Part 1 : Merits of the Fourteen Infallibles

Just as man is created from four elements, the basics of ethical values are also four, wisdom, chastity, justice and valour. As if these are the four walls of a perfect character. Even if one of these walls is absent or dilapidated the morals are unsafe and the ethical character stained. These four qualities can be said to be the roots of the tree of morals. All the moral qualities are related to these four basic values. They are thus the branches of this ethical tree. Actually a tree is a tree because of its branches, while a dried barren tree is but used as firewood. The usefulness and value of a tree is proportionate to its foliage and shade-giving capability.

In fact, the magic formula of the establishment of the universe lies in these four words. It is the ladder to the ascension of spirituality. Success in life and the hereafter depends upon these four qualities. Innumerable weapons have been produced and are being produced for the establishment of kingdoms but their purpose is to defeat and conquer material things but they are not concerned with the reformation of hearts. This kingdom is beyond the power of those material weapons. If anything can gain control over it, it is these four weapons. How powerful these weapons are is beyond description and the extent of their capability is beyond perception. We can briefly state that they have the ability to control anything from the earth to the heavens. Every particle of the universe can kiss the feet. Humanity is raised so high in status that angels consider it a privilege to serve them. Let us now see their practical prowess.

Amazing Appeal of Good Morals

The aim of sending the Holy Prophet (S) was to perfect the morals. That is, the mission that did not reach the peak of perfection even after the arrival of 124000 messengers, it was done in theory and practice to such a level of perfection that now there was no more any need of a new prophet or messenger. This required extraordinary capability. That too in the land of Arabs, which was the cradle of ill manners. As if, shameless traits had hammered the final nail in the coffin of humanity. This severe necessity could neither be fulfilled by wealth and money nor by a military system or by the edge of the sword. This needed another type of power.

The verse: “Certainly you are upon the best morals,” has revealed this secret and announced to the world that the aspect of Prophet's behavior is such that it transformed the Arab society completely. It displayed such a miracle of human intercourse that the world was spellbound. What actually happened may be understood in the words of Quran: People entered the fold of Islam in hordes.

The good moral behavior of the Prophet of Islam had the most important role in this magnificent victory. Though Khadija's wealth served a great deal in helping the poor and deprived ones among the Muslims and the awe of Abu Talib afforded some security but the thing that struck the hearts and minds of the polytheist and disbelieving Arabs was the good moral behavior of the Messenger of Islam. It was this that left an indelible mark on the hearts of ignorant Arabs and attracted the wild Arabs to the Prophet like a magnet pulls a needle.

At that time Prophethood was veiled due to hidden wisdom when the Prophet started secret propagation and obtained confessions of his truthfulness from those who were dead enemies of good morals, becoming well known as “The Truthful” and “The Trustworthy” among the Arabs. The blood of human perfections had started running in this body known as Muhammad from the day it breathed its first in the atmosphere of water and clay.

The teachings of Islamic morals to the people did not consist of mere oral admonitions, but it was accompanied by practical feats for every aspect. When those lacking any type of moral embellishments saw the flawless character of the Holy Prophet (S) they realized the degraded and shameful position of their own humanity.

And on every occasion their created nature was shook with a deep yearning. The moral teachings that the Prophet imparted were the nourishment of the face of Islam and the life of its body. When these teachings was recorded on the pages of history and reached the different corners of the earth, and when with the Muslim travelers those teachings reached the people of other nations they were awakened abruptly from their slumber like a slow horse is spurred by the crack of the whip. It was it was an opportunity for the religions to compare that they make Islamic morals the criterion of comparing their differences. Those who did this realized very soon what is the difference between genuine and artificial pearls.

Perfection of Morals at the Hands of the Holy Prophet (S)?

The Messenger of Allah (S) has said: I was sent to perfect the morals. This shows that the one hundred and twenty four thousand prophets that have arrived till now, one of whose duties was to perfect the morals have not been able to achieve this object. Why is it so? Were they careless of their job? But this is against the status of prophethood. Then what is the reason that these teachings could not reach perfection?

Though apparently it is a difficult question, its answer requires a little explanation. The verse: “We blessed all those prophets, some of them excel others,” shows that the status of all the prophets was not equal. There was a difference in their grades and positions, whether it be in their practical value or by the limited scope of their propagation, or by way of their divine recognition, but Allah knows best about all that. Any conjecture in this regard can deviate us. We believe in the prophethoods of all of them.

“We do not differentiate between any of them.” Though it can be said that the previous prophets did not get the opportunity to highlight each and every aspect of perfection of morals. Some prophets were such that they were sent only for a particular group; some were sent for a particular country, some were appointed on one area. Some were prophets only for their families. Followers of certain prophets did not heed their teachings. Some listened but did not follow the teachings. In any case, there were many situations when all the moral qualities and their types could not be taught to the people and all the Islamic morals could not be explained clearly to them. Or sometimes the teachings of a particular prophet lasted for limited period and there was no arrangement to take it further.

It was the reason that the followers of every prophet became deviated after the passing away of their prophet, and with the passage of time the actual teachings assumed a completely different shape. Since the real examples did not exist any more they took the wrong ones as models and continued to follow them. Till the time that need arose again for the arrival of a new prophet. There are some prophets in whose generation prophethood continued in a serial order, but this also came to an end at some time. Since there was no permanent and everlasting arrangement, there was no possibility for the perfection of morals.

The best perfection of man is to set an example. There are innumerable people who display perfection of morals in their own selves but there are very few who can make others like themselves. Rather most centuries pass away without they're being any such personality in them.

When people with perfect morals are not able to pass on their traits to others, perfect morals gradually disappear from the society. Setting an example is not an easy job; it requires a very effective personality. To make someone else like ourselves is not possible till the time the personality of the owner of perfection is not so powerful that it could pull others towards itself. There are many who can create partial similarity; there are none who can create total similarity. Continuation of perfection is impossible till all the partial things, all the habits and all good traits and morals, all the actions and deeds, all the spiritual perfections are not transferred to someone else.

The Prophet was on the position of the best of morals. Its perfection was possible only if there was arrangement of its continuation. Otherwise it would have been temporary just like the teachings of other prophets, while creation of examples is impossible without continuity. Therefore the Prophet, first of all, paid attention to this, and in his lifetime made four persons (Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain, peace be upon them all) like himself in every aspect. There was no quality of good morals that was present in the Prophet but not found in them. Just as the Holy Prophet (S) showed each and every virtue practically, they also did so. This was an arrangement of the perfection of good morals from Providence; that it created twelve such personalities, who had the privilege of the successorship of the Holy Prophet (S) one after the other. They continued to present the examples of prophetic morals in every age and period. And they continued to display all the good morals possessed by the Prophet himself, without any increase or decrease. Just as the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (S) is to continue till the Day of Judgment, in the same way is to continue the examples of his good moral qualities.