We see how many followers of religions know nothing but belonging to their religion and being affiliated with its followers without this reflecting on their actions and conduct. The effect of religion does not appear in them except when they blindly insist on it and become fanatical about it. We have seen how some followers of other creeds oppose their children abandoning their religion and embracing Islam, standing strongly and severely against it, so much so that one may even kill his son for it. But he does not care about his son adhering to his own religion, nor does he exhaust himself for that; he does not even care if his son is practically outside the fold of his religion.
As for Islam – actually, for any divinely revealed faith – it has linked faith to action. The Holy Qur'an has stressed good deeds, linking them to belief in many verses; Allah Almighty has said, "By (the token of) time (through the ages), truly man is in loss, except those who have faith and do righteous deeds and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth and patience” (Qur'an, 103:1-3).
Statements made by the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them all) have stressed the above. In a tradition narrated by Muhammed ibn Abdullah ibn Tahir, the latter said, "I was waiting on my father who had in his company Abul-Salt al-Harawi, Ishaq ibn Rahawayh and Ahmed ibn Muhammed ibn Hanbal. My father said, 'Let each men among you narrate one tradition for me.' Abul-Salt al-Harawi said, 'Ali ibn Mousa al-Rida (peace be upon him) narrated a tradition to me – and he, by Allah, was the pleased one (al-Rida) just as he was named – citing his father Mousa ibn Ja`far, quoting his father Ja`far ibn Muhammed, quoting his father Muhammed ibn Ali, quoting his father Ali ibn al-Hussain, quoting his father al-Hussain, quoting his father Ali (peace be upon them) saying that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Faith (in Islam) is speech and action.' When we got out, Ahmed ibn Hanbal said, 'What is this chain of narrators?' My father said to him, 'this is the drug of madmen: If the madman takes this drug, he will awaken from his insanity.'"[i]
In another tradition narrated by Abul-Salt al-Harawi, the narrator said, "I asked al-Rida (peace be upon him) about faith. He said, faith is belief in the heart, a speech of the tongue, and action by the limbs; faith is not but this.'"[ii]
In a tradition narrated by Al-Mufaddal, the Imam Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said, "Beware of lowly persons; the Shi’ites of Ali (peace be upon him) are those who safeguard their bellies and private parts, who intensify their jihad, who work for their Creator, who rest their hope on His rewards and who fear His punishment. If you see them as such, they are [also] the Shi’ites of Ja`far [al-Sadiq]."[iii]
Such texts are numerous and famous, despite the differences in their contexts and expressions; rather, it is a self-evident matter which needs no textual support.
You must show keen interest in this aspect and emphasize it within your own selves, in your minds and senses, an emphasis which manifests itself on your actions, norms of conduct and companionship.
Although it does not fit well in the communities in which you reside and the circumstances in which you live, the significance of this matter imposes on you to sacrifice for its sake, to be firm in determination in its regard, no matter what the cost may be. In doing so, rely on Allah Almighty, derive from Him help and support; otherwise, you will be subdued and fused into societies that are suffering from their own loose and unrestricted personal liberty. You will then melt into them and thus lose your individuality, destroying your entity with no return, and this will be a cause for Allah Almighty to abandon you; He will then shun you and let you rely on your own selves: “If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, who can help you?” (Qur'an, 3:160).
If it is conjoined with good manners and companionship, though it may be a cause for discomfort in the beginning, persistence and continuation of religious commitment may compel the societies among which you reside to recognize your creed as being a reality which has to be accepted and has to be lived with, and they will deal with you on such a basis, thus lightening the burden from you. Rather, it will even raise your status in their hearts and impose on them respect for you because the hearts are inclined towards respecting those who espouse noble principles, who are strong in their will, and whose character is complete.
Above all, you will thus earn the pleasure of Allah Almighty Who holds all affairs in His hands and to Whom the ultimate destiny is rendered. Submitting to His will, to His commands and prohibitions, and firming the relationship with Him are among the most important causes of success, support and victory as the most Exalted One has said: “If Allah helps you, none can overcome you” (Qur'an, 3:160); He surely is the best supporter, Master of the believers.
[i]Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 66, p. 65.
[ii]Ibid., Vol. 66, p. 65.
[iii]Wasaail Al-Shi'a, Vol. 1, p. 64.