Question: The Qur`an mentions the fact that there is no fear or sadness for the friends of Allah (Surat Yunus (10), Verse 62). If this is the case, then why do we read the following prayer in the Du’a of Friday (addressing Imam al-Zaman (ع)): “Peace be upon you O Pure one who is afraid!”
Fear is of two types: praiseworthy and blameworthy. Blameworthy fear, like fearing for ones’ life or fearing people and creatures is meaningless for the friends of Allah (awj). This is why Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (ع) has been narrated to have said “A believer fears no one other than Allah.” As the Noble Qur`an says “It is only Satan who frightens his followers. Do not fear him but fear Me if you believe.” Praiseworthy fear is fearing the majesty and greatness of Allah (awj). In this regard, the Noble Prophet (ص) has been narrated to have said “He who knows his Lord more, fears Him more.”
Praiseworthy fear is attributed to high-ranking wayfarers which is caused by feeling the greatness and majesty of the Lord and the manifestation of His attributes. This fear is a spiritual delight and doesn’t conflict with the verse “Know that the friends of Allah have no fear, nor are they sad.” What’s more, this type of fear is one of the perfections that the perfected individuals obtain. This is why we address the Twelfth Imam (ع) as so: “Peace be upon you O Pure One who fears the greatness of Allah Almighty.”
There are two kinds of fear: good and bad. The bad fear does not pertain to the saints and the friends of Allah (awj). This is the fear of people, the enemy, etc. In short it is the fear of creatures.
It has been related from Abu Dharr that he said, “The Noble Prophet advised me saying ‘In the path of Allah, do not fear any one who mocks you or discourages you.”1 Also, it has been related from Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq (ع) that he said, “The believers fear no one but Allah.”2 As the Qur`an has said,
‘This is the Devil that scares his friends by means of his rumours. If you have faith, fear Me, do not fear them.”3
The good fear, which is praiseworthy, is the fear of the greatness of Allah (awj). As Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (ع) has said, “Fear is the clothing of those who know Allah.”4 And as the Prophet of Allah (ص) has said, “Whoever amongst you knows Allah more, fears Him more.” 5
It is because of this that the great Prophet has said, “My fear of Allah is more than any of you.”6
The fruit of this fear is the fact that man takes refuge with Allah (awj) as Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (ع) has said, “If you fear creatures, you flee from them but if you fear Allah you take refuge in Him.”7
As the great ‘Arif, Khwaja ‘Abdullah Ansari, has said, “The way-station of humility gives birth to that of fear. Allah says, ‘He who fears the station of his Lord
[…Then surly the garden is the abode].’8
Fear is the bastion of faith, the elixir of piety, and the weapon of the believer. Fear is of three types: the first is fleeting, the second is living, the third is overpowering. The fear that is fleeting comes into the heart and quickly leaves. That is a fear which if it does not exist, there is no faith. Whoever has more faith, has more fear. Another is the living fear. That fear prevents the slave from sins. It shortens the hopes of man. The third is the fear that overwhealms. It brings the reality of fear and opens the door to ethical behaviour. It is the fear of the artifice and ruse [of Allah]. It prevents man from being negligent of his guilt and becoming complacent. The signs which show that a man has fallen for a ruse and stratagem are ten things: worship without sweetness accompanying it; continuing to sin without repentance; closing the door of prayer; knowledge without action; wisdom without intention and will; talking without limits and controls; closing the door of humility; associating with bad people; and above all of these are giving faith to a servant without discrimination and leaving a servant to fend for himself. This is the fear of those who repent.
The reality of fear is that the spiritual wayfarer, because he has given up hope of reaching his goal or because he expects a bad thing to happen in the future, looses his composure.
According to the elevation of the stature of a wayfarer, fear can be divided into three parts:
The fear of common people: This is the fear of the punishment of Allah (awj). They fear the anger of their Lord. Allah (awj) says,
“They fear the day when the hearts and eyes are perplexed and confused.”9
The fear of the mediocre: This is the fear of the Divine guile and artifice. Those who have hearts that tastes the presence of Allah (awj) and who continuously watch over their souls are punished with this type of fear. They always fear the fact that the grace of Allah (awj) could end for them and that the sweetness of Allah’s (awj) presence could vanish. Those who have set foot in this way-station have themselves become subject to Divine Guile since they have left “the Giver” for His “gifts.” Allah (awj) says,
“And for he who fears His Lord, there are two Gardens.”10
The fear of great souls who have living hearts: That means the acknowledgement of the greatness of Allah (awj). While witnessing the Beauty of Allah (awj), they also get a taste of His power. His beauty has showed itself to them with ultimate coyness and His honour has manifested itself with the show of self-sufficiency. Therefore the situation of the special friends of Allah (awj) differs from that of other people. The fear that occurs from witnessing the greatness of Allah (awj), and the manifestations of the Names of Allah (awj) unto their hearts, increases every moment. They are drowned in such spiritual pleasures. This fear doesn’t contradict the verse of the Qur`an that states:
“Know that the friends of God have no fear nor are they sad.”11
Because of this we say to Imam al-Zaman (ع), “Peace be upon you O Pure One who fears the greatness of Allah, Almighty.”12