Scholars differ about the relation of “bā'” [ب] in the Bismillāh 'ir-Rahmān 'ir-Rahīm. Each one of them says something about it according to his way of thinking, knowledge and Gnosticism. For example, men of letters relate it to the entry “beginning” [ibtidā'] or “seeking help” [isti'ānat]. As to some narratives to the effect that Bismillāh means: “I seek help [from Allah],” it is either in accordance with the common taste, as is very much current in the hadīths, and the difference of many hadīths is ascribed to this predicate, and it is thus that Imām ar-Ridā ('a) explained Bismillāh to mean: “I put on myself a simah (mark) of Allah's,”1 or “seeking help” denotes too delicate a meaning to be understood by the common people, as it includes the secret of tawhīd in a subtler way.
Some people of knowledge say that it refers to “appeared” [zahara], that is: “Existence appeared by Bismillāh.”2 This is in accordance with the people of knowledge, sulūk and Gnosticism, who say that all beings, the atoms of existence and the invisible and visible worlds are the manifestations of the all-embracing Name of Allah, i.e. “The Greatest Name.” Consequently, “name,” which means a sign, a mark, or height and elevation, is Allah's effusive and actual manifestation, which is called “Effusive Emanation” [fayd-i munbasit] and “luminous annexation” [idāfa-i ishrāqī], because, according to this conduct, the whole of the House of Realization, as from the abstract intellects down to the lowest degrees of existence, are the phenomenalizations [ta'ayyunāt] of this emanation [fayd] and the descents [tanazzulāt] of this grace [latīfah].
This conduct is supportable by many noble divine āyahs and honorable hadīths of the infallible and purified Ahl al-Bayt ('a), such as the noble hadīth in al-Kāfī which says: “Allah created the Will [mashiyyat] through the Will itself, then He created all the things through Will.”3 This honorable hadīth is interpreted according to the opinion of each interpreter's creed. The most obvious one is that which is in conformity with the creed saying that “Will” means, here, the Will in Action, which is the “Effusive Emanation,” and the “things” are the stages of existence, and which are the phenomena [ta'ayyunāt] and the descents [tanazzulāt] of this grace.
So, the hadīth will thus mean that Allah, the Exalted, has created the Will of Act which is the shadow [zill] of the Old Essential Will through the Will itself, without intermediation, and the other creatures of the invisible and visible worlds have been created in the wake of that. Yet, Sayyid Muhaqqiq Dāmād (may his grave be sanctified), a great scholar and strict researcher as he was, interpreted this noble hadīth4 in a strange way. Similarly, the explanation of the late Fayd (may Allah have mercy upon him) is also far from being correct.5
However, “Name” is the very manifestation of Act, with which this House of Realization is realized (actualized). The term “Name,” referring to real things, is frequently noticed to be used by Allah, His Messenger and the infallible Ahl al-Bayt, who said: “We are the Beautiful Names.”6
In the noble invocations one frequently recites: “By Your Name in which you manifested to so and so.”7
It is possible that the Bismillāh at the opening of each sūrah belongs to the same sūrah. For example, the Bismillāh of the blessed sūrah of al-Hamd belongs to the sūrah itself. This opinion coincides with the gnostic taste and the way of the people of knowledge, as it is to say that the praise of the praisers and the eulogy of the eulogists point to the self-subsistence of the Name “Allah.”
Therefore, the tasmiyah comes as a preliminary to all words and acts which is an act of religious supererogation and it is to remind that whatever word or act done by man is by the self-subsistence of the divine Name, since all the particles of existence are the phenomena of “Allah's Name,” and, in a way, they themselves are “Allah's Names.” On this basis, the meaning of the Basmalah, according to the majority, is different in each sūrah, each word and each act.
The jurisprudents say that the Bismillāh must be defined for each sūrah, that is, if for a sūrah a Bismillāh was recited, the next sūrah cannot be commenced with that same Bismillāh. From the juristic point of view, this is not without reason, as, actually, it is reasonable within the scope of this research. But, considering the vanishing of multiplicities in the Greatest Name of Allah, all Bismillāhs have a single meaning.
These two opinions are also applied to the stages of existence and the stations of invisibility and visibility. In the view of multiplicity and seeing the phenomena, all the multiplied beings, the stages of existence and the phenomena of the world are the different names of the Beneficent, the Merciful, the Powerful and the Gracious.
In the view of the vanishing of multiplicities and the effacement of the lights of existence in the eternal light of the Sacred Emanation [fayd-i muqaddas], there is nothing except the Sacred Emanation [fayd-i muqaddas] and the All-Embracing Name of Allah. Both of these two opinions are also present in the Divine Names and Attributes. According to the first opinion, the state of Unity [wāhidiyyat] is the state of multiple Names and Attributes, as all multiplicities are from Him.
According to the second opinion, there is no name and form [ism wa rasm] except the Greatest Name of Allah. These two opinions are wise and thought upon. But if the view became gnostic through opening the doors of the heart, and through the steps of conduct and cordial austerity, Allah, the Exalted, will appear in the hearts of its possessors through His manifestations in Act, Name and Essence, sometimes in the Attribute of multiplicity and sometimes in the Attribute of Unity.
The Glorious Qur'an refers to these manifestations, both overtly, as in His saying:
“And when his Lord manifested (His light) to the mountain, He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down senseless,”8
and covertly, as in the scenes witnessed by Ibrāhīm ('a) and the Messenger of Allah (s), which are referred to in the sūrahs al-An'ām and an-Najm as well as in the narratives and the invocations of the infallibles ('a) which frequently refer to the same topic, especially in the great du'ā [invocation] called ”as-Simāt,” whose authenticity and text cannot be denied by the deniers, and it is accepted by both the Sunnīs and the Shī'ahs, and by both gnostics and common people.
In this noble invocation there are many high meanings and teachings smelling which raptures the gnostic's heart, and its breeze blows divine breath into the sālik's spirit. It says: “By the light of Your Face with which You appeared to the mountain and made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down senseless; by Your Glory which appeared at the mount of Tūr of Sīnā, with which You talked to Your servant and messenger, Moses the son of 'Imrān ('a); and by Your rise in Sa'īr and Your appearance on the mount Fārān…”9
In short, the sālik to Allah has to inform his heart, when reciting the Bismillāh, that all the outward and inward beings and all the visible and invisible worlds, are under the education of the Names of Allah, or rather, they are manifest by the manifestation of the Names of Allah, and all his motions and stillness, and all the world's, are based on the self-existence of the Greatest Name of Allah.
So, his praises are for Allah, and his worship, obedience, monotheism, and sincerity are all because of the self-existence of the Name of Allah. It is by intense remembrance, which is the aim of worship, that this state, this divine grace, is established and fixed in his heart, as Allah, the Exalted, in His intimate meeting and sacred assembly, with His interlocutor, said:
“Verily I am Allah; there is no god but I; so worship Me and perform the salāt for My remembrance.”10
The objective of performing the salāt is, He said, to remember Him. After intense remembrance, another way of knowledge will be opened to the heart of the gnostic and he will be attracted to the world of Unity until the tongue of his heart recites: “Praise is for Allah by Allah,” and “You are as You praised Yourself,”11 and “I take refuge in You from You.”12
That was a summary of the relation of the “B” [bā'] in Bismillāh, and some information obtained from it. As to the secrets of the “B” [bā'], and the dot under the “B” [bā'] of Bismillāh, which, in its innermost, refers to the 'Alawian position of guardianship, and the state of the Qur'anic Collective Union [jam' ul-jam'], they need a wider scope to explain.
As regards the truth of the Name, it has an invisible station, an invisible of the invisible, and it has a secret, a secret of the secret, a state of manifestation and a manifestation of the manifestation. The Name is the mark ['alāmat] of Allah and is vanished in His Sacred Essence. So, any name which is nearer to the horizon of the Unity, and farther from the world of multiplicity, is more complete in nomination [nameness = ismiyyat]; and the most complete name is that which is innocent from multiplicities, even the multiplicity of knowledge, and that is the invisible manifestation of “Ahmadian Oneness” [ahadī-yi ahmadī] in the Essence [hadrati-yi dhāt] by the state of the “Holiest Emanation” [fayd-i aqdas], which may be what was referred to by the noble āyah:
“… Or closer still”.13
Then there is the manifestation by the Greatest Name of Allah in the Unity [hadrat-i wāhidiyyat]; then there is the manifestation by the “Holy Emanation” [fayd-i muqaddas]; then there are the manifestations by the attributes of multiplicity in the essences [hadarāt-i ayān], etc. till the last stage of the House of Realization. The writer has already explained this brief in Misbāh al-Hidāyah14 and in the exegesis of Du'ā' us-Sahar.15
“Allah” is the state [maqām] of appearance in the “Holy Emanation” if by “Name” the existential individuations [ta'ayyunāt-i wujūdiyyah] are meant, in which case applying “Allah” to it as a union between the manifest and the manifestation, and the vanishing of the Name in the Named, is not objectionable. Perhaps, the āyahs
“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth,16
“And He it is who in the heaven and in the earth is God,”17
Are a reference to this state and evidence proving the said application. It is the state of Unity [wāhidiyyat] and the Union [jam'] of the Names. In other words, it is the state of the Greatest Name if by “Name” the state of manifestation by the “Holy Emanation” is intended. This is probably more obvious than the other possibilities. Or it is the state of the Essence or the state of the “Holiest Emanation” if by “Name” the “Greatest Name” is intended. Consequently, the states of “Beneficent” [rahmān] and “Merciful” [rahīm] are different, according to these possibilities, as is clear.
It is possible that “Beneficent” and “Merciful” are adjectives for “Name,” or they may by adjectives for “Allah,” but they are more suitable to be adjectives for “Name,” because in praising they are adjectives for “Allah,” and thus, it will be immune from repetition, although their being adjectives for “Allah” is also justifiable.
In repetition there is, however, a point of eloquence. If we take them to be adjectives for “Name,” it supports the idea that by “Name” the Essential Names [asmā'-i 'ayniyyah] are intended, because only the Essential Names can bear the adjectives of “Beneficent” and “Merciful.” So, if by “Name” the Essential Name and the manifestation in the state of Collectivity are intended, “Beneficent” and “Merciful” will be attributes of the Essence, which, in the manifestations by the state of Unity, are confirmed for “the Name of Allah,” and the mercy of the Beneficent and the Merciful in Act is of their demotions [tanazzulāt] and appearances.
And if by the “Name” the collective manifestation in Act [tajallī-yi jam'ī-yi fi'lī] is intended, which is the state of Will, the “Beneficence” and “Mercifulness” are attributes of Act. So, the mercy of the “Beneficence” [rahmāniyyat] is the expanse of the origin of the existence, which is general and for all beings, but it is of the particular attributes of Allah, because in expanding the origin of the existence, Allah, the Exalted, has no partner, and the hands of other beings are short of having the mercy of creating: “There is no effecter in the [world of] existence except Allah, and there is no God in the House of Realization but Allah.”
Regarding the mercy of “Mercifulness” [rahīmiyyat], of whose exudations [rashahāt] is the guidance of the guides on the road, it is especially for the fortunate and the high dispositions, but it is of the general attributes, of which other beings have their share, too, as it has already been explained that the mercy of Mercifulness is of the general mercies, and that the wicked [ashqiyā] have no share of it because of their own evils, not because of any limitation.
Therefore, guidance and invitation are for the entire human family, as is confirmed by the Glorious Qur'an. However, another opinion says that the mercy of the “Mercifulness” belongs only to Allah, and no one else has any share of it. The noble narratives, taking into consideration the different opinions and estimations, also differ in explaining the mercy of Mercifulness.
Sometimes it is said: “The 'Beneficent' is a particular Name for a general Attribute, and the 'Merciful' is a general Name for a particular Attribute.”18 In another instance it is said: “(He is) Beneficent to all His creatures, and Merciful to the believers in particular.”19 It is also said: “O Beneficent of this world, and Merciful of the Hereafter,”20 or “O Beneficent and Merciful of this world and the Hereafter.”
Men of letters say that Rahmān (Beneficent) and Rahīm (Merciful) are derived from rahmah (mercy) and that both denote hyperbole, but in Rahmān the exaggeration is more than it is Rahīm. Analogy requires that Rahīm should have preceded Rahmān, but since Rahmān is as a personal proper name and cannot be ascribed to other beings, it thus came first. Some say that both have the same meaning, and the repetition is for mere confirmation.
The gnostic taste according to the highest levels of which the Qur'an has been revealed requires that Rahmān should precede Rahīm, because the Qur'an, according to the people of heart, is the descendant of the divine manifestations, and the written form bearing the divine Beautiful Names, and, as ar-Rahmān is the most all-embracing of the divine Names next to the Greatest Name, and as the people of knowledge are certain that the manifestations by the embracing Names [asmā'-i muhītah] are prior to the manifestations by the embraced Names [asmā'-i muhātah], and as every Name that is more embracing, its manifestation is prior, too, therefore, the first manifestation in the Unity [hadrat-i wāhidiyyat] is the manifestation in the Greatest Name of Allah.
Then comes the manifestation in the state of the Beneficence and after that comes the manifestation in the state of Mercifulness [rahīmiyyat]. Similarly, in the manifestation of the appearance in Act, it is the manifestation in the state of “Will,” which is the Greatest Name in this scene [mashhad] and the appearance of the Greatest Name of the Essence that has priority over all manifestations. The manifestation in the state of Beneficence which embraces all the beings of the invisible and visible worlds and to which the āyah:
“My mercy encompasses all things”21
Refers is to precede other manifestations, as the saying, “His mercy precedes His anger”22 refers to that in some aspects.
Generally speaking, as the Bismillāh, according to the inside and the spirit, is the form of the manifestations in Act, and according to the secret and the secret of the secret, it is the form of the manifestations of Names, or rather of Essence, and these manifestations appear first in the state of “Allah,” then in the state of the “Beneficent,” and then in the state of the “Merciful,” the pronounced and written forms should also be like that so as to be in conformity with the divine system.
Regarding the “Beneficent” and the “Merciful” in the noble Sūrah of al-Hamd, which come later than “The Lord of the worlds,” it may be because in the Bismillāh the attention is directed to the appearance of the existence from the hidden and invisible places of existence. In the noble sūrah the attention is paid to the return and the inside.
However, in this possibility there is a problem. Maybe it refers to the comprehensiveness of the mercy of “Beneficence” and “Mercifulness,” or there may be another point. In any case, the said point concerning the Bismillāh deserves to be believed in, and probably this is out of the blessings of the Mercy of the Mercifulness bestowed upon the heart of this humble person. Praise be to Him for what He has favored.
The formalist scholars say that ar-Rahmān and ar-Rahīm are derived from ar-rahmah, implying compassion and kindness. Ibn 'Abbās (may Allah be pleased with him) is quoted to have said: “They are two compassionate words, one of which is more compassionate than the other: ar-Rahmān, the compassionate, and ar-Rahīm, the kind to His servants providing them with livelihood and favors.”23 As kindness and compassion require an emotion [infi'āl], certain interpretation is given for ascribing them to the Sacred Essence, and thus that is regarded allegorical [majāzī].
Some others, concerning such attributes in general, say: “Take the results and leave the preliminaries.”24 Regarding ascribing them to Allah, the Exalted, it is based on the effects and acts, not on the beginnings and attributes. So, the meaning of ar-Rahīm and ar-Rahmān as ascribed to Allah is the One Who treats His servants mercifully. The Schismatics [mu'tazilah] regard all Allah's attributes as said above, or something like it, and, consequently, attributing them to Allah is also allegorical.
But it is, however, unlikely to be allegorical, especially in respect of ar-Rahmān, which, if admitted to be allegorical, would entail accepting something quite strange. That is, this word is coined for a meaning which is not allowed to be used allegorically and could not be. In fact, it will be an allegory with no reality. Think of it. People of research, in reply to such objections, say that words are coined for general meanings and absolute facts.
So, to be confined to compassion and kindness is not included in what the word “mercy” was coined for, but the common mind has fabricated this attachment, as otherwise it has nothing to do with the coining [wad']. This, as it seems, is far from research, because the one who coined it was obviously one of these common people, and the abstract meanings and the absolute facts have not been considered.
Yes, if the coiner [wādi'] was Allah, the Exalted, or the prophets, according to divine revelation and inspiration, it would be a justification. This, however, is not confirmed, and the external form of this speech is questionable, yet, it is not clear whether this external form was what the men of research intended. It is even possible to say that although the coiner [wādi'] of the words may not have considered, during the coining, the general abstract meanings, yet what had actually been intended for the words were the very general abstract meanings.
For example, the coiner of the word “light” had naturally in mind all kinds of accidental ['aradiyyah] and sensible lights, as he knew nothing about what is behind these lights. But that which the word “light” denotes is the luminosity, not the mixture of light and darkness. If he was informed that those accidental and limited lights are not pure, but mixed with darkness and torpidity, and if he was asked whether he had intended the word to denote the luminosity or the mixture of light and darkness, he would certainly say that he had intended its luminosity, and the darkness never occurred to him in this respect.
We likewise know that the person who coined the word “fire” he thought of nothing other than the worldly fires, and that what made it to occur to him was those fires of this world, and he knew nothing about
“The fire kindled by Allah which rises above the hearts,”25
More so if the coiner did not believe in the other world. Nevertheless, this occurrence cannot be a means of limiting the fact, as “fire” refers to the quality of the fire, not that the coiner tried to abstract the meanings, such that it appears strange and far-fetched. But, actually, we say that the words denote the meanings for which they were coined, without any particular limit. Therefore, there is no exception in the case, and the freer the meaning from the aliens and strangers, the nearer it will be to the truth, and farther from the shortcomings of allegory.
Take, for example, the word “light” which was coined for being manifest by itself and for manifesting the other, despite the fact that using it for the accidental and mundane lights is not far from the truth, because by using it for them, the limits and the mixing with darkness are not intended, only the self-manifestation and the manifestativeness are intended.
But using it for the heavenly lights whose appearances are more perfect, nearer to the horizon of the intrinsicness [dhātiyyah] and stronger in manifestativeness in quantity and quality, and whose mixing with darkness and blemishes is less is nearer to the truth; and using it for the Lights of Majesty [anwār-i jabarūtiyyah] is, for the said reason, closer to the truth; and also using it for the Sacred Essence of Allah, the Most High, Who is the Light of the Lights and free from all aspects of darkness, and is mere Pure Light, is the very pure and absolute truth.
It can even be said that if “Light” has been coined for “the apparent by itself and manifesting the other,” using it for other than Allah, the Exalted, is a reality to the partial intellects, but to the intellects supported (by Allah), and to the people of knowledge, it is allegorical, and it is real only when used for Allah, the Exalted.
Likewise are the words that are coined for concepts of perfection, such as meanings like existence and perfection.
Consequently, we say that in “Beneficent,” “Merciful,” “Compassionate,” “Kind” and the like, there is an aspect of perfection and completeness, and an aspect of emotion and shortcoming, and these words have been devised for that aspect of perfection, which is the origin of that truth. As regards the emotional aspects, which are of the requisites of the growth [nash'ah] and of the strange and alien things of the truth, which, after the descent of these truths in the places of possibility and the low mundane worlds, are concomitant and tangled with them like the darkness which mingles with the light in the descending growth [nash'ah] have nothing to do with the meaning of the object.
So, using it for a Being Who possesses the Absolute Perfection, and who is innocent of all aspects of emotion and shortcoming, is the mere pure truth. This explanation, in addition to its being close to the taste of the people of knowledge, suits the conscience of the people of literalism, too.
Hence, it has become clear that such attributes of perfection, which have by descending in some growths [nasha'āt], been mixed and interrelated with another matter of which the Sacred Essence of Allah is innocent are not allegorical when ascribed to Allah, the Exalted, in their absolute concept. And Allah is the Guide.
When He says: “Alhamdu lillāh” (All praise is for Allah), it means that all forms of praise are exclusively for the Divine Sacred Essence. So, do know, dear, that under this noble word is the secret of the particular tawhīd, or rather the most particular one.
The fact that all forms of praise, that the praisers offer, exclusively belong to Allah, the Exalted, is quite obvious, by evidence, to the people of wisdom and the well-versed in high philosophy, because it is proved that the entire House of Realization is the Expanded Shadow [zill-i munbasit] of Allah and His Flowing Emanation [fayd-i mabsūl], and that all the apparent and hidden favors, whoever the donor may be, as it appears and as the common people think, are Allah's, and no being participates with Him.
Even the preparatory participation in this respect is the opinion of the people of the common philosophy, not the high philosophy. So, as praise is offered for favors, gifts and beneficence, and as there is no benefactor in the House of Realization except Allah, all praises belong to Him. And also as there are no Beauty and no Beautiful save His Beauty and Him, all praises return to Him.
In other words, every praise and extolment by any praiser or extoller is because of a favor and perfection on the other side. As to the place and the occasion of the favor and the perfection that diminishes and limits these, they have no participation in the praise and extolment; rather they are incompatible and contradictory. So, all praises and extolments return to the part [hazz] of Divinity, which is perfection and beauty, not to that of the creature, which is deficiency and limitation.
In other words still, eulogizing the Perfect and thanking and praising the Benefactor [mun'im] are of the God-given dispositions, which are in the innermost of all beings. Among other divine dispositions is the feeling of disgust with the shortcomings, imperfections and what decreases the favor. The absolute favor which is free from all fault, and the complete Beauty and Perfection which are innocent of all kinds of deficiency, exclusively belong to Allah, while the other beings decrease the absolute favors and the absolute beauty and limit them, not that they increase and support them.
Thus, all peoples are disposed to thank and praise the Sacred Essence of Allah, and disregard the other beings, except those beings who, according to their journey through the kingdoms of perfection and the towns of love, have been annihilated in the Glorious Essence of Allah, since loving them and praising them are the very loving of Allah and praising Him. “Loving Allah's favorites is loving Allah.”
Up to here we have been explaining the positions of the ordinary people who are still within the veils of multiplicity and have not yet got rid of all sorts of hidden, and deeply hidden, polytheism, nor have they reached the perfect degree of sincerity and purity.
But, according to the knowledge ['irfān] of those whose hearts have been annihilated in certain states, all the favors and all perfection, beauty and majesty are the form of the manifestation of the Essence, and all praises and thanks belong to the Sacred Essence of Allah, or rather praise and thanks are from Himself to Himself,26 as is referred to by the connection of Bismillāh (In the Name of Allah) to al-hamdu lillāh (all praise is for Allah).
Know that the sālik to Allah, the striver in the way of Allah, should not be satisfied with the scientific limit of this knowledge [ma'ārif], spending his whole life on induction [istidlāl], which is veil, or rather the greatest veil, for to cover this distance with “wooden legs,”27 or even by the “bird of Solomon,”28 is not possible. It is the valley of the holy men and the stage of the humble [wārastegān]. Without
“Taking off the shoes”29
Of loving rank, honor, women, children, and, unless he gives up dependence and inclination towards other than Allah, he will not be able to step into the sacred valley, which is the place of the sincere ones and the godly men. If the sālik set his foot in this valley with the truths of sincerity, kicking off multiplicity and this world which are fancy upon fancy should there be in him any remnants of selfishness, a hand from the invisible world would assist him, and his mountain of Oneness would be shattered by the divine manifestation, and he would undergo a state of “senselessness” and “annihilation.”
These states in the hard hearts which have no share and no information except concerning this world, and which know nothing but the Satanic conceit seem irregular and abnormal, and they ascribe them to fantasies, despite the fact that the annihilation which we now have in nature and in this world is stranger and more wondrous than the annihilation which the people of gnosticism and sulūk claim.
We are negligent of all the invisible worlds, which, from all aspects, are more apparent than this world, or rather of the Essence and Attributes of the Sacred Essence to Whom appearance exclusively belongs, while to prove those worlds and the Sacred Essence of Allah, the Most High, we cling to evidences and induction.
Bewilderment upon bewilderment comes from this story,
The swoon of the elite is the meanest (or the most special).30
If the word akhass is written with the letter sād (ص) there can be not so much bewilderment, because the annihilation of the imperfect in the perfect is natural and is in accordance with the divine law. But the bewilderment is when the word akhass is written with the letter sīn (س), as this swoon and the annihilation are happening to us all. Our ears and eyes are so absorbed and annihilated in nature that we are completely unaware of the uproars of the invisible world.
Be informed that men of letters and the formalists say that “praising” [hamd] is thanking [thanā'] by the tongue for a voluntary favor [jamīl], and, as they are unaware of all tongues except this fleshy tongue, they regard all praising and glorifying Allah, or rather all the talks of the Sacred Essence, to be a sort of figurative speech. They likewise take the talking, the praising and glorifying Allah by all beings to be allegorical. So, they regard Allah's talking to be creating talking, while in the other beings they regard praising and glorifying to be genetic [takwīnī] and intrinsic [dhātī].
They think that speaking is, in fact, exclusively confined to their own species, thinking that the Sacred Essence of Allah, the Most High, and other beings, are unable to speak, or rather they are God forbid! Dumb. They take this to be declaring the innocence of the Sacred Essence, whereas this is a limitation [tahdīd], or even a disruption [ta'tīl], and Allah is innocent of such innocence, as most of the glorifications of the common people are limitation and assimilation [tashbīh].
We have already explained how the words were coined for the general and absolute meanings. Now we add: We are not, however, very keen on confirming that the divine facts should necessarily come true under linguistic terminological facts, as it is the correctness of the application [itlāq] and the intellectual truth that are the criterion in such discussions, even if the linguistic fact is also proved, according to the former discussion.
Therefore, we say that language, speaking, speech, writing, book, praising, and thanking are of diverse degrees in proportion to the existential growths [nasha'āt-i wujūdiyyah], as each one corresponds to its own growth [nash'ah] and degree. And praising [hamd], in each instance, is for a favor [jamīl] and glorifying [madh] is for a beauty and a perfection. So, when Allah, the Most High, according to His Self-Knowledge ['ilm-i dhātī], saw, in the Invisible Ipseity [huwiyyat], His Beautiful Beauty, in the most complete degree of knowing and seeing, He was delighted [mubtahij] at His Beautiful Essence at the highest degree of delight [ibtihāj].
So, He manifested in the eternal manifestation and at the highest degree of manifestation in the Essence [hadrat-i dhāt] for the Essence. This manifestation and disclosing the hidden secret and the “Self-Argument” [muqāri'at-i dhātiyyah] is a “Self-Speech” [kalām-i dhātī], which takes place with the tongue of the Essence in the Unseen [hadrat-i ghayb]. Witnessing this spoken manifestation is hearing the Essence.
This praising of the Essence for the Essence of Allah is Allah's praise which the other beings are incapable of understanding, such that the sacred person of the Sealing Prophet, the most honorable and the nearest to Allah, confesses his incapability and says: “I cannot count the praises for You, You are as You have praised Yourself.”31
It is known that counting the praises is a branch of knowing the Perfection and Beauty, but as the complete knowledge of the absolute Beauty is not possible, similarly the real praise cannot be performed. The utmost knowledge [ma'rifat] of the people of knowledge and Gnosticism is to confess incapability.
The people of knowledge say that Allah, the Exalted, praises and glorifies Himself with five tongues, which are the tongue of the Essence as such, the tongue of the Unseen Oneness [ahadiyyat-i ghayb], the tongue of the Collective Unity [wāhidiyyat-i jam'iyyah], the tongue of the Distinct Names [asmā'-i tafsīliyyah], and the tongue of the entities [a'yān]. These are other than the tongue of manifestness, the first of which is the tongue of Volition [mashiyyat], down to the end of the ranks of the individuations, which are the tongue of the existential multiplicities.
Know that all the beings have a share, or even shares, of the invisible world, which is mere life running throughout the entire House of Existence. This subject is proved to the people of high philosophy by proofs and to the people of heart and knowledge by witnessing and eyeing. The noble divine āyahs and the hadīths of the guardians of the revelation ('a) refer to it quite explicitly.
The veiled people of the common philosophy and literalism, who could not recognize the speech of the beings, resort to interpretation and justification. It is quite strange that the people of literalism, who invalidate the people of philosophy for interpreting the Book of Allah according to their own understanding, they themselves resort, in this respect, to interpreting so many of the plain āyahs and the outright correct hadīths, just because they could not recognize the talking of the beings, even without having a proof at their disposal.
So, they interpret the Qur'an without any proof and only because of improbability [istib'ād]. At any rate, the House of Existence is the origin of life and the truth of understanding and consciousness. The glorification of the beings is pronunciational, conscious and volitional, not genetic, innate, as the veiled claim. All beings are acquainted with the state [maqām] of Allah, the Most High, in proportion to their share of being.
Now, as there is no being busier with nature and more indulgent in multiplicity than man, he, thus, is more wrapped in veils than other beings, unless he takes off his garment of being a human, and pierces the veils of multiplicity and otherness, so as to be able to witness, unveiled, the Beauty of the Beautiful, in which case, his praise and glorification would be more comprehensive than all praises and glorifications, and he would be worshipping Allah with all His divine affairs and all His Names and Attributes.
Know that the noble saying [kalimah]: “All praise is for Allah,” according to what had already been said, is of the all-inclusive sayings [kalimāt], and, if with its delicacies and truths one praises Allah, he will be performing the most that is in the capacity of a human being to perform. Hence the noble hadīths refer to it. It is narrated that Imām al-Bāqir ('a) once came out of a house and found that his mount had gone.
He said: “If I find the mount, I will praise Allah as praising deserves.” When his mount was found, he mounted, tidied his clothes and said: “All praise is for Allah.”32 The Messenger of Allah (s) is quoted to have said: “There is no god but Allah” is half of a scale and 'All praise is for Allah' fills the other half of the scale.”33 This is because of what we have said that “All praise is for Allah” includes monotheism, too.
The Messenger of Allah (s) is also quoted to have said: “The servant's saying, 'All praise is for Allah' is heavier, in His scales, than seven heavens and seven earths.”34 He (s) is also quoted to have said: “If Allah gave to one of His servants the entire world, and then that servant said: 'All praise is for Allah,; that saying would be better than what he had been given.”35 Further quotation from him (s) says: “Nothing is more loved by Allah than one's saying: 'All praise is for Allah,' as Allah Himself has so praised Himself.36 There are many similar hadīths.
Allah, the Exalted, said: “Rabbi 'l-'ālamīn” (the Lord of the worlds). If “rabb” means: “the Most High” [muta'ālī], “the Constant” [thābit] and “the Master” [sayyid], then it is of the Names of the Essence. If it means: “the Possessor” [mālik], “the Owner” [sāhib], “the Victorious” [ghālib] and “the Omnipotent” [qāhir], then it is of the attributive Names. If it means: “the Educator” [murabbī], “the Benefactor” [mun'im], and “the Completer” [mutammim], then it is of the Names of Acts.
”Al-'Ālamīn” (the worlds), if it means: “Everything other than Allah,” which covers all the stages of existence and the stations [manāzil] of the invisible and visible, then we have to take “rabb” to be of the Names of Attributes. If “world” is “the visible world” ['ālam-i mulk], which gradually takes place and reaches its perfection, then “rabb” means a Name of Act. At any rate, here it does not mean a Name of Essence. Maybe, in a way, “Ālamīn” refers to the visible worlds, which attain their suitable perfection under the divine education [tarbiyat] and management [instruction = tamshiyat]. In this case the word “rabb” means educator, being one of the Names of Acts.
Do know that in this paper we refrain from explaining the linguistic, literary and structural aspects of the āyahs, because others have mostly handled them. Certain points that have not been handled at all, or inaccurately handled, we shall properly deal with them.
It must be noted that the Names of Essence, Attributes and Acts, which have been referred to, are according to the terms of the people of knowledge. A learned man of the people of knowledge, in Inshā' ad-Dawā'ir has divided the Names into the Names of Essence, the Names of Attributes, and the Names of Acts. He has said:
“The Names of Essence are: Allāh, ar-Rabb (the Lord), al-Malik (the King), al-Quddūs (the Holy), as-Salām (the Peace), al-Mu'min (the Faithful), al-Muhaymin (the Protector), al-'Azīz (the Almighty), al-Jabbār (the Omnipotent), al-Mutakabbir (the Haughty), al-'Alī (the Exalted), al-'Azīm (the Tremendous), az-Zāhir (the Outward), al-Bātin (the Inward), al-Awwal (the First), al-Ākhir (the Last), al-Kabīr (the Great), al-Jalīl (the Majestic), al-Majīd (The Glorious), al-Haqq (the Truth), al-Mubīn (the Manifest), al-Wājid (the Finder), al-Mājid (the Noble), as-Samad (the Everlasting Refuge), al-Muta'ālī (the Most High), al-Ghanī (the Independent), an-Nūr (the Light), al-Wārith (the Inheritor), Dhu 'l-Jalāl (the Owner of Majesty), and ar-Raqīb (the Watcher).
The Names of Attributes are: al-Hayy (the Living), ash-Shakūr (the Grateful), al-Qahhār (the Conqueror), al-Qāhir (the Subduer), al-Muqtadir (the All-Powerful), al-Qawiyy (the Strong), al-Qādir (the Able), ar-Rahmān (the Beneficent), ar-Rahīm (the Merciful), al-Karīm (the Generous), al-Ghaffār (the Forgiver), al-Ghafūr (the Forgiving), al-Wadūd (the Affectionate), ar-Ra'ūf (the Compassionate), al-Halīm (the Clement), as-Sabūr (the Patient), al-Barr (the Righteous), al-'Alīm (the Omniscient), al-Khabīr (the Aware), al-Muhsī (the Counter), al-Hakīm (the Wise), ash-Shahīd (the Witness), as-Samī' (the Hearer) and al-Basīr (the Seer).
The Names of Acts are: al-Mubdi' (the Beginner), al-Wakīl (the Guardian), al-Bā'ith (the Resurrector), al-Mujīb (the Responsive), al-Wāsi' (the Expansive), al-Hasīb (the Reckoner), al-Muqīt (the Nourisher), al-Hafīz (the Protector), al-Khāliq (the Creator), al-Bāri' (the Maker), al-Musawwir (the Shaper), al-Wahhāb (the Giver), ar-Razzāq (the Provider), al-Fattāh (the Opener), al-Qābid (the Restrainer), al-Bāsit (the Spreader), al-Khāfid (the Abaser), ar-Rāfi' (the Exalter), al-Mu'izz (the Honorer), al-Mudhill (the Humiliator), al-Hakīm (the Wise), al-'Ādil (the Just), al-Latīf (the Subtle), al-Mu'īd (the Restorer), al-Muhyī (the Life-Giver), al-Mumīt (the Death-Giver), al-Wāli (the Patron), at-Tawwāb (the Relenting, the Accepter of Repentance), al-Muntaqim (the Avenger), al-Muqsit (the Equitable), al-Jāmi' (the Comprehensive), al-Mughnī (the Enricher), al-Māni' (the Deterrent), ad-Dārr (the Harmful), an-Nāfi' (the Beneficial), al-Hādi (the Guide), al-Badī' (the Magnificent), and ar-Rashīd (the Prudent).37
Concerning these divisions it is said that although they are all Names of Essence, yet considering the appearance of the Essence, they are called the Names of Essence, and, considering the appearance of the Attributes or the Acts they are called the Names of Attributes or of Acts. That is, whichever of these is more apparent, they are named after it. Consequently, sometimes in a Name two or three aspects appear at the same time, in which case it is regarded as a Name of Essence, Attribute and Acts, or of two of these three, like ”ar-Rabb,” as has been said.
But this question does not come to suit the writer's taste, nor does it suit the gnostic taste. What is apparent in this sorting is that the criterion for these Names is that when the sālik with the steps of knowledge reaches the stage of complete annihilation in Acts, Allah, the Exalted, appears to his heart through the manifestations of Names of Acts. After the annihilation in Attributes, the manifestations will be in the Names of Attributes, and after the annihilation in Essence, the manifestations will be in the Names of Essence.
Should his heart have the ability of preservation after coming to sobriety, whatever he tells of his seeings of Acts would be Names of Acts. Similarly, whatever he tells of his seeing of Attributes would be Names of Attributes, and likewise the Names of Essence. There are, in this connection, details that do not suit these pages. That which is stated in the Inshā' ad-Dawā'ir is not correct according to its own criterion, as is obvious on having a look at the Names.
It can be said that these divisions of “the three Names” are referred to in the Glorious Qur'an, in the last noble āyahs of the sūrah of “al-Hashr.” Allah, the Exalted, says:
“He is Allah, other than whom there is no god, the Knower of the invisible and the visible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful,”38
Up to the end of the noble āyahs.
Perhaps the first of these noble āyahs refers to the Names of Essence, the second refers to the Names of Attributes and the third refers to the Names of Acts. Giving precedence to the Names of Essence over those of Attributes, and these over those of Acts, is according to the order of the facts of existence and of the divine manifestations, not according to the witnessings [mushāhadāt] of the people of witnessing [ashāb-i mushāhadah] and the manifestations in the hearts of the people of heart.
It should be realized that the noble āyahs have other secrets, but to mention them does not suit the situation. That the second āyah is the Names of Attributes, and the third is the Names of Actions, is quite clear.
That “the Knower of the invisible and the visible,” “the Beneficent” and “the Merciful” are of the Names of Essence, is based on the fact that “the invisible” and “visible” are of the internal and external Names, and “Beneficence” [rahmāniyyat] and “Mercifulness” [rahīmiyyat] are of the manifestations of “the Most Holy Emanation” [fayd-i aqdas], not of “the Holy Emanation” [fayd-i muqaddas]. Confining these Names to the remembrance of Allah, whereas “Living” [hayy], “Constant” [thābit] and “Lord” [rabb] seem nearer to the Names of Essence, is probably because of their comprehensiveness, as they are of the mothers of Names. And Allah knows better.
There is a great controversy about the word, the derivation and meaning of “al-'ālamīn,” (the worlds). Some say that “al-'ālamīn” is plural; covering all kinds of creation, material and abstract, and each kind is a world in itself. It is a plural that has no singular of its root. This is a well-known opinion.
Some others say that “'ālam” is passive participle and “'ālim” is active participle. So, “'ālamīn” means “ma'lūmīn” (the known). But, not only that this opinion has no proving evidence and is unlikely, it is also quite silly and irrelevant to say “rabb 'ul-ma'lūmīn” (the Lord of the known).
Some say that “'ālamīn” is derived from “'alāmah” (sign) which covers all beings, since everything is a sign and an āyah of the Sacred Essence. The letters “waw” (و) and “nūn” (ن) refer to the rational beings, giving them priority to the other beings.
Others say that it is derived from “'ilm” (knowledge). At any rate, regarding it to embrace all creation is correct, as it is justified to take it to cover the rational beings. But “'ālam” is used for everything other than Allah, and is also used for every individual or category. If the one who uses it for every individual and category is of the people of tradition and language, he considers every thing to be a sign of the Creator: “In every thing He has a sign…”39
And if he is a divine gnostic, he considers every being to be the appearance of the all-embracing Name covering all the truths, by way of the appearance of the Collective Oneness [ahadiyyat-i jam'] and the Secret of the Existence. According to this consideration, the entire world and every part of it, can be regarded as the Greatest Name in the state of the Collective Oneness. “The Names are all in all, and such are the signs.”
Consequently, the objection of the great philosopher, Sadr 'ul-Millat-i wad-Dīn [Sadr 'ul-Muta'allihīn] (may his soul be sanctified), to those like al-Baydāwī is applicable, because they have not tasted of this drink [school = mashrab]. But to the ways of the people of Gnosticism it is inapplicable. However, as the argument of al-Baydāwī and that of the philosopher, on this topic are too lengthy, we refrain from mentioning them. The interested readers may refer to the exegesis of the said late philosopher on Sūrah al-Fātihah.
If “ar-rabb” is of the Names of Attributes, meaning “Master” or “Owner” and the like, the meaning of “al-'ālamīn” may be “everything other than Allah,” whether the owned were the beings of the kingdom of the world, or the abstract invisible beings.
If it is of the Names of Acts as it apparently is the meaning of ”al-'ālamīn” will only be the kingdom of the visible world, as, in which case, ”ar-rabb” will mean “the Educator” a meaning which is of gradual effectiveness, while the abstract worlds are innocent of gradualness, though, to the writer, the spirit of “graduation” in the world of ”dahr” (eternity, perpetual duration) is, in a way, certain; and, in the same way, we have also proved the temporal contingency [hudūth-i zamānī], meaning the spirit of time and the eternity of graduation [dahriyyat-i tadrīj] in the abstract worlds. In the gnostic way, the temporal contingency is also proved for all worlds, but not in the same way as referred to by the theologians and the people of hadīth.
Do know that “praising” [hamd] is for a “favor” [jamīl]. From the noble āyah it is deduced that praising and extolment are confirmed for the state of the Greatest Name as the all-embracing Name [ism-i jāmi'], which has the state of being the Lord of the worlds, “the Beneficent,” “the Merciful” and “the Master of the Day of Judgment.” So, these noble Names, i.e. “Rabb,” ”Rahmān,” ”Rahīm” and “Mālik” should have an effective role in the praising. Later on, we shall explain in details Allah's saying: “Māliki yawm 'id-dīn” (The Master of the Day of Judgment). Now, we shall talk about the proportionality of the state of Divinity to “praising.” It is so from two aspects:
The first is that as the very praiser is a part of the “worlds,” or he may even be “a world” by himself, and from the point of view of the people of knowledge, each one of the beings is a world by itself, he praises Allah, for He, with the hand of divine education, has taken him out of weakness, deficiency, fear and the darkness of the mass of non-existence to strength, perfection, security and the luminous world of humanity.
He has also taken him past the corporeal, elemental, mineral, vegetable, and animal stations, under a system arranged according to self-and-substantial movements, and the dispositional and natural inclinations, to the station of humanity, which is the most honorable station of beings. Furthermore, He continues to educate him until he becomes what you can never imagine in your fancy.
“Then I become non-existent such non-existence that the organ says to me: “Our return is to Him.”40
The second is that educating [rearing = tarbiyat] the system of the kingdom of the world, such as the celestial spheres, elements, substances and accidentals, is preliminary to the existence of the perfect man, who is, in fact, the product of the juice ['usārah] of the world of realization and the ultimate end of the beings of the world, and he is, as such, the last product.
And, since the visible world moves according to the substantial self-movement, and this is a self-completing movement, wherever it ends, it would be the objective of creation and the end of the journey. If we look in a universal way at the universal body, [jism-i kull], universal nature, universal vegetable, universal animal and universal man [insān-i kull], we notice that man is the last product who has been created after the substantial self-movements of the world and they have ended in him.
So, the educating (rearing) hand of Allah, the Exalted, has been educating (rearing) man in all the world of realization and man is the first and the last.
That which has been said was about the minor Acts and according to the stages of existence, as otherwise, if taken according to the absolute Act, the Act of Allah, the Exalted, can have no objective except His own Sacred Essence, as is proved in its relevant instances. Should we look at the minor Acts, we would realize that the objective of creating Man is the absolute invisible world, as is stated in the Divine Sayings [qudsiyyāt]: “O son of Adam! I created all things for you, and I created you for Myself.”41
Allah in the Glorious Qur'an, addressing Moses, son of 'Imrān (peace be upon him and upon our Prophet and his progeny), says:
“I have made you for myself.”42
He also says: “And I chose you.”43 So, man is created for Allah and made for His Sacred Essence. From among all the beings man is the chosen and the elect. The destination of his journey is attaining the door of Allah, annihilation in the Essence of Allah, and sticking to the Court of Allah. His return [ma'ād] is to Allah, from Allah, in Allah and by Allah. In the Qur'an He says:
“Surely to Us is their return.”44
Other creatures return to Allah through Man, or rather their return is to Man, as it is stated in the Jāmi'ah invocation, in which some aspects of the states of guardianship are explained. It says: “The return of the creatures is to you and their reckoning is upon you.” It also says: “With you Allah opened and with you He closes,”45 and also in the noble āyah:
“Surely to Us is their return, and surely upon Us is their reckoning.”46
In the said invocation: “The return of the creatures is to you and their reckoning is upon you,” is one of tawhīd's secrets, referring to the fact that to return to the Perfect Man is to return to Allah, as the Perfect Man is absolutely annihilated and lasts by Allah's everlasting, having no individuality, I-ness and selfishness of his own, rather he is of the Beautiful Names and the Greatest Name, to which the Qur'an and the hadīths frequently refer.
The Qur'an contains such delicate points, facts, secrets, and subtleties about tawhīd that the minds of the people of knowledge are bewildered, and this is the great inimitability of this heavenly and luminous Book, besides its excellent syntax, graceful expression, wonderful elegance, miraculous style, the way of inviting and foretelling the unseen, perfecting the precepts, controlling and managing the family and the like, each one of which is independently extraordinary and beyond man's power.
It can even be said that the Glorious Qur'an's being distinguished for its eloquence as one of its inimitabilities well-known all over the world was because the early Arabs were famous for their eloquence, and, thus, they could understand only that aspect of the Qur'an's inimitability. The Arabs of that time could not comprehend its other more important dimensions, which needed a higher degree of understanding.
Nowadays, too, those who have a similar level of thinking can comprehend nothing of this divine grace, except its literal elegance, beautiful rhetoric and eloquent expressions. As regards those who are well versed in the secrets of knowledge and the graces of tawhīd and abstraction, know that what attracts them, and what is the goal of their hopes, in this divine Book and heavenly revelation is only its knowledge [ma'ārif], and they are not so much interested in its other aspects.
Whoever casts a glance at the Qur'an's gnosticism, and at the gnostics of Islam who acquired their knowledge from it, and then makes a comparison between them and the scholars of other religions, concerning their works and knowledge, will very well recognize the higher standard of the knowledge of Islam and the Qur'an, which is the base of the foundation of religion and faith, and the final objective of sending the Messengers and revealing the Books. To believe that this Book is a divine revelation and that its knowledge is divine does not cost him any difficulty.
Do know that the Sovereignty [rubūbiyyat] of Allah, the Exalted, over the worlds is of two kinds:
The first is the “General Sovereignty,” which covers all the beings of the world, and it is the genetic upbringing (education), which takes every being out of the limits of its shortcomings to its suitable perfection, under the control of the Divine Sovereignty.
All the natural and substantial developments and the essential and accidental movements and improvements are under the control of the Lord. In short, from the stage of the primary matter till the stage of animality and the gaining of the corporeal and spiritual powers of animality, and the genetic evolution, each one of them testifies that “My Lord is Allah, Glory and Majesty to Him.”
The second is the “Legislative Sovereignty,” which exclusively belongs to the human species, and the other beings have no share of it. This education is guiding to the roads of salvation, showing the ways to happiness and humanity, and warning against what contradicts them, as explained by the prophets ('a).
If somebody voluntarily placed himself at the disposal and education of the Lord of the worlds, and was brought up by Him, such that the actions of his organs and powers, external and internal, would not be prompted by his self, but to be divine, in that case he would attain the human perfection, which exclusively belongs to the human species.
Up to the stage of animality, man goes side by side with the other animals. To step out of this stage he will have to choose, on his own free will, one of the only two ways before him: One is the way to the stage (abode) of happiness, which is the Straight Path of the Lord of the worlds:
“My Lord is on the Straight Path.”47
The other is the way of wretchedness, which is the crooked path of the accursed Satan. Therefore, if he puts the powers and organs of his kingdom at the disposal of the Lord of the worlds to be educated by Him, his heart, which is the sultan of this kingdom, would gradually submit to Him. When the heart becomes a subject to the Lord of the worlds, other soldiers [junūd] would follow it, and the whole kingdom would be under His education.
Then his invisible tongue, which is the shadow [zill] of the heart, would be able to say: “My Lord is Allah. Glory and Majesty to Him,” in reply to the angels of the world of the grave, who ask him: “Who is your Lord?” And, as such a man has obeyed the Messenger of Allah, imitated the Imāms of guidance and acted according to the Divine Book; his tongue would be expressive in saying: “Muhammad (s) is my Prophet, 'Alī and his infallible sons are my Imāms and the Qur'an is my Book.”
But if he did not turn his heart to divinity, and the image of Lā ilāha illallāh, Muhammadun rasūlullāh, 'Alīyyun walīyullāh (There is no god except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and 'Alī is the friend of Allah) was not engraved on the page of his heart such that to become the portrait of the inside of the soul, and if there was no reciprocal spiritual and moral connection between him and the Qur'an as to act according to it, thinking about it, remembering and contemplating on it, all his knowledge [ma'ārif] would be effaced from his memory when suffering from the agonies of death, the death-sickness, and in the death itself that monstrous calamity.
My dear! Man, under a typhoid fever and the deterioration of his mental faculties, forgets all his knowledge, except things that have become a second part of his constitution, owing to continual remembrance and close intimacy with them. Should he be inflicted with a serious incident or a dreadful accident, he would be neglecting a lot of his affairs, and the line of forgetfulness would underline his acquired information.
So, how about the agonies, sufferings and difficulties of death? What would happen to him then? If the hearing and the heart were not opened, if the heart was not hearing, to instruct him with the necessary beliefs at the time of dying and after it would be of no avail. Talqīn (reminding the dead of his beliefs) can be useful only to those whose hearts have acquired the true beliefs and whose hearts' ears are usually open, but at the very moments of death agonies they may undergo a fit of forgetfulness, and thus, the talqīn will be a means for the angels of Allah to convey it to their ears. But if man is deaf, with no hearing ears suitable for the worlds of barzakh and the grave, he can never hear the talqīn and it can benefit him naught. There is a hint at some of these in the noble hadīths.
Ar-Rahmān' ir-Rahīm (The Beneficent, the Merciful):
Do know that for all the Names and Attributes of Allah, the Most High, there are generally two states [maqām] and two ranks [martabah]:
One is the state of the Names and Attributes of Essence, which are constant in His Unity [hadrat-i wāhidiyyat], such as the Essential Knowledge, which is of the Essential affairs and manifestations, and the Essential Power and Will, and other Essential affairs [shu'ūn-i dhātiyyah].
The other is the state of the Names and Attributes of Acts, which are confirmed for Allah through the manifestation by the Holy Emanation, such as the “Active Knowledge” ['ilm-i fi'lī], which the Illuminists regard as confirmed, and on it depends the “Detailed Knowledge” ['ilm-i tafsīlī]. The most merited of the wise men, Khājah Nasīruddīn (May Allah make his face bright), has proved this, following the opinion of the Illuminists who say that the criterion for the “Detailed Knowledge” is the “Active Knowledge.”48
However, although this subject is contrary to research because the “Detailed Knowledge” is confirmed for the Essence, and that the exposure and the details of the Essential Knowledge are higher than the “Active Knowledge” and more extensive, as is proved and confirmed, in its relevant place, by a luminous proof yet, the original question, that the system of the existence is within Allah's Active and Detailed Knowledge, is proved and confirmed according to the tradition of proving and the method of gnosticism, despite the fact that the higher method and the sweeter gnostic taste have, beside such ways, another way: “The lover's religion is other than that of the others.”49
Generally speaking, for the mercy of “Beneficence” and “Mercifulness,” there are two ranks and two manifestations: one is in the appearance of the Essence in His Unity [hadrat-i wāhidiyyat] through the manifestation of the Holiest Emanation. The other is in the appearance of the cosmic entities [a'yān-i kawniyyah] through the Holy Emanation.
If the ar-Rahmān and ar-Rahīm, in the blessed Sūrah, are of the Essential Attributes as is more obvious it will be possible to regard them, in Bismillāh 'ir-Rahmān 'ir-Rahīm, to be related to “ism” (Name), rather than Attributes of Act. Consequently, there is no repetition at all that one may claim them to be confirmatory repetition, or exaggeration. Based on this, the meaning of the noble āyah will be: With His Beneficent and Merciful will, praise be to His Beneficent and Merciful Essence Allah knows better.
And, as the state of Divine Will is the manifestation of the Sacred Essence, the state of “Beneficence” and “Mercifulness,” which is of the determinations [ta'ayyunāt] of the state of Divine Will, is the display [jilwah] of the Essential Beneficence and Mercifulness. There are, however, other possibilities, which we have left out, as the said one is more obvious.
Māliki yawm 'id-dīn (The Master of the Day of Judgment):
Many of the reciters have read: maliki, and there are many literary justifications for both versions, such that even a great scholar (may Allah have mercy upon him) has written a thesis on preferring malik to mālik. But the arguments of both parties are not quite convincing.
That which comes to the writer's notion is that mālik is preferable, or rather, particularly assigned, because this blessed sūrah and the blessed sūrah of at-Tawhīd, are unlike the other sūrahs of the Qur'an, since these two sūrahs are recited by the people in their obligatory and non-obligatory salāts, and in every era hundreds of millions of the Muslims have heard them from hundreds of millions of other Muslims, and these from former hundreds of millions, and so on, by hearing these two noble sūrahs from one another, recited, exactly the same, with no letter advanced and no letter retarded, no letter increased and no letter decreased, by the Imāms of guidance and the Messenger of Allah (s).
Although most of the reciters read it malik, and many of the scholars prefer malik, yet none of those things damaged this certain, necessary and successively proved fact, and no body imitated them. And although the scholars allowed imitating anyone of the reciters, no one except the abnormal [shādhdh] whose opinion is negligible necessarily recited malik in his salāts, or if somebody did recite malik, it was as a precaution [ihtiyāt], besides saying mālik, too, such as my learned teacher of the traditional science, Hāj Shaykh 'Abd 'ul-Karīm Yazdī (may his grave be sanctified), who used, at the request of some of his contemporary scholars, to recite malik, too. Nevertheless, this is too weak a precaution, or, as the writer believes, it is out of question.
The weakness of the said question becomes clear under the saying that in Kūfī penmanship malik and mālik are mistaken for each other. This claim can be uttered in respect of the sūrahs which are not frequently recited, though still with difficulty, but not in respect of this sūrah which has been confirmed through hearing and reciting, as is quite clear. Such a claim is an empty and incredible one.
This very argument is also true in respect of kufuwan, as its recitation with “w” [maftūhah] and “f” [madmūmah] which is 'Āsim's recitation alone is also confirmed by way of hearing and rehearing, and other recitations do not necessarily contradict that, though some think that they practice precaution by reciting the version of the majority with “hamzah” instead of the “w” an irrelevant precaution.
If there can be any argument in respect of the narratives in which we are ordered to recite like the people recite50 which actually deserves arguing, as it is believed that these narratives wanted to say: recite as the people, in general, do, not that you are free to choose any one of the “seven recitations,” for example in that case, to recite ”malik” and ”kufuwan” other than the way commonly recited by the Muslims and written in the Qur'an, is incorrect. At any rate, the precaution is their recitation as current among the people and written in the Qur'an, because that way of recitation is correct to every creed. Allah knows better.51
Do know that Allah's ownership is not the same as the ownership of the servants, nor is it like the kings' ownership of their kingdom, as these are conventional annexations, while annexing the creatures to Allah is not of that kind, although to the jurisprudents this sort of ownership of Allah is longitudinally [tūlan] confirmed. This, however, does not contradict what has been observed in this respect.
Nor does it resemble man's owning his own organs and limbs, nor his internal and external powers, although this latter ownership is nearer to Allah's ownership than the aforementioned ones. It is also not like the soul's owning its own self-action, which is of the soul's affairs, such as creating mental images, whose contractions and expansions arc somewhat under the control of the soul's will, nor is it like the ownership, of the intellectual worlds, of what is of lower ranks, even if they were effective in those worlds through annihilating [i'dām] and creating [ījād], for all the beings of the world of possible realization, on whose foreheads the humility of poverty is marked, are bound by limits and restricted by measures, even to the extent of the essence.
And whatsoever is bound by a limit is isolated from its act, in proportion to its limitedness, and it enjoys not a true existential inclusiveness [ihāta-i qayyūmī]. Therefore, all things, according to the degree of their own essence, oppose and contradict their passive elements [munfa'ilāt], and because of this they do not enjoy self-existential inclusiveness [ihāta-i dhātīyya-i qayyūmīyyah].
But concerning the ownership of Allah, the Exalted, which is by illuminative annexation and self-existential inclusiveness, it is the true real self-ownership [mālikīyyat-i dhātīyyah], in which there is not the least of any defective contradicting isolation in His Essence and Attributes with any one of the beings.
The ownership of the Sacred Essence of all the worlds is the same, without treating the beings with discrimination at all, or being nearer to, and more inclusive of, the abstracts and the invisible worlds, than of the other worlds, as otherwise it would require limitation and isolating disunity, accompanied by need and potentiality; High Exalted is Allah, the Great, above all that! A reference to this is perhaps in the saying of Allah, the Exalted:
“And we are nearer to him than you,”52
“And we are nearer to him than his jugular vein,”53
“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth,”54
“And He it is who is God in the heaven and God in the earth,”55
“Allah's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth.”56
The Messenger of Allah (s) is quoted to have said: “If you are lowered down with a rope to the lowest of the earth, you will come down onto Allah.”57 Imām as-Sādiq ('a) is also quoted to have said, as in al-Kāfī: “No space can confine Him and no space can accommodate Him, and He is no nearer to a place than to another.”58 Imām 'Alī an-Naqī is quoted to have said: “You must know that when Allah is in the lowest heaven He is, at the same time, on the Throne. All things are equally known, controlled, owned and encompassed by Him.”59
Nevertheless, although the ownership of His Sacred Essence covers all things and all worlds equally, the noble āyah says:
“The Owner of the Day of Judgment.”
This specification is probably because the Day of Judgment is the day of gathering. So, the Owner of “The Day of Judgment,” which is the day of gathering, is (also) the Owner of the other days which are dispersed, and “the dispersed in the visible world are gathered (collected) in the invisible world.”
Or maybe it is because of the appearance of the Ownership and Omnipotence of Allah, Glorified be His Majesty, on the “Day of Gathering,” which is the day of the return of the possibles to the threshold of Allah, and the ascension of the beings to the Court of Allah.
Expanding on this brief so as to suit this paper is that as long as the light of existence and the sun of the truth is descending down from the hidden places of invisibility towards the world of visibility, it tends to occultation and being veiled. In other words, in every descent there is a specification [ta'ayyun], and in every specification and limitation there is a veil. And as man is the composite [majma'] of all specifications and limitations, he is veiled with all the seven dark veils and the seven veils of light, which are the seven earths and seven heavens, according to interpretations.
Perhaps returning to the “lowest of the low” means being wrapped in all kinds of veils. This occultation of the sun of existence, and the mere light in the horizon of specifications [ta'ayyunāt] can be described as the “night” and “The Night of the Qadr.” And as long as man is wrapped in these veils, he is deprived of seeing the Beauty of the Eternity and of eyeing the prime light.
When all beings, in their ascending march from the low stations of the world of nature, with the natural movements which are deposited in their innate constitution from the light of the attraction of the divine disposition, according to the determination [taqdīr] of the Holiest Emanation in His Knowledge return to the original homeland and the real place of promise [mī'ād] as is frequently referred to by the noble āyahs they once again get rid of the luminous and dark veils, and the ownership and the sovereignty of Allah, the Exalted, are manifested, and He appears in Unity and Sovereignty.
Here, where the Last returns to the First, and the Outside connects to the Inside, and where the rule of the appearance falls and the government of the inside is manifested, the absolute owner addresses and there is no addressed except His Sacred Essence “Whose is the Sovereignty this Day?, and as there is no answer, He says:
(It is) Allah's, the One, the Almighty.”60
This absolute day, the day when the sun of the truth rises from behind the veil of the horizon of the individuations, is “the Day of Judgment” in a way, since every being, under the shadow [zill] of its suitable name, vanishes in Allah. When the Trumpet is blown, it appears from that name and accompanies the followers of that name:
“A group in Paradise and a group in Flaming Fire.”61
The perfect man in this world gets out of these veils according to his journey to Allah and migration to Him, and the regulations of the Resurrection, the Hour and the Day of Judgment appear before him and are proved to him. So, Allah, with His Sovereignty, appears to his heart through this salāt ascension, and his tongue becomes the interpreter of his heart, and his appearance becomes the tongue of his internal seeings. This is one of the secrets of confining the Ownership [mālikiyyat] to the Day of Judgment.
Do know that concerning the 'Arsh and its carriers there are different opinions. Similarly the noble narratives outwardly differ, too, although inwardly there is no difference, since, according to the gnostic view and demonstrative way, the 'Arsh covers so many meanings.
One of its meanings which I did not see in the language of “the people” [qawm] is the Unity [hadrat-i wāhidīyyat], which is on the level of the “Holiest Emanation,” and its carriers are four names, of the Great Names: The First, the Last, the Outward and the Inward.
Another which also I did not see in the language of “the people” [qawm] is the “Holy Emanation,” which is on the level of the Greatest Name, and its carriers are: ar-Rahmān, ar-Rahīm, ar-Rabb and al-Mālik.
Another one of its concepts is the phrase “all that is other than Allah”[mā siwallāh] and its carriers are the four angels: Seraphiel, Gabriel, Michael and Izrael.
Another is the “Universal Body” [jism-i kull], which is carried by four angels who are the images of the Archetypes [arbāb-i anwā'], as is referred to in al-Kāfī.62
Sometimes it is regarded to be the “Knowledge,” which may be Allah's Active Knowledge ['ilm-i fi'lī] which is the state of the great guardianship [wilāyat-i kubrā] and its carriers are four of Allah's perfect friends from the ancient nations: Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon our Prophet, his progeny and upon them), and four persons of the perfect ones of this nation: the Seal of the Prophets, Amīr al-Mu'minīn 'Alī, al-Hasan and al-Husayn ('a).
Now, as this introduction has been understood, do know that in the noble sūrah of al-Hamd (the Opening), after the name “Allah” that refers to His Essence, the four noble names: ar-Rabb, ar-Rahmān, ar-Rahīm, and Mālik, are particularly mentioned, maybe because these four noble names are the carriers of the 'Arsh of His Unity [wahdāniyyat] in respect of the inside, while their outer appearances are Allah's four favorite angels who are the carriers of the 'Arsh of “Realization” [tahaqquq].
So, the blessed name of ar-Rabb is the inside [bātin] of Michael, who, as ar-Rabb's manifestation, is in charge of the provisions and the education in the world of existence. The noble name of ar-Rahmān is the inside [bātin] of Seraphiel, who is the caretaker [munshī] of the spirits, the blower of the Trumpet and the spreader [bāsit] of the spirits and the images, as the spread [bast] of existence is also in the name of ar-Rahmān.
The noble name of ar-Rahīm is the inside of Gabriel, who is in charge of teaching and perfecting the beings. The noble name of Mālik is the inside of Izrael, who is in charge of taking [qabd] the spirits and images, and of returning the outside [zāhir] to the inside [bātin]. So, the blessed sūrah, up to “The Owner of the Day of Judgment,” includes the 'Arsh of Unity and the 'Arsh of Realization, with reference to its carriers.
Thus, the entire circle of existence and the manifestations of the invisible and the visible, which are translated by the Glorious Qur'an, are mentioned up to this part of the sūrah. This very concept is also entirely covered by the Bismillāh, which is the Greatest Name. It is also in the “bā'” [ب], which is in the position of causality, and in the dot of bism, which is the secret of the causality. And, as 'Alī ('a) is the secret of guardianship [wilāyat] and causality, therefore, it is he who is the dot under the “bā'” [ب]63 That is, the dot under the “bā'” [ب] is the translator of the secret of guardianship. Contemplate. The reason for contemplation is the difficulty that is in the hadīth. And Allah knows better!
Perhaps giving priority to ar-Rabb before stating ar-Rahmān and ar-Rahīm and then Mālik at the end, is a delicate reference to the way of man's journey [sulūk] from the material mundane creation up to the complete annihilation, or up to the state of the presence before the Master of the kings. So, as the sālik is still at the beginning of the journey, he is gradually being brought up by Rabb al-'Ālamīn (the Lord of the worlds), for he is of the world and his conduct [sulūk] is under the control of time and graduation.
After leaving the transitory world of nature by the steps of his conduct, the stage of the inclusive names, which do not belong only to the world in which the aspect of “differentiation” is predominant, is established in his heart. And, as the noble name of ar-Rahmān is more particular than the other inclusive names, it is stated then, and, as it is the manifestation of mercy and the stage of absolute spreading, it precedes ar-Rahīm, which is nearer to the horizon of the interiority.
Hence, in the gnostic conduct, the external names appear first, then after that, the internal names, because the sālik's march is from multiplicity [kathrat] to singleness [wahdat], until he ends up in the purely internal names, including the name of Mālik. Thus, with the manifestation of Ownership, the multiplicity of the invisible and visible worlds will vanish, and the complete annihilation and Absolute Presence will take place.
As he frees himself from the veils of multiplicity with the appearance of unity and Divine Sovereignty, and attains the visual witnessing, he converses in presence (with Allah) and says: “You do we worship.”
Hence, the whole circle of the travelers' journey is also contained in the noble sūrah, from the last veils of the world of nature up to the removing of all the dark and luminous veils and attaining the Absolute Presence. This Presence is the sālik's great resurrection and the rising of his Hour. In the noble āyah:
“…and all who are in the heavens and the earth swoon away, except him whom Allah wills…,”64
The exception may be this group of the people of sulūk who would swoon away and be annihilated before the Trumpet is blown. By saying: “I and the Hour are like these two”65 when joining his two forefingers, the Messenger of Allah (s) may have referred to this concept.
In the current exegeses that we have seen, or which are quoted from, the word “dīn” is said to mean judgment and reckoning. The lexicons give these meanings, too. The Arab poets have also used it so, such as the poet who says: “Beware that you will be judged as you judge,” and there is a saying ascribed to Sahl ibn Rabī'ah stating:
“There remained but hostility. We so judged them as they did.”66 It is said that “dayyān,” which is one of the Divine Names, denotes this very meaning. Perhaps by “dīn” the true religion is intended. And as on the Day of Resurrection the results of the religion appear and the religious facts come out from behind the curtain, for this reason it is called yawm 'ud-dīn (the Day of Judgment), the same as “today” is called yawm 'ud-dunyā (the day of this world or the mundane day) on which appear the results of this world, while the true image of the religion is not apparent.
This bears a similar concept of Allah's saying:
“…and remind them of the days of Allah,”67
Which are the days in which Allah treats a nation with force and sovereignty. The Day of Resurrection is a “day of Allah” as well as the “day of religion,” since it is the day of the appearance of the Divine Sovereignty and the day of the emergence of the truth of Allah's religion.
Iyyāka na'budu wa iyyāka nasta'īn (You do we worship and You do we seek help from): Do know, dear, that when the servant, the sālik on the road of knowledge, understood that all thanks and praises exclusively belong to Allah's Sacred Essence, and attributed to Him contraction [qabd] and expansion [bast] of the existence, and regarded the reigns of the affairs, at first and at last, the beginning and the end, to be in the grasp of His Ownership, and the Unity of Essence and of Acts manifested in his heart, he would exclusively confine worship and seeking help to Allah, regard the entire world of realization submitting, willingly or unwillingly, to the Sacred Essence, and recognize no able one, in the world of realization, so as to ascribe to him any help.
What is claimed by some of the people of formalism that to confine worship [to Allah] is real, but to confine seeking help only to Him is not real by arguing that the help of other than Allah can also be sought, and it is in the Glorious Qur'an:
“And help one another in goodness and piety,”68
“And seek help through patience and salāt,”69
And it is known that the conduct of the noble Prophet, the Imāms of guidance ('a), their companions and the Muslims was based on seeking help from other than Allah in lawful matters, such as getting the help of the beast of mount, the servant, the wife, the friend, the messenger, the worker and the like is but a talk suitable to the formalists.
But the one who has knowledge about the Unity of Acts of Allah, the Exalted, and regards the system of the existence to be a form of the activity of Allah, the Exalted, seeing, either plainly or by rational proof, that there is no effecter in the [world of] existence save Allah, regards, with the eye of insight and luminous heart, confining “seeking help” to be a real confinement, and takes the help of the other beings to be a form of Allah's help.
According to what these people say, there is no reason for confining the praises to Allah, the Exalted, since, according to this opinion; other beings also have their behaviors, options, beauty and perfection which deserve praising and thanking. They even say that giving life and death, and providing and creating are some other affairs which are common between Allah and the creatures.
The people of Allah regard such matters to be polytheism, and in the narratives they are regarded hidden polytheism, as it is said that [resorting to] turning the ring in the finger to remember something is regarded as a hidden polytheism.70
In short, “You do we worship and you do we seek help from” is a part of praising Allah, and it is a reference to real monotheism. The one in whose heart the truth of monotheism has not yet appeared, and he has not purged it from polytheism absolutely, his saying “You do we worship” would not be real, and he cannot confine his worship and seeking help to Allah, and he would not be a godly man and a theist.
When monotheism manifests in his heart, he will, in proportion to the degree of this manifestation, give up all beings and cling to the Might of the Sanctity of Allah to the extent he sees that “You do we worship and You do we seek help from” takes place by the name of Allah; and some facts of “You are as You praised Yourself”71 manifest in his heart.
The point of changing from the 3rd person to the 2nd has become clear from the statements of this thesis. Although in itself it is one of the ornaments of speech and the characteristics of rhetorics, frequently seen in the speeches of the eloquent orators, and is a decoration to the speeches, and, at the same time, by changing from one mood to another, one removes the addressee's boredom and gives a fresh vividity to his spirit, yet, as the salāt is the ascension for reaching the presence of Holiness, and the ladder to the state of intimacy, this noble sūrah gives the order to start the spiritual ascension and the gnostic journey.
The servant, at the beginning of the travel to Allah, is imprisoned and wrapped in the dark veils of the world of nature and in the luminous ones of the invisible world, while the travel to Allah is getting out of these veils by the steps of spiritual conduct. Actually, migration to Allah is turning away from the house of self and from the house of creation to Allah, leaving multiplicities, rejecting the dust of otherness and attaining the Unities [tawhīdāt].
It is absence from creation and presence before the Lord. When in the noble āyah “Owner of the Day of Judgment” he finds that multiplicity disappears under the shining light of the Ownership and Omnipotence, he experiences a state of effacement from multiplicity and being present before Allah, the Exalted, and, by personally conversing and witnessing the Beauty and Majesty, he offers himself to servitude, and presents his quest for Allah and his piety to the Sacred Presence and the meeting of intimacy.
The fact that the pronoun iyyāka is used for this purpose is because this pronoun returns to the Essence in which multiplicity is vanished. So, the sālik in this situation may have a mood of Unity of Essence, turning away from the multiplicity of names and attributes, and the heart turns towards the Essence that is free from the veils of multiplicity.
This is the perfect monotheism which was referred to by the Imām of the monotheists, the head of the gnostics, the leader of the lovers, the pioneer of the attracted and the beloved, Amīr al-Mu'minīn ['Alī], may Allah bless him and his infallible offspring, who said: “The perfect monotheism is the negation of ascribing attribute to Him,”72 as an attribute denotes otherness [ghayriyyat] and plurality [kathrat], while this inclination, though to the plurality of Names, is far from the secrets of monotheism and the facts of abstraction. Thus, probably, the secret of Adam's sin was inclination towards the plurality of Names, which was the spirit of the forbidden tree.
Be informed that the literalists show some opinions in respect of “na'budu” (we worship) and “nasta'īn” (we seek help), concerning their being in the first person plural number, whereas the speaker is actually a single person.
They say that, in this connection, a lawful trick has occurred to the worshipper in order to have his worship accepted by Allah, the Exalted. By using a plural pronoun he places his worship among the worshipping of other creatures, among whom, of course, are the perfect ones of Allah's friends whose worship is accepted by Allah, the Exalted, and presents it to the threshold of Holiness and the Court of Mercy, making sure that his worship will, implicitly, be accepted, since it is not of the custom of the Generous to discriminate in the deal.
They also say that as the salāt was imposed first in congregation, so it came in the plural.
Talking about the general secret of the adhān and the iqāmah we stated a point from which this secret can be recognized to some extent. That is, the adhān is proclaiming that the visible and invisible powers of the sālik are ready to be present in His Presence, and the iqāmah is to have them stand upright before Him.
When the sālik prepared his visible and invisible powers to be present in the Presence, and the heart, which is their leader, stood upright as their Imām, then the salāt has been started and “The believer alone is a congregation.”73 So, “na'budu, nasta'īn and ihdinā” (“We worship,” “we seek help” and “guide us”), all would be performed by this congregation in the Holy Presence. In the narrations and the invocations of the pure infallible Ahl al-Bayt ('a) who are the source of Gnosticism and divine vision, there is a reference to this concept.
Another opinion which occurs to the writer is that the sālik regards all the praises and thanks from every praiser and thanker, in the visible and invisible worlds, to be exclusively confined to the Holy Essence of Allah. It is also clearly proved in the proofs of the Imāms of proofs, and in the hearts of the gnostics that all the beings in the circle of the existence worldly and heavenly, big and small have the life of sensibility and understanding of animality, or rather of humanity, and they praise and glorify Allah, the Exalted, rationally and consciously. It is fixed in the nature [fitrat] of all beings, the human species in particular, to submit to the Holy Presence of the Perfect and the Absolute Beautiful, and their foreheads are on the dust of His Holy Threshold, as is stated in the Glorious Qur'an:
“…and there is not a single thing but glorifies Him, but you do not understand their glorification.”74
Other noble āyahs, and narratives of the infallibles, which are full of this divine grace, support this fixed judging proof. So, if the traveler to Allah could find this truth through argumentative reasoning, faithful taste or gnostic vision, he would realize, whatever position he is in, that all the particles of the existence and the dwellers of the invisible and visible worlds, worship the Absolute Worshipped and seek their Creator. Thus, the plural form [of the pronoun] is used because all beings, in all their movements and stillness, worship the Sacred Essence of Allah, the Exalted, and seek His help.
Know that the reason for giving priority to iyyāka na'budu over iyyāka nasta'īn despite the usual custom that seeking help for worship comes before worship is that “worship” is prior to “seeking help,” not to “helping.” Sometimes “helping” happens without “seeking help.” Also they say that, as these two are related to each other, advancing or retarding can make no difference, as it is said: “You did observe my due, so, you did me good.” or “You did me good, so you did observe my due.” Furthermore, seeking help is for future worship, not for present worship. The dullness of these opinions is not concealed from the people of taste [ahl-i dhawq].
Maybe the point is that confining “seeking help” to Allah, the Exalted, comes, according to the state of the travel to Allah, later than confining “worship” to Him. It is quite obvious that a good number of the monotheists in worship, who confine “worship” to Allah, are polytheists in “seeking help” and do not confine it to Allah, as we have already quoted some exegetes who believe that confining “seeking help” to Allah is not real. So, confining “worship” to Allah, in its conventional concept, is of the first states of the monotheists, and confining “seeking help” is an absolute rejection of other than Allah.
It should not be hidden, however, that “seeking help” does not mean to “seek help” only in worshipping, but in all affairs, and this is after rejecting the means and neglecting multiplicities, and completely turning to Allah. In other words, confining “worship” is seeking Allah, wanting Him and giving up turning to other than Him. And confining “seeking help” is seeing Him, and giving up seeing other than Him. This “giving up seeing other than Him” comes, according to the stations of the gnostics and the stages of the sāliks, later than “giving up seeking other than Him.”
O traveling servant, know that confining “worship” and “seeking help” to Allah is also not of the states of the monotheists and perfect stages of the sāliks, because it implies a claim contrary to monotheism and abstraction. They even believe that seeing worship, worshipper, worshipped, help-seeker, and the one whose help is sought, and seeking help are contrary to monotheism.
In the real monotheism, which appears in the heart of the sālik, such multiplicities vanish, and seeing such affairs is effaced. Yes, those who have come to themselves from the invisible attraction and have attained sobriety, multiplicity does not form a veil for them, because people are of many groups:
A group consists of the veiled, such as we, the helpless, who are wrapped in the dark veils of nature.
Another group consists of the sāliks, the travelers to Allah, the emigrants to the Court of Holiness.
A third group consists of the united [wāsilān], who have come out of the veils of multiplicity and have been engaged with Allah, neglecting all creatures and veiled against them, as they have undergone a complete swoon and an absolute annihilation.
Another group consists of those who have come back to the creatures, and who have the post of completers and guides, such as the great prophets and their successors ('a). Although they are among multiplicity and in charge of guiding the people, multiplicity does not veil them, but it forms an isthmus-like state for them.
Consequently, “iyyāka na'budu wa iyyāka nasta'īn” has different implications in respect of the different groups mentioned above. To us, the veiled, it is a mere allegation and an image. But if we become aware of our veil and recognize our shortcoming, our worship becomes more luminous in proportion to the degree of our awareness of our shortcoming, and becomes, accordingly, accepted by Allah, the Exalted. To the sāliks, it is nearer to the truth in proportion to the traveling step. To the united [wāsilān], in respect of seeing Allah, it is the truth, and, in respect of seeing multiplicity, it is a mere image and a customary act. To the perfect ones, it is mere truth, and so, they have veil neither against Allah nor against the creatures.
Do know, dear, that as long as we are in this heavy veil of the world of nature, spending our life on colonizing the world and its pleasures, and being negligent of Allah, the Exalted, of remembering Him and of thinking about Him, all our worshippings, invocations and recitations will contain no truth neither in al-hamdu lillāh (praise is for Allah) we can confine praises to Allah, nor in iyyāka na'budu wa iyyāka nasta'īn can we find a way to the truth.
With these empty claims in the presence of Allah, the Exalted, the favorite angels, the messenger prophets and the infallible guardians, we will be disgraced and humiliated. The one whose tongue of state and speech never stops praising the people of this world, how can he say, “All praise is for Allah?” The one whose heart is inclined to nature, and is empty of any divine scent, and whose dependence is on the people, with which tongue can he utter: “You do we worship and you do we seek help from.”
So, if you are the man for this field, then tuck up the skirt of determination, and, with intense remembrance and contemplation of Allah's Greatness, and of the creatures' humiliation, inability and poverty, try first to convey the facts and the delicate matters mentioned in this thesis, to your heart, and enliven your heart by remembering Allah, the Exalted, so as to bring to your heart's sense of smell a scent of monotheism, and, with the help of the Unseen, to find a passage to the salāt of the people of knowledge.
If you are not the man for this field, at least you are to continually remember your faults, pay attention to your humility and inability, perform your duties out of shame and disgrace, and avoid claiming servitude. And these noble āyahs, with whose graces you are not acquainted, recite them either through the tongues of the perfect ones, or consider yourself merely reciting the form of the Qur'an, so that, at least, you may not claim a false allegation.
Some jurisprudents see that it is not allowed to intend composition [inshā'] in sentences like iyyāka na'budu wa iyyāka nasta'īn, thinking that it would be a contradiction to the Qur'an and reciting it, since recitation is relating the words of someone else. This talk has no justification, because as one can praise someone with his own words, he can use somebody else's words for the purpose.
For example, if we praised somebody using Hāfiz's poetry, it would be true that we have praised the intended person, and it would also be true that we have recited Hāfiz's poetry. So, if we, by saying “All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds,” actually compose all the praises for Allah, and by saying “You do we worship” we compose the confinement of worship to Allah, it will come true that with Allah's words we have praised Him, and with Allah's words we have confined worship to Him.
But if somebody emptied the words from their compositional meaning, he would be acting contrary to precaution, if not to say his reciting would be bātil (invalid). However, if someone did not know it, it would not be necessary for him to learn it, as the formal reciting with its own meaning would do.
Some of the noble narratives refer to the fact that the reciter composes, as is in the Hadīth Qudsī: “When he [the servant] says in his salāt: “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,” Allah says: “My servant remembered me”, and when he says: “All praise is for Allah,” Allah says: “My servant praised me”…etc.75
If the “bismillāh” and “praising” were not composed by the servant, “remembered me” and “praised Me” would have no meaning. In the hadīths of Mi'rāj it is said: “Now that you have arrived, recite My Name”76 [i.e. say the bismillāh]. From the moods of the Imāms of guidance ('a) on reciting “The Owner of the Day of Judgment,” and “You do we worship,” and from their repeating these āyahs, it is clear that they were composing, not merely reciting, like: Ismā'īl testifies that there is no god but Allah.77
One of the important differences of the ranks of the salāt of godly people is due to this very difference in their recitation, as we have already referred to some of it. This, however, would not come about unless the reciter was intending the composition in his recitations and remembrances. Evidences proving this are much more than this. In short, composing these concepts by the divine words is not objectionable.
The linguists say that “worship” means utmost submission and humbleness. They also say that since worshipping is the highest degree of submission, it does not befit except the one who is at the highest degree of existence and perfection, and the greatest of the degrees of grace and benevolence, and as such, worshipping other than Allah is polytheism. Probably, “worshipping” which in the Persian language means “adoration” and “servitude” actually implies more than that which has been said, i.e. it is submission to the Creator and the Lord.
It follows that such a submission is inseparable from taking the worshipped to be the Diety and Lord, or for example, His semblance and manifestation. Consequently, worshipping other than Allah is polytheism and disbelief. However, absolute submission, without this belief or deciding this meaning, even reluctantly, and even if it reached the utmost submission, would not be a reason for disbelief and polytheism, although some kinds of it are regarded to be harām such as placing the forehead on the dust by way of submission; though this is not worshipping, but it is apparently religiously prohibited.
Therefore, the homage paid by the followers of a religion to their religious leaders, believing that they, too, are servants in need of Allah, the Exalted, for everything for the existence itself and for its perfection and that they are good servants who, although can have no advantage, harm, life and death for themselves, are, through their servitude, in the proximity of the Court of Allah, the Exalted, and subject to His care, and a means of His grants, cannot be mixed with any blemish of polytheism and disbelief. To respect the favorites of Allah is to respect Him, and “To love Allah's elects is to Love Allah.”
Among the groups of “I call Allah to witness, and Allah is sufficient as a witness,” the group that is by the blessing of Ahl al-Bayt of revelation and infallibility, the resources of knowledge and wisdom more excellent in unifying, glorifying and exalting Allah, the Most High, than all other groups of humanity, is the group of the 12-Imām Shī'ahs.
Their books of the principles of belief such as the honorable book of al-Kāfī, and the honorable book of at-Tawhīd by ash-Shaykh as-Sadūq (may Allah be pleased with him) and speeches and invocations of their infallible Imāms, which, in unifying and glorifying Allah, the Most High, are the issues of the said resources of revelation and inspiration, testify that such sciences were unprecedented among humanity, and that no one has glorified and exalted Allah, the Most High, like them, after the holy revelation of the Divine Sacred Book, the Glorious Qur'an, which is written by the hand of the Omnipotent.
Despite the fact that the Shī'ahs, in all countries and times have been following those infallible, pure and monotheist Imāms of guidance, and through their explicit reasoning and proofs they have known Allah, and glorified and unified Him, yet, some groups, whose heresy is quite clear in their beliefs and books, opened the door of contestation and abuse against them, and, owing to the inner hostility which they had, accused the followers of the infallible Ahl al-Bayt of polytheism and disbelief.
Although, in the market of knowledge and philosophy, this is worthless, yet its corrupting effect is that the incomplete people and the ignorant and the common, may be driven away from the sources of knowledge towards ignorance and wretchedness. This is a grave crime against humanity which is never retrievable.
Concerning this subject, and according to rational and religious criteria, the responsibility of the crime and the sin of this defective, ignorant and helpless group is to be upon the conscience of the unfair who, for their imagined transitory interests prevented the spread of the divine knowledge and precepts, and were the cause of the wretchedness and the adversity of the human species, and rendered all the painful efforts of “the best of men” [khayr al-bashar] lost and nill, closing the door of the House of Revelation and the Qur'an in the face of the people. “O Allah, curse them an intense cursing and torture them a painful torment.”
“Guide us to the straight path,” etc.
Do know, dear, that there is a reference in the noble sūrah of al-Hamd (the Opening) to the conduct of the people of knowledge and austerity, and up to “You do we worship” it covers the complete journey from creation up to Allah. When the sālik proceeds from the Manifestations of Acts to the Manifestations of Attributes, and thence to the Manifestations of Essence, and comes out from the luminous and dark veils, and attains the state of presence and witnessing, there happens complete annihilation and full consumption [istihlāk-i kullī].
When the journey to Allah ends by the setting of the horizon of servitude and the rise of the sovereignty of ownership in the “Owner of the Day of Judgment,” at the end of this sulūk there takes place a state of establishment and stability, and the sālik comes to himself, and becomes sober and attentive to his own state, but as a result of being attentive to Allah. This is contrary to the state of returning [rujū'] to Allah, for attending to Allah was a result of attending to the creatures.
In other words, during the journey to Allah he used to see Allah in the veil of creation, and after returning from the state of complete annihilation, which takes place in the “Owner of the Day of Judgment,” he sees the creation in the light of Allah, and thus, he says: “You do we worship” giving priority to the object, the addressee, over himself and his worship. And, as in this position there may be no stability, and slipping can be imagined, he demands his stability and firmness from Allah, the Exalted, and says: “Guide us” which means: make us firm, as was explained.
It must be noted that the said position and the said explanation are for the perfect ones of the people of knowledge. Their first state is that in the state of returning from the journey to Allah, He, the Exalted, becomes their veil against the creation. And their state of perfection is the state of great barzakh (isthmus), in which neither the creation becomes the veil against Allah, such as we, the veiled, nor Allah becomes the veil against creation, such as the eager united, and the attracted annihilated.
So, their “Straight path” is this isthmus situation, in the middle between the two creations (worlds) [nash'atayn], and it is the path of Allah. Therefore, “those upon whom you have bestowed favors” are the ones whose aptitude [isti'dād] has been established by Allah, the Exalted, through the manifestation of the “Holiest Emanation” in His knowledge [hadrat-i 'ilmiyyah], and, after complete annihilation, He has returned them to their kingdom. “Those inflicted by wrath,” according to this exegesis, are those who are veiled before the union [wusūl], and “Those who have gone astray” are those who have vanished in the Presence [hadrat].
As regards the imperfect ones, if they have not yet started their sulūk, these matters will not come true in their respect, and their “path” is the apparent religious form. For this reason “the straight path” is interpreted to mean “religion,” “Islam” and the like. If they are of the people of sulūk, by “guidance” they mean “showing the way,” and by “the straight path” they mean the shortest way of reaching Allah, which is the way of the Messenger of Allah (s) and Ahl al-Bayt ('a), as the exegetes say that it means the Messenger of Allah, the Imāms of guidance and Amīr al-Mu'minīn ['Alī] ('a).
In a hadīth it is said that the Messenger of Allah (s) once drew a straight line in the middle and other lines at its sides and said: “This middle straight line is from me.”78 The expression “a middle nation” in the noble āyah
“We have made you a middle nation,”79
Probably means an absolute middle covering all meanings, including the middle in knowledge and spiritual perfections, which is an isthmus big position and a great middle.
For this reason this station belongs to the perfect ones of Allah's friends. That is why it is in the narrative that by this the Imāms of guidance ('a) are intended, as Imām al-Bāqir ('a) says to Yazīd ibn Mu'āwiyah al-'Ijlī: “We are the middle nation and we are the witnesses of Allah over mankind.”80 In another narrative, he also says: “To us returns the extravagant [ghālī] and to us refers the negligent [muqassir],”81 in which hadīth there is a reference to what has been said.
Do know, you who are in quest of Allah and truth, that when Allah, the Exalted, created the system of the existence and the demonstrations [mazāhir] of the invisible and the visible, owing to His Essential love to be known in the Names and Attributes, according to the noble hadīth: “I was a Hidden Treasure, then I liked to be known, so I created the creatures to become known,”82
He devised a natural love and innovated an inborn longing in the dispositions of all beings, so that by that divine attraction and godly fire of love they may be driven to go in quest of the Absolute Perfection and to long for the Absolute Beautiful. For each one of them He assigned a divine inborn light with which they may find the way to the destination and the objective.
These fire and light, the one is the rafraf of arrival [wusūl], and the other the burāq of ascension both were the heavenly mounts of the Messenger of Allah (s). Perhaps the ”burāq” and the ”rafraf” of the Messenger of Allah (s) were the means [raqīqah] of this grace [latīfah] and the corresponding worldly image [sūrat-i mutamaththila-i mulkiyyah] of this truth, and that is why they were sent down from Paradise, which is the bātin (interior, core) of this world.
As the beings have descended in ranks of individuations and have been veiled from the Beautiful Beauty of the Beloved, Glorified His Greatness, Allah, the Exalted, takes them out of the dark veils of individuations and the luminous I-nesses, by the said fire and light and by the blessed name of “the Guide,” which is the reality of these means [raqāyiq], so that they may reach the proximity of their Beloved, their Real Objective, through the shortest way.
Thus, that light is “the guidance” of Allah, the Exalted, and that fire is the divine “assistance” and the journey is on the shortest path which is the “straight path,” since Allah, the Exalted, is on that “straight path.” It is probably a reference to this guidance, journey and destination that the āyah says:
“There is no living creature but He holds it by its forelock, surely my Lord is on the straight path,”83
As it is clear to the people of knowledge.
It must be noted that every being has its own path, light and guidance: “The ways to Allah are as many as the breaths of the creatures.”84 And, as in every individuation [ta'ayyun] there is a veil of darkness, and in every being and I-ness there is a luminous veil, and as Man is the meeting place [majma'] of the phenomena [ta'ayyunāt] and the collector of entities [jāmi'-i wujūdāt], he is the most veiled of the beings from Allah, the Exalted. The noble āyah:
“Then we reduced him to the lowest of the low”85
Is probably a reference to this point. For this reason, the path of mankind is the longest and darkest of all paths. And, as Man's “Lord” is the Greatest Name of Allah, to Whom the external, the internal, the first, the last, mercy, might, and generally, the counter names, all are the same, Man, himself, has to go through the big isthmus stage at the end of his journey, and this is the reason why his “path” is the most delicate of all paths.
As has been said and is known, there are stages and degrees for guidance in respect of the kinds of the journeys of the travelers to Allah and the stages of the sulūks of the sāliks. We shall briefly refer to some of those stages, so that, meanwhile, the “straight path,” the “path of the immoderates” [sirāt-i mufritīn] and the “path of the extravagants” [sirāt-i mufarritīn], who are those who have been “inflicted by wrath” and those who have “gone astray,” can be distinguished according to each one of the stages.
First is that the light of guidance is inherent, as has already been said in the former “notice.” In this stage of guidance, the “straight path” is the sulūk to Allah without there being any visible or invisible veil, or it is the sulūk to Allah without being veiled with body or heart sins, or it is the sulūk to Allah without extravagance [ghuluww] or negligence [taqsīr], or it is the sulūk to Allah without being veiled with luminous or dark veils, or it is the sulūk to Allah without the veils of unity or multiplicity.
Probably the āyah:
“He causes whom He wills to go astray, and guides whom He wills”86
Is a hint at this stage of guidance and veilings ordained in the Fate [hadrat-i qadar], which, to us, is the stage of Unity [wāhidiyyat] manifested in the immutable essences [hadarāt-i a'yān-i thābitah]. Yet, to expand upon this subject is out of the scope of this paper, or it is even beyond the limits of writing it down: “It is one of Allah's secrets and one of Allah's covers.”87
Second is guidance by the light of the Qur'an, and on its counter side is extravagance or negligence in knowing it, or stopping at its exterior or its interior, as some of the formalists believe that the Qur'anic Sciences are the very conventional and common meanings and the vulgar and positive concepts, and, on the basis of this belief, they do not meditate upon the Qur'an or contemplate it.
Their advantage from this luminous Book which undertakes man's spiritual, bodily, heart and formal happinesses is confined only to its formal and external instructions. They disregard all those āyahs which enjoin, or recommend, contemplating and remembering the Qur'an and making use of the light of it, by which many doors of knowledge can be opened. It seems as if the Qur'an has been revealed only to invite to the worldly pleasures and animal needs, and just to confirm the station of bestial desires.
Some of the Esoterics [ahl-i bātin] think that they should turn away from the external meaning of the Qur'an and its formal calls which are the instructions of observing the disciplines of being in the divine presence and how to travel to Allah, of which they are unaware. They deviate from the exterior of the Qur'an, deceived by the tricks of the accursed Iblīs and the evil-commanding soul, believing themselves to be adherent to its internal sciences, despite the fact that the way to the internal passes through observing the disciplines of the external.
These two groups are, at any rate, out of moderation and are deprived of the light of guidance to the Qur'anic straight path, and are ascribed to extremism on both sides. The researching scholars and the learned scrutinizers should consider both the exterior and the interior and observe the formal and the spiritual disciplines, lighting the external with the light of the Qur'an, and the internal with the lights of knowledge, monotheism and abstraction.
Let the people of literalism [ahl-i zāhir] know that to confine the Qur'an to the disciplines of the external forms and a handful of practical moral instructions and common beliefs about tawhīd, Names and Attributes, is unobserving the Qur'an's due respect, and regarding the Sharī'ah of the Seal of the Prophets (s) as imperfect, whereas no Sharī'ah should be thought to be more perfect than that, as otherwise being the “Seal” would be impossible according to the criterion of justice.
So, as the Islamic Law is the Seal of the divine Laws, and as the Qur'an is the Seal of the revealed Books, and the last connection between the Creator and the creatures, the facts of tawhīd, abstraction and divine knowledge, which are the original objective and the essential aim of the divine religions, laws and the revealed Books, should represent the last of the stages and the utmost peak of perfection, or else, there must necessarily be a shortcoming in the Law, in which case, it would be contrary to the divine justness and the Lord's kindness, which, in itself, is a dishonorable impossibility and an ugly disgrace, which cannot be washed off the true religions by the seven seas we take refuge in Allah from that!
Let the Esoterics [ahl-i bātin] know that to reach the original objective, the real end, is nothing but purifying the outside and the inside, and without holding to the outer form and the outside one cannot get to the inside. Without wearing the apparel of the outer form of the Sharī'ah, the way to the inside cannot be found. So, neglecting the outside means invalidating both the outside and the inside of the divine Law. This is one of the tricks of the Satans of the Jinn and Ins. We have explained some aspects of this point in our book “Explanations of Forty Hadīths,” as said before.
Third is guidance by the light of the Sharī'ah.
Fourth is guidance by the light of Islam.
Fifth is guidance by the light of faith.
Sixth is guidance by the light of certainty.
Seventh is guidance by the light of knowledge ['irfān].
Eighth is guidance by the light of love [muhabbat].
Ninth is guidance by the light of guardianship.
Tenth is guidance by the light of abstraction and monotheism.
Each one of these has the extremes of excessiveness [ifrāt] and shortcomings [tafrīt], exaggeration [ghuluww] and negligence [taqsīr]. To go into details would make it lengthy. The noble hadīth in al-Kāfī may be a hint at a part, or all, of it. It says: “…We, the offspring of Muhammad, are the moderate type. The extremist [ghālī] would not perceive us, and the follower [tālī] would not outstrip us.”88 In a hadīth from the Prophet (s), it is said: The best of this Ummah is the moderate type, with whom the followers catch up, and to whom the extremists return.89
Know that for every being of the invisible and visible worlds, and of this world and the Hereafter, there is a beginning [mabda'] and a destination [ma'ād]. Although the divine Ipseity [huwiyyat] is the beginning and the destination [marja'] of all [beings], the Holy Essence of Allah, the Most High, as He is, would not manifest to the high and low beings without the veil of Names.
According to this state, which is a no-state [lāmaqāmī] that has no name and no form, and is not qualified with the Names of Essence, of Attributes and of Acts, no creature has any relation with Him, nor any connection and mixing: “How can there be any comparison between dust and the Lord of the Lords!”90 the details of this have been mentioned in our Misbāh al-Hidāyah.
So, the firstness [mabda'iyyat] and the originality [masdariyyat] of His Sacred Essence are in the veils of Names, and as the Name is the very Named itself, it is, at the same time, its veil, too. Therefore, manifestation in the invisible and visible worlds is according to the Names and is veiled by them. For this reason, His Sacred Essence has, in the display [jilwah] of the Names and Attributes, manifestations in His Knowledge [hadrat-i 'ilmiyyah], whose individuals the people of knowledge call “the fixed entities” (figures emblematic of the Names of Allah = a'yān-i thābitah].
Consequently, each nominal manifestation [tajallī] in His Knowledge requires a fixed entity, and each Name has, by the determination [ta'ayyun] of His Knowledge, in the outer world, an appearance [mazhar] whose origin and end are the same Name which is suitable for it; and the return of every being from the world of multiplicity to the invisibility of the Name which is its origin and beginning, is its “straight path.”
So, every one [of the beings] has a special journey and a special path, as well as a predestined beginning and end, in His Knowledge, willingly or unwillingly. The difference of the appearances [mazāhir] and paths is due to the difference of the apparent [zāhir] and the Names.
It must be noted that man's “stature” [taqwīm] in the highest of the high [a'lā 'illīyyīn] is the collection of Names [jam'-i asmā'ī]. For this reason he is reduced to the lowest of the low [asfal-i sāfilīn], and his “path” starts from the lowest of the low and ends up in the highest of the high. It is the path of those who are favored by Allah with an absolute favor [ni'mat], the favor of the perfect collection of the Names, which is the highest of the divine favors.
Other paths, whether the paths of the happy [su'adā'] and the “favored ones” [mun'amun 'alayhim], or the paths of the wretched [ashqiyā'], stand at either end of extravagance or negligence [tafrīt], in proportion to how much they lack of the emanation of the Absolute Favor. So, the path of the perfect man alone is that of those who have been absolutely favored.
This path originally is assigned to the holy person of the Seal of the Prophets (s), and, concomitantly [bittaba 'iyyah], it is confirmed for other holy men [awliyā'] and prophets. To understand this talk, and [its connection with] the fact that the generous Prophet is the Last Prophet, one needs the understanding of the “Names” and the “Entities” [a'yān], explained in the book Misbāh al-Hidāyah. Allah is the guide to the way of uprightness.
The dignified Shaykh Bahā'ī (may Allah sanctify his soul), in his al-'Urwat al-Wuthqā, says: “Although the favors of Allah are too numerous to be numbered by counting, as Allah says:
“And if you count Allah's favors, you will not be able to number them,”91
Yet, they are of two kinds: the mundane favors and the favors of the Hereafter. Each one of them is either natural or acquired, and each one of them is either spiritual or corporeal. So, they are, all in all, eight kinds:
First: mundane, natural and spiritual, such as the blowing of the spirit and the emanation of the intellect and comprehension.
Second: mundane, natural and corporeal, such as the creation of the organs and their powers.
Third: mundane, acquired and spiritual, such as emptying the self from low affairs, and adorning it with pure morals and high faculties.
Fourth: mundane, acquired and corporeal, such as decorating [the body] with laudable forms and good ornaments.
Fifth: of the Hereafter, natural and spiritual, such as His forgiving the sins of us, and His being pleased with those of us who have already repented. This is the exact text of the Shaykh in this example. It seems that it is a mistake on the part of the copier. Probably he meant to say that Allah, the Exalted, may forgive us without first repenting. Refer to it.
Sixth: of the Hereafter, natural and corporeal, such as rivers of milk and honey.
Seventh: of the Hereafter, acquired and spiritual, such as forgiveness and pleasure [of Allah] preceded by repentance, and as the spiritual pleasure which is concomitant to acts of worship.
Eighth: of the Hereafter, acquired and corporeal, such as the bodily pleasures which are obtained by the acts of worship.
The intended favor here is the last four kinds, and the things that are the means of attaining to these kinds from the first four kinds.92 (The end of the Shaykh's talk, May Allah sanctify his soul).
Nice as these divisions of the Shaykh are, the most important one of the divine favors, the greatest objective of the noble divine Book, has slipped off the Shaykh's pen. He has satisfied himself with the favors of the imperfect or the medium class. Although in his talk he refers to “spiritual pleasure,” yet the spiritual pleasure of the Hereafter which is obtained by the acts of worship is the share of the middle class, if not the share of the imperfect.
Generally, apart from what the Shaykh has said concerning the animal pleasures and the shares of the soul, there are other favors of which three are important:
One is the favor of knowing the Essence and the Unity of Essence, whose principle is the sulūk to Allah, and its result is the paradise of meeting [Allah]. But if the sālik's attention is directed to the result, there can be a default in his sulūk because this is the state of abandoning oneself and its pleasures, whereas caring for the result is caring for oneself, and this is worshipping oneself, not Allah. It is multiplication [takthīr], not unification [tawhīd]. It is a [Satanic] disguise, not abstraction.
Another one is the favor of knowing the Names a favor which is ramified in as many branches as the multiplicity of the Names. If its items are individually counted, they will amount to a thousand, and if it is taken in its two-name or multi-name compounds, it will be uncountable.
“And if you count Allah's favors, you will not be able to number them.”93
The unification of Names, in this state, is the favor of knowing the Greatest Name, which is the state of the “Collective Oneness of the Names” [ahadiyyat-i jam'-i asmā']. The result of knowing the Names is the paradise of Names, [for] each person in proportion to knowing a single Name or many Names, individually or collectively.
The third is the favor of knowing the Acts, which also has infinitely many branches. The state of tawhīd in this stage is the Collective Oneness of the manifestation of Acts, which is the state of the “Holy Emanation” and the state of the “Absolute Guardianship.” And its result is the paradise of the Acts, which is the manifestations of Allah's Acts in the heart of the sālik. The manifestation that happened to Moses, the son of 'Imrān, when he said:
“I see a fire,”94
Was probably a Manifestation of Acts, and the saying of Allah, the Exalted:
“And when his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain, He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon,”95
Was a Manifestation of Names or of Essence.
Therefore, the path of those “upon whom favor is bestowed,” is, in the first place, “the path” of the journey to the Essence of Allah, and the “favor” in that instance is the Manifestation of the Essence. And, in the second place, “the path” is the sulūk to the Names of Allah, and the “favor” in that instance is the Manifestation of the Names.
And in the third place, the journey is to the Act of Allah, and its “favor” is the Manifestation of the Acts. The people of these states do not seek the common paradises and pleasures, whether spiritual or corporeal. These states, according to some narratives, are confirmed for some believers.96
Know that the blessed Sūrah of al-Fātihah (the Opening), as it contains all the stages of existence, also contains all the stages of sulūk and, further, it contains, by way of allusion [ishārah], all the objectives of the Qur'an. Delving deep into these matters, though it needs a complete expansion and a logic other than this one, yet to refer to each one of them is not profitless, or rather it has many advantages for the people of knowledge and certitude.
So, in the first place we say that it is possible that “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful” is a hint at the entire circle of existence and at the two bows of descension and ascension. So, “Name of Allah” is the state of the Oneness of “contraction and expansion” [qabd wa bast]. “The Beneficent” is the state of “expansion and appearance,” which is the bow of descension, and “The Merciful” is the state of “contraction and covertness,” which is the bow of ascension.
“All praise is for Allah” is possibly a reference to the world of Might ['ālam-i jabarūt] and the Higher kingdom, whose realities are the absolute praisings. “The Lord of the worlds” that concerns “education” and “worlds,” which is the state of differentiation [sawā'iyyat], is probably a reference to the worlds of nature, which, by the substance of essence, are moving, passing, and under education. “The Owner of the Day of Judgment” refers to the state of Unity, Omnipotence [qahhāriyyat] and the return of the circle of existence. Up to here the entire circle of existence, descending and ascending, has been covered.
In the second place we say that the isti'ādhah, which is an act of supererogation, can be a reference to forsaking other than Allah, and running away from the Satanic domain. And, as this is a preliminary [stage] to the other states, not a part of them since abandoning is the preliminary to be adorned [with virtues], and in itself it is not of the states of perfection therefore, the isti'ādhah is not a part of the sūrah, but a prelude to enter into it.
The tasmiyah [the bismillāh] may point to the state of the Unity of Acts and of Essence, and joining both together. “All praise is for Allah” up to “The Lord of the worlds” may be a reference to the Unity of Acts. Perhaps “The Owner of the Day of Judgment” is a hint at complete annihilation and Unity of Essence, and from “You do we worship” the state of sobriety and return starts. In other words, isti'ādhah is a journey from the creatures to Allah, a coming out of the house of the soul.
“Tasmiyah” is a reference to “realizing the love of Allah” [tahaqquq beh haqqāniyyat] after taking off creation and multiplicity. “All praise is for Allah” up to “The Lord of the worlds” is a reference to the journey from Allah, by Allah and in Allah. This journey terminates by “The Owner of the Day of Judgment.” In “You do we worship” the journey from Allah to the creatures begins with the attainment of sobriety and return.
This journey ends with “Guide us to the straight path.”
In the third place we say that this noble sūrah contains the main divine objectives in the Qur'an, since the principal objectives of the Qur'an are: the completion of knowing Allah and acquiring the three Unities, the connection between Allah and the creatures, how to travel to Allah, the return of the raqā'iq (the divine means) to the “Truth of the truths” [haqīqat al-haqā'iq], introducing the divine manifestations, collectively [jam'-an] and distinctly [tafsīl-an], in single [fard-an] and in compound [tarkīb-an], directing the creatures, in sulūk and in realization [tahaqquq-an], and teaching the servants, in knowledge, practice, gnosticism and vision. All these facts are contained in this noble sūrah, much brief and short as it is.
Therefore, this noble sūrah is “The Opening of the Book,” “The Mother of the Book” and the general form of the objectives of the Qur'an. And, as all the objectives of the Divine Book return to a single objective, i.e. the truth of monotheism, which is the goal of all prophethood and the ultimate aim of all the great prophets ('a), and the truths and the secrets of monotheism are contained in the noble āyah of bismillāh, so, this noble āyah is the greatest of the divine āyahs and contains all the objectives of the Divine Book, as is confirmed by the noble hadīth97.
As the “bā'” [ب] is the appearance of tawhīd, and the dot98 under it is its secret, the, whole Book, its overt and covert, is in that “ba'” [ب]. And the perfect man, that is, the blessed person of 'Alī ('a) is the very dot of the secret of tawhīd.99 There is no āyah in the world greater than that blessed person after the Seal of the Messengers (s), as is stated in the noble hadīth.100
Some noble narratives related about the merit [fadl] of this blessed Sūrah:
The Messenger of Allah (s) has been quoted to have said to Jābir ibn 'Abdullāh al-Ansārī (may Allah be pleased with him): “O Jābir, don't you want me to teach you the most merited sūrah revealed by Allah in His Book?” Jābir said: “O yes, may my father and mother be your ransom, Messenger of Allah, teach me.” He, thus, taught him [sūrah] “al-Hamd,” the Mother of the Book. Then he said: “O Jābir, don't you want me to tell you about it?” “Yes, may my father and mother be your ransom, Messenger of Allah, tell me,” said Jābir. “It is a cure for every ailment except death,” he said.101
Ibn 'Abbās related that the Messenger (s) once said: “For everything there is a foundation. The foundation of the Qur'an is 'the Opening' [sūrah] and the foundation of the 'Opening' is bismillāh 'ir-Rahmān 'ir-Rahīm (In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful).102
He is also quoted to have said: “The Opening [sūrah] of the Book is the cure for every illness.”103
Imām Ja'far as-Sādiq ('a) is quoted to have said that if the sūrah of the Opening did not cure a person, nothing else would cure him.104
Imām 'Alī ('a) is quoted to have said that the Messenger of Allah (s) said: “Allah, the Exalted, told me:
“O Muhammad, We have given you sab 'ul mathānī [another name of the sūrah of the “Opening”] and the great Qur'an.”105
I am graced with a separate favor by the Opening of the Book, which is put on the same level as the Qur'an. Indeed, the Opening of the Book is the most honored thing in the treasures of the 'Arsh, and Allah, the Exalted, has bestowed its honor upon Muhammad (s), sharing no one of the prophets in it, except Solomon, to whom Allah gave the Bismillāh of the Opening sūrah, i.e. Bismillāh 'ir-Rahmān 'ir-Rahīm, as Bilqīs says:
“An honorable letter has been thrown to me. It is from Solomon, and it is: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.”106
So, whoever recites it, believing in loving Muhammad and his offspring, obeying its command and believing in its outside and inside, Allah, the Exalted, will grant him, for each of its letters a favor, which is, in fact, preferred to the whole world and whatever is in it of different kinds of properties and good things. Whoever listens to it being recited will get one-third of that which is given to its reciter. So, let everyone of you increase his share of this blessing offered to him, as it is a chance that you must not be late in taking it, otherwise your hearts will regret it much.107
Imām as-Sādiq ('a) is quoted to have said: “It is no wonder if [the sūrah of] al-Hamd is recited seventy times over a dead and it comes back to life.”108
The Messenger of Allah (s) is quoted to have said: “Whoever recites the sūrah of 'the Opening of the Book' will get the reward of reciting two-thirds of the Qur'an.109 Another narration says: “It will be like reciting the whole Qur'an.”110
Ubay ibn Ka'b narrated: “I recited to the Messenger of Allah (s) the sūrah of the Opening. He said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, Allah did not reveal in the Torah, nor in the Gospel, the Psalms or the Qur'an a sūrah like “The Opening of the Book.” It is ummul kitāb (The Mother of the Book) and as-sab 'ul-mathānī (the repeated seven [āyahs]). It is divided between Allah and His servant, and it is for His servant to demand whatever he wants.”111
Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamān (may Allah be pleased with him) is quoted to have said that the Messenger of Allah (s) said: “Allah, the Exalted, may send an inevitable punishment upon a nation. Then one of their children recites: 'All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds,' in the Book of Allah. On hearing this, Allah, The Most High, postpones torturing them for forty years.”112
Ibn 'Abbas said that once they were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (s) when an angel came and said: “Good tidings to you for the two lights which have been given to you, and never given to the prophets before you. They are 'The Opening of the Book' and the seals of the sūrah of al-Baqarah .No one recites a single word of them unless his demand is granted.”113 This narrative is also related in al-Majma', with nearly the same content.114