Thursday 30th of March 2023
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Liqa' Allah and Its Character

Know that the number of verses and traditions which refer to liqa' Allah, either explicitly or implicitly, is quite large and their full details cannot be contained in this brief exposition. However, we shall briefly refer to some of them, and anyone seeking further details should refer to the Risaleh-ye liqa' Allah of the marhum gnostic of God, al-Hajj Mirza Jawad Tabrizi-may God sanctify his soul-wherein traditions concerning this theme have been gathered to a certain extent.

Know that some `ulama' and exegetes have totally blocked the path of liqa' Allah and denied (die possibility of) direct experience of the revelations (tajalliyat) of the Divine Names and Essence. Imagining that they were affirming the transcendence of the Sacred Essence as lying beyond all anthropomorphic and physical qualities, they have interpreted all the verses and traditions mentioning liqa' Allah as the encounter with the Last Day and Judgement, its reward and punishment. Although such an interpretation of the general import of liqa' is not very far-fetched in relation to certain verses and traditions, it is certainly(undeniably) an implausible and far-fetched interpretation in relation to some reliable supplications and traditions mentioned in trustworthy books as well as in relation to some well-accepted (mashhur) traditions which have been relied upon by great `ulama'.

One should know that the intent of those who have kept open the path of liqa' Allah and the beatific vision (mushahadah) of Divine Glory and Beauty, is not that it is permissible to fathom the mystery of the Divine Essence or that it is possible to encompass in direct knowledge ('ilm huduri) and in immediate spiritual experience the Essence, which encompasses absolutely everything.

Rather, the impossibility of fathoming the Divine mystery through universal knowledge ('ilm-e kulli) and by the means of rational thought and the impossibility of encompassing It in mystic experience (irfan-e shuhudi) and by the means of esoteric insight is an established matter, to which all people of the intellect (i.e. philosophers) as well as those of mystic knowledge and experience(arbab-e ma`arif wa qulub) are unanimous in agreeing. However, those who claim the possibility of such a station state: Following the attainment of a complete and consummate state of God-fearing(taqwa), a total turning away of the heart from all the worlds and repudiation of both the realms of life (i.e. the pleasures of the world as well as that of the Hereafter), after trampling the heads of egoism and egocentrism under one's feet, and following complete attention and total absorption in God and the Names and Attributes of that Sacred Essence, after immersion in the love and passion for the Sacred Essence, and following austerities of the heart, a purity and burnish is attained by the wayfarer's heart, which receives the revelations of the Names and the Attributes. Thereupon the thick veils that lie between the devotee and the Names and the Attributes are removed and he becomes annihilated in the Names and the Attributes, becoming "attached to the Mightiness of Sanctity and Glory" and attaining complete nearness (tadall'i) to the Essence. In this state, there is no veil between the consecrated soul of the wayfarer and the Truth except the Names and the Attributes.

For some of the wayfarers of the Path, the luminous veil of the Names and the Attributes may also be removed, whereupon they attain to the Hidden tajalliyat of the Essence, beholding themselves attached and close to the Sacred Essence, and, in this vision, they perceive the sustaining encompassment of the Truth (ihateh-ye qayyumi-ye Haqq) and their own essential annihilation(fana'-e dhati). Then, he clearly views his own being, as well as that of all other existents, as a shadow of the Divine Being. As-in accordance with metaphysical proof-there is no veil between God and the First Creature, which is non-material and free from all forms of matter and attachments (rather, according to metaphysical proofs there is no veil for non-material beings in general), so is die heart that in its expansive and encompassing character has been elevated to the plane of non-material beings. Rather, it walks on the heads of those beings and there is no veil for it, as mentioned in this sacred tradition reported in al-Kafi and al-Tawhid:

Verily, the spirit of the possessor of faith is more firmly attached to the Spirit of Allah than the sun's ray is attached to it. [3]

In the Munajat Sha`baniyyah, which are accepted as authentic by the `ulama' and whose very contents bear witness to the authenticity of their origin in those sacred personages (i.e. the Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt -may peace be upon them), this is how they supplicate:

My God, grant me perfect absorption in Thee and illumine the sight of our hearts with the light of its vision of Thee, until the sight of the hearts pierces the veils of the light and reaches the stores of Majesty and our spirits become attached to the Mightiness of 'My Sanctity.

My God, make me one of those whom Thou callest and who respond to Thee, whom Thou regardest and who swoon with awe before Thy Glory, and to whom Thou whisperest secretly and who act for Thy sake openly. [4]

And while recounting the heavenly ascension (miraj) of the Noble Messenger-may God's benedictions be upon him and his Household -God declares in the Noble Divine Scripture:

Then drew near and suspended hung, two bows' length away or nearer .... (53:8-9)

This direct experience of extinction (fana') is not contrary to the impossibility of fathoming and encompassing (the Divine Essence), nor does it conflict with the verses and traditions that assert Divine transcendence. Rather, it supports and conforms them.

Now see if there is any need to take resort in such far-fetched and insipid interpretations. Can one interpret this statement of Amir al-Mu'minin-may peace be upon him-when he says:

Even if it be supposed that I would be able to bear 'My chastisement, how shall I bear the pain of Thy separation? [5]

and those lamentations and wailings of the awliya' as being for the sake of houris and palaces? Shall we explain the laments of separation of those who used to declare that "we don't worship God for the fear of hell, nor for the desire of paradise, but we worship him as free men should , purely because God is worthy of worship" as being on account of separation from paradise and its foods, drinks and pleasures? Alas! What a preposterous thing to say, and what a most unseemly interpretation! Is it possible to say that the revelations of Divine Beauty on the Night of the Ascent, in the meeting wherein no other creature was present and of whose secrets even Gabriel, the one entrusted with the Revelation, was kept out, were represented by Paradise and its raised-up mansions? That these constituted `the lights of Divine Majesty and Glory' and the disclosure of God's favours? Were the tajalliyat experienced by the prophets-may peace be upon them-as mentioned in reliable supplications, bounties of the order of foods, drinks, gardens and castles?

Alas! We, wretches entrapped in the dark veils of corporeal nature and entangled in the chains of petty hopes and expectations, understand nothing except food, drink, sex and the like. And should we come across a man of vision and someone with a heart who attempts to heave the curtain from these veils, we consider it an error and affront. As long as we remain imprisoned in the dark pit of the world of mulk, we would not be able to apprehend anything of the gnostic teachings (ma'arif)and the experiences of those adept in them. So, my dear, don't compare the awliya' to yourself and don't imagine the hearts of the prophets and those of the people of the ma'arif to be like these dismal hearts of ours. Our hearts are covered with the dusts of attachment to the world and its mundane lusts. The impurity resulting from immersion in lusts does not allow them to become the mirror of Divine revelations wherein the beauty of the Beloved is reflected. Of course, with this egoism, this self-seeking and narcissism of ours, we shouldn't be able to make out anything of thetajalliyat of God, the Most Exalted, and His Beauty and Glory. Given this state of ours, we should be such ones as refute the words of the awliya' and the people of marifah, and even if we should refrain outwardly from denouncing them as false, we would still consider them false in our hearts. And should there be no way for negating their truth-as when one is convinced of the truth of the statements of the Messenger and the Infallible Imams, may peace be upon them-we would open the door of ta'wil and interpretation and, in a word, block the door to the knowledge (marifah) ofGod. Thus we interpret this (saying of 'Ali):


I did not see a thing without beholding God with it, before it, and in it,

as implying the vision of the effects (of God's omnipotence). We explain (these words of `Ali-may peace be upon him):

I did not worship a Lord that I did not see, [6]

as implying the knowledge of universals, similar in nature to our own knowledge. We interpret the verses mentioning liqa' Allah as signifying the encounter with the Day of Judgement, and take the tradition (of the Prophet-may God's benedictions be upon him and his Household):

I have a state with God ...,

as signifying a tender feeling of the heart, and the words of the supplication:

And bestow upon me the vision of 'Thy Noble Face,

and all the lamentations of the awliya' and their wails of separation as arising from the pain of separation froth the houris of paradise and its fowl! And the reason behind all these interpretations is that we are not champions of this field; we understand nothing except bestial and bodily pleasures, and our nescience prompts us to repudiate all the ma arif. This denial is the worst of all calamities, which locks upon us the door to all the higher teachings, keeps us from seeking, and make us remain satisfied at the level of bestial and beastly existence, depriving us of entry into the hidden realms and obstructing us from Divine lights. It keeps us, wretched ones that we are, totally deprived from experiencing the tajalliyat-even from faith in the reality of these spiritual states, a faith which by itself constitutes a degree of spiritual merit and which might have taken us somewhere.

We even evade the (theoretical) knowledge which might have served as the seed of (mystic) experience, and completely close our eyes and ears, stuffing the cotton of neglect into our ears lest a word of truth should enter them. If we hear any of the truths from the mouth of a passionate'arif or a heart-broken wayfarer, or a theosopher (hakim-e muta'allih ), immediately we make him the target of all kinds of curses and insults, calling him an apostate and a profligate, refraining not from any kind of slander and backbiting in regard to him, because our ears cannot bear to hear his words and self-love prevents us from realizing our own inadequacies. Alas, we bequeath a book aswaqf, binding its user with the condition that he should curse, hundred times a day, the mathumMulla Muhsin Fayd (Kashani)! We call Sadr al-Muta'allihin (Mulla Sadra), who is the foremost of the adherents of tawhid, a heretic (zindiq) and do not stop at any insult in regard to him. There is no trace of any inclination towards Sufism in all of his books. Rather, he has written a book entitledKasr asnam al jahiliyyah fi al-radd `ala al-Sufiyyah ("Demolition of the idols of the Jahiliyyah, on the refutation of the Sufis"); yet we call him "a Sufi through and through." We leave those who are of a known character and have been cursed by the tongues of God and His Messenger-may God's benedictions be upon him and his Household-and call down curses upon those who loudly proclaim their faith in God, in the Messenger and the Imams of guidance-may peace be upon them. I know that these curses and insults do not spoil their station in the least, or, rather, perhaps, increase their fair reward with God and cause the elevation of their degrees. But these things are injurious for ourselves and may result in depriving us of Divine assistance and bring about our failure.

Our shaykh, an accomplished `arif that he was (i.e. Shahabadi) may my soul be his ransom-used to say: "Never call down curses (la`n) on anybody, though he be a kafir concerning whom you do not know how he made the transit from this world to the next, and unless an infallible wali informs you concerning his condition after death. For it is possible that he may have attained faith before the time of death. Hence let your curse be of a general character."

Here is one who has such a sacred spirit that he would not permit anyone who has died an apparent unbeliever to be insulted(offended), for the probability that he might have d faith at the time of death, and there are the like of us! And only to God do I take my complaint ()that the preacher of a certain city, though a man of learning and merit, used to say in the presence of scholars and the learned that so and so "used to read the Qur'an despite being a metaphysician." It is like saying, "So and so believed in God and Resurrection despite being a prophet"! I, too, do not put much of a store by mere knowledge, and a learning that does not bring faith with it is the greatest of veils. However, one has to approach a veil in order to tear it into shreds.

The sciences are seeds of (spiritual) experience. Although it is possible, at times, that one may attain to higher spiritual stations without encountering the veils of learned jargon and the sciences, but such a thing is unusual, contrary to the wont of natural law and happens only rarely. Hence, the way to God-seeking is that one should at the outset devote his time to the remembrance of God and the knowledge of God and the Names and Attributes of that Sacred Essence, the usual way from the adept (mashayikh) of that science. Then, by the means of theoretical and practical exercises and austerities, he should open his heart to the ma'arif, and this will undoubtedly yield results. If he is not one of those familiar with the learned jargon, he can obtain results through the remembrance of the Beloved and by preoccupying his heart and mind with that Sacred Essence. Of certain, this preoccupation of the heart and inward attention will become the means of his guidance, and God, the Exalted, will assist him. The concealing curtains will rise from before his eyes and he will somewhat retreat, from those vulgar forms of skepticism. And, perhaps, he may find his way to the ma'arif with the special grace of God Almighty. Indeed He is the Lord of bounties ().


2. Death-The Moment of Truth:

This sacred tradition indicates that at the time of confronting death some of his stations and conditions become revealed to man. This matter is in conformity with a kind of metaphysical proof and in agreement with the experience of mystics as well as with traditions and other reports. As long as man is preoccupied with the cultivation of this mundane realm and the face of his heart is turned towards this habitat and the intoxicant of carnal nature has made him unconscious and the opiates of lust and power stupefy him, he remains totally in the dark concerning the (malakuti)forms of his conduct and morals and blind to their effects in the malakut of the heart. But when the reelings of death and its pressures seize him, he attains a measure of detachment from this world. And if he is a man of faith and of conviction whose heart has been turned towards these realms, at the last moments his heart naturally turns towards that world and the spiritual inductors and the angels of God assigned over it (i.e. the heart) also induct him towards that world. After this induction and that detachment, a part of the world of barzakh is revealed to him and a window to the world of the Hidden is opened upon him. Then his own state and station is disclosed to him to some extent, as is narrated from Amir al-Mu'minin-may peace be upon him that he said:

It is prohibited that any soul should leave this world without, knowing whether it belongs to the people of paradise or the people of hell.? [7]

In this context, there is a sacred tradition which we will mention in its entirety despite its length because it contains good news for the adherents of the wilayah of the Master of the Masters (Mawla al-mawali, i.e. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib) and those holding on to the skirts of the magnanimity of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt-may peace be upon them. This hadith has been narrated by the venerable Fayd Kashani in his book Ilm al-yaqin:

It is narrated in the Book of al-Husayn ibn Said al-'Ahwazi, from `Abbad ibn Marwan that he said: "I heard Abu 'Abd Allah-may peace upon him-say: `By God, your works will be accepted and your sins will be forgiven. There is nothing that intervenes between anyone of you and his becoming the object of envy and his seeing the delight and experiencing the

·  reassurance

of your eyes except the moment when your soul reaches this point.' And saying this he pointed with his hand to his throat. Then he-may peace be upon him-said: `And when that moment arrives, at the time of death, the Messenger of Allah-may Allah's benedictions be upon him and his House-hold-`Ali, the Imams, Gabriel, Michael and the Angel of Death-may peace be upon them-become present before him. Then Gabriel [8]-may peace be upon him-approaches him and says to the Messenger of Allah-may Allah's benedictions be upon him and his Household: "This one used to love you, Ahl al-Bayt, so hold him dear." Whereupon the Messenger of Allah-may Allah's benedictions be upon him and his Household-says: "O Gabriel, indeed this one used to love God, His Messenger and his Household, and I (too) hold him dear." Then Gabriel says (to the Angel of Death): "O Angel of Death, this one used to love Allah, His Messenger and the Household of the Messenger, so hold him dear and be gentle to him."

"`Then the Angel of Death-may peace be upon him-says (to the dying person): "O creature of God, have you secured your release and your security and amnesty? Did you hold on to the great handhold in the life of the world," Whereupon, with God's succour, he declares: "Yes". "What is it? " The Angel of Death asks him. "(It is) the wilayah of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib-may peace be upon him," He replies. The Angel says, "You have told the truth. God has granted you security from what you were frightened of and you have attained what you used to hope for. Receive the good news of the companionship of the righteous predecessors and of the Messenger of Allah-may Allah's benedictions be upon him and his Household-and the Imams of his progeny-may peace be upon them."

"`Then he gently withdraws his soul and brings down his shroud from paradise, and his balm (hunut) is that of fragrant musk. Then he wraps him in that shroud and embalms him with thathunut and clothes him in a yellow dress from among the garments of paradise. Then, when he is laid in his grave, a door from among the doors of paradise is opened for him and its freshness and fragrance enters upon him. Then he is told, "Sleep, like the sleep of a bride on her bed. Receive the glad news of the freshness and fragrance of the Garden of bounties and of an unwrathful Lord. "'

"Al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-continued: `And when an unbeliever encounters the moment of death, the Messenger of Allah-may Allah's benedictions be upon him and his household-`Ali, the Imams, Gabriel, Michael and the Angel of Death-may peace be upon them-become present before him. Then Gabriel approaches him and says: "O Messenger of Allah, verily this one used to detest you, Ahl al-Bayt, so hold him in resentment." Thereupon the Messenger of Allah-may Allah's peace and benedictions be upon him and his Household-says: "O Gabriel, indeed this one used to hate God, His Messenger and the Messenger's Household, so you too be resentful towards him." Thereat Gabriel declares: "O Angel of Death, indeed this one used to hate God, His Messenger and the Household of His Messenger -may peace be upon them-so you too be resentful of him and be harsh towards him. "

"`Then the Angel of Death approaches the dying person and says: "O creature of God, did you secure your release and your security and amnesty? Did you hold on to the great handhold in the life of the world? " He answers: "No". Whereupon the Angel of Death tells him: "O enemy of God! Receive the tiding of God's wrath and of His punishment and fire. You have lost what you hoped for and that which you used to be afraid of has descended upon you." Then the Angel draws his soul violently and hands it over to three hundred devils who throw their spittle on his face and he is tormented with its stench. And when he is laid in his grave, a door from among the doors of hell is opened for him and its blaze and flames enter upon him."" [9]

It should be known that the barzakh of everyone is representative of his condition on the Day of Resurrection and that the world of barzakh is an intermediate world between this world and the world of Resurrection, where there is a window opening towards paradise or hell, as mentioned in this noble tradition. The famous prophetic tradition:

The grave is either a garden from among the gardens of paradise or a pit from among the pits of the Fire, [10]

refers to the same matter. Hence, at the time of death and confrontation with it, man observes the effects and forms of his works and hears the news of paradise or hell from the Angel of Death. And when these things become revealed to him, he also observes the effects produced by his works and deeds in his heart, such as luminosity and expansiveness and openness of the breast, or their opposites such as darkness and constriction of the breast and its narrowness. Then, when confronted with barzakh, the heart becomes prepared to experience the subtle breezes of Divine Grace and Beauty in it. Therein emerge the signs of the tajalliyat of Divine Grace and Beauty if he is a man of faith and felicity. Then the desire for liqa' Allah emerges in his heart and the fire of yearning for the Beloved's Beauty is lit in it, if he had partaken of virtuous conduct, love and Divine passion, and none except God knows what delights and beneficences lie in this tajalli and desire.

If he had been one of the faithful and the righteous, he will be bestowed of the beneficence of God, the Exalted, in proportion to his faith and good works and he will get an immediate glimpse of it at the time of death. 'Thereupon, the eagerness for death and encounter with Divine beneficence arise in him and he leaves this world with delight and ecstasy and in relief and freshness. The corporeal eyes and the earthly organs of taste do not have the strength to bear the pleasures of this ecstasy and delight.

But if he should be one of the wretched, an infidel, an unbeliever or a hypocrite, and perpetrator of ugly and evil deeds, he will, in accordance with the measure of his evil share and misconduct in the world, discover the effects of Divine Wrath and Might and see the abode of die wretched. Such terror and convulsions will seize him that nothing will be more hateful for him than the revelations of Divine Glory and Might. As a result of this hate and hostility, he will experience such an affliction, anguish, darkness and pain that none except God's Sacred Essence can know the extent of its intensity. This is for persons who have in this world repudiated the truth and been hypocrites and enemies of God and His awliya'. A representative part of the hell becomes revealed also to the sinners and those guilty of major sins in proportion to the evil character of their misconduct, and in this state there is nothing more loathsome for them than to leave this world. And so they are transferred from it violently and harshly, with hardship and pain, and such a regret grips their hearts that it knows no measure.

This description shows that at the time of death man beholds that which had been in him and of which he was unaware. At that time the tips of the concealed part of his being become visible to him. The life of the world was a concealing curtain that hid our defects and was a veil for the people of the ma`arif. Now that this curtain has been lifted and this veil has been removed, man observes a representative part of that which lay in him and that which he himself had prepared. In the other realms man will not face any punishment or chastisement except on account of that which he earns in this world. He will have a direct vision of the (malakuti) forms of the righteous works and virtuous conduct that he had performed and the right convictions that he had held in this world, together with the gifts that God will bestow upon him out of His own favour and munificence. Under the noble verse:

And whoso has done an atom's weight of good shall see it and whoso has done an atom's weigh t of evil shall see it, (99: 7-8)

the following statement (of Ibn Mas'ud) is quoted in Tafsir al-Safi from Majma'al-bayan: [11]

It is the `firmest' of the verses of the Qur'an, and the Messenger of Allah-may Allah's benedictions be upon him and his Household-used to call it "al jami'ah. "

Hence we should know that if we cultivate the love of God, the Exalted, and His awliya' in this world and put on the collar of obedience to that Sacred Essence around our necks and receive the burnish of Divine light in our hearts, at the time of death this inward reality will be revealed to us in its beautiful (malakuti) form. Contrarily, if our hearts take on a mundane aspect and turn away from God, the seed of the enmity of God and the awliya' may come to be gradually sown in them. Then, at the sight of death, this enmity will reveal its intensity and divulge its terrible and strange qualities, as you have seen.

Hence one of the most important things for man is to take care to cultivate a Divine state in the heart and orient its face toward God, His awliya', and the abode of His favour. This can be attained by contemplating the bounties and favours of the Sacred Essence and devoting oneself to His obedience and worship. But one should not rely upon oneself and one's works. At all times, especially in moments of solitude, one must tearfully and humbly implore God to put His love in his heart and to illuminate his heart with the light of His knowledge and love, purging it of the love of the world and of everything other than Him. Of course, this prayer is a substanceless and verbal exercise in the beginning, for it is very difficult to desire the removal of the world's love from one's heart when it is full of intense love for it. But after a period of contemplation, perseverance, and making the heart understand the fair results of the love of God and the evil results of the love of the world, it is hoped that it will be realized, God willing.

3. The Significance of `Love' and `Hate' when Ascribed to God:

Know that love, hate and the like, which in the language of the Qur'an and noble traditions have been ascribed to God-exalted is His Glory-are not to be taken in their ordinary sense. For such qualities signify psychic affections (infi'al-e nafsani), and God, the Exalted, is above and free of them. Since an elaborate discussion of this issue is outside the scope of this brief exposition, we will confine ourselves to a passing reference.

It should be known that there are in man qualities and states which on descent from the Hidden and non-material realms and on reaching the realm of corporeal nature-which is the realm of differentiation (farq), or rather that of differentiation within differentiation (farq al-farq)-assume a form which is different from that of the Hidden immaterial forms in its effects and properties. Thus the Platonists consider all material existents to be manifestations of Hidden spirits and to be reflections of celestial realities and analogies of the Platonic Ideas. They hold that the essential archetypes of the accidents and qualities-which have a non-substantial existence in this world- exist by themselves in that world (as independent substances). On this basis, we may say that the archetypes of these qualities and states, which in the corporeal world are accompanied with an affective and variable character, have an ideal form free of all inadequacies in the Hidden immaterial realms, especially in the world of Divine Names and the station of Unity. The meanings of the terms when referred to the immaterial realm, or the Divine plane, is different from those in this world. For instance, should the tajalliyat of Beneficence (rahmaniyyah), Mercy (rahimiyyah), whichare also called tajalliyat of Beauty (jamal), Gentleness (lutf), Love (hubb) and Intimacy (uns), be manifested in this world, they would take the form of love, mercy and gentleness that are accompanied by affection (infi'al), and this is due to the extremely narrow character of this world. It is mentioned in a hadith that out of hundred portions of Divine Mercy (rahmah) only one portion has been sent down in this world that comprises all the manifestations of compassion that find actualization in this world, such as the compassion between children and parents and the like. Similarly, the tajalliyat of Divine Compulsion (qahriyyah) and Mastership (malikiyyah), which belong to the tajalliyat of Glory (jalal), are manifested in this world in the form of hatred (bughd) and rage(ghadab).

To sum up, the inward aspect of love, hatred, and anger is Divine Compassion and Omnipotence and the tajalliyat of Beauty and Glory, which exist by themselves and in which change, affection and multiplicity do not find any way. Thus the loves and antipathies that exist in this world are manifestations of Divine Compassion and Omnipotence, and since a manifestation (mazhar)depends on that which it manifests (zahir) and since the zahir is revealed in the mazhar, it is not improper to apply the same terms to the two of them. On this basis, the hatred of God, the Exalted, towards a creature is manifestation of Omnipotence and Vengeance, and His love manifestation of Compassion and Munificence. And God is the All-knowing.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Furu' al-Kafi; iii, 134.

[2]. See the exposition of the twenty-first hadith.

[3]. Usul al-Kafi, ii, "Kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr", "bab ukhuwwat al-mu'minin", hadith no. 4.

[4]. Mafatih al jinan, "Munajat Sha'baniyyah".

[5]. Ibid., "Du'a' Kumayl".

[6]. Al -Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitab al-Tawhid, 305.

[7]. Fayd al-Kashani, Ilm al yaqin, ii, 853.

[8]. This sentence of the tradition is narrated in the following form in its version of Furu `al-Kafi, iii, p. 131: "Then 'Ali-may peace be upon him-approaches him and says: "O Messenger of Allah, this one used to love us, Ahl al-Bayt, so hold him dear," and the Messenger of Allah-may God's benedictions be upon him and his Household-says: O Gabriel .... " Later in this narration-which is more reliable and precise-it is 'Ali who says to the Prophet, "O Messenger of Allah, this one used to hate us, Ahl al-Bayt, so hold him in resentment." (Trans.)

[9]. 'Ilm al-yaqin, ii, pp. 854, 856.

[10]. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, iv, 640, "Kitab sifat al-Qiyamah"; al-Jami' al-saghir, i, 63.

[11]. Al-Tabrisi, Majma 'al-bayan (Qumm 1403), v, 527.


With my continuous chain of transmission reaching up to the best of the traditionists and the foremost of them, Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni-may God be pleased with him-from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn `Isa, from `Ali ibn al-Nu'man, from Mu'awiyah ibn `Ammar, who says: "I heard Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, say: `In a counsel that the Prophet-may God bless him and his Family-gave to `Ali-may peace be upon him-he said: "O `Ali, I exhort you concerning certain characteristics (khisal) which you must preserve in yourself (as a trust) from me." Then he prayed, "O God, help him." (Then he continued:) "As to the first of them, it is truthfulness: never should a falsehood come out of your mouth. The second is piety (wara'), and never venture upon a treachery. The third is to fear God-sublime is His remembrance-as if you see Him. The fourth is to weep a lot out of the fear of God, the Exalted, and a thousand mansions shall be built for you in the Garden for every tear. The fifth is to offer your property and your blood for the sake of your religion. The sixth is to follow my sunnah in respect of my salat, my fasting, and my charity (sadaqah). As to the salat, it consists of fifty rak'ahs.As to the fasts, they are to be kept on three days in a month: on the first Thursday, on the Wednesday at its middle, and on the last Thursday. As to the charity, that consists of the utmost that you can give, so much so that you say to yourself, 'I have been immoderate,' whereas you will not have been immoderate.

""Commit yourself to the nightly prayer (salat al-layl)! Commit yourself to the nightly prayer! Commit yourself to the nightly prayer! Stick to the (supererogatory) noon prayer! Stick to the noon prayer! Stick to the noon prayer! Accustom yourself to reciting the Qur'an at all times. Make it your practice to raise your hands during prayer and to turn them. Take care to brush your teeth every time that you perform wudu". Commit yourself to ethical virtues, practise them, and refrain from moral vices, and if you don't, don't blame anyone except yourself." [1]

Khisal is the plural of khaslah, meaning khui (i.e. trait, characteristic, disposition) as mentioned in the Surah. Accordingly, its usage to denote the generality of dispositions as well as acts-as in this noble tradition and other places-is a figurative one. Or, perhaps, khaslah has a wider meaning than trait, in which case this kind of usage will be a literal one.

As to the word al-wara` (with fathah on the ra'), which occurs in the narration of the Imam, may peace be upon him, that and ri'ah are verbal nouns of wari'a and yari'u (with kasrah on ra' in both the cases) meaning God-fearing (taqwa) or intensity of God-fearing and piety. Probably it is derived from meaning [I restrained it], for wara` is, in reality, restraining of the soul and making it refrain from transgressing the limits of the Shari'ah and reason. Or, it might have been derived fromwarra'a in the sense of radda (meaning dissuasion). Thus, it is said i.e. `I turned back (radadtuhu)the camel from water. That is because, in wara`, one dissuades the soul from what it covets and seeks to indulge in.

As to his words, may peace be upon him, it pertains to the verbal form and means temerity, daring and boldness of action in matters. Al-Sihah, quoting Abu Zayd, states: Also, it is mentioned in al-Sihah that: 

As to the word in the statement of the Imam-may peace be upon him - with dammah or fathah on the jim, it means strength and hardship It is said when one makes one's mount run with all its power. Jahd is also used in the sense of effort and exertion and this meaning seems [more] more appropriate for this tradition.

As to his statement-may peace be upon him: here is an ism al-fi'l (verbal noun) which is

used in the sense of a transitive verb or as its substitute. means: (i.e. `Look after your own souls')[2] Accordingly this ba' (in ) is for the sake of stress and emphasis and not for making the verb transitive. In the Majma` al-bahrayn it is stated that if the ba' be transitive it gives the sense of (i.e. stick to). This kind of expression does not exist in Persian, and in Arabic it is used for intensive emphasis upon a certain matter. Probably, a close Persian expression for it would be However, its translation as something like does not accord with common usage. God willing, we will expound the relevant themes of the tradition in the course of a preface and several sections.


In this noble tradition, there are several aspects which reveal that these exhortations made by the Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his Household-to the Commander of the Faithful ('Ali ibn Abi Talib)-may peace be upon him-were very important in his blessed eyes. One of them is that these were addressed to the Commander of the Faithful-may peace be upon him-though that master stood above any possibility of negligence in regard to the laws of the Shari'ah and Divine commandments. However, since the matter was itself of supreme significance in the blessed eyes of the Noble Messenger of Allah-may Allah bless him and his Household-he did not refrain from exhorting him, and it is quite usual to find him exhorting someone concerning a matter that he considers as important and is concerned about, though he may know that that person will carry it out without fail.

As to the possibility that this counsel given to that holy personage was really aimed at others, being of the kind referred to in the proverb (i.e. `I tell you in order that the neighbour may hear'), such a possibility is remote. That is because the very context of the tradition bears witness that it was addressed to him and aimed independently at that holy personage, as indicated by the words(in yourself) and the order to cherish and safeguard them, as yell as the invocation for Divine assistance. These kind of exhortations were customary amongst the Ahl al-Bayt and it was usual for the Infallible Imams-may peace be upon them-to make them to one another. The very context of every one of these exhortations clearly shows that they were addressed by those holy personages to one another. Hence, in one of these counsels the Commander of the Faithful-may peace be upon him-says to al-'Imam al-Hasan and al-'Imam al-Husayn, may peace be upon them: "This is my counsel to the two of you and the other members of my household, as well as anyone whom this letter of mine should reach ..... [3]"' It is clear that the Hasanayn-may peace be upon them-were included in this counsel and these exhortations reveal the supreme importance of the matter and the intensity of the love that those holy personages had for one another. In fine, the very fact that the Commander of the Faithful-may peace be upon him-should be the addressee of these exhortations reveals the great importance of the matter.

Another point is that although it was addressed to Hadrat Amir (i.e. Imam 'Ali), who would never have done anything against the Messenger's exhortations or treated them with laxity or negligence, the Prophet considered it essential to stress the matter with such a great force.

Another point is that after saying "I exhort you," he added, "you must safeguard them as a trust from me" in order to bring to his attention the importance of these exhortations. Thereafter, on account of his desire that Hadrat Amir should fulfil these important duties, he supplicated saying, "O God, help him." In addition there are other scattered points of stress in a number of the sentences, as indicated by the nun of emphasis (as in ), the use of repetition, and so on, which need not be mentioned. All this shows the importance of these matters. Of course, it is obvious that the Prophet's sacred personage had no imaginable self-interest in any of these matters and his sole concern was to benefit his addressee. And although Hadrat Amir-may peace be upon him, was the one to whom these exhortations were originally addressed, but since these duties are of a universal nature, we should do our utmost so that the exhortations of the Messenger of God-may God bless him and his Household-do not go unheeded. We should know that the greatness of the love that the Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his Household-had for Hadrat Amir-may peace be upon him-requires that there be a very great benefit in these matters and that they be so much important that he should have mentioned them in this manner. And God knows best.

1. The Evils of Lying:

One of the exhortations of the Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his household-enjoins truthfulness and requires abstention from falsehood. The fact that it is mentioned foremost amongst his exhortations shows that its importance was greater in his venerable opinion than all the other things. We shall mention the evils of lying before the benefits and virtues of truthfulness. Hence know that this vice is one about whose ugly and vicious character there is agreement between reason and revelation. In itself it is one of the major sins and indecencies, as indicated by many traditions. Moreover, at times it leads to other vices whose ugliness and viciousness is no lesser than this fatal sin. Sometimes it happens that due to the discovery of a single lie a man so loses his credibility in the eyes of the people that its loss cannot be compensated for till the end of his life. God forbid that one should ever become known for being a liar, for, perhaps, there is nothing that can do a greater injury to one's repute. In addition to this, the religious harms and otherworldly punishments associated with it are also numerous. Here we will confine ourselves to mentioning some of the noble traditions relating to this topic and refrain from undue elaboration, for the matter is of a clear and well-known character.

In al-Wasa'il, it is narrated from Muhammad ibn Ya'qub, who reports with his isnad from Abu Ja'far (al-'Imam al-Baqir)-may peace be upon him-that he said: "Verily, God, Almighty and Glorious, has assigned certain locks for evil and made wine the key to these locks. Yet falsehood is more evil than wine." [4]

Now reflect a little on this sacred tradition, whose source is the Learned One of the Prophet's Household ('Alim Al Muhammad) and which is recorded in a book which serves as a source book for all the `ulama' of the Ummah-may God be pleased with them-and which is accepted by all of them, and see if there remains any room for any excuse. Can a lax attitude in regard to lying have any cause other than weakness of faith in the traditions of the infallible Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon them? We do not know the Hidden forms of our deeds and are unaware of the spiritual links between the realms of mulk and malakut. As a result, we regard this kind of traditions as far-fetched and consider those like them as overstatements. This is itself an erroneous approach arising from nescience and feeble faith. If, supposedly, we consider this noble tradition as an hyperbole, shouldn't there be some grounds for the exaggeration to be proper to the occassion? Can it be said of anything that it is worse than wine? Isn't it that the evil of that thing should be so great that one may hyperbolize it by stating that it is worse than wine?

Hadrat Baqir al-`Ulum (i.e. al-Imam al-Baqir)-may peace be upon him-said: "Lying is the ruin of faith.." [5]

Truly, such traditions as this make one's heart tremble and give one cold feet. I think lying is one of those behavioural vices which are so prevalent that their ugliness has totally disappeared. We only become aware [of its evil character] at a time when we wake up to find our faith, which is the most vital asset of the life of the Hereafter, forfeited as a result of this fatal sin without our knowing it.

It has been narrated from the Eighth Imam-may peace be upon him-that he said: "The Seal of the Prophets was asked if a believer could possibly be cowardly and timid. `Yes,' he replied. Then they asked him if he could be stingy. `Yes,' he said. `Can ale be a liar?' they asked him. `No!' came the Prophet's reply."

It has been narrated from the Truthful of the Sect (Saduq al-Ta'fah, i.e. al-Shaykh al-Suduq) that he said: "Amongst the sayings of the Messenger of God is the statement:

Lying exceeds usury [in its evil]. [6]

Such is the matter, whereas the severity of the banality of usury has been so much emphasized as to make one amazed.

Of the things that one should note is that telling an untruth even in jest and for humour's sake has been considered lying and regarded with severity. The `ulama' have also prohibited it in their fatwas. Thus, the author of al-Wasa'il-may God have mercy upon him-has given the following title to a chapter [in his compilation]-a title that accords with his fatwa:

"Chapter on the prohibition of lying, in small and big matters, in serious talk and in jest, to the exclusion of what has been excepted."

In the noble al-Kafi, it is reported through a chain of transmission reaching up to al-'Imam al-Baqir-may peace be upon him-that the said: " 'Ali ibn al-Husayn-may peace be upon them-used to tell his sons: `Refrain from falsehood in your speech, whether it is a small or big matter, whether it is said in serious talk or in jest. That is because lying in trivial matters produces the temerity to lie in big matters. Don't you know that the Messenger of Allah-may Allah bless him and his Household-said: "There is a servant of God who so perseveres in truthfulness that God writes his name amongst the truthful ones, and there is a servant who makes lying his wont until God, the Exalted, styles him a liar"? ' " [7]

Again al-Kafi reports with its isnad reaching up to the venerated Asbagh ibn Nubatah that he said:


The Commander of the Faithful-may peace be upon him-said: "One does not taste the flavour of faith until he refrains from lying, in serious speech and in jest." [8]

In a counsel given by the Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his Household-to Hadrat Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, the Prophet is reported to have said:

O Abu Dharr, woe to the man who tells lies in order to make other people laugh. Woe to him! Woe to him! [9]

Now, with all these traditions and severe warnings of the Messenger of God and the Imams of guidance-may peace be upon them all-it needs great audacity and wretchedness for one to perpetrate this enormity and commit this serious vice.

In the same way as lying has been considered as one of the most serious vices, truthfulness of speech has been commended as one of the most significant of virtues. It has been highly praised in the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt, and here we will confine ourselves to mentioning some of them:

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub reports with his isnad from Abu `Abd Allah-may peace be upon him-that he said: "Call people to righteousness through means other than your tongues, that they may observe diligence, truthfulness and piety in you.' [10]

The venerated Saduq reports with his isnad from the Messenger of God-may God bless him and his Household-that he said: "The nearest of you to me on the Day of Resurrection and the worthiest of my intercession will be the one who is the most truthful amongst you, the most reliable amongst you in regard to his trusts, the most genial of you in disposition, and the closest amongst you to the common people."

2. The Meaning of Wara` and Its Levels:

Wara` has been reckoned as one of the stages of the wayfarer's journey. In accordance with the definition of it given by the well-known gnostic, the venerable Khwajah `Abd Allah Ansari, it is:

It means that wara` is the utmost of restraint and the ultimate of self-vigilance accompanied with the fear of stumbling; or it means subjecting the soul to a rigorous discipline for the sake of God's glorification. And this includes all its levels, because there are many degrees of wara. Thus thewara` of the common people consists of abstaining from major sins, whereas the wara` of the elect (khassah) consists of refraining from suspect things for the fear of falling into what is unlawful (muharramat), as indicated by the noble hadith al-tathlith. [11] The wara` of the zahid (ascetic) consists of abstaining from lawful things for the sake of avoiding the burden (of answerability) that they entail. The wara` of the wayfarers of the path of gnosis is abstaining from beholding the world for the sake of attaining to the stations (maqamat). The wara` of those captivated by the Divine Being (majdhubun) is to relinquish the stations for reaching the Threshold of Allah and witnessing His Beauty. The wara` of the awliya' is to refrain from paying attention to ends (ghayat). Each of these has an elaborate description, engaging wherein is not beneficial for our state. However, that which we should know in this connection is that the exercising of wara` or piety in relation to what Allah has made unlawful (haram) is the root of all spiritual excellences and Hereafterly stations, and none can attain any station whatsoever except by abstaining from the muharramat. A heart that does not possess this wara` becomes so covered with rust and obfuscations that there ceases to be any hope of its deliverance. The purity of the souls and their burnish comes through wara`. This is the most important of the stages for the common people, and reaching it is one of the most essential goals of the wayfarer of the path of the Hereafter. Its excellence, as described in the traditions of the infallible Ahl al-Bayt-may peace be upon them-is more than what can be mentioned in these pages. We will confine ourselves to mentioning some of these traditions, and anyone seeking further details should refer to the compilations of hadith.

In al-Kafi of, al-Kulayni reports with his isnad from Abu `Abd Allah-may peace be upon him-that he said: "I exhort you concerning God-fearing, wara', and diligence in worship, and know that a diligence that is devoid of wara' is of no benefit." [12]

There are still other traditions containing this theme. They indicate that a worship that is devoid ofwara` is devoid of worth. It is obvious that the main purpose of the acts of worship is self-discipline and restraint, and its aim is the domination of malakut over the realm of mulk and physical nature, which cannot be perfectly realized without intense wara` and piety. The souls which are afflicted with sinfulness and disobedience to God are unreceptive to the spiritual forms. Any effort to impress these forms on the tablet of the soul is futile unless the tablet's surface is first cleared from the obfuscations of rust. Thus worship, which is the form of the perfection of the soul, remains futile without purifying the soul from the rust of sinfulness. Without the soul's burnish, it remains an empty form devoid of meaning, and a body without spirit.

Yazid ibn Khalifah says: "Abu 'Abd Allah-may peace be upon him-sermoned us, exhorting and directing us to adopt zuhd. Then he said: `Commit yourselves to wara', for, verily, that which is with God cannot be attained by anything except wara'.' " [13]

Thus, in accordance with this sacred tradition a man who is devoid of wara' is deprived from the bounties that God, the Exalted, has promised His servants, and this is the height of wretchedness and failure.

The following tradition is reported with isnad from al-'Imam al-Baqir-may peace be upon him:

The Imam said: "Our wilayah cannot be attained except with works (of righteousness) and piety."

In another tradition, al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-says: "One who lives in a city of a hundred thousand wherein there are other people more pious than him, such a one is not one of our followers (shi`ah)."' [14] The same assertion is made in a tradition recorded in the noble al-Kafi.' [15]

It should be known that, in accordance with the noble traditions, the criterion of perfection in wara`is abstention from that which has been forbidden by God, and anyone who refrains from what God has made unlawful is considered the most pious of men. So do not let Satan make this matter appear as greatly difficult in your eyes, and make you despairing and despondent. For it is the habit of that accursed one to lead man into everlasting wretchedness by the way of despair. For instance, in this regard he will tell you: "How is it possible to the most pious person in a city of hundred thousand people or more?" This is one of the tricks of that damned creature and the insinuations of the carnal ego. The answer to this is that, in accordance with the traditions, everyone who refrains from what God has decreed as unlawful stands in the ranks of the most pious of men referred to in these traditions. Refraining from the Divine muharramat is not a very difficult task. Rather, with a measure of spiritual training and practical effort one can avoid all themuharramat. Of course, if one desires to be one of the felicitous and one of those who attain salvation, and if one aspires for the protection of the wilayah of the Ahl al-Bayt and the mercy of God, the Exalted, without possessing at least this much of forbearance in regard to sin, that cannot be. Certainly, a measure of resistance, forbearance and austerity is essential.

Complement: The Evils of Treachery and the Meaning of Trustworthiness:

There is a point here that needs some elucidation, which is that the Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his Household-refers to the avoidance of betrayal of trust as a matter subsidiary to his exhortation regarding wara`. That, despite the fact that wara` relates to the generality ofmuharramat or, as said, is something still more inclusive. Hence `treachery' here must either be taken in a wider sense corresponding to wara', than the customary sense of it, in which case it would include the generality of sins and perpetration of anything that is an obstacle in the Godward wayfaring and which amounts to a betrayal of trust. That is because the Divine duties are Divine trusts, as pointed out in this noble verse:

We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, (but they refused to carry it and were afraid of it; and man carried it. Surely he is unjust, ignorant). (33:72)

Some exegetes have interpreted [the `Trust' in this verse] as the Divine duties. Rather, all the bodily members, organs and faculties are God's trusts and their use in a manner contrary to God's good pleasure is a betrayal of trust. Similarly, turning the heart's attention to anything other than God is a treachery:

This soul that the Friend had lent to Hafiz as a trust,

I'll restore to Him one day when I see His face

Or, what is meant by `treachery' here is its usual sense, and that it has been singled out here for mention due to its great importance, as if the totality of wara` lay in refraining from betrayal of trust. If one were to make a study of the traditions of the Infallible Ones-may peace be upon them-concerning the delivery of trust and abstention from treachery, one would understand how important this matter is in the view of the Holy Lawgiver. Moreover, its innate viciousness is not hidden from any sensible person. The perfidious person is to be reckoned as standing outside the fold of humanity and counted among the vilest of devils. It is obvious that if someone becomes notorious among the people for his treacherous and villainous character, his life will be greatly miserable in this world itself.

Mankind can lead a prosperous life in this world only through mutual help and cooperation. It is not feasible for anyone to lead an isolated existence, which is possible only if he leaves the society of men to join the fold of wild beasts. The great wheel of social life revolves on the axis of mutual confidence amongst the people. If, God forbid, mutual confidence were to depart from the life of mankind, it would not be possible for them to lead a satisfactory life. The great pillar of mutual confidence rests on trustworthiness and abstention from treachery. Hence the treacherous person does not enjoy the confidence of others and is an outcast from civil life and the membership of human society. His membership is not accepted in the walks of civic existence and such a person, obviously, lives a life of hardship and misery. In order that the benefit of this section be complete, we shall cite some traditions of the infallible Ahl al-Bayt concerning this theme, and these suffice wakeful hearts and open eyes.

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub (al-Kulayni) narrates with his isnad from Abu `Abd Allah-may peace be upon him-that he said: "Don't look at the protracted kneelings and prostrations of a man, for that is something which he does out of habit and would be upset if he were to neglect them. But look at the truthfulness of his speech and his fulfilment of trusts. [16]

(Al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu Kahmas that he said: "I said to Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him: ` `Abd Allah ibn Abi Ya'fur conveys his salam to you.' The Imam replied: `May peace be upon you and upon him. When you see `Abd Allah convey my greetings and tell him that Ja'far ibn Muhammad says to you: "Consider what made 'Ali attain the standing that he attained with the Messenger of God-may God bless him and his Family-and stick to it, for, verily, `Ali-may peace be upon him-attained the standing that he attained with the Messenger of Allah through truthfulness of speech and fulfilment of trust." [17]

And you, my dear, reflect upon this sacred tradition and behold how sublime is the station of truthfulness and trustworthiness, which brought 'Ali ibn Abi Talib-may peace be upon him-to that lofty station of his! This tradition shows that the Messenger of God loved these two characteristics more than anything else, and amongst the attributes of perfection of Mawla- 'Ali-may peace be upon him-it were these two which had brought him so close to the Prophet and raised him to that distinguished station.

Also al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-recommends these two, from among all kinds of deeds and characteristics, to Ibn Abi Ya'fur, who was a dedicated and self-effacing follower of the Imam, and sends him a message asking him to cling to them, because they were very important in his blessed eyes.

(Al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu Ja'far-may peace be upon him-that he said: "Abu Dharr-may God be pleased with him-said: `I heard the Messenger of Allah-may Allah bless him and his Household-say: "On the Day of Resurrection the Womb and the Trust shall stand on the two sides of the Sirat. When one who has fulfilled the duties of kinship and discharged his trusts passes over (the Sirat), he will cross over to paradise. But when the betrayer of trust or the violator of the rights of kinship passes over it, no work of his will benefit him by the side of these (vices), and the Sirat will turn him over into hell." ' " [18]

This indicates that the [otherworldly] forms of the Womb and the Trust shall stand on the two sides of the Sirat in that world and they will assist one who has fulfilled the duties of blood relationship and discharged his trusts. No work will benefit him if he has violated these two, and they will cast him into hell.

(Al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu `Abd Allah-may peace he upon him-that he said: "Amir al-Mu'minin-may peace be upon trim-said: `Discharge your trusts, even if they pertain to a murderer of the offspring of the Prophets.' " [19]

(Al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu `Abd Allah-may peace be upon him-that he said in one of his exhortations: "Know shat even if the assassin of 'Ali-may peace be upon him-who struck him with the sword, were to entrust me with something and were he to seek my advice and counsel, and were I to accept his request, I would not betray his trust."" [20]

Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn al-Husayn reports with his isnad from Abu Hamzah al-Thumali that he said: "I heard the Master of the Devout, 'Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib-may peace be upon them-say to his followers (shi'ah): `Commit yourself to trustworthiness; for, by Him Who sent Muhammad-may God bless him and his Household-with the Truth as a Prophet, even if the killer of my father, al-Husayn ibn 'Ali, may peace be upon them, were to entrust me with the sword with which he had killed him, I would not betray his trust.' " [21]

(Al-Saduq reports) with his isnad from al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-that he narrated from his ancestors from the Prophet-may God bless him and his Household-that, in a tradition concerning certain proscribed acts, he forbade the betrayal of trust and said: "Whoever betrays a trust in the life of the world, not delivering it to those to whom it belongs, and then dies, such a person doesn't die upon my creed and he shall meet God in a state wherein He will be wrathful with him. And whoever knowingly purchases the despoils of treachery is like the traitor." [22]

There are other traditions of this kind, and it is obvious what consequences will result from the wrath of God's Sacred Being upon a servant. Of course, the venerable intercessors, too, will not intercede on behalf of someone who is the object of God's wrath, especially since the betrayer of trust is out of the pale of the creed of the Messenger of Allah-may Allah bless him and his Household. It is stated in a (prophetic) tradition that "Whoever commits a breach of trust in regard to a believer does not belong to me." [23] It is mentioned in another tradition that such a man "is outside the faith of Islam and he will be cast into the abyss of hell for ever and ever." [24] I seek refuge in God from the evil of this vice.

It is obvious that the breach of a believer's trust includes dishonesty of a financial nature as well as other breaches of trust that are of a more serious nature. Hence, one should be very vigilant of the carnal self, which may make one turn a blind eye to certain matters and make their vicious character appear as something trivial and simple, though they be the cause of everlasting wretchedness and perpetual ignominy. This is the state of those who commit treachery against God's creatures, and from this we come to know the state of treachery in relation to the trust of God, the Exalted.

Concerning Some Divine Trusts:

It should be known that God, the Blessed and the Exalted, has bestowed upon us all our outward and inward faculties and bodily members and organs. He has spread out the table of bounties and beneficence throughout the inner and outer realms of our being, subjecting all of them to our power. He delivered them to us as trusts in a form wherein all of them were pure, immaculate, and free from formal and spiritual impurities. Everything that He sent down for us from the world of the Hidden, was pure and free from any kind of contamination. Therefore, if while meeting that Sacred Being we return these trusts to Him in the condition of purity from the contaminations of the corporeal sphere and the impurities of the mundane world and mulk, we shall be reckoned as trustworthy; otherwise we shall be held guilty of betrayal of trust and cast outside the pale of genuine Islam and the creed of the Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his Household.

It is mentioned in a famous hadith that:

The heart of the believer is the throne of the All-Beneficent.

And it is said in a well-known hadith qudsi

My earth and My heavens do not contain Me, yet I am contained in the heart of My faithful servant.[25]

The believer's heart is the throne and seat of Godhead and the abode of that Sacred Being. That Sacred Being is the owner of the heart. Riveting the heart's attention on other than God, the Exalted, is a breach of His trust. The love of anything other than that of the Holy Being and His elect-loving whom is the same as loving Him-is considered a treachery in the creed of gnosis. Thewilayah of the Household of Purity and Infallibility and the friendship of the Family of the Messenger-may peace be upon them-and the gnosis of their holy station is a Divine trust. Accordingly, in many noble traditions the word `Trust' (in verse 33:72) has been interpreted as thewilayah of the Commander of the Faithful, 'Ali, may peace be upon him. In the same way as the usurpation of the authority and office of that personage is a treason, so also the failure to follow that sacred personage is one of the degrees of treachery. And it is mentioned in the sacred traditions that "A shi'ah is one who follows [the Ahl-al-Bayt] in a complete manner. Otherwise, the mere claim of being a shi'ah will not be considered as tashayyu` (shi'i hood)."

Many of our fancies belong to the category of fake longings. At the mere feeling of love for Hadrat Amir-may peace be upon him-in our hearts, we become proud of this love and imagine that this love will survive even if we don't continue to follow him. But what surity is there that this attachment will survive if we fail to take care of it and if we neglect the attendant qualities of this love`' It is possible that during the pangs of death, which are experienced by all except the Faithful (mu'minun) and the Sincere (mukhlasun), one may forget 'Ali ibn Abi Talib-may peace be upon him-as a result of the panic and terror of the last agony. It is mentioned in a tradition that a group of sinners facing punishment in hell will forget the name of the Noble Messenger-may God bless him and his Household. When their term of punishment draws to its close and they are purged of and purified from the filth of sin, the blessed name of the Prophet shall come to their memory, or they will be reminded of it. Thereupon, they will raise the cry of `Wa Muhammada!' (O Muhammad!)-may Allah bless him and his Household. Thereat, they will receive mercy and release. We imagine that the encounter with death and the last agony is something similar to the experiences of this world. My dear! A short attack of fever is sufficient to make you forget everything that you know. Think what will happen when those calamities, agonies, terrors, and panics hold you in their grip! If one loves and fulfils the requisites of that love, remembering the beloved and following him, of course, such a love of the absolute friend and the absolute beloved of God shall enjoy Divine favour. But if one makes merely a claim unaccompanied by action, or, rather, accompanied by defiance, it is possible that before he departs from this world its diversions, vicissitudes, and shifting scenes may lead one to forsake the love of that Master, or, na'udhubilldh, turn one into his enemy. We have seen persons who claimed to befriend God and the Messenger-may God bless him and his Household-but who, after moving about in degenerate company and adopting evil conduct, became hostile to the Prophet and his Family-may peace be upon them. And even if, supposedly, one were to depart from this world with that love, though he will ultimately attain salvation and felicity in accordance with certain noble traditions and sacred verses, yet he will still have to suffer the afflictions of Barzakh and the terrors of death and resurrection in accordance with this tradition: "We shall intercede in your favour on the Day of Resurrection. But it is up to yourselves to do something for the life of Barzakh." [26] I seek God's refuge from the punishment and pressures of the grave and the hardships and tortures of Barzakh, which have no resemblance to anything in this world. That door of hell which opens into the grave, should it be opened upon this world, it will destroy all its creatures. God be our refuge from such horrors.

3. On the Fear of God Almighty:

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

Muhammad ibn Ya'qub reports with his isnad from Ishaq ibn `Ammar that he said: "Abu `Abd Allah-may peace be upon him-said: `O Ishaq, fear God as if you see Him. For if you don't see Him, indeed He sees you. And if you imagine that He does not see you, you have disbelieved. And if you know that indeed He sees you and yet go forth to disobey Him, then you have made Him the least of onlookers who behold you.' " [27]

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

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

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

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

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

The Disparity of People in Observing the Divine Presence:

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

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


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

And where he says:


Fear God as if you see Him.

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


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

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


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

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

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

On the Virtues of Lamentation:

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

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

In al-Kafi, it is narrated from al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-that "Everything has a weight and measure except tears, for a tear is sufficient to extinguish seas of fire." And he said: "If there is a single person who weeps [out of fear of God] in a community (ummah), all of its members receive Divine mercy." There is a large number of traditions containing this theme. [28]

Concerning Doubts Regarding Disproportionate Award:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My dear! This entire duration of our lives, which is some fifty or sixty years. Even if, supposedly, we carry out therein all our religious duties and leave the world with a sound faith, with righteous deeds, and a valid repentance, what measure of reward, do you think, do this measure of works and this faith of ours deserve? Yet, in accordance with the Book and the Sunnah and the consensus of all religious creeds, such a person receives Divine mercy and goes to paradise, a paradise where he will enjoy everlasting gifts and

·  reassurance

and dwell in eternal mercy, bliss and fragrance. Is there any room for denying the truth of this? And if one were to go by the idea of compensation for work-that is, if we make the invalid assumption that our works deserve compensation-it could not be so disproportionate, quality- as well as quantity-wise, to be beyond the comprehension of human reason. This shows that the matter is based on another foundation and revolves around some other axis. If we understand this, there no longer remains any ground for denying this truth or considering it unlikely and far-fetched.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Rawdat al-Kafi , p. 79, hadith no. 33.

[2]. Al-Qur'an, Surat al-Ma'idah: 105.

[3]. Nahj al-balaghah, ed. Fayd al-'Islam, Kutub, no. 47.

[4]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, vol. ii, "kitab al iman wa al-kufr", "bab al-kidhb" hadith no. 3.

[5]. Ibid., hadith no. 4.

[6]. Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. viii, p. 574.

[7]. Usul al-Kafi, "kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr", "bab al-kidhb", hadith no. 2.

[8]. Ibid, hadith no. 11.

[9]. Usul ul-Kafi, vol. ii, "kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr", "bab al-Sidq wa ada' al-'amanah", hadith no. 10.

[10]. None given

[11]. See the exposition of the twenty-fifth hadith on waswas, note no. 6.

[12]. Usu al-Kafi "kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr", "bab al-wara"', hadith no. 11.

[13]. Ibid., hadith no. 3.

[14]. Wasa'i! al-Shi'ah., vol. xi, p. 196

[15]. Ibid p. 194.

[16]. Usul al-Kafi, "kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr", "bab al-sidq wa ada' l-'amanah", hadith no. 12.

[17]. Ibid., hadith no. 5.

[18]. Ibid., "bab silat al-rahm", hadith no. 11.

[19]. Al-Kulayni, Furu' al-Kafi vol. v, p. 133.

[20]. Ibid.

[21]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. xiii, p. 225, cited from al-Saduq, al-Majalis, majlis" no. 43.

[22]. Ibid., cited from al-Saduq, Man la yuhduruhu al-faqih vol. ii, p.198.

[23]. Ibid., p. 226.

[24]. Ibid.

[25]. Ithaf al-sadat al-muttaqin, vol. vii, p. 234.

[26]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. iv, p. 688.

[27]. Usul al-Kafi, "kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr", "bab al-khawf wa al-raja'," hadith no. 2.

[28]. For the traditions cited in this section, see Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. xi, pp. 175-179.

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