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Disciplines of reciting the Divine Book

One of the important disciplines of reciting the Divine Book, shared by the gnostic and the common man, and which brings about good results causing luminosity for the heart and the interior life, is to regard it with "reverence", which depends on realizing its greatness and majesty. This, however, is, actually, out of the scope of explanation and beyond the human capacity, because understanding the greatness of a thing depends on understanding its truth, while the truth of the Divine Holy Qur'an, before being sent down to the stages [manazil] of creation and before undergoing practical modes [atwar], is of the affairs [shu'un] of His Essence and of the facts of Knowledge in His Unity [hadrat-i wahidiyat]. It is the truth of a "Self-speech" [kalam-i nafs], which is the "Essential Argument" [muqari`a-i dhatiyah] in His Names. This truth appears to no one, neither by means of formal sciences or cordial knowledge nor by unseen disclosure, except through complete divine revelation to the blessed person of the Final Prophet (SA), in the intimacy of qaba qausayn [at the distance of two bows' length], or even in the secret privacy of au adna [or nearer]. The hand of hope of the human species is short of that, except, that of the sincere of Allah's friends who, according to the spiritual lights and the divine facts, share in the spirituality of the Prophet's sacred essence and, through their complete subordination, they vanished in him. They receive the disclosing knowledge by inheriting it from him, and the truth of the Qur'an may be reflected in their hearts, with the same luminosity and perfection with which it appeared in the heart of that great personality, without its descending to [mundane] stations and taking [mundane] forms. That Qur'an is without change and alteration, and it is of the book of divine revelation. The one capable of carrying this Qur'an is the noble person of the absolute friend of Allah, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). Others cannot take this fact in, unless it descends from the station of ghayb [the invisible] to the station of visibility and takes the seen form, wearing the apparel of mundane words and letters. This is one of the meanings of "changing" [tahrif] or alteration which has occurred in all Divine Scriptures as well as the Qur'an, changing all the noble ayahs, which, with a change, or rather many changes, according to the stations and stages which continue from His "Names" to the last of the worlds of vision and visibility, are placed within the reach of man. The number of the stages of the change corresponds to the number of the stages of the butun of the Qur'an exactly. The meaning of the change [tahrif] here is the descent from absolute ghayb to absolute visibility, in accordance with the degrees of the worlds, whereas the butun is the return from absolute visibility to absolute ghayb. So, the beginning of the change, and the beginning of the butun are opposed. Whenever a salik attains to a stage of the butun, he gets rid of a degree of the change. When he arrives at the absolute butun, which is the seventh, according to the general classification, he absolutely gets rid of the change [tahrif]. So, it maybe that the Qur'an appears to some to be full of different changes. To another, it may appear with few changes, while to a third it appears with no change at all. It may also appear to somebody changed in some instances and unchanged in some others, or with some sorts of changes in a third instance.

As you know, understanding the greatness of the Qur'an is beyond the capacity of the intellect. Yet, a general hint at the greatness of this Divine Book, which is within the reach of everybody, is of many advantages.

Do know, dear, that the greatness of a speech or a book is derived from the greatness of the speaker and the writer, from the greatness of its contents and objectives, from the greatness of its results and fruits, from the greatness of its intermediate conveyer, from the greatness of its receiver and its carrier, from the greatness of its keeper and protector, from the greatness of its commentator and explainer or from the greatness of the time of its being sent down and how it was sent. Some of these, however, are by nature the causes of greatness, others are indirectly so, and some are proofs of the greatness. All the said matters are contained in this luminous Book in their very best and satisfaction, or, actually they are its distinguished characteristics. No other book shares them with it, or covers all of them comprehensively.

As regards the greatness of the speaker, the composer and its owner, He is the Absolute Great, for all kinds of greatness that can be imagined on the earth and in the heavens, and all powers descending in the visible and the invisible, are but a seepage of the manifestations of the greatness of the act of His Sacred Essence. Allah, the Exalted, would not show Himself to anybody through manifesting His Greatness from behind thousands of veils and curtains, as a hadith says: "Allah has seventy-thousand veils [of light and darkness, if removed away, the lights of His Face would burn everything other than Him.] " [277] To the people of knowledge, this noble Book has issued from Allah, the Exalted, the Origin of all affairs of the Essence, Attributes and Acts, and of all manifestations of Beauty and Majesty. The other divine Books do not enjoy a similar status and position.

As regards the greatness of the contents, objectives and subjects, it requires a separate chapter, or, say separate chapters, sections, a thesis or a book, so that one may relate only a part of that. We shall, nevertheless, generally refer, in a separate chapter, to its universal principles. In the said chapter we shall point out, insha'allah, its greatness in respect of its results and outcome.

As regards the greatness of the messenger and the conveyer of its revelation, he is the Faithful Gabriel, the Great Spirit. After that the noble Messenger of Allah (SA) had quitted the apparel of the nature of the flesh and directed the heart towards His Majesty, he got in touch with that Great Spirit. He is one of the four pillars of the House of Realization, or rather he is the greatest of its pillars and the most honourable of them, since that noble and luminous Archangel is the guardian of knowledge and wisdom, and the conveyer of the spiritual provisions and moral nourishments. From the Book of Allah and the noble hadiths one realizes the greatness of Gabriel and his preference to other angels. [278]

As regards the greatness of its receiver and carrier, it is the pure and pious, Ahmadan single [ahmadi-i ahadi], Muhammadan collective [jam`i-i muhammadi] heart, to which Allah, the Exalted, appeared in all affairs [shu'un] of the Essence, Attributes, Names and Acts. He [the Prophet] is the Seal of prophethood and the absolute guardian, the most generous of all creation, the best of the human beings, the gist [khulasah] of the universe, the essence [jauharah] of existence, the substance [`usarah] of the House of Realization, the last brick and the owner of the big isthmus and great vicegerency [khilafat].

As regards the greatness of its keeper and guardian, He is the Sacred Essence of Allah, the Exalted as He says in the noble ayah: "It is We Who have sent down the Reminder [ the Qur'an] , and verily We are its keeper." [279]

As regards its commentators and explainers, they are the pure infallible ones-beginning with the Messenger of Allah and ending with "the Proof of the Time" [hujjat-i `asr], may Allah enhance his rise-who are the keys of existence, the deposits of dignity, the sources of wisdom and inspiration, the origins of knowledge and learning, and the possessors of the state of collectivity [jam'] and distinctness [tafsil].

As regards the time of revelation, it is laylatul Qadr [The night of the qadr], which is the greatest of nights and "better than a thousand months". It is the most luminous of times. In fact, it is the time of the attainment [wusul] of the General Guardian [waly-i mutlaq] and the Seal of the Prophets (SA).

As regards how it was revealed and its relevant ceremonies, they are beyond the limits of the capacity of these few papers. They require a special chapter, which, owing to its elaboration, will have to be omitted.


[277]. Biharul Anwar, vol. 55, p. 45. This hadith is (also) related by the Sunni sources.

[278]. Look up Surahs ash-Shu'ara: 193, an-Najm: 5-9 and at-Takwir: 19-24. Also Biharul Anwar, vol. 56, p. 258, "Book of the Heaven and the World", chs. on "The Angels" and "Another Chapter on Describing the Favourable Angels", hadith 23 and 24.

[279]. Surah al-Hijr: 9.


Brief Hints at the Objectives, Subjects and Contents of the Glorious Divine Book

Know that the Glorious [Divine] Book, as it declares itself, is a book of guidance, showing the way to human conduct, to educate the souls, to cure the spiritual sicknesses and to throw light on the road to Allah.

Generally speaking, Allah, due to His All-Embracing mercy upon His servants, sent this Glorious Book from His Sacred state of proximity, down, in proportion to the descending worlds until it reached this world of darkness and prison of nature and was put in the dress of words and letters in order to release those imprisoned in this world's dark dungeon and to unite those chained by the fetters of hopes and desires, lifting them from the lowest level of shortcomings, weakness and animality to the peak of perfection, strength and humanity, taking them away from Satan's neighbourhood to the company of heavenly people, and to lead them to the state of "proximity" so as to let them attain to the stage of meeting Allah, which is the highest objective and the want of the people of Allah. So, this is the Book of inviting to Allah and happiness, and explaining how to attain to that stage. Its contents, generally, concern this same journey to Allah, or help the salik and traveller to Allah. In short, one of its important objectives is to invite [mankind] to know Allah, and [another is] to explain divine knowledge concerning the affairs of the Essence, Names, Attributes and Acts. At the top of this is the Unity of Essence, Names and Acts, some of which are explicitly mentioned and some others are only hinted at.

It should be noted that this comprehensive Divine Book deals with the above-mentioned information, from knowing the Essence to knowing the Acts, in such a way that each class of the people comprehends of it according to its capacity. The noble ayahs on tauhid, and on the Unity of Acts in particular, are explained by the literalist scholars, the traditionalists and the faqihs [may Allah be pleased with them] in such a way that their explanations are entirely contrary to the explanations of the people of knowledge and the scholars of the latent meaning of the Qur'an. The writer believes that each of these explanations is correct in its own place, since the Qur'an cures the internal pains, and treats each patient in a certain way: See different noble ayahs, such as: " He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward" [280], "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth" [281], "And He it is Who in the heaven is God and in the earth is God" [282], "And He is with you" [283], "Wherever you turn there is Allah's face" [284], and many others on the Unity of Essence, and the last ayahs of the surah of al-Hashr and other ones on the Unity of Attributes, and the ayahs "And you threw not when you did throw, but Allah threw," [285] "All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds", [286] and "All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth glorify Allah," [287] concerning the Unity of Acts. Some of them strictly, and some others more strictly, have gnostic indications. For each class of the external and the internal scholars each of them is the remedy, in a way, for an illness. As, although it is said in the noble al-Kafi [288] that the first ayahs of surah al-Hadid and the blessed surah of Ikhlas [Tauhid] were intended for the deep thinkers of "the End of the Time", yet the people of literalism are also benefited by them all right - a fact which proves the miraculousness and the comprehensiveness of this noble Book.

Of its other objectives and topics is its call for purifying the souls and purging the insides from the impurities of nature, and attaining to happiness. Generally, it shows how to travel to Allah. This noble subject is divided into two important branches: One is taqwa in all its stages, including bewaring of other than Allah, and complete negligence of all other than Him. The other is faith in all its stages and affairs, including devotion to, Allah, and return and repentance to His Sacred Essence. These are of the important objectives of this noble Book, as most of its subjects, directly or indirectly, connote them.

Another subject of this Divine Book is to relate the stories of the prophets, Allah's friends and the wisemen, and how He educated them, and how they educated the people. These stories are of great advantages and cover many instructions. They include so many pieces of divine information, teachings and divine educational instructions, either openly or allegorically that perplex the mind. Glorious is Allah and praise and gratitude are for Him. Just take the story of the creation of Adam (AS), the angels' being ordered to bow down to him, the teaching of the names and the cases of Iblis and Adam (AS) which are repeatedly narrated in the Book of Allah. They offer so many teachings, educational instructions, knowledge and information for "him who has a heart or gives ear and he is a witness" [289] that bewilder man. The stories of the Qur'an, such as the stories of Adam, Moses, Ibrahim and other prophets (AS) are repeatedly stated in order to show that this Book is neither a book of stories nor of history, but a book of journeying to Allah, a book of tauhid, knowledge, admonitions and aphorisms. In such matters repetition is required so as to fix them in the hard-hearted souls and to have effects as an admonition to them. In other words, whoever wants to educate, teach, warn and bring good tidings, has to express his intentions in different styles and diverse ways, such as narrations and tales, or historical stories, and sometimes in quite an explicit way, and sometimes by way of allusion and indirect hints, symbols and examples, so that different souls and scattered hearts can each be benefited by them.

As this noble Book is intended for the happiness of all classes and the human race, and as the human species differ in the condition of their hearts, in their customs, behaviors, time and place, they cannot be attracted in the same way. Many of them may not be prepared to accept the instructions and the original matter in a direct, clear and explicit language, or to be affected by it. They are to be approached in accordance with the construction of their brains in order to make them comprehend what is intended. Some others are not interested in stories, tales and histories, as they are in quest of the cores of the matters and the real aims. They cannot be taken on the same basis with the former ones. Many hearts are fit for being frightened and warned, other hearts are attracted by promises and hopes. Consequently, this noble Book uses different methods, styles and ways for its invitation of the people. Thus, such a Book has inevitably to resort to repetition. Attracting and admonishing, without repetition, would be far from eloquence. The expected effect in the souls cannot be obtained without repetition.

Nevertheless, in this noble Book, the topics are so sweetly related that their repetition never bores the hearers. Furthermore, each repetition of a subject brings fresh details and features that have not formerly been mentioned, or rather in each repetition there is an additional important gnostic or ethical point around which the case revolves. In order to expand upon this, one has to carefully study the stories of the Qur'an, which cannot be contained within the summaries of these papers. This weak person [the writer] has a fixed hope to write, with Allah's help, a book about the stories of the Qur'an, deciphering their puzzles and explaining their teachings and educational qualities, as much as possible, though carrying out this task by somebody like the writer is but a raw desire, or a false fancy.

At any rate, relating the stories of the prophets (AS), describing their conducts and behaviours, how they educated the people, and remembering their advices, admonitions and good arguments are of the largest chapters of knowledge and philosophies, and of the loftiest passages to happiness and instructions which Allah, the Exalted and Most Glorified, opened to His servants. Although the people of knowledge, suluk and austerity have their share plentifully, other people also have their boundless portion, as is stated in the noble ayah: "When the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star. He said: `This is my Lord: But when it set, he said: `I do not love the setting [ones]"' [290] The people of knowledge well understand the spiritual suluk and the conduct of lbrahim (AS). They also learn how to travel to Allah, and perceive the truth of the self's spiritual journey from the farthest [deepest] darkness of nature, expressed in "the night over-shadowed him", till absolutely casting down the egoism and egotism, leaving I-ness and self-worship, attaining to the state of sanctity and joining the meeting of intimacy, which is expressed in: "I have turned my face toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth ... ." [291] Others learn from it the outer journey and how Khalilur-Rahman [the intimate friend of the Beneficent] educated his people. Likewise, there are other stories and tales, such as the stories of Adam, lbrahim, Moses, Yusuf [Joseph], `Isa [Jesus] and the meeting between al-Khidr [Elias] and Moses, by which the people of knowledge, austerity and hardship, and others are benefited differently. In this part included, or in a separate objective, are the aphorisms and the admonitions of His Sacred Essence, Who, on every suitable occasion, has invited the people, with His tongue of Power, to divine knowledge, tauhid and glorification, such as the blessed surah of Ikhlas, the last ayahs of the surah of al-Hashr and the early ayahs of the surah of al-Hadid and other instances in the noble divine Book. The people of heart and of good past enjoy a good share of it. For example, when the people of knowledge recite: "And whoever leaves his house migrating to Allah and His Messenger, then death overtakes him, his reward is, indeed , with Allah ...", [292] they understand from it the proximity of the nafilah [supererogatory act] and faridah [obligatory act] , while, at the same time, other understand from it a bodily migration, say, to Mecca or to al-Madinah, or they understand it to be an invitation to purifying the soul and internal austerity, as in the noble ayah: " He will, indeed, be successful who purifies it, and he will, indeed, be unsuccessful who seduces it," [293] and the like; or it is a call to good deed, as it is obvious; or it is a warning against anyone of these things. This part also includes the aphorisms of Luqman and of other notables and believers which are sporadically mentioned in this divine Book, such as the case of "the people of the Cave".

Another subject of this luminous Book concerns the states of the disbelievers, the deniers and the opposers of the truth and reality, and those who act obstinately towards the prophets and the Imams (AS). It explains their fates and how they were annihilated, such as the episodes of Pharaoh, Korah, Nimrod, Shaddad, the People of the Elephant, and other disbelievers and sinners, in all of which there are admonitions, aphorisms and even knowledge for those who deserve them. This part includes the cases of the accursed Iblis, as well as the expeditions of the Messenger of Allah (SA), [or in a separate part] from which noble subjects are also learnt, such as how the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (SA) used to fight in order to waken. the Muslims from the sleep of negligence, and to incite them to fight for the sake of Allah to uplift the word of truth and to abolish the batil [falsehood].

Another subject dealt with in the Glorious Qur'an is explaining the pure laws of the literal meaning of the Shari ah and the disciplines and divine rules, which are stated in this luminous Book, in a general way, the most important of which is introducing the principal subjects and disciplines, such as the chapters of the salat, zakat, khums, hajj, saum, jihad, marriage , inheritance, penalties, punishments, trading and the like. This section, which is the science of the appearance of the Shari'ah, is a public concern and is for all the classes, and it is intended to build up this world and the Hereafter. All the classes of people can benefit from it according to their individual capacities. This is frequently invited to in the Book of Allah, as well as in the hadiths and narratives, which freely expand upon the characteristics and details. The works and writings of the religious scholars on this section are more and higher than on other sections.

Another topic dealt with in the Glorious Qur'an is the conditions of the ma`ad [Resurrection], arguments proving it, its torments, punishments and rewards, and the details of Paradise, Hell, punishing and of putting in a state of comfort and ease. This section handles matters such as the conditions of the people of happiness and their ranks, like the people of knowledge, the favourites, the people of austerity, the travelers to Allah, the devotees, and the ascetics; as well as the conditions and degrees of the people of wretchedness, such as the infidels, the veiled, the hypocrites, the deniers, the disobedient and the sinners. But that which has more advantages to the conditions of the common people is more expanded upon and is in a more explicit language, whereas that which is more advantageous to a particular class of people is referred to by way of allegories and allusions, such as: "And an approval from Allah is far greater" [294], and other ayahs about meeting Allah, and such as: "Nay, surely they shall on that day be veiled from their Lord" , [295] in respect to another group. In this section, i.e. the section concerning details about the Resurrection and the Return to Allah, countless information and difficult secrets are stated, such that, without a demonstrative conduct [suluk] or a gnostic light, their nature cannot be comprehended.

Another subject of this divine Book is the proofs and evidences which Allah, the Exalted, Himself presents to prove the truthful matters and divine knowledge, like the argument proving [the existence of] Allah and His Oneness, His transcendence, His Knowledge, His Power and His other attributes of perfection. In this section one can sometimes find very refined proofs from which the people of knowledge derive complete benefit, such as: "Allah bears witness that there is no god but He." [296] One also finds proofs which are used by the scholars and philosophers in one way, and by the people of formalism and the common people in another way, such as the ayah: " Had there been in them any gods other than Allah, they both would have been corrupted," [297] and the ayah: "... otherwise each god would have certainly taken away what he had created" [298] and like the first ayahs of the surah of al-Hadid and the blessed surah of at-Tauhid and other ayahs. Also there are arguments proving the Resurrection and the return of the spirits and originating another creation, and the arguments proving the existence of Allah's angels and the great prophets, stated in many occasions in this Glorious Book. These were the arguments of the Sacred Essence Himself, and there are the arguments and the proofs of the prophets and wise men quoted by Allah to prove the divine knowledge, such as the arguments of Ibrahim, the intimate friend of Allah (AS), and other arguments.

These were the important subjects of this Book, though there are many other different subjects, which require considerable time to count.


[280]. Surah al-Hadid: 3.

[281]. Surah: an-Nur: 35.

[282]. Surah az-Zukhruf: 84.

[283]. Surah al-Hadid: 4.

[284]. Surah al-Baqarah: 115.

[285]. Surah al-Anfal: 17.

[286]. Surah al-Fatihah: 2.

[287]. Surah al-Jumu'ah: 1, and Surah at-Taghabun: 1.

[288]. Usulul Kafi, vol. 1, p. 123, "Book of at-Tauhid" ch. on "Lineage", hadith No. 3.

[289]. Surah Qaf: 37.

[290]. Surah al-An'am: 76.

[291]. Ibid.: 79.

[292]. Surah an-Nisa': 100.

[293]. Surah ash-Shams: 9 and 10.

[294]. Surah at-Taubah: 72.

[295]. Surah al-Mutaffifin: 15.

[296]. Surah Al-i `Imran: 18.

[297]. Surah al-Anbiya': 22.

[298]. Surah al-Mu'minun: 91.

source : Adabus Salat The Disciplines of the Prayer by Imam Khomeini
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