Monday 17th of June 2019

Man's God-seeking Nature


By: Ayatullah-al-Uzma Sayyid Ruhullah Musavi Khomeini
...Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni), from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from Ibn Mahbub, from' Ali ibn Ri'ab, from Zurarah, who said: "I asked Abu `Abd Allah (al-'Imam al Sadiq) (A) regarding the words of God, `God's creation (fitrah) upon which He originated mankind' (30:30). The Imam(A) answered: `He originated mankind upon tawhid."' [1]

According to lexicographers and exegetes, fatr means creation. According to al-Sihah (Arabic dictionary compiled by al-Jawhari), the word al-fitrah means al-khilqah, i.e. creation. Also, possibly, the word may have been derived from fatr in the sense of splitting and tearing; for creation, in a sense, tears the curtains of non-being and the veils of the hidden. The phrase iftar al sa'im, used for the breaking of the fast, also has a similar meaning, for iftar severs the continuity of the fast. This much is sufficient here, for lexical consideration is not our purpose here.
The tradition refers to the following verse of the Quran
: So set thy face to the Din, as a man of pure Faith-God's fitrah upon which He originated mankind. There is no changing God's creation. That is the right Din, but most men know it not. (30:30)
God willing, we shall discuss this fitrah, its characteristics, and the manner in which human nature is based on the principle of tawhid, dividing our discourse in a number of sections.

1. The Meaning of Fitrah:
It should be known that fitrat Allah, as the condition and state in which God fashioned mankind, refers to the essential condition of their existence. It is something which is present in the very essence of their creation and is inextricably kneaded into the very substance of their nature. God's fitrah is one of His favours with which He has endowed the human species out of all creatures. Other creatures are either altogether without these attributes, or have been endowed with a weaker degree of them. It should be remembered that though in this tradition, as in some other ahadith, the word fitrah is interpreted as a natural inclination towards tawhid, but this amounts to mentioning one from among a host of correlatives, or to describing the most significant component of something. This is characteristic of the expositions and interpretations handed down from the Imams(A). Often they cite one of the several meanings that apply to a verse in accordance with the propriety of a context and occasion, leading ignorant persons to imagine that there is a contradiction (between the different interpretations). A proof of that is the present case. In the above-mentioned verse, Din, which is equated to fitrat Allah, is inclusive of the doctrine of tawhid and other religious teachings as well. In the sahih tradition of 'Abd Allah ibn Sinan, "fitrah" here has been interpreted as al-'Islam; in the hasan hadith narrated by Zurarah from Abu Ja'far (al-'Imam al-Baqir)(A) it is defined as ma'ri fah (knowledge of God); and in the well-known hadith: (Every child is born on the fitrah), fitrah is placed in opposition to tahawwud (being a Jew), tanassur (being a Christian), and tamajjus (being a Zoroastrian). From this it becomes obvious that fitrah does not exclusively mean tawhid; rather it includes all the true teachings which God Almighty has ingrained in the nature of His slaves.

The Laws of Human Nature:
We know that there is not a single soul outside the laws of nature, for they are the essential conditions of human existence and the elemental forms which are innate to human nature and creation. No one escapes them; the ignorant and the learned, the barbarian and the civilized, the dwellers of cities and the inhabitants of deserts-all share it equally. None of the factors, such as diversity of customs, religious traditions and ways, can affect them or interfere with their working. The differences of geographical region, climate, association, opinion, which affect everything- even rational verities - and create disparity and diversity of all sorts, have no effect whatsoever on the essentials of nature. The disparity of intelligence and the strength and weakness of understanding do not affect it. Anything that is not such, is not a law of nature and it should be excluded from the realm of nature. Hence the ayah states: ,`He originated man kind in accordance with it', that is, no specific group or race is meant. The verse further says: `There is no changing God's creation'. It is not changed by anything, like other factors which change according to habit and custom and other such things.
But what is astonishing is that in spite of being uniform regarding their natural instincts, from the beginning of the world until the present, people have been generally ignorant of the uniformity of their nature. They imagine that it varies, unless they are made aware of its uniform and unchangeable quality. It is only then that they can understand that there has been unity despite apparent disparity. God willing, we will clarify this point further at a later stage. However the verse refers to this point when it says: (`But most men know it not'.)
From what has been said till now, it may be inferred that the laws of nature are the most self-evident of all self-evident truths. Because amongst all rational principles there does not exist such a law which is not contradicted even by a single individual, and such a thing is the most evident of logical necessities and the most self-evident of all self-evident realities. And all those things that are its necessary corollaries should also be among the most evident of logical necessities. Thus, if the doctrine of tawhid, or other related doctrines, are from among the laws of nature and one of its prerequisites, it should be the most manifest of all self-evident truths and the most evident of manifest necessities, but strangely enough: Most men know not!

The Innateness of Religious Truths:
Every exegete of the Quran, Sunni or Shi'i, has written about the innateness of Din or tawhid in his own specific way. Here we shall not base our discussion on their opinions. Rather, we shall describe the original ideas of the accomplished `arif, Shaykh Shahabadi-may his shadow be everlasting-who was unique in this field, although some of the ideas can be found in the form of allusions in the writings of researchers in the field of `irfan, and some of them have occurred to this incapable writer.
Let it be known that among God-given instincts one is the belief in the existence of the Sacred and Sublime Source of everything; the second is the belief in It's Unity, i.e. tawhid; the third is the innate belief that that Sacred Being encompasses all perfection; the fourth is the instinctive belief in the Day of Resurrection; and the fifth is the innate faith in nubuwwah (prophethood); the sixth is the instinctive belief in the existence of angels, of holy spirits, in the revelation of scriptures and the path of Divine guidance. Some of the above-mentioned are laws of nature and some others are their necessary corollaries. The faith in God, the belief in angels, the belief in the revelation of Scriptures, in God-sent Apostles, in the Day of Resurrection, and in the Din-which is firm, stable and straight-is a truth which underlines the entire life of the human species. We shall discuss here some of them which are relevant to the hadith under consideration, and beseech the Almighty's assistance in this regard.

1. Man's Love of Perfection:
To understand that the belief in the existence of the Sublime and Supreme Source is innate in human nature, one needs to understand certain preliminaries. One of the qualities innate in human nature is the love and yearning for perfection. It is something which pervades the entire chain of humanity's generations and not a single individual in the entire human species can be found without it. No custom or tradition, religious or legal institution can transform or obstruct this tendency. The natural inclination to seek perfection is so universal that if all the eras of human existence are probed and each of human individuals, no matter to what group or nation he may belong, is questioned, a love of perfection will be found to be part of his nature and his heart will be found to be pulled towards it. In all the pauses and activities, in all the efforts, endeavours and earnest toils which engage the energies of the individuals of this species in various fields of life, it is the love of perfection which drives them onwards. Although people vary regarding their identification and understanding of perfection, and although there is the greatest conceivable variance in what they regard as perfect and whom they regard as the beloved, yet each of them, having perceived his beloved in something and deeming it his ideal; turns his attention towards it. He serves it with all his heart and with the utmost love of which he is capable. Whatever the field to which he belongs and whatever the object of his love, since he identifies perfection with it, he concentrates his attention upon it. In the same manner, the men of science and crafts, each of them seeks what he considers as perfection and loves what appears to him as the beloved. The same is true of the other-worldly and of those who give themselves up to reflection and meditation.
In brief, all of them are turned towards perfection, and since they see it in a real or imaginary object, they love it earnestly. But it should be remembered that in spite of it all, their infatuation and obsession is really not for those ideals or objects which they imagine to be their beloved. The object of their love and the ka'bah of their hopes is not that which they have fancied. For, if he were to ponder over his nature, he will realize that to whatever object his heart is devoted, if he attains something superior to it his heart turns away from the original ideal and towards another, a higher one. And when he attains that higher one, he turns towards one which is higher and more perfect, and the fire of eagerness grows more intense day by day and his heart does not settle down at any one of the stages. For example, if you are in love with physical beauty and see it in some beauty, your heart drives you towards her abode and alley. But if you happen to see a face more beautiful, and you find it to be so, you will inevitably turn your attention towards it, or, at least, both of them will now hold your attention, and the fire of your passion will not cool down. Your condition is that of the man who said, "I haven't a penny but would buy the entire estate," and you would desire to possess every beauty. Not only this, even a probability may excite your eagerness. If you have an inkling that there is someone prettier in a certain place, your heart may take you on a journey to that place and your state of mind will be like him who said: "Though in the midst of the crowd, my heart is somewhere else." Mere wish will add to your eagerness. If you listen to the descriptions of Paradise and about the enticing beauties therein, even though, God forbid, you should be a disbeliever in it, nevertheless, your natural instinct will make you say, " O that such a heaven did exist and such lovely dames would fall to my share."
In the same manner, a man who seeks perfection in domination, power and expansion of territories and develops eagerness for such things, if he is given the possession of one country, he will turn towards another; when that too comes under his domination, he will desire for some more territory. If he is given a quarter of the earth, he will try to own the remaining ones also. Rather, the intensity of his desire grows more and more, and if the whole planet is brought under his domination, he will contemplate about the possibility of expanding it to other spheres of the cosmos as well. His heart views the celestial spheres with the desire of conquest: "O that man could fly towards those worlds, that I could annex them to my empire." Similar is the case of men of science and craft and that of the entire human species. Whatever the activity and field of their concern, their eagerness grows with achievement and is directed towards the higher degrees of perfection. The more they progress and advance, the more their eagerness grows for the higher degrees of perfection; its fire is never extinguished and becomes more intense every day.
Thus, this light of nature guides us to the fact that the hearts of all the members of human species, from the people inhabiting far-flung regions of the world to the dwellers of civilized countries, from believers in materialism to the followers of various religious creeds, all yearn by nature and from the core of their hearts to attain immaculate perfection. They long for an absolute beauty and perfection which has no defect, for a knowledge that has no trace of ignorance in it, for a power acid domination that is not accompanied with impotence and weakness, for a life that has no death, and, ultimately, the Absolute Perfection that is the beloved of everyone. All the existents and the entire human species declare unanimously with one heart and in eloquent and lucid terms: We are lovers of Absolute Perfection; we are enamoured to Absolute Beauty and Majesty; we are in search of Absolute Knowledge and Absolute Power.
Does anyone know of any being in the entire realm of existence, or in the spheres of fancy and imagination, or in the realm of rational abstractions, which possesses the attributes of absolute perfection and absolute beauty, except the Sacred Essence of the Supreme Majestic Source of the cosmos? Does anybody know of any absolute, immaculate beauty, except that of the Absolute Beloved?
O wanderers of the valley of regret! O the lost ones in the wilderness of error! Rather, O lovers of the lamp of Absolute Beauty! O Seekers of the immaculate and the eternal Beloved! Look again into the book of your nature; turn the pages of the book of your being. Look, the pen of Divine creation has written into it: I have turned my face towards Him who created the heavens and the earth ....
... God's nature upon which He originated mankind. (6:79; 30:30)
That nature is innate attention to the Absolute Beloved, and it is unchanging: It is a nature which seeks the knowledge (ma`rifah) of God. How long will you lavish this natural God-gifted love and this trust of God on this or that beloved on account of your misconceived ideas? If the object of your love were these imperfect beauties and these finite perfections, then why doesn't the fire of your love subside after reaching them and why does the flame of your love grow fiercer on attaining them? Now wake up from the slumber, receive the glad tiding, and rejoice that you have a beloved who has no decline, no defect, no infirmity. The Light you seek is one whose brilliance illuminates the Universe: God is the Light of the heavens and the earth .... (24:35)
Your Beloved is such that He encompasses everything Thus, this actual love of yours seeks the Actual Beloved. It cannot be an imaginary beloved of your fancy, since every imaginary thing is imperfect, and your nature yearns for perfection. Thus an actual lover and an actual love is not possible without an actual beloved. And there is no other beloved except the Perfect Being, towards whom human nature is directed. Hence the prerequisite for the love of absolute perfection is the existence of the Absolutely Perfect Being. And, as mentioned earlier, the laws of nature and their necessary correlatives are the clearest, the most self-evident and the most obvious of prepositions. Hence it has been said: ... Can there be doubt concerning God the Creator of the heavens and the earth?! (14:10)

2. The Innateness of Divine Attributes:
That the belief in the unity of the Divine Essence is innate and so is the belief that the Divine Being encompasses all the attributes of perfection became known in the above section; here we shall prove this in a different manner.
It should be known to you that one of the characteristics of the nature upon which God has fashioned mankind is a loathing for imperfection. Man is by nature averse to everything he perceives as defective and faulty.
Thus imperfection and defectiveness are repulsive to human nature, for it is inclined towards absolute perfection. Now, the pole of attraction of human nature should be one and unique, because everything capable of plurality and everything made up of parts is imperfect and defective. Plurality is always associate with finitude, (which is a defect), and everything that is defective is repelled by human nature, which is not attracted towards it. The presence of these two natures-that is, the nature of attraction towards perfection and the nature of repulsion towards defectiveness-not only posits the principle of tawhid, it also pits that the Being of God encompasses every perfection and that It is free from every defect. The blessed Surat al-Tawhid, which is about the Being of God, the Exalted and the Supreme, relates, in the words of our revered Shaykh--may my soul be his ransom-to the Ipseity of the Absolute, which is the pole of attraction of the human nature. At the outset of the surah, it is referred to as huwa (He), followed by the six attributes mentioned in the following verses. Since His sacred Essence has an absolute ipseity (huwiyyah) (an absolute ipseity must be absolutely perfect; otherwise it is a finite ipseity), the Divine Being encompasses all perfections. `Allah', (which follows the pronoun huwa in the surah), shows that in spite of encompassing all perfections, It is simple (basit); otherwise It would not have an absolute ipseity . Thus, He is ahad (unique) and His ahadiyyah (uniqueness) necessitates His wahidiyyah (oneness). And since absolute ipseity includes all perfections and is free from all defects-which originate in finite ipseity He is Samad (Eternal, the End, Goal and Refuge of every thing) and is not vacuous. On account of His being absolute ipseity, nothing is begotten or separated from Him, nor is He Himself separated from anything. He is lam yalid wa lam yulad, i.e. He begetteth not, nor was begotten; rather, He is the Source of everything and the End to which all existents return without having separated from Him, for separation necessitates defectiveness. Absolute Ipseity has no equal either, since absolute perfection precludes recurrence. Thus, the blessed Surat al-Tawhid is about the laws of human nature and is concerned with the attributes of the Divine Being.

3. Innateness of-the Belief in Resurrection:
Here we shall discuss the innateness of the belief in Resurrection (al-ma'ad) as something ingrained in human nature. Like the other beliefs dealt with in the previous sections, it can be proved in a number of ways. Here we shall mention only some of them.
Know that one of the God-given innate tendencies that are ingrained in the nature of the entire human species is the love of comfort. If all the epochs of human existence--from civilized existence to barbarian subsistence, from eras of piety to that of pagan rebellion-are studied and if all the different kinds of individuals-from the learned to the ignorant, from the noble to the mean, and from the savage to the urbanized-are questioned as to the aim of all their various attachments and pursuits and their diverse desires, and if they are asked about the purpose of their hardships and labours, all will unanimously answer in one voice with the unambiguous tongue of nature that whatever we desire is for the sake of our comfort. They will say that the ultimate goal and the purpose underlying all their aspirations and hopes is absolute comfort, untainted with labour, toil and distress. Since such a toilless, painless comfort is the goal of all, everyone imagines that lost comfort to lie in some thing and develops an interest in every such thing which he believes to be associated with that desired goal. This, in spite of the fact that such an absolute comfort is not to be found in any part of this world of ephemeral existence, nor is such an undisturbed peace and rest possible here. All the bounties and blessings of this world are mixed with tiresome effort and exhausting toil. All the pleasures of the world are surrounded with unnerving pains. Pain and agony, anguish and sorrow, anxiety and grief prevail all over the world. Throughout the entire history of human existence, not a single individual is to be seen whose pains and sufferings are equal to his comforts and whose joys and blessings are equal to his sorrows, distresses and toils, let alone the possession of untainted comfort and undisturbed rest.
Accordingly, the ultimate human goal is not to be found in this world, and no natural, inherent and actual love-and that too a love which pervades the entire species-is possible without the existence of an actual beloved. Hence, there should exist such a world in the realm of existence where comforts will not be adulterated with labour and pain, whose ease and repose be absolute and pure, unmixed by pain, whose joys should be pure, unmarred by grief and suffering. That world is the House of Divine bounty (dar al-na`im), the world of the manifestation of His magnanimity.
That world can also be posited by means of the freedom-loving nature of man and the insistence of the human will, which are ingrained in the nature of every human individual. Since the material forces of this world and the conditions therein, with its impediments and restrictions, are opposed to human freedom and contrary to the human will, there should be a world in the realm of existence where man's will can be influential and whose material forces are not opposed to the dictates of the human will. Man would be there a free actor, accomplishing the aspirations of his sovereign will, a sovereignty which is demanded by his nature. Thus the aspects of the innate love of comfort and love of freedom are two natural tendencies that have been embedded by God in the unchanging nature of the human being. They are the two wings with which man flies towards the higher kingdom of heaven and into the Nearness of God.
There are certain other matters which are not of immediate relevance to these pages. There are other natural tendencies in man which posit other Divine teachings, such as the affirmation of prophethood, the raising of Divine apostles and the descent of the scriptures, and so on. Each of the above-mentioned natural tendencies proves all the sacred doctrines, but we have confined our discussion in order not to digress much from the main topic, which is exposition of the glorious tradition at hand. Hitherto our discussion showed that the knowledge of the Source, Its Perfection and Unity, and that of the Hereafter is innate in human nature. And all praise is God's.
[1]. Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi (Akhundi), II, 12, hadith No.2.

On Remembrance of God

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni - may God be pleased with him -from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Isa, from Ibn Mahbub, from 'Abd Allah ibn Sinan, from Abu Hamzah al-Thumali, from Abu Ja'far (A) that he said: "It is written in the Torah that has not been altered that Moses (A) asked his Lord (saying): 'O Lord! (Tell me) art Thou near me, so that I should pray to Thee in whispers, or art Thou far, that I should cry out. to Thee?' Thereat God Almighty revealed to him: 'O Moses! I am the companion of one who remembers me.' Moses said: 'Who are those that shall be in Thy refuge on the day when there shall be no refuge except Thy refuge?' He replied: 'Those who remember Me, whom I do remember; those who love one another for My sake, whom I love. They are those whom I remember whenever I wish to strike the earth's people with affliction, and consequently spare them on their account.'" [1]

It is shown by this noble tradition that the Torah current amongst the Jews is a corrupted and an altered one. The knowledge of the true Torah was with the Ahl al-Bayt (A). From the contents of the current Torah and Gospels it appears that they do not meet the standard of even the speech commonly acceptable of a human being (to say nothing of the criterion of Divine speech); rather, the delusions of some followers of carnal lust and desire have been incorporated in them.
The researcher and traditionist al-Majlisi - may God's mercy be upon him - says: "It appears that the intention of Hadrat Musa by this question was to inquire about the etiquette of prayer, while he knew that God is nearer to one than his jugular vein, with an encompassing nearness based on knowledge, power and causal efficiency. He meant to say, `Do You like to be prayed to in whispers, like one speaks to someone near, or should I call You like one who calls out to someone far away?' In other words, 'When 'I look at You, I find You nearer than anything that is near, and when I look at myself I find myself .at a far distance. Thus, I don't know whether I should take into consideration Your situation in my prayer or my own condition:' And it is possible that this question was made on behalf of someone else, like the question related to the possibility of Beatific vision" (mentioned in the Qur'an, 7:148).
It is possible that Moses intended to express his feeling of loss and wonder in respect of the manner of praying. He meant to say, "O Lord! You are too immaculate and above everything for nearness and farness to be attributable to You, that I may address You as one who is near or one who is far. Hence I am at a loss in this matter, for I do not consider any manner of prayer to be suitable for Your glorious station. So permit me to pray, and show me its manner. Teach me that which is appropriate for Your sacred station." The answer came from the Source of Glory and Majesty that, "I, as the Sustainer, am present in all the manifold levels and realms of existence. All the worlds constitute My presence. Yet, I am the companion of those who remember Me and am by the side of those who call Me."
Of course, proximity and distance cannot be attributed to that Sacred Essence. It possesses the encompassment of sustenance (ihateh ye qayyumi i.e. the encompassment that God Almighty possesses over all being as its sustainer) and existential all-inclusiveness (shumul-e wujudi) over all the domains of being and all the streams of reality. However, that which is mentioned in the noble verses of the Glorious Book of God regarding the attribution of nearness and proximity to God Almighty, such as the verses, And when My servants question thee concerning Me, (tell them that) I am near to answer the call of the caller, when he calls to Me .... (2:186)
...and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein, (50:16)
and others like them, constitute a kind of metaphor and allegory. Otherwise, His sacred being is above proximity and distance, physical or immaterial; for these qualities entail limitation (tahdid) and likeness (tashb'ih, i.e. to creatures) and God Almighty is beyond them. Rather, the presence of all existents in the court of His sanctity is a relational presence, and the encompassment of that Sacred Essence over the particles of the universe and the chains of existents is the encompassment of sustenance, which is something other than sensible or spiritual presence and is different from outward and inward encompassment.
From this noble tradition, and some other traditions as well, the preference for concealed remembrance (dhikr-e khafi) and the desirability of remembrance within the heart and secretly can be inferred. This is also indicated by the noble verse: Remember thy Lord in thy soul, humbly and fearfully, not loud of voice, at morn and eventide. (7:205)
In a noble tradition it is stated that the reward (thawab) of this remembrance, on account of its greatness, is known to none except God Almighty. In some circumstances and states the preference may lie with overt remembrance, like the remembrance done in front of the negligent for the sake of reminding them. Hence it is mentioned in a noble tradition of al-Kafi that one who recalls God Almighty amongst the negligent is like one who fights against the muharibun (i.e. those who have taken up arms against God and Islam). The following tradition is mentioned in the `Uddat al-dai of Ibn Fahd: ...The narrator says that the Prophet (S) said: "One who recalls God in the marketplace, with sincerity, in the midst of the people's obliviousness and their engagement in its affairs, God writes for him a thousand merits and forgives him on the Day of Resurrection with a forgiveness that has not occurred to any human heart." [2]
Similarly, it is mustahabb to make the dhikr aloud in the adhan, in sermons, and other things.
It is stated in this noble tradition that the remembrance of God and mutual love and friendship for His sake have certain characteristics. One of them, which is more important than the others, is that the remembrance' of God by the servant results in God's remembering him, and this matter is also mentioned in other traditions. This remembrance stands in opposition to the neglect (nisyan) mentioned by God Almighty in relation to one who forgets God's ayat (signs, verses): (He shall say, `O my Lord, why hast Thou raised me blind, and I was wont to see?' God shall say,) `Even so it is. Our ayat came unto thee, and thou didst forget them; and so today thou art forgotten.' (20:126)
In the same way as the forgetting of the ayat and inward blindness to the manifestations of Divine glory and beauty result in blindness in the other world, so do the remembrance of the ayat, the Names, and the Attributes and the remembrance of God, His beauty and majesty strengthen the inward vision and remove the obscuring screens in proportion to the strength of the dhikr and its luminosity. When the remembrance of the ayat becomes a faculty (malakah), the inner vision becomes so strong that it begins to see Divine beauty in the ayat. The remembrance of the Names and the Attributes results in the vision of God in the manifestations of the Names and the Attributes (tajalliyat-e asma'iyyah wa sifatiyyah). The remembrance of the Essence without the veils of .the ayat, Names and Attributes removes all the veils and affords the unobstructed vision of the Beloved. And this is one of the interpretations of `the triple victories' (futuhat-e thalathah) which make up the highest delight of the `urafa' and alwliya`: fath-e qar'ib (the nearer victory), fath-e mubin (the manifest victory), and fath-e mutlaq (the absolute victory), which is fath al-futuh, the ultimate victory.
In the same way as the threefold remembrance removes the threefold veils, mutual love for the sake of God also leads to God's love, and the result of this love is also the removal of veils, as pointed out by the illustrious `urafa'.
Obviously, this love (God's love) has also various degrees, for the love for the sake of God has also many levels in respect of sincerity and vitiation. Complete sincerity is that which is free even from the flaw of the plurality of the Names and Attributes (kathrat-e asma i wa sifati), and it results in complete love. The absolute lover will not be deprived of communion in the code of love, and there will remain no obstruction between the lover and the Beloved. With this exposition, we may establish a relation between the two questions of Moses - upon whom be peace. For after hearing God Almighty declare that He is the companion (jalis) of one who remembers Him, and after hearing from the Beloved Himself the promise which he coveted in his heart, of the union with the Beauty, he wanted to discover the identity of those who shall achieve the union, so that he may fulfil his duty in all its aspects. Hence he asked: Who are they that shall be in Thy refuge on the day when there shall be no refuge except Thy refuge?
That is, who are they who, in Thy refuge, have attained emancipation from all attachments and freedom from obstructive barriers, attaining communion with Thy supreme beauty? He is told: `They are the two groups: those who are in My remembrance, and those who love one another mutually, who are also in My remembrance in respect of the complete manifestation of My beauty, that is man. They are in My refuge, being My companions and I theirs.' This shows that these two groups possess one great quality, which results in another great characteristic. Because God Almighty remembers them and makes them His beloved ones, the result is that they obtain His refuge on the day when there is no refuge, their companion being God in the place of absolute seclusion. The other characteristic is that God Almighty spares His creatures of chastisement for the sake of their nobility. That is, as long as they are in the midst of the creatures, He does not send chastisement and calamities upon them for the sake of them.

The Difference between Tafakkur and Tadhakkur:
Let it be known to you that tadhakkur (remembrance) is the result of tafakkur (contemplation). Hence the station of tafakkur has been considered to precede that of tadhakkur. Khwajah `Abd Allah al-'Ansari says: Tadhakkur stands above tafakkur, for verily tafakkur is the search (of the Beloved) and tadhakkur is the attainment (of the Beloved).
As long as man is on the path of search, he is separate from the searched object. With the finding of the searched beloved, he is relieved of the labour of search. The strength and the perfection of tadhakkur is dependent on the strength and perfection of tafakkur. The tafakkur whose result is complete tadhakkur of the Worshipped One does not compare with other actions in regard to merit. Accordingly, in the noble traditions, an hour of tafakkur is considered to be better than the `ibadah (worship) of a year, or even that of sixty or seventy years. It is obvious that the ultimate goal and fruit of the `ibadat is the attainment of the knowledge and remembrance of God, and this is better attainable through valid contemplation. Perhaps, an hour's contemplation may open to the wayfarer the door to mystic knowledge, which may not be opened even by seventy years of `ibadah, or it may make a human being so mindful of the Beloved that not even the austerities of several years can be able to achieve such a result.
And my dear, let it be known to you, the remembrance of the Beloved and keeping the heart engaged in the memory of the Adored One have many results for all the classes of people. As to the perfect ones, the awliya' and the `urafa', it is the ultimate goal of their hopes, under whose shadow they receive communion with the Beloved's splendour - may it do them much good! As to the ordinary people and the mutawassitun, it is the noblest of the formative agents of morality and conduct, in outward as well as inward life.
If man remain in the remembrance of God Almighty in all conditions and states, and see himself as present in the court of that Sacred Essence, he would of course refrain from the matters which are contrary to His good pleasure, and check the self from rebelliousness. All the calamities and afflictions brought about by the carnal self and the accursed Satan are due to forgetting God and His chastisement. The forgetting of God increases the darkness of the heart and allows the carnal self and Satan to dominate the human being, thus multiplying his afflictions day by day. The remembrance of God gives polish and burnish to the heart and makes it a reflector of the Beloved's beauty. It purifies the soul and liberates the self of the human being from bondages. The love of the world, which is the source of all error and the fountainhead of all sin, is purged from the heart. All the anxieties and concerns are replaced by the sole concern of purifying the dwelling of the heart for the sake of the entry of the Dweller.
Therefore, my dear, whatever pains and hardships that you bear in. the path of the dhikr and remembrance of the Beloved are little. Accustom your heart to the remembrance of the Beloved, so that, God willing, the heart itself takes on the form of dhikr, so that the immaculate pronouncement la ilaha illa Allah becomes the ultimate form and the furthest limit of perfection of the self. There is no better provision for the wayfarer in his journey toward God, no better reformer for the defects of the soul, and no better guide to the Divine teachings.
Hence, if you are a seeker of the formal and spiritual excellences, if you are a wayfarer of the Hereafter's path, a traveller and emigrant towards Allah, habituate the heart to the Beloved's dhikr and knead it with the remembrance of God.

The Complete Dhikr:
Although the remembrance of God and the dhikr of that Sacred Essence is a quality of the heart, and if the heart is immersed in dhikr all the benefits that accrue from it are obtained by the heart, it is better that the remembrance in the heart be followed by oral dhikr. The most perfect and meritorious of the degrees of dhikr is that it should be present in all levels of a man's existence, that its domain should extend to the outward and the inward, the manifest and the concealed realms of his being.
Thereat God, the Supreme and the Glorious, becomes manifest in the core of his being. The inward form of the heart and the soul take the form of the Beloved's remembrance, and the actions of the heart and the body take on the form of remembrance. The seven realms of corporeal being, as well as the inward domains, are conquered by the Divine dhikr and made subject to the remembrance of the Absolute Beauty. Rather, if the inward form of the heart assumes the reality of dhikr, and the realm of the heart is conquered by it, its sovereignty extends to all the other domains. The movements and pauses of the eyes, the tongue, the hands and the feet, and the actions of all other members and faculties, are accompanied with the remembrance of God, making no move against their duties. Thereupon, their movements and pauses begin and end with the dhikr of God: In the Name of Allah shall be its course and its berthing. (11:41)
Its influence penetrates into all the realms, which are moulded as a result in accordance with the reality of the Names and the Attributes. Rather, they assume the form of the Greatest of the Names of Allah (ism Allah al-'a'zam), becoming its manifestation (mazhar). And this is the ultimate limit of human perfection and the ultimate goal of the hopes of the elect of Allah (ahl Allah). To the same degree that there is an inadequacy in this regard and a shortcoming in the influence of dhikr, to the same extent does the degree of human excellence falls short of perfection, for the inadequacies of the inward and the outward interpenetrate each other. This is because the various spheres of human existence are interrelated and subject to mutual influence. It is from here that it is known that oral remembrance (dhikr-e nutqi wa zabani), which is the lowest level of dhikr, is also beneficial. For it means, firstly, that the tongue carries out its obligation, although its movement is only formal, devoid of spirit. Secondly, there is the possibility that persistence in this dhikr, with due regard to its conditions, may become a means of opening the tongue of the heart too.
Our shaykh, the perfect `arif Shahabadi - may my soul be his ransom - would say: "The dhakir (one who performs dhikr), during dhikr, must be like one teaching words to a little child that has not yet learnt to speak. He repeats the word until the child's tongue is opened and the latter utters the word. After that the child has articulated it, the teacher follows the child and his fatigue caused by repetition is removed, as if he has received an encouraging assistance from the child. In the same way, one who engages in dhikr must teach dhikr to his heart, which has not learnt to articulate. The point that is concealed in the repetition of the adhkar is that thereby the tongue of the heart is opened, and its sign is that thereafter the tongue follows the heart and the hardship and strain of repetition is removed. First, it is the tongue which is dhakir and following it the heart also becomes dhakir with the tongue's aid and instruction. After that the heart's tongue has learnt to articulate, the tongue follows it and becomes dhakir with the aid of the heart or God's concealed assistance.
And it should be known that the outward and formal actions don't have the capacity of life in the world of the ghayb or malakut except when they received assistance from the inward realm of the spirit and the heart's core, which bestows on them a spiritual life (hayat-e malakuti). That spiritual breath, which is the form of the sincerity of intention and sincere intention, is like the inward soul, following which the body too is resurrected in the realm of malakut and permitted entry into the Divine court. Therefore, it is stated in the noble traditions that the acceptability of (physical) deeds. is in accordance with the measure of the heart's receptivity and responsiveness (iqbal-e qalb). In spite of it oral dhikr is desirable, and it ultimately leads man to reach the Truth. Accordingly, in the traditions and reports, oral dhikr has been greatly extolled and there are few topics regarding which there is as much a great number of traditions as the topic of dhikr. It has also been greatly extolled in the noble verses of the Glorious Book, although most of them pertain to inward dhikr (dhikr-e qalbi), or the dhikr possessing soul. The remembrance of God is lovable on whatever level that it takes place. At this stage we conclude this discourse by mentioning some noble traditions at the end for the sake of tabarruk and tayammun.

Some Traditions Concerning Dhikr:
In al-Kafi, it is reported with a sahih chain of transmission from al-Fudayl ibn Yasir that al-'Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A) said: "There is no gathering in which the virtuous and the sinful come together and thereafter stand up to leave without mentioning God Almighty except that it would be a cause of regret to them on the Day of Resurrection. " [3]
It is obvious that when man discovers the great results of the dhikr of God on the Day of Resurrection and finds himself deprived of them, he will realize the irreparable loss of the bounties and delights incurred by him. As a result he will be seized with regret and remorse. Hence, as long as there is opportunity, a human being must take advantage of his gatherings and assemblies, letting them not remain empty of God's remembrance.
In al-Kafi, it is reported with a muwaththaq chain of transmission from al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) that he said: "Whoever desires to receive the full measure (of God's blessing) should say while standing up after a gathering: 'Free is thy Lord, the Lord of Glory, from what they describe. And peace be upon the Messengers; and praise belongs to God, the Lord of all being.' " [4]
And it is narrated from al-'Imam al-Sadiq that Amir al-Mu'minin (A) said, "Whoever wants to receive the full measure of recompense on the Day of Resurrection should read these noble verses following every salat". [5] Also it is reported in a mursal tradition from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that recitation of these verses at the time of the end of a gathering is an atonement for sins. [6]
Al-Kafi, in a marfu' hadith, narrates with its chain of transmission from Ibn Faddal, from one of the Imams (A) that he said, "God Almighty said to Jesus, upon whom be peace, 'O Jesus, remember Me in thy self, so that I may remember thee within My self. Mention Me in thy assembly so that I may mention thee in an assembly better than the assembly of men. O Jesus, soften thy heart for Me and remember Me much in thy solitude. Know that My delight lies in thy doing tabasbus toward Me. And be alive. in that and don't be dead.' [7]
Tabasbus means the dog's wagging of its tail, out of fear or hope, and this alludes to the intensity of eagerness and humility. By `life' in remembrance is meant the presence and attention of the heart.
Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) said: "Verily God Almighty has said, 'One who is kept by My remembrance from asking something of Me, I bestow upon him the best of what I have bestowed upon any petitioner that has asked anything of Me. " [8]
...Ahmad ibn Fahd narrates in 'Uddat al-dai from the Messenger of Allah (S) that he said, "The best of your acts near God and the purest and sublimest of them in degree and the best thing upon which the sun has shone is the remembrance of God Almighty. Verily He has informed you, saying, 'I am the companion of him who remembers Me.' " [9]
The traditions concerning the excellence of dhikr, its manner, etiquette and conditions are so many that to mention them is beyond the capacity of these pages.
And praise is God's at the beginning and the end, inwardly and outwardly.


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