Friday 14th of June 2024
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Livelihood being Apportioned and Traditions Exhorting Effort

It should be known that the like of these noble traditions whose literal import is that the rizq is apportioned and predetermined-something which is also indicated by the noble verses of the Qur'an-do not contradict the traditions which command one to seek livelihood and exhort one to make effort in one's occupation and trade, and even consider the lack of effort as reprehensible and blameworthy. Thus they consider one who fails to make an effort to seek livelihood as one whose prayers are not answered and whom God does not provide with livelihood. There are many traditions on this topic and it will suffice here to cite one hadith:

From Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, the Shaykh al-Ta'ifah (al-Tusi), may his soul be sanctified, who narrates with his isnad from 'Ali ibn `Abd al-`Aziz that he said: "Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, asked me, `What is `Umar ibn Muslim doing?' I said, `May I be made your ransom, he has devoted himself to worship and he has abandoned (desert) his trade.' He said, `Woe to him! Doesn't he know that the prayer of one who abandons the search (of livelihood) is not accepted? Indeed a group of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his Household, locked their doors and turned to worship when this verse was revealed: "And whosoever fears God, He will appoint for him a way out, and He will provide for him whence lie never reckoned" (65:3). When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his Household, came to hear about it, he summoned them and asked them, "What prompted you to do what you have done." They said, "O Messenger of Allah, God has guaranteed our livelihood and so we have turned to worship." He said to them, "The prayer of one who does that would not be accepted. You ought to seek livelihood."' [8]

The reason for the absence of contradiction between the traditions is that livelihood, and all matters for that, are subject to God's power even after one's effort. Our effort is not an independent agent in the acquisition of livelihood. Rather, to make effort is a duty of the creatures, and the ordainment of the affairs and all apparent and non-apparent means, most of which are beyond the control of the creatures, is by the determination of the Exalted Creator. Hence a human being of sound conviction and informed of the courses of matters-while he does not refrain from effort and performs his duties as prescribed by reason and revealed law, and not closing the door of effort with false(forage) excuses-still considers everything as being derived from the sacred Divine Being and does not consider anything as having any efficiency on the plane of being and its perfections. The seeker, the seeking, and the sought derive from Him. That which this noble tradition says, that the man of sound conviction does not blame anyone for the lack of increase in the people's livelihood, means that if they make the usual amount of effort they are not to be blamed. Moreover, to blame those who do not make the effort is preferable in order to induce them to effort-a point which is asserted in the noble traditions.

In fine, this theme is one of the ramifications of jabr and tafwid (predestination and free will) and one who has studied that issue can discover the underlying fact of the matter, whose elaboration is beyond the scope of our discussion.

Section: On the Signs or Soundness or Conviction:

In this noble tradition two things are considered the signs of the soundness of one's conviction. First, that one should not seek the pleasure of the people at the cost of God's displeasure and wrath. Second, one should not blame people for what God has not given them. These two are the fruits of perfect conviction, and their opposite qualities are due to the weakness of conviction and an ailing faith. In these pages, whenever appropriate, we have explained faith and conviction and their fruits. Here, too, we shall briefly mention these two qualities in their state of soundness and health as well as their opposite condition.

One should know that a man seeks the pleasure and satisfaction of people and tries to win their hearts and to be in their good graces because he considers them to be effective in matters that are of his interest. For example, one who loves money and wealth feels humble before the rich; he flatters them and is obsequious in front of them. Those who seek position and outward honour, flatter the subordinates and obsequiously seek to win their hearts somehow or another. The same thing goes on in a circle. The subordinates flatter men of position and the seekers of position flatter the mean subordinates, except those who, on the either side of the matter, have trained(reared)  themselves through spiritual discipline and seek the pleasure of God. The world and its adornments do not shake(vibrate) them, and they seek the pleasure of God in leading, and seek God and truth in following.

The Twofold Classes of the People:

The people of the world are briefly divisible into two classes. They are either those whom certitude has brought to the point that they see all the outward means and apparent agents as being subject to the perfect and eternal will of the Necessary Being. They see and seek nothing except God, and they believe that lie is the sole(solitary) Master and Agent in the world and the Hereafter. Finding a certitude unmarred by deficiency, doubt and hesitation, they have true faith in one of the noble verses of the Qur'an, which says:


Say: "O God, Master of all sovereignty, Thou givest sovereignty to whom Thou wilt, and seizest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt ....(3:26)

They consider God, the Exalted, the Master of the kingdom of being and all gifts to be from that Sacred Being. They consider all the ebbs and flows(flood)(influx) of being and all the existential perfections to be derived from the Sacred Being in accordance with the [best] order [of existence] and the [universal] good. Of course, the doors of gnosis are opened for such persons and their hearts become divine. They do not attach any worth to the pleasure and displeasure of the people and seek nothing except God's good pleasure. Their eager eyes do not seek anything except God and in their hearts and with their entire being they murmur the melody, "My God, when You grant us, who can intercept Your favour? And should You deprive us [of anything], who can restore it to us?" Hence they close their eyes to the people, their favours and their world, opening the eyes of their need on God, glorious is His Majesty. Such persons would never exchange the displeasure of God, the Exalted, with the pleasure of the entire order of beings, as stated by the Commander of Faithful, may peace be upon him. While they attach no significance to anything except God, the Exalted, and consider all existents to be in need of Allah, nevertheless, they view all with the eyes of wonder, mercy and compassion, and do not blame anyone for any matter except in order to reform and educate him. Hence such were the prophets, may peace be upon them, who viewed everything as belonging to God and as manifestations of His Beauty and Glory. They did not view God's creatures except with love and compassion, not blaming anyone in their hearts for any inadequacy and weakness, though they did blame them outwardly for the sake of the general good and the reform of the human family. This was among the fruits of the immaculate tree of certitude and faith and their understanding of the Divine laws.

However, as to the second group, they are those who are oblivious of God, and if perchance they attend, it is an inadequate attention and an incomplete faith. As a result, since attention to multiplicity and the outward causes and means has made them neglectful of the Cause of all causes, they seek the pleasure of the creatures. At times they are such that they seek to the goodwill of the weakest of creatures while preparing the means of God's displeasure and wrath. Thus they are led to accommodate to the sinners, or neglect the duty of amr bi al-ma'ruf and nahy `an al-munkar when conditions call for its performance, or they give decrees (fatwa) permitting what is unlawful, or are guilty of false(fake) testimony, or backbite and slander the faithful to please worldly people and men of outward status and position. All such conduct is due to the weakness of faith, or rather it constitutes a degree of idol worship (shirk). Such a view makes man prone to many fatal traits, including those mentioned in this noble tradition. Such a person has a bad opinion of God's servants and he treats them with enmity and hostility, blaming them and vilifying them in matters, and so on.

Section: The Views of the Mu'tazilah and the Asha`irah and the Correct Position:

Majlisi, the traditionist, may God have mercy on him, in Mir'at al-uqul, has a discussion under this noble tradition concerning whether the rizq apportioned by God, the Exalted, is confined to what is lawful and whether it includes the unlawful also. He has cited the conflicting opinions of the Ash'arites and the Mu'tazilites on this issue and the recourse taken by the two sides to traditions and narrated texts. He considers the Imami position to be in accord with the view of the Mu'tazilites that the apportioned sustenance (rizq-e maqsum) does not include the unlawful and is limited to the lawful. He also cites the arguments of the Mu'tazilah that take recourse to the literal meaning of some verses and traditions and are based on the literal meaning of `rizq'-as is the practice of the Ash'arites and the Mu'tazilites. [9] He has approved of the arguments of the Mu'tazilah and, apparently, finds their statements to be in accord with the dominant opinion of the Imamiyyah. However, it should be noted of that this issue is one of the corollaries of the problem of jabr and tafwid, and the Imami position in this regard neither conforms to that of the Asha'irah nor to that of the Mu'tazilah. Rather, the Mu'tazili position is more worthless and degenerate than that of the Ash'arites, and if some Imami theologians, may God the Exalted be pleased with them, have inclined towards it, that has been due to the neglect of the truth of the matter. As referred to earlier, the issue of jabr and tafwid has remained much vague(obscuring) in the discussions of most of the scholars of the two sects, and the controversy has not been resolved on the basis of right criteria. Hence, the relation of this issue to the problem of jabr and tafwid has gone mostly unnoticed, although it is one of its major ramifications.

Briefly, the Ash'arite belief that the lawful and the unlawful form part of the apportioned sustenance implies jabr, and the Mu'tazilite belief that the unlawful does not form part of the apportioned sustenance implies tafwid. Both of them (jabr andtafwid) are invalid and their falsity has been made evident in its appropriate place. We, in accordance with established and demonstrable principles, consider the lawful and the unlawful as apportioned by God, in the same way as we consider sins to be by Divine determination (taqdir) and decree (qada'), though it does not lead to jabr and invalidity. These pages are not appropriate for setting forth the proof and I have set a condition with myself not to discuss technical matters, myself being ignorant of their core(interior) reality. [10] Accordingly, we shall confine ourselves to this passing reference, and God is the Guide.

Marhum Majlisi has opened another discussion under this noble tradition, as to whether it is absolutely obligatory upon God, the Exalted, to provide the sustenance of His creatures or only in the case of effort on their part. [11] This is a topic which is plentiful appropriate to the principles of the theologians and one must proceed in these discussions, in general, with another approach based on metaphysical criteria and definite principles. What is preferable is to abstain right away from this kind of discussions which are not entirely fruitful, and we have pointed out earlier that the apportioning of sustenances in accordance with Divine ordainment does not contradict with the making of effort and endeavour in seeking it.


This section pertains to the explanation of the statement that God, the Exalted, has placed joy and

·  reassurance

in certitude and satisfaction and sorrow and grief in doubt and displeasure and that this is in accordance with Divine justice. On should know that the joy and comfort (rawh and rahah) mentioned in this noble tradition, and so also the grief and sorrow mentioned therein, as they are mentioned in relation to the determination and apportionment of sustenances, pertain to worldly affairs and the search and acquisition of livelihood, though in accordance with a certain interpretation their relation to affairs of the Hereafter is also correct. Here, we intend to expound this [part of the] noble tradition. One should know that a human being possessing convinced faith in God and His ordainments and reliant on the firm pillar of the Absolutely Omnipotent, Who determines all the matters in accordance with what is best for the creatures (masalih) and possesses absolute and perfect mercy and is absolutely All-compassionate and All-munificent, will of course find all difficulties become easy for him by virtue of such a conviction and to him all hardships become easy to bear. His effort in search of livelihood is very different from the quest of the worldly people and those who are afflicted with doubt and shirk. Those who rely on the apparent causes and means are continuously shaky and anxious in their pursuits. And if they face any adversity they find it very unpleasant, for they do not consider them to be accompanied with hidden benefits. Also, one who considers his felicity to lie in the attainment of the world is afflicted with pain and misery in its pursuit, losing comfort and happiness. All his attention and care is spent in that pursuit. Thus we see that worldly people are perpetually in a state of anguish and they do not possess the peace of mind or of the body. Similarly, if the world and its ornaments are taken away from them, they become subject to endless sorrow and grief. Should an affliction visit them, they lose all forbearance and strength and they have no fortitude in the face of events. The reason for it is nothing except their doubt and shaky belief in Divine ordainment and its justice, and its fruits are such matters as these. We have offered an explanation earlier in this regard and so it will be inappropriate to repeat it.

As to the explanation of the dependence of these effects on certitude and satisfaction, and of those effects on doubt and anger, of their being such by Divine ordainment, and that this ordainment is just, that depends on the explanation of the sway of the efficiency (fa'iliyyah) of God, the Exalted, throughout the planes of being, without its leading to jabr, which is invalid as well as impossible. It also depends on the causative explanation of the perfection of the order of being, and both of these theses lie outside the scope of these pages. And all praise refers to God, at every beginning and end.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, p. 57, "Kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab fadl al-yaqin," hadith 2.

[2]. Al-Majlisi, Mirat al-'uqul, vii, 359, "Kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab fadl al-yaqin," hadith 2.

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. Al-Fayd al-Kashani, al-Wafi, iv, 269.

[5]. Mir'at al-'uqul, vii, 356, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab fadl al-yaqin," hadith 2.

[6]. Al-Wafi, iv, 270.

[7]. Mir'at al-'uqul, vii, 357, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr;" "bab fadl al-yaqin," hadith 2.

[8]. Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasa'il al-Shiah, xii, 15, "kitab al-tijarah," "abwab muqiddimat al-tijarah," hadith 7.

[9]. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, al-Tafsir al-kabir, ii, 30.

[10]. Author's Note: However, as the hand is subject to His power, we have briefly offered a study of this problem in the exposition of the thirty-ninth tradition. [As stated by Imam 'Ali, may peace be upon him]:

I knew God [i.e. His omnipotence] through the annulment of decisions and the breaking up of resolves.

[11]. Mirat al-'uqul, vii, 358 "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab fadl al-yaqin," hadith 2.

With my chain of authorities reaching up to the pioneering shaykh, Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, may God's good pleasure be with him, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from al-Husayn ibn Said, from someone who narrated it from 'Ubayd ibn Zurarah, from Muhammad ibn Marid that he said, "I said to Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, "A hadith has been narrated to us from you that you said: 'When you have d the ma'rifah (i.e. of the rights of the Imam's, may peace be upon them), then do whatever you want: He replied, 'I have indeed said that.' I said to him, `Even if one were to commit adultery and theft and drink wine?' He said, 'Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un! By God, they (i.e. those who have interpreted our statements in such a manner) have not been just to us. (Is it fair for them to believe that) they would get away with whatever they do whereas we ourselves will be answerable for our acts?! What I said was that when you have d ma'rifah perform any works you want, whether its good be great or small, for they will be accepted of you.'" [1]


[In the sentence `hadithun ruwiyah.. .'], hadith is mubtada and ruwiyah is its khabar. Annaka, with fathah (on the alif) is the khabarof an elliptic mubtada (). In the statement the ma'rifah (knowledge) meant in this tradition is the ma'rifah of the Imam, may peace be upon him. In the expression ... may be either in the first or the third person. In , the is wasliyyah, and the phrase means, `if they ma'rifah, they may do whatever they want, even if it is a major sin.'

The phrase is an expression of istirja' and is said at the time of a severe and great calamity, and since this slander or misunderstanding was a great calamity, the Hadrat uttered it in order to dissociate and absolve himself totally from it.

The phrase . . . means , that is, `they have not been fair to us in [believing] that they would be quit of all accountability for their actions due to their belief in us (i.e. our imamate) while we ourselves would be accountable and answerable (for our acts): The Imam then clarifies what he had meant, that [belief in] wilayah is a prerequisite for the acceptability of works [before God], as will be discussed hereafter, God the Exalted willing.

Section: On Explanation of Absence of Contradiction between Traditions that Exhort one to Perform

`Ibadah and Abstain from Sins and other Traditions which Apparently Conflict with Them:

It should be known that if one were to refer to traditions that have been narrated concerning the states of the Noblest Messenger (S) and the Imams (a) of guidance, and study the character of their devotion (`ubudiyyah), their painstaking diligence, their lamentations and entreaties, their humility and sense of indigence, their fear(nervousness) and sorrow before the sacred station of the Lord of Majesty, and if one were to study the character of their intimate supplications before the Fulfiller of Needs-traditions whose number far exceeds what is required to establish tawatur-and similarly, if one were to refer to the counsels given by the Noble Messenger (S) to the Commander of the Faithful, may peace be upon him, and also the counsels given by the Imams to one another, as well as to the elect of the Shi'ah and their sincere followers, the greatly eloquent and emphatic exhortations that they would make warning them against disobedience to God, the Exalted-a theme with which the books of tradition and chapters relating to doctrinal and legal duties are replete-he would be convinced that certain other traditions whose apparent and literal import contradicts with these traditions are not to be taken literally. Therefore, if possible, they must be interpreted in a way that they do not conflict(fight) with those explicit and definitive traditions which constitute the essentials of the faith, or they must be reconciled. Otherwise, they must be referred back to their authors. In these pages we cannot possibly reconcile all the relevant traditions or mention even a hundredth part of them and explain them. However, it is inavoidable that we mention some of these narrations so that the truth is disclosed.


[Al-Kulayni reports) in al-Kafi with his isnad from Abu `Abd Allah [al-Imam al-Sadiq], may peace be upon him, that he said: "Our Shi'ah (followers) arc those whose hearts are informed with sorrow and grief and who are lean as a result of intense sorrow and worship. They are those who at the fall of the darkness of the night turn to it with sadness"? [2]

There are many narrations on this topic describing the characteristics of the Shi'ah.

[From him, froth al-Mufaddal, who narrates from Abu `Abd Allah [Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq], may peace be upon him, that he said, "Beware of these base people [who claim to be Shi`is]. Verily, the Shi'ah of `Ali, may peace be upon him, is none except one who is chaste in his manner of earning his livelihood and sexual conduct. [It is one] whose diligence is intense, who works for his Creator, hoping for His reward and fearing His punishment. When you see such people know that they are the followers (Shi'ah) of Ja'far." [3]

Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-'Tusi, the Shaykh at-Ta'ifah, may God's mercy be upon him, narrates with his chain of authorities from (al-Imam) al-Rida, may peace be upon him, from his father, from his grandfather. from Abu Ja'far [al-Imam al-Baqir], may peace be upon him, that he said to Khaythamah, "Convey [this message] to our followers (Shi'ah) that we do not avail them against God (that is, do not neglect works for reliance upon us). [Tell them that that which is with God cannot be attained except with works]. Tell them that, of all people, the greatest regret on the Day of Resurrection will be of those who speak about some aspect of justice but violate it in practice to do something else. 'Tell our followers that if they observe what they have been asked to, they will be triumphant on the Day of Resurrection.." [4]

In al-Kafi, [al-Kulayni narrates] with his chain of authorities, from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him, that he said, "Do not be carried away by [false] doctrines. By God, 'Our follower (Shi'ah) is none except one who obeys God.' " [5]

This means, "Do not invent [doctrinal] excuses to justify disobedience to God and do not adopt any false(counterfeits) notion that `We are Shi'ah and our attachment to the Ahl al-Bayt is the means of our salvation.' By God Our Shi'ah is none except him who obeys God, the Exalted."

[In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni reports] with his chain of authorities from Jabir, form Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him, that he (Jabir) said, "He said to me, 'O Jabir, is it sufficient for one who follows Shi`ism to claim that he loves us, the Ahl al-Bayt? 'By God, our follower (Shi'ah) is none except him who is wary of God and obeys him ....

'So fear God and work for the sake of that which is with God. There is no kinship between God and anyone. The most preferred and honoured of creatures before God, the Exalted, are those who are most Godwary amongst them and arc most obedient to His commands in their conduct.

"'O Jabir, by God, one cannot attain nearness to God except through obedience. We do not possess any guarantees of bara'ah(acquittal) from hellfire and none has an argument against God. Whoever is obedient to God is our friend (wali) and whoever is disobedient to God is our enemy, Our wilayah cannot be attained except through works and piety.' " [6]

Also, in the noble al-Kafi it is reported with a chain of authorities from al-Imam al-Baqir (Baqir al-'Ulum), may peace be upon him, that he said:

"O community of the followers of the Household of Muhammad, may God bless him and his Household! You should be those who represent the golden mean, to whom the extremists (ghali) must return and to whom those who lag behind (tali) must catch up."

A man named Sa'd belonging to the Ansar said to him, "My I be your ransom, what is an extremist (ghali)?" The Imam replied, "They are a bunch who say things about us that we do not claim for ourselves. Therefore, they do not belong to us and we do not belong to them:'

Then he asked, "What is a tali?" The imam replied, "It is one who seeks guidance but does not know its way, though he wants to work and attain goodness." Then the Imam, turning to his followers (Shi'is) said, "By God, we do not have any warrant (bara'ah) to save you from God's (wrath and punishment) and there is no kinship between God and us. We do not have any arguments before God and we do not attain nearness to Him except though obedience and compliance (to His commands). Anyone of you who obeys God will be benefited by our wilayah and friendship, but our wilayah will be of no avail to anyone among you who is disobedient to God. Woe to you, should you be conceited. Woe to you, should you be conceited:' [7]

It is also narrated in the noble al-Kafi that al-Imam al-Baqir, may peace be upon him, said,

"The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his Household, once stood on the [rock of] Safa (and addressing his kinsman] said, "O descendents of Hashim! O children of 'Abd al-Muttalib! I am the Apostle of Allah sent to you, and I having loving concern for you. Verily, my works belong to me and the works of each of you belong to him. Do not say that 'Muhammad is our kinsman and soon we will be let in wherever he enters.' No, by God, O sons of 'Abd al-Muttalib! My friends, from amongst you and the others, are none except the pious. Let it be known to you that I will not recognize you on the Day of Resurrection [as one of my Ummah] when you come carrying the world [i.e. the works done by you for the love of the world) on your backs while other people come to the bearing the Hereafter [i.e. the works done by them in faith and for the life of the Hereafter)." [8]

And it is also mentioned in the foregoing narration of Jabir that al-Imam al-Baqir, may peace be upon him, said:

O Jabir, do not let false doctrines and opinions deceive you into imagining that the love of 'Ali, may peace be upon him, is sufficient for you. Can it be sufficient for a man to declare, "I befriend 'Ali, may peace be upon hire, I and am an adherent of his wilayah," without being diligent and without working much (good) works? Truly, were he to say that I love the Messenger of Allah (and the Messenger of Allah was better than 'Ali) while neglecting to follow him in his conduct (sirah) and failing to act in accordance with his sunnah, his love would not be of any avail to him . [9]

There is a famous episode that once Tawus (a companion of the Fourth Imam) heard someone crying, lamenting and pleading. The cries continued until they ceased and it appeared as if the one who was lamenting had fallen unconscious. On approaching he saw that it was Imam 'Ali ibn al-Husayn, may peace be upon him. He took the Imam's head into his arms, and said to him: "You are the son of the Messenger of Allah and the beloved of Fatimah Zahra'. After all the paradise belongs to you!" He said these words in order to console the Imam. That master replied, "God has created paradise for one who worships Him and obeys him, even if it were an Ethiopian slave, and He has created the hell for those who disobey him even if it were a Qurayshite" (or the chief of the Quraysh)! [10]

These were solve of the sacred traditions, clear and explicit, suggesting the falsity and wrongness of these false hopes of ours, as sinners and lovers of the world-hopes which derive from satanic longings and are contrary to reason and revelation (naql).

Add to these the noble Qur'anic verses, such as these statements of God, the Exalted:


Every sold is pledged for what it has earned. (74:38)

And such statements of God, the Exalted, as:

Whoever does an atoms weighs of good will see it, and whoever works an atom's weight of evil will see it. (99:7-8)

And such other statements as:

In its favour (i.e. the soul's) will be whatever [good] it has earned, and to its detriment will be whatever [evil] it has worked. (2:286)

And there are other noble verses besides, present on every page of the Divine Scripture, and to explain them away or to meddle with their meaning is contrary to (logical) necessity.

As against these there are other traditions which are also recorded in authentic books (for detail read next unit “unit70” )  but which are, as a rule, capable of reconciliation [with the above mentioned traditions]. And even if a reconciliation should appear to be unsatisfactory and were they not susceptible to reinterpretation (ta'wil), it is neither in accordance with sound reason or the interest (darurah) of Muslims to go against all these authentic (sahih), explicit, and muttawatir traditions which are confirmed by the literal meanings of the Qur'an and the unambiguous texts of the  Furqan.   




















                                       Unit   70



 Among these traditions is that which has been narrated by the Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni with his chain of authorities from Yusuf ibn Thabit ibn Abi Said from Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, that he said:

Nothing can spoil one by the side of faith, and nothing call benefit one by the side of unbelief. (kufr) [11]

There are several other traditions bearing this theme, [12] The honoured traditionist Majlisi, may [God's] mercy be upon him, has interpreted this group of traditions with the suggestion that the `harm' [in the above tradition] means `entry(arrival)  into hellfire' or `remaining in hell for ever.' [13]

This interpretation-that what is meant by `harm' is entry into hell-does not preclude (that it might be accompanied with) other torments in Barzakh (Purgatory) and in the halts of the Day of Resurrection.

This writer thinks that these traditions may be interpreted as implying that faith illumines the heart is such a manner that if supposedly an error or sin is committed by man it is compensated, by the means of the light and faculty of faith, with repentance and penitent return to God, and the person possessing faith in God and the Hereafter does not leave his works unattended until the Day of Reckoning. On this basis, these traditions, in fact, exhort one to hold on to faith and to remain in the state of faith, like a similar tradition narrated in the noble al-Kafi from al-Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, that Moses, may peace be upon hint(implication), said to Khidr, may peace be upon him, "I have been honoured by your company. Give me some counsel." Khidr said to him, "Hold on to that with which nothing would harm you and without which nothing will be of any benefit to you." [14]

And among these is this tradition:

(Al-Kulayni reports) with his chain of authorities from Muhammad ibn al Rayyan ibn al-Salt, who narrates in a marfu' tradition from Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, that he said: "The Commander of the Faithful, may peace be upon him, often used to say in his sermons:: 'O people! Take care of your creed (din)! Take care of your creed! For a vice committed in it is better than a virtue performed outside it. The vice committed in it is forgiven, and the virtue performed without it is not accepted.' [15]

This noble tradition and others like it, whose aim is to exhort people to follow the right religion, imply that the vices of the faithful and the followers of the true religion are ultimately pardoned, as God says:

Verily, God would pardon all sins. (39: 53)

It is on this basis that it may be said that their vices are better than the virtues of others, which are never accepted (by God). Perhaps, acts of virtue which lack the conditions of acceptance, such as faith (iman) and wilayah, possess a greater darkness. In brief, this tradition does not imply that the faithful are quit of their vices.

One of them is the famous tradition which is said to be welt-known (mashhur) amongst both the groups (i.e. the Shi'ah and the Sunnis):

The love of 'Ali is a virtue by whose side no sin is harmful, and his enmity is a vice with which no virtue is of any benefit. [16]

This noble tradition is similar to the hadith mentioned earlier concerning faith (iman). Its meaning is either in accordance with the probability suggested by marhum Majlisi, that the meaning of `harm' is eternal confinement in hell or entry(arrival) into it. That is, the love of that master is the essence of faith, its perfection and completion, which results in one's being rescued from hell with the means of the intercession of the Intercessors. This interpretation, as pointed our earlier, does not preclude one's having to undergo the various torments of the Purgatory (Barzakh), as stated in a hadith where [the Imam] has said, "We shall intercede for you on the Day of Resurrection, but the care of your life in the Purgatory is up to yourselves." [17] Or it means what we have mentioned, that the love of that master results in the emergence of a luminosity and faculty [of faith] in the heart that prompt one to refrain from sins. And should one become afflicted with sin on occasion, he would remedy it through repentance and penitence, not allowing the matter to get out of hand and not permitting the carnal self to break loose its reins.

Moreover, there is a group of traditions that are cited under the following noble verse of the Surat al-Furqan:

[The servants of the All-merciful are those... ] who. call not upon another god with God, nor slay the soul God has forbidden except by right, neither fornicate for whosoever does that shall meet the price of sin doubled shall be the chastisement for him on the Resurrection Day, and he shall dwell therein humbled, save him who repents, and believes, and does righteous work those, God shall change their evil deeds into good deeds, for God is ever All-forgiving, All-compassionate. (25:68-70)

There are numerous traditions that are cited (in exegeses) under this verse and we shall confine ourselves to citing only one of them, for they are quite close to one another in meaning and content:

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi, in his Amali, reports with his chain of authorities from the highly regarded traditionist Muhammad ibn Muslim al-Thaqafi, may God's good pleasure be with him, that he narrated: "I asked Abu Ja'far, Muhammad ibn 'Ali, may peace be upon them, concerning the statement of God, Almighty and Glorious: `Those, God will change their evil deeds into good deeds, and God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.''

He replied, `The sinful believer will be brought on the Day of Resurrection until he is made to stand in the halt of reckoning. The God, the Exalted, Himself would take charge(assignment) of his reckoning and none of mankind will come to know about his account [of deeds]. Then He will inform the believer of his sins that he may confesses to his sins. God, the Almighty and the Glorious, shall say to the scribes [the angels who write men's deeds), "Change them into good deeds and disclose them to the people." Thereat people will say, "'This servant did not perpetrate a single sin!" Then God shall order him to be escorted into paradise. This is the interpretation (ta'wil) of the verse, and that relates particularly to the sinners from amongst our followers (Shi'ah)."' [18]

The reason for citing the above noble verse completely and prolonging the discussion is that the topic is of a major importance and many of the sermonizers (ahl-e minbar) interpret such traditions in a misleading manner for the people. Their connection with the noble verse would not have been revealed without the citation of the noble verse. On this basis, I am compelled to protract the discussion, even if it should be tiresome.

If one were to study the latter part of the verse, one would know that all people are absolutely responsible for their deeds and accountable for their ugly actions, excepting those who attain faith and repent for their sins and perform righteous deeds. This is how al-Imam al-Baqir, may peace be upon hire, has explained the verse, describing the character of the reckoning of such persons, which, however, is special to the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt and other people do not partake of it. That is because [true] faith is not realized except with the wilayah of 'Ali and his infallible and pure successors (awsiya'), may peace be upon there. Rather, faith in God and the Messenger would not be accepted without wilayah, as will be mentioned in the next section, God willing. Hence this noble verse and the traditions relating to its interpretation must be considered as belonging to the primary proofs, for they imply that if a person should possess faith and should he compensate for his sins with repentance and righteous deeds, he would not be covered by this verse.

Hence, my dear, let not Satan delude you and let not carnal appetites deceive you. Of course, a lazy person afflicted with lusts and the love of the world, property, and position-such as this author-is always after finding some pretext in order to justify his laziness. He turns to anything that agrees with his appetites and affirms his carnal lusts and satanic imaginings, opening his eyes and ears to it without delving into its real meaning and without considering that which contradicts it and is opposite to it. Poor man, he imagines that he is, God forbid, permitted every unlawful act and is untouched by the pen of accountability,na'udubillah, at the mere claim of being a Shi'ah and attached to the Household of Purity and Infallibility. Wretched man! he does not know that Satan has made him blind. There is always the danger that this hollow and futile love would also slip(staggered) out of his hands at the end of his life and he would be resurrected empty-handed within the ranks of the enemies (nawasib) of the Ahl al-Bayt. The claim of love is not acceptable from someone who has no proof to substantiate it. It is not possible that I may love you and be sincerely attached to you while my conduct is contrary to all your goals and objectives. The fruit of true love is deeds that are in harmony with that love. And should it lack this fruit, one must know that it was not [real] love but only an imaginary fancy.

The Noble Messenger and his honoured Household, may God bless them, spent all their lives in disseminating the law, morality and doctrines [of Islam] and their sole(solitary) objective was to communicate the commands of God and to reform and refine human beings. They willingly bore hardships when they were killed, plundered, and insulted in the way of these goals and did not flinch from marching ahead. Hence their follower (Shi'ah) and lover (mu`hibb) is one who shares their objectives, moves in their footsteps, and follows their traditions. The fact that verbal confession and practical action have been considered as essential elements (muqawwimat) of faith in the noble traditions is a natural secret and a prevailing law of God, because the reality of faith is essentially associated with expression and action. It is intrinsic in the nature of the lover to express his love and passionate yearning (taghazzul) for the Beloved, and to act as required by faith and the love of God and His awliya'. If someone does not act, he does not have faith and love. And his apparent faith and his hollow and soulless love would be wiped out by some slight accident, including the pressures [of the deathbed and the grave] and one would enter the abode of retribution empty-handed.

Section: Wilayah of the Ahl al-Bayt, the Condition for Acceptability of Works:

That which is implied by the latter part of the noble tradition [being expounded]-that wilayah and ma'rifah are prerequisites for the acceptance of works-is a matter that is one of the definite, or rather necessary, doctrines of the sacred Shi'i religion. The traditions on this topic are too numerous to be cited in these brief expositions and their number exceeds the limits of tawatur. However, we shall cite some of them in these pages for tabarruk's sake:

[Al-Kulayni] in al-Kafi reports with his isnad from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him, that he said: "'The crux of the matter, and its key, the door of things and the pleasure of the Beneficent-all lie in obedience to the Imam after having known him ....

"Be aware that the man who spends his nights in prayer and his days in fasting and gives as all his property as charity (sadaqah) and performs hajj throughout his life without knowing the wilayah of the Wali of God and without following him, and without conducting himself, in all his actions, according to his guidance-[such a person] has no right to any reward from God and is not one of the faithful:' [19]

[In Wasa'il al-Shi'ah it is recorded] with a chain of authorities from Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, that he said "Whoever does not come to God, the Almighty and the Glorious, on the Day of Resurrection with a creed that you follow, no virtue of his will be accepted nor will any sin of his be overlooked.." [20]

[In Wasa'il al-Shi'ah] it is reported, in a hadith, with a chain of authorities from Abu 'Abd Allah, may peace be upon him that he said, "By God, were Iblis-may God damn him-to prostrate to God for as long as the world lasts after his disobedience and pride, that would not benefit him, and God would not accept it as long as he does not prostrate to Adam as commanded by God, the Almighty and the Glorious. The same applies to this disobedient and misguided Ummah after its abandoning the Imam appointed for them by their Prophet. Hence God will not accept any of their acts nor elevate any of their good works unless they carry out what God has commanded them and follow the Imam, to whose authority (wilayah) they have been commanded by God to submit, and enter through the door that God and His Messenger have opened for them . . . ." [21]

There are many traditions bearing this theme and it may be inferred from all of them that the recognition of wilayah is a condition for the acceptability of works, or, rather, that it is the condition for the acceptability of faith in God and the prophethood of the honoured Prophet (S). However, as to its being a condition for the validity of the works, as stated by some scholars, that is not certain. Rather, that which is apparent is that it is not a condition, as is suggested by many traditions, such as the tradition concerning the non-necessity of the repetition (qada') of his acts of worship by a convert to Shi`ism (mustabsir).

Excepting the zakat which he had given during the period of his error to those who did not deserve it, he is not required to perform the qada of his other acts of worship and God would reward him for them. [22] It is mentioned in another tradition that "other acts such as prayer, fasts, hajj and sadaqah would join you and follow you excepting the zakat which was paid earlier to those who had no right to receive it and has to be paid to its deserving recipients." [23] And it is mentioned in some traditions that the acts [of the Ummah] are presented to the Messenger of God (S) on Thursdays, and God, the Exalted, reviews them on the Day of `Arafah and makes them all like dust scattered. The Imam was asked as to who are the persons whose acts are thus treated. The Imam replied that they are the acts of those who are hostile to its and hostile to our followers. [24]

And this tradition, as is clear, implies the (legal) validity and non-acceptability of the acts. In any case the pursuit of this matter is beyond our present purpose. And all praise belongs to God, firstly and lastly.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, 464, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr;"'bib anna al-iman la yadurru ma'ahu sayyi'ah," hadith 5

[2]. Ibid., ii, 233, "kitab-al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab al-mu'min wa `alamatuh," hadith 7.

[3]. Ibid., ii, 233, hadith 9.

[4]. Al-Amali, p. 380, juz' 13.

[5]. Usul al-Kaf i, ii, 73, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab al-ta'ah wa al-taqwa," hadith 1.

[6]. Ibid., ii, 74, hadith 3.

[7]. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 75, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab al-ta'ah wa al-taqwa," hadith 6.


[8]. Rawdat al-Kafi, viii, 182, hadith 205.

[9]. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 74, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab al-ta'ah wa al-taqwa," hadith 3.

[10]. Bihar al-anwar, vol. 46. pp. 81-82, "Ta'rikh 'Ali ibn al-Husayn (A)," bab 5, hadith 75.

[11]. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 464 "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab anna al-iman la yadurru ma'ahu sayyi'ah," hadith 4.

[12]. Ibid., hadith 3, 5-6.

[13]. Al-Majlisi, Mir'at al-uqul, xi, 396, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab anna al-iman la yadurru ma'ahu sayyi'ah," hadith 2.

[14]. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 464, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," bab anna al-iman la yadurru ma'ahu sayyi'ah," hadith 2.

[15]. Ibid., ii, 464, hadith 6.

[16]. Al-Manaqib, iii, 197.

[17]. Ibid., hadith 4, footnote No. 33.

[18]. Al-Amali, p. 70, juz' 3.

[19]. Usul al-Kafi, ii, 19, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bib da'aim al-Islam," hadith 5.

[20]. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, i, 91, "kitab al-taharah," "abwab muqaddimat al-ibadat," hadith 3.

[21]. Ibid., p. 92, hadith 5.

[22]. Ibid., p. 97, bab 31, hadith 1.

[23]. Ibid.,

[24]. Bihar al-anwar, xxiii, 345, "kitab al-imamah," bab 20, hadith 37.


With a chain of authorities reaching up to the Thiqat al-Islam Muhammad ibn Ya'qub at-Kulayni, may God sanctify his soul, from several of our companions, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid, from Isma'il ibn Mihran, from Abu Said al-Qummat, from Aban ibn Taghlib, from Abu Ja'far, may peace be upon him, that he said: "When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and his Household, was taken on his [celestial] journey, he said [to God]: `My Lord, what is the state of the believer before Thee?' He replied, `O Muhammad, indeed whoever humiliates a friend(comrade) of mine declares a war against me and I am the swiftest of all in the aid of My friends. And I am not so hesitant in any thing that I do as when taking the life of the faithful person who hates death, and I hate to vex him. And indeed there are those amongst My faithful servants whom nothing can reform except wealth, and should I turn them towards something other than that they would perish. And indeed there are those amongst my faithful servants whom nothing would reform except poverty, and if I were to change their state from what it is they would perish. And there is nothing dearer among things that bring a servant of Mine near to Me than the obligations that I have assigned to him. And indeed he draws nearer to Me gradually through supererogatory acts until I love him, and when I love him, I become the hearing with which he hears, the sight wherewith he sees, the tongue wherewith he speaks, and the hand wherewith he holds, and if he calls Me, I answer him, and if he asks Me I grant him: " [1]


The verb is in the passive sense and means being taken on a night of a journey. Al-Jawhari says:

hence a journey by night is called (isra'). The descriptive [expression by night,' laylan, used with the verb asra] in the noble verse:

Glorified is He who took His servant on a night journey .....(17:1).

is either, as stated by Shaykh Baha'i, [2] for the purpose of indicating the short period of the night journey by the means of the indefinite (tankir) laylan, because the journey between the Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid al-Aqsa takes forty nights. Or it is based on abstraction (tajrid) meant for the purpose of conveying the same sense. In the phrase ('when the Prophet was taken on the nightly journey') the related explanatory phrases-`towards the station of Divine proximity for instance'-have been omitted due to their being understood.

The expression means, 'what station and worth does the believer have before Thee?' In the expression conveys the sense of despising, making light of, scorning, vilifying:

Apparently the prefix (in ) refers to the verb, in which case it would be mean making light of a believer for his faith in God and for the sake of God, the Exalted. It is also possible that it relates to wali; in which case, that which is meant is `making light of in the absolute sense, for any reason whatsoever. Wali here means friend and intimate.

In the expression means to go out

and here it means to commence hostility and to go to war or to declare it.

The expression is the verbal noun (masdar mimi) of , meaning causing distress and vexation.

In regard to the statement:

the authoritative Shaykh Baha'i, may God have mercy upon him, says: The rules of grammar require that the relative pronoun (mawsul, i.e. ) should be the subject (ism) and the genitive proposition and the genitive clause (jarr wa majrur, i.e ) its predicate (khabar); but it is obvious that the intent is not to say that those whom nothing but poverty can reform are some of the servants, but rather the contrary. Therefore, it is better to consider the adverbial clause as the subject and the relative pronoun as the predicate. And although this is contrary to general usage, the like of it has been considered permissible by some, as in the statement of God, the Exalted:

(Here ends his statement.) [3] Perhaps in such cases the subject (mubtada') is elleptical and the genitive proposition is indicative of the elision. In such a case it would also not be contrary to the rules of grammar. And it is narrated from the author of al-Kashshaf [i.e al-Zamakhshari] [4] that [in such cases] the genitive pronoun and the clause in the genitive case are interpreted to be the subject. On the basis of that which has been said, there is also no need of any interpretation.

We should know that this statement, here, is meant to dispel a doubt and to answer a question that might arise in the minds of some people who do not have the understanding of the perfect divine order [of creation] and the concealed Divine providence. That [doubt and question] is that if the faithful have such a worth and station before God, the Exalted, why do they fall into poverty and destitution? And if the world does not have any worth, why do some of them become rich and wealthy. It answers by saying that the states of My servants and the conditions of their hearts are different.

There are some whom nothing except poverty would reform, and I make him poor to reform their state. And there are some whom nothing would reform except wealth and self-sufficiency, and so I make them rich. Both of these states signify the nobility, honour, and dignity that the man of faith has in the sacred presence of God, the Blessed and the Exalted.

The sentence .... ('and there is nothing dearer among things that bring a servant of Mine nearer to Me . . . ') and the following sentence describe the station of nearness of the Perfect in faith.

It is as if this hadith, wherein the state of the faithful is described for the Noble Messenger (S), first begins by giving a brief description of the state of the faithful in general, that whoever despises them declares war against God. Then, it divides the faithful into two classes, or rather three, in accordance with the way of the gnostics.

One of them referred to is the generality of the faithful, from the phrase `And I am not so hesitant . . . ,' up to where He says: `And there is nothing dearer among things . . . .' That is because they detest death, and wealth and poverty causes their hearts to swerve. These two are not the characteristics of the Perfect (kummal) but refer to the ordinary among the faithful. Accordingly, the literal import of the tradition poses no problem and it does not conflict with other noble traditions which state that the Sincere amongst the faithful do not have aversion for death. Hence there is no need for the answer cited by Shaykh Bahai from the Shaykh-e Shahid, may God be pleased with them. Anyone interested in it should refer to Shaykh Baha'i's Arba'in. [5]

Secondly, the tradition describes the state of the Perfect from where it says, "There is nothing among the things that bring a servant of Mine near to Me ... ( ... ), upto the end of the hadith. In the view of the gnostics, these sentences relate to two different groups. One of them consists of those who obtain the nearness relating to obligatory duties (fara'id) and the other consists of those who obtain the nearness associated with the supererogatory acts of worship (nawafil), [6] and the closing part of the tradition refers to their station and the result of their nearness. Later, God willing, we will briefly refer to each of these two stations.

As to the word , al-Jawhari says that batshah means domination and taking by force:

Here, however, that which is meant is taking hold of (akhdh), in general, and, apparently, the general sense of `taking hold of is that which is meant by the word in common usage.

A Noteworthy Point:

The learned Shaykh Baha'i, may Allah have mercy upon him, says, "The Chain of authorities of this hadith is sahih [authentic], and it is a tradition 'well-known (mashhur) among the Shi`is (khassah) as well as the generality Ammah, i.e. the Sunnis], who have narrated it in their sihah with a slight `variation." Thereafter, he cites the tradition with a slight difference [of Wording] from their sihah. In the gloss on the Arba'in, he remarks, "One of `the `several' mentioned in the chain of authorities of the tradition is 'Ali ibn 'Ibrahim, and for this reason, this narration is sahih. The `Ammah have also transmitted it through a sahihchain of authorities, and this is a tradition that is mashhur and considered authentic by the consensus (muttafaq `alayh) of all followers of lslam:' [7]

Section: Concerning Interpretation of the 'Hesitation' Ascribed to God:

We have already explained matters relating to the contempt of the faithful :earlier while expounding one of the traditions, [8]and there is no need to repeat it here. Here we will explain some other expressions relating to the tradition.

It should be known that that which is mentioned in this noble tradition concerning the ascription of hesitation (tardid, tarddud)to God, the Exalted, and similar other matters that are mentioned in sahih traditions, or rather even in the wise Divine scripture-such as the attribution of change of intent (bada) or testing (imtihan) to God, the Exalted-have been interpreted by the `ulama' in accordance with their own approach and creed. The august Shaykh Baha'i, may God's good pleasure be with him, has given three interpretations of it in his book Arba'in, to which we will refer briefly. First, that there is a concealed condition (idmar) in the statement, meaning `if it were possible for Me to hesitate.' Second, since it is common among people to hesitate in offending those whom they respect, a hesitation which they do not show for others, it is valid to mention hesitation as a metaphorical substitute for respect. What is meant is, `None of the creatures have such worth and respect before Me as a faithful person has.'

The third interpretation is that God, the Exalted, as mentioned in traditions, reveals the favours and the good news to the faithful servant at the time of death to remove his aversion towards death and to awaken in him a desire for the abode of permanence. Hence He has likened this state to the state of one who wants to subject his friend(comrade) to a pain which is followed by a great benefit. Such a one hesitates as to how to inflict this pain so that the friend suffers the least. Thus he continues to appeal and allure until he obtains acceptance. [9]

An `Irfani Explanation:

The way of the philosophers and the gnostics in this and similar issues is a different one. We shall refrain from elaborating it due to its being remote from [ordinary] understanding and will not discuss its [metaphysical] premises. We shall mention only as much as can be educative and accords with spirituality.

It should be known that all the planes of existence, from the ultimate heights of Malakut and the last peaks of Jabarut to the lowest depths of the world of darkness and prime matter, are manifestation of Divine Beauty and Glory (jamal wa jalal) and the degrees of the manifestations of God's Lordship. No being has any independence of its own and everything is sheer dependence, relation, poverty, and attachment to the sacred being of the Absolute Real. All of them are absolutely subject to the sovereignty of God and submissive to the Divine commands. Accordingly, there are many references to this matter in the Qur'anic verses. God, the Exalted, has said:

And when thou threwest, it was not thou that threw, but God threw .... (8:17)

This affirmation and negation refers to the position of amr bayn al-amrayn. [10] It means that you have indeed thrown (the lance), but at the same time it was not your ego that performed the act of throwing independently. Rather, it was with the manifestation of the power of God in the mirror of thy existence and through the influence of His Power in the Mulk and theMalakut of thy being that the throwing occurred. Hence you are the thrower, and at the same time it is God, Glorious and Exalted, Who is the thrower. An example of it are the noble verses of the blessed Surat al-Kahf, in the story of Moses and Khidr, may peace be upon them, where Hadrat Khidr explains the mystery behind his actions. In one case involving a defect [i.e. where Khidr makes a hole in the boat], he ascribes it to himself. In one case, which involved perfection, he ascribes it to God. In another case, he ascribes the act to both himself and to God. In one place he says ('I wished'), in another place ('Thy Lord wished'), and in yet another place ('We wished'), and all of these [ascriptions] were correct. [11]

Of the same kind is the statement of God, the Exalted,

God takes the souls at tire time of their death, (39:42)

although it is the Angel of Death who is charged with [According to another Qur'anic verse]: the taking of the souls.

He leads astray whoever He will and guides whoever He will ....(16:93)

it is God, the Exalted, who is the guide (al-hadi) and it is He who leads astray (al-mudill), although the guides are Gabriel (Jibra'il) and the Noble Messenger, may God bless him and his Household:

Thou are only a warner and a guide to every people, (13:7)

and it is Satan who misleads.

Similarly it is the Divine breath that sounds the trumpet of Hadrat Israfil through the blowing of Israfil.

From one viewpoint, what are Israfil, `Izra'il and Jibra'il and Muhammad, may God bless him and his Household, as well as other prophets and the entire realm of being in comparison to the kingdom of the Absolute Sovereign and the irresistible Divine will that anything may be ascribed to them? All of them are manifestations of the Divine Power and Will:

And it is He who in heaven is God and in earth is God. (43:84)

From another viewpoint, that is, from the aspect of multiplicity and the order of causes and means, all the means are appropriate in their own place and the perfect order of creation is regulated through a system and hierarchy of means, causes and effects. And if the smallest of causes and means is withheld from doing its work the entire wheel of existence will come to a halt. And were it not for the relation of the temporal to the eternal, through the determined means and intermediaries, the path of Divine effusion (fayd) would be intercepted and the stream of Divine mercy would be cut off. If someone were to attain to this refreshing fountainhead of faith through the study of the fundamentals and the preliminaries, established in their own place, especially in the 'irfani books of the eminent [`urafa'] and the books of the Chief of Philosophers and the Best of Islamic Philosophers (Sadr al-hukama' wa al-falasifah wa afdal al-hukama' al-Islamiyyah, i.e. Sadr al-Muta'allihin, known as Mulla Sadra), and should this teaching enter his heart, these doors would be opened for him and he would find that at the plane of gnostic discovery all these ascription are valid and there is not the slightest trace of the metaphorical in them.

Since some of the angels, charged with the souls of the faithful and the taking of their sacred souls, behold the stations that the faithful possess in the sacred presence of God, the Exalted, and, on the other hand, when they observe the aversion of the faithful [towards death], they get into a state of hesitation and indecision. It is this very state that God, the Exalted, hay attributed to Himself, in the same way that He has ascribed the taking of souls, the guidance and the misleading to Himself. In the same way as those are correct on the basis of the mystic creed, this one is also valid. However, attaining to this fountain requires a fairness of talent and a sound and subtle taste. And God is the All-knowing and He is the Guide.

This point should not remain unmentioned that since the reality of existence is the very reality of perfection and completion, that which is defective and ugly is not attributable to God, the Exalted, and is not the object of creation (maj'ul), as is established in its own place. Hence the closer the effusion (fayd) to the horizon of perfection and the more devoid it is of weakness and deficiency, its relation to God is more complete and its ascription to the Sacred Being truer. Conversely, the more predominant is the darkness of finitude and non-existence, and the more numerous the limits and inadequacies, the weaker is a thing's relation to God and the more remote its attribution. That is why the acts of origination and creation have been more often ascribed to God in the language of the Shari'ah and the transient mulki acts less often. Should an open eye and an awakened heart be able to distinguish inadequacy from perfection, the ugly from the fair, and the good from the evil, it would then understand that although the entire realm of being is the manifestation of Divine efficiency and related to God, all the Divine acts are perfect and beautiful and none of the defects and evils are attributable to His Sacred Being. That which is called `attribution by accident' (intisab bi al-arad) in the jargon of the philosophers (hukama'), may God be pleased with them, is a rumour at the plane of preliminary teaching and philosophy. This notion, in the present context, contains certain fallacies, and it is better to refrain from discussing them here.

Our main purpose in discussing this point was, firstly, to dispel certain false doubts that may arise in the mind of the ignorant person devoid of the knowledge of the higher teaching.

Secondly, the aim was to explain that the hesitation and conflicting motives [mentioned in the tradition], as they happen to some beings of the Malakut, are more validly ascribed to God, than the events that occur(materialize) in this [corporeal] world.

Thirdly, the aim was that a person possessing the gnosis of the realities should again distinguish between the aspect of perfection and deficiency in this hesitation and vacillation of motives, and attribute the aspect of perfection to God and negate the aspect of deficiency in relation to Him.

A Complementary Note on Another interpretation of the Tradition of Hesitation:

There is another interpretation of the noble tradition relevant to this context, which had come to the mind of this incapable author. And that is that the servants of God are either the gnostics and the awliya' who are engaged in the journey towards God and on the path of the people of the heart. This group of servants are absorbed in the Divine and in love with the unique Divine Beauty. The Sacred Essence of God is the qiblah of their attention and yearning, and apart from Him they do not behold any of the worlds, even themselves and their own perfection.

Or they are those who are immersed in the adornments of the world and sunk in the darkness of the love of glory and wealth, and the faces of their hearts are turned towards their own ego and egohood, without paying any attention to the world of the sacred and the celestial company of intimacy and love. These-they are the ones who have turned away from the Names of God ( )

And the third group are the believers who attend to the world of the sacred in accordance with the light of their faith and they abhor death in proportion to their attention to this world. God has referred to these opposing attractions towards the Mulk and the Malakut, towards the Divine and the creation, towards the Hereafter and the world, as hesitation as attraction towards two opposite sides is present in hesitation. It is as if He were saying that this Mulki and Malakuti attraction is not present in any existent the way it is present in the faithful servant. On the one hand he is averse to death due to his attention towards the realm of Mulk, and on the other hand the Divine gravity draws him towards Itself in order to bring him to, his perfection. Hence God, the Exalted, is averse to do him offence which is equal to his remaining in the world of Mulk, and he himself is averse to death. However, other people are not such, because the awliya' do not have any Mulki attraction, and those immersed in the world do not possess any Malakuti attraction.

The meaning of attribution of these opposing attractions to God is the same as mentioned in the former interpretation. In this context the great researcher and the majestic sayyid, Mir Damad, [12] and his honoured disciple have made certain disclosures whose mention will further prolong this discourse.

Section: Concerning God's Reforming of the State of the Faithful through Poverty and Wealth:

From that which is stated in this noble tradition, that nothing will reform some of My servants except poverty and should I deprive them of it they would perish, and similarly there are some who will be reformed by wealth and sufficiency and will decay without it, it is known that whatever God, the Exalted, bestows upon the faithful, whether it is wealth or poverty, health or malady, safety or trepidation, and other such things, is for the reform of the state of the faithful and the purification of the state of their hearts. And this noble tradition is not contrary to the many traditions that have been narrated pertaining to the intensity of the afflictions of the faithful through maladies and pains, poverty, destitution and other tribulations. For God, the Exalted, with His expansive mercy and all-encompassing grace, is like a physician and a kind nurse Who makes everyone refrain from the world in some particular way. At times, He gives wealth to someone and at the same time involves him in other afflictions in accordance with the strength and weakness, perfection and inadequacy of his faith. Rather, He surrounds wealth and riches with afflictions in such it manner as to turn him away from the world and the love for it. The temperament of this person is such that were he to be made poor, perhaps due to his seeing felicity in wealth and property and considering the worldly people its felicitous, he would turn to the world and perish for ever in its pursuit. But when it is made accessible to him and, for the sake of restraining him from falling in love with it, it is surrounded by troubles and inner and outer distresses, he would turn away from the world. One of our great masters, may his shadow endure(withstand) for ever, used to say concerning having several wives that one imagines it to be for the sake of the world and attention towards it; but when one is afflicted with it one finds out that it is one of the great masterpieces (of legislation), which makes one leave the world and abandon(forsake) it in the very course of entry into it.

Thus God, the Exalted, afflicts the faithful at times with poverty, reforming them and turning their hearts away from the world and giving them consolation. At times He afflicts them with wealth and riches, and while one imagines them to be enjoying the world's bounties and having a good time, they are really afflicted with distress, tension, visitations and tribulations. At the same time, the tradition does not conflict with the fact that the poor among the faithful have a great merit before God, the Exalted, as is known from the traditions. We have explained some of the things pertaining to this topic under one of the earlier traditions. [13]


Section: Concerning the Nearness relating to Obligatory and Supererogatory Acts and their Result, in accordance with the Approach of the Wayfarers:

It should be known that for the wayfarer on the path of God and the emmigrant from the dark house of the self to the real Ka'bah, there is a spiritual journey and a gnostic wayfaring whose origin is the habitat of the self and egoism and whose stages are the planes of finitude pertaining to `the horizons and the souls' and the Mulk and the Malakut, which have been referred to as `the veils of darkness and lights.'

Verily, for God there are a seventy thousand veils of light and darkness. [14]

These are the lights of being and the darkness of finitude, or the lights of Malakut and the darknesses of Mulk, or the darkening pollutions of carnal attachments and the pure lights of the attachment of the heart. These seventy thousand veils of light and darkness are at times summarily referred to as the seven veils, as narrated in relation to the opening takbiratfrom the Pure Imams, that they remove a veil with every takbirah, [15] and as is also narrated concerning the subject of prostration on the earth of the shrine(tombstone) of al-Husayn, may my soul be ransomed for him, that prostration on it removes the sevenfold veils. [16] And a famous gnostic says:

Attar has roamed through the sevenfold cites of love, While we are still in the bend of a lane. [17]

These in the microcosmic Man have been referred to as the sevenfold subtleties (lata'if) [18] and sometimes their number is reduced to three inclusive veils, referred to as the `threefold realms' of `the horizons' (afaq) and `the threefold planes' of the souls (anfus), [19] and at times to the thousand fold stages well known among the wayfarers. At times they have been divided, in one consideration, to a hundred and, in another consideration, to ten stages. The perfect `arif Shaykh Shahabadi, may his shadow endure forever, used to assign ten stations for every stage from among the stages of the wayfarers, and in this new and original division there would be in all a thousand stations. And Hadrat Ibrahim, the Friend of the Beneficent, may peace be upon him, has expressed his spiritual journey, as reported by God, the Exalted, [in the Qur'an] as consisting of threefold stages, one of which is called `the Star,' another `the Moon,' and the third `the Sun.' [20]

In fine, the origin of the spiritual journey is the dark house of the self, and its stages are the planes and levels of the horizons and the souls. Its destination is the sacred Being of God with all the Names and the Attributes, at first, for the Perfect Man, and lastly as that wherein all the Names and the Attributes dissolve, and every name, attribute, and definition belongs to something else.

After that the wayfaring human being overcomes his ego and egoism and leaves the house of the ego and passes through the stages and planes of finitude in his search of the real goal and his quest of the Divine, by transcending each of these and piercing through the veils of darkness and light, tearing his heart away from all beings and existences, and purging the Ka'bah of the heart of its idols with his Wall-like hand, and, when all the stars and the moons and the suns set and disappear from the horizon of his heart and the orientation of his heart, undisturbed by attachment to any other, becomes single, unified, and divine, and the state of his heart [like that of Abraham, as described in this verse]:

Indeed, I have turned my face towards Him who created the heavens and the earth, (6:80)

to become annihilated in the Names, the Essence and the Acts, then, in this state, he would become lost to himself, attaining total obliteration and absolute swoon. Then the Divine takes charge of his being, and he hears with the Divine hearing, sees through the Divine vision, holds with the hand of Divine power, and speaks with the Divine tongue. He beholds through the Divine and sees nothing except God. He speaks through the Divine and says nothing but the Truth, becoming blind, deaf and dumb to the non-Divine, his eye and ear are open to nothing except the Truth. This station is not attained except through the gravity of the Divine and the spark of the fire of love, the flame of eternal love, which brings him close to the threshold of proximity to the Divine. Through that pulse of Divine attraction, which follows from [the Divine] self-love, he is helped so as not to stumble(limp) in this valley of bewilderment and so as not to fall victim to shath and the like, which are remnants of egoism. And in this tradition there is a reference to these two, in His words:

And he gradually draws nearer to Me through the nawafil, until I love him.

The drawing near of the servant is through the spark of yearning ('ishq), and the pulse of Divine gravity from love (hubb):

Until there is not an attraction from the Beloved's quarter, The efforts of the poor lover do not get anywhere. [21]

Hence the ultimate of nearness through the nawafil is total fana', absolute dissolution and complete obliteration, and its result is 'I become the hearing wherewith he hears . . . .' And after this complete fana', total obliteration, absolute annihilation, and complete swoon (sa'q), at times the eternal grace comes to his aid, bringing him to himself and returning him to the domain of his own self, whereat he finds himself in the state of awakening (sahw) and the state of intimacy (uns) and serenity (tumaninah) comes upon him, whereat the glories of Beauty and Majesty dawn upon him. In this state of consciousness, to him are revealed the Attributes in the mirror of the Essence (dhat), and in them the fixed archetypes (a'yan thabitah) and their requisites. The state of the people of the path of gnosis at this station is also like their first station, in that its fixed archetype is subject to a certain Name. Its annihilation is in the same Name as well as its survival. In the state of sahw also the same Name is disclosed to him and the disclosure of the fixed archetype subject to the same Name is obtained by him.

The Secret of the Variance Among the Prophets in Respect of Prophethood:

Hence for the Perfect Man (insan-e kamil), who is subject to the Greatest All-inclusive Name, the absolute disclosure of the fixed archetypes and their accompanying requisites is obtained from eternity to eternity. Revealed also to him are the states and potentialities of all the existents and the character of their wayfaring as well as the pattern of their fulfillment (wusul). The robes of the seal of prophethood and ultimate prophecy, which is the consequence of absolute disclosure, fit his fair and upright stature. Each of the other prophets, in accordance with the Name they manifest and in proportion to the capacity and vastness of its domain, obtain the disclosure of the archetype subject to that Name. The degree of the perfection and deficiency of their ministry, its degree of nobility, and its vastness and narrowness, derive therefrom and are subject to their respective Divine Names, as discussed in detail by us in the treatise Misbah al-hidayah. [22]

In fine, after that the state of recovery occurs following the obliteration, his being becomes divine and God, the Exalted, observes other existents in the mirror of his beauty, or, rather, it occupies the same plane as that of the Divine Will (mashiyyah). For the Perfect Man, is on the same plane as the Absolute Will (mashiyyah) and his spirituality becomes the same as the manifestation of Divine efficiency. In such a state God, the Exalted, sees through him, hears through him, and holds by his means, and he himself is the irresistible Divine Will, the perfect intent, and knowledge-in-act (`ilm fili). Hence God hears by him, sees by him,.. . and so on and so forth to the end of the hadith. [The same matter is referred to in the following tradition] and others like it:

'Ali is the eye of God, the hearing of God, and the Divine proximity. [23]

Hence the nearness of the obligations of sahw is consequent to the obliteration, and its result is that which you have heard. The Sahw consequent to obliteration is a state other than this state of negligence of ours. That plurality, consequent to absolute fana', is different from the plurality in which we are immersed. That is because plurality is a veil for us that hides(camouflages) the Divine Face, while for them it is a mirror of epiphany, [as stated by `Ali:]

I do not see a thing without seeing Allah, with it, in it, before it and after it. [24]

The nearness of the nawafil may be considered as obliteration in the Names (fana' asma'i) and the nearness of fara'id, as obliteration in the Essence. Accordingly, the result of the nearness of fara'id becomes absolute obliteration, and its further elaboration is not appropriate to this place. Even this much was beyond the scope of these pages.

Section: A Citation from the Most August Shaykh Baha'i:

The august shaykh and gnostic, Baha'i, may God's good pleasure be with him, in commenting on this noble tradition in hisArba'in, states: "In this regard there are certain sublime statements made by the people of the heart, containing subtle points and spiritual hints which fill the olfactory sense of the spirit with their aroma and quicken the decaying bones of the specters. None is guided to the their meaning and knows their reality except someone who has given lip his comforts through austerities until he comes to get a taste of them and reaches their meaning. But one who is ignorant of their secrets and deprived of the treasure of their teachings, due to his immersion in base carnal joys and being drowned in physical pleasures, is exposed to a great danger on hearing these words, and it is feared that he would fall into blasphemy and come to believe in incarnation (hulul and ittihad). And Exalted is God greatly above that ( ) Here at this point we will state the matter simply and accessibly so that it is near to understanding. Hence, we may say, these words represent the extreme in nearness, describing the domination of love's Sovereign on the outward and inward being of the servant. Therefore, what is meant-and God knows best-is this: When I love a servant, I draw him to the point of intimacy and turn him towards the world of sanctity, immersing his mind in the mysteries of Malakut and confining his senses to perceiving the lights of Jabarut. In this state his feet remain steady at the station of proximity, and love so mingles with his flesh and blood that he becomes unconscious of himself. Thereat, everything else disappears from his sight until I become like his sight and hearing, as has been said:

That I'm mad of Thee, is no secret, My fire, lit by Thee, won't go out,

Thus Thou art my hearing and my sight, My body, and my heart? [25]

Here end his words, may God elevate his station.

Section: A Citation from Khwajah Tusi:

His excellency, the best of the later scholars and the most perfect among the predecessors, Khwajah Nasir Tusi, may Allah sanctify his holy spirit, says: "When the gnostic is cut off from himself and joined to God, he sees all powers as disappearing in Divine power and all sciences as drowned in Divine knowledge and all wills as vanishing(fading) in His will. Then he sees all the existents and their perfections as having originated and emanated from Him. At this time God, the Exalted, becomes his hearing and sight, power, knowledge and existence. Thereupon the character of the gnostic becomes divine." [26] Here end his words, may God increase the sublimity of his station.

The honoured Majlisi has also made certain remarks on the issue. Their summary is that if man uses his faculties and energies in the way of Satan and carnal appetites, nothing remains of them except regret and shame. But if he spends them in the way of obedience to God, He transforms them into spiritual faculties. Then his hearing and sight become spiritual hearing and spiritual vision. With that hearing he hears the speech of the angels, and this sight and vision are not weakened even by death. It is with this spiritual hearing and sight that he encounters the interrogation of the grave. On the contrary, those who do not possess this sight and hearing are raised blind and deaf from the dead. It is concerning this gift that God, the Exalted, has said, "I become the hearing wherewith he hears . . . ." [27] These words, coming as they do from him, are not without a surprise.

Concluding Note:

The august shaykh, Baha'i, says [28], "This noble tradition explicitly indicates that the obligatory duties (wajibat) have a greater merit than the supererogatory ones (mustahabbat) and that there is a greater reward for their performance. And the Shaykh-e Shahid, may God's mercy be upon him, and some other scholars have regarded certain cases as exceptions to it wherein the supererogatory (sunnah) is superior to that which is obligatory. One of them is foregoing one's debt altogether, which is superior to giving time to the debtor in a condition of hardship, although the first is supererogatory while the second is obligatory. Another is being the first to greet someone, which is superior to answering another's greeting (salam). A third case is repeating a prayer offered individually with jama'ah [which according to traditions is superior to a prayer offered individually by twenty-seven degrees, whereas the repeating is supererogatory]," and such other cases. Some have disputed each of these exceptions, whose mention is not so necessary.

It should be known that the literal import of the noble tradition is that the obligations are superior to supererogatory acts though they may not be of the same kind. For instance, the returning of salam, which is obligatory, is superior to a supererogatory hajj and the founding of a great school or the ziyarah of the Messenger of God, although this may appear to be somewhat improbable. Accordingly, marhum Majlisi, may God's mercy be upon him, has said [29] that possibly that is restricted to acts of the same category. However, in the presence of a proof one cannot say such a thing on mere improbability. And possibly the superiority of the obligations is to be considered as being applicable to prescribed rituals, such as prayer, fasting,hajj, zakat, and the like, not to other obligations, like giving time to a debtor in straits, returning salam, and so on, although this possibility is also not free of doubt. And all Praise belongs to Allah, at beginning and end.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, 352, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab man adha al-muslimin wa ahtaqarahum," hadith 8.

[2]. Al-Shaykh al-Baha'i, Arba'in, hadith 35, p. 296.

[3]. Ibid., hadith 35, p. 296,.

[4]. Al-Zamakhshari, Tafsir al-kashaf, i, 167, exegesis of 2:8

[5]. Al-Shaykh al-Baha'i, Arba'in, hadith 35.

[6]. Author's Note: Shaykh Baha'i (r) says: "The (term) nawafil refers to the non-obligatory works that are performed for God's good pleasure. Its specific use to refer to prayers became customary later on." p. 490.

[7]. Ibid., hadith 35, p. 295, Cf. al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, vol 23, p. 22, "kitab al-ruqaq," and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 6, p. 256.

[8]. See the exposition of the Nineteenth Hadith.

[9]. Al-Shaykh al-Baha'i, Arba'in, hadith 35, p. 3110.

[10]. This phrase refers to the doctrinal position of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (`a) in respect of the issue of jabr(predestination) and tafwid. The phrase, meaning `the matter between the two matters,' implies that neither jabr is true nortafwid; the truth lies between these two extremes positions. (Tr.)

[11]. 18:79-82.

[12]. Mir Damad, al-Qabasat, pp. 469-420; Mulla Sadra, al-Asfar, pp. 395. ff., "safar" 3, "mawqif" 4, "fasl" 13.

[13]. See the exposition of the Fifteenth Hadith.

[14]. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol 55, p. 25, "kitab al-sama' wa al-alam," bab 5, hadith 13.

[15]. Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol 4, p. 772, "kitab al-salat," "abwab takbirat al-ihram;" bab 7, hadith 5:

[16]. Ibid., vol. 3. p. 608, "kitab al-salat," "abwab ma yusjad `alayh;' bab 16, hadith 3:

[17]. Ascribed to Rumi: some attribute it to Ahd al-Rahman Jami.

[18]. Shahabadi (r) mention seven subtleties (latifah) of the human hang as follows: nafs (ego), 'aql (intellect), qalb (heart),ruh (spirit), sirr (secret, soul), khafi (hidden) and akhfa (most hidden); see Rashahat al-bihar, "kitab al-insan wa al-fitrah," p. 177.

[19]. The threefold realms are the realm of physical nature (tabi'ah), the Imaginal realm (mithal), and the realm of the intellect ('aql), considered by Mulla Sadra as corresponding to the senses, imagination, and the intellect. See Shawahid al-rububiyyuh, p. 320.

[20]. 6:77-79.

[21]. Dehkhuda, Amthal wa hikam, vol. 1, p- 537.

[22]. Misbah al-hidayah, pp. 192-195-

[23] Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitab al-Tawhid, p.164, bab 22,hadith 1.

[24]. Al-Asfar, vol. 1, pp. 117 ;'Ilm al-yaqin, vol. I, p. 49; Kalimat maknunah. p- 3.

[25]. 'Arba'in, hadith 35, p. 299.

[26]. Sharh al-Isharat, vol. 3, p. 389, namat 9, fasl 19

[27]. Al-Majlisi, Mir'at al-'uqul, vol. 10, p. 312, "kitab al-iman wa al Kufr," "bab man adha al Muslimin," hadith 8.

[28]. Arba'in, hadith 35, p. 302

[29]. Mir'at al-'uqul, vol. 10, p. 381, "kitab al-iman wa al-kufr," "bab man adha al-Muslimin," hadith 7.


With my continuous chain of authorities reaching up to the Pillar of Islam and Muslims, Mulrarnmad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, may God's good pleasure be with him, from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from Ahmad [ibn Muhammad] ibn Abi Nasr, who said, "Abu al-Hasan al Rida, may peace be upon him, said, `God has said, "O son of Adam, it is with My will that you are such a being that you will for yourself whatever you will, and it is with My power that you carry out the duties I have prescribed for you, and it is with My bounty that you found the strength to disobey Me. I made you hearing, seeing, and strong. Whatever good visits you is from God, and whatever evil strikes you is from your own self. That, because I have a greater right to your virtues than yourself, and you are worthier of your vices than Me. And hence I am not asked concerning what I do and they are asked (21:23)."''" [1]


There are in this noble tradition certain sublime and important themes pertaining to the higher metaphysical science, which if mentioned with their elaborate preliminaries would take us beyond the scope of these pages and prolong this discourse inordinately. Hence, inevitably, taking a middle course, we will deal with them with brevity, mentioning, in the course of a few sections, some of these issues as established conclusions. And our trust is in God.

Section: Two Stations of Divine Names:

It should be known that there are two stations for the Will (mashiyyah) of God, the Exalted-majestic is His glory-or, rather, for all the other Names and Attributes, such as Knowledge, Life, Power, and the rest of them.

One of them is the station of the Names and Attributes of the Essence. (asma' wa sifat-e dhatiyyah). It is established by metaphysical proofs that the Sacred Essence (dhat) of the Necessary Being combines in Itself all the perfections and all the Names and Attributes, and that in a single mode and from an aspect that is absolutely simple. All the perfections and the Names and Attributes of Beauty and Glory derive from Its simple existential mode, and that which is beyond being is deficiency, defect, and non-existence. And as His Sacred Essence is pure being and absolute existence, It is pure and absolute perfection (kamal-e sirf wa sirf-e kamal). [He is] the totality of knowledge, the totality of Power and the totality of Life 

The other station is that of the [Names and] Attributes of the Divine Acts (asma' wa sifat-e fi'liyyah), the plane of manifestation of the Names and Attributes of the Essence, which is the plane of manifestation of the Attributes of Glory and Beauty. And this is the station of ma'iyyat-e qayyumiyyah (contiguity of the Sustainer and the sustained existents), [referred to in the Qur'anic verse]:


[He is with you, wherever you may be . . . .] (57:4)

[Three conspire not secretly together, but He is the fourth of them, (neither five men, but He is the sixth of them, neither fewer then that, neither more, but He is with them, wherever they may be . . . . )] (58:7)

And it is the plane of the Face of Allah (wajh Allah):

Whithersoever you may turn to there is the Face of God. (2:115)

And it is the plane of the Divine effulgence (nuriyyat):

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. (24:35)

And it is the plane of the Absolute Will (mashiyyat-e mutalaqah):

And you will not without God's willing. (81:29)


God created all things with His will, and He created the will by itself. [2]

And there are still other terms and descriptions for it in the language of the People of God, and both of those planes are referred to in this noble verse of the Divine Scripture:

He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden . . . . (57:3)

The plane of the absolute, active Will has an encompassment of sustainment (ihateh-ye qayyumiyyah) over all the existents of the realms of mulk and malakut, and all the existents are, from one aspect, its particular modifications (ta'ayyunat), and front another aspect its manifestations (mazahir).

It is in respect of this station of active Will (mashiyyat-e fi'liyyah) and the manifesting character (mazhariyyat) of the wills of the creatures and their dissolution (fana') in it-or, rather, the fact that the creatures themselves, with all their aspects, manifest and reflect it-that the noble tradition says: O Son of Man, it is with My Will that you are one who wills. Your being (dhat) and its perfections are by My will itself, and, rather, you yourself and your perfections are particular expressions (ta'ayyunat) of my will:

And you did not throw when you threw, but it was God who threw. (8:17)

And there are so numerous statements in traditions and Qur'anic verses in support of this matter that their mention is not essential.

The august Shaykh al-Ishraq (Suhrawardi), may God sanctify his spirit, considers God's detailed knowledge (`ilm tafsili) of things as being the same as this plane of active knowledge, and the Muhaqqiq (Khwajah Nasir al-Din) Tusi, may God sanctify his soul, has followed him in this opinion. Hadrat Sadr al-Muta'allihin, may God sanctify his soul, considers (God's) detailed knowledge to be the same as the plane of the simple Divine Essence. To him the statements of those two figures are not absolutely satisfactory, but this author considers the opinions of each of them to imply chiefly the same position, the disagreement between them being merely verbal, though an elucidation of this matter is not appropriate here.

From this explanation, it is known that every thing that comes into existence, whether they are the sacred substances of the divine realm, or the natural substances of the realm of mulk, or accidents, whether it is the essences, or attributes, or acts-all of them come into being with the sustainment, sway, and all-inclusiveness of the Divine Power. Hence, the meaning of the statement becomes clear:

It is with My Power that you carry out the obligations prescribed by Me.

Also, the station of the absolute Will is the same as that of the all-encompassing Mercy (rahmah) and the all-inclusive Bounteousness. Hence He has said:'

And it is with My bounty that you obtained the strength to disobey Me.

Section: An Allusion to the Topic of Jabr and Tafwid:

There is a clear allusion in this noble tradition to the problem of jabr and tafwid, and it spells out the right creed in this regard, that of amr bayn al-amrayn or manzilah bayn al-manzilatayn, which is in accordance with the way of the gnostics and the path of the People the heart. That is because it affirms both the Divine Will (mashiyyah) as well as the power and role of the creatures, which are moreover considered to derive from the Divine Will. (It means to say): You exercise your will, and it is by My Will that your will has been manifested. You carry out the duties, and your power is a manifestation of My power. And it is with My bounty, which is the expansive table of My all-inclusive mercy, that your power to disobey was d. Hence all the acts and attributes and existents [that relate to you] are not capable of absolute negation in relation to you, in the same way as these cannot be affirmed of you absolutely. You exercise your will, and your willing is subsumed in My Will and is its manifestation and a conditioned expression (ta'ayyun) of it. It is with your own power that you have the capacity to obey or disobey Me, and, at the same time, your power and strength are manifestations of My power."

Thereafter, a likely objection-that, on this basis, the defects, vices, and sins [of creatures] are to be attributed to God-is dispelled by a metaphysical and discursive, as well as a mystical and gnostic, rejoinder that since God, the Exalted, is pure perfection, goodness, beauty, and glory, everything that derives from His sacred quarter is perfection and goodness. Rather, the order of existence and the reality of being, the visible and the invisible, is concurrent with perfection, completion, and beauty. And that which is deficient, vicious, evil, and bad derives from non-existence and finitude and is associated with essence (mahiyyah), which is not the object of creation (ja'l) and Divine emanation. Rather, the evils present in the realm of nature and the narrow realm of mulk pertain to the contradictions between the existents. And the narrowness of the world and the contradictions between them are not the object of creation. Hence, all good, perfection, and virtue derives from God, and all deficiency, evil, and sin derives from the creatures, as stated (in the Qur'anic verse):

What ever good may strike you is from God, and what ever evil that may visit you is from yourself. (4:78)

Hence all the felicities of the world and the Hereafter, and all the good pertaining to the realms of mulk and malakut emanate from the Mainspring of goodness, and all the evil and wretchedness of this world and the Hereafter derive from the essential deficiency and lack of the existents themselves. And that which is commonly said, that felicity and wretchedness do not derive from the Creator's creation but from the essences (dhat) of things, is without basis in relation to felicity (sa'adat). Because felicity is the object of Divine Creation; and emanation, and felicity does not derive from any essence or quiddity. Rather, sheer extinction and complete wretchedness derive from essence. However, it is correct [to say that] in relation to wretchedness (shaqawah), for it derives from essence (mahiyyah) and is not the object of creation (ghayr maj'ul), being lower than the plane of creation. And as to the famous tradition:

The felicitous one is felicitous in his mother's womb, and the wretched one is wretched in his mother's womb,

it has a different meaning relating to the science of the Names and the Attributes, and its mention is not relevant here.

And as following the explanation of this truth based on metaphysical proof, there remained the likelihood of a doubt that the negation of any role for the existents in relation to all that is good, and the negation of the evils in relation the eternal and necessary power of God, implies jabr and tafwid-which are contrary to established truth, in accordance with the way of gnosis and the path of metaphysical reasoning-it was met with the statement, clothed in the language of the previous metaphysical argument and one which substantiates it, that God, the Exalted, is worthier than the creatures in regard to the attribution of virtues and that they are worthier than the Sacred Divine Essence in relation to the attribution of vices. In this affirmation, there is affirmation of worthiness of ascription in relation to each of the two sides.

As to God's being worthier than the creatures in relation to all that is good, and the principle of its attribution to the creatures, that is because the relation of good to the Source of all sources is the relation of existence (wujud) and intrinsic (bi al-dhat),because good is intrinsic to existence, being identical with the Essence in the Necessary Being and, in the contingent, through creation (ja'l) and emanation (ifadah). Hence the emanating principle of good derives from the Necessary Existent, the Exalted, and the contingent is the mirror for Its manifestation and Its manifestor (muzhir), and that relation of (active) manifestation (zahiriyyat) and emanation is more complete than this relation of receptivity and (passive) manifestation (mazhariyyat).However, this case is the reverse in respect of evils and vices; but each of the two relations stands affirmed. That is because that which is emanated by God is good, and this good is accompanied with associating evils in a sub-ordinate manner. Hence they are attributable to Him accidentally (bi al-'arad), and attributable and essential to the deficiency and inadequacy of essences (mahiyyat). Accordingly, these two points of view are also mentioned in the noble verses. There, where the sovereignty of Unity prevails and overshadows plurality and deficiency, He says:

Say, `Everything is from God,' (4:78)

and there where the intervention of accidental plurality is taken into account and the mediating means are considered, He declares,

Whatever good should visit thee is from God, and whatever evil that may befall thee is from thyself. (4:78)

Section: Concerning that God, the Exalted, is not Answerable Concerning what He does and other Existents are Answerable:

It should be known that the authorities amongst the philosophers say that there is no end or purpose for the Divine act except the Sacred Essence and Its essential manifestations, and that it not possible for the Sacred Essence to have any end for the creation of things beyond Itself and Its manifestation. That is because every agent that creates something for an end beyond its essence, whatever that may be, even if it is for procuring a benefit for itself, or bestowing a reward on another than itself, or for worship, or knowledge (ma'rifah), praise and glorification, needs it for its own perfection, and its existence is preferable to it over its non-existence, and this implies deficiency, inadequacy, and deriving benefit from something else. This is impossible for the absolutely perfect Divine Essence which is self-sufficient and necessary in all respects. Hence there is no teleological ground, nor a question of wherefore, in His acts, and He is not asked concerning what He does. However, other existents have ends and purposes in their acts that lie beyond their essence. Thus the end of the acts of the lovers of Divine Beauty and those blessed with nearness (muqarrabin), and extinction in the Divine (majdhubin) is reaching the door of Allah, encounter with the Divine (liqa Allah), and reaching the threshold of Divine sanctity. And so do other beings have ends additional to their essences, in accordance with their perfection and deficiency, intensity and weakness. Also, That which is Absolute Perfection and necessary-in-itself, is necessary in all respects, and in the same way that His sacred essence is devoid of teleological grounds, His acts too are devoid of any teleological grounds beyond the Essence, contrary to all other existents.

Similarly, since His sacred Essence is Ultimate Beauty and Perfection, it is the Ka'bah of aspiration of all existents and the ultimate end of the entire chain of being, but the Ka'bah of aspiration and the ultimate end does not have an end beyond itself, as other existents are essentially deficient and every deficient thing is, by nature, the object of repulsion, in the same way that every perfect thing is the object of attraction and pursuit. Hence the end of all movements and acts is the Sacred Essence, and for the Sacred Essence itself there is no end beyond Itself.

So He is not asked concerning what He does, and they are asked. (22:23)

Also, since the Sacred Essence is ultimate Beauty and Perfection, the order of existence, which is the shadow of the Beautiful Essence, is utmost perfection and the universal order is the most perfect of all conceivable orders. Hence the question concerning teleology, end, purpose and benefit arises due to ignorance and deficiency. Accordingly, the accursed Iblis put the well-known sevenfold questions and God, the Exalted, answered all of them, concisely and in the manner of fair disputation, with a single answer. Hence God is not to be questioned concerning His acts due to His ultimate perfection and other existents are liable to question due to their deficiency, in essence as well as actions.

Also, since God, the Exalted, is absolute wisdom, each of the acts that derive. from Him possesses ultimate soundness, and so is unquestionable, contrary those of other existents.

Similarly, since every act of God, the Exalted, derives from the Reality of His Essence and. the very truth and absoluteness of His Being, and other existents are not such, therefore, He is agent-by-essence, and a question concerning His ends is invalid, contrary to the case of other existents. And since His Will and Power are the same as His Sacred Essence, efficiency-by essence in that Sacred Essence is the same as efficiency by will and power, and there is no room for any objection relating to efficiency-by-nature (fa'iliyyat bi al-tab'). This is one of the noble topics that is established in its own place, and through it are resolved many of the doubts posed by the theologians (mutakallimun) concerning various topics relating to the divine sciences.

From this explanation, we come to know the causal interrelation between the sentences of this noble tradition. Thus since Divine Acts are consummate perfection and perfect order, He is not questioned concerning what He does, and others are questioned, because they are not such. This is the cause for His being worthier of virtues and the creatures' being worthier in relation to the attributability of vices. And this is the cause for the attribution of every vice to the creature and every virtue to God. This relationship can also be established by other explanations, which were not mentioned here. And to Allah belongs all Praise, at every beginning and end.

[1]. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, i, p. 152, "kitab al-tawhid," "bab al-mashiyyah wa al- iradah," hadith 6.

[2]. Ibid, i, p. 110, "bab iradah annaha min sifat al-fil," hadith 4.

[3]. Sharh Hikmat al-ishraq, 357-358, maqalah 2, qism 2.

[4]. Sharh al-Isharat, namat 7, fasl 17; Masari' al-masari', p. 141.

[5]. Al-Asfar al-arba'ah, vi, pp. 263-277, safar 2, mawqif 3, fasl 12.

[6]. Bihar al-anwar, v, 153, "kitab al-adl wa al-ma'ad," bab 6, hadith 1, with a variant wording.

[7]. See al-Shahristani, al-Milal wa al-nihal, the bibliographical account of Afdal al-Din Tarakah Isfahani; p. 28.

With my continuous chain of authorities reaching up to the Thiqat al-Islam Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, from `Ali ibn Ibrahim, from Muhammad ibn Khalid al-Tayalisi, from Safwan ibn Yahya, from Ibn Muskan, from Abu Basir, who said, "I heard Abu `Abd Allah, may peace be upon him, say, `God, the Almighty and the Glorious, was our Lord even at a time when Knowledge was His Essence and there was no knowable, Hearing was His Essence and there was no audible [thing], seeing was His Essence and there was no visible [thing], and Power was His essence and there was nothing subject to power. Thus when He created things and the knowable came into being, His Knowledge pertained to the known thing, His Hearing to that which is audible, and His Sight to that which is visible, and His Power to that which is subject to power."" Abu Basir says: "I asked him 'Hadn't God been ever-moving?' He replied, `Exalted is God above that! Indeed movement is a quality that comes into existence (muhdath) by action: " Abu Basir says, "I asked him, 'Hadn't God been ever-speaking [in pre-eternityJ?' He replied, `Speech is a quality that comes into existence (sifatun mahdathah) and is not eternal (azal). God, Almighty and Glorious, existed, and He was not speaker."" [1]


In the statement is apparently the predicate (khabar) of , and the phrase is the adverb of condition (hall) for it. However [such an assumption] does not give smooth (salis) meaning, nor does it achieve the purpose. Because the purpose is not to affirm the eternity of [God's] Lordship, but to affirm the pre-eternity of His Knowledge and its precedence over the knowable. It may be said the phrase is in the nominative case (marfu`) and is appositive to the noun (ism) of with the predicate (khabar) being omitted (mahdhuf), as indicated by the phrase. Assuming the ellipsis, the sentence would be like this: . And it is possible thatis a perfect verb (tammah), sufficing with the nominative case, on the basis of which it would be not for the past tense of is always defective (naqis), contrary to which is always perfect.

And in the phrase is here complete, meaning that 'when He created the things and the knowable came into existence.'

In the phrase it is probable that the expression is opposed to and maybe in the sense of verbal noun, meaning that an Attribute that is realized with creation cannot be God's Attribute. There are some noble topics that have been referred to in this hadith, and we shall discuss some of them to an extent appropriate to this discourse.

Section: Concerning the Identity of God's Attributes with His Essence:

It should be known that there is a reference in this noble tradition to God's Sacred Essence being identical to His true Attributes of perfection, like Knowledge, Power, Hearing and Sight. This is one of the important topics (of philosophy andkalam) whose elaborate treatment is, however, outside the scope of this treatise. Here we will refer to the true position in this regard in accordance with firm metaphysical proofs' of the philosophers (hukama') and the way of the people of gnosis (ahl-e ma'ri fat).

It should -be known that it has been clearly established in its appropriate place that that which belongs to the categories of perfection and beauty derives from the mainspring of existence and the root of the reality of being, and that in the realm of existence there is no more than one noble principle, which is the mainspring of all perfections and the source of all goodness, and that is the Reality of Being (haqiqat-e wujud). And were the totality of perfections not the same as the Reality of Being, and were there some kind of duality in the context of concrete reality; of whatever form, or separation from It, that, would 'imply that there are two principles in the domain of Being, which in turn implies many inadmissible conclusions. Hence whatever that is perfection, is not such on the basis of meaning and essence, but by virtue of its actualization and realization in the context of concrete reality, and that which is real in the context of concrete reality is one principle, which is existence. Hence all perfection derives from one principle, which is the reality of existence.

It has also been clearly established that the reality of existence is sheer simplicity in all aspects, and composition is absolutely precluded from its sacred precincts, as long as it retains its essential and original sheerness and purity of its own reality. However, when it descends from its original reality, it assumes composition in an accidental manner, at the plane of the intellect a s well as external reality, in accordance with its planes and stations (mashahid wa manazil). But in respect of its essence (dhat), it remains single, and composition is something alien to it and accidental.

Two sublime principles are inferred from these explanations:

' First, That which is simple in all aspects is the totality of perfections in one and a single aspect. And in the same aspect that It is existent, It is also Knowing, Powerful, Living, and Willing and all the other names and Attributes of beauty and glory. are true of It. He is Knower in the [same] aspect that He is Powerful, and Powerful in the [same] aspect that He is Knower, without there being any difference of consideration (i`tibar) even on the plane of the intellect. And as to the difference of the concepts of the Names and the words that are used to represent them, which are unconditioned (la bi shart) intellectual concepts, it does not correspond to a difference in concrete reality, and it has been clearly established that numerous concepts of perfection are abstracted from one thing. Rather, that which is implied by the foregoing explanation is that all the concepts of perfection are abstracted from a single aspect (haythiyyat-e wahidah). And if the concepts of perfection were to be abstracted from different aspects, as in the case of some contingents, this is accidental, and that is due to the descent (tanazzul) of the reality of existence and its accidental mingling with non-existences.

The second principle is that that which is perfect in all aspects and is absolute perfection and goodness must be simple in all aspects. And from these two, another principle is inferred, that that which is composite, in whatever manner, is not perfect in all aspects and is subject to deficiency and nonexistence as well, and that which is deficient is not absolutely simple.

Therefore, as God, the Exalted, is completely simple, and composition, which implies contingency,-poverty, and dependence on another, does not affect Him absolutely, He is perfect in all aspects and possesses all the Names and Attributes, and He is the very ground of reality and the essence of being, without His existence bearing any taint of non-existence, and without His perfections bearing any taint of. imperfection. Hence-He is sheer being, for were non-existence to find way into Him; the evil of composite things, which consists of the composition of existence and non-existence, would find way into Him. Thus He is the sheerness of Knowledge, the sheerness of Life, the sheerness of Power, the sheerness 'of Sight,' of Hearing and all other perfections. This explains the statement of Imam Sadiq, may peace be upon him, that

And Knowledge is His Essence, and so are Power, Hearing, and Sight His Essence.

The Statements of the Philosophers on the Division of Divine Attributes:

It should be known that the divine philosophers have divided the Attributes of God, the Exalted, into three kinds:

First, the true Attributes (sifat haqiqiyyah), and these have been divided into two kinds: the absolute true Attributes (sifat haqiqiyyah mahdah), such as Life, Subsistence, eternity and the like, and the relational true Attributes (sifat haqiqiyyah dhat al-idafah), like Knowledge, Power, and Will, which involve a relation to the objects of Knowledge, Power and Will (ma'lum, maqdur,and murad). These two kinds of Attributes are considered by them to be the same as the Essence (dhat),

Second, the absolutely relative Attributes (sifat idafiyyah mahdah), such as [the Attributes of] being the Originator, Provider, Merciful, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and the like.

Third, the absolutely negative Attributes (sifat salbiyyah mahdah), such as Unlikeness [to creatures] (quddusiyyah), Oneness(fardiyyah), Transcendence (subbuhiyyah), and the like.

These two [latter] kinds of Attributes are considered by them to be additional to the Sacred Essence, and all the negations are considered to derive from a single negation, which is the negation of contingency (salb-e imkan). Similarly, all the relations are referred to a single relation, which is the relation of Creatorhood (muwajjidiyyah), and the source of relations is referred to the illuminative and emanative relation (idafah-ye ishraqiyyah wa idafah-ye i fadiyyah). [2]

This author does not consider as valid these divisions, along with the identification of the `true Attributes' [with the Essence] and the consideration of the relative and negative Attributes as additional, as mentioned by them with their proofs, and he considers them neither in conformity with the firm metaphysical proofs nor with the correct(accurate) conceptions of gnosis. That is because none of the Attributes are to be considered as being identical with the Essence-when dealing with the concepts of the Names and the Attributes from the viewpoint of conceptual multiplicity. And should we regard the Essence as being identical with the relative or the negative Attributes, that would imply that God; the Exalted, is pure relation and identical with the negative aspect.

Similarly, if He is regarded as being identical with the true Attributes, that implies that God, the Exalted, is the same as derivative conceptions (mafahim i'tibariyyah) and rational ideas (ma'ani' 'aqliyyah), and He is exalted above' that. And should we consider the realities of the Attributes and the concrete instances of the Names and the Attributes, then all the Names and the relative as well as the true Attributes are found to be the same as the Sacred Essence, and the difference between 'knowledgeability' ('alimiyyah) and knower ('alim), and `powerfulness' (qadiriyyah) and powerful (qadir) is only that of conceptual consideration, and all the relational Attributes derive from His Essential Mercifulness (rahimiyyah) and Beneficence(rahmaniyyah), even the Attributes of being the Provider (raziqiyyah) and Creator (khaliqiyyah), and the rest.

Also, with respect to their reducing all the negations to the negation of contingency and all the relations to a single relation, and their abstaining from reducing the true Attributes to anything, it may be remarked that should we consider the matter from a conceptual viewpoint, none of them derives from another, neither the negations, nor the relations, nor the true Attributes. But if the realities are taken into view, all the true Attributes also refer to the One Necessary Reality.

On the Identity of the Attributes with the Sacred Essence:

The true position concerning the Attributes, in the idiom of theoretical philosophy (hikmat-e nazari), is that the true and relative Attributes are absolutely different from a conceptual viewpoint, and none of them is the same as the Sacred Essence. From the viewpoint of reality, all of them are the same as the Sacred Essence. However, there are two planes of the Attributes: one is the plane of the Essence and Attributes of the Essence (awsaf dhatiyyah) from which we can abstract Knowledge and Knowledgeability, Power and Powerfulness. The other one is the station of the Attributes of Act (awsaf fi'liyyah), from which, too, one can abstract the concepts of Knowledge and, Knowledgeability, Power and Powerfulness. As to the negative Attributes, such as His Unlikeness to creation (quddasiyyah) and His Transcendence (subbuhiyyat) and the Names of tanzih (negation of the finite characteristics of the creatures with respect to God), they are implied by the Sacred Essence, and the Sacred Essence is an accidental instance (misdaq bi al-`arad) in relation to them. Because God, the Exalted, is absolute perfection and the essential instance of absolute perfection. That is because He is the principle of reality and negation of deficiency is among its implications, and perfection is the accidental instance of the negation of deficiency. The gnostics and the people of the heart consider the station of manifestation (maqam-e tajalli) at the plane of the most sacred emanation (fayd-e aqdas) as the source(mabda') of the Names of Essence, and the station of manifestation at the plane of the sacred emanation (fayd-e muqaddas) as the source of the Attributes of Act. [3] They do not consider the manifestation at the plane of the sacred emanation as `other' [than the Essence], in the same way that they do not consider it to be the same (ayn) [as the Essence] either. A discussion around this topic will lead up to a discussion of the Names and the Attributes in accordance with their way, and that will take us beyond our present purpose.

And some have referred Divine Attributes to privative matters, considering `Knowledge' as the non-existence of ignorance and `Power' as the non-existence of inability. And among the people of ma'rifah, someone whom I have seen insisting on this matter was the august gnostic marhum Qadi Said Qummi, [4] who, in the course of a discourse mentioned in Sharh al Tawhid[5] has apparently followed his teacher, the marhum Mulla Rajab 'Ali. Aforetime we had given a reply, based on metaphysical reasoning, to his argument, replying as well to his recourses to the literal meanings of some traditions.

Section: On the Priority of Knowledge to Creation:

Among the noble issues referred to in this sacred tradition is that knowledge with its knowables precedes creation in pre-eternity, a matter which itself as well as its character-as to whether it is detailed or non-detailed-are subjects of a great controversy. There is also a controversy as to whether it is additional to the Essence (dhat) or the same, whether it precedes creation or accompanies it, with all the related details which are in their books? We will confine ourselves to establishing the truth of the matter and refrain from criticism or refutation of other opinions.

It should be known that that which stands established with the people of metaphysical reasoning and the companions of gnosis is that which has been indicated in this noble tradition, that the knowledge of the known things precedes creation in pre-eternity (azal), and that it is the same as the Essence. That His Knowledge is detailed is indicated by the statement that He was the Seer when there was nothing visible, and Hearer when there was nothing audible, because sight and hearing entail the observation of visibles and audibles in a detailed manner, as is clear enough. Also, it refers to His detailed knowledge, where it says:

So when He brought the things into being and the known came into existence, His knowledge pertained (corresponded) to the known.

That is because His knowledge did not obtain a new subsistence after creation, but pertained to the known after its acquiring subsistence. Now we shall explain the meaning of the Knowledge pertaining to the known.

The explanation of this noble faith-related theme, on the basis of the approach of the authorities among the philosophers, is that, as known from the preceding section, God, the Exalted, is absolute existence and absolute perfection. Absolute existence, with its complete simplicity and unity, encompasses all perfections and all existents, to utmost perfection. That which is outside the realm of its existence is non-being, deficiency, and inadequacy, and, in a word nothingness (la shay'iyyah).The relation of other planes of existence to that Sacred Essence is that of deficiency to perfection. The knowledge of absolute perfection is the knowledge of perfection in its absoluteness, without deficiency or inadequacy, and this is the very universal, simple, and detailed disclosure, as not even an iota of existence, from pre-eternity to eternity, is beyond the realm of His knowledge and there can be no trace of plurality and composition in it. [8]

According to the approach of the gnostics, God, the Exalted, encompasses all the Names and the Attributes at the plane(hadrat) of wahiddiyyah and the station of nominal inclusiveness (jam' asma'i). The fixed archetypes (a'yan thabitah) of all existents are implied in the Divine Names at the plane of inclusiveness prior to creation in pre-eternity, and the absolute manifestation of the Essence (tajalli-ye mullaq-e dhat) from the plane of ahadiyyah and the ghayb of ipseity is the disclosure of all the Names and Attributes and all their implications, which are the fixed archetypes of all the existents, with a single manifestation and disclosure that is absolutely simple (kashf-e basil-e mutlaq). Hence with the epistemic disclosure (kashf-e'ilmi) at the plane of the manifestation of the most sacred emanation (fayd aqdas) takes place the disclosure of the Essence, the Names, the Attributes and the archetypes without there being any multiplicity or compositeness. [9]

These two approaches possess utmost firmness and sublimity, but as they are extremely subtle and based on multiple principles, until these preliminaries are not learnt and as long as there is complete and consummate intimacy and thorough immersion, as well as perfect good will towards those who possess Divine gnosis ('ulama' billah), one can not derive anything from philosophy and the terminology of the men of God and the people of the heart and from these discourses, which pile bewilderment on bewilderment. Accordingly, it is preferable to give a simpler explanation that is closer to the understanding of the common people. And so we say that the causality and creativity of the Necessary Being, the Exalted, is not like the causality of natural agents which combine or dissociate the existing matters, such as the carpenter who brings about changes in an existing material by arranging and separating, or like the mason who combines the existing materials. Rather, God, the Exalted, is the Divine Agent Who brings things into being, without, any prior existence, by His very will, and `His will and' knowledge' by themselves constitute the cause for the appearance and existence of things. Hence the realm of reality is within the purview of His Knowledge and they appear from the hidden realms of Divine Ipseity (ghayb-e huwiyyat) by His making them manifest:

And with Him are the keys of the Unseen, none knows them but He. (6:59)

It is said that the realm of concrete existents in relation to the Sacred Essence of God, the Glorious, is like the relation of the mind to the human soul, which brings into being [thoughts, ideas and images] by mere willing and manifests that which lies in the hidden realms of ipsiety (ghayb-e- huwiyyat). Hence the entire realm of reality is within His knowledge, from which they appear and to which they return: ,

Verily, We belong to God and to Him do we return. (2:156)

To offer a clearer explanation, the knowledge of the complete cause of a thing implies the knowledge of that thing. For example, the astronomer's knowledge of the timings of solar and lunar eclipses is due to his knowledge of their causes. By recording the movements of the sun, moon, and the earth, he calculates the time when the earth will be positioned between the sun and the moon, or the moon between the earth and the sun. And should his records be correct his forecast will not fail by a single second. And since the entire chain of causes and effects terminates in the Sacred Essence, the Source of all sources, and since God, the Exalted, has the knowledge of His own Essence, which is the cause of all existents, being the cause He has also the knowledge of the effects.

From among the above-mentioned explanations everyone adopts one which corresponds to his plane, and some of them are firmer and more adequate in meeting the purpose than others.


Section: On the Meaning of Hearing and Sight in Relation to God:

One of the topics discussed by major philosophers in relation to the Names and Attributes of God, the Glorious and the Exalted, is the affirmation of Hearing and Sight' in relation to Him. The majority of the metaphysicians and theologians reduce Hearing and Sight to Knowledge, and the august Shaykh al-Ishraq has reduced(shrank) Knowledge to Sight and Hearing. [10]Each of them has offered an explanation in this regard whose mention will take us beyond the requirements' of brevity: We will explain the predominant view and approach with an explanation that Will clarify the truth in regard to the Names and the Attributes in general.

It should be known that most of the philosophers and major thinkers, in order to disregard some `aspects, have reduced(diminished) some of the Names and Attributes to some others. As it is well known and established among them, the Will of God; the-Exalted, consists of His Knowledge of what is 'appropriate (salah) and of the perfect 'order, like the controversy in relation to Hearing, Sight and Knowledge(technology) and reducing each of them to the other, as mentioned: This matter is contrary to the truth and amounts to disregarding these aspects. Because, if what is meant by reducing Will to the Knowledge of what is appropriate, or by reducing Knowledge to Hearing, or Hearing to Knowledge, is that God, the Exalted, does not possess a will or that He does not possess hearing or sight and that Knowledge is considered by them to include Will, Hearing and Sight, it is an invalid position and an unseemly statement. That is because it implies that God, the Exalted, is the Source of existence without possessing a will or the power of choice. Moreover, the criterion in regard to ascription of the Attributes of perfection to God is that the attribute should be an attribute of perfection for existent qua existent, and that it should be an attribute of the very reality of existence and from among the perfections of the very essence What) of existence. And there is no doubt that will is one of the attributes of perfection of the absolute reality of being. Accordingly, the plentiful existence descends to the lower planes, the weaker it is in respect of will, until it reaches the point where it become totally devoid of it whereat it is consider by all to lack will, like the natures, such as minerals and plants. And the more it rises towards perfection and the higher horizon, will becomes more manifest in it and stronger. Accordingly, we observe that in the chain of natural existents, when they cross the stages of prime matter, body,-element, mineral, and plant, will and knowledge become manifest in them, and the higher they rise the more this noble faculty becomes perfect, so that the Perfect Man possesses such a perfect will that by his mere will he transforms one element into another and the world of nature is subject to his will. Thus we find that will is an attribute of perfection of existence qua existence, and this meaning is affirmed concerning God's Sacred Essence without being referred to another meaning. Similarly, Hearing and Sight are, in accordance with confirmed truth, among the perfections of the absolute existent, and the reality of hearing and sight is not one dependent on physical organs and they do not constitute modes of cognition limited to organs and instrumental means. Rather, the need for organs is for manifestation of the soul's hearing and sight in the realm of nature and the mulk of the body, even as it also needs the pia mater for knowledge to be manifested in the realm of physical nature. And this deficiency pertains to the world of nature and mulk, not to knowledge, hearing and sight as such, which observe the realities of the world of the Unseen (ghayb) andhear the malakuti speech of the angels and the higher spirits, as in the case of Moses, the Kalimullah (God's interlocutor), who would hear the speech of God in his intimate supplications (munajat), and the Noble Ultimate Prophet; who spoke with the- angels and would see Gabriel in his malakuti form when no other ear would hear what he heard nor any eye see what he saw, though they would be in the same gathering with the Messenger at the time of the descent of the revelations (wahy).

Moreover, hearing and sight are among modes of cognition which are additional to the principle of knowledge and are other than the' reality of knowledge, and they are among the perfections of absolute existence. Hence their affirmation in relation to God, the Exalted, Who is the very reality of existence and the mainspring of the perfection of being, is necessary.

And should the purpose of those who reduce Will, Hearing, and Sight to Knowledge, or Knowledge to them, be that Knowledge and Will are posited of God in a single aspect (haythiyyat-e wahidah) and that Hearing, Sight, and Knowledge do not have different aspects in the Sacred Divine Essence, this is true and in accordance with metaphysical proof. However, there is no reason to limit the matter to these Attributes, for all Attributes reduce to the reality of sheer existence, and this matter is not contrary to positing different multiple Attributes for the Divine Essence, or rather it corroborates it. That is because, as has been clearly established, the nearer an existent is to unity and farther it is from the horizon of multiplicity and freer, it is more inclusive in relation to the names and attributes, so that That which is pure existence, the simple, necessary Reality, glorious is His majesty and majestic is His power, is ultimate unity and simplicity and inclusive of all perfections and possessing all Names and Attributes, and to Him literally apply all concepts of perfection, glory, and beauty, and their applicability to the Sacred Divine is worthier and prior, with all the degrees of worthiness and priority.

To sum up, the stronger and more complete is the unity (wahdah) [of an existent], the applicability of the concepts of perfection to it is greater, and the greater is the number of [its] names and attributes. Conversely, the closer an existent is to the horizon of multiplicity, the lesser is the applicability of the concepts of perfection to it, and this applicability also becomes weaker and closer and similar to metaphor (majaz). And this is because unity (wahdah) is concomitant (musawiq) with existence and is a perfection of being qua being. The meaning of concomitance here is that although unity and existence are conceptually different, but in external reality the reality of existence is the same as the reality of unity. Wherever there is multiplicity, there is also to be found deficiency, nonbeing, evil, weakness and disability, and this is for the reason that the lower that existence descends through the planes of deficiency, multiplicity is greater than at all the other planes of existence. The station of the Lord and the Sacred Divine Being, Glorious and Exalted, which is sheer existence, is absolute unity and simplicity, and there is no way that multiplicity and compositeness should find way into Him.

We have pointed out earlier that existence is the principal reality of perfection and the mainspring of glory and beauty. Hence sheer existence is sheer unity and sheer perfection, and, therefore, sheer unity is sheer perfection. Thus all the Names, Attributes and perfections are true of That which stands at the highest' plane of unity, and the applicability of each of them to It is more justified and prior. Conversely, that which is closer to multiplicity has more of deficiency in it, and the applicability of the concepts of perfection and the names and attributes is deficient in its case and the quality of their applicability is also weak. Hence, God, the Exalted and the Glorious, possesses all the perfections and encompasses all the Names and Attributes without any of them being reducible to another. Rather, each of them is true of His Sacred Essence in the literal sense, His Hearing, Sight, Will, and Knowledge, all are in their true literal sense without implying multiplicity in the Sacred Essence in any respect whatsoever.

To Him belong all the Beautiful Names and the highest metaphors, and all majesty and bounties.


Section: Character of the Relation of God's Knowledge to the Knowables:

One should know, as pointed out earlier, that all existents, qua existents, with their aspects of ontological perfection, quaaspects of perfection, are known and disclosed to the Sacred Essence of God, the Exalted, with His simple essential knowledge(`ilm-e basil-e dhati) and a single pre-eternal disclosure (kashf-e wahid-e azali). This disclosure, with its very simplicity and complete unity, is detailed so that not an iota of the heavens of spirits nor a particle of the earths of corporeality is outside the realm of His knowledge from pre-eternity to eternity (azalan wa abadan). This knowledge and disclosure is in pre-eternity and the same as the Sacred Essence, and the knowables with their conditionings and limits (ta'ayyunat wa hududat), which derive from nonbeing and deficiency, find an accidental occurrence (tahaqquq bi'l-`arad) posterior to creation and relate to Knowledge accidentally, and this accidental relation is posterior to creation. And to this reference is made in the noble tradition where it is stated:

And when He brought the things into being, and the known came into being, His knowledge pertained to the known.

It is probable that this statement refers to active knowledge (`ilm-e fi'li) which is obtained by manifestation (tajalli) through the sacred emanation (fayd muqaddas), and that which is meant by the `knowables' are the knowables-by-essence (ma'lumat bi'l-dhat), which are existential entities (huwiyyat wujudiyyah) which are existential entities (huwiyyat wujudiyyah) related to the sacred emanation and the light of manifestation.

Hence in accordance with the first probability the meaning of the first statement would be as follows:

When He manifested Himself through His sacred emanation and the accidental being appeared, the knowledge pertained to the known; that is, the emanation appeared in the mirror of the receiver-by-accident of the emanation.

In accordance with the second probability, it would mean:

When He manifested Himself through His sacred emanation and the existence of the existents-by-essence became manifest-that is without the limiting aspect-the emanation pertained to the receiver-by-essence of the emanation.

On the basis of both the interpretations, this manifestation through the sacred emanation is not subject to temporal events and changes, and the creation of God, the Exalted; is free from and above any trace of temporality and change, or, rather, from all conditioning and limitation. And since the essential Knowledge (`ilm-e dhati) is simple in all aspects and encompasses all aspects, active Knowledge (ilm-e fi`li), which is the real sign of God and the manifestation of the essential Knowledge and its mirror, is completely primitive and absolutely one, encompassing the entire circle of existence without there being any conditioning, change, or composition in it. At the most it is sustained in its essence (mutaqawwam bi al-dhat) by the Sacred Divine Essence and is the very sheerness of dependence, and, in this respect, is annihilated (fani) in Divine Majesty and is the very presence before the Lord of Glory, and therefore it is considered God's knowledge, in the same way that the very creation by the rational soul of intelligible realities in the realm of the intellect and of the imaginary images in the tablet of imagination, are the active knowledge (`ilm-e fi'li) of the soul and annihilated (fani) in its essence (dhat).

The metaphysicians have said that the relation of the tablet of reality to God is like the relation of the forms of knowables to the soul. Due to this encompassment, simplicity, and influence they have said that God, the Exalted, knows the particulars with His universal knowledge (`ilm-e kulli); that is, the particularly, limitation, and being contained of the known does not cause limitation in [Divine] knowledge. Hence [Divine] knowledge is encompassing, pre-eternal (qadim wa azali) and unchanging, while the known is contained, limited, temporal, and changing. Those who are unfamiliar with the manner of their speech have been led to imagine that they have- negated God's knowledge of the particulars, taking (kulliyyah) and particularly (juz'iyyah)in the sense current in the jargon of logicians and lexicographers, ignorant of the fact that these terms have another meaning in the terminology of the people of gnosis (ma'rifah) and at times speculative philosophers (ahl-e nazar) have followed them in this regard. Rather, this conception pertaining to the topic of the knowledge of the Necessary Being, glorious is His Name and exalted is His station, has been borrowed by the metaphysicians from the gnostics.

Section: The Criterion Relating to Positive and Negative Attributes:

The criterion relating to the positive and negative Attributes of the Sacred Essence of the Necessary Being, glorious is His Name, is that every attribute pertaining to the attributes of perfection and excellences of beauty that applies to the Principle of the reality of being and the absolute essence of existence, without any dress of conditioning or change from one realm to another, and refers to the actual haecceity and luminous essence of being, is among the Attributes that are necessarily subsistent and necessarily realized for the Sacred Essence, exalted is Its station. That is because should it not subsist, it would imply either that the Sacred Essence is not sheer existence and absolute being, or that sheer existence is not sheer perfection and absolute beauty. Both of these are false conclusions from the viewpoint of the path of gnosis as well as the way of metaphysical reasoning, as stands established in its own place.

And no attribute and excellence is established for an existent except after its decent to one of the stages of conditioning and its assumption of one of the forms of limitations and its embracing one of the planes of deficiency with its accompanying limits of finitude and feebleness, and, in brief, that which does not pertain to the essence (dhat) of being and derives from limits and essences (mahiyyat) is from attributes whose negation is necessary and whose realization is impossible in respect of the absolutely perfect Essence. That is because in the same way as the absolutely perfect Essence and Absolute Being is the instance of sheer perfection, it is also the instance of the negation of deficiency, limits, non-existences and essences (mahiyyat).

And that which is well-known among the authorities, that the negative Attributes reduce, to a single negation, which is the negation of contingency, does not appear to be correct to this author. Rather, in the same way that the Sacred Essence is the essential instance (misdaq dhati) of all attributes of perfection, and none of them reduce to another; as clarified, above, so also it is the accidental instance of the negation of each of the deficiencies. And one cannot say that non-existences 'and defects make' a single aspect and that there is no distinction between, non-existences (la mayza fi al a'dam); because if one were to consider the matter in the context of actual reality; in the same way that absolute non-existence is a single 'aspect while representing all non-existences, so also absolute existence has a single aspect and is possessor of all perfections. Hence, from this viewpoint, which is the consideration of ahadiyyah and of the Unseen of the Unseen (ghayb al ghuyub), one cannot posit any attribute, neither the real positive(approving), attributes, nor the negative Divine attribute. But from another viewpoint, which is the consideration of the station of wahidiyyah and the inclusion of the Names and Attributes, as there is a multiplicity of positive attributes of perfection, every attribute of perfection implies a negation of the deficiency opposed to it. And in the same aspect that the Sacred Essence is the essential instance of Knower. It is the accidental instance of 'not ignorant,' and as It is 'Powerful,' it is 'not powerless. And as it is established in the science of the Names that among the Names and the positive Attributes there is a relationship by virtue of which some of them encompass and dominate others, which are encompassed and overlooked by them by implication these concepts also apply to the negative Names and Attributes.

Now that we know the criterion of the positive and negative Attributes, we can understand that motion-.which subsists through potentiality and prime matter, and temporality and renewal are in its very essence-does not apply to the Sacred Divine Essence, the Glorious and the Exalted

And 'speech' (takallum) in the ordinary sense, about which the narrator poses the question, is an attribute that is time-bound and subject to renewal and so does not apply to the Essence of God, the Exalted. But this does not preclude the positing of 'essential speech' (takallum dhati) for God, the Exalted, on the plane of the Essence, in a sense that is free from temporality and renewal (huduth).

To put this noble topic briefly, the reality of speech does not depend on the vocalization of speech from certain organs. This limitation, pertaining to ordinary language and general usage, derives from habit and familiarity as well as thoughts and ideas. Otherwise there is no limitation or conditioning in the meaning [of speech] itself. 'Knowledge' comprises of sheer cognition and the manifesting of a thing to the knower and it is not confined to being cognized through some material means such as the brain, or through such non-material means as the common sense (hiss-e mushtarak) or the tablet of imagination, for instance. If, supposedly, one were to the knowledge of something through his hand or foot, or see or hear something, it would still be knowledge; hearing, and sight. Similarly, when someone sees, hears and speaks in the world of dreams, all these concepts apply to that [that which is, heard, seen or spoken in dreams] without any trace of metaphor, although none of the specific sense organs is employed. Hence, the criterion of cognition as such depends on the applicability of these meanings and concepts. The reality of speech is the expression of that which is in one's mind and consciousness with or without the mediation of any special organ. Even if, supposedly, it should be metaphorical in accordance with language and usage, these limitations do not exist in the concepts and meanings themselves and are applicable in accordance with reason. We do not have any philological discussion on the topic of the Names and Attributes, and the purpose here is affirmation of the meanings themselves, though language and usage should not be helpful to their affirmation.

Accordingly, we say that the reality of speech is the expression of one's intent whether or not it occurs through sensible means, and regardless of whether it belongs to the category of sound, words, or aspiration. 'Speech' in this sense is among the attributes of perfection of existence, for [self]manifestation and expression belong to the reality of existence and subsist through the reality of existence, and the more existence ascends towards perfection and strength, its [self-]manifestation and expression become greater, until it reaches the highest horizon and the exalted station of Necessity, which is the Light of lights, and light upon light, and manifestation upon manifestation, expressing that which lies in the Unseen (ghayb) of the station of wahidiyyah (Unity, i.e. at the plane of the sacred emanation), through the unconditioned sacred emanation (fayd-e muqaddas-e itlaqi) and the existential word 'Be!, and expressing, through the most sacred emanation and the essential ahadimanifestation, the absolute ghayb and the stationless station of ahadiyyah (Unity, i.e. at the plane of the most sacred emanation). And in this ahadi manifestation, the speaker is the ahadi Sacred Essence, and the speech is the most sacred emanation and the manifestation of Essence (tajalli dhati), and the listener the Names and the Attributes. By that very manifestation, the conditioned expressions (ta'ayyunat) of the Names and the Attributes comply and obtain occurrence in Knowledge (tahaqquq-e `ilmi). In the wahidi manifestation, through the sacred emanation (fayd muqaddas), the speaker is thewahidi Sacred Essence, inclusive of all the Names and the Attributes, and speech is the manifestation itself, and the listener and the compliant one on the [plane of] realization are the cognitive archetypes (a'yan 'ilmiyyah) implied in the Names and-the Attributes, which obtain concrete realization by the command `Be!'

So when He says 'Be! to every archetypes that He wills to create, it complies with the Divine command, and it as and actualized.

And there are many traditions, which we have not mentioned, that may be cited as evidence on this topic. And all Praise belongs to God firstly and lastly.

[1] Usul al-Kafi, i,107, "kitab al-tawhid" "bab sifat al-dhat" hadith 1

[2] Al-Asfar al-arba'ah, vi,118, safar 3, mawqif 2 on the discussion of the Sifat. See also Sabzawaris gloss at this place.

[3]. Misbah al-uns, 130-131; Naqd al-Nusus, fasal 2, p 38.39.

[4]. Muhammad Sa'id ibn Muhammad Mufid Qummi, known as Qadi Said, was an eminent Shi'i Scholar well versed in hadith, philosophy, and literature and strongly inclined towards 'irfan. A pupil of Mulla Muhsin Fayd Kashani Mulla 'Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji and Mulla Rajab 'Ali Tabrizi, he held the office of judgeship in Qum and so came to be known as 'Qadi'. He died in 1103/1691-2 at Qum. Among his works are, al-Arba'un hadith, Asrar al-salat, Hashiyah Uthululjiya, a hashiyah on al-Isharat, Haqiqat al-salat, asharh of al-Tawhid by al-Shaykh al-Sad'uq (r), al-Bawariq al-malakutiyyah, and Kelid-e behesht.

[5]. Sharh al-Tawhid iii, 54; MS. in Ayatullah Mar'ashi Public Library, Qum.

[6]. Mulla Rajab 'Ali Tabrizi (d 1080/1669-70) was a pupil of Mir Fendereski He was an Aristotelian and taught the works of Ibn Sina. Among his disciples were Qadi Sa'id and Muhammad Tunekabuni. Among his works is Kelid-e behesht, a treatise in Persian on the proof of the existence of the Necessary Being.

[7]. Al-Afsar al-arba'ah, vi,176-284, safar 3, mawqif 3; Sharh al-Isharat, namat 7, fasl 15.

[8]. Al-Afsar al-arb'ah, vi, 263-277, safar 3, mawqif 3, fasl 12.,

[9]. Ibid., 280-290.

[10]. Sharh Hikmat al-ishraq, 358-366; al-Asfar, vi, 423, safar 3, mawqif 6.

[11] Al-Asfar, vi, 118, safar 3, nawqif 2.

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