Ep. 1. The Forties – All of Goodness is in Four Words

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Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute. In this episode, we’ll be introducing this podcast series and what we hope to cover during it.

The practice of memorizing and compiling 40 ḥadīth most likely was inspired by a Prophetic (p) tradition which says, “Anyone from my Ummah who memorizes 40-ḥadīth, will benefit from it, and Allah (swt) will raise him on the Day of Judgement as a Faqīh and an ‘Ālim” – meaning someone who is well-versed in religion.

Hundreds of works were written compiling 40 traditions, often revolving around a certain topic and theme. For example, some scholars compiled 40 hadtih on law, some on matters of theology, some wrote them on matters related to etiquette and manners. One such work was written by a scholar Ayatullah Sayyid Aḥmad Zanjānī (d. 1973) – the father of one of the marāji’ today, Sayyid Musa Shubayrī Zanjānī.

Now Sayyid Zanjāni wrote a book called Arba’iniyat. Sayyid Zanjānī’s work is unique in the sense that he makes a single tradition the basis of his work. It concerns akhlaq, the methods of spiritual purification a Muslim needs to be attentive towards. In this podcast series, we’ll be going through this work – we won’t be translating it word by word, rather summarizing the general discussions held in this book.

In this episode we’ll read this tradition – now this tradition is from Imam Baqir and Sadiq – it is attributed to both of the Imams. Sayyid Zanjani has his own chain of transmission for this ḥadīth all the way to Imam Baqir (a). We won’t be quoting that in this podcast – but let’s see what the tradition says:

مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِيسَى عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ عَنْ يُوسُفَ بْنِ عِمْرَانَ بْنِ مِيثَمٍ عَنْ يَعْقُوبَ بْنِ شُعَيْبٍ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: أَوْحَى اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ إِلَى آدَمَ ع أَنِّي سَأَجْمَعُ لَكَ الْكَلَامَ فِي أَرْبَعِ كَلِمَاتٍ قَالَ يَا رَبِّ وَ مَا هُنَّ قَالَ وَاحِدَةٌ لِي وَ وَاحِدَةٌ لَكَ وَ وَاحِدَةٌ فِيمَا بَيْنِي وَ بَيْنَكَ وَ وَاحِدَةٌ فِيمَا بَيْنَكَ وَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ قَالَ يَا رَبِّ بَيِّنْهُنَّ لِي حَتَّى أَعْلَمَهُنَّ قَالَ أَمَّا الَّتِي لِي فَتَعْبُدُنِي‏ لا تُشْرِكْ بِي شَيْئاً وَ أَمَّا الَّتِي لَكَ فَأَجْزِيكَ بِعَمَلِكَ أَحْوَجَ مَا تَكُونُ إِلَيْهِ‏ وَ أَمَّا الَّتِي بَيْنِي وَ بَيْنَكَ فَعَلَيْكَ الدُّعَاءُ وَ عَلَيَّ الْإِجَابَةُ وَ أَمَّا الَّتِي بَيْنَكَ وَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فَتَرْضَى لِلنَّاسِ مَا تَرْضَى لِنَفْسِكَ وَ تَكْرَهُ لَهُمْ مَا تَكْرَهُ لِنَفْسِكَ

Imam Baqir (a) says: Allah (swt) sent revelation to Adam (a) saying: I have collected all goodness in four words; one of them is for me, one of them is for you, one of them is for between you and I, and one of them is for between you and the rest of humanity. As for that which is for me it is that you worship me and do not associate any partners with me, and that which is for you is the recompense for your deeds with a reward that you most need, and that which is between you and I is that you supplicate and I accept and answer your supplications, and that which is between you and people is that you must like for others that which you like for yourself and dislike for others what you dislike for yourself.

This tradition looks at the relationship of humans and Allah from four different perspectives:

    1. Allah’s relationship with us – which is that He expects us to obey him sincerely.
    2. Our relationship with Allah – which is that He must reward us for our good deeds
    3. The two-way relationship between us and Allah – which is that we supplicate to Him with the conditions he lays out and he accepts these supplications
    4. And finally, our relationship with other humans – how to live with one another, how to conduct and behave in society.

For each of these relationships, Sayyid Zanjānī brings 40 traditions to elaborate and expand on the nature and details of these relationships.

I want the listeners to know that when we are elaborating on the first three perspectives – meaning the first 120 narrations – every hadith is a preliminary and pre-requisite for the next hadith and so the episodes have to be listened to in order – the first tradition is a preliminary and a condition for the second tradition, the second is a pre-requisite for the third narration, and so on all the way till the first 120 narrations. The fourth relationship which concerns our relationship with other humans, we will be looking at 40 traditions and looking at their practical implications and examples in our day to day lives, Inshallah.

We pray that this will be a fruitful series for everyone.

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