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Last Updated: 2012/04/17
Summary of question
Where will the evil Shias be punished; in this world, the Barzakh or the Hereafter?
question
If sinful and corrupt and evil shias will be punished, then where will they be punished if not in (a) this world, (b) barzakh (c) hell? Or will they be punished in all three places that is this world, barzakh and hell? Will sinful and corrupt and evil shias be punished in this (a) World and (b) Barzakh also along with (c) Hell in the Hereafter?
Concise answer

According to the Quran, all people will be punished or rewarded based on their actions and this is something clear; some in this world, some in the Barzakh and some in the Hereafter. As to the traditions that give the idea that the Shia will enter paradise without being held accountable for their bad acts and deeds, these traditions can be correctly interpreted when put next to other narrations in this regard. Imam Sadiq (AS) has reconciled between these two groups of narrations by saying: "All Shias will enter paradise on Resurrection…By Allah I only worry for your Barzakh." According to the narrations of Imam Sadiq (AS), no matter how we interpret the term 'Shia' in them, what is for sure is that every person will be held accountable for his deeds.

Detailed Answer

1. Who can be called a 'Shia'

In denominational terms, the Shia are those who believe in the immediate successorship of Imam Ali (as) and also believe that such succession has been alluded to through explicit or implicit[1] mention and that it is his and his progeny's right.[2] In any event, what is understood from the narrations of the imams is that being a Shia doesn't simply mean being affiliated with a denomination out of all other denominations, rather, being a Shia of the Ahlul-Bayt entails chastity and struggle in the way of Allah; such a person will be a true Shia. Imam Sadiq (AS) says:

"Stay away from the ignoble; verily the Shia of Ali is one who is chaste when it comes to the stomach and the private part [and keeps them from haram] and strives hard and struggles and works for his creator and has hope in His reward and fears His punishment. If you ever see anyone like this, know that he is a Shia of Ja'far [meaning Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq]."[3]

2. The different types and degrees of divine punishment

What is clear is that all our actions will be reckoned and each person will be rewarded or punished deservingly. The only point here is that, depending on the type of sins they have committed, and also on Allah's discretion, sometimes people will receive punishment in this life through hardship and calamities, and sometimes at the moment of death when their souls are being taken, and sometimes in the Barzakh (in the grave). In the event of them still having sins they will go to Hell in the Hereafter, as many narrations point out. Of course, those who have good deeds in this world will not remain in Hell forever and will be sent to paradise after being punished for their wrongdoings.

The Shia are no exception when it comes to these promises and threats, because nowhere in the traditions can one find that being Muslim or Shia brings about exceptionality to this rule.

3. What counts in the Hereafter are one's righteous deeds

Jabir has been narrated in Usul al-Kāfī to have said:

"Imam Baqir (AS) said to me: "O Jabir! Is it enough for one who claims to be Shia, to speak of his love for us?! By God, he is not our Shia, but who fears Allah and obeys Him. O Jabir! Such people will not be known, except through their humility, humbleness, trustworthiness, abundance of dhikr (remembrance of Allah), fasting, prayer, kindness towards parents, heeding needy neighbors, the poor, debtors, orphans, truthfulness, … O Jabir! Do not traverse different paths; is it enough for one to say "I love Ali and follow him", and yet this person has no activity [to back this claim]?! If this person says that he loves the prophet of Allah (saw) – although the prophet is higher than Ali (AS) – but doesn't follow him and his tradition in his actions, his love will do him no good. So fear Allah and strive for what Allah possesses [of rewards], Allah has kinship with no one, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most pious of you and the one who acts more upon His obedience. O Jabir! By Allah, the only way to gain proximity of Allah is through His obedience. We [the Ahlul-Bayt] carry no immunity from the Hellfire [for others] and no one has proof over Allah; whosoever is obedient of Allah is our friend and whosoever is disobedient is our enemy, our Wilayah (mastership) is solely attained through piety."[4]

In the hadiths on the Mi'raj (ascension) of the prophet (saw) we come across many cases where the prophet says: "I saw different groups of my people, both men and women, undergoing various punishment due to the different sins they had committed.

From this it becomes manifest that according to both Quranic verses and Islamic traditions, it is certain that the sinner will be punished by God. The only point here is that if the sinner is a believer, he will eventually be saved and freed from the Fire, albeit after maybe sometimes years of chastisement and suffering.

4. Reconciling between hadiths of 'Intercession' and 'Chastisement'

The hadiths disclosing that all Shias will be interceded for are reconcilable with those that speak of all people being held accountable for their deeds.

It can be said that the sinners of the Shia will enter paradise through intercession, once they have been purified in this world (through punishments and execution of hadds and qisas[5]) or in the grave and realm of Barzakh, as Imam Sadiq (AS) says in response to a question he was asked regarding the sinning Shias going to paradise: "…By Allah everyone will enter paradise." The narrator of the hadith asked him: "May I be your sacrifice! Will they still enter paradise if they have committed many major sins?" The Imam replied: "They will all enter paradise through the intercession of the prophet (saw) and his successors [the imams]; what I fear for you is your Barzakh." The narrator goes on to say: "[And] what is the Barzakh?" He replied: "The Barzakh is the grave from the time one dies till Resurrection."[6]

Therefore, all people will be held accountable for their deeds and this is for certain;, some in this world, some in the Barzakh and some in the Hereafter. As to the traditions that give the idea that the Shia will enter paradise without being held accountable for their bad acts and deeds, these traditions can be correctly interpreted when put next to other narrations in this regard. Imam Sadiq (AS) has reconciled between these two groups of narrations by saying: "All Shias will enter paradise on Resurrection…By Allah I only worry for your Barzakh." According to the narrations of Imam Sadiq (AS), no matter how we interpret the term 'Shia' in them, what is for sure is that every person will be held accountable for his deeds.

Let it not remain unmentioned that a true Shia must have real love for the Ahlul-Bayt and this itself is considered one of the greatest acts and clearly, if a person has true love of them in his heart, he will not sin to the extent that in addition to this world's hardships and the Barzakh's, he will also deserve punishment in the Hereafter. If a person pronounces that he is Shia, yet his actions fail to read with the guidelines of the Ahlul-Bayt, this person essentially cannot be called a Shia.

 

[1] Explicit mention means for an individual or individuals to be designated by name to take up the responsibility of imamate, while implicit mention, that the Zaydiyyah sect believes in, is when the qualities and qualifications of an imam are stated, without anyone being designated by name.

[2] Awaa'il al-Maqaalaat, p. 42; Al-Milal wal-Nihal, vol. 1, p. 146, quoted by Rabbani Golpaygani, Ali, Firaq va Mazahebe Kalami, p. 50, Al-Mustafa International Institute for Translation and Publication, Qum 1389 (solar).

[3] Kulayni, Muhammad ibn Yaqub, Usul Kāfī, p. 233, vol. 9, the book of Iman and Kufr, the chapter on the signs of the believer, and …, Beirut, Daar Sa'b, fourth edition, without date of publication.

[4] "عَنْ جَابِرٍ عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ ع قَالَ قَالَ لِی یَا جَابِرُ أَ یَکْتَفِی مَنِ انْتَحَلَ التَّشَیُّعَ أَنْ یَقُولَ بِحُبِّنَا أَهْلَ الْبَیْتِ فَوَ اللَّهِ مَا شِیعَتُنَا إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّقَى اللَّهَ وَ أَطَاعَهُ وَ مَا کَانُوا یُعْرَفُونَ یَا جَابِرُ إِلَّا بِالتَّوَاضُعِ وَ التَّخَشُّعِ وَ الْأَمَانَةِ وَ کَثْرَةِ ذِکْرِ اللَّهِ وَ الصَّوْمِ وَ الصَّلَاةِ وَ الْبِرِّ بِالْوَالِدَیْنِ وَ التَّعَاهُدِ لِلْجِیرَانِ مِنَ الْفُقَرَاءِ وَ أَهْلِ الْمَسْکَنَةِ وَ الْغَارِمِینَ وَ الْأَیْتَامِ وَ صِدْقِ الْحَدِیثِ وَ تِلَاوَةِ الْقُرْآنِ وَ کَفِّ الْأَلْسُنِ عَنِ النَّاسِ إِلَّا مِنْ خَیْرٍ وَ کَانُوا أُمَنَاءَ عَشَائِرِهِمْ فِی الْأَشْیَاءِ قَالَ جَابِرٌ فَقُلْتُ یَا ابْنَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ مَا نَعْرِفُ الْیَوْمَ أَحَداً بِهَذِهِ الصِّفَةِ فَقَالَ یَا جَابِرُ لَا تَذْهَبَنَّ بِکَ الْمَذَاهِبُ حَسْبُ الرَّجُلِ أَنْ یَقُولَ أُحِبُّ عَلِیّاً وَ أَتَوَلَّاهُ ثُمَّ لَا یَکُونَ مَعَ ذَلِکَ فَعَّالًا فَلَوْ قَالَ إِنِّی أُحِبُّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص خَیْرٌ مِنْ عَلِیٍّ ع ثُمَّ لَا یَتَّبِعُ سِیرَتَهُ وَ لَا یَعْمَلُ بِسُنَّتِهِ مَا نَفَعَهُ حُبُّهُ إِیَّاهُ شَیْئاً فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَ اعْمَلُوا لِمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ لَیْسَ بَیْنَ اللَّهِ وَ بَیْنَ أَحَدٍ قَرَابَةٌ أَحَبُّ الْعِبَادِ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ وَ أَکْرَمُهُمْ عَلَیْهِ أَتْقَاهُمْ وَ أَعْمَلُهُمْ بِطَاعَتِهِ یَا جَابِرُ وَ اللَّهِ مَا یُتَقَرَّبُ إِلَى اللَّهِ تَبَارَکَ وَ تَعَالَى إِلَّا بِالطَّاعَةِ وَ مَا مَعَنَا بَرَاءَةٌ مِنَ النَّارِ وَ لَا عَلَى اللَّهِ لِأَحَدٍ مِنْ حُجَّةٍ مَنْ کَانَ لِلَّهِ مُطِیعاً فَهُوَ لَنَا وَلِیٌّ وَ مَنْ کَانَ لِلَّهِ عَاصِیاً فَهُوَ لَنَا عَدُوٌّ وَ مَا تُنَالُ وَلَایَتُنَا إِلَّا بِالْعَمَلِ وَ الْوَرَعِ" Kulayni, Muhammad ibn Ya'qub, Usul Kāfī, vol. 2, p. 74, Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, 1365 (solar).

[5] "من اذنب ذنباً فعوقب به فی الدنیا، لم یعاقب به فی الاخرة", Nouri, Mirza Husayn, Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, vol. 18, p. 36, the book of miscellaneous traditions, Aal al-Bayt (AS) Institute, Qum, 1408 AH.

[6] Kulayni, Muhammad ibn Yaqub, Al-Furu' min al-Kāfī, book of corpses, the chapter on what the grave says, vol. 3, p. 242, Daar Sa'b, without date of publication.

 

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