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Saturday 4th of February 2023
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The Prophet's Counsel to 'Ali (part3)

. On the Fear of God Almighty:

Know that the fear of God, the Exalted, is one of the stages that is hardly(barely) equalled by any other in respect of the common people. Aside from the fact that this fear is itself one of spiritual excellences, it is the source of many virtues of the spirit and one of the important reforming agents of the soul. Rather, it may be reckoned as the mainspring of all reform and the healing source of all spiritual ailments. A human being with faith in God and a wayfarer and emigrant towards Allah should give utmost importance to this stage and pay great attention to everything that increases it in the heart and strengthens its roots, such as the remembrance of chastisement and punishment, recalling the severity of the perilous passes of death, and, after death, those of Barzakh and resurrection, the terrors of the Sirat, the Balance, the scrutinies of the Reckoning, and the various punishments of hell, as well, as the remembrance of the Might, Glory, Irresistibility, and Sovereignty of God and the remembrance of the gradualness of deviation (istidraj), the Divine stratagems, the possible evil of one's ultimate end and the like. Since we have in these pages described all these stages to some extent, we shall confine ourselves here to citing some traditions concerning the merits of the fear of God:

 

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub reports with his isnad from Ishaq ibn `Ammar that he said: "Abu `Abd Allah-may peace be upon him-said: `O Ishaq, fear God as if you see Him. For if you don't see Him, indeed He sees you. And if you imagine that He does not see you, you have disbelieved. And if you know that indeed He sees you and yet go forth to disobey Him, then you have made Him the least of onlookers who behold you.' "

Know that if someone should understand the character of the manifestation of the Divine in mulk and malakut and the revelation of that Sacred Essence in the heavens and the earths, either through unmediated (huduri) experience, or epiphany, or through real faith, and should he apprehend the relation of God to creation and the relation of creation to God as it really is, and should he have the knowledge of the character of the manifestation of the Divine Will in determinate things and their dissolution fana'in it, as it really is, he would know that God, the Exalted, is present in all places and realms, and he would observe Him with unmediated knowledge (`ilm huduri) in all existents, as stated by al-Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him:

 

I don't see a thing without seeing God with it (or in it).

In the intimacy of the nawafil (supererogatory prayers) the true meaning of:

 

I will be his hearing, his sight and his hand,

and other than that will become disclosed to him. Then, he will see, in accordance with his own station, the Divine Presence in all the levels of being, knowledgewise or faithwise or through direct experience and epiphany. Of course, at this stage, the wayfarer-whatever his rank-would observe the etiquette of the Divine Presence and refrain from the defiance of that Sacred Essence. That is because the observance of presence and its etiquette is something innate in human beings, and no matter how shameless a person might be, absence and presence [of someone are not the same for him, especially when the presence is that of the All-mighty and the All-perfect Provider, which is independently impressed in the presence-observing nature of everyone.

The Disparity of People in Observing the Divine Presence:

It should be known that every believer, wayfarer, gnostic, and wali observes the etiquette of the Divine Presence in a manner that is special to him. Hence the faithful and the God-fearing consider observance of the presence to lie in abstaining from unlawful things and in observing the precepts. The majdhubun consider it to lie in refraining from attending to other-than-God and in directing one's perfect and complete attention to God. The awliya' and the Perfect consider it to lie in the negation of otherness, as well as the negation of the ego. In fine, one of the sublime stations of the gnostics and the people of the heart is the experience of Divine Presence and its observance. Hence, with the apprehension of the character of God's active knowledge and the dissolution of all things in His Sacred Essence and the presence of all beings before Him, and with the understanding that the realm of being is present before the Lord, each of them, whatever his station, observes the requisites of presence. Also, this is an innate characteristic of the human nature.

The Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his Household-has referred to the first station in the spiritual counsel that he gave to Hadrat Amir-may peace be upon him-and which we are now engaged in expounding. The same station is referred to in the noble tradition narrated by Ishaq ibn `Ammar, wherein the Imam-may peace be upon him-says:

 

...And the third thing is to fear God-sublime is His remembrance-as if you see Him.

And where he says:

 

Fear God as if you see Him.

Al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-refers to the second station where he says:

 

For if you don't see Him, verily He sees you.

Al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-refers to the natural proclivity to observe presence in his statement:

 

And if you know that He indeed sees you ....

Further, there are various levels of the fear in accordance with the different levels of the faithful, the wayfarers, and the people of austerities and gnosis, and one of its higher levels is the fear of the Greatness of God and the manifestations of Divine Might and Glory. It is possible not to reckon this station as a level of `fear', as stated by the famous `arif in Manazil al-sa'irin:

 

That is, there exists no fear for the people of the heart and the mystries of wilayah except the awe of Divine Majesty, Magnificence, Greatness, and Glory.

On the Virtues of Lamentation:

There are many virtues in weeping and lamenting for the tear of God. As mentioned in this noble hadith, God shall build(set up) a thousand mansions in paradise for every tear that is shed in fear of Him. The venerable Shaykh Saduq-may God be pleased with him-narrates with his unbroken chain of transmission from al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-from his forefathers, from the Noblest Messenger-may God bless him and his Household-that he said in a tradition relating to certain things that one should refrain from: "One whose eyes weep from the fear of God shall be bestowed for every tear that he sheds a palace ornamented with jewels and pearls every paradise the like of which no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no heart has ever imagined."

 

In the Thawab al-'a'mal (al-Shaykh al-Saduq reports) with his isnad from Abu Ja'far-may peace be upon him-that he said: "The Messenger of Allah-may Allah bless him and his Household-said: `Except God, there is nothing that doesn't have an equal, for, verily, nothing equals Him. And there is nothing which equals [the statement], "There is no god except God." And [the worth of] a tear shed in fear of God cannot be weighed by anything, for the face on which it flows shall never ever he covered with abasement and humiliation thereafter.' "

In al-Kafi, it is narrated from al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-that "Everything has a weight and measure except tears, for a tear is sufficient to extinguish seas of fire." And he said: "If there is a single person who weeps [out of fear of God] in a community (ummah), all of its members receive Divine mercy." There is a large number of traditions containing this theme. 

Concerning Doubts Regarding Disproportionate Award:

That which is essential to point out here is that some feeble souls lacking conviction question the possibility of such great rewards for trivial(lightweight) matters. They are ignorant of the fact than if something appears small to us in this world that does not prove that its Hidden and malakuti form be trivial and insignificant as well. For it is often the case that a minute creature has an inward and malakuti being that is extremely great and magnificent. Thus the holy frame and physical form of the last and the noblest of Messengers, the honoured and the venerable Prophet-may God bless him and his Household-was one of the small existents of this world, whereas his holy spirit encompassed the realms of mulk and malakut and was the mediating means for the creation of the heavens and the earths. Therefore, to judge(assess) the inward and malakuti form of something as trivial and small, presumes the knowledge of the world of malakut and the inward reality of things. Hence the like of us have no right to make such a judgement. Rather, we should open our ears to the pronouncements of those who have the knowledge of the world of Hereafter, that is, the prophets and the awliya'-may peace be upon there.

Another point is that the basis of that world rests on the expansive bounteousness and the infinite mercy of God, Glorious and Exalted. There is no limit Or hound to the munificence of God, the Exalted, arid it is the height of ignorance and nescience to doubt the generosity of the Absolutely Generous and the infinite mercy of the All-merciful. All these bounties that He has bestowed upon His creatures, which minds cannot encompass, or, rather, even the comprehension of whose general features confounds the intellects, have been awarded without asking and without any background of deservedness. So why should it appear incredible(unbelieavable) if He, out of His sheer generosity and without any prior deservedness, gives a manifold reward to His servants? A world whose very basis has been decreed in accordance with [the principle of] the influence of the human will, and regarding which He has said:

 

Therein is whatever the souls desire, and the eyes delight in (43:71)

is it possible to regard it as tar-fetched and improbable, although that which the human soul desires is without limit and boundless? God, Blessed and Exalted, has so determined that world and has so fashioned the human will that anything that it wills would come into existence by the sheer act of the will.

My dear! The number of the noble traditions and narrations relating to this kind of rewards is not one or two so that there should remain any room for denial. Rather, their number exceeds the limit of tawatur. All the reliable and trustworthy works of hadith are replete with this kind of traditions. They are such as if we have heard them directly from the Infallible Ones themselves, may peace be upon them. Their character is not such as to allow one to take resort in interpretation (ta'wil). Therefore, to deny the truth of this matter without any grounds-a matter that is in accordance with mutawatir texts and is not contrary to any discursive proof, or rather agrees with a certain kind of proof-such a denial springs from weakness of faith and extreme ignorance. Man should submit to the statements of the prophets and the awliya'-may peace be upon them. Nothing is better for human perfection than submission to the awliya' of God, especially in matters which human reason cannot fathom and there is no way to whose understanding except the way of revelation and prophethood. Should man try to butt in his inadequate intellect and his fancies and presumptions on matters of the Hidden and the Hereafter and those relating to worship and religious law, that would ultimately lead him, little by little and in gradual stages, to deny even the self-evident necessities of the faith. Even if, supposedly, you should doubt the authenticity of the traditions and their chains of transmission-though there is no room for such a doubt-you cannot question the authority of the Noble Scripture of God, the Glorious and the Celestial Qur'an. The likes of such rewards are also mentioned there, as in the following statements of God, the Exalted:

 

The Night of al-Qadr is better than a thousand months. (97:3)

 

The likeness of those who expend their wealth in the way of God is as the likeness of a grain of corn that sprouts seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. So God multiplies unto whom He will, God is All-embracing, All-Knowing. (2:261)

My conjecture is that one of the factors responsible for the tendency to regard such rewards as far-fetched and unlikely and to deny their truth is the exaggerated sense of the worth of our works and pride in them. For instance, if someone fasts on a day and spends a whole night in prayer and later on hears that such acts have a very great reward, he does not regard such a thing as unlikely, although such a thing is far-fetched if one were to go by (the proportionality of) wages and work. But since he considers this act of his as something big and takes pride in it, he affirms the otherworldly reward of that act.

My dear! This entire duration of our lives, which is some fifty or sixty years. Even if, supposedly, we carry out therein all our religious duties and leave the world with a sound faith, with righteous deeds, and a valid repentance, what measure of reward, do you think, do this measure of works and this faith of ours deserve? Yet, in accordance with the Book and the Sunnah and the consensus of all religious creeds, such a person receives Divine mercy and goes to paradise, a paradise where he will enjoy everlasting gifts and comfort and dwell in eternal mercy, bliss and fragrance. Is there any room for denying the truth of this? And if one were to go by the idea of compensation for work-that is, if we make the invalid assumption that our works deserve compensation-it could not be so disproportionate(uneven), quality- as well as quantity-wise, to be beyond the comprehension of human reason. This shows that the matter is based on another foundation and revolves around some other axis. If we understand this, there no longer remains any ground for denying this truth or considering it unlikely and far-fetched.


source : Forty Hadith/ by Imam Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khumayni
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