For the same reason which we have just stated, the Ja`fariyyah Shi`ah—like the other cognizant Muslims who recognize the magnificent positions of the Holy Prophet (S) and his immaculate Household (a.s)— show great interest in visiting the holy shrines of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). They visit them with the intention of honoring them, learning from them, renewing their pledge with them, and expressing their commitment to values for which these great people strove for the preservation of which they sacrificed their lives.
In their visits of these shrines, they recall the virtues of the people buried in these places, their striving for the cause of the faith, their devotion to offering prayers constantly, giving alms, and acting steadfastly against all the harm and torment that they had to suffer. In addition, through these visits, people express their sympathy for the wronged descendants of the Holy Prophet (S).
Didn’t the Holy Prophet (S) exclaim after the event of the martyrdom of his uncle Hamzah, saying:
“How is it that nobody weeps over Hamzah?”[^36]
Didn’t he weep over the death of his dear son, Ibrahim?
Didn’t he regularly visit the graves at al-Baqi` Cemetery?
Didn’t he urge people to regularly visit the graves and say that they remind you of the Hereafter?[^37]
Attending the shrines of the Imams (a.s), who are among the Household of the Holy Prophet, and recalling their life styles and heroic combative stances remind the subsequent generations of the gross sacrifices that these great personalities made for Islam and Muslims, and implant in them the spirits of courage, bravery, altruism, and the martyrdom in the cause of Almighty Allah.
Indeed, visiting the graves of the Holy Imams is one of man’s civilized and sensible acts. Nations usually commemorate their great personalities and founders of civilizations in various ways, because this kind of commemoration fills them with pride before others and makes other nations embrace their values and establish close relations with them. For this very reason, the Holy Qur'an praises the stances of the prophets (a.s) and pure people and relates what happened to them.
(31) The Ja`fariyyah Shi`ah believe that the Holy Prophet (S) and the Immaculate Imams can intercede with Almighty Allah for the people, and so they entreat Him through the intercession of the Holy Prophet (S) and Imams to forgive them, grant them their needs, and cure the sick among them. The Holy Qur'an has allowed them and even encouraged them to do so:
“And had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning to mercy, Merciful. (4/64)”
Regarding the right of intercession (shafa`ah) granted to the Holy Prophet (S) by Almighty Allah, the Holy Qur'an reads,
“Verily your Lord will give you, so that you shall be well pleased. (93/5)”
It is thus unreasonable that Almighty Allah, Who has granted His Noble Messenger the right of intercession for the sinful ones and awarded him the right of mediation (wasilah), will prevent the people from asking the Messenger to intercede with Him for them, or deprives the Messenger of this right!
The Holy Qur'an recounts that Prophet Jacob’s sons asked their father to intercede with Almighty Allah for them, saying,
“O our father! Ask forgiveness of our faults for us. Surely, we were sinners. (12/97)”
This infallible prophet did not reject their request, but he responded:
“I will ask for you forgiveness from my Lord. Surely, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (12/98)”
Again, none can claim that the Holy Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams are dead and that returning to them for mediation is of no avail!
As a matter of fact, the Prophets in general and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) in particular are alive. Almighty Allah says about the Muslims and Prophet Muhammad:
“And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation that you may be the bearers of witness over the people and that the Messenger may be a bearer of witness over you. (2/143)”
“And say (to them): Work; so Allah will see your work and so will His Messenger and the believers. (9/105)”
Evidently, like the perpetuity of the sun and the moon and the continuity of day and night, this holy verse goes into effect incessantly until the Resurrection Day.
Similarly, the Holy Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams (a.s) are martyrs and as Almighty Allah says in various places of His Book, martyrs are ever-living.
The Ja`fariyyah Shi`ah celebrate the birthdays of the Holy Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams who are from his descendants—peace be upon them all. They also commemorate the anniversaries of their death. On such ceremonies, they mention their virtues, merits, and exemplary stances, which have been authentically reported by the Holy Qur'an that mentions, praises, and draws the attentions to the virtues of the Prophets and Messengers so that people may follow them, learn lessons from them, and gain true guidance.
Of course, in such celebrations, they refrain from committing forbidden acts; such as unlawful mixture of opposite sexes, eating or drinking forbidden things, exaggeration in praise and applause or other deeds that contradict the spirit of the holy Islamic law, go beyond its acknowledged regulations, are incongruous with the sacred Qur'anic texts and the authenticated Sunnah, or are incompatible to a general rule, which has been truly inferred from the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah in a sound way. (33) The Ja`fariyyah Shi`ah have recourse to a number of books comprising Prophetic traditions and the traditions narrated from his Immaculate Household, such as ‘al-Kafi’ by Shaykh al-Kulayni, a trustworthy scholar, and ‘man-la-yahzaruhu’l-faqih’ by Shaykh al-saduq, and ‘Tahdhib al-Ahkam’ and ‘al-IstibSar’ by Shaykh al-tusi. These are invaluable reference books in the field of hadith.
Albeit that these books comprise authentic narrations, neither their compilers nor the Ja`fariyyah Shi`ah call them Sahih (pl. Sihah), that is fully authentic; therefore, the Shi`ah do not consider all narrations mentioned in these books authentic; rather they accept authenticated narrations and reject the ones which are inauthentic, unsound, or do not accord with the science of investigating reported traditions (`ilm al-dirayah), biography of reporters (`ilm al-rijal) or the rules of the science of hadith.
In the fields of doctrines, jurisprudence, supplications, and ethics, the Ja`fariyyah Shi`ah have recourse to other books which contain various narrations reported from the Holy Imams, such as ‘Nahj al-Balaghah’ that is a collection of the sermons, epistles, and aphorisms of Imam `Ali (a.s) compiled by al-Sharif al-Razi; ‘Risalat al-Huquq (The Treatise on Rights)’ and ‘al-sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah’ (also known as the psalms of Islam) by Imam `Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-`abidin (a.s); ‘al-sahifah al-`Alawiyyah’ comprising the prayers of Imam `Ali (a.s); and Shaykh al-saduq’s books of ‘`Uyun Akhbar al-Riza’, ‘al-Tawhid’, ‘al-KhiSal’, ‘`Ilal al-Shara'i`’, and ‘Ma`ani al-Akhbar’.
The Ja`fariyyah Shi`ah also rest on the authentic narrations on different topics which are reported from the Holy Prophet (S) in the reference books of hadith of their Sunnite brethren[^38] without any fanaticism or stringency.
This idea is affirmed by the Shi`ite writings, both old and recent, that comprise narrations reported by the Holy Prophet’s companions and his wives as well as eminent sahabah and reporters, such as Abu-Hurayrah and Anas ibn Malik, when these traditions are not inconsistent with the Holy Qur'an, the authentically proven practices of the Holy Prophet (S), judicious reason, or scholarly consensus.