Grand Ayatollah Shirazi remarks on fulfilment of covenant with God

The daily scholarly meeting of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Sadiq al-Hosseini al-Shirazi was held on Monday, the 19th of Jumadi al-Awwal. In this session, like the previous meetings, the Marja answered the questions of the attendees about various jurisprudence issues.

Grand Ayatollah Shirazi discussed the obligation to fulfill the treaty between individuals, and said: There is no solid proof from narrations in this regard, because according to the noble verse 40 of Surah al-Yusuf, the only absolute ruler of the world is the Almighty God. Therefore, every obligation and prohibition must be determined by God Almighty. Of course, every action leading to chaos is impermissible.

His Eminence then discussed the opinion of some jurists regarding the treaty concerning property, and said: A group of jurists have said that there is a reason from Hadith that such a treaty must be honourd. The Late Allamah Helli has mentioned in his book on Fiqh that if some people get on a ship and then they see that the sea is stormy and the ship is heavy, and one person says to another individual who has heavy belongings: Throw your belongings into the sea, and I will compensate the loss. Allamah has said: Here, this pact is equivalent to a valid contract and therefore they must fulfill it. But this ruling is not the consensus opinion.

He went on to say: With regard to non-property pacts, there is no reason from hadith indicating the obligation of fulfilling such a pact. For example, if two people make an agreement where one says: I will perform Ziyarah of Imam Hussain in Karbala on your behalf, and you perform the Ziyarah of Imam Reza in Mashhad on my behalf, then the obligation of having to fulfill such an agreement is not certain in religious terms. In fact, this agreement is a kind of promise, and the predominant opinion of fuqaha is that keeping a promise is Mustahab and breaking it is Makruh.

Grand Ayatollah Shirazi emphasized that in terms of non-property pacts, the word and agreement between two people does not amount to a contract, but describing them as a covenant is more correct. He further said: Adherence to a treaty of both property and non-property nature is necessary from the viewpoint of Urf. But based on evidence from Shari’a sources, it is only wajib to adhere to a covenant with God, but not with other than God. For example, if someone says: O Imam Reza, if you heal my child, I will recite a surah of the Qur’an for you. Here, there is no evidence from hadith to make the fulfilment of such pact wajib, so the jurists have not commented on this matter, and the evidence for ruling is insufficient.

His Eminence continued: Of course, the predominant opinion of jurists is that if a person, while making a promise, intends from the beginning not to fulfil it, the act is religiously problematic because he has committed a lie, and lying is a forbidden act. However, if the person initially intends to fulfil the promise, but then somehow, he/she does not fulfil it, there is no reason based on hadith to say it was wajib to do so. The only wajib fulfilment is when a pact is made with God.

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