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Monday 24th of January 2022
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The Kinds of Hasad

 

 

... Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni), from 'Ali ibn Ibrahim, from Muhammad ibn `isa, from Yunus, from Dawad al-Raqqi, who reports from Abu `Abd Allah (al-'Imam al-Sadiq) (A) that the Apostle of God (S) said that God Almighty addressed Musa ibn `Imran (A) thus: "O son of `Imran, never be envious of people concerning the favours I have conferred on them by My grace, do not glower at them, and do not succumb to your (envious) self. Indeed the envious man is indignant at the bestowal of My favour, and contests My apportioning of gifts among My creatures. Whoso is such, he neither belongs to Me nor do I belong to him. [1]

Definition of Hasad:

Hasad or envy is a psychic state in which a person wishes for the deprivation of a blessing, talent or merit, real or imagined, possessed by another person. It does not make any difference to the envious man whether lie possesses it or not, whether he can it or not.

The term `imagined' is used here for the reason that it is not necessary that there should be any real merits or advantage in the true sense of the word. For it has been established by observation that even things which are vices and defects, on account of their being considered by the envious as excellences and merits, he desires their destruction. Sometimes it is also true that certain attributes which are a defect in a human being but are bestial accomplishments are envied by the envious man on account of the significance that he attaches to such qualities. He sees them as merits on account of his animal state, and desires that the other man should be deprived of them. For instance, there are certain persons who consider ruthlessness and brutality as virtues, and when they see a person possessing these qualities they envy him. There are some who consider the capacity for idle(standstill) talk and vulgar jokes as virtues, and they feel jealous of those skilled at them. Therefore, the criterion for identifying this psychic disease is the imagined existence of merits and the suspected presence of accomplishments in the mind of the afflicted person, not the real presence of merit and accomplishment itself. In short, whenever a person notices any merit (real or imaginary) in others and wishes for their loss and destruction, such a person is described as hasid or envious.

The Kinds of Hasad:

There are various kinds and degrees of hasad according to the state and condition of the mahsud(the one envied), the hasud (the one who envies), and the nature of hasad itself.

According to the condition of the mahsud: Qualities like certain intellectual, spiritual, and moral merits, or. good and pious deeds, or outward factors like wealth, honour, and prestige can cause envy. Also their antithetical qualities, when they are imagined to be merits, can also cause envy and jealousy.

According to the condition of the envious person: The feeling of envy in the heart of the person who harbours it is sometimes caused by enmity, sometimes by pride, and at other times by fear and the like-causes which will be discussed later on.

According to the condition of envy itself: As for envy itself, the classification performed on its basis is an essential one, not those performed on the previous bases. There are several stages and grades of intensity and weakness according to their various causes and effects. God willing, we will deal with their harmful effects and the methods(technique) of curing them in several sections according to our capabilities, and hope to receive His assistance in this regard.

The Causes and Motives of Hasad:

There are numerous causes of hasad, and the main among them, as opposed to kibr, are products of a feeling of one's inferiority. In the same way as a person contemplating his own merits considers others to lack them, with a sense of elation, exultation, and rebelliousness overcoming him; in the same manner when someone perceives others to be more perfect, a feeling of inferiority and dejection seizes him, which, with the help of external factors and inner propensities, generate the feeling of envy in his heart. Sometimes it may happen that he feels dejected on account of someone sharing his merit, such as when a person endowed with a merit feels jealous of those on an equal or lower footing than himself. Therefore, it may be said that envy is a state of abjectness and dejection which finds an expression in the desire for the destruction or deprival of others' merits and advantages. Accordingly, some scholars, like al-`Allamah al-Majlisi, have confined the causes of envy to the following seven:

1. Enmity.

2. The sense of one's supremacy: It may happen that the envious man anticipates the pride of the envied on account of a merit and advantage that he enjoys. Not having the patience to put up with the pride, he earnestly desires the loss of those merits and advantages.

3. Kibr (pride): The envious person desires to treat high-handedly the person who is conferred some merit or favour, which is not possible unless those favours and merits are lost.

4. Wonder: The envious person is puzzled to see the great blessing enjoyed by the object of his envy. God Almighty reports the nations of the past as saying to the prophets: Ye are but mortals like us" (14:10), and: "And they said: `Shall we put faith in two mortals like ourselves' ...." (23:47).

They wondered as to how a mortal like them could reach the high station of prophethood and be inspired by God; so they felt envious on account of it.

5. Fear: The envious man is apprehensive of some hindrance on the part of the person enjoying an advantage or merit that may, he fears, frustrate his cherished aims and objectives.

6. Love of authority: This becomes a cause of envy when one's acquiring or preserving authority over others requires that nobody should share his advantages or merits.

7. Viciousness of nature: The man of vicious nature does not like to see others enjoying any kind of good whatsoever.

In the view of this writer, most, or rather all, of these causes are derived from the feeling of inferiority and dejection.

Some Evil Effects of Envy:

Envy itself is one of the deadliest diseases of the heart. The mortal diseases of the heart, like pride and other vices, though each is a mortal sin in itself, produces additional vices each of which is fatal independently. We shall discuss here a few of them which are apparent and known to this author. There may be others which are hidden and unknown. In two sahih traditions al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) and al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) inform us about the evil effects of hasad:

 

Mu'awiyah ibn wahab reports that al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) said: "Hasad, 'ujb, and vainglory are a bane of faith.' [2]

Muhammad ibn Muslim reports that al-Imam al-Baqir (A) said: "A man may be forgiven for something done in a fit of anger; but envy devours faith as fire consumes(burning up) wood." [3]

It is a known fact that faith is a Divine light that illumines the human heart with the radiance of His glory, as has been related by the hadith qudsi quoted before:

Neither [the vastness of] My earth, nor [that of] My heaven can contain Me. Indeed it is the heart of the man of faith which can contain Me.

The spiritual light and the divine spark(flicker) which makes the human heart greater than anything else in the world does not go along with the darkness and narrowness caused in it by this grievous vice. This hideous quality makes the human heart so narrow and dejected that its effects become apparent throughout the realm of one's inner and outer being. The heart becomes grieved and depressed, the chest narrow and suffocated, and the face grim and frowning. This state extinguishes the light of faith and deadens the human heart. The more it gains in strength, the more it diminishes the brightness of faith. All the inward and outward attributes of faith are negated by the effects of envy which are manifested within and without one's personality. The man of faith is optimistic and has a hopeful attitude towards God, and is satisfied with the way He has divided and apportioned His bounties among His creatures. The envious person is displeased(unsatisfied) with God and is resentful of the fate(destiny) apportioned by Him. As mentioned in tradition, a believer is not malicious towards other believers; he loves them, whereas the envious man acts in an opposite manner.

A true believer is not possessed by the love of mundane things, whereas the envious man is afflicted with this vice due to his love of the world. A believer has no fear(nervousness) or grief whatsoever in his heart, except for that which is associated with the Ultimate Source and End of all being. But the fears and griefs of the envious man revolve around the person of whom he is jealous. The believer has a beaming countenance, which depicts his cheerful nature. The envious man has a frowning face and a grim countenance. The believer is humble, and is (most of the time) not proud or envious.

Envy destroys faith in the same way as fire burns up wood. Therefore, there does not exist any doubt about the danger of this vice which wrests from man his faith, the source of his salvation in the Hereafter and the life and vigour of his heart, and reduces him into a helpless wretch.

A great evil that is an inseparable ingredient of envy is indignation with the Creator and the Beneficent Nourisher and annoyance with His ordainments. Deprived of vision by the dark veils of carnal nature, our immersion in the world of senses has blinded the eyes and deafened the ears. We do not understand that we are angry with the King of kings, nor know as to what form our anger(irritation)   and resentment will as the result of this vice in the next world, our permanent abode. We hear the words of al-Imam al-Sadiq (A): "Whoso is such, he neither belongs to Me nor do I belong to him," yet we do not understand the magnitude of the misfortune of God Almighty's disowning us, and what His disgust with us will bring for us. One who is driven out from the sphere of His wilayah (guardianship) and is not accepted under the standard of the Mercy of the Most Merciful, there is no hope of his salvation. He will, not be able to receive any intercession of the intercessors either: "... Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave?" (2:255) Who will act as an intercessor for one who is wrathful and resentful towards God, outside the pale of His wilayah,and whose bonds of love between him and his Lord have been severed? Woe to us for the calamity we have invited for ourselves! Despite all the warnings and alarms sounded by the apostles of God to awaken us from the slumber, our neglect and our wretchedness only grew day by day.

The Punishment of the Grave:

According to the `ulama', the punishment of the grave and the darkness therein is one of the evil consequences of this vice. They maintain that the bearer of this vice, with its associated spiritual tension and gloom, is oppressed by pressure and darkness in the grave and in Barzakh. One's condition in the grave depends upon the spaciousness of the hearts and the narrowness thereof.

Al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) is narrated to have said that the Prophet (S) went to attend the funeral of Sa'd. While seventy thousand angels accompanied the ceremonies, the Prophet (S) of God raised his head towards the heavens and said: "Does anyone face the squeeze (of the grave) as Sa'd faced?" The narrator of the tradition said to the Imam: "May I die for your sake, we have been told that Sa'd was not very particular of taharah while passing urine." The Imam said: "God forbid, his only fault(offense) was that he was harsh in his treatment of the people of his household...:'

The state of darkness, narrowness, tension and constriction that appears in one's heart due to this vice is not likely to occur in other moral vices. In any case, the person possessing this vicious trait suffers torments in this life, then the oppressive darkness and constriction in the grave, and will ultimately(in the long run) be helpless and wretched in the Hereafter. All these are the evil effects of envy alone, on condition that it does not breed any other vice or induce any other evil deed. But it rarely happens that it does not generate some other affliction. Rather, it often begets many other moral vices and misdeeds, such as pride, as mentioned earlier, and other sins like backbiting, slandering, abusing, and torturing, etc., each one of which is a deadly and mortal sin.

Therefore, it is necessary for a wise(shrewd) person to make up his mind immediately and strive to get rid of this shame and indignity, saving his faith from the blaze of this fire and its disaster lie should rid himself of this mental torture and narrow-mindedness, which is it perpetual lifelong punishment in this world, followed by distress and darkness in the grave and the Purgatory, and incurs Divine wrath. One should consider that a malady which has so many harms needs to be treated urgently. His envy does not harm the person of whom he is envious. It does not make him lose any of the favours and merits either. It may even give him some satisfaction, in this world as well as in the other, to see the distress of one who is jealous of him and is his enemy. While he continues to enjoy all those advantages which cause you distress and anguish, it is yet another gift for him. And if you are again jealous of him for the second one, it will multiply your torment and anguish, which will again be a blessing for him, and so on. Hence you shall ever remain in grief, pain, and anguish and he in a state of bliss, joy, and exuberance. In the Hereafter, also, your envy will benefit him, especially if it culminates in backbiting, slandering, and other such acts of malice; as your good deeds will be assigned to him. You will be reduced(shrank) to utter destitution and he will enjoy bounties and eminence. If you deliberate upon the matter for a while, you shall of course purge yourself from this vice and save your soul from its destructive effects. Don't think that psychic, moral, and spiritual vices are not curable; this is an erroneous notion that has been inspired in you by Satan and your carnal self, who want to keep you from treading the path of the Hereafter and to frustrate your efforts at rectifying your self. As long as man exists in this realm of transition and change, it is possible for him to transform all his attributes and moral characteristics. However strong his habits may be, as long as he is living in this world he can quit them. The only thing is that the effort required to throw them off varies with the degree of their strength and intensity. A bad habit in the early phase of its formation, of course, requires only a little self-discipline and effort to eradicate it. It is like uprooting a young plant that has not run its roots deeply into the ground. But when a quality becomes firmly rooted in one's nature, becoming a part of one's spiritual makeup, it is not easily uprooted, but requires much effort, like the tree that becomes old in age, having sent down its roots deep into the earth; it cannot be easily extirpated. The more you delay the decision to eradicate the iniquities of the heart, the more time and effort it will require.

My dear, in the first place do not allow any moral vice, bad habit or evil deed to enter the realm of your inner and outer being. This task is much easier than that of expelling them after they enter, establish(build) themselves, and start flourishing. And if they enter, the more you delay the action required to expel them, the more time and effort will it require, and they will corrupt your inner faculties in the mean time. Our great shaykh, the accomplished `arif Shahabadi-my soul be sacrificed for him---used to say that it is better to take an action against moral vices when one's youth and its powers and vivacity are still there. At that stage one can fulfil one's responsibilities as a human being in a better way. One should not allow oneself to delay until one's powers have departed; as it becomes more difficult(demanding) to achieve success in this regard when old age sets in. Even if, presumably, one succeeds, the effort required for the reform is, in comparison, much greater.

Therefore, if a shrewd(wise) person considers the evil effects of anything and realizes that he is not afflicted by it, he does not involve himself in it and does not allow it to contaminate him; and if, God forbid, he is afflicted he tries to get rid of it and correct(accurate) himself as soon as possible, not allowing it to strengthen its roots. If, God forbid, it has taken roots, he makes every effort to root it out so as to avoid its evil consequences in the Purgatory and the Hereafter. If he is transferred in the state of affliction from this world of material change, he will no longer be able to do anything about it. Woe to the man who is such, for it will take ages of the Barzakh and the Hereafter to transform a single moral characteristic.

In a tradition, the Holy Prophet (S) has been reported to have said that every inhabitant of Paradise or Hell is consigned to it eternally on account of his or her intentions and aims. Bad intentions, which result from evil morals, cannot be shed unless their source and origin is destroyed. In that world human qualities will manifest themselves with such an intensity and power that either it is not possible for them to perish at all-in which case one is lodged(stiffed) eternally in the Hell---or it is possible to purge them only through torment, distress, and flames---in which case it will take a time of several centuries of the Hereafter. Therefore, O wise man, do not allow a vice which can be removed by little effort of a month or a year or two, and whose removal is fully within your capacity and means, to linger on and cause the distresses of this world and the Hereafter and ultimately destroy you.

  The Source of Moral Corruption:

It was mentioned earlier that faith, which is the joy and fortune of the soul, is different from knowledge, which is the pleasure and satisfaction of the intellect. All moral and behavioural corruptions ensue from the absence of faith in one's heart i.e. whatever the intellect and reason have comprehended through rational proofs or the reports of the prophets fails to enter the heart, and the heart is unaware of their truth. One of the doctrines which every `arif, hakim, mutakallim, as well as the laity and the legists, affirm and regard as indubitable is that whatever has come into existence as the result of the stroke(scrub) of the Pen of the absolutely Wise Creator, from the viewpoint of being and perfection to the apportioning of the means of sustenance among creatures and the ordination of their terms of life---everything demonstrates the utmost beauty of design and the utmost perfection of a system which is in complete accordance with the sumum bonum of the creatures and the most complete and perfect system imaginable.

However, each one of them describes this graciousness of God and His absolute wisdom in his own specific language and in accordance with the terminology of his discipline. The `arif says: "It is the shadow of the Absolute Beauty." The hakim says: "The system of the real world is in accordance with a scientific scheme free from any defect and evil; that which is presumed to be evil in particular instances is nothing but a means for the creatures to their deserved degree of perfection." The mutakallim and the legist believe that God's Acts are based upon wisdom and the general good, and man's limited intellect is incapable of comprehending the higher good intrinsic in Divine ordainments. All subscribe to this idea and everyone sets forth an argument to prove it according to his own knowledge and intelligence. But since they do not go beyond words and have not entered the heart, voices of protest and objection can still be heard, and yet the same man, not enjoying the bounty of faith, counters his own words and confutes his own arguments. Moral vices, too, are rooted in this weakness of faith. The one who feels jealous of others and desires for the loss of a good enjoyed by another and harbours spite against those who possess it in his heart, should know that he does not believe that it is in his own interest that God Almighty has not bestowed upon him that favour. Our limited understanding fails to comprehend the wisdom of His determinations. He should realize that he does not have faith in Divine Justice and the justness of His apportioning. Verbally he may declare his belief in the doctrine of Divine Justice. But his declaration is mere words; for the belief in the justness of God is contrary to envy. If you deem Him just, then consider His ordainment to be just too, for the hadith says expressly that the envious man is resentful at God's apportioning of gifts among His creatures and indignant at the favours conferred by Him. In accordance with the Divine instincts inherent in him, man by nature is a lover of justice. Modesty and reverence before justice and hatred and rebellion before injustice are rooted in his nature. However, if an opposite attitude is observed, it is because of a defect in his premises. If he is indignant at the advantages enjoyed by others and is contentious about the Divine apportioning of bounties, it is on account of the fact that lie does not consider it as just, but, God forbid, regards it as unjust and cruel. It is not because he considers the Divine apportioning as just and is yet resentful of it. It is not that he considers the Divine plan(schedule) to be a perfect system and absolutely good and yet is displeased with it. Alas, our faith is not complete and the intellectual proofs have not crossed the limits of reason and intellect to enter the realm of the heart. Faith is not [solely] a matter of utterance. It is not mere reading, discussing, or quoting others; it requires sincerity of intention. One who seeks God succeeds in finding Him. Those who are interested in Divine knowledge, seek it:

 

Whoso is blind here will be blind in the Hereafter, and yet further front the road. (17:72)

... And he for whom Allah hath not appointed light, for him there is no light. (24:40)

The Practical Remedy for Envy:

Besides the theoretical cure that has been mentioned above, there is a practical remedy also for this hideous vice. It consists of this: Try, forcibly, to be affectionate with the person of whom you are jealous. By making a display of your affection, your purpose should be to cure yourself of this internal malady. Your inner self will ask you to hurt him and malign him. It will demand that you treat him like an enemy and recount to you his vices and mistakes. But you act against the inclinations of your self and be friendly with him. Honour him and respect him and force yourself to speak in his praise. Try to see his virtues yourself and make them known to others too, concentrating upon his good(favorable) qualities. Though your behaviour will be affected(dramatic) and unnatural in the beginning, being artificial and feigned, but since your aim is self-rectification and curing of this vice, your behaviour will gradually become less artificial. Day by day this affectation will be lessened and your self will become accustomed to it and that which was affectation will become reality. You convince your self and make it understand that he is a creature of God; perhaps it is God's grace which has selected him for the advantage that he enjoys. If the object of your envy is a scholar endowed with knowledge and piety, and you are jealous of him due to these merits, your envy is all the more abominable and this enmity will bring you greater harm in the Hereafter. It is for you to make your self understand that they are chosen servants of God, who, through Divine grace, have been distinguished by that great merit and favour. Such a gift ought to make one feel affectionate and kindly towards its possessors, inclining one to respect them and to be humble towards them. Hence, if one perceives that anything that should stir up love and respect in his heart is causing something that is contrary to it, he should know that the baser emotions have overpowered him and their darkness has conquered his inner self. Now it is time for him to positively resolve to get rid of it by all theoretical and practical means. If he tries to stimulate the feelings of love and friendship in his heart, he will succeed soon, since the light of love conquers the darkness of hatred. God Almighty has promised that He will guide those who struggle(scramble) and help them through His invisible grace and increase their capacities: `Indeed He possesses the authority to grant ability and to guide.'

The Tradition Regarding Remission of Envy:

In some of the holy traditions it has been reported from the Prophet (S) that he enumerated nine things from which his Ummah have been granted remission; hasad, in case it is not expressed in one's words or deeds, is one of them. This tradition, and others similar to it, should not, of course, prevent one from seriously uprooting the vicious tree of envy from the self and freeing the soul from this faith- consuming fire. Because, it rarely happens that this vicious thing enters the soul without breeding diverse abominations there, without its signs becoming visible, and without harming one's faith. It is mentioned in sahih ahadith that envy devours faith and is baleful to it, and that God Almighty disowns the envious person and would have nothing to do with him. Therefore, a thing which is a major source of corruption and endangers all that matters to a human being should not be taken lightly due to misunderstanding the Prophetic hadith about remission of the sin of hasad.

Therefore, it is for you to take the matter seriously and snip off its branches and try to rectify yourself. Do not allow its venom to spill over in your outward behaviour, as it will weaken its roots and stop its growth. And if you die during this period of spiritual reform and contest, you will be blessed with Divine Mercy. With His infinite mercy and the boon provided by the spiritual station of the interceding Holy Prophet (S), you will be granted forgiveness. The spark of Divine beneficence will burn up any remaining traces of it, and the soul will be purged and purified.

As to the following tradition narrated by Hamzah ibn Humran:

Abu 'Abd Allah (al-Imam al-Sadiq) (A) said: "There are three things from which neither any prophet nor others below his rank are Immune: doubts about the creation, anticipation of misfortune for others, and envy, although a believer does never make use of them. [4]

either the statement is hyperbolic, the intention being that these form the most frequent basis of their tribulations, without their being actually subject to these vices; or hasad is used here to connote ghibtah (envy which is free of ill will); or what is meant is the inclination to wish for the loss of some of the advantages enjoyed by infidels who propagate false beliefs. Otherwise, the prophets of God and the saints are free from any taint of hasad in the real sense of the word. A heart which is defiled with moral evils and inner impurities cannot receive Divine inspiration and revelation. Such a heart does not become a mirror of the light of Divine Attributes and the radiance of the Essence. Therefore, this tradition ought to be interpreted in the manner indicated above or in some other fashion, or it should be referred back to its speaker, upon whom be God's peace and benedictions: `And Praise is God's, at the beginning and at the end.'

[1]. Usul al-Kafi (Pub. by Intishirat-e'ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Arabic text with Persian translation by Hajj Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), vol. III, p. 418.

[2]. Ibid., p. 418.

[3]. Ibid., p. 416.

[4]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, Bab `al- amr bi al-ma'ruf`.

 

 

... Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni) from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from Ibn Mahbub, from `Abd Allah ibn Sinan and `Abd al-Aziz al-Abdi from `Abd Allah ibn Abi Ya`fur, who report Abu Abd Allah (al-Imam al-Sadiq) (A) to have said: "One who passes his evenings and mornings in such a way that the world be his biggest concern, God ordains poverty between his two eyes and causes his affairs to become disjointed and dissipated, while he does not attain anything except what has been apportioned for him. And as for one who passes his evenings and mornings while his biggest concern and goal be the Hereafter, God puts contentment to his heart and gives a wholeness and unity to his affairs. [1]

Exposition of the Tradition:

There are various interpretations of the terms `the world' and `the Hereafter' according to different views offered by mystics and scholars. Here, our objective is not to plunge into any involved discussion about hair-splitting definitions, an absorption which keeps the wayfarer from proceeding towards his goal. What is essential here is to understand the meaning of `the disapproved world' (i.e. `the world' in the sense in which it is necessary for the person seeking the Hereafter to shun it) and the factors that assist man and guide him on the path of salvation. These we shall discuss, God willing, in a few sections, and implore His help and guidance in this regard.

Mawlana Majlisi on the Reality of the World:

The great researcher and peerless traditionist Mawlana Majlisi, upon whom be God's mercy, states: "Let it be known to you that that which can be deduced from all the verses of the Quran and the traditions in this regard, according to our understanding of them, is that `the accursed world' is the sum total of all those things that prevent man from obeying God and keep him from His love and from seeking the Hereafter. Therefore `the world' and `the Hereafter' are antithetical to each other: whatever causes His good pleasure and one's nearness to Him belongs to `the Hereafter,' even though plainly it should seem to be a matter of the world-such as the trade, the agriculture, the industry and the crafts whose purpose is to provide subsistence for one's family for the sake of obedience to God's command, for spending(expenditure)  one's income(wage) for charitable purposes and the welfare of the poor and needy, and to avoid dependence on others and beseeching their help. All these activities are meant for the Hereafter, though people should consider them to be for the sake of the world. On the other hand, heretical exercises in spiritual self-discipline, sanctimonious deeds and the like, though they might be performed with great devotion and care, are meant for the world, as they cause alienation from God and do not bring man near to Him. Such are the deeds and the practices of the infidels and those who oppose the right path". [2]

Another researcher remarks: "Your `world' and `Hereafter' are two inner states of your heart: that which is nearer and is concerned with the life before death is `the world', and whatever that follows it and is concerned with the life after death is `the Hereafter'. Therefore, everything that earns you pleasure and joy and provokes your lust before death, it is `the world' for you."

The Author's View:

This pauper says: `the world' may sometimes be regarded as meaning the lowest level of existence and the abode of change, transition, and annihilation. `The Hereafter' signifies return from this lower mode of existence to the higher, celestial plane, one's inner world, which is the abode of permanence, stability, and eternity. These two worlds exist for every individual. The first one is the terrestrial realm of development and emergence, which is the lower plane of observable worldly existence. The other is the hidden, inward, and celestial level of existence, which is the higher plane of being of the Hereafter. Although worldly existence is a lower and defective realm of being, but since it is a nursery for the training of lofty souls and a school for acquiring higher spiritual stations, it is a field(enclosure) for cultivating the Hereafter. In this sense it is the most sublime of the realms of being and the most profitable of worlds for the lovers of God and the wayfarers of the path of the Hereafter. And were it not for this terrestrial realm of matter, the domain of physical and spiritual substantial transformation and change, and if God Almighty had not made it a realm of transition and annihilation, not a single imperfect soul would have attained its promised state of perfection nor would it have been able to reach the realm of permanence and stability, nor the embodiments of imperfection would have been able to enter the Kingdom of God.

Accordingly, that which is mentioned in the Quran and tradition regarding the disapproval of `the world' does not actually apply to the world itself, but is meant to refer to absorption in it and love and attachment for it. This shows that man has two `worlds' one of them is condemned, while the other is extolled and praised.

The world which is approved is that which one acquires in this earthly abode, this school, and this marketplace, where higher stations and lasting spiritual merits are exchanged for transitory goods(cargo) and where arrangements are made for the abiding abode. These cannot be possibly acquired without entering this world, as has been stated by the Mawla of the Muwahhidun, Amir al-Mu'minin al-'Imam 'Ali (A), in one of his sermons delivered on hearing a person abuse `the world':

Indeed this world is the abode of truth for him who appreciates its truthfulness, a place of safety for him who understands it, a mine(quarry)  of treasures for him who collects provisions from it [for the next world], and a house of instructions for him who draws lessons from it. It is the shrine(monument) of worship for those who love Allah, the house of prayer for His angels, the place where the revelations of Allah descend, and the marketplace for those devoted to Him. Herein they earn His mercy and herein they Paradise by way of profit [3]

God Almighty's words, (What a good abode is the house of the pious) relate to the world, according to the interpretation of al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) reported in a tradition by al-Ayyashi. Therefore, this world, being as it is the manifestation of and witness to His Beauty and Majesty, is not at all condemnable in this sense. That which is condemnable is the world of man himself in the sense of his absorption in the world of carnal nature and his attachment and love for it. That world is the source of all vices and all inward and outward sins, as reported in al-Kafi from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A):

Al-'Imam al Sadiq (A) said: "The love of the world is the source of all transgressions. " [4]

And it has been reported from al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) that he said:

"The harm done by two ferocious wolves, one attacking(assaulting) from the front and the other from the rear, to a herd without a shepherd, is less rapid than the one done by the love of the world to the faith of the faithful." [5]

Therefore, the attachment of the heart and the love of the world is synonymous with the accursed world, and the greater the attachment, the thicker the veils between man and the realms of sublimity, and denser the curtain between the heart of the human being and its Creator. It occurs in some ahadith that there are seventy thousand veils of light and darkness between God and His creatures. The veils of darkness may be no other than the attachments of the heart to this world, and the deeper they are, the greater the number of the veils and greater the difficulty of their removal.

The Factors that Promote Worldliness:

Man is the child of this physical world, nature being his mother, and he the offspring of water and dust. The love for this world is implanted in his heart since the early time of his development and growth. As he grows this love also increases. On account of the faculties of desire and the organs of deriving pleasure that have been granted to him by God Almighty for the sake of the preservation of individual and species, this love grows day by day. Since he considers this world as a place of pleasure and luxury, and death as the end of these activities, even if he is led to believe in the Hereafter, its states, conditions, and rewards by the arguments of the hukama' or the traditions of the prophets (A), yet his heart remains unfamiliar with them and does not accept them, let alone obtaining certainty of their reality. Due to these reasons, his love for this world and his attachment to it increase considerably. Since man naturally loves immortality, detests and evades decline and annihilation, and mistakes death for annihilation, even if his reason were to confirm this world as the house of transition and annihilation and that world as eternal and everlasting, his heart does not accept the findings of his reason if they have not entered the heart itself. The main thing is that the belief should have entered the heart and the best state is that of complete certainty. It is for this reason that Ibrahim Khalil Allah (A) asked God to bestow upon him certainty, and that was granted to him. Therefore, as the hearts do not have faith in the Hereafter-like those of ours-though rationally we may posit its existence, they desire to remain in this world and are averse to the thought of dying and quitting this lower mode of existence. But if our hearts become aware of the fact that this world is the lowest of the worlds and the house of decline and change and the realm of imperfection and destruction, and that there are other realms beyond death each of which is eternal and stable, perfect and permanent, where life is bliss and beatitude, our hearts would naturally the love of that world and would abhor this world. And if one were to rise above this world and awake to the realities of that world, and observe the real inward form of this world and the attachment to it, this world will become unbearable for him. He will detest it, desire to leave this abode of darkness and to get rid of the shackles of time and transition, an attitude(mood) which is apparent in the words of the awliya'.

Imam 'Ali (A), the Mawla of the awliya', said:

By God, the son of Abu Talib is more intimate with death than an infant with its mother's bosom.[6]

That great soul had considered the reality of this world from the viewpoint of Wilayah, and had chosen the blessed vicinity of the Most High. And were it not for the sake of the higher goals, those pure and chaste souls would not have tarried in this murky and gloomy(drab) gathering even for a single moment. To inhabit this phenomenal world of plurality, to meditate upon the worldly affairs, even with the spiritual favours, is a matter of great pain and sorrow for those absorbed in the love of God, a sorrow which we cannot even imagine. Their lamentations, as reflected in their prayers and supplications, were on account of the pain of separation from the Beloved and His magnanimous vicinity, although there were no mundane or spiritual veils for them, and they had left behind them the subdued hell of nature and its attachments, their hearts being free of the defilements of physical nature. Nevertheless, the very presence in the confines of physical nature and the inevitable pleasures associated with it, even if they be very few, acts like a veil. It is on this account that the Holy Prophet (S) is quoted to have said:

Lest my heart should be covered by [the veils of] lust, I ask God's forgiveness seventy times a day.

Perhaps the fault of Adam (A), the father of mankind, was the result of this innate attraction towards physical nature, symbolized by the wheat, and his attention to the mundane aspect of life-something which is considered wrong by the awliya' and the lovers of God. If Adam (A) had remained faithful to the divine passion and had not set foot into the domain of the mundane, this entire toilsome tale, winding(wandering) through the world to the Hereafter, would not have assumed such proportions.

Let it be known to you that each and every pleasure that man derives from this world leaves its trace on his heart that is indicative of its susceptibility to the physical world and a cause of its further attachment to the world. The more the enjoyments and the pleasures, the greater their impression upon the heart and the more intense its attachment to the world and love for it. This process continues until the heart completely yields to the world and its allurements. Such a condition is the source of a great many evils. All the human transgressions, sins, and moral vices are on account of this love and attachment, as mentioned in the hadith quoted from al-Kafi. One of the greatest evils of this love, according to our Shaykh-my soul be sacrificed for him - is that if the love of the world captures the human heart and the attachments become strong, at the time of death man finds that God Almighty is separating him from his beloved and causing separation between him and the darling of his desire. As a result, he leaves the world in a state of indignation and rancour against Him. This greatly shocking(astounding) warning is enough to awaken man, that he should be extremely cautious in guarding his heart. God forbid, lest one should be indignant with the real King of kings, the Bestower of favours and the Nourisher, for none except God knows the ugly form of such a rancour and resentment.

Our honoured Shaykh also related of his father that he was extremely disturbed(interrupted) during the last years of his life regarding his love for one of his sons. But after doing exercises in spiritual self-discipline for some time he was relieved of this attachment. He was greatly satisfied on this account before he retired to the abode of eternal bliss. May God be pleased with him.

There is a tradition in al-Kafi, reported on the authority of Talhah ibn Zayd, from Abu `Abd Allah al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said:

The example of the world is that of sea water; the more a thirsty person drinks from it, the thirstier he becomes until it kills(massacres) him. [7]

The love of the world destroys man eternally, and it is the source of his affliction with inward and outward villainies. The Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said, "The Dirham and the Dinar have destroyed many a people before you and they will destroy you too" Even if a person is not, supposedly, afflicted by other vices, which is improbable(incredible)or rather impossible, the sole attachment to the world is sufficient to cause many an affliction. The criterion of the length of the period of detention in the world beyond the grave and the Barzakh is the amount of intensity of these associations and attachments. The lesser they are, the more spacious and brighter his place in the grave and the Barzakh, and consequently the lesser the period of one's detention therein. Hence the awliya', according to some traditions, do not have to experience the conditions of the grave for more than three days, and that too for the sake of the inherent and natural attachment that they had in the life of this world.

Among the evil effects of the love of the world and attachment to it is that it makes man afraid of death. The fear of death, being the product of the love of the world and attachment to it, is highly objectionable; it is different from the fear of the Day of Resurrection, which is one of the attributes of true believers. The greater part of the sufferings and pangs experienced by a dying man are on account of the severance of the worldly ties, not the fear of death itself.

A brilliant researcher and a judicious analyser of the world of Islam, Mir Damad-karrama Allah wajhahin his al-Qabasat, a book of rare excellence, writes:

Death itself will never frighten you; its bitterness lies in being afraid of it. [8]

Another great evil caused by the love of the world is that it keeps man from religious exercises, devotional rites, and prayers, and strengthens his physical nature. It inculcates disobedience within his physical nature(atmosphere) to the commands of his spirit. As a result it weakens his power of resolution and debilitates the will, whereas one of the main secrets and aims of worship and religious exercises is to make the body, the physical faculties, and the natural instincts subordinate to the spirit, so that the will may control them and force the body to act according to its wishes and prevent it from whatever the spirit(phantom) wants it to abstain from. If the spirit dominates the body, the domain of the body and the physical faculties is brought under the control of the spirit in a way that everything it wishes the body to perform would be performed without the slightest hardship and hindrance. One of the virtues and secrets of austere worships and laborious devotional exercises is that they are more conducive to the attainment of this goal. Through them man can-a strong will and resolution, and overcome his physical nature. If the will becomes complete and perfect and the resolution strong and powerful, the domain of the human body and its external and internal faculties acquires angelic characteristics, and he becomes similar to the angels of God who never transgress Divine commands, obey readily, without any resistance or compulsion, whatever He orders them to do, and refrain from doing whatever they are forbidden from. If the physical faculties of man come under the domination of his spirit, all hardships and hindrances disappear and a state of ease and tranquillity prevails. When that happens, the `seven realms' of physical nature will become subservient to the heavenly forces, and all the faculties will act as their functionaries.

Therefore, my dear, the strength of will power and resolution is very important and effective in that world. In fact, the strength of will is the criterion of entry into one of the levels of Paradise which is one of the highest heavens. Unless one possesses a strong will and powerful resolution he cannot gain that heaven and that high station. It is reported in a tradition that when the virtuous are stationed in Paradise, a message will be sent to them from the Holy God, saying, "This is the message sent by the Eternal and the Immortal to the one who is also eternal and immortal: Whatever I command to be, it comes into existence; today I bestow on you authority to command whatever you desire to bring into existence and it would come into existence." You can see what a great authority and distinction that would be. What sort of power they have whose resolution and will shall be the manifestation of the Divine Will so that they will be able to grant the apparel of existence to non-existents. It shows that the power of will and resolution is superior to all the physical faculties. And it is also obvious that this message will not be sent out of extravagance and without proper judgement. Those whose will is subordinated to their bestial desires and whose resolution has become dead and inert, they cannot attain this station. The Almighty's Acts are free from extravagance and vain indulgence. In this world everything is based on a system in which all means and ends are arranged according to an order. In that world, too, all matters will be arranged in a similar manner, or rather that world represents the highest harmony between causes and effects, means and ends. The power and authority of the will is to be cultivated in this world. This world is the sowing ground of the Hereafter; it is the substance out of which the rewards of heaven as well as the misfortunes of hell are carved out.

Therefore, each one of the worships and the rites prescribed by the Shari'ah, besides themselves possessing heavenly and angelic forms, are elements for building the physical paradise and procuring all the paraphernalia of heavenly life. This is confirmed by tradition and affirmed by reason. In the same way as every worship produces its own specific effects on the soul, it also, little by little, strengthens the will and perfects its strength. Therefore, the greater the effort required for a worship, the more productive it is:

The best of deeds are those which are the most difficult. [9]

For instance, waking up for the sake of praying to God Almighty in the biting cold of a wintery night and sacrificing the delights of sound sleep makes the soul triumphant over the body and strengthens the will. Though it is a bit difficult and unpleasant in the beginning, but after a little practice its hardship and inconvenience becomes lesser and lesser and the subservience of the body to the soul grows. We see the people who perform it doing all this without any trouble, and if we are lazy and find it difficult, it is because we do not take action. But if we force ourselves to act, gradually the difficulty turns into ease. The people who offer the nightly prayer derive great enjoyment out of it, even more than the pleasure we derive from carnal enjoyments. The self becomes habituated through action, and goodness becomes enduring by becoming habitual.

These worships have several advantages, one of them is that the form that they in that world is so beautiful that its parallel cannot be found in this world, and we are unable to visualize it. Another is that the soul acquires will power and resolution, which by itself has numerous advantages, and we have mentioned one of them. Yet another is that it familiarizes man with the worship and remembrance of God, bringing the unreal to the Real, and turning the heart towards the King of kings, stirring in it the love for the Beauty of the Real Beloved, and diminishing the attachment to and concern for the world and the Hereafter. Perhaps, if this divine passion is produced and a state is achieved in which he knows the real objective of worship and the real secret of meditation and remembrance, both the worlds would lose their significance for him; the vision of the Beloved wipes out the dust of duality from the mirror of the heart, and God alone knows how magnanimously He will treat such a devotee. Therefore, the practice of the exercises prescribed by the Shari'ah, the worships and the rites, and abstention from carnal desires and lusts, strengthen the human will power and resolution. On the other hand, immersion in sinful physical nature weakens human resolution and will, as mentioned earlier.

It is known to every man of conscience that man is drawn towards Absolute Perfection in accordance with his nature and inherent disposition. The better part of his heart is attracted towards Absolute Beauty and the Most Perfect in all aspects. This characteristic of man is innate in his nature and ingrained in it by God Almighty. Accordingly, the will is a means for the fulfilment of the search of the lovers of Absolute Beauty. However, everyone, in accordance with his own state and condition, has his own idea of perfection, and he sees perfection in something towards which he is attracted. Those who work for the sake of the Hereafter perceive perfection in otherworldly stages and grades and their hearts are turned towards them. And the men of God, who, beholding perfection in His beauty and beauty in His perfection, say:

... I have turned my face towards Him no created the heavens and the earth .... (6:79)

And they say`My ecstasy lies in God'. They long for union with Him, and are in love with His Beauty. The worldlings, since they perceive perfection in worldly comforts and luxuries, those things having acquired beauty in their sight and charmed them, are naturally attracted towards them. Nevertheless, since man's natural inclination is towards absolute perfection, all the worldly attachments are basically errors of judgement. Therefore, the greater his mastery over worldly or otherworldly benefits, whether they are spiritual accomplishments, authority, power, or material treasures, his longing for them increases and the flame of love grows brighter and more ferocious. For example, the sensual appetites of a lusty man will increase if he is given more chances of fulfilling his sensual desires; he will desire some other fulfilment that is not available to him, and the furnace of his lust will become hotter and wilder. In the same way, if the man ambitious for power and authority is allowed to establish(set up) his authority over one region, he will turn towards yet another. If the whole earth comes under his domination, he will think of invading other spheres in order to bring them under his dominion. He is not aware that his natural instincts crave for something else. The instinctive love and the natural quest(hunt) of man is directed towards the Absolute Beloved. All substantial, physical, and intentional motions, all attentions of the heart and the inclinations of the self are directed towards the beauty of Absolute Beauty, yet human beings do not realize it. They abuse this love, this desire, and this longing, which is meant to be the Buraq(the mount upon which the Prophet (S) is said to have performed the nocturnal journey through the universe called Mi`raj) meant for ascension to heaven, the wings to fly to union with the Absolute, by wasting it on unworthy ends and by confining it within absurd barriers and limits, thus missing their goal.

In short, since man's inclination towards absolute perfection is innate, the greater his greed for worldly allurements the more he accumulates them and the more is his heart attracted towards them. Since he mistakenly believes the world and worldly fascinations to be the desired ultimate goal his greed grows day by day and his desire for them multiplies. His need for the world increases and poverty and deprivation becomes his fate(destiny). On the contrary, those who work for the Hereafter, their attention towards the world diminishes, their attention towards the Hereafter increases with their interest therein, and the love for this world and the interest therein diminishes in their hearts till they care no more about the world and its allurements. A sense of richness and plentitude is lodged(wedged) within their hearts and the treasures of this world lose their value in their sight. Therefore, the men of God are oblivious of both the worlds and free of care for both of them. Their only need is related to Absolute Plentitude. Absence of need and presence of plentitude are infused in their hearts by the light of the Needless-in-Itself.

In the light of the above exposition, the tradition means to say that whosoever makes the world his biggest concern from morning till night, God Almighty puts poverty into his eyes. And whosoever spends his morning and evening making the Hereafter his biggest concern, God Almighty puts plentitude into his heart. It is obvious that the one whose heart attends to the, Hereafter, for him all the worldly matters become insignificant, trivial, and easy. ' He views the world as temporary, transitory; and short-lived, a place where he is for the sole purpose of educating and training himself. He is indifferent to its sufferings and joys. His needs become few, and his dependence on the matters of the world and its inhabitants becomes lesser, and reaches a point where he has no need of them at all. His affairs become integrated and organized, and an inalienable sense of contentment enters his heart. Therefore, the more you look at this world with wonder and love, the more your heart will be attached to it, and your need for it will also increase proportionally to your love. A sense of poverty and privation will appear on the surface of your personality, your affairs will become disjointed and dissipated. Your heart will become anxious, melancholic, and fearful, and your affairs will not be carried out according to your wishes. Your hope and greed will increase day by day. Grief and regret will seize you; bewilderment(surprise) and despair will invade your heart. Some of these points have been alluded to in the following traditions from al-Kafi:

On the authority of Hafs ibn Qurt, Abu `Abd Allah (A) is reported to have said: "The greater one's involvement with the world, the greater shall be his regret at the time of parting from it" [9]

...Ibn Abi Ya`fur says, "I heard Abu 'Abd Allah as saying, `Whoever has a heart attached to the world, has three things attached to his heart: unremitting sadness, unfulfilled desire, and unachievable hope.' " [10]

But the otherworldly, the nearer they come to the Court of the Beneficent, the more joyful and tranquil(serene) their hearts become; they become oblivious, nay disgusted, of this world and whatever is in it. If the Almighty had not decreed their terms of life, they would not have tarried for a single moment in this world. The Mawla of the Muwahhidun, Imam `Ali (A), says about them: "They are not sad(tragic) and dejected here like the people of this world, and in the Hereafter they will be immersed in the oceans of His Mercy." May God include you and us with them, God willing.

So, my dear, now you know about the evils of this love and attachment, and have learnt how this love can destroy a human being. It deprives the human being of his' faith, and makes a mess(sewage) of his life in the Hereafter as well as in this world. Make up your mind, and try to curtail your love and loosen the bondage to this world as far as possible. Eradicate its roots, and consider this short life in this world as insignificant. Do not attach any value to its pleasures, mixed as they are with punishment, sorrow, and pain. Seek help from God, so that He may succour you in relieving your self from its scourge and suffering, and familiarize your heart with the noble abode that lies with Him. And whatever lies with God is better and lasting.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. IV (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Hashim Rasuli), p. 8.

[2]. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al- anwar.

[3]. Nahj al-balaghah (e.d. Subhi al-Salih), Hikam, No. 131.

[4]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 2.

[5]. Ibid., vol. iv, p.3.

[6]. Nahj al- balaghah, Khutab, No. 5.

[7]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. iii, p. 205.

[8]. Mir Damad, al-Qabasat, p. 72.

[9]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 9.

[10]. ibid., vol. iv, p. 9.


 

 

 

...Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni), from 'Ali ibn Ibrahim, from Muhammad ibn 'Isa, from Yunus, from Dawud ibn Farqad, who reports al 'Imam al-Sadiq (A) to have said: "Anger is the key (that opens the door) to all kinds of vices." [1]

Exposition:

The great researcher Ahmad ibn Muhammad, popularly known as Ibn Maskawayh, in his book Taharat al-'a`raq, which is a fine book of rare excellence in beauty of style and orderliness of contents, writes something which can be summarized as follows: Anger, in fact, is an inner psychic movement(mobility) due to which a state of agitation is produced in the heart's blood, arousing a desire for vengeance. And when this agitation becomes more violent, it intensifies the fire of anger. A violent commotion in the blood seizes the heart, filling the arteries and the brain with a flurry of dark smoke, on account of which the mind and the intellect lose control and become powerless. At that time, as the hukama' maintain, the inner state of the person resembles a cave where fire has broken out, filling it with flames and suffocating clouds of smoke that leap out of its mouth with intense heat and a fiery howl. When that happens, it becomes extremely difficult to pacify such a person and to extinguish the fire of his wrath; whatever is thrown in it to cool it down becomes a part of it, adding to its intensity. It is for this reason that such a man becomes blinded to propriety and deaf to guidance. In such a condition, there is no hope for him. Then Ibn Maskawayh adds: "Hippocrates says that he is more hopeful about a ship encircled by a fierce storm and violent winds which has been knocked(jolted) away from its course by the sea waves into rocky waters, than about an enraged person. Because, in such conditions, the sailors may somehow cope to save the ship by means of clever manoeuvers, but there is no hope of deliverance for the soul engulfed in rage; for all such efforts as counsel, advice, and exhortation fail to appease him. The more one tries to pacify it through humble entreaties and tearful supplications, the more violent it becomes."

Advantages of al-Quwwah al-Ghadabiyyah (The Power of Anger):

It should be known that the Power of Anger is one of the biggest favours of God conferred upon His creatures, by means of which they are enabled to pursue activities constructive to their world and Hereafter, are assured the continuity of the species as well as, the safety and survival of the individual and the family. It also plays a great role in the establishment and maintenance of social order and civic life.' If this noble faculty were not ingrained in the animal's nature, it would not have been able to defend itself against natural adversities, and would have been defenceless against the dangers of destruction and extinction. And if it were absent in the human nature, man would have failed to achieve most of his accomplishments and attainments. Moreover, even its deficiency and insufficient presence below the moderate level is itself considered a moral weakness and flaw which gives rise to innumerable vices and defects like: fear; timidity; weakness; laxity; laziness; greed; lack of restraint, patience and tolerance; lack of constancy and perseverance when needed; love of comfort; torpor; lethargy; submissiveness to oppression and tyranny; submitting to insults and disgraces to which an individual or his family may be subjected; dastardliness; spiritlessness, etc. Describing the qualities of the believers God Almighty says:

 

... (The believers) are hard against the unbelievers and merciful among themselves... (48:29)

The fulfilment of the duty of al-'Amr bi al-ma`ruf wa al-nahy `an al-munkar (to enjoin good conduct. and forbid indecency), the implementation of hudud (punishment prescribed by the Islamic penal law), ta'zirat(punishments adjudged by a judge), and the carrying out of other policies set forth by religion or guided by reason, would not have been possible without the existence of this noble Power of Anger. On this basis, those who believe in eradicating the Power of Anger and consider its destruction as an accomplishment and mark of perfection are highly(richly) mistaken and in great error, ignorant as they are about the signs of perfection and the bounds of moderation. Poor fellows, they do not know that God Almighty has not created this noble faculty in vain in all the species belonging to the animal kingdom. To the children of Adam (A) He bestowed this power as the source of securing a good life in this world and the Hereafter, and a vehicle for procuring various blessings and felicities. The holy jihadwith the enemies(foes) of the Din; the struggle for the preservation of mankind's social order; the defence and protection of one's own life, property and honour, as well as the Divine values and laws; and above all the combat with one's inner self, which is the biggest enemy of man, none of these could be possible without the existence of this noble faculty. It is under the banner of this noble faculty that aggressions and encroachments upon rights are repelled, borders and frontiers are protected, and other social and individual offences, noxious practices, and harmful deeds are checked. It is for this very reason that the hukama' have recommended various remedies for treating any deficiency in this Power, and prescribed numerous practical and theoretical remedies for the purpose of its regeneration, like participation in acts of heroism and going to battlefronts on the occasion of war with the enemies of God. It is even narrated of some sages that they used to visit risky places, stayed there and exposed themselves to great perils and dangers. They would board a ship at a time while the sea was turbulent and stormy, so that they might get rid of fear and overcome their timidity and sluggishness. In any case, the Power of Anger is ingrained in the nature of human beings and animals, except that in some cases it is dormant and torpid, like a fire smouldering under the ashes. If someone perceives in himself any signs of torpor and lack of the sense of honour, he must try to overcome this condition by means of its antidote, courage, which is a commendable quality and a moral virtue, to return to a normal state. We shall have occasion to refer to it again in due course.

The Vice of Immoderation in Anger:

In the same way as the deficiency and lack of moderation(self-control) is considered a moral vice and source of numerous moral corruptions, the excess and going beyond the upper limits of moderation is also regarded, morally, as a vice and source of countless deviations. The tradition quoted in al-Kafi issufficient to indicate the dangers of such a state:

It is reported on the authority of al-Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Apostle of God (S) said: "Anger spoils faith in the same way as vinegar destroys honey." [2]

It may happen that someone gets angry and, in a bout of extreme anger, turns away from the Din of God. The hot flames and the dark fumes of anger(irritation)   not only destroy his faith by consuming his righteous beliefs, they also lead him to apostatize by rejecting God, thus leading him to eternal damnation. And when he becomes aware of it, his remorse is of no avail, as the fire of anger, which was lit by a spark thrown in by Satan, continues to roar(yell) in his heart, as al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) has said:

Indeed, this anger is the spark lit by Satan [3] in the heart of the son of Adam.

In the next world this fire will the form of the fire of Divine Wrath, as reported from al-Baqir (A) in al-Kafi:

It is recorded in the Torah regarding that which God Almighty confided to Moses (A), saying: "O Moses, control your anger towards those over whom I have given you authority, so that I may spare you from My Wrath." [4]

It must be known that no fire is more painful than the fire of Divine Wrath. It is mentioned in a tradition that Jesus, the son of Mary, was asked by his disciples as to which of the things is the hardest to bear. "The Fury of the Most High God is the hardest thing to bear," he replied. They questioned him, "How can we save ourselves from it?" "By not getting angry," Jesus said.

Therefore, it must be obvious that God's Wrath is more painful and severer than any thing else, and the fire of His Fury is most destructive. The Hereafterly form of our anger in this world is the fire of Divine Wrath in the next world. In the same way as anger emanates from the heart, perhaps the fire of Divine Wrath, which is the abode of our anger and all other inner vices, will also emanate from the inner depths of the heart and spread over the external being, and its tormenting flames will emerge from the external sense organs like the eyes, the ears, and the tongue. Rather, the external senses are themselves the doors which shall be opened to the fire of Hell. The fire of the hell of deeds and the physical hell encompasses the without and travels towards the within. Hence man is tortured from both the sides by these two hells: one emanates from within the heart and its flames enter the body through pia mater of the brain, and the other, which is the result of the vicious deeds, advances towards the inner being from without, and man is subjected to torments and pressures. What sort of torment and torture it will be? God alone knows what pain and distress it will bring in addition to the burning and melting. You imagine that the topological mode of the Hell's encompassment is something that you know. Here things are surrounded only externally and outwardly; but in that world, encirclement will occur both externally and internally; it will cover the outer surface of the body as well as the inner depths of the human heart and being.

And if, God forbid, anger becomes permanent part of one's nature, it will be more catastrophic; for the form that such a one shall in the Barzakh and on the Day of Resurrection will be a beastly form, that too one which has no match in this world; for the brutality of the person in this state cannot be compared with any of the ferocious beasts. In the same way-as none of the creatures can touch this marvel of nature from the aspect of attainment of nobility and perfection, so also from the aspect of his capacity for degeneration and meanness and his leaning towards perverseness, man cannot be compared with any creature. It is about his perverseness that the Holy Quran says:

... These are as the cattle-nay, they are worse in misguidance .... (7:179)

It is about the hardness of the human heart that it says:

... (Then the hearts of the Jews) became hardened like stones, or even yet harder... (2:74)

All this that you have heard about the evil effects of this consuming fire of anger is merely a fraction of its danger. It holds true in cases where no other vice and offence spring from it, that is, if this inner fire lies dormant in the inner darkness, having been choked and suffocated, although having extinguished the light of faith by its dense smoke. However, it is very rare, or rather impossible, that in a fit of its intense conflagration one should remain immune from committing other, even mortal, sins. It happens that in a brief(concise) outburst of anger, this cursed firebrand thrown by the Devil, man falls(drops) over the precipice of destruction and doom. He may even, God be our refuge, abuse the prophets of God and saints, assassinate an innocent person, or desecrate something holy, thus bringing about his own destruction in the world as well as in the Hereafter, as is mentioned in a hadith of al-Kafi:

It is reported from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said that his father used to say: "Is there anything more violent than anger? Verily, a man gets angry and kills(slaughters) someone whose blood has been forbidden by God, or slanders a married woman."[5]

Many atrocious deeds have been committed under a spell of anger and its agitation. Therefore, one, while in a state of tranquillity of mind, should be apprehensive of his own anger if he is in a habit of often getting angry. He should contemplate upon its cure, when in a state of mental composure, and think about its causes, its bad consequences and repercussions, and he should strive to get rid of it. He should consider that a faculty which was granted by God Almighty for the sake of the preservation of the world's order, for the continuity and survival of human species and individual, for the discipline and order of the family system, for the advancement and progress of humankind, and for protecting human rights and safeguarding Divine laws, a faculty under whose shadow the detectable as well as the invisible system of the visible world and the hidden world is to be reformed and maintained, if he acts contrary to this purpose and makes use(utilize) of this power against the Divine design, it will be a breach of trust of a severe kind that deserves censure and punishment. What an act of ignorance and injustice it is not to fulfil the Divine trust, by employing what could be easily employed for the purposes of justice in incurring His Wrath. It is clear that such a person will not be sheltered from the Divine Wrath. Hence it is in order to think seriously about the moral vices and vicious deeds that are the outcome of anger, and to try to remove the effects of this crooked quality, each one of which is capable of afflicting a person till eternity, causing many a calamity in this world as well as chastisement and damnation in the Hereafter.

Moral Hazards of Anger:

As to the moral hazards, it may cause malice towards creatures of God, leading sometimes even to the enmity not only of prophets and awliya', but also of the Holy Essence of the Necessary Being and the Nourisher. This shows how dangerous and disgraceful its consequences may be. I seek refuge in God from the evil of the rebellious self, which, if left reinless for a moment, throws one down rolling in the dust of ignominy or dashes with him towards eternal damnation. It may also give rise to other vices, likehasad, about whose evils you have read in the exposition of the fifth tradition, and many more besides it.

Its Behavioural Hazards:

There is no limit to the behavioural hazards that are products of this vice. Perhaps, it may lead one, God save us, to use abusive language or revile the prophets of God and awliya'. Or he may desecrate sanctities and utter slanders about venerable persons. He may murder a pious soul, wreck the lives of innocent creatures, wreck a family, or reveal the secrets of others tearing up the veils that cover them. There seems to be no limit to such monstrous acts that man may commit at the time of outbreak of this faith-consuming fire that also destroys many homes. As such, it can be said that this habit is the mother of all spiritual maladies and the key to each and every evil action. As opposed to this vice is the ability to restrain one's anger. This ability to extinguish the fire of anger has been considered the essence of wisdom and the focus of all virtues and noble qualities, as stated in this tradition of al-Kafi

(Al-Kulayni says:) From a number of our (i.e. al-Kulayni's) companions, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid (al-Barqi), who narrates on the authority of a chain of narrators from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he heard his father (al-'Imam al-Baqir [A]) as saying: "A Bedouin came to the Prophet (S) and said: `I live in the desert. Teach me the essence of wisdom.' Thereupon the Prophet (S) said to him: `I command you not to get angry' After repeating his question thrice (and hearing the same reply from the Prophet every time) the Bedouin said to himself: `After this I will not ask any question, since the Apostle of God (S) does not command anything but good'." Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) says: "My father used to say, `Is there anything more violent than anger? Verily, a man gets angry and kills(butchers) someone whose blood has been forbidden by God, or slanders a married woman'." [6]

After that a wise person coolly ponders upon its evil consequences and the benefits of restraint, he should make it incumbent upon himself to put out this fire in the region of his heart with every possible effort and to clear from his heart the black soot of its smoke. This is something which is not very difficult when one resolves to act against one's inner self and its desires, after having reflected upon their evil effects and by admonishing one's self. In fact, one may get rid of all moral evils and ugly spiritual traits and all good qualities and excellences of character and soul whenever he resolves to improve his spiritual condition.

                                                   Controlling Anger:

There are also several practical and theoretical remedies for curing anger when it has flared up. The theoretical remedy involves reflecting upon the matters mentioned above, which is also a kind of practical remedy in this case. But among the practical remedies the important ones involve withholding of the self in the initial stages of anger. This is because it is ignited little by little, becoming more intense until its furnace is set burning fiercely and its flame becomes violent and furious. When that happens, it gets completely out of control and shuts off the lights of one's faith and intellect. Blowing off the lamp of guidance, it reduces man to an utterly wretched state. Therefore, one should be on one's guard so as to dissociate oneself by some means before its fierceness mounts and its fire becomes more violent. He should either leave the place where his anger may be provoked, or change his posture: that is, if seated, he should stand up, and if standing sit down, or engage his mind in the remembrance of God (some people consider it even obligatory), or he should make himself busy in some other activity to divert his attention. In any case, it is easier to put a curb on it in the beginning. It has two results. Firstly, he will be able to pacify his self at that early stage and the flames of anger will be put out. Secondly, the experience will always remain with one as a primary cure for treating one's self. If one always pays attention to one's condition and treats one's self in this way, one will undergo a complete transformation as one's inner state moves towards the point of moderation. An allusion to this matter is made in the following traditions from al-Kafi:

 

It is reported from al 'Imam al-Baqir (A) that he said. "Verily, anger is a spark ignited by the Devil in the human heart. Indeed, when anyone of you gets angry, his eyes become red, the veins of his neck become swollen and Satan enters them. Therefore, whosoever among you is concerned about himself on account of it, he should lie down for a while so that the filth of Satan may be removed from him at the time." [7]

And:

Maysir reports that once anger was discussed in the presence of al-'Imam al Baqir (A). He said: "Verily, it happens that an angry person would not be satisfied until he enters the Fire (i.e. his anger does not subside unless it drags him into the hellfire). Therefore, whoever is angry with someone let him sit down immediately if he is standing; for, indeed, it would repel from him the uncleanliness of Satan. And whoever gets angry with his kinsman, let him approach him and pat him; for the feeling of consanguinity, when stimulated by touch, induces calmness." [8]

These two traditions suggest two practical remedies of anger in its initial stage. One is general and recommends sitting down and bringing about a change in posture (according to another tradition, if somebody be seated at the time of getting angry, he should stand up). It is reported by Sunni sources that the Apostle of God (S), if he ever got angry while standing, would sit down, and if seated, would recline, and his anger would subside. The other remedy which is particular is concerned with blood relations and suggests that if anybody gets angry with someone related to him by blood, if he touches him with his hand his anger will cool down.

These are the methods(technique) of curing oneself of one's anger; but if others want to treat an enraged person, if his anger is in the initial stage, any one of the methods(Procedures)  from among the various practical and theoretical ones suggested may be useful. But if he is in extreme anger, advice and counsel give opposite results, and it becomes very difficult to treat him in this stage, except by being put in a state of alarm by someone whom he holds in high esteem; for anger vents itself on those whom one deems weaker and inferior to oneself or at least as equal in power and position. But in front of those persons with whom he is impressed, his anger is never provoked. Rather his outer excitement and agitation will be transformed(revolutionized) into an internal fury confined to his inner self. Not finding any outlet, it will change into a grief within the heart. Hence, it is not at all an easy task to appease a person undergoing outbursts of extreme rage. We seek refuge in God from it.

How to Eradicate the Roots of Anger:

Among the fundamental remedies of anger, one is to exterminate the factors responsible for its provocation. They are many, and here we can mention only a few of them. One of them is self-love, which in 'turn begets the love of wealth, glory, and honour and the desire to impose one's will and expand one's domain of power. These factors are inherently responsible for exciting the fire of anger, as the individual infatuated with these things tends to hold them in high regard and they occupy a high place in his heart. He, improperly, gets angry and excited if any one of these aspired goals is not achieved or when his desire faces any obstacle and loses control over himself. Greed, avarice, and such other vices that take root in his heart as a result of self-love and the love of glory, snatch the reins of reason from his hands, forsaking the self to commit deeds that deviate from the path of Divine Law and reason. But if his love and interest in these things is not intense-and he gives lesser importance to these matters, his inner calm(hush) and contentment, obtained by giving up the love of wealth, honour and the like, will not allow his self to act against the demands of justice. Then, he will not find it difficult to maintain his patience(stamina) in hardships, and will not lose grip of self-restraint. He would not get angry unnecessarily and abnormally. If the love of the world is eradicated from his heart and this vice is completely wiped out, then all other vices also take leave and vanish from it, vacating the realm of the soul to be taken over by moral virtues.

Another factor that arouses anger is that sometimes anger and its evil manifestations, which are in fact great moral defects and indecencies, are imagined to be merits and accomplishments on account of ignorance and lack of understanding. Some fools reckon those vices as marks of bravery and courage and brag about themselves on account of them. They confuse(trip up) the virtue of valour, which is a superb attribute of the believer's character and a commendable quality, with this pernicious vice. However, it should be noted that courage or valour is a different thing, and its source, its causes, effects and characteristics differ totally from those of that injurious vice. Courage originates in the strength of one's spirit, serenity of mind, moderateness, faith, and lack of concern for the vanities of life and indifference to its vicissitudes; whereas anger is the product of spiritual weakness and degeneration, insufficiency of faith, immoderation of character and soul, love of the world and concern for mundane things and the fear of losing the pleasures of life. Hence this vice is found more frequently in women than in men, more in sick individuals than in healthy people, more in children than in grown ups, more in the elderly than in young people. Valour and courage is its opposite. Those suffering from moral infirmities are more liable to get angry sooner than those who are morally sound. Thus, we often see such people get angry sooner and becoming fiercer if any encroachment is made upon their property than the others.

This was about the origins and motives of anger and courage. However, they are also different as to their effects. The irascible person, when under the spell of anger and its excitement, behaves unreasonably like a lunatic or like an animal which acts without rationally considering the consequences of its actions, and commits ugly and indecent acts. His tongue, limbs, and other parts of the body go out of his control. His eyes, lips and mouth are distorted in such an ugly manner that he will be ashamed of his ugly features if he is shown a mirror at the time. Some persons who are afflicted with this vice not only do not refrain from venting their anger on innocent animals, but do not spare even inanimate things. They curse air, water, earth, snow, rain and other elements of nature if anything happens against their wish. Sometimes they vent their fury on a book, pen, glass or jug, tearing it up or busting it into pieces.

But the behaviour of a courageous person is different in all these matters. His acts are based on reason and tranquillity of soul. He gets angry on the proper occasion and is patient and restrained when required to be so. He is not provoked or incensed by each and every annoyance. He becomes angry on the proper occasion to the proper extent and takes his vengeance with reason and discretion. He knows well as to against whom to take his revenge, on what occasion, to what degree and in what manner, and as to whom he should forgive and what to overlook and ignore. In the state of anger, he does not lose control of his reason, and he never makes use of indecent language nor acts indiscreetly. All his acts are based on rational considerations and are in accordance with the norms of justice and Divine Law. He always acts in such a manner so as not to regret later on.

Thus an aware human being should not confuse(mix up) this quality, which is one of the attributes of prophets, awliya' and true believers and is considered a spiritual accomplishment and achievement, with the vice which is one of the attributes of Satan, a diabolical incitement, a spiritual abomination and a flaw of the heart. Yet, the veils of ignorance and folly and the curtains of self-love and attachment to the world cover man's hearing and blind his vision, rendering him helpless and bringing about his destruction.

Certain other causes of anger(irritation)  have also been pointed out, such as `ujb, bragging (iftikhar),pride (kibr), disputatiousness (mira'), obstinacy (lajaj), jesting and the like; but to go into their details will prolong this discussion and might be cumbersome. Possibly most or all of them, directly or indirectly, originate in the two sources already discussed. And praise be to God.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 412.

[2]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 412.

[3]. Ibid., p. 415.

[4] Ibid., pp. 412-413.

[5] Ibid., pp. 412-413.

[6] Ibid., pp. 412-413.

[7]. Ibid., p. 415.

[8]. Ibid., p. 412.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unit  26

 

 

 


...Muhammad ibn Ya`qub (al-Kulayni), from `Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from al-Nawfali, from al-Sakuni, from Abu 'Abd Allah (al-'Imam al Sadiq) (A) that he said: "Amir al-Mu'minin (A) used to say: `Arouse your heart to contemplation; keep your side clear off the night; and be heedful towards your Lord." [1]

Exposition:

The phrase kana yaqul (used to say) has a meaning different from qala (said) or yaqul (says), as it indicates continuation and perpetuation. It shows that Amir al-Mu'minin (A) repeatedly used to utter these words. The word tanabbuh means `to arouse', 'to warn', `to call attention to', and 'to awaken from sleep.' Here all of these meanings are suitable(apt), for the hearts are in a state of neglectfulness and sleep prior to contemplation, and they come out of this state by means of it. Sleep and awakening, unconsciousness and consciousness are different for the realm of the body and the kingdom of the soul. Many a time the outward eye is awake, the corporeal personality is conscious(alert) but the inner eye and the inward vision is deep asleep, and the spiritual regions and the domain of the soul are heedless and unconscious. Tafakkur (contemplation, intellection) is the activity of the intellect. It is the reordering of known matters for the purpose of reaching hitherto unknown conclusions. It includes the kind of contemplation which is one of the characteristics of mystics and wayfarers of the Path. Khwajah `Abd Allah al-'Ansari has described it in these words:

Know that contemplation is the inquisitive groping of the inner vision for attaining the coveted end. [2]

It is obvious that ma`rifah (gnosis) is the desired object of the heart. Accordingly, in this hadith also contemplation has a specific sense concerned with the heart and its life.

What is Heart?

There are various applications and denotations of the word `heart'. For physicians and the common people it is a tiny piece(slice) of flesh, whose contractions and expansions cause the flow(downpour) of blood through arteries and veins, which generates a subtle elan vital. The philosophers (hukama) use(utilize) it for a certain seat of the psyche (nafs). The `urafa'assign to it grades (maratib) and stages (maqamat), and to go into their details is not our concern here. In the Holy Quran and the ahadith, it has been used both in its general as well as its particular senses in different places.

In the verse `...the hearts reached to the throats ' (33:10), `heart' is used in the same sense as used by physicians. And in"They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not' (7:179), it is used in the sense used by the philosophers. And in `Therein verily is a reminder for him who hath a heart, or giveth ear with full intelligence' (50:37), `heart' is used in the same sense as used by the `urafa'.

In the tradition, tafakkur is used in the sense as is generally used by hukama', but the `heart' as meant by `urafa' has no relation to tafakkur, especially on its certain levels, as those who are familiar with their terminology know well.

In the statement: gives the sense of bu'd, to keep away, to shun, and such is its-meaning in as given by al-Sihah. `Night', here, has been used allegorically for `bed'... and as discussed in detail by the usuli faqih Aqa Shaykh Rida Isfahani in Jaliyyat al-hal , the avoiding of `night' refers to getting up from the bed for night prayers ....God willing, we shall discuss the holy tradition in a number of sections.

The Merits of Contemplation:

It should be known that there is a great merit in contemplation. Contemplation is the key to the doors of ma'rifah and to the treasure chests of knowledge and excellence. It is the necessary and the surest first step on the path of genuine humanness. It has been highly commended and glorified by the Glorious Quran and in traditions, and one who abandons it has been censured and denounced.

In al-Kafi it is reported from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that:

The best form of worship is to contemplate about God and His Power. [3]

In another hadith, it is stated that an hour's contemplation is better than a night's worship.' [4] And according to a Prophetic tradition, the contemplation of an hour is better than a year's worship. In another tradition it is stated that an hour's contemplation is better than sixty years of worship (according to another hadith, seventy years). And some traditionists and fuqaha' have even mentioned it as being better than a thousand years of worship. In any case, there are different grades and levels of contemplation, and every grade gives certain results and consequences. Here we shall mention a few of them.

1. The first kind of contemplation is about God, His Names, Attributes and His Perfections, the result of which is the knowledge of His existence and His irradiations (tajalliyat) from which the archetypes (ayan) and the manifestations (mazahir) emerge. And this is the most superior level of contemplation which yields the sublimest of the kinds of knowledge, and the firmest of the arguments (burhan); for thinking about the essence of the Cause and meditating on the Absolute Cause imparts knowledge about Him and the understanding of the effects. Such is the outline of the revelations on the hearts of the Truthful(siddiqun), and it is for this reason that it is called burhan al-siddiqin, the Proof of the Truthful; since the Truthful observe the Names and the Attributes, and view the first essences (a`yan) and manifestations (mazahir) in the mirror of the Names through the witness of the Essence. The reason, however, that this type of proof is called burhan al-siddiqin is that if a Truthful one(siddiq) wishes to set forth his observations in the form of a proof and give his gnostic, intuitive experience the apparel of words, it would appear in this form; not that anyone who gains the knowledge of the Essence and its irradiations through this proof becomes one of the Truthful, or that the knowledge of the Truthful belongs to the category of proofs, even especial ones. How far from the truth to imagine that their knowledge is of the category of contemplation, or that their cognitions are like arguments and their premises! As long as the heart is covered within the wrapping of arguments and one is in the stage of contemplation, one has not yet reached even the first grade of the Truthful. And when the thick curtains of knowledge and proof are set aside and contemplation brushed aside, it is at the extremity of the Path drat there, without the mediation of contemplation - in fact without any means or agency whatsoever - that he ultimately succeeds in viewing the glory and beauty of the Absolute at the end of his voyage(trekking); it is then that he experiences perpetual and everlasting delight. He transcends the world and everything therein, covered under the mantle of the Almighty to remain existent in total annihilation. Nothing remains of him, and he passes into absolute oblivion, save that Divine favour should take him back to his realm and to the regions of (relative) being, in accordance with the capacity of his unchanging essence (al-`ayn al-thabitah). In the state of this return, the spheres of Divine glory and beauty are revealed to him, and he perceives (the meaning of) the Names and the Attributes in the mirror of the Essence. Through that he witnesses his own unchanging essence and everything that is under His shelter and protection, and discovers the tracks(trail) of the manifestations and the ways of recourse to the heart's exterior. Then he is conferred with the robes of prophethood and the difference of the stations of the apostles and prophets becomes evident to him. The vastness or narrowness of the circle of prophethood and that of those from whom the prophet is raised and those towards whom he is sent are revealed to him. And to enlarge on this topic further is not proper for these pages. So we shall leave it here and part, too, with the theme of burhan al-siddiqin, as it needs a preparatory introduction with its elaborate details.

The Desirable and the Forbidden Contemplation on the Divine Essence:

It should be known that what we said about the possibility of contemplation on the Essence, the Names and the Attributes may lead the ignorant to imagine that it is forbidden in accordance with certain riwayat, knowing not that that which is forbidden is to attempt to fathom the quality and depths of the Essence, as is clear from the traditions.' [5] Sometimes those who are not capable of such (otherwise desirable) contemplation are also forbidden from reflecting on certain kinds of ma`arifwhich require initiation into certain subtleties. The hukama' confirm both of these points. The impossibility of fathoming the Essence is demonstrated in their writings(Inscriptions), and the prohibition on contemplation on it is acknowledged by all of them. Also the conditions of entry into these sciences and the prohibition of the unworthy from learning them is also mentioned in their books; it is a customary advice which is mentioned by them either in the beginning or at the end of their works. For instance, the two great philosophers of Islam and authorities in this field, Shaykh Bu 'Ali Sina and Sadr al-Muta'allihin (R) have stated this at the end of al-'Isharat [6] and at the beginning of al-'Asfar. [7] They have given eloquent counsels in this regard. But to contemplate the Essence for positing the principle of al-tawhid and affirming Its transcendence(al-tanzih) and sanctity was the ultimate goal and purpose of the sending of the prophets and the cherished end of the `urafa'. The Holy Quran and the sacred ahadith are loaded with the knowledge of the Essence, Its Perfections and the Divine Names. Reliable books of traditions, like Usul al-Kafi and al-Tawhid of al Shaykh al-Saduq, also do not forbid contemplation for the purpose of affirmation of the Essence, the Names and the Attributes. The difference between the scriptures and traditions of the prophets and the writings of the philosophers is regarding their terminology and their synoptic or elaborate treatment of the subject, as is the case with the difference between fiqh and traditions. But the calamity is that certain ignorant persons have appeared in the garb of scholars during the last few centuries, who, being bereft of the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah, consider their sheer ignorance as the sole proof of the vanity of the knowledge of al-mabda' and al-ma'ad. Such a man for the sake of promoting his trade, labels these ma`arif, which were the ultimate goal of the apostles and the Awliya' (A) of God and with whose description the entire Book of God and the traditions of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (A) are replete, asharam. Not sparing any charge(levy) and calumny against those who pursue these ma'arif, he diverts the hearts of the creatures of God from the knowledge of al-mabda' and al-ma`ad, in addition to sowing the seeds of discord and disharmony in the community of Muslims. When asked about the reason for all this takfir (calling someone kafir) and tafsiq, (calling someone fasiq ), he immediately clings to the tradition, `Do not contemplate upon the Essence (of God)'. The ignorance and the error of this wretch is for two reasons: Firstly, he believes that the hukama' contemplate on the Essence, whereas they consider its intellection as impossible and probing deep into its mysteries as forbidden, and this itself is one of the established issues of their discipline. Secondly, having misunderstood the meaning of the tradition, he believes that not a single word be uttered regarding the Sacred Essence.

Here we shall cite some of the related traditions and, in our humble capacity, try to reconcile them, leaving the judgement to the (reader's sense of) justice. Though this makes us digress from the proposed exposition of the hadith - our original goal -it is essential for eliminating doubts and refuting misconceptions. The following tradition is mentioned in al-Kafi:

...Abu Basir reports Abu Ja'far (A) as having said: Speak (takallamu) about the creation of God, and do not speak about God(fi Allah), for discourse about God will bring nothing but confusion (tahayyur) to the discourser. [8]

This tradition itself indicates that the purpose of the prohibition is to discourage discourse aimed at fathoming the depths(iktinah) of the Essence and Its kayfiyyah (quality) with a view to discovering Its cause. Otherwise, discoursing about the Essence with a view to affirming It, Its Perfections, Its Unity and Transcendence does not cause confusion. It is also possible that the prohibition here relates to such persons in whom discourse about these matters will cause perplexity and confusion. The late muhaddith al-Majlisi (R) has allowed both of these possibilities without elaborating them, but he gives more weight to the first one. Another tradition of al-Kafi states:

...from Hariz, from Abu `Abd Allah (A) that he said: "Discuss everything, but do not discuss the Essence of the Almighty." [9]

There are other traditions which are identical or close in import to this riwayah, and to cite them all is not essential. Another tradition of al-Kafi states:

...Abu Ja'far (A) said: "Beware of tafakkur in God. But if you wish to view His grandeur, observe the great of His creations." [10]

Apparently, this riwayah also seems to forbid probing into the reality of the Essence, for the tradition adds that if someone wants to perceive the glory of the Almighty he should infer it from the grandeur of His creation. This kind of parabolic approach is intended for various types of persons whose knowledge of God is derived through the means of the creation.

This and other such traditions which appear to forbid discourse and contemplation on God by themselves support our claim, which is expressly confirmed by the following tradition of al-Kafi on contemplation:

The most superior form of worship is perpetual contemplation on God and His Power. [11]

Accordingly, contemplation on God for positing His Essence and contemplating His Power, His Names and Attributes is not only not prohibited, but is the most superior kind of worship. Another tradition of al-Kafi states:

`Ali (A) ibn al-Husayn (A) was questioned about tawhid; he answered "Verily, God Almighty knew that during the Last Age there would be a people of profound thinking. Hence the Almighty revealed (Surat al-Tawhid) and the verses of the Surat al-Hadid upto `And God is the Knower of all that is in the hearts'. So whosoever goes beyond that will perish." [12]

This shows that these verses about tawhid and tanzih, the verses about the emergence and the return of the creation mentioned therein, are for those who contemplate profoundly. Can then anyone still claim that contemplating on God Almighty is prohibited? What `arif and hakim has brought anything that goes beyond the commencing verses of the Surat al-Hadid? The ultimate of their achievement is that 'All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Allah'.-'Is ` there any better way of describing God Almighty and the aspects of His Sacred Essence than the verse:

He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward, and He is the Knower of all things. (57:3)

By the Life of the Beloved, had there been nothing besides this verse in the Glorious Book of God, it would have been sufficient for the men of heart!

If one were to consider the Book of God and the sermons and the traditions of the Holy Prophet (S) and his infallible vicegerents (A), one shall notice that no `arif or hakim has said anything on any of the conceivable sub-issues of the Divine teachings that goes beyond these; all their statements are replete with the description (tawsif) of the Almighty and full of arguments about His sacred Essence and Attributes, so that every class of scholars benefits from them according to the capacity of its comprehension.

Then all of these traditions show that contemplating and meditating on the Essence is forbidden on a certain level, which is to probe into the inmost mysteries (kunh) of the Essence and Its Quality (kayfiyyah), as stated in this tradition of al-Kafi:

Whosoever contemplates in God to see how He is, perishes. [13]

Moreover, the traditions forbidding contemplation and those enjoining it, when reconciled, give the conclusion(deduction)  that a group of people who do not possess the strength of giving ear to philosophical arguments (burhan), having no capacity of entering into such discussions, are forbidden from doing so, and there are indications in the riwayat which testify to this. But as for those who have an aptitude for it, it is not only proper but is the highest form of worship. In any case, we have digressed completely from our proposed theme, but there was no way we could avoid examining those degenerate views and the kind of calumnies, displeasing to God, which have acquired circulation during recent times on tongues, with the hope that it will make some effect on some hearts, and if one person were to accept this it would be sufficient for me. And praise is God's and to Him do we complain.

Contemplation on Creation:

Another level of contemplation is reflecting on the subtleties of creation, its perfection and refinement, to the extent that it is in human power. Such contemplation leads to the intellection of its Perfect Source, its Wise Maker, and is a process which is the reverse of the burhan al siddiqin; for, in the latter, the point of departure is the station of God Almighty, glorious is His Name, wherefrom is d the knowledge of the manifestations of His Sovereignty (wilayah). Here, however, the point of departure is creation, whereafter is d the knowledge of its Source and Maker. This proof (burhan) is for ordinary people, who do not partake of the burhan al-siddiqin. Therefore, perhaps, many of them would negate that the contemplation of God can bring the knowledge of Him and that the knowledge of the Origin can lead to the knowledge of the creation.

Hence, the contemplation of the subtleties and the marvels of creation and the firmness and finesse of the system of creation belongs to the category of lucrative knowledge; it is the most meritorious of the actions of the heart and superior to all worships, since its result is the noblest of all results. Although in all forms of devotional rites (`ibadat) the main aim and the real secret is the acquisition of transcendental knowledge (ma'arif), yet the likes of us find no access to such secrets and such results. They are for their own people, to whom every devotional rite is like a grain of one or several revelations.

In any case, man has not been able to the real knowledge of the subtleties and secrets of creation. So subtle are its foundations and so firm its design, so beautiful and perfectly planned is its system that if we consider any creature, however insignificant and humble it should appear to be, with all the scientific development  during centuries of studies man has been unable to discover even one of its thousand secrets, let alone the majesty of the cosmic system of creation whose intricacies and mysteries are beyond the reaches of our vision and inaccessible to our imperfect, limited ideas. Now we shall draw your attention to one of the subtleties of creation which is relatively near to understanding and comprehension and is considered to lie in the realm of the sensible.

The Earth and the Sun: Two Masterpieces of Creation

My dear, observe and reflect on the relationship between the earth and the sun, the fixed(stationary) distance and the suitable speed(gallop) with which the earth spins on its axis and revolves in its orbit around the sun, causing day and night and the seasons. What a perfection of creative skill and what a work of immaculate wisdom it is that had it been not exactly so - that is had the earth been a little away or nearer to the sun - there would not have been any vegetation and animal life, on account of chilling cold due to the former and excessive heat due to the latter. And, similarly, had the earth remained static(motionless), there would not have been any days and nights and seasons either, and the earth would have been without any trace of life despite possessing everything else to support life. Yet He did not suffice at this; He made its north furthest from the sun (in the northern hemisphere), so as to ensure that excessive heat does no harm to the creatures; the point nearest to the sun was situated towards the south, so that coldness should not harm the inhabitants of the earth. This was also not enough; the moon, which also influences the earth's creatures, was assigned a different course than the earth, in such a way that when the sun is the northern region of the earth, the moon appears in the southern, and vice versa. This was for the sake of the utmost benefit of their positions relative to the earth. These are principally sensible phenomena, yet to encompass their subtleties and secrets is not possible for anybody but their omnipotent Creator.

Why should we go so far ? If one contemplates his own creation, according to the scope of his knowledge and capability, beginning with the external senses he will see that they have been contrived according to the kind of sensations and sense perceptions they receive. For every group of sensible objects a separate faculty of perception has been created, and that too with what astounding propriety and skill! And for matters of a supra-sensible nature, which cannot be perceived through the outward senses, internal senses have been fashioned to perceive them. Let alone the knowledge of the soul and its spiritual faculties, which the human intellect cannot comprehend, and contemplate upon the human body, its anatomy, its physical constitution and the functioning of each and every external and internal organ. See what a wonderful(fantastic) system and what a striking(imposing) order they constitute! In spite of a hundred centuries of scientific study, man has not been able to understand a thousandth fraction of it, and all the scientists declare their inability in this regard in unambiguous terms, although this body of man is no more than an insignificant speck in comparison to other creatures on the earth's crust, and the earth with all its inhabitants is of little significance as compared with the solar system and our complete solar system is of no consequence when compared with other solar systems and galaxies; and all these macro and micro systems are parts of a disciplined and orderly system, no speck of which can be found faulty by anyone and all the human intellects are unable to understand even a single secret of its myriad recondite subtleties and secrets.

Does your intellect still need something more after this reflection to believe that an Omniscient, Omnipotent and All-Wise Being, who does not resemble any other being in anything, has created all these creatures with their firm orderliness and subtlety?

....Can there be any doubt concerning God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth?...(14:10)

All this orderly and systematic(scientifically) artistry, whose general laws no human mind can comprehend, has not come into existence by itself and spontaneously. Blind be the inner eye that fails to perceive the Truth and cannot observe its beauty in these creatures! Perish the man who is skeptical and doubtful despite seeing all these effects and signs! But, what else can helpless man, captivated by fantasies, do? If you take out your rosary and claim that its beads got assembled on the thread by themselves, without anybody arranging them, everyone will laugh at your intelligence. You will invite a calamity if you take out your pocket watch and make similar claims about it; if you do such a thing will you not have stuck off your name from the list of the sane and wouldn't all the sane people of the world consider you a lunatic? If one who considers this primitive and small mechanical system to originate without a cause and as being outside causality is considered insane(unbalanced) and is likely to be stripped of all the rights belonging to men of reason, what is to be done with the person who claims not the whole cosmic system but even man and the complex system of his body and soul alone to have come into existence by itself? Is he still to be reckoned among men of reason? What fool is more stupid(dense)  than such a man?

Perish man! What has made him an unbeliever? (80:17)

Death to him whom knowledge cannot revive and who is drowned in the sea of his own error

 

 

Contemplation on the States of the Soul:

One of the levels of contemplation is meditation on the states of the soul, which is of immense benefit being the source of vast(massive) transcendental knowledge. Here we intend to discuss two benefits: one is the knowledge of the Day of Resurrection, and the other is the knowledge of (the necessity of) prophethood and revealed scriptures - that is, of general prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-`ammah) and systems of Divine Law (sharayi' haqqah). One of the issues pertaining to the soul is its state of independence (from the body), a problem which has been given more significance than any other philosophical issue by all the eminent hukama about which they have given numerous proofs and explanations. Here we are not in a position to offer an elaborate proof of this. We shall confine ourselves to mentioning some simple preliminaries and then return to our subject.

All the physicians, scientists and anatomists unanimously agree that all the human organs, from the piamater - which is the centre of sense perceptions and the stage for the manifestation of all psychic faculties - to the coarser parts and organs of the body, weaken, deteriorate and decline after the age of thirty or thirty-five years. We ourselves have experienced how weakness and sluggishness overtake all the organs of the body after that age. However, at the same time, that is at the age of thirty and forty and after that, the spiritual faculties and intellectual perceptions become more refined and gain in growth and strength. This implies that the rational faculties are not physically based, for had they been corporeal like other physical faculties, they would also have declined. It is not right to imagine that it is the extent of intellectual activity as well as experience which strengthen the intellectual faculties, because all the physical faculties weaken and decline despite prolonged use and do not grow in strength and perfection. This proves that the intellectual faculty is not physically rooted.

It is also improper to say that the faculty of intellect also declines with age, because, firstly, none of the physical faculties grows strong till middle age, so that it may be said that a certain organ of the body has been the centre of intellectual perception that grows in strength till middle age and then becomes weaker, thus rendering weak the faculty of intellect as well.

Secondly, the weakness which continues into middle age is associated with rational thought, which is either a faculty present in the body or is dependent on the physical faculties. The purely intellectual and higher faculties continue to become stronger than ever before during middle age, although their expression and outward manifestation may be lesser. In short, the strength of the faculty of intellectual perception at the age of forty or fifty years is enough for proving our contention.

Moreover, every such faculty which is nearer to the physical and corporeal domain is inclined to deteriorate and decay more rapidly, and that which is more removed from it weakens more latterly. But the powers belonging to the world of the transcendent and the celestial become stronger and their vitality increases. This proves that the soul is not corporeal and physical in nature. Since the properties, effects and activities of the soul are opposed to the properties, effects and activities of the purely corporeal organs, it proves that the soul is not corporeal in nature. For instance, through prior knowledge we know that a body does not accept more than one form. If it is to receive another form, it will have to part with the form it earlier had. For example, if a picture is drawn on a paper, another picture cannot be painted on that page as long as the first picture is not erased completely. This principle is applicable to all bodies; but for the soul, while one form is impressed on it, other totally different forms can also be stamped on it without the first form being wiped out. Every corporeal body can receive only finite forms, whereas the soul can receive infinite forms, and it is for this reason that it can posit infinity. Also, every corporeal body, if it loses one form, that form cannot be restored to it without a renewed cause; but in the case of the soul, any form, after having left it, may return to it without any resumption of the cause. This shows that the soul is opposed to all corporeal bodies regarding properties, effects and action. Hence it has a non-corporeal existence of its own and does not belong to the category of bodies and physical objects.

Anything that is non-corporeal is not subject to decay - as has been demonstrated in its own place - because decay cannot occur without matter, and the non-corporeal is independent of matter. Matter is the precondition of corporeal bodies; therefore, decay is not possible for the soul. Hence we come to the conclusion that the soul does not weaken and decay or is destroyed with the weakening, decay or destruction of the body, or after separating from it. It remains in another world and there is no death and extinction for it; this is a spiritual resurrection for the souls, prior to the Day of Resurrection, when they are united with the bodies by the will of God.

Now we reach the point of absolute affirmation of Resurrection, and stand opposed to those who negate it absolutely. From these preliminaries it should be clear that there is health and disease, reform and corruption, knowledge and wretchedness for souls, and to discover their source and to know the secrets of their corruption and welfare is not possible for anyone except the Holy Essence of the Almighty. In the perfect system of the cosmos, which is the best of possible systems ordered by the Absolutely Wise and the Omniscient, it is impossible that there should be any negligence regarding the education of mankind as to the ways of its felicity and wretchedness, its guidance towards the causes of spiritual soundness and corruption, and the prescription of remedies for curing the soul. This is because such a negligence would imply a defect either in God's knowledge or His power, either His generosity or His justice, whereas it is known that His Holy Being is free from all these defects. He is absolutely perfect and absolutely generous. Any neglect providing guidance pointing out the paths of knowledge and wretchedness will imply a great defect in Divine wisdom, which would lead to cosmic disorder and chaos. Therefore, the perfect system necessitates the declaration of the paths of felicity and the road to guidance. This explanation leads to two clear conclusions.

One is that the Shari'ah is the prescription for spiritual maladies and is known to none except the Sacred Being of the Almighty. The other is that it is necessary for God to bring it to the knowledge of man. It is obvious that such a momentous, perfect and precise knowledge, whose apprehension is not possible through the intellectual faculties of men - none of which can grasp either the relationships between tile corporeal and transcendental worlds or the effects of the transcendental forms on the inner depths of the soul - can only be accessible through the agency of wahy or revelation, that is, by means of Divine teaching. It is clear that every human individual is not worthy of this office and does not have the capability of occupying this station and performing this duty. It is only once in several centuries that one such individual is to be found who is worthy of performing this task and who can undertake such a great mission. God Almighty assigns to him the task of expounding the paths of felicity and wretchedness to humanity, to make them aware of that wherein lies their welfare. This is general prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-`ammah). Now that we have arrived at this point in our discussion, we may explain a further point which should be considered as one of self-evident truths.

A Conclusive Proof:

Now that we know that there should necessarily be a Shari'ah laid down by the Divine Lawgiver for mankind, when we turn to theshari'ahs prevailing amongst mankind we see that there are three principal ones: the shari'ah of Jews, the shari'ah of Christians, and the shari'ah of Islam. We find that in all the three essential foundations which constitute the basis of allshari'ahs (of which the first is concerned with the true doctrines and Divine teachings about God's Attributes and His transcendence, the knowledge of angels and the qualities of the prophets (A) and their infallibility, which are the principal and main component of the shari'ahs; the second is about praiseworthy qualities, purification of the soul and moral excellences; the third is about outward individual and social acts and rites pertaining to political and civic actions and their like), the Islamic shari'ah is more complete than the others. Anyone who tries to judge without prejudice will discover that it is incomparable to the others, and there does not exist any religious law pertaining to all the aspects and stages of life more perfect regarding its worldly and otherworldly aspects than this Law. This is itself the biggest proof in favour of its Divine origin. Accordingly, after affirming the doctrine of universal prophethood and the doctrine that God Almighty has legislated a Divine shari'ah for humanity, showing them the path of guidance and bringing them under the cover of one discipline and system, no preliminaries are required for proving the truthfulness of the Islamic Din except for examining it and comparing it with other religious laws on every conceivable level of human need - from righteous qualities and spiritual learning to individual and social responsibilities. And this is the meaning of the following sacred tradition:

Islam surpasses (every creed) and is not surpassed(unsurpassed) (by anything).

This is because the more the intellects of men progress and the more they gain in understanding, they bow their heads in front of its light of guidance when they consider its proofs (hujaj) and arguments (barahin), and no hujjah in the world can refute them.

The result of our arguments relating to the positing of the prophetic mission of the Seal of Prophethood (S) is that in the same way as the creative perfection manifest in the creation of the cosmos and its perfect arrangement and order directs us towards the intellection of a Being who has ordered it and whose omniscience encompasses all its particulars, subtleties and grandeurs, the perfection of the Shari'ah - whose perfect order and methodical finesse is capable of guaranteeing all the material and spiritual, this-worldly and otherworldly, collective and individual needs - guides us to the fact that the system of this shari`ah has been ordered by a knowledge which encircles all the needs of the human species. And since our intellects tell us that the intellectual faculties of a man whose biography has been written by all the historians of religion and who was an unlettered person brought up(reared) in a society devoid of all higher knowledge and virtues, could not have produced such a perfect and systematic shari'ah. Hence, of necessity, we have to acknowledge that this Shari'ah has a metaphysical and transcendental source, and reached that glorious personage (S) by means of Divine revelation and wahy. And praise is God's for the clarity of proofs.

We had intended to describe another stage of contemplation -the contemplation on this world, and zuhd is its fruit - but since this pen broke its reins in the earlier stages of this discourse making it somewhat lengthier than intended, we shall refrain from going into it.

[1]. Usul al-Kafi (Akhundi, ed. by 'Ali' Akbar Ghaffiri), II, 54.

[2]. Manazil al-sa'irin, I, 57.

[3]. Usul al-Kafi, II, 55.

[4]. Ibid., II, 50.

[5]. Al-Mahajjat al-bayda ; VIII, 193

[6]. Al- Isharat wa al-tanbihat (Tehran: Haydari), III, 419.

[7]. Al- Asfar al-'arba'ah (Dar al-Ma'arif al-'Islamiyyah ), I, 10.

[8]. Usul al-Kafi, I, 92, hadith 1.

[9]. Ibid.

[10]. Ibid., I, 93, hadith 7.

[11]. Ibid., II, 55, hadith 6.

[12]. Ibid., I, 91, hadith 3.

[13]. Ibid., I, 93, hadith 5.


   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


...Muhammad ibn Ya`qub (al-Kulayni), from `Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from al-Nawfali, from al-Sakuni, from Abu 'Abd Allah (al-'Imam al Sadiq) (A) that he said: "Amir al-Mu'minin (A) used to say: `Arouse your heart to contemplation; keep your side clear off the night; and be heedful towards your Lord." [1]

Exposition:

The phrase kana yaqul (used to say) has a meaning different from qala (said) or yaqul (says), as it indicates continuation and perpetuation. It shows that Amir al-Mu'minin (A) repeatedly used to utter these words. The word tanabbuh means `to arouse', 'to warn', `to call attention to', and 'to awaken from sleep.' Here all of these meanings are suitable(apt), for the hearts are in a state of neglectfulness and sleep prior to contemplation, and they come out of this state by means of it. Sleep and awakening, unconsciousness and consciousness are different for the realm of the body and the kingdom of the soul. Many a time the outward eye is awake, the corporeal personality is conscious(alert) but the inner eye and the inward vision is deep asleep, and the spiritual regions and the domain of the soul are heedless and unconscious. Tafakkur (contemplation, intellection) is the activity of the intellect. It is the reordering of known matters for the purpose of reaching hitherto unknown conclusions. It includes the kind of contemplation which is one of the characteristics of mystics and wayfarers of the Path. Khwajah `Abd Allah al-'Ansari has described it in these words:

Know that contemplation is the inquisitive groping of the inner vision for attaining the coveted end. [2]

It is obvious that ma`rifah (gnosis) is the desired object of the heart. Accordingly, in this hadith also contemplation has a specific sense concerned with the heart and its life.

What is Heart?

There are various applications and denotations of the word `heart'. For physicians and the common people it is a tiny piece(slice) of flesh, whose contractions and expansions cause the flow(downpour) of blood through arteries and veins, which generates a subtle elan vital. The philosophers (hukama) use(utilize) it for a certain seat of the psyche (nafs). The `urafa'assign to it grades (maratib) and stages (maqamat), and to go into their details is not our concern here. In the Holy Quran and the ahadith, it has been used both in its general as well as its particular senses in different places.

In the verse `...the hearts reached to the throats ' (33:10), `heart' is used in the same sense as used by physicians. And in"They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not' (7:179), it is used in the sense used by the philosophers. And in `Therein verily is a reminder for him who hath a heart, or giveth ear with full intelligence' (50:37), `heart' is used in the same sense as used by the `urafa'.

In the tradition, tafakkur is used in the sense as is generally used by hukama', but the `heart' as meant by `urafa' has no relation to tafakkur, especially on its certain levels, as those who are familiar with their terminology know well.

In the statement: gives the sense of bu'd, to keep away, to shun, and such is its-meaning in as given by al-Sihah. `Night', here, has been used allegorically for `bed'... and as discussed in detail by the usuli faqih Aqa Shaykh Rida Isfahani in Jaliyyat al-hal , the avoiding of `night' refers to getting up from the bed for night prayers ....God willing, we shall discuss the holy tradition in a number of sections.

The Merits of Contemplation:

It should be known that there is a great merit in contemplation. Contemplation is the key to the doors of ma'rifah and to the treasure chests of knowledge and excellence. It is the necessary and the surest first step on the path of genuine humanness. It has been highly commended and glorified by the Glorious Quran and in traditions, and one who abandons it has been censured and denounced.

In al-Kafi it is reported from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that:

The best form of worship is to contemplate about God and His Power. [3]

In another hadith, it is stated that an hour's contemplation is better than a night's worship.' [4] And according to a Prophetic tradition, the contemplation of an hour is better than a year's worship. In another tradition it is stated that an hour's contemplation is better than sixty years of worship (according to another hadith, seventy years). And some traditionists and fuqaha' have even mentioned it as being better than a thousand years of worship. In any case, there are different grades and levels of contemplation, and every grade gives certain results and consequences. Here we shall mention a few of them.

1. The first kind of contemplation is about God, His Names, Attributes and His Perfections, the result of which is the knowledge of His existence and His irradiations (tajalliyat) from which the archetypes (ayan) and the manifestations (mazahir) emerge. And this is the most superior level of contemplation which yields the sublimest of the kinds of knowledge, and the firmest of the arguments (burhan); for thinking about the essence of the Cause and meditating on the Absolute Cause imparts knowledge about Him and the understanding of the effects. Such is the outline of the revelations on the hearts of the Truthful(siddiqun), and it is for this reason that it is called burhan al-siddiqin, the Proof of the Truthful; since the Truthful observe the Names and the Attributes, and view the first essences (a`yan) and manifestations (mazahir) in the mirror of the Names through the witness of the Essence. The reason, however, that this type of proof is called burhan al-siddiqin is that if a Truthful one(siddiq) wishes to set forth his observations in the form of a proof and give his gnostic, intuitive experience the apparel of words, it would appear in this form; not that anyone who gains the knowledge of the Essence and its irradiations through this proof becomes one of the Truthful, or that the knowledge of the Truthful belongs to the category of proofs, even especial ones. How far from the truth to imagine that their knowledge is of the category of contemplation, or that their cognitions are like arguments and their premises! As long as the heart is covered within the wrapping of arguments and one is in the stage of contemplation, one has not yet reached even the first grade of the Truthful. And when the thick curtains of knowledge and proof are set aside and contemplation brushed aside, it is at the extremity of the Path drat there, without the mediation of contemplation - in fact without any means or agency whatsoever - that he ultimately succeeds in viewing the glory and beauty of the Absolute at the end of his voyage(trekking); it is then that he experiences perpetual and everlasting delight. He transcends the world and everything therein, covered under the mantle of the Almighty to remain existent in total annihilation. Nothing remains of him, and he passes into absolute oblivion, save that Divine favour should take him back to his realm and to the regions of (relative) being, in accordance with the capacity of his unchanging essence (al-`ayn al-thabitah). In the state of this return, the spheres of Divine glory and beauty are revealed to him, and he perceives (the meaning of) the Names and the Attributes in the mirror of the Essence. Through that he witnesses his own unchanging essence and everything that is under His shelter and protection, and discovers the tracks(trail) of the manifestations and the ways of recourse to the heart's exterior. Then he is conferred with the robes of prophethood and the difference of the stations of the apostles and prophets becomes evident to him. The vastness or narrowness of the circle of prophethood and that of those from whom the prophet is raised and those towards whom he is sent are revealed to him. And to enlarge on this topic further is not proper for these pages. So we shall leave it here and part, too, with the theme of burhan al-siddiqin, as it needs a preparatory introduction with its elaborate details.

The Desirable and the Forbidden Contemplation on the Divine Essence:

It should be known that what we said about the possibility of contemplation on the Essence, the Names and the Attributes may lead the ignorant to imagine that it is forbidden in accordance with certain riwayat, knowing not that that which is forbidden is to attempt to fathom the quality and depths of the Essence, as is clear from the traditions.' [5] Sometimes those who are not capable of such (otherwise desirable) contemplation are also forbidden from reflecting on certain kinds of ma`arifwhich require initiation into certain subtleties. The hukama' confirm both of these points. The impossibility of fathoming the Essence is demonstrated in their writings(Inscriptions), and the prohibition on contemplation on it is acknowledged by all of them. Also the conditions of entry into these sciences and the prohibition of the unworthy from learning them is also mentioned in their books; it is a customary advice which is mentioned by them either in the beginning or at the end of their works. For instance, the two great philosophers of Islam and authorities in this field, Shaykh Bu 'Ali Sina and Sadr al-Muta'allihin (R) have stated this at the end of al-'Isharat [6] and at the beginning of al-'Asfar. [7] They have given eloquent counsels in this regard. But to contemplate the Essence for positing the principle of al-tawhid and affirming Its transcendence(al-tanzih) and sanctity was the ultimate goal and purpose of the sending of the prophets and the cherished end of the `urafa'. The Holy Quran and the sacred ahadith are loaded with the knowledge of the Essence, Its Perfections and the Divine Names. Reliable books of traditions, like Usul al-Kafi and al-Tawhid of al Shaykh al-Saduq, also do not forbid contemplation for the purpose of affirmation of the Essence, the Names and the Attributes. The difference between the scriptures and traditions of the prophets and the writings of the philosophers is regarding their terminology and their synoptic or elaborate treatment of the subject, as is the case with the difference between fiqh and traditions. But the calamity is that certain ignorant persons have appeared in the garb of scholars during the last few centuries, who, being bereft of the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah, consider their sheer ignorance as the sole proof of the vanity of the knowledge of al-mabda' and al-ma'ad. Such a man for the sake of promoting his trade, labels these ma`arif, which were the ultimate goal of the apostles and the Awliya' (A) of God and with whose description the entire Book of God and the traditions of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (A) are replete, asharam. Not sparing any charge(levy) and calumny against those who pursue these ma'arif, he diverts the hearts of the creatures of God from the knowledge of al-mabda' and al-ma`ad, in addition to sowing the seeds of discord and disharmony in the community of Muslims. When asked about the reason for all this takfir (calling someone kafir) and tafsiq, (calling someone fasiq ), he immediately clings to the tradition, `Do not contemplate upon the Essence (of God)'. The ignorance and the error of this wretch is for two reasons: Firstly, he believes that the hukama' contemplate on the Essence, whereas they consider its intellection as impossible and probing deep into its mysteries as forbidden, and this itself is one of the established issues of their discipline. Secondly, having misunderstood the meaning of the tradition, he believes that not a single word be uttered regarding the Sacred Essence.

Here we shall cite some of the related traditions and, in our humble capacity, try to reconcile them, leaving the judgement to the (reader's sense of) justice. Though this makes us digress from the proposed exposition of the hadith - our original goal -it is essential for eliminating doubts and refuting misconceptions. The following tradition is mentioned in al-Kafi:

...Abu Basir reports Abu Ja'far (A) as having said: Speak (takallamu) about the creation of God, and do not speak about God(fi Allah), for discourse about God will bring nothing but confusion (tahayyur) to the discourser. [8]

This tradition itself indicates that the purpose of the prohibition is to discourage discourse aimed at fathoming the depths(iktinah) of the Essence and Its kayfiyyah (quality) with a view to discovering Its cause. Otherwise, discoursing about the Essence with a view to affirming It, Its Perfections, Its Unity and Transcendence does not cause confusion. It is also possible that the prohibition here relates to such persons in whom discourse about these matters will cause perplexity and confusion. The late muhaddith al-Majlisi (R) has allowed both of these possibilities without elaborating them, but he gives more weight to the first one. Another tradition of al-Kafi states:

...from Hariz, from Abu `Abd Allah (A) that he said: "Discuss everything, but do not discuss the Essence of the Almighty." [9]

There are other traditions which are identical or close in import to this riwayah, and to cite them all is not essential. Another tradition of al-Kafi states:

...Abu Ja'far (A) said: "Beware of tafakkur in God. But if you wish to view His grandeur, observe the great of His creations." [10]

Apparently, this riwayah also seems to forbid probing into the reality of the Essence, for the tradition adds that if someone wants to perceive the glory of the Almighty he should infer it from the grandeur of His creation. This kind of parabolic approach is intended for various types of persons whose knowledge of God is derived through the means of the creation.

This and other such traditions which appear to forbid discourse and contemplation on God by themselves support our claim, which is expressly confirmed by the following tradition of al-Kafi on contemplation:

The most superior form of worship is perpetual contemplation on God and His Power. [11]

Accordingly, contemplation on God for positing His Essence and contemplating His Power, His Names and Attributes is not only not prohibited, but is the most superior kind of worship. Another tradition of al-Kafi states:

`Ali (A) ibn al-Husayn (A) was questioned about tawhid; he answered "Verily, God Almighty knew that during the Last Age there would be a people of profound thinking. Hence the Almighty revealed (Surat al-Tawhid) and the verses of the Surat al-Hadid upto `And God is the Knower of all that is in the hearts'. So whosoever goes beyond that will perish." [12]

This shows that these verses about tawhid and tanzih, the verses about the emergence and the return of the creation mentioned therein, are for those who contemplate profoundly. Can then anyone still claim that contemplating on God Almighty is prohibited? What `arif and hakim has brought anything that goes beyond the commencing verses of the Surat al-Hadid? The ultimate of their achievement is that 'All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Allah'.-'Is ` there any better way of describing God Almighty and the aspects of His Sacred Essence than the verse:

He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward, and He is the Knower of all things. (57:3)

By the Life of the Beloved, had there been nothing besides this verse in the Glorious Book of God, it would have been sufficient for the men of heart!

If one were to consider the Book of God and the sermons and the traditions of the Holy Prophet (S) and his infallible vicegerents (A), one shall notice that no `arif or hakim has said anything on any of the conceivable sub-issues of the Divine teachings that goes beyond these; all their statements are replete with the description (tawsif) of the Almighty and full of arguments about His sacred Essence and Attributes, so that every class of scholars benefits from them according to the capacity of its comprehension.

Then all of these traditions show that contemplating and meditating on the Essence is forbidden on a certain level, which is to probe into the inmost mysteries (kunh) of the Essence and Its Quality (kayfiyyah), as stated in this tradition of al-Kafi:

Whosoever contemplates in God to see how He is, perishes. [13]

Moreover, the traditions forbidding contemplation and those enjoining it, when reconciled, give the conclusion(deduction)  that a group of people who do not possess the strength of giving ear to philosophical arguments (burhan), having no capacity of entering into such discussions, are forbidden from doing so, and there are indications in the riwayat which testify to this. But as for those who have an aptitude for it, it is not only proper but is the highest form of worship. In any case, we have digressed completely from our proposed theme, but there was no way we could avoid examining those degenerate views and the kind of calumnies, displeasing to God, which have acquired circulation during recent times on tongues, with the hope that it will make some effect on some hearts, and if one person were to accept this it would be sufficient for me. And praise is God's and to Him do we complain.

Contemplation on Creation:

Another level of contemplation is reflecting on the subtleties of creation, its perfection and refinement, to the extent that it is in human power. Such contemplation leads to the intellection of its Perfect Source, its Wise Maker, and is a process which is the reverse of the burhan al siddiqin; for, in the latter, the point of departure is the station of God Almighty, glorious is His Name, wherefrom is d the knowledge of the manifestations of His Sovereignty (wilayah). Here, however, the point of departure is creation, whereafter is d the knowledge of its Source and Maker. This proof (burhan) is for ordinary people, who do not partake of the burhan al-siddiqin. Therefore, perhaps, many of them would negate that the contemplation of God can bring the knowledge of Him and that the knowledge of the Origin can lead to the knowledge of the creation.

Hence, the contemplation of the subtleties and the marvels of creation and the firmness and finesse of the system of creation belongs to the category of lucrative knowledge; it is the most meritorious of the actions of the heart and superior to all worships, since its result is the noblest of all results. Although in all forms of devotional rites (`ibadat) the main aim and the real secret is the acquisition of transcendental knowledge (ma'arif), yet the likes of us find no access to such secrets and such results. They are for their own people, to whom every devotional rite is like a grain of one or several revelations.

In any case, man has not been able to the real knowledge of the subtleties and secrets of creation. So subtle are its foundations and so firm its design, so beautiful and perfectly planned is its system that if we consider any creature, however insignificant and humble it should appear to be, with all the scientific development  during centuries of studies man has been unable to discover even one of its thousand secrets, let alone the majesty of the cosmic system of creation whose intricacies and mysteries are beyond the reaches of our vision and inaccessible to our imperfect, limited ideas. Now we shall draw your attention to one of the subtleties of creation which is relatively near to understanding and comprehension and is considered to lie in the realm of the sensible.

The Earth and the Sun: Two Masterpieces of Creation

My dear, observe and reflect on the relationship between the earth and the sun, the fixed(stationary) distance and the suitable speed(gallop) with which the earth spins on its axis and revolves in its orbit around the sun, causing day and night and the seasons. What a perfection of creative skill and what a work of immaculate wisdom it is that had it been not exactly so - that is had the earth been a little away or nearer to the sun - there would not have been any vegetation and animal life, on account of chilling cold due to the former and excessive heat due to the latter. And, similarly, had the earth remained static(motionless), there would not have been any days and nights and seasons either, and the earth would have been without any trace of life despite possessing everything else to support life. Yet He did not suffice at this; He made its north furthest from the sun (in the northern hemisphere), so as to ensure that excessive heat does no harm to the creatures; the point nearest to the sun was situated towards the south, so that coldness should not harm the inhabitants of the earth. This was also not enough; the moon, which also influences the earth's creatures, was assigned a different course than the earth, in such a way that when the sun is the northern region of the earth, the moon appears in the southern, and vice versa. This was for the sake of the utmost benefit of their positions relative to the earth. These are principally sensible phenomena, yet to encompass their subtleties and secrets is not possible for anybody but their omnipotent Creator.

Why should we go so far ? If one contemplates his own creation, according to the scope of his knowledge and capability, beginning with the external senses he will see that they have been contrived according to the kind of sensations and sense perceptions they receive. For every group of sensible objects a separate faculty of perception has been created, and that too with what astounding propriety and skill! And for matters of a supra-sensible nature, which cannot be perceived through the outward senses, internal senses have been fashioned to perceive them. Let alone the knowledge of the soul and its spiritual faculties, which the human intellect cannot comprehend, and contemplate upon the human body, its anatomy, its physical constitution and the functioning of each and every external and internal organ. See what a wonderful(fantastic) system and what a striking(imposing) order they constitute! In spite of a hundred centuries of scientific study, man has not been able to understand a thousandth fraction of it, and all the scientists declare their inability in this regard in unambiguous terms, although this body of man is no more than an insignificant speck in comparison to other creatures on the earth's crust, and the earth with all its inhabitants is of little significance as compared with the solar system and our complete solar system is of no consequence when compared with other solar systems and galaxies; and all these macro and micro systems are parts of a disciplined and orderly system, no speck of which can be found faulty by anyone and all the human intellects are unable to understand even a single secret of its myriad recondite subtleties and secrets.

Does your intellect still need something more after this reflection to believe that an Omniscient, Omnipotent and All-Wise Being, who does not resemble any other being in anything, has created all these creatures with their firm orderliness and subtlety?

....Can there be any doubt concerning God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth?...(14:10)

All this orderly and systematic(scientifically) artistry, whose general laws no human mind can comprehend, has not come into existence by itself and spontaneously. Blind be the inner eye that fails to perceive the Truth and cannot observe its beauty in these creatures! Perish the man who is skeptical and doubtful despite seeing all these effects and signs! But, what else can helpless man, captivated by fantasies, do? If you take out your rosary and claim that its beads got assembled on the thread by themselves, without anybody arranging them, everyone will laugh at your intelligence. You will invite a calamity if you take out your pocket watch and make similar claims about it; if you do such a thing will you not have stuck off your name from the list of the sane and wouldn't all the sane people of the world consider you a lunatic? If one who considers this primitive and small mechanical system to originate without a cause and as being outside causality is considered insane(unbalanced) and is likely to be stripped of all the rights belonging to men of reason, what is to be done with the person who claims not the whole cosmic system but even man and the complex system of his body and soul alone to have come into existence by itself? Is he still to be reckoned among men of reason? What fool is more stupid(dense)  than such a man?

Perish man! What has made him an unbeliever? (80:17)

Death to him whom knowledge cannot revive and who is drowned in the sea of his own error

Contemplation on the States of the Soul:

One of the levels of contemplation is meditation on the states of the soul, which is of immense benefit being the source of vast(massive) transcendental knowledge. Here we intend to discuss two benefits: one is the knowledge of the Day of Resurrection, and the other is the knowledge of (the necessity of) prophethood and revealed scriptures - that is, of general prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-`ammah) and systems of Divine Law (sharayi' haqqah). One of the issues pertaining to the soul is its state of independence (from the body), a problem which has been given more significance than any other philosophical issue by all the eminent hukama about which they have given numerous proofs and explanations. Here we are not in a position to offer an elaborate proof of this. We shall confine ourselves to mentioning some simple preliminaries and then return to our subject.

All the physicians, scientists and anatomists unanimously agree that all the human organs, from the piamater - which is the centre of sense perceptions and the stage for the manifestation of all psychic faculties - to the coarser parts and organs of the body, weaken, deteriorate and decline after the age of thirty or thirty-five years. We ourselves have experienced how weakness and sluggishness overtake all the organs of the body after that age. However, at the same time, that is at the age of thirty and forty and after that, the spiritual faculties and intellectual perceptions become more refined and gain in growth and strength. This implies that the rational faculties are not physically based, for had they been corporeal like other physical faculties, they would also have declined. It is not right to imagine that it is the extent of intellectual activity as well as experience which strengthen the intellectual faculties, because all the physical faculties weaken and decline despite prolonged use and do not grow in strength and perfection. This proves that the intellectual faculty is not physically rooted.

It is also improper to say that the faculty of intellect also declines with age, because, firstly, none of the physical faculties grows strong till middle age, so that it may be said that a certain organ of the body has been the centre of intellectual perception that grows in strength till middle age and then becomes weaker, thus rendering weak the faculty of intellect as well.

Secondly, the weakness which continues into middle age is associated with rational thought, which is either a faculty present in the body or is dependent on the physical faculties. The purely intellectual and higher faculties continue to become stronger than ever before during middle age, although their expression and outward manifestation may be lesser. In short, the strength of the faculty of intellectual perception at the age of forty or fifty years is enough for proving our contention.

Moreover, every such faculty which is nearer to the physical and corporeal domain is inclined to deteriorate and decay more rapidly, and that which is more removed from it weakens more latterly. But the powers belonging to the world of the transcendent and the celestial become stronger and their vitality increases. This proves that the soul is not corporeal and physical in nature. Since the properties, effects and activities of the soul are opposed to the properties, effects and activities of the purely corporeal organs, it proves that the soul is not corporeal in nature. For instance, through prior knowledge we know that a body does not accept more than one form. If it is to receive another form, it will have to part with the form it earlier had. For example, if a picture is drawn on a paper, another picture cannot be painted on that page as long as the first picture is not erased completely. This principle is applicable to all bodies; but for the soul, while one form is impressed on it, other totally different forms can also be stamped on it without the first form being wiped out. Every corporeal body can receive only finite forms, whereas the soul can receive infinite forms, and it is for this reason that it can posit infinity. Also, every corporeal body, if it loses one form, that form cannot be restored to it without a renewed cause; but in the case of the soul, any form, after having left it, may return to it without any resumption of the cause. This shows that the soul is opposed to all corporeal bodies regarding properties, effects and action. Hence it has a non-corporeal existence of its own and does not belong to the category of bodies and physical objects.

Anything that is non-corporeal is not subject to decay - as has been demonstrated in its own place - because decay cannot occur without matter, and the non-corporeal is independent of matter. Matter is the precondition of corporeal bodies; therefore, decay is not possible for the soul. Hence we come to the conclusion that the soul does not weaken and decay or is destroyed with the weakening, decay or destruction of the body, or after separating from it. It remains in another world and there is no death and extinction for it; this is a spiritual resurrection for the souls, prior to the Day of Resurrection, when they are united with the bodies by the will of God.

Now we reach the point of absolute affirmation of Resurrection, and stand opposed to those who negate it absolutely. From these preliminaries it should be clear that there is health and disease, reform and corruption, knowledge and wretchedness for souls, and to discover their source and to know the secrets of their corruption and welfare is not possible for anyone except the Holy Essence of the Almighty. In the perfect system of the cosmos, which is the best of possible systems ordered by the Absolutely Wise and the Omniscient, it is impossible that there should be any negligence regarding the education of mankind as to the ways of its felicity and wretchedness, its guidance towards the causes of spiritual soundness and corruption, and the prescription of remedies for curing the soul. This is because such a negligence would imply a defect either in God's knowledge or His power, either His generosity or His justice, whereas it is known that His Holy Being is free from all these defects. He is absolutely perfect and absolutely generous. Any neglect providing guidance pointing out the paths of knowledge and wretchedness will imply a great defect in Divine wisdom, which would lead to cosmic disorder and chaos. Therefore, the perfect system necessitates the declaration of the paths of felicity and the road to guidance. This explanation leads to two clear conclusions.

One is that the Shari'ah is the prescription for spiritual maladies and is known to none except the Sacred Being of the Almighty. The other is that it is necessary for God to bring it to the knowledge of man. It is obvious that such a momentous, perfect and precise knowledge, whose apprehension is not possible through the intellectual faculties of men - none of which can grasp either the relationships between tile corporeal and transcendental worlds or the effects of the transcendental forms on the inner depths of the soul - can only be accessible through the agency of wahy or revelation, that is, by means of Divine teaching. It is clear that every human individual is not worthy of this office and does not have the capability of occupying this station and performing this duty. It is only once in several centuries that one such individual is to be found who is worthy of performing this task and who can undertake such a great mission. God Almighty assigns to him the task of expounding the paths of felicity and wretchedness to humanity, to make them aware of that wherein lies their welfare. This is general prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-`ammah). Now that we have arrived at this point in our discussion, we may explain a further point which should be considered as one of self-evident truths.

A Conclusive Proof:

Now that we know that there should necessarily be a Shari'ah laid down by the Divine Lawgiver for mankind, when we turn to theshari'ahs prevailing amongst mankind we see that there are three principal ones: the shari'ah of Jews, the shari'ah of Christians, and the shari'ah of Islam. We find that in all the three essential foundations which constitute the basis of allshari'ahs (of which the first is concerned with the true doctrines and Divine teachings about God's Attributes and His transcendence, the knowledge of angels and the qualities of the prophets (A) and their infallibility, which are the principal and main component of the shari'ahs; the second is about praiseworthy qualities, purification of the soul and moral excellences; the third is about outward individual and social acts and rites pertaining to political and civic actions and their like), the Islamic shari'ah is more complete than the others. Anyone who tries to judge without prejudice will discover that it is incomparable to the others, and there does not exist any religious law pertaining to all the aspects and stages of life more perfect regarding its worldly and otherworldly aspects than this Law. This is itself the biggest proof in favour of its Divine origin. Accordingly, after affirming the doctrine of universal prophethood and the doctrine that God Almighty has legislated a Divine shari'ah for humanity, showing them the path of guidance and bringing them under the cover of one discipline and system, no preliminaries are required for proving the truthfulness of the Islamic Din except for examining it and comparing it with other religious laws on every conceivable level of human need - from righteous qualities and spiritual learning to individual and social responsibilities. And this is the meaning of the following sacred tradition:

Islam surpasses (every creed) and is not surpassed(unsurpassed) (by anything).

This is because the more the intellects of men progress and the more they gain in understanding, they bow their heads in front of its light of guidance when they consider its proofs (hujaj) and arguments (barahin), and no hujjah in the world can refute them.

The result of our arguments relating to the positing of the prophetic mission of the Seal of Prophethood (S) is that in the same way as the creative perfection manifest in the creation of the cosmos and its perfect arrangement and order directs us towards the intellection of a Being who has ordered it and whose omniscience encompasses all its particulars, subtleties and grandeurs, the perfection of the Shari'ah - whose perfect order and methodical finesse is capable of guaranteeing all the material and spiritual, this-worldly and otherworldly, collective and individual needs - guides us to the fact that the system of this shari`ah has been ordered by a knowledge which encircles all the needs of the human species. And since our intellects tell us that the intellectual faculties of a man whose biography has been written by all the historians of religion and who was an unlettered person brought up(reared) in a society devoid of all higher knowledge and virtues, could not have produced such a perfect and systematic shari'ah. Hence, of necessity, we have to acknowledge that this Shari'ah has a metaphysical and transcendental source, and reached that glorious personage (S) by means of Divine revelation and wahy. And praise is God's for the clarity of proofs.

We had intended to describe another stage of contemplation -the contemplation on this world, and zuhd is its fruit - but since this pen broke its reins in the earlier stages of this discourse making it somewhat lengthier than intended, we shall refrain from going into it.

[1]. Usul al-Kafi (Akhundi, ed. by 'Ali' Akbar Ghaffiri), II, 54.

[2]. Manazil al-sa'irin, I, 57.

[3]. Usul al-Kafi, II, 55.

[4]. Ibid., II, 50.

[5]. Al-Mahajjat al-bayda ; VIII, 193

[6]. Al- Isharat wa al-tanbihat (Tehran: Haydari), III, 419.

[7]. Al- Asfar al-'arba'ah (Dar al-Ma'arif al-'Islamiyyah ), I, 10.

[8]. Usul al-Kafi, I, 92, hadith 1.

[9]. Ibid.

[10]. Ibid., I, 93, hadith 7.

[11]. Ibid., II, 55, hadith 6.

[12]. Ibid., I, 91, hadith 3.

[13]. Ibid., I, 93, hadith 5.

 

The Virtues of the Midnight Prayer:

Now remains the exposition of these two phrases of the hadith: In this blessed pronouncement, the Commander of the Faithful, al-'Imam `Ali (A), has placed the actions of the heart, contemplative awareness, and the taqwa of God by the side of night vigils and keeping aloof from the bed for the sake of worship. This proves the distinction and merit it commands, and the practice has been greatly glorified in the traditions. The biographies of the Imams of guidance (A), and those of great sages and eminent scholars, indicate that they not only assiduously observed it, but attached great importance to the practice of staying awake until the late hours of night, aside from the aim of worship.

There are forty-one ahadith recorded in Wasai'l al-Shi`ah (the greatest of Shi'i books, which is the pivot of the Shi'i legal school and the source book of Shi'i scholars and fuqaha') about the benefits and merits of observing this practice, and there are several ahadith about the undesirability of giving up this habit. There are, of course countless of similar traditions in the books of supplications and prayers, but we shall quote only a few in the following, as a token of barakah and blessing:

It is reported in al-Kafi from Mu'awiyah ibn 'Amman who said that he heard al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) say: "In the wasiyyahaddressed to 'Ali (A) by the Prophet (S), he (S) said: 'O 'Ali, I enjoin you regarding certain habits that you must safeguard.' Then the Prophet (S) prayed, 'O God, succour him.' Then (continuing his advice) he said: 'Observe the midnight prayer. Observe the midnight prayer. Observe the midnight prayer. [14]

Its great significance may be understood from the entire tradition:

In al-Khisal, Abu 'Abd Allah (A) is reported to have said: "The Prophet (S) asked Jibra'il to exhort him about something. Jibra'il said: 'O Muhammad! Live you as you wish, for verily you will die one day. And love whatever you like, for verily you will have to part from it. Act as you wish, for verily you will have to face it. Know that the distinction of a believer lies in his establishing thenight vigil and his nobleness lies in refraining from (maligning) the people's honour. [15]

The high degree of its significance can be understood from Jibrail's especially recommending it to the Messenger of God (S); for had Jibra'il (A) deemed anything else as more important, he would have mentioned it while giving advice.

It is reported in al-Majalis on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that the Prophet (S) sad in a hadith: "When God Almighty appoints the night vigil as sustenance for His slave, man or woman, when he/she wakes up at night with sincere devotion towards God, performs a full ablution, and says prayer for the Almighty God with the purity of intention, with whole heartedness and with tearful eyes, God Almighty appoints seven rows of angels (to pray) behind him/ her. No one except God can count their number on each side of each row, which extends from the east to the west. When he concludes the prayer, God Almighty writes grades for him equal to their number." [16]

In 'Ilal al-shara'i, it is reported from Anas that he heard the Messenger of God say: "Two rak'ah of prayer performed in the middle of night are dearer to me than the entire world and everything therein." [17]

In a number of ahadith it has been reported that the midnight prayer is the mu'min's honour and dignity, and his adornment in the Hereafter, in the same way as children and wealth are the adornments of this world.

In `Ilal al-shara'i, Jabir is reported to have heard the Prophet (S) say: "God did not befriend Ibrahim (A) except for his feeding people and offering prayers by night while the people were fast asleep." [18]

Had there been no other merit besides(alongside) this for the midnight prayer, it would have been enough - but for those alone who deserve to practise it, not the likes of me. We do not know what honour and distinction it is and what it means to possess the station of being befriended by God. All intellects fail to comprehend it. If all the adornments of Paradise were displayed before his eyes, such a man would not even glance at them. You also, had you a beloved dear to your heart, or a very dear friend, were he to be present in front of you, it will cause you to neglect all the good and delicious things, absorbing your attention entirely with the vision of the beloved and the radiance of the countenance of the dear one, though this similitude is out of proportion for describing this condition, to the extent that the east is far from the west.

From 'Ali ibn Ibrahim who, with his chain(series) of narrators, reports from al 'Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said: "For every good deed that a slave of God performs, the reward for it is specified in the Quran, except for the midnight prayer, which commands an unusually high reward on account of its great worth. (God says in the Quran): Their sides shun their beds as they call on their Lord in fear and hope; and they expend of what We have provided them. No soul knows what delight is laid up for them secretly, as a recompense for that they were doing (32:16,17)." [19]

What can be the delight that God Almighty has kept in store for them, concealing it from the eyes of all? Had it been something similar to the flowing streams, the magnificent mansions, and the diverse bounties of Paradise, He would have described it - as in the case of other deeds, of which (at least) the angels are aware. This shows that this reward is above all these and of a different kind; its greatness stands beyond that which can be communicated to anyone, especially the inhabitants of this lowly world. Do not liken the bounties of this world to those of the other. Do not imagine that the Paradise and the gardens therein are similar to the gardens of this world, only somewhat vaster and of a greater degree of grandeur. There is the abode of Divine beneficence and the house of the hospitality of the Lord. The entire world is not comparable in grandeur to a single hair of a houri of Paradise. Rather it is not comparable even to a thread of the garments made for its inhabitants.

Despite all this, God Almighty has named none of these as reward for the performers of the midnight prayer, and has only referred to the high station of theirs in the words of the above verse. But, alas, we are indolent, being not men of certitude. Otherwise, it would not have been possible for us to be neglectful to such a degree and to be so drowned in deep sleep till morning. If the night vigils were to make man aware of the mysteries of salat, were he to preoccupy his mind with the remembrance and contemplation of the Lord, and were his nights to become mounts of ascent into the Divine Proximity, his reward would be nothing other than the vision of the Absolute Beauty.

And woe to us, the negligent who do not wake up from slumber till the end of life and remain under the intoxication of nature! Woe to us, whom every day increases in stupefaction! Woe to us, who live(survive) on the animal plane, comprehending nothing but eating, drinking(beer) and lovemaking! Whatever we do, even if it is worship, that too is merely meant for catering to the needs of the belly and the underneath. Do you imagine that the salat of Khalil al-Rahman, the Friend of the Beneficent (Ibrahim), was similar to that of ours? He did not speak of his wishes even to Jibra'il - and we? We do not hesitate to beg even Satan (if we believe him to be mighty enough to grant our prayers) to fulfil our desires!

Yet there is no need to lose hope. It is possible that after a period of performing the night vigil and habituating ourselves to it God Almighty may gradually help you and cover you, with an invisible gesture of grace, with the robe of His mercy. But, on the whole, do not be oblivious of the mysteries of worship, and do not devote yourself merely to the outward refinements of Qur'anic recitings. If you cannot perform it with a sincerity of intention, strive at least for the delight that God Almighty has kept hidden from all the sights. And remember in your prayers, should it be your wish, this rebellious and beastly sinner who has forgone all higher stations to remain content to thrive on the animal plane. And chant with full attention and sincerity of intention this prayer:

My God, I implore Thee to rescue me from the house of illusion and this abode of delirium, and help me to return to the abode of eternity. Grant me the ability(talent) and preparedness to die before such an opportunity is lost. [20]

What is Taqwa?

This should be known that taqwa (derived from wiqayah, defence) is a kind of defence and shielding. In common speech, as well as in the vocabulary of traditions, it means to restrain or bridle oneself from violating Divine commands (awamir andnawahi) and from going against what is pleasing to God. It is usually used for efficacious guarding of the soul and total control of it from falling into illegal and illegitimate acts, by refraining from all that is suspect (i.e. not known to be permissible for certain):

Whosoever pursues dubious things, spills into forbidden things (muharramat) and is destroyed on account of his ignorance, such as an animal that grazes around a mire(marsh) is liable to soon get entrapped in it. [21]

This should be known that although mere taqwa does not by itself constitute the higher stages of perfection and spiritual accomplishment, but reaching a high station is also not possible without it; for as long as the soul is smeared with commission of prohibited deeds, one cannot enter the door of humanity and cannot be a wayfarer of its path. As long as man remains obedient to his carnal wishes and sensual pleasures and their sweetness hangs in his mouth, he cannot even reach the preliminary grades of human perfection. As long as he cherishes the love of the world in his heart and has the fondness: for mundane things, he cannot reach the station of even those who are halfway on the road (mutawassitun) and the zuhhad.And as long as self-love lies embedded in his essence, he will not reach the station of the sincere (mukhlisun) and the lovers of God. Until the love for the pluralities of the world (mulk) and the Hereafter (malakut) is evident in his heart, he will not reach the high station of the majdhubun (those immersed in the Divine and detached from all worldly attachments). And until the plurality of the Names is manifest within the core(interior) of his essence, he cannot attain total annihilation (fana). As long as his heart is turned towards the spiritual station, he has not attained the station of complete extinction. And until his essence is prone to take up different colours (talwin), he has not reached the station of stable endurance, and the Essence; as the referent of the Name of the Essence, will not cast Its eternal and everlasting radiance into his heart. Thus, for ordinary mentaqwa is with respect to the forbidden things; for the elect it is vis-a-vis sensual pleasures; for the ascetics it is in relation to the world, for the sincere it is in relation to the love of the self; and for the majdhubun it is in relation to the plurality of Act; for the faniyun (those who have annihilated themselves in the Essence) it is in relation to the plurality of the Names; for, thewasdun (those who have reached the Essence) taqwa is in relation to absorption in the annihilation; and for the mutamakkinun it is in regard to inner instabilities (talwinat), and hence the Quran enjoins:

So be as steadfast as thou art commanded. (11: 112)

There is much that can be said for each one of these stations, the description of which would not lead the likes of us anywhere except into confusion and bafflement over terms, blind as we are to the meanings concealed by the veils of concepts, and there are a people who befit every field. Now we shall turn our attention to taqwa in its elementary form, which is more significant for mankind.

Taqwa for the Common People:

Remember, my dear, that in the same way as there is health and sickness for the human body and remedies and cures for correcting it, there is also health and disease and remedies and cures for the human soul as well. Its health and well-being is observance of moderation, it lies in treading the human path, and sickness and affliction is the result of deviating from the right path of humanity. The spiritual maladies and diseases are a thousand times more significant than the physical maladies; for at the most the latter ultimately lead to death. As soon as death approaches and the soul leaves the body, all physical maladies and corporeal defects and infirmities disappear for one, and one does not feel any bodily pain and affliction any more.

But if, God forbid, one is afflicted with spiritual maladies and diseases of the soul, the time of death is withdrawal of the soul's attention from the body and its redirection towards the domain of the spirit: that is the beginning of the experience of these sicknesses and afflictions. The similitude of attention toward the world and its attachments is like the narcotics which makes its addict oblivious of himself. The breaking of the soul's bonds with the realm of the physical world makes the soul gain self-consciousness. As soon as it becomes self-conscious, all the pains, diseases and indispositions that lie latent within the depths of the essence, now overwhelm it and each and every thing that remained invisible until that time, like fire smouldering under ashes, becomes evident. Those diseases and maladies either cannot be driven away and adhere firmly to one, or if they are remediable, it is only after being subjected to tortures, pains, fire and burning for thousands of years that they can be wiped away: `the last cure is cauterization.' God Almighty says:

...It will be heated in the fire of hell, and their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded therewith. (9:35)

The apostles of God are similar to kind physicians who out of great concern for treating illnesses prescribe different remedies in accordance with the severity of the disease. They have strived to guide mankind on the right path of genuine guidance (We are God-trained physicians). The effect of the spiritual deeds and actions of the heart, as well as the external deeds and actions of the body, is similar to that of a medicine. In the same way, the effect of taqwa, on each of its levels, is similar to abstaining from those things that aggravate the disease. Unless the sick man does not abstain from harmful things, it is not possible that his malady be replaced by well-being and the prescribed remedy be effectual. During physical illness, sometimes, despite a little intemperance, medicine and nature do their work and one may regain his health and well-being; for nature itself is a protector of health and medicine acts as its assistant. But the matter is more serious in the case of spiritual maladies, as here the nature dominates the apparition(spirit) from the very beginning. and the spiritual side heads towards corruption and decline:

Verily, it is the self which incites to evil (12:53)

Accordingly, the disease overwhelms it on the slightest indulgence and intemperance, making inroads and destroying its health and vigour completely. Therefore, anyone who is concerned with his spiritual soundness, will try to improve his condition after finding the ways of getting rid of painful chastisement. His well-being rests upon two things: one is to adopt those things which bring spiritual health, and the other is to abstain from things which bring spiritual harm and affliction.

It should be remembered that the spiritual harm inflicted by the forbidden things is greater than all other vices, and it is for this very reason that they have been forbidden. And to perform the obligatory and incumbent duties is also most necessary, and it is for this reason that they have been made obligatory and given priority over all other things. These have been considered as the foremost and the most essential steps in the direction of spiritual advancement.

Treading the path of felicity and reaching the highest human grades and stations depends upon having traversed these two stages. Anyone who observes them s felicity and salvation. Of these two, taqwa, or abstinence from muharramat, is the more significant. The mystics and the wayfarers have also considered it more significant than the other step. A study of the traditions (of the Prophet [S] and the Imams [A]) and the sermons of the Nahj al-balaghah further confirms this that the Infallible Ones (A) also laid great emphasis on this step.

Therefore, O dear, consider the first stage to be of utmost importance and be greatly heedful and attentive regarding these matters. If the first step is taken rightly and this foundation is laid solidly, there is hope of reaching the other stations; otherwise it is impossible to attain the higher stations and very difficult and painstaking to obtain salvation. Our precious Shaykh used to enjoin us to attend constantly to the following verses of the Surat al-Hashr:

O ye who believe! Observe your duty (taqwa) to God. And let every soul look to that which it sendeth on before for the morrow. And observe your duty (taqwa) to God! Verily, God is informed of what ye do. And be not ye as those who forgot God, and He caused them to forget their souls. Such are the evildoers. Not equal are the people of the Fire and the people of the Garden. The people of the Garden, they are the victorious. If We had caused the Quran to descent upon the mountain, thou (O Muhammad) verily hadest seen it humbled, rent asunder by the fear of God. Such similitudes coin We for mankind that haply they may reflect. He is God, than Whom there is no other god, the Knower of the invisible and the visible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is God, than Whom there is no other god, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be God from all that they ascribe as partners (unto Him)! He is God, the Creator, the Shaper out of naught, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.(59:18-24)

Our Shaykh would ask us to recite these verses after daily prayers and to contemplate over their meaning, especially in the late hours of night when the heart is relaxed, stating that it is very effective for curing the soul and for holding the mischief of the self and Satan at bay. He would recommend us to be with ablution (wudu') all the time, for, he would say, it is like a warrior's armour.

In any case, beseech and entreat God Almighty with supplications and tears to succour you and assist you during this trial and to help you in acquiring the faculty of taqwa. Remember that in the beginning it will appear to be a little hard, but after strict observance of a few days discomfort will change into reassurance

and hardship into leisure and tranquillity; rather, it will give you a unique spiritual joy, which those who have tasted value higher than all other enjoyments.

God willing, after strict vigilance and total taqwa, you will progress towards the station of taqwa attained by the elect, which istaqwa against sensual pleasures. When you taste the sweetness of spiritual enjoyment, you will gradually turn away from physical pleasures and try to evade them. Traversing the path will become easier for you and you will not attach any value to transitory physical enjoyments; rather, you will abhor them. The worldly treasures will appear ugly and coarse(unfarmed) to your eyes.

In this state of consciousness, you will realize that each one of the worldly pleasures leaves its trace on the soul, a black blot on the heart: it intensifies the love for this world, which itself causes one to cling to this place, and, at the time of the wrenching(yanking) away of the soul from the body, takes the form of the agony of death and its distresses and squeezes. Mainly(principally), the anguish and agony of death and its severity are the result of these pleasures and these attachments to the corporeal world, as said earlier. As soon as man gains consciousness of this fact, all the physical pleasures lose their significance in his eyes.

He becomes abhorant towards the world, its treasures and adornments. This itself is another success, whence the wayfarer advances towards the third grade of taqwa. Thereupon, treading the Path of God becomes easier for him and the road to humanness becomes illuminated and spacious. Every step that he takes carries him further on the way of Truth.

His exercises assume sacred validity. He becomes averse to the self, its ways and its demands. He senses within his being the love of God and he is no more satisfied now with the promises of Paradise and the palaces and the houris thereof. He yearns for a higher ideal and end hating his (earlier) self-seeking and self-love. His taqwa is now directed against self love and he becomes muttaqi in regard to his own self-indulgence. This is a high and lofty attainment and the first step in the direction of sensing the fragrance of wilayah. God Almighty specifies a seat for him under the shelter of His grace and succours him with His special favours.

The matters that the wayfarer on the Divine path experiences after this are beyond the ken of expression. And praise belongs to God, in the beginning and the end, outwardly and inwardly, and may His benedictions be upon Muhammad and the pure of his progeny.

[14]. Al-Kulayni, Rawdat al-Kafi, p.162; al-Hurr al-'Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, V, 268; al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Man la yahduruhu al-faqih.I, 484; al-Kulayni, Furu al al-Kafi, I, 73.

[15]. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Thawab al-'a'mal, p.63, hadith 41; Man la yahduruhu al-faqih, I, 471,

[16]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, V, 275.

[17]. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, 'Ilal al-shara'i, p.138.

[18]. Ibid., p.23; Wasa'il al Shi'ah, V, 276.

[19]. 'Ilal al-shara'i, p.23; Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, V, 276.

[20]. Shaykh 'Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al jinan.

[21]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah.


   

 

 


...Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni): from a group of our teachers, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid, from more than one transmitter, from 'Ali ibn Asbat, from Ahmad ibn 'Umar al-Hallal, from 'Ali ibn Suwayd, from Abu al-Hasan al-'Awwal (A). 'Ali ibn Suwayd says: "I asked him concerning the utterance of God Almighty, 'And whoever puts his trust in God, then God suffices him' (65:3). The Imam (A) said: 'There are various degrees of trust in God. Of them one is that you should put your trust in God in all your affairs, being well-pleased with whatever God does to you, knowing for certain that he does not cease in His goodness and grace towards you, and that the command therein rests with Him. So put your trust in God, leaving that to Him and relying upon Him in regard to that and everything other than that."' [1]

Exposition:

Halal, with a shaddah on the lam, means the seller of hill, oil. Abu al-Hasan al-'Awwal is al-'Imam al-Kazim (A), and it is he who is meant (in traditions) when just `Abu al-Hasan' is mentioned. Abu al-Hasan al-Thani is al-'Imam al-Rida (A) and Abu al-Hasan al-Thalith is al-'Imam al-Hadi (the Tenth Imam). Tawakkul literally mean, admission of one's inability and reliance on one other than oneself. means, as the lexicographers `I relied upon him in' a certain matter', the word originally being, which means considering someone sufficient. derived from and meaning `to fail', `to neglect', `to refrain'. In the transitive form, some have said, when it requires two maf'ul, the sense of preventing and depriving (man`) is assured ....

Tawakkul, is something other than tafwid; and the two are different from rida and wuthuq, as will be explained later on. We will now explain this noble tradition in a number of sections:

Tawakkul and its Degrees:

Know, that closely related meanings have been ascribed to tawakkul by the various definitions proposed by different schools, each according to its own approach. The author of Manazil al-sai'rin says:

Tawakkul means entrusting all the matters to their Master and relying upon His trusteeship. [2]

Some `urafa' have said:

Tawakkul means throwing the body down (as in prostration) in servitude (to God) and attaching the heart to (His) Lordship.

That is, it means using one's bodily powers in obedience to God and refraining from interfering in the matters (of the heart) and consigning it to the Lord. Some others have said:

Tawakkul upon God means the severance by the servant of all hopes and expectations from the creatures (and attaching, them to God).

The meanings mentioned are. closely related arid there is no need to delve further on the meaning of the word. However, that which should be mentioned is that tawakkul has various degrees in accordance with the stations of the devotees. Since the knowledge of these degrees of tawakkul depends on the knowledge of the various degrees of the devotee's knowledge of their Lord, the Almighty and the Glorious, we cannot avoid discussing them here.

Let it be known to you that one of the esoteric principles of the wayfarers of the Path, without which no progress is possible, is the knowledge of God's Lordship and Mastership and the quality of the sway of the Holy Essence over all affairs. We shall not discuss the theoretical aspect of this issue, for it calls for an examination of questions related to free will and predestination, which is not suitable(apt) for these pages. Here, we will only mention the different degrees of the people's knowledge of it.

People are very different in regard to the knowledge of the Lordship of the Sacred Essence .of God. The commoners among the monotheists consider God Almighty the Creator of the general essences of things and their elements and substances; but they do not believe in the all-embracing Lordship of God, and consider His authority over things as limited. As a matter of verbal habit they may often declare that God decrees all matters and has power over all things, that nothing can come into existence without His sacred Will. Yet, their actual station is not at a par with their verbal profession, neither in respect of knowledge, nor faith, neither experience nor conviction. This class of people, to which we also belong, have no knowledge of God's Lordship; their faith in tawhid is deficient and the sovereignty of the Lord is concealed from their sight by the veils of apparent causation. Hence they do not occupy the station of tawakkul, which is our concern here, except on the level of mere verbal claim. Accordingly, they do not rely in their worldly affairs on anything except the superficial causes and material factors. If sometimes they turn their attention to God and beseech something of Him, that is either on account of imitation or for reasons of caution; since not only they see no harm in it but allow a possibility of benefit. Thus there is a scent of tawakkulin them, although whenever they deem the apparent causal factors as favourable they totally forget God and His efficacy.

Now that which is staid regarding tawakkul, that it is not opposed to action and effort is quite right and in accordance with reason as well as revelation. But to fail to see God's Lordship and His efficacy and to consider material causes as independent is contrary to tawakkul. Although this kind of people are devoid of tawakkul in respect to their worldly affairs, they make vigorous claims of tawakkul when it comes to the matters of the Hereafter. They justify their sluggishness and neglect in the matters of acquisition of transcendental knowledge, spiritual development and fulfilment of moral and devotional duties by easy professions of reliance on God and tawakkul on His beneficence. With such verbal declarations as `God is great' and `My trust lies in God's beneficence' they hope to attain the stations of the Hereafter. However, in regard to worldly matters, they declare, "Effort and endeavour are not contrary to tawakkul on God and reliance upon His munificence." This is nothing except one of the guiles of the carnal self and the Devil. For this sort has tawakkul on God neither in the matters of the world nor in the affairs of the Hereafter. But since they consider worldly matters as paramount, they put their reliance on material causes, not relying on God and His efficacy. On the other hand, since the affairs of the Hereafter are not important in their eyes and as they have no real faith in the Day of Resurrection and its details, they conjure up pretexts to conceal their neglect. Hence they say, `God is great', and they declare trust in God and faith in the intercession of the Intercessors, although such professions are nothing but desolate(barren) verbiage and meaningless oscillations of the tongue.

There is another class of people, who, having been convinced either by reason or revelation, affirm that God Almighty is the sole determiner of matters, the cause of all causes, efficacious in the realm of being, there being no limit to His power and influence. On the level of rational belief, they have tawakkul in God; that is the complete grounds of tawakkul have been furnished for them by reason and revelation. Hence they consider themselves as mutawakkil and are able to supply rational proofs in justification of tawakkul, having confirmed rational conviction in all the essential preliminaries of tawakkul, which are: God's knowledge of the needs of His creatures; His power and ability to satisfy those needs; His freedom from stinginess; and His Love and mercy for His creatures. On the basis of these, it is necessary to have trust on the Omnicient, Powerful, unniggardly and Merciful Lord, Who takes care to provide whatever is good for His creatures and in their interest, Who does not allow them to remain deprived of what is good for them, even though they themselves should be incapable of distinguishing between that which is beneficial or harmful for them.

This group, although they are mutawakkil on the level of rational knowledge, has not yet attained the stage of faith; they are shaky when confronted with the matters of life. There is a conflict(fight) between their reason and their heart, in which reason is dominated by the heart which has faith in material causes and is blind to God's power and efficacy.

There is a third group in which the conviction in God's sway over creation has penetrated into the heart, which has firm(fight) faith in God's Sovereignty and Mastership over things. The pen of reason has inscribed all the essentials of tawakkul on the tablet of their heart. It is they who possess the station of tawakkul. But the members of this group also differ from one another in regard to the level and degree of faith, whose highest degree is contentment (itminan) at which the most perfect degree of tawakkul appears in their heart. Then, their heart is detached from causation and attached to the Lordship of God, on Whom they rely and in Whom they-are content, in accordance with the words of the mystic who defined tawakkul as "casting the body away in servitude to God and attaching the heart to His Lordship."

That which was mentioned above holds true in the case when the heart still dwells in the stage of plurality (kathrat-e af'ar)otherwise it leaves astern the station of tawakkul to attain to a higher station whose discussion lies outside the scope of this exposition.

Thus, it was seen that tawakkul has various stages and degrees, and perhaps the degree of tawakkul referred to in the hadith is the one pertaining to the second group, for it mentions knowledge as its preliminary condition. Or perhaps it refers to a degree of tawakkul according to some other mode of gradation, for tawakkul is amenable to another kind of gradation, as described in relation with the various stages of wayfaring by the experts of mystics knowledge and spiritual discipline, as a gradual gradation from plurality to unity; for absolute extinction (fana'-e mutlaq-e af`ali) is not attained instantaneously but gradually. In the first stage, the wayfarer observes unity in his own self and then in all other beings. The stations of tawakkul, rida, taslim and all the other stations are attainable gradually. The wayfarer may at first exercise tawakkul in some of his affairs and with respect to hidden and unobservable causes. Then, gradually, his tawakkul becomes general, in that it extends from hidden and inner causes to manifest and observable ones and from his own affairs to that of his relatives and associates. Accordingly, it is stated in the holy tradition that one of the degrees of tawakkul is trust in God in all one's affairs.

The Difference Between Tawakkul and Rida:

Let it be known to you that the station of rida is different from the station of tawakkul, being higher and more luminous. This is because whereas the mutawakkil seeks his own good and benefit and entrust his affairs to God considering Him the provider of good, the radi (one who has attained the station of rida) is one who has annihilated his will in the Divine Will, having no more a separate will of his own. When a mystic was asked, "Matur'id" ? (What is your wish?), he replied, "Urid an la urid " (My wish is not to wish at all). What he meant is the station of rida.

As to the words of the Imam (A) in the hadith, "that you should be well-pleased (radiyan) with whatever God does to you," they do not refer to the station of rida. Hence, he (A) says thereafter, "Know for certain that whatever He does to you, your good and benefit lies therein." It appears that the Imams (A) intended to bring about the station of tawakkul in the listener. For this he mentions certain preliminaries. First, he (A) says, "Know that He does not cease to be good and benign towards you." Then he (A) says, "Know that the authority therein lies with Him." Of course, one who knows that God Almighty has power over everything and that He does not cease to be graceful(elegant) and benign, he would attain to the station of tawakkul, because the two main pillars of tawakkul are the same as stated by the Imam (A); although he (A) does not explicitly state the other two or three pillars. After mentioning the explicit and implicit preliminaries - that whatever God Almighty does is welcome because in it lies one's good and benefit - the preliminaries which guide to the station of tawakkul, he (A) draws the conclusion and says: "Then have tawakkul on God."

Tafwid, Tawakkul and Thiqah:

Know that tafwid is also different from tawakkul, and so also thiqah is different from these two. Hence each of the three has been considered a different station on the wayfarer's path. The Khwajah says: [3]

That is, tafwid is subtler and more refined than tawakkul, for tawfid, means that the devotee should see no power and capacity in himself and that he should consider himself ineffectual and regard God as All-effectual. This is not so in tawakkul, for themutawakkil makes God his own substitute, one in charge of his affairs, for attaining that which is favorable and gainful. Tafwidis wider and tawakkul is a branch of it, because tawakkul is in regard to one's interests and tafwid is in regard to absolutely all the affairs.

Moreover, tawakkul does not occur except after the presence of its cause, that is the matter in regard to which the devotee comes to rely upon God. An example of it is the tawakkul of the Apostle (S) and his Companions in regard to security from the evil of the idolaters, at the time when they were told:

Those unto whom men said, 'Lo! the people have gathered against you, therefore fear them'. But it increased them in faith and they said, 'God is sufficient for us and an excellent trustee is He'.(3:173)

Tafwid, however, is mostly(mainly)  antecedent to its referent cause, as indicated by the supplication narrated from the Apostle of God (S):

My God, I surrender my self to Thee; I seek refuge with Thee, and I hand over my matter to Thee.

At times tafwid is subsequent to the occurrence of its cause, such as in the case. of the tafwid of the believer belonging to the Pharaoh's people (40:44).

The account given above is a condensed translation of the exposition by the famous `arif `Abd al-Razzaq Kashani of the words of the perfect `arif Khwajah `Abd Allah al-'Ansari, and that which the Khwajah says is also substantially the same. However, I have reservations about considering tawakkul to be a branch of tafwid, and there is an obvious lack of rigour in regarding tafwid as being the more general of the two. Also, there is no reason to regard tawakkul as being subsequent to the cause, for tawakkul can be both antecedent as well as subsequent.

As to the words of the holy tradition, possibly, since tawakkul is accompanied by viewing oneself as being in charge of one's affairs - because in tawakkul one makes God one's wakil in an affair that he deems as pertaining to himself - the Imam (A) wished to lift(handle) the questioner from the station of tawakkul to that of tafwid,making him understand that God Almighty is not your substitute and deputy in regard to the charge(assignment) of your affairs; rather, He is the master of His own realm and the Lord of His own kingdom (to which you and your affairs belong). InManazil al-sai'rin, the Khwajah has also pointed out this while discussing the third degree of tawakkul.

And as to thiqah (reliance), it is different from tawakkul and tafwid, as the Khwajah says:

Thiqah is the eye of tawakkul, the (moving) point of the circle of tafwid, and the inmost heart of taslim (surrender). [4]

That is, the three stations cannot be attained without thiqah. Rather thiqah on God Almighty is the soul of those stations, and the devotee cannot attain them without thiqah. This allows us to understand the Imam's allusion to it, after the mention oftawakkul and tafwid, when he says:

[1]. Usul al-Kafi (Akhundi), ii, 391, hadith 3.

[2]. Khwajah 'Abd Allah al-'Ansari, Manazil al-sa'irin.

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. I

 

...Thiqat al-'Islam wa 'Imad at-Muslimin Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni): From a number of our companions, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from 'Ali ibn Hadid, from Mansur ibn Yunus, from al-Harith ibn al-Mughirah or his father, from Abu 'Abd Allah (A) (al-'Imam al-Sadiq). Al-Harith, or his father, says: "I asked him (A), 'What was (mentioned) in the testament of Luqman?' 'There were marvellous things in it', he said, 'and the most wonderful of that which he said to his son was this: "Have such a fear of God Almighty that were you to come to Him with the virtues of the two worlds(thaqalan) He would still chastise you, and put such a hope in God that were you to come to Him with the sins of the two worlds He would still have compassion for you." Then Abu 'Abd Allah (A) added: 'My father used to say, "There is no believer who does not have two lights in his heart: the light of fear and the light of hope. Were one of these to be measured it would not exceed the other, and were the other one to be measured, it would not exceed this one."" [1]

Exposition:

According to al-Jawhari in his al-Sihah, a'ajib is the plural of u`jubah, in the same way as ahadith isthe plural of uhduthah. Some lexicographers state that u'jubah is something amazing(staggering), either on account of its beauty or its ugliness, and the former (i.e. beauty) is meant in this tradition. It appears that the word primarily has the specific sense of something of striking beauty, and is used in a wider sense. parasitically. Birr is the opposite of `uquq, disobedience. , means so and so is obedient to his Creator, as pointed out by al-Jawhari. `Thaqalan' means mankind and the Jinn.

This noble hadith means that the fear of God and hope in Him should be at the highest degree. Despairing of Divine mercy and considering oneself secure from God's devising (makr) are totally prohibited, as indicated(gestured) by a great number of traditions and explicitly stated by the Noble Qur'an. Secondly, none of these should exceed the other. God willing, we shall elaborate upon this and other aspects of the holy tradition in the course of a few sections.

Between Hope and Fear:

Let it be known to you that the man cognizant of the realities and the relationship between possible existents (mumkin al-wujud) and the Necessary Being (wajib al-wujud), exalted and sublime is He, holds a two-sided viewpoint: The first thing he has in view is the essential defectiveness of his own, of all possible beings, and the wretchedness of the entire universe. Through direct experience or through indirect knowledge he discovers that the entire existence of a possible being is immersed in lowliness and want, drowned in the dark ocean of possibility, poverty and need, always and for ever. The possible existents have nothing of their own: they are utterly insignificant, thoroughly devoid of majesty, and absolutely defective. Rather, none of these expressions can adequately express their utter neediness, and we use them for lack of proper words. Otherwise, defectiveness, poverty and need are a part of the quality of thingness. None of the possible beings and none of tile creatures has anything that is its own. Accordingly, even if a man were to accomplish all the worships, follow(pursue) all the Divine teachings and obey the Holy Lord most perfectly and meticulously, he has nothing but shame, humiliation and fear to his share. What obedience can lie offer? what worship? from whom? and to whom? Are not all the attributes of excellence His own, without the possible having any share whatsoever therein? Rather when the possible being approaches the threshold of these excellences, in order to praise God Almighty, it throws the shadow(stalk) of its defectiveness on His praise and soils the purity and infinitude of His holy Names. It is regarding this station (of finitude and possibility vis-a-vis the infinitude of the Necessary Being) that He declares:

Whatever good visits thee, it is from God; whatever evil visits thee is of thyself. (4:79)

And it is regarding the first station (of the absolute neediness of the possible existent) that He declares:

Say (O Muhammad): 'Everything is from God'. (4:78)

And it is about. these stations that the poet (Hafiz) says:

Our master said, 'The pen of creation did not make any error'.

Praised be the immaculate eye that conceals all defects!

The statement of the mystic master (pir) relates to the second station, and the statement of the speaker himself relates to the first one. Hence, this view(scenery) fills mall with dread, grief, shame and humiliation.

In the other view, he beholds the Perfection of the Necessary Being, the expanse of His mercy, compassion and love. Therein, he sees the unlimited vastness of His various bounties and favours whose number is beyond limit and number and which are bestowed without any prior capacity or deservedness (on the recipient's part). He has opened the doors of favour and bounty on His creatures without any deservedness. The initiative lies with His bounteousness, which precedes request and demand. The Imam Sayyid al-Sajidin Zayn al-`Abidin (A) in the prayers of al-Sahifat al-Kamilah and his other prayers has recurringly pointed out this matter.

This view gives strength to his hope, making him hopeful of Divine mercy. He sees his magnanimous Lord Whose bequests are purely due to His care and compassion, the Lord of all kings Who bestows without asking and prior to the receiver's capacity. All the intellects fall short in knowing even an iota of His nobility. The disobedience of the sinners cots not cause any disturbance iii the order of Isis vast(huge) dominion, and the obedience of the obedient does not add anything to it. Rather, the guidance of the Holiest Essence to the paths of obedience, anti. His prohibition of disobedience, ate for the sake of the creatures, in order that they may attain to His beneficence, His vast(massive) mercy and bounty, that they may attain the stations of perfection and higher degrees of freedom from defect, deformity and ugliness. Hence, should it be that when tomorrow when we enter the court of the Almighty and stand in the presence of His compassion and mercy, we should be able to say: "O God, Who clothed us with the robes of existence and provided us all the means of our life and comfort, over and above the perception of perceivers, Who showed to us all the paths of guidance - all these of Your favours were for our own good and in order to benefit us further from the vast store of Your love and bounty. Now that we stand in Your glorious and magnanimous presence, we have come with the sins of the two worlds. Yet the sins of the sinners have not created any defect in the order of Your dominion, nor diminished the infinitude of Your mercy. What will You have for this handful of dust, that has no significance in front of Your greatness, except pity and compassion? Can anything except pity and compassion be hoped from You, O Lord?"

Hence, man should always be moving back and forth between these two views: neither should he ever close his eyes to his defects and shortcomings in fulfilling the duties of creaturehood, nor should he ever take his eyes off the expansive and all-encompassing mercy, love and compassion of God Almighty.

The Stages and Degrees of Fear:

My dear, know that there are various levels and degrees of fear and hope in accordance with the condition of persons and the level of their knowledge (ma`rifah). The fear of the common people is in regard to chastisement. The fear of the elect is in regard to the wrath. The fear of the elect of the elect is from concealment (ihtijab) (i.e. deprivation from beatitude). Here, it is not our purpose to describe these stations and we will confine our discourse to certain points pertinent to what has been said earlier.

You should know that no creature can worship God Almighty as He deserves to be worshipped; for worship means extolling the praise of that Sacred Essence, and the praise offered by every creature is derived from its knowledge of Him, which in reality does not apprehend His Sacred Essence. Thus, it is not possible for them to praise His beauty and grandeur. Hence the Noblest of creatures and the Most knowledgeable of beings about His Lordship (i.e. the Prophet [S]), confesses his inadequacy in this regard, and declares:

 

We did not worship You as You deserve to be worshipped. And we did not know You as You deserve to he known. [2]

The second sentence is intended to explain the cause of what is stated in the first one. And he (S) said:

You are as You have praised Yourself [3]

Therefore, imperfection is essential to possible being and Absolute Sublimity belongs exclusively to the Sacred Essence of the Almighty. And since the creatures are unable to attain to the praise and worship of the Sacred Essence without the knowledge and worship of God, none of them can attain to the degrees of perfection and the stations of the Hereafter (as has been demonstrated in its own place for the knowers of the Hereafter, and in regard to which the common people are oblivious, as they consider the Hereafterly stations as extravagances and the like, and regarding their fancies it must be said, 'High indeed is He exalted above that (they say)'!), God Almighty, with His expansive favour and His all-inclusive compassion, opened a door of His mercy upon them, out of His love, of the teachings regarding the hidden and of revelation and inspiration, through His angels and prophets. That is the door of worship (`ibadah) and knowledge (ma`rifah). He, thus, indicated the paths of worship to His servants and threw open the road of knowledge to them, that they may, as far as is possible, remove their shortcomings and defects and attain to the possible degrees of perfection, that they may be guided by the light of servitude to the world of Divine magnanimity, to the domain of the spirit and the aroma, to the paradise of His bounties, or, rather, to the good pleasure of God, which is greater than all that.

Thus, the opening of the gates of worship and service is one of the greatest of bounties, for which the creatures owe their deepest gratitude, although it is a favour for which they can never offer adequate thanks, for each expression of gratitude is itself the key that opens a further door to sublimity. Thus, they are ever incapable of offering adequate thanks for His bounties.

Thus when man attains the knowledge of this fountainhead and his heart becomes familiar with it, he confesses to his own shortcoming, and even if he is able to enter into the court of the Almighty with a record of service and worship equal to that of the worship and service of all mankind, Jinn, and angels near to God, he would still be fearful and conscious of inadequacy. Also, the knowing servants of God and His elect friends, on whom the sacred doors of Providence have been opened and whose hearts have been illumined by the light of marifah - their hearts are so full of dread and trembling that even if all tree excellences were accessible to them, and were all the keys to the treasures of Divine knowledge be given them, and should their hearts be filled with Divine irradiation, that would not reduce their fear by an atom's weight nor diminish the trembling of their quaking hearts. Hence- one of them says. `All are afraid of the End, and I am dreadful of the beginning.' may glory be to God, and there is no power or might which is not by God! I seek refuge in God Almighty! God knows, these words tear a man's heart to pieces. They make the heart melt, and take away his wits. But, alas! How negligent is man!

Another thing is that which we mentioned while expounding an earlier tradition, that all our obedience and worship are for the sake of selfish aims and motivated by self-love. In reality, it is abstinence from the world for the sake of the rewards of the Hereafter - which, nevertheless, for free men, is abstinence from the world for worldly rewards. Hence, were we to come to our Lord with the worship of the two worlds, we would not deserve anything except expulsion from the Divine proximity. This is because, God, the Blessed and the Exalted, has invited us into His sacred proximity and love, declaring, `I have created thee for Myself'. He has made the knowledge of Him the end of our creation and shown to us the paths of knowledge and servitude. Despite it, all that we are occupied with is catering to our belly and our carnal lusts, with no purpose in view except self-seeking and self-love!

Then, O wretched man, whose worship and devotion do not entitle thee to anything except expulsion and remoteness from His sanctified proximity and to His wrath and chastisement! What have thee to rely upon? Why, shouldn't the fear of God's Might unsettle you and make your heart bleed? Do you, have anything to rely upon? Do you rely upon your works and trust your deeds? If that be so, woe to you and your estimation of yourself! And woe to you for your estimation of the Master of all masters! However, should your reliance and trust be upon the bounty of your Lord, His expansive compassion and the all-inclusive love of the Sacred Essence, your reliance is indeed well placed; you have relied upon a truly reliable thing, and have sought a firm refuge.

Hope and Prayer:

O God! O Lord! Our hands are empty, and we know that we are imperfect and insignificant. We have nothing that is worthy of Thy sacred court. We are faulty, head to foot, and full of defects. Our inward and outward being is soaked in mortal sins, deserving eternal damnation. What are we that we should be worthy of praising Thee, when Thy friends (awliya') declare:

How shall I thank Thee with this dumb tongue of mine?

and confess to their incapacity, weakness and shortcoming? What can we, blindfolded sinners that we are, have to say about His Majesty, except declaring with the inconsequent oscillations of our tongue: "Our hope lies with Your mercy and our reliance in Your favour and forgiveness, and our trust in the generosity and magnanimity of Your Holy Essence, as expressed in the prayers of Your friends: 

Al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, reports with his chain of narrators from al-'Imam al Baqir (A) that he said, "The Messenger of Allah (S) said: ' God, the Sublime and the Blessed, said: "The workers (of deeds) for My sake should not, for My reward, trust the works they have done: for, verily, should they labour and toil for all their lives in My service and worship, they would fall short in their worship and will not attain to the reality of My service in what they seek with Me of My magnanimity and bounty, My paradise and the high stations in My proximity. Rather, they should rely upon My mercy and put hope in My favour and be contented of their good opinion (husn al-zann) of Me; for, verily, therein My mercy will reach them, My good pleasure will go forth to them, and My forgiveness shall envelop them. For, indeed, I am Allah, the Beneficent and the Merciful, and I have been named so on that account "."' [4]

 

Contemplation, Fear and Hope:

Of things that cause fear of God, is contemplation of the extremeness of Divine Might, the precision(exactness) and sharpness of the path (sirat) of the Hereafter and the perils that man has to face during the days of his life and at death, as well as the hardships of the Purgatory (barzakh)and the Resurrection and the scrutinies of the Reckoning (hisab) and the Balance (mizan). In the same way, reflection over the verses and traditions about the promises of God Almighty can bring about complete and perfect hope. It is reported in traditions that on the Day of Resurrection God Almighty's mercy shall be so abundant(lavish) that even Satan will aspire for God's pardon. In this world, at which God has never looked with favour, and on which since its creation His mercy has not descended (in comparison to the other worlds) except for a droplet of it, we encounter so much of the abundance of God's mercy, bounty and care, which has enveloped everything, apparent and the invisible, that the world is a vast table of the bounties and gifts of the Almighty, so widespread that were all the world's intellects attempt to encompass even a fragment of it, they would be unable to do so. If this is so, then what would be a world which is the house of the hospitality of the generous Lord and the abode of the expansive mercy and compassion of the All-merciful and the Compassionate? Of course, .Satan would be justified in his aspiring for His pity and his hoping from God's generosity. Hence, make perfect your good opinion of Him and rely upon His grace, as He has declared:

Verily, God shall forgive all the sins. (39:53)

and immerse all in the ocean of His mercy and beneficence. It is impossible that God should break His promise, although it is possible that He may withdraw His threats(menaces), and how often He does that! So gladden your heart with the hope of His mercy, for had it not enveloped you, you would not be a creature; every creature is the recipient of His mercy, for He has said:

...My mercy embraces all things. (7:156)

The Difference Between Hope and Delusion:

However, my dear, you should be careful of distinguishing between hope and delusion, for it may be that you be a deluded man, but imagine yourself to be a man of hope. Yet it is easy to distinguish between them on the basis of their grounds. You should reflect over the state of yours that makes you regard it as hope, to see whether that state of yours has come into being as a result of your belittling of Divine commands or as a result of conviction in the all-embracing character of Divine mercy and the greatness of the Holy Essence. Should that prove to be difficult, the distinction can be made on the basis of their effects. Should the greatness of God be imprinted on the believer's heart and should it be content in the expansive mercy and bounty of His Holy Essence, he would be committed to His obedience and service, for esteem for someone great and gratitude and willingness to serve one's benefactor are inviolable features of human nature. Hence, should you be committed to the duties of slavehood and unsparing in your efforts to obey and worship; should you not rely on your works and consider them insignificant; should your hope rest on God's mercy, grace and bounty; should you consider yourself entitled to every kind of blame, disfavour, reproof and wrath on account of your deeds; and should your sole reliance be the mercy and generosity of the Absolutely Magnanimous - should you be such, then you are indeed in possession of the state of hope. Then, thank God Almighty for that, and implore His Holy Essence to establish it firmly in your heart and to elevate you to a higher degree of it. But if, God forbid, should you be one who belittles and takes lightly the commands of God, one who considers unimportant and insignificant the Words of the Holiest Essence, then rest assured that it is delusion that has appeared in your heart as a result of the guiles of Satan and your carnal self. Had you any faith in God's greatness and His expansive mercy, its effects would have been obvious in you. A claimant whose acts are contrary to his claims is one who falsifies himself, and there are many traditions to this effect.

In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni, with his chain of narrators, reports from al-'Imam al Sadiq (A) on the authority of an unnamed narrator who narrated it to Ibn Abi Najran, that he said to the Imam (A): "There are some people who commit sins and say we are hopeful. They remain in this condition until death comes to them." The Imam said: "They are a people who have been swept away by false hopes. They lie, they are not the hopeful; for verily, one who has hope of something pursues it, and one who fears something flees from it." [5]

Close to this in meaning is another tradition of the noble al-Kafi:

(Al-Kulayni), with his chain of narrators reports from al-Husayn ibn Abi Sarah that he said: "I heard Abu 'Abd Allah (A) say: `A believer is not but fearful and hopeful, and he is not (truly) fearful and hopeful unless he responds in action in regard to that which he fears and hopes.' " [6]

Some have said that the person who is hopeful without doing anything is like the one who awaits the result without preparing its needed means, like the farmer(peasant) who awaits a ready harvest without sowing the seeds, without tilling and watering his land(landscape) and without removing the hindrances in the way of a sufficient produce. Such a man cannot be said to have hope. What characterizes him is stupidity and folly. The similitude of the person who does not reform his morals and acts without refraining from sins, is the farmer who sows his seeds in barren, saline soil: of course, such farming(farmstead) does not yield any produce.

Therefore, the genuine kind of hope is that man should first prepare all the means that are available to him and have been provided to him by the grace of God Almighty, Who has also guided him regarding the paths of right and corrupt conduct and commanded him to make ready those means, and only then he should wait and hope that God, with His favour, will provide the remaining means over which he has no power, and remove the hindrances and perils from his path. Hence, when the devotee has cleared the field of his heart of the thorns of moral vices and of the stones, rocks and salinity of sins, sowing therein the seeds of good works and watering it with the clear waters of lucrative knowledge and sincere faith and guarded his field against the pests of pride (`ujb) and ostentation (riya'), which like weeds hinder the wholesome growth of the harvest, then he may sit and wait for God's grace, hoping that the Almighty may keep him firm(taut) and on the straight path until the last moment of his life. This is the desired and genuine kind of hope, as declared by God Almighty:

But the believers, and those who migrate and struggle in the way of God -those have hope of God's compassion; and God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. (2:213)

The noble tradition at its end mentions that neither fear(nervousness) nor hope should exceed one another, and the same thing is stated in the mursal hadith of Ibn Abi `Umayr from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A). When man observes his extreme shortcoming in fulfilling the demands of servitude and creaturehood and when he contemplates the narrowness of the path of the Hereafter, a high degree of fear seizes him. And when he observes his own sins and reflects over the condition of those persons who were righteous at the start but fell into wretchedness and departed from the world in a state of unbelief and without good works, ultimately meeting an evil goal, his fear is intensified. And in a noble tradition of al-Kafi, al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said:

...The believer stands between two dreadful things: the past sins, regarding which he does not know what God will do (with him), and the remainder of his life, regarding which he does not know what mortal sins he will commit therein. So he does not wake up except in a state of dread, and nothing keeps him righteous except fear. [7]

The same thing is stated in the sermon of the Noble Messenger (S) reported in a hadith of al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) in al-Kafi. [8] The gist of the matter is that the self is in a state of utter imperfection and shortcoming, and God at the height of greatness, glory, all-embracing mercifulness and grace, and the devotee is always in a median state of fear and hope between these two views. And since the Divine attributes of glory and perfection cast their light simultaneously on the wayfarer's heart, none of the two, fear or hope, exceeds the other.

Some have said that sometimes fear is more beneficial for man -as in the state of health and robustness - in order that he may endeavour in attaining perfection and performing good works, and that hope is better in some conditions - as when the signs of approaching death appear - so that man may meet God in a state which He loves more. But this opinion does not agree with the above discussion and the traditions mentioned, for the genuine and lovable hope also induces one to good works and hereafterly conduct. Fear of God is also always desirable and is not contrary to confirmed hope in Him.

And some have said that fear is not a moral or intellectual merit in the Hereafter, and that its benefit is limited to the world, which is the abode of works and; deeds, for inducing obedience and service and for restraining men from sin. It is of no use after this world is left behind. On the other hand, hope rill never end and shall endure(withstand) in the Hereafter, for the more of God's beneficence man receives, the more does he aspire to 'His grace and bounty, because the stores of God's mercy axe inexhaustible. Hence, fear comes to an end, while hope continues.

The Opinion of Al-Majlisi:

The great muhaddith al-'Allamah al-Majlisi, upon whom be God's mercy, says: "The truth is that as long as the devotee is in the abode of duty (i.e. this world), he is bound to have both fear and hope. However, after his witnessing of the matters of the Hereafter, one of them, of necessity(urgency) , must surpass the other."

This writer says: That which has been said regarding the dominance of fear or hope in the Hereafter does not agree with the above discussion about the meaning of hope and fear. Even if supposedly true, it would apply only to those of middle stations, for the state of the elect and the awliya' is different from that; for their witnessing of the Divine majesty and glory and the irradiations (tajilliyat) of the Names of love and beauty, which are attained in the heart, are not effaced by the witnessing of the matters of the Hereafter; as a result their fear and hope do not surpass each other. Rather, the effects of Divine majesty and glory and the irradiations of His beauty and love are greater in the world of the Hereafter, and the awe resulting from God's majesty is one of the spiritual pleasures, which on reflection will not be found to be contrary to the noble verse:

Surely God's friends - no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. (10:62)

And that which has been said regarding fear, that it is not a spiritual merit -- it is not true of the awe in front of God's greatness and glory, for it is an excellence and is more intense in those of perfect and complete character (kamilun, mukammalun) than others. And praise belongs to Allah, for His majesty and His beauty, and may His benedictions be upon Muhammad and his Family.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, ed. 'Ali Akbar al-Ghifari, 4th edition, Dar Mus'ab Dar al-Ta'aruf, Beirut, 1401 H., II, 67, hadith 1.

[2]. Safinat al-Bihar, II, 180.

[3]. Ibid., p. 181.

[4]. Al-Kafi, II, 71, hadith 1.

[5]. Ibid., II, 68, hadith 5.

[6]. Ibid., II, 71, hadith 11, from al-Hasan ibn Sarah.

[7]. Ibid., hadith 12.

[8]. Ibid., hadith 2.

 

 


...Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni - may God be pleased with him - from `Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from Ibn Mahbub, from Abu 'Abd Allah (A) that he (A) said: "Verily, it is mentioned in the Book of 'Ali that of all mankind the prophets undergo the severest of trials, and after them the awsiya', and after them the elect to the extent of their nobility. Indeed, the believer undergoes trial in proportion to his good deeds. So one whose faith is sound and whose deeds are good, his trials are also more severe. That is indeed because God Almighty did not make this world a place for rewarding the believer and punishing the unbeliever. And one whose faith is feeble(flimsy) and whose (good) deeds are few faces fewer tribulations. Verily, tribulations hasten towards the believer with greater speed than rainwater towards the earth's depths. [1]

Exposition:

Some have said by nas (people, mankind) in this noble tradition and its like are meant perfect human beings (kamilun) such as the prophets and the awsiya', and that in reality it is they who are the nas, whereas other people are lil-nas (for the people), as mentioned in some traditions. However, that interpretation does not apply here and it seems proper that mankind and people in general should have been meant in this place. This is evident from the other traditions of this chapter of al-Kafi, and if it has been said in some traditions that by nas are meant the kamilun, it does not mean that the word has this meaning in every place that it occurs. Also, bala' means trial, test and examination, and it applies to the good as well as the bad among people, and the lexicographers have stated this expressly. Al-Jawhari in al-Sihah says in this regard: And God Almighty' says: (... And that He may try the believers with a fair trial) (8:17) All that with which God, to Whom belongs Glory and Majesty, tries His servants is bala' and ibtila', whether it is one of the diseases and ailments, or adversities like poverty, humiliation and loss of worldly fortunes, or a thing of an opposite kind such as acquisition of power and glory, wealth, riches, high status, honour, and the like. However, whenever bala', baliyyah or ibtila' and the like are mentioned, it is the former kind of things that are meant.

Amthal means `nobler and better: Hence, the phrase means that one who is better and nobler after the prophets and theawsiya' has to face a severer kind of bala' than the others, and those who are better and nobler than others after them have to face a severer degree of trial. The degree of the severity of bala' is in accordance with the decree of merit. This kind of expression (i.e., like ) does not exist in Persian.

`Sukhf' means `feebleness of the rational faculty' or `foolishness', as mentioned by al-Sihah, and other lexicographical works.Qarar means `resting place,' as mentioned in the dictionaries: The apology means that in the same way as the earth is the resting place where rainwater comes to rest and abide, the believer is the resting place of sufferings and tribulations, which rush toward him, come to rest in him, and do not depart from him. God willing, we will mention that which is needed for the exposition of this noble tradition in the course of a few sections.

The Meaning of Trial:

Let it be known to you that the human souls exist at a level of potentiality from the beginning of their origin, their attachment to the bodies, and their descent to the realm of corporeal existence (mulk), in respect of all things, including knowledge, good and evil traits, and all kinds of perceptive and behavioural faculties. Gradually they move from potentiality to actuality with the grace of God, the Almighty and the Sublime. At first, weak impressions related to particulars (as opposed to universals) emerge in the soul, such as impressions of touch and other outward senses, moving from the lower to the higher. Following that, the inward perceptions also arise in it. However, all its faculties exist only at a level of potentiality, and they do not grow without proper stimulation. For instance, if the base kind of faculties come to dominate it, it becomes disposed to ugliness and evil, for its inner powers, such as shahwah (lust), ghadab (anger), etc., impel it towards sin, licentiousness, aggression and tyranny. After following them for some time it grows into a strange monster and a highly grotesque devil.

However, since the grace and mercy of God Almighty have been accompanying the Children of Adam since eternity, He bestowed upon them two educators and teachers which are like two wings with which they can fly from the depths of ignorance, defectiveness, ugliness and wretchedness to the heights of knowledge, perfection; beauty and felicity, and deliver themselves from the narrow valley of nature to reach the expansive and open horizons of the realms of the spirit (malakut). The first of these is the faculty of intellect and discernment, which is the inner teacher; and the second, the outward teacher, is represented by the prophets and the divine guides who shove(jostle) the path of felicity as distinct from the ways of wretchedness. None of these two can singly achieve this end without the other. For the human intellect by itself can neither identify the paths of felicity and wretchedness nor find the way to the hidden world and the realm of Hereafterly existence. Similarly, the guidance of the prophets cannot be effective without the exercise of the discerning faculties of the intellect.

Thus God, the Beneficent and the Sublime, gave them these two educators so that through them all the potentialities and hidden faculties and capacities, latent in the human soul, should be realized and actualized. God Almighty blessed them with these two great bounties in order to try and test human beings, for it is through these bounties that individual human beings are separated into the felicitous and the wretched, the obedient and the rebellious, the perfect and the defective. And so the Great Wali of God said:

And by Him Who sent him (the Prophet (S)) with the Truth, you shall indeed be mixed and intermingled and then separated in the sieve (of Divine trial and tribulation)? [2]

In the noble al-Kafi, in the chapter relating to Divine test and trial (bab al-tamhis wa al-'imtihan), Ibn Abi Ya'fur reports al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) as having said:

It is inevitable that mankind should be purified, separated and sieved so that a great number is excluded by the sieve. [3]

Also al-Kulayni reports with his isnad from Mansur the following tradition:

Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) said: "O Mansur! Indeed this affair (i.e. the appearance of al-Mahdi (A)) will not come to you except after despair and not, by God, until you have been separated, and not, by God, until you have been purified, and not, by God, until the wretched attain wretchedness and the felicitous attain felicity." [4]

In another tradition, Abu al-Hasan (A) is reported to have said:

You shall be purified in the way gold is purified. [5]

In al-Kafi, bab al-'ibtila' wa al-'ikhtibar, the following tradition is reported with isnad from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A):

He said: "There is no qabd (extension) and bast (contraction) except that in it there is for God a purpose, a decree, and a trial.[6]

In another tradition he is (A) reported to have said:

Indeed there is no qabd and bast in that which God has commanded or forbidden except that there is in it from God a trial and a decree? [7]

Qabd means imsak (withholding), man` (obstruction, prevention) and akhdh (seizure). Bast is nashr (unfolding, spreading, resurrection) and 'ata' (gift, bestowal). Hence every gift, expansion and obstruction, and every command, prohibition and duty is for the sake of trial.

Thus we came to know that the sending of prophets and the revelation of heavenly scriptures is all for the sake of the separation of humanity, of the separation of the wretched from the happy and the felicitous, of the obedient from the sinful. And the meaning of Divine testing and examination is this very separation of men from one another, not the knowledge of their separateness, because the knowledge of God Almighty is pre-eternal; it encompasses all things prior to their creation. The hukama' have elaborately discussed the reality of trial and ibtila' and it is beyond the scope of this exposition to mention their opinions.

In any case, the result of this trial and examination is the separation of the felicitous from the wretched. In the course of it the proof (hujjah) of God is established against the creatures. Thereafter, their life, felicity and salvation, or their destruction and damnation occurs after the establishment of the proof and testimony (bayyinah), and there remains no room for objection for anyone. One who attains felicity and eternal life does so through Divine succour and guidance, for God has bestowed all the means of attaining them. Also, one who earns wretchedness and falls(drops) into destruction, following Satan and his carnal self, his wretchedness and damnation are also earned by him out of his own free will, because he does so despite the availability of all the means of guidance and felicity. The conclusive proof of God is established against him and there is no room for any pretext. Hence the Qur'an says:

For it (the soul) is what it has earned and against it is what it has merited. (2:286)

The Prophets and Divine Trial:

It was mentioned earlier that every act of the human being, or rather every event that occurs in the realm of the body and is related to the soul's perceptions, leaves a kind of impression in the self. This is true of both good and evil deeds (whose impression upon the soul is mentioned in traditions as the appearance of a `white dot' or a `black dot' respectively) as well as of pleasures and pains. For instance, every experience of pleasure, derived either from food, drink, sex or something else, leaves an impression upon the soul and creates or increases the love and attachment for that kind of, pleasure in the soul. The more that one plunges into such pleasures and lusts, the greater becomes the self's love and attachment for this world and its reliance upon it. Thus the self is nourished with the love of the world and trained in accordance with it. The greater the sensual pleasures that it derives, the stronger become the roots of this love; and the more the available means of comfort and luxury, the sturdier becomes the tree of attachment to the world. And the. more the soul's attention is directed towards the world, the greater is proportionately its negligence toward God and the world of the Hereafter. Thus when this reliance upon the world becomes complete, the soul assumes a worldly and materialistic form, and the absence of attention towards God Almighty and the 'realm of His munificence and bounty also becomes total and complete. It is about such a soul that, the Qur'an says:

...He inclined towards the earth and followed his lust. (7:176)

The inevitable result of this inner immersion in the sea of pleasure and lust is the love of the world, and the love of the world creates antipathy towards that which is unlike it; attention towards the corporeal realm (mulk) brings negligence towards the spiritual world (malakut).

On the contrary, if one has a bad and painful experience of something, the impression of that experience(advendure) creates an antipathy in the soul. The stronger that impression is, the greater is that inward antipathy. For instance, if after moving to a city one has to face there numerous torments and ailments and undergo outer and inner adversities, he will inevitably abhor that place. The greater the number of adversities that he faces therein, the more will be his abhorrence for that place. If he knows a better place, he will migrate to it, and if he is unable to make the journey, his heart will migrate and go out to the city of his liking.

Thus if a man faces adversities, pain and torments in this world and is overtaken therein by waves of calamities(failures) and tribulations, he will inevitably come to resent it. His attachment to it will diminish and he will come to distrust it. If he believed in another world, a vast world free of every kind of pain and grief, he will inevitably want to migrate to it, and if he were unable to make the journey physically, he will send his heart out to it.

Moreover, it is evident that all the spiritual, moral and behavioural evils arise from the love of the world and negligence of God Almighty and the Hereafter. The love of the world is the source of all sins, in the same way as the love of God, the aspiration for the eternal abode of His bounty, the renunciation of the world and absence of reliance upon and trust in its adornments are the source of all spiritual cures and moral and behavioural reform.

After these preliminaries we come to know that whenever God Almighty has a greater consideration and love for someone, and when someone is the object of the mercy of His Sacred Essence to a greater extent, He restrains him from this world and its charms with the waves of calamity and tribulation, so that his soul turns away in disgust from the world and its adornments and turns his face and his heart, to the extent of his faith, toward the world of the Hereafter. If there weren't any other reason except this one for endurance of severe calamities it would have been sufficient, and a noble tradition also points towards this matter.

Al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) said "Verily, God Almighty treats the believer with tribulations in the same way as a man treats his family with gifts after an absence (upon a journey), and He restrains him from the world in the same way as the physician prescribes restraints for the sick man." [8]

The same thing is said in another hadith, and one should not imagine that God's love and the great care of His Sacred Essence for some people is - God be our refuge - extravagant and pointless. Rather, with every step that a faithful servant of God takes towards Him, God's grace turns towards him and the Almighty moves closer to him. The similitude of the degrees of faith and the availability of the means of Divine succour is that of a man moving with a lamp in darkness; with every step that he takes forward(onward), some more of the path in front of him is illuminated, which allows him to take another step forward. With every step that a man takes forward on the path of the Hereafter, that path appears clearer to him and God's grace upon him increases, preparing the means of attention towards the world of Divine proximity and of antipathy towards the world of separation and distance.

The pre-eternal grace of God Almighty upon the prophets and the awliya' is on account of His pre-eternal knowledge of their obedience during their terms of duty. For instance, if you have two children about whom you have prior knowledge in their childhood that one of them will bring you satisfaction while the other will grow up to cause you displeasure and resentment, your love for the obedient child would be greater from the very beginning.

God's Remembrance:

Another point relating to the severity of the tribulations of the elect among God's servants is that they are made to remember God on account of these adversities and tribulations and to pray and lament in front of His Sacred Essence. This makes them accustomed to remember Him and keep their thoughts busy with Him. It is natural for human beings to seek and learn upon what they think is a source of support in times of 'adversity. In times of   reassurance and welfare they forget and neglect it. And since the elect know no source of support other than God, their attention turns towards Him, they putting their sole reliance in His sacred station, and God Almighty, also, with the love that He has for them, prepares the means of that undivided attention and reliance. However, this, as well as the foregoing point, is not true of the prophets and the perfectawliya', for their station is too high in sanctity and their heart too firm in faith for them to develop attachment for worldly things on account of such things (as comfort and welfare) or for them to waver(hesitate) in their sole reliance upon God. This may be so because the prophets and the perfect awliya' have, through their inward light and spiritual experience, ascertained that God Almighty has no regard for this world and its adornments and that everything therein is base and lowly in the eyes of His Sacred Essence, and for this reason they have preferred poverty to wealth, tribulation to reassurance and ease, and adversity to that which is unlike it. Several noble traditions also support this view.

It is mentioned in the hadith that Gabriel brought the key of the earth's treasures to the Seal of the Prophets (S) and said to him (S) that should he (S) accept it, nothing would diminish from his (S) Hereafterly stations. But the Prophet (S) did not accept it for the sake of humility before God Almighty and chose poverty.

In the noble al-Kafi, al-Kulayni, with a chain of transmitters reaching up to al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A), reports the Imam (A) as having said:

Indeed God has so little regard for the unbeliever that should he ask of Him the world and that which is in it, He would give that to him . [9]

And this is due to the worthlessness of the world in the eyes of the Almighty. It is mentioned in the hadith that from the time that the Almighty created the corporeal world, He did not look at it with favour.

Another point related to the severity of the believer's tribulations that has been mentioned in traditions is that there are certain stations for the believers which they cannot attain without undergoing suffering, pain and affliction. It is possible that these afflictions are the corporeal forms of the degrees of renunciation of the world and devotion to God, and it is also possible that these sufferings have celestial forms (suwar-e malakuti) which cannot be realized without their occurrence in the corporeal world and afflictions therein. Al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A), in a noble tradition of al-Kafi with a continuous(uninterrupted) chain of transmission going up to him, states:

Verily, the servant has certain stations near God that cannot be realized without one of these two attributes: either the loss of his wealth or affliction in his body. [10]

In a tradition relating to the martyrdom of the Doyen of the Martyrs (al-'Imam al-Husayn) (A) it is mentioned that he (A) saw the Prophet (S) in a dream. The Prophet (S) said to that mazlum, "There is a station for you in the Paradise which you cannot attain except through martyrdom." The celestial form of martyrdom cannot be attained without its occurrence in the corporeal realm, as has been demonstrated in the higher sciences. It is mentioned in mutawatir traditions that for every action there is a corresponding form in the other world, and al Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said in al-Kafi that:

The greatness of man's reward goes with the greatness of suffering, and God did not love a people but that He subjected them to suffering. [11]

There are many traditions containing this theme.

 

The Prophets' Suffering:

The great muhaddith al-Majlisi, upon whom be God's mercy, says:

These traditions relating to the tribulations of the prophets, which have been narrated both through Sunni and Shi'i chains of transmission (turuq), clearly indicate that the prophets and the awliya' differ from others in respect of ailments and bodily afflictions. Rather, they have a greater right than others to suffer on account of their great reward which is responsible for the loftiness of their stations. And this suffering is not only not contrary to their station, it even causes the confirmation of their affair. Should they not undergo afflictions, despite the manifestation of miracles and extraordinary(remarkable) things at their hands, people might say such things about them as the Christians did about their prophet. This explanation is also mentioned in traditions.

The subtle researcher and the great, sacred philosopher al Tusi, may God fill his grave with aroma, states in al-Tajrid: "Of the things that the prophets should be free from is that which is regarded as abhorrent." And the `Allamah of the `ulama' of Islam (al-`Allamah al-Hilli), may God be pleased with him, adds in Sharh al-Tajrid that the prophets should be free from such abhorrent diseases as absence of urinary control, leprosy and leukoderma, for their abhorrent character is contrary to the aim of prophecy.

This writer says: The station of prophethood is subject to spiritual levels and excellences and has no relation to corporeality. Hence physical diseases and defects do no harm to the spiritual station of the prophets and affliction with abhorrent diseases diminishes nothing from the sublimity and greatness of their station, although they may not contribute in a way of confirmation to their (already established) excellences and degrees of sublimity. But that which these two researchers have said is also not devoid of validity. This is because the common people cannot make a distinction between the two stations (of spirituality and corporeality) and imagine that physical defectiveness is related or caused by spiritual defectiveness. Hence they consider some defects as being contrary to the high and great station of the prophets. Hence Divine grace dictates that the prophets who are messengers and bringers of Divine shari'ah should not be afflicted with such diseases as are considered disgusting and abominable by the people. Therefore, the absence of this kind of affliction is not because it is harmful to the station of prophethood, but for the sake of maximizing the effectiveness of the prophetic mission of communicating the Divine teachings (tabligh). Hence there is nothing wrong if some prophets without a shari'ah, great awliya' and the faithful are afflicted with this kind of afflictions, as in the case of Hadrat Ayyub (Job) and Habib al-Najjar. There are many traditions concerning the affliction of Hadrat Ayyub (A), of which are the following two:

'Ali ibn Ibrahim in a long tradition narrates on the authority of Abu Basir that al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) said: "...Then his whole body, excepting his, intellect and his eyes, was subjected to the disease. Then Iblis blew upon it and it became a single wound extending from his head to feet. He (Job) remained for a period in that condition, praising and thanking God, until it became infested with worms. Whenever a worm fell off from his body, he would put it back, saying to it, "Return to your place, from where God created you." And it began to stench until his townsfolk expelled him from his town and his food came from the garbage thrown outside the town."

In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni reports from Abu Basir that he asked al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) about the verse, "When thou recitest the Qur'an, seek refuge in God. from the accursed Satan, he has no authority over those who believe and trust in their Lord; (his authority is over those who take him for their guardian and ascribe associates to God) (16:98-100)" The Imam said, "O Abu Muhammad, by God, He gives authority to him (Satan) over the believer's body but not over his faith (din). He gave him (Satan) authority over Ayyub and Satan disfigured him physically, but He did not give authority to him over his faith. And He does give him authority over the faithful's bodies but not over their faith."

Najiyah says, "I said to Abu Ja'far (A) that al-Mughirah says that a believer is never afflicted with leprosy, leukoderma and such other ailments (is that true?) The Imam replied, `Didn't he know that the Sahib Ya Sin (Habib al-Najjar, the man mentioned in Surat Ya Sin) was mutilated (mukanna')?' He (A) closed his fingers and said, `It is as if I see him go to his people in his mutilated state (takannu') to warn them and come back the next day, when they killed him.' Then he added, `Verily, the believer suffers all kinds of afflictions and dies in all manners of dying except suicide.' " [12]

`Sahib Ya Sin is Habib al-Najjar and takannu` (the word is with nun in most of the manuscripts), according to al-Majlisi, means shortening and mutilation. He adds that it was probably leprosy which had resulted in the shortening of his fingers. However, this, as well as many other ahadith, indicate that the believers and prophets are sometimes afflicted with abominable diseases on account of some higher expediency, although there are some other traditions which negate the disfigurement of Hadrat Ayyub's body and its petrifaction, and not much benefit lies in discussing them further with a view to affecting a reconciliation. On the whole, these kind of diseases do no harm to the condition of believers and do not diminish anything from the station of the prophets (A) rather, they lead to the elevation of their station, and God Almighty knows best the truth.

The World is Not a Place of Reward or Punishment:

Let it be known to you that this world, due to its defective, feeble and weak nature, is neither the abode of the reward of God Almighty nor the place of His chastisement and punishment. This is so because the abode of Divine munificence is a realm whose bounties are pure, unadulterated with torment, and its comforts are not mixed with pain and grief. Such bounties are not possible in this world, which is an abode where contradictories throng together and each of whose bounties is mixed(mixture) with numerous kinds of pains, hardships and torments. Rather, as the philosophers have said, pleasure in this world lies in avoiding pain. It may be said that even its pleasures cause pain and every one of its pleasures is followed by pain and hardship. Rather, the very material of this world lacks the capacity to accept absolute goodness and unadulterated bounty. In the same way, its pains and hardships, torments and punishments are also mixed; each of its pains and hardships carries within itself some goodness and bounty, and none of its afflictions and adversities is unmixed. The very material of this world lacks the capacity to accept pure, absolute punishment, whereas the abode of Divine chastisement is a place where punishment is pure and absolute; its pains and afflictions are not like those of this world, which while they afflict one member of the body are absent from the other members. While the healthy members are in reassurance and ease, the afflicted member suffers pain and agony. The noble tradition partly refers to what we have stated here when it says:

That is, the reason that the believer is afflicted in this world with tribulation is that God Almighty has made it neither the place of His reward for the believer nor the place of chastisement for the infidel. This world is the abode of duty and the farm of the Hereafter. It is a place of trade and earning whereas the Hearafter is the abode of reward and punishment, of bounty and damnation.

Those who expect that God Almighty would immediately get hold of one who commits some sin or indecency in this world or perpetrates some injustice or aggression against someone, and cut his hand off and expunge him from the realm of existence, are unaware that their expectation is contrary to this world's order and opposed to God's wont and sunnah. Here is the place of trial and the zone of the separation of the wretched from the felicitous and the sinful from the obedient. Here is the realm of the manifestation of deeds, not the abode of the emergence of the results of personal deeds and qualities. If occasionally God Almighty does take hold of an oppressor, it may be said that it is due to the Almighty's mercy for that oppressor (for it stops him from sinning further). For, when God Almighty leaves the sinful and the tyrants to themselves, His wrath takes the form of istidraj, the gradual seizing.

Hence God Almighty declares.

(And those who cry lies to Our signs), We will draw them on little by little whence they know not; and I respite them - assuredly My guile is firm. (7:182-183)

And He also says:

And let not the unbelievers suppose that the respite We grant them is better for them; We grant them respite only that they may increase in sin; and there awaits them a humiliating chastisement.(3:178)

In Majma` al-bayan, this tradition is cited from al-Imam al-Sadiq (A):

The Imam (A) said: "When a person commits a sin and the bounty (that he had received) is renewed for him, he leaves off asking for forgiveness (istighfar), and this is al-'istidraj (as mentioned in verse 7 :182)."

At the end of the noble tradition, the Imam (A) says:

...And one whose faith is feeble and his intellect is weak, his tribulation is also slight.

This shows that tribulations are both bodily and spiritual, for the persons of weak intellects and feeble sensibility are secure from spiritual tribulations and intellectual suffering in proportion to their intellectual weakness and the feebleness of their sensibility. On the contrary, those with more complete intellects and acuter sensibility have to undergo spiritual tribulations more intensely in proportion to the perfectness and acuteness of their intellect and sensibility. Perhaps it was for this reason that the Holy Messenger (S) said:

No prophet was tormented to the extent that I was.

This complaint of the Prophet (S) refers to this point, for whoever perceives the greatness and glory of the Lord to a greater extent and knows the sacred station of God Almighty more than others, he suffers more and is tormented to a greater extent by the sins of the creatures and their offences against the Lord's sanctity. Also, one who has a greater love and compassion for the creatures of God is tormented to a greater extent by their crooked and wretched condition and ways. And, of course, the Seal of the Prophets (S) was more perfect in all these stations and higher than all of the prophets and the awliya' in respect of his degree of excellence and perfection. Hence his torment and suffering was greater than that of any one of them. There is also another explanation of the Holy Messenger's statement, whose mention is not appropriate for this place. And God knows best and to Him belongs all the praise.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p.259, hadith No.29.

[2]. Nahj al-balaghah, Khutbah No.16.

[3]. Usul al-Kafi, vol II, p.370, hadith No.2.

[4]. Ibid., hadith No.3.

[5]. Ibid., hadith No.4:

[6]. Ibid., vol. I, p.152.

[7]. Ibid.

[8]. Ibid., vol. II, p.255, hadith No.17.

 

 

 

 

 

...Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni - may God be pleased with him - from a group of his teachers, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid, from his father, from 'Ali ibn al-Nu'man, from 'Abd Allah ibn Muskan, from Abu Basir, who says: "I heard Abu 'Abd Allah (A) say, 'A free human being is free in all circumstances. Should a misfortune befall him he bears it with patience (sabr). If calamities(ruins) strike him, they don't shatter him. If taken captive and subdued; he turns hardship into ease, as was the case of Joseph, the truthful and trustworthy (may God's benedictions be upon him). His freedom saved him from harm, although he was enslaved, subdued, and imprisoned. The darkness of the pit, the dread and whatever befell him did him no harm, until God favoured him and made the insolent tyrant, who had been his master, his slave. Then God made him His apostle and through him was merciful to a people. In this way patience(stamina) is followed by good. So be patient and reconcile yourself to patience in order to be rewarded: " [1]

Exposition:

Naibah' is the singular of nawa'ib, which means `events' and `accidents' and according to al-Sihah means misfortune (musibah). Dakka is synonymous with daqqa, which means `to is conjoined to pound', crush', 'grind', and 'to knock'. Al-Sihah says: . It also remarks, . This world also gives the sense of swarming, crowding and pressing together (ijtima' and izdiham), as mentioned in al-Nihayah. In a hadith, Amir al-Muminin - may peace be upon him - is reported to have said: means . According to al-Nihayah, dakka also means casara (to break). In the present noble tradition, the former meaning is more appropriate in view of the phrase following it, although the second meaning also fits here. The preposition in signifieswusliyyah and is conjoined to it. Al Majlisi - may God's mercy be upon him - states that it is in some manuscripts, and is accordingly conjoined to , thus making it the result of sabr. The phrase is the passive participle and is the active subject of the verbal sentence. In Mir'at al Uqul it is , and appears as in Wasa'il al-Shi'ah. It seems that it is a calligraphers error in the manuscript of the Mir'at , although its meaning is not totally invalid. However, that which is in Wasa'il is more in agreement with the totality and content of the noble tradition. is conjoined to , implying that Joseph was not harmed by that which he suffered at his brothers hands, nor by grief and adversity. As to the phrase, , it appears that it involves the ellipsis of(until) and relates to in two possible yet conflicting ways. Al-Majlisi - may God be merciful to him - has mentioned several possible meanings of it whose description is not devoid of prolixity. The meaning of the master of Joseph (A) becoming his slave is that he became subservient and obedient to him (A).

Desire, the Source of All Bondage:

Let it be known to you that in a man subjugated to the domination of lust and carnal desire, his servitude, servility and indignity increase in proportion to the intensity of their domination; for servitude means complete submission and obedience. The man obedient to lusts and subjugated to the carnal self is their obedient slave. He submissively obeys whatever they command and is a humble and obedient servant and slave in front of them. This obedience reaches a limit when he prefers obedience to them to obedience to the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He prefers their service to the service of the real King of kind. In that state, honour, dignity and freedom depart from his heart on which then settle the dusts of indignity, destitution and servitude. He becomes humble before worldly people and his heart bows down in prostration before them and before the possessors of worldly power and glory. In order to achieve the objects of his carnal desires and to satisfy the craving of his belly and underneath, he submits to all kinds of disgrace and indignities. As long as he remains in the bondage of lust and the carnal self, he does not abstain from violating the demands of honour, freedom and chivalry. He readily submits to the obedience of anyone, and is willing to accept favour from any insignificant person, as soon as he sees the probability of attaining his objective through his means, even if that person is the meanest and basest of all creation and even if the probability involved is something imaginary. And it is said that mere fancy is the proof of the greedy.

The servants of lust and mundane ambition have put on the shackles of slavery to carnal desire. They are ready to be slaves of anyone whom they know or imagine to be of worldly benefit to them. If verbally they declare themselves to be chaste and honourable, such lip service to honour is mere deception, for their words and deeds contradict such a declaration. This servility and captivity(imprisonment) is a thing which always causes man to undergo suffering, pain, dishonour and distress. Hence a man with a sense of honour and dignity should seriously strive to cleanse himself of this abomination by all means and deliver himself from this bondage. Such purification and emancipation can only be attained through a fundamental treatment, which takes place through curative knowledge and action.

As to curative action, it consists of religious exercises and opposition to the carnal self. Over a period of time these free the soul from excessive love of the world and the pursuit of carnal lust and desire, until it becomes accustomed to virtues and moral excellences. As to curative knowledge, it lies in making oneself understand and causing this to enter into his heart that other creatures are as weak, needy, dependent and impoverished as himself. He should tell his heart, "Since all other creatures are, like me, dependent, in matters big and small, on Him Who is absolutely Able and Powerful, they are not capable of fulfilling anyone's needs. They are too insignificant to deserve the soul's attention or the heart's humbleness. The same Powerful Being that has bestowed honour, dignity and riches upon them is capable of bestowing these on anybody. In fact, it is a matter of shame that man should submit so much to dishonour and indignity for the sake of his belly and his lusts as to accept the favour of an insignificant, impoverished, powerless and lowly creature devoid of wisdom and vision. If at all you should seek anyone's favour, then seek the favour of the Absolutely Self-Sufficient, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, for if you pay attention to His sacred Essence and make your heart humble in His presence, that will liberate you from both the worlds and emancipate you from the servitude of creatures, as it has been said:[3]

That is, the inner, invaluable essence of servitude to God is freedom and lordship. Thus servitude to God, attention to the unique focus of all being, and subjugation of all powers and dominations to the Sovereignty of God create such a state in the devotee's heart that he comes to wield power and kingdom over all the worlds. His spirit rises to such heights of sublimity that he does not pay obeisance to anyone except the Sacred Divine Essence, and even if, accidentally, he should be under the domination and power of anyone, that does not shake(vibrate) his heart, which preserves its independence and freedom, as in the case of Joseph (A) and Luqman (A) whose apparent subservience and servitude did not harm their free and freedom-seeking character. And there may be many a powerful despot and king, who having no trace of inner freedom, dignity and honour in their character, are base servants and obedient slaves of lust and carnal desire and who obsequiously ingratiate themselves to creatures.

Al-'Imam `Ali ibn al-Husayn (A) is reported to have said in the course of a discourse:

 

I am ashamed to ask anything of worldly things from their Creator, so how can I seek them from creatures like myself? [4]

My dear, if you are not ashamed of seeking the world, at least don't ask for it of weak creatures like yourself. Do understand that creatures have no power to do anyone any worldly good. I admit that you might have succeeded in attracting someone's attention through a thousand indignity and cajolery, but his will has no effect in the kingdom of God and no one has any role in the dominion of the King of kings. Hence do not degrade yourself so much by flattering insignificant creatures for the sake of a passing world and for passing and paltry desires. Don't forget your Lord and preserve your freedom. Remove the shackles of servitude and captivity(custody) and never forget Him under any circumstance, for, as stated in the noble tradition:

The freeman is free in all circumstances.

Let it be known to you that contentment comes from the heart and the absence of neediness is a spiritual state, unrelated to external matters that lie outside the human self. I have myself seen certain persons amongst rich and wealthy classes who say thins which no honourable poor man would say and whose statements are shameful. The hearts of those wretches were covered by the dusts of dishonour and destitution. The Jews, who, in proportion to their number, are the richest and wealthiest of all people on the earth, have faces that manifest debasement, poverty, indigence, beggarliness, hunger and wretchedness. They spend all their lives in hardship, indignity, destitution and squalor. This is nothing but their inner poverty and spiritual abasement.

I have seen amongst pious and darvish-like persons some individuals whose hearts are so magnanimously free of want and need that they look at the entire world with indifference and consider none except the Sacred Essence of God Almighty as deserving of making a request. You too study carefully the conditions of worldly and ambitious people and you will find that their lack of self-respect and their degradation in flattering others is greater than that of others and their obsequiousness in front of people is greater. Those (pseudo mystic masters) who are in pursuit of disciples and claim to guide others, suffer indignities and put up with degrading flattery and ingratiation for some day's satisfaction of their carnal lusts. The heart of the seeker of disciples and adherents is humbler in front of the disciple than that of the latter in front of him. This is because of the difference in the character of their respect for one another. While the disciple's humbleness and affection is of a spiritual and godly character, the master's affection has a mundane and satanic character:

These that have been mentioned are the worldly forms of these evils and indignities. But were the curtains to rise, the real spiritual forms of these servitudes, bondages and chains of carnal lusts and desires will reveal themselves. Perhaps the seventy-cubit chain, of which God Almighty has informed us, a chain with which we shall be shackled and bound in that world, is the Hereafterly form of this very servitude and subjugation to the domination of Passion and Anger. And God Almighty declares:

And they shall find all they wrought present .... (18:49)

And He also says:

(God charges no soul save to its capacity;) standing to its account is what it has earned, and against its account what it has merited.(2:286)

That is, that which we obtain in the other world is a form of our own deeds.

Therefore, break away the lengthy chains of lust and desire. Remove the locks that bar the heart's entrance and set yourself free from bondage. Live like a free human being in this world so that you may be free in the other world; otherwise, you will encounter there the intolerable Hereafterly form of this bondage. The hearts of the saints of God, despite their absolute and total freedom from bondage, were so much dreadful of the final outcome and so much full of lamentations that it amazes all minds. I am aware that the matters mentioned in these pages are of a common and repetitive(monotonous) character. However, there is nothing wrong(amiss) in such repetition, for constant reminding of the self and repetition of the truth is a desirable thing. This is why repetition has been considered desirable in prayers, supplications, worship and rituals. The main purpose is to accustom the self by means of repetitive(dull) exercises.

My dear, don't be deluded; understand that as long as man remains in the bondage of the carnal self and its desires and as long as the lengthy chains of Passion and Anger are around his neck, he cannot attain to any of the spiritual stations; the inward authority of the soul and the domination of its higher will shall not manifest itself. Also, the station of spiritual independence and dignity, which is one of the highest of spiritual stations, shall not be realized. Rather, this bondage and slavery restrains man from revolting against the authority of the carnal self. And when the authority of the carnal self and Satan becomes consolidated in the inward realm and all the faculties of the self become their obedient slaves, becoming submissive(meek) and humble in front of them, they do not remain gorged with mere sins. Little by little, they draw man from minor to major sins and from there to weakening of beliefs, from there to darkening of the intellect, from there to the constricted path of denial and contestation (of the truth), and from there to the hostility and enmity of the prophets and the awliya'. Throughout these stages, the self, which is their slave and under their domination, cannot disobey them. At last this obedience and captivity becomes so severe that it may take man to the most dangerous point.

Hence, the intelligent man with sympathy for himself must try by all means to liberate himself from this slavery, and as long as there is opportunity and his powers are intact and his life, health and youth are there and his faculties have not been totally subjugated (by Satan and the carnal self), he must rise to undertake this task. For some time he must exercise vigilance over himself, study his own inner states, reflect about the conditions of those who have passed away and faced an evil fate(destiny), and make his heart understand the passing character of worldly life. He must awaken his heart and inform it of the truth narrated from the Holy Prophet (S) who said:

The world is the farm of the Hereafter. [5]

That is, if we do not sow the seeds of righteous deeds in the few days of our life here, the opportunity will be lost for ever. When we reach the threshold of the other world and death seizes us, deeds come to an end., hopes are extinguished. If, God forbid, we continue to remain in the slavery of lusts and the captivity( of various carnal desires until the Angel of Death arrives, it is possible that Satan may achieve his ultimate objective of wresting away our faith. He may treat us in such a fashion and metamorphose our hearts to such an extent that we may depart from the world as enemies of God and His prophets and awliya'. If that happens, God knows what calamities, what darkness and what terrors await us.

So, O base self! O negligent heart! Awake from thy sleep and arise to confront this enemy who for years has subdued you and made a captive of you, who drags you whenever he wants and commands you to perform every ugly and destructive deed! Arise and bust these bonds! Sever these chains! Seek thy freedom and throw away(get rid off) this disgrace and indignity. Wear the girdle of servitude to God, the Almighty and the Glorious, that you may be free from every kind of servitude and slavery, that you may attain to the absolute kingdom of God in both the worlds.

My dear, although this world - being the believer's prison - is not the abode of Divine award and the place of the manifestation of God's kingdom, but should you come out(loom) from the captivity(detention) of the carnal self and submit to the servitude of God, make your heart a true monotheist and clear the dusts of plurality from the mirror of the spirit, and turn your heart's attention to the focal point of Absolute Perfection, you will witness its effects in this world itself and your heart will attain such an expanse that it will become the realm of the manifestation of God's total sovereignty, thus becoming greater than all the worlds. Hence He has said:

My earth and My heaven do not contain Me, but I am contained in the heart of my faithful slave. [6]

Such richness and contentment will then pervade your heart that all the outward and inward realms will become worthless in your eyes and your will, will become so mighty that it shall not attach itself to the corporeal and the celestial realms; rather it will not even consider them worthy of itself.

You have watched the bird's flight;

But should you remove the shackles of lust,

You will witness the flight of man.

  

Sabr, the Outcome of Freedom from Lust:

One of the great results and precious fruits of this freedom and emancipation from servitude to the carnal self is patience in calamities and misfortunes. Now it remains for us to explain briefly the meaning of sabr, the kinds of its fruits and its relation to freedom.

As defined by the researcher of the righteous sect, the explorer of the subtleties of the confirmed creed, the perfect in knowledge and deed, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi - may God sanctify his holy spirit(phantom) - sabr means restraining the self from agitation when confronted with undesirables. And the famous, confirmed `arif (Khwajah `Abd Allah al-'Ansari), says in Manazil al-sa'irin:

Sabr means restraining the self from complaint about hidden anguish.

And let it be known to you that sabr has been considered as one of the stations of those in the middle group (mutawassitun), for as long as the self regards misfortunes and calamities as detestable and feels inward anguish on their account, its marifah is deficient. Thus the station of rida in regard to Divine destiny(kismet) and satisfaction at the turning up of misfortunes represents a higher station, although we consider this also to be one of the stations pertaining to the mutawassitun. So also sabr in regard to abstinence from sins and in regard to fulfilment of duties (ta'at) is also related to deficient knowledge of the secrets of ibadat and the Hereafterly forms of sin and obedience. For if one were to understand the reality ofibadah and to believe in the purgatorial forms of worships and sins, sabr in regard to these has no meaning for him. Rather, the contrary becomes true here, and if a joy or comfort causes him to neglect worship or commit a sin, they (such joys and comforts) become detestable for him and his inward anguish becomes greater than that of those who bear misfortunes and calamities patiently.

The righteous servant and the knower of the duties of servitude, the possessor of noble stations and miraculous characteristics, 'Ali ibn 'Tawus - may God sanctify his spirit - is narrated to celebrate the first day of his becoming mukallaf. He gave feasts and festivated in commemoration of that day, for God, the Blessed and the Supreme, had blessed him with the permission to perform duties on that day. Can anyone say that that sublime spirit exercised sabr in regard to worship and duties considering them as inwardly unwelcome? What a difference between us and those obedient servants of God! We think that God Almighty has burdened us with duties; we consider them troublesome and view them as a botheration. If one of us attempts to offer his prayer at the outset of its time, he says that it is better to be done with it and the sooner one relieves oneself the better! All our misfortunes are due to ignorance and foolishness and on account of the lack or absence of faith.

In any case, sabr is concealed anguish. And that which has been said about the great prophets and the Righteous Imams - who have been characterized with sabr - that could mean forbearance in regard to physical sufferings, which are painful as a matter of human nature; or it could mean sabr in regard to separation from the Beloved, which is one of the great stations of the lovers --and to this we shall return later. Otherwise,sabr in regard to obedience or misfortune or sin is not only inapplicable in regard to them but also in regard to their followers (shi'ah).

The famous `arif `Abd al-Razzaq al-Kashani, in Sharh Manazil al sa'irin, says:

The intent of the Shaykh, when he says that sabr means abstinence from complaint, is complaining to creatures. Otherwise, complaining to God Almighty and beseeching Him for relief is not opposed to sabr. Hadrat Ayyub complained to God and said:

Behold, Satan has visited me with weariness and chastisement. (38:41)

And God yet praises him, saying:

Surely We found him. a steadfast man. How excellent a servant he was! He was penitent. (38:44)

And Hadrat Ya'qub (Jacob) said:

I make complaint of my anguish and my sorrow unto God, (12:86)

although he was one of the forebearing. Rather, to quit complaining to God is a manifestation of the hardening (of the heart) and a sign of grudgefulness.

The accounts of the lives of the great prophets and the Infallible Imams - upon all of whom be God's benedictions- reveal that although their stations were over and above the stations of sabr, rida and taslim (surrender), they never stopped supplicating lamenting and confessing their impotence before the Worshipped One. They expressed their needs to God Almighty and this is not contrary to their spiritual stations. Rather, remembering God, cherishing the intimacy of solitude with the Beloved, and expression of servitude and humility in front of His absolute perfection and greatness is the ultimate end of the hopes of the mystics (`arifun) and the final destination of the journey of the wayfarers (salikun).

The Results of Sabr:

You should know that sabr produces many results, among which is the soul's training and discipline. If a human being bears patiently with misfortunes and calamities for some time, if he seriously endures the hardships entailed by worship and rites and the bitterness arising from the renunciation of carnal pleasures, and if he does all this for the sake of obedience to his Lord and Provider, his soul gradually becomes accustomed to these things. Then it becomes disciplined(tamed) and docile and relinquishes its earlier recalcitrance. To bear with hardships and difficulties becomes an easy thing for it. There develops within it an enduring luminous faculty through which he can rise over the station of sabr to reach other higher spiritual stations. Sabr in regard to sins is the source of the self's taqwa. Sabr in regard to obedience (ta'at) is the source of intimacy with God. And sabr in misfortunes is the source of rids or contentment with Divine destiny(kismet) and decrees. These are the stations of the faithful (ahl al- iman) or rather those of the gnostics (ahl al-`irfan). In the noble traditions of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt we find forceful emphasis onsabr. The following is a tradition of al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) from the noble al-Kafi, in which the Imam says:

Verily, sabr is to faith what the head is to the body. The body perishes without the head, and so also when sabr goes faith also disappears? [7]

In another tradition whose isnad reaches al-'Imam al-Sajjad (A), he is reported to have stated:

Verily, sabr is to faith what the head is to the body: one who has no sabr has no faith .[8]

There are many traditions relating to this topic and we will mention some of them later in relevance with the context.

Sabr is the key to the gates of felicity and the main means of deliverance from mortal perils. Sabr makes man bear calamities with ease and face difficulties with composure. It strengthens the will and the power of resolution. It brings independence to the dominion of the soul. Anguish and worry(anxiety) on the other hand, aside from their shameful character, are symptoms of the soul's weakness. They deprive one's being of its stability, weaken the determination, and enfeeble the intellect. The informed researcher Khwajah Naqir al-Din al-Tusi - may God sanctify his soul - states:

Sabr restrains the inner being from anguish, the tongue from complaint and the bodily members from untoward movements.

On the contrary, the inward being of the impatient person is full of anxiety and alarm. His heart is full of tremors and shaky, and this. is itself the greatest calamity that can befall a human being and deprive him of peace. But sabr diminishes misfortune and makes the heart overcome hardship and assists the will to overpower calamities. In the same way, the impatient person complains of his troubles to everyone, and this, aside from causing disrepute among people who look down upon him as a weakling of instable character, makes him lose his standing in the court of the Holy Lord and in front of His angels. What faith in God and what surrender to the Holy Lord has the servant who cannot bear an adversity that visits him from his Beloved, the Absolute, after having received thousands upon thousands of His bounties and while being immersed in the sea of His favour, and opens his mouth in front of people to complain as soon as an adversity strikes him? So it is right if it is said that one who has nosabr has no faith.

If you have faith in your Lord and believe all the affairs to lie in His mighty hands, if you believe none else to have any say in the matters, of course you will not complain of the hardships of life and the adversities that strike you before God Almighty. Rather you will accept them willingly and thank Him gratefully for His bounties. Hence that inner agitation, those plaintive utterances, those unbecoming bodily movements - all these bear testimony to our lack of faith. As long as we find ourselves amid favours, we are thankful, with a gratefulness that is formal and lacking inner substance, a thankfulness that is offered in greed of further favours. However, when a tragedy occurs or a pain or disease strikes us, we take our complaints against the Blessed and the Almighty Lord in front of the creatures. With a plaintive tongue and a tone brimming with taunts and cynicism, we complain about Him to all and sundry. Gradually those complaints, anxieties and misgivings sow the seeds of hostility towards God and His decrees inside the self. Slowly they sprout and grow, making the once passing feeling into an enduring trait. Thereupon, God forbid, the form of one's inward being assumes the form of enmity towards God and His ordainments. When that happens, things go out of one's control and one is no longer able to check his thoughts and feelings. His inward and outward being becomes coloured with the hostility towards God Almighty, and he departs from this world to face eternal wretchedness and gloom, with a spirit infused with the enmity and hatred of the Lord of Bounties. I seek refuge in God from the evil of a disastrous end and from a provisional faith (iman mustawda`). Hence it has been truly said that when sabrgoes faith also departs.

And so, my dear, the matter is of great importance and the road is full of perils. Muster all the strength at your command and be patient and forbearing throughout the ups and downs of life. With manly courage stand against adversities and calamities. Make your self understand that agitation and anguish, aside from involving a great shame by themselves, are futile in confrontation with sufferings and calamities. No purpose is served by complaining about the irresistible decrees and inevitable ordainments of God in front of weak and powerless creatures, as pointed out by the following noble tradition from al-Kafi:

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni reports with his chain of transmitters from Sama'ah ibn Mihran from al-'Imam al-Kazim (A) that the Imam said to him, "What stopped you from going for hajj?" Sama'ah says that he replied, "May I be your ransom, a big debt has fallen upon me and I have lost my property. However, the debt that lies upon me weighed more heavily upon me than the loss of property. Had it not been for one of our companions, I could not have come out(loomed) of it." The Imam said, "If you are patient, you will be the object of envy, and if you don't God will enforce His decrees regardless of your pleasure or displeasure." [9]

Thus we know that anxiety(worry) and anguish are not only futile, they are capable of inflicting terrible(awful) injuries and are followed by fatal consequences destructive to faith. On the other hand, sabr, forbearance and restraint bring fair, plentiful rewards and have sublime and beautiful forms in the world of Barzakh. This is stated at the end of the noble tradition expounded by us:

 

Thus the ultimate result of qabr is good in this world - as known from the example of Hadrat Yusuf (A) - and it is the cause of reward in the Hereafter. In another noble tradition of al-Kafi, whose sanad goes up to Abu Hamzah al-Thumali - may God's mercy be upon him -al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said:

Abu Hamzah says: "Abu `Abd Allah said: `Whoever of the believers that bears patiently with a tribulation that befalls him, has the reward of a thousand martyrs.' " [10]

There are many traditions relating to this subject and we will mention some of them in the following section. However, as to that which was said above that sabr has a beautiful purgatorial form, this is mentioned - apart from the demonstrative proofs confirming it - in the following tradition of the noble al-Kafi from al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A):

The Imam (A) said: "When the believer enters his grave, salat is on his right hand, zakat on his left, virtue faces him, with sabr taking him under its shelter. When the two angels encharged with questioning enter upon him, sabr says to salat, zakat and virtue, `Take care of your companion, and if you fail to assist him I will take care of him myself.' " [11]

The Degrees and Levels of Sabr:

Let it be known to you that, as indicated by the noble traditions, there are various degrees and levels of sabr, and its reward and merit vary in accordance with its degree and level. This is revealed by the following tradition of the noble al-Kafi narrated by the Master of the God-fearing, Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali (A) from the Holy Prophet (S):

'Ali (A) said, "The Messenger of Allah said, 'Sabr Is of three kinds: sabr at the time of affliction, sabr in regard to obedience, and sabr In regard to disobedience. One who bears patiently with affliction, resisting it with a fair consolation, God writes for him three hundred degrees (of sublimity), the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between earth and heavens. And one who is patient in regard to obedience, God writes for him six hundred degrees (of sublimity), the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between the earth's depths and the Throne (al-'arsh). And one who is patient in regard to disobedience, God writes for him nine hundred degrees (of sublimity), the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between the earth's depths and the furthest frontiers of the Throne: " [12]

This noble tradition reveals that sabr in regard to disobedience is superior to the other levels of sabr, for it not only possesses greater number of degrees but also the range between its degrees is greater than those of the other kinds. It also shows that the extent of Paradise is much greater than what can come into our imagination, for our vision is limited and cramped. That which has been said as a description of Paradise that:

...And a Garden the breadth whereof is as the breadth of heaven and earth .... (57:21)

perhaps refers to the Paradise of deeds. That which has been referred to here in this noble tradition is the Paradise of character and the criterion in the Paradise of character is the strength and perfection of will. Hence its extent should not be cramped within any limits. Some have stated that that which has been meant here is height. That is, it is possibly equal in breadth (to the Paradise of deeds) and different in height. But this appears to be remote, for evidently `breadth' here refers to extent not to breadth as opposed to length, for `breadth' in reference to heaven and earth also has no meaning when taken in the ordinary sense of something opposed to length, although they do have `breadth' in the sense of a `second dimension' in the terminology of natural philosophers. The Book of God, however, does not speak in accordance with any specific terminology.

The noble al-Kafi records the following tradition of the Prophet (S) with a chain of narration reaching al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A):

The Imam (A) said: "The Messenger of Allah (S) said, `A time will come upon the people wherein political authority will not be attainable without bloodshed and tyranny, nor wealth without usurpation and stinginess, nor affection without discarding religion and pursuing lust and desire. Whoever lives in such times and bears patiently with poverty despite possessing the capacity to become rich (illegitimately), and bears up with hostility despite being capable of acquiring favour and affection, and bears with humiliation despite possessing the capacity to honour, God will give him the reward of fifty truthful ones, of those who confirmed me.' " [13]

Something close to this has been said in another tradition from Amir al Mu'minin (A) and there are many traditions relating to this theme. The few which have been quoted here are sufficient for our purpose.

The `Urafa's Degrees of Sabr:

Let it be known to you that that which has been said hitherto relates to the condition of ordinary people and the mutawassitun. We stated at the beginning of this exposition that sabr has been considered as something pertaining to the stations of the mutawassitun. But Sabr hays other levels which belong to the wayfarers of the path of perfection and the awliya'. One of such levels of sabr is sabr fi Allah (Sabr in God), and it means steadfastness (thabat) in spiritual endeavour (mujahadah) and abstinence from objects of love and attraction. Rather it means the renunciation of selfhood in the path of the Beloved. This stage belongs to the wayfarers (ahl al-suluk). Another level is that of sabr ma`a Allah (sabr with God). It belongs to those blessed with the Presence and the Beatific vision, which comes at the time of exit from the garment of manhood, and freedom from the curtains of deeds and attributes, and irradiation upon the heart of the lights of the Names and Attributes, and entry into the state of intimacy and awe and safeguarding of the self against changing from colour to colour and absence from the station of intimacy and vision.

Another level is that of sabr `an Allah (sabr from God) which pertains to the stations of lovers of God and piners for Him, of those blessed with epiphany (ahl al-shuhud wa al-`ayan) at the time of returning to their own world, the world of plurality and sobriety (after intoxication with God). This is the hardest and the most difficult of the stations, and to it has referred the Master of the Wayfarers, the Commander of the Faithful, and the Leader of the Perfect (i.e. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A) in the noble Du`a' Kumayl:

O my God, my Master and my Lord! Even if I were able to endure Thy chastisement, how shall I bear Thy separation?!

The following is narrated about al-Shibli:

It is narrated that a youth from among the Lovers questioned al-Shibli about sabr. "Which kind of sabr is the hardest?" He asked. "The sabr for God," replied al-Shibli. "No," said the youth. "The sabr by God," answered al-Shibli. "No," said the youth. "The sabr over God," said al-Shibli. "No,"said the youth again. "The sabr in God," said al-Shibli. "No," came the answer. "The sabr with God?" said al Shibii, and the youth said "No," again. "Woe to you, which one is it?" said al-Shibli, exasperated. "The sabr from God," came the answer. Al-Shibli gave a cry and swooned. [14]

Another level is that of sabr bi Allah, which is for those blessed with stability and steadfastness, which is attained after the state of sobriety and endurance with God (baqa' bi Allah) and after moulding oneself in accordance with Divine norms (takhalluq bi akhlaq Allah). It is something attained by none except the perfect, and since we have nothing to partake of those stations, to elaborate further about these matters is not appropriate for these pages.

And Praise is God's at the beginning and the end, and may God's benedictions be upon Muhammad and, his immaculate Progeny.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, Kitab al- iman wa al-kufr, bab al-sabr, 128. hadith No. 6.

[2]. Ibn al-'Athir, al-Nihayah, ii, 128.

[3]. Misbah al-Shariah, bab 100.

[4]. Ilal al-shari'ah, i, 165; Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, x, 29.

[5]. Ihya' al-ulum, iv, 14.

[6]. Ghwali al-lia'ili, iv, 7.

[7]. Usul al-Kafi, ii, bab al-sabr, 128, hadith No. 2.

[8]. Ibid., hadith No. 3.

[9]. Ibid., hadith No. 10.

[10]. Ibid.. hadith No. 17.

[11]. Ibid., hadith No. 8.

[12]. Ibid., hadith No. 15.

[13]. Ibid., hadith No. 12.

[14]. Sharh Manazil al-sa'irin, bab al-sabr, 88. No.28.

 

With a continuous chain of transmission reaching the pioneering leader(manager), a proof of the sect and a chief of the ummah, Mubammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni - may God be pleased with him - from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Isa, from, al-Hasan ibn Mahbub, from Mu'awiyah ibn Wahab, who said: "I heard Abu 'Abd Allah (A) says: 'When a servant turns to God with sincere repentance (tawbatan nasuhan), God loves him and covers him (i.e. his sins) in the world and the Hereafter.' I said, 'And how does He cover him? 'The Imam (A) replied, "He makes the two angels (assigned to write his deeds) forget that which they have written of his sins. Then He inspires(persuaded) his bodily members (saying), "Do conceal his sins," and He inspires the earth's places (saying), "Conceal the sins that he used to commit over you." Then he meets God, at the time that he meets Him, in such a manner that there is nothing to give witness against him regarding any sin." [1]

Exposition:

Know that tawbah (repentance) is one of the important as well as difficult stages, which signifies the return from (physical) nature (tabi'ah) to the soul's spirituality after that the light of (primordial) human nature (fitrah) and the spirit has been blinded by the darkness of carnal nature through sins and disobedience. To explain, the soul in its initial natural state (fitrah) is devoid of any kind of excellence, beauty, light or delight, in the same way as it is free from their opposites. It is like a blank tablet absolutely without any inscription. Neither it possesses any spiritual merits nor any vices. But there has been planted in it the sparks of capacity and capability to attain any kind of station. Its nature (fitrah) is straight and its essence carries intrinsic luminosity. But commission of sins causes obscurity within the heart and this obfuscation increases with the number of sins until it becomes totally darkened. The light of intrinsic nature is extinguished and changed into abiding wretchedness. But between these two states, before the onset of total darkness over the heart's tablet, if it awakes from its slumber of negligence, this state of awakening is followed by that of repentance. The benefit arising from this state - with the conditions to be mentioned, God willing, in the following pages - becomes complete and the soul returns from the darkness and obscurity of carnal nature to the light of original nature and its essential spirituality. In other words, it becomes again like a tablet devoid of virtues and vices., as mentioned in the famous hadith:

One who repents from sin is like one who has not sinned. [2]

This shows that tawbah in reality is a return from the domain of physical nature (tabi'ah) and its laws to the domain of spirituality and primordial nature (fitrah). Similarly, the reality of inabah is return from fitrah and spirituality to God and setting out and migrating from the soul's habitat to its ultimate destination. Hence the station of tawbah is prior to that of inabah and an elaboration of this point is not proper for these pages.

Tawbah and Postponement:

An important point whose awareness is necessary for the wayfarer of the path of guidance and salvation is that success in a complete and sound repentance, meeting all its conditions (to be mentioned), is a difficult thing and rarely attainable. The indulgence in sin, especially the major and mortal ones, causes man to become totally forgetful of tawbah. If the tree of sinfulness growing in the orchard of the human heart reaches maturity and fruition, its roots becoming strong, the results are calamitous, one of which is to turn away man totally from repentance. Even if once in a while it comes to his mind, he keeps on postponing it from day to day and from one month to another, telling himself, "I will make a sound repentance at the end of my life and in old age," forgetting that this is a Divine stratagem:

... And God is the best of devisers. (3:54)

Don't imagine that man can perform tawbah after the strengthening of the roots of sinfulness or meet its conditions. Therefore, the springtime for tawbah is the time of-youth when the sins are fewer, the inner darkness of the heart incomplete, the conditions of tawbah easier, and their fulfilment less difficult.

Moreover, man's greed is greater in old age and so also are his love of wealth,. ambition and his hopes. This is proved by experience and borne out by the Prophet's noble tradition. Even if it be admitted that man can succeed in performing tawbah in old age, there is no certainty of reaching old age and-of not meeting one's death in youth in the condition of habitual(routine) disobedience. The relative fewness of old people is also an indication of the fact that death is closer to the young. In a city of fifty thousand we do not see more than fifty octogenarians.

Therefore, my dear, beware of Satan's guiles and abstain from playing tricks with your Lord by telling yourself: "I will lead a life of lust for some fifty years or more, and will make amends for the past by asking His pardon." This is wishful thinking.

If you have heard or read in a tradition that God Almighty has favoured this ummah and accepts the repentance of its members until before the appearance of death or its signs, that is true. But alas, that is the time when the opportunity oftawbah is taken away from man. Do you think that tawbah is a mere verbal exercise? No, such is not the case; the performance of-tawbah requires effort and hardship. The return, as well as the determination to return, requires practical effort as well as the exercise of knowledge. Otherwise it rarely happens for a man, either to think of tawbah or to succeed in performing it, or to fulfil the conditions of its validity and acceptance, or the conditions of its perfection. And it often happens that death grants no respite for the thought of tawbah to occur, or for tawbah to materialize, as one is transferred from this habitat with the burden of weighty sins and their endless darkness. Then, only God knows what 'misfortunes and calamities befall him.

Even if it be assumed that one is ultimately destined to salvation and felicity in the Hereafter, the atonement of sins is not an easy task in that world. It entails terrible squeezes, hardships and burnings before one becomes worthy of the intercession (of the intercessors) and the mercy of the Most Merciful.

So, my dear, make up your mind as soon as possible and make firm(taut) your resolution and will. Repent from your sins so long as you are young and alive in this world. Don't let this God-given opportunity to slip(stumbled) away. Don't pay attention to satanic enticements and the tricks of the carnal self.

An Important Point:

Here it is also necessary to pay attention to another important point. The person who repents cannot completely recover(reclaim) that inward spiritual purity and that intellectual illumination (of those who abstain from sin) even after tawbah.Because a sheet of paper does not regain its former whiteness after being blackened and then cleaned with an erasor. It is difficult for a broken pot when repaired(mended) to recover(reclaim) its former condition. Great is the difference between a lifelong faithful and sincere friend and the friend who apologizes after betraying one.

Moreover, few are they who can correctly fulfil the duties of repentance.

Hence man should try as much as possible not to enter sin and disobedience, for the correction of the soul after its corruption is a difficult task. And if, God forbid, should such an adversity occur, one should try to take a curative step as soon as possible, for a slight damage is sooner and better repaired(mended).

My dear, do not pass by this stage nonchalantly' and indifferently! Meditate and reflect over your condition and your ultimate end. Turn to the Book of God, the traditions of the Seal of Prophets and the Imams of guidance - upon all of whom be God's salutations - to the utterances of the `ulama' of the Ummah as well as to the dictates of your own intellect and conscience. Do open this door, which is the key to all other openings, and enter this house which, for us, is the main abode of humanity. Consider it important and attend to it with care. Implore God, the Exalted and the Blessed, to grant you success in finding your cherished goal. Seek help from the spiritual station of the Noble Messenger and the Imams of guidance - upon all of whom be peace - and seek refuge in the Wali al-'Amr, the Age's Honour and its Leader (the Twelfth Imam) - may God hasten his appearance. Of course, that holy personage does assist the weak and the destitute and answer the call of the helpless.

The Essentials of Tawbah:

Let it be known to you that there are certain essentials and requirements of a thorough repentance without whose materialization an authentic repentance is not attained. We shall mention the main ones of these, which are essential.

One of them, which is the most essential, is regret and remorse for one's past sins and faults. Another is resolving not to make a return to their commission ever. These two, in fact, constitute the essential reality of tawbah and comprise its essential constituents. The main thing in this respect is the attainment of this state and the realization of this reality, which should take place in such a manner that man recognizes the effect of sins on the soul and its consequences in the world of Barzakh and the Day of Resurrection, both by means of rational reflection as well as from tradition. For it is a demonstrable truth for the 'urafa', which has also been mentioned in the traditions of the Household of Inerrancy -upon whom be peace - that sins have reified forms in Barzakh and at the time of Resurrection which correspond with those sins. They are endowed with a life and will of their own in that world and torment men awaringly and willfully. In the same way, the fire of Hell also burns men awaringly and willfully. That is because that realm is the realm of total life.

Hence in that world we shall encounter forms which are the result of our evil or good deeds. This matter has been often mentioned, expressly or implicitly, in the Holy Qur'an and the noble traditions. It is also in accordance with the creed of the emanationist philosophers and the experience and discoveries of the mystics and 'urafa. Similarly, every sin has an effect upon the soul that has been called al-nuqtat al-sawda' (a black spot) in traditions. It is an obfuscation which appears in the heart and the soul and grows gradually. Ultimately it may grow(flourish) to completion and lead man to disbelief, apostasy and everlasting wretchedness, as explained earlier.

Hence the intelligent man when he becomes aware of this fact and pays as much heed to the statements of the prophets andawliya' as to the advice of a physician and doctor, he would certainly abstain from sin and distance himself from it. And if, God forbid, he commits any he would turn away loathfully in penitence and his heart would be filled with remorse. The result that this remorse produces is something great and its effects are very beneficial. The determination to quit disobedience and sin is a consequence of this remorse.

If these two essential conditions are realized, the task of the wayfarer of the Hereafter becomes easier. God's graceful succour becomes his lot, and, in accordance with the explicit meaning of the holy verse:

... Verily God loves the repentant, (2:222)

as well as the present noble tradition, he becomes the beloved of God if he is sincere in his repentance.

And man should strive in the sincerity of his repentance with practical and meditative exercises and contemplative effort, realizing that being beloved of God is something priceless, beyond all worth. Only God knows what spiritual resplendence and what flares of perfection make up the Hereafterly form of that love, and only God, the Sublime and the Blessed, knows how He shall treat His beloved ones.

O man! How sinful and foolish thou art not to know the worth of the bounties of thy Provider (wali al-ni'am). After having spent years in disobedience and after prolonged disloyalty to such a Lord, Who has provided all the means of your reassurance and ease - without that being, na`udhu bi Allah, of any imaginable benefit to Him - having violated His sanctities and taken shamelessness and recalcitrance to their extreme, now that you are remorseful, penitent and repentant, God Almighty has taken you for His loved one. What abundance of mercy and what plentitude of bounty is it!

O God! We are incapable of thanking You for Your bounties. Our tongues and those of all other beings are unable to praise You and extol You. All that we can do is to bow our heads in shame and to ask Your pardon for our shamelessness. What are we to deserve Your mercy? Yet Your mercy is more abundant(luxuriant) and Your bounties are more inclusive than can be described. Indeed.

Thou art as Thou hast praised Thyself. [3]

And man should endeavour to intensify the form of contrition and remorse in the heart so that God willing, it enters the burning chamber. That is, through meditation about the terrible(awful) consequences of sin, remorse becomes stronger in his heart, thereby voluntarily kindling the holy fire, the fire of which the Qur'an says:

The fire of God kindled (roaring over the hearts covered down upon them, in columns outstretched). (104:6)

In his heart, burning the heart in the fire of remorse to incinerate all its sins and to burn away all its rust and corrosion. He should know that were he not to kindle himself this fire in this world and were he not to open upon himself the door of this hell - which itself is the main gateway of Paradise - he would inevitably pass from this world into the other to face the terribly(painfully) cauterizing fire prepared for him there. Thereupon the doors of Hell shall be opened and the doors of Paradise closed to him.

O God! Give us a breast lit with the fire of remorse. Set our hearts aflame with the worldly fire and set it afire by throwing into it the sparks of remorse. Remove the corrosion of our hearts and take us from this world in a state of freedom from the consequences of sins. Verily Thou art the Lord of bounties and are powerful over everything.

  

The conditions of Tawbah:

That which was mentioned in the section above were the essential requirements of tawbah. There are certain conditions for its acceptance, as well as for its perfection, that we shall mention below.

The main conditions for the acceptance of tawbah are two. So also there are two main conditions for its perfection. In this section we shall mention the noble utterance of Hadrat Mawla al-Mawali, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A), for, in fact, it is the essence of wisdom, being of the order of `speech of kings and king of speech':

It is narrated by al Sayyid al Radi - may God be pleased with him - in the Nahj al balaghah that some said 'Astaghfirullah (I seek God's forgiveness) before 'Ali (A). 'Ali said to him. "May thy mother mourn for thee! Do you know what is istighfar? Verilyistighfar is a degree of the 'illiyyun and it is a word that means six things. First is remorse over the past. Second, the resolution not to return to it ever. Third, to return to the creatures their rights (usurped in the past) so that you meet God Almighty in such a state of purity that no one has a claim against you. Fourth, that you fulfil every duty that was neglected(derelict) by you, in order to satisfy your obligation in respect of it. Fifth, that you attend to the flesh of your body that had grown on unlawful nourishment so that it melts away as a result of grief and mourning and the skin adheres to the bones, after which new flesh grows there between. Sixth, that you make your body taste the pain of obedience in the same way as it tasted earlier the pleasure of sinfulness. When you have done these things then say Astaghfirullah! [4]

This noble tradition mentions firstly two essential requirements of penitence, which are remorse and the resolution not to relapse into sin. Then it mentions the two important(remarkable) condition for its acceptance, which are returning the rights of creatures and then of the Creator. Tawbah is not accepted from anyone on the mere verbal declaration, 'I repent.' The penitent man is one who returns everything illegitimately taken from others. If anyone has a claim against him, he should satisfy it if possible, or his propitiation. He should discharge whatever divine obligations and duties that have remained unfulfilled, and if all of them cannot possibly be fulfilled he should try to make amends to the extent that he can. He should know that everyone of these is a claim with a claimant that would demand it of him in the other life in the hardest of conditions, and he would be unable to satisfy it without taking up the burden of others' sins and exchanging his good deeds for the satisfaction of those claims. At that time, he will be helpless and destitute and have no way out for his relief.

My dear, let not Satan and the carnal self take hold of you and make the matter appear an unsurmountable difficulty in your eyes and thus finish you off by making you refrain from tawbah. Do know that it is better to act in this regard even if to a small extent. If the unoffered prayers, fasts and atonements are many, if God's unfulfilled duties are numerous and the people's usurped rights are innumerable, if your sins are abundant and your vices are plenty, do not despair of God's grace and' do not lose hope in His mercy. God Almighty will facilitate your passage if you act to the extent of your capacity and He will show you the path of salvation. You should know that to despair of the mercy of God is the biggest of sins and I don't think that any other sin has a more evil effect upon the soul. A person that despairs of divine mercy, his heart is so full of gloom and he becomes so unbridled that nothing can correct him. Beware, lest you despair of God's mercy and consider sins and their consequences as unsurmountable. God's mercy is greater than everything and encompasses all things, and God's justice is not bound by conditions. What were you, to begin with? In the void of nothingness, when there was no question of capacity or worthiness, God, the Supreme and the Glorious, endowed you with the bounty of being and the excellences of existence without any request or prayer or any worthiness or capacity on your part. Then He provided you with His unlimited bounties and His unending favours, subjecting all the creatures to you. Even now your condition is not worse than absolute nothingness and pure non-being. Moreover, God has promised mercy and forgiveness. Take a step forward(onward) towards His Holy threshold and He will Himself assist you by all means. If you cannot make amends for the return of His rights, He will overlook your failure. If you cannot satisfy the rights of others, He will compensate for it. And you have already heard the story of the young grave-opener during the times of the Messenger of Allah - upon whom and whose Progeny be God's benedictions.

My dear, the path of God is easy and simple. All that it requires is some attentiveness. Postponement, delay, neglect and allowing the sins to pile up day after day is what makes the matter difficult. But resolute action and decision to set aright the affairs of the soul makes the path shorter and the task easier. Make an experiment by taking some action. If you achieve results, the truth of this matter will be proved to you. Otherwise the path of perversion is open and the hands of your sinfulness are long.

The other two things mentioned by Amir al-Mu'minin (A) are the conditions for a perfect tawbah and a thorough penitence. Not that tawbah is not realized or accepted without them, rather it does not become perfect in their absence.

Let it be known to you that everyone of the stations (manazil) of the wayfarers has stages (maratib)which differ in accordance with the state of their hearts. If the penitent person wants to attain to its perfect degree, after having attended to the omissions - i.e. after having made good for the neglect of the duties-he should now attend to the accretions also. That is, he must now take up the spiritual accretion d during the days of sinfulness. That takes place by completely wiping out the physical and spiritual effects produced in the realm of the self so that the soul recovers its former refinement and its primordial, natural spirituality by a process of thorough purification. As you already know, every sin and pleasure produces an effect upon the soul in the same way as the body too derives nourishment from some of them. Hence the penitent person should with manly courage and determination exterminate all those effects and their traces through physical and spiritual austerities, as taught by Mawla 'Ali (A).

Thus through physical austerities and abstinence from pleasures and dietary luxuries, through obligatory or supererogatory fasting, he should remove the flesh that accumulated in his body through sin or during his sinful days. By means of spiritual exercises, worship and ritual devotions he must attend to the accretions of carnal nature. This is because the forms of physical pleasures still linger in the soul, and as these forms are present there the carnal self is inclined toward them and the heart is infatuated with them and it is feared that, God forbid, the self would rebel again and snatch away its reins.

Hence it is necessary for the wayfarers of the Hereafterly path and the penitent from sins to make the soul taste the pain of austerities and worship. If a night was spent in sin and licentiousness, that must be compensated with a night's watch devoted to the worship of God. If a day was spent in corporeal pleasures, that must be compensated with fasts and appropriate devotional rites. This is necessary so that the soul may be completely purged of the effects arid traces of the attachments arising from the love of the world. If this is done, tawbah, of course, becomes perfect arid the soul's primordial brilliance returns to it. Throughout the course of such exercises he must contemplate and meditate upon, the consequences of sin, the severity of God Almighty's might, the accuracy(exactness) of the Balance of deeds, and the intensity of the chastisement ofBarzakh and Resurrection. He must understand and make his self and heart understand that all these things are consequences and forms of one's vicious deeds, of opposition to the King of kings. It is hoped that after this knowledge and reflection the soul will loath sins and detest them with a complete and total hatred, thus attaining the intended result of tawbah, which now becomes perfect and complete.

Those two stages thus are what make the station of tawbah perfect and complete. Of course, when man at first wishes to enter the station of tawbah, he must not think that he is required to reach the last of stages, so that the path appears to him to be full of difficulty and hardship and he decides to leave off once for all. To whatever extent the wayfarer of the path of Hereafter is able to traverse this path, it is good and desirable to that extent. After that, when he sets out on the path, God Almighty makes the journey easy for him. Hence the difficulty of the journey must not stop one from setting out towards his destination. For the goal is very great and important, and once one understands the greatness of the goal the hardships of the path become easy and bearable. Tell me, what goal is higher than eternal salvation, joy and bless? What peril is greater than eternal wretchedness and damnation? By shunning tawbah or postponing it and delaying it one may subject oneself to eternal wretchedness, unending punishment and everlasting damnation, and by performing it one may obtain absolute felicity and become the beloved of God. Hence if the goal is so great, why should one be scared of a few days' hardship?

You should know that whatever action one can take, even if little, is gainful. Compare the matters of the Hereafter with worldly affairs, wherein the worldly wise, if they are incapable of attaining their highest objective, do not desist from reaching a lower goal. If an objective cannot be obtained in its totality, that does not prevent them from attaining it partially. You too, if you are incapable of attaining this objective to its perfect degree, should not give up the principal goal itself. Try to achieve it to the extent that is possible for you.

The Result of Istighfar:

Of the things in respect of which it is necessary for the penitent person to act is taking refuge in the forgiveness of God Almighty and attainment of the state of istighfar. Openly and secretly, mournfully and pleadingly, in solitude, with lamentation, tears and wails of woe, he should implore the forgiveness of His Sacred Essence to cover his sins and wipe out their consequences. Of course, the forgivefulness and the veiling grace of that Sacred Essence implies the coating of defects and forgiveness of the sins' consequences. And since the spiritual forms of deeds are like a man's offspring, or something even more closely linked to him, and since the reality of tawbah and the form of istighfar is tantamount to disowning and cursing (li`an), God Almighty, since He is the All-forgiving and the Veiler, dissociates those offsprings of the penitent from him on account of his li'an and separates them from him.

Thereupon He obscures that sin from the sight(prospect) to all those beings that have come to know about his sin, including the angels and the notaries of offences, the time and the place of its commission, as well his own bodily members and organs, and makes them forget it, as pointed out in the noble tradition which says:

He makes His two angels forget that which they have recorded of his sins.

And possibly God Almighty's `inspiring' the bodily members and organs, as well as the earth's locations, to conceal(bury) the sins, as mentioned in the noble tradition, is the same as the erasing of the sins from their memory. It is also possible that it means a command to abstain from giving testimony. Or perhaps that which is meant is the obliteration of the effects of sins from bodily members, whose presence amounts to their existential witness, so that if one did not perform tawbah every one of his organs, either with the tongue of statement or condition, would bear testimony to his deeds.

As it is, God's station of forgivefulness and His veiling grace have required that now that we are in this world our organs and members abstain from giving testimony about our deeds and time and space conceal our actions. In the same way, if we leave this world with genuine tawbah and sincere istaghfar, they will conceal our deeds, or our deeds will be totally obscured for them. And perhaps the second explanation is more in order in view of the God Almighty's magnanimity, so that the penitent human being is not ashamed in front of anyone. And God knows best.

On the Interpretation of Tawbah Nasuh:

You should know that there is difference of opinion regarding the interpretation of the term tawbah nasuh and a concise(brief) mention of it is suitable here. Here we will confine ourselves to translating the words of the greater researcher al-Shaykh al-Bahai - may God sanctify his soul.

The informed traditionist al-Majlisi - may God have mercy upon him - quotes al-Shaykh al-Baha'i as having said that the exegetes have given several meanings of tawbatan nasuh. According to one of them, it means a tawbah that 'advise' the people, that is invites them to simulate him on account of the good effect produced in its performer, or that it `counsels' its performer to root out sins and to never return to their commission.

Another interpretation is that tawbah nasuh is a tawbah which is done purely (khalis) for God's sake, in the same way as pure honey free from wax is called `asal nasuh. And sincerity means that the remorse should be on account of the ugliness of sins or because they are contrary to God's good pleasure, not for the fear of hellfire.

The honourable researcher al-Tusi has ruled in the Tajrid that a remorse felt for sins on account of the fear of hellfire is nottawbah at all.

According to another interpretation, nasuh is related to nasabah, which means tailoring, because tawbah sews together the body of faith torn by sin, or because it joins the penitent person to God's awliya' and His lovers in the same way as separate pieces of cloth are joined together by tailoring.

According to yet another interpretation, `nasuh' here is an attribute of the penitent and is linked to tawbah in a metaphorical manner. That is, tawbah nasuh is a tawbah whose performer counsels and advises himself to perform it as perfectly and completely as it is worthy of being performed until the effects of sins are totally purged from the heart, which is attained by making the soul melt with regret and grief and by clearing the darkness of vices by the light of virtues.

All Beings are Endowed with Life and Knowledge:

Let it be known to you that there are certain realities, mysteries and subtleties for tawbah, and there is a specific tawbahparticular to his own station for every one of the wayfarers of the path towards God. And since we do not partake of those stations, an elaboration of their details is not proper for these pages. Therefore it is better to conclude this discourse with the mention of a point inferable from the noble tradition, which is also in accordance with the literal meanings of the verses of the Noble Qur'an and a large number of traditions scattered(sprinkled) through various chapters. That point is that every one of the existents is possessed of knowledge, life and consciousness. Rather, all the existents possess the marifah (gnosis) of the station of God, the Glorious and the Sublime. The inspiration imparted to bodily organs and members and the earth's locations regarding the concealment (of sins) and their obedience to divine commands, the tasbih of all existents referred to expressly in the Glorious Qur'an and with the mention of which things the noble traditions are replete - all these are proof of their knowledge, cognition and life. Rather, they constitute the proof of a special relation between the Creator and the creation, of which none has any knowledge except the Sacred Essence of God Almighty and those who it pleases Him should know.

And this is itself one of the teachings that the Noble Qur'an and the traditions of the inerrant Imams have imparted to mankind, which is also in agreement with the views of the emanationist philosophers and the mystics, as well as the experience of the mystics. In the sublime science of metaphysics it has been proved that existence is identical with divine Excellences, Names and Attributes and at whatever level they manifest themselves and are reflected in a mirror, the manifestation is accompanied with all the aspects and excellences, including life, cognition and the rest of the seven main Attributes. And every one of the phases of manifestation of the reality of being and every level in the descendence of the light of the perfect beauty of the Deity has a special relation with the One, through which it has the secret gnosis of the Lord, as stated in the noble verse.

...There is no creature that crawls, but He takes it by the forelock. (11:56)

It is said that huwa (He) refers to the mystery of Divine Ipsiety, and `the taking by the forelock' is the same mysterious(uncannily), secret primordial existential relation the way to whose cognition is closed to all existents.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr, bab al-tawbah, hadith No. 1.

[2]. Ibid., hadith No. 10.

[3]. Mujam al- ahadith al-Nabawiyyah, i, 304.

[4]. Nahj al-balaghah, ed. Subhi al-Salih, Beirut 1387(1967), p.549, Hikam, No. 417.

 

...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]

Exposition:

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(far apart)  ?' 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(apt) 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(fable). 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(rivalry) 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 thedhikr 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(build) 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(hedge), 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 thedhikr 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 ofdhikr, is also beneficial. For it means, firstly, that the tongue carries out its obligation, although its movement(bustle) 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(vociferous). The point that is concealed in the repetition of the adhkar is that thereby the tongue of the heart is opened, and its sign(beckoned) is that thereafter the tongue follows the heart and the hardship and strain(drag) 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(fluent), 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 malakutexcept 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(arrival)  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(unproductive) 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 amursal 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(Desperation ) 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.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, ii, kitab al-du'a', bab ma yajib min dhikr Allah fi kulli majlis, hadith No.4.

[2]. Ahmad ibn Fahd. 'Uddat al-dai, 242.

[3]. Al-Kafi, ii, kitab at-du'a', bab ma yajib min dhikr Allah fi kulli majlis, hadith No. 1.

[4]. Ibid., hadith No. 3.

[5]. Jami' al-'ahadith, kitab al-salat, hadith No. 3487.

[6]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, xv, hadith No. 28901.

[7]. Al-Kafi, ii, kitab al-du'a', bab dhikr Allah fi al-sirr, hadith No.3.

[8]. Ibid., bab al-'ishtighal bi dhikr Allah, hadith No.l.

[9]. 'Uddat al-da'i, 238.

 

   


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