Degrees Of Recitation And The Groups Of Reciters
Know that for the recitation during this spiritual journey and divine ascension there are degrees and stages, and here we shall suffice ourselves with some of them.
First, the reciter is one who pays no attention to other than improving the recitation and bettering the expression. His only care is for the good utterance of these words and correct pronunciation of the letters from their correct outlets so that a duty can be performed and an order be fulfilled. It is well known that the task for such persons is heavy and difficult; their hearts are unwilling and their insides are deviated.
These have no share of worship, though they are not punished with the punishment of the deserter [of the salāt], unless from the invisible treasure a grace appears and the said chattering receives a beneficence and a favor. It sometimes happens that this group, while their tongues are busy remembering Allah, their hearts are completely away from that, engaged in the mundane multiplicity and worldly matters.
As a matter of fact, the people in this group are outwardly in the salāt, while inwardly and actually they are busy with this world and worldly desires and whims. Sometimes it also happens that their hearts busy themselves thinking about correcting the formal shape of the salāt. In this case they are busy, by both the tongue and the heart, with the form of the salāt, and it is acceptable and agreeable from them.
The second group is those who would not be contented with that limit and take the salāt to be a means of remembering Allah, and the reciting to be praising and glorifying Him. This group is of many ranks and degrees, the mentioning of which would be lengthy. Probably it is this group to which the following Divine Hadīth refers:
“I have divided the salāt between Me and My servant, half of it for Me and half of it for My servant. When he says: 'In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,' Allah will say: 'My servant has remembered Me,' and when he says: 'All praise is for Allah,' Allah says: 'My servant has praised and glorified Me,' and this is the meaning of 'Allah hears from the one who praises Him.'
And when he says: 'The Beneficent, the Merciful,' Allah says: 'My servant aggrandized Me. And when he says: 'Master of the Day of Judgment,' Allah says: 'My servant glorified Me.' [In another version: 'My servant has entrusted himself to Me']. And when he says: 'you do we worship and You do we seek help from,' Allah says: 'This is between Me and My servant.' And when he says: 'Guide us to the straight path,' Allah says: 'My servant has this right, and it is granted to him.”1
Now as the salāt, according to this noble hadīth, is divided between Allah and the servant, the servant has to completely pay what is due to Him, according to the discipline of servitude stated in this noble hadīth, so that Allah, the Exalted, may treat him as is becoming of His Lordly graces, since He says:
“And fulfill my covenant; I shall fulfill your covenant.”2
Allah, the Exalted, confined the disciplines of servitude in recitation to four pillars:
The first one is “remembrance” [tadhakkur] which is to happen by “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,” and the sālik servant should look at the entire “House of Realization” [dār-i tahaqquq] as a name perished in the Named [musammā].
He should teach his heart to be seeking the Haqq and wanting the Haqq in every particle of “the possibles” [mumkināt], and bring the natural disposition of learning the names which is fixed in the nature of his essence according to the requirement of the universality of the growth [nash'ah] and its being the manifestation of the Great Name of Allah, to which Allah refers by saying: “And He taught Adam all the names,”3 to the state of actuality and manifestation. Such a state is the result of having privacy with Allah and of deep remembrance and contemplating the divine affairs [shu'ūn], to the extent that the heart becomes a complete divine servant such that there can be found in every nook of it no name except that of Allah, the Exalted.
This is a stage of perishing in divinity that (even) the relapsed and hard hearts of the deniers cannot deny what we have just said, unless their denial be satanic, for such hearts feel repulsion, by nature, on hearing Allah's name or His remembrance, may God save us from that! If a word of divine knowledge or one of Allah's Names was mentioned, they would feel distressed.
They would not open the eyes of their hearts except at the desires of the appetites of the stomach and sex. There are among these people those who admit for the prophets and holy men [awliyā] ('a) nothing other than corporeal states and bodily Paradise, i.e. satisfying the animal desire. They take the greatness of the states of the other world to be similar to the greatness of this world, with vast orchards, running rivers and a multitude of houris and youths and palaces.
When there is a talk about love, affection and divine attraction, they assault the speaker with vulgar language and ugly words, as if they themselves have been insulted and they were retaliating. These people block the way of humanity and they are the thorns of the road to knowing Allah, and the satans who deceive men, hindering groups upon groups of the servants of Allah from Allah, His names, His attributes, His remembrance and remembering, and directing their attentions to the animal stomach and sexual desires.
They are satanic agents who sit in ambush on the straight path of Allah according to the āyah:
“I shall surely lurk in ambush for them on your straight path,”4
In order to prevent the servants of Allah from getting familiar with their Lord and from ridding themselves of the darkness of animal desires, including inclination towards houris and palaces. These people may resort to evidences from the invocations of the prophets and the infallible Ahl al-Bayt ('a) in which they also demand houris and palaces.
But this is due to the shortcomings of this group who recognize no difference between loving Allah's grace, which is loved because it is the gift of the Beloved, in itself being a sign of affection and care, and merely loving the houris and palaces independently, which is within the nature of the animal desire. Loving Allah's gifts is Loving Allah, which consequently covers the favors of Allah and His graces:
I love the whole world, for the whole world is of Him.5
The love of the abode did not infatuate me, but the love of the one who resides therein.6
Otherwise, what would, 'Alī ibn Abī Tālib ('a) do with houris and palaces? How could that great man be associated with the appetites of the self and the animal desires? The one whose worship is that of a free man, his reward cannot be that of traders. The rein of the pen snapped and I wandered away from the main subject.
In general, the one who is accustomed to reciting divine āyahs and names from the Book of divine genesis and record, his heart will gradually take the form of remembrance and of an āyah, and the interior of his essence will turn out to be Allah's remembrance, His name and His āyah, as they interpret “remembrance” to be the noble Prophet and 'Alī ibn Abī Tālib ('a), and “The Beautiful Names” to be the Imāms of guidance ('a). Āyatullāh is also interpreted to be those great men and it is conformed to them.
They are the divine āyahs, the Beautiful Names of Allah and the great remembrance of Allah. The state of “remembrance” is such a high one that it is beyond the patience of explanation and the limits of writing and recording. It suffices for the people of knowledge and divine attraction, and the people of affection and love, as in the āyah:
“Therefore remember Me; I shall remember you.”7
Allah, the Exalted, tells Moses ('a): “I am the companion of whoever remembers Me.”8 A narrative in al-Kāfī says that the Messenger of Allah (s) said: “Whoever remembers Allah frequently, He will like him.”9
In Wasā'il ash-Shī'ah, Imām Ja'far as-Sādiq is quoted to have said that Allah, the Exalted, said: “O son of Adam, remember Me in yourself; I will remember you in Myself. O son of Adam, remember Me in privacy, I will remember you in privacy. O son of Adam, remember Me in public, I will remember you in a public better than yours.” He also said: “No servant remembers Allah in the presence of the people unless Allah remembers him in the presence of the angels.”10
The second pillar is “praising” Allah [tahmīd], as is the musallī's saying: “All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.”
Know that when the musallī attains the state of “remembrance”, and regards all the particles of the beings, and the high and low creatures, to be divine names, and when he dismisses from his heart the idea of being self-sufficient, and looks at the beings of the visible and invisible worlds with the eye of dependence, he will be in the stage of “praising,” and his heart will confess that all kinds of praising exclusively belong to the Divine Essence, and the others have no share of it, because they have no personal perfection requiring any sort of praising and glorifying. We shall explain in detail this divine grace, in our interpretation of this blessed sūrah, inshā'allāh (Allah willing).
The third pillar is “magnifying” [ta'zīm], which is established by “The Beneficent, the Merciful.” When the servant traveling to Allah has, under the pillar of “praising”, confined all praise to Allah, excluding the existential multiplicities from perfection and praise, he will get nearer to the horizon of Oneness, his eye of plurality will gradually get blind to multiplicity, and the form of Beneficence [rahmāniyyat] which is the expansion of the existence and the form of Mercifulness [rahīmiyyat] which is the expansion of the perfection of the existence will be manifested to his heart, and he will call Allah by the two names, which are all-embracing and comprehensive, and in which multiplicities are vanished. So, the manifestation of perfection causes the heart to feel awe from the Beauty, and thus, Allah's greatness is implanted in his heart.
As this condition is fixed, he will move to the fourth pillar, which is the state of “sanctifying” [taqdīs], and it is actually “glorifying” [tamhīd]. In other words, it is entrusting the affairs to Allah, that is, discerning the position of Ownership and Omnipotence of Allah, and the falling down of the dust of plurality [kathrat] and the breaking of the idols of the heart and the appearance of the owner of the house of the heart, and possessing it with no Satanic intruding.
In this condition he reaches the stage of privacy, and there will be no veil between the servant and Allah, and “You do we worship and You do we seek help from,” takes place in that particular privacy and the meeting of familiarity. For this reason He said: “This is between Me and My servant.” And when the everlasting favor encompasses him and awakens him, he will demand consistency of this stage and establishment [tamkīn] of His Presence, by requesting: “Guide us to the straight path,” in which, “Guide us” is interpreted to mean: “Make us firm, consistent and steady.”
This is for those who have slipped out of the veil and attained “the Eternally Wanted” [matlūb-i azal]. As to us, the people of the veil, we will have to ask Allah, the Exalted, for guidance with its ordinary concept. This may further be explained in the exegesis of the blessed sūrah of al-Hamd, inshā'allāh (Allah willing).
From the noble Divine Hadīth11 [hadīth-i qudsī] it appears that the salāt is completely divided between Allah and the servant, and only the sūrah of al-Hamd was given as an example. So, we may add, for example, that the takbīrs of the salāt, whether the opening takbīrs or the other ones which are said during changing states in the salāt, are the share of Divinity, the portion of the Sacred Essence.
If the servant traveling to Allah performed this duty of servitude and carried out what was due to Divinity as his capacity was capable of, Allah, the Exalted, with His everlasting special favors, would also grant His servant his due share, which is the opening of the door of intimacy and revelation, as is referred to in the noble hadīth in Misbāh ash-Sharī'ah: “As you utter the takbīr, regard small all creatures in relation to the greatness of Allah,” and it adds: “Examine your heart during the salāt.
If you tasted the sweetness of the salāt, and if in your soul you felt pleased and gay by it, and your heart enjoyed the supplication to Allah and conversing with Him, know that Allah has approved your takbīrs. Otherwise, without feeling pleasure in supplication, and being deprived of tasting the sweetness of worship, you should know that Allah has denied you and dismissed you from His Threshold.”12
Consequently, in each one of the acts and states of the salāt, there is a share for Allah, and the servant is to perform it, being the disciplines of servitude at that stage. The servant also has his share, which, after performing what the discipline of servitude requires, Allah, out of His covert grace and overt mercy, will bestow upon him His favor. If in these divine times he found himself deprived of His special favors, he must know that he did not act according to the disciplines of servitude.
The relevant sign for the common people is that the heart does not taste the sweetness of supplication and the delicacy of worship, and he is deprived of the cheerfulness, pleasure and devotion to Allah. The worship that is void of delight and pleasure is spiritless, and it will not be useful for the heart.
So, dear, make your heart familiar with the disciplines of servitude, and let your soul [rūh] taste the sweetness of remembering Allah. This divine grace, at the beginning, takes place through intense remembrance and intimacy. During remembrance the heart must not be dead or overcome by negligence. Having taught your heart to be familiar with remembrance, the divine favors will gradually be bestowed upon you, and the heavenly doors will be opened to you, and this is marked by repulsion from this world, by inclination towards the world of eternity, and by preparedness for death before its arrival.
O Allah! Grant us to have a share of tasting the pleasure of supplicating to you and the sweetness of conversing with you. Place us among the remembering group and in the circle of those who are devoted to Your Glorified Sanctity, and bestow upon our dead hearts an everlasting life, and make us break off the others and make us inclined to be devoted to You, surely You are the Giver of favor and grace.
- 1. Al-Mahajjat al-Baydā', vol. 1, p. 388; Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 92, p. 226. Sahīh Muslim, vol. 2, p. 92, with differences in expression.
- 2. Sūrah al-Baqarah 2:40.
- 3. Ibid., 31.
- 4. Sūrah al-A'rāf 7:16.
- 5. This is the second hemistich of a line from Sa'dī's poetry, as below:
By the world I am cheerful as the world is cheerful by Him,
I love the whole world as the whole world is of Him.
- 6. A line from the poetry of Majnūn 'Āmirī (Qays ibn al-Mulawwah al-'Āmirī). Jamī' ash-Shawāhid, p. 220, ch. “The W with the M.”
- 7. Sūrah al-Baqarah 2:152
- 8. Usūl al-Kāfī, vol.4, p.255,“Book of Invocation,”ch. on “That Which is Obligatory of Remembering Allah,” hadīth 4.
- 9. Ibid., hadīth 3.
- 10. Wasā'il ash-Shī'ah, vol. 4, “Book of the Salāt”, sec. on “Remembrance,” ch. 7, hadīth 4, p. 1185.
- 11. Refer to footnote 351
- 12. Misbāh ash-Sharī'ah, ch. 13, “At Ending the Salāt”; Al-Mahajjat al-Baydā,' printed by as-Sadūq Library, vol. 1, p. 385; Mustadrak al-Wasā'il, “The Book of as-Salāt,” sec. on “The Acts of the Salāt,” ch.2, hadīth 9.