No Worship without Mastership

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الْحَسَنِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّؑ قَالَ اِنَّ اللهَ افْتَرَضَ خَمْساً وَ لَمْ يَفْتَرِضْ اِلَّا حَسَناً جَمِيلًا الصَّلَاةَ وَ الزَّكَاةَ وَ الْحَجَّ وَ الصِّيَامَ وَ وَلَايَتَنَا اَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ فَعَمِلَ النَّاسُ بِاَرْبَعٍ وَ اسْتَخَفُّوا بِالْخَامِسَةِ وَ اللّهِ لَا يَسْتَكْمِلُوا الْاَرْبَعَةَ حَتَّى يَسْتَكْمِلُوهَا بِالْخَامِسَةِ

Imam Ali Ibn al-Husain (peace be upon him) says,

“Surely, Allah has made obligatory five things and He has not made obligatory except good and beautiful things. Prayers, poor-rate, Hajj, fasting and the mastership of us Ahle Bait (peace be upon them). The people acted on four but took the fifth lightly. By Allah! The (first) four will not be completed till they complete them by the fifth.”


Allah is the All-Knowing Who knows what is good and what is bad for His creatures. He is also the Wise and Just Who puts everything in its place. If something is not fruitful for man, He will not make it obligatory. If something is not harmful, He will not prohibit it. He is not unjust to anyone even for an atom-weight. He is Needless and Self-sufficient. Therefore, when He orders His servants to establish prayers, He knows that prayers are good and beautiful for His servants. He is not in need of prayers that He ordered them for His benefit. He does not intend to trouble His servants because He is not unjust. Thus, everything that He makes obligatory is good and beautiful. When the goodness and beauty of a thing is intense, Allah makes it obligatory. When it is not so intense, He makes it recommended. For an obligatory act, there are levels and the same applies for recommended actions as well. When an action is neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly, He simply makes it permissible for the servants. When an act is ugly and bad but not extreme in its intensity, He makes it abominable and when it is extremely intense in its ugliness and evil, He makes it prohibited.

Why Khums is not mentioned in the above tradition? The reason is that Khums is an off-shoot of Zakaat. Just as he has not mentioned Umrah because Umrah is a supplementary for Hajj.

The fifth is the mastership of the Ahle Bait (peace be upon them). It is necessary that people should accept their mastership; they cannot afford to disobey or defy them or bear enmity against them. But the people did not pay heed to it. Although, the four without the fifth are incomplete. In other words, Allah will not accept these four without the fifth.

Is prayer more important or mastership of Ahle Bait (peace be upon them)?

No doubt, mastership is more important because without it prayers will not be accepted. The same applies for the other acts of worship. Moreover, it is the Imam (peace be upon him) who guides the people to the more correct way of performing all the acts of worship. But this by no means implies that a follower of Ahle Bait (peace be upon them) should take his prayer lightly. For, the Ahle Bait (peace be upon him) were an embodiment of divine worship and also exhorted their followers towards prayers saying that their intercession will not reach to those who take their prayers lightly.

Then why has Imam (peace be upon him) placed it after the four acts of worship?

Considering the understanding and comprehension levels of the people is a very important thing. Otherwise, people will wage a war against the Imam (peace be upon him). For example, there is a tradition in Bukhari, where the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) addressed Ayesha as follows:

يَا عَائِشَةُ، لَوْلاَ قَوْمُكِ حَدِيثٌ عَهْدُهُمْ، قَالَ ابْنُ الزُّبَيْرِ بِكُفْرٍ، لَنَقَضْتُ الْكَعْبَةَ فَجَعَلْتُ لَهَا بَابَيْنِ باب يَدْخُلُ النَّاسُ، وَبَابٌ يَخْرُجُونَ ‏

“O Aisha! Had not your people been still close to the pre-Islamic period of ignorance (infidelity), I would have dismantled the Ka’bah and would have made two doors in it; one for entrance and the other for exit.” (Bukhari, Kitab al-Ilm, Hadis 126)

The Kabah had two doors since its inception. But the pagans shut one door and kept only one door. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) intended to restore it to its original divine state but he (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) feared that the people would not be able to digest this matter and it would lead to internal strife in the society.

Similarly, in the above narration, Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him) has kept the most important thing at the end of the duties. For, had he (peace be upon him) kept mastership ahead of prayers, some stupid people would have risen against him saying that he has disbelieved and would have gathered to kill him (peace be upon him).

Was it right for Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him) to present Islam in its distorted form (as in the above narration)?

The answer is NO. Then why he has done it in this narration? He has not presented it in its distorted form; actually, he (peace be upon him) has presented it in its actual form. Although he (peace be upon him) has mentioned mastership in the end, yet by mentioning that none of the acts will be accepted without mastership, he (peace be upon him) has clearly underlined its importance.

Hadis Saqlain is narrated by both the sects copiously. The chains are of various kinds and the sentences too. Scholars have written independent treatises on this tradition. We have presented here only one narration from one chain and left the others for the sake of brevity.


1.    Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 23, p. 105, H. 4

2.            Bashaarah al-Mustafa (peace be upon him and his holy progeny), p. 108

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