Forty Hadith, An Exposition, Second Revised Edtion


Author(s): Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah al-Musawi al-Khomeini

Translator(s): Ali Quli Qarai Mahliqa Qarai

Publisher(s): Ahlul Bayt World Assembly

Category: Hadith Collections Ethics General Spirituality

Topic Tags: Ahadith forty hadith Ethics Spirituality Miscellaneous information: The original work in Persian, recently published under the title quot;Arba`in, ya chihil hadith was written by Imam al-Khomeini forty-six years ago and was completed in the month of Muharram 1358 (April-May, 1939). The manuscript of this work, together with that of two other unpublished works of the author, Sharh Duae sahar and Adab al-salat, were recovered from the library of the late Ayatullah Akhund al-Hamadani. All the three works have now been published.

Featured Category: Spirituality

Person Tags: Imam Khomeini


An Exposition on Forty Ahadith Narrated through the Prophet and His Ahl al-Bayt, may peace be upon themDetailed commentary on 40 selected traditions narrated through the Prophet (S) and his Ahl al-Bayt (a) on topics of ethics and spirituality, including jihad al-nafs.

Second revised edition.

Introductory Note

The original work in Persian, recently published under the title “Arba’in, ya chihil hadith” was written by Imam al-Khumayni forty-six years ago and was completed in the month of Muharram 1358 (April-May, 1939).

The manuscript of this work, together with that of two other unpublished works of the author, Sharh Du’ae sahar, and Adab al-salat, were recovered from the library of the late Ayatullah Akhund al-Hamadani. All the three works have now been published.

About The Author


By Hamid Algar(1)

It is in many ways remarkable that ten years after his death

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1- English-born Hamid Algar received his Ph.D. in oriental studies from Cambridge. Since 1965, he has served on the faculty of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he teaches Persian and Islamic history and philosophy. Dr. Algar has written extensively on the subject of Iran and Islam, including the books Religion and State in Iran, 1785-1906 and Mirza Malkum Khan: A Biographical Study in Iranian Modernism. He has been following the Islamic movement in Iran with interest for many years. In an article published in 1972, he assessed the situation there and forecast the Revolution “more accurately than all the U.S. government’s political officers and intelligence analysts,” in the words of Nicholas Wade, Science magazine. Dr. Algar has translated numerous books from Arabic, Turkish, and Persian, including the book Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini.

and twenty years after the triumph of the revolution that he led no serious, comprehensive biography of Imam Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khumayni has yet been written, whether in Persian or any other language. He was, after all, the pre-eminent figure of recent Islamic history, for his impact, considerable enough in Iran itself, has also reverberated throughout much of the Muslim world and helped to transform the worldview and consciousness of many Muslims.

Indeed, it may be precisely this magnitude of the Imam’s achievement, together with the complexity of his spiritual, intellectual, and political personality that has so far discouraged potential biographers. The materials available for the task are, however, as abundant as his accomplishments were varied, and the present writer hopes to take up the challenge in the near future.

What follows is therefore nothing more than a preliminary sketch, intended to acquaint the reader with the outlines of the Imam’s life and the main aspects of his person as an Islamic leader of exceptional stature.

Childhood and Early Education

Ruhullah Musawi Khumayni was born on 20 Jamadi al-Akhir 1320/ 24 September 1902, the anniversary of the birth of Hazrat Fatima, in the small town of Khumayn, some 160 kilometers to the southwest of Qum. He was the child of a family with a long tradition of religious scholarship. His ancestors, descendants of Imam Musa al-Kazim, the seventh Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt, had migrated towards the end of the eighteenth century from their original home in Nishapur to the Lucknow region of northern India.


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they settled in the small town of Kintur and began devoting themselves to the religious instruction and guidance of the region’s predominantly Shi’i population. The most celebrated member of the family was Mir Hamid Husayn (d. 1880), author of ‘Abaqat al-Anwar fi Imamat al-A’immat al-Athar, a voluminous work on the topics traditionally disputed by Sunni and Shi’i Muslims.(1)

Imam Khumayni’s grandfather, Sayyid Ahmad, a contemporary of Mir Hamid Husayn, left Lucknow some time in the middle of the nineteenth century on pilgrimage to the tomb of Hazrat ‘Ali in Najaf.(2) While in Najaf, Sayyid Ahmad made the acquaintance of a certain Yusuf Khan, a prominent citizen of Khumayn.

Accepting his invitation, he decided to settle in Khumayn to assume responsibility for the religious needs of its citizens and also took Yusuf Khan’s daughter in marriage. Although Sayyid Ahmad’s links with India were cut by this decision, he continued to be known to his contemporaries as “Hindi,” an appellation, which was inherited by his descendants; we see even that Imam Khumayni used “Hindi” as penname in some of his ghazals.(3)

Shortly before the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution in February 1978, the Shah’s regime attempted to use this Indian element in the Imam’s family background to depict him as an alien and traitorous element in Iranian society, an attempt that as will be seen backfired on its author. By the time of his death, the date of which is unknown, Sayyid Ahmad had fathered two children: a daughter by the name of

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1- See Muhammad Riza Hakimi, Mir Hamid Husayn, Qum, 1362 Sh./1983.
2- However, according to a statement by the Imam’s elder brother, Sayyid Murtaza Pasandida, his point of departure was Kashmir, not Lucknow; see ‘Ali Davani, Nahzat-i Ruhaniyun-I Iran, Tehran, n.d., VI, p. 760).
3- See Divan-I Imam, Tehran, 1372 Sh./1993, p. 50.

Sahiba, and Sayyid Mustafa Hindi, born in 1885, the father of Imam Khumayni.

Sayyid Mustafa began his religious education in Isfahan with Mir Muhammad Taqi Mudarrisi before continuing his studies in Najaf and Samarra under the guidance of Mirza Hasan Shirazi (d.1894), the principal authority of the age in Shi’i jurisprudence. This corresponded to a pattern of preliminary study in Iran followed by advanced study in the ‘atabat, the shrine cities of Iraq, which for long remained normative; Imam Khumayni was in fact the first religious leader of prominence whose formation took place entirely in Iran.

In Dhu’l-Hijja 1320/ March 1903, some five months after the Imam’s birth, Sayyid Mustafa was attacked and killed while traveling on the road between Khumayn and the neighboring city of Arak. The identity of the assassin immediately became known; it was Ja’far-quli Khan, the cousin of a certain Bahram Khan, one of the richest landowners of the region. The cause of the assassination is, however, difficult to establish with certainty. According to an account that became standard after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, Sayyid Mustafa had aroused the anger of the local landowners because of his defense of the impoverished peasantry.

However, Sayyid Mustafa himself, in addition to the religious functions he fulfilled, was also a farmer of moderate prosperity, and it is possible that he fell victim to one of the disputes over irrigation rights that were common at the time. A third explanation is that Sayyid Mustafa, in his capacity of shari’a

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judge of Khumayn, had punished someone for a public violation of the fast of Ramadan and that the family of the offender then exacted a deadly revenge.(1)

The attempts of Sahiba, Sayyid Mustafa’s sister, to have the killer punished in Khumayn proved fruitless, so his widow, Hajar, went to Tehran to appeal for justice, according to one account carrying the infant Ruhullah in her arms. She was followed there by her two elder sons, Murtaza and Nur al-Din, and finally, in Rabi’ al-Awwal 1323/ May 1925, Ja’far-quli Khan was publicly executed in Tehran on the orders of ‘Ayn al-Dawla, the prime minister of the day.

In 1918, the Imam lost both his aunt, Sahiba, who had played a great role in his early upbringing, and his mother, Hajar. Responsibility for the family then devolved on the eldest brother, Sayyid Murtaza (later to be known as Ayatullah Pasandida). The material welfare of the brothers seems to have been ensured by their father’s estate, but the insecurity and lawlessness that had cost him his life continued. In addition to the incessant feuds among landowners, Khumayn was plagued by the raids mounted on the town by the Bakhtiyari and Lurr tribesmen whenever they had the chance.

Once when a Bakhtiyari chieftain by the name of Rajab ‘Ali came raiding, the young Imam was obliged to take up a rifle together with his brothers and defend the family home. When recounting these events many years later, the Imam remarked, “I have been at war since

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1- Interview of the present writer with Hajj Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini, son of the Imam, Tehran, 12 September, 1982.

my childhood.”(1) Among the scenes, he witnessed during his youth and that remained in his memory to help shape his later political activity mention may also be made of the arbitrary and oppressive deeds of landowners and provincial governors. Thus, he recalled in later years how a newly arrived governor had arrested and bastinadoed the chief of the merchants’ guild of Gulpaygan for no other purpose than the intimidation of its citizens.(2)

Imam Khumayni began his education by memorizing the Qur’an at a maktab operated near his home by a certain Mullah Abu ‘l-Qasim; he became a hafiz by the age of seven. He next embarked on the study of Arabic with Shaykh Ja’far, one of his mother’s cousins, and took lessons on other subjects first from Mirza Mahmud Iftikhar al-'Ulama’ and then from his maternal uncle, Hajji Mirza Muhammad Mahdi. His first teacher in logic was Mirza Riza Najafi, his brother-in-law. Finally, among his instructors in Khumayn mention may be made of the Imam’s elder brother, Murtaza, who taught him Najm al-Din Katib Qazvini’s al-Mutawwal on badi’ and ma’ani and one of the treatises of al-Suyuti on grammar and syntax.

(Although Sayyid Murtaza - who took the surname Pasandida after the law mandating the choice of a surname in 1928 - studied for a while in Isfahan, he never completed the higher levels of religious education; after working for a while in the registrar’s office in Khumayn, he moved to Qum where he was to spend the rest of his life).


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1- Imam Khomeini, Sahifa-yi Nur, Tehran, 1361 Sh., /1982, X p. 63.
2- Sahifa-yi Nur, XVI, p. 121.

1339/1920-21, Sayyid Murtaza sent the Imam to the city of Arak (or Sultanabad, as it was then known) in order for him to benefit from the more ample educational resources available there. Arak had become an important center of religious learning because of the presence of Ayatullah ‘Abd al-Karim Ha’iri (d.1936), one of the principal scholars of the day. He had arrived there in 1332/1914 at the invitation of the townspeople, and some three hundred students - a relatively large number - attended his lectures at the Mirza Yusuf Khan Madrasa.

It is probable that Imam Khumayni was not yet advanced enough to study directly under Ha’iri; instead, he worked on logic with Shaykh Muhammad Gulpayagani, read the Sharh al-Lum’a of Shaykh Zayn al-Din al-Amili (d. 996/1558), one of the principal texts of Ja’fari jurisprudence, with Aqa-yi ‘Abbas Araki, and continued his study of al-Mutawwal with Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali Burujirdi. Roughly a year after the Imam’s arrival in Arak, Ha’iri accepted a summons from the Ulama of Qum to join them and preside over their activity.

One of the earliest strongholds of Shi’ism in Iran, Qum had traditionally been a major center of religious learning as well as pilgrimage to the shrine of Hazrat-I Ma’suma, a daughter of Imam Musa al-Kazim, but it had been overshadowed for many decades by the shrine cities of Iraq with their superior resources of erudition. The arrival of Ha’iri in Qum not only brought about a revival of its madrasas but also began a process whereby

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the city became in effect the spiritual capital of Iran, a process that was completed by the political struggle launched there by Imam Khumayni some forty years later.

The Imam followed Ha’iri to Qum after an interval of roughly four months. This move was the first important turning point in his life. It was in Qum that he received all his advanced spiritual and intellectual training, and he was to retain a deep sense of identification with the city throughout the rest of his life. It is possible, indeed, although not in a reductive sense, to describe him as a product of Qum. In 1980, when addressing a group of visitors from Qum, he declared, “Wherever I may be, I am a citizen of Qum, and take pride in the fact. My heart is always with Qum and its people.”(1)

The Years of Spiritual and Intellectual Formation in Qum, 1923 To 1962

After his arrival in Qum in 1922 or 1923, the Imam first devoted himself to completing the preliminary stage of madrasa education known as sutuh; this he did by studying with teachers such as Shaykh Muhammad Riza Najafi Masjid-i Shahi, Mirza Muhammad Taqi Khwansari, and Sayyid ‘Ali Yasribi Kashani. However, from his early days in Qum, the Imam gave an indication that he was destined to become more than another great authority on Ja’fari jurisprudence. He showed an exceptional interest in subjects that not only were usually absent from the madrasa curriculum, but were often an object of hostility and suspicion: philosophy, in its various traditional schools, and Gnosticism (‘irfan).


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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, XII, p. 51.

began cultivating this interest by studying the Tafsir-i Safi, a commentary on the Qur’an by the Sufistically-inclined Mullah Muhsin Fayz-i Kashani (d.1091/1680), together with the late Ayatullah ‘Ali Araki (d. 1994), then a young student like himself. His formal instruction in gnosticism and the related discipline of ethics began with classes taught by Hajji Mirza Javad Maliki-Tabrizi, but this scholar died in 1304/1925.

Similarly, the Imam was not able to benefit for long from his first teacher in philosophy, Mirza ‘Ali Akbar Hakim Yazdi, a pupil of the great master Mullah Hadi Sabzavari (d.1295/1878), for Yazdi passed away in 1305/1926. Another of the Imam’s early instructors in philosophy was Sayyid Abu ‘l-Hasan Qazvini (d. 1355/1976), a scholar of both peripatetic and illuminationist philosophy; the Imam attended his circle until Qazvini’s departure from Qum in 1310/1931.

The teacher who had the most profound influence on Imam Khumayni’s spiritual development was, however, Mirza Muhammad ‘Ali Shahabadi (d. 1328 Sh. /1950); to him the Imam refers in a number of his works as shaykhuna and ‘arif-I kamil, and his relationship with him was that of a murid with his murshid.

When Shahabadi first came to Qum in 1307 Sh. /1928, the young Imam asked him a question concerning the nature of revelation, and was captivated by the answer he received. At his insistent request, Shahabadi consented to teach him and a few other select students the Fusus al-Hikam of Ibn ‘Arabi. Although the basis of instruction was Da’ud Qaysari’s commentary on the Fusus, the

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Imam testified that Shahabadi also presented his own original insights on the text. Among the other texts that Imam Khumayni studied with Shahabadi were the Manazil al-Sa’irin of the Hanbali Sufi, Khwaja ‘Abdullah Ansari (d.482/1089), and the Misbah al-Uns of Muhammad b. Hamza Fanari (d. 834/1431), a commentary on the Mafatih al-Ghayb of Sadr al-Din Qunavi (d. 673/1274).

It is conceivable that the Imam derived from Shahabadi, at least in part, whether consciously or not, the fusion of gnostic and political concerns that came to characterize his life. For this spiritual master of the Imam was one of the relatively few ulama in the time of Riza Shah to preach publicly against the misdeeds of the regime, and in his Shadharat al-Ma’arif, a work primarily gnostic in character, described Islam as “most certainly a political religion.”(1)

Gnosis and ethics were also the subject of the first classes taught by the Imam. The class on ethics taught by Hajji Javad Aqa Maliki Tabrizi were resumed, three years after his death, by Shahabadi, and when Shahabadi left for Tehran in 1936, he assigned the class to Imam Khumayni. The class consisted in the first place of a careful reading of Ansari’s Manazil al-Sa’irin, but ranged beyond the text to touch on a wide variety of contemporary concerns.

It proved popular to the extent that the townsfolk of Qum as well as the students of the religious sciences attended, and people are related to have come from as far a field as Tehran and

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1- Shadharat al-Ma’arif, Tehran, 1360 Sh./1982, pp. 6-7.

Isfahan simply to listen to the Imam. This popularity of the Imam’s lectures ran contrary to the policies of the Pahlavi regime, which wished to limit the influence of the ulama outside the religious teaching institution. The government therefore secured the transfer of the lectures from the prestigious location of the Fayziya madrasa to the Mullah Sadiq madrasa, which was unable to accommodate large crowds.

However, after the deposition of Riza Shah in 1941, the lectures returned to the Fayziya madrasa and instantly regained their former popularity. The ability to address the people at large, not simply his own colleagues within the religious institution, which the Imam displayed for the first time in these lectures on ethics, was to play an important role in the political struggles he led in later years.

While teaching ethics to a wide and diverse audience, Imam Khumayni began teaching important texts of gnosis, such as the section on the soul in al-Asfar al-Arba’a of Mullah Sadra (d. 1050/1640) and Sabzavari’s Sharh-I Manzuma, to a select group of young scholars that included Murtaza Mutahhari and Husayn ‘Ali Muntaziri, who subsequently became two of his principal collaborators in the revolutionary movement he launched some three decades later.

As for the earliest writings of the Imam, they also indicate that his primary interest during his early years in Qum was gnosis. In 1928, for example, he completed the Sharh Du’a’ al-Sahar, a detailed commentary on the supplicatory prayers recited throughout Ramadan by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir; as with all

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Imam Khumayni’s works on gnosis, the terminology of Ibn ‘Arabi is frequently encountered in this book. Two years later, he completed Misbah al-Hidaya ila ‘l-Khilafa wa ‘l-Wilaya, a dense and systematic treatise on the main topics of gnosis. Another product of the same years of concentration on gnosis was a series of glosses on Qaysari’s commentary on the Fusus.

In a brief autobiography written for inclusion in a book published in 1934, the Imam wrote that he spent most of his time studying and teaching the works of Mullah Sadra; that he had for several years been studying gnosis with Shahabadi; and that at the same time he was attending the classes of Ayatullah Ha’iri on fiqh.(1)

The sequence of these statements suggests that fiqh was as yet secondary among his concerns. This situation was to change, but gnosis was for the Imam never simply a topic for study, teaching, and writing. It remained an integral part of his intellectual and spiritual personality, and as such infused many of his ostensibly political activities in later years with an unmistakably gnostic element.

The Imam did not engage in any overt political activities during the 1930’s. He always believed that the leadership of political activities should be in the hands of the foremost religious scholars, and he was therefore obliged to accept the decision of Ha’iri to remain relatively passive toward the measures taken by Riza Shah against the traditions and culture of Islam in Iran. In any event, as a still junior figure in

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1- Sayyid ‘Ali Riza Yazdi Husayni, Aina-yi Danishvaran, Tehran, 1353/1934, pp. 65-7.

the religious institution in Qum, he would have been in no position to mobilize popular opinion on a national scale.

He was nonetheless in contact with those few ulama who did openly challenge Riza Shah, not only Shahabadi, but also men such as Hajji Nurullah Isfahani, Mirza Sadiq Aqa Tabrizi, Aqazada Kifai, and Sayyid Hasan Mudarris. He expressed his own opinions of the Pahlavi regime, the leading characteristics of which he identified as oppression and hostility to religion, as yet only allusively, in privately circulated poems.(1)

He assumed a public political stance for the first time in a proclamation dated 15 Urdibihisht 1323/ 4 May 1944 that called for action to deliver the Muslims of Iran and the entire Islamic world from the tyranny of foreign powers and their domestic accomplices. The Imam begins by citing Qur’an, 34:46 (“Say: ‘I enjoin but one thing upon you, that you rise up for Allah, in pairs and singly, and then reflect’”). This is the same verse that opens the chapter on awakening (bab al-yaqza) at the very beginning of Ansari’s Manazil al-Sa’irin, the handbook of spiritual wayfaring first taught to the Imam by Shahabadi. The Imam’s interpretation of “rising up” is, however, both spiritual and political, both individual and collective, a rebellion against lassitude in the self and corruption in society.

The same spirit of comprehensive revolt inspires the first work written by the Imam for publication, Kashf al-Asrar (Tehran, 1324 Sh. /1945). He is said to have completed the book in forty-eight days

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1- Sayyid Hamid Ruhani, Barrasi va Tahlili az Nahzat-I Imam Khumayni, I, Najaf, n.d., pp. 55-9.

from a sense of urgency, and that it indeed met a need is proven by the fact that it went through two impressions in its first year.

The principal aim of the book, as reflected in its title, was to refute ‘Ali Akbar Hakamizada’s Asrar-i Hazarsala, a work calling for a “reform” of Shi’i Islam. Similar attacks on Shi’i tradition were being made in the same period by Shari’at Sanglaji (d.1944), an admirer of Wahhabism despite that sect’s marked hostility to Shi’ism, and Ahmad Kasravi (d. 1946), competent as a historian but mediocre as a thinker. The Imam’s vindication of such aspects of Shi’i practice as the mourning ceremonies of Muharram, pilgrimage (ziyara) to the tombs of the Imams, and the recitation of the supplicatory prayers composed by the Imams, was therefore a response to the criticisms made by all three.

Imam Khumayni connected their assaults on tradition with the anti-religious policies of Riza Shah and bitterly criticized the Pahlavi regime for destroying public morality. He stopped short, however, of demanding the abolition of the monarchy, proposing instead that an assembly of competent mujtahids should choose “a just monarch who will not violate God’s laws and will shun oppression and wrongdoing, who will not transgress against men’s property, lives, and honor.”(1)

Even this conditional legitimacy of monarchy was to last “only so long as a better system could not be established.”(2) There can be no doubt that the “better system” already envisaged by Imam Khumayni in 1944 was Wilayat al-faqih, which

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1- Kashf al-Asrar, p. 185.
2- Kashf al-Asrar, p. 186.

became the constitutional cornerstone of the Islamic Republic of Iran established in 1979.

When Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karim Ha’iri died in 1936, the supervision of the religious institution in Qum had been jointly assumed by Ayatullah Khwansari, Ayatullah Sadr, and Ayatullah Hujjat. A sense of lack was nonetheless felt. When Ayatullah Abu ‘l-Hasan Isfahani, the principal marja’-i taqlid of the age residing in Najaf, died in 1946, the need for a centralized leadership of Shi’i Muslims became more felt more acutely, and a search began for a single individual capable of fulfilling the duties and functions of both Ha’iri and Isfahani. Ayatullah Burujirdi, then resident in Hamadan, was seen to be the most suitable person available, and Imam Khumayni is said to have played an important role in persuading him to come to Qum.

In this he was no doubt motivated in part by the hope that Burujirdi would adopt a firm position vis-a-vis Muhammad Riza Shah, the second Pahlavi ruler. This hope was to remain largely unfulfilled. In April 1949, Imam Khumayni learned that Burujirdi was engaged in negotiations with the government concerning possible emendations to the constitution then in force, and he wrote him a letter expressing his anxieties about the possible consequences. In 1955, a nationwide campaign against the Baha’i sect was launched, for which the Imam sought to recruit Burujirdi’s support, but he had little success.

As for religious personalities who were militantly active in the political sphere at the time, notably Ayatullah Abu ‘l-Qasim Kashani and Navvab

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Safavi, the leader of the Fida’iyan-i Islam, the Imam’s contacts with them were sporadic and inconclusive. His reluctance for direct political involvement in this period was probably due to his belief that any movement for radical change ought to be led by the senior echelons of the religious establishment. In addition, the most influential personage on the crowded and confused political scene of the day was the secular nationalist, Dr. Muhammad Musaddiq.

Imam Khumayni therefore concentrated during the years of Burujirdi’s leadership in Qum on giving instruction in fiqh and gathering round him students who later became his associates in the movement that led to the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime, not only Mutahhari and Muntaziri, but younger men such as Muhammad Javad Bahonar and ‘Ali Akbar Hashimi-Rafsanjani.

In 1946, he began teaching usul al-fiqh at the kharij level, taking as his text the chapter on rational proofs from the second volume of the Kifayat al-Usul of Akhund Muhammad Kazim Khurasani (d. 1329/1911). Initially attended by no more than thirty students, the class became so popular in Qum that five hundred were in attendance the third time it was offered.

According to the reminiscences of some of those who took the class, it was distinguished from other classes taught in Qum on the same subject by the critical spirit the Imam instilled in his students, as well as his ability to connect fiqh with all the other dimensions of Islam - ethical, gnostic, philosophical, political, and social.

The Years of Struggle And Exile, 1962-1978

The emphases of the Imam’s

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activity began to change with the death of Burujirdi on March 31, 1961, for he now emerged as one of the successors to Burujirdi’s position of leadership. This emergence was signaled by the publication of some of his writings on fiqh, most importantly the basic handbook of religious practice entitled, like others of its genre, Tauzih al-Masa’il. He was soon accepted as marja’-i taqlid by a large number of Iranian Shi’is. His leadership role was, however, destined to go far beyond that traditional for a marja’-i taqlid and to attain a comprehensiveness unique in the history of the Shi’i ulama.

This became apparent soon after the death of Burujirdi when Muhammad Riza Shah, secure in his possession of power after the CIA-organized coup of August 1953, embarked on a series of measures designed to eliminate all sources of opposition, actual or potential, and to incorporate Iran firmly into American patterns of strategic and economic domination.

In the autumn of 1962, the government promulgated new laws governing elections to local and provincial councils, which deleted the former requirement that those elected be sworn into office on the Qur’an. Seeing in this a plan to permit the infiltration of public life by the Baha’is, Imam Khumayni telegraphed both the Shah and the prime minister of the day, warning them to desist from violating both the law of Islam and the Iranian Constitution of 1907, failing which the ulama would engage in a sustained campaign of protest. Rejecting all compromise measures, the Imam was

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able to force the repeal of the laws in question seven weeks after they had been promulgated. This achievement marked his emergence on the scene as the principal voice of opposition to the Shah.

A more serious confrontation was not long in coming. In January 1963, the Shah announced a six-point program of reform that he termed the White Revolution, an American-inspired package of measures designed to give his regime a liberal and progressive facade. Imam Khumayni summoned a meeting

of his colleagues in Qum to press upon them the necessity of opposing the Shah’s plans, but they were initially hesitant. They sent one of their number, Ayatullah Kamalvand, to see the Shah and gauge his intentions.

Although the Shah showed no inclination to retreat or compromise, it took further pressure by Imam Khumayni on the other senior ulama of Qum to persuade them to decree a boycott of the referendum that the Shah had planned to obtain the appearance of popular approval for his White Revolution.

For his own part, Imam Khumayni issued on January 22, 1963 a strongly worded declaration denouncing the Shah and his plans. In imitation, perhaps, of his father, who had taken an armored column to Qum in 1928 in order to intimidate certain outspoken ulama, the Shah came to Qum two days later. Faced with a boycott by all the dignitaries of the city, he delivered a speech harshly attacking the ulama as a class.

On January 26, the referendum was held, with a low turnout that reflected

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the growing heed paid by the Iranian people to Imam Khumayni’s directives. He continued his denunciation of the Shah’s programs, issuing a manifesto that also bore the signatures of eight other senior scholars. In it he listed the various ways in which the Shah had violated the constituent, condemned the spread of moral corruption in the country, and accused the Shah of comprehensive submission to America and Israel: “I see the solution to lie in this tyrannical government being removed, for the crime of violating the ordinances of Islam and trampling the constitution, and in a government taking its place that adheres to Islam and has concern for the Iranian nation.”(1) He also decreed that the Nauruz celebrations for the Iranian year 1342 (which fell on March 21, 1963) be cancelled as a sign of protest against government policies.

The very next day, paratroopers were sent to the Fayziya madrasa in Qum, the site where the Imam delivered his public speeches. They killed a number of students, beat and arrested a number of others, and ransacked the building. Unintimidated, the Imam continued his attacks on the regime. On April 1, he denounced the persistent silence of certain apolitical ulama as “tantamount to collaboration with the tyrannical regime,” and one day later proclaimed political neutrality under the guise of taqiya to be haram.(2)

When the Shah sent his emissaries to the houses of the ulama in Qum to threaten them with the destruction of their homes, the Imam reacted contemptuously by referring

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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, I, p. 27.
2- Kauthar, I, p. 67; Sahifa-yi Nur, I, p. 39.

to the Shah as “that little man (mardak).” Then, on April 3, 1963, the fortieth day after the attack on the Fayziya madrasa, he described the Iranian government as being determined to eradicate Islam at the behest of America, Israel, and himself as resolved to combat it.

Confrontation turned to insurrection some two months later. The beginning of Muharram, always a time of heightened religious awareness and sensitivity, saw demonstrators in Tehran carrying pictures of the Imam and denouncing the Shah in front of his own palace. On the afternoon of ‘Ashura (June 3, 1963), Imam Khumayni delivered a speech at the Fayziya madrasa in which he drew parallels between the Umayyad caliph Yazid and the Shah and warned the Shah that if he did not change his ways the day would come when the people would offer up thanks for his departure from the country.(1)

This warning was remarkably prescient, for on January 16, 1979, the Shah was indeed obliged to leave Iran amidst scenes of popular rejoicing. The immediate effect of the Imam’s speech was, however, his arrest two days later at 3 o’clock in the morning by a group of commandos who hastily transferred him to the Qasr prison in Tehran.

As dawn broke on June 3, the news of his arrest spread first through Qum and then to other cities. In Qum, Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad and Varamin, masses of angry demonstrators were confronted by tanks and ruthlessly slaughtered. It was not until six days later that order was

p: 20

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, I, p. 46.

fully restored. This uprising of 15 Khurdad 1342 (the day in the Iranian calendar on which it began) marked a turning point in Iranian history.

Henceforth the repressive and dictatorial nature of the Shah’s regime, reinforced by the unwavering support of the United States, was constantly intensified, and with it the prestige of Imam Khumayni as the only figure of note - whether religious or secular - willing to challenge him. The arrogance imbuing the Shah’s policies also caused a growing number of the ulama to abandon their quietism and align themselves with the radical goals set forth by the Imam. The movement of 15 Khurdad may therefore be characterized as the prelude to the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79; the goals of that revolution and its leadership had already been determined.

After nineteen days in the Qasr prison, Imam Khumayni was moved first, to the ‘Ishratabad military base and then to a house in the Davudiya section of Tehran where he was kept under surveillance. Despite the killings that had taken place during the uprising, mass demonstrations were held in Tehran and elsewhere demanding his release and some of his colleagues came to the capital from Qum to lend their support to the demand. It was not, however, until April 7, 1964 that he was released, no doubt on the assumption that imprisonment had tempered his views and that the movement he had led would quietly subside.

Three days after his release and return to Qum, he dispelled such illusions by

p: 21

refuting officially inspired rumors that he had come to an understanding with the Shah’s regime and by declaring that the movement inaugurated on 15 Khurdad would continue. Aware of the persisting differences in approach between the Imam and some of the other senior religious scholars, the regime had also attempted to discredit him by creating dissension in Qum. These attempts, too, were unsuccessful, for early in June 1964 all the major ulama put their signatures to declarations commemorating the first anniversary of the uprising of 15 Khurdad.

Despite its failure to sideline or silence Imam Khumayni, the Shah’s regime continued its pro-American policies unwaveringly. In the autumn of 1964, it concluded a status of forces agreement with the United States that provided immunity from prosecution for all American personnel in Iran and their dependents. This occasioned the Imam to deliver what was perhaps the most vehement speech of the entire struggle against the Shah; certainly one of his close associates, Ayatullah Muhammad Mufattih, had never seen him so agitated.(1)

He denounced the agreement as a surrender of Iranian independence and sovereignty, made in exchange for a $200 million loan that would be of benefit only to the Shah and his associates, and described as traitors all those in the Majlis who voted in favor of it; the government lacked all legitimacy, he concluded.(2)

Shortly before dawn on November 4, 1964, again a detachment of commandos surrounded the Imam’s house in Qum, arrested him, and this time took him directly to Mehrabad airport

p: 22

1- Interview with the present writer, Tehran, December 1979.
2- Kauthar, I, pp. 169-178.

in Tehran for immediate banishment to Turkey. The decision to deport rather than arrest Imam Khumayni and imprison him in Iran was based no doubt on the hope that in exile he would fade from popular memory. Physical elimination would have been fraught with the danger of an uncontrollable popular uprising. As for the choice of Turkey, this reflected the security cooperation existing between the Shah’s regime and Turkey.

The Imam was first lodged in room 514 of Bulvar Palas Oteli in Ankara, a moderately comfortable hotel in the Turkish capital, under the joint surveillance of Iranian and Turkish security officials. On November 12, he was moved from Ankara to Bursa, where he was to reside another eleven months. The stay in Turkey cannot have been congenial, for Turkish law forbade Imam Khumayni to wear the cloak and turban of the Muslim scholar, an identity which was integral to his being; the sole photographs in existence to show him bareheaded all belong to the period of exile in Turkey.(1)

However, on December 3, 1964, he was joined in Bursa by his eldest son, Hajj Mustafa Khumayni; he was also permitted to receive occasional visitors from Iran, and was supplied with a number of books on fiqh. He made use of his forced stay in Bursa to compile Tahrir al-Wasila, a two-volume compendium on questions of jurisprudence. Important and distinctive are the fatwas this volume contains, grouped under the headings of al-amr bi ‘l-ma’ruf wa ‘l-nahy ‘an al-munkar and difa’.

The Imam

p: 23

1- See Ansari, Hadis-I Bidari, p. 67.

decrees, for example, that “if it is feared that the political and economic domination (by foreigners) over an Islamic land will lead to the enslavement and weakening of the Muslims, then such domination must be repelled by appropriate means, including passive resistance, the boycott of foreign goods, and the abandonment of all dealings and association with the foreigners in question.” Similarly, “if an attack by foreigners on one of the Islamic states is anticipated, it is incumbent on all Islamic states to repel the attack by all possible means; indeed, this is incumbent on the Muslims as a whole.”(1)

On September 5, 1965, Imam Khumayni left Turkey for Najaf in Iraq, where he was destined to spend thirteen years. As a traditional center of Shi’i learning and pilgrimage, Najaf was clearly a preferable and more congenial place of exile. It had moreover already functioned as a stronghold of ulama opposition to the Iranian monarchy during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1909. But it was not in order to accommodate the Imam that the Shah arranged for his transfer to Najaf.

First, there was continuing disquiet among the Imam’s followers at his forced residence in Bursa, away from the traditional milieu of the Shi’i madrasa; such objections could be met by moving him to Najaf. Second, it was hoped that once in Najaf, the Imam would either be overshadowed by the prestigious ulama there, men such as Ayatullah Abu ‘l-Qasim Khu’i (d. 1995), or that he would challenge their distaste for political activism

p: 24

1- Tahrir al-Wasila, I, p. 486.

and squander his energies on confronting them.

He skirted this dual danger by proffering them his respect while continuing to pursue the goals he had set himself before leaving Iran. Another pitfall he avoided was association with the Iraqi government, which occasionally had its own differences with the Shah’s regime and was of a mind to use the Imam’s presence in Najaf for its own purposes. The Imam declined the opportunity to be interviewed on Iraqi television soon after his arrival, and resolutely kept his distance from succeeding Iraqi administrations.

Once settled in Najaf, Imam Khumayni began teaching fiqh at the Shaykh Murtaza Ansari madrasa. His lectures were well attended, by students not only from Iran but also from Iraq, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf states. In fact, a mass migration to Najaf from Qum and other centers of religious learning in Iran was proposed to the Imam, but he advised against it as a measure bound to depopulate Qum and weaken it as a center of religious guidance.

It was also at the Shaykh Murtaza Ansari madrasa that he delivered, between January 21 and February 8, 1970, his celebrated lectures on Wilayat al-faqih, the theory of governance that was to be implemented after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution. (The text of these lectures was published in Najaf, not long after their delivery, under the title Wilayat al-faqih ya Hukumat-i Islami; a slightly abbreviated Arabic translation soon followed). This theory, which may be summarized as the assumption by suitably

p: 25

qualified ulama of the political and juridical functions of the Twelfth Imam during his occultation, had already been put forward, somewhat tentatively, in his first published work, Kashf al-Asrar.

Now he presented it as the self-evident and incontestable consequence of the Shi’i doctrine of the Imamate, citing and analyzing in support of it all relevant texts from the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet (S)(1) and the Twelve Imams (A)(2) He emphasized also the harm that had come to Iran (as well as other Muslim countries) from abandoning Islamic law and government and relinquishing the political realm to the enemies of Islam. Finally, he delineated a program for the establishment of an Islamic government, laying particular stress on the responsibilities of the ulama to transcend their petty concerns and to address the people fearlessly: “It is the duty of all of us to overthrow the taghut, the illegitimate political powers that now rule the entire Islamic world.”(3)

The text of the lectures on Wilayat al-faqih was smuggled back to Iran by visitors who came to see the Imam in Najaf, as well as by ordinary Iranians who came on pilgrimage to the shrine of Hazrat ‘Ali (A) The same channels were used to convey to Iran the numerous letters and proclamations in which the Imam commented on the events that took place in his homeland during the long years of exile. The first such document, a letter to the Iranian ulama assuring them of the ultimate downfall of the Shah’s

p: 26

1- For maintaining readability, (S) which is an acronym for “Salla (a)llahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam” is used throughout the book to denote “May peace and benedictions of God be upon him and his family.” It is used for Prophet Muhammad.
2- For maintaining readability, (A) which is an acronym for “Alayhi (alayhim) al-salaam” is used throughout the book to denote “May peace of God be upon him/her/them.” It is used for the Prophets, Imams, and saints.
3- Wilayat al-faqih, Najaf, n.d., p. 204.

regime, is dated April 16, 1967. On the same day he also wrote to prime minister Amir ‘Abbas Huvayda accusing him of running “a regime of terror and thievery.”(1)

On the occasion of the Six Day War in June 1967, the Imam issued a declaration forbidding any type of dealing with Israel as well as the consumption of Israeli goods. This declaration was widely and openly publicized in Iran, which led to the ransacking of Imam Khumayni’s house in Qum and the arrest of Hajj Sayyid Ahmad Khumayni, his second son, who had been living there. (Some of the unpublished works of the Imam were lost or destroyed on this occasion).

It was also at this time that the Shah’s regime contemplated moving the Imam from Iraq to India; a location from which communications with Iran would have been far more difficult, but the plan was thwarted. Other developments on which the Imam commented from Najaf were the extravagant celebrations of 2500 years of Iranian monarchy in October 1971 (“it is the duty of the Iranian people to refrain from participation in this illegitimate festival”); the formal establishment of a one-party system in Iran in February 1975 (the Imam prohibited membership in the party, the Hizb-i Rastakhiz, in a fatwa issued the following month); and the substitution, in the same month, of the imperial (shahanshahi) calendar for the solar Hijri calendar that had been official in Iran until that time. Some developments were met with fatwas rather than proclamations: for

p: 27

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, I, pp. 129, 132.

example, the Imam rejected as incompatible with Islam the Family Protection Law of 1967 and classified as adulteresses women who remarried after obtaining a divorce under its provisions.(1)

Imam Khumayni had also to deal with changing circumstances in Iraq. The Ba’th Party, fundamentally hostile to religion, had come to power in July 1967 and soon began exerting pressure on the scholars of Najaf, both Iraqi and Iranian. In 1971, as Iraq and Iran entered a state of sporadic and undeclared war with each other, the Iraqi regime began expelling from its territory Iranians whose forebears had in some cases been residing there for generations. The Imam, who until that point had scrupulously kept his distance from Iraqi officialdom, now addressed himself directly to the Iraqi leadership condemning its actions.

Imam Khumayni was, in fact, constantly, and acutely aware of the connections between Iranian affairs and those of the Muslim world in general and the Arab lands in particular. This awareness led him to issue from Najaf a proclamation to the Muslims of the world on the occasion of the hajj in 1971, and to comment, with special frequency and emphasis, on the problems posed by Israel for the Muslim world. The Imam’s strong concern for the Palestine question led him to issue a fatwa on August 27, 1968 authorizing the use of religious monies (vujuh-i shar’i) to support the nascent activities of al-Asifa, the armed wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization; this was confirmed by a similar and more detailed ruling issued

p: 28

1- Imam Khomeini, Risala-yi Ahkam, p. 328.

after a meeting with the Baghdad representative of the PLO.(1)

The distribution in Iran, on however limited a scale, of the proclamations and fatwas of Imam Khumayni was in itself enough to ensure that his name not be forgotten during the years of exile. Equally important, the movement of Islamic opposition to the Shah’s regime that had been inaugurated by the uprising of 15 Khurdad continued to develop despite the brutality unhesitatingly dispensed by the Shah.

Numerous groups and individuals explicitly owed their allegiance to the Imam. Soon after his exiling there came into being an organization called Hay’atha-yi Mu’talifa-yi Islami (the Allied Islamic Associations), headquartered in Tehran but with branches throughout Iran. Active in it were many who had been students of the Imam in Qum and who came to assume important responsibilities after the revolution, men such as Hashimi-Rafsanjani and Javad Bahunar. In January 1965, four members of the organization assassinated Hasan ‘Ali Mansur, the prime minister who had been responsible for the exiling of the Imam.

There were no individuals designated, even clandestinely, as Imam Khumayni’s authorized representatives in Iran while he was in exile.

However, senior ulama such as Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahhari, Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Bihishti (d. 1981), and Ayatullah Husayn ‘Ali Muntaziri, were in contact with him, directly and indirectly, and were known to speak on his behalf in important matters. Like their younger counterparts in the Hay’atha-yi Mu’talafa-yi Islami, all three went on to perform important functions during and after the revolution.

The continued growth of

p: 29

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, I, pp. 144-5.

the Islamic movement during Imam Khumayni’s exile should not be attributed exclusively to his abiding influence or to the activity of ulama associated with him. Important, too, were the lectures and books of ‘Ali Shari’ati (d. 1977), a university-educated intellectual whose understanding and presentation of Islam were influenced by Western ideologies, including Marxism, to a degree that many ulama regarded as dangerously syncretistic. When the Imam was asked to comment on the theories of Shari’ati, both by those who supported them and by those who opposed them, he discreetly refrained from doing so, in order not to create a division within the Islamic movement that would have benefited the Shah’s regime.

The most visible sign of the persisting popularity of Imam Khumayni in the pre-revolutionary years, above all at the heart of the religious institution in Qum, came in June 1975 on the anniversary of the uprising of 15 Khurdad. Students at the Fayziya madrasa began holding a demonstration within the confines of the building, and a sympathetic crowd assembled outside. Both gatherings continued for three days until they were attacked on the ground by commandos and from the air by a military helicopter, with numerous deaths resulting.

The Imam reacted with a message in which he declared the events in Qum and similar disturbances elsewhere to be a sign of hope that “freedom and liberation from the bonds of imperialism” were at hand.(1) The beginning of the revolution came indeed some two and a half years later.

The Islamic Revolution, 1978-79

The chain of events

p: 30

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, I, p. 215.

that ended in February 1979 with the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime and the foundation of the Islamic Republic began with the death in Najaf on October 23, 1977 of Hajj Sayyid Mustafa Khumayni, unexpectedly and under mysterious circumstances. This death was widely attributed to the Iranian security police, SAVAK, and protest meetings took place in Qum, Tehran, Yazd, Mashhad, Shiraz, and Tabriz. Imam Khumayni himself, with the equanimity he customarily displayed in the face of personal loss, described the death of his son as one of the “hidden favors” (altaf-i khafiya) of God, and advised the Muslims of Iran to show fortitude and hope.(1)

The esteem in which Imam Khumayni was held and the reckless determination of the Shah’s regime to undermine that esteem were demonstrated once again on January 7, 1978 when an article appeared in the semi-official newspaper Ittila’at attacking him in scurrilous terms as a traitor working together with foreign enemies of the country. The next day a furious mass protest took place in Qum; it was suppressed by the security forces with heavy loss of life. This was the first in a series of popular confrontations that, gathering momentum throughout 1978, soon turned into a vast revolutionary movement, demanding the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime and the installation of an Islamic government.

The martyrs of Qum were commemorated forty days later with demonstrations and shop closures in every major city of Iran. Particularly grave were the disturbances in Tabriz, which ended only after more than 100 people

p: 31

1- Shahidi digar az ruhaniyat, Najaf, n.d., p. 27.

had been killed by the Shah’s troops. On March 29, the fortieth day after the killings in Tabriz was marked by a further round of demonstrations, in some fifty-five Iranian cities; this time the heaviest casualties occurred in Yazd, where security forces opened fire on a gathering in the main mosque. In early May, it was Tehran itself that saw the principal violence; armored columns appeared on the streets for the first time since June 1963 in order to contain the trend to revolution.

In June, the Shah found it politic to make a number of superficial concessions - such as the repeal of the “imperial calendar” -to the forces opposing him, but repression also continued. When the government lost control of Isfahan on August 17, the army assaulted the city and killed hundreds of unarmed demonstrators. Two days later, 410 people were burned to death behind the locked doors of a cinema in Abadan, and the government was plausibly held responsible.

On ‘Id al-fitr, which that year fell on September 4, marches took place in all major cities, with an estimated total of four million participants. The demand was loudly voiced for the abolition of monarchy and the foundation of an Islamic government under the leadership of Imam Khumayni. Faced with the mounting tide of revolution, the Shah decreed martial law and forbade further demonstrations.

On September 9, a crowd gathered at the Maydan-i Zhala (subsequently renamed Maydan-i Shuhada’) in Tehran was attacked by troops that had blocked all exits

p: 32

from the square, and some 2000 people were killed at this location alone. Another 2000 were killed elsewhere in Tehran by American-supplied military helicopters hovering overhead. This day of massacre, which came to be known as Black Friday, marked the point of no return. Too much blood had been spilt for the Shah to have any hope of survival, and the army itself began to tire of the task of slaughter.

As these events were unfolding in Iran, Imam Khumayni delivered a whole series of messages and speeches, which reached his homeland not only in printed form but also increasingly on tape cassettes. His voice could be heard congratulating the people for their sacrifices, denouncing the Shah in categorical fashion as a criminal, and underlining the responsibility of the United States for the killings and the repression. (Ironically, US President Carter had visited Tehran on New Year’s Eve 1977 and lauded the Shah for creating “an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.”(1)

As the façade of stability dissolved, the United States continued its military and political support of the Shah uninterrupted by anything but the most superficial hesitation). Most importantly, the Imam recognized that a unique juncture had been reached in Iranian history, that a genuinely revolutionary momentum had come into being which if dissipated would be impossible to rebuild. He therefore warned against any tendency to compromise or to be deceived by the sporadic conciliatory gestures of the Shah.

Thus on the occasion of

p: 33

1- New York Times, January 2, 1978.

‘Id al-Fitr, when mass demonstrations had passed off with deceptive peacefulness in Tehran, he issued the following declaration: “Noble people of Iran! Press forward with your movement and do not slacken for a minute, as I know full well you will not! Let no one imagine that after the blessed month of Ramadan his God-given duties have changed. These demonstrations that break down tyranny and advance the goals of Islam are a form of worship that is not confined to certain months or days, for the aim is to save the nation, to enact Islamic justice, and to establish a form of divine government based on justice.”(1)

In one of the numerous miscalculations that marked his attempts to destroy the revolution, the Shah decided to seek the deportation of Imam Khumayni from Iraq, on the assumption, no doubt, that once removed from the prestigious location of Najaf and its proximity to Iran, his voice would somehow be silenced. The agreement of the Iraqi government was obtained at a meeting between the Iraqi and Iranian foreign ministers in New York, and on September 24, 1978, the Imam’s house in Najaf was surrounded by troops. He was informed that his continued residence in Iraq was contingent on his abandoning political activity, a condition he was sure to reject.

On October 3, he left Iraq for Kuwait, but was refused entry at the border. After a period of hesitation in which Algeria, Lebanon and Syria were considered as possible destinations, Imam Khumayni embarked for

p: 34

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, I, p. 97.

Paris, on the advice of his second son, Hajj Sayyid Ahmad Khumayni, who by now had joined him. Once arrived in Paris, the Imam took up residence in the suburb

of Neauphle-le-Chateau in a house that had been rented for him by Iranian exiles in France.

Residence in a non-Muslim land was no doubt experienced by Imam Khumayni as irksome, and in the declaration he issued from Neauphle-le-Chateau on October 11, 1978, the fortieth day after the massacres of Black Friday, he announced his intention of moving to any Muslim country that assured him freedom of speech.(1) No such assurance ever materialized.

In addition, his forced removal from Najaf increased popular anger in Iran still further. It was, however, the Shah’s regime that turned out to be the ultimate loser from this move. Telephonic communications with Tehran were far easier from Paris than they had been from Najaf, thanks to the Shah’s determination to link Iran with the West in every possible way, and the messages and instructions the Imam issued flowed forth uninterrupted from the modest command center he established in a small house opposite his residence. Moreover, a host of journalists from across the world now made their way to France, and the image and the words of the Imam soon became a daily feature in the world’s media.

In Iran meanwhile, the Shah was continuously reshaping his government. First he brought in as prime minister Sharif-Imami, an individual supposedly close to conservative elements among the ‘ulama. Then, on November 6,

p: 35

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, II, p. 143.

he formed a military government under General Ghulam-Riza Azhari, a move explicitly recommended by the United States. These political maneuverings had essentially no effect on the progress of the revolution.

On November 23, one week before the beginning of Muharram, the Imam issued a declaration in which he likened the month to “a divine sword in the hands of the soldiers of Islam, our great religious leaders, and respected preachers, and all the followers of Imam Husayn, Sayyid al-shuhada’.” They must, he continued, “make maximum use of it; trusting in the power of God, they must tear out the remaining roots of this tree of oppression and treachery.” As for the military government, it was contrary to the Shari’ah and opposition to it a religious duty.(1)

Vast demonstrations unfurled across Iran as soon as Muharram began. Thousands of people donned white shrouds as a token of readiness for martyrdom and were cut down as they defied the nightly curfew. On Muharram 9, a million people marched in Tehran demanding the overthrow of the monarchy, and the following day, ‘Ashura, more than two million demonstrators approved by acclamation a seventeen-point declaration of which the most important demand was the formation of an Islamic government headed by the Imam. Killings by the army continued, but military discipline began to crumble, and the revolution acquired an economic dimension with the proclamation of a national strike on December 18. With his regime crumbling, the Shah now attempted to co-opt secular, liberal-nationalist politicians in order to

p: 36

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, III, p. 225.

forestall the foundation of an Islamic government.

On January 3, 1979, Shahpur Bakhtiyar of the National Front (Jabha-yi Milli) was appointed prime minister to replace General Azhari, and plans were drawn up for the Shah to leave the country for what was advertised as a temporary absence. On January 12, the formation of a nine-member regency council was announced; headed by Jalal al-Din Tihrani, an individual proclaimed to have religious credentials, it was to represent the Shah’s authority in his absence. None of these maneuvers distracted the Imam from the goal now increasingly within reach. The very next day after the formation of the regency council, he proclaimed from Neauphle-le-Chateau the formation of the Council of the Islamic Revolution (Shaura-yi Inqilab-i Islami), a body entrusted with establishing a transitional government to replace the Bakhtiyar administration. On January 16, amid scenes of feverish popular rejoicing, the Shah left Iran for exile and death.

What remained now was to remove Bakhtiyar and prevent a military coup d’état enabling the Shah to return. The first of these aims came closer to realization when Sayyid Jalal al-Din Tihrani came to Paris in order to seek a compromise with Imam Khumayni. He refused to see him until he resigned from the regency council and pronounced it illegal. As for the military, the gap between senior generals, unconditionally loyal to the Shah, and the growing number of officers and recruits sympathetic to the revolution, was constantly growing. When the United States dispatched General Huyser, commander of NATO

p: 37

land forces in Europe, to investigate the possibility of a military coup, he was obliged to report that it was pointless even to consider such a step.

Conditions now seemed appropriate for Imam Khumayni to return to Iran and preside over the final stages of the revolution. After a series of delays, including the military occupation of Mehrabad airport from January 24 to 30, the Imam embarked on a chartered airliner of Air France on the evening of January 31 and arrived in Tehran the following morning. Amid unparalleled scenes of popular joy - it has been estimated that more than ten million people gathered in Tehran to welcome the Imam back to his homeland – he proceeded to the cemetery of Bihisht-i Zahra to the south of Tehran where the martyrs of the revolution lay buried.

There he decried the Bakhtiyar administration as the “last feeble gasp of the Shah’s regime” and declared his intention of appointing a government that would “punch Bakhtiyar’s government in the mouth.”(1) The appointment of the provisional Islamic government the Imam had promised came on February 5. Its leadership was entrusted to Mahdi Bazargan, an individual who had been active for many years in various Islamic organizations, most notably the Freedom Movement (Nahzat-i Azadi).

The decisive confrontation came less than a week later. Faced with the progressive disintegration of the armed forces and the desertion of many officers and men, together with their weapons, to the Revolutionary Committees that were springing up everywhere, Bakhtiyar decreed a

p: 38

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, IV, pp. 281-6.

curfew in Tehran to take effect at 4 p.m. on February 10. Imam Khumayni ordered that the curfew should be defied and warned that if elements in the army loyal to the Shah did not desist from killing the people, he would issue a formal fatwa for jihad.(1) The following day the Supreme Military Council withdrew its support from Bakhtiyar, and on February 12, 1979, all organs of the regime, political, administrative, and military, finally collapsed. The revolution had triumphed.

Clearly no revolution can be regarded as the work of a single man, nor can its causes be interpreted in purely ideological terms; economic and social developments had helped to prepare the ground for the revolutionary movement of 1978-79. There was also marginal involvement in the revolution, particularly during its final stages when its triumph seemed assured, by secular, liberal-nationalist, and leftist elements. But there can be no doubting the centrality of Imam Khumayni’s role and the integrally Islamic nature of the revolution he led.

Physically removed from his countrymen for fourteen years, he had an unfailing sense of the revolutionary potential that had surfaced and was able to mobilize the broad masses of the Iranian people for the attainment of what seemed to many inside the country (including his chosen premier, Bazargan) a distant and excessively ambitious goal. His role pertained, moreover, not merely to moral inspiration and symbolic leadership; he was also the operational leader of the revolution. Occasionally he accepted advice on details of strategy from persons in

p: 39

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, V, p. 75.

Iran, but he took all key decisions himself, silencing early on all advocates of compromise with the Shah. It was the mosques that were the organizational units of the revolution and mass prayers, demonstrations and martyrdom that were - until the very last stage - its principal weapons.

1979-89: First Decade of the Islamic Republic, Last Decade of the Imam’s Life

Imam Khumayni’s role was also central in shaping the new political order that emerged from the revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran. At first it appeared that he might exercise his directive role from Qum, for he moved there from Tehran on February 29, causing Qum to become in effect a second capital of Iran. On March 30 and 31, a nationwide referendum resulted in a massive vote in favor of the establishment of an Islamic Republic.

The Imam proclaimed the next day, April 1, 1979, as the “first day of God’s government.”(1) The institutionalization of the new order continued with the election, on August 3, of an Assembly of Experts (Majlis-i Khubragan), entrusted with the task of reviewing a draft constitution that had been put forward on June 18; fifty-five of the seventy-three persons elected were religious scholars.

It was not however to be expected that a smooth transition from the old regime would prove possible. The powers and duties of the Council of the Islamic Revolutionary, which was intended to serve as an interim legislature, were not clearly delineated from those of the provisional government headed by Bazargan.

More importantly, significant differences of outlook and approach separated the two bodies from each

p: 40

1- Sahifa-yi Nur, V, p. 233.

other. The council, composed predominantly of ulama, favored immediate and radical change and sought to strengthen the revolutionary organs that had come into being - the revolutionary committees, the revolutionary courts charged with punishing members of the former regime charged with serious crimes, and the Corps of Guards of the Islamic Revolution (Sipah-i Pasdaran-i Inqilab-i Islami), established on May 5, 1979. The government, headed by Bazargan and comprising mainly liberal technocrats of Islamic orientation, sought as swift a normalization of the situation as possible and the gradual phasing out of the revolutionary institutions.

Although Imam Khumayni encouraged members of the two bodies to cooperate and refrained, on most occasions, from arbitrating their differences, his sympathies were clearly with the Council of the Islamic Revolution. On July 1, Bazargan offered the Imam his resignation. It was refused, and four members of the council l- Rafsanjani, Bahunar, Mahdavi-Kani, and Ayatullah Sayyid ‘Ali Khamna’i - joined Bazargan’s cabinet in an effort to improve the coordination of the two bodies. In addition to these frictions at the governmental level, a further element of instability was provided by the terrorist activities of shadowy groups that were determined to rob the nascent Islamic republic of some of its most capable personalities.

Thus on May 1, 1979, Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahhari, a leading member of the Council of the Islamic Revolution and a former pupil close to the Imam’s heart, was assassinated in Tehran. For once, the Imam wept in an open display of grief.

The final break between Bazargan

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and the revolution came as a consequence of the occupation of the United States embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 by a coalition of students from the universities of Tehran. Despite declarations of willingness to “honor the will of the Iranian people” and its recognition of the Islamic Republic, the American government had admitted the Shah to the United States on October 22, 1979.

The pretext was his need for medical treatment, but it was widely feared in Iran that his arrival in America, where large numbers of high-ranking officials of the previous regime had gathered, might be the prelude to an American-sponsored attempt to restore him to power, on the lines of the successful CIA coup of August 1953. The Shah’s extradition to Iran was therefore demanded by the students occupying the embassy as a condition for their liberating the hostages they were holding there.

It is probable that the students had cleared their action in advance with close associates of Imam Khumayni, for he swiftly extended his protection to them, proclaiming their action “a greater revolution than the first.”(1) Two days later, he predicted that confronted by this “second revolution,” America would be “unable to do a damned thing (Amrika hich ghalati namitavanad bukunad).”(2)

This prediction seemed extravagant to many in Iran, but a military expedition mounted by the United States on April 22, 1980 to rescue the American hostages and possibly, too, to attack sensitive sites in Tehran, came to an abrupt and humiliating end when the American

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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, X, p. 141.
2- Sahifa-yi Nur, X, p. 149.

gunship crashed into each other in a sandstorm near Tabas in southeastern Iran. On April 7, the United States had formally broken diplomatic ties with Iran, a move welcomed by Imam Khumayni as an occasion of rejoicing for the Iranian nation.(1) It was not until January 21, 1981 that the American hostages were finally released.

Two days after the occupation of the US embassy, Bazargan once again offered his resignation, and this time it was accepted. In addition, the provisional government was dissolved, and the Council of the Islamic Revolution temporarily assumed the task of running the country. This marked the definitive departure of Bazargan and like-minded individuals from the scene; henceforth the term “liberal” became a pejorative designation for those who questioned the fundamental tendencies of the revolution.

In addition, the students occupying the embassy had access to extensive files the Americans had kept on various Iranian personalities who had frequented the embassy over the years; these documents were now published and discredited the personalities involved. Most importantly, the occupation of the embassy constituted a “second revolution” in that Iran now offered a unique example of defiance of the American superpower and became established for American policymakers as their principal adversary in the Middle East.

The enthusiasm aroused by the occupation of the embassy also helped to ensure a large turnout for the referendum that was held on December 2 and 3, 1979 to ratify the constitution that had been approved by the Assembly of Experts on November 15. The constitution,

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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, XII, p. 40.

which was overwhelmingly approved, differed greatly from the original draft, above all through its inclusion of the principle of Wilayat al-faqih as its basic and determining principle. Mentioned briefly in the preamble, it was spelled out in full in Article Five:

“During the Occultation of the Lord of the Age (Sahib al-Zaman; i.e., the Twelfth Imam)… the governance and leadership of the nation devolve upon the just and pious faqih who is acquainted with the circumstances of his age; courageous, resourceful, and possessed of administrative ability; and recognized and accepted as leader (rahbar) by the majority of the people. In the event that no faqih should be so recognized by the majority, the leader, or leadership council, composed of fuqaha’ possessing the aforementioned qualifications, will assume these responsibilities.”

Article 109 specified the qualifications and attributes of the leader as “suitability with respect to learning and piety, as required for the functions of mufti and marja’.” Article 110 listed his powers, which include supreme command of the armed forces, appointment of the head of the judiciary, signing the decree formalizing the election of the president of the republic, and – under certain conditions - dismissing him.(1)

These articles formed the constitutional basis for Imam Khumayni’s leadership role. In addition, from July 1979 onwards, he had been appointing Imam Jum’a’s for every major city, who not only delivered the Friday sermon but also acted as his personal representatives. Most government institutions also had a representative of the Imam assigned to them. However, the ultimate

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1- Qanun-i Asasi-yi Jumhuri-yi Islami-yi Iran, Tehran, 1370 Sh./1991, pp. 23-24, 53-58.

source of his influence was his vast moral and spiritual prestige, which led to him being designated primarily as Imam, in the sense of one dispensing comprehensive leadership to the community.(1)

On January 23, 1980, Imam Khumayni was brought from Qum to Tehran to receive treatment for a heart ailment. After thirty-nine days in hospital, he took up residence in the north Tehran suburb of Darband, and on April 22 he moved into a modest house in Jamaran, another suburb to the north of the capital. A closely guarded compound grew up around the house, and it was there that he was destined to spend the rest of his life.

On January 25, during the Imam’s hospitalization, Abu’l-Hasan Bani Sadr, a French-educated economist, was elected first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His success had been made possible in part by the Imam’s decision that it was not opportune to have a religious scholar stand for election. This event, followed on March 14 by the first elections to the Majlis, might have counted as a further step to the institutionalization and stabilization of the political system.

However, Bani Sadr’s tenure, together with the tensions that soon arose between him and a majority of the deputies in the Majlis, occasioned a severe crisis that led ultimately to Bani Sadr’s dismissal. For the president, his inherent megalomania aggravated by his victory at the polls, was reluctant to concede supremacy to Imam Khumayni, and he therefore attempted to build up a personal following, consisting

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1- Suggestions that the use of this title assimilated him to the Twelve Imams of Shi’i belief and hence attributed infallibility to him are groundless.

largely of former leftists who owed their positions exclusively to him.

In this enterprise, he inevitably clashed with the newly formed Islamic Republic Party (Hizb-i Jumhuri-yi Islami), headed by Ayatullah Bihishti, which dominated the Majlis and was loyal to what was referred to as “the line of the Imam” (khatt-i Imam). As he had earlier done with the disputes between the provisional government and the Council of the Islamic Revolution, the Imam sought to reconcile the parties, and on September 11 1980 appealed to all branches of government and their members to set aside their differences.

While this new governmental crisis was brewing, on September 22, 1980, Iraq sent its forces across the Iranian border and launched a war of aggression that was to last for almost eight years. Iraq enjoyed financial support in this venture from the Arab states lining the Persian Gulf, above all from Saudi Arabia. Imam Khumayni, however, correctly regarded the United States as the principal instigator of the war from the outset, and American involvement became increasingly visible as the war wore on.

Although Iraq advanced territorial claims against Iran, the barely disguised purpose of the aggression was to take advantage of the dislocations caused in Iran by the revolution, particularly the weakening of the army through purges of disloyal officers, and to destroy the Islamic Republic. As he had done during the revolution, Imam Khumayni insisted on an uncompromising stance and inspired a steadfast resistance, which prevented the easy Iraqi victory many foreign observers had

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confidently foretold. Initially, however, Iraq enjoyed some success, capturing the port city of Khurramshahr and encircling Abadan.

The conduct of the war became one more issue at dispute between Bani Sadr and his opponents. Continuing his efforts at reconciling the factions, Imam Khumayni established a three-man commission to investigate the complaints each had against the other. The commission reported on June 1, 1981 that Bani Sadr was guilty of violating the constitution and contravening the Imam’s instructions. He was accordingly declared incompetent by the Majlis to function as president, and the next day, in accordance with Article 110 section (e) of the constitution, Imam Khumayni dismissed him. He went into hiding, and on July 28 fled to Paris, disguised as a woman.

Toward the end of his presidency, Bani Sadr had allied himself with the Sazman-i Mujahidin-i Khalq (Organization of People’s Strugglers; however, the group is commonly known in Iran as munafiqin, “hypocrites,” not mujahidin, because of its members’ hostility to the Islamic Republic). An organization with a tortuous ideological and political history, it had hoped, like Bani Sadr, to displace Imam Khumayni and capture power for itself. After Bani Sadr went into exile, members of the organization embarked on a campaign of assassinating government leaders in the hope that the Islamic Republic would collapse.

Even before Bani Sadr fled, a massive explosion had destroyed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, killing more than seventy people including Ayatullah Bihishti. On August 30, 1981, Muhammad ‘Ali Raja’i, Bani Sadr’s successor as president,

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was killed in another explosion. Other assassinations followed over the next two years, including five Imam Jum’a’s as well as a host of lesser figures.

Throughout these disasters, Imam Khumayni maintained his customary composure, declaring, for example, after the assassination of Raja’i that the killings would change nothing and in fact showed Iran to be “the most stable country in the world,” given the ability of the government to continue functioning in an orderly manner.(1) The fact that Iran was able to withstand such blows internally while continuing the war of defense against Iraq was indeed testimony to the roots the new order had struck and to the undiminished prestige of Imam Khumayni as the leader of the nation.

Ayatullah Khamna’i, a longtime associate and devotee of the Imam, was elected president on October 2, 1981, and he remained in this position until he succeeded him as leader of the Islamic Republic on his death in 1989. No governmental crises comparable to those of the first years of the Islamic Republic occurred during his tenure. Nonetheless, structural problems persisted. The constitution provided that legislation passed by the Majlis should be reviewed by a body of senior fuqaha’ known as the Council of Guardians (Shaura-yi Nagahban) to ensure its conformity with the provisions of Ja’fari fiqh.

This frequently led to a stalemate on a variety of important legislative issues. On at least two occasions, in October 1981 and January 1983, Hashimi- Rafsanjani, then chairman of the Majlis, requested the Imam to arbitrate

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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, XV, p. 130.

decisively, drawing on the prerogatives inherent in the doctrine of Wilayat al-faqih, in order to break the deadlock. He was reluctant to do so, always preferring that a consensus should emerge.

However, on January 6, 1988, in a letter addressed to Khamna’i, the Imam put forward a far-reaching definition of Wilayat al-faqih, now termed “absolute” (mutlaqa), which made it theoretically possible for the leadership to override all conceivable objections to the policies it supported. Governance, Imam Khumayni proclaimed, is the most important of all divine ordinances (ahkam-i ilahi) and it takes precedence over secondary divine ordinances (ahkam-i far’iya-yi ilahiya).

Not only does the Islamic state permissibly enforce a large number of laws not mentioned specifically in the sources of the shari’a, such as the prohibition of narcotics and the levying of customs dues; it can also suspend the performance of a fundamental religious duty, the hajj, when this is necessitated by the higher interest of the Muslims.(1)

At first sight, the theory of wilayat -i mutlaqa-yi faqih might appear to be a justification for unlimited individual rule by the leader (rahbar). One month later, however, Imam Khumayni delegated these broadly defined prerogatives to a commission named the Assembly for the Determination of the Interest of the Islamic Order (Majma’-i Tashkhis-i Maslahat-i Nizam-i Islami.) This standing body has the power to settle decisively all differences on legislation between the Majlis and the Council of Guardians.

The war against Iraq continued to preoccupy Iran until July 1988. Iran had come to define its

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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, XX, pp. 170-71.

war aims as not simply the liberation of all parts of its territory occupied by Iraq, but also the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Husayn. A number of military victories made this goal appear attainable. On November 29, 1981, Imam Khumayni congratulated his military commanders on successes achieved in Khuzestan, remarking that the Iraqis had been obliged to retreat before the faith of the Iranian troops and their eagerness for martyrdom.(1)

The following year, on May 24, Khurramshahr, which had been held by the Iraqis since shortly after the outbreak of war, was liberated, and only small pockets of Iranian territory remained in Iraqi hands. The Imam marked the occasion by condemning anew the Persian Gulf states that supported Saddam Husayn and describing the victory as a divine gift.(2) Iran failed, however, to follow up swiftly on its surprise victory and the momentum, which might have made possible the destruction of Saddam Husayn’s regime, was lost as the tide of war flowed back and forth. The United States was, in any event, determined to deny Iran a decisive victory and stepped up its intervention in the conflict in a variety of ways.

Finally, on July 2, 1988, the US navy stationed in the Persian Gulf shot down a civilian Iranian airliner, with the loss of 290 passengers. With the utmost reluctance, Imam Khumayni agreed to end the war on the terms specified in Resolution 598 of the United Nations Security Council, comparing his decision in a lengthy statement issued

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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, XV, p. 234.
2- Sahifa-yi Nur, XVI, pp. 154-5.

on July 20 to the drinking of poison.(1)

Any notion that the acceptance of a ceasefire with Iraq signaled a diminution in the Imam’s readiness to confront the enemies of Islam was dispelled when, on February 14, 1989, he issued a fatwa calling for the execution of Selman Rushdie, author of the obscene and blasphemous novel, The Satanic Verses, as well as those responsible for the publication and dissemination of the work.

The fatwa received a great deal of support in the Muslim world as the most authoritative articulation of popular outrage at Rushdie’s gross insult to Islam. Although its demand remained unfulfilled, it demonstrated plainly the consequences that would have to be faced by any aspiring imitator of Rushdie, and thus had an important deterrent effect. Generally overlooked at the time was the firm grounding of the Imam’s fatwa in the existing provisions of both Shi’i and Sunni jurisprudence; it was not therefore innovative. What lent the fatwa particular significance was rather its issuance by the Imam as a figure of great moral authority.

The Imam had also gained the attention of the outside world, albeit in a less spectacular way, on January 4, 1989, when he sent Mikhail Gorbachev, then general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, a letter in which he predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of communism: “Henceforth it will be necessary to look for communism in the museums of political history of the world.” He also warned Gorbachev and

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1- Sahifa-yi Nur, XXI, pp. 227-44.

the Russian people against replacing communism with Western-style materialism: “The basic problem of your country has nothing to do with ownership, the economy, or freedom; it is the lack of a true belief in God, the same problem that has drawn the West into a blind alley of triviality and purposelessness.”(1)

Internally, however, the most important development in the last year of Imam Khumayni’s life was, without doubt, his dismissal of Ayatullah Muntaziri from the position of successor to the leadership of the Islamic Republic. Once a student and close associate of the Imam, who had gone so far as to call him “the fruit of my life,” Muntaziri had had among his associates over the years persons executed for counterrevolutionary activity, including a son-in-law, Mahdi Hashimi, and made far-reaching criticisms of the Islamic Republic, particularly with regard to judicial matters.

On July 31, 1988, he wrote a letter to the Imam questioning what he regarded as unjustified executions of members of the Sazman-i Mujahidin-I Khalq held in Iranian prisons after the organization, from its base in Iraq, had made a large-scale incursion into Iranian territory in the closing stages of the Iran-Iraq war. Matters came to a head the following year, and on March 28, 1989, the Imam wrote to Muntaziri accepting his resignation from the succession, a resignation that under the circumstances he was compelled to offer.(2)

On June 3, 1989, after eleven days in hospital for an operation to stop internal bleeding, Imam Khumayni lapsed into a critical condition

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1- Ava-yi Tauhid, Tehran, 1367 Sh./1989, pp. 3-5.
2- Sahifa-yi Nur, XXI, p. 112.

and died. The outpouring of grief was massive and spontaneous, the exact counterpoint to the vast demonstrations of joy that had greeted his return to Iran a little over ten years earlier. Such was the press of mourners, estimated at some nine million that the body ultimately had to be transported by helicopter to its place of burial to the south of Tehran on the road leading to Qum. A still expanding complex of structures has grown up around the shrine of the Imam, making it likely that it will become the center of an entire new city devoted to ziyara and religious learning.

The testament of Imam Khumayni was published soon after his death. A lengthy document, it addresses itself principally to the various classes of Iranian society, urging them to do whatever is necessary for the preservation and strengthening of the Islamic Republic. Significantly, however, it begins with an extended meditation on the hadith-i thaqalayn: “I leave among you two great and precious things: the Book of God and my progeny; they will never be separated from each other until they meet me at the pool.” The Imam interprets the misfortunes that have befallen Muslims throughout history and more particularly in the present age as the result of efforts precisely to disengage the Qur’an from the progeny of the Prophet (S).

The legacy of Imam Khumayni was considerable. He had bequeathed to Iran not only a political system enshrining the principles both of religious leadership and of an elected legislature

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and head of the executive branch, but also a whole new ethos and self-image, a dignified stance of independence vis-à-vis the West are in the Muslim world. He was deeply imbued with the traditions and worldview of Shi’i Islam, but he viewed the revolution he had led and the republic he had founded as the nucleus for a worldwide awakening of all Muslims.

He had sought to attain this goal by, among other things, issuing proclamations to the hujjaj on a number of occasions, and alerting them to the dangers arising from American dominance of the Middle East, the tireless activity of Israel for subverting the Muslim world, and the subservience to America and Israel of numerous Middle Eastern governments. Unity between Shi’is and Sunnis was one of his lasting concerns; he was, indeed, the first Shi’i authority to declare unconditionally valid prayers performed by Shi’is behind a Sunni imam.(1)

It must finally be stressed that despite the amplitude of his political achievements, Imam Khumayni’s personality was essentially that of a gnostic for whom political activity was but the natural outgrowth of an intense inner life of devotion. The comprehensive vision of Islam that he both articulated and exemplified is, indeed, his most significant legacy



الحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ العَالَمِینَ وَالصَّلاةُ عَلَی مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ أَجْمَعِینَ وَلَعْنَةُ اللهِ عَلَی أَعْدَائِهِمْ إِلی یَوْمِ الدِّینِ.

Lord! Grant brightness of sincerity to the mirror of the heart, Cleanse the rust of hypocrisy from the tablet of the heart, and show the path of virtue and salvation to

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1- Istifta’at, I, p. 279.

the helpless wanderers in the mazes of the bewilderment and error and confusion. Endow us with the nobleness and generosity of character. Reveal to us your glory and splendor that you have reserved only for your chosen servants.

Expel the legions of Satan and ignorance from the realms of our heart; implant the divine hosts of knowledge and wisdom in their stead. Enrich our hearts with the profusion of your love and that of your Chosen in this transitory world, this ephemeral lodging place. And shower Your choicest blessing upon us at the time of death and thereafter. Extend to us your mercy, and grant us proximity to the Highest Good.

Purpose of Writing the Book

I, a humble servant of God, was contemplating for some time, to select forty hadith from among the ahadith of the members of the Household of the Prophet (S) from the authentic books of the sahabah, and scholars, and was trying to compile them with an appropriate explanation of each of them that can be applied to the general conditions of the people. I chose to write them in Persian, so that the Persian knowing people may also be benefited from them. God willing, this compilation would be an attempt to serve the command of the Prophet (S) who said:

مَنْ حَفِظَ عَلَی أُمَّتِی أَرْبَعِینَ حَدِیثاً یَنْتَفِعُونَ بِهَا بَعَثَهُ اللهُ یَوْمَ القِیَامَةِ فَقِیهاً عَالِماً.

From among my followers, one who shall preserve and protect my forty ahadith, so that my people may be benefited from them, God Almighty will treat

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him on the Day of Resurrection with great men of wisdom and learning (jurisprudence).

First Hadith: Jihad of The Self


عَنِ الشَّیْخِ ثِقَةِ الإِسْلامِ مُحَمَّدٍ بنِ یَعْقُوبَ الکُلَیْنِی، صَاحِبِ الکَافِی، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ عَنْ أَبِیهِ عَنِ النَّوْفَلِی عَنِ السُّکُونِیِّ عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ، عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ، أَنَّ النَّبِیَّ، صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ، بَعَثَ سَرِیَّةُ فَلَمَّا رَجَعُوا قَالَ: ‹‹مَرْحَباً بِقَوْمٍ قَضَوُا الجِهَادَ الأَصْغَرَ وَبَقِیَ عَلَیْهِمُ الجِهَادُ الأَکْبَرُ.›› فَقِیلَ یَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، مَا الجِهَادُ الأَکْبَرُ؟ قَالَ: ‹‹جِهَادُ النَّفْسِ.››

Verbal Translation

Al-Sukuni relates on the authority of Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Sadiq (A): Verily on seeing the returning armies from the battlefront, the Prophet (S) of God said, “Blessed are those who have performed the minor jihad, and have yet to perform the major one.” When asked, what is the major jihad? the Prophet replied, “the jihad of the self” (struggle against self).


السَّرِیَّةُ قِطْعَةٌ مِنَ الجَیْشِ. یُقَالُ: خَیْرُ السَّرَایَا أَرْبَعُمِائَةِ رَجُلٍ.

Sariyyah is the section (contingent) of a big army, and it has been said that four hundred is an optimum number for the best sariyyah. According to the wordings of the tradition this can be inferred that man is a marvel possessing two lives and two worlds within one existence. That is, apparent life or the outward world, which is this worldly existence, and is associated with his body, and the other is ‘inner life’, the inward world, associated with the hidden, invisible, higher other world, his soul in short, which belongs to the realms of invisible and celestial world, and consists of several levels and grades.

These levels are generally divided sometimes

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into seven sections and sometimes into four. They are sometimes divided into three, and sometimes into just two sections. For each one of them is specified host of guardians. The host related with the divine and intellectual powers attracts him towards the sublime, heavenly spheres, and summons him to the acts of virtue and goodness. The other host of guardians is the ignoble and satanic, which attracts man towards the baser realms of darkness and shame, and invites him to the acts of villainy and destruction.

There is always a state of conflict and strive between these two forces, and human existence serves as the battleground of these two bands. When the divine forces of good become successful, man emerges as a virtuous and blessed being, and attains the high station of angels, and is congregated under the category of prophets, saints and the pious.

When the satanic forces of darkness dominate, man becomes a rebellious and vicious being, and is flocked with the fiendish group of the infidels and cursed. Since this is not an occasion to discuss it here, I shall take up this issue of the crusade of the self whenever the self and causes of its deterioration and perfection would be discussed in the latter passages.

First Grade

This grade itself consists of different stages (fusul). You have to know that the lowest of them is the worldly and outward human existence comprising the initial stages of the self and its apparent manifestations. The divine spark is blended with

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the physical to form man’s earthly existence. It is here in this body that the armies of good and evil are stationed, and the visible potentialities of body function as warring forces. It has seven quarters. They are ears, eyes, tongue, stomach, private parts, and arms and legs. All these diffused faculties under the control of the self are employed by the self in seven spheres of life. The seat of imagination also is an important faculty, as the thought and imagination are sovereign over all visible and invisible human faculties.

If the faculty of thought resolves to employ all other faculties to move in the fiendish directions, all of them are converted into satanic forces and the whole territory (of existence) is turned into a satanic domain, and the forces of piety, rationality and good are weakened and subjugated by them. As a result they wind up their business and leave off the scene, vacating the empire for the possession of Satan. If the faith and reason take possession of the mind, and they command all human faculties to work in their own direction, man acts according to the dictates of reason and faith (shar’), thus making the empire (of his existence) a domain of divine and rational powers, and compel satanic forces to retreat with all its weaponry accepting defeat.

Thus the jihad of the self is the jihad of greater importance. This jihad is superior to being killed in the way of God, since this condition implies overpowering

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one’s own powers and faculties, and placing them under the yoke of God’s command, and purging the domain of our body of satanic elements and their forces.


The first and foremost condition for one’s strife with his own self, and hence his movement towards God essentially means introspection and self-reflection. Some of the moral philosophers have given it the fifth position in priorities, which is also correct. Here introspection is used in the sense of devoting some time, however insignificant it is, contemplating about our duties towards our Master and Creator, Who has brought us into this world, and Who has bestowed upon us all the means of pleasure and joys of life, Who has equipped us with a sound body and faultless faculties and senses, each of whom serves a specific purpose of its own, and whose functioning bewilders human intellect. In addition to all these endowments and graces, He has sent so many prophets and His Holy Book for our guidance and invited us to receive His blessings.

Whether all these things have been granted to us by the Master and Emperor of all kings merely to serve this animal existence and to satisfy our appetites and instincts, which we share with other animals, or whether there is some higher aim? Whether all the prophets of God, great sages, thinkers and scholars of every nation have invited the people to follow certain rational principles and Divine legislation, and asked the people to abstain from all animal tendencies and detach themselves

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from this mortal and perishable habitation were their enemies, or they had conceived an entirely different idea of salvation, which we ordinary human creatures, blindly obeying the dictates of lust, could not conceive?

If we reflect in a rational manner for a moment, we shall realize that the aim of imparting to us all these graces and endowments is something else, superior to and higher than what is visible. This world is a stage of action and its aim is a higher and more sublime sphere of existence. This lower and animal existence is not an end in itself. A rational man should think of his own self introspectively and should feel pity for his state of helplessness. With a sense of pity he should address his own self, saying, “O callous self! Thou has wasted precious years of thy short life in pursuance of hedonistic and sensuous propensities! And nothing is gained except regret and sense of loss.

Thou should be regretful before God for thy past deeds, and commence a new journey in the direction of His prescribed goal, the journey that leads to the life of eternity and perpetual bliss. Thou should not bargain short-lived transitory joys, which are hard to obtain for eternal bliss and felicity. Think for a while, O Callous self!

Thou should think over the conditions of the people from the dawn of civilization up to the present time that is witnessed by thee. See and balance their hardships and torments with the comforts

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and pleasures they could attain, and thou shall see their pains and sufferings always overwhelmed and cancelled their joys and pleasures. Joys and pleasures are not for everyone in this life. One who invites and induces thee to pursue the worldly joys and material gains, is evidently one of the satanic hosts in the human form, who undoubtedly is an emissary of the Satan. ‘He always induces other men to join him in his indulgence in sensualities, and declares his conviction in material life herewith.

At this juncture, O self, thou should pause for a moment, and think whether he is satisfied with his own condition, or whether all this points to one who himself is inflicted, and wants to taint others’ poor life with the same vice. O self, thou should entreatingly ask God’s approval of thine acts, and seek His pleasure. Pray to Him that thine acts be approved by Him. Between Him and thee there is always a spark of hope. This hope is realized in thy thinking with firm resolution to fight against the Satan and thine own baser self. This strife with the self leads thee to a higher stage, and try thy best to attain that through sincere struggle.”

Will And Resolution

The next stage, after the stage of contemplation and ponderance through which an individual striving to progress on the spiritual path has to pass, is the stage of resolution. (This is a different thing from volition, which al-Shaykh al-Ra’is Ibn Sina, in ‘al-‘Isharat’ alludes to as

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the initial stage of ‘irfan). Some of our revered scholars (may God grant them longevity) also state that resolution is the essence of humanity and criterion of human freedom.

The differences in human gradation are actually indicative of the discrepancy of the stages of human resolution. The resolution which is required for this particular stage is synonymous with laying the foundation of a good life, a resolution to purge life from sin, and to perform all obligatory (wajib) acts, and a resolution to compensate for the days lost (in sinfulness), and finally resolve to behave as a rational and religious person ought to.

That is, he should adopt a behavior that is in accordance with the codes of religious law, which would acknowledge him as a real human being, a rational man. His gait and manner should be an imitation and copy of the Prophet’s life. He must, in appearance, follow the Prophet (S) as a model in his manner and actions, in his abstinences and his choices. This is quite possible, since it is in the powers of ordinary servants of God seemingly to act in the way of that great leader of human beings.

You should know that no path for the realization of divine existence can be undertaken unless one familiarizes himself with the apparent or overt form of Shari’ah. Unless a person fully acquaints himself with the knowledge of the Shari’ah laws and follows them faithfully, the higher values of morality cannot be attained by him. Without

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adhering to the apparent teachings of Islam it is not possible that the light of the Divine Knowledge could descend upon his heart, and the wisdom of the invisible, and the mysteries of the holy law be revealed to him.

After attaining this stage, the truth unveiled for him and enlightenment bestowed upon his heart, a person would act with greater observance of the manifest forms of religion. This falsifies the claims of pseudo spiritualists, who say that the inner perfection can only be acquired by relinquishing outer accomplishments, or, that after acquiring inner excellences, necessity of observing outward forms does not remain obligatory. This is a mistaken conception born of ignorance about the stages of worship and the different grades of human progress. We shall deal with this subject in the latter chapters, may God grant it so.

Effort And Struggle (Spiritual)

Dear friend: try to be a man of strong will power and resolution, so that you may not go from this world as a person without resolution, and hence rise on the day of resurrection as a brainless-being, not in the form of human being. For the otherworld is the place where what is hidden is unveiled and secrets are exposed. One’s audacity to commit sin, converts him little by little into a man devoid of will power, and takes away the noble essence of humanity from him. Our respected teacher used to say that more than anything else, giving the ears to the sounds of music and songs, steal from men

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their will power and the power of resolution.

Hence, my brother, desist from transgression, resolve to return to God, and acquire a mien similar to that of true human being. Join the community of the men of religion and in seclusion pray to God, so that He may assist you in your mission, and pray that the Prophet (S) and the members of his Household (A) intercede for you. May God bestow His graces and favors upon you. May He escort you in the coming dangers, since the path of life is full of great risks and hazards. On the way of life there are very deep crevices and it is possible that one may stumble and fall in them in such a manner that none of his efforts could save him from the coming catastrophe. It is also probable that in some cases the interceding of an intercessor cannot save him either.

Self-Examination And Stipulation (Musharatah)

Self-conditioning, contemplation and self-examination are essential pre-requisites for a seeker (mujahid) of truth who is battling with his self. Self-conditioning or stipulation means binding oneself with the resolve not to do anything against God’s commands. This is called musharatah, such as ‘I will not violate the Law of God today.’ It is very easy to stick to such condition for one day. Try to resolve, abide by your own resolve, and experiment, and you will see that how easy this task is. Satan, the cursed creature, and his legions may magnify the volume of the task in your

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eyes, but these are the guiles played by the cheat. Curse, and drive the Devil and evil thoughts from within the depths of the heart and the domain of your mind. Experiment for one day and you will verify how easy this task is.

Guarding Against Evil (Muraqabah)

After stipulating about his acts, man should enter this stage. It is essential that throughout the period of stipulation the mujahid struggling against his own self should constantly concentrate upon his actions. If any time any idea of violating Divine commands occurs to him, he should know that this idea has been instilled into his mind by the Satan and his allies, who want to deter him from his good resolutions.

He ought to curse them, and seek God’s compassionate protection, and banish those villainous ideas from the realm of his heart, and tell the Satan that this day also he has to abide by the condition imposed upon his own self that he would not go against God’s commands, as He is the One Who has provided him with all the excellences and bounties. It is He, Who has given him the riches of health, security, and peace year after year in this world. In recognition of all God’s graces it is not sufficient even if he serves Him till eternity, let alone a trivial thing like this.

I hope, that Satan will be driven away, and the Divine forces will prevail. I assure you that this practice of self-criticism and self-examination would not hinder your

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day-to-day activity. I advise you to remain in the same state of mind till night-the time for introspection and inner deliberation-and evaluate your deeds of the whole day. This is the time to see whether you have been honest to the Giver of all, to whom everybody is accountable. If you have been faithful to Him, you should be thankful to Him, that He has made you successful in your intentions. And realize that you have gone a step forward in His direction and became an object of His attention. God willing, God will help you in performing all worldly and religious duties, and will diminish your pains for the next day. If you repeat this many times, it is imminent that you will be accustomed to the acts of piety. You will see then that all this does not require you to make hard efforts.

You will also notice that obedience to God gives ample pleasure. Though this world is not where one is immediately rewarded, yet faithfulness to God and abstaining from sins is fruitful in this world also. God never entrusts His creatures with cumbersome and heavy tasks, which are beyond their powers, but it is the Satan and his allies who magnify them in your view. God forbid, if there are any lapses on your part, ask God’s forgiveness, and beseechingly implore Him that you will be more careful in future, so that the Almighty may throw open the doors of His grace and compassion to

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you, and may guide you in the straight path.

Remembrance (Tadhakkur)

The factors, that fully assist man in his jihad with his self and the Satan, and to which a treader mujahid has to pay greater attention is constant remembrance of God. Though there are many other important stages, I will be content to discuss this stage here.

Remembrance Of God, Remembering The Graces Bestowed By Him

You know that thankfulness is natural and man’s nature commands man to be grateful to his benefactor. If one tries to read the book of his own heart, he will see that this law is written there. The sense of veneration and gratitude for the benefactors increases with the amount of benefaction, particularly if the benefactor’s generosity has no selfish motive. Greater the selfless generosity, greater is sense of gratitude. For example, compare the extent of veneration for one who presents you a horse with a selfish motive, with the respect you have for a person, who grants you a village of several hectares, without any inkling of selfish motives. If a doctor rescues you from the darkness of blindness, you naturally owe to him a lot of respect, and if someone saves you from the clutches of death, you owe him a lot more.

You yourselves reflect and estimate the seen and unseen favors bestowed on us by the Almighty, even a small fraction of which all men and the jinn cannot even provide us with. Take for instance the air we breathe day and night, upon which our existence as well as that of

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other living beings is dependent, nothing can remain alive even if it is taken off merely for a quarter of an hour. What a marvelous gift it is! If all men and the jinn of the world labor hard to contrive such a thing, they cannot do that. In the same way, try to recall other gifts of God also, like external bodily senses viz. sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, etc., and inner faculties like thinking, imagination and reason, etc., each one of which carries unlimited benefits and which are granted to us by Our Lord. Besides these valuable gifts, there are several other gifts also.

Moreover, He has sent His messengers and prophets and His Books as well to show us which path is right and which one is wrong, which path leads us to Heaven or Hell. He fulfills all our needs in this world and the Hereafter, without having any need of our adoration. Observance of His commands, or transgressing them does not make any difference to Him, it is for the sake of our own benefit that He has enjoined good and forbidden indecencies. While remembering all these and various other favors, whose reckoning is beyond the powers of human beings, do we not see that respecting and obeying such a Benefactor is essential for us, or does our reason approve of the acts of violating His commands?

This is an evident fact that we respect great people and those older in age. This is also

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true that people respect the wealthy and powerful persons, and rulers and kings, since they are recognized as great. Can their greatness be matched with the grandeur and magnificence of that King of kings, in Whose kingdom this world of us is merely a particle of dust. He is the Creator and King of this vast cosmos, whose infiniteness cannot be measured or even conceived by human intellect.

Human being, a creature crawling on one of the smallest planets miserably fails to grasp the extent of his own small world, whose sun cannot be compared with far greater suns of innumerable galaxies. Our solar system is nothing as compared to lesser several other solar systems, which still elude the keen eyes (and refined telescopes) of great explorers and investigators of the world. Is that Greatest of the great, who can know and cover not only minute details of these known worlds, but of many more unknown worlds, in a twinkling of an eye, is not venerable according to the dictates of reason, as well as in the light of the great book of nature?

If any one fails to do this, he ought to be extra watchful and careful, since God Almighty is present everywhere, and no odd corner of the world can delude his Omnipresent sight. Every living being is within the range of His view and all knowledge is in His infinite attendance, so never forget Him. A speck of penitence in one’s heart would not melt any

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person into water, and he would not fall to the ground. Therefore, my dear friend, remember God and remember all His favors and graces, and stop disobeying Him.

Overpower and subdue the satanic band in this great war, and convert the spheres of your mind into divine realm by driving out the satanic legions and inviting the divine hosts, so that God may succor and protect you in the dangers threatening to befall you in this battle. The battlefield, which is more immense than this one, is the scene of the battle (jihad) against thine own self, the invisible world of within and the second stage of this jihad. We shall deal with this subject afterwards. By the time, I remind you not to have any expectations from anyone but God. Except Him, the Almighty, nobody can help you. With all humility and with all the tears your eyes can offer (to wash your sins), pray to God and seek His assistance to emerge victorious in this crucial battle. wa innahu wali al-tawfiq

The Second Stage

The second stage also consists of several steps:

The human soul inhabits another realm and another territory also, which is the world of the hidden and the sphere of the sublime world. In that world, the role of the sensual forces assumes graver dimensions. This is the place, where the struggle and conflict between the divine forces and the fiendish ones is more severe and also more significant. Everything that exists in the external or visible world drifts to

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this hidden world, and is manifested there. Whichever of the forces whether godly or devilish, is victorious here is essentially triumphant there also.

So, the jihad al-nafs or the internal struggle is of great significance for all great religious thinkers, mystics, and moralists. It can be rather considered as the origin and the source of all felicities or woes, and of promotion and sublimation or debasement and degradation of self. One should be extremely self-conscious while undertaking this jihad. Because, it is possible that, God forbid, due to the defeat of heavenly forces, the self is left vacant for the unholy occupation of the vicious and unworthy satanic legions, and hence causing an eternal loss to the human being that cannot be retrieved.

Even the intercession of an intercessor cannot save him from becoming an object of the wrath and indignation of the Most Merciful of the merciful. It is also possible that man’s intercessor may become his adversary. It is a pity that such a thing should happen to anyone that one who pleads for him should become his opponent. God alone knows that what misfortunes, what perils and what hardships are to follow Divine wrath and antagonism of God’s friends, compared to which all the infernal fires, plagues, evils, serpents and scorpions are insignificant and mild. God forbid, whatever sufferings of hell have been described by saints, ascetics, and mystics, compared to them all the imaginable pains and sufferings of this world are very mild. All of the

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torments about which we have heard, are trifle and insignificant when compared to the miseries one has to undergo in the Hereafter. Heaven and hell whose account has been given in the Book and in the traditions of prophets of God are certainly the heaven and hell of wicked actions, and are prepared for rewarding or punishing good and bad human deeds.

There is a subtle allusion also to the heaven and hell of morality, which is more significant than even the Bihisht al-liqa, the heaven of beatific vision, and the Jahannam al-firaq, the hell of separation from Him. This is considered to be of great significance but is hidden from our eyes and is opened to them alone who deserve it. You and me who do not deserve it should not doubt it. We should have faith in it, since God and His friends have told us that this non-detailed (ijmali) faith also is beneficial for us. Sometimes, it is also possible that unbelief arising out of ignorance, and unreasonable rejection, without any knowledge and understanding of the truth may bring great harm to us, the extent of which is unthinkable. In this world we cannot understand those harms.

If you hear something, which has been, reported from any thinker, mystic or ascetic, do not refute it or consider it invalid just because it is not in accordance with your taste, or does not fit in your mode of thinking. This idea may have its origin in a higher

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source, inaccessible to you like the Qur’an, hadith, or reason. How strange it will be that a faqih issues a fatwa (a religious or legal opinion) regarding a certain ayah (a pecuniary compensation for any offence against a person) of which you are ignorant, and you reject it without checking the relevant evidences. Or, when a holy person or a mystic speaks something concerning religious learning, or he refers to the conditions of heaven or hell, it is easy for you to refute him or even dare to insult him. For it does not need much thinking or knowledge.

But do not forget that it is possible that the person, who is an authority on that subject and a master in that field, might have traced it back to the Holy Book, or has access to some traditions transmitted from infallible Imams (AS), and you may not have come across it. In that case, you would be guilty of rejecting God and His Prophet (S) without any plausible excuse. You have no justification to say later that your judgment was not correct, your knowledge was limited, or that you had heard a certain person speaking otherwise on the minbar (pulpit); such excuses are unfounded, and in any case let not your objective be blurred.

Whatever has been related about the paradise of good morals and deeds and about the inferno of bad morals and deeds refers to the states, which we cannot experience here. Thus, my friend ! take great care,

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search for remedy, and try to discover the ways and means of deliverance for yourself. Seek refuge in God, the Most Merciful, and Beneficent, and beseech His mercy with humble supplications and lamentation, so that He may help you in this holy war against your carnal self and you may be victorious and the domain of your heart may be liberated from evil influences.

The fiendish legions may be turned out of the place so that it may be given in the possession of its rightful Owner, and the felicities, honors and joys may be granted to you by God. All the praises that you have heard of the Heaven, its hours and its mansions, are nothing compared to Divine Bliss, nothing can be estimated higher. That domain is absolutely a divine sphere, which has been described by the friends of God from this rightly guided luminous ummah (millat al-bayda). This is a world of pleasures, which no ear has ever heard of, and no human heart has ever experienced.

Hidden Or Inner Powers (Quwwa al-Batini)

You should know that with His Wisdom and Authority, God Almighty has created certain powers and faculties in the invisible world of the inner self. They are of enormous benefits for us. Here we shall mention three of them: they are, al-quwwah al-wahmiyyah-the power of invention or imagination, al-quwwah al-ghadabiyyah-the power of passion or anger, and al-quwwah al-shahwiyyah-the power of lust or sensuality.

Each of these powers is of great benefit to the mankind, like the preservation of the human individual

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and species, advancement of human interests in this world as well as in the Hereafter, of which religious scholars have given elaborate accounts and I need not repeat them. What is essential to state here is that these three powers are the source and origin of all virtuous and vicious deeds, and the source of all invisible and sublime forms.

Briefly speaking, as man possesses a physical and a terrestrial form in this world, which is devised and contrived by the Almighty in such a wonderful manner that all great philosophers and scientists are puzzled, and the science of anatomy is not fully equipped to discover and understand its functioning rightly even to this day. God has made man superior to other living beings by endowing him a superb constitution and a beautiful appearance. Yet there is another form and a different face of him, which is heavenly and invisible, which is determined by the qualities of his soul and his inner nature.

In the Hereafter, whether it is in the Barzakh (an interval of time between the death of man and his resurrection) or whether on the Last Day, if one’s inner nature, his deeds, and his inner self are really human, his heavenly visage also will be man-like. But if his deeds are inhuman, he will not possess human form; it will be rather subject to the state of his inner self and his psyche. For instance, if his inner self is dominated by the power of lust

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or sensuality (al-quwwah al-shahwiyyah) and animality and brutality overwhelm and govern his inner self, his otherworldly visage will be of a brute and the reign of his inner world would be under the control of one of the beasts, corresponding to that quality of his soul.

If the power of passion or anger conquers one’s inner self and his psyche, his otherworldly appearance will resemble one of the bestial forms, corresponding to that attribute of his nature. And if the power of imagination and invention is governed by fiendish forces and his inner self is made vicious, governed by the vices like deceit, dishonesty, slandering, backbiting, which are the attributes of Satan, he may undergo a metamorphosis and assume one of the forms of Satan. Sometimes it is also possible that he would have an appearance that symbolizes two or several vices. In that case, a form which does not resemble any of the brutes, but an unusual and queer form, with which cannot be compared the most terrible and ugliest monster in the world, will be acquired by him.

It has been recorded from the Prophet (S) of God that some persons will be raised on the Last Day in such a mien that even monkeys and dog flies will appear better looking than that. It is also possible that several forms may be prescribed for one individual in that world. Because that world is not like this world, where one individual cannot acquire more than one form. This account

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itself is logical as well as self-evident. Because, the criterion of those different forms (of which human form is one) would be the state of soul at the time of death the state in which the soul departs from the body. It is in this very state and form that man’s soul enters the realm of Barzakh. At the time of entering the other world, that is, the domain of the Hereafter, the first stage of which is Barzakh, in whichever state one’s soul departs from the body, it assumes a form suited to it in the next world also.

It is the same form in which he is perceived by the inhabitants of Barzakh and by himself, when he first opens his eyes there, if he has not lost his sight to do so. Because, it is not necessary that man may enter the next world in the same physical state as he had in this world. God Himself says that on the Last Day some of the persons will ask God that why has He raised them as blind while they possessed eyes in the world. God will answer them that as they disregarded His clear signs in the world, they are forgotten and disregarded by God today.

O poor fellow! You had only external sight and were blind inwardly. You are realizing your blindness now, while you were already blind from the very beginning. You did not possess the inner vision, which could perceive His clear signs. You,

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the poor creature, who was endowed with a perfect earthly body and proportionate form, alas you did not know that the measures of the hidden and sublime world are different from this world. You should strive for inner uprightness, so that you may be upright on the Last Day. Your spirit should be a human spirit, so that your form in the Barzakh and the Hereafter may be a human form.

You are mistaken to consider the world of the hidden realities, where the secrets of this world are to be unveiled and your deeds are to be disclosed, as similar to this world of appearances, where one can deceive others and can create chaos, confusion, and misjudgment. Your eyes and ears, your hands and feet, and other parts of your body will bear witness against your deeds in this world with their supernatural tongues. Some of them may also appear in their celestial forms.

So, my friend, it is necessary to keep open the ears of your heart. Be brave, and have mercy on your own self, so that you may leave this world in a human form, and may be counted as redeemed and virtuous. Mind you, these words repeatedly occur in the speeches and teachings of great thinkers, in the inspirations of mystics and in the transmissions of the truthful and infallible servants of God.

How To Regulate Human Instincts

It is possible that wahm, the power of imagination and invention, ghadhab-the power of passion and anger, and shahwah-the power of lust or

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sensuality, also possess divine aspect, and may bring about felicity and good luck to man, if these powers are subjected to the dictates of reason and good sense and the teachings of prophets of God. They may become satanic forces if they are unleashed and the power of invention and imagination is allowed to rule and lead other two powers. It is not a secret that none of the prophets of God ever tried to eradicate the powers of passion, sensuality or imagination completely.

None of the messengers of God have ever demanded to completely kill sensuality and desire or to extinguish the fire of passion or anger and ignore the inventions of imagination. But they have rather advocated for controlling and bridling them and making them function under the command of reason and Divine Laws. For each one of these powers struggles to dominate others and win its goal, whatever mischief, chaos, and confusion may be stirred up.

For instance, the obstinate bestial self is determined to reach its goal even if it is resolved on committing adultery with married women in the Holy Ka’bah. Intractable power of passion arouses the self to win its objective even if it is contemplating to kill prophets and the friends of God. And the power of imagination, while devising satanic instruments, wants to go its own way, to cause corruption of the whole climate on earth, and to create chaos and disorder in the world.

The great prophets of God were sent to

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this world with the light of Divine Laws. God revealed to them heavenly books, so that they may prevent people from indulging into extravagances and immoderations, and bring the human self under the control of reason and the law of Shari’ah. To bridle the human self is essential so that it may not exceed the measures of reason and Shari’ah. Hence, every individual who subordinates himself to the Divine Laws and principles of good sense is fortunate, and it is he who attains salvation.

He finds refuge in God, the Most Exalted and the Most High, from the dangers and misfortunes, which might befall him, and thus is saved from the disgrace of assuming those beastly and hideous forms that may accompany him in the Barzakh, in the grave and on the Last Day, as the result of his vicious deeds and corrupt practices.

How To Bridle Fancy And Imagination

The first condition for a mujahid in his struggle that he has to observe and abide by, at this juncture and at all other stages, is to control the flight of one’s imagination, so that he can subjugate the Devil and his armies. Imagination is like a bird restless to fly, and sit on any tree it reaches. This flight may bring about many great misfortunes. Fancy is one of the tools of the Devil, with which he enslaves man and renders him helpless. With the help of fancy, he entices men to committing villainies and indecencies.

A mujahid who is determined on self-rectification, and who has made

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up his mind to purify his inner self and banish satanic forces from there, should firmly hold the bridle of his imagination and let not it soar and wander about wherever it likes. He should try to prevent his mind from nursing corrupt and sinful thoughts, and always divert it to high and noble ideals. In the beginning, it appears to be a little difficult, since Satan and his forces may glorify bad things in your eyes. But with little concentration and attention everything becomes easy.

It is possible that as an experiment you may just think for a while, and will not be able to concentrate upon an object. Whenever you see that your thoughts are stooping to lowly and mean things, turn your attention aside from them and think about the worthier and nobler things. If you have been successful in your attempts, thank God Almighty for His help, and pursue these matters further. May God, out of His mercy, open the path of spiritual progress for you, and may you be invisibly guided in the straight path. May human deeds and right conduct be made easy for you. Be careful that vicious thoughts and vain fancies are induced by Satan, who wishes to fortify its forces in the domain of your inner self.

You, who are at war with Satan and his legions, and want to make the realm of your inner self a heavenly domain, are expected to be on guard against the guiles of the

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cursed villain. You should drive away those thoughts that counter Divine command. God willing, you will be able to recapture this significant fortification from the unholy occupation of Satan and his allies, in this internal war. This fortification serves as a boundary (between good and evil). If you are victorious here you may hope for greater and nobler victories.

My dear friend, seek for God’s help at every moment. Pray and beg humbly in the court of your Lord.

O God Almighty! Satan is a great enemy, who has enticed your great friends and prophets. O God! help this weak and entrapped servant of yours, and guard him against these vain ideas and these infirm thoughts that inflict me, so that he may succeed in his war against this strong enemy, who is threatening to destroy my felicity and humanity. O God! please accompany Thy servant and guide him so that he may drive the Satan’s armies from Your seat, and may clip the hands of this usurper.

Estimation And Appraisal

The thing, which is to be strictly followed during this process, is the estimation and evaluation (of vices and virtues). An intelligent person should carefully examine the effects and demerits of each one of moral vices and bad deeds, which are the product of sensuality, passion and imagination, and are under the control of Satan. He has to compare them with the benefits and blessings of good deeds and moral and spiritual excellences, which are under the guidance of reason and religious law (Shari’ah) and

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then decide which way is better to act. For instance, the advantages of obeying the dictates of uninhibited sensuality that gets hold of the human soul and firmly takes its roots there, and gives rise to many vices to flourish, may be taken into consideration.

In the course of time the sensual aptitudes develop, and a person does not hesitate to commit any of the vices, and tries all means and ways to obtain the sensual pleasure at any cost, and does not fail to perpetrate any crime, which he desires to commit, even if it results in something extremely vicious. As a result of letting loose one’s passions several other vices are born and become his second nature. And he is more than ready to maltreat and subdue everyone who comes in his way. Those who react against oppressive activities and try to defend themselves, or show any signs of disagreement or hostility are crushed and oppressed by him.

He tries to repel all oppositions by all means, although it may lead to an outbreak of corruption in the world. In the same way, the person, who has surrendered himself to the demoniac power of imagination and lets it to be firmly rooted in his soul, does not hesitate to indulge in a fit of excessive passion and sensuality with all his satanic designs and treacheries and rule over the creatures of God by all kinds of unjust means, even if it is to dispossess a family of their belongings

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or stripping a city or a country of its resources.

These are the achievements of these faculties, while they are active under the ignoble supervision of Satan. If we think about it, and examine the plight of such people, we shall notice that every one of them, despite the enormous strength they possess, and most of their wishes being fulfilled, they still nurture thousands of new desires that are yet to be fulfilled. It is not possible in this world that all the desires and ambitions that we cherish be fulfilled here, since this world is the abode of obstacles.

The elements of this world dispirit our wishes. Our desires are also not limited. For instance, the power of sensuality and lust acts in man in such a way that if he is given one woman, he is attracted to other women. If he is given an empire, he will hanker after some other empire. Man always desires for what he does not possess. In spite of this vanity of imagination and futility of human desire, the kiln of sensuality is always hot, and its heat ever increasing, and our desires are never cooled down.

Similarly, the forces of passion are implanted in human nature in such a way that even if he is made an absolute monarch of a state, he will be attracted towards another state, which he cannot get, and he will try to pounce on it with all the force he can muster. This power is also

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ever increasing. Anyone who has any doubt is advised to examine his own self and other human beings belonging to the classes of poor, rich and powerful; he will agree with me. It is obvious that man is always allured by something, which he does not own. This is the human nature as conceived by various great Islamic thinkers and holy men, especially one should refer to a great master of divinity, Mirza Muhammad ‘Ali Shahabadi.

Anyhow, even if man attains his goals, for how long can he be benefited from them? How long his youthful years are to continue? When the spring of youth fades out and the autumn of his life sets in, his heart has no more a zest for mirth and joy, his organs lose their vitality and those activities lose their relish. His eyes dim, his hearing is impaired, his sense of touch and other senses and faculties weaken. Ability to get pleasure declines or is completely lost. Then hosts of ailments make him an easy prey. His digestive, assimilative and excretory system fails, and his respiratory system cannot perform it: function properly. Nothing but deep sighs, displeasure, regret and remorse are left to accompany him.

Thus, the duration of our exploitation of these bodily powers, from the days when one gains consciousness of good and bad till the process of decline sets in, is not more than thirty or forty years, even for a person of very strong constitution. That too, if one does not

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happen to come across all sorts of diseases and afflictions, which we witness every day and forget about. If, for the time being, we take it for granted (although it has no reality), that a man can attain the age of one hundred and fifty years, with all opportunities of involving oneself fully in all the three indulgences-sensuality, passion and imagination, excluding all the chances of coming across any adversities and misfortunes, even this period of time would prove short, and pass soon like the winds and what would be in store for you for the next world? What benefit will you derive from all these treasures of amusements for your eternal life? What will save you from the horrors of the day of doom, helplessness, desolation and loneliness? What will you present on the Day of Judgment, and how would you face God, His angels, and His chosen servants and prophets?

Of course, nothing will accompany you except your wicked and sinful deeds, which will metamorphose you in such a form that would not be known to anybody except God. Everything that you have heard and conceived about the infernal fire, torments of the grave and agonies of the Doomsday, etc., you measured them with the worldly fire and worldly pains. What a gross error you committed. Fire of this world is relatively an accident, and all the horrors are easy to bear. Your estimation of the other world on the basis of this one is imperfect and faulty.

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Even if the fire burning throughout the world is accumulated at one place, it will not be hot enough to burn the human soul. In the next world, besides burning and roasting the body it will burn the soul and incinerate the heart also. Whatever you have been listening about till now, is actually the hell of one’s actions, which you will see in the Hereafter as a reality, for God Almighty has said:

﴿وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِرًا.﴾

And they find all that they did confronting them. (18:49)

You will have to face whatever you did in this world. If you thrived on the property of orphans, God alone knows in what state you will appear in hell and what comforts you will have to enjoy there as your reward. If here your harsh words have injured the hearts of people, this pain and discomfort caused to the hearts of the creatures of God, God alone knows, what punishment it will incur upon you in the Hereafter. You will know it only when you experience it what sort of pain and torture you have procured for yourselves. Because of your detractions, the other worldly and sublime form that was conceived for you is denied to you and you will. have to undergo the pains of chastisement.

This will be the hell of one’s actions, which is comparatively milder, cooler and tolerable, and is reserved for those who committed sins in this world. But for those who have acquired the viciousness of character and villainy

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of conduct like, greed, lust, hoarding, avarice, contentiousness, love of wealth, power and corporeal things, rapacity, ravenousness and other vices, the hell is their place, a place beyond human apprehension, a state and form which can never be anticipated by any stretch of the imagination, and emanates from within the soul itself.

The inhabitants of that hell will be so distressed that they will try to escape from it, (but in vain). In some of the authentic narrations, it occurs that there is a valley in hell, which is reserved for the proud, and which is named as saqar once it complained to God about the intensity of its heat, and asked Almighty for a relief, so that it might take a breath. After the relief was granted, when it breathed, its breath filled the hell with fire.

Sometimes one’s vices may cause a human being to become a permanent dweller of hell. Because they take away from him his faith and belief. For instance, a vice like jealousy, according to authentic traditions, eats away faith as the fire consumes wood. Another example is that of the love of the world, worldly power and riches, which, according to authentic narrations, consume the faith of a believer more rapidly than two wolves let loose on a sheep herd without a shepherd, one attacking from the front and the other from the back.

Adoration for the worldly things and lust for power deprives a believer of his belief, and God forbid, this sinfulness results

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in dark and ugly deeds, which finally leads to the loss of faith and one’s end as an infidel, and the hell of the false beliefs and erroneous faith is severer, hotter and darker than those two other hells, mentioned above.

My friend, the higher knowledge has proved that the grades of intensity are infinite. The punishment is severer than what you imagine or what others imagine. If you do not believe in the arguments advanced by philosophers, or the revelations made to mystics, thanks to God, being a true believer, you have faith in the teachings of the prophets of God, and you consider all the reports recorded in the authentic books of the traditions which are accepted by all the Imamiyyah scholars as true and authentic. I hope that you believe in the prayers of infallible Imams, and have read the prayers and sermons uttered by Imam ‘Ali (A), and the invocation by Imam Sayyid al-Sajidin (A) uttered in the prayer of Abu Hamzah al-Thumali.

My friend, reflect a little upon their subject matter and think for a while on their wordings. It is nowhere required to make a rapid reading of the lengthy prayer in a hurry without pondering over its meaning. You and I are not blessed with the spiritual state of Imam Sayyid al-Sajidin (A) to recite that lengthy prayer in a state of sustained ecstasy at one time. Try to read one third or one fourth of it every night with feeling, and meditate upon

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its words. You may feel ecstatic while reading it. Apart from this, pay a little more attention to the meaning of Quranic verses, and see what punishment has been prescribed for the inhabitants of hell, to escape which they will pray to the Lord for death, and alas death also will not help, as God Almighty says:

﴿أَنْ تَقُولَ نَفْسٌ یَا حَسْرَتَا عَلَی مَا فَرَّطْتُ فِی جَنْبِ اللَّهِ وَإِنْ کُنْتُ لَمِنْ السَّاخِرِینَ.﴾

Alas, my grief that I was unmindful of Allah, and I was indeed among the scoffers! (39:56)

What kind of regret it will be, of which Almighty is making an emphatic mention. Do not pass quickly, without pausing and meditating upon such verses of the Qur’an:

﴿یَوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ کُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ وَتَضَعُ کُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا وَتَرَی النَّاسَ سُکَارَی وَمَا هُمْ بِسُکَارَی وَلَکِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِیدٌ.﴾

On the day when ye behold it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling and every pregnant will be delivered of her burden, and thou (Muhammad) will see mankind as drunken, yet they will not be drunken, but the Doom of Allah will be strong upon them. (22:2)

Here God Almighty is depicting the Doomsday. My friend, think yourself that, God forbid (na’udhu billah), the Quran is neither a story book, nor is it making jokes with you. What sort of condemnation it will be that will make people abandon their dear ones, and relieve pregnant women of their burden? What a great calamity it will be about which God Almighty, Whose greatness knows no extent,

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Whose supremacy and authority has no limits and bounds, is commenting upon in such solemn terms. What is going to happen God alone knows.

Our intellect is insufficient to measure the extent of its magnanimity. If we study the transmissions and writings of the infallible Members of the Holy Household, and think over them, we shall see that the sight of misery and agony in that world will be quite different from this world, and cannot be equated with the misfortunes of this world.

Here I would like to quote a tradition from the great Shaykh of the Imamiyyah, al-Saduq, for you to demonstrate the meaning and extent of the misery, mentioned above. Nevertheless, this tradition narrated by him refers to the hell of the evil deeds and is comparatively a cooler place than other severer hells. I consider it essential to point out that al-Shaykh al-Saduq is the person who is held in great esteem and respect by all great religious scholars of rijal. He was born as the result of the prayer of the Imam (A), and was the object of great favor of Imam Mahdi (AF), and was among great writers of Shiite religious books.

I quote this tradition with reference to a chain of great Imamiyyah scholars, all of whom are considered as authentic narrators of hadith. Hence, if you are a true believer, you should have faith in the following tradition. The gist of the hadith is as follows:

رَوَی الصَّدُوقُ بِإِسْنَادِهِ عَنْ مَوْلانَا الصَّادِقِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ،

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قَالَ: بَیْنَا رَسُولُ اللهِ، صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ، ذَاتَ یَوْمٍ قَاعِداً إِذْ أَتَاهُ جِبْرِیلُ، وَهُوَ کَئِیبٌ، حَزِینٌ، مُتَغَیِّرُ اللَّوْنِ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ، صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: یَا جِبْرِیلُ، مَا لِی أَرَاکَ کَئِیباً حَزِیناً؟ فَقَالَ: یَا مُحَمَّدُ، فَکَیْفَ لا أَکُونُ کَذَلِکَ وَإِنَّمَا وُضِعَتْ مَنَافِیخُ جَهَنَّمَ الیَوْمَ. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ: وَمَا مَنَافِیخُ جَهَنَّمَ یَا جِبْرِیلُ؟ فَقَالَ: إِنَّ اللهَ تَعَالَی أَمَرَ بِالنَّارِ فَأَوْقَدَ عَلَیْهَا أَلْفَ عَامٍ، حَتَّی احْمَرَّتْ. ثُمَّ أَمَرَ بِهَا فَأَوْقَدَ عَلَیْهَا أَلْفَ عَامٍ حَتَّی ابْیَضَّتْ. ثُمَّ أَمَرَ فَأَوْقَدَ عَلَیْهَا أَلْفَ عَامٍ حَتَّی اسْوَدَّتْ وَهِیَ سَوْدَاءُ مُظْلِمَةٌ، فَلَوْ أَنَّ حَلَقَةً مِنَ السَّلْسَلَةِ الَّتِی طُولُهَا سَبْعُونَ ذِرَاعاً وُضِعَتْ عَلَی الدُّنْیَا لَذَابَتِ الدُّنْیَا مِنْ حَرِّهَا. وَلَوْ أَنَّ قَطْرَةً مِنَ الزُّقُّومِ وَالضَّرِیعِ قَطَرَتْ فِی شَرَابِ أَهْلِ الدُّنْیَا لَمَاتَ أَهْلُ الدُّنْیَا مِنْ نَتَنِهَا. قَالَ: فَبَکَی رَسُولُ اللهِ، صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ، وَبَکَی جِبْرَئِیلُ، عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ، فَبَعَثَ اللهُ إِلَیْهِمَا مَلَکاً فَقَالَ: إِنَّ رَبَّکُمَا یُقْرِؤُکُمَا السَّلامَ وَیَقُولُ لَکُمَا إِنِّی قَدْ أَمِنْتُکُمَا مِنْ أَنْ تُذْنِبَا ذَنْباً أُعَذِّبُکُما عَلَیْهِ.

One day the Prophet (S) of God was seated when Gabriel came into his presence, with a sad face and changed complexion. The Prophet (S) asked as to why he was looking so sad and grieved. Gabriel answered, ‘O Muhammad (S), why should I be not grieved, while today I saw the bellows of hell being set in. The Prophet (S) asked him what the bellows of hell were. Gabriel told him that it referred to the hell-fire, which according to the Commandments of God Almighty was ablaze for one thousand years. After it became red hot He ordered it to

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burn for another one thousand years till it was white-hot. Then He commanded it to burn for one thousand years more till it turned black. Now that it was black and dark, if a slice of seventy cubits of it was to drop on this world, verily its heat would be sufficient to melt the whole world into fluid. If a single drop of its Zaqqum (an infernal tree, mentioned in the Quran proverbial for its extreme bitterness) and dari (something in hell more bitter than aloe, more fetid than carrion, and hotter than fire, which will be the food of the condemned) trickles down in the water reservoirs of the earth, everybody therein would die due to its stench. Thereupon the Prophet (S) wept and Gabriel also wept with him. On seeing this, God sent His angel, who came to them and said that God sent salaams to them along with the message that He exempted them both from the committing of sins and the consequent punishments.

My friend, there are a number of ahadith in this regard. Existence of hell and its horrible chastisements are among the essentials of all the religions of the world, which bring forward many arguments in favor of their necessity. And the great, mystics and saints have envisioned it even in this world. Try to imagine sincerely and contemplate the disheartening account of hell given in the tradition. If you consider it as probable only, even then should it not be sufficient to drive

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us to woods like the mad? What is the reason for our complacence and ignorance? Have the angels of God given us the tidings of being exempted from this punishment as they had given one to the Prophet (S) and Gabriel?

Whereas the Prophet (S) and the friends of God could not be oblivious of the fear of God till the ends of their lives. They could not eat and sleep properly because of that fear. Look at the life of Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (A), whose weeping and moanings, lamentations and supplications melted human hearts. What is wrong with us that we do not feel ashamed? Even in our supplications to God, we so much violate and insult Divine principles, that a thousand pities on our thoughtlessness! Have pity on yourself and the extremity of the pangs of death. Again a thousand pities on our condition in Barzakh, the agonies of the Hereafter, and the Doomsday and its darkness! How pitiable are we who have to face the horrors of hell and its chastisement!

How To Cure Moral Maladies

My friend! arise, awake from the slumber, be aware of your negligence and make an effort till there is time to repent. Consider this opportunity as valuable, until you are alive, your faculties and your powers are still under control, and you are young. Think about a cure before it is too late, and before moral maladies overpower your existence, and evils take deep roots in your existence and take you in the grips of their

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tentacles. Drive them away, find out a way of extinguishing the fire of your sensuality and passion.

The best remedy prescribed by mystics and moralists is to concentrate upon each one of the evil habits that you detect in yourself, and offer an effective resistance against them. Fight bravely against your carnal self. Act unceasingly all the time against those vicious yearnings. Pray Almighty to assist you in this battle. Undoubtedly after sometime hideous habits would leave you, and Satan and his legions would vacate the fortress, and the battalions of heavenly armies would be installed in their stead.

One of the moral maladies, which may destroy one, cause torment of the grave, and plague man in this world, is the maltreatment of the people of his household, his neighbors, his colleagues and others around him. It is the product of passion and sensuality. If the mujahid is determined on correcting himself, he can counter those impulses of indignation, resentment and vituperation with gentleness and kindness, remembering the Hereafter and the chastisements therein. He should curse the Devil in his heart and take refuge in God.

I give you word that if you behave persistently like this, after some time you will realize that your nature is totally transformed and good habits have taken the place of the bad ones. But if you behave according to the propensities of your nature, it is possible that they consume you in this world itself. I seek refuge in God from the anger, which when

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present in an individual destroys him in both the worlds. At the same time it kills his spirit also, because possibly one may use some indecent words against Divine principles in a fit of anger, as so many times we hear people uttering words of heresy and being guilty of apostasy thus.

Philosophers say that the chances of being saved in a ship without a captain from the stormy waves of ocean are brighter than those of a man being saved in an outburst of wild passion. God forbid, that we should ever belong to that category of people who become aggressive during academic discussions, as some of our students suffer from this intemperance. You have to resist against this bad tendency. Act against it, especially on the occasions of formal functions, which are attended by a great number of scholars and common men.

During the discussions, if you see that the other party is justified in its argument, you are expected to admit your fault and confirm what opponents say. God willing, these meannesses will be eliminated in a short time. God forbid, that the words of some scholars, who claimed to be divinely inspired and said that it was revealed that the quarrel among the inhabitants of hell, mentioned by God, is that of the scholars and transmitters of ahadith, should ever be true. Even if you do not believe in the authenticity of this tradition, even then you should carefully try to get rid of this habit. See

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the following account:

رُوِیَ عَنْ عِدَّةٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا أَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا: خَرَجَ عَلَیْنَا رَسُولُ اللهِ، صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ، یَوْماً وَنَحْنُ نَتَمَارَی فِی شَیْءٍ مِنْ أَمْرِ الدِّینِ فَغَضِبَ غَضَباً شَدِیداً وَقَالَ: إِنَّ المُمَارِی قَدْ تَمَّتْ خَسَارَتُهُ. ذَرُوا المِرَاءَ فَإنَّ المُمَارِی لا أَشْفَعُ لَهُ یَوْمَ القِیَامَةِ. ذَرُوا المِرَاءَ فَإنِّی زَعِیمٌ بِثَلاثِ أبْیَاتٍ فِی الجَنَّةِ؛ فِی رِیَاضِهَا وَأَوْسَطِهَا وَأَعْلاهَا، لِمَنْ تَرَکَ المِرَاءَ وَهُوَ صَادِقٌ. ذَرُوا المِرَاءَ، فَإِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا نَهَانِی عَنْهُ رَبِّی، بَعْدَ عِبَادَةِ الأَوْثَانِ، المِرَاءُ.

وَعَنْهُ، صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: مَِنْ لَقِیَ اللهَ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، بِهِنَّ دَخَلَ الجَنَّةَ فِی أَیِّ بَابٍ شَاءَ: مَنْ حَسُنَ خُلُقُهُ وَخَشِیَ اللهَ فِی المَغِیبِ وَالمَحْضَرِ وَتَرَکَ المِرَاءَ وَإِنْ کَانَ مُحِقّاً.

It is narrated from many companions of the Prophet (S) that once as the Prophet (S) came to them they were engaged in wrangling over a religious issue. The Prophet (S) of Islam was greatly displeased and was indignant to this extent that they had never seen him before in such an anger. The Prophet (S) told them it was because of this habit of wrangling that their precursors were destroyed, and he added that a true believer would never wrangle. The Prophet (S) asked them to stop wrangling and told them that he would not act as an intercessor to any wrangler. Wrangling occupies the second place after idolatry among the things forbidden by God Almighty.

The Prophet (S) is reported to have also said that unless a believer refrains from wrangling and altercation he cannot know the truth, in spite of his position being correct.

There are various traditions in

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this regard. How abominable it will be if we deprive ourselves of the intercession of the Prophet (S) for the sake of merely a trivial thing, which has no value, no merit whatsoever. Intellectual discussions, which would otherwise be the highest order of service and worship if undertaken with sincere motives, end in such a catastrophe and wipe out all his good deeds and acts of worship. In all circumstances, man should focus his attention on each of his vices individually, and eradicate them from the domain of his soul by restraining his carnal self. Once the trespasser is driven out, the rightful owner of the house can readily come to take possession.


Since the struggle of the self concludes here and man succeeds in driving off the legions of satanic armies from the empire of his soul, this land becomes the abode of angels of God and a place of worship of truthful servants of God. Thus, the task of pursuing the journey towards God becomes easier, and the road to humanism is illuminated.

The doors of blessings from heaven and their ascending steps are opened to him, and the doors of hell and the descending steps thereof are closed on him. God Almighty views him with mercy and benevolence and unites him with His faithful and His blessed servants. The path to divine knowledge, which is the ultimate purpose of creation of mankind and jinn, is opened to him. God Almighty guards him through this hazardous path.

I wished to

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refer to the third stage of self (nafs), wherein another struggle against the deceptions and temptations of Satan takes place. But, on later thought, this description seems to be out of place here, so I left it undiscussed.

Second Hadith: Ostentation (Riya’)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِی عُمَیْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِی المَغْرَا عَنْ یَزِیدَ بْنِ خَلِیفَةٍ قَالَ: قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: کُلُّ رِیَاءٍ شِرْکٌ. إِنَّهُ مَنْ عَمِلَ لِلنَّاسِ کَانَ ثَوَابُهُ عَلَی النَّاسِ، وَمَنْ عَمِلَ للهِ کَانَ ثَوابُهُ عَلَی اللهِ.

(On the authority of the above-mentioned narrators), Yazid ibn Khalifah reports from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said, “Riya in any of its forms amounts to shirk, (polytheism); verily, one who works for the people, his reward lies with them, and one who works for God his reward lies with God.”(1)

Riya’ means to falsely make oneself appear to be virtuous, good natured or a true believer in God before the people for the sake of earning their respect and admiration, or with the purpose of gaining good reputation among them. The hypocrite feigns integrity, uprightness, virtue, honesty And piety without an authentic intention of acquiring these traits for the sake of God. It has several grades and degrees.

The first stage is comprised of two steps:

1. At the first step an individual makes a display of his religious beliefs, and shows off his knowledge of the religious teachings in order to project himself as an honest person in the eyes of people to gain their confidence

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 402.

and respect. Such a kind of person tries to make a display of his trust in God and His Power, saying that he does not believe in any being except Him. He also tries to present himself as a staunch believer through various means, especially by declaring that he depends on none but God. Or such a person, with his gestures and utterances, poses himself to be a staunch follower of the true faith, and this is a more common kind of riya’ than the first one. For instance, when the trust in God or submission to His Will is discussed, he wags his head in affirmation with a sigh, and thus deceives people giving an impression that he is one of the true believers.

2. The second step on the path of riya’ is represented by those who eradicate false belief from their hearts and, through such purification, want to attain power and respect among people; they sometimes articulate their belief overtly, sometimes make a covert display of their purity.

The second stage, too, is comprised of two steps:

1. At the first step an individual demonstrates his piety and virtuous deeds.

2. At the second step one pretends to have done away with the antitheses of piety and virtue, and behaves in such a manner as if he is free from all vices, and the aim of all this is to win the confidence of others.

The third stage of Riya’, which is considered to be overt by the fuqaha’, also consists of

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two steps:

1. The first step is marked by an individual’s performance of the prescribed forms of piety, prayers and good deeds in front of other people with the intention of demonstrating his good qualities and praiseworthy habits, or by his posture as a person who strictly adheres to the religious commands on purely rational grounds, and thus wishing to win the hearts of people and attracting their attention towards himself. Such acts, whether performed in total or in part, with the motive of Riya’, to please the others, are discussed in the books of fiqh.

2. At the second step, one abstains from evil deeds for the purpose of riya’ only.

Riya’ In Faith or Creed

Remember that hypocrisy in religious faith is the worst kind of hypocrisy; its retribution also is the severest and its bad effects are far greater and more dangerous than those of other forms of hypocrisy. One who is guilty of this sin, if he does not believe genuinely in those ideas which he pretends to believe in, is counted among the munafiqun (hypocrites), whose place is in the Fire, and he is doomed to eternal damnation and his punishment is the severest of punishments. But if he believes in them, and for the sake of winning peoples’ hearts and for obtaining worldly honor and dignity he makes an ostentation of them, though he is not reckoned among munafiqun, this kind of hypocrisy will cause the light of faith to fade away from his heart and to make the darkness of infidelity

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and faithlessness to occupy the domain of his heart.

Because in the first instance this person commits polytheism (shirk) of the covert type; while his religious beliefs and acts should purely be meant for God and His Holy Essence, he is guilty of committing the sin of doing them for others and thus makes them to share what should absolutely belong to Him only. In this way he makes others partners to God and has given permission to the Devil to occupy his heart as if it does not belong to God. It has been mentioned earlier that faith emerges from the depths of the heart, and in this matter mere abstract knowledge does not suffice. It has been stated in the tradition that any kind of riya’ is polytheism, but this vice, this disastrous atrocity, this hidden cruelty (to one’s own self), and this vicious habit, results in nullifying the good deeds, and in surrender of the realm of the heart to other than God.

The darkness of this vice causes man to leave this world as an unbeliever in God, and the feigned faith that he had assumed proves nothing more than a senseless and empty profession; it is a form without content, a body without soul and a skull without brain; and in no way is acceptable to God. This fact is confirmed by a tradition mentioned in al-Kafi, narrated by ‘Ali ibn Salim:

سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ، عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ، یَقُولُ: قَالَ اللهُ، عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: أَنَا خَیْرُ شَرِیکٍ؛ مَنْ

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أَشْرَکَ مَعِیَ غَیْرِی فِی عَمَلٍ عَمِلَهُ لَمْ أَقْبَلْهُ إِلا مَا کَانَ لِی خَالِصاً.

The narrator of the tradition says that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (A) saying that God Almighty said, “I am the best of friends; one who makes others My partners in any matter, his deeds are not acceptable to Me. I accept only those acts that are purely done for My sake.”(1)

Hence, it is clear that if the spiritual acts (of the heart) are not performed with sincerity of the heart, they will neither be the object of attention of the Almighty, nor will He acknowledge them, and they will be credited in the account of that partner-the person, for whose sake they were performed. Thus the spiritual acts performed for the sake of somebody else, not for God, will surpass the limits of polytheism, and will enter the domain of kufr (infidelity). It may even be said that the performer of such adulterated acts would be treated as one of the munafiqun.

As his polytheism is not visible, his hypocrisy also is hidden. He, the poor fellow, considers himself to be a believer, whereas in reality he is an idolater, and he is condemned to taste the chastisement prescribed for the munafiqun. How pitiable is the plight of one whose good deeds are to terminate in nifaq.

Difference Between Knowledge And Belief

Know that faith or belief is something different from the knowledge of God, the Unity of His Being, and His other Attributes--like sifat al-kamaliyyah (the Attributes of Perfection), the Positive Attributes, sifat

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 450.

al-jalaliyyah (the Attributes of Glory), and the Negative Attributes, etc. and the knowledge of angels, holy scriptures, and the Last Day. Anyone who possesses the knowledge of all these things is not necessarily a believer. The Devil possesses the knowledge of all these things more than I and you or any other individual, but still he is an unbeliever. The faith is a yearning of the heart-an inner experience, which if not genuine, does not become faith.

Anyone who has gained knowledge of religion through rational demonstrations and arguments, ought to submit to them whole-heartedly with the totality of his being and obey the call of his heart dutifully i.e. with complete surrender to God, with humility and fear-and accept all the responsibilities expected of him sincerely without any question. Only then he can become a perfect mumin. Culmination of the faith is tranquility and peace of mind. When the light of faith is stabilized, it brings with it tranquility of the heart, and this is something which does not issue from knowledge.

It is possible that reason may accept something, which is according to its dictates and logic, but the heart may not be ready to agree with it, thus making knowledge useless. For instance, you know through your reason that a dead person cannot do any harm and that all the dead in the world do not possess any power of action, even as much power as is possessed by a fly, and that all the physical and spiritual

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faculties depart as soon as one is dead; but since your heart has not accepted it and has not approved of the judgment of the mind, you cannot spend a dark night with a dead body. But if your heart yields to your mind and approves of its judgment, this job will no more be difficult for you. After some effort the heart resigns to the dictates of reason, then no dread of the dead remains in the heart.

Therefore, it is clear that the submission, which is the gratification and comfort of the heart, is quite a different thing from knowledge, which is the gratification of the mind. It is possible that one can logically prove the existence of the Great Intelligent Designer, the Unity of His Divine Being, the Day of Judgment and other true beliefs, but such a belief cannot be considered as faith (iman), and the person cannot be regarded as a mu’min, but he may be counted among the non-believers, hypocrites and polytheists.

Today my eyes and yours are closed, and we do not possess any divine vision. Our terrestrial eyes are unable to perceive, but when the hidden is revealed and the kingdom of heaven is manifested, the physical world vanishes and reality is disclosed; you will realize that you were not a believer in God, and your rational judgment was not congruous with your faith. Unless the words, (لا إله إلا الله) —there is no god except God— are inscribed on the tablet of the

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heart with the pen of reason, man is not a true believer in the Unity of God.

When this sacred and holy dictum is impressed on the heart, the domain of the heart turns by itself into the kingdom of God Almighty. Then only man does not see anyone else as efficient in the realm of truth; he does not expect any rank, any distinction or riches from anybody else; he does not seek for honor and fame with the help of others; and his heart does not become hypocritical and profane.

Therefore, if you see that riya’ is stealing into your heart, you should realize that your heart has not really surrendered itself to reason, and faith has not illuminated your heart yet; for you consider others to be your God and see them as efficient agents in the world, and you do not trust Him, the only God; it means that you have joined the company of hypocrites, polytheists and idolaters.

Dangerous Effects Of Riya’

O, you given to riya’, who have entrusted your truthful beliefs and religious understanding to the custody of the enemy of God—the Devil, and have attributed to others what specifically belongs to God, you have exchanged those lights which would have illuminated your heart and spirit, and would have proved to be the source of your salvation and eternal bliss, which would have been responsible for being blessed with Beatific Vision and acquiring Divine nearness, with the dreadful darkness of eternal misfortunes; you have lost the other-worldly treasures,

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and have alienated yourself from the most sacred threshold of the Beloved, and have deprived yourself of the sight of the visage of the Most High.

Be prepared for the darkness, which is not to be followed by any ray of light; the scorn and shame from which there is no release; the diseases which have no cure; the death after which there is no life; and the fire which is ignited from within the depths of the heart to engulf the whole region of your spirit, as well as the realm of the body. It is beyond your capacity and mine to conceive or perceive the intensity of that fire, as God Almighty has mentioned in His Holy Book:

﴿نَارُ اللَّهِ الْمُوقَدَةُ. الَّتِی تَطَّلِعُ عَلَی الْأَفْئِدَةِ.﴾

(It is) the fire of Allah, kindled, which leapeth up over the hearts of men. (104:6-7)

The effect of the fire, which is kindled by God, will be that it would consume the hearts as well. No fire can consume the heart except that which is kindled in the hell. If the belief in the Unity of God, which is inherently engrained in human nature, is abandoned and is replaced with idolatry and infidelity, no intercession of any intercessor will be available to him, and man will be destined to suffer eternal damnation. What kind of chastisement will it be? It will be the effect of the Divine wrath, issuing from His sense of Honor.

Thus, my friend, do not make yourself an object of the Divine

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wrath for the sake of an illusion, an insignificant and trivial popularity in the eyes of weak creatures of God, and for the sake of worthless attention of hopeless human beings. Do not make a bargain of those Divine blessings, those infinite favors and benevolences with popularity among people, which is not even effective and long-lasting, from which you cannot derive any benefit except inviting ultimate shame and regret. And while your relations are severed with this world of illusion and deception and you cease to act, no regret and sorrow will be of avail.

An Advice For Getting Rid Of The Curse Of Riya’


What I am going to mention here to you is expected to work effectively for curing this disease of the heart, your as well as others’. It shall be also according to the rational dictates as well as is in conformity with the truths of revelation and tradition of the Ma’sumin (the infallibles). It is as well verifiable on the basis of the teachings of the Quran and your and my reason. God Almighty, by means of His all embracing power and might, which governs the whole universe and is immanent in the realms of all possible beings, takes under His control the hearts of all His servants, as no one is outside the range of His power and the domain of His domination; and no one should occupy the hearts of human beings without His permission and His creative Will; not even the person himself has any control over his own heart without the permission

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of God Almighty. This fact has been revealed implicitly and explicitly in the Quran as well as the traditions of the members of the Household (Ahl al-Bayt) of the Prophet (S).

Hence, God Almighty is the real owner of the hearts and has sovereignty over them, and you, a helpless and weak creature of Him, you cannot claim to be the master of your heart, without His leave. His Will is predominant over ours and other creatures’ resolution. Therefore, your hypocrisy and deceit, if it is meant for attracting the attention of His servants and for earning respect and popularity among them, know that it cannot bear any fruits, for this is totally beyond your powers, and it belongs to the jurisdiction of His power.

He is the owner and the ruler of the hearts. He makes the hearts of the people a seat of love for whomsoever He likes. It is possible that your act produces a result just contrary to your wish. Pay attention to what we have seen and heard about the double-faced hypocrites, whose hearts were not pure; they were ultimately condemned to be disgraced; whatever they intended, they could not achieve, but something that they did not desire happened to them. The following tradition in al-Kafi points to the same fact:

عَنْ جَرَّاحٍ المَدَائِنِیِّ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ، عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ، فِی قَوْلِ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: ﴿فَمَنْ کَانَ یَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْیَعْمَلْ عَمَلاً صَالِحاً وَلا یُشْرِکْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَداً.﴾ قَالَ: الرَّجُلُ یَعْمَلُ شَیْئاً مِنَ الثَّوَابِ لا یَطْلُبُ بِهِ

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وَجْهَ اللهِ إِنَّمَا یَطْلُبُ تَزْکِیَةَ النَّاسِ یَشْتَهِی أَنْ یُسْمِعَ بِهِ النَّاسَ، فَهَذَا الَّذِی أَشْرَکَ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ. ثُمَّ قَالَ: مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ أَسَرَّ خَیْراً فَذَهَبَتِ الأَیَّامُ أَبَداً حَتَّی یُظْهِرَ اللهُ لَهُ خَیْراً، وَمَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ یُسِرُّ شَرّاً فَذَهَبَتِ الأَیَّامُ أَبَداً حَتَّی یُظْهِرَ اللهُ لَهُ شَرّاً.

The narrator of the tradition, Jarrah al-Mada’ini, reports from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he asked the Imam about the words of the Almighty that ‘whosoever is desirous of meeting his Creator, he should perform virtuous deeds and should not ascribe any partner to God in his worship,’ seeking an explanation. Imam al-Sadiq (A) said, ‘A person who performs good deeds but not for the sake of being blessed with the vision of his God, his acts are aimed at being considered as pious by the people, and he wishes that people should know about his deeds; such a person is counted among polytheists, who have ascribed partners to God.’ The Imam (A) continued: ‘There is none in the world, who has concealed his good deeds and after passage of time God has not revealed them. And there is none in the world who could conceal his wicked deeds for ever, for they were exposed by God before he passed away from the world.’(1)

Hence, my dear friend! try to be worthy in the eyes of God. Try to win the hearts of the creatures by first pleasing the real owner of the hearts, so that He comes to your rescue. Work for the sake of God. As a

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 453.

consequence God Almighty, besides showering His favors and excellences upon you in the Hereafter, will bestow His honors and favors on you in this world as well, and will befriend you. He will raise your status in the eyes of people and will exalt you in both the worlds. But the only thing that you have to do is to sincerely cultivate the love of God in your heart, untainted and unspoiled, with struggle and effort.

Purify your inner self so that your actions also will be pure and untainted by the love of the world or hatred of fellow beings; your spirit should be pure and untainted and all the infirmities and corruptions of the soul should be eliminated. Of what advantage is the love or hatred of the weak creatures of God, and gaining favor and name among them? Even if it has some benefit, it is insignificant and short-lived. It is possible that this love of the world may lead you to hypocrisy, and God forbid, it may convert you into a polytheist or a hypocrite or an unbeliever.

If you are not disgraced in this world, you will be surely disgraced in the other world, in Almighty’s court of justice, in front of His truthful and worthy servants, in front of His esteemed prophets and those angels who are nearest to God, and you will have to hang down your head in shame, and you will be left in a state of utter helplessness. Can you

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imagine the disgrace of that day? God alone knows what sort of darkness is to follow that disgrace. It will be the day, as God Almighty has said:

﴿وَیَقُولُ الْکَافِرُ یَا لَیْتَنِی کُنتُ تُرَابًا.﴾

And the disbeliever will cry: ‘Would that I were dust’. (78:40)

Then it will be of no good. You, poor fellow, for the sake of a trifling love, for the sake of a fame of no avail among the creatures of God, you did not care for the promised Divine favors and have failed to gain His good pleasure, and have incurred His indignation and wrath instead.

The deeds by means of which you could have gained Divine favors, could have secured a happy and blissful life in eternity, and could have attained the highest station in the highest heaven; you have replaced it with the darkness of polytheism and hypocrisy, and have procured for yourself regret, shame and the severest chastisement, and have converted yourself into a ‘sijjini’ (an inhabitant of the lowest or dungeon of hell) instead. It occurs in the tradition in al-Kafi that it has been reported from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Prophet (S) said: ‘Indeed when the angel of God joyously takes to the higher heaven the good deeds of a man, as he carries the good deeds heavenward, God Almighty orders him to place those deeds in ‘Sijjin’, since they were not performed for Him alone.(1)

You and I cannot imagine what ‘Sijjin’ is, and which kind of demons are appointed there; and

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, the chapter concerning riya’.

you cannot contemplate the horrors inflicted upon the sinners there. And once we have been made to face it, it will not be possible for us to get rid of it, as all the means of repentance shall be cut off. Wake up my friend! and cast away your negligence and carelessness, and weigh your actions in the balance of your reason, before they are weighed and measured in the other world. And cleanse the mirror of your heart of the rust of polytheism, hypocrisy, and two-facedness.

Do not allow the rust of impurity of polytheism and infidelity to gather in such a way that it cannot be cleansed with the fire of the other world. Do not allow the light of your nature to be turned into the gloom of apostasy. Do not be a traitor to yourself and do not destroy what God has entrusted to you, calling it:

﴿فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِی فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَیْهَا.﴾

(It is) the nature (framed) of Allah in which He hath created man. (30:30)

Therefore, burnish the mirror of the heart, so that the light of Divine magnificence may be reflected in it, and may make you forget this world and everything in it, and your heart is kindled with the fire of His love, so that all other attachments and associations may be dissolved in such a manner that you do not spurn a single moment for the sake of the worldly things; and you derive such a pleasure from His remembrance that all the

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animal pleasures may appear to you a gimmick. If you cannot attain this station, even then do not give up the gifts of God that are promised to be given in the next world and are mentioned in the Quran and the traditions of the Ma’sumin (A), for the sake of gaining the short-lived favor of the weak creatures of God. Do not deprive yourself of all the Divine favors and do not make a bargain of the eternal felicity with the everlasting distress.

Sincerity In Action

Know that the real King of kings, the true Giver of real bounties, has bestowed upon us all these favors. He created all these things for us and prepared them for us even before we came into this world. He made our food a balanced diet and acceptable to our weak stomach-a patron and servant who serves us with an instinctive and natural love. He created for us suitable climes and weathers and has bestowed upon us all other seen and unseen favors here and in the other world, and after piling up all these gifts for us, He asks us to keep our hearts pure for His occupation, so that we ourselves may be benefited from His presence.

In spite of all these warnings and cautions we still do not obey Him and do not pay heed to His words and do not act according to His wish. What an act of gross transgression. With whom are we trying to wage a war, the consequences of

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which we will have to face? Any slightest harm cannot be caused to His Kingdom, and we cannot exclude ourselves from His reign of power either. If we are acting like the polytheists we are causing harm to ourselves, because:

﴿فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِیٌّ عَنْ الْعَالَمِینَ.﴾

Lo! Allah is independent of (all) creatures. (3:97)

He does not need our worship, our service or our obedience. Any disobedience, polytheism and two-facedness on our part will not cause any harm to His Empire, but as He is (أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِینَ) —the Most Merciful of the merciful—, His boundless mercy and compassion, and His perfect wisdom require of us the pursuance of the right path, and for this purpose He made clear the difference between good and evil, beautiful and ugly to us and warned us of the perils and hazards to be met on the road of human perfection and the path of true felicity.

We are indebted to God Almighty for this great guidance and we have to show, with all humility, great respect towards Him in our worships, our devotion and our supplications, whose importance we cannot comprehend unless we gain an other-worldly vision. As long as we sojourn in this narrow physical world, confined to the limits of the sequence of time and shackles of space, we cannot comprehend the infiniteness of the realm of His power, and we cannot even thank Him in our prayers and supplications for His guidance.

Never let the idea enter our mind, that by our service and

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devotion we are doing some favor to His prophets, His chosen servants, and the great ulama of the Ummah. They are our benefactors, who have taken the charge of leading the Ummah towards felicity and deliverance, and who have accepted the responsibility of our emancipation from the darkness and shadows of ignorance and misfortunes, taking us towards the realms of light and joy and greatness.

What a great responsibility they took upon themselves, and what horrible pains and troubles they underwent for the sake of our instruction, in order to deliver us from those obscurities and darknesses, that were the result of vain beliefs and compound ignorance, and the chastisements that were to befall us as a result of our bad habits and villainies. They wanted to save us from those hideous forms and dreadful figures in the other world that would be the outcome of our wicked deeds, and they helped us to reach the regions of light, joy and comfort and the spheres of serenity and composure, whose image our mind would fail to visualize.

This physical world in spite of its vastness is so limited and narrow that we cannot imagine a heavenly hour with our this-worldly vision. Our vision does not possess enough power to behold the magnificence of that world, which has been described in the speeches of the holy prophets of God, especially in the all-embracing revelations of the Khatim al-nabiyyin (Seal of the prophets), who perceived those truths through Divine revelations, saw them,

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heard them, and then asked us to acquire them.

And we, like recalcitrant children, disobey the commands of the wise, and even do not pay heed to the dictates of our own reason, always being more than ready to oppose the Divinely guided ones. And those sanctified pious souls, out of the love and kindness that they possessed for the creatures of God, did never fall short of their duty, did never appeal to our meaner and baser faculties by bribing them to attract us towards heaven and felicity; they never tried to make us yield through intimidation or force.

They did not either demand any remuneration or reward for the services they rendered. The remuneration asked by the Prophet (S) (مَوَدَّةُ ذِی القُرْبَی) —kindness for his kinsfolk—, which is not really a payment for his services, is also meant for our own benefit, being the brightest of our achievements in the next world. Our sense of indebtedness to them in fact serves ourselves and we are benefited more from it than they are. How are they benefited by the righteous acts of poor beings like us?

In what way will our sincerity and obedience do them any good? In what way do you and I consider our humble selves benefactors of the guides of the Ummah, from an ordinary faqih to the great Prophet (S) and God Almighty? All of them have in their own right fulfilled their function of guiding us and showing the right path, for which

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we are indebted to them and even a fraction of it we cannot pay back in this world. Nothing of this world is worthy of the repayment of their debt:

فَلِلَّهِ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلأَوْلِیَائِهِ المِنَّةُ.

It is to God, His Prophet (S), and His saints to whom all owe gratitude.

As God Almighty has said:

﴿قُلْ لَا تَمُنُّوا عَلَیَّ إِسْلَامَکُمْ بَلْ اللَّهُ یَمُنُّ عَلَیْکُمْ أَنْ هَدَاکُمْ لِلْإِیمَانِ إِنْ کُنتُمْ صَادِقِینَ.﴾

Say: Deem not your surrender a favor unto me; nay, but Allah does confer a favor on you, inasmuch as He hath led you to the faith, if ye are earnest. Lo. Allah knows the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is Seer of what you do. (49:17-18)

Hence, if we are sincere in our faith in God, it is in itself a favor bestowed upon us by God. God Almighty is Omniscient, and has the knowledge of the hidden. He is Omniscient, knows the inner, hidden reality of all our actions, and He is fully aware of the nature of our faith and the extent and degree of our submission to His Will.

We, the helpless creatures, who do not know the reality, acquire our knowledge from the faqih and think that we have done favor to him. We offer congregational prayers behind an ‘alim, and we assume that we have conferred a favor on him, whereas, in fact, we are indebted to him. We do not realize this, and, therefore, this faulty outlook turns the effects of our deeds upside down and

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drags us into ‘Sijjin’ making our actions worthless.

The Second Stage Of Riya’


At this stage, though riya’ is of lesser intensity than it is at the first stage, but it is possible that if the hypocrite does not heed the warnings, and repeatedly behaves in the same way (the riya’ of action) it is likely to terminate in the riya’ of the former stage-the riya’ of faith. We have already mentioned in the exposition of the previous tradition that in the ‘Alam al-malakut (the celestial world) man may have a different form other than the human form. Those forms will be in accordance with the state of one’s soul and its traits.

If you possess good human qualities, in the other world those qualities will retain you in the human form, provided they are not deviated from the path of moderation. Good faculties will be considered as true merits only when the sensual self does not interfere with them, and the self does not play any role in their formation. Our respected teacher and Shaykh Ayatullah Shahabadi used to say that the measure of the false and invalid spiritual practice and true religious spiritual struggle is as to what extent selfishness is involved in such practices, i.e. whether all spiritual effort is for God or for selfish motives.

If the wayfarer on the heavenly journey treads a selfish path and his spiritual exercises are meant for acquiring powers for worldly ends, his efforts are rendered invalid, and his suluk (progress on mystic path) will

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lead him to the calamity of the other world. The false claims of spirituality are usually made by such people. And if the wayfarer treads the right path, and is genuinely in search of God, his devotion is within the bounds of the Shari’ah, and God will help him, as promised in the following verse of the Quran:

﴿وَالَّذِینَ جَاهَدُوا فِینَا لَنَهْدِیَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا.﴾

As for those who strive for Us, We surely guide them to Our paths. (29:69)

Hence, his actions will lead him to felicity; egoism will be eliminated and self-conceit and pride will recede. This is quite clear that anyone who demonstrates his good deeds before people, his aim is a selfish aim, and he will be branded as a selfish, self-conceited, egoistic and egocentric person, and his godliness will be considered as nothing but false and pretentious, which will invalidate his good deeds. As the domain of your existence is replete with the feelings of self-love, the lust for wealth, power and fame, and the wish for ruling over the creatures of God, your good deeds and your excellences cannot be adjudged as virtuous deeds, and your moral behavior is far away from truly religious morality.

The operating force in your realm is satanic and your inner state is not a human condition. When you will open your eyes in the other world, you will perceive yourself in an inhuman form, similar to one of those of the devils. For such selves, which are dens of the Satan, it is

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impossible to gain religious knowledge and learn the spirit of tawhid. Unless the realm of your inner self is converted into a human state and your heart is purged of impurities and unholiness, you cannot be benefited from spiritual exercises, as God Almighty states in a hadith qudsi:

لا تَسَعُنِی أَرْضِی وَلا سَمَائِی، بَلْ یَسَعُنِی قَلْبُ عَبْدِیَ المُؤْمِنُ.

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

There is no clearer sign in the earth and in the heavens of the elegance of the Beloved than the heart of a true believer (mu’min).

The believer’s heart is in the occupation of God, not at the disposal of the self. The heart of the believer is not self-willed, nor is it vagrant. It is said of it:

قَلْبُ المُؤْمِنِ بَیْنَ إِصْبِعَیِ الرَّحْمَانِ، یُقَلِّبُهُ کَیْفَ یَشَاءُ.

The heart of the true believer (mu’min) lies between two fingers of God, that He may turn it whatever way He pleases.

O you, the poor creature, who worships the self and the Devil and ignorance are the agencies operating in the realm of your heart, you yourself have prevented the hands of God from handling your heart. What sort of faith you are required to possess that your heart be the object of Divine illumination, absolute rule of the Truth may prevail there?

Make it a point that unless you change yourself, and as long as the bad habit of ostentatiousness and vanity

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dominates your deeds, you will be branded as an unbeliever and you will be grouped with the munafiqun (hypocrites), even though you imagine yourself to be a believer in God and as one who has resigned himself to the Will of God.

The Value Of Human Existence As A Trustee Of Divine Honor

My friend! wake up from the slumber of forgetfulness and carelessness, be aware, do not let sleep overtake your senses, and know that God Almighty has created you for His own sake, as stated in one hadith qudsi:

یَا ابْنَ آدَمَ؛ خَلَقْتُ الأَشْیَاءَ لَکَ وَخَلَقْتُکَ لأَجْلِی.

O progeny of Adam, We have made everything for you and you for Our service.

He has made your heart His own habitation. You and your hearts are the abodes of Divine honor. God Almighty is intolerant regarding His Dignity and honor. Do not be careless in this regard, and do not justify any violation of the Divine principles; and be afraid of His retribution so that you may not be disgraced and made infamous in this world in such a way that despite all efforts you are not able to undo what may befall you.

You are guilty of violation of Divine honor in your heart that belongs to the celestial world, in front of the angels of God and His prophets. The moral excellences through which the saints of God (awliya’ Allah) acquired resemblance to Him, are being surrendered by you to others than God, and you are surrendering your heart, the seat of God, to His enemy, thus committing shirk (polytheism) in the

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heart of your hearts.

Be afraid of God Almighty, Who besides bringing down your other-worldly image and degrading you in front of His angels and His prophets, will also expose and dishonor you in this world itself and you will be condemned to unmeasured indignity which shall be also irreparable, and irremediable, an infamy that cannot be redressed. God Almighty is Sattar, He conceals the sins, but He is jealous also. He is (أَرْحَمُ الرّاحِمِینَ) —the Most Merciful of the merciful—, but at the same time He is — (أَشَدُّ المُعَاقِبِینَ)the severest of the punishers— also. He Himself says that He covers up bad deeds as long as they do not cross certain limits. God forbid, lest the gravity of your deeds should arouse His anger and should it overcome His tolerance and willingness to conceal sins, as you have read in the hadith.

Hence, come to your senses, seek refuge in God and turn back to Him, for God Almighty is the Compassionate and always seeks for an excuse to shower His mercy. If you ask for His forgiveness, He will readily forgive you, and will cover up your blemishes and past deeds, so that no one will be able to know about them, and He will make you a man of great distinctions, a paragon of virtues and an image of His Attributes.

He will make your will consummate in the next world as His own Will is executed throughout the cosmos. It is narrated in a hadith that

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when the people are placed in the Paradise, a message from the Almighty will be given to them and its purport will be as follows: ‘From the One who is Eternal and Immortal to him who is also eternal and immortal: Whatever I desire to bring into existence I command it to be and it comes into being; from this hour it has been decreed that you also command whatever you desire to bring into existence and your wish would be obeyed.’

Therefore, do not be egocentric, and subordinate your will to the Will of God Almighty; He will then make you an instrument and manifestation of His Will. He will give you power in the realms under His control, and bestow upon you the capacity to create in the Hereafter. (Of course, this is not the same as tafwid, which is a false notion, as proved elsewhere.)

Now, my friend, do as you please; either accept it or reject it. But know, that God Almighty is not in need of you or me or any other creature, and He has no need of our service and sincerity.

Riya’ In Worship


The third stage also is divided into several sections.

Section I

The riya’ of this kind is more common and manifest than those mentioned above. Because we ordinary human beings usually do not belong to the above-mentioned two states. For this reason, the Devil cannot get hold of us in the way he encroaches upon those who belong to the other states. But since the majority of the

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worshippers express their devotion to God through formal prayers, the Devil commonly intervenes at this stage more frequently. Sensual temptations are also commoner at this stage.

In other words, since such type of people tend to seek the physical pleasures of heaven through their actions, and they aspire to attain higher station by performing good deeds and abstaining from performing wicked ones, the Devil finds an access through this way; and he nurtures the roots of riya’ and deceit with great care, so that it may bear the fruits that are desired by him. He transforms their virtues into vices, and makes them to enter hell through the path of ritual worship.

The acts by means of which they aim to secure paradise for themselves are transformed by him into the means of their destruction and doom. The deeds, which would have led one to ‘Illiyyin-the highest heaven, are so distorted that their performer is thrown into Sijjin by angels at the command of God. Therefore, persons who lay greater emphasis on this aspect (i.e. formalistic) and ignore other aspects, have nothing except apparently good deeds to secure salvation in the next world; they are required to be more cautious, so that this provision also may not be snatched away from their hands and they may not be consigned to the flames of hell and deprived of felicity for ever. They should watch over their acts lest the doors of heaven be closed and the doors of hell be opened

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to them.

How To Combat Riya’?

Most often the sanctimonious person himself does not know that this particular vice has penetrated his deeds and his deeds have now assumed hypocritical proportions and hence become worthless. Because the temptations of the Devil and the self are so unobservably shadowy and subtle and the path of humanity is so delicate and tenuous that unless anyone is extremely discriminate, he cannot understand their inherent evil.

He imagines that his actions are meant for pleasing God, whereas they are serving the interests of the Devil. Since man is naturally created self-centered, the veil of self-love and egoism covers his flaws and vices from his own eyes. God willing, we shall also discuss this subject while commenting upon certain other ahadith; I ask for God’s help in this regard.

For instance, the acquisition of religious knowledge, is one of the important religious duties and a kind of worship; but a man busy attaining excellence in this field is liable to fall an easy prey to the vice of riya’, which seizes his heart in such a way that he himself is not aware and the same thick curtain of self-love obstructs his vision.

He desires to gain an important position in the eyes of great scholars and men of distinction and honor, by solving an important problem in such a way that no other person has solved it before; he tries to project himself as a person distinguished from others by presenting the subject in a unique way, to make himself

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the focus of everyone’s attention; with an air of self-assurance, he assumes that if anyone among the scholars and dignitaries eulogizes him in flattering terms, he will be able to receive the applause and praise of the whole gathering.

The poor fellow fails to realize that even if he earns worldly fame and honor among scholars or the elite, he will be disgraced in the eyes of the King of kings, and these actions of his will lead him to Sijjin. This act of riya’ is also accompanied with some other vices, like the wish for humiliating and insulting others, or injuring the feelings of his brother in faith, or sometimes being rude to a believer; each one of these vices is enough for landing him in hell. If again your deceptive self falls in the snares of its own guiles and succeeds in convincing you that your aim has been to make known a tenet of Shari’ah and pronouncing the word of truth, which is one of the most meritorious acts of religious devotion, and that you do not aim at demonstrating your spiritual superiority, you ought to interrogate your self by asking that if a friend of yours had solved the same religious issue in a better way and had defeated you in the gathering of those scholars and highly placed persons, even then would you have taken the same position?

If it is so, you were true to your own self. But if your self again is

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bent upon deceiving others and does not refrain from committing another treachery and contends that the utterance of truth is a meritorious act, and possesses a spiritual reward also, and that it is in your interest to attain an elevated station in the Hereafter, you are advised to ask your self: Suppose if God Almighty accords you the real glory for your defeat in case you gracefully accept it, would you still desire to prevail? If you see that your self loves to dominate others in academic discussion for gaining publicity among the scholars for your knowledge and scholarship, and the discussion that you undertake is aimed at winning others’ respect and honor, then know that the intellectual discourse, which is the highest form of worship and prayer, is transformed into the sinful act of riya’, which, according to the narration of al-Kafi, will lead you to Sijjin, you are classed as a polytheist, and this act was performed with the motive of gaining respect in the eyes of the people.

This act of yours, according to a tradition, will cause more harm to your faith than the harm done by two wolves that attack a herd of sheep without a shepherd from both sides. Therefore, you who are a scholar and responsible for reforming the Ummah and paving the way to the Hereafter, and curing spiritual infirmities, it is necessary for you first to correct yourself and maintain a sound spiritual state, so that you do not fall under

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the category of the scholars who do not act upon what they profess.

Pray to God Almighty to purify our hearts of the stains of polytheism and hypocrisy, and cleanse the mirror of our hearts of the rust of the love of the world, which is the source of all vices. O God! kindly help us and protect us helpless beings, afflicted with the disease of vanity and the lust for power and honor, and guard us in this hazardous journey along the intricacies of the labyrinthine dark path, O the Mightiest and the Most Powerful.

Riya’ In Congregational Prayers

Congregational prayer is an eminent form of Islamic worship, and the leader of this prayer holds a distinctive position of honor. For this reason, Satan also intrudes more in this worship. He is much more envious of the imam (leader) of the jama’ah (congregation) than anybody else. He is always busy finding the ways of keeping away the believers from receiving this Divine honor, and deprives their action of the element of sincerity and truth and drives them to Sijjin.

He tries to convert them into polytheists, and for this purpose he invades the hearts of the imams through various means, such as ‘ujb (self admiration), which we shall discuss later on, and riya’, which is a display of religiosity through this significant worship for impressing the people, gaining publicity, and earning their admiration and respect; for instance, when an imam sees that a certain pious person is attending the congregational prayer, he tries to make

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an ostentation of his humility and devotion in order to capture his attention and win his admiration; he tries to find various ways of mentioning him in the gatherings of ‘people not present in the congregation; in order to show his importance, he drags the name of that pious man again and again and tries to inform the people about his presence as a follower in the congregational prayer; thus, he tries to create a false impression of a close association with him, especially if he belongs to the business class, and expresses such a great love and friendship for him which he never expressed even for a single moment for God or His favored servants.

And if, God forbid, any of the aristocrats loses his way and comes to pray with the congregation, it is a bigger disaster. The Devil is not unmindful, of the leader of a small congregation either. He approaches him and makes him aware that he is so unmindful of worldly gains that he is content to spend his time in a small local mosque of a poor neighborhood. This feeling is also similar to the first, or even worse than that; as the vice of jealousy spreads its tentacles in the hearts of such people, who do not enjoy the bounties of this world; the Devil deprives them of the glories of the other world too, and they are condemned to suffer in both the worlds. At the same time, the Devil, does not

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lose his grip on the collars of people like you and me, who have no access to the leadership of a congregation, and who lament the absence of proper means; he makes us doubt the utility of congregations of Muslims, and makes us scorn and flout them.

We may be led to look upon our failure to capture a congregation as otherworldly seclusion, and ourselves as free from love of station and honor. Then we become worse than both of the groups, we neither belong to the first category of people, who enjoy the good things of this life, nor do we belong to the second category, whose achievements are comparatively humbler; nor do we have any claim to the next world; nevertheless if we get an opportunity, we might prove to be more power-hungry, honor-thirsty, and greedy than either of the groups.

How Does Riya’ Infiltrate The Ranks Of The Congregation?

The Satan is not content with dragging the leader of the congregation to the hell. His lust is not satiated with that. He infiltrates the ranks of the worshippers also. Since the first row is more esteemed than other rows, and its right wing superior to the left, he makes them his target more often than any other row. He attracts the pious towards the right part of the first row, and incites them to pose to be superior to others in the eyes of the people. The helpless fellow, unconscious of the Satan’s whispering, tries to demonstrate his superiority through a sanctimonious glance or gesture, which displays

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his inner polytheism, which is enough for sending him to Sijjin.

From here, the Satan then steals into other rows to allure other people on account of his awkward gestures and funny behavior a devotee becomes the target of jeer and sneer of others, who consider themselves to be free from all sort of faults. Sometimes it has been observed that a respectable person, especially a scholar of rare distinction and high intellectual caliber, is made to sit by the Devil in the last row, in order to make people realize that though his position is much higher, but since he does not care for worldly position and is free of self-esteem, he has come to sit in the last row. Some people of this kind will never be seen sitting in the first row.

The Satan is not satisfied with influencing the imam and his followers; he sometimes catches hold of one of the loners by the beard, persuading him to leave his house or shop, and by means of his allurements he launches him into a corner of the mosque over a prayer mat. For such a man, no imam is ‘adil, or qualified to lead prayers. The Satan makes him perform a prolonged prostration and ruku’ and an extended prayer.

In his heart of hearts, this individual wishes to make people believe that he is pious and conscientious to such a degree that he avoids the congregation, so that he may not be trapped into following an unjust

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imam. This person, besides being conceited and sanctimonious, is also ignorant of the laws of the Shari’ah. The marji’ taqlid (legal authority) whom he follows may not have laid any condition for praying behind an imam except acceptability of his outward behavior. But the loner is not concerned with that, for his real motive is riya’. He merely wants to present himself as a man of piety in order to gain the favor and admiration of people.

In the same way, our other activities also are interfered with by the Satan. This damned creature, whenever he finds a murky heart, he makes it his resting place and tries to spoil our visible and invisible deeds, and transforms our good deeds into such as lead us directly to the hell.

An Invitation To Sincerity

My friend, be judicious and careful in your actions. Demand from yourself an account of every deed. Cross-examine yourself for every detail; try to evaluate your deeds through introspection whether they were meant for the realization of virtue or motivated otherwise. What motivated you to ask questions about mid-night prayers? Was it purely for the sake of God with an intention to perform such prayers, or for projecting your image as a deeply religiously person?

Why is it that you are eager to inform others about your pilgrimage by all possible means and about the number of times you undertook it? Why are you not content with confining your charitable deeds to yourself alone, and what do you want to gain by informing

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the others of your acts of charity, for as soon as you find an opportunity you announce them? If it is undertaken for the sake of God, and you intend that people should imitate you, and you think in terms of الدَّالُّ عَلَی الخَیْرِ کَفَاعِلِهِ. (the one who shows the path of virtue is as worthy as-the doer of it) while performing this deed, its display is justified; thank God, for He has enabled you to act with a clear conscience and pure heart. But beware of the guiles of Satan while interrogating your self, for he can project the acts adulterated with riya’ as selfless and sacred.

If your action is not for the sake of God, then it is better to abstain from doing what you have been doing, for it amounts to sum’ah, i.e. advertisement of false virtues, which is a branch of the accursed tree of riya’; for God Almighty does not approve of it and condemns its perpetrator to Sijjin. We ought to seek refuge in God from the vice of deceit, whose guiles are very subtle. We have a general idea that our deeds are not pure and sincere, because had we been His true servants, why does the Devil, despite promising not to impede the actions of His true servants, disturb our sanctity and make us an instrument of his evil designs?

In the words of my respected teacher, the Devil is the watchdog of the Almighty’s court; he does not bark at

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the person who is near to God, and does not bother him. As the watchdog does not drive the friends of the master away from the house, in the same way, the Satan also recognizes God’s friends, and does not allow any stranger to get access to Him. Therefore, whenever you realize that the Satan interferes in your affairs, you should immediately know that your actions are not performed with sincere intentions and are not meant for the Almighty. If you are a sincere believer in God, why doesn’t your tongue pour forth words of wisdom, coming from the heart?

For about forty years you imagine that you have been performing virtuous deeds in order to please God, whereas it occurs in a hadith that whosoever remains faithful to God for forty days, springs of wisdom emanate from his heart. This is, therefore, a sign for us to comprehend that our deeds were not performed for the sake of God, though we ourselves are not conscious of it, and this is the main cause of our irremediable sickness.

Pitiable is the condition of the devotees, worshippers, leaders and followers of Friday congregations and men of high knowledge and learning! When they will open their eyes in the court of the Most High on the Day of Judgment, they will come to know that they are not only among the sinners, perpetrators of major sins, but even worse than infidels and idolaters, and their record of deeds even darker than theirs.

It is

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a matter of pity for a person that his prayers and other devotional acts should serve as fuel for the fires of hell. May God save us from the moment when, in spite of one’s alms-giving and zakat and piety, one’s appearance will be distorted to such hideousness that it is not even imaginable. You, a helpless creature, are branded as a mushrik, an idolater, and a sinner despite your belief in the Unity of God. God willing, He will forgive the sinners by His mercy, but for the mushrik He has said that He will not forgive him if he dies without repentance.

It is stated in the ahadith that one used to Riya’-the one who makes a display of his religiosity, devotion, high religious status, his preaching and leading of prayers, his fasting, his namaz and even his pious deeds for the sake of gaining respect in the hearts of people is a polytheist. His shirk (idolatry) is confirmed by the traditions of the Imams of the Holy Household (A) and the Quranic text, and hence his sin is unpardonable. It would have been better for you to be among the perpetrators of major sins, to be one notorious for his evil conduct and perpetration of obvious indignities, while being a monotheist, instead of becoming a polytheist.

Now, my friend, introspect seriously and find some remedy to cure your (spiritual) sickness, and realize the futility of acquiring honor in human hearts, a small piece of flesh which will not satisfy

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a bird’s appetite. These weak creatures possess no power, and their estimation is insignificant. The real power is to be sought in Him; He is the Absolute Cause of all causes-the Ultimate Cause. Even if all creatures make a joint effort to create a single mosquito, they will not be successful in doing so, and if the mosquito causes them a slight harm they will not be able to avert it if God does not will so.

All power belongs to the Almighty. He is the Mover of the universe. Whenever you do something and make an effort to perform something, inscribe on your heart with the pen of reason:

لا مُؤَثِّرَ فِی الوُجُودِ إَلا اللهُ.

No one is effective in the realm of existence except God.

By all possible means equip your heart with the principle of unity of Divine Action (tawhid al-af’ali), which is the first stage of the belief in the Unity of Being, and thus convert it into the heart of a true believer. Illuminate your heart with the holy dictum of: (لا إله إلا الله) —there is no god but Allah; and mould it accordingly. Lead your heart to the stage of tranquility (itminan), and make it realize that human beings can cause neither harm nor good, and that God alone is capable of doing any harm or good to anybody. Cure your vision, which suffers from blindness so that you are not raised blind on the Day of Judgment and complain to the Almighty:

﴿رَبِّ لِمَ حَشَرْتَنِی أَعْمَی

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وَقَدْ کُنْتُ بَصِیراً.﴾

My Lord! wherefore have You raised me (here) blind? (20:125)

The Will of the Almighty prevails over the wills of other beings. If your heart surrenders to these holy words, and has faith in them, this can be hoped that your deeds will be rewarded and all the traces of polytheism, Riya’, infidelity and hypocrisy will be wiped out from the face of your heart. This profound faith is in accordance with reason and revelation, and there are no traces of determinism (jabr) present in it. It is possible that some people who do not know the meaning, the basic principles and ingredients of determinism may mistake it as such, whereas it is not jabr but tawhid. Determinism is a kind of shirk; whereas tawhid is right guidance, determinism is misguidance. This occasion is not proper for discussing determinism and freedom. But those who fully understand this issue can appreciate the import of what I say.

Moreover, the Prophet (S) has asked us not to indulge in such discourses. Anyway, ask God Almighty, through supplication and humble entreaties all the time, especially in loneliness, to guide you and to illuminate your heart with the light of tawhid. Ask Him to endow you with the vision of the hidden, the perception of the unity (in diversity)-the Unity of Divine Being, so that you may not attach importance to anything else and consider every other thing as insignificant and trifle. Beseech His Holy Essence to make your actions pure and sincere,

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and lead you to the path of sincerity and love.

And if you have reached such a spiritual station that your prayers are responded and you can do something for this helpless creature of God, who has squandered his life in meaningless pursuits, devoid of any real purpose, hankering after desires and lusts, whose sins have sickened the heart to a point where no exhortation, advice, Quranic verse, or tradition of the Prophet (S), or argument or wise saying can have any effect, do pray for him; may be your prayer shall secure his deliverance. God never turns away a believer from His court, and He grants his prayers. By ever remembering these things, which you already know and which are also not new to you, be heedful and sincere from within the heart, and, without ceasing, critically reevaluate your movements, pauses, and your behavior.

Always scrutinize your secret intentions, and strictly take account of everything in the same manner as one business partner is accountable to the other. Abstain from everything that resembles riya’ and simulation, however virtuous it may appear to be. Even in the matter of obligatory religious duties, if you believe that you cannot perform them sincerely in public, perform them secretly, though it is preferable to perform them openly. It is rare for riya’ to occur in obligatory duties themselves; more often it relates to their mode of performance and to acts which are mustahabb or supererogatory. In any case, purge your heart from the

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dirt of polytheism with perfect solemness and severest self-criticism, lest, God forbid, you should pass away from this world in this state that your performance is deplorable, and there is no hope of salvation for you. Then you will invite the wrath of God, as mentioned in the tradition quoted in Wasa’il al-Shi’ah from Qurb al- asnad, and reported from Amir al-mu’minin ‘Ali (A):

عَنْ أَمِیرِ المُؤْمِنِینَ عَلِیٍّ، عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ، صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ، (أَنَّهُ قَالَ) مَنْ تَزَیَّنَ لِلنَّاسِ بِمَا یُحِبُّ اللهُ وَبَارَزَ اللهَ فِی السِّرِّ بِمَا یَکْرَهُهُ اللهُ لَقِیَ اللهَ وَهُوَ عَلَیْهِ غَضْبَانَ وَلَهُ مَاقِتٌ.

Amir al-mu’minin ‘Ali (A) reports that the Prophet (S) said, “One who does some act liked by God in order to show off to people, and in secret manifests such qualities as are abominations to God, he shall encounter God’s anger and wrath on the Day of Resurrection.”(1)

There are two probable interpretations of this hadith. Firstly, it is about such a person who presents himself as paragon of virtue before people, while his inner self is immersed in ugly vices. Secondly, it may be about a person who performs outwardly virtuous deeds with the intention of Riya’. In any case, it is obvious that the hadith condemns riya’, because the performance of the obligatory acts and duties if not motivated by riya’, cannot be the object of Divine wrath. In all probability the second meaning is closer to the import of the hadith, as the open performance of wicked deeds is a greater

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1- Wasa’il al-Shi’ah.


This is a warning for us to be cautious lest, God forbid, we do something to incur the wrath of the King of kings and the Most Merciful of the merciful:

أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنْ غَضَبِ الحَلِیمِ.

A Tradition Of Imam ‘Ali (A)

We conclude this section with a tradition reported from the commander of the pious, Amir al-mu’minin (A), recorded in al-Kafi. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq has also reported the same tradition from Imam al-Sadiq (A), which forms a part of the last will and testament of the Prophet (S) to ‘Ali (A):

عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ أَمِیرُ المُؤْمِنِینَ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ : ثَلاثُ عَلامَاتٍ لِلْمُرَائِی: یَنْشِطُ إِذَا رَأَی النَّاسَ، وَیَکْسِلُ إِذَا کَانَ وَحْدَهُ، وَیُحِبُّ أَنْ یُحْمَدَ فِی جَمِیعِ أُمُورِهِ.

Said Imam al-Sadiq (A) that Amir al-mu’minin (A) said: ‘There are three distinguishing features of one accustomed to riya’: he expresses joy and cheerfulness when he is greeted by people; he becomes cheerless and sullen when alone; and he wishes to be praised for everything he does.’(1)

Since this vice is so hidden and subtle that it remains unnoticed by the person himself, he is unaware of the fact that inwardly he is a hypocrite, and he imagines his actions to be pure and untainted. Therefore, the signs of this characteristic have been described so that men should be able to identify their hidden motives by examining their inner self in their light and be able to prevent and treat them accordingly.

An individual may introspect and know that he is not inclined to perform his religious duties when he

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 295.

is alone; even if with great compulsion he forces himself to perform them, or even if he performs them habitually, he does not perform with real sincerity and purity of heart, but rather as a physical exercise; but while performing his prayer in the mosque, in the congregation of the people and in the presence of others, he becomes animated, performing his prayer with utmost joy and enthusiasm. He is inclined to perform long and protracted ruku’s and prostrations; he performs the mustahabb actions properly, caring about their minutest particulars. If one pays a little attention to one’s inner state, one may come to know the reason for this vigor. Why is it so that he spreads the net of his (pretended) piety for catching the attention of people?

He may mislead himself by saying that he is more pleased with praying in the mosque, as it is more meritorious to do so, and that it brings more rewards also. He will convince himself by saying that it is preferable to say prayer in a better way in front of others, in order that they may follow his example and be attracted towards the religion. Man deceives himself by all means and never thinks of correcting himself. For a sick person who considers himself to be sound there is no hope of being cured. The ill-fated man’s innermost being not only secretly aims to parade his good deeds before people, remaining unconscious of its inner urge, but is also bent

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upon presenting his sin as worship and his conceit as propagation of religion, despite the fact that the performance of the mustahabbat prayers is mustahabb in seclusion.

Why is it that your self always responds in public, and why do you relish weeping out of the fear of God in the gathering of people, though in loneliness in spite of squeezing your eyes you cannot bring out a single tear? Where is the fear of God? Does it grip you in the gatherings of people only? Does it overwhelm you only on the occasion of the Nights of Great Value (لیلة القدر) in front of several thousands of people? Such a man offers one hundred rak’ah’s of namaz and recites the Du’a-i Jawshan-i Kabir and Du’a-i Jawshan-i Saghir in addition to several surahs of the Quran and is not bored and does not feel the slightest weariness. If man performs something purely for the sake of God or for gaining His blessings, or out of fear of hell or in the hope of heaven, why should he desire that his deeds be praised by men and admired by them?

His ears are all the time eager to listen something in his praise, and his heart is after those who observe his devotion and notice how venerable this gentleman is, for he is so punctual about the prayer and is so concerned about the supererogatory duties. If your deeds are meant for God, what does this exaggerated craving mean? If the

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fear of hell and the hope of heaven force you to perform these deeds, what does this love of publicity mean? You ought to realize that this desire issues from the accursed and abominable tree of riya’. Therefore, try as much as you can to purify yourself of these absurd inclinations (to the extent possible), and try to reform yourself.

Variation In Grades And Degrees Of Qualities Among Different Individuals

At this stage it is essential to remind you that each one of the qualities of the soul, both the good ones and the bad, has numerous grades and degrees. Those who acquire virtues and give up vices are grouped with the urafa, saints and friends of God (awliya’ Allah.) As for other individuals, the nature of vices and virtues is determined by the spiritual station to which they belong. It may be that the qualities, which are considered to be vices for those belonging to higher spiritual station, are not considered vices for those belonging to a lower stage. On the contrary, in a way, they may even be regarded as their accomplishments. And similarly the qualities that are regarded as virtues for the people of a lower category may be vices for men of a higher category.

Riya’ is also one of such (relative) vices that we are discussing presently. Authenticity (ikhlas) is the highest stage of freedom from riya’ and is characteristic of the saints (awliya’ Allah); others do not share this quality. The common people generally attain a lower stage of it, and this does not harm

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their iman or ikhlas, because, generally, they have a natural inclination that their virtues be known to others. Though they may not have intentionally performed them for the sake of demonstrating them, but their self is instinctively inclined to make them known. This tendency does not annul their action, nor does it make them infidels, hypocrites (munafiqun) or polytheists either. But the same trait is considered to be a shortcoming in the case of a wali or ‘arif bi-Allah, as for them it amounts to nifaq or shirk.

Absolute purification from the impurity of polytheism and obtaining perfect authenticity (ikhlas) of devotion is essentially a primary, condition for attaining the stage reserved for awliya’ Allah, and there are even higher stages which they can attain, but, here, it would be out of place to go into these details. Our Imams (A) have declared that their worship was the worship of emancipated souls (ahrar), which was performed for the sake of love of God alone, neither due to the fear of hell nor in the hope of heaven; and they considered this stage to be the first step of their wilayah. To them worship is a state of ecstasy and rapture which is beyond the reach of our imagination and understanding. Apart from the above-mentioned ahadith narrated from the Prophet (S) and Amir al-mu’minin (A), there is another hadith also, reported by Zurarah from imam Abu Ja’far (A), which is as follows:

عَنْ زُرَازَةَ عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ؛ قَالَ (زُرَارَةُ): سَأَلْتُهُ

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عَنِ الرَّجُلِ یَعْمَلُ الشَّیْءَ مِنَ الخَیْرِ فَیَرَاهُ إِنْسَانُ فَیَسُرُّهُ ذَلِکَ. قَالَ: لا بَأْسَ! مَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلا وَیُحِبُّ أَنْ یَظْهَرَ لَهُ فِی النَّاسِ الخَیْرُ إِذَا لَمْ یَکُنْ صَنَعَ ذَلِکَ لِذَلِکَ.

Zurarah reports that he questioned Imam al-Baqir (A) about the status of a person who performed good deeds, which were seen by others and it made him happy. Said the Imam (A): There is no harm in it; there is no one who does not like that his good deeds be made known to the people, in case he does not perform them [solely] for the sake of attracting their admiration.(1)

In one of the two ahadith, the tendency of performing good deeds for the sake of earning respect and admiration is considered as the sign of riya’, while in another hadith it is stated that there is no harm in the joy resulting from the demonstration of a good deed. These two different positions are taken in view of the category to which an individual belongs. There are certain other reasons also for such a view, but we shall abstain from mentioning them.

What Is Sum’ah?

At the end, it is to be noted that sum’ah means to orally transmit one’s good qualities to the ears of people for the purpose of attracting them and publicizing oneself, and this tendency is a branch of the vicious tree of riya’. For the same reason we have dealt with sum’ah as a part of riya’, not as a distinct vice, and have not elaborated its meaning separately.

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 297.

Third Hadith: Self-Conceit (‘Ujb)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ أَسْبَاطٍ، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ عُمَرَ الحَلاّلِ، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ سُوَیْدٍ، عَنْ أَبِی الحَسَنِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُهُ عَنِ العُجْبِ الَّذِی یُفْسِدُ العَمَلَ، فَقَالَ: العُجْبُ دَرَجَاتٌ؛ مِنْهَا أَنْ یُزَیَّنَ لِلعَبْدِ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ فَیَرَاهُ حَسَناً فَیُعْجِبُهُ وَیَحْسَبُ أَنَّهُ یُحْسِنُ صُنْعاً. وَمِنْهَا أَنْ یُؤْمِنَ العَبْدُ بِرَبِّهِ فَیَمُنُّ عَلَی اللهِ عَز َّوَجَلَّ وَاللهُ عَلَیْهِ فِیهِ المَنُّ.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (al-Kulayni) from ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from ‘Ali ibn Asbat, from Ahmad ibn ‘Umar al-Hallal, from ‘Ali ibn Suwayd from Abu al-Hasan (Imam al-Rida [A]): Says ‘Ali ibn Suwayd that he asked Abu al-Hasan (A) about the ‘Ujb (self-conceit, vanity) that vitiates the quality of human deeds. Said the Imam (A): There are several levels of ‘ujb, one of them is when one’s bad qualities appear to him as good; he reckons them as good ones and congratulates himself imagining that he is performing virtues. Another level of ‘ujb is represented by a person who believes in God and thinks that he has done a favor to God; whereas God Almighty has conferred a favor on him (by endowing him with faith).(1)

What Is ‘Ujb?

In the opinion of the ulama (R)(2)’ujb is magnification of one’s virtues and good deeds, their overestimation, and satisfaction with them accompanied with a feeling of superiority on their account, while one exonerates and exculpates himself from all failings and faults. But to feel pleasure and delight on performing virtuous deeds accompanied with a sense of humility

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p. 313.
2- For maintaining readability, (R) which is an acronym for “Radhiya allahu anhu(m)” is used throughout the book to denote “May God have mercy upon him/them.”

and modesty before God and gratitude to God for His favors, and to ask Him to increase them, is not ‘ujb, but is a praiseworthy (mamduh) trait. The great compiler of hadith, al-Allamah al-Majlisi, may his grave be filled with fragrance, quotes the great scholar and thinker al-Shaykh Baha’ al-Din al-Amili (R) as having said,

There is no doubt that when anyone performs good deeds, like fasting, night vigils, etc., he feels some kind of joy and pleasure within him. This pleasure and joy, if it is on account of the feeling that God Almighty has conferred on him favor and grace, which caused him to perform such acts of piety, while he is afraid of their loss and is anxious about their disappearance, and asks God Almighty for their continuity and abundance-this kind of exultation and gladness is not ‘ujb.

But if the exultation and pride is felt on account of the belief that he is the doer of such deeds and that it is he who possesses all such good qualities, and if he glorifies his own deeds with confidence in his goodness, considering himself to be free from all faults and vices, it reaches such a point that one believes that he is conferring some favor upon God in performing these deeds. This feeling of exultation and pride is ‘ujb.

In my opinion, this definition of ‘ujb is correct, but the deeds and actions referred to should be considered to include the external as well as the internal acts,

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and at the same time to apply both to good and bad actions. Because, while affecting the bodily or external actions ‘ujb also affects one’s inner (mental and spiritual) actions also and corrupts them. In the same way as a virtuous person may become conceited and vain about his good deeds, so also the doer of wicked deeds may think highly of his qualities, and feel proud of himself on their account. The tradition explicitly mentions both of them, as they are frequently ignored by a majority of men. We shall discuss them in the course of our discourse.

This should also be remembered that the delight which is considered to be different from ‘ujb and is reckoned among praiseworthy qualities, is according to its specific nature, as will be explained in the subsequent discussion.

‘Ujb has various degrees, as is also indicated by the hadith; the following are some of them:

First Degree: ‘Ujb with regard to faith and belief in true doctrines; its opposite is the ‘ujb in kufr (infidelity), shirk (polytheism), and fallacious creeds.

Second Degree: The ‘ujb in good traits and qualities, as opposed to the ‘ujb in moral vices and ugly qualities.

Third Degree: The ‘ujb in pious deeds and good actions, as opposed to the ‘ujb in abominable deeds and repulsive acts.

There are certain other degrees also, but they are not so significant as to be put in a separate class; we shall, by the help of the Almighty, discuss these three degrees of ‘ujb, their causes, the ways

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of their remedy and cure.

‘Ujb Of The Faithful

Among the above-mentioned states of ‘ujb, some of them can be clearly detected if one tries to discover them and pays a little attention and is vigilant; but some others, being very subtle and concealed, cannot be detected unless one is carefully critical of oneself and minutely analyzes one’s deeds and actions. Certain stages are more dangerous and fatal than the other stages.

The first and foremost stage which is the extreme and most fatal kind of ‘ujb is a state in which the person believes to have conferred a favor on his Supreme Benefactor, the King of kings, by having faith in Him, or by performing the duties enjoined by Him. He imagines that through his belief he has caused the boundaries of the kingdom of Heaven to expand, or he has contributed to the splendor and magnificence of the Religion of Truth by having faith in Him. He thinks that by propagating and disseminating His message, preaching His Shari’ah, His laws or His doctrine, or by enjoining good behavior and forbidding evil conduct or by implementing the hudud prescribed by Him, or by his sermons from the pulpit or his prayers in the niche, he is imparting a certain splendor and glory to His religion.

Or he also may think that by joining the congregation of Muslims, or by holding the mourning ceremonies to commemorate the tragedy of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom, he is glorifying the religion and hence doing a favor to God, to the

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Martyred Imam (A), and to the Prophet (S). Though he would not reveal it openly, but in his heart of hearts he may think in this manner. In the same way, while serving the creatures of God in matters prescribed or recommended by the religion-like giving of obligatory and recommended alms, helping and protecting the weak and the destitute-he thinks that he is putting them under obligation. Sometimes this feeling of doing a favor to them is so concealed that it is not known to the person himself (the subject of doing of favor to God by men and doing of favor to men by God has been discussed in detail in the second hadith).

At the second level is the state in which an individual is exultant in his heart taking a coquettish air before God. This attitude is different from the one of conferring a favor on God, though many people see no difference between these two states. In this state the individual considers himself as a favorite of God, and includes himself in the clan of the saintly and among those nearest to God. If he hears the names of saintly persons, of those near to God or those captivated by Divine love, he associates himself with them in his heart, although, overtly he makes a simulation of humility and tries to project an opposite image of himself.

In order to make credible his assumed role, he may act against his real belief in such a way, which appears

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to negate it, but in fact posits it by its very negation. If any misfortune comes to him, he blows trumpet ( البَلاءُ لِلوَلاءِ) of (lit. ‘misfortune in exchange for friendship’, which implies that the saintly are beset in hardships). Those people who claim being guides of others, urafa, mystics, and ascetics are susceptible to its dangers more than other people.

In the next state, the individual considers himself worthy of being rewarded by God Almighty in return for his faith, good behavior, and good deeds, and considers it obligatory on God to befriend him in this world and grant him higher stations in the Hereafter. He counts himself among the true believers and considers himself to be a pure, innocent, and pious being. Whenever a pious person is praised in his absence, he believes that even if God where to adjudge him with justice, he also would deserve to be rewarded. And sometimes, with utter shamelessness and brazenness, he dares to speak in such terms emphatically.

If a misfortune befalls him, or he faces any adversities, he complains about the ways of God in his heart and questions the justness of His actions that causes sufferings for the pious, the sincere, and the truthful, and showers His kindness and generosity upon the hypocrites (munafiq’un). He nurses the sentiments of resentment against God inside his heart, while apparently expressing the sense of gratification and satisfaction. He shifts the responsibility of his misfortunes to the Supreme Benefactor, and pretends to be happy

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and contented with His will and Judgment outwardly. And when he hears that God smites the believers in this world, he consoles his heart without knowing the fact that the munafiq’un are also smitten, and that every individual who is smitten is not a believer.

In the other stage of ‘ujb the individual considers himself as superior to others, and regards himself as better than other human beings. He considers himself to be more pious than others and considers his own faith to be sounder than that of other believers and immaculate. He considers himself to be more perfect and unfailing than others in the observance of the wajibat (compulsory duties) and the ‘muhrramat (prohibited things). He thinks himself to be more regular than others in the observance of mustahabbat (recommended religious precepts) and more regular in joining the Friday prayer congregation and other ceremonies and rites.

He considers himself to be superior to others and treats others as imperfect and insignificant beings. He views them disdainfully in his heart, or treats them with contempt. He excludes every individual from Divine grace and mercy, and considers them a right belonging to himself or to some people like him. The person who has reached this stage comes to a point when he denies whatever virtue he perceives in others and is disposed to regard its presence in others as disputable. Somehow he suspects the sincerity of their virtues in his heart and considers his own deeds as free from any kind of

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fault. He underrates others’ good deeds, but if he himself performs those deeds he magnifies them. He is sensitive to others’ errors, but overlooks his own faults.

These are some of the signs and symptoms of ‘ujb though one may be unaware of their presence in oneself. There are certain other stages of ‘ujb also which I did not mention, and there might be some others of which I am, unavoidably, unaware.

The ‘Ujb Of The Faithless

The bad deeds of unbelievers, hypocrites, polytheists, atheists, villains, sinners, and transgressors occasionally reach such a point when they become proud of their evil deeds and think highly of themselves. They, on account of their vicious beliefs and deeds, consider themselves to be men of liberal thinking and open minds, free from all fetters and bonds and free from superstitions. They consider themselves as men of courage and valor, link the faith and belief in God with superstition, and consider the observance of religious precepts as a kind of narrow-mindedness. They consider good character and moral behavior as signs of weakness of the personality. They look down on the performance of good deeds and observance of religious duties and rites as the signs of a weak mind and evidence of the lack of common sense.

They regard themselves as free-men, who, for not believing in nonsensical superstitions and indifference to religious rules, are worthy of praise. Wicked and vicious qualities having sunk down their roots within the deep layers of their hearts, and their eyes and ears having become accustomed

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to those acts, and they having gained great charm and grace in their eyes, they consider them as accomplishments. As pointed out in the hadith, at one stage bad deeds appear to be good to the evil person and he perceives them as virtues. This is all allusion to the verse of the Quran, which says:

﴿أَفَمَنْ زُیِّنَ لَهُ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ فَرَآهُ حَسَنًا.﴾

And what of him, the evil of whose deeds has been decked out fair to him, so that he thinks then good?... (35:8)

The words (وَیَحْسَبُ أَنَّهُ یُحْسِنُ صُنْعاً) (‘and he considers that he is doing something good’) refer to the following verse:

﴿قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُکُمْ بِالْأَخْسَرِینَ أَعْمَالًا. الَّذِینَ ضَلَّ سَعْیُهُمْ فِی الْحَیَاةِ الدُّنْیَا وَهُمْ یَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ یُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا. أُولَئِکَ الَّذِینَ کَفَرُوا بِآیَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلَا نُقِیمُ لَهُمْ یَوْمَ الْقِیَامَةِ وَزْنًا.﴾

Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers in their works? Those whose striving goes astray in the life of the world, while they think that they are doing something good. Those are they who disbelieve in the signs of their Lord and in the encounter with Him. Therefore their works have failed, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall not assign to them any weight. (18:103-5)

Such people, who are ignorant and negligent but consider themselves to be learned and aware, are the most wretched of human beings, or rather the most wretched of creatures. Spiritual doctors are incapable of curing them. No admonition or advice can have any influence on them, but can even

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produce opposite results. They do not listen to any argument. They do not pay any heed to the guidance of the prophets (A), the arguments of the philosophers, and the teachings of the great sages.

We should seek refuge in God from the mischief of the self, whose wiles draw men from sinfulness into infidelity and from infidelity into ‘ujb. The self and the Devil make people accustomed to a sin by diminishing the gravity of that sin. When that vice sends out its roots into the heart, it appears to be a very ordinary and trivial thing to the person, who commits another sin bigger than the one with which he has become familiar.

After committing this second sin repeatedly, it also casts away its gravity in his view and appears to be an ordinary thing, and he does not hesitate to commit a still bigger sin. In this way, step by step, all major sins become diminutive in his eyes, and the Divine laws of the Shari’ah, belittled by him, recede into insignificance. His evil deeds culminate in infidelity, apostasy, and ‘ujb. We shall take up this subject later on.

Snares And Wiles Of The Devil

In the same way as the victims of ‘ujb (who think highly of themselves), by advancing step by step in transgression and sinfulness, ultimately reach the stage of apostasy, in the same way those affected by ‘ujb in their devotional activities and worship also advance day by day from the lower stages of ‘ujb to its higher levels. The

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snares and designs of Satan and the self are not haphazard, but according to a calculated plan. It is not possible that the Devil would induce a God-fearing person of a clean character to commit a sin like murder or fornication, nor would he provoke a person possessing an honest nature and a pure soul to commit theft or a highway robbery. It is not the case that from the very first day he will ask you to consider your good deeds as a favor done to God or to include yourself in the category of the Divine saints, His favorite servants, and those nearest to Him.

In the beginning he starts at the bottom and in a low key. He steals into your heart and persuades you to be extremely careful and dedicated regarding the recommended duties (mustahabbat), prayers, and acts of piety. While you do this, he will turn your attention towards the sins of a certain sinner and will make you compare his deeds with your own. Then he will whisper into your ears that you have enough grounds, both on a rational as well as a religious basis, to consider yourself superior to that person.

Indeed your deeds will be the source of your redemption and that by the grace of God you are pious and pure and free from all vices. He achieves two things through these kind of insinuations: first, it inculcates a feeling of general distrusts regarding the creatures of God; second, it

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makes the person imbued with a feeling of self-satisfied conceit. Both of these qualities are destructive and the sources of various vices and evils.

At this juncture, you should tell your self and the Devil that it is possible that this person who is guilty of committing that sin may possess other good qualities unknown to you or might have performed certain good deeds for which God may bless him with His grace and mercy, and the light of his good deeds and good qualities may guide him and ultimately lead him to deliverance. Perhaps God Almighty has afflicted him with this sin, so as to protect him from ‘ujb, which is worse than sin. It is said in a hadith of al-Kafi:

عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إِنَّ اللهَ عَلِمَ أَنَّ الذَّنْبَ خَیْرٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ مِنَ العُجْبِ، وَلَوْلا ذَلِکَ لَمَا ابْتُلِیَ مُؤْمِنٌ بِذَنْبٍ أَبَداً.

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (A) said: Verily God Almighty knows that sin is better for a mu’min (a true believer) than ‘ujb. If it was not thus, He would not have afflicted any mu’min with sin.(1)

Maybe on account of the same mistrust in others, my acts will lead me to a miserable life in the Hereafter. Our great master, the accomplished ‘arif, Shahabadi- r’uhi fidah- used to say, ‘Do not look down on even a kafir (non-believer) in your heart. It is possible that the divine light of his inner nature may lead him to faith and your rebuke and disdain may lead you towards a wretched life

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1- Al-Kafi, vol. II, p. 313.

in the Hereafter. Of course to practice al amr bi al-ma’r-uf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munhar (enjoining right conduct and forbidding bad behavior) is something different from the inner feeling of contempt.’

He would even say, ‘Never curse the unbelievers regarding whom it is not known that they will leave the world in the state of unbelief. If they leave the world as rightly-guided servants of God, their spiritual rectitude may prove to be an obstruction in the way of your own spiritual advancement.’ In any case, beware that the Devil and the carnal self make man enter the preliminary stages of ‘ujb; and from this place, step by step, they slowly take him to higher stages of ‘ujb, and in this way, in degrees, they lead man to the wretched state in which he thinks that he is conferring a favor on God by having faith in Him and performing virtuous deeds. This is the final stage of ‘ujb.

The Evil Effects Of ‘Ujb

Know that ‘ujb in itself is a destructive and dangerous vice which spoils the faith and the deeds. In answer to the question by the narrator of the tradition about ‘ujb which corrupts human deeds, the Imam (A) mentions the ‘ujb in faith as one of its forms. We have read in the previous tradition that ‘ujb is considered by God Almighty to be something worse than sin, so much so that He makes a believer commit sin so that he may be saved from ‘ujb. The Holy Prophet (S) has reckoned

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‘ujb as one of the greatest of spiritual dangers. In al-’Amali of Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Imam ‘Ali (A) has been reported to have said:

مَنْ دَخَلَهُ العُجْبُ هَلَکَ.

The one into whose heart ‘ujb permeates is destined to be destroyed.

After death and in the purgatory (barzakh), the possessor of this evil experiences a dreadful loneliness, which is incomparable and unimaginable; in an advice given by the Prophet (S) before his death to Imam ‘Ali (A). he says:

وَلا وَحْدَةَ أَوْحَشُ مِنَ العُجْبِ.

No loneliness can be compared in dreadfulness to the one, which is the result of ‘ujb.

Moses (A) asked Satan to tell him about the sin by means of which he infiltrates into the hearts of the progeny of Adam (A) and conquers them. Satan replied, it is the time when they feel ‘ujb about themselves, overestimate their good deeds and the gravity of their sins becomes diminutive in their eyes.

God Almighty commanded David (A) to convey ‘glad tiding to the sinners and to terrify the pious.’ David (A) asked God as to why he should convey glad tiding to sinners and frighten the pious. Replied God Almighty, ‘Give glad tidings to the sinners that verily I accept their repentance and forgive their sins, and frighten and warn the pious that they should refrain from ‘ujb. Verily there is not a single man who does not stand condemned if I bring him to account.’

I seek refuge in God from the rigors of His reckoning, which if applied would completely ruin the sincere servants of

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God and even those belonging to a higher station.

In his al-Khisal, al-Shaykh al-Saduq reports from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said: The Devil says: If I subdue the son of Adam in three things I do not care for whatever he may do, as his good deeds will not be accepted: (1) when he overestimates his good deeds, (2) is forgetful about his sins, and (3) when ‘ujb permeates him.

Apart from the vices which belong to this vicious tree of ‘ujb, about which you have read, there are a number of major sins and evil traits that are its products. When its roots permeate the human heart, they lead men to apostasy and shirk, and things even worse than these. One of those vices is the vice of belittling of one’s sins. A person afflicted with ‘ujb never cares to rectify himself; rather, he considers. himself as a pious and virtuous person, and never thinks of purging himself from sins. The curtain of ‘ujb and the thick veil of conceit prevents him from seeing his shortcomings.

It is a great misfortune, which not only precludes him from achieving all kinds of perfections, but also afflicts him with all sorts of vices, leading him to eternal damnation. Even the doctors of the psyche are helpless in curing them. He has so much confidence in himself and in the deeds he performs that he thinks himself as independent of God Almighty, and does not care for His grace. In his limited mind,

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he considers God obliged to reward him. He imagines that he is worthy of being rewarded even if God were to reckon his deeds with justice. God willing, we shall take up this matter again later.

Contempt Of Others

Among other vices present in the person who is afflicted with ‘ujb is that of viewing others with contempt. He considers their deeds as insignificant, however superior they may be to his own. This is also one of the ways of human destruction, and a peril on the path of true humanness.

Temptation To Riya’

Another of the evil effects of ‘ujb is that man becomes inclined towards riya’ (ostentation, hypocrisy). Because, when a person considers his deeds insignificant and regards himself as morally imperfect and his faith as of no consequence, then, he would not be proud of himself, or his qualities and deeds.

Considering himself and everything that is done by him as deformed and unworthy, he will not make a display of them; soiled and ugly goods are not put up for show in a prestigious market. But, since, he perceives himself as a perfect human and his own deeds as good and worthy, he is encouraged to make a show of them, and hence behave so imprudently. The vices which have been mentioned in the second tradition about riya’ are applicable to ‘ujb also.

The Factor Of Pride

Another ill effect of this vice is that it manifests itself in the form of another fatal disease that is, the sin of pride (of which we shall have to say

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more later) and other vices, which are direct or indirect products of it. A full treatment of all of them would make our discussion lengthy it is enough to mention it that a person afflicted with ‘ujb should know that this vice sows the seeds of many other vices and serves as the source of such offences, each one of which is enough for earning everlasting damnation by itself. If one tries to properly understand these vices, and studies the traditions and teachings handed down by the Prophet (S), or the Imams of his household (A), he will realize the necessity of rectifying his self, and will seek to get rid of this vice before, God forbid, he carries it with him to the next world.

If this happens, once his eyes are closed on this world and opened to world of barzakh and, thereafter, to the Day of Resurrection, he will see that the persons who committed major sins are better off than him. He will see that God Almighty has immersed them in the ocean of His grace and mercy ‘for the remorse and penitence that they expressed, or for the sake of the trust and confidence that they had in the grace and compassion of the Almighty; whereas this poor fellow, since he had considered himself as not in need of His grace and had believed himself, in the depth of his being, to be above needing His compassion and mercy, God Almighty has dealt with him

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rigorously in regard to his account, and as he himself wished his account is being examined in the scales of justice.

God Almighty will show him that he not only did not perform any worship for His sake, but also that his works of devotion and piety only took him away from God and have removed him away from his goal. Not only his faith and deeds have been invalid, but they have also served as the cause of eternal damnation and painful chastisement in hell. God forbid, lest God Almighty judges anybody with the criteria of His justice, because, as mentioned previously, not a single individual, from the first to the last, will find any way of redemption.

The prayers and supplications of His chosen servants and the infallible Imams (A) are replete with the confessions of their failure to do justice to the demands of the worship and the service of Lord. While the most perfect of all creatures and the man nearest to God (i.e. the Prophet [S]) utters:

مَا عَرِفْنَاکَ حَقَّ مَعْرِفَتِکَ وَلا عَبَدْنَاکَ حَقَّ عِبَادَتِکَ.

We did not know You as You deserve to be known. We did not worship You as You deserve to be worshipped.

what will others do? Of course, they were aware of His greatness and they knew the relation between the contingent and the Necessary Being perfectly well. They knew that if they spent their lives in His worship, service, and praise, they would not be able to thank Him for His favors,

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let alone paying the proper tribute due to His Essence and Attributes.

They knew that no thing does possess anything of its own. Life, power, knowledge and other accomplishments are shadows of His attributes. Every contingent being is absolutely poor in every respect, a dependent shadow not an independent ‘thing’. What merits does a contingent being possess that it could seek to market them? What power does it possess to make a display of it? They (the Prophet and the Imams) possess the knowledge of God; they have the cognition of His Attributes of beauty and grandeur.

They are the people who have realized, with certainty, their own abjectness, imperfection, and weakness and the perfection of the Necessary Being, through immediate knowledge. It is we, wretched creatures, whose vision is blotted because of the thick veils of ignorance, folly, neglect, and conceit, and whose faculties of intellect, hearing, sight, and other senses are shrouded with veils of inward and outward sins, who behave with pretensions in front of the Almighty and consider ourselves as independent beings.

O you, ephemeral, contingent being! You, who are forgetful of your own self and are oblivious of the relation between you and your Creator. O you unfortunate dependent being! You have forgotten your duty towards the King of kings! This ignorance and foolishness on our part is responsible for all our misfortunes and has engulfed us in the midst of all these woes and disasters. There is a source of all these evils. The source of

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contamination is the fountain itself. We have lost our sense of perception and our hearts have become lifeless. This is the root cause, of all our afflictions, and yet we are not worried about the cure either.

God Almighty, grant us the capacity to realize our responsibilities. Grant us a share of the light of Your knowledge with which You filled the hearts of Your urafa and awliya’ Grant us the comprehension of the realm of Thy power and Thy kingdom, and guide us to discover our weaknesses and faults. Unfold the mystery of the meaning of (الحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ العَالَمِینَ) —All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds— to us, wretched beings, who ascribe all the praiseworthy attributes to the creatures. Make it known to us that none of the praiseworthy attributes belongs to any created being . Reveal to us the truth of:

﴿مَا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنْ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ سَیِّئَةٍ فَمِنْ نَفْسِکَ.﴾

Whatever of good befalleth thee (O man), it is from Allah, and whatever or ill befalleth thee it is from thyself. (4: 79)

Inscribe the principle of tawhid (unity of the Divine Being) on the crude tablets of our hardened heart. We are the people of dark realms who languish behind several veils, wavering between apostasy and hypocrisy. We are conceited and egoistic. Purge away the evil of self- love and the love of mundane thins from our hearts and convert us into Your lovers and worshippers:

﴿إنَّکَ عَلَی کُلِّ شَیْءٍ قَدِیرٌ.﴾

Verily, Thou art able to

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do all things.

Self-Love As The Source Of ‘Ujb

The vice of ‘ujb is the product of self-love; since the human being is plagued with the evil of self-love, it is the source of all human faults and moral vices. It is on account of this self-love that man overvalues his trivial deeds and hence includes himself in the category of the saintly and the nearest to God. Because of it, he not only considers himself applaudable and commendable on the basis of those paltry deeds, but sometimes even reckons his wicked deeds as good ones. If he perceives moral goodness and piety in others more than himself, he not only never gives any importance to them, but tries to project them in grim colors as far as possible.

He is disposed to see a kind of goodness even in his own wicked deeds, and tends to paint them in glowing colors. He scorns other creatures of God in his heart and views them cynically, while he contemplated himself with optimism, having a-very high opinion of himself. It is on account of this same self-love that he hopes a trivial act of his, and that too tainted with one thousand defilements, to be worthy of being rewarded by God.

It is better if today we reflect upon our good deeds, and rationally evaluate our worships. We should try to judge them justly, and see whether we deserve to be rewarded and praised on their basis, or if we should be reproached, punished, and condemned because of them. And

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if God Almighty were to deliver us into the flames of His wrath on account of these deeds, which are good and virtuous in our own view, is He justified or not in doing so?

Now I make you arbiter to judge with justice the following matter after deliberation and profound thinking. My question is that if the Holy Prophet (S), whose truthfulness is confirmed, were to say to you, ‘It makes no difference in afterlife whether you worship God throughout your life, obey His commands, and resist lusts and carnal desires, or if you lead a life violating His commands and following your wishes and sensual desires. This behavior of yours will not affect your station in the Hereafter. In both cases you will attain salvation and will be sent to Paradise and saved from His chastisement.

It will not make any difference whether you offer prayers or whether you indulge in fornication and sin. However, the good pleasure of God Almighty lies in this that you should worship Him, praise Him and thank Him, and resist your sensual desires in this world, although you will not be rewarded for it.’ Were you offered this option, would you choose to be His worshipper or a sinner?

Would you resist your carnal desires and forbid yourself from indulging in lusts for the sake of His good pleasure, or not? And would you still adhere to the mustahabbat, the Friday and the congregational prayer, or would you become immersed in luxuries, play,

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amusements, and lusts? I request you to answer justly, without any self-assumption and hypocrisy. As to myself and others like me, let me tell you, we would have been among the sinners, neglecting our duties towards Him and hankering after our sensual appetites.

From this, we come to the conclusion that all our deeds serve as the means for satisfying our desires and gratifying the carnal appetites. We are the worshippers of our flesh. We give up one pleasure for the sake of a bigger one. Our desired goal, our relentless hope is to widen the scope of sensual achievements. Salat, which is a means of acquiring nearness to Him, we perform in the hope of the company of the houris of Paradise. Our worship is not aimed at acquiring nearness to the Almighty. It has nothing to do with the obedience of His command either, and is thousands of miles away from the good pleasure of God.

You, poor fellow, ignorant of the Divine teachings, you who cannot comprehend anything except your own bestial motives, you who take pride in your resorting to His remembrance, chanting of His Name, observance of the obligatory and recommended religious duties, avoidance of prohibited and abominable things, you who take recourse in refined morals and abstain from the unlawful and the abominable, put in the scales of justice all the acts that you have performed for obtaining sensual ends, and for the purpose of reclining on seats studded with rubies in the Paradise, in the

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midst of cheerful and charming rewards of Paradise, wearing silk and brocade, and occupying magnificent mansions therein and for realizing your hopes -is it just to think that all these actions, which are performed for the sake of satisfying our ego and the fulfillment of the self, are being performed for the sake of God and for His adulation alone? You, who are performing your deeds in the hope of receiving fair rewards, are you different in any respect from a laborer who toils for wages but says that he works solely for the master? Are you not a liar when you say that you perform prayers for the sake of God?

Is your salat meant for the sake of acquiring nearness to God, or for the sake of the company of the houris of Paradise and for sensual ends? Let me state openly without any reservations that all such prayers that we perform are considered by urafa and the friends of God as equivalent to major sins. You, wretched creature, you act against the good pleasure of God Almighty in the presence of the archangels, and the worships that are meant for making an ascension near to Him, you are misusing them for satisfying your carnal self; yet you do not feel any sense of shame for the lies uttered in front of the Almighty and His archangels during your prayers.

And as if this were not enough, you made several accusations, thinking as if you were obliging God, exulting

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in your ‘ujb, and not feeling any sense of shame or regret while doing all this! What is the difference between this kind of worship performed by you and me, and the sinful acts of the sinners, the extreme form of which is riya’?

Riya’ is a kind of shirk, and its ugliness and gravity lies in worship being not for the sake of God, not meant for God. All our worships and devotional exercises are sheer shirk, which does not contain a speck of sincerity. The aim of earning the good pleasure of God does not play even a partial role in it, but the only motive is gratification of lust and service of the stomach.

My friend, beware that the prayer performed for the sake of a feminine mate, whether this-worldly or other-worldly, is not the prayer performed for God. The prayer, which is performed for the attainment of worldly benefits or for acquiring the other-worldly rewards is not for God. If so, where is the room for self-pride and conceit? What right do you have for looking down upon the creatures of God and for counting yourself as someone of consequence in the court of the Almighty? Wretched man, you deserve punishment for this prayer and devotion of yours and for it you deserve to be chained by the seventy cubit chain. Why consider yourself as a person deserving a reward then?

Why procure another chastisement for yourself by continuing in this absurd expectation and by persisting in ‘ujb?

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Perform the duties assigned to you properly and keep in your mind that your worship is not purely for the sake of God; and if God Almighty sends you to heaven by His mercy and compassion, remember that He has given a waiver to His servants for a certain kind of shirk in view of their infirmity. By means of His forgiving compassion, He covers their sins with a concealing screen.

Do not let this screen to be ripped off and the curtain of His remission to be raised from the face of those vices, which we wrongfully call, worship. God forbid, if that waiver were withdrawn and our deeds are adjudged according to the standards of justice, remember this that our false worships are not less fouler than the mortal sins of the sinners. Earlier we referred to a tradition narrated by Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni, in his book al-Kafi, on the authority of Imam al Sadiq (A); here I am copying a part of it verbatim in order to draw upon its blessing (barakah):

عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِدَاوُدَ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: یَا دَاوُدُ بَشِّرِ المُذْنِبِینَ وَأَنْذِرِ الصِّدِّیقِینَ. قَالَ: کَیْفَ أُبَشِّرُ المُذْنِبِینَ وَأُنْذِرُ الصِّدِّیقِینَ؟ قَالَ: یَا دَاوُدُ بَشِّرِ المُذْنِبِینَ بِأَنِّی أَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ وَأَعْفُو عَنِ الذَّنْبِ، وَأَنْذِرِ الصِّدِّیقِینَ أَنْ لا یُعْجَبُوا بِأَعْمَالِهِمِ، فَإنَّهُ لَیْسَ عَبْدٌ یَتَعَجَّبُ بِالحَسَنَاتِ إلا هَلَکَ.

Imam Ja’far al Sadiq (A) reports from the Prophet (S) that he said: God Almighty-said to David (A), “O David give

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good news unto the sinners and warn the righteous.” Said David (A), “How should I give good news unto the sinners and warn the righteous?” Said the Almighty, “O David, give good news to -the sinners that I accept their repentance, and warn the righteous that they should not have ‘ujb (self admiration) for their acts, for there is no servant who does not stand doomed when I take an account of his deeds (and deserve chastisement, since, according to the requirements of justice, a man with all his worship cannot thank God properly even for one of His favors).

While the righteous, who are free from sins, deserve to be condemned after a fair trial, what will be the fate of people like you and me? And that too if our deeds be pure and free from worldly riya’; a verboten quality, of which there is very little chance. Now be proud if there is an occasion for being proud and feeling ‘ujb; but if you realize that it is an occasion for being ashamed and hanging the head in shame and making confession of our sin after every worship, then repent before the Almighty for uttering those solemn lies, and for falsely assigning those virtues to ourselves. Does it not call for repentance when you make this declaration in front of God. While standing for prayer:

﴿وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِی لِلَّذِی فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِیفًا وَمَا أَنَا مِنْ الْمُشْرِکِینَ. إِنَّ صَلَاتِی وَنُسُکِی وَمَحْیَای وَمَمَاتِی لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِینَ.﴾

I have turned my face,

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in sincerity and submission, towards Him who created the heavens and earth, and I am not of the mushrikun (those who include others while worshipping God, i.e., polytheists). Verily, my prayer and my worship, my living and my dying, are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Is your face really turned towards the Creator of the heaven and earth? Are you really a ‘Muslim’ and free from the dirt of shirk? Is your prayer and worship, your living and dying really for God? Shouldn’t we feel some shame while uttering; this sentence in our prayer:

﴿الحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ العَالَمِینَ.﴾

All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Do you sincerely consider all laudable qualities to be derived from God, while you pay tribute not only to His creatures but also to His enemies? Is it not a lie to apparently admit that God is رَبُّ العَالَمِینَ (The Lord of the Worlds), while practically you subscribe to the authority and lordship of the other-than-God?

Is there any inkling of shame and repentance in your heart, while you utter:

﴿إِیَّاکَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِیَّاکَ نَسْتَعِینُ.﴾

Thee alone we worship; Thee alone we ask for help?

Do you truly worship God, or worship your own flesh? Do you actually seek God, or aspire for the houris? Do you seek help from God alone? In your deeds, do you consider God alone? When you go to perform Hajj of the Bayt Allah (the Holy Ka’bah) is God the only goal and end? And is the Master of the House your only

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pursuit, as the poet says:

وَمَا حُبُّ الدِّیَارِ شَغَفْنَ قَلْبِی وَلَکِنْ حُبُّ مَنْ سَکَنَ الدِّیَارا

It is not the dwelling that attracts my heart,

But he who dwells in it draws my heart.

Are you in search of God, and desire for His beatific vision? Do you hold the majalis (mourning ceremonies for Imam al-Husayn [A]) and beat your head and breast for his sake, or for the sake of the fulfillment of your wishes and desires? Is it not your selfish desires, which motivate you to hold majalis, to join congregational prayers, and to perform devotional rituals?

My brother, be cautious regarding the guiles of the self and Satan, who do not want your pieties to be taintless, and if they might be accepted by God by His grace, despite their taint, the Devil and the carnal self do not desire them to reach their final destination. Through misplaced ‘ujb and improper pride they bring all your deeds to nothing, and the little benefit that you aimed at is also not obtained. Having lost His good pleasure, even the hopes of houris will come to nothing.

Now having lost everything eternal damnation in the flames of hell does not seem distant. By means of your faulty, rotten actions tainted with riya’, sum’ah, and a thousand other vices, each one of which is enough for preventing our deeds from being accepted, you imagined to have done God a favor, having become His beloved servant. Poor fellow, you, who cannot comprehend the state of His beloved

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servants and the fire that is kindled in their hearts, you unlucky wretch with your little knowledge of their heartfelt sincerity and the bright radiance emanating from their glorious deeds, do you think that their deeds are similar to yours and mine?

Do you think that the salat of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (A) differed from ours only in the manner of uttering (وَلا الضَّالِّینَ) in the correct pronunciation of some words, or in the prolongation of prostrations and profusion of raka’at, prayers, and supplication? Do you imagine that my prayer differs from his only in the number of rak’ah’s-a few hundred every night? Are the prayers and the supplications of Imam Sayyid al-Sajidin (A) (the Fourth Imam) are similar to the mutterings of yours and mine? Do you think he moaned and sobbed for the sake of houris or pomegranates or pears of Paradise like us?

I swear by him-and indeed it is a great oath-that even if all of us come together and try to say one (لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللهُ) —There is no god except God— in the manner of Amir al-Mu’minin (A), we will not be able to do so. Dust be upon my head, I and my little knowledge of the high station of Imam ‘Ali (A)! I swear by the station of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (A) that even if all the archangels and all the prophets of God, except the Seal of the Prophets (S), who is the lord of ‘Ali (A) and all

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others, if they try to utter a single takbir (i.e. Allahu Akbar, ‘God is very great’) of ‘Ali’s, they will not be able to do it. The inner state of their hearts is known only to themselves and is unknown to others .

My friend! do not babble so much about God. Do not exaggerate your love for God. O ‘arif! O Sufi! O philosopher! O mujahid! O ascetic! O faqih! O believer! O sage! you poor ensnared wretches! You unfortunate creatures entangled in the snares of the self and its desires! You helpless creatures bewildered in the perplexities of false hopes, aspirations and self-love! You, who are all wretched, being thousands of miles removed from true godliness and love of God. Do not have such a good opinion of yourselves. Do not be so boastful and proud of yourselves. Ask your heart whether it is in search of God or whether it is in love with itself. Is it a monotheist (muwahhid) and devotee of the One, or a mushrik (polytheist) or a dualist?

What for this ‘ujb, then? What does this exultation mean? Even if, supposedly, these acts of yours fulfill all the conditions and requirements, and are free from riya’, shirk, ‘ujb and other vices, isn’t their goal acquirement of sensual ends? What merit do they possess that you consider them to be worthy of being presented before the angels? These acts are to be concealed from the sights of people. These acts, which are exercises in impudence

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and vulgarity, shouldn’t we shameful of them and think of doing something to cover up these abominable performances?

God! We seek refuge in Thee from the mischief of Satan and the guiles of al-nafs al-’ammarah (the carnal self). You Yourself protect us from their wiles for the sake of Muhammad (S) and his Progeny (A).

Fourth Hadith: Pride (Kibr)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِیسَی، عَنْ یُونُسَ، عَنْ أَبَانَ، عَنْ حَکِیمٍ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ عَنْ أَدْنَی الإلْحَادِ، فَقَالَ: إنَّ الکِبَرَ أَدْنَاهُ.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (al-Kulayni) from ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim, from Muhammad ibn ‘Isa, from Yunus, from Aban, from Hakim; who says: I asked Abu ‘Abd Allah (Imam al-Sadiq) (A) as to the lowest degree of ilhad (apostasy). He answered, “Verily kibr (pride) is its lowest degree.”(1)

What Is Kibr?

Kibr is the name of a psychic state in which a person feels a sense of superiority and behaves high-handedly with others. Its signs are discernible in his actions and its symptoms are clearly noticed by others by which they know that he is proud. Kibr is something different from ‘ujb, and, as mentioned earlier, this vice is the offspring and fruit of the tree of ‘ujb. ‘Ujb consists of self-love and conceit, and the meaning of kibr is to consider oneself superior to others. When someone perceives a merit in himself and is overcome by a sense of pleasure, exultation, and vanity, that state is called ‘ujb.

And when he considers others to be lacking in the imagined

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Hajj Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), pp. 421-422.

merit within himself, he perceives himself to be superior. This perception of superiority and supremacy over others causes in him a state of vanity, which is pride. Kibr, in this sense, is an inner state, and when its effects are reflected in his behavior and his speech, it is called takabbur. In short, the self-indulgent person becomes self-seeking, and his self seeking tendency grows into self-love, and when this self-love is filled to the brim it manifests itself as haughtiness and high-handed treatment of others.

Here, it is necessary to mention that the psychic traits, whether vices and infirmities or virtues and accomplishments, are extremely complicated and complex matters. It becomes extremely difficult to discern one from the other. On account of this, there is often a great difference of opinion even among great scholars in precisely defining them and it may be impossible to give a faultless definition of inner states. Therefore, it is better for us to leave this matter to the inner conscience of individuals and not to entangle ourselves in the maze of finding precise definitions, and turn attention to our main purpose.

Kinds And Degrees Of Kibr

It should be noted that there are different degrees of kibr, similar to the stages and degrees that were mentioned during the discussion about ‘ujb. However, there were some stages that could be mentioned with regard to ‘ujb, but since they were not so important in that context we abstained from mentioning them. Yet it is important to mention those stages in the context of

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kibr. But at first let us note that the stages of kibr, similar to those of ‘ujb, are six in number:

1. Kibr on account of possessing true faith and belief.

2. As opposed to it is the pride in invalid faith and false belief .

3. Pride on account of good qualities and praiseworthy attributes.

4. Pride in moral vices and undesirable qualities.

5. Pride in one’s righteous deeds and devotional exercises.

6. Pride in sinful and wicked deeds.

It is possible that each one of these stages may be caused by the equivalent degree of ‘ujb present in one’s soul, or it may have some other reason, which we shall discuss afterwards. For the time being, of our main concern here are the external factors as sources of pride- like the pride in one’s family, descent, wealth, status, position, and the like. Following that, God willing, we shall discuss the evils of this vice and their remedies, according to my ability. And I implore God’s help and assistance in making it effective upon others as well as my own self.

There are certain other aspects and levels of kibr when considered in another perspective. They are: (1) kibr towards God; (2) kibr towards His prophets, messengers, and awliya’ (3) kibr in regard to the Divine Commandments, which also amounts to kibr towards God; (4) kibr towards the creatures of God, which, too, according to the urafa, amounts to kibr towards God.

As to the kibr towards God, it is the most abominable, the most destructive, and the

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highest degree of pride, and is present in infidels, those who contest God’s authority, and those who make claims to divinity. Sometimes its traces are seen among some men of faith as well (whose description is not appropriate here). This kind of kibr signifies the extreme of ignorance and the absence of knowledge about one’s limits and the majesty of the Necessary Being.

As to the kibr towards the prophets and awliya’ of God, it was an attitude, which was more prevalent during their own days, and the Quran reports about it in this verse:

﴿أَنُؤْمِنُ لِبَشَرَیْنِ مِثْلِنَا؟﴾

Shall we put faith in two mortals like ourselves? (23:47)

And someone from his people is reported to have said (about the Prophet [ S ]):

﴿لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ هَذَا الْقُرْآنُ عَلَی رَجُلٍ مِنْ الْقَرْیَتَیْنِ عَظِیمٍ.﴾

If only this Quran had been revealed to some great man of the two towns. [i.e. Makkah and al-Ta’if] (43:31)

During the early days of Islam, the instances of such pride towards the awliya’ of God were very frequent, examples of which are still manifested in the behavior of some professors of Islam.

As to the kibr towards the commands of God, it is seen among some sinners, such as those who abstain from performing Hajj as they do not consider the dress of ihram appropriate for themselves; abstain from salat because they consider the state of prostration as not in accordance with their position and status. Such kind of pride is sometimes seen among persons of faith, devotees, and scholars who abstain from adhan

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on account of it.

Similarly there are those who would not accept a word of truth if it comes from anybody belonging to the same status as themselves, or lower. Sometimes it happens that one hears something from his colleagues or friends, and vehemently rejects it and derides the speaker, but he readily agrees with it when it is uttered by someone superior to him in religious or worldly status. It is even possible that he would accept it with the same seriousness with which he had rejected it earlier.

This person is not a seeker of truth, but his pride has drawn a curtain over the truth, to which his obsequiousness has blinded and deafened him. It is the same kind of pride, which prevents a scholar from teaching a certain subject or a certain text because he considers it below his dignity, or dissuades him from giving lessons to persons devoid of any outwardly significant position. Or one may stand away from a small mosque attended by a small number of persons for the same reasons despite knowing that the pleasure of God lies in his doing so. Sometimes the traces of pride are so subtle that the person who is afflicted by this evil, unless he is careful and serious about correcting himself, cannot know that his actions testify to the presence of kibr in his character.

As to the kibr towards the creatures of God, kibr towards men of divine knowledge and scholars is the worst form

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of it, and its evil effects are graver and its harms more serious than of any other type of kibr. Of this category of kibr is the pride, which avoids the company of poor people and seeks out prominence in gatherings and meetings, and displays itself on the road and in one’s carriage. Yet this evil is prevalent and inflicts all the classes of society; from the elite to the class of ulama and scholars of hadith; from the rich to the poor and deprived classes; no one can elude it, except for those whom God Almighty saves.

Sometimes it is so difficult to discern between humbleness and humility aimed at popularizing oneself, and between pride and self-containedness, that one should seek refuge in God Almighty, that He may guide us on the right path. If one is eager to reform oneself and tries to reach one’s goal, the Holy God guides him with His infinite mercy on the right path and eases one’s journey on this path.

The Causes Of Kibr

There are various causes of kibr, but all of them derive from the delusion, which occurs when men imagine themselves to possess some kind of excellence. This illusion leads to ‘ujb, which, blending with self-love, conceals others’ merits and virtues from their eyes. When that happens, the afflicted individual believes others to be inferior to himself and begins to cherish a feeling of self-esteem in his heart, as well as manifesting a similar demeanor.

For instance, one may find an individual among the

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ulama and urafa who considers himself to be a visionary and a man of mystic knowledge and insight, classing himself in the category of saintly persons with a high record of good deeds. Such persons make an absurdly ostentatious show of their superiority over others, dismissing the hukama’ and philosophers as nuts, the fuqaha’ and muhaddithun as superficial bums, and all ordinary people as subhuman creatures and beasts.

They scorn and look down on all the creatures of God; while claiming to follow the dictum of فناء فی الله and بقاء فی الله they beat the drum of their truth-seeking, whereas the Divine teachings require of them to contemplate the creatures of God with goodwill and optimism when the least knowledge of God demands that he should not scorn these manifestations of His Glory and Beauty.

He himself would affirm this while speaking about Divine teachings, pronouncing something, which contradicts his own inner state. Yet this happens because those teachings have not penetrated his heart. The poor fellow has not attained even the station of a true believer, yet he often speaks of ‘irfan. Although ‘irfan has not touched him, he claims to have realized the ultimate Truth.

Among philosophers, too, there are such persons who consider themselves to be in possession of the proofs and knowledge of certain truth. They class themselves among men of certain knowledge of God who possess confirmed belief in angels and scriptures; yet they look down on others in disdain. They dismiss all other sciences

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as fiction and all human beings as defective in faith and knowledge, viewing them with haughty contempt in their hearts as well as their arrogant demeanor, whereas the knowledge of the majesty of the Lord and the utter destitution of the ephemeral creature (that he is), necessitates an opposite behavior. The truly wise (hukama’) are those whose knowledge of the secrets of human origin and end makes them modest and humble-God Almighty had bestowed upon Luqman the gift of wisdom; yet the Quran reports of him as saying to his son:

﴿وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّکَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِی الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا یُحِبُّ کُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ.﴾

Turn not thy cheek in scorn toward people, nor walk with pertness on the earth. Verily, God loveth not any braggart boaster. (31:18)

Sometimes such people are found among those who claim to be mystic masters and guides of consummate inner purity, yet, they treat the common people with pride and look down on fuqaha’, ulama and their followers, and speak disparagingly of philosophers and hukama’. They consider everyone except themselves and their associates as doomed creatures. Since they themselves lack in knowledge and learning, they consider knowledge a thorn in the path of spiritual journey, and those who possess it are considered by them as devils who mislead the wayfarers in their inward journey, although their own claims to high spiritual station would tend to contradict such a viewpoint.

A spiritual guide of people must himself be free from all kinds of mortal and destructive

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sins and qualities; one who claims the capacity to guide the astray should have transcended the narrowness of mundane existence and its attachments, being absorbed in the beatific vision of His Glory. He should not be haughty and disdainful towards the creatures of God.

Also among the class of fuqaha’, scholars of fiqh and hadith and the students of these sciences sometimes such people are seen who view other people with scorn and treat them high-handedly, considering themselves to be worthy of every praise and appreciation. They think that everybody should obey their commands without any hesitation, and apply the following criterion to themselves:

﴿لَا یُسْأَلُ عَمَّا یَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ یُسْأَلُونَ.﴾

He (i.e. God) will not be questioned as to that which He does, but they will be questioned. (21:23)

Except for themselves and a handful of persons like themselves, they do not consider anybody to be fit to enter Paradise. Whenever something is spoken about other field of learning, they dismiss it with scorn. They unhesitatingly reject every other discipline except their own field- of which they possess very little knowledge-considering it not only unworthy of study but destructive. They denounce the scholars of other sciences due to their own ignorance. They present their own views as if their religiosity necessitates such a contempt, whereas knowledge and religion are free from such prejudices.

The Shari’ah forbids men from speaking about anything without having its proper knowledge, and considers it obligatory to respect every Muslim. This wretched fellow without possessing enough knowledge of religion

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or sciences is sinful of doing something, which is against the scripture of God and the teachings of His Prophet (S).

Yet he moulds his ideas into the form of religion; though the conduct and behavior of all the great scholars of every generation was unlike this. Each one of the branches of religious sciences demands the scholars who are associated with it to be humble, and requires them to obliterate all signs of pride from their hearts. None of the sciences gives rise to pride and none of them is against humility. Later I will explain the causes behind this sharp contrast between their knowledge and behavior.

Also among the experts of other sciences, like medicine, mathematics, physics, engineering, industrial crafts, etc., the instances of pride and arrogance are seen. They underestimate all other sciences however important they may be, and scorn the scientists belonging to them. Each one of them believes that whatever he knows is the real knowledge. They scorn people in their hearts, as well as manifest it in their demeanor; whereas their knowledge does not require this.

Some others who do not belong to any of the branches of science, like the people devoted to prayers and other devotional rites, also tend to behave high-handedly with others. They disdain people and treat them with contempt, and do not consider even great scholars as worthy of redemption. Whenever there is a discussion about knowledge, they point out that knowledge without action is useless. They give great importance to

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the little knowledge that they themselves possess and view all others with ‘ujb and haughty contempt, forgetting that if their worship were true and sincere it would have reformed them.

The prayer forbids one from performing indecent deeds and sins and is considered as the culmination of a Muslim’s attainment (mi’raj al-mu’min). But such a person, even after performing the salat for fifty years and meticulously performing all obligatory (wajibat) and recommended (mustahabbat) religious duties, is immersed in the vice of pride which is a kind of apostasy-from head to toe, and is afflicted with ‘ujb-which is uglier than any other indecency-and comes to resemble Satan and acquires his attributes.

The salat that does not forbid one from indecencies and indignities, the prayer which does not protect the heart, rather whose excessive performance vitiates the heart, is not worthy of being named as salat. The salat about which you were so particular, but on account of which you come to resemble Satan acquiring pride, his characteristic trait, is not salat; for the salat does not result in pride either.

All these are dangers of knowledge and deeds, but pride can also arise from other causes, all of which relate to a sense of one’s worth and excellence which others are imagined to lack. For instance, someone who comes of a noble descent looks down on those who are not like him. Other reasons relate to personal beauty and charm, one’s tribe, the number of one’s supporters, followers, or pupils, which cause

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arrogance and pride with respect to others who do not possess these advantages. In all cases, therefore, pride is caused by an illusion of some kind of perfection in oneself, elation on its account and ‘ujb, while others are seen to lack such an imagined merit or advantage.

Even the bad characters and persons of vicious morals, also, sometimes look down on others with haughty contempt, because they consider whatever they possess as a kind of merit and asset. Though the person afflicted with the vice of pride tries to conceal it due to some reason or other and tries to show no sign of it, but since this evil tree of pride has run its roots in his heart, its effects nevertheless manifest themselves. As soon as any change occurs in the natural condition of the possessor of this vice, as when he loses control over himself due to anger, he starts boasting of his superiority and enumerating his merits, whether they belong to the category of knowledge or deeds or whatever.

At other times, a proud person exhibits his pride, not paying any attention to its outward revelation. The intensity of his pride makes him lose control over himself. Then, his pride finds expression in his movements and pauses. In social gatherings he shows his self-importance by taking a lead over other people while entering and leaving. He neither allows the poor to join his company, nor does he himself attend their gatherings. He creates an artificial halo of

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sacredness around himself and every action of his, the gait, the manner of looking at other people, the manner of speaking to them, everything is indicative of his pride and haughtiness.

One of the researchers, from whom I have borrowed the fundamentals of this discourse and have translated them, says that the lowest degree of pride in a scholar is that he should turn his back on other people as if he wants to avoid them. The lowest degree of pride in a devotee (‘abid) is manifested in his stern attitude towards people and his frown, as if he wants to avoid them, or as if he is angry with them. The poor fellow does not know that piety and continence (wara’) does not lie in the frowns on one’s brow or forehead, not in a disdainful look and a wry face, not in avoiding the people, not in bending the head or turning the neck, but it lies inside one’s heart. The Prophet (S) once, pointing at his chest, said, ‘Piety lies here.”

On some occasions, the devotee boasts about himself in his speech; while expressing the purity of his soul, he makes a display of his devotional exercises, brags about himself by mentioning his pious deeds, and denounces others for their shortcomings, thus highlighting the superiority of his piety. Sometimes he does not say anything explicitly but makes some gesture, which implicitly exhibits his piety. A scholar afflicted with kibr may brag about his own intellectual achievements, saying,

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“What do you know! “ Then he would mention the books read and written by him, the universities visited by him, the professors and authorities whom he has met, and his own scholarly endeavors. Therefore, at all times, it is necessary to seek refuge in God from the mischiefs of the self and its wiles.

Spiritual And Social Harms Of Pride

Whereas there are many vices inherent in pride itself, it generates many other vices as well. It prevents men from acquiring inward and outward merits and from enjoying the blessings of this world and the Hereafter. It causes hatred and rancor in human hearts, disgraces man in the eyes of his fellow human beings, and brings about humiliation for him. It forces other people to retaliate against him and despise him and insult him.

In al-Kafi, Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said, “There is no person who does not have a harness on his head, and an angel who attends to it. Whenever he is proud, the angel says, ‘Be humble, lest God should disgrace you’. Thus, he is the greatest of human beings in his own eyes, whereas in other people’s eyes he is the smallest of creatures. When he is humble and modest, God removes the harness from his head and the angel says to him, ‘Elevate yourself, as God Almighty is elevating you’. Thus, he is the smallest of persons in his own eyes, while the most elevated and exalted in the eyes of others.’(1)

My friend, others also possess a mind

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, Vol. III, p. 426.

similar to yours. If you behave humbly, other people will be forced to respect you and you will rise in their estimation. But, if you show arrogance, there is no good for you in it; they may even disgrace you if they find an opportunity, and treat you with indifference. And if they cannot find an opportunity of insulting you, they will despise you in their hearts and you will not find any respect in their eyes. It is, therefore, better for you to conquer their hearts with modesty and humility. Everyone with whom you associate will somehow show the signs of his attitude towards you, and if their hearts turn against you it will be something, which is against your desire.

Therefore, even if, presumably, you are interested in obtaining greatness and respect, you will have to adopt a proper course for it, which is to cultivate cordial relations with others and to, adopt a humble demeanor towards them. The result of pride will be against your aim and purpose. It does not even fulfill your worldly aspirations, which are easier to be fulfilled, and instead of this what you receive is its opposite. Besides all these, this habit will bring you disgrace and shame in the next world. In the same way as you scorned people and considered yourself to be superior to the creatures of God, and expressed an inordinate sense of pride and arrogance here, in the other world this same arrogance and pride will bring

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you disgrace and humiliation, as mentioned in a tradition reported in al-Kafi:

بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ دَاوُدَ بْنِ فَرْقَدٍ، عَنْ أَخِیهِ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: إنَّ المُتَکَبِّرِینَ یُجْعَلُونَ فِی صُوَرِ الذَّرِّ فَیَتَوَطَّؤُهُمُ النَّاسُ حَتَّی یَفْرَغُوا مِنَ الحِسَابِ.

From Dawud ibn Farqad, from his brother, who said: I heard Imam al-Sadiq (A) saying: Verily the proud [on the Judgment Day] will be created in the form of ants and people will trample them down under their feet until God is finished with the reckoning.(1)

In his last will, al Imam al-Sadiq (A) told his companions:

قَالَ: وَإیَّاکُمْ وَالعَظَمَةَ وَالکِبَرَ فَإنَّ الکِبَرَ رِدَاءُ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، فَمَنْ نَازَعَ اللهَ رِدَاءَهُ قَصَمَهُ اللهُ وَأَذَلَّهُ یَوْمَ القِیَامَةِ.

Refrain from pride and self-glorification, since pride is God Almighty’s mantle, and one who contests with God regarding His cloak, God will shatter him and disgrace him on the Day of Resurrection.(2)

What will be the plight of the person whom God Almighty disgraces? For the things will be different in the Hereafter. Disgrace in the Hereafter will be an affair different from the disgrace and humiliation in this world. In the same way as the comforts and torments of that world bear no similarity with those in this world, and its comforts and bounties are beyond one’s imaginative power, the torments and tortures in that world are also far above the reach of our imaginative faculty. Its honors are beyond the possibilities of what we can think, and its humiliations also cannot be compared with our ideas of humiliation and disgrace.

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi,Vol. III. p. 424.
2- Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Shu’bah al Harrani, Tuhaf al-’uqul (Kitab furushi Islamiyyah, Tehran, 1402 H.), Arabic text with Persian translation by Ahmad Jannati ‘Ata’i, p. 327.

And the ultimate abode of the proud person is eternal damnation and hell. The tradition states:

الکِبَرُ مَطَایَا النَّارِ.

i.e. ‘one who rides the mount of pride is taken by it into the hell-fire.’ He will not get any glimpse of Paradise as long as the traces of this vice are present in his heart. The Prophet (S) has been reported to have said:

لَنْ یَدْخُلَ الجَنَّةَ مَنْ فِی قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ مِنْ کِبَرٍ.

Never can the person who possesses a speck of pride inside his heart enter Paradise.(1)

Imam al-Baqir (A) and Imam al-Sadiq (A) have also said something almost similar to this statement. In al-Kafi Imam al-Baqir (A) is reported to have said:

العِزُّ رِدَاءُ اللهِ وَالکِبَرُ إِزَارُهُ. فَمَنْ تَنَاوَلَ شَیْئاً مِنْهُ أَکَبَّهُ اللهُ فِی جَهَنَّمَ.

honor is God’s robe and pride His mantle; one who wants to acquire it will be thrown into hell by God Almighty.(2)

And that too, what kind of hell! The hell, which is prepared for the proud, is different from the hell into which other sinners will go. Here, I shall again quote the same tradition the translation of which was given earlier:

مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِی عُمَیْرٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِاللهِ بْنِ بُکَیْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إِنَّ فِی جَهَنَّمَ لَوَادِیاً لِلْمُتَکَبِّرِینَ یُقَالُ لَهُ سَقَرٌ. شَکَا (جَهَنَّمُ) إلَی اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ شِدَّةَ حَرِّهِ وَسَأَلَهُ أَنْ یَتَنَفَّسَ، فَأَذِنَ لَهُ، فَتَنَفَّسَ فَأَحْرَقَ جَهَنَّمَ.

This is a highly trustworthy tradition, and can even be compared to sahih. Ibn Bukayr reports from al Imam al-Sadiq

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1- Usul al-Kafi, Vol. III, p. .423.
2- Usul al-Kafi, Vol. III, p. 423.

(A) that he said, “Verily there is a valley in hell for the proud called Saqar. Once it complained to the Almighty about the intensity of its heat, and requested Him to relieve it for some time so that it may take a breath. As soon as it breathed, its breath filled the entire hell with fire.”(1)

I take refuge in God from a place, which in spite of its being a place of torment complains about its hotness, and the hell starts burning because of its breath. We cannot comprehend in this world the extent of the intensity and strength of the fire of the Hereafter, as the difference between the intensity and weakness of torment is dependent upon several factors. One is the strength and weakness of perception, and the second is the dissimilarity of different kinds of material and their different capacities for tolerating heat. For example, gold and iron can be exposed to more heat than lead and tin, which can endure more heat than wood and coal, which are less sensitive than flesh and skin.

Another factor is the sensitivity of perception; for example the human brain, which despite being less tolerant to heat is more sensitive to it than the bones, for its power of perception is stronger. And the feebleness and intensity of the heat itself is another factor. It is more painful at a hundred degrees than at fifty. One more factor is the relative distance between the source of heat and the

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1- Usul al-Kafi, Vol. III, p. 424.

material exposed to it; for instance, when fire is very near to the hand it will inflict a different kind of burn than when it affects the hand from a distance.

All these five above-mentioned factors exist at their weakest degree in this world, and at their utmost strength and force in the Hereafter. All our perceptive faculties are imperfect and weak in this world and at the same time covered with several veils. Today our vision is incapable of perceiving angels and the hell; our ears cannot hear the queer sounds of Barzakh (the Purgatory) and the cries of its inhabitants, and the clamor of the Day of Resurrection and the people thereof. Our senses cannot even perceive the heat of that place. This is on account of their own infirmity.

The Quranic verses and the traditions of the Imams (A) are full of explicit and implicit references to this issue, and it is also in accordance with discursive reason. The human body of this world is incapable of enduring heat. The cold fire of this world is strong enough to turn it into ashes in moments. But God Almighty is capable of recreating it in a form on the Day of Resurrection so that it would not be consumed by the fire of the Hereafter, a fire of so great intensity that, according to the testimony of Gabriel (A), if a link of the seventy-cubit chain of fire prepared for the inhabitants of hell is thrown into this world

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it would melt all the mountains due to its excessive heat.

Therefore, the resistance of the human body will also be incomparably great in that world. Also the relationship between the body and soul is very fragile in this world. This world does not allow the soul to manifest its real faculties and powers. But that world is the world of the soul’s manifestation and domination. There, the relationship of the soul with respect to the body is loaded with action and creativity-as has been established in its proper place-and this relationship is the most complete and thorough of all relationships.

This worldly fire is a faint and coldish glow and an ephemeral phenomenon combined with impurities of all kinds; whereas the fire of hell is a fire free from all impurities, and its substance is self-subsisting and self-perpetuating. It is a living substance, which burns its inhabitants with a will and consciousness, and uses all its strength to overwhelm them. You have heard about its properties from Gabriel (A), the truthful witness.

The Quran and the traditions of the Imams (A) are full of the descriptions of hell and the fire therein. However, its similitude cannot be found in this world. If all the fires of this world were to surround a human being from all sides, they will envelop only the outer surface of his body; but the hell-fire will encompass the human being from within and without and envelop the senses and the perceptive faculties. It is a

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fire, which consumes the heart, the soul, and all the human faculties, pervading them and uniting with them in a fashion, which is unexemplified in this world.

Hence it is obvious that the requirements of Divine chastisement are not at all to be found in this world. Neither the material is capable of enduring its heat, nor is the agent of heat a complete one, nor are the perceptive faculties at their complete acuteness. The fire the heat of whose breath fills the hell with flames, we and our perceptive senses fail to comprehend it, unless, God forbid, we, belonging to the clan of the proud, leave the world without purifying ourselves from this abominable vice, and see it face to face:

﴿فَلَبِئْسَ مَثْوَی الْمُتَکَبِّرِینَ.﴾

What an evil abode is that of the arrogant!’

Other Causes Of Pride

Besides the above-mentioned factors that cause pride, there are some others also, such as narrow-mindedness, lack of capacity, petty-mindedness, baseness, and lack of fortitude. Being a person with a narrow mentality, as soon as he beholds any merit in himself he imagines himself to enjoy a kind of superiority. He thinks he has acquired a high station, whereas, if he justly evaluates it and judges his accomplishments and merits, he would see that what he imagined to be perfection and is so proud of is not at all an accomplishment or merit, and even if it were a merit how insignificant it was when compared to other persons’ accomplishments.

Poor fellow, he has made his cheeks ruddy with a slap

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to give an impression of healthiness. The ‘arif who disdains others on account of his pride in his mystic knowledge, and considers others superciliously to be superficial and shallow, what knowledge does he possess about God, except for a handful of concepts and terms that are in reality veils of realities and hindrances in his religious path? What is this knowledge except for a number of glamorous and gaudy terms which do not have any relevance whatsoever to the knowledge of God? How far are they from the knowledge of God and the knowledge of His Names and Attributes.

Knowledge is a quality of the heart, and in the view of this writer all these are practical sciences, and consist not of mere acquaintance with certain abstract concepts or artful juggling of terms. With this short life and limited knowledge, I have seen certain people among these so-called mystics and other scholars who, I swear by ‘irfan and knowledge that these terms have not made any mark on their hearts; nay, they have rather left on them an opposite effect! My friend! the knowledge of God, in your own words, makes the heart a place where His Names, Attributes, and Essence are manifested, a stage for the appearance of the Real Monarch, who obliterates all signs and purges it of all stains and removes from it all limitations:

﴿إِنَّ الْمُلُوکَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْیَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً.﴾

Indeed, kings, when they enter a township, ruin it and degrade its men of

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honor. (27:34)

It converts your heart into a Unitarian and the one filled with the praise of the Lord. But why did it make your heart a place of your own glorification? Why has it added unnecessary colors to it, and accumulated trappings and accretions that deter you from obtaining nearness to God Almighty and from beholding the effulgent glory of His Names? Why, it has made your heart an abode of Satan and so you look down on the servants of God and His chosen, the signs and reflections of His Glory and Splendor! Woe unto you for your wretchedness, O ‘arif, whose condition is worse than of anybody else, and all the doors of defense and pretext are sealed upon him! You are proud towards God and have assumed a Pharaonic arrogance towards His Names, Attributes, and all the manifestations of His Essence. O amateurish student of concepts who has gone astray of the realities! Deliberate over the matter for a while, and think as to what knowledge you possess of God.

What impact has the knowledge of God and His Attributes made on your self? Perhaps the study of music and musical rhythms may be more exact and precise than your knowledge. Astronomy, mechanics, other physical sciences, and mathematics can match your learning as to the precision of their terminology. Yet in the same way as they are not concerned with the knowledge of God, your knowledge also is a thick curtain consisting of the veils of words,

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terms, and concepts. They can neither make one ecstatic nor send anyone into a trance.

Rather, in the eyes of the Shari’ah, the physical sciences and mathematics are better than your knowledge, since they produce some result, whereas your knowledge not only gives no good results, but gives opposite ones. An engineer draws results from his calculations, and a goldsmith is benefited from his craftsmanship; but your knowledge, apart from not gaining any material benefits, has failed to fulfill any transcendental ends as well.

Rather, the veil before your eyes is so thick that when you try to picture the Unity of the Divine Being a world of utter darkness fills your imagination, and when His Names and Attributes are mentioned an infinite plurality is pictured by your mind. Therefore, these terms did not lead you to the path of Truth, but on the contrary they have become a source of pride and arrogance towards the righteous scholars.

A knowledge, which darkens the heart and increases it in its blindness is not knowledge. A learning, which ultimately makes its possessor an heir of the Devil, woe unto such learning! Kibr is the property of Satan’s nature. He was arrogant to your father, Adam, and was expelled from the Almighty’s court. You who are arrogant towards all human beings and all the sons of Adam are also worthy of banishment. From this you can infer the plight of the scholars of other sciences also.

A Hakim, a man of wisdom, if he is

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a real sage, having comprehended the relationship between God Almighty and His creatures and himself, the sense of superiority remains no more in his heart. But the unfortunate seeker of terminology and terms has mistaken them for hikmah (wisdom) and ‘ilm (knowledge) and imagines himself to be an ‘alim and Hakim. He even associates himself with the Attributes of the Necessary Being and says that hikmah is one of the Attributes of God Almighty’

الحِکْمَةُ هِیَ التَّشَبُّهُ بِالإلَهِ.

Wisdom is what makes [man] similar to God.

At other times he groups himself with the prophets and messengers of God, and recites the Quranic phrase,

﴿وَیُعَلِّمُهُمْ الْکِتَابَ وَالْحِکْمَةَ.﴾

He teaches them the Book and Wisdom.

And sometimes reiterates the Prophet’s hadith:

الحِکْمَةُ ضَالَّةُ المُؤْمِنِ، وَمَنْ یُؤْتَ الحِکْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِیَ خَیْراً کَثِیراً.

Hikmah is the lost property of a mu’min; one who is endowed with hikmah has been given an immense measure of good.

While his heart is unaware of hikmah and several thousand stages away from all good and he is himself a stranger to hikmah. The great Muslim thinker and philosopher Muhaqqiq Damad (R) states that a Hakim is a person who can discard his body like a dress whenever he wants to. What does he say and what are we saying! What meaning did they understand from hikmah and how do we conceive it? And you with your pride in your knowledge of a handful of concepts and a few terms, who treat the creatures of God with haughty contempt-it becomes quite clear that you are a

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petty minded and shallow person.

Those who style themselves as murshids (leaders of mystic orders) and guides of God’s creatures, offering spiritual assistance and pretending Sufi insight, their state is worse than that of the two former groups, and their conceit is greater than theirs. They appropriate the terminology of those two groups, and set out their goods for sale in the marketplace. They have distracted the attention of the creatures of God from Him, attracting them towards themselves, having made those simple-hearted creatures to view the ulama and other people with suspicion. For the sake of some mean profit, they have coined some attractive terms to deceive credulous people, thinking that titles like ‘Majdhub ‘Ali Shah’ and ‘Mahbub ‘Ali Shah’ will produce love for God or create some kind of ecstasy or bliss.

O seeker of the world! You thief of concepts and ideas, this activity of yours does not call for pride and exultation. Poor fellow, he is befooled by his own petty-mindedness and narrowness of capacity, considering himself to be a person of high spiritual station. His own tricks have fooled him. His infatuation with himself, his love of the world, and his obsession with some stolen ideas and conceptual trappings and auxiliaries have coalesced to form strangely vicious and perverse admixture. Yet with all these flaws, the poor fellow imagines himself to be a murshid, a guide and liberator of mankind, and knower of the secrets of the Shari’ah! No, sometimes this impudence surpasses all limits and

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he imagines himself to be at the pinnacle of wilayah ! This situation arises due to the lack of capacity, the poverty of merits, the narrowness of the mind and the heart, and the suffocating contraction of the breast.

You too, O student of fiqh, hadith and other religious sciences, you also have no share of knowledge except for some terms which have gained currency in usul and hadith. If this learning, which is altogether related to practice and action, has not brought any improvement in you and has not rectified you, but instead of this given rise to moral and practical vices in you, your performance is inferior to that of the experts of other sciences and incomparable in its worthlessness with the baser activities of all other people.

All those concepts, verbiage, rivalries, and disputations-most of which have no relevance to the religion of God and cannot be considered to be belonging to any sciences either, nor could be regarded as the fruit of knowledge-that does not call for so much of pride and exultation. I make God my witness-and suffices He for testimony-if the result of your knowledge is that it cannot guide you on the right path, nor can it guard you against vices of morals and deeds, the meanest and basest of vocations is better than this learning, because it shows some immediate results and has fewer this-worldly and other-worldly harms.

You, poor fellow, who acquire nothing but a painful burden, hard to carry, your burden does

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not bring you anything but corrupt morals and perverse deeds. Therefore, your knowledge does not call for any pride and exultation either. Nevertheless, the horizon of your mind is so narrow that as soon as you prepared a hotchpotch of some terms you started thinking yourself to be a great scholar, fit to walk over the plumes of archangels under your feet, and other people as ignorant creatures. Your arrogant gait restricts the passage for the servants of God in alleys and your conceit encroaches on the roominess of social gatherings.

Yet the meanest among the arrogant is the person who is proud of outward matters like wealth, position, family and descent. This poor fellow is far from all human excellences and moral sense; his hands are empty of all learning and knowledge; but since his clothes are made of sheep’s wool, or since his father is somebody, he is arrogant with the people. What a petty mind and a dark and narrow heart it is that leaves all accomplishments and perfections to be content with the niceties of a robe and hat! For his beautiful cloak and cap, he has given up all other beauties of character and soul.

Poor fellow, he is satisfied to survive on the plane of beasts and is happy with bestial pleasures, having forgone the dignity of human station for what he considers to be some sort of status, choosing a meaningless and hollow existence, and a blank form devoid of reality and truth. He

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is so base and hollow that if he meets someone who is superior to him in respect of worldly advantages, he behaves with him like a slave with his master. Of course, one whose goal is nothing but the world, is a slave of the worldly and the world…

In any case, narrowness of vision, pettiness of mind, and lack of capaciousness of personality, together, are a strong factor responsible for pride, which makes its victim to have ‘ujb and kibr and makes him highly sensitive to qualities which are neither a kind of perfection nor any merit of note. And the more one is infatuated with one’s self and with the world, the more he is likely to be affected by these things.

How To Cure Pride?

Now that you have known the viciousness of pride, it is now your duty to resolve to cure yourself of this disease and to make up your mind to purge your heart from its taints and remove its traces and its heavy dust from the mirror of your heart. If you are among the people of strong will power and an open heart, and the worldly desires have not driven their tentacles deep into it, and if the worldly allurements and ornaments have not blinded it by their light, and if you are still capable of judging and criticizing yourself with justice, the suggestions given in the previous chapter can be most useful for you in this regard.

But if you have not reached this level, it is

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better for you to meditate upon your state; it is possible that your heart may wake up. O man, who were initially nothing; who were hidden in the folds of nothingness for ages and epochs, more insignificant than nothingness itself and absent from the realms of existence, when God Almighty resolved to create you, you were the most deficient of the recipients, mean, and insignificant. You were incapable of receiving the Divine effusion (fayd). He created you from the matter (hayula) of the universe, which is absolute potentiality and pure weakness, and moulded you into an elemental bodily form, which was the lowest, and the meanest of the existents of the universe.

After that you were given the form of sperm, which you will loathe to touch it and will take great pains for cleansing your hands if by chance they are made dirty by it. Then you were kept in a very narrow and unclean place, the twin reproductive glands of the father. And after that through the urinary tract in a terribly ugly state you were brought into the mother’s womb and you were given such a place to live in, that description will be disgusting to you. After being placed there, you were given the form of a fetus and a lump of clotted blood. There you were nourished with such a food that you will go mad if you are told about it, and will feel ashamed. But since everyone has to pass through this tribulation,

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it abates our shame of it.

وَالبَلِیَّةُ إِذَا عَمَّتْ طَابَتْ.

A distress, which is common, becomes tolerable.

During all these stages of evolution and change you were the lowest and meanest of creatures. You lacked in all external and internal perceptive faculties and devoid of every kind of merit. After that, with His great kindness and mercy, He made you capable of receiving the gift of life, the life that was manifested in you was so imperfect and fragile that it was, even inferior to that of a worm in its biological functions. In order to improve your deficient capacity, He gradually improved your functions with His mercy and compassion, until you became fit for entering this world and facing its climes. Through the meanest of corridors and in the worst possible condition you were made to enter this realm. Yet you were still weaker than and inferior to the young ones of all the animals.

After that, despite acquiring the maximum of your internal and external powers and abilities, you are still so weak and vulnerable that none of your own powers is under your full control You can neither safeguard your health, nor can you guard your own life and energies, nor can you preserve your beauty and youth. If any calamity of an illness befalls you, you do not possess enough power to repel it. In short, you don’t have any control over any aspect of your own being and existence.

If you face starvation for one day, you

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will not resist from eating any kind of rotten cadaver. If your thirst were to overwhelm you, you will be ready to drink from dirty and fetid water. Similarly, in all matters you are a helpless and abject slave who has no power over anything. If you compare yourself with the existence and perfection of the existence and other living beings, you will realize that you and your entire planet, or even the whole solar system, have no significance whatsoever in front of the whole physical world, which is the meanest and the smallest of all other worlds.

My dear, you have not seen anything except yourself, and whatever you have seen you did not compare it with the world around you. Compare whatever you possess, from your life to the worldly treasures in your possession, with your city, your city with your country, and your country with all the hundreds of the countries of the world, whose names you might not have even heard of, and all those countries with the whole solar system and its vast spheres which are not more than tiny fragments of the sun, and the whole solar system with the Milky Way, of which our sun along with its planets is one of millions of other stars and a part of the huge galaxy, and there are several million of such galaxies like the Milky Way.

All these are a part of the physical world, whose vastness is not known to anyone except its Creator

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and the discoveries of the discoverers have succeeded in revealing only a small fraction of it. Yet this physical world has no significance whatsoever as compared to the supra-physical world, whose realms lie beyond the powers of imagination of the human intellect. In the light of this, let us reexamine the extent and scope of our lives and the share of our fortune in the realm of existence.

Thereafter, when God Almighty resolves to take you away from this world, He commands all your powers to deteriorate and your perceptive faculties to halt their activities. The mechanism of your life is broken down; your auditory and visual senses, and your energies are taken back from you and you become an inanimate inorganic substance. After the passage of a few hours, people will not be able to tolerate the stench emanating from your body and they will be averse to the view of your body and face. All your bodily members and organs will decompose and disintegrate after a few days. Such is the state of your body, and what will happen to your wealth and glory is also quite obvious.

But as for your life in Barzakh (the Purgatory), if you depart, God forbid, without reforming yourself, God alone knows what conditions and states will be prescribed for you therein. Perceptions of the inhabitants of this world are incapable of seeing, hearing, and smelling the affairs of that world. Whatever you hear of the darkness, the dreads, and the pressures of

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the grave, you compare them with this-worldly dreads and pressures, but you are mistaken. O God, help us, and rescue us from the calamity of what we ourselves have prepared with our own hands. The punishment of the grave, which is a model of the punishment in the Hereafter-and according to some traditions we will not be able to avail in the Barzakh any intercession of the intercessors-God alone knows what kind of punishment it will be! The state of affairs on the Day of Resurrection will be worse and more dreadful than all the past phases. It, will be the day of the revelation of secrets, the manifestation of truths, and the day of the embodiment of morals and actions. It will be the day of reckoning and the day of disgrace. Such is the Day of Resurrection!

The Punishment In The Hereafter

As to the conditions of the hell after the Day of Resurrection, they are also known to you. Would you like to know more about the hell? The punishment of hell will not be confined to the torments of fire alone; a dreadful door will be opened to your eyes, which if opened to this world its dread will destroy all of its inhabitants. A similar door will open to your flesh, another to your nose, each of which will be sufficient to kill the inhabitants of this world. One of the experts in the knowledge of the Hereafter says that in the same way as the heat of hell will reach

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the climax of its extremity, its coldness will also be at the highest point of coldness.

God Almighty is capable of bringing together these two extreme opposites. Such are the dreads of the Hereafter. In the light of all this, one whose beginning lies in infinite nothingness; one who from the point he steps into the world of existence, all whose stages of development are ugly and indecent; all whose states are shameful; whose conditions in the world, the Purgatory and the Hereafter, each one is more horrible and disgraceful than the other-what reason has he for pride?

What merit or glory makes him so boastful? Therefore, those whose ignorance is more and whose rational faculties are more defective, are more proud of themselves; and those whose knowledge is greater, whose souls are more capacious, and whose breasts are spacious-they are humbler and more modest.

Humility And Modesty Of The Prophet (S)

The Prophet (S), whose knowledge was derived from the Divine Revelation, and whose soul was so great that it could preponderate over the spirits of millions upon millions of human beings, who rejected all the practices and customs of the pagan Arabs, who shattered under his feet all the false creeds, abrogated all the scriptures, and the circle of prophethood achieved its completion in his noble existence; who was the ruler of the world and the hereafter, and who was the master of all the worlds, with the permission of God Almighty; yet his humility towards the creatures of God was more than of any other

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human being.

He hated to see his Companions stand up in his respect. Whenever he entered a gathering, he used to sit in the lowest place He used to dine on the floor and used to sit on the floor and used to say, “I am a slave of God; I dine like a slave and sit in the manner proper for a slave.” It has been reported from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Prophet (S) preferred to ride a donkey without a saddle, preferred to dine in a lowly place with the slaves, and offered alms to beggars with his two hands. That holy personage used to ride a donkey and used to sit on the mount with a slave or some other man.

It is written about him (S) that he used to share with the members of his household the duties of housework himself used to milk the sheep, stitch his own clothes and shoes, grind the flour and knead the dough, and carry his belongings himself. He liked the company of the poor and the destitutes and used to dine with them. Such, and better than what we have described, was the character and the modesty of this great personage, although besides holding his high spiritual station he held to perfection the authority of a temporal sovereign. Similar was the life and character of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (A), who also followed the Prophet’s way, and his character was identical to that of the Prophet (S).

To Cure Pride, One Should Act Against Its Dictates


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my friend, if you are proud of your spiritual attainments, they (i.e. the Prophet and Imam ‘Ali) were over and above all of us in this respect; and if you have pride in your office and authority, they possessed true sovereignty. Yet, in spite of it, their humility and modesty was more than of anybody else. This shows that humility is the product of knowledge and wisdom, and pride is the outcome of ignorance.

Therefore, free yourself from the ignominy of ignorance and the disgrace of petty-mindedness; acquire the attributes of the prophets and shed the qualities of Satan. Do not contend with your God regarding His mantle of Pride and Glory, as His wrath will subdue the contender and he will fall on his face into hell-fire. If you make up your mind for rectifying your self, the way to do so is also easy if you are somewhat persevering. You will not encounter any peril on this way if you move with manly resolve, freedom of thought, and high-mindedness. The only way of overpowering your carnal self and repelling the insinuations of Satan is to act against their incitements.

No other way is better for crushing the desires of the self as adopting the traits and qualities of the modest and following their behavior and character. In whatever stage of pride you may be, and to whatever scientific or professional field you belong, you are advised to act against the inclinations and desires of the self. By discovering

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and meditating about this-worldly and other-worldly consequences of pride, it is hoped, your journey will become easier and you will reach the desired goal. If your self wishes that you should take the seat of chairmanship of the gathering or to take precedence over your colleagues and equals, you should act against its desire. If your self incites you to refrain from joining the company of the poor and indigent, admonish it severely and resolutely go and sit in their company, dine with them and travel with them.

It is possible that your inner self would try to prevent you by arguing that you are a person of a higher position and that it is essential to keep up your esteem and dignity for the sake of the propagation of the Shari’ah, that sitting with the poor will undermine your respect in society, that humor with the subordinates will be injurious to your authority, that occupying a lowly place in gatherings will affect your status and then you will not be able to perform your religious duties properly... and so on.

Be certain that all these are guiles of the Devil and wiles of the self. You have read and heard about the behavior and character of the Holy Prophet (S), whose worldly position was incomparably superior to you.

A Reminiscence Of A Teacher

Among the scholars of our own times, I have seen a person who enjoyed great eminence throughout the Shi’ah world and followed the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (S). The respected teacher

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and the revered faqih Hajj Shaykh ‘Abd al-Karim Ha’iri Yazdi enjoyed the sole marji’iyyah (Shiite jurisprudential authority) of the Shiite world from 1340/1921 to 1355/1936. We have all seen his simplicity. He used to travel and dine with his servants. He used to sit on the floor and make all kind of strange jokes with the most junior of students.

During his last days, when he had taken ill, with slippers on, he used to walk in the alley after the sunset, without a cloak and turban and with a piece of cloth wrapped around his head. Regard and respect for him grew in the hearts of the people, and these acts of him did not affect his high station either.

There were other great scholars in Qum besides him, for whom these barriers that are created for you by the Devil did not exist. They used to buy their foodstuffs and goods by themselves, used to fetch water from the water tanks and attend to the duties of housework also. They meted out equal treatment to the senior and the junior and did not differentiate between the first rankers and others of a subordinate rank. Their humanity and modesty made people wonder and their respect was also not lowered; rather it was enhanced in the hearts of the people. Anyhow, the attributes of the Prophet (S) and Imams (A) do not derogate people.

But one should be cautious of the guiles of the self while opposing it, as it may

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lure you into its snares and use other tactics for defeating your purpose. For example, you will observe some person occupy an inconspicuous place in a gathering, but in a fashion, which is meant to make others understand that his position is superior to all the others present and that it was but a gesture of humility and modesty on his part that he has occupied that place.

Or, for instance, if he had declined in favor of a person of uncertain superiority over himself, he will give priority over himself to someone who it is certain is of a lower rank, thus immediately making it clear that he had declined in favor of the first one because of his own humility. These, and hundreds other like this, are the wiles of self, which add riya’ and hypocrisy to pride, and unless one does not resolve to combat them with a sincere determination one will not succeed in rectifying one’s self.

All the vices of the soul are rectifiable, but a little diligence is needed in the beginning. After one has entered the process of self-correction, everything becomes easier for him. The main thing is to realize the need for the rectification of the self and to wake up from the spell of self-negligence,

Yaqzah (Awakening) Is The First Step

The first stage of humanness is yaqzah. It signifies the awakening from the slumber of obliviousness and the intoxication of physical nature, and the realization of the fact that man is a traveler and like any other

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traveler he also needs some provisions for this journey. His morality and character are his provisions for this journey.

The only means of undertaking this hazardous and perilous journey on this dark and narrow path, which is sharper than the sword’s blade and thinner than a hair, is manly courage. The light of this path is one’s faith and one’s good qualities. If he is lazy and negligent and gives in to weakness, he will not be able to cross it with safety and will fall headlong into the hell of disgrace and into the gorge of perdition. And one who cannot pass safely over this path will, also, not be able to pass over the Sirat in the Hereafter.

My dear, be brave and tear apart the curtain of ignorance and folly and deliver yourself from this terrible abyss. ‘Ali (A), the Lord of the Pious, the unique wayfarer of the paths of heavens and the real guide, used to cry out in the mosque so loudly that he could be heard in the neighborhood:

تَجَهَّزُوا – رَحِمَکُمُ اللهُ – فَقَدْ نُودِیَ فِیکُمْ بِالرَّحِیلِ.

Equip yourselves and be ready, your departure has already been announced.

No preparations will be more beneficial to you than your good moral characteristics and merits, the heart’s piety, the righteous deeds, and the purity and spotlessness of your conscience. If, supposedly, you are a person of incomplete and apparent faith, you should cleanse yourself of these impurities so that Divine mercy will put you amongst the righteous and

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pious servants of God. Only the fire of repentance (tawbah) will clean these impurities, when the self is melted in the furnace of self-reproach with the fuel of remorse and return towards God. Today perform this smelting yourself, in this world; otherwise only God knows how many centuries of the Hereafter it will take for your soul to be refined in the furnace of Divine chastisement, and with a fire of which it has been said:

﴿نَارُ اللَّهِ الْمُوقَدَةُ. الَّتِی تَطَّلِعُ عَلَی الْأَفْئِدَةِ.﴾

It is the fire of Allah, kindled, which leapeth up over the hearts. (109-6-7)

It is much easier to purify oneself in this world, as changes occur rapidly in this world; but in the next world, the process of change will be a prolonged process, and the effacement of one evil attribute of the soul will take several centuries.

Therefore, my dear, try to reform your self as long as you possess life, youth, energy, and freedom. Do not pay any attention to this-worldly fame and glory. Trample such phantoms under your feet. You are the. son of Adam (A), so free your self from the trait. of Satan Perhaps the Devil gives more importance to see that this vice, which is characteristic of his own nature and for which he was driven out of the court of the Almighty God, is shared by everyone, the sage or the commoner, the scholar or the unlettered, and that they join his fold.

Then if you meet him in the next world, having

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carried this vice with you, he will rebuke you for having adopted this vice. he will say to you, ‘O son of Adam! Didn’t the prophets inform you that my haughtiness towards your father drove me out of the court of the Almighty? I was cursed due to my scorning of Adam and my self glorifying. Why did you allow yourself to be afflicted by this vice?”

At that time, you, wretched creature that you would be, besides confronting all kind of humiliations and tortures, besides all the regret and remorse, will also have to face the rebukes of the most wretched of beings and the basest of creatures. Satan was not guilty of pride towards God, but of pride towards the creature of God and had said to Him:

﴿خَلَقْتَنِی مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِینٍ.﴾

Thou createdst me of fire., and him Thou didst create of clay. (7:12)

In this manner he glorified himself and looked down on Adam (A). You, also, who look down on the progeny of Adam and glorify yourself, have disobeyed God’s Commands; for God has commanded His creatures to be modest and humble towards other human beings. You who treat people with haughty contempt, why do you curse the Devil alone?

Why don’t you include your vicious self also in this curse, as it also shares this vice with him? The proud man is a personification of all Satans; perhaps in the purgatory and on the Day of Resurrection, his appearance will be that of Satan. The

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criterion of man’s form in the Hereafter are his spiritual qualities. It’s possible that you will acquire the form of Satan as well as the size of an ant. The standards in the Hereafter will be different from those in this world.

The Vicious Subtleties Of The Self

Sometimes it happens that a person who lacks a certain merit is proud towards the possessor of that merit, such as when a poor person is proud towards a rich one or when an ignorant one is proud towards a learned person. It should be remembered that in the same way as ‘ujb is sometimes the source of pride, jealousy (hasad) may also be the source of pride. One may perceive himself as lacking in a certain merit, which is present in another; then he becomes jealous of him and this serves as the cause of pride towards the other person, whom he tries to insult in all possible ways.

In al-Kafi it has been reported from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said, “Pride is found in the most vicious of human beings, to whatever kind they may belong.” Then he added: “Once the Prophet (S) was passing through one of the lanes of al-Madinah where a negress was gathering dung. She was told to move aside and allow the Prophet (S) to pass. She answered that the passage was wide enough. One of the persons who accompanied the Prophet (S) tried to threaten her, but the Prophet (S) prevented him from doing so, saying: Leave her alone, she is

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a proud woman.”

Sometimes this vicious habit is seen among some scholars, who make an excuse that to act with humility with the wealthy is not a virtue. Their vicious self makes them believe that modesty with the rich weakens faith. The poor fellow cannot differentiate between the humility before wealth and humility towards the rich and others. It is true that sometimes the vice of love of the world and the ambition for worldly honor and glory makes men to adopt modest and humble behavior. This cannot be counted as modesty; it is flattery, and is reckoned as a moral vice.

The possessor of this trait does not show humbleness to the poor, except when his self-interest requires it or when he uses it as a bait. But it is also true that the virtue of humility of men invites man to act with modesty and humility towards the others, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, whether of enviable conditions or not. That is, their modesty is sincere and pure. Their souls are clean and unstained by the love for popularity in society and honor, which have no charm for them. This kind of humility and modesty is good with the poor, and it is good with the rich as well.

Everyone should be treated with the respect that is due to him. But this pride and contempt of yours towards the rich and wealthy is not on account of the fact that you are not a sycophant,

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but it is because you are a jealous person, and you do not understand this. If the same rich man were unexpectedly to show you respect, you will be humble and modest with him. In any case, the snares and the skilful guiles of the self are so subtle that one cannot do anything except taking refuge in God.

وَالحَمْدُ للهِ أَوَّلاً وَآخِراً.

And Praise is God’s, in the beginning and the end.

Fifth Hadith: Envy (Hasad)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِیسَی عَنْ یُونُسَ عَنْ دَاوُدَ الرَّقِّیِّ قَالَ: قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِمُوسَی عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: یَا بْنَ عِمْرَانَ لا تَحْسِدَنَّ النَّاسَ عَلَی مَا آتَیْتُهُمْ مِنْ فَضْلِی وَلا تَمُدَّنَّ عَیْنَیْکَ إلی ذَلَکَ وَلا تُتْبِعْهُ نَفْسَکَ، فَإنَّ الحَاسِدَ سَاخِطٌ لِنِعْمَتِی ضَادٌّ لِقِسْمِی الَّذِی قَسَمْتُ بَیْنَ عِبَادِی، وَمَنْ یَکُ کَذَلِکَ فَلَسْتُ مِنْهُ وَلَیْسَ مِنِّی.

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

Definition Of Hasad

Hasad or

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

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

The term ‘imagined’ is used here for the reason that it is not necessary that there should be any real merits or advantage in the true sense of the word. For it has been established by observation that even things which are vices and defects, on account of their being considered by the envious as excellences and merits, he desires their destruction.

Sometimes it is also true that certain attributes, which are a defect in a human being but are bestial accomplishments are envied by the envious man on account of the significance that he attaches to such qualities. He sees them as merits on account of his animal state, and desires that the other man should be deprived of them. For instance, there are certain persons who consider ruthlessness and brutality as virtues, and when they see a person possessing these qualities they envy him.

There are some who consider the capacity for idle talk and vulgar jokes as virtues, and they feel jealous of those skilled at them. Therefore, the criterion for identifying this psychic disease is the imagined existence of merits and the suspected presence of accomplishments in the mind of the afflicted person, not the real presence of

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merit and accomplishment itself. In short, whenever a person notices any merit (real or imaginary) in others and wishes for their loss and destruction, such a person is described as hasid or envious.

Kinds Of Hasad

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

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

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

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

The Causes And Motives Of Hasad

There are numerous causes of hasad, and the main among them, as opposed to kibr, are products of a feeling of one’s

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inferiority. In the same way as a person contemplating his own merits considers others to lack them, with a sense of elation, exultation, and rebelliousness overcoming him; in the same manner when someone perceives others to be more perfect, a feeling of inferiority and dejection seizes him, which, with the help of external factors and inner propensities, generate the feeling of envy in his heart.

Sometimes it may happen that he feels dejected on account of someone sharing his merit, such as when a person endowed with a merit feels jealous of those on an equal or lower footing than himself. Therefore, it may be said that envy is a state of abjectness and dejection, which finds an expression in the desire for the destruction, or deprival of others’ merits and advantages. Accordingly, some scholars, like al-’Allamah al-Majlisi, have confined the causes of envy to the following seven:

1. Enmity.

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

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

4. Wonder: The envious person is puzzled to see the great blessing enjoyed by the object of his envy. God Almighty reports the nations of

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the past as saying to the prophets:

﴿إِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُنَا.﴾

Ye are but mortals like us. (14:10)


﴿فَقَالُوا أَنُؤْمِنُ لِبَشَرَیْنِ مِثْلِنَا؟﴾

And they said: ‘Shall we put faith in two mortals like ourselves?’ (23:47)

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

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

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

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

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

Some Evil Effects Of Envy

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

عَنْ مُعَاوِیَةَ بْنِ وَهَبٍ قَالَ: قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: آفَةُ

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الدِّینِ الحَسَدُ وَالعُجْبُ وَالفَخْرُ.

Mu’awiyah ibn wahab reports that Imam al-Sadiq (A) said, “Hasad, ‘ujb, and vainglory are a bane of faith.”(1)

عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُسْلِمٍ عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَیَأْتِی بِأَدْنَی بَادِرَةٍ فَیُکَفَّرُ. وَإنَّ الحَسَدَ لَیَأْکُلُ الإیمَانَ کَمَا تَأْکُلُ النَّارُ الحَطَبَ.

Muhammad ibn Muslim reports that Imam al-Baqir (A) said, “A man may be forgiven for something done in a fit of anger; but envy devours faith as fire consumes wood.”(2)

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

لا تَسَعُنِی أَرْضِی وَلا سَمَائِی، بَلْ یَسَعُنِی قَلْبُ عَبْدِیَ المُؤْمِنُ.

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

The spiritual light and the divine spark, which makes the human heart greater than anything else in the world does not go along with the darkness and narrowness, caused in it by this grievous vice. This hideous quality makes the human heart so narrow and dejected that its effects become apparent throughout the realm of one’s inner and outer being.

The heart becomes grieved and depressed, the chest narrow and suffocated, and the face grim and frowning.

This state extinguishes the light of faith and deadens the human heart. The more it gains in strength, the more it diminishes the brightness of faith. All the inward and outward attributes of faith

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1- Usul al-Kafi (Pub. by Intishirat-e’ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Arabic text with Persian translation by Hajj Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), vol. III, p. 418.
2- Usul al-Kafi (Pub. by Intishirat-e’ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Arabic text with Persian translation by Hajj Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), vol. III, p. 416.

are negated by the effects of envy, which are manifested within and without one’s personality. The man of faith is optimistic and has a hopeful attitude towards God, and is satisfied with the way He has divided and apportioned His bounties among His creatures. The envious person is displeased with God and is resentful of the fate apportioned by Him. As mentioned in tradition, a believer is not malicious towards other believers; he loves them, whereas the envious man acts in an opposite manner.

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

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

A great evil that is an

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inseparable ingredient of envy is indignation with the Creator and the Beneficent Nourisher and annoyance with His ordainments. Deprived of vision by the dark veils of carnal nature, our immersion in the world of senses has blinded the eyes and deafened the ears. We do not understand that we are angry with the King of kings, nor know as to what form our anger and resentment will acquire as the result of this vice in the next world, our permanent abode. We hear the words of Imam al-Sadiq (A):

وَمَنْ یَکُ کَذَلِکَ فَلَسْتُ مِنْهُ وَلَیْسَ مِنِّی.

Whoso is such, he neither belongs to Me nor do I belong to him.

Yet we do not understand the magnitude of the misfortune of God Almighty’s disowning us, and what His disgust with us will bring for us. One who is driven out from the sphere of His wilayah (guardianship) and is not accepted under the standard of the Mercy of the Most Merciful, there is no hope of his salvation. He will, not be able to receive any intercession of the intercessors either:

﴿مَنْ ذَا الَّذِی یَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ.﴾

Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? (2:255)

Who will act as an intercessor for one who is wrathful and resentful towards God, outside the pale of His wilayah, and whose bonds of love between him and his Lord have been severed? Woe to us for the calamity we have invited for ourselves! Despite all the warnings and alarms sounded by the apostles

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of God to awaken us from the slumber, our neglect and our wretchedness only grew day by day.

The Punishment Of The Grave

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

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

The state of darkness, narrowness, tension and constriction that appears in one’s heart due to this vice is not likely to occur in other moral vices. In any case, the person possessing this vicious trait suffers torments in this life, then the oppressive darkness and constriction in the grave, and will ultimately be helpless and wretched in the Hereafter. All these are the evil effects of envy alone,

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on condition that it does not breed any other vice or induce any other evil deed. But it rarely happens that it does not generate some other affliction. Rather, it often begets many other moral vices and misdeeds, such as pride, as mentioned earlier, and other sins like backbiting, slandering, abusing, and torturing, etc., each one of which is a deadly and mortal sin.

Therefore, it is necessary for a wise person to make up his mind immediately and strive to get rid of this shame and indignity, saving his faith from the blaze of this fire and its disaster lie should rid himself of this mental torture and narrow-mindedness, which is it perpetual lifelong punishment in this world, followed by distress and darkness in the grave and the Purgatory, and incurs Divine wrath. One should consider that a malady, which has so many, harms needs to be treated urgently. His envy does not harm the person of whom he is envious. It does not make him lose any of the favors and merits either. It may even give him some satisfaction, in this world as well as in the other, to see the distress of one who is jealous of him and is his enemy.

While he continues to enjoy all those advantages, which cause you distress and anguish, it is yet another gift for him. And if you are again jealous of him for the second one, it will multiply your torment and anguish, which will again be a

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blessing for him, and so on. Hence you shall ever remain in grief, pain, and anguish and he in a state of bliss, joy, and exuberance. In the Hereafter, also, your envy will benefit him, especially if it culminates in backbiting, slandering, and other such acts of malice; as your good deeds will be assigned to him. You will be reduced to utter destitution and he will enjoy bounties and eminence. If you deliberate upon the matter for a while, you shall of course purge yourself from this vice and save your soul from its destructive effects.

Don’t think that psychic, moral, and spiritual vices are not curable; this is an erroneous notion that has been inspired in you by Satan and your carnal self, who want to keep you from treading the path of the Hereafter and to frustrate your efforts at rectifying your self. As long as man exists in this realm of transition and change, it is possible for him to transform all his attributes and moral characteristics.

However strong his habits may be, as long as he is living in this world he can quit them. The only thing is that the effort required to throw them off varies with the degree of their strength and intensity. A bad habit in the early phase of its formation, of course, requires only a little self-discipline and effort to eradicate it. It is like uprooting a young plant that has not run its roots deeply into the ground.

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But when a quality becomes firmly rooted in one’s nature, becoming a part of one’s spiritual makeup, it is not easily uprooted, but requires much effort, like the tree that becomes old in age, having sent down its roots deep into the earth; it cannot be easily extirpated. The more you delay the decision to eradicate the iniquities of the heart, the more time and effort it will require.

My dear, in the first place do not allow any moral vice, bad habit or evil deed to enter the realm of your inner and outer being. This task is much easier than that of expelling them after they enter, establish themselves, and start flourishing. And if they enter, the more you delay the action required to expel them, the more time and effort will it require, and they will corrupt your inner faculties in the mean time.

Our great Shaykh, the accomplished ‘arif Shahabadi-my soul be sacrificed for him—used to say that it is better to take an action against moral vices when one’s youth and its powers and vivacity are still there. At that stage one can fulfill one’s responsibilities as a human being in a better way. One should not allow oneself to delay until one’s powers have departed; as it becomes more difficult to achieve success in this regard when old age sets in. Even if, presumably, one succeeds, the effort required for the reform is, in comparison, much greater.

Therefore, if a wise person considers the evil effects

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

In a tradition, the Holy Prophet (S) has been reported to have said that every inhabitant of Paradise or Hell is consigned to it eternally on account of his or her intentions and aims. Bad intentions, which result from evil morals, cannot be shed unless their source and origin is destroyed. In that world human qualities will manifest themselves with such an intensity and power that either it is not possible for them to perish at all-in which case one is lodged eternally in the Hell—or it is possible to purge them only through torment, distress, and flames—in which case it will take a time of several centuries of the Hereafter.

Therefore, O wise man, do not allow a

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vice which can be removed by little effort of a month or a year or two, and whose removal is fully within your capacity and means, to linger on and cause the distresses of this world and the Hereafter and ultimately destroy you.

The Source Of Moral Corruption

It was mentioned earlier that faith, which is the joy and fortune of the soul, is different from knowledge, which is the pleasure and satisfaction of the intellect. All moral and behavioral corruptions ensue from the absence of faith in one’s heart i.e. whatever the intellect and reason have comprehended through rational proofs or the reports of the prophets fails to enter the heart, and the heart is unaware of their truth.

One of the doctrines which every ‘arif, Hakim, mutakallim, as well as the laity and the legists, affirm and regard as indubitable is that whatever has come into existence as the result of the stroke of the Pen of the absolutely Wise Creator, from the viewpoint of being and perfection to the apportioning of the means of sustenance among creatures and the ordination of their terms of life---everything demonstrates the utmost beauty of design and the utmost perfection of a system which is in complete accordance with the sumum bonum of the creatures and the most complete and perfect system imaginable.

However, each one of them describes this graciousness of God and His absolute wisdom in his own specific language and in accordance with the terminology of his discipline. The ‘arif says, “It is the shadow of

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the Absolute Beauty.” The Hakim says, “The system of the real world is in accordance with a scientific scheme free from any defect and evil; that which is presumed to be evil in particular instances is nothing but a means for the creatures to acquire their deserved degree of perfection.” The mutakallim and the legist believe that God’s Acts are based upon wisdom and the general good, and man’s limited intellect is incapable of comprehending the higher good intrinsic in Divine ordainments.

All subscribe to this idea and everyone sets forth an argument to prove it according to his own knowledge and intelligence. But since they do not go beyond words and have not entered the heart, voices of protest and objection can still be heard, and yet the same man, not enjoying the bounty of faith, counters his own words and confutes his own arguments. Moral vices, too, are rooted in this weakness of faith.

The one who feels jealous of others and desires for the loss of a good enjoyed by another and harbors spite against those who possess it in his heart, should know that he does not believe that it is in his own interest that God Almighty has not bestowed upon him that favor. Our limited understanding fails to comprehend the wisdom of His determinations. He should realize that he does not have faith in Divine Justice and the justness of His apportioning.

Verbally he may declare his belief in the doctrine of Divine Justice.

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But his declaration is mere words; for the belief in the justness of God is contrary to envy. If you deem Him just, then consider His ordainment to be just too, for the hadith says expressly that the envious man is resentful at God’s apportioning of gifts among His creatures and indignant at the favors conferred by Him. In accordance with the Divine instincts inherent in him, man by nature is a lover of justice. Modesty and reverence before justice and hatred and rebellion before injustice are rooted in his nature. However, if an opposite attitude is observed, it is because of a defect in his premises.

If he is indignant at the advantages enjoyed by others and is contentious about the Divine apportioning of bounties, it is on account of the fact that lie does not consider it as just, but, God forbid, regards it as unjust and cruel. It is not because he considers the Divine apportioning as just and is yet resentful of it. It is not that he considers the Divine plan to be a perfect system and absolutely good and yet is displeased with it. Alas, our faith is not complete and the intellectual proofs have not crossed the limits of reason and intellect to enter the realm of the heart. Faith is not [solely] a matter of utterance. It is not mere reading, discussing, or quoting others; it requires sincerity of intention. One who seeks God succeeds in finding Him. Those who are interested

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in Divine knowledge, seek it:

﴿وَمَنْ کَانَ فِی هَذِهِ أَعْمَی فَهُوَ فِی الْآخِرَةِ أَعْمَی وَأَضَلُّ سَبِیلاً.﴾

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

﴿وَمَنْ لَمْ یَجْعَلْ اللَّهُ لَهُ نُورًا فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ نُورٍ.﴾

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

The Practical Remedy For Envy

Besides the theoretical cure that has been mentioned above, there is a practical remedy also for this hideous vice. It consists of this: Try, forcibly, to be affectionate with the person of whom you are jealous. By making a display of your affection, your purpose should be to cure yourself of this internal malady. Your inner self will ask you to hurt him and malign him. It will demand that you treat him like an enemy and recount to you his vices and mistakes. But you act against the inclinations of your self and be friendly with him. honor him and respect him and force yourself to speak in his praise. Try to see his virtues yourself and make them known to others too, concentrating upon his good qualities.

Though your behavior will be affected and unnatural in the beginning, being artificial and feigned, but since your aim is self-rectification and curing of this vice, your behavior will gradually become less artificial. Day by day this affectation will be lessened and your self will become accustomed to it and that which was affectation will become reality. You convince your self and make it understand that he

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is a creature of God; perhaps it is God’s grace, which has selected him for the advantage that he enjoys.

If the object of your envy is a scholar endowed with knowledge and piety, and you are jealous of him due to these merits, your envy is all the more abominable and this enmity will bring you greater harm in the Hereafter. It is for you to make your self understand that they are chosen servants of God, who, through Divine grace, have been distinguished by that great merit and favor.

Such a gift ought to make one feel affectionate and kindly towards its possessors, inclining one to respect them and to be humble towards them. Hence, if one perceives that anything that should stir up love and respect in his heart is causing something that is contrary to it, he should know that the baser emotions have overpowered him and their darkness has conquered his inner self. Now it is time for him to positively resolve to get rid of it by all theoretical and practical means.

If he tries to stimulate the feelings of love and friendship in his heart, he will succeed soon, since the light of love conquers the darkness of hatred. God Almighty has promised that He will guide those who struggle and help them through His invisible grace and increase their capacities:

إنَّهُ وَلِیُّ التَّوْفِیقِ وَالهِدَایَةِ.

‘Indeed He possesses the authority to grant ability and to guide.’

The Tradition Regarding Remission Of Envy

In some of the holy traditions, it has been

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reported from the Prophet (S) that he enumerated nine things from which his Ummah have been granted remission; hasad, in case it is not expressed in one’s words or deeds, is one of them. This tradition, and others similar to it, should not, of course, prevent one from seriously uprooting the vicious tree of envy from the self and freeing the soul from this faith- consuming fire. Because, it rarely happens that this vicious thing enters the soul without breeding diverse abominations there, without its signs becoming visible, and without harming one’s faith.

It is mentioned in sahih ahadith that envy devours faith and is baleful to it, and that God Almighty disowns the envious person and would have nothing to do with him. Therefore, a thing, which is a major source of corruption and endangers all that matters to a human being should not be taken lightly due to misunderstanding the Prophetic hadith about remission of the sin of hasad.

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

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burn up any remaining traces of it, and the soul will be purged and purified.

As to the following tradition narrated by Hamzah ibn Humran:

عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: ثَلاثَةٌ لَمْ یُنَجَّ مِنْهَا نَبِیٌّ فَمَنْ دُونَهُ: التَّفَکُّرُ فِی الوَسْوَسَةِ فِی الخَلْقِ وَالطِّیَرَةُ وَالحَسَدُ، إلا أَنَّ المُؤْمِنَ لا یَسْتَعْمِلُ هَذَا (الحَسَدَ).

Abu ‘Abd Allah (Imam al-Sadiq) (A) said, “There are three things from which neither any prophet nor others below his rank are Immune: doubts about the creation, anticipation of misfortune for others, and envy, although a believer does never make use of them.”(1)

Either the statement is hyperbolic, the intention being that these form the most frequent basis of their tribulations, without their being actually subject to these vices; or hasad is used here to connote ghibtah (envy which is free of ill will); or what is meant is the inclination to wish for the loss of some of the advantages enjoyed by infidels who propagate false beliefs. Otherwise, the prophets of God and the saints are free from any taint of hasad in the real sense of the word.

A heart, which is defiled with moral evils and inner impurities, cannot receive Divine inspiration and revelation. Such a heart does not become a mirror of the light of Divine Attributes and the radiance of the Essence. Therefore, this tradition ought to be interpreted in the manner indicated above or in some other fashion, or it should be referred back to its speaker (S):

وَالحَمْدُ للهِ أَوَّلاً وَآخِراً.

And Praise is God’s, in the

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1- Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, Bab ‘al- amr bi al-ma’ruf’.

beginning and the end.

Sixth Hadith: Love Of The World


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَحْیَی، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِاللهِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ وَعَبْدِ العَزِیزِ العَبْدِیِّ، عَنْ عَبْدِاللهِ بْنِ أَبِی یَعْفُورَ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: مَنْ أَصْبَحَ وَأَمْسَی وَالدُّنْیَا أَکْبَرَ هَمِّهِ جَعَلَ اللهُ تَعَالَی الفَقْرَ بَیْنَ عَیْنَیْهِ وَشَتَّتَ أَمْرَهُ وَلَمْ یَنَلْ مِنَ الدُّنْیا إِلا مَا قَسَمَ اللهُ لَهُ. وَمَنْ أَصْبَحَ وَأَمْسَی وَالآخِرَةُ أَکْبَرَ هَمِّهِ جَعَلَ اللهُ الغِنَی فِی قَلْبِهِ وَجَمَعَ لَهُ أَمْرَهُ.

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

Exposition Of The Tradition

There are various interpretations of the terms ‘the world’ and ‘the Hereafter’ according to different views offered by mystics and scholars. Here, our objective is not to plunge into any involved discussion about hair-splitting definitions, an absorption, which keeps the wayfarer from proceeding towards his goal.

What is essential here is to understand

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

the meaning of ‘the disapproved world’ (i.e. ‘the world’ in the sense in which it is necessary for the person seeking the Hereafter to shun it) and the factors that assist man and guide him on the path of salvation. These we shall discuss, God willing, in a few sections, and implore His help and guidance in this regard.

Mawlana Majlisi On The Reality Of The World

The great researcher and peerless traditionist Mawlana Majlisi (M)(1) states: “Let it be known to you that that which can be deduced from all the verses of the Quran and the traditions in this regard, according to our understanding of them, is that ‘the accursed world’ is the sum total of all those things that prevent man from obeying God and keep him from His love and from seeking the Hereafter.

Therefore ‘the world’ and ‘the Hereafter’ are antithetical to each other: whatever causes His good pleasure and one’s nearness to Him belongs to ‘the Hereafter,’ even though apparently it should seem to be a matter of the world-such as the trade, the agriculture, the industry and the crafts whose purpose is to provide subsistence for one’s family for the sake of obedience to God’s command, for spending one’s income for charitable purposes and the welfare of the poor and needy, and to avoid dependence on others and beseeching their help.

All these activities are meant for the Hereafter, though people should consider them to be for the sake of the world. On the other hand, heretical exercises in spiritual self-discipline, sanctimonious

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1- For maintaining readability, (M) which is an acronym for “Rahimahu(m) allah” is used throughout the book to denote “May God have mercy upon him/them.”

deeds and the like, though they might be performed with great devotion and care, are meant for the world, as they cause alienation from God and do not bring man near to Him. Such are the deeds and the practices of the infidels and those who oppose the right path.”(1)

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

The Author’s View

This pauper says: ‘the world’ may sometimes be regarded as meaning the lowest level of existence and the abode of change, transition, and annihilation. ‘The Hereafter’ signifies return from this lower mode of existence to the higher, celestial plane, one’s inner world, which is the abode of permanence, stability, and eternity. These two worlds exist for every individual. The first one is the terrestrial realm of development and emergence, which is the lower plane of observable worldly existence. The other is the hidden, inward, and celestial level of existence, which is the higher plane of being of the Hereafter.

Although worldly existence is a lower and defective realm of being, but since it is a nursery for the training of lofty souls and a school for acquiring higher spiritual stations, it is a field for cultivating the

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1- Al-Majlisi, Bihar al- anwar.

Hereafter. In this sense it is the most sublime of the realms of being and the most profitable of worlds for the lovers of God and the wayfarers of the path of the Hereafter. And were it not for this terrestrial realm of matter, the domain of physical and spiritual substantial transformation and change, and if God Almighty had not made it a realm of transition and annihilation, not a single imperfect soul would have attained its promised state of perfection nor would it have been able to reach the realm of permanence and stability, nor the embodiments of imperfection would have been able to enter the Kingdom of God.

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

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

إنَّ الدُّنْیَا دَارُ صِدْقٍ لِمَنْ صَدَقَهَا وَدَارُ عَافِیَةٍ

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لِمَنْ فَهِمَ عَنْهَا وَدَارُ غِنیً لِمَنْ تَزَوَّدَ مِنْهَا وَدَارُ مَوْعِظَةٍ لِمَنِ اتَّعَظَ بِهَا. مَسْجِدُ أَحِبَّاءِ اللهِ وَمُصَلَّی مَلائِکَةِ اللهِ وَمَهْبِطُ وَحْیِ اللهِ وَمَتْجِرُ أَوْلِیَاءِ اللهِ: إکْتَسَبُوا فِیهَا الرَّحْمَةَ وَرَبِحُوا فِیهَا الجَنَّةَ.

Indeed this world is the abode of truth for him who appreciates its truthfulness, a place of safety for him who understands it, a mine of treasures for him who collects provisions from it [for the next world], and a house of instructions for him who draws lessons from it. It is the shrine of worship for those who love Allah, the house of prayer for His angels, the place where the revelations of Allah descend, and the marketplace for those devoted to Him. Herein they earn His mercy and herein they acquire Paradise by way of profit.(1)

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

قَالَ الإمَامُ الصَّادِقُ عَلَیْهِ السّلامُ: رَأْسُ کُلِّ خَطِیئَةٍ حُبُّ الدُّنْیَا.

Imam al Sadiq (A)

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1- Nahj al-balaghah (e.d. Subhi al-Salih), Hikam, No. 131.

said, “The love of the world is the source of all transgressions.”(1)

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

مَا ذِئْبَانِ ضَارِیَانِ فِی غَنَمٍ قَدْ فَارَقَهَا رِعَاؤُها: أَحَدُهُمَا فِی أَوَّلِهَا وَالآخِرُ فِی آخِرِهَا، بِأَفْسَدَ فِیهَا مِنْ حُبِّ المَالِ. وَالشَّرَفُ فِی دِینِ المُسْلِمِ.

The harm done by two ferocious wolves, one attacking from the front and the other from the rear, to a herd without a shepherd, is less rapid than the one done by the love of the world to the faith of the faithful.(2)

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

Factors That Promote Worldliness

Man is the child of this physical world, nature being his mother, and he the offspring of water and dust. The love for this world is implanted in his heart since the early time of his development and growth. As he grows this love also increases. On account of the faculties of desire and the organs of deriving pleasure that have

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 2
2- Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p.3.

been granted to him by God Almighty for the sake of the preservation of individual and species, this love grows day by day.

Since he considers this world as a place of pleasure and luxury, and death as the end of these activities, even if he is led to believe in the Hereafter, its states, conditions, and rewards by the arguments of the hukama’ or the traditions of the prophets (A), yet his heart remains unfamiliar with them and does not accept them, let alone obtaining certainty of their reality.

Due to these reasons, his love for this world and his attachment to it increase considerably. Since man naturally loves immortality, detests and evades decline and annihilation, and mistakes death for annihilation, even if his reason were to confirm this world as the house of transition and annihilation and that world as eternal and everlasting, his heart does not accept the findings of his reason if they have not entered the heart itself.

The main thing is that the belief should have entered the heart and the best state is that of complete certainty. It is for this reason that Ibrahim Khalil Allah (A) asked God to bestow upon him certainty, and that was granted to him. Therefore, as the hearts do not have faith in the Hereafter-like those of ours-though rationally we may posit its existence, they desire to remain in this world and are averse to the thought of dying and quitting this lower mode of existence.


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if our hearts become aware of the fact that this world is the lowest of the worlds and the house of decline and change and the realm of imperfection and destruction, and that there are other realms beyond death each of which is eternal and stable, perfect and permanent, where life is bliss and beatitude, our hearts would naturally acquire the love of that world and would abhor this world. And if one were to rise above this world and awake to the realities of that world, and observe the real inward form of this world and the attachment to it, this world will become unbearable for him. He will detest it, desire to leave this abode of darkness and to get rid of the shackles of time and transition, an attitude which is apparent in the words of the awliya’.

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

وَاللهِ، لابْنُ أَبِی طَالِبٍ آنَسُ بِالمَوْتِ مِنَ الطِّفْلِ بِثَدْیِ أُمِّهِ.

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


That great soul had considered the reality of this world from the viewpoint of Wilayah, and had chosen the blessed vicinity of the Most High. And were it not for the sake of the higher goals, those pure and chaste souls would not have tarried in this murky and gloomy gathering even for a single moment. To inhabit this phenomenal world of plurality, to meditate upon the worldly affairs, even with the spiritual favors, is

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1- Nahj al- balaghah, Khutab, No. 5.

a matter of great pain and sorrow for those absorbed in the love of God, a sorrow which we cannot even imagine.

Their lamentations, as reflected in their prayers and supplications, were on account of the pain of separation from the Beloved and His magnanimous vicinity, although there were no mundane or spiritual veils for them, and they had left behind them the subdued hell of nature and its attachments, their hearts being free of the defilements of physical nature. Nevertheless, the very presence in the confines of physical nature and the inevitable pleasures associated with it, even if they be very few, acts like a veil. It is on this account that the Holy Prophet (S) is quoted to have said:

لَیُغَانُ عَلَی قَلْبِی، وَإنِّی لأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ فِی کُلِّ یَوْمٍ سَبْعِینَ مَرَّةً.

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

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

Let it be known to you that each and every pleasure that man derives from this world leaves its

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trace on his heart that is indicative of its susceptibility to the physical world and a cause of its further attachment to the world. The more the enjoyments and the pleasures, the greater their impression upon the heart and the more intense its attachment to the world and love for it. This process continues until the heart completely yields to the world and its allurements.

Such a condition is the source of a great many evils. All the human transgressions, sins, and moral vices are on account of this love and attachment, as mentioned in the hadith quoted from al-Kafi. One of the greatest evils of this love, according to our Shaykh-my soul be sacrificed for him - is that if the love of the world captures the human heart and the attachments become strong, at the time of death man finds that God Almighty is separating him from his beloved and causing separation between him and the darling of his desire. As a result, he leaves the world in a state of indignation and rancor against Him.

This greatly shocking warning is enough to awaken man, that he should be extremely cautious in guarding his heart. God forbid, lest one should be indignant with the real King of kings, the Bestower of favors and the Nourisher, for none except God knows the ugly form of such a rancor and resentment.

Our honored Shaykh also related of his father that he was extremely disturbed during the last years of his life

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regarding his love for one of his sons. But after doing exercises in spiritual self-discipline for some time he was relieved of this attachment. He was greatly satisfied on this account before he retired to the abode of eternal bliss. May God be pleased with him.

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

مَثَلُ الدُّنْیَا کَمَثَلِ مَاءِ البَحْرِ؛ کُلَّمَا شَرِبَ مِنْهُ العَطْشَانُ ازْدَادَ عَطَشاً حَتَّی یَقْتُلَهُ.

The example of the world is that of sea water; the more a thirsty person drinks from it, the thirstier he becomes until it kills him.(1)

The love of the world destroys man eternally, and it is the source of his affliction with inward and outward villainies.

The Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said:

The Dirham and the Dinar have destroyed many a people before you and they will destroy you too.

Even if a person is not, supposedly, afflicted by other vices, which is improbable or rather impossible, the sole attachment to the world is sufficient to cause many an affliction. The criterion of the length of the period of detention in the world beyond the grave and the Barzakh is the amount of intensity of these associations and attachments.

The lesser they are, the more spacious and brighter his place in the grave and the Barzakh, and consequently the lesser the period of one’s detention therein. Hence the awliya’, according to some traditions, do not have to experience

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. iii, p. 205.

the conditions of the grave for more than three days, and that too for the sake of the inherent and natural attachment that they had in the life of this world.

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

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

لا تَخَافَنَّکَ المَوْتُ، فَإنَّ مَرَارَتَهُ فِی خَوْفِهِ.

Death itself will never frighten you; its bitterness lies in being afraid of it.(1)

Another great evil caused by the love of the world is that it keeps man from religious exercises, devotional rites, and prayers, and strengthens his physical nature. It inculcates disobedience within his physical nature to the commands of his spirit. As a result it weakens his power of resolution and debilitates the will, whereas one of the main secrets and aims of worship and religious exercises is to make the body, the physical faculties, and the natural instincts subordinate to the spirit, so that the will may

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1- Mir Damad, al-Qabasat, p. 72.

control them and force the body to act according to its wishes and prevent it from whatever the spirit wants it to abstain from.

If the spirit dominates the body, the domain of the body and the physical faculties is brought under the control of the spirit in a way that everything it wishes the body to perform would be performed without the slightest hardship and hindrance. One of the virtues and secrets of austere worships and laborious devotional exercises is that they are more conducive to the attainment of this goal.

Through them man can-acquire a strong will and resolution, and overcome his physical nature. If the will becomes complete and perfect and the resolution strong and powerful, the domain of the human body and its external and internal faculties acquires angelic characteristics, and he becomes similar to the angels of God who never transgress Divine commands, obey readily, without any resistance or compulsion, whatever He orders them to do, and refrain from doing whatever they are forbidden from. If the physical faculties of man come under the domination of his spirit, all hardships and hindrances disappear and a state of ease and tranquility prevails. When that happens, the ‘seven realms’ of physical nature will become subservient to the heavenly forces, and all the faculties will act as their functionaries.

Therefore, my dear, the strength of will power and resolution is very important and effective in that world. In fact, the strength of will is the criterion of entry into

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one of the levels of Paradise, which is one of the highest heavens. Unless one possesses a strong will and powerful resolution he cannot gain that heaven and that high station. It is reported in a tradition that when the virtuous are stationed in Paradise, a message will be sent to them from the Holy God, saying, “This is the message sent by the Eternal and the Immortal to the one who is also eternal and immortal:

Whatever I command to be, it comes into existence; today I bestow on you authority to command whatever you desire to bring into existence and it would come into existence.” You can see what a great authority and distinction that would be. What sort of power they have whose resolution and will shall be the manifestation of the Divine Will so that they will be able to grant the apparel of existence to non-existents. It shows that the power of will and resolution is superior to all the physical faculties. And it is also obvious that this message will not be sent out of extravagance and without proper Judgment. Those whose will is subordinated to their bestial desires and whose resolution has become dead and inert, they cannot attain this station. The Almighty’s Acts are free from extravagance and vain indulgence.

In this world everything is based on a system in which all means and ends are arranged according to an order. In that world, too, all matters will be arranged in a

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similar manner, or rather that world represents the highest harmony between causes and effects, means and ends. The power and authority of the will is to be cultivated in this world. This world is the sowing ground of the Hereafter; it is the substance out of which the rewards of heaven as well as the misfortunes of hell are carved out.

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

أَفْضَلُ الأَعْمَالِ أَحْمَزُهَا.

The best of deeds are those, which are the most difficult.(1)

For instance, waking up for the sake of praying to God Almighty in the biting cold of a winter night and sacrificing the delights of sound sleep makes the soul triumphant over the body and strengthens the will. Though it is a bit difficult and unpleasant in the beginning, but after a little practice its hardship and inconvenience becomes lesser and lesser and the subservience of the body to the soul grows.

We see the people who perform it doing all this without any trouble, and if we are lazy and find it difficult,

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 9.

it is because we do not take action. But if we force ourselves to act, gradually the difficulty turns into ease. The people who offer the nightly prayer derive great enjoyment out of it, even more than the pleasure we derive from carnal enjoyments. The self becomes habituated through action, and goodness becomes enduring by becoming habitual.

These worships have several advantages, one of them is that the form that they acquire in that world is so beautiful that its parallel cannot be found in this world, and we are unable to visualize it. Another is that the soul acquires will power and resolution, which by itself has numerous advantages, and we have mentioned one of them.

Yet another is that it familiarizes man with the worship and remembrance of God, bringing the unreal to the Real, and turning the heart towards the King of kings, stirring in it the love for the Beauty of the Real Beloved, and diminishing the attachment to and concern for the world and the Hereafter.

Perhaps, if this divine passion is produced and a state is achieved in which he knows the real objective of worship and the real secret of meditation and remembrance, both the worlds would lose their significance for him; the vision of the Beloved wipes out the dust of duality from the mirror of the heart, and God alone knows how magnanimously He will treat such a devotee.

Therefore, the practice of the exercises prescribed by the Shari’ah, the worships and

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the rites, and abstention from carnal desires and lusts, strengthen the human will power and resolution. On the other hand, immersion in sinful physical nature weakens human resolution and will, as mentioned earlier.

It is known to every man of conscience that man is drawn towards Absolute Perfection in accordance with his nature and inherent disposition. The better part of his heart is attracted towards Absolute Beauty and the Most Perfect in all aspects. This characteristic of man is innate in his nature and ingrained in it by God Almighty. Accordingly, the will is a means for the fulfillment of the search of the lovers of Absolute Beauty.

However, everyone, in accordance with his own state and condition, has his own idea of perfection, and he sees perfection in something towards which he is attracted. Those who work for the sake of the Hereafter perceive perfection in otherworldly stages and grades and their hearts are turned towards them. And the men of God, who, beholding perfection in His beauty and beauty in His perfection, say:

﴿إنِّی وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِی لِلَّذِی فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ.﴾

I have turned my face towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth. (6:79)

And they say:

وَلِی مَعَ اللهِ حَالٌ.

My ecstasy lies in God.

They long for union with Him, and are in love with His Beauty. The worldlings, since they perceive perfection in worldly comforts and luxuries, those things having acquired beauty in their sight and charmed them, are naturally attracted towards them. Nevertheless, since man’s natural inclination is towards absolute

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perfection, all the worldly attachments are basically errors of Judgment.

Therefore, the greater his mastery over worldly or otherworldly benefits, whether they are spiritual accomplishments, authority, power, or material treasures, his longing for them increases and the flame of love grows brighter and more ferocious. For example, the sensual appetites of a lusty man will increase if he is given more chances of fulfilling his sensual desires; he will desire some other fulfillment that is not available to him, and the furnace of his lust will become hotter and wilder.

In the same way, if the man ambitious for power and authority is allowed to establish his authority over one region, he will turn towards yet another. If the whole earth comes under his domination, he will think of invading other spheres in order to bring them under his dominion. He is not aware that his natural instincts crave for something else. The instinctive love and the natural quest of man is directed towards the Absolute Beloved. All substantial, physical, and intentional motions, all attentions of the heart and the inclinations of the self are directed towards the beauty of Absolute Beauty, yet human beings do not realize it.

They abuse this love, this desire, and this longing, which is meant to be the Buraq (the mount upon which the Prophet (S) is said to have performed the nocturnal journey through the universe called Mi’raj) meant for ascension to heaven, the wings to fly to union with the Absolute, by

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wasting it on unworthy ends and by confining it within absurd barriers and limits, thus missing their goal.

In short, since man’s inclination towards absolute perfection is innate, the greater his greed for worldly allurements the more he accumulates them and the more is his heart attracted towards them. Since he mistakenly believes the world and worldly fascinations to be the desired ultimate goal his greed grows day by day and his desire for them multiplies. His need for the world increases and poverty and deprivation becomes his fate.

On the contrary, those who work for the Hereafter, their attention towards the world diminishes, their attention towards the Hereafter increases with their interest therein, and the love for this world and the interest therein diminishes in their hearts till they care no more about the world and its allurements. A sense of richness and plentitude is lodged within their hearts and the treasures of this world lose their value in their sight. Therefore, the men of God are oblivious of both the worlds and free of care for both of them. Their only need is related to Absolute Plentitude. Absence of need and presence of plentitude are infused in their hearts by the light of the Needless-in-Itself.

In the light of the above exposition, the tradition means to say that whosoever makes the world his biggest concern from morning till night, God Almighty puts poverty into his eyes. And whosoever spends his morning and evening making the Hereafter his biggest concern, God

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Almighty puts plentitude into his heart. It is obvious that the one whose heart attends to the, Hereafter, for him all the worldly matters become insignificant, trivial, and easy. ‘ He views the world as temporary, transitory; and short-lived, a place where he is for the sole purpose of educating and training himself.

He is indifferent to its sufferings and joys. His needs become few, and his dependence on the matters of the world and its inhabitants becomes lesser, and reaches a point where he has no need of them at all. His affairs become integrated and organized, and an inalienable sense of contentment enters his heart.

Therefore, the more you look at this world with wonder and love, the more your heart will be attached to it, and your need for it will also increase proportionally to your love. A sense of poverty and privation will appear on the surface of your personality, your affairs will become disjointed and dissipated. Your heart will become anxious, melancholic, and fearful, and your affairs will not be carried out according to your wishes.

Your hope and greed will increase day by day. Grief and regret will seize you; bewilderment and despair will invade your heart. Some of these points have been alluded to in the following traditions from al-Kafi:

عَنْ حَفْصِ بْنِ قُرْطٍ عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: مَنْ کَثُرَ اشْتِبَاکُهُ بِالدُّنْیَا کَانَ أَشَدَّ لحَِسْرَتِهِ عِنْدَ فِرَاقِهَا.

On the authority of Hafs ibn Qurt, Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) is reported to have said,

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“The greater one’s involvement with the world, the greater shall be his regret at the time of parting from it”(1)

عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِی یَعْفُورَ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: مَنْ تَعَلَّقَ قَلْبُهُ بِالدُّنْیَا تَعَلَّقَ قَلْبُهُ بِثَلاثِ خِصَالٍ: هَمٍّ لا یَفْنَی وَأَمَلٍ لا یُدْرَکُ وَرَجَاءٍ لا یُنَالُ.

Ibn Abi Ya’fur says: I heard Abu ‘Abd Allah as saying, “Whoever has a heart attached to the world, has three things attached to his heart: unremitting sadness, unfulfilled desire, and unachievable hope.”(2)

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

So, my dear, now you know about the evils of this love and attachment, and have learnt how this love can destroy a human being. It deprives the human being of his’ faith, and makes a mess of his life in the Hereafter as well as in this world. Make up your mind, and try to curtail your love and loosen the bondage to this world as far as

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 9.
2- Usul al-Kafi, vol. iv, p. 9

possible. Eradicate its roots, and consider this short life in this world as insignificant.

Do not attach any value to its pleasures, mixed as they are with punishment, sorrow, and pain. Seek help from God, so that He may succor you in relieving your self from its scourge and suffering, and familiarize your heart with the noble abode that lies with Him. And whatever lies with God is better and lasting.

Seventh Hadith: Anger (Ghadhab)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِیسَی، عَنْ یُونُسَ، عَنْ دَاوُدَ بْنِ فَرْقَدٍ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: الغَضَبُ مِفْتُاحُ کُلِّ شَرٍّ.

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


The great researcher Ahmad ibn Muhammad, popularly known as Ibn Maskawayh, in his book Taharat al-’a’raq, which is a fine book of rare excellence in beauty of style and orderliness of contents, writes something which can be summarized as follows: Anger, in fact, is an inner psychic movement due to which a state of agitation is produced in the heart’s blood, arousing a desire for vengeance. And when this agitation becomes more violent, it intensifies the fire of anger.

A violent commotion in the blood seizes the heart, filling the arteries and the brain with a flurry of dark smoke, on account of which the mind and the intellect lose

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

control and become powerless. At that time, as the hukama’ maintain, the inner state of the person resembles a cave where fire has broken out, filling it with flames and suffocating clouds of smoke that leap out of its mouth with intense heat and a fiery howl.

When that happens, it becomes extremely difficult to pacify such a person and to extinguish the fire of his wrath; whatever is thrown in it to cool it down becomes a part of it, adding to its intensity. It is for this reason that such a man becomes blinded to propriety and deaf to guidance. In such a condition, there is no hope for him.

Then Ibn Maskawayh adds: “Hippocrates says that he is more hopeful about a ship encircled by a fierce storm and violent winds which has been knocked away from its course by the sea waves into rocky waters, than about an enraged person. Because, in such conditions, the sailors may somehow manage to save the ship by means of clever maneuvers, but there is no hope of deliverance for the soul engulfed in rage; for all such efforts as counsel, advice, and exhortation fail to appease him. The more one tries to pacify it through humble entreaties and tearful supplications, the more violent it becomes.”

Advantages Of Al-Quwwah Al-Ghadabiyyah (The Power Of Anger)

It should be known that the Power of Anger is one of the biggest favors of God conferred upon His creatures, by means of which they are enabled to pursue activities constructive to their world

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and Hereafter, are assured the continuity of the species as well as, the safety and survival of the individual and the family.

It also plays a great role in the establishment and maintenance of social order and civic life.’ If this noble faculty were not ingrained in the animal’s nature, it would not have been able to defend itself against natural adversities, and would have been defenseless against the dangers of destruction and extinction. And if it were absent in the human nature, man would have failed to achieve most of his accomplishments and attainments.

Moreover, even its deficiency and insufficient presence below the moderate level is itself considered a moral weakness and flaw which gives rise to innumerable vices and defects like: fear; timidity; weakness; laxity; laziness; greed; lack of restraint, patience and tolerance; lack of constancy and perseverance when needed; love of comfort; torpor; lethargy; submissiveness to oppression and tyranny; submitting to insults and disgraces to which an individual or his family may be subjected; dastardliness; spiritlessness, etc. Describing the qualities of the believers God Almighty says:

﴿أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَی الْکُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَیْنَهُمْ.﴾

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

The fulfillment of the duty of al-’Amr bi al-ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar (to enjoin good conduct. and forbid indecency), the implementation of hudud (punishment prescribed by the Islamic penal law), ta’zirat (punishments adjudged by a judge), and the carrying out of other policies set forth by religion or guided by reason, would not have been possible

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without the existence of this noble Power of Anger.

On this basis, those who believe in eradicating the Power of Anger and consider its destruction as an accomplishment and mark of perfection are highly mistaken and in great error, ignorant as they are about the signs of perfection and the bounds of moderation.

Poor fellows, they do not know that God Almighty has not created this noble faculty in vain in all the species belonging to the animal kingdom. To the children of Adam (A) He bestowed this power as the source of securing a good life in this world and the Hereafter, and a vehicle for procuring various blessings and felicities.

The holy jihad with the enemies of the Din; the struggle for the preservation of mankind’s social order; the defense and protection of one’s own life, property and honor, as well as the Divine values and laws; and above all the combat with one’s inner self, which is the biggest enemy of man, none of these could be possible without the existence of this noble faculty.

It is under the banner of this noble faculty that aggressions and encroachments upon rights are repelled, borders and frontiers are protected, and other social and individual offences, noxious practices, and harmful deeds are checked. It is for this very reason that the hukama’ have recommended various remedies for treating any deficiency in this Power, and prescribed numerous practical and theoretical remedies for the purpose of its regeneration, like participation in acts

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of heroism and going to battlefronts on the occasion of war with the enemies of God.

It is even narrated of some sages that they used to visit risky places, stayed there and exposed themselves to great perils and dangers. They would board a ship at a time while the sea was turbulent and stormy, so that they might get rid of fear and overcome their timidity and sluggishness.

In any case, the Power of Anger is ingrained in the nature of human beings and animals, except that in some cases it is dormant and torpid, like a fire smouldering under the ashes. If someone perceives in himself any signs of torpor and lack of the sense of honor, he must try to overcome this condition by means of its antidote, courage, which is a commendable quality and a moral virtue, to return to a normal state. We shall have occasion to refer to it again in due course.

Vice Of Immoderation In Anger

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

عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: الغَضَبُ یُفْسِدُ الإیمَانَ کَمَا یُفْسِدُ الخَلُّ العَسَلَ.

It is reported on the authority of Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Apostle of

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God (S) said, “Anger spoils faith in the same way as vinegar destroys honey.”(1)

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

إنَّ هَذَا الغَضَبَ جَمْرَةٌ مِنَ الشَّیْطَانِ تُوقَدُ فِی قَلْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ.

Indeed, this anger is the spark lit by Satan in the heart of the son of Adam.(2)

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

مَکْتُوبٌ فِی التَّوْرَاةِ فِی مَا نَاجَی اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بِهِ مُوسَی عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: یَا مُوسَی أَمْسِکْ غَضَبَکَ عَمَّنْ مَلَّکْتُکَ عَلَیْهِ أَکُفَّ عَنْکَ غَضَبِی.

It is recorded in the Torah regarding that which God Almighty confided to Moses (A), saying: “O Moses, control your anger towards those over whom I have given you authority, so that I may spare you from My Wrath.”(3)

It must be known that no fire is more painful than the fire of Divine Wrath. It is mentioned in a tradition that Jesus, the son of Mary, was asked by his disciples as to

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 412.
2- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 415.
3- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 415.

which of the things is the hardest to bear. “The Fury of the Most High God is the hardest thing to bear,” he replied. They questioned him, “How can we save ourselves from it?” “By not getting angry,” Jesus said.

Therefore, it must be obvious that God’s Wrath is more painful and severer than any thing else, and the fire of His Fury is most destructive. The Hereafterly form of our anger in this world is the fire of Divine Wrath in the next world. In the same way as anger emanates from the heart, perhaps the fire of Divine Wrath, which is the abode of our anger and all other inner vices, will also emanate from the inner depths of the heart and spread over the external being, and its tormenting flames will emerge from the external sense organs like the eyes, the ears, and the tongue.

Rather, the external senses are themselves the doors which shall be opened to the fire of Hell. The fire of the hell of deeds and the physical hell encompasses the without and travels towards the within. Hence man is tortured from both the sides by these two hells: one emanates from within the heart and its flames enter the body through pia mater of the brain, and the other, which is the result of the vicious deeds, advances towards the inner being from without, and man is subjected to torments and pressures.

What sort of torment and torture it will be? God alone knows

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what pain and distress it will bring in addition to the burning and melting. You imagine that the topological mode of the Hell’s encompassment is something that you know. Here things are surrounded only externally and outwardly; but in that world, encirclement will occur both externally and internally; it will cover the outer surface of the body as well as the inner depths of the human heart and being.

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

﴿أُوْلَئِکَ کَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ.﴾

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

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

﴿فَهِیَ کَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً.﴾

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

All this that you have heard about the evil effects of this consuming fire of anger

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is merely a fraction of its danger. It holds true in cases where no other vice and offence spring from it, that is, if this inner fire lies dormant in the inner darkness, having been choked and suffocated, although having extinguished the light of faith by its dense smoke.

However, it is very rare, or rather impossible, that in a fit of its intense conflagration one should remain immune from committing other, even mortal, sins. It happens that in a brief outburst of anger, this cursed firebrand thrown by the Devil, man falls over the precipice of destruction and doom. He may even, God be our refuge, abuse the prophets of God and saints, assassinate an innocent person, or desecrate something holy, thus bringing about his own destruction in the world as well as in the Hereafter, as is mentioned in a hadith of al-Kafi:

عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ فِی حَدِیثٍ: کَانَ أَبِی یَقُولُ: أَیُّ شَیْءٍ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الغَضَبِ؟ إنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَیَغْضَبُ فَیَقْتُلُ النَّفْسَ الَّتِی حَرَّمَ اللهُ وَیَقْذِفُ المُحْصَنَةَ.

It is reported from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said that his father used to say: “Is there anything more violent than anger? Verily, a man gets angry and kills someone whose blood has been forbidden by God, or slanders a married woman.”(1)

Many atrocious deeds have been committed under a spell of anger and its agitation. Therefore, one, while in a state of tranquility of mind, should be apprehensive of his own anger if he is in a habit of often getting

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 415.

angry. He should contemplate upon its cure, when in a state of mental composure, and think about its causes, its bad consequences and repercussions, and he should strive to get rid of it.

He should consider that a faculty which was granted by God Almighty for the sake of the preservation of the world’s order, for the continuity and survival of human species and individual, for the discipline and order of the family system, for the advancement and progress of humankind, and for protecting human rights and safeguarding Divine laws, a faculty under whose shadow the visible as well as the invisible system of the visible world and the hidden world is to be reformed and maintained, if he acts contrary to this purpose and makes use of this power against the Divine design, it will be a breach of trust of a severe kind that deserves censure and punishment.

What an act of ignorance and injustice it is not to fulfill the Divine trust, by employing what could be easily employed for the purposes of justice in incurring His Wrath. It is clear that such a person will not be sheltered from the Divine Wrath. Hence it is in order to think seriously about the moral vices and vicious deeds that are the outcome of anger, and to try to remove the effects of this crooked quality, each one of which is capable of afflicting a person till eternity, causing many a calamity in this world as well as

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chastisement and damnation in the Hereafter.

Moral Hazards Of Anger

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

Its Behavioral Hazards

There is no limit to the behavioral hazards that are products of this vice. Perhaps, it may lead one, God save us, to use abusive language or revile the prophets of God and awliya’. Or he may desecrate sanctities and utter slanders about venerable persons. He may murder a pious soul, wreck the lives of innocent creatures, wreck a family, or reveal the secrets of others tearing up the veils that cover them. There seems to be no limit to such monstrous acts that man may commit at the time of outbreak of this faith-consuming fire that also destroys many homes.

As such, it can be said that this habit is the mother of all spiritual maladies and the key to each and every evil action. As opposed to this vice is the ability to

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restrain one’s anger. This ability to extinguish the fire of anger has been considered the essence of wisdom and the focus of all virtues and noble qualities, as stated in this tradition of al-Kafi:

عِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنِ النَّضْرِ بْنِ سُوَیْدٍ، عَنِ القَاسِمِ بْنِ سُلَیْمَانَ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبِی عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: أَتَی رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِه رَجُلٌ بَدَوِیٌّ فَقَالَ: إنِّی أَسْکُنُ البَادِیَةَ، فَعَلِّمْنِی جَوامِعَ الکَلامِ. فَقَالَ: آمُرُکَ أَنْ لا تَغْضَبَ. فَأَعَادَ عَلَیْهِ الأعْرَابِیُّ المَسْأَلَةَ ثَلاثَ مَرَّاتٍ حَتّی رَجَعَ الرَّجُلُ إلَی نَفْسِهِ فَقَالَ: لا أَسْأَلُ عَنْ شَیْءٍ بَعْدَ هَذَا.مَا أَمَرَنِی رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ إلا بِالخَیْرِ.

قَالَ: وَکَانَ أَبِی یَقُولُ: أَیُّ شَیْءٍ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الغَضَبِ؟ إنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَیَغْضَبُ فَیَقْتُلُ النَّفْسَ الَّتِی حَرَّمَ اللهُ وَیَقْذِفُ المُحْصَنَةَ.

(Al-Kulayni says) From a number of our (i.e. al-Kulayni’s) companions, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid (al-Barqi), who narrates on the authority of a chain of narrators from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he heard his father (Imam al-Baqir [A]) as saying: “A Bedouin came to the Prophet (S) and said: ‘I live in the desert. Teach me the essence of wisdom.’ Thereupon the Prophet (S) said to him: ‘I command you not to get angry’ After repeating his question thrice (and hearing the same reply from the Prophet every time) the Bedouin said to himself: ‘After this I will not ask any question, since the Apostle of God (S) does not command anything but good’.” Imam al-Sadiq (A) says, “My father used

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to say, ‘Is there anything more violent than anger? Verily, a man gets angry and kills someone whose blood has been forbidden by God, or slanders a married woman.”(1)

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

Controlling Anger

There are also several practical and theoretical remedies for curing anger when it has flared up. The theoretical remedy involves reflecting upon the matters mentioned above, which is also a kind of practical remedy in this case. But among the practical remedies the important ones involve withholding of the self in the initial stages of anger. This is because it is ignited little by little, becoming more intense until its furnace is set burning fiercely and its flame becomes violent and furious. When that happens, it gets completely out of control and shuts off the lights of one’s faith and intellect. Blowing off the lamp of guidance, it

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 415.

reduces man to an utterly wretched state.

Therefore, one should be on one’s guard so as to dissociate oneself by some means before its fierceness mounts and its fire becomes more violent. He should either leave the place where his anger may be provoked, or change his posture: that is, if seated, he should stand up, and if standing sit down, or engage his mind in the remembrance of God (some people consider it even obligatory), or he should make himself busy in some other activity to divert his attention.

In any case, it is easier to put a curb on it in the beginning. It has two results. Firstly, he will be able to pacify his self at that early stage and the flames of anger will be put out. Secondly, the experience will always remain with one as a primary cure for treating one’s self. If one always pays attention to one’s condition and treats one’s self in this way, one will undergo a complete transformation as one’s inner state moves towards the point of moderation. An allusion to this matter is made in the following traditions from al-Kafi:

عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إنَّ هَذَا الغَضَبَ جَمْرَةٌ مِنَ الشَّیْطَانِ تُوقَدُ فِی قَلْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ. وَإنَّ أَحَدَکُمْ إذَا غَضِبَ احْمَرَّتْ عَیْنَاهُ وَانْتَفَخَتْ أَوْدَاجُهُ وَدَخَلَ الشَّیْطَانُ فِیهِ. فَإذَا خَافَ أَحَدُکُمْ ذَلِکَ مِنْ نَفْسِهِ فَلْیَلْزَمِ الأَرْضَ، فَإنَّ رِجْزَ الشَّیْطَانِ لَیَذْهَبُ عَنْهُ عِنْدَ ذَلِکَ.

It is reported from al ‘Imam al-Baqir (A) that he said, “Verily, anger is a spark ignited

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by the Devil in the human heart. Indeed, when anyone of you gets angry, his eyes become red, the veins of his neck become swollen and Satan enters them. Therefore, whosoever among you is concerned about himself on account of it, he should lie down for a while so that the filth of Satan may be removed from him at the time.”(1)


عَنْ مَیْسِرٍ قَالَ: ذُکِرَ الغَضَبُ عِنْدَ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ فَقَالَ: إنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَیَغْضَبُ فَمَا یَرْضَی أَبَداً حَتَّی یَدْخُلَ النَّارَ. فَأَیُّمَا رَجُلٍ غَضِبَ عَلَی قَوْمٍ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ فَلْیَجْلِسْ مِنْ فَوْرِهِ ذَلِکَ، فَإنَّهُ سَیَذْهَبُ عَنْهُ رِجْزُ الشَّیْطَانِ. وَأَیُّمَا رَجُلٍ غَضِبَ عَلَی ذِی رَحِمٍ فَلْیَدْنُ مِنْهُ فَلْیَمِسَّهُ. فَإنَّ الرَّحِمَ إذَا مُسَّتْ سَکَنَتْ.

Maysir reports that once anger was discussed in the presence of Imam al Baqir (A). He said, “Verily, it happens that an angry person would not be satisfied until he enters the Fire (i.e. his anger does not subside unless it drags him into the hellfire). Therefore, whoever is angry with someone let him sit down immediately if he is standing; for, indeed, it would repel from him the uncleanliness of Satan. And whoever gets angry with his kinsman, let him approach him and pat him; for the feeling of consanguinity, when stimulated by touch, induces calmness.”(2)

These two traditions suggest two practical remedies of anger in its initial stage. One is general and recommends sitting down and bringing about a change in posture (according to another tradition, if somebody be seated at the time of getting angry, he should

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 415.
2- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Tehran), Vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi, p. 415.

stand up). It is reported by Sunni sources that the Apostle of God (S), if he ever got angry while standing, would sit down, and if seated, would recline, and his anger would subside. The other remedy which is particular is concerned with blood relations and suggests that if anybody gets angry with someone related to him by blood, if he touches him with his hand his anger will cool down.

These are the methods of curing oneself of one’s anger; but if others want to treat an enraged person, if his anger is in the initial stage, any one of the methods from among the various practical and theoretical ones suggested may be useful. But if he is in extreme anger, advice and counsel give opposite results, and it becomes very difficult to treat him in this stage, except by being put in a state of alarm by someone whom he holds in high esteem; for anger vents itself on those whom one deems weaker and inferior to oneself or at least as equal in power and position. But in front of those persons with whom he is impressed, his anger is never provoked.

Rather his outer excitement and agitation will be transformed into an internal fury confined to his inner self. Not finding any outlet, it will change into a grief within the heart. Hence, it is not at all an easy task to appease a person undergoing outbursts of extreme rage. We seek refuge in God from it.

How To Eradicate The Roots Of Anger

Among the

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fundamental remedies of anger, one is to exterminate the factors responsible for its provocation. They are many, and here we can mention only a few of them. One of them is self-love, which in ‘turn begets the love of wealth, glory, and honor and the desire to impose one’s will and expand one’s domain of power.

These factors are inherently responsible for exciting the fire of anger, as the individual infatuated with these things tends to hold them in high regard and they occupy a high place in his heart. He, improperly, gets angry and excited if any one of these aspired goals is not achieved or when his desire faces any obstacle and loses control over himself. Greed, avarice, and such other vices that take root in his heart as a result of self-love and the love of glory, snatch the reins of reason from his hands, leaving the self to commit deeds that deviate from the path of Divine Law and reason.

But if his love and interest in these things is not intense-and he gives lesser importance to these matters, his inner calm and contentment, obtained by giving up the love of wealth, honor and the like, will not allow his self to act against the demands of justice. Then, he will not find it difficult to maintain his patience in hardships, and will not lose grip of self-restraint. He would not get angry unnecessarily and abnormally. If the love of the world is eradicated from his

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heart and this vice is completely wiped out, then all other vices also take leave and vanish from it, vacating the realm of the soul to be taken over by moral virtues.

Another factor that arouses anger is that sometimes anger and its evil manifestations, which are in fact great moral defects and indecencies, are imagined to be merits and accomplishments on account of ignorance and lack of understanding. Some fools reckon those vices as marks of bravery and courage and brag about themselves on account of them. They confuse the virtue of valor, which is a superb attribute of the believer’s character and a commendable quality, with this pernicious vice.

However, it should be noted that courage or valor is a different thing, and its source, its causes, effects and characteristics differ totally from those of that injurious vice. Courage originates in the strength of one’s spirit, serenity of mind, moderateness, faith, and lack of concern for the vanities of life and indifference to its vicissitudes; whereas anger is the product of spiritual weakness and degeneration, insufficiency of faith, immoderation of character and soul, love of the world and concern for mundane things and the fear of losing the pleasures of life.

Hence this vice is found more frequently in women than in men, more in sick individuals than in healthy people, more in children than in grown ups, more in the elderly than in young people. Valor and courage is its opposite. Those suffering from moral infirmities are more

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liable to get angry sooner than those who are morally sound. Thus, we often see such people get angry sooner and becoming fiercer if any encroachment is made upon their property than the others.

This was about the origins and motives of anger and courage. However, they are also different as to their effects. The irascible person, when under the spell of anger and its excitement, behaves unreasonably like a lunatic or like an animal which acts without rationally considering the consequences of its actions, and commits ugly and indecent acts. His tongue, limbs, and other parts of the body go out of his control. His eyes, lips and mouth are distorted in such an ugly manner that he will be ashamed of his ugly features if he is shown a mirror at the time.

Some persons who are afflicted with this vice not only do not refrain from venting their anger on innocent animals, but do not spare even inanimate things. They curse air, water, earth, snow, rain and other elements of nature if anything happens against their wish. Sometimes they vent their fury on a book, pen, glass or jug, tearing it up or breaking it into pieces.

But the behavior of a courageous person is different in all these matters. His acts are based on reason and tranquility of soul. He gets angry on the proper occasion and is patient and restrained when required to be so. He is not provoked or incensed by each and every annoyance. He

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becomes angry on the proper occasion to the proper extent and takes his vengeance with reason and discretion. He knows well as to against whom to take his revenge, on what occasion, to what degree and in what manner, and as to whom he should forgive and what to overlook and ignore.

In the state of anger, he does not lose control of his reason, and he never makes use of indecent language nor acts indiscreetly. All his acts are based on rational considerations and are in accordance with the norms of justice and Divine Law. He always acts in such a manner so as not to regret later on.

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

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

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be to God.

Eighth Hadith: Prejudice (‘Asabiyyah)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنِ النَّوْفَلِیِّ، عَنِ السَّکُونِیِّ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: مَنْ کَانَ فِی قَلْبِهِ حَبَّةٌ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ مِنْ عَصَبِیَّةٍ بَعَثَهُ اللهُ یَوْمَ القِیَامَةِ مَعَ أَعْرَابِ الجَاهِلِیَّةِ.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (al-Kulayni), from ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from al-Nawfali, from al-Sakuni, who reports on the authority of Abu ‘Abd Allah (Imam al-Sadiq ) (A) that the Prophet (S) said, “Whosoever possesses in his heart ‘asabiyyah (prejudice in any of its forms such as tribalism, racism, nationalism) even to the extent of a mustard seed, God will raise him on the Day of Resurrection with the (pagan) Bedouins of the Jahiliyyah (the pre-Islamic era).”(1)


Although now khardal is current in modern Persian for the mustard seed, the word for it in old Persian was espandan. It is said that the mustard seed has many medicinal uses and is also used for making candles. As to the word ‘asabiyyah it is the characteristic of the person who supports his kinsmen and relatives even for a wrong and unjust cause.

‘Usbah refers to paternal relatives, as they are more likely to be those among whom one is surrounded (‘asaba: to wrap around) and those from whom one derives strength (‘asaba means, also, to bind). ‘Asabiyyah and ta’assub in general give the sense of favoring and defending. So much for the lexical meaning.

As to its nature, I believe that ‘asabiyyah is an inner

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Intisharat ‘Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Tehran), vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), p. 419.

psychic quality which is manifested in patronizing and defending one’s kindred and those with whom one has some kind of affinity or relation, whether it be religious creed or ideology, or whether it be soil or home. The affinity may also be similarity of profession or the relationship of teacher and pupil, or something else. It is a moral vice and an abominable trait which itself begets many more moral and behavioral deviations and vices as well. In itself a condemnable quality, it may take the form of defense of truth or religion, but in reality it is not aimed to defend a just and truthful cause but for extending one’s own influence or that of one’s co-religionists and allies.

As to the defense of truth, the efforts to disseminate it and to posit something which is true, are either not ‘asabiyyah, or, if they are, represent a commendable kind of it. The criterion lies in the distinct aims and purposes, and to the extent to which it involves selfish and diabolical ends or serves just and godly purposes.

In other words, when a man supports his kinsmen and friends, if he does so purely for the sake of upholding justice and defeating injustice, this kind of ‘asabiyyah is commendable and praiseworthy; because supporting justice and truth is among the sublimest of human qualities, being one of the attributes of the prophets of God (A) and His awliya’. Its sign is that one should support the party which is on the

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side of truth and justice, even though it may consist of one’s enemies.

Such a person is a defender and lover of truth; he will be counted among the champions of human sublimity, a rightful citizen of the ideal human society, and a wholesome member of society whose presence exerts a reforming influence on the evils of the public. And if one’s selfish and tribal instincts arouse him to defend and patronize the vices and wrongs of his kinsmen and associates, he is inflicted with the vice of ‘asabiyyah; he is a corrupt member of society, who corrupts it by confusing vice with virtue, and stands with the Bedouins of the Jahiliyyah, who were a group of nomadic Arabs who inhabited the desert before the advent of Islam, in an era of prevalence of darkness and ignorance.

This vice had taken hold of them to the highest degree, and among Arabs in general, who are guided by the light of guidance (through Islam) this vice is more than in any other nation. According to a tradition reported from Imam ‘Ali (A), God Almighty will punish six groups of people for six kinds of sins: He will punish the Arabs for ‘asabiyyah, the peasants for pride, the rulers for oppression, the jurisprudents for jealousy, the merchants for dishonesty, and the villagers for ignorance.

The Evils Of ‘Asabiyyah

From traditions narrated from the Household of the Prophet (S) it may be inferred that the vice of ‘asabiyyah is one of the fatal sins, which results in an

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evil life in the Hereafter and drives man out from the precincts of faith, being one of the abominable traits of the Devil:

عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: مَنْ تَعَصَّبَ أَوْ تُعُصِّبَ لَهُ فَقَدْ خَلَعَ رِبْقَةَ الإیمَانِ مِنْ عُنُقِهِ.

[In al-Kafi, through a chain of authentic narrators], it is reported from Abu ‘Abd Allah (Imam al-Sadiq (A) that the Prophet (S) said, “The one who exerts ‘asabiyyah or the one on whose behalf it is exerted, the tie of faith is taken off his neck.”(1)

That is, such a man is deprived of faith and abandoned. As to the person in whose interest ‘asabiyyah is exerted, perhaps he is also included in the hadith due to his compliance to the behavior of the one exerting ‘asabiyyah and hence made to share his lot jointly. And it is stated in hadith that whosoever approves of the action of a certain group is counted amongst it. However, if he does not approve of it and detests it, this tradition would not apply to him.


عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: مَنْ تَعَصَّبَ عَصَبَهُ اللهُ بِعِصَابَةٍ مِنْ نَارٍ.

Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said, “Whosoever practices ‘asabiyyah (against someone), God shall wrap around him (‘asabahu) a fold (‘isabah) of Fire.”(2)

عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ الحُسَیْنِ عَلَیْهِمَا السَّلامُ قَالَ: لَمْ یَدْخُلِ الجَنَّةَ حَمِیَّةٌ غَیْرَ حَمِیَّةِ حَمْزَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ المُطَّلِبِ - وَذَلِکَ حِینَ أَسْلَمَ - غَضَباً لِلنَّبِیِّ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِه.

Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (A) is reported to have said: No hamiyyah shall ever enter Paradise, except the

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Intisharat ‘Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Tehran), vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), p. 419.
2- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Intisharat ‘Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Tehran), vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), p. 419.

hamiyyah of Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, which was (expressed) at the time when he became a Muslim on account of his anger in support of the Prophet (S).”(1)

The episode of Hamzah’s conversion to Islam has been reported variously, and is not relevant to our discussion. In any case, it is obvious that faith-which is the invisible holy gift of God to His special servants, the sincere devotees of His Court, and the champions of His love-is contrary to a quality that disregards truth and reality and tramples truthfulness and uprightness under its feet.

Of course, if the mirror of the heart be covered with the dust of self-love and the love of the kindred and improper and blind ‘asabiyyah, the light of faith will not shine in it; it will not be fit to be the hidden abode of the Most High.

The person whose heart has been the mirror for the light of faith and gnosis, the one whose neck has been tied in the firm and unbreakable rope of faith, the one who is the hostage of reality and Divine knowledge, the one who remains wedded to the religious precepts and confined to rational principles and laws, the one who derives all his impulses from reason and Divine Law-no force of customs, ways, or familiar things can cause him to quiver or deviate from the right path.

One can profess Islam and claim iman only when he is submissive to truth and humble in front of it,

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Intisharat ‘Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Tehran), vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), p. 419.

and when he deems his own aims and purposes, no matter however great they may be, as trivial and transitory, before the aims and purposes of his Lord and Provider; he annihilates his own will in the Will of his real Lord. Of necessity, such a person will be free from all traces of ignorant ‘asabiyyah; his face will be turned towards reality, and thick curtains of ignorance and ‘asabiyyah would not obstruct his vision.

When called to administer justice and utter the word of truth, he puts a firm foot on the head of all associations and ties, sacrificing all ties of kinship and customary affinities at the altar of the aims and objectives of his Lord. If there is a clash between the Islamic ‘asabiyyah and the ‘asabiyyah of the Jahiliyyah, he gives precedence to his Islamic ‘asabiyyah and his ‘asabiyyah for truth.

An enlightened human being knows that all the ‘asabiyyahs and all associations and relationships are merely transitory accidents and are perishable. The only relationship that is permanent and lasting and the only ‘asabiyyah that is true, is the relationship between the Creator and the created being, and is essential and unbreakable; it is firmer, higher, and prior to all the ties of lineage and alliance.

A Prophetic Tradition

The Prophet of God (S) is reported to have said:

کُلُّ حَسَبٍ وَنَسَبٍ مُنْقَطِعٌ یَوْمَ القِیَامَةِ إلا حَسَبِی وَنَسَبِی.

All the ties of lineage and affinity will be broken on the Day of Resurrection except the ties of my lineage and affinity.

It is

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obvious that the ties of lineage and affinity of that holy personage are spiritual and lasting, and free from all pre-Islamic biases and ‘asabiyyahs. In fact the spiritual ties of lineage will be more vivid in that world and its merits more conspicuous. On the other hand, the physical and terrestrial relationships that are rooted in human habits and customs are very weak and fragile and are broken easily.

None of them have any worth and value whatsoever in the next world, except those relationships that are established according to the Divine celestial system and under the auspices of the precepts of the Law and dictates of reason: only they are unbreakable and unseverable.

The Otherworldly Form Of ‘Asabiyyah

It was mentioned in some of the ahadith discussed previously that the criteria of the otherworldly forms, which human traits will acquire in the Barzakh and on the Day of Resurrection, are the habits and qualities and their strength. That world is the domain of the dominance of the spirit and the subservience of the body. It is possible that men should be raised in the forms of animals or Satans.

The present tradition which we are expounding, and which maintains that ‘the person who possesses in his heart ‘asabiyyah even to the extent of a mustard seed, God Almighty will resurrect him on the Day of Judgment with the Bedouins of the pre-Islamic era’, may also refer to the above-mentioned point. The man possessing this vice, after being transferred to the other world may behold himself

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as one of the pre Islamic heathen Bedouins, who neither had faith in God Almighty nor believed in prophets and prophethood.

Whatever the inner and outer form of that tribe had been, he will find himself when resurrected as one of them. Perhaps he will himself not understand as to why such a thing would happen to him, while in the world he professed the true religion of God and claimed to be an adherent of the faith of the Holy Prophet (S). It is mentioned in a tradition that the inhabitants of Hell will not be able to remember the name of the Prophet (S), and, as such, would not be able to introduce themselves as his followers, unless God Almighty resolves on their deliverance.

And since, according to some of the traditions, the trait of ‘asabiyyah is one of the attributes of Satan, may be the heathen Bedouins of the pre-Islamic era, as well as the individuals possessing the primitive habit of ‘asabiyyah would be resurrected in the form of Satan:

وَعَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إنَّ المَلائِکَةَ کَانُوا یَحْسَبُونَ أنَّ إبْلِیسَ مِنْهُمْ وَکَانَ فِی عِلْمِ اللهِ أَنَّهُ لَیْسَ مِنْهُمْ، فَاسْتَخْرَجَ مَا فِی نَفْسِهِ بِالحَمِیَّةِ وَالغَضَبِ فَقَالَ: خَلَقْتَنِی مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِینٍ.

(According to a reliable hadith of al-Kafi), Abu ‘Abd Allah (Imam al Sadiq) (A) is reported to have said, “Verily, the angels counted Satan as one of themselves, and it was in the knowledge of God that he was not of them; then he spoke out whatever

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was inside him, out of hamiyyah and anger, and said (to God): ‘Thou createdst me of fire, and him (Adam) Thou didst create of clay.”(1)

Thus my dear, you should know that this vice belongs to Satan and is a fallacy inspired in you by that accursed being based on false analogical inference. He committed the mistake because of the dense veils of ‘asabiyyah. This veil conceals all realities from the sight, or rather shows all one’s vices as virtues and the virtues of others as vices. And it is obvious as to where the deeds of the person who beholds things in a contrary perspective would lead him. Besides being itself a source of human ruin and doom, it gives rise to a number of moral, spiritual and behavioral villainies, the description of which would be cumbersome.

As such, a wise person, who understands these villainies as the products of this vice and confirms the testimony of the truthful Holy Prophet (S)-whose truthfulness has been confirmed by God-and the Members of his Household (A), who all state that this trait leads man to destruction and makes him an inhabitant of the Fire, should seriously consider about curing himself, and if, God forbid, there is the slightest speck of this vice in his heart, equal to the size of a mustard seed, he should purge it, so that he may be thoroughly purified before leaving this world and being transferred to the next.

He should be free from this vice

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi (Intisharat ‘Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, Tehran), vol. III (Arabic text with Persian translation by Sayyid Jawad Mustafawi), p. 419.

at the hour of his death, so as to put his feet into the other world with a pure soul. He should keep in his mind that he has fiery little time and very limited opportunity; for he does not know as to when he will have to depart from this world.

A Colloquy With The Self

O my vicious self! Perhaps your death may approach while you are still busy in writing these pages, and transfer you with all your moral vices to the next world from where there is no return. And O you dear reader of these pages, draw a lesson from the life of this writer who may be today under the ground and in the other world, a victim of his ugly acts and wicked behavior. As long as he was given opportunity, he spent the precious days of his life in vain pursuit of lusts and desires and squandered that gift of God with vain profligacy. Yet you must be careful as you too shall be in a condition similar to his, and you don’t know when.

Perhaps as you are reading these pages, the opportunity may slip if you go on procrastinating. O brother! Do not put off these matters; they are not to be postponed. Remember, how many hail and hearty people have suddenly been snatched away by the claws of death, and we have no knowledge about what awaited them in the Hereafter.

Therefore, do not let the chance slip and consider every second as precious; for the

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matter matters a lot and the journey is a perilous one. If you lose the opportunity of doing something in this world, which is the field whose harvest is the Hereafter, you will not be able to do anything any more and you will not be able to straighten your crookedness. There will be nothing left except regret, perplexity, chastisement, and degradation.

The men of God were never at ease even for a little while; they were never oblivious of the perilous and hazardous journey ahead. The condition of the fourth Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (A) was amazing. The laments of Amir al-Mu’minin Imam ‘Ali (A) are stunning.

What is the matter with us that we are so negligent? Who has given us assurance except the Devil, who makes us put off our actions for tomorrow and wants to bulge the number of his followers and companions by making us share his attributes? Doesn’t he, in this way, want to include us in his company so that we may be resurrected in his retinue?

The accursed creature always diminishes the importance and seriousness of the matters of the Hereafter in our eyes, and makes us oblivious of the remembrance of God and obedience to His commands by means of the promises of His mercy and the intercession of the intercessors. But, alas, such temptations have no truth and belong to the deceitful paraphernalia of the snares of that accursed creature.

Of course, even at present, you are immersed in the

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mercy and compassion of God, rejoicing in the gifts of sound health and well-being, life and safety, guidance and reason, opportunity and directions for the reformation of the soul and other such myriad favors. Yet you are not drawing benefit from these favors in this world by complacently following the Devil. Beware if you fail to draw any benefit from God’s mercy in this world, in the next world also you will not be able to benefit from the infinite mercy of God and the intercession of the intercessors. The guidance provided by them is this-worldly reflection of the intercession of the intercessors in the next world and the otherworldly reflection of the guidance provided by them here is intercession.

But if you cannot benefit from the guidance, remember that you will not be able to receive the benefit of intercession either; it depends on the guidance you utilize here. The intercession of the Holy Prophet (S) is general and universal; however, like the blessings of God, the receiver must have capacity to receive it. If, God forbid, Satan robs you of the faculty of faith, you will be incapable and unworthy of receiving Divine mercy and the intercession of the intercessors. Yes, God’s bounties in the two worlds are plenty and His mercy unlimited; but if you really seek His mercy, then why do you neglect His unceasing bounties in this world that are like seeds of His favors in the other?

All the prophets of God and the

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awliya’ have invited you to the Divine feast, yet you turn away and you do not accept it on account of the evil insinuations of the Devil. You sacrificed the muhkamat (the firm verses) of the Book of God, the mutawatirat of the prophets and awliya’, the compelling rational arguments of the wise, and the definite proofs of the hukama’ for the fiendish fantasies and fancies of your own. Woe to you and me for our state of neglectfulness, blindness, deafness, and ignorance.

On The ‘Asabiyyahs Of The Intellectuals

One of the types of ‘asabiyyahs is stubbornness in intellectual matters and the habit of supporting the statements and ideas of one’s own or that of one’s teacher or spiritual master not for the sake of defending truth and refuting falsehood. It is obvious that such a kind of ‘asabiyyah is worse and more improper in some ways than other types of ‘asabiyyah. This, because a scholar and an intellectual ought to be an instructor of mankind, scholarship being a branch of the tree of prophethood and wilayah itself.

He should be aware of the evil effects and bad consequences of moral vices. If, God forbid, he himself possesses the vice of ‘asabiyyah and attaches to himself the mean attributes of Satan, he will have scarcely anything to offer in self-defense and will be taken to task severely.

The person who poses himself as a guiding beacon of light, a source of enlightenment in the assembly of mankind, as a guide to the path of felicity, and as

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one who is charged with the duty of guiding men on the path of Hereafter, if, God forbid, he does not remain faithful to his words and his inner being contradicts his outward appearance, he will be grouped with the hypocrites and the pretentious. He will be branded as an evil scholar, a man of knowledge devoid of good deeds, whose retribution is a painful chastisement, as described by God Almighty in the Holy Quran:

﴿بِئْسَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِینَ کَذَّبُوا بِآیَاتِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ لَا یَهْدِی الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِینَ.﴾

Wretched is the likeness of those who deny the revelations of Allah. And Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (62:5)

Hence it is essential for scholars to retain their integrity and to keep themselves free from such vices, so that having corrected themselves they may be able to reform their society through a truly effective preaching and exhortations that can penetrate the hearts and minds. The corruption of a scholar can lead to the corruption of a nation. And it is obvious that the vice which generates multiple vices and the transgression which begets other transgressions is worse and greater than an isolated, non-contagious vice in the eyes of the Almighty.

Another hideous aspect of this vice in intellectuals is the atrocity done to knowledge itself; as this ‘asabiyyah on the part of an intellectual amounts to the abuse of knowledge and disrespect to it. The one who is entrusted with this valuable trust and enrobed in its precious robes, it is his duty to preserve its sanctity

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and deliver it safely to its owner. And if one is guilty of the ‘asabiyyah of pagan Bedouins with regard to it, he is of course guilty of the sin of breach of trust, an injustice and a major sin and offense.

The other ugly side of this vice is the wrong done to the other side. Because, the other side that participates in intellectual discourses also comprises of scholars. He too enjoys a sanctity which it is obligatory to observe and to safeguard his honor. Insulting him will be synonymous with violating Divine sanctities, and it is a great sin. Sometimes, senseless ‘asabiyyahs make one insult scholars. I seek refuge in God from this major offense.

Yet another aspect of ‘asabiyyah relates to the person in whose favor ‘asabiyyah is exercised, who may be one’s instructor and tutor. He may be forced to disown his pupil, because all the great masters and saints-karram Allah wujuhahum are naturally attracted towards truth and justice and are abhorrent to untruth and injustice. They detest him who violates justice and gives currency to falsehood through his acts of ‘asabiyyah.

Of course, the harms of spiritual disownment are greater than the harms of parental disownment, for spiritual fatherhood is above physical parenthood. Thus, it is incumbent upon scholars-may God increase their station and honor-to protect themselves from all moral and behavioral vices, to adorn themselves with the ornaments of good deeds and moral virtues, and not to be unmindful of the duties of the holy

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office which the Most High has bestowed on them, the failure to do which may bring ruin whose extent is not known to any one except God Almighty alone. Wassalam.

Ninth Hadith: Hypocrisy (Nifaq)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إلَی ثِقَةِ الإسْلامِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ الکُلَیْنِی عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَحْیَی، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِیسَی، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ، عَنْ عَوْنٍ القَلانِسِیِّ، عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِی یَعْفُورَ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: مَنْ لَقِیَ المُسْلِمِینَ بِوَجْهَیْنِ وَلِسَانَیْنِ جَاءَ یَوْمَ القِیَامَةِ وَلَهُ لِسَانَانِ مِنْ نَارٍ.

Thiqat al-Islam Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni, from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa, from Muhammad ibn Sinan, from ‘Awn ibn al-Qalanisi, from Ibn Abi Ya’fur, who reports Abu ‘Abd Allah (Imam al-Sadiq) (A) to have said, “One who meets Muslims with a double face and a double tongue, on the Day of Judgment he will come with two tongues of fire.”(1)


Double-facedness is the characteristic of the person who assumes an outward appearance and simulates a behavior which is contrary to his inner state. For instance, one may give an impression of friendship and affection and pretend to be sincere and sympathetic, while in his heart he harbors an opposite feeling. Such a person displays sympathy and friendship in front of people, but is different in their absence.

Double-tonguedness is the quality of the person who praises and flatters people whenever he meets them, appearing to befriend them, but denounces them and speaks slanderously of them in their absence. Therefore, in the light of this description, the first quality may be

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1- Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi (Akhundi), vol. 2, p. 343.

specified as ‘behavioral nifaq’ and the second as ‘verbal nifaq’. Perhaps the tradition refers to the evil of nifaq, since these two features are among the prominent and peculiar characteristics of the munafiqun (hypocrites).

Nifaq is one of psychic maladies and a vicious quality with its own specific signs and symptoms. It has also numerous grades and degrees, which, God willing, we shall discuss, together with their method of treatment, in the following sections.

Degrees Of Nifaq

It should be known that, like other vices and virtues, there are different degrees and stages of intensity and weakness of nifaq. In the case of any vice, if one does not take steps to cure it and does not persevere in the course of its treatment, it would lead him towards its extreme degrees, for there is no limit to the degree of intensity of vices and virtues.

If man leaves his carnal self to its wishes, its innate propensity towards corruption, its instinctive appetite for worldly pleasures, the assistance of the Satan and the insinuations of the Khannas, all together incline it towards evil, and its vices, increasing day by day in intensity, reach the stage when they become an intrinsic, essential and ultimate quality of the soul. Then the regions of one’s inner being as well as outer self come under its sovereignty and rule. And if the vice is characteristic of the Devil, such as nifaq and double-facedness, which are attributes of that cursed being-whom the Quran quotes as having said to Adam and

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﴿وَقَاسَمَهُمَا إِنِّی لَکُمَا لَمِنْ النَّاصِحِینَ.﴾

And he swore unto them (saying): Lo. I am a sincere adviser unto you. (7:21)

Whereas in reality he was the opposite of what he claimed-the realm of your being will be annexed by the Devil’s empire. When that happens, the ultimate form the spirit acquires will be satanic, and its inner essence and substance will also be satanic in nature. It is also possible that the external appearance in the next world will be of the Satan, though here you have a human form and appearance.

Thus, if man does not try to guard himself from this vice and allows his carnal self to act according to its wishes, within a short time all the means of control will be so thoroughly gone that all his labors and efforts will be put into the service of this vice. With whomever he will come in contact, he will meet and greet him double-facedly and with a double tongue.

Socially, his intercourse and relations with others will become tainted with the vice of duplicity, dissemblance and hypocrisy. He will have no other objective except his own personal benefit and no goal except self-aggrandizement. Having trampled upon all the values of truthfulness, sincerity, magnanimity and courage, he will employ duplicity in all of his pauses and deeds, not abstaining from any indecency or perversion. Such a person is away from the domain of humanity and humanness, and on the Day of Judgment he will be raised as a member of

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the legions of the Satan.

All that was stated above was regarding the degrees of intensity and weakness of nifaq per se, but it also varies according to that to which it is related. Sometimes one practices nifaq in relation to the religion of God, sometimes with respect to virtues, sometimes in regard to righteous deeds and holy rites, and sometimes in ordinary matters of day-to-day life and common civilities. Also, sometimes one may act with nifaq with respect to the Prophet (S) or the Imams (A), and sometimes with regard to the awliya’, the scholars and the believers. Sometimes one may behave with nifaq with Muslims and sometimes with God’s creatures belonging to other communities and creeds.

Of course, these types of nifaq vary in the degree of their ugliness and indecency, though all of them are similar in that they share the quality of ugliness and indecency and are the buds and leaves of the same vicious tree.

Effects Of Nifaq

Nifaq and double-facedness, besides being an abominable, ignoble and vicious quality itself, which no decent person would like to adopt and whose possessor is not only excluded from the human category, but cannot be likened to any of the beasts as well, it is a cause of humiliation and ignominy in this world in front of one’s fellows and friends, and brings about disgrace and punishment in the Hereafter also.

As mentioned in the tradition, in the Hereafter such a person will be resurrected with two tongues of fire in his mouth. This

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will be a source of disgrace for him in front of the creatures of God and will bring about his infamy in the presence of His prophets, apostles and archangels. The severity of the punishment is also indicated by this tradition. Because, if the substance of the body becomes that of fire, imagine how severely it will be felt and what a great pain and suffering it will inflict. I seek refuge in God from its severity.

It is reported in another tradition that the Prophet (S) said that the double-faced person will come on the Day of Resurrection in such a condition that one of his two tongues will protrude from the back of his head and the other from the front, and both the tongues will be aflame, making his entire body ablaze with fire.’(1) Thereupon, it will be announced that he was double-faced and double-tongued in the world.

He will be known on that day by this vice of his, the following Quranic verse having become applicable to him:

﴿وَیَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَنْ یُوصَلَ وَیُفْسِدُونَ فِی الْأَرْضِ أُوْلَئِکَ لَهُمُ اللَّعْنَةُ وَلَهُمْ سُوءُ الدَّارِ.﴾

And sever that which Allah hath commanded should be joined, and make mischief in the earth; theirs is the curse and theirs the ill abode. (13:25)

Nifaq is source of many an evil and destructive trait, each one of which may bring about one’s doom and eternal damnation. One of them is causing discord and sedition (fitnah), which, according to an express text of the Quran, is

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1- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, ‘Iqab al-’a’mal (Maktabat al-Saduq), p. 319.

worse than homicide. Another is slandering (namimah), which is denounced by Imam al-Baqir (A) in the following tradition:

مُحَرَّمَةٌ الجَنَّةُ عَلَی الفَتَّانِینَ المَشَّائِینَ بِالنَّمِیمَةِ.

(Entry to) Paradise is prohibited to slanderers who walk on the path of calumny (i.e. are habitual slanderers).(1)

The sins of slandering others and backbiting are worse than the sin of adultery, according to a statement of the Prophet (S), and are equivalent to subjecting a believer to torture, reviling him, and divulging his secrets; each one of which alone is enough to bring about one’s destruction.

Let it be known to you that other bad habits which belong to the category of nifaq are: making gestures, allusions, winking, making signals with the eyes and so on-things that some persons do in order to mock some others, whereas they pose to be friendly and sincere in front of them. One should be very cautious of his own state and be careful of his deeds and behavior, because the snares of the self and the designs of the Satan are very subtle, and there are very few people who are able to save themselves from them.

It is possible that on account of an inappropriate act of beckoning or an improper winking one may be branded as double-faced and double-tongued. Perchance one may possess this bad habit as long as he is alive and imagine himself to be morally healthy, sound and pure.

Therefore, it is essential for an individual to take care, like a devoted and sympathetic physician, of his

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1- Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 369.

spiritual and moral health and constantly keep an eye on his own deeds and habits, like a careful and vigilant nurse, and never fall short of his duty. He should know that none of the diseases of the heart is more concealed and elusive, and at the same time so fatal, than this disease, and no nurse should be more sympathetic and kind than an individual to himself.

Cure Of The Disease Of Nifaq

There are two ways of getting rid of this greatly evil vice:

The first is to think about the harms that proceed from this vice, in this world as well as in the Hereafter. One should deliberate upon the matter that if he becomes known in this world for having this bad habit, he will be degraded in the eyes of his fellows and become infamous among his fellow human beings. They will avoid his company and he will be deprived of their friendliness. Moreover, he will fail to achieve any merit and to reach his higher goals. Thus it is necessary for a man of honor and dignity endowed with the conscience to purge himself of this ignominy that consumes honor, and not to allow himself to be entrapped in its disgraces.

Besides, in the other world, which is the realm of the unveiling of secrets, where things that remained concealed from the eyes of people shall not be hidden, there, he will be raised a deformed, ugly creature possessing two tongues of fire and punished along with the hypocrites and devils. Therefore,

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it is incumbent upon a man of wisdom, who sees no good in it but harm, ugliness and abomination, to get rid of this vice.

The other treatment, which involves action, is another method of curing the self. It requires the individual to be extremely vigilant regarding his acts and pauses, and that he should act deliberately against his base wishes, wage a war against himself and try to improve his self inwardly as well as outwardly, in deed as well as in speech.

He should abstain from affectation, coquetry and dissemblance in practice, and beseech the Almighty’s help and assistance during this period to give him supremacy over his carnal self and its desires and to guide and accompany him in this undertaking. His mercy and grace towards His creatures are boundless, and whosoever advances towards Him wishing to reform himself, He extends His support and help to him.

If one perseveres in this for several days, it is hoped that the soul would become purified and the rust of hypocrisy and double-facedness will be removed from it. The mirror of his heart and his inner being will be cleansed of this vice, and it will be ready again to receive the favors and blessings of the Bestower.

Because it has been established through rational proofs, and also confirmed by experience, that as long as man lives in this world, he is conditioned by the deeds and actions committed by him, and every one of his deeds, the pious as well

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as the vicious ones, leave their impressions and effects on the soul. If the deeds are pious and good, they leave a luminous and sublime effect; if not, a dark and negative impression is left on the soul.

Thus, as a result, the heart is either rendered bright and luminous or dark and gloomy, according to the deeds. He is either grouped with the good and virtuous, or with the vicious and corrupt. Therefore, as long as we tarry in this house of action and this place of cultivation, we can freely steer our hearts in the direction of felicity or in the direction of wretchedness. We are hostages of our actions, about which the Quran says:

﴿فَمَنْ یَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَیْرًا یَرَه. وَمَنْ یَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا یَرَه.﴾

And whoso doth good an atom’s weight will see it, and whoso doth ill an atom’s weight will see it. (99:7-8)

Some Forms Of Nifaq

Let it be known to you, dear friend, that one of the forms of nifaq, double-facedness and double-tonguedness is nifaq with the Almighty, the King of kings, and the Bestower and the Nourisher, with which we are inflicted in this world but are not aware of it. Thick curtains of ignorance and folly and dark veils of the love of the self and the world have obstructed our vision in such a way that it is not possible for us to know our defects before the time of the divulging of secrets and the raising of these curtains and veils and before departing

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from this world of nature and saying farewell to this house of illusion and this zone of neglect and stupor.

Although now we have receded into a state of physical stupor and obliviousness, and are intoxicated by the attractions of physical life and sensual existence, which beautify all moral and behavioral villainies in our eyes, the moment shall come when we shall wake up and come to our senses, and realize that there is nothing left for us to be done, that we have lost the opportunity-and have been branded as munafiqun, double-faced, and double-tongued, and resurrected with two flaring tongues or with two hideous faces.

Then, even if we weep and wail, and yell out, “Lord, send me back into the world,” the answer will come, “Never.” Such will be the fate of our double-faced ness; while, in this life, you and I have been claiming faith in the Unity of God throughout, and professing to be Muslims and true believers untiringly, and even making ardent claims of His love.

If we are laymen, we boast of our faith in Islam, our sincerity of faith and our piety. If we belong to the class of ulama and jurisprudents, we pretend the highest degree of sincerity (ikhlas) and put forth claims to the wilayah and the khilafah of the Prophet (S). We imagine that the words uttered by the Prophet (S):

اللَّّهُمَّ ارْحَمْ خُلَفَائِی.

O God! Have mercy upon my successors.

And by the present Imam (A) -may my soul be sacrificed for

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إنَّهُمْ حُجَّتِی.

Verily they are my proofs.

And all other statements of the Imams (A) about ulama and fuqaha’, to have been spoken about ourselves.

And if we belong to the class of scholars of philosophy and the rational sciences, claiming to possess true faith based on deductive proofs, we deem ourselves to be men of certain knowledge (‘ilm al-yaqin), and those who possess ‘ayn al-yaqin and haqq al-yaqin, considering all others as possessing imperfect knowledge and infirm faith, and applying all the pertinent Quranic verses and traditions to ourselves.

And if we count ourselves among the mystics and men of ‘irfan, claiming mystic knowledge, ecstasies of love, states of annihilation in God and subsistence through Him (fana’ fi Allah, baqa’ bi Allah) and His vicegerency (wilayat al- amr), we apply such appellations, and whatsoever that appears to be attractive, to ourselves.

Thus, each one of our various groups claims some kind of high station by employing a vocabulary that it considers suitable for itself and for the display of its particular relation to the Truth. If this outward display complies with his inner reality and this appearance corresponds to his secret inward, he is of course truthful in claims and his blessed condition indeed deserves congratulations:

هَنِیئاً لَهُ وَلأرْبَابِ النَّعِیمِ.

May the blessing do much good to him and to its other possessors.

But if he is, like this writer, a deformed wretch, he should know that he belongs to the class of munafiqun and the double tongued. He should set out to treat himself and

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make use of the opportunity before it slips away, and do something about his unfortunate condition and the day of darkness and humiliation that awaits him.

My dear, you who claim adherence to Islam, there is a tradition in al-Kafi reported from the Apostle of God (S):

المُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ المُسْلِمُونَ مِنْ یَدِهِ وَلِسَانِهِ.

A Muslim is one whose hand and tongue spare all Muslims.(1)

What is the matter with us that we give ourselves the right to harass and hurt, by all possible means, our subordinates, and never hesitate to cause them inconvenience or to create problems for them? Or, if we cannot do any harm by our hands, why do we hurt them with the dagger of our tongue, by using derogatory language in their presence, or, in their absence, by opening their secrets, by slandering them and making false accusations against them?

Therefore, we, whose hands and tongues do not spare Muslims, our claim of adherence to Islam contradicts our reality, and the state of our hearts is opposite to what our knowledge of Islam tells us. Hence we belong to the category of munafiqun and the double-faced.

O you who profess to adhere to the true faith and to submit your heart to the sovereignty of the Almighty! If you have full faith in the Oneness of God, and your heart is devoted to the worship of the One and yearns for the One, and that if you do not believe in the existence of any deity except God, if

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1- Al-Kafi, vol. 2; Fayd al-Kashani, al-Mahajjat al-bayda’, vol. 3, p. 358.

your heart mirrors your outward and your inner is true to your claims, what is wrong with you that you are so subdued and humble in front of the people? Why do you worship and idolize them? Is it for some other reason than this that you believe them to be powerful and influential, and you imagine their power and wealth to be of some consequence?

Perhaps the only thing that you do not believe to be effective and active in this world is the Will and Determination of God Almighty. Aren’t you humble and subdued in front of all the external phenomena, yet neglectful towards the really Powerful, the First Cause? Yet in spite of this state of mind, you assert your faith in the Unity of God! You should know that you are a foreigner to the community of believers, and belong to the group of munafiqun and the double-tongued and will be resurrected with them.

You who profess to be a genuine monotheist and of sincere piety, if you are really sincere and abstain from worldly pleasures only for the sake of God and His abode of bliss, what is wrong with you that you are so eager to hear people say in your praise that so and so is such a pious man, and are jubilant when someone says such a thing? Why are you willing to die for the company of the rich and affluent and flee from that of the poor and needy?

You must know

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that neither your monotheism nor your piety are genuine. Your piety and abstinence are for the sake of the world, and your heart is not sincerely devoted to God. Your claims are false and you belong to the category of the double-faced and munafiqun.

And you who claim to be an appointee to the office of wilayah (leadership) by the Wali Allah (i.e. the Twelfth Imam) and to that of khilafah by the Apostle (S) of God, if your condition is in accordance with the specifications mentioned in the tradition of al-’Ihtijaj:

صَائِناً لِنَفْسِهِ حَافِظاً لِدِینِهِ مُخَالِفاً لِهَوَاهُ مُطِیعاً لأمْرِ مَوْلاهُ.

He who keeps his soul chaste, safeguards his faith, opposes his desires, and obeys the commands of his Master.(1)

If you are yourself a branch of the tree of wilayah and risalah (prophethood), and if you are neither inclined towards the world, nor yearn for the nearness of kings, rulers and nobles, nor you are averse to the company of the poor, then indeed you deserve your name and title and you are certainly one of the proofs (hujjah) of God among the humankind; otherwise you are one of the wicked ulama and the munafiqun, and your plight is worse than that of the aforementioned group of people, and your deeds more abominable and your life far more wretched and miserable; since there is no ground for any plea or pretext for the ulama.

And you who claim to possess the Divine hikmah and the knowledge of the realities of the origin and the

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1- Al-Tabarsi, al-’Ihtijaj, vol. 2, p. 106; al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 18, p. 99; al-Kulayni, op. cit., vol. 1, p.412; al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Tahdhib, vol. 6, p. 301; al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Man la yahduruhu al-faqih, vol. 3; al-Nuri, Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 3, p. 187 ; Shaykh Muhammad Hasan, al-Jawahir, vol. 40, p. 32.

end (al-mabda’ wa al-ma’ad), if you do possess the knowledge of the realities of causes and effects, and if in reality you know the forms assigned to men in Barzakh and the matters of heaven and hell, you should not have found peace for a while and should have spent each and every moment of your life in the construction of the life in eternity.

You should have sought refuge from this world and its temptations. You know as to what sort of torments lie ahead and what darkness and severities await you. Yet why didn’t you step out from behind the curtain of terms and concepts? Why haven’t the rational demonstrations and proofs exerted any influence on your heart, even to the extent of the wing of a fly?

Hence, in such a state, know that you stand outside the class of true believers and hukama’, and on the Day of Judgment you will be resurrected in the ranks of munafiqun. Woe unto the man who spent his whole life arid energies in acquiring the knowledge of the metaphysical, yet could not overcome his intoxication and infatuation with the physical, so that not even one of the truths ever entered his heart!

And you who claim the gnosis of God, and speak of spiritual fervor, of wayfaring, of His love and your wish to annihilate yourself in the Divine Essence, if you are sincere in your devotion to God and belong to the category of ashab al-qulub, men of enlightenment

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with a record of virtuous past, then may it do you much good. Otherwise, inflated, theopathetic utterances (shathiyyat), pretentious ecstasies, and extravagant claims reveal only your self love and your -satanic tendencies, which are opposed to the love of God and godly fervor, for God says:

إنَّ أَوْلِیائِی تَحْتَ قِبابِی لا یَعْرِفُهُمْ غَیْرِی.

Verily, My awliya’, under My vault (i.e. the sky), are known to none except Me.(1)

If you do belong to the category of the awliya’ of God, His lovers and those absorbed totally in His love, it is indeed known to God. There is no need for you to boast about your high station in front of people. Do not distract the unsteady hearts of the creatures of God from their Creator, by inclining them towards a creature of His. Do not trespass upon the house that belongs to God. Know that those creatures are dear to God, and their hearts are valuable and precious they are to be employed in the service of God. Do not make a sport of the house of the Lord, and do not put your hands on His sanctities, for it has been said,

فَإنَّ لِلْبَیْتِ رَبّاً.

Indeed the house has a Master.

Hence, if you are not true in your claims, you will be grouped with the double-faced and the men of nifaq. But let me stop here, since it isn’t proper for a wretch like me to speak any further.

O you vile self of the writer, who make much pretence: do something about the dark

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1- Ahadith qudsi. Source untraced.

days of your life and find a way out of your wretchedness. If you are really sincere and your heart agrees with your tongue and your inner intention is compatible with your outward appearance, why are you so heedless, your heart so blackened, and your lusts so indomitable? Why don’t you think about the journey of death, which is so full of perils? Your days are past, yet you have not given up your lusts and desires. You have spent your days in satisfying lusts and in neglect and mischief.

The time of your death draws near, yet you are enmeshed in your vicious deeds and entrapped in your indecent conduct. O preacher, who would not learn any lesson, you stand in the midst of munafiqun and the double-faced. Being one of them, it is feared that you will be resurrected with two tongues of fire and two faces of fire, if you continue in your present state.

O God, awaken us from this protracted spell of deep slumber, and bring us back to our senses from this state of intoxication and unconsciousness. Illumine our hearts with the light of faith and have mercy on us. We are not champions of this field. You Yourself succor us and deliver us from the talons of the Devil, for the sake of Your chosen servants, Muhammad and his undefiled progeny, upon all of whom be God’s benedictions.

Tenth Hadith: Desire And Hope


بِالأَسْنَادِ المُتَّصِلَةِ إلَی رَئِیسِ المُحَدِّثِینَ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ رِضْوَانُ اللهِ عَلَیْهِ، عَنِ الحُسَیْنِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ،

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عَنْ مُعَلَّی بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنِ الوَشَّاءِ، عَنْ عَاصِمِ بْنِ حَمِیدٍ، عَنْ أَبِی حَمْزَةَ، عَنْ یَحْیَی بْنِ عَقِیلٍ قَالَ: قَالَ أَمِیرُ المُؤْمِنِینَ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: إنَّمَا أَخَافُ عَلَیْکُمُ اثْنَتَیْنِ: إتِّبَاعَ الهَوَی وَطُولَ الأَمَلِ. أَمَّا اتِّبَاعُ الهَوَی فَإنَّهُ یَصُدُّ عَنِ الحَقِّ وَأَمّا طُولُ الأَمَلِ فَیُنْسِی الآخِرَةَ.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (al-Kulayni) (R) reports from al-Husayn ibn Muhammad, he from Mu’alla ibn Muhammad, from al-Washsha’, from ‘Asim ibn Humayd, he from Abu Hamzah, who narrates on the authority of Yahya ibn ‘Aqil that the latter reported that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (A) said, “I am apprehensive for you on account of two things: submission to desire and cherishing of inordinate hope. As to desire, it prevents one from haqq (Truth, righteousness, God); and as to inordinate hope, it makes man oblivious of the Hereafter.”(1)


Literally hawiya means ‘to love’, ‘to desire’ and ‘to become fond of something’. It may either be something commendable or abominable, or it may be something towards which one is inclined as a result of natural urge. The carnal self is inclined towards lust and desire, if it is not bridled by reason and the Shari’ah. But the possibility of hawd being used here as a legal term (haqiqah Shar’iyyah) with a special meaning, as maintained by some scholars, seems remote.

The phrase (صَدَّ عَنْ) gives the sense of repelling something, turning away, preventing or dissuading from something. But here the verb sadda is used in the transitive sense of stopping and preventing. God willing, we shall discuss the two evils and their consequent conditions:

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1- Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 336.

first, that of being prevented from the truth and from God; and, secondly, that of obliviousness of the Hereafter. We implore God’s assistance in this regard.

1. On The Evil Of Following One’s Desires


Though it is not directly relevant to our topic, it is essential to know that the human soul is by nature and instinct inclined to believe not only in the principle of tawhid (monotheism), but to follow all truthful doctrines also. Yet, since the moment of birth and stepping into this universe, man starts growing and developing along with his natural urges and animal desires, except for those who are protected and assisted by God, the Holy Preserver. The latter being exceptions and among the marvels of existence, are not our concern here.

We are here concerned with the condition of the species in general. It is evident that at the time of his birth, after passing through certain stages, man is no better than a weak animal and has no distinction over other animals, except for his potentiality of becoming a human being. That is, his humanness is potential, not present.

Therefore, man is an animal in actuality in the initial stages of his life in this world. No power but the law of animal nature, which governs through the faculties of Desire (shahwah) and Anger (ghadhab), rules over him. And since this marvel of nature is capable of acquiring all kinds of attributes, in order to cater to the needs of these two faculties he employs another fiendish power, the faculty of imagination

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(quwwah wahmiyyah) also in this direction through such means as: lying, deceit, hypocrisy, slander and all the other kind of tools. He grows and develops with these three powers, which are the roots of all other vices and fatal sins, and they too develop and flourish within him with age.

If he is not influenced by an instructor or guide, after having grown and reached the age of maturity he becomes a beast of uncommon rarity which surpasses all other beasts and devils in the above-mentioned qualities, becoming only stronger and more completely devilish and bestial. If he retains the same pattern of growth, he will not do anything except follow the desires of the carnal self and servilely obey these three powers. No sign of Divine knowledge or awareness, moral excellence or righteous deed can be found in him, and the innate light of nature gets stifled within his personality.

Thus all the dimensions of spiritual health-which do not go beyond the three above-mentioned things, i.e., Divine knowledge, moral virtues and righteous deeds-are suppressed by the desires of the carnal self. His servility to sensual inclinations and bestial comforts does not allow any of the manifestations of righteousness to appear in his being. The darkness of sensual desire extinguishes the light of reason and faith. He does not experience the second birth which in reality is the birth of the human being. He continues to exist in the same state and is cut off and removed from God and truth.

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When he departs from this world in this state and enters the next world, which is the realm of unveiling of reality, he does not find himself in any other form except that of a beast or a devil. With no reminiscence and memory whatsoever of a human existence, he dwells in this state in the abode of eternal darkness, torment and dread, until God Almighty wills what He may. Such is the fate of total servility to sensual desires which causes one to be cut off absolutely from God and righteousness.

It can be concluded from this that the amount of alienation from God is the measure and criterion of the extent of servility to the desires of the self. Conversely, the extent of such alienation can be gauged by means of the extent of such servility.

For instance, a person who had espoused these three faculties since the initial stages of his life, having developed and grown with them, if he is influenced and trained by means of the teachings of the prophets and instructions of scholars and sages, gradually submitting himself to the educative influence of the prophets and the awliya’ of God (A) it is possible that the innate potentiality for perfect humanness, which is inherent in his nature, may soon become an actuality. When that happens, all the modes of his inner being acquire a human dimension and the inner devil of the carnal self is converted to faith, as the Prophet of God remarked about

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إنَّ شَیْطَانِی آمِنٌ بِیَدِی.

The devil inside me has been converted to faith at my hand.

The bestial self then surrenders itself to the human self in such a way that it carries its rider like a docile and subdued celestial mount on the journey towards the skies of perfection, becoming a buraq carrying its rider swiftly towards the horizons of the Hereafter, never turning wild again. The powers of Desire and Anger having been subdued by the forces of justice and law (shar’), spiritual peace, balance and justice rule over the domain of man’s being, establishing there the Kingdom of God and the rule of righteousness and Divine Law. Nothing that is opposed to justice and truth can occur in it, and the whole kingdom is absolutely freed from all sorts of untruth and injustice.

Therefore, in the same way as the criterion of deprival from truth and righteousness is the pursuit of desire, the criterion of attainment of truth and achievement of righteousness is submission to reason and Divine Law. In between these two extremities, that is, total servility to desire and total subservience to reason, are an infinite number of stages so that every step towards desire is a step away from righteousness.

With every such step the reality is further hidden behind misty veils and the lights of human excellence and the secrets of human existence grow dimmer. And, contrarily, every step that is taken away from desire is instrumental to the same extent in removing the veils and

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in brightening the gleams of Divine light in the domain of the inner being.

(B) The Qur’an And Hadith On The Evil Of Submission To Desire

Denouncing submission to desires, God Almighty says in the Quran:

﴿وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ الْهَوَی فَیُضِلَّکَ عَنْ سَبِیلِ اللَّهِ.﴾

And follow not desire lest it lead thee astray from the way of God. (38:26)

﴿وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنْ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَیْرِ هُدًی مِنْ اللَّهِ.﴾

And who is further astray than he who follows his desire without guidance from God? (28:50)

And in a tradition of al-Kafi from Imam al-Baqir (A), the Imam is reported to have said:

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: یَقُولُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: وَعِزَّتِی وَجَلالِی وَعَظَمَتِی وَکِبْرِیَائِی وَنُورِی وَعُلُوِّی وَارْتِفَاعِ مَکَانِی، لا یُؤْثِرُ عَبْدٌ هَوَاهُ عَلَی هَوَایَ إلا شَتَّتُّ عَلَیْهِ أَمْرَهُ وَلَبَسْتُ عَلَیْهِ دُنْیَاهُ وَشَغَلْتُ قَلْبَهُ بِهَا وَلَمْ أُؤْتَهُ مِنْهَا إلا مَا قَدَّرْتُ لَهُ. وَعِزَّتِی وَجَلالِی وَعَظَمَتِی وَکِبْرِیَائِی وَنُورِی وَعُلُوِّی وَارْتِفَاعِ مَکَانِی، لا یُؤْثِرُ عَبْدٌ هَوَایَ عَلَی هَوَاهُ إلا اسْتَحْفَظْتُهُ مَلائِکَتِی وَکَفَّلْتُ السَّمَاوَاتِ والأَرَضِینَ رِزْقَهُ وَکُنْتُ لَهُ مِنْ وَرَاءِ تِجَارَةِ کُلِّ تَاجِرٍ وَأَتَتْهُ الدُّنْیَا وَهِیَ رَاغِمَةٌ.

The Prophet (S) said: God Almighty said: “By My honor, My Glory, My Greatness, My Light, My Loftiness, and by the Highness of My Station! When My slave gives preference to his desire over My wish, I put his affairs into confusion, make his life baffling in this world and his heart preoccupied with the world, although I do not give him anything of it except what I have preordained for him. And by My honor, My Glory, My Greatness, My Light, My Loftiness and by the Highness of My Station! If My slave prefers

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My wish to his desire, My angels protect him, the heavens and the earth guarantee his sustenance, and I look after his trade and bring the world to him though it should be reluctant and recalcitrant.”(1)

This tradition is a very authentic one, whose text and wording bear testimony to its pure origin, that its source is no other than God Almighty, the Fountainhead of all knowledge, though its chain of transmission may be a weak one, and to discuss this matter further is not possible here. There is another tradition reported from Amir al Mu’minin (A), which is different from the one we have expounded:

إنِّی أَخْوَفُ مَا أَخَافُ عَلَیْکُمُ اثْنَتَیْنِ: إتِّبَاعُ الهَوَی وَطُولُ الأَمَلِ.

I am apprehensive for you concerning two things: Submission to desire and entertaining of endless hope.(2)

In al-Kafi Imam al-Sadiq (A) is reported to have said:

إحْذَرُوا أَهْوَاءَکُمْ کَمَا تَحْذَرُونَ أَعْدَاءَکُمْ، فَلَیْسَ شَیْءٌ أَعْدَی لِلرِّجَالِ مِنِ اتِّبَاعِ أَهْوَائِهِمْ وَحَصَائِدِ أَلْسِنَتِهِمْ.

Be apprehensive of your desires in the same way as you are apprehensive of your enemies. For there is no greater enemy for human beings than their own desires and what their tongues reap.(3)

My dear, remember that desires are endless and ever insatiable. If man takes one step in following them, he will be bound to take a few more. If he submits to one of the desires, he will soon be forced to yield to a number of them. If you open one door to the desires of the self, you will soon be forced to open

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1- Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 336.
2- Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 336.
3- Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 336.

several other doors to them.

Thus a single act of submission will expose you to a number of vices following it and through them you will fall victim to a thousand abominations, until, God forbid, all the roads to God are closed to you, as stated by God Almighty in the Holy Book.

That is why the Commander of the Believers (A), the Wali al-’Amr and the spiritual master and instructor of mankind, who was assigned the task of guiding the human family, has expressed so much concern and apprehension on account of it. Rather, the Holy Prophet (S) and all the Imams (A) are anxious lest the tree of nubuwwah (prophethood) and wilayah - of which the believers are the leaves- should shed its foliage and become as if autumn stricken. Look what the Prophet (S) has said:

تَنَاکَحُوا وَتَنَاسَلُوا، فَإنِّی أُبَاهِی بِکُمُ الأُمَمَ، وَلَوْ بَالسَّقْطِ.

Marry and procreate, for indeed I shall be proud of you over other nations, even though it should be on account of an aborted fetus.(1)

Obviously, if man happens to stand on such a dangerous path as this, where it is feared that he may fall over the precipice of annihilation, being disowned by his real father-the Holy Prophet (S), who is a mercy for all the worlds-having caused his indignance, what a great misfortune it would be and what disasters and woes it would involve? Thus if you know the Holy Prophet (S) and love the Master of the Faithful (A) and befriend their pure

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1- Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasai’il al-Shi’ah, Bab 1, hadith 2.

progeny, relieve their blessed hearts from their fear, anguish and uncertainty on your account. In a verse of the Surat Hud of the Quran the Prophet (S) is addressed thus

﴿فَاسْتَقِمْ کَمَا أُمِرْتَ وَمَنْ تَابَ مَعَکَ.﴾

So be steady as thou hast been commanded, thou and those who have turned (unto Allah) with thee. (11:112)

And the Prophet (S) is reported to have said:

شَیَّبَتْنِی سُورَةُ هُودٍ لِمَکَانِ هَذِهِ الآیَةِ.

The Surat Hud caused my hair to turn grey on account of this verse of it.(1)

Shaykh Shahabadi, the accomplished ‘Arif -may my soul be ransomed for him- has said:

Although the same verse occurs in the Surat al-Shura- though without the phrase (وَمَنْ تَابَ مَعَکَ)—and those who have turned with thee— the reason that the Prophet (S) has made special mention of the Surat Hud is that in it God Almighty has demanded from the Prophet (S) the steadiness of his ummah also. The Prophet (S) feared that this task might not be carried out, otherwise he himself had the steadiness, or, rather, he was in fact the very incarnation of justice and righteousness.

So, my brother, if you consider yourself one of the followers of that holy personage and a participant of his mission, come and don’t be an embarrassment to him in its fulfillment on account of your ugly, vicious deeds. Think yourself that if one of your children or your kinsmen does something odious or improper by your norms, how ashamed you feel in front of others on their account! And you know that

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1- Al-Tabarsi, Majma’ al-bayan, vol. 3.

the Prophet of God (S) and Amir al-Mu’minin (A) are the true fathers of the ummah, for in the Prophet’s own words:

أَنَا وَعَلِیٌّ أَبَوَا هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ.

I and ‘Ali are the two fathers of this ummah.(1)

If we are taken into the presence of the Almighty and are called to account in front of them, and should the record of our deeds reflect nothing except evil and odiousness, it would be very hard upon them, for they would feel ashamed in front of the angels and prophets of God. What a great injustice it would be! What a catastrophe we shall have invited for ourselves and what treatment will be meted out to us by God Almighty?

So, O unjust and ignorant man who have not only done injustice to yourself but are guilty of injustice to your benefactors, who laid down their lives and sacrificed their worldly possessions and comforts of life for the sake of your guidance, who were assassinated after undergoing the hardest sufferings and the harshest tortures and whose women and children were taken captive for the sake of your guidance and your deliverance, should you, instead of being grateful to them for their merciful efforts, be guilty of such a flagrant injustice and imagine that you have been unjust to yourself alone?

Wake up for a while from this deep slumber and be a little ashamed of yourself. Don’t allow yourself to commit the same inequities that were committed by the enemies of the Din. You, who claim

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1- Al-Amini, al-Ghadir, vol. 3, p. 100.

to be a friend, do not be unjust, for the acts of injustice committed by a friend and the one who claims to be a friend are more grievous and odious.

(C) On Numerousness Of Desires

It should be remembered that the desires of the carnal self are numerous and of diverse kinds, varying according to their intensity as well as the desired object. Sometimes they are so subtle that one is not aware of them as suspect wiles of Satan and of the self, unless he is made conscious and waken up. With all their variety, all of them work together in obstructing people from the Divine path and deviating them from it. Their grades are various. There are the victims of desire who take gold and wealth and the like to be their god; there are others about whom Almighty God informs us in these words:

﴿أَرَأَیْتَ مَنْ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ؟﴾

Hast thou seen him who has taken his desire (hawa) to be his god? (25:43)

Again, there are those who, according to the holy tradition under discussion, are alienated from God by following the desires of the self and the fabrications of the Devil, in the form of false creeds, corrupt norms or something else. There are the perpetrators of mortal and major or minor and venial sins who are kept from the path of God in a measure proportional to the degree of their transgressions.

Then there are the followers of legitimate pleasures and desires who, on account of their overindulgence in them, are kept

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back from treading the Divine path in a different way. There are the devout given to prayers and formal rites, which are aimed to secure a good life in the Hereafter or to satisfy some worldly purpose or are meant to secure higher spiritual stations or to avoid spiritual decline, who are prevented from the path of God in a different way.

There are the practitioners of ethics devoted to purification of the soul and spiritual disciplining for the sake of attaining self control or reaching the paradise of moral excellence, who are kept from God and righteousness in their own manner. There are the practitioners of ‘irfan, the wayfarers of the Path, the seekers of ecstasies and of mystic stations and states, who have no other purpose except His vision and His vicinity, yet whose vision is obstructed in a different way and are kept from receiving the special illuminations.

Besides, there are other stages whose description is not possible here. Thus it is necessary for every individual, in accordance with the category to which he belongs, to examine his own condition and purge himself of the desires of the self in order not to be kept from the path of righteousness and of truth, so that the doors of compassion and benevolence are opened to him, whatever his station and stage:

وَاللهُ وَلِیُّ الِهدَایَةِ.

Indeed God is the Lord of guidance.

2. On The Evil Of Endless Hopes


This discussion also consists of two sections:

(A) On The Endlessness Of Hopes

Remember that the first and foremost step towards authentic humanness is that of awareness

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and awakening (yaqzah), as mentioned by the leading mystics (mashayiq) concerning the stages of wayfaring. There are ten stages in this step, as enumerated by the great Shaykh Shahabadi, which we are not in a position to elaborate here.

However, it is essential to mention here that unless man does not wake up to the fact that he is a traveler with an inescapable journey lying ahead and a destination towards which he must move, he will not muster the resolution necessary to reach his goal. Each of these matters needs an elaboration from which we must abstain for brevity’s sake.

However, it is enough to say that one of the biggest obstacles in the way of the awakening that leads one to forget his destination and neglect his journey and deadens his will and resolution is the feeling that there is plenty of time for the journey, that if one does not set out today he may do it tomorrow, if not this month then the next and so on.

Such a state of extended and outstretched hope, together with a false assurance of unlimited life and unbounded availability of time, make man oblivious of his ultimate goal, the Hereafter, and prevent him from preparing for the unavoidable journey and securing provisions for it, ultimately leading him to completely forget the Hereafter and his goal.

May God save us from the state in which one who has a long and perilous journey before him and is given a limited time

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in which to procure the provisions and dire necessities of the way, does not possess anything having forgotten both about the journey and his destination. It is obvious that if such a state of neglect befalls one, he will fail to procure the necessary provisions for his way, being helpless and at a loss at the time of departure. Such a man will perish on his way and his journey will not take him to his desired destination.

(B) Provisions For The Long Journey Ahead

And so, my dear, remember that you have a perilous journey ahead, for which the provisions of sound knowledge and fruitful action are needed. The time of departure is unknown. Possibly, there is little time and opportunity left. No one knows when the call for departure will come and one would be forced to depart. This prolonging of hope by you and me arises from self love and is the most masterly of the guiles of the accursed Satan.

Through it he distracts our attention from the Hereafter and keeps us from attending to its affairs. And with the perils of the journey and the obstacles in the way of preparing for it, if we fail to repent or to return to God and if we fail to procure provisions for the journey, the appointed call shall come unexpectedly and send us unprepared and unprovided on the way, without any store of righteous deeds and useful knowledge which together make up the provisions of the Hereafterly journey.

For even if we have performed good

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deeds, they are not pure and untainted. A thousand contaminations, each of which is enough to make them unacceptable to God, afflict them. If we acquired any knowledge, it was futile and fruitless for us, our learning being either nonsensical and absurd or itself a big impediment in the path of the Hereafter. Had the deeds that we have done and the knowledge that we have learnt been beneficial, they should have left some mark on us who have been in their pursuit for years and should have transformed our habits and morals.

What went wrong that our forty or fifty years’ labor has produced an opposite result and has hardened our hearts, harder even than flint? What did we achieve from salat, which is the mi’raj of a mu’min? Where is that fear of God which is the outcome of true knowledge? God forbid, if we are called to depart from this world in this present state of ours, there are many a lasting disappointment and remorse in store for us!

Therefore, if obliviousness of the Hereafter caused by endless hope is something on account of which the greatest Wali of God, Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (A) is concerned for us, he is justified; for he knows as to how perilous a journey awaits us and that with such a journey in view no one should ever be complacent even for a while. At all times, one should be busy, without a moment of rest, in gathering the provisions for the

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Hereafterly journey. If one becomes oblivious of that world or considers it a mere dream, as if that world did not exist and there was no journey to be undertaken, one cannot imagine the calamities that one will have to face and the misfortunes that are in store for him.

It would do us much good if we think for a while about the general state of mind of the Prophet (S) and of Amir al-Mu’minin (A) who were the best of God’s creatures and free from error, lapse or forgetfulness-in order to understand our own state in relation to theirs. Their cognition of the hardships and perils of the journey had made them renounce ease and rest, while our ignorance has bred forgetfulness in us. The Seal of the Prophets (S) subjected himself to such austerities and strenuously stood in prayer before his Lord for such lengthy hours that his blessed feet became swollen and the following verse was sent down to him by the Most Exalted:

﴿طه. مَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَیْکَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَی.﴾

Ta Ha. We have not sent down the Quran upon thee to cause thee distress. (20:1, 2)

The state of Amir al-Mu’minin during prayers and his fear of God Almighty are also well known.

Hence, we should know that the journey is full of perils and this spell of obliviousness and forgetfulness of ours is nothing except a ruse of the Devil and a guile of our own self. These endless hopes and unlimited expectations are the biggest snares of Iblis

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and the most artful of his ruses. So wake up from this sleep and remember that you are a traveler with goal and purpose. Your destination is the next world and you will be forced to leave this world ultimately.

If you are prepared to set out on this journey and have procured the provisions needed, you will not be rendered helpless or stranded on this journey. Otherwise you will find yourself in a distress which knows no relief, a wretchedness that is not followed by felicity, a humiliation that will last and never be followed by honor, a poverty that does not terminate in abundance, a torment that is not followed by comfort, a fire that never cools down, and a regret and shame which knows no end.

My dear, look what the Commander of the Faithful (A) says, in Du’a Kumayl, in his supplications to the Almighty:

وَأَنْتَ تَعْلَمُ ضَعْفِی عَنْ قَلِیلٍ مِنْ بَلاءِ الدُّنْیَا وَعُقُوبَاتِهَا وَمَا یَجْرِی فِیهَا مِنَ المَکَارِهِ عَلَی أَهْلِهَا، عَلَی أَنَّ ذَلِکَ بَلاءٌ وَمَکْرُوهٌ قَلِیلٌ مَکْثُهُ یَسِیرٌ بَقَاؤُهُ قَصِیرٌ مُدَّتُهٌ، فَکَیْفَ احْتِمَالِی لِبَلاءِ الآخِرَةِ وَجَلِیلِ وُقُوعِ المَکَارِهِ فِیهَا وَهُوَ بَلاءٌ تَطُولُ مُدَّتُهُ وَیَدُومُ مَقَامُهُ وَلا یُخَفَّفُ عَنْ أَهْلِهِ لأَنَّهُ لا یَکُونُ إلا عَنْ غَضَبِکَ وَانْتِقَامِکَ وَسَخَطِکَ وَهَذَا مَا لا تَقُومُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ.

(My Lord) You know my frailness before a little of the afflictions and torments of this world and before the kind of calamities that affect its inhabitants, though such afflictions and adversities are transitory and short-lived. And how shall I endure the afflictions

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of the Hereafter and the severity of its calamities, which are enduring, perpetual and unabating on its inhabitants, since they are nothing other than Your wrath, Your retribution and Your displeasure, which neither the heavens nor the earth can bear.

A torment which the heavens and earth cannot stand has been reserved for you, and it is not enough to awaken you from your deepening slumber and your obliviousness increases day by day!

O slumberous heart! Awake and arise! Get ready for the journey to the Hereafter!

فَقَدْ نُودِیَ فِیکُمْ بِالرَّحِیلِ.

The call of the caravan’s departure has been sounded and all around there is the clamor of those who depart and take leave. The agents of ‘Izra’il (the angel of death) are at work and they are driving you every moment nearer and nearer to the gates of the Hereafter and yet you are neglectful, unmindful and ignorant!

اللَّهُمَّ إنِّی أَسْأَلُکَ التَّجَافِی عَنْ دَارِ الغُرُورِ والإنَابَةَ إلَی دَارِ السُّرُورِ والإسْتِعْدَادِ لِلْمَوْتِ قَبْلَ حُلُولِ الفَوْتِ.

O God, I implore Thee to save me from the house of illusion and the abode of delirium and help me return to the abode of joy. Grant me the ability and preparedness to die before such an opportunity is lost.

Eleventh Hadith: Man’s God-Seeking Nature


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَحْیَی، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ رِئَابٍ، عَنْ زُرَارَةَ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ عَنْ قَوْلِ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: ﴿فِطْرَةَ اللهِ الَّتِی فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَیْهَا.﴾ قَالَ: فَطَرَهُمْ جَمِیعاً عَلَی التَّوْحِیدِ.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (al-Kulayni),

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from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad, from Ibn Mahbub, from’ Ali ibn Ri’ab, from Zurarah, who said, I asked Abu ‘Abd Allah (Imam al Sadiq) (A) regarding the words of God: God’s creation (fitrah) upon which He originated mankind. (30:30). The Imam(A) answered: “He originated mankind upon tawhid.”(1)


According to lexicographers and exegetes, fatr means creation. According to al-Sihah (Arabic dictionary compiled by al-Jawhari), the word al-fitrah means al-khilqah, i.e. creation. Also, possibly, the word may have been derived from fatr in the sense of splitting and tearing; for creation, in a sense, tears the curtains of non-being and the veils of the hidden.

The phrase iftar al sa’im, used for the breaking of the fast, also has a similar meaning, for iftar severs the continuity of the fast. This much is sufficient here, for lexical consideration is not our purpose here.

The tradition refers to the following verse of the Quran:

﴿فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَکَ لِلدِّینِ حَنِیفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِی فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَیْهَا لَا تَبْدِیلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَلِکَ الدِّینُ الْقَیِّمُ وَلَکِنَّ أَکْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَعْلَمُونَ.﴾

So set thy face to the Din, as a man of pure Faith-God’s fitrah upon which He originated mankind. There is no changing God’s creation. That is the right Din, but most men know it not. (30:30)

God willing, we shall discuss this fitrah, its characteristics, and the manner in which human nature is based on the principle of tawhid, dividing our discourse in a number of sections.

The Meaning Of Fitrah

It should be known that fitrat Allah, as the condition and state

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1- Al-Kulayni, al-Kafi (Akhundi), II, 12, hadith No.2.

in which God fashioned mankind, refers to the essential condition of their existence. It is something which is present in the very essence of their creation and is inextricably kneaded into the very substance of their nature. God’s fitrah is one of His favors with which He has endowed the human species out of all creatures.

Other creatures are either altogether without these attributes, or have been endowed with a weaker degree of them. It should be remembered that though in this tradition, as in some other ahadith, the word fitrah is interpreted as a natural inclination towards tawhid, but this amounts to mentioning one from among a host of correlatives, or to describing the most significant component of something.

This is characteristic of the expositions and interpretations handed down from the Imams(A). Often they cite one of the several meanings that apply to a verse in accordance with the propriety of a context and occasion, leading ignorant persons to imagine that there is a contradiction (between the different interpretations). A proof of that is the present case.

In the above-mentioned verse, Din, which is equated to fitrat Allah, is inclusive of the doctrine of tawhid and other religious teachings as well. In the sahih tradition of ‘Abd Allah ibn Sinan, “fitrah” here has been interpreted as al-Islam; in the hasan hadith narrated by Zurarah from Abu Ja’far —Imam al-Baqir (A)— it is defined as ma’ri fah (knowledge of God); and in the well-known hadith:

کُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ یُولَدُ عَلَی الفِطْرَةِ.

Every child is

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born on the fitrah.

Fitrah is placed in opposition to tahawwud (being a Jew), tanassur (being a Christian), and tamajjus (being a Zoroastrian). From this it becomes obvious that fitrah does not exclusively mean tawhid; rather it includes all the true teachings which God Almighty has ingrained in the nature of His slaves.

Laws Of Human Nature

We know that there is not a single soul outside the laws of nature, for they are the essential conditions of human existence and the elemental forms which are innate to human nature and creation. No one escapes them; the ignorant and the learned, the barbarian and the civilized, the dwellers of cities and the inhabitants of deserts-all share it equally. None of the factors, such as diversity of customs, religious traditions and ways, can affect them or interfere with their working.

The differences of geographical region, climate, association, opinion, which affect everything- even rational verities - and create disparity and diversity of all sorts, have no effect whatsoever on the essentials of nature. The disparity of intelligence and the strength and weakness of understanding do not affect it. Anything that is not such, is not a law of nature and it should be excluded from the realm of nature. Hence the ayah states, (فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَیْهَا), —He originated man kind in accordance with it— that is, no specific group or race is meant. The verse further says:

﴿لَا تَبْدِیلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ.﴾

There is no changing God’s creation.

It is not changed by anything, like other factors which change according to habit

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and custom and other such things.

But what is astonishing is that in spite of being uniform regarding their natural instincts, from the beginning of the world until the present, people have been generally ignorant of the uniformity of their nature. They imagine that it varies, unless they are made aware of its uniform and unchangeable quality. It is only then that they can understand that there has been unity despite apparent disparity. God willing, we will clarify this point further at a later stage. However the verse refers to this point when it says:

﴿وَلَکِنَّ أَکْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَعْلَمُونَ.﴾

But most men know it not.

From what has been said till now, it may be inferred that the laws of nature are the most self-evident of all self-evident truths. Because amongst all rational principles there does not exist such a law which is not contradicted even by a single individual, and such a thing is the most evident of logical necessities and the most self-evident of all self-evident realities. And all those things that are its necessary corollaries should also be among the most evident of logical necessities.

Thus, if the doctrine of tawhid, or other related doctrines, are from among the laws of nature and one of its prerequisites, it should be the most manifest of all self-evident truths and the most evident of manifest necessities, but strangely enough:

﴿أَکْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَعْلَمُونَ.﴾

Most men know not!

Innateness Of Religious Truths


Every exegete of the Quran, Sunni or Shi’i, has written about the innateness of Din or tawhid in

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his own specific way. Here we shall not base our discussion on their opinions. Rather, we shall describe the original ideas of the accomplished ‘arif, Shaykh Shahabadi (D)(1) who was unique in this field, although some of the ideas can be found in the form of allusions in the writings of researchers in the field of ‘irfan, and some of them have occurred to this incapable writer.

Let it be known that among God-given instincts one is the belief in the existence of the Sacred and Sublime Source of everything; the second is the belief in It’s Unity, i.e. tawhid; the third is the innate belief that that Sacred Being encompasses all perfection; the fourth is the instinctive belief in the Day of Resurrection; and the fifth is the innate faith in nubuwwah (prophethood); the sixth is the instinctive belief in the existence of angels, of holy spirits, in the revelation of scriptures and the path of Divine guidance.

Some of the above-mentioned are laws of nature and some others are their necessary corollaries. The faith in God, the belief in angels, the belief in the revelation of Scriptures, in God-sent Apostles, in the Day of Resurrection, and in the Din-which is firm, stable and straight-is a truth which underlines the entire life of the human species. We shall discuss here some of them which are relevant to the hadith under consideration, and beseech the Almighty’s assistance in this regard.

1. Man’s Love Of Perfection

To understand that the belief in the existence of the Sublime and

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1- For maintaining readability, (D) which is an acronym for “Daama zhilluhu(m)” is used throughout the book to denote “May God extend his/their shadow.” It is used for the alive urafa, ulama, and awliya.

Supreme Source is innate in human nature, one needs to understand certain preliminaries. One of the qualities innate in human nature is the love and yearning for perfection. It is something which pervades the entire chain of humanity’s generations and not a single individual in the entire human species can be found without it. No custom or tradition, religious or legal institution can transform or obstruct this tendency.

The natural inclination to seek perfection is so universal that if all the eras of human existence are probed and each of human individuals, no matter to what group or nation he may belong, is questioned, a love of perfection will be found to be part of his nature and his heart will be found to be pulled towards it.

In all the pauses and activities, in all the efforts, endeavors and earnest toils which engage the energies of the individuals of this species in various fields of life, it is the love of perfection which drives them onwards.

Although people vary regarding their identification and understanding of perfection, and although there is the greatest conceivable variance in what they regard as perfect and whom they regard as the beloved, yet each of them, having perceived his beloved in something and deeming it his ideal; turns his attention towards it. He serves it with all his heart and with the utmost love of which he is capable.

Whatever the field to which he belongs and whatever the object of his love, since

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he identifies perfection with it, he concentrates his attention upon it. In the same manner, the men of science and crafts, each of them seeks what he considers as perfection and loves what appears to him as the beloved. The same is true of the other-worldly and of those who give themselves up to reflection and meditation.

In brief, all of them are turned towards perfection, and since they see it in a real or imaginary object, they love it earnestly. But it should be remembered that in spite of it all, their infatuation and obsession is really not for those ideals or objects which they imagine to be their beloved. The object of their love and the ka’bah of their hopes is not that which they have fancied. For, if he were to ponder over his nature, he will realize that to whatever object his heart is devoted, if he attains something superior to it his heart turns away from the original ideal and towards another, a higher one. And when he attains that higher one, he turns towards one which is higher and more perfect, and the fire of eagerness grows more intense day by day and his heart does not settle down at any one of the stages.

For example, if you are in love with physical beauty and see it in some beauty, your heart drives you towards her abode and alley. But if you happen to see a face more beautiful, and you find it to

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be so, you will inevitably turn your attention towards it, or, at least, both of them will now hold your attention, and the fire of your passion will not cool down. Your condition is that of the man who said, “I haven’t a penny but would buy the entire estate,” and you would desire to possess every beauty.

Not only this, even a probability may excite your eagerness. If you have an inkling that there is someone prettier in a certain place, your heart may take you on a journey to that place and your state of mind will be like him who said, “Though in the midst of the crowd, my heart is somewhere else.” Mere wish will add to your eagerness. If you listen to the descriptions of Paradise and about the enticing beauties therein, even though, God forbid, you should be a disbeliever in it, nevertheless, your natural instinct will make you say, “ O that such a heaven did exist and such lovely dames would fall to my share.”

In the same manner, a man who seeks perfection in domination, power and expansion of territories and develops eagerness for such things, if he is given the possession of one country, he will turn towards another; when that too comes under his domination, he will desire for some more territory. If he is given a quarter of the earth, he will try to own the remaining ones also. Rather, the intensity of his desire grows more and more,

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and if the whole planet is brought under his domination, he will contemplate about the possibility of expanding it to other spheres of the cosmos as well.

His heart views the celestial spheres with the desire of conquest: “O that man could fly towards those worlds, that I could annex them to my empire.” Similar is the case of men of science and craft and that of the entire human species. Whatever the activity and field of their concern, their eagerness grows with achievement and is directed towards the higher degrees of perfection. The more they progress and advance, the more their eagerness grows for the higher degrees of perfection; its fire is never extinguished and becomes more intense every day.

Thus, this light of nature guides us to the fact that the hearts of all the members of human species, from the people inhabiting far-flung regions of the world to the dwellers of civilized countries, from believers in materialism to the followers of various religious creeds, all yearn by nature and from the core of their hearts to attain immaculate perfection.

They long for an absolute beauty and perfection which has no defect, for a knowledge that has no trace of ignorance in it, for a power acid domination that is not accompanied with impotence and weakness, for a life that has no death, and, ultimately, the Absolute Perfection that is the beloved of everyone. All the existents and the entire human species declare unanimously with one heart and in

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eloquent and lucid terms: We are lovers of Absolute Perfection; we are enamored to Absolute Beauty and Majesty; we are in search of Absolute Knowledge and Absolute Power.

Does anyone know of any being in the entire realm of existence, or in the spheres of fancy and imagination, or in the realm of rational abstractions, which possesses the attributes of absolute perfection and absolute beauty, except the Sacred Essence of the Supreme Majestic Source of the cosmos? Does anybody know of any absolute, immaculate beauty, except that of the Absolute Beloved?

O wanderers of the valley of regret! O the lost ones in the wilderness of error! Rather, O lovers of the lamp of Absolute Beauty! O Seekers of the immaculate and the eternal Beloved! Look again into the book of your nature; turn the pages of the book of your being. Look, the pen of Divine creation has written into it:

﴿إِنِّی وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِی لِلَّذِی فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِیفًا.﴾

I have turned my face towards Him who created the heavens and the earth.

﴿فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِی فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَیْهَا.﴾

(It is) God’s nature upon which He originated mankind. (6:79; 30:30)

That nature is innate attention to the Absolute Beloved, and it is unchanging:

﴿لَا تَبْدِیلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ.﴾

It is a nature which seeks the knowledge (ma’rifah) of God. How long will you lavish this natural God-gifted love and this trust of God on this or that beloved on account of your misconceived ideas? If the object of your love were these imperfect beauties and these finite perfections,

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then why doesn’t the fire of your love subside after reaching them and why does the flame of your love grow fiercer on attaining them? Now wake up from the slumber, receive the glad tiding, and rejoice that you have a beloved who has no decline, no defect, no infirmity. The Light you seek is one whose brilliance illuminates the Universe:

﴿اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ.﴾

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

لَوْ دَلَّیْتُمْ بِحَبْلٍ إلِی الأَرْضِینَ السُّفْلَی لَهَبَطْتُمْ عَلَی اللهِ.

Your Beloved is such that He encompasses everything.

Thus, this actual love of yours seeks the Actual Beloved. It cannot be an imaginary beloved of your fancy, since every imaginary thing is imperfect, and your nature yearns for perfection. Thus an actual lover and an actual love is not possible without an actual beloved. And there is no other beloved except the Perfect Being, towards whom human nature is directed. Hence the prerequisite for the love of absolute perfection is the existence of the Absolutely Perfect Being. And, as mentioned earlier, the laws of nature and their necessary correlatives are the clearest, the most self-evident and the most obvious of prepositions. Hence it has been said:

﴿أَفِی اللَّهِ شَکٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ.﴾

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

2. The Innateness Of Divine Attributes

That the belief in the unity of the Divine Essence is innate and so is the belief that the Divine Being encompasses all the attributes of perfection became known in the above section; here we shall

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prove this in a different manner.

It should be known to you that one of the characteristics of the nature upon which God has fashioned mankind is a loathing for imperfection. Man is by nature averse to everything he perceives as defective and faulty.

Thus imperfection and defectiveness are repulsive to human nature, for it is inclined towards absolute perfection. Now, the pole of attraction of human nature should be one and unique, because everything capable of plurality and everything made up of parts is imperfect and defective. Plurality is always associate with finitude, (which is a defect), and everything that is defective is repelled by human nature, which is not attracted towards it.

The presence of these two natures-that is, the nature of attraction towards perfection and the nature of repulsion towards defectiveness-not only posits the principle of tawhid, it also pits that the Being of God encompasses every perfection and that It is free from every defect.

The blessed Surat al-Tawhid, which is about the Being of God, the Exalted and the Supreme, relates, in the words of our revered Shaykh, may my soul be his ransom, to the Ipseity of the Absolute, which is the pole of attraction of the human nature.

At the outset of the surah, it is referred to as huwa (He), followed by the six attributes mentioned in the following verses. Since His sacred Essence has an absolute ipseity (huwiyyah) (an absolute ipseity must be absolutely perfect; otherwise it is a finite ipseity), the Divine

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Being encompasses all perfections. ‘Allah’, (which follows the pronoun huwa in the surah), shows that in spite of encompassing all perfections, It is simple (basit); otherwise It would not have an absolute ipseity .

Thus, He is ahad (unique) and His ahadiyyah (uniqueness) necessitates His wahidiyyah (oneness). And since absolute ipseity includes all perfections and is free from all defects-which originate in finite ipseity He is Samad (Eternal, the End, Goal and Refuge of every thing) and is not vacuous. On account of His being absolute ipseity, nothing is begotten or separated from Him, nor is He Himself separated from anything. He is lam yalid wa lam yulad, i.e. He begetteth not, nor was begotten; rather, He is the Source of everything and the End to which all existents return without having separated from Him, for separation necessitates defectiveness. Absolute Ipseity has no equal either, since absolute perfection precludes recurrence. Thus, the blessed Surat al-Tawhid is about the laws of human nature and is concerned with the attributes of the Divine Being.

3. Innateness Of The Belief In Resurrection

Here we shall discuss the innateness of the belief in Resurrection (al-ma’ad) as something ingrained in human nature. Like the other beliefs dealt with in the previous sections, it can be proved in a number of ways. Here we shall mention only some of them.

Know that one of the God-given innate tendencies that are ingrained in the nature of the entire human species is the love of comfort. If all the epochs of human existence--from civilized existence to barbarian

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subsistence, from eras of piety to that of pagan rebellion-are studied and if all the different kinds of individuals-from the learned to the ignorant, from the noble to the mean, and from the savage to the urbanized-are questioned as to the aim of all their various attachments and pursuits and their diverse desires, and if they are asked about the purpose of their hardships and labors, all will unanimously answer in one voice with the unambiguous tongue of nature that whatever we desire is for the sake of our comfort.

They will say that the ultimate goal and the purpose underlying all their aspirations and hopes is absolute comfort, untainted with labor, toil and distress. Since such a toilless, painless comfort is the goal of all, everyone imagines that lost comfort to lie in some thing and develops an interest in every such thing which he believes to be associated with that desired goal. This, in spite of the fact that such an absolute comfort is not to be found in any part of this world of ephemeral existence, nor is such an undisturbed peace and rest possible here.

All the bounties and blessings of this world are mixed with tiresome effort and exhausting toil. All the pleasures of the world are surrounded with unnerving pains. Pain and agony, anguish and sorrow, anxiety and grief prevail all over the world. Throughout the entire history of human existence, not a single individual is to be seen whose pains and sufferings are equal

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to his comforts and whose joys and blessings are equal to his sorrows, distresses and toils, let alone the possession of untainted comfort and undisturbed rest.

Accordingly, the ultimate human goal is not to be found in this world, and no natural, inherent and actual love-and that too a love which pervades the entire species-is possible without the existence of an actual beloved. Hence, there should exist such a world in the realm of existence where comforts will not be adulterated with labor and pain, whose ease and repose be absolute and pure, unmixed by pain, whose joys should be pure, unmarred by grief and suffering. That world is the House of Divine bounty (dar al-na’im), the world of the manifestation of His magnanimity.

That world can also be posited by means of the freedom-loving nature of man and the insistence of the human will, which are ingrained in the nature of every human individual. Since the material forces of this world and the conditions therein, with its impediments and restrictions, are opposed to human freedom and contrary to the human will, there should be a world in the realm of existence where man’s will can be influential and whose material forces are not opposed to the dictates of the human will. Man would be there a free actor, accomplishing the aspirations of his sovereign will, a sovereignty which is demanded by his nature.

Thus the aspects of the innate love of comfort and love of freedom are two natural tendencies that

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have been embedded by God in the unchanging nature of the human being. They are the two wings with which man flies towards the higher kingdom of heaven and into the Nearness of God.

There are certain other matters which are not of immediate relevance to these pages. There are other natural tendencies in man which posit other Divine teachings, such as the affirmation of prophethood, the raising of Divine apostles and the descent of the scriptures, and so on. Each of the above-mentioned natural tendencies proves all the sacred doctrines, but we have confined our discussion in order not to digress much from the main topic, which is exposition of the glorious tradition at hand. Hitherto our discussion showed that the knowledge of the Source, Its Perfection and Unity, and that of the Hereafter is innate in human nature. And all praise is God’s.

Twelfth Hadith: Contemplation (Tafakkur)


بِسَنَدی المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ رِضْوَانُ اللهِ عَلَیْهِ، عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنِ النَّوْفَلِیِّ، عَنِ السُّکُونِیِّ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: کَانَ أَمِیرُ المُؤْمِِنِینَ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: نَبِّهْ بِالتَّفَکُّرِ قَلْبَکَ وَجَافِ عَنِ اللَّیْلِ جَنْبَکَ وَاتَّقِ اللهَ رَبَّکَ.

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


The phrase kana yaqul (used to say) has a meaning different from qala (said) or yaqul

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1- Usul al-Kafi (Akhundi, ed. by ‘Ali’ Akbar Ghaffiri), II, 54.

(says), as it indicates continuation and perpetuation. It shows that Amir al-Mu’minin (A) repeatedly used to utter these words. The word tanabbuh means ‘to arouse’, ‘to warn’, ‘to call attention to’, and ‘to awaken from sleep.’ Here all of these meanings are suitable, for the hearts are in a state of neglectfulness and sleep prior to contemplation, and they come out of this state by means of it. Sleep and awakening, unconsciousness and consciousness are different for the realm of the body and the kingdom of the soul.

Many a time the outward eye is awake, the corporeal personality is conscious but the inner eye and the inward vision is deep asleep, and the spiritual regions and the domain of the soul are heedless and unconscious. Tafakkur (contemplation, intellection) is the activity of the intellect. It is the reordering of known matters for the purpose of reaching hitherto unknown conclusions. It includes the kind of contemplation which is one of the characteristics of mystics and wayfarers of the Path. Khwajah ‘Abd Allah al-’Ansari has described it in these words:

إعْلَمْ أَنَّ التَّفَکُّرَ تَلَمُّسُ البَصِیرَةِ لإسْتِدْرَاکِ البُغْیَةِ.

Know that contemplation is the inquisitive groping of the inner vision for attaining the coveted end.(1)

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

What Is Heart?

There are various applications and denotations of the word ‘heart’. For physicians and the common people it is a tiny piece of

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1- Manazil al-sa’irin, I, 57.

flesh, whose contractions and expansions cause the flow of blood through arteries and veins, which generates a subtle élan vital. The philosophers (hukama) use it for a certain seat of the psyche (nafs). The urafa assign to it grades (maratib) and stages (maqamat), and to go into their details is not our concern here. In the Holy Quran and the ahadith, it has been used both in its general as well as its particular senses in different places.

In the verse:

﴿ وَبَلَغَتْ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ.﴾

The hearts reached to the throats. (33:10)

‘Heart’ is used in the same sense as used by physicians. And in:

﴿لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا یَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْیُنٌ لَا یُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا.﴾

They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not. (7:179)

It is used in the sense used by the philosophers. And in:

﴿إِنَّ فِی ذَلِکَ لَذِکْرَی لِمَنْ کَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَی السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِیدٌ.﴾

Therein verily is a reminder for him who hath a heart, or giveth ear with full intelligence. (50:37)

‘Heart’ is used in the same sense as used by the urafa.

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

In the statement: (جَافِ عَنِ اللَّیْلِ جَنْبَکَ جفاً) gives the sense of bu’d, to keep away, to shun, and such is its meaning in (جَافَاهُ عَنْهُ فَتَجَافَی عَنِ الفِرَاشِ) as given by al-Sihah.

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‘Night’, here, has been used allegorically for ‘bed’ and as discussed in detail by the usuli faqih Aqa Shaykh Rida Isfahani in Jaliyyat al-hal, the avoiding of ‘night’ refers to getting up from the bed for night prayers God willing, we shall discuss the holy tradition in a number of sections.

Merits Of Contemplation

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

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

أَفْضَلُ العِبَادَةِ إِدْمَانُ التَّفَکُّرِ فِی اللهِ وَفِی قُدْرَتِهِ.

The best form of worship is to contemplate about God and His Power.(1)

In another hadith, it is stated that an hour’s contemplation is better than a night’s worship.’(2) And according to a Prophetic tradition, the contemplation of an hour is better than a year’s worship. In another tradition it is stated that an hour’s contemplation is better than sixty years of worship (according to another hadith, seventy years). And some traditionists and fuqaha’ have even mentioned it as being better than a thousand years of worship. In any case, there are different grades and levels of contemplation, and every grade gives certain results and consequences. Here we shall mention a few of them.

1. The first kind

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1- Usul al-Kafi, II, 55.
2- Usul al-Kafi, II, 55.

of contemplation is about God, His Names, Attributes and His Perfections, the result of which is the knowledge of His existence and His irradiations (tajalliyat) from which the archetypes (ayan) and the manifestations (mazahir) emerge. And this is the most superior level of contemplation which yields the sublimest of the kinds of knowledge, and the firmest of the arguments (burhan); for thinking about the essence of the Cause and meditating on the Absolute Cause imparts knowledge about Him and the understanding of the effects. Such is the outline of the revelations on the hearts of the Truthful (siddiqun), and it is for this reason that it is called burhan al-siddiqin, the Proof of the Truthful; since the Truthful observe the Names and the Attributes, and view the first essences (a’yan) and manifestations (mazahir) in the mirror of the Names through the witness of the Essence.

The reason, however, that this type of proof is called burhan al-siddiqin is that if a Truthful one (siddiq) wishes to set forth his observations in the form of a proof and give his gnostic, intuitive experience the apparel of words, it would appear in this form; not that anyone who gains the knowledge of the Essence and its irradiations through this proof becomes one of the Truthful, or that the knowledge of the Truthful belongs to the category of proofs, even especial ones. How far from the truth to imagine that their knowledge is of the category of contemplation, or that their cognitions are

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like arguments and their premises!

As long as the heart is covered within the wrapping of arguments and one is in the stage of contemplation, one has not yet reached even the first grade of the Truthful. And when the thick curtains of knowledge and proof are set aside and contemplation brushed aside, it is at the extremity of the Path drat there, without the mediation of contemplation - in fact without any means or agency whatsoever - that he ultimately succeeds in viewing the glory and beauty of the Absolute at the end of his voyage; it is then that he experiences perpetual and everlasting delight. He transcends the world and everything therein, covered under the mantle of the Almighty to remain existent in total annihilation.

Nothing remains of him, and he passes into absolute oblivion, save that Divine favor should take him back to his realm and to the regions of (relative) being, in accordance with the capacity of his unchanging essence (al-‘ayn al-thabitah). In the state of this return, the spheres of Divine glory and beauty are revealed to him, and he perceives (the meaning of) the Names and the Attributes in the mirror of the Essence.

Through that he witnesses his own unchanging essence and everything that is under His shelter and protection, and discovers the tracks of the manifestations and the ways of recourse to the heart’s exterior. Then he is conferred with the robes of prophethood and the difference of the stations of the

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apostles and prophets becomes evident to him. The vastness or narrowness of the circle of prophethood and that of those from whom the prophet is raised and those towards whom he is sent are revealed to him. And to enlarge on this topic further is not proper for these pages. So we shall leave it here and part, too, with the theme of burhan al-siddiqin, as it needs a preparatory introduction with its elaborate details.

The Desirable And The Forbidden Contemplation On The Divine Essence

It should be known that what we said about the possibility of contemplation on the Essence, the Names and the Attributes may lead the ignorant to imagine that it is forbidden in accordance with certain riwayat, knowing not that that which is forbidden is to attempt to fathom the quality and depths of the Essence, as is clear from the traditions.’(1)

Sometimes those who are not capable of such (otherwise desirable) contemplation are also forbidden from reflecting on certain kinds of ma’arif which require initiation into certain subtleties. The hukama’ confirm both of these points. The impossibility of fathoming the Essence is demonstrated in their writings, and the prohibition on contemplation on it is acknowledged by all of them. Also the conditions of entry into these sciences and the prohibition of the unworthy from learning them is also mentioned in their books; it is a customary advice which is mentioned by them either in the beginning or at the end of their works. For instance, the two great philosophers of Islam and authorities in this field,

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1- Al-Mahajjat al-bayda ; VIII, 193: تَفَکَّرُوا فِی خَلْقِ اللهِ وَلا تَتَفَکَّرُوا فِی اللهِ، فَإنَّکُمْ لَنْ تَقْدِرُوا قَدْرَهُ.

Shaykh Bu ‘Ali Sina and Sadr al-Muta’allihin (R) have stated this at the end of al-’Isharat(1) and at the beginning of al-’Asfar.(2)

They have given eloquent counsels in this regard. But to contemplate the Essence for positing the principle of al-tawhid and affirming Its transcendence (al-tanzih) and sanctity was the ultimate goal and purpose of the sending of the prophets and the cherished end of the urafa. The Holy Quran and the sacred ahadith are loaded with the knowledge of the Essence, Its Perfections and the Divine Names.

Reliable books of traditions, like Usul al-Kafi and al-Tawhid of al Shaykh al-Saduq, also do not forbid contemplation for the purpose of affirmation of the Essence, the Names and the Attributes. The difference between the scriptures and traditions of the prophets and the writings of the philosophers is regarding their terminology and their synoptic or elaborate treatment of the subject, as is the case with the difference between fiqh and traditions.

But the calamity is that certain ignorant persons have appeared in the garb of scholars during the last few centuries, who, being bereft of the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah, consider their sheer ignorance as the sole proof of the vanity of the knowledge of al-mabda’ and al-ma’ad. Such a man for the sake of promoting his trade, labels these ma’arif, which were the ultimate goal of the apostles and the Awliya’ (A) of God and with whose description the entire Book of God and the traditions of the Imams

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1- Al- Isharat wa al-tanbihat (Tehran: Haydari), III, 419.
2- Al- Asfar al-’arba’ah (Dar al-Ma’arif al-Islamiyyah ), I, 10.

of the Ahl al-Bayt (A) are replete, as haram.

Not sparing any charge and calumny against those who pursue these ma’arif, he diverts the hearts of the creatures of God from the knowledge of al-mabda’ and al-ma’ad, in addition to sowing the seeds of discord and disharmony in the community of Muslims. When asked about the reason for all this takfir (calling someone kafir) and tafsiq, (calling someone fasiq ), he immediately clings to the tradition:

لا تَتَفَکَّرُوا فِی ذَاتِ اللهِ.

Do not contemplate upon the Essence (of God).

The ignorance and the error of this wretch is for two reasons: Firstly, he believes that the hukama’ contemplate on the Essence, whereas they consider its intellection as impossible and probing deep into its mysteries as forbidden, and this itself is one of the established issues of their discipline. Secondly, having misunderstood the meaning of the tradition, he believes that not a single word be uttered regarding the Sacred Essence.

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

عَنْ أَبِی بَصِیرٍ قَالَ: قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامِ: تَکَلَّمُوا فِی خَلْقِ اللهِ وَلا تَتَکَلَّمُوا فِی اللهِ، فَإنَّ الکَلامَ فِی اللهِ لا یَزْدَادُ صَاحِبُهُ إلا تَحَیُّراً.

Abu Basir reports Abu Ja’far (A) as having said: Speak (takallamu) about

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the creation of God, and do not speak about God (fi Allah), for discourse about God will bring nothing but confusion (tahayyur) to the discourser.(1)

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

وَفِی رِوَایَةٍ أُخْرَی عَنْ حَرِیزٍ: تَکَلَّمُوا فِی کُلِّ شَیْءٍ وَلا تَتَکَلَّمُوا فِی ذَاتِ اللهِ.

From Hariz, from Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) that he said, “Discuss everything, but do not discuss the Essence of the Almighty.”(2)

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

عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إیَّاکُمْ وَالتَّفَکُّرَ فِی اللهِ وَلَکِنْ إذَا أَرَدْتُمْ أَنْ تَنْظُرُوا إلَی عَظَمَتِهِ فَانْظُرُوا إلَی عَظِیمِ خَلْقِهِ.

Abu Ja’far (A) said, “Beware of tafakkur in God. But if you wish to view His grandeur, observe the great of His creations.”(3)

Apparently, this riwayah also seems to forbid probing into the reality of the Essence, for the tradition adds that if

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1- Usul al-Kafi, I, 92, hadith 1.
2- Usul al-Kafi, I, 92, hadith 1.
3- Usul al-Kafi, I, 93, hadith 7.

someone wants to perceive the glory of the Almighty he should infer it from the grandeur of His creation. This kind of parabolic approach is intended for various types of persons whose knowledge of God is derived through the means of the creation.

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

أَفْضَلُ العِبَادَةِ إِدْمَانُ التَّفَکُّرِ فِی اللهِ وَفِی قُدْرَتِهِ.

The best form of worship is to contemplate about God and His Power.(1)

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

سُئِلَ عَلِیُّ بْنُ الحُسَیْنِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ عَنِ التَّوْحِیدِ فَقَالَ: إنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلِمَ أَنَّهُ یَکُونُ فِی آخِرِ الزَّمَانِ أَقْوَامٌ مُتَعَمِّقُونُ، فَأَنْزَلَ اللهُ تَعَالَی: ﴿قُلْ هُوَ اللهُ أَحَدٌ.﴾ وَالآیَاتِ مِنْ سُورَةِ الحَدِیدِ إلَی قَوْلِهِ: ﴿وَهُوَ عَلِیمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ.﴾ فَمَنْ رَامَ وَرَاءَ ذَلِکَ فَقَدْ هَلَکَ.

‘Ali (A) ibn al-Husayn (A) was questioned about tawhid; he answered “Verily, God Almighty knew that during the Last Age there would be a people of profound thinking. Hence the Almighty revealed Surat al-Tawhid and the verses of the Surat al-Hadid up to ‘And God is the Knower of all that is in the hearts.’(2) So whosoever goes beyond that will perish.”(3)

This shows that these verses about tawhid and tanzih, the verses about the emergence and the return of the creation mentioned

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1- Usul al-Kafi, II, 55.
2- The first six ayahs of Surat al-Hadid.
3- Usul al-Kafi, I, 91, hadith 3.

therein, are for those who contemplate profoundly. Can then anyone still claim that contemplating on God Almighty is prohibited? What ‘arif and Hakim has brought anything that goes beyond the commencing verses of the Surat al-Hadid? The ultimate of their achievement is that:

﴿سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِی السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ.﴾

All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Allah.

Is there any better way of describing God Almighty and the aspects of His Sacred Essence than the verse:

﴿هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ وَهُوَ بِکُلِّ شَیْءٍ عَلِیمٌ.﴾

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

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

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

Then all of these traditions show that contemplating and meditating on the Essence is forbidden on a certain level, which is to probe into the inmost mysteries (kunh) of the Essence

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and Its Quality (kayfiyyah), as stated in this tradition of al-Kafi:

مَنْ نَظَرَ فِی اللهِ کَیْفَ هُوَ هَلَکَ.

Whosoever contemplates in God to see how He is, perishes.(1)

Moreover, the traditions forbidding contemplation and those enjoining it, when reconciled, give the conclusion that a group of people who do not possess the strength of giving ear to philosophical arguments (burhan), having no capacity of entering into such discussions, are forbidden from doing so, and there are indications in the riwayat which testify to this. But as for those who have an aptitude for it, it is not only proper but is the highest form of worship.

In any case, we have digressed completely from our proposed theme, but there was no way we could avoid examining those degenerate views and the kind of calumnies, displeasing to God, which have acquired circulation during recent times on tongues, with the hope that it will make some effect on some hearts, and if one person were to accept this it would be sufficient for me. And praise is God’s and to Him do we complain.

وَالحَمْدُ للهَ وَإلَیْهِ المُشْتَکَی.

Contemplation On Creation

Another level of contemplation is reflecting on the subtleties of creation, its perfection and refinement, to the extent that it is in human power. Such contemplation leads to the intellection of its Perfect Source, its Wise Maker, and is a process which is the reverse of the burhan al siddiqin; for, in the latter, the point of departure is the station of God Almighty, glorious is His Name, wherefrom

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1- Usul al-Kafi, I, 93, hadith 5.

is acquired the knowledge of the manifestations of His Sovereignty (wilayah).

Here, however, the point of departure is creation, whereafter is acquired the knowledge of its Source and Maker. This proof (burhan) is for ordinary people, who do not partake of the burhan al-siddiqin. Therefore, perhaps, many of them would negate that the contemplation of God can bring the knowledge of Him and that the knowledge of the Origin can lead to the knowledge of the creation.

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

In any case, man has not been able to acquire the real knowledge of the subtleties and secrets of creation. So subtle are its foundations and so firm its design, so beautiful and perfectly planned is its system that if we consider any creature, however insignificant and humble it should appear to be, with all the scientific development acquired during centuries of studies man has

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been unable to discover even one of its thousand secrets, let alone the majesty of the cosmic system of creation whose intricacies and mysteries are beyond the reaches of our vision and inaccessible to our imperfect, limited ideas. Now we shall draw your attention to one of the subtleties of creation which is relatively near to understanding and comprehension and is considered to lie in the realm of the sensible.

The Earth And The Sun: Two Masterpieces Of Creation

My dear, observe and reflect on the relationship between the earth and the sun, the fixed distance and the suitable speed with which the earth spins on its axis and revolves in its orbit around the sun, causing day and night and the seasons. What a perfection of creative skill and what a work of immaculate wisdom it is that had it been not exactly so - that is had the earth been a little away or nearer to the sun - there would not have been any vegetation and animal life, on account of chilling cold due to the former and excessive heat due to the latter.

And, similarly, had the earth remained static, there would not have been any days and nights and seasons either, and the earth would have been without any trace of life despite possessing everything else to support life.

Yet He did not suffice at this; He made its north furthest from the sun (in the northern hemisphere), so as to ensure that excessive heat does no harm to the creatures; the point nearest to

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the sun was situated towards the south, so that coldness should not harm the inhabitants of the earth. This was also not enough; the moon, which also influences the earth’s creatures, was assigned a different course than the earth, in such a way that when the sun is the northern region of the earth, the moon appears in the southern, and vice versa.

This was for the sake of the utmost benefit of their positions relative to the earth. These are essentially sensible phenomena, yet to encompass their subtleties and secrets is not possible for anybody but their omnipotent Creator.

Why should we go so far ? If one contemplates his own creation, according to the scope of his knowledge and capability, beginning with the external senses he will see that they have been contrived according to the kind of sensations and sense perceptions they receive. For every group of sensible objects a separate faculty of perception has been created, and that too with what astounding propriety and skill! And for matters of a supra-sensible nature, which cannot be perceived through the outward senses, internal senses have been fashioned to perceive them.

Let alone the knowledge of the soul and its spiritual faculties, which the human intellect cannot comprehend, and contemplate upon the human body, its anatomy, its physical constitution and the functioning of each and every external and internal organ. See what a wonderful system and what a striking order they constitute!

In spite of a hundred centuries of scientific study,

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man has not been able to understand a thousandth fraction of it, and all the scientists declare their inability in this regard in unambiguous terms, although this body of man is no more than an insignificant speck in comparison to other creatures on the earth’s crust, and the earth with all its inhabitants is of little significance as compared with the solar system and our complete solar system is of no consequence when compared with other solar systems and galaxies; and all these macro and micro systems are parts of a disciplined and orderly system, no speck of which can be found faulty by anyone and all the human intellects are unable to understand even a single secret of its myriad recondite subtleties and secrets.

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

﴿أَفِی اللَّهِ شَکٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ.﴾

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

All this orderly and systematic artistry, whose general laws no human mind can comprehend, has not come into existence by itself and spontaneously. Blind be the inner eye that fails to perceive the Truth and cannot observe its beauty in these creatures! Perish the man who is skeptical and doubtful despite seeing all these effects and signs! But, what else can helpless man, captivated by fantasies, do? If

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you take out your rosary and claim that its beads got assembled on the thread by themselves, without anybody arranging them, everyone will laugh at your intelligence.

You will invite a calamity if you take out your pocket watch and make similar claims about it; if you do such a thing will you not have stuck off your name from the list of the sane and wouldn’t all the sane people of the world consider you a lunatic? If one who considers this simple and small mechanical system to originate without a cause and as being outside causality is considered insane and is likely to be stripped of all the rights belonging to men of reason, what is to be done with the person who claims not the whole cosmic system but even man and the complex system of his body and soul alone to have come into existence by itself? Is he still to be reckoned among men of reason? What fool is more stupid than such a man?

﴿قُتِلَ الْإِنْسَانُ مَا أَکْفَرَهُ!﴾

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

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

Contemplation On The States Of The Soul

One of the levels of contemplation is meditation on the states of the soul, which is of immense benefit being the source of vast transcendental knowledge. Here we intend to discuss two benefits: one is the knowledge of the Day of Resurrection, and the other is the knowledge of (the necessity of) prophethood

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and revealed scriptures - that is, of general prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-’ammah) and systems of Divine Law (sharayi’ haqqah). One of the issues pertaining to the soul is its state of independence (from the body), a problem which has been given more significance than any other philosophical issue by all the eminent hukama about which they have given numerous proofs and explanations. Here we are not in a position to offer an elaborate proof of this. We shall confine ourselves to mentioning some simple preliminaries and then return to our subject.

All the physicians, scientists and anatomists unanimously agree that all the human organs, from the pia mater - which is the centre of sense perceptions and the stage for the manifestation of all psychic faculties - to the coarser parts and organs of the body, weaken, deteriorate and decline after the age of thirty or thirty-five years. We ourselves have experienced how weakness and sluggishness overtake all the organs of the body after that age.

However, at the same time, that is at the age of thirty and forty and after that, the spiritual faculties and intellectual perceptions become more refined and gain in growth and strength. This implies that the rational faculties are not physically based, for had they been corporeal like other physical faculties, they would also have declined.

It is not right to imagine that it is the extent of intellectual activity as well as experience which strengthen the intellectual faculties, because all the physical faculties weaken and

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decline despite prolonged use and do not grow in strength and perfection. This proves that the intellectual faculty is not physically rooted.

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

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

Moreover, every such faculty which is nearer to the physical and corporeal domain is inclined to deteriorate and decay more rapidly, and that which is more removed from it weakens more latterly. But the powers belonging to the world of the transcendent and the celestial become stronger and their vitality increases. This proves that the soul is not corporeal and physical in nature. Since the properties, effects and activities of the soul are opposed to the properties, effects and activities of the purely corporeal organs, it

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proves that the soul is not corporeal in nature. For instance, through prior knowledge we know that a body does not accept more than one form. If it is to receive another form, it will have to part with the form it earlier had.

For example, if a picture is drawn on a paper, another picture cannot be painted on that page as long as the first picture is not erased completely. This principle is applicable to all bodies; but for the soul, while one form is impressed on it, other totally different forms can also be stamped on it without the first form being wiped out. Every corporeal body can receive only finite forms, whereas the soul can receive infinite forms, and it is for this reason that it can posit infinity.

Also, every corporeal body, if it loses one form, that form cannot be restored to it without a renewed cause; but in the case of the soul, any form, after having left it, may return to it without any resumption of the cause. This shows that the soul is opposed to all corporeal bodies regarding properties, effects and action. Hence it has a non-corporeal existence of its own and does not belong to the category of bodies and physical objects.

Anything that is non-corporeal is not subject to decay - as has been demonstrated in its own place - because decay cannot occur without matter, and the non-corporeal is independent of matter. Matter is the precondition of corporeal

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bodies; therefore, decay is not possible for the soul. Hence we come to the conclusion that the soul does not weaken and decay or is destroyed with the weakening, decay or destruction of the body, or after separating from it. It remains in another world and there is no death and extinction for it; this is a spiritual resurrection for the souls, prior to the Day of Resurrection, when they are united with the bodies by the will of God.

Now we reach the point of absolute affirmation of Resurrection, and stand opposed to those who negate it absolutely. From these preliminaries it should be clear that there is health and disease, reform and corruption, knowledge and wretchedness for souls, and to discover their source and to know the secrets of their corruption and welfare is not possible for anyone except the Holy Essence of the Almighty.

In the perfect system of the cosmos, which is the best of possible systems ordered by the Absolutely Wise and the Omniscient, it is impossible that there should be any negligence regarding the education of mankind as to the ways of its felicity and wretchedness, its guidance towards the causes of spiritual soundness and corruption, and the prescription of remedies for curing the soul.

This is because such a negligence would imply a defect either in God’s knowledge or His power, either His generosity or His justice, whereas it is known that His Holy Being is free from all these defects. He is absolutely

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perfect and absolutely generous. Any neglect providing guidance pointing out the paths of knowledge and wretchedness will imply a great defect in Divine wisdom, which would lead to cosmic disorder and chaos. Therefore, the perfect system necessitates the declaration of the paths of felicity and the road to guidance. This explanation leads to two clear conclusions.

One is that the Shari’ah is the prescription for spiritual maladies and is known to none except the Sacred Being of the Almighty. The other is that it is necessary for God to bring it to the knowledge of man. It is obvious that such a momentous, perfect and precise knowledge, whose apprehension is not possible through the intellectual faculties of men - none of which can grasp either the relationships between tile corporeal and transcendental worlds or the effects of the transcendental forms on the inner depths of the soul - can only be accessible through the agency of wahy or revelation, that is, by means of Divine teaching.

It is clear that every human individual is not worthy of this office and does not have the capability of occupying this station and performing this duty. It is only once in several centuries that one such individual is to be found who is worthy of performing this task and who can undertake such a great mission. God Almighty assigns to him the task of expounding the paths of felicity and wretchedness to humanity, to make them aware of that wherein lies their welfare. This

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is general prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-’ammah). Now that we have arrived at this point in our discussion, we may explain a further point which should be considered as one of self-evident truths.

A Conclusive Proof

Now that we know that there should necessarily be a Shari’ah laid down by the Divine Lawgiver for mankind, when we turn to the Shari’ahs prevailing amongst mankind we see that there are three principal ones: the Shari’ah of Jews, the Shari’ah of Christians, and the Shari’ah of Islam. We find that in all the three essential foundations which constitute the basis of all Shari’ahs (of which the first is concerned with the true doctrines and Divine teachings about God’s Attributes and His transcendence, the knowledge of angels and the qualities of the prophets (A) and their infallibility, which are the principal and main component of the Shari’ahs; the second is about praiseworthy qualities, purification of the soul and moral excellences; the third is about outward individual and social acts and rites pertaining to political and civic actions and their like), the Islamic Shari’ah is more complete than the others.

Anyone who tries to judge without prejudice will discover that it is incomparable to the others, and there does not exist any religious law pertaining to all the aspects and stages of life more perfect regarding its worldly and otherworldly aspects than this Law. This is itself the biggest proof in favor of its Divine origin.

Accordingly, after affirming the doctrine of universal prophethood and the doctrine that God Almighty

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has legislated a Divine Shari’ah for humanity, showing them the path of guidance and bringing them under the cover of one discipline and system, no preliminaries are required for proving the truthfulness of the Islamic Din except for examining it and comparing it with other religious laws on every conceivable level of human need - from righteous qualities and spiritual learning to individual and social responsibilities. And this is the meaning of the following sacred tradition:

الإسْلامُ یَعْلُو وَلا یُعْلَی عَلَیْهِ.

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

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

The result of our arguments relating to the positing of the prophetic mission of the Seal of Prophethood (S) is that in the same way as the creative perfection manifest in the creation of the cosmos and its perfect arrangement and order directs us towards the intellection of a Being who has ordered it and whose omniscience encompasses all its particulars, subtleties and grandeurs, the perfection of the Shari’ah - whose perfect order and methodical finesse is capable of guaranteeing all the material and spiritual, this-worldly and otherworldly, collective and individual needs - guides us to the fact that the system of this Shari’ah has been ordered by a knowledge which encircles all the needs of the

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human species.

And since our intellects tell us that the intellectual faculties of a man whose biography has been written by all the historians of religion and who was an unlettered person brought up in a society devoid of all higher knowledge and virtues, could not have produced such a perfect and systematic Shari’ah. Hence, of necessity, we have to acknowledge that this Shari’ah has a metaphysical and transcendental source, and reached that glorious personage (S) by means of Divine revelation and wahy. And praise is God’s for the clarity of proofs.

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

Virtues Of The Midnight Prayer

Now remains the exposition of these two phrases of the hadith:

جَافِ عَنِ اللَّیْلِ جَنْبَکَ وَاتَّقِ اللهَ رَبَّکَ.

Keep your side clear off the night; and be heedful towards your Lord.(1)

In this blessed pronouncement, the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (A), has placed the actions of the heart, contemplative awareness, and the taqwa of God by the side of night vigils and keeping aloof from the bed for the sake of worship. This proves the distinction and merit it commands, and the practice has been greatly glorified in the traditions. The biographies of the Imams of guidance (A), and those of great sages and eminent scholars, indicate that they not only assiduously observed it,

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1- Usul al-Kafi (Akhundi, ed. by ‘Ali’ Akbar Ghaffiri), II, 54.

but attached great importance to the practice of staying awake until the late hours of night, aside from the aim of worship.

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

عَنِ الکَافِی بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ مُعَاوِیَةَ بْنِ عَمَّارٍ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: کَانَ فِی وَصِیَّةِ النَّبِیِّ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ لِعَلِیٍّ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ أَنْ قَالَ: یَا عَلِیُّ، أُوصِیکَ فِی نَفْسِکَ بِخِصَالٍ فَاحْفَظْهَا. ثُمَّ قَالَ: اللَّهُمَّ أَعِنْهُ. إلَی أَنْ قَالَ: وَعَلَیْکَ بِصَلاةِ اللَّیْلِ وَعَلَیْکَ بِصَلاةِ اللَّیْلِ وَعَلَیْکَ بِصَلاةِ اللَّیْلِ.

It is reported in al-Kafi from Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Amman who said that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (A) say: “In the wasiyyah addressed to ‘Ali (A) by the Prophet (S), he (S) said: “O ‘Ali, I enjoin you regarding certain habits that you must safeguard.” Then the Prophet (S) prayed, “O God, succor him.” Then (continuing his advice) he said, “Observe the midnight prayer. Observe the midnight prayer. Observe the midnight prayer.”(1)

Its great significance may be understood from the entire tradition:

وَعَنِ الخِصَالِ بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ

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

وَسَلَّمَ لِجِبْرَئِیلَ: عِظْنِی. فَقَالَ: یَا مُحَمَّدُ، عِشْ مَا شِئْتَ فَإنَّکَ مَیِّتٌ، وَأَحْبِبْ مَا شِئْتَ فَإنَّکَ مُفَارِقُهُ، وَاعْمَلْ مَا شِئْتَ فَإنَّکَ مُلاقِیهِ. شَرَفُ المُؤْمِنِ صَلاتُهُ بِاللَّیْلِ، وَعِزُّهُ کَفُّهُ عَنْ أَعْرَاضِ النَّاسِ.

In al-Khisal, Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) is reported to have said, “The Prophet (S) asked Jibra’il to exhort him about something. Jibra’il said, “O Muhammad! Live you as you wish, for verily you will die one day. And love whatever you like, for verily you will have to part from it. Act as you wish, for verily you will have to face it. Know that the distinction of a believer lies in his establishing the night vigil and his nobleness lies in refraining from (maligning) the people’s honor.”(1)

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

وَفِی المَجَالِسِ؛ بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ فِی حَدِیثٍ: فَمَنْ رُزِقَ صَلاةَ اللَّیْلِ مِنْ عَبْدٍ أَوْ أَمَةٍ؛ قَامَ للهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مُخْلِصاً، فَتَوَضَّأَ وُضُوءاً سَابِغاً وَصَلَّی للهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بِنِیَّةٍ صَادِقَةٍ وَقَلْبٍ سَلِیمٍ وَبَدَنٍ خَاشِعٍ وَعَیْنٍ دَامِعَةٍ، جَعَلَ اللهُ تَبَارَکَ وَتَعَالَی خَلْفَهُ تِسْعَةَ صُفُوفٍ مِنَ المَلائِکَةِ، فِی کُلِّ صَفٍّ مَا لا یُحْصِی عَدَدَهُمْ إلا اللهُ تَبَارَکَ وَتَعَالَی، أَحَدُ طَرْفَیْ کُلِّ صَفٍّ بِالمَشْرِقِ وَالآخَرُ بِالمَغْرِبِ. فَإذَا فَرَغَ کَتَبَ لَهُ بِعَدَدِهِمْ دَرَجَاتٍ.

It is reported in al-Majalis on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (S) sad in a hadith: “When God

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1- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Thawab al-’a’mal, p.63, hadith 41; Man la yahduruhu al-faqih, I, 471.

Almighty appoints the night vigil as sustenance for His slave, man or woman, when he/she wakes up at night with sincere devotion towards God, performs a full ablution, and says prayer for the Almighty God with the purity of intention, with whole heartedness and with tearful eyes, God Almighty appoints seven rows of angels (to pray) behind him/her. No one except God can count their number on each side of each row, which extends from the east to the west. When he concludes the prayer, God Almighty writes grades for him equal to their number.”(1)

وَعَنِ العِلَلِ (عِلَلِ الشَّرَائِعِ)، بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ یَقُولُ: الرَّکْعَتَانِ فِی جَوْفِ اللَّیْلِ أَحَبُّ إلَیَّ مِنَ الدُّنْیَا وَمَا فِیهَا.

In ‘Ilal al-shara’i, it is reported from Anas that he heard the Messenger of God say: “Two rak’ah of prayer performed in the middle of night are dearer to me than the entire world and everything therein.”(2)

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

وَعَنِ العِلَلِ (عِلَلِ الشَّرَائِعِ)، بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِاللهِ الأنْصَارِیِّ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ یَقُولُ: مَا أتَّخَذَ اللهُ إبْرَاهِیمَ خَلِیلاً إلا لإطْعَامِهِ الطَّعَامَ وَصَلاتِهِ بِاللَّیْلِ وَالنَّاسُ نِیَامٌ.

In ‘Ilal al-shara’i, Jabir is reported to have heard the Prophet (S) say: “God did not befriend Ibrahim (A) except for his feeding people and offering prayers

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1- Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, V, 275.
2- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, ‘Ilal al-shara’i, p.138.

by night while the people were fast asleep.”(1)

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

وَعَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ إبْرَاهِیمَ بِإسْنَادِهِ، عَنْ أبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: مَا مِنْ عَمَلٍ حَسَنٍ یَعْمَلُهُ العَبْدُ إلا وَلَهُ ثَوَابٌ فَی القُرْآنِ إلا صَلاةَ اللَّیْلِ، فَإنَّ اللهَ لَمْ یُبَیِّنْ ثَوَابَهَا لِعَظِیمَ خَطَرِهَا عَنْدَهُ، فَقَالَ: ﴿تَتَجَافَی جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنْ الْمَضَاجِعِ یَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ یُنفِقُونَ. فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِیَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْیُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا کَانُوا یَعْمَلُونَ.﴾

From ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim who, with his chain of narrators, reports from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that he said, “For every good deed that a slave of God performs,

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1- Ibid., p.23; Wasa’il al Shi’ah, V, 276.

the reward for it is specified in the Quran, except for the midnight prayer, which commands an unusually high reward on account of its great worth. (God says in the Quran): Their sides shun their beds as they call on their Lord in fear and hope; and they expend of what We have provided them. No soul knows what delight is laid up for them secretly, as a recompense for that they were doing (32:16,17).”(1)

What can be the delight that God Almighty has kept in store for them, concealing it from the eyes of all? Had it been something similar to the flowing streams, the magnificent mansions, and the diverse bounties of Paradise, He would have described it - as in the case of other deeds, of which (at least) the angels are aware. This shows that this reward is above all these and of a different kind; its greatness stands beyond that which can be communicated to anyone, especially the inhabitants of this lowly world. Do not liken the bounties of this world to those of the other.

Do not imagine that the Paradise and the gardens therein are similar to the gardens of this world, only somewhat vaster and of a greater degree of grandeur. There is the abode of Divine beneficence and the house of the hospitality of the Lord. The entire world is not comparable in grandeur to a single hair of a houri of Paradise. Rather it is not comparable even to a thread of

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1- ‘Ilal al-shara’i, p.23; Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, V, 276.

the garments made for its inhabitants.

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

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

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him to be mighty enough to grant our prayers) to fulfill our desires!

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

اللَّهُمَّ ارْزُقْنِی التَّجَافِی عَنْ دَارِ الغُرُورِ والإنَابَةَ إلَی دَارِ الخُلُودِ والإسْتِعْدَادِ لِلْمَوْتِ قَبْلَ حُلُولِ الفَوْتِ.

My God, I implore Thee to rescue me from the house of illusion and this abode of delirium, and help me to return to the abode of eternity. Grant me the ability and preparedness to die before such an opportunity is lost.(1)

What Is Taqwa?

This should be known that taqwa (derived from wiqayah, defense) is a kind of defense and shielding. In common speech, as well as in the vocabulary of traditions, it means to restrain or bridle oneself from violating Divine commands (awamir and nawahi) and from going

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1- Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al jinan.

against what is pleasing to God. It is usually used for efficacious guarding of the soul and total control of it from falling into illegal and illegitimate acts, by refraining from all that is suspect (i.e. not known to be permissible for certain):

وَمَنْ أَخَذَ بِالشُّبُهَاتِ وَقَعَ فِی المُحَرَّمَاتِ وَهَلَکَ مِنْ حَیْثُ لا یَعْلَمُ. وَمَنْ رَتَعَ حَوْلَ الحِمَی یُوشَکُ أَنْ یَقَعَ فِیهِ.

Whosoever pursues dubious things, falls into forbidden things (muharramat) and is destroyed on account of his ignorance, such as an animal that grazes around a mire is liable to soon get entrapped in it.(1)

This should be known that although mere taqwa does not by itself constitute the higher stages of perfection and spiritual accomplishment, but reaching a high station is also not possible without it; for as long as the soul is smeared with commission of prohibited deeds, one cannot enter the door of humanity and cannot be a wayfarer of its path. As long as man remains obedient to his carnal wishes and sensual pleasures and their sweetness hangs in his mouth, he cannot even reach the preliminary grades of human perfection. As long as he cherishes the love of the world in his heart and has the fondness: for mundane things, he cannot reach the station of even those who are halfway on the road (mutawassitun) and the zuhhad.

And as long as self-love lies embedded in his essence, he will not reach the station of the sincere (mukhlisun) and the lovers of God. Until the love for

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1- Wasa’il al-Shi’ah.

the pluralities of the world (mulk) and the Hereafter (malakut) is evident in his heart, he will not reach the high station of the majdhubun (those immersed in the Divine and detached from all worldly attachments). And until the plurality of the Names is manifest within the core of his essence, he cannot attain total annihilation (fana). As long as his heart is turned towards the spiritual station, he has not attained the station of complete extinction. And until his essence is prone to take up different colors (talwin), he has not reached the station of stable endurance, and the Essence; as the referent of the Name of the Essence, will not cast Its eternal and everlasting radiance into his heart.

Thus, for ordinary men taqwa is with respect to the forbidden things; for the elect it is vis-a-vis sensual pleasures; for the ascetics it is in relation to the world, for the sincere it is in relation to the love of the self; and for the majdhubun it is in relation to the plurality of Act; for the faniyun (those who have annihilated themselves in the Essence) it is in relation to the plurality of the Names; for, the wasdun (those who have reached the Essence) taqwa is in relation to absorption in the annihilation; and for the mutamakkinun it is in regard to inner instabilities (talwinat), and hence the Quran enjoins:

﴿فَاسْتَقِمْ کَمَا أُمِرْتَ.﴾

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

There is much that can be said

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

Taqwa For The Common People

Remember, my dear, that in the same way as there is health and sickness for the human body and remedies and cures for correcting it, there is also health and disease and remedies and cures for the human soul as well. Its health and well-being is observance of moderation, it lies in treading the human path, and sickness and affliction is the result of deviating from the right path of humanity.

The spiritual maladies and diseases are a thousand times more significant than the physical maladies; for at the most the latter ultimately lead to death. As soon as death approaches and the soul leaves the body, all physical maladies and corporeal defects and infirmities disappear for one, and one does not feel any bodily pain and affliction any more.

But if, God forbid, one is afflicted with spiritual maladies and diseases of the soul, the time of death is withdrawal of the soul’s attention from the body and its redirection towards the domain of the spirit: that is the beginning of the experience of these sicknesses and afflictions. The similitude of attention toward the world and

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its attachments is like the narcotics which makes its addict oblivious of himself. The breaking of the soul’s bonds with the realm of the physical world makes the soul gain self-consciousness.

As soon as it becomes self-conscious, all the pains, diseases and indispositions that lie latent within the depths of the essence, now overwhelm it and each and every thing that remained invisible until that time, like fire smouldering under ashes, becomes evident. Those diseases and maladies either cannot be driven away and adhere firmly to one, or if they are remediable, it is only after being subjected to tortures, pains, fire and burning for thousands of years that they can be wiped away:

آخِرُ الدَّوَاءِ الکَیُّ.

The last cure is cauterization.

God Almighty says:

﴿یَوْمَ یُحْمَی عَلَیْهَا فِی نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ فَتُکْوَی بِهَا جِبَاهُهُمْ وَجُنُوبُهُمْ وَظُهُورُهُمْ.﴾

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

The apostles of God are similar to kind physicians who out of great concern for treating illnesses prescribe different remedies in accordance with the severity of the disease. They have strived to guide mankind on the right path of genuine guidance (We are God-trained physicians). The effect of the spiritual deeds and actions of the heart, as well as the external deeds and actions of the body, is similar to that of a medicine. In the same way, the effect of taqwa, on each of its levels, is similar to abstaining from those things that aggravate

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the disease.

Unless the sick man does not abstain from harmful things, it is not possible that his malady be replaced by well-being and the prescribed remedy be effectual. During physical illness, sometimes, despite a little intemperance, medicine and nature do their work and one may regain his health and well-being; for nature itself is a protector of health and medicine acts as its assistant. But the matter is more serious in the case of spiritual maladies, as here the nature dominates the spirit from the very beginning. and the spiritual side heads towards corruption and decline:

﴿إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ.﴾

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

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

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

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foremost and the most essential steps in the direction of spiritual advancement.

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

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

﴿یَا أَیُّهَا الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنْظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِیرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ. وَلَا تَکُونُوا کَالَّذِینَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنْسَاهُمْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ أُوْلَئِکَ هُمْ الْفَاسِقُونَ. لَا یَسْتَوِی أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ وَأَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمْ الْفَائِزُونَ. لَوْ أَنْزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَی جَبَلٍ لَرَأَیْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُتَصَدِّعًا مِنْ خَشْیَةِ اللَّهِ وَتِلْکَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ یَتَفَکَّرُونَ. هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِی لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ عَالِمُ الْغَیْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ هُوَ الرَّحْمَانُ الرَّحِیمُ. هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِی لَا إِلَهَ

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إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِکُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَیْمِنُ الْعَزِیزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَکَبِّرُ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا یُشْرِکُونَ. هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَی یُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِی السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِیزُ الْحَکِیمُ.﴾

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

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the Wise. (59:18-24)

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

In any case, beseech and entreat God Almighty with supplications and tears to succor you and assist you during this trial and to help you in acquiring the faculty of taqwa. Remember that in the beginning it will appear to be a little hard, but after strict observance of a few days discomfort will change into comfort and hardship into leisure and tranquility; rather, it will give you a unique spiritual joy, which those who have tasted value higher than all other enjoyments.

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

In this state of consciousness, you will realize that each one of

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

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

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

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the fragrance of wilayah. God Almighty specifies a seat for him under the shelter of His grace and succors him with His special favors.

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

Thirteenth Hadith: Trust In God (Tawakkul)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إِلَی الشَّیْخِ الجَلِیلِ ثِقَةِ الإسْلامِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ عَنْ عِدَّةٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ، عَنْ غَیْرِ وَاحِدٍ، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ أَسْبَاطٍ، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ عُمَرَ الحَلالِ، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ سُوَیْدٍ، عَنْ أَبِی الحَسَنِ الأَوَّلِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُهُ عَنْ قَوْلِ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: ﴿وَمَنْ یَتَوَکَّلْ عَلَی اللهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ.﴾ فَقَالَ: التَّوَکُّلُ عَلَی اللهِ دَرَجَاتٌ؛ مِنْهَا أَنْ تَتَوَکَّلَ عَلَی اللهِ فِی أُمُورِکَ کُلِّهَا، فَمَا فَعَلَ بِکَ کُنْتَ عَنْهُ رَاضِیاً، تَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ لا یَأْلُوکَ خَیْراً وَفَضْلاً وَتَعْلَمُ أَنَّ الحُکْمَ فِی ذَلِکَ لَهُ، فَتَوَکَّلْ عَلَی اللهِ بِتَفْوِیضِ ذَلِکَ إلَیْهِ وَثِقْ بِهِ فِیهَا وَفِی غَیْرِهَا.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (al-Kulayni): from a group of our teachers, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid, from more than one transmitter, from ‘Ali ibn Asbat, from Ahmad ibn ‘Umar al-Hallal, from ‘Ali ibn Suwayd, from Abu al-Hasan al-’Awwal (A). ‘Ali ibn Suwayd says, ‘I asked him concerning the utterance of God Almighty: And whoever puts his trust in God, then God suffices him (65:3).’ The Imam (A) said: “There are various degrees of trust in God. Of them one is that you should put your

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trust in God in all your affairs, being well-pleased with whatever God does to you, knowing for certain that he does not cease in His goodness and grace towards you, and that the command therein rests with Him. So put your trust in God, leaving that to Him and relying upon Him in regard to that and everything other than that.”(1)


Halal, with a shaddah on the lam, means the seller of hill, oil. Abu al-Hasan al-’Awwal is Imam al-Kazim (A), and it is he who is meant (in traditions) when just ‘Abu al-Hasan’ is mentioned. Abu al-Hasan al-Thani is Imam al-Rida (A) and Abu al-Hasan al-Thalith is Imam al-Hadi (the Tenth Imam). Tawakkul literally mean, admission of one’s inability and reliance on one other than oneself.

(إتَّکَلْتُ عَلَی فُلانٍ فِی أَمْرٍ) means, as the lexicographers ‘I relied upon him in a certain matter, the word (إتَّکَلْتُ)originally being (إوْتَکَلْتُ), which means considering someone sufficient.

(یَأْلُوکَ) derived from (ألا) and (ألواً) meaning ‘to fail’, ‘to neglect’, ‘to refrain’. In the transitive form, some have said, when it requires two maf’ul, the sense of preventing and depriving (man’) is assured ....

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

Tawakkul And Its Degrees

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

التَّوَکُّلُ کِلَةُ الأَمْرِ کُلِّهِ

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

إلَی مَالِکِهِ وَالتَّعْوِیلُ عَلَی وَکَالَتِهِ.

Tawakkul means entrusting all the matters to their Master and relying upon His trusteeship.(1)

Some urafa have said:

التَّوَکُّلُ طَرْحُ البَدَنِ فِی العُبُودِیَّةِ وَتَعَلُّقُ القَلْبِ بِالرُّبُوبِیَّةِ.

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

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

التَّوَکُّلُ عَلَی اللهِ انْقِطَاعُ العَبْدِ فِی جَمِیعِ مَا یَأْمُلُهُ مِنَ المَخْلُوقِینَ.

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

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

Let it be known to you that one of the esoteric principles of the wayfarers of the Path, without which no progress is possible, is the knowledge of God’s Lordship and Mastership and the quality of the sway of the Holy Essence over all affairs. We shall not discuss the theoretical aspect of this issue, for it calls for an examination of questions related to free will and predestination,

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1- Khwajah ‘Abd Allah al-’Ansari, Manazil al-sa’irin.

which is not suitable for these pages. Here, we will only mention the different degrees of the people’s knowledge of it.

People are very different in regard to the knowledge of the Lordship of the Sacred Essence .of God. The commoners among the monotheists consider God Almighty the Creator of the general essences of things and their elements and substances; but they do not believe in the all-embracing Lordship of God, and consider His authority over things as limited. As a matter of verbal habit they may often declare that God decrees all matters and has power over all things, that nothing can come into existence without His sacred Will. Yet, their actual station is not at a par with their verbal profession, neither in respect of knowledge, nor faith, neither experience nor conviction.

This class of people, to which we also belong, have no knowledge of God’s Lordship; their faith in tawhid is deficient and the sovereignty of the Lord is concealed from their sight by the veils of apparent causation. Hence they do not occupy the station of tawakkul, which is our concern here, except on the level of mere verbal claim. Accordingly, they do not rely in their worldly affairs on anything except the superficial causes and material factors.

If sometimes they turn their attention to God and beseech something of Him, that is either on account of imitation or for reasons of caution; since not only they see no harm in it but allow a possibility of

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benefit. Thus there is a scent of tawakkul in them, although whenever they deem the apparent causal factors as favorable they totally forget God and His efficacy.

Now that which is staid regarding tawakkul, that it is not opposed to action and effort is quite right and in accordance with reason as well as revelation. But to fail to see God’s Lordship and His efficacy and to consider material causes as independent is contrary to tawakkul. Although this kind of people is devoid of tawakkul in respect to their worldly affairs, they make vigorous claims of tawakkul when it comes to the matters of the Hereafter. They justify their sluggishness and neglect in the matters of acquisition of transcendental knowledge, spiritual development and fulfillment of moral and devotional duties by easy professions of reliance on God and tawakkul on His beneficence.

With such verbal declarations as ‘God is great’ and ‘My trust lies in God’s beneficence’ they hope to attain the stations of the Hereafter. However, in regard to worldly matters, they declare, “Effort and endeavor are not contrary to tawakkul on God and reliance upon His munificence.” This is nothing except one of the guiles of the carnal self and the Devil. For this sort has tawakkul on God neither in the matters of the world nor in the affairs of the Hereafter. But since they consider worldly matters as paramount, they put their reliance on material causes, not relying on God and His efficacy.

On the other hand, since

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the affairs of the Hereafter are not important in their eyes and as they have no real faith in the Day of Resurrection and its details, they conjure up pretexts to conceal their neglect. Hence they say, ‘God is great’, and they declare trust in God and faith in the intercession of the Intercessors, although such professions are nothing but empty verbiage and meaningless oscillations of the tongue.

There is another class of people, who, having been convinced either by reason or revelation, affirm that God Almighty is the sole determiner of matters, the cause of all causes, efficacious in the realm of being, there being no limit to His power and influence. On the level of rational belief, they have tawakkul in God; that is the complete grounds of tawakkul have been furnished for them by reason and revelation.

Hence they consider themselves as mutawakkil and are able to supply rational proofs in justification of tawakkul, having confirmed rational conviction in all the essential preliminaries of tawakkul, which are: God’s knowledge of the needs of His creatures; His power and ability to satisfy those needs; His freedom from stinginess; and His Love and mercy for His creatures. On the basis of these, it is necessary to have trust on the Omniscient, Powerful, unniggardly and Merciful Lord, Who takes care to provide whatever is good for His creatures and in their interest, Who does not allow them to remain deprived of what is good for them, even though they themselves should

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be incapable of distinguishing between that which is beneficial or harmful for them.

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

There is a third group in which the conviction in God’s sway over creation has penetrated into the heart, which has firm faith in God’s Sovereignty and Mastership over things. The pen of reason has inscribed all the essentials of tawakkul on the tablet of their heart. It is they who possess the station of tawakkul.

But the members of this group also differ from one another in regard to the level and degree of faith, whose highest degree is contentment (itminan) at which the most perfect degree of tawakkul appears in their heart. Then, their heart is detached from causation and attached to the Lordship of God, on Whom they rely and in Whom they-are content, in accordance with the words of the mystic who defined tawakkul as “casting the body away in servitude to God and attaching the heart to His Lordship.”

That which was mentioned above holds true in the case when the heart still dwells in the stage of plurality (kathrat al-af’ar) otherwise it leaves behind the station of tawakkul to attain to a

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higher station whose discussion lies outside the scope of this exposition.

Thus, it was seen that tawakkul has various stages and degrees, and perhaps the degree of tawakkul referred to in the hadith is the one pertaining to the second group, for it mentions knowledge as its preliminary condition. Or perhaps it refers to a degree of tawakkul according to some other mode of gradation, for tawakkul is amenable to another kind of gradation, as described in relation with the various stages of wayfaring by the experts of mystics knowledge and spiritual discipline, as a gradual gradation from plurality to unity; for absolute extinction (fana’ al-mutlaq al-af’ali) is not attained instantaneously but gradually. In the first stage, the wayfarer observes unity in his own self and then in all other beings.

The stations of tawakkul, rida, taslim and all the other stations are attainable gradually. The wayfarer may at first exercise tawakkul in some of his affairs and with respect to hidden and unobservable causes. Then, gradually, his tawakkul becomes general, in that it extends from hidden and inner causes to manifest and observable ones and from his own affairs to that of his relatives and associates. Accordingly, it is stated in the holy tradition that one of the degrees of tawakkul is trust in God in all one’s affairs.

Difference Between Tawakkul And Rida

Let it be known to you that the station of rida is different from the station of tawakkul, being higher and more luminous. This is because whereas the mutawakkil seeks his own

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good and benefit and entrust his affairs to God considering Him the provider of good, the radi (one who has attained the station of rida) is one who has annihilated his will in the Divine Will, having no more a separate will of his own. When a mystic was asked, “Matur’id?” (What is your wish?), he replied, “Urid an la urid” (My wish is not to wish at all). What he meant is the station of rida.

As to the words of the Imam (A) in the hadith, “that you should be well-pleased (radiyan) with whatever God does to you,” they do not refer to the station of rida. Hence, he (A) says thereafter, “Know for certain that whatever He does to you, your good and benefit lies therein.” It appears that the Imams (A) intended to bring about the station of tawakkul in the listener. For this he mentions certain preliminaries. First, he (A) says, “Know that He does not cease to be good and benign towards you.”

Then he (A) says, “Know that the authority therein lies with Him.” Of course, one who knows that God Almighty has power over everything and that He does not cease to be graceful and benign, he would attain to the station of tawakkul, because the two main pillars of tawakkul are the same as stated by the Imam (A); although he (A) does not explicitly state the other two or three pillars. After mentioning the explicit and implicit preliminaries - that whatever

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God Almighty does is welcome because in it lies one’s good and benefit - the preliminaries which guide to the station of tawakkul, he (A) draws the conclusion and says, “Then have tawakkul on God.”

Tafwid, Tawakkul And Thiqah

Know that tafwid is also different from tawakkul, and so also thiqah is different from these two. Hence each of the three has been considered a different station on the wayfarer’s path. The Khwajah says:(1)

التَّفْوِیضُ أَلْطَفُ إشَارَةً وَأَوْسَعُ مَعْنیً مِنَ التَّوَکُّلِ. التَّوَکُّلُ شُعْبَةٌ مِنْهُ.

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

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

﴿الَّذِینَ قَالَ لَهُمْ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُوا لَکُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِیمَانًا وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَکِیلُ.﴾

Those unto whom men said, ‘Lo! the people have

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1- Khwajah ‘Abd Allah al-’Ansari, Manazil al-sa’irin.

gathered against you, therefore fear them’. But it increased them in faith and they said, ‘God is sufficient for us and an excellent trustee is He’ (3:173)

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

اللَّهُمَّ إنِّی أَسْلَمْتُ نَفْسِی إلَیْکَ وأَلْجَأْتُ ظَهْرِی إلَیْکَ وَفَوَّضْتُ أَمْرِی إلَیْکَ.

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

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

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

As to the words of the holy tradition,

فَتَوَکَّلْ عَلَی اللهِ بِتَفْوِیضِ ذَلِکَ إلَیْهِ.

Possibly, since tawakkul is accompanied by viewing oneself as being in charge of one’s affairs - because in tawakkul one makes God one’s wakil in an affair that he deems as pertaining to himself - the Imam (A) wished

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to lift the questioner from the station of tawakkul to that of tafwid, making him understand that God Almighty is not your substitute and deputy in regard to the charge of your affairs; rather, He is the master of His own realm and the Lord of His own kingdom (to which you and your affairs belong). In Manazil al-sai’rin, the Khwajah has also pointed out this while discussing the third degree of tawakkul.

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

الثِّقَةُ سَوَادُ عَیْنِ التَّوَکلُِّ وَنُقْطَةُ دَائِرَةِ التَّفْوِیضِ وَسُوَیْدَاءُ قَلْبِ التَّسْلِیمِ.

Thiqah is the eye of tawakkul, the (moving) point of the circle of tafwid, and the inmost heart of taslim (surrender).(1)

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

ثِقْ فِیهَا وَفِی غَیْرِهَا.

Fourteenth Hadith: Fear of God


بِسَنَدی المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ ثِقَةِ الإسْلامِ وَعِمَادِ المُسْلِمِینَ، عَنْ عِدَّةٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ حَدِیدٍ، عَنْ مَنْصُورِ بْنِ یُونُسَ، عَنِ الحَارِثِ بْنِ المُغِیرَةِ أوْ أَبِیهِ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قُلْتُ لَهُ: مَا کَانَ فِی وَصِیَّةِ لُقْمَانَ؟ قَالَ: کَانَ فِیهَا الأعَاجِیبُ. وَکَانَ أَعْجَبَ ما کَانَ فِیهَا أَنْ قَالَ لإبْنِهِ: خَفِ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ خِیفَةً لَوْ جِئْتَهُ بِبِرِّ الثَّقَلَیْنِ لَعَذَّبَکَ. وَارْجُ اللهَ رَجَاءً لَوْ جِئْتَهُ بِذُنُوبِ الثَّقَلَیْنِ لَرَحِمَکَ. ثُمَّ قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ:

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1- Khwajah ‘Abd Allah al-’Ansari, Manazil al-sa’irin.

کَانَ أَبِی یَقُولُ: إِنَّهُ لَیْسَ مِنْ عَبْدٍ مُؤْمِنٍ إلا [و] فِی قَلْبِهِ نُورَانِ: نُورُ خِیفَةٍ وُنُورُ رَجَاءٍ، لَوْ وُزِنَ هَذَا لَمْ یَزَدْ عَلَی هَذَا وَلَوْ وُزِنَ هَذَا لَمْ یَزَدْ عَلَی هَذَا.

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


According to al-Jawhari in his al-Sihah, a’ajib is the plural of u’jubah, in the same way as ahadith is the plural of uhduthah. Some lexicographers state

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

that u’jubah is something amazing, either on account of its beauty or its ugliness, and the former (i.e. beauty) is meant in this tradition. It appears that the word primarily has the specific sense of something of striking beauty, and is used in a wider sense, parasitically, Birr is the opposite of ‘uquq, disobedience. فُلانٌ یَبَرُّ خَالِقَهُ means so and so is obedient to his Creator, as pointed out by al-Jawhari. ‘Thaqalan’ means mankind and the Jinn.

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

Between Hope And Fear

Let it be known to you that the man cognizant of the realities and the relationship between possible existents (mumkin al-wujud) and the Necessary Being (wajib al-wujud), exalted and sublime is He, holds a two-sided viewpoint: The first thing he has in view is the essential defectiveness of his own, of all possible beings, and the wretchedness of the entire universe.

Through direct experience or through indirect knowledge he discovers that the entire existence of a possible being is immersed in lowliness and want, drowned in the dark ocean of possibility, poverty and need, always and for

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ever. The possible existents have nothing of their own: they are utterly insignificant, thoroughly devoid of majesty, and absolutely defective. Rather, none of these expressions can adequately express their utter neediness, and we use them for lack of proper words. Otherwise, defectiveness, poverty and need are a part of the quality of thingness. None of the possible beings and none of tile creatures has anything that is its own.

Accordingly, even if a man were to accomplish all the worships, follow all the Divine teachings and obey the Holy Lord most perfectly and meticulously, he has nothing but shame, humiliation and fear to his share. What obedience can lie offer? what worship? from whom? and to whom? Are not all the attributes of excellence His own, without the possible having any share whatsoever therein? Rather when the possible being approaches the threshold of these excellences, in order to praise God Almighty, it throws the shadow of its defectiveness on His praise and soils the purity and infinitude of His holy Names. It is regarding this station (of finitude and possibility vis-a-vis the infinitude of the Necessary Being) that He declares:

﴿مَا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنْ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ سَیِّئَةٍ فَمِنْ نَفْسِکَ.﴾

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

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

﴿قُلْ کُلٌّ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ.﴾

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

And it is about. these stations that

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the poet (Hafiz) says:

پیر گفت خطا بر قلم صنع نرفت آفرین بر نظر پاک خطا پوشش باد

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

Praised be the immaculate eye that conceals all defects!

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

In the other view, he beholds the Perfection of the Necessary Being, the expanse of His mercy, compassion and love. Therein, he sees the unlimited vastness of His various bounties and favors whose number is beyond limit and number and which are bestowed without any prior capacity or deservedness (on the recipient’s part).

He has opened the doors of favor and bounty on His creatures without any deservedness. The initiative lies with His bounteousness, which precedes request and demand. The Imam Sayyid al-Sajidin Zayn al-Abidin (A) in the prayers of al-Sahifat al-Kamilah and his other prayers has recurrently pointed out this matter.

This view gives strength to his hope, making him hopeful of Divine mercy. He sees his magnanimous Lord Whose bequests are purely due to His care and compassion, the Lord of all kings Who bestows without asking and prior to the receiver’s capacity. All the intellects fall short in knowing even an iota of His nobility. The disobedience of the sinners cots not cause any disturbance iii the order of Isis vast dominion, and the obedience of the obedient does

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not add anything to it.

Rather, the guidance of the Holiest Essence to the paths of obedience, anti. His prohibition of disobedience, ate for the sake of the creatures, in order that they may attain to His beneficence, His vast mercy and bounty, that they may attain the stations of perfection and higher degrees of freedom from defect, deformity and ugliness. Hence, should it be that when tomorrow when we enter the court of the Almighty and stand in the presence of His compassion and mercy, we should be able to say: “O God, Who clothed us with the robes of existence and provided us all the means of our life and comfort, over and above the perception of perceivers, Who showed to us all the paths of guidance - all these of Your favors were for our own good and in order to benefit us further from the vast store of Your love and bounty.

Now that we stand in Your glorious and magnanimous presence, we have come with the sins of the two worlds. Yet the sins of the sinners have not created any defect in the order of Your dominion, nor diminished the infinitude of Your mercy. What will You have for this handful of dust, that has no significance in front of Your greatness, except pity and compassion? Can anything except pity and compassion be hoped from You, O Lord?”

Hence, man should always be moving back and forth between these two views: neither should he ever

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close his eyes to his defects and shortcomings in fulfilling the duties of creaturehood, nor should he ever take his eyes off the expansive and all-encompassing mercy, love and compassion of God Almighty.

Stages And Degrees Of Fear

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

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

مَا عَرِفْنَاکَ حَقَّ مَعْرِفَتِکَ وَلا عَبَدْنَاکَ حَقَّ عِبَادَتِکَ.

We did not know You as You deserve to be known. We did not worship You as You deserve to be worshipped.(1)

The second sentence is intended to explain the cause of what is

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1- Safinat al-Bihar, II, 180.

stated in the first one. And he (S) said:

أَنْتَ کَمَا أَثْنَیْتَ عَلَی نَفْسِکَ.

You are as You have praised Yourself.(1)

Therefore, imperfection is essential to possible being and Absolute Sublimity belongs exclusively to the Sacred Essence of the Almighty. And since the creatures are unable to attain to the praise and worship of the Sacred Essence without the knowledge and worship of God, none of them can attain to the degrees of perfection and the stations of the Hereafter (as has been demonstrated in its own place for the knowers of the Hereafter, and in regard to which the common people are oblivious, as they consider the Hereafterly stations as extravagances and the like, and regarding their fancies it must be said,

وَتَعَالَی اللهُ عَنْ ذَلِکَ عُلُوّاً کَبِیراً.

‘High indeed is He exalted above that (they say)’!), God Almighty, with His expansive favor and His all-inclusive compassion, opened a door of His mercy upon them, out of His love, of the teachings regarding the hidden and of revelation and inspiration, through His angels and prophets. That is the door of worship (‘ibadah) and knowledge (ma’rifah).

He, thus, indicated the paths of worship to His servants and threw open the road of knowledge to them, that they may, as far as is possible, remove their shortcomings and defects and attain to the possible degrees of perfection, that they may be guided by the light of servitude to the world of Divine magnanimity, to the domain of the spirit and the aroma, to the paradise of

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1- Safinat al-Bihar, II, 180.

His bounties, or, rather, to the good pleasure of God, which is greater than all that.

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

Thus when man attains the knowledge of this fountainhead and his heart becomes familiar with it, he confesses to his own shortcoming, and even if he is able to enter into the court of the Almighty with a record of service and worship equal to that of the worship and service of all mankind, Jinn, and angels near to God, he would still be fearful and conscious of inadequacy.

Also, the knowing servants of God and His elect friends, on whom the sacred doors of Providence have been opened and whose hearts have been illumined by the light of marifah - their hearts are so full of dread and trembling that even if all tree excellences were accessible to them, and were all the keys to the treasures of Divine knowledge be given them, and should their hearts be filled with Divine irradiation, that would not reduce their fear by an atom’s weight nor diminish the trembling of their quaking hearts. Hence- one of them says. ‘All are afraid of

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the End, and I am dreadful of the beginning.’

سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَلا حَوْلَ وَلا قُوَّةَ إلا بِاللهِ.

May glory be to God, and there is no power or might which is not by God! I seek refuge in God Almighty! God knows, these words tear a man’s heart to pieces. They make the heart melt, and take away his wits. But, alas! How negligent is man!

Another thing is that which we mentioned while expounding an earlier tradition, that all our obedience and worship are for the sake of selfish aims and motivated by self-love. In reality, it is abstinence from the world for the sake of the rewards of the Hereafter - which, nevertheless, for free men, is abstinence from the world for worldly rewards.

Hence, were we to come to our Lord with the worship of the two worlds, we would not deserve anything except expulsion from the Divine proximity. This is because, God, the Blessed and the Exalted, has invited us into His sacred proximity and love, declaring:

وَخَلَقْتُکَ لأَجْلِی.

I have created thee for Myself.

He has made the knowledge of Him the end of our creation and shown to us the paths of knowledge and servitude. Despite it, all that we are occupied with is catering to our belly and our carnal lusts, with no purpose in view except self-seeking and self-love!

Then, O wretched man, whose worship and devotion do not entitle thee to anything except expulsion and remoteness from His sanctified proximity and to His wrath and chastisement! What

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have thee to rely upon? Why, shouldn’t the fear of God’s Might unsettle you and make your heart bleed? Do you, have anything to rely upon? Do you rely upon your works and trust your deeds? If that be so, woe to you and your estimation of yourself! And woe to you for your estimation of the Master of all masters! However, should your reliance and trust be upon the bounty of your Lord, His expansive compassion and the all-inclusive love of the Sacred Essence, your reliance is indeed well placed; you have relied upon a truly reliable thing, and have sought a firm refuge.

Hope And Prayer

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

أَفَبِلِسَانِی هَذَا الکَالِّ أَشْکُرُکَ.

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

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

الکَافِِی بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أبِی

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جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: قَالَ اللهُ تَبَارَکَ وَتَعَالی: لا یَتَّکِلِ العَامِلُونَ لِی عَلَی أَعْمَالِهِمُ الَّتِی یَعْمَلُونَهَا لِثَوَابِی، فَإنَّهُمْ لَوِ إجْتَهَدُوا وَأَتْعَبُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ - أَعْمَارَهُمْ - فِی عِبَادَتِی کاَنُوا مُقَصِّرِینَ غَیْرَ بَالِغِینَ فِی عِبَادَتِهِمْ کُنْهَ عِبَادَتِی فِیمَا یَطْلِبُوُن َعِنْدِی مِنْ کَرَامَتِی وَالنَّعِیمِ فِی جَنَّاتِی وَرَفِیعِ الدَّرَجَاتِ العُلَی فِی جِوَارِی وَلَکِنْ بِرَحْمَتِی فَلْیَثِقُوا وَفَضْلِی فَلْیَرْجُوا، وَإلَی حُسْنِ الظَّنِّ بِی فَلْیَطْمَئِنُّوا، فَإنَّ رَحْمَتِی عِنْدَ ذَلِکَ تُدْرِکُهُمْ، وَمَنِّی یُبَلِّغُهُمْ رِضْوَانِی وَمَغْفِرَتِی تُلْبِسُهُمْ عَفْوِی. فَإنِّی أَنَا اللهُ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِیمُ وَبِذَلِکَ تَسَمَّیْتُ.

Al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, reports with his chain of narrators from Imam Baqir (A) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (S) said: God, the Sublime and the Blessed, said, “The workers (of deeds) for My sake should not, for My reward, trust the works they have done: for, verily, should they labor and toil for all their lives in My service and worship, they would fall short in their worship and will not attain to the reality of My service in what they seek with Me of My magnanimity and bounty, My paradise and the high stations in My proximity. Rather, they should rely upon My mercy and put hope in My favor and be contented of their good opinion (husn al-zann) of Me; for, verily, therein My mercy will reach them, My good pleasure will go forth to them, and My forgiveness shall envelop them. For, indeed, I am Allah, the Beneficent and the Merciful, and I have been named so on that account.”(1)

Contemplation, Fear And Hope

Of things that cause fear of

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1- Al-Kafi, II, 71, hadith 1.

God, is contemplation of the extremeness of Divine Might, the precision and sharpness of the path (Sirat) of the Hereafter and the perils that man has to face during the days of his life and at death, as well as the hardships of the Purgatory (barzakh) and the Resurrection and the scrutinies of the Reckoning (hisab) and the Balance (mizan). In the same way, reflection over the verses and traditions about the promises of God Almighty can bring about complete and perfect hope.

It is reported in traditions that on the Day of Resurrection God Almighty’s mercy shall be so abundant that even Satan will aspire for God’s pardon. In this world, at which God has never looked with favor, and on which since its creation His mercy has not descended (in comparison to the other worlds) except for a droplet of it, we encounter so much of the abundance of God’s mercy, bounty and care, which has enveloped everything, apparent and the invisible, that the world is a vast table of the bounties and gifts of the Almighty, so widespread that were all the world’s intellects attempt to encompass even a fragment of it, they would be unable to do so. If this is so, then what would be a world which is the house of the hospitality of the generous Lord and the abode of the expansive mercy and compassion of the All-merciful and the Compassionate? Of course, .Satan would be justified in his aspiring for His pity

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and his hoping from God’s generosity. Hence, make perfect your good opinion of Him and rely upon His grace, as He has declared:

﴿إِنَّ اللَّهَ یَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِیعًا.﴾

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

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

﴿وَرَحْمَتِی وَسِعَتْ کُلَّ شَیْءٍ.﴾

My mercy embraces all things. (7:156)

The Difference Between Hope And Delusion

However, my dear, you should be careful of distinguishing between hope and delusion, for it may be that you be a deluded man, but imagine yourself to be a man of hope. Yet it is easy to distinguish between them on the basis of their grounds. You should reflect over the state of yours that makes you regard it as hope, to see whether that state of yours has come into being as a result of your belittling of Divine commands or as a result of conviction in the all-embracing character of Divine mercy and the greatness of the Holy Essence.

Should that prove to be difficult, the distinction can be made on the basis of their effects. Should the greatness of God be imprinted on the believer’s heart and should it be content in the expansive mercy and bounty

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of His Holy Essence, he would be committed to His obedience and service, for esteem for someone great and gratitude and willingness to serve one’s benefactor are inviolable features of human nature.

Hence, should you be committed to the duties of slavehood and unsparing in your efforts to obey and worship; should you not rely on your works and consider them insignificant; should your hope rest on God’s mercy, grace and bounty; should you consider yourself entitled to every kind of blame, disfavor, reproof and wrath on account of your deeds; and should your sole reliance be the mercy and generosity of the Absolutely Magnanimous - should you be such, then you are indeed in possession of the state of hope. Then, thank God Almighty for that, and implore His Holy Essence to establish it firmly in your heart and to elevate you to a higher degree of it.

But if, God forbid, should you be one who belittles and takes lightly the commands of God, one who considers unimportant and insignificant the Words of the Holiest Essence, then rest assured that it is delusion that has appeared in your heart as a result of the guiles of Satan and your carnal self. Had you any faith in God’s greatness and His expansive mercy, its effects would have been obvious in you. A claimant whose acts are contrary to his claims is one who falsifies himself, and there are many traditions to this effect.

الکَافِی بإسْنَادِهِ عَنِ ابْنِ أبِی نَجْرانَ، عَمَّنْ ذَکَرَهُ،

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عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قُلْتُ لَهُ: قَومٌ یَعْمَلُونَ بِالمَعَاصِی وَیَقُولُونَ نَرْجُو، فَلا یَزَالُونَ کَذَلِکَ حَتّی یَأْتِیَهُمُ المَوْتُ. فَقَالَ: هَؤُلاءِ قَوْمٌ یَتَرَجَّحُونَ فِی الأَمَانِی. کَذِبُوا، لَیْسُوا بِرَاجِینَ. مَنْ رَجَا شَیْئاً طَلَبَهُ، وَمَنْ خَافَ مِنْ شَیءٍ هَرَبَ مِنْهُ.

In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni, with his chain of narrators, reports from Imam al Sadiq (A) on the authority of an unnamed narrator who narrated it to Ibn Abi Najran, that he said to the Imam (A): “There are some people who commit sins and say we are hopeful. They remain in this condition until death comes to them.” The Imam said, “They are a people who have been swept away by false hopes. They lie, they are not the hopeful; for verily, one who has hope of something pursues it, and one who fears something flees from it.”(1)

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

الکَافِی بإسْنَادِهِ عَنِ الحَسَنِ بْنِ أَبِی سَارَةَ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: لا یَکُونُ المُؤْمِنُ مُؤْمِناً حَتَّی یَکُونَ خَائِفاً رَاجِیاً، وَلا یَکُونُ خَائِفاً رَاجِیاً حَتَّی یَکُونَ عَاِملاً لِمَا یَخَافُ وَیَرْجُو.

(Al-Kulayni), with his chain of narrators reports from al-Husayn ibn Abi Sarah that he said: I heard Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) say: “A believer is not but fearful and hopeful, and he is not (truly) fearful and hopeful unless he responds in action in regard to that which he fears and hopes.”(2)

Some have said that the person who is hopeful without doing anything is like the one who awaits the result without preparing its needed

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1- Al-Kafi, II, 68, hadith 5.
2- Al-Kafi, II, 71, hadith 11, from al-Hasan ibn Sarah.

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

Therefore, the genuine kind of hope is that man should first prepare all the means that are available to him and have been provided to him by the grace of God Almighty, Who has also guided him regarding the paths of right and corrupt conduct and commanded him to make ready those means, and only then he should wait and hope that God, with His favor, will provide the remaining means over which he has no power, and remove the hindrances and perils from his path.

Hence, when the devotee has cleared the field of his heart of the thorns of moral vices and of the stones, rocks and salinity of sins, sowing therein the seeds of good works and watering it with the clear waters of beneficial knowledge and sincere faith and guarded his field against the pests of pride (‘ujb) and ostentation (riya’), which like weeds hinder the wholesome growth of the harvest, then he may sit and wait for God’s grace, hoping that the

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Almighty may keep him firm and on the straight path until the last moment of his life. This is the desired and genuine kind of hope, as declared by God Almighty:

﴿إِنَّ الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِینَ هَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا فِی سَبِیلِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِکَ یَرْجُونَ رَحْمَةَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِیمٌ.﴾

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

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

المُؤْمِنُ بَیْنَ مَخَافَتَیْنِ: ذَنْبٍ قَدْ مَضَی لا یَدْرِی مَا صَنَعَ اللهُ فِیهِ وَعُمُرٍ قَدْ بَقِیَ لا یَدْرِی مَا یَکْتَسِبُ فِیهِ مِنَ المَهَالِکِ. فَهُوَ لا یُصْبِحُ إلا خَائِفاً وَلا یُصْلِحُهُ إلا الخَوْفُ.

The believer stands between two dreadful things: the past sins, regarding which he does not know what God will do (with

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him), and the remainder of his life, regarding which he does not know what mortal sins he will commit therein. So he does not wake up except in a state of dread, and nothing keeps him righteous except fear.(1)

The same thing is stated in the sermon of the Noble Messenger (S) reported in a hadith of Imam al-Sadiq (A) in al-Kafi.(2) The gist of the matter is that the self is in a state of utter imperfection and shortcoming, and God at the height of greatness, glory, all-embracing mercifulness and grace, and the devotee is always in a median state of fear and hope between these two views. And since the Divine attributes of glory and perfection cast their light simultaneously on the wayfarer’s heart, none of the two, fear or hope, exceeds the other.

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

And some have said that fear is not

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1- Al-Kafi, hadith 12.
2- Al-Kafi, hadith 2.

a moral or intellectual merit in the Hereafter, and that its benefit is limited to the world, which is the abode of works and; deeds, for inducing obedience and service and for restraining men from sin. It is of no use after this world is left behind. On the other hand, hope rill never end and shall endure in the Hereafter, for the more of God’s beneficence man receives, the more does he aspire to ‘His grace and bounty, because the stores of God’s mercy axe inexhaustible. Hence, fear comes to an end, while hope continues.

The Opinion Of Al-Majlisi

The great muhaddith al-’Allamah al-Majlisi (M) says, “The truth is that as long as the devotee is in the abode of duty, i.e. this world, he is bound to have both fear and hope. However, after his witnessing of the matters of the Hereafter, one of them, of necessity, must surpass the other.”

This writer says: That which has been said regarding the dominance of fear or hope in the Hereafter does not agree with the above discussion about the meaning of hope and fear. Even if supposedly true, it would apply only to those of middle stations, for the state of the elect and the awliya’ is different from that; for their witnessing of the Divine majesty and glory and the irradiations (tajilliyat) of the Names of love and beauty, which are attained in the heart, are not effaced by the witnessing of the matters of the Hereafter; as a result their fear and hope

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do not surpass each other.

Rather, the effects of Divine majesty and glory and the irradiations of His beauty and love are greater in the world of the Hereafter, and the awe resulting from God’s majesty is one of the spiritual pleasures, which on reflection will not be found to be contrary to the noble verse:

﴿أَلَا إِنَّ أَوْلِیَاءَ اللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَیْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ یَحْزَنُونَ.﴾

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

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

Fifteenth Hadith: The Believer’s Trials And Tribulations


بِسَنَدی المُتَّصِلِ إِلی مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ رِضْوَانُ اللهِ عَلَیْهِ، عَنْ عَلِیٍّ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِیمَ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنِ ابْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ، عَنْ سُمَاعَةَ، عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إنَّ فِی کِتَابِ عَلِیٍّ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ أنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ بَلاءً النَّبِیُّونَ، ثُمَّ الوَصِیُّونَ، ثُمَّ الأمْثَلَ فَالأمْثَلَ. وَإنَّمَا یُبْتَلی المُؤْمِنُ عَلَی قَدْرِ أَعْمَالِهِ الحَسَنَةِ، فَمَنْ صَحَّ دِینُهُ وَحَسُنَ عَمَلُهُ اشْتَدَّ بَلاؤُهُ، وَذَلِکَ أنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لَمْ یَجْعَلِ الدُّنْیَا ثَوَاباً لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلا عُقُوبَةً لِکَافِرٍ، وَمَنْ سَخُفَ دِینُهُ وَضَعُفَ عَمَلُهُ قَلَّ بَلاؤُهُ، وَإنَّ البَلاءَ أَسْرَعُ إلَی المُؤْمِنِ التَّقِیِّ مِنَ المَطَرِ إلَی قَرَارِ الأرْضِ.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni (R) from ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim, from his father, from Ibn Mahbub, from

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Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) that he (A) said: “Verily, it is mentioned in the Book of ‘Ali that of all mankind the prophets undergo the severest of trials, and after them the awsiya’, and after them the elect to the extent of their nobility. Indeed, the believer undergoes trial in proportion to his good deeds. So one whose faith is sound and whose deeds are good, his trials are also more severe. That is indeed because God Almighty did not make this world a place for rewarding the believer and punishing the unbeliever. And one whose faith is feeble and whose (good) deeds are few faces fewer tribulations. Verily, tribulations hasten towards the believer with greater speed than rainwater towards the earth’s depths.”(1)


Some have said by nas (people, mankind) in this noble tradition and its like are meant perfect human beings (kamilun) such as the prophets and the awsiya’, and that in reality it is they who are the nas, whereas other people are lil-nas (for the people), as mentioned in some traditions.

However, that interpretation does not apply here and it seems proper that mankind and people in general should have been meant in this place. This is evident from the other traditions of this chapter of al-Kafi, and if it has been said in some traditions that by nas are meant the kamilun, it does not mean that the word has this meaning in every place that it occurs. Also, bala’ means trial, test and examination, and it

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

applies to the good as well as the bad among people, and the lexicographers have stated this expressly. Al-Jawhari in al-Sihah says in this regard:

وَالبَلاءُ الإخْتِبَارُ یَکُونُ بِالشَّرِّ وَالخَیْرِ. یُقاَلُ: أَبْلاهُ اللهُ بَلاءً حَسَناً. وَأَبْلَیْتُهُ مَعْرُوفاً.

And God Almighty’ says:

﴿وَلِیُبْلِیَ الْمُؤْمِنِینَ مِنْهُ بَلَاءً حَسَنًا.﴾

And that He may try the believers with a fair trial. (8:17)

All that with which God, to Whom belongs Glory and Majesty, tries His servants is bala’ and ibtila’, whether it is one of the diseases and ailments, or adversities like poverty, humiliation and loss of worldly fortunes, or a thing of an opposite kind such as acquisition of power and glory, wealth, riches, high status, honor, and the like. However, whenever bala’, baliyyah or ibtila’ and the like are mentioned, it is the former kind of things that are meant. Amthal means ‘nobler and better’:

یُقَالُ: هَذَا أَمْثَلُ مِنْ هَذَا. أَیْ أَفْضَلَ وَأَدْنَی إلَی الخَیْرِ.

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

‘Sukhf’ means ‘feebleness of the rational faculty’ or ‘foolishness’, as mentioned by al-Sihah, and other lexicographical works. Qarar means ‘resting place,’ as mentioned in

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the dictionaries:

القَرَارُ وَالقَرَارَةُ: مَا قَرَّ فِیهِ والمُطْمَئِنُّ مِنَ الأَرْضِ.

The apology means that in the same way as the earth is the resting place where rainwater comes to rest and abide, the believer is the resting place of sufferings and tribulations, which rush toward him, come to rest in him, and do not depart from him. God willing, we will mention that which is needed for the exposition of this noble tradition in the course of a few sections.

The Meaning Of Trial

Let it be known to you that the human souls exist at a level of potentiality from the beginning of their origin, their attachment to the bodies, and their descent to the realm of corporeal existence (mulk), in respect of all things, including knowledge, good and evil traits, and all kinds of perceptive and behavioral faculties. Gradually they move from potentiality to actuality with the grace of God, the Almighty and the Sublime. At first, weak impressions related to particulars (as opposed to universals) emerge in the soul, such as impressions of touch and other outward senses, moving from the lower to the higher.

Following that, the inward perceptions also arise in it. However, all its faculties exist only at a level of potentiality, and they do not grow without proper stimulation. For instance, if the base kind of faculties come to dominate it, it becomes disposed to ugliness and evil, for its inner powers, such as shahwah (lust), ghadhab (anger), etc., impel it towards sin, licentiousness, aggression and tyranny. After following them

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for some time it grows into a strange monster and a highly grotesque devil.

However, since the grace and mercy of God Almighty have been accompanying the Children of Adam since eternity, He bestowed upon them two educators and teachers which are like two wings with which they can fly from the depths of ignorance, defectiveness, ugliness and wretchedness to the heights of knowledge, perfection; beauty and felicity, and deliver themselves from the narrow valley of nature to reach the expansive and open horizons of the realms of the spirit (malakut). The first of these is the faculty of intellect and discernment, which is the inner teacher; and the second, the outward teacher, is represented by the prophets and the divine guides who shove the path of felicity as distinct from the ways of wretchedness.

None of these two can singly achieve this end without the other. For the human intellect by itself can neither identify the paths of felicity and wretchedness nor find the way to the hidden world and the realm of Hereafterly existence. Similarly, the guidance of the prophets cannot be effective without the exercise of the discerning faculties of the intellect.

Thus God, the Beneficent and the Sublime, gave them these two educators so that through them all the potentialities and hidden faculties and capacities, latent in the human soul, should be realized and actualized. God Almighty blessed them with these two great bounties in order to try and test human beings, for it is through these bounties

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that individual human beings are separated into the felicitous and the wretched, the obedient and the rebellious, the perfect and the defective. And so the Great Wali of God said:

وَالَّذِی بَعَثَهُ بِالحَقِّ، لَتُبَلْبَلُنَّ بَلْبَلَةً وَلَتُغَرْبَلُنَّ غَرْبَلَةً.

And by Him Who sent him (the Prophet (S)) with the Truth, you shall indeed be mixed and intermingled and then separated in the sieve (of Divine trial and tribulation)?(1)

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

قَالَ: لا بُدَّ لِلنَّاسِ مِنْ أنْ یُمَحَّصُوا وَیُمَیَّزُوا وَیُغَرْبَلُوا وَیُسْتَخْرَجَ فِی الغِرْبَالِ خَلْقٌ کَثِیرٌ.

It is inevitable that mankind should be purified, separated and sieved so that a great number is excluded by the sieve.(2)

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

قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: یَا مَنْصُورُ إنَّ هَذَا الأَمْرَ لا یَأْتِیکُمْ إلا بَعْدَ إِیَاسٍ وَلا واللهِ حَتَّی تُمَیَّزُوا وَلا وَاللهِ حَتَّی تُمَحَّصُوا وَلا وَاللهِ حَتَّی یَشْقَی مَنْ یَشْقَی وَیَسْعَدُ مَنْ یَسْعَدُ.

Imam al-Sadiq (A) said, “O Mansur! Indeed this affair (i.e. the appearance of al-Mahdi (A)) will not come to you except after despair and not, by God, until you have been separated, and not, by God, until you have been purified, and not, by God, until the wretched attain wretchedness and the felicitous attain felicity.”(3)

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

یُخْلَصُونَ کَمَا یُخْلَصُ الذَّهَبُ.

You shall be purified in the way gold is purified.(4)

In al-Kafi, bab al-’ibtila’ wa al-’ikhtibar, the following tradition is

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1- Nahj al-balaghah, Khutbah No.16.
2- Usul al-Kafi, vol II, p.370, hadith No.2.
3- Usul al-Kafi, vol II, p.370, hadith No.2.
4- Usul al-Kafi, hadith No.4:

reported with isnad from Imam al-Sadiq (A):

قَالَ: مَا مِنْ قَبْضٍ وَلا بَسْطٍ إلا وَللهِ فِیهِ مَشِیئَةٌ وَقَضَاءٌُ وَابْتِلاءٌ.

He said, “There is no qabd (extension) and bast (contraction) except that in it there is for God a purpose, a decree, and a trial.”(1)

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

إنَّهُ لَیْسَ شَیْءٌ فِیهِ قَبْضٌ أَوْ بَسْطٌ مِمَّا أَمَرَ اللهُ بِهِ أَوْ نَهَی عَنْهُ إلا وَفِیهِ للهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ ابْتَلاءٌ وَقَضَاءٌ.

Indeed there is no qabd and bast in that which God has commanded or forbidden except that there is in it from God a trial and a decree?(2)

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

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

In any case, the result of this trial and examination

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. I, p.152.
2- Usul al-Kafi, vol. I, p.152.

is the separation of the felicitous from the wretched. In the course of it the proof (hujjah) of God is established against the creatures. Thereafter, their life, felicity and salvation, or their destruction and damnation occurs after the establishment of the proof and testimony (bayyinah), and there remains no room for objection for anyone. One who attains felicity and eternal life does so through Divine succor and guidance, for God has bestowed all the means of attaining them.

Also, one who earns wretchedness and falls into destruction, following Satan and his carnal self, his wretchedness and damnation are also earned by him out of his own free will, because he does so despite the availability of all the means of guidance and felicity. The conclusive proof of God is established against him and there is no room for any pretext. Hence the Qur’an says:

﴿لَهَا مَا کَسَبَتْ وَعَلَیْهَا مَا اکْتَسَبَتْ.﴾

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

The Prophets And Divine Trial

It was mentioned earlier that every act of the human being, or rather every event that occurs in the realm of the body and is related to the soul’s perceptions, leaves a kind of impression in the self. This is true of both good and evil deeds (whose impression upon the soul is mentioned in traditions as the appearance of a ‘white dot’ or a ‘black dot’ respectively) as well as of pleasures and pains.

For instance, every experience of pleasure, derived either from food,

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drink, sex or something else, leaves an impression upon the soul and creates or increases the love and attachment for that kind of, pleasure in the soul. The more that one plunges into such pleasures and lusts, the greater becomes the self’s love and attachment for this world and its reliance upon it. Thus the self is nourished with the love of the world and trained in accordance with it.

The greater the sensual pleasures that it derives, the stronger become the roots of this love; and the more the available means of comfort and luxury, the sturdier becomes the tree of attachment to the world. And the. more the soul’s attention is directed towards the world, the greater is proportionately its negligence toward God and the world of the Hereafter. Thus when this reliance upon the world becomes complete, the soul assumes a worldly and materialistic form, and the absence of attention towards God Almighty and the ‘realm of His munificence and bounty also becomes total and complete. It is about such a soul that, the Qur’an says:

﴿أَخْلَدَ إِلَی الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ.﴾

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

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

On the contrary, if one has a bad and painful experience of something,

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

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

Moreover, it is evident that all the spiritual, moral and behavioral evils arise from the love of the world and negligence of God Almighty and the Hereafter. The love of the world is the source of all sins, in the same way as the love of God, the aspiration for the eternal abode of His bounty, the renunciation of the world and absence of

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reliance upon and trust in its adornments are the source of all spiritual cures and moral and behavioral reform.

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

عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: إنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لَیَتَعَاهَدُ المُؤْمِنَ بِالبَلاءِ کَمَا یَتَعَاهَدُ الرَّجُلُ أَهْلَهُ بِالهَدِیَّةِ مِنَ الغَیْبَةِ وَیَحْمِیهِ الدُّنْیَا کَمَا یَحْمِی الطَّبِیبُ المَرِیضَ.

Imam al-Baqir (A) said “Verily, God Almighty treats the believer with tribulations in the same way as a man treats his family with gifts after an absence (upon a journey), and He restrains him from the world in the same way as the physician prescribes restraints for the sick man.”(1)

The same thing is said in another hadith, and one should not imagine that God’s love and the great care of His Sacred Essence for some people is - God be our refuge - extravagant and pointless. Rather, with every step that a faithful servant of

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p.255, hadith No.17.

God takes towards Him, God’s grace turns towards him and the Almighty moves closer to him. The similitude of the degrees of faith and the availability of the means of Divine succor is that of a man moving with a lamp in darkness; with every step that he takes forward, some more of the path in front of him is illuminated, which allows him to take another step forward. With every step that a man takes forward on the path of the Hereafter, that path appears clearer to him and God’s grace upon him increases, preparing the means of attention towards the world of Divine proximity and of antipathy towards the world of separation and distance.

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

God’s Remembrance

Another point relating to the severity of the tribulations of the elect among God’s servants is that they are made to remember God on account of these adversities and tribulations and to pray and lament in front of His Sacred Essence. This makes them accustomed to remember Him and keep their thoughts busy with Him. It is natural for human

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beings to seek and learn upon what they think is a source of support in times of ‘adversity. In times of comfort and welfare they forget and neglect it. And since the elect know no source of support other than God, their attention turns towards Him, they putting their sole reliance in His sacred station, and God Almighty, also, with the love that He has for them, prepares the means of that undivided attention and reliance.

However, this, as well as the foregoing point, is not true of the prophets and the perfect awliya’, for their station is too high in sanctity and their heart too firm in faith for them to develop attachment for worldly things on account of such things (as comfort and welfare) or for them to waver in their sole reliance upon God. This may be so because the prophets and the perfect awliya’ have, through their inward light and spiritual experience, ascertained that God Almighty has no regard for this world and its adornments and that everything therein is base and lowly in the eyes of His Sacred Essence, and for this reason they have preferred poverty to wealth, tribulation to comfort and ease, and adversity to that which is unlike it. Several noble traditions also support this view.

It is mentioned in the hadith that Gabriel brought the key of the earth’s treasures to the Seal of the Prophets (S) and said to him (S) that should he (S) accept it, nothing would diminish from

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his (S) Hereafterly stations. But the Prophet (S) did not accept it for the sake of humility before God Almighty and chose poverty.

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

إنَّ الکَافِرَ لَیَهُونُ عَلَی اللهِ حَتَّی لَوْ سَأَلَهُ الدُّنْیَا بِمَا فِیهَا أَعْطَاهُ ذَلِکَ.

Indeed God has so little regard for the unbeliever that should he ask of Him the world and that which is in it, He would give that to him.(1)

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

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

قَالَ: إنَّهُ لَیَکُونُ لِلْعَبْدِ مَنْزِلَةٌ عِنْدَ اللهِ فَمَا یَنَالهََُا إلا بِإحْدَی خِصْلَتَیْنِ؛ إمَّا بِذَهَابِ مَالِهِ أوْ بِبَلِیَّةٍ فِی جَسَدِهِ.

Verily, the servant has certain

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p.255, hadith No.17.

stations near God that cannot be realized without one of these two attributes: either the loss of his wealth or affliction in his body.(1)

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

إنَّ عَظِیمَ الأَجْرِ لَمَعَ عَظِیمِ البَلاءِ. وَمَا أَحَبَّ اللهُ قَوْماً إلا ابْتَلاهُمْ.

The greatness of man’s reward goes with the greatness of suffering, and God did not love a people but that He subjected them to suffering.(2)

There are many traditions containing this theme.

The Prophets’ Suffering

The great muhaddith al-Majlisi (M) says:

These traditions relating to the tribulations of the prophets, which have been narrated both through Sunni and Shi’i chains of transmission (turuq), clearly indicate that the prophets and the awliya’ differ from others in respect of ailments and bodily afflictions. Rather, they have a greater right than others to suffer on account of their great reward which is responsible for the loftiness of their stations. And this suffering is not only not contrary

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p.255.
2- Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p.255.

to their station, it even causes the confirmation of their affair. Should they not undergo afflictions, despite the manifestation of miracles and extraordinary things at their hands, people might say such things about them as the Christians did about their prophet. This explanation is also mentioned in traditions.

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

This writer says: The station of prophethood is subject to spiritual levels and excellences and has no relation to corporeality. Hence physical diseases and defects do no harm to the spiritual station of the prophets and affliction with abhorrent diseases diminishes nothing from the sublimity and greatness of their station, although they may not contribute in a way of confirmation to their (already established) excellences and degrees of sublimity. But that which these two researchers have said is also not devoid of validity. This is because the common people cannot make a distinction between the two stations (of spirituality and corporeality) and imagine that physical defectiveness is related or caused by spiritual defectiveness.

Hence they consider some defects as being contrary to the high

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and great station of the prophets. Hence Divine grace dictates that the prophets who are messengers and bringers of Divine Shari’ah should not be afflicted with such diseases as are considered disgusting and abominable by the people. Therefore, the absence of this kind of affliction is not because it is harmful to the station of prophethood, but for the sake of maximizing the effectiveness of the prophetic mission of communicating the Divine teachings (tabligh). Hence there is nothing wrong if some prophets without a Shari’ah, great awliya’ and the faithful are afflicted with this kind of afflictions, as in the case of Hadrat Ayyub (Job) and Habib al-Najjar. There are many traditions concerning the affliction of Hadrat Ayyub (A), of which are the following two:

رُوِیَ فِی تَفْسِیرِ عَلِیِّ بْنِ إبْرَاهِیمَ عَنْ أبِی بَصِیرٍ عَنْ أبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ فِی حَدِیثٍ طَوِیلٍ، قَالَ: فَسَلَّطَهُ عَلَی بَدَنِهِ مَا خَلا عَقْلَهُ وَعَیْنَهُ فَنَفَخَ فِیهِ إبْلِیسُ فَصَارَ قَرْحَةً وَاحِدَةً مِنْ قَرْنِهِ إلَی قَدَمِهِ. فَبَقِیَ فِی ذَلِکَ دَهْراً طَوِیلاً یَحْمِدُ اللهَ وَیَشْکُرُهُ حَتَّی وَقَعَ فِی بَدَنِهِ الدُّودُ. وَکَانَتْ تَخْرُجُ مِنْ بَدَنِهِ فَیَرُّدَهَا وَیَقُولُ لَهَا ارْجِعِی إلَی مَوْضِعِکِ الَّذِی خَلَقَکِ اللهُ مِنْهُ. وَنَتُنَ حَتَّی أَخْرَجَهُ أهْلُ القَرْیَةِ مِنَ القَرْیَةِ وَأَلْقَوْهُ فِی المَزْبَلَةِ خَارِجَ القَرْیَةِ.

‘Ali ibn Ibrahim in a long tradition narrates on the authority of Abu Basir that Imam al-Sadiq (A) said, “Then his whole body, excepting his, intellect and his eyes, was subjected to the disease. Then Iblis blew upon it and it became a single wound extending from his head to feet. He (Job)

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remained for a period in that condition, praising and thanking God, until it became infested with worms. Whenever a worm fell off from his body, he would put it back, saying to it, “Return to your place, from where God created you.” And it began to stench until his townsfolk expelled him from his town and his food came from the garbage thrown outside the town.”

فِی الکَافِی بإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ أبِی بَصِیرٍ، عَنْ أبِی عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قُلْتُ لَهُ: ﴿فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ الشَّیْطَانِ الرَّجِیمِ. إِنَّهُ لَیْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَی الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَی رَبِّهِمْ یَتَوَکَّلُونَ.﴾ فَقَالَ: یَا أَبَا مُحَمَّدٍ؛ یُسَلَّطُ وَاللهِ مِنَ المُؤْمِنِ عَلَی بَدَنِهِ وَلا یُسَلَّطُ عَلَی دِینِهِ. قَدْ سُلِّطَ عَلَی أَیُّوبَ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ فَشَوَّهَ خَلْقَهُ وَلَمْ یُسَلَّطْ عَلَی دِینِهِ وَقَدْ یُسَلَّطُ مِنَ المُؤْمِنِینَ عَلَی أَبْدَانِهِمْ وَلا یُسَلَّطُ عَلَی دِینِهِمْ.

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

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over their faith.”

بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ نَاجِیَةٍ قَالَ: قُلْتُ لأَبِی جَعْفَرٍ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: إنَّ المُغِیرَةَ یَقُولُ: إنَّ المُؤْمِنَ لا یُبْتَلَی بِالجُذَامِ وَلا بِالبَرَصِ وَلا بِکَذَا وَلا بِکَذَا؟ فَقَالَ: إنْ کَانَ لَغَافِلاً عَنْ صَاحِبِ یَاسِینَ. إنَّهُ کَانَ مُکَنَّعاً. ثُمَّ رَدَّ أَصَابِعَهُ فَقَالَ: کَأَنِّی أَنْظُرُ إلَی تَکْنِیعِهِ أَتَاهُمْ فَأَنْذَرَهُمْ، ثُمَّ عَادَ إلَیْهِمْ مِنَ الغَدِ فَقَتَلُوهُ. ثُمَّ قَالَ: إنَّ المُؤْمِنَ یُبْتَلَی بِکُلِّ بَلِیَّةٍ وَیَمُوتُ بِکُلِّ مِیتَةٍ إلا أنَّهُ لا یُقْتُلُ نَفْسَهُ.

Najiyah says, “I said to Abu Ja’far (A) that al-Mughirah says that a believer is never afflicted with leprosy, leukoderma and such other ailments (is that true?) The Imam replied, ‘Didn’t he know that the Sahib Ya Sin (Habib al-Najjar, the man mentioned in Surat Ya Sin) was mutilated (mukanna’)?’ He (A) closed his fingers and said, ‘It is as if I see him go to his people in his mutilated state (takannu’) to warn them and come back the next day, when they killed him.’ Then he added, ‘Verily, the believer suffers all kinds of afflictions and dies in all manners of dying except suicide.’ “(1)

Sahib Ya Sin is Habib al-Najjar and takannu’ (the word is with nun in most of the manuscripts), according to al-Majlisi, means shortening and mutilation. He adds that it was probably leprosy which had resulted in the shortening of his fingers. However, this, as well as many other ahadith, indicate that the believers and prophets are sometimes afflicted with abominable diseases on account of some higher expediency, although there are some other traditions which negate the disfigurement of Hadrat

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1- Usul al-Kafi, vol. II, p.255.

Ayyub’s body and its petrifaction, and not much benefit lies in discussing them further with a view to affecting a reconciliation. On the whole, these kind of diseases do no harm to the condition of believers and do not diminish anything from the station of the prophets (A) rather, they lead to the elevation of their station, and God Almighty knows best the truth.

The World Is Not A Place Of Reward Or Punishment

Let it be known to you that this world, due to its defective, feeble and weak nature, is neither the abode of the reward of God Almighty nor the place of His chastisement and punishment. This is so because the abode of Divine munificence is a realm whose bounties are pure, unadulterated with torment, and its comforts are not mixed with pain and grief. Such bounties are not possible in this world, which is an abode where contradictories throng together and each of whose bounties is mixed with numerous kinds of pains, hardships and torments.

Rather, as the philosophers have said, pleasure in this world lies in avoiding pain. It may be said that even its pleasures cause pain and every one of its pleasures is followed by pain and hardship. Rather, the very material of this world lacks the capacity to accept absolute goodness and unadulterated bounty. In the same way, its pains and hardships, torments and punishments are also mixed; each of its pains and hardships carries within itself some goodness and bounty, and none of its afflictions and adversities is unmixed.

The very material

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of this world lacks the capacity to accept pure, absolute punishment, whereas the abode of Divine chastisement is a place where punishment is pure and absolute; its pains and afflictions are not like those of this world, which while they afflict one member of the body are absent from the other members. While the healthy members are in comfort and ease, the afflicted member suffers pain and agony. The noble tradition partly refers to what we have stated here when it says:

وَذَلِکَ أنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لَمْ یَجْعَلِ الدُّنْیَا ثَوَاباً لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلا عُقُوبَةً لِکَافِرٍ.

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

Those who expect that God Almighty would immediately get hold of one who commits some sin or indecency in this world or perpetrates some injustice or aggression against someone, and cut his hand off and expunge him from the realm of existence, are unaware that their expectation is contrary to this world’s order and opposed to God’s wont and sunnah.

Here is the place of trial and the zone of the separation of the wretched from the felicitous and the sinful from the obedient. Here

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is the realm of the manifestation of deeds, not the abode of the emergence of the results of personal deeds and qualities. If occasionally God Almighty does take hold of an oppressor, it may be said that it is due to the Almighty’s mercy for that oppressor (for it stops him from sinning further). For, when God Almighty leaves the sinful and the tyrants to themselves, His wrath takes the form of istidraj, the gradual seizing.

Hence, God Almighty declares:

﴿سَنَسْتَدْرِجُهُمْ مِنْ حَیْثُ لَا یَعْلَمُونَ. وَأُمْلِی لَهُمْ إِنَّ کَیْدِی مَتِینٌ.﴾

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

And He also says:

﴿وَلَا یَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِینَ کَفَرُوا أَنَّمَا نُمْلِی لَهُمْ خَیْرٌ لِأَنْفُسِهِمْ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِی لَهُمْ لِیَزْدَادُوا إِثْمًا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِینٌ.﴾

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

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

إذَا أَحْدَثَ العَبْدُ ذَنْباً جُدِّدَ لَهُ نِعْمَةٌ فَیَدَعُ الإسْتِغْفَارَ فَهُوَ الإسْتِدْرَاجُ.

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

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

وَمَنْ سَخُفَ دِینُهُ وَضَعُفَ عَمَلُهُ قَلَّ بَلاؤُهُ.

And one whose faith is feeble and

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his intellect is weak, his tribulation is also slight.

This shows that tribulations are both bodily and spiritual, for the persons of weak intellects and feeble sensibility are secure from spiritual tribulations and intellectual suffering in proportion to their intellectual weakness and the feebleness of their sensibility.

On the contrary, those with more complete intellects and acuter sensibility have to undergo spiritual tribulations more intensely in proportion to the perfectness and acuteness of their intellect and sensibility. Perhaps it was for this reason that the Holy Messenger (S) said:

مَا أُوذِیَ نَبِیٌّ مِثْلَ مَا أُوذِیتُ.

No prophet was tormented to the extent that I was.

This complaint of the Prophet (S) refers to this point, for whoever perceives the greatness and glory of the Lord to a greater extent and knows the sacred station of God Almighty more than others, he suffers more and is tormented to a greater extent by the sins of the creatures and their offences against the Lord’s sanctity.

Also, one who has a greater love and compassion for the creatures of God is tormented to a greater extent by their crooked and wretched condition and ways. And, of course, the Seal of the Prophets (S) was more perfect in all these stations and higher than all of the prophets and the awliya’ in respect of his degree of excellence and perfection. Hence his torment and suffering was greater than that of any one of them. There is also another explanation of the Holy Messenger’s statement, whose mention is not

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appropriate for this place.

وَاللهُ العَالِمُ وَلَهُ الحَمْدُ.

And God knows best and to Him belongs all the praise.

Sixteenth Hadith: Patience (Sabr)


مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ یَعْقُوبَ الکُلَیْنِی رَضِیَ اللهُ عَنْهُ عَنْ عِدَّةٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ، عَنْ أَبِیهِ، عَنْ عَلِیِّ بْنِ النُّعْمَانِ، عَنْ عَبْدِاللهِ بْنِ مَسْکَانَ، عَنْ أَبِی بَصِیرٍ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: إنَّ الحُرَّ حُرٌّ عَلَی جَمِیعِ أحْوَالِهِ. إنْ نَابَتْهُ نَائِبَةٌ صَبَرَ لَهَا وَإنْ تَدَاکَّتْ عَلَیْهِ المَصَائِبُ لَمْ تَکْسِرْهُ وَإنْ أُسِرَ وَقُهِرَ وَاسْتُبْدِلَ بِالیُسْرِ عُسْراً کَمَا کَانَ یُوسُفُ الصِّدِّیقُ الأمِینُ صَلَوَاتُ اللهِ عَلَیْهِ لَمْ یَضْرُرْ حُرِّیَّتَهُ أَنْ اسْتُعْبِدَ وَقُهِرَ وَأُسِرَ وَلَمْ تَضْرُرْهُ ظُلْمَةُ الجُبِّ وَوَحْشَتُهُ وَمَا نَالَهُ أَنْ مَنَّ اللهُ عَلَیْهِ فَجَعَلَ الجَبَّارَ العَاتِیَ لَهُ عَبْداً بَعْدَ إذْ کَانَ [لَهُ] مَالِکاً. فَأَرْسَلَهُ وَرَحِمَ بِهِ أُمَّةً وَکَذَلِکَ الصَّبْرُ یُعَقِّبُ خَیْراً.فَاصْبِرُوا وَوَطِّنُوا أَنْفُسَکُمْ عَلی الصَّبْرِ تُؤْجَرُوا.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni (R) from a group of his teachers, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid, from his father, from ‘Ali ibn al-Nu’man, from ‘Abd Allah ibn Muskan, from Abu Basir, who says, “I heard Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) say, ‘A free human being is free in all circumstances. Should a misfortune befall him he bears it with patience (sabr). If calamities strike him, they don’t shatter him. If taken captive and subdued; he turns hardship into ease, as was the case of Joseph, the truthful and trustworthy (A). His freedom saved him from harm, although he was enslaved, subdued, and imprisoned. The darkness of the pit, the dread and whatever befell him did him no harm, until God favored him and

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made the insolent tyrant, who had been his master, his slave. Then God made him His apostle and through him was merciful to a people. In this way patience is followed by good. So be patient and reconcile yourself to patience in order to be rewarded.”(1)


Naibah’ is the singular of nawa’ib, which means ‘events’ and ‘accidents’ and according to al-Sihah means misfortune (musibah). Dakka is synonymous with daqqa, which means ‘to is conjoined to pound’, crush’, ‘grind’, and ‘to knock’. Al-Sihah says: دَکَکْتُ الشَّیْءَ أَدُکُّهُ دَکّاً إِذَا ضَرَبْتُهُ وَکَسَرْتُهُ حَتَّی سَوَّیْتُهُ بِالأَرْضِ It also remarks, تَدَاکَّتْ عَلَیْهِ: أَیْ تَدَاقَّتْ.

This world also gives the sense of swarming, crowding and pressing together (ijtima’ and izdiham), as mentioned in al-Nihayah. In a hadith, Amir al-Muminin (A) is reported to have said:(2) ثُمَّ تَدَاکَکْتُمْ عَلَیَّ تَدَاکُکَ الإبِلِ الهِیمِ عَلَی حِیاضِها means, إزْدَحَمْتُمْ.

According to al-Nihayah, dakka also means casara (to break). In the present noble tradition, the former meaning is more appropriate in view of the phrase لَمْ تَکْسِرْهُ following it, although the second meaning also fits here. The prepositionو in وإنْ أَسِرَ signifies wusliyyah and is وَقُهِرَ وَاسْتُبْدِلَ conjoined to it. Al Majlisi (M) states that it is وَاسْتُبْدِلَ بِالیُسْرِ عُسْراً in some manuscripts, and is accordingly conjoined to لَمْ تَکْسِرْهُ , thus making it the result of sabr.

The phrase أَنْ اسْتُعْبِدَ is the passive participle and لَمْ یَضْرُرْ is the active subject of the verbal sentence. In Mir’at al Uqul it is اسْتُعْبِدَ , and appears as اسْتُعْبِدَ in Wasa’il al-Shi’ah.

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, ii, Kitab al- iman wa al-kufr, bab al-sabr, 128. hadith No. 6.
2- Ibn al-’Athir, al-Nihayah, ii, 128.

It seems that it is a calligraphers error in the manuscript of the Mir’at , although its meaning is not totally invalid. However, that which is in Wasa’il is more in agreement with the totality and content of the noble tradition. وَمَا نَالَهُ is conjoined to ظُلْمَةُ الجُبِّ , implying that Joseph was not harmed by that which he suffered at his brothers hands, nor by grief and adversity.

As to the phrase, أَنْ مَنَّ اللهُ , it appears that it involves the ellipsis of إلی (until) and relates to لَمْ تَضْرُرْ in two possible yet conflicting ways. Al-Majlisi (M) has mentioned several possible meanings of it whose description is not devoid of prolixity. The meaning of the master of Joseph (A) becoming his slave is that he became subservient and obedient to him (A).

Desire, The Source Of All Bondage

Let it be known to you that in a man subjugated to the domination of lust and carnal desire, his servitude, servility and indignity increase in proportion to the intensity of their domination; for servitude means complete submission and obedience. The man obedient to lusts and subjugated to the carnal self is their obedient slave. He submissively obeys whatever they command and is a humble and obedient servant and slave in front of them. This obedience reaches a limit when he prefers obedience to them to obedience to the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He prefers their service to the service of the real King of kind.

In that state, honor, dignity and freedom

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depart from his heart on which then settle the dusts of indignity, destitution and servitude. He becomes humble before worldly people and his heart bows down in prostration before them and before the possessors of worldly power and glory. In order to achieve the objects of his carnal desires and to satisfy the craving of his belly and underneath, he submits to all kinds of disgrace and indignities.

As long as he remains in the bondage of lust and the carnal self, he does not abstain from violating the demands of honor, freedom and chivalry. He readily submits to the obedience of anyone, and is willing to accept favor from any insignificant person, as soon as he sees the probability of attaining his objective through his means, even if that person is the meanest and basest of all creation and even if the probability involved is something imaginary. And it is said that mere fancy is the proof of the greedy.

The servants of lust and mundane ambition have put on the shackles of slavery to carnal desire. They are ready to be slaves of anyone whom they know or imagine to be of worldly benefit to them. If verbally they declare themselves to be chaste and honorable, such lip service to honor is mere deception, for their words and deeds contradict such a declaration. This servility and captivity is a thing which always causes man to undergo suffering, pain, dishonor and distress. Hence a man with a sense of honor

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and dignity should seriously strive to cleanse himself of this abomination by all means and deliver himself from this bondage. Such purification and emancipation can only be attained through a fundamental treatment, which takes place through curative knowledge and action.

As to curative action, it consists of religious exercises and opposition to the carnal self. Over a period of time these free the soul from excessive love of the world and the pursuit of carnal lust and desire, until it becomes accustomed to virtues and moral excellences. As to curative knowledge, it lies in making oneself understand and causing this to enter into his heart that other creatures are as weak, needy, dependent and impoverished as himself. He should tell his heart, “Since all other creatures are, like me, dependent, in matters big and small, on Him Who is absolutely Able and Powerful, they are not capable of fulfilling anyone’s needs.

They are too insignificant to deserve the soul’s attention or the heart’s humbleness. The same Powerful Being that has bestowed honor, dignity and riches upon them is capable of bestowing these on anybody. In fact, it is a matter of shame that man should submit so much to dishonor and indignity for the sake of his belly and his lusts as to accept the favor of an insignificant, impoverished, powerless and lowly creature devoid of wisdom and vision. If at all you should seek anyone’s favor, then seek the favor of the Absolutely Self-Sufficient, the Creator of the heavens and

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the earth, for if you pay attention to His sacred Essence and make your heart humble in His presence, that will liberate you from both the worlds and emancipate you from the servitude of creatures, as it has been said: (1)

العُبُودِیَّةُ جَوْهَرَةٌ کٌنْهُهَا الرُّبُوبِیَّةُ.

That is, the inner, invaluable essence of servitude to God is freedom and lordship. Thus servitude to God, attention to the unique focus of all being, and subjugation of all powers and dominations to the Sovereignty of God create such a state in the devotee’s heart that he comes to wield power and kingdom over all the worlds. His spirit rises to such heights of sublimity that he does not pay obeisance to anyone except the Sacred Divine Essence, and even if, accidentally, he should be under the domination and power of anyone, that does not shake his heart, which preserves its independence and freedom, as in the case of Joseph (A) and Luqman (A) whose apparent subservience and servitude did not harm their free and freedom-seeking character.

And there may be many a powerful despot and king, who having no trace of inner freedom, dignity and honor in their character, are base servants and obedient slaves of lust and carnal desire and who obsequiously ingratiate themselves to creatures.

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

إنِّی لآنَفُ أنْ أَطْلُبَ الدُّنْیَا مِنْ خَالِقِهَا، فَکَیْفَ مِنْ مَخْلُوقٍ مِثْلِی.

I am ashamed to ask anything of worldly things from their Creator, so how

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1- Misbah al-Shariah, bab 100.

can I seek them from creatures like myself?(1)

My dear, if you are not ashamed of seeking the world, at least don’t ask for it of weak creatures like yourself. Do understand that creatures have no power to do anyone any worldly good. I admit that you might have succeeded in attracting someone’s attention through a thousand indignity and cajolery, but his will has no effect in the kingdom of God and no one has any role in the dominion of the King of kings.

Hence do not degrade yourself so much by flattering insignificant creatures for the sake of a passing world and for passing and paltry desires. Don’t forget your Lord and preserve your freedom. Remove the shackles of servitude and captivity and never forget Him under any circumstance, for, as stated in the noble tradition:

إنَّ الحُرَّ حُرٌّ عَلَی جَمِیعِ أحْوَالِهِ.

The freeman is free in all circumstances.

Let it be known to you that contentment comes from the heart and the absence of neediness is a spiritual state, unrelated to external matters that lie outside the human self. I have myself seen certain persons amongst rich and wealthy classes who say thins which no honorable poor man would say and whose statements are shameful. The hearts of those wretches were covered by the dusts of dishonor and destitution.

The Jews, who, in proportion to their number, are the richest and wealthiest of all people on the earth, have faces that manifest debasement, poverty, indigence, beggarliness, hunger and wretchedness. They spend

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1- Ilal al-Shari’ah, i, 165; Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, x, 29.

all their lives in hardship, indignity, destitution and squalor. This is nothing but their inner poverty and spiritual abasement.

I have seen amongst pious and darvish-like persons some individuals whose hearts are so magnanimously free of want and need that they look at the entire world with indifference and consider none except the Sacred Essence of God Almighty as deserving of making a request. You too study carefully the conditions of worldly and ambitious people and you will find that their lack of self-respect and their degradation in flattering others is greater than that of others and their obsequiousness in front of people is greater.

Those (pseudo mystic masters) who are in pursuit of disciples and claim to guide others, suffer indignities and put up with degrading flattery and ingratiation for some day’s satisfaction of their carnal lusts. The heart of the seeker of disciples and adherents is humbler in front of the disciple than that of the latter in front of him. This is because of the difference in the character of their respect for one another. While the disciple’s humbleness and affection is of a spiritual and godly character, the master’s affection has a mundane and satanic character:

These that have been mentioned are the worldly forms of these evils and indignities. But were the curtains to rise, the real spiritual forms of these servitudes, bondages and chains of carnal lusts and desires will reveal themselves. Perhaps the seventy-cubit chain, of which God Almighty has informed us, a chain with

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which we shall be shackled and bound in that world, is the Hereafterly form of this very servitude and subjugation to the domination of Passion and Anger. And God Almighty declares:

﴿وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِرًا.﴾

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

And He also says:

﴿لَا یُکَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا کَسَبَتْ وَعَلَیْهَا مَا اکْتَسَبَتْ.﴾

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

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

Therefore, break away the lengthy chains of lust and desire. Remove the locks that bar the heart’s entrance and set yourself free from bondage. Live like a free human being in this world so that you may be free in the other world; otherwise, you will encounter there the intolerable Hereafterly form of this bondage. The hearts of the saints of God, despite their absolute and total freedom from bondage, were so much dreadful of the final outcome and so much full of lamentations that it amazes all minds.

I am aware that the matters mentioned in these pages are of a common and repetitive character. However, there is nothing wrong in such repetition, for constant reminding of the self and repetition of the truth is a desirable thing. This is why repetition has been considered desirable in prayers, supplications, worship and rituals. The main purpose is to accustom the self by means

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of repetitive exercises.

My dear, don’t be deluded; understand that as long as man remains in the bondage of the carnal self and its desires and as long as the lengthy chains of Passion and Anger are around his neck, he cannot attain to any of the spiritual stations; the inward authority of the soul and the domination of its higher will shall not manifest itself. Also, the station of spiritual independence and dignity, which is one of the highest of spiritual stations, shall not be realized. Rather, this bondage and slavery restrains man from revolting against the authority of the carnal self. And when the authority of the carnal self and Satan becomes consolidated in the inward realm and all the faculties of the self become their obedient slaves, becoming submissive and humble in front of them, they do not remain satisfied with mere sins.

Little by little, they draw man from minor to major sins and from there to weakening of beliefs, from there to darkening of the intellect, from there to the constricted path of denial and contestation (of the truth), and from there to the hostility and enmity of the prophets and the awliya’. Throughout these stages, the self, which is their slave and under their domination, cannot disobey them. At last this obedience and captivity becomes so severe that it may take man to the most dangerous point.

Hence, the intelligent man with sympathy for himself must try by all means to liberate himself from this slavery,

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

الدُّنْیَا مَزْرَعَةُ الآخِرَةِ.

The world is the farm of the Hereafter.(1)

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

So, O base self! O negligent heart! Awake from

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1- Ihya’ al-ulum, iv, 14.

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

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

لا تَسَعُنِی أَرْضِی وَلا سَمَائِی، بَلْ یَسَعُنِی قَلْبُ عَبْدِیَ المُؤْمِنُ.

Neither [the vastness of] My earth, nor [that of] My heaven can contain Me.

Indeed it is the heart of the man of faith which can contain Me.(1)

Such richness and contentment will then pervade

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1- Ghwali al-lia’ili, iv, 7.

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

طیران مرغ دیدی توزپای بند شهوت درآی تا ببینی طیران آدمیت

You have watched the bird’s flight;

But should you remove the shackles of lust,

You will witness the flight of man.

Sabr, The Outcome Of Freedom From Lust

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

As defined by the researcher of the righteous sect, the explorer of the subtleties of the confirmed creed, the perfect in knowledge and deed, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (Q)(1) sabr means restraining the self from agitation when confronted with undesirables. And the famous, confirmed ‘arif (Khwajah ‘Abd Allah al-’Ansari), says in Manazil al-sa’irin:

صبر، نگاهداری نفس است از شکایت بر جزع مستور.

Sabr means restraining the self from complaint about hidden anguish.

And let it be known to you that sabr has been considered as one of the stations of those in the middle group (mutawassitun), for as long as the self regards misfortunes and calamities as detestable and feels inward anguish on their account, its marifah is deficient. Thus the station of rida in regard to Divine destiny and satisfaction at the turning up of

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1- For maintaining readability, (Q) which is an acronym for “Quddisa sirruh” is used throughout the book to denote “May God sanctify his/their soul(s).” It is used for the deceased ulama, urafa, and awliya.

misfortunes represents a higher station, although we consider this also to be one of the stations pertaining to the mutawassitun. So also sabr in regard to abstinence from sins and in regard to fulfillment of duties (ta’at) is also related to deficient knowledge of the secrets of ibadat and the Hereafterly forms of sin and obedience.

For if one were to understand the reality of ibadah and to believe in the purgatorial forms of worships and sins, sabr in regard to these has no meaning for him. Rather, the contrary becomes true here, and if a joy or comfort causes him to neglect worship or commit a sin, they (such joys and comforts) become detestable for him and his inward anguish becomes greater than that of those who bear misfortunes and calamities patiently.

The righteous servant and the knower of the duties of servitude, the possessor of noble stations and miraculous characteristics, ‘Ali ibn ‘Tawus (Q) is narrated to celebrate the first day of his becoming mukallaf. He gave feasts and festivated in commemoration of that day, for God, the Blessed and the Supreme, had blessed him with the permission to perform duties on that day. Can anyone say that that sublime spirit exercised sabr in regard to worship and duties considering them as inwardly unwelcome?

What a difference between us and those obedient servants of God! We think that God Almighty has burdened us with duties; we consider them troublesome and view them as a botheration. If one of us

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attempts to offer his prayer at the outset of its time, he says that it is better to be done with it and the sooner one relieves oneself the better! All our misfortunes are due to ignorance and foolishness and on account of the lack or absence of faith.

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

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

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

﴿أَنِّی مَسَّنِی الشَّیْطَانُ بِنُصْبٍ وَعَذَابٍ.﴾

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

And God yet praises him, saying:

﴿إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ.﴾

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

And Hadrat Ya’qub (Jacob) said:

﴿إِنَّمَا أَشْکُو بَثِّی وَحُزْنِی إِلَی اللَّهِ.﴾

I make

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

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

The accounts of the lives of the great prophets and the Infallible Imams - upon all of whom be God’s benedictions- reveal that although their stations were over and above the stations of sabr, rida and taslim (surrender), they never stopped supplicating lamenting and confessing their impotence before the Worshipped One. They expressed their needs to God Almighty and this is not contrary to their spiritual stations.

Rather, remembering God, cherishing the intimacy of solitude with the Beloved, and expression of servitude and humility in front of His absolute perfection and greatness is the ultimate end of the hopes of the mystics (‘arifun) and the final destination of the journey of the wayfarers (salikun).

Results Of Sabr

You should know that sabr produces many results, among which is the soul’s training and discipline. If a human being bears patiently with misfortunes and calamities for some time, if he seriously endures the hardships entailed by worship and rites and the bitterness arising from the renunciation of carnal pleasures, and if he does all this for the sake of obedience to his Lord and Provider, his soul gradually becomes accustomed to these things. Then it becomes disciplined and docile and relinquishes its earlier recalcitrance. To bear with hardships and difficulties becomes an easy thing for it. There develops within it an

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enduring luminous faculty through which he can rise over the station of sabr to reach other higher spiritual stations.

Sabr in regard to sins is the source of the self’s taqwa. Sabr in regard to obedience (ta’at) is the source of intimacy with God. And sabr in misfortunes is the source of rids or contentment with Divine destiny and decrees. These are the stations of the faithful (ahl al- iman) or rather those of the gnostics (ahl al-’irfan). In the noble traditions of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt we find forceful emphasis on sabr. The following is a tradition of Imam al-Sadiq (A) from the noble al-Kafi, in which the Imam says:

الصَّبْرُ مِنَ الإیمَانِ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الرَّأْسِ مِنَ الجَسَدِ، فَإذَا ذَهَبَ الرَّأْسُ ذَهَبَ الجَسَدُ، کَذَلِکَ إذَا ذَهَبَ الصَّبْرُ ذَهَبَ الإیمَانُ.

Verily, sabr is to faith what the head is to the body. The body perishes without the head, and so also when sabr goes faith also disappears?(1)

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

الصَّبْرُ مِنَ الإیمَانِ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الرَّأْسِ مِنَ الجَسَدِ، وَلا إیمَانَ لِمَنْ لا صَبْرَ لَهُ.

Verily, sabr is to faith what the head is to the body: one who has no sabr has no faith.(2)

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

Sabr is the key to the gates of felicity and the main means of deliverance from mortal perils. Sabr makes man bear calamities with ease and face difficulties with composure. It strengthens the

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1- Usul al-Kafi, ii, bab al-sabr, 128, hadith No. 2.
2- Usul al-Kafi, hadith No. 3.

will and the power of resolution. It brings independence to the dominion of the soul. Anguish and anxiety on the other hand, aside from their shameful character, are symptoms of the soul’s weakness. They deprive one’s being of its stability, weaken the determination, and enfeeble the intellect. The informed researcher Khwajah Naqir al-Din al-Tusi (Q) states:

وَهُوَ – أیْ الصَّبْرَ – یَمْنَعُ البَاطِنَ عَنِ الإضْطِرَابِ وَاللِّسَانَ عَنِ الشِّکَایَةِ وَالأعْضَاءَ عَنِ الحَرَکَاتِ غَیْرِ المُعْتَادَةِ.

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

On the contrary, the inward being of the impatient person is full of anxiety and alarm. His heart is full of tremors and shaky, and this. is itself the greatest calamity that can befall a human being and deprive him of peace. But sabr diminishes misfortune and makes the heart overcome hardship and assists the will to overpower calamities. In the same way, the impatient person complains of his troubles to everyone, and this, aside from causing disrepute among people who look down upon him as a weakling of instable character, makes him lose his standing in the court of the Holy Lord and in front of His angels.

What faith in God and what surrender to the Holy Lord has the servant who cannot bear an adversity that visits him from his Beloved, the Absolute, after having received thousands upon thousands of His bounties and while being immersed in the sea of His favor, and opens his mouth in front of

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people to complain as soon as an adversity strikes him? So it is right if it is said that one who has no sabr has no faith.

If you have faith in your Lord and believe all the affairs to lie in His mighty hands, if you believe none else to have any say in the matters, of course you will not complain of the hardships of life and the adversities that strike you before God Almighty. Rather you will accept them willingly and thank Him gratefully for His bounties.

Hence that inner agitation, those plaintive utterances, those unbecoming bodily movements - all these bear testimony to our lack of faith. As long as we find ourselves amid favors, we are grateful, with a gratefulness that is formal and lacking inner substance, a gratefulness that is offered in greed of further favors. However, when a tragedy occurs or a pain or disease strikes us, we take our complaints against the Blessed and the Almighty Lord in front of the creatures. With a plaintive tongue and a tone brimming with taunts and cynicism, we complain about Him to all and sundry. Gradually those complaints, anxieties and misgivings sow the seeds of hostility towards God and His decrees inside the self. Slowly they sprout and grow, making the once passing feeling into an enduring trait.

Thereupon, God forbid, the form of one’s inward being assumes the form of enmity towards God and His ordainments. When that happens, things go out of one’s control

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and one is no longer able to check his thoughts and feelings. His inward and outward being becomes colored with the hostility towards God Almighty, and he departs from this world to face eternal wretchedness and gloom, with a spirit infused with the enmity and hatred of the Lord of Bounties. I seek refuge in God from the evil of a disastrous end and from a provisional faith (iman mustawda’). Hence it has been truly said that when sabr goes faith also departs.

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

مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ یَعْقُوبَ بِإسْنَادِهِ عَنْ سُمَاعَةَ بْنِ مَهْرَانَ، عَنْ أبِی الحَسَنِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ قَالَ: قَالَ لِی: مَا حَبَسَکَ عَنِ الحَجِّ؟ قَالَ: قُلْتُ: جُعِلْتُ فِدَاکَ، وَقَعَ عَلَیَّ دَیْنٌ کَثِیرٌ وَذَهَبَ مَالِی، وَدَیْنِی الَّذِی قَدْ لَزِمَنِی هُوَ أَعْظَمُ مِنْ ذَهَابِ مَالِی. فَلَوْلا أنَّ رَجُلاً مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا أَخْرَجَنِی مَا قَدَرْتُ أَنْ أَخْرُجَ. فَقَالَ لِی: إنْ تَصْبِرْ تُغْتَبَطْ وَإنْ لا تَصْبِرْ یُنْفِذِ اللهُ مَقَادِیرَهُ رَاضِیاً کُنْتَ أَمْ کَارِهاً.

Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni reports with

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his chain of transmitters from Sama’ah ibn Mihran from Imam al-Kazim (A) that the Imam said to him, “What stopped you from going for hajj?” Sama’ah says that he replied, “May I be your ransom, a big debt has fallen upon me and I have lost my property. However, the debt that lies upon me weighed more heavily upon me than the loss of property. Had it not been for one of our companions, I could not have come out of it.” The Imam said, “If you are patient, you will be the object of envy, and if you don’t God will enforce His decrees regardless of your pleasure or displeasure.”(1)

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

وَکَذَلِکَ الصَّبْرُ یُعَقِّبُ خَیْراً.فَاصْبِرُوا وَوَطِّنُوا أَنْفُسَکُمْ عَلی الصَّبْرِ تُؤْجَرُوا.

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

قَالَ: قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ: مَنِ ابْتُلِیَ مِنَ المُؤْمِنِینَ بِبَلاءٍ فَصَبَرَ عَلَیْهِ کَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ

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1- Usul al-Kafi, hadith No. 10.

أَلْفِ شَهِیدٍ.

Abu Hamzah says: Abu Abd Allah said: “Whoever of the believers that bears patiently with a tribulation that befalls him, has the reward of a thousand martyrs.”(1)

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

قَالَ: إذَا دَخَلَ المُؤْمِنُ فِی قَبْرِهِ، کَانَتِ الصَّلاةُ عَنْ یَمِینِهِ وَالزَّکَاةُ عَنْ یَسَارِهِ وَالبِرُّ مُظِلٌّ عَلَیْهِ. وَیَتَنَحَّی الصَّبْرُ نَاحِیَةً، فَإذَا دَخَلَ عَلَیْهِ المَلَکَانِ اللَّذَانِ یَلِیَانِ مَسَاءَلَتَهُ قَالَ الصَّبْرُ لِلصَّلاةِ وَالزَّکَاة وَالبِرِّ: دُونَکُمْ صَاحِبَکُمْ، فَإنْ عَجِزْتُمْ عَنْهُ فَأنَا دُونَهُ.

The Imam (A) said, “When the believer enters his grave, salat is on his right hand, zakat on his left, virtue faces him, with sabr taking him under its shelter. When the two angels in charge of questioning enter upon him, sabr says to salat, zakat and virtue: Take care of your companion, and if you fail to assist him I will take care of him myself.”(2)

The Degrees And Levels Of Sabr

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

قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ

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1- Usul al-Kafi. hadith No. 17.
2- Usul al-Kafi, hadith No. 8.

اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: الصَّبْرُ ثَلاثَةٌ: صَبْرٌ عِنْدَ المُصِیبَةِ وَصَبْرٌ عَلَی الطَّاعَةِ وَصَبْرٌ عَنِ المَعْصِیَةِ. فَمَنْ صَبَرَ عَلَی المُصِیبَةِ حَتَّی یَرُدَّهَا بِحُسْنِ عَزَائِهَا کَتَبَ اللهُ لَهُ ثَلاثَمِائَةِ دَرَجَةٍ: مَا بَیْنَ الدَّرَجَةِ إلَی الدَّرَجَةِ کَمَا بَیْنَ السَّمَاءِ إلَی الأرْضِ. وَمَنْ صَبَرَ عَلَی الطَّاعَةِ کَتَبَ اللهُ لَهُ سِتَّمِائَةِ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَیْنَ الدَّرَجَةِ إلَی الدَّرَجَةِ کَمَا بَیْنَ تُخُومِ الأرْضِ إلَی العَرْشِ. وَمَنْ صَبَرَ عَنِ المَعْصِیَةِ کَتَبَ اللهُ لَهُ تِسْعَمِائَةِ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَیْنَ الدَّرَجَةِ إلَی الدَّرَجَةِ کَمَا بَیْنَ تُخُومِ الأرْضِ إلَی مُنْتَهَی العَرْشِ.

‘Ali (A) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “Sabr Is of three kinds: sabr at the time of affliction, sabr in regard to obedience, and sabr in regard to disobedience. One who bears patiently with affliction, resisting it with a fair consolation, God writes for him three hundred degrees (of sublimity), the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between earth and heavens. And one who is patient in regard to obedience, God writes for him six hundred degrees (of sublimity), the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between the earth’s depths and the Throne (al-’arsh). And one who is patient in regard to disobedience, God writes for him nine hundred degrees (of sublimity), the elevation of one degree over another being like the distance between the earth’s depths and the furthest frontiers of the Throne.”(1)

This noble tradition reveals that sabr in regard to disobedience is superior to the other levels of sabr, for it not only possesses greater number of degrees but also

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1- Usul al-Kafi, hadith No. 15.

the range between its degrees is greater than those of the other kinds. It also shows that the extent of Paradise is much greater than what can come into our imagination, for our vision is limited and confined. That which has been said as a description of Paradise that:

﴿وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا کَعَرْضِ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ.﴾

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

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

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

قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّی اللهُ عَلَیْهِ وَآلِهِ: سَیَأْتِی عَلَی النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ

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لا یُنَالُ المُلْکُ فِیهِ إلا بِالقَتْلِ وَالتَّجَبُّرِ، وَلا الغِنَی إلا بِالغَصْبِ وَالبُخْلِ، وَلا المَحَبَّةِ إلا بِاسْتِخْرَاجِ الدِّینِ وَاتِّبَاعِ الهَوَی. فَمَنْ أَدْرَکَ ذَلِکَ الزَّمَانَ فَصَبَرَ عَلَی الفَقْرِ وَهُوَ یَقْدِرُ عَلَی الغِنَی وَصَبَرَ عَلَی البُغْضَةِ وَهُوَ یَقْدِرُ عَلَی المَحَبَّةِ وَصَبَرَ عَلَی الذُّلِّ وَهُوَ یَقْدِرُ عَلَی العِزِّ آتَاهُ اللهُ ثَوَابَ خَمْسِینَ صِدِّیقاً مِمَّنْ صَدَّقَ بِی.

The Imam (A) said: The Messenger of Allah (S) said, “A time will come upon the people wherein political authority will not be attainable without bloodshed and tyranny, nor wealth without usurpation and stinginess, nor affection without discarding religion and pursuing lust and desire. Whoever lives in such times and bears patiently with poverty despite possessing the capacity to become rich (illegitimately), and bears up with hostility despite being capable of acquiring favor and affection, and bears with humiliation despite possessing the capacity to acquire honor, God will give him the reward of fifty truthful ones, of those who confirmed me.”(1)

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

The ‘Urafa’s Degrees Of Sabr:

Let it be known to you that that which has been said hitherto relates to the condition of ordinary people and the mutawassitun. We stated at the beginning of this exposition that sabr has been considered as something pertaining to the stations of the mutawassitun. But Sabr hays other levels which belong to the wayfarers of the path of perfection and the awliya’. One

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1- Usul al-Kafi, hadith No. 12.

of such levels of sabr is sabr fi Allah (Sabr in God), and it means steadfastness (thabat) in spiritual endeavor (mujahadah) and abstinence from objects of love and attraction. Rather it means the renunciation of selfhood in the path of the Beloved.

This stage belongs to the wayfarers (ahl al-suluk). Another level is that of sabr ma’a Allah (sabr with God). It belongs to those blessed with the Presence and the Beatific vision, which comes at the time of exit from the garment of manhood, and freedom from the curtains of deeds and attributes, and irradiation upon the heart of the lights of the Names and Attributes, and entry into the state of intimacy and awe and safeguarding of the self against changing from color to color and absence from the station of intimacy and vision.

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

فَهَبْنِی، یَا إلَهِی وَسَیِّدِی وَمَوْلایَ، صَبَرْتُ عَلَی عَذَابِکَ، فَکَیْفَ أَصْبِرُ عَلَی فِرَاقِکَ.

O my God, my Master and my Lord! Even if

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I were able to endure Thy chastisement, how shall I bear Thy separation?

The following is narrated about al-Shibli:

وَرُوِیَ أنَّ شَابّاً مِنَ المُحِبِّینَ سَأَلَ الشِّبْلِیَّ عَنِ الصَّبْرِ فَقَالَ: أَیُّ الصَّبْرِ أَشَدُّ؟ فَقَالَ: الصَّبْرُ للهِ. فَقَالَ: لا. فَقَالَ: الصَّبْرُ بِاللهِ. فَقَالَ: لا. فَقَالَ: الصَّبْرُ عَلَی اللهِ. فَقَالَ: لا. فَقَالَ: الصَّبْرُ فِی اللهِ. فَقَالَ: لا. فَقَالَ: الصَّبْرُ مَعَ اللهِ. فَقَالَ: لا. فَقَالَ: وَیْحَکَ فَأَیُّ؟ فَقَالَ: الصَّبْرُ عَنِ اللهِ. فَشَهِقَ الشِّبْلِیُّ وَخَرَّ مَغْشِیّاً عَلَیْهِ.

It is narrated that a youth from among the Lovers questioned al-Shibli about sabr. “Which kind of sabr is the hardest?” He asked. “The sabr for God,” replied al-Shibli. “No,” said the youth. “The sabr by God,” answered al-Shibli. “No,” said the youth. “The sabr over God,” said al-Shibli. “No,” said the youth again. “The sabr in God,” said al-Shibli. “No,” came the answer. “The sabr with God?” said al Shibii, and the youth said “No,” again. “Woe to you, which one is it?” said al-Shibli, exasperated. “The sabr from God,” came the answer. Al-Shibli gave a cry and swooned.(1)

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

And Praise is God’s at the

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1- Sharh Manazil al-sa’irin, bab al-sabr, 88. No.28.

beginning and the end, and may God’s benedictions be upon Muhammad and, his immaculate Progeny.

Seventeenth Hadith: Repentance (Tawbah)


بِالسَّنَدِ المُتَّصِلِ إلی الإمَامِ الأَقْدَمِ حُجَّةِ الفِرْقَةِ وَرَئِیسِ الأُمَّةِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَعْقُوبَ الکُلَیْنِیِّ رَحِمَهُ اللهُ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ یَحْیَی، عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِیسَی، عَنِ الحَسَنِ بْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ، عَنْ مُعَاوِیَةَ بْنِ وَهَبٍ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِاللهِ عَلَیْهِ السَّلامُ یَقُولُ: إذَا تَابَ العَبْدُ تَوْبَةً نَصُوحاً أَحَبَّهُ اللهُ فَسَتَرَ عَلَیْهِ فِی الدُّنْیَا وَالآخِرَةِ. فَقُلْتُ: وَکَیْفَ یَسْتُرُ عَلَیْهِ؟ قَالَ: یُنْسِی مَلَکَیْهِ مَا کَتَبَا عَلَیْهِ مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ وَیُوحِی إلی جَوَارِحِهِ: إکْتُمِی عَلَیْهِ ذُنُوبَهُ وَیُوحِی إلی بِقَاعِ الأَرْضِ اکْتُمِی مَا کَانَ یَعْمَلُ عَلَیْکِ مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ. فَیَلْقَی اللهَ حِینَ یَلْقَاهُ وَلَیْسَ شَیْءٌ یَشْهَدُ عَلَیْهِ بِشَیْءٍ مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ.

With a continuous chain of transmission reaching the pioneering leader, a proof of the sect and a chief of the ummah, Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni (R) from Muhammad ibn Yahya, from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa, from, al-Hasan ibn Mahbub, from Mu’awiyah ibn Wahab, who said, “I heard Abu ‘Abd Allah (A) says: ‘When a servant turns to God with sincere repentance (tawbatan nasuhan), God loves him and covers him (i.e. his sins) in the world and the Hereafter.’ I said, ‘And how does He cover him? ‘The Imam (A) replied, “He makes the two angels (assigned to write his deeds) forget that which they have written of his sins. Then He inspires his bodily members (saying), “Do conceal his sins,” and He inspires the earth’s places (saying), “Conceal the sins that he used to commit over you.” Then he meets God, at

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the time that he meets Him, in such a manner that there is nothing to give witness against him regarding any sin.”(1)


Know that tawbah (repentance) is one of the important as well as difficult stages, which signifies the return from (physical) nature (tabi’ah) to the soul’s spirituality after that the light of (primordial) human nature (fitrah) and the spirit has been blinded by the darkness of carnal nature through sins and disobedience. To explain, the soul in its initial natural state (fitrah) is devoid of any kind of excellence, beauty, light or delight, in the same way as it is free from their opposites. It is like a blank tablet absolutely without any inscription.

Neither it possesses any spiritual merits nor any vices. But there has been planted in it the sparks of capacity and capability to attain any kind of station. Its nature (fitrah) is straight and its essence carries intrinsic luminosity. But commission of sins causes obscurity within the heart and this obfuscation increases with the number of sins until it becomes totally darkened. The light of intrinsic nature is extinguished and changed into abiding wretchedness. But between these two states, before the onset of total darkness over the heart’s tablet, if it awakes from its slumber of negligence, this state of awakening is followed by that of repentance.

The benefit arising from this state - with the conditions to be mentioned, God willing, in the following pages - becomes complete and the soul returns from the darkness

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

and obscurity of carnal nature to the light of original nature and its essential spirituality. In other words, it becomes again like a tablet devoid of virtues and vices., as mentioned in the famous hadith:

التَّائِبُ مِنَ الذَّنْبِ کَمَنْ لا ذَنْبَ لَهُ.

One who repents from sin is like one who has not sinned.(1)

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

Tawbah And Postponement

An important point whose awareness is necessary for the wayfarer of the path of guidance and salvation is that success in a complete and sound repentance, meeting all its conditions (to be mentioned), is a difficult thing and rarely attainable. The indulgence in sin, especially the major and mortal ones, causes man to become totally forgetful of tawbah. If the tree of sinfulness growing in the orchard of the human heart reaches maturity and fruition, its roots becoming strong, the results are calamitous, one of which is to turn away man totally from repentance.

Even if once in a while it comes to his mind, he keeps on postponing it from day to day and from one month to another, telling himself, “I

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1- Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, hadith No. 10.

will make a sound repentance at the end of my life and in old age,” forgetting that this is a Divine stratagem:

﴿وَاللَّهُ خَیْرُ الْمَاکِرِینَ.﴾

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

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

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

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

If you have heard or read in a tradition that God Almighty has favored this ummah and accepts the repentance of its members

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until before the appearance of death or its signs, that is true. But alas, that is the time when the opportunity of tawbah is taken away from man. Do you think that tawbah is a mere verbal exercise? No, such is not the case; the performance of-tawbah requires effort and hardship. The return, as well as the determination to return, requires practical effort as well as the exercise of knowledge.

Otherwise it rarely happens for a man, either to think of tawbah or to succeed in performing it, or to fulfill the conditions of its validity and acceptance, or the conditions of its perfection. And it often happens that death grants no respite for the thought of tawbah to occur, or for tawbah to materialize, as one is transferred from this habitat with the burden of weighty sins and their endless darkness. Then, only God knows what ‘misfortunes and calamities befall him.

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

So, my dear, make up your mind as soon as possible and make firm your resolution and will. Repent from your sins so long as you are young and alive in this world. Don’t let this God-given opportunity to slip away. Don’t pay attention to satanic enticements

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and the tricks of the carnal self.

An Important Point

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

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

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

My dear, do not pass by this stage nonchalantly’ and indifferently! Meditate and reflect over your condition and your ultimate end. Turn to the Book of God, the traditions of the Seal of Prophets and the Imams of guidance - upon all of whom be God’s salutations - to the utterances of the ulama of the Ummah as well as to the dictates of your own intellect and conscience. Do open this door, which is the key to all other openings, and enter this house which, for us, is

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the main abode of humanity.

Consider it important and attend to it with care. Implore God, the Exalted and the Blessed, to grant you success in finding your cherished goal. Seek help from the spiritual station of the Noble Messenger and the Imams of guidance - upon all of whom be peace - and seek refuge in the Wali al-’Amr, the Age’s honor and its Leader (the Twelfth Imam), may God hasten his appearance. Of course, that holy personage does assist the weak and the destitute and answer the call of the helpless.

The Essentials Of Tawbah

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

One of them, which is the most essential, is regret and remorse for one’s past sins and faults. Another is resolving not to make a return to their commission ever. These two, in fact, constitute the essential reality of tawbah and comprise its essential constituents. The main thing in this respect is the attainment of this state and the realization of this reality, which should take place in such a manner that man recognizes the effect of sins on the soul and its consequences in the world of Barzakh and the Day of Resurrection, both by means of rational reflection as well as from tradition.

For it is a demonstrable truth for the urafa, which has also been mentioned in the traditions

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of the Household of Inerrancy (A) that sins have reified forms in Barzakh and at the time of Resurrection which correspond with those sins. They are endowed with a life and will of their own in that world and torment men awaringly and willfully. In the same way, the fire of Hell also burns men awaringly and willfully. That is because that realm is the realm of total life.

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

Hence the intelligent man when he becomes aware of this fact and pays as much heed to the statements of the prophets and awliya’ as to the advice of a physician and doctor, he would certainly abstain from sin and distance himself from it. And if, God forbid, he commits any he would turn away loathfully in penitence and his heart would be filled with remorse. The result that this remorse produces is

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something great and its effects are very beneficial. The determination to quit disobedience and sin is a consequence of this remorse.

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

﴿إِنَّ اللَّهَ یُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِینَ وَیُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِینَ.﴾

Verily God loves the repentant, (2:222)

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

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

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

O God! We are incapable

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

أَنْتَ کَمَا أَثْنَیْتَ عَلَی نَفْسِکَ.

You are as You have praised Yourself.(1)

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

﴿نَارُ اللَّهِ الْمُوقَدَةُ. الَّتِی تَطَّلِعُ عَلَی الْأَفْئِدَةِ.﴾

The fire of God kindled, roaring over the hearts covered down upon them, in columns outstretched.(2)

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

O God! Give

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1- Safinat al-Bihar, II, 180.
2- 104:6

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

The Conditions Of Tawbah

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

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

رُوِیَ فِی نَهْجِ البَلاغَةِ أنَّ قائلاً قَالَ بِحَضْرَتِهِ: أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ. فَقَالَ لَهُ: ثَکَلَتْکَ أُمُّکَ أَتَدْرِی مَا الإسْتِغْفَارُ؟ الإسْتِغْفَارُ دَرَجَةُ العِلِّیِّینَ. وَهُوَ اسْمٌ وَاقِعٌ عَلَی سِتَّةِ مَعَانٍ: أَوَّلُهَا النَّدَمُ عَلَی مَا مَضَی. وَالثَّانِی العَزْمُ عَلَی تَرْکِ العَوْدِ إلَیْهِ أَبَداً. والثَّالِثُ أَنْ تُؤَدِّیَ إلَی المَخْلُوقِینَ حُقُوقَهُمْ حَتَّی تَلْقَی اللهَ أَمْلَسَ لَیْسَ عَلَیْکَ تَبِعَةٌ. وَالرَّابِعُ أنْ تَعْمَدَ إلَی کُلِّ فَرِیضَةٍ عَلَیْکَ ضَیَّعْتَهَا فَتُؤَدِّیَ حَقَّهَا. والخَامِسُ أَنْ تَعْمَدَ إلَی اللَّحْمِ الَّذِی نَبُتَ عَلَی السُّحْتِ فَتُذِیبُهُ بِالأحْزَانِ حَتَّی تُلْصِقَ الجِلْدَ بِالعَظْمِ وَیَنْشَأَ بَیْنَهُمَا لَحْمٌ جَدِیدٌ. وَالسَّادِسُ أَنْ تُذِیقَ الجِسْمَ أَلَمَ الطَّاعَةِ کَمَا أَذَقْتَهُ حَلاوَةَ المَعْصِیَةِ فَعِنْدَ ذَلِکَ تَقُولُ أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ.

It is narrated by

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al Sayyid al Radi (R) in the Nahj al balaghah that some said ‘Astaghfirullah (I seek God’s forgiveness) before ‘Ali (A). ‘Ali said to him. “May thy mother mourn for thee! Do you know what is istighfar? Verily istighfar is a degree of the ‘illiyyun and it is a word that means six things. First is remorse over the past. Second, the resolution not to return to it ever. Third, to return to the creatures their rights (usurped in the past) so that you meet God Almighty in such a state of purity that no one has a claim against you. Fourth, that you fulfill every duty that was neglected by you, in order to satisfy your obligation in respect of it. Fifth, that you attend to the flesh of your body that had grown on unlawful nourishment so that it melts away as a result of grief and mourning and the skin adheres to the bones, after which new flesh grows there between. Sixth, that you make your body taste the pain of obedience in the same way as it tasted earlier the pleasure of sinfulness. When you have done these things then say Astaghfirullah!”(1)

This noble tradition mentions firstly two essential requirements of penitence, which are remorse and the resolution not to relapse into sin. Then it mentions the two important condition for its acceptance, which are returning the rights of creatures and then of the Creator. Tawbah is not accepted from anyone on the mere verbal declaration,

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

‘I repent.’ The penitent man is one who returns everything illegitimately taken from others. If anyone has a claim against him, he should satisfy it if possible, or acquire his propitiation.

He should discharge whatever divine obligations and duties that have remained unfulfilled, and if all of them cannot possibly be fulfilled he should try to make amends to the extent that he can. He should know that everyone of these is a claim with a claimant that would demand it of him in the other life in the hardest of conditions, and he would be unable to satisfy it without taking up the burden of others’ sins and exchanging his good deeds for the satisfaction of those claims. At that time, he will be helpless and destitute and have no way out for his relief.

My dear, let not Satan and the carnal self take hold of you and make the matter appear an insurmountable difficulty in your eyes and thus finish you off by making you refrain from tawbah. Do know that it is better to act in this regard even if to a small extent. If the unoffered prayers, fasts and atonements are many, if God’s unfulfilled duties are numerous and the people’s usurped rights are innumerable, if your sins are abundant and your vices are plenty, do not despair of God’s grace and’ do not lose hope in His mercy. God Almighty will facilitate your passage if you act to the extent of your capacity and He

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will show you the path of salvation. You should know that to despair of the mercy of God is the biggest of sins and I don’t think that any other sin has a more evil effect upon the soul.

A person that despairs of divine mercy, his heart is so full of gloom and he becomes so unbridled that nothing can correct him. Beware, lest you despair of God’s mercy and consider sins and their consequences as insurmountable. God’s mercy is greater than everything and encompasses all things, and God’s justice is not bound by conditions. What were you, to begin with? In the void of nothingness, when there was no question of capacity or worthiness, God, the Supreme and the Glorious, endowed you with the bounty of being and the excellences of existence without any request or prayer or any worthiness or capacity on your part.

Then He provided you with His unlimited bounties and His unending favors, subjecting all the creatures to you. Even now your condition is not worse than absolute nothingness and pure non-being. Moreover, God has promised mercy and forgiveness. Take a step forward towards His Holy threshold and He will Himself assist you by all means. If you cannot make amends for the return of His rights, He will overlook your failure. If you cannot satisfy the rights of others, He will compensate for it. And you have already heard the story of the young grave-opener during the times of the Messenger of Allah

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

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

Let it be known to you that everyone of the stations (manazil) of the wayfarers has stages (maratib)which differ in accordance with the state of their hearts. If the penitent person wants to attain to its perfect degree, after having attended to the omissions - i.e. after having made good for the neglect of the duties-he should now attend to the accretions also. That is, he must now take up the spiritual accretion acquired during the days of sinfulness.

That takes place by completely wiping out the physical and spiritual effects produced in the realm of the self so that the soul recovers its former refinement and its primordial, natural spirituality by a process of thorough purification. As you already

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know, every sin and pleasure produces an effect upon the soul in the same way as the body too derives nourishment from some of them. Hence the penitent person should with manly courage and determination exterminate all those effects and their traces through physical and spiritual austerities, as taught by Mawla ‘Ali (A).

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

Hence it is necessary for the wayfarers of the Hereafterly path and the penitent from sins to make the soul taste the pain of austerities and worship. If a night was spent in sin and licentiousness, that must be compensated with a night’s watch devoted to the worship of God. If a day was spent in corporeal pleasures, that must be compensated with fasts and appropriate devotional rites. This is necessary so that the soul may be completely purged of the effects arid traces of the attachments arising from the love of the world. If this is

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done, tawbah, of course, becomes perfect arid the soul’s primordial brilliance returns to it.

Throughout the course of such exercises he must contemplate and meditate upon, the consequences of sin, the severity of God Almighty’s might, the precision of the Balance of deeds, and the intensity of the chastisement of Barzakh and Resurrection. He must understand and make his self and heart understand that all these things are consequences and forms of one’s vicious deeds, of opposition to the King of kings. It is hoped that after this knowledge and reflection the soul will loath sins and detest them with a complete and total hatred, thus attaining the intended result of tawbah, which now becomes perfect and complete.

Those two stages thus are what make the station of tawbah perfect and complete. Of course, when man at first wishes to enter the station of tawbah, he must not think that he is required to reach the last of stages, so that the path appears to him to be full of difficulty and hardship and he decides to leave off once for all. To whatever extent the wayfarer of the path of Hereafter is able to traverse this path, it is good and desirable to that extent. After that, when he sets out on the path, God Almighty makes the journey easy for him.

Hence the difficulty of the journey must not stop one from setting out towards his destination. For the goal is very great and important, and once one understands

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the greatness of the goal the hardships of the path become easy and bearable. Tell me, what goal is higher than eternal salvation, joy and bless? What peril is greater than eternal wretchedness and damnation? By shunning tawbah or postponing it and delaying it one may subject oneself to eternal wretchedness, unending punishment and everlasting damnation, and by performing it one may obtain absolute felicity and become the beloved of God. Hence if the goal is so great, why should one be scared of a few days’ hardship?

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

The Result Of Istighfar

Of the things in respect of which it is necessary for the penitent person to act is taking refuge in the forgiveness of God Almighty and attainment of the state of istighfar. Openly and secretly, mournfully and pleadingly, in solitude, with lamentation, tears and wails of woe, he should implore the forgiveness of His Sacred Essence to cover his sins and wipe out their consequences.

Of course, the

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forgivefulness and the veiling grace of that Sacred Essence implies the covering of defects and forgiveness of the sins’ consequences. And since the spiritual forms of deeds are like a man’s offspring, or something even more closely linked to him, and since the reality of tawbah and the form of istighfar is tantamount to disowning and cursing (li’an), God Almighty, since He is the All-forgiving and the Veiler, dissociates those offsprings of the penitent from him on account of his li’an and separates them from him.

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

یُنْسِی مَلَکَیْهِ مَا کَتَبَا عَلَیْهِ مِنَ الذُّنُوبِ.

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

And possibly God Almighty’s ‘inspiring’ the bodily members and organs, as well as the earth’s locations, to conceal the sins, as mentioned in the noble tradition, is the same as the erasing of the sins from their memory. It is also possible that it means a command to abstain from giving testimony. Or perhaps that which is meant is the obliteration of the effects of sins from bodily members, whose presence amounts to their existential witness, so that if one did not perform tawbah every one of his organs,

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either with the tongue of speech or condition, would bear testimony to his deeds.

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

On The Interpretation Of Tawbah Nasuh

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

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

Another interpretation is that tawbah nasuh is a tawbah which is done purely (khalis) for God’s sake, in the same way as pure honey free from wax is called

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‘asal nasuh. And sincerity means that the remorse should be on account of the ugliness of sins or because they are contrary to God’s good pleasure, not for the fear of hellfire.

The honorable researcher al-Tusi has ruled in the Tajrid that a remorse felt for sins on account of the fear of hellfire is not tawbah at all.

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

According to yet another interpretation, ‘nasuh’ here is an attribute of the penitent and is linked to tawbah in a metaphorical manner. That is, tawbah nasuh is a tawbah whose performer counsels and advises himself to perform it as perfectly and completely as it is worthy of being performed until the effects of sins are totally purged from the heart, which is attained by making