Know that for the Salat, beside its form, there is a meaning, and apart from its exterior it has an interior; and as the exterior has its disciplines, neglecting which would render the outer form of the Salat invalid or incomplete, likewise its interior has cordial spiritual disciplines, neglecting which would render the spiritual Salat invalid or incomplete; whereas observing them would inspire the Salat with a heavenly spirit.
It would be possible that after paying attention to and observing the cordial inner disciplines, the musallī would have a share of the divine secret of the Salat of the “people of knowledge and of hearts” the Salat which is the delight of the people of sulūk1 and the reality of the mi'rāj (ascension) to the proximity of the Beloved. 2
Besides what was just said about the Salat's interior and unseen divine images, and in addition to its being in conformity with a kind of proof and the observations of the people of sulūk and asceticism, there are many āyahs and narratives, in general and particular, which denote that, too, and we shall bless the following pages by relating some of them.
Among them is the saying of Allah, the Most High:
“On the day when every soul shall find present what it has done of good and what it has done of evil, it shall wish that there were a long duration of time between it and that [day]…”3
This noble āyah says that everybody will see his good and bad deeds present and he will discern their unseen inner images. In another āyah He says:
“… and they shall find present what they have done,”4
“So, he who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it…,”5
Which means that the soul shall see its deeds.
As regards the noble Hadiths in this respect, they are too many to be contained in these pages. So, it suffices to state a few of them.
Among them, in the Wasā'il, quoting Imām as-Sādiq ('a), it is said: “Whoever performed the obligatory Salats at the beginning of their times and observed their restrictions, the angel would raise them, white and pure, to heaven, and the Salat would say (to the performer): “May Allah preserve you as you preserved me and entrusted me to a generous angel.”
But whoever performed them after their times, with no excuse, and did not observe their restrictions, the angel would raise them, black and dark, while the Salat shouting at the performer: “You have lost me, may Allah lose you, and may He not care for you as you did not care for me”. 6
It denotes that the Salat is raised by Allah's angels to heaven, white and pure, when it is performed at the start of its time and its disciplines are observed. In this case it invokes good for the musallī; or it will be dark and black if it is delayed, without a reasonable cause, and its disciplines are neglected, in which case it will curse him.
This hadīth, besides denoting the fact that there are heavenly unseen images, it also denotes that they are alive, as evidenced by āyahs and narratives. Allah, the Most High, says:
“… and the next abode, most surely, is the life…”7
There are many Hadiths to the same effect, relating which would lengthen the subject.
Imām as-Sādiq ('a) is quoted to have said: “When a believing servant is put into his grave, the Salat stands on his right and the zakāt on his left, his good deeds stand shadowing over him and forbearance stands aside. When the two angels in charge of interrogation enter the grave, forbearance tells the Salat, the zakāt and good deeds: “You have to help your friend. If you felt unable, I would be with him”.8
This noble hadīth is related in the noble al-Kāfī through two channels. Shaykh as-Sadūq (may Allah have mercy upon him) has related this hadīth in Thawāb al-A'māl. It speaks clearly of the unseen images of the barzakh, and their life and common sense. The Hadiths about the heavenly images of the Qur'an and the Salat are numerous.
With regard to what has been said that the Salat and other forms of worship have, besides their outward disciplines, other inward disciplines without which the Salat would be incomplete or even unacceptable to Allah, the following pages will numerate and state those cordial (inward) disciplines, inshā' Allāh (if Allah wills).
What one should know, however, in this stage, is that to satisfy oneself with the appearance and outer form of the Salat, and to be deprived of its blessings and inner perfections which bring about eternal happiness, or rather, bring one to the proximity of the Lord of Might, and set up the ladder of ascent to the stage of meeting the Absolute Beloved the Ultimate Goal of the godly men and the Final Hope of the people of knowledge and those who have “hearts”, or rather, the Beloved of the Master of the Messengers (s)9 is one of the heavier losses, as it will be after leaving this world and entering the reckoning (day) of Allah the cause of so great regrets that our minds are incapable of comprehending them.
As long as we are enwrapped in the veils of this world, and live in the covers of nature, we cannot have knowledge of the other world, and cannot keep warm by a remote fire. What regret, remorse and loss can be greater than that after forty or fifty years of toiling for the sake of attaining a thing which is the means of man's perfection and happiness, and the remedy for the pains of the cordial deficiencies, and it is, in fact, the image of the human perfection, we cannot be spiritually benefited by it, and rather, it becomes the cause of tarnishing the heart and brings dark veils, and what is the pleasure of the Messenger (s) causes the weakness of our insight:
“…Alas for me, for what I fell short of my duty to Allah…”10
So, dear, tuck up the skirt of aspiration, extend the hand of demand, bear every labor and hardship in order to reform your affairs and acquire the spiritual conditions of the Salat of the people of knowledge, and make use of this divine mixture [ma'jūn], which is prepared with the complete understanding [kashf] of Muhammad (s) for the sake of soothing all the pains and deficiencies of the souls.
Since it is still not too late, try to break camp and leave this dungeon of darkness, regret and remorse, this deep pit, which is far away from the holy presence of the Lord, the Exalted and Most High. Release yourself and try to reach the ascension [mi'rāj] of union [wisāl] and the proximity of perfection. Beware! If this means were lost, other means would fit: “If it was accepted, other deeds would be accepted, and if it was rejected, other deeds would be rejected, too.” 11
We shall explain, as much as possible and necessary, the inner disciplines of this spiritual sulūk, so that someone of the people of faith may have a share of it. This might as well be a cause for the divine mercy and the unseen care to be bestowed upon me, lagging as I am in the way to happiness and humanity, and chained in the prison of nature and selfishness. Surely Allah is the Patron of generosity and care.