Shiites are attached to their Imams not only by belief, but also by their strong emotional attachment.  This is why in various situations, especially in times of hardship, Shiites turn to the Imams to pour out their hearts. But in order for this heartfelt connection to work, it is necessary to have mutual understanding between the Imam and his follower. Do differences in languages, all from English, French, Spanish, all through eastern languages of Farsi, Hindi, and the like, and even local dialects affect the connection with the infallible Imams (PBUT)?

Ismael Sindi narrates, “I was in India when I heard God’s representative is among the Arabs, so I left my city to search for God’s representative. I was introduced to Imam Reza (PBUH) and I went to visit him. I went there while I could not speak Arabic and thus, I greeted him with my local dialect; he fluently responded back and we started to converse.

I asked Imam Reza (PBUH): I heard back in India that God’s representative is amongst the Arab and so I came out searching for him.

The Imam (PBUH) responded in my own local dialect, saying ‘Indeed, I am the representative of God, so ask what you seek.’۱

I proceeded with my questions….”

Sheikh Saduq narrates from Abu Al-Selt Heravi, “Imam Reza (PBUH) was speaking to some people in their own language, and by God he was the most fluent and knowledge of the people in any language and word.  One day I asked the Imam, ‘O son of the Messenger of Allah! I am astonished at how fluent you are in all languages, despite their differences and varieties.’

The Imam responded, ‘O father of Selt! I am Allah’s representative among His servants, and Allah does not appoint a leader to a people, in which they cannot understand his language and words.’۲”

Along these lines, the famous narrator, Allameh Majlesi dedicated a whole chapter of his book Bihar ul-Anwar to the topic, “The Infallible Imams (PBUT) are fluent in all languages, and speak in those tongues.”۳ In concluding his chapter, Allameh Majlesi writes, “That the Imams (PBUT) are aware of various languages is a known fact.  The authenticity of the narrations is such that when put along side the Sunni narrations, it does not leave much room for doubt.”۴,۵

Indeed! It is divine miracle and blessing that the Imams are familiar with the various language and dialects of their followers.  And when a Shia begins to pour his/her heart out for his/her Imam, in Farsi, European, Hindu, Turkish, various African dialects, American, and any other language across the world, the Imam’s kind focus and listening ear accepts the caller.

(Selection taken from the book Lessons from the Life of Imam Reza (PBUH) by Dr. Hussein Fereydoni, with minor changes)

On behalf of Roshd Website, we send our condolences to all Muslims, especially you dear friend,

on the last day of the month of Safar, the martyrdom of the manifestation of Divine Mercy, holder of the Prophet’s knowledge, and the eight Imam of the Shiites, Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (Peace be Upon Him)

Footnotes:

1.     Al-Kharaej wa al-Jaraeh, vol. 1, p.340

2.     Uyun Akhbar al-Reza, ch.54, Hadith #3

3.     Bihar ul-Anwar, vol. 26, p. 190

4.     Bihar ul-Anwar, vol. 26, p. 192 and 193

5.     In another example, Sheikh e Mufid has narrated that Imam Saqiq (PBUH) had a non-Arab servant, to whom he told, “Speak in any language you desire, I understand that,” (Ikhtisas, p.290)