questions and he failed to answer the questions or change the worms and insects into a different form.

Allameh Seyed Muhammad Taqi Modarresi in his “Imam Jafar Sadiq’s Life and Conduct”‌ says: it is necessary to refer to a wave of hypocrisy that attacked the Islamic beliefs in the time of Imam Sadiq (A.S). The wave also attacked Imam Sadiq’s Theological School but found it invulnerable and strong like an ideological stronghold. The school thwarted and defeated the wave of ideological animosity.”‌

Since the majority of Muslims did not have an appropriate and strong understanding of Islam in the early years after the victories of the army of Islam, these clashes brought about undesirable and negative results for the Muslims. It divided the Muslims into two groups. The first group consisted of the conservatives who grasped only the superficial meaning of Islam and failed to understand the nature of Islam. They lost their wisdom in the labyrinth of superficiality. Khawarij (Kharijites) were the distinguished forerunners in this group. The second group were fundamentalists who were seriously influenced by the existing conditions in the society. They had put aside widely accepted criteria and resorted to whatever they discerned by their shallow understanding of Islam. The hypocrites were another group. Since that time hypocrites have been considered worse than infidels. They pretend to have faith in what they do not really have any faith. Although they were among religious minorities during those days, they owed their ideology to the Greek philosophy.

Arabs were not familiar with Greek thoughts during those days. They began to learn Greek philosophy after the translation movement in the time of Imam Sadiq (A.S). Few people could make a distinction between Islamic and Greek philosophies and prove rightness of the school of Islam based on appropriate reasoning. Supporters of Greek philosophy resorted to a few traditions, considered themselves rightful, and able to prove their contentions. To do so, each influential member established a political-religious party and spread their ideas clandestinely. Imam Sadiq (A.S) had no way but to launch an ideological struggle against them. He made three wise plans to fight the hypocrites:

1- He allocated part of his theological teachings to those with ample knowledge of Greek philosophy and other contemporary philosophies. They were also expert in Islamic philosophy. Hesham ibn Hakam, the renowned preacher and orator, Hamran ibn A’ayn and Hesham ibn Salem as well as a few other experts of Islamic wisdom were the key orators of this group.

2-  Imam Sadiq (A.S) asked his students and experts to write treatises such as Towhid Mufazzal, Ahlialjah, etc

3-  Direct confrontation with the leaders of deviated schools of thought

According to narrations mentioned in a book entitled, “The Life-Resuscitating School of Shiasm”‌, Imam Sadiq (A.S) warmly welcomed debates on theology with such sects as Murji’ah , Ash’ariyeh, Jabriyah, Jews, Christians, etc.

As far as Islamic philosophy is concerned, a great ideological revolution was launched in the time of Imam Sadiq (A.S) in theology, particularly with regard to such issues as fatalism and free will. The debates were expanded to other areas as fast as possible. Gradually, politics, too, became a subject of the debates. As a result some circles tried to inject irrational absurd thoughts into the genuine Islamic thought. In connection with fatalism and free will, for instance, Bani Umayyad rulers insisted on expanding fatalism in order to impose their power and hegemony on the people in the name of God’s will and fatalism. Muawiyah was the innovator of expanded fatalism in the ruling class. Consequently, doubts, ambiguities, debates, questions and the like were raised in the public mind. The intellectual and ideological clashes and conflicts increased among the public. Some of the rulers had plans to strengthen the pillars of power and weaken solidarity among Muslims. Such a policy was practiced by most of Umayyad and Bani Abbas rulers.

People, therefore, lived in an intellectually dark environment. They were seeking a light to show them the right path and Imam Sadiq (A.S) was truly a divine blessing for the people.

There are many examples of arguments with Imam Sadiq (A.S) recorded in history books such as the following:

- Imam Sadiq (A.S) was asked about predestination in Islam. He said: “It is created by God and God will add to things he has created whenever He wishes. On the Doomsday, God will ask people about their conducts on earth not about the predestinated things.

- Someone asked Imam Sadiq (A.S): “Has God left his creatures to themselves after creation?”‌ The Imam replied: “God is Greater than doing so.”‌ He asked again: “Has God forced them to do something?”‌ The Imam replied: “God is Just and He never forces his creatures to do something and then punish them for the same act in the Hereafter.”‌

Translated by: Sadroddin Musawi

Other links:

Imam Sadiq’s Students and Disciples

Imam Sadiq (A.S), Malik ibn Anas and Abu Hanifa

Imam Sadiq (A.S) and Sofyan Thowri

Imam Sadiq (A.S) and the Death of His Son

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