Discussed in Two Chapters
Know that the people of knowledge regard the qiyām (the standing position in the Salat) to be a sign of Unity of Actions. Similarly, they see that the rukū' (bowing in the Salat) refers to the Unity of Attributes, and the sujūd (prostration) refers to the Unity of Essence these will be explained in their proper places. But qiyām's reference to the Unity of Action is in the very standing position as well as in the wordings recited while standing.
As to the standing position and its reference to the Unity of Action, it is because it denotes the servant's observation of his duty toward Allah, as well as His position [maqām] of Self-Existence, manifested in the Sacred Emanation as a manifestation of Action. In this manifestation the position of Allah's Activeness [fā'iliyyat] is displayed, and all the beings are absorbed in the manifestation of Action and perished under the Manifest Majesty.
In this instance, the gnostic discipline of the sālik is to remind his heart of this divine grace and to give up, as much as he can, his personal individuations [ta'ayyunāt-i nafsiyyah], and to explain to his heart the truth of the Sacred Emanation, and to bring to the core of his heart the fact concerning Allah's Self-Existence [qayyūmiyyat] and that the creatures are dependent upon Him.
Hence, after the fixation of this fact in the sālik's heart, his recitation will be by the tongue of the Haqq (Allah), and the praiser [dhākir] and the praised [madhkūr] will be the Haqq (Allah) Himself, and some of the secrets of the Fate will be exposed to the gnostic's heart, and “You are as You praised Yourself” 1 and “I take refuge in You from You”2 will be disclosed to him in some degrees, and the heart of the gnostic will receive some of the secrets of the Salat, such as looking at the place of prostration, which is of dust, the principal origin (of man), or subjugating the neck and declining the head, as required, implying humility and destitution of “the possible”, and the annihilation under the Might and the Sovereignty of (His) Majesty.
“O mankind! It is you who are in need of Allah, and Allah is He who is the Self-Sufficient, the Praised One.” 3
As concerning the wordings of the recitation being a reference to the Unity of Action, we shall explain that in details when we come to comment on the blessed sūrah of al-Hamd, inshā' Allāh (Allah willing).
These [disciplines] are such that the sālik is to consider himself present in the Presence [mahdar] of Allah, and regard the world as His Presence, and himself one of the audience at that gathering, standing before Allah, trying to convey the Greatness of the Present and the Presence to his heart, letting it understand the importance and the significance of supplicating to Allah, the Exalted, and, by thinking and contemplating, before starting the Salat, to prepare the heart to understand the importance of the situation, obliging it to humbleness, submission, calmness, fear, hope, humility and modesty till the end of the Salat.
He is to stipulate that his heart should be keen on observing these affairs, and think about the great holy men and guides, and about their moods and how their conducts with the Master of the kings were, so as to learn a lesson from the Imāms of guidance and imitate them as his models, not being satisfied with just knowing the names of the infallible Imāms, the date of their birthday, death day, the length of their honorable lives and similar details, which are of little advantage.
Actually, he is to go through their biography and godly conducts, in order to find out the method of their worship and how their journey to Allah was carried out, and how their gnostic stations, which can be inferred from their miraculous speeches, were.
It is much regretted that we are negligent, intoxicated by nature, empty self-conceited and the stooges of the vile Satan in all matters, without there being any sign of our getting up from our deep sleep and endless forgetfulness. We get so little benefit from the positions and the knowledge of the Imāms of guidance ('a) that it is negligible, satisfying ourselves with the outer appearance of their lives, completely disregarding the objectives for which the prophets have been sent, and, actually, we are covered by the proverb: “To take a swelling for a fleshy.”4 We shall, therefore, relate some of the relevant narratives, so that some of the believing brethren may have a remembrance. Praise be to Allah and thanks to Him!
Muhammad ibn Ya'qūb, quoting Imām as-Sadiq ('a), says: “Whenever 'Alī ibn al-Husayn ('a) used to stand for the Salat, his face turned pale. Going down for prostration, he would not raise his head until he was wet with perspiration.”5
On the same authority he says: “My father used to say, when 'Alī ibn al-Husayn ('a) used to stand for the Salat, he looked like a trunk of a tree, nothing of which would move unless the wind would move it.”6
In al-'Ilal, Abān ibn Taghlīb, quoting Muhammad ibn 'Alī ibn al-Husayn, says: “I said to Abū 'Abdullāh [as-Sadiq] ('a): 'I noticed that when 'Alī ibn al-Husayn ('a) stood for the Salat, his color changed.' He said to me: By Allah, 'Alī ibn al-Husayn knew before whom he was standing.' 7
In a hadīth in Falāh as-Sā'il, on the authority of as-Sayyid 'Alī ibn Tāwūs, it is said: “...then Abū 'Abdullāh ('a) said: 'The Salat will not be complete except for the one who has a full purity and a mature completeness, and is away from temptation and deviation, and knows [Allah] and [so] stands [before Him], submits [to Him] and persists.
He, thus, stands between despair and hope, [between] patience and worry, as if the promises to him have been done, and the threats upon him have happened, lowering his fame ['ird] and manifesting his aim. He sacrifices for Allah his soul, treads upon the road to Him as his goal, not unwillingly, severs the relations of interest for the sake of the One to Whom he bounds and comes, and from whom he seeks help. Should he achieve all these, the Salat would be of the ordered type and of the informed about, and it is the very Salat which forbids evil and vice.”8
Muhammad ibn Ya'qūb, quoting our master, Zayn al-'Ābidīn ('a), says that he said: “As regards the rights of the Salat, you are to know that it is a visit to Allah and that in it you are standing before Him. If you realized that, you would deserve to be, through it, in the position of a slave who is humble, desirous, horrified, frightened, hopeful, distressed, imploring, and glorifying the state of the One in front of Whom he stands with complete stillness, solemnity, submissiveness of the limbs, humility, well supplicating to Him for himself, requesting Him to free his neck, which is encircled by his faults and consumed by his sins; and there is no power except by Allah.9
The Prophet (s) is quoted to have said: “Worship your Lord as if you see Him. If you do not see Him, He sees you.10
In Fiqh 'ur-Ridā it is stated: “When you want to perform the Salat, do not go to it lazily, sleepily, hurriedly, or unmindfully. You are to approach it calmly, solemnly and slowly. You are also to display submission, imploringly and humbly, to Allah. You are to show awe and sings of fear and hope, with caution and apprehension. Thus, you are to stand before Him, as an escapee and sinful slave stands at attention before his master, on the alert, with joined heels, erected trunk, not looking to right and left, reckoning as if you see Him, and if you do not, He certainly does see you…” as the hadīth goes.11
In 'Uddat 'ud-Dā'ī it is stated: “It is narrated that the imploring moanings of Ibrāhīm ('a) used to be heard from a mile's distance, such that Allah praised him by saying:
“Ibrāhīm was mild, imploring, penitent.”12
When performing his Salat, a sound of fizz, like that of a boiler, was heard coming from his chest. A similar sound was also heard from the chest of our Prophet (s). Fātimah ('a) used to pant in the Salat because of her fear of Allah.”13 And there are other similar Hadiths.
There are too many noble narratives on these subjects to be covered in these papers. Contemplating these few narratives suffices the people of thought and remembrance, in respect of the formal, cordial and spiritual disciplines, as well as concerning the way of standing before Allah.
Think a little of the conditions of 'Alī ibn al-Husayn, the supplications of that great man and his implorings to Allah, the Exalted as well as his elegant invocations, by which he taught the disciplines of servitude to the servants of Allah. I do not allege that the supplications of those great men were intended to teach how to worship, for it would be an empty and meaningless statement prompted by being ignorant of the state of Lordship and of the knowledge of Ahl al-Bayt ('a).
Their fear and awe were much greater than anybody else's, and the Greatness and Majesty of Allah were manifested in their hearts more than in anyone else's heart. I only say that the servants of Allah should learn from them how to worship Allah and how to travel to Him. When you read what they used to say in their supplications and invocations, you should not read them as mere pronunciations of the tongue. They should be pondered upon, and their behavior with Allah, their displaying humility, inefficiency and destitution, are also to be noted.
By the Beloved! 'Alī ibn al-Husayn was one of the greatest blessings which Allah, the Most High, had bestowed upon His servants as a grace, bringing him down from the sacred world of Proximity, for the sake of teaching the ways of servitude to His servants:
“Then, on that Day, you shall most certainly be questioned about the bliss.”14
If we are asked: “Why did you not appreciate the value of that bliss and did not get benefit from that great man?” we shall have no reply but to droop down our heads for being ashamed, and to be burnt with the fire of remorse and regret, when no regret would avail.
My dear, now that the chance is available, and you are still in the prime of life, the way of journeying to Allah is open, the doors of His mercy are not closed, the soundness of the organs and powers is obtained and the land of planting [dār az-zar'] in the material world is still there, strive to realize the value of these divine favors in order to be benefited by them. Try to acquire the spiritual perfections and the eternal happiness.
Take advantage of all these branches of knowledge which the honorable divine Qur'an and the infallible Ahl al-Bayt ('a) have spread in the land of the dark nature, and illuminated the world with their divine bright light. Enlighten the land of your dark nature, as well as your eyes, ears, tongue and your other external and internal powers, with the light of Allah, the Exalted, and change this dark earth to another one, luminous, or rather to an intellectual heaven:
“On the day when the earth shall be changed to a different earth,”15
“And the earth shall beam with the light of its Lord.”16
On that day, if your earth is not changed to a different one, and if it is not lighted with the light of the Lord, you will encounter darkness, difficulty, horror, pressure, humility and torture.
At present, our external and internal powers are darkened with satanic darkness. Should we remain so, our material earth with its inborn light will gradually change into a dark dungeon, empty of the inborn light and veiled from the rules of the divine disposition.
This is misfortune entailing no happiness, a darkness which comes to no luminosity, a horror which does not see the face of tranquility, and a torment which has no comfort with it:
“…And to whomsoever Allah does not give light, he has no light.”17
I take refuge in Allah, the Exalted, from the satanic conceitedness and from the evil-commanding soul.
The principal objective of the great prophets, in legislating the laws, in establishing the rules and in the coming down of the heavenly books especially the all-embracing Holy Qur'an, the projector of whose pure light is the Seal of the Messengers (s) is spreading monotheism and divine knowledge, and uprooting infidelity, atheism, hypocrisy and dualism, for the secret of monotheism and abstraction is flowing in all the cordial and formal worships.
The Shaykh, the gnostic and perfect, Shāhābādī, (may my soul be his ransom), used to say: “Worship is the operation of tawhīd [monotheism] in the kingdom of the body from the inside of the heart.”
In short, the sought-for result of worship is acquiring knowledge, confirming monotheism and other knowledge in the heart. This objective cannot be attained except when the sālik vindicates his cordial shares of worship, and passes from the shape and form to the core and the truth, without lingering in this world and the surface, for loitering in such affairs is a hindrance [thorn] in the way of mankind.
Those who call for the mere external appearance [sūrat], preventing the people from the internal disciplines, alleging that religion has no meaning and no reality other than its appearance and surface, are but the satans on the road to Allah, and the thorns in the way of humanity. To be saved from their evil, one has to take refuge in Allah, the Exalted, for they extinguish the divine inborn light, which is the light of [divine] knowledge, tawhīd, guardianship and other kinds of knowledge, and draw the covers of imitation, ignorance, tradition ['ādat] and fancies [awhām] on it, deter the servants of Allah, the Exalted, from advancing to His threshold, and from reaching to His Beautiful Beauty, and block the way of knowledge.
They direct the pure and sincere hearts of Allah's servants in which He, with His hand of Beauty and Majesty, hid the seeds of knowledge in their disposition, and sent the great prophets and heavenly Books to breed and bring them upto the world, to its ornaments, to its materialities and corporalities, and to its falsities, and divert them from spiritualities and intellectual happiness, confining the invisible world and the promised paradises exclusively to food, drink, sex and other animal desires.
They think that Allah, the Exalted, has laid out His table-cloth of mercy, sent down, with so much ceremony, His Books, employed His noble angels and assigned great prophets, just for the sake of satisfying hunger and sex. The most they know is: Take care of your stomach and sex drive so that you may satisfy your desire in the other world. The importance which they attach to a sexual intercourse lasting for five hundred years [in Paradise according to a narrative] they do not attach to tawhīd and prophethood, and they take knowledge to be a preliminary to satiate their libido and gluttony.
If a godly philosopher, or a divine gnostic, wanted to open a door of mercy to the servants of Allah, or to read a paper of divine wisdom to them, they would spare no abuse, curse and forged accusations without throwing them at him. They are so indulged in mundane affairs, and so concerned about sex and stomach, unknowingly, that they do not desire any other happiness in this world except satisfying their animal lust, despite the fact that the intellectual happiness, should they care for it, would not injure their lust for sex and food.
Like ourselves, since we have not yet crossed the limit of animality, we think of nothing but food and sex, to which we may attain by the grace of Allah, the Exalted. We are not, however, to believe that happiness is confined to that, and that the paradise of Allah, the Exalted, is restricted only to this paradise of animals. As a matter of fact, Allah, the Exalted, has such worlds that no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard of, and never occurred to any heart. Yet, the people of divine love and knowledge pay attention to none of those paradises, and are interested in neither of the invisible and visible worlds. To them, paradise is meeting Allah.
If we want to relate the relevant Qur'anic āyahs and the Hadiths quoted from the infallible Ahl al-Bayt, it would not be within the scope of these papers. Actually, even what has been said was out of the overflowing of the pen. Our major objective is to direct the attention of the hearts of the servants of Allah to what they have been created for, that is, to know Allah, which is superior to all sorts of happiness, and everything else is but a preliminary to it.
By referring to “the thorns on the road of the sulūk”, we did not mean the great 'ulamā' of Islam, nor the honorable faqīhs of the Ja'farī school (may Allah's contentment be upon them), but we do mean some of the people of ignorance and those who pretend to be of the people of knowledge by means of insufficiency [qusūr] and ignorance [jahl], not by means of negligence [taqsīr] and abstinacy ['inād],and who became highway robbers of the servants of Allah. I take refuge in Allah from the evil of an overflowing pen, bad intention and false objective. Praise be to Allah at the beginning and the end, externally and internally.