Saturday 22nd of June 2024
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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(dignified) 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 the wara` 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 lucrative 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 of wara` 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 intensewara` 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 adoptzuhd. 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(resides) 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 Divinemuharramat is not a very difficult task. Rather, with a measure of spiritual training and practical effort one can avoid all the muharramat. 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 of muharramat 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(secluded) 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(well-liked) 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(brought down) 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 theSirat 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. The wilayah 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 the wilayah 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(invasion) 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(spectacle) 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(fragment) 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(barely) equalled by any other in respect of the common people. Aside from the fact that this fear is itself one of spiritual excellences, it is the source of many virtues of the spirit and one of the important reforming agents of the soul. Rather, it may be reckoned as the mainspring of all reform and the healing source of all spiritual ailments. A human being with faith in God and a wayfarer and emigrant towards Allah should give utmost importance to this stage and pay great attention to everything that increases it in the heart and strengthens its roots, such as the remembrance of chastisement and punishment, recalling the severity of the perilous passes of death, and, after death, those of Barzakh and resurrection, the terrors of the Sirat, the Balance, the scrutinies of the Reckoning, and the various punishments of hell, as well, as the remembrance of the Might, Glory, Irresistibility, and Sovereignty of God and the remembrance of the gradualness of deviation (istidraj), the Divine stratagems, the possible evil of one's ultimate end and the like. Since we have in these pages described all these stages to some extent, we shall confine ourselves here to citing some traditions concerning the merits of the fear of God:

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

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

On the Virtues of Lamentation:

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

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

In al-Kafi, it is narrated from al-'Imam al-Sadiq-may peace be upon him-that "Everything has a weight and measure except tears, for a tear is sufficient to extinguish seas of fire." And he said: "If there is a single person who weeps [out of fear of God] in a community (ummah), all of its members receive Divine mercy." There is a large number of traditions containing this theme. [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(lightweight) matters. They are ignorant of the fact than if something appears small to us in this world that does not prove that its Hidden and malakuti form be trivial and insignificant as well. For it is often the case that a minute creature has an inward and malakuti being that is extremely great and magnificent. Thus the holy frame and physical form of the last and the noblest of Messengers, the honoured and the venerable Prophet-may God bless him and his Household-was one of the small existents of this world, whereas his holy spirit encompassed the realms ofmulk and malakut and was the mediating means for the creation of the heavens and the earths. Therefore, to judge(assess) the inward and malakuti form of something as trivial and small, presumes the knowledge of the world ofmalakut and the inward reality of things. Hence the like of us have no right to make such a judgement. Rather, we should open our ears to the pronouncements of those who have the knowledge of the world of Hereafter, that is, the prophets and the awliya'-may peace be upon there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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.

With my continuous chain of transmission reaching the august shaykh, the best of the traditionists, Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, from 'Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from Hammed, from Rib`i, from Zurarah, from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him. [Zurarah] says: "I heard him say, `Verily, God, the Almighty and the Glorious, cannot be described, and how could He be described when He declares(insists on) in His Book. "And they measure not God with His true measure."'[1] Hence He cannot be described by any measure, and if described He would transcend it. And, verily, the Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, cannot be described, and how could be described a servant whom God, the Almighty and the Glorious, has concealed with seven veils and made obedience to him in the earth like obedience to him in the heavens, declaring, "And whatsoever the Messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever be forbiddeth, abstain from it."[2] And [He has declared] "Whoever obeys him assuredly obeys Me, and whoever disobeys him disobeys Me. [3]Hence He has delegated authority to him. And we (Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt) cannot be described And how could a people be described whom God has kept free from impurity, which is doubt. And neither can the believer be described. And indeed, when the believer takes his brother with the hand on meeting him, God looks at them and sins are shed from their faces in the way leaves fall from a tree:" [4]


To take up the explication of the phrase...(and they measure not God...'), al-Jawhari says in this regard: "qadr means `measure'. And both with fathah on the dal (i.e. qadar) and sukun on it (i.e. qadr) has the same meaning. It is a verbal noun (masdar). God, the Exalted, says: which means which means (`they do not venerate God in the way He aught to be venerated')." In the opinion of this writer qadr apparently means `measure,' and has been used figuratively to indicate the incapacity to describe and venerate adequately. Description (tawsif) itself is a kind of measurement of the object described in the apparel of characterization, and this-as shall be pointed out later, God willing-is neither possible nor permissible for anyone else to do in relation to that Sacred Being.

As to the phrase there is , with a ta, in the version of marhum al-Majlisi, may God's mercy be upon him, and he has considered it to signify comparison. Also, he is of the opinion that the singling out of Power (qudrah) from among the Attributes is due to its being closer to understanding. Then, affirming the possibility of error in the manuscript, he says: "Possibly it may be read with fathah (i.e. qadar), as in some other traditions." The version of al-Wafi accords with his guess [5] and perhaps it may be with ha', in some manuscripts. But it is probable, or rather certain, that with ta', is an error in the manuscript, for it is neither eloquent from the viewpoint of meaning nor proper on the basis of wording, for a masculine pronoun is referred to it, and to explain it away will be contrary to the rule. The context offered little room for a maneouver and hence this explanation of marhum al-Majlisi, even though there is no reason for asserting that while it is possible to conceive the attribute of Power it is impossible to conceive other Attributes, thus distinguishing it from other Attributes. Accordingly this explanation did carry much weight in his own blessed opinion.

As to the word as Jawhari says in the Sihah: , i.e hatt means the falling of leaves from the branch of a tree. He further says: which (i.e tanathur) also gives the meaning of falling and scattering. Now we shall explain the relevant points of the noble tradition in a number of sections.

Section: On the Indescribability of God:

It should be known that the indescribability of God, the Exalted, mentioned in this tradition refers to the characteristics of God given by some victims of ignorance and disputation from among the theologians (mutakallimun) and others, whose statements implied finitude (tahdid) and anthropomorphism (tashbih) or rather the very denial of the Divine Attributes (tatil). That such is the case is indicated by this phrase in the noble tradition, . Some traditions of the nobleal-Kafi, in the chapter concerning prohibition on characterization (nahy 'an al tawsif), also affirm this:

In al-Kafi (al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from 'Abd al-Rahim ibn 'Atik aIl-Qasir that he said. "I wrote a letter to Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, which I sent through 'Abd al-Malik ibn A'yan, informing him that there are some people in Iraq who characterize God with form and features (takhtit). I wrote, 'May God make me your ransom, if you consider it fit, write to me the correct doctrine of Divine Unity.' He wrote back to me: 'May God be merciful to you, you have questioned me concerning tawhid and the belief held by a bunch of people over there. Exalted is God, and there is nothing like Him, and He is the All-hearing and the All-seeing. He is above the descriptions of the anthropomorphists (mushabbihah) who liken God to His creation and ascribe falsehoods to Him.

May God have mercy upon you, know that the right doctrine of tawhid is that which has been revealed in the Qur'an concerning the Attributes of God, the Almighty and the Glorious. Negate ta'til (the negation of Attributes) as well astashbih in relation to God, the Exalted. Hence neither the Attributes are to benegated, nor God is to be likened to anything. He is God, the Self-Subsisting (al thabit) and the Existent (al-mawjud), exalted is He above what the describers attribute to Him. Go not beyond the Qur'an, or you will go astray(wander away) after the clear exposition [of the truth)." ' [6]

If one reflects properly on the contents of this noble tradition and its earlier and latter parts one comes to know that the prohibition concerning the characterization of God does not mean, as stated by some eminent traditionists, [7] that one should refrain absolutely from reflecting on the Attributes or describing the Attributes of God, because this tradition, like some others, [8] directs one to negate ta'til and tashbih-something which is not possible without reflection on the Attributes and a complete knowledge of them. That which the Imam wants to say is that one should not attribute to God, the Exalted, anything that is not worthy of His sacred Essence, such as the attribution of form, features, and other characteristics of the creatures, which entail imperfection and contingency (imkan), and God is above these.

However, as to describing God, the Exalted, by attributes that suit Him, it has a sound discursive basis in the transcendental sciences ('ulum-e 'aliyah). Hence it is something desirable, and the Book of God, the Sunnah of the Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, and the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt are replete with it. The Imam himself has made a brief reference in this noble tradition to that right discursive approach, though any elaboration of it is outside the scope of our discussion.

As to the statement of al-Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, that one should not go beyond the Divine Scripture in one's descriptions of God, it is a prescription for those who are ignorant of the criterion concerning [metaphysical speculation about] the Attributes. It does not mean that it is impermissible to ascribe an attribute that is not mentioned in the Book of God. Accordingly that master, despite prescribing this for his addressee, mentions two Attributes and Names of God, "Self-subsisting" (al-thabit) and "Existent" (al-mawjud), which as such do not occur in the Divine Scripture.

True, if someone with an undeveloped intellect, full of conjectures and imaginings and unilluminated with the light of gnosis (ma'rifah) and hidden Divine assistance, were to describe God with some attribute, he would inevitably fall either into the error of ta'til and negation [of the Attributes] or into the perdition of tashbih. Hence it is essential for persons like us whose hearts are covered with thick veils of ignorance and self-love and perverse habits and dispositions to refrain from reaching out toward the world of the Hidden and abstain from carving out deities for ourselves, for whatever we may conceive in our imagination would be no more than our own creation.

However, it should not remain unsaid that when we say that such persons should not extend their hand towards the world of the Hidden we do not mean to recommend that they continue to remain in ignorance and egoism, nor,na'udhubillah, we call them to blaspheme His names, [regarding which it has been said

.... And leave those who blaspheme His Names... (7:180)

Nor do we stop them from learning the transcendental teachings (ma'arif) which are the apple of the eye of the awliya' of God and the basis and foundation of religion. Rather, this is itself a call for the removal of these dark curtains, and a warning that as long as man remains a victim of self-attention and the love of the world, a captive of mundane ambition, love of wealth and the self, and, like this author, a prisoner within the walls of nescience, error, egoism and narcissism, which are the thickest of all darkening veils, he would remain deprived from knowing the true teachings (ma'arif) and attaining to his real goal. If, God forbid, there were no hidden succour from God, the Exalted, and His perfect awliya', one would not know where his matter would ultimately(in the long run) end and to what destination his movement and journey would lead him.

My God, I address my complaint to Thee and seek Thy help! [9]

We, wanderers of the realm of ignorance, lost in the wilderness of error, and self-seeking and self-centered amusements, who came into the dark world of mulk and nature and, like bats, did not open the eye of real vision to behold the fair reflection of Thy Beauty in the mirror of things, big and small, nor the manifestations of Thy Light throughout the levels of the heavens and the earths! Blind of eyes and insensate of heart, we have passed our days and spent a lifetime in ignorance and self forgetfulness. Should Thy unbounded grace and Thy infinite and effulgent mercy assist us not by lighting a spark(flash) within the heart and infusing a passion within the soul, we would languish for ever in this perplexity of ours and get nowhere! But-such is not what we expect of Thee!! Thy favours preceded any worthiness [on our behalf) and Thy mercy is [ever] unearned. O God, out of Thy kindness succour us and guide us to the lights of Thy Beauty and Majesty and illuminate our hearts with the radiance of Thy Names and Attributes!


Impossibility of Knowing the Reality of the Names and the Attributes:

It should be noted that the knowledge of the reality of the Divine Attributes and their encompassment as well as their nature is something whose summits lie beyond the reach of metaphysical proof (burhan) and whose kernel is beyond access to the yearning of the gnostics. That which has been said from the viewpoint of metaphysical proof in the speculative thought of scholars of formal metaphysics or in the discussions of the adept in the terminology of gnosis concerning the Names and the Attributes is correct and well-reasoned in accordance with their approach. However, learning ('ilm) itself is a thick(dense) veil, and as long as it is not pierced with the succour of the All-Glorious and in the shadow of perfect piety, intense mortification, complete dedication and sincere supplications to the Lord, the lights of Divine Beauty and Glory do not appear in the wayfarer's heart, and the heart of the emigrant towards Allah does not succeed in attaining to the witness of the Unseen (mushahedeh-ye ghaybiyyeh) and the manifest presence (hudur-e'ayani)of the manifestation of the Names and the Attributes, to say nothing of the manifestations of the Essence. These statements should not deter one from research and study, which are themselves reminders of the Truth, for it happens only rarely that the sacred plant of ma'rifah grows and reaches fruition in the heart without the seed of the true sciences and their customary conditions. Hence one should not abstain at the outset from the pursuit of the sciences with due observance of all its prerequisites and auxiliaries, for it has been said:

The sciences are the seed of (gnostic) disclosures. [10]

And should the sciences fail to produce for one a complete result in this world on account of certain obstacles, they would inevitably bring the desired fruits in the other worlds. But the main thing is the observance of their prerequisites and conditions, some of which were discussed in the exposition of certain foregoing traditions.

Section: The Knowledge of the Spiritual Reality of the Prophets and the Awliya' is Unattainable through Rational Thought:

It should be known that the knowledge of the spirituality and the station of perfection of the major prophetic figures and the infallible awliya', may peace be upon them, in general, and those of the Seal of the Prophets, may God bless him and his Household, in particular, is not attainable by means of thought or journey through the `horizons and the souls'(afaq wa anfus; 41:53). That, because those venerable personages belong to the Divine lights of the Unseen and are the complete manifestation and the manifest signs of Divine glory and beauty, having reached, in the spiritual journey towards God, the ultimate extremity of self-annihilation (fana'-e dhati) and the ultimacy of ascent, to the point of 'two bows length or nearer' (qaba qawsayn aw adna; 53:9), though the latter station belongs [specifically] to the Seal of the Prophets and other wayfarers in their ascension are followers of his sacred being. Here we do not intend to describe the nature of the journey of that sacred personage and the difference between his spiritual ascent (mi'raj) and the ascents of other prophets and awliya', may peace be upon them. For the sake of the present discourse we shall confine ourselves to mentioning one tradition pertaining to their luminosity, for the perception of their luminosity also requires an inner light and a divine gravitation:

[In al-Kafi (al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Jabir, from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him. Jabir says: "I asked him concerning the knowledge of the Knowing One (al-'Alim, i.e an Imam). He replied saying, 'O Jabir, verily, there are five spirits in the prophets and the awsiya': the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Faith, the Spirit of Life, the Spirit of Power, and the Spirit of Appetite. By the means of the Holy Spirit, O Jabir, they know everything from the Throne to underneath the earth.' Then he added, 'O Jabir, all the four spirits are subject to vicissitudes, but not the Holy Spirit, which does not engage in diversion or play."' [11]

[(In al-Kafi al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu Basir that he said, "I asked Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, concerning the statement of God, the Blessed and the Exalted, 'And thus have We inspired in thee (O Muhammad) a Spirit of Our Command. Thou knewest not what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith' (42:52). He replied, '(The Spirit mentioned in the verse) is one of the creatures of God, the Blessed and the Exalted, greater than Gabriel and Michael, that was with the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household, and which used to inform and guide him, and after him it is with the Imams, may God bless them." [12]

From the first tradition one comes to know that the prophets and the awsiya', may peace be upon them, possess a sublime spiritual station which is called the Holy Spirit (ruh al-qudus; lit, `the Spirit of Holiness'). By the means of that station they encompass all the particles of the universe epistemically and ontologically (ihateh-ye 'ilmi qayyumi). In that spirit there is no negligence, sleep, error, forgetfulness and other vicissitudes associated with contingency or any of the changes and deficiencies pertaining to the realm of mulk. Rather, it belongs to the world of the immaterial Unseen and the greater Jabarut. From the second tradition, one comes to know that that spirit is perfectly non-material and greater than Gabriel and Michael, who are the greatest inhabitants(residents)  of the station of proximity of the Jabarut.

Yes, the awliya', whose natural form (tinah) has been fashioned by God, the Exalted, with the mighty hands of His own Beauty and Majesty, and manifested Himself, in the first manifestation of the Essence (tajalliye dhati-ye awwali), with all the Names, Attributes and the all-inclusive station of Unity (maqam-e ahadiyyat-a jam') in their perfect mirror, and initiated them into the reality of the Names and the Attributes in the Unseen privacy (khalwatgah-e ghayb) of the Divine Ipseity-the majesty of their glory and beauty is beyond the reach of the aspirations of the gnostics, and the summit of their perfection is beyond access to the gnostic endeavours of the people of the heart. And it is mentioned in a tradition of the Prophet, may God bless him and his Household:

'Ali is immersed in the Essence of God, the Exalted." [13]

In former days, this author, like a bat describing the world-illuminating sun, has described a modicum of the station of prophethood and wilayah in a separate treatise named Misbah al-hidayah. [14]

Section: On the Waiting of `the Seven Hijabs' Mentioned in Relation to the Prophet:

Several probable meanings have been suggested for these words of the noble tradition:nd here we shall mention some of them.

First is the one suggested by the perfect gnostic and traditionist, the marhum Fayd, may God have mercy upon him. It is narrated in a tradition that there are seventy thousand veils of light and darkness for God, the Exalted; were He to remove them, the lights of Divine Beauty will burn down everything that His sight falls upon. Accordingly, it is probable that means that [for the Prophet, most of] all those veils have been removed so that out of the seventy-thousand only seven remain. [15] According to this interpretation, the phrase involves an ellipsis and means with God, the Glorious, as the active subject [of the verb ].

Although this interpretation is perhaps more appropriate than the other probable meanings, it is not indisputable. From the viewpoint of wording, a more appropriate expression for the description to convey such a sense would be: or . As in accordance with this interpretation, the perfection of the Messenger and the impermissibility of describing him relates not to the presence of the seven veils but to the absence of the other veils, it would have been more appropriate to mention them. Moreover, from the viewpoint of meaning, since, apparently, these veils of light and darkness that belong to God, the Exalted, pertain to creation and not to the Names and the Attributes, it entails that there is a creature nearer [to the Divine Essence] than the sacred light of the Noble Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, whereas it has been established that his being is the nearest veil and the first creature and there are not even any veils of Names and Attributes for that master, as has been proved in its own proper place, and the sevenfold stations and mysteries of that master are also not a veil for himself.

A second interpretation is the one proffered by the erudite traditionist, the marhum Majlisi, may God elevate his station in the realm of sanctity, which he also narrates from some others. According to this interpretation, this sentence is mentioned in the way of introduction and intended to describe the Prophet through later sentences. [16] That is, it means to say: `How could be described a servant, for whom God, Who is concealed from the creatures with seven veils, has made obedience in the earth like obedience to him in the heaven-like a king who is situated beyond seven curtains for his subjects, who cannot have access to him except through the mediation of a vezier appointed for them, and who sends a decree declaring that his command is mine.' And that which is meant by the sevenfold veils are the seven heavens from beyond which the revelations of God reach us through the Messenger. He has also mentioned another possible interpretation close(nearby) to this one wherein the sevenfold veils are identified as the luminous veils of the Names. [17] Although this interpretation, like the former, is not contestable from the viewpoint of meaning, it is inadequate or rather more farfetched from the viewpoint of wording and description.

There is another probable interpretation of it which is much sounder and convincing and ample appropriate to the occasion. However, the correctness of this interpretation depends on one of two things: either that has been used in a transitive sense in the sense of or that it be permissible to make it transitive with a ba; and in both the cases there be an ellipsis involving the object (maf'ul). Assuming the propriety of one of these two matters mentioned, this is what is meant in accordance with this interpretation: `How could a creature be described whom God, the Exalted, has concealed with seven veils, and for whose beauty and spirituality, which are on a par with the Divine will (mashiyyah), He has assigned seven veils extending from the plane of corporeal nature to the plane of the absolute mashiyyah, or from the plane of the corporeal realm of mulk of that master to the Unseen station (maqam-e ghayb) of his ipseity (huwiyyah). I could not find any instance in the lexicon and usage for the transitive meaning of although some scholars state that there is no impediment to making it transitive with a ba'. (`And all knowledge is with God, and perchance He may make something to come about hereafter').

Section: On the Delegation (tafwid) of the Affair to the Messenger of God (S), as indicated by this and many other traditions:

It should be known that the term tafwid is used in a special sense in discussions on jabr and tafwid (predestination and total human freedom).

According to this sense of tafwid, it means that God, the Exalted, has na'udhubillah, dissociated Himself in some respect from making any kind of dispositions in the world, right from the remotest extremity of creation pertaining to the Unseen immaterial spheres to the other end of the realm of creation and [corporeal] existence and delegated its administration to a being which is either a perfectly and completely spiritual and immaterial being possessing will and freedom of action, or a physical existent devoid of will and consciousness, which has a complete freedom of independent action therein.

"Tafwid" in this sense of delegation of Divine functions to someone, either in the matter of creation (takwin) or that of legislation (tashri') or on the plane of administration of the affairs of the creatures and their instruction (ta'dib), is impossible, and it implies the affirmation of deficiency and contingency in relation to the Necessary Being and negation of contingency and need in relation to contingent being.

Opposed to it is jabr, which means negation of causal efficiency in relation to the various planes of existence and an outright negation of the entire system of causes and effects. This notion is also absolutely false and contrary to firm metaphysical proofs. This is not restricted to the acts of legally responsible persons (mukallafun) as is generally known. Rather, the negation of jabr and tafwid in this sense is the operating sunnah of God in all the planes of being and in all the spheres of the Seen and the Unseen. However, the proof of this matter lies outside the scope of these pages.

The traditions negating jabr and tajwid are to be taken to apply to these meanings of the terms. [The term tafwid] has some other meaning in those traditions which do affirm tafwid [such as the following tradition of al-Kafi from al-Imam al-Baqir concerning the legislation of certain laws by the Prophet himself], or those which mention the delegation of all the affairs of the creatures [to the prophet], like the [second] tradition of al-Kafi given below.

In the first noble tradition of al-Kafi it is narrated with isnad from al-Imam al-Baqir, may peace be upon him, that he said: "The Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household, prescribed the damages (diyah) for loss of an eye and life, and he forbade nabidh and every intoxicant." Someone asked him, "Was that without anything being revealed to him?" The Imam replied, "Yes. That was in order [that God may] know those who obey the Messenger of God, may God bless him and his Household, and those who disobeyed him." [18]

In other such instances, the Prophet (S) added a number of rak'ahs to the daily prayers [19] and made fasting during the month of Sha'ban and on three days of every month mustahabb. [20]

The second tradition is as follows:

[(Al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Zurarah that he said, "I heard Abu Ja'far and Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be upon them, say: `Verily, God, the Almighty and the Glorious, has delegated the affair of His creatures to His Prophet, to see how they obey him' Then he recited this verse: Take whatever the Messenger brings you and refrain from whatever he forbids you. " [21]

Eminent scholars have mentioned certain probable meanings and interpretations. One of them is that which the erudite traditionist al Majlisi, may God's mercy be upon him, relates from Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni and most of the traditionists and which he himself favours. The gist of it is that God, the Exalted, after that He made the Messenger so perfect that he would not opt for anything that is not in conformity with what is true and correct and nothing would enter his blessed mind which is opposed to God's will, delegated to him the determination of some matters, such as adding to the number of rak'ahs in obligatory prayers, the determination of supererogatory matters relating to prayer and fasting and so on. This delegation (tafwid) was to make manifest the dignity and majesty of the station of that Master near God, the Glorious. However, his determinations and choices are not without inspiration and revelation, and after that Master prescribed something, the matter was affirmed by revelation? [22] Marhum Majlisi, may God elevate his station, also mentions other matters similar to this one, such as the matter of teaching, instructing, and administering the creatures, which has been delegated to him, or that of proclaiming and expositing of the ahkam, or refraining from that, in accordance with the exigencies of time-such as while observing taqiyyah-which have been delegated to him and the other Ma'sumun? [23] However, in any of the two interpretations offered by these revered scholars the scope of tafwid has not been explained as a rational principle consistent with established principles. Moreover, the distinction between this tafwid and the tafwid which is impossible remains unexplained. Rather, that which is implied by their statements-especially those of marhum Majlisi, may God's mercy be upon him-is that it would be [affirmation of impermissible]tafwid to believe that someone other than God, the Exalted, can create, cause death, provide sustenance and give life, that one who holds such a belief is an unbeliever (kafir) and no rational person would doubt its being tantamount to apostasy. Moreover, they have considered the matter of miracles (mu'jazat) and miraculous feats (karamat) as being totally a result of answered prayer, wherein God is the agent of the occurrences. However, the tafwid of the teaching and instruction of creatures and the bestowal and withholding of anfal and khums and the laying down of certain laws is considered correct and proper. This topic is one of those which have rarely been clarified and hardly ever brought under a correct criterion. Mostly what they have done is to take an aspect of the matter and discuss it. This author, too, with his inadequate capacity and ineptitude and the poverty of his equipment and means cannot enter this perplexing valley by starting from the preliminaries. However, he is compelled to make a brief allusion in the way of a metaphysical conclusion, for the disclosure of truth is unavoidable.

Concerning a Brief Allusion to the Meaning of Tafwid:

It should be known that there is no difference whatsoever between big and small matters in regard to the impossibletafwid, in the sense of total suspension of Divine Activity (maghluliyyat-e yaddullah) and independence of the efficiency of any creature's will and power. In the same way as the giving of life, the causing of death, creation, annihilation, and the transformation of one element into another cannot be delegated to any being, so also the delegation of the movement(mobility) of a piece of straw to any creature is impossible, though it be an archangel, an apostle, or any other being from the non-material intellects and inhabitants of the highest jabarut to the realm of primal matter. All the particles of the universe are subject to the perfect Divine will and have no independence whatsoever of their own in any respect. All of them are needy and poor in their being, as well as in their ontic perfections, movements and pauses, power and will, and all their functions. Rather, they are sheer poverty and absolute need. Similarly, there is no distinction between major and insignificant matters in respect of God's sustaining power over being and the negation of independence of creatures and the manifestation and influence of the Divine will and its all-pervasiveness. In the same way as such weak creatures as we have the power to carry out feeble actions, such as our [bodily] movements and pauses and all the other activities, the elect of God and the non-material angels are capable of performing such great acts as giving life, causing death, providing sustenance, creation, and annihilation. The Angel of Death is encharged with taking life and his taking of life is not something like the fulfilment of prayer, and Israfil is encharged with the giving of life, which is not of the nature of a prayer answered, and these actions do not fall under invalid tafwid. In the same way, if a perfect wali and a potent pure soul-such as the spirits of the prophets and the awliya' are-were to have the power to annihilate and create, to cause death and give life, a power given to them by God, the Exalted, it would not be an instance of impossible tafwid and should not be considered invalid. The delegation of the affair of the creatures to a perfect spirit whose intention is annihilated in the Divine intent and whose will is an image of the Divine will, and which does not will anything except what God wills and makes no move except that which is in accordance with the best system (nizam-e aslah), whether in creation and bringing into being or in legislation and instruction, that is not only not impossible but quite proper. In fact, this is not tafwid, as pointed out in the tradition narrated by Ibn Sinan to be cited in the next section.

In fine, tafwid in the first sense is not permissible in any matter and is contradictory to firm metaphysical proof. In its second sense, it is permissible in all matters. Rather, the system of the universe is not realized without the order of causes and effects:

God does not make things happen except through their means and causes. [24]

It should be known that that which has been said here briefly is rational and in accordance with sound metaphysical proof and mystic teaching as well as in conformity with tradition. And God is the guide.

Section: Concerning the Station of the Imams, may peace be upon Them:

Know that the pure and infallible Ahl al-Bayt, may peace and blessings be upon them, have certain lofty spiritual stations on the spiritual journey towards Allah whose epistemic apprehension is beyond human capacity and above the intellects of the people of reason and the intuitions (shuhud) of the gnostics. As is apparent from the noble traditions, they share the spiritual station of the Noble Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, and their immaculate lights were engaged in the glorification and praise of the Sacred Essence before the creation of the worlds.

In al-Kafi [al-Kulayni reports] with his isnad from Muhammad ibn Sinan that he said: "I was with Abu Ja'far, the Second, may peace be upon him, when I mentioned before him the disagreement amongst the Shi'ah. Thereat he said, 'O Muhammad, verily God, the Blessed and the Exalted, is ever unique in His Unity. Then He created Muhammad, 'Ali and Fatimah. They remained for a thousand eons, then He created all the things and made them witness their creation and decreed them to obey them, delegating their affairs (i.e. of the creatures) to them. Hence they permit whatever they will and forbid whatever they will and they will not anything except what God, the Exalted, wills.' Then he said, 'O Muhammad, whoever goes beyond this creed transgresses the bounds [of right doctrine] and whoever lags behind perishes, and whoever adheres to it attains [to the truth]. So hold on to it, O Muhammad!' " [25]

[In al-Kafi al-Kulayni reports] with his isnad from al-Mufaddal that he said: "I said to Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, 'How was your state when you were in the 'Shadows'?' He replied, 'O Mufaddal, we were with our Lord and there was none else except us in 'the Green Shadow': we glorified Him, called Him Holy and One and extolled Him. Besides us there was neither any archangel nor any spirit, until when it appeared to God to originate the creation. Thereupon, He created whatever He will and howsoever He will of the angels and the other creatures. Then He gave the knowledge of that to us.' " [26]

The traditions relating to the nature (tinah) of their bodies and the creation of their spirits and hearts, and those which speak of their having been given [the knowledge of] the Greatest Name (ism-e a'zam) and the sciences-bestowed upon them from the Unseen divine stores-of the prophets and the angels and what is above that and that which does not enter into the imagination of you and me, and that which is mentioned of their other excellences in the various chapters of reliable works of our associates(acquaintance), especially in the Usul al-Kafi, are such as to confound the intellect. No one can apprehend their mysteries and realities except their own sacred beings. In this noble tradition in whose exposition we are presently engaged, there is a reference to one of their excellences, which is the Verse of the Purification (al-ayat al-tathir; 33:33), which, in accordance with mutawatir traditions narrated through Sunni and Shi'i chains of transmission, was revealed concerning the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt. Those who are meant by "ahl al-bayt" in the noble verse, as affirmed by the consensus of the Shi'ah and abundant or mutawatir traditions narrated through non-Shi'i ('ammah) chains of transmission, are the Household of infallibility ('ismah) and purity (taharah). This is a point whose elaboration would be explanation of what is evident.

On the Reality of 'Ismah:

In this, as well as other noble traditions, rijs [in verse 33:33] has been interpreted as doubt (shakk), and in some traditions it is interpreted as freedom from all defects. A study of the exposition of some of the earlier traditions shows that the negation of doubt implies the negation of all inward and outward defects and, in fact, implies infallibility (`ismah). That is because infallibility is not something contrary to free will, as in the case of matters relating to nature and instinct. Rather it is a spiritual state and a light d by means of the perfect light of certainty (yaqin) and total tranquillity (itminan). The errors and sins that are committed by human beings are due to inadequate conviction and faith. The degrees of conviction and faith are so various as to be beyond description. The perfect certainty of the prophets and their complete tranquility(peacefulness), d through unmediated knowledge (mushahedeh-ye hudariyyah),makes them immune to error. The conviction of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, may peace be upon him, had brought him to the station that he declared: "Even if I were to be given the whole world in order to unjustly deprive an ant of a grain, I would not do it. " [27]

In any case, by God's pre-eternal design, they have been cleansed of shirk and doubt, purified from the impurities and defilements of the world of physical nature ('alam-e tabiat) and the darkness of attachment to other than God, the Exalted, freed from the obfuscations of the ego and the thick sheaths of egoism and attention to other [than of God], becoming sacred divine lights and complete signs of the Lord, Who has made them purely and sheerly His own. Hence their stations are such as cannot be properly described and explained and, like the phoenix of the ghayb of Divine Ipseity, the peaks of their glory are beyond the reach of [gnostic] aspirations:

Take thy net away for none can ever catch the phoenix. [28]

Concerning the Indescribability of Faith:

It should be known that iman (faith) is also one of the spiritual perfections whose radiant reality can rarely be known by anyone. Even the faithful, so long as they remain in the world and in the darkness of nature, are unaware of the radiance of their faith and the dignity they have before God.

As long as man remains in this world, he becomes so accustomed to its conditions and habits that when he hears anything about the nobilities and bounties of the other world and its punishments and disappointments, he immediately compares them to a similar form in the realm of mulk. For instance, he compares the nobilities promised by God, the Exalted, to the faithful and the bounties He has prepared for them and whose news has been conveyed by the prophets, may peace be upon them, to the gifts and honours received by men from princes and suzerains or something better and higher. He assumes the bounties of that world to be like those of this world, though somewhat plentiful refined and superior. Such a comparison is altogether invalid. The bounties of that world, its delights and fragrance cannot be truly imagined by us, and anything like them does not enter our minds. We cannot conceive how a drink of the water of Paradise can possess all the imaginable and possible pleasures, each of which is distinct from the other, for the quality of any delight [of that world] has no similarity to the pleasures of this world.

In this noble tradition, there is a mention of one of the nobilities of the faithful which, in view of the people of gnosis and the people of the heart, are incomparable to anything and cannot be measured by any measure, and that is the statement of the tradition where it says: "Indeed, when the believer takes his brother with the hand on meeting him, God looks at them and sins are shed from their faces in the manner leaves fall from a tree." The same theme recurs in many other traditions, such as the following one:

In al-Kafi [al-Kulayni reports] with his isnad from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him, that he said: "When the faithful meet and take one another by the hand, God, the Exalted, turns to them with His face, and their sins fall from them in the manner leaves fall(avalanche) from a tree."' [29]

God only knows what inner luminosity and nobility is associated with this look of God, the Exalted, and this attention of His with His noble face, and what veils are removed from between the faithful servant and the lights of the Beauty of the Sacred Essence and what succour it provides to the faithful. However, one should know the reality and actual secret behind these nobilities and one should not be heedless of it. The heart's attention should be turned so that the act attains its perfect luminosity and a divine breath is blown into the act's body. That reality and secret truth lies in strengthening the bond of love and cordiality and renewal of the covenant of love and brotherhood for the sake of God. A great significance is attached to this point in the noble traditions and is also hinted at in traditions relating to this topic:

In al-Kafi [al-Kulayni reports] with his isnad from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him, that he said: "When the faithful meet and take one another by the hand, God places His hand between their hands and shakes hand with the one who has greater love for his companion." [30]

It is stated in another tradition that when the faithful meet and shake hands, God, the Exalted, sends His mercy down upon them; nine-tenths of it belong to the one who has greater love for his companion, and if they should be equal [in love], the mercy envelopes them. [31] There are many traditions on this topic and that which have been cited will suffice. And all praise is God's, at the beginning and the end.

[1]. The Qur'an, 6:91; 22:74; 39:68.

[2]. Ibid., 59:7.

[3]. This is a reference to verse 4:80 of the Qur'an: "Whoso obeyeth the Messenger, obeyeth God."

[4]. Al-Majlisi, Mir'at al-'uqul, vol. ix, p. 71, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr" "bab al mussfahah" hadith 16.

[5]. Al-Fayd al-Kashani, al-Wafi, vol, v, p. 613.

[6]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. i, p. 100, "kitab al-tawhid", "bab al-nahy 'an al-sifah bi ghayr ma wasafah bihi nafsahu ta'ala" hadith 1.

[7]. See al-Majlisi, Mirat al-'uqul, vol. i, p. 346, "kitab al-tawhid", "bab nahy 'an al tawsif" hadith 1.

[8]. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitab al-tawhid, p. 31 ff., bab 2, in particular hadith 37.

[9]. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Misbah al-mutahajjid, "Du'a Kumayl," p. 587.

[10]. Sadr al-Muta'allihin, al-Asfar al-arba'ah, vol ix, p. 123; see also his Tafsir al-Quran, the exegesis of 87:17.

[11]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, vol. i, p. 272, "kitab al-hujjah" "bab fihi dhikr al-arwah al-lati fi al-A'immah" hadith 2.

[12]. Ibid., vol. i, p. 273, "kitab al-hujjah" "bab al-ruh al-lati yusaddidu Allah biha alA'immah" hadith 1.

[13]. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. xxxix, p. 313, "Ta'rikh Amir al-Mu'minin" bab 88, hadith 5.

[14]. Misbah al-hidayah ila al-khilafah wa al-wilayah, written in 1349 H.

[15]. Al-Fayd al-Kashani, al-Wafi, vol. v, p. 614, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr" "bab al musafahah" hadith 16.

[16]. Al-Majlisi, Mir'at al-'uqul, vol. ix, p. 71, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr" "bab al musafahah" hadith 16.

[17]. Ibid.

[18]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, "kitab al-hujjah" "bab al-tafwid ila Rasulillah (S) wa ila al-A'immah fi amr al-din" hadith 7.

[19]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vo4 iii, "kitab al-salat" "abwab a'dad al-farid" bab 13, hadith 12, 14.

[20]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol vii, p. 361, "abwab al-sawm al-mandub" bab 28, hadith 5:

[21]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. i, p. 266, "kitab al-hujjah"bab al-tafwid ila Rasulillah wa alA'immah fi amr al-din" hadith 3.

[22]. Mir'at al-'uqul, vol iii, p. 144, "kitab al-hujjah"bab al-tafwid ila Rasulillah (S)" hadith 1.

[23]. Ibid.

[24]. Usul al Kafi, vol. i, p: 183, "kitab al-hujjah" "bab ma'rifat al-Imam wa al-radd ilayh":

See also al-'Saffar, Basa'iral-darajat, p. 26, juz' 1, bab 4, hadith 2.

[25]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. i, p. 441, "kitab al-hujjah" "bab mawlid al-Nabi (S) wa wafatuh" hadith 5.

[26]. Ibid., hadith 7.

[27]. Nahj al-balaghah, Khutbah 215.

[28]. Hafiz:

[29]. Usul al Kafi, vol. ii, p. 180, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr" "bab al-musafahah" hadith 4 

[30]. Ibid., p. 179, hadith 2.

[31]. Ibid., p. 181, hadith 14.

With my continuous chain of transmission reaching up to the Thiqat al- Islam Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, may God's good pleasure be with him, from a group of our companions, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid, from his father, from Harun ibn al-Jahm, from al-Mufaddal, from Sa'd, from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him, that he said: "Verily, the hearts are [of] four (kinds) the heart that has [both] faith and hypocrisy in it, the heart that is inverted and upside down, the heart that has been sealed and is darkened, the heart that is clear and luminous (al-azhar)." [Sa'd], the narrator, says: "I asked him, "What is meant by `al-azhar'?" He replied, "it is a heart that has the likeness of a lamp. As to the heart that has been sealed, it is the heart of a hypocrite. The heart that is luminous is that of the believer, who is thankful when God gives him and is patient when subjected to tribulation. As to the heart that is inverted, it is the heart of the polytheist." Then he recited this verse: What, is he who walks prone upon his /ace better guided or he who walks upright on a straight path? (67:22) [Then he added]; "As to the heart wherein is faith and hypocrisy-they were a people who lived in Ta'if; so if one of them should die in the state of hypocrisy, he would perish, and should he die in the state of faith he would attain salvation." [1]


Mankus means `inverted' (maqlub). [The lexicographers] explain: 

(i.e. `I inverted something' or `I put it means upside down'). According to al-Sihah, means a baby

whose feet (at birth) come out before its head Closely associated is the meaning of in the noble verse cited by the Imam, for ikbab means falling on one's face, and therein is a figurative indication of the fact that the hearts of the polytheists (mushrikun) are inverted and their course of spiritual movement is other than the Straight Path, as will be elaborated later on, God willing.

Matbu` means `sealed' (makhtum), and tab` with sukun (of the ba'), means `sealing' (khatm), and with its harakah (i.e.taba`) means impurity (danas, wasakh). If it be taken in the sense of `sealed,' it would figuratively mean that the word of truth and Divine truths do not enter such a heart and it does not accept them-not that God, the Exalted, deprives it of His special grace, although this sense is also true. However the aforementioned sense is more appropriate.

'Azhar' means `white' (abyad) and `luminous' (mustanir), as mentioned in al-Nihayah. [2] According to a!-Sihah `azhar'means `bright' (nayyir), and the moon is called `azhar.' Ibn al-Sikkit says: `al-azharan' means the sun and the moon.`Azhar' [when spoken of a man] means a white man, of a bright face, and such a woman is zahra'. To sum up, azharmeans luminous and white; hence the sun and moon are called azharan; a white and luminous man is called azhar and a white and luminous women is zahra'.

`Ajrad' is someone who has no hair on his body, and according to al-Sihah, al-jurd means a treeless (open) space. And this figuratively implies the absence of attachment to the world, or freedom from impurity and defilement. We shall expound that which needs explication in this noble tradition in the course of a preface and a few sections.

Preface: On Reforming the Heart:

It should be known that the term 'heart' has various meanings in the terminology of the Shari'ah, and that of philosophy and 'irfan. To discuss that and the related terminological differences, as well as the ranks and degrees of the hearts, is outside the scope of this discourse and is not very gainful for us. Therefore, it would be better to take the matter in its unexplicated simplicity, as is done in the noble tradition, and discuss that which is important and essential for us.

It should be known that the endeavour to reform the 'heart,' on whose wholesomeness and corruption depends one's felicity and wretchedness, is more essential than an inquiry into its meanings and delving into the technical jargon. [3]In fact, it often happens that intense attention to terms and preoccupation with words and that which relates to them make one totally oblivious of the heart and its reform. [As a result] one may complete mastery in expounding the meaning and essence of the heart and the terminology of the metaphysicians (hukama') and the mystics ('urafa) while one's heart, na'udhubillah, is one that is either inverted or sealed, like someone who knows well the beneficial and harmful properties of medicines and is able to describe them with expertise(skillfulness) without himself refraining from poisonous medicines or making use of the beneficial ones. Such a person perishes despite all his knowledge of pharmacology, which is unable to rescue him.

We said earlier [4] that all the sciences are absolutely practical and even the transcendental sciences have a practical aspect in them. Here that which we have to say is that the science of the states of the heart and that which relates to their health and sickness, reform and corruption, is something which is purely a preliminary step to action and the way of its reform and remedy. Its mere knowledge and understanding is not considered a human perfection. Hence one's main attention and goal should be the reform and refinement of the heart so that one may attain to ultimate spiritual felicity and to the higher transcendent stations. And even if one were well adept in the sciences, the subtleties and the realities, during the course of his journey through 'the horizons and the souls', his main concern should be the discovery of his own spiritual states, so that if it were ruinous he should try to remedy it, and if oriented towards salvation, try to make it complete and perfect.

Section: The Basis for the Classification of the Hearts:

One should know that this classification of the hearts made in this noble tradition is one that is non-detailed and general. Every heart has a different rank and degree, whether it is from the viewpoint of shirk and hypocrisy or that of faith and perfection. Apparently, this classification of the hearts is subsequent to acquisition and spiritual conduct, not one based on the nature and constitution of different souls, so as to conflict with traditions concerning fitrah, which state that all people are born with the nature of tawhid and that shirk and hypocrisy are accidental [and not innate in human nature]. However, even if it were on the basis of nature, that would be correct in accordance with one explanation which removes the contradiction and does not lead to predestination, which is something impossible. Nevertheless, that which is closer to metaphysical proof and plentiful conducive to education is the first probability. And we said earlier [5] that as long as man remains in this world, which is the source of the tree of primal matter with its substantial, formal, and accidental changes and transformations, he can deliver himself from all levels of deficiency, wretchedness, shirk, and hypocrisy and attain to the higher levels of perfection and spiritual felicity. And this is not contrary to the famous hadith that states:

The wretched one is wretched in his mother's womb. [6]

for the meaning of the tradition is not that felicity and wretchedness are innate and incapable of change. Rather, this tradition accords with metaphysical proof, which has been set forth in clarity in its proper place, that wretchedness is derived from deficiency and non-being, and that felicity derives from being and its perfection. That which belongs to the immaculate tree of being is the sacred Divine Being in accordance with the ranks of causes and means-which is the way of the best of the latter generations and the most perfect of the early ones, the Nasir of the millah and din (i.e. Khwajah Nasir al-Din al-Tusi), may God sanctify his soul-or on the basis of manifesting and being manifested (zahiriyyah andmazhariyyah), unity and multiplicity-which is the way of the greatest of philosophers, Hadrat Sadr al-Muta'allihin. And that which derives from deficiency and non-being pertains to the vicious tree of quiddity, which is not the object of creation because of its being below creation (ja'l).

It may be said that the when the noble tradition says that felicity and wretchedness accompany one in the `mother's womb' that which is meant is the world of corporeal nature ('alam-e tabiyyat) which is the absolute mother, the womb and the cradle wherein nature nurtures its offsprings. That is, the expression `mother's womb' is not to be taken in its ordinary sense, because felicity, being perfection and actuality, cannot belong to the primal souls (nafus-e hayuliyyah)except potentially. Since the literal import is that the felicitous are felicitous in act in the mother's womb, the contrary of the literal meaning has to be adopted. And since that which has been said is in accordance with metaphysical proofs, the noble tradition has to be interpreted solely in this sense or something equivalent to it. In any case any elaboration of this matter and discussion of its proof is outside the scope of this discourse, though at times the pen rebels and runs contrary to the set aim.

The Reason why the Kinds of Hearts are Confined to the Four:

Some [scholars] have said that the reason for confining the kinds of hearts to four is that the hearts either possess faith or they don't. In the first case, the faith possessed pertains to all that the Messenger has brought or only to a part of that. The first is the heart of the believer (mu'min) and the second is a heart wherein faith and hypocrisy are both present. In the second case, there is either an outward confession of faith or there isn't. The first is the heart of the hypocrite and the second that of a polytheist (mushrik).

This interpretation does not accord with the noble tradition, which implies that at times there is real faith in all that the Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, has brought and at times there is hypocrisy. Hence, if one were forced to interpret, it would be better to say that the heart either has faith in all that the Prophet, may God bless him and his Household, has brought or it doesn't. In the second case, there is either a pretence of faith or there isn't. In the first case, the faith is either stable and established in it or [it is unstable], believing at one time and disbelieving at other times, making a pretense of belief in the state of disbelief also. The concluding part of the tradition shows that the repentance of those who apostatize after belief, to revert to unbelief and hypocrisy, is accepted, even if it should occur repeatedly.

In another tradition of the noble al-Kafi, Imam Baqir, may peace be upon him, divides the hearts into three kinds: (1) the inverted heart (qalb-e mankus), wherein there is no good; that is an unbeliever's heart; (2) the heart wherein there is a black spot, in which there is a conflict(warfare) between good and evil, each of which seek to overcome the other; (3) the 'open heart' (qalb-e maftuh) wherein are lamps whose lights will not go out until the Day of Resurrection; that is the heart of the believer. [7] This [division] does not conflict with the noble tradition [under exposition], for the first category mentioned in the above tradition includes the two kinds mentioned by the hadith, that is, the hearts of the polytheist and the hypocrite. That is because the hearts of all those three groups (i.e. unbelievers, polytheists and hypocrites) are inverted, and no inconsistency would be involved if inversion be [considered] the salient characteristic of the hearts of an unbeliever and polytheist and being seated the salient characteristic of the hypocrite's heart, and accordingly each of them is ascribed to either of them in the tradition.

We shall begin with the believer's heart so that the state of the other hearts be known in contrast. It should be known that in the transcendental sciences and the true teachings it has been clearly(unmistakably)   established that the reality of `being' is the reality of 'light.' These two terms signify one simple reality without being attributable to any separate multiple aspects. It is also known that that which pertains to perfection and completion derives from being itself. This is one of the noble principles, and to anyone who has the honour to apprehend it the door to the higher teaching is opened. Our feeble(flimsy) spirits are unable to apprehend the reality of that Being without a help from the Hidden and a success predestined from eternity. It is also known that faith in God belongs to the category of knowledge and is one of the absolute perfections. Hence, being a perfection, it belongs to being itself and the reality of light and manifestation. And that which is other than faith and all that relates to it, is outside the category of the perfections of the human spirit, belonging to the darkness of non-being and quiddity.

Concerning the Luminosity of the Believer's Heart:

Hence it is known that the 'believer's heart is luminous. It is narrated in the noble al-Kafi from al-Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, that he said: "You see some people who are so perfect in eloquence that they don't err in [the use of a single letter like] lam or waw, while their hearts are darker than a gloomy night, and there are some people who cannot express what is in their hearts, yet their heart is radiant like a lamp." [8] Further, the believer's heart is on the Straight Path and his spiritual movement is on the middle path of humanity. That is because, firstly, he has not deserted his primal divine nature, fashioned in forty days by God, the Exalted, with the hands of His Beauty and Glory. Thus he walks on the path of the nature of tawhid, oriented towards absolute perfection and consummate beauty. Inevitably, this spiritual movement from the plane of innate nature to the ultimate point of absolute perfection is without any crookedness, being as it is the path of spiritual rectitude and the middle inner way. However, all other hearts deviate from nature and the straight path. It is narrated of the Noblest Messenger, may God bless him and his Household, that he drew a straight line on the ground drawing other lines on its either side. Then he said, "This one, the straight and middlemost line, is my path." [9]

Explanation of the Believer's being on the Straight Path:

Secondly, the believer is the follower of the Perfect Man, and since the Perfect Man is the manifestation of all the Names and the Attributes and subject to the Lordship of the Truth, the Exalted, by virtue of the All inclusive Name (ism-e jami),his being is not monopolized by anyone of the Names. Like his Lord, he is an all-inclusive being and in him the manifestation of any of the Names is not overshadowed by that of any other Name. He possesses the station of middleness (maqam-e wasafiyyat) and the major mediation (barzakhiyyat-e kubra). Hence his movement is along the straight and middlemost path of the All-inclusive Name.

All other beings are dominated by one of the encompassing or non encompassing Names of which they are manifestations. Their origin and return is from and to that Name. The Name opposite to it is latent in it and plays no active role in it except from the aspect of the unity of all the Names-something whose explanation is not appropriate here. Hence God, the Exalted, at the station of the All-inclusive Name and the Lord of Man (rabb al-insan), is on the Straight Path, as He says:

Verily my Lord is on the Straight Path. (11:56)

That means the station of middleness and all-inclusiveness (jami'iyyat) without the predominance of an Attribute over another and without the manifestation of one Name rather than that of another. A being subject to the Lordship of that Sacred Being at this station is also on the Straight Path, without any station or aspect overshadowing another station or aspect. Hence [the believer] in the course of his real upward ascension [i.e. prayer] and the ultimate point of proximity [to the Divine], after making an admission of servitude, after referring every worship and service by every worshipper to that Sacred Essence and ascribing all help in all stations of expansiveness and straits (qabd wa bast) exclusively to that Sacred Being, by declaring:Thee only we worship and Thee only we ask for help, (1:5)


Guide us to the Straight Path. (1:6)

This is the same path as that of the Lord of the Perfect Man, the former from the [active] aspect of manifesting(zahirriyyat) and Lordship (rububiyyat) and the latter from the [passive] aspect of being manifested [mazhariyyat] and creaturehood [marbubiyyat]. None of the other existents and beings in movement towards Allah are on the Straight Path, but are deviant, inclining either towards (Divine) Grace and Beauty or towards Might and Glory. The faithful (mu'minin),since they are followers of the Perfect Man and walk in his footsteps, they journey by the light of his guidance and the lamp of his knowledge (ma'rifah) in submission to the sacred being of the Perfect Man. They don't take any step by themselves and do not allow their intellect to meddle with the character of the spiritual journey towards Allah. For this reason, their path is also straight, and in the company of the Perfect Man their fufilment (wusal) is subordinate to the fulfilment of the Perfect Man, provided that they protect their clear hearts from the workings of the devils, the ego, and egoism, and submit themselves totally in the journey to the Perfect Man and the station of ultimate prophecy.

Concerning Some Stratagems of Satan:

One of the evil workings of Satan is to make man turn the face of his heart away from the Straight Path and towards some coquettish person (shukh) or guru (shaykh). One of the great masterpieces of Satan, who whispers into the hearts of men, is that he, with gay and nonchalant discourse and deceptive manipulations, makes some spiritual gurus(shuyukh) enamoured to some coquette, justifying this major sin, or an act of spiritual polytheism, on the pretext that if the heart were to have a singular attachment one can succeed faster in curtailing worldly attachments. At [other] times he turns some mindless coquette towards some demonic guru, one who seduces people or is rather a satanic highwayman. The pretext offered for this act of explicit polytheism (shirk-e jali) is that the guru is a Perfect Man and that only through the Perfect Man one can attain to the realm of absolute transcendence, which is not manifested except in the mirror of the guru. At the end of their lives, the two of them-that one with the memory of his favourite's cheek and this one with the inverted face of his guru-join the world of demons and satans, and neither the former gets rid of his bestial attachment nor the latter reaches the goal through this blind alley.

It should be known that since the believer's journey is on a Straight Path and his heart is upright(erect), his orientation is towards Allah and his way is the middle path. As a result, in that world too his path is clear and straight, his posture upright, and his appearance and character, his inward and outward, have a human form and shape. One can understand the character of the heart of the polytheists in contrast to this. As his heart deviates from the Divine nature, and strays from the central point of perfection and the hub of light and beauty, departing from submission to the absolute Guide and Guardian (Wali) and preoccupied with its own ego and egoism, the world and its ornaments(jewel), consequently in the other worlds also it is not resurrected with the straight human character and form but in the form of an animal with a head turned about. That is so because, in that world, form and shape are subject to the character of the heart and the outward reflects the inward and the shell is the image of the kernel. The matter of that realm is not averse to accepting the inward malakuti forms as in this world, and this thesis has been established in its proper place. Hence the hearts which are averse to the Truth and Reality and deviate from straight nature, oriented and directed as they are towards the world, their image too, like themselves, deviates from straightness, being inverted, facing the world and physical nature (tabi`at), which is the lowest of the low. Perhaps, in that world some would walk on their faces with their feet upwards, some on their bellies, and some on their hands and feet, like animals, the way they in fact walked in this world:

Is he who goes inverted on his face more rightly guided or he who walks upright on a straight path? (67:22)

It is possible that this metaphor in the metaphoric world becomes a reality in the realm of reality and manifestation of spirituality. In some noble traditions relating to the exegesis of this noble verse, the `Straight Path' is interpreted as referring to Hadrat Amir al-Mu'minin and the Infallible Imams, may peace be upon them:

In al-Kafi (al-Kulayni reports) with his isnad from Abu al-Hasan al-Madi (al-Imam Musa al-Kazim) that (Muhammad b. al-Fudayl) says: [When asked concerning the meaning of the verse], "Is he who goes inverted on his face more rightly guided or he who walks upright on a straight path?" The Imam replied, 'Verily, God has struck a similitude [in this verse]: one who deviates from the wilayah of 'Ali [may peace be upon him] is like one who walks on his face and is not guided, and He has made one who follows him as one who walks upright on a straight path, and 'the Straight Path' is Amir al-Mu'minin, may peace be upon him.' " [10]

In another tradition the `Straight Path' is explained as meaning 'Ali, may peace be upon him, and the rest of the Imams, may peace be upon them. [11]

Also, it is narrated in the noble al-Kafi from Fudayl that he said: "I entered the Holy Mosque (of Makkah) with al-Imam al-Baqir, may peace be upon him, and he was leaning upon me. Then he threw his blessed glance upon the people as we stood at the Door of Bani Shaybah. Then he said, `O Fudayl, they used to circumambulate in this manner [even] during the days of the Jahiliyyah! They neither recognized any truth nor followed any creed. O Fudayl, look at them, they walk inverted on their faces! May God damn them, they are a disfigured creation walking on their faces." Then he recited the noble verse, Is he who goes inverted on his face more rightly guided or he who walks upright on a straight path. Then he added, "By God, that means `Ali, may peace be upon him, and his awsiya', may peace be upon them." [12]

In the foregoing we have explained how the journey and the movement of the Perfect Man are on the Straight Path. However, the exposition of the matter that the Perfect Man is the Straight Path itself is beyond our purpose in this discourse.

Complimentary Note: The Hypocrite's Heart and the Difference Between it and the Believer's Heart:

The states of the heart of the believer and the polytheist-and even that of the unbeliever-became known from the exposition in the foregoing section. A comparison also discloses the state of the hypocrite's heart. That is because the believer's heart has nor departed from its original innocent and clear nature and it naturally accepts any truths relating to faith and the true teaching. The harmony and compatibility between the nourishment-which consists of the truths and the teachings-and the nourished one-which is the heart in its state of original nature-is preserved. Hence in another tradition of the noble al-Kafi, the believer's heart has been said to be `open' (maftuh), and although this `opening' may refer to one of the `threefold openings' (futhat-e thalathah), [13] this meaning is also appropriate.

However, as the hypocrite's heart has obscurities and darkness formed in it contrary to the human nature, such as ignorant prejudices (ta'assubhaye jahiliyyat), blameworthy moral traits, vanity, ambition, and other qualities contrary to the [primal] nature, it is closed and sealed. It is not at all receptive to the word of truth and its tablet is like a page of paper that is totally blackened, on which nothing can be inscribed. Its pretense of religiosity, arising from its satanic character, is a means to secure worldly benefit and advancement in mundane matters.

It should be known that the hearts of the polytheist and the hypocrite are both inverted and sealed, as is clear and evident. But the attribution of one of these qualities to each of them in particular is for the reason that, as the hearts of the polytheists are turned in worship towards other than That which is Absolute Perfection, they have two properties and characteristics: one is sincere humility [in front of the object of worship] and another is the deficiency and obfuscation created by this humility, which is diverted towards imperfect beings and creatures. Hence their hearts are inverted and this is their predominant characteristic(typical). As to the hypocrite, he is either a polytheist in reality-and in this respect he shares equally with the polytheists the quality of inversion of the heart-besides possessing an additional quality [i.e. hypocrisy], or he is an unbeliever in reality and possesses no religiosity. Although his heart too is inverted, it has another quality which is predominant. That additional quality is his outward pretense of following the truth. He enters the congregation of the followers of the Truth and hears all the truthful preaching that is heard by the believers. Yet, while the believer absorbs them due to his inner purity and open heart, the hypocrite fails to receive them due to the darkness and obscurities of his heart, which is closed and sealed.

The reason for singling out for mention from among the attributes of the believer the two characteristics, of gratitude on being favoured with gifts and patience in trials, is the salient character of these two among the believer's qualities. These are two of the major virtues from which other virtues branch out, and we have alluded to this in the exposition of some of the earlier traditions. [14] Further, the tradition refers to two of the Divine Attributes, of Glory and Beauty, or Might and Grace, each of which is manifested in the condition of tribulation and the condition of being well provided. And although tribulation belongs to the Attributes of Grace, but since it manifests through Might, it is reckoned as belonging to it, as mentioned in the discussions on Divine Names and Attributes. The believer always observes the duties of servitude between the two manifestations.

Conclusion: Neglect of the Truth Results in the Inversion of the Heart:

From the foregoing discussion it is known that the souls, though they should have belief in God and Resurrection, become inverted if they are totally absorbed by attention towards the world and preoccupied with mundane advancements while being neglectful of God. The criterion in respect of the inversion of the heart is the neglect of God and attention to the world and its cultivation. Such belief is either not faith, as mentioned in the exposition of some of the earlier traditions, [15] or is an insignificant and inadequate faith that is not inconsistent(erractic) with the inversion of the heart. In fact, one who makes a pretense of belief in transcendence and Resurrection but has no trepidation arising from such a belief and whom this belief does not lead to act with his bodily members, such a one is to be considered as belonging to the hypocrites, not as one of the believers. Possibly this sort of apparent believers, like the people of Ta'if, who in the noble tradition are mentioned as being typical of those who are believers at one time and hypocrites at another time, may altogether lose this hollow faith which has no sovereignty in the realm of their physical, bodily existence (mulk). They might leave this world in a state of complete hypocrisy to be resurrected amongst the hypocrites. This is one of the crucial matters to which our weak spirits must attach great importance, taking care that the effects of faith become established in our manifest and hidden, inner and outer, being. In the same way as we claim to possess faith in the heart, we should make our outward being also subject to its authority, so that the roots of faith become established in our hearts, not to be destroyed by any kind of obstacle or hindrance, transformation and change, so that this Divine trust of a celestial and pure heart, fashioned with its Divine nature, is returned to the Sacred Being unaffected and unsoiled by the workings of Satan and hands of treachery. And to Allah belongs all praise, at every beginning and end. '

[1]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p. 422, "kitab al-Iman wa al-kufr" "bab fi Zulmah qalb al-munafiq" hadith 2.

[2]. Al-Nihayah, vol. ii, p. 321, under z.h.r.

[3]. Author's Note. It should be known that that which is meant here is not that the science of ethics and the things which lead to the salvation and damnation of the soul are not necessary. Rather, what is meant it that that science is to considered as a mere preliminary to action, not as something of independent worth is whose pursuit and in collecting whose technical jargon one should spend a lifetime and be kept from one's real goal. ,

[4]. See under the exposition of Twenty-sixth Hadith.

[5]. See Seventeenth Hadith.

[6]. Bihar al-anwar, vol. v, p. 153, "kitab al adl wa al-ma'ad' "bab al-sa'adah wa al shaqawah" hadith 1, with a slight difference in wording.

[7]. Usul al-Kafi, vol. ii, p. 423, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr" "bab Zulmah qalb al-munafiq" hadith 3.

[8]. Ibid, vol. ii, p. 422, hadith 1:

[9]. Sadr al-Muta'allihin, Tafsir al-Quran al-Karim, vol. iv, p. 52, exegesis of 2:256 (ayat al-Kursi); See also al-Majlisi, 'Ilm al-yaqin, vol. ii, p. 967.

[10]. Al-Kafi, vol. i, p. 432, "Kitab al-hujjah" "bab fihi nukat wa nutaf min al-tamzil fi al-Wilayah" hadith 91.

[11]. Bihar al-anwar, vol. XXIV, p. 15, "kitab al-imamah" bab 24, hadith 17:

[12]. Rawdat al-Kafi, p. 288, hadith 434:

[13]. These are; al-fath al-qarib, al-fath al-mubin, and al-fath al-mutlaq.

[14]. See Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Twenty-first Hadith.

[15]. See Ninth, Twentieth and Twenty-sixth Hadith.

source : GREATER SINS Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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