Know that the sālik to Allah has to announce attending the Meeting [mahdar], in the adhān, to the heart, which is the sultan of the covert and overt powers, and to other soldiers scattered throughout the visible and invisible realms. As the time of the presence and meeting has drawn near, he is to prepare them, so that, if he is of the eager lovers, he may not lose control at the sudden appearance of a manifestation; and if he is of the veiled, he may not enter the Sacred Presence [mahdar] without making ready the means and the disciplines for the occasion.
Thus, the general secret of the adhān is the announcement to the overt and covert powers and the divine armies to attend the Meeting. Its general discipline is to be aware of the greatness of the position, its significance and the majesty of the Presence and the Present, and it is the servility, helplessness, poverty, incapability, and shortcoming of the “possible” (existent) in carrying out orders and deserving to attend the Meeting [mahdar], unless the kindness and mercy of Allah, the Most High, extend the helping hand to make up for the shortcomings.
The iqāmah is to set up the visible and invisible powers in the Presence and to make them present in the Meeting; and its discipline is fear, awe, shyness, shame, and a firm hope in the boundless mercy. The sālik, during all the chapters of the adhān and the iqāmah, is to continually inform the heart about the greatness of the Meeting, Presence and the Present, and to continually think of his own humility, inability and shortcoming, in order to bring about (in the heart) fear and awe, while, on the other hand, he is to show to his heart Allah's vast mercy and generous kindness, in order to bring about (in it) hope and eagerness.
So, eagerness and attraction will conquer the loving hearts, and with the steps of love and affection they (the sāliks) will proceed to the Presence of Intimacy, and their hearts, by means of that invisible attraction, will, till the end of the Salat and through their love of the Presence and the Present, practice mutual embracing and fondling with remembering Allah and thinking of Him.
Imām 'Alī ibn Abū Tālib ('a) is quoted to have said: “The best of the people is the one who adores worship, embraces it, whole-heartedly loves it, touches it with his body and disengages himself for it. He would not care whether he gains his share of this world with difficulty or with ease.”1
And the fearing hearts will be overpowered by the manifestation of the Greatness, and overwhelmed by the attraction of the Omnipotence, so that they (the sāliks) will be led to ecstasy, their hearts will melt with fear and awe, and their personal shortcomings and their feeling of humility and inability will hold them back from everything.
In a hadīth Mūsā ibn Ja'far ('a) is quoted to have said: “Amīr al-Mu'minīn ('Alī) ('a) said: “Allah has servants whose hearts are broken by fearing Him, causing them to keep silent.”2
Sometimes Allah, the Exalted, manifests Himself to His perfect friends in a kind manifestation, and the attraction of love becomes their guide, as the hadīth says that the Messenger of Allah (s) used to be waiting for the time of the Salat, his longing ever increasing, until at last he would say to Bilāl (the Messenger's mu'adhdhin): “Relieve us, O Bilāl.”3 Sometimes He would manifest Himself through greatness and sovereignty, such that they feel they are filled with fear and awe.
Such states are related from the Messenger of Allah (s) and the Imāms of guidance ('a). Sometimes He manifests Himself in “the Collective Oneness” [jam'ī-i ahadī] according to the endurance of the hearts and the capacities of their vessels. We, the veiled, the busy with the world, the imprisoned in the prison of nature and in the chains of desires and hopes, and the deprived of the divine intellectual happiness, who, because of being drunken with nature, will not come back to sobriety nor get up from the deep sleep till the dawn of eternity, are out of the calculations of these divisions, and excluded from this declaration.
Thus, the disciplines of the Presence, which suit us are different, and the performance of the cordial duties has a different form. But what should be the first and foremost, before all else, is to drive out of the heart the despair of Allah's mercy, and prevent it from losing hope for His generosity, for these are of Iblīs' dangerous soldiers and of the inspirations of the human and jinn Satans. We should not imagine that those stations have been cut to suit particular persons, such that our hand of hope is too short to attain them, or man's treadings cannot reach them.
Hence, we should not mistake hand for foot, and with coldness and weakness, remain sticking to the land of nature forever. No, it is not like what has been imagined! But I still say that the special station of the perfect people of Allah is not possibly attainable by everybody. Yet, the spiritual stations and divine knowledge have unlimited degrees and many ranks. Many of those stations, sciences, states and stages are available to the (human) species, if only their coldness and weakness let them, and if only the obstinacy and fanaticism of the people of ignorance and obstinacy take their hands off the hearts of the servants of Allah, and they turn not to be Satans on the road of their travel to Allah.
So, the discipline of the Presence for us is that at the beginning, as we have not yet passed through the stage of sensation and the appearance, and think of nothing except the mundane greatness and splendor, while knowing nothing of the Divine Invisible Greatnesses, we have to look at Allah's Presence [mahdar] as we look at a great sultan's presence whose greatness has been realized by the heart, informing it that all kinds of greatness, majesty and glory are but manifestations of the greatness of the heavenly world which have descended to this world, and the heavenly world ['ālam-i malakūt] is of little importance compared with the invisible worlds.
Thus, we are to inform the heart that the world is the Sacred Presence of Allah, the Exalted, since He, the Glorified, is Present at all places and spaces, especially the Salat which is a special permission for attending the Presence, and a special date for meeting and intimacy with Allah, the Exalted. Now, having incited the heart to feel the Greatness and the Presence, even if at the beginning it was not so easy to do so, the heart gradually becomes familiar with it, and the imagery becomes real.
So, by observing the formal disciplines of dealing with the King of the kings and the Sultan of the sultans, and applying the disciplines of the apparent Presence, the heart will also be affected and will feel the greatness, and will gradually attain man's desired results. Similarly, inciting love and adoration can be achieved by means of perseverance and austerity.
So, at the beginning, one should exhibit the formal mercies and sensual blessings of Allah, the Exalted, to the heart, and then introduce to it the state of Mercifulness, Compassionateness and Bountifulness, until the heart gradually becomes intimate, and the exterior affects the interior, and the kingdom of the interior is illuminated by the effects of the Beauty, and then the desired results will be achieved.
If a man carried out the matter and strove in the way of Allah, the Exalted, He would help him and save him by His invisible hand from the darkness of the world of nature, and would throw the light of His Beauty to the dark earth of his heart, and turn him into a spiritual heaven:
“And whoever does a good deed, We add unto its good for him. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Thankful.”4
- 1. Wasā'il ash-Shī'ah, vol. 1, “Book of Purity,” sec. on “Preliminaries to Worships,” ch. 19, hadīth 2, p. 61, quoted from the Messenger of Allah (s).
- 2. Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 75, “Book of ar-Rawdah,” ch. 25, hadīth 1, p. 309, as cited from Tuhaf al-'Uqūl.
- 3. Refer to footnote l78
- 4. Sūrah ash-Shūrā 42:23.