The Blind Receive Sight

We read in the Gospel of Mathew Chapter 11 Verses 2 – 5:

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

These same sequence of miracles is confirmed in the Qur’an. Verse 110 of Surat al-Maida says:

وَتُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ بِإِذْنِي

… and you (Jesus) healed the blind and the leper with My permission …

Is this unique to Jesus or witnessed in the lives of the ‘Aimma?

The answer requires us to touch on the life of one ironically called Abu Basir (lit. The Father of Insight) who was a  a blind companion of the fifth and sixth Imams.

Allamah Hilli quotes the following in his Khulasat al-Aqwal from the now lost Kitab al-Rijal of Sayyid Ali b. Ahmad al-Uqayqi:

وقال علي بن أحمد العقيقي: يحيى بن القاسم الأسدي، مولاهم، ولد مكفوفا، رأى الدنيا مرتين، مسح أبو عبد الله عليه السلام على عينيه، وقال: انظر ما ترى؟ قال: أرى كوة في البيت وقد أرانيها أبوك من قبلك

Yahya b. al-Qasim al-Asadi, their client [of Bani Asad]. He was born blind. He saw the world twice. Abu Abdillah عليه السلام wiped his hands over his eyes and said: Look – what do you see? He [Abu Basir] said: I see a window in the room. Your father had shown it to me before you.

That al-Baqir عليه السلام had already done a miracle of this nature once before is confirmed in reliable narration al-Kafi:

عن عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن علي بن الحكم، عن مثنى الحناط، عن أبي بصير قال: دخلت على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فقلت له: أنتم ورثة رسول الله ص؟ قال: نعم، فقلت رسول الله ص وارث الأنبياء علم كل ما علموا؟ قال لي: نعم، قلت: فأنتم تقدرون على أن تحيوا الموتى وتبرءوا الأكمه والأبرص؟ قال: نعم بإذن الله، ثم قال لي: ادن مني يا أبا محمد، فدنوت منه فمسح على وجهي وعلى عيني فأبصرت الشمس والسماء والأرض والبيوت، وكل شيء في البلد، ثم قال لي: أتحب أن تكون هكذا، ولك ما للناس، وعليك ما عليهم يوم القيامة، أو تعود كما كنت ولك الجنة خالصا؟ قلت: أعود كماكنت، فمسح على عيني فعدت كما كنت، قال: فحدثت ابن أبي عمير بهذا، فقال: أشهد أن هذا حق، كما أن النهار حق

A numer of our companions – Ahmad b. Muhammad – Ali b. al-Hakam – Muthanna al-Hannat – Abi Basir who said: I entered in to see Abi Ja’far عليه السلام and said to him: Are you the successors of the Messenger of Allah? He said: Yes. I said: The Messenger of Allah is the inheritor of all the prophets – he knows all that which they knew? He said: Yes. I said: So you are capable of giving life to the dead and curing the blind and the leper? He said: Yes, with the permission of Allah.

Then he [the Imam] said to me: Come closer to me O Aba Muhammad. I approached near him and he wiped over my face and my eyes so I could see the sun, and the sky, and the ground and the houses, and everything in the town. Then he said to me: Do you wish to remain like this, and for you is what is for the people [you enjoy the same rights], and on you is what is on them [of responsibility] on the day of judgment or do wish to revert back to how you were and for you be paradise? I said: I revert back to how I was. He wiped over my eyes and I returned back to my former state.

I [Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa] narrated this to Ibn Abi Umayr so he said: I bear witness that this is true just as the day is true.

This indicates that all the powers which were given to the past prophets are available to the Imam with the permission of Allah.

This blindness did not act as an obstacle in his way and Abu Basir became one of the greatest narrators and scholars of Shi’i Islam. It is because of his efforts and sincerity that he was guaranteed paradise while still alive.

حدثني محمد بن مسعود، قال حدثني أحمد بن منصور، قال حدثني أحمد بن الفضل، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن شعيب العقرقوفي، عن أبي بصير قال: حضرت يعني علباء الأسدي عند موته فقال لي: إن أبا جعفر عليه السلام قد ضمن لي الجنة فاذكره ذلك قال: فدخلت على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فقال: حضرت علباء عند موته؟ قال: قلت: نعم فأخبرني أنك ضمنت له الجنة و سألني أن أذكرك ذلك قال: صدق قال: فبكيت، ثم قلت: جعلت فداك ألست الكبير السن الضرير البصر فاضمنها لي قال: قد فعلت، قلت: أضمنها لي على آبائك و سميتهم واحدا واحدا، قال: قد فعلت، قلت: فاضمنها لي على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم قال: قد فعلت، قلت: أضمنها لي على الله، قال: قد فعلت

Muhammad b. Masud – Ahmad b. Mansur – Ahmad b. al-Fadhl –  Ibn Abi Umayr – Shuayb al-Aqraqufi – Abi Basir who said: I attended to Ilba al-Asadi when he was in the pangs of death so he said to me: Aba Ja’far عليه السلام has guaranteed paradise for me so remind him of that. He [Abi Basir] said: I entered in to meet Abi Ja’far عليه السلام so he said to me: Were you there when Ilba was dying? I said: Yes, and he [Ilba] informed me that you had guaranteed paradise for him and asked me to remind you about that. He [the Imam] said: He has spoken the truth.

He [Abi Basir] said: So I began crying and said: May I be made your ransom! What about me? am I not old in age, weak in sight [he was blind]? so guarantee it for me as well! He [the Imam] said: I have done so. I [Abu Basir] said: Guarantee it for me on behalf of your forefathers, and I named them one after the other. He said: I have done so. I said: Guarantee it for me on behalf of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم. He said: I have done so. I said: Guarantee it for me on behalf of Allah. He said: I have done so.

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